It’s Friday afternoon, it must be time for a roundup

August 10, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Sports, Work 

You may be wondering why I do these on Friday afternoons.  You see – my employer does something called Summer Hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Employees who choose to take advantage of the program work an extra hour Monday through Thursday and go home at noon on Friday.

I do not choose to take advantage of Summer Hours, so the place is quiet on Friday afternoons.  I have time to write a little on break.

I had a good conversation about career paths and discovery and discernment with my boss this week.  This is probably setting off alarm bells in most of your minds, but we have a really good rapport (we’ve worked together since about 1996) and I fully trust her to be discrete.  There are benefits to both sides in being open and honest with your boss, and we plan to make good use of them.  I can’t say more here.  I’m glad that it went well.

I had a medium-sized project go live today.  It was a bumpy installation – caused mainly by a consultant who doesn’t know our setup and change management package.  It’s not his fault – everybody has a hard time the first time.  Once we got the issues worked out all is running correctly.  I have another one going live soon, and a third larger project going live at the end of the month (with pieces continuing to be worked on into September).

I am getting a brand-new laptop at some point in the next few weeks.  They’re here, but I’m a low priority replacement (others have broken systems or are new employees working on “loaner” PCs).

Work has been generally busy.  In the last 2 weeks I’ve had an overwhelming number of problems, issues, and small requests.  It’s like everybody decided to hold them until the last week of July and then dump them all on me at once.  I think I’m through most of them, but the workload did increase for no apparent reason temporarily.

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This weekend is a bit active.  My parents are coming over on Saturday evening and we are headed out to see a Trenton Thunder baseball game.  The Thunder are the AA affiliates of the NY Yankees and have been playing in Trenton since 1994.  Our seats are behind the 1st base side dugout and I think they’re the 2nd row behind the dugout (or maybe the first row).

Then on Sunday I head up to Camp Johnsonburg for check-in for the last week of regular camp.  I’m going to be in charge of medical form paperwork this week due to my friend Jill’s vacation – she is usually the person doing the job.  It’s looking to be a bit warm.  I think there are lots of kids from my church going this week, but I’m so far away from the actual check-in tables that I probably won’t see them.  This isn’t my last visit for a long time – I’m also planning to attend the Youth Worker Training on September 7, and I’ll be chaperone when my church’s Sr. Highs attend the camp Sr. High Retreat in November.

We’ve finally got the Welcome and Outreach Task Force started.  We have 8 members with 2 outstanding invitations.  For the month of August, we’re doing optional reading assignments on our topic.  I’m reading The Present Future:  Six Tough Questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal.  In September we’ll get everybody together face to face and really get started.

The Youth Director came all the way to Bristol for lunch earlier this week.  We talked about my career search and the upcoming Confirmation Class.  He had lots of good input on the career discussion.  For the Confirmation Class, he’s asking how he can get me involved without overbooking my time.  At this point it looks like I will end up being the Cat-Herder for the group of mentors assigned to the confirmands.  That’s an easy assignment – a bit of work up front but after that just keeping people on schedule and watching for problems.  I’m also probably going to teach a few lessons – probably polity and beyond that we’ll see.  I really want to be involved in this process because the youth that I know who are the right age are really great!

All other areas of my life are fine at the moment.

Have a good weekend!

Another Roundup

August 3, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

I’d like to apologize to my readers for the lack of deeply thoughtful articles of late.  Life and work are a bit busy at the moment and I only have time for these roundups.

I’m on the old laptop, reloaded from scratch.  I’ve been told today that I’m getting a new one in the next few weeks.  Given that this one was nearly top of the line when we bought it in 2000 or 2001 – it’s time.  Company culture issues aren’t touching me as much as they had been a while back.  One of the “problem children” has resigned and another in a different state has been told that her job is moving to my location by spring and her department reorganized.  Given that and a few other things I can’t mention here it’s unlikely that she’ll be here by then.  It’s unfortunate when people lose their jobs, but in some cases it’s necessary – anybody who consistently and willfully provides negative productivity (not only are they not productive, they make others less productive) needs to go.

I had a good meeting with with the Youth and Young Adult council this week.  We’re getting ready for the new year.  We talked a lot about the philosophy of how we lead/schedule the group and some possible changes.  The one thing that was a common thread was consistency – that each weekly meeting follow the same pattern and that we choose simple and meaningful as opposed to trying to do a major production each week.  This follows the trend in Youth Ministry nationally to move away from the “let’s bring in new converts” blockbuster events of the 80’s and 90’s and for most the over-30 crowd in the council represents a step back to what they experienced as a youth.  We’re also talking about changing the names of the groups.  Right now they are CHAOS (Christians Hanging Around On Sunday) for the Senior Highs and WILDLIFE (which is an acronym nobody can remember off the top of their heads) for the Junior Highs.  The youth director wants to de-emphasize the chaotic aspects of the names and I agree.  We’re going to see what the youth want early this fall.

The youth director also asked me if I wanted to help lead the Confirmation Class.  This year is the first year doing the class for 9th grade youth (it had been 8th grade, and last year there was no class due to the switch).  I’m honored to be asked, a little uncertain about my ability and the strength of my faith being sufficient, and probably nearly overbooked already.  The Welcome and Outreach Task Force is about to get started, I’ll still be working with the Senior Highs weekly and attending the YAYA council once a month, and the confirmation class is every other week for 8 months plus 3 weekend retreats (one just overnight).  I’ve asked the youth director to lay out time expectations, and perhaps I can be a guest speaker on topics that I know well (polity would be one, and I’m sure that there are a few others).
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The Lawrenceville church and a Princeton church (I think it’s Nassau Presbyterian) are putting together a new young adult event called Theology On Tap.  It’s the 2nd Thursday of each month (starting September) in the Yankee Doodle Tap Room of the Nassau Inn in Princeton at 8pm.  The idea is for 20’s/30’s somethings to get together and share a drink (alcohol optional), fellowship, and talk about theology.  You can find more information HERE, or in the Theolodoodle group on Facebook.  I barely qualify by age, but it’s intriguing enough to me that I’ll probably attend at least the first session.

The youth director also told me a freaky coincidence story.  He was at Triennium 2 weeks ago, sitting with a woman minister friend of his.  She was working on a sermon.  On the table she had laid out a Bible, some books, a few printed e-mails, and one printed blog post.  My director asked, “Can I look at that?” and picked up the blog post.  You’ve probably guessed by now – it was one of mine (either from here or a comment elsewhere).  He started laughing and when she asked why he explained:  “This is one of my adult advisors.”  Since Triennium was attended by youth from all over the world, he claims that I’m now internationally famous!  Somehow I doubt that, but I’m glad that folks are finding worth in my ramblings.

All is well, but we’re so busy with other people’s events (family, camp, church) that we’re neglecting work around the house.  The outdoor trim needs to be painted, the garden needs weeding badly, and the driveway needs to be sealed.  We need to decide whether or not to pay someone to do some of these things (we can afford to) or to stop our commitments and just get it done.

We also need to be sure that we get some downtime.

On the new laptop

July 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Work 

I got my “new” laptop (really the old one reformatted) back today.  I think I have the few extra pieces of software installed and I think I have my environment back to stable.  It’s nice to be home again.

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Friday Roundup

July 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life, Religion, Work 

For reasons that will be clear below, I’ve been quiet this week.  Here’s a roundup.

The big event this week happened on Wednesday.  My work laptop (which I’ve had since 2001) caught a virus mid-morning.  It appears that this virus’s purpose in life was to download other viruses, spyware, trojans, pop-ups, and to take over the box so completely that the machine was unusuable.  I finally had to resort to contacting our Desktop Support folks (I prefer to fix my own problems most of the time) and we agreed that there was no point in saving the box.  The hard drive was wiped and is being reloaded from scratch.  I have a loaner PC for a few days while they complete the reload, and then I’ll have to spend time getting the reloaded PC back to the way I like it.

I’m an IT person.  For us, the loss of a PC or changing PCs is a very emotional thing.  We spend at least 8 hours a day working on the PC.  To us, the PC is a lot like home – we install applications that make life easier, we change the background, we have our lists of bookmarked websites, etc.  Losing the PC to a virus or hard-drive crash is like your house burning down.  Moving onto a loaner PC is like staying in a hotel – you can’t really do much to it and it doesn’t feel quite like home.  The one exception to this rule is a better PC.  That’s like selling your 1500 sq. foot house and moving into a 2400 sq. foot house.  It’s an upgrade!

I may also get upgraded in the near term – I’m waiting to hear.

Also happening at work this week – the division that I support got a new top guy.  He is something we haven’t had for many years – knowledgeable about the business, makes good decisions, and is a friendly person who is easy to work with.  We haven’t had that combination since about 1998.  This bodes well for the business.  If he were able to get the culture changed (which includes people outside of his control – so I don’t think it’s likely) I might consider staying.

I’m headed back to camp for check-in this coming Sunday.  I’m looking forward to it, as I always do.
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Our new Associate Pastor ran the service last weekend alone – our senior pastor is on vacation.  She did a great job.  I wonder if anybody else saw her take a deep breath just before she stood up to speak the first time.

Another amazing thing.  An “older” woman (older than my parents) had some sort of back issue.  When I started attending last year, she was essentially permanently bent over at a 90 degree angle using a walker with wheels.  Then she disappeared for a while, and when she showed up at church she was standing straight!  This past week she was the musical soloist, and at her age she still has a very strong and true voice.  It’s good to see her get back to something else that she had lost.  Very inspirational!

I’m a little worried about the youth group.  I didn’t go on the Mission Trip a few weeks ago.  I’m sensing that the group is at least temporarily breaking into two groups – those who went on the trip and those who didn’t.  After the fund raiser for the trip at the beginning of June, the youth director stopped inviting people (students and advisors) who weren’t going on the trip (reasonable – the meetings were about the trip).  I spoke with the adults and youth who went on the trip and I felt a fairly universal vibe from the youth – if you didn’t go on the trip you let them down.  I would have hoped that the folks who stayed home (including some of the students) would have been formed into the “Pit Crew” or “Support Team” or even “Prayer Team” supporting those who made the trip.  On the up side, I seem to have been active and supportive enough that I’ve been included in the group that plans things for all 3 groups (Jr. High, Sr. High, Young Adult) and we’re meeting next week.

Wife is good.  House is good.  Cats are good.  We need to paint a few things around the house, and we need to get the fireplace chimney fixed/replaced.  Otherwise all is well.  I’m most of the way through the new Harry Potter (no comments with spoilers, please).

That’s the Friday roundup.  Have a nice weekend!