Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nachos in Exile


I may not know much, but there are certain facts which are incontrovertible. These are the kind of facts which bind the molecules of the universe together, keep people voting along party lines in spite of evidence of folly, ensure that plants grow towards the sun and make a person very certain that "Free" anything is worth less than it costs.

My co-workers make lunch suggestions and because I'm new, I bite back the proper responses to the obvious.

"Let's have Mexican food", when suggested in South Carolina, should be greeted with the response:

"It takes sixteen hours to get to decent Mexican food and I've got a meeting this afternoon. Let's go to the cafeteria."

In Texas, I order the same thing at every Mexican place because I hate surprises. Chicken fajita nachos are the same everywhere. They contain the same ingredients. The presentation may vary slightly (across a range from delicately constructed individual chips formed with creepy attention to detail to massive piles of stuff over a haphazard layer of chips), but the substance consists of core components which are unalterable:

1. Chips (corn or flour)

2. Chicken (grilled)

3. Cheese (maybe shredded, maybe poured)

4. Lettuce and tomato (not a deal breaker) 

5. Guacamole

6. Beans (probably refried, but black sometimes)

7. Sour cream

That's it. Seven ingredients and none of them are surprising or imaginative. If I want surprising and imaginative, I'll eat blindfolded from the dumpster behind a food court.

So I ordered them at the "best" Mexican grill in town earlier this week. I needed comfort following the ketchup-based salsa they had provided the table.

What arrived was unrecognizable. There were chips, to be fair, and some chicken. There may have been cheese, too. The problem was that the whole dish was covered in a thick pile of sliced bell peppers and onions. At that point, it could have been the best food ever -- It still would've been too wrong to be even peripherally involved with.

My Southeastern friends, grilled vegetables are not something one adds to chips. Not even if you really, really hate those chips on a personal level.

It just is not done.

You've been warned. The next time I see that kind of chip-focused hate crime you can expect to be on the receiving end of a hissy fit the likes of which one would only expect from someone from Atlanta, maybe. Or Charleston. And you won't like it, believe me. No one does.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Of Homes And Gnomes


I have responsibilities here in Columbia. I mean outside of work (which consisted of five and a half hours of meetings  today only because I skipped one). I've been tasked with finding our new home. Shana sells ours (nearly impossible in this crappy market) and I search new housing areas for a place with solid gold toilets.

I found a place with a totally bricked in backyard. I immediately thought of filling it with water and holding mock naval battles for the amusement of my subjects.

Then I thought about how cool it would be if the wall extended all the way around the front of the house so that my garden hose could create a moat, which has been a long-term goal of mine for a while.

Stupid Girl Scouts and their high-sugar cookies.

The agent selling the house said they would not extend the wall around the front, though. She acted like I was crazy for even asking, actually. Perhaps it was because of my searching dressed in ripped jeans and a Gwar t-shirt. Maybe she just skipped her meds.

Anyway, I found another house before that agent could follow through on her threat and "call ahead" and now I have to time the purchase of that house with the sale of our own.

That is almost impossible.

But anyway, at work today we took the test servers and dropped them into the Organizational Unit with the new Group Policy Object, then requested that they be rebooted and scanned for vulnerabilities. The security team wanted to know who built the servers, since that group would need to reboot them.

When they asked me, I realized that I had had no contact with the people who actually touch computers so I replied,"Server gnomes?" with kind of a half shrug.

Without cracking a smile, the security guy informed me that there were no "Server gnomes" and that this company had been using Oompa-Loompas since 1998 as a cost-saving measure.

I'll be avoiding the server room on purpose now, because those little guys freak me out. 

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gwynyth!


Listen to this brilliance:

Take some cookie dough ice cream and jam it between two cookie dough Pop-Tarts to create the greatest ice cream sandwich of all time!

While I'd love to take credit for that, it is an original Gwynyth invention.

It may not kill a person as quickly as a double bacon cheeseburger made with Krispy Kreme doughnuts for buns, but it will most likely be a more pleasant death.

I got back to the hotel room to discover that my cellphone has no service. Maybe "the" tower is down. I'd call and ask, but . . .

Anyway, as much as I'd like to call my daughter (again, since I called before she got on the school bus) it looks like that won't be possible for a while.

I hope her birthday is an awesome one and I'm sorry I'm missing it.

At work, I've started doing the actual "worky" part. Today I reviewed the blah-blah and prepared for testing the whatever starting tomorrow. Once the stuff is implemented, we will have a solid plan for moving all of it into the production environment. See? Firm grasp of the details is what makes a good . . . Whatever the hell I am.

The hotel is completely boring and they tend to "turn off the internets" at about the time I'd be going on raids in World of Warcraft. This makes me stabby.

On the subject of World of Warcraft, I found out one of the guys on my team has a level 70 Paladin in a raiding guild on another server. You'd think we'd get along great, but he plays Alliance and I play Horde, so the tension between us has rapidly built into genuine animosity.

He doesn't play in the Arena and he isn't in my server's "Battle Group", so there is no chance this will build into an actual virtual physical confrontation.

Unless the game developers take my suggestions into account during the next patch phase.

Friday, April 25, 2008

April 25


Happy Birthday, Shana!

The personal party I'm throwing from five states away is a bit lame, with snacks limited to matzo and peanut butter for Passover and the disturbing lack of a guest of honor, but I'm celebrating as much as circumstances permit.

By way of updates on the new global headquarters of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Worldwide Amalgamated Internet Heresy And All Night Final Destination For Old Television, it could be better.

They came and made the bed and took my towels and washcloths and bath mat, which was nice.

The subsequent replacement of the towels and washcloths and bathmat would have made it ideal, or even the availability of Housekeeping Services to replace my missing bath stuff during the hours when I can meet them. Dripping dry loses its appeal after a couple of days. Or I suspect that it soon will, anyway.

I finally got a computer on a table of my very own at work today. I used it for email and reviewing documentation all day when I wasn't in meetings.

I also discovered a section in the Employee Handbook which talked about strict adherence to processes and procedures. The area was titled "Maintain an Attitude of Healthy Discontent". While it went into detail, the important part was that even a new person should question and complain loudly when confronted with something dumb, which flies in the face of every place I've ever worked. Our mandate is to follow intelligent processes and change the dumb ones. In fact, there are weekly meetings in the executive area where they review and modify dumb processes.

On the downside, the chicken quesadillas in cafeteria seem to have corn in them, but on the plus side they are only $2.75 with a drink.

Yes, Darrell, I spend part of every day looking for references to the giant super laser code named "Project Moonbreaker". 

Happy Birthday, Shana. I miss you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Workstation

Let me show you it:


Actually, that isn't it. I really don't have a place to sit at all so much. Or a computer. But this does set a low bar for my expected productivity and I'm okay with that.

I got a little more definition about my job function today. I'll try to explain it without being boring, but I make no promises. If you stick through to the end, I promise a picture of a urinal. Don't scroll ahead!

Okay, so for a Microsoft domain to establish settings for user and computer accounts, the Domain Controller must deploy Group Policies, which are configured using Group Policy Objects. I spoke with a co-worker about my role. This is how it went:

Me: So I establish Group Policies for the Citrix servers?

Co-Worker: Actually, there is a set of guidelines established by the Government for that.

Me: But I set up the policies, right?

Co-Worker: Just the security ones.

Me: Okay, so I create Group Policy Objects for security on the Citrix servers.

Co-Worker: No. You request the GPO from the group that creates GPOs. And when they make it you check it.

Me: And fix it if it is wrong?

Co-Worker: You can, but we usually just send it back and make them fix it since they built it.

Me: Why should I not tremble in fear for my job security?

Co-Worker: Your's is a Federally mandated position. Unless you get caught selling state secrets to Canada or something, you are set.

Me: How hard is it to get caught?

Co-Worker: Damn near impossible.


I promised a urinal picture and I intend to follow through with it:


I'm not sure you can tell from the grainy cellphone picture, but the interesting thing about this urinal is that the . . . opening . . . (lip?) is at a little over waist high for me. I'm not that short, so I have to assume there is a design choice at work here I have no reference for.

I've started wheeling in a chair to stand on whenever I need to go.

I thought the "vertical" properties of South Carolina started and ended with the mountainettes, but they apparently extend into the men's room.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Even More Stuff To Orient Me



This picture was taken on my old lady phone from the doorway of the new-hire training area. If there were windows in the classroom I would have had an excuse to zone out during the "Org Chart" lecture instead of just doing it because it was so amazingly boring.

I also had a chance to drive through the subdivision we like to inspect it for signs of gang activity or (even more horrifying) "being a long way from Starbucks". It showed no signs of either, oddly enough, though I intend to drive through tomorrow when there is more light to double check.

New Hire Orientation is a weird kind of pseudo-work. It isn't like anyone actually expects productivity, but at the same time it is the first opportunity to establish a reputation in a group of people who (in a company with 13,000 employees) I will probably never see again.

There were two times when we had to introduce ourselves. The first I ended up rambling about how much I missed my family and how much the housing market sucks and how I hope to see my daughter again before she enters college. "Go, Gamecocks!"

The second included the special instructions, "Tell us something which would surprise us."

Hmmmmm. How wrong could that go?

"Due to a luggage miscalculation, I'm not wearing underwear."?

"Over 50% of the crates to move in our garage are filled with toys, and of those 10% are my daughters."?

"I hate meetings so much that I stab myself in the palm with a pen to stay awake and I refer to the wounds as 'Corporate Stigmata'."?

In the end I settled on, "I was only able to bring with me what I could fit into a two-door car and I chose to bring a bag of funny-shaped dice for Dungeons and Dragons. Just in case."

Day 2. That's how I roll.

This, unfortunately, surprised no one. But I did get invited to a game this weekend.


I've decided to continue my impress-the-hell-out-of-everyone trend by playing a Pixie Bard. With a speech impediment, probably.

Monday, April 21, 2008



The background check continued today, believe it or not.

That number in the title is my Selective Service Registration ID. I'm glad I've had it memorized since 1990. For the record, I picked Coast Guard because I figured sometimes they get to wear shorts.

They also took my fingerprints. For those familiar with my strict "no stuff on my hands" issue, imagining my distress at actively inking my fingers in front of a room full of strangers might be amusing.

For the record, I did not shake uncontrollably. Instead, I focused my energy on memorizing the proper finger layout order on the card so that I could ink, press, re-ink, and press again with no interruption. In the end, the process was so smooth I got ahead of the fingerprinter and pushed the card up in the holder to make room on the next row before she could.

"I've just done this more than I care to talk about," was the explanation I chose for that. And, in truth, once is more than I care to talk about.

The orientation process at my new job is two solid days of coursework and catered meals. This is different than the orientation I'm used to which is, "Holy crap! Everything is broken! Fix it! Fix it!"

I will have no access to the interwebz while at my new job, though, so I'm looking for some kind of chemical substitute. Preferably something which won't turn up in any random screening.

The main differences I've seen between South Carolina and Houston are all about the vertical. There are hills here. I'd call them "mountainettes". They get in the way of navigating by sight, but the turnarounds are all really pretty so the stress of being lost kind of goes away.

Also, everyone is friendly. At least so far. It is the kind of friendly which makes the paranoid in me (40% by volume) avoid drinking the water and expect to find some mound of murdered drifters around every corner, but I'll take it at face value because there is a Starbucks and I like Starbucks.

So that is all the update I'm allowed to give at this point. I miss my friends and family very much and my hotel room is so small I can hardly turn my suitcase on its side, but there are trees. A lot of trees.

Someone should do something about that, in my opinion.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Own Personal Exodus


My Passover 2008 First Night seder was spent in a tiny hotel room in Columbia, South Carolina. The four glasses of wine requirement was met courtesy of a bottle of Manischewitz I brought with me along with some peanut butter and matzos similarly transported.

The hotel room is tiny and cramped and the internet is not so good, but I still manage to feel a sense of unity with the rest of the Jewish world because I know we are all celebrating the same thing.

It especially helped that my friend Todd worked so hard to get a video chat going so that I could experience e-Passover at their house along with my family who I already miss a physically painful amount.

Anyway, my tolerance for alcohol being what it is, by the second plastic cup of wine I decided to open my hotel room door for Elijah. Last year I expected him to be there when the door was opened, this year in a dingy hotel room I did not expect him so much (though there was a chair open just in case). To be honest, as awesome as a visit with Elijah would be, I would probably personally prefer a visit with Elisha, his successor.

In learned rabbinical circles Elisha is considered Luke Skywalker to Elijah's Obi-Wan Kenobi.

My favorite almost-as-good-as-force-lightning story is about how some punk kids made fun of Elisha's receding hairline, so Elisha prayed and had bears come out of the woods to devour them.

The world would be a better place if we all handled stress in this way, especially when children are involved.

The behavioral impact of prayer in school is, perhaps, debatable. However, the effect of bears in school is tangible.

"Didn't do your homework? Talk to the bear." "Smoking behind the gym? Bear time for you, Mister." "Nice baggy pants, punk. I'm sure the bear will enjoy that choice." 

Anyway, my personal exodus was aided by GPS, so it was like cheating.

Also, I packed, which was also like cheating.

14 hours is not 40 years, but I need a nap either way.

Goodnight from the Eastern Time Zone, everyone, and Happy Passover.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Last Post


From Houston, anyway.

I'm headed out to make my fortune in the . . . smaller . . . city.

That doesn't sound epic at all, does it?

Anyway, I'm making one stop between Houston and Columbia, South Carolina which doesn't specifically revolve around my needing to go number one, but I've heard stories about an internet connection or two in South Carolina, so I'll be moving my bandwidth abuse over there and posting when I can. I've programmed the GPS with the locations of every Starbucks in the greater Columbia area, so I feel confident that I can return to my element whenever I feel uncomfortable.

There is a confederate flag on the state flag, still, today. Seriously, look:


Wait. That's Mississippi.

This is South Carolina:


That looks like it is all about a good time, doesn't it?

Doesn't it?

Well, at least there is no confederate flag, right?


Because its a tree and a moon and all.

Oh, crap.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In Which I Show Blatant Disregard For Nature


Remember the plant?

We decided it was too weird to include in our sale of the house, so I went back after it on Wednesday, as though it had personally wronged me somehow.

Vines, by their very nature, tangle.

This one, due to (I believe) some dark infernal force seemed not to tangle so much as braid itself into our valid and intentional plants. It grew upwards through both the crepe myrtles and the fig to form an enormous dark green canopy over the corner of our yard. Also, the nearby corners of the yards of three neighbors whose names we keep meaning to bother to learn.

Gas-powered hedge trimmers? Oh, no.

Electric? Too "Sharper Image" for me.

Solar? What do I look like, a hippie?

So what type of clippers did I have? I'm glad you asked, tired literary device.

Manual clippers. Just a raging demonic vine and me, wrestling in the yard like ancient Greeks with nothing between us but some semi-sharp metal things on a pivot joint.

I can tell you this is exactly how I like it, but that would be a total lie.

Anyway, I got it. Somewhere around sixty pounds of rogue vine got yanked out of our trees and I'm the one who did the yanking.

Now, it looks like the devil shrub was growing up out of at least eight separate places in the ground in the back corner. I was able to count them once I'd ripped away enough of the top to allow some light to filter through.

I cut them all off near the ground and separated the leafless trunk parts from the twisty. leafy braided bits to be burned in separate piles with the ashes mixed with cat hair and scattered towards the south like we did in the old country.

However, I have every belief that the plant will be back. This time, it will be pissed, too.

So, I'm leaving town on Friday. Early. I think the vine will leave Shana and Gwynyth alone, because as I sang my song of destruction I made sure the plant knew who was responsible. Either way, it is an added incentive for them to make a quick sale of the house and follow me a time zone to the right.

Whoever buys our house can deal with the revenge of the evil plant. And the stuff I left in the closet upstairs. And the doorknob that doesn't turn in the proper direction. Maybe they will be left-handed and that last one won't bother them. Actually, it still might. But maybe they will have an extra thumb or something because I think that might make opening that door bearable.

I will hope some mutant falls in love with the house and the demon vine and the sinister door knob and the "tomato juice" stain on the carpet which makes the cats skittish.

Yes, lets all channel our positive energy towards hopeful mutated would-be home buyers hooking up with our real estate agent.

And then let's all try to eat one of these without immediately dying. Or just look at it without having one's heart slow as though it were moving cold lard around the body.  

I have to tell you, though. With Passover coming up, I'd probably try to get one of those into my system (sans bacon) before my diet becomes all matzo and peanut butter for eight days.

Traditional . . . Not digestible. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

So Very Not Paid


So I quit my job, right? Only I agreed to keep doing it until this Thursday, right? And I was surprisingly (and unjustifiably) kind in my decidedly PG-13 resignation letter, right?

But then they told me to go home, with the understanding that I'd be paid throughout my period of notice in return for not using my short-time status to break a bunch of stuff.

And then they stopped paying me. Totally.

And didn't tell me they stopped paying me. I only found out when I got my check stub.

So I fired off an email as follows:

To: IT Director, CEO, Owner, and the recruiter who got me into this

Mr. (redacted),

I've gotten what I can only assume is my final payment from (company name deleted), though it does not reflect payment throughout my period of notice.
I was willing to work, as my email stated, through Thursday of this
week, the 17th. I had every intention of continuing to perform my
duties in good faith until (redacted) sent me home on Tuesday.
If the policy at (company name deleted) is to release resigning employees without paying them money owed, I would suggest updating the Employee Handbook to reflect that notice should not be given if employment is terminated by the employee. It would have been better if I had walked out on the afternoon of the 17th and simply never gone back.
If you would like at any time to conduct an exit interview I am
available for that.




And then I started drinking.

Four hours later, the recruiter called to register her distress and ask what brought about my resignation.

Sometimes honesty is not only the best policy, it is also fun. Oh, how I let her know (as she took notes) what a horrible unproductive nightmare of a workplace it was. I pulled no punches. I told stories which left her unable to vocalize responses. I gave accurate timelines. I provided quotes. I noted that her's was the only response to my email because my former employer is a haven for cowards and knee-biting sycophants who abhor face-to-face confrontation as though they were abused street dogs.

I said, "It is my opinion that this is not a way to motivate people. It is a fact that it is not a way to motivate me." and thought it should go on a coffee mug somewhere.

I also suggested that they stop taking a dump in a toaster and expecting me to believe it is a Pop-Tart.

She offered to find another job for me, and I declined.

There is nothing she or anyone can do to get my money out of these petty, selfish, nasty asshats (Texas is a Right-To-Work state) but I can stop being nice about it whenever I like.

And I like right freaking now.

A Second Infestation


One time I fell asleep early at a party and woke up to the discovery that a hedgehog had taken up residence inside my skull.

Yesterday, I repeated the experiment but added a speed modifier this time, downing Fat Tire and St. Arnold's like they were refreshing Diet Coke, one after another up to and past my limit in only a couple of hours. For the record, they are not like refreshing Diet Coke at all.

This morning's skull hedgehog is like the first, only faster, and instead of crawling around and looking for an exit from my head, he seems to be running really fast in a quest to pick up gold rings, collect the Chaos Emeralds and defeat the ever evil Dr. Robotnik. This effort for justice is appreciated, I'd just like him to keep it down while he does it.

Now that all of our winter clothes are packed up and stashed in the garage, Houston has gotten another cold snap. Well, as much as Houston ever gets cold. Since I'm soft, though, I feel like we need to spend the day researching and ordering sled dogs off Amazon. Or perhaps I should just find a sweatshirt.

The freaking hedgehog makes both options seem equally reasonable.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Post

I went to the book signing on Friday night. Sigler sold 60 copies of his book and I picked up the last non-pre-order off the shelf.

When my turn came, I introduced myself and told him that I voted for Houston as his final tour stop and then got a job offer in South Carolina, so I delayed my start date for two weeks so that I could attend and follow through on my vote.

He laughed and personalized my book like this:


"Gary". Nice.

My only response is to market and sell more books than him so he can one day regret his error.

The new-and-improved print version of Infected is more graphic and disturbing than the original, so it was money well spent.

This morning I did my presentation on Office Communications and (even though I am way out of practice) I did not vomit a single time, even just into my own mouth!

Also, there may have been test questions created from some of my rant against pointlessness, though I have no idea which bits were test worthy. If it had been a psyche course, I'm sure the questions would have been about diagnosis and treatment options.

Since I promised to share this, here is a copy of one of my Meeting Bingo cards:


Feel free to print one out to take to your next meeting and cross off words as they are used. The prize? It looks like you are taking notes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Random Stuff


Our friend Sabrina came over yesterday and helped us a LOT with the whole "OMG we has to sell the house" project. It was awesome, srsly.

Today, Shana and I are still at it. Our only help today is from the cats, which is about as unlike help as one can get.

Tonight I'm skipping Temple to attend a book signing in Rice Village at Murder By The Book.

I've talked about Scott Sigler in the past. He is the guy who releases his novels for free online in "Podiobook" format. Some publisher decided that they could sell in print what he was giving away in audio file and it looks like it is working.

I'm glad to get to attend a book signing before I head off to a smaller, less tour-worthy location.

Sigler's books are generally gory, sci-fi horror novels, and this book tour is for Infected which used to be called Infection before someone copywrighted that word for some movie or something. When I first listened to Infection, thoughts of chicken scissors made me shudder involuntarily. Though it has been several months since I listened, I still can't go near the things.

After the signing, I hope to get together with my friends Adrian, Darrell and Mike for coffee before I leave town.

Saturday morning is my big "Communication in the Workplace" presentation at Lee College. I have decided to also cover the resignation process and interview tips.

Here is one:

It is illegal for an employer to ask an interviewee if they have ever been involved in litigation against an employer, therefore the proper answer is always, "No, but I consider myself open to new experiences."

Finally, I read an article online about a species of tree-dwelling ant in South America which, when knocked or blown off a leaf, can angle their legs to glide and direct their falls toward the trunk of the tree, ensuring that they can make their way back to the colony. The research into this evolutionary trick has just gotten more funding, but the important thing to learn here is that someone has been, and will continue to be, making money for dropping ants and watching them fall.

Dream big, people. Someone is willing to pay someone else to do just about whatever.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"We think you should just go home . . ."


And I agreed with them, so I did.
We did not cover whether I would be getting paid anyway, or whether my insurance was canceled immediately, or whether they would stop calling me at all hours, but I'm hoping for the best on all counts.

I could call the local Human Resources person to find out for sure, but they fired her a couple of weeks ago. If anything turns up shady I'll just call my former boss. A lot. 

I spent today (and most of Tuesday) prepping the house to be sold and packing up stuff. Shana has a definite itemized list of the things which need to be done, while I mostly wander room to room, painting ceilings, fixing lights, taping up boxes and trying to stay the hell out of the way.

It looks like we are pretty close to sticking a giant check mark for "done" next to one of the rooms, though the others are taking tiny steps towards a glorious simultaneous finish. Or, just as likely, a large house fire and some curbside maniacal laughter.

Of course, the cats are as helpful with this as we have come to expect. For instance:

"I have altered your chair."


"Pray that I do not choose to alter it further."

I like to think that she is just guarding my dice bag, which you can see in all its bulging awesomeness right by her head.

That bag is riding to South Carolina with me.

So very frighteningly soon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Quit


It had been far too long but quitting a job is really like riding a bike.

Of course it is easy to play the "you suck because" card or rely on the tired old "moving on to other things" or, heaven forbid the classic "I looked it up and I'm not Constitutionally mandated to stay here", but most of the time a simple "my last day is X, good luck in the future" letter can cover all of that. Especially if you use Comic Sans .

And spinning text and humorous images in a PowerPoint presentation are still not appropriate. In my experience, most things that are wildly funny can be considered not appropriate.

For the record, there has been no official response from management at all. Or even "Oh". Or "I got your written resignation".

Nothing at all from anyone.

Hopefully by this time tomorrow I should be able to report on some kind of reaction to my quitting, but management skips out before four in the afternoon and they usually don't get in until nine thirty or so in the morning so maybe they haven't read it yet. 

Either way, now that I've officially quit, I'm inching closer to the time when these people can stop asking me to do stuff at all hours of the day and night.

The transitioning-out phase should be pretty short in reality. I've already uninstalled all my stuff and deleted my documentation. I think they may keep me around through the duration of my notice period just to dump odd-hours crap work and blame on me, which is no difference to the way things were before I gave notice except that now I've got a target end date to it. Ah, those three little words . . . "Target End Date."

This afternoon a friend is coming by to help me catch the fish in the aquarium so that she can give them a new home and I can tear down the old one and stash it in the garage to be moved. I fear the size of that project.

I'm also trying to get all the heavy lifting part of the move out of the way before I leave town, but there is a pretty nasty amount of that, too.

I should stop by one of those illegal day labor sites on my way home.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Best Dollar I Ever Spent


On Saturday we went to a fund-raising carnival at Gwynyth's school. There were games and there was food and Gwynyth dominated the cake walk.

Twice. Pwnd.

But as our dollar-purchased carnival credits wore thin, I spotted the jail.

For $1, they would arrest anyone and hold them until that person produced bail money. It was a pretty awesome example of how law enforcement works in The South and I was glad that they chose to put up an educational area like that in the midst of all the sugary food and prizes.

After deciding my course of action, I told the girl running the booth that Gwynyth was an obvious threat to National Security and should be locked up according to the guidelines drawn out by the Patriot Act.

For the good of America, they did so.

Gwynyth wasn't carrying any credits at all and I'd just blown my last dollar on the lock up part, so neither of us had money for the jury-free release portion of the activity.

I was distracted by something shiny, though, so it all worked out for me.

I suppose her mom bailed her out eventually, even though that violates our long-standing "we do not cover bail" policy. Some parents are too easy on their kids, literally (in some cases) bailing them out before they can learn the tough lessons.

By the time I'd returned to the cell to give Gwynyth some cigarettes (since I have heard those are like money on "the inside"), she was gone.

I found Shana and Gwynyth later in the karaoke area. Gwynyth is a little harder for her experience. A little more raw. A little more jumpy. And, if current statistics bear out, 30% more likely to shank a stuffed animal if she perceives it cutting in line for the showers. 

I don't know if it is at all related, but on Sunday Gwynyth helped me pack my stuff for the first time since I announced my pre-move to South Carolina. It could be she is either "scared straight" into an enhanced feeling of responsibility or that she just wants me gone.

I think I appreciate the help packing either way.

Friday, April 04, 2008

My Phone is Not a Manly Phone


I was going to talk about not quitting my job today, because I didn't quit my job and I thought everyone should know. But then I had a life-changing experience on my way into the building and thought it would be more interesting than the whole "still waiting on the results of the criminal part of your background check" thing.

So anyway, I mentioned (too many times probably) my Samsung Sync red 3G media-enabled cellphone and how cool and awesome I thought it was until I started seeing other people using the same phone. Older people. Female people.

Basically, the target demographic for my phone seems to be twenty years older than me and with one more X chromosome. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

One time I rode down the elevator with a girl who was young enough to be wearing a school uniform and she was talking on a red Samsung Sync. She was telling her mother that her appointment was over and that she would meet her in the lobby.

Just as I was thinking that possibly some younger people might have been drawn to the same phone, she stepped off the elevator and greeted an older woman with "Hey mom, here's your phone."

Anyway, the phone has a weird little port on the side, kind of like USB but flattened and used for data, power, and the proprietary headset.

I've always thought the bluetooth headsets (though the Samsung Sync is bluetooth-enabled) are kind of uncomfortable looking and I can never tell if someone wearing one is able to speak to people around them or if they are taking a call and shouldn't be disturbed.

I have one of the wired headsets, and since they are distinctive I recognized one on my way into the office this morning.

A woman about my age was fumbling with the cable trying to stuff it into an oversized Coach shoulder bag which I assumed held the phone itself.

I was so relieved to not only be holding fresh delicious coffee but also to find a person born in the early to mid seventies who used my exact phone I had to bring it up. I pulled my phone out of my front pocket (belt clips for electronic devices are not fashion accessories) and waved it at her.

"Hey! I thought I was the youngest person on the planet to own one of these!"

She laughed and said (and this is forever burned into my brain), "I got the blue one."

She flipped it out of the purse and the headset wire caught on something which tumbled out and onto the floor of the elevator.

Instinctively, I stooped to pick it up. That is what you do when someone (even a total stranger) drops something. Hindered by the hot coffee in one hand and the red Samsung Sync in the other I only registered what it was as my two hands clamped around the object pincer-style and I started to return it to her.

It was a tampon. Still wrapped up, but obviously not an individually wrapped crunchy breadstick.

She took it from my hands just as the elevator stopped on the seventh floor. 

"The voice quality is really good, isn't it?" I had no idea at all what to say as I stepped off the elevator, so a lie about the voice quality which is plagued with constant wind noise no matter where I use it was about all I could come up with.

She nodded and tried to concentrate on the little TV screen over the door as it slid shut so very very slowly.

The Samsung Sync looks better in blue, in my opinion.

And I will try to squash my instinct to pick things up when people drop them forever and ever.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

PowerPoint is Horrible Bloat-ware


However, there is possibly no better way to tender one's resignation than through a skillfully produced PowerPoint presentation with text that slides in from the sides and graphs illustrating historical versus current levels of "suck" with a baseline of an internship position where one is expected to load down boxes with flapjacks and bring them back, still warm, to the waiting full-time staff. And kitten pictures, but it isn't a presentation of any kind without kitten pictures. That would be like calling something "music" which did not contain harmonica.

A good resignation PowerPoint presentation should tell a story. It should communicate to the viewer that not only are the reasons for leaving solid and inarguable, but that the author of the presentation felt strongly enough about them to document them and make them all pretty with pictures and (time permitting and speakers provided) music. With harmonica.

The ideal response to this or any presentation is "Here! Have some money", but in this case specifically what you are looking for is shame or at the very least shocked silence.

Oh, what I wouldn't give for shocked silence. Or any kind of silence. After working here, I'll never look at a roll of duct tape the same way again. That part of me which once only considered what things I could stick together in happy silver bands is gone forever, replaced by someone more frightening who more values silence than functionality. A sadder kind of crazy, I suppose.

PowerPoint Resignation Presentations can be embedded on the front page of the corporate Wiki site, which is convenient.

They can also be emailed through the corporate mail server and (address rules enabled from inside the network) just sent to "All".

They can be lodged into calendar entries and sent as an invitation to a party for the date chosen by an employee as his or her last.

In the interest of good corporate communication, the only responsible decision one can make when faced with this many possible distribution channels is, of course, all.

Checking out one of the company projectors and blasting the thing in slideshow form across the back wall may be considered bad form, though visually awesome.

So freaking visually awesome.


Also, as in any corporate presentation, profanity should be used sparingly and only for effect.

"Sparingly" can be based on personal preference, though "effect" is tangible.  

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Have Not Studied


Ever, really. But specifically for the last round of post-offer, pre-hire tests.

They ran a credit check, since I'll be dealing with financial stuff and government stuff and they want to make sure that I'm not "susceptible to bribery".

According to my credit report I'm not "susceptible", but between you and me (and anyone who will listen and has access to money or stuff) I'm extremely susceptible to bribery. In fact, giving me money is the quickest way to make sure I'll be nice and agreeable. To be even more honest, were I to print my own business cards, "susceptible to bribery" would go right under my name, slightly to the right, in italics because italics are classy.

But - As far as the authorities are concerned - I'm totally on the up and up.

They are doing a comprehensive background check which involves calls to (apparently) almost everyone I've met in the past five years.

This includes former co-workers and employers with who know what to say about me. Including the one I quit by announcing that our relationship was growing toxic and that we needed to see other people. Including the one who offered me a full time job after consulting there that I rejected and then rebuffed a higher offer on the grounds that anything above the original offer was an attempt to pay for my unhappiness. And that my unhappiness requires additional zeros and commas in the check. Lots of commas.

Slander and defamation and blacklisting are all illegal, but no one anywhere I have ever worked is obligated to be particularly nice, either. I've never left a burning computer room and not come back after lunch. I'm hoping my old employers remember that.

Finally, I got to take a drug test.

The people in the office are always rude until they see the paperwork stating that this is a "pre-employment screen" and not a "holy crap this guy ran over a tour group of second graders in his forklift and then dropped a still-warm crack pipe on the teacher's head" kind of test. I got to lock my wallet and phone in a little vault and fill a little plastic cup past a certain line, then rush out with it so it is warm enough that they can assume it is fresh and not from a baggie my daughter filled and I taped to my leg. Though she would do that for me, if I ever drove a forklift.

One time my pre-employment drug screen came back blank. Not "negative". Blank.

I answered the call from the recruiter with a joke about being glad the test was over so I could stop drinking so much grapefruit juice and go back to using meth, but he didn't think it was so funny in light of my "blank".

I took it again and passed with flying colors. Well, color, actually. Yellow.

But anyway.

I've done my part now and just have to wait out the rest I guess.

And hopefully the next time I hand a stranger a cup of warm urine it will be for purely recreational purposes.  

Tuesday, April 01, 2008




In addition to the literally dozens of people who visit Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng every year, there are apparently some visitors from the legal department at my job.

So I've decided to (at the request of council) explain a little bit about legal liability in blogging to provide valid societal purpose to this silly little unknown blog which is never visited by our clients.

The definitions of slander and liable are subject to philosophical debate, though not necessarily legal debate. The contents of Internet postings, as well as that of legitimate writing, do seem to subject the author to legal scrutiny and possible eventual monetary penalty and/or jail time.

Also, it upsets the people mentioned and makes a bad situation even worse.

Disputes in the workplace should be handled with direct, non-physical communication between the parties involved and with a company appointed mediator if a resolution is not forthcoming and our high standard of productivity and teamwork is at risk.

The continued production of a good customer-focused environment is and always has been the primary goal of all employees and contractors employed at my workplace (which I am morally and legally bound to not name).

Yesterday's post was satire. The names and events were fictionalized.

There are no process holes which I have discovered and everyone I have encountered here has behaved in a manner which conveys the strictest professionalism and human decency I have been fortunate enough to work with, ever.

Posting fictional things on the Internet is childish and a waste of company time and resources.

I was wrong to behave so unprofessionally.

Also, "Internet" should be capitalized.

Thank you.