This Is What I Do

Dashboard Sketches

I both live for and dread the beginning of a project.

It’s my favorite part because I get to do what I do best: arrange data into meaningful and useful tools for end users. It’s my least favorite because I rarely feel like I’m going into the design phase with enough information about the process I’m supposed to be improving. What will this tool be used for, and by whom? How do they do it now?

I’ve been trying to expand my skills in data visualization and analysis lately, so this project I’m working on now is more frustrating to me than usual. First, I’ve finally realized that the way our development process works is not conducive to properly sitting with the data like actual dataviz people do — but, to be fair, I’m not actually in data visualization. I’m in the Data Warehouse, and I design dashboards. I’m not making infographics for the Wall Street Journal; I’m making enterprise dashboards for my company.

(And, no, they’re not the NCC-1701-D type, either. Enterprise just means company-wide in this context.)

Anyway.

I guess one of the most frustrating things is that I’m learning all about these visualization and dashboarding tools that other companies use, but we don’t. I’ve learned to bend SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to my will as much as I can, but it’s still not a dashboarding or data exploration tool. It’s for reporting, period.

They say that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To me, that’s true, to an extent… except I’m also trying to figure out non-standard ways to wield the hammer.

There’s also the small issue of the reporting audience. I could suggest a bullet graph, maybe even get the stakeholders to agree to it… but unless it was accompanied with text on how to interpret it, I’m not sure it would fly. I’m supposed to be creating visuals that help people do their jobs better, and in my mind, that’s best served by providing (and enhancing) visualizations they’re already familiar with… even if an unfamiliar one would be more efficient.

It’s such a delicate balance.

So, yeah. I love this part… and I hate this part.

I Know I’m Tall, But…

I look ridiculous in this shirt.

The product photo on the left is straight from the Wish app, which lets consumers buy ultra-cheap goods from China.

On the right, Yours Truly, at 5’9″, seriously wondering a) if this is even the same shirt that’s pictured, and b) if so, how short is this model?! I bought an XL (I wear a Large in U.S. sizes), and while it almost fits in the shoulders, it is comically short on my long torso.

I’ve contacted the seller via the Wish app to request a refund. I successfully was refunded by another seller the last time I bought something that didn’t fit, so I have high hopes. I only paid $5.70 + $3 shipping, though, so even if they decided not to refund my money, it wouldn’t break me.

So far, I’ve returned two out of the three items of clothing I’ve bought on Wish. I think I’ve learned my lesson: stick to knock-off Pokemon tchotchkes and other non-clothing purchases.

Hat tip to my bestie Amy for letting me know about this app! You evil ho.

I Wore This Shirt When I Was Ten

Riverview Gators, 1986-87

This is my elementary school t-shirt from the 1986-1987 school year. I was in fifth grade when I got it; in the photo above, I’m age 41 and wearing it again.

I remember I was so mad when Memaw bleached it and the collar and sleeve rings went from dark blue to brown. I also remember that it’s in such good shape because it didn’t fit me long afterward. (Puberty was not kind; I gained some 20 pounds over the course of my seventh grade year, and another 20 in eighth grade.)

A few days ago, I decided to revisit my box of old t-shirts that I’m saving for themed quilts (or just because). I discovered that I’m almost ready to order a Totoro-themed quilt or a rock-band-themed quilt, I’ve got a ways to go for Connor’s superhero-themed quilt… and I discovered that this shirt from 5th grade I’d been saving is a size large.

So I tried it on. And it fit.

Mind. Blown.

So, even when I’m feeling down for having recently regained ten pounds of the 80 pounds I’d lost, I still have this: I can wear a shirt I wore on a Gifted class field trip to Cape Canaveral when I was ten.

Garden Planning

Hobonichi Techo page

It’s quite possible that I’m trying to make my vegetable garden a smidge too crowded this year, even with the expansion from rounded to rectangle.

Im going to see if cucumbers will climb some twine supports up our decorative (read: nonfunctional) lamppost, and the zucchini will be growing up some sort of teepee or lean-to with twine supports. I bought spiral stakes for my tomatoes and eggplants this year, so that should keep crazy vining craziness in check. I may have too many varieties of basil… but I invariably lose a plant or two at some point, so I consider it insurance. (Plus, I’m planning to plant a few extras in containers, just in case.)

My son and I planted some carrots today: Bolero and Nelson. One is an early variety, and the other takes longer to mature. I’m planning to plant in shifts, so we have a longer harvest.

Some plants, like the paprika peppers, will go in the front garden (aka the cottage garden). Others will go in containers to be placed in various sunny spots where I won’t forget to water them regularly.

Here we go…

Veggie Garden Prepped and Ready

Veggie Garden before and after

This is the before and after of my modest vegetable garden plot. What was once a bare spot where a hydrangea and some annuals grew long ago has expanded over the past few years — and will likely continue to expand over time.

I had intended to get a couple bags of compost from the garden center of some box store to mix in with my soil, but it’s too late for that now. I should have already planted my carrots; instead, Connor and I will be sowing them tomorrow.

It’s been a chilly and wet May here in NW Ohio, and I’m not sure when Planting Weekend will be, but I’m glad to have the garden ready to go whenever I’m confident that we’ve seen the last frost.

Tonight’s proud parent moment: my son (age 5) asked to watch @altonbrown Good Eats for his evening TV show. “Bowl O’ Bayou” was a winner!

This is what #MayThe4th means to me.
(From my personal library)

Three books on the Kent State shootings

Saw a Michigan license plate today that read IAM4OSU. Wonder how often their car has gotten keyed?