2006-10-18 23:45 in /life/telecommuting
Switching to full-time telecommuting is a big change; in physical setup, in daily rhythms, and in personal interactions. I imagine it will take a while to really get good at it. I’m learning some lessons, though.
Lesson 1: Your RSA token is one of your most important possessions. Know where it is at all times.
I’ve gotten into the habit of just leaving my laptop connected to the VPN most of the time, so I don’t have to constantly dig out my token. But, on Monday morning it had disappeared on me. I could still access my email without it and, of course, make phone calls and IM, but it was still pretty crippling. Of course, clever geeks can work around just about any security system, but it did take until mid-afternoon to arrange a sufficient chain of accounts and SSH tunnels to do it. Overall, maybe not worth the trouble, since IT Support was able to overnight me a new token that arrived early the next morning. At any rate, that new token now lives on my keyring.
I read with interest this discussion on working from home effectively. I realized from the start that I needed to have a fairly fixed schedule, both because of the expectations of my coworkers and the requirements of a family. I’ve been trying to follow something like this:
8:00-9:00 Get up, shower, breakfast
9:00-9:15 Start work, scan email for anything critical
11:30-12:00 Process email
12:00-13:00 Lunch (with family)
13:00-14:00 Read (internet), write, make phone calls
16:30-17:00 Process email
17:00-18:00 Take little one to park
18:00-21:00 Dinner, family time
21:00-22:00 Put little one to bed
22:00-midnight Household tasks, personal projects, read (books)
midnight Go to bed
So far, I’ve been least successful at getting the little one to the park every day, and honestly that one probably needs to be rethought. There’s very few other kids at the park after 5, and after the time change it’ll be getting dark by then anyway. Also, now that it’s started to rain frequently, planning to play outside at a fixed time is something of a doomed enterprise. Possibly once we get her in a pre-school again this will be a moot point if she gets enough outside play there.
The other conspicious absence is exercise. I’m still trying to figure that out. I haven’t been to a yoga class since moving. Amrita is the major Anusara studio in town, but they’re on the other side of the river and if you look at their schedule, it’s a real morning place. The thought of trying to make a 7AM class, when most of the classes at my level are scheduled, is a little daunting. There’s another studio just a couple blocks away that recently started having some Anusara classes, but they are at a pretty basic level. I want to get some more aerobic exercise as well, but I haven’t figured out where to fit that in either. Do I get up earlier, or do I figure out some way to get that exercise at night?
2006-10-18 13:07 in /life
Nothing says “welcome to the neighborhood, new customer” like a past due notice. Yup, that’s what showed up in the mail today from the trash company.
Apparently, their systems have a very weak concept of an account as a separate entity from an address. They only bill every two months, in advance, and we moved in in the middle of the billing period. The previous residents paid for the first month of service, but naturally not the second month when they wouldn’t be living here. However, the trash company doesn’t quite fathom this, so they consider the other half of the bill past due, which is how I ended up with this notice. Moreover, they can’t even send me a proper bill for this month, because as far as they are concerned, they already sent the bill for this period and they can’t generate a duplicate bill.
While I’m ranting about utilities, I might as well point out another thing I observed in setting everything up here. All 5 companies I had to deal with (phone, gas, electric, trash, and water) wanted my social security number to open an account. In all cases, I told them that I did not want to give that to them (knowing that federal law backs me up on this). This was no problem with 3 of them. The Qwest representative tried to tell me that without an SSN I could not get anything other than basic local phone service. I explained to him that this was illegal, and requested to speak to his supervisor. The supervisor immediately acknowledged that they didn’t need an SSN at all and sent me back to a different representative, but the extra time spent arguing and on hold ate up almost 20 minutes.
The guy at Northwest Natural Gas told me that without an SSN I would need to open my account in person and, among other things, provide a certified copy of my birth certificate. Now, I’m not in the habit of keeping my birth certificate around, and this sounded pretty fishy to me. Sure enough, the lady at the local office just glanced at my driver’s license and proceeded to activate the account.
This sort of blatent lying and bullying by these companies really pisses me off. They know full well that they can’t legally require this information, but that most customers won’t argue; particularly when you tell them they can’t have DSL or need to drag 4 documents off to some office. Really, they just want to hook you up into some massive data warehouse, who’s going to leak your information to criminals. I’m still not sure that I’ve dealt with all the fall-out from the Choicepoint compromise nearly two years ago; after which someone used my identity to rent an apartment and who knows what else in New York. I’m sure not going to make it easy for these companies to do the same thing to me.