Wednesday Jan 24, 2007

Reading with my Gen M'ers

My mind is blank — probably because I'm reading my email, watching the news, checking my phone messages, and wondering why I can't focus on writing my next blog.

Earlier tonight, during family reading time (30-45 minutes, together, silently reading books, the newspaper, or other articles) with my two kids, I read this article about Generation M. I took the article at face value, while disagreeing with some of what the researchers conclude about how much our kids won't succeed in life due to too much multitasking during their youth.

I persevered through the long article (9 clicks to read the whole thing), and was relieved that they made some solid points toward the end. Its not the fact that our kids are multitasking with their iPods in one ear, while playing video games, and attempting homework that is the problem with their achievement. Its all the things they're NOT doing (and their parents AREN'T doing) instead of multitasking that is the real problem.

I think we'll stick to our family reading time. :D

Saturday Jan 13, 2007

Hair Raising Thoughts

So, I started reading more this year... (And it wasn't even one of my New Year's Resolutions.) It's more about suddenly feeling the need for new ideas, and new ways of seeing things, etc.

Looking over the last two plus years of officially managing an engineering team at Sun got me wondering: What have I learned lately? Do I know anything more this month than last? Am I effectively leading my team? To really get the answers will take more serious investigation than when I worked in more tactical positions. With previous jobs (xml data architect, web site project manager, technical trainer, graphic designer, ice cream scooper extraordinaire — no that's not me in the apron) it was seemingly easier to gauge what I've learned and where or how I've grown. Management, well, that's trickier to measure.

Anyway, I'm reading. This week, I started The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Not exactly because I view my team as dysfunctional, (suppose that remains to be seen, upon outcome of my read) but more so to understand team dynamics better, drive more success, and drive Sun overall.

I started reading it, in all places, at my hair salon. Yes, folks, good hair can take lots of time, and why just sit there with People Magazine? My stylist saw it and said, "Wow, a bit of light reading today?" Ya sure, why not? (Incidentally, she owns the salon, so she may need the book someday too!)

A few pages into it, and it felt pretty good so far. The book is written more like a fable or novel than a "learn how to manage by following these 5 steps" kinda book. Much better suited for the salon that way. ;) One of the first points woven into the story was about how you refer to the group you manage. If you, or the group, do not refer to the collection of people as a team, they probably are not a team. That's interesting, and a glimmer of hope for our situation. That's what we are, a team — the Content Management Engineering TEAM, not Kristen's STAFF or Kristen's DIRECT REPORTS. OK, 34 pages into it and I'm feeling like its worth reading. We'll see where it goes from here; certainly it can't all be this simple...

Tuesday Dec 26, 2006

Siesta was my Smoke Break

I'm not talking about napping... And I'm not talking about smoking.

People who do smoke tend to take three to six breaks a day. Since I don't smoke, I found it important to make other reasons to drag myself away from my screen. For me, when working from home, that reason was Siesta. [No not a nap!] Siesta was my black lab mix -- my dog of 11 years. She passed away a few weeks ago. And when it comes to stress relief, Siesta was my smoke break. I haven't taken a good walk in two weeks, and I miss my Siesta-girl.

Monday Apr 25, 2005

Silly, but strikes a memory

Just cuz I haven't been blogging, doesn't mean I haven't been reading...

DeeTooChee's blog on the t-shirt made me giggle. And made me think about how we refer (in my immediate family only), to the concept of a t-shirt you DO NOT EVER intend to wear. Its called a Siao Ding-Dong. (Sh-oooww ding dong; like you just hit your finger with a hammer.)

The story of the Siao Ding Dong shirt... My father-in-law builds water parks... big, big water parks. From time to time he returns from building a park with treasures or artifacts from his travels. The most memorable gift was from a water park he was building in Taiwan, I believe. The shirt (wish I could snap a picture, but many years have gone by, and cars needed to be waxed) was priceless: a wacky looking bright blue bear, on a surfboard, with a large camera around his neck. At the bottom of the bear was an inscription in Mandarin... and I was never sure what it meant. I believe it was my father-in-law who translated it to Siao Ding-Dong. Yeah, OK, I get it now! And, the best part was that the shirt was mostly polyester, with no stretch and had a bit of a waxy feel to it.

One time, upon returning from a 3-day weekend in Mexico, (rare occasion -- had left the husband and kids at home!) I decided that I had better bring back some t-shirts. So, I ended up doing some last minute shopping from the vendors along the way to the airport. Picked up a half-way decent shirt for my husband (yeah, ok, not that nice, they were 3 for 12 bucks), and brought it home. When I gave it to him, he says, "Hey thanks! Haven't had something like this since Siao Ding Dong!"

Here's a nice place to find a Siao Ding Dong of your own. (Man, I really hope that's not a swear word or something!)

Monday Sep 20, 2004

Java in the Kitchen

Is it crazy to think that even though I have five (ok, four really, the other one's on a shelf in the basement) computers in my home already, that I also need a computer in my kitchen? My significant other and I have decided that having a kitchen computer, not as big as this one though, would make our lives more organized and syncronized... I just need an under-counter-tablet-like-thingie that does the following:

  • Allows for family calendars to be kept in sync. This of course would include hot syncing or "beaming" my stuff from our handhelds.
  • Keep lists of family todos. Those things that don't always get on the calendar, but should be kept track of.
  • Place to centrally keep shopping lists.
  • Must be easily used by the family (via stylus, no keyboard... I think) and stowed -- it'd be cool if it flipped up under the cabinet.
  • [OK, even though I don't cook all that much], I suppose it should keep recipes, allow me to index them, sort, and add comments. I definitely compute better than I cook, but maybe computing in the kitchen would help?

I know what I'm asking for is all on my handheld, but for some reason, that size doesn't seem adequate for the kitchen. And a full-blown computer seems like overkill.

Back in early 2000, Sun and Whirlpool teamed up to build networked home solutions. Back then, with me working at Sun and my husband working for Whirlpool, I figured we'd have the first test home on the market ... complete with a refrigerator that tells me when my cheese is going bad and a jetted bathtub I could contact via cell phone on my way home from work to start it filling with water at just the right tempurature... but seems it hasn't happened yet. No mention today on Whirlpool's website of networked home solutions or java-enabled appliances. Hmmm... Looks like I might just ending up having to put a full-blown computer in the kitchen -- perhaps it can also double as a cutting board?


Passionate about data engineering strategy and solutions for Sun’s external web sites. Happiest when building taxonomies, data models, and high performing teams.

Kristen Harris
Web Data Engineering


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