Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life on the fifth floor (part 4)

Many, many years ago -- I guess it was probably around 1986 -- I was just out of grad school and temping at Emmanuel College, and a friend was going to school at Harvard Medical School. I remember meeting him on "the quad" one day, and thinking: this is lovely! It's a huge field of green grass surrounded by stunning, impressive, white buildings with enormous columns.

Now it's 2011, and here I am. It's still beautiful.

On Wednesdays during the summer, there is music (see the little white triangle?) in the quad for everyone to enjoy, put on by Berklee students.

This is the email that goes out on Wednesdays:

... take a break from your research, patients, paperwork and other tasks to enjoy a series of concerts on the HMS Quad and in the Kresge Courtyard. The concerts, featuring musicians from Berklee College of Music, take place on Wednesdays from 12:30–1:30 pm. Sit back, relax and enjoy some music with your colleagues.

Today's concert wasn't spectacular, but it was nice to sit in the sun for a few minutes. There's a nice focus on "quality of life" here. I like it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Life on the fifth floor (part 3)

My new project -- and Harvard in general -- uses a lot of acronyms. A LOT. Some of them absolutely crack me up.

KFC. What does that mean to you? Well, to me it means Kentucky Fried Chicken. Here, it means "Key Function Committee." But every-time someone says KFC I think of chicken.

CHIRP. What does that mean to you? To me, it's the sound that a bird makes. Chirp, chirp, chirp. Here, it is (embarrassingly) the name of my program. Community Health Innovation and Research Program. CHIRP. Not sure how we will ever get anyone to take us seriously with that name.

R-Nav. Pronounced "ar-nav." It probably doesn't mean anything to you -- yet. It's actually a pretty cool thing. The Research Navigators (or R-Navs) are "PhDs who serve as scientific liaisons to facilitate clinical and translational research." They connect people to each other and to research opportunities. There are 4 R-Navs, and they are very nice. And very smart.

Translational. What does that mean to you? Here, it isn't about translating something into another language. It means translating a scientific discovery into something that can be used by people. Everyone's always talking about translational this and translational that.

TAP is the tuition assistance program. HUGHP (pronounced "hug-up") is the Harvard University Group Health Plan. PeopleSoft is where you log your time, and ASPIRE is where you apply for a new job (if you ASPIRE for a job...get it?). PMP is the performance management process. Although at the Med School, we do PPR - Performance Planning and Review.

And now...back to the 5th floor. Here is a photo of my wastebasket. Have you ever seen anything like that? It's a little teeny tiny waste basket that is hooked onto the side of a blue recycle bin. The message is: recycle most things, throw away just a little. Of course what I end up doing is completely filling the little tiny waste basket, and not putting much of anything into the recycle bin. I guess I'm lucky, though. My friend, K, over at the School of Public Health, doesn't even HAVE a wastebasket. None. At. All. They take recycling very seriously over there.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Life on the fifth floor (part 2)

There is a hierarchy to the floor plan on the 5th floor: there are those folks with offices (and windows), and those with cubes (and generally, no windows). The important people (directors, managers) get the offices and the windows. The working people (myself included) get the cubes. The cubes are quite small, and there is absolutely no privacy. None. If you make a phone call, everyone can hear. And you can hear everyone else, too. If someone chooses to talk on speaker phone, it's really, really distracting.

Some of the folks in the offices don't have a ton of privacy either, to be honest. My boss shares an office with another person. Whenever either person has a meeting or talks on the phone, the other person can hear every word. I guess privacy isn't something that is needed now-a-days. Transparency in everything, right?

Turns out that several programs in the office are moving to a new location "across the quad" in a few weeks. This will probably reduce the density of the office somewhat, although I don't think I'll score an office quite yet. Sounds like once the programs move, I'll be moving to a cube closer to my two main co-workers.

So back to the library. There are some amusing aspects to the library, one of which is the recent introduction of Cooper, the Countway Therapy Dog. Yes, a dog. In a library. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can "check out" Cooper, a registered therapy dog, for a half hour of doggie deliciousness. You can play with him, take him for a walk, or just snuggle with him. He really is very cute. Take a look at this face.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Life on the fifth floor

My friend K is writing a blog about her experiences at her new job, and another friend, A, suggested that we write "dueling blogs," as it were, about our experiences. I like how K is writing about the small details of her new work-life, so I'm going to try it here. Here goes.

My office is on the fifth floor of a medical library, this rather nondescript building to the left. But every day when I get off the elevator, I walk right into an exhibit of old medical paraphernalia which is formally called the Warren Anatomical Museum. The exhibit consists of old medical instruments -- some of which are very scary looking -- and also skulls, anatomical models, statues, and all kinds of weird things. A co-worker just informed me that there is a tray of gallstones. Ugh. Every day, people come up to look at the museum. Groups of students. Little kids and parents. People who are clearly tourists.

Click here to see a photo of what it looks like right outside my office suite.

On the walls of the fifth floor, there are also some strange formal portraits of men who must have been physicians a long time ago. Perhaps some of the founders of the medical school. Several of them have rooms and buildings named after them. But the real question is, why do you think this guy looks like this?

He looks very uncomfortable, doesn't he?

Here is another view of the library, a view of the staircase winding its way down.