Category Archives: Work
On Monday, I mentioned that I would be doing a program for the museum. Not all went according to plan. While everyone who provided feedback said that they loved the content and thought it was fascinating, there were some technical issues. I set up the program in the museum’s entry area; however, the lighting was not as good as I had hoped it would be. I thought the natural lighting provided by the windows would provide nice lighting. Sadly, it was too bright outside, and the backlighting caused the picture to be poorer than it should have been. The room also has a concrete floor which caused an echo effect that I had not anticipated. It’s an excellent place for receptions but not for recording programs live.
I had set up to do the program in a talk show discussion format with my program partner. Because we were doing this with a webcam and external microphone hooked up to a laptop, we could only have one microphone. I had an omnidirectional microphone that should have picked up both of our voices, but my program partner kept turning and looking at the camera instead of at me, causing his voice to go in and out throughout the program. Considering the format, it would have looked more natural if he had talked to me instead of the camera. However, he tends to like to show how much he knows and hear the sound of his own voice. I thought I could control this aspect of his personality, and while I did get some discussion of my own in, he did most of the talking.
I also had my director running the webinar’s technical aspects because he assured me he could handle it and knew what he was doing. This was a fatal mistake. My director always thinks he knows what he is doing but rarely does. So, when it came time to share a clip during the program, he couldn’t seem to get it to work. He shared the screen but couldn’t get the audio to work. He also appears to have done something that caused the program we were using to record only the audio (along with the minute or so of silent screen sharing) but did not save the video. This is an issue because several people had contacted me before the webinar to tell me that they would be unable to attend live and wondered if it would be available afterward. I had assured them it would be, but now I have to contact them again and tell them that the video is not available.
Because the video is not available, I cannot watch it and learn from the mistakes made. On Monday, when I am back at the museum, my director and I will practice in another area of the museum to check lighting issues and sound quality and try to figure out what went wrong with the webinar’s recording. We are doing all of this because we have the second part of this program at the end of the month. I want things to go better for the second one. I always feel terrible when things don’t go as I want them to go, and I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my public programs for the museum. It was the same when I used to be the drama club advisor at my old school. I needed everything to go smoothly, but unexpected things always happen.
With all of that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk show-style format and most people who watched it enjoyed it as well. My program partner will be joining me for the second part as well, and I have some ideas on how to manage him better. I let him determine that we would conduct the discussion freestyle, but I plan to have a more structured outline for the second one. A more structured program will hopefully allow for an equal discussion between the two of us. I will also tell him that he needs to look at me so that the microphone can pick up his voice better. I also plan to set up in our conference room to allow for a more controlled lighting and sound environment. We have all of our live programs there and have not experienced the echoing or lighting problems we experienced in the other space. I hope I can figure out how to correct the issues we had.
I’m going to have a busy week. Today, I have a program for the museum that I am not only hosting, but I’m also one of the presenters. I’ve spent weeks preparing for this program. When I checked yesterday morning, 43 people had signed up for the program. We have presented some great programs, but we’ve never had more than 25 people attend one of our virtual programs. I’m excited and nervous, and I hope that even more will sign up before the program. I also really hope that it goes well, as I do with all programs, but the pressure is a little more since I am one of the two presenters.
Once the program is over, I then have a professional development webinar/panel discussion to attend virtually. One thing this pandemic has done is made professional development more accessible. A few organizations have been doing virtual webinars for a while, but most were not. Now, everyone is doing virtual professional development and conferences out of necessity. Just like my public programs at the museum, I prefer to attend these things in person. I want to see people and have a chance to meet them face to face and not over a webcam, but we do what we have to do. I have had the opportunity to attend more conferences and professional development because I don’t have to worry about travel expenses, but also besides interacting with people, I enjoy traveling. So to increase availability and convenience, organizations have had to sacrifice the perk of traveling to conferences.
Tuesday will be a relatively quiet day, but then Wednesday is possibly the busiest. The day starts with a staff meeting in the morning, followed immediately by a workshop. Hopefully, there is time for lunch before another meeting about an upcoming program for students. The museum is only open to students, faculty, and staff, and few people have come into the museum to see the current exhibit, which we spent months preparing. The exhibit opened just before the pandemic hit, and so few people have seen all of the hard work we put into it. So, we are planning a museum day to try and get students into the museum. We can only have 20 students at a time, and I hope we can get that many to come. I want to have some food for them, which they cannot regularly get while they have been quarantined on campus. I just haven’t figured out what the refreshments will be yet.
Thursday will be the most challenging. I am having a tooth pulled. This tooth has become abscessed several times, and it has had a root canal performed on it. My dentist believes it has a crack in it and will not get any better. It will continue to hurt; it will continue to become infected; it will continue to aggravate the trigeminal nerve in my face. While I would love to keep my tooth, the truth is that not much of the tooth is left after the root canal and the complications afterward. This tooth is likely the cause of the intense pain I have suffered from for the last five or six months. My dentist thinks that pulling this tooth will eliminate the problems with my trigeminal nerve, and my neurologist agrees.
While the tooth extraction is all I have going on Thursday, that should be enough. A tooth extraction is not something you recover from in a few hours. It will take at least 24 hours to return to any normalcy in eating, but it will take several weeks before it is healed enough to replace the tooth. While it is certainly not something I am looking forward to having done, I am looking forward to what we all hope the result will be.
Friday will be a day of rest after a busy week. Next week so far looks much more easygoing, though I will get my second COVID vaccine shot a week from Thursday. I am so excited that I will be fully vaccinated in just a few weeks and know that life returning to normal is on the horizon.
When this posts, I will likely be eating breakfast, then taking my shower, and getting ready for work. I don’t have a lot to say today. I don’t have a lot of work to do today. I just hope it will be a mostly headache free day, and I can do what I actually need to do at the museum. I need to work on a presentation for an upcoming program I will be doing with a colleague. I think it will be a fun program, but I need to do some prep work for it. Other than that, most of the work I need to do is stuff to get the program organized and ready to go. It’s in a week, so I really need to get going on it. I hope you all have a great week, and good Monday.
I’m back to going into the museum for part of the week. Mondays are my day to go into the museum each week. If I have a program to do, I go in on that day too, but mostly it’s only on Mondays. Usually, I am at the museum with my boss, and it’s just the two of us. Our schedules are only allowing two employees in the museum on any given day, which means we are most likely the only two people in the museum all day. We aren’t getting any visitors right now because we are only open to students, faculty, and staff. No one in the three groups seem to want to visit the museum right now.
Today, I will be the only one in the museum, as my boss has taken a vacation day. I have very little to do. I’ll open the museum at the correct times and lock the doors when I’m supposed to, but I do not expect to see any other people in the museum today. I have a few things to do, but nothing that couldn’t have been done at home. I’ll mostly sit at my computer all day, getting up every so often so I don’t get stiff. It should be a pretty mundane Monday.
Yesterday, I had to go to the museum to work for a few hours. It’s the first time since before Thanksgiving. I had a virtual program to host, and I wanted to do it from my office because my computer screen is much larger than my laptop so that I can see my notes for the introduction and any questions asked. Everything went well, and this morning I will post the recording to our Facebook page. I did not do it yesterday because it takes so long to upload anything from my home network.
We use GoToWebinar for our virtual programs, and afterward, it provides a lot of insights about the program. During the webinar, the organizer, me in this case, can see if people are paying attention or not. Even though attendees’ cameras are not turned on, I can see if the person is watching the webinar or doing other things on their computer because a ⚠️ appears by their name. What was interesting/infuriating is that our museum director had a ⚠️ by his name the whole time. His interest score was a 50 out of 100.
I was so disappointed that he couldn’t take an hour out of his day to pay attention to our guest speaker. Our secretary refused to watch at all, which pissed me off. I have been working on this program for nearly two years. First, the speaker was out of the country. Then, the pandemic hit. Finally, we were able to get her to give the talk virtually. You’d think my coworkers would have paid attention and watched the program, mostly because it was an extremely interesting program.
As the author Rachel Naomi Remen said, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” I wish people were better at listening to others. I’ve always tried to listen and pay attention when it is important to do so, and usually even when it’s not that important.
The headache I have been suffering from for over a week seemed to improve on Saturday, with little pain throughout the day, but the pain was back on Sunday. When I woke this morning, the pain was as bad as before I saw the neurologist. It is evident that the nerve block was a complete failure, and the steroids don’t seem to be helping a lot either.
I have to work this morning to answer some urgent emails, send some information to program presenters, and work on some promotional material for another virtual program. If I can get all of this done this morning and I don’t feel better this afternoon, I will have to take the afternoon as sick leave. I hate to continue to take sick leave, but I find it increasingly hard to concentrate.
I spent most of the weekend mindlessly watching television, in particular, old Star Trek episodes from the various series: Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and Discovery. Star Trek has a way of calming me down and letting me forget my troubles for a little while. I did watch the Super Bowl last night, but I found it profoundly disappointing. The Bucs seemed to walk all over the Chiefs, the commercials were mediocre at best, and the halftime show was horrible.
I had never even heard of The Weekend. I can’t remember the last Super Bowl halftime show where I had no idea who the performer was. I had to look him up. Apparently, he’s a Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer. If they wanted a Canadian, there are so many outstanding Canadian acts. If they’d gotten Shawn Mendes, at least we would have had eye candy. Honestly, I don’t care much for Shawn’s music, but he is awfully damn cute and sexy.
Anyway, that’s all for now, but here’s a bonus of Shawn in his Calvin Klein underwear.
In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, the bath and beauty company Calgon produced some iconic advertisements. One of the commercials for Calgon bath powder from 1978 starts with woman considering all the hectic and stressful events in her life. She mentions traffic, her boss, a crying baby, and the dogs. Then she said “That does it! Calgon, take me away!” In another advertisement, a woman wearing a fluffy pink robe is seen in a chaotic home scenario. As tension rises, she utters the slogan “Calgon, take me away!” The next scene shows her relaxing in a bath in a quiet room.
I remember these commercials when I was a kid, and last night as I was thinking of all the aggravation of the day, the slogan came in my head, “Calgon, take me away!” Yesterday was was not exactly stressful, but it was aggravating. I had a virtual staff meeting that seemed to drone on forever. Then, my mother called which in itself is a little aggravating at times.
The most aggravating was dealing with my boss’s insecurities. Yesterday afternoon, I sent some promotional material for some upcoming public programs for the museum to my boss, and he sent them back commenting that he “made several grammatical and wording changes.” I wouldn’t have minded this too much except I knew these were perfect. I’d had an editor, my friend Susan, look over them before I sent them for his approval. Every time I send him something that just needs his quick approval, he makes stupid changes. He does this to all of us because he’s so insecure in his own abilities that he uses thins like this to exert his authority. It’s aggravating because: 1) I am far better educated than he is, 2) I used to teach English and grammar and 3) he has the worst grammar of anyone who works for the museum. So, yes, it pisses me off when he makes changes just so he can look like he’s doing something.
Furthermore, the university where I work is having a COVID outbreak because students broke quarantine, and now we are getting close to the threshold where the state says we will have to transition completely virtual learning for the semester. If that happens, we will have a huge budget shortfall, and we have been told before that if this happens, there will be layoffs. They are doing everything they can to keep all employees working. Our university president released a message last night saying that they believe the university has the situation under control. However, it’s not clear yet if in person classes will be able to begin next week or not.
Add to all of this, I need a vacation. I usually take a vacation or two each year to get away from the stress of life and work. However, the pandemic hasn’t allowed me to travel for over a year. I did not go home at Christmas and New Years, and I haven’t had any other trips. I’d love to head up to Montreal for a few days or down to Manhattan to see my friend Susan. Since I moved to Vermont, I have done more traveling than I have ever done previously in my life. Most of my traveling has been for work, but it was rarely all work and no play. I just want to get away somewhere. However, I don’t think a bubble bath is going to do it. I think we are all feeling this way, so “Calgon, take me away!”
I worked at the museum yesterday. IT had to install a new program on my work MacBook, which they should have done weeks ago when they had it to fix another problem, but our IT people are not the smartest group I’ve ever come across. Anyway, yesterday should be my last day working on campus until February. I will be working from home for the time being. A few weeks ago, the university sent out a directive that said if anyone goes out of state, even for a medical appointment, they would not be allowed to work on campus until after students return. Our students will return around mid-January but will be in quarantine for two weeks. During the quarantine period, no one but essential personnel will be allowed on campus, meaning only those who are there to take care of the students’ needs.
On Monday, I am going down to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire for my next set of Botox injections for my migraines. Because of this, I cannot return to campus until the student quarantine is over on February 1. The State of Vermont has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering Vermont from another state, but the state waives the 14-day quarantine if you leave for a medical procedure. The governor understands that a lot of Vermonters go to Dartmouth-Hitchcock for medical appointments. I am very glad that I don’t have to shut myself up in my apartment for 14 days and not be able to venture out for anything.
The Botox injections can’t come soon enough. This tooth that I have been having problems with has been causing me to have some pretty bad headaches. With the combination of the Botox injections on Monday and my dental appointment on Wednesday to finish dealing with this tooth, I hope this time next week I will be headache free again. Yesterday it was rough being at the museum because I had woken with a headache, and it never improved. I eventually just went to bed early last night.
With Vermont having a surge of COVID cases, we are under a new set of restrictions. My museum has once again closed to the public. Technically, we are open for appointment only, but no one all semester has requested an appointment. I don’t expect that to change between now and Wednesday when students leave for Thanksgiving and will not return before the Spring semester begins. Our little town has been pretty safe throughout the whole pandemic, but now we are at the epicenter of the outbreak. The larger towns around us have been reporting more and more cases each day.
Most of this week has been spent watching the virtual New England Museum Association (NEMA) Conference. It was supposed to be in Newport, RI, but that changed because of the pandemic. I had been looking forward to spending some time in Newport. I became fascinated with it watching A&E’s America’s Castles. Do any of you remember that show? I loved it. I’ve always wanted to see the famous “cottages”: The Breakers (Cornelius Vanderbilt II), Chateau-sur-Mer (the Wetmores), Miramar (the Wideners), Beechwood (the Astors), Marble House (Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt), Rough Point (Frederick William Vanderbilt), and The Elms (Edward Julius Berwind). I’m particularly interested in seeing Chateau-sur-Mer because I’ve done extensive research on the Wetmore family because of two paintings the museum owns that came from the mansion. Hopefully, the pandemic will be over by next November, and NEMA can hold their conference there in 2021.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Oral History Association conference virtually, and it was a good experience. I have not been able to say the same for NEMA. The sessions have been lackluster. The only session that I found interesting was titled “Coming Out and Inviting In: Case Studies Interpreting Queer History.” It centered around historic house museums and interpreting LGBTQ+ stories associated with the houses. I attended because I found it interesting, not because it had anything to do with my job.
One of the people presenting was from the Gibson House Museum in Boston. The museum was founded by Charles “Charlie” Hammond Gibson, Jr., a writer, a preservationist, a gay man, and the last resident of 137 Beacon Street. I had heard about this museum before and have always wanted to visit. They give a specialty tour called “Charlie Gibson’s Queer Boston,” which explores the Gibson House and the gay subculture of early-twentieth-century Boston through Charlie Gibson’s eyes. It looks like it would be a fascinating tour. Once this pandemic is over, I want to take a trip to Boston, especially to take this tour.
Thankfully, today is the last day of the conference. There is one more LGBTQ+ session which I will watch, but the education and programming session have all been disappointing. Then it will be back to working from home. I will be off the Monday after Thanksgiving for my birthday, and then two weeks after that, I go for my next Botox injections for my migraines. Since I have to drive into New Hampshire for the procedure, I will not be allowed back on campus until students are back in the spring, per our provost’s instructions. Even though it is just a few miles over the border, she was explicit that if we leave the state of Vermont for any reason, even for a medical procedure, we would not be allowed back on campus before the students return.