Don’t count your chickens before they go nuclear

So you know how I was proud about following up last night on my promotion propsal?

Good news, the company VP was in my office today.

Bad news, he’s leaving the company and Friday is his last day.

I’ve been watching the Chernobyl docudrama on HBO and listening to the accompanying podcast. So many things happened that if you didn’t know they were true you would think that it was invented to ratchet up the tension: nuclear power plant explodes? and people just ignore it?? and the nearby city isn’t evacuated for days??? and then the fuel is going to catastrophically explode if they don’t pump the water out???? etc., etc.

I couldn’t have invented a better plot twist for myself if I tried.

I guess most of my disappointment is that after talking with the VP I felt so encouraged, that it felt like it was practically already a done deal. But at least my manager says that we’ll discuss it further, so, fingers still crossed!


I am a patient boy, I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait…

Had a good session with my psychologist yesterday. It was one of those sessions where I went in with no particular topic in mind but a variety of things to talk about, and left an hour later with some real insight on how my brain works and how I act and everything I talked about came out in a nice little package of understanding.

We learned that I’m nervous about sticking my neck out too far, about being noticed, about not following rules (whether actual or unspoken), about taking (or appearing to take) more than my fair share or what I’ve earned. I don’t like feeling like I’m hogging the spotlight, even when I’m not; just let me fade into the background and let others get praise, they probably deserve it more than me.

This can work to my detriment in that I might not advocate for myself and my position as much as I maybe should, even when it’s something I deserve. I’d much prefer to wait and expect that eventually I’ll get what’s coming to me (hence the Fugazi-inspired blog title), and if I don’t get it then it wasn’t meant to be.

We talked a little about how I submitted my promotion presentation a week or so ago and though I felt proud of myself for advocating for my career and professional needs, I’ve also been anxious about having done so. “Why does Glenn feel like he deserves this?” I imagine higher-ups asking, and then I ask myself the same. I also similarly thought that, while I did a good job advocating for a salary increase as part of my presentation, maybe it was too presumptuous to have done so, and then I ask myself “Why did I do that? Now they’ll think less of me. Maybe this was a bad idea.”

But yesterday’s therapy session was good for me to recognize that I act this way, and that I need to advocate for myself more. So, just before writing this post, since I hadn’t yet heard any feedback, I sent a follow-up to see about scheduling a meeting to discuss it further.

Come on and get up
Come on and get up



A few weeks ago I had to take my cat Bertie to the vet for what was going to be a routine dental cleaning that then turned into a scary sequence of events.

At his last vet visit in March the vet inspected his teeth and observed that they could use a cleaning. To be fair, the vet said the same back in March of last year, but they wanted to do a blood draw to make sure that he’d be ok for any anesthesia. I can’t remember if they couldn’t do the blood work then, or if I knew the dental procedure was going to be more than I could have afforded at the moment, so I declined the blood work (I didn’t want to traumatize him by taking him back to the vet again just for a blood draw) and tried a variety of dental pastes and sticks to help clean his teeth. This time the vet said that he not only could use a cleaning but he also had the beginnings of the cat equivalent of a cavity, so we did the blood draw then and I started saving up for dental work.

The vet said that his blood work came back ok for surgery, so a few weeks later I took him in for his dental appointment. I was worried about the whole thing but put it down to nerves – it was the first time I was leaving Bertie at the vet by himself (I never really left him anywhere before where he wasn’t either at home by himself or with my family members to cat-sit him) and kept reassuring myself by thinking of this Hey Pais comic:

Dropped him off at the vet after fasting the night before – he wasn’t happy about not being fed…

…said “see you later, Berts!” when he was carted to the back, and went back home to work until his surgery was over.

I worked for a bit and then got a call from the vet. First thing they did was reassure me that Bertie was okay but that they had some complications during the surgery and had to abort the process. Apparently his heart rate spiked during the anesthesia and the vet wanted me to take him for 24-hour monitoring or to a cardiologist! They gave me some cardiologist recommendations and I started calling around.

I found that one of the cardiologist’s offices was in Annapolis, so I figured that I’d make the appointment there as I knew where the office was and it’d be near my parents’ place, so I made an appointment for May 3 (almost two weeks away) and called the vet back. However, the vet wanted Bertie to be seen by a cardiologist even sooner than that or taken in for observation, so I called the cardiologist back to see if they had any earlier openings at any of their other locations. Luckily they had an opening that afternoon in Rockville! I picked up Bertie and took him back home for a few hours so he could eat before I had to take him back out in his carrier to see another vet.

I was nervous going to the cardiologist because I didn’t know what their diagnosis was going to be and kept fearing the worst, but Bertie and I felt welcomed when we arrived.

Even so, Bertie still didn’t want to be there and kept trying to hide against me. Poor kit!

The nurse and cardiologist were extremely nice and helpful. They took his blood pressure (guess how? they have a blood pressure cuff that goes at the base of the cat’s tail!), gave him an electocardiogram (Bertie was very brave and didn’t complain), and then gave him an ultrasound (and he only complained very little).

I was nervous about the potential for blood clots as 15 years ago we had a cat named Gizmo who had a sudden blood clot and had to be put down as it paralyzed him so that was on my mind this entire time, but the cardiologist said that it appeared that Bertie was at a low risk for clots, so that was a relief!

When I had Bertie at the vet for his last checkup, the vet thought she detected a heart murmur or a-fib but we weren’t sure if it was stress-related (him being at the vet and all). The cardiologist confirmed that he does have a small murmur (a small leakage in the mitral valve, which is the murmur that the vet heard), the heart rate issue seems like it was a reaction to one of the anesthesia medications so they were going to advise my vet on alternatives, and suggested that if he needed dental surgery in the future to maybe take him to a specialist where they have the capability to do additional monitoring.

Even though the cardiologist visit cost $660 it was well worth the peace of mind to hear that Bertie was going to be ok. Plus Bertie’s vet insurance ended up covering about a third of the visit. It seems like he’ll have annual cardiologist appointments as the heart leakage is something that is fine now and doesn’t need medication, but can grow worse over time and may need medication in the future.

At least the worst thing that came out of it was him having to deal with the indignity of having his paw shaved, but he’s been told by a few well-wishers that it makes him look distinguished, as if he has a shirt-cuff.

The vet called me back the next day to see where Bertie was (assuming he was still being held for observation) and asked how he was doing, but when I told them about the previous day’s cardiologist visit and how it went they were similarly glad to hear that all seems to be well. They also said that considering the circumstance, and since his tooth doesn’t really seem to be bothering him, there’s no rush to do any extractions. They were actually able to quickly clean his teeth while he was under, but they echoed the cardiologist’s suggestion that if he needs any surgeries in the future to take him to the animal hospital where they have additional support staff and equipment available.

I promised him I wouldn’t try taking him anywhere in his carrier for a while as two carrier trips to see two vets in one day was enough for this poor kit, but I’m happy he’s doing well. I was really worried there for a while that morning.


Spock has the helm

My manager went away on vacation for almost all of April. It’s a surprise to suddenly one day be told that You’re Going To Be In Charge, where In Charge means you’re going to be the “Functional Team Leader” for a month (another coworker was the “Technical Team Leader”). His vacation was going to be out of the country, so it wasn’t like I could contact him if I needed help… and besides, he’d be on vacation, so I wouldn’t want to disturb him.

Ok, so I’m going to be the Functional Team Leader.

For a month.

I didn’t post about it publicly until April 2 just so people wouldn’t think I was making an April Fool’s joke. But as you might expect with someone getting ready to go on an out-of-the-country vacation for a month he was pretty busy getting ready and tying up loose ends, and we didn’t get a chance to really meet up to talk about what he expected me to do. Other than creating weekly status reports, and a report covering everything we did for the previous month, I didn’t have a good idea of what I was supposed to do. I mean, what does “Functional Team Leader” actually mean?

Ok, so I’m going to be the Functional Team Leader.

For a month.

And I have no idea what I’m doing.

So I thought about it. I wasn’t assigned to be the Technical Team Lead, so the technical parts aren’t up to me. I’m going to be in charge of how the team functions. Well, what does that mean? I thought about it some more, and figured, well, I guess I’m going to be in charge of how the work gets done – let the Technical Team Lead figure out the implementation aspect. I suppose this means I’m the project manager for the month!

Coincidentally, I was watching some episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series around this time, so I figured that in the case of the starship USS Office that I’m Mr. Spock. I’m not in charge of Engineering, I’m managing the crew and the mission. Our leader is on an away mission, so I’ve got the helm. I figured that was an appropriate analogy. Especially since as the team’s data scientist in terms of tasks if not in title I’m the closest thing to a Science Officer that my team has.

Mr. Spock

Yup, that’s me in charge.

Anyway, I went through our Jira system updating our tickets and tags to make things easier to identify and organize what we’ve been working on and started brainstorming other ways of managing our projects, and generally tried to improve the way we perform work.

A few times my manager’s boss, a company VP, stopped in my office to see how things were going, and I took that opportunity to ask him how he thought I’ve been handling the position. I also took that as an opportunity to present a case to him as to why I deserve a promotion (I had put together a presentation justifying it last summer, in hopes of it going into effect last fall, but due to mergers and such our promotion schedule is pretty much nonexistent while a new promotion schedule is figured out). His response was “Well, dust that presentation off, when [manager] returns from vacation we’ll have that conversation.” He and I also talked about me possibly receiving training and getting my PMP certification. So hopefully some good news will soon be coming on that front!

I’m putting the finishing touches on that presentation this week and hope to work up the courage to send it soon and not spend forever tweaking and polishing it and procrastinating. But I am proud of the analysis I did demonstrating why I deserve a raise and the why and how I got to that number – ahem, I’m the data scientist / Science Officer, remember? I took data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, analyzed in pandas, graphed out using matplotlib, and put that into my presentation. Much better (and hopefully much more persuasive!) than the table I had in there before!