August 12, 2010

Dear Random Facebook Person....

.....who is now Facebook friends with 1/2 of my Facebook friends, but who I have never met. Here is my Friending Policy: At least one meaningful, in person encounter before I Facebook friend, please.....

It's a little like a watch this heretofore unknown person "friending" your friends, first one, then two, then 6 or 10. And then they decide that I am worth friending. Almost invariably, this is a person who is trolling for a network to sell or promote something. No thanks....

New Media vs. Old Media

A not so happy story from down in Essex - there was a fire at the CT River Museum last night. The Middletown Press seems to have the best coverage so far: Fire at Conn. River Museum may have destroyed historic artifacts

One of my clients is the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, so I'm familiar with the CT River Museum as a tourism partner - which drew my attention last night. I did a bit of web surfing, dropped by Twitter, and watched the 11 pm news. WTNH's Jamie Muro was on site, but was not able to get close enough, quickly enough to catch the fire on video.

The Middletown Press, on the other hand, rocks it in terms of integrating text, photos, and video, and really documenting the heck out of this story better than anyone else on the web. Their coverage seems to be entirely generated by one reporter (Lauren Flaum), with a camera that captured video. WTNH - needing to set up a Sat Truck and Camera Crew, was unable to get close enough to really cover this as it happened (Mr. Muro noted in his first stand-up that he would have to walk over to see what was happening and would be back later in the newscast) - but Ms. Flaum (on foot, light, and mobile) from the Press got right in there, got some photos and video of the fire itself, and some eyewitness interviews.

Just an interesting example of "how the new media works vs. how the old media is limited"

And from the Press article: ‎"At one point as firefighters hammered away at the roof, a cluster of bats was disturbed and fluttered away into the dark night sky."

It's the little poetic touches....heh.

August 11, 2010

Staining the Deck

Spent a couple of days working outside - staining the deck on the back of my condo. As I came back from folk fest and was washing yoga mats, I noticed the deck was not particularly well suited to bare feet (rough surface, popped nailheads) so it was due.

Just the right size project - not too many hours, not too much major work. I pulled a warped bench apart for scrap, I drove in all the loose / popped nailheads, I scrubbed the deck down with prep solution. The railing was a bit challenging (lots of vertical poles / risers) and the outside needed a small ladder (borrowed from Zippy). One coat on most of the deck; two coats on the top of the railing and the deck itself. I stained the underside risers and supports but not the underside of the deck itself.

Although I live in a condo, it's sort of a hybrid (four units, the condo fee is minimal) so we do a lot of the little outside projects ourselves. I've noticed that the three other decks are in various states of stain / paint, so figured this was a "do it yourself" project.

Felt good to be doing physical work - although the engineering work is queued up. There is something to be said for having a project, digging in, getting sweaty, dirty, and a little sore - and then being finished. Hopefully, I'll be motivated to use the desk a little bit more....dining, cooking, hanging out.....

August 04, 2010

A Real Job

It's been a LONG time since I had the sort of job where one drives to the office in the morning, sits at a desk for a more or less traditional workday, and drives back home at the end of the day. December 7, 1995, if I recall correctly.

Wednesday and Thursday, I headed down to work with a client as they launch ticket sales for a big seasonal event - traditionally the first few days of sales are pretty crazy (we sold close to 10,000 tickets today) and there are lots of opportunities to muck it up - overselling, not cutting off sales fast enough, losing orders, pissing off customers. Near as I can tell, today was a huge success, in part because of changes made this year vs. last, one of which was that I was onsite keeping a very close eye on internet sales, updating the website, tracking ticket sales, etc.

But goodness - is that what work is? Going in for 8-9 hours, sitting at a desk, taking a quick break now and then, framed by a 45 minute commute on either end? Yeah, there was some lovely banter and fun with co-workers, but we had the excitement of an "event" to keep things fresh - a 2-3 day push to answer the phones, move the tickets, and make things happen. I'm certain that a regular workday is far less engaging.

In any case, it's a nice change of pace (and I'll get to bill for my time) but you can keep that 9-5 workday, the organization gig. 15 years of self employment have spoiled me for corporate work.....

In the meantime, I'm off the grid again tomorrow.....

A Beehive of Activity

I'm camped out (figuratively, I better add that considering how many nights I slept in a tent in July) in Essex CT for a couple of days. We've starting selling tickets for the 2010 North Pole Express down at the Essex Steam Train, one of my clients.

My job:

a) Monitor online ticket sales, using some extensive email filters that drop individual orders into a folders by departure date and time

b) Shut off online ticket sales as needed

c) Keep a tally of online sales plus group / walk-in sales

d) Monitor the Facebook page for customer feedback and to post updates

e) be here "just in case" we have issues with the ticket sales, website, etc.

Last year, the ticket sales could best be described as a FIASCO - with the railroad folks unable to keep up with the flood of online orders. This year, by pulling the most popular Saturday sales offline (phone orders only) and bringing me in to track the remainder of online orders, things are going much more smoothly.

August 02, 2010

Digging Out

I am not a neat and tidy person. At my best, my living quarters might be described as functional, with an emphasis on efficiency as I stack yoga mats, musical instruments, and various other props for hobbies within reach.

But during July, my abode dropped off into utter chaos. Between a bunch of Guinea Pigs gigs, a week in Montana, and a week at folk fest, I had a lot going on. I headed out to Montana hustling to finish up work, not a lot of time to clean the house or pack thoughtfully. When I got back from Montana, the bags hit the floor, the laundry hit the machines, and I scurried to catch up on work in the 4 days before Falcon Ridge. Once more, I packed in a hurry and scampered out the door without much organization, and returned with a packed car full of camping gear, clothes, yoga props, and miscellany that was again dumped onto the floor. So as of last week, I had officially moved from clutter to squalor.

I've been slowly digging out. Last might, in between Mad Men commercials and afterwards, I slowly cleaned the kitchen - the table (a horizontal surface, fiar game for piling) is now bare save my coffee mugs and a vase of flowers. The dishes are caught up, the counters and stove clean, the floor swept and mopped. A few spots could use some organizing (the tupperware drawer, the spice bin) and some cleaning (the fridge) but in general, I have a livable kitchen.

I scrubbed the tub as well; and ran some drain cleaner down there (not sure if the slow drain was a clog or just the drain being flaky). The bathrooms are on the list for a thorough cleaning, as are stairs. I vacuumed the basement steps for the first time since I moved in, the stairs to the second floor get more attention but are still overdue. Living room, bedroom, yoga room. The whole place needs a good straightening up and cleaning, and I'm starting to nibble away at it.

I also tore out a useless (warped and too low) bench on the back porch in preparation for a good cleaning and staining; need to pick up a scrub brush and ladder from Zippy. Picked up a can of rustoleum as well for the porch railing (with $100 a month condo fee, we do a lot of the little upkeep ourselves, which is an OK trade in my book)

After a month of fairly frenetic activity, August seems to be a bit more quiet - a good month to get my living space neatened and cleaned, and perhaps think about painting, redoing the rugs, etc.

Haying the Field

Elo and I headed over to Deming-Young farm this afternoon for a walk, only to find three vehicles moving through the fields. Two mowers, and a hay baler, were making short work of the season's growth of grass.

It felt kind of sad - a visceral transition from the hopeful new growth of spring to the inevitable harvest. The long grass which had all season sheltered nesting bobolinks and red-winged blackbirds was now close shorn. Two opportunistic hawks circled the field, perhaps looking for unfledged chicks or small mammals left vulnerable in the hay piles, as barn and tree swallows swooped across the fields, perhaps feasting on insects shaken into the air.

The place seemed suddenly different, more civilized and less wild. AS the summer wore on, it was easy to get lost in a corner of the field, hidden from other dog walkers by waist high grass, the dogs restricted to a narrow pathway. Now, suddenly, the entire field seems accessible.

Still, some beauty and color in the midst of human endeavor.