Killing Two Birds with One Stone: learning for all my jobs

I’m still at the annual Master Naturalist conference, and enjoyed getting recognized for achieving 250 volunteer hours so far. That does pale in comparison to the dude who achieved 10,000 hours. But I’m proud I got so much done in just two years.

I did this. So did a lot of other people!

I’m also proud of myself for signing up for a few of the more administrative sessions today. I did one on doing social media for your group and another on leading effective meetings. The networking in both was great, and much of what I learned will help with my other jobs, since they also involve social media and leading meetings.

This book was my door prize. It’s much smaller than it appears to be. There is loads of info in it, though.

The tidbits on dealing with folks who disrupt meetings and in how to actually get things done in meetings were invaluable.

Naturally I got books. I’m me. One is on things that are invading Texas and the other is on things that are in danger of disappearing.

But wait, there’s more

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Book Review: Going Tiny

I am sharing a book review I wrote for Hermit Haus Redevelopment, because I think some of my readers here would also enjoy it.

The little book I read is called Going Tiny: Failure + Opportunity in the Future of Affordable Housing  It’s written by a guy named Davis Richardson, who is apparently the age of my youngest son. But, he’s more ambitious or more lucky. Anyway, his age is a real advantage in this book, and his perspective is just what I needed as I looked for books that gave honest assessments of how tiny homes REALLY would work in communities.

I don’t usually write the same thing in my work and personal blog. This time, yes. Why not?

I really enjoyed this charming and idea-packed little book!

If you are a professional book person, you have to ignore some of the obvious signs of self publishing, like random blank spreads in the middle of chapters, and headings even on the first blank page. I also get a little irritated trying to make out the legends on his illustrations, which are in his charming but hard-to-read handwriting. Really, though, you should focus on Richardson’s words, instead, which are written in a colloquial Millennial style that I enjoyed.

Richardson is an architecture student who decided to build a tiny house on a whim, and learned a lot of lessons about building them and (more important to me) what you can DO with them the hard way, by his own experience. Lucky for us Hermits, he did all his learning in Austin, so the examples he gives actually apply to us. What a handy coincidence!

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What? Capitalization Rules Don’t Fascinate You?

We love to do research

My friends, my colleagues, and I have a rousing good time whenever one of us is stumped by a spelling, grammar, or punctuation rule. (Have I mentioned before that I am an editor/tech writer by day?) The amount of gusto with which we throw ourselves into figuring out the right answer has got to look funny to passersby at work (luckily at home no one can see us).

Recently, there have been a few capitalization questions that have come up, mostly because we are revising some old content and adding new headings. Every once in a while something looks “funny” to one of us.

Even coffee doesn’t help you sometimes.

Luckily, we solved most of the first mysteries by going to our preferred style guides. Microsoft disagreed with Chicago Manual of Style on hyphenated words in sentence case, but since we are a software company, Microsoft won.

Thus, Hyphenated-Word Capitalization Looks Like This

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I Gots Nothin’

I hate to disappoint the readership, but today didn’t have much to it worth writing about, other than getting my neck looked at after the little accident, and some water droplets finally falling out of the sky. Both of those are good things, of course.

A giant bra in the sky from yesterday.
My thoughts on endless delays. But isn’t the avocado shirt from Target cute?

I spent most of the day sitting at my desk, back at work, dutifully doing the needful, and waiting for the results of a meeting. Finally, I asked that guy that sits next to me when the meeting was, and he admitted he was too chickensh** to tell me it had gotten postponed. I got a wry laugh out of that, I guess. Then I took a walk, like the consummate professional I am, followed by more needful doing.

I did get yet another new work laptop, because the previous new laptop would not display my third monitor, over-heated a lot, and kept refusing to come back after it went to “sleep.” I know I’m hard on displays, since each of my offices has a slightly different configuration, so that part didn’t surprise me. So far, the new one is churning along just fine, and I did get a cool screen background.

There are like 80 of these different color splotch backgrounds that rotate. Nice. New laptop at right. Tangle of wires at center.

Yep, that’s it. Highlight of my day, some blobs and some raindrops.

September 11 is never easy, anyway. As always, I will send out peaceful thoughts to whoever will accept them. Peace to you, readers. Remember those you love, and let them know.

Things Fly from the Sky and Attack My Car

Greetings from my sick room. I’ve been sleeping off the medication I got when my coworker Maggie guided me to the ER, because I got all disoriented and weird at my 10 am meeting.

Huh?

It just wasn’t a good morning. I was very happy to get to work without incident, because I was still exhausted from the weekend. I was almost to my exit when eek! A large piece of something…perhaps fiberboard, came out of the sky over the truck in front of me. No time to react, I just watched it smash down on the hood of my car. It then flew off, and I hope didn’t hit any other car!

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In Which I Try Poop Coffee*

*We were only calling it poop coffee or butt coffee as we laughed our way through our beverages…

The thing is, I always tell people I’m willing to try any food, at least once. So, when my colleague Chriztine decided she was interested in trying the coffee pictured at right, I (and two other coworkers) just had to say, “Yes.”

What does that mean, “zero contact with the animals?” Well, this is that coffee that’s passed through the digestive tract of the civet cat, which you may have heard of (many people think it goes through monkeys, but no). The sustainable part is important, because the poor little animals were being mistreated to get them to poop out enough beans to meet demand. We didn’t want anything to do with that!

So, according to the story on the bag, this is the nice version of the kipi luwak coffee.
Gimme some coffee. And don’t call me a weasel!

As a naturalist, I feel compelled to let you know that the civet is actually not a cat, and is more closely related to our friends, the mongoose family. I found this out in an article from Singapore, which informed me that “the special taste of these coffee is due to the fermentation process when the civets digest the beans.” MMMMM. Also I learned that this kind of coffee is called “weasel coffee” in Vietnam.

So, did I drink it?

First we spent a long time grinding the beans, during which time coworker Jen frequently reminded us that the roasting process will have killed off any germs or wee beasties living on the coffee. Whew.

You can tell they’re looking forward to this.

And then we poured hot water in and watched it drip. Was it chocolatey like Dipu thought? Were the beans old, like Jen thought? Were we all laughing too loud, like I thought?

Ready to give it a try. Note beautiful staging of coffee-making equipment.

Next, we all had to pose with our cups ready. And then we drank it. Guess what? It tasted very much like a cup of coffee. We didn’t detect any excessive smoothness or other fermentation results.

Yep. That’s coffee, all right.

But, since it was the most expensive cup of coffee any of us had ever imbibed, you can bet we all finished it. (Thanks, Chriztine.) We tried to get more people to drink it, but most flat-out refused, even when I politely stuck the cup under their noses and demanded, “Wanna smell my poop coffee?” So hilarious.

Rob painfully tastes the coffee. The new guy behind him got a good chuckle out of us. He was getting “pod coffee,” as we call the product from that machine (some like it; some don’t).

Rob here tried a tiny bit and said he did NOT like it. That will save him the investment of buying more if he did like it!

The best part of the day was making all the jokes and laughing away some of the work stress. I will say that I’m glad the only coffee I brought home was some medium-roast blends to drink in the mornings at the Bobcat Lair. No more poop coffee.

By the way, we have civets in Texas (ring-tail cats). Wonder what happens when they eat mequite beans?

Labor Day Labors of Love

I’ve been trying to not do quite so much this weekend, but other than putting off one important task (which I will work on all next week), I’ve been planning things, improving websites, and volunteering. I’m sort of proud of what I’ve managed to do! I love volunteering.

The Hermit Haus

One thing is that I improved the social media presence of our meeting venue, The Hermit Haus. I’d had a website since we bought the building, but not done much with it. I now have a Facebook page for it, where I can easily share upcoming events and news. Thanks to Mandi inviting everyone she knows, we have a good number of fans already!

Mandi and I also spent more time working on this business today, and we have pricing all set, with a sale for events during our renovation.

Who knows when it will actually look like this!

We also had lots of ideas for things to do. One thing is I want to start a coffeehouse/house concert series like the old Live Oak Coffeehouse I used to participate in. You know, so I can name it “CoffeeHaus Concerts @ The Hermit Haus” or something with “haus” in it.

I have some good music connections in town, so I hope to partner with one of them to do the bookings and such. The idea would be to have a “listening room” atmosphere where people actually pay attention to the music. By charging admission, the performers could get some pay and we could also give a cut to a local charity. Sound good?

That Brochure

I have also put in a surprising (to me) number of hours on the brochure I’m creating to our Master Naturalist chapter and another group. I’m real proud at how easily the draft came together. But, it’s taking a while for all the many, many comments and analyses by the committee to get cleared up. Thus, I’m making lots of changes.

To be honest, I’d rather work with eagle-eyed thoughtful reviewers than with people who don’t point things out until the item is published! Right?

One of the lovely images in the brochure, by Ann Collins.

I’ve been also chatting with potential people to work at Hearts, Homes and Hands, which I can’t help but do. And I am reading up on managing nonprofits so I can talk rationally about it with my fellow MTOL directors.

Spirituality

Those of you wondering what I was going to do about finding a spiritual community can rest easier. I think my friend, Martha, and I have come up with something we can do with a few local friends, which will nicely meet our needs but still be disorganized enough to NOT be organized religion. I’ll leave it at that, but I’m happy I figured something out!

I hope those of you in the US got at least a little break on Labor Day. I know many people don’t, including my own kid. And in other places, I sure hope you had a reasonable Monday!