Hardest part…

Sitting here at the tire place with nothing but time on my hands reminds me how much I despise sitting around just waiting for things to happen. Aside from the unhappy series of events that led me here this morning, the last 36 hours have mostly been about waiting; waiting for people to do things they said they would do a week ago; waiting for hundreds of pages of handouts to churn out of the printer; and for the other shoe to inevitably drop.

Now that I have plenty of things that need done, I’m waiting again this morning and my schedule is purely in the hands of other people once again. Of course sitting here watching the torrential rain gives me a chance to think about the 20 cases of paper products sitting in the back of the truck and wonder just how well the “watertight” bedcover will actually perform. Any results less good than “wow its really dry back here” will tend to ruin my next six days.

I’ve still got a laundry list of things I need to get done today and the clock is running. The later in the morning it gets, the faster it seems to run. I suppose I’ll feel a bit better when I get the dogs to the kennel this afternoon. In the meantime I need to get serious about making everything else ready to be on the road for a while. In order to even get to that point, though, they need to get these damned tires on the truck and get me back up and moving. Sitting here while time’s wasting is making me crazy.

Event planner…

Work in the bureaucracy long enough and you’re bound to pick up tips and tricks that will help you navigate out there in the deep waters. If I can impart any small bit of advice at the moment is it this: If anyone ever talks about needing you as part of a team planning a conference, kick them in the junk. Repeatedly. And then run away. No good can come from this project. It is evil and accursed; very truly an unclean thing.

The schedule will never be final, speakers will drop out at the last minute, senior leaders will decide to change their entire theme two days before the thing starts, and others will just ignore your request to get their material in advance. You, of course, will get the blame for those things that go horribly wrong, while others will get the credit for what goes right. It’s the definition of a no-win situation where you will have responsibility for everything, but authority over nothing. Your default response to everything in life will be to sigh heavily and rub the bridge of your nose in a futile effort to make the headache go away.

If you do ever have the misfortune of finding yourself in this position, just get use to the fact that everything will go wrong. It’s like Murphy’s Law on steroids with a side order of PCP. And your reward for a job well done? You get an invitation back to do it all over again for the next conference.

*Sigh* Has anyone seen my ibuprofen? Or my Pepto? Or my coffee?

I wonder…

Sometimes I just have to stop and wonder why I’m putting as much emphasis as I do on certain things. Sure, I mean there’s the pride of a job well done and all, but I’m forced to wonder exactly what part of the universe would come crashing down on my head if I gave it a rest for a while.

For all my protestations of not giving a &?$@, I tend to put a premium on getting things done right. Right now I would really love to put that away for just a while and take things as they come without feeling the overwhelming desire to fix them in some way. The rest of the world seems to get along ok with halfassing everything. Why shouldn’t I get the same opportunity? What’s the worst that could happen if I really did find a way to turn that switch off? I mean, hell, they can’t shoot me and no one has ever been drawn and quartered for being a slacker.

It’s a happy fantasy, but I know that’s not going to happen. It’s not the way I’m wired. And as much as I’d like to toss in the towel and say the hell with everything I’m not sure I’d even know how to do that and make it stick. So instead of doing what I want to do and making a big bloody stink, I’ll drift off to sleep, get up with the 4:30 alarm, and do it all over again tomorrow. I’ll screw on my best British stiff upper lip and keep it that way until I retire, hit that PowerBall jackpot, or someone finally drives my blood pressure into stroke territory.


Note: Before you continue, please take a moment and review my “Disclaimer” page. Posts like this one are the reason the disclaimer has its own page.

Every organization, regardless of size, has a “climate.” Defined another way, climate is the general attitude that pervades the workplace. We’ve all worked for organizations that were working well at one point or another – where good things just seemed to happen. The opposite is also true: It’s the reverse-Midas effect… where everything you touch turns to shit. That’s a long way of saying that there are certain indicators of general organizational health… and that people are usually well-served by paying attention to those indicators.

Want to know how well your organization is really operating? Look to issues like the level of trust within the organization (i.e. can you rely on the guy sitting next to you to deliver in the clutch), how well the organization communicates vertically and horizontally, the level of job satisfaction of your personnel, and if you are able to retain good people once you have them. If you find you’re having problems in more than one of these areas, you guessed it… Your climate sucks.

If you want to actually put your house in order, the way to do that isn’t in simply pushing harder and expecting more… it’s in addressing the root cause of why these issues are cropping up in the first place. Sometimes it’s a structural problem that can be addressed with a shuffle of the org chart, other times it may be a manpower problem (and that doesn’t always mean needing more people). Sometimes it means finding the right people, losing the wrong ones, or some combination of the two. Other times it may mean giving your best performers the room they need to operate effectively. And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes it means some people need to be reigned in more effectively. The solution can’t be to just ignore the issues or you’re going to break your people and break the organization.

I’ll not claim to be a great leader, as I tend to think most of what’s written about leadership is pure bunk. And while it will probably never be my strong point, I know enough about leadership and institutional dynamics to know when it isn’t being done right. All you have to do is watch how people act and listen to what they say when they think no one is listening. If you’re a leader, it will be eye opening… and if you’re a bad one, well, I guess it won’t make all that much difference anyway.

Lack of interest…

If you’ve been following along lately, you’ve probably noticed the drop off in posts. It’s not so much that there isn’t anything going on as it is that none of those things seems particularly blog-worthy. That’s saying something when the basic premise of the whole endeavor basically covers whatever random garbage pops into my head.

Mostly it’s been the daily stuff keeping me busy and none of that is too dramatic. Then there’s the work stuff… And that’s basically a never ending stream of drama. Most of that, though, will never make it here. Of course some of the next two weeks may prove to be material too good to pass up. There’s no telling until it happens, of course, but with so many people who make me crazy all in the same room epic ranting seems inevitable really.


Not so very long ago I went on at length about the virtue of paper books and why I wouldn’t be in line to buy an e-reader. Funny thing about that pronouncement… I may have gotten it a bit wrong. It’s true that I didn’t get in line for an e-reader, but I did get in line for a device that comes with an e-reader… And I’m finding that I find it a disturbingly easy way to digest my fill of whatever books I happen to be interested in. I’ve been starting off slowly with some of the free public domain titles, but purchased my first $9.99 title last night and so far have enjoyed the flexibility of having a book on my iPad, iPhone or laptop. It’s a convenience at times when a paper book would prove to be inconvenient or simply an added and unnecessary weight.

One thing to understand is that I don’t think ebooks will ever fully replace the printed word for me. I still enjoy the way a book feels in my hands and the way they look on a shelf. It just might replace the collection of books that go on the road with me, though. The way I pack, anything to cut down on what ends up in my carry on is a good thing… And I think the Kindle app might just have won me over as a serious travel partner.

It’s not all sunshine and lollypops, of course. There is the issue of glare and poor visibility in direct sunlight that needs to be accounted for, but on balance I’m finding it to be a reasonable tradeoff between those inconveniences and easy of use/portability. The real test will be how it handles when it’s on the road… So I’ll have my verdict soon enough.

Posted from iPad.

A good sleep…

I’m starting to think that I would give up my right arm to get a really good night’s sleep. I honestly can’t remember when I had one last. I’m technically asleep, I suppose, but these last few weeks it has seemed anything but restful. If anything, I wake up more bleary eyed than the night before. Nothing has changed, my patterns are all the same as they were back in the glorious days when sleep was actually something to look forward to. If I’m going to be this tired all the time, I’d rather just stay awake. Then it would at least I could make the nights at least somewhat productive and I’d understand why I can barely keep my eyes open at three in the afternoon. All I’d really like at this point is one good night’s sleep… if only to keep me from getting more irritated at things in general than I am by default.

An Ambien or a few stiff drinks at bedtime would probably do the trick, but I don’t particularly want to go that route. Absent some other alternative, I suppose the next little while is going to be sleepy and grumpy. Five more and I’ll have a whole friggin’ set of dwarves.

Not quite a replacement…

There’s not a lot more I can say about the iPad that I haven’t covered already. I’m still pretty enamored with this little wonder and think it’s probably getting all the good press it deserves. The biggest thing I’ve found missing is connectivity with the cloud. Some of that is a limitation of the wifi model and some of it is built into the way the device works. I’ve got email and contacts syncing OTA, but support for Google Docs would be a big step towards making it my go-to device for most general applications. Still, I suspect that will come in time. The only other element I’ve found lacking so far is Apple’s perennial denial of multitasking. With heavy use of word processing and other productivity apps, that’s going to be a must add in a future OS build. Hopefully we’ll see that sooner rather than later. With Apple set to formally announce iPhone OS 4 tomorrow, it’s possible that some relief is on the way.

The only other thing vie discovered that does’t work as well as I had hoped was navigating some of my particular e-shopping venues. All of my payment and shipping info autofills on my laptop but doesn’t seem to be following suite with iPad. Of course that may just be user error. The learning curve here isn’t as steep as one might imagine, but I know I’m not getting as much out of my new favorite electronic sidekick as I could be. Gutting to the top of that curve remains a work in progress.


As a techie, I’m not ashamed to admit that there are plenty of toys I’ve purchased on the spur of the moment only to find the buyer’s remorse the next day to be almost overwhelming. Happily, iPad is not one of these. If anything, the more I’ve used it over the last 24 hours, the more I enjoy it and the more things I find to do with it. The biggest challenge so far is remembering not to reach for the mouse when I want to navigate somewhere on the web. That seems to be a muscle memory thing that will “fix” itself in time, however. For all the talk of not supporting flash, I haven’t been overly troubled by it. Of course I tend to value text rather than video for the most part and iPad renders text beautifully, whether your viewing a website or updating a blog. I wanted a device that would replace the folio notebook and yellow pad that I currently carry everywhere, and as I get more adept with the iPad, I think I might just have found it. I’ll be quite interested to see how it handles a day at the office. Now I just need to talk the powers that be into getting the building set up with wifi.

No version 1.0 product is perfect and the expected flaws apply here as well. The first, and perennial issue that plagues mobile Apple products, is the lack of multitasking. Adding that would deliver iPad as a real laptop replacement. I’m also still trying to figure out exactly how/why I’d manage my photos on the iPad. Images I want to share usually go directly to the web, so I don’t see this as a show stopper in that regard. But a better way to sync pictures between your home-based computer, iPhone, and iPad seem like a bit of a no-brainer. Hopefully that will be addressed in future updates. Perhaps the biggest issue that I’ve found isn’t with the device itself, but with the way I’ve learned to think. With the iPhone, the standard response has always been “there’s an app for that,” mainly because the screen size limited the utility of performing some function on the web (ever try using the “regular” Facebook website on a mobile device?) and an app as built to make that function more “do-able.” With iPad, I’m finding less need for specific apps, because standard websites are just more useable. As a result, I’ve dumped many of my old iPhone apps in favor of going direct-to-web. Remembering that I don’t necessarily need an app for everything has been a challenge. As more iPad-specific apps become available, though, I expect that gap will close.

So that’s my 24 hour hands-on review. I’m anticipating that it just gets better from here.

First thoughts…

Wow. Just wow. “Magical” might be a tough sell, but this is one sweet, sweet piece of technology. It’s responsive and feels very solid in your hand. It’s a lot heavier than you expect when you first see it. The display is crisp and really something you need to see to appreciate. The pictures, even the HD pictures, don’t do it justice. Typing is quite easy, but requires some adaptation, as iPad is too big to follow the tried and true thumb-type formula. Battery life is good so far… Down 10% after an hour of hard use. Setup through iTunes was predictably simple. Looking forward to playing with some new apps this afternoon and really putting it through its paces. If you’re on the fence about the OEM case, it’s working well and adds minimal bulk. Fully folded, it makes typing in landscape a breeze. More reviews to follow, of course.

Posted via iPad.