Things That’s Up

New job is going well.   It’s my first completely non-managerial job in years.  Even when I was a “department of one” I was was still doing a lot of project / process management. I’m enjoying just doing things.

I also like this “getting paid” thing.  ;)

My commute is about an hour each way, sometimes longer, depending on bus connections. This is longer than I’m used to, and I’m glad I get to read or noodle on the computer during the long bus ride.

On the fitness front, I’m adapting well to the daily walking-between-buses routine, even with my backpack weighing 16lbs once I add the work equipment I may need at home.  (I carried a heavier backpack in college, but I was more used to it then.  I’m being careful while I adapt now, and doing more tummy crunches and other core work.)

I’m also focusing on being sure I can do tomorrow what I did today — in other words, I’m totally agreeing with Noël on her recent “go hard or go home” rant.

My work desk situation isn’t perfect from an ergonomic point of view, but I’ve made some adjustments that help (raising the monitor & getting a mouse pad).  I also find getting up and walking around a bit every few hours does wonders.  I’m in a rather large office building, so a trip to the bathroom or to refill my water bottle tends to get the kinks out.

I am also dealing with some family stuff.  My father’s been sick lately, and I finally convinced him to see a doctor, so I’ve been ferrying him to and from various appointments.  I wish he’d been willing to see a doctor before, when I was unemployed, but no.  Le sigh.   I’m also finding that being paid hourly makes me worry less about taking time off than when I salaried.  Interesting…

What is frustrating is that 8 hours of work + lunch + 2 (or more) hours of commute  = more of my day that I’d like.  Meeting the man of the house for dinner and a soccer game at the pub?  Fun.  Also takes up most of my “down” time.  My schedule has also been shifted earlier than I prefer.   The temptation to short myself on sleep is strong in the evening, but I know damn well I won’t be happy (or productive) if I do.

So. Off to sleep.  Be good, y’all.

Some things I’m glad about today

1)  Riding the bus to my new job means I’m walking daily again, at least on weekdays. Funny how walking even a 1/2 mile or so every day can feel good, even if it’s spread throughout the day.

2)  Yes, I have a temp gig.   At the moment it’s a better fit than the old place.

3) The commute is a short bus ride and a longer bus ride – if I make connections badly it can take 90 minutes or more.  I am getting better at making connections, though, and the long bus route is conducive to reading books or surfing the net (many of the buses have wifi).  De-stressing on the way home is a good thing.

4) The trees are blooming, but my meds are keeping my asthma largely under control.

5) From s. e. smith’s thought-provoking post on what our culture means by  “taking care of yourself“:

They don’t care about my health. They don’t care whether I am happy, whether I enjoy my body, whether I like moving and living in my body. They care that they don’t like looking at me and wish that my body would go away, would shrink, would dwindle away so that it will no longer offend their eyes. This is what people mean when they ask me if I’m ‘taking care of myself,’ when they give me a sidelong glance while I eat a doughnut, when they scrutinise me if I start to wheeze on a hike, because of course, I must be wheezing because I am fat and out of shape, not because I have asthma.

6) Hugs, kisses, and dinner from the man of the house.  :)

Thankful Thursday

I think it’s time to do this again.  See, my job was eliminated.  Not fun, but I’m at the stage now where I’m thankful it happened, because:

1) Much less stress.  The old job was changing and had become a bad fit, and now it’s OVER.

2) I qualify for unemployment.

3) …also, we have money saved.  I’m touching wood as I type this, but we’re okay for a while.

4) …and, really? I didn’t want that job anymore anyway.  I started looking for a new job, sporadically—like once a month—in June.    Maybe if I’d rolled faster with the changes I’d still be there, but the “not wanting the job anymore” was a big part of why I didn’t roll with the changes well.  I didn’t mean to be obstructionist, but I became obstructionist because I didn’t want to do heavy lifting to change a job I didn’t want.   It became a negative spiral that I’m glad I’m not in anymore.

5)  Finally, I’ve been able to enjoy the time I spend with the man of the house more.  His support has really helped.

I’m also thankful that my blue blazer I got 5 or 6 years ago still fits and looks great with various tops.  ;)    I’ve had a few interviews, but no offers yet.

Working Wardrobes

During a phone interview today I ended up saying “No, this wouldn’t work” because their corporate dress code is Business Professional, defined as suits or suit-like combinations; ties for men; no athletic shoes allowed.   Refusing to dress up every day for work isn’t all that uncommon a stance for a software person to take in Seattle, but my reasons are a bit different.

You see, in the past 10 years I have found ONE standard Business Professional suit jacket that fits me.   It’s a medium “business” blue, which I pair with black slacks for interviews.  Size? 34W.

Do you know how common suits are in size 34W?  Heck, in anything bigger than size 28?  (Hint:  They’re not.)  I could get away some coordinating jackets and slacks.   Even if I’m just focusing on blazers, though, they’re hard to find.  Oh, and I usually need to go up a size in pants/skirt size than top/jacket, and 34W is really a ballpark; sometimes I can wear a 32W, sometimes I need a 36W.

So, it’s not just that I would have to buy a totally new wardrobe for this job. I have the money in savings, if I felt the job was worth the cost.  It’s that I would have to FIND the appropriate clothing IN MY SIZE for this job.

Yes, some catalogs carry suits in size 34W or 36W.  Making It Big has some suit-like separates, and Plus Woman will make a custom blazer (and skirt and pants to match).  That’s assuming the time lag of ordering, delivery, trying on, arranging alterations, and/or returning clothes that don’t fit doesn’t cause problems.

But what I’d actually want, for that sort of job would be this suit, or possibly this jacket or this one.  None of which are made in my size.  Possibly Rochester Big & Tall could make some serious alterations to a man’s suit … or I’d have to have suits made for me, either by Plus Woman or someone local.

Then there’s shoes.  I wear “walking shoes” because they’re comfortable and supportive.   I only own a couple pairs of dress shoes, and I don’t want to wear them daily.

Fortunately?  Most software jobs in Seattle are strongly influenced by Microsoft.  “Business casual” is often regarded as dressing up.   But if I weren’t in software? This could be a serious drawback to getting work.

Update: I had previously posted about what I usually wear to work here.

Clipping: Size Doesn’t Matter in Diversity Woman

Size Doesn’t Matter (PDF), published in Diversity Woman magazine, discusses size discrimination in the workplace.  Some of it’s pretty grim, such as the statistic that “[w]omen who are classified as obese generally earn 12 percent less than thin women” and are less likely to be hired.  It also notes that “biggest loser” contests are not helpful, and has tips on how to create a “size-diverse workplace”, including: 

  • Create a size-friendly space for yourself. Start small by surrounding your office or cubicle with size affirmations.
  • Volunteer for health-related activities. Bring some size diversity to the committee; share ideas so that plus-size employees can participate.
  • When resistance shows up, remain calm.  Don’t automatically go on the defensive. Listen, pause, and then respond. There’s no rule that you have to act right away. Delivery of the message is just as important as the content.
  • Organize a size-positive posse.  Start a group, meet for lunch, and share ideas. You might make some friends and allies in the process. 
I stumbled across this on Linda Bacon’s website.  Depending on where you work, this might be a useful thing to email to HR.   Or, if you feel safer being anonymous, to print out and leave on their desk, or send through the mail.  

Day in the Life: Using A Ball As A Desk Chair

In the ongoing saga of  “Your blogger is employed to use a computer for 8-or-so-hours-per-day and refuses to stand the entire time”:  I had a custom-purchased-for-me chair without arms which broke; I alternated between a standard office chair and my home exercise ball*; now I have a work exercise ball

And how, you might be wondering, is sitting on the exercise ball going? 

Until today, I thought it was going great.   Yes, a lot of the time I’m just sitting there.   But it’s also fun to pick my feet off the floor and see how long I can balance when I’m on hold, or to rock back and forth or bounce (slightly) in time to music.    

At first my back would start to feel the lack of back support after an hour or so, and I’d swap the ball for my standard desk chair.   The standard chair’s arms a bit tight for longterm confort – in fact, I tend to “feel” them on my thighs all evening if I sit in the standard chair all day – but the back support is fine, and swapping every couple hours works out great.  

After a few weeks I was regularly sitting on the ball all the time I was at my desk.   Sure, at meetings I’d sit in a chair, but at my desk I was on the ball. 

Which leads me to today.   Today, my lower back and abs are sore.  Even my sides are sore.  How’d that happen? 

Well, according to proponents, “the constant adjustment and readjustment that your body makes on the ball will work your core muscles — even sitting at your desk.”   The potential strain this can put on your lower back and spine is, in fact, why some ergonomics specialists recommend not using a ball at work.   The research I’ve found doesn’t see much difference between sitting on a ball or a chair, but it only deals with durations of 30 or 60 minutes, not a full day (or week). 

In this specific case, I think it was a combination of sitting in nice, stable chairs for most of the weekend, listening to music that makes me want to dance (or at least shimmy my hips) today, and not having any meetings.   I also think I will be using my chair a bit more tomorrow than I did today.  


*Also called a Swiss ball, fit ball, fitness ball, stability ball,  et cetera.   My home ball is rated to 500lbs; my work ball is rated to 600lbs.

Day in the Life: Too Much Bum Glue?

[One of the occasional series of posts about my typical day.]

As noted elsewhere, my job requires bum glue.  If a task is going well, I can get a lot done in an hour or two.  But when I get up, well, maybe it’s a fat thing, maybe it’s an over-40 thing, but I feel stiff.  It may take 6 or 8 steps before my gait relaxes into “normal”.   Once I’m moving I’m fine, but the transition feels awkward in the “Eep!  Is-anyone-noticing?” way.

Yes, I’ve heard of the “treadmill desk” idea (most recently spacedcowgirl wrote on it).  I also know people who use a stationary bike while they play video games.  I sometimes use a  “mini-bike” exerciser while reading or watching TV, and I suppose I could, technically, use a computer too.  But there’s some problems with the idea.

  1. The idea is to be less stiff.  Biking through 30-Minute Meals has me walking funny, too!
  2. I tried using my computer while on a stationary bike and found I don’t multitask pedaling and typing well.  Dropping my efficiency and performance level at work is SO Not A Good Idea.

What do I do?  Here’s some things I do, in rough order of frequency:

  1. Set a timer to remind me to get up and stretch….
  2. …and/or top off coffee/water/tea.
  3. If it makes sense, sometimes go talk to a coworker instead of calling or sending email.  (Drawback: Assumes I have time, coworker at their desk, etc.)
  4. Go for a walk during lunch.  (Drawback: Requires extracting myself from the nest, may encourage the idea that I don’t have enough to do.)
  5. Walk to the nearby coffee shop for a mocha instead of just getting coffee.  (Drawback: Extracting myself from the nest, $).
  6. Our new office has some decks but no deck furniture.  My boss and I had our weekly “touch base” meeting standing out in the sunshine this week.  :)

Some things I’ve thought of but haven’t tried:

  • Stand up during phone calls and stretch.  (Don’t make many, actually, but this will change)
  • Go to the other floor to use the bathroom. (Well, once it’s no longer under construction)

Other ideas?