Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Swear I Didn't Eat Anything Spicy or Drink!!!

I haven't even watched Pitch Black or The Chronicles of Riddick in over a week! And yet, for some reason, I dreamed last night that I was dating Vin Diesel.  Very strange  He seemed very shy and rather sheepish to stop by wherever it was I was working (not an office I recognized) to take me out to lunch. Somewhat surprisingly for something involving Vin Diesel, there were no car chases, no gunfire and no explosions. If there was any smooching going on, I have no recollection of it now.  I have vague memories of there being some sort of storyline associated with us dating (how we met, etc), but it faded rapidly upon waking.  As rarely as I recall having dreams at all, it was a pretty relaxing and pleasant dream as far as I can remember.  Sure beats dreaming my room has filled up with water and there are sharks circling.

The Deluge May Have Ended!
Well, maybe.  For the past two weeks or so, it has rained at least part of every day, including today.  No rain is predicted for tomorrow, but who knows if that will actually come to pass.  I had intended to mow my lawn after running errands this morning, but there was a heavy rain during my errands, which blew that plan.  I probably could have mowed by the end of the afternoon, but I can just as easily do it tomorrow afternoon and give the lawn an extra day to dry out a bit more.  There's a fog advisory for tomorrow morning.  I'll have to see if I can take some good photos just after the sun comes up.

Things at work have been piling up and piling up.  I like a challenge and I like to work hard, but there is only so long that I can struggle against insurmountable loads. My goal is no longer to get ahead with the tasks I need to do.  Lately my goal has been to not get any further behind.  I'm steadily losing that battle and told that things need to be done faster, which, if you ask me, isn't a good sign. Shortly after the decision was made that influenza test results would get put into the computer (despite the fact that we can't query them since they're classified as "not reportable"), I pointed out that I would need data entry help if I was going to just keep up with the weekly influx, nevermind clear the 250+ report backlog.  Well, the influx has picked up a bit.  And so have the other responsibilities I normally do.  I'm getting further and further behind, even though I spend 5-7 extra hours a week at the office (staying late, skipping lunch, etc).  Since I can't get paid overtime and there's no way for me to adjust my work week to compensate for that extra time (because taking time off would defeat the purpose of the extra time anyway and I'd be just as far behind as I was before), I'm starting to get cranky about it.  (Yes, I have asked if I can get paid for the extra time since there are federal dollars available to pay health department staff for influenza outbreak-related overtime work.  I got told no. Apparently that money is just for nurses and clerks. I'm not sure how my data entry work doesn't somehow qualify as clerk-like, but apparently it doesn't.)

I've asked for help for three weeks now and have stated that even putting in extra hours I am unable to keep up with the things that have to be done.  And I've asked if I can at least get compensated for the extra time since there are federal dollars available for the purpose of paying our staff extra money for extra time being put in on this influenza outbreak.  A potential person to help me has finally been identified, but then we have to come up with training time (another thing to put on my To Do list).  Yes, this person may be good with computers. I don't doubt that. What concerns me isn't navigating around the web interface, but rather entering in the data correctly.  If the data isn't going to be entered in correctly, there's no point in having someone else enter it for me since I'll just have to go back and correct it later.

So I'm fairly burned out at the moment.  I'll be out of the office for 2 1/2 days next week at a meeting, which means I'll be probably 4 days behind by the end of the week, assuming the current rate of work accumulation and assuming nothing big changes between now and then.  I am looking forward to the meeting and to talking with colleagues about how they're managing things.  Perhaps I'll get some ideas from them how to handle the 2-2.5 person workload.  I'm working hard to keep a good attitude, but lately the attitude has been sliding downhill as fast as my To Do pile is growing.  This weekend I have been focusing on regaining my center and balance.  Perhaps I will regain it by Monday and manage to retain it the whole week.  To that end, I spent part of today hanging out at the bookstore, browsing knitting magazines and books. I waved at the International Space Station when it flew right over the top of my house and right now I'm sitting in my comfy chair drinking Sleepytime tea, knitting a hat and watching Ben-Hur (uncut and letterboxed).  The only thing I lack is Vin Diesel rubbing my feet.

I am a leaf on the wind - watch how I soar....


Random Photo #2

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where to Start....

There is so much going on all at once that it's hard to figure out where to begin.  I spent Labor Day weekend visiting Twitchh in the Tri-Cities, WA area.  I'll post about that separately (with pictures).

On the Job Front....
The federal government job I interviewed for in July has been offered to someone else, though I have been encouraged to keep checking the website and to definitely apply again.  There's still a chance that the security clearance for the new hire will fail and the job will once again be open.  (Not holding my breath on that, but it's a chance.)  I'm considering learning a foreign language of interest so as to boost my chances of being hired in the future.  I don't, however, really need a new thing to do at the moment, as you'll soon see.

Last week I interviewed for a job with the central office in Nashville.  I have already worked with the folks involved and when I said I was interested in the position, they said I'd be ideal for the job.  A few days later I got a call out of the blue from a different central office person telling me about a different job with her group and asking me if I'd be interested in that position.  The first job would mostly be working with vector-borne disease stuff, but also with zoonotic and food-borne diseases.  The second job would primarily be as the state's public health informatics coordinator but also working with the viral hepatitis program and other epidemiology projects to fill the time.  Both positions will start in October.

Now I'm smack in the middle of a quandary. Do I pick the vector-borne disease job (which is where my academic background is and which I enjoy very much) or do I pick the geeky, techy job (which I also enjoy very much and which is also a huge growth area for future prospects)?  The first job is an executive-service position while the second is a civil-service position. Exactly what that means, I do not know, but will have to find out.  I think that's a minor detail, however.  I get along well with both groups of people and would enjoy working with either of them.  I wonder if it would be possible to somehow combine the two positions.  The informatics coordinator tasks are not a full-time thing, so the extra would be filled by other responsibilities.  I wonder if that extra could be filled by the vector-borne crew....  I'll have to ask that on Monday.

Regardless of which job I pick, the gist of the situation is that I'll be moving to Nashville. Soon. That means getting back on the express train to decluttering, getting the bits and pieces of home repair tied up, tidying up the landscaping, finding an apartment/house to rent, getting moved and getting my house on the market. Fast.  I don't think I'll get things squared away with the house before the new job starts, however.  I'm expecting to mostly move to Nashville and come back to the house on weekends to continue working on it.  There just isn't enough time to get cleaning/painting *and* decluttering/packing done in the short time frame I expect to have.

To help focus my attention/energies on what needs to be done with the house, I'm making a list for each room in it.  The list will contain both the cleaning/repair tasks and the decluttering/packing tasks for that room.  I'll post the list on or near each room's door so that I can easily see what needs to be done, then check things off as I go. Breaking everything down by room will help keep the whole process from being so overwhelming.  It will also let me see everything at once so I can prioritize appropriately.

One of the things trying to avoid thinking about is plants.  There are a number of things planted here that I would like to take with me.  That will, of course, require having a yard to put them in at the new place.  It would be impossible to have irises, blackberries, raspberries, coreopsis and rose of Sharon in an apartment.  Some of these are plants I brought with me from Illinois and/or were gifts from friends.  I know that the plants aren't my friends, but they're a nice remembrance of them and I'd like to take them along if at all possible.

Of course, at the moment, all I want to do is sit in my comfy chair and drool.  I woke up with a headache this morning.  What I really need to do is weed whack the lawn, overseed the lawn, move some more trees (and maybe some more iris) and close down the pool.  We'll see what actually gets done....

Oh, and to complicate things a wee bit more, while visiting Twitchh last weekend, we each came to the conclusion that we want to live in the same town again.  Basically, it's a matter of life's too short to only see your best friend for a couple of days once or twice a year.  We fit each other like a favorite old sweatshirt and it's way more fun to be around each other.  We put a target deadline of two years from now on this.  Either one or both of us will be moving and we're both ok with that.  He's chatted with the folks at work about hiring me on and things are progressing there too. I don't know how far that will go, but it's a start.

So, what have you been up to?