First, this is my last entry for a few weeks. I could, theoretically, find time to write before my vacation, but I like this Sunday night pattern, and I expect to be out of convenient internet reach for the next couple of weeks.
Before I get into anything else, I wanted to mention the stupidest product I've seen advertised this week. Pringles is selling potato chips with trivia questions and answers printed on them. I can't imagine how anybody came up with this concept. The few questions that appeared in the ad suggested that the questions are oriented towards children. I admit I know nothing much about children, but I find it hard to believe somebody's kids have been clamoring to have their potato chips ask them where the Eiffel Tower is.
Anyway, this was a busy week, but there was nothing in particular worth writing about. I just scrambled around with the usual rounds of phone calls and emails and meetings and such. We had one annoying last minute scramble, involving an action item from a meeting in April that we'd pretty much just forgotten about. The work had been done, so it was just a matter of packaging it up and getting it signed out. Everything involves the usual issues of protocol. That is, you always have to figure out who the letter should come from and who it should be addressed to and so on, which usually takes at least three times as long as actually writing the letter. In this case it was more complicated because the new general officially takes over his job on Monday, so we'd have to change the signature if it didn't get signed out on Friday. By the way, you not only write a letter, but you have to write what's called a buckslip requesting the letter be signed. There are rules about letterhead and the size of paper and how many spaces you indent what and so on and so forth, any of which can keep things from being signed. You put the backup materials (in this case, the letter requesting the action and a package of briefing charts that answer the action) on one side of a folder, the letter to be signed on the other side of the folder, and the buckslip on the outside. There are also rules about what color folder you use if they're going to certain outside offices, but I have to admit to not having mastered those. The result is that it takes ages to get anything done. I earned some brownie points by having pointed out that, once we got the letter signed, we could scan it in and send the package over electronically, saving the half hour or so to courier it over and the hours to figure out who we would actually bring it to, which would not actually be the person who the letter is addressed to.
None of which is all that technically exciting, though writing the letter actually did require understanding the briefing charts, which were technical. I also had to spend a lot of time on Friday explaining our latest setback and why we weren't going to be opening the champagne on Monday. The champagne is chilling in readiness for shipping our sensor, but we had a mechanical failure in test, so it will wait.
The bottom line on all of this is that work has been mind numbing and frustrating and I am starting to look more seriously at what to do next. I want to take some time off to travel again, but I have various non-work commitments that mean I won't do that for at least a year. The company I work for does treat me well and I have some incentive to stay with them, but there haven't really been many jobs of interest posted lately in places I am willing to live. I could handle moving back to L.A. if I really had to, but I'd prefer not to. I could not deal with either Omaha or Colorado Springs, though.
So I'm looking a bit deeper and thinking about taking the Foreign Service exam or applying for the Peace Corps. But I'm also thinking about just quitting and traveling for a year or more and sorting it all out later. There's no rush to make any decisions, but I like to know what my options are.
Copyright 2004 Miriam H. Nadel