Thursday, March 22, 2007

Countdown! 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2

I went to bed earlier, slept longer, ran into less traffic on the commute, and--she's still driving me bonkers today.

We have a survey job She needs to code into two different software programs today and tomorrow. She was looking through the manual and practicing on old surveys and I told Her that was, yes, the best way to figure it all out. And Bernie told Her that he'd have the "live" survey to Her in 30 minutes.

What did She do? Stopped and spent 20 minutes wiping down tables, stacking things on the floor, and generally moving stuff around because She has an idea that She'd like the server machines in a different location next week.

Sigh. She interrupts when we're talking to Her, so determined to contribute to the conversation that you can tell She's been scouring Her brain for something to say instead of listening.


I talked to Bernie about Her. I warned him that I think She'll be able to learn the work (but not to expect too much too fast--remember, it took me three months to get comfortable in the job) but that he was going to have to watch for Her living Her personal life on company time.

The person who works my job is on their own a lot of the time. Even now that we're in Boulder, Bernie doesn't seem to feel obligated to be in the office five days a week or eight hours a day. He really needs someone who can be trusted to keep getting the work done when he's not watching them.

He's gonna miss me when I'm gone.

So tired....

Posted by AnneZook at 09:32 PM | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Countdown! 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3

Okay, if She works out around Here, I'll be a bit surprised.

Not that She'd agree. No, after a whopping 7 hours of training, spread over two days, She feels She's got a good handle on everything.

She must feel that way, otherwise why would She have made or taken five personal calls today, most of them while I was in the middle of a sentence trying to teach her about something?

Otherwise, why, when I was trying to tell Her something that I assured Her was going to be personally important to Her, did She decide that making a call to a friend to see if She'd accepted a new position, was more important? If you don't send Bernie your timesheet every other Wednesday, you will not get paid every other Friday. She felt that not only Her phone call, but a discussion about how small the calendar was displaying on the monitor were more important than understanding how the payroll & timesheet process work. Her (paycheck) loss.

Maybe it's just me? I know my work style doesn't match everyone's. Many people enjoy spending a significant percentage of their work days exchanging personal anecdotes and family stories. I've never been one of those people.

Also, I was assuming that with a maximum of 20 hours for training ahead of us, we'd both prefer to focus on the training and not bother to play Getting To Know You since we won't be meeting again after this week, but She shows a marked tendency to drift toward personal chit-chat in preference to doing actual work. At the drop of a hint, She's wandering off into stories about Her spouse's shoulder surgery or Her horses or Her part-time job or anything but what She's ostensibly being paid to think about, which is learning this job.

Without in any way meaning to disparage the pets/children/spouses of those of you who possess those accoutrements, I must say that my interest in the p/c/s of near-strangers is non-existent. I am not making this 80-mile round-trip journey every day to listen to Her chat about Her hobbies or hubby.

Today did contain one little giggle, though.

When Bernie called to discuss a couple of database issues, She took Her lunch and went to the other room. Later She explained that She didn't need to be in on those discussions. Bernie has assured Her that She doesn't need to worry about the databases since they won't be an issue after this week. I disabused Her of that notion promptly.

She--did not look pleased.

I--do not care. You can't just take the parts of a job you think will be easy or uncomplicated. Also, what kind of fool thinks they don't have to be involved in something important enough to have been allocated three training sessions in three days?

At that point, I made a point of mentioning to her that Bernie had complained about a bad phone connection and that he was going to call me back. It's anybody's guess as to why she felt that was the appropriate moment for her to tie up the phone setting up an address book, choosing a new ring, and exploring the other features. If he did try to call me back, I probably won't know about it until tomorrow.

Sigh. After I arrived this morning, it took me forever to stop Her chatting with Bernie and filling out insurance paperwork and fussing over how the fax was set and wondering why the printer made so much noise when printing and a dozen other minor nothings she kept bringing up.

I know She has to be tired of "being trained." She's not half as tired of it as I am of listening to myself repeat all of this stuff to Her, but I'd hoped She was smart enough to stay with it, understanding that no employer pays someone to spend a week training you if they don't think you're going to need trained.

In the end (thanks in no small part to Bernie feeling needy today) I'd be surprised to learn that we spent as much as an hour training.

The one thing I most wanted to do, an introduction call with Her to our largest client, got lost in the shuffle, which is going to offend the client who was waiting for our call and cause Her problems when she starts working with them later.

Okay, honestly, I think it got lost in the rising tide of my indignation. About the third time I was in the middle of explaining something and I looked up to see her dialing a call or walking out of the room with her phone pressed to her ear.... Well, I'll admit, I spent a fair amount of the day wondering whyinthehell I had bothered to show up today.

Two more days.... Two more days....

Posted by AnneZook at 02:54 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Countdown! 10...9...8...7...6...5...4

Whoosh. Training someone for hours a day takes it out of you.

I thought I had a plan and I was organized and ready for this but the reality is never as clean as you hoped it would be. (Also, a training plan has to change depending upon the skills and abilities of the person you hire....)

She's doing reasonably well so far. I've thrown a lot of information at Her in the last couple of days and She's struggling, but so far, so good.

She's got a sort of ADD thing going. In the middle of a sentence, She'll interrupt me to ask what some half-erased word on the white board is. I assume these are the moments when Her brain starts to overload. I'm sorry, but I can't really schedule long or frequent breaks for someone training only 3 or 4 hours a day. We're already breaking for 30 minutes for lunch (promptly at 12:00) every day.

She's borderline hypoglycemic so She can't have lunch late. Which is fine, we all have issues. And She needs a snack, mid-morning, which is also cool except for the weirdness of looking over at someone and seeing them going down on a large-salted pretzel stick. (But I tell myself I have a perverse imagination and from Her perspective, She's just snacking.) And, as She mentioned today, She has some kind of foot or bone or something ailment (I wasn't really listening) that's going to make it very difficult for Her to work the Conferences, which require being able and willing to haul ass around a huge conference hall, almost nonstop for ten or twelve hours.

In short, when She said She was physically able to do this job, I'm not sure She understood what the job was, but four (3-1/2!) more days and it's not my problem. She was the only one willing to take the job.

It's 1:30 now. I'm assuming She will need to be leaving in the next half-hour since She's working out her notice at Her part-time job.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Countdown! 10...9...8...7...6...5

I'm determined to have a better 'tude this week. Today, I managed pretty well.

My back is tired again. My own fault. Bernie warned me that that white board was too heavy for me to lift and hold while he drilled it to the wall, but from my perspective, it wasn't that much heavier than the network back-up batter thingy he wanted to prop under it. Sigh. He was right and I was wrong.

Anyhow. 3-1/2 hours today training Her, the shortest day we have scheduled for this week. She seems to be picking things up well, which is good. We did software today--all of those proprietary software programs the company uses, the online UPS account, the bookkeeping software (which She already knows, thank goodness), the mapping software, etc.

Tomorrow, clients. At 9:30 again, but it was my idea. It wasn't that hard to get there by 9:30 today (for some weird reason traffic was abnormally light) and it occurred to me that the more hours I actually put in this week, the fewer I'll "owe" Bernie after my last day.

Also I have a sekrit fantasy that I get Her up to speed by Friday and I don't have to go in. At this point, I'd trade that last day's pay for an early parole.

In addition, today's joys included office tidying (the aforementioned whiteboard installation, re-storing the things Bernie tidied away and moved on Saturday since he put things where he found a space to hold them and not in any rational order) and sneaking around trying to get in touch with the clients who owe us checks. Bernie doesn't want Her to know anything about the problem we've been having. (Because, you know, late payments will never happen again, so She doesn't need to know what our policy is or who to contact. Sheesh.)

He has a belief that it's necessary to hide from Her that our main client is behind on payments. Since the clients sent the checks but the stupid post office isn't forwarding our mail, I don't see why this has to be a Dark Secret, but whatever.

He asked me twice today what my training schedule was going to be. I consider it a triumph that I didn't answer, not once, "Precisely what I said it was going to be in the detailed email I sent you on Friday."

He's also trying to get me to do a lot of other tasks this week, when She isn't around. Call me crazy, but I think it's the person who's going to be there next week who needs to know who the phone service is through, what the property manager's address is, how the phone/fax combination is supposed to be set up, etc. Part of what she is going to have to do is nursemaid Bernie* so the sooner she gets used to it the better. I'm working with her when she's in the office to get these things done. Bernie's twitchy about it but I don't really care. He'll be grateful in a month when he's not faced with her saying, "I don't know. Anne did that before I worked here." (Also? She's new and all gung-ho. Let her deal with the petty aggravations. I've done my time.)

I consider that 90% of my job this week is training Her. Aside from that, I have no objection to spending an hour doing other things if I determine they're not necessary for her to be involved in, but I keep firmly in mind that what's he's mostly doing is trying to "get his money's worth" out of me this week, and that's really not something I'm particularly interested in being involved in.

It's a mistake to blog at 10:30 at night. I'm too tired to be cheerful.... And our internet access is being weird. This worries me. We've had a cable modem for years and never had any problems before.


* Seriously. Nursemaiding. Today I had to refuse several times to place a call to the payroll company to make a change in our account for him. They don't talk to me. I am not on the list of "approved" people on the account. Only Bernie is on the account. I cannot make any changes. Only Bernie can make changes. He spent four times as long and four times as much energy coming out and trying to 'delegate' the call to me as it would have taken to just pick up the phone and call them. I had to tell him that three times before it sunk in.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:46 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, March 16, 2007


Today's daily update contains...nothing of importance. I was working from home, so Bernie had few opportunities to annoy me.

He did take advantage of two such opportunities, though.

(1) He called and demanded three or four things he knew I couldn't do unless I was at the office, and then got pissy when I pointed that fact out to him. Although he was in the office and none of these things were beyond his abilities, he chose to do none of them himself.

(2) And then we had a conference call with his new-hire (he had to hire the only woman who would take the job, although he didn't really think she was suitable. I told you this, right? That none of the well-qualified candidates he liked would take the job for the money he was offering.) In it, he announced that her time isn't really her own next week since she's doing part-time work, and he offered to her that I'd come in at 9:00 every day next week to train her.

10:00 to 4:00, you jackass. That's what you offered. That's what we agreed.

Five more work days. I wonder if I can make it?

Posted by AnneZook at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Countdown! 10...9...8...7

Well, drat.

I was supposed to meet a friend after work last night, but I completely forgot. I was so exhausted from fighting with the chaosmonster that I went home and just collapsed. Luckily for me, this morning said friend admitted that she'd blown me off as well. She sent me an IM yesterday, saying she wouldn't be there, but I didn't get it.

So, I'm back in Boulder today. Today was my first day of enjoying a Bad Weather Commute. What was a misty rain in Denver turned into rain, mixed with snow, in Boulder. Not much snow, fortunately.

The office looks marginally more like an office. At least half the network is up and running. I've sent Bernie emails about the things he still needs to do (without volunteering to do any of them myself) like upgrade our email account to allow for adding more names and notify all of the clients about our new phone number (we had to change it again yesterday) and fax number, hire a new database guy to replace Scooby, etc., etc., etc.

Sigh. I'm tired, I have a raging headache, and I didn't sleep well last night. I don't want to be here.

The R.C. said last night that when actually going to the office every day took an act of will, you've stayed too long. I've been at this point with jobs and bosses before, but never after just a year. I can't decide if my tolerance has just dropped dramatically in recent years (quite possible) or if Bernie really is that much more of a lunatic than previous employers? (Or maybe it's because it's just the two of it's lunacy undiluted.)

He's already called me twice today. He was headed for a meeting in Denver and called to see if I'd come into the office at 9:30, the way he told the network guy I would yesterday (in clear defiance of our 10-4 agreement) and once after to talk about our abortive attempt to get our mail forwarded (long story, but the tagline is, "not gonna happen") and how we're going to have to call everyone we actually want mail from and make sure they have our new mailing address.

#1 - I didn't arrive until 9:50. As I tried to explain to Bernie, leaving my own home at any time before 9:00 is just a waste because I lose so much time to traffic trying to get through downtown Denver. I can leave home at 9:15 and arrive at the office by 10:00. Today I left home at 8:30 and arrived at the office at 9:50. A complete waste of time and gas.

#2 - Tom Thumb, the network guy did not come scampering down here when I arrived and called him. As he suggested previously, he has a full-time job and can only do stuff for Bernie when he has a few minutes free. There is no point in Bernie being determined to make "appointments" for the guy to come and do Bernie's stuff. Tom Thumb isn't able to do that and he's not going to risk his full-time employment for the joys of doing an hour's worth of work a week for Bernie.

I'm doing bookkeeping at the moment. Reconciling payments received, generating invoices, sending emails to clients whose checks got lost in the Great Mail NonForwarding Debacle Of '07, trying to figure out who we should have received bills from and didn't, etc.

Since Bernie's in Denver this morning, there's been no drama yet.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:02 PM | Comments (4)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Countdown! 10...9...8...0?

11:52 a.m. Well, yet another commute to Boulder safely under my belt. One of those inexplicable highway slowdowns delayed me for 15 minutes this morning. You know the kind I mean--traffic slows and then stops and inches forward at a crawl and then starts moving freely again and no one can figure out what the cause was.

Arriving this morning I discovered two things:

(1) The last shelving unit that Bernie was supposed to bring in last Thursday so that we could finish unpacking boxes is not here. He's bitching about the boxes still sitting around but I don't know what he expects me to do about it.

(2) The network is not set up and the T1 is not hooked up. In spite of me telling him when we spoke at 11:20 yesterday to call the man and confirm he would be here at 1:00 yesterday, Bernie did not call him.

He was in a snit because he wanted me to call. I pointed out that he was the one in the office. I didn't have the number, which was written down on the pad next to my computer, and it was up to him to schedule when he wanted someone to come in. All of that just made him more irritated. I? Am not a secretary.

The idea of me calling Boulder to ask some guy when he was available and then hanging up to call Bernie and give him the time just so he could tell me that wasn't convenient and to make it 30 minutes later and then hanging up and calling the guy back and making it 30 minutes later only to have Bernie call me again five minutes after that and tell me to call the guy again and ask him to call Bernie and confirm when he was headed over? Does not amuse me.

Bernie eventually called the dispatcher at 1:00 and by the time she tracked the man down, he didn't show up until 4:30. Bernie seemed to want points because he was here until 7:30 last night but from where I sit, it's his company. If anyone should be here until 7:30, it's the guy who owns the place, makes the most money, and brags that it's fifteen minutes from where he lives.

I suspect he did what he always does--called five companies and then signed with the cheapest one. You get what you pay for.

(1:17 p.m. - Just overheard Bernie talking to the new network free-lancer. Bernie was actually here until 6:45 last night. Why does he lie about stupid things?)


So, we had another little trauma about paying me. He's still determined that he's not going to pay me full-time between now and the time I leave because from his perspective, I'm not working full-time and if I am working full-time, I'm not doing things he wants to pay me to do, so why should he pay me?

So he wants to not pay me for this Friday because he doesn't see I have work I can do from home and he wants to pay me hourly for the hours I'm actually in the office next week unless I agree to be here for five days from 8:30 - 5:00 each day, in which case he'll pay me full-time, and no more working from home because while he had to concede that the work I was doing needed to be done, it's not work he wanted to pay anyone to do.

And, oh, by the way, how about I schedule to come in for a full day on Saturday, two weeks after my last day, and do a follow-up training (because he's just sure that I care as much as he does about the future of this company?) and while we're discussing training why doesn't he hire two people and I can train them both next week and he'll just keep the one that works out best at the end of the week.

An hour later I put the finishing touches to an email that essentially said that since he felt it was unfair to have to keep paying someone who wasn't going to be working for him any more in the future, I was happy to help him take care of the problem by leaving. Today.

Then I hit send and went about my work, which included interviewing a potential replacement while Bernie ran some errands.

Sigh. The thing about being passive-aggressive is that it's difficult (at least for me) to stay aggressive, or mad. I'm really more passive-snippy-passive. By the time he got back to the office, I'd calmed down (having vented all of my anger into the email) and before he could read it, I told him I'd sent it.

Then we had a nice little conversation. Much was discussed, but the bottom line is that I will fulfill my commitment to work until 3/23 and he will pass no remarks about how sad it is that he has to actually pay me.

Also he apologized and admitted that his wife has been ragging on him for two months about what a jackass he's being at home and he knows he's been wrong. He also admitted that he's been taking all of his frustrations out on me because I'm the only person around. And he's sorry.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Countdown! 10...9

So. Nine days left (okay, 8-1/2)

Before I leave the computer to work with pen and paper here in a few minutes, an update!

Bernie's only wigged out a couple of times today.

First, at the news (which I swear I told him before, but maybe not) that our bulk email provider is worthless and that if he's signing up new clients with thousands of names on their newsletter lists and complicated needs in terms of feedback and forms, he needs to drop this "cheapest-thing-he-could-find" service and get a real, full-featured provider.

The other time was, as near as I could tell, just on general principles.

He called and asked me if Buehler was out of the country or something. Since I haven't worked for Buehler since 11/05, even though he still shared an office with us, I'm not privy to his schedule. This news did not make Bernie happy (although naturally I didn't say it that rudely) but he was made marginally less tense by the revelation that Buehler called me a couple of hours ago to get a password for a computer. It appears that Buehler isn't returning Bernie's calls any more.

Then Bernie wanted Sassy's personal contact information. I don't know how to contact Sassy, she who was once Buehler's assistant but who moved on to a new job last fall. Bernie was actually pretty rude about that and I'm all, what?

She lives in New York, okay? She worked remotely from New York after she left Denver a month after I signed on to this circle of insanity (with Alvin and the Chipmunk, remember?) four years ago. We weren't close personal friends or anything. Since he's in the office, with access to his saved personal email and all of the contact files, I don't understand why he doesn't just look for that information in the files.

I keep having fantasy mental arguments with him, ones where he crosses the line just enough to justify me walking about today and leaving him with this mess. It's a bit distracting.

I'm also having imaginary conversations with him where I tell him, item by item, why I'm really leaving. That it's not the commute to Boulder, it's him.

I won't really say any of these mean things to him because, (a) I never burn bridges that way, and, (b) my disagreement is with who he seems to be, based on how he acts towards me and how I perceive his actions towards the clients and it's purely my perception. The fact that I agree 90% with what his last two employees (Tweenybopper and DiamondGirl) complained about in him doesn't make me right. It's not really who he is. 80% of the time he has no idea of how his words and his behavior sound to other people and it's not my place, flawed as I am, to be handing out rules and regulations for other people's behavior.

I'm going to hang onto that knowledge for the next eight days. :)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:53 PM | Comments (1)

Monday, March 12, 2007
The End Looms Near

Bernie called. Not only does he want me to come up three days again this week, but he's afraid he's paying me to do "busywork" on those days I'm working from home.

He thinks that he might need me later, so he'd rather not pay me to do busywork now.

His idea? He should not have to pay me for the days I don't drive to Boulder this week but I should hold myself in readiness to work a couple of days after my last day and if I do, he will pay me then.

Isn't that nice? He's telling me he needs me too desperately to let me go, but that he doesn't feel I'm valuable enough that he should actually employ me.

"Busywork," for those of you wondering, is the stuff I do cleaning out the spam filter, rebooting the network servers in St. Louis, filing, trying to start and stop providers of various services as they go in and out of favor with him, getting the mail, answering the phones, cleaning the databases, answering questions from suppliers, etc. In other words, the stuff that has to be done to keep the place going but that he doesn't care about because he can't bill anyone for it.

So I told him no, I do not have flexibility on my end date and that no, I have decided that I am not available to do contract work for him after I leave.

You know what? There is no graceful way to say, "No, I will not keep working for you because I do not like you and I don't like you trying to get out of paying me today while you're telling me you want me to be available to you later when you feel you need me and you feel like paying me.

Also, he's in the middle of fighting with Scooby, the Database Boy about the hours Scooby is billing us for (far fewer than Scooby's spent on these projects, I'm sure) and I'm reminded of how last fall whenever DiamondGirl would submit a bill for the free-lance work she was doing for him, he'd call her and make her take hours off.

The R.C. was right. Two weeks was too much notice to give this guy, for my personal sanity. He needed two weeks because this month's invoicing hasn't been done and the new person will need trained on everything, but it was too much. I should never have agreed to stay on after the first of March.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:35 PM | Comments (4)

Oh, the pain!

I have not damaged my back but I certainly think I've worn it out in the last couple of weeks and yes, maybe I should have eased off of hauling things around but if I didn't set up the copier/fax machine and then fish out the printer and put it on the table where the network is supposedly going to be installed, then no one else would have done it and we'd never be able to print.

Hello. Boulder again.

Today, in theory, the internet and fax connections will be set up. I'm taking it on faith (a dangerous precedent) that the company Bernie arranged with to come and do whatever magic needed to be done to the phone lines in the building actually showed up and did it this morning. They assured me they didn't need access to the suite until 1:00, so I didn't try to get here at 7 a.m. for the set-up portion of the process.


Scooby the Database Boy is mad at me because of the huffy email I sent him on Friday. And also, one assumes, because of the huffy email Bernie sent him on Saturday. I wish, I honestly do wish I could figure out which one of them is crazier in this set-up, but I can't. I believe that Bernie believes in the numbers he has in his head and that he believes he's laid out his requirements clearly, in spite of the fact that I know that sometimes he believes imaginary things and only thinks he's saying what he means to say. I believe that Scooby believes he's worked hard, done a good job, and provided what we asked for, in spite of the fact that I've been told, more than once, that he was previously let go for incompetence.

The only thing I know is that what we need and what we got ain't the same thing.

No, I know one more thing. For some reason Scooby spent the weekend sending back to us the files we sent to him to create the Cago database. One presumes that Bernie told him to and I have a ghastly feeling that Bernie is going to want me to fill this week's slack time by going back and retracing our steps for the last four months to figure out whether or not the database we have is the database we should have. And I know that if he asks me to do that, I'll tell him that's my last day of employment.

When someone is paying you, they have a right to decide how you spend your time. However, when they want you to spend your time in ways you find ridiculous and/or menial, or cleaning up yet another of their messes, or doing things you're entirely unqualified to do, or some combination of those, you always have the option to pick up your hat and leave. The stuff I spend 70% of my time doing around matches neither my original job description nor my skill set.

Also, I realized on the drive up here today that having to drive to Boulder for a day of work is only 10% as stressful when I know that Bernie won't be in the office at this end. So, you know, it wasn't the commute that did me in. It was the crazy-factor.

Also, I had to top up my gas tank this morning. Hmph.

Sometimes I find myself wondering. Will you be glad when I'm working for a sane person, or will you find the blog boring?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:32 AM | Comments (5)

Friday, March 9, 2007

I Quit!

Well, I gave notice, anyhow.

Although I hate to do that to someone while they're traveling, I sent Bernie an email telling him this arrangement isn't working out, isn't leaving me any time or energy to search for a new job, and that he has my official two-weeks notice. My last day will be 3/23.

Am I crazy? Should I have tried harder to gather the energy to job-hunt in the evenings?

Should I have the conversation I so badly want to have with him about how a major factor in my decision to just leave is my frustration with his policy of ignoring the actual work that needs to be done around there, of bidding jobs based on how much he thinks clients will pay and not how long it will take us to do them, and of pililng more and more stuff on his one employee under the theory that anyone he's giving a paycheck to regularly should just shut up and be grateful?

Or should I take the High Road and assume that the company's eventual failure (guaranteed unless he changes how he does things) is not my problem?


Posted by AnneZook at 04:00 PM | Comments (3)

I've Got The Tired Going On

I think this is one of those seminal moments when you really understand that you're not a kid any more. This 80-mile round-trip commute to Boulder, even just three days a week, is wearing me out.

I'm working from home today but I was so exhausted that I actually rolled out of bed only five minutes before I was scheduled to start work. (Fortunately, "working from home" means getting the computers(s) and phone turned on by 8:30, so it's not a major issue.)

Yesterday's 9-hour day didn't amuse me, either. Bernie and I had a deal that he'd only expect six hours work on the days I drive to Boulder. It was purely my own generosity (and my disinclination to listen to him bitch about it all) that made me volunteer to work from home for two hours every morning, for a total of seven on commute days. But, having done that, I don't expect to be kept in the Boulder office for seven hours after I arrive.

Nor do I expect to be expected to spend three hours in hard, manual labor every day I'm in Boulder, but I knew that was part of moving, so I'm not really bitching about having had to do it. I'm just bitching about not being young enough to do hard, manual labor without consequences any more.

There are other drawbacks. I had to gas up my car Wednesday! I just gassed it up last week. I'm accustomed to gassing up my car every 16 days or so, not every week. On the news last night, they said the price of gas is going back up. It's already back over $3 in places.

And highway driving, especially coming back to Denver, driving westerly into the setting sun, is making replacing my windshield (especially after this week's drive, when two more rocks added their share of damage to the glass) an ever-more urgent matter, which is going to cost money. (I carry a $500 deductible, so these smaller repairs are my problem.)

Not to mention the fact that if I'm going to keep making this commute, I need to put the car into the shop and get a tune-up and have it checked over really thoroughly. I suspect that I need shocks, among other things. I don't know what those cost, but they sound expensive, you know?

I'm dancing on the edge of dishonesty since I haven't yet notified my insurance agent that the discount I get for driving less than 10 miles each way to work every day no longer applies. I think I'm going to have to tell him next week. I wonder how much my premium will increase?

To be honest, I'm not sure I can afford to let Bernie keep paying me until the end of the month.

Still. Be strong, Anne! So what if you only make enough to cover rent/bills and fix the car up? The car needs fixed up anyhow and at least you'll get the bills paid. You can go 30 days without any extra money. You'll have rent money, food money, utility/credit card money, and car insurance (one hopes--how much will it increase?) money. Many people would consider themselves wealthy with all of that. As long as the car doesn't cost more than $700 or so to fix up, you'll survive.

Quite easily, in fact, so stop whining.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:40 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Okay, so Bernie wanted to plug the breaking-things peripheral into my computer and I objected but then I let him but then it didn't work and then he said, "maybe you have to install the software to make it work" and I said, "did it come with software" and he said "yes" so I said "yes you have to install the software."

And I thought, "just how stupid is it possible to be, anyhow? But I didn't say it out loud.

Also he is mad because the computer diagnostic program doesn't seem to have worked any magic on his laptop and because I didn't see any error/diagnostic messages related to his problem.

Even though he gave me a pile of things to do today in his absence (in addition to actually creating an office out of this mess) calling me four times on his drive home to give me new things he'd thought of and didn't want to do himself, he seems annoyed that I didn't sit there and watch his computer for an hour to make sure--well, there's no telling what he thought I'd be able to do as I sat there watching a diagnostic I didn't understand try to make sense of a problem I wasn't clear about, but he clearly feels that had someone been sitting there watching the diagnostic program end and shut itself off, the results would have been different.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

I am Alone

I'm here. Bernie's here.

Bernie's leaving.

He seems to have shorted out the USB ports on his laptop. Also the cable he uses to connect to the internet. So he's going to go work from home. I can't believe I made an 80-mile round-trip drive to work with him today because he desperately needed us both to be in the office but now he's not going to be here.

All of which is fine because I have a lot to do and I could use the time, but he also just called the computer warranty support line again about his laptop and he's telling them he just got back to town this morning and that the laptop that I got repaired for him on Friday was not repaired properly.

In other words, he broke it yesterday and he's lying to get tech support because the thing he broke it with was a third-party peripheral.

Every time I start to weaken, to think maybe I could do this drive two or three times a week if necessary, he does something insane or immoral that reminds me of why I really, really, really don't want to.

Money and madness, that's what I need to remember. He won't pay the money the job is worth and he's a lunatic.

No, wait....

He's going to go get a different laptop and come back to work. But the internet cable is out, so what good with that do? No idea. But his idea is that he can use my desk and internet connection to work. When I pointed out that I need the internet to check my mail, he said, "what do you need mail for?"

I can't just stand up and leave now because he's crazy. Tomorrow is payday. I need to hold onto that thought.

He's been a lot crazier than this. Frequently. Why, today, is the sound of him sitting in there cursing the telephone help line and the computer and the carpet and everything else getting to me so badly? (Also, why is the sound of him lying to warranty support about his "secretary" handling the repair issue wrong pissing me off so badly? Is it being referred to as his "secretary" or the statement that I messed it up?)

I know he's sick. Being sick makes me cranky, too.

He says the reason he's sick is because of the stress around the move. I said, "we really haven't had it that bad" and he said, "I did. It's been a nightmare."

And I'm thinking--for you had it bad?

You looked at three places and signed a lease for the cheapest one. You made a trip to Verizon (two weeks after you told me it was "done" and we're still waiting on phone service today). You called an internet connection company four days after we'd already moved, and then wasted a lot of energy complaining because they couldn't hook everything up that day.

Yes, you also placed a Craigslist ad to hire some freelancers to come and do the actual moving, but let's both remember, you tried very hard to get me to let you pass all of the responses to me so that I'd have to actually call everyone and do the screening and hiring.

And, yes, let's be completely fair, you hauled ten carloads of stuff to your own house to store temporarily, but that was your decision and for another $100 you could have had the mover guys do all of that the day of the move.

I spent six weeks sorting, packing, throwing out (10 times I filled that dumpster), getting services stopped, getting phone numbers released for transfer, sending move notices to clients, notifying the post office of our change of address, and organizing and labeling about 20 boxes so that we'd be able to find things before the move was complete.

Once we got in to the new office, I helped move desks and filing cabinets, hauled boxes from one place to another, and rearranged everything three times while you measured what would fit where.

Now, while you've gone to "work from home" today, it's my responsibility to check your laptop every two minutes to make sure the diagnostic it's running keeps running, to get everything back into the filing cabinets, arrange the computers for the network guy (you rescheduled him for next week and I have not yet been able to get you to understand that yes, you need a network connection to print on network printers), call the internet/fax provider to actually get us service, and figure out what to do with the five boxes full of absolute trash you packratted into the moving truck while I wasn't looking.

(Four portable printers so old you can't buy printer cartridges for them any more, even if they worked, which they don't. Fifty hanging folders full of stuff from clients the parent company worked with in the mid-90s. A heavy-duty comb-binder and approximately 500 combs of assorted sizes for the four, twenty-page reports we comb-bind in a year. Two of those blasted rack servers that he swore he'd store at his own house until his good friend and ebay expert buddy got them sold. And entire box full of flyers for a product even the parent company gave up on trying to sell ten years ago.)

I'm at a loss about precisely how this was such a "nightmare" for you. I can only assume that it's because I spoke to you rudely a couple of times. Sorry about that.

On the plus side. Power tools! Bernie has a heavy-duty battery-operated screwdriver that I got to play with yesterday. :D I love power tools.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:27 PM | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Alone again. Naturally.

Here I am. In Boulder. Where's Bernie?

We were both supposed to be in this office today but I'm here and he isn't. And he hasn't sent an email or left me a voicemail or any of those things either, so I have no idea where he is.

We're supposed to move out of the temporary space and into our "real" office today. I can see he started moving stuff yesterday, but he didn't leave me a key to the new space, so I can't finish that up.

He wanted to have a big meeting about talking me into committing to stay until the end of the month, but I can't do that alone. Even if I were inclined to do it, a thing I'm of two minds about. A couple more paychecks would come in very handy. But working for him is going to get expensive. Two rocks smacked my windshield during today's commute. Now I need a new windshield. Fortunately, that ominous squeaking noise from underneath the car turned out to be the wheeled luggage carrier I'd forgotten that I left in the back seat, but I'm paranoid about every sound the car makes.

Sigh. Until we get the network connected, I can't do the bookkeeping or clean out my old email files or any of the other routine tasks that I normally use to fill slack time.

I got up early again today, worked from home for an hour (not much to do, I admit) and then drove in. Now it's 10:40. The whole point of moving the office to Boulder was so that he wouldn't have to commute and so he could work out of his office instead of his home. So why isn't he here?

I gave up and put an hour down on my timecard for waiting for him to show up.

Now, I'm just sitting here. Waiting. (And eating Thin Mints, actually. Mmmm, Girl Scout Cookie Time!)

I guess I could call him and ask whereintheheck he is.

Okay, he just called. He thought I was going to call him and tell him when I started driving up to Boulder. Where he got that idea is anyone's guess. He and I certainly never discussed any such thing. He didn't mention anything about why he didn't come to work this morning regardless of whether or not he thought I was here, but that doesn't surprise me. He used to make a point of not being in the office if I wasn't there. I'd like to pretend it's because he didn't think "work" happened without me but the truth is I think he was afraid something would happen and he wouldn't be able to deal with it.

The new office is a cute, little place, I have to admit. It's a step up from the ratty building we were in before and I'm a little sorry I won't get to stay and play.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, March 2, 2007
Broccoli Kills

I like broccoli. Quite a bit, actually. However, since I'm working from home today, I'm shoveling down lunch in a most unhealthy and unladylike fashion while I work and I very nearly did myself in with a lump of broccoli a minute ago.

After yesterday's commute to Boulder (not such a nightmare, as long as you keep firmly in mind that you won't be doing it often), I'm more than ever convinced that I have got to get serious about job-hunting.

Bernie did ask me if, now that I'd done the commute once (although not in rush hour traffic), I didn't feel I'd be willing to do it regularly. The question really took me by surprise since I was sure my refusal to stay was well-established by now.

And then, after blithely announcing that he wasn't going to get tense about whether or not I worked a full 8-hour day on the days I had to commute to Boulder, Bernie got all pissy with me yesterday when, with no network and no internet access at the new office, I decided to leave at 3:00, as he went into his 1-hour conference call, to come home and check my (work) email.

Was it my fault he was 30 minutes late in coming to meet me and he thus lost time he felt he was entitled to from me? Was it my fault he'd spent an hour on the phone with Dell tech support while I stared at the walls? Was it my fault he scheduled an hour-long conference call on the only day he and I would both be in the Denver office?

Was it my fault that he ran around making a lot of noise about how he was getting the new office set up and then showed up yesterday with brand-new, not-yet-activated phones (neither of which will have the number we gave out to the clients as our new phone number, BTW), to show me the temporary space we'd have to cram into for at least six days until the actual new office was available, and that the temporary space had no phones, no network, and no internet access?

He seemed to think so.

He also seemed to feel that as long as I was sitting there, he was getting his money's worth of my time, but my tolerance for doing absolutely nothing is pretty limited. Especially when being forced to share a very small office space with a grasshopper-brained employer dividing his time between cursing his laptop (dead motherboard) and bitching about a nonexistent network.

(I am still unable to convince him that a network is a thing and that nothing outside of creating some kind of actual connection between machines will enable them to converse with one another. I sweartogod I had trouble making him understand why, just because both machines were in the same room, they couldn't talk to each other without a connection and that, NO, a network was not something I could cobble together from the myriad parts and pieces and miscellaneous cables laying around.)

(Also? Our "network files" were split between two servers in the old office (don't ask) and since TechBoy took one of those home with him on Tuesday when he accidentally took the network down, I wouldn't have been able to recreate the network even if I'd known how.)

On the way home last night I heard from TechBoy and made a detour to pick up the AWOL network server, so when I go to the office again on Monday, I can take it with me. And no, I will not be making any attempt, no matter how feeble, to network the machines.

Bernie actually had the nerve to call me when I was driving home last night to say that we needed to find me some work to do from home since "you're still on company time, you know."

As I paid for a new tank of gas to replace what I'd burned driving to his new office (and hauling 300 lbs of office "stuff" that I had to unload when I got there) and sat in a Best Buy parking lot for 40 minutes, waiting for TechBoy to show up and pass the server box back to me, then got up this morning and fired up both of my personal computers and then called the most important clients on my personal cell phone to give them my personal phone number in case they need to contact us before he gets the phone situation straightened out, I stewed about that crack.

Aside from his use and abuse of my personal resources, as usual I already had a full day of work that needed to be done today and, as usually happens, he was completely oblivious to the fact. I tried to explain that to him when he called me at 6:00 last night (my personal time), but he was too full of a project he'd created for me to work on so that I wouldn't be getting away with getting paid for doing nothing to listen to me.

I'm preparing an email for him to explain that setting up shared public files, recreating contact lists, and notifying clients that I lied to them about what our phone number will all take time. Also to remind him that I had 6 hours worth of database review scheduled for today and that I have decided just not to do it since he clearly no longer feels the databases are of any importance or he'd remember them.

I can't believe it's 1:00 already. I haven't gotten through a fraction of my work yet. I've been working and working all morning but everything takes longer when you don't have everything at your desk and your fingertips. I have to use both home computers because one has internet access which I need and the other has Excel which I need and then I needed a table for the papers I'm working on the for the Dell man to work on (Bernie scheduled for him to come to my apartment today to replace the motherboard on the laptop, which I had to bring home with me) so I have the computer desk with the PC and a little table with the laptop and a folding table with all the papers on it and I'm dashing back and forth between the three of them.

Working from home shouldn't be this stressful. Okay, partly it's my own fault for not getting my (personal) wireless network back up and running so that I could more conveniently use my (personal) laptop to work on company business. And partly it's residual stress from the move, I'm sure.

And partly it's because The Time Has Come when I can no longer ignore the necessity of hitting the job sites five or six times a week.

Is it really petty of me to be smirking because everyone Bernie interviews and wants to hire is telling him they want more money for the job than he's offering?

Is it mean of me to laugh every time he tells me, very indignantly, that one of them wants the same amount I told him he'd have to give me to make me even consider staying?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:20 PM | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
And, We Begin Again

Job applicants for this position are now being interviewed. I was a tad underwhelmed by today's applicant. She wasn't pro-active enough, didn't ask enough questions, and her resume was strong in working with a team. (When you are the entire team, being at your best when working in a group isn't really a big asset.)

Anne's resume recreation process is nearly complete. The R.C. took my lameoid draft and bled red ink all over it last night. I did those rewrites and others today and while I'd like for her to take another pass at it, I think I'll go ahead and apply today for the job DiamondGirl is nudging me towards. She's been waiting almost two weeks for me to send in a resume. They're hiring for two positions but I'd hate to lose my window of opportunity.

Deep breath....

Resume sent! I hope to heck I didn't make any typos in my email. I checked it over but you never know....

Sixty, I sweartogod, sixty seconds later--

Bernie just came dancing in. A giant new project, with a big new client, just said "yes!" I mean, a big project, too. A medium-sized contract came through late last week and a big summer job is about to make a commitment. Looks like things are finally breaking for the company.

He wants me to reconsider leaving. :) There's going to be work for a while to come. (I might even be able to get the $10k I told him I'd have to have in order to consider commuting to Boulder.)


Posted by AnneZook at 12:28 PM | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Today's Idiot Tally (so far): 2

Gonna be a golden day, what with the snow, the sleet, the ice, and the idiots.

I arrive at the office at 8:31. The phone is already ringing. It's Bernie. He's checking in. Do we have internet access at the office?


I checked my email at home before I came in, so I tell him to go check his web-mail. A client needs a change in a .pdf file Bernie sent them. He needs to do that while he still has internet access at home.

It's a typo, okay? He spelled a word wrong. It's a two-second fix. But, no. He objects to making this change. He wants me to do it and then email him the new Word document to convert into a pdf.

I remind him that I have no internet access. He says he'll "try" to make the correction but it might have to wait.

I am completely at a loss as to why he would not be able to fix a typo in a Word document and then select the menu option that converts the file to a .pdf (he's done it a hundred times before) but I can clearly see that whenever the time comes when we have internet access again, the first thing I'm going to wind up doing is fixing this typo and then emailing the document to him.

As clearly as if he'd said it, I can tell that he has decided is hard and complicated and he doesn't want to be involved. He also as much as said that since the client's original email came to me and he wasn't copied, it wasn't his job to fix the mistake.

He has the necessary Word document since he's the one who emailed it to me originally. He has the only computer that will do the conversion. He has experience doing it. Why, suddenly, is this all just too traumatic for him to deal with?

Apparently his internet access at home is slow. I refrain from mentioning that it's not as slow as at the office where it's stopped.

Next up:

Considering that I had a 15-minute conversation about his responsibilities with Buehler yesterday, before he left the office at noon, I guess I should be impressed that it took him clear up until 3:30 yesterday afternoon to start calling Bernie and asking if "we" have fixed the internet access yet.

I talked with Bernie about this yesterday afternoon, when he called to ask why I had not gotten the internet access fixed. At that time I explained to him how no one but Buehler can provide the information required.

This morning, Bernie called to say that Buehler was inquiring about the access. Is it fixed? When I said, "no," he asked me to "call her" about it.

Her? Who her? The Access Goddess?

I explain, again, very slowly, that I need an account number or the primary phone number the account was set up under in order to call Qwest and get any assistance. This information has to come from Buehler and/or Moe.

I explain that it's completely ridiculous for Buehler to say that he has never gotten a bill from Qwest and that I told him, Buehler, quite plainly, what I needed yesterday, so it's no good him calling us today and wondering why I haven't done anything about it.

Bernie hangs up, calls Buehler and then calls me back. Buehler did talk to Moe, but he did not understand that he needed to get information from him so he didn't ask him the questions. I guess he just made a general inquiry after his health or something.

Now Bernie demands to know why Qwest cannot help us by tracking down our account by our address. I have no answer for this, not being in charge of how Qwest or any other company stores their own data. I assume, as I told him yesterday, that Qwest, being primarily a phone company, tends to use phone numbers to track accounts.

Bernie objects that we have lots of phones and surely one of those numbers will work. I point out that it's hardly reasonable to expect Her to sit on the phone with me for an hour while I rattle off the 20 "active" phone numbers into this office and have Her try them in combination with three different company names in an attempt to find our account.

Bernie decides to call Qwest himself. I wish him luck, decline to provide the phone number (he can do the same thing I did, look it up in the phone book) and actually do hope he can get this fixed. I miss my internet access.

Before he hangs up, Bernie asks if I've asked DiamondGirl about this.

No, I have not. She doesn't work here any more.

She hasn't worked here for over six months, and when she was doing contract work for us, you bitched her out for the number of hours she was charging, so she doesn't love you any more and is highly unlikely to offer you any free tech support on a system that someone else contracted to have installed in the office. (What I actually say is, "I don't have internet access." He says since I can't email her, can I send her an IM. I say, "no, I do not have internet access.")

In the end, he decides to work from home today (thank goodness) and instructs me to finish packing up the office.

Being, as I am, and as I told him on Friday, at the point where I can't really pack anything else (And since when did moving the office become solely my problem? Bernie acts like he's doing the world a favor by announcing that he'll pack his own office--a fact that's even less-impressive when you hear that three months ago, he "cleaned" it by dumping all the stuff he didn't want in the main area.) until Buehler and Bernie decide who owns what of the piles of stuff that's left, I object to this plan. He gets pissy. I say, "fine" and wait for him to hang up. (Actually, having anticipated this, I wore jeans into the office today.)

I left my desk to go to the little girl's room. I was gone for just over two minutes. He called five times in that interval. Now I'm trying to decide whether or not to call him back now or wait a few minutes.

He's been pretty annoying already this morning, you know?

Also, I've spoken to him in the past about sitting there dialing my number over and over and over when I don't answer. I'm either on the phone or away from my desk and it does no good to sit there and work himself into a frenzy over my failure to instantly pick up the phone when he calls. I am the only person in the office most of the time. A certain percentage of my job cannot be done from my desk.

Today, if he wants me to be working in the other half of the office, packing stuff up, then I'm not going to be at my desk to pick up the phone instantly when he calls. He needs to realize this.

Also? He needs to stop calling my cell phone. My personal cell phone is not available for him to call and abuse me on. He can use the telephone he pays for, for the purpose.

(Note: For those wondering, I actually did call him back as soon as I got to my desk. His line was busy.)

Twenty minutes later, we're talking again. He has been on the phone with Qwest and has a question. What do the lights on the modem look like?

Just like yesterday, I tell him. All "green for go" and solid, except the "internet" light which is not on at all.

A minute later, he calls back. All of the phone lines are tied together where they come into the building Qwest shares with our VOIP phone provider! It's probably the VOIP system!

I remind him that we have phones. It's not the VOIP. It's the internet access.

He garbles out something about the fax machine "proving" that he's right and it's all--I don't know. Tied together or something. I have no idea how the fax machine suddenly came into it except that he believes that since we get the fax through Qwest and the phones through VOIP, it proves they're all connected.

The situation teeters on the brink of disaster as I fight back the urge to scream at him.

The memory of my near-daily complaints about my battle with the VOIP company as I tried to get them to send us a converter so our analog fax machine would work with their digital system, a six-month war, flickers through my mind. Clearly it's entirely escaped his, as has the day two months ago when I triumphed and wrested the necessary converter from their grubby little mitts, giving us the ability to send and receive faxes for the first time in months.

Forget it, I tell him. The fax, like all of our phone lines is VOIP. The internet is Qwest. They are separate. Any line-sharing arrangement that the two companies have come to is not our problem.

Call them anyhow, he says. Just ask them if they're having a problem.

I take a deep breath. I can call them, I agree. But they'll just think I'm insane. They do not provide our internet access and the services they do provide are working flawlessly.

He calls back two minutes later with a brilliant new suggestion.


All of the energy drains from my body, leaving me exhausted, discouraged, and disinclined to giveashit.

I've been here for two hours. So far, we've established that we have no internet access, we have phone access, and that rebooting doesn't fix the problem.

This is exactly what we knew 24 hours ago and, had either Buehler or Bernie actually listened to my answer when they asked me yesterday why we had no internet access, that's two hours of frustration I could have avoided. (Not to mention that we'd be 24 hours closer to a solution, instead of stuck re-running yesterday.)

Sigh. Going off to pack the office up now.

45 minutes later.... I came back to my desk for a drink of water and find that Bernie has called me five times. He desperately, urgently needs the answer to a question from the property managers here. Clearly he has no memory of telling me to spend the rest of the day away from my desk. Just as clearly, the idea of dialing them up himself never occurred to him.

Let us pause for a moment while I try to figure out how, "I'm not going to be a secretary or your personal assistant" turned into, "You'll never have do to a thing or think for yourself because I'm here to hold your hand and do everything that needs to be done every second of every work day."

"I know you're not my secretary," he says, "but put a stamp on this envelope for me." "I know you're not my personal assistant," he says, "but call these people and schedule a conference call and I'm available from 1-2 on Tuesday unless they're not available until 1:30 in which case we have to do it on Wednesday but if they want to do it on Thursday, tell them you'll have to call them back and then call me and check with my schedule first."

I should point out, in Bernie's favor, that he did actually get two contracts signed in the last 30 days.

In the year I've been here, these are the only bits of new business he's brought in, so this is the only time in the last year he's even remotely resembled a "salesman." Our two current largest clients have not officially renewed for 2007, and these two new contracts will replace their revenue for about two months, but whatever. (Oh. No, I tell a lie. He also got a contract signed this fall for project we delivered free "for the advertising" and a $1k contract signed last summer.

Later that same day

These entries get long when I work on them off and on for hours on end. Sorry. (Okay, no, not really. No one's making you read it.)

Bernie called back to ask what the checking account number is and to say Buehler's on the way over and he and I and Moe will be "solving" the internet access problem.

Moe, who was supposedly out of touch all day today until 4:00. Buehler, who is pretty much as clueless about technology as Bernie, although not as annoying with it. And me, the person whose every idea has already been tried without success.

I'm pretty excited about the potential there.


Buehler wandered in and brought lunch. I bit into my half of the sandwich quite happily the instant before I noticed that rather than the standard "turkey lite" (acceptable on my diet) it was some new thing called a "chicken cabo" full of a mayonnaise-based sauce and bits of bacon. I ate it (very tasty), but I'm going to be on starvation rations for dinner tonight.

Buehler, contrary to Bernie's information, did not come in armed and ready to work on the internet access problem.

He asked me vaguely what we should do.

I said, "I don't know."

He looked for a Qwest bill for about 15 seconds and that was the end of it. After that, we ate lunch and now he's reading magazines.


In the course of yet another phone call, Bernie casually mentioned that "if you have time, I left some boxes in my office and you can pack up that bookcase there."

I said, "Yeah. If I have time." When youknowhere freezes over was clearly implied and he clearly got it.

Anyhow. I'm home now. Five seconds after I logged on to my email here at home, I got an IM from Buehler saying the office access is fixed.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:43 PM | Comments (4)

Monday, February 12, 2007

There are days, when I just can't deal with it.

Saturday, as I was tooling back from Boulder with a couple of friends, Buehler called complaining because the VPN was out. He'd gone to the office and wanted me to walk him through fixing it.

I know, in a vague sort of way, that we have a VPN. I even know what a VPN is (a Virtual Private Network) and what it does (it lets people access the hardware here in the office, even when they're somewhere else) but those basic concepts are pretty much where my knowledge about, and interest in, our VPN stops.

If there's some physical thing in the server closet, amid that wilderness of tangled wires and stacked boxes, that is an actual VPN Controller, it's a surprise to me. If there's a button you can push or a thingy you can reboot to make it work when it gets stubborn, the location of said magic gizmos is a mystery to me.

Anyhow. I like Buehler, so I walked him through rebooting the Exchange server (the only thing I know how to explain over the phone and "a case of the blind leading the blind" doesn't even begin to explain how scary that idea is), including managing to explain to him how to change the "channel" on the weird black box that controls whether you're looking at the Exchange server or one of three other computers there in the closet. I waited for and took the inevitable second phone call because he'd forgotten to ask for the password, and then I forgot about the whole mess.

I mean, when he didn't call back I assumed all was well, but I come in today to find out that he was calling and IMing Bernie all weekend about the problem. (If calling me for network tech support constitutes "desperate" then calling Bernie has to qualify as " apocalypse imminent." The man can't even change the "view" on his documents in Word.)

And, yes, today, the entire office's internet access is out. It wasn't the VPN at all.

Ninety minutes later, I've rebooted everything in sight (including the box labeled "do not turn off"), most things three times, with no success.

When the Magic Of Reboot fails me, I'm pretty much stuck.

I have a vague idea that we have our internet access through Qwest. A close examination of the little modem box reveals that it does, in fact, have a Qwest label. Aha!

(At this point, Buehler asks if Bernie's "tech guy" isn't coming in this morning. I have no idea. If the two of them arranged for this over the weekend, that information wasn't passed to me. Besides, while I have much faith in TechBoy's abilities, I doubt that he's going to be able to fix a Qwest outage, you know? It has to be a Qwest outage. All of the little boxes are hooked up and all of the little lights are a happy green.)

(I should mention that Bernie called and said that their dog died last night so he's taking a sick day.)

After explaining all of this to Buehler, I am reduced to the primitive expedient of paging through a hard-copy phone book. I find a number. I call Qwest, fight my way through the debris of voicemail options to get to a Real Person and--get stuck.

I don't have our account number. I don't know which of the three companies sharing this suite the account was set up under. I don't even know the "main" phone number the account would have been set up under.

Moe, the guy who used to do freelance and contract software coding work for us, set the whole Qwest thing up two or three years ago and of course he's long gone. Also, while Moe's a great guy, documentation and information-sharing weren't really his strong points.

Eventually I bully the truly kind and helpful woman on the phone into admitting they're having an outage. I cannot force her to tell me if it includes this building or not though. Also, we're not the only Qwest customers in the building, but apparently it's possible that some of us are having an outage and some of us are not.

(During the time I'm trying to talk on the phone to Qwest, Buehler is interrupting me with questions of such earth-shattering importance as, "what is today's date," and "did you get the weekend mail yet.")

In the end, Qwest-Lady says the outage, if that's our problem, could last for up to 24 hours and if we still don’t have internet access tomorrow, the problem could be with our modem, so find our account number or something that she can track in her system and they'll help us trouble-shoot it.

I hang up and search the office. There are no bills from Qwest. It seems that in some peculiar fashion, we've managed to have Qwest DSL service for the last two years without ever receiving a bill. I can understand that it might have been set up for auto-pay to a credit card or something, but I cannot understand how a mailing-happy, paper-obsessed company like Qwest failed to send us any kind of paper bill/reminder/notification in all of that time.

I've been in the office for 2-1/2 hours by this point, and the only work-related (as in "actually my job") thing I've done all day was the two-second interval when I completely failed to send an email to a client because the internet access was out.

Also, I'm facing the knowledge that if it's the modem, it's just going to be out until Bernie moves the office, because I have no information and no documentation that will get us any kind of technical support to fix it.

In the meantime, I'm still wearing an antique contact lens in my left eye, so the world is half-hazy and entirely off-balance, making me just slightly queasy if I try to focus on anything smaller than a school bus. The pharmacy is calling to complain because I ordered prescription refills and never picked them up. The bookkeeper is calling to complain because I haven't deposited the expense reimbursement check that was written to me two weeks ago.

If I were a drinker, this is the moment I'd be reaching for the nearest bottle. But I'm not, so I'm munching morosely on today's "approved" diet snack (soy nuts), doing the bookkeeping, and looking forward to the moment half an hour from now when I need to get up, go home, and check my email.

(Posted from home, later that same day.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 1, 2007
Well, that was ugly

I don't want to go into boring details, but yesterday evening was just icky. I didn't get to bed until 11:30 again, but this time it was because I was upset and having to calm down.

How did it begin? Well, typically, Bernie promised a client something last week and then never thought about it again. At least, not until 4:55 yesterday evening, when he got an email saying they needed it today.

Skipping the ranty bits, let's just say it involved pulling me out of my meeting with TechBoy and wasting my one chance to get the tech part of the office move set up to run smoothly, keeping me in the office until I was late for my 6:00 get-together with a friend (and for which I realized I didn't have directions anyhow), discovering that Bernie saying he was "working with Scooby on the database" over the last couple of months meant nothing of the kind, the discovery that Scooby himself has actually been doing nothing with the information I've been sending him for the last two months, and all climaxed with Bernie calling me at 10:06 last night to yell at me for sending the client too much information when I got home, got online, and tried to finish up the project at 8:00 last night.

Today Bernie's inventing new complications and telling unnecessary lies that are going to bite him in the butt in a few days, all so he doesn't have to say, "your name was not on the mailing list" to the new head of the Board of Directors.

I'm not good at lies, okay? They make me tense. You have to be smarter than me or something to keep track of what lies you've told what people. I don't want to live that kind of a complicated life.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, January 19, 2007
Good-bye to DDIAMFTTS

For those of you who might be newish to this neighborhood, DDIAMFTTS means, "Downtown Denver Is A Lot More Fun Than The Suburbs." It's an acronym I created when I started in this office, four or however many years ago. I'd worked in the suburbs since I moved to Denver and I had no idea how much more entertaining it would be to be downtown.

Karpenters in Kilts! Weird bus advertisements! The Powerball billboard, rising and falling each week, making people who are not me rich! Eight or ten restaurants within walking distance, if I want to have lunch out! Drunks, druggies, and homeless waifs on every street corner! Yes, that's the flavor of Downtown In the Big City.

But. Bernie's made his decision and he's going to move the office to Boulder. It's just not gonna happen for me, okay?

I'm okay with him assuring me earnestly that his public transit commute "to Market Street" is just under an hour every day, but that's from the time he hits the bus stop in Boulder to a place three miles from this office. He's never said how long his whole commute is, so mine would be that, plus the hour or so it would take me to ride MOPT to Market Street, so we're talking two hours minimum, plus however much time I'm going to need to find and ride a bus between the drop-off point and the actual office in Boulder.

I'm not spending four+ hours a day commuting, not even if I'm working from home a couple of days a week. I mean, it's okay for him - he can show up here at 9:30 and leave for home at 4:00. He expects me to be in the office for a minimum of 8 hours a day.

I haven't told him definitely that I'm not planning to follow him on this expedition but I'm going to need to do so on Monday. Which means that a chunk o'time this weekend will have to be devoted to reading the Help Wanted ads. Shudder.

Except that Buehler swears he has "something cooking" and he's threatening to hire me himself again some day soon.

These people love me ever so much more than I love them. (Well, Bernie doesn't love me. I think it's been bothering him recently--he keeps coming into my office and telling me in tones of wonder that this or that client has been saying glowing things about me. He doesn't get it.) It's very flattering, but Buehler's wife Has Money and he can afford to dink around casually and almost part-time at running a business. I do not Have Money and I need a real job that's going to last more than 10 or 11 months.

Had the stock market not tanked.... Were I only dishonest enough to have invested in defense stocks when I knew we were going to invade Iraq....

Your 50s are supposed to be your "peak" earning years. If I could only convince someone to "peak" my salary back to what it was a year ago, I promise I'd save and save and save.

Sigh. Like many of us, I had a dollar figure in mind for my total retirement savings. Before the Big Crash, I was well on my way to making it. Now I'm thinking I might have to take half that and like it. (As long as Bush doesn't actually manage to bankrupt Social Security, I won't be living under a bridge, but that's not saying much.)

I laugh when I remember that I used to plan on retiring at 59 or 60.

Life is hard.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:04 PM | Comments (5)

Thursday, January 11, 2007
You Tell Me

What do you do when asked to read a "draft" of new website copy written by your boss/company marketing person and it's just not good?

The first draft I read, I gritted my teeth, corrected some punctuation errors, asked for clarification in two places, and moved on with my life.

Now I have a new draft, this one approved by Bernie's boss (Buehler is Bernie's boss), the version they worked on together and it's--worse. Not only does Bernie strive, for reasons I've never understood, to avoid clear language, dressing phrases up in frequently made-up "jargonese" but he just writes badly. (Okay, yes, my syntax is sometimes torturous--but I do that on purpose. I'm not here to communicate, I'm here to amuse myself.)

He capitalizes words Quite randomly, fails to find and follow a single narrative path (yes, that matters on websites), and has about 25% of the "design" talent he thinks he has. (There are eight font colors, at least two typefaces, and five different font sizes in the draft website he sent me.)

My knowledge of punctuation is rudimentary, but his is positively primitive.

He prefers vague but grandiose-sounding promises to a clear description of what we actually do. He didn't bother to make the corrections I sent him in the first draft, so he's still promising, for instance, that we'll show up on-site and do 100% of the day-to-day running of one system--and we don't do that.

As a different but still worrying problem, he promises things we can't begin to deliver. He shows a "branded" version of a machine we own one of, offering vague promises of all it can do, when he's never actually seen it in action. (He "branded" it himself, running a label through the printer so he could put our logo over that of the company that makes the equipment. This is not illegal. Just--a touch misleading. Borderline dishonest.)

He promises another delivery mechanism that, to the best of my knowledge, neither he nor Buehler actually knows how to use or where to get.

The mind. Boggles.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Dorkus Returnus

Okay, so we have five "rack" servers, four of which we want to sell off. These were all bought 4 or 4-1/2 years ago.

I've complained about these before, they're the machines that Bernie is convinced he can sell for 60%-70% of the purchase price, in spite of their age (and let me point out that they're all at least a year older than he was remembering). The ones he thinks are still almost new because the components have been sitting largely idle for four years.

Today I finally find a live human being at MegaCorporation where we purchased them, and she's in the Small Business department, so she can find and send me electronic copies of the invoices showing the prices we paid and the exact configurations for each machine.

I spend 1-1/2 hour putting these into a spreadsheet so we can see how much the machines differ from each other.

As it turns out, at least one of them differs significantly, having dual processors and a lot more line items with mysterious numbers attached to them on the invoice than the other machines. All (and this is important) are clearly labeled, "No OS, No Windows 2000," though.

Bernie is annoyed that there are no serial #'s on the invoices, to help us out. I nobly refrain from pointing out that at the time they purchased the machines (when the invoices were generated), it was just an order. No specific machine was as of yet associated with the purchase and thus no serial number would have been available.

Instead, I tell him that all of that would have been on the paperwork shipped with the machines and that paperwork is mysteriously missing.

I explain to Bernie that I have looked for this paperwork many times and not found it. He goes to look himself and triumphantly brings me a folder full of payment information for six other machines in a different year. I reject it, explaining that I've seen those papers and they have nothing to do with the case at hand. He insists on standing there and reading me bits off the papers until he's forced to concede that a $600 payment-in-full receipt is unlikely to be associated with the purchase of a $4,000 server.

Then he decides we need a different approach. We cannot, of course, tell from looking at the cardboard boxes these servers are stored in, tell which specifications go with which server. Bernie suggests we open a cardboard box and look at the actual physical hardware.

I mention that I've tried that, pointing out the box that's been open for the last month, and found nothing helpful tattooed on the outside of the metal frame of the server but tell him he's free to look for himself. He does so (leaving the box open in the middle of the main pathway in and out of the office) and finds nothing, of course.

After that, it takes me over 15 minutes to try and convince him that we cannot just plug one of these servers in, hook a monitor to it, and find out which machine is which.

I am entirely unable to get him to comprehend that the little pictures on the monitor are provided by a Windows OS and that, without installing Windows, no little pictures will appear. In the end, he just gets mad (I can see him mentally writing me off as "uncooperative" again) and walks off.

Before he walks off, though, he announces that they had installed copies (now four years old, of course) of some software (I'm not really listening by now) on each machine and that he wants $500 added to the price of each server on the resell to cover that expense.

Then my head explodes.

The end.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:22 PM | Comments (4)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bernie's at home having a little wig-out because the report he needed today won't be here today.

And I'm thinking...if you wanted PoodleBoy working on Client P's report this week, why have you been emailing him all week about Client I's data? But when I suggested the same in an email, he went ballistic and said he hadn't been communicating deadlines, or at all, with PoodleBoy (he tends to tell transparent and ridiculous lies).

Then he as much as said that a job I've never worked on (and that he's been responsible for, for eight years) and for which no written specifications exist was my responsibility to psychically divine and manage.

Boggles the mind sometimes.

I've lost an hour composing mental hate notes to him today, pointing out that as I'm already doing the work of at least two full-time employees plus bits of work previously done by free-lancers and "managing" two new free-lancers, it's a bit much for him to unilaterally decide that he no longer needs to be involved in fulfilling our responsibilities to the clients who are paying both our salaries and that he can just turn his back and walk off.

Especially since he didn't see fit to inform me of this decision, but just let it sort of dawn on me as he failed, time and again, to step up to the plate on deadlines and project specifications over the last three months.

I just have to feel that as long as he's paying himself $90k a year from the money these clients pay us? He's in no position to just abdicate all interest in and responsibility for the work.

Also? Tech problems again today. The whateveritwas in the server closet has quit beeping (thank goodness), but now the machine we use as a spam filter and to catch messages sent to invalid email addresses is giving me fits. I've been swapping out peripherals (Bad mouse! No cheese!) this morning, trying to find a combination that works.

The server with the expensive, proprietary software on it that Bernie wants us use for "occasional" client mailings still considers keyboards the devil's playthings and refuses to acknowledge their existence. It's a little hard to code newsletters and mailings without access to a keyboard, so right now it's just a useless lump of plastic and metal.

The free-lance network tech guy has not proven able to solve all of our network and email issues in the 1-1/2 hour a week he has to spare for us right now (color me so surprised), although one assumes that after he graduates on Saturday, he'll have more time (until he finds a full-time job, anyhow).

You know, I come into the office every day cheerful and willing to do whatever comes up. (I know, it doesn't sound that way, but I really do.) And mostly (especially this week, as things have slowed down considerably), I get it done. Parts of the job are even sort of interesting.


Still. I was repaid for my restraint in not sending a hate note to Bernie. He called and we talked and it's all better now. (Okay, it's largely all better because I did not address with him my frustration that he feels he needs to do nothing but sit and wait for client checks to be handed to him, but I decided that isn't really the kind of conversation that should be had on the phone.)

Another reward for my restraint is that today's morning cheer, is back with me again. My head is all full of P. G. Wodehouse because I've been re-watching the Jeeves & Wooster DVDs for the last two weeks and that's not a world that can survive the bruising of the 21st century work-day. I'm willing to pay the price for being allowed to live there mentally.

Next Tuesday's Chocolate Surprise was delivered to the R.C.'s office today, but that's okay. She seems delighted. (Sort of cake-truffle things. I discovered the company when I was in California last month.)

Buehler took off for a lunch meeting. That will make it easier for me to slide out to the post office and send the parcel to the L-i-K-S and Rapunzel and Pippi. I'm late with packages this year, but at least I'm getting them sent, right? This is the last one that has to go.

You see? I little self-restraint, a little effort, and it's turning out to be a good day!

Posted by AnneZook at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Oh, Bernie

You should let me double-check things before you send them out. You really should.

When I started working here, you were charging Client P $1650/month as a retainer for the stuff we did all year-round, plus $10k and $4k respectively for extra work we did at their large annual and small annual conferences.

I badgered you because we were doing twice as much work as we were being reimbursed for and you bitched about it constantly. You were afraid to ask for more money from the client, but you weren't afraid to make my life and DiamondGirl's a living hell with your constant complaints because we couldn’t do 10/hours worth of work in a week in 2 hours.

I badgered you until you changed the monthly retainer to $3300 and bumped the upcoming small annual conference to $5k.

When I had my back turned, the client decided to cut out of the monthly jobs we did for them, about 50% of the monthly work, and you changed the agreement to...wait for it people...a $1575/month retainer that quotes such an absurdly large ceiling for monthly work volume that they can run us ragged without touching it.

You cut your monthly fees by 53%, regardless of the fact that the client has made up for the work they cut by doubling the amount of work on the projects remaining.

You didn't cover everything that will need to cost extra, and you made no mention of the things you have verbally agreed that we will not do any longer - and you know you need to formalize things with this client.

And you did all of this without telling me until two months later--when you bitched me out because the invoices I've sent out for the last two months are at the "old" price.

And that was right after you said it was working out really well for you to have me doing the reporting on Client W and Client S (and client Sc, if they return to us), because you didn't have to pay PoodleBoy, the expert, to do what he does and so I should plan to spend four more hours for each job for each of those clients to do my own reporting.

Which was right after you said that you didn't want to pay PoodleBoy for the actual hours it takes him to do the reporting for the larger clients, P, C, and I, and that I need to mentally "book" about ten extra hours in each job we do for each of them in the future so I can clean up the data so that PoodleBoy, the supposed "statistician," doesn't have to actually think about the data.

And then you said yesterday that in your ideal world, I would do all of the work for Client P, Client C, Client I, Client W, and Client S, along with whatever else comes up in the same line, and that you'd never see or hear of any of it.

So, you know. Less money, more work, and just me doing on it all where there used to be 3-1/2 people sharing the load, proof-reading each other's stuff, and pitching in to help when deadlines got tight.

Thank you. So very much.

All of which was shortly before you said that we were going to move the office in February (was there a point when I agreed to stay after 12/31? Because I don't remember it, if there was.) and that I should plan to spend my spare time cleaning out files, throwing things away, and figuring out how to get rid of the excess office equipment, furniture, and unidentifiable electronics bits and pieces over the next two weeks.

For the detritus of 10 departed employees, I also thank you.

I do not love you, Bernie.

I cannot tell why, but the spirit of the season ebbs from my heart when I see your little face.


P.S. I got a call from Sassy today. She's found a new job and she's leaving. Even though we didn't get to talk often, I'm going to miss her.

P.P.S. I am planning to start job-hunting after Jan 1. If Bernie feels free to extend my commitment to suit himself, then he's entitled to his reality. I'm going to take advantage of the situation just enough to stay employed while I start the job search. (This decision came about partly because something Sassy said made me think she has info I don't have about actual definite plans to close the place March 1.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Here We Go Again

Someone explain to me how to explain to Bernie that just because he paid $3500 for a rack server three years ago, does not mean it's still worth at least $1500 today. Three years is a long time in computer technology.

Nor is there any point in yanking out the extra memory we put in if he can't get that much. (It's not like we have rack servers here onsite that we can put that memory into.) Being spiteful at the buyer isn't going to make the market for used three year-0ld servers any stronger.

Also, ask him to stop being schizophrenic. Last night, as he was leaving, he said he'd be happy to sell them for enough to cover the shipping we had to pay to get them back from the hosting company. Today he wants $1500 for each of them.

I can't keep up.

He said, "we need to sell them." I found someone here in the building interested in buying them.

He said, "we just need to get them off our hands." I told this someone we probably weren't going to ask that much for them.

Now he wants me to ask them to buy all four for a total of $6k? You can buy a brand-new rack server for a small business for $800. Or even $1700, if you want a huge amount of computing power.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:18 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The Ongoing Saga Of Me

So, this morning PoodleBoy went on strike. He wants 40% more for the jobs he does for us, and he wants to do 60% less of the work on those jobs.

I ask you. Is it my fault he's been undercharging Bernie for the number of hours these things take for the last five years? It is not. But, as so often happens, I was here at the time, so I get to pay the price.

Today I had to spend 5-1/2 hours of time I'd really intended to spend on other projects cleaning up data.

Also I found out that our two biggest clients are having their annual meetings within two weeks of each other next fall. Which should make next fall a nice little slice of heck for me or whomever is here at the time. (Whomever? Whoever? I never know about those two. I think it has something to do with being the object of a preposition? Whatever.)

The thing is, I don't mind doing the work associated with this job. I can even live with having to do some of DiamondGirl's and some of PoodleBoy's jobs. It's not easy, but I can fit it all in most of the time.

Where I really find myself getting annoyed is with the secretarial stuff. Bernie and I have talked about this and he knows how I feel about being treated as a secretary. And yet, that doesn't stop him from asking me to email people documents instead of emailing them himself, or from making phone calls that would be better coming from him (like to the bank about the company's account) , or from sending me explicit instructions on conversations he feels need to be had with clients but that he won't pick up the phone and just have.

There are valid times when you ask someone else have a conversation with someone. I accept that. I'm a big believer in that. But emailing me to ask me to email Scooby and ask him if he's done a certain report, then having to Scooby's answer back to Bernie? Would it not be a lot less schizophrenic if Bernie just emailed Scooby and asked him the question?

Bernie sending me three emails telling me to email a document from last year to PoodleBoy? Bernie worked here last year. I did not. Bernie has the document on his computer. I'm going to have to spend 20 minutes searching the Tweenybopper's files to find it. What is his issue with just emailing the stupid document himself?

I talked with the R.C. about this and she says if I don't know what Bernie is doing all day every day, I should just ask him. Of course, I should put it diplomatically, not just blurt out, "it feels to me like I'm doing 90% of everything that needs to be done to keep your stupid company going and just what are you bringing to the table, anyhow?" at him. I should say something about scheduling tasks or making sure we have everything covered and say that I want to make sure I'm supporting him how he needs (hah) and then ask him what projects he's working on and where his time is going.

It's a good plan. I know that, Bernie being Bernie, he's going to take that as an invitation to try and offload yet more of the tedium of running a business off on me, but I have no doubts about my ability to push back on any such suggestions.

Also? The raise Bernie and I were supposed to discuss at the end of July that I let slide until we talked in Septemberand then told him two weeks ago I'd want at the end of December if he wanted me to stay?

Now he's trying to slide it past me that all of the big client decisions should be "in place" by the first of March. I suspect that in his fevered imagination, I won't have any problem waiting for another two months for a raise that was supposed to be forthcoming four months ago.

But you shouldn't bluff these things. If I tell him I need the money January 1 or I'm going to walk? I need to be prepared to walk.

I'm not really sure why I'm so cranky all of a sudden. I got the insurance thing straightened out and I'm all legal again. I had a nice lunch and a cookie. I have chocolates I can eat in case of emergency hunger or just boredom. Only 45 minutes until I get to go home.

I'm just...well, I'm having a little Cranky Interlude.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, October 20, 2006
Anne Zook: Advisor to the stars

Not that I haven't had my own moments of stupid this week. I fought one of our proprietary software programs to the wall because the program I coded wasn't working. Turns out I mislaid a comma in a logic statement. Color me embarrassed.


Buehler, who doesn't normally annoy me at all, wanted me to print stuff for him today because he doesn't have access to the color printer and I'm all, "okay, no problem" until he gives me the URL, at which time I informed him that it is no part of my job to print out his porn, even if it does look better in color. (Who knew that was a site to buy doggie beds?)

Later he required more assistance because the pages did not come out of the printer. I investigated and explained to him that, while it would be a cool feature, printers do not yet make their own paper as they go and it is necessary to load blank paper into the little bin in order to get the machine to produce copies.

I spent 45 minutes writing up instructions so that the genius program developer would know how to get into the server to look for my missing data. If he can't get into the server without my assistance, I have little faith he'll be able to work technology magic and retrieve my files.

Our e-mail continues to come and go, choke and relax, at irregular intervals throughout the day, just as both it and our internet access have been doing for the last ten days. I'm pretending not to notice.

I've spent 12-3/4 hours on "tech" stuff this week, not including little interludes like the one mentioned above - significantly more than I've spent doing anything for any client.

Should I manage to free myself from the coils of technological malfunctions, I can always put on my Human Resources hat and go out and find myself a new insurance provider. Bernie's wanting to switch to his wife's policy on the first but he's not sure if our current carrier will let him have a small business policy with just me on it. If they won't, he says it's up to me to find my own insurance carrier and he'll pay up to the dollar amount he's paying now.

Failing that, I can put on my Office Manager hat and go find heavier boxes for shipping our products since those last two shipments came back crushed. Or find stickers we can run through a color printer that are permanent when applied to cheap plastic and have transparent backgrounds. Or return product components we bought that didn't work. Or hassle the building management because our suite isn't getting vacuumed and we pay for cleaning.

The one thing I can be fairly certain of about today is that I will have no time to work with any of our actual clients. My actual title, if anyone was wondering, is "Account Executive." I was hired, if anyone cares, because I have ten years of account management experience. Because working with clients is what I'm good at.

Naturally I'm thrilled to spend my time on hardware repair, software troubleshooting, and office supply ordering.

In fact, I'm just thrilled.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 19, 2006
You're Bad

It's naughty to be late. They've trained us to that from kindergarten, on.

At least, they tried. With some of us, it didn't quite 'take'.

Me, I'm casual about times when it comes to work. I make a reasonable effort to show up on time but I don’t always succeed.

(It's always been my opinion that an employee whose main claim to fame is that they're "never late" isn't worth an employee who strolls in a bit late from time to time but is also available to work through lunch or on weekends or in the evenings when necessary. Those who punch the time-clock in in the morning are likely to be the same ones who insist upon punching it out promptly in the evening.)

This morning was not a success.

That was a long, boring, and unnecessary way of saying I was late to work this morning, wasn't it? (I'm not even sure why I felt the need to tell you.)

This week has been Technology Hellweek.

A software program we use (proprietary, need I add?) that lets a DOS-based program on a portable box interface with an internet-based .asp reporting program ate about 35% of a client's data this week.

Bernie assures me this has happened before (I remember hearing about it in my training) and that DiamondGirl can wrest the data from the server, but....

DiamondGirl doesn't work here any more and while she said she would have done it for us, free-lance, she's going to be out of town for the next four days for her actual job. The client not surprisingly wants their data now, so I turned to Moe and send a half-begging e-mail. He would know how to do it.

In the meantime, the "just in time" data that the clients are supposed to be able to see within 24 hours of doing their jobs has now been AWOL for five days.

The servers have been acting up, one of them won't let us in at all, the machine we use for the really, mind-numbingly boring process of scanning business cards has the sulks, our internet access is like molasses, our e-mail has been and continues to be giving us fits, and something in the server closet beeeeps in an alarming way at least once a day.

The last two jobs we did for one client spawned a flurry of e-mails and phone calls as they tried to decide if it was our tech or Human Error that caused some odd problems (it was tech, but their tech, not ours), and the oh-so-eager-to-help "help desk" at the new email provider's office disappeared abruptly as soon as they got our check.

I dunno. I'm thinking there might be some kind of connection between these events and my unwillingness to roll out of bed this morning. What do you think?

Yesterday was the capper, though. Bernie was in here discussing the Mysteriously Eaten Data with me and looking at the boxes (under the assumption, one presumes, that I was too stupid to read the screen and recognize that it actually said, "Responses: 37" instead of, "Responses 00").

He asked if I'd tried a different button in the reporting program (yeah, because that's going to magically fix it) and if I'd tried a different software program entirely (what part of, "Responses: 00" sounds like the box is just kidding?) and various other well-intended but idiotic things.

Eventually he picked up the box, looked at it, and asked me, quite seriously, "Have you tried looking at the chip?"

It's not an engraving, okay? I can't get out my magnifier or my little chip-reading glasses and see the data on the chip.

Eventually I figured out that Alvin, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, a Masters in statistics, and an I.Q. of something like 175, was able to access the data on a chip through other means occasionally, back when the program was all DOS-based. (Alvin invented the boxes. There is little or no magic he cannot work.)

I, with my degree in English Lit, find myself unwilling to attempt to duplicate this feat. Even if my own I.Q. does go into triple digits.

Bernie's next suggestion was that I ask Poodle Boy, who has a degree in Marketing, if he could look at the chip and do whatever it was that Alvin used to do. (Bernie and Alvin don't speak any more.)

To be entirely honest, I find myself unwilling to call Poodle Boy and ask him to do "whatever it was Alvin did eight years ago to magically retrieve data when we used a different software program and using a full set of electronics gadgets and with physical access to the box, none of which I can offer you."

Moe's little company helped design the on-line part of this software, which is the part that's giving us trouble. He says he might be able to help me tomorrow.

In the meantime, the server that isn't responding to our attempts to communicate with it? Bernie finally decided the problem is there's no picture. He decided to hook a monitor and a keyboard up to it so he can look at it. He was, yesterday, entirely convinced that all the problems would magically disappear if he could just see a picture.

I solved that one by asking him to "wait a second." Then I walked out of the room.

Eventually he called after me to ask what I was doing and I said, "I don't want to be involved. If you're pushing any buttons on that machine, I don't want to be in the room at the time."

Since I had previously forced him to view the e-mail trail from last fall of what we not laughingly call "tsunami day" when a server error causes us to spam a client's list with millions of duplicate e-mails, he took me seriously. He grumbled, but in the end he didn't push any buttons.

It's hard to be sure if it's the tech or the attitude of the other people in this office toward the tech that makes my head spin the fastest.


DiamondGirl took pity on me and walked me through the hour-long process of getting the non-responsive server to respond.

We did, at least, get it to boot up and now we can access it from the 'net. I can't actually get into it (Bernie's all-important "picture") from the server closet, but that's because the box has decided that keyboards are the devil's playthings.

I just don't care any more.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 5, 2006
Stoopid Update

Okay, I've rebooted the server four times, cleaned out about 50 MG worth of message attachments from my account, and now I'm trying to clean out the spam catch-all account, but I can't keep the server running for long enough. I'm also running disk clean-up on the server to see if we can compress it any further and free up any space.

This is not my fault. I cannot fix this and the next person who asks me, "what should we do" is getting trouble.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

Yo. You scaredy-cats!

I told 'em and I told 'em and I told 'em this was gonna happen.

Exchange is down today - which means no e-mail.

Bernie and Buehler keep asking me what to do and I keep repeating, "I don't know." I tried to explain to them, back when they did it, that getting rid of all the tech people would not magically turn me into a network administrator, but they insisted everything would be peachy-keen and it wouldn't be a problem. They could hire someone, they said, if necessary. A company that could come by and help us if we had problems. But of course they never quite got around to it. And now there are problems.

I can, of course, reboot the server. And I'm doing it. But so could they and what I can't understand is why they felt I was the only one who could push the button? All I can do is push the button and I'm fairly certain their fingers all work just as well as mine.

They're afraid, that's what it is. They want the button pushed, but they're afraid to push it themselves.


P.S. Okay, later Buehler said I was being "pissy" about the problem. I have to say I like how he can be afraid to push the button and it's okay, but if I'm afraid to push the button, I'm "pissy."

Posted by AnneZook at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Okay, fine

Okay, so he's a crazy man and I was twice as crazy to agree to stay.

Fortunately for me, "sanity" isn't a prerequisite for citizenship in this country.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:08 PM | Comments (8)

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Coffee Buzz or Panic Attack? (You make the call.)

The R.C. gifted me with a nifty new coffee cup today. As I left for work, I found a blindingly white box on the seat of my car and the coffee cup (with the saying from the title of this post) was inside. Isn't that just so me? Heh. I brought it to the office washed it, and poured this morning's latte into it.

It's a bit odd to drink from a cup. I've been drinking from travel mugs for years. I'm thinking maybe I'm old enough to learn to drink from a cup that doesn't have a lid and a sippy hole in it, though.

(I haven't found an anonymous present on the seat of my car in the morning since the day after my 21st birthday, when I found a dozen long-stemmed red roses and no card.)

Well, Bernie may and/or may not be in today. He arrived back home last night but the last time I was talking to him, I advised him not to bother to come in today. :) No, not just because he can be a pain. He's had four plane rides in the last four days, and worked two shows, one of which was pretty large. If my own travel experience is any guide, he's due for a major adrenaline-crash.

Anyhow. I pointed out that anything he needs to do today can be done via phone or e-mail.

So. What else is new?

Today's Big Task involves bookkeeping - I have to try to post expenses (Bernie's and mine) from the last four months. I've posted expenses only once before, many months ago, and I have only a vague memory of the process. I hate doing bookkeeping. So far I've gotten as far as logging into the program but that's it.

The truth is, I have very few things on my tasks list at the moment. After the chaos that was the first three weeks of this month (and last month), my list is remarkably short until at least some of those 130 rentals get shipped back to us so I can offload the data and start doing reports and suchlike.

Since the company is in a slack time, it would be a very good time to start job-hunting, no? Which reminds me that I have not yet gone shopping to buy something suitable for job interviews. The last three companies I've worked for have been extremely casual, to the point where the fact that I almost never wear jeans makes me look grossly overdressed.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, September 25, 2006
Ain't It A Shame?

I deeply regret the loss of my brain. Never more so than when I wander into the office on a Monday morning and am abruptly reminded that I made some commitment to do something for work over the weekend...and forgot all about it by the time I slid into my car on Friday afternoon.

I hate walking into a firestorm, even a small one, first thing on Monday morning. It starts the week off so awkwardly. This time, after I talked someone else into doing a draft of a project over the weekend, I was supposed to read a proof and forward it to the client by Sunday afternoon. I...completely forgot about it. It was all there, in my in-box, this morning. And on my voicemail. So embarrassing.

I never used to have this much difficulty remembering that I'm employed. It used to be a routine thing for me to check my business e-mail three or four times over the course of a weekend.

Should I pretend this is a good thing, that I've learned to focus on my personal life as diligently as I do on my professional life (when I'm in the office), or should I be concerned that this is some danger signal from my abruptly aging brain and start taking quack herbal medications to stave off dementia?

If I cared more, I'd probably be concerned. At the moment though, I'm leaning toward the, "there is only one of me" defense.

Bernie was leaving for two consecutive Conferences and I had Friday blocked out to produce all of that last-minute paper that inevitably becomes critical before such a trip. After producing an estimated 6 inch pile of such paper, and at about 2:00 in the afternoon, Bernie announced that the Project Database (due 9/28) suddenly just had to be done by Monday morning. He e-mailed me 41 files with a request that I convert all the data to spreadsheets and clean it up to go into a database by the end of the day. Project Proof, the one I should be been shepherding over the weekend, slid right out of my brain.)

It's so annoying because this project has very flexible deadlines and I know it. After all, Bernie's been intending to produce the database for the last three years. It would hardly have stopped the sun in its rotation, reversed entropy, and destroyed the universe as we know it to offer to send it to the client on, say, October 2. Just because, after all these years, the client was actually asking for the aforementioned database does not make it an emergency to produce it. (The fact that the client requested it two weeks ago and Bernie forgot for a week still doesn't make it an emergency.)

Of course, this all comes back to the same root. There's no reason we can't do two projects at once except that there is only one of me. With the best will in the world (which I freely admit I do not actually possess) I cannot pretend to be four people. And, since I'm neither 20 any more, nor do I see any incentive to put in 12-hour days or work weekends, I cannot see any reason to product more work than, say, the average two employees can during any particular week.

(If you're wondering? Yes. There was a point at which there were three people doing the jobs DiamondGirl and the Tweenybopper were doing. Then it went down to just the two of them and some of the work just stopped getting done. Now there's just me - I've picked up much of the stuff the Tweenybopper couldn't get done and I'm doing part of what DiamondGirl did. So I am at least two employees every day already.)

And yet...human nature being what it is...I fear the job hunt. I fear the rejection of potential employers gazing at me across the imposing expanse of a paper-filled desk and mentally filing me away as, "too old" or "not technical enough" or "unlikely to be flexible" or "probably won't work hard" because I am not too old, I'm nore technical than most people, and I'm a lot more flexible on the job and work harder than my rants about Bernie would indicate.

(After all, my complaints about it all today aside, I did actually convert 37 of those files and send them to the Database Guy Friday afternoon. The only reason I didn't do them all was because the remaining ones didn't include that that matched Bernie's datamap in any way. ) (And I'm flexible. Of the last four jobs I've had, all four of them required me to learn one or more proprietary software program, most of them well enough to train other people to use them.)

Still. I fear rejection. It came as a very great shock to me earlier this year to realize I'm Very Nearly Getting Old, you know.

Also, I really, sincerely regret that I forgot Project Proof this weekend.


P.S. I like good bread. You know how I know I'm eating good bread? I'm eating good bread when I like the crusts.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I like Mike

PoodleBoy is getting on my nerves today, although just in a minor way.

I keep asking him to send me e-mails with instructions on doing this and that, because I'm writing an addendum to the user manual for one of our proprietary software products, and he keeps calling me on the phone, wanting to explain it all verbally.

I don't do transcription, PoodleBoy. When I say, "write it down," that's what I mean.

I am irritated by people who think writing something down is too much work. The truth is, if you can't write it down, 90% of the time it's because you don't really know what you're saying. Please don't call me and babble until I make sense out of gibberish. Calm your brain, organize your thoughts, and write it down.




The client who thought our demand to have text for their email 72 hours before they wanted it sent out (for edits and coding) was unreasonable, and who swore that if we could give them a 24-hour turnaround, they'd send us absolutely immaculate text in a pre-formatted template?

Has been frantically trying to get their text right and their template functional since yesterday morning. I've received two or three sets of changes and now our contact, who works on a Mac is realizing that their template doesn't display correctly on a Mac.

We tried. They're not getting any more promises of 24-hour turnaround. If DiamondGirl worked on staff and was here all day, every day, maybe we could do it, but she has a real job and she can't keep trying to sneak "rush" projects for us into her work schedule every day. It's just not right to her employer. Of course, we can't tell the client that because we're not allowed to let them know that Bernie's "staff" consists of me and two part-time contract employees.

I'm a bit worried about Bernie. He tried to get me to sit in on a call with that potential new product, the one he's going to be repping. (Needs a name...we'll call it Looney Tunes.)

Okay, so he tried to get me to sit in on a Looney Tunes conference call today, so I'd know what it was all about, and he wants to meet about a new project (with the old product) that's supposed to start in January.*

I think Bernie forgot that I've essentially handed in my notice. He does have a gift for believing what he wants to be true, instead of what's true.

Still. It's MountainMike day. Treats! That's a cheerful thought. (I really need to get back on the diet and drop another ten pounds.) (In the meantime, I bought pistachios and dry-roasted sunflower seeds.)

I sure am glad it's Payday Week. I sent a big check to my credit card company last week and I'm almost broke. I'm determined to pay that card off by the end of the year, though. It's keeping me a bit short of cash but there's nothing I really need to buy and I'm still holding (reasonably) firmly to my new resolution to stop buying stuff just for the sake of shopping.

And I got the last of the surveys boxed up yesterday, ready to ship out today, so that's the last of the huge projects for this month completed. I have a handful of small projects and a new tedious and time-consuming but not difficult project that Bernie handed me yesterday still on my plate, but I'm feeling much less stressed.

Also, now that I've fulfilled what my conscience saw as my duty to stay and get Bernie though the September crush, I'm free to job-hunt. I've dusted off the old resume so I guess I have no reason now not to get on with it.

Except! I have nothing to wear to a job interview.

I'd better go shopping this weekend.


* Speaking of things that annoy me?

He's bored of our current crop of clients and trying to get Looney Tunes up and running. And that's fine. But our current crop of clients are paying us, some of them a significant amount, and someone has to do their work.

He should stop getting mad at me because I am working on their stuff.

I strongly suspect that he wants to tell me I have to focus on what he's working on and any of my work I can't get done while I'm "being available," I should just do after he leaves for the day. For two cents, I'd explain to him that I am not willing to sit here, being available all day, and then put in a hard eight hours after he leaves at 4:00. (Nor is it possible for me to do all of this when he's not in the office, since he goes mental if he calls my desk and I don't pick up the phone.)

You know, really, I'm not annoyed today. I think writing whiny blog posts is just a habit.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Even with Bernie leaving me alone, this job wears me out sometimes. Since I've been here, I've been coding about two survey jobs a month. In the first two weeks of September, I've coded five so far.

I'm taking a break at the moment before I put together a survey revision for yet another client whose three jobs, thankfully, aren't due until early November. Two of these are huge - 150 questions +/-, mostly due to the client's insistence on repeating themselves multiple times on successive screens. It's a pain to code that one.

And while I wait for approval from a client whose survey, if approved, I need to load and test on fifty boxes by Tuesday.

And while I wait for a shipment to arrive, from a client who announced today that they need their results in 4 days, instead of the usual ten. (I need to practice pretend-uploading for that one - it requires using a program I haven't used in that way before and, as I understand it, doing it wrong will erase all the client's data. Very exciting to contemplate, no?)

I simply cannot imagine, if I'd gotten in a snit and walked out, I simply cannot imagine how Bernie could have coped.

So, Lotto is up to, what? $137,000,000? What would you do if you won it Saturday night? Would you show up for work on Monday? Would you give notice and work it out (I mean, really work)?

The R.C. and her co-workers have apparently been debating this. Her supervisor is so convinced of her own value to their company that she announced she'd stay to see out the end of the project due in Februrary, 2007.

The R.C. said she'd leave a voice-mail announcing her never-to-returnness.

Me, I'd stay here through the end of September. While I can't imagine finding myself so irreplaceable that I'd stay in a position for five or six months, I also couldn't reconcile it with my conscience not to stay a measly couple of weeks for a company that's in a bind and that has, by and large, been good to me. (Yeah, okay, Bernie hasn't been especially good to me, but let's remember that Buehler owns 75% of this enterprise and he's been very good to me.)

I don't anticipate winning Lotto this weekend, even though the R.C. has actually remembered to purchase a ticket, but I'm hoping to win my own little job lottery next month. Just as soon as I've quieted my conscience (which I'm anticipating will be around September 27), I'm hitting the job sites daily. (Yeah, I could do it now, but in the unlikely event I ran across a company moving fast and they called me in a couple of days for an interview, the bottom line truth is that I don't have time to go on interviews between now and the 27th.)

(For those wondering about today's blog entry and my work ethic? This has largely been written in two-minute intervals while I wait for a program to periodically rebuild. So I'm not wasting company time. Precisely. And if it reads sort of choppy, well, that's the explanation.)

(When did some of us in this society actually become so firmly programmed to believe that if we're not doing at least two things at once, we're not doing anything? Why can I not just sit here, stare at the wall, and ponder Plot Point Problems while I wait for the program to rebuild? Why does thinking not count as "productive"?) (Okay, I consider personal time spent thinking as productive. I just realized that I don't think of work time spent thinking as productive.)

(Apparently I'm having one of my parenthetical days.)

Yes, as a matter of fact, referring back to the opening paragraph of this little entry, you'll see reference to Bernie "leaving me alone." He has, in fact, refrained from annoying the hell out of me ever since the day I told him I wasn't having fun and I wasn't planning to stay.

It's very odd.

It'th altho a thame that you can't bandagth your tongue.

I bit the heck out of mine the other evening and it still hurts.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 31, 2006
I'm Not Your Beck and Call Girl

My apologies to those of you who are less-than fascinated with the soap opera of my office life. Bernie and I are having another little moment, and I'm here to vent.

He's an ungrateful little shit. Not content with the fact that I'm doing the Tweenybopper's job without hysteria or lesser trauma, that I've picked up what little I can understand of DiamondGirl's job, that I'm on top of, even ahead of schedule for September's commitments, which are the heaviest in the history of the company, along with 'managing' a free-lance worker and doing the research for two new projects, both of which are going to land squarely on my desk, he's now bitching and moaning because when he's not in the office, I'm not always at my desk when he calls.

Those of you who have been with us for a while may remember that I mentioned the Tweenybopper volunteering to work remotely when she moved to Philadelphia, and Bernie declining the offer because her job can't be done entirely from a computer - there's a fair amount of actual, physical stuff to be done here in the office.

Now, however, he has decided that he's "too old to be embarrassed" and when he's out on a "sales call" to someone's office, I need to be at my desk, for a minimum of 3-4 hours, so that if he has a need for me for any reason, he can reach me.

You know, I'm sorry if he's embarrassed by his woeful lack of understanding of the products his company supposedly sells, but I think there's an easier fix than having 50% of the staff off-line and unproductive any time he's afraid someone will ask him a question. I've been here for six months. He's been here for six years. How has he managed not to figure out what the products do in all that time?

I'm all the more annoyed because time when he's out of the office is usually my most productive time. I tear through a ton of work when he's not here, being needy.

Also, he stated firmly that if he says he'll call me at 9:15 some morning, if haven't heard from him by 9:16, I need to be "concerned" and to be calling him up to see what the problem is. (His idea, among other things, is that someone might be "talking to him" and he might not be watching the time. So, basically, I'm to make a long-distance call to be his alarm clock.)

I continue to be somewhat amazed by all of this. I've never worked with a two year-old before. I've only ever worked with adults.

You know, the kind of people who, if they're in sales, make sure they know the features of the products they sell.

The kind of people who, when they make an appointment, consider it to be mostly their own responsibility to keep it, especially once they get to the point where they've already arrived at the client's office.

The kind of people who don't keep saying, again and again, I know you're not my secretary/personal assistant, but I need you to act like one.

The kind of people who, if they hire you to provide sales support, don't get pissy with you because you can't provide network support.

I keep mentioning "sales" in quotes that way when I talk about Bernie because I've now been privileged (ahem) to hear him doing a presentation to a potentially huge client (that was Tuesday's call) and I found myself...just so underwhelmed that I can't really find the words to express it at the moment.

(DiamondGirl and I chatted about his "sales" ability one time and she did mention that she'd never known him to make a sale. All of the clients he has he either inherited from the parent company or were referred to us by one of those three clients. After listening to him the other day, I can't really say I'm surprised.)


Considering that he combined the above hissy fit with the news that he's switching to his wife's insurance coverage and that if our current provider won't continue to cover me, I'll have to find alternate insurance (although he did offer to pay part of it) and the news that he's either going to get into a snit and quit at the end of September, or the end of the year, and I suddenly find myself startlingly free of the guilt I was feeling about job-hunting right now, before the busiest four weeks the company has ever had kick off.

It occurred to me the other day (have I mentioned this before?) that between the pay cut Bernie handed me, the loss of my 401K, and inflation over the last 3-4 years, I've lost approximately 25% of my salary since the day I first met this bunch o'crazies. It's just not worth the price.

I just feel certain there has to be another office out there who needs an office manager / shipping and receiving clerk / bookkeeper / cleaner / receptionist / account exec / customer technical support rep / mail clerk / software tester / etc. / etc. / etc. I even feel reasonably certain that a company needing this person won't get snippy with them when they find themselves unable to provide babysitting services as well.

Who knows? Since I actually have over a decade of experience as an Account Exec? Maybe someone out there actually needs those skills?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:56 AM | Comments (2)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
That Which Annoys

One of the things that's always annoyed me in my 'professional' life have been the not-infrequent demands on the part of one supervisor or another for me to "sit in" on a presentation "just in case."

"Just in case" of what, I've always wondered?

Bernie pulled that one this morning. He was on-site in a client's office, doing an online presentation to them and another person who was connecting to the meeting remotely. I was required to sit through the 1-1/4 hour tedium "just in case."

I mean, all that could go wrong was for the client's network to go down or for Bernie to be asked a question he didn't know the answer to and I fail to see how having me on the phone could have been useful in either situation. I know nothing about networks and I know nothing about the new product idea Bernie was presenting.

Also, Bernie does lame presentations and while I'm not a salesperson myself, I've been privileged to work with some really good ones in my career and it's painful to me to listen to entirely lame presentations.

Thank goodness for the "mute" button on my digital phone.

While grousing mentally about the gross waste of time (and the death of several brain cells), I fixed and ate my breakfast, took a bathroom break, wandered outdoors to have a cigarette, played at least ten games of Spider Solitaire, and answered a few e-mails.

So, you know, not entirely time lost. Just time lost to doing anything productive.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, August 25, 2006
Dear Bernie:

I begrudge everyone everything today but nothing as much as I begrudge you taking up three and a half hours of my day to learn a software program any average rodent could have learned in fifteen or thirty minutes.

The proper sales-related use of PowerPoint is to create an informative and enticing presentation for when you cannot be on-site at a client's location. This presentation should whet their appetites and encourage them to ask for or allow a "real" presentation, or at least call and ask for details and pricing.

When used in a live presentation, no PowerPoint screen should exceed 6 words. In a pinch you can go to 10, but when you hit 15 or more, you can be certain your audience is reading and not listening to you. It is not the proper use of PowerPoint to write a full-fledged proposal on all the minute features of your product in 14 pt text on twenty screens. (Especially not when you insist on using four font colors and three typefaces.) Nor is it actually a "sales presentation" for you to subsequently sit and read these screens to a captive audience.

The proper use of online conferencing/sales software is to show clients graphics and/or interactive demonstrations of your product. It is not to force ten people to sit at their desks and read your "PowerPoint presentation" of all the minute features of your product and listen to you read them all twenty screens of text.

But almost more than that, I begrudge the ten minutes of mine you wasted explaining to me how you were too busy to send out a fax today, so you needed me to do it for you.

I also begrudge the fact that you sent me the text for an e-mail in one document, the client's e-mail address in another document, and then e-mailed me to tell me to send the client the text of the e-mail. I wonder if it will ever in your life occur to you that you would have saved us both fifteen minutes and me a lot of stress if you'd just sent the client the damned e-mail yourself?

Today I have not completed your weekly bookkeeping update, I have not downloaded the client's database info for sending to the database administrator, I have not completed coding the job that's due out next Wednesday, I have not contacted those six other people about sending us database information, and I have not called any of those 40-50 potential new clients to find out for you precisely whose name you should use when calling and the best day and time to contact them.

And, if you ever ask my why I did not get to tasks such as these today, I will beat your pointy little head in with my rolling chair.

Your (very nearly ex-) employee

Posted by AnneZook at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Nonproductive Addendum

What I need is to go back to 4-10s. I used to work a job where I worked ten hours a day, but I only had to work four days a week. Thus, I had a three-day weekend every week.

What my life needs is more three-day weekends. I need more days off.

Granted, I already have difficulty staying motivated or interested in what I'm doing for eight hours a day, so I can't honestly say my employer would gain, or even come out even, on the productivity scale if I were sitting here for ten hours, but this is All About Me, so I'm not so much worried about that part of the equation.

Yesterday, for instance, Bernie requested a 1:00 meeting. (He always requests 1:00 meetings. He, like many people, takes it as a personal affront that I eat lunch at 1:00 instead of at high noon.) That, and the morning's conference call, were the only things on my agenda. I had things I could dink around with, but no actual work to do that inspired the slightest amount of enthusiasm in my Monday Morning Brain.

Oh, wait. I forgot. Bernie wanted me to find out how much it would cost a client to run a Google Ad (keywords undetermined) in one, or maybe two major markets (not really chosen yet) for some time period that he's not sure about yet. I started to try to do the impossible and figure this out, but then common sense kicked in and I just told him he could run a really quality experiment for $500/month. (Who knows? Maybe he can. If and when he decides what ad to run in what market....) I was pretty excited about that one.

Okay, I don't mind working with the Merely Stupid, especially since I fall into the category myself, from time to time, but working with the Stubbornly Clueless really annoys me. (One time I told him it wasn't possible to do a similar project under these circumstances and he got in a huff, called the vendor himself, gave them all the details he told me that he didn't have, and then returned, triumphant, to my desk to announce that he hadn't found it at all difficult to complete the "impossible" project. How I refrained from slaying him, I'll never understand.)

Yesterday's other Ridiculously Vague Project involved giving him a time schedule for how soon this week I'll talk to some people who have, as he well knows, refused to answer my e-mails and phone calls for several days already, and what results I'll get from them if and when they do ever talk to me. (Yeah, let me send Og The Enforcer over to their offices and force them to talk to me and, while I'm at it, let me gaze into my crystal ball and find out what they're going to say when they do.)

And, finally (there were several idiot projects, once I stopped to think about it), I had to find the names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and specific best method of individually contacting 40-50 people in his latest brainstorm, an industry we have no experience with. Mind you, it's not enough to identify the specific organizations and their contact info - he wants me to call and find out the name of the people he should talk to.

You know what I dislike? I dislike working with a "sales person" who doesn't want to do the work associated with making a sale. If "selling" involved nothing but calling a vetted list of names in a narrowly defined field of potentials, anyone could do it. At least half the battle is figuring out who you need to talk to inside any organization. The ability and the willingness to do that kind of thing is why good sales people make $150,000/year. (I've had this experience before. What happens is I call and ask who we should talk to about doing X and instead of getting a name, I get transferred to this person's voicemail or, worse, to this person directly. So I wind up doing the sales call.)

Subsequently, in our 1:00 meeting he expressed disappointment at my inability to learn to write SQL queries on the fly, to get into a client's database so we could copy it, to produce creative and original marketing plans at the drop of a hat, to create forms in .asp or .php for use on another client's website, so that newly submitted data would write directly into the database being maintained by a database guy somewhere else in a format/program I'm not sure about, and my unwillingness to work for 5 hours on Labor Day, on a project that could just as easily be done later in the week.

It isn't that I don't actually have the time to do some of those things right now, and it isn't that I'm incapable of doing at least some of them, because I do and I'm not. I just resent doing half his job, along with the half of DiamondGirl's that I inherited on top of the two people's jobs I was already doing.

I'm grouchy this week, aren't I?

What else? Anything good to report?

Last night I wallowed in the comfort of the Newly Tidy Living Room and thought smug thoughts about all of those bags of stuff in the dumpster instead of underfoot. It might have been a better wallow had the R.C. not kept mentioning all of the things left to be done, but I managed a decent wallow anyhow.

I was not online at any point. By now I'm so hopelessly behind on reading my usual online sites that I have no hope of ever catching up. I like those sites and I'd like to get caught up. I just don't have any hope of doing so.

Nope. I don't think there's that much good to report at the moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:27 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 10, 2006
Teach me this.

"I'm sorry, you have the wrong number. This is not the circus."

In Spanish. Anyone?

Posted by AnneZook at 04:53 PM | Comments (2)

I'm Calmer Today

In retrospect, I could have made a better entry out of that.

Me, schlepping around in the Great Outdoors cursing the lack of air conditioning and trying not to step in any thing that looked like...something you shouldn't step in.

My cell phone stubbornly refusing to work when I tried to call the locksmith, proving that having a cell "in case of emergency" is a waste of time.

The woman designated to go around the site with me and help me pick everything up declining to leave the comfort of her air conditioned office and choosing instead to stand in the doorway and point out the various places I needed to visit.

Making five trips by foot to the farthest site (forgot the list of where things are, forgot the packing case to put it all in, forgot the key to the padlock, had the wrong key to the padlock) before the idea of driving percolated through my heat-frazzled brain.

The padlock that refused to unlock, resulting in me wasting fifteen minutes trying to cut through the unbreakable/un-cuttable cable for. (I wound up damaging the cable and eventually coaxing the padlock to surrender.)

I'm sure there's something funny in there somewhere. I'll let you know when it occurs to me.

Got one of those snippy little e-mails from Bernie this morning - this one essentially accusing me of intentionally making his life harder and sabotaging his business trip by not realizing he'd changed subjects without warning in the middle of an e-mail exchange.

A brief moment of irritation and a quick look at produce the information that I can work in Japan, teaching English, for a whopping $26k a year. I think not.

Anyhow, job-hunting on company time is wrong.

Update, much later.... You know, call me silly, but it actually seems to me that if you send a client an e-mail and get a return receipt that they've read it, you don't really need me to call them and ask them if they read it.

Also, if you sent a potential client an e-mail discussing the details of some agreement I haven't been involved in and don't know anything about, it makes more sense for you to follow up with them to see if they have any questions than it does for me to do it.

One assumes you're trying to look "professional" and give the impression that this company is larger than it is, but the end result is that we look like a bunch of disorganized lunatics.

(Also? While we're discussing stupid? Stupid is sending a client an e-mail, then asking me to call them and tell them you sent an e-mail. Do you have any idea just how stupid that is? I know you don't trust technology, but considering that you're trying to sell these clients on technology solutions to their problems, it might be better if you didn't let them know it.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Guess What's In the Middle Of the Road?

8:30 - Arrive at office, check e-mail, check voicemail, etc., etc., etc.

8:45 - Proofread changes to client's website, send DiamondGirl multiple e-mails outlining the things she's forgotten to upload or just not done. IM exchange wherein she makes it clear she's tired of doing "hourly" work for us now that she has a new job. I refrain from mentioning that I told her when she agreed to it that she was crazy.

9:15 - Go to bathroom, take packing case down to car, prepare glass of ice water for road trip.

9:30 - Head out on trip, realize I have no idea where I'm going, return to office, MapQuest destination, leave again.

9:45 - Drive north for several years while I contemplate whether or not I woke up in a Hell dimension this morning. Eventually the sight of a Starbucks sign convinces me that I'm not in Hell, just getting too close to Wyoming.

10:55 - Arrive at destination, make contact with client and find out locations of products to be retrieved.

Refrain from cursing Bernie (out loud, anyhow) as I realize he's spread the 17 product boxes over seven locations in what has to be the world's hilliest fairgrounds. Demand and receive permission to drive onto fairgrounds, so I don't have to haul 195 lbs worth of equipment around.

11:05 - Discover I've locked my keys in my car. I was wrong. It is a Hell dimension.

11:25 - Locksmith arrives and lets me into my car. I pack the products I've collected so far into the trunk.

11:30 - 12:37 - I walk halfway down the fair site to "the big tent" only to discover that the padlock key in my pocket doesn't fit the lock on the product boxes. Return to car and retrieve different lock. Halfway back to the "big tent" I remember that I received permission to drive onto the grounds. Return to car, drive to site, get product boxes. (Glance in mirror and realize that not stopping for more water on the drive was a bad idea. Based on my coloring, I can't be too far from yet another minor run-in with heat exhaustion.)

Retrieve product boxes from the other five locations, then return to first location as I realize I forgot one product box. Many bits and pieces are tossed loose into the car. Where did Bernie hide that other product case?

In spite of temperatures climbing over 95, the lack of shade or air conditioning, the absence of ice water, and the presence of far too much dirt that has the unmistakable pong of dried cow chips, I do not run over the six children who have decided that fun equals walking as slowly as they can move side-by-side down the driving lane, laughing over their shoulders at any cars that get stuck behind them.

12:45 - Return to client office to demand and receive the other packing case they "forgot about" when I was there earlier. Stop to pack all of the loose product boxes and accoutrements into this packing case.

2:00 - Arrive back at office, still flushed and feverish in spite of car's A/C and a huge glass of ice water procured along the way.

Unpack debris from car and dump into shipping room. Suck down more ice water.

2:30 - Write long, whiny blog entry about my sucky day.

And yes, there was a dead skunk.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:49 PM | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Theoretically...if you worked from 8:30 - 5:00? And there was something to be done one day, that needed to be done between 8:00 and 5:00? Would you go do it at 8:00 if your boss was out of town, and then leave half an hour early that day?

Theoretically, if you had something to be done one day that involved an hour-long drive, instead of your usual 20-30 minute commute, would you do the driving on your time or the office's time?

These are the kinds of things I never used to consider before I worked for someone who monitors my every breath and constantly suspects me of lying about the work I'm doing. I find that, if closely watched, I'm reluctant to do business tasks during my personal time. I don't drop off business bank deposits on my way home any more and I don't use my lunch hour to go to the post office or the office supply store.

Brooding.... I've already lost fifteen minutes today and it's not even 10. I can't account for what I was working on. I have now officially wasted six minutes trying to figure out what I was doing during those fifteen minutes. (Which just goes to prove that timecards are bad for productivity.)

(And I've wasted five minutes blogging about it, which might just prove that someone should be keeping an eye on my productivity.)

Today's tasks include transcription, a thing I loathe, and bookkeeping, a thing that bores me and that I'm bad at. Also, researching the cost of buying more of a custom-made product that no one here seems to remember where they bought in the first place, as well as the whereabouts of a small gadget they can't quite describe and that might not actually be in the office any more.

At the moment, the idea of doing the bookkeeping bores me fractionally less than the rest of the list.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2006

It's supposed to storm later. I can feel the extra humidity, even inside our hygienically sealed modern office building.

The R.C., who remains bitter about the lack of sunshine, the near-constant drizzle, and the cool temperatures we had on the cruise, was a little bitter on the forecast for rain. Me, I don't mind Colorado rain as much. You only get clouds while it's raining (and sometimes not even then) and it's very rare that even a rainy day doesn't also provide a few hours of glorious sunshine. Also, it beats the heck out of 95-100 degree temperatures.

I suppose there's some work I could be doing at the moment. I haven't really surveyed my desk yet today. I am drinking coffee, a necessary component of working for a living, and letting my mind run through my vague memories of last week to see if anything "urgent" pops to the surface. (It would be more to the point to check my notes and my tasks list, but not nearly as peaceful.)

Okay, guilt is setting in....

Later.... Waste of time. My tasks list consists of something I can't do until Wednesday, something I need to do on the 28th, a phone call I've been avoiding for a month already, something I can't move ahead on until Bernie makes a decision, and an e-mail that Bernie intends to write. Not exactly earth-shaking stuff.

I remember the Mad Doctor popped up at 4:50 last Friday with a letter to go out, but since neither he nor Bernie has seen fit to provide me with the insert that desperately needed to be enclosed, I can't feel much urgency around that one.

Heard from DiamondGirl last week as well. She's not liking the new job. She says she'd rather be back here, fighting with Bernie, than sitting there cutting and pasting all day. (I feel queasy at the thought.... Now that I've browbeaten Bernie into timidity, I'm not really thrilled about the idea of going back to the Bad Old Days.) It never fails to amaze me how little the people doing the hiring know about what any particular position inside a company actually entails on a daily basis. She's had a couple of other interviews, though, and thinks she may get an offer from one that she really likes the sound of.

I'm still on the fence about job-hunting myself. On the one hand, this job is boring and stupid and what work there is neither challenges nor interests me. On the other hand, I'd rather not be out there again, after only five months of employment.

Maybe I've find someone willing to pay me what I like to think I'm worth? (That 20% pay cut still rankles.)

Part of me knows that Bernie really would like to close down the company and admit defeat. But I also know that he has contractual commitments through mid-November, so he can't. Also, if the Latest Hot Project comes through, he could easily regain his enthusiasm for the whole thing, you know? (We had a talk about it one day and I pointed out that owning your own company isn't the joy that people think it is. By now, he gets that, but now he has this fantasy that he can be a "consultant" and then all of his problems will be solved. Whatever.)

One of the things I meant to do (and didn't get around to because of trying to get through my reading backlog) this weekend was to hit the job sites just to see what's out there. DiamondGirl says there's a lot on and, oddly enough, craigslist, a site I've never really investigated.

I should do that.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 3, 2006
Wotta Week

As usual, I've been back from vacation for three days and I'm having trouble remembering now how nice and relaxed I was a scant 72 hours ago. Bernie isn't wigging out, fortunately. He's even developed a mild sense of humor while I had my back turned. Just a lot of work waiting for me.

I'm largely caught up today. All that's left are the bits and pieces - things that got pushed aside because they were small (that's what I've been working on this morning) and one larger project I keep avoiding because I don't understand what's going on. (I really should spend some time on that.)

I can see it's going to be another one of those days when I can't figure out how to fill out my time. I've been here for 2-1/2 hours and I've been working but I can't account for all the time. (No, the three minutes I spent typing these three paragraphs do not count.)

Time passes....

Now it's 2:00 in the afternoon and I've lost an entire hour.

I know I did some other work than what I made notes on today, but I sure can't remember what it was. Just, you know, stuff.

I wonder what Bernie would do if I put down an hour or two under "don't know - probably dinking around" some day? Or even just, "general messing around"? Sigh. Considering that he "works from home" two days a week, of which (if the phone/IM/e-mail trail is to be trusted) he works about 4 hours, I find it annoying that he thinks I can account for every minute of my day.

(Also, since he has a bad habit of underbidding jobs based on how long he thinks it should take things to get done, instead of how long he's been told, over and over, it actually takes, I'm sometimes tempted to find some other way to code actual productive time. But that's not today's problem, since I have no billable work to work on.)

I know other people have to do this in their jobs, but I find it hard to code the time spent washing dishes or cleaning out the refrigerator or sweeping the shipping room floor or looking for e-mails from before I worked here to try and figure out how to do some project, or just sitting and thinking about e-mails I get from clients.

And sometimes I forget to watch the clock so I don't know what time it was when I stopped one project and started another. I've been here for five months and I still haven't learned to do that all the time. (I have never been a clock-watcher and I hate it that this job is trying to turn me into one. I come in, I work until I get tired, then I check the clock and usually find out I should have gone home half an hour ago, so I pack up and go home. The next day I repeat the process. The only thing this "timecard" situation is doing is making sure I leave at 5:00 on the dot every day.) (Yes, it's been five months and I'm still grouchy about having to do this.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Final Day WIG-OUT!

Today, Bernie asked me how to: (1) print a letter, (2) use a luggage cart, (3) and put something in the mail.

Then he loaded up boxes on the luggage cart and took them out to his car, so he could drop them off at the client's tomorrow. Five minutes later he pulled the whole load back in and confessed that he forgot he'd taken the bus today.

I'm starting to get a little worried about how he's going to fare while I'm gone, you know?

Then he informed me that he'd be sending me to Larimer Square to buy some weirdo gimmick gift he wanted to send to a potential client.

(I evinced no enthusiasm. My excitement over going out and running around town during a workday ebbed as gasoline climbed over $3/gallon and the thermometer over 95 degrees.)

(He subsequently decided to do it himself, tomorrow. It's amazing how much less "urgent" some of these rush-rush-rush projects are when he has to do them himself.)

Also, when a client said they didn't have time to do an add-on survey project, he badgered them until they threw some questions at him. When they didn't respond to his request for answers, he made some up.

I understand that the more surveys we do for a client, they more they pay us, but I think he really crosses the line sometimes. If he hadn't forgotten about this project until two days ago, it could have been done two weeks ago, and done properly.

I guess it's partly my fault. The lines aren't really clear where what he intends to take responsibility for ends and my responsibility begins. I've thought a time or two about talking to him about it, but I know that it will inevitably lead to the revelation that he wants to be done with the clients after he gets their signature on an Agreement and I'm not prepared to let that be said, finally and completely. There is only one of me, and I am the last remaining employee in a company set-up that now has three "owners". There are days when the mindless clerical shit eats up six hours of my day. I can't commit to actually doing the job he hired me to do because I frequently just don't have time.

Also, since I'm seriously considering leaving after my vacation, I have a vague feeling that it's "unfair" of me to start things I don't intend to finish. He needs to keep his hands on all of these projects so he will know where everything stands after I'm gone (hopefully without a huge delay).

Right now, he's out there walking two blocks in the 90-degree heat so he can buy something he just decided is critically important to make a job that doesn't start for two weeks to be successful. Anyone else would have waited until they had their car, or the temperature dropped to around 75, which it's supposed to do in a couple of days.


C-2! Two more days!

Major tasks left undone: Laundry, put Mom's address and the L-i-K-S address in my stripped-down wallet so I can send postcards, get cash from the bank, call and arrange for a cab at 5:45 a.m. on Friday.


Decide what clothes to take.

Update: Okay, so I'm sitting here trying to work my way through a horrendously complicated charting program and he's interrupting me every ten seconds because he wants something printed. And then he decided to print it himself rather than wait ten minutes, but he couldn't figure out how, so I had to go teach him.

And then he wanted me to send a fax but it could not, could not, no, could not wait ten minutes, so he faxed it himself, then he came back and interrupted me again to say he wanted me to call her and make sure the client received the fax. And then he interrupted me again to say he watched the fax machine and it said it went through.

FYI, these were copies of documents the client told him earlier today that she'd received.

Boy, am I glad it's almost time to leave.

(P.S. Just FYI, comments will be closed tomorrow and remain closed for the duration of my absence. I have no intention of allowing the sp*mmers to go mad at my expense while I'm gone.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Today's Hissy-fit

Bernie's in a snit. Again.

We paid a vendor, the check was written and mailed on 6/21. Today they told us they didn't get it.

He's blaming me.

Without going into tedious details, let me mention that when I tell you a bill was paid via check #such-and-such? If you go look at the checkbook yourself, I'm going to assume you're assuming I'm just wantonly lying to you. And it's going to piss me off.

Also he's mad at me because when he "does the books" on the weekends, he doesn't bother to reconcile the bank statement and check to see what checks have been cashed or deposited and suchlike, so he didn't know this check wasn't ever cashed.

Precisely how the post office presumably losing a check or him not "doing the books" in the approve manner are my fault is a mystery to me, but he's been slamming around here, muttering under his breath for 20 minutes.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:11 PM | Comments (2)

Friday, July 7, 2006
Dear Bernie:

You laid off the tech person with the excuse that we didn't have work for a full-time tech person.

Now that we no longer have a tech person, I am not going to be happy when you call me on the phone and ask why I can't keep the network running.

I am not your network administrator. I was not hired to be a network administrator and if I did know how to do that stuff, I'd be charging you twice as much as I am to employ me.

Yes. The network is down this afternoon. What a pity.

Have a nice weekend.

No love,


P.S. Stop telling me to call this, that, or the other person to see if they can fix it and then calling me back in 90 seconds to see if I dialed them. I hate your Friday personality.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:05 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, July 3, 2006
Not Actually Annoyed

But a trifle aggravated.

If you provide me with a list of names and addresses and ask me to prepare mailing labels for a sales mailing to go out, I will, in fact, do so.

If you subsequently provide me with three letters that I have to argue with you over in order to get you to acknowledge and correct errors in, and then I print said letters from the list of names & addresses you provide with them...and they prove not to match the mailing labels you previously provided, I will, in fact, become aggravated in a minor sort of way.

And, yes, you will then have to pay me for twice the amount of time it takes to print mailing labels because I had to throw the first batch away, you see.

Also? If you decline to let me order toner for the printer because one of these days you're going to order toner from a cheaper place on-line? I will not be able to print until such time as you actually get around to ordering the toner and we receive it. So, get a move on.

That is all.


P.S. You know what I like? I like a boss who says, "As far as today, goes, you can leave whenever you're done with what you're doing."

I especially like if it he's just handed me about 20 hours worth of work.

He's a nice kind of dork, but he's a dork.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, June 30, 2006
You Could Talk To Me

I like to be talked to.

Bernie is starting his Friday Wig-out early this week. He already sent me and IM and an e-mail with the same question in them. (The question wasn't in any way urgent.)

If it's going to be like this today, I'm going home.

long pause....

Okay, so far it looks like it was a false alarm. He hasn't done anything else. Maybe I'm just getting paranoid?

Have a nice weekend!

Posted by AnneZook at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, June 23, 2006
So...Friday! (Sucks)

Bernie is 'working from home' today. Since Buehler is out of town on vacation, I'm alone here in the office. It's gloriously peaceful.

I've exported the company's task list, the shared sales contacts, and my personal e-mails into Excel files, preparing for the Great E-Mail Migration on Monday. I'm currently copying all of my docs from the in-office exchange server (which we also use for our network) to my hard drive.

I've done everything I can think of to be sure I can still work on Monday if the entire network crashes around our heads.

The next task on my list is bookkeeping, including filing my expenses for reimbursement for the last three months.

I think I'm entitled to dink around for a few minutes before I face that task. Considering that I haven't even balance my own checkbook in fifteen years, I think it's understandable that I'm not excited by the bookkeeping portion of my job.

(Whoops. There goes my peaceful day. The broadcast e-mail that was supposed to go out at 8:00 last night hasn't gone. Chaos Boy just called, wigging out. I was supposed to check my e-mail last night and this morning to look for it and I totally forgot.

He apparently did check, but didn't bother to notify either me or DiamondGirl that it hadn't shown up and now, fourteen hours later, he's worked himself into a tizzy about it.

Now he's IMing me that he doesn't want me to work on anything else until this is resolved...but there's nothing I can do about this. Only DiamondGirl can fix it. She's not at home, but when I called her, she said she'd head straight home and look into it.

Granted, I accept responsibility for not having followed up (and I assume she will accept the same) but sending e-mails and calling me every ninety seconds and IMing me while he dials the phone or hits "send" on the e-mail isn't going to help.

Sigh. I was going to write a whole, long, lovely post about the interesting things I've been reading recently, while I wait for this massive file-transfer to finish, but I guess I'd better find something like "work" to fill my time.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

For those interesting in the on-going saga of my worklife, this week Bernie complained because we spent 30 minutes working on a proposal for a client who wanted to buy our product and that time isn't billable.

Then he pissed off another potential client, complaining because he had to answer questions from a second person after he'd already told our first contact everything he thought she should need to know in order to decide whether or not to invite us to bid on their upcoming RFP.

So, you know. Still crazy.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:40 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Messing Around

That's what I've largely been doing so far today.

Having discovered a Magic Trick that allowed me to save projects and tasks out of Outlook and into an Excel spreadsheet, I spent two hours yesterday downloading the necessary software components (I loathe tech people who do not install all of Microsoft Office when they install), doing the export, and cleaning up the document.

This morning I spent an hour exporting the sales contact list and similarly cleaning it up and formatting it.

Bernie isn't going to like being nicked for that much time but he has to pay for how long it takes to do shit. And if he's asking a clueless nitwit to do tech stuff, it's going to take two or three times as long as it should. (Although, to be fair, had the necessary components been installed with the rest of the Office suite, I would have saved at least half that time.)

We're going to be having today's first meeting in a few minutes. High on his list of priorities is the work he wants from DiamondGirl. Even though she no longer works here, her list of "tasks" is similar in length to those he used to give me when she did work here. (In his defense, most of these are things he asked for before she left. But since he also asked her to redo both websites and migrate both of them to new ISPs, she really did have quite a lot to do in her last week. Add to that the fact that our office 'net access was creeping like a herd of geriatric turtles most of the week, and....)

It occurs to me that I defend DiamondGirl more than I should. Probably because I like her and because Bernie annoys me constantly.

Let's be very clear...she was putting in anything but an 8-hour workday for those last two weeks. In fact, she rarely put in a full days' work at all, at least since I started here. We were lucky to have her in the office for 6-7 hours a day, and of that, I'd estimate she was actually working only three or four hours. Which would be all well and good if she was one of those who could put out a full days' work in half the time normal people take, but she didn't seem to be that type.

I know she wasn't interested in most of the work we're doing, and that and didn't like doing some of it, but that's hardly reason to go on a months'-long slowdown.

So, you know, don't run away with the idea that I'm finding fault with Bernie because he wants to get the tail-ends of these last few projects wrapped up so that we can function without her. He's right to do that. Although I'm told she was an exceptional employee in the past, from what I can tell she hasn't been worth much since she returned to the company last October. There were very few days in the fourteen weeks I worked with her when I was impressed with her output or her attitude.

So. Just to be fair.

Because I rag about Bernie quite a lot and it's not right that you should all think he's the villain and DiamondGirl and I are the angels. (Right now, for instance, I'm supposed to be prepping for this meeting, but I've spent 15 minute typing this blog entry instead.)

Of course, he's no jewel. Yesterday he sent me a pissy e-mail wanting to jack up the price of our product for a client because it was costing him money for me to spend time sending them a bid.

So, you know. He's still crazy.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The Calm After the Storm

Thank goodness Chaos Boy is 'working from home' today. If he didn't do that a couple of times a week, I don't think I could take it.

He got progressively wiggier yesterday, until by the time he left, we were both on the ragged edge of a meltdown.

He's one of those people who doesn't think he's getting through to you unless you have some OTT emotional reaction to what he's saying, so he keeps winding himself tighter and tighter trying to make the people around him as upset as he is over...whatever is bothering him at the moment. No amount of, "yes, I hear you, I understand you, and this is how we might be able to handle this" works.

And, although I informed him in short, clear words that the likelihood of me responding with any kind of emotional outbreak of my own was zero ("That isn't going to happen," I said. I think that's pretty clear.), he continued to whip himself into an ever-greater frenzy in an attempt to get me angry over some stuff that wasn't done last week and which he now things we're dead without.

No, it wasn't, but no, we aren't. It will take 30 minutes to fix. Unless you continue to fan the flames of your insecurity and ignorance with diatribes about you've been robbed of the money you paid your employee because she spent the time working on the other five "critically important" projects you handed her last week. Because if you continue to do that, no one on the planet is going to be willing to work with you and you're actually going to be screwed, business-wise.

(Maybe my return to fandom is less about having found a new fandom than it is about me needing a place to hide from Ugly Reality again, for the first time in a lot of years? Do I have to be suffering the miseries at work to generate the emotional energy required by fandom? For someone who's as much of a fluffy bunny, fandom-wise, as I am, that seems very odd and unlikely, don't you think? And I am, with a lunatic boss for the first time in seven years and here I am, dabbling in fandom again for the first time in seven years.)

Anyhow. I think I figured out what part of Bernie's problem is. He doesn't actually want to be the boss except in the sense that he wants to be able to tell people what to do.

He doesn't want to make the decisions or take the responsibility or follow-through on anything. He wants to just tell someone what to do in the sketchiest possible fashion, and then have it magically happen out of his sight and without costing him any further thought.

And, you know, I can totally operate like that but not until I really have a handle on the stuff that needs to be done.

Except...I can't, because he laid DiamondGirl off and it's just ludicrous to think that any tech work we need to have done can be done by outside contractors who also have other commitments.

I mean, yeah, they can, but one of Chaos Boy's big hot-buttons is having things done Right When He Wants Them, which you can sometimes get from employees and almost never get from contractors. You can't suddenly decide you need to build a 15-screen flash-based web presentation for a client meeting in two days and be sure a contractor will have the slack in their schedule to do it.

All of which would worry me less if he'd actually hired someone to do the website-related work we have for our own site and for the client sites we dink around with, but he hasn't so far.

Oh. And the famous database person he's contracting with to do the db stuff DiamondGirl couldn't do? Apparently he worked here before and was let go on account of extreme flakiness. Which I found out from DiamondGirl yesterday. So that's already another problem brewing.

As it happens, he's already informed me that the motley collection of contractors he's cobbled together will be my problem to manage. Considering that he wigged out over how I was spending too much time managing DiamondGirl because fifteen minutes a day was spent talking with her about tasks we were both working on, I can just imagine how he's going to respond to a time-card that shows six hours a day trying to coax this bunch o'nuts into forgetting Bernie's tirades and focusing on the money he's paying them.

And, yes, of course I will now be managing five contractors in addition to being the office manager, bookkeeper, HR person, coding surveys in both pieces of proprietary software, handing box inventory, shipping and receiving for clients and repairs, and...wait for it...learning to do some of the simple repairs myself so he doesn't have to pay the repair people to do them!

Okay, maybe it's just me, but this is insane, right? Am I crazy, or is this sort of a lot of hats for one person?

All this in addition to the job I was hired to do, which was to be the account manager for all clients. Yes, I'm also the sole point of contact for all clients on all projects. Once they've signed a contract, Bernie doesn't want to talk to them any more. (That's what he does, by the way. In this scenario, he gets them to sign a contract. I am, thus far, unable to discover any other jobs that he's got his own name on.)

Okay, I'm just not going to think about it. Because last night I dreamed about the data servers in St. Louis and worried over how they were labeled. And if I'm dreaming about servers, I want them to be an entirely different kind of servers, if you catch my drift.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, June 19, 2006

So, today I have to swing by a client's on my way in and drop off a power adaptor. (I was at the client's precisely at 8:30, my nominal "starting time," so don’t' run away with the idea that I took advantage of needing to do an errand to sleep in or anything).

After that, I drive back and I'm pulling into the office parking lot when my cell phone rings. It's Sassy, telling me that Buehler (who is supposed to be on vacation in Mexico today) is wigging out because he can't find me. Seems that Buehler's business checking is on the verge of an overdraft and he desperately wants me to check the weekend mail, find the check that's supposed to be there, and rush madly to the bank and deposit it for him.

I check said mail, said check is there. I call Sassy back and swear an oath that I'm taking off to deposit it instantly. As long as I'm going, I prepare the deposits for my company and take them with me. Temperature is already skyrocketing and both banks are in Cherry Creek, parking hell, but I eventually manage to find two spaces (the banks aren't close enough together to walk from one to the other unless you have an extra half-hour or so to spare.

I'm finally here, at my desk, and ready to "work" at 10:02 a.m.

It's going to be a rough day. I'm not good at mornings under the best of circumstances and driving madly all over town doing unexpected errands is going to throw off my rhythm for hours.

Update: Bernie's been in my office four times since arrived 20 minutes ago.

Once to say he wants to show me what he did this weekend. (He was cleaning boxes. Does he really require a formal meeting so I can praise him?)

Once to ask if a software program will work without one of its components. (

Once to take a communication base & serial cable from my computer so he could use them (any normal human being would have just picked up one of the 50 bases and one of the 100 cables in the shipping room, instead of crawling around my office, dismantling my set-up) and once to return said items when the serial cable turned out to be...well, a serial cable, not USB.

I hate Mondays.

Update 2: I cannot believe this. I just dashed by his office (I'm trying to get everything he needs packed for a client delivery on Wednesday) and he's sitting in there with Windex and a paper towel, cleaning the screens on the boxes. He's just...sitting there. Waiting for me to come in and look at the boxes before he can let it go and do some work.

My boss is a very sick person.

Update 3: Now we had an hour-long meeting that started out being about the tasks that didn't get done last week and wound up for the last 45 minutes being about how the office isn't tidy or well-organized. Considering that it's looked like this since 12 years before they hired me, I can't feel that I am at fault.

Update 4: We have had another meeting. Apparently my 'tude is bad.

His feelings were hurt because when I told him I was in the middle of something and asked him to give me five minutes, he came back fifteen seconds later and wanted something else and I was annoyed and it showed.

I have agreed, with all solemnity, and not promised to work on it. If he wants me to play bookkeeper and HR person, he has to live with the idea that there will be moments when I'm laboriously tracking the path of some document and simply not available to give him a paper copy of something he has on his computer but is too lazy to look for.

DiamondGirl is gone, you know. Friday was her last day. Today she's IMing me and laughing at me.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:04 AM | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 15, 2006
I want to talk to you

Sadly, I can't think of anything to say.

For those interested in the on-going saga of my software woes, I should report that yesterday, PoodleBoy finally shared the secret of the sekrit, invisible, buried code with me. Now I can create my own sekrit, invisible, buried code whenever I want!

PoodleBoy seems to be recovering his normal equanimity. (Did I tell you about PoodleBoy? Did I tell you about when, on a day when I was really, really, really busy and stressed and needed to make very second count, I needed some information from him and had to spend 20 minutes on the phone with him, sympathizing because one of his dogs had dug a potato chip bag out of the trash, got its head stuck in the bag while playing with it, fell in the pool, and drowned, and then find nice things to say about the picture he sent me so that I could see what the dead dog had looked like before it was dead, before I could get him to focus on work? I'm not sure I told you that bit.)

I am not a pet person, okay? I care about the pets of the people I care about because I care about the people.

Also? I have no way to code 20 minutes spent talking about a dead dog on my timesheet.

This timesheet things continues to present problems to me. I can't quite get the hang of what the R.C. assures me are the tacitly understood "timesheet lies" that everyone uses. (I've never really done timesheets and in the past, the one time a company tried to make me, I just drew a line on the paper every day and wrote, "working" next to it.) Apparently, no matter what you do or how long it takes you, the understood minimum time that any task will take is 15 minutes.

Finding myself unable to code 15 minutes to a single phone call, I wind up with entries like this:

1 hour - Misc - Inspect boxes w/Bernie, e-mail data storage provider for quote for storage and back-up, find previous quote for back-ups, mail invoices, e-m repair company about testing batteries, etc.

Mostly, you know, I'm working. I can either watch the clock every second of the day or I can get shit done. There isn't always brain power for both.

Moving on, let me add that we're still having Internet Issues here at the office. For the past week, e-mail (and IMs, oddly enough) works just fine, but trying to get on to any actual internet page is an exercise in frustration. Yesterday I was shipping a package via the UPS website and it took a full 12 minutes, when you factor in the time it took for pages to load. (You only have to go through four pages to ship a package.) Today, the internets seem to be running just fine, but trying to do anything on our network is mind-bogglingly slow.

Right now, I'm considering breakfast. It's not particularly diet, but if you choose your fast-food breakfast carefully, you might not entirely blow your diet. I didn't bring anything with me today, so I'm thinking of walking across the street to the mass-produced burger joint and seeing what they have to offer.

P.S. UPSteve just came in to pick up my package. He says that the bank downstairs told him the building has been sold and they're going to tear it down.

That's going to provide some...interesting logistical problems for these guys.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I'm just saying

Bernie wanted a quote from the server farm for running back-ups on our servers. DiamondGirl was full of explanations for why they don't do that.

I sent them an e-mail and got a quote in 30 minutes.

Bernie wanted four spreadsheets cleaned of duplicate records. DiamondGirl was full of reasons why that was going to take hours and hours and hours and hours because we don't have an automated program for doing that. (We do, but she'd have had to spend 15 minutes setting the file up.)

I did it manually myself in 45 minutes.

On a personal level? I'm very, very fond of DiamondGirl. But I hate working with the kind of person for whom every task is just too hard. She's massively burned out and I'm growing less sorry by the day that I'll only be working with her for three more days.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2006
Yeah. Okay.

So, today's tech meeting starts with Bernie asking, "What is a network, and why do we have to have one?"

This, in a nutshell, explains why this company is so unsuccessful at selling tech products.

Then he demanded and was promised access for both him and me into our SQL server. His perception seems to be that with access, we can do whatever we need to do in the SQL database. Never mind that neither of us would recognize SQL if it came sprinkled on a salad.

He rounded off the meeting with a scheme to call a network-support company that offers, "first tech call free" and get them to come in and do the work of dismantling our network for that first, free call. Then, you see, we can move everything to a professional hosting service for free!

Umm..Bernie? A "hosting service" hosts your website. They do not replace your entire office network with secure, instantaneous access for $10/month.

What about shared printers? He decided he could send all his print jobs to me.

What about shared files? He decided we could e-mail everything. And anyhow, we have the server we won't be using when we don’t have a network any more, so can't we just back them up to it?

What about internet access? We already have that. Just, you know, don't turn it off when we take down the network.

If my brain implodes, you know whose fault it's going to be.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The internets, they are dead.

At least, if you work in my office, they are. I have no idea what's going on, but for the last two hours, we can't get to anything on the 'net at all. The odd thing is that IMs and our e-mail are working just fine. It's just if we open I.E. and try to go to any page, we can't get on. It could be days, even months, before I get to post this.

There is so little work I can do without the 'net any more. I have an entire list of Tasks To Be Done, only one of which doesn't need internet access. (Okay, actually I have an entire but short list of tasks. The work is really slowing down around here.)

I have one phone call I could make. I have a bunch o'bookkeeping stuff to do but that bores me, so I'm procrastinating.

For those who care (ignoring those who don't), the whole Bernie-DiamondGirl situation came to a head yesterday.

Bernie, who is many things, none of them spelled s-m-a-r-t, sent out an e-mail saying he was sure we could all see that the work was evaporating. And saying he'd meet with me at 9:00 a.m. and with DiamondGirl at 3:00 p.m.

And, oh, by the way, in the meantime, DiamondGirl, here's a list of tasks that Must Be Done today, and I'm assuming you won't notice that these are the precise things that need to be done in order to make your job redundant at 3:00 today.

Unsurprisingly, DiamondGirl sent him an e-mail saying, very politely, that she was available all day and would rather not have his meeting about her future postponed until the end of the day.

After which, he and I did a one-hour conference call with a new vendor. Then he told me that if she asked me I should tell her to talk to him but if she asked me point-blank I should tell her the truth about what was going on, and then he got up and left the office for 20 minutes, pretty much guaranteeing that, yes, she would ask me what was going on and I'd be forced to tell her, relieving him of the responsibility.

Does that strike anyone but me as a tad cowardly?

Fortunately for the sanity of us all, I am not that kind of a coward (my fears lie in other directions) and when she asked me point-blank what was going on, I told her.

(For those still reading, he was giving her two weeks' notice and asking her if she'd like to keep doing contract work, part-time, for the company for the next three months while she looked for another job. So, you know, it's not like he was firing her at 3:00.)

Then I sent him an e-mail telling him I'd told her, and it still took him another 1-1/2 hour to get up the nerve to actually talk to her, face-to-face.

And, of course the moment they stopped fighting it, talked to each other, and agreed they'd be happier apart, they both felt like ten-ton weights had been lifted off their shoulders. They both went around practically singing for the rest of the day.

I, of course, was physically ill for the rest of the work day, from the stress, so it was nice to be them, but not so much me.

Today, lacking anything else to be mad about, he's mad at our clients because they don't want to pay for what he wants to provide. And he's determined not to just provide what they want to pay for.

Oh, internets. Why do you not love me today?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Life In Slo-Mo

Okay, so, for reasons best known only to itself, our internet access is tottering like a herd of turtles today. I click a button and I have time to go get a cup of coffee and read the morning paper before the page loads. This kind of a pity since I was looking forward to reading my personal e-mail this morning. I can see there are a lot of messages there. I just don't think I'll live long enough to load them all.

Can't check the news, either. Sites seem to be loading 1 kb per minute. It's very aggravating. I guess I should go reboot something here in a minute.

Internally our office network has been problematic for the past month or so. Logging in to my office e-mail this morning, I found about eight messages that I should have received on Friday. I can't fix that but I hear-tell they're actually planning to hire some network people.

(I rebooted a blinky-thing. The internets are happy now.)

So. This week, DiamondGirl is on vacation and it's just me and Bernie (and Buehler is here). You know when I said last week I could deal with either Bernie or DiamondGirl, but not both? I don't feel that way so much this week, when it's Bernie instead of DiamondGirl who will be in all week. (Also, I'm wondering if he's going to be holding a grudge because I stopped answering his e-mails at 11:30 on Friday?)

Oh, dear. He's here. And I don't have anything to code the last hour of e-mail reading, journal-surfing, and blog post-writing to. Aacckk!

Okay. Hour-and-a-half meeting. (The e-mails did come up. Shrug. I just told him I was getting aggravated and decided to walk away from it for a while. He seems okay with that) (I think DiamondGirl is right. He is afraid of me. When did I become an ugly, scary old woman?) Mostly about what work we'll take on when DiamondGirl is gone, a thing he finally seems to be determined on, and how we'll outsource everything. So, you know, instead of doing any actual work, apparently I'll be managing the outsource resources (it becomes difficult to avoid bureaucrat-speak after decades in the workforce) and dabbling with the internal bookkeeping. Whatever.

Sigh. I work good. You give me work, I sit down and I do it. So, naturally they think the ideal use for my talents lies in watching other people work.

To add thrills and chills to the proposal, Bossyboots and Moe (b0th still hanging around on a consulting/free-lance basis) are likely to be two of the people I'm watching.

I like to work. I like to have my own little projects and to be left alone to mess about with them. I am not the Manager Type. My idea of "managing" someone is to say, "Shut up and do it anyhow."

Okay, I'm not that bad.


(I was going to talk about my weekend. Maybe later.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, May 26, 2006
Oh, Bernie, You Madcap Fool!

He's "working from home" today. Which means, being very annoying via e-mail and IM, instead of in person.

The day before he left for a two day vacation, he bailed out at about 10:00 in the morning.

Today is the day before DiamondGirl leave for a four-day vacation, and he's trying to send enough projects to make sure she doesn't stop to breathe between now and 5:00.

Also? Memory loss problems.

Do this thing, he says three weeks ago.

No, don't do that thing, we might want to do the other thing, he said, 2-1/2 weeks ago. Wait and see.

We're not going to do the other thing, he said, two days ago.

Do that original thing instead, he said, a day ago.

I've been asking you to do the original thing for three weeks, he said today. Why doesn’t anything I ask you to do ever get done? What are you doing with your time? I don’t understand why everything always takes so long. Why can't I get a simple thing done in a timely fashion?

Take the day off, Bernie. Get out of the house. Breathe some fresh air. Soak up some sunshine.

Leave me the heck alone.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Freak Out!

I have a freakazoid attack every time my boss asks me about anything that hasn't been at the top of my list for a while. This is because I've worked before for the kind of person who plays gotcha with the To Do list.

They never mean to do it, but no matter how tightly you pin them down to prioritizing, there's always something they thought should have been #1 that didn't get done.

Or, you know, five minutes after you've locked down the priorities, they toss something else at you casually and you don't find out until 9:00 tomorrow that it has a drop-dead due date of 10:00.

To be fair to Bernie, he did mention that he wanted Project X by next Monday. To be fair to me, I have another project, Project Z, due tomorrow, that needed all my time. I found out on Friday and I should have to ask DiamondGirl if she'd told Bernie, that what he wanted for Project X wasn't possible, but I just didn't. Think of it, I mean.

I tend to expect too much out of DiamondGirl, knowing as I do how burned out she is. And knowing that she's actually here about 6-1/2 hours a day, instead of the 8 she's paid for. And knowing that she spends a lot of her day IMing with friends and stuff.

I tried to keep the list prioritized. Really, I did. About six weeks ago, we spent six hours in meetings setting priorities. We spent so much time prioritizing that I didn't get a lick of work done for two and a half days. (I kept having to retype the task lists, then we'd meet about them again and everything would change and I'd have to retype them some more.)

Today, in an attempt to ignore the stress around Project X, I sat down and tried to deal with a lot of those other little items that keep coming back at you again and again because while they need to be done, they're not directly client-related and thus are not associated with any projects or invoices. (You know. They're not the "billable hours" he's always yelling about.)

Project Z, due tomorrow won't get done, but I told Bernie it wouldn't when he started asked me about these other things this morning. All he did was suggest that if I got these people on the phone and scheduled a call for later, I should be able to get it all done. (What part of, "I haven't been able to get them on the phone" was he not understanding? What part of, "If I do get them on the phone, I might as well just discuss the issue with them" doesn't strike him as more efficient? What part of, "I can do the necessary research and then make those seven phone calls or I can type these 500 e-mail addresses" was not clear to him? What part of calling a client about a question they've asked before you have an answer does not strike him as stupid and unprofessional?)

You know what I hate? I hate someone who thinks "multi-tasking" is spending fifteen seconds at a time on twenty projects and then shouting because nothing ever gets done, or things get done in a half-assed fashion.

So, I also told him that if he stopped yanking us around every ten minutes, we'd be able to focus on each project for long enough to actually send him the information he needs in a timely fashion. For instance, the piece of information he needed for Project X would have come to him last Friday, instead of at noon today.

At which point he said he was done for the day. (Not that he stopped e-mailing, because he didn't, but he did take a 30-minute break, after which we both played nice again.)

Yes, we had another e-mail fight today. Then I spent 30 minutes having a meltdown.

I think, in spite of the fact that I spent a fortune last weekend, I may have to leave this job. I can't take the crazy.

Or, I could start working 10 or 12 hours a day. That way I'd get more done each day, leaving me more time to monitor what DiamondGirl is doing and maybe we'd make some actual progress. I just have trouble convincing myself I want to give up evenings and/or weekends for a job where I took a 20 percent pay cut and that I already doubt is right for me for the long haul.

And. Having DiamondGirl tell me at 1:00 today that Project Z, the one that has, has, has to be done by tomorrow? Wasn’t done until three weeks after the Conference in previous years? Does not inspire me to give my all on the say-so of Bernie's deadlines.

I did spend a fortune last weekend.

On the other hand, I haven't fought this much with another person…well, in my whole life. I was raised with three siblings and I didn't fight with all three of them as much as I squabble with this one guy.

Life. Is not all joy.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, April 21, 2006
SO not acceptable

Fifteen minutes ago it was a lovely, peaceful Friday morning.

No longer.

You know the freaking client who was supposed to have data to me by Tuesday and who caught a break because no one told me that until Wednesday, so I gave them until noon on Thursday?

They left me the world's longest voice-mail last night to explain why they're changing everything and then going to discuss it with Bernie (who is sometimes mysteriously absent on his "working from home" days) before sending it to me. And, oh yeah, by the way, if I don't hear from them by noon I should call them because they might forget and she (the caller) has today off, so she can't follow up on it.

I hate getting mad this early in the morning. Trashes my whole day.

I had the data coded (in both formats and both versions) and now it's all going to heck.

I started to send Bernie an e-mail (twice) explaining that I'm busy this weekend and won't be available to work. I stopped myself.

It's not his fault I wasn't firmer with the client. (When I have a "noon, Thursday" deadline, I make the deadline. I've never, not in all my years of working, managed to adjust to how other people, well, don't live up to their business commitments. I'm the world's worst slacker and procrastinator in my personal life, but not at work.)

Assuming I'm still working here, I won't forget this again, and won't let it happen again, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm pissy right now.

(I swear to god, I think Bernie is half willing me to fail. The number and kinds of things he doesn't think to mention to me….)

Yesterday Bernie got totally rabid because an invoice he had me send a few weeks ago wasn't worded the way invoices to that client used to be worded before he and the Tweenybopper forgot to send any invoices for four months.

He got mad at me for not knowing how he did things before I started working here and he got really pissy with DiamondGirl because she should have known better…forget that she never saw the previous invoices and she didn't see this invoice because she's the software programmer not the freaking bookkeeper, and that he never specifically told her why he was mad at her and it wasn't until I backed him into a corner three hours later that I was able to make him explain himself.

I like DiamondGirl. The work in this job is going to prove, I think, to be very interesting, in spite of the current lack of focus or specialization.

But Bernie? He's rapidly turning into the deal-breaker.

…long silence…

So, I went and unloaded on Buehler about Bernie. He agrees, he already knew, that Bernie is burnt out and acting crazy.

Bottom line? He thinks Bernie is going to keep on being Bernie until he drives me and DiamondGirl away. After we quit, he'll be able to say the company closing isn't his fault (he's one of those people who will go to ridiculous, almost suicidal extremes to be "right" at all times and in all situations) and he'll walk away from it.

Which aggravates me because (a) I like having a job, (b) I really like having a paycheck, (c) I have some expensive amusements coming up that have to be paid for, and (d) it makes me feel like I was hired almost under false pretenses.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:35 AM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I So Totally Rule

I decided to fix the coding instead of starting over. In the end, it only took about three hours to do the whole thing.

As I understand it, my predecessor used to take three or four days to do this. At the moment, yes, I'm feeling smug about my superior work ethic. (She could have worked faster if she wasn't IMing and e-mailing with six people at a time, all day, every day, plus making half a dozen personal phone calls. But…she was 22. And I? Am so not.)

Also, I'm feeling a bit smug because I know that Bernie, sexist pig that he all unwittingly is, misses his Cute Young Thing and finds me an insufficiently attractive and perky substitute. Still. He's gonna have to admit I can do the job.

(I'm tired of him telling me I won't be able to do the upcoming Conference without a mysterious and non-existent "book" that the Tweenybopper supposedly assembled for me.

I had five things to do. Code two surveys (both are done), load them (will do after final approval), ship them (ditto), and take a job to the printer (can't do until he turns loose of it and whatinthehell he's doing with it is a mystery to me since I took care of the limited amount of "designing" required before I handed it over to him to review).

My swiftitudiousness (is so a word) on the more complicated of the surveys (the one I was whining about yesterday) is due in no small part to Bernie having designated today as one of his "work at home" days. It's very peaceful here today. DiamondGirl and I are getting so much done that we felt free to stop working entirely and enjoy a leisurely, 30-minute lunch break.

However, said swiftitudiousness (is so) is probably due in much larger part to my being so literal-minded. When I studied Logic in college, I found it a joy. I find coding a program that uses simple logic to be…well, pretty simple. My brain is very linear. It coos over If-Then statements.

Bottom line is, I'm happy. I got a job done quickly and easily that I thought was going to be long and tedious. I'm full-up of nice Chinese food.

It did not snow yesterday or today and while it's also not 80 outside, it's a very nice day.

(Also? Today my bathroom is almost as clean as it was Sunday evening.

Because? 8:40 p.m. That's when I finished giving the bathroom its post-Snake cleaning last night. I'm doing laundry tonight, but I can feel a reprise coming over me. I'll be cleaning parts of the bathroom again on Thursday.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Well, ain't that a kick?

So, clearly it's almost always better to do a project from scratch than to fix up someone else's mess. Especially, in my experience, projects involving any kind of coding.

Almost always. Almost.

Because if the document you're working with is 148 pages inside of a proprietary piece of software, is it really?


If there are navigation options on almost every screen, and 80% of those are changing? If some screens are being deleted and others added and others rearranged?

Is it better to just start over and do the weary work of inputting 148 pages of text again, just so you can build the navigation from scratch? Or is it better to take what's in there, even though you'll have to change 30% of the text? Should you tell yourself that tracking down the code and navigation problems that will inevitably arise from such an extensive re-editing will be easier than all that rekeying?

If "all that rekeying" consists of about 100-300 characters per screen, would it really be that much work?

Would I have been better off just getting started with the rekeying instead of sitting here brooding over these things for the past 13 minutes?

(If I get a call saying all of the sinks in the apartment are backed up and overflowing, should I just move to another city and change my name?)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, April 17, 2006
Dear Bernie:

Please do not send e-mails to me, copying other people, as a means to getting in little digs at said other people for things you've been angry at them over for two years.

It is counter-productive and not a little childish.


Your Office, Employee, and Client Services Manager/Director


Posted by AnneZook at 04:06 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The Twitch Is Back

It's an eye thing. When I get too aggravated or stressed, my eye twitches. I can feel it going at it like mad tonight.

I'm thinking it's already time Bernie and I parted ways, to seek our separate futures.

It's not just that my Tasks List is now two pages long with no billable work on it and he think we should work at least 50% on billable projects every week.

It's not even that he keeps saying he can't afford to pay us if we don't do more billable work every week, as demoralizing and de-motivating as such statements are, especially when repeated every 7-10 days.

You know what? It's not even that it's his own freaking fault we're not doing billable work since he hasn't brought any new work in in months. There is no billable work to do. (Why does he keep telling us he can't keep paying us unless we do billable work? Is he trying to frighten us into going out and selling the company's products and services ourselves?) (Okay, so mostly he says that to DiamondGirl, since she's the programmer, but we can't do what we do without her, so it comes to the same thing in the end.)

It's that of the 39 items on my Tasks list (at least 30 of which he identified as "top priority" when he handed them to me), only four of them bear any resemblance to each other. I mean, only four of them are the same kind of work. This is not a company that focuses on its core competencies because this is not a company that has identified core competencies.

(He says he'll take whatever work comes by, to keep the bills paid, and I can sympathize with that goal, but then he bids two hours for a project that a highly skilled graphic designer would need 16 hours to complete, not that we have a graphic designer on-staff, skilled or otherwise, and then he gets pissed when we can't do the work at all, much less in two hours. Am I crazy or is he crazy?)

In theory, we do surveys and evaluations for associations and conferences. We also do (opt-in only) e-mails to customer lists for those same clients. We help our clients talk to their customers and we help our clients gather feedback from their customers.

In the last month, the only projects he's been discussing have been based around e-commerce, graphics design, website design & support, Google Ads, and county fairs.

You can buy e-commerce website solutions off-the-shelf these days, graphics & website design are specialty areas and there's tons of competition out there, Google Ads is not a service we can charge a client much money for, and he's not popular enough with me to make me willing to give up my weekends for the entire summer to work county fairs all over the state.

Because he swore his life wouldn't be worth living and he wouldn't know how to go on if we didn't, we built him a new software application for a field he identified as "critical" to our success.

Upon further investigation, I have discovered that this field has no money and in any case, our resources wouldn't be sufficient to meet our needs if the field did have money. (Part of our laughable "core" competency rests upon a proprietary software program of limited capacity and for which the developer is no longer in business.)

Also? I am not traveling to Mexico to train a client who could perfectly easily be trained using an internet-based conferencing program. Nor am I traveling to Florida to spend two days being trained on the subtleties of a software program I already learned how to use. (Florida? In the summer?) Nor am I flying to California in late September, spending one day setting up a conference, then flying to Las Vegas for 24 hours to set up a conference and then move everything the next morning, after which I will fly back to California to finish the first conference.

Who am I? Joan Jet-setter? I am not.

Traveling on business is hell under the best of circumstances and he is not the best of circumstances. I'm not whipping 'round the world for him, at least not until he starts paying me a living wage.

And then before he left the office tonight, he was making noises about how expensive it is to pay health insurance for employees and how it's almost impossible to cover the costs.

I've been listening to him over the last month, and doing a lot of thinking. When he hired me, he told me he was discouraged and ready to walk away from the company if it didn't work out.

I think the truth is that he's burned out, he thinks that being a "consultant" would be a lot easier, and he just doesn't want to keep doing the work it takes to keep a small business going.

People always think being a "consultant" is a path to glory. They picture themselves roaming the country, being paid to tell other people what they ought to do and how, and then leaving town while the company gets on with finding the people and resources to do the actual work.

Any jackass can stand outside a situation and say how it could be better. Talent comes in making it better, but that's more work than the average "consultant" wants to get into.

So, yeah. Tonight I'm bitter. And twitching.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:41 PM | Comments (4)

Big Brother

Okay, I actually caught ChaosBoy checking DiamondGirl's monitor, to see what she has open on it.

DiamondGirl left to run an errand for lunch.

Part of me is hoping she didn't leave anything non-work-related open (as we've all done occasionally) and part of me is just tired. It's bad enough he expects me to "mange" her when he won't stop intefering, but that level of...well, it's not exactly paranoia. That level of distrust, let's say, that just makes me not want to play at all.

(I only left my work e-mail and a work survey open on mine.)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

When September comes, I may have to go to California. And Las Vegas. I may have to work meetings in California and Las Vegas on the same day.

ChaosBoy wants a lot from someone he's not that willing to pay decently.

Today, I worked hard. Pretty much all day.

So much so that, unusually for me, I had only one e-mail exchange all day. It started with a pain, as so many things do.

That topic passed quickly (although less quickly than it might have, had I not taken 6-1/2 hours to respond to the e-mail announcement) and meatloaf took over.

It's not that I have a circle of friends who have a fascination with baked beef shards or anything. It's just that I made meatloaf over the weekend. Since I also made Giant Pot O'Soup, there's more food in the refrigerator than the R.C. and I can reasonably be expected to eat within, well, within a reasonable time frame.

All of which is by way of asking y'all if you know if meatloaf can be frozen or not. I've been assured that it can be, but I've never known anyone to do it. As I told the R.C., I don’t assume everything freezes, do you?

I don't know. It's not that meatloaf strikes me as a delicately balanced dish full of subtle nuances that might be lost in the freezing process (especially mine), it's just that I never thought of it before.

I don't like for things to be new and strange.

Speaking of new, strange, and unpleasant, today was Bookkeeping Day at the office. This means I spent 4-1/2 hours slowly and painstakingly generating invoices and writing checks, desperately trying to keep my dyslexia and my complete indifference to anything involving numbers from interfering with my (already limited) brain processes.

I was doing okay until I reached the rent, at which time something (or possibly several somethings) went horribly wrong.

I don’t know.

I got very confused.

The system is supposed to generate this bill on the first, automatically but it didn’t seem to do it this month, so I generated one, but then I couldn’t figure out how to make a partial payment, so I voided it and created two, one for each payment, and then the automatically generated one showed up, so I deleted the second two I’d generated and changed the amount on the automatically generated one to match what we were actually paying and generated a second one for the unpaid amount but when I print the first automatically generated one, it shows we paid the full amount and not the partial payment I put into it but when I look at it online, it shows the lower amount. And I can’t make it believe we paid last month, either.

I hate playing bookkeeper.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:37 PM | Comments (2)

Monday, April 10, 2006
This is bad

Yeah, ChaosBoy is out of the office today, but that doesn't mean I have the leisure to be planning the next 30 years in the lives of imaginary characters, now does it? Tell the fictional world to leave me alone while I'm at work.

In other news, I was scrounging around for a copy of the company holiday calendar since no one ever remembers what days this place was closed last year.

I finally found it and read the holidays, vacation, and sick leave policies for this particular sister company and whoa! Couldn't be more different than Buehler's tolerant attitude toward such tings.

I don't think I've ever seen such a set of stingy, hostile policies.

In fact, had I read this before I signed on here, I'm not sure I'd have signed on here. Unless practically every employee he's ever had has abused the living heck out of the sick leave policy, I'm not sure there's really any excuse for so much hostility.

Me, I've never abused a company's sick-leave policy in my life, but after reading this one, I seem to have a really strong urge to do so.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2006
So much for that

Bernie not only came in, he's strewing chaos and confusion all around the office.


Posted by AnneZook at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, March 20, 2006

I am. At least, I'm at the office. Not terribly in the mood to work today, which is the sort of thing that happens to me when I'm all alone and not under a deadline.

I don't actually have anything to do.

I've been frightfully busy since I started here, what with the training and then the doing of the things I'm learning to do. For some reason, today I can't think of a single thing that needs to be done. I don't doubt there are things I should be worked on. I just can't think of them at the moment.

I politiblogged yesterday until my brain exploded so that's taken care of. (I was going to a group meeting this Wednesday after work but I'm not doing that unless this storm moves out (Did I mention that it's pouring down snow outside?) (Are you allowed to nest parentheses?) and the one threatened for Wednesday fails to materialize.)

DiamondGirl won't be in until 10:30 or 11:00. Haven't heard from Bernie. Don't know if I should assume he's making the slow commute from Boulder or that he's not coming in today. (DiamondGirl says sometimes he just 'forgets' to mention he won't be here. I'm okay with him not being here, but I'd like to know.)

Either way, I'm planning to slide out early. But not until 2 or 3, so I have some time to fill yet.

I've checked my work notes back for a week and I can't find anything I'm forgetting. I checked my running "to do" list and beyond a couple of phone calls of no particular importance and that I don’t feel like making, there's nothing on it.

I have a user manual I've been dabbling with a rewrite on. I could work on that. Yawn. I hate rewriting someone else's work. I'd rather work from scratch. It's a pain to redo graphics and try to move huge chunks of text around inside a badly organized document. I spent two hours tagging and generating a table of contents for the stupid thing last week, so I could at least figure out what was in it.

I'm annoyed at having to work in Photoshop when I normally work in PaintshopPro. (And in an older release, so that I'm not constantly being confused by being offered a lot of graphics options I don't understand.) Also, I'm annoyed because Photoshop takes an hour to open.

I haven't yet cracked either of the two SQL books I picked up on Saturday. (Even though it came with a recommendation, I can't really believe that Teach Yourself SQL In 10 Minutes is really going to be comprehensible.)

I sure do wish I could think of something interesting to write about.

My new office is cooler than the one I sat in before. I need to remember this when I'm getting dressed in the morning. Maybe bring in a sweater to keep on my chair, just in case.

Ooo! Ooo! I just remembered something! I can go try to generate a report!

The thrills never stop.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:46 AM | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 16, 2006
What's Your Problem?

So, I’m sitting here, dinking around with some work and gearing myself up for today's scheduled 2-hour meeting.

Mostly chomping down on soynuts because I forgot to bring my breakfast and I can't meet from 10:30 - 12:30 without food in my system.

No shouting this week, at least so far. That's a good thing.

At this point I'm holding on, mentally, to the idea of March 24. On March 24, Bernie leaves the country for a ten-day vacation. He'll be completely out of touch. It will be a vacation for everyone!

Bottom line? It's only been a week and I'm already sick of having to turn in a timesheet, not to mention trying to account for every minute of every day. I'm not, by nature, a clock-watcher. I come to work, I work until I get hungry, I eat lunch, I work more until I'm tired, I go home.

(I'm working, okay? Every minute of every day* unless I go to the bathroom or during that brief, 30-minute interval when I'm shoveling down some lunch and hoping I don't get sick from eating too fast.)

Also? Try saying 'hello' or 'good morning' when you come in. We speak to you, it's only polite that you should speak back.

Also? If we have a two-hour meeting scheduled to start at 10:30, yes, it does mess with our day if you decide at 9:53 that you want to start at 10:00 instead.

You consistently do and say things that show a massive disrespect for your employees, their professionalism, and the work they're trying to do for the company.

You and I? Are going to have a little talk.


* Okay, not the five minutes it took me to write this, but still.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I was wrong

I've been pondering that e-mail and I've decided that I was wrong to send it. Granted, it's nicer than the two I drafted before it, but it's still hostile.

When, oh when will I learn not to e-mail when I'm furious?

Anyhow, after Bernie got to the office yesterday and read it, he was in a bad mood (no surprise) and then he and DiamondGirl had another shouting match later in the day.

Sigh. I think I was right to establish immediately that I wasn't going to be micro-managed but the way I handled it was wrong.

Now I owe him an apology.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2006
I May Be Fired

Bernie turns out to be one of those guys who likes daily "status" reports telling him what you're working on.

I can live with that, although figuring out how to get DiamondGirl to tell me what she's been doing every day will be a pain.

But. I sent him an update on Friday for the week (since I hadn't been doing it daily) and this morning I find this huffy e-mail in my box all about how surprised he is that he's paying two people full-time and he's only getting part-time work out of them.

He seems to think his employees should be able to account for every minute of every day. Now while I know some organizations do have staff do that, those tend to be people in "predictable" jobs where they have a concrete work-flow. Which, you know, does not include this company.

Anyhow, I spent 20 minutes writing him a really hateful e-mail.

Of course I deleted it unsent and re-wrote it. I'm not sure how hateful this one is, but after he reads it, he may decide he doesn't need me around the office.

Dear Bernie:

I agree that DiamondGirl's time was not well accounted-for last week. I noticed that and had already intended to discuss it with her. There’s been a bit of sloppiness about tracking projects and progress in the past week or two and that’s largely my fault because it’s taking me some time to get my feet under me.

Understand that part of my time and part of DiamondGirl's will never be accounted for. Those “impromptu” meetings where you come out of your office and discuss the possibility of doing some project with one or both of us, for instance. I’m not sure you realize how often that happens or how much time it takes up. There’s also the “fuzz factor” which is the amount of time lost when someone get interrupted in the middle of a complicated project. It can honestly take someone like a software coder fifteen minutes or more to retrace their steps and figure out where they were.

My understanding about these status e-mails was that you wanted to keep track of the major projects we’re working on and how much time we’re investing in them, especially the ones with “billable hours” and not that we were having to account for how we spend our time every day.

If you need me to track the amount of time I spend washing dishes, getting the mail, running off door-to-door solicitors, answering (mostly wrong number) phone calls, figuring out Tina’s filing system, looking for documents I need on the network, not to mention the half-hour it took Friday to write you that status e-mail and the 30 minutes I’ve spent on this one this morning, then that’s going to be very difficult.

Whaddya think? Too hateful?

I love being employed. I actually got a paycheck last week.

I should have savored it. It might be my last.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:14 AM | Comments (1)

Friday, March 10, 2006

This whole "working for a living" gig is a lot more, well, work than I remembered.

This week, it's the bookkeeping thing that's stressing me. I did tell Bernie that I wasn't good at this kind of stuff and I'm not. I might be better if the Tweenybopper had left any kind of coherent records.

Granted, she felt the same way I do about having to take on bookkeeping chores, but that's not really a good reason for her to have failed to keep records in any form that would allow someone to come in and figure out what she's been doing, you know?

Okay, so I knew she didn't like to file. I figured that out when I found piles of stuff dated 2004 and 2005 sitting all over the place. (She started in late 2003.) (I'd be less bitter if I could find anything dated 2006.) But I assumed that, somewhere in those piles, a coherent system would appear.

I'm thinking, you know, "assume." ass - u - me Mostly me.

Issuing invoices this past week has been a guessing game. From casual remarks dropped by Bernie over the last week, a couple of things the Tweenybopper said before she left, a post-it note she left on her computer monitor, and the two actual job files she handed to me, I think I've found everything I was supposed to bill. (I'm going to put together a list for Bernie for Monday and have him double-check it.)

Okay, enough whining about that. What else is new?

Well, payday arrived. Yesterday, in fact. I slit open the little envelope, pulled out the check, and looked it over. 73 hours. $17.76.

And I'm thinking, yeah, I agreed to take a temporary pay cut until August, but this is ridiculous. (Bernie called them and I got a more reasonable check today.)

DiamondGirl seems to be doing well at getting her recently diagnosed Diabetes Type II under control. She's been taking her meds and eating right. And her energy level and concentration have improved immensely.

Unfortunately, that doesn't really mean she and Bernie are getting along better. Partly she gets bitchy very quickly in our too-frequent meetings. I can sympathize...she's been through these same problems many times already and is worn out and frustrated from trying to work with Bernie.

If you're a process-oriented, linear software programmer being supervised by a free-form, big picture, grasshopper-brained sales/marketing person, there are going to be problems.

She needs to make some changes, but Bernie needs to make even more. For one thing, he has to start writing down complete specs on all tech jobs he wants. I need to figure out a way to make him understand that, "build me a program that does this" really isn't a sufficient set of guidelines to hand a programmer.

Also? He has to learn to talk to us before he takes on any jobs that involve anything more technical than he can do himself.

Today I found DiamondGirl desperately working over the scan of a hand-drawn logo (4" x 6"). Bernie wanted her to turn it into camera-ready art that the client could hand to the printer to produce a decent 2' x 6' banner. It also turns out that Bernie told the client we could do that in two hours.

He's insane.

And he has to learn that you can't really build core business strengths if you're just accepting any kind of job that comes along. There are half a dozen different types of projects we're working on at this point, only two of which are even remotely connected to what he told me were the "core strengths" he wanted to develop.

Sorry for not being entertaining. I'm not feeling the fun today. Just the tired.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2006
So, Good Stuff

Because I think it’s important to track the good things that happen.

#1 Bernie works a short day. He’s arrives around 9:00 and he leaves around 4:00.

#2 Bernie works from home on Fridays. He rarely comes in on a Friday.

#3 Bernie travels. He’s leaving March 22 and not returning until April 5. (On the down side, I’ll be doing a lot more traveling myself, although they’ll usually be short trips. So far, San Francisco in May, New Orleans in June, and LA, I think, in September. So far. These are good. I used to work for someone where all the clients were on the East Coast. I loathe those long flights. )

#4 DiamondGirl is fun. I like working with her. She’s smart, committed, and very hardworking. Also I just like her.

#5 Buehler. I see him when he’s in and I still like chatting with him. I regret that he wasn’t able to pull out a full-time job for me before the Bernie situation happened, but whatever. He’s bought me lunch once and coffee twice in the last week, so I know he still likes me.

#6 The 7-1/2 hour workday returns! Many companies these days work their employees for 7-1/2 hours, instead of 8. That gets them around those pesky “mandated break” laws. I haven’t worked for a company that did so…well, I’m not sure I ever have. But I am now. I don’t have to roll into the office until 8:30. (On the down side, only 30 minutes for lunch, so no time for playing in personal e-mail or anything.)

#7 Payday will arrive. It hasn’t arrived yet and it may not arrive on the next scheduled payday, but I have faith that it will arrive. It’s not a funding issue. Our stupid payroll company says they didn’t get the notification eight days ago that I was hired. Whether or not they’ll get me into the system for the next payday is still up in the air. But I have faith that payday will arrive. You know. Some day.

#8 Short “to do” list. I finally got my notes organized and I only have seven things on my “to do” list, some of which are just reminding others to send me data. (On the down side, one of them says, “billing” which is easy to write but going to be tough for me to do.)

Posted by AnneZook at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
More professionally

I know some of you may be less-than thrilled with the previous, narcissistic entry.

You may, for instance, be more interested to know how the new job is going or something? Someone mentioned to me that I blogged the start of my training (on the 13th) but never followed up.

For those keeping score at home, yes, I did learn all four new software programs in five days. And then I took Monday and Tuesday of this week to practice the two most complicated of them, to make sure I can actually produce a finished product. The other two are a bookkeeping program that I should have practiced but don't really have any interest in and a mass-email program (opt-in only, I promise) that I only have to know Dreamweaver for.

I don't actually know Dreamweaver and it wasn't on the list of things I knew I needed to learn until last Friday when the Tweenybopper dropped it casually into a conversation. She passed along a book on html that I will be studying with fierce dedication. It's not specifically on Dreamweaver, but she assured me it would be enough.

So...what else? Well, aside from the duties associated with the four software programs, there are a handful of other duties. Prepping for and attending conferences to help scoop in respondents for the satisfaction surveys. A bit of light bookkeeping. (So not my strong suit.) Some shipping and receiving. Keeping the kitchen clean which, yes, is entirely beneath my position and my years of experience and while I know that no one would ask a man who had my job to also clean the kitchen, I'm resigned. Besides, there are days when one doesn't really feel productive and it doesn't really hurt to have something non-productive but that looks like work to fall back on.

Also? I've seen both Buehler and Bernie wash the dishes themselves a time or two, so it's not as sexist as it sounds.

Anyhow. Bernie was actually out of the office last Friday and then Monday and Tuesday of this week. Technically I wasn't working today although I did go in for the Tweenybopper's Farewell Lunch (and to spend a couple of hours going over some additional questions I had for her). So I haven't really worked with Bernie enough to know if he's going to drive me as batshit crazy as he seems to drive almost everyone else.

So, you know, besides the news that I broke my brain learning too much new stuff in one week, I just don't have that much to report about The New Position. Presumably more excitement will ensue upon my return from Escapade...but I'll worry about that then.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, February 13, 2006
Hi-ho, hi-ho!

Yes, it's off to work I goed!

(Sorry about that.)

Today was my first day (of eight) of training.

On the one hand, I haven't had the luxury of getting a job where there was anyone available to train me in...must have been a decade or so. It's an unusual experience any more.

On the other hand, I really hate being trained. I usually do well enough if just left alone with a software program (I have four new ones to learn for this job) and whatever manual is available.

But, back to the first hand, after today, I barely understand what the job is. Oh, I understand vaguely that I'll be helping to prep stuff for conferences and bulk e-mails (opt-in only) and electronic newsletters. But I don't understand the stuff you have to do to get to the point where you arrive at a conference or send the e-mail/newsletter. (A lot of that is where the four s/w programs come into play.)

I keep telling myself to look upon it as an adventure, not as a sign that I'm getting old and feeble-minded and unfit to be in the job force any longer.


But! Paychecks will again begin to arrive on a regular basis! I can get behind that concept. I can pay for Escapade! (I can shop on Amazon! I can buy...stuff!)

If I can find them, I can buy my previous shampoo and crème rinse and throw away this garbage I bought when I was trying to be "frugal." Turns out that cheap hair products were a false economy, judging by the mass of dried-out straw currently covering my head.

I can buy the other twelve books in the series I just started reading. (Not all at once, of course.)

Second sigh.

Although...I finished a new book yesterday and took it to my room to shelve it. Three hours later, I had two boxes of books stacked in the bedroom floor that I'm getting rid of but don't know what to do with (I've taken to many to the local library that they're giving me dirty looks when I walk in with a box full. I may have to drive to other libraries.) I also have a handful of MYSA-AS books I bought that turned out to be mistakes (for my taste). I may take those to Escapade and drop them onto the swap table. Someone might want them.

And I didn't (back to the beginning of that last paragraph) really clear out that much space on the shelves, either. I might be able to fit another carton or three of books in storage. I guess that's my only other option, until I find a larger place to live.

But. I was going to talk about the new job, wasn't I?

I have a deadline for learning everything. Early in May I have to attend a conference in San Francisco. All of the now-daunting and mysterious software programs and projects will be required to prepare for this. So, I have sixty days to learn to do a lot of things I've never done before.

I could swear that when they offered me this job, it sounded a lot more like the sort of thing I've been doing for twenty years, but it's not really looking like that.

Which reminds me...I brought home 160 pages worth of instruction manuals. I should be reading them.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:27 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday, February 2, 2006

She gasped, sagging into a chair.

#1 - I have completed my sentence...I mean assignment, at the R.C.'s festival.

The merriment continues in festive downtown Denver, but I'm not scheduled to partake of any more of it. I did 23 hours in 2 days and that was more than enough. I'm too old to do that kind of thing. Especially without six months to gear myself up for it mentally. And maybe drugs.

I'm going to babble on about it at length, so feel free to skip to #2.

The experience didn't start out auspiciously. I was booked in to the H*l*d*y Inn, a chain I'd never book on my own money, and when I called for directions, I reached a very silly woman.

Me: "I'm booked into your hotel and I've never stayed there before. I've just arrived in downtown Denver and I was wondering if you could tell me where the entrance to the parking garage is?"

Her: "It's right beside the gift shop."

I ask you. Is that a useful response?

My meal in their restaurant that evening made me vilely sick. (I should have been suspicious when my soup course didn't arrive in a timely fashion. When I was served my entree, I asked about the soup and was told they were, "heating it up.") In consequence, my entire digestive system was upset for the next two days, but not to any debilitating extent. Also, the H.I. wasn't as gross as it might have been because I was only there to sleep and bathe. It was pretty gross, but it would have been worse if I'd had a lot of spare time and been stuck there for hours.

In spite of being scheduled for 10 and 12-hour shifts on my two work days, I was only scheduled for one 30-minute lunch break each day. That could have been a problem, especially Wednesday, when I downed two venti lattes before 10:00 a.m., but there were intervals of calm that I used to good advantage. (The ladies' room was a mere 50 feet away.)

The R.C. took very good care of me, too. She met me for breakfast my first day (possibly to check and see if I was recuperated sufficiently to work) and walked me to my work station. She also lunched and dinnered with me (we dined with another temp, Sweetest, who was at loose ends and towards whom I was already feeling an astonishing gratitude for the amount of time she'd spent helping me with my constant software issues) on Tuesday but by Wednesday, our schedules were already going in completely different directions. (I'm whining, but what she was doing made my job look like a picnic.)

The work itself? As I explained to all and sundry last night, the company asked me if I'd like to come in and earn some more money doing that work. No one asked me if I'd be good at it. (Had they asked, I'd have answered honestly. No.)

As it turns out, I wasn't. Good at it, I mean. Oh, I was fine with the people part of the thing. Meeting and greeting and getting people through the registration line with dispatch and courtesy. But my accounts never balanced at the end of the day.

30 years ago I had a very brief career working at a bank. The reason it was very brief was because my cash box never balanced at the end of the day. You'd be surprised how cranky that kind of things makes a banker. I know I was.

Thanks to the courtesy, expertise, and all-around fabulousness of Sweetest, I wasn't required to hang out there until midnight each day struggling with the problems I'd created. At the end of each shift, she kindly took my papers and beat them into shape. (One day she did it for me mid-day, correcting the problems I'd already introduced into the equation. I must admit she wasn't best-pleased to discover that I was still off at the end of that day. I seem to have discovered ways to misuse their proprietary computer program never before explored in the history of their company.)

I even had my own assistant to help with the more routine parts of the task, which should have allowed me to focus on doing my data entry more carefully.

Sadly, although she was in every other way a jewel, said temp was inclined to bossiness and wanting to do things her way and not the company's way. Although I hate a conflict more than anything else in the world, by Wednesday morning I was forced to draw her aside, tell her that she was proactive, hard-working, cheerful, great with the registrants, and a lot of fun to be around. And that she was also and unfortunately inclined to argue with me in front of the registrants, which Would. Not. Do. On matters of where we were to apply the rules rigidly and where we were to be flexible, I was and had to be the last word.

(This isn't me control-freaking, although I know it sounds like it is. Her organization makes a lot of money offering temps to help at big shows. I thought it was important that any decision that had to be made that might be wrong and cause problems in the future should be unquestionably not her fault.)

(Also? If the registrant can get the people behind the desk arguing about what can or can't be done, they've won. No matter how rigidly the rule should have been applied, they know they're going to get a free ride. Considering the amount of money it costs companies to provide staff for on-site registrations for people too lazy or disorganized to register in advance, on-site registrations really need to be discouraged.)

What else? Oh, yes. I'm not a morning person, something I might have mentioned ten or fifty times in the past. It's a bit...disconcerting...for me to be faced with 700 very anxious registrants at 6:30 a.m., all of whom need to get their badges and info and be on a bus by 7:00. Technically, helping them wasn't my job but even if not asked (very politely and anxiously) if I "minded" giving a hand, I doubt I'd have been able to sit at my own station and ignore the throngs. It's a tribute to the experience and slick organization of the R.C.'s company that they handled the situation with ease.

(It remains a mystery to me why organizations don't build a 48-hour window into their schedules and just mail the pre-registered attendees their information, but not a big mystery. People would lose or forget stuff and anyhow, having worked behind the scenes for the last three months, I understand that those responsible for organizing the show cannot beg, whine, bribe, or force the necessary information out of others a single instant before the last one.)

In closing, let me say that I don't think I've ever worked with a nicer bunch of people than the R.C.'s group, and that I never want to see any of them again.

(Except Sweetest, someone I'd hire in an instant for any position I had available that might interest her.)

Moving on....

#2 - I'm employed!

Buehler is not yet at a place where he can pay me, but the sister company of Bernie, the Tweenybopper, and DiamondGirl is in need of assistance. It seems that the Tweenybopper and her twin sister are moving to Philly. Thus, a replacement is required.

Of all the options in front of me, working for Bernie was the least attractive, but I told myself I'd work for whomever (Whoever? That's a tricky one.) came through with an offer first and he beat out Alvin by 24 hours. Also, since he can't quite yet pay me what Buehler was paying, I have the option to switch to Buehler in the future if I choose to.

I haven't yet broken the bad news to Alvin.

So far, Bernie and I have had two extended chats about the evils of micromanaging people. We'll see if any of my boulder-like hints made an impression.

(I remember a time when having three men vying for my favors meant I was going to get laid. Is it a sign of maturity, venality, or just old age that I'm willing to settle for money these days?)

Anyhow. I was right to tempt the fates by scheduling Escapade. I start for Bernie on the 13th of this month but he knows I'll be out of town the 23rd through the 28th. (I always schedule an extra day off at the end of Escapade, just to revel in the renewed Fannish Love.)

I have the next ten days off and I intend to spend them relaxing, a thing I haven't been able to do much of during my stint of so-called unemployment. I am going to treat it like a vacation.

3 - Starting today...because I just this second realized that if I'm employed, I can shop!

As soon as I have the strength to get out of my easy chair, I'm putting on shoes and going to the bank to deposit the $700+ in paychecks that I didn't get around to depositingn last, week, then I'm going to hit a store.

I'm not sure what store, but a store!

Posted by AnneZook at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 3, 2006
The Gang's All Here!

Buehler, Bernie, the Tweenybopper, DiamondGirl, and Moe. Sassy and the Mad Doctor are present in spirit, but really only here in e-mail.

It's like I was never gone.

I arrived at 9:00 and by 9:20 I was wandering over to Starbucks for coffee.

Buehler had a parking pass for me, so I did not wind up parking in the residential neighborhood nearby and walking three blocks to the office.

I worked for about 20 minutes, chatted with Buehler off and on for an hour, read the morning headlines, checked my personal e-mail, said 'howdy' to everyone here, and ate lunch.

I've been here for five hours and I've worked about one hour. I made two phone calls, sent two e-mails, made 20 photocopies, and addressed five envelopes.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. I did a few more important things. For instance, after swearing me to secrecy, Buehler admitted that he'd forgotten to mail the holiday cards that Sassy had so carefully prepared to him. I stuffed the cards into the addressed and stamped envelopes and I'll be taking them to the post office in a few minutes.

I also appreciated the Christmas presents Buehler gave me. (Cool stuff. A little light-up Christmas tree that plugs into a USB port. A little music box. A cool calendar from Business As Usual. A weird thing that you put around your coffee mug that holds your pens and scissors and stuff on your desk. (If I used it, I wouldn't be able to drink from the mug, but it's a cute gadget anyhow.

In one of today's big successes, I bullied AOHell into finally closing the two unwanted AOL accounts that Buehler has been trying to get closed for a year or more.

To be honest, there were days when I was employed here full-time that I wasn't this productive (it's not the time spent, it's the tasks accomplished) but I'm still a tad bored.

I keep reminding myself...every hour worked is a little more money in my pocket. (It amazes me how I used to take the bi-weekly appearance of a substantial amount of money in my checking account for granted.)

At the moment, Buehler's off having lunch with his wife and, not incidentally, getting my check, which he accidentally left in the other car.

Me, I spurged and spent $4 on a sandwich for lunch.

It was interesting to walk over and see the same old panhandlers hanging out on the street corners, say hello to the same old staff at the sandwich shop, and nearly get run over in the streets by the same old drivers who feel that a crosswalk is intended to help them with their aim.

At the moment, I'm waiting for the appearance of two mailing addresses in my in-box, for two more envelopes I have the thrill of preparing. Then I'll be driving to the post office.

I'll bet you wish your life was as exciting as mine, don't you?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2005
Really Weird Shit

In that category would have to fall hearing a man's voice and a woman's voice, raised in cheerful conversation from behind the closed door of the men's room in the hallway.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Tuesday Blahs

This morning's 7:30 phone meeting was nowhere to be found when I called her. I'd like to complain, but since all I did by way of preparation was roll out of bed and boot up the laptop, I wasn't really that inconvenienced. Still. It's rude to stand someone up.

Now I'm working on Blister-Pak's weekly status report. My stuff is fine but, as usual, the ones that Bossyboots is supposed to be handling haven't moved since last week. Dork.

Apparently our power was out (at home) last night. At least, that's what the R.C. is telling me, via e-mail. Me, I'm not exactly a rocket scientist first thing in the morning (well, ever) but the two clocks I rely on are both on batteries so it's not like the power having been out would affect me. And so many of our appliances are so much smarter than we are any more...the computers, television, DVD box, and cable box all take care of themselves. We have to reset the clock on the stove and (if we're feeling energetic) the clock on the microwave.

Looks like I'll be having another Unpaid Day this week. Probably Friday. Sigh. I do wish Coco would call and say they're ready to take me on. I sure am tired of living with a 20% pay cut. And I'm tired of having nothing to do all day. (Well, okay, I chat with y'all and if no one is watching, I practice my drawing or play computer games or send personal e-mails, but it's a slow life.)

I think it's time and past time that I stopped just loitering around, waiting for her to provide me with a job. I'll have to start hunting down the Want Ad Trail. This realization if largely responsible for my current blahs mood.

Also, the knowledge that if I don't get out of here soon, I'm going to have to break down and do some of the tedious things I've been ignoring. (Real Work sometimes disappears, but the annoyingly tedious things never seem to.)

More soon....

Posted by AnneZook at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2005
Just A Blogging Fool

I do have a few projects I could work on today, but I feel all bloggy.

Got my coffee. Struck up a brief conversation with a man in line about his little doggie, tied up outside and in a panic for fear he'd forgotten it. (The line was long and moving slowly. I guess the little doggie got bored or freaked out by all the people coming in to the building but never reappearing.)

I was late, it was 9:30, but I saw the BEHM anyhow! (Me? Good clothes today. Bad hair. Naturally.) He seemed happy to see me, in spite of the rather attractive young woman at his elbow. Could have been a coworker but I got a sort of territorial vibe from her. OTOH, he made a point of saying good-bye when I left, so maybe coworker. I'd say she was interested, but he's very attractive, so that's not surprising.

I'm really going to miss him.

I'm going to miss the whole urban vibe. I love can see a hundred different kinds of people in a day and create a thousand potential life stories for each of them.

Even the graffiti has potential. (Who is "Streaker" and did he believe them when they said he'd never walk alone?)

Ever since I start thinking about drawing, I've wanted to take a pad over and try to sketch the little courtyard where three restaurants have their outdoor café tables. And the strip of sidewalk where the Starbucks and Java Juice café tables meander down the sides of the buildings, awnings unfurling against the day's coming heat.

(Hey! Buehler's here! He wasn't supposed to be coming in today. Now I have to go work. Pits.)

Much later....

Okay, I worked. I also had yogurt breakfast today, so I've been starving all day. And now I'm cranky.

Also, I'm out of the blogging mood.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:54 PM | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
And So, the Story Ends

So. Buehler and I had The Talk.

How long he intended to wait, I don't know, so I just got all proactive and introduced the subject myself. I figured, in the long run, it was a lot easier for me to sit him down and say, "hey, why don't I leave" than it was for him to sit me down and say, "hey, why don't you leave" and I'm all about doing things the easy way. As it turns out, he was very grateful for me for saving him the guilt and the pressure.

Buehler, Bernie, Sassy, Diamondgirl, Bossyboots, Extension 17, Moe, Curly, Frogmorton, and the Mad Doctor. What a cast of characters they've been! No more DDIALMFTTS stories of office life and urban adventures, either.

Coco's meeting with her boss tomorrow. It will probably be a couple of weeks before she's able to hire me, if my karma remains good and she's actually able to do it, but it's not like Buehler wanted me out the door tomorrow or anything.

I have not yet broken the news to the R.C. I'll do that tonight, I guess. She won't be best pleased to hear I'll be working from home soon and for the foreseeable future, but we'll figure out a way around the inconvenience of that. (We really do need more space.) I'd imagine I'll be working at Coco's some in the immediate future, just for training. And then I'll be in the company's office a day or two a week. At least, that's what I assume. It's all new and unknown....

The fact of Continuing Employment is the most important, that's what I'm reminding myself. A paycheck is a very good thing to have.

Anyhow. I'll have to start gradually cleaning out my desk. Taking home my personal stuff and finding somewhere for it to live in my house. Having one last lunch from Kokoro's. Re-arranging my bedroom to make an office space. Tidying up the hard drive on my work PC to make sure I don't leave any suspicious files on it. Making notes on What's Going On for Sassy, so she can pick up the threads of my projects. Dong all of those Leaving Things. (But not today.)

Stair count so far today: 112

Posted by AnneZook at 04:12 PM | Comments (3)

Thursday, July 14, 2005
Tap Dancing In the Elevator

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday politiblogging.

Beuhler is on vacation and it took some doing to make the bits of work I did have waiting stretch out enough to give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning for both days. (In fact, I succeeded in stre-e-etching the work so well that I managed to forget to do some of it.)

That all changed on Wednesday.

There's this project. A meeting we're planning for some Do-Gooders. I don't...didn't...know much about it. It's Sassy's problem, Buehler told me. Sassy and the California Gal are handing all of it, so don't worry your pointy little head over the details. Fine, I thought. If Sassy in NYC and the CalGal in California are putting together a meeting in Denver and don't need any help from someone located in Denver, I can live with that.

Besides, when it all came up, I was still busy with the Hell's Own Software project. Since then, as I've said before, HOS has ground to a (we hope, but don't believe) temporary halt. I have time on my hands. Time I've been spending stre-e-etching out the DarkGlass study work.

So, when Sassy asked if I could clear the decks for Thursday and Friday this week, to help with any little bits and pieces of stuff that might come up at the last minute, I was all for the idea. Can't spend every day playing Insanguinarium, after all.

Somewhere around, I estimate, Tuesday of this week, it all started falling apart. Deliveries weren't being delivered. Copy jobs weren't being copied. Educational notebooks weren't being assembled. (I got a look at the agenda and realized that the schedule was laid out by a lunatic...but that's a different rant.)

It's close to 100 degrees here in the afternoons right now, so I wasn't best pleased to be asked to visit the Downtown Branch of a Major Copy/Shipping Chain (who shall remain anonymous and hereinafter be referred to as Finko because I don't love them) yesterday.

Still, I like Sassy and I'd agreed to help so even though it was a full 24 hours before the legal start of my Amazingly Teamwork Oriented Volunteerism, I popped into my little car, shook my head over the 1/8 tank of gas, and headed Downtown. (I was expecting a Very Important Office Supply Delivery but I asked the Tweenybopper to keep her eyes out for it.)

I hate driving Downtown. Streets, as we all know, are laid out in a grid pattern. Except in Downtown Denver, where some raving psychotic decided that what we need were streets laid out in XXX patterns with all the streets going one-way the other direction, and occasional abrupt and inexplicable intersections between five streets, none of which actually lead in the direction you're going. And the one street that does seem to lead to your destination is always blocked off and under construction.

I won't give you chapter and verse on my attempt to journey the measly two miles between my office and the Downtown Finko office. Suffice to say that it was enlivened by stalled cars, jaywalking geriatrics, offloading trucks, police vehicles, and flat tires (not mine).

In spite of getting lost (don't ask) and driving for 12 blocks in exactly the wrong direction, I eventually overcame the negative cosmic energy and found not only the Finko office but a parking place a mere 1/2 block away.

35 cents later I was on my way inside to pick up the Vitally Important Print Job that Sassy had called about that morning and had been assured would be waiting for me. (Okay, the VIPJob was scheduled to be ready at 10 a.m., but I spent the first five hours of my day working on some other bits and pieces of the Meeting That Is Someone Else's Problem, and then what with getting lost and all, it was 2:38 when I strolled into the Finko office.)

The job wasn't done.

Not only was the job not done, a full 4-1/2 hours after it should have been, but they disclaimed all knowledge of it. No one there had ever heard of my, my company, or our print jobs.

The I.C. is good for a few things. I'm not normally very aggressive, but by that point I was In No Mood To Be Trifled With. I fixed the little blonde with my third-best mean-and-beady gaze and said, "Really?"

She went away and dug two of the three orders out of the bowels of their computer system and they were ready for me in five minutes.

The third job they persisted in refusing to disgorge. Some la-di-dah, I'll just bet story about not having received the files. I dropped off the 13 new print jobs I'd taken down with me (yes, I was suspicious of their bona fides by then, but I was running about of time), promised to e-mail the files for the Mysteriously Missing Print Job and scheduled to pick it all up this morning.

I made my way back to the office. The Very Important Office Supply Delivery hadn't arrived, so I called Sassy who called the company who swore it would be here by 5:00.

To make a long story short, I e-mailed the missing job to the Finko crew, called them this morning, confirmed they'd received it and that it would be ready with the rest of my jobs at 11:00 this morning.

The Very Important Delivery did not arrive yesterday, so I called Sassy again and she called the Very Stupid Delivery People who seemed quite hurt that when they'd brought our delivery by at 7:30 last night, no one was in the office to receive it.

This morning, I drove back Downtown (avoiding most of yesterday's Adventures In Urban Driving), coughed up three bucks for the parking place it took me 15 minutes to find, and hoofed it down to the Finko office for my print jobs.

The Original 13 were done. The ones I'd e-mailed, and called to confirm three hours before were...missing in action. Not done. No one had ever heard of me or my e-mail.

I ratcheted up to my second-best mean-and-beady gaze and said, with awful gentleness, "I did call this morning."

(Where was I? Bossyboots stopped in for a chat and distracted me from my rant.)

Oh. Yes.

Forget it. I'm bored of that saga. The Finko Staff did the copies, offered me no discount for having screwed up everything they'd touched (or forgotten to touch) over the last 24 hours, I made it safely back to the office with 20 minutes to spare before my training call, and the Very Important Office Supply Delivery did arrive a few minutes ago, so I have to go work.

Except...that means opening the Completed Job Boxes that I brought back from Finko's and although I did a cursory check of the copies while I was there and everything looked okay...I'm afraid.

Finko was formed by the merger of two companies. One specialized in making copies of things. The other specialized in delivering on-time, every time.

Since then, as near as I can tell, they've never managed to make any copies for me either right, or on time.

Drat. It just occurred to me that I haven't remember to empty the company mailbox in three days. It will be overflowing. That means a scary trip to the bowels of the building (who puts a conference level in below a parking garage? I suspect this building was once a fall-out shelter.) which means using the elevator. I have Dark Suspicions about those elevators.

Not that I actually mind having to jump up and down to make them move. I feel just like the girls in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2005
This Week In My World

Saturday I shopped. For the office, so I didn't spend my own money.

I looked at and resisted a manga trilogy. (I bought a book the other day, did I mention that? I'm going to read it and see if I really like it or if it was just because I was on vacation. I frequently read things on vacation I w0uldn't read at any other time.)

Sunday I did very little. A bit of writing. The DS story is moving very slowly. It's moving, but slowly. I need to watch some episodes, maybe.

I watched Mysterious Island which was disappointing because it didn't have any giant lizards but very satisfying because it had a giant octopus. When I watch cheesy SF, I expect giant lizards. Still. Any movie that gives you giant crabs, red-headed chickens, bees, an octopus, and a ship-full of pirates can't be all-bad. And a volcano! Lava!

I politiblogged. I read. I rested. It's odd. Most Sundays I do very little, but the days seem to fly by.

I ate a great deal. I've been eating a lot recently for someone who's technically on a diet.

I started the diet again today. At the moment I'm stuffed, but with "legal" food. An apple. Some watermelon. 1/2 cup of rice. 2 oz sausage (okay, not exactly "legal"). 1 carton yogurt. 3 oz chocolate (okay, not even remotely legal).

Mostly legal.

Very stuffed. With a bit of luck, I won't have much appetite for supper.

Today I'm at work. (Which isn't the same as to say I'm working, you understand.) At the moment, I'm trying to ignore the man wandering around with his head stuck through one of those plastic doggie collars they use to keep dogs from biting at themselves.

Buehler met some photographer who needed an office to shoot some photos in. Apparently he wanted something "lived-in." So our piggy little place is going to star in some ad or something. Shrug. Anyhow. I don't want to stare at this man. For someone who volunteered to have his head stuck through a plastic cone, he seems surprisingly self-conscious.

Bossyboots showed up around 1 or 2 today. The photographer's assistant happened to be helping the model with his make-up when he (Bossyboots) arrived. He (Bossyboots) was predictably weirded out by it all. (Well, of course, when he asked me why that woman was putting make-up on that man, I told him some lip gloss would do him a world of good. So maybe I started it.)

When I'm the most relaxed, I'm the least interesting, blogwise. As you can tell, I'm very relaxed today.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Okay, so when I left the office for my mini-Escapade vacation, I was only gone for four days, granted, but during those four days, my e-mail and voice-mail just stacked up, waiting for me to get back.

Bossyboots is about to be out for five or six days and the first thing Buehler asked me is if I know how to check his (Bossyboots') voicemail.

I'm aggravated. If Bossyboots didn't have to do my work while I was gone, why do I have to do his work while he's gone?

Later note.... Okay, that was yesterday. I bailed on the diet last night, ate a big meal, and today I'm feeling more cheerful about it all.

(Two seconds ago, Buehler came in steaming because Bossyboots didn't put an auto-reply on his e-mail while he's out, wanted to know if I could check his e-mail. But Buehler will forgive Bossyboots. The problem with being the "good employee" is that people don't value the non-squeaky wheel.)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Here We Go Again

Ahhh..., the Glamorous Life Of Me.

More business travel impending. Am I going to sunny San Diego, you ask? Warm South Florida? Viva Las Vegas? No.

Branson, Missouri.

Kill. Me. Now.

Well...I can do a Familial Visit, just a quick overnight or two-day stay at the same time.

Also, New Orleans. I don't like New Orleans. I've been there twice and it smelled funny both times.

Also, all of that stuff about the great food is a lie. The last time I was there, I was there for a week and the only decent meal I got was at, of all places, a Benigan's. Actually, I was running a fever and had a savage sinus infection (that's the trip where my head exploded) and as near as I can recall, it's almost the only meal I had while I was down there.

I'm attempting to pawn New Orleans off on Sassy. I'm sure she'd love to visit there. Besides. She's young and strong. She can take it.

In other non-events, I've divided my desk in two. Metaphorically To my left are the papers, files, and notes about things that Must Be Done for the DarkGlass study. A project no one is paying attention to dies, and this one is going to die if I don't start feeding it the love.

To my right, debris associated with Hell's Own Software and that project. 102 clients and climbing, that's what I'm trying to organize for that one. I have it...not under control, but I have the screams down to a dull roar.

It does occur to me, not being as stupid as I look, that if I spent less time blogging during the day, I'd be able to manage both of these projects more easily.

Work ethic, where is thy sting?

Also? Men are weird. I'm riding up in the elevator with a guy just now and as the elevator reached my floor and I stepped forward to exit...out of the corner of my eye, I saw him grab his weenie through his pants. And I'm thinking, "What? Did it feel like it was going to fall off or something?

Once I posted (on a different blog) that a pet peeve of mine is sitting in traffic and seeing some guy ahead of me open his car door and spit on the pavement. Or walking down the sidewalk and having to sidestep the residue of some guy spitting on the sidewalk. And some guy posted this angry comment about "what do you expect us to do?" And I'm thinking...I expect you not to spit on the sidewalk. Is this a more complicated concept than I'm understanding or something?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:45 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, January 21, 2005

You know what I hate? I hate when someone hires you for a job because you have 10 years of experience at it...and then expects you to play receptionist/shipping clerk/travel agent on top of it, you know?

I continue to insist that I cannot imagine anyone treating a male employee this way. If they hired a man with ten years of sales account experience, no one would expect him to fend off solicitors, answer the phones, or make other people's travel arrangements, okay?

If Buehler hadn't noticed my frustration and sat down and booked the contractor's travel plans himself, I'd be feeling very bitter at the moment. But he did and now I feel like I was being unreasonable for staring dumbfounded at someone for whom I am the client who thought it was appropriate to "delegate" his work to me.

Also? I'm getting a little uncomfortable with Sterling. He's a very nice man and all and I'm happy to chat with him for a few seconds of a morning and give him a dollar, but I'm not his "girlfriend" and I'm not comfortable with the hugging thing. Some people are huggy...I am not one of them. (He's not hitting on me or anything, he's just being very nice, but I'm not comfortable with it.)

BtVW Seasons 5, 6, and 7 should be appearing today. Weekend festival!

Sorry for the Blogging Lapse. I had four meetings and ten scheduled calls yesterday and I have seven meetings and five scheduled calls today. These kinds of things take up time.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:10 AM | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Bert Died

You didn't know Bert. I'm not sure I ever introduced him to you here, but he was one of the little cadre of homeless men living around this area. I hadn't seen him for a while, but the guys move around sometimes.

But as it happens, when it snowed...not this last time, but the time before, Bert got sick. They put him in the hospital, but he had massive frostbite and his family refused permission to amputate his legs. After a few weeks, the decision was made to pull the plug on the respirator.

Sterling was telling me about it today. At the same time, he was trying to tell me I don't have to give him a dollar every day. And I'm thinking...for the lack of a few dollars to gain him access to some building with heat...Bert died.

And then I wanted to give money to every homeless person in the city because it's supposed to snow again tonight.


And then I remembered. Of course you know Bert. He was the MoonMan. He was building a rocket to take him to the moon so he could be President. He thought he was a better choice than Bush. The last time we chatted, Burt was working on funding for the engine.

Poor Bert. He'll never finish building that rocket now.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:47 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 30, 2004
They Babble, I Babble

Today, in e-mail:

"The Exchange server has been stabilized - The hardware is working and has been moved into the closet."

"Perhaps if you let the hardware out of the closet and assured it that we love it no matter what lifestyle choice it makes, it would be less prone to throwing little tantrums?"


"The DSL modem has been found to be extremely unstable - I called and we should have a new modem no later than Friday."

"If the DSL modem is unstable, shouldn't we consider therapy or even medication before we go to the extremes of throwing it out and replacing it with a stranger? It's our modem, after all. It's problems are our problems."


"The DNS info has been updated and correctly routed - There were numerous old and incorrect entries, so that was cleaned up."

"I can't help but feel it's a mistake to try and erase our history. You can't run away from who you were. We should, instead, attempt to come to terms with our past, to accept our failings, and to learn from them. It is not only our success that define what we are, those things we have attempted and failed have shaped us as well."


"DHCP, DNS and VPN are being combined into one server"

"I venture to suggest that any little personality conflicts will not in fact be erased by this new togetherness. Perhaps, instead, we should allow each element a measure of time when it is allowed to go off on its own? Some down time when it isn't under pressure to conform and align itself with competing systems? This might alleviate some of the current conflicts."

Technobabble. Bah.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I turn the heat blower on in the office and in ten seconds, I'm roasting. I turn it off and thirty seconds later I'm freezing. I hate working in a steel-and-glass building.

Today is the office Christmas Games and Party. I'd like to be out there, chitchatting with the rest of the office, but I'm sitting here on hold, waiting for this morning's meeting candidate to pick up the phone. I've been sitting here for seven minutes.

If someone isn't going to be available for ten or fifteen minutes, why not just ask someone to call back? So rude.

Technically our party doesn't start until 2:30 but I assume most people will be doing very little Actual Work between now and then. Even Bossyboots showed up early (for him) and was very cheerful. I was...polite.

I've been spending too much time on the phone/using a mouse recently. My right shoulder and arm are killing me, and sitting here for nine minutes with the phone clutched between my ear and shoulder isn't helping.

I had to shut the door. The Tweenybopper was telling everyone all about how she'd have called in sick if today wasn't the party. (Me, I always assume if you're well enough to go to a party, you're well enough to go to work, but I've noticed that These Kids Today have no sense of responsibility.) Every time I listen to her, I remind myself I need to learn to moderate my own voice.

'Hold' music is bad enough when you might not like the music being played, but being forced to sit here for eleven minutes and listen to commercials really annoys me.

Finally...they came back on the line. They'll call me back in fifteen minutes.


Later - Okay, it's been twenty minutes and I'm still sitting here. My question is, how long should someone reasonably expect you to wait for them when you've scheduled a meeting?

It's now 33 minutes after the time our 40-minute meeting was scheduled to begin.

Much later - Okay, that was two hours ago. He just called me and asked me to call him back in 20 minutes.

Bah and Humbug.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
This Morning, In Darkness

So, what's new at work? Because I'm sure anyone cares.

This morning, two gentlemen were working on the light bulbs in one elevator. Apparently a bulb had burnt out and this occasioned dismantling the fixture and then standing around, talking about it for half an hour. Either they hadn't brought a replacement bulb (!!) or there was some other hitch in the proceedings I didn't understand because I don't speak Spanish.

The problem, you see, is that they didn't have the ability to turn the elevator off and since it was sitting on the first floor, the other elevator wouldn't stop on the first floor.

This, as you might imagine, was something of a problem for those of us loaded with packages to ship, purses, coffee cups, and lunch bags. I don't mind a few stairs, but not to the sixth floor. Not at 8:00 in the morning, with my arms full of stuff. (Not at any time...I'm okay up until the fourth floor, but then I can feel the effects of too many cigarettes and not enough exercise. I come over all peculiar and I have to sit down and rest.)

Eventually, Sparkle (she keeps the building tidy and gleaming, all day, every day) and I just climbed aboard the unlit elevator and rode up in the dark. And I do mean dark. I'm not often in a place where there is no light.

A tiny box, moving up a narrow shaft, lit, if you could call it that, only by the peanut bulb behind the floor indicator...that's dark. I really need to write an elevator story some day.

Still. It's a good week, so far. For once, I'm not here to rant.

Bossyboots failed to appear until almost noon yesterday, haven't seen him yet today. He called me on the phone once, but he was polite, so that's okay. (He's been sweetaspie to me for days now. If he's being good until Santa comes to town, he needs to know he is not on my Christmas list. I didn't even send him a card.)

DiamondGirl! We hardly knew ye! She's leaving us! (Well...them. Technically she works for a different company.) She got a better, more prestigious job that will be more challenging and pays more money. I don't think that's much of a reason to leave, do you?

Still, because I'm generous that way, I told her we needed to pick a day during her last week when I could buy her lunch.

Buehler is out of the office until Friday, and while I do like him, it's nice to have the office to myself. I'm celebrating by actually working. (Well, and blogging, but as usual, I'm blogging while I'm on hold. Five minutes so far....)

Our work e-mail is down...but it's been down off and on for two weeks, so I'm learning to be grateful for the times it actually works. (And grateful that my own private e-mail provider is so amazingly reliable.)

You know...other than that, it's been fairly peaceful here. Sassy's computer died on her and since she's on the East Coast, that made it tricky to contact her (we work mostly via e-mail and IM) so they got her a new/refurbished laptop and it died the first day she had it.

My brand-spanking-new laptop is supposed to show up today. It better not bust.

The workload continues to increase, which is good. Keeps me busy. We've had 24 new candidates to take on Hell's Own Software in the past week. I like it, the days pass quickly when I'm busy.

I didn't really have much to say at the moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

Friday, December 10, 2004
The Week Of....

I've decided to start having Theme Weeks. This week's theme has been, "Talking To Strange Men."

I started Monday, by approaching a man who was standing, looking bewildered, on a street corner. I was headed over to Starbucks and I said, to myself, "That is a man who wants coffee, but can't find it."

Sure enough, he was pathetically grateful to follow me to the caffeine.

Also, I've been talking to men in the elevator. Some of them seem freaked out to be spoken to by a stranger, but most of them seem very pleased.

One attractive man I saw in Starbucks on Monday was there again on Tuesday, so I struck up a conversation about how we had to stop meeting that way. Yes, it's a cliché, but he seemed to enjoy it. Sadly, I haven't seen him since.

Also, as I walk down the street, to and from my daily latte journey or in a quest for lunch, I've been smiling at and/or speaking to almost everyone I can get to meet my eye. Again, most people seem delighted.

I do this especially with the homeless I see regularly. I don't think that just because someone is down and out, they're no longer a human being. (Also! I saw SmilingSam today! I haven't seen him in months! You remember SmilingSam, right? He's the guy I used to see every day who never wanted money or anything, but who just walked down the street, trying to smile at people. Every morning we'd smile and say good morning to each other, and he always looked blissful at that moment of friendly, human contact.)

They put plastic wrap in the floor of one of the elevators again! I danced on the air bubbles twice already this morning.

The first time, I did it in spite of the fact that there were a couple of guys in the elevator with me. I could feel the tension radiating from the back of the one guy, who refused to turn around or acknowledge the noise, but the other guy (I see him around the building frequently) seemed to feel he knew me well enough to mention that he would remember never to hand me a sheet of bubble wrap.

Before we reached my floor, I had the time to tell him about a company I used to work at where, when things got stressful, we used to throw bubble wrap on the floor and dance on it on Friday afternoons.

Possibly I should re-name this the, "Week of Public Weirdness" but I won't. Who knows to what heights (or depths) of weirdness I may soar (or plummet) over the next few months? I should save that title, just in case.

P.S. A few moments ago, I found it necessary to inform Buehler that I was glad we were able to provide complete facilities so he could spend the first four hours of his day wrapping presents.

Just because you own the place doesn't mean I don't expect you to put in a decent day's work from time to time.

P.P.S. I should mention, I'm almost on schedule for the Holiday List below. I mailed my cards and got one shipment mailed. Only three more shipments to mail (they can go Monday) and that laundry and housecleaning to do, and I'm braced prepared for the holidays.

Well, aside from all the shopping I still have to do tomorrow.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:52 AM | Comments (2)

Friday, December 3, 2004
Let's Just Say

So...what's up with Bossyboots today? Well, about three weeks ago, Buehler and I discussed needing shipping labels for active clients. Bossyboots said he'd run labels for the project.

A few days later I asked him about them and he said he was working on them but didn't have addresses for everyone. I told him to tell me who he needed addresses for and I'd get them.

A week later, I reminded him of this and he said he was getting the addresses. So far, so good.

Monday he presented me with an Excel spreadsheet. I pointed out that "labels" were required, not a spreadsheet. After I handed him mailing labels, sent him a file giving him the address of this office where he is working (I put the address in an e-mail but he insisted it had to be an attachment...but I think I gave you the Saga Of The File Format yesterday, right?), and explained about re-sizing fonts, he produced labels. So far...a little annoying, but still easier than doing it myself, so, okay.

Today I start putting labels on boxes. I do two cartons full 46 boxes) before it occurs to me that I have a lot of sheets of labels for a project that only has 48 active clients. I inspect said labels.

Some are for active clients, but not all of the active clients, because he did not, in fact, get the missing addresses.

Most of the labels consisted of some prospective clients, some clients "accepted" but not active, some people who said call back in six months, and some people who said never call me again.

Okay, it's partly my own fault. I should have inspected the labels when he handed them to me yesterday and I didn't. I knew I should have, at the time. I've been in the workplace long enough to know you check stuff before you send it out. And worked with him for long enough to know that what you get is never quite what you needed.

This does not, in my book, excuse him handing me something that was so far from what was requested.

And none of this, even more, excuses him, upon finding me ripping labels off some boxes, throwing other labels away, and searching through the remaining labels for "active clients, none of this excuses him saying, "well, okay, I'm going to lunch."

I don't like to feel this level of incandescent rage on a Friday.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Wanted: Enforcer

Bossyboots is Pissing. Me. Off. again today.

On Monday, I send an e-mail. What installs did we do this month? I get nothing from him. Buehler asks, did you get a reply? I say, no. Buehler says, ask again. I do. Bossyboots finally responds this morning, says no installs this month. I put '0' in the monthly report and send it out.

Bossyboots sends out an e-mail saying my numbers are wrong, there were installs, and he's 'checking into it.'

I go back and ask what his problem is. He says he didn't see my e-mails asking what installs we did this month. This, you understand, in spite of the fact that he answered one of them less than two hours ago.

This kind of bullshit just infuriates me. Any sensible chimpanzee would make himself a note and send me the numbers at the end of the month. The fact that I have to actually ask him, and always more than once, to get them out of him, is irritating enough, but then to lie to me just, as near as I can tell, so that he's able to send out an e-mail saying I'm wrong, makes me see red.

I'm not a secretary and I'm not a gofer and he's a part-time, contract employee. Where he gets off acting like it's my job to chase him around and wheedle information out of him on whether or not he's done any work is a mystery to me.

Since he'd already made it to Today's List an hour ago* my entire day is now going to be wasted fantasizing about slow and ugly ways he could die.**

I had a whole fun post on writing planned, but now I'm in a foul mood.


* He wanted me to send him some information in a file.

I said, "what file format." Since this information could be presented in a Word document, html, pdf, or any of fifteen other kinds of graphics files, I didn't see this as an unreasonable question.

He wrote back, "just attach the file and send it to me" as though there were some nonspecific format called "file" that I could use.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:17 AM

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Drat the Man

I was sailing today. Cheerful and chipper and sneaking over to my story file every few minutes to tack some more words onto the latest LESS outline. Even doing a bit of work from time to time.

Then the Mad Doctor harshed my vibe.

We use a phone conferencing system, okay? And everyone has a set of access codes so we can tell who uses the service and we know how much to bill back to various people for the work we're doing for them. (Each of us primarily works on a particular project.)

The Mad Doctor has never adjusted to this concept. He wants one set of codes he can use, no matter who he's talking to or about what.

I don't mind him wanting this so much (I wanted a pony when I was four) but I surely do mind him calling up here and spitting venom at me because he left home this morning without the codes he needed for today's meeting.

His inability to track his daily schedule is his problem, not mine. Anyone with a brain in their head would have printed the e-mail and taken it with them. Or written down the numbers.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would have made a list of the numbers they needed by now (there are only four) and stuck them in their wallet. They would have had them available when they needed them.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:25 AM

Friday, November 19, 2004
Free At Last!

It's certainly good to be free of blogger. I wanted to log in to my site just now...and MT let me log right in. Blogger always made me beg.

So...what's new in Urban Adventures these days?

Well, not much. I was worried that Blanket-Head Guy was sick or something, I hadn't seen him in days, but he was there this morning, outside Starbucks. $1 I'm still a touch worried about BaGiMan, though. I haven't seen him in a week. But I've added a new face to the crowd. Meet the MoonMan. He's standing on a street corner with a sign, "Sick of Bush, Moving to the Moon." He explained to me that he's moving to the moon so he can be President for a while. I gave him a dollar toward his moving expenses.

Whatever, okay? I don't give as much to charity as I should. At least this way, 100% of my donation goes directly to the needy. (From their literature, the Food Bank, to whom I just sent a check, spend 85% of the donations on the needy. I'm hoping that's true.)

Oddly enough, I've noticed that they seem less comfortable getting money from someone they've come to recognize than they are panhandling total strangers.

In theory, Buehler is taking the day off. That means he only spent a couple of hours in the office and he only has three conference calls this afternoon. I told need some boundaries, so it's easier to tell when you're working and when you're not.

I'm celebrating a Boss-Free Day by working twice as hard.

Bossyboots and I are, at least temporarily, getting along better. We're both making an effort. (It it a sign of prejudice that when I learned he's a Libertarian, swing-dancing, red-neck, I started cutting him the sort of slash* slack you should cut the mentally deranged?)

The Tweeneybopper has been making her usual full-voiced phone calls, fighting with her family. Yesterday it was, if my overhearing isn't at fault, about a gas leak she has in her car. I'm struggling with asking her, when I really do not want to hear the whole story, and worrying that because she's 20 and not too bright, she's driving around in a car that actually, you know, is leaking gas in some way.

Not much else on the work front. Sassy and the Mad Doctor are driving Buehler nuts this week, but at least that means they're leaving me alone. Since I discovered yesterday that I'd dropped a Major Ball on one of my projects, I needed the time to start picking up the pieces. Fortunately, today I discovered that said droppage was less to do with something I should actually have done than it was in keeping track of what other people were doing. Which probably doesn't make much sense to you but it means that the droppage was only about 10% as bad as I thought it was yesterday.

At the moment, I'm drinking my breakfast (no, not bourbon, it's a fat-free yogurt smoothie with far more calories in it than it should have) and wondering how come I always seem to wind up being hungry for breakfast at 12:30.

Could have something to do with those venti lattes and thick slices of pumpkin bread I get from Starbucks every morning, I guess.

* Slash + Bossyboots = Yuck

Posted by AnneZook at 12:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 9, 2004
Wotta Dork

Bossyboots showed up an hour later, claiming that his defensive and guilty response to my e-mail this morning wasn't actually directed at me.

I am, like, the champion of passive-aggressive behavior and I know a cover-up when I hear one. Lord knows I've juggled those balls a few times in my life.... I'm thinking he needs to be a more creative liar if he wants to continue to compete in the office sweepstakes.

I let him get away with it, though. It's just a job. All I want is for other people to do their part of the tasks so my job isn't harder than it has to be. Whatever they need mentally to get themselves to the point where this happens is okay by me.

(Also, coming back in five minutes after that and blaming it all on someone who wasn't here at the time? So unconvincing.)

DiamondGirl sent out an e-mail to everyone in the suite a few minutes ago, complaining, rather mildly I thought, about the odor of dead lunches past wafting from the company refrigerator. Lacking her charm and good manners, I just got up, marched over there, and opened the refrigerator door.

Then I threw away everything that tried to hide when the light came on.

I have no patience with shilly-shallying today.

Mostly, though, I'm working pretty steadily today. Honest I am, in spite of the spate of blog entries.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:27 PM

Tough Bitch

Heh. Bossyboots and I just had a face-off and he blinked first. I can be tough when pushed. I'm even learning, at this late date in my life, to address things face-to-face before situations deteriorate beyond repair.

Let no one tell you that old people can't learn new tricks. (I won, so I'm entitled to a bit of gloating.)

I'm going to keep beating that fool over the head until he decides that it's easier to document what he does the way he's supposed to than it is to take the abuse I dish out when he doesn't. As long as he's working with 15 clients and I'm working with 150, he has to do things my way.

We had a conference call last Friday where Bossyboots spoke up and volunteered to take on an additional handful of clients. Even then I was thinking, "You can't keep up with the dozen you have, so how is knowing you're ignoring nine more of them supposed to lighten my workload?" but I didn't say it.

The Stooges are in trouble. They're pushing their luck, insisting they have to build custom solutions for problems off-the-shelf software already exists to solve; missing deadlines, etc. My personal suspicion is that they just don't have the time or the expertise to do most of the work they commit to. Only one of them, Moe, seems really to be a certified programming genius. The others seem very capable, but in narrower areas.

Much as I like the boys, and I do, 150 clients have my direct phone number, not theirs. That means these problems have to get fixed or Buehler and the Mad Doctor will have to formulate what response they want me to give to people to explain why what they want isn't materializing. I'm not ducking or dodging the clients and I'm pretty sure no one wants me telling them, "Yeah, I know I work here, but no one tells me anything and I have no idea if they intend to fix the problem or not."

I'm sick of it. I have two major projects to cover, this one with Hell's Own Software and the other one, Darkglass. Darkglass moves by fits and starts, then languishes, depending on how much time Hell's Own Software is sucking up. The split should be 20% Darkglass to 80% Hell's Own Software, but it's more like 1%/99%.

Okay...1% to 54%, if you factor in the amount of time I spend goofing off. <-- Coming soon, prepare to change your bookmarks! (I'd hate to lose any of the six of you reading this.) (And, for those of you who care about such things, I'm having it professionally designed, so you won't be reduced to downloading my graphics, fixing them, and then sending them back to me with instructions to upload the new version and stop looking like such a goober.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:03 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Intervention Anyone?

This could end in tears and recriminations.

This blasted writing thing. I mean, if I weren't fed up because of the S.E.N., I'd be writing DS and XF next.

I had (okay, stole) an interesting idea for a DS story. Not a great DS story, but possibly a cute enough little effort. I've been watching a bit of DS recently and I think it could work.

I had an interesting (okay, perverse) idea for an XF PWP. I wrote a lot of odd (okay, perverse) little stories in XF. Another one couldn't hurt. Right?

For one wild and crazy moment I was tempted....but, no! I'm not getting sucked back into the vortex o'porn!

I'm just writing this one. That's all. Then I'm going to stop. Anyone sees me reaching for a pen after I get the S.E.N. off my back, please hit me with a brick and put a bag over my head.

Lemme see...what else is going on?

Blanketman has started apologizing for bothering me. I'm not sure why. He's always there, outside Starbucks, with his orange blanket over his head, asking for spare change. I don't usually have any change, so I give him a dollar every couple of days. This morning he apologized. Maybe it was because I was carrying two cups of coffee, a manila folder, and a piece of pumpkin bread.

Also, when I accidentally pulled out a five at first, he said that was too much. Well, yeah, it is, but what kind of homeless person would say so?

I saw the BaGiMan yesterday, but the light was green so I couldn't give him anything. He's the other one I hand a buck to sometimes. Only when I hit that light red, though. If I hit it green, he's out of luck. He always calls me, BabyGirl when I give him a dollar. Since I'm pushing fifty (but not very hard yet), I find that rewarding.

You meet the nicest people, on the streets some days, you know?

Like SmilinSam. I haven't seen him for months now, but it used to be that every morning, when I came out of the building and headed for Starbucks, he'd walk past me and give me a big smile. And all he wanted in return was a smile and a 'good morning'. He never asked for money. I think he moved on to a new corner or something. I miss his smile sometimes.

I don't like to encourage homelessness, especially as winter comes on. That's why I give homeless people some money sometimes. Maybe if they collect enough, they can get some food or a night's shelter, you know?

And I'm a sucker for the ones with the signs that say, "Vietnam Vet." I still have a whole generational-guilt thing going there.

Okay...what else? My favorite Starbucks guy is leaving. He says it's time. He doesn't know what he's going to do, but he's sure something will come up. I think he feels the election (his site) will go the right way and that there will be a lot of opportunities out there in a few months. I wish him luck.

I'm beginning to see that the only thing more boring than me droning on about my writing is me trying desperately to find something else to talk about.

I mean, it's fabulously interesting to me that I've written and re-written and filled in gaps until all of the out-of-order scenes are now slotted into the body of the story. In official writing terms, I have only the crisis, climax, and resolution left to write. (None of which have anything to do with sex.) (Well, okay, since I'm running two plots, one of them will climax, forgive the term, in a sex scene, but technically those words don't necessarily refer to anything sexual. Not in a writing context.)

It never quite got good but I will say that, slowly but surely, it's beginning to suck less. I wasn't that crazy about the other long OaT story I wrote but it was better, as a piece of fanfiction, than this one is. The characterization was better, especially for Mac. The development of the slash plot was more linear and was, I think, better-constructed.

This one has a better-developed case story plot (although much of that may disappear in the editing), but that doesn't improve it as slash. It would take more talent than I possess and more time than I'm willing to spend to balance the "case story" plot and the "slash" plot against each other properly.

I still haven't decided if I'll be sharing this one publicly. (I listened to me bitch and moan for two months and that was above and beyond. But, just think! If you get lucky, you might not have to read it.) I still don't regret the experiment, though. I always whined that I wanted to write long, plotty stories. Now I know better. (Heck, I should have known better when I turned out a 36-card outline* even without any of the slash-plot filled in.)

(*I don't regret that either. I still maintain I've had more fun arranging my colored index cards and colored pens and colored flags than I have writing the story.)

All in all, I'm feeling good about the effort.

One year I finished NaNoWriMo. That effort clocked in just over 60,000 words. I never finished the novel in question, but I still could some day and I'm happy about that one because it was original fiction, not fanfiction. It was a fantasy story with original characters in a whole made-up fantasy world I constructed.

And before this, I'd written two fanfiction stories that went over 50,000 words. This will be my third fanfiction "novel."

Maybe each of these actually just proves I'm better when I'm shorter, but by gosh I did write some longer stuff. I am capable of it.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:37 PM

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Okay, let's get the complaints out of the way first.

It's bad enough that the Tweenybopper has such a loud voice. I mean, I have a loud voice, so I can sympathize. But if she's going to take to making her phone calls using the speaker-phone, I'm going to have to put my foot down. I have my office door shut and I can still hear every word she's shouting at the phone.

This morning, I'm sitting here and suddenly there's someone pounding on the door. I mean, Keyless Joe moved out a month ago, right? Whointheheck else would show up before 8:00 and start pounding when no one answers their first knock in five seconds?

In my usual passive-aggressive fashion, I sat here for 30 seconds, letting them pound, while I sipped coffee and thought hard thoughts about the lack of manners and decorum that characterize our society today.

Turns out it was Alvin, stopping by to drop stuff off. I gave him hell.

I'm not at my best today, sorry. PMS.

I need coffee. Starbucks...I'm coming your way in a few minutes.

A burst of manic energy last night got the rest of the dribs and drabs of stuff I've written keyed into the story file. For anyone keeping score, we're over 37k words and 85 pages. Mostly dull.

There have been moments...when I forget "the story" per se and just write, when some good stuff has happened. But not many of them.

A Kind Friend has been giving me advice. Not about the story, but about getting in my own way when I'm trying to write.

It's all quite valid but I live here with me, you know? I've haven't figured out any way to kick me out, even temporarily, so that I can get something done without me standing on the sidelines, criticizing. I used to have the knack...I'd just go into the Zone, the Writing Zone, where I couldn't hear me nitpicking. By the time I started listening to me, the story was done and I was pretty much indifferent to what anyone thought of it, even if it was me.

Anyhow, with the assistance of said Kind Friend, I'm fumbling my way back toward the Zone. Last night I picked up a piece of paper and scribbled down a stupid but very amusing scene. Has nothing to do with The Story but it will make a nice interlude. For two minutes, I wasn't in my own way.

She will, of course, be made to pay for helping me. At any moment I may start sending her bits and pieces of scenes and demanding to know her response to them. "What about this? What do you think this means? Do you understand what's happening here? Who does this tell you the character is? How do you think he's feeling about this?"

It's a lot of work, being my friend.

If I showed up at my door and asked me if I wanted to be friends, I'd probably tell me I'd moved.

She's a good friend though. In response to a casual inquiry on her part about how I got to be so weird (well, she didn't quite phrase it that way), I sent her a three-page essay about my feet. She was very nice about it.

Well, I'd better go do some work. No writing on company time today.

Later: Arrrgh! Buehler just called. He got back to town earlier and he'll be in for a while this afternoon. I haven't done much work so far today. I've got to buckle down!

Posted by AnneZook at 10:00 AM

Friday, October 8, 2004
Inconsiderate Idiots

Buehler and I share an office, okay? It's not a huge office. It's big enough for the two of us because he travels a lot.

The point is that when someone walks to the door and sees that one of us is on the phone, what drives them to start hearty, loud-voiced conversations with the other one? Are they under the impression that someone sitting eight feet away is magically protected from the painful echoes of their voice bouncing off two glass walls?

I have no object to the quiet hello. Speaking in a reasonable tone of voice is perfectly acceptable. We can't each be expected to stop working just because the other is on the phone. But a little consideration, is that too much to ask? Maybe it is. The art of lowering one's voice discreetly when necessary seem to be a lost one.

Bossyboots does it. The Tweenybopper does it. And now the new guy, Stretch, he's doing it. He walked to the door. Buehler is on the phone. I'm looking at my computer, typing. "Good morning!" he booms.

Pisses me off. Pisses me off that I'm always having to shush people and they treat me like I'm being rude.

Yesterday I got up and left at 4:15. It was that ghastly of a day.

Today I came in at 8:00 and by 8:12 I was already kind of sorry. Wednesday, as I did a demo of the latest release of the software for a potential user, I ran into multiple bugs. I complained, they fixed them, and they introduced a lot of additional bugs. Since we have a Major Presentation today to, among others, the people paying us to develop and roll out this software, a certain amount of chaos ensued. That's what went wrong with yesterday, BTW. This morning when I got here, my e-mail just kept loading mail sent yesterday evening...last night...early this morning.

I like to think of developers working all night to fix the stuff they shouldn't have let get past them in the first place, okay?

I'm going to get some coffee. And there had better be at least one piece of pumpkin bread left at Starbucks or someone is going to get hurt.

(Note: The first sip tasted like Mulderanskinner again. So interesting.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:14 AM

Tuesday, October 5, 2004
Blog Naked

As I've been whining to various people in e-mail this morning, now that I've prohibited myself from (political) blogging or writing while I'm at work, there's really no reason for me to keep showing up so early every day. I'm going to stop coming in at 7:15. because all that means is that I'm completely bored with work by 8:00 in the morning.

By the time everyone else starts to roll in, around 9:00, I'm already considering what I brought for lunch. Not because I'm hungry. Just for something to do.

One dear friend suggested via e-mail that I work topless to spice things up. I don't think she quite gets the point. It's me who needs entertained. I don't find the idea of me topless very interesting.

We had a bit of excitement around here yesterday, though.

It was around Brother Darryl, who has, as I believe I mentioned, finally given official notice and is planning to leave this vale o'tears for employment...elsewhere. I've never blamed him...he should have bailed years ago. Bernie, his boss, is a lot of things, but a kind, considerate, highly ethical employer he is not.

So, Brother Darryl had finally had enough. His story was that his family had some kind of work he could do until he found another job.

Then...all was revealed, through the mysterious agency of e-mail.

Owing to an error on the part of a client (clients are always doing stupid things, you know), an e-mail was sent yesterday that should not have been sent until today. As a result of that blunder, it was discovered that Brother Darryl, that sweet, sensitive, long-suffering guy, was planning to walk out of here with a pocketful of Bernie's customers and the software code for one of their products.
I mean, that's just wrong, okay? Unethical. Not to mention criminal.

We had quite the flurry of Official Bodies here yesterday. Some guy from the state equivalent of the FBI, some guy from some employment oversight agency, official interviews, hushed voices, closed doors.

All very shocking.

I'm a bit puzzled as to the outcome of the entire thing, though. I mean, after the Official Bodies left, Brother Darryl was still here. I saw him helping the network person who was beefing up our security as a direct result of the discovery that Brother Darryl had downloaded aforementioned code from our server.

I don't quite get that. I can't wait for Buehler to get here today so I can get the rest of the story.

In other news, I wrote about 600 really boring words last night, thought of three really funny scenes I could have written if the SEN wasn't turning out to be such an unfunny story, and stared at my index cards again.

It's not that I couldn't have written more. It's just that if I'm not letting the guys banter around and sneak lustful peeks at each other every ten seconds, the writing isn't as much fun. I could sit there and string words together all evening long, but what would be the point?

I also realized that my laboriously conceived and outlined plot is ridiculous. No criminals in the world could be this inept. So now I have to go away and think about it all again.

Eventually I gave it up and read P. G. Wodehouse for three hours. That's a much better way to spend an evening.

(Note: Brother Darryl wasn't working when I saw him yesterday. He was assisting, willingly or not, in the stripping of all company information off his PC. To be used in evidence against him, if necessary, although I'm told Bernie isn't planning to file charges.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:28 AM

Friday, October 1, 2004

That's what I'm infected with. No sooner had I announced that it was out of the question for me to write, than I wrote 500 +/- words while I was waiting on hold for someone. My brain seems to do the opposite of whatever I tell it some days.

I gotta have one of those conversations with BossyBoots. Bleah. I have to tell him that if he takes exception to someone thinking he said something, he can't document his protest in the call management software. As I've told him forty-nine times, that software is our back-up to prove the work we're doing on this contract, in case the client or the FDA decides to audit us. This is not the place for him to make whiny.

I went back there to deal with it a couple of minutes ago but he was sitting there on the phone, munching his gums and looking stupid.

I'm in kind of a bad mood.

The next day....

That appears to be all I had to say yesterday.

In spite of this morning's 7:00 conference call and the gross, gray rain, I'm in a better mood today. Possibly that's because I ate like a pig yesterday evening. Sue me. I'm happier and you can't take that away from me. No day can be a complete waste if it entails the wearing of zippy-leg pants!

To: The First Floor 'Ho
If you're over fifty with the wrinkles of a seventy year-old, you dye your hair turquoise, and you slam your 50-inch butt into a pair of raggedy size 14 jeans, you're going to look like a skanky 'ho. It's a given, okay?

Maybe you are a skanky 'ho and don't mind advertising the fact, I don’t know, but walking around with a chip on your shoulder about looking skanky doesn't add to your social appeal, so don't give me hateful looks for doing a double-take.

You knew you looked like a freak when you left home this morning. Do you honestly expect me to believe you're wearing turquoise spiked hair because you don't want to attract attention?

You express your individuality by looking like a reject for a Bride of Frankenstein casting call.

I express mine by being disconcerted to find you in my office building.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:52 PM

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Okay, this sucks

After weeks of abusing Extension 17 (if you're paying someone, they should show up for work. And actually do some work) (I'm an exception, okay?) I'm now in his debt. Yesterday I left my headlights on when I got to work. That's the third time in the last six months. I think I'm getting senile.

Anyhow, Extension 17 kindly offered me a jumpstart and now I feel morally obligated not to abuse him again for at least a week. Grrrr.

This morning the beast wouldn't start again. Fortunately for my peace of mind (and my 9:00 appointment), Lynn hadn't left for work yet. I managed to push the beast back out of my parking space (just call me Muscles) far enough to use her car to jump it, but I damaged myself in the process. (Okay, I cut my finger. Battle injuries are battle injuries, okay?)

I need a new battery. Let's hope it's nothing more complicated than that. I haven't the faintest idea where to buy a battery for a car. When my toys break, I usually throw them away and buy new toys.

Fortunately for the apartment dumpster, Lynn suggested I call the dealership where I bought the car, so I'll be doing that in a few minutes. With luck, I can get an appointment to take the beast over there today and get all the little bits and pieces done. (Might as well have it tuned up while they have it.)

I have netmeetings at 9:00 and 11:00 today, but I'm free in the afternoon.

As I drove to work, trying desperately to get the battery charged while driving in stop-and-go traffic, I found myself wondering if the fool thing was going to start when I leave here today. I mean, I can hardly go down and drive it around the block a few times once an hour to keep the engine warmed up, now can I? And yet, I'm uncomfortably aware that I'm likely to find myself kicking a dead engine again when I walk about of here in a few hours. Which means I'll wind up owing Extension 17 another favor. I don't think I can take that.

As I drove to work, I also had fantasies of just leaving the beast at the dealership and walking out with a new car, but I'm thinking calm thoughts while I disinfect the wound I got jumpstarting myself this morning. I'm really not in the mood to take over $500/month car payments at the moment and there's nothing wrong with the beast that regular maintenance wouldn't cure. The occasional oil change, some new plugs, maybe wiping off the top fifty layers of crud under the hood, that sort of thing.

Anyhow. I'm in a bad, bad, bad mood.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:13 AM

Friday, September 24, 2004
Things That Make You Go....

Okay, so I show up at ten till seven this morning.

That's 6:50 a.m., the time of day I usually spend leaning against a wall in the kitchen, sucking down my first cup of coffee.

I was out of bed, dressed, face nicely scrubbed, and at my desk, ready for this morning's 7:00 a.m. conference-training call in plenty of time.

It's sad to be all alone in the world. Especially in the office at 7:00 in the morning. My trainee, who shall remain nameless, failed to materialize.

I called her office, she wasn't working today.

I dialed into the 800 conferencing number and the internet software (both of which, by the way, cost by the minute) and sat there for fifteen minutes, hoping she'd appear. No dice.

Spending the next hour not working was just...well, it was okay. Because, technically, it was "my" time. The two hours after that...not so forgivable.

That's why I'm not calling Nameless Woman any names, though.

I mean...I was here. I had time on my hands. Writing ensued.

Nameless Woman? Thank you.

When I stopped writing last night, I had the guys in a closet. (I argued with Mac for a week, okay? He was adamant about the closet. There are few things I hate more than losing an argument with an imaginary person, so I gave in and pretended it was my idea in the first place.)

Now I'm sort of brooding over how much UST is too much, you know? This is mostly a case story, with romantic-possibly-leading-to-sexual interludes. So I'm thinking that maybe eight pages of "plot development" that actually contains six pages of UST might be a bit much.

On the other hand, you never go wrong in fandom by assuming the reader mostly wants to read about how amazingly turned on the guys get for each other, right?

If one of the guy's pulse gets a little rapid, if his heart starts racing, if he starts feeling overheated and more than a little overdressed...well, that's what we all live for. If he's standing there, screaming in his mind for his partner to just reach out and grab him already, please, well, that's what we come to slash to read, right?

Besides, it serves Victor right. He hasn't been very cooperative over this story. If he doesn't behave himself, he could wind up standing there, sweating in the dark, for a looong time. I'm just saying. I know I always say, "no character abuse" but there's a certain level of abuse I'm more than happy to inflict on a stubborn, opinionated, uncooperative character, so he'd better watch out.

Anyhow. Where was I?

I could go do some work. It's not inconceivable.

Later note....

My 1:00 conference call dissed me just the way the 7:00 one did. But I've been working, for minutes at a stretch, today.

Also, I wrote two more pages of UST before I got the guys to the smooching stage and then...I forgot how to write about kissing.

The rest of the day will be spent on non-erotic, paid endeavors.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:11 PM

Thursday, September 23, 2004
Write Me A Story, Dammit

If you loved me, you'd write me a story. I'd really like to read something good in this fandom. If I had good stories to read, I wouldn't be feeling the urge to write something myself.

(Probably someone has written good stuff and I either just didn't hear about it, or someone told me about it when I was in my "non-fandom" stage and I forgot.)

I mean, there was an illicit organ bank located in a spa, killer klowns, rogue assassins, alien abductions (complete with Mulder-Scully clones, a mob family run by an 18 year-old college girl, a remake of The Maltese Falcon, a sex club, and a 007 knock-off. Those were all situations from episodes. I can't imagine how you could get too far out in fanfiction. There's almost *nothing* you couldn't write.

Doesn't that entice anyone who writes well?

Surely someone out there can get past how painful the episodes can be to watch, study up on the characters, and write me some M/V slash to make me happy? All I ask is that you have the characters in character, okay?

Oh, and don't write something that's going to annoy me, then send me a link to it, okay? No pregnancy, no death stories, no het, no threesomes, no crossovers, no abuse.

My wants are simple. Write something good for me. Something kind of longish where there's a lot of UST and a little action, then a lot more UST.

To talk about something besides my self for the moment, let me mention that the Tweenybopper is driving me nuts today. I think if she wants to fight with her mother about her healthcare, she really should do that on her own time. She sits at the other end of the suite from me and her voice, which carries, bounces off the glass besides her and almost echoes back into my office. I can't hear myself think. I know my own voice carries, I wouldn't care to share an office with me, but since I don't listen to myself talk, it doesn't really bother me. Her voice, on the other hand, is very distracting.

Makes it very hard to work on the software walk-though I'm trying to construct.

Makes it even harder to hear Victor and Mac talking and they're having a very tricky conversation about where it is, and is not, appropriate for Mac to put his hands.

(I've given up on using a sensible approach to writing the story and now I'm just writing whatever bits of dialogue or scenes that occur to me. I'll figure out a way to link them all up into an actual story some other time.)

Three hours later....

Well, the old work ethic returned. I have a walk-through.

I don't have any more story.

Sad, but virtuous, that's me.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:32 PM

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I am in such a foul mood.

After an early a.m. doctor's appointment that ran 40 minutes longer than I expected (tell me, how can they possibly be running late already at 7:30 in the morning?), I had to swing back by my apartment on the way to work to change clothes because I remembered that I had a Business Lunch today. And it's raining. I keep meaning to buy a raincoat.

Then, instead of puttering to work through near-empty streets (I usually go in before rush hour), I had to fight my way in through a flood of morons who saw water falling from the skies and assumed it was the End Times and that traffic laws no longer applied.

I should never make early morning medical appointments. I do it under the theory they won't be running late (hah!) and that I'll be in and out faster, but the truth is that I loathe and abominate going to the doctor...any kind of doctor, and it puts me in a filthy mood for the entire day to have an appointment first thing in the day.

Also, Buehler (who gets a bad rap on this page, he's really one of the most considerate bosses I've ever had*) is on my short-list today because the bookkeeper is coming in again tomorrow, a fact Buehler casually informed me of just a few minutes ago. This means I'll be kicked off my computer for the day. I should point out, it's even less convenient than it was before because I have tele/internet conferences scheduled and the only two unoccupied computers in the building are too old and feeble to use for the purpose.

That means that after smacking Bossyboots down for the past month, I now have to go to him and beg for the use of the (company-owned) laptop that will run the necessary software. I'm sure he'll enjoy it. (One wrong word out of him and I'll just go home and do the meetings. I have a very good computer at home and it already has all the necessary software on it.)

(*That probably says more about my previous bosses than it does about Buehler.)

I can't believe torch not only writes Wodehouse slash, but now she's thinking of crossing over Bertie Wooster with Peter Wimsey.

I can't decide whether to die of apoplexy or envy.

Last night I tried my own new theory of writing for the SEN, just put words on the page and worry about the rest of it later, and it wasn't a howling success.

Possibly I shouldn't have spent two hours reading Wodehouse first. I had to throw away the first page or two.

Then, however, I buckled down and managed to scrape out three or four pages. It's not great material, but the key is that I'm getting words on the page, right? Boring words, dull scenes, and lackluster characters, but words on a page.

This never works for me...if I don't love the story enough to do it right the first time, it ain't going to happen. The odds of me having a complete personality switch and becoming the sort of person who edits with care and consideration, happily taking the time to do rewrites and polish her prose, are slim to none.

I'm going to do some work. In the back of my mind, I'll be contemplating the memory of my favorite BSOs. I can't think of anything else likely to improve my day besides a huge slab of chocolate and I'm not allowed chocolate on the diet.

Skinner in his underwear...and in that green sweater...Methos in almost anything...Spike in nothing....

I wonder why I never wrote anything for Spike? He certainly tripped my fannish switches harder than anything I've seen since XF. I hadn't thought about him in a while, but I had lunch with a friend on Saturday who mentioned him and now he keeps floating through my mind.


I remembered that two of the protein supplements I brought with me today are hot chocolate-flavored. The day is already improving. Now all I have to do is figure out how to eat Mexican for lunch without destroying my diet.

Also, I have to stop thinking about Doing Things to Skinner. It's 11:00...time to get some work done.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:54 AM

Friday, September 17, 2004

Okay, well, Alvin and The Other Brother Darryl moved out, as I've said, a few weeks ago.

Then Keyless Joe left us for the hedonistic pleasures of Pittsburgh.

Now I hear that Brother Darryl has had enough of Bernie's abuse and he's going to be leaving us. (Bernie is, in fact, very abusive. I wouldn't work for him. Having spent years working for abusive bosses, my gift to myself is that I will never again force myself to do that.) Once he got over not speaking to me because I was new and he didn't really know me (a stage that lasted about a year), Brother Darryl turned out to be a very nice guy.

Also, one of the Stooges will be exiting. Having discovered that his wife is pregnant and his current benefits won't cover the medical expenses, Larry is getting a real job. Working for a seat-of-your-pants software start-up is not a job for a family man.

Moe's departure, on the other hand, is temporary. He's taking a month off to backpack around Thailand or Tibet or something*.

Moe is a fascinating person. He's lived all over world and had the most amazing adventures, from hitching truck rides with guerilla troops in Mexico to spending a few years living in Japan. (Yes, he speaks Japanese.)

This guy is Blair Sandburg with computers instead of anthropology. He's tall, dark, and reasonably handsome, frighteningly intelligent, and very personable. Those of you who know me know how unusual it is for me to let anyone else get a word in edgewise, but I could sit and listen to this guy talk for hours. He's also Ralph Nader's wet dream since he lives in a totally eco-friendly house and drives a car fueled entirely by corn oil or something. He's the most eco-aware person I ever met in my life.

He just returned from taking his mother and her best friend skydiving for her 60th birthday. I've never met his mother, of course, but I'd like to. She must be amazing.

I like to think if I'd been born a guy, I wouldn't be such a coward about trying new things, but the truth is, I probably would be. I had a conservative upbringing by parents who were struggling to raise themselves firmly into the middle-class and, not being adventurous by nature, I've always remained timid.

The biggest adventure of my life was one time when I took a job I didn't think I was really qualified for.

Life is wasted on some of us, isn't it?

(*Okay, so as it turns out, he's taking two weeks off to do some mountain climbing and surfing, but with him, it could just as easily been the Himalayas.)

I did some stuff on the story last night but I'm not telling you about it.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:06 AM

Monday, September 13, 2004
Let's Wave Farewell

To Keyless Joe.

As if to commemorate his departure, he showed up keyless again Friday and I had to put my phone call on hold to go let him in the office. Then, however, he packed up all his little toys and playthings and removed himself from the premises.

The family business is calling him home and he's moving to Pittsburgh. If my family said I had to move to Pittsburgh, I'd get a new family, but that's me.

If I'd had any sense, I'd have started months ago, when I found out he was leaving, saving all of my phone calls and teleconferences for the hours when Buehler is in the office. If I'd been inconvenient enough, he might have decided to move me to Shoeless's now-empty space.

This is why I'll never be a major success in life. I never plan ahead. Just think...a private office! I could have done like Extension 17 was doing the other day and just napped out halfway through the afternoon!

I could have had potpourri, little scented candles, pictures of nekkid men...oh, wait. This is a business office.

And, speaking of nekkid men, not that we were, precisely, but it's my darned blog and I'll take a sharp u-turn any time the mood strikes me, I'm still brooding over my latest pair.

I mean, I gave up politics because the strain of pretending to be intelligent was getting to be too much for me, okay? And now I'm realizing there's a mental strain around putting together a "case file" story that I was previously unaware of (never having done a proper one before).

I need plots and subplots and a theme and if you're really committed you use metaphors to emphasize your theme. You need descriptive expositive that sets a mood and you need a series of scenes that are both mini-stories in themselves and that link together cohesively to create an overall storyline that builds to a satisfying climax.

I'm just not sure I care that much, you know? My ambition really stops at writing snazzy dialogue.

Of course, it could be a combination of PMS and being back on the diet, but that combination doesn't necessarily mean it's just my imagination that this story does not sparkle.

I'm not giving up, though. Not yet.

I've outlined the major plot points for the main (case) plot and the secondary (slash) plot. I'm dabbling with whether to use comic relief in the linking scenes, wondering if the story has room for yet another character, and uneasy about whether or not a weirdo homeless guy is just too much of a cliché. I've figured out that my story is too linear and made notes about improving the pacing. I've determined where the weak points in the action were and restructured the plot to take care of them. I know what needs to happen for the characters emotionally and I have an arc drawn that shows where and when the steps will take place.

That was just yesterday. When I realized that large chunks of the existing 35 pages will need to be re-written to make the story work, I gave up and watched Alien movies, then went to bed frightened.

And that's what I did with my sunny Sunday afternoon.

After this, I'm going back to the PWP.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:24 AM

Let's Wave Farewell

To Keyless Joe.

As if to commemorate his departure, he showed up keyless again Friday and I had to put my phone call on hold to go let him in the office. Then, however, he packed up all his little toys and playthings and removed himself from the premises.

The family business is calling him home and he's moving to Pittsburgh. If my family said I had to move to Pittsburgh, I'd get a new family, but that's me.

If I'd had any sense, I'd have started months ago, when I found out he was leaving, saving all of my phone calls and teleconferences for the hours when Buehler is in the office. If I'd been inconvenient enough, he might have decided to move me to Shoeless's now-empty space.

This is why I'll never be a major success in life. I never plan ahead. Just think...a private office! I could have done like Extension 17 was doing the other day and just napped out halfway through the afternoon!

I could have had potpourri, little scented candles, pictures of nekkid men...oh, wait. This is a business office.

And, speaking of nekkid men, not that we were, precisely, but it's my darned blog and I'll take a sharp u-turn any time the mood strikes me, I'm still brooding over my latest pair.

I mean, I gave up politics because the strain of pretending to be intelligent was getting to be too much for me, okay? And now I'm realizing there's a mental strain around putting together a "case file" story that I was previously unaware of (never having done a proper one before).

I need plots and subplots and a theme and if you're really committed you use metaphors to emphasize your theme. You need descriptive expositive that sets a mood and you need a series of scenes that are both mini-stories in themselves and that link together cohesively to create an overall storyline that builds to a satisfying climax.

I'm just not sure I care that much, you know? My ambition really stops at writing snazzy dialogue.

Of course, it could be a combination of PMS and being back on the diet, but that combination doesn't necessarily mean it's just my imagination that this story does not sparkle.

I'm not giving up, though. Not yet.

I've outlined the major plot points for the main (case) plot and the secondary (slash) plot. I'm dabbling with whether to use comic relief in the linking scenes, wondering if the story has room for yet another character, and uneasy about whether or not a weirdo homeless guy is just too much of a cliché. I've figured out that my story is too linear and made notes about improving the pacing. I've determined where the weak points in the action were and restructured the plot to take care of them. I know what needs to happen for the characters emotionally and I have an arc drawn that shows where and when the steps will take place.

That was just yesterday. When I realized that large chunks of the existing 35 pages will need to be re-written to make the story work, I gave up and watched Alien movies, then went to bed frightened.

And that's what I did with my sunny Sunday afternoon.

After this, I'm going back to the PWP.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:24 AM

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Story And Stuff

So far, it's emotionally barren. This story I'm working on, I mean. The story is adequate but the slash is nonexistent and I was counting on it to fill in the crater-like gaps in my plot.

If I had to describe this one in two words, those words would be "pedantic" and "dull."

This is what drove me away from writing in the first place. I lost track of the characters' emotional lives. My last three failed efforts (many years ago) were less stories than bland recitations of events.

On the other hand, I have decided (in Mallory's honor) to choose the title from a cheesy 70s era song. That will annoy her, which is the sort of thing I live for.

Word's grammar-check program is insane. It's demanding that I replace "we are" with "we is" in one sentence. How much trouble would it have been to hire someone with a basic knowledge of the English language for that part of the program?

Also? After I get locked up for slaying Bossyboots, can I count on y'all to send me letters in the slammer? Because I'm totally going to kill him if he brings me one more office supply to order or asks me to call someone and schedule an appointment for him or fix the erratic phone system or any of those other things he keeps bothering me with. That kind of sexism really pisses me off.

If he'd started working here and my job had been filled by a man, he wouldn't assume that one of his tasks was to put stamps on envelopes, would he?


Posted by AnneZook at 01:11 PM

Monday, August 30, 2004
For The Record

Okay, so Keyless Joe shows up this morning and he's out there banging on the door and I'm refusing to get up and let him in so someone else went to open the door for him but, as I pointed out, the door wasn't locked. Do I look like Carleton, the Doorman? I do not. He could at least try the door handle before he starts banging. Dork.

Since Extension 17 was told he has to come to work every day and clock in and out with me, he's actually been showing up for work every day. Imagine that. I'm making him tell me when he leaves for lunch, too. I hate it - I'm not someone's mother, either, but if you have an employee who won't show up for work if they're not being watched, then you gotta watch them, right?

And did I mention that the all-important contract got signed and Buehler sort of tangentially offered to keep (over-) paying me for a while longer? Because if I didn't, I should have. Also, Buehler was out for most of last week, which was very peaceful. He may and/or may not be in today. Bernie's in today, which isn't good news. He's a bit psychotic.

My story starts with rain.

Behind our building, they've razed a parking lot and maybe a building and they're out there grading and smoothing today. I wonder what they're going to build? The Hershey Kissmobile left on Friday. I never did get over there to leave a note on the windshield, asking it the back two kisses were full of chocolate or not. I sniffed the side of the vehicle and it smelled like chocolate. (Okay, I mostly did it to embarrass the co-worker who was there with me.)

I'm's just that I'm accustomed to blogging several times during the day. Even though I don't have anything to actually say, I can't break the habit that quickly.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:24 AM

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Not and Good

I feel whiny. I've been sick, you know. (Well, I was sick three weeks ago, anyhow. But I still have a little cough.)

Oh. I forgot. I already begged for sympathy on that one, didn't I? Sorry. Didn't mean to be repetitive.

Well, I had The Talk with Alvin. While he'd certainly like to have me back working for him again some day, he's not going to be able to afford to take me back January 1, which was what the original plan was. So, he and the Other Brother Darryl moved out of the office suite yesterday and into a basement office in Alvin's house. I'm about to be Out Of Sight Out Of Mind.

He told me that Friday, so yesterday I asked Buehler what his future plans were.

While admitting that if the (all-important) contract gets signed, he's going to be looking at hiring more people, he stopped short of offering me long-term employment.

It may be that he doesn't want to make a commitment until the contract gets signed. It may be that he doesn't want to interfere with whatever Sekrit Plan he and Alvin originally concocted between them when I was traded to the new team.

It may be that he's decided I'm a little pricey for the amount of time I spend actually working and not, you know, sending personal e-mail or blogging. (Admittedly, when I think about it objectively, I'm not sure I'd keep on an employee who'd written 700 or so blog entries* on company time over the last nine months.)

(* Presumably he doesn't actually know I'm blogging for an hour or two every morning, but who can ever be positive about these things? I mean, I'm sitting here typing madly at the moment and he's at his desk ten feet away. What does he actually think I'm doing at the moment, I wonder?)

I used to have a work ethic. I'm sure it's still around here somewhere. I should dig it out and dust it off some day soon.

Cough, cough.

I'm getting old. It will be my birthday in a couple of months, and I'll be Much Older. I'm not sure exactly how old (I'm not good with numbers), but I know I'm getting perilously close to the Big 5-0. (If you love me, please don't figure it out and tell me exactly how old I am. I'm really okay with not knowing.)

I looked out my office window and realize that for some inexplicable reason, there are three oversized (6') representations of Hershey Kisses on a trailer in the parking lot of the building next to ours. They're labeled, "Dark" and "Caramel" and "Kisses" and painted to match the foil colors for each candy. I don't know what it was all about, but it was fun to see.Hmmm, what else? I've been watching my S2 Starskey & Hutch DVDs over the last couple of days. They really are just Amazingly Doin' It in a closeted, 70s kind of way, aren't they? It would be hard to write, though. I'm not big on angst and I can't imagine enjoying having to write a story where I'd feel almost obligated to have the guys paranoid and guilty.

I prefer my men post-liberation on the homosexual front. Maybe not wearing tee-shirts or marching in parades, but not afraid of destroying their careers and their lives, you know?

I'm not interested in gritty reality.

The easiest couple I wrote was, of course, Mulder and Skinner. That rather unfortunately resulted in somewhat pointless stories, of course. No need to go through a lot of gyrations to get them together. Just get them alone and it happens. I wouldn't go back to them, though. I think I wrote enough meringue for the two of them to last anyone a lifetime.

The most challenging was Mac and Vic, but that was mostly because the show itself was so poorly written. Characterization was a nightmare. I would up having to make a chart to lock in the characterization before I started writing. On the other hand, as I've said many times, that universe was by far the most promising in terms of potential stories.

I'm aware, in an objective sort of way, that I wrote a couple of Sen stories and a couple of DS stories, but I remember nothing about them. (No...wait...I gave Ray a uniform fetish, didn't I?)

All I remember about writing HL is Methos.

There's no particular reason I'm talking about that today. I just sort of am.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

Not and Good

I feel whiny. I've been sick, you know. (Well, I was sick three weeks ago, anyhow. But I still have a little cough.)

Oh. I forgot. I already begged for sympathy on that one, didn't I? Sorry. Didn't mean to be repetitive.

Well, I had The Talk with Alvin. While he'd certainly like to have me back working for him again some day, he's not going to be able to afford to take me back January 1, which was what the original plan was. So, he and the Other Brother Darryl moved out of the office suite yesterday and into a basement office in Alvin's house. I'm about to be Out Of Sight Out Of Mind.

He told me that Friday, so yesterday I asked Buehler what his future plans were.

While admitting that if the (all-important) contract gets signed, he's going to be looking at hiring more people, he stopped short of offering me long-term employment.

It may be that he doesn't want to make a commitment until the contract gets signed. It may be that he doesn't want to interfere with whatever Sekrit Plan he and Alvin originally concocted between them when I was traded to the new team.

It may be that he's decided I'm a little pricey for the amount of time I spend actually working and not, you know, sending personal e-mail or blogging. (Admittedly, when I think about it objectively, I'm not sure I'd keep on an employee who'd written 700 or so blog entries* on company time over the last nine months.)

(* Presumably he doesn't actually know I'm blogging for an hour or two every morning, but who can ever be positive about these things? I mean, I'm sitting here typing madly at the moment and he's at his desk ten feet away. What does he actually think I'm doing at the moment, I wonder?)

I used to have a work ethic. I'm sure it's still around here somewhere. I should dig it out and dust it off some day soon.

Cough, cough.

I'm getting old. It will be my birthday in a couple of months, and I'll be Much Older. I'm not sure exactly how old (I'm not good with numbers), but I know I'm getting perilously close to the Big 5-0. (If you love me, please don't figure it out and tell me exactly how old I am. I'm really okay with not knowing.)

I looked out my office window and realize that for some inexplicable reason, there are three oversized (6') representations of Hershey Kisses on a trailer in the parking lot of the building next to ours. They're labeled, "Dark" and "Caramel" and "Kisses" and painted to match the foil colors for each candy. I don't know what it was all about, but it was fun to see.Hmmm, what else? I've been watching my S2 Starskey & Hutch DVDs over the last couple of days. They really are just Amazingly Doin' It in a closeted, 70s kind of way, aren't they? It would be hard to write, though. I'm not big on angst and I can't imagine enjoying having to write a story where I'd feel almost obligated to have the guys paranoid and guilty.

I prefer my men post-liberation on the homosexual front. Maybe not wearing tee-shirts or marching in parades, but not afraid of destroying their careers and their lives, you know?

I'm not interested in gritty reality.

The easiest couple I wrote was, of course, Mulder and Skinner. That rather unfortunately resulted in somewhat pointless stories, of course. No need to go through a lot of gyrations to get them together. Just get them alone and it happens. I wouldn't go back to them, though. I think I wrote enough meringue for the two of them to last anyone a lifetime.

The most challenging was Mac and Vic, but that was mostly because the show itself was so poorly written. Characterization was a nightmare. I would up having to make a chart to lock in the characterization before I started writing. On the other hand, as I've said many times, that universe was by far the most promising in terms of potential stories.

I'm aware, in an objective sort of way, that I wrote a couple of Sen stories and a couple of DS stories, but I remember nothing about them. (No...wait...I gave Ray a uniform fetish, didn't I?)

All I remember about writing HL is Methos.

There's no particular reason I'm talking about that today. I just sort of am.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Cough-cough-cough I forgot to bring


I forgot to bring the cough medicine with me today.

When Alvin I went to coffee this morning, he asked if I'd heard that he and his Little Company are moving out of the suite next Tuesday. I did NOT hear this. I guess it's my own fault for being sick last week and not feeling like coffee on the mornings when I didn't have early-morning conference calls that prevented me from going.

He's setting up an office in his basement, a sort of "home office" but for him and the Other Brother Darryl both. Alvin says he wants "control of the cash" which means he doesn't want to keep paying for their share of the (very expensive) suite here, which makes sense.

Also, this place is always running some kind of psychodrama and he's tired of being dragged into it all.

I found out yesterday evening that Extension 17 has a severe alcoholism problem. That explains his inability to show up for work. It also explains why they put up with so much from him; they're trying to "help" him. I think that's great, but I also think that "helping" someone has to stop when it means trashing out the lives of half a dozen other people.

Since Extension 17 finds himself unable to show up for work more than one or two days a week, the product we need to ship to customers in order to get paid in order to keep paying everyone's salaries is not being produced. I think you have to ask yourself how far down that path you're willing to go, you know? If you're not shipping product, you're not getting paid, which means that covering payroll every two weeks is a matter of sweat, stress, and strain. I think a very little of that would go a long way with me.

(But then, I'm not really a "people person" anyhow. I'd just tell Extension 17 he was off salary, back on hourly, and that the next time he failed to show up and work for eight, solid hours, he was fired.)

So, Extension 17 tells me a couple of minutes ago that he's going to "do the work that's waiting for him and then I'll be gone" as though he thinks I'm going to care or something. And I'm thinking...well, since you showed up at 10:20 today and then spent from 10:30 until 11:00 making personal phone calls, leaving you, so far today, 7 minutes for actual work (three of which you spent in the bathroom), the "work that's waiting" is probably going to take you two or three years to complete, isn't it?

I didn't say that, of course. It's not my place.

Anyhow, back to the Little Company move. I didn't ask, "what about me?" but I was thinking it. At the end of December, in theory, I was supposed to be going back to work for the Little Company again. They're making better money now but not enough to support three full-time and one part-time (bookkeeper) employees and the webservers and other things they need to keep the business running.

I don't know if Buehler will want me after December or not, either. I think Bossyboots was supposed to be training to do the account stuff I'm doing.

What about me?

I know Alvin expected me to keep doing more work for him when I was in the new job, but every time I did something for his Little Company it made Buehler a little cranky. Since Buehler was the one actually paying me, I had to make the choice. Now I wonder if I burned bridges?

(The arrangement was that if I did anything for the Little Company, Buehler was to bill Alvin for my time but I had LOTS to do for Buehler and the only thing I could really do for the Little Company was play receptionist. If you're already on the phone for hours every day, you really don't have time to play receptionist.)

I am going to ask Alvin when we go to coffee tomorrow. Just flat out.

I haven't been asking him about my future because I know he's been working really hard to get their money flow up and I figured he didn't need the additional stress. I've been being very patient and just working hard at the new job (well, mostly), but now I think it's appropriate to ask.

Also, there's still a problem between a couple of friends and I from last year when I was still working for the Little Company and they were doing contract work for it. One of them I can let go of, but the other I'd rather not lose. I did manage to get together with her a few months ago, we had dinner and talked and I thought all was well, but I never heard from her again. I don't know why, but I was thinking of her today and being sad that maybe that fence can't be mended.

Being sick turns me into a real barrel o'fun, doesn't it?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:04 PM

Monday, August 16, 2004

There are only 13 people on my "to be contacted" list this today. I wouldn't have thought I'd contacted so many on Thursday and Friday. I do hope I'm not running out of work to avoid do.

(Well, there is Project #2, which I've been studiously ignoring for three months.)

You know what I hate? I hate it that my desk faces an aisle where people walk past frequently and I hate how I can see, out of the corner of my eye, that every, single person who walks by tries to catch my eye and chat. The fact that they're up wandering around the building doesn't mean the world is on break.

I also hate people who assume that if you're typing, you're not working.

I mean, okay, I'm not working at the moment but I do approximately 40% of my work in e-mail and I do, in fact, have to think about what I'm saying in e-mail, so I'm not "not busy" just because I'm typing.

People are so selfish and self-centered these days. I'm waiting for the moment, and I'm sure it's not far off, when someone comes up and waves their hand in front of my face when I'm on the phone because they feel that whatever they have to say is more important than anything I could be doing with a client.

Whatinthehell happened to writing someone a note if you needed to tell them something and they were busy?

You could put it on a post-it note, send an e-mail, or just stop and ask yourself if I'm on the phone on what is obviously going to be a long, long call, if you really need to tell me you're going to be away from your desk for six minutes?

I mean, do you have any real expectation that I'm going to be picking up your calls if I'm ALREADY ON THE PHONE?

It's not my fault if you've been working with some guy for three years and he never learned to call your company's main phone number instead of the number shared by all of the companies in the suite. If you want to be positive he can reach your voicemail, give him the phone number that goes to your voicemail. I pick up the shared line when the mood strikes me but everyone calling to talk to me has my direct line, so I don't do it often.

Also, you should ask yourself, "Is Anne the company receptionist and secretary?" and if the answer is no, which it is, then you should stop bothering her with this stuff anyhow because it's sexist to assume that just because she's female she's automatically willing to play receptionist for you.

Also, Extension 17 is really pushing his luck. After not showing up for work for the past two weeks, he showed up for his paycheck on Friday. Big surprise, there wasn't one. Since Buehler was leaving town for four days, he cut Extension 17 a temporary check for most of his money. Today Extension 17 came in and said that if he didn't get the rest of it today, he won't be back to work until he does. Says he won't have gas money.

It's entirely outside my area of authority, but I was talking to Buehler and I volunteered to lend Extension 17 twenty bucks for gas money until Friday. Just now I went back to give it to him and HE'S NOT HERE. He has a habit of leaving the light on in his workroom when he slides out of here, making it hard to know when he actually left the building.
This guy really should be on hourly, but he's on salary and there's just no recourse beyond firing him.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:53 PM

Friday, August 13, 2004

Well, it seems that while I wasn't paying attention (I'm usually not), Extension 17 has only been here one day out of the last two weeks. (That, for those of you who are curious, would be today. Payday.) Presumably, from what Buehler was saying earlier today (before Extension 17 showed up, which he didn't so until noon) we'll be having a change of staff soon.

Part of me doesn’t want to pass judgment on someone else's lifestyle or problems but part of my thinks, rather bitterly, that since I have to show up and work every day, other people also collecting regular paychecks should have to do the same.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Anne. I had Monday and Tuesday off. I left an hour early on Wednesday. I left at 1:30 yesterday. Who am I to be pointing fingers?

Still. I usually show up. And I do have to work late tonight. I've been sick for four days, but I'm not whining about it, I scheduled the meeting and I'll get through it.

I also heard myself (well, "read" since it was in e-mail) volunteering to take a 6:00 a.m. meeting next Friday. (The Mad Doctor's computer crashed and he's not sure he'll have it fixed by then.)

I can usually be counted on to come to work regularly.

BossyBoots was in here a few minutes ago, telling me all about how he dials in to listen to his voice-mail but he can't hear anything. I didn't volunteer to go look at his phone. Either he really has a problem and someone else will also report it, in which case we need to call the company who sold us the system and ask if they're having problems, or he's doing something wrong.

At the moment he came in, I was in the middle of lunch and didn't feel inclined to abandon my nice sandwich to go stare at his phone. (There's little else I can do but look at it.)

He's sort of on my list since the day he came in and announced he was going to be mailing something to someone and he was assuming that once he had his document printed, he could just hand it to me and I'd find him a stamp and an envelope and stuff. Pissed me off. It's not like he could imagine I'm a secretary. I'm the one giving him instructions what work he's supposed to do half the time.

It's because I'm female. Men automatically assume a female must, regardless of her other responsibilities, be the one to handle purely clerical tasks.

I don't feel good. Sort of dizzy. Maybe I ate too much lunch. I had a big hamsammich, a handful of (low-fat) chips, and some cantaloupe. Doesn't sound excessive, does it?

I'm sick. That's why I left work early Wednesday and Thursday. A summer cold or something, courtesy of Buehler, who was kind enough to show up for work for three solid weeks while he was sneezing, coughing, and saying he didn't need a doctor.

This is the third time I've been sick in the last three years. I never used to get sick. I hate getting older. (I'm sure it's because I'm getting older. I have hot flashes, too. I'm a crone.)

The problem is that I don't exactly feel bad enough to go home to bed, but I don't feel coherent enough to consistently focus on work, either.

I'd like to promise myself that I can sleep this weekend and really get rested, but I don't seem to be able to sleep in on the weekends any more. Not like I used to. (I hate getting older.)

I'm a sick, wrinkled, flabby geezer.

But, enough about me.

Some time later

I couldn't think of anything else to talk about. Sorry.

I could talk about what I've been reading, but I've been reading "The True Believer: Some Thoughts On Mass Movements" and I don't think you'd find that fascinating. (I did, FWIW.) I'm also reading, "The Emerging Democratic Majority" but I'm not far enough into it to talk about it and in any case, I created a different space to talk about politics. I could talk about my novel, the one I meant to go back and work on during my two vacation days this week but since I was sick, I didn't work on it, so that's pretty much the end of that conversation already.

Besides, I was going to stop talking about myself. I remember that now.

I relented and I'm calling the phone company to see what's wrong with BossyBoots' phone. I shouldn't take advantage of my heavily medicated state to make myself unpopular with coworkers. I may want something from one of them some day.
Besides, it all looks like work, right?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:49 PM

Friday, July 16, 2004
Mulder Was Here

Getting off of the elevator a few moments ago, I just happened to look down and what did I see? An abandoned sunflower seed laying in the floor.  Combine that with the news of a curiously uninteresting bank robbery in the building earlier today and the freakily coincidental rumor that a "crime lab" was tossed at almost the exact same time a mere 20 or so miles away and you get...darned little.

I'm sorry I'm so boring.

I thought that one was going to go somewhere, but it didn't.

Would you like to hear how I took myself a mini vacation earlier this week

Well, I did. took myself (lots of tooking going on...maybe I'm morphing into a hobbit?) to the mountains for a couple of days of R&R (that's "Relaxing and Reading" in Anne's World). 
I meant to stay for three days (I'd taken three days off work) but since I was staying in the frenetic, low-stakes gambling mecca of Blackhawk (you can't beat a $49 room rate), by the second day I was deciding that it was all just too LOUD and I came home.  (A decision I regretted the instant I stepped off the bus into the 100+ heat of Denver.)

I didn't sleep well while I was gone (I never sleep well the first night in a new bed) and I didn't sleep well the first couple of nights after I got back (first night it was hothothot and second night was a combination of dog barking and backache) so all in all it's a good thing I wasn't thinking of "resting" as a major component of the week.
Work...remains worklike.  The new phone/internet system is functional almost all of the time now.  The largest remaining problems are, (1) the toll-free lines haven't been ported over to the new system yet and clients are bitching about having to pay for the calls they make to us; and (2) my access.
(1) is my fault.  I got a call about it last week but I didn't get around to dealing with it until today.
(2) is not my fault. My laptop, after slapping me with the Blue Screen of Death two or three times a day for the last month, finally bit the dust. (A combination of karma, cursing, and quick thinking enabled me to salvage my files, none of which had been backed up, so it's not the disaster it might have been.) I stole a PC from the desk of the bookkeeper (she's almost never here) and for some reason, it seems to loathe and abominate the new internet system.  (Either that or there's some perfectly sensible technical problem that I just don't understand, but that's not really likely, is it?  A ghost in the machine is far more probable.)  I get about 30 seconds of internet access, followed by 2-3 minutes of hanging and timeouts.

The Three Stooges are, naturally, AWOL while all of this is going on. It was supposed to be handled while I was out of town, but it wasn't.  Color me surprised. (It's a sort of mango-pink frost.)  No sign of them yesterday or today, so I finally filed a complaint with Buehler and he's going to smack them around for me.
I finally caved in and assigned the voicemail on an unused phone to Extension 17.  He still doesn't have a phone at his desk but at least he has a direct-dial number he can give the 20 friends and family members who call him every day.  That saves me the 40-45 minutes a day I used to have to spend taking messages for him. (This morning, before he got here, someone called and I said he wasn't here yet and that I could NOT take a message unless it was an emergency and they told me the message they wanted to give him anyhow.  I was that far from just ignoring it but I finally wrote it down and left it for him.)

Isn't it nice how I managed to solve that problem right at the moment I have the most spare time to actually take messages...since I can't do the part of my job that requires internet access?  Very nice.  Hmph.
Keyless Joe continues to show up, sans keys, about once a week, but I'm making a strong attempt not to be cranky about it.  After all, the poor man is having to move to Pittsburgh. That's enough punishment for anyone.

Buehler seems to be suffering from a summer cold.  He's been here for about four hours, and he's been bitching constantly about how he wants to go home.  He's the boss.  Why doesn't he just leave?  (A work ethic is a terrible thing.)
I haven't really thought much about Mulder recently but in those casual moments when he and Walter cross my mind, I'm sort of relieved to realize that my Carter-inspired bile is subsiding.  Still no sign of a renewed interest in reading or writing fanfic, though.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:54 PM

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Just Another Tuesday

Okay, so today I'm driving along to work, and everyone else on the road is pretty much minding their own business, the cars whizzing down the road, the lady on the bicycle staying reasonably close to the curb and not slowing down traffic at all, and it's all moving along just fine.

Then the car next to the bicycle accelerates for a second and makes an abrupt right-hand turn.... And, yes, he turned into the bicycle, sideswiped it, and knocked it and the bicyclist over.

It would have taken the guy three seconds to let the bicyclist through the intersection, but nooo, he was so busy with his own importance and his morning commute that he assumed...I don't know. He assumed the bicycle was stationary and the second it disappeared from the corner of his eye, it disappeared off the planet or something.

The woman was riding down the street, wearing neon yellow clothes and, thank goodness, a helmet. The driver was totally at fault.

I would have stopped, but several other people did and I saw the woman stand up and brush herself off, so she wasn't badly hurt.

Also? Keyless Joe forgot his key again this morning, but at least he said, thanks when I opened the door for him. I'm trying to cut him the kind of slack I'd like to be cut if I was faced with moving to Pittsburgh.

Also? We installed a new phone/internet system here at the office a couple of weeks ago. Up until today, the days when the phones stayed up, the internet & e-mail went down, and when e-mail & internet were working, the phones kept going down. And or some inexplicable reason, the fax machines would receive faxes but won't send them. Today the phones and the 'net access are both working, but the fax machines are still funky.

After a 1-1/2 hour phone call with the tech guy, we managed to the one of the two fax machines working.

I'm just saying. It's a triumph of willpower that I'm not sitting in Starbucks swilling lattes and eating massive amounts of pumpkin bread at this moment. I'm exhausted and I've barely had any time to do any work at all today.

But I'm not whining. Whatever else happens today, no one nearly killed me as I was trying to get to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:49 PM

Friday, June 25, 2004
Not Whining

This morning's netmeeting started 20 minutes late, leaving me sitting at desk, twiddling my thumbs for 20 minutes while I waited for the attendees to "call me right back."

Now I'm getting ready for lunch which isn't going to taste as well as it would have before I smelled someone else eating Japanese.

I'm fending off psychopathic coworkers who are furious because their net/mail access went out while I was on the netmeeting and unavailable. (What did they expect ME to do about it?)

I'm sincerely sympathizing with the tech people renting office space from us because the aforesaid psychopathic coworkers burst into their client meeting and created a scene about net/mail outage.

I'm holding on firmly to the idea of a vacation.

But I'm not bitching and whining, no. Not me. Not even mentioning the fact that, for the second day in a row, we didn't have 'net access when I got to the office.

Not even mentioning it.

Nor am I going to complain about the Mad Doctor who seems to have "forgotten" he was to lead a netmeeting for 8 Very Important Potential Clients at 1:00 today.

I mean, I would complain about it, but I'm now 1-1/2 hour late for lunch since I had to jump in and lead the meeting myself, and I'm starving.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:10 PM

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Depressed, Deprived, and Depraved

Depressed. It's all gray and cloudy outside. It takes very little gray and cloudy to interfere with my disposition. I like sunshine. I can take one gray day if I'm home and curled up but I hate having to work and pretend to be all chipper and happy when it's gray outside.

This is the second gray day in a row.

What some people might think of as "fog" but what is at this altitude actually low-hanging clouds are covering most of the city I can see from the windows. Visibility is about five or six blocks. It's drizzling. It's cool. It's yucky.

It's annoying me.

I forgot to pack a lunch yesterday (deprived!) so I had a choice between braving the elements (spending the rest of the day looking like I'd put my finger in a light socket) and just skipping lunch. I'd about made up my mind to live with the light socket look when it occurred to me that I had a two hour training session coming up fast and that I'd debated lunch for so long that I no longer had time to go and get it, much less eat it.

Today I packed a lot of food, none of which I'm in the mood to eat.

You know what I hate? I hate spending two hours in a training session learning to use a new gadget when the first hour of it is spent on remedial training for people who didn't bother to actually look at the gadget before the training or even bring a modicum of common sense to using it.

It's a freaking telephone, okay? How can you walk into a training session and say you need to start by learning how to dial a call?

I swear, people do shit like that just to piss me off.

I mean, I'm old, okay? My brain cells are dying by the thousands every day or something, and even I was able to figure out how to make a call, take a call, transfer a call, and check my voicemail without expert assistance. How is it possible that the Tweenybopper, at about 23 years of age, couldn't figure these things out?

Also? To everyone who was too busy and/or too important to talk about the configuration of the new phone system before it was actually installed? Shut up and live with the choices I made. I don't actually give a shit if you don't like how it works. You had a chance to put your two cents in and you couldn't be bothered. You're not going to drive me nuts, demanding idiotic adjustments now, after the fact, so get away from me before I hurt you.

I'm not in a bad mood, though. Not really.

I mean, yeah, I'm, sick to death of hearing about the new phones and listening to people bitch because they don't work like the old phones did, but other than that, I'm not in a bad mood.

I have a lot of work I should be doing. My phone is ringing off the hook, I have, at last count, 118 people standing by, dying to hear from me about using our new product, I'm two days behind in putting my notes into the shared MIS system so everyone can see I'm actually working during the days, and I have a stack of things on my desk that I've been accumulating all week, all under the heading of, "what is this and should I be taking some kind of action about it" but here I sit…blogging.

The Head Stooge showed up yesterday (actually, he dragged me out of a meeting) to casually inquire if I'd set him up with any appointments for a business trip he didn't tell me he was making.

I'm sort of proud of the fact that I didn't explain to him, very, very gently, that you don't drag someone out of a meeting with outside vendors unless it's an emergency, that I am not his (or anyone else's) secretary and I don't actually book other people's appointments, and that since I don't actually work for him, I'm not obligated to read his mind and become psychically aware that he's considering making a business trip.

All of that is, I think, indication of a mood that's better than it might be, considering the circumstances. I even went all out and booked one appointment for him before I went home last night.

From someone who hadn't eaten anything all day except an apple, I think sitting here until 6:00 in the evening to book his stupid appointment was going above and beyond, don't you? (Ed. Yes. Way above.) (Me: I knew you'd see it my way.)

Also? Allow me to explain to all of you that if I tell you someone is ON THE PHONE, it does no good to call me every sixty seconds demanding to speak to this person. I have neither the authority nor the desire to go to someone's desk, forcibly disconnect them from another business call, and demand that they speak to you.

By the time you call me for the fifth time, the only real desire I have it to leap through the phone and throttle you. (Yes, I'm looking at you Sassy. You've worked in this office. You know what kind of nutcases these people are. Why are you making my life a misery in this fashion?)

If anyone, anyone asks me why I'm not getting my work done, I may go postal.

Okay, I could be in a better mood.

I've been re-reading the HP series this week. I hadn't actually read the books for several months but seeing the new movie put me back in the mood.

First, I was amazed afresh by the amount of material in the books that didn't make it into the movies. While not the richest, most textured universe in literature, the books are more well-rounded than I'd remembered. Also, because of the ruthless plot and character pruning for the movies, I'd forgotten how much better JKR's adult characters are than her child characters. In the movies, the adults are mere walk-ons most of the time, but in the books they're far superior to most of the 'stars' of the series.

Tuesday night, with a certain amount of trepidation, I picked up Book Five to re-read it for the first time. I remember hating it. The characters were too different than they'd been in Book Four, and I loathe torture, I loathe mistreating children, and unexpectedly coming across torturing children in Book Five nearly drove me 'round the bend when I first read the book.

It was more like bad fanfic than a novel from the pen of the same author who wrote the first four novels. You know what I mean. Wallowing in character abuse just to wallow in it, not because it really adds anything to the plot. (Those of you in fandom who like character abuse probably don't agree with my assessment, but that's okay. I personally have never been able to understand how you can reconcile your protestation that you "love" the characters with the kind of pain you feel impelled to inflict upon them. I'm just saying. If this is how you treat the ones you "love" you might want to consider a bit of therapy. Or a lot of therapy, for that matter.)

(No, seriously, I know that although we use the same words to describe our reactions to our favorite characters, few of you truly view them as "real people." Most of you have no problem separating fact from fiction. Unfortunately, I'm someone with a problem that way and when I "love" a fictional character, I have great difficulty treating them any differently than I would any other "real" person. It's with the greatest difficulty that I manage to inflict even the slightest emotional suffering on my characters. I don't care for "hurt/comfort" for instance. I can sometimes manage "comfort/owie/comfort/comfort/comfort," but not often.)

But, let's stick to the topic at hand. I hate it when an author or a series gets too popular and no one edits their work any more. (Stephen King became completely unreadable in later years.) Some judicious pruning would have improved Book Five enormously. I thought that the first time I read it and I'm not changing my mind this time around.

It's like JKR couldn't remember how to build tension between characters, so she keeps falling back on having the kids squabbling with each other for little or no reason.

While I do understand that kids do squabble, I feel like I've been reading, "Harry didn't speak to _____ for the rest of the day" over and over and over.

On a more personal note, I also object to turning Sirius into an idiot who confuses Harry with his (Sirius's) dead friend and who, contrary to all of his (Sirius's) behavior up until this point, never hesitates to tell Harry to take chances and go into danger "for the fun of it." This character actually bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Sirius in the earlier books.

Okay, maybe I'm not in such a good mood.

I'll stop now.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:59 PM

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
The Gang

They're all here today. The Three Stooges, the Mad Doctor, Sassy, and Buehler. Mostly having meetings that I'm not invited to.

I was feeling paranoid about it (I get that way) until I mentioned it to Sassy and she told me they just don't want to "bother" me with a lot of these things. I sometimes forget that I was just 'loaned' to this company for a year when Alvin, my original employer, decided it would be more convenient not to have to pay my salary for the next twelve months.

As it is, I was told to clear my calendar today for a full day of meetings, so I did. So far I've been in one meeting for about an hour and then had lunch with the group for another hour, leaving me, so far, an unexpected six hours that I've regrettably not been spending doing much work.

I sometimes wonder what's going to happen at the end of that twelve months if Alvin decides he still can't afford to pay me? I mean, it's nice an all that he wanted to be able to keep me in reserve for when he could afford me. Very flattering. But what happens if he has no money? Will Buehler and the gang invite me to stay on here? (Okay, probably not if I keep spending hours blogging on company time, but aside from that, I'm a reasonably decent employee.)

Also, we have a new phone system. The Tweenybopper and I are supposed to be "power users" which means we have to sit though a two-hour meeting tomorrow for (if experience is any guide) training that could more efficiently have been handled with a cheatsheet of instructions and a ten-minute introduction session.

I've decided to look upon the occasion as time for me to bitch about all of the things that haven't been done the way I wanted them done.

To me, business training sessions are like grade school. Remember grade school, when you sat there screaming with boredom (inside) while the class plodded along reluctantly at the pace of the slowest student in the room? Remember how material that any sensible person could absorb in ten minutes was stre-e-e-tched out painfully for hours while you sat there and wished for an invisibility cloak or an escape hatch or a really big stick to hurt people with?

Don't get the wrong impression, though. I'm blogging mostly to tell y'all that I'm not cranky today. I thought you'd like to know, that's all.

So…lemme see…what's new?

I went to see Harry Potter last week. I was…underwhelmed.

I'm not sure why they felt the need to redesign Hogwarts, but I swear I spent the entire movie on the edge of my chair, waiting with breathless anticipation to see just which student was going to get decapitated by the inexplicable pendulum suddenly infesting the main hallway of the castle.

The Whomping Willow still doesn't look like the description in the book but that bothers me less than the question of why the director felt it necessary to flash upon occasional scenes of the tree murdering passing birds.

The books are full of material there's no time to show in a movie, so I'm puzzled about why extra book material was excised so that the director could add unneeded new scenes that in no way advanced the plot or character development.

Why was the us full of talkative shrunken heads? Did anyone but me find that completely unnecessary and kind of stupid?

What on earth was the point of the choir? Was the director intimidated by threats of the religious organizations denouncing the books? Or was the inclusion of frogs (or were they toads?) some kind of subtle insult that I failed to understand?

Why was Dumbledore standing at a podium and why was the podium decorated with a Ravensclaw eagle?

Why keep Hermione and Ron outside of the pub so that time had to be wasted for Harry to expound on what he heard? Were they afraid that at 2 hours plus, the movie might run a bit short if they didn't include some completely unnecessary exposition?

Why did the Dementors float around like milkweed pods caught in a high wind? Did anyone but me think of the Indiana Jones movies when they saw that particular special effect?

But I'm not in a bad mood. Not at all.

We went to the Renaissance Festival on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day for it. Mostly sunny with just enough clouds to keep the heat down.

(Now there's a mystery for you. How did they manage to build that site in such a way that no matter where you go, you're walking uphill? I swear the place was designed by Escher.)

I ate…not as much as I have in the past, but I ate a fair quantity of ridiculous things. I mostly go to the Renaissance Festival for the food. I love a buffet.*

This year, about fifteen minutes after we arrived I managed to drop an artichoke and pour about a cup of butter down the front of my shirt and my shorts, which put a bit of a damper on the rest of the morning, but whatever. I had Steak Onna Stake and Sausage Onna Stake and an artichoke with butter (they replaced my dropped one) and…I think that's all. I used to manage about three times that much. I think that stupid diet made my stomach shrink or something. (Not that I'm complaining. It made my butt shrink, too.)

And I had my tarot cards read. The lady took me for $25 to tell me there was a mature man wanting to make a commitment in my future. And that was after I told her I had no interest in marriage. She seemed sorry about it, though.

She predicted financial fortune three ways from Sunday. If there's a card that means fortune in the pack, I drew it. Apparently I'm going to be swimming in wealth some day soon.

She also said I work with a man who is a bit of a flake (Buehler, I'm looking at you) but that I should be nice to him because he's going to do something really good for me.

I had a good time, in spite of being all greased up.

* On a recent trip to San Francisco, I paid $50 for a buffet, purely on the strength of the view from the restaurant windows and the fact that both caviar and paté were featured on the menu. I figure I ate about a dollar's worth of each, and had about four dollars worth of "the view" from where I was sitting, but it's all experience, isn't it?

For instance, I learned that no matter where you walk in San Francisco, you have to make sure to stay near the trolley tracks because it's sure to be uphill on the way back to your hotel. Imagine walking up a playground slide. I did that for three, solid blocks at one point.

I also learned that if you ride the trolley early enough on a Sunday morning, the money-collector isn't always at work yet and sometimes you get a free ride. Mostly it costs $3, though.

I had a good time, which is unusual for me on a business trip.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:23 PM

Wednesday, June 2, 2004
As The Hours Pass

1 hr phone call, cranky client, beginning 8:30 this morning.

1 hr writing up notes from phone call with cranky client at boss's request.

1/2 hr explaining notes from phone call with cranky client to person who sees there ARE notes but is too good to read them. Additional 15 minutes wasted while he explains to me why cranky client's concerns are needless instead of calling cranky client himself to try and explain what I have, so far, failed to get cranky client to understand.

1 hr no-computer-access while IT figures out why my computer will not talk to internet. Expert called in, drives in from Boulder, computer inexplicably commences working 60 seconds after he arrives in office. Stupidcomputer.

1/2 hr trying to get nice client's cranky computer to connect to web conferencing. Failed.

1/2 hr explaining to all and sundry why I didn't have copy of "web conferencing troubleshooting guide" yesterday and become an expert in the 1/2 hour notice I had that a meeting was going to be held.

1/2 hr talking w/various people and trying to decide if new phone system project is on schedule or not, if anyone is waiting on anything from me, etc. Still have no answer and do not understand what is happening with phones. Don't care much at this point.

1/2 hr listening to new client explain that her IT person is in Iraq and she doesn’t know if their system can accept our software or not but if I can explain technical details she will go see if she can find someone to talk to about it.

1/2 hr playing phone tag with miscellaneous other people I'd hoped to talk to today, including 15 minutes spent ragging at coworker about people who are preventing me from getting any work done.

1/2 hr banging head on wall because if you're psycho, everyone leaves you alone.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:57 PM

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
It's…Shouting Day!

Shouting at Anne day, I might add.

Buehler shouted at me because, following established procedure, I sent an e-mail to the e-mail address the developers set up for communicating with the group and asking questions. I asked a question about a software update.

One of the developers is in the office today and it was Buehler's perspective that I should just have bypassed procedure and asked the developer.

Buehler is under the impression I was just being too lazy to walk the ten steps to ask the question.

I am under the impression, (a) that I was on the phone, on hold when the question occured to me so I just sent out a quick, one-line e-mail; and, (b) that I'm sick to death of these, "he said, she said" conversations and that I want to get answers to my questions in writing.

I do feel sorry for the Stooges, though. Two of them were here when Buehler shouted at me and they seemed to think it was a major deal. They slunk away to the conference room and haven't come out since.

I don't feel sorry for the Third Stooge, He's the "project coordinator" and he also shouted at me (in e-mail) this morning.

They're a software development company. I asked if they were bug-testing a piece of software that they had asked me to "take a look at."

(Now, mind you, I know they probably aren't because they either don't have the staff or don't have the interest in bug-testing properly, as witnessed by the fact that everything we've released so far has been full of bugs, but if asking me to "take a look" at something means they're later going to blame me if there are bugs, then I want to know that up front.)

He wrote back and said if I had any questions i should call him.

I wrote back and asked, quite reasonably I think (okay, it was potentially inflammatory, but I used a smiley), if that meant they weren't bug-testing, and then he shouted at me and said they had "QA'd the changes you asked us to make" which, if you think about it, is hardly the same thing as bug-testing the entire piece of software. Then he "shouted" that what he meant was for me to call him.

I think, again, I think I'm being quite reasonable to say that if he thought my question needed a phone call response instead of e-mail, it would have been simple enough for him to pick up the phone and call me. (It's a local call, after all.)

I think he forgets that my company is, in fact, the client in this situation. Checks, when they are written, flow from my company to his.

I think him shouting at me was obnoxious. I think Buehler shouting at me was obnoxious.

Just obnoxious, though. Not scary-making. Generally I'm pretty freaky about being shouted at. I have weird and inexplicable shouting issues.

For some (good) reason, this morning's shouting didn't actually upset me.

I mean, I'm wallowing in a self-pitying pond of self-righteous indignation even though I'm well aware that I was partly to blame for both situations, but I think that's just human. Right?

The good news is that I'm demonstrating my snit by working twice as hard (my brain is an odd place to be) and I've gotten more done in the first four hours of today than I did all day yesterday.

I'm not calling the Third Stooge, though. If he wants to talk, he can pick up the phone. Until then, his project and the payment for the same can just sit in limbo.

It's good to be passive-aggressive.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:34 PM

Friday, May 21, 2004
Argh, dammit Extension 17

Argh, dammit

Extension 17 is pissing me off today. He pisses me off every time he's in the office. He only comes in one or two days a week (the rest of the time he's "working from home" even though he's an hourly employee and should be here, under supervision) and on each of those two days a week he deigns to show up, he gets an estimated 20 personal calls from his family.

We don't have a receptionist, okay? I pick up the phone when it rings because I work with people in healthcare and when they have 60 seconds to return a call to me, I want to be able to talk to them without making them fight their way through our phone system.

Nothing pisses me off more than picking up eight calls in a row in a three-minute period and having them all be for Extension 17.

Okay, it's Friday, which is good.

But the phone started ringing early this morning and I was bouncing between trying to reschedule an installation and a netmeeting to troubleshoot at two different practices because the entire town where my tech guy lives had lost power and he didn't have a computer to use, while fielding a call from someone I've been trying to get hold of all week, when someone knocks on the office door.

(When I'm here alone in the early morning, I don't unlock the door when I come in. It's a security thing.)

So, I'm on this one call for about two minutes and during the entire two minutes this person keeps knocking and banging and (I think) kicking the door on the average of every once every 10 seconds.

Turns out it’s the guy who rents office space from us and who never brings his key (I have to let him in every day) and he just says, "hi" when I finally get off the phone and go to open the door.

I said, "I'm sorry, I was on the phone" and he just walked past me, without another word.

I don't mind opening the door for someone even though I feel like a freaking doorman at a hotel for Keyless Joe. I've let him in almost every day for a year, but if he can't wait patiently for a few seconds when the door doesn't magically swing open when he arrives, I'm done being nice. I know he has a key because he's used it at least half a dozen times in the last 18 months, so it's just some kind of congenital idiocy and I'm done with it.

From now on, Keyless will be waiting to be let in every day until he buys himself a clue.

If I were a mature, rational person, I'd just tell him to bring his key, but I'm not, I'm passive-aggressive and I'm mad, so I'm going to make him work out this complicated key concept for himself.

(The phone just rang. The Tweenybopper picked it up, something she usually doesn't do. It was for Extension 17.

Technically the Twennybopper is the closest thing we have to a receptionist but her direct boss told her she didn't have to pick up inbound calls if she didn't want to. He made this decision, you understand, in direct response to her complaints about the number of personal calls that arrive for Extension 17.)

I've had a bad week. Did you ever get PMS that lasted for a week? Because if you did, you know what I'm going through.

I don't think it's a mood swing. I don’t think of a mood swing as something that lasts for five solid days.

It might have something to do with the diet. I put four pounds back on so I went back on the diet again. I'm back down 3-1/2 (or I was, before this week, when I haven't had the nerve to weigh myself) but I'd thought about going ahead and dropping another five or so, as long as I was dieting anyhow. I actually stopped about five or six pounds short of my goal when I quit dieting last fall.

Now I'm not so sure. About losing more weight, I mean. As I recall, I was eternally pissed off at the world for about two weeks the last time I started the diet, too and this time I'm really too busy at work to be able to indulge myself this way right now.

Not that I've been that productive this week. I've worked about 2-3 hours a day in spite of having an easy 10 hours a day worth of work in front of me, so I've got guilt to add to my burden.

A really bad week.

Also, I see blogger changed their interface and I hate it. I hate the perception we all need cartoon pictures to navigate our way around a webpage because we've all become such idiots we can't read. I hate losing the preview window.

And, as I just discovered, if you click "view blog" to see what your unpreviewable post looks like, it takes you out of the blogger software and to the actual blog. Coming back to the blog, it took me several minutes to figure out how to edit a post.

This is a real step backward for blogger. They should be embarrassed.

I hate everything.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:24 PM

Friday, May 7, 2004
The Usual Whining

The other day, I took one of those, "what is your "virtual" age, versus your "real" age quizzes online.

It pretended to evaluate my "age" as a result of personal and family health history, exercise and eating habits and then tell you how "old" that virtually made you. Stupid quiz said I was, in essence, 15 years older than my biological age.

How much you wanna bet I won't be allowed to retire early on the strength of that assessment?

I also took a "50 general questions about fandom" or something test. I knew 20 answers is all. And I have doubts about two of them.

So I'm old and stupid and I'd like to thank all of the "friends" who sent me URLs for quizzes in the past couple of days.

I so totally need new friends, don't I?

Actually, considering those results, I think it's my friends who need a new friend.

The Stooges have not yet ceased to annoy me on a variety of levels.

At one point Moe mentioned that they have not yet moved into the empty office they were clearing out the other day because their haphazard approach to "clearing out" left handfuls of nuts, bolts, bent nails, and paper scraps, on the floor. It was the clear inference that it's in some way my job to crawl around that room on my hands and knees, finishing the cleaning job.

The really mind-boggling part of that is that Moe had said he had a "shop vac" which is, we're to understand, a vacuum cleaner that will tidy up such debris that he could use.

He was actually Standing. In. Front. Of. Me. Holding. The. Vacuum. Cleaner. In. His. Hand. when he said that, in his view, it was our job to clean that room up for them.

I mentioned that in Anne's World, them what makes the mess cleans it up.

He agreed that that was a sensible view.

And then he Left. Without. Vacuuming. The. Mess. Up.

There are days when I really do think the world would be a better place with a helluva lot fewer men in it.

Also? I think my computer, this one, here at work, is dying on me. They wiped the hard drive and re-installed everything from the OS on up, but it's getting flakier and flakier. I'm desperately trying to remember what data I have backed up and what data I need to find a home for. Because I work with a bunch of criminally insane lunatics, their "network" system consists of shoving shared files in bunches on one or another of our computers, meaning there's no real "back-up server" you can safely store anything to.

Because I am, I really am trying to stop whining about everything that's going wrong, I'll spare you the saga of the clumsy, poorly designed, user UNfriendly software program I'm struggling to win user acceptance for.

I'm just saying. If you should find yourself saying, "Gosh, wouldn't it be nice to hear from Anne"? No. It wouldn't.

I'm crabby.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:48 AM

Friday, April 23, 2004
So, sue me

Yeah, I'm back. And I'm guilty of Posting While Aggravated again. The tech guys, Larry, Moe, and Curley are, once again, the responsible parties.

Eleven! Eleven e-mails yesterday about an appointment I was setting up for Moe. I copied Larry on all of them, of course. Technically he's the clearinghouse person who controls keeping the calendar up to date, a job at which he seems to suck, but that's not the point.

The point is that at 10:00 this morning, Moe was surprised, even astonished to realize he had a 1:30 appointment today. And then he wandered into my office at 1:15! and said he didn't have the kind of computer connection he needed and what should he do? (He should have been at his own office, where the necessary computer connection did exist. Why he was here is a mystery…except that he'd forgotten he had an appointment.

I suggested that Curley could do it but nooo, Moe preferred to wander aimlessly around the office, come back, at 1:26, and ask me, again, what he was supposed to do and then finally go off to do the call. I later discovered he'd rescheduled it for next week and since I spent four weeks setting the original appointment up, I'm not pleased.

What are we paying these Stooges bazillions of dollars for if not their high-tech skills, I ask you?


The Stooges are moving into some empty space in our office today. Larry and Moe are, anyhow. I think Curley's smarter than that. They feared I'd use their physical proximity to abuse them and push them around, something I assured them wouldn't happen but have now changed my mind about. Dooberheads.

They're nice guys, but I have a feeling that familiarity is going to breed a certain amount of contempt.

Except maybe for Curley. He's rather decorative. I'll forgive a lot for that.

So, I need to think of something cheerful to blog about.

Lemme see….

Went to the mountains this past weekend. Took off work early on Friday and took the bus up to Blackhawk. Spent the night there. Meant to do some gentle hiking/walking around but naturally wound up mostly gambling. I only lost about $100, which is pretty successful for me.

It was a gorgeous weekend, aside from being a bit too windy. (There was so much wind on east I-70, near the Colorado/Kansas border, that they closed the road because the dust left zero visibility. Unfortunately, they didn't make the decision until after there was a 17-car pileup on the highway.

Still, I look forward go going back up this summer. I'd like to walk from Blackhawk to Central City. It's not more than a mile or two and I hear that Central City is less changed by the influx of casinos than Blackhawk wound up being.

Other than that…let's see. I might get to go visit the Lily Lady this summer. I invited myself and she more-or-less confirmed I'd be welcome. That would be fun. I have to do another Familial Visit as well. My oldest niece is graduating high school (at 16!) and while I can't make it back for the day of the ceremony, I do need to get back there before long. I'd like to take her out for a day - maybe shopping and lunch, that kind of thing. Spend the kind of time with her I haven't been able to spend with her in years.

. . . .

Okay, that was Wednesday and now it's Friday.

Takes longer to write cheerful posts. Not that I've achieved that yet.

Today the stooges are falling all over themselves apologizing because yet another install got messed up, purely because they didn't do what they should have.

Anyhow. So I took two hours off, right there in the middle of the day, and cleaned. Wednesday was "trash day". Tweenybopper, the Perky Young Thing that works for a different business unit here in the suite did help. We went through the shipping office and throw away six trash cans full of stuff no one here even remembers saving.

And then this morning, I bought in a canister of those "disinfecting wet wipe" things and spent a couple of hours wiping down the shipping room, the conference room, the (empty) reception area, the copy room space, and my office.

In Anne's World, there's a difference between working in a place that's a bit messy and working in a pigsty. At this moment we're a bit closer to the former than we were a couple of days ago.

My goal is to make this place so tidy that Buehler, shamed by the chaos and squalor of the area around his desk, will actually do something about his contribution to the styness. I'll do many things, whether they're "my" job or not, but I draw the line at cleaning someone else's desk. Or the heaps and piles of debris around it.

Well, I haven't done much work yet today so maybe I'll go off and spend some time doing the kinds of things they pay me for.

If that palls, I'll stare out the window and watch it snow.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:49 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004

Turns out it wasn't just me. Another meeting participant later agreed that the guys went all weird at that point in the meeting.

Also I've been scolded for only posting when I'm cranky. So I'll be working on a cheerful post that I hope to have up in the next few months. (Kidding.)

In the meantime, I'm off to the mountains for the weekend. Y'all be good.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:25 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I am just aggravated today, that's all. I spent the morning in a meeting which, while tedious, shouldn't have been aggravating. But it was.

We spend two hours viewing a new version of a software program, my boss says the people installing tomorrow should install the new version of the program, I ask the new guys if they can provide me with a download URL and a product key so the client can download and install the new version of the program...and the conversation goes weird.

They want to "revisit it later" in the conversation, even though the meeting is ending, they discuss burning a CD but, no, we don't want 'interim' CDs floating around, they dance around the question and eventually...well, that was two hours ago and I have no idea when or how I might get my hands on a copy of the new version of the software for the client to install tomorrow.

In the meantime, of course, I've been doing my job so I sent the client the URL for the then current version of the software and the product key two weeks ago, when we scheduled this install. And, since the IT person is on vacation and won't be back in her office until tomorrow, I can't even call her and explain quite frankly that our developers have gone on a mental safari and I don't have the right version of the software available.


I sweat blood getting these clients to attend net meetings to view the software functionality, I fight my way through the administrative and IT departments and get permission for them to use the software, I coordinate with their nightmare calendars to get installations scheduled, and then less than 24 hours before the installation, everyone here seems to think there's no problem with just telling the client we won't have anything for them until next week or something. I have no idea what they expect me to say.

I'm supposed to be in another meeting at the moment (same group, different project) but I decided I was tired of looking at them.

Pisses me off.

I bailed on the second meeting, but now I'm sitting here realizing there's no point in calling anyone on my call list because I have no idea when I'll be able to schedule installations for them. I have two weeks to get 30 more installs done and something tells me I'm not going to make it.

Partly though, I'm puzzled. People like working with me. It's practically my only skill, the ability to get along with a wide variety of people in a work environment. I'm flexible, cooperative, understanding, and accommodating without being a doormat. It's not an inconsiderable skill.

And yet, I'm completely failing to establish any kind of rapport with this one group and I can't figure out why.

Buehler says, "install this tomorrow" and they're sitting there, listening to him say it.

I say, "What URL should I give them?"

Not only do they not give me the URL, Buehler sits there and listens to them not giving it to me and says nothing. It's like…not to be paranoid, but it's like there's this secret agenda that everyone but me knows about. There's something I'm not getting and for some reason, no one will just speak up and tell me what it is.

Also I was contacted by someone and (long story short) I'm supposed to be writing an intelligent, thought-provoking essay and posting it by tomorrow and I not only haven't started writing, I haven't figured out what I could or should write about. Also, I should have started days ago. It takes a long time and a lot of editing to make me seem intelligent.

I'm not at my sharpest when aggravated. Also, I'm busy. I have a net meeting in an hour to set up everything a vendor needs in order to do another meeting with us tomorrow.

I'm in a bad mood, that's all. Could be PMS, I guess.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:05 PM

Monday, March 8, 2004
Mad Monday

Bah, and humbug. And the horses they rode in on.

I'm in a pissy mood today.

I mean, the day started well enough. The Sinus Infection From Hell seems, finally, to be moving out of my body. Cough disappearing, fever negligible, hearing back in both ears, nose almost completely back to normal. All of those good things.

I felt quite a bit better over the weekend but when Buehler showed up for work this morning, the first thing he did was diss me because I forgot to send a status update on one of my projects for him on Friday. He also dissed me because I forgot to send out a shipment on time last week and it had to be sent overnight.

I did forget the shipment, yes. But I 'forgot' in the three or four days when the shipment could have been sent out regular ground because I spent those days either at the doctor's office or in bed with a high fever and various other unpleasant symptoms of the SIFH.

I also 'forgot' because I lost Every. Single. Note. I had about projects and tasks to be done in the big network/e-mail crash.

As for the status report on Friday, I was having one of those days when I could either work or sit and write notes about what I was doing, and I chose to work.

I just think he's being unfair.

Granted, I do understand that making excuses doesn't get the work done, and I realize that since I've only worked for him for three months he doesn't know how very unusual it is for me to forget to something important, much less to be sick enough to miss multiple days of work, but I'm still mad at him.

I won't address it with him, of course. I'm not about addressing problems head-on. I'm about ignoring them until they either go away or fester and spread and eventually cause a gangrene of the workplace that requires an employee amputation to cure.

But since I'm passive-aggressive, I'm getting some of my own back by goofing off on company time. Which can only exacerbate the problem of me not being productive enough, I know, but I don't care at the moment.

So...on with the festivities!

Television still being a wasteland of non-entertainment, I'm currently shoving DVD's into the machine when I want to escape from it all. (I'm still reading the Aubrey-Maturin books as well, of course. Just finishing Far Side of the World and wondering when I'm going to find time to get to the movie.)

What am I watching, you ask? Purely escapist television. Britcoms (As Time Goes By and Are You Being Served), and sitcoms (Sports Night) for the most part.

I'm a big fan of Britcoms. Those mentioned above, along with Chef, and Mulberry and A Fine Romance and Good Neighbors and others live on the shelves at my house and get re-watched with surprising frequency. Some of my favorites, seen on television long ago, don't seem to have made it onto tape or DVD yet, which is sad. I've been waiting to see Butterflies again for years and years.

I'm still waffling on The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin though. I can't decide if that's one of the ones that won't have stood the test of time well. I may have to go ahead and buy it and see for myself.

I was about to start the first season West Wing DVDs I got for Christmas, but my roommate bought Sports Night so we're watching those instead at the moment. And then she bought the Highlander DVDs, so those were up next on the schedule, but then my first season Starsky & Hutch DVDs arrived Saturday, so those jumped to the top of the list. And then, of course, there are the Season Two Due South DVDs.

Not enough hours in the day.

Starsky & Hutch is the gayest show. I'm really surprised, even though it's always lived in my memory as amazingly slashy. The pilot, which I haven't seen for ten or fifteen years or more, was surprisingly gay. Much more, even, than the first few episodes. No matter how much time these two spend talking about the "blonde lovelies" they'd like to be spending time with, there's just no doubt that they're totally in love.

I understand that the movie has a great deal of fun with the 'homoerotic subtext' which is pretty much the only reason I can think of for going to see it, but it's pretty much enough to convince me to go and see it, so that's okay. I also understand that if you walk into the theatre with the firm idea that this is more a spoof than a real prequel, it's very funny.

I just keep looking at the casting and shaking my head, though.

Actually, I guess that's the only "festivity" I have to report at the moment. Getting laid low by the SIFH 24 hours after I got back from Escapade kind of derailed my nascent desire to become active in fandom again.

I went shopping over the weekend and practically everything I grabbed to try on was too big. I kept having to go back to the rack for smaller clothes. That's a nice ego boost. A very nice one, in fact.

It's the kind of positive reinforcement you need when you're sitting at your desk, trying to nerve yourself up to Make The Call to get The Lump examined.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:09 PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2003
I'm gonna eat a worm

Well, the upshot of yesterday's meeting, to make a long story short, is that the Consultants From Hell came in here breathing fire and fury about how badly we were treating them and how it's none of our concern how they run their business. And then they bitched Alvin out for taking the print job to a company that would do it right, rather than letting them "fix" it by taking it back to the same place that wasn't able to offer what we wanted in the first place.

Oh, and they also both made it clear, yesterday and in a phone call today, that I owe both of them big time and that I'd better remember that and in the meantime, they're both pissed off at me.

Ah well. That's two names I can strike from my Christmas card list. A clear 74 cents in savings on postage alone.

I may wind up having to strike off Alvin, too. He got a little pissy with me this morning when he wanted to do a post-mortem on yesterday's meeting and I refused to join him in ragging on the ConFroH. At this point, he clearly thinks it's an "us against them" situation and that I'm being one of "them."

The heck with them all. I am so over working with children. I blame the ConFroH mostly, because they're taking everything personally and getting all emotional and failing to act professionally and all of the other things that women are stereotyped as doing in business. But I blame Alvin a little. At least, today I do, now that I have the feeling I'm becoming a ping-pong ball between the three of them.

On the bright side, I've started having panic attacks again. If they keep up, I can go back to the doctor and get the little, pink pills and I won't care about anything any more.


I got my hair cut on Friday. Rather dramatically. I took off about six inches. It's a nice change. (I was more enthusiastic about it before the Weekend From Hell followed by the Monday From Hell.)

(Hell figures largely in my life right now.)

On the other hand, last night was weigh-in night, and I lost another pound (since last Thursday), so it looks like all of that celery and tuna fish are paying off! Hooray! Only ten pounds to go!

But I've decided to hold off on dissing the appalling plan they have to add a right-wing perspective to West Wing until after I've seen a few episodes. I mean, it's already bound to suck to a certain extent, what with being taken over by someone who came to fame writing Law and Order or whatever show that guy used to write. (Well, maybe it's not guaranteed to suck, but I'm in a pretty bad mood today and I still think John Goodman was an appalling piece of misplaced stunt casting although I do know people who rave about his acting ability so I could be wrong but I don't care at the moment.)

What else?

I've lost 10 pounds in the last five weeks, which is pretty darned good. Check.

I chopped off 75 percent of my hair and now bear an appalling resemblance to Annette Funicello. Check.

West Wing is gonna suck and I'm not happy about it. Check.

The next person who offers to help me find a job is going to get punched in the nose. Check.

Mitch Pileggi is going to be on the new Tarzan show (as the bad guy) and not even that is enough to really convince me to watch it. (Well, I hadn't discussed that before, but I don't see there's much to add to it.)

Much to my dismay and irritation, Nick Lea has been cast with a recurring role in that piece o'sloppy crap, Andromeda so now I have to decide whether or not to start watching it again but, again, I don't think I have much else to add to that sentiment.

I'm in a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:11 PM

Monday, September 22, 2003
From Hell

From hell, I tell you. We have hired the consultants FROM HELL.

For those of the two of you unfamiliar with the background, let me set the scene.

For eight years I worked for the Boss From Hell, the Terminatrix, a disorganized, chaotic maniac whose only saving graces were that, (1) she produced sales, and (2) she honestly had no idea how abusive she was and would have been shocked to the soles of her feet had any of us been able to actually get her to see her behavior objectively.

I liked her, honestly, on a personal level. We always enjoyed having dinner or whatever. It's just that she created the most dysfunctional work environment I've ever seen, and I've seen a few. Seventy people in the building and some days it took almost every single one of them to keep her from coming apart at the seams.

Another saving grace of that job situation was Feisty Frieda (not her real name). Someone I worked with well, who was easy to get along with, good at her job, understanding, and one of only about four people in the world able to get in the Terminatrix's face and make her back down.

So, eventually I quit. (Okay, I quit at least eight times, once for each year I worked there, but finally, after the Terminatrix had moved on herself, via selling the company and raking in a few million dollars for her stocks, I managed to make it stick.)

Anyhoo. I took a six month sabbatical to regain my sanity, then started job hunting. Feisty Frieda, with whom I'd stayed in touch via having lunch about once a month, came forward and announced there was a perfect job for me at the company she'd moved on to, and with the nicest, kindest, least-chaotic boss in the world. All of which proved to be true, okay?

I don't blame Feisty Frieda that the company, a start-up, closed almost exactly a year later. All of the management were nice guys. Mostly too nice to survive in the cutthroat world of start-ups. Also, they'd made the mistake of building the core of the company around a really innovative technology idea and when the Investors realized what they had on their hands, they sold the company and recouped their investment, plus a healthy profit.

Anyhow, Feisty Frieda got me a job when I really, really needed one, and I love her double just for that.

This job? Guess who recommended me for this one? The Terminatrix herself. Praised me to the skies until Alvin had little choice but to hire me. (Heck, if I'd heard her glowing review, I'd have hired me, and I know better.)

So, the two women with whom I worked (and learned much) for eight years, each of whom has been instrumental in getting me another job since that time, get together, form a company to provide marketing and sales assistance to small companies. My new firm is one of their two clients.

And they're screwing up right and left.

Not content with refusing to treat me like a client, instead of like the gofer she bossed around for 8 years, the Terminatrix lays down the law to Alvin right and left, and frequently refuses to do things the way he wants things done.

Feisty Frieda is almost as bad. She treats me fine, but for some reason, she's really rude to Alvin, who is a nice, easy-going kind of guy but who can be pushed too far.

They both get pissy about being asked to re-write marketing material when it's inaccurate or just not well done. When we re-write it ourselves, to make it, you know, actually talk about the products we're selling, they get mad and complain about the work we create for them.

Neither of them listened to our version of what we wanted the new website (still under construction) to look like or what we wanted to say on it. We finally gave up and decided we could re-write the text ourselves at any time, so we'd just do that once they were out of the way.

Is this any way to treat a client? I don't think so.

The latest is the Print Job From Hell where we received a pink, orange, and black, pixilated vinyl banner with grommets to mount it on free-standing poles or maybe hang it from street lights at a craft fair when we wanted a black and red, silk-screened, matte plastic banner with velcro on the back to stick it to a trade-show booth. I won't even get into wondering why in the hell one of the letters in the middle of a line is clearly in a different typeface and about ten points smaller than any other letter.

Nor will I rant and rave about how she tried to blame it all on me, when my only contribution to the project was agreeing to pick the completed job up from Kinkos so she could leave town for a long weekend. (I did not, actually, pick up the job because I had a hair appointment. Alvin did. I did, however, spend the entire weekend on the phone between him and the actual designer, trying to figure out how to fix the mess.)

I had more bile to share, but they should be here momentarily (for a meeting that Alvin asked them to show up for at 11:00 this morning) and I want to get this posted.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have time to do a follow-up and even write about some important things, like my diet, my new haircut, and my opinion of the direction West Wing is going to take this year.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:28 PM

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I'm having the occasional "issue" these days.

Oh. I almost forgot. Hello! Long Time No Blog!

I've been working. It took an amazing (really, an embarrassing) amount of time to get back into the habit but here I am, knee-deep in it and looking for a shovel.

Alvin has gone trekking off cross-country with his family. He's on vacation for the next two weeks. Personally, I don't call piling my immediate family into a car and driving cross-country to visit other family members a "vacation" but I do understand that there are those who don't find their family as tedious as I find mine.

In theory, and certainly according to the popular picture of the American worker, I should spend the next two weeks playing computer games, surfing the net, chatting with friends, showing up late, and leaving early.

So far none of those things are happening. I may sue.

(I know, I know. I've dinked around enough in the last year to suit any normal person's needs, but I've never been normal. Bada-boom)


I've written five, or it might be six "papers" for the company to use as mailers or stuffers or as table-toppers at trade shows. I wrote them, then I laid them aside to "cool" while I moved on to other projects.

Now it's time to pick them back up and, with the objectivity of distance, go through and edit them until they cease to resemble something you might accidentally step in. Sadly, I'm running into the same problem here I run into in the fiction world.

I've been just about to pick these up for the last week and keep finding something else to do - and now it occurs to me that, fiction or nonfiction, it doesn't matter. I can't stand the thought of reading my own writing.

I'm thinking it's all tied up with my egomania.

Who but a rabid egomaniac would be so resistant to the concept of editing their writing? Am I under the impression that if I find faults, flaws, and weaknesses, it just might prove fatal?

Who knows. All I know is that I'm blogging for the first time in a week because I told myself this morning that I wasn't leaving the office until I'd gone through those papers...and now they're the only thing on my desk I haven't touched today.

It's after 5:00. I could go home, but I have this mandate and now I'm stuck, aren't I?

It's difficult to know if, aside from the papers, I've actually been accomplishing anything over the past few weeks. I've certainly been bustling around, anyhow. I've made folders, I've made forms, I've written notes, I've answered the phone, I've shipped stuff out, you name it. (It's amazing how banal you can make something sound by just avoiding messy details, isn't it?)

Also, I'm a little pissy because we've done three major installs of the product at client installations and, in reviewing my notes, I realize that not only the papers but every, single piece of client-directed material has to be rewritten. Also the website, which was "good enough" as long as no one was seeing it but now that's no longer the case and the major ugliness of it is becoming somewhat embarrassing.

None of this is likely to fascinate the casual reader, I know. I doubt if, by this time, I have any readers left, casual or otherwise, but on the off chance, let's change the subject to something a bit less egocentric.

Did I tell you I got around to watching the last episodes of Spike BtVS? I did. Snif.

Oh, well. it's not like he wasn't dead already or anything.

Monk! The new season of Monk starts next week. I love Monk, largely because I have a few obsessive/compulsive tendencies myself. The "cases" or "mysteries" aren't particularly deep or complex, but the show is stylish and the characters are entertaining.

Everyone else is probably going to be watching Keen Eddie. I tried that during the premiere, got bored, and turned it off.

I'm still talking about myself, aren't I?

I haven't done much more on that story. I've stared at what I've written so far, but the weaknesses in the characterizations are really starting to show. The rot starts right after the bit I posted last time.

(In reality, l I feel like this is a pretty cheesy way of writing a real blog entry, but there are days when I'm just not that amusing.)

* * *

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Mulder's eyebrows stayed within acceptable territory the next day and presumably the rest of the week, most of which Mulder and Scully spent in Pittsburgh, supposedly investigating the robbery of a local post office and, typically, finding themselves in the middle of a ghost story.

Their case report, written by Scully, didn't mention ghosts, robbing Walter of a half-formed impulse to use the unauthorized investigation to discipline Mulder for his transgression.

Not that he'd use something personal against a subordinate on the job, but Mulder had made his unconventional, and unwelcome, suggestion while they were actually at the office, so turnabout....

Walter slammed the brakes on that thought and stuffed the case report back into the file.

He wasn't thinking about it. Clearly Mulder had forgotten about it, and Walter was not thinking about it.

It had been a momentary aberration. Something too weird to be real, even by Mulder's standards. In fact, it probably hadn't happened at all. To judge by Mulder's behavior, he'd forgotten the incident completely, so maybe it hadn't happened.

Later that day, paperwork hit his desk requesting his approval of travel expenses to Wisconsin for Mulder and Scully. Reason? To investigate a reported UFO sighting.

Walter refused the request without comment and life went on.

Mulder and Scully cleaned up paperwork and scored on the post office robbery when Mulder's profiling expertise allowed local police to pick up a suspect hours before he hit a second location.

Another travel request hit Walter's desk. Cleveland. A UFO sighting.

This time, Walter added a note to his refusal, suggesting that the two agents resign and go to work for a private organization if they wanted to become full-time UFO chasers. With several thousand random reports a year coming into the Bureau, it needed more than, I saw a UFO, to warrant spending time and money on an investigation. Like a crime.

An unsigned note showed up in his inbox an hour later. It stated that over-regulation of government was a crime in itself, stifling imagination and creativity. It also suggested that remaining open to new ideas might produce happy results. Walter had read fortune cookies that were less transparent. He threw the note away and went on digging through the next year's preliminary budget figures to see what was being funded and what had been cut, or forgotten during the negotiation process.

That night when he got home, he had to pick up a rose some deliveryman had dropped in the hallway outside his door. He probably should have knocked on a few doors. The sensible thing to do would have been to throw it away and forget about it, but Walter dug out a vase and gave the flower some water. It made a bright spot on the counter and it smelled good.

He'd forgotten how sweet roses smelled.

The next day it was a candy bar. A Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar. Walter hated the things. It went into the trash and he made a mental note to mention the rising level of hallway trash to the doorman.

Dinner. A sandwich, tasteless. Canned soup, not hot enough and never as appetizing as the picture. If the candy bar had been something a little less disgusting, he might have taken a chance and eaten it.

When he walked past it, the rose still smelled sweet.

The next evening, there was no mistaking it. A tiny, white box dangled from his doorknob. Walter stared it at for a moment, then slipped the ribbon from around the knob and let himself in to his condo.

He put the box on the counter, next to the still-blooming rose.

He pretended not to be looking at it as he dumped some of his Chinese take-out into a bowl and moved his food and the evening newspaper to the table. As he ate, as he skimmed the headlines, he could feel the box sitting there, sending out a subliminal invitation.

There was a point after which you had to ask yourself if you were giving something more power over you by using up all of your energy resisting it.

Walter got the box and carried it, and the vase with the rose, into the living room. He put the vase on the coffee table and sat down on the sofa to look at the box. After a few seconds, he gave up the struggle and opened it.

Inside, nestled in a layer of soft foam, was a fly.

It was a good all-around fly for fishing a lot of conditions, but somehow Walter doubted that was why it had been chosen. It was called a Stimulator.

He picked up the fly and the foam shifted, revealing a second fly at the bottom of the box. It was a Bugger, a Woolly Bugger, actually.

Walter knew just whose sense of humor he was dealing with, but why?

It should have been some kind of apology for crossing a line, and maybe the flower or the candy bar could have been interpreted that way, but not the flies.

It was hard to believe that Mulder, of all people, wouldn't have known the names of what he was buying. Hell, knowing Mulder, by the time he'd finished paying for these, he'd probably learned enough about fly-fishing to give a speech on the subject.

Still. It was offensive. And it was harassment. He'd said 'no' after all. That should have been the end of a situation that should never have come up, right?

Absolutely. And Walter could totally see himself filing a complaint. 'Special Agent Mulder asked me for sex and after I refused, someone started leaving anonymous gifts outside my door.'

Cheap gifts, too. One flower? A candy bar? Cheap flies? It was almost insulting.

The original invitation, in all its unromantic bluntness, had been better than this. At least it had had the advantage of honesty.

Do me.

Walter gave himself a mental shake. What was it about Mulder that seemed to compel people to play by his rules? Walter had felt it happening to him before and it was happening now. Mulder wasn't even in the building and it was happening. He was letting Mulder set the rules for...for something that didn't exist.

I'm not doing it. He promised himself that. It had been a long time and he wasn't falling off the wagon, so to speak, now. Not for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as unreliable and unpredictable as Mulder.

All he needed was an opening. One indiscreet comment from Mulder, one thing he could use to tie all of this back to the man, and Walter would put a stop to it.

Ah, well. Maybe inspiration will strike or something.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:23 PM

Friday, May 2, 2003

The stupid lawyer just sent me 14 pages worth of document he wants to use to create a contract that should have been outlined in 2-3 pages. There goes the weekend.

All I can say is that this client had just better come through with a substantial amount of business, and darned soon!

Also, the Terminator was on her way out of my life but she's ba-a-a-ack and likely to be becoming a much larger part of the problem things. She seems to have discovered/remembered that an outside consultant has wide latitude for coming in and laying down the law right and left without actually having to do any of the work, so she's about to become an outside consultant.

Just what I need. Her, licensed, even paid to explain to me how I'm doing it all wrong and need to stop and consult her every five seconds to keep myself on the right path.

When I grow up, I want to be an outside consultant.

At some point Wednesday evening I seem to have enraged an Attention-Deficit Demon. I was just sitting in a chair, and when I stood up, ouch!. My ankle sprouted pain and stiffness for no discernable reason. It was sore enough yesterday that I could barely walk on it, but today it's practically well.

What kind of crippling owie disappears in 24 hours? Cut-rate demons, that's all you get these days.

And, speaking of demons, our VCR had a problem Tuesday and I didn't get Spike BtVS taped. (Our VCR needs a new user. The old one is defective.) I wouldn't care, except that I've heard there were some great funny scenes.

(Two more episodes, that's all. Surely it's not beyond me to be able to tape two lousy episodes of a show? Surely I have brain enough for that?)

This week I exercised (well, until the ADDemon struck), did huge amounts of laundry, Collapsed for many hours, fed about a million Insaniquarium fish, read five books, watched one hour of television, ate at least half a pound of chocolate, sat up until midnight every night, overslept every morning, and was generally a less-than completely productive member of society.

It was lovely.

It isn't that I can't, or don't do exactly those same things when my roommate is at home, except for leaving the television off for days at a time, it's just the luxury of hours and hours of untrammeled solitude.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:07 PM


The stupid lawyer just sent me 14 pages worth of document he wants to use to create a contract that should have been outlined in 2-3 pages. There goes the weekend.

All I can say is that this client had just better come through with a substantial amount of business, and darned soon!

Also, the Terminator was on her way out of my life but she's ba-a-a-ack and likely to be becoming a much larger part of the problem things. She seems to have discovered/remembered that an outside consultant has wide latitude for coming in and laying down the law right and left without actually having to do any of the work, so she's about to become an outside consultant.

Just what I need. Her, licensed, even paid to explain to me how I'm doing it all wrong and need to stop and consult her every five seconds to keep myself on the right path.

When I grow up, I want to be an outside consultant.

At some point Wednesday evening I seem to have enraged an Attention-Deficit Demon. I was just sitting in a chair, and when I stood up, ouch!. My ankle sprouted pain and stiffness for no discernable reason. It was sore enough yesterday that I could barely walk on it, but today it's practically well.

What kind of crippling owie disappears in 24 hours? Cut-rate demons, that's all you get these days.

And, speaking of demons, our VCR had a problem Tuesday and I didn't get Spike BtVS taped. (Our VCR needs a new user. The old one is defective.) I wouldn't care, except that I've heard there were some great funny scenes.

(Two more episodes, that's all. Surely it's not beyond me to be able to tape two lousy episodes of a show? Surely I have brain enough for that?)

This week I exercised (well, until the ADDemon struck), did huge amounts of laundry, Collapsed for many hours, fed about a million Insaniquarium fish, read five books, watched one hour of television, ate at least half a pound of chocolate, sat up until midnight every night, overslept every morning, and was generally a less-than completely productive member of society.

It was lovely.

It isn't that I can't, or don't do exactly those same things when my roommate is at home, except for leaving the television off for days at a time, it's just the luxury of hours and hours of untrammeled solitude.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:07 PM

Friday, March 14, 2003
Nothing to report

It's hot and it's Friday afternoon and I'd rather be at home and so I'm going to be boring.

This week I am practicing "talking to strangers." I don't know why. It just turned out to be the week for it. It's sort of an experiment in elevators thing. Whenever I get on the elevator and one other person is there, I strike up a conversation.

Today I met a woman who seemed to assume I knew who "he" was and what kind of "race" he was entered in and that she was somehow involved with "the parade" (St Patricks?) tomorrow.

Another woman confided to me all of the trouble her office has with the Problem Employee that no one can stand but whom management won't fire.

A man confided in my about how he fell down some steps at a wedding and now has permanent back problems and he is going to sue some city because he's not the first person who has fallen down those steps which appeared to have been located in a park or something.

I'm doing pretty well at "talking to strangers" but I wish I were meeting more interesting strangers, you know?

The JimByrnes-lookalike guy still doesn't speak to me. He shoots me sharp, suspicious looks when we meet. That's probably because back when I was first working here, I used to walk the stairs up to the third floor, then ride the rest of the way up. (I'm working on my butt, okay?) He got freaky when I always seemed to be on his floor. I'm starting to think that he's up to something, but I hope not because his compatriot/girlfriend/wife/whatever, Gillian, is charming. Jim-n-Gillian are almost always seen together and they make a cute couple.

I'm rethinking the language thing, though. Originally I thought they were speaking Russian or some Slavic language, but 90 percent of the visitors to their suite seem to be Mexican. And yet, I know Mexican when I hear it, and J-n-G aren't speaking Mexican. It's all very puzzling.

One good thing that came out of my upgrade to Blogger Pro is that I can now write blog entries in the evenings and "delay post" them until the next day. That's been a fabulous asset on my other blog. (I write there a lot more compulsively, but less interestingly, than I do here.) Sometimes I write three or four posts and "time-shift" them into the next morning so that they publish half an hour or an hour apart.

There's a certain surrealism about it that's hard to explain, but it's a joyful surrealism.

(I did write to the blogger people and demanded to know why the software had eaten my post and replaced with with an insult about me having a "big body". They didn't respond to the latter but have assured me that they're working on the former and that the post itself is honestly not gone, just not displaying. Hmph.)

As for this blog, well, I know I haven't written much recently, but I dedicated myself to spending a few hours each day this week working for the company. That and not having gotten around to watching any of my accumulated Spike BtVS episodes last weekend left me short of both time and material.

I'm going off Spike. I'm not sure why. I didn't have any inherent dislike for the idea of him falling in love with Buffy, but the few first-run episodes I've seen this year have shown that the character has been reduced to mooning around and looking wistful. Borrrring.

I understand that TVShowsOnDVD, or whatever the name of the site is, is collecting "votes" for whether or not The Sentinel should be brought out on DVD. I went ahead and voted for it. We'd likely buy it even though it's really not a very good show and the last time we tried to re-watch the tapes we have, we realized that we were skipping easily half the episodes.

Dum deed dum dum.

I really don't have anything to say. It's just that the last time I didn't post anything for five days, I got a stern note from a friend telling me that I was slacking.

So, here you go. I wrote.

And now that I've written, I'm going to go read my brochure on "how to create good newsletters and brochures" and try to keep from falling asleep. (And, just for kicks, I'm going to time-shift this post so that it doesn't show up for five minutes. Because, yes, I'm easily amused and because there's something about the process that I find oddly fascinating. I used to work for a company that was constantly insisting that, in our products, we didn't use "technology for technology's sake" and I never understood why they thought that was a virtue.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:05 PM

Friday, February 28, 2003

Okay, it's not that cold outside, but it's snowing. Of all the days to forget to bring a scarf, I picked today, the only day where wet stuff is actually falling from the sky.

Fortunately in such a small office, there are only a limited number of people to witness the dissolution of my hairdo. Such as it was, I mean. I didn't take much time putting myself together this morning for some reason. A minute ago I realized that I hadn't even remembered to put on make-up. I'll bet the world (as represented by the people in this office) is glad that I sit with my back to the room.

Darrell! He actually spoke to me today! Not only that, but he held a door open for me! This is not, let me make clear, one of those doors on a closer. It's just a door that stays open until someone closes it. Why Darrell felt that today of all days was the day he needed to stand there and wait until I'd entered before he closed it, I don't know. He even responded to my "thank you" in a very polite fashion.

Maybe it's the no make-up thing? I might look worse than I know.

The Other Brother Darrell has been chatty this week. I wanted to print to the color printer and he, as our network guy, has been unable to get the color printer to function. I think he feels guilty, but it's no big deal. I've grown accustomed to taking documents home, printing one copy on our inkjet, then taking them to Kinko's to have multiple copies made.

Not much time for blogging since I got home from Escapade (as proven by yesterday's blast from the past entry culled from a three year-old trip) because I'm trying to get Alvin ready to go on the road next week. He has to go to Minnesota (and suddenly it occurs to me to wonder if I've booked hotels or anything for that trip) and two days after he gets back, he and the Terminator are going to DC for a week.

While he is gone I will not be indulging in hours and hours of blogging daily. I will work conscientiously! I will!

(Okay, I'm not doing it at the moment, but my intentions are good.)


To return, if only tangentially, to the subject of Escapade, I also want to point out that there have apparently been myriads of bitches, whines, and complaints about the vids shown and I'd like to request that you people find a ladder and get over yourselves.

You're darned lucky so many people are interested in the hours and hours it takes to put together vids for your amusement and if you can't be gracious, even when you don't care for the fandom or the subject of the vid, then be quiet.

Sheesh. It's like story critique, okay? If you want to discuss the stylistic choices or whether or not the characters are being portrayed accurately or the structure the author/vidder used, then go ahead.

If you just want to whine because no one is writing/vidding what you want to read/see, then shut up. Or write/vid it yourself.

"I don't like that kind" is not an appropriate critique of anything.

This goes especially to those of you whining about het vids. I've got a secret for you yahoos. Men have been sleeping with women for at least as long as men have been sleeping with men, okay?

Get used to the idea, it's here to stay.

Deep breath.

Okay, I'm not sure where that came from. I didn't actually sit down to rant but Ranting Happens, doesn't it?

Disasters abound in reality, maybe that's why my brain is trying to hide in fandom.

One aunt, recently diagnosed with fast-spreading, terminal cancer, seems to be responding well so far to treatment. My brother's father-in-law and two brothers-in-law were in a car accident a couple of days ago. The F-I-L broke his arm but he has bone cancer, so they can't set it. I'm assuming amputation will be the only choice. One of the B-I-L was being CAT-scanned for neck/head injuries last I heard, no update yet. Back to my family, one dregs of society cousin just got nailed for what I think is the third time on a drug bust, so he's probably going away for a long time. The day after he got picked up, his girlfriend was in a fatal car accident.

Family is such a mixed blessing. When you need them, they rally 'round, but they're also subject to these little traumatic incidents.

Be well.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:53 AM

Friday, January 31, 2003
You know the drill

So, it's been a while since I rambled on endlessly about Spike BtVS, hasn't it? Between work and venting ire at our sort-of elected officials, I've been busy. Mostly work, I'll admit.

I tamed the beast that is FrontPage. Well, 'caged it' might be a better way of putting it. Alvin helped. As we were dinking with formatting I re-read my prose, realized it all sucked sugarless lemon-lime, and re-wrote 75 percent of it on the fly. It's still not good, but it doesn't wander as aimlessly as it did.

For the rest of today I'm working graphics. I'm probably the least visual person I know. Why do I get stuck with choosing layouts and finding graphics that don't suck?

We're migrating the new page up to the web this weekend, so I don't have time to complain and get the work done. (Well, at the moment I've clearly chosen 'complain' over 'work' but it's just a brief interlude.

Next week's delightful chores: A mock white-paper I'm putting together for Version 2.0 of the site, and marketing/sales material we can e-mail or hand out at trade shows.

I've made an outline of the elements that should, generically, appear in a white paper. I'm still waiting for inspiration about Spike.

Freudian typo, there. Honestly. I meant to type, "content." Still waiting for inspiration about content.

Oh, well. On to the matter at hand.

Finally watched the ep I taped last Tuesday. Not enough Spike, but don't I usually feel that way?

What's with all of the proto-slayers? They aren't really thinking spin-off, are they?

Do I care? Not. I doubt Spike will appear, after all. Or Giles. Or Willow. What would be the point?

Reluctantly I'm compelled to admit that I like Xander better after watching that episode. I still think that anyone whose been in the thick of things for seven years should by now be less whiney about it all and should have developed a few useful skills beyond the window-replacing variety but I doubt I'd fare much better in the same situation, so I won't annoy the Xander fans by complaining about it endlessly. He had a seriously good point, though. It would be hell to be no-one in the middle of all of that talent for years on end. (Pudgy little devil, isn't he?)

Why doesn't anyone write and tell me when the S4 DVDs will be released? Have I not made it clear yet that time is at a premium for me right now? Can you informed fans step up to the plate and share a little information?

While you're at it, someone give me the URL to a decent site on the web where the backstory of this show is listed, okay?

(Apparently it's me-me-me day at Casa AnneZo. The world sighs in irritation and starts to sidle out of the room, hoping to find a decent rant going on somewhere else.)

Someone wrote me a long, lovely note about the Geezers In Grocery Stores rant. Condensed, let's just say that she advocates a degree of violence toward the old dears that I can't quite reconcile with my passively passive-aggressive nature. But I've thought about doing those things, yes.

I've thought about handcuffing Spike to a bed, too. That doesn't mean I'd do it if given the opportunity.

Hot flash ensues.

Oops. My mind is never far from the gutter, is it?

(An intriguing flash of a pristine, white bed and a pair of empty handcuffs distracts Anne's attention for several consecutive minutes.)

It's not like I had anything to say, okay? It's a blog. It's not a staggering work of heart-breaking genius. Just me, wandering around inside of my psyche, picking out the more publicly acceptable bits to share.

I'm disappointed. I've watched three seasons of this show, and bits of a few episodes from this season, and I'm still getting zero slash vibes. It's all very upsetting. Spike is too beautiful not to slash but I can't go there without subtext. I need the vibe.

(Another long pause while the critical 'vibe' is considered in the context of Spike. The world fidgets and wonders why it bothers to come over here, anyhow.)

Fine. Go somewhere else.

I may have brilliant thoughts to share later, but you'll never know, will you?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:46 AM

Thursday, January 23, 2003
Aha! Stupid MicrosoftFrontPage. Having


Stupid MicrosoftFrontPage.

Having gotten to the point where I was willing to admit I couldn't go it alone, I gave in and read the instructions, starting with page one. I did figure out how to create a "web" out of my individual pages, but I can't see any benefit to having done it.

Still, it was a new thing I learned, right?

Now if I can just figure out how to make the headers and footers appear....

I'll bet it has something to do with those mysterious asp pages, what do you think? I can, of course, save a page "as" an asp, but I'm not sure that's really the point.

Back to the table of contents in the help file....

I'm spending my days working, not thinking about Spike BtVS. Except that I sort of thought about him it for an hour or so yesterday. You know, in between doing work things. Mostly I've been working because I wanted to have this stupid website done by Tuesday.

I've thought about him it a bit, now and then. I have Many Thoughts, but my Season 3 DVDs arrived, so maybe I should wait until I've seen those eps and see if any of my questions get answered.

Must. Have. Coffee.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:50 AM

Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Aauugghh! Why aren't there


Why aren't there any html pages in the "original" website folder? Why don't you use FrontPage to write html files? What is it with the asp pages? Why can't you actually use FrontPage to design a website? Why does it make asp pages instead? Where are the original html pages? Didn't they write html pages?

What kind of sadistic monster designed this nightmare?

I don't know how to use this stupid program and I hate it, hate it, hate it. If this was Sunnydale, I'd be wishing for a demon to inhabit this stupid computer and eat this stupid, ugly, badly designed software program.

I've stripped everything out of these stupid pages until this is going to be the plainest website ever designed. There's only one graphic left, in the header, and I can't figure out how you force FrontPage to pull the header at the top of every page.

I'm getting cranky. Can you tell?

I can't believe Bill Gates is going to pocket an extra $98.5 million or something out of that moron Bush's newest tax cut program. He, Gates, should be forced to spend the money teaching me to use his software.

If there's anything left, I'll use it to pay my therapy bills.


I guess the first step is to admit defeat. I'll have to admit that I'm powerless over FrontPage and get Alvin to intercede with a higher power for me.

Or I could throw the computer through a window.

I think I'll go write a long blog entry about some totally new subject. That should take my mind off of things.

)Let me see...I haven't written about Spike in a while, have I? I have some No Doubt Very Important Thoughts to share. And some, you know, just general drooling.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:10 AM

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
More things I'm not

More things I'm not thinking about

I'm not thinking about why a person who has never even seen FrontPage before is sitting here trying to convert my rough-draft text for our web pages into .asp files instead of trying to convert said rough-draft text into decent prose.

Why asp? Why not html? I don't understand what I'm doing. Someone explain to me why a static web page has to be saved as an .asp?

What am I doing and why aren't you allowed to be creative with business websites? It's boring to write in such a boring style.

I created a logo yesterday. I was very proud of it until my sister told me it looked like a gun. I told her it was a hand and then she wanted to know why my company logo was going to be a hand cupping a breast.

Sigh. So, this morning I started over.

I'm neither a marketing person nor a graphic designer, okay?

As far as that goes, I'm barely able to write html code to put a link into a document, so I'm not a programmer, either. At the moment, I'm staring blindly at an open file and trying to remember how I get a picture to show up.

I may be about to panic. Fortunately, I have chocolate in my desk.

I know I had a freeware program once-upon-a-time that let you create those nifty hotspots inside of pictures so that you could have links embedded in different parts of a graphic, but I don't remember what it was called or where I found it. Nor do I think I could force FrontPage, which is currently insisting on making all of my text bold for reasons I can't identify, to accept the product of such an attempt, so I don't know why the unoccupied parts of my brain are insisting upon dwelling on the subject.

Hmph. I wonder how much it costs to hire someone who can write html code? I could pay someone on the side to do this stuff for me, then I'd look smart.

I'd be hard at work on the whole web page thing, but when I finish with it I have to write a 3-year business plan for a company that, you know, doesn't have any actual business, and there's no real rush to move on.

Remind me again why I work for these small companies?

Oh, yeah. They're the only ones willing to pay me double what I'm worth for learning to do my job on the job.

And it's the only kind of job where I can usually spend several hours a day thinking about...wait for it...Spike!

Heh. Heh.

It's not that I'm obsessed or anything, of course. It's just that he was So Pretty.

(Ladies and other people, there will be a short pause while today's featured speaker pulls herself together)

So. Spike and Angelus love Drusilla but Drusilla is too much of a psychopath to just pick one and stick with him?

Or is she just a nympho who couldn't wait for Spike to get well once Angelus showed up and was willing?

Or was it that even Angelus got tired of her weirdness after a century or so and so he bailed on her and she went walkabout and found William, aka. Spike? And then, in a move that I think is probably typical of him, Angelus decided that if someone else wanted Drusilla, then maybe he wasn't tired of her after all, so he came back and interfered until he got his soul back?

Or. Were Angelus and Drusilla still together when she vamped Spike and he was in love with her but had to wait until Angelus left until he could get his hands on her?

Or. Were Angelus and Drusilla together and Spike a third wheel until sometime after Angelus got his soul back and left, and then Drusilla picked up Spike because she had time on her hands?

Why would anyone sleep with Angelus if Spike was around?

Why do vampires have sex lives anyhow?

Do I care? Not a lot, except that the question of why on earth Spike wanted Drusilla bothers me. (Actually, I found Drusilla pretty gross on a number of levels and I can't imagine why anyone would want to sleep with her. I mean, there's Willow and even Cordelia and Buffy. Who here really thinks Drusilla looks that appetizing next to those three? Especially Willow, who is just yummy.)

(I'm just saying, okay? About five minutes of that whole Evil Ophelia thing and I'd be putting Drusilla's head in a bucket.

Yeah, I know, it's not her fault and Angelus did it to her. Someone do the woman a favor and stake her. She is way past her sell-by date.)

I seem to remember some offhand remark in an episode that indicates that vampires pretty much want what "people" want. Food, shelter, etc. Why do demons want these things? Are they somehow entrapped by the "needs" of the human bodies they misappropriate?

If demons really did show up first and then humans infested the planet later, as I remember hearing in an episode, what did the demons live on before the humans appeared? Fruits and nuts? When did animals show up?

What do demons do besides drink blood? Do they all plot to overthrow humanity or are most of them pretty content with regular meals and a dark corner to snooze in? Do you suppose that the hapless vamps enlisted by Angelus, et. al., secretly wish they could just sneak off and live a life of peace and quiet somewhere else?

What purpose do these beings serve? If all they do is eat and sleep, why do they want to take over the world? It's not like they're going to do anything with it, right? Is it just spitefulness because they're not able to go sit on a sunny, summer beach?

Are demons actually militant environmentalists, determined to wipe out the polluting scourge that's ruining the planet? Are they mad because it doesn't look like we're going to be able to save all the whales? If we switch to wind power and promise to stop digging up Alaska, will they settle down and leave us alone? Can we volunteer people we don't like as food?

I don't know why I'm nitpicking like this. Compared to the canon Chris, yes, it's the Anti-Christ, Carter gave us, this show is positively brilliant when it comes to internal consistency.

I have many thoughts, none of which are getting this stupid web page finished.


FrontPage=Real Evil

Posted by AnneZook at 12:02 PM

Monday, January 6, 2003

Alas, poor Chipmunk, I knew him not at all well.

It's been four days since my last entry but life has not been uneventful. For three hours on Thursday and over eight hours on Friday, Alvin and I reinvented our little corner of the world. Again. This is about the fourth time we've been through this since I started working here six months ago.

The process is not without its charms. There's something to be said, after all, for sitting around talking about how things should be done, instead of actually working on anything.

Anyhow. The upshot of this last round of negotiations is that the Chipmunk is out, in spite of previous plans to form a corporation and issue stock and all of those other business-related tasks that marry people of dissimilar abilities into a team intended to produce a product or service that will suck money from the pockets of the unsuspecting public.

The Chipmunk, it was determined, wasn't bringing enough to the table. At the birthday party of life, he was the boy who carried in a grubby twenty-five cent card and explained that he'd meant to go shopping, he'd thought about going shopping, but that there was a game on that day and he never got around to it.

It's all very weird. We'll have to change the name of this company and design a new logo. We'll need new stationary. Business cards. Comb-binder covers.

Alvin is trying to convince Buehler to fund the two of us for 12 months to let us put the new! improved! business plan into action and prove that we can, in fact, make some serious money. To that end, a two-hour meetings has been scheduled for this coming Wednesday. (A meeting, I should add, that I'm supposed to be preparing for at this minute.)

In the divorce, the Chipmunk got the clients set up under the then-existing agreement which makes it a tad embarrassing that the only contact information most of them have is mine. (On the plus side, I can see no reason I would ever have to go back to New Orleans under the new arrangement!)

The biggest kicker, of course, is that we can now no longer blame the Chipmunk for not doing something when business affairs aren't hustling along to our satisfaction. There will be no one to blame but the two of us.

Considering that I spend about six hour surfing and blogging most days, that's a little scary. (I've been looking for that missing work ethic but haven't located the little monster yet. I must have misfiled it the last time I cleaned out the closet.)

And now, just to add to the charm of facing my first five-day work week in quite a while, we're about to go back into the meeting and decide how to implement all of the grandiose plans we made last week.

Honestly, I continue to wonder why I continue to work for such small companies. I mean, sure, you get a lot of flexibility, but I'm beginning to think there's a lot to be said for the kind of job where you're just a cog in a really large wheel.

And since I have to go into a meeting, I don't have time to write about Spike BtVS, which is a pity since I bought Season Two this weekend and got to see the first three or four episodes.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

Monday, December 23, 2002
The tractor-trailer of cholesterol death

I had it for breakfast yesterday. It's called "The 18-Wheeler" and you get it at La Peep, the breakfast place we walk over to once or twice a year. We don't go any more often than that because I'm pretty sure that every meal there increases my cholesterol count by out 20 points.

I don't have high cholesterol, understand, but I also don't want it, and I'd imagine that eating two slices of French toast, two eggs, two slices of bacon, and a heaping helping of fried potatoes at one sitting could be considered a step in the wrong direction.

I barely ate anything at all for the rest of the day.

Alvin is off in the conference room "beating on"' the Chipmunk via telephone. Once he finishes that portion of today's business, he'll bring me in and make it a conference call. Nothing I like better, approaching the holidays, than being invited into the room just after everyone has had a fight.

Blah, blah, blah. I am completely ready for the holiday, including being ready to not work for a couple of days. I've been here for 3-1/2 hours and the only work-related things I've accomplished so far are to check my e-mail and voice-mail.

My head is still full of Spike, in spite of the repeats being in a Spike-free zone at the moment and yet I'm still finding the show itself woefully predictable, I'm afraid. The plots of the episodes I've been seeing recently have been yawningly unsurprising, anyhow.

I'm willing to believe that things improve, but I am, after all, watching Season 3, so it's not like I'm judging the show by its freshman year or anything. I have to assume that, by now, the show has hit its stride. Still, I find it easy to believe I'll prefer the upcoming episodes, set after the characters graduated from high school.

I've also heard a lot about "snappy dialogue" in this show over the years, but I've heard darned little of it in the episodes I've seen.

After a while, a character responding with tangential non-sequitors becomes so predictable that it's no longer amusing, and having half the characters constantly making sarcastic rejoinders isn't, in my book, enough to qualify as "witty dialogue." The writing seems to be good, so maybe it's that the actors aren't delivering the lines in a way that raises them from "lines" to "repartee" or something.

Dialogue requires rhythm and that's what the show seems to lack. There's this sense that many of the actors are delivering their "line" and then stopping politely to let the next person deliver the next "line." Drives me nuts to hear it.

There are, of course, exceptions.

(Long, uneducated rambling about the acting of the various actors removed. Suffice to say that I think Giles and Spike are sexy, that I'm impressed with how the actor handled the part of the Mayor, and that I love the character of Willow but that I think the actress needs to stop trying so hard.)

I have no idea why I'm writing all of this. It's not like I have any intention of becoming involved with any of the online fandom/reading/writing contingent.

I think I'm just bored and avoiding honest work since I am fully aware that I haven't seen enough episodes to make an overall judgment about the show yet.

It's been an hour, maybe more, and Alvin is still locked in the conference room. I wonder what in the heck is going on?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:30 PM

The tractor-trailer of cholesterol death

I had it for breakfast yesterday. It's called "The 18-Wheeler" and you get it at La Peep, the breakfast place we walk over to once or twice a year. We don't go any more often than that because I'm pretty sure that every meal there increases my cholesterol count by out 20 points.

I don't have high cholesterol, understand, but I also don't want it, and I'd imagine that eating two slices of French toast, two eggs, two slices of bacon, and a heaping helping of fried potatoes at one sitting could be considered a step in the wrong direction.

I barely ate anything at all for the rest of the day.

Alvin is off in the conference room "beating on"' the Chipmunk via telephone. Once he finishes that portion of today's business, he'll bring me in and make it a conference call. Nothing I like better, approaching the holidays, than being invited into the room just after everyone has had a fight.

Blah, blah, blah. I am completely ready for the holiday, including being ready to not work for a couple of days. I've been here for 3-1/2 hours and the only work-related things I've accomplished so far are to check my e-mail and voice-mail.

My head is still full of Spike, in spite of the repeats being in a Spike-free zone at the moment and yet I'm still finding the show itself woefully predictable, I'm afraid. The plots of the episodes I've been seeing recently have been yawningly unsurprising, anyhow.

I'm willing to believe that things improve, but I am, after all, watching Season 3, so it's not like I'm judging the show by its freshman year or anything. I have to assume that, by now, the show has hit its stride. Still, I find it easy to believe I'll prefer the upcoming episodes, set after the characters graduated from high school.

I've also heard a lot about "snappy dialogue" in this show over the years, but I've heard darned little of it in the episodes I've seen.

After a while, a character responding with tangential non-sequitors becomes so predictable that it's no longer amusing, and having half the characters constantly making sarcastic rejoinders isn't, in my book, enough to qualify as "witty dialogue." The writing seems to be good, so maybe it's that the actors aren't delivering the lines in a way that raises them from "lines" to "repartee" or something.

Dialogue requires rhythm and that's what the show seems to lack. There's this sense that many of the actors are delivering their "line" and then stopping politely to let the next person deliver the next "line." Drives me nuts to hear it.

There are, of course, exceptions.

(Long, uneducated rambling about the acting of the various actors removed. Suffice to say that I think Giles and Spike are sexy, that I'm impressed with how the actor handled the part of the Mayor, and that I love the character of Willow but that I think the actress needs to stop trying so hard.)

I have no idea why I'm writing all of this. It's not like I have any intention of becoming involved with any of the online fandom/reading/writing contingent.

I think I'm just bored and avoiding honest work since I am fully aware that I haven't seen enough episodes to make an overall judgment about the show yet.

It's been an hour, maybe more, and Alvin is still locked in the conference room. I wonder what in the heck is going on?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:30 PM

Monday, December 16, 2002
Tuffy, the Chipmunk, TIVO, and Spike!

Alvin and I are still brooding over exactly how to best position our new concept for our product to be most successful. We've spent a lot of time discussing this over the past couple of weeks, as well as how to get the Chipmunk up here and beat on him until he does what we want the way we want.

Okay, that last part isn't true, but we've spent a fair amount of time bemoaning the fact that he seems to be spending about ten minutes a week on business for this company and when he is working, we never know quite what he's doing or to whom he's talking.

Drives me nuts. I'm not a control freak, don't get me wrong, but I feel like I'm floundering around drooling on myself when I realize I'm unable to follow-up on a three week-old conversation that I only heard of five minutes ago and during which I'm entirely uncertain what precisely was discussed or agreed upon, when following up on things and making them happen is what I was supposedly hired to do.

If you're confused after reading that, imagine how I feel.

Also, it looks like Tuffy the Tank overstepped the bounds in her Friday meeting with Alvin and demanded not only that our two companies merge, but that she and her current partner be given 44 percent of the equity and that she be named CEO of the new company.

Based, as I'm guiltily aware, on a lot of my own information on how Tuffy was as a boss in my previous experience with her, Alvin's not really willing to go that route with her.

Which makes me glad because while I don't doubt she has the energy to go out and make the sales to make us successful, I cannot convince myself that the emotional pain and mental exhaustion that come with working with her are worth it.

Buffy! I'm still embarrassed, but I'm completely in love with Spike (in a fannish, but non-writing way) and I rabidly disappointed on Sunday when I watched the eps I'd taped last week and realized that FX is starting their re-runs over at Season Three, which means lag time between Spike episodes because the character apparently wasn't a regular back then.

It's weird, okay? If they've finished the run of shows that they bought the rights to, why start over with Season Three instead of One? Or do they not own the rights to repeat Seasons One and Two?

It's nice to have Giles, though.

On the other hand, I know one of those amazingly gorgeous, talented, and generous fans and she says she's transferred all of her Buffy tapes to DVD, and she's offered to give her old tapes to me, hooray! I should have plenty to feed my obsession in January. Hooray for K!

I want to transfer all of my VCR tapes to DVD, too!

I'd love to be able to capture some of the shows I watch and rewatch, put them on DVD, and save the 200 feet of storage space currently occupied by VCR tapes.

For instance, they're rerunning Sentinel in January. We almost never watch it any more, but occasionally we do and it would be nice to get rid of those lousy-quality VCR tapes we have and have a short stack of tidy, clear DVDs.

However. Taking a quick look at the budget convinces me that I can't have any more high-tech toys for the next three months or so. I just don't have $1000 to invest right now.

Anyhow, I'm all torn on the subject of new toys.

I might want to bail on ATT Broadband and get a satellite dish instead. Maybe I want TIVO, too. And then if I could TIVO and transfer things to DVD instead of VCR tapes, I'd be in techno-heaven, wouldn't I?

The thing to remember is that I watch about three hours of television a week.

From whence comes this urge to spend $2000 on fancy equipment purely as toys for a three hour a week activity? I don't know, okay? I only know that when I hear people dissing Americans for conspicuous consumption, I tend to hide under the table and pretend to be a shoelace.

I want the stuff anyhow. Like I wanted the $45/month cable modem to facilitate the five minutes a day that I spend checking my e-mail. I neeeed these things! (My car needs tires and a new windshield, too, but those aren't fun.)

Of course, now that I have experienced this sudden and inexplicable burst of lust for Spike interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I'll have to be watching an additional 10 hours (Good grief!) of television a week until I get caught up on the repeats FX is showing.

I'm not sure how long this will last, though, because I don't think I've ever watched 13 hours of television in a week in my entire life, outside of something like the Olympics. It's a fairly major commitment of time.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:32 PM

Sunday, December 8, 2002
Day 1 - Gee,

Day 1 - Gee, but I wanna go home.

it's not a good start when your landing for a trip you don't want to take anyhow is delayed for half an hour so that the stupid President's stupid plane can take off. I mean, everyone knows the man does no work (he had more vacation days in the first year of his Presidency than most Presidents take in three years, including taking the entire month of August, 2001, off) but he could at least stay in Washington and pretend to be doing something, okay? Why does he have to be where I am?

As I may have mentioned before, I hate 2-star hotels. I can't remember the last time I stayed in one and this Ramada Inn is reminding me of why I stopped.

I had to move the coffee pot from the bathroom area into the sleeping area because the cover over the outlet it was plugged into in the bathroom area seemed to be falling off the wall, with the wires connected to it being the only thing holding it on.

I was grateful, to have a coffee pot, though. I'll admit that I'd have been more grateful to have had coffee and a cup as well. Fortunately I had some kind of disaster premonition and brought coffee, filters, and a cup, things I don't usually carry when I travel.

The room needs painted and repapered, badly, and while I appreciate the table to work on, I would have equally appreciated a desk chair. However, I've decided that by pulling the armchair over and perching on the arm, I can probably type for about ten minutes before I lose all feeling in my butt. Or my knees, which are crammed under the lip of the table.

The hotel dining room (I never book a hotel without room service and a restaurant) was closed this evening, for no discernable reason. Not having eaten all day, I decided to walk the block to the Holiday Inn that I was told was the only food (besides Burger King, yecch) close by.

Probably the worst meal I've ever had in my life. I had to pick between "jambalaya" and "red beans and rice", both local specialties. I've had RB&R before and loved it, so I finally settled on it but a disgusting mound of tasteless white rice surrounded by a lake of some unidentifiable brown bean sauce and a couple of slices of bland sausage is not what I've been served before when I've ordered it, okay?

Now I also remember why I order chicken 90 percent of the time when I travel.

I know, you can't expect something fabulous from a hotel restaurant, but I think one that has the nerve to charge an average $15 a plate for dinner entrees is obligated to present edible food.

It's nice to have three closets ( Three? Three! In a hotel! And one is a walk-in!), but I'd have been more impressed if there hadn’t been a total of seven hangers in the three of them. I had to hang my clothes all over the place and I'll probably forget something when I leave. Sigh.

But I spoke to the client, she was very friendly, wants me to meet her in her office at 10 tomorrow, and she seems to have had some kind of ESP moment because she said she didn't trust me to drive myself around town and she's enlisted her boyfriend to haul me from place to place for the next three days.

Isn't that sweet? I mean, I could have rented a car but I didn't because I have the world's worst sense of direction, so I was going to take cabs and just nick the company for the cost, but she was appalled at the expense (maybe it's just me, but I don't consider $20 that expensive for a cab ride) and made different arrangements.

Honestly, I'd rather have the freedom to just call a cab when I want to go somewhere, but how can you fault that kind of generosity?

She's also decided they want to take some time and show me "their" New Orleans, including some place she said we had to eat, because she's appalled that I saw nothing of the city the last time I was here.

Again, by the end of a day visiting various offices, cajoling reluctant people to at least try the equipment, and troubleshooting any IT problems with the installations, and, it seems, making nice to her boyfriend in between times, I'd rather collapse in the hotel room and fall apart for a few hours, but there's no way to refuse that kind of offer.

Sigh. Especially not after I worked so hard to make these people like my company. (Okay, I don't know if they like my company yet or not, but they apparently like me and that’s certainly a start, isn't it?)

Fine. Now my butt is numb.

Day 2 – I don't like it here.

This city smells funny. It's the swamps or bayous or whatever they call them I guess. Kind of sour.

This morning at 8:00 I discovered that that metal plate next to the outlet cover that's falling off of the wall is where the hair dryer for this room should have been. I called housekeeping and they said they'd find me a hair dryer.

This morning at 9:45 I went to the front desk to complain that said hair dryer had not appeared and they told me they'd find me one.

This afternoon at 4:30 I got back to the hotel and to my room and there's no hair dryer. I just called the front desk and they've said they'll find me one.

It might have been cheaper to take a cab today instead of using my client's boyfriend since it turns out he's charging me for the service. I don't mind it, he's not asking for that much, but I didn't understand from the client's phone call yesterday that this guy was going to want paid for picking me up, driving me to two places, and bringing me back to the hotel. Still, I keep telling myself that tomorrow and Friday the offices I'm visiting are much further away and that it will be more cost-effective in the end. He's a nice guy and all but six solid hours of "making nice" about wore me out today. Especially since he's all born-again about some 12-step drug abuse he helps administer.

Considering how long I had to wait for a cab outside the hotel this morning, it might be worth it to have a car and driver waiting on my convenience as I work these offices.

I've decided that it's not that the client likes me that much that she made this arrangement. It's because, (1) her boyfriend needed to earn some extra money; and (2) they think I'm dimwitted or something. He not only drove me to each appointment, he walked me into each office and then sat there and waited for me. In retrospect, I'm kind of insulted.

The three of us wound up having lunch in a food court in the mall that the client's office building sits next to. People are always raving about the food down here and while I know I haven't seen a decent restaurant yet, I'm...well, I'm annoyed that I've eaten six meals in this town (between the two trips I've made here in the last three weeks) and I haven't seen a decent restaurant yet.

I found a wobbly little vanity stool in the dressing area and I'm using it for a desk chair. It's about 6" too low and, as I said, wobbly, but is easier to use than the other chair since I'm not getting numb knees.

The client wanted to take me to, "the quarters" tonight, which I assume is either somewhere in the French Quarter or some other part of town, that being the local slang for it, but I begged off saying I needed to work.

I don't, but I'm tired and I can't take One. More. Minute. of being twelve-stepped today. I haven't had a decent meal since I've been here, but just for this once I'm willing to trade nutrition for peace and quiet.

Hey, hey! I called the office and now I have internet access!

Sigh. No, I don’t. I can dial in to my office e-mail, that's all.

I want to go home!

Day Three – Cold

Last night it rained, which explains why it was so muggy all day yesterday.

Today it's cold with a chilly breeze and I mean inside the hotel room. There seems to be a crack running along the underside of the windowsill and the wind is blowing in it. I'd turn on the heat but the heating unit has nothing but cold air to offer.

I went to the front desk on my way out to my first meeting this morning and stood over the woman until she found a hair dryer and called someone to take it to my room. When I got back this blasted hair dryer! So I went back to the front desk and it was sitting there, still in a box. They let me bring it upstairs, though, so I guess I won the battle.

I'm very grateful to have it. I used it a few minutes ago to thaw my feet out.


I'm rethinking the "deal" the client offered my about having her boyfriend drive me around. Yesterday wasn't bad but cabs would have been a lot cheaper today. I don't think there's any way I can get out of it tomorrow, but I dread to think what he's going to charge me for a trip to an office 25 miles away since another thing I didn't understand is that he intends to charge by the day, extra for gas, extra for more than two stops, and extra for more miles. I get the feeling I'm being had.

I'm just cranky I guess. If I'd been scheduling this, I would have done the first four offices in one day and then I could have done the other two today and have gone home tomorrow. I'm bitter that I have to stay until Saturday morning.

Maybe I'll take another shower to warm up. (And dry my hair!)

Day Four - Get me outta here!

My head cold that was disappearing has returned with a vengeance and now I've got bronchitis, I'm spending about 20 minutes at each of these appointments which means most of my day is wasted time, I still haven't had a decent meal (I offered to buy them dinner today and we wound up at freaking Bennigan's and I'm starting to think all of this talk about the fabbo New Orleans food is a lie), I'm having to sleep with all of my clothes on because it's so cold in this room, and I hate New Orleans.

Five o'clock this morning my phone rings, scaring the life out of me. (Since I got here, I've been called and told that one aunt fell and broke a hip and that an uncle had a heart attack and emergency heart surgery.)

This time it turned out to be the client with a brilliant idea that I should address a doctors' committee meeting at 7:30 this morning to explain to them what exactly is going on with this project. I'm starting to think the guy who signed these people up for this kept it a complete secret from everyone involved.

Naturally I said yes, rolled out of bed, pulled myself together (a hair dryer! Hooray!), and staggered downstairs by 6:50 so they could pick me up and drive me.

The day went okay. Today's scheduled office visit was 25 miles away and we wound up driving over what I'm told is the world's longest stretch of bridge that goes entirely over water - 24 miles. That was pretty cool. But. An hour's drive there, ten minutes inside, and then an hour's drive back, not including the time my "driver" spent getting lost. This is not a good use of time, since this was the only office actually using the equipment.

Still, I went, I made nice, and that's my job, right?

In other news, when I paid the boyfriend for today's trip (which I declined to make a substantial sum), the client looked surprised and it was pretty clear she hadn't known he was charging me money. That makes me feel better.

This evening, I came back to the room, packed, and now I'm going to sit on the edge of the bed and stare at the clock until tomorrow morning and I can get out of here.

The client asked me when I was going to be back and I managed not to spit, "when hell freezes over", which I think was something of a triumph.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:23 AM

Friday, November 29, 2002
Aha! I may, finally,

I may, finally, have found a critical "bonding point" with the Chipmunk. He's supposed to be visiting our fair city, and office, in a week or two and I discovered this morning that among his other charms (like, he hasn't called us for a week because he took the week off without informing anyone so we've been thinking he was down there working and he's really at Disneyworld or something), he has a daughter who's in competitive figure skating.

As some of my friends know to their dismay :) I am something of a fan of figure skating and if I can't create a bond with this fool on the subject of his beloved daughter's pastime, I'll hang up my B.S. shoes and retire from the business.


Because I'm not a nice person, I'll mention that it continues to be good news to me that Alvin's dissatisfaction with the progress of things around here is centered upon the Chipmunk and not on my probably-equally-as-culpable self.

If Alvin were aware, of course, that I'd composed the larger part of a 50,000 word novel while sitting at my desk over the last two weeks, he'd feel differently, but I'm actually dishonest enough to be okay with that.

Ah. The novel. It's done. Or, as done as it's likely to get. The weak attempt at plot I scrounged up was enough (with the addition if yet another gratuitous sex scene, bringing the novel's total, I believe, to six) to put me over the mark. It's not what you'd really call a 'novel' in the strictest sense of the word since it's characterizationally appalling, structurally aimless, and stylistically schizophrenic, but since I don't intend that any human being on the planet will ever read it, I don't care.

I wrote the bloody thing in 18 days and that's enough for me.

Well, okay, I didn’t write all of it in 18 days. When I was racking my brain for a plot to use to pad out the word-count, I happened to remember that my first, never-to-be-completed, Highlander story had a scene in it that would be easily adapted for my purpose, so about 3,000 words of the 50k were written ten or more years ago. Similarly, one of the sex scenes was lifted from another abandoned story and adapted. Hmmm...okay, so I'm short of "new, original" material by about 5,000 words.

Sue me.

Life is fairly peaceful on the urban front at the moment.

As I was getting this morning's coffee (stop me if I've mused on this subject before) it occurred to me to wonder exactly when I became able to carry on a conversation with a man wearing two heavy silver earrings, about five bracelets, and two silver necklaces and not even notice anything odd for about five months.

I spent the morning printing the documents I'm going to need in New Orleans next week and putting them in some kind of order so that I could find what I need when I need it.

I've decided against renting a car, what with my complete inability to navigate and all. A visit to Mapquest proved that four of the five offices I have to visit are less than 5 miles from my hotel. That means taking cabs will actually be cheaper. Hooray!

I'm staying near the Superdome, which is a crummy neighborhood, and staying in a Ramada Inn, and I hate two-star hotels, so I'm massively cranky about the whole trip even before I start. The good news, so far, is that I did manage to find a direct flight so I don't have to deal with one of those annoying layovers in the airport in Houston.

If I never again see the shrine to the Bush family that they've erected there, it will still be a year too soon.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:13 PM

Thursday, November 21, 2002
Urban life continues

Alvin called in this morning and said he'd be working at home, so it's very peaceful in my little corner of the office. I'm actually working for a change, too.

I'm not being as productive as I could be since IDoJeannie sent out an e-mail at 10:00 announcing that she was leaving for the day at 10:45. I had some stuff to be packed and shipped, normally her job, that I consequently had to drop everything else to handle myself. It's not that I'm not up to the challenge of sticking things in a box, you understand, it's the frustration of knowing that my company pays the parent company a fixed sum every month for IDoJeannie's assistance answering phones, shipping packages, etc., and she's not doing any of that.

Darrell very nearly spoke to me this morning. He was walking an interviewee for his company around, showing her the office, and he said, "And this is...." proving that he does know my name. He didn't seem to feel it incumbent upon him to share any further details, like my job or the (separate) company I work for, but at least he was forced to acknowledge my existence, right? That felt good after I'd spoken to him a couple of hours before and received no answer.

Conversational gambits from The Other Brother Darrell have become too common to mention. He's actually quite chatty any more, speaking to me freely three or even four times a week.

In the whoa! department, a guy on the elevator a couple of days ago asked me if I lived in ______ Apartments, which I do, and said he'd seen me there when he went to visit friends. Regardless of the fact that I've seen this no-doubt perfectly harmless young man around the building before, I'd rather not have strangers knowing where I live, okay?

Of course, my attitude could be colored by the fact that I've been reading a fascinating conspiracy-theorist book recently (They really do control the world!), but I don't think so. There are too many nutcases in the world today.

Sorry about the broken links to the graphics at the top of this page, by the way. After moving ISPs, and computers, I've realized that I only seem to have one of the two graphics needed for the banner and I can't, embarrassingly enough, figure out why even the one I've tried to upload doesn't appear.

I'll find some time to work on it one of these days soon, I promise.

Blah, blah, blah

I guess I really didn't have that much to say, did I?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:40 PM

Thursday, November 14, 2002
I'm just saying, okay?

I never wanted to work in a company where words like, "spondyloarthropathies" would cross my desk routinely. Nor has it improved the quality of my life to know that, "[t]raditional nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs ... inhibit both isoforms of the enzyme cyclooxygenase", okay? "The term angioedema denotes a well demarcated, non-pitting edema that occurs as large erythematous areas in skin and subcutaneous tissues" but I don't really care.

I don't feel I need to know these things. This is why, even at one point when I was in the eighth month of a job-hunting cycle, I never read the Help Wanted, Medical section of the newspaper. An obsessive hypochondriac doesn't need to know everything that can go wrong with the human body.

The only saving grace is that I only understand about one out of every four words that I read on the job.


Alvin's off for Georgia today. He's meeting the Chipmunk there and they're doing a presentation to someone we hope will become our star client. Fingers are crossed that they love what they see. And that the project's sponsor quits dinking around and turns loose of some more money. Let's wish for lots more money, while we're at it. I'd like to get rich off of my stock options on this job.

The Chipmunk has been acting very oddly recently. Maybe Alvin told him I was aware that we were having "issues" and he decided he didn't feel like a confrontation (Hee. Hee. Fool. I haven't confronted anyone about anything since about 1979), I don't know, but he's been simply charming ever since he heard that our southern clients had dis-invited him from addressing them a second time and requested my presence instead. He actually talks to me when he calls the office and when I call him for information, he doesn't have that, are we done yet? note in his voice.

Trouble in paradise? Darrell and The Other Brother Darrell don't seem quite as inseparable these days as they used to be. TOBDarrell keeps coming over to Alvin and wanting to know if he wants to walk over for coffee, when previously you never saw him without his shadow.

No one ever comes over and asks me if I want to walk over for coffee. What's up with that? I had a bath.

IDoJeannie supposedly handed in her resignation, but she's still here. What did she do, give six months' notice? I've quit covering for her on the phones. Just because I'm the only other female in the office doesn't make me the back-up receptionist, okay? Hmph.

I did notice that Jimmiedean has quit talking to me since I stopped playing receptionist for his company during the many hours that IDoJeannie spends out of the office, which is a shame because he was fun to talk to, but whatever. I have blogs to write and e-mail to answer, so I don't have an unlimited amount of time to chat with people around here anyhow.

I think Buehler likes me, though. He's taken to asking me what's happening every day and seems to find it amusing when I insist that ignorance is bliss and if anything is happening, I wasn't there and I'm not responsible. He also likes the, "I read banned books." button on the lapel of my coat. His approval means little in the scheme of things except that on the days he's in the office, I can count on at least one person besides Alvin actually speaking to me.

Back when they hired me, Alvin and the Chipmunk mentioned that they thought a newsletter, quarterly or monthly, would be a good way to stay in touch with both clients and prospective clients. A few days ago, the subject came back up so I sat down yesterday and wrote the first four. I have to send the first one off to the Chipmunk via e-mail today so he can write the article for the space I left him. We'll see how he reacts. I tend to get comments about the ahem informality, not to mention jocularity, of my writing style from people I work with. I tried to be restrained this time although I do hope the history of paper article in the second newsletter makes it past the censors.

NaNoWriMo Yeah, I joined. No, I'm not doing very well. My work count staggered up to 2005 last night. That means I'm only 19,662 words behind. And I've been writing with pen and paper, so even if, by some miracle, I reached 50,000 words, I couldn't prove it.

Plus which, in some ways it's liberating to write something where quality is completely irrelevant, but in other ways it's entirely painful to write something so entirely awful and not allow myself to tear it up and start over.

Nothing new on the dissing fanfiction front since A Kind Friend traumatized me with a line from a story about someone's ass "throbbing in anticipation of being filled again after so long" or some such crap. I know where she lives and if I suffer a breakdown as a result of these little excerpts she favors me with, I'm taking myself off to her house for an extended recuperation. I'll make her read me "Winnie The Pooh" and "The Wind In the Willows" every day for six months or something.

(There. I just wrote about 900 words. If I wrote on the novel this way, I'd be caught up in no time!

But I did think of a plan to stretch it out last night. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. I'll make my protagonist gay and then I can pad the word count with numerous smut scenes!

It's so obvious, now that I've thought about it.

What I need to write is a fanfiction-style, i.e., not realistic, coming-out story where my guy realizes that the reason he doesn't want to stay down on the farm and marry his best friend's girlfriend's best friend is that he'd rather shag his best friend, right? I can do that in my sleep.

After all, the guy's name is already Mercutio, mainly because someone wrote on a list somewhere recently that you couldn't viably name a character something unusual like "Mercutio" these days and I instantly thought of a way it could work but the point is that if he's named "Mercutio" he might as well be gay.

Especially since it's an AU Science Fiction story anyhow because I always wanted to write a story where people could work magic except that it only does little things so it can't be used to change the fate of the world or anything. If you're thinking that this entire premise sounds pretty sucky, well, just be grateful I'm not posting exerpts here.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:29 PM

Monday, November 11, 2002
Matters of little interest

It's been One. Of. Those. Days. so far.

One of those irritating, annoying, niggly days that don't quite go to hell but do teeter on the brink hour after hour.

I bought a new rolling bag to tote my stuff to and from the office with (and because I decided my old one wasn't "professional" enough to take on the road last week and because I just like to buy new things, okay?)

Anyhow, the new one is very professional. but when I left for work this morning, I was dragging it and carrying my purse and lunch sack because they wouldn't fit inside, plus a cup of coffee and somehow by the time I got to the car, it seemed like a lot of crap to be hauling around with me.

The old bag might have looked liked something a high school kid would have, but by gosh it would hold the computer, power cords, purse, and lunch sack with room to spare. Maybe I'll save the nice one "for good".

I bought a new purse this weekend and while it's gorgeous and wonderful, for some reason it wouldn't stay on my shoulder today so every two steps it was sliding down to my wrist and dragging on the ground behind me which is no way to treat a brand-new leather purse.

And when I got to the office, I didn't have the key to the parking garage so I parked in the lot and dragged all of the stuff to the elevator, intending to take it upstairs and get my keys out of the desk except that halfway up in the elevator I realized all of those keys were on the same key ring and I wasn't going to be able to get into the office, so I had to drag it all back out to the car. I tore apart the bag and finally located the keys in one place I could have sworn I'd never put them.

The only trivial disaster that didn't befall me on the way to work today was spilling coffee on my white sweater. I did not do that. I brought cream of potato soup (Home-made, McSwain! Soup!) and applesauce for lunch, so the sweater may make it through the day unscathed.

I'm having an icky hair day, but I have an appointment to get it cut and colored tomorrow.

IDoJeannie has pretty much worn out her welcome in my life. She called in sick three days last week because one of her kids had the croup.

Now, before anyone jumps my case, I do think sick kids belong at home. With their parents, even. (Or, rather, their mother, because the number of fathers who would stay home with a sick child constitutes a vanishingly small percentage of fathers.) However, as I've complained before, IDoJeannie is always missing time for some reason. She's one of those types who'd probably collapse in exhaustion if asked to work a 40-hour week. She shows up late and leaves early on those days where she deigns to show up at all. She misses at least one day a week for sickness, car problems, death in the family, or some other reason.

And, as I've also said before (if not here, then elsewhere), it's not that she's gone on the average of two days a week that I mind, it's the fact that she seems to sneak in an out on the days when she does show up, making it impossible to know if she's here or not.

Basically, last week I just quit answering the phones when she wasn't here. The calls were never for my company anyhow (we have a separate phone line from the other two companies that share this suite) and just because I'm female does not make me the automatic back-up receptionist for everyone in sight.

Anyhow, the reason I'm whining about it today is that she disappeared for an hour or two this morning, just about the time a couple of guys showed up to deliver a new refrigerator for the office. (The last one started leaking freon or whatever they use inside of those things any more.) Naturally when she unplugged the old one last week, she didn't ever bother to go back in and clean up the water, so it was full of water and puddles of coolant or freon residue today when the guys showed up.

I've washed my hands four times and I still can't get the smell off.

In the good news, Darrell actually spoke to me on Friday! He said, "I'm sorry I bothered you" when he asked me where someone was and I said they weren't in. The Other Brother Darrell walked over to get coffee with Alvin and me this morning. I don't know why I thought that was worth mentioning, except that he didn't speak to me the entire time which could easily be explained by the fact that Alvin and I talked incessantly about last weeks' various meetings.

And I did finally manage to get my hotel reservation for Escapade made, thanks to M nudging me.

It's 1:21 and I'm going to go eat lunch.

This is why I haven't been blogging much. (Besides having been out of town with no net access for three days, I mean.) Nothing to say.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:28 PM

Sunday, November 10, 2002
The Urban Lunch

I had one Friday.

I think that pretty much covers it. Except to say that the sweet-faced girl in the short black dress, clunky black platform sandals, and big, black tattoo was trying way too hard to be radical. Her face had "future PTA Mom" written all over it and the sooner she accepts her fact, the easier it will be on all of us.

Downtown Denver isn't downtown Washington D.C. folks. No primly suited management fast-trackers here, no Wall Street Bulls and Bears. This is Khaki Country.

I'm not sure if the abundance of khaki-clad business people downtown are dressed that way because because Denverites honestly love khaki or because they don't know that you're not really supposed to wear blue jeans with your tuxedo jacket when you attend a black-tie party.

This is a blog.

This is me, updating my blog.

Dissing me

The Docksider has been, I mean. Because I haven't updated my blog since my birthday.

I didn't get back from New Orleans until late Thursday, okay? And then I had to work Friday and by Friday evening I was exhausted because I never sleep well on the road and then yesterday we went to the Holiday Food & Gift Fair and then out to lunch and then to the grocery store and today I cleaned house and carried five loads of trash out and dusted and did a little vacuuming and cleaned out all the old disks from software we don't own any more and I've been busy, okay?

Stay tuned for further bulletins of little or no interest.


Posted by AnneZook at 02:01 PM

Thursday, October 31, 2002
I pity da fool.

(Okay, so Mr. T was hardly the kind of role model any of us, white, black, turquoise, or fuschia-striped, might want for our kids. Still.)

When you think of The T, you think of someone you don't want to mess with, which has nothing to do with me, being short and surprisingly afraid to open my mouth when I'm face-to-face with criminals. Not that I ever have been. Knowingly, I mean.

Well, maybe a drug dealer or two. There was a lot of that going around in the 70s, after all. You could hardly vet everyone you found standing next to you in the grocery store, you know. I didn't inhale or anything.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

Good news, bad news!

The Chipmunk has been dissed by a client. To the point where, being tired of beating around the bush diplomatically, the client came right out and said if we want our program to be utilized in their offices, we'd better send a different face to represent our company. It's good to know that I'm not the only human being on the face of the planet that finds him a touch arrogant.

Poor Alvin. He was already having a rough day when I informed him that the client had countermanded our decision to send the Chipmunk on over to chat up the locals.

The bad news? Under the heading of, "let's shoot the messenger!", they're sending me instead. Grrr. No, I've never been to New Orleans and yes, I've wanted to go. But not alone and on my birthday!

What if there are presents for me at my house? If I'm not there to open them On The Day, do I forfeit my right to them?

If I'm out of town, is my mother off the hook for remembering the actual day and calling me?

Will there be cake?

Who makes these decisions? I demand a recount. There were hanging chads!

What am I going to do with myself, all alone in New Orleans? I have one fifteen-minute meeting scheduled and for that I have to fly in the day before, and can't leave until the day after!

It's very sad to be me.

Also, it's snowing.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:06 PM

Monday, October 28, 2002
Drat them.

Why won't they let me do what they hired me to do? I'm getting frustrated and annoyed, okay? It's not such a delicate situation to "hand off" a contact from the person who made the initial call to the person (with years of experience) who is going to actually be doing the work from here on out.

The Chipmunk has a problem with me, I've accepted that. But somehow he's convinced Alvin that it's not wise to give me too much responsibility or something.* Trust me, I'm way overpaid to sit here and make spreadsheets all day, showing what we're not accomplishing.

I feel the "help wanted" ads calling me. If they don't trust me to do it, they should hire someone they do trust.

*Or, you know, I'm having a moment of paranoia. I'm prone to those.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:16 PM

I'm going to have to

I'm going to have to shave my legs, aren't I?

After no more consideration than I usually give such momentous decisions, I have taken a lover. He is sleek, compact, and powerful. He is beautiful. He is smart, but not too smart. While remaining in control of his own behavior, he is willing to allow me the privilege of directing where our relationship will go.

He respects my wishes and desires and seeks to conform to my expectations without demanding more than I am willing to give in return. He anticipates my requests and tries always to remember my preferences and predilections.

He has an aptitude for personal growth, being completely willing to let me remake him in the image that pleases me most.

He has more mental capacity than I will ever have while allowing me that comfortable conviction that I am more flexible and more understanding than he can aspire to be. I can gently nudge him in the direction I wish him to go, secure in the knowledge that while he may occasionally balk, he will in the end follow my directions.

And all without sacrificing a drop of my hard-won feminist freedom.

And, no, he doesn't actually require me to shave my legs.

Some days it doesn't seem like such a bad idea for men to be more like computers, does it?

With a Pentium 4, 2.4Gb processor, an 80Gb hard drive, a V90 modem, 512Mb ram, a 16x CD-Rom RW, a silvery-gray body and black-and-chrome accents, and a high-resolution, flat-screen monitor, "Number Five, is a little piece of perfection.

After Wednesday, when we receive our long-anticipated upgrade to broadband access, I anticipate wallowing in the nirvana of perfect internet access. What a lousy time to have a full-time job and be unable to sit at home body-surfing through the reams of streaming video programs that I've never been able to access before.


In other news, I had a lovely time with CP this weekend. We drank coffee, discussed politics (okay, mostly we dissed Bush, but I'm okay with that), bought books (bringing my weekend total to 13 and would anyone like a grab bag box o'previously viewed but mostly interesting books to land on their doorsteps? "Not you," to thewildmole, "Because I've finally accumulated another boxful for you and until you move and don't leave a forwarding address you're on my permanent list of donees, if that's a word which I sincerely doubt.").

After the computer, both bookstores, the department store (one sweater, two unmentionables, a new pair of gloves), the fiasco of the grocery store ($80, all snacks, no nutrients), I decided that shopping was dangerous for me this weekend and didn't make it in to replace my hair dryer. I'll have to keep using the (loud!) travel dryer until I motivate/remember to stop by Brookstone on the way home one evening and pick up a replacement.

Darrell is on my list this morning. He came in early and when I accidentally locked myself out of the office before anyone else had arrived, he sat in his office with the door shut and pretended he didn't hear me pounding on the door. Fortunately, Alvin arrived two minutes later and while I did, of course, have to put up with a certain amount of mockery, I was also allowed back into the office. I'd go rag on Darrell about it buy why break a perfect record of four months with never a voluntary word spoken between us? (He might have answered the door if he hadn't, apparently, feared that I'd say, "thank you" and force him to respond.)

Reliable sources have informed me that IDoJeannie has handed in her resignation, which might have explained her growing disinclination to work if it hadn't previously been established as her modus operandi.

Her boss, Buehler, hasn't dealt with the situation yet. I mean, in terms of advertising for or discussing a replacement, or arranging to be in the office to cover his own company's needs after she's gone. I am told that he, "doesn't know how he's going to handle the situation." What's so hard about hiring someone who can answer the phone, ship out his product, answer questions about his prices, and do light tech support for his customers?

Buehler's a nice guy (well, he's nice to me and laughs at my jokes and that's good enough for me), but he's not exactly a Type-A personality. With a little more ambition, a little more dedication to the hard work portion of building a business, his company would be easily ten times the size it is.

And, speaking of work.... If I want to pay for my share of this new WonderComputer, I'd better go do some.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:30 AM

Friday, October 25, 2002
The mountains are shrouded with

The mountains are shrouded with fog and the last fall leaves are shivering from gold to brown before spiraling down to carpet the earth with their fading color.

The cityscape looks like a daguerreotype, all faded colors and the glass-and-steel angles of civilization softened to murky stone. Across the way, a careless pattern of raised and lowered blinds gives a dim brick building an abandoned air of decay. Winter closes in. The city huddles within its streets, guarding doors and windows while the gusty wind whips around corners and down the pavement, catching unwary pedestrians and slicing through coats and scarves to steal their warmth.

Sometimes staring out the window is a good way to kill twenty minutes of that after-lunch coma but when you find yourself wondering if you can spell "daguerreotype" without benefit of a spelling program (I couldn't), it's time to get back to work.

In theory, I'm re-writing our website this week. In actuality, I'm staring at the pages I wrote the last time I tackled this project and bemoaning the fact that I didn't even get them uploaded before whoosh! we changed partners again and it was time to write up information on an entirely new business model.

Not that what I wrote last time was so great, but it was miles ahead of the blank page I've been staring at for the last three days.

It's a pity that contemporary architecture is so ugly, don't you think? Where are the graceful towers and the textured stonework of yesterday? Red brick always looks so solid and respectable to me. (Okay, I've just realized that the graceful tower I'm looking at is actually an unused smokestack, but you get my drift.)

Glass-and-steel structures, on the other hand, say, "He was an architect, not an artist. An engineer, not a designer."

There's a shade of beige-brown stone, of course, that screams, "in the fifties we had no taste." I wouldn't care to see that come back into fashion. I'm very fond of gray stone, though. It looks like fairy-tale castles.

My subconscious is working on the web pages. Really. Part of my mind is admiring the virginal invitation of a sheet of clean, white paper, but part of it is plotting to deface the paper with three colors of ink, arrows drawn in all directions, and copious amounts of white-out. The rest of it is mumbling phrases to do with comprehensive assessment and diagramming protocol restrictions. I live in hope of something useful being generated from that last section.

Any time now.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:07 AM

Thursday, October 24, 2002

IDoJeannie took off for a dental appointment an hour ago. The last time she did this she said she'd be back in a couple of hours but didn't make it back in at all. We'll see.

Overheard Alvin on a phone call this morning saying that he's been holding off on claiming his salary while we try to get the company going. Which makes me feel guilty not only about the amount of money I asked for, but about the amount of time I spend blogging, reading news sites, and answering personal e-mail while I'm at work. (Today, for instance, I've been here for 3-1/2 hours and have worked for about 15 minutes.)

I also told Alvin yesterday that I suspected that the Chipmunk has issues with me that I should know about. He neither confirmed nor denied this statement, leading me to believe that issues do exist and that Alvin just doesn't want to get in the middle of it. Hmph. I'm going to have to talk to the Chipmunk one day soon.

It's gray and cold and has been for two or three days now. An absence of sunlight always gets me down.

This weekend—shopping! Saturday we're buying a new computer, that being our lazy-assed way of dealing with the fact that our current machine (purchased in 1998) would need substantial upgrading in order to be able to cope with next week's ATT Broadband installation.

Sunday, C and I are getting together for coffee, donuts, and gossip, which should be fun. I haven't seen her in forever and having missed the last two get-togethers for the Colorado slash fans, I feel amazingly out of touch with what everyone is doing.

Possibly I'll be feeling more intelligent, or more entertaining, at a later time.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:17 PM

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Puff, wheeze, gasp

I had to climb the stairs because a bunch of guys were hogging up the elevators to move furniture.

Wheeze. One. Hundred. Stairs. Pant.

Sheesh. I have got to get into better shape.

Anyhow. Urban adventures!

This morning I was accosted by a giant banana.

Okay, it was a guy in a giant banana suit, but still. We were headed over to get coffee this morning and even Alvin agreed that 8:32 a.m. is simply too early in the day to be expected to cope with a giant banana desperate to give you a free smoothie.

It sounds vulgar when you say it that way, but I'm actually okay with that.

I still suspect the Chipmunk of not appreciating me the way one would like to be appreciated at work. When he calls and I answer the phone, he almost instantly demands to speak to Alvin and then today after I'd called him, he had his assistant call me back. Admittedly, I'm not the easiest person in the world to love but criminy, the guy works in Florida. How hard should it be for him to be civil and speak to me on the phone once or twice a week for five minutes at a time?

Jeannie (as in, "I Dream Of" not because she's magical but because I spend a lot of time wishing she'd put in a full day of work) is the shipping/receiving/reception person for all three of the sister companies sharing this office space.

IDoJeannie has some good knowledge of what's going on, but she's hard to work with (on those occasions that she's actually here) because she doesn't adapt to change well, even the smallest of changes, and she's amazingly whiney when asked to do something difficult, like ship something with only an hour's notice.

She had her hours officially changed so that she works from 7:30 to 3:00, supposedly allowing her to get over to the school and pick up her kids daily. That means she shows up around 8:15 and usually slides out of here around 2:35.

In the meantime, of course, I'm still arriving around 7:30, leaving around 5:15, and spending a lot of the intervening hours blogging or reading news sites or e-mail, so I should just shut up, right?

Someone who loves me sent me the URL for the Naked French Dude in this month's French Vogue. Yum. And, let me add, YUM!

What else? A friend wrote to diss me because she's trying to write a sex scene and presumably yesterday's sex-related entry made her self-conscious.

First, who listens to me? Not even me, okay? Second, there's nothing wrong with the way she writes. Third, was I demanding anything that difficult anyhow? No. It's not as though she's the type to put a character in a frilly apron and have him sprout a vagina next to his navel, so why the worry?

Hmph. Nothing is my fault.

It's supposed to snow this evening. Mental note: Stop on the way home and put about 20 pounds of air in the front two tires, both of which appear to be losing their will to roll.

I hate things like that. I hate maintaining my car and all of that stuff. I just want to sail through life free of any responsibility that doesn't amuse me. Is that so much to ask?

Don't answer. Leave my little fantasy world intact for a few more precious moments.

Hmmm... There will be a small pause while I think of something profound to say.

During the interval, let me mention that I had a very weird dream the other night. Weird because (a) I remembered at least part of it when I woke up, (b) No one was trying to kill me and I wasn't even the center of attention, and (c) it included a Famous Person (Rob Lowe) when I never dream about Real People.

Mostly, he was naked, which I just thought I'd throw in there to get your attention. We were attending a conference on why he wasn't able to get better roles. He stripped off his clothes and stood up to show us all what he looked like, demanding to know what he was supposed to do about being so gorgeous.

The weirdest thing about the dream is that Rob Lowe isn't really my type and since he shed that Bad Boy Brat Pack image, I haven't really thought about him physically. Of course, that might explain why I dreamed about him naked but that he didn't look that good naked, mightn't it?

Just my luck. I finally get a nekkid man in my dreams and he's not even attractive.

I downloaded some code to allow me to add comments to a blog but I didn't even understand the intructions for how to save the files to my computer, so I'm not doing it.

I'm still waiting for a profound thought.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:29 PM

Thursday, October 17, 2002
Small thoughts

Hmph. The Chipmunk is getting on my nerves this week. Fortunately for me, Alvin is getting as annoyed as I am over the Chipmunk's determination to keep control of the top level contacts for each of our clients. I can do the job I was hired for. If they'd just let me, I could prove it.

Darrell and The Other Brother Darrell are as boring as ever. In the four months I've spent here, I think Darrell, who is my counterpart in one of the sister companies sharing this office space, has voluntarily spoken to me three times. I'm not sure what his problem is. The Other Brother Darrell, our IT guy, speaks to me unexpectedly from time to time but rarely says anything of interest. They're so boring I don't know why I bothered to mention them.

Alvin's out right now, having lunch with The Terminator, the friend (really) who got me this job and who used to be my boss when I worked somewhere else. So, anyhow, I'm alone so I'm blogging, even though I still don't have anything to say.

I did manage to come up with a handful of boring possibilities for my "100 facts about me" list.

1. I started writing my first novel when I was nine and had twelve chapters of The Pop Bottle Mystery completed when my manuscript was lost during our move to a new house. I didn't write again for 30 years, but I don't think it was cause and effect.

2. When I was a toddler, I ate an entire bottle of orange-flavored baby aspirin and had to have my stomach pumped.

3. I have never stolen anything. Never shoplifted, never sneaked into a movie, never bought a garment, worn it, and returned it, never nicked office supplies from my job, nada.

4. People scare me. I firmly believe that hordes of strangers milling around aimlessly are just seconds from forming a mob and doing something incomprehensible and frightening. And also that they not-so-secretly all hate me. (I'm self-centered, but not in any way that would lead me to expect anyone to like me.)

5. I hate pickled beets, green peppers, and lima beans. Brussels sprouts come in a close second.

6. Weirdness weirds me out. I don't like public strangeness and I think the woman who got loudly orgasmic with joy at the Johnny Mathis concert should have been escorted out of the room.

7. I have never displayed musical, dance, or acting talent of any kind. I have never displayed any talent for anything, in fact. Not cooking, sewing, car repair, woodworking, crocheting, or swimming. Never for a moment have I displayed other than marginal ability at anything. Some days I think that's rather a thing to be amazed and amused by.

8. I spent a weekend traveling with a disco band once and nearly got myself lynched when I announced that I preferred white meat. I was sorry, of course, but in my own defense, it had never occurred to me to refer to any person of any color as "meat." I thought we were going out for chicken, okay?

9. I haven't balanced my checkbook in over twelve years and it hasn't materially damaged the quality of my life.

10. I've never wanted to be kidnapped by aliens.

That's probably about as much about me as anyone on this planet really wants to know.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:19 PM

Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Alvin and the Chipmunk

Today I saw my first hairy tire. I'd imagine I'm probably the only person in the world who didn't know that some jeeps have hairy tires but I assure you that the sight came as a great shock to me.

Maybe all cars can have hairy tires, I don't know. But I do know that there's a jeep in our parking lot here at the office that has a hairy spare tire.

It was actually sort of gross to look at. Like some kind of alien growth. Little hairy fronds sticking out all over.


One day last week I was sitting here peacefully surfing the web before anyone else got into the office and I heard this humongous crash from the street. I wondered what kind of accident made a sound like a truck falling over and boogied over to the window to check it out. To my amazement, I discovered that a traffic signal pole had fallen over right into the street. Fortunately no one was driving under it at the time.

Still. Things like that shouldn't be allowed to happen, should they? It frightened me.

By the next morning the ever-efficient City of Denver had securely (one hopes) rebolted the pole to its base and thus ends another pointless anecdote.

I also saw someone wandering down the street with a sleeping bag. No backpack or anything. Just a sleeping bag that had a convenient carrying handle. I'd have stopped and asked her why such a nicely dressed woman was carrying a brown sleeping bag down the street but it seemed a little intrusive. Also I know that whatever the real reason was, it would have been much less than the ten or fifteen reasons I came up with for why a polished, professional looking woman would want to carry a brown, nylon sleeping bag at all times.

For instance, it should surprise no one to hear that, Cold War relic than I am, I instantly decided she was smuggling some kind of delicate instrumentation up to the suite of the Kindly But Mysterious Russian Tenants.

You'll be relieved to hear that Pointless Anecdote #2 is now over.

Alvin and the Chipmunk are the guys I work with. So far, there are only three of us in the company and the Chipmunk lives in another state.

Alvin and the Chipmunk were on the road for most of last week, Alvin is gone from today until the end of this week, and if I have anything to say about it, they're going to spend most of the next three weeks on the road as well.

No, I don't dislike them, but after two months of pressure, I've finally gotten a little momentum going on our crucial pilot project and I don't intend to let it all slip away just because the two of them think they're entitled to lives or something. No matter what Alvin says I remain convinced that his children won't actually forget what he looks like in four short weeks.

Let's face it, when they hired me, they said they needed someone to take charge and make sure the things that need to be done got done. They hired me because the person who referred me to them said I was pushy.

A certain family member with whom I shared that bit of information fell off of her chair laughing. In spite of possibly seeming a bit cranky when I write on-line, I'm not actually known (to my family) as a person with a backbone. Or, you know, any kind of firmness of personality. (Fandom seems to bring out a part of my personality I never even knew existed. But that's a different topic.)

When these guys hired me, sources that shall remain nameless told me that Alvin was a big pussycat and that the Chipmunk was a scatterbrain who meant well but who probably wouldn't be much use. Turns out that the Chipmunk, while a bit over committed on time, is really an excellent sales person while Alvin is usually about thirty seconds from going postal on someone. People tell you lies when they want you to come and work with them, don't they?

Alvin doesn't go postal on me, though.

I assume he doesn't realize how much of my time during the day is spent answering personal e-mail and writing blog entries or he might not be so restrained.

Anyhow, I do some work every day.

Pretty much.

I mean, I've written a marketing plan and an installation manual and a user's guide and helped design the contact management system since I started working here, not to mention getting 150% of the customers we needed for a crucial pilot project. I don't think that's too bad for nine weeks, is it?

The trouble with working for such a small company is that I can't measure my productivity against anyone else's to see if I'm goofing off an excessive amount or not.

The problem with turning into Mary Sunshine and voluntarily showing up for work at 7:15 or 7:30 in the morning is that I tend to start fading pretty badly right about now, 3:30 in the afternoon. That's when I usually start blogging.

That's a lie. I start blogging whenever something to write about occurs to me.


Alvin is pretty entertaining. Today he earnestly explained to me the different kinds of "stock options" that a company can decide to offer and explained why our company is going to go with the easier to create although potentially less profitable for the employees system.

He seemed worried that it was a deal-breaker and that I might hand in my resignation. When did I start looking so "mature" (old) that people started taking me this seriously? I don't like it.

I didn't understand a single word he said. Except that there was one crucial phrase, something about an "less of an up-front investment" or something that I've been worrying about. I mean, am I expected to pay for the privilege of working here? They're already into me for about $700 in expenses that I haven't gotten around to turning in. If they think I'm going to be able to come up with $10k or $50k or something to "buy a share" of the company, they're in for a big shock. I don't got that kind of money, okay?

I mean, I could maybe raise $5k on short notice, if I really had to. But I'm saving that power for bailing Cap'n Nasty out of jail or buying the Dockside Dame a big-screen TV or something else really important. I'm not investing my borrowing power in my own future.

That would be silly.

My actual fund of urban adventures stories is clearly limited at the moment. I've been too busy to go out for lunch most days and lunch is when I tend to have the most adventures.

Today, for instance, I spent what should have been my lunch break writing a blog. Now it's late afternoon, my enthusiasm for working has ebbed, and I'm blogging again.

I'm thinking this might be a pretty good sign that I'm goofing off too much.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:20 PM

Monday, August 19, 2002

Urban Adventures!

Sadly, today I was unable to help a Spanish-speaking woman looking for Sylvia, the girl who roams around the building all day cleaning things. Thanks to a sixth-grade Spanish course, I understood her question, although I didn't remember enough vocabulary to answer in the same language.

My French courses were much more recent. I wish she'd asked in French. I could probably remember how to say, "I don't know" in French.

When last I saw her, the SSW was attempting to ask another tenant in the building, who speaks mostly Russian, where "la muchacha" could be found. I silently wished them both the best of luck as I dove into the elevator and escaped. My Russian is limited to "nyet" and "pravda", neither of which seemed appropriate to the situation.

I have a soft spot for our Russian tenants and I swear it has nothing to do with the fact that the Mr. bears an uncanny resemblance to Jim Byrnes. Nothing at all. (It is an amazing resemblance, though. Every time I see Mr. R., I do a double-take.)

Like most of the building's tenants, their sign says nothing about what business actually takes place behind the closed Russian door so all I know about them is that all of their clients (customers? consultants? co-conspirators?) that I've seen so far have also been Russian-speaking individuals.

I'm not going to swear to the Russian thing, though. I'm not an expert on languages from that part of the world. They sound Russian.

But they're very polite, and very cheerful, and they always smile and say, 'hello' when I see them.

As I passed by their office today, there was a plastic grocery bag with two boxes of what appeared to be cereal sitting on the floor, waiting for them. That's a mystery I'll probably never solve since it would be in the worst possible taste to actually ask.

Speaking as someone who has almost been run down six times in the past six weeks for committing the sin of walking in the crosswalk when the walk signal is on, I'm starting to learn the value of common courtesy.

Pursuing my goal of trying to achieve the 10,000 steps a day that "experts" say is the average number of steps taken by a healthy adult, I'm doing a lot more walking these days.

And I'm noticing that pedestrianism is dangerous. (It is too a word.)

Me, I've never been one to roll threateningly toward some hapless foot-traveler trying to cross the street when I'm driving so I don't understand what karmic weirdness means that when I set foot on a crosswalk it's a signal for every psychopath who can't bear to wait another five seconds to reach his destination to come roaring up to my corner and curse my existence as he revs his engine.

On a brighter note, I no longer have to place my order at Starbucks. When they see me walk in the door, someone starts making a Venti Nonfat Latte and the person tending the register holds their hand out for my magic coffee card. (Yes, I got one of their cards. While it's absurd to pay in advance for coffee and let them have my money for weeks before I receive value for it, I'm actually saving a substantial amount since I was previously in the habit of dropping all of my change into the tip jar every day so I figure I'm actually saving $3.05 a week. For those in doubt, yes, if I subsequently document that I've invested this money and lost it and try to claim the loss on my income tax forms, that is the kind of accounting that leads to things like the Enron debacle. Let no one say I can't be taught.)

I haven't actually decided yet what to do with my savings. Maybe I'll buy some coffee.

Other than these minor items, the Urban Experience has been sadly lacking in adventure in the past couple of weeks. I'm growing used to the sound of sirens passing the building several times a day, I'm not even trying to get blasé about the gorgeous view of the Front Range outside my window, I've been at this job for long enough that people are no longer being artificially nice to me (I kind of miss that), and I'm even starting to understand what's going on.


Why didn't anyone tell me that Alfred Kinsey was a "bisexual, pornography-addicted, sado-masochistic, anti-Christian sexual revolutionary"? No one ever tells me anything.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, July 19, 2002
Walkin' Toward the Light

Stairs. I’m thinking of my butt, okay? I’ve never in my life spent this much time thinking about that portion of my anatomy. I wonder how long I have to keep this up before my ass looks like Melanie Griffith’s?

This morning I faced my first round of mockery from a stranger.

A woman waiting to ride the elevator down from the third floor (the nerve!) took one look at me and started laughing. “That’s good,” she said. “Smoke a cigarette and then walk up the stairs.”

“Hey, at least I’m making the effort,” I responded with something less than Wildean wit, hoping that she’d get the point, walk down the stairs herself, and not incidentally leave the next available elevator to me.

She took the next elevator down and wished me luck as the doors closed. Lazy cow. She should think of her butt. It needed thinking about, I assure you.

Yes, I’m a cootie-infested, nicotine-addicted, civilization-ruining, social pariah. I’m a smoker.

Stand back, everyone! Breathing air within ten feet of me has been proven to contaminate ground-water and speed up global warming.

Get off my back, okay? I don’t approve of smoking and I think that when the Federal Government really agrees with me and stops subsidizing tobacco growers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year and the price of a pack of cigarettes goes to $10, we’ll see a significant drop in the numbers of new smokers each year. And I’ll be first in line to cheer.

In the meantime, I don’t abuse animals, I believe in revenge-motivated executions of people who abuse children, I conserve water, I think twice before using disposable paper products or toxic-waste cleaning products, I drive a compact, gas-efficient car and I’ve done the one thing that proves, more than anything else, that I care about the future of our planet.

I’ve elected not to reproduce.

From that first soiled, disposable diaper to the last plastic trash bag filled with used Depends, there’s nothing on this planet that’s as detrimental to the ecosystem as a human being and when I leave this vale of tears, I’ll be leaving behind no direct descendants to carry on my wasteful, rain-forest destroying consumerism.

So what if a few cigarette butts make it into landfills as I make my way toward the inevitable white light? (Or, in my case, probably something a bit warmer.)

I’m not actually in a bad mood today.

It’s just that my butt and I don’t appreciate having our efforts toward self-improvement being mocked by a woman wearing tight, white shorts and pink underwear, okay?

I did not want to know that that woman preferred the “hip-hugger” style over the trendier “thong” or the more conservative “brief” and yet the image lingers in my brain.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Uban Life and Crappy Writing

Not that the two of those have anything in common, but I'm unaware of a rule that says that you can only babble aimlessly about one topic at a time and if such a rule exists, you'd be doing me a favor by not mentioning it to me and further eroding the quality of my life, already deeply pitted with the despair of fighting the Urban Experience.

Working downtown. Huh.

I'm learning why people loathe commuting. This is my first real experience with fighting any significant traffic on the way to and from work. Going in isn't bad, but the trip home is starting to be a real problem.

It's not the traffic volume. I can deal with that. It's the Geezer Factor. The most convenient road I can take home seems to be Geezer Central at rush hour. I'm constantly stuck behind some gray-headed old git who jams their brakes desperately every time someone within a block of them signals a lane change.

I almost rear-ended one idiot tonight. Every time I tried to slow down to let him get a bit ahead of me (so I could watch what he was going to do next), he'd grind to a halt and wave some jaywalker across the road.

I'm just convinced that encouraging people to try and cross a street on foot where the traffic is habitually going 50 MPH is not doing the pedestrian a favor.

Maybe that's his plan or something, I don't know. Maybe one day, some unsuspecting pedestrian is going to step out in front of that nice old man and wind up as a road kill pancake.

I'd better find a different road.

Continuing my quest for Good Health, I'm still walking over to Starbucks every morning around 8:30 or so and carefully ordering a NON-fat Venti Latte. (Like I care about the milk, as long as shots of espresso are in there.) Still, every fatty little calorie saved is another spoonful of ice cream in the evening, right?

Anyhow, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, someone mentioned to me that the latest nutrition study has proclaimed that the new Miracle Food is milk. Apparently there are a lot of complex and wonderful things happening in that foamy white liquid and people who include a virtuous amount of milk in their diets lose more weight than the people who avoid milk as though the fat content will bring on the apocalypse or something.

Actually I think it was milk and cheeses, but I'm losing interest in the topic now.

I'm also climbing stairs. Every day I face those stairs about ten times, mumble, "think of your butt" and climb three floors before I give up and let myself take the elevator the rest of the way up.

It's my goal to be eventually walking all six flights (think of your butt!) but some kind person told me the best way is to start with a couple of floors (I chose three because I'm a chronic overachiever. No. Really. Okay, because I feel stupid climbing one floor.) and walking those for three weeks, then adding another floor and walking those for three weeks, etc. It's a good plan but I'm already picturing how stupid I'm going to feel for the three weeks that I'm climbing to the fifth floor and taking the elevator up the last floor.

Although based on the number of people I've encountered riding the elevator up or down one floor, I suspect no one but me will notice or care.

My butt had better appreciate this.

The Karpenters! I saw the Kilted Karpenters again. I never see fewer than three of them at a time. I wonder if that's because they don't like to eat lunch alone, or because they're afraid to wander around in public that way alone?

They shouldn't be afraid. They look pretty darned good, actually.

Nice butts. I mean, as much as you can tell that sort of thing when the area in question is covered with red plaid.

When I'm president, there's going to be a law banning white spandex pants. That's all I'm saying on that subject.

Cap'n Nasty? Are you listening? I checked out Mostly it was pretty darned funny, but I'm not sure how much reliance I can place on a "news-gathering site" that actually quotes The Onion.

Still, I'm sure to love any site that links to a news story where the description reads:

"Three men try to rob bank, get no money. Escape in stolen Corvette, car blows up."

I'm going to remember that one the next time I think I'm having a bad day. For anyone concerned, the would-be robbers weren't in the car when it exploded. And they didn't get any money from the bank because they lost their nerve before they got to the cashier's window.

Guys. Seriously. I'd be thinking career change right about now.

I'm should be worried about this one:

Killer/rapist to be thrown of cliff in a sack. Unlikely to be a repeat offender

But the description is too darned funny.

It's time for the crappy writing portion of our evening but it's late and I'm tired.

Maybe next time.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 3, 2002
Don't Let The Tap

I continue to enjoy the benefits of urban life. Today at lunch I saw a man wearing a bright yellow signboard that said:


It's a drought.
Do something.

Sponsored by: The Denver Water Board

It took me hours to make the, "hey, guys, conserve water so the pools will be open this summer and you can stare at women in bikinis" connection.

It would appear that women conserving water isn't an issue or something. Hmph.

Last night I bought a new flavor of ice cream. I love finding a delicious new flavor of ice cream. Last time it was Godiva Belgian Dark Cocolate. This time I'm trying Ben & Jerry's Fudge Central. Half vanilla ice cream, half chocolate ice cream, both studded with fudge chips, and down the center of the tub is a "core" of chocolate truffle fudge.

Life is good.

Other than that, I guess I have nothing to report.

Oh, yeah. I saw a VW bus painted with red-white-and-blue stripes, and the blue stripes had stars in them.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 29, 2002
Heigh Ho! It's off

It's off to work I go.

Yep, after long months of unemployment I've finally suckered some hapless fool info offering me gainful employment for, as usual, more money than even my mother thinks I'm worth.

It's not that my mother isn't fond of me you understand. I guess it's just that after you've raised a child who spent the first twenty years or more of her life wandering around aimlessly, never quite connecting with what was happening around her, it comes as a shock to discover that employers are willing to offer fairly generous salaries for her to come whatever it is that she does. My mother isn't quite certain what it is that I do. I think she was happier when I was a secretary. The money was lousy, but my mother understood what a secretary was.

In any case, this is not about my mother. It's all about me, me, me and the fact that I'm no longer swelling the ranks of the unemployed. (Any additional unemployment benefits originally earmarked for me can now be redirected to some hapless WorldCom victim. 17,000 employees, all headed for the unemployment line in a few days. It's sad.)

I don't usually have this much trouble staying on topic when the topic is me.

Anyhow, after four full days of gainful employment, I've already learned a few important facts.

#1 - Downtown Denver Is A Lot More Fun Than The Suburbs. In fifteen years of working in the suburbs, not one stoned-out homeless person ever hit me up for a quarter to take a bus ride. On my fourth day of downtown employment I finally had this first-in-a-lifetime experience. Bums, hobos, and potential criminals abound on our street corner. It's just so urban, you know? I was thrilled.

But I didn't give him a quarter. I'm not that dumb. (Not any more, anyhow. Remind me someday to tell you about the gypsy cab in Los Angeles.)

#2 - Downtown Denver Is A Lot More Fun Than The Suburbs. On my third day of employment I was treated (while at lunch) to the sight of not one, not two, but three charming young men attired in gray tee-shirts and tasteful red and gray plaid kilts. When I got my eyes up that far, the back of one shirt explained that I was seeing Karpenters In Kilts.

I've been racking my brain for two days and haven't come up with any karpentry projects that need done in my apartment but I'll keep thinking.

#3 - DD Is A LMF Than The Suburbs - There's a coffee shop across the street from my office. The charm lies in the fact that everyone in the office seems to take it for granted that I should want to wander out of the office once or twice a day in search of a fresh latte.

#4 - DDIALMFTTS - For years I've worked in outlying areas where the closest lunch spot was a choice of two or three overcrowded restaurants located three or four miles away down an overcrowded street. Now in a one-block radius, I have two fast-food Mexican restaurants, one fast-food Japanese, a Noodle Bowl, a Subway, A burger King, and no doubt several others I have yet to discover. There's a rumor of a bagel shop close by that I need to track down, too.

#5 - DDIALMFTTS - So far, I've found two decent ways to commute home. One forces me to drive past my favorite bookstore. The other forces me to drive past my favorite used-book store. Life is good.

#6 - DDIALMFTTS - Forget what you hear about the high cost of parking. My new position comes with free, covered parking. I'll be loving that next winter. My desk also sits next to a window that offers an amazing view of the Front Range.

What? The job? What job? With all of these benefits, what does the job actually matter?

Posted by AnneZook at 05:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)