Friday, December 05, 2008

What's in your backpack?

My buddy Miranda Bennett apparently shares my life philosophy of "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing." She wanted to get more exercise so she took up backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. You go, girl.

Someone in the group she joined was helping her sort through her backpack and gave her the following observation, "Your gear is your fear." Apparently, it's an esoteric principle known to backpackers and essentially means that whatever you're afraid of will be reflected in what you overpack. So if you're afraid of getting lost, you might have four maps, two compasses, and a GPS. Afraid of being wet? Two ponchos, galoshes, and five changes of clothing.

Every now and then I get that old "fight or flight" reflex at work. I doubt if I'm unique in that. But I'm a technical writer, and no one is chasing me with a hatchet and there are no lions hungrily walking our halls. So I have to ask, "What am I afraid of?"

If that happens to you, look at your gear. Not now, it won't work. Wait until you have that adrenaline rush that says get the hell out or stand your ground swinging. When that happens, take a serious look at your gear, that is, the artifacts, books, tools, and other stuff you have surrounded yourself with. You could also check out the emotional baggage you like to haul around as well.

Keep what you need, put some of it away, and then walk your trail.

Thanks, Miranda!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The snarky technical writer

Who knew that Lewis Carroll and Henry Holiday understood the world of technical writing?

I don't know what more accurately describes our world, the flying pigs or the tormentors. Take the link below for a fun read.

Fit the Fifth

For a few moments I was special

Those not following national news, Georgia had the last contested seat in the Senate up for a run-off election. Well, to make a long story short, I GOT A CALL FROM BARAK OBAMA! That's right, the president-elect called me. The only problem was that I couldn't get a word in edgewise, he just talked and talked as if he wasn't listening to me.

Well, at least he called. I wonder if I need to put him on my holiday card list now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hey, Atlanta, let's do the math

Many technical communicators cannot afford to attend a conference every year, not because of the registration fees, but because of the associated travel and hotel costs (which typically exceed the price of the conference). The STC conference will be held in Atlanta in 2009, and for local good old boys and gals, this is a great opportunity to attend the premiere conference for technical communicators without having to cover the travel expenses.

If you are not already a member of STC or if you are wondering if you will renew, look at the additional savings you get if you attend the conference as a member:

Non-member Early Bird registration: $1095

Classic Membership: $175.
Member Early Bird registration: $795
Total cost: $970

By joining or renewing your membership, you save $125! And you get all the other benefits of STC membership.

I can't remember any other time when our profession has had so many exciting opportunities and challenges--this is the year to ramp up those professional skills and contacts. I hope every technical communicator comes to Atlanta for the conference, but we local professionals should take advantage of having the conference right here. Go to the STC Web site and join or renew your membership today.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Better me than Fido?

Every morning I see the following message on the body wash container in my shower: "Not tested on animals."

I'm glad that they didn't abuse animals to develop my soap, but on the other hand, it means I'm getting it before the dog does. I like that they don't do "experiments" on animals, but I also think that at the very end, right when the scientist is about to give it the "OK, Mike can use it" seal of approval, he would say, "You know, Fido here could use a bath. As long as I think this is safe enough for Mike, why not give the old pooch a scrub before signing off on this."

Truth is, Fido probably could use a bath.