Category Archives: Work

Just Another Monday

What do you do when it’s Monday, and you have no clue as to what you are going to do at work today, especially when you are working from home and you have to log your work hourly? I know, I shouldn’t complain because I have a job, I mostly like working from home, and I don’t have to go anywhere if I don’t want to. However, trying to find something to do all the time can be a bit exhausting too. I had this problem a lot when I was in the office, but since I’ve been home, I have actually been very productive, much more so than at the museum. I’ve created videos for virtual public programs. I’ve written several new curriculum guides. I’ve done a ton of research, endless webinars, virtual meetings, and even a class. The webinars are often quite boring and not all that informative. The meetings are all a waste of time. Working for a university makes things a little uncertain right now, so no one really knows what’s going on. The plan (and the “plan” has changed many times) is for students to come back to campus and take classes but the public won’t be allowed on campus. The museum can’t have public programs, we can only teach limited classes, the public can’t come to visit (meaning no tours either), and students can’t use us as a walkthrough to the library. What are we even going to be there for? I’m honestly scared the administration is going to figure this out and furlough us all, but they keep saying they are going to “keep the family together.” So, today is another day. I will probably do research most of the day. I can’t even watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on BBCAmerica because they are doing what looks like nature shows this week. I’m not sure what else to do. I’ve just about exhausted all of my projects.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about last night before I went to bed.


Busy Week

Over the weekend, I finished a four week online class that I was taking. It took up a lot of my time, but I refused to work on it outside of work hours. It was a class for work, so for four weeks that was mostly what I worked on from my home office.  Now that the class is over, I have to catch up on everything else I’ve needed to do over the past four weeks. So, it’s been a pretty busy week. I’m still behind. I have to work on some outlines for a book proposal; I made a video for a Fourth of July program that the museum will put on our Facebook page Saturday; and I’ve got a thousand other little administrative tasks and emails to read, write, and answer. At least it’s giving me something to do while I work from home. I have been busier working from home than I ever was when I was in the office. There, I spent most of my days trying to figure out what I needed to do next. At home, there are lots of webinars and projects to keep me busy. 

I’m probably busy because of a stupid decision made by my idiot boss. He’s a fairly nice guy, just stupid and being a museum director is way over his head. He wasn’t even very good at his previous job at the museum. When we started working from home, we were told by the administration that we had to keep a log of what we were working on to make sure we were actually working from home. My idiot boss submitted to his boss an hourly work log for us to fill out each day. That was not what his boss had in mind at first. I’m pretty sure the administration just wanted a weekly report of what we did, not a blow-by-blow, hour-by-hour report. He’s such a colossal suck up, and he does all these stupid overly complicated things to impress his superiors. He just needs to man up and concentrate on doing his job and not trying to impress his bosses. No other department is doing hourly work logs. We are the only ones keeping such minute logs, and we have to justify all 40 hours that we work each week.

I love my job, but damn, I could have listed five projects and been done with it. One quarter of the time, I just write down stuff that only took me an hour to do, and I put it down for 2-4 hours. I do this because some things don’t take a full hour to complete and I’m not going to give a minute-by-minute report. I’m not in any hurry to get back to the museum every day. I actually like working from home, and there is almost nothing that I have to do at the office, especially when classes are virtual and we cannot have any public programs. Anyway, I just keep plugging along.


A Quick Message

Some of you have emailed me about various things the last few days. I wanted to let you know that I will respond, but I have been very busy in the last few weeks. Also, I am adjusting to my new migraine medicine. My neurologist switched me from Emgality, which was helping a little but not enough, to Aimovig. The problem with switching medicines, is that it takes at least two months to begin to work. Because of that, I have been having increasingly more intense migraines as the new medicine takes effect. I’ve had some days when I’ve actually worked from bed and in a dark room. I’m hoping this will start to change, as I’ve been on Aimovig for over a month now. So please excuse the time it’s taking to email responses. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up soon.


Last Vacation Day

I’m using my last vacation day today. The new fiscal year starts on Monday, June 1, and we have to take our vacation time before then or lose it. I had seven days left at the start of the month, so along with Memorial Day, I have been able to be off work every Monday and Friday of May. Honestly, it didn’t do me much good since there is nowhere to go and nothing to do during the quarantine. I have enjoyed not having to come up with work to document and do on my off days. I sort of wish I could have gone on vacation somewhere or at least gone home to Alabama for a little bit of that time, but that wasn’t in the cards. Besides, Alabama is going crazy right now with reopening, and Central Alabama where my family lives is a bit of a hotspot for the spread of the virus. So, it’s better that I stay home in Vermont.
Therefore, I’ll spend today with Isabella. I can tell she likes me being home, because she always wants to be near me and keep an eye on me. She is a little slow to follow me though. It’s funny, if I’m in a room any length of time, she comes in the room too and takes a nap; when I leave and go into another room, she eventually comes in there about ten minutes later and again goes to sleep. However, she’s a bit of a light sleeper. She literally always has one eye on me if I move. So, she knows when I go into another room, and it seems to be just a delayed reaction when she follows me. Although it could be that she’s just lazy and wants to make sure I’m going to stay in the other room long enough to make it worth her while to follow me. Cats can be such funny little creatures. Yesterday afternoon, she decided a little after two o’clock that it was time for me to quit work, and she laid down so I couldn’t use the mouse for my computer. She can make it hard to work at times, but I had developed a headache anyway, so I took her advice and took a nap for the rest of my workday.


Public Programs during a Quarantine

I think most of you know by now that part of my job is to organize public programs for the museum. Considering that crowds in person are not an option, I am doing this virtually through Facebook. About two weeks ago, I pitched to the staff that we release a video program every other Wednesday. Everyone agreed, and I posted the first one last week. Like I said, I had originally pitched that we do these every other week, but my coworkers said we should do one each week and take turns presenting the programs. Therefore, one of my coworkers was supposed to do one this week but didn’t. That left me scrambling to get one finished by the end of yesterday. I had expected to leisurely be able to work on this video for at least two weeks. However, when my coworker decided she couldn’t do one this week because she didn’t feel up to it, I had to hurry and finish mine. 
I think it turned out really well. The first video had me on camera giving some introductory material, but I never could get the sound equalized with my other narration showing the artifacts. So in this video, I decided to have only my voice appear in the video and not my face. I don’t have a voice for radio, so the narration could be smoother in places, but overall, I think I did a pretty good job. I am particularly proud of the timing of pictures to coincide precisely with what I’m speaking about. All of that took a while, but I finally finished about 10 pm last night (I’ll make up for that extra time last night during today’s workday). It takes quite a while to upload to our Facebook account, so it might not actually publish until after midnight, but that’s the best I could do. I hope people actually enjoy it. I’d like for these videos to eventually make it on the museum’s website. Hopefully, one of my coworkers will actually do a video for next week, and I won’t have to scramble to do one.

Museums in a Pandemic

The traditional role of museums is to collect objects and materials of cultural and historical importance, preserve them, research them and present them to the public for the purpose of education and enjoyment. This mission becomes increasingly hard when the museum is not open to the public, and the people who work in the museum are working from home. Curators still have to go in and check the environment of the museum and check that the collection is safe, but for the most part I have not been the one going into the museum to do this. I have been in a few times to get things from my office, but I’ve rarely stayed over five to ten minutes.

The essential mission of the museum hasn’t changed, but the way we function has during this pandemic. We are unable to continue to collect artifacts during this pandemic, but we are able to continue to preserve the artifacts. We also can continue to research objects, which is one of the main things I have been doing from home. I have also been working on ways to present objects from the collection to the public virtually. As Curator of Education and Public Programs, it’s my job to find ways to present our collection and information to the public for education and enjoyment.

Today, I’ll be going to the museum to film a program to be added to our Facebook page. I hope it goes as planned. I have the script written, and I know what objects I’ll be presenting. I’m looking forward to playing with iMovie to edit what I film. Back when I was the drama club advisor at my former school, I filmed and edited the drama club productions. Back then I didn’t have a Mac, so I used a different program than iMovie, but the basics are the same.

Fingers crossed, everything goes well today. I know I won’t look great on camera because I need a haircut, but so does nearly everyone else. Honestly, I never look great on camera anyway. I’ve always taken bad pictures.


No Pajamas

Today, I can’t stay in my pajamas all day. I have to get up, shower, shave, and dress for the day. Yesterday, I  stayed in my pajamas, but today I can’t. I have a virtual staff meeting this morning. We will all be on webcam looking at each other. I know one of my coworkers will look at all of us and be a bit judgmental, though she won’t say it out loud, and another won’t be judgmental of me, but she’ll notice everything about our appearances. I really don’t have to dress up, but I need to be at least presentable. I’m not sure why I tell myself this. Our secretary is one of those very skinny people who can buy all kinds of cute clothes and even when she’s not trying to dress up, she always looks nice. My other two coworkers will likely be in sweatshirts and dressed extremely casual. I have never been one to go out in public not presentable. It was just the way I was raised. 
When you’re raised in the South, and I think it really happens all over the country, you see what some people will wear to Walmart. Some have on their pajamas or at least their house shoes. Women may have rollers in their hair. And let’s not even mention those people who should not be wearing a tank top or short shorts. Really, some people have no shame. I was always taught to be presentable. So even when I’m going to the Dollar General or just sitting at my desk on a videoconference, I feel the need to make myself presentable.
The fact is, most days I do get up and shower, though I might not shave. Who’s going to see me anyway? But some days, you just want to be lazy, stay in your pajamas, and be comfortable, especially when you’re working from home and won’t be seeing anyone.

My Three Rs

This is me (not literally, of course, but figuratively) after a long day of working from home. I have been spending my days mostly reading, researching, and writing (yes, I know writing starts with a W, but arithmetic starts with an A, and when you add in reading, it’s the classic three Rs), and reading, research, and writing are three things I love to do. 
I often don’t read a lot anymore because when I have a migraine, it makes reading almost impossible. I’ve never been a fast reader, and when you add in a migraine, my concentration is shot, and I end up reading the same thing over and over. However, I have really enjoyed reading some of my research books, especially Chasing Aphrodite which is about the illegal art dealings of the Getty Museum. Though, I think it’s a little exaggerated on the blame that is placed on the Getty’s former curator Marion True. True did buy stolen art on the black market (she readily admits it), but if she was able to find its origin, she actually returned it to the rightful owner (in most cases). She was also considered to be a major leader in museum ethics; however, the Getty administration let her take the fall and allowed for her to be disgraced and shunned from the profession.
I’ve also been researching several different topics, though most of it is concentrated on cultural preservation. This is a topic that is becoming increasingly dear to my heart. Some of my museum colleagues and myself are beginning a book on looting and cultural destruction throughout history. As I was doing my preliminary research for the class I plan to teach next spring, I found that the topic has never been written about and gathered into one book. There are scatterings of material here and there, but there is not one succinct collection of the history. 
With that in mind, I wrote a book proposal as a guide for my colleagues and I for what I hope we will turn into a book on the subject. I have also been writing some curriculum guides for my museum and have been creating some lectures to be used for classes that I will teach in the future. I love to write lectures; I always have. I love the reading and research that goes into it, and I love forming a cohesive lecture on a subject. My teaching practicum professor in graduate school once told me that you learn a lot more from teaching a subject than you ever will from a class, and it’s true. Not only do you need to know the core material, but you need to know more than just the basics. You have to know, or at least attempt to know, the answer to any possible questions. Of course, students will often stump you, and that’s when instead of bullshitting them, you acknowledge that they asked a good question and that you don’t know, but will get back to them. Then, you find the answer and in the process learn even more on the subject.
So that’s what I’ve been doing while working from home. How is everyone else doing during this trying time?

Week Two at Home

Some of my coworkers are not doing too well working from home. They are going stir crazy, especially one in particular who is ready to go back to work today.  Extroverts are having a hard time with working from home. I’m just happy I’m still one of the employed because millions of Americans are currently unemployed because of this pandemic. The numbers just keep growing of people with both the virus and the unemployed. Working from home is not too bad for me. I am an introvert, so being at a distance from everyone is not a problem. I do occasionally miss my coworkers. I also don’t like having to document my work. Since I began at the museum, I have been self sufficient and pretty much done things at my own pace and when I wanted to do them. Because of having to document what I do, and knowing it could be used against me if this pandemic lasts a long time, I am often scrambling for things to do, or at least document. While I can say I’m working on this and that (I’m more specific in my documentation), I have to produce stuff too, which can sometimes be difficult in my job. I can write lesson plans and lectures for classes, but unless somebody wants to use them, then it’s pointless. Also, it’s hard to schedule new programs when no one really knows how long this will last.
I also want to say, that I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the government bailout including places like museums. While we are doing our best to continue to operate virtually, at the heart of what we do are people. What’s the point in having over 16,000 objects and artifacts if we can’t share them with people? We are a people business but unlike restaurants, we can’t do take out. Our best work is done in person. So please understand and remember that museums and universities need help as well as any other business.

Reading

While I have paperwork and some webinars, I’m trying to do a lot of reading and research, mostly on cultural preservation in times of war. I will be teaching a class on the subject next spring, and I am also preparing some other types of trainings on the subject. I’m just trying my best to keep busy while working from home.
A letter went out from our university president yesterday stating that our jobs will be secure through May 1st, but after that they will re-evaluate the economics of the university and May be reassessing our positions. I’m hoping my boss, who’s not a very strong leader, has it in him to fight to keep us on if cuts are made. We have an endowment that I hope can be used to save us, if it comes down to money. It really sucks that the president is considering this because his last day is May 31st. If he does a massive layoff, which he hinted at, it will leave the new president with a big mess on his hands. 
I pray that we can keep on keeping on. How do you justify your job when you’re the museum educator and none of the professors are using you in the new online format? I also handle all the public programming, but if people can’t gather in one place, my job becomes moot. I’m worried the university will see me as nonessential. Therefore I have to find some projects to keep me busy while I’m at home during this time of crisis.