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!


Thompson with a ‘P’ as in pneumonia

I’ve been sick the past few weeks, just a slow build of The Crud. I had been reluctant to schedule a doctor’s appointment since I kept thinking that it would go away on its own after a week, like the cold I came down with at the end of January, and didn’t want to schedule an appointment and magically feel better. After two weeks I thought I could make do with Mucinex but all it did was clear up my symptoms and once the dosage wore off after four hours I went back to feeling miserable.

That was until last Monday when I woke up at 4 AM coughing and sneezing and unable to get back to sleep so I threw in the towel and scheduled an appointment for a telemedicine video call with a nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. Had the video call Tuesday morning and the nurse thought it sounded like pneumonia and wanted me to come in for a chest X-Ray to confirm, and prescribed me a course of antibiotics and codeine. The next day I heard that the X-ray came back normal (I haven’t seen a copy of the X-ray to see for myself), but if it’s not pneumonia then it’s something pretty close as when I got the possible diagnosis I looked up the symptoms and mentally checked off most of them – cough, chills, confusion: yes, yes, yes. Apparently pneumonia associated with Legionella includes abdominal pain? I had that as well and figured it to be a side effect of the Mucinex (which was another reason why I scheduled the appointment – I wasn’t sure if the pain was from acetominaphin, never mind that my liver was on the opposite side of my abdomen – and didn’t want to take it indefinitely with no improvement in health), but I had also been running my humidifier a lot recently to counteract the dry winter air and my humidifier was overdue for a cleaning. Hmm…

My sister Kelly and niece Teagan were coming to visit later that week to celebrate Kelly’s birthday (a week late) with the family, so I was already planning on spending time with my family to absorb the atmosphere and ended up teleworking from my parents’ house this whole past week. Even with the medication I’ve been feeling wiped out and wouldn’t have been able to go into the office (and I wouldn’t have wanted to subject my coworkers to my horkin’ and snortin’ all day, but have no qualms about subjecting my own family members to those sights and sounds!).

The nurse wanted me to schedule an in-office appointment if I wasn’t showing an improvement by early this next week. The thing is, I’m having trouble telling how “better” I am – between the twice-daily antibiotics and the three-to-four-times-daily Mucinex and the as-needed codeine I feel okay once the medication really kicks in, but I know that’s the medicine talking. I also still feel wiped out by the illness; yesterday after wrapping up my work I just had to lay down and try to take a nap. I’ll have to see how I’m feeling on Monday as to whether I make it into the office or need a followup doctor’s appointment but I feel guilty for teleworking all this past week, even if I wouldn’t have been able to make it in. Compared to previous jobs where telework wasn’t an option I feel like I’m getting away with something when I get the opportunity to telework. There were times this week that I would have preferred to rest the entire day but thanks to the government shutdown I have very little PTO time available (and am currently trying to recoup my lost PTO), so if given the opportunity to work while I recuperate I’ll take it.



I wrote my first blog post on LiveJournal. Even though I may have migrated from LJ to my own self-hosted site, I’m proud to announce that as of today I’ve been blogging now for 18 years. Half my life! 5,510 posts! Almost enough for a post a day, every day, for that entire span. Well, 306 posts per year. Still more than a post for every weekday for every year for 18 years!. That’s amazing, and kind of scary: my blog can now vote, buy smokes (in some jurisdictions), and register for the draft. It’s all grown up!

And to think that the World Wide Web celebrated its 30th birthday a few days ago. It was only 12 years old when I started blogging. And look at the Web now!

I used to worry that with the rise of various social networks that I’d abandon more long-form blogging in favor of brief status updates. While I certainly have a lot of writing on Twitter (40,100+ tweets as of now), I feel like there’s been a general surge of interest lately in people having their writing on a site that’s under their own control. At some point I’d like to incorporate my Twitter posts into my blog, but for now I’m happy keeping that as its own separate entity; brief observations go on Twitter, while longer thoughts and ideas go here. If it takes more than a tweet or two to articulate, might as well make it a blog post.

I hope I can keep going independently indefinitely.


I’m not sure I understand the point of Amazon Day

…Isn’t the point of Amazon Prime to get your items sooner without having to pay for shipping? So what’s the point of Amazon Day? Now, if it were an option to let me choose which delivery service to use (I’d much prefer having my packages come via USPS rather than UPS, as the postal service carriers can get into my building while UPS cannot), I would be all over this.