24 October 2006

Jobs I've Had

I've had a LOT of jobs. A lot of different jobs. I'm not sure that I'll remember all of them, or even get them in the right order, but here's an attempt.
  • Babysitting
  • Cashier at Eat-A-Burger
  • Front desk clerk at Emily's gymnastics studio
  • Cashier at Natural Wonders
  • "Office Automation Clerk" at the VA Hospital (gotta love those government titles)
  • Gift wrapper during Christmas at Cottonwood Mall
  • Tutor for an after-school kids program at the U
  • Private tutor
  • Housekeeper at Jackson Lake Lodge
  • Cashier at the deli at some natural foods place
  • Front desk clerk at the U of U's Fieldhouse
  • Cashier at Kirkham's Outdoor Products
  • Substitute teacher
  • Front desk clerk at Alta Canyon Sports Center
  • Mathematical statistician at the Department of Energy
  • TA at GWU
  • Visiting Instructor of Statistics at BYU
  • Mathematical statistician at current job
  • A possible second job??? Details coming soon (hopefully!).

Gosh. That was hard. I hope I didn't miss any. Most people know that my hands-down favorite was teaching at BYU. But does anyone know my least favorite? (Hint: it's not my current job.)

18 October 2006

Famous Family

Not to be outdone by his more famous younger sister, my brother went and got himself in the news. I will say, however, that having my livelihood washed down the river is not exactly the kind of press that I would like to have.

17 October 2006

Work Density

A long time ago, my friend, Gretchen, and I came up with a genius of an idea, something we titled "Work Density." Though we planned on someday publishing the results in a highly-regarded technical journal, I'll brief you on the idea. Basically, the idea hit us when we were discussing how busy or non-busy we were at our then-jobs. We wanted to a succinct way to represent this "busy-ness" quantitatively. Thus the "work density" was born. It's a simple calculation really. Calculate the number of hours you spend at work; this number becomes your denominator. Then, calculate the hours that you spent at work "actually working." That is, don't count hours spent checking your bank statements online, playing sudoku, or chatting with co-workers about non-work topics. Only the hours doing stuff required for your job count. This number becomes your numerator. Then simply do the division and express as a percent. That's it.

We found this an incredible way to convey to one another how much work we were actually doing. This past August, I'd say my work density was pretty low, probably hovering around 10%. This is not because I was a bad employee; rather, I honestly had zero work to do. By contrast, my mom's work density is usually around 97%.

Limitations of this work density: The measurement is bounded between 0 and 100%. If someone has had an unbelievably busy day, there is no way to express that other than to say their density was at 100%. We have discussed adding an "intensity" factor to supplement the density. Also, work density is an estimate. Unless one actually tabulates how they spent every minute of every work day, there is no way to know what one's "true" density really is. We would like to conduct studies that can give us distributions for density in order to get at the idea of this "true" density.

Given that I've already spent 18 minutes writing this post, I'm sure it's pretty obvious I'm going to have another low-density day.

13 October 2006

Fun for Fridays III

Here's another of my favorite websites. Maybe it's not one of my favorite websites exactly, but certainly one of my favorite events captured by HTML. What is it, you ask? Well it's the results from the Ig Nobel Awards, of course! And what is an Ig Nobel award you wisely ask next? Well the Ig Nobel is an award given to "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." But really? They're awards given to real researchers (people with Ph.Ds included) for research that is mostly ridiculous. One of my favorites is the one given in Physics in 2001 to a UMass professor who studied why shower curtains always billow inwards. Very intriguing. Or what about in 1993 when the Mathematics prize was given to someone who calculated the exact odds that Mikhail Gorbachev is the Antichrist. Eeeenteresting. And a very applicable one: in 2004 the award in Public Health was given to researchers who studied the scientific validity of the five-second rule. Talk about one applicable to our daily lives!

It is my recommendation that you watch the video of the entire ceremony (search around the website for the link). You can also catch an hour of highlights from the show by listening to NPR's Science Friday the day after Thanksgiving (or listen to the podcast some time after that). But whatever you do, either read them or listen to the broadcast because the show and the awards are hysterical.

12 October 2006

Take this Job and...

I am really not loving my job lately. I'm not exactly sure why, either. It might be that I'm bored, because I certainly am. I have one project that I'm working on, and I really have no desire to work on it. I have been bored at work for about the past three months. I think these three months have untrained me on how to work. I just can't get back into a groove anymore. Sigh. So this has left me a lot of time to think about the pet peeves about my work. Here's what I came up with:
  • HR Departments. I have never found an HR department that I honestly believe does good work. I don't believe they exist. During lengthy conversations with C, we decided that HR departments suck because the people they hire have zero training to work in HR. I could go on and on about the screw-ups that my HR department has accomplished (giving my bonus to someone other than me, not passing on important paperwork, etc.), but I won't. I'm better than that.
  • People using the automatic door openers when they're obviously not handicapped nor carrying awkward packages. Honestly, how lazy can you be that you can't even open the door for yourself?!
  • People using elevators to go one floor. Admittedly I use it to go only two floors, but that's because we don't have stairs that make it an easy transition between floors three and one. (But if I have to go to the fifth floor, I take the stairs.) However, to go between the third floor to the second floor is an easy DOWNHILL walk.
  • Co-workers who have accrued hundreds of hours of sick leave but refuse to use it. Instead, they demonstrate what a "dedicated" employee they are by coming to work and spreading their germs to everyone else. Just stay home and watch Ellen. Sheesh.
  • People who think they know how to get the scanner to read the IDs. We got these new scanners that check our IDs before we walk through security. Sometimes they simply don't work. But people behind me seem to think they know the exact way to hold the card so that it will read. Don't they think I've tried everything? Don't they know that the way they're telling me to hold it is exactly what I was doing? Don't they know the person behind them is telling me something completely contradictory to what they're telling me? Everyone can't be right.
  • Blocked websites and software. Fine. I get it. Employees use their work time to visit porn. Block the porn. But is there any good reason to not allow employees to use some sort of IMing software? Don't they realize what an efficient method of communication it is? And what's so bad with me wanting to play a game of Scrabble with my sister during my lunch hour? Nothing I say.
  • People who bring reading materials into bathroom stalls. I'm not sure why this creeps me out, but it just does.

Did I miss anything?

10 October 2006

This Weekend

Saturday night, C and I went to the wedding of one of his co-workers. It was my second non-Mormon wedding, and certainly the fanciest. But I learned that there are pros and cons to each type. First, I liked this wedding because it seems more "typical." I have seen tons of movies with tons of weddings, none of which matches the LDS temple ceremony. So it is fun to see ushers seating guests and a bride walking down the aisle. I liked this wedding because people got fed a real dinner. A real good dinner. We had these tasty pears-wrapped-in-Brie-cheese appetizers, among other things. For dinner, I had some super-tasty red meat. Also, all of the tables had candy (candy!) on them. I dined on the sour gummy worms all night. People genuinely seemed to be having a good time (but alcohol and dancing usually don't fail at this). Don't forget to check out her crazy Mad Hatter cake (or at least one close to it)!

LDS weddings certainly have their pros as well (aside from the whole "married for eternity" thing). First is that the commitment for guests requires a much shorter time. We spent four hours at this wedding Saturday night. Guests to my wedding reception could come in, shake our hands, get some cheesecake, and then be out the door in 15 minutes. And more than likely, our weddings don't generally cost as much as non-LDS weddings. We generally don't feed full-course meals and don't have open bars. I can't even imagine what this wedding cost the couple and their parents. But it was interesting to see.

That was Saturday. Monday was my day to play "housewife" as I was off and C worked. I LOVED it. I felt so productive, but enjoyed the rest at the same time. I slept in until about 7:30, read the paper, went running, showered, cleaned the house, and watched a little TV. I am always surprised at long this takes me (4.5 hours!). I can only image what it will take once I have kids. Then I went grocery shopping. After that, I came home and spent four hours in the kitchen. I made some granola, wheat bread, and chicken noodle soup for dinner. I was able to have a clean, good-smelling (thanks to the granola) house when C got home. And dinner was ready in 15 minutes form the time he walked in the door. It just felt good. Part of me is embarrassed to say this. I like being a working woman and earning my own money. But there is certainly something to say about taking care of a house and a man.

Does that mean I could do this every day? Not sure. Does this mean I could do it everyday with kids? Even less sure. But I would like to try it someday.

06 October 2006

Fun for Fridays, Part Deux

During the General Relief Society meeting two weeks ago, a poem (search for "simple verse" to read it) was read by President Hinckley. My sister loved it so much that she wanted to somehow display it in her son's room. I posed this question to the "Home Front" online chat last Thursday (search for "poem" to find the post). But during yesterday's online chat (search for "lettering"), someone suggested this place. OH MY GOSH. It's my new secret desire to use their services sometime in my life. The things that they do, in my opinion, are so beautiful and really add a lot to a room. I just thought it was too cool not to share. Here are some of my favorites:

02 October 2006

My Life is Sooo Hard!

So I've returned to thinking (I know you're all so happy). And here's the latest. Often I feel the need to express the following statement: "My life is sooo hard." The expression is most frequently brought on because of something hard like, oh, I just missed the 6:34am train and had to wait three whole minutes for the next one. Or, all the new treadmills at the gym are being used, and I have to use one of the old (but still super nice) treadmills. Or, the most heinous of crimes, someone ruins my "grand finale" mouthfuls of Hot Tamales by eating one of my seven last Hot Tamales. (How am I supposed to eat one, then two, and then **FOUR** if I don't have seven Hot Tamales?!)

Admittedly, the previous examples are certainly not examples of my life being truly hard, but rather me being a spoiled brat (thanks mom, dad, and C). However, there certainly have been times in my life where it has been truly hard. But without fail, something will happen during these hard times and it will make me feel awful about feeling awful, like the time where I saw the show "A Face for Yulce"on TLC. WHOA. I mean, how dare I feel sad about my life when there are things like this going on in the world? I must be a horrible, selfish, spoiled brat for thinking that my life was hard.

But you know what? I'm not a horrible, selfish, spoiled brat for thinking that my life was hard. I may be horrible. I may be selfish. I may even be a spoiled brat. But sometimes my life really is hard. That is, it's hard for me. And I think that's the important difference. What Yulce had to go through was hard for her. And what my dear friend R is going through right now is extremely hard for her. And whatever trials I am going through, are hard for me.

I guess it is just a realization of the doctrine that Heavenly Father gives us only those trials that we are able to overcome. (C would add that this doctrine never says that we will overcome them, just that we are able to do so). I might not be able to overcome the same trials that Yulce would be able to overcome. But that doesn't make my trials any easier. They're still trials. They're still mine. And they're still hard.