All in a day’s work

Today, with a sigh and a sense of equal resignation and determination, I finally bit an oft-mocked social media bullet today and joined Second Life.  Yes, I now have a Second Life, even though I’m not sure I have time for my first life (Real Life or RL it seems to be called in SL).  Actually, I KNOW I don’t have time for my real life as my husband is standing in our office doorway and asking if my blogging means we’re not catching up on shows on DVR….

After several conferences, I wanted to confirm my suspicions about interesting corporate meeting opportunities. I used my “non-work related social media” exception at work, read the background and TOS, then downloaded the software, registered, picked a name (WHAT is UP w/having to choose from a pre-selected list of bizarro last names? SL people, you’re not going to have a lot of luck marketing to the rest of the world with that little quirk), picked an Avatar, declined a paid premium account until I can see what this is about… and voila. 

Unfortunately, I only technically have a Second Life. I watched the long, horizontal oval bar very slowly creep through, mentally pausing as it uploaded Avatar attributes — freckles? I don’t remember freckles on her… maybe I’ll be like Kate on “Lost.” In fact, the whole experience is surreal enough to seem as if I’m volunteering for some kind of other world experience. It is, after all, called Second Life and the info about it even talks about setting up islands.  Maybe this is a bad idea.  A lot of those people have ended up dead, and Hurley has already eaten all the peanut butter. This definitely is a bad idea.

But wait!  Here we goooo… woohoo!!! Huh?  Nothing. Well, one little note that our graphics chip is under the recommended minimum (this was my work laptop… I wouldn’t even know how to fix that) and then some verbiage about the connection not working and perhaps I’m not connected to the Internet. Since I was simultaneously on Twitter, MSNBC.com, Summize and our corporate Intranet, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case.

The irony of this was laughable… here I am “caving in” to trying this out (some guy named Anders who spoke at a conference I attended keeps emailing me about this and I remember he had a pretty cool accent) and now I can’t even get to it when I want to.

Maybe this isn’t meant to be… this is some kind of Second Life social media yoda message saying, “The force is with you young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.”  Some kind of mocking of my ever evolving 2.0 self, this constant striving for being up on the newest and latest when I wouldn’t know a SQL from a SSL server.  (Are those even correct?)

All of this led to an even more absurd moment, if that’s possible. To console myself, I grabbed a handful of m&m’s from a neighboring co-worker and proceeded to drop a brown one down the front of my black dress.  I very rarely wear dresses to work, but this is the cutest, most work-oriented Calvin Klein dress w/a tie belt that matches these awesome black slingbacks I have. Perfect if you’re not dropping m&m’s into it…

I spent about 4 minutes wiggling around peering down into the front of it, trying to hold it in a way the light could get in so I could find the dang thing, twisting my waist trying to get that m&m out of there w/o having to take the dress off. Finally the m&m pulled loose of wherever it was stuck and fell to the floor. If anyone was walking by and saw this little dancing scene (and since my office is across from the catwalk, I’m sure at least a few did), I can not imagine the emails about the crazy woman in the 4H wing. Between that and the probable email from Asset Protection that I was playing around on Second Life, I’m sure I provided a great deal of conversation fodder for my co-workers today.

All in a day’s work.

 

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June 25, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar

I’ve been contemplating the term, “social media” lately since I’m so immersed in it and making it happen in my job this year.  I’ve decided it’s not such a useful term when used within corporate frameworks.

Hear me out.

Social… immediate thought is not work related. Social, fun, sociable, maybe even socialist. Whatever it makes you think of first, I’m willing to wager the word SOCIAL is more likely to call to mind a cocktail party than a business meeting.  This may explain the ongoing struggle of social media — which is really all about collaboration, productivity and innovation when dropped into corporate environments — by otherwise relatively visionary leaders and productivity champions in large corporate settings. The name just gets us hung up.

So, I think I’m going to take 30 minutes tomorrow and think of a euphemism for social media I can use with the naysayers and a few (not all) lawyers at work. Yes, we’ve come to this.  But, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it’s not.  Social media is way more valuable than average “media” when dropped inside the firewall. 

Let me know if you have any suggestions, as I’m feeling kinda social.

June 17, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Verbal schrapnel

Today at work the most amazing thing happened.  I actually lived the kind of moment you see on West Wing or 30 Rock that normal working people view and think, “That would never actually happen in the office. People don’t talk like that.”

So, what happened? Basically, one of my co-workers exploded. Partially at me, partially at IT and I think partially at frustration at a lot of 2.0 changes making things move really fast and in really new directions.  It was an absolute shouting outburst on a conference call in which we all could hear him trying to stay calm and failing until finally, in a lava-like flow of expletives, he erupted and then slammed down his phone after shouting he was going to go tell dad his supervisor.

Now, this, this! This is what they used to do on West Wing and other shows, the ones where all the people really pulling together as a team for the greater good have a conflict and they end up working on the issue until they have achieved peace, harmony, professional success or at least a consensus on who to nominate for supreme court justice.

My first reaction was bemused… this was just this guy being this guy.  And hey, I can be like those people on TV and work with it, right? I always thought CJ was super cool. And truly, I believe both he and I and all the others who were on this call are indeed team players and can get some amazing things done. Besides, I have a job to get done for my boss and I don’t have the luxury of letting anxiety slow me down.

But, it turns out time doesn’t heal all wounds and in some case it can make them more evident. While I was unflappable at that moment, a few hours later I was furious and picking at my wounds. In addition to being unwilling to have a two-way conversation, he basically threw a grenade into the call… while we all ducked, it turns out the schrapnel did leave injuries. That’s no way to be part of the team.

These are probably just surface wounds, but people, remember this:  Verbal schrapnel has no place at work and is a bad way to problem solve. 

June 12, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

It’s come to this

If I thought living in the suburbs and driving a minivan gave me opportunity to miss being even remotely cool, I got an even bigger one last night.  Last night, after grocery shopping after the kids bedtime, last night, oh I don’t know if I can bring myself to write it… Last night (wait for it…), last night:

I got snubbed by the grocery-cart-collection girl outside our grocery store last night. 

Yes, I am serious:  the woman-child collecting Jewel’s grocery carts from the parking lot gave me the brush off.  After unloading my groceries, she was collecting the ones in the cart corral (whatever those things are called), and I walked towards her to give her mine.  She literally gave me the cold shoulder as she walked right on by with her line of carts, and I could almost swear there was a defiant fling of the hair. Incredulous, I shouted out after her, asking, like a 6th grader asking the other kids if they’d reconsider letter her play dodgeball, if she wanted mine too. 

She said she didn’t, but I could put it in the holder. 

Huh?

So, I’m trying to figure out if this was a work ethic thing (it was 9:45 at this point) or some snide action towards a nearing-middle age working mom who was still wearing the pants she spilled mocha on earlier that morning.  You make the call.

Here I was so impressed with myself that I managed to work all day AND get my daughter to her ice skating lesson, drop in at the library to register the kids for the summer reading program and take out some books, movies and CDs, pick up prescriptions at Walgreens, drop some bus form at the elementary school’s office, get camp forms filled out at pediatrician’s office and actually make dinner.  For a moment, I was feeling kinda cocky, like some kind of majorly cool, awe-inspiring Alpha Mom.

Thank goodness for the grocery-cart-collecting girls who can remind us of our place in the world.  As said Claudian, alas, the slippery nature of tender youth.

 

June 10, 2008. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Look out first grade

It turns out, the last day of Kindergarten is more emotional than the first. Who knew?

Certainly not I, despite having planned my work trip this week to ensure I’d be home for it. I was more fixated on driving my daughter to the last day of school, ensuring her last day’s lunch was a special one, and scheduling my conference calls perfectly so I could be at the bus stop when she got off for this last time. Between landing at the airport, my sons’ camp parent meeting and rushing to get teacher gift cards last night, I didn’t have time to focus on anything more than the logistics.

Bam! 

This afternoon, she stepped off the bus holding a big brown bag with a pink flyer reading, “Look out first grade. Here I come!”  Physically, it was filled with her writing journal, photos and artwork representing all she’d learned this schoolyear.  I am certain inside was also the specter of the just-past-five-year-old girl she was last September, a tiny thing nervously climbing into the impossibly big yellow school bus who threw a shaky smile over her shoulder before disappearing into its bowels and the seat next to Charlie.

I won’t say it all happened in a blink of the eye, this transition from just-past-toddler to bonafide GIRL.  In some ways, looking back at who she and my sons were then, last September seems long, long ago. Still, somehow, I think much of this time got lost in the logistics.

The logistics of the nanny schedule, the kindergarten enrichment program, the pre-school carpool juggling, the ice skating, the sports classes, the soccer games, the birthday parties, the doctor and dentist appointments between work meetings and conference calls, the long lunch hours to be school Centers mom at least once and work with the room moms for one school party, the Parent Publishing, the school Foundation meetings, the parent-teacher conferences, the meetings with the principal, the school fundraisers, and the scheduling of playdates to which I almost never was the one driving.

Logistics are what make my life workable; focusing on them is so necessary it’s become kind of rhythmic. The minutes between life’s locations become tatooed on the brain so that managing to pull off a trifecta of driving from daughter’s ice skating lesson to sons’ preschool to home office for the start of a team conference call all can be done in 15 minutes if one knows the timing of stoplights at the various intersections.  Managing the details and timing of day-to-day life in our household while simultaneously working is something I’m refining to a kind of art, or perhaps science.

Is the focus on logistics allowing me to manage our life or does it push out the ability to enjoy the spontaneous, to leave time open for whatever may crop up and still enjoy it?  Sometimes, I wonder. But, as I watched my daughter today, I thought we weren’t doing too badly.  This beautiful little girl coming off the school bus with the big brown bag — the one who dashed across the street to get the mail before rushing in the house to make sure she didn’t miss Kimpossible — she had a great year, learned a great many things and made great new friends. 

So here’s to logistics and we moms who manage them. Cheers!

 

June 6, 2008. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

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