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Barbara Fritchman Thompson
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Barbara Fritchman Thompson Diary

Week of 5 July 2004

Latest Update: Sunday, 11 July 2004 15:32

Monday, 5 July 2004

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Very busy day. Due to the partial flood yesterday I had to clean up the basement, AGAIN. The area that flooded was the one I did not do last weekend where we have boxes and other stuff stacked. It was behind the AC unit and then run along the wall behind the finished area. I had plans to work on some other things today but yesterday morning when I quickly moved everything out of the water I just threw it all in the cleaned up area. Thus, my plans for today got rearranged a little. 

This morning I made a quick run out to Wal-Mart and Eckerd's before things got too crowded. Back home I washed both vehicles. I am not sure when the last time we washed the white truck but I had to scrub not wash it to get the grime off.

While I was cooling down from that project, yes it has turned very hot, I came upstairs to go over my files to see what could be archived.  I then decided to take the dogs for a quick walk. When we walked past Mimi's house Emma was at the door. I took the dogs around to the back just as Steve as raising the garage door. He brought Emma down around to play while we talked. He was waiting on Mimi to get back from the store.

By the time we finished up our visit it was lunch time. After lunch, I tackled the downstairs. I broke down all the boxes that got wet plus some others we not longer needed  creating a large pile of card board. After getting all that stuff organized I had three boxes for Goodwill, three very large bags of trash, and about twenty or so flattened boxes of assorted sizes. It was way too much to put out for the recycling so instead I loaded it all in the car and took it up to the recycling bin behind the Shell station. I dropped the trash off at the dumpster at the library then came back home, loaded up the Goodwill and took it over to the trailer just across the street from the gym.

It was well after 2:30 by this time. Back home, I left a few small things that need to be done in the rest of the downstairs and came upstairs to do a quick vacuum through the house before jumping in the shower. 

As I mentioned, it has turned summer time hot. Between the temperatures of 89 to 91 and the humidity it seems to be sweltering when you are outside doing anything. I cooled off and rested after my shower at my desk checking e-mails. For dinner I cut up some yellow and zucchini squash mom gave me, a leftover red potato I had boiled for dinner the other night, and a piece of the leftover grilled chicken from yesterday, poured some olive oil in a pan and threw it all in to cook. Boy did it turn out delicious, just the right thing to eat on a hot, summer evening. 

I need to pay some bills and do a few other things here at my desk before spending the remainder of the evening reading. 

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Tuesday, 6 July 2004

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Hot and humid. With temperatures in the low 90's plus the humidity it will feel close to 100 degrees today. 

I finished up the Tim Myers light house mystery last night. Tim's book are short, light reading but enjoyable. Not sure what I will pick up next.

We are getting ready to head over to Paul and Mary's for dinner. 

 

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Wednesday, 7 July 2004

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While we were visiting Paul and Mary last night I happen to pick up a copy of a book Mary had lying on the chair, Big Honkin' Zits : A Zits Treasury. Our local newspaper started carrying the Zits comic a couple of years ago. Mary let me borrow it so I am reading it. The writers of Zits have been compared in quality, satire, and humor to Watterson's  Calvin and Hobbs. 

I finally made it to the gym tonight for Body Pump. I have started walking on my lunch break so the evenings I miss making it to the gym are not as crucial as they were. I eat my lunch early, then break my walk up into two fifteen minute jaunts. I do the first one at lunch then the second one later in the afternoon to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. It was hot again today although there was a wonderful breeze. When it is too hot or bad weather I can do laps in the parking deck under shelter. When the weather is nice I go around the building or walk several blocks up and back around.

Not much else in the way of news. The other person I work with who does tickets has been out of vacation this week. Fortunately, so have a lot of the firm attorneys, which means not very many changes have been added to the database this week keeping the ticket count down to around 250 a day. I can almost handle that many by myself.

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Thursday, 8 July 2004

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Hot and humid again this afternoon. When I left work I hit a rain shower that lasted about two miles up Reynolda Road. When I turned off Reynolda to go to the library for a Friends meeting the rain abruptly stopped. 

One of my readers inquired about my reference to "tickets" I keep mentioning. The Firm has a database, InterAction, a Relationship Intelligence database. It is called CRM which runs on a web client. It allows us to search firm clients and businesses for contacts information, financial, etc. It also allows reports to be build based on a wide variety of criteria for use in marketing, PR, etc by the Firm. Our Firm basically goes after large business, health, and other types of clients. The database also includes links to corporate web sites. finance reports, etc.

What I and two other's do with this database is control the information that gets added to the web client. When a Firm employee adds contacts to their Outlook the information is synchronized with our database server. These changes generate "tickets' that are very much like inbox e-mails. We work in the Windows client of the software.

For example, I work with a client, John Smith, with XYZ Corporation. I add his address, phone number, etc to my Outlook which then gets sent to the database. Before it can be added to the database it comes through as a "ticket". Basically it is a half screen showing the information currently in the database and differences in what is being added if the contact is already in the database. Each part of the information generates a ticket: name, address, phone, web address, etc. These change tickets  check for duplicates and keep wrong information from being added or changed on a client or company. A ticket lets us know to look at the information for various reasons: name spelled wrong, address different, etc. Very often, one attorney knows a client has changed companies or a company has moved, changed names, etc. We research the information via the web to verify as much as possible what is correct. Myself and the other person who does tickets are assigned part of the alphabet. That way we work on the same companies all the time and become familiar with the information. We also pretty much see the same contacts that are duplicates that way and know if any recent changes have been made. 

Every single addition or deletion that goes into the database must first be examined by us. We then approve or reject the ticket before the information is actually allowed to go into the database. Contacts added that are new to the database come in as a review to be looked at and formatted. Very often we have to e-mail the firm person that knows the client or company to verify conflicting information.

When you sit down at your computer and check your inbox for e-mail, that is essentially what I do all day. We get tickets coming in constantly as contacts are added. The server synchronizes database about every twenty minutes with the Window's client where we control the changes. When we get a deluge, like 900 tickets, a new attorney has been hired and dumped all their contacts into the database. Also, when the product was first rolled out not all attorneys added their contacts. Many of them are just now adding their contacts now that they see the value of being able to keep on top of clients and company changes.

When we are low in ticket changes, we work on cleaning up duplicates and other behind the scenes work on the companies in the database to make sure they are updated. Our large client companies have ongoing changes constantly and must kept updated frequently.

Now, have I bored you half to death? I love my job. I lets me do research, which I love. It requires extreme concentration and scrutinizing of data for even the smallest details in differences. For twenty years I used to come home mostly physically tired from being on my feet 8 hours and somewhat mentally from answering reference questions. Now, I come home pretty much mentally exhausted from concentrating for 7.5 hours straight on data. 

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Friday, 9 July 2004

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I almost forgot to do my post. I came in from mowing the lawn after dinner and started working on mail and doing some other stuff on the computer. I just now looked up at the clock and it is already 9pm. 

Last night I started a book Mary loaned me that I have been wanting to read. It is not a mystery. Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss is a very witty look at the current state of affairs in Britain with the use of grammar. Truss, who is British, does radio broadcasts for the BBC and does book reviews the Sunday Times. She started out doing a series for the BBC on punctuation which led to the writing of this book. 

No one, including Truss herself, expected it to zoom to the top of the of the British best seller lists and then become equally as popular in the United States. The title stems from a joke about a Panda who walks into a cafe, orders a sandwich, eats it, draws a gun then fires it in the air. As the panda heads to the door the confused waiter questions as to its actions. The panda tosses a badly punctuated wildlife manual over over his shoulder to the waiter and says" I'm a panda" he says at the door, "Look it up".

The waiter finds the entry for "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

I heard about this book several months ago but just had not gotten around to checking to see if the library had a copy. In the meantime Mary bought it and offered to loan to us. Bob will read it next. Having struggled all my life with grammatical issues myself, it should prove to be interesting. Truss, a stickler for punctuation,  uses funny examples to illustrate the misuse or lack of commas, semi-colons, etc in the daily art of writing and making signs. Having just read the first few chapters last night I have, so far, found it to be exactly what I expected. A very funny little book about a subject you would otherwise not find to be very funny.

Well, it is getting late, the dogs have not had playtime, and it will soon be time for bed. Have a great weekend.

 

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Saturday, 10 July 2004

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At 10 am this morning it was already 85 degrees. Looks like it will be another hot one today. I have cleaned house while Bob did the laundry. I think I will work on indoor projects today.

It was time to do some maintenance on my web sites both Fritchman and Research Solutions. I will edit some pages, remove some I am no longer using, updating, etc. Next I need to tackle my desk, pay some bills, and catch up on e-mail.

We have an observing session planned for tonight but the weather is not looking too promising at this point.

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Sunday, 11 July 2004

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Rained out, again. The observing session planned for last night was actually another weekend scheduled up at the Fancy Gap lodge. We had the lodge for Sat -Mon night. The game plan was to go up yesterday. If it was a wash out but nice on Sunday night we would stay up there another night. We would come back Monday and I would either go in late or take a day off. But, when we left Saturday afternoon the forecast did not look promising for Saturday or Sunday night.

We left Winston about 2:45 yesterday after with temperatures here in the mid-nineties. The reason we use the white truck for Astro-truck is due to the fact is has no AC. Most of the time we driving it at night to just get to observing locations. Having heat is much more important since that is the majority of good observing weather. It was stifling in the car on the way up even on the Interstate and especially once we hit the slow speed towns of Mt. Airy, NC and driving through Cana, VA, just over the NC line. 

However, once we started up the mountain the temperature dropped a good fifteen to twenty degrees. By the time we reached the lodge it was positively cool sitting in the shade under the trees while waiting on Steve to arrive with the key. Unfortunately, we had horrific thunder storms move around 5:00 and last until almost 9. While the storms finally moved out the clouds did not. Bob, Steve, Paul, and I enjoyed spending a relaxing evening sitting on the screened in porch watching mother nature do her thing over the mountain valley out below. The lodge is not air conditioned but once the storms moved through the house cooled off pretty well.

This morning the temperatures we in the low 60's and no humidity. Steve had to come back to Winston but planned to drive back up if the predicted forecast of more clouds and rain changed by the time he got back to Winston. Bob and I decided we may as leave this afternoon when Paul left not really expecting the weather conditions to improve. Bob and Paul left about 10am to drive up the Parkway to look for darker observing sites we could drive to from the lodge. 

I stayed behind to pack up our stuff and load the car and to help Steve do the little bit of cleaning up. Once I finished up I sat on the porch enjoying the quiet and finished reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves. They returned about 12:30. Paul loaded up his stuff, locked up, and we all took off getting back home around 1:45. It is hot today but not nearly as hot as yesterday. Mom said they had some very bad storms here last night. More is predicted for this afternoon and tonight here. The weather map shows Fancy Gap area is already socked in this afternoon with clouds.

While we are always disappointed in not getting to do any observing, Bob and I both enjoy just getting away even for a day. When I was growing up I loved to sit at the beach and watch the waves roll in. After spending four years of college in the mountains and doing a lot of camping in them during our early married years, I now enjoy sitting and looking out over the mountains instead. It just so happens this was a great weekend for the lodge. I was really tired by Friday this week and yesterday did not really feel like doing much of anything once I got the house cleaned. 

This afternoon I plan to watch the race, if it is not rained out in Chicago, relax, and read. 

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