Tuesday, September 29, 2009

how to chill?

FSP has a post today about dealing with disrespectful students. Do you respond coldly? Do you get all worked up? Appeal to a higher authority? Or do you ignore the offenders?

I had a similar problem with disrespectful drillers. When a driller says something offensive, how should I react? None of my usual reactions (calling them out on it, pointedly ignoring it) worked. My problem was, if I ignored it, they would continue. If I got angry, they knew they'd gotten a rise out of me, and they'd keep saying it. And calling in someone else wasn't going to help the underlying lack of respect.

I had more problems with mouthy drillers when I had more experience rather than less. When I first started overseeing drillers, I think it was clear that I was overwhelmed, so they tiptoed around me. With more experience, I had more control over what the drillers were actually doing, and that's when I had more problems with drillers teasing me or saying things to piss me off.

My sweetie says that my problem is that I'm "too adorable". I'd like a solution that doesn't entail waiting another 10 years in the hopes of aging into a little more gravitas.

Monday, September 28, 2009

stress dream

I need to be in the field the next day. It supposedly requires only a few items, but there’s a possibility we’re doing more, which will require more rental equipment. Fine, I think. I’ll just rent what I know I need now.

The car rental place and the equipment rental place are in the same town, so it’s technically possible to get everything together. I start calling around, getting my hotel reservation and the equipment and vehicle reserved, and trying to get directions. But my phone isn’t working well, and I have to run out to get stuff all across town. One of my friends from grad school is supposed to be helping, but she took off in a snit for some reason.

It’s getting close to closing time for all the businesses I need stuff from. And I can’t stay late in my office, which is in one of the facilities I used to do environmental work at. I manage to get out with my stuff, and I find that my rental car is some sort of convertible supercar with about 4 cubic inches of storage space. Also, the driver’s seat is on the right side. And the brakes work by hitting a button on the key fob.

The site is on an island, naturally, and during part of my frantic preparations earlier I got a ferry schedule. So I head out to catch the last ferry. I get there and the parking lot is 2/3 handicapped parking, so I have to park a ridiculous distance away. Also, I apparently didn’t pack any of my field gear, as the trunk (such as it is) is empty. I run up to the office and the guy tells me that the boat leaves in 10 minutes, but it’s oversold. I’ll have to come back in the morning.

…then I wake up. I hate starting the day like this.

Friday, September 25, 2009

hotel tipping?

It's becoming more encouraged/expected in the hospitality biz to leave a tip for housekeeping. I've seen guides that suggest $1 - $2 per day.

I generally do not tip the maid. Does this make me a bad tipper? Bad person? Cheapskate?

Here's the thing: I require zero maintenance when I'm staying at a hotel for work. More and more hotels are providing an option to not change the sheets/towels daily, and I am all for that. The only mess I make is my clothing, which ends up strewn over every available non-bed surface and which the maid (rightfully) doesn't touch. I'd actually be happier if they didn't re-make the bed, because then I wouldn't have to yank the sheets out of the sides of the mattress nightly.

If I do something that requires more effort than making the bed - spill something, clog up the toilet (hey, ladies have, um productive events too!), use up all the tissues/toilet paper - then I do leave something.

When I asked colleagues about this years ago, the response was surprise that they were actually supposed to tip housekeeping. Nobody tipped. But maybe things have changed.

If you do or have done lots of travelling for work, do you leave tips for housekeeping? If so, daily, or just at the end of the stay?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Chris Rowan recently discussed using geoengineering to mitigate climate change on a global scale. This sort of geoengineering gives me the willies; it’s likely to be subject to the law of unintended consequences on a global scale.

Why? Just look at our track record on other environmental fixeds. Use more biofuels, and watch forests get eaten up in an effort to cash in and plant more biofuel crops. Switch to nuclear energy, and then you have a spent rod disposal problem. Encourage more electric (read: battery-powered) cars, and you have a heavy metal mining/disposal problem.

Some of the geoengineering options suggested (blow particles into the atmosphere to create a global umbrella!) to fix global warming just sound like bad ideas. Some (re-injecting carbon into the ground, bio-engineering algae to take up excess atmospheric carbon) sound fairly reasonable. But far more safe and cost-effective would be to try and limit the damage we’re inflicting.

I know how politically thorny it is, but if you think the arguments between developing and post-industrial countries are bad now, wait until the US or Europe decides to “cool things down” and goes a little too far and we have massive crop die-off and famine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

meeting strategies

A couple days ago, FSP posted about meeting pet peeves. Some of the comments indicated that industry meetings are somehow more productive than academic meetings. Au contraire!

As a consultant I distinctly remember meetings that were monopolized by crazy people, meetings that didn't end until the participants had fallen into a post-donut coma, and meetings dominated by "note taking" that was actually playing tetris on various devices.

So here's my advice for a productive meeting, industry, academica, or otherwise:

1. Have a single meeting coordinator/dictator to keep things moving.

2. Write out a clearly defined agenda and stick to it. It doesn't have to be extensive, but you're trying to avoid the bored "let's talk about anything except the subject of this meeting" chatter.

3. If you have a participant who just can't shut up, institute a friendly but firm time limit.

4. Save the donuts for after the meeting.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm back!

...and I don't want to talk about it.

At some point in the future, I'm sure I'll polish/anonymize various facets of the last couple months and post them. They will be almost entirely negative.

I've been totally internet free for a while, so I'll be playing catch-up on the various blogs. But now (unlike the last time I said this) I should be able to keep up with daily posting.