Why I Shouldn’t Draw Babies

Despite my lack of realistic artistic skill, I occasionally get requests from my friends for pictures. This was a big thing when we were in Ireland — I’d draw Susie or Libby’s friend Michelle, and then we’d take pictures of them in front of famous European landmarks. It’s kind of cheesy, but it was fun.

Right before we left on spring break Danielle asked me to draw her best friends from school, who are twins. Danielle loved the picture, but I decided I would surprise her by adding a little bonus drawing. One of the twins has a daughter (who is possibly the cutest little girl I have ever seen) that Danielle is close to, so I started to pencil her in between the twins.

I say “started” because after reaching a certain point I had to stop for fear of bring about the Plagues of Egypt.

If you can manage to tear yourself away from the hypnotizing horror that manifests itself into the cold unblinking eyeballs, you’re arrested with the crooked childish smile poised to drain the life from any unsuspecting observer, only to back away and realize that it’s not a child at all, but a freakish mutant hybrid of a chipmunk and a toad. This description becomes even more apparent when the model for the drawing is taken into account.

People always say that I am my own toughest critic, and usually I’ll admit to that. In this case, I’d like to find anyone who doesn’t find that baby terrifying.

Just try and sleep tonight.

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Healthcare for Laptops

Yesterday my 14-month-old T400 Lenovo laptop, was diagnosed with a startup error.

Pictured: Something you never want to see.

It was very sudden, Lappy was working fine one minute then it suddenly shut down and restarted with this. The error is common among computers with brand new operating systems, as it indicates that something wasn’t installed correctly. However, Lappy didn’t have a new operating system, which most likely means the partition has been corrupted on the hard drive.

For those of you who don’t speak geek, this is essentially the computer equivalent to a stroke.

The only solution is to completely re-install Windows, which I’m sending it to the Loras Help Desk to do this week. Unfortunately, in addition to being a major inconvenience, I will lose every single piece of information that was on it. Every picture, every song, every word document that I haven’t backed up on my external hard drive is now lost.

Incidentally, the things I have backed up on my external hard drive do not include about half the pictures I took in Europe last semester.

Let this be a lesson to all of you. Lappy was healthy and functioning one minute, and completely incapacitated the next, and if I had been better about backing things up more often, all I’d have to worry about now is re-configuring my settings when Lappy comes home with a shiny new OS.

Even the laptop hated getting its picture taken.

While Lappy’s out I’ll be using the family’s Dell Latitude D820, circa 2006, which weighs in at a hefty 7.15lbs. and features a 1.83 GHz CPU with a 2MB cache, as well as a battery life of one half of ten minutes.

Get well soon, Lappy.

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Flip

I’ve recently discovered something I’ve had a sneaking suspicion about for awhile.

No, not that.

As an IS intern, Securian has given me several different responsibilities. These include simple things like being to work on time and not setting my desk on fire, job-specific things like application development and training in Lotus and WebI, and of course the immensely important role of video blogger.

That’s right, part of my job is to talk to a Flip camera like a crazy about my job, and annoy my coworkers by forcing them to be on camera and talk about their jobs. Forcing people to be on camera? Come on, I’m completely out of my comfort zone here.

This proves nothing.

The point is, being an intern video blogger has led to an important discovery: the discovery that I should never be allowed to speak extemporaneously on camera. Ever.

Let me explain.

I am full of ideas and opinions and occasionally a witty remark (though typically a misguided pun), and I love sharing these things with people, but I have to do so in a specific medium, usually through written word or comic form.
Why?
The simplest explanation is that my brain and my mouth don’t run at the same speed. I’ll have a thought or get an idea and think of a way to cleverly/intelligently word it, then I’ll either think about it and write or draw something cool, or I’ll open my mouth and watch everything go to hell.

If I had tried to explain this concept out loud, my mouth would have burst into flame.

Subsequently most encounters with the Flip camera result in me babbling like a lunatic and re-shooting simple sentences like, “This week I was in training for form development on Monday and Tuesday” more times than should ever be necessary.

The good news from this is that I’ll never be one of those girls on YouTube complaining into a webcam about the minor inconveniences of my mundane life. The way I see it, something is only worth complaining about if it’s annoying enough that taking the time to draw a comic or cleverly word a rant makes it slightly more bearable.

Unfortunately, all the rantings and comics in the world can't make this less annoying.

I guess for now all I can do is wait for HR to get frustrated with my lack of coherent footage, and hope they confiscate the camera. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a switch to written blog.

I Still Didn’t Get Your Texts

Danielle and Libby just called me. They’re at Danielle’s for a golf outing tomorrow and decided to reminisce about how much they miss me. With me. On the phone. And then take pictures of each other with the phone, but only once they put pants on to hide their hairy legs.

This may or may not be what they actually said…I can only understand so much over a speaker phone. Regardless, I someday wish to understand their logic. They’re awesome.

I do miss them a lot. It’s weird having spent four solid months seeing the same 10 people every single day, and then not seeing any of them.

Also Libby scolded me for not writing about her more here.

Hi Libby.

Hey you!

The Fast and the Furious: Interns Strike

It’s been nearly a month since I started at Securian, and I’ve found that interning is essentially the equivalent of employment limbo. As an intern, no one’s quite sure what to do with you. Everyone knows you’re there to learn and get experience, but everyone also knows that you have an expiration date, and that you’re so eager to do something — anything — that they can give you even the most tedious and mundane tasks, and you’ll still take them with a smile and have them done in no time, still eagerly looking for things to do.

Just like this, but way less fabulous.

It may sound like they’re not giving me anything to do if I’m always looking for work, but that’s simply not true. When I haven’t been in training I’ve been given up to twelve different tasks or projects to work on at once. The problem seems to lie with time management. My supervisor will give me something to do, like update macros of two different folders
full of linked spreadsheets, and in the spec sheet with my instructions is a time estimate of six hours. Except an hour and ten minutes later I have everything updated, run, tested, retested, and sent out for review, and Supervisor doesn’t have anything else prepared for me to work on because a six hour project should take up most of my eight hour day. He emails the rest of the team who send back an assortment of work, anything from job ordering (data entry), to programming document forms in Lotus Notes — I’m the odd-job handyman of the IS Investments team.

Can we fix it? Only if properly caffeinated.

Once I reached a point in my training that actually allowed me to work on my intended projects, this issue continued. Supervisor sent me an enormous list of updates, repairs, and changes to make on a Lotus database that another department relies on to get their jobs done. I was supposed to start working on the changes on a Wednesday, meet with Supervisor and the manager of the other department on Friday to discuss progress and what was being implemented, and complete everything by the following Tuesday.

I sent everything in for review by Thursday morning, effectively moving the project ahead an entire week. The downside to this is the work I was supposed to be assigned to do after I completed my first round of assignments still isn’t ready for me to work on today, a week later, so I’m back on macro troubleshooting.

See? Sometimes infinite loops work out fine.

I swear I’m not bragging. I’m not telling you about how I knock out projects in a fraction of the allotted time to talk about what a stellar developer I am — I’m not fast, the time is just slow. They give me a ridiculous amount of time to complete a simple task, and the other interns are dealing with the exact same thing.

Honestly? I’m actually kind of grateful for it. It means that they’re willing to give us time to actually learn the how’s and the why’s behind what we’re doing, rather than just rushing us through to get as much done as possible in twelve weeks. Plus I just know that one of these days all this excess time is going to turn around and bite me.

Until that day, I’m going to enjoy my macros.

Return!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s been a month since I’ve been back home in the states. I miss Ireland. I miss my friends and roommates, I miss being a short train ride from an amazing city that I knew inside and out, I miss €2 coins, and good Guinness, and stable weather (seriously, last Tuesday it was 103°F in St. Paul, and by Friday it was 55°F). I also really miss blogging.

I can do something about one of those things (within reason. The weather-beam is still in early production), which does in fact mean what you think it means.

It's a big deal.

“But wait!” I imagine you must be thinking, “You’re back home! You have nothing interesting to write about anymore!” Indeed, you have a point. I’m not in Ireland, so how can I continue an Ireland-based blog? The truth is, I’m now one of those people who has a blog for the sake of having a blog. “How retro!” you exclaim, “How quaintly 2004 of you! Does this mean you’ll continue to bombard us with the mundane details of your everyday life which have become more mundane as a direct result of living in Eagan instead of Sandymount?” Of course.

"My life is complete!"

With a few adjustments, that is. I’m not going to be posting everyday because I don’t have the time, and my life really isn’t that interesting. The truth is, I really like writing, and this gives me a reason to. Feel free to read if you have nothing better to do, but I won’t be offended if you choose not to. I’m still flattered so many of you have read as much as you have already.

Now, where to resume? As I said, I’ve been home for a month, which is actually kind of a long time. I mentioned that I miss a lot of things from Ireland, and I do, but I am enjoying being home. My first weekend back I drove down to Iowa to see all my friends at Loras and my relatives in Dubuque, all of whom I missed immensely all semester. At home, I’ve gotten to see a handful of my friends (most of them are spending the summer away working or taking classes), spend time with my family, go to the cabin, and bartend a couple graduation parties.

I come with the bar and accept wine as payment.

Possibly the most exciting thing that’s happened in the last month is the beginning of my job. For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently employed as an IS intern at Securian Financial Group, Inc. in St. Paul as a program analyzer in the IS Investments division.  Unnecessarily long titles aside, I’m a tech geek that’s working on databases for a mutual insurance firm. More importantly, I really like it.

I work 6:45am until 3:30pm, and take the bus to and from St. Paul every day (which makes me miss the Ath Cliath double deckers), and so far I’ve done a handful of small projects like updating linked spreadsheets, fixing macros, and filling out LAN Batch Tracking job orders. Last week I was trained in Lotus Notes and its Domino Designer, so my next projects will involve the structural end of the databases, which is right up my alley. If you didn’t understand a word that I just said, and therefore have no idea why I like my job, you should know that there’s a Caribou Coffee in my building.

I'll never leave you.

That pretty much sums up everything that’s been going on in the last few weeks. I’ll keep updating as things keep happening. Just don’t sit around waiting at the computer all the time. It’s summer after all, go outside.