Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Someone is threatening to change a thing I barely understand into something I don't get at all.

I can't be more specific (I'd have to kill you sort of thing) but the net result today has been to send me into a bit of a funk. When I decided to settle on a "career" at the age of 50, I should have chosen something less technical--something less prone to changing frequently and radically.

Yeah, I know, it's April 1. Unfortunately, the official announcement of the change came yesterday, so it's not a joke.

I need to take a solid week off and spend it doing nothing but studying and getting caught up on my field but I don't see that happening any time soon. Sigh. Whenever I stop to open a learning site, my brain just skitters aware from it all, unwilling to try to cope.

And I think I scheduled a meeting in Boulder next week over the top of a monthly client conference call. Which means I'll wind up doing the call while I commute. (Thank goodness for hands-free devices, including Glass.) I don't want to reschedule the meeting--they're paying for my time. But the client call--this is the one where it goes on for 90 minutes and my participation is rarely needed after the first 15.

I dunno. *hands* I got all these new clients and I should be busily and happily buried under an avalanche of work. I was yesterday.

Today, I'm just not happy.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

So, I'm leaving town later today for a long business trip. (Well, half business, half "bonding" with colleagues.) I'll be back home next Sunday evening.

It's generous of Webstrainer to put on these conferences and pay for us to attend but at the moment, facing the dilemma of how to stuff seven days worth of stuff into a suitcase I won't be embarrassed to be seen hauling around is making my sunny Sunday less amusing than it would be otherwise.

The clothes aren't even the problem. Thanks to judicious shopping (and the R.C.'s discovery of the Magic Non-Wrinkling Trouser Brand) I can stuff a week's worth of clothes into a fairly small space. Shoes are a bigger problem but still achievable.

It's really the toiletries causing me problems. The older I get, the more lotions, potions, and magic paint it takes to get me through a day of being seen by the public. My normal workday any more consists of me sitting around in a baggy tee-shirt and a pair of shorts. Visuals are irrelevant--all that matters is whether or not my brain is functioning. For the coming week, my brain is less important than how I present myself. I hate that.

I'm testing the suitcase now--trying to decide if I need to go over to the storage unit and get the Mighty Big Suitcase out of hiding. I have two pair of shoes and my underthings in this one so far and it's over half full. Not a promising start.

I yearn for days past when I could toss in a couple of pairs of jeans and a couple of polo shirts and know I'd look just fine.

Wish me luck.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I've got this big ol' bruise on my left forearm and who knows where that came from? One of the dubious joys of geezerdom is that you get these minor injuries without being aware of it. A little "bump" that you don't even notice, and that would have had no consequences when you were 20, produces big bruises when you get to be f-loudsneeze-ish or so.

Living to "old" (or near enough to make no difference) is, I suppose, a pearl. I mean, I'm too old to die young, so I've got that going for me. But living to "old" has quite a few oysters. (Ex., big ol' bruise, see above)

Also, meds. Few older people aren't taking meds of some kind any more. In my case, it's the thyroid meds I should have been taking since puberty or something. Apparently I've had a lifelong "low thyroid hormone" problem which is what caused my lifelong aversion to physical exertion. (I was not, as Some People always thought, just bone-lazy.)

So, I've got the meds now and not only do they provide me with more physical energy (pearl) but I'm smarter (pearl of dubious value). Apparently, low thyroid also makes you stupid. (Well, I knew that. I read it in a story forty years ago. I just didn't realize it applied to me.) So I've always been smarter than I seemed. (Which, let's face it, probably an oyster both ways.) Not a lot--I wasn't in double-digit IQ territory before the meds or anything, but it's a nice boost to my brain at a time when it and everything else is otherwise slowing down. I swear, there are days when only one brain cell stands between me and disaster.

But! Now my body is all energized and ready to go and on a day like today when it's nearly 70 degrees outside with golden sunshine, my body wants to be out, moving around in it.

And my brain, functioning on all cylinders today, is deep into the 250,000 lines of data I'm analyzing and it keeps insisting that I need to Keep At It while the going's good--get the thinking done while I can.

Cartesian Dualism has nothing on me. My body-brain division is complicated by the existence of "me" and what I always think of as "those other two" that also live in my brain--the one that's trying to mediate between the b & the b and the remaining one that's just sitting there, rolling its eyes and wishing we'd all just shut up.

I'm not as schizophrenic as that makes me sound. We all have these multiple trains of thought in our heads, I know that. I just feel like I'm the only one who has arguments with mine and gets outvoted on a regular basis. (I know--I've said all of this before. It's my blog--I can repeat myself if I want to.)

Yes, it's busy days on the work front now.

(Pauses to let readers adjust to the whiplash of that topic change.)

I might have lost the UglyFruitSoftware account (good riddance, since they were never willing to do what it took to succeed) and Sunny Jim and a handful of others recently, but I'm telling myself that those were dead weight. And maybe I regret the loss of that account associated with a popular and enduring superstition (PopSup) because I was really rocking and rolling success on that one, but whatever. This is America, you know. You can't force people to be successful against their will.

New clients appear.

Louie Louie's new account is still a go. That's the one I'm digging through 250k lines of data for. It needs a complete re-org. It's actually two accounts, not one, in closely related but not identical industries. (Hereinafter referred to as ToolsOfFun and SuppliesOfFun because creativity is failing me.) I've had to wipe out reports and start over four times after realizing I was mixing data from the two accounts. Still, it's interesting.

I have to move fast on this one, because Vela's big pitch, the one she's been working on for the last six months, is paying off. it's a fairly big company that we'll refer to as "Chat-Talk" as I continue to try to preserve client anonymity. The fees aren't high and I have no idea what the scope of the project is. It can't be small--this is a huge, multinational company, but there are interesting points about it. Vela has a way of pitching people without building in limits--project creep is her middle name. There's a video-conference (hereinafter referred to as a v-c because I'm sick of typing that) with the client on Monday--I should know more after that. The one thing I do know is that this one's important to Vela and Gidget, so I have to be on my good behavior.

Still, even though it means I'm busy-busy-busy, it's all a nice income boost after the attrition of the end of the year, right? And also, even more importantly if you're me, new things to work on and think about. I can live with (and enjoy) busy. I can't live with bored.

I have time to work now. No travel scheduled for the immediate future. I want to go visit Meg again this spring or early summer. I was thinking about a visit to the L-i-K-S but season matters a lot. I'm not going to Kansas July-August and no one can make me. Shudder. Summer is why I left there.

Webstrainer has already sent out the threat, pardon me, advance notice, of the annual invitational. This one's at the very end of Sept and based on what I've seen so far is likely to wind up being one of those where there's four hours I care about, surrounded by 36 hours of people going on and on about things I can't waste brain cells on.

They have a whole 'nother new initiative going too, one I've been 'invited' to participate in. It's similar to Mother's Little Helpers but not exactly the same. I offered to participate before all of these new accounts fell on me but I guess I can still handle it. (As this blog amply proves, it's no big strain for me to sit down at a keyboard and spout nonsense for half an hour or so.)

Okay, brain. Make up my mind. Walk or work? I have a 4:00 v-c and need to do one or the other before then.

Let me know when you've decided. The rest of us will be out getting a snack while we wait.



I remembered what it was I forgot during that last blog entry.

The R.C. and I went out for lunch a couple of weeks ago. I was in the mood for a seafood blowout, so we went to Joe's Crab Shack. Although the R.C. didn't appreciate the ambiance (including the galvanized metal buckets our meals came in), I thought the whole faux Maine/Northeast US thing was very interesting. I like to have a shark hangin' from the ceiling while I dine. It reminds me of my place in the food chain.

Yes, I said buckets. She ordered a bucket of crab and I ordered a bucket of mixed crab & lobster. And it was good and we ate it almost all up and I didn't feel a bit guilty. In fact, I'd go do it again any time. It was a bit pricey (you can't get edible seafood in Denver unless you're willing to pay for it) but tasty.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, December 7, 2012
Bread Crumbs In the Butter Of My Life

The post title came to me so I figured, hey, why not post a blog entry today?

I tend to write that way, whether it's blog entries or fiction or anything else. Title first. ("Define the map.") Any time I'm writing and I find myself changing my original title, I know I'm on the wrong track.

Nothing of major excitement to talk about. It's almost 50 degrees outside right now. Because of the sunshine, it feels a good ten degrees warmer. (Butter!) I'm about to go out and take a walk-get some exercise, do my butt some good, etc. I need to get extra fresh air today, because the snow is forecast to move in tomorrow afternoon/evening. Possibly 6 inches. Temperatures in the teens or even single digits.

Winter may, at long last, have arrived. (Bread crumbs.)

I've done most of my holiday shopping. Not sure what to do for the L-I-K people so I'll probably send gift cards, as usual. I finished my actual holiday cards and need to address envelopes and buy some stamps to get them sent.

Gidget's little company is having a holiday party! Okay--the three of us are getting together for lunch, but it counts, right? (Butter!)

Three new client nibbles--none of them large accounts but some nice variety. If they all close, it's another $1k or so of income a month, which doesn't suck. If it wasn't for some clients moving on or giving up as new clients come on board, I'd be making a lot of $$ by now, you know? But the ones I lose--I don't beat myself up about those. I can't really say that any of them were serious about succeeding.

(For those who are still in doubt, the Potentially Huge Client did call with a 'thanks, but no thanks' message.) (Bread crumbs? Butter?) Such a boring industry--I can't bring myself to be sorry.

This past week I had my first experience with reporting for a client using what's called "ecommerce" (which basically means an online store) tracking. It was nightmarishly complicated at first--a steep learning curve for someone who never bothered to pay any attention to the details of the process. (Breadcrumbs.)

As I began to understand what it was all about, I became fascinated, though. By the time I finished, I was regretting that I didn't have a dozen clients with online stores. Fascinating. I love learning something new. (Butter!)

The diet is going fairly well--another 1-1/2 lb and I'm back in my "range" for the first time in several months. (Butter!) I know I have to keep at it--it's easier to take off three pounds than 30, but it's a drag to have to diet two or three times a year. (And if I didn't grossly over-indulge in potato chips, I wouldn't have this problem so--all my own fault.)

Still! If I'm good for the next two weeks, I can allow myself some holiday chocolate, right? I have a bag of Dove dark chocolate Promises waiting in my freezer.

Aside from the Gidget party, I have no actual "holiday" events planned. I don't know whether or not that's a bad thing. Working in my "office" alone means I don't really have those plates of naughty goodies being passed around by coworkers or Friday pot-luck lunches or anything. My bestest friends live in other states, so spontaneous get-togethers with them are out of the question. Even Gidget, one of my best "local" friends (aside from being a coworker) actually lives in a different city--a good hour away. We talk, via email or phone, sometimes several times a day, but only see each other about once a month.

In the last year, I've gotten back in touch with someone who was a very dear friend long ago--when I was in my 20s--but she lives in a different state as well.

I don't feel I don't have friends. I have several very close friends. (Butter!) They're just--not from around here. (Bread crumbs.)

I'm not dissing the R.C. We spend time together, doing things, and I consider her a very close friend as well as a sister. I just--I think everyone I like well should have to live in Denver. Sigh. I mean, what's up with everyone feeling entitled to live their own lives?

I get sentimental at the holidays. I just sent one friend a soppy, "I miss you" email. I think I'd better go focus on work. :)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:34 AM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Oyster or Pearl?

Heard back from the Potentially Huge Client.

Scheduled follow-up call with his "team."

Call ended a few minutes ago.

Did not go well.

My fault for expressing myself tactlessly. (My tendency to do that is why I'm not normally allowed to talk to clients.) The part I minded was having to Gidget afterwards and apologize for torpedoing what could have been a big money client. We discussed how I'd only agreed to bid it because of the $$ she would make--she said she didn't want that. Which, probably true, but she does need the money and I know it.

They promised to get back to us before Thanksgiving--I expect they'll wait just as many days as they need to, to be polite. For my ownself, I'm not sorry to give this one a pass but it's going to be a while before I stop regretting it for Gidget's sake.

Must now email the R.C. and tell her to put that yacht order on hold.

Then I need to go dink with the accounts for the two new clients I added last week--not seeing the performance there I'd like to.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, October 19, 2012
Lotsa Pearls (one oyster)

Just got back from the Webstrainer visit. Aside from the frustration of feeling imprisoned (one of the perils of visiting a business where you have to be escorted from room to room), it was fabulous. Learned things, aired my opinions liberally (of course), heard what other folks think, and got some great swag. Heh.

Tired, of course. 14-hour days for meetings/meals, then hours in the hotel bar afterwards, continuing the conversations over beer and snacks. Worn out.

Got home to find out there's no hot water, though, and hasn't been for several days. Packing up my stuff to walk over to the clubhouse so I can have a shower.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, October 12, 2012

All Oysters, no Pearls this week.

Finally got my Webstrainer re-certification completed but I had serious objections to the content of the exam. I've filed complaints in three forums already.

Between this morning's exam nightmare and six video/phone meetings with Webstrainer tech people in the last week (about 8 hours total), trying to diagnose the cause of various problems with the latest version of a software program, I don't feel this has been a productive week for me.

It's only noon and I'm just exhausted. I may just give up and go do something entirely different for the rest of the afternoon.

Travel on Monday. Bleah. Booked my shuttle trip to the airport last night. Printed out my travel info. Have to pack Sunday afternoon. Between now and then, I'm going to not think about it. (I like to be somewhere different--it's just that the getting there can be a PITA these days.)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:25 PM | Comments (3)

Friday, June 1, 2012
I Am the Walrus Dinosaur

OMG, I wish things would stop changing so quickly.

Took a moment to glance back over my work notes for this too-short week and I see--virtually nothing. I've been maintaining the mess, talking w/folks about what used to be versus what's coming into being, trying to figure out what's going to be--and it's eaten up pretty much every work hour of the week so far.

This must cease! People pay me for management--and I'm not managing!

And, yes, I know I've been complaining about most of this trauma and turmoil for the last month, but since it's all ongoing, the whining is as well. One really huge new thing announced this week doesn't affect me directly at the moment but could be a giant problem in the future. Another new thing announced this morning is already providing today's headache as I try to figure out if it matters or not.

That next certification exam I've already paid for? Still haven't had time to do the necessary review. Got to get that done, though. I paid--can't afford to waste the money and anyhow the additional cert will round out my professional profile.

I'm glad the internets were invented and all, but I'm a teeny bit sorry at the moment that I work with them. Life moved at a more controllable pace when it moved on paper. I could keep up.

Also. Work ethic? Still slipping. Barely working at all on the weekends these days and yesterday my brain overloaded and I shut it all down and spent 90 minutes playing spider solitaire and thinking about nothing at all.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2012
Stupid Gods

The gods of ecology friendliness don't care about my pain. I know this, because today's little-man-with-a-chainsaw was able, after a few minutes of struggling, to get his wretched machine whining and grinding.

The gods of self-employment are equally indifferent to my desires.

Ideally, I'd have 4 clients, each of whom was providing me with fees equal to about 30% of my desired income. I'd work 4 hours a week on each of their accounts and be, you know, semi-retired the rest of the time. Instead I get 20 clients, each of whom is providing me with less than 5% of my desired income and each of which needs from 2-3 hours a week of work.

One of them isn't paying, two are terminally crazy (a little overlap, there) and the rest are just sort of weird. (We're all weird in one way or another. Live with the knowledge.)

The next one coming over the horizon promises to bump up the Terminally Crazy population by 50%. He's very excited about the whole thing and talking eagerly of the time in the near future when his not-yet-off-the-ground business will be bringing in half a million a year. Doesn't bode well. (I should never have accepted him--but I honestly didn't expect the project to go anywhere.)

Aside from that, the gods of (at?) Webstrainer are rolling out feature after feature that are making my life H-E-double-hockey-sticks as I try to figure out what it's all about with one hand and edit to take advantage of or block said features (whichever is necessary) with the other.

Meantime, the associated program with Mother's Little Helpers is aggravating me. Let me tell you, I Very Nearly Quit last week. I get that other people and companies have goals and responsibilities that mean they can't always provide me with the things I think the universe should provide me with, but I don't care. They should figure out a way to give me what I tell them I want anyhow.

The gods of professional certification are tapping their feet and looking annoyed with me. It's been almost a week since I paid to sit those two exams and I've only gotten one of them taken. I think my money only lasts a month--I really need to find time to do that.

The gods of good website design are mocking me--I need changes to the business website--some of which have been hanging fire since last August--and the website guy I offered money to do it all for me hasn't responded.

What is this world coming to when you can offer someone money for work and they just ignore you? I mean--I know the economy is improving and all, but is it so robust again already that people are picking and choosing what work they feel like doing?*

Anyhow. There's a sort of back-end program that we're supposed to be able to use to add/change content when we want. I guess I could poke around and find someone willing to dive in, figure it out, and do the necessary for me, if the WG continues to be unresponsive.**

And, speaking of unresponsive, I still haven't heard back from the 50% of the crazy client population (the one that also doesn't pay) about where we go from here. You'd be surprised, maybe, to know how eagerly I'm looking forward to firing this one.

I also haven't had the necessary three hours to review the other new client's website and demand additions and changes. That's bad--even though they're not planning to start paying me until September, I have a chance to get the foundation laid properly and I'm not taking advantage of it. Must get that work on my schedule.

Never enough hours in the day.

I mean, it's not like I'm sitting here watching daytime television all day every day, or reading books or knitting or whatever, instead of working. It's just not getting done to the extent that I expect me to be able to get it done.

I'm so behind that I think I may take the next hour "off" in a fashion.

I mean, instead of working on bits & pieces of whatnot, I'll sit down and make a plan--hereinafter referred to as My Grand Design--for when and how to do what so that there's a schedule for it all. (A loose and flexible schedule, because I'm not really All About Timetables.)

Sigh. Except for the ability to sleep in for an extra half hour whenever I want, I'm not finding being self-employed to be all that much simpler than going to an office every day. Just between you and mean, it was a lot easier to exceed someone else's expectations of me in an office environment than it is to just meet my own expectations of me on my own.

I'm awfully whiny for someone whose life is as drama-free as mine is, aren't I?

I mean, when my biggest complaints are that people want to give me money to do what they can't do themselves and that my time is my own to do--or not do--whatever I want to do--or not do--you'd think I'd be more smug and rubbing it in with all of you Cubicle Dwellers, not acting as though it was all such a huge burden.

I swear, I never knew what a Drama Queen I really was until I started blogging.


* Okay, yes, I pick and choose, but that's me. I've always been like that.

** Sadly, what is really needed is a total redesign but I can't bring myself to face that problem again already. The menus on the site have never been right, there are critical content pages missing, and I trusted far too much in Gidget's expertise and opinions when the design was being planned. (Not that I'm blaming her entirely--the website guy was someone I chose and that was the first mistake and a doozy.)

I guess what I should do is save up the $5k and have it all redone.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:48 PM | Comments (4)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Am I Asking Too Much Out Of Life?

And I repeat--just a little less of the crazy is all I really need.

Clients who never respond to emails with optimization suggestions or questions about what they want and who also fail to provide checks for the work done? Don't need them.

Clients who babble and burble and froth over with excitement about their businesses in a dozen emails and then drop in, casually, that they're not actually looking to do anything I can charge money for until next fall some time? Go away.

Clients who demand right of refusal on ad messaging and then take a month or more to approve new ad variations when I send them for approval? Get outta my life.

Why did I quit what was actually a very easy job with a very decent paycheck for this?

Webstrainer? Also, doing a vigorous polka on my last nerve and about to hear from me on the subject of How Anne Thinks the World Should Work (Or Else).



What I need is for the world to just freeze in place for about a week. I need at least that long to read up on and absorb all the recent major changes to my industry. (I've given up on keeping track of mid-level and minor shifts.)

Trying not to think about the email I got from Gidget the other day that seemed to reveal a complete unawareness of Webstrainer's major rollout/update the first of this year--the one that has the informed section of her industry in turmoil. Not my problem--not my problem--don't think about it.

The lone pearl in my oyster-infested world at the moment is one of those luscious one-off clients. One of thee kind I can charge four months' worth of fees for, for four days (solid) work.

Oh, that, and the fact that I did get around to renewing my professional certification last week. I paid in advance for another exam in the hopes that it would force me to sit for that one as well (something I should have done a year ago) but I haven't found time to review the study material yet.

Still. 95% on the one I took last week. Encourages optimism, no?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Oyster-Pearl Ratio Out Of Balance

What do I want out of life? 10% oysters and 90% pearls.

Is that so unreasonable?

Webstrainer, the Original Oyster, is On My List and has been for the last month or two. They're giving me more like 80-20. This is entirely unacceptable.

It's not just the people I work with directly in the Mother's Little Helper program--a story in itself--but more broadly, across the entire spectrum of things they do that I use to do my work. They have made and are continuing to make changes I don't approve of. (Clearly they didn't get the memo that I am Queen Of the Universe and that everything has to be done my way.)

One of the pearls is a Webstrainer educational seminar (online) that MLHKimmie and I were invited to participate in. Our share of the airspace should amount to +/- 15 minutes, making the four hours we've spent prepping a bit ridiculous but when someone's going to record something and stick it up on the internet for posterity, you don't want to take chances. Good publicity, should I decide I'm in need of such a thing, anyhow.

The oyster in the room is that unless I Do Something about my blasted company website so that I have links to these things, it's a waste of time participating in them.

Another of the oysters is my ongoing attempt to get my sh*t organized. I'm trying to set myself up some procedures and schedules 'in my spare time' but a large enough chunk of spare time to think my way through all of what I need so that I know where to start is--sadly lacking. (I could, of course, use the time I waste doing things like writing whiny blog posts.)

Clients, surprisingly, aren't on the oyster list at the moment. They're all pretty quiet. Which is good, since the silence gives me space in my brain to contemplate how to respond to some of Webstrainer's more ill-judged (IMO) product changes.

Also to practice my share of tomorrow's presentation. I don't mind 'public' speaking--whether in person or online, but I sure do hate having my face recorded. (Definitely an oyster.) Call me vain--but one of this afternoon's scheduled tasks is to figure out what spot in this apartment offers the best lighting for tomorrow. Something not too bright (I am such a hag these days) but not so dark that I seem to be speaking from beyond the grave.

Sigh. Of all the problems I expected to encounter, striking out on my own, my on-camera presence didn't even make the list.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
You Want A Piece Of Me?

I think there's a tiny corner of my brain still functioning, if anyone would like to complete the train wreck that started at precisely 8:03 this morning.

A client I didn't think would be ready to move for a couple of months is ready to move now and wants a meeting at noon next Wednesday.

I'm not available at noon next Wednesday because I'm committed to a Webstrainer project that I've been trying for a week to find time to prep. A videoconference is not a good time to find yourself babbling incoherently. I must prepare--and I must do it before Monday when another participant and I are scheduled to do a run-through with each other.

Another client that I didn't expect to expand, at least not for a couple of months, decided to expand now and the size of their whole project needs to be doubled before next Tuesday.

A friend (the aforementioned "another participant", another of Mother's Little Helpers, and my mentor in that arena--and hereinafter to be referred to as MLHKimmie because this is getting ridiculous) dinged me this morning to suggest that we collaborate on a new client she's angling for. While I look forward to the pleasure of working with her, I'm also aware that other "expert" eyes on what I do will trigger my no-so-inner compulsive overachiever genes and I'll want to do better than my usual casually good job.

I mean, what is up with this, anyhow? Is there some higher power at work here? *

I'm reaching the time of my life when I like to think of myself as semi-retired, you know? **

We all know how starting your own business goes, right? You hang out your metaphorical shingle and then bite your nails and chase desperately after every dollar for a couple of years (at least), trying to build stable client and income bases.

I gotta say--I was kind of looking forward to the process. An extended stint of quasi-leisure was going to be nice since, unlike my previous experiences in being unemployed, I'd prepared by socking away a chunk of funds.

I have a lot of hobbies and a lot of books. My living space abounds in toys I could be playing with for sixteen hours a day while I wait for work to show up on my doorstep.

I demand to know where my leisure went!

I'm starting to suspect that when you hear about entrepreneurs working seven days a week, it's not because they're afraid that they'll miss an opportunity while they're blinking. It's because opportunity isn't knocking--it's kicking down the door, sprawling out on the couch, and stealing your dinner.


* There's no such thing as a gratuitous Tremors reference.

** If you haven't met the Beeb's immortal Mulberry, you should treat yourself some day.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:37 PM | Comments (5)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nothing like having your head stuffed up to convince you that everything you should be doing is more effort than it's worth. It's all Oysters and no Pearls today.

The new account I'm working on is something of a mess. The client, let's call him Sunny Jim, is one of Louie Louie's bunch.

The business has been advertising on a DIY basis until now--and doing everything simultaneously in a way that virtually guarantees spending the maximum amount of money for the minimum return.

Somewhere inside my stuffed-up head is a simple way to start over--I've done this before--but those brain cells don't seem to be functioning today. Every time I try to follow the process through to the logical conclusion I run into the abyss of their completely useless website.

It's like building a house without putting down a foundation--no matter how fancy the windows you design or how many bathrooms you decide to add on paper, every time you put two boards together, it all collapses. Online? Website=foundation.

I'm not really in a position to turn down clients yet--the cost of COBRA each month is decimating my savings--but I am very frustrated by clients who don't get the concept.

So distracted I burned my lunch in the microwave. Apartment stinks.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:01 AM | Comments (1)

Friday, January 20, 2012
Havin' A Dithery Do I Day

Lookee! Here I am--back again in less than a month!

Today's schedule includes doing laundry. I do like working from home--the ability to get some of these little chores done "on the side" is a gift. I took time this past weekend (still working 7 days/week, yes, but slowing down a lot on the weekends) to go through the newest Pile (misc mail, mostly junk) and get rid of what was get rid-of-able. What's left just needs to be filed--but that means opening the door to the Storage & Filing half of the closet which means facing the three Piles I shoved in there two months ago, promising myself I'd deal with them "very soon."

Newest account went live today. I'm dubious. Doubtful. Dithering.

I have no objection to a d i e t program, but I'm not a fan of this particular one so far. Although the cost is low, what you get when you opt to pay is (IMO) not worth the price. They need three or four times the amount of information to justify asking people for money to access it.

Louie Louie (it's one of his clients) is taking my objections to them--if they don't decide to provide content worth the cost, I may have to take an ethical stand.

I hate that.

I don't know, though. There's some content behind the paywall, and some of it is of value. I'm going to have to decide just how much to let my own opinion of clients' businesses affect my decision to work with them. (I suspect, knowing me, the answer will have to be "quite a lot.")

Before the holidays, I had a Big Client Nibble but it seems to have been just that--a nibble. Haven't heard a peep from them since.

I got a nibble for a mediumish (is too a word) account yesterday. I'm letting Gidget and Vela take point on that one--I suspect most of the work the client will wind up wanting will be in their areas of specialty. It could produce a modest initiative in my own area, though.

That plus the new account, the newest account, and the second-oldest new account, all of which have and/or will activate this month, will add a nice increment to my income. (At the moment, I'm making so little that these 3-4 new accounts will almost double my income. Still--I tell myself that I never expected to be raking in big bucks a scant 60 days after opening my self-employment doors.)

I've also been dithering about my annual trip to CA. It's time and past time that I made plane and hotel reservations and whatnot, but I haven't been able to make up my mind whether or not to spend the money, what with my current income and all.

The cost of the trip, no matter how economically I try to do it, winds up being about equal to a month's rent & utilities. A fair-sized chunk of dough. And yet, the point of being self-employed was partly to leave me time for more of a life, right? To loosen up my schedule and leave me more time to do a wider variety of things? Still. Enough money to cover R&U for a month?

This morning, with great reluctance, I decided to pass on the trip.

Makes me sad.

Part of me is still dithering and deciding.

It's Friday! This coming weekend I anticipate finally having the time to watch the new DVDs I got for Christmas!

Also, to beat the final boss monster in one of the games I got, so I can let myself open the second game and start on it. (Current game: Final Fantasy III. Next game: Rune Factory 3.)

A day or two ago I knocked off work early and had an amazon.com blowout, spending a gift certificate Santa brought me and then this morning, in my email, lo! another one appeared! Blowout #2, here I come--filling up my Kindle!

New books! I can't tell you how excited I am--buying an armload (even a virtual, electronic one) of new books all at once--that's not something I ever let myself do any more--first from a lack of shelf space and later (after the Frugality Program set in, during my last bout of unemployment) because of the cost.

At the moment, though, I'm re-reading Dickens, though. It's a real advantage to be in love with authors whose works are in the public domain. Not necessarily because I was able to download all their works for free, but because doing so inspired me to re-read the books.

If I ever wondered why I kept giving them shelf room all these years--now I remember.

In the middle of David Copperfield at the moment. The villains are a bit over-drawn, especially for modern sensibilities, and Our Hero is a bit of a doormat, but those faults are offset by the endless battle of the donkeys and by the immortal Micawbers.

I don't know why I thought you'd care about any of that.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
I Love to Have a Cup of Tea


Remember when I said I didn’t know what was wrong with my head the last time I posted? I know now. My transition from the corporate cubicle world to self-employment, though it seemed to be seamless and simple on the surface, had the back, bottom, and sides of my brain in some turmoil. Had a tiny meltdown there for a few days.

I quit my job!

In a sinking economy where even the corporate-owned nightly newscasters have started mentioning, quite matter-of-factly, that while unemployment and poverty rose in the last quarter, the rich got a lot richer, I left the dull but secure safety net of a stable job for the uncertainty of going it on my own.

At an age when I expected to be anticipating an early, and well-funded, retirement, with my retirement funds stagnant—as they have been for the last 11 years—I decided to give up my paycheck?

Not all my preparation—thinking about it for two years, talking about it incessantly, having enough funds on-hand to keep me going for a few months, etc., seems to have convinced all of my brain that, (a) this was going to happen, and (b) it was okay to make the decision.

I think it was three or four days ago that it all actually fell in on me—the idea that I was going to quit my job with only a tiny and unstable income in sight, I mean. Since that was easily two months too late for me to change my mind, I went ahead and adapted.

I’m better now.

It’s much too later to bore y’all with the work details of the last month. Highlights include one account that I didn’t expect to come on board actually taking the plunge, adding a small amount to the aforementioned tiny income, a new account from Louie Louie materializing yesterday, adding another critical mite of bill-paying funding, another Louie Louie account lurking in the wings, a moderate account from the Sandwich Man (another agency), that could sign on this month, and a solid nibble from a stand-alone account that would, if it develops, double my current income.

There. In a nutshell and drama-free.


My holidays were fantabulous, as they tend to be. I got the usual mix of games, books, toiletries, and foodstuffs, all of which delighted me.

I took a chance and asked Santa for the new version of Final Fantasy III they released for the DS. I was a bit concerned—I’ve been doing mostly just farming games for the last 2-3 years and wasn’t sure if I was “up” to anything more challenging any more, but I’m moving right through it, and having a ball.

Santa also brought me Rune Factory 3, but I’m saving that one. I haven’t even finished my birthday game (Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns) yet and bouncing between two games at once is as much as my brain can handle.

I made holiday cards again this past fall—store-bought ones are cheaper and nicer but making cards gives me something to do with my hands in the evenings besides eating. Because I didn’t get them actually mailed, family members can expect to see theirs as “new year greetings” showing up in the next week. No one else I know actually sends cards, so I’m going to let them off the hook and stop sending those. The R.C. wrote a holiday letter, which inspired me to write one of my own for inclusion. (I’m a big copier of others’ notions.)

Now, post-meltdown, I’m back to what will become my “regular” work schedule. Today, so far, I’ve showered*, attended a regular idea-sharing chat session by way of “professional education”, finished one load of laundry and started a second one, and run an armload of reports for the new account I need to reorganize and get working by Thursday. All very productive and peaceful.

Also, I made a pot of tea. I’m becoming very fond of sipping a civilized cup of tea throughout the day. A pot of tea—something that would be very difficult to make in an office, is becoming symbolic of my new freedom.

Freedom. Not leisure.

There is more--but I'll blog again soon. Right now, I need to go do some work.

Hope your holidays were the most wonderful ever, and that 2012 brings nothing but peace, prosperity, and joy to you and your loved ones!


* Not a thing I can take for granted. I’m finding that the water in this building tends to be off unexpectedly once or twice a week. Not always for long—often less than an hour—but long enough to make the morning pot of coffee and shower a bit unpredictable.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:28 PM | Comments (5)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Rowing Toward Entrepreneurial Success

It's now been almost three weeks since I struck out to explore the waters of Entrepreneurial Life.

So far--well, nothing to report. I'm still working on the same clients, all of whom are still being stupid in the same ways.

The two new agencies who appeared with clients in hand have not so far produced any billable work but with the holidays approaching it's normal to see a bit of a slowdown. I guess. I think. I hope that's what it is, anyhow.

Vela is still around--I think I mentioned that she also decided to go freelance after she was laid off and that she and Gidget have been working on a number of projects together? She comes up with the weirdest stuff--it's mostly her clients that Gidget winds up working 60 hours a week on for 5 hours worth of pay.

Vela sent me one recently--a holiday account that should have been planned and launched a month or more ago. It was a desperate, urgent, urgent project for--wait for it--no pay. Because she's a friend, I didn't mention this, I just sent her a list of what I need. That was six days ago and the client's already short 3 week window of opportunity is shrinking fast while I twiddle my thumbs and wait.

I don't mind helping them out, they really are very dear friends, but I do object to what I do being treated as something not worth paying for. When I ask them to help me, I always pay them. The projects I do for them--they never seem to think that offering me money is necessary. (Not a big issue at the moment--the stuff they come up with is pretty small-scale, but still.)

I have a 10:00 chat session (education) today, a 10:00 client conference call tomorrow, and a 2:00 educational seminar tomorrow. It was my hope, when I struck out into Entrepreneurial Waters, that time to keep up with the industry, educate myself a bit, and generally learn more about what I need to know, would be easy to find. This is not, thus far, tending to be the case. This week's two educational events are the first ones I've had time to schedule.

In an industry prone to changing rapidly, almost daily, and dramatically, education is not a luxury. I need to get my days better organized.

Sorry--when I sat down to write this, I didn't realize my head was in such a plodding, blah place at the moment. I'll try for a more upbeat tone in the next post.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, November 21, 2011
That's What I'm Talkin' About!

Today it's all oysters and no pearls. and it's barely afternoon.

This morning I have overslept (tch-tch), done three loads of laundry, and moved the Closet Project at good 40% toward completion with the final weeding out of a few more garments and the sorting of "things I will wear a lot" from "things I might wear occasionally," complete with bagging the "occasionally" section to keep it all clean.

This is not because my compulsive work ethic is taking a holiday.

No, it's the aforementioned Crazy Component--still the Magical Mystery Machines account.

When I sat in the cubicle farm, the need to step back for an hour or two and let my subconscious work out how to accomplish whatever impractical demands were being made of me meant doing a lot of smoking (hardly healthy), staring at data until my head was going in so many circles that rational thought was impossible, and, not infrequently, finally doing something not because it was the right thing to do but because I was "at the office" and I felt compelled to do something.

Now, when someone demands the stupid, the illogical, or the downright absurd, I can go do something productive while the back of my brain works on the problem.

It doesn't necessarily make arriving at the "right" course of action easier--ridiculous and unobtainable are still ridiculous and unobtainable --but it's certainly much less aggravating.

So, maybe that's a pearl.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 20, 2011
72 Hours of Oysters and Pearls (Really, this time)

Got a little distracted from the topic in that last post, didn't I?

For the record, I shopped yesterday and at the Container Store I acquired the bounty of not one but two small bookcases for half price! (Floor model sell-outs. Score!) So I got extra shelving in my home office and also three more shelves for the closet, to assist in the never-ending task of organizing the space. I also cleaned out old and unloved garments and took them to a donation station, another huge step toward getting it under control.

I still have boxes and bags full of stuff--the cubicle stuff and presents I've received from Webstrainer that I can't decide what to do with--stuck it all back in the closet until I have time and energy to go through it all--but aside from that heap, I made major Organizational Progress yesterday. I feel good about that.

So--that 72 hours we were going to talk about.

Well, first, two oysters.

I celebrated my new reliance on freelance income by threatening to fire one client--the JasonWife account--if they don't provide me with the site features I need, and smacking another one across the chops for "helping" so relentlessly that a pipeline to the almighty wouldn't allow me to produce success for them.

I can't stand clients who want to "help" and especially those who demand major structural and focus changes every 10 days.

A review of past performance shows that their results have been poor all this year. You would think that would be enough to convince them that they don't know what they're doing and that they should leave it to the experts, wouldn't you?

I mean, granted, their Magical Mystery Machines product makes my head hurt when I try to understand it enough to advertise it all, but the kind of "help" that would be useful--like a website with clear destination pages and less reliance on industry abbreviations--would go a long way toward "helping" me and the Webstrainer software understand what they're doing.

Aside from that, the first client from one of the two new agencies (hereinafter referred to as Mister Dillon) bailed, so that project is dead in the water. I'm not sorry--another client with ridiculous expectations and even more ridiculous demands for how quickly their expectations needed to be met. The agency swears there will be Real business some day soon. Whatever.

Haven't heard back from the other agency (hereinafter identified as Sandwich Man) about that proposal for the first of three accounts they were thinking of offering us. but that's partly my fault--they needed one additional bit of info and it took me until Friday to get it to them.

Things with Louie Louie, my original pearl, seem to be reasonably smooth. I have five active accounts with him (and one on hiatus), three of whom seem to be happy clients. One of the others is the aforementioned Magical Mystery Machines problem child. The other is the FastFinder company who used to do different things on their website that produced massive success but who aren't doing that any more and won't stop complaining that their massive success melted away.

And, finally, there's UglyFruitSoftware, a definite oyster, my most recent client and (unusually for me) a direct account--no agency involved. Possibly the worst--certainly the ugliest--site I'm trying to work with--and that's after I sent page after page of suggestions for improvement to the lunatic client who inexplicably insisted on doing all his own coding and design. He made about 1/3 of my changes before he got bored. I do not predict a long-term relationship or any measurable success. If I found myself on that website, I'd hit the back button instantly and go find a more professional company to work with.

I'm not regretting my decision to go it on my own--not at all--but I'm not immediately seeing any decrease in the level of Crazy I'm dealing with.

On the other hand, I did work in my pajamas one day this past week, so, fun there.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 19, 2011
72 Hours of Oysters and Pearls

I thought my recent Life Change was significant enough to warrant a new category of adventures on the sidebar--thus, Oysters and Pearls.

From here on out, I expect to spend a fair time dissing the slippery oysters or polishing the perfect pearls I gather in my journey toward entrepreneurial success.

But first--one last complaint.

This was not my dream. Living as just one of the anonymous rats powering the corporate wheel for the occasional pellet of food didn't really bother me. It's what I was raised to expect* to spend my life doing.

Now? If I fail to succeed, it's not my fault. That's all I'm sayin'. I don't have a toolbox for this situation--my coping skills are around workplaces filled with people less-intelligent, less-motivated, and less-committed than I am. If it's just me--and success or failure rests only on my own efforts--I don't really know what to do with that situation.


No,wait. First, a side-note about storage.

I really need one more bookcase--I need more shelving. I need something no more than 20"-24" wide that will go with the carefully selected (matching) bookcases I already have in here. (Sadly, they are 32", so another one of them won't fit.) The home office corner needs that last critical extra few feet of space to get things properly organized.

So. 72 hours into it, how does the adventure progress, you ask?

It's been--normal.

But weird.

The first two days I bounced between doing Actual Work and trying to tidy up the disaster I made of my home office by dragging a couple of boxes of stuff home from my cubicle and dumping it all here. That's going to be a week-long project--getting things set and settled to let me work from here for the long-term, and not just the occasional day--so, for the short term, I dumped it all in the closet and out of sight.

Sigh. That closet is the bane of my existence. I've been cleaning it out, I swear, for five years, and it's still stuffed. What is all that stuff? I can't possibly need all that stuff!


* Well, no, really I was raised to scrub floors and wipe dirty noses--but I came to terms with my disinclination to become a Soccer Mom a long time ago.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:09 AM | Comments (2)