Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sometimes the most simple things take forever.

Like my St. Maarten timeshare page.

I have been meaning to do that page FOREVER. And for some reason, it kept getting put off. Too many other things to do, of course.

But when I got down to it, it only took me an hour.

However, I would like to point out that there are about seven hundred other things I didn't do in that hour that still remain on my list:

  • more holland/aus/nz/calgary travel photos
  • put up the picture of Kendra's ring
  • talk about my nice night with Alex last night
  • sleeping (I feel sick, I'm so tired)
  • work on my review rebuttal document
  • pack to go to my parents' tomorrow

    Because sometimes you've just got to do that thing that isn't getting done.

  • Monday, September 26, 2005

    Ohmygosh, I feel sick.

    I think I nearly passed out at work today.

    One minute, I felt totally normal, writing an email at my desk, having just eaten my favourite lunch: BBQ pork noodle soup at Congee Star. The next minute, the room swam and I nearly fell over.


    And now I just feel really crappy. Maybe I'm getting sick. Unfortunately, I can't stay home as I have a big launch party to go to and I have no sick days left, apparently. Not sure how that happened, as I believed that I had only been away twice all year. However, I'm sure my boss tracked it VERY carefully.

    Sunday, September 25, 2005

    I am super emotional today.

    Alex and I had such a nice weekend together and I'm sitting here thinking how sad I am that I'll only see him again on Wednesday and even then he'll be playing at Healey's and I won't have much opportunity to talk to him.

    Maybe my brother's engagement is making me all relationship-crazy.

    But, no. It's not just that.

    Someone told me last night that when Alex looks at me his whole body changes - softens - and he gets this funny half-smile, no matter whether he's sitting beside me or across the bar.

    He'll hate that I'm writing this. He thinks I make him out to sound like a wuss.

    I think I make him out to sound in love with me. And I'm OK with that.
    Things that make for a great weekend:

  • having movie night at your friend's house and eating lots of bad food
  • spending time with your boyfriend
  • greasy-spoon breakfasts
  • long walks to a different part of town
  • finding out your brother has just gotten engaged!
  • shopping for a pair of jeans and finding 2 pairs on sale that look really good
  • finding a really great sexy shirt that you can wear with a bra
  • having your boyfriend tell you how cute you look in your new outfit
  • seeing your boyfriend's band open for a pretty great band, and playing almost better than that band
  • going out to a party until 4am with the rock band
  • making new friends
  • going to Word on the street and getting magazines for free or for $1
  • eating Dairy Queen for dinner
  • coming home to a cute, quiet, mostly clean apartment
  • finding out you have a cold bottle of lemon-flavoured mineral water in your fridge

    What makes it crappy:
  • remembering that you have to go to work tomorrow
  • knowing you won't get to spend that much time with your boyfriend for a really long time
  • working on your peformance review for the rest of the night
  • Thanks to "anonymous" commenter, who sent me the Joel-on-Software post, which talks about the negative effect that performance reviews have on, well, performance.

    And I wonder: if it's been proven many times over that "...people who expect to receive a reward for completing a task or for doing that task successfully simply do not perform as well as those who expect no reward at all.." (Harvard Business Review Sept/Oct 93), then why do we keep the review system?

    I don't understand how that's possible, actually, since I think that if I have a reward at the end, I usually try harder. I mean, that obviously depends on whether I place any value on the reward offered, of course.

    But if I thought: damn, if I do this right, I'll have an extra week of vacation, I'd definitely work harder at it.

    I mean, sure, I work pretty hard on almost everything. But sometimes there are things that have to take a higher priority and the thing that would get me a reward would surely become the highest priority, wouldn't it? I'd be stupid NOT to prioritize it.

    So I don't understand that Harvard stat. I have a hard time believing it.

    Maybe it's because managers generally reward behaviours/tasks that their employees don't like doing or aren't good at. And maybe employees DON'T get rewarded for the things they actually LIKE doing and therefore, do a better job at?

    Skewed statistic, anyway.

    And I don't agree that performance reviews are ALWAYS bad. Some sort of review system is necessary to keep people on track; to help them understand what's important to the boss or their company and to help the boss/company understand what's important to the employee. Both sides tend to lose sight of this if it isn't refreshed in their memories every once in a while. It can give them renewed vigour in their pursuits of their goals.

    But I certainly don't think that a once-a-year meeting is exactly the best format for this system. I think people need to have consistent monitoring and be told when they do something if it's not on the right track. Don't tell me six months later, when all I can do is look back on it and cringe.

    Performance enhancement should be ongoing and never a surprise at the end of the year. You should know exactly what was expected of you and whether or not you achieved it before you even go in that room.

    Your boss should know what it was/is that the employee wanted to achieve and the reward that they were shooting for and it should not be a hard decision as to whether they get that agreed reward.

    I don't understand how, with all of the books out there on the subject, reviews can be so far off the mark from what they're supposed to be! Doesn't everyone know by now that objectives are supposed to be:
    1. specific
    2. measurable
    3. achievable
    4. relevent or realistic (depending on which book you read)
    5. time-based

    And doesn't everyone know that these objectives are supposed to be reviewed frequently and possibly changed if necessary?

    If it were actually done this way, maybe reviews actually WOULD have a positive effect instead of being that dreaded meeting when employers and employees end up in a battle (ahem - I mean, "negotiation") and someone always ends up feeling cheated.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    I'm now doing something I really hate: I'm reading one of those books about negotiation.


    I see all those suits on the TTC reading those things and I think: LOSERS! Can't they find something INTERESTING to read? What about REAL literature? What about improving yourself by educating yourself about the earth and its people?

    You know, I can just think of so many other more intriguing books to read. I mean, I have a whole shelf of them that I can't seem to get to. And then there are the magazines: Explore, Travel Abroad, Outpost, Scientific American...

    I'm really quite shocked that I'm spending my precious reading time on this.

    But let me tell you, quite ashamedly, that it is totally worth it. I think, every once in a while, you need to read something like this. Especially when you get to the point when you start wondering if the entire world is insane you are the only intelligent being left. Or when you realize that you're probably going to throw your computer, your phone, or your client out the window if it so much as LOOKS at you the wrong way.

    This is when you know you've had too much.
    You need some perspective.

    So I had to figure out, even if I'm not doing anything wrong per se, what exactly I could be doing more right.

    Enter boring negotiation book.

    So I'm reading and thinking, "Ya, I make that mistake," and that, "Uh-huh, they TOTALLY react that way when I say that!" And basically just realizing that your life could be made a whole lot easier if you just manipulated people better.

    Once you get over the shame of this thought, you might actually open your mind up in the next situation and "look down from your balcony onto the problem" and "step to their side" and "reframe" so you can "build a golden bridge" and possibly even decide to "use power to educate" instead of escalate.

    I hate it.
    But maybe tomorrow I will make different decision about how upset I'll get over yet another proposal revision.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    It's funny how performance reviews can bring you down.

    They're meant to improve performance.
    But when's the last time you actually thought: "Wow, I'm so glad I know how much everyone hates my work! I'm going to try so much harder NOW! Who cares about those recruiters who keep calling with offers of more money - I want to try to please THESE critics."

    Does anyone really need to hear anything bad about themselves or their work at their review? I mean, certainly, if you are clueless and you totally suck at your job, but they just can't fire you, then of course they should try to help you stop sucking. Usually, however, these slackers are really not interested in improving. They're just fine going on their merry sucking way. They have a job that they don't work hard at and they get paid. It's perfect.

    These are the people who read and live by Read it. You will be converted, I hope.

    The thing is, I am NOT a slacker. If someone actually told me that I could do something better when I was doing it, instead of saving everything up until the moment they could blind-side me with it, I would probably try to change what I was doing.

    And yet, if I were a slacker, perhaps I would not be expected to do everything in the entire universe and be perfect at it.

    Actually, come to think of it, I at least "meet expectations" in everything, am "better than expectations" on many other aspects and even "far exceed expectations" on some other, very special, occasions.

    So why wouldn't I be strongly rewarded for that?
    I could be a slacker and still be "rewarded" the same.

    This weekend I will likely spend a lot of time putting together a case for myself on why I deserve more than the generic "you're OK" reward package. Yes, I said it, I will do it on my precious weekend.

    And why?

    Because I just spent an 11.5-hour day at work and didn't have time to gather these facts, stats and write them up in a persuading manner, using all the right non-confrontation language.

    Sometimes I wonder if perhaps I wouldn't be better suited to running a hostel in some obscure corner of the country where I could read my books, update my website, go for bike rides in the sunshine and make yummy healthy dinners instead of eating a chocolate bar beside my designer's desk at 8pm.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    It was pick up soccer at Eglinton park today as I sat at a picnic table with my lemon mineral water and hair magazine.

    They were Spanish, it seemed, all of them. Oh, and did they like to talk!

    One, in the red shorts was quite good. Most of them were not. But it was nice to watch as I felt my eyes starting to droop. One can only keep an interest in a hair magazine for so long, you understand.

    The sun was past its zenith and a breeze had found its way to us there on the pitch. A lazy way to spend an sweet September afternoon, watching soccer at the park.

    My laundry done, my letters posted, my errands run.
    Just time to nurse yet another migraine.

    I swear it shall be the death of me... or someone else.
    I've managed to get in a couple of Toronto Film Festival flicks this year.

    Thursday, I saw Linda Linda Linda with Sarah. It was a great, fun movie and sent me home, humming the tune. I find Japanese movies so delightfully awkward. They're not afraid to just point the camera at a shy girl hanging her head, mumbling "mm".

    Tonight I saw House of Sand.

    What a fantastic film.
    The Brazilian director, Andrucha Waddington, was there to answer questions. It was a fascinating road to that movie - years in the making. And you can see that it was made with a lot of care.

    A quick synopsis, if you don't care to read it at the TIFF website, is that it's about 3 generations of women trapped in the unhospitable sand dunes of Brazil.

    What's touched me about the film was the theme.

    The main character spends years desperately trying to get back to civilization. One day, when her chance has escaped for the second time, she suddenly comes to an acceptance of her lot and finds contentedness.

    After about 60 years in relative isolation from the world, she's told that man has landed on the moon. Incredulous, she asks what they found there.

    "Nothing. Sand."

    One can spend a lifetime trying to be somewhere else, looking for something better or different - or just anything other than where they are and who they're with. And even if they reach that goal, it is often not any better than what they left behind.

    It doesn't matter whether you have new clothes, make that promotion or record, or even if you know what's going on in the world.

    None of these things are useful in the true sense. One could (and people do) live quite blissfully without them. In fact, one could argue, more blissfully.

    All you need is a simple life with people who love you.

    Why have I been chasing something more?

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Choir has started up again and I decided to give it another go.

    I know I don't have a lot of time, but I figure it's something that I've always wanted to do/be better at, so why not?

    The first time around was very difficult for me, not being able to read music. But this time, I know what I'm in for. I'm prepared. I know I have to get that tape and practice outside of rehearsal.

    And then one day I'll turn into a magical Diva and everyone will adore me and pay me heaps of money to listen to me sing. At least, that's what I always dreamt when I was a child.

    It's unfortunate that time spent on such things is just another day taken out of the week when I could be doing OTHER things. There never seems to be enough time.

  • I was thinking of taking a course.
  • And then there's my quilt(s).
  • And reading.
  • And bike riding adventures with friends.
  • And Alex's band nights.
  • Walking Tree's dog.
  • Paying bills.
  • Updating my website.
  • Finishing my Australia photoalbum/scrapbook.
  • Installing my new cheap harddrive (160 Gb for $60!)
  • Yoga.
  • Decorating my apartment.
  • Selling my timeshare for this December.

    Where does it end?
    And WHEN will I have time to prepare for my performance evaluation that's coming up? Who wants to volunteer to prepare me for that one?!
  • Sunday, September 11, 2005

    This weekend I went to visit my grandmother in Wallaceburg.

    Although she can't see or hear very well, she's doing pretty damn good for being over 90. I was able to work on my quilt with my mom and my grandma seemed pretty interested in it, even though she probably couldn't see it very well. She seemed pretty proud that I was doing it. She used to do them herself until her eyes started to fail.

    She talked about her routine every day and about how she runs out of things to do and sits in her chair, waiting for the next thing to do. I wonder how it feels.

    I offered to help her do the dishes, for example, but she didn't want help. I think it was because otherwise she wouldn't have anything to do.

    She can't go outside because the heat bothers her. And when you can't see or hear well, there's not a whole lot that you can do. She knows where everything is in her kitchen and can find it by feel. She sees shapes and she can hear when it's very quiet and you're talkig very loud.

    So she dozes in her chair a lot. She doesn't sleep well at night.

    I looked around at all the pictures of her and my grandfather and I felt really sad that he's no longer around. I know it was difficult on her to take care of him, but I wonder how she feels now about him being gone. I was afraid to ask.

    I did ask her about how she met my grandpa and about her family and she seemed happy to talk about them.

    And it made me realize that, somewhere in there is a girl who once met a cute guy with big ears at a dance and thought, hey maybe he's the one. Somewhere in there is the young woman who left her entire family behind to move to a new country where her and her husband could buy and work their own farm... far away from everyone she knew.

    I wish I had known that girl - what she once dreamed about, how she felt on her wedding day.

    I wish I had asked how she feels about the life that led to this conclusion. But one doesn't know how such a question will be recieved. Or whether one really wants to know the answer.

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    I am about to be a huge loser and tell you about my amazing night: Day One Without Jaap.

    I biked to work and after work rode to meet Anita. We went for a 2-hour bike ride in Mount Pleasant Cemetary. I was still home by 8pm.

    So I started cleaning. Laundry in the washer. Bathroom. Done. Laundry in the dryer. Delicates in the sink and hanging on the drying rack. Kitchen. Done. Bedroom. Done.

    Now I'm sitting on my exerflex ball, my bills paid, blogging and eating the tomato-cucumber salad that uses up all of my parents' veggies that were otherwise going to go bad.

    After this, I'm giving myself a manicure becuase I ate off each and every one of my fingernails today.

    Day One and I've already done Everything.

    Productive. But let me tell you, it can only get worse. I'm totally going to miss him.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Jaap's last night in Toronto was a little bit of toronto-cathy majik.

    We walked up to Dufflet's to have some yummy treats before embarking on our Northern Ravines & Gardens Discovery Walk. We finished in the dark and walked home.

    Unfortunately some crazy guy walked up to me on the sidewalk and randomly screamed at me, scaring the crap out of me. Weird.

    We went on to Dairy Queen. As usual. I used my buy-one-get-one-free coupon for blizzards. We're Dutch. We love deals.

    And then we went to AlleyCatz to listen to the live swing band. I even danced a song. I've decided that I want to start going to class again. I love dancing, even though I suck at it.

    I will miss Jaap - now who will I hang out with?!
    He leaves tomorrow for St. John's and who knows when he'll be back.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Skipping stones
    Originally uploaded by webgoddesscathy.

    Ontario is synonymous with the cottage-weekend.

    Sadly, I've never been one to experience it - I've never had a cottage. This weekend, I rented a car and took a bunch of my friends up north for the long weekend.

    Sarah, Jaap, Alex and I drove to Bala on Friday to catch Alex's band playing in the battle of the bands at The Kee.

    Of course, the most horrible band won, as is wont to happen in battles. I do NOT know why they keep entering. The hopes of winning compromises their sense.

    After the show, we got lost before winding our way to Washago and Mill Island, where her dad has a lovely cottage.

    We canoed, walked the town, went on adventure drives, ate a lot and read our books in the sunshine. It was great.

    On our way home, we decided to go by way of Midland (not exactly on the way). I thought maybe I could show Jaap the Martyr Shrine, St. Marie-Among-the-Hurons, Wye Marsh. Well, all of the above are quite expensive undertakings. Even the church is $3 for each person. I was surprised by that. I know, they need to keep up the buildings... maybe we should have gone on, but I really couldn't say that it was actually worth it. I can't remember anymore. I was there when I was something like 8 years old.

    We ate lunch and continued on to Tiny Beach Road and skirted Georgian Bay all the way down to Wasaga. What a great beach that is. Too bad about the people. And the tacky. Really, too bad.

    We stopped in at my parents' house for a quick hello before heading off for some Alliston Dairy Queen and then home before the horrible long weekend traffic.

    We even managed to go for a walk over to Theresa's house and have some tea over her Newfoundland pictures.

    I love my friends.
    I love the summer.

    I don't want it to end.