May 25, 2010

MacGyver Mom

I was like MacGyver over the weekend.

It was hot, hot, hot and the kids wanted to swim. I dimly remembered an inflatable swimming pool in the bowels of the garage and after some looking found it under a pile of cobwebs and various gardening tools.

I tried blowing it up with a bike tire pump but it didn’t fit. Then I remembered we have an electric pump to pump up our air mattress and searched the house for it – even in Ralf’s lair, where he keeps his tools – and finally unearthed it in the guest room under a pile of clothes.

I triumphantly marched into the garden brandishing it and yelling, Who’s number 1?

Then I noticed it was an American plug. Bloody heck. So I went up to our bedroom and unplugged the heavy converter we use for our US-bought TV and lugged it downstairs.

Whereupon after hooking everything up I realized the pump didn’t have the right size adapter to blow up the swimming pool. There may have been some ladylike swearing at this point, you know, shucks, darn, that sort of thing. Then I got some duct tape and spliced it.

Perhaps you’ve seen Apollo 13? It was like that.

Ralf, who lives with me, at first didn't believe I spliced anything. And once he believed he laughed heartily about how annoyed it must have made me.

To finish my story, after about an hour the pool was finally blown up and filled with water. ‘It’s too cold!’ my dear ones complained, refusing to go in.

Envisioning all my hard work going to waste I found myself lugging buckets of warm water from the kitchen like Laura Ingalls.

That's kind of the end of the pool story.

Anyway, I thought you’d like to know.

May 23, 2010

On event horizons and being the last person in Munich

K: Mommy, where does the Earth end?

Me (sagely - this is an easy one): The earth is round, darling. It doesn't end.

K: Yes it does. I'll show you.

She fetches a small ball.

K: Now look, Mommy. (She finger walks around the ball.) If I go around the ball like this it never ends. But. (She holds up one finger to make sure I'm paying attention.) If I go this way it ends right where it begins. (Her fingers leave the surface of the ball in the direction of infinity.) See?

Wow. It's true - the Earth does end at its surface. I stare at my 6-year-old, thinking that she can already think in 3D and has just discovered event horizons. In a flash I picture presenting to the Acadamy of Physics, tall, blond, precise, wowing an audience of unkempt men in tweed suits. I feel a thrill of pride.

Although part of me would like my children to pursue useful careers like accounting or medicine (useful to me, I mean), another part would be thrilled to be the mother of this generation's Einstein.

Science camp here we come.

BTW, Ralf is gone.

No, not forever, just a long work week in California. It's vacation time and my girls and I are the last people in Munich. But we are not alone - we are feeding the neighbors' pets while they enjoy their family vacations.

K already gave the rabbits 2 week's worth of carrots, which they have consumed. They eye me hopefully when I go in the garden but I have nothing for them.

The shops won't be open until Tuesday, I tell them, showing them my empty hands.

They twitch their noses to tell me they understand perfectly and would I now please bring them some more carrots.

Yes, of course, on Tuesday, I answer.

I think the isolation is getting to me...

May 17, 2010

Technical acronyms and projectile vomiting

I've been a bit quiet lately, I know, but I've been writing a lot - just not here. I blog about compensation and talent management trends, I write FAQs, I write data sheets and value statements and white papers. I write little emails to various people.

This week I'm trying to explain why our SaaS/EIB/XML/SOA/LOL/LMOA is better than their SaaS/EIB/XML/SOA/LOL/LMOA.

To give you an idea, I considered calling this post, 'Technical acronyms flying out of my butt' but decided against it.

Anyway, while it's great getting paid to write, at the end of the day I'm too shattered to sit down and write more. Y'know?

But don't worry, the Germans are bound to do something soon that I won't be able to help writing about. I can feel it, they're up to something.

In the meantime, I have something to share. A couple of weeks ago L (4 years old) had an impressive bout of projectile vomiting after I let her eat a large chocolate ice cream cone instead of lunch. I cuddled her while she hurled over and over again into a bucket without getting a drop on the walls or carpet. She's such a good girl.

K (6 years old) came in, frowned thoughtfully at her little sister, patted her on the head and announced that she was going to make her a present. Off she went for about ten minutes then returned with a drawing of L being sick surrounded by things to make her feel better (i.e., a princess, a unicorn, the planet Earth, etc.).

L felt better soon after K gave her the picture and was able to get up and start playing again.

Here's the picture with amazing healing properties:

May 8, 2010

Life-Changing Invention

I've had the greatest idea that I can't wait to patent: a cell phone that rings on command.

I am positive that my invention will change the world. It will help people escape boring meetings, wriggle out of awkward situations, or even flaunt one's newfound happiness at one's ex.

How many times have you prayed in vain for the phone to ring? For example, at work:

Boss: Do you have some time right now? I wanted to discuss how to convert our 6,529 escalation requests to a new format. I'm afraid it'll have to be done manually but the new format is much better. It has blue column headers, which are way nicer than orange, so we really need to do it and I'd like you to be in charge. I'll expect status reports every half hour and if you have any ideas about how to work more efficiently, run them by me first.

ring, ring

You (pretending to answer the phone): Hello? Grandma? Grandma!! Are you OK?? Oh my God! Don't try to get up, I'll be right there!!


Colleague: Hey, I was hoping to meet with you for a few hours today to discuss new naming conventions for effective dating. I've got some great ideas about this but we need to do a detailed impact analysis and of course survey all of our customers. We wouldn't want to just pick a name at random, ha ha. Do you have some time right now?

You: That sounds awesome, thanks for including me. Let me just...

ring, ring

You (pretending to look at the incoming number): I have to take this one. (pretending to answer the phone) Talk to me. What? When? That's not good. He did? You gotta be kidding me. The Big Guy wants me to handle it? OK, then I need you to forward me ALL the paperwork, yesterday. Great, thanks, I'll take care of it. (to your colleague) Sorry, I gotta run but let's definitely catch up about this later.

There are useful non-work applications as well. For example, what if you run into your ex on the street, the one you stalked for 6 months after he dumped you as an embarassing prelude to spending the next 6 months hiding out in your apartment eating Ben and Jerry's.

Him (embarassed): Uh, hi.

You (big smile, eyes wide, shoulders back, chest out, show those pearly whites... you know the drill): Well, hi! Fancy running into you here. You look, um, really great. I was just...

ring, ring

You (giggling self-consciously): Oh, excuse me just one second. Hello? (in a lowered voice) Hi, darling, I was just thinking about you. No, I'm not busy. Yes, I did, that was so thoughtful. They're my favorite. I didn't have enough vases so I had to donate some to the senior home. I hope you don't mind. What? Yes, of course I like jewelry, why? A surprise? When? Paris?? Oh, darling, that sounds wonderful. I can't wait. Me too. I love you more. No, I love you more. Bye bye lover, see you tonight. Mwa! mwa! mwa!

Am I a genius or what?

May 3, 2010

Man Up and Make a Plan

I know I've been a bit spotty lately on blogging but there are reasons. The main reason is that I just started a new job and at the same time I've been taking two classes: one in business German, which is fortunately over, and a certificate program in Talent Management at Cornell university.

Cool, huh? Soon I will have a piece of paper that says Cornell on it.

The German class was pretty easy, since my German is mind-blowingly good (just kidding- it's decent) but the whole thing with commute took about 8 hours a week. The Cornell program takes about 4 hours a week. And then, of course, I have a new job. And kids. And a house. And a cat. And three hermit crabs.

And of course I have to make all these new avatars of myself. So, I've been kind of busy.

Last year wasn't much fun, what with late night calls and a rough situation at work. I was feeling almost sorry for myself until Ralf told me to man up and make a plan.

Man up this, I said:

Ralf was intrigued by this response but didn't quite see the relevance.

So I made a fine plan to get a Ph.D. in organizational behavior or cognitive science while perfecting my roundhouse kick.

Ralf suggested I try to come up with a more practical and lucrative plan.

Feeling slightly aggrieved that he didn't want to move the entire family to the East Coast and pay for me to explore my inner Dr. Laura, I updated my resume and applied for various paid jobs.

I usually apply for one job at a time because I usually get the job and I hate saying no. This isn't quite as cocky as it sounds because I research and apply for jobs I have an excellent chance of getting.

That makes it sound easy but it's not. In fact, I'm glossing over months of hard work and a helping hand from some good friends.

And it's not like finding a job is a ticket to happiness. I've had tough work experiences: I've been fired and re-organized and offered jobs that disappeared after I accepted. I've worked very long hours for very little money. I've had bosses that didn't take me seriously or whose sole purpose in life was to grind me into dust. Etc., etc., etc.

(I've had good jobs, too.)

Plus, as a mom of two small kids living in Munich and working for Californian companies I'm. . . well, I tell people I'm the modern worker.

Anyway, over the last 6 months I applied for about ten jobs, just to see what fetched up.

In the end I had to choose between several offers, which meant figuring out trade offs, such as, Can I work from home? Do I have to wear a suit? Will I have to travel? Will I be on the phone every night? Is this a completely new role for me that will require 80 hour weeks for the first 6 months? Am I willilng to relocate? Is this a lateral move or a career step? Can I learn anything from my boss? Where do I want to be in 5 years?

Of course, for my ideal job, I'd relocate, wear a suit, commute, travel or eat mushy bananas but none of them was quite ideal.

One of the options we considered involved moving back to the US, which was tempting. Munich's a nice city but it isn't home. The biggest problem is language, and I'm not just talking about embarassing mistakes like that time I said 'I will throw up on you soon,' instead of, 'Let's discuss this later.' It's a LOT of work to function as an adult in a second language.

But... it wasn't the right time.

So anyway, after all that marvelous self contemplation and a chance to do something completely different I opted for a similar type of job at the same company.

Also, I now devote 10 minutes a day to manning up.
Related Posts with Thumbnails