Dirt in the Conversation Pit

I remember through many of my jobs with UC Davis, with Little Engine and with Benthic Creatures, fantasizing about having some sort of management position. Not that I really ever wanted one. I’ve always known that it would be way too much responsibility, and a level of technical and people skills that I don’t really have.

And yet, somehow, here I am, pretty much taking on the job of managing this transition from our department’s old platform to the new one. I hadn’t really planned on it working out this way, and I don’t think my boss was planning on it either. But apparently I’m the only one in the department with any sort of experience in doing a major platform upgrade like this — I was a small part of this sort of thing about three years ago, but I guess I did learn a few things. I find myself talking to the developers and coordinating with them on pieces of our software as they go up to the new production server; I talk to the network engineer to make sure our new servers are set for the task; I talk to the course developers to make sure the content is up to snuff; and I talk to the DBA to make sure the database is ready to go. And somehow it’s my job to coordinate all of these things and make it all happen. I think my boss likes it because I have been making recommendations that he knows make sense (because he’s been planning on some of them himself). I want a middle tier server for QA purposes, for example. I want a better process for coordinating software and content changes. And so on.

And moving the website to a new platform is just one step of the process. In a couple of weeks we’re going to change our entire database, and that will probably entail another round of coding changes, server setups, and so on. And I already have in mind a set of recommendations for changing the QA process for the next time around. But all in all, the weird thing is that I never planned on this. When I took this temp job, I had figured on yet another clerical job, where I’d take minutes at meetings and make appointments for managers. I wasn’t expecting something like this. And I’m not at all qualified for this job; if I had to apply for it, there’s no way I’d get it.

Life is weird.

Anyway, for library school, I’m now taking a class in resources for children ages 6 to 12. Part of the point of this class is learning how to write good book reviews which will server as solid purchasing recommendations for the children’s section of a library; and at this point I’ve read something like two dozen books for children. Because I’ve sped through them all so quickly, I haven’t bothered updating my library with the books as I read them, though I’m building a readers’ advisory notebook as part of this class — and when I’m done with that (which will end up being a pre-alpha version of Lucien), I’ll ost the URL publically for the world to peruse. For now, I’d recommend a few titles for your perusal:

The Ashwater Experiment
by Amy Goldman Koss: A neat story about a girl who decides that she really is the only real human being in the world, but who gradually learns that other people are real and not just stock characters in the drama of her life. A good book about loneliness, friendship, and saying goodbye.



The Giver
by Lois Lowry: A young boy takes on the most important role in his futuristic community: the Receiver of Memories. This book has been controversial for its examination of ethics and some issues that could be tough for younger children to come to terms with. While it may be challenging for some readers because of its philosophical bent, it certainly is not inappropriate for them.



by Lois Sachar: Against an almost surreal backdrop involving a bizarre penitentiary for boys and a complex history, a young boy comes to terms with himself and with his family’s past. Highly recommended.




This weekend Jennifer and I will be toting many, many pounds of dirt to fill up the conversation pit that we built a couple of weeks ago. For some strange reason, I’m not actually looking forward to this task all that much. Oh, sure, it will be nice to have it finished so we can plant things in the planter, but the idea of lugging many wheelbarrows full of dirt in the sun… strangely, that doesn’t hold a lot of appeal to me.

So much for the dirt from the conversation pit. Okay, it wasn’t that clever a title after all.

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