Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jelly Befriends New Fuzzy

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this is Jelly the cat with her fuzzy toy in her mouth. It took several weeks, but last month Jelly finally gave up the search for her long lost fuzzy and ceased shunning the other fuzzy. She has since treated it as if it is her own baby. We don't know how the old (nearly identical) fuzzy was lost. It was never found.

At first, Jelly pined for it and wouldn't have anything to do with the other fuzzy. But eventually she saw the light and everything is back to normal at home. She carries her fuzzy around in her mouth, tail held high, as if to say, "Mine."

Yesterday I finally got to spend time with my family after nearly a month. We shared a lunch of Dim Sum and celebrated August birthdays. Work has been brutally busy, so I haven't had a full weekend off in nearly a month. Our team is so severely understaffed that most of us are working OT just to keep up with day-to-day tasks. We have mentioned it to our boss on a number of occasions, but the budget is tight and the only thing he can do is pledge that we will work "smarter" going forward.

For those who have not spent a lot of time in the corporate world, "working smarter" is the de facto management answer to doing more with less. In reality it is just a euphemism for "work more hours and have less fun." But I'm used to it. It's been this way for as long as I've been in the technology business post-Microsoft. At Microsoft I don't recall suffering resource issues. Ever. Of course, that comes from perpetually having billions of cash at hand.
Recessions are tough on everyone.

To compound the stress of overwork, my nephew Jason is doing his second tour in Afghanistan right now. I have to admit, though, his positive attitude is what sustains our family through this worrisome time. Imagine wearing heavy combat gear in the 130-degree desert heat while conducting patrols from inside the stifling steel encasing of a Humvee. Now imagine that the AC is broken in your Humvee. Keep in mind you cannot roll down the windows in a military vehicle of this sort. There is no moving air.

Set your kitchen oven on 200 degrees, crawl inside, and close the door.

Personally, I wouldn't last five minutes in those circumstances. Jason has been subjected to such torment since early June. Bless his heart. But Jason has come to accept what he calls this "medieval torture device," indicating that it comes in handy when they have to give rides to people they don't like. On the bright side, says Jason, "At least I don't have to worry about getting fat on this deployment."

Making matters worse this summer was my four major dental treatments and having to postpone my long-awaited July beach vacation. Of course, the thousands I had to shell out for all this work only added insult to injury.

So it's been a tough summer.

But things brightened up a couple weeks ago when my sister's teenage son Connor produced a video short that took the grand prize in a Clean the Air Tennessee advertising campaign. We are all so proud of Connor. The prize nets him $1,000 plus a matching grant to his school.

To view Connor's 30-second video that encourages motorists to stop idling, go to the Mission Emissions web site and click the YouTube link for the grand prize winner.

Way to go, Connor!