december 2008

The family left early Sunday morning, so we got a nice restful day to recover before going back to work. It was a pretty decent Thanksgiving—my food came out well and we had a pleasant outing to Harper's Ferry on Saturday. After the last few months, I could really use several weeks off, but I think I'm recharged enough to get through the next few weeks when the Christmas holidays will give me another break.

It's either "OK" or "okay", not "Ok". Okay?

Our office party planner sent out an announcement yesterday that, despite the negative tone the event has taken in recent years, we would be continuing our tradition of doing a yankee swap gift exchange where people bring in crap from around the house instead of buying an actual gift that someone might want to receive. So I've decided just not to attend this year.

I've participated once (it was ugly, but not terrible, and I walked away with a tea kettle in exchange for the photo print that I brought), and I've sat through it a couple of other times, but the items most people bring in are just crap and so everyone gets focused on stealing the one or two items that are halfway decent from one another every round, and it's really not pleasant to watch.

It's just totally against the Christmas spirit, which I'm finding it harder to get into every year anyway, and I don't want to have anything to do with the negativity and cutthroat scheming that my fellow officemates engage in so they can walk away with a bottle of wine instead of a ceramic statue leftover from someone's wedding. The only people who come out of the room happy are the ones who end up with one of the decent gifts; everyone else leaves disappointed or angry at their coworkers; no one really thinks it's fun. So it's just better that I don't attend at all, even if I'm not planning to participate. There are already enough divisions among the various parts of our staff; I don't really get why we're trying to create more, especially right as we're heading into the most stressful part of our year.

So much to think about and so little to say...

I look forward to Fridays way too much these days. Things have settled down a bit at work, but things are very hectic with lots of small, immediate tasks interspersed with the bigger projects we're trying to finish, we still haven't hired a new person to replace the woman who left in May, and now illnesses are starting to make the rounds. I hardly got sick at all our first year in the new building, but I tend to internalize stress and have it come out as sickness, and the last few months have given me several days where I've felt absolutely miserable.

I'll have a good week or so off after Christmas this year though, even after our visits to various parts of the family, so I'm hoping that we'll get most of our issues resolved before the holidays and I can use that time to recuperate before returning to work in January, when I'll turn my attention to actually reading applications instead of building the technology to support the reading process. It will be nice to have that change of pace; it's always a refreshing change, and it should be especially so this year.

Caught Mission: Impossible III on cable this weekend, and even though I'm actually kind of a fan of the franchise and I'm a big fan of J.J. Abrams (the trailer for his upcoming take on Star Trek looks amazing, and I'm of course I love Lost), it was underwhelming. The story was nonsensical, even more than is typical for the M:I movies, Philip Seymour Hoffman never registered properly as a villain, and I just didn't buy the whole family aspect that was the core of the story. Plus Cruise's wife looked like recent vintage Michael Jackson when the light hit her just right, and that kept creeping me out.

Now that I'm temporarily out of television series to watch on Netflix, I'm working my way through some movies from the past few years that I've been meaning to watch, and M:I III was on that list, but it has now been removed.

Tuesdays have turned into my day of meetings. I'm guaranteed at least two hours of meetings, and I often end up with another one or two hours on top of that. Most of the meetings are at least somewhat productive, but I always walk out the door at the end of the day feeling like I didn't get anything done.

Haven't talked much about toys recently, partly because I feel like I haven't bought too many in the last few months, but over Thanksgiving I stopped by Atomic POP and picked up both sets of Kozik's Christmas bombs, which are holiday versions (clear green and red and clear gold and silver) of the Anarchy twin pack he released earlier this year. If they weren't so expensive—and now sold out—I'd seriously consider repurposing these as actual Christmas tree ornaments.

I also picked up the two 7 inch plush labbits that Kidrobot released a couple of months ago. I'm still hoping for the huge plush labbits that Kozik had prototypes of a year and a half ago, but the instruction tags on these two smaller models are priceless.

For the moustache plush labbit:

How to take care of Labbit:

Keep Labbit dry, he hates baths.

Don't overfeed Labbit,
he will only get lazy and chubby.

Don't let Labbit watch too much television.

Keep Labbit away from the stove or the fireplace,
his fur is enough to keep him warm.

Pet Labbit every day so he doesn't
get lonely and run away to join the circus.

For the smorkin plush labbit:

User Instructions:

Using one or both hands, grip Labbit
firmly and apply directly against the affected area.
Repeat until relief is felt or strangers begin to stare.

Do not expose Labbit to liquids or fire.

Fire is bad.

Labbit is a plush, and is not suitable for industrial
applications, high altitude flight, or maritime rescue.

Keep Labbit dry, he hates baths.

I don't normally leave tags on toys, but there's no way I'm throwing those away.

The world is full of so many unexpected things...

We mail our Early Decision letters on Monday, and for the most part the process has gone well given that we are using an entirely new system that affects the way we process, read, and decision applications. The mail packets will be prepared this weekend, but there's really not much else about the process that involves the new system, so I'm cautiously considering this implementation a success and preparing for a relatively smooth Regular Decision read, which I'll participate in as a reader as I have for the past three years.

Although I think the technology is great because it makes us much faster and more efficient in many ways, as a reader I have some trepidation. I actually like reading paper files; I was an english major, I've spent a good amount of time at the Walters rare books room, and I have a real appreciation for the tactile experience of reading things on paper. There are people who are far more resistant to both technology and change than I am who seem happy with the new process, so I'm sure I'll adapt quickly, but I have a sentimental attachment to my old process, and there will definitely be things about it I miss. But what can you do? Onward.

A close family member is having surgery today after being diagnosed with an illness only a week ago. If you have any spare good thoughts lying around, my whole family would appreciate it if you would send them her way.

Early Decision went pretty well this year, which makes me feel a little more relaxed heading into the holiday break, because ED is usually a good predictor of how things will go during Regular Decision. So I'm less stressed about things going wrong with the new system during RD, even though we'll be dealing with 15,000 applications instead of just 1000.

The medical procedure for my family member went reasonably well, although it took a little longer than expected. The recovery is probably going to take a while and be a bitch to get through, but hopefully she'll be home by the weekend and able to start slowly returning her life to normal. Things can change so fast—just over a week ago she was seemingly healthy and had no clue that she'd be where she is today. But she's getting the best care in the world and she has a great support network, so hopefully her recovery will be fast and she'll be back to normal before too long.

It doesn't feel like Christmas is only a week away. I've contributed to the gift decisions, but I haven't actually had any time to do shopping myself, not even online, and I'm just not into the spirit of the season this year. It gets harder and harder each year anyway—my work life at this time of year leaves me overly involved with the tedium of daily tasks, and I'm feeling distant from the religious roots of the holidays more than I ever have in my life—but this year I'm not really excited about any aspect of the Christmas holiday.

I'll be out of town visiting family for the holidays for a week or so, but I probably won't post again until I return to work on January 5. Enjoy your holidays, and let's hope for a good year in 2009.
december 2008
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