Monday, August 28, 2006

Final Grade

My grade for Human Resource Management has come in. My teacher sent one that said I didn't participate the last two weeks and while I was thinking of a response to her, she sent another one stating, "Sorry for the confusion. Great participation." I guess I did comment more than 2 times each week. Seems like the counts were 50 and 52 times.

But, that makes no sense. What does make sense is the fact I made it through the class with over 99%.

(I lost a couple partial points here and there in group assignments where a title wasn't proper APA format and a few sentences phrased in different ways than she would have liked.)

The good news - I guess I was able to pass a class that was what I get paid to do at work. Yea!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Once Upon a Time...

...there was a young woman who kept a blog. She posted regularly about her adventures. Those adventures included trips to a local karaoke bar, funny anecdotes about the neighborhood pool hall, or even stories about work. One day, that young woman found she was running out of time. What is the culprit hindering her from rambling on and on about simple topics like buying office supplies? It's good you asked. The time thief is called, "School."

Extended learning. That seems to be the theme of my life at the current time. I'm not complaining. Learning is actually a passion of mine. I like learning; it doesn't matter what the subject is. Well, I guess I don't seek out opportunities to study chemistry or sci-fi literature history. You could lump those categories together, right? I think I made up the second one. Although there probably are experts out there who could tell you the subtle nuisances of various sci-fi writing techniques and when certain topics were first introduced.

The current theme of my extended learning is truly, "Management." As in management theory. At school, I just completed a class called, "Human Resource Management." I loved it! Final grades are not out yet, but I would imagine I passed. I hope so. Since the topics covered in class are what I earn a paycheck for. We talked about hiring & firing (terminations for all you PC-junkies out there). Benefits & compensation? Been there, done that. Performance reviews? Besides the ones I've written, how does at 3,000 word paper describing a total performance management system sound? If you said, "Boring," my job is not one I'd suggest.

HR Mgmt (because I have seriously written it out enough times) ended on Monday at midnight. My next class, Financial Analysis I, started on Tuesday at 12:01 am. I liked the one minute break. You could never imagine what I completed during that time. (In reality, I finished up assignments and posting Monday early evening and didn't check into class until early Tuesday morning).

Financial Analysis. I should be able to pass this. Should is the key phrase here. I work, for the past nine years, at NABABNA, a financial services company. Banking. Finance. Goes hand-in-hand, right? I'm apprehensive.

My fears for this class are not unwarranted. The class starts with some accounting (managerial - not the fun number-crunching kind that was my major once upon a yesteryear) and I barely remember any of the concepts. That's not what bothers me.

What bothers me (and this is not a well-known fact), is that in my previous schooling at a different management college I managed to "not pass" finance three times. There is only one subject that I never passed and it has to be finance. Kind of ironic, huh? I'm sure that instills confidence in all you that bank out there.

In my defense, I didn't actually fail the course. Instead, I just never completed it. I enrolled three times. I paid for the course three times. But in my youth, I made a couple of poor choices. The first was not entirely my fault, but the second and third times definitely were. The first time I took the course, it was on-campus. On the day of the final, the electricians were working on the wiring in the run-down, hole-infested, dumpster-diving environment rental unit I lived in. Without notice, the power was turned off and when I awoke, two hours after the final ended, my alarm clock was flashing pretty red numbers at me. The university I previously attended had a pretty strict "no exceptions" policy regarding the missing of a final. So, the first INCOMPLETE ended up on my record.

Trying something different, I signed up for correspondence learning. That's where procrastination took over. Here's a piece of advice: don't take a class that allows you 9 months to finish. If you're anything like the typical 20-year old, you won't start day one. Then, if you're like me, you'll find the packet of information in a pile in your room 10 months later. Rinse, lather, and repeat. That's how you can end up with three INCOMPLETEs on your record. Oops.

Obviously, this is not something I'm proud of. This time around, I'm planning on completing the coursework and actually taking the final. Age has taught me something at least.

Class has started; I've posted my discussion questions for this week (determining the monthly payment amounts for a mortgage - Excel is your friend. Love the mortgage amortization table I found as a template.) I have to write a paper about ethics and finance (think Enron scandals) for this week's mega-assignment. And I have to participate in class. Which will be slightly more difficult than last class's daily updates on techniques I use in management. I had four people out of 16 in the last class ask to work for me. That felt good. This will not happen with finance. I can predict this fact.

Speaking of learning, I received my "diploma" today. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I attended a managerial seminar/training at work on Ken Blanchard's Situational Leadership II. Mr. Blanchard has written such books as, "Raving Fans," and "One-Minute Manager." The class was pretty cool. Nothing overly earth-shattering, but fun and a good opportunity to sit back and think, "Am I effective?" Without violating any copyright laws, the basic premise for the class is that here are four stages of development everyone goes through to learn a task. Guess what? There are also four styles of management and they correspond. Most managers use only one style of leadership and so they are effective only a part of the time. In this class, we discussed providing direction to those who don't know how to complete tasks. We talked about supporting emotions. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but fun to look at which style is appropriate. I'm actually going to train my team on a portion of the learning (well, what I can fit into an hour long meeting from 18 hours of training). Steve, the super-fantastic-awesome-rock and roll all-star team lead, will get more of a picture of the training.

I did enjoy the training (couldn't you tell?) and liked the eye-openers of times when I am sure I was not as effective as I could have been. Management is learning every day. I am passionate about it and I guess that's a good thing. It is what I do for a living.

On the subject of work, my team is still awesome. I asked DM if I played favorites with bankers once. She replied, "Yes. But they are all your favorite." I have a couple of bankers applying for new jobs, promotions and I'm encouraging them as much as I can. I will be MAD PROUD (sorry for the caps, but it seemed to fit) of them if they get the position. The job I have does not tend to keep bankers around for more than a year. That's a fact. As much as I'd love to keep my team for years and years, the job is one that people master and move on. If I accept this and do the right thing of developing people, I can find reward in this fact. I'm working with Steve to get him promoted (although I'd be lost without him). But he deserves it. He's worked very hard and he would be a great manager. There are big things on his horizon.

So, what else is new? Hmmm. I've been scrapbooking a little, not working on photoshopping pictures since my external hard drive seemed to be defective and stopped working the day after I could have returned it to Best Buy (ARGH!).

I made green beans for myself. When DM and I went to Wisconsin (which I still need to write about), we stopped at this little family run farm on the way home. I bought corn, a watermelon, and green beans. It was the first time I cooked them myself and I have to admit, they were edible! I'm a horrible cook. Not because I make bad food, but because I rarely cook anything for myself.

DM has been writing up karaoke adventures as of late. I had a cold this past weekend (summer colds are awful) which entailed my use of cold medication. Advil Cold & Sinus should come with the warning, "Beware, side effects will include the loss of a minimum of 20 I.Q. points." I get goofy and silly. Others find it entertaining.

Since I was at work for the day shift the past two days, my mom wanted to go out to dinner. She took me to the Green Mill, a chain restaurant popular here. Scott was there too. I really enjoyed spending time with them.

My dad's birthday is Thursday and I'll be taking him out on Monday. He's golfing this entire weekend.

Oh, I ran into man-boobie guy again. The caretaker of my apartment building is a man I have nicknamed "Man-Boobie Guy." I know, it's wrong. On many levels. The reason for the name has to do with the fact the first time I saw him he had no shirt on and I thought there was a half-naked woman wandering around my apartment building. Scary. I saw him on Tuesday, as I was leaving for work. He initiated conversation with a chipper, "Howdy!" Which made me look at my outfit, trying to see if I was wearing a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, spurs, or any form of an overly large belt buckle since nothing in his appareal indicated the use of this type of greeting. Much to my surprise (because I'm known for frequently dressing up for work like I was going to go wrassle cattle on a ranch), I was not wearing anything that would indicate this as a proper greeting. I said hello and went along my way.

I suppose that's enough for tonight. I will try to make the rounds now to other sites. Hope all is well in the blog-o-verse.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What I Did Today...

Today was a nice, restful day. I went to my dad's house and helped him pick grapes. He was getting them ready for juicing (wine). It was nice to visit with him and I did get a few pictures (did you expect anything less?)

grapes on the vine

bunches of grapes

grapes, portrait

grapes, square

soft color grapes

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Picture Madness

Well, besides school, my activities have included cleaning my apartment, listening to iTunes, going to karaoke*, and playing with pictures. Since I've learned a few more things in Photoshop, I've been eager to experiment on various pictures from DM & I's trip to Portugal last year. Can you tell I have a major case of Wanderlust?

Here's some of the recent pictures:

Fisherman on the river, looking at Alfama tile worktile work at Santa LuciaShe looksOcean SprayOcean CoastFlying Proudboats in the harborlooking out the window at the symbol of Lisbon
Can you tell where I eliminated the power line from this shot?
moodfaded memories of Lisbon
There are more on Flickr and I obviously went a bit extreme with some of these.

My template has been bugging me lately. I feel the need to update it, change it, start over, I don't know. I'm looking for any suggestions. Anything that bothers you? Any pictures you think would make a good banner? What do you think my banner should represent? This urge hits me at least twice a year and I can't believe how long I've waited.

*Ruth asked a couple of questions about karaoke. I'll try to answer them.

"What do you sing?" Um, let me get the list out. I try new stuff once in awhile, but my standard list includes: Son of a Preacher Man, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Total Eclipse of the Heart, You Can Call Me Al, All That Jazz, Different Drum, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Have You Ever Seen the Rain?, and Mad About You. This last Sunday I tried a couple of Doors songs and realized that I grew up on that music, so it was easy to sing.

"What about taking away karaoke?" This question was in response to a MEME about giving up certain things. There is no price that will make me give up karaoke. It's my social outlet.

"Do you sing by yourself?" 95% of the time. Once in awhile there will be a group that sings happy birthday or something like that, but usually I sing alone.

"Do they have private rooms for just you and your friends like they do in Japan, or are you all in the public eye?" There's no private rooms. It's a bar. We all sing in front of anyone in the bar.