Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 8-14, 2017

It’s like, wow (it’s like right now)! Sorry, I have a Beck ear worm 😉

The Kounotori electrodynamic tether hopes to displace space debris and clear the upper atmosphere. Bill Chappell for NPR.

Matt Novak replays an interview with David Bowie in which he argues the point about the subversive nature of the internet. I miss starman 😦 Paleofuture

Imogen Heap’s Mi.Mu gloves.

 

Dan Nosowitz discovers why Canadians say “eh.” Altas Obscura

ASAP Thought debates early birds vs. night owls.

 

Timothy Joseph Elzinga captures an amazing photograph of light pillars. Marina von Stackleberg for the CBC.

Listen closely to what this crow says 😉 Best Source of Fun

Bernese Mountain pup vs. lemon.

 

Here’s hoping that something in this selection popped your mental corn. Get those creative connections going.

And let me know if anything comes of it.

Be well until the weekend.

thoughtythursday2016

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 8-14, 2016

Lots of thoughty for your big squishy brains this week!

The Jian Gomeshi case was in the news again this week. Another complainant came forward, but chose not to go to court and accept a peace bond. The agreement? Gomeshi would admit his wrongdoing and apologize publically. Kathryn Borel released this statement outside court after the unsatisfying apology. The Toronto Star.

Sandy Garossino reports that Borel’s counterpunch blindsides Henein and knocks out Gomeshi. National Observer.

The UN champions essential services for survivors of violence against women and girls.

 

Here are a couple of fabulous articles by Lindy West. First, the ‘perfect body’ is a lie. Then, break the period taboo. The Guardian.

Are you a cool girl? ASAP Thought wants you to help dismantle the patriarchy 🙂

 

Latinos are now the largest ethnic group in California. The Los Angeles Times.

You may remember that I’ve mentioned in the past how careful we need to be with media reports of scientific studies. This explains why. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies.

 

How World War II changed Walt Disney. Time.

Clint Edwards gleans lessons from The Goonies, and from the loss of unsupervised time for kids. The Washington Post.

John Reed tells a tale almost too creepy to believe: my grandma, the poisoner. Vice.

The CDC releases new statistics on suicide in the US.

And on the other side of the death coin: when patients and doctors disagree about end-of-life care. The Washington Post.

Sarah Kurchak shares depression-busting exercise tips for people too depressed to exercise. The Establishment.

Not to be facetious, but Emily Hartridge lists 10 reasons why . . . she’s grateful to have anxiety.

 

BigThink offers proven tools for lifting a bad mood.

IndiHope lists 51 Dr. Seuss quotes on happiness.

This is just cool. The brain dictionary, on AmpLIFEied.

Kepler reveals a new bounty of exoplanets, including nine in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone. Phil Plait for Slate.

It’s okay to be smart. The cosmic afterglow:

 

William Gadoury discovers a link between the constellations and the locations of Mayan cities. YourNewsWire.com

And this is just funny. Ken Ham tried to disprove science using . . . science. Epic fail. Slate.

It’s okay to be smart: the most important moment in the history of life:

 

Weird science: can corpses turn to stone?

 

David Bowie on being authentic:

 

The Buddha Weekly focuses on the consciousness of non-human beings. I’m really sorry. I enjoy the meats 😦

Have a happy Friday, and we’ll see you on the weekend!

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 31-Feb 6, 2016

I’ve been sick. Maybe that’s why I’m a little light-headed this week 😛

February 1 was St. Brigid’s Day, or, for the other pagans, Imbolc. Irish Central.

This is a great article on the Granny Women of Appalachia. Hub Pages.

I didn’t share the news last week, but Canada has school shootings, too. Wab Kinew writes about using our grief for good, after LaLoche. The Globe and Mail.

Celebrating 100 years of enfranchised women in Canada. The Toronto Star.

Brian Hiatt reviews David Bowie’s final years. The Rolling Stone.

Photographer Donal Maloney shares his photo essay of Ireland’s abandoned psychiatric hospitals. Irish Central.

BuzzFeed wonders what it would look like if male scientists were written about like female scientists.

I had no idea this was even a thing. Why the outcry (yes, outcry) about Susan Sarandon’s breasts is bullshit. Harriet Hall for Stylist.

Lady Gaga’s new release: Till it happens to you.

 

A BBC film crew captures deadly ‘brinicle’ in action.

This is cool. Bailey Henderson sculpts sea creatures from medieval maps. Hi-Fructose.

Live by these four rules if you want to be happier. Rachael Yahne for The Huffington Post.

Steven Page’s Surprise, surprise.

See you Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 17-23, 2016

Oh noes! I’ve rediscovered YouTube and the videos have invaded . . .

Canada is named the second best country in the world. How Canadian 🙂 We’re excited about coming in second. Global News.

Some of our new Syrian friends enjoying tobogganing for the first time:

 

Peter Denton wonders, where have all the readers gone? The Globe and Mail.

Dear parents: Everything you want to know about your son or daughter’s university, but don’t. Michael Enright interviews Ron Srigley for The Sunday Edition on CBC.

Education is performance art. Penn & Teller share their thoughts in The Atlantic.

When Trent Hamm thinks of the times he’s been the happiest, he notices two common threads. The Business Insider.

The powerful benefit of exercise that’s rarely discussed. Guess I’d better get my ass in gear. Quartz.

Dinah Laprarie of NISA champions mental health in Sudbury. CBC.

Cyndi Roberts of The Elephant Journal shares seven steps to easing anxiety without a pill.

Anna Lovind finds her own way to divine guidance 😉

So now a new study says smoking pot doesn’t lower adolescent IQs. IFLS.

Watching a water bubble freeze (in Finland):

 

Space-X attempted another booster landing last Sunday. And then this happened. Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, for Slate.

That weird star with the Jupiter-sized planet and the suspected . . . something else orbiting it? Well the more they learn about it the stranger things get. Slate.

A constellation has been named for David Bowie (though it’s not officially recognized yet). IFLS.

Check out this planetary alignment through February 20. IFLS.

Phil Plait features this alignment on his Bad Astronomy column too. Slate.

xkcd charts possible undiscovered planets.

Rick Mercer’s rant on anonymous comments:

 

Gypsy Vanner horses:

 

Ms Mr performs “Reckless.”

 

And that was your week’s edutainment.

Hope you enjoyed it.

See you on Saturday for more CanCon 2015 reportage.

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 10-16, 2016

It was a terrible week, in some respects. First, we learned of the death of David Bowie, and only a few days later, of Alan Rickman. Both at the age of 69, and both of cancer. *shakes fist impotently at the powers that be*

Here are a few posts commemorating both men:

 

The Guardian offers some tips on how to be happy in the New Year.

How to exercise your empathic muscles. The Elephant Journal.

Physician, heal thyself! Why silence is the enemy for doctors who have depression. The New York Times.

IFLS shares Stephen Hawking’s advice for people who suffer from depression.

Thirty nine: a documentary by Tara Henley on CBC’s The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright.

Childhood trauma can result in adult illness. Aeon.

Feministing reports: lesbian families produce an abuse rate of 0%. Then a kind commenter shared this: lesbian mothers’ children. Food for thought, people. Who’s producing these studies and for what reason?

Doug Saunders explains how gun ownership became a ‘right’ in the United States, and why it’s not. The Globe and Mail.

Bonus: Tori Amos’s cover of the Beatles’ “Happiness is a warm gun.”

 

We had another two earthquakes in the Sudbury area last week. I didn’t feel them, but that makes quite a few in the last couple of years. Is this some kind of message? The Northern Life.

Hootsuite’s CEO got clever and came up with this $25 standing desk solution. Vancouver is Awesome.

Check out this beautiful, underground kingdom. Bright Side.

A 600 million year old mutation is responsible for . . . us (!) The Washington Post.

Scientists believe they’ve found the first fossil bed from the dinosaur extinction. IFLS.

Mapping the ocean floors with gravity. Phil Plait for Slate.

Ice crystals cause this optical phenomenon and ‘draw’ a map of a city in the sky. Slate.

Open Culture brings back the animated Bayeux Tapestry. It’s really something special.

Please, cuddle the cat! It’ll make you feel better.

 

Quite the thoughty week, if I do say so myself 😉

See you on Saturday for more CanCon 2015 reportage.

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Nov 29-Dec 5, 2015

What you should do in an active shooter situation. I can’t believe we need posts like this, but an ex-pat friend confesses she’s already had active shooter drills at her workplace. The Art of Manliness.

Will Canada be able to resolve the problems of its First Nations as quickly as it’s providing homes for Syrian refugees? It’s a valid question. The Globe and Mail.

Not everything happens for a reason. Bright Side.

The Unbound Spirit offers thirteen things you need to remember if you love a person who suffers from anxiety.

The decline of play can result in the increase in children’s mental disorders. Psychology Today.

This special agent crow proves he’s more than a bird brain. Daily Megabyte.

Brainpickings shares The Silent Friends, a lovely short film about our abiding bond with trees.

Canadian home care is suffering, but what about its patients? The Globe and Mail.

Lovely photograph of a lazy fox. Joop Snijder.

The Budweiser 2015 Superbowl ad, lost dog. The feels.

 

Phil Plait shares the latest Pluto images on Slate.

Preservationists fight to save forgotten French castle. You know how I like abandoned places 🙂 Wimp.

The last of the granny witches. Appalachian Ink.

The spirit of Mother Christmas. Gather.

Mog’s Christmas Calamity is adorable. Metro.

A Christmas classic:

 

You, me, Saturday. Let the CanCon 2015 reportage begin!

Thoughty Thursday

Under pressure

Warning: This is a mega-post.

 

The content of this video really spoke to me and reminded me that I certainly could have it worse. First world problems and all that.


 

A few weeks ago, I reported that I’d been “called up” for another acting assignment as a consultant. I was a little wary when I first heard of the offer because it came not from the manager of the unit, but my then-current manager.

See, although I’d made the pool, the process of awarding indeterminate positions (something I’m not likely to get by virtue of my location and unwillingness to move) was ongoing and so I would be appointed as a result of an unadvertised process. It’s a fancy way of saying they couldn’t wait for the formal appointment process to get to the acting positions.

The last two times I was given an acting consultancy, I was acting in the role of training coordinator. It was not something I enjoyed. In fact, you could say that it drove me crazy.

This time, I would be committing to three specific projects:

  1. create an 18-month training plan for three business lines;
  2. help manage the overtime for the training team; and
  3. administrate a SharePoint tool created to capture and calibrate performance management ratings.

I would have no further involvement with the three training plans other than to create them. This was important to me because it was the maintenance of the plan that really got to me before (make the plan, change the plan three times before it’s even approved, then change it at least once a week thereafter, but keep all activities and escalating costs within the original budget request).

I was okay with that and decided to accept the four-months-less-a-day appointment. This will take me into the first week of May.

There was a tacit understanding that I could be appointed another acting consultancy from the pool through the formal process. We agreed to cross that bridge if it was erected.

So I started collecting information from business expertise and operational management on training needs for the proposed plan. Due to a restructuring of our internal college and learning networks, the planning process has been delayed pending the completion of a new tool (also a SharePoint site, incidentally) to help in the planning process.

I got a handle on the overtime process fairly quickly, organized the drive folders to reflect the (fairly simple) process, and track the overtime budget. This last is a bit of a sticking point. Almost a month into the fourth quarter I still don’t have a definitive number as to what our Q4 OT budget is . . .

I met with the then-administrator (going on parental leave as soon as his baby arrived, hence the urgency of my appointment) of the performance management SharePoint site and tool. I was given a brief tour and told that everything was set up and ready to go. All I had to do would be to watch the dear thing tick away.

Oh, yeah. And as a bonus fourth task, I was to write a nomination for the Service Excellence Awards.

My work of the first few days, aside from orientation, was to write up the nomination, due in a couple of days. Though stressful, my writing skills carried me through the nomination form and I met the deadline.

The OT process seemed to order itself fairly well.

After my initial consultation with the then-administrator of the performance management SharePoint site, he disappeared. The news came out a few days later that his wife had had her baby and he was officially on parental leave.

That was when issues started to emerge from the cracks like cockroaches in the dark.

I had already requested Designer Plus permission of the site (the highest a non-IT employee can receive) and for SharePoint Designer to be installed on my computer. The last time I had done any serious SharePoint admin, Desiger was off-limits. I didn’t know how to use the program and so turned to my friend Lynda.com to help me learn it.

I was asked to validate the management structure so that the appropriate accesses and permissions could be set up and set the deadline for noon on Thursday.

I became aware (belatedly) that a new set of custom list templates had to be imported into the site. This was not something I could do, and I have to put in a third service request to IT to have one of their specialists take care of that.

Once the templates were on the site, I created the new lists from them. Unfortunately I wasn’t advised that I could not change the names of the lists without breaking the cascading lookups and Kwiz forms customizations. Of course, when I tried out my newly created lists, they didn’t work.

Not having learned how to use either third party app (Cascading Lookup Plus or Kwiz), I was understandably at a loss as to how to proceed.

So I went ahead and amended the security list with the most recent changes to management structure.

On Friday of my second week in the acting consultancy, there was an information session by the creator of the tool, someone self-taught, like myself, but far more adept.

In that session, I learned about the naming issue, but when I’d created another new set of lists with proper names after the meeting, they still did not work. Before the day ended, I was finally informed that I would have SP Designer installed on my computer over the weekend.

On Monday of my third week, I confirmed the presence of Designer on my computer.

Then I received a call from one of the Directors indicating that the tool had to be ready to go for Wednesday. The creator of the tool was otherwise engaged for the day (two other business lines were setting up similar systems and his expertise was required).

Understandably, I panicked.

I thought my inability to get the lists to work properly meant that I had to get the templates reinstalled. I contacted the person who had imported them and asked for his help. I put in another service request to have the templates reinstalled ASAP. I got an emailed and cursory response to some of my questions from the tool’s creator, which didn’t help me much.

I initiated yet another service request for a custom permission level to be created for the site. This was another piece of the puzzle I was apparently missing. I was informed, however, that the properly named lists should work and that no reinstall was necessary. I called to cancel that service request, at least.

But the day ended without further action and the last word from my manager was to make it happen. I’d have to get the tool in functional shape by Wednesday at 9 am. I was authorized to work overtime, if necessary. How I was going to manage it, I didn’t have the first clue.

Needless to say, I hardly slept. The next day, I frightened everyone in my immediate area (sorry ladies) by having a full-blown freak out.

The creator of the tool was able to spend some time with me in the morning sorting things out. We fixed the three lists by deleting and recreating the cascading lookup columns in all of them.

I was shown how to import the three custom workflows using Designer. Running out of time, the creator fixed up two of the three and told me I’d be able to take care of the last one myself. Then, my sole support had to go help the other business lines. He said he’d try to get back to me later in the day.

So I fixed up the last of the workflows to the degree I could.

My manager called for an update and I was honest with her about the status of the project. We might be in trouble for the 9 am deadline.

Shortly after, the creator of the tool called back about ten minutes before he left for the day. He confirmed that I’d done a good job on the last of the workflows but said that we wouldn’t be able to go any further without the custom permission level (remember the second service request from Monday?) and two custom security groups for the lists themselves.

He said to add the security groups to my permission level request and try to get them all actioned right away. He committed to working with me first thing in the morning to finish off everything.

So I called IT and got them to change the service request and expedite its assignment. I informed them I’d be working late and so someone in BC might be able to help me out. It was all I could do.

I turned to fixing up the instructions and wording on the SharePoint site around the use of the tool.

About an hour into my overtime, one of the people from the other business lines, also tasked to have the tool up and functional for the following morning, called and asked me about the workflows.

I shared what I could with her and in return, she advised me who I could contact to have the permission level and security groups set up. Unfortunately, that person was in Quebec and had already left for the day.

I updated my manager at her home and, not being able to go further on my own, called Phil to pick me up.

My sleep was only marginally improved and the next day dawned a weary one.

My first order of business Wednesday morning was to get in touch with the IT person I was referred to the night before. He was very helpful and the work was completed quickly, but not in time for the 9 am deadline.

I called the creator of the tool and he finished two of the three workflows. Again, he had to leave to help others and said he’d call back as soon as he could.

I tried to follow his set up for the final workflow, but received an error when I tried to run it on the sample entry we’d made to test the tool.

The creator of the tool called back just before noon and fixed the last of the workflows. We ran it and everything was working. My relief was intense.

My manager called and I reported our belated success. We then turned our attention to the wording on the site and the three official communications pieces that should have been sent out at 9 am that morning.

I made notes for the rewording of the site, and then we worked together to revise the three email communications for our business line.

After two hours of work, my manager’s email crashed and she lost the drafts. There were tears.

We reconstructed the communications in record time (the second time around) and were able to send them for translation before I left work. My manager would not be at work Thursday or Friday, so I was the point person for approval of the communication content before they were sent on to the executive director for final approval and release.

Thursday presented its own challenges, but the communications were released just after noon. In the late afternoon, I started to receive requests for access to the tool.

Everyone should have had access.

Another panicked call to the tool’s creator and he helped me sort out part of the problem. The other was an issue that wasn’t related to anything I had done (or not done) on the site.

Friday morning saw the resolution of the access issues, and I was finally able to implement my manager’s suggested revisions for the site messaging from Wednesday afternoon.

Can we say WHEW?

This was, by far, the most stressful week I’ve experienced at work in the fourteen years I’ve worked for my employer.

Phil was incredibly supportive through the whole week. I’m so lucky to have such a great guy. I survived and am back to my usual, laid-back self, but this is not an experience I’m eager to repeat.

Lessons learned: I must get detailed documentation on any project I’m parachuted into the middle of in the future. This was a situation in which I literally didn’t know what I didn’t know (and what I needed to know to be able to do the job). Being deemed a SharePoint “expert” has its drawbacks.

And that is my tale of woe and triumph for the week.

Next weekend, I’m attending an event on Feb 1 (Imbolc for the paganish), and then, on Feb 3, I’m delivering my ‘how to get published’ workshop. It’s been moved from the afternoon to the evening and reduced to two hours, but it’s still going forward.

All is once again well in Mellie-ville.

How about you? Have you had (seemingly insurmountable) work challenges that you’ve been able to meet? Have you been able to surface from a sea of overwhelm and make your way to shore?

The Learning Mutt

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 4-10, 2015

Another small package of good things for you.

The haunting world of 19th century asylums. Abandoned places are so inspirational. Brainpickings.

A couple purchased an abandoned 1700s French chateau and took pictures of what they found. Wimp.com

Do the spiral and cup carvings have something to do with astrology? Irish Central.

Check out these pictures of the 2015 ice and snow festival in Harbin, China. The Atlantic.

Scientific American delves into the reasons why we’re so intrigued by zombies.

After years of podcasting, Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting his own late night talk show. (YAY!) The Verge.

CNN presents a cool kind of horse racing.

A picture of another winter horse race shared by a friend. Panoramio.

When I was a kid, this was entertainment:

 

The Thin White Dude has always been a fashion icon. Esquire.

Get thoughty with it!

See you on the weekend 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 4-10, 2015

Good things come in little packages?

Publishers Weekly: The print book is making a comeback.

Why the self-published ebook is no longer the new query. Anne R. Allen.

K.M. Weiland’s most common writing mistakes series, part 37: Unnecessary filler.

In Katie’s Wednesday vlog, she talks about the one rule about backstory that matters.

Roz Morris and Peter Snell co-host “So you want to be a writer?” on Surrey Hills Radio. Listen to them all!

Canadian authors share their New Year’s resolutions. Canada Writes – CBC.

The 50 most anticipated books of the first half of 2015. The Globe and Mail.

David Bowie answers the Proust Questionnaire. Brainpickings.

Access Hollywood asks Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe about the second half of Outlander, season one.

Check out these cool maps of fictional places from BookRiot.

Can we answer my first question, “yes”?

See you on Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday