The Sunshine Returns And So Do I

Last Sunday’s snowstorm stripped a lot of our trees well before their time this season. The dying leaves couldn’t stand up to the onslaught of wet, heavy snow and ice. They fell to the ground in large clumps, robbing us of the autumn magic of slowly falling leaves that crunch happily underfoot. When the snow melted a few days later, the bare trees still cast a tone of death over the Front Range.

And we experienced a real death. A man our age that a friend of mine met a while back on a dating app passed away from sepsis. One day he was out working and laughing and enjoying the company of his friends, assuming he had at least 40 more years of life ahead. Two days later he was dead. Continue reading →

New Old Name, Identical Unique Personality

As of one hour ago, I officially have a new name. Well, more accurately, I officially have my old name back. I left my ex-husband over seven years ago, but until about two years ago, I didn’t want to go back to my maiden name. My acquired surname was too cool. I liked it for its linguistic complexity and meaning, and I liked it for its difficulty of pronunciation and spelling. But then one day I decided I was over it. Nothing happened, I simply changed my mind. Then I spent a few years thinking about what name I could adopt instead, but that responsibility proved to be too much. Too many options. You can literally change your name to anything you want. Did you know that? Analysis paralysis set in. Eventually, I gave up and decided to take the boring route of going back to my maiden name. And so after waiting months for fingerprints and background checks and court dates, I’ve gone back to who I once was.  Continue reading →

Being Dog’s Best Friend

When I was 21, I spent five months living in India. It was only the second foreign country I had ever been to, and the first was Australia, which didn’t really prepare me for what I was about to encounter. The conditions people existed in—both their own physical bodies and the environment around them—were horrific. People had all manner of rashes, diseases, infections, open wounds, and missing limbs. They lived six people to a single room or two people to a single patch of sidewalk. They were dirty and hungry and desperate. Every time I would walk down the street to run a simple errand or go somewhere, people would touch my light hair or my pale skin, or tug at my clothes and ask if I could help them. It was a shocking but crucial formative experience in my development as a compassionate human being and a critical thinker. Continue reading →

Demon Déjà Vu

Now that I’m a runner (apparently), I run on vacations. Unless I’m staying in a hotel, which is rare with all the great AirBnBs out there, running is often the only viable form of exercise. Since I was staying at my parents’ house last weekend, I went for a few runs in my old neighborhood. They live about 30 minutes outside Buffalo, New York in a small town called Alden. It is very rural, with more farm and forest land than people and houses. It’s an “all American” town, a place where you can leave your doors unlocked and let your kids run around unsupervised for the entire day and not have to worry. The lack of traffic makes the roads great for running. Yet these qualities also make it an ideal hunting ground for pedophiles and psychopaths. Continue reading →

The Design of Everyday Things

I shamelessly poached the title of this post from a book I’m reading for professional development: The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. I don’t include books I read for anything other than pleasure in my semi-annual book reports, but product and user experience design has been so much on my mind lately that I felt compelled to write about it. This is especially because when I encounter bad design in the real world, there’s generally no one I can provide my feedback to who has any level of influence. Not that anyone reading this blog has influence over any of these issues either, but I feel better writing out my frustration. Here are a few user-unfriendly experiences I’ve had this year. Continue reading →

39 and Counting

I am now in my 40th ride around the sun. Technically my birthday was a few days ago, but I’m in the middle of the A to Z blog challenge, and didn’t want to bombard my readers with two posts in one day, so I’m posting on a challenge day off. I spent my birthday weekend indulging in a stay in the Lumber Baron Inn and doing all the things in Denver I never do anymore, since Boulder has me firmly in its gentle grasp.

I’m feeling fantastic in this, the last year of my thirties. Last year was everything I could have wanted, and I have no reason to believe that this year won’t be every bit as wonderful. To celebrate, I’d like to highlight what made my last year so enjoyable.

Continue reading →

A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by. Continue reading →

Primal Screams

Most days, the sun shines down on me. And that’s not just because I live in Boulder. I live a fairly easy life and whatever is difficult, is generally self-imposed. But once in a blood moon, everything goes horribly wrong.

Last Wednesday night, I had to catch a flight to Dallas. I’ve traveled enough over the last few years that I have my airport timing mastered so that I walk through security, take the train to my terminal, fill my water bottle, use the ladies room, buy an in-flight snack, and have just 5-10 minutes before boarding starts. I see no need to sit around the airport for an hour twiddling my thumbs. To adhere to my plan that night, I had to leave my house that night at 5:45. Everything was in place. The dog was already at his boarding facility, the dishes were done, my coat and shoes were on, and everything I needed was sitting in my suitcase. All I had to do was zip it.  Continue reading →

What Is It I Do Exactly?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s taken me years to really remember/know/understand what most of my friends do for a living. Some of them don’t really know what I do either. And hell, I dated someone for many years and never quite understood what he did. Probably that’s because he generally slept in until 10 am, surfed the internet all day, and then took people out for drinks and dinner, but there must have been some kind of work in there somewhere. The friends whose jobs I can actually describe well are friends who I’ve worked with or whose industries I’ve worked in.

Well, if you’re following my blog and wondering what it is I do, I write technical manuals. User guides, upgrade guides, installation guides, and all kinds of other technical content for a cyber security company. At least, that’s what I do in the current iteration of the full time employment phase of my life. In other iterations, I’ve been an ESL teacher, a localization/translation project coordinator, and the managing editor of an elearning company. So, I’ve always worked with language in some form or another. Continue reading →

Keep Your Nose Up

There are no spoilers in this post but there are spoilers in the links I’ve provided. Click at your own risk.

A few weeks ago, I watched the latest season of Black Mirror. Like all seasons after the epic first one, it had some episodes that blew me away (Hang the DJ) and some I could have done without (Metalhead). For me, the primary brilliance of Black Mirror lies in how close we are to every dystopian terror they depict becoming reality. Yes, some more than others, but the technologies highlighted in the episodes seem to me decades away or less, rather than the centuries implied by shows with long-distance space travel and flying cars. The kidnapping/ransom plot in the brilliant debut, The National Anthem, could easily happen tomorrow. And although I vow to always resist any attempt to implant surveillance technology in my body, there are millions out there willing to be early adopters, making many of the show’s other plot lines right at our fingertips. Some of the technologies probably are already in beta testing in a lab somewhere close to home. Since I was going to have nightmares anyway, I decided to rewatch some of favorites from other seasons, such as Nosedive from season three. Continue reading →