Lessons In Zoom

It’s funny that a tool that hardly anyone used six weeks ago is now a staple of business life.

We use Zoom for work, and I’m seeing clubs and churches and more use it as a vital way to connect. But Zoom is after all, just a tool, and people forget that it sees and hears all when your camera and mike are on.

The first days I was working from home, I attended our morning meeting in my pajamas (camera off). And then I decided that I wasn’t going to work, even if it was from home without real clothes on. And makeup. And jewelry.

I still remember one of my first experiences with Zoom. Two of my coworkers and I went into a conference room and logged into a Zoom call on a technical subject. Most of us had our cameras off and mikes muted. But one gentleman didn’t. And he also wasn’t dressed. At least from the waist up, as we could see. Thankfully he never stood up. It was not pleasant.

My husband was in the office with me as I was in my meeting. He opened up our church website, which began to automatically play an audio clip. As I explained to my astonished co-workers, one of them quipped, “1994 called and they want their website back.” Ugh.

And how many stories have we heard about people forgetting about the camera and mike?

Google it. It’s good for a laugh.

Programming is Creative

Photo by BigOakFlickr

I work in Information Technology. One of the things that I am told over and over is that my profession is not a “creative” profession.

Horse hockey.

I spend my days, every day, translating English into another language. Once the requirements are in the other language, I take my building blocks and assemble them in a way to meet those requirements – a way that has never been done before.

If that’s not creative, I don’t know what is.

I think that people just assume because the creation is something that can’t be seen or touched that it’s not “real”.

All I know is that I spend every day creating, out of my brain, using building blocks of theory and a foreign language. To me, that meets the definition of creative.

Photo by BigOakFlickr

Frustrated by Email

Photo by Jonathon Narvey

This is going to be a bit of a rant.

I don’t want to make it seem like I am coming down on elderly people for not understanding how email works, because there are plenty of people younger than me that don’t understand it either.

But recently I have been inundated by email from people who don’t understand email and how it works, and when it is the best form of communication.

  1. The elderly arborist who sent the email, “I need to talk to you about [area of the church grounds]. I’m at the church most afternoons.”
  2. The elderly activist who sent the email, “We nominated [person I know] for an award from [a local activist magazine]. She won. The awards ceremony is in March and we hope you can attend.”
  3. The elderly botanist who emailed me asking to address a group I run at the church “about the trees.”
  4. The college student who sent an email to over 100 people about an organization we all belong to…and left all the addresses visible.
  5. And the person my age who did the inevitable reply to all to the 100 people.
  6. And the person my age who did another inevitable reply all to tell people not to do reply all.


My responses:

  1. “I work full time. Please explain what you need from me and why I need to go to the church for this.”
  2. “What is this award for?”
  3. “Our group does not have a format that would allow for a lecture. Please indicate what you wish to speak about and for how long, and I will see if I can work it into one of our other activities.”
  4. “Please don’t expose email addresses in the To. Put your own email address in the To and the others in BCC. Inevitably, someone will reply all, and it will set off an email explosion.
  5. Delete.
  6. Mute the email conversation.

Responses from the sender:

  1. “[other person] needs to know where you will be moving [item]. She wants to go to the congregation to get approval to build a cremation resting place in the spring.” (So why do you need the information now? What does it matter? The two areas will not overlap, and it’s premature to talk about it!)
  2. “Oh, I meant to send that.” (And you still didn’t, even after I asked. DELETE!)
  3. “I want to talk to them about doing some plantings and cleanup of the grounds.” (What? How is this a talk about trees?)
  4. “Sorry, I don’t understand email etiquette.” (No kidding. I hope he learned his lesson, because as I peeked and the chain a week after muting it, it had, in fact, exploded and there were dozens of emails saying “take me off this” and “don’t email me again”, all of which were reply to all.)

It’s enough to make me pull my hair out.

Most things are better done with a phone call. Yes, email is more accessible because you can send an email when you are thinking about it, rather than figure out when the best time to call and then doing it.

We fool ourselves into thinking it is the best form of communication because the recipient can deal with it on their own schedule.

But honestly, if email is going to be used, be complete. Brevity is only your friend in email if you include all the details. Email is not a conversation. If it has to go back and forth, it should have been a phone call.

But I fear I am fighting a losing battle. Bad habits abound with any technology. And people will do whatever the flick they want.

Photo by Jonathon Narvey

The Cat Toy Box

Photo by Nesster

My cat has a toy box. It serves the purpose of keeping things corralled, away from the dog, and out from under my feet. It’s just a simple wooden box and sits on the bottom shelf of a bookshelf in my writing studio.

The older cat ignores the box. But my cat will go in and dig around from time to time.

Lately, he’s been going behind the box and shoving it over, spilling all the toys onto the floor. And under my feet. He does this so he can dig through and pick out a toy to play with – which he does.

The only problem is that he doesn’t put things back when he’s done.

Photo by Nesster

Velcro Cat

Photo by oliva732000

We went away for 10 days over the holidays. When we travel, I always hire a cat sitter. Not only does she make sure that the cats have food and water, she cleans their boxes and gives them attention.

Apparently it wasn’t enough attention, or attention from the wrong person. Because since we have been back (and it’s been almost a week as I write this), my cat is Velcro.

This is not the first time we have gone away in my cat’s life, either.

He wouldn’t let me out of his sight at first. Which is cute and cuddly, until you try to use the bathroom. Then it morphed into needing to be physically touching me.

Don’t get me wrong – I am very happy to pet him and give him lots of cuddles. But this needing to physically touch me is getting a bit old, especially when I’m doing things like trying to put in my contacts or eat a meal or cook or work on the computer. Because he is Right There. And it’s really hard to see around him at times.

I appreciate that my cat is attached to me; I’m attached to him too. But this is really unusual behavior that is beginning to annoy me. I can pee while being the subject of a feline stare. But I can’t get my contacts in properly if they are covered in cat hair.

Photo by oliva732000