Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Killing Time Productively

I am at the office, and I am hamstrung. There is a Trojan Horse virus on my office computer, I spent 2 hours running a full scan that failed in the end, and I am now about halfway through a full scan in safe mode to try and isolate it there. I am writing this on the spare computer on the other side of my office.

I have read all my daily blogs, visited the various Cute Animal sites I frequent, checked my Facebook for updates innumerable times, and have exhausted all forms of typical time-killing activity.

8 minutes before I can leave.

Ooh, I can check my Vandy mail online! There won't be anything there, but it will kill a few minutes.

Nope, about 70 seconds. *sigh*

Tonight Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance are on. That'll be nice.

It's my stepdad's birthday today. I wonder what I should get for him? I already have a card...

Ooh, I can rinse out my coffee cup! Back in a mo.

Three minutes left. Are you as bored reading this as I am? Good. Shared suffering, and all that.

I have a client out in West Meade this afternoon. Probably won't take a full hour; I should figure out some productive activities for this afternoon.

One minute. Bye!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What I Won't, and What I Wish

I cannot remember the last time I so longed to be granted an escape from my current condition. The tasks on my plate right now are so unappealing, but I cannot simply scrape them off into the trash. Everyone around me is taking off for vacation for a week or more, going hither and yon, and I am stuck here in the incubator of Nashville, doing a job that I generally like, but which is made unappetizing by a couple of wonky clients who manage to drain the joy out of my work.

The thing is, I could conceivably drop them... but as usually happens, I'm in the midst of a slowdown in my workload, and I need the income.

I can't stand it when I have no clear-cut idea of what I'm supposed to be doing, but the client is pressuring me to do SOMETHING. Plus, it's not an area of expertise. Sometimes I feel like people come to me because I'm affordable and available, despite my protestations that I don't have enough experience for that particular task. You do NOT want me to try and set up a Windows Server for you, just because I'm cheap! I have a particular skill set and a definite market, and although I'm willing to learn new things, there's generally enough work for me in making house calls to people's homes. So I don't WANT to learn how to configure a server!

You wouldn't want your chiropractor to perform brain surgery on you, would you? No. So why do I feel like I must accept whatever people ask of me, even when I know it's over my head, or that I simply don't like doing it? As I get close to Year Three of my business, I have made some definite decisions:
  1. I don't want to do web design work for individuals anymore. I'll keep maintaining for the clients I currently have, but I simply don't like the development process. It requires me to work on it when I'm at home, and there is nothing I'm more disinclined to do when I'm home than work on websites.
  2. I'm not going to feel bad when I don't have the skills to do something. I know lots and lots of things; there's no reason for me to feel guilty that I'm not a computer guru.
  3. I'm not going to feel guilty when I refuse service. If I'm going to put up with the inconveniences and difficulties of working for myself, then I reserve the right to avoid unpleasant clients. Pervy old men, this means you.
  4. I'm not going to feel guilty when I name the price for the 2 hours of working on a dusty, carelessly maintained desktop, and they stop smiling and talking and quietly write out a check. I named my price on the front end, or they didn't bother to ask, so it's not like I'm cheating anyone. I'm still cheaper than most solutions on the market, and I'm much more compassionate and friendly than the guys at Best Buy.

Some obvious issues there. I don't like hearing that kind of harshness from myself, but right now I'm not particularly happy or joyful, I'm frustrated, and I need a proper vacation.

If I had the money, opportunity and connections, I would go by cruise ship to England, visit my friend Teresa in Glasgow for a week, bounce around on BritRail to Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and Bath. Go see Patrick Stewart and David Tennant in Hamlet at the RSC. Go to Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Take the Circle Line. Walk over the Hungerford Foot Bridge. Go to the Tower and St. Paul's and the school on the edge of Kensington I stayed at one summer and The Orangery for tea.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I don't know why, but this brought tears to my eyes - make sure you watch the last minute.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Doctoral Dirge

At what point does perpetual loss and tragedy in a fictional narrative become too much? I ask, because I am in the midst of my seasonal obsession with the latest series of Doctor Who (Series 4, if you're counting) and once again, in a finale that combines the overcoming of a mighty villain with tragic loss on the part of the heroes, I come out of it depressed and discouraged.

I should mention that the finale has not aired here yet, but in fear that I might accidentally stumble over key spoilers on the web, I took it upon myself to temporarily acquire viewing copies (don't ask how, please) so that I might be able to watch spoiler-free for a change (having been too curious to wait with the first 3 seasons). I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say the bad guys are beaten and the universe saved, but at a personal cost. Some of the heroes end up happily, some are lost, and the Doctor is again alone.

The difference this time is that the writer/producer Russell T Davies, who has tweaked this storyline since the series revival in 2005, has made the losses more palpable, and made no effort to alleviate the Doctor's loneliness. And this is ostensibly a CHILDREN'S SHOW. Granted, loads of adults like myself watch with great interest, but it's still marketed and advertised for the youth.

So I can't help but wonder if RTD isn't being self-indulgent - his work is traditionally racy, dark, and undeniably mature (as is illustrated by his adult series Torchwood) and I think he has ended his 4-year run with DW (he's moving on to other projects) with a real downer of an episode. I know he's clearing the deck for the next writer/producer Steven Moffatt (who has done some of the best episodes of the last 4 years, and has a reputation for NOT killing off characters!) but I came out of it feeling undeniably sad.

They've made the series that aired for decades into a considerably more dramatic and weighty vehicle; previous doctors never got particularly emotional, and moral dilemmas never seemed to be all that much of an issue. But that is now the heart of the series, and although I can appreciate the artistry and how easily it can make me cry at times, I wish sometimes they could just let it be Fun and Adventure, and not so much Tragedy. A good cry is great once and a while, but it seems like I've been doing a lot of it this series! And I can't help but wonder what children make of this; if they are made depressed by this recurrence of grief. I'm not one of those people who think kids should only ever hear happy stories and should be shielded from all of life's difficulties, but there's just so much sorrow one can take in an entertainment before it's too much.

There were happy moments; some great comedy, and some lovely resolutions. But I've been feeling melancholy all weekend after a Who Marathon of the last 4 episodes, and that hardly seems like a desirable result for a TV series!