Month: April 2007

Bad day? Vent with haiku.

When I used to work in an office with cool coworkers, I was in a punchy mood one night and started writing haiku* based on real customer emails.

I am quite upset
At your stupid, sucky, lame
Mickey Mouse product.

Email 1:
Template doesn’t work!
You guys are crooks! I hate you!
Refund my money!

Email 2:
I was just joking.
Ignore my former email.
I figured it out.

On especially bad days when dealing with rude customers, my coworkers and I would instant message each other with “haiku that we would like to send over email.”

Valued customer:
We regret to inform you
That you are stupid.

If I said bad words
I would say a lot of them
To this stupid man!

I found that this was a very safe way to vent frustration and keep a decent demeanor with customers and coworkers alike.

A friendly warning –
Haiku can be addictive,

You may begin to
think, read, and speak in groups of
five, seven, and five.

* Haiku (the same word is used to refer to either singular or plural) is usually a short poem of three lines. The first and last lines have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7.

Out of the book bag…

Just finished reading:

PopCo by Scarlett Thomas – For some reason this book reminded me of a mix of The DaVinci Code with the movie version of Fast Food Nation (I haven’t read the book). Throw together some social commentary about the over-marketed toy/kids industry, some cool puzzles and cryptography, and an interesting heroine who doesn’t like being like everyone else, and you have an excellent novel that kept my attention all the way through.

The Black Gryphon, The White Gryphon and The Silver Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon – I may have read Mercedes Lackey books a while ago but they were not impressive enough to make any mental mark on me. I wasn’t especially enthralled with The Black Gryphon, but I thought the other two had good stories (political intrigue and clashing of cultures in White and “wilderness survival” type storyline in Silver) and enjoyed them. I’m now more motivated to pick up other novels within the same “series.”

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clark – A collection of short faerie-related stories by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Similar to Jonathan Strange, the stories are written in various old “dialects” which I think was half the fun of reading them.

With a bookmark:
(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (picked up this week)
  • Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Library book box:
(I will probably finish these before some of the poor books that have bookmarks in them)

  • The Destruction of the Books by Mel Odom
  • Lord of the Libraries by Mel Odom
  • Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
  • The Well of Lost Plots by Fforde (picked up this week)
  • Something Rotten by Fforde

Luckiest Day Ever!

Steve and I started playing Zilch for fun tonight. On my first roll, I got 1-2-3-4-5-6 for 2000 points. On my third roll, I rolled 6-6-6-6-6-6!

This is apparently worth 10,000 points. I took a photo of the dice because I was surprised.

Untracked week

Most of this week has been poured into my current Big Project. My schedule has been a little bit off in that I’ve been working a little later to put more time in the Big Project, but so far nothing else has suffered. I’ve been getting to practice harp consistently, have been cooking tasty and healthy meals, even went running once, but have not really been keeping track of anything after Tuesday. So much for my cute tracker sheets! (Monday was a great day for my tracker sheet – I almost filled out all my bubbles!)

While I don’t feel stressed right now, I’ve certainly been going on full-speed. This weekend was pretty hectic what with the baby shower and all, and my Sunday, while restful, wasn’t long enough for me to fully recover. I’m hoping to take tomorrow and Sunday to catch up on life and sleep, think about priorities… and maybe work on some personal projects that I have going on. The rest of today is going to be working on finishing off any client project debt that accumulated this week, harp practice, and dinner.

Producing video training curriculum

One of the Big Projects (okay, the only Big Project) I am working on right now for PixelMill involves designing, writing, and producing training videos as part of a curriculum for an Unnamed Company. Anyone following me on Twitter is probably tired of my same ol’ tweets — “storyboarding video curriculum,” “writing training video script,” “producing video training.”

I’ve made several little training video segments in the past for PixelMill, but this particular Big Project had several parameters that forced me to work differently.

  • I had to help plan an overall curriculum, in contrast to the one-time discrete training videos I’ve created in the past.
  • Each “session” had to be from one hour to two hours long, in contrast to the 3-5 minute training videos I’m used to creating.
  • I was personally unfamiliar with part of the curriculum and had to be brought up to speed by others, so I had to also learn as I was planning things out.
  • With my other videos, I’m the sole author, editor, and producer. For this project, at least two other people had to review and approve the videos, so I had to be prepared for changes.
  • We had to be prepared for the eventuality of updating portions of the videos as the Unnamed Company updated things on their end.

For this kind of large-scale training where portions of the video training would be updated in the future and content would be approved, I had to approach the project with scalability in mind and develop strategies for minimizing the stuff that takes the longest — i.e., actually creating the videos and rendering them. Here are some of the strategies I used:
Continue reading “Producing video training curriculum”

True story.

I’m trying to get back into my routines and limiting my blog-time this morning. So I’m cheating and pulling one of my favorite comics for a quick post. If you like this, there are always more that I can throw into the mix every once in a while.

(Click to see a larger version…)

Real Art

©2006 Corrie Haffly. From Christmas Newsletter 2006.

Harp-related ponderings.

It’s been a long time since I’ve formally learned an instrument, so I’m trying to go back to my memories of learning piano to see what helpful strategies and tools I can apply to learning the harp. What I can remember…

  • Having a metronome was key. I’m still using the online metronome for this.
  • I recall having a spiral-bound notebook that my teacher would use to write my “assignments.” The teacher would also write the date in the music book next to a new song that I was learning. This last lesson, I asked my teacher to give me specific finger exercises to work on (instead of my previous method of haphazardly picking ones to learn), and focusing on that has helped a lot.
  • My teacher had a tape recorder so that she could have me listen back to how I was playing, to catch mistakes, uneven scales, etc. My harp teacher suggested this as well. I haven’t gotten anything yet, and will probably try using my laptop to record clips as I play, since I have it next to me (for the online metronome) anyway.

Any other tips from those of you who have formally learned instruments?

One thing I’ve started doing my own is trying to log what I do during practice. So far I’ve been jotting down cryptic notes on a piece of notebook paper with the page number of the exercise or a keyphrase for the title of the song, along with the speed that I’m practicing at, the number of times (sometimes), and other notes like “Argh!!” or “better!” or “finally a good run” or “weak on higher chords.” I’m finding that looking back to the last few days is helpful when determining what to focus on, and I can also catch if I’m neglecting something else.

I just got to the end of my first page today and am wondering if I should start keeping a log on my computer or online somehow instead so that I’m not using so much paper. Starting a different blog (so as not to clutter up this blog with cryptic harp practice notes) seems easiest because I can start new entries instead of loading a long document… Hmmmmm….

Thoughts or advice appreciated!