Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wherein I Am Burnt

So many pointless thoughts, so little inclination to bother typing them onto the page….

First, let me update you on the Dipshit situation. No, I have not yet informed the offending party (i.e., NewerBossMan Peter) that his "fixes" weren't populated to the system. I decided to play stupid and pretend it never occurred to me to go check.

I just--you have to pick your battles and I decided I just wasn't up for that one.

Second, I am disenchanted with a heretofore unnamed Café crony, to whom we will probably not have occasion to refer again. She's been revealed to be considerably less mature than I'd believed. In spite of her age (22-23) and the fact that she's dating Bert, who is technically her boss but no one here seems to find that inappropriate, I've had nothing against her for the last six or eight months that she's worked here.

That changed yesterday after she was informed* that she will not, as she anticipated, be attending the Corral's annual conference in two months. She reacted--badly.** (Footnoted for those who just don't care.) I think so much less of her today than I did before--and I'll admit I'm having my own problems getting past that.

Third, although informed that a S'S'West nut (previously discussed as a significant example of DIY FAIL) took advantage of the acquisition to run out and start DIYing again while management was in transition and although agreeing, in principle, that this is a bad idea all the way around, NewerBossMan Peter has decided that this is not a current "issue" in his eyes.

So now, we not only have another DIYer playing in my sandbox, but I don't even have transparency into what he's doing, so any lunatic thing he does that might reflect badly on the rest of the system can be--not diagnosed, but guessed at--only via the disastrous effects it has on the system.

Fourth, although it's probably moot by now, I was going to blog a triumphant record of the record-setting (really this time--I double-checked the figures) number of leads the overall network generated last month. It wasn't necessarily due to my efforts, it was a variety of sources, but my projects were part of it, with a modest 24% increase over last year. With the actual "busy season" still ahead of us, I was looking forward to a successful summer.

Not so much now. Not only do I have to fear the negative impact of an invisibly destructive campaign but the Corral BOWG who heard the news got snippy about the really modest 1.5% increase in actual sales from last year. Since closing leads--booking jobs--isn't my problem or responsibility, I felt that was unfair.

I did not, however, throw a temper tantrum and stomp out of the office. Because I am not twelve.

Fifth, freelance. I think I overbid a project earlier this week. Someone asked me for an estimate for managing one rather large-scale project and I quoted them $1500 a month. Their reply was, essentially, thanks and we'll get back to you--maybe--some day.

I don't care for me--it wasn't that interesting of a project from my perspective--but I regret the loss of potential income for Gidget. (Also, I'm firmly reminding myself that I may have bid more than the client was prepared to pay, but I also bid less than the project was worth--or would be worth, once Gidget and I got it performing properly.)

Sixth, 'net access issues! The in-house 'Nut network got hacked Monday night, we had intermittent access problems all day on Tuesday, and my little, Chromey toy won't connect to the office wifi any more. I only have 17mg of data left to last me the rest of the month, so I'm having to use it sparingly, if at all. As always, the loss of a tool I've come to rely on makes me feel crippled.***

Seventh, and the most urgent today although I very nearly forgot it. This morning my old (I'm guessing, 10, maybe 15 years) hairdryer finally gave up the ghost. I managed to get my hair dried before the motor burnt out but I smell strongly of--well--burning. I have to pop out at lunch and buy a new hairdryer.

I'd like to point out that, in spite of all this, I'm not really crabby.

I just have a lot going on in my head this week.


* Don't even get me started on the inadvisability of the onsite management, CougarNot, breaking bad news to people in the kitchen instead of in her office--I give her credit for not having anticipated that this child would react so badly.

** I had the misfortune to enter the room two seconds after she'd gotten the news. The girl was--angry. Massively pissed off.

Instead of seeing it as a business trip she wasn't participating in, she chose to interpret it as a personal affront--the latest in a perceived string of slights and oversights. Since she's young, inexperienced, and cute, she's actually been coddled and spoiled and indulged both at her previous job (for a local 'Nut's operation) and since she got to the Café but the trouble with spoiling children is that they come to look at that treatment as the norm.

Anyhow, in her eyes, she was being mistreated. Everyone else was--wait for it--going on a company sponsored vacation and she was being left behind--and what was more unfair in her eyes was that her boyfriend would be on vacation without her.

In fact, she was so angry about this she announced she was going to quit her job, buy her own plane ticket to the city, and sit by the hotel pool, waiting on her boyfriend to be done with his work and come and party with her.

! (And !!)

Yes. She was prepared to throw away a stable job--in this economy and without real cause--for the chance of sitting outside the door of a convention for two days and hoping her boyfriend would be able to slip away from work for long enough to talk to her occasionally.

Because I am Not Smart, I did try to point out to her that working a conference is a far cry from her only experience of such functions, which was attending one as a guest. That it means long days, tiring work, boring conversations, and that the only sport involved was Extreme Exhaustion.

That it should mean something to her that all the people selected to go, including her boyfriend, were doing so reluctantly and only because it was being required.

That this should tell her something about the level of "fun" involved in working such a function.

Nothing I said got through to her. In fact, she went back to her desk and continued to fume until, in a temper tantrum worthy of a six year-old, she actually wound up storming out of the office in tears.

I spent the rest of yesterday afternoon being grateful--being oh, so incredibly grateful that I am neither 21 any more nor that, even when I was 21, had I ever made such an infantile exhibition of myself in the workplace.


*** The cause, you ask? CougarNot, who freely admitted that the laptop she brought in to the office had no virus protection software. That she uses no antivirus program at all at home. That she brought in the infected laptop and hooked it up to the network in spite of knowing there was a problem with it.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, April 11, 2011
A Bit H8y Today

You know what I hate? I hate when you're having a bad day and no one cares--not because they aren't nice people but because there's no one in your life who understands enough about what you're doing to empathize and offer help.

Sympathy is very nice, I'm sure, but it's not useful.

We did the big office re-org on Friday. I'm now sitting in a fishbowl with people yattering on the phones or to each other all around me. I can't think through all this racket.

I don't understand what I'm doing--can't figure out if I'm doing it right or wrong or if I should be doing something else entirely.

I'm thinking maybe it's time for a new "career choice" or something. (Okay, these accounts generated 44 leads in the first 10 days of 2010 and they've generated 140 so far this month, but that's not really proof that I'm not incompetent, is it?)

I've had so much new work dumped on me in the last two weeks--under-funded, under-managed Corral that my head is spinning. Half my biggest accounts are offline because the new company's cc company refused the charges. I tell people things using small, easy words and they still don't grasp what I'm saying and come back to me a week later, proudly displaying how they did something important completely incorrectly.

I think I'm going to have a video-conference tomorrow so I'll be able to work from home. That's one happy thing to look forward to. (Although? Video-conference? Ugh I look horrible on camera under the best of circumstances and webcams are anything but the best of circumstances.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:01 AM | Comments (2)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The weight of Being Nice to people all day long is wearing on me.

Hard to know for sure how much weight to give their opinions since none of them were on the Keepers list, but the Café employees I've had a chance to talk to aren't impressed with the BOWG. Apparently as the BOWG team has been calling up all the Argonuts Afield, they've passed uncomplimentary remarks about the way the Café has been Doing Things. The people responsible for much of that Doing are, understandably, ticked off.

There seem to be some other details about the sale--whose responsibility it would be to clean up, clear up, and straighten out some ongoing projects--that Those Apparently In The Know feel have been handled unfairly.

Me? I just sit here and do my job.

On a more exciting note, NewBoss Anais let me know that CEOJason is firming up a deal for her future employment. He wants her help with JasonWife's website and related advertising--if it goes through, she'll be the person I have to communicate with when I want them to change things. I am thrilled that it's going to be me who reaps the benefit of her last two years of intensive training in paid online marketing. Since I just spent two years teaching her how to understand what I say, I'm equally thrilled to be able to work with her and not have to start over with CEOJason. And, last but not least, I'm thrilled at the opportunity to keep working with someone who is really just an incredibly nice person.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

The Money Just Keeps Rolling In

Today I got two, count 'em, two bucks back from the staff's recent investment in the Big Lottery Speculation.

(Okay, we all had to chip in $5 originally, but I'd forgotten all about it. Just like I'd forgotten I spotted someone here $6 last week for a lunch burrito--a $6 that he repaid today.)

Also, the Café is paying out our last checks and our unused vacation time on Monday. The interim paycheck will be useful since the Corral is on a twice-a-month (5th & 20th) schedule.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Filled out the employment paperwork this afternoon and tried to pass it along to the wrong BOWG. Must watch that.

Received notice the new new pay takes effect on the official sale day which was Tuesday, so that's nice. Also received word that they're grandfathering in our tenure with the Argonuts so that we don't start as newbies on the vacation scale and stuff. Also nice.

The people I've met? Very nice.

But my personal time is my personal time. While giving them full credit for meaning well, I'm not best pleased to be told that the Corral Crew are taking their new-hires out to dinner tomorrow. If they want to buy us a meal, they should have lunch catered in on company time.


Other things are happening in my life.

I met with Bernie last week and we discussed that I am serious about the free-lance work and then we exchanged info on the client he has coming up. Brain too frazzled to deal with that this week, though.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Further Bulletin #4

The Café has been sold.

I countered their offer of a 15% 'increase' with a suggestion that 25% is a nice round number.

We shook on 25% (plus bonus plan TBD) and my employment will continue.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:30 PM | Comments (4)

Peter, Paul, & Mary and the Piggyback Corral

Well, it's still today. Although various members of the new company (hereinafter referred to as the Piggyback Coral) wandered back to my desk this morning and made a point of mentioning that they'd heard about me (!!).

Peter, Paul, and Mary each came back to eyeball me, with a couple of high-level groupies in tow. The Piggyback Corral certainly did us proud with a transition team. There are five or six of them. Even the Big Boss Albert introduced himself (although that was more accidental than not) and said how pleased he was that I was joining them. ! And, let me add, !!

I haven't had a chance to chat with Peter, my potential new boss, about their offer.

Without at least intending to be derogatory, let me start by mentioning (Mary aside, of course) that I've been seen such a homogenous group of B(ald) O(ld) W(hite) (G)uys as the senior management of the Corral. I spent 30 minutes talking face-to-face with one of them yesterday and this morning I can't quite remember which of the BOWG faces he was wearing.

I went to annoy NewBoss Anais, asking her if she'd sneak into accounting and double my ad budget quick before she left. She just laughed at me. Then we chatted for a while and I pointed out that since she's the only person in the office I ever speak to, having her leave will leave me in a solitary wasteland.

She's gonna miss me wandering into her office and being randomly weird at her. (Or, you know, not at all.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:10 PM | Comments (2)

Further Bulletin #3

The Café has been sold.

I forgot to add!

I met one of the other stayers in the parking garage this morning--the woman (previously introduced as Skylla) whose personal license allows us to actually do what we do--and she said she has rejected their offer. I don't know if she's negotiating or what, we got separated right about then, but if they don't get her, the value of this whole deal drops significantly.

Verrrry interesting.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

Further Bulletin #2

The Café has been sold. Offers have been made.

I got mine (after the face-to-face meeting with my potential new supervisor) yesterday afternoon. It was--less than impressive. Not overwhelming. More sort of whelming.

I mean, don't get me wrong, the idea of continued employment pleases me. I like a regular paycheck as much or more than the next person. That whole "eating and buying books" thing is very important to me.

On the other hand, don't offer to roll back the 15% pay cut imposed on me 12 months ago and expect me to turn cartwheels of joy over the increased income. I was grossly underpaid even before the pay cut--this job is easily worth $15k more than I was getting. My work directly provides something like 60% of the sales leads for the entire network of Café locations. I don't think it's unreasonable of me to want to be compensated accordingly.

Anyhow, I said straight out that I'd hoped for more money and that I had to think it over, took the packet, and said I'd sleep on it.


Further bulletins as events warrant.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:37 AM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Further Bulletin #1

Yes, the Café has been sold.

Of the remaining ten or twelve employees, only four or five are being asked to stay on.

One member of the management team (I'm sure it's a coincidence that it's the woman married to a man on the executive staff of the purchasing company), the individual who personally has the particular license we need to do business with other countries, Bert the IT/in-house sales guy, and the in-house sales department admin (odd choice but as someone suggested, maybe they've decided to keep someone to answer the phones). That's four. Oh, and me.

Offers will be made to the five of us--reportedly by the end of the day

Posted by AnneZook at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Cafe Kicked To Curb!

We bin sold. That rumor management was squashing so firmly last month was the rumor of reality.

Further bulletins as events warrant....

Posted by AnneZook at 11:35 AM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Nobody Cares

In 2009, in spite of losing both Gidget and Vela, two major sources of support and assistance in my job, the year ended with a 16.18% increase in leads.

In 2010, in spite of the total number of accounts I was managing dropping from 36 to 24, I produced a 57.69% increase in leads.

Overall, leads from all sources across the company only increased 4.69%, so I was pretty much the only stand-out success in the marketing arena over the last twelve months.

I told NewBoss Anais they should give me a big raise for that kind of performance (actually, I told her I thought they should double my salary) and she laughed and walked away.

The thing is, I wasn't entirely kidding. And I'm a bit aggravated, you know? It's not that I'm asking for more money to cover the way the cost of living increases monthly--so that my income actually remains stable in terms of buying power. Or that I'm asking to be compensated for doing the extra work I had to take on when they laid off half the staff two years ago.

No, I'm asking to be compensated because no matter how you measure it, I excelled this past year and I was pretty impressive even the year before when you consider I increased our leads in the middle of a depression.*

Remember the days when outstanding performance merited an increase?

All I've gotten is more work, a pay cut, a loss of 'real' income, a worse health care plan for a higher cost, and another year older.



* I hate hypocrisy. The media and the politicians can call it a recession, or even the Great Recession, all they want. It was George Bush's Depression.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 23, 2010
There they go

I just heard the (admittedly sparse) bulk of the Cafe's employees shouting about "beer-thirty" so clearly they're done with all pre-holiday work and are now ready to drink until 5:00.

I might have gone to join them in spite of my non-drinker status except that I'm busy downloading a virus removal program to combat the bug my PC (not the new toy, thankfully) picked up while I was trying to find a cheery holiday gif to email to the Cafe.

Although, maybe I should go ahead and join them. Based on how slowly the virus program is moving, it probably won't be ready to scan the pc for at least an hour.

My own fault. That's the second time I've picked up a nasty bug while on an image search of some kind. Never again will I go looking for a picture of any type.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:21 PM | Comments (3)

Friday, December 17, 2010
'Nut News Aggro

So, the newsletter files I'm supposed to have in my hands by no later than 5:00pm on Thursday showed up in my inbox at 3:00 on Friday.

13 articles, one of which is seven pages long. One graphic they want inserted in spite of my repeated reminders to them that they have elected not to buy the software I'd need to edit photos.

So, what do I do? Pull another miracle out of the hat and get it out today? Or, work at a reasonable speed and it can go out on Monday, which will serve them right because they swore they'd stop doing this to me.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:18 PM | Comments (4)

Monday, November 22, 2010
Here's the scenario

You have a job. Your job consists 100% of taking stacks of papers every day, reading the sticky notes on each of them, and taking the action required--from "confidential: file & forget!" to "copy to heads of departments only" to "make 10,000 copies and distribute world-wide." There is no identifiable pattern--only your boss knows why each piece of paper gets each label.

One day you're handed 100 pieces of paper by your boss who is leaving in the next ten seconds to climb a mountain in Tibet. One week. No phone, no computer, no contact.

A biiig gust of wind comes up in the night--scattering the papers and ripping off the sticky notes. A well-meaning passer-by picks up the papers and puts the sticky notes back on at random. When you arrive in the morning, they hand you the stack and explain what happened.

What are you going to do?

Nothing, you say, because anything you do could be catastrophically wrong?

There are three possible outcomes to that strategy:

Your boss returns with a pocketful of memos and reconstructs what you were supposed to do.
Your boss returns and says, "no harm, no foul, wipe the slate clean and we'll start over."
Your boss returns and says, "you're incompetent and unemployed."

I ask, because that's more-or-less where I am this week with Webstrainer. After a glitch at the end of last month (that affected only what we saw, not what was actually happening) they seem to be having another glitch in the last couple of days that affects what we see and, depending on who you talk to, could be having a drastic effect on what's actually happening.

I don't know what to do.

I could do nothing, I could respond to what I see, or I could try to have it both ways and do half of what the data I'm looking at suggests I should do, hoping against hope that the half I choose to do is the correct half.

I'd just take tomorrow off on the grounds that they shouldn't have to pay me to be here if I can't do anything worth doing, but I usually save my days off for doing freelance work and the same problem applies to those accounts.

I guess I could stay home and nurse my thumb and my foot and eat freezer food to make space for more cooking.

(Yes, this is why I've been so chatty today. Nothing else to do.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:09 PM | Comments (3)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
At A Loss

I don't really know what to do next, as far as my job is concerned. I mean, if my goal for the year was an overall click-through rate of 2.5% and the average today is 3.4%, and I was hoping for a 15% conversion rate (sales leads) and we're hovering around 25% right now--what do I do next? I'm not really well-equipped to handle success.*

I've been dinking with things. Splitting accounts up to try one thing with half the traffic and something different (usually new and interesting) with the other half. I've been messing with budgets and schedules and markets and whatnot.

I'm afraid to do too much of that sort of thing, in case I break whatever it is that's working at the moment. Traditionally, November is the lowest revenue month of the year for the 'Nuts, but unless they drop the ball, that's not looking to hold true this year.

Ideally, what I want is double what I'm getting at the moment, in terms of actual leads. I like what we're getting, I just want a lot more of it. However, since the odds of convincing the various 'Nuts to double their spend are fairly slim, I'm at a bit of a loss for how to produce those results.**

I could think about lunch, of course. When packing up the box this morning, I eyed the remaining serving of Chicken Mash-Up dubiously, then disposed of it. So, today's Bento*** Experiment consists of carrots, pea pods, and broccoli, with some ('lite') Caesar dressing for dipping, steamed yam chunks, three (smallish) onigiri, and gargantuan grapes. So, I'm doing well when it comes to a variety of things in the box, but this first week hasn't been a success in terms of variety from one day to another. (A large part of this came about from my desire to stop having to eat the same boring things in the same boring way, every day, all week.)

It doesn't have to be Japanese or Chinese, of course. Once I've solved the rice ball problem, I'll probably move on to new things, but first I intend to master sticky rice that sticks less to me and more to itself. The Magic Perfect Rice Cooker mentioned in the comments--I feel it coming over me. I'm going to try to convince the R.C. that a trip to Sur La Table this weekend is a really good idea.****

Moving on, though. Barbecued chicken strips would work, as would beef-and-mushrooms. Potato soup or vegetable-beef soup are both always options. (I'd have to solve the bowl problem. I need a small enough bowl and it has to be microwaveable and have a leak-proof lid.) (Yes, I do own such bowls now, but they're really big. And, yes, I could carry the soup separately and not in the Bento Box, but that sort of defeats the purpose of the whole game, doesn't it?)

You can tell I'm bored at work this week, can't you? All I talk about is lunch. Lunch is not usually the high point of my day. It's the thing I do at 1:00 or 2:15 when I abruptly realize that nourishment is not an option, it's an essential.

Maybe I'll go break something in the campaigns, so I have something to do.


* Among other things, it's boring. After the first thirty seconds of self-congratulation and ego-stroking, there's nothing to do.

** Lowering costs is the obvious answer, so we can afford more without a bigger financial investment. Which means improving quality scores, which means writing ads. Writing ads is boring. Surely there is an easier path to success than developing the ability to be compelling and convincing in 25 characters or less? I am not pithy. I am not succinct. Ask me for a "summary" of something and I'll hand you four pages.

*** It's always fun how much changing your terminology can change your perception of something, isn't it? I mean, who'd care if I blogged about a lunch box or brown bag experiment? No one, not even me. But name it Bento and suddenly I'm amused.

**** I also need some of those silicone "baking" cups - not for baking but so that I can freeze portion-sized amounts of various dishes. Then I could have variety every day in the week by just selecting different things from the freezer.

Once again, the destruction of the planet caused by me using and tossing half a roll of plastic wrap every week concerns me but I'm certain that I can find more (I have two) freezable/microwaveable portion-sized containers if I just look hard enough.

I did find almost the sort of thing at an awfully good price (27 cents each!) but it's a bulk supply company and I can't see needing 100, which is what it would take to make up the $25 minimum.

Hey! The R.C. and I have about twenty of these, leftover from when we had to carefully measure out small portions for the diet! Honestly, I had no idea they were microwaveable!

Posted by AnneZook at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Service Interruption (I'm A H8ter from H8terville)


Sorry about the temporary blog disappearance to those of you who noticed it. I had thought it was due to a server problem but it turns out that not only does my personal odometer roll over to a new year in November, all of my online life does the same.

Anyhow. I've taken care of the blog(s) hosting, the domain names, the email, and the phone so I should remain connected in the foreseeable future.

Not much new at the moment. Just finished month-end reporting and I'm letting my brain disintegrate.

I emailed NewBoss Anais yesterday with the good news that the Café experienced a surge of leads last month, breaking our old record (July, 2008) for the most leads generated in a single month.

Today, I issued a retraction. (Added the same data in twice on one spreadsheet.) Sigh.

Last month was still in the Top Five for highest-ever lead generation, but that's not really the same as breaking a record, is it?


I spent yesterday redoing month-end numbers again. I think we have it right now. It takes an extra hour or two since I have to cross-reference everything manually, but I think we're now getting a better sense for how many leads we actually get and where they wind up at in the end.

If they don't shut off that heat vent above my desk, I'm going to scream, rip off my clothes, and dive into the water cooler.

I've decided not to work any more this week. Possibly this month. It's all just too much for me these days.

I was okay when a campaign consisted of words (and blocking words) and ads for one, two, or three audiences. People clicked. Or, not.

If not, you tried different words or a different ad until you got clicks in high enough numbers.

Then you knocked off for coffee and self-congratulation.

Now I have to consider the original written leads, and also phone calls and clicks that come because of physical location (map) listings or because of add-on links in the ads (with two pages you can view the data on and the two pages never show the same results and even if you take the optimistic set of stats, you can't reference them back into the campaign and know what it is that actually worked), and data that's showing searches on word fragments instead of words as lazy searchers don't bother to finish typing in their phrase once they seen an ad that sort of looks like what they want.

Today I realized that the other new feature that others were complaining about in September (when I was so busy) really is a problem since it really is pushing ads up/down/around/off the page, making it just a tiny bit difficult for anyone to click on the ads and consequently making it just a tiny bit difficult for any of us to maintain the threshold click-through rates Webstrainer demands we maintain.

In the meantime, Webstrainer decided that a centralized reporting system was--god knows what they thought it was, but they decided to eliminate it and now if you want reports, you have to click through half a dozen possible tabs, change the on-screen view, add data via additional "segments," download it, and delete several columns worth of meaningless data (they seemed to feel that we all needed a constant reminder of what time zone we're in) that they have, inexplicably, hard-coded into many of the new reports. I timed myself over the past few days and I seem to be spending at least 36% more time formatting reports than I am actually working with the data when I can finally see it.

Also Webstrainer is offering a new metric that supposedly allows us to compare our campaigns against the performance of our competitors but I can't get anyone to tell me precisely what this data is based on so I don't know what to do with it all.

So. I'm on strike.

I have reached a point where my brain, arguably the size of a planet*, albeit a small--even microscopic one--is no longer able to take in this data and make sense of it.

I don't know what anything means any more, but I'm afraid to go back to just paying attention to the bits I used to understand for fear the new stuff that I'm ignoring turns out to be actually more important.

Did I mention that the National 'Nuts (the sales department that covers parts of the country where the Café doesn't have a physical location) moved back to my half of the office a few weeks back? Talking, laughing, playing videos--they seem to be enjoying themselves.

I mean, they say they're swamped with calls, but I almost never hear them on the phone.

They can be a little distracting.

I don't have any friends. If I had a friend, they'd go here with me. And we'd eat all of this.

I'm very crabby today. I just finished dumping frustration and aggravation all over two forums and this blog is the only place left online that I can allow myself to post to again today.

Also, tomorrow is my birthday and I am old.


* No reference to Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy can possibly be gratuitous. Even if it's not true.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:03 PM | Comments (4)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Bye, Bye Birdie!

(I've never seen that movie.)

Having a little crisis today.

It happens to me periodically--I take my head out of the sand for long enough to evaluate my position in relation to the rest of reality and realize that I have no idea what I'm doing.

I'm staring at all of these campaigns and wondering--am I making things better or am I just flurrying around, substituting activity for achievement? What should I do? How do you make things better? Which of the fifteen sets of statistics are the ones that really matter? Should I pay more attention to costs or to results? Do I rely too much on bid increases to produce performance?

I can't answer those questions. This worries me. (Obviously it would worry me more if I didn't know that I'm prone to paralysis-inducing second-guessing of my own every move from time to time*.)

I have 78 hours worth of PTO accumulated. I need to take a few days off before the end of the year, to avoid losing hours, and I'm thinking maybe a day of that should be fairly soon. I need to have a day or two where I don't think about this stuff at all. Get a little balance back--gain some perspective, you know?

Other than that, life has been uneventful, if you don't count my car singing to me on the way to work this morning.**

After the September I had, I'm cautious about inviting the universe to shower me with more 'things to do' but I don't regret having gone to that holiday show last weekend. There were any number of pieces of jewelry I could have purchased. It's hard to keep reminding yourself to think about if you need something or just want it.

I did let myelf have some interesting dip mixes that I'm mixing with light cream cheese (softened and thinned with a little milk) and using to spice up my lunchtime baked potatoes. Fewer calories than sour cream and butter and more flavor.***

Purchases around food almost always make me happy and it's getting to that time of year anyhow. I always feel more like cooking in the fall and winter. (Maybe because it's not such a problem that the oven heats up the apartment.) I feel some soups and stews coming on.

I've been on a roasted veggies, especially squash, kick recently--need to do that again.

Maybe even an actual roast, something I haven't bothered with in the last five or six years. (I like the meat okay, don't get me wrong, but what I really love are the potatoes and carrots I cook in with it.)

Why am I talking about food? I don't know. Because I'm avoiding looking at those campaigns until my Inner Critic shuts up and goes away?

Or, maybe I should stop and have lunch?


* Some day, the English language is going to rise up and slay me, isn't it?


** Seriously! I was sitting at the first red light and wondering where that bird was that sounded so loud. I was sitting at the second red light, wondering if it was some weird gizmo on the car behind me that was tweeting and chirruping. I was sitting at the third red light when I decided that, (a) it really was a bird, and (b) I should roll down the back window to let it escape because the noise was clearing coming both from behind me and from inside the car.

How a bird got into my car, I can't tell you. I'm assuming it was a bird and that it escaped when I rolled down the back window, but I was busy driving and watching traffic, so who knows? I didn't hear any more birdcalls after that, that's all I know.

I've had geese on the balcony and a bewildered pigeon in my bedroom, but I think that's the first for a bird in my car.


*** I learned that from the Hungry Girl(tm, but not mine) cookbooks. One tends to pour on the high-calorie toppings as a matter of habit, but it doesn't take many experiments to prove that higher-flavor, lower-calorie toppings actually make your taste buds dance more.

My new summer favorite

- Buy some mixed greens (or, if you're budget-conscious, a head of iceberg lettuce and a handful of higher-flavor, nutrient-filled fresh spinach leaves).
- Top with some chopped tomato, black beans, chopped onion (I like the sweet, red ones), and maybe some shredded low-fat cheese
- Don't be afraid to slice up an avocado and add it to the mix. High-fat, yes, but these are good fats.
- Grab your favorite salsa bottle instead of the salad dressing and presto! It's a taco salad, minus the 500-calorie fried shell.

And you're saving more calories than you know. Most of us, in all innocence, pour an additional 500 calories of salad dressing on our salads. Trading in that 100-calorie tablespoon of salad dressing for a 15-calorie tablespoon of salsa means you can eat yourself stupid (should the urge take you that way) without guilt.

This fall I'm all about the turkey sandwich.

- I buy either the 100-calorie whole wheat sandwich buns or 100-calorie whole wheat wraps.
- Low-fat Havarti or some other mild, white low-fat cheese (Swiss works well), cucumber, and red onion (if you like it).
- Thin-sliced good deli (not the icky packaged stuff) turkey. Or, buy a breast, pre-cooked or otherwise and (after cooking) get yourself a thinnish slice. .
- Chop your tomatoes, onions, and cucumber and put in a covered refrigerator bowl. (I make enough for four or five sandwiches at once, to save time. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or so (it takes less than you think) of powdered ranch dressing mix. Mix. Refrigerate for at least an hour, so the ingredients get a chance to know each other a little.
- Open bread. Add cheese. Toast/melt if desired. Add turkey. Spread generously with flavor-rich veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Eat without shame. The entire sandwich is less than 300 calories.

Honestly, I rarely bother with the ranch dressing mix. The cucumbers and chopped red onion add more than enough flavor, with some freshly ground pepper, all on their own. Also, for a wrap, chopped veggies work better. For a sandwich bun, you'll want to slice them instead.

Snack! Where would we be without snacks? Roasted veggies are yummy, warming, filling, and nearly guilt-free.

- I start with yams, butternut squash, and maybe zucchini, along with my favorite red onion. (I'm not an eggplant fan or a bell pepper fan. If you are, feel free to add those. Beets also work well, as do firmer varieties of tomatoes.)
- Peel veggies as/if needed.
- Cut the softer veggies into 1-1/2" or so chunks. (If you've gotten all adventurous and you're including, for instance, acorn squash, cut those pieces smaller since they'll cook more slowly.)
- Cut a couple of generous 1/2" - 1" slices of onion.
- Cover cookie sheet or shallow baking pan with tinfoil. Spray lightly with olive or cooking oil. Lightly.
- Arrange veggies (except onion) in single layer, not touching. (If you crowd them, they'll get soggy instead of crispy.) Add some salt and freshly ground black pepper. I sprinkle a tiny amount of garlic powder on as well. Add the onion. (I add it last because onion really doesn't need garlic powder.)
- Spray the tops of the veggies very lightly with your olive or cooking oil.
- Bake in 350-375 over for about 20 minutes. Turn the veggies over. Cook another 20 minutes or so--however long it takes them to get soft inside and a little crispy outside.

I have a friend who sprinkles on balsamic vinegar instead of the garlic powder. That's also good, but I have trouble doing that. I always get sploshes instead of sprinkles. (What I need is one of those chef-style glass sprayers, isn't it?)

Ditto for roasted potato fries, by the way. You can French-fry slice potatoes and yams and follow the recipe as above (skipping the garlic unless you're a big fan). Cook about 10 minutes (for French-fry size/shaped pieces), turn over and cook until done, about another 5-10 minutes.

I always think the big difference between roasted veggies and fried ones is largely the amount of oil. What you want here is just barely enough to help the veggies crust over a trifle. Then you get French fries, or sweet potato fries, with 1/3 or 1/2 the calories they'd have from a fast food restaurant. (Bonus! Yams! They're orange, you know. That means you get Health Food Points from eating them.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:14 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, October 15, 2010
Killmenow (again)

This stupid newsletter remains the bane of my existence.

The stupid email provider has introduced a buggy new interface. They also seem to be having server problems today. I've been working for three hours to code a newsletter that can't be more than 1,500 words long.

Also? In my next life, I want to live on a planet where people unable to write in their native language as though it is their native language are prohibited from writing.

Or, maybe, locked up somewhere dark.

I tried. I honestly did. I told them that this one paragraph as much as said that standing on stage with the CEO took brave volunteers. They said they knew what they meant and to send it out that way.

So, I did.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:17 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
And now I'm all pissy

Some days, you're just sort of out of sync with the world, you know?

First, I got dissed by someone on the Webstrainer forum--another of Mother's Little Helpers got snotty with me when I pointed out that nagging (I didn't use that word) for a progress report every two weeks was counter-productive when you'd been told, clearly and repeatedly, that it was a project that would take months--not weeks--to complete.

This individual has always given me that feeling--you know the one--the one that says that even though you only "know" each other from a public forum, they don't actually like you.

I dislike them now, as well. I always dislike people who push aggressively to get themselves awarded public recognition. The forum is a volunteer gig--if you think you're entitled to some kind of medal for hanging out there, you're quite wrong and should shut up and go away.*

Anyhow. He dissed me. I checked myself over carefully but aside from a minor feeling of irritation that a grown man (I've seen a picture) could be so childish as to behave in that way on a public forum, I found myself undamaged.

Then Newboss Anais came over with the Argonut Assembly schedule--the timetable for the annual meeting. (Did I mention that? It happens every 18 months or so and is happening in mid-September this year.) It seems that with less than a dozen in-house Café employees left to make a show, they can't give me a bye this time** and I'm on tap for the whole affair.

That means from "after work" on Thursday until 9 or 10pm (or whenever I can sneak out).

From 8:00 am on Friday until 5:00 pm. (I turned down the offer of a free! ($10) ticket to an optional event, a baseball game Friday night.)

8:00 am on Saturday through the dinner and big party--say 10:00pm (or sooner if, again, I can sneak out).

A meeting I don't care about with people I don't like at 9:00 am on Sunday until 1:00. Then helping with the clean-up until whenever that's done.

My actual part in the festivities, for the record, runs from 2:00 on Friday to 4:30 on Friday. 2-1/2 hours. The other 30+ hours I'm basically just window dressing. Part of the crowd scene. I'm one of the Noises Off.

NewBoss Anais kept assuring me how interesting I'd find it all--with that shamefaced look people get when they have to make you do something stupid and they would rather not but they have to.

For the record, aside from firmly declining to be treated to a baseball game I could not care less about seeing, I was cooperative, even amiable about it all.

I didn't fuss or mutter or roll my eyes or indulge in any of the other childish behaviors I'm prone to*** when I'm being made to do something I don't want to do.

I also declined to be paid for the hours.

Yes, seriously.

With what I'm earning an hour at this place these days, what difference would it make? Based on my recent experience with the bonus, it would all be eaten up in extra taxes, anyhow. I'm on salary, too. I don't think NewBoss Anais realized it but you really can't pay salaried people for extra hours.****

I got, instead, something of much more interest to me--a couple of comp days. I plan to use them getting caught up on the freelance work I won't be doing while I'm making like a stage prop.


I'm awfully glad that Rapunzel and Pippi are coming to town before the Assembly. I won't have to worry about being too tired to have any fun!


* I know I'm in the minority on this one. Most people seem to be very keen on awards and medals and recognition.

I'm not unusually modest or anything. I'm actually highly egotistical. There are maybe a handful of people in the world whose good opinion I value. Other than them, my opinion is the only one that matters to me. I certainly can't be bothering with the opinions of the five billion nitwits on the planet.

(I also have an abiding suspicion that people who tell me I'm wonderful are just too stupid, or too nice, to know better, or be honest.)

I also think that "recognition" you have to force out of people instead of it being a spontaneous gesture of appreciation is hardly worth having.

** Last year my attendance was limited to one day and a dinner that evening and even that felt interminable, in spite of me leaving the dinner table to "step down the hall" and taking myself home instead.

*** It's different. My desk is not a public internet forum.

**** If they pay you, then it means you're hourly, not salaried, and they can't work you more than 40 hours a week without paying you extra and I'm a moron because I just realized that 34 hours of extra salary might actually have been worth having not to mention the idea that in the future I could, with a clear conscience, work a 40-hour week and then walk away from it regardless of what was left undone. Except that I wouldn’t and there's no reason pretending I would.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:25 PM | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sabotage! (I'm so boring)

Late last week, NewBoss Anais noticed that the candy bowl was getting low and brought in a bag o'treats for refilling it. I told her that wasn't necessary--that I was willing to pay for the candy and that I didn't mind that others were eating it because that's why I put it there.

The candy others like is not usually the candy I like. That's why I can keep it at my desk--the 'popular' stuff is rarely tempting to me. NewBoss Anais did ask me what I like, so I explained that I generally only eat Dove dark chocolate Promises and that keeping the bowl full of them would cost a fortune (not to mention making me fat).

When she brought the bag of bowl candy, she brought me a Dove dark chocolate Promise bar as well.

She brought me a latte a couple of days later, just for no reason.

I've never had a boss who was so thoughtful.

It's weird.

Today, the back of my head (you know the part I mean--the part that's never interested in what's going on right now but is always off on some tangent of its own) has been pondering decorating.

When and if The Gidget Co ever actually turns into a working concern, I'll be moving over there full-time. However, me being me, I'm not that excited about the idea of 'working from home.' I like having an office to come to.* I find the office ambience appropriate. A 'work' desk and the horrible fluorescent lighting and the bad coffee--all of it--spells 'work' to my brain. I can be productive--amazingly productive--working from home for a day or two on a special project, but for the day-to-day slog, you can't beat the familiar office environment.

When The Gidget Co gets going and is making us all rich, I'm going to want some kind of 'office' space.

I've been musing over the little studio apartments our complex has. I could walk to work, always an attractive idea. I don't really need 400 feet for an office just for me, but that includes the kitchen and the bathroom--both necessities. What's left is probably just enough to stave off claustrophobia.

In my imagination, I've been decorating one of them up to use as an office. Desks, bookcases, computer, coffee pot. The default carpeting in the complex is a horrible sort of beige that's perfect for an office. I have books that need to be on an office bookshelf. I plan to have desk space separate from the computer desk--sometimes you have papers you need to spread out. I want a giant white board for large-scale thinking and to accommodate my lousy handwriting. A smaller one for appointments and such. (As a rule, I don't appoint.)

I have a rich imaginary life.

I was sitting here working on a new 'Nut campaign that's not performing up to my expectations, and inspecting various imaginary lamps for the one that best-suited my imaginary décor when NewBoss Anais came by with news.

Sadly, what with one thing and another (mostly, I'm assuming the new website), we turned a profit last quarter. Not only that, but we exceeded our target/budget for the quarter.

That means I'm actually getting a bonus with Friday's paycheck. A significant one--running into four digits.

They're making it very difficult to leave this place.


* I also like being able to leave my work at the end of a work day.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:39 AM | Comments (4)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The causes are varied.

#1 - My trusty thumb drive, the one with a ton of invaluable whatnot about my freelance work on it, died on me last week. Since I hadn't copied over the data since the end of April, I'm missing 60 days worth of information--some of it pretty significant. Sigh.

That's the aggravation that's really been preying on my mind the for the last week.

#2 - Due to circumstances beyond my control (sometimes you have to just be at peace with the idea of interruptions) (disinterest and disinclination were also factors) I haven't done much to manage the 'Nut campaigns in the last couple of weeks. I ran one reports this morning and there are red flags all over the place. Fortunately, it's the busy season right now, so I'm not getting enraged phone calls, but I'm determined to spend the next three days getting caught up. Sigh.

Only three days, though, because after that I have to do month-end reporting.

#3 - I've been in the middle of a project of trying to get my bedroom actually organized and tidy. (I believe I droned on about the dumping of that last plastic bookcase a few months ago.) What I need now are two more of the more expensive wood bookcases, but having just spent $900 on a new mattress, I'm having trouble giving myself permission to go ahead and buy them, so I can move ahead with the project.

- #3a - But there's a different bookcase that I saw this weekend that attracted me and I'm thinking of getting it instead. The shelves fold up when they're empty. That would be very useful on the bottom--it would make cleaning under it much easier, no need to completely unload the thing and try to move it--just empty the one shelf. I really like that idea. Sadly, I don't like the look of that bookcase nearly as much, and I'm not at all convinced it won't look cheap and nasty next to my other one.

I'll probably stick with my original selection and keep using a long-handled gizmo to get under them, but the image of myself just flipping the shelf up and swizzing the vacuum cleaner into the space lingers on.

- #3b - Part of the Great Room Reorganization is the Great Closet Clear-out. I'm shocked and astonished to have to report that I actually found another giant garbage bag full of "stuff" to throw out this past weekend. I'm long past understanding where it's all coming from.

#4 - Bernie still refuses to be fired. I billed him a week or so ago for the first few weeks of the work with the Funhouse gang and he paid me - I got a check on Friday. Since I used to work for him, I know that he normally pays invoices only on the 10th! His promptness this time was very suspicious.

I did almost no freelance work this weekend. I had intended to do a number of things, but Residual Aggro over the behavior of the Funhouse gang left me largely disinclined. (Also, yes, I got all distracted by cleaning, laundry, and throwing out trash, all of which I did in a big way. I think I can now officially declare Spring Cleaning as done. I can honestly say that that apartment--at least, the parts of it I'm responsible for cleaning--has not been this clean in a couple of years. Clearing out some clutter so I could get to various nooks and crannies to clean them was very satisfying.)

#5 - I bought some new jeans a while back--maybe six weeks ago. I may have to throw them away. In spite of repeated washings, they smell. They're fine in the washer and when they come out of the dryer, but then a few hours later there's a weird smell--the R.C. thinks it's like gasoline, but it smells like fireworks (gunpowder) to me. I searched around online--a number of people have posted about this in the last five years and the general consensus is that it gets less obnoxious in a few years, but never really goes away.*

Last night I got my PJs out of the closet where they'd been hanging next to the jeans and I realized that the PJs had picked up Smell from the jeans.

I'm really not comfortable going around smelling.

#6 - When I arrived at the office this morning, I immediately noticed that all the doors have fancy new deadbolts on them. (Must remember to get a key.) Clearly that conversation I overhead a week or so ago, between two people from a different office suite, about breaking in to offices was not just random chat. If that's what happened, it's the second break-in this building has had in the last two or three months.

It's sort of peculiar--there are no retail or cash-based businesses in the building and no pharmaceutical offices of any kind. I can't figure out what someone would break into this building for. If there had been wholesale removal of, for instance, computer equipment, I'm sure word would have gotten around, but I haven't head anything like that. (In fact, I've heard nothing--I hate it when there are Unusual Happenings and I'm left in the dark.)

It's possible, of course, that this is related to the previous d-e-a-t-h threat event.

4:00 p.m. update

For anyone who cares? #2, above? I got through 3 campaigns today.

What prevented me from working today, you ask?

30 minutes lost to a follow-up project from last week's issue of the 'Nut News.

An 11:30 lunch I forgot I promised to attend (Obligatory Coworker Bonding) that I got free from at 1:15.

Then a 2:00 conference call--I appeared on time and waited 15 minutes, only to be told it was being rescheduled to 2:30. At 2:30 it was rescheduled to 3:30. At 3:30 one guy dialed in and chatted about his personal life until 4:00 when he and NewBoss Anais decided the remaining participant wasn't going to appear and we' d have to reschedule it for tomorrow.


* No one knew the cause, although the obvious culprit is the particular dye being used. Personally, I suspect some sekrit government project to experiment on us all. Or, you know. some kind of border fumigation/extermination process.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:02 PM | Comments (6)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Just. Too. Much. 2

I am having far too much life these days.

'Nutwise, we continue to suspect serious problems with data collection for the new websites. Unfortunately, the guy primarily responsible for the code is off on his honeymoon, so all we can do is to collect questions until he returns. Things are going to the wrong place, winding up in the home office because the system can't figure out where else to send them, or seeming to disappear into thin air before magically reappearing hours later.

I'm helpless without the reporting tools I need. Things might look wrong, but if I can't get the data I need, I have no way of figuring out if they are wrong. This is a very seasonal business. Are the performance changes we're seeing related to seasonality or are we a disaster ticking toward total meltdown?

I really don't want to think about it.

Also 'Nutwise, me taking on the Ontarians campaign has proven to be a problematic suggestion, involving political and financial complications I was previously unaware of.

Because the 'corporate' office for our northernmost neighbors found it easier to pay for the advertising themselves than to convince the Ontarians 'Nuts to kick in, the individual Ontarians have come to view lead generation as SEP. They expect a magic flow of free and constant leads.

Because said corporate office is now tired of funding the advertising, they're reluctant to keep paying.* They want us to take it on (and, not incidentally, make the Ontarians pay for their own advertising from now on).

Because the whole northern set-up is quasi-independent, we don't make as much revenue from the Ontarians as we do from the Stateside 'Nuts, under the best of circumstances. That means we will need to charge a slightly higher campaign management fee for the Ontarians than we charge the Stateside 'Nuts. This is a problematic suggestion to a group of people who aren't even paying for their own leads, much less for campaign management.

But--and this is where the migraines start--the new website structure means the Ontarians campaign is now driving traffic to the Café's .com website, instead of the original .ca website. That means that their poor quality scores and poor campaign performance are, for the first time, having an impact on what I do. A very unsavory one. The campaign cannot be left as it is. Someone has to start actually managing it.

I've had little or no time for routine campaign management for my own 35 campaigns in the last 30 days. Website issues and other 'Nut-related projects are taking up almost all my time. I logged in and glanced at a few campaigns yesterday and found my own quality scores in the basement, headed toward the sewer. (The affect of the Ontarian campaign now sharing our domain name, yes.)

I really don't want to think about it.

In the land o'Bernie, I haven't heard from him in two days. That's fine. I spent all weekend trying to explain to him that this account was doomed before we started, because of the client's "I don't know what I'm doing but do it my way anyhow" approach and I'm still not sure I got through to him. Now that the entire account is garbage, he's convinced the client to stand back and let me manage it--with the unexpressed but clearly implicit assumption that any failure from here on out can be blamed on me.

I haven't touched his campaigns since Sunday--just didn't need to be depressed that badly--but I do plan to glance at them today. I have my fingers crossed that some of Sunday's massive changes are producing performance improvement--no matter how minor. The campaign was pretty much in the sewer, so any change in performance would almost have to be an improvement.

I really don't want to think about it.

I had little time to manage Gidget's campaigns this past weekend. Haven't really heard from her this week (or last) that much, either. A few requests for data that I pulled and emailed. Must find time to see/chat with her this week. She wanted me to set up a lunch date with DiamondGirl, but neither my work day nor my brain are leaving me the freedom to do that at the moment.


* Also, their campaign is appalling. The first commandment of campaign management is, "Thou shalt not leave a campaign unmanaged." As far back as I bothered to check the data, they've been breaking that one almost daily.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

Friday, June 11, 2010
'Nuttery Updates

It's so nice to be back at work (Hah!) Even CEOJason made an effort to speak to me Monday, not only thanking me for the special candy bar I bought him before I left town, but saying that sales dropped off 50% the week I was out of the office (by way of indicating my importance).

No one asked me about Las Vegas, though. NewBoss Anais asked if I had fun on my "week off" is all. No one else mentioned it at all. I was gone for a week. Maybe no one noticed?

I want to blog the fun, and I will, with back-dated posts, but in the meantime I'm getting behind on blogging current drama.

Continue reading "'Nuttery Updates"
Posted by AnneZook at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, May 28, 2010
The Technology Two-Step

Still doin' it. Two steps forward, one step back. Cuss and repeat.

After reloading all the Nut ads Tuesday (a "hard bounce" for each campaign"), I was told later that same afternoon that the absence of a closing slash / at the end of each URL was giving the fancy new software a migraine, so I reloaded (hard bounced) everything again.

Wednesday morning, I was reminded of a conversation I had with someone on March 25 and the casual decision I seem to have made (and promptly forgot) to put some special 'stuff' at the end of each URL for the new web pages to track campaign traffic a certain way. I've already hard-bounced about a third of the campaigns a third time. Webstrainer is so going to hate me.

I mean, I'd give it a pass and add this 'stuff' gradually over the next month, which would be easier on the campaigns, but NewBoss Anais is desperately anxious to see good results from her nearly year-long quest to get these new pages live (which is fair) and the 'stuff' in question captures about 70% of our data results so I'm going to hard-bounce the remainder of the campaigns tomorrow--under the theory that a long weekend is a better time to rearrange the universe yet again.

Also, I have a weird rash on my arms that's 99% likely to be dry skin as the result of over-exfoliating under the theory that if a little is good, a lot must be fabulous. It's not contagious and not spreading, but it's very unsightly.

I did not manage to fight off the determination of Bernie's newest client to make me rush through loading the Dollar Funhouse's Funhouse campaign--didn't have to. They decided on their own to let it wait a couple of weeks.

What they decided to do instead was demand that I load an entirely new campaign--one I have neither researched nor prepared. I lost the battle on that one, so that's my Saturday morning project (aside from hard-bouncing the rest of the 'Nut campaigns.)

A few minutes ago, Fun Bobby dropped copies of a notice from the office building's management company on everyone's desks. It seems that a client of one of the financial companies renting a suite on the first floor of the building has threatened to come back to the building with a gun and kill her and a lot of other people.

At this point, a bucket-load of stress has invited massive anxiety over and they're holding a party with a lot of tension. All over my nervous system.

I so want a vacation.

(Wait! I'm taking one! Cannot wait.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Up to My Ass in Alligators

That's a colorful colloquialism that deserves wider usage. It's so apt.

I, myself, have been UtMYiA for the last week or so.

First, the final push to get the new 'Nut website live. I think I blogged (using my alternate persona of a h8r) about that last time. Mostly minor squabbles with the design company. Yes, do we want what we asked for. No, it is not okay if we do not get what we asked for. Yes, we do need our data. No, we do not need to justify to you why we need our data. Yes, we need the functionality we contracted for. No, doing without that functionality is not okay. In the end, we got most of what we needed with the rest "coming soon." Sheesh.

NewBoss Anais showed up at my desk at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, saying happily that the company was ready to go at that moment.

Since I've been making it Very Clear Indeed that redirecting the ad URLs for all of the campaigns was something I needed 8 hours to do (and that was not something that could be done a week or two in advance), I was less than thrilled. Of course, I dropped everything and worked on it for the next two hours, logged in late yesterday evening and worked on it, then came in today and worked through the rest of it, eventually getting it all done at 10:30 this morning, but still. (I had time to do everything but double-check the URLs. I'm activating them now and hoping for the best.)

Then we flipped the switch and it was time for link-testing. On the section of pages I was assigned to test, the first six pages I clicked on each popped an error message. That inspired a great deal of confidence, I promise you.

After 30 minutes of testing, when I realized that none of the test submission forms I was creating were going through, I was even more impressed by the designers' competency. (Our initial email of inquiry was met with, "I dunno. It worked when I tried it a different way in a different environment." So professional.)

Then, of course, there's Bernie. The Freethinker's campaign isn't live, I'm not sure where we are with that one, but the other one (which I've now decided to identify as the Dollar Funhouse) is raring to go. The Dollar Funhouse actually consists of two separate products. One is the Dollar, the other is the Funhouse.

Bernie emailed me on Friday that they wanted the Dollar to go live this Wednesday and to email him over the weekend (he knows I work mostly weekends) with any questions. I sat down on Saturday morning, did as much as I could do, sent Bernie my questions, and didn't hear back from him until Monday. I had a big tired on yesterday evening, from all the 'Nuttery, so I didn't get it done.

Reminder to self: I need to email and let him know I'm out of town all next week and that the Funhouse can't go live until some time after I get back to town.

In the midst of this, a client of Gidget's is abruptly ready to have their campaign go live. They want it live--wait for it--yes--Wednesday! Since I have received none of the information I need to actually create a campaign (audience, services, budget, etc.), Gidget promised to send me all of it today so I could build the campaign tonight.

As it happens, this client is a Special Category, I can load the campaign, but I'm at Webstrainer's mercy when it comes to getting the ads to show. I'll file for an exemption, but if Doittoit (Worst. Nickname. Ever.) does not, in Webstrainer's eyes, qualify as Legitimate Business, there may be trouble. There shouldn't be any problem--they are legit and I see similar businesses being advertised, but who knows?

I'm a little grouchy, yes. I watch television one evening a week--Tuesday evening. Between building campaigns, loading campaigns, and checking 'Nut campaigns to see how the new pages are performing, tonight is going to be hell.

I was going to blog about the party I attended on Sunday and the seminar I attended last week and the new books I bought (work-related) and my upcoming vacation, but I've already spent more time on this post than I really had to spare today. We have a couple of Prospective 'Nuts coming in for a meeting to learn All About Internet Marketing at 8:00 tomorrow morning, and I really need to do some prep work.

Up to My Ass in Alligators

Posted by AnneZook at 02:47 PM | Comments (2)

Up to My Ass in Alligators

That's a colorful colloquialism that deserves wider usage. It's so apt.

I, myself, have been UtMYiA for the last week or so.

First, the final push to get the new 'Nut website live. I think I blogged (using my alternate persona of a h8r) about that last time. Mostly minor squabbles with the design company. Yes, do we want what we asked for. No, it is not okay if we do not get what we asked for. Yes, we do need our data. No, we do not need to justify to you why we need our data. Yes, we need the functionality we contracted for. No, doing without that functionality is not okay. In the end, we got most of what we needed with the rest "coming soon." Sheesh.

NewBoss Anais showed up at my desk at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, saying happily that the company was ready to go at that moment.

Since I've been making it Very Clear Indeed that redirecting the ad URLs for all of the campaigns was something I needed 8 hours to do (and that was not something that could be done a week or two in advance), I was less than thrilled. Of course, I dropped everything and worked on it for the next two hours, logged in late yesterday evening and worked on it, then came in today and worked through the rest of it, eventually getting it all done at 10:30 this morning, but still. (I had time to do everything but double-check the URLs. I'm activating them now and hoping for the best.)

Then we flipped the switch and it was time for link-testing. On the section of pages I was assigned to test, the first six pages I clicked on each popped an error message. That inspired a great deal of confidence, I promise you.

After 30 minutes of testing, when I realized that none of the test submission forms I was creating were going through, I was even more impressed by the designers' competency. (Our initial email of inquiry was met with, "I dunno. It worked when I tried it a different way in a different environment." So professional.)

Then, of course, there's Bernie. The Freethinker's campaign isn't live, I'm not sure where we are with that one, but the other one (which I've now decided to identify as the Dollar Funhouse) is raring to go. The Dollar Funhouse actually consists of two separate products. One is the Dollar, the other is the Funhouse.

Bernie emailed me on Friday that they wanted the Dollar to go live this Wednesday and to email him over the weekend (he knows I work mostly weekends) with any questions. I sat down on Saturday morning, did as much as I could do, sent Bernie my questions, and didn't hear back from him until Monday. I had a big tired on yesterday evening, from all the 'Nuttery, so I didn't get it done.

Reminder to self: I need to email and let him know I'm out of town all next week and that the Funhouse can't go live until some time after I get back to town.

In the midst of this, a client of Gidget's is abruptly ready to have their campaign go live. They want it live--wait for it--yes--Wednesday! Since I have received none of the information I need to actually create a campaign (audience, services, budget, etc.), Gidget promised to send me all of it today so I could build the campaign tonight.

As it happens, this client is a Special Category, I can load the campaign, but I'm at Webstrainer's mercy when it comes to getting the ads to show. I'll file for an exemption, but if Doittoit (Worst. Nickname. Ever.) does not, in Webstrainer's eyes, qualify as Legitimate Business, there may be trouble. There shouldn't be any problem--they are legit and I see similar businesses being advertised, but who knows?

I'm a little grouchy, yes. I watch television one evening a week--Tuesday evening. Between building campaigns, loading campaigns, and checking 'Nut campaigns to see how the new pages are performing, tonight is going to be hell.

I was going to blog about the party I attended on Sunday and the seminar I attended last week and the new books I bought (work-related) and my upcoming vacation, but I've already spent more time on this post than I really had to spare today. We have a couple of Prospective 'Nuts coming in for a meeting to learn All About Internet Marketing at 8:00 tomorrow morning, and I really need to do some prep work.

Up to My Ass in Alligators

Posted by AnneZook at 02:47 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, May 10, 2010
Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod!

Tyro is the only 'receptionist' here at the moment, so when she needed to take a fifteen minute meeting a little while ago, she asked me to cover phones. I said yes, of course. I used to do it all the time, after all.

What I didn't remember is that I used to do it from the console. I've never used the portable handset. I think I hung up on four people, at least two of whom were trying to get in touch with CEOJason. I put one woman into interminable hold limbo two times.

So embarrassing.

First, I despise the professionally incompetent. That is, the people who brag about how they don't know how to fill the paper tray in the printer or sign for deliveries or work a postage machine. It doesn't make them seem high-level and important, okay? I know they think it does, but it doesn't. It makes them seem lame.

Second, it's a telephone. How sad is it that someone handed me a telephone and I wasn't able to work it?

It helps a little that two of the functions I was looking for--ones I used frequently on the console--turn out not to be available on the handset.

I did march up and make Tyro show me how to use it, though. Next time, I won't be so lame. (I am not a professional incompetent.)

It's supposed to snow tomorrow night. Up to a foot or two in the foothills and south of town, which means anything from a dusting of white to ten inches in Denver. It's May. It's the middle of May. What's up with that?

As Mondays go, this one is a bit rocky.

I was supposed to load a new campaign for Gidget yesterday afternoon. I just remembered it, so clearly it didn't get done.

I meant to do it but a blocked kitchen sink--a reasonably minor problem that wound up taking from 12:15 until 7:15 pm to get fixed, distracted me. (I called maintenance, it took them two hours to call back, by which time the sink had drained, albeit very slowly, so I told them it could wait until today and then two hours later, even though I hadn't run any water into the sink, the sink was 2/3 full again, so I had to call maintenance back and wait another two hours for a response, after which it took nearly an hour for the guy to actually show up and fix it.)

Anyhow. I have to stop on the way home and see if that power cord on the laptop is covered under the warranty or if they can sell me a new one if it isn't. Then, when I get home, I'll do that campaign.

Actually, as weeks go, this one is starting out a bit rocky.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 6, 2010
Make 'em stop it

The bunnies are back and they're terrorizing me again. This year it's mostly one teenager-sized bunny that sits in the grass, alternately napping and eating all day. It gives me evil looks, just because I want to use the sidewalk sometimes.

Stupid rabbit.

I am better today. Much better, thank you. I'm not coughing and it's 2:30 and I'm not yet so tired I want to fall out of my chair! That's a huge improvement.

At 9:00 yesterday morning, the in-house Argonut Café employees all received an email summons to an "emergency meeting" at 9:15. Everyone was wigging out until they found out that the "emergency" was the abrupt decision by management to celebrate and thank the staffers (all female, of course) who took over receptionist duties when the employees in those positions (female, of course) were laid off.

The employees being honored were applauded at a bagels-and-cream-cheese-and-fresh-strawberries breakfast conceived and organized by a couple of members (female, of course) of TeamChaos.

The employees were also given restaurant gift cards and a "free" afternoon (of their choice) off. In their absence, phones will be covered by a volunteer member of TeamChaos (female, of course).

This morning we got an email saying that the refrigerator in the lunchroom is starting to smell so this one employee (female, of course) has decided to take time out of her busy day to clean it.

I'm just saying. 35% of the employees here are male and 50% of the management staff is male. I'd like to see some male hands on the sponge scrubbing out the refrigerator or the microwave.*

I really am feeling better. Not crabby at all.


* We used to have more guys, but most of them got laid off. Guys, of course, make more money than women. When it came down to balancing the books, they could only really afford to keep the women.

Nevertheless, the two top jobs are still filled by men.

Moving on, the conversation around yesterday's breakfast table turned to this time last year and the meetings where they informed 50% of the staff that their space was of more value than their presence. As one member of TeamChaos put it yesterday, the Team had to decide who else they wanted on the team.

Everyone claimed to be surprised to remember that I was among those being urged not to let the door hit them on the way out. I reminded them, again, that NewBoss Anais was actually pretty urgent to get rid of me until she started taking calls from the 'Nuts Afield.

CEOJason claimed that I was not, in fact, invited to leave on multiple occasions. I pretended I have the email trail to prove it.

Once I typed it, that was all less interesting than I thought it was going to be.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:38 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, April 16, 2010

NewBoss Anais wanted some edits to the first draft of the newsletter (I loathe and despise people who refuse to proofread before the blue line, but then I loathe and despise everyone at this moment) and I was pretty much fine with it until I got to her request to add more white space here and there in each article.

I had to go outside and walk it off, I was so angry.

Because, yes, what this stupid newsletter needs is more white space.

It's not ugly and confusing enough that the titles already float in a sea of white, with an inch-wide gap above and below them, disconnecting them from the articles they supposedly introduce, no, now we need the bullet points separated by empty spaces.

Considering that these people have tendency to use bullet points because they think it makes the article look professional and not because they have any kind of list to incorporate, this turned out to be just one step further into the mire of stupidity than I was willing to go today--at least, without cursing, stomping, and invoking the gods of style to come down and smite whoever decreed that "rules" don't apply online and whoever decided that everyone with a keyword can "write."

For a few minutes, I was just filled with ugliness. I'm still pretty angry.

I can't understand why this stupid newsletter affects me this way. I took my name off of it long ago--a year or more. I don't read the blasted thing--not even when I'm coding it. Other than wasting four or five hours of my day once a month, it really doesn't have anything to do with me or my job. Why, then, do the related idiocies that I'm unable to be unaware of have the power to drive me right to the brink of insanity?

I'm serious. You wouldn't think that anyone with my personally cavalier approach to grammar and punctuation would go so ballistic, but mention "newsletter" and "white space" in the same sentence and I'm looking at the world through blood-red glasses.

Even now, at this moment, I'm blogging about it because I have so far been unable to force myself to go back in, override the template ("correct" ) style, and recode it all manually so that not only article titles but individual paragraphs can swim in a sea of white.


One hour later....

Oh, fine.

I fought with the software for half an hour and then told NewBoss Anais that overriding the default settings would mean the newsletter could not go out today and she said, "okay, then, forget it, it was just an idea."

And then from the Webstrainer forum I haunt, one of the Webstrainer people sent me an email and wants to arrange a call to explain all about how I'm about to be named one of Mother's Little Helpers on the forum (I was already user of the week a little while back) with associated (one assumes) responsibilities.

Way to waste a good mad.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

Crabby With Cause

Turns out there was a sort of a reason I've been irritable all week. I have a slight (but mounting) summer cold coming on. Right now it's just a little sinus dripping, the occasional sneezing, a touch of feverish I'm-hot-I'm-cold temperature intolerance, and the inability to tolerate stupidity.

Oh, wait. That last one is chronic.

So, what's up at the Argonut Café today?

Well, the stupid NutNews is not up. I haven't gotten the files yet. I suppose I could have spent the waiting time working on another "project" (instead of wasting it doing parts of my actual job) but I honestly find analyzing 50,000 lines of data more feasible if I don't keep putting the project down and picking it up again four hours later. I'm not good with numbers--I have to keep my mind on topic for that kind of thing. If you have 50,000 lines and fifteen columns of data and sorting it all by different columns suggests different results, I think almost anyone would admit they would do a better job of making sense of it all if they focused.

Moaning Martie is On My List, not that he hasn’t been all along. This loser has not only decided to go to an outside agency for his campaign needs, he has also--after two years of refusing to even discuss the subject for my benefit--doubled his budget, so that the outside agency now has a chance to make his program successful--a chance I never had and am a little bitter about. I don't really care, though. Bottom line? He's going to be SEP!

It's cold in this office today. Why is it so cold? It was hot yesterday. It was hot two hours ago. Now it's cold. My fingers are cold. I hate being sick.*

NewBoss Anais is a really, really nice person, but she's driving me nuts. There's such a thing as overcommunication, okay? Coming to my desk to tell me that she'll IM me to let me know when she's sent me an email--that's oversharing.

She's been showing up at my desk--and not just for the candy-- eight or ten times a day for the past few weeks, and she rarely has anything to say that couldn't have been communicated just as well or better (because of having a paper trail) by email.

I was bad last night. Very bad. I'm here to confess.

First, the good news--remember that part of my two trips that I didn't pay for in advance or as I went? Credit card balance is now zero! I paid off my travel expenses in six weeks, hooray! (Only rich people can afford to let credit card balances linger. Us po' folk can't afford the usurious rates of interest on running balances.)

I also, thanks to several weekends in a row of snowy weather, had enough built up in my bank account to pay for my half of the new tv promptly. My debt to the R.C. is dwindling. Slowly, but dwindling. With those two trips behind me, I hope to be able to pay off the remaining balance before the end of the year--or even by early fall--a goal that's starting to look very achievable.

So, how was I bad last night? I celebrated this occasion with a leisurely surf of Wincing. Could have been worse, but I had to forcibly stop myself and walk away before I even got to the reason I sat down at the computer, which was ordering a particular hanging lamp I wanted for my bedroom. A small, $20 indulgence, that's all I was planning on. Sigh.

I wonder if they turned the thermostat up? I'm not cold any more.

One hour later

Stupid newsletter files arrived.

For the record, NewBoss Anais neither came to my desk nor sent an IM when she finally sent the email.



* Sadly for you, I am not so sick I won't be able to get online and whine about it for the next week.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:41 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I am just so crabby this week. I don't know why.

I'm trying to clean up some free Webstrainer listings and finding sheer anarchy--different 'Nuts have done whatever they felt like doing, regardless of what's best for the brand overall--of a kind that's almost impossible to clean up. Every six months, some half-wit "discovers" that the free resource exists and they tell all the 'Nuts to run out and take advantage of it and a couple of dozen of them do--with the result that we now have locations with two, three, or four competing listings, the only one of which is any good (mine) isn't actually active.

This project, Webstrainer-related or not, is completely outside the scope of my actual job, of course.

They are getting some kind of teenager summer help here, calling the kid an "intern" (which, I guess, sounds better than, "the boss's daughter" and NewBoss Anais wanted to know what the kid could help me with. I responded, quite promptly, that the best thing anyone could do for me is not help.

Also, I had forgotten that it's stupid 'NutNews week. The files, promised to me, as always, by 8:00 am on Thursday, have not yet appeared on my desk. (I did put it on my calendar for the next couple of months, so it would stop being a surprise to me.) All it really means is that all the projects that have been getting pushed back all week are now having to be pushed back another four hours--front-loading next week's schedule to a depressing extent.

I checked online and I still have 100 hours of vacation/sick time banked. Obviously, at least half of it has to be reserved for those days when I need to take a day off to work on special freelance projects*, but maybe I can afford to take a "spring fever" day off some day soon? Or a sick day, because I'm sick and tired of being crabby, although I don't actually think a single extra day off is going to make life all joyful again.

There are Things I Must Do this weekend. I have boxes to take to the post office, boxes to take to storage, a pile of papers to sort and shred, cleaning to accomplish, laundry to wash, and some seeds to plant. Thinking of these things, I realize none of them make me feel more cheerful** but I've got one of those over-stressed, over-stimulated, over-stuffed modes going and need to take some curative action.***

What I'm not going to do is go shopping--not for anything. I feel like I've been cleaning unloved clothes out of my closet and unloved junk out of the rest of my life for the past ten years without actually creating any space and I'm crabby about that as well. I don't really enjoy shopping if I'm not buying**** and all I'm buying this weekend is one more of my bookcases. (It's not an indulgence, it's a necessity, since getting the books on shelves is a key component of my Master Tidying Up Plan).

It's a problem to think of other things to do on the weekends, though. I don't enjoy museums when they're so crowded I can't really spend time looking at the things that interest me (and not all traveling exhibits interest me anyhow).

While I do realize that a little more physical exercise would do me no harm, for various reasons, long outdoor walks aren’t really ideal for me. (Also? Walking just to be walking? Talk about a waste of a conscious brain….)

Still. Not a problem this weekend. I have a list and the usual few hours of freelance work.

Two hours later

Today's "quick 30 minutes" meeting went on for just over an hour and a half.

So. Very. Crabby.


* I should email Bernie. I haven't heard anything about the Freethinker's project yet.

** Rationally I know that getting those boxes out of the floor is one of those chores I might not be interested in doing but will be glad to have done. (So stupid. Both of those things together will take a maximum 30 minutes, including waiting in line at the post office. Why can I not just make myself do them?)

*** The inevitable, I suppose, result of the relentless stream of meetings and calls and consultations and whatnot I've been having all month. I feel like people have been coming at me from every direction all month long.

**** Shopping is boring unless I'm looking for something in particular or indulging myself in new books. Shopping malls drive me crazy with the stroller brigades and the screaming kids and the tottering geezers.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:07 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
So Very Silent

I'm having one of those weeks--months--where there are so many 'special' projects on my calendar that the time between projects--which is the time I have left over to do my job--is almost non-existent.

Whiny 'Nuts on interminable conference calls, end-of-quarter reporting, sending out stats to 'Nuts, dealing with the inevitable flood of responses, creating and launching useless and time-wasting "test" campaigns of one kind or another, meetings, research projects, etc. It's all a bit much for me this week.

In fact, this morning I pushed all the "special projects" on my calendar back a couple of hours and swore to myself that I was going to work on my job for a little while, only to realize that it's been so long since I had a decent stretch of time to focus on that sort of thing that I couldn't quite remember what it was I should be doing.* (Checking my calendar, I see that I haven't had a lot of time to do my job, not for more than an hour at a stretch, since late February, before I left town (twice).)

I say all of this by way of justifying myself.

NewBoss Anais came to my desk yesterday and wanted "five or ten minutes" to show me the new website pages (like I care) and I told her to schedule a meeting on Friday or maybe one day next week.

I'm good at scheduling my tasks, okay? I'm sometimes, but rarely, over-committed, but I'm careful to leave time between projects so that if one runs long, it doesn't throw my whole schedule off.

What I can't do, is prevent NewBoss Anais from promising meetings to time-wasting losers** (like Moaning Martie) and shoving them onto my calendar, regardless. Including an hour for a very boring phone call, I lost four hours on Monday, trying to "prove" that the problem is Moaning Martie's unwillingness to spend the money it takes to succeed.***

So, four hours of Monday's projects got pushed to Tuesday but I could only push three hours of Tuesday's projects back and had to just work faster to get the rest done and now it's Wednesday and I can only fit two hours of Tuesday's projects in, so the other hour was slated to be pushed to Thursday except that I had a little hissy fit and pushed all of this morning's projects back two hours and now Tuesday's pushed projects and one Wednesday project are scheduled for Thursday and, sadly, Friday, a day when I'd actually "booked" time on my own calendar to do my job, something that no longer fits into my schedule.

So very annoying.

Two hours later

Aarrgghh. I'm going to run out of things to complain about.

Moaning Martie is moving his account to outside management so, no longer my problem. MadBoy is just plain going away. (Going away! Hooray!)


* This, as I'm well aware, since she told me so, is precisely how Gidget got to the point of needing them to hire me. She was doing the job and got sidetracked onto so many other projects that they had to hire someone to do her original job--and then when layoff time came, they decided the 'special' projects weren't that important but that her original job, which I was now doing, was. So, she went and I didn't.

The big difference between her and me is that I rather like the work of this job and she hated it. And she's an actual (and expert) marketing, while I know nothing.

** I know, that's awfully rude. And I don't really mean to be insensitive, but working with bipolar people is just exhausting. Especially the kind that give strong evidence that they don't take their meds regularly.

*** Yes, I do realize that $300 bought him the sun, the moon, and the stars, in January of 2008, when he began. But it's now April of 2010 and things have changed.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 1, 2010
In Brief

Month-end reporting today. I know I whine about month-end reporting sometimes, but I whine about everything.

Truth is, I like month-end reporting. It's my one chance to spend several hours staring at today's numbers in the context of the numbers from the past three years and decide if I'm an abject failure or just not quite "good" yet.* To add to the excitement, I change how I capture data each year, so it's never quite an apples-to-apples comparison. This, along with the tendency of any spreadsheet full of numbers to adjust itself to produce whatever results it thinks will give you the fastest aneurysm**--regardless of "truth"--means that month-end reporting can be fairly amusing.

My boss is doing Lent. People think I don't know anything about religion, but I know things. Lent comes before Easter. People do Lent--deprive themselves--because Jesus died--they were deprived of him--and then they stop Lenting (I'm pretty sure that's not a word) and celebrate Easter, which is when it turned out he wasn't all that dead after, all, he'd just gone off to live in a cave for a while until the lynch mob dispersed.

Ashes come into it somehow, on your face, but I've never been quite clear about that bit. Also, communion, but I'm incapable of talking about that without Stranger In a Strange Land references, so I'll move on.

Maybe they--the ashes--are something Jewish people do. I know very little about Judaism (except that a close inspection of many of their religious "rules" reveals a foundation more sensible and more logical than most other religions can offer).

Also, getting back to the Lent thing, I think there was something about bees or honey in the wilderness. Maybe bees and honey, which would make more sense. There were fish, but that came earlier on. And hearing voices, but bibles are full of a lot of that kind of thing. ***

I don't know why they call it Lent. Maybe you're supposed to give back? (ba-da-boom!)

Anyhow. I also know that when my boss is done Lenting (definitely not a word), she'll be allowed to eat chocolate again. The reason I know this is because ever since she saw I have a big bowl of bite-sized candy bars at my desk, she's been coming over to check the chocolate level in the bowl at least once a day. She thinks I don't notice, but I know she's checking to see if there will still be any left by the time she's allowed to eat chocolate again.

What I know and she doesn't is that I saved half the bag of candy bars to put out next week, when she's post-Lent. I couldn't decide whether or not to tell her.

It might be against the rules, you know? Maybe when they're giving things up, they're not allowed to console themselves with the thought that one day soon they'll be able to have them again? Because, you know, Back In the Day, no one knew Jesus was off in the cave, they thought he was gone forever.

Or, maybe because now they know he was going to come back, they're allowed to think of how the stuff they loved and gave up will come back?

Both possibilities are equally likely, aren't they?

I'm really just working on my story at the moment. I'm pondering the uses of ambiguity--writing events where the real meaning isn't immediately clear. Precisely why my brain chose to work out this question in terms of Lent is a mystery to me.


*I'm the latter this month, which is about as good as it gets.

** No, really. They do that. It's like--it's like horses.

A horse can tell by the way you walk up to it whether or not you know what you're doing. If it thinks you don't, then nothing you do will induce it to behave properly. Nudges, commands, and directions that, if delivered by an "expert" would produce walking, trotting, or even dancing a polka, are rewarded with stolid indifference until eventually you're reduced to the humiliation of having someone lead the stupid beast along the trail while you sit on its back like a bag o'rocks.

Numbers are like that. If they know you don't really like them, that you prefer words, they wait until you blink and then scurry around the page, landing in strange and unfamiliar places. Then they laugh at you, and not quietly.

***I am aware that much of that was erroneous. I wouldn't want you to think I'm quite that culturally ignorant.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:29 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, March 12, 2010
Poor and Alone

I am poor (I've spent all my cash and haven't had a chance/remembered to swing by the bank this week and alone (I arrived in the office at 7:40 this morning. One other person was already here but so far we're the only two. Very sad.

This week has been both aggravating and annoying.

1) The diet is good, the diet is wise, the diet is pissing me off. Needs some adjusting. I've got to start bringing more food with me to work--even as sedentary as I am, it's tough to make it through the entire work day on 500 or 600 calories. (I'm not deliberately starving myself--I didn't cook anything for lunches last weekend and have been making do with whatever was in the refrigerator all week.

2) Gidget is happy and returned to full health and driving me a teensy bit nuts. The amount of work she needs from me is starting to exceed the 8-10 hours a week I've been willing to give The Gidget Co., and, what's worse, she's starting to need things between 8-5, M-F, when I really should be focusing on the Argonut Café's problems. I don't mind the occasional occasion when a client needs a phone conference, but two fifteen-minute calls this week is, IMO, excessive. (And, yes, I know that most people live about 50% of their personal lives on company time--taking and making phone calls from/to parents, spouses, significant others, children, day care centers, hair dressers, etc.-- but I've never really done that and I've always been a bit holier-than-thou on the subject.)

3) That could be because time has been in short supply since I got back to town. Over 50% of my hours at the Café have been spent on special (i.e., non-campaign-related) projects and, at last count, during the remaining hours I've been interrupted on the average of once an hour, every hour, by NewBoss Anais who seems to have missed me and to have lots of problems she wants me to help solve or at least have input on.

4) Yesterday, when I'd finally carved out an entire three hours to spend actually thinking about and focusing on what I'm supposed to be doing, she came over and wanted to chat about the bonus plan. I don't care about the bonus plan, okay? I honestly don't. They have, without actually announcing it, clearly decided not to reinstate our lost pay. Instead, we're all going to have to "excel" so we can get "bonuses" in order to get back some small percentage of the low-level salaries we were making before the economy crashed.

5) In the meantime, both Gidget and Bernie keep coming up with new projects and Bernie urgently wants to know when I'm going to quit the full-time job so I can take on more of the clients he's got lined up. I haven't had a chance to review the BunnyHouse campaign in three weeks, I suspect that I'll wind up with the Freethinker's campaign in my hands, I brought three new campaigns up for Gidget last weekend and there are four more waiting in the wings. I have not, as I've said already this week, actually had time to do the work on her campaigns (or Bernie's) that I really should be doing.

6) There are a variety of solutions for some of these problems. For the freelance ones, the first thing I need to do is get wireless internet access on my laptop, so I can work during the evenings during the week more conveniently.

I've been dreading that--fighting the battle to get a wireless router that can be configured to bypass C-*-m-c-*s-t's determination to block my $120/month+ cable/internet service from servicing my actual internet needs, but it's starting to feel like it's time. (Also, my sketchy research indicates that they're coming around and starting to offer wireless. Must call them.)

7) Also, I could work while I'm at work. It's 7:59 - time to get started.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday, March 11, 2010
OMG, I Am SO Behind On Complaining!

I've been back at work for a whole week and haven't had a chance to complain yet. That's so wrong. Since I got back, I've done month-end reporting (12 hours), six "special projects" taking from 15 minutes to 4-1/2 hours each. I've had to do two conference calls and have two more scheduled for today. One meeting. Two data projects for the new website, four hours total. What I have not really had time to do is my job. (Oh, I've had an hour now and then when no one wants anything or comes over to "discuss things", but that just allows me to glance at accounts and make notes for which ones need work done--it doesn't allow me to actually do the work.)

I did work over the weekend, Saturday I sat down to Gidget's stuff, where seven hours was barely enough to scratch the surface. Mostly I just, again, made notes about what needs to be done. I'm planning to work this coming weekend again to try and get some of it actually done.

Sunday morning, I was on to the account analysis for the Freethinker. Six hours and 95,000 lines of data later, I had what I hope was wanted. Recommendations. (Work with me, people. Let's all send hopes that I am not asked to manage this one. Senior Central, the Woofmen, and the BunnyHouse are as much or more than I have time for already. I can't be adding gawd to the mix. There is only one of me.)

The report reflecting what people actually typed into the Webstrainer window was interesting. I mean, aside from the bazillion irrelevant searches his too-generous campaign settings allow, there were quite a few searches for his actual book/foundation.

The word c-u-l-t came up quite a lot. Queries around jeebus's children came up with frequency. Also, a-l-i-e-n-s. I'm not really certain if this b/f postulates a-l-i-e-n intervention in jeebus's life or if it was the movie A-l-i-e-n R-e-s-u-r-r-e-c-t-i-o-n those people were searching for (r-e-s-u-r-r-e-c-t-i-o-n is a high-traffic word for the Freethinker). At one point I was almost tempted to go read the Freethinker's website, to see what, exactly, I was being asked to facilitate the marketing of, but then I realized that I didn't really care. I trust Bernie's assurance that the Freethinking isn't advocating violence of any kind against anyone. That's about as far as my interest in gawdliness goes.

On the Webstrainer forum I hang around, I answered someone's question yesterday and today they're demanding that someone else verify that what I said is correct. I feel dissed.

I'm rambling on about random, uninteresting things because of what I'm trying not to think about, but it's the main reason I logged on to complain today, so….

MadBoy is back. Yes, the beast has resurfaced. The good news is that he'd like to sell his corner of the Argonut Café and so we might someday be rid of him entirely. The bad news is that, in the interim, it did occur to him that his corner would be easier to sell if it was actually making some money, so he's decided he wants a new Webstrainer campaign--managed by me.

He's willing to commit to about 1/3 as much money as it would cost to be successful, is demanding that we block the highest-traffic sources of leads we have, and doesn't want calls or emails from people before nine or after five, Monday through Friday. I just do not get paid enough for this level of stupid.

Although, seriously, I was going to try to work up a head of steam about it all, but I don't find that I really care that much.

Yesterday was the Café's monthly all-staff meeting, wherein I announced that I'm seeing an inexplicable but frightening drop in the number of inbound leads so far this month. I've glanced through all of the accounts--there are no problems, and there's traffic. There just aren't any leads. I've been wigging out about it for the last week (in my spare time) but no one in the meeting seemed to care.

"You'll figure it out," CEOJason said. "You always do."


And then later he had the brilliant idea that all of the 'Nuts spending enough money to be successful will be moved to outside management and the lame duck, whiny baby, and incompetent moron accounts can all stay with me. So, you know, the fact that I'm not really famous for giving myself a lot of pats on the back (I tend to assume that success is become of something/someone else's work and failure is my fault) is probably good because I'm likely to have many fewer opportunities in the future.

I've been back on the diet for the last week. I've lost 1-1/2 lbs but I've also lost my sense of humor and most of my patience. Today I visited the junk food machine on the first floor and bought two bags of chips. And I ate them both. Now I'm eating chocolate.

The world is starting to get brighter!

Posted by AnneZook at 02:50 PM | Comments (6)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It Was Toooosday and I just realized that it was a FAT one!

I mean, I don't really know or care from Mardi Gras, but I have got to jolly myself back into a better mood.

Yesterday's chores: bank (cash for my trip) and pharmacy (prescription refill). Today, I will potentially go to both the grocery store (almost out of coffee), and apartment management office (to refill my laundry card) on my way home. (Possibly I was a little too laid back and relaxed over the weekend--there seem to be a lot of things I didn't get done.)

Had a conference call with Bernie and Freethinker, the potential new client, Monday afternoon. In a complete reversal of what I expected to see, the Freethinker's website looked great (visually--layout--I didn't read anything during the meeting) and the ads I saw in his Webstrainer campaign looked, really, very good. Generally these things, especially good ads, are where DIY advertisers fail. It was nice to see a campaign where someone did it right.

Everything else was appalling, so, no surprises there. I mean, the guy did seem to have a vague idea of the potential of it all, but without defined goals (Bernie asked three times during the call and got three conflicting answers) and without some structure he isn't going to be able to tap into the potential.

I won't go on and on. I'll just say that if you open your account page and it's covered with red warning messages? Telling everyone how well you're doing it is--less convincing.

The Freethinker was pretty vague throughout the entire call, so I'm not sure if Bernie strong-armed him into agreeing to have someone evaluate his campaign or if it was his idea, but that's not my problem. I don't mind earning two or three hundred bucks for reviewing what he's got and making some suggestions. That's all I'm committed to right now.

Because I'm a moron, I just now realized that my 8:30am flight on Friday means I should be on the road and headed toward the airport by 6:30, at the latest. Since it's my vacation, there's snow forecast, and I'm not at my best before dawn under any circumstances, I'm almost thinking I should book a shuttle or something--get someone else to drive, somehow.

On the other hand, shuttle companies are insane any more. They refuse to pick you up any later than 4 hours before your flight. The odds of me getting out of bed, pulling myself together, and being downstairs, luggage in hand, at 4:00am are surprisingly small. Maybe I'll be wasteful and spend $50 on a cab. (Maybe I'll stop being such a baby and just drive myself--the stupid airport is only 30 minutes away.)

Today's excitement includes the stupid 'Nut Newsletter. We're on draft #6 right now. I only read one sentence (I'm getting very good at coding without reading) but it was ugly enough that I was unable to resist sending TeamChaos an email asking (after the fifth draft) if they were seriously going to leave it in the newsletter. NewBoss Anais emailed back and offered to let me rewrite it, but I refuse to take the first step down that slippery slope. I'm just going to decide to be Over it. Over it, over it, over it.

You'd be proud of me. They've been requesting additional bolding dropped in here and there, huge chunks of text in italics, more white space so titles can 'float' unconnected with the accompanying stories, and other random weirdness and I haven't said a single mean thing.

Over it, over it, over it.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:03 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, February 12, 2010
And Sometimes, It Looks Like Fun!

This morning, as I struggled to untangle myself from my bed, I realized I was arising from a dream where I'd been sitting at a computer, doing some Webstrainer research.

This must cease! I refuse to work in my sleep!

Also, I demand to know why my bed is never as welcoming at night as it is when the alarm goes off in the morning. Last night I accidentally sat up until midnight (reading) and it still took me over an hour to convince my brain and body to knock off for the day.

The day started with a latte from the Sekrit Starbucks I now know is a mere four blocks from my office. Hooray for milk-drenched espresso!

Then a 75-minute conference call where, much against my will, I found myself--wait for it--explaining a Webstrainer search results page to an audience of otherwise reasonably intelligent people. It seems that I've been vastly overestimating everyone's understanding of how and why ads show up when you search for things.

Talked to Bernie today and heard myself agreeing to take on two more accounts. Before you shout at me, one of them was the one we had the conference call on a week or two ago, so I'd already half-promised that one.

The other will be--hmmm. How can I put this that won't 'out' the client's name or attract sp*mbots but that will nevertheless amuse me?

Well (she said delicately), I'm not religious (although I'm not inclined to care if others are), so I don't precisely pay attention to the latest developments in the field. Imagine my surprise when Bernie explained that an otherwise extremely successful business person of his acquaintance is apparently starting--well, I don't know. So far it's some books and a website or two, but I suspect he has delusions of secthood.

Apparently there's a (and now I have to be extremely delicate) sort of a crossroads where concepts introduced in a certain late-60s SF television show (spawning three sequels and half a dozen movies and earning its place in the mythology of the planet) meet the major spiritual denomination of most of this country. (Hah! I defy any sp*mbots to untangle that!) At that crossroads, exists the place where our potential client, hereinafter referred to as the Freethinker, visualizes a new set of beliefs.

Hoping that's enough to disguise the subject from random searches, I have to admit that there's a certain amusement value in the idea of running a Webstrainer campaign for the guy. I don't like strangeness, but I know Bernie's pretty New Age and so any client of his is likely to be Very Left. I am not, in short, in danger of finding myself selling the Inquisitional beliefs of any denomination, organization, or movement.

Bernie was a bit hesitant to ask me to take this one on. Seems he had to ask three developers to do the coding before he found one willing to be associated with the project. Subject to my reviewing the material and making a better-informed decision, I assured him that, Inquisitions, purges, and demon-hunts ruled out, I have no particular prejudices. Peace, love, and understanding--I can deal with those, regardless of the wrapper.

While I had him on the phone, I took the opportunity to point out that my original project (which I may and/or may not have named but have now decided to rechristen BunnyHouse) is gorgeous, is lovely, is running like a sweet dream but is producing nothing in the way of actual sales inquiries.

Proving that I'm sometimes unjust to him and that he is, actually, listening when I talk, he responded that it's the client's fault for not spending the $$ the project needs, we sent at least one highly qualified lead and the sales person never bothered to follow-up on it, and that it's not my fault the market is still in the middle of a huge meltdown.

I'm feeling very much in charity with Bernie at the moment. I think I'll send him a bill this evening.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:59 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, January 8, 2010
Lost! And Kinda Pissy

I don’t even remember how long it’s been since I blogged. (It's not because my newest game in the Series That Ate 2009 has been sucking down my brain. I swear!)

I’m guessing it was before my stupidworkcomputer conked out on me. It was never the same after the Great Virus Infestation of ’09* and I finally went to our pseudo-IT guy this week and demanded that something be done to fix it and he told me to pick a computer from the ones sitting around unused and swap out the boxes for myself.

Sometimes I fantasize about being the R.C.--she's never worked at a place that didn't have a full IT staff and no one has ever told her to "do it yourself" when she's had a computer problem.

It's possible that the pseudo-IT guy was irritated with me because he had to deal with the Great Virus Infestation, but if it weren't for viruses and whatnot, many IT people would lack employment.* *

Anyhow. I swapped out my box for the one Gidget used to use and I've been dancing between the two of them all week because I didn't have email access on the swapped box until today. Not that I actually mind not having constant access to my email. I only remember to look at it every couple of hours even when it's sitting open on my desktop.

My point is that now I'm stuck with Wnidwos 2007, a fate I've successfully avoided for the last two years. Sigh. I'm waving good-bye to the thoroughly tested and rock-stable Windows XP and staring with loathing at the idiocy of poorly constructed "ribbons" replacing my familiar, compact, and easy-to-use menu bars. * * *

This week it was numbers, numbers, numbers all week long. Not that it isn't always, but more than that. End of month numbers. End of year numbers. 2008 vs 2009 comparative statistics. My head is spinning from all the numbers--most of them don't make sense to me any more. Long, statistical story short - written leads are up a bit from last year, calls are down a bit from last year, making it all a wash--and the 'Nuts both in and outside the Home Café are whining about how revenue has nosedived.

I'm bewildered--we lost half a dozen or more (low-performance) locations but leads are up at our most productive locations. Unfortunately, I'm probably the only person here who makes a concerted and organized attempt to track ROI, so no one knows where the money went. In the end, I've decided to decide that it must all have something to do with the part of our business model that has nothing to do with me. An SEP is the best kind of P.

NewBoss Anais visited my quiet little corner of the Café earlier today. She wanted to talk about a bonus program. They'd like to bonus me on results that improve over last year.

I wasn't sure what to say.

I do think that before they start talking bonus money, they might reinstate the 15% pay cut they gave me last year, don't you? I mean, at this moment my salary is easily 25-40% below the market value for what I do (not including the industry and specific company knowledge I have) so I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them to get my paycheck back to where it was when they hired me.* * * * I'm not even expecting them to adjust for inflation.

In the end, I told her that no matter what metric they selected, I would be able to juggle the numbers to "prove" that I'd earned a bonus and that I preferred not to be put in that position.* * * * * Then I reminded her that, in my job, at least 50% of what I do is significantly affected by forces outside my control, making "success" rather hard to attain.

Also, I hate that kind of thing. The perception that I could do my job better if I only bothered to, that irritates me.

I suspect I have a weird attitude toward money.

Also, I'm pissy about CEOJason's little speech during our last all-company meeting. He congratulated everyone on getting all the necessary work done in 2009, even though he'd cut the staff by 50%. He said these results proved that the Café had been over-staffed. No one spoke up (although I badly wanted to) to point out that his simultaneous decision to eliminate twenty time-sapping, money-sucking special projects had been a significant factor in the ability of the remaining employees to get through the necessary work.


* Did I blog that? It happened right before Christmas. Sadly this catastrophic event was triggered by my own stupidity in goofing off at the office—surfing around and reading books online on a site that turned out to be infected.

* * But I maintain that it's not my fault that they weren't running a decent virus program on the stupid network. I ran a full system scan with their software and it swore my computer wasn't infected--the dialogue box clearly said so, as nearly as I could tell in the middle of a deluge of browser windows popping open to share bad pr0n images.

* * * I don't care if you can minimize the stupid ribbon. Minimized, it doesn't have any functionality at all. Maximized, it eats 10%-15% of your screen space with distracting and useless graphics. I do not approve of software companies joining the conspiracy against text.

* * * * It was okay to underpay me when they hired me because I had no clue what I was doing. It was not okay not to deliver on the pay raise I should have received after I trained myself and produced a 40% increase in leads that first year, it was not particularly okay for them to force through a 15% pay cut last year, and it's certainly not okay for them to act, today, as though my current base salary is an acceptable rate of pay for what I bring to the table.

This 'do more with less' trend, of course, is a thing that has pissed me off since it was invented by Reagan and his cadre of criminal cronies. It is not okay. I am not a labor unit and I decline to be downsized, outsourced, or reimagined as a less-valuable asset. There is a limit, beyond which I will refuse to continue doing the work of two or three people for the salary of 2/3 of a person. It's becoming a matter of principle and, for someone who values a quiet life as much as I do, it's becoming surprisingly important to me that I actually speak out against being treated this way--not by the Argonut Café in particular, but on behalf of every worker in this country who has been tricked into accepting this as the natural way of things.

* * * * * Naturally I would never juggle the numbers that way, but the bottom line is that accepting their proposition would put me in the position, every single day, of putting the welfare of a company that would dump me in a heartbeat ahead of my own welfare.

This goes along with the discussion just above--companies show no loyalty to their staff (the Café laid off an employee of 18 years with no more emtion than they showed toward getting rid of the guy who had been here for four months) and expect increasingly ridiculous levels of loyalty and sacrifice in return.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:47 PM | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A Dozen Also-Rans

Minor thoughts I'm bored enough to share....

#1 - The R.C. introduced me to a new restaurant last week. Andre's is, from what I'm told, one of those long-time institutions, and one of the R.C.'s favorite-ever dining places. (Her excuse for not having introduced me to in any time in the last twenty years or so was that she thought it had closed.) (Right.) It's a fabulous little prix fixe patisserie tucked away just off of a major thoroughfare. It has atmosphere. I love a non-chain restaurant, don't you?

#2 - Those of us toiling away at the Argonut Café are getting a four-day weekend at New Year's as well. While I love the idea of having such lovely, long weekends, the (teeny-tiny) mature part of me knows that the remaining winter months, with no holidays at all, are going to be long and gray.

#3 - The first season of Glee is due to be released on DVD at the end of this month. The R.C. has it on pre-order, so I'll be able to get caught up before the new season starts (in April, I think). In the meantime, the network is showing two episodes this Wednesday evening and two next Wednesday, so I can get started watching ever before I get started getting caught up.

#4 - I did not practice Frugality around Christmas this year. Considering that I only really exchange gifts with the R.C. (and send small gifts to the L-i-K-S, Rapunzel, and Pippi), there are an astonishing number of packages under our little Christmas tree. While many of them are of the very small "stocking stuffer" variety, another heaping helping are not. So far I have refrained from poking, prodding, or shaking any of the interestingly shaped boxes. I'm very trustworthy that way.

#5- One of the aforementioned parcels, embarrassingly enough, is from NewBoss Anais, someone for whom I not only didn't buy a gift, but didn't send a card.

#6 - Another friend surprised me with a bag of very good coffee. I like knowing someone thought of me and do try to accept gifts in that spirit, but I'm always flustered when gifted from someone with whom I have not previously made gift exchange plans and, yes, I'm aware that this sentence could have been more graceful but I don't care that much.

#7 - The R.C. was insufficiently inventive when it came to providing a wish list for gifts this year. I had to take some chances and I'm a bit concerned about one or two of them.

#8 - Gidget and I don't gift, but I did manage to convince her not to pay me for The Gidget Co work this month. She's short of money at the moment, so that amount really will be useful to her. Anyhow, I finally remembered to bill Bernie for the work I did this fall so I'm flush, and as I told her repeatedly, I haven't had that much time to spend on her accounts the last three weeks and I'd be ashamed to take money at this point.

#9 - When I lunched with Gidget and Vela last week, one of them mentioned the rumor that CEOJason had gotten canned. I can vouch for the fact that he's still showing up here every day, but the rumor (they have a pipeline into the Shadow Board that rules us all) does have me wondering....

#10 - I don't think I mentioned the Argonut Café Holiday get-together, did I? It was the evening of the 11th, at ChaosManager Daenna's home. Each member of the 10-person staff here at the Café was warned that there would be two dozen attendees and asked to bring enough of their dish (it was a pot-luck) to feed twenty. I suspect I'm the only person who thought about it and realized that if ten people each bring food for twenty, you have enough food to feed two hundred people--especially taking into account the American hostess's ever-present fear that there Won't Be Enough* which she inevitably insures against by providing a ham, two pies, home-made cookies, and six kinds of dinner rolls. We ate, they played pool or foosball or air hockey and then, endless hours later, we played a gift game--a variation of the dreidel game--and I wound up with two free movie tickets, big thrill, then everyone was getting tipsy and it was 11:00 p.m., so I went home. The end.

#11 - The last week or so, work has been a peculiar mixture of urgent tasks and "nothing to do." Because of the holidays, people who might ordinarily be searching for our services are now searching for things almost but not quite what we do. It would be a mistake, as I keep telling myself, to interpret any of the stats for the latter half of December as representative. So, basically I'm either doing four things at once, or sneaking over to read H. Rider Haggard novels online. I don't normally (aside from the occasional blog entry) goof off on company time. I'm not sure I really enjoy it, either. I think the days pass much more quickly when I'm working.

#12 - Am I lame if my favorite-ever Christmas movie is A Muppet Christmas Carol?


* Culturally, Americans seem to have some kind of weird issue around enoughness. Our entire society sometimes seems fixated on getting what's there to be gotten before there's not enough left to go around.

Without getting excessively political, I still want to say that I'm amused that the major oil contracts in Iraq are not being awarded to Chump & Cheney's Corporate Cohorts or, indeed, any US-based oil companies.

Right now, Dick and George are probably sitting there, stewing--thinking that killing a hundred thousand or so Iraqis should have done the trick and wondering what a guy's gotta do these days to get a guaranteed payoff.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

Do Over!

So, yesterday's joys included the 'NutNews--which was supposed to go out on Friday but then they're supposed to give me 24 hours for coding and proofreading and I didn't even get the files until 3:00 Friday afternoon. This edition may and/or may not have gone out error-free--I just didn't have time to care.

Yesterday's joys also included an appointment with HairMan originally scheduled for 4:00 but then moved to 11:00 am to accommodate his schedule. Carving 1-1/2 hour out of the middle of my day is stressful for me. While I generally do eat lunch, I couldn't be said to stop working while I chew. (My brain was so out of kilter that I stiffed HairMan on the tip. I left him a message this morning apologizing and promising to make it up to him next time. So embarrassing.)

Since yesterday's joys also included a request from NewBoss Anais to create and activate a campaign to cover the Southernest DIY 'Nut's location (he just closed his doors)--a campaign intended to run for one or two weeks while she waits for 3Dorks to get their highly automated process up and running--well, it was Monday all day long yesterday.

Seriously. How stupid is that? I can barely start getting real traction in a normal 7-14 day period, much less a time when two major holidays are distracting the entire country from getting any work done. I kept wondering if it was really worth eight hours of my time to create a campaign that might generate one phone call in the next two weeks?

And! Then she comes to my desk, at noon today, and tells me that 3Dorks might actually be able to get their act together in a timely fashion (for a change) and that their campaign should be active today or tomorrow. So, yes, the campaign I finally got activated at 10:00 this morning might get shut off at 5:00 this afternoon.

I don't normally mind having a busy day--not even if there are conflicting projects to be done.

What really fried my brain cells and created chaos in what passes for my mind these days was the discovery, as I walked into the office yesterday morning, that I'd donned black shoes, a gray shirt, a black jacket, and a pair of very distinctly blue pants.

Even as late as 5:00 yesterday afternoon I was sitting here thinking that I'd be willing to do the entire day over again if I could get a do over to dress myself properly, remember to tip the guy who worked me into his holiday schedule on a couple of days' notice, etc. Sigh. I suck.

At the moment, I'm ignoring about 30 emails in my (work) in-box. Whatever those people want, they can wait for tomorrow or even next week. I can't deal with it today.



With a four-day weekend coming up, I'm prepared to really relax and enjoy the holidays this year. This is the first time I haven't been unemployed or on a Major Frugality Plan during the holidays in--I'm not sure--maybe four or five years? And a four-day weekend! It was nice of the Argonut Café to give us Christmas Eve off, since they couldn't afford bonuses or even reinstating our original pay levels.

I'm still working my way toward the quasi-completion of two Harvest Moon games, the R.C. got the new Zelda game earlier this month and we're both working on it, I treated myself to a new book last week and I want to get time to read it, etc. I have big plans for the long weekend.

Most of which don't involve spending money--at some point in the next 30-60 days I need to get some major work done on my car, which needs both struts and a new clutch. I'm guessing, two or three thousand for all of it. Wincing. Even reminding myself that I'll probably be able to keep driving this car for another five or six years doesn't really ease the pain.

In the "free, but annoying" category, I have to take the laptop back to the repair shop again. The sound on the CD/DVD player doesn't work any more--it was fine until I took it in for them to fix a busted power switch, but hasn't worked since. (I'm getting my money's worth out of that extended warranty I bought.)

We're supposed to get weather tonight and tomorrow. Not as frigid as the last round--eighteen above instead of below for the low, but an unknown amount of snow. It always worries me when the weather forecasters won't guess at how much snow is coming. Sometimes we wind up with a foot or more.

On a final, happy note, I should point out that after having ignored the PC speakers Gidget left behind when she was laid off--ignored them for the last year--I thought to move them to my desk last Friday.

I have sound! I brought in some CDs. This morning I had the Brandenburg Concertos and this afternoon I'm having Strauss waltzes.

More sensibly, it also means I can finally view some of those training and education videos that Webstrainer shares so freely.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Lo! Wishes DO Come True!

I finally finished month-end reporting for November. I was grouching around, moaning about how bad 'my' numbers look when it occurred to me to lay them out beside the October numbers. And, lo! The November numbers are bad, but they're about 20% less horrible than the October numbers were!

Of course, me being me, I'm not satisfied that I've regained three months' lost ground in the last month. I expected more out of me than that.


Next up? A real challenge.

Two bits of background:

#1 - If we all cast our minds back two years, we'll all remember that I was originally hired because the Argonuts Afield, whose campaigns were under management by Doodledorks, didn't like the results they were getting.

#2 - For the last year or more, I've been grouching around and moaning about needing landing pages--website pages specifically designed to service search engine advertising traffic.

Caught up? Okay.

TeamChaos has been testing the landing page concept with 3Dorks (the third incarnation of Doodledorks) for the last three months. It's been proven (I think) that a "landing page" does, in fact, produce the major increase in leads that I told them it would produce.

However, in spite of the impressive results, CEOJason remains unconvinced. He's uncertain of whether it's the landing page idea/design, or if 3Dorks is just better at it than I am.*

His idea is to get 3Dorks to set us up with landing pages just like the ones they've been using, and for me to manually manage campaigns toward them. This, in CEOJason's mind, will prove once and for all if the Argonut Café needs to find the dough for landing page design and implementation (not a small or inexpensive undertaking), or if they can just replace me with this same automated system.**

Yes! It means that they're considering going back to what didn't work two years ago--because going backwards will be cheaper than doing what it takes to move ahead.

If you're ever wondering why 'small' businesses in the US tend to fail? Remember that this is not the first place I've worked where the owners put the company in reverse because going forward was too scary.

I've also been grouching around and moaning about the weather for the past three days. All I want, I thought to myself repeatedly, is temps in double digits. Is that too much to ask? I just want to wake up in a place where it's not two below zero. And, lo! When I got up this morning? Negative thirteen! Double digits.


* As I told NewBoss Anais, to a certain extent, yes, they're better at it than I am. It's software, okay? It's all automated for them--micromanaged 24/7. In-house, it's just me and a keyboard, forty hours a week.) (They provide more results, but I provide better quality results. Agencies toss up a lot of chaff with the wheat because automated systems aren't designed for nuances.

** No, of course they didn't say it that way. But it seems pretty obvious, don't you think?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Well, to begin with, I'm this week's winner in the, "I Really Suck At What I Do" category. Again.

Ohmigodsoboring story really short:

Of the fourteen 'Nut campaigns I worked on last week, half improved and half slid down into the sub-basement of performance. Of the nineteen 'Nut campaigns I did not get to last week? Half improved and half slid down into the sub-basement of performance.

If I'd laid in bed all last week, eating bon-bons and reading trashy novels, I'd be right where I am now. (Only, you know, with chocolate all over the sheets.)

After four hours of data analysis this morning, I can confidently say that, after those bid increases I told you about, if I'd done nothing else since, all of the campaigns would look better today than they do.

I have trust issues, okay? And I have bigger trust issues with me than with anyone else. That one I know ever believes I know what I'm talking about or know what I'm doing--that's always been a constant in my life.* So much so that I've internalized it and I doubt myself before anyone else has a chance to doubt me.

In this case, it just never occurred to me that I might be doing it more or less "right" and that only the 'Nuts' collective allergy to high bids was to blame for the performance slide.

I guess I'll just write it all off to "education."


* I am the Incompetent One. I adopted this role early in life, largely at my mother's urging. She was a woman for whom excelling meant "showing off," especially if you were a girl, and she discouraged that sort of thing. Frequently and firmly. (Girls who show off or seem to be too smart don't get husbands, you know.) If you're a child who, through no fault of their own (genetics or something), is prone to excelling but is willing to do anything for a quiet life, you easily develop the habit of never being "good" at anything.

Also? People like you better if they're better at things than you are. Many of the long-term friendships in my life have been based on me discovering what someone felt was their "specialty" and then making certain, for however many years necessary, that I was always about 50% "worse" at it than they were.

For example, Gidget feels we make a great team because I can't write, which she likes to do, and I'm good at things involving numbers, projects she doesn't like. The fact that the opposite is true--I love trying to write and hate messing with numbers--is something I'm willing to lay aside in my relationship with her.

I am the Incompetent One. As long as I keep my friendships tightly compartmentalized, it works for me. I mean, sure, I set myself up for failure sometimes, but I'm not a doctor or anything, so I can live with the consequences.

What started me off on this tangent, anyhow?

Probably my desire to think about anything but all that wasted time last week....

Posted by AnneZook at 01:29 PM | Comments (3)

Friday, November 20, 2009
First, There Was the Word

I'm sorry for the long silence (although I don't imagine any of you are sorry to have missed five or six episodes of whining and ranting about the same ol' stuff).

Boring story short--I'm still working on shoving us back to the Quality A-List.

The bid increases did a lot to pull in more traffic and more-or-less stop the meltdown.

Now I'm going through each campaign, word by word, researching six months worth of ad data to find the best ads for each word in each separate campaign, then reloading them as single-word "groups" (that's the simplest way I can think of to put it) with the corresponding "good" ads. This should give each campaign's performance scores a quick boost. I've done that for about half of them so far.

I knew that the words were absolutely key in these campaigns so I can't imagine why it never occurred to me to look at the data sorted in this precise way before one of our Webstrainer reps suggested it last Tuesday. It was, to say the least, enlightening.

It turns out that I've been deleting ads that were superstar performers for some words, and retaining other ads that had no business being associated with other words.

Okay, so it takes at least twice as long to evaluate the data this way. It's the right way to do it. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Word First! That's my new slogan.

By some time next week, the extra traffic we seduced Webstrainer into serving will start to evaporate unless the campaign's performance justifies keeping us on the fast track, but it's taken me six days to get fourteen campaigns done and I don't see any way I can do the other nineteen in the three work days available to me next week.

Yes, I do have a long weekend, but I really need to spend next Friday working on The Gidget Co campaigns and on Bernie's campaign. There are some of Gidget's campaigns I haven't touched for two weeks and I'm interested in looking at Bernie's campaign in this new way I was discussing a moment ago.

In the meantime, I'm fending off NewBoss Anais with a whip and a chair. She wants two more 'Nuts to join the in-house Webstrainer Train and I just don't have time. One is a 'Nut who bailed out six months ago and hasn’t had any campaign. The other is the Southernest DIY 'Nut (and the least nutty of the three) who has been DIYing for six weeks and should now be understanding why this is not a game for amateurs. And while that's fine and more work means more job security, blah, blah, blah, I just can't allow myself to be distracted at the moment.

And there's another bunch o'Nuts, in the Flat Crazy State, whose campaign (which I have never seen) is managed by an outside, local agency, but who still, for reasons that I really don't care about, think that emailing me with their questions is the correct procedure.

I don't know, okay? I don't know what you're advertising because I don't know what you told your agency you wanted to advertise. I don't know what's working or not working because I haven't seen what you're doing.

And, no, I can't send you "benchmarking" data because, 1) you haven't shared any data with me in six months, and, 2) since I don't know what you're doing, I wouldn't know what to benchmark.

Naturally, this was wigging me out, but my actual meltdown didn't occur until the 'Nut forwarded--get this--forwarded an email from Gidget, from March, of 2008, and lectured me on how I should provide them with that kind of data. (And then asked a question about the email in such a way as to make it obvious that this is the first time they've followed up on it since they received it eighteen months ago.)

There were five full-time people in this department in March of 2008, okay? Today there's just me and NewBoss Anais--and she spends most of her time on "business development" and not marketing.

After I tossed a minor hissy fit at NewBoss Anais, she gave me permission to ignore that last email, at least for a while.

Anyhow. Nineteen more campaigns to fix. No time for blogging.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:20 PM | Comments (13)

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm bursting at the seams with stress. (Picture a double-stuff oreo where the creamy filling is sort of acid-reflux green.) *

I ate breakfast. Then I ate my morning snack. Then I ate my afternoon snack. I'm afraid to eat any more. I might be sick.

In the "will wonders never cease" category, Webstrainer actually sent me an email (well, okay, they responded to a reminder from me, but I've learned they don't follow up unless I nag) saying they do have some suggestions. We scheduled a call (90 minutes from now) and all I can do is sit here--churning and waiting.


* Seriously? What would you wish for? That they'd find a big mistake on your part--because then you'd have been incompetent, but you could fix it?

Or that they'd find it's all about the DIY 'Nuts? Because then you'd rock, but the accounts would still be trash.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:10 PM | Comments (2)

It's Beyond My Control

Last Wednesday, at the urging of my 'better self' (and after two specific requests from NewBoss Anais), I contacted our three DIY 'Nuts and requested that they clean up their blasted campaigns.

The first guy I contacted argued with me--he thought that because he undersood what he intended, his brain waves are somehow psychically transferred through to Webstrainer and on to ten million web searchers. It took me two days, but I finally convinced him and he removed a hundred or so low-score keywords. (He does not seem to have taken my pointed remarks about campaign organization or ad performance on board.)

The second guy was all, I haven't been paying attention, but I'll go look at things, which was annoying but at least he responded. Eventually he removed a handful of the bad words but left around 100 of them active. Which was useless.

I'm still waiting to hear back from MadBoy's Mad Offspring. He hasn't done anything at all so far about the 200+ poor quality words in his campaign.

Why these drastic steps, you ask? Why are you, Anne, notoriously 'Nut-adverse, reaching out in this fashion?
Because all I've done for over a week, by way of management on my 30 campaigns, is sit here and delete low score keywords. Almost all of our best-performing words, in fact.

Long story short, a conference call with Webstrainer early last week confirmed that a lot of "my" problem with my nosediving quality scores was the DIY 'Nut campaigns dragging the entire company down with them.

Last week, I pitched a major fit at NewBoss Anais. When I managed 45 accounts and we had one DIYer, the good I did far outweighed the bad he did. Now that I manage 30 accounts, and we've had four or five craptasic DIY campaigns running for several months this year, the balance has tipped. (Webstrainer is always quicker to shut you down for poor or even potentially poor performance than they are to give you a second chance--with ten hundred thousand people clamoring for placement on their pages, they don't need to loosen up their standards for the also-rans.)

I could, of course, sneak around and work on Gidget Company accounts, but my handy-dandy offline tool has started popping fatal error messages at me every time I try to download a new account. If I can't download the accounts, I can't work on them.

For those of you wondering what happened in that MadBoy call with the Webstrainer rep a couple of weeks ago?

Not much.

MadBoy didn't attend, but his Mad Offspring was there. The M.O. had no interest in discussing any of the things he'd done, what his results were, or any of the geographic targeting issues he'd been annoying NewBoss Anais about for two months. Instead, he demanded repeatedly that the Webstrainer rep explain to him everything that changed during a specific four-day interval this past June.

I'll spare you a lot of tedious detail--just trust me when I say that not even traveling back in a time machine to the very days the M.O. was inquiring about would have enabled the entire Webstrainer workforce to produce the information the M.O. wanted. I swear, from his attitude, he really thinks we're just withholding information from him to be mean, you know? He got pissy with us all at the end of the call. ("I guess if I'm not going to get the answers to any of my questions, that's all.")

I mean, okay, I sympathize that he wanted something and didn't get it, but applying a minimum number of brain cells to the topic--say, ten--should have revealed to him the sheer, galaxy-sized magnitude of what he wanted. I tried to apply significantly more brain cells--say, a hundred--to the question of "what would it take to capture data that way" and my head exploded four or five times before self-preservation kicked in.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here, twiddling my thumbs. There's nothing I can do to rectify the situation, no edits I can make to any of the campaigns that will do any good at all until the low-quality campaigns are cleaned up.*

I'm beyond even making rage-induced blog entries on how damaging this has all been. 18 months worth of work, down the tubes. I scrabbled, fought, and clawed for every tenth of a percentage point of quality improvement I could get for a year and a half. All gone.

I'm so stressed out, I am literally shaking.


* If you have a bucket o'garbage, dumping perfume in it doesn't make it smell any better. And you can't take the perfume back out and use it later.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:10 AM | Comments (3)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Denver is a good place to live. I mean, where else could you live where it could snow for 48 solid hours and yet you can drive to work on largely clear pavement the next day?

As always, the apartment parking lot and the fifty feet of side road we have to drive to reach the traffic light were the trickiest part of my commute today.

The management company did their best on the parking lot--they had the trucks out plowing three times a day for the past couple of days. However, no one could have predicted Miss Only I Exist backing her tractor-sized truck out of a parking space this morning, then stopping so she could walk around it and knock her 14" of snow off--not onto one of the many the drifts scattered around the lot, but onto the only clear pavement available, the driving lane. In an astounding display of selfishness, she not only didn't apologize to the other drivers trying to creep past her to the exit, she didn't even seem to notice that she was not alone on the planet.

Internet marketing is a good job to have. Not everyone in this city was snowed in for two days but didn't have to use vacation time or lose pay. Me, if I have a computer and internet access, I'm good to go. And I do work when I'm working from home--I got a ton of stuff done.

The R.C. isn't so lucky but she did make it in to her office yesterday--for 3-1/2 hours.


Everything was fine until I logged into my Webstrainer program to start the day's work.

Ten seconds later, I was buried in a seemingly endless avalanche of poor quality scores. Words that, a mere twelve hours ago, were highly OK or even Excellent are now irrelevant, in appropriate, and inactive.

In fact, yesterday, I was good at what I do. Today, I'm an abysmal failure.

On the "good news, I suppose" side of the equation, I have so much work to do that the time is just whizzing by. Right now, it's less than an hour until the conference call with Mad Boy and the Webstrainer rep.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Cooking & 'Nuttery

I had a good weekend. Saturday I bought three (three!) new books. Sunday, I played in the kitchen. I love playing in the kitchen. I had a variety of ingredients I'd bought with a vague idea that they might be combined to produce some kind of food-like products.

Most of the combinations I tried were--unfortunate. Pre-made, frozen sheets of phyllo dough are fun, but you have to move faster than I move to actually cook with it. (You also need either a baklava recipe or savory ingredients--neither of which I had to hand.)

In the end, I fell back on a tried-and-true cobbler recipe and produced a cherry cobbler that was really very nice. (OTOH, what wouldn't be nice if you dumped half a cup of melted butter into it?) It kept talking to me, though, and since my butt is already quite large enough, thank you, I wound up putting most of it down the waste disposal unit.*

I shouldn't have mentioned the cobbler to Fun Bobby today. He's quite put out with me--he says my cobbler reminds him of the cobblers his granny used to make him out on the farm or something. Even the R.C., who doesn't like cobbler, complained because I didn't save her at least a spoonful of filling.

Yeah, and while I'm thinking about it, I don't want to hear from you cooking snobs about using pre-made dough. I always use it--life is too short to do otherwise. I'm more interested in playing with filling than in making dough.

Although, naturally, the batter for the cobbler was from scratch--there's no other way.

So, what else is new?

Well, I took a day off yesterday. I spent it the same way I've spent every other vacation day I've taken this year--working on free-lance projects. I got it all done, but I'm still uneasily aware that I should be working on these accounts each week, not every couple of weeks. Must. Be. More. Conscientious.

And today, I'm back at the office. Fending off 'Nuts with one hand while I dig through last week's notes with the other, trying to remember what it was I was working on before I was distracted by NewBoss Anais's request for a series of reports--reports that took 14 hours to produce--last week.**

I have accomplished very little today. I keep staring at the campaigns, starting to make edits, then stopping myself because I'm not sure what to do next. In consequence, the day is going very slowly.

The Southern 'Nuts--the S'SWest 'Nut and his Nor'East 'NutNeighbor, are complaining that their forced marketing remarriage is not producing leads. I marched into NewBoss Anais's office and said, "I told all of you not to do any of the things you've done and you did them anyhow and my position from here on out is that I don't care and I don't want to hear about it."

Sadly, she is wise to me and didn't believe me.

MadBoy & his crazy offspring have been quiet--I suspect they're Up To Something. Or, just lurking--waiting for Friday's call and the confirmation of their belief that the world is out to cheat them.

Another 'Nut location bit the dust today. (It's not on my conscience--he didn't have a marketing campaign. His opinion was that he shouldn't have to pay for leads. *boggle*) And, yes, he owed the Argonut Café a ton of money that we are unlikely to collect.

And, speaking of the corporate Café, Fun Bobby just wandered by to confirm my home phone number. They're making contingency plans, in case the snow storm moving in tonight is a big one. He said they'd call me if I didn't have to come in--I said they would be safe in assuming, if we have more than six inches, that I wouldn't even be trying.

Since the current forecast on a local news site is for "at least half a foot of snow" (emphasis theirs) by mid-morning, with more falling throughout the day, I'm already making plans.

Not that I need, you know, actual preparation. With a computer and internet access, I'm good to go.


* I'm on a diet.

Crabby Diet Girl, that's me today. I want to lose another five pounds, but I don't want it to take two months, because then I can't eat Christmas candy! So, I'm back on tuna salad, yams, turkey, and low-fat yogurt. Bleah. (Okay, I really like yams and I can live with tuna salad for a few weeks and even a strict diet lets me have a single tablespoon of gravy on the turkey to liven it up and low-fat yogurt doesn't bother me. But I can't find a "diet" category of food that would cover cherry cobbler. Makes me crabby.

Anyhow, I'm a grown-up--I can be crabby whenever I want.

** She wanted me to send out quarterly "performance" reports to all of the locations. "Let sleeping dogs lie," I told her. "Don't rock the boat. Don't ask for trouble." No one ever listens to me.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Well, THAT was awkward

I just had to talk to our Webstrainer rep about MadBoy.

I've been sparing you a rehash of the same old aggravations, but, yes, the idiot 'Nut is back and sowing turmoil in all directions.

It all started about three weeks ago when I noticed that he'd changed his campaign to deliberately target territory that's "owned" by the other two Bowery Boys--the two he used to share a single marketing effort with. Naturally that's strictly against the rules--they sign legal contracts not to do that--so I passed the info along to NewBoss Anais and hoped to remain uninvolved.

For the last three weeks, I've been forced into endless discussions about MadBoy. I've wigged out myself, pitched numerous fits, and flatly refused to be involved in the problem. I've advised my own particular ChaosManager that there is no solution to this problem and that they make a mistake in breaking the rules for this hammerhead, leave themselves open to legal action from other locations, and generally just don't do themselves or the world any favors by not shutting this guy down.

I had hoped that, at the very least, I would be come so obnoxious on the subject that NewBoss Anais would bypass me. No such luck.

As he is prone to do, MadBoy, when approached about his contract violation, counterattacked instantly, demanding (and not for the first time) that we change reality to suit the way he thinks the world should work.

Long, stupid story short--his DIY approach to marketing isn't working, the outside agency he contracted with to do it for him either isn't doing it, isn't doing it to suit him, or weirded him out in some other way, and he's decided that the fundamental problem with his life is that the Argonut Café is in violation of the contract we signed with him because we can't make Webstrainer abide by the terms of a contract they not only haven't seen and didn't sign but directly contradicts their published policies.

(More simply, one of the other Bowery Boy campaigns has better ads, higher quality scores, and spends more money. So those ads sometimes show in MadBoy's "territory." He feels that since we are unable to force Webstrainer to rewrite their software to prevent this, we are in violation of his contract.)

Anyhow, he's demanded and is getting a conference call with one of our Webstrainer reps on the phone. His position, when he's feeling polite, is that I might believe how I tell him--or, rather, how I tell NewBoss Anais to tell him--the program works, but that doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about. When he's feeling slightly less polite, his position is that I'm an incompetent jackass who doesn't know what I'm talking about. But, mostly, his position is that everyone hates him and is deliberately cheating him.

I tried. I honestly did try not to prejudice the Webstrainer rep or say anything inappropriate. She even complimented me on my diplomacy. (I never said I tried to keep the strain from showing.)

It's hard to prepare someone for a call with a blowhard know-nothing who considers themselves an expert and is inclined to scream and curse if contradicted, using only diplomatic, objective language.

Also, I'm crabby because I've been forced to actually look at his POS campaign several times over the last three weeks and several of what I dubiously think of as his "choices" have come close to giving me an aneurism.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:17 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I'm Gonna Burn


We had a sort of picnic lunch here at the Argonut Café today. I ate, like, six bitty (1-1/2") hot dogs and four bitty (1") meatballs and an oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookie. None of which sounds too evil, until you know that this was after I'd already eaten my nice, healthy diet lunch (roasted turkey breast, organic brown rice, baked yam). Granted, it was hours after, but still. Diet.

I do love me some Sekrit Food. I, along with many other women, I understand, have Issues around Secret Eating. We feel ashamed of our hunger or our snacking or our unhealthy coping mechanisms or whatever* so we sneak around and eat when no one is looking. This time, of course, it was only Sekrit Eating because I didn't hear about the potluck until three hours after everyone else had finished eating, but that doesn't eliminate the thrill of taking six bitty hot dogs instead of the more restrained three or four I would have taken otherwise.* *

I'm still trying to keep my sticky little fingers off of the 'Nut campaigns today. In fact, I need to stop messing with most of them until the end of the week. I've been very peculiar creative in my campaign changes for the past couple of weeks. While I'm aware that I might have created a nightmare, I'm hopeful that some of the edits will turn out to be flashes of genius.

While I'm waiting, I have a few other tasks I can mess around with. NewBoss Anais wants to be educated on what she's seeing when she looks at the dashboard data from the agency they're hoping to use to replace me. We have an hour scheduled to discuss it tomorrow. Naturally I needed to do my homework first, so I got the login information, logged in, glanced at the ads, and checked that research off my list. Granted, writing ads isn't easy (I have to spend 20 hours a week at it and sometimes I'm tearing my hair out), but these people are supposed to be pros.


I'm impatient to see what last week's, shall we say, 'creative editing' did to the 'Nut campaigns but it's too soon to tell.

Today's Snack Score: Three bitty hot dogs and two cookies. And a package of those fluorescent orange crackers with 'peanut butter' filling. This is turning out to be a fun diet. Ahem.

Nothing else to report.


Oh, dear.

For lack of anything more constructive to do, I poked around in the new Webstrainer interface today and found a very cool toy. Geekish story short, it tells me what would have happened last week, had various settings been different on the campaigns and invites me to make changes based on that data.

Six hours--and hundreds of campaign edits--later, I remember that I was not making major edits this week, while I was waiting for last week's dust to settle.


The most frustrating part is that I now have to wait some more to see what happens.

Would any of you fault me if I wound up spending most of tomorrow working on Gidget Stuff?

I mean, I tried just random goofing off for a couple of hours yesterday and (67 pages of Innocents Abroad fun notwithstanding) almost went mad. Although some might say that, "inert" is the best description of me during my off hours* * *, I'm really very focused on working when I'm at work.

Unless, of course, I'm surfing the Zappos site for new shoes.


* For the record, today's little binge was around the Issue of me loving KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce. Nothing more sinister than that.

* * Last week our in-house IT guy admitted he'd taken me off the All Employees distribution list back in March, when I was laid off the first time, and it never occurred to him to put me back on. Which explains why I never get the notices about all-staff meetings (I can live without them) or the notices about parties.

* * * There are few things as bewildering to me as people who defines mental activity as "doing nothing."

Posted by AnneZook at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
And Zen....

There are days when my life needs a little zen.*

Yes, I worked Saturday. But only three or four hours. After that I indulged in a three-hour shopping orgy, during which I'm impressed to report that I spent less than $30.

And then--Sunday. My day started at 8:15 am because I was determined to keep my word and get the Bernie project done "by the first of the week" and I knew it was going to take a whole day to do. Ignoring the temptations that the best kind of Colorado summer day can offer (not too hot, no rain, a little cool breeze), I plowed through the work--analyzing, adjusting, writing, rewriting, etc.

Picture my expression when I remembered, at 3:56 that afternoon, that I had, in fact, taken Monday off to do that exact, same work.

For a while I was aggravated but then it took me five hours on Monday to actually finish (the bulk of) the work, so maybe it was a good thing after all. (I spent the other three hours of my day off lunching with Gidget and playing a new game my generous but time-sabotaging niece, Rapunzel, just loaned me.)

Today I came in prepared to deal with whatever the 'Nuts threw at me. So far, nothing but a brief power outage that did me no harm because (hooray!) I'd just saved.

On the drive in today--a tortuous winding through side roads to avoid the accident blocking all lanes of the primary commuter route in this neighborhood--I was actually feeling pretty good about the status of my various free-lance effort. (I should--for the second weekend in a row I did 12 hours or more of extra work. When I say I'm a "recovering" workaholic, I have to admit that some months I'm more recovered than others.* *)

But, self-indulgent and random whining and complaints aside, I don't think I've ever had a job where management and 'clients' spent so much time leaving me in peace to actually do the work. At least, since the last round of layoffs when management got rid of anyone and everyone in the building who actually understood what it is I do.

Basically, no one left knows from nothing. I can come in and work hard on the nuts and bolts of everyone's campaign, slog through the thankless gruntwork for hours on end and no one will notice.

I can come in with a creative idea to improve--or maybe destroy, time will tell--someone's campaign and put in eight hours on the project, ignoring the claims of the other 29 campaigns. No one will ever have a clue.

I can blog, read news sites, peruse online comics, even take in a couple of chapters of King Solomon's Mine and no one will know the difference.

My point, and I do have one, is that with this much peace to work in, there is really no excuse for me to have made a weird and major change to a poorly performing campaign last week without documenting, for my own reference, precisely what it was I was trying to accomplish. It took me an embarrassing half hour this morning before I could sort of mentally retrace my steps and figure out what my goal had been.

And now, lunch (chicken curry) and a few news headlines.


* A word that means anything I want it to mean at the moment I use it. Get over it.

* * It's for a good cause.

I got one of those "you paid your debts and now we hate you" notices from my credit card company on Friday. Now that I've paid off 80% of my balance, they no longer want to know me and they cut my credit limit by about 40% They offered one of those brain-damaging "we don't give credit to people who don't have a lot of debt" excuses. Apparently not drowning in debt makes me a bad credit risk, never mind my history of paying four or five times the minimum each month on time or even early, along with the regular acquisition of new charges (automatic bill payments).

In some fashion that no sane person could be expected to understand, using the card regularly, paying their Shylockian interest rate without so much a hateful note, and paying them hundreds and hundreds of dollars more than the minimum each month adds up to the profile of someone not to be trusted.

A friend suggested that I transfer my balance away and close the account, but I'm passive-aggressive. I'm going to pay off the balance and then leave the account open. They'll have the expenses associated with an open account but not a dime of income. (At least, until I get bored of getting their junk mail.)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:58 PM | Comments (6)

Friday, July 24, 2009

I do seem to spend a lot of time moaning about how I'm just so over it all these days, don't I? Sorry 'bout that. I certainly don't want anyone to get the idea that my life is a wasteland or that I'm drowning in a sea of dark despair* or anything.

Diet, Day Two: So far, so good. 28 hours into the program and I've only cheated twice! *sigh* I'm going to tell myself that a slice of cheddar cheese and six crackers aren't that bad.

Six-Month Frugality Plan: 16 months and going strong. Three more cc payments and I should be essentially debt-free! (Aside from a not-inconsiderable chunk of change I owe the R.C., whose savings we lived on during the Great Unemployment of '07.)

In fact, aside from the midnight patio-party-hearty group living just outside my bedroom window, I don't have any real problems at the moment. (Granted, that may change after my annual physical next Wednesday.)

As we all know, trauma and turmoil make more interesting blog material than peace and prosperity. Sadly, as today's high point so far was the moment when I ate a cracker, I'm trauma-free.

I have to keep my hands off of the 'Nut campaigns for a while. I'm not only caught up, but so up-to-date that I just realized that I've spent a significant amount of time this week trying random weird things just to see what will happen. I should back off, before I actually break something.

Although, of course, the fact that nothing is actually broken hasn't prevented a handful o'Nuts from contacting me this week in a panic over various imagined problems. One person couldn't see their ads at 4:07pm yesterday, when they were ego-surfing. That wasted 90 minutes of my morning today. Another 'Nut screamed that they hadn't had a lead in a week. When I emailed back, pointing out that they've gotten seven in the last four days, they just said, "thanks for checking." I mean, what's that about?

In other sad news, Bernie did not reject my proposal out of hand. In fact, he didn't seem to choke on the number of hours I quoted for the job at all. This worries me. He wrote today to approve the proposal and ask my hourly rate, so I provided it. We'll see if that chases him off.

If it doesn't.... Well, I guess I can tell myself that $600 is $600. And that fixing the unholy mess they've made out of this client's campaign will teach me a lot about Webstrainer.

Gidget wants me to focus on improving the stats on The Gidget Co.'s client accounts. As though that's not what everything I do it designed to do, but one location in particular is complaining. As so often happens, this client, a member of Senior Central, already has the highest-performance campaign of any of his group. Sheesh. Basically, there are no locations among either the Senior Centralites or the Woofmen who are spending as much money as they should be, so I'm going to have to try and figure out how to get around that. And how to drive leads when they're not using any measure that counts leads, so I can't tell what's working, or when.

Anyhow. What I'm saying? This weekend looks like there's going to be a lot of free-lance working and very little playing. Frugal, yes. But not all that fun.

P.S. I'm sitting here, starving of the hunger and wondering if my determination to lose some weight will keep me on the Diet Path until lunch time, when I notice that it's 1:30. Maybe I need a little dinger to keep on my desk, so I'll know when it's time to eat?


* Paraphrase from, IIRC, Helen's Babies.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
So Very Bored

Today's 'Nuttery so far includes one guy wanting month-by-month report of all the searches people have used to find his campaign this year. 3k+ lines of data that it only took me ten seconds to decide to pass along "as is." I can't find myself getting excited about spending two hours formatting data that's of no use to me.

Another 'Nut called to complain that he's not seeing any data in the dashboad his outside agency gives him to use to monitor his campaign. You'd be impressed by how kind I was when I explained that it's an outside agency and he has to call them if he has questions.

NewBoss Anais IM'd and then came over in person to argue about our monthly spend. First, she had "spend" confused with "budget." Then she had a number in her head from last year--before we lost ten locations and the national campaign was slashed by 60%.

I think, though, that most of the communication confusion was caused by my complete inability to care.

My weekend was uneventful. But frugal! I spent no money, except on food.

But I did spend $30 on food. Fresh fruits and a few ready-to-eat treats. I decided that the Six-Month Frugality Plan would probably survive a single indulgence. I mean, one must eat, right? Anyhow, unless there's some kind of wild and crazy emergency, I should be done digging myself out of credit card debt in 90 days. (A mere 18 months after the debut of the Six-Month Plan!) (Although - $2,500 worth of work still needs to be done on my car, so that's probably another hit the card will have to take.)

We had something of a storm Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, 25k+ people were without power on the western side of the city. Many folks woke up to piles of marble-sized hail. Tornados, wind, rain, and all of that.

I, myself, was awake for the first round of sirens and for the start of the rain, but then a cool breeze swept through my room and I fell into the comatose state that passes for sleep with me. (I'm not a complete moron - I got up to check the weather strip and saw that the storm was on the west. Since we're very far east, I figured we were reasonably safe.)

Bored, bored, bored. I spent Monday, yesterday, and this morning rewriting 'Nut ads. I'm sick of ads.

I got Bernie's first account analyzed Monday. It was pretty funny. I mean, when he told me they were "managing" the campaigns by reviewing the website statistics, I knew I was going to find some problems, but I did at least expect to find campaigns set up by someone who had the ghost of a clue. (I studied data for three hours Monday evening and I still don't understand what they were trying to accomplish in some parts of the campaigns.)

Anyhow. I did a write-up and submitted a proposal to him for 25 hours at $25/hour. Since I know his limited imagination can rarely go beyond four hours for any job, and paying more than $10/hour gives him ulcers, I expect this proposal will be sufficient to get me off the hook.

I mean, I don't precisely want to burn the bridge. I just--want traffic kept to a minimum, you know?

Now I have to go rant about a story I saw in today's news.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:22 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, July 10, 2009
Bundles O'Charm & Buckets O'Joy

I thought we'd start on an upbeat note for a change.

And now for something completely different....

This week's theme? I'm a waste of space. My brain continues to be over the Argonut's campaigns and other problems. NewBoss Anais asked if I'd be willing to discuss some stats with a 'Nut one day next week and I offered her a million dollars if she didn't ever make me talk to any of these people again.

The electricity they spent having me in the office and my computer running this week? Was money wasted.

I talk a lot about how I've improved the performance stats for these campaigns, but not much about the bottom line. The bottom line is that the campaigns aren't pulling enough leads to be worth the money spent on them.

At least, that's what the 'Nuts keep saying. When I point out that they're getting double the number of leads they got this time last year, they dismiss that as irrelevant, claming that this year's leads are no good. And that last year's leads were fabulous. I can't figure out if they're suffering from The Good Old Days syndrome or if the kind of lead our business model relies on really is thin on the ground this summer?

And I'm finding it increasingly difficult to care.

I had occasion to need a list of our "best" ads this week, so I ran a report of all the ad variations I've tried this year. Excel choked on the result, so I trimmed it to just ads in campaigns currently active. I wound up with a spreadsheet having 59,000+ ads. Which I subsequently boiled down to 120 "best" ads and another 94 "worth trying again" ads. My head is so tired.

I cannot think through all this hair. Fortunately, I have an appointment for Monday.

(Whoops! I was sitting here, working on a new Gidget client's account and Jason came strolling over to ask me how things are going. I wish I'd heard him coming. I'd have combed my hair or something, in honor of the occasion.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Armageddon It On

Sometimes I reach pretty far for titles, yes.

The administrative staff population here at the Argonut Café is on strike. The four young (so, you know, not me) women who took on most of the work from laid-off employees have found their spines and, as of this morning, are no longer performing maid services. Those members of the staff who find themselves unable to reach the extra six inches required to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of dropping them in the sink will now find themselves facing an ever-growing mound of food-encrusted glass and tableware.

As Tyro said (and I agree), the staff all have plenty to do with their actual jobs and anyone too enfeebled to put their glass in the top rack of the dishwasher should probably be considering full-time disability. Also? "Female" is not synonymous with "mother."

Tyro (heretofore mentioned as one of the few National 'Nuts who actually liked Jason, on a personal level) is adding an additional level of strike-ness to her personal list. She's no longer cleaning Jason's office (I didn't know she did). Not because of busyness (although she has lots of that) but because he was so rude and unprofessional to her the last time they had an extended conversation that she's no longer speaking to him except on purely professional topics.

He didn't have that many people here who actually liked him, as near as I can tell. I don't think he could afford to lose one. (OTOH, I'm not even sure he's noticed he lost one.)

Another Argonut Afield is leaving the fold. As far as I know, this one isn't taking our toys and building his own sandbox. He's just leaving. Granted, as Tyro and I also discussed yesterday, what we're losing are the weak locations who thought "franchise" meant "no-stress success," it's still painful to lose another location.

In other Armageddon news, the daily storms continue apace. Mornings and early afternoons are lovely. Then banks of black storm clouds roll in, the wind starts whistling, and deafening rain batters the city. It's actually kind of nice. (1) The nightly news is no longer full of whining about low water reserves, and (2) it cools the air down, allowing me to sleep.

The other day, we had so much rain, so hard and so fast, great armloads of rocks were floated out from under the hedges and trees to accumulate in the streets. (I'm guessing, maybe, 3-4 wheelbarrow loads outside our building.) In the storm drains, the high-water debris line averages about four feet above stream banks. People in "garden-level" apartments or unlucky enough to have ground-level doorways are getting flooded.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sorry! Sorry!

The emails are coming in. People seem concerned at the long silence.

My apologies. Not dead--just busy. Working for Gidget as new clients keep coming on board, struggling through end of month reporting for the 'Nuts, facing yet another 'Nut News deadline, and a touch of food poisoning (Monday and yesterday) that just had me feeling ick.

So, on a more (or maybe less, take your pick) cheerful note, what's new at the Argonut Café? Well, I'm still light on gossip because I never know what's going on, but Gidget* attended a party of Vela's a couple of weeks ago and found out that our controller, Fun Bobby, is seeking new employment. Rats deserting the sinking ship* * is one thing, but when the Money Man starts packing for an exit, that's pretty serious.

NewBoss Anais came to my desk to talk about the S'Swest 'Nut and his Nor'East 'NutNeighbor and I told her, "I'll do whatever you decide. I'm over those two." And she said, "I'm over them too.

The S'Swest 'Nut (see June 10 entry for a reminder of this situation) actually let me manage his campaign for two whole weeks before he made me shut it down because it "wasn't doing anything." (Apparently improving performance by 400% in two weeks is nothing.) Now he and his his Nor'East 'NutNeighbor are being forced (by Jason) back into a marketing marriage and since they're both more interested in blocking the other's business than they are in getting leads for themselves, I'm doubly over them.

Y'all remember PeaNut? Well, add PeaNut's name to the list o'Nuts who are taking our toys and going off to play by themselves. For those of you keeping score, that's four locations who have quite illegally taken our (comprehensive) training and our business model and gone off on their own, leaving tens of thousands of dollars of debt owed to the Argonut Café. PeaNut, if gossip is correct, owes more like hundreds of thousands.

Anyhow. I don't have massive plans for the upcoming long weekend. I'll probably work on Gidget's campaigns all day Friday, by way of a change from working on 'Nut campaigns. At some point, I plan to go out to lunch (a usual "payday weekend" treat. And I indulged myself in a little splurge, so I have two new seasons of Corner Gas* * * to watch. (Hooray!)

Aside from that, I'm just plodding through the days.

Sneaking in bits and pieces of extra work for Gidget during the day as she continues to find herself unable to tell Vela, "You gave me $400 and then turned around and handed me a $4000 job. This does not entitle you to $4000 worth of our time."

Forcing myself to the computer at home late in the evenings to slip in the odd half hour or hour of work on Gidget's campaigns. I really should put in at least 16 hours a week on them. There are eighteen of them now. I mean, the 34 'Nut campaigns require about 50 hours a week, at a minimum, and they're not "new" and in need of major adjustments on the fly. I do have evenings and weekends, of course, but I'm having a certain amount of difficulty making myself put in the time. I may have to allocate an hour or two a day, as soon as I get home in the evenings, before I have a chance to get too relaxed.

As much as I love Gidget, I have to admit that money is part of the issue. Carving 16 hours a week out of my "free time" for the grand sum of $100 a month doesn't excite me. I know we're currently on "introductory" terms with these two new clients, but I had a heart-to-heart talk with her about charging people for what a service is worth.

"Start as you mean to go on, because you never get a second chance to lay the right foundation."

It seems to me that I can hear the echo of my voice saying that over and over and over again but no one listens.

Anyhow. Short week and I just lost 30 minutes of it typing this, so I'd better get back to analyzing data.


* Gidget, frighteningly enough, got the flu last week. And now her doctors are saying there's "something wrong" but that they don't know what it is. She's got me, her family all worried again. Months have gone by but she cannot be said to be actually "out of the woods" yet.

* * The rat in this case is me. I'd desert if I could get out of here.

* * * The RC finally expressed a mild interest in seeing the show and I showed her the first episode last night. She wasn't impressed.

I don't think I never figured out how to describe it to her. It's sort of like Andy Griffith only Canada instead of the US and for the 21st century. Gentle, you know? Edgier than AG (my Favorite Show Ever) because it's a more sophisticated world, but the same, essential gentleness. Possibly she was expecting that something would, I don't know. Explode. Or at least happen. It's very much character-driven, and you have to give a show like that some time.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:35 PM | Comments (8)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just talked to a New'Nut, who said, and I quote, "It never occurred to us to go out and find customers.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:13 PM | Comments (2)

Hey, Kids! Let's Put On A Show!

The circus. I sweartogod, I'm running away to join the circus.

This morning, one nitwit 'Nut got snippy with me because he's in Kentucky and he can't claim a Webstrainer local mapping listing for a city in Tennessee. Apparently the concept of "local" is too hard to understand.

The S'SWest 'Nut was unsatisfied with the report I ran demonstrating that his campaign is pulling three times the traffic of his Nor'East 'NutNeighbor's campaign. He was unsatisfied with the report I ran showing that, during the five morning hours when he claims his ads do not show, he receives over 30% of his daily ad shows. He was unsatisfied with the report I ran showing that quality issues, most of which could be easily fixed are the root of his problem. He was, in fact, positively belligerent.

And, in spite of (very) grudgingly giving me a week to produce a series of miracles, he was back today, less than twenty-four hours later, threatening legal action if, as near as I can tell, we don't change reality to suit him.

MadBoy, still unhappy with the performance of his campaign that is now under outside agency management is nevertheless blaming us for his unhappiness. Yesterday and today, he's been screaming into our email about how his 'NutNeighbor's campaign is stealing his traffic. He asked an incomplete question of some random Webstrainer person he got in touch with and got a misleading answer--one that served to reinforce his belief that we are deliberately trashing his life.

NewBoss Anais, in spite of my hissy fit when she mentioned it, forced me to actually call our Webstrainer rep and ask if reality can be changed for these two lu'Nutics. (I mean, how humiliating is that? Who makes someone call an "expert" to ask if C is part of ABC?)

"Don't feed the bears," I told NewBoss Anais. "If you do, they'll never leave. They just keep coming back, getting meaner and meaner."

While agreeing with me, she still made me call.

I know she doesn't mean to diss me by making me get "expert" advice to prove that I know what I'm talking about, but it's still very demeaning.

Also? So embarrassing. There was no way to disguise from our Webstrainer rep that I was being made to call and ask her to alter reality. I did try, but at one point, she told me how sorry she was that I was having to deal with all of it, so it's pretty clear she understood what was going on. In response to my request. She was also flatteringly grateful to find that I'm still here. (She's had to conference in with 'Nuts before and has few illusions.)

Yesterday's wig-out might have had one positive result. This morning, NewBoss Anais told me that Jason was calling the S'SWest 'Nut, telling him that it's clear that separate campaigns are not working, and that he and his Nor'East 'NutNeighbor have to annul their (marketing) divorce and bring all their toys back to one sandbox.

Also, NewBoss Anais swears that they have a company hired to do some of this, one that will start on July 1. And an individual to replace our lost web design/tech person. And two companies who will sell the 'Nuts leads, which will hopefully keep them busy enough to shut them up.

The way this week is going? July 1 will be too late. Yesterday's panic attack happened at 2:00 pm. Today's symptoms kicked in at 11:00 am. Tomorrow's will probably commence the second my alarm goes off in the morning.

Gidget and Vela cancelled for lunch today. Vela is apparently so socially popular and active she can't make lunch for two or three more weeks. Gidget and I are getting together next week. (No word on whether or not Lina accepted Gidget's invitation at all.)

Fortunately, I have friends who are better to me than I am to them and, if I can survive until Monday, are going to help me with that talking down off the ledge thing.

Also, I have a NewBoss who saw through my feeble protestations about Fatness and who is going to provide me with almond M&Ms one day soon. :D


P.S. Sadly, NewBoss Anais also confirmed, in no uncertain terms, that they have no plans to lay me off at all. My vague vision of a summer funded by unemployment checks has evaporated.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:31 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The Trouble With Being Me

Right now, the biggest trouble with being Me is that there is no one I can call and scream, "Talk me down off the ledge!" at.

I might just sit here and have a quiet heart attack or, as I threatened to NewBoss Anais this morning, I might run away to join the circus.

I know--generally I have a joke about it all, but for the last couple of months, my stress levels have been climbing daily. So much so that I'm now back to having at least one interval every day where I sit here and feel my heart pounding, wondering if I'm going to make it. It's starting to be harder to find any funny.

As you will realize, at least in hindsight, my increasingly frequent references to weekend shopping sprees signal a return to Retail Therapy. I've gained another 1-1/2 lbs. I can't get out of bed in the mornings because I sit up so late at night--reluctant to go to sleep so that I have to wake up to face another day.


Today, it's both the S'SWest 'Nut and MadBoy. I won't bore you with the details, just assume it's more of the same.

Mostly, I'm just sitting here at the moment.

You know. Breathing. Doing a little ommmm.

Reminding myself that Big Girls Don't Cry.


Honestly, I just can't afford to lose an hour a day to stress. I already had to spend an unanticipated six hours (out of the last two work days) working on the S'SWest 'Nut's campaign, so I'm already behind schedule for the week.

Make people not be so stupid, okay?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:36 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, June 8, 2009
Same S, Different D

I'm starting to feel a little bruised.

Last week's S'SouthWest 'Nut (the one who thought his Nor'east 'NutNeighbor's ads were stealing from him)? Well, he's back. And, no surprise, last week's round of ill-advised changes to his campaign did not fix the basic quality problems. ('X' was broken. He changed 'Y'. This, essentially, exacerbated the problem.)

While still preferring to believe that some mysterious something elsewhere in the universe was ultimately responsible, he nevertheless agreed to NewBoss Anais's suggestion that he turn his campaign back over to us here at the Argonut Café, to see what we could do with it.

She came to my desk and told me to get started working on fixing the issues ASAP. So, I did.

And hour later, he was on the phone with her again, complaining that I was making changes and he didn't know why I was changing what I was changing. He wanted to be informed.

With me so far?

He still wanted to be informed, she asked me to call him, I did. And--wait for it--big surprise coming--he didn't want to "be informed" so much as he wanted to fight.

"I'm not getting any traffic, my changes were fabulous but now my campaign doesn't work, you want to undo my changes but it's just your opinion that that will help and I disagree, someone has to help me and it has to be now because I can't wait a month, isn't it true that Webstrainer likes my Nor'east 'NutNeighbor better and he has a better area and so I'm going down in flames no matter what I do, what are you going to do and where is my guarantee that it's going to work, what makes you say my quality is worse than my Nor'east 'NutNeighbor's and don't quote me statistics because those are just numbers and I want to ask a Webstrainer employee directly why my campaign is broken because I need to talk to someone who understands these things, you don't know this but six years ago when I had five times the territory, I ran perfect campaign for forty-two cents a day so clearly I am the expert and you're ignorant and I've never liked you." At various points in time, he point-blank refused to believe in reality.

Once he got a significant amount of that out of his system, two things became clear.

#1 His idea of Doing It Myself was predicated on the expectation that I was handing him a 100% functional campaign that would run by itself.

#2 Failing that, if he could make me describe everything I was doing and planning to do--he would essentially get a free How To course while remaining free to describe me, to the 'Nut network at large, as incompetent.


P.S. MadBoy called today as well, but he called NewBoss Anais, not me. Cursing name-calling, abusive. His old charming self. He was pitching a fit because he hasn't received a lead in a week. Checking his campaign, I was able to provide NewBoss Anais with a potential cause for this problem. His campaign has been shut off for the last week.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:28 PM | Comments (4)

Friday, June 5, 2009
You Know What I Like?

It's always the one day when you forget to check your email first thing in the morning that you find one of those "come and see me" emails from Upper Level Management waiting for you, isn't it? And then, when you finally notice that you have an email from ULM, you go to their office and someone else is already in there, right? And then you sit at your desk for the next 45 minutes, wondering what in the heck is going on and who's complaining about you now.

That was how my week started.

Anyhow. Turns out that one of the Southern'Nuts had called, convinced that the 'Nut on the other side of town was stealing his business by encroaching on his Webstrainer campaign. But he didn't call me with this (idiotic) complaint. No, that would have been too sensible. After all, I'm the person who handles the Webstrainer campaigns, including the one in question, and the one who works on them every day. Asking me a question would be just stupid. No, this 'Nut contacted Jason directly.

Hey, he whined. My Nor'east 'NutNeighbor's ads are trumping mine online! Clearly he went into his campaign and told Webstrainer to take all my leads! Anne's supposed to be watching this! When did she last check it?

So stupid. Who calls the president of a company asking how recently some low-level employee has completed a routine task?

Story so boring even I don't care cut short--he's a DIY 'Nut--he chose to manage his own campaign, beginning the first of last month. I went and looked at his campaign. It took ten seconds for me to figure out the "problem."

Someone else isn't deliberately encroaching on his territory--he's made such an unholy, gross mess out of his campaign that Webstrainer has just pretty much opted out of showing his ads.

Like PeaNut from earlier entries, he couldn't wait to destroy a campaign I spent a year building, testing, and refining. And then he couldn't wait to blame someone else.

Cause and effect, people. If you make 500 changes one day, and the next day, your campaign seems broken? Maybe it was your changes and not someone somewhere else in the world sneaking in to your campaign and "breaking" it.

You know what I like? I mean, even aside from getting blamed for people somewhere else doing something I have no control over? I like working with a bunch of people, none of whom have the slightest concept of the basics, much less the nuances and complexities, of marketing, but who nevertheless have the power of 100% veto each and every step of the process.


Posted by AnneZook at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's aggravating when you get a Bad Moment in the middle of what should be a triumph, isn't it?.

I'm just, you know, over breaking my heart for this place. It's hard to keep caring. You've all heard my endless whining about ingratitude and stupidity, so I won't repeat that particular theme today. Instead, I'll offer a variation.

Three locations have closed in the past three weeks. Two were owned by one pair o'nuts and the other by a hitherto unmentioned she'Nut. In both cases, I've been beating my head against the wall for a year trying to find business and drive it to these people. No matter what I drove, they just were getting enough "good" leads to keep the bills paid.

Or, so they said. Just now, I was told that these Bad 'Nuts did not, in fact, "fail" due to lack of business.

No, in fact, they seem to have had an abundance of business. So much so that they decided they would be better off taking their little gold mines and running away from the home office. Each of these former 'Nuts has, in complete violation of their non-compete agreements, reinvented themselves as a competing, stand-alone businesses.

And, yes, they left owing us here at home tens of thousands of dollars.

The pair o'Nuts are suspected of having spent the last six months funneling money into a sekrit account, while crying poverty and not paying us their contractual fees.

The she'Nut actually declared herself bankrupt--but not until a month after she incorporated her new business (operating out of the same physical location) and moved all of her assets over to it. About all she left in the old 'Nut business was her debt to us and now, via bankruptcy, she's asking the courts to absolve her of having to pay it.

Why do I even bother?

Although this is a unique situation, I honestly do feel, much of the time, as though I've spent most of my business life enriching people who subsequently pack up and move on without so much as a good-bye wave.

I was already in a funk today. It's month-end reporting and for the first time since I wandered into the Argonut Café--sixteen months ago--leads were flat last month from the same time last year. That's the first time I haven't delivered an increase.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:38 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Let Me Tell It To You

Via email, the L-i-K-S gave me to understand that my incoherent rants about the stupidity of the 'Nuts and the insanity of the Argonut Café in general have been--well, incoherent.

Brief recap, for those not following along at home:

April -08 Two Café employees leave (one from my department). Management proves strangely slow about replacing them. Remaining staff parcel out duties (I am awarded the 'NutNews) and life continues much as before.

Jul-08 Jason decides he needs "experts" to implement the marketing changes described in Gidget's Next Level Plan, so he outsources. (He apparently feels that she is smart enough to teach him what needs to be done, but not smart enough to actually do it.) $40k, paid in advance, for new content. (New content subsequently rejected as "not working" although never actually used.)

Aug-08 For reasons I still don't understand, six months later, TeamChaos decides that the company providing 50% of all of our sales leads, across the entire company, is outrageous in increasing the cost-per-lead by $1. TeamChaos cancels the contract. The lead flow (costing approximately 25% of what we pay for leads from every other source) ceases. Two weeks later, the 'Nuts Afield begin complaining about the drop in leads received.

Oct-08 Jason decides that in-house location sales should be outsourced. New company hired ($35k, IIRC, paid in advance) but since the affected ChaosManager is on maternity leave, her position is safe and her salary continues. (60 days later, outsource company informs us that there's no market for our product and, one assumes, laughs all the way to the bank.)

Nov-08 During the Regularly Scheduled Monthly Meeting, TeamChaos stresses the "hard times" motif, blaming the economy, and discusses, in detail, cost-saving measures. We are informed of a change in health care coverage, the new plan being about 80% as good as the previous, only adequate plan. And that we are now all required to contribute toward the cost of our health care from now on.

Dec-08 First round of layoffs. Gidget goes, leaving this department 40% down on staff and 75% down on knowledge, company history, and job expertise. Simultaneously, 50% of the revenue-generating positions in the home office are eliminated. Apparently, making money costs too much. Less happy, but still cooperative, the remaining staff parcel out duties and start cramming in the hours.

Jan-09 During RSMM, the "hard times" motif reappears. We are all informed that we must take a 15% pay cut and extra duties. (I take on no additional tasks. Any spare energy I have is tied up in survivor's guilt around being employed while Gidget, who got me the job, is out of work. Which, in turn, is exacerbated by the news of Gidget's near-demise and continuing serious health problems.) (Also, Jason dreams up a truly catastrophic new approach to making money and it sucks down all of my and Vela's time for the next six weeks.)

Mar-09 After spending tens of thousands on the all-new, poorly conceived, badly designed plan to generate revenue for no cost and no effort--a plan doomed to failure and which would have enriched everyone's life had Jason just burned the money and saved us the stress--the remaining home office revenue-generating positions are eliminated, including the national sales person who was bringing on a new national account every month. Half of TeamChaos also gets the boot.

And, not incidentally, I get the boot, except I get a two-week grace period so they can actually transition my job to, well, someone who knows how. Because it finally occurs to Jason that some kind of proven sales lead generation could be considered a good thing.

In the meantime, Gidget is climbing back toward reasonable (not "good") health and starts interviewing potential clients. She signs one and I start helping her out in my spare time. Mostly just advice and consulting.

Apr-09 My lay-off is confirmed but my two weeks is extended to six weeks, due largely to protests filed by 'Nuts Afield. Many of them who complained loudly about my work over the last year now decide I am the Bee's Knees and the Cat's Pajamas.

Gidget signs another client and seven locations need campaigns created and activated.

May 09 Although confirming my lay-off, in the latter days of last month, my two weeks is extended early this month, at the annual conference. The lay-off is not cancelled - it's just that the effective date is now "indefinite."

I neither hear the announcement nor receive from Jason the invitation to chat about it that he promised NewBoss Anais he would deliver. In fact, he is clearly avoiding me as the month goes on. NewBoss Anais confirms that they continue to interview replacement companies to handle all the (as it turns out) necessary work formerly done by the now-defunct marketing department.

Gidget requests campaigns for another five locations and, unable to watch her struggle with the job, I also take on the management of fifteen active accounts.

Later in the month, after pricing what it would cost to replace me, my ChaosManager tells me I am fabulous and asks me to remain indefinitely, providing caviare-level service at my current pigs-knuckle salary.

*cough* Sorry. Ranty today.

The L-i-K-S also said that Rapunzel is feeling sick. Poor girl. Take a moment to send her some healthy vibes, okay?

This weekend I had occasion to go in and try to clean out my email inbox. I found an invitation to a party from a friend who is now probably former and who will never speak to me again. I found a notice telling me I owed a tenner to the guy who won the basketball brackets thing I was involved in, what was it, two months ago? I found a form from my insurance agent that I was grateful to realize had not gone unsigned and unsent. I found coupons for bookstores, invitations to shop at sales, demands that I protest this or that government (or opposition) idiocy. I found interesting conversations I could have participated in. I could have connected with people via twitter, linked in, blog, journal, or forum. There was information I promised friends that I never sent, lists I mean to resign from still sending me mail, and causes I would have donated to if I'd seen the notices in time.

I have got to get a better handle on my life.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:54 PM | Comments (4)

Friday, May 22, 2009
Am I Smarter Than I Look?

I've been making a point of popping into NewBoss Anais's office two or three times a week, just to keep her up to date on what I'm doing and what issues I'm facing. And to tell her, over and over, that to do Webstrainer correctly, it has to be all I do. That's usually right before I forward her an email or tell her about some voicemail I received from a 'Nut that someone--not me--needs to deal with.

I may have to stop visiting her. When I popped in a few minutes ago, she looked a little wild around the eyes. (Hey, it's not my fault that the entire marketing department, including everyone who knew all about everything we were into, got laid off and all she has left is me.)

Tommie the Temp has been freelancing for us for four or five years. We rely on him. Or, rather, we relied on him. Because he graduated last week, already has a shiny new full-time job, and no longer considers $12 an hour exciting money.

NewBoss Anais has asked me, three times in three different ways, if I'm sure I couldn't do Tommie's tasks. And I've been honest with her. Some of it is not outside my capabilities. But it's an issue of time.

I have to focus on what I'm doing.

Which brings us around to the Potential Smartness of Me. Because it turns out that the money we spent for SEO (search engine optimization) efforts last fall was wasted--I've been told that management never got the new webpages live. Which, in turn, means that the phenomenal quadrupling-quintupling-sextupling (is that a word?) of our campaign quality scores is solely the result of my efforts over the last year.

Finally! Being obsessive-compulsive pays off!

Boy, am I glad to have a three-day weekend.


P.S. Update to the PeaNut story!

Turns out that PeaNut was so desperate to get access to that stats package because he busted his campaign while "doing it myself" and was determined to find out what I had done to it before I turned it over to him. He clearly suspected deliberate sabotage.

Bottom line, one day, in pursuit of total insanity, he sat down and dumped his vocabulary into his campaign. As near as I can tell, every word he'd ever heard, aside from articles and pronouns. Consequently, he was spending his daily budget in four hours every day, and getting nothing for it. Instead of seeing any kind of cause and effect (yesterday I did "A" and today I see "B") ?
He chose to decide that a change I'd made for him the week before (and at his request) was the problem.

The lengths to which people will go not to be "wrong" astound me. I mean, all he had to do was to keep his mouth shut and fix his mistakes and no one would ever have known. But that would have meant admitting, at least to himself, that he had made mistakes.

What a loser.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:34 PM | Comments (3)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
And Then My Head Exploded (for the 1,042nd time)

In today News of 'Nut Insanity, we have PeaNut. PeaNut is one of the luNUTics who decided to "do it myself" when it came to managing their campaign. Today he's bitching because a stats package isn't properly directed to the (nonstandard) website he's chosen to use and claiming he needs this done instantly because he needs "real time reporting" for campaign management.

You would be proud of me. I just emailed back to him that I would pass his request to NewBoss Anais.

I did not point out that reporting in Webstrainer runs about 3 hours behind "real time" (as per the note on the front page of his campaign). I did not point out that reporting on the Webstrainer stats program runs as much as 24 hours behind "real time" (as per the note on the front page of his campaign).

I did not even point out the complete insanity of sitting hunched over your keyboard, mouse at the ready, waiting breathlessly for something to happen so you can make a change.

I mean, I'd heard through the grapevine that MadBoy (or his "I took a four-hour class and now I'm an expert" offspring) was spending "hours and hours a day" on "managing" his campaign, but I swear, I had no idea that the rot was so pervasive. I now have this image of all of the DIY 'Nuts all neglecting their businesses for the pleasure of staring at a (largely) unchanging screen of data hour after hour, determined to prove that "any idiot can do it."

(Speaking of MadBoy, I glanced at his overall stats as I scrolled down the account list this morning. He's still spending a lot of money and getting nothing in return. If that's how success is measured, someone should have told me. I could have done that.)

One of the Local 'Nuts is coming in today for a "surprise" award of some kind. I forgot, so I didn't dress for it. (I look fine - I'm just not dressed up.) This week, I'm largely focused on finding those items in my wardrobe that are appropriate for high summer temperatures. Some kind of inversion-front-thingamajig seems to have settled over Denver and temperatures are forecast to be close to 90.

I mention that by way of explaining that sitting in a building cooled by central air is, some days, something of an offset for the pain of all the 'Nuttery.

In the meantime, I have Good News I'd like to shout about, and there's no one available. Gidget is offline, and she's the only one who would really understand what a triumph this is. Even NewBoss Anais, who doesn't really understand but who is really good at faking interest, is in a meeting.

Brief background. Webstrainer assigns "quality scores" to the words you advertise with. 8-10 is Great. 5-7 is OK, with 5-6 being on the pathetic, get a life side of the scale. Below that? Google wants you to go away.

The goal is a Perfect 10, of course, but this place hasn't had a lot of experience with perfection, and no one ever seemed to care.

Improvement isn't easy--it's not just the words you choose, it's the ads you write and the web pages you link to (and how often you update said pages). When I drifted into the Argonut Café, most of their quality scores were sevens, with a sprinkling of 4-6 scores and the occasional 8 or 9, just to tease.

I whined at the rest of the department until I got them to make occasional updates to the website. We did some SEO, fell in line with some "best practices" measures, I increased bids drastically, I deleted poorly scored words when no one was watching, and, starting in January, started ruthlessly replacing poorly performing ads after giving them a week or so to prove themselves.

Today, I weep to report that I logged into one account and found fourteen words tagged with quality scores of 10. Fearing an anomaly, I logged into a different account and found thirty-two words with sparkling Perfect 10 scores.

There's no one here to care. Sigh.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2009
Two And An Egg

I'm developing some kind of new--not exactly an ailment or a condition, but a thing. I'm calling it Mouse Heel. I spend so much time using the mouse in this job that I swear the heel of my right hand is developing a slight callous. It's very peculiar.

More 'NutNews dinking around today.

I am having my passive-aggressive revenge on NewBoss Anais, for not rewriting the piece o'crud she grabbed from someone's website. She said it was good "as it is." So, I put it in the 'NutNews just like it was. Three font colors, bolding, underlining, twisted syntax and all. (You understand, there's a 50-50 chance that neither she nor Daenna, the other surviving member of TeamChaos and the one actually overseeing the 'NutNews these days, will see anything wrong with it.)

The weekend approaches! Without those interminable and abusive NIMO meetings, Fridays are once again a thing of joy. I don't have major plans for the weekend--much depends on the weather. Forecasts vary wildly. Sometimes they promise us our seventh (or is it eighth?) weekend of rain in a row. At other moments, they speak blithely of sunshine and temperatures around 70.

Right now, I'm seeing a 20% chance of rain here on the Front Range and a high of 67. In the mountains, a 40% chance of rain and a high around 48.

Yes, the weather matters. One inexpensive and fun weekend thing to do here is to take yourself up to some mountainous area and walk for a couple of hours or more. Since it can snow at any season in the mountains, the weather forecast is important, okay?

New toys! I indulged myself in a new lipstick last weekend. It's a "lip stain" designed to keep color on your lips long after traditional lipsticks have gone the way of the dodo. I remembered to try it this morning and I'm pleased to be able to announce that now, two hours, two cups of coffee, and an egg later, the color remains! It's very exciting. It would be more exciting if they'd had a color I felt was actually becoming to me, but whatever.

No, I shouldn't be frittering away money on things like that, but after 14 solid months of dumping pretty much every spare dime I had into paying down that credit card balance, I'm seeing a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I think it's going to my head. To keep myself under control, I logged in to my credit card account this morning and dumped half my current cash assets (not a large sum of money) in as an "extra" payment.


P.S. Before I could get this posted, the first draft of edits on the 'NutNews came back. With that one gross mess of an article extensively edited. Sadly, it was edited in the same color of font the original article featured, so I'm having a little difficulty telling the edits, comments, and changes, from the original text.

I stomped into Daenna's office and told her that I'm not getting any younger, the she's wasting precious hours of my life I will never get back, and that it's a lot easier to do this stuff right the first time.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Try Going Native

It's 'NutNews time again. As usual, I'm trying, but failing, to do the coding without actually reading the content. (I mean, forget wars and bank collapses and the infrastructure crumbling around us. We have got to do something about our schools.)

Jason's annual Argonut Address almost put me to sleep. I've never read prose so labored--not even my own when I'm trying my hardest. Among other things, it seems clear that our Jason was terrorized by a comma as a child. Or maybe just by a native English speaker.

There is one article, about a fraud warning, where I honestly can't tell if the companies named are the perpetrators or the victims. I filed a complaint with NewBoss Anais, but she reread the fraud article and said it made sense, so maybe I'm just too picky when I think that just because it's possible to understand something if you read it three times is no reason to make everyone read it three times. Just rewrite the stupid thing. Especially if you grabbed the text, word for word, from a website not written by a native English speaker.

Since I inadvertently woke up at 6:15 this morning and was at the office by 7:08, maybe I'm just tired and crabby, but I want to repeat how glad I am that I decided to take my name off of that newsletter. I would just die of mortification if anyone thought I'd written a single word of it.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:25 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Bitch, Moan, Whine

Work seems too hard today. I'm trying to come up with some new creatives (ads) and stupid Outlook pop-ups keep reminding me that I have tasks not related to my Real Job that need to be done. Then I waste time being aggravated, start back to work, realize I'm editing a creative that's already successful, have to revert all of my changes, stop to be aggravated again, and then eventually get back on track. Right about then, another stupid pop-up interrupts me.

I'm not entirely focused today. I suspect I may need more sleep.* Maybe I'm not sleeping well, who knows? The problem, as I told my doctor last Friday, is that when you sleep alone, no one tells you if you snore drastically or toss and turn all night.


I wish they would unemploy me today. It's 85 and sunny outside.

But, no. I have to go into the database of addresses for the 'NutNews and start deleting the emails of people who no longer work here. Bert is whining at me to get that done. The emails of everyone no longer here get routed to his in-box and he got, like, ten copies of the 'NutNews last week. Made him grouchy.

If anyone cares, I've seen Jason three times this week (some kind of record!) and not once has he even hinted at his conference-inspired decision to keep me on "indefinitely." Heh. If he had the courage to talk to me about it, he could relax, knowing that I understand that by "indefinitely," he didn't mean "long-term." A coward dies a thousand deaths....

Gidget IM'd me today with good news She's in talks with a third large client. If they say yes, then the Gidget Co is good to go! Not one, but two former ChaosManagers are now at organizations that could use the Gidget Co's expertise. (Networking rocks.)

In the meantime, she sent me the info on two more campaigns for loading. I must remember to sit down and do that as soon as I get home this evening.


* Maybe I'm becoming a geezer? Geezers have sleep issues.

I went to bed early last night. It was only 11:15. Since I don't roll off my pillow much before 7:30 (I have a fast morning routine), I should be bright and chipper today. Some old people don't sleep much, but maybe I'm going to be a sleepytime geezer?

Oh! And a stupidgeezer! I almost forgot to tell you that I was outside on the balcony last night, around 7:30, watering my plants, when I glanced at my car and realized I had left my headlights on! The poor R.C. had to come out and let me jump my car from hers, then I had to go drive around forever to recharge the battery.

While I was out, the R.C. signed me up for AAA. She's been wanting me to join for years. Somehow I was under the impression it cost hundreds of dollars, so I never go around to it, but now I'm a card-carrying member! (Or, you know, I'd be a card-carrying member if I'd remembered to put the membership info she printed for me into my purse Stupidgeezer!)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:14 PM | Comments (3)

Monday, May 11, 2009
The Taste Of Summer

So, I got involved in one of those casual office conversations last week and somehow the subject of bringing in treats for your coworkers came up. Or, it might have been something else. To be honest, I don't really remember and I wasn't paying that much attention. Anyhow, at some point I mentioned casually that I had a great recipe for blackberry cobbler and that I should make it for them 'sometime.'

The idea was an instant hit with Fun Bobby. He mentioned it, every single time he saw me, for the rest of the week. "Sometime" became "Monday" in some fashion I can't quite remember.

Long, boring story shorter. I made it. Brought it in. Everyone loves it. Fun Bobby came over and said it was the best thing anyone had ever brought in.

This was probably less about my cooking skills than, as he revealed, the association with his childhood. Apparently his grandparents lived on a farm in Kansas and he has fond memories of roaming around, picking (and eating) blackberries, and his grandmother's blackberry cobbler. (He actually asked if it was a Kansas girl thing--we were all born knowing how to make great blackberry cobbler.)

I swear, he was almost teary-eyed. It's amazing how some scents and flavors can do that, isn't it?

I've been puzzling all day to identify a food scent that can do that to me.

P.S. They ate it all up!

Posted by AnneZook at 05:08 PM | Comments (4)

Where Am I?

Pursuant to my impending unemployment, I tried to pin NewBoss Anais down last week--after the Conference euphoria had passed for all of them--not for a final date, but at least for a date when we could actually discuss the date. She avoided the topic, saying she would be "grateful" to have me "as long as I felt able to stay."


Excuse me? I've been given three different "good-bye" dates. Unless I'm on the wrong kind of meds, I'm pretty sure that's a strong indicator that they would not, in fact, be grateful to have me around in the future.*

Also? I know that they're still interviewing companies to replace me, so she being very polite, but not helpful.

I'm not trying to be hard to get along with, but I do need to know if I'm outta here next week or next month, okay?

The R.C. says I work in the Hotel California. I've checked out, but they won't let me leave.

Me, I say it's even weirder. The hotel management came to my room and requested me to check out. Now they're holding my luggage hostage and claiming they think I'm a wonderful addition to the décor.

Short of assuming that they're stalling while someone in the back is rifling through my bags and stealing my Fabulous New Panties**, I don't know what to think.

In any case, I loaded up three new campaigns for Gidget's clients last Thursday, and sweet-talked her into letting me manage all of her current campaigns for at least a week or so, so my Next Big Adventure is taking shape in the wings. Now that I've been laid-off three times by this same company, the only thing I need to do is actually become unemployed and she and I can focus on getting the new company really rolling.



* Jason's announcement to the 'Nuts Afield last week, notwithstanding (another great word). Never forget that his main goal in life is either to stop the whining or to get it migrated to some outside vendor, so he can say, SEP!

** My apologies to the male portion of the audience who would rather not hear about what goes on under my clothes.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm going to reinvent myself online. I'm going to call myself Edwina Emerson Kaldwell and I'm going to sign all of my posts eek! Won't that be fun?

Some days, I feel the urge to be someone new.

I know you're all out there, waiting with breathless anticipation for the Rest Of the Story on the rest of the conference. (Personally, I'm over it. That was then. This is now. eek! did not attend a conference, so she has nothing to say.)

Saturday was a pretty standard conference sort of day. 13 hours long and full of long, boring intervals. The high points, as always, were the food. I arrived in time for breakfast (eggs and bacon, hooray!), got a nice lunch (roasted pork with bbq sauce, mashed potatoes, and string beans, very nice), and was fed a good dinner (Chicken Wellington and chocolate-chocolate cake).

The two roundtables I thought I was attending as back-up and support turned out to be hours when I was supposed to be making a presentation. Possibly that information was conveyed to me, previously, and I just didn't understand it. All I know is that by the time I bothered to read the program around noon on Saturday, it was something of a shock to me to see my own name down as a presenter.

Fortunately I am not one of those 90 or whatever percentage of people who view "public speaking" as something more to dread than dying. Being on solid ground as to your subject matter helps, of course, but anyone who knows me knows that a monologue is my favorite kind of 'conversation' under most circumstances.

I was depressingly successful.* I was inundated with people wanting one-on-one chats after the first session--so many so that by the time I rid myself of all of them and headed toward the bathroom, I'd completely forgotten that there was a second group of 'Nuts, already gathered.

I am bitter to have to report that after the second, similarly successful presentation, MadBoy intercepted me and, in what I can only assume was a desperate desire to be part of the "in crowd" forced me to publicly shake hands, again, and accept his weasel-worded not-quite-an-apology for, you know, calling me an asshole, telling all the 'Nuts he could get to listen to him that I was grossly incompetent, mean, and spiteful.


But whatever. At least that got rid of him, freeing me to visit the ladies' room, right? And he's not a long-term part of my future.* *

I snuck outside for a moment of peace and a smoke. As I arrived back in the building, NewBoss Anais stopped me to say that while my back was turned, Jason had announced to the Assorted 'Nuts that he had been "watching" me and was impressed or something. Anyhow, that he intended to keep me on "indefinitely" anyhow. ( ! ! )

Which is, you know, very nice and all, but it hasn't stopped them from interviewing companies to replace me, so I strongly suspect that we're still looking at another 30 days for the timeline and that Jason is hoping that the new agency will be so popular that the 'Nuts will settle down and stop whining.* * *

But! In today's "pursuant" moment, pursuant to the aforementioned reinvention, I met with a potential client for lunch yesterday and since he's a former Argonut Café employee (laid-off last month), I'm doing him a small, freebie favor, setting up a small campaign for him. If it's successful, he's already told his new company that they have to hire Gidget's company and pay for our services in the future, as they roll out to twenty or thirty locations.

And! Gidget emailed this morning and one of the laid-off members of TeamChaos has a new job and they are going to need--wait for it--internet marketing!

My interval of unemployment might be much shorter than I had originally feared.



* At the first session, NewBoss Anais and I drew at least as many people as Jason's "informal chat with the CEO" did. At the second one, we were SRO and people were two deep around the table. ( ! ! )

* * Just in passing, I noticed as I was doing end-of-month stats that MadBoy's campaign has actually started to perform. Not amazingly well, but amazingly better than it was performing. Someone let slip today that MadBoy is "spending hours and hours a day" working on it. Heh. "Hours and hours."

* * * Which, for some reason, reminds me! There's a certain statistic Webstrainer offers, around the "share" you got of all the traffic available to your accounts. When discussing it, one WebstrainerPro said, very casually, "of course, you'll never get 100%, but you can work to improve your standing." For the record? Last month, three of my campaigns achieved 100% And seven of them were above 95%! (We should all be so incompetent.)

Posted by AnneZook at 05:16 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, May 1, 2009
Sounds Of Evil Laughter

I just heard from the first 'Nut who has actually started managing his own campaign. He logged into his account this morning and was faced with the new UI. Freakout! He wrote demanding to know what I'd done to it, why I'd changed everything, and what he was supposed to do now.

He's on everyone's List anyhow--the national Conference is taking place and he's not attending.

And he's dishonest. He's been complaining that he hasn't worked in "weeks" when I can see from the stats on his campaign that he's getting at least half a dozen leads a week and everyone knows he has a couple of accounts he does work for regularly. It's a lie he tells so he doesn't have to pay his royalties. This particular 'Nut owes us, IIRC, several hundred thousand dollars.

Several of the 'Nuts cry poverty every other day. Most of them are telling lies to avoid paying their royalties. Jason was hoping that the news that he'd laid off 75% of the office staff because of cash flow problems would shame these bad 'Nuts into paying up. I can't decide if he's naďve or stupid.

Today I am not at the Conference. Hee. Last night I showed up at 4:15 and stayed for three hours. Lacking any desire to bond with any of the 'Nuts, I volunteered to help out at the registration table, thus freeing a couple of other employees who did want to chat with attendees.*

Tomorrow's fun starts at 7:00 a.m., with breakfast. Shudder. I don't think I have to be there for breakfast, though. I'm pretty sure NewBoss Anais said something about 8:00 or 9:00.

Originally I had a Fabulous Ensemble picked out, but it occurs to me that a 14-hour day is going to require something special in the way of comfortable shoes, so I'm rethinking. (None of my F. E. are compatible with the one pair of shoes I own that can be worn for that many hours.)

I was overdressed yesterday anyhow. I had on my Fabulous Interview Ensemble. Everyone else was wearing khakis or black pants and a 'Nut logo polo or button-down shirt. I need to dress down a bit for tomorrow.

Gidget! Gidget had a meeting in the neighborhood and stopped by. She only had a minute, but I passed along what little Conference gossip I managed to collect last night.

She gave me money. :-( I didn't want her to pay me for the work I do for her until the business is up and running, but she said she couldn't square it with her conscience to keep asking me to do things for free. I did point out that I've done 75% of what I've done for her on Argonut Café time, so technically I'm already being paid, but she insisted. In the end, I gave way graciously. I'm going to save the money for a cash-stash for when I'm unemployed.

She's figured out which one is the madboy (there's one in every crowd) at one of her new clients' locations. When she was working with him a couple of days ago, he suggested that maybe he needed to hire "a professional" for his account. eye*roll* She's a nicer person than I am. She didn't hire anyone to go beat him up, for instance. She just told him that, in fact, she was a professional, which was why she'd been hired, and let it go at that.

I keep being glad when I remember it's Friday, then aggravated when I remember that half my weekend has to be wasted on the Assorted 'Nuts.

Which reminds me that I need to get my month-end stats done. NewBoss Anais wanted me to bring them tomorrow.


* Fate being what it is, one of the very first 'Nuts I was faced with was--wait for it--MadBoy! He came rolling over (he's a pudgy little thing) with his hand outstretched and a big smile plastered on his face. "I'm the mean guy from (city)," he said happily.

You'd be so proud of me! Hovering there, on the tip of my tongue, were the words, "I'm the asshole you got fired for trying to help your business succeed."

I showed restraint. I said, "hello." I have him a brief, limp handshake. And I smiled. (Just a little one.)

To give him credit, he clearly saw that I was not in an all-is-forgiven-now-let's-get-drunk-and-party kind of mood. He left and did not return.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:44 AM | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Ignorance Really Can Be Bliss

I had occasion today to go look at the online version of the agenda for next week's Gathering O'The Nuts today, for the first time. I've seen lame prose in my life, but rarely have I seen anything quite so painfully lame.

No web page with less than 500 words of text should have been able to achieve that level of mediocrity unless there was, I don't know, some kind of competition and a hefty prize involved.

I can only imagine that the project was handed to someone whose lifelong determination it has been to remove all of the excitement from the concept of "boring."

It's 'NutNews week. A quick, pain-filled scan of the five articles revealed that the same ChaosManager responsible for the aforementioned (second-best word ever!) agenda is now responsible for churning out newsletter articles.

There are moment when I look forward to my imminent unemployment with relief.

But! It's not all joy in Mudville, nosirree. As I discovered yesterday, our apartment building isn't a jar of jam. I popped home during my lunch hour and now I'm not at all sure I'm prepared to start spending my days there. I mean, not if that woman in the lobby is usually to be found hanging out, chatting on her cell phone, wearing nothing but a pair of sweatpants and a bra.

It's a public space, you freak! Take yourself and your dingy undergarments back into the privacy of your own apartment.

This used to be a nice, even sort of upscale, apartment complex. I don't think my life is improved by knowing it's become some sort of slum where a 'ho in a raggedy bra can wander around without causing comment.*


* Well, not completely without causing comment, because clearly I'm commenting, but you know what I mean. I didn't comment to her. First, she was on the phone and it would have been rude to interrupt her. Second, weirdness scares me and I instantly assumed she was crazy and consequently could be dangerous.

We've had crazy before. One woman, many years ago, was loaded into a truck with padded walls and driven off into the night. IIRC, she had her clothes on.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, April 20, 2009
Just Peachy

Sometimes people are glad you're a Luddite. Today Bert has needed to find an error in some kind of worksheet--but it was an error that showed up only when the document was viewed in 2003. I'm the last hold-out in the office. (The downside? I was kicked off my computer for fifteen minutes.)

Starting tomorrow, the temperatures are supposed to hit the mid-70s. I suspect the remaining three-foot drifts of snow won't last long. That's a pity. I am oddly and endlessly amused by watching the miniature streams and rivers created by the runoff.

I'm being all healthy and stuff these days (I've put on five pounds since I started working here), so I bring a little container of peaches to work with me, to have for "dessert" after my chicken-rice casserole and that's all fine until I go to open the hermetically sealed package and I wind up having to pull so hard on the little tab* that I splash peach juice all over myself and, granted you can't really see it because I'm wearing black but I smell funny.

Actually, I think the peach juice was mostly water, but I suspect I might smell funny.

Two more of the 'Nuts in the process of divorcing their shared marketing campaign partners have announced that they're gonna do it themselves. I've stopped warning of disaster or complaining at all. Ever since Webstrainer rolled out the new, somewhat more complicated UI last week, I've been snickering sneakily.

I keep wondering why they keep employing me, after they've already told me they can live without me gracing their lives. My latest theory is two-fold:

1) It's time for the April 'NutNews issue and they realized none of the remaining staff know how to put the newsletter together;


2) The annual Gathering O'Nuts is coming up in two weeks and they realize that, face-to-face, they can't avoid discussing online marketing with all 40 or 50 'Nuts, but none of them have more than the vaguest possible idea of how it all works.

I'm at peace with it all. Another paycheck! A roof over my head all the way to the end of May!


* No wonder they were on sale. Childproof!

Posted by AnneZook at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Dangerous Spring

It's springtime in Colorado and, by way of celebration, Mother Nature isn't dumping a snowstorm on us until later tonight. With a forecast of only six inches, I can't quite justify working from home tomorrow. Very sad.

I'm very bleah today.

I brought some pastry to have for dessert today. Ever since I ate it, I've been thinking that it was just a little off, you know? I guess if I'm dead or hospitalized tomorrow, it's my own fault. I should have noticed as I ate it.

Of course, if I'm d or h tomorrow, it might have been the yogurt I forgot I left sitting on the counter, stuck back in the refrigerator, then ate two days later.

I do live dangerously.

Today I'm in trouble with Fun Bobby for not taking advantage of having been assigned a spot in the parking garage. I told him I'd forgotten, but that's not really the problem. The problem is that if I park there, when I exit I have to go south and I live directly north of the office, so I'd have to go down two blocks, make a left-hand turn in heavy traffic, make a u-turn somewhere back in that residential neighborhood, come back to the main road, turn right, and drive the two blocks back to the spot where I started. For someone with a long commute that might not sound so bad, but I estimate that it would just about double my drive time.

Someone already tried to run me over last night, so I don't need my commute to be any more dangerous. (He wanted my lane. Specifically, he wanted the piece of my lane I was driving in. He was Very. Angry. When he realized that I was not going to evaporate so he could take the space I was occupying.)

Gidget emailed earlier, needing help with her Webstrainer campaigns, so I stopped doing the work I'm paid for and helped her out for an hour.

I was focusing earlier today, and very intently, on the work I'm actually paid to do. But then I had to spend 2-1/2 hours setting up the physical radius of two campaigns for 'Nuts who are next door to each other but who don't get along well enough to share a single campaign. I think my brain melted down. (This process usually takes me about five minutes per campaign.)

Yesterday I took about fifteen minutes out of my morning to go and chat with two or three of my co-workers. I was bonding, okay? People complain that I don't do enough of that kind of thing, so I invested a few minutes in it.

Just to prove that it can be dangerous to goof off on company time, when I got back to my desk, I found that I had fallen hopelessly behind on the technology curve* and was in danger of no longer knowing how to do my job!

I was going to worry about that, but I have a month in which to get caught up, so I decided not to bother.

I have to go to the stupid 'Nuts stupid annual conference. It's in two weeks, which I guess answers the question about whether or not I can squeeze another paycheck out of this place. NewBoss Anais has proposed that we do two "round-table" discussions so we ("I") can tell people what they "need to know" about their internet marketing.

I reminded her that, from my point of view, what they need to know is that it all works a lot better if they don't know anything and don't try to help. She did not seem to feel that this showed the right spirit, but it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

I'm even boring me today.


* Webstrainer rolled out their new UI** and it was every bit as confusing as I'd feared it was going to be.

And buggy. I hate how technology companies have taken to beta-testing their products on their paying clients but, in Webstrainer's defense, their program is so complicated and there are so many ways to use it that I doubt if a beta-group exists anywhere in the world capable of actually testing it.


** User Interface

Posted by AnneZook at 04:06 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, April 10, 2009
Want Some Candy?

Apparently it's a holiday of sorts, for the Christian types. I came in this morning to find a couple of pieces of celebratory candy on my desk. I don't eat candy, not really, not except for Dove dark chocolate, but it's a nice gesture.

Yesterday, Jason announced that he thought I should move my desk to be up in the cube-farm aisle next to management. (Currently I'm in the far back corner of the office. The only way to put more distance between myself and my coworkers would be to move me out of the office completely.)

I rejected the suggestion on account of the noise--management shouting and carrying on, a thing that interferes with my afternoon nap--none of which is true but which amused them all--but mostly I don't see the point in shifting myself and the four personal items I have left in the office to a new location. Why waste the time and energy on someone who's only here for another couple of weeks?

I'm not goofing off, you know. I blog for my co-workers' benefit. Someone told me this morning that if it wasn't for the sound of my keyboard, no one would even know I was here. The other afternoon, someone was shutting up the office and they turned off the lights! I had to holler at them. If I'd been writing a blog entry, that would never have happened.

Recently, I was chastised for posting such boring blog entries. Part of me is aggravated. (I know many people who frequently post boring blog entries. Do I take them to task? I do not.) Part of me is concerned. Oh, no! If I post boring entries, all four of you will stop reading? And then what will I do? I'll have to post whatever I want, any time I want, to amuse myself! That will be so different!

Anyhow. I can't make stuff up, you know. If there's no drama, there's no drama.

Yesterday I sent out quarterly performance reports to all the 'Nuts, showing them what's been happening with their campaigns this year. Predictably, today I'm facing an influx of emails from Stupid & Annoying 'Nuts, asking why things are more expensive than they were last year, why projects never implemented aren't working, and what's going on with accounts managed by someone else.


One location was urgent (and almost incoherent) in his request to "carbon copy" what MadBoy is doing.

First, I don't know what MadBoy is doing, because MadBoy is managing his own campaign. I handed him a very good campaign but have no idea what he's done to it in the last four months. He stooped to asking for help a few times (help that I did not give him), because it was running so poorly. This is not behavior I would personally want to model, but we're prohibited from talking about the 'Nuts to each other, so I can't tell the urgent guy.

Second, last month, MadBoy spent almost $900 to get three leads (not "jobs" - just "leads"), so I'm thinking that copying that performance is, you know, not such a lofty goal.

If my head explodes, you should sue these people because it will be their fault.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. It's amazing how the prospect of shopping, even just shopping for a single pair of shoes being paid for with money given to me by others, can cheer me up. It's a bid odd, because I'm not normally All About Shopping.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Minor Update

Little to report on the 'Nut front today. An incredibly brief conversation with NewBoss Anais yesterday afternoon revealed the fact that she would be "grateful" if I would continue showing up for work next week. Beyond that, she knoweth not, but she promised to find out in today's management meeting. Her best guess is "a couple of weeks."

Gidget has come to me with about ten "how do I...." questions already this week and is grousing because I'm not yet unemployed :-) and available to do this stuff for her.

I continue to reside in a world where no one can pay me but everyone wants my services. Flattered but homeless, that's me. *

I've done a fair amount of work today, including one "monthly" project that I realized had not been done since early November. I even returned a call from a 'Nut, which is normally against my policy. (I reached his voicemail, though, so I didn't have to talk to him. Since he's one of the Bowery Boys, that made my day a little brighter.)

Yesterday's HairMan appointment passed without incident, unless you consider having to have my color done twice to cover the stubborn gray an incident. I've been dyeing the gray since I was 22. I was trying to add up last night just how much I've spent over the years, but I finally gave up. A lot, anyhow.

Last night's outing cost me a cool $100. When I made the appointment, it was under the assumption that I would be sending out resumes and (with luck) going on interviews and that it would behoove me to look my best (youngest). I can't afford to have it done again for a long time and now I'm thinking I should have rescheduled.

Oh, well. HairMan is also suggesting he might be ready to move ahead with his website project and that maybe in the future we can trade some of my expertise for his. I know the feds hate it when you barter instead of trading easily taxable cash, but who cares? * *

Bored and boring today, aren't I?

Oh, and I talked to Gidget again and she decided we can take on some of the 'Nuts on a freelance basis--as long as we pick and choose. So, you know, another step toward making her fledgling company profitable and creating my own new job! Pursuant (such a fabulous word) to paragraph #2 above, she can't wait to turn all of the "stupid software junk" over to me so she can spend her time talking to clients and being creative.


* If it weren't for gross exaggeration, my day would have no drama at all.

* * For the record? I support their taxation of money. They print the money. It's thanks to them that we have an easy, portable way to transfer value and I agree that they're entitled to a cut. Like a royalty.

But I've never agreed with them trying to tax the value of bartered goods and services. They don't own me. My time, knowledge, and abilities are mine, not theirs. If I choose to trade my time for a pizza instead of the $5 it would take to buy a pizza, that's my business.

And, yes, I know I'm not on firm legal, moral, ethical, or logical ground here, but that's what I've chosen to believe today.

(My morals are flexible if I need a haircut? How pathetic is that?)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, April 6, 2009
Yes, No, Whatever

Yes, we had snow, off and on, all weekend. No, we did not actually get a blizzard. Some meteorological thing happened in the middle of the night Friday and most of the moisture passed us by. We had frigid winds, cloud cover, and intermittent snow all weekend, but I doubt if our total accumulation was more than three or four inches. And, yes, true to typical Colorado weather patterns, today we have bright sunshine, dry roads, and there's a kiss of spring warmth in the air. No, this isn't our last brush with winter. Not as far as I know, anyhow. We're due for another storm later this week.

Weather aside. (I wish I'd been paying attention so I'd know just precisely when it was that I became so interested in weather. When I was younger, I would frequently wake up and be surprised to see six or eight inches of fresh snow. I never paid attention to the weather forecast. Now, sometimes it's the most interesting part of the nightly news.)

No, I have not yet talked with Jason to find out whether or not this Friday is going to be my last day. I hate people who ambush me with complicated questions first thing on Monday morning, so why would I do that to someone else? I plan to hunt him down and chat with him tomorrow.

Today, I don't want to draw attention to myself. There comes a time when the home "touch-up" of my roots isn't cutting it any more and I have to spend the money to have the job professionally done. And, yes, this is that time. I want to slide out ten minutes early, so I'm staying quiet.

I went to lunch, though. (Worth mentioning since it's something I do about once every two months.) It was Fun Bobby's birthday today and a group of people decided to take him to lunch. Since I've done very little voluntary bonding with my co-workers, I went along. (You never know where your next job lead might come from.)

Yes. If I can eat dinner and read a book at the same time I watch television--and be able to follow what passes for a "plot" on the show? It's stupid. Which is why I don't actually watch a lot of television.

No. I disagree with the ending. Booting up my computer is part of my workday. Why should I work an extra ten minutes a day just because the company computer runs like molasses?

I'm a bit at loose ends today. Not knowing how long I'm going to be here - I'm hesitant to start any long-term projects. But it's been so long since I've just done my "normal job" that I can't remember half of what it was I used to spend my time doing....

Posted by AnneZook at 01:31 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, April 3, 2009
No One Tells Me Anything

I think I'm laid off again--in the short term, I mean. We had Mandatory Bonding Brown Bag Lunch Wednesday, then an all-staff meeting. When Jason mentioned marketing, he pointedly did not meet my eyes when he talked about "things we'd like to do to the website someday when we have money again" and then later he did say I would be staying on to "transition" the accounts - which is more of a two-week project than a four-month project.

OTOH, for the rest of the time I'm here, the staffing levels are down so far that we've all been given parking spots in the garage!

The next snowstorm is set to move in around midnight. In the meantime, the skies are turning yellow and the wind is howling. If I was in Kansas, I'd be watching for funnel clouds. As is it, I'm watching the clock and wishing it was time to go home. I'm just over this place for one week.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:19 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, March 30, 2009
Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down

I, however, am not a weeble.

I might fall down.

The heretofore unmentioned ChaosManager, Anais, who has assumed temporary command of my (work) life, pushed me today to answer the will-you or won't-you question about taking on some of the 'Nuts on a freelance basis. She also said that she thinks most of the NIMO are not planning to inflict themselves on me (or any other professional), but planning to manage their own accounts. So, you know, now I'm inclining toward saying, yes, I'll do it, because I have no grudges against the not-crazy 'Nuts.

But Gidget, who is on the verge of being able to hire me but not quite there and maybe not going to be there until the end of summer or some time like that, Gidget is not willing to work with any of the 'Nuts. So, if I take them on, I have to trust that they will, in fact, send me checks each month. Checks that do not bounce.

Life being the continuing source of irony that it is, it turns out that my unemployment benefits, should I collect them, are actually very little less than the amount I'm making under the new, discounted salary plan here, so definitely more than I'd make from freelancing for a handful of Assorted 'Nuts.*

I was raised to work for a living, so I'd rather work. I'm just saying. Crazy people + not enough money to live on, vs. no crazy people + just about enough to live on while I look for something better.

This conversation, you will be interested (or, you know, not) to hear, even though I've already inflicted most of it on you, could be largely academic.

Turns out that Jason's version of "stretching" my final day here is less a question of another four or five days than it is another few months.


Don't get me wrong. I'm still going to be laid off. It's just more like I'm being given three months' notice, instead of three weeks.


Or something.


I've already cleaned out my desk, you know. Mentally, I'm already taking a long, leisurely break (one day) before diving full-time into the job search and signing up with a temp agency or two for some extra income. I've already laid the groundwork with Bernie and Buehler, to inspire them to come up with some freelance stuff I can do for them. Gidget is already looking for projects I can do freelance for her in the interim.


It's not definite yet, but the week after laying off 50% of the Argonut Café staff because we were on the verge of sinking faster than the Titanic, Jason is suddenly talking about having the money to hire yet another outside company, this one to handle the website changes and improvements that Gidget and I begged for last spring. And I guess he's decided I'm the one who knows how to make it happen or how to tell if it's working or--heck, I don't know what he's thinking.



* Those of you concerned that I might (a) eat less and lose some weight; or, (b) be forced to stop smoking for lack of the money to pay for such an expensive and slow method of suicide, well, you can relax. I won't be wealthy, but I should be able to keep a roof over my head, gas in my car (wish me interviews!), and some food on the table. How much food depends on how much COBRA is going to cost me.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:22 PM | Comments (4)

Thursday, March 26, 2009
Here We Go Again

It's blizzarding outside and I may go home to work this afternoon, but in the meantime I'm in the office and in need of a break.

And, you know, I want to whine. I am being laid off. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, I'm about to be unemployed. They are outsourcing my work. The Argonut Café no longer wants to deal with the crying and complaining from the Argonuts Afield when their advertising fails to magically produce a hundred thousand dollars in business each month.

Fine. I get it. As I told Jason, this is not my first time at this particular rodeo. I saw the writing on the wall quite some time back. I've been hoarding my pennies and cutting back on all my expenditures and I won't have to collect food stamps for a while.*

But! (And, let me add, !!)

Jason came to my desk yesterday, looking embarrassed and saying he had an "interesting situation" or something like that. I rather expected to be told that they'd decided they could do without me starting right that minute.

But, no! It seems there was a two-hour call with the NIMO yesterday, and you know what? They told him they don't want to change how their marketing is handled. They want me to keep doing it.


After making my life a misery for the past four months, the news that they won--that they are now free to do it themselves or hire whatever outside company they think can do better--this news upset them.


Jason came to my desk to tell me this, to apologize because he still doesn't intend to reinstate my job but to say that maybe my "final" day of April 10 might be "stretched," and to ask if I'd like to take some of the Assorted Nuts on, on a freelance basis.**

Why is it that I'm always losing my job, but always having to fight to actually become unemployed?


* I love being pathetic

** Am I cynical or justified in being just a teeny bit concerned that he might fight my unemployment claim, saying they offered me work and I refused it?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:00 AM | Comments (5)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And now? More Mandatory Fun!

Posted by AnneZook at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

The End Is Near

It's not quite the "final" curtain for me - but it's getting close. It looks like it's also close to the final curtain for the company.

They had another round of layoffs today. 9 people. Considering there were only about 14 of us left, that's a pretty clear sign they're going down, don't you think?

I got a temporary reprieve. I'm here until April 10, during which interval I'm supposed to 'transition' all of the accounts to outside management. Then I get two weeks' severance, which is generous. (A company doesn't have to give you severance if they give you two weeks' notice of a layoff.)

Jason called me in for a special one-on-one meeting because he didn't want to have to tell eight people they were out of work today and then turn to me and say, "but not you." Also, rather surprisingly, to say many nice things about me and the phenomenal job I've been doing. !! It's even possible he meant part of it--he came up to me later and mentioned that if I do freelance work, he has a friend who wants to small PPC campaign. !!

I have too many thoughts to organize them properly.

It's hard to walk around the office and see everyone crying because they're losing their jobs today and not be a part of it, you know? The fact that I'm going to be close on their heels notwithstanding. (I have trouble with Survivor's Guilt.)

But I'm grateful for the extra two weeks because it's another paycheck. Also, I have accumulated "vacation" time they'll be paying me for, which will help.

I've been very careful, financially, for quite a while now. I don't have a lot of savings, but with this much notice, I can scrabble together enough money to live on for two or three months. And then, if I haven't found gainful employment yet, there will be unemployment.

But! Jason is still sneaky. I mean, he can talk airily about 'transitioning' the accounts but I got the real story from Vela. The locations are being given the choice to go with outside management or to manage their own accounts. The idea is that I will teach the people who choose to manage their own accounts. Me! Teach the Assorted 'Nuts how to 'manage' their own accounts. !!

By the way. I got an email from Webstrainer this morning that they're rolling out an entirely new interface and everything is going to be new and special in a couple of weeks.

*brain explodes*

I can't talk about this now. I keep getting interrupted by people coming over for "goodbye" hugs.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:48 PM | Comments (7)

Thursday, March 19, 2009
Ohmigod, Part 5,422

The upcoming issue of the 'NutNews, which I'm still editing since I've been unable to find anyone else in the building who recognizes a sentence fragment when they see one or who understands the use of a comma, contains a highly biased and incredibly misleading "grassroots alert" warning the 'Nut franchisees that the Employee Free Choice Act means the end of secret ballots and labor unions and the death of small business and in their own interests and the interests of their employees, they should fight it with all their might.

I see Jason's fingerprints all over this and maybe you'll say that I shouldn't care, but I filed a complaint with Vela and said that the newsletter is not the place for partisan politics.

I stopped editing long enough to do one other thing, too, and that's to go into the online template for the newsletter and remove my name and email.

This isn't going out with my name on it.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)

Mandatory Crazy Days

This place, as Vela said to me the other day, is a freakshow.

We're having Mandatory Fun this month.

There was a Guess The Baby contest. Everyone was supposed to bring in a picture of themselves under the age of two (I think) and then we all had to look at grainy photocopies of the pictures and guess who was who.

Since I rolled out of bed both late and disinclined on Monday, I wound up working from home and didn't get my picture submitted.

They spent three days 'celebrating' St Patrick's day and I don't think there's an Irish person anywhere in the office. The 'party' culminated with green beer (Coors. Ugh.) and one of those giant birthday cookies for Grace, who has a March birthday, on Tuesday. (She didn't show up at the party, in spite of the email announcing that attendance was mandatory, so we ate the cookie for her.)

Now we're having mandatory PTO. This company is one of those who eliminated 'vacation' and 'sick leave' in favor of a single bank of Paid Time Off days. And, apparently, the company is on the hook for too much time on the books in some weird fashion I don't understand.* Everyone has to take a day, anyhow.**

And? They're going to a "use it or lose it" policy.

A company that has cut every department by 50% or more and where the remaining staff members are now doing two or three full-time jobs each, where employees have been told to come in on time and stay as late as they have to, to get the work done, is now going to take away our vacation because no one is taking time off.

Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Anyhow. I'm taking Monday. I double-checked with our Controller, Fun Bobby, who also acts as our HR department,and that's all they need at this point - for everyone to get eight hours of time off (expense) off the company's books.

Aside from that, Jason, who is On The List for too many offenses to remember at this point, spent last Friday's NIMO ('Nuts with Internet Marketing Opinions) meeting calling on me for my opinion and mentioning the things I want that he thinks should be priorities.

This was not, you understand, about praising me or actually being supportive of my priorities. No, it was about not-so covertly dissing Vela. I am not amused by being used that way.

Vela has updated her resume and her online profile and is already scouting her next job.

What with all of this, I'm doing the same. I've touched base with both Buehler and Bernie (!!) and am scheduling lunch with DiamondGirl.

Gidget, of course, is never off my radar these days. (She getting stronger. Slowly but surely.)


** Okay, yes, I understand it. But it's boring.

** Anyone but me ever notice that you used to have up to five days of sick time a year, if you needed it, plus ten days of 'vacation' time--then companies started rolling them in together and suddenly you got ten days of PTO? A very slick way to cut down on benefits, no? And the single largest reason I can think of for all of those plague-infested people to continue to drag their infectious bodies into the office day after day. If they stay home sick, they get no vacation time until next year.

The other hot trend in smaller companies is to cut down on 'holidays' (many are ceasing to give the day after Thanksgiving and if Christmas falls on a Thursday, they expect your butt in the office on time on Friday), so one head cold means you basically never get a break.

By the time you add Reaganomics-inspired cheap labor policies (lay off or fire 25% of your staff and work the rest of them harder), it's no wonder "productivity" seems to climb every year in this country.

Basically, our entire economy has been a 'bubble' since the '80s, but that's a digression. (It's a pity that being opinionated and writing rants and spouting ill-informed opinions isn't a paying job.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:39 AM | Comments (3)

Friday, March 6, 2009
I'm Just Not

Email, surfing the 'net, reading online magazines, abusing rightwing ignoramuses, none of my former amusements amuse me any more. I'm just not into them.

It's work stress - I don't have time for a lot of daytime surfing at this job and almost always work through lunch.

It's friend stress - Gidget is much stronger than she was and actually able to drive herself short distances and whatnot, but her doctor's appointment this week found a new infection and they've changed her antibiotics and doubled the dosage, so she's a long way from "well." I drove out to her house on Sunday (27 miles!) to explain how to manage an advertising campaign. Then I took the data home with me and created it for her and uploaded it, to save her the exertion.

It's my own illness - I didn't realize until I actually started feeling better that that last virus had hung on for three very long weeks. I mean, sure, I knew that by 3:00 every afternoon, I was falling out of my chair with exhaustion, but I'm not smart enough to have figured out that maybe I was still sick. (Can you blame me? I mean, Vela and I were unquestionably taking enough abuse every day to justify feeling beaten with a stick after a few hours.)

Most of it, though, is Rapunzel's fault. My beautiful niece (well, one of my two beautiful nieces) recommended a DS game called Harvest Moon to me last fall. I put it on my Christmas list and, lo! Santa provided!

I can barely begin to estimate how many hours I've put into this game in the last two months. Conservatively, I'm thinking 250+. Almost every spare second I've had, that's certain.

The poor R.C., who actually owns the DS, got a new game from Santa as well, but she never gets to play it. I'm starting to think the $130 investment for a second DS might be wise.

If she takes her game box back, how will my chickens get fed? Who will harvest my crops? Who will give the little red-headed girl a present every day? Who will rescue the Harvest Sprites? Ohmigod, it hardly bears thinking about.

This game manufacturer produces games with an occasional tendency to freeze up and corrupt your file. I read about it in the walkthrough I found online. Me, being me, I decided to take my chances. And, yes, last week my file froze up. Six (game) years into it all, I had to start over. That's normally the sort of thing that would put me off a game permanently, but with this one I just paused to mourn the loss of my $99,000,000 (took a lot of fishing to earn that!) and started over.

Today we had Mandatory Fun at the office - a "healthy food" potluck lunch. I tried out a new quiche recipe that I wanted to take to a brunch on Saturday. It was a reasonable facsimile of a food-like substance. Would have been much-improved if I'd remembered the salt and pepper. Shrug. I might rethink the mushrooms, too. Mushrooms are good in quiche, but the color puts me off.

For those of you keeping score at home? On the work front, leads were up this February by 20 percent over last February. News like that will probably get me fired. (That is, if Jason isn't already contemplating doing without me after I told him last week that his new pet program has been a waste of money, resources, and the dwindling hours of my life.)

There was a whole thing around me being snippy at MadBoy in an email and being made to apologize to the world at large, but I'm over it and it's too tedious to go into detail about. (Basically, he bragged that his ability to spend $20 for online marketing and not get anything for it proved that I don't know what I'm doing.)

The news that we're not paying most of our vendors, any of our free-lancers, or even some money we owe to some of the Argonuts Afield does not inspire confidence about this company's future. I'm starting to hoard my pennies against the next bout of unemployment.

The economy is not this company's fault. However, Jason's tendency to throw $50,000 at outside consultants every time one of the 'Nuts questions a Home Office policy, instead of backing up his management staff is this company's fault. If we had the money we spent last year on projects commissioned from outside sources and then thrown away before implementation? We wouldn't be in financial trouble at all. We wouldn't have had to lay off staff and we wouldn't all have had to take a pay cut. (Which gives you a broad idea of just how much money we wasted last year.)

None of which excuses my decision to bypass working this afternoon in favor of blogging, but I hadn't updated in so long it was ridiculous.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)

Monday, February 23, 2009
Ohmigod, Part 5,421

Vela has the day off. "As you know" her email said, but I didn't know. I think that, in the future, any time she has the day off, I should be allowed to work from home.

About 8:30 this morning, I got called into Jason's office. 90 minutes of mutual frustration followed as he tried to pin me down on why this or that wasn't working or this or that was working here but not there. He wanted, for the third time, a crash course in "internet marketing" and seemed aggravated that I was not able to offer the kind of single talking point "reasons" for everything that he was willing to take the time to memorize.

Now it's 10:30 on Monday morning and I'm already sitting here, doing the ommmmm thing and talking myself down off the ledge.

I just can't deal with a job where every week starts out this badly. I should not feel, 2-1/2 hours into the week, so badly in need of a weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:04 PM | Comments (3)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Shoulda' known

Turns out that last week's surprisingly good and productive day was the product of the rush of manic energy my body experienced before it succumbed to whatever plague virus is circling our office.

I fell apart last Wednesday, struggled through Thursday and Friday, spent most of the weekend curled up in a chair (with the humidifier going), and managed to get most of my brain functional by Monday morning.

I thought I was better today. I took a Tylenol PM last night and slept well, so I woke up feeling better than I have for the last week. But now it's not even noon and I'm exhausted again.

Some of that is probably residual (I still have congestion and a slight cough) and some of it is 'Nut-inspired.

They're putting the pressure on. Jason is feeling it--so he's putting the pressure on Vela. She's feeling the stress--I think that's why she succumbed to the plague last week. It's been a tough week here at Marketing Central.

The Assorted 'Nuts are all wigging out because they have no business.

Yes, leads are still up. But they still don't like those leads. They still don't want those leads. They still want different leads. Somehow, in the middle of an economic collapse, these people have the nerve to bitch and complain because their leads aren't precisely, exactly the sort of thing that's easiest and most profitable for them.

One guy, hired to handle phone calls for a "virtual location" is bitching because he has to actually talk to people on the phone. He thinks we should have a better system.

Another guy (MadBoy, who else?) wants us to find a way to divide "business" versus "residential" inquiries because he's too good to do residential jobs. And, by the way, he's dying on the vine for lack of leads.

I'm exhausted, just contemplating this level of stupidity.

Also, yesterday I signed the form that confirmed my pay cut.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:43 PM | Comments (3)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Am I Crazy?

I've had a surprisingly good (and productive) day for someone who was told yesterday that her employer needed more work but, by the way, was planning to pay her 15% less from now on.

I did some figuring and decided that my income has gone by by about 40% over the last 6-7 years.

Then, because I'm strange, I felt a gloomy sort of smugness. I told everyone who would listen that Bonehead and Crookface were going to be a disaster,. but y'all voted for them (twice!) and now we're all paying the price.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:44 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Okay. You know. Just. Okay.

So, today Vela shows Jason what we did yesterday and he's all, "No, no, not all that. Just give them what we had already and leave blanks where we don't have history."

So, you know, basically five hours of my time and nine hours of her time wasted.

I'm not going to bitch at her about it because I have the same tendency to try and do a thorough job of whatever I'm given, but still. I was driven to the point of a meltdown yesterday for no real reason.

MadBoy is back--or at least he's got his offspring sitting on my doorstep. After telling the world that the offspring had taken a class and they were now going to run their marketing campaign themselves, and be phenomenally successful in ten minutes a day? Well, three weeks after that, they're in my email and on my voicemail whining for help because their campaign isn't working.

And still, you know, stupid. Today they wanted access to their website stats. Because their campaign is broken. (If your campaign is broken, you need to fix your campaign. Looking at your traffic numbers won't do that.)

Another far-flung 'Nut came out of the woodwork two weeks ago and wanted to talk about how everyone around him is a thief and he's being robbed of his legitimate leads. And he wanted a stand-alone campaign. We've only tried that one time and it was a dismal failure. But, okay, you know, I'm all about doing what They say to do and not what needs to be done, so I tell him to let me know what he wants in the new campaign. And I send him all the data from the old campaign so he has a list to choose from and knows what works. And he sends back an email that he's bought a book and he's studying hard and he's about to be an expert.

*headbang* That's just what I need. One more freaking "expert" to deal with.

I'm so tired.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, January 26, 2009
Dream A Little Dream

I've heard rumblings throughout the years--rarely and never very loudly, but I've heard them. Rumors that modern life has become too much for most people--both in pace and complexity. I've always just rolled my eyes and dismissed those people trailing behind the times as ridiculously lazy.

I mean, I'm lazy. Ask anyone in my family. I'm one of the world's laziest people. I procrastinate, avoid, hide out in fictional universes, and ignore everything ignorable. And yet, I found it impossible not to keep up with the pace of technology after the PC revolution. If I kept up, just through some kind of osmosis of what was happening in the world around me, then anyone who did not keep up was probably being deliberately stupid.

(I blame a lot of what goes wrong in the world on deliberate stupidity.) (Willful ignorance.) (Blind and blinkered idiocy.)

Anyhow. I'm starting to rethink that belief.

I've come to realize that "owning my own business" is one of the American Dreams because most people are incompetent and incapable--and they blame their failures on "the boss" so they don't have to face up to just how stupid they are.

As I look at the group of 60+ 'Nuts we've been saddled with and picture them in the corporate workplace, I can see why each of them left it, imagine what kind of relief greeted their departure, and see, in the end, why it's a darned good thing for the world that women and minorities are crowding the workplace.

Because I have never witnessed such a sense of entitlement in my life. Never, not even back in the 70s, been the victim of such patronizing misogyny. Never, in all my travels, met such a bunch of self-satisfied losers as the bunch of Old White 'Nutmen that I've seen around here.

I'm just sayin'.


I came in this week to a full schedule for Monday through Thursday. And, when I say full, I mean no lunch breaks or time to blink built in. Full.

First thing this morning, that went by the wayside. Via email, I found Vela commiting me to reviewing someone's campaign and making significant alterations. Which was fine, it only took an hour or so.

And then Vela IM'd me and said, "I know you're busy. I know none of your scheduled projects can be pushed back. I know we're past-due on those commitments."

And then she sobbed that she was between a rock and a hard place, needing some data for this Friday's NIMO meeting--and she tied me up, talking about the project on IM, for an hour. And then of course I had to pull the information she needed, which took another four hours.

Mostly, I blame Jason. I blame the man who told the NIMO committee last week that we could create 20 new campaigns for them--buffet style so that everyone could pick and choose what they were interested in, complete with customized ads--who offered all of this, saying, " next Friday, because we're not going to waste a lot of time analyzing data."

Vela is working herself into the ground, trying to get just one of them completed.

As for me, well, today's scheduled 12 hours worth of projects got pushed back to later this week, pushing this week's later projects back to next week--but not before the middle of next week because I have month-end reporting to do Monday and Tuesday. Always assuming I get 2008's year-end reporting completed this week.

Why is Anne blogging if she's so busy, you might ask.

Because I'm sitting here, wigging out. Having a little nervous breakdown.

I don't like today. I'm not good at doing sloppy work. I don't understand. The concept is beyond me.

Vela keeps asking me to "review" what she's doing but "not in detail" and to "broadly" approve it. I can't figure out how to do that, okay?

In fact, I can't do that. It's wrong. What the NIMOs are asking for and what she's creating isn't going to work and even as an example of "how this kind of thing might look" it's so badly off the mark that it makes my head hurt.

I can't approve it. Not even conceptually, okay?

I am not buying in to this. I am not responsible for this. I am not giving my seal of approval for this.

I am neither committing to making this successful nor hinting that any part of this might be even remotely successful.

I am refusing to be a part of this. Is there anyone who understands what I'm trying to say?

I am not taking the fall for this.


I know! They pay me to do what they tell me to do--not to do what's right or what will work or what needs to be done. Just--what they say to do.


It's wrong.

Like a rabbit in the headlights--I can't decide whether to hide or run.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:18 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, January 23, 2009
Thank You, Friday!

When Gidget was here, my monthly schedule looked like this:


Now that she's not here, my January schedule looks like this:


And I'm not even done adding all the projects I've been committed to doing to next week's schedule.

I'm just saying. Not having as much fun these days.

My job? I'm so far from having time to actually do it that I've pretty much even given up being bitter on the subject. I can't even quite remember what it felt like, to come in every day, work hard, and leave knowing that everything was just a little bit better than it was the day before.

In fast, this week it's been pretty much a full-time job to sit through all the meetings I was scheduled for, and afterwards to make lists of what I was supposed to do. I had no hope at all of actually doing any of it, but I was able to insure that the Task List was comprehensive! If I get hit by a bus, or win the lottery this weekend, whoever gets stuck with my chair has their work cut out for them.

I wanted to blog this week - about Gidget, about the inauguration, about the weather, about a dozen other less momentous but transiently interesting things. All those thoughts are gone now....

BTW, I finally got to see Gidget yesterday. Even though they were letting her out of the hospital* late yesterday afternoon, she was thrilled to hear that I'd planned to come and see her, and I got to go and visit with her for a couple of hours.

She's tired, and pretty wrung out, as you would be after a near-death experience and 14 days in a hospital bed, but they seem to be optimistic that she's improving. She's still on a 24-hour IV drip for antibiotics and whatnot, but I'm sure she feels better today, just being home.


* Swankiest. Hospital. Ever! All private rooms with couches and patient lounges with fireplaces and I don't know what-all. Free wi-fi all over the place. Not a single hard, plastic chair in sight. No metal coffee urns with burnt coffee dregs stinking the place up.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:59 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, January 16, 2009
Downhill From the Sunning Bunnies

I think I've finally figured out how not to wig out the rabbits squatting around the landscape. When I need to go outside, if I see one, I just make sure I don't change my pace or the direction I'm walking. As long as they think I don't see them, they're fine.

It's saying something when I say that that discovery is one of the best things that's happened to me this week.

Not a week for good happenings.

I don't think I mentioned that I somehow lost a contact lens last week. Normally, having a contact lens pop out isn't a tragedy--after 30+ years of wearing them, I've gotten pretty good at spotting one of the floor or a chair or whatever. This time--no such luck. I was sitting in a chair in my own living room but the lens had clearly popped itself into some alternate dimension. I've been waiting over a week for the replacement (my insurance covered a whopping $15 of the cost and then I had to pay an extra $9 to have it mailed to me because the alternative was to take two hours off work) and I'm getting aggravated. I only had a spare left lens, and I lost the right lens. I can see reasonably well, but things are just that little fraction "off" - and sitting here staring at a computer screen all day is very tiring.

The insanity continues here at the Argonut Café as all the luNUTics continue to live up to their names. The Argonuts Afield staged (did I tell you this yet?) something of a mutiny last week.

After paying a monthly fee for the last year to have us manage their accounts and after getting customized monthly reports, periodic phone calls, and a 'NutNews update every other week on what we've been doing to accounts and what the results have been so far--well, after all of that, about two weeks ago they all discovered to their (gasp!) horror and (shock!) amazement that we make changes in their accounts!

What did we mean by this? What right did we have? Who gave us permission to do this? What guarantees do they have that no changes have been made that were not improvements? What made us think we knew how to advertise their (franchised) business services? What are we doing? Do we know we have destroyed their businesses? Do we know we are killing them?

For the record? Phone leads - up 53% this year over last year. Written leads - up 39% this year over last year.

If anyone in the reading audience can explain to me how leads being up an average 68% since the economy started nose-diving in September is akin to stabbing someone in the back, I would appreciate it.

And the mutiny continues. All account management has stopped while Vela and Jason hammer out a document telling the NIMOs ('Nuts with Internet Marketing Opinions) what we do, under what circumstances we do it, and what right they have to do their own thing or be notified either in advance or afterwards of what is going on.

It's okay that most of my work is on "hold" though, because approximately 36 hours of my (ostensible) 40-hour work-week have been otherwise occupied this week with sitting in 4-hour meetings (where I try to distill a year's worth of knowledge into 30-second soundbites), running special reports, analyzing over 120,000 lines of data (so far), and otherwise justifying my existence daily while the (previously improving) accounts I am no longer entitled to edit start to lose traction.

And with (get this) fulfilling special requests for three 'Nuts who rely on me for that kind of thing frequently but who still feel free to announce to the other NIMOs, via email and conference call, that I'm practically incompetent and have no idea what I'm doing.

I won't go on. I've already gone on for too long and I've barely scratched the surface.

To add to the week's joys--after a week of silence, I finally heard from Gidget yesterday. She's back in the hospital - third time in the last five months, this time with a serious post-op infection. I hate the idea that I can't let a few days go by without checking on everyone I know, to make sure they're okay.

On that same subject, I checked my personal email a few minutes ago to see that the L-i-K-S sent me an email yesterday to tell me that one of my nieces (Pippi) had a serious car accident this week. She is ok, but lots of cuts and bruising - at least, that's how it sounds. I won't know for certain until I can call them this evening. The car was totaled, but that matters so much less than her being okay, doesn't it?

I'm feeling a little bruised myself at this point, and I still have a two-hour NIMO meeting and another 10,000 lines worth of data to analyze before I'm finished with this week.

Last Sunday, I spent four or five hours trying to get the problems with the home PC fixed. I didn't get done, and there's hasn't been a single evening this week when I've had the energy to tackle the project again. I'm going home just exhausted every night.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:57 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, January 9, 2009
Well, That Was Fun (NOT)

The week climaxed (so to speak) with a butt-kicking party at 2:00 today. The relevant butts were mine and Vela's.

The same 'Nut who knows I'm not telling the rest of the Argonuts Afield that they're paying for his leads? Felt free to lecture everyone on how he "bought a book" on Google marketing and now he's an expert.

The same 'Nut who emailed me this morning, saying he really did understand that improving performance is a matter of constant work, data analysis, and incremental steps? Announced to the group that this morning I told him I don't know how I improve performance.

The same 'Nut who took over a campaign I spent six months designing and tweaking because I was incompetent? Told everyone he did it--started his own account, created his own campaign, and is generally just doing all the work himself and doing it exceptionally well.

The same 'Nut I've been giving 5 hours a week worth of attention to for the last month, at the expense of the other 60 'Nuts, because he cried so hard about how he couldn't get any personal attention? Bitched because he's never allowed to talk to anyone or have any input in his marketing.

And, by the way, if I was at all competent, I'd create a magic template they could apply to all their businesses to make them magically and phenomenally successful now and forever and ever.


I don't want kudos. Really I don't. I just want not to be called incompetent and an asshole when I'm keeping these people afloat (sometimes in spite of themselves) in a really bad economy.

And now Vela and I have the pleasure of a meeting with Jason on Monday morning--where I am apparently supposed to teach him enough about this magic thing called internet marketing to make him an expert in two hours.

And three conference calls with three specific 'Nuts after that--all three of whom swear they won't survive another week without personal attention.

And we have yet another another butt-kicking party already scheduled for next Friday afternoon.

Someone remind me again--why did I quit drinking?

Posted by AnneZook at 05:32 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday, January 8, 2009
Will This Day Never End?

It's been one of those Longest Day Ever kind of days. I wish it was over.

The week has been--eventful.

Our Problem Bowery Boy, the MadBoy from last week, has been up to more of his tricks. After getting essentially everything he asked for (excepting only the power to direct other people's marketing dollars to his own pocket), and being asked to follow only one rule in return--to leave the account where it was, so that we could make sure his target ad area didn't infringe on anyone else's assigned territory.

Well, you can see what's coming, right? He took everything we gave him and then today he broke the one rule.

I passed notification to my own personal ChaosManager, Vela. She passed it to Jason. And, over my written objections, Vela says they intend to "address" the matter during a conference call this Friday.

Since the topic of the call is something completely different and it's being held with the MadBoy and a group of his peers, I feel that this is counterproductive. I mean, is there any good result likely to come of forcing him to take a public stand? No, there is not. We would be more likely to win our point if we addressed the problem with MadBoy privately, that's what I think.

I don't run this place, though, so it's not my decision.

Another of our wanna-be problem children called earlier this week, working up a head of steam over something he wanted. Since what he wanted was easy and all he had to do was to ask to get it, he was sort of left standing there with mad all over his face, looking stupid.

Jason's idea for reporting for the coming year involves a mile-long spreadsheet full of formulas that compare and contrast things we can affect with things we can't, in an attempt to see if we're reaching impossible goals.

Fortunately for me, my only involvement was running a report out of the Webstrainer program. Someone else has to die of boredom, doing the data entry.

Also? Last week Jason handed Vela the same famous line he gave Gidget last spring. "I don't know if you're the right person for this job."

He doesn't care for the quality of her work? How surprising. I mean, all she did was take on the 40-hour a week job of one employee this summer, then add the 60-hour a week job of another employee around the first of December. All the while trying to take care of her own 60-hour a week job. How can it be that he's finding that the quality of work put out by this department is suffering?


It's tough. I mean, I sort of like Jason, you know? Personally, I mean. He has a nice, dry sense of humor. Very understated. But from a business perspective? Not so much. And if he gets rid of Vela? I am so out of here, bills to pay or not. It boggles the mind to think of what kind of person he'd hire--or how much pain they're going to be in, trying to run a six-person department with themselves and 1-1/2 other person and without Vela's three years of experience in the place.

I'll bet he hires a man, too. Our misogynistic Argonuts come to heel like little puppies when it's a man's voice on the phone.

15 more minutes. Will I be able to take it? (It still astonishes me how quickly this went from being a dream job to a nightmare.)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:47 PM | Comments (4)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Pardon me, but I think your solstice is slipping

Doesn't it seem that way to you? I mean, yes, we're all told that officially the winter solstice is on December 21 and that it's the tipping point--after that, the days begin to lengthen again. But it seems to me that the midpoint falls a week or so earlier in the month. It seems to me that the days are very short for a long time before the 21st--a couple of weeks, anyhow. But after the 21st, they start to get longer very quickly. Like, last night, when I realized that the days are already long enough so that it's not completely dark as I drive home from work.

Wow. That was boring.

I've decided that, from now on, I'm going to have all my clothes made for me. I was designing things in my mind and picturing them on me and I decided that what I really need is to find someone with the sewing skills to make these designs a reality.

Also, I need some red shoes, but that's a different topic.

It's a wasteland here at the office today. Earlier this morning there were a couple of other people in my half o the building but this afternoon, I'm all alone in the world. In the front half of the building, the full staff of five people are all working away, but I have 60% of the place to myself. Tomorrow I must remember to bring my walkman.

I've been just plowing through the work today, enjoying myself enormously. Sadly, I remember a minute ago that I still have 26 pages of website content to edit* today. Blech.

Also, in a conference call with the Bowery Boys yesterday, I promised to do some research and get back to them in 48 hours with some new ideas. Granted, you and I know I said that mostly to get them to shut up and hang up the phone, but they don't, so I need to go find something that looks new and wonderful for them. Double-blech.

I love my job. I wish they'd leave me alone to do it.

My own personal ChaosManager, Vela, was saying yesterday that she needs to figure out a way to "incent" me for all the work I do.

First, of course, I wince at the incenting. I do wish people wouldn't "incent" me. It makes me cringe. But I don't argue with her, because I'm too flattered.

I also don’t point out that they already "incent" me every other week. It's called a paycheck.

Next, I realize that she also said that coming to work in the morning is starting to make her sick at her stomach, so who knows if she'll be here long enough to really follow through? But it's the thought that counts (unless you want to go shopping), so I'm pleased at the compliment.

I have to work Friday. Although I feel for Vela and the now-departed Gidget, I'm not yet at the point where the aggravations of this place outweigh my interest in the work I'm doing, so I don't really mind.

I got fabulous loot at Christmas this year. Two new games (one PC, one GameBoy), DVDs, clothes (!!), edibles, smell-pretties, and I don't know what-all.

At the moment, the R.C. is having to fight me for the DS every evening so she can play her new game. I'm completely enthralled with Harvest Moon (recommended by Rapunzel) and am actually musing over breaking the budget with a $130 indulgence in a second DS, so I don't have to be generous and let the R.C. play with (her own) machine. (Not seriously. I'm mindful of the fact that I have another $2,500 worth of work that needs to be done on my car. I'm just not good at sharing.)

Which reminds me that I owe Rapunzel a letter, and I need to box up the old games I promised her (along with some books I think the L-i-K-S might like) and get them sent off as well.

Which chore leads inevitably to reminding me that I am, in fact, at work. I should be working.

But first--a trip to the kitchen. Because life is too short not to eat custard muffins when the opportunity arises.


* I could have declined the honor, but I know that if I don't watch them, these people will load up gibberish, bad grammar, and painful punctuation. I just can't let that happen.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:16 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, December 19, 2008

I can't get any work done because the Google system I use is unexpectedly "down for maintenance" right now. I hope it's not some kind of major crash. It's only been five minutes and I'm bored silly.

I have two (two!) parcels over at the apartment office to be picked up. I can't remember anything I've ordered that hasn't arrived, but they may be In-bound Presents, who knows?

I sent a snarky email to Ashlyn, who lives in Vegas. She's always so smug about how she doesn't live near the mountains where it gets cold and snows. Since it snowed in Vegas this week, I wanted to give her a little nudge. :)

Yesterday was the office's holiday party--a potluck lunch and a gift exchange. It was fun--everyone was stealing the "good gifts" from TeamChaos and the people who got unwanted gifts were trying to convince each other that cheese spreaders or old flower vases were just what they wanted. I wound up with a pack of playing cards and a Starbucks card, so I'm happy. :)

I don't know how much is on the Starbucks card, but I don't care--even if it's just $5, one latte is better than no latte! Sometimes I'm amazed (and wistful) to remember how I used to have one or two lattes every day, as a matter of course.

Today, I came in and loaded newsletter stories into the intranet, a job that reception is supposed to be doing now except that DebLor found the step-by-step directions, with pictures, I wrote for her just too confusing.

Then I did final edits on the text for six webpages we paid the Crazy George Company to write for us, wondering all the while why if we're paying "experts" they couldn't manage to get little things like grammar and punctuation right.

Then I reviewed the final text for six print flyers that my own personal ChaosManager, Vela, has been developing with an outside marketing company for the last six months and found myself curious to know how four people could have already reviewed them, multiple times, and not seen the grammar and punctuation errors.

First, as I know I've said before, anyone relying on me for the final word on correct punctuation is in real trouble.

Second, I can't do more for DebLor than I've already done. I wrote her directions on how to do it. IWhen I think that I had to teach her how to make a new folder in her "My Documents" folder on the network, I despair.

I need to be surrounded by smarter people. Stupid makes me crazy. (In this case, "stupid" is defined as, "people without the courage to just open the program and teach themselves to do what has to be done.")


That all wasted two hours of my day that I'd like to have back now. If I'd known that Google was going to go down, I'd have saved those projects....

I have just a small, few more things to pick up for Christmas and then I'm done! I can't decide whether to try to get it done on my lunch break today, or hope that tomorrow's snowstorm isn't so severe that I can't sneak out then. They've lowered the forecast to a 10% chance of snow.

Blah, blah, blah. Bored and boring.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:05 PM | Comments (4)

Monday, December 15, 2008
How Quickly We Forget

Me, for instance. I'm already starting to forget how this was the job I enjoyed, the one I actually looked forward to coming in to each day. I guess I had it better than most people. I got nine months of "hey, I'm having fun and they're paying me!"

Now I've got, "If I don't show up, they won't pay me" and I've done that before. Often.


Vela is still wonderful and still taking on 125% more than she can possibly accomplish, in an attempt to keep me from wigging out and to give me time to do the part of my job that actually produces results, but I know she's stressing and knowing that stresses me.

She's organizing and eliminating projects and outsourcing where she and I both agree it's a good idea* and generally doing everything humanly possible to make this a do-able thing for both of us - at least for the foreseeable future. (She may reach the end of her rope before I do. I expect her to bail out after the first of the year.)

She had a call with the Bowery Boys today and (bless her little heart) left me entirely out of it. I need to buy her a present.

Maybe, although she made it clear that she doesn't 'expect' or require me to work a lot of unpaid hours, I can see that she does have very high hopes that I'll come in to the office on Monday mornings with a nice chunk of my workload already completed over the weekend. So, I guess, starting this next weekend, I need to start giving the company a few extra hours.

After all, it is a paycheck. And health insurance.




* Remember the Crazy George company - the group I mentioned a few weeks ago who were hired, as very expensive consultants (and paid up-front) to massage our s e o efforts and give us some high-level advice on how to be entirely more wonderful? (You know the ones - the ones who came in with a "plan" for how to make us wonderful that was practically a carbon-copy of Gidget's NLP from this past spring.)


Remember the Argonut Afield, the Hissy 'Nut who pitched a fit because no one left at the office is willing to take his calls at 9:00 on Saturday night or whatever other weird time he decides he wants to talk about his account?

In what I instantly warned was an ill-advised moment of enthusiasm, our Crazy George Company Rep offered to take on the Hissy 'Nut -- take him off our hands and give him the 24/7 service he was demanding. I was overruled and today, the Crazy George Company Rep and the Hissy 'Nut had their first one-on-one conversation. At the end of the call, the CGCR called Vela and said he wanted nothing to do with the Hissy 'Nut. He was, in his words, "scared of the guy" after listening to how many 180 degree turns the Hissy 'Nut got through in that one phone call.

So, you know, it's not just me. These 'Nuts really are--nuts.

(You may not have doubted it, but I know I'm prone to exaggeration sometimes, and I value an objective opinion when I start thinking things are getting ridiculous. So, you know, I'm happy to have the "experts" say that the Hissy 'Nut has unrealistic expectations and they don't want to work with him.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, December 12, 2008
Life is hard. Then you fall down the stairs. (Later, you will realize that was the good bit.)

This week continues its trend of ickiness.

First, not to go all TMI or anything, painkillers tend to upset my stomach. Apparently the massive (for me) dosage I took on Tuesday afternoon, after throwing myself down the stairs, was--a massive mistake.

I am--okay--today. I ate nothing but a handful of soda crackers/saltines for the first 24 hours, then lashed out into a mad gorge on half a dozen triscuits yesterday afternoon. And then dinner (lightly) last night. So far, so good.

Lessons learned:

A. I am buying aspirin to use for these little (mis)adventures in the future.
B. I am never having another little misadventure

This morning was the first conference call/meeting with the Argonuts Afield Overall Internet Group since Gidget left. (There's a core group of about half a dozen Argonuts Afield who make up the committee.

In my innocence, I thought the OIG, whose mission is to evaluate proposed online changes and improvements from an "in the field" point of view, used this time to, you know, listen to us say what we're doing or thinking of doing and give us feedback on how they thought said changes might affect the locations around the country.


Apparently they think that membership in this ostensibly-for-the-good-of-everyone committee is really best-utilized for whining about their own personal business woes.

One lunatic, if you can believe it, was pissy because Gidget was the only person who would let him call her at 9:00 on Saturday night to chat about his campaign. And now she's gone.

Not, you understand, that there's anything wrong with his campaign, because there isn't and it's doing very well, but if he feel like chatting about it (or suggesting ridiculous and unlikely changes), he thinks the $95 a month fee he pays entitles him to the attention of someone from the home office 24/7.

By the end of the meeting, my own personal ChaosManager, Vela, had Had Enough. She called her boss, Jason, and is preparing to tell him that she's been doing most of Gidget's job for a week now (in addition to her, Vela's, own job and, let us not forget, the job of Penelope, who left last spring) and she's done doing it. Life is just too short to waste her energy on that group of misogynistic jerks.

On the good news side of the equation, it turns out that I didn't sprain my ankle. I did some damage, yes, but it seems to be all soft-tissue stuff. Swelling and a giant bruise. I can walk without pain and wriggle all the bits that are supposed to wriggle.

I might buy me a pair of boots and walk right out of here.


Gidget called this morning. She has a meeting on Tuesday with a potential free-lance client who has 300 locations. If it comes through, she wants me to leave here and come help her service that $28k/month account. So, yes, I'm considering a change, less than a year after I was grateful to get this job.

Gidget and I and Vela all know that Vela is about a sixteenth of an inch from the end of her rope and getting ready to bail on this place. And I am not going to be the last one standing, when this department goes from five people to one.

Or even when the whole company goes under--which looks more possible every day.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:41 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday, November 13, 2008
Holy Leaking Spoons, Batman!

So, I finish my nice lunch (a bowl of chili, a French bread roll, and some carrot sticks) and twenty minutes later I glance down at myself and realize that, at some point (probably when I was stirring by the microwave), a long string of chili has bounced down my person. (Yes. Bounced. My version of chili isn't all that liquid.)

I scurried to the bathroom, of course, and cleaned myself up, but still. It's so embarrassing, to be seen in public as someone who doesn’t know how to feed herself properly.

Other than that, last week's head cold seems to have passed off. I wasn't nearly as ill as most of the people around me (including the R.C.) seemed to have been.

I'm a little concerned about other health matters, though.

Like, I'm fairly certain I've fallen victim to some kind of alien invasion or maybe just a mutated terrestrial plague. I finished lunch a mere 40 minutes ago and I'm already so hungry again that my stomach is gurgling. (It's not the chili, no.) Every day for the last four or five days, at around 10:00 in the evening, I'm suddenly so hungry that my stomach hurts.

I'm picturing this plague as a kind of massive tapeworm thingy, roiling my stomach--banging on the walls and demanding sustenance or it will eat its way out of me and take over the planet. (Not to self: The Alien movies are bad for your psyche.)

Also, I'm tired a lot. More than I would expect to be. Working an eight-hour day should not be this difficult.

Today I'm checking the performance of the new campaigns I uploaded during last week's massive Change Everything frenzy. I can't make up my mind--some accounts are doing much better, some are doing a little better, some are about the same, and a small handful are doing worse.

I'm a person who likes definite results, but I'm also a person who finds it very entertaining to scoop up a massive amount of data and try to boil it down to something sensible, so I guess that's ok.

Anyhow. The alternative project waiting for me is worse. There's this handful o'Nuts, the Bowery Boys. I've mentioned them before--a collective marketing group that has been, collectively, the bane of my department for the last four months.

Basic situation (a refresher for y'all) is that there are more of them than there is business to support them in their area. Also, the Head Boy is getting 70% of the business and the other Boys lack the youknowwhats to tell him that they think everyone should pay in proportion to the return they're getting. They've been subsidizing him for six months and bitching to us about it--but when we give them the opportunity to tell the Head Boy their concerns directly (as required by the terms of their collective marketing agreement), they go all coy and quiet.

Their most recent idea is that I will create separate campaigns for each Boy and they will pay separately. Which is fine, but they're leaving the bulk of their marketing money in the shared campaign, which primarily benefits the Head Boy. And this at a time when all the Boys are struggling to make a go of it. How--noble. (Or do I mean cowardly?) They're putting their leftover pocket change, about forty-eight cents each, into their new campaigns. Which is pointless because the new campaigns are targeting under-inhabited areas where people, if they want our services, will always go to the Head Boy's location.

Basically, I'm going to have to find an entire day to create four very complicated and highly targeted campaigns that (get this) have zero chance of working. I am, as you can imagine if you bothered to read this far, entirely unexcited about carving eight hours out of my overfilled work week to complete this project. I've done the CYA part of the project already, though.

I sent this, in an email to Vela and Gidget:

I am happy to set things up as requested under the clear understanding that there will be little or no traffic to the four new campaigns. Once the campaigns are set up, I do not want questions or complaints because they do not produce traffic or leads.

You might say that's pretty snippy, and maybe it is, but I like people to understand, up front, what to expect.

I could seriously use a nap right about now.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
And then....

FYI, the R.C. felt that yesterday's last entry was confusing. Too many names, too many people, too many projects. All I can say is that if it was confusing to read about, imagine how confusing it was to actually try and deal with all of that in one day....

Anyhow. Today started better. If snoozing in bed for 30 minutes after my alarm went off, then having to scramble to make it to work on time, and dropping my phone in the process is "better." (Sadly? In Anne's World, this is actually "better.")

And then first hour of actual work went well. No one bothered me and I was able to sit here quietly and get some Real Work done.

And then Vela bothered me because I haven't gotten the 'NutNews stories loaded for the last two issues, so I dropped everything and did that which is fine because it's part of the process and I intended to get it all done anyhow.

And then I went back to my Real Job for a brief, enjoyable interval.

And then the Argonuts Afield, the nationwide locations, started up again.

To begin with, the Bowery Boys, a marketing collective located in a Major Metropolitan Area not unconnected with the Great Lakes region. They've become the bane of our existence. Our marketing collective structure is designed to allow 2-3 individual locations to share one metropolitan area. There are five of the Bowery Boys, and (as any sensible person might expect), we haven't been able to generate enough business to keep them all happy. The Bowery Metro campaign is performing better than any other collective campaign we're running, but it's not performing well enough to support five locations.

Gidget and I have tried, for the past three months and using various tactics, statistics, and sentences composed of very short words, to explain to everyone on the planet that, yes, Bowery Metro is large enough to sustain five locations if the business owners go out and sell or hire outside sales people to bring in business. And we have failed, for three months, to get this simple fact through anyone's head.

The latest solution? Put up six campaigns. One to cover all of them, and one specifically for each location. Which will result in them bidding against themselves for the same 15 leads they're getting now--running up the price but not producing additional business.

We explained this to Vela (using even shorter words) and her opinion is that we need to look like we tried everything, so just do it. If wasting hours of my time and hundreds of dollars of the Bowery Boys money is preferable, in everyone's opinion, to telling them they need to bring in some of their own business, then--fine. Fine. I don't care any more.

Some days, I feel like I'm just drowning in stupid.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:34 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, October 27, 2008
Is This What Success Feels Like?

I don't think so.

The first blast from YakketyYak, our new, online email provider? Was--not a success. The text came through just fine. The graphics, not so much. I fought with it all day long. Last Wednesday's 'NutNews finally went out fifteen minutes ago. In the end, I had to kluge it--take their html file, add the graphics in, and send it from my Outlook.

Now I'm waiting for Bert, our lackadaisical in-house IT person, to provide me with the phone number and name of someone who can actually help me. (I suspect the problem is in the email settings arranged by the new email provider hosting company.)

The Crazy George Co, the 'experts' who are supposed to be making internet magic for us? Continue to bypass Gidget in favor of baffling Vela with bullshit. Today Vela had a question for them and they passed her along to their Webstrainer rep. We have a Webstrainer rep. We could have gone and asked them the question, but they're not the ones we're paying. We're paying Crazy George Co. (The least they could have done was to ask their Webstrainer rep themselves, don't you think?)

Tomorrow we have to explain to the Northern'Nuts why we're not willing to take on their campaigns, the way we do for the USofA 'Nuts. (It's a different country - with more stringent privacy regulations and stuff. We are not knowledgeable about their laws. Nor do we have time.)

Willie Loman, our former NewLocationsDude, the one who was transferred to marketing when he was switched to national sales? (Don't ask me. We have a sales department, but Willie was turned into Vela's problem anyhow.) Is not producing. Just like he wasn't producing when he was NewLocationsDude.

Jason's response? Was to tell Vela that he was "very disappointed in her."

I'm sorry, but this high-priced employee has now failed in two high-priced positions. Get. A clue. (Hint: The bottle of scotch in his hand might have something to do with it.)

I'm exhausted. My eyes are burning, they're so tired.

And it's still only Monday.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Not again!

I'm starting to wish I could reboot my life.

Not only was I frightfully late this morning (what is it with me waking up at 8:00, instead of when the alarm goes off at 6:50), but once I got here, things are not--as smooth as one might wish.

From Bert having to be asked 4-5 times to provide me with a file I need (yes, I know he's going through trauma right now, but he's always been lax about filling requests) in order to send out last Wednesday's 'NutNews some time today, to having to reboot because Excel went psycho, to having my computer repeatedly lock up as it looks for the new printer, to TeamChaos discovering that we cannot magically throw an armload of "keywords" at this nebulous thing called "the internet" and--presto!--we have traffic and leads forty-two seconds later, well, it's another "why did I bother to chew through the restraints" week already. And it's only 10:00 on Monday morning.

Upon being told that it would take 30 days (hah!) to get new web pages up and then at least 30 more days for the intarwebs to notice that we've changed our content for the first time in two years, our own personal ChaosManager, Vela, announced that this timeline was "unacceptable." We're still waiting to hear how she thinks we can do something different.

Gossip! Gidget heard from a business friend this weekend who asked her if it was true, what he heard, that Jason had been replaced. ! And, can I add, ! ! !.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, October 24, 2008
Chewing Through the Restraints?

So not worth it this week.


Upon being shown the new 'NutNews template, something that did not happen until around noon, when I personally tracked down CEOJason and asked him to go look at it, CEOJason pronounced the New Look "wussy."

I spent four hours on a massive dewussification project, attempting to make the turquoise logo that my own personal ChaosManager, Vela, had given me look more manly. I showed the dewussified result to Vela and she decided she liked the original template from YakketyYak better.

So, four hours of my life I'll never get back.

The necessary files to create this specific newsletter started landing on my desk around 1:15. (You know the files I mean. The ones Vela swore would be in my hands by 5:00 Monday or, failing that, 9:00 Tuesday morning at all costs.) The last one arrived at 4:21pm. With a note from Vela, blithely asking me to put this story in first place.

(Have I bitched about that yet? The one thing that's really, really complicated is changing the order of stories once the newsletter is coded. You can make all the text changes you want, add or remove graphics, create click-throughs, anything you need. What you should not do is request that Story #1 become Story #3 and Story #6 become Story #2 and this New Story now become Story #1. It messes up everything. So, naturally, TeamChaos makes at least one such request for every issue of the 'NutNews.)

I fought the new template to make the necessary code tweaks. I need to get the basic template locked down, so I can make actually inserting stories a "cut-and-paste" process, so I can hand the entire mess over to DebLor in reception and making doing the 'NutNews their problem every two weeks.

In my spare time, I changed the past news stories display in the company intranet. Because the Wednesday newsletter will not be going out until Friday (if I'm lucky), there's no new story available for the intranet home page on Friday morning. I extend Thursday's rather boring story to display for another day.

1-1/2 hours of my life is lost to a conference call with one of our collective marketing groups who are in constant turmoil because their internet campaign does not produce the results they want. The biggest problem is that there are five of them in a fifteen mile radius. Nothing I can do to the Magic Internets will change the fact that there are too many of them for the territory. They bitch, moan, and whine, but stop short of agreeing that the location that receives 70% of the leads should pay 70% of the cost of the campaign. Eventually I promise reports, analysis, miracles--whatever it takes to get me off the phone.

I do not say that one ignorant lunatic amongst them went into their campaign and eliminated half their territory, so they're not getting all the leads they're entitled to, and this is a big part of their problem.


I came in and dove right into getting the 'NutNews ready to send out. Fixed the code issues. Settled the template. By 10:00, I was finally ready to start editing the content. (No matter how many ChaosManagers review it, there are always typos and stuff remaining.)

Then I get called into Vela's office to rehash yesterday's unproductive conference call. She wants to send this group all the information in the world so they can be "informed." I point out that I spent two solid days providing them with all the information in the world last month. And that, while they're entitled to all of their information, they are not entitled to everyone else's beyond the kind of numbers they can use to benchmark the performance of their campaign.

I don't precisely win the argument but since I'm the only one in the building who knows how to get to all the data, or what it actually means once you get to it, there's little she can do without my cooperation, and I have other priorities today.

'NutNews. Remember, Vela? I have to get the 'NutNews out today.

A task that was not simplified by the online email provider's site going down half an hour ago.

It's not even noon.

The person for whom I covered lunchtime phone duty on Monday? Who was supposed to take my "shift" today? Took the day off.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
High Pressure System


When I met our IT guy, Bert, he was a happy man with a pretty, bubbly wife and two wonderful children. A couple of months back (no one is quite sure when) (or why), his wife started doing drugs. I don't know what, but something pretty hard, because she went from a normal 23 year-old to an emaciated crone in just a couple of months.

She died over the weekend. The official line is "we don't have many details yet" but the assumption is that it was a drug overdose.

TeamChaos and the onsite Argonuts were predictably subdued after the announcement.

The Argonuts Afield were not informed but clearly there was something unsettling in their own morning kool-aid because various and sundry of them called up freaking and squeaking about their marketing campaigns. Internet marketing produces about 55% of their monthly business. They persist in demanding 100%, no matter how carefully we explain the stupidity of that kind of thinking.

And they persist in believing that if they shout loud enough, go over our heads to complain about us to TeamChaos often enough, and call Gidget enough bad names, they will get what they want. By the end of the day, Gidget and I are both battered and bruised.


The company-wide biorhythm trough continued, as yesterday's Argonuts Afield (and a few new 'Nuts for good measure) continued to call and demand that we produce the impossible with no money or resources.

While I privately agree with them that our internet marketing efforts could be working better, I also know that the Next Level Plan that Gidget and I produced five or six months ago laid out, very clearly, precisely what we needed to make it happen.

After months of waffling, Jason finally hired the Crazy George Company as "consultants" to tell us--wait for it--what we need to do to improve our internet marketing efforts!

Once Gidget had talked me down off the ledge, I agreed that as long as they got us the tools and improvements we needed, I could decide not to care that Jason hired an outside company to tell him exactly what we told him--and he believed them where he didn't believe us.

I can't seem to stop minding that they were hired a month ago and all they've produced so far is confusion and delay. Although the agreement was that they'd work directly with Gidget, as the manager of all our internet marketing efforts and our onsite "expert," they continue to bypass her in favor of working with our own personal ChaosManager, Vela, who knows nothing about internet marketing and is already doing the work of 2-1/2 people, leaving her no time to really understand the value (or, otherwise) (most emphatically otherwise) of some of the things they say we "need" to do.

I think the problem started with the introductory meeting, when they were trying to baffle the 'Nuts with bullshit and I kept interrupting to translate their jargon into English. They seem to feel that Gidget and I are hostile, when we're really just unwilling (and unable) to spend time on things we've already tried and know won't work, or being patronized by someone more worried about impressing us as an "expert" than in producing results.

Anyhow, what with this 'Nut saying he was going to close his doors unless we drive 100% of his business to him with no effort on his part (and, by the way, he's only willing to spend 1/3 of what it would take to drive any business), and another 'Nut saying we were being "vindictive" by not giving him the all-powerful administrator login that would allow him to view not only his own data, but everyone else's, and another 'Nut calling to scream and call names because we can't force the internet to behave the way he thinks it should behave, it was kind of a rough day. Again.


Thanks to the YakketyYak email company taking eight days to produce our new email template instead of the three days they promised, we didn't received the draft of the design until yesterday.

I've already had to tell Vela (twice!) that no, we cannot both make changes to the design and use it for this week's newsletter. We either use it as is, or give YakkektyYak a reasonable 2-3 days to make changes and use it next time.

And, BTW, where are my 'NutNews files? It's 10:00 on Wednesday morning and I haven't seen a single piece of this week's newsletter yet.

Gidget and I had a lunch date with OpieGirl, but she didn't show, so we spend the hour bitching and moaning instead. I think it did us good.

Pardon me if I'm misremembering, but isn't this new, low-paying job supposed to be providing me with a nearly stress-free lifestyle?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:29 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, October 3, 2008
Random Friday Frolics

It's been a randomly eventful commuter week.

During Monday morning's commute, I watched a bicyclist attempt suicide. (Note: Riding down the sidewalk instead of on the road does keep you away from cars. But it also insures that drivers will not see you when you decide to ride through a red light. You were very lucky.)

During Tuesday morning's commute, I was happy to discover that they have finished the road work on my direct route to work. Why they only had one southbound lane open, I don't know, but it cut my commute time in half. I've been oversleeping a lot recently, so the return of the Ten Minute Commute was quite welcome.

During Wednesday afternoon's homeward commute, I was dismayed and appalled to discover that they have now closed the northbound lanes of my preferred route. I got to work easily, but getting home took longer.

During Thursday afternoon's homeward commute which, owing to my extreme dedication (and inattention to the clock), I was making ten minutes later than my normal time? I discovered that the closing of the northbound route meant that when rush hour traffic really got started, it--stopped. Then backed up and stacked up for five or six blocks in every direction. Due to a weird combination of events not unrelated to the presence or absence of turn lanes on various roads and a significant miasma of Driver Psychosis hanging over the entire area, I drove in circles for a while, trying to get to a road that would lead me home, then wound up heading back southbound until I could get to the interstate at a place a mile or two south of my office. With one or two more narrow misses caused by other escapees from the traffic jam, I finally arrived home--40 minutes after I'd left the office.

This morning, I neither overslept nor ran into massive traffic, but I'm looking ahead to this evening's commute with a certain amount of trepidation.

It's been a randomly strange food week.

For Monday lunch, I ate more of the leftover Chinese food from Friday. When I got home that evening, I put the rest of it down the disposal. It may have been a coincidence, but my stomach was upset all Monday afternoon.

Yesterday I had a desperate, really desperate need to go to the bookstore. I saw a book last week that I wanted but did not buy. I've been thinking about it ever since, so I went and bought it. (I read it last night and it was depressing, so that was a waste of $6.) I bought another book and two magazines at the same time. Then I needed food and, for reasons I may never understand, I found myself at McDonald's. I never eat at McDonald's. I'm just not a fan. But I was in a hurry, Wendy's was a traffic jam away, I had only a little cash left on me, and there was no one in the drive-through line, so I went to McDonald's.

Did you know that they have this thing called a "dollar menu"? I was going to get a small cheeseburger and French fries, but it turns out that for $1, I could get a "double cheeseburger." (For another $1, I could have gotten a "small fries" as well, but I knew I couldn't eat that much.) I got lunch for $1.07! I hate to think of how many calories and how much fat were in the burger. (I think this is why poor people are so often overweight. Cheap food is anything but healthy.)

Last night I decided to be a bit more restrained. Wednesday, I'd chopped up some ripe Early Girl tomatoes and tossed them in with some minced garlic and onion, a bit of basil, and some olive oil. (I had no plans for this mishmash of ingredients. I just had all of them and thought that if I mixed them together, I'd figure out a way to use them.)

I drained a packaged of pre-cooked chicken and heated it with a tiny bit of olive oil (and, let's be honest, a couple of teaspoons of butter). Then I dumped in the tomato mixture and let it all simmer for fifteen minutes. I boiled up some spaghetti, tossed it with the resulting weirdly pink mixture, splashed on black pepper, and actually ate it. It--had potential. Next time I'll put the garlic, onion, and spices in to cook with the chicken, then stir in the diced tomatoes just before eating. Also, it needed pine nuts. And maybe a recipe or at least someone who knows how to cook to add or subtract additional ingredients.

It's been a randomly unusual work week.

One of the receptionists--two women job-share this position and I'm never really sure which of them is which, so for convenience, we'll refer to the combination as DebLor--got the flu this week. The other DebLor was unable to cover all of the hours, so those of us who do regular phone relief were asked to pull extra "shifts" on Wednesday

Which is fine, for those of us who have jobs that can be done other than at our desks, but that doesn't include me. I wrote the R.C. a letter (I'm practicing writing with my right hand. I don't know why.) and then tidied up the reception desk area. Then I got bored, so I wrote weird and unlikely tasks and occupations next to everyone's names on the In/Out board.

When (the un-sick) DebLor got back to the office the next morning, she found it funny, which was what I intended. She also showed it to half the people in the office, which was not.

When I Receptioned on Wednesday, I put out chocolate for the office candy dish again. Only two people came by but I made them both take candy and promise that they liked me more for providing good treats. (People always insist that they already like me, but I'm pretty sure they like me more when I feed them chocolate.)

This afternoon is the in-office party that's replacing the company picnic this year. They're threatening us with promising us games.

Hmmm, what else? I've almost finished end of month reporting for September. I've almost completed getting the new bulk email service up and running. I should be able to use it for the Argonut News issue that comes out on the 22nd. (TeamChaos has an idea that we'll switch to one issue of the 'NutNews each month and they'll produce a multimedia powerpoint/audio presentation of other information once a month, in place of the second 'NutNuts issue. I'm staying far away from this insanity.)

I spent an hour working over a retirement spreadsheet, satisfying myself that the little dab of money I have is enough to live on, with social security, as long as I'm willing to die at 70. Open enrollment for the 401k here is coming up. The match is something pathetic--1-1/2 percent or something--but it's free money, right?

Oh! Speaking of money! I got a surprising email from Vela! She said if I get to studying and get my certification by the end of this month, then she would want to talk to me about a salary increase! I almost fell off my chair, I was so astonished.

And now, of course, I feel a guilty. I haven't been studying for the certification exam this past week. A couple of evenings I was too tired, so I just read a book. A couple of other evenings, I was busy with a massive plan I'm putting together to completely reorganize all of the advertising campaigns.

I'll study this weekend. The promise of a raise (even if it turns out to be small) should be all the incentive I need, right? Even if the campaign reorganization is much more interesting, involving, as it does, multiple spreadsheets and colored charts and, if I play my cards right, colored pens.

I approached Gidget about this. I knew she had something to do with the raise idea since she also knows, and has said multiple times, that they hired me for 'way too little money. I had no idea, though, until I talked to her that she'd told Vela that she, Gidget, would be happy to forego a raise this year as long as I got one.

I don't deserve my friends.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One of the sekrit pashuns of my life is office supplies. I take a ridiculous amount of pleasure in having a variety of pens, markets, post-it notes, notebooks, folders, and containers for storing the same. Because of that, it's rare that I reach for something to help me on a project and find myself coming up empty-handed.

Today, I'm empty-handed, though. I need pokies. I need a handful of little pokies and I can't ask anyone here if they have any or any extra because I know that pokies is not the real name for them, but I can't remember what they're called!

You know what I mean. Most of us cube-dwellers have these fabric walls that you can poke little--pokies--into, to hold up papers and whatnot.

I needed a white board. There's a giant one sitting unused next to my desk but I'm not in the mood to crawl around on the floor to use it. So, I decided to do my project on Real Paper and stick it up on the wall--with pokies--so that I can Contemplate it for a day or so and look for problems.

(Stupid Microsoft thesaurus--I tried checking "pokies" and it gave me "plodding" and "jail.")

Whassat pokie thing called you use to stick papers to your wall?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:48 PM | Comments (4)

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Me Big Funny Ha Ha Crabby

This morning I conducted a passionate defense of the common comma--to the level of creating an entire Comma Defense Network to protect some little guys who were in danger of getting booted from the 'NutNews. This has won me kudos for being funny, when the entire spoof issue of 'NutNews I wrote and shared with Gidget and Vela sank without a mention.* You never know what people might find funny, I guess.

No, the 'NutNews hasn't gone out yet. Yes, it's 10:00 a.m. on Thursday and the 'NutNews is supposed to go out at 3:00 on Wednesday. What do you want from me?

I missed my chance to recycle, too. I carried my little recycle bucket (everyone has one at their desk) over to the Big Bin Of Recycle, but it was gone--already out on the curb, waiting to be picked up. I won't have another chance until next month. (This would be a bigger issue if I generated more than 30 pieces of paper in a month. Still. 20 of those are misprints or mistakes, so I do accumulate a little waste paper.)

. . . .

Later that same not-so-good day

Other mistakes are made, but electronically. For instance, it wasn't ten minutes after I finally got the 'NutNews out before I got the first error notification. We got someone's location number wrong. Two hours later, I got a report of an incorrect file having been linked. Ten minutes later, I got a report of a broken link.

I am so stressed out. It started out as such a good day, too. That only lasted an hour. *Sigh.*

And, to be honest, I'm dreading tonight's hair appointment. It has nothing to do with HairMan's abrupt descent into dating territory. I've pretty much always dreaded these appointments. Granted that he's the one person I've found in Denver able to do a half-decent job of cutting my hair, but he shares a failing that's common (in my experience) with many men. He's never mastered the art of multitasking.

He's incredibly chatty--and when he starts talking, his hands stop working. Thus, a simple haircut which should take 40-45 minutes is never less than an hour and frequently takes more. A cut-and-color appointment requires a two-hour time block.

I have an incredibly low boredom threshold and after I've been in the chair for 20-30 minutes, I'm starting to go mad, even under the best of circumstances.


* I liked it. In fact, I'm working on a second issue.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:26 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Is That A Banana In Your Lap, Or...?

It's a banana, okay? I brought a banana in for my mid-morning snack and half of it wound up in my lap. Now, I can't stop thinking of myself as AnneBananaPants. (It's better than Consuela Banana-Hammock, but not by much.*)

I'm making massive, wholesale changes to everyone's marketing campaign this week.

Yesterday I changed stats in ads. (Me, I wouldn't put stats in ads, but I don't steer this boat.) Sometimes, you can't be sure what the webstrainers are going to object to. I came in this morning to find 39 disapproved ads. The software didn't like the amount of capitalization I used. And I'm thinking--okay, but I changed 1,100 ads yesterday and I used search-and-replace, so all the ads had the same capitalization. Why are you picking on these five locations, and only a few of their ads?

I've also been amusing myself by deleting around 20% of each campaign. (The bottom 20%, of course.) I'm eager to check back in a week or so and see if I've improved things, but I doubt I'll be able to see any difference. I mean--if an item isn't performing, removing it isn't likely to have any effect on the remaining, performing items, right?

Still. It will be tidier. I'm a big fan of tidier.

And I'm cleaning up negative keywords. I've decided we're taking the wrong approach with how we filter out search results, so I'm going to try something new. I spent two hours reworking the list yesterday and am anxious to get back to it when I can.

I can't today, of course. I've been whipping through 'NutNews articles most of the day. (I finally got the files at 8:00 this morning, but the webstrainer ad problem kept me tied up until 10:30.) I'm really trying to get this thing out on time every two weeks, in spite of the obstacles. (Lots of obstacles. Like, when I say I "got the articles" this morning, I mean I got most of them. I received the last two at 3:15.) Seriously, if they want this kind of turnaround time, they need to hire someone who actually knows FrontPage.

Over in the world o'politiblog, someone I used to read came over and said howdy! That's nice--it's nice not to be forgotten. (I've been blogging a little over there. (Not that I intend or want to get back into that obsessive habit, but the McCain campaign is just so weird and just, plain freaky that I haven't been able to resist.)

Brooding. I have a hair appointment tomorrow. I'm not really looking forward to it.

I think I remember telling y'all that HairMan acted a little friendlier than I'm really comfortable with during my last appointment? Sadly, I have to report that those who warned that he was Up To Something were quite correct. I was talking to him a few days ago, making this appointment, when he, in the course of casual conversation, asked me out. *Sigh.*

Gidget says, go to the appointment and see if it's weird. If it is, find a new hairdresser.

So, I'm going. Send good thoughts for not-weirdness, okay?


* Gratuitous Friends reference. Because I can.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:00 PM | Comments (3)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yesterday, one of the Argonuts Afield sent me, for reasons I wasn't quite sure of, a copy of a quote for a customer. He asked what I thought of it.

Clearly it was the product of an attempt to create a template to use when sending quotes, so I understood his desire for a second option. Such a thing could be very useful, but this attempt was a mess.

But I was generous--and gentle. I merely told him that it was "ok" but that if he planned to use the template in the future, I'd have suggestions.

He wrote back to say, "The future is now."

I sent back a smilie-face and, "Okay, you asked." I pointed out that using three different font styles, four different font sizes, three different font colors, and dark gray background shading in table cells that had 8 pt black text in them weren't ideal design choices. I asked if his 13-line signature block was all entirely necessary and if there was a way to include a "text version" of the email for people not using html email.

Turns out? It was an "official" home office template--designed by Vela and, no doubt, the rest of TeamChaos and no doubt with the input of everyone in my department but me (since I seem to be the only person who has never seen it before).

He tricked me into dissing, in writing, the work of half a dozen people here at the home office.

I'm shaking in my boots and not sure that last week's chocolate bounty is going to get me through this one.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:23 PM | Comments (4)

They Love Me!

And, hey! Last Friday's plan of bribing my way into popularity by putting chocolate candy bars in the reception-area candy dish--then telling everyone it was me what done it and asking anxiously if they felt they liked me better for it--was a success!

Although they all said they already liked me, they also all agreed that they liked me better after eating my chocolate!

It worked so well that I'm told CEOJason was heard telling the receptionist that maybe he'd try it. Sad to be a CEO who feels unpopular.

He definitely likes me better now, too. He chatted with me in the lunch room this morning when we were both in there in search of coffee, and he said he liked my work on the 'NutNews. BtC (Before the Chocolate), he never said anything nice about my work.


Posted by AnneZook at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)


Some days, as we've all remarked at one time or another, it hardly seems worth chewing through the restraints.

I overslept (must get new alarm clock with more reliable volume button), there was no hot water (there hasn't been for the last 24 hours), I had to sponge-bath and wash my hair in the sink with water heated in a teakettle on the stove (so very primitive), and then they were doing construction again on the road that leads straight from my home to my office, shutting the normal two traffic lanes + 1 turn lane down to one lane and the traffic to a crawl.

It's probably okay that I can't take all of my clothes off and take a shower because I am so disgustingly fat that I can barely stand to look at myself. Thanks to the NSP (which is not even going that well), I have put on the 5 lbs I took off this spring and now I'm back to needing to take off at least 10 lbs in order to feel good about myself.

And, speaking of the 'NutNews (which I wasn't, at least not at that moment, but which I usually am any more), I just finished this week's battle with the latest issue. I was two seconds away from getting it sent out on time (for a change) yesterday, when two members of TeamChaos (taking advantage of my own, personal ChaosManager, Vela's absence, called a halt to the process.

After an hour of going back and forth, trying to rewrite one four-sentence article into something that made sense, they finally just pulled it from the newsletter. After a frantic interval of deleting, rechecking code, resetting bookmarks, and recreating the printable copy that's always sent out with the html-format email, I got to push "send."

I was working from home. Logging into my office desktop and into FrontPage, then ftp-ing up to the remote website? Verrry slow. Keystroke-by-keystroke slow. Frustration is being someone who types at 100 wpm being forced to type at one keystroke per second.

It was double-frustration day since there was no hot water and no water at all starting at 3:30 in the afternoon. Nothing like not getting to wash my hair to put me into a bad mood anyhow.

Today, I'm grateful for employment in an office where there's hot water when I need to wash my hands.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, September 8, 2008

The more I pay attention to the world around me, the more I realize how few adults there are in the world. Mostly, there are just a lot of whiny eight year-olds who are very tall. I know, I've sung this song before, but still.

They're doing a training class here onsite this week and next, and one of the attendees, we'll call him Smilin' Tommy, is acting like--well, like an eight year-old. A disturbed one. He passed preliminary approval to be granted territory a couple of months ago and then failed to pass the final vetting with Jason and was sent home empty-handed. Smilin' Tommy then got CEO Jason on the phone and told him something that made Jason re-open the closed door.

So, starting at 8:00 this morning Smilin' Tommy is here onsite, in a class of seven people, learning to run a business.

And, by all accounts, he's doing pretty much all he can to disrupt the class and destroy the other attendees' chances of learning what they need to know. Muttering, not too quietly, about how the entire training program is "bullshit" and garbage and keeping the trainers from presenting their material.

I mean, he was sent out of the room. Can you imagine yourself, at the age of +/-50, being so disruptive in a training class that you get sent out of the room like a five year-old misbehaving in kindergarten?

I passed Smilin' Tommy just now. He was in the lobby, outside the office suite, talking to someone on the phone. As I passed, I heard him say, "Yes, obviously I want to cooperate in any way I can, but the atmosphere here is just so toxic."

He's doomed to fail. He's determined to fail. And I can only think that he persuaded Jason to give him a second chance because he has some kind of nefarious plan to wreak revenge on the corporate that rejected him in the first place.

My sympathy is with Jason. He made the right decision in the first place, then allowed himself to be persuaded to change his mind. And now we have a very tall two year-old who, assuming he makes it through training, is going to make life miserable for everyone in every way he can.

But mostly? I'm sort of worried. Because Smilin' Tommy strikes me as the kind of guy who might show up for tomorrow's class with a gun in his hand.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:07 PM | Comments (3)


The weekend was good, up until a point. (More about that later.) The weather was gorgeous, I spent a lot of money, and I puttered around the house, and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Saturday we hit the Farmer's Market early, trying to beat the stroller brigade and the dog walkers. I hear that they don't allow you to bring your dog to Farmers' Markets in California. I wish they didn't allow it in Denver, but at least there weren't any fights or overly friendly, licky doges this week.

I picked up, among other goodies, a pint or so of fresh blackberries. Yesterday, I searched the 'net, found an "award-winning" recipe for blackberry cobbler, and cooked up what I'm not ashamed to say was a delicious pan-full of yummy. (Okay, anything that starts with a cup of sugar and a stick of melted butter is bound to be delicious. But my cooking skills aren't so impressive that I take success for granted.)

I also grabbed a few more fresh peaches. They're now ripening in a paper bag on the kitchen counter. I thought about cobblering some of them, but I'm not really a fan of peach cobbler. Apple or cherry are the cobblers I like. And blackberry, of course, but blackberries aren't a fruit I think about much. (Except that I'm thinking about them now and already planning to buy more next weekend.)

Right next to the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market is a nice, big Bed, Bath, & Beyond store. I needed one of those thingies you hang in the shower to hold shampoo bottles and whatnot, so we wandered in there. I wound up with a basket full of small items (stocking stuffers for the upcoming holiday season--it's never too soon to get started), a new humidifier ($35--that's the "a lot of money" I was talking about), and a new shower curtain.

I have a shower stall, but those are ugly, so for the last six or seven years, I've been hanging a shower curtain over it.

And I have walls, badly painted (20 years ago) in a light shade of yellow that I don't like. So, this coming weekend I'm planning to buy a gallon of paint, a one-short roller and disposable paint pan, and some edging tape, and transform my bathroom into something a little less dire. My new shower curtain is waiting for the new paint job, so I can do an all-over transformation.

I also have a loose tile at the base of the shower. The maintenance guy showed up a week or so ago, looked it over and announced that it would have to wait until they could redo all the drywall behind it. (The drywall I could see has gone all yucky and black. I assume this is an unseen consequence of a roof leak we had a few years ago.)

This is one of those times when you're glad you rent--I'm going to get a pretty-clean shower at no cost!

Or, I will be once the maintenance guy comes back and does the work. He used a plastic shopping bag and duct tape to make a temporary fix, so I could continue bathing on a regular basis. I guess it was optimistic of me to think he'd tell management that the problem wasn't actually fixed, so I'm going to call them myself today.

And then--painting fun!

Workwise, I was on time today. I expected to be late since Jason had made a point of how everyone was expected to be on-hand to greet the incoming training class, and I did oversleep a bit, but I raced through my morning routine and got here with almost 30 seconds to spare. Jason? Was a no-show. I'm thinking about speaking to him about the inadvisability of considering yourself an exception to "everyone."

Today I'm waiting for the next NutNews files. My own personal ChaosManager, Vela, is leaving on her honeymoon on Wednesday and she's making a frantic effort to get everything in the world done before she leaves. I volunteered to do this week's editing, to free up some of her time. (I'd have had to redo any editing anyone else did anyhow.)

I heard yesterday morning that one of my aunts was in the hospital. After surviving a bout with cancer and living for many years with Lupus, she suffered a massive stroke last week. The L-i-K-S found out yesterday and let me know, then she called back in the evening to tell me that our aunt had passed away.

It's almost invisible, you know? The moment when you transition from buying everyone you know wedding gifts or baby gifts, to the day you realize you're ordering flowers for funerals more than any other kind of offering.

Take care of yourselves!

Posted by AnneZook at 11:06 AM | Comments (5)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Get Thee Behind Me, Satan!

I've always suspected that if Satan gets himself behind you and out of sight? He might get up to all kinds of naughty shenanigans before you know it. I think it's better to keep potential sources of trouble firmly in sight. (I'm lookin' at you.)

That's--not a mixed metaphor, but it's certainly a well-stirred figure of speech.

Anyhow. NutNews week and I am pleased to be able to report that I have, in fact, put temptation firmly behind me!

To keep a moderately boring story short, a co-worker has a family member in a band. Said band was invited to play at the WH for the Worst President Ever recently. Photos were taking and forwarded to TeamChaos. My own, personal ChaosManager decided this was good fodder for NutNews coverage. Two photos were forwarded to me.

Picture #1 was a gift. The WEP making a lemon-sucking face (he's at a microphone) while the band members behind him are either hiding their faces or looking depressed. And, okay the band members are actually wiping sweat off their faces or listening intently to what's being said, but you have to look very closely to see the difference.

Picture #2 was just a photo. Happy band members laughing at a joke by the WEP.

Due to extreme carelessness on the part of my own, personal ChaosManager, she forwarded both pictures and recommended Picture #1 as a better one of the entire group.

Yes, of course, she meant to type Picture #2. But she didn't! I would have been perfectly justified in using the picture she suggested, don't you think?

And OHMIGOD this story has already gotten three times as long as it deserves to be, but I think it should be established that I'm capable of doing The Right Thing when the occasion calls for it.

Once again, today is Extremely Emphatic Day in Anne's World.

Sorry. I get that way when I really don't have that much to say. I'm sort of dinking around for a few minutes. Taking a break, sort of thing.

It hasn't been all bad, having Gidget out for the past week. If the sales people across the cubicle divide become annoying, I can put on my headphones and bop along to some tunes. I bopped along to Mozart for most of last week, but then I was listening to my favorite piece for ten minutes last Friday before I realized I didn't actually have the music turned on, so, maybe time to mix it up a little.

I decided it was time to branch out. Today, I'm bopping along to Vivaldi.

What? You can totally bop along to classical music.

pah-dah-DAT-poom pah-dah-DAT-poom

You recognize that, right? Mozart. Yeah, that piece. I knew you'd be able to hear it if I played it for you. (Four hours of Vivaldi have not yet erased it from my brain.)

I had a candy bar today. I had a candy bar yesterday, too. I'm gonna get so fat.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:17 PM | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What does it say about my life that when I read of a television show with a title like Puppets Who Kill, I instantly think of three friends who entirely need to be aware of it? (What does it say about my friends?)

I must remember to check out Robson Arms for myself.

In the meantime, I've promised myself the boxed 4-season set of Corner Gas as a reward for a successful NSP.* I didn't actually know WGN was running it, but they're in S3 and I've only seen a couple of episodes of S1.

I'm not actually All About Television these days. I'm All About a lot of things.

I'm All About No Jury Duty. I was called this week and I would have answered the call, no matter how awkward it would have been to miss even one day of work this week, but they didn't want me.

I'm All About Work. I've taken work home two nights this week - the thin end of the wedge for a recovering workaholic.

Now that Gidget's out for a week healing after surgery, and going to be back part-time for another week or two after that, I have the joy of "covering" for her. Since I don't know where she keeps everything, what programs or interfaces she uses to change things, or what her policies are on handling change requests, it's been--challenging at times.

I've been grumbling to myself already, ever since the news came in that no replacement for Penelope will be forthcoming. I mean, yes, I knew when they asked me to take on half her job "for a couple of weeks, a month tops" that I'd never get rid of it. I've been down this path before and I know better than to believe management when they ask you to step up "temporarily." But having it made, you know, officially official makes me mutter.

Instead, we're getting a "National Accounts Development" person. Which makes me grumble even more.

#1 - Our budget doesn't have the money for a mid-range communications person (in a company where everyone is already bitching about sparse communication), but we can afford a no-doubt six-figure "business development" person's salary?

#2 - Why is this sales position being created in marketing? Why not in the sales department?

#3 - Am I the only person who thinks it's stupid that the most productive VP in the company is now so busy with administrative work that she has no time to do her actual job? And that she's going to remain that way, since 80% of Penelope's job was administrative and this place has not one, single admin to support four VPs, two Directors, and a CEO? **

Anyhow. I'm doing 2-1/2 jobs this week, so, yes, All About Work, but I hope it's temporary. (Pay no attention to the complete text of the website, neatly printed out and bound, laying on the desk next to me. I'm only pretending that I'm tired of waiting and I'm going to rewrite the blasted thing myself. Really.)

The only bright spot on this morning's horizon is Morning Mozart on NPR. Which starts now! That's nice, because I'm All About Office Music this week. I decided that I'd listened to Chuckles (he sits on the other side of my cube wall) mumble, stumble, and fumble his way through enough sales calls. It was so painful listening to him that it was distracting me from my actual work.

I brought in my Walkman and some good music on tape (Mozart and Vivaldi) and on the local NPR station's classical channel. Then the R.C. loaned me her CD Walkman (mine's cassette) so I brought in Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Strauss.

I wanted the Brandenburg Concertos but the R.C. didn't have them. She gave me something called "Russian Sketches" instead. I mean, she knows how I feel about Russian composers. So overwrought. What kind of world is it when you ask for Bach and you get Russians?

I muttered to myself for two hours when I got to work that morning. Then I gave up and listened to the CD and, you know, not really overwrought at all, so I wasted a good mutter. In fact, there's a piece by Ippolitov-Ivanov called "Procession of the Sardar" that's absolutely fabulous.

I'm All About Fruit this summer. I've eaten pounds and pounds of fresh cherries. I don't know if I've ever eaten fresh cherries before, but this summer I can't get enough of them. I've also eaten bunches of bananas and I'm eagerly awaiting this weekend's trip to the farmer's market so I can grab a heaping handful of Colorado peaches.*** I'm told by a usually reliable source (the R.C.) that they're finally available. Only one cantaloupe so far, but I'm going to remedy that on my next grocery store trip because the Rocky Fords are also available. Mmmm.

In spite of the healthiness of all that, I suspect I'm getting fat again. I've been afraid to weigh myself for the last two weeks.

And I'm All About Friends. Coffee with Meghan and Ruthless tonight. I haven't seen them for a month and we've been trying to schedule a get-together for two or three weeks. Sometimes it's ridiculous how hard it is to find two free hours at the same time in three women's schedules.

Getting there on time means I'll have to slide out of here just a little early, so I think I'd better do some actual work between now and then.


* At whatever time the NSP is, you know, successful. Which is not yet. Not quite. Maybe in a few days. (Don't ask.) (Thank you.)

** It's because the entire management staff (aside from the CEO) are women. That's what I think. If VP Row (the west side of the office) was filled with men? No one would expect them to sit in on meetings for other people's departments, take minutes, type them up, and distribute them. Male executives wouldn't do it, but women? They just assume the grunt work is their problem, even if it says "Vice-President" on their door.

*** Sometimes I push the alliteration thing too far.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, August 11, 2008
August Follies

Sometimes, life has been so strange that I don't quite know how to talk about it. Things never quite turn out the way you anticipate.*

I'm talking about Friday night, Vela's wedding, okay? (Even though it's clear that your interest in it is at zero or less.)

To begin with, I convinced Gidget (we were carpooling) that driving to LoDo** on a Friday evening was going to be a nightmare and that parking spots were going to be few and far between. She's never taken the Light Rail and was actually excited about the idea.

We met for a light salad dinner and I guided her to the park-and-ride, and bought her a ticket. We embarked when the correct train arrived and--it was packed! Why didn't anyone tell me there was a stupid Rockies game Friday night? We stood, swaying from the straps, for 45 minutes as the train wended its leisurely way to Union Station. And Gidget talked to people.

I don't know what the etiquette is in other cities? But in Denver, the light rail isn't so much a social mixer as a place where you're expected to focus on keeping your elbows out of other people's faces. She was having fun, though so whatever.

We slid into the wedding with a clear four minutes to spare and wound up, with no prior planning, in a row filled with other 'Nuts. (Vela invited TeamChaos.) So, you know, points right up front for being prominently in appearance but a requirement to be on your Very Best Behavior during the ceremony. (Not that I'm prone to throwing pies under other circumstances or anything.)

I hadn't thought much about the ceremony (other than to hope it would be short) and was momentarily surprised at the guest list. Not that I mind if people want to invite the god of their choice or anything, but I can't remember how many years it's been since I sat in a room full of people muttering prayer responses, interjecting at intervals in what was clearly a well-worn presentation, and amening all over the landscape. I'm afraid I behaved a little badly, but mostly in muttered asides to Gidget, so I didn't disrupt the festivities. Much.

I might have annoyed the men next to me who were involved in looking up every bible text mentioned on their Blackberries, but they were annoying me, so that's fair.

The highlight of the ceremony for me, with apologies to the bride and groom, came when the five year-old girl in front of me, entranced with the fairy lights and her own pretty frock, said to the little boy sitting beside her, "I'm going to marry you very soon." And she sealed her promise with a gentle kiss on his cheek.

Anyhow. Post-ceremony, Gidget headed for a nearby knot of 'Nuts and I trailed along after her. After the obligatory spousal introductions, most of them seemed happy to let me stand back and smile and nod vaguely while I pretended to follow their conversations. (I'm good at that. In my next life, I might be a Nodder.***)

I was perfectly happy with this arrangement. I'm sure Jason meant well, but he's a social retard (according to a slightly inebriated member of TeamChaos) and demonstrably has no fund of social small talk at all. What possessed him to single me out for conversation, I don't know.

He managed "good evening." Then he stood there, looking freaked.

I wasn't prepared for a 35 year-old man panicking like an eight year-old who has forgotten his party piece, so I just looked at him. (Okay, after a few seconds I took pity on him, but still. The man is CEO of the company and he doesn't have the presence of mind to pass an unscripted remark about the weather or something?)

It was hot in the foyer, so after a couple of uncomfortable minutes I made the Usual Excuse (ladies' room) to the group at large and wandered around the hotel, stood in the front door and watched the rain bucketing down (hoping, somewhat meanly, that all of those baseball fans who had been pigging up all of the seats on the light rail were getting wet), and generally tried to stay cool.

Back at the party I stuck close to Gidget, making polite noises at various strangers, watching in disbelief as at least four members of TeamChaos bypassed the open bar (beer and wine only) in favor of a bootleg bottle of vodka smuggled in by Willy Loman and a friend. (What is it about salesmen and alcoholism?) Jason was seen partaking of the bootleg bonanza as well. How inappropriate is that?

And then later (one assumes several drinks later), Jason appeared next to the table where I was nibbling sushi and bruschetta and stared at me owlishly for a few seconds before announcing that he didn't know anything about me.

I know that, okay? I've been with this company for over six months and pretty much no one there knows anything about me. I sit at my desk and do my job. It's a system I have and it works for me.

Anyhow, Jason pulled up a chair, sat down, and asked me if I was married. No. Did I have any children? No.

His conversational well ran dry at this point.

After a few seconds, I mentioned that I had plants.

"Plans?" He asked fuzzily.

"Plants," I enunciated carefully. (A joke is never funny if you have to repeat it.)

He didn't know what to do with this information.

Gidget took pity on him and announced that I was a Democrat. (She told me later that he's rabidly Republican, so, in context, her remark was less helpfulness and more rabble-rousing. But I like a good rabble as well as the next person.)

"Well, that's a problem," he said.

No, no, he added a few seconds later. Just kidding.

"I'm not really a Democrat," I assured him.

He looked relieved.

"I'm independent," I told him maliciously. "Because the Democratic party isn't liberal enough for me."

"They're not liberal enough?" He stared at me in disbelief. "So, you're a socialist?"

I sweartogod (who didn't attend the reception) that the man thinks today's Democratic Party is a half-step to the right of Socialism. So, you know, that pretty much told me everything I needed to know about him.

I bowed out of the conversation and he turned with some relief to Gidget. And gave her hell about a new program she'd instituted a couple of weeks ago that hadn't performed to spec. So inappropriate at a non-work function.

Shortly afterward, Gidget and I made the Usual Excuse and bailed on the party. The rain had stopped but it was a muggy walk back to the train station. I didn't care. I was free.

A 30-minute wait for a train heading to our stop. Boring, but Gidget and I rarely run out of things to chat about.

Eventually there was boarding. Riding. Stopping. Power outage at the next major junction. A "short delay."

Because I have manners, no matter what anyone says, I relinquished the empty row I'd been managing to fully occupy and let some nearby standees relax on it.

Gidget, whose purse really had needed a seat of its own, gave me space and thirty seconds later she was back to her old, bad habits. A few minutes later, everyone in the car knew she was riding the Light Rail for the first time, that we'd been attending our boss's wedding, that the CEO of our company was a nitwit but that I'd smacked him down***** during the party, etc., etc., etc. She's sort of like me that way. She doesn't need to drink. When she gets a little tired, she gets silly.

By this point in the evening, we were both silly. I like to think that we contributed largely to making the ensuing 45-minute delay a little more enjoyable for everyone within a 50-yard radius but I suspect we were just annoying some people. The conversation was wide-ranging (smoking, depression, dentists, weddings, lesbians, eyesight deteriorating with age, John Edwards, axe murderers on buses, cheesecake) while it lasted, but the husband of one of the women we were chatting with (okay, at) came over to announce that he could hear us all ten feet from where we were sitting and that made us too loud.

Eventually (11:42p.m.) I made it home. The next time someone invites me to spend an evening with a lot of people I already know I have nothing in common with? I'm going to catch a communicable disease first, so I can give it a miss.


* Obviously I noticed this many years ago, but I also decided, many years ago, that it was better to go on anticipating anyhow. That way, you get 10-for-1 on your experiences--you get to have ten anticipated experiences for every one reality.

Sometimes I worry that I'm a little weird.

** Lower Downtown

*** Wodehouse

**** Willy is about to be transferred from the "bring in new locations" team to Vela's team where he'll be in charge of bringing in new national accounts. I tried to avoid him for the rest of the evening. I didn't really want to begin my professional acquaintance of him with the memory of him being drunk and stupid while I was sober and annoyed.)

***** Longer story than I feel like typing at the minute after this already a ridiculously long entry.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:42 AM | Comments (3)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's 'NutNews week again. Groan. Stilted prose, half-finished thoughts, articles stolen from various sites around the 'net and uncredited, and my half-assed html skills. So. Much. Fun. (In the "not really" way.)

I don't know why I act like I care. It's not like I have any control over the content, the boringness of which is the biggest problem. For instance, at one point, I suggested to one of the ChaosManagers that advertising a class for which the registration deadline had already passed? Was really just taunting the people who didn't get signed up in time. She laughed--but the class is still going to be advertised.

And then there was the moment when I had to go to various people's office and explain to them, one by one, why it was not a good idea to put the order form for buying Office 2007 up on the website in .docx format. I thought I was going to have to draw pictures to make them understand that the only people who need the order form can't access .docx documents because that's the 2007 format.

The consensus is that the newsletter today is just like it was two months ago, when Penelope used to produce it. People around here say that like it's a compliment, but it was a mind-numbingly boring newsletter two months ago.

I guess it doesn't have to be--I have carte blanche to edit anything I want to edit, with the caveat that my edits are subject to being re-beiged if I get too lively--but I can't decide whether or not I care that much. It's hard. (Because it's boring.)

Vela, my own personal ChaosManager, continues to display her allergy to contractions. I don't know why. At the moment, I'm going through the articles and introducing contractions where appropriate--or where the mood moves me. And I'm re-titling her articles because I don't find something like "Marketing Update" to be all that compelling. (Although she probably has a point when she says she doesn't want the title to invite people to read the article, because she doesn't want to listen to complaints.) And I'm reading her sentences closely because subject-verb agreement is something she's only nominally interested in. And she has a habit of writing the first half of a sentence/thought and then leaving it to finish later--except, she doesn't finish later.

Oh, why don't I just admit it? I'm rewriting half the silly thing. Not, you know, in any major way, but at least enough to make the articles sound as through they were written by a reasonably well-educated English-speaking person. (Or as close as I can come to that, after several years of blogging.)

The temptation has been strong this week to build some easter eggs into the html. I would, but I don't think anyone here would be amused. (Nor do I think anyone here would actually find such a thing, but you never know.) What I have been doing (largely on my own time, I hasten to assure you) is writing a spoof newsletter. Mostly on my own time, but occasionally as I work on the Real 'NutNews, I stop and capture random ideas.

I don't know why I thought you'd care about all of that.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:50 AM | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 26, 2008
It's all Not Just

Work-work-work! After being late--not just late, but OHMIGOD I'm SO late!!!--this morning, I'm making up for it with a furious stretch of productivity. Uploading, downloading, creating, editing, reading, and even thinking.

At the moment, my thoughts are wandering around the question of how Dynamic Keyword Insertion can help us target low-traffic, high-profit niche and vertical markets, but that's probably not of general interest to my exclusive and intelligent readership, so I won't bore you.

I've been browsing my way through a couple of the certification programs I'm planning to qualify for and, quite surprisingly, learning a lot in the process. For instance, I discovered that the dedicated Webnetter "rep" who introduced us to the concept of DKI explained it quite incorrectly. At least, I'm choosing to decide it was her. My other option is to assume that Gidget listened and got it wrong. Experience suggests a 50/50 probability between those options. Anyhow, I have to edit 2000 ads between now and the end of the month. To make my life easy, I'm thinking I'll edit them in bulk, offline, and then do a mass "delete the old, upload the new" change the afternoon of the last day of this month. That will give me clean data on both sets of ads.

Last night, the diet sailed not just out the window, but down the river, out to sea, and over the horizon. Regrettable since it was a business dinner, not a private pig-out with friends, but there you go. It's fortunate I'm not ambitious in business since given a choice between goodie-starved taste-buds and a chance to impress new colleagues with my professionalism and restraint, my taste-buds will win every time. You know how it goes--I can resist everything but temptation.

An hour before bedtime I took not one, but two sleeping pills. I turned in early, was out like a light less than 30 minutes later, and still overslept this morning. I don't know how often I hit the snooze button, but I know that the first time I raised my head to squint at the clock, it said, 7:59. *Sigh.* I need to find a sleeping aid that doesn't contain pain relievers so I dare to take it more than once or twice a week when the weather is so hot and muggy.

We did get a storm last night. Finally, after a week of clouds massing up every afternoon and the humidity climbing rapidly, only to dissipate without result. Rain pouring! Wind whooshing! Temperature dropping! It didn't last long but I was grateful for every lost degree of heat. That might have contributed to my unusual 9-hour stretch of somnia. (Insomnia is a word, so "somnia" should be intelligible to all of you.)

I really am feeling perky today. Not just perky--positively enthusiastic!

Posted by AnneZook at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I had a whole, whiny entry written about last week's 'NutNews issue, but I didn't get it posted on Friday and I'm over it.

I'm Social Girl this week. There's a rumor I'm slated to lunch with the training class for new 'nuts today. Meeting friends for coffee, snacks, knitting, and gossip tonight. Tomorrow evening is dinner with the department. Apparently* one of the four** of us lives and works remotely and isn't in town often. Since he's here this week, there's a command performance for dinner-and-bonding. Two events! Both on school nights! (How old do you have to get before you stop thinking of weekday evenings as "school" nights?)

The diet, for anyone remotely interested, is not going well. I lost focus a couple of weeks ago and on Saturday I declared myself officially "off" the diet. I've had enough junk food in the last three days to make me sick for a year, so as soon as I get back to the grocery store (Thursday), I'm buying more expensive, ready-to-eat turkey (ick) and starting again. Still 4 lbs down, still 6 lbs to go.

With the arrival of summer, I've stopped sleeping at all well. Back to 1-2 hours of laying awake before I drop off and back to waking up several times a week. If getting old means never getting another good night's sleep, I don't want to play.

I should be working, shouldn't I? But I'm not.

Later that same decade....

I'm offended. Human nature being what it is, while I didn't want to have to sit and eat cold sandwiches and make nice to this week's crop of 'Nut trainees, I'm grossly offended by the discovery that 70% of the office is lunching with them today, but I'm not included. The entire sales department is at lunch and no one seems to care that their phones are ringing off the hook.

Bunny update

Baby bunnies are swarming. I see at least one every time I leave the building. I think their parents are about to kick them out of the Bunny Home, though. On this last trip out, I saw one older bunny laying in the shade of a bush. She was sprawled out on her back, little bunny paws waving in the cool breeze. A little Me Time for mom.

/Bunny Update

And, speaking of sleep problems (we were, some time ago, remember?), I think I'm starting to pay the price in nonfunctioning brain cells. This morning, my alarm went off and I sprang out of bed--for the first time in over a week. I puttered around--brushing the teeth, washing the face, combing the hair, daubing the contents of various pots and bottles here and there, and discovered, with some satisfaction, that I had 35 minutes left to make the 10-minute commute to my office. I was about to be on time for a change!

As I gathered up my purse and my little lunch bag, vague thought of some task left undone nagged at me. I ran back over the list. Teeth? Brushed. Make-up? Daubed. Deodorant? Applied. Hair? Combed.

But...wait! Hair? Combed? What happened to drying and styling it?

Yes, dear readers, I did everything I needed to do to get ready for the day except take a shower.

Sigh. In the end, I was only ten minutes late to the office. Thank goodness for the new, shorter 'do that only takes 5 minutes to style.

I swear, if I hadn't had plans for after work today, I'd have just come in as I was--all grungy and grimy with the dirt of the last 24 hours all over me.

Yes, I should be working. But I pounded out so much work last Friday and yesterday, to make up for being distracted by the 'NutNews for three days last week, that I'm once again at the point where I have to let all of the accounts 'rest' for a couple of days so I can evaluate the results of my most recent changes. I guess there's such a thing as being too efficient on the job.


I smushed my finger in a drawer. Waitaminnit-I have to go deal with the bloodshed....


* Okay, well, not so much 'apparently' because I know he's not a local employee. It's just that even though I've met him before, no one ever said what his job was, so I didn't realize he was a member of our little department. I knew Penelope was, but not this guy, although I didn't know Penelope was until she was leaving and they asked me to take on half her job.

** Yes, still four. The last I heard, they're now hoping to have a new person hired and on board before the end of the summer. It's a good thing I'm experienced in Management-Speak and didn't take their "can you take of half of Penelope's job but it's only for three weeks" statement that seriously.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Assorted Nuts

I'm getting better known here at the Argonut café. I'm not sure that's a good thing. I rather object to people interrupting my work day with requests to do time-wasting things like emailing someone 60 files because she's working at home and forgot to take a CD with her. Or getting IMs asking me to walk over and ask someone something, when the person could just as easily have IMd the person they wanted to talk to. Or getting more IMs asking if Gidget is in the office, from people too lazy to walk the 30 steps to her desk to see for themselves or, even simpler, pick up the phone and dial her extension.

On the good news (or at least "fun things") side of the equation, I've now been here for long enough that I'm moving past the daily tasks (i.e., "work") and onto more strategic (i.e., "dinking around") thinking.

This morning I wrote a 4 page document describing the three major online marketing programs we work with, identifying features unique to each of them and describing what we use them for. No one asked me for it and no one will ever care, but I always write documents because they organize my thoughts.

Mind you, I don't use all of those features. Some of them are new, some of them I haven't had time to experiment with yet, and some of them I didn’t know existed before I went poking around today. But I will be using them. One of the advantages of sitting down and writing up things you don't know about is that you're forced to learn about them. There are some fairly cool (if time-consuming) tools that I plan to play with work on over the next month. And there are other things, things I did because Gidget said to do them and to do them that way--now I'm thinking some of them might not be getting the results we want.

Certifications are available for some of the programs we use and I'm rapidly qualifying.

(Yes! I'm almost certifiable!)

Before I get sidetracked, I need to figure out how to document what I'm doing. I'm big on documentation, of course. I mean, first, sitting around and writing about stuff aimlessly, and, second, colored charts! (Also I gotta track what I do so if I break it I can fix it.)

I've been holding off on some tools previously available because I wanted to wait until the Next Level Plan was approved and we were getting things underway. Some of what I've found has the potential to significantly improve our marketing tracking and our traffic. I wanted implementation of those things to be something we could brag about in the NLP Results So Far reports.

That's not some kind of spitefulness. I've already made a lot of changes and improvements in the last four months and then, in the last month, I've had to carve out 25% of my time to do the ArgonutNews and all of the associated whatnot around it.

It's a mistake to be too productive, especially when you've been piled with extra work that's supposedly temporary. Do too good at coping and management will immediately decide to make the temporary assignment permanent.

Speaking of the 'NutNews, though, I've convinced Vela, my own personal ChaosManager, that paying a modest fee to use an email design-and-bulk-send service is a good idea. I did some research the other day (I love this job) and picked out the one I liked. They offer a free trial, so I'll have to spend some time messing around with it (so sad) over the next week.

Wow, that was boring and All About Me.

As a reward for reading through all of that (or at least skimming down the entire entry), I offer Google Trends. Who cares about what interests you today? What is everyone talking about? What's hot, what's spicy, and what's cold and empty? And when does "Whitewater Investigation" not come with the name "Clinton" attached? Check out what's trending.

If that's too complicated, take yourself over to Ask 500 People and respond to a few polls.

If you're just hard up for something to read, anything, well, I usually visit bharatbhasha when I feel that way.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, June 6, 2008
Because I'm petty

The Argonut newsletter, end of month reporting, a major addition to all 35 advertising campaigns that Gidget requested 2 weeks ago and that I haven't been able to complete yet, various meetings, and, oh, yes, my real job.

Mentally, I'm sitting here whining about how hard I had to work this week. I should be ashamed--in the past I've had much more stressful jobs with many more ridiculous tasks to be completed than what I've been doing this week.


As Gidget and I were just saying to each other, it's a good thing we got paid today. This was a very good week for them to remind us that they give us money for putting up with them.

Other than that, it's Friday, so I'm fairly cheerful. I've gotten 8 of the 35 updates loaded this morning and have hopes of getting the others completed by the end of the day.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, May 30, 2008
Is Serenity Overrated?

Much as I like the Extreme Peacefulness of my new position, I have to admit that there are days when it pretty much crosses the line into mind-numbing tedium.

Wednesday I spent a large chunk of the day entering email leads into a spreadsheet for end-of-month reporting and analysis. It's a necessary task, but I'd give twice my own hourly rate to someone else to do it for me. Type the date. Type the Argonut ID code. Type the lead source. Repeat ad nauseam, 700+ times a month.

I'm still enjoying the new job, though, in spite of the extra duty penalties I'm suffering for having volunteered to help them out when they were in a bind.*

Much of what I'm doing is still like a game. Like last week, when I was running reports and looking to see how some of our advertising campaigns are doing. I was feeling a bit guilty about wasting company time dinking around that way when I was abruptly shocked to remember that that kind of "dinking around" is part of my job. I mean, wow. Not only work I don't mind doing, but tasks that feel more like play than work!

The boringness factor, though. Contrary to what Gidget says and Vela believes, this is not rocket science. It's fun, but not taxing. It's even a bit--I won't say demeaning, but I will say it's rather less intellectually challenging than the kind of work I'm capable of.

Still, for the money they're paying me, and I'm very grateful for the regular paycheck but it's not that big, so for the money they're paying me, they're getting about as much of my brain as they're entitled to.

I fell off the diet wagon directly into a vending machine accident yesterday. Sigh. Even if it was only half a package of salted peanuts, it's a demonstration of self-indulgence that is just disgraceful. Shakes head regretfully.**

I gave in and printed out a list of the country names I feel I should be able to remember. Of the entire list of 235 (I think), there were 163 that I thought I should be able to name at the drop of a hat. I'm going to study the list before I try the game again. It may be cheating, but I prefer to think of it as "studying." (If nothing else, I may learn to spell Liechtenstein, right?) (It's the first e. I can never seem to remember the first e.

There will be a pause while I slurp coffee and sift through my brain for something interesting to say....

Not interestingly, but aggravatingly, while I was off doing phone relief, Skylla crept to my desk and dropped a fiver onto it. I refused point-blank to take money from her for cigarettes before and advised her to buy her own if she planned to smoke regularly. But, she explained today, it works better for her if she just borrows from me.

It's a significant difference to her, you see, that she's not "buying" cigarettes. (I don't think she realizes that she's not less of a smoker just because she doesn't go into a store and pay for her own.)

Previously I also refused point-blank to be responsible for showing up every day with enough cigarettes for both of us. She feels that giving me money will take care of that potential problem.

Gidget advises me to buy an extra pack with Skylla's money and just leave it here for her, but that's basically just me buying her cigarettes for Skylla, which puts me where I don't want to be.

I haven't been able to find the words to explain to anyone how badly I don't want to be part of this situation. If you're my friend? Bum a cigarette. Snag a pack. Borrow a carton, I don't mind. But Skylla is not a friend of mine. She makes nice at me because she wants cigarettes.

Also? Now, today, before she falls off the non-smoking wagon she's clearly been on, it's time for her to face the fact that you either smoke or you don't. If she's fought the battle this far, she needs to not smoke and she's not "not smoking" just because she's not carrying the fiver into a store on her own.

I wish I could find the words to say that to her.

I'm noticing that I'm not as serene as I was when I started this post.

"Time flies like an arrow," goes the old joke. "But fruit flies like bananas." If you have some interest in speculations in cosmology, you might enjoy reading about this. I did.


* As I stop to think about it, I'm not sure why I complain about it so much. I mean, yeah, it means an additional 8-10 hours of work every couple of weeks, but it's not like it's hard work. And some MSFP experience will look good on my resume. But still I complain.

** Except that I'm doing a little better than that, having dropped 4 lbs so far.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

That's about all I can say for today. It's Tuesday. The long weekend has passed and I expect that this "short" week will, like most 4-day workweeks, drag on forever. It was gray and rainy yesterday, it's gray and rainy today, and it's supposed to be gray and rainy tomorrow.*

I don't think I've mentioned them to you before, but a small outside company handles the Argonaut's behind-the-scenes website functionality. There's a pair of software programmers assigned to our account--Tootles and Smee. Tootles is the boss and he's got one of those good ol' boy faces you wouldn't be surprised to see in company with a tractor. It was a bit of a surprise to me to discover that he's a very talented programmer. I'm frequently guilty of being appearancist. (Made-up words are the best.)

The other one is my old buddy Smee. I worked with him for seven or eight years, back in the technology heyday of the 90s. he's another of the same kind--got a face you'd expect to see on a guy living on a street corner, and a brain the size of Jupiter. (Remember when "computer nerd" automatically generated an image of a weedy, bespectacled little runt?) He's going on vacation. Six days in the desert outside Moab to contemplate his ommm or something but before he left, he wanted to make sure we actually wanted what Gidget asked him for.

And now I'm wondering if I understand this company at all because it turns out that of all the Next Level Plan ideas that Gidget and I put forth to Jason and the rest of TeamChaos, one item has floated to the top. The blog. Jason wants us to move on the idea quick-quick-quick.

I don't know why. My original idea for a CEO blog (they're all the rage these days) limped to the nearest drain and swirled out of sight ten seconds later, but the overall blog concept seems to have inspired a wave of enthusiasm that, quite frankly, astonishes me.

I mean, I don't understand why they're excited about it, or why they want to move ahead with it instantly. In a company where three years of strenuous and deliberate effort finally produced a company newsletter as devoid of personality as a faded beige rock, they're all hot-to-trot for a blog?

Doesn't make sense to me. I only made Gidget include it in the Next Level Plan because I knew it was the kind of thing that's light-years ahead of the normal thinking around here and she'd been challenged to be "cutting edge."

I'm not sure, to this moment, whether or not any of the Argonuts actually understands what a blog is or that it's supposed to be, you know, entertaining and informative. (Shaddup. I mean a company blog should be.)

Looks like while Smee's off contemplating the whichness of what, I'm going to have to lay out some ideas and guidelines, so I'm ready to launch whenever he gets back and gets the sw (a .net drop-in of some kind) up and running.

When they finally hire a communications person, rules, regulations, and content will be his/her problem, but it doesn't look like we're all wanting to wait for that.

Anyhow, since I'm a big believer in "start as you mean to go on" I'm happy to start with some rules. (I love rules that other people have to follow.) If I have to manage this fool thing, there need to be some guidelines. (I wish, oh how I wish, "don't be terminally boring" could be Rule #1.)

I have to edit it, too. That's a scary thought.

I'm sitting here, shaking my head, and wondering what kind of world it is when I'm not only the go-to person for technology, but the Supreme Grammar Guru and Punctuation Princess? As you all know, my interest in good grammar is intermittent at most and what I think works best for punctuation is if I just throw a bunch in and you mentally put it wherever you'd most like to see it. I proofread only under pressure.

I wouldn't put me in charge of anything that requires attention to detail or timely follow-up is all I'm saying.

And also, while I'm still producing the Newsletter O'Faded Beige and working with Gidget to help her write her own resume-website**, I don't really have the time to take on another huge project.


* I think my blood sugar must be down. I actually had a fabulous long weekend with much going and doing and frolicking.

** It's sad to say that I remember her as a great writer of marketing material but I'm not seeing that reflected in what she's writing these days. I don't know if she's selfconscious about this resume-website or just couldn't find the right angle to pull all of the info together, but the pages I've looked at for her have been a mess.

It's hard to find a polite way to say to a friend, "It's a mess," you know? Especially when what you really want to say is, "delete the entire file and start over.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:50 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Oh, Dear

Looks like I'm being "adopted" by no-doubt well-meaning coworkers who are concerned that I'm so quiet during the day. They keep coming by to say howdy and to ask if I want to go for out for a smoke (but that's just Skylla, who'd better start buying her own) and whatnot. (Either they're being friendly, or they were assigned to check on me at random points during the day to see if I'm working or not.)

I don't come to the office to make friends. I have plenty of friends. I come to the office because if I show up and look really busy, they give me money every two weeks.

I'm working, people! I was hired to do a full-time job even before they added on an armload of other stuff, and now I'm doing a significant percentage of Penelope's full-time job while they interview for her replacement.

Also, I'm on a diet and that makes me cranky. Down 3 lbs, 7 to go. Grrr.

So, I'm knee-deep in the first newsletter and being grateful that Penelope had it almost done before she abandoned ship to take a better job for more money. (I think it's important for you to understand that while she sent it to me 95% "done," around here, "done" means I've gotten 40 emails about it so far today. I shudder to think what producing one of these from scratch must be like.)

It's not the coding--even though Penelope forgot to send me the "template" and I'm using an old copy of the newsletter and learning Front Page at the same time--it's the content. Two hours into this and I'm already seeing why a bi-weekly newsletter and a handful of other "communications" documents are a full-time job. This thing is supposed to go out tomorrow, it was supposed to go to TeamChaos yesterday for approval, and I'm still waiting on content from--wait for it--TeamChaos! Thank goodness Vela is as good as her word. She's taking point as much as she can on forcing content out of people. I'm staring at my draft and mentally double-checking everything I do so I don't commit some ghastly faux pas.

But right now, I'm eating lunch, so I don't have to worry.

Under the heading of "does a body good," I can't believe I missed this jewel from Keith Olbermann last week.

President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations.

Heh. Sometimes I honestly think I stopped politiblogging because I was running out of non-profane words to use to describe my bone-deep fury with not only the willful stupidity of the Bush Administration but the determined blindness of most of the "mass" media and the American public.

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?" They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Such a satisfying thought, but it will never happen.

Four hours later....

For ten minutes there, I thought I'd run into the brick wall of my own limitations, but it turned out to be a lack of information. I'm going to need an ftp client to upload these newsletter files to the right place is all. Whew!

Posted by AnneZook at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Well, that was 'way boring. How am I supposed to write up notes of a conference call where, to the extent that I understood the conversation, no one said anything?

I was going to ask the ChaosManager leading the call for a copy of the previous call's notes, so I'd know what kind of thing to try and extract from my own scribbles, but I don't know who she is. I suspect she doesn't work out of this office. At least, when I walked around and looked at doors, none of them had her name on it.

It's a pickle, that's for sure.

Mmmm. Pickles. Potato chips. Port wine cheese spread. Sour cream. Sausages!

Sigh. 2 lbs down, 8 to go.

Doesn't it seem that I should be entitled to a reward for having lost 2 lbs? That's the problem with food. If you reward yourself for depriving yourself of food by giving yourself food (because if you haven't had food, what you pretty much want for a reward is food), pretty soon you weigh 200 lbs. This is a dangerous cycle, which is why I'm not allowed any food that tastes good. (Ed.You had Chinese food twice this week, you big fibber.)

Got an email from Her earlier today. Today was Her last day with Bernie. From what She says, he hasn't hired anyone yet, although he's interviewing.

I wish I could think of something interesting to say. I'm very happy, in a peaceful, uneventful kind of way, if that matters.

I guess I could make up lies. If I start posting stories of improbable adventures and narrow escapes, will you still respect me in the morning?

Posted by AnneZook at 04:19 PM | Comments (1)

Makin' A List

Some days, I could just smack Microsoft. Also, corporate executives and network gurus.

I just spent 20 minutes Googling around to find out what some of those blasted programs are that sit there sucking up my computer's processing power all day.

I've identified four or five that I can just routinely go in and shut down in the morning. Since this is the fourth time I've had to do this to stop my computer working on it's own projects instead of on mine, I made a Naughty list and posted it up. So annoying. Of course, the really annoying ones, like svchost.exe, the ones that run eight copies of themselves, can't be shut down because they're "critical" processes.

I tell you what. It's critical to me that I work on a computer that can move at least as fast as I can.

So, this week has been interesting. (No. Really.) I've barely had time to get bored with my Real Job, which is pretty cool.

I've had a couple of hour-long training sessions about taking over the bi-weekly Argonaut Newsletter. Because I hate being trained and can't be taught, I told everyone I already knew Front Page (I don't) and that I'd used it before (I haven't) and that I didn't need much information in that area. Penelope spent 15 minutes on it in one of the training sessions and I'm sure I have all the information I need to do what needs to be done.

Seriously--even considering Microsoft's annoyingly code-heavy approach to html, how hard can it be? It's just software.

I've already started the training manual (for producing the newsletter, not for using FP, although I'll include the necessary information w/screen captures for that portion of the project) so I can hand it over to whoever they hire who's job this will be in the long term. I'm the world's worst trainer but, even if I do say so myself, I write a good manual. Anyone with an IQ that goes into triple digits should find them clear and comprehensive.*

I've also spent a fair amount of time helping Gidget tweak the navigation for the new website. Turns out that the basic layout I submitted passed muster. If only I'd had any understanding of this place's actual products and services! But I didn't, so my drafts of the drop-down menus were much mocked and now I have to go back in and change all of the menu items around, add the things I forgot or didn't know about, and remove the things that are sidelines and not "core" businesses.

I tell you. It's a battle. Every day I have to fend off some TeamChaos member who wants to move the non-marketing content to a sitemap ghetto (SEO, dammit!) and once even Gidget lost track of what we're doing and suggesting sticking all of the new content in some back corner. No one's got my back on this one, but I'm sticking by my guns anyhow.

And then there's the Argonut who wants what he does, regardless of the fact that it's against the rules and no one else does it, featured prominently on the corporate home page.

I have to argue with people who want to use industry jargon--explaining again and again that you have to use the words your customers use.

No one wants to be the one who writes the blog. I'm so glad they're hiring the Penelope-replacement quickly. Whoever it is (scheduled to start 6/1), may wind up writing the entire thing.

This morning I lost a battle to get two items, add-on services, not core services, merged into their appropriate categories instead of featured on Page One.

No one asked me to, but I'm going to start writing content today. Even if I can't write "marketing" material, I can make sure that the draft everyone else starts with includes the critical words and phrases that we want repeated frequently across all the pages.

Anyhow. It's all interesting in its own way. Better than combing through the Webnetter software eight hours a day, looking for things to tweak, anyhow.

And now, it's time for me to log onto a phone call with a group of people I don't know, who plan to discuss an initiative I've never heard of. I'm taking notes, in lieu of Gidget, who got called away after she volunteered to take over for a member of TeamChaos who is unexpectedly absent today.


P.S. My Name the Countries score is up to 60 today! I'm learning them!


* Yes, I know, we all know, that She found herself unable to do my job with the manuals She had, but you have to remember that I didn't write most of those, they were in place when I arrived on the scene. And the ones I did write, She always claimed not to be able to find--neither the hard copies in the binder marked, "Manuals" nor the electronic files on the computer's hard drive.

Also? Any software program so easy to use that I can sit down to it cold, learn it, and writer a user manual for? Anyone else should be able to sit down with and figure out too. At least, enough to do the basic tasks with it. Hmph.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:46 PM | Comments (1)

Monday, May 12, 2008
Bunny Terror

I've been out terrorizing the bunnies. They like a warm day and you can usually find two or three of them sunning themselves on the grass beside the building whenever possible. And they're not too skittish--they don't head for the hills the minute you come into view or anything, but they don't want you closer than ten feet or so. Unless you keep an eye out, you can find yourself in the middle of a panic of running bunnies.

Most days I give them a wide berth. Some days I play the opposable thumb card and stride arrogantly through a pile of them, scattering bunnies far and wide.

The Argonuts across the cubicle wall are cooing and gooing. At least, the male portion of them are. Someone just booked a job for a movie maker (initials FFC) who did some of those glorified crime family/cop drama movies that men inexplicably find so riveting. (Pop culture is not my strong suit.)

I am, as are most of you, one assumes, watching the news about the China quake. I found an interesting table on the BBC site. It didn't show today's quake, but I've added it in:

May 2008: 7.9 quake in Sichuan - at least 8,500 dead, an unknown number hurt
March, 2008: 7.2 quake in Xinjiang - damage limited
February 2003: 6.8 quake in Xinjiang - at least 94 dead, 200 hurt
January 1998: 6.2 quake in rural Hebei - at least 47 dead, 2,000 hurt
April 1997: 6.6 quake hits Xinjiang - 9 dead, 60 hurt
January 1997: 6.4 quake in Xinjiang - 50 dead, 40 hurt

Domestically, I'm watching the news about the weekend's twister toll. Something I've been noticing in the past few years is that they're starting to talk about the ecological consequences of these storms. You never used to hear about that.

Locally, I'm remembering that when I was out Saturday, it was alternately sunny, raining, hailing, and snowing. It's gorgeous today, but we're supposed to get more rain or rain mixed with snow tomorrow. This is unusual for us. While it can snow in the mountains during any month of the year, mid-May usually signals the end of any danger of snow for the Denver metro area.

Weather worries me.

Closer to home, maybe you're wondering about Gidget's get-together with Jason and the fate of the Next Level Plan?

Remember that, after asking her for a comprehensive plan, fully footnoted and with web references, and then not bothering to read it before they met to discuss it, Jason agreed to read it and give her his actual feedback on Friday?

Well, that didn't happen. But rumor has it that he did actually read it this weekend and they were scheduled to meet today to finally discuss it all because, as Gidget was told, he had "a lot of questions and comments."

Now we're told that that's not going to happen, because now Jason's telling her she gave too much detail. He wants her to prepare another document, a spreadsheet, that just lays out the steps, the timeline, and the costs at each stage.

What. A. Tool.*

In the meantime, Vela is acting like the plan got a 100 percent go-ahead and, from what OpieGirl told me, is using it in interviews to explain what the position she's filling entails.

It's all very weird and schizophrenic. It's almost like Gidget gave Jason exactly what he wanted, but he just can't bring himself to say so.

Anyhow. Speaking of get-togethers, I had one myself this weekend. Brunch Saturday morning, then an afternoon of good and bad videos. The cream of the crop was Corner Gas, a little Canadian sitcom that charmed me and made me laugh right out loud.

In closing, let me encourage you all to try something for a week. Reset your browser's home page to Google news but make your default some other country than the UsofA. (Go to and check the bottom of the screen. There are a variety of countries to choose from.) Because we all need a non-UsofA perspective on life sometimes.


* As I have admitted before, I'm a passive-aggressive type with lousy people skills myself, but at least I'm fairly careful not to put myself into jobs where these character flaws can actually bring a company down or drive some coworker to drinking straight from the bottle, okay? So I figure I'm entitled to throw the occasional stone.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:52 PM | Comments (5)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Skinitizer. That's one that occurred to me a few minutes ago. All of those "no water needed" hand sanitizers? Skinitizers! As opposed to scanitizers--those security machines in the airport that puff air at you to see what you've stepped in if you're a suicidal terrorist. Earlier today I was webitizing graphics for the internet!

I don't usually spend my work hours making up words, but today I got stuck doing "phone relief" for the receptionist twice, an hour each time. Mostly I did work, honestly, but my mind did wander occasionally.

Why, you might wonder, was Anne's mind wandering?

Well, you've heard of "vaporware," right? It's imaginary product. Sales people refer to any product they're being asked to sell that isn't actually in production yet as "vaporware." And what do programmers call software that either doesn't have code written or is written but does not work? Vaporware, of course. I think software developers invented the word.

Today I've been working on my own version of vaporware--a vaporsite. I was asked to write up a site map for our new website.

Now, since we're still fighting out what our core products and services are, we haven't gotten the go-ahead for the Ask A Question or blog features, I can't find any two people who agree of what our major markets are and/or should be, and the new "customer log-in" section is more of a concept than a plan--well, as you might imagine, I'm having a little trouble putting together a flow chart that lays out the site's content.*

We don't have any content. I have four amazingly nonspecific "keywords" and a lot of differing opinions on what it is the Argonuts actually do--or should be doing.

Anyhow. I designed (hah!) a layout so that I could stare at the imaginary menu bars and theorize on what kind of conceptual content we might eventually decide to maybe include.

I wrote. I crossed out. I played around with graphics and font colors. I rewrote. I changed all the line spacing. I highlighted. I drew lines from one place to another. I wrote "whatever" in four places. I got a fresh piece of paper and wrote it all out again. I crossed out more stuff. I added new sections. I stared at it all for a while.

Then I made up words for twenty minutes while I ate lunch. Sadly, I was unable to come up with a suitable combination of "vapor" and "itizer" to describe the process. The closest I got was "vaporizer" which has the disadvantage of being a real word already and, if you think about it, sounds ominously martial anyhow.

This afternoon I have to turn all of my smoke-and-mirrors into a tidy flowchart that can be used to convince a casual (and hopefully inattentive) audience that we not only have a Major Plan, but we've made Significant Progress on it.

I swear, if it wasn't for the fact that writing about nothing at all is one of my major skills? I'd be sitting under the desk crying softly by now. (And there's no need to try and be "interesting" in a site map, so I'm golden all the way.)

Happy Friday!


* No, the current site does not have a site map that I can copy and alter appropriately. They've never done a site map before.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's one of those days. Nothing's precisely going wrong, but things aren't really sailing smoothly, either.

This morning, just as I was knee-deep in a particularly tricky bit of a report I was creating, Penelope dialed me up for the training call I'd forgotten about. I couldn't think of any questions to ask her (although I did take a moment to diss her for quitting just when I'd taught her how a few things about correct comma usage) because every time I let my control go for two seconds, I realized I'd been staring at the screen thinking about my report, instead of listening to her talk. To be honest, I have very little memory of what she talked about.

The next time she calls, I'm going to have to turn my screen off.

Then I had to run home at lunch to grab something I'd forgotten. I usually lunch from 1-2. I arrived back at the office at 1:50 only to discover that I'd completely forgotten today's second conference call, an all-department meeting irregularly scheduled for every other Thursday. I think I've actually remembered that call twice since I've been here. From what I hear, Vela (my boss's boss) was roaming around the office searching for me. So embarrassing.

I particularly wanted to listen to NPR at 2:00 today. On their "World" program, they were doing a special on 1948, interviewing people about the establishment of Israel and covering both sides. (Few stories told in the UsofA include anything about the local population callously displaced by the high-handed establishment of a "Jewish state" on occupied land.) I remembered to bring my walkman, and the conference call, fortunately, ended a bit early at 2:15. But you know what?

NPR's signal isn't strong enough for my walkman to pick it up at my desk. (Yes, I know, I can stream it from the website when I get home this evening, but I had other plans for this evening. I wonder if you can capture a streaming audio file for later playback?)

I haven't lost an ounce but I'm still cranky from being on a diet. Mostly because I didn't have any breakfast today. I didn't see myself making it through the day on my 200-calorie lunch, which is why I had to go home at lunchtime.

I need food and I want junk food. I feel no enthusiasm for tonight's dinner of 4 oz of roasted turkey breast and 1/2 cup of mixed broccoli-cauliflower.

I want nuts. Crackers. Onion rings. Chips and cheese and salsa. French fries and French onion soup. Guacamole with a side of sliced avocado. Baked potatoes loaded with sour cream, chives, and butter. Bruscetta and garlic breadsticks. Corn on the cob, dripping with butter. Spaghetti and meatballs in a garlic red sauce. Cheeseburgers with grilled onions. Artichokes, with each little leaf-spoon glistening with butter. Biscuits and sausage gravy. Nachos, loaded. Chip and dip. Hashed browns. Bacon.

Sigh. You know the diet is working when you start having food hallucinations.

In less-caloric news, today's rainstorm is moving out, leaving the cars in our parking lot thickly sprinkled with pink flower petals from the flowering trees.

And this year's Gardening Experiment is already starting to produce results. The R.C. and I each planted some seeds on Sunday and we already have little sprouts!


* Don't wig out. I'm not starving myself. It's a pity-party, so I'm not mentioning the carefully measured snacks I have at intervals through the day.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:52 PM | Comments (3)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Rainy Wednesday

After being threatened with rain every day this week, and enjoying days of balmy 75 degree sunshine, precipitation finally materialized yesterday evening. Today it's gray, cooler, and rainy. I don't mind. We have a serious need for moisture.

That little bunny I saw huddled under a bush, looking drenched and depressed, might not agree. It's his own fault. If he'd moved two feet to the left, he'd have been under a perfectly good tree with needles thick enough to keep it completely dry underneath. If he'd moved two feet to the right, he'd have been inside the edge of the parking garage, shielded from both rain and wind. But he just sat there, looking pathetic. Rabbits are so stupid.

Gidget and TeamChaos are in a tizzy today. Someone discovered that a competitor is running Webstrainer ads with our name in the title--so when you search for our company, their ad comes up, looking like they're an affiliate of ours. People are sending out emails right and left, demanding that this practice cease and desist. (I'm having a little difficulty explaining to TeamChaos the difference between using someone else's trademarked name in the title of an ad and using it in your search keywords. There's a subtle, but legal, difference.)

And now, Gidget is in with Vela and Jason, presenting the Next Level Plan. I'm on a few tenterhooks and won't know how it went for at least an hour.

OpieGirl is having her interview today or tomorrow (Gidget wasn't sure), so I'm rooting for her and sending positive vibes her way as well.

I have so many fingers crossed today that it's hard to type.


I've reviewed so many of the Argonuts' accounts already this week that I can't touch any of them again until at least Friday and next week sometime would be better. I have 30 minutes worth of leads to enter into the monthly spreadsheet. I can fritter away an hour or so loading the Argonuts' campaigns up with new search words I thought up this morning.

Other than that, I'm pretty much at loose ends for work that needs to be done this week.

I have an analysis of the web traffic generated by search engines for each of the Argonuts' websites that I could stare at. I'm not sure what, if anything, there is to be learned, but if nothing else I might be able to produce some kind of chart or graph from the material--something with the sort of colored bars and lines that convinces the recipient that they've just received valuable information. I loathed chart-making back when I first started working on computers, but that was Lotus on DOS. Today's Excel makes charting fast and fun!

Which reminds me--prepare for a depressing moment--they're upgrading us to Office 2007 next week (which is not depressing) and there are "training classes" to explain to all of us mouth-breathers what the differences are and to reassure us that we'll survive the transition (which is). If I have to sit through a class on how to use Word or Excel with a bunch of clueless novices? There may be bloodshed.

I sent Bert an email, declining to participate. We'll see what happens.

I'm working hard today to find things to actually say today. I hope you're noticing, because maybe bunnies and boredom aren't riveting reading (serenity can be blah for the spectator), but I do think effort should be acknowledged.

Oh! But! I almost forgot to tell you! (I'm! So excited! And exclamatory!)

I got an email from Her this morning. She found herself a new job! (She can call it "getting into the health and healing industry" if she wants, but a receptionist is a receptionist and a spa is hardly "health care" to anyone outside of Boulder or Berkeley.) Bernie is going to have to move fast to interview and hire someone--she's giving him a strict two-week notice.

And did I mention before that he was talking to her about closing up the office (to save money) and moving it to the basement of his house? I wonder if that's still his plan? I mean, he actually landed a couple of decent-sized jobs late last year. Unless he went completely mental and bid each of them for $10/hour or something, the company should be doing well financially.

Gossip, gossip, gossip. I can't wait to find out--I should call Her or maybe Buehler and see what the news is.

I'm seeing friends this weekend, but from the fandom side of life, not the mundane side. I'm sure there will be gossip and goodies, but I don't anticipate drama.

I think I'll experiment with my writing style. For the next few entries, I should compose all of my text for dialogue--vocabulary and sentence structure to be spoken instead of read.

I don't know why. Maybe just a passing urge to use this blogging time in a more productive way?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:21 AM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Color Me Stupid

And also Bert, our IT guy. When the internets went down, he sent out an email to tell everyone about it.

The mind just boggles sometimes.

I was trying to get some Real Work done. I came in today to find a series of storm signals (I call them that because they're copied to the Argonut whose campaign is affected and inevitably result in a series of panicked phone calls and emails), showing that I'd made some small but significant errors in about 30 ads. Wincing. I got them all cleared up and am now waiting hostility from the six people who are going to want to know why I'm so stupid.

But no internet access, so no emails! Hooray!

At the moment, I'm working on my Everything You Need To Know About Your Internet Marketing Campaign presentation. Fortunately for me I'd already done the screen captures a week or so ago. Now all I need is pithy but informative text to go with each graphic. Then I'll turn it all into a PowerPoint (does a company exist in the USofA that does not use PowerPoint, however inappropriately, for each and every presentation it does?) and send it off to Gidget for demolition.

Oops. Internet is back! Better go work....

Posted by AnneZook at 12:37 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, May 5, 2008
The Monday Thing

If you go here and search for "Chile" in the search box on the right, you can get to a video of the Chile eruption. I've been wondering if this is connected to 2007's earthquake. (I mean, something must have triggered an eruption from a volcano that's been dormant for millennia.) I think there's audio, but I don't have a sound card in my computer here at the office.

There are a lot of cool videos on the National Geographic site. (I don't know why I have a thing for volcanoes. I just do. And floods. And tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. Natural disasters have a weird fascination for me.)

No disasters, natural or otherwise, these parts at the moment. Gidget is still scheduled to present the NLP to Jason on Wednesday. In the meantime, her boss, Vela, has requested a budget and a list of the things that we want done in May, so she can start implementing them. (I guess her mind is already made up.)

And our communications person quit, leaving a position open that's right up OpieGirl's alley, so Gidget's having her send a resume in to Vela. Vela's already interviewing a couple of other people, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for OpieGirl. She really wants to get out of her current crazy employment situation.

The weekend was gorgeous. Weather was threatened but didn't really materialize. I didn't really do anything, but on the plus side, I spent very little money! headscratch I remember eating lunch on Saturday and stopping by Target for a few necessities, but other than that, I'm drawing a blank. I walked over to Whole Foods and didn't buy anything. I did three loads of laundry and cleaned the bathroom. I gave myself a facial and a pedicure.

What happened to the other 42 hours of the weekend is anyone's guess.

I suspect that having spent an inordinate number of hours playing Phantom Hourglass on the Nintendo DS has a lot to do with my Lost Weekend. I haven't found a new game I enjoy as much as I'm enjoying this one in a long time--years, maybe--so thank you to the R.C. who purchased and recommended this one.

I got my latest box full of indulgences on Friday, but I'm in the middle of a series at the moment and haven't stopped to read any of the new ones yet. (I did pause to gloat over the luxury of new books several times during the weekend.)

Workwise, my Original Job Responsibilities are all under control. My Add-on Job Responsibilities are humming along smoothly.

This is all fortunate since, last Thursday, I was handed a whole pile of Brand-new Job Responsibilities that have nothing to do with my current job, current job title, or current list of skills. Sigh.

It's because the communications person is leaving. Management realized (in a panic) last week that they have no one here who can produce the monthly Argonut-targeted newsletter or the sporadic client-targeted bulk emails. Somehow, my name always seems to come up in these situations.

They don't want me to write these things, of course. No, they just want me to learn the software so I can generate them. Here I am, brain the size of a planet full of nothing but opinions and they're giving me a pain in my diodes nothing more interesting than shoving someone else's stilted prose into a pre-fab newsletter template.

I am going to have primary responsibility for the company blog when it's up and running but, again, they want someone to handle the software and keep the sp*mm*rs at bay. Only the Serious Employees with lame stories about packing and shipping weird items will be allowed to write posts.

Seriously, I probably wouldn't let me write my newsletter either. Or my blog. Doesn't mean I'm not going to hold a grudge about it, though.


Posted by AnneZook at 01:37 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 1, 2008
Rumbling and Grumbling

Yesterday? Sunny and a balmy 82 degrees.

Today? Snow and 45 degrees.

Spring in Colorado is manic depressive.

I've been on the diet for three days. I'm starving of the hunger and haven't lost an ounce yet. So typical.

Last Thursday, I spent two hours doing really arduous work--a smattering of web reading and then writing a two-page description of what a blog is, how you do it, and why it's a good idea to have a company one. (And a few of the pitfalls.)

Friday was twice as arduous. Five hours spent researching and writing a five-page document on why we should redesign our website, what new features we should have, and a mockup of a new home page with a new design, describing colors, layout, and functionality. (They won't use it, and they shouldn't. I'm anything but a designer.)

The point is, I got paid for roaming around online, reading bits and pieces of interesting things, and then creating a document repeating and condensing the ideas.

Some days, this job really doesn't suck.

This week, we're bearing down on the deadline for the Next Level Plan, and it's all not quite so much fun, but it's still pretty cool.

Gidget's working from home today, finishing up the last bits and pieces of the NLP.

I think she's getting pretty tired. She's passing out compliments. First, she mentioned that Penelope thinks I'm a "great writer." (From the draft of a marketing plan? How easy is she to impress, anyhow?)

Then she said that it looked like we were going to be sailing with the Argonuts for a while and that she "loves" working with me. That's so sweet!

I mean, considering that I never got the "new-hire evaluation" there was so much talk about. But feedback is feedback, right? And, all sarcasm aside, it's very nice to have people say positive things about you.

And now I've been writing this entry for 20 minutes and I'm getting twitchy. Because I'm also a little wiggy about blogging or blog-reading from the office. I suspect they're using a keystroke capture program of some kind.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:50 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, April 18, 2008
And now we have Friday

For almost the first time since I started working 2 months ago? TGIF.

There's the possibility that the weekend will be full of fun and frolic. There's an antique show that the R.C. and I might go to tomorrow. Only $10 admission to spend hours coveting beautiful things we can't afford and would have no place to put if we could!

One of these days--not this weekend, but one of these days--I really want to go see the Inspiring Impressionism exhibit at the art museum. I'm a big fan of the Impressionists, so I think I'd really enjoy this show.

Not this weekend, though, not Sunday, because Sunday is my day of sloth (sometimes with a dab of housekeeping and this weekend with major amounts of laundry if I don't get started on it tonight), Then I have to allow for the usual time wasted spent doing free-lance work. For Buehler this time, printing some more labels.*

Closer to home, I'm happy to report that Gidget is back to her old self today. We're putting together, as she described it, a "world-class" marketing plan.

And yet, as I'm coming to understand is standard around here, one of the franchisees, the Argonuts, someone who--wait for it--had a great local internet marketing campaign and who decided he didn't like the people who managed it and so he cancelled it? Is complaining about how he doesn't have a good local internet marketing campaign because Gidget doesn't have "a plan" or something. Also, he's going to run his own local campaign, so there.

Also, he's mad because we won't spend 8 hours making him a report benchmarking his location against those of the other Argonuts. As if a thousand dollar a month location in San Francisco could be meaningfully compared to a $200 location in Kansas. Or as if a campaign that's been running for three years can sensibly be compared to a location that's only been open for a month.

Another Argonut is bitching about--well, I'm not sure what his problem is. He manages his own campaign because he's a control freak--so success or failure is all on his own head. And yet, he's calling two or three times a week to complain. (Now that I think about that, maybe I'll ask Gidget exactly what his problem is.)

So, you know, no matter how sock off-knocking the plan she comes up with is? There will be complaints.

Mostly I'm hoping we can just hang in there until May. May starts the busy season and with a little luck, these guys will find other things to do with their time.

Also, Vela told her that there's no real question of Jason firing her. He's just tired of hearing the Argonuts bitching all the time. (He could solve that by either not answering his phone, or by going to the five people responsible for daily management of the Nuts' problems and asking them whyinthehell they're not doing their jobs.)


* So maybe 15 minutes, but still.

I cherish my weekends. After 10 months of, yes, worrying about getting a job but more importantly, having 24 hours a day to do whatever I wanted, I'm finding it very difficult to get to everything in only two days a week. It's not yet late enough in the year for my brain to accept that "after work" is yet still early enough in the day to go out and accomplish anything.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Should have kept my mouth shut

Aacckk! And, let me add, aarrgghh!

No, it's not Talk Like A Pirate Day. My peaceful world just erupted into drama and trauma. Seems that yesterday's complacency jinxed my little world.

Gidget was scheduled for a 7:30a.m. meeting today. She came out of it about 10 minutes ago. In tears.

I've known Gidget for 10 years. I've known her aggravated and even angry, but I also know that 90% of the time she's upbeat, optimistic, and bubbly. We've worked with and for some seriously difficult people but I've never known any of them to get her down.

Seems that Jason, lead Pot Stirrer of our ChaosManagement team, has given her two weeks to present him with a plan that shows she's able to take our internet marketing "to the next level."

I'm not really sure what that means. Because this group sold off about 50% of their locations last year, they have, obviously, 50% fewer locations available now to bring in business.* In spite of that (and the recession) internet leads are up 7% - 9% from this time last year. In any sane company, this kind of increased lead generation (in such an unstable market) would be cause for praise.

I didn't try to probe for a ton of details, of course, but she said that Jason isn't unhappy with the business leads being generated (well, how could he be?) but he's not sure she's the person to take things "to the next level."**

Anyhow. Long story short sort of thing, naturally I told her I wasn't going to stay if they canned her. She thinks I should, because I need the job (and she doesn't?). At least until her current free-lance company decides if they're going to move ahead with their big expansion plans.

A huge chunk of my brain just keeps saying, "the problem isn't in the internet marketing department--it's in the management team, and no changes they make to my corner of the building are going to fix their problems."


* To illustrate in simple, round numbers:

Say the Argonuts had 120 locations last year. They sold 50, but Jason promised the Board of Directors that his "business development" team was going to bring on 35 new ones to replace the lost income.

They brought on 3.

The BoD is now, as you might anticipate, less than pleased with Jason.

Now consider that Gidget has been telling them since May of 2007 that she could not handle all the marketing needs of the company. She wanted them to hire her some help, someone to do the daily work, leaving her free for the strategic work. Instead, Jason and the ChaosManagement team decided to outsource work. They hired the Doodledorks, whose sales presentation must have been very impressive, and handed over the 50 biggest producing locations to them, to be managed by their automated software marketing management or whateverthehelltheycalledit program.

This was an abject failure--it cost a lot of money, never produced what it was promised it would produce, and annoyed the various location franchisees--which led to my hiring in February of this year. At this time, only 7 of the original locations are still with Doodledorks, with three threatening to jump ship at the end of this month. They and even the locations who left Doodledorks three or four months ago cannot stop bitching and complaining about what a bad decision it was.

So, not only is Jason under fire from the top for not producing what he promised, but a collective decision of the management team was a complete failure. He keeps hearing about it from various locations --while he's conveniently forgotten his own contribution to the decision. He frequently mentions that the "marketing department's decision" to hire Doodledorks was a major misstep.

Now that I've boiled it down for you, I can see it more clearly myself. She's been chosen to take the fall for all of the management team's mistakes last year.


** My mind keeps fixating on that. What does it mean?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

Friday, April 11, 2008
The Journey Begins

Things are much the same on the New Job front here at Argos.

Maybe it's time to fill you in on some of the cast of characters?

Our CEO, Jason, is about 20 years younger than you'd expect someone in that job to be and my personal opinion is that he's out of his depth. He's alternately quiet and withdrawn--not really a "people person"--and (from what I'm told) explosive in management meetings. How he made CEO of a company is anyone's guess.

There's a Shadow Board somewhere in the background. I'm not sure if they're impossible to please, or just disappointed that last year's incredibly optimistic expansion forecasts were missed by 60%.

This combination produces a level of chaos in the management team, we'll refer to them as the Puppis from now on, that has the company paddling in six directions at once.

Priorities shift constantly, last week's emergency gets lost in today's crisis, deadlines tend to fall on you in armloads, instead of being staggered to spread the workload, and quick fixes are the name of the day, never time to solve problems for the long-term because you're always so far behind that you have to grab whatever temporary solution can be completed most quickly, etc.

Gidget's boss Vela is, like the rest of TeamChaos, young and well-intentioned, but presumably lacking experience in more stable corporate culture that would help her put a stop to the madness.

I don't think any of the ChaosManagers have the experience they should have, nor do any of them seem to understand that the job of management is to manage things. They're all so busy having meetings and making "strategic decisions" that none of them ever gets any work done.

And each "management decision" inevitably gets lost in a riptide of proposed changes, so that no one knows from one week to the next precisely what our priorities actually are. I haven't met anyone who is focusing on the day-to-day operations with the kind of attention needed to make sure implementation is being carried through either well or completely.

Everyone's plotting the course, but no one's actually sailing the boat.

The rest of the Argonuts are still pretty much of a blur to me. I might have figured out the names of two or three people, but that's about it. (No, I'm not a "people person" either, but I'm smart enough not to spend my time in jobs that require that particular skill.) A few faces are starting to come clear in the fog, but none of them very quickly.

What about on the Old Job Front?

Well, She called today. They're having yet another emergency. She somehow managed to crash their new survey software, so they're back to using the old program, the one She never bothered to learn to use. Naturally, She won't be able to do the job they have due on Monday, and She wanted to know if I could give them some time this weekend to do it.

Never burn bridges. I keep repeating that to myself, over and over. I was reciting it like a mantra when I heard myself telling Her that yes, I'd take the time this weekend to do their coding for them. Sigh.

Still. Extra money is extra money, right?

I heard from Buehler today also. His work not only pays better, it's a lot easier, so I was happy to say yes when he asked if I could do some stuff for him.

/End Old Job Front

Sadly, I heard from DiamondGirl that her SO is very ill. I'm thinking of her frequently and sending good wishes.

Not a lot of plans for the weekend, aside from the aforementioned free-lance work.

It's supposed to be gorgeous on Sunday. I'd like to think of something spectacular to do, but at the moment my brain is empty.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
By Dose Ids Wed

Wouldn't you know it? I start a new job in a new office full of new people--and get all-new germs in the bargain!


A head cold. How pathetic.

But I'm not letting that spoil my fun, nossir. I'm still enjoying having a job, and still enjoying having this job in particular. As usual, I'm already taking a look at the work with an eye to how it can all be made easier. (Making a big fuss and looking overwhelmed might be better job security but I'm really too lazy to actually work hard.)

For instance, there's this process--loading a new account. I did one last week and it took a solid eight hours of work. Ridiculous.

I talked to Webnetters, who own the software, got a software program I could use to work offline (always faster than updating online) along with a user manual (except that Real Men don't use manuals), dinked around with one-by-one updates for three days, then went back in to the source file data I was given when I started working here and reformatted it all to allow for mass importing.

Yesterday I loaded a new account in an hour. Today I messed around with the program and my files a little more and I just finished loading another new account--in fifteen minutes.

Waits politely for the applause to die down....

It's a good thing I streamlined the process--Gidget told me a little while ago that I'll have 5 new accounts to load in the next few days.

Mind you, this is all still the basic "work" of the job. I haven't gotten to the "strategic thinking" level because it was assumed that I had a rough 60 days in front of me, cleaning up the existing accounts, before I'd be ready to do anything else. (I'm thinking I might be ready a b it sooner than that.)

So, what else is new, I hear you asking.

Well, Monday evening I went out to my car after work only to discover that I'd left my headlights on that morning. 6 phone calls (four to find someone willing to come and give me a jumpstart, one to my hairdresser rescheduling my now-impossible appointment, and one to the R.C. just to complain about how I'm an idiot), 40 minutes, and $50 later, I crawled into my little comfy chair in my little apartment and swore never to leave again.

Tonight there's supposed to be a lunar eclipse. If the sky is clear, I'm going to go look at it. The sky isn't supposed to be clear, though.

Whaddya want from me? I've been working. I haven't had time to go out and do anything fun or interesting. If it didn't take five minutes for this program to upload my changes, I wouldn't be blogging at work anyhow.

It's not that I don't want to chat with you. I just--I hab a code id by dose and it makes it hard to think.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:41 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, February 8, 2008
The Eddicating Goes On

Today I have learnt how to do reports. (You click on the tab that says, "Reports" and choose the things you want to include from the list provided.) Me big smart!

Then I combined a couple of spreadsheets that each listed a few hundred lines of competing suggestions, making them into a single list with recommendations for which ideas to adopt. Although this was not a difficult task, it garnered me an extraordinary number of brownie points.

(I'm still not a fan of Vista, but I'm honest enough to admit that when I realized that I could de-dupe a spreadsheet with two clicks of the mouse, I was just a teensy bit impressed.) (I still miss my customizable menu bar.)

I also taught Gidget the wonders of "search and replace" in Excel. I tried to be polite, but I can't bear watching someone work laboriously through some mechanical task. This, also, garnered me an inordinate number of brownie points.

For the past couple of days, I've been working on three of the first 20 accounts they have ready for me. Today, before she left for the day, Gidget handed over the other 17 accounts. A testament to how well I'm doing, I guess.

My job will require me to spend about 60% of my time on this basic process, so it's good to be getting familiar with it. Another 30% of my time will be spent on the "strategic thinking which is the "intermediate process." Gidget is going to teach me that on Monday--in between meetings. My remaining time will be divided between the "advanced" process (monthly reports), occasional email updates to people in the field, occasional calls from other people in the field and, yes, meetings.


Meetings have always been a thing I prefer to do without. I always say I can either spend my time talking about what needs to be done, or doing what needs to be done, but I don't have time for both. In my desire to turn over a new leaf, I'm going to try to adopt the attitude that it all pays the same, whether I'm doing anything productive or not.

Gidget scoffed at the idea of a 4-hour orientation session, though, and only scheduled me for 2 hours. She says she never went through any orientation and it hasn't slowed her down in the last three years. That's my kind of supervisor!

Actually, I was having so much fun today I forgot to watch the clock for quitting time! That's saying something, on a Friday afternoon.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 7, 2008
It's a JOB!

Yes, I'm still very excited. Not only is there the promise of Income in my future, the daily process of just having a job is proving to be interesting. Working is so educational!

The main thing I have learned so far?

Windows Vista. Sucks.

Or maybe it's just Word & Excel 97, I can't be certain because this computer has all of them and I haven't worked with any of them before.

But I'm assuming it's Vista. Which sucks. To a degree that's really just inexcusable, unless we assume that Microsoft, tired of everyone dissing them after they made using a computer easy for even the most clueless Luddite, decided to get their revenge.

In place of the simple, user-friendly menu bar, they've created a "ribbon." Which means nothing except that they renamed everything, moved it all around, and then hid it all behind rollover code. The only time-efficient way to find anything is to use the "help" function constantly--but watch out. When it tells you where to look for a function, it doesn't always use the same keywords that the menu items use.

If you're more generous than me, feel free to decide that Microsoft thought we'd all enjoy a treasure hunt through a new and impenetrable menu system.

I spent 10 minutes today cursing and searching every place I could find for a way to "strikeover" text in Excel. Three times, in fact, because even once I found it, it was so counterintuitive that I instantly forgot it.

And then there's Internet Explorer. Again, not my computer, it's a loaner laptop, so it's hard to figure out what's an annoying or badly designed feature and what's just garbage that the laptop's owner has either installed deliberately or has never bothered to remove.

As I recall, once upon a time I downloaded the latest incarnation of Explorer and then uninstalled it 10 minutes later because it was such a mess. I'm not enjoying being forced to work with it again, even temporarily. Computerwise, I'm a minimalist. I slice my customizable menu bars down to the bare minimum I need to do 90% of my normal tasks. I turn off every screen-hogging program I can turn off. My IE is set to open to a blank page when I start it up. When it comes to computers, I'm all about decluttering.

Using this laptop (although it's an expensive beast, I can tell) is driving me bonkers.

On the plus side, they came and set up my "new" PC today--the relic of some departed employee. I don't care that it's not "new" though. They tell me it has XP on it, and that's enough to make me happy. (I'd almost forgotten that monitors that aren't flat-screen were still in use. I spent some time staring at the stegosaurus-sized doorstop today, before I realized I should get back to work.)

Sadly, I turned back to the laptop. Because, you see, I'm not allowed to use the PC. I don't know what kind of pitfalls and perils await me, but I was told I'd have to attend two four-hour training sessions next week, and I'm not allowed to use "my" computer until I've finished the first one. Promises to be exciting, no?

I mean, how can someone need four hours of training and orientation before they're allowed to turn their computer on? But she told me it's SOP, so I'll have to put up with it. My one hope is that since (as far as I know) I'm the only one in the "training session" we'll be able to move faster than she anticipates.

The people are uniformly pleasant, even friendly. I haven't figured out anyone's name, except the one guy who helped me with my HR paperwork. It doesn't help that the office was full of visitors today and will be full of another set tomorrow.

Still. My job consists 90% of sitting at my own computer working on the franchises' ad programs, so there's no rush for me to learn anything but the software I need.

Don't let the whining fool you--I'm having fun.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:54 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Formal offer of employment extended and accepted!

Posted by AnneZook at 04:25 PM | Comments (10)