Category Archives: work

The Right Amount of Stress

It is hard to know in a drought how much supplemental water for the vegetable garden is too much, and how much is too  little.  We err on the side of overindulgence. Our recent water bill is testimony to our generosity.  I worry that our pole beans, full and tall on their poles, have yet to produce flowers due to our over watering and not allowing them to feel stress.  I worry our peppers are responding the same way, with very few fruits as yet. Here is a photo of the pole beans with potato plants in the foreground.

Babies born to diabetic mothers often have underdeveloped lungs due to  the  glucose-rich uterine environment  which lacks the normal “stress” of less sweet amniotic fluid. Children who have few expectations don’t fare as well as their peers who have expectations.

It has been stressful at my work due to difficulty hiring staff. I can’t believe that the stress is doing me any good.

I think that a  little bit of stress is necessary for all good development, be it for plants or people.  The trick is discerning the right balance.  Oh that we could thrive without stress!

What do you consider the good stress in your life? The not so good stress? How do you find a balance?

Work & Fun

Today we had summer fun at work.  Out on the big patio, all the tools and t-shirts were ready for tie dying so we just wrapped up our shirts and squirted away.  And I got a temporary tattoo (logo for our summer program).  None of this has anything to do with my actual job, but it was fun and made the day go by a little faster.

What activity makes your work go faster?


Photos and Pizza

A little while ago, I got an email from Jacque. She needed a “decent, professional photo” for a guest post she had submitted to a therapy blog.

Now I don’t think of myself as a “people photographer” but I thought that I could do an okay job. I have no studio lights or flash, much less a studio, and Jacque didn’t want a studio photo anyway, so we arranged to meet in her backyard.

I consulted with Steve, the photography expert in our baboon community, and he gave me some tips and suggestions, several of which confirmed things I had learned through photography classes. I made a list, using Steve’s tips and my own ideas:

  • Shoot in burst mode (in order to capture fleeting expressions)
  • Background should be contrasting, dark, and uninteresting
  • Jacque should be far enough away from background so that it is out of focus
  • Subject does not have to smile – she can look thoughtful, serious, intelligent
  • Subject should be in the shade, never the sun
  • Bring a stepstool since I am short and Jacque is not and a portrait pointing up at the face is not very flattering
  • Focus on the EYES
  • Meter the brightest part of the face and then set f/stop and shutter manually so there are not blown out highlights
  • In each new area where I shoot, make the first shot be of a gray card so I can easily get the white balance perfect

When I woke up the morning of our “date,” I was thrilled to see that it was an overcast day. Bright sunshine is the enemy of good outdoor portraits and a cloudy day would make it easier to get a good shot.

When I shot the portraits, I made a few mistakes.There were some stray rays of sunshine (that I hadn’t noticed while shooting)  on her neck in some of them that wrecked an otherwise good picture. I had her too close to the background on some shots, so there were distracting details behind her. But I ended up with enough good shots for her to choose one with which she was happy. And I enjoyed the process, which mostly had to do with how easygoing and nice Jacque is and a little with the realization that I that I could do this.

A week later, Jacque treated me to lunch at Black Sheep Pizza. We ordered the Oyster Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella, Rosemary & Garlic Pizza and, man, was that good. Even better was a chance to sit and talk. I feel that I had the better part of the deal: I got to shoot pictures of a beautiful person and then enjoy a meal with her.

When have you done a favor for somebody and felt that you benefited more than the person you helped?

Cleaning the Tool Bench

My father brought all his remaining tools with him when he moved in with us the last five months of his life.   He gave lots away before he left Luverne, and took pride in how he arranged and organized his tools in his new home in North Dakota.

Since his death, we haven’t kept the tool bench as neat as Dad would want it. To be honest, it has been a disgrace for a couple of years, and Husband decided that today was the day to straighten it up.  The feature photo is a before picture. Dad didn’t care that he had duplicates of many of his tools, and we just keep them the way he displayed them.


As you can see from the photo, we will never need to purchase a socket set for the rest of our lives.

The coffee containers are full of drill bits, screws, nails, wall anchors, sand paper, garden staples, utility knives, nuts, bolts, washers, holders to use on the peg board, and just about anything anyone could need at a tool bench.

I am glad Husband took the initiative to get this done. I hope we can keep it this way for a while.

It is the weekend. What would your parents want you to accomplish before Monday?



Regulatory Boards

I received a letter from the governor last week informing me that I had been appointed to a state regulatory board involving my profession. I feel quite honored by the appointment.   I hope I can do a good job.

The first thing I had to do was find a notary and swear  in front of them that I promised to uphold the constitutions of both the US and my State.  The notary happened to be one of my support staff at work, and she was pretty amused by the whole episode. (I have a Canadian friend who did an internship in Texas, and they had to figure out how she could be allowed to participate in the program without swearing allegiance to the State of Texas. I think they got the Canadian Consul involved to negotiate that one.)  I also had to disclose all the investments and businesses I have (which amount to none) that could result in a conflict of interest or could be impacted by legislative action.  (Sound familiar, Mr Trump?)

The next thing I had to do was register for a one day workshop for people on regulatory boards to learn how such boards operate and the correct procedures to use. It is refreshing to know that people are still being taught the proper way government should operate.  I don’t suppose it will be a real exciting workshop, but I will be there with newbies from the Barley Council and the Board of Optometry, and they might be a lot of fun.

What would you like to regulate?

A Garden without Godzilla

Things have been pretty stressful for me here, especially at work, as several people who I work closely with have taken up offers on job buyouts from the State.  Loss is not easy.

The recent post by VS about Godzilla made me think back on our recent visit to the Japanese Gardens in Portland. It is a pretty serene place.


I find it helpful to look back on these photos and remember the quiet, the beauty, and the peace.

What helps you find serenity when you are stressed?

Meaningless Employment

Today’s post comes from Bill.

I was cleaning out some old files the other day and I came across some television scripts I wrote in 1996 for K-Tel (remember K-Tel?).

When I decided to go freelance rather than look for another full-time job, one of the first assignments I picked up was writing for K-Tel. The voice and the format were already established, so all I had to do, really, was supply persuasive words. Most of the ads I wrote were for music collections. The offer was only slightly dubious. “The Greatest Hits of the Sixties Collection”, for example, was dominated by one-hit wonders. They were good, popular songs but they were Greatest Hits only if you could somehow pretend the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and any number of blockbuster bands never existed.

That’s not the strangest job I’ve had but it struck me then and strikes me still as an inauspicious launch to my freelance endeavor (I still can’t quite call it a career). It’s taken many twists and turns in the years since and I’ve worn many hats, metaphorically speaking.

Many of the Baboons have made reference at one time or another to jobs they’ve had—unlikely jobs, challenging jobs, absurd jobs. I’ll bet, though, that you still have job experiences you haven’t shared with us. It could be something that lasted only a day or two. The more peculiar the better. Share, please.

What have you done (or tried to do) for money?