apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-09-16 03:11 pm

Weekend todo

Friday
7.15 CoDA meeting
Get gas


Saturday
Meditation
Laundry
Dishes

Prepare super bills for submission to insurance company
Water garden
Pay car registration

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Weekly prayer

Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Fill snack containers
Make tea bags
Pick up kitchen and living room

Monday
Reschedule doctor's appointment for next month. 
Make lab appointment
Call PAMF to make sure I canceled appointment 
7.30 ACA meeting
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-09-09 10:44 am

Weekend todo

Friday
7.15 CoDA meeting
Get gas
Fertilize and water garden

Saturday
Meditation
Remove failed caulk from Yellow Bathroom sink
Recaulk Yellow Bathroom sink
Take down Yellow Bathroom vent cover
Laundry
Dishes
Mulch and tidy garden
Prepare super bills for submission to insurance company

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Fill snack containers
Make tea bags
Pick up kitchen and living room
Paint garden stool, vent cover, license plate frame screws

Monday
...
7.30 ACA meeting
apel: (Default)
2017-09-07 04:10 pm

Some thoughts about work

Hackathon
Last week I participated in my employer's semi-annual hackathon. In the past I've hated those events. From the UX side we were encouraged to participate, but the developers didn't want designers in their teams. They weren't sure how to collaborate with us as part of their normal work, and they sure as hell didn't want us designing their output. Nobody from UX was involved in planning or execution of the hackathons. Dev leadership would pay lip service to participation from non-technical staff but didn't try to support it in any way. This is like a perfect storm of everything I hate. 

What made this year different was that I had a really good idea. The raison d'être of the company I work for is to help ordinary Americans save for retirement. But for some unfathomable reason, we don't offer our customers any help once they actually retire. Instead we push their retirement start age a year into the future every year. It's a mystery how the company has survived for nearly 2 decades with that strategy. Of course we don't even know how many customers leave because we're so unhelpful in that phase of their financial lives. My idea was to create a customer experience for a person who has been retired for a few years. 

I recruited a product manager, a financial researcher and a writer to my team, Team Already Retired. Each team could only have up to five members. I was going to go for a marketer to fill the last slot. But then by mistake I recruited a development manager. He in turn recruited another developer, so we had to unload the product manager. But that meant that we could attack the problem from two sides: the customer side and the numbers side.

The writer and me created an email, a landing page and an overview page. The email was meant for people who were over 50 and who had recently stopped working. It invited them to tell us if they had retired. The landing page gave them three options: 
  • Yes, I'm retired and this is the date I stopped working.
  • No, and this is my new employer. 
  • It's complicated, so please call me. 
From there people who said that they had retired would go to an overview page that would give them key information about their finances in retirement, including Social Security and healthcare costs. 

The developers managed to squeeze the relevant numbers from an algorithm that was developed many years ago. So we used those numbers in the prototype that I created. 

There was a lot of buzz around our idea and we did a great demo. We had been told that presentations were going to happen in random order, but instead they went alphabetically. So we were the first team to demo.

I started the demo off with saying that my team was proposing to extend the vision of our founders from helping people prepare for retirement to also help them live well through retirement. I also said that of all the hacks presented, ours had the greatest chance of growing and transforming the company. Bold words, but having seen all the other demos, I still think they're true. Apparently others did too, because we won! 

That felt really good! I feel more accepted by my coworkers than before. Lots of people have come up and congratulated me since the event. There is talk about productizing my idea, too. We'll see where it leads. For now I'm happy that we won. I'm not sure that I'll volunteer to lead another team next time. It's hard to top that experience of winning the first time I did it. 

Fancy Ass Designer
Of course there's backlash too. The Fancy Ass Designer didn't participate in the Hackathon. Apparently he got bored while I and most of the engineers were doing that, so he put in some work on the area of the project that he had delegated to me. *head desk* As I told somebody else, when you've delegated something, it stays delegated. Partly taking it back and sketching some random ideas that you don't even know if they're viable, is just poor management.

The product manager who was associated with my team, is also the PM who is leading the project the FAD and me are working on. I think that working on my part of the project was a way for him to "win back" the PM from me. It seems childish but that's par for the course for this guy. 

Another UX person was walking around making sure everybody on the UX team signed a baby shower card earlier this week. She had a list, but the Fancy Ass Designer's name wasn't on it. It's just one more thing that makes me think that he isn't going to be around for much longer. I'd be surprised if he's still here when it's time to sign my birthday card in January. 

Accessibility
The again, I'm not sure I'll be around for that either. Accessibility has reared its ugly head again. I last wrote about the topic and how it's been mismanaged back in June. I'm still their fallback plan and the brass still don't get it. A lot has happened since June. I was able to get my manager to understand the topic a bit more. We did some preliminary work on selecting an accessibility company that would help us make our customer-facing sites accessible.

Auf Nimmerwiedersehen, Boss!
Since then my manager has left. I've know since January that he was on his way out. He'd been to an off-site with the other managers first thing in the new year. When he came back from the off site, he told me that he had been severely criticized by his new manager and his peers for being too wishy-washy. They wanted him to step up and lead to help make the company more UX and design centric. He also said that he knew that he wasn't capable of that. So the writing was on the wall.

I'm happy that he's gone because that gives us a chance to get a UX leader who will actually lead. My manager only blamed his own team for any conflict that came up. He really wasn't a good manager. If it's one thing I expect from a manager, it's that he'll have my back. With this guy you could depend on him blaming you instead.  

New UX broom
One of the last things my manager did, was to hire a very senior designer who I know from my time in a previous company. We worked together on defining interaction patterns. She hasn't been formally tapped to be the new UX leader, but I'm hoping that she will be. She's already shown her leadership skills and others in and outside the team are enthusiastic as a result. We've been waiting for a proper leader for so long! I've been giving her hints and tips along the way and that's worked out very well. 

The New UX Broom has some competition. The Fancy Ass Designer, for instance, seems to think that it's his turn to run the team. If he wins, I'm probably leaving. He's not a great UX project lead and I doubt that promoting him above his incompetence will help matters. There's also the senior visual designer. Back when we had a visual design team, he managed it. Although, given his almost allergic reaction to conflict, he's probably happy to let somebody else lead. Preferably not somebody who will blame him for every conflict that crops up! 

More accessibility
Anyway, returning to the subject of accessibility, the heads of Consumer Products and Development are now tasked to deal with accessibility. I had a meeting with them yesterday. They are at sea and they know it. Unfortunately they'd much rather use me as a life raft, rather than learn even a little doggie paddle. I've just written an email to them, further emphasizing that training the developers is not optional if they want to become compliant.

Earlier today I googled the difference in pay between a designer and a product manager. The national median difference is $25,000/year. So if the opportunity presents itself again, I will bring up my idea of moving into product management. Right now I'm thinking that if they want me to work on accessibility full time, they either pay or I hand in my notice. It is way too frustrating to be caught up in their crisis management without a hefty pay rise. It's not like it would be hard for me to find another job if I quit. 
apel: (Default)
2017-09-05 11:34 am

Quick laundry ideas

I'd love to make the garage less unpleasant to spend time in. One way of doing that, would be to spruce up the laundry nook. The washer and dryer are 68 by 66 cm each. Unfortunately the dryer is 8 cm taller than the washer. If I want to install a counter, that matters. I could install the counter on top of the washer and dryer, as opposed to fixing it to the wall. I wonder if simply placing it on top of the washer and dryer with rubber feet would be enough to keep it in place. Or if I need to attach it somehow. I'd rather not drill into my appliances. 

On the wall behind the washer and dryer, there are faucets and pipes. I could hide that with a backsplash. It would need to be at least 35/43 cm tall. There are times when you need to get to the faucets, so the installation can't be permanent. It could be hinged, though. It could even be a hinged shelf. That might look cool. If the shelf is deep enough, I could use it to store laundry detergent and dryer sheets. That way I can use the counter to fold laundry.  

The other problem is the boiler. It has its own niche diagonally behind the washer and dryer. I'm thinking of hiding it. Perhaps behind a louvred door. Or even a closet on casters. 

The walls and floor look terrible. If I want to make the laundry area nice, I need to paint the walls. I also need to put down something on the floor. The floor gets very dirty with dust and leaves that blow in when I drive in and out. So the floor needs to be easy to care for. It's tempting to install some sort of threshold but I think I'd stumble over it. 

68+68=136 cm=54"=4.5' wide
66 cm=26"=2.2' deep
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-09-03 10:59 am

Weekend todo: Labor Day edition

Friday
WFH
3pm Doctor
Ex-manager's leaving do in Mountain View
7.15 CoDA meeting
Get gas


Saturday
Meditation
Caulk Pink Bathroom tub
Laundry
Dishes
Water garden

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Home Depot: Silicone caulk, masking tape 2", air filter 14" by 20" by 1"
Clean out car
Fix threshold in Pink Bathroom

Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Fill snack containers

Make tea bags
Pick up kitchen and living room
Set up painting space again

Monday
Meditation
7.30 ACA meeting

apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-08-19 12:32 pm

Weekend todo

Friday
Grocery shopping
7.15 CoDA meeting


Saturday
Meditation
Check Amazon credit card payment

Laundry
Dishes
Painting
Switch sofa and table around

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Bleach hair
3 pm Hair cut
Home Depot: Aubergine spray paint

Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Fill snack containers
Fill protein containers
Prepare tea maker

Pick up kitchen and living room
Work: Create flows

Monday
Paint garden stool
Put together garden stool
Remove drop cloth outside garden gate
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-08-12 02:33 pm

Weekend todo: Owie edition

On Tuesday morning I did yoga. It felt great but during the day, the obliques on the left side started hurting. It got worse and by Thursday morning they were screaming. I still made it in to work on Thursday, but went home before lunch and continued to work from home. I'm working on accepting that I won't get as much done this weekend as I usually do. Gotta take it easy. The obliques are core muscles. They're involved in lots of movements, including walking. Sitting still is my best bet for getting better.

Friday
WFH
7.15 CoDA meeting

Saturday
Meditation
Quicken
Laundry
Dishes
Paint stuff


Sunday
Bunday
Meditation

Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers

Fill protein containers
Get gas
Pick up kitchen and living room
Paint more stuff

Monday
Grocery shopping
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-08-05 08:10 pm

Weekend todo

Friday
WFH
1 pm Doctor's appointment
Get gas
HomeDepot
7.15 CoDA meeting


Saturday
Meditation
Quicken
Laundry
Dishes
DIY, see separate entry

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation

Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail

Fill medication organizers
Pick up kitchen and living room

Work: Update wireframes, send them to invitees to Friday's meeting

Monday
Call periodontist about bill
apel: (Default)
2017-07-29 10:42 am

Bathroom DIY plans

Yellow bathroom plans
  • Remove bathtub silicon caulking
  • Put fan on timer to dry out wood for at least one week
  • Recaulk bathtub
  • Remove silicon from around sink
  • Clean bathroom fan
  • Install splash guards
  • Repair grout on counter
  • Recaulk sink
  • Install fan timer
  • Paint light: take down, sand, paint with rust preventing color, paint with glossy yellow color
  • Paint hooks on door yellow
  • Paint vent cover yellow or white
  • Paint tower fan
  • Paint space saver: disassemble, sand, paint rust preventing color on metal bits, paint glossy yellow color
  • Prepare cabinet for painting: remove doors and drawers, remove hinges, strip current wood finish, spackle holes from hinges, sand hinges
  • Paint cabinet: Paint cabinet frame, paint hinges, reinstall everything straighter than before.
  • Paint baseboards white: Remove, sand, primer, glossy white paint, polyurethane. Or use same finish as cabinet? 

Pink bathroom plans
  • Put up shower handle holder
  • Apply more anti-slip flowers to bathtub floor
  • Install soft floor 
  • Remove bathtub silicon caulking
  • Remove silicon from around sink
  • Recaulk sink
  • Clean bathroom fan
  • Dry out wood for at least one week
  • Recaulk bathtub
  • Wood finish proof of concept: Take apart towel rod, strip current finish, sand, paint with pale stain, finish with polyurethane, put back together, rehang. 
  • Spray paint hardware: Hook, grab bar, vent cover, toilet roll holders. 
I've got ants in the yellow upstairs bathroom. One of my coworkers said that they like moist wood, so I think it's because the silicon caulking around the bathtub is mostly missing. 

I have two full bathrooms upstairs, one yellow and one pink. Since I have two and live alone, I can afford to use them selectively. I use the pink one for going to the toilet, and the yellow one for showering. I quite like that division. The yellow one feels so much cleaner because I never use the toilet in there. 

But I've got to stop using the yellow bathroom shower for at least a week while I let the construction wood dry out in there. The pink bathroom shower handle just hangs loosely from the hose. So before I can start using it, I need to install a holder. At first I thought that would mean drilling into the wall, but it turns out that silicon glue works fine for shower handle holders nowadays. So I got one from Amazon this week. Installing that will be my first task. 
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-07-29 10:37 am

Weekend todo

Friday
WFH
7.15 CoDA meeting
Get gas



Saturday
Meditation
Laundry
Dishes
Weekly prayer

Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Fill protein powder containers
Painting: Finish sanding downstairs space saver, paint downstairs space saver 
Put up shower handle holder in pink bathroom
Install soft flooring in pink bathroom
Remove silicone caulking from bathtub in yellow bathroom



Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Pick up kitchen and living room
Gardening: Replace petunia with 1 lantana, pot up basil, deadhead and fertilize everything


Monday
Check Rx
apel: (Default)
2017-07-23 09:18 am

Party-ready garden

On Friday afternoon I hosted my fellow designers at a garden party. I'm quite proud of how good the garden looked when the guests arrived. A lot of work went into it. Here's my car trunk full of mulch and soil amendments.
My 🚗 was a bit back heavy yesterday.

I bought decorations like this string light that I put up on the fence.
The new LED light string is "warm white ".

many more garden photos under the cut )

I think it does look inviting. My coworkers all said that it was inspiring to see such a nice garden. So, while it was a lot of work to get it to this point, I think it was worth it. Particularly as I'm the one who gets to enjoy it the most.
Morning light 2.
apel: (Default)
2017-07-22 11:50 am

Weekend todo: Party edition

Friday
Prepare for party
2 pm First guests arrive



Saturday
Meditation
Laundry
Dishes
Clean up after party: Put B's chairs in my car, freeze left-overs, ...? 
Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Painting: Finish sanding downstairs space saver, fill in cracks 

Work: See Evernote


Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Pick up kitchen and living room
Gardening: Replace petunia with 1 lantana
Painting: Paint downstairs space saver, daub blue paint on screws outside

Monday
...
apel: (Default)
2017-07-15 04:44 pm

Petroglyph: Dancing teapot

With some 12-step friends I went to paint ceramics at Petroglyph in San Jose. It was a lot of fun, but it's also kind of expensive.

Here are the colors I used.
Gradient colors: Mellow, Sun, Gold, Goldfish, Pumpkin.

Here's my dancing teapot after I finished painting it.
I painted a teapot at Petroglyph.

And the fired teapot.
My dancing teapot.  #petroglyph

Next time I want to paint a little Goddess statue for my garden. Isn't she cute?
I want to paint this gnome at #petroglyph.
apel: (Default)
2017-07-15 04:28 pm

Oral surgery

The gums around my lower jaw canines have been receding badly for years. On Friday I had surgery for that. The periodontist took a graft from the left side palate and applied it to the lower jaw. The cost after insurance was about $2,200. This surgery was a necessary preparation for getting veneers. At the rate I'm going, I'll have presentable teeth by the time I turn 60. :-/

graphic images )
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-07-15 11:35 am

Weekend todo: Post-surgery edition

Friday
9.30 pm Periodontist
Fill prescriptions



Saturday
Meditation
Laundry
Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail
Fill medication organizers
Painting: Paint downstairs space saver, upstairs bathroom shelf


Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Pick up kitchen and living room
Gardening: Replace catnip plant with lantanas
Daub paint on screws etc.

Monday
PTO
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-07-10 11:39 am

Next weekend

On Friday 21 July I've invited my coworkers over for a garden party. So I need to prepare for that. 

To Dos
Deadhead pelargonium
Daub paint on screwheads etc.
Remove stains on carpet
Wash couch cover and pillowcase
Put all fresh light blue towels in downstairs bathroom
Stack toilet paper on space saver in downstairs bathroom

Not To Dos
Paint window and door frames blue
Paint living room yellow

apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-07-08 01:35 pm

Weekend todo

Friday
WFH
5.30 pm Doctor
Get gas
Buy groceries
Fill prescriptions



Saturday
Meditation
Laundry
Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail

Fill medication organizers
Painting: Paint new patio lamp
Gardening: Continue cleaning up on north side of house, fertilize everything, spread mulch, water containers
Move all garden clutter into garage

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Pick up kitchen and living room
Hang up new patio lamp
Gardening: Plant up front door bed
Daub paint on screws etc.

Monday
Ask coworkers if I can borrow chairs from them

apel: (Default)
2017-07-02 01:13 pm

San Fran Trip in May

I drove up to the City for some fun. First I visited the San Francisco Dungeon experience. This was in the ladies' restroom. The whole experience was fun, if rather expensive.
The Dungeon was fun.

They take pictures of visitors before the tour and sell for an exorbitant price. I got the photos despite that.
San Francisco Dungeon

more photos of the waterfront, South of Market district and art )
apel: What's the next action? (gtd)
2017-07-02 10:53 am

Weekend todo: Independence Day Edition

Friday
Get gas
WFH
Laundry
7.15 pm CoDA meeting


Saturday
Meditation
3pm Petroglyph
Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail

Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Fill medication organizers
Reply to Dolly's email
Quicken
Pick up kitchen and living room
Painting: Get started on painting wall lamp, brackets, bird feeder
Gardening: Fertilize wine, spread mulch, make plans for front door bed

Monday
Meditation
Dishes
Paint stuff blue
Clean swing
Tidy area by the gate and compost bin
Move all garden clutter into garage

Tuesday
Meditation
Staircase walk in San Francisco
apel: (Default)
2017-06-24 06:55 pm

Weekend todo

Friday
9.30 Primary care physician
Home Depot: Irrigation stuff
Get gas
WFH

7.15 pm CoDA meeting

Saturday
Meditation
Bleach hair
2.30 Hair cut

Laundry
Dishes
Weekly prayer
Incoming snail mail


Sunday
Bunday
Meditation
Fill medication organizers
Quicken
Pick up kitchen and living room
Post San Francisco pictures
7pm Refuge Recovery