September 18, 2006


Well, it's official. Any second now, my brain is going to go *pop* and start leaking out my ears. Reviews are hell. Project-wide, in-depth, magnifier-in-hand reviews run by the NSF are worse. Am I going to survive until November 4th, when (thank the deities) it'll all be over? I sure hope so.

My brain is currently consumed by:
  • Configuration management. Namely, updating our control plans to more accurately and correctly describe what we're actually doing, while being clear enough so that someone can understand that "document and drawing control plan" really is a part of the overall CM plan and is for much more than just use as a doorstop. I begin to wonder if I should change the plain English descriptions to those using more $5 words like the big boys use, but when you get down to it, we're defining the same thing, using the same process, and I know my engineers will understand me. So I'm stickin' with it.
  • Acronyms, abbreviations, and glossary definitions. Damn, do we use a lot of those around here. Keeping track of them all is a bit of a challenge, especially since I have to have two versions (long story).
  • CSS. This one's been the worst by far in a way; I am so fascinated with what I've learned recently (bless Dave Shea and the CSS Zen Garden; I bought the book and have learned SO MUCH about how to really use CSS as more than just a font defining system) that not only am I redesigning MPOW's entire web site in my head, but I find myself lying awake at night and redesigning web sites I've built in the past using proper CSS. (And I'm talking about web sites for companies that went away years ago.) I just can't seem to let it go. I'm dreaming in CSS now. At last... no more forcing the issue with tables and messy markup! I'm so excited. But, of course, I can't really rip apart the web site and redo it all properly until after the review, so I'll just have to sit and twitch until then. I can't wait. I'm also gutting and reworking my high school alumni web site and my Librarian Image site - I even hired a graphic designer to do all new images and designs for it (the latter, not the former; I have artwork from the school for it). I'm so excited! But in the meantime, I gotta get some sleep....
  • Web site CMS's. I know - 100%, for-sure know - that there's a better way to manage MPOW's web sites than what I'm doing. Right now I'm the gateway, and it's all done by hand - with a few special exceptions, noone can change anything on the web site except me. Chances are that's gonna stay the same, for control issues, but dang it, there has to be a better way of managing all the pages than hand-editing them individually. Preparing the web pages for the upcoming review has really, really brought that home to me - it's way past time to investigate my options and maybe implement one of them. If it works well, I can expand it outwards to the other web sites I'm responsible for in the overarching organization.... but there has to be something. I can't use a wiki (although I'm thinking about it for some of our internal pages, where it doesn't matter if one of the engineers posts mechanobabble); I've heard good things about a whole bunch of possibilities and I'm just itching to get at them. I'm going to have such fun after the review, between CMS and CSS research and rewriting - woo hoo! (I've been accused of being "such a geek" for finding this so exciting. So be it!)
  • Database applications. Thanks to the extremely patient explanations of my SQL guru hubbie, I've learned so much about how to manipulate Access to give me what I want. I find using Access' built-in stuff just doesn't ever seem to really give me what I want it to, and I just don't have time to learn VBA right now (see above!) - but learning that I can get into the SQL code, and then using that (which I use for a few other applications anyway), has really made a difference. I can't make it sit up and beg yet, but give me time, and maybe next year I can actually take a class or two in VBA and learn how to make it dance!
  • Briefly, gender in the technology workplace. I never did get that post out, so here's an abbreviated version, way after the fact and probably on a topic that's already dumped from everyone's bit buckets, but I gotta get it out of my head anyway! I used to think (and joke) that I worked in a building full of old white men, but when I really looked around I realized that I actually seem to work in a pretty darned forward organization. In just my part of the NSO world, there's me, of course, the systems librarian and all-around IT go-to gal, and our enclosure engineer is a woman (hey, you can't tell me that mechanical engineering is any less male-centric than IT, I won't believe you.). The Project Managers for two other major divisions of NSO are women, and on one of them, more than half the programming team are women. There are several female tenure-track scientists. The computer system supervisor for NOAO is a woman (we rent space from NOAO and all our email, etc., comes through their mail server). So, basically, I'm damned lucky and know it... it's been a very, very long time since I've had to stand up to a guy about my knowledge base and I don't think the thought would even cross the minds of my coworkers now. (Also they know I'd come at them with my LART.)
And, heck, this doesn't even go into the stuff going on at home - we've been working (forever, it seems) on replacing the floor in the house, and hit a major milestone this weekend. And my son is just growing and blossoming and throwing temper tantrums every day - spending time with him is of paramount importance. Heck, who needs sleep!

I think the monsoon has, sadly, ended; it's currently a lovely 86° with 19%Rh. I've got my window open! (I love having a window.)

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