Friday, June 4, 2010

#0040 Cleaning Bookmarks

Playful critters at the Googleplex.
Where did I leave my cat?

Image via Wikipedia
Today being Friday,
it's sort of a whimsical day.  I started it around 5AM, but then went back to bed for a long relaxing nap followed by a long relaxing breakfast with reruns of The West Wing.  Then after a look at my garden to see if water is in demand (it wasn't) I headed down down down down to the office.  Please follow along, because this is a sort of process story that ends up with something relevant.  At least I hope so, but can't be sure because the end hasn't been written yet.  (Are we seeing the whimsy yet?)

 If I'm at all like most people, the first thing we do is check our email messages.  Nothing of interest.   (Sigh.  I was hoping to hear from a friend.)

A glance over my open Firefox tabs reminded me I was reading an article before rushing out to dinner last night at our favorite halal Thai restaurant in North Hollywood, Barn Rau.  The article, a blog published anonymously called VFX Soldier, advocates vfx artists need to take a stand and work for better working conditions in the industry.  This led me to an article about
changes in the domestic U.S. vfx industry.  Another link pressed, opening an article about the VFX Town Hall Meeting, which led me to Lee Stranaham's web site, which led me to his open letter to James Cameron, which led, which led, which led.... and eventually boredom set in.  Or rather, I was tired of reading and thought maybe it was time to speak.

It was at this point I decided it was time for me to add my two cents to the discussions championed in the blogs published by Scott Squires (VFX Corner), Lee Stranaham, and VFX Soldier.  Since some of this touches on issues previously touched on in this blog in my CG Labor Issues Series and in myPipeline Series article, Better Pipelines with Pros.  These can be found under the label VFX Industry Issues.

My readers may rightly ask, where are the links?  I want to read these articles too!  Well, as it turns out, I realized that there were two obstacles before jumping into the discussion with both feet:
  1. Time.  I have an appointment coming and I want this blog out today.  
  2. Mental Clutter:  I need to organize my thoughts and 
  3. Digital Clutter-  I was working on a Mac and bookmarking there.  But I write my blog from my PC and keep relevant material there.  
(Oops-- that's three obstacles, well it is whimsical Friday.)

It was at this point I determined I need to clean and organize my bookmarks, so my PC and Mac can see the same links.   That's when I decided I should write this blog, because there's something that needs saying.

Cleaning Bookmarks may seem really boring.  It is.  But the real issue here is about clutter.  In our lives and jobs we get surrounded by clutter.  Physical clutter, like the unopened mail on our desks and last week's receipts and yesterday's snack bowl.  Ancient clutter like machine parts and old disk drives and manuals and dust covered tapes and CD's and DVD's in the closet.  Digital clutter like my bookmarks and data archives and workspaces.  And Mental clutter, like my partly organized thoughts on the VFX industry trends.

There's another kind of clutter we CG supervisors, producers and managers have to contend with: Human clutter.  Now that may sound harsh, but there it is.  Sometimes, especially in big organizations, we get some people that don't quite fit in, don't quite measure up, don't quite help the company or department succeed.  At the same time, they don't really screw up, they do get their work done, and they are present and part of the team.  They're people who don't move us forward much and don't hold us back too much.  The question is, do we keep these people, or are they clutter?

I'm not one to toss people out cavalierly.  I am of the opinion that people have an intrinsic value that we cannot always see.  Yet these middle people, the one's who are neither outstandingly good nor obviously bad at their jobs, do pose a problem.  The question is, what to do?

At some companies, the answer is lay them off.  After the obviously bad people are sent packing, these middle workers move to the top of the layoff list when downsizing occurs after big projects.

I admit, some of these people may be beyond our help, but we should make an effort. it's part of our job, it's part of being a person.  When I was in India at Reliance Media Works, the head of production Ara A. told me that they believe in giving people three chances.  Their attitude is that people are valuable (interesting idea, and consider, it's India, where labor is cheap and plentiful, or so I've heard) and worth developing.  

A week ago I cleaned out my desk.  It was very cluttered, had been that way since I set-up the office months ago in the new house, and was not functional.  To my delight I discovered a small thing: spare parts for my cellphone wireless earpiece.  The joy!  I had lost one part and another was broken.  I was pleased and surprised.

Today is Whimsical Friday,  which also means it's an Unclutter Friday. We all need to take a moment now and then and unclutter our workspaces, our libraries, our minds and perhaps even our crews.  Take a moment and think about how you might better organize your staff and better train them.  Clean your desk, and take a long, quiet working walk and unclutter your mind.   You may be pleased and surprised at what you discover.

Well, it's time to get ready for my appointment and water the plants.  I guess I'll just procrastinate a little on those bookmarks.  But I did get to write this blog, which got some of the clutter off my brain.  A much better task, let me tell you. 

Ahh, Whimsical Friday!

Inquisitive kitten
Here Kitty!
Image via Wikipedia

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The 3D-Freelancer said...

Your post has inspired me to tackle the mountain of paper sitting on my desk today after months of procrastination! Thanks!