Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Data analysis shenanigans don't have quite the same appeal

For some reason, this week it really feels like Christmas vacation is over. I don't know what has kept me from this sad, sad realization until now, but whatever it was, it has abandoned me. Perhaps it is the fact that our client has finally provided the data that I've been supposed to be analyzing for the last three weeks, and I now have to perform the analysis...I just have three fewer weeks to do it. I spent all day today working on formulas to calculate retirement dates and project retirements into the future. Doesn't this look like fun?

=IF(OR(AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$7, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$7, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$7), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$7, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$8, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$8), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$11, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$11, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$11), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$11, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$12, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$12), AND(D3='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$C$11, H3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$D$13, J3>='Retirement Eligibility Input'!$E$13),), "Yes", "No")

After plugging away on those formulas all day, until Excel and I 'had a falling out," I packed up my laptop and swung by the awesome Banana Republic sale on the way home. I had heard good things, and I wasn't disappointed. I think I might wear my new shoes tomorrow :-)

My other big activity tonight was exploring the usefulness of del.icio.us. My project manager has been educating us on the value of social bookmarking, but tonight I finally had an epiphany about how to make it work for me. I decided it will be a great tool for providing resources to collegiate members on hazing, risk management, etc., so I spent the remainder of the evening searching and tagging a variety of articles on risk management topics.

Alright, it's late, and I'm tired, but I just wanted to mention that though I haven't been to the movies in forever, I finally saw Juno last weekend. I really enjoyed it. I thought Ellen Page's performance was just fabulous, and Michael Cera and Jason Bateman have special places in my heart.

Fave lines:

  • "This is one doodle that can't be undid, Homeskillet."
  • "I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"
  • "Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with. "

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Trust me, I'm certified

That's right folks. I passed my exam! I am beyond thrilled at this news. Now, I no longer need to feel guilty about free moments that are not spent getting cozy with my exam prep materials. More importantly, I can shower in peace, without quizzing myself on the various types of learning curves one might experience in a training program. (Though if anyone's got any burning questions about the meaning of an S-shaped learning curve, I'm your girl.)

Last weekend I did escape to Norfolk/Virginia Beach for a day to work with one of our chapters on nominating/elections issues. I had never been to that area, and I didn't quite know what to expect, but I still managed to be pleasantly surprised. In a flashback to my ELC days, I didn't eat anything all day while at the chapter event...so by the time I met a friend and her boyfriend for dinner, my 8am granola bar and Diet Coke were long gone. They had suggested a super fun tapas restaurant called Bardo, which did not disappoint. Thanks, Liss :-)

When planning last week's work travel around this little AXiDetour, I found a 6am flight to Jersey that seemed ideal. In actual practice, taking a 6am flight is a little rougher than it sounds. I actually rose at 3:30am (and I use the term "rose" lightly...it looked more like dazed stumbling for the first 30 minutes or so), so that I could return my rental car at the Norfolk airport. I am so thankful for my ability to sleep on planes, and I totally passed out on the flight to Newark. I was at work by 9:30 though, and it was a big day for our project team. We had a couple of bigwigs there to attend a meeting, and they took us out to dinner after work. Our client site is only about 20 minutes from some really cute Jersey Shore towns, so when we do escape for a work dinner, we have some pretty nice options, especially if you like seafood. Needless to say, Monday was a looong work day.

Rest of the week was study, study, study. I even took yesterday off for an all day last minute cram session. I looked pretty serious at the coffee shop down the street, with my six modules, laptop, flashcards, and practice tests spread out around me. This morning, I was up early to head to the testing center. I haven't taken a standardized test since the GRE nearly five years ago (!!!) but it was pretty much as I remembered. I was surprised though, when they made me remove my scarf before I could take the test. It wasn't a winter scarf....definitely a fashion accessory, but I was instructed to remove it. I guess there was some concern that it might aid me during the exam in some way (?). What an absurd thought.

While it's true that the scarf and I probably had about an equal chance of getting some of those questions right, I certainly wasn't going to defer to it. I am a certified strategic HR professional, after all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

This is for you, Roomie.

And I don't think it's gonna be as much fun as you thought it would be.

Flashcard Question #1: Name the healthplan where benefits are reduced for employees eligible for Medicare; Medicare becomes the primary provider. Ready. Go.

Or here's another good one.

Flashcard Question #2: What's the term for the combined knowledge, skills, and experience of a company's employees?

In other news, this weekend is severely truncated by the need for studying and some AXiD travel to Southern Virginia on Sunday, though a friend and I did take time to cook a fabulous dinner last night. My roommate came home during the dinner prep, and she was shocked to see me in the kitchen, especially in close proximity to raw meat. It's true that I really don't cook very often, partially because when I do, it's pretty hit or miss. Or maybe it's just that the bad experiences just seem to stand out more.

Like the time I tried to make falafel in graduate school...I'm still not sure what possessed me to even try that. I do recall, though, that our apartment smelled like feet for at least a week. And then there was the infamous lemon chicken pasta night; I thought zesting an entire lemon and putting it into a pasta dish meant to serve four seemed a little wrong, but I really wanted to follow the recipe to the letter. ROE still won't let me live that one down, and to be fair, it was pretty bad. Not that long ago there was the night that my roommate and I tried to host dinner (with an Asian menu) for several friends, and pretty much my only responsibility was the rice. I gave it my best shot, but after I burned the first couple of inches of rice at the bottom of the pot, what really saved the day was the phone call to my friend Jonnay, to ask him to pick some up from the Chinese restaurant next door on his way over.

So, who's coming over for dinner? :p

Alrighty, time to go back to studying for real.

Oh and answers. "Medicare carve-out" and "Human Capital"...but I'm sure you totally knew that.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I am PRO crastination

Studying for this exam is reallllly getting on my nerves. As much as I know that I need every day between now and the 19th to prepare, I will be quite happy when it has come and gone. In the meantime, if anyone wants to hang out and do some HR flashcards, I've got a super fun set of 'em :-p

Of course, I did manage to take the last few days to hang out in Manhattan with some girlfriends. We had a great time in the city...and managed to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Highlights included:
  1. Afternoon tea at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon, most specifically the scones at said afternoon tea. Sigh. They were heaven.
  2. Yummy yummy dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant (with an interesting sense of dining decor) right around the corner from our hotel.
  3. Seeing the A Chorus Line revival. Tits!
  4. Seeing the big tree and animated holiday windows at Rockefeller Center.
  5. Lots of girly gossip and catching up with Rouncifer, Hoolian, and the one without a nickname :p

As I didn't bring a camera with me, I don't have any pics to share at the moment. Maybe later.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I am totally loving this...

It is such an amazing feeling of connectedness when you stumble upon someone or something that expresses your thoughts better than you ever have. This is how I am feeling about Regina Spektor's album Begin to Hope. The whole album is seriously awesome...and "Fidelity" takes my breath away a little bit.

I never loved nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting my heart truly
I got lost in the sounds...