Monday, June 8, 2015
What'cha doin'?

I should post more often. Either nothing's happening and I have nothing to say or so much is going on that I wouldn't know where to start!

Also, asking y'all what you're up to is the only way I can get most of you to drop me a comment or an email and tell me what's new in your lives. :)

Me? Diet-wise, I'm now down 7 pounds with another eight to go to reach my goal. For reasons that I'll go into below, I plateaued for the entire month of April and most of May--neither losing nor gaining, but I'm making progress again.

This is good. At some point I'll have to travel again and it will be useful if I fit into more of my wardrobe than my shorts and a handful of tee-shirts.

(Okay, no, I hadn't gained that much weight. But enough. Too much.)

So, what happened to that resolution to blog more regularly, you ask?

Well, work became--insane. Entirely insane.

After what I posted at the end of March, The Big Crunch seemed to explode in size and complexity every other week.

After a desperate attempt to regain the control I lost with the client's 80,000 oh-so-NOT-helpful edits, I turned to another of Mother's Little Helpers and offered to exchange coin of the realm for an automated script that would take at least some of the pressure off. He and I worked together for most of April to get the functionality we wanted in place but once it was--let me tell you, I am now a FAN of automation.

NewBroom's account continued to pull a modest amount of traffic but it took six weeks of begging before I could get feedback on what kind of results we were producing. This slowed down optimization--without data on results, you can't really optimize--but I think I have the client convinced to give it all just a bit more time to produce.

The Laddies continues along--producing very little, slowly. They may need to be fired--or at least convinced to move elsewhere. Their market is not my area of expertise and I don't think I can really help them.

The March & April stress from the attempt to improve things for both the NewBroom and The Laddies, along with the turmoil in The Big Crunch landed on my brain like a boatload of bricks at the end of April. I basically just shut down for three or four weeks.

I've never had quite such a thorough meltdown before--at least, not one that wasn't related to an undiscovered need for medication. (That is, not since I had a bout of panic attacks and was diagnosed with a low thyroid hormone condition. About 10 years ago, now.)

In May, I worked the bare minimum to keep most of the accounts running, virtually ignored The Big Crunch, and spent a lot of what should have been "work hours" in reading, walking, and playing video games.

I don't regret it a bit. By the end of May, when it became necessary to do month-end reporting and when Louie Louie came back to me with a full list of additional changes & expansions The Big Crunch had just requested, I was rested, refreshed, and ready to go!

So, you know. That's what I've been doing for the last 60 days. Completing a slide into complete exhaustion and then resting up for the climb back out of the pit.

I'm surprised, me, being me, that I had the self-awareness and good sense to take that kind of break.

On the other hand, my brain's complete refusal to engage in any activity more stressful than turning the page of a book may not, strictly speaking, be counted as "self-aware" behavior. Regardless, life is good now. I'm taking time off (no longer working weekends), getting out of the house several times a week, still walking for health and enjoyment, and determined to avoid that particular pitfall in the future.

Hobbies!

I'm on a diet, which precludes most of my planned culinary experiments. Also, the weather is warming up and I don't have a lot of appetite in the summer. I go for soups or salads in the hot months.

I'm still knitting and crocheting. Not so much at the moment, since these are more autumn/winter activities as well, but I'm working on one gorgeous dark green scarf that I do want to finish, so it's available to me this fall, when the weather starts to turn.

I've done a bit of writing. Nothing spectacular, just dabbling with a couple of ideas, but it's nice to feel that old creative urge reawakening.

I haven't gotten around to picking up my drawing and sketching tools again. The idea occurs to me more and more often these days, though, so it may just be a matter of time, especially with my new determination to balance between working and "having a life."

(Look at me now! It's "work time" but here I am, writing a personal blog.)

The R.C. and I continue to dabble in painting. We took another oil painting class this past winter, producing reasonably acceptable results.

(We, or at least I don't pretend to aspire to actual Artist status. "Not entirely embarrassing for an untalented, untrained amateur" is the most I hope for--the goal I'm shooting for.)

Although oils are easier to work in (easier blending, slower drying time, etc.), they're also a lot more toxic. You have to gather up all paint-related waste, including used paint thinner, and have it disposed of via hazardous waste procedures. Only work in a well-ventilated area even wear protective gear if you really want to be safe. These are not really restrictions I'm looking for in a hobby, okay?

So, for home use, instead of oils, we decided to try acrylics.

There are, of course, significant differences, the main one being that acrylics dry so quickly that it's difficult to paint faster than your paints can dry out. There are products on the market designed to alleviate this issue and we're testing some of them. The R.C. is doing better with the products than I am, but then she's always been a procedural person and a rule-follower.

That snark aside (she's also producing much better results than I am, which is the source of my aggro), I get involved in what I'm trying to do and basically just forget to use the products. For the record, they don't do you a lot of good when they're still in the bottle. Brain, brain, what happened to my brain?

In the meantime, we've each completed a couple of canvases and I invite the bored, the masochistic, and the morbidly curious among you to go ahead and click the link to see my own results.

For the rest of you, the ones who are going to stop reading here, post a comment or drop me an email and let me know what's up in your lives!

And I promise I'll try to blog more regularly.

Continue reading "What'cha doin'?"
Posted by AnneZook at 01:05 PM | Comments (2)



Monday, March 30, 2015
Picking Up the Pieces

Last week, my brain exploded all over everywhere and now I'm trying to put myself back together.

What caused this (characteristically melodramatic) behavior, you ask?

The discovery that the My Largest Account client (hereinafter referred to as The Big Crunch), the one who decided, in mid-March, to start taking their advertising seriously, had actually gone into their account and made something like 80,000 changes (seriously--no exaggeration) in three days.

Naturally, Louie Louie, who owns the client, was offline and out of touch last week. (What's up with that? These days, even when we travel, most of us are still checking our email multiple times a day.)

I clenched my fists after the first 40k changes and told myself that I could wait for Louie Louie to be back online to deal with it but then I had a little meltdown after the second 40k changes. There's a function that allows me to "roll back" certain kinds of changes in accounts and I took advantage of it.

Then I sent Louie Louie an email saying he could fire me if the client didn't like it but that I simply hadn't been able to sit and watch the oncoming train wreck without trying to do something to prevent it.

Blah, blah, blah, exchange of emails, he talked to the client, I am not fired, it's okay that I undid their edits.

Now I have to figure out how to undo their damage.

Before the client "helped," we were seeing 30% - 40% conversion rates (I know that means nothing to you but trust me, it's impressive) with an average cost of $10, well below the client's desired cap. In one day, that dropped to an 18% conversion rate for an average cost of over $40. Rolling back the changes got the conversion cost back down to just over $22 but the rate hasn't recovered yet. I have my fingers crossed for things to improve today.

In the meantime, I need to start putting together a massive spreadsheet to manage certain aspects of the 50+ campaigns, something that will help me keep track of my individual goals for each of the 1,200+ areas where the client recently set individual goals. It needs to be something I can use on an ongoing basis--which makes the problem tricky and interesting.

Anyhow. I know you don't really care, but that's where my brain has been. I discovered it right after I'd blogged last week and it took me this long to calm down enough about it to discuss it.

Previously, on Coffee Talk

Diet: Didn't lose any weight last week. Unsurprising. Holding steady at having lost 4-1/2 or 5 pounds. Another 10 to go. (Denver's "winter" weather is helping this year. It's warm and sunny every day, making it easier and more enjoyable to exercise.)

New-ish clients: Both new-ish initiatives (NewBroom and The Laddies) seem to have, so to speak, gotten their feet under them, and are getting traction. Although results remain unimpressive, the accounts are beginning to drive at least some traffic to the clients' websites. It's a start.

NewBroom is an interesting initiative. It's a test case where, if I can figure out how to produce success, we might be able to roll this initiative out to another 20 accounts or so in the near future.

The size and "shape" of the industry reminds me of my early days with the Argonuts, which is kind of fun. I'm interested enough in it to have offered to waive my (already very low) fee for a couple of months while I work with the account to figure out how to get results.

(I know, I know. I'm supposed to be in this as a business and not merely to amuse myself.)

The Laddies is just a basic, stand-alone account. It wasn't that interesting until it started so slowly. That lured me in and now I'm determined to beat it into shape.

New clients: Louie Louie hasn't yet heard back from the medium-large new client he's talking to, so I don't know if that one's going to fly or not.

~*~*~*~*~

Yes, I do mostly think about work. No one seems to believe me when I say that I am fascinated by what I do, but I am.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)



Tuesday, May 21, 2013
So, today's a loss

Yesterday, a couple of (potential) accounts I thought I'd successfully run off both came back out of the woodwork and proceeded to start adding turmoil to my life.

I thought I'd gotten rid of them. I tried again today, pointing out to one guy that my fees alone would increase his monthly financial commitment by 50%. He said okay. I hate when that happens.

I'm not good at saying, "no, I don't have time." Must practice that.

Today there's a littleman roaming around this place, regrouting showers and putting in a new air conditioner. In order to give him space to take out the old a/c and put in the new (well, clearly it's used but it also looks 20 years "newer" than the one we have) one, I had to unload a bookcase which naturally led to cleaning the woodwork and then I had to move the bookcase which naturally led to cleaning the baseboard and wall behind it and what with one thing and another, I found myself dusting most of the apartment walls, up by the ceiling, and cleaning half my bathroom.

Some days I really miss going to an office.

Correction. The littleman started these things. He did most of the grouting and there's a big wall unit air conditioner sitting on a jack-thing in the middle of the living room floor. He left for lunch over an hour and a half ago, so whether or not these two relatively simply tasks will actually get completed today is anyone's guess.

Louie Louie has come up with three new clients in the last couple of months, all noticeably larger accounts than any he's brought me before. I've been neck-deep in those, which is why the long blog-silence. All rather more complicated than anything I've worked on before, too, so I've been enjoying myself.

Vela came up with a new account but it doesn't seem to be closing. I'm fine with that--it was a national initiative that I was pretty excited about until I realized that it was being funded at about 10% of what it needed. I just don't have time for losers any more.

Half of the one account I work on for her already has been shut down. (And not before time. I was on the verge of telling them to find someone else to aggravate.)

I wish her the best, but Vela is--well, Gidget and I are not happy with her. Turns out that Vela's emailing the client on the side blaming Gidget and I for the failure of the advertising. (In direct contradiction of what I've been saying for the last year, which is that their budget is pathetic and their website inadequate.) Vela apparently told the client she was working on "reorganizing the team" and that Gidget and I would probably not be a part of it in the future. I'm pleased.

She also contacted an outside agency to get them to bid on the account. The outside agency told her they wouldn't touch it for the budget the client was willing to invest. Did Vela turn back to the client and tell them she had independent confirmation of what I'd been saying? She did not.

I don't know why not. Mostly she's just scared she's going to lose the account but lying and hiding stuff is not a good long-term strategy for success, you know? If she'd done her job properly in the beginning--set reasonable boundaries and expectations with the client and stuck to them--she wouldn't be having half these problems now.

Gidget's listed her house for sale. Her husband wants to move to the godforsaken wilds of the Lone Star state (so glad to be single). So he can kill things, I think. (He's a big hunting person. He fancies himself as some kind of frontiersman or something.) (He's a nice enough guy, but I can't warm to anyone whose idea of a good time involves bloodshed.)

All of my friends are moving to different states. This makes me sad. (And bewildered. Who leaves Colorado?)

That, in a nutshell, is my life today.

_____________________


Note to the tornado alley inhabitants. Please don't blow away.


Posted by AnneZook at 01:32 PM | Comments (2)



Monday, November 14, 2011
Coming Down To The Wire

Tomorrow!

"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow. You're only a day a-way."

I've never seen the musical, but that snippet of that song has been singing in my head all day.

So, what's been happening?

#1 - The announcement to the 'Nuts afield actually went out Friday afternoon. It went to a small, selected set of email addresses which struck me as odd. (For instance, it wasn't sent to my co-workers in this this office.)

It contained no reference, no matter how implicit, to suggest that any of the 'Nuts would be welcome if they wanted to contact me about management.

#2 - Nevertheless, I heard back from one 'Nut almost immediately with a request to contact him on his personal email account. Who it was surprised me--not one of the ones I'd expected.

I haven't contacted him yet--without at least tacit approval from the Corral, I'm not really certain what to say to the guy. Back when it was the Argonuts in charge, we didn't allow people to go off the reservation (dated, racist metaphor--sorry) in all directions whenever the mood struck them. The Corral seems to be more laissez-faire about the whole thing but I don't really know for sure.

#3 - Sent proposals to two agencies this morning. Anywhere from two to six new accounts.

Without any additional accounts, I now have my expenses covered and, thanks to underbidding the first five accounts*, am getting close to my maximum workload.

I don't know that I'm happy about this. I mean, I haven't even started being self-employed yet.

Where are the months of nail-biting and account juggling to keep the bills paid? Where are the hours spent staring longingly at a phone you need to ring with an offer of new business? Where are the days spent bonding with other entrepreneurs who are facing similar challenges? Where's the struggle?

Me, being me, I look at this and suspect I must be doing it wrong.

I was looking forward to a bit of leisure each day. Time to clean the kitchen, scrub the bathroom floor, do a load of laundry every day or two, keep up with the dusting, etc.

A bit of exercise in between massive bouts of analysis. Time to read the latest articles, view the videos, keep up with developments in the field, chat with the experts. That sort of thing.

Oh, well. I remind myself that, if nothing else, I should at least be getting my weekends back. I can dink around then.




__________________

* I'm not going freelance to get rich. I never wanted to be rich. I want to get up every day and look forward to work. I want to find my job interesting and challenging. And, yes, I want to make enough money to cover the bills with a bit left over for entertainment and amusement.

"Rich" is overrated. Rich people have nothing to do all day. Human beings need purpose in their lives.


Posted by AnneZook at 03:59 PM | Comments (3)



Friday, November 4, 2011
Where were we? Thinking.

When last we talked, I was moaning about--well, all the usual stuff plus the Being Old thing.

So. Quick update.

#1 - Spoke to Gidget about her inexplicable refusal to work w/my clients. All a failure in communication. She's on board.

#2 - On Tuesday, November 1, I handed in my resignation. My last day at the office will be Tuesday, November 15. HOOray?

#3 - The agency I was hoping to hear from did contact me--and offered me three accounts. So, that's okay.

#4 - AARPer information acquired--not yet submitted. I'm having a little trouble getting over myself. Aged, geezer woman that I apparently am.

#5 - The only response NewerBossPeter had to my letter was to ask if I was going to be freelancing full-time and would I like them as a client. I think that was very nice of him and suggests that maybe he had a higher opinion of my skills than I thought he had. Don't you think?

Anyhow. I wrote back and explained that I already have a pretty full schedule but that I'd be willing to take up to half a dozen of the 'Nuts, for $250-$300/month each. Since I know for a fact that the Piggyback Corral is only collecting $75/month from each of the 'Nuts, I figured that wouldn't fly, but I'm not becoming self-employed so I can starve in a gutter.

I haven't heard from NBPeter since. Not a peep. I've had occasion to send him an email or two on various topics. Not a sound out of him. Dunno what he's thinking.

Another of the Corral Bosses was in town this week for a training class we're holding at the moment. He didn't say anything to me (aside from the usual hellos, I mean) until right before he left, when he pulled me aside to say "thank you" for--well, he didn't say, but the inference was sort of for the work I'd done, so I'm thinking that's where he meant to be going.

He wanted me to understand that no bridges were burned.

I dunno. You think he thought I was thinking they'd offer me $$ to stay? 'Cause I wasn't thinking that and he knows it now so if he was thinking it then, he's not thinking it now.

Anyhow.

Dealing with the flood of new clients, trying to get just enough work done to string them along for a week or two while I try to shake myself free of this place explains why I've been quiet, right?

Posted by AnneZook at 04:23 PM | Comments (1)



Wednesday, October 19, 2011
We Need To Talk

Good afternoon, Residual Readership!

How's life been treating you? No little disasters or traumas or roadblocks on your path to a happy life, I hope?

Now that we're into the holi/holy day season, with various new years, days of atonement, days of dedication (Hanukkah, right?), Thanksgivings, Christmases, etc., I wish you and all your loved ones peace and prosperity.

--Sometimes I forget these little gestures that mean so much. Remembering that people, for instance, have their own lives and priorities.--

In the category of "random fun stuff," we have Old Friendships Renewed.

A friend I haven't seen in something like 20 years contacted me last week--she was in town and wanted to meet up. We got together for dinner, I got to meet her daughter for the first time, and her daughter's fiance, and then we had some one-on-one time to catch up on old acquaintances and each other's lives.

She has some health issues for which the prognosis isn't good. Terminal, in fact, but considering they gave her 2 years about eleven years ago, she's doing remarkably well.

She was in town to see another old friend's newest grandchild, born a couple of weeks ago. (Sadly, that friend passed away last year--a heart condition.)

These things remind us to cherish our friends, past and present.

Sentimental today, aren't I?

In the category of "keeping up with Gidget," there are bits of news you couldn't possibly care less about, so I won't bore you. Suffice to say that, once again, I'm grateful to be childless.

Workwise, she lost two "bankroll" client accounts in the last month and is now grabbing at any project she can find that will pay her money--working for 1/2 or 1/4 of her normal rate.

Oddly enough, she isn't accepting the projects I offer her. I mean, they're all one-off projects but my clients pay and the work isn't that complicated.

Just yesterday, she turned down a project that would have taken her three hours and paid her $500. Why? Because she's in the middle of a 50-hour project she took on that's going to pay her $1k.

The new client I mentioned in my last post, the one she'll rake in a minimum of $1,400 on? She hasn't had a chance to get back with that client yet.

Boggles the mind.

I'm thinking--okay, I'm not sharing these clients with you if you won't follow up with them promptly, because you're not only losing the fees you would have made, you're eliminating my future client base when you blow them off.

I dunno. I'd thought of having this conversation with her when we met for lunch but her Family Crisis story was so complicated that we didn't have time to really get to business subjects.

Anyhow.

Moving on.

Me-wise client-wise, things are--busy. I've brought on one new client since last I posted. I have one more on the verge of signing.

A very good friend who passes me leads is handing my name off to another agency who has the kind of accounts I'm really interested in--the kind where if I had four or five of those, I'd be financially solid as a full time, self-employed person.

Which, of course, brings us to the employment issue. Right now, I'm teetering on the verge of a casual sort of meltdown. I have too much work for the "Saturday morning & all day Sunday" freelance schedule I've been using for the last year. I really need to add one--maybe two--evenings a week to current accounts.

Which is more hours in a single day than either I or my 5(x) year-old eyeballs are really interested in spending staring at a computer screen.

So, I'm clutching my scant supply of courage in both hands and, if this third agency contacts me and offers me even one new account, I'm going to draft up and submit and polite but firm letter of separation from the Argonuts and the Corral.

If I get hungry, I can say so and you'll send me a sandwich, right? I'm not picky--just sustenance to keep life in my wasted frame. (No mayonnaise.) (No rye bread.)

(I like multigrain bread without rye, though.)

(Something hot. I like a hot sandwich.)

As you can see, I'm not hungry yet. I had a very nice lunch today--stewed chicken and mushrooms over rice--so I don't need a sandwich yet. But I might someday.

(Seriously. No rye.)

Pursuant (so long since I had the opportunity to use my favorite word) to the onset of my more frugal lifestyle, I cancelled the preorder I'd placed for the Amazon Fire tablet. (That sounds very financially responsible and mature but the truth is, I had a 80% firm intention of cancelling the order two seconds after I placed it. The idea of a tablet interests me but I have no use for one.)

The R.C. thought we might need to let the Grinch steal Christmas but I've got a savings account and a holiday fund and anyhow, she's only asked for one very inexpensive gift. There are already too few days in a year when anyone feels like giving me a present. I'm not giving up a sure thing for anything as lame as being financially destitute.

It's been almost 24 hours and that agency hasn't contacted me yet, so this is all still pretty theoretical.


_____________

* A "bankroll" client is one of your big ones--the ones who provide enough income to give you breathing space.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:06 PM | Comments (5)



Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Dear (Whoever):

Dear Bunny:

I saw you.

I came out to stand there and enjoy a minute of warm weather and there you were, sitting six inches from the spot I was headed for. You loped a lazy step sideways, then stopped to watch me to see if I was going to give you a wide berth but I, tired of--to mix a petting zoo of metaphors--being buffaloed by brazen bunnies, kept on coming.

So, you scooted under the bush and sat there, smugly certain you were hidden from the Dangerously Tall Creature.

I could still see you. You got your head under the bush but your butt was still sticking out. If I'd have been a hawk, you'd have been a dead rabbit.

Just sayin'. You want to live to be an Old, Gray Bunny, you need to learn to tuck your butt under.

Dear Residual Readership:

I am still alive. Working a lot--first to get caught up before the stupid conference I got back to the office on Aug 30 and was instantly reburied under the avalanche of things that had accumulated while I was gone and the projects I heard myself insanely volunteering to take on during the trip.

Also, end of month reporting last week and NewerBoss Peter has me on a deadline now--I have until the end of the workday on the 2nd to get it all done. That's not normally going to be a problem but having been out the week before meant I didn't get the preliminary reports done, so it was a scramble last week. I was doing EOM reports with one hand and checking on accounts with the other.

Next week I'm out again, all week this time, so this week I'm playing catch-up-in-advance again. Already. (Schedule-wise, I'm losing 30 minutes today to get my hair done--it needs it--and two hours tomorrow morning for a mandatory "post-conference staff meeting" that needs my attendance as much as the pre-conference staff meetings did, which is to say, not at all.)

Four new accounts in the last couple of weeks--three freelance for Louie Louie and two for the Corral. Added to that workload is Webstrainer, rolling out new data views that not only give me appalling insight into what's going on but that each require about 15 minutes more management time (per client, per week), meaning that I'd have been tearing my hair out, even if I weren't leaving town again.

Still. Visiting Webstrainer should be fun. (I hope it's fun, since I'm using every minute of my accumulated vacation time on the trip.) Educational and interesting, which is more than the Corral conference promised (or delivered).

From all reports, they're going to have netbooks available for us all, too. What that means is that I might be able to travel without hauling my computer along! Only those of you who travel can understand what a luxury that would be.

There was a bunch of advance info and prep stuff they wanted--none of which I got around to doing. I feel badly about that but I learned today that the 25 accounts I handle for the Corral are, in the estimate of a bunch of agency managers, the maximum they think any one person can manage with any degree of success--so if you add the half-dozen freelance accounts to those--well, I'm not just whiny, I'm busy.

I had so many things to blog--random adventures, boring thoughts, passing complaints, even occasional triumphs. Sigh.

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



Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Wherein My Head Is Exploding

Too much going on!

That new client meeting with Vela tomorrow at 11 (Seriously. Must do the prep work for that this evening.) and then Louie Louie has yet another new client he wants to talk about so I scheduled that call for tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow's gonna be a day I need to work from home--I can start early and work late to make up the time.*

Another account I'm handing for Louie Louie goes live later this week, and let us all hope it performs better than the one I'm already handling for him. (Performance metrics are fine--it just doesn't produce sales.)

Gidget and I met with OldBoss Anais Friday morning so she could explain that that account is a gross disappointment. I agree--but at the moment I simply don't have the brain cells needed to do the kind of analysis needed to figure out the problem.

I've got the coming weekend earmarked, though. No play, no going out running around doing random things. The entire weekend has to be spent on freelance stuff. Between performance diagnosis for my two under-performing freelance accounts and monitoring performance on the one going live the end of this week, and whatever work comes out of the Vela meeting tomorrow--I just don't have time for a day off.

Corral-wise, things are equally as active.

Remember that training session I was going to produce some stuff for that I thought was taking place in early September? It's happening on August 1. Better put something together.

The presentation for the Corral conference? Is going better, now that I've stepped back, stepped back, and stepped back, to focus on preschool-level information. I'm kind of stuck at the moment but I'm sure something will come through my brain eventually.

The Corral is corralling yet another group in a week or so. Although it ain't got nothing to do with me, I keep getting dragged into 'information' sessions to tell me all about it. I don't care. I've spent 3-1/2 years with the Argonuts without finding a need to know anything about them so I think I can get along fine without a lot of extraneous information about people whose lives will never affect mine.

Webstrainer is driving me nutso. Not only are they changing things again (still) every two seconds, but they're providing more insight and details around performance--details that have shown a lot of us that things are not as good as we'd thought.

Also, they're very needy. I like being one of Mother's Little Helpers--it's fun to be recognized and have people think I'm smarter than I am--but not at the expense of my sanity. It's a volunteer gig--I can't commit to spending X numbers of hours a week on it. Some weeks I have time for XX hours and others I have time for 1/3X or less.

Also, I can't do a lot of calls and meetings and I certainly don't have time to check out and become expert on ten other Webstrainer programs. I have a job, people. Two jobs, in fact. If Webstrainer would like for formalize our relationship with some $$, I'll give up one of my current jobs and work for them. Otherwise, they get what part of me is leftover after my other commitments are met.

And then a microvolunteer site I post to occasionally is nagging me to be more involved and do more. I visit a couple of those from time to time. It's all an industry name-recognition thing for me, of course but I'm helping folks so I figure it's a fair trade. I like spouting off so it's not a trial but, again, I don't appreciate being nagged to give them more time than I can actually spare.

Professionally, I belong to three or four forums, have three 'professional' social networks to maintain, and a list of about 25 websites that offer analysis and insight and that I should be reading at least once a week, if not more often.

And then there's my actual life, such as it is. I haven't touched my quantum physics course in three weeks, I spent a scant 10 minutes crocheting and knitting one evening so I'm behind on those projects, I'd promised myself I was going to get back to sketching practice--that was six months ago and I haven't touched a pencil yet.

Fortunately I have very few friends, at least locally, so I'm not often tempted to spend time in that arena. *sigh*

I don't know how people who have, you know, family--kids and stuff--manage to get through it all. All I have is me and keeping my life under control is almost more than I can handle sometimes.**

I have a lot of life but not enough time to live it in.


________________________________

* I need one, or maybe two, work from home days anyhow. I need to run some massive reports and study the resulting 25k-line Excel spreadsheets in minute detail.

Those changes I mentioned that Webstrainer has made--I need to understand what they mean.

** Okay, if I didn't require 3-4 hours a day for reading, I could get through a lot more, but reading is what makes life worth living and I ain't giving it up.

Maybe I go to bed too early?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:00 AM | Comments (4)



Monday, March 7, 2011
Done at noon

It's precisely 12:00 and I think I'm done working for the day.

I mean, I say, "working" even though what I spend most of my days doing any more is barely related to the actual work I'm supposedly paid to do. I spend my time answering lunatic questions from Webstrainer or Corral people or 'Nuts who know we got bought but who don't 'know' the new people and prefer to keep working with this office--even if there's no one left here who can answer their questions.

Also, lunatic questions from Louie Louie. I'm still regretting my decision to expand my freelancing. This morning, a scant three days after our first project together went live, he was in my email asking what I thought and what it all means. It was my expectation that working with an experienced account manager would save me from that kind of idiot inquiry.

Also, Gidget, whose questions were sensible but gave me a raging case of guilt over things not yet accomplished. She wrote me a lot of new ads and then I realized I had to change a lot of stuff in them (JasonWife's account) and I just couldn't face the mental strain yesterday so I didn't do any of it.

I did a lot less work this weekend than I should have. I tried but I was just too tired and didn't have enough functioning brain cells. (You don't have to be a rocket scientist to do what I do, but it's not something that can be done mechanically. A certain amount of thought is required.)

Even now, I'm not entirely sure how coherent this entry has been so far. I know it's been whiny.

Friday's 'Nutcase, the one with problems telling time, is back in everyone's face today. The network is up and I've been able to confirm that, as I suspected, the phone number he didn't recognize was a routing number. Now NewerBoss Peter is jumping through hoops and writing a dissertation to explain this to the 'Nutcase.

NewerBoss Peter is also bothering me today--he called to discuss how needy and high-maintenance the 'Nuts are. If I felt better, I'd have pointed out that when I warned him these people were incredibly high-maintenance a week ago, he scoffed at me dismissively and said it was okay because they're all high-performance. Clearly today--not so much with the okay.

Also if I felt better I'd warn him against the dissertation. The 'Nutcase won't read it and even if he did, he wouldn't understand it. Just tell the guy it's a routing number we use to get inquiries to the right location--that's what it is, after all. (On second thought, I did email and suggest bypassing the long form explanation in favor of the simpler and entirely accurate one.)

I don't feel really passionate about any of this, mind you. Passion takes more energy than I have at my disposal. I'm just finding my overall exhaustion increases slightly every time something new comes up.

I really need a working thermometer. I think I'm still running a fever.

Also, cold, gray, snowy.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Must. Blog.

I'm happy to report that in a burst of pre-vacation enthusiasm, I got online, did the renewal for my license plates, made it to the bank to get large wads of cash, stocked up on portable carcinogens (sorry), gassed up my car, booked my transport to and from LAX, printed out my flight and hotel information*, and made the lavish decision to use a cab for airport transport in Denver.

Thanks to the same pre-vacation burst of manic energy, I have 98% of the work (freelance and otherwise) that needed to be done before I left actually done. Louie Louie's first client campaign is ready and waiting. Gidget is writing new ads for JasonWife's campaign. It would be doing a lot better if the ads I've been using hadn't been so very horrible. Bernie heard I was leaving town and a project he couldn't be bothered with last week became urgent on Monday, and it's done.

Yesterday afternoon I should have been able to check the last item--a haircut--off my list, but thanks to HairMan calling me up as I was waiting at the salon, five minutes before our appointment, to reveal that he and his auto were broken down on the side of the highway and that he needed me to come and rescue him, then drive him to a shopping mall to get his also-broken phone replaced (he was using one a passing Samaritan loaned him) and, presumably, home thereafter.

I did, in fact, go rescue him from the roadside. The tow truck arrived a couple of minutes before me--we met them at the salon, the tow truck driver (some people are so skilled) did something that fixed HairMan's phone, I politely declined to drive him the 20 miles to his home (someone doing my hair, even for the last ten years off and on, does not make them a close, personal friend), he called his next client who did make the offer, I got my bangs trimmed up out of my eyes, and was home a mere two hours after I arrived for my appointment. Still gray-haired but at least I'm not viewing the world through a thicket of hair.

I plan to spend today in a leisurely fashion. I'm waiting on one person to call up and give their credit card info to me so I can activate their campaign. Waiting on NewerBoss Peter to call me, as per the email he sent yesterday afternoon.

A significant percentage of my time today was earmarked for walking around, gloating that I'm going on vacation and everyone else here is not, but I've cancelled that. Of the short-timer Café staff, the six people retained to "transition" the work, three will be leaving for good on Monday. Under those circumstances, gloating seems out of place. I'm sorry that I'll miss their going-away lunch on Monday, though.

I was going to have another bout of guilt over it all, but it's really just the luck of the draw that I do something not easily replaceable and have consequently survived the last three rounds of layoffs. Guilt would be a waste of time. (I worked hard to learn this stuff.)

Tonight, a quick load of laundry and start packing. Tomorrow morning, toss the remainder of the what-not into the suitcase and I'm off.

Who knows? If I get really bored tomorrow, I might Twitter updates on random airport weirdnesses I see. (I'm annezo on Twitter.) Probably not - I generally read a book, but you never know.

___________________

* I am very sure of both the town and the hotel names. I checked twice.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Weeping

I need to find someone besides me who speaks my languages.

I'm sick of trying to explain proper website design elements to Bernie instead of handing him over to Gidget--but he's so invested in being an 'expert' that any suggestion he work with an actual expert gets his back up.

I'm sick of trying to explain research tools to Gidget so that she can do the upfront part of these new accounts--allowing me to pay her those fees and not incidentally freeing up hours of my time to do other things. So far, freeing up my time is more of a theory than a reality since I'm spending more time telling her how to do things than it would take me to actually do them. She is one of five, maybe six, people on the planet I'd take this much trouble over.

I'm sick of trying to explain how to insert and test web code to website programmers who should not need hand-holding. If I send them the entire code snippet and tell them where to place it and what other code they can't use, because it blocks my code, I should not have to do phone conferences with them about why the code isn't working. For what they charge, they can go figure it out.

I'm sick and tired of working with people who aren't competent.

Competence is a quality I prize highly--I struggle to reach that in my own field every day. I do this by researching, testing, thinking, and learning.

I do not do it by demanding that someone else spoon-feed me bits and pieces of information so that I don't have to bother to learn the big picture for myself.

I'll figure it out. I live for the day when I'm the one hearing this instead of the one saying it.

Also, first thing this morning I dumped a giant glass of water all over the office kitchen floor and had to mop it up. Then, when I was eating lunch, I dribbled vegetable-beef soup all over my pants. I'm two weeks past-due for a haircut and my bangs are hanging in my eyes, driving me bonkers.

So, yes, I'm crabby.

It seems to me that I'm crabby a lot these days.

I do not like to be crabby. It makes me hot and tired and I overeat. (Overeating also me hot and tired, and being hot and tired also makes me crabby. I've got a whole ouroboros of crabby going on.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)



Thursday, February 10, 2011
An Excess of Success

One of the Eastern 'Nuts has decided to bring his advertising back to the Café, a Southern 'Nut I've never had a campaign for wants to move in at the same time.*

The half-dozen or so Corral (i.e., not Café) campaigns NewerBoss Peter wants me to take over are disasters. The Corral websites are really dreadful and I'm in no way qualified to design or even suggest improvements--in my position I only know "works" from "does not work." Fixing the latter is a skill set I don't possess.

I have too many people wanting to give me freelance work, including Gidget's latest guy who has made such a mess of trying to do it himself that it brings inevitable Titanic references to mind. Also, he wants to cover half the country and is only willing to pay a nickel for the privilege.

The weather and the bad roads are interfering with things I need to get done on weekends and after work. I'm halfway into the "grace period" month for my licence plate renewal with no idea of when I'll be able to get halfway across the city to stand in line for hours before the end of the month.

I worked from home on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and got too used to it--coming back to the office computer and the laggy network here is infuriating me this morning.

I have a vacation to pay for at the end of this month, the new website for the Gidget Co has to be done (and paid for), I haven't billed any of my current freelance clients in over a month because I can't find time to write up the necessary notes I send with the invoices, etc., etc., etc.

At the same time, I have to come up with an extra $400+ a month to pay for COBRA until I'm eligible for the Corral's insurance plan.

Things just seem to be getting on top of me at the moment.

Which explains why I ate half a pizza for breakfast and am sitting here waiting on my deli sandwich lunch to be delivered and writing blog entries, instead of working.


___________________

* I'm just sayin'. I knew sending out those year-end reports was a bad idea. Random 'Nuts always clamor at the door, demanding to be invited to the party, when they see those year-end overview numbers.

_________

P.S. And! It was suggested today that if they hire someone, even just part-time, I can teach them and it will help me. I have squashed (folded, spindled, and mutilated) such a ridiculous suggestion. There is no one on the planet I dislike enough to subject them to that kind of trauma.

It was then suggested that this hypothetical person can just sit next to me and somehow absorb what they need to know.

!

And, let me add, !!

I am not a jelly roll. I do not ooze--not even for educational purposes.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)



Friday, February 4, 2011
Catching The Tide



“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)*

My own particular tide could be approaching.

Having suggested in a place or two that I might be considering to transitioning to full-time freelance work was one thing. I mean, I was just talking. I do that. It doesn't mean anything. The resulting--if not a flood tide yet, certainly a noticeable swell (I'd say 'groundswell' but I suspect some of y'all are going to be irritated enough by the archaic nautical metaphor without me mixing it with weak 20th C media jargon)--is starting to stress me out.

Bernie has one new client and another possible string of related accounts--if the two test accounts go well, there could be 20 in six months. The heretofore unmentioned Sal Of The North wants to talk to me about taking on some of her overflow. Then Louie Louie contacted me purely on the strength of liking my posts in a forum. We had a phone consultation yesterday about handling his overflow to free up his time to do related projects.

I haven't even definitely decided to do this yet and I'm already in danger of being overrun with clients. I'm looking for a hole to crawl into so I can hide for a while.**

But, Anne! I can hear you saying it. You've been saying your commitment to the Gidget Co was firm. If the clients keep on rollin' in, you can finally repay Gidget the professional debt you owe her! Why hesitate?

Because, these are clients for what I do. These are not clients for Gidget's half of the little company. While I can visualize a way to divide up what I do so that she has a significant, independent responsibility for each account, I can't make it where her passion is. In short, I can make some work for her, to justify sharing the fees, but charity isn't what she's looking for. (And I don't really play nicely with others. I pity the person forced to work alongside me.)

Also, I am scared.

All my random whining and melodramatic moaning about work aside, I've always been fairly content inside the corporate rat race where the little pellets of rat treat come along regularly. Having to go out and ensure my own supply of treats has never been my ambition.

Many people dream longingly of owning their own business and being their own boss. Having worked for many, many small companies? I know more than the average rat about what being the boss of a successful company really means and I want no part of that kind of aggravation.

And then, if I set all of these fears aside and take all of these opportunities, in six months I'm going to need to find the equivalent of another me to help with the work--and at that point I'm no longer just my own boss, I'm responsible for someone else's rat treats as well. I just don't need that kind of pressure in my life.


___________

* Say what you will about the guy--gay, straight, philanderer, plagiarist, adapter, hack--ol' Bill could turn a phrase. It's been almost 400 years since he died and he's still one of the most quotable writers in human history.


** I ate lunch at 11:30 this morning. Stress eating, yes, but since I brought turkey it wasn't a diet buster.

Since that was two hours earlier than I normally eat lunch, two hours later, when someone said they were bringing in pizza, I forked over some money and twenty minutes later I ate a pizza.

(Put that way, it's a better story than the truth, which is that I ate 1/2 of an "individual size" mini-pizza.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:14 PM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, January 25, 2011
OUT!

My time of incarceration in the Corral may be limited. I just don't know if I can navigate this particular teaching/learning curve again, okay? I just don't have the strength.

Sigh.

Today I received my first communication from BossPeter, a response to an email I sent him asking a simple do it/don't do it question. When he responded?

Strike 1 - He didn't answer or even address the question I'd asked him.

Strike 2 - He misspelled the Café's name.

Strike 3 - He displayed an appalling ignorance of even general principles of internet marketing although his job until now has included all of the i-marketing for the Corral. (And, so I'm told, he has an Actual Degree for the M-word.)

He also asked me why the Corral should continue to run ads for the Café when organic listings are all over the internet. (Is he KIDDING me?)*

(a) Because the ads are cheap and they WORK, and,
(b) Anyhow, you're not paying for them, the Argonuts Afield are paying for them, so what do you care?

I was contacted yesterday by yet another small agency looking for a good, reliable freelancer to take overflow clients. I may start accepting some of these offers.

_________________________

* NewBoss Anais is, of course, gone. CEO Jason is stuck here transitioning so I marched into his office with my IS THIS GUY KIDDING? rant. I like to think I'm making it a little easier for him to leave us. :)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:42 PM | Comments (2)



Friday, January 21, 2011
OMG

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

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

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

Me? I just sit here and do my job.

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

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



Monday, June 28, 2010
Aggravation!

The causes are varied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm really not comfortable going around smelling.

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

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

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

4:00 p.m. update

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

What prevented me from working today, you ask?

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

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

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




_____________________________

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

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



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

I am having far too much life these days.

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

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

I really don't want to think about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really don't want to think about it.

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

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

I really don't want to think about it.

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


_________________________


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up to My Ass in Alligators

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



Friday, May 14, 2010
Over It. H8er!

I'm very over this week.

Also, I'm a h8er.

I h8 software companies who understand your specs but decide something else will be easier for them, code it to suit themselves, and assume you'll accept it as a fait accompli,threatening you with massive delays and cost-overruns if you tell them to do what you told them you wanted in the first place.

I h8 consultants who carelessly advise creating 'custom reports' which 'take a lot of time but are worth it' without stopping to consider that it's just me here, I don't have a staff of people I can assign to spend a month coding custom reports to capture everything I might need someday.

That's why we use the database, you moron. If the world changes and I need something completely different, we'll have it all in the database.

Wanting us to drop the database because it means you have to consolidate data? Don't care. I spend all day, every day, consolidating, filtering, sorting, and contemplating data. Cry me a river, from your high-priced office with the administrative and software staff sitting outside your door.

I h8 people who think building glitches and gaps into a system is job security for them. "Oh, we can just do that for you when you ask is not job security. It's incompetence.

I h8 having wasted over 30 minutes of 'Nut time this morning writing a document for Bernie to explain why his client's budget running out at noon every days means they are missing most of the day's search traffic How stupid do you have to be not to understand it just from hearing the words?

I h8 realizing that I have at least eight hours of work to do for Bernie this weekend, on top of the Gidget Co client accounts I need to work on.

I h8 knowing that the as-yet unapproved campaign structure document I sent Bernie to forward to the Freethinker will probably show up in my in-box on Monday with a request to have it all ready to go by Wednesday. But with massive changes, including to that as-yet undersigned special landing page Bernie is supposed to be providing.

Yes, today I h8 both having a job and having free-lance clients.

Free-lance? I'm over working every weekend and double-checking things during the week. (I log on around 10:00 a couple of times a week and review everything quickly and, okay, it's not a big time commitment, but it's a pain--especially if I find something that needs changed.) I'm over Bernie calling me or asking me to call him twice a week to explain why their $12/day campaign isn't pulling leads for the client's $2M house. I'm over spending hours and hours of time above and beyond what I can bill writing explanations and justifications for my decisions--trying to dumb it all down enough so that people who can't figure out how to log in to their accounts can approve a complicated strategy. (I am big time tired of having to explain myself to someone who would probably have sold the blasted property by now if she had ever picked up the phone and talked to one of the leads I drove her, or even answered one of the information request leads the campaign produced.)

Job? For the last week, the only non-rainy/non-snowy hours we've had during the day have come around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon and I have been having weird and unusual urges to go out and enjoy those hours, instead of sitting here, working for a living. I don't think I want to walk as much as I just want to not be here.

Which is kind of weird, because nothing has actually happened this week. I mean, nothing Big and Bad, you know?

I'm just…over it.


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



Thursday, May 6, 2010
Oh, Bernie

Many emails today. First, the Freethinker wants right of refusal on everything I do to reorganize his campaign before it goes live. At the moment, I'm working out in my head the wording of the necessary email to Bernie. If the client demands the right to "help" build the campaign, then my billable time estimate for the project has to go from 8 hours to 16 hours. (Bottom line? If he had any idea how to do it, he wouldn't be handing his mess of a failed campaign over to me. Second-guessing what I decide to do and making me spend two hours explaining each detail to him should cost him money.)

Also? I would not have quoted 8 hours for the job if I'd known he was going to decide to abandon his search network advertising and spend his 42 cents a month on content network advertising. Back in the middle of February when I did half the research on this project, I focused on search because that's what he said he was going to want. The idea of digging through six months worth of garbage (really) in the hopes of finding some quality content sites does not attract me.

Second, Bernie's other as-yet-un(nick)named client has decided to move ahead with advertising. These are the people I attempted to talk to a couple of weeks ago--I blogged about the day when just getting oxygen was so much work that I was babbling and drooling on the phone during a client call with Bernie, right?

Anyhow, it seems he was right not to be concerned. They want to get going. Software. I've never tried to sell software, but if nothing else, a product-driven campaign will be a nice change from service-driven campaigns. I hope.

Gidget!

After a (so far) unexplained seven-day silence, I got two emails from her today. She tried to set up two campaigns (Webstrainer and Yippee) and they're both now just laying there, stinking up the internet. Why she tried to do this herself instead of just handing it all over to me, I don't know. (Maybe it all happened while I was sick.)

Anyhow. That means tonight's agenda is set. Between working on the Freethinker's campaign and fixing (I hope) Gidgt's Webstrainer and Yippee campaigns for her new client, that's pretty much my whole evening.

All of which reminds me that I have got to remember to bring the laptop with me tomorrow. I need to swing my MicroCenter on the way home and take advantage of my extended warranty again. The power cord died. (Join me in hoping it's part of what my warranty covers.)

Other!

I mentioned that Webstrainer is about to add me to their list of Mother's Little Helpers on their forum, right? I finally had a chat with the relevant Webstrainer employee last week (or maybe it was the week before) and I got the bio information written and sent to her on Monday.

I'm not a bit aggravated that she's hasn't gotten back to me yet. When you've dropped the ball or missed a deadline, it's always nice to confirm that you're not the only person that happens to.

I'm a bit aggravated that I checked the Gidget Co website again yesterday and the ugliness in the formatting I saw before seems to still be there. DiamondGirl did tell me she wasn't able to duplicate what I saw, so I may have to screen-cap it and send it to her.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:29 PM | Comments (4)



Friday, April 30, 2010
Otherwise

As my brain continues to swim back toward functionality, I realize a few things have been happening in Anne's World besides a runny nose.

I found another (small) project for DiamondGirl. The Gidget Co.'s website is a gross mess--Gidget's strong point not being html coding, not even the limited amount you need to use a content manager. We're offering DiamondGirl a modest payment to go in and clean it up for us, so we look more professional.

I'm going to be able to hand off a chunk of the Freethinker's projects (I think there are going to be two) to Gidget so, paying her for a change and she has to do the bit I think of as "boring" but she likes, so, good for both of us. (Did I mention that the Freethinker thing is a 'go'? I'm not sure if I did. I think the official word came a couple of weeks ago.)

Around that same time, when I not only didn't have brain but when trying to string four or more words together caused severe oxygen deprivation, I had to sit in on a meeting with another client of Bernie's who is going to want miracles produced for 50 cents a month. (At least, they did when the meeting was scheduled. After listening to me gasp and wheeze and mutter incoherently, they may have changed their minds.) That's another project I can probably hand some of off to Gidget.

I feel so much better! Even though the weather is supposed to be ghastly, I'm looking forward to a weekend when I have the energy to do more than just roll out of bed and sit in a chair.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)



Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Ouch

That will teach me to go around spreading bad karma, won't it?

Gidget IM'd me this morning, telling me to stop putting time and effort into the Senior Central accounts. It seems that, having failed to spend the $75k they spent on a new website wisely, they now have to spend $50k to fix it. They're replacing her with a different agency. (I'm not sure how they have money for the different agency when they say they're letting her go because they can't afford her consulting services any more, but maybe the agency has their own tech staff to write code, which our little company does not offer.)

That's a big hunk of freelance work to lose. I wouldn't care so much if it weren't for the fact that Gidget was doing a lot of work with them that didn't involve me--and getting paid for it. Losing them makes a serious dent in her own income and, unlike me, she's trying to live on what we're bringing in from The Gidget Co.

I must focus on the Woofmen's accounts this weekend--they still love us (her) and I need to figure out how to make them successful on $4 a day when none of the accounts have any of the tools I need to measure success--what's working and what isn't.

Today's minor good news--my alarm clock went off when and how I needed it to. I'm very sure of this--I woke up at 6:45 and waited for it to go off so I could check it.

Today's second minor good news--the big storm that was supposed to move in last night is still coming, but did not arrive in time to mess up the morning commute. This means the major part of it might not move in until after tonight's rush hour, when the R.C. and I are both already safely at home.

It's not supposed to be huge, they're only saying 5" - 10" in the city right now, but big enough to make a mess. I can always work from home if I wake up to a winter wonderland tomorrow, but I'm not sure the R.C. can, especially not on a Wednesday, which is Big Meeting Day in her office.

_________________

P.S. Personal note to Rapunzel: I blame you! It's been over a year and Harvest Moon continues to eat my life. I started over on Cute last night but I think Island of Happiness will always be my favorite.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)



Monday, March 22, 2010
Problematic

That's a good word. It implies something more interesting than a mere problem.

After many years of not writing (and intermittent whining about it), I'm dabbling in writing again. Many of my recent weekend (and evening) activities have been chosen specifically to encourage this state of mind. The results are--less than impressive, but I knew it was going to take time to get back in practice, so that's fine.

The problem, of course, comes in the when. If I could turn the creative part of my brain off from 8-5, M-F, that would be good. (And from 7-11 on weekends, since that's when I do most of my freelance work.) Arrange that for me, 'k?

Bernie called this morning. He passed my comments to the Freethinker and now the Freethinker is asking, 'what next'? Bernie wanted to know what we should do (and how long it would either take me to do it, or to teach Lorna, his Harried Helper, to do it). I hate questions like that. Questions about teaching someone. I am a horrible teacher* and I am honest enough to admit it

Lorna, his Harried Helper, hasn't done anything to me--I've never even met her. Why should I inflict myself on her in a role I'm completely unsuited for? Also? This is not a "beginner" project. This is not a project for someone who has never even seen the software.

I sympathize with his desire to have this work done in-house, so he doesn't have to pay a free-lancer for it. I support the idea of me not being responsible for the potpourri of random clients he has coming on board. He and his Harried Helper can, as I've told him more than once, log in to the free online lessons and learn. But I don't teach.

I don't mind reorganizing the Freethinker's stuff for him, though. (Even though it means I'll actually have to go read his web pages.) Anticipating that this would come up, I already have copious notes on what should be done. Organizing is much more fun than management and the check should cover the last of my travel expenses from the end of February.

The next leaf in Bernie's potpourri is Portuguese And wants to advertise in that language,. I tried--I did try, to explain the difficulty of this to Bernie but I don't think I got through. I know--the numbers are the same, but the words matter.

Crazy man.

Also, he told me that I'm in first place in our brackets group--we had a fifteen minute conversation about games that I assume must have taken place in the last week or something and have I ever mentioned on the blog how much I hate having to fake my way through in-depth conversations about teams and players I've never heard of**--but I can't figure out how to go look at it all to see how this strange thing happened, so I can't explain it.

___________________

* Seriously. "Here's the stuff. Just do it. If you have a question, search the web for an answer." That should be enough "teaching" for anyone.

** Some day I'm going to get caught doing that and someone's feelings will be hurt. (By the way, brackets are about basketball. Did you know that? I'm not sure I knew that before today.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:22 PM | Comments (4)



Sunday, March 21, 2010
kmn

Under the heading of "killmenow" is this morning's freelance adventure, when I logged into a new campaign I activated a week ago and discovered that the client went in to it secretly last Monday and loaded 600+ new words, all of which had really low quality scores.

The campaign is now trashed, all of the minimum bid estimates have gone though the roof, even on normally "good" keywords, keywords in multiple campaigns that I've slowly been coaxing into better performance have crashed and burned, and I'm starting off this beautiful, sunny Sunday in a really bad mood.

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



Friday, March 12, 2010
Poor and Alone

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

This week has been both aggravating and annoying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever

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

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

The world is starting to get brighter!

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over it, over it, over it.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wigging Out

Those of you who know me reasonably well (which includes everyone who reads this blog), know that I'm prone to occasional, pointless wigouts. I'm thinking of having one today. Try not to take it too seriously--in a previous life, I may have been a drama queen.

A whole slew of Gidget's campaigns need work--the idiot client revamped their website, which we knew about, but they swore that no URLS would change, which turned out to be a big, fat lie since all the URLs changed. For the last few days, I've been grabbing an hour here and there wherever I can find one, to get their ads redirected before Webstrainer notices that we're bouncing ad traffic around. I'm going to take an actual "lunch" break today, drive home, and try to get the last few reloaded.

The campaign I've been working on for Bernie is humming along like a well-oiled machine. Stats look good, search queries are relevant, ads are all performing well. (One of the best-performing has a typo, but I'm afraid to fix it because I don't want to rock the boat.) The campaign just isn't producing any actual leads for Bernie's client. My wits, they are at an end for what the problem is. I know zilch--maybe double-zilch about real estate. Webstrainer likes the ads and shows them. When people see the ads, they click on them. I've decided that my responsibility ends there.

I sat in on a call a week or so ago--I think I told you this--with another potential client for Bernie. He sent me an email yesterday saying he has yet another potential client who wants online advertising--maybe two more.

His idea, of course, is that I should quit my full-time work and focus on maximizing my free-lance work, but since his idea is also that he can grow his company to a substantial size by signing up clients and free-lancing out whatever actual work needs to be done, he would feel that way, wouldn't he?

It's not that I've gone off the idea of The Gidget Co, because I most emphatically have not, but the whole Bernie deal is a separate issue and I have to wonder just how much I want to put my future in his hands, you know?

I've barely done any work on the 'Nut campaigns this week--not for lack of interest but because I need to wait a few days to evaluate ads and the rest of the campaigns are performing well enough to sort of worry me. (I'm not well-equipped to deal with success.)

I have to get on a plane next week and then again the week after that. Flying is such a hassle any more. I'm very excited about both trips, but the actual travel part is going to be a drag.

I'm stressing. For no particular reason, but I am. Feeling pressured.

That's probably why I started writing again. I originally started when I was massively stressed--I used it as an escape from work problems and pressure I was getting from the people in my life. It worries me--just a little--that I'm back to that level of stress for the first time in 10 years, when I'm working at what is arguably the lowest-stress job I have ever had.

I tell myself that maybe I just don't have the stress tolerance levels I had twenty years ago, but that's hardly a cheerful thought.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:10 AM | Comments (2)



Tuesday, February 2, 2010
What If You Had A Fire But Nobody Came?

I like arriving in the office in the morning, opening my email, and finding some nitwit shouting at me because I haven't "fixed" something I told him was out of my control.

Yeah. I like that.

Next to that, I like opening the next email on the page and finding that someone else who doesn't understand the problem has promised that I'll "fix" it today.

Yeah, I really like that.

That was how last Friday started. Fortunately it got better after that, but I seem to be having a little trouble getting over it.

Today started off with me pouring soup on the kitchen floor when I tried to pack my lunch. I had to stop and mop up, which made me 20 minutes late to work.

I'd feel guiltier about that if it wasn't for the fact that I wasn't the last one in, not by a long ways. This place is pretty casual about that sort of thing. Whoever is covering the reception phones is supposed to be in by 8 or before but the rest of us straggle in as the mood takes us. Since I don't consider punctuality a particularly interesting or worthwhile 'virtue' I like to work places where there's a lot of -ish to that 8 am start time. I'm reasonably capable of arriving at the office around 8-ish.

This irritates the heck out of the R.C. She feels that if the official start time to a work day is 8:00, then you should be at your desk, computer booted up and bright smile pasted on your face by at least 7:55. Me, I say that if you look back two weeks ago on Tuesday and you can't remember who came in "on time" and who was either five minutes late or five minutes early? Then it's not really important, is it?

Today we also had a little fire drill here at the office. Not exactly a drill, since the alarm sounding was neither planned nor expected by any of us, but nevertheless it went off and we trooped cheerfully outside to soak in some sunshine. Ten or fifteen minutes later we were still enjoying the sunshine because the firemen hadn't arrived.

Someone called the building management company (I don't know why they didn't call the firemen, so don't ask) who apparently contacted the fire department to tell them there might and/or might not be an actual fire and that we'd all appreciate it if they could fit us into their apparently busy schedules.

Obviously, since I have the time to blog about soup on the floor, there was no fire. I don't know what triggered the alarm. They didn't show up because no one invited them to the party.Turns out that some essential connection between our alarm system and the fire house wasn't working and the firemen didn't know we'd been alarmed.

To do them credit, once they got here, they cleared the building for us all to get back to work in about five minutes, but still. Most of them weren't even very cute, which has to be against some kind of fireman regulation, don't you think?

Bernie called yesterday and I promised to take a look at a potential campaign for a potential new client. He gave me a chance to bail out--to say I didn't have time. I didn't take it. Temporary insanity or something, I don't know.

Anyhow. With luck, he won't close the deal--this one is in a completely different industry than the last one and these stand-alone campaigns are a lot harder to make successful than my other ones are.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:07 PM | Comments (11)



Monday, September 14, 2009
I Was Gonna Say....

Hey, I meant to blog today! How did it get to be 4:45 already? For a Monday, today whizzed by pretty quickly.

First, let's wish the R.C. a happy-happy-happy birthday today!

birthd.gif


Hooray!





Aside from that, if I'd had time, I'd have blogged at boring length about these things:

#1 - Gidget signed on another location for one client, so we both got a tiny free-lance income raise this month. Hooray!

#2 - Apparently Bernie is serious about wanting me to quit my job and take on free-lancing full time, including a lot of work for him. He paid the rest of the balance on the outstanding invoice!

#3 - Shopping! Last week I dared to walk a whole half mile or so (in the entire day) in my newish blue sling-back pumps and wound up with bandages on my poor toes for the rest of the week and the weekend. Thus, this weekend's haul - two new pairs of shoes. I bypassed the fabulousness of the Zappos site in favor of two pair (black, blue) of plain pumps for half the price or less at DSW. All I want out of life (at the moment) is shoes that don't hurt my feet.

#4 - At 4:16 a.m. last Friday morning, we had a power outage. It was the last straw for the ancient (6-7 years old) desktop in the living room, and nothing we could make it do would get it to boot up. Saturday morning, the R.C. and I took the old box to Micro Center to see if any data recovery was possible,

#5 - I drone on and on about the whole Six-Month Frugality Plan quite a bit, but it feels like I also blog quite frequently about shopping splurges. In the not at all a splurge category--an additional weekend investment was a new keyboard and mouse. Strangely enough, when I opened the packaging for these new peripherals, there was a new computer in the box! (I wonder how that happened.)

Computers aren't that expensive any more if you don't need a monitor and we didn't. And while we bought 'up' somewhat from the bargain basement model the R.C. was inclining toward, I don't regret it. Computers are practically obsolete in a year these days and since we do tend to keep our home desktops for half a decade or more, I think it behooves us to spend a few extra bucks for a higher-end model. (rationalize-rationalize-rationalize)

Anyhow. Between the shoes and the PC, I think I spent all of the free-lance money I was paid last week.

It was a good weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:58 PM | Comments (1)



Monday, August 31, 2009
Ohmigosh

Weekend: Glorious. Weather smashing, temperatures moderate, sunshine intermittent but golden, rain scarce, food delicious. Shopping: successful. I frittered away $8.00 in a wild splurge on a single new book. Later that same night I frittered away a little more (online) for some new (ahem) underthings.

Etcetera., etcetera., etcetera.

That makes two lovely weekends in a row.

I'm glad I enjoyed them, because I have to stop taking the weekends off.

Starting about 3:00 yesterday, when I foolishly checked my email, I've been embroiled in turmoil with Bernie.* His client's campaigns are performing 30%-60% better (depending on what you're measuring) in the last 2-1/2 weeks and have been generating a steady stream of (qualified) leads. So, naturally I found a string of ohmigod the sky is falling emails in my inbox, wherein he frantically demanded to know what I'd done that destroyed the campaigns so thoroughly.

Fourteen emails later I figure out that he was confusing organic and paid search, had no idea that leads were coming in, and that he was assuming I was continuing to manage the campaign in spite of his failure to, (a) tell me he wanted me to, or (b) discuss hours and payment with me.

Now I remember why I was so glad to stop working with him. It's not his irrationality--many people prefer to ignore reality--it's that hair-trigger panic button.

I had emails from Gidget complaining that she didn't understand how to edit something she did online (click the "edit" button, I said) and wondering how to make a link (click the "make a link" button, I said).

programmer.gif

In my next life, I'm being one of those mountaintop hermits and if anyone climbs my mountain and tries to talk to me, I'm throwing a goat at them.


___________________

* The first person who says Itoldyouso gets smacked.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:43 PM | Comments (8)



Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Dear Friends:

August 14

The R.C. also got hatemail from the credit card company (I hadn't realized before that we actually have cards issued by the same organization), slashing her credit by 40%! Unlike my letter, hers didn't try to pretend she was a deadbeat (you could eat off her credit report). No, what they told her was that they pulled her credit report and decided she didn't need all the credit they were extending to her. Times is tough, they told her. Not everyone is payin' their bills.You are, though. We hate you for that.

I feel badly for her. It's bad enough for me, someone who has, from time to time, had the odd late or missed payment. But for someone who's never paid a bill late in her life? What a slap in the face.

Because I do have a certain pity for her, I'm going to forego my planned blog entry, which featured large amounts of RC mockery. (Short story even shorter. She borrowed some software from her office. Tuesday evening, she spent an hour and a half with it--reading the installation manual. What kind of gomer reads installation manuals? I mean! 90 minutes! And then she never actually got the product installed!*
There was going to be mockery.)

August 17

I take my eyes off of Gidget for a few days and you know what happens? She breaks a finger (What was a woman with her current health problems doing moving rocks anyhow?), faints from the pain, falls on the rocks, and breaks two ribs. Good grief.

My weekend was uneventful. I took the entire weekend off. I hadn't had a day off in over three weeks, so I felt I was due.

Although. Now I'm feeling guilty because I didn't get the last of Bernie's project finished. I need to do that--I should have had it finished last week. After I get the last bit done, I need to do a write-up for the client explaining my changes. Then I can bill Bernie.

I turned in my expense report for the seminar I charged to it (for work) and when I get that reimbursement, that's going against the card balance. So is Bernie's money. I am so close to being debt-free--the balance on Credit Card Of Doom is under $2k--I can almost smell it.

August 18

Well, I finished Bernie's project and sent him an explanation of what I did. Because I'm a tad compulsive, I've gone back into the campaign a couple of times and made some edits, primarily to ads where the first version wasn't performing well. I figure I'll give him 48 hours to respond to my note. If I don't hear from him, I'm sending the bill.

Last weekend I went mad and spent $30 on a new pair of slacks. Now I'm wishing I'd bought them a size smaller. (I guess that's not a bad problem to have.) They're not unwearably large, but definitely baggy in the backside. I'm back on the diet and with 7 pounds still to go, I figure the problem will only get worse. Next payday, I think I'll treat myself to a new pair, in a smaller size.

I need new shoes. Really. I need these shoes, but I'll probably wind up with these shoes because they're more sensible. These appear to combine comfort with a reasonable heel height but I don't know if I'm ready to have all that ugly hanging off the ends of my ankles. On the other hand, these seem to combine the best of a loafer with the best of a medium-heel pump.

Amazon bought Zappos! That could turn out to be expensive for some of us.

August 19

This is turning into a ridiculously long serial blog entry.

In my final note for the entry, I'm feeling a tad smug. The outside "experts" that TeamChaos hired to run some test campaigns, with the idea that this agency would replace me in the hearts and minds of--well--everyone? Came hat in hand yesterday to beg the favor of my ads.

Turns out the ads written by the in-house experts were failing to perform. (I ask you--who doesn't just try something different?)

There's little that's "secret" or proprietary about what I do, but what there is, is mostly around ads. Ads are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Any dinkhead can handle the bidding and organization part of running a campaign. What separates the pros from the wanna-bes is the ability to write an ad that draws clicks. Takes nerve to ask someone to hand over their ads but more than that, it's an admission of defeat.

Huh. I'm better at this than people give me credit for.


___________________________

* Turns out? It's been so many decades long since she actually installed a piece of software that she didn't know that installation wizards are more-or-less standard any more. She was expecting to, you know, have to know things. Software doesn't require you to know anything any more.


Posted by AnneZook at 09:58 AM | Comments (4)



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


_____________________


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

* * It's for a good cause.

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

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

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

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



Friday, July 24, 2009
Whiner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


____________________

* Paraphrase from, IIRC, Helen's Babies.

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



Wednesday, July 22, 2009
So Very Bored

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Maybe Up Down In Out But Yes No I Don't Know

Howdy, folks! What's new with you?

Mmm? Yes? Really! Mmm-hmm. You don't say? Well, gosh. Wotta story!

Me? There's so much going on here I can barely organize my thoughts to complain about it all.

Here at the Argonut Café, a previously unnamed 'Nut is about to close their doors. Yawn.

After hustling for two weeks to get it all ready, I sent out six-month performance reports yesterday. Within an hour I'd heard back from eleven 'Nuts whose combined requests for more detailed data and explanations are going to take me, at a conservative estimate, 16 hours to produce.

(Sigh. When I say, "I think you should do X because of Y" they should just email back and say, "Okay.")

I just had my second call (one of the Bowery Boys) and the guy had zero interest in reviewing the numbers he asked for or discussing the information he made me prepare. His idea was that I was going to walk him through looking at his campaign, so he could decide what keywords he should have. As I tried to explain, three times, the keyword list is not "fixed." Words rotate in and out constantly as we try new words and delete nonperforming words. What I wanted him to concentrate on was markets--which of the markets he currently advertises does he want to keep advertising. He didn't want to talk at that level, which means the two hours I spent working up all that data was time wasted. (Not to mention the 30 minutes for the phone call.) (If he didn't want all of that junk, why did he ask for it? Getting older by the minute, people!)

I've sent follow-up data to four other 'Nuts and am waiting for them to decide when they want to talk on the phone. The remaining five--I'm losing my enthusiasm for this project, so I'm ignoring them at the moment.

Further, in the good news/bad news department?

Another heretofore unmentioned 'Nut has a friend in need of online mktg expertise and is going to share my contact info. (Hey, a small, one-time job is still a dab of income!) Sadly, the project is too small to run through Gidget's company (if it comes to pass) because it's about $50 or $100, but from little acorns....

Gidget is getting 'scoped tomorrow in another effort to identify the source of her ongoing aches and pains. As soon as she finishes, she's on a plane to her mother's bedside as the relevant medical authorities say that this time, it really might be the end.

As we agreed on the phone earlier today, "expected" is not the same as "okay."

I tremble to share the next piece of good?/bad?/good? news.

It's Bernie. He's ba-a-ck! Apparently choking on the sheer volume of new work he's got and in need of my personal expertise in the mktg arena.

Or, not.

Because while he mentioned Webstrainer and whatnot, what he kept providing details about was using open source software for website optimization (SEO) which is a different color of elephant entirely. (And one where, in The Gidget Co, Gidget would handle words and I'd handle interface/tech.*)

Of course, Bernie's not likely to pay enough to hire a "company" when he thinks he can get me, for ten cents and a baloney sandwich, to do the same work. (No, we didn't discuss payment yet. It's tacky, to say the least, to discuss payment before you've actually heard what the work is.)

From what he said, "choking on work" isn't much of an exaggeration. If only half these projects reach the reality zone, that's enough full-time work for three or four people. (Or maybe five or six.) I know he has one employee (although what her actual duties are these days, I do not know) and himself. He mentioned two free-lancers, both of whom I know to be very good but who presumably also have other projects. And then there's me, with a 40-hour (50-hour) a week job and 15 hours a week on top of that for The Gidget Co already.

And. You know.

Bernie.

The man who nearly drove me psychotic when I worked for him--bidding twenty-five dollars for a five-hundred dollar job and then complaining bitterly when he had to cut a fifty-dollar paycheck to cover my hours. The man who hired me with the promise of reinstating (soon!) the 20% salary cut he handed me with my new job, who then laid-off the programmer/network administrator and expected me to magically grow that set of skills, and then moved his office halfway across the state and expected me to commute, all the while not only not delivering on his salary increase promises but hinting that I should be willing to take another pay cut.

Yeah. Him.

Why is my professional life full of people fixed in the belief that if they just ignore reality hard enough, it will change for them?)

And! As I mentioned last week, Gidget may have rounded up our third major client already and if she has, then I don't have the time or the energy to take on another 15-hour a week free-lance project--at least, not until I get out of having a full-time job.

The big question, as it always is with Bernie, is whether or not he's pitching these jobs to the clients for at least as much money as it's going to cost him to do the work. We're lunching tomorrow, and I do intend to ask him, point-blank, if he can afford my services.

But, you know, depending on how much of it actually comes to fruition, I might actually be in a position to wave bye-bye to the 'Nuts, come September 1.

Will we all be glad or sad if I no longer have a cast of coworkers to abuse?


_______________________________


* It's occasionally sort of odd for me to spend so much time with people who think of me as a "tech person." Who think of me as someone "not good with words."

Mostly, it's because they think of me as a "tech person" and it's a little scary to realize how little someone has to understand technology for me to look like an expert.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:32 PM | Comments (2)



Thursday, July 9, 2009
Oh! Gidget & Co., Update (And Nuttery)

Gidget, it turns out, is gallstone-free. The ulcer is still a viable possibility. She's giving her stomach a bland diet, and hoping for the best while she works to get her latest two projects underway.

One of our clients, hereinafter referred to as the "Woofmen" because I'm obnoxious that way, is starting up a second arm next month. Services similar to what they already do, but different enough to justify a stand-alone business model. Once they roll out, that's the third client leg (lots of body parts today) we've been wanting!

The other client, hereinafter referred to as "Senior Central" because invention is failing me at the moment, wants to branch out into "social networking" in a big way and, later this year, is going to pay Gidget to manage their overall "social network" presence.* * (I, of course, will be doing the actual work. I'm not sure Gidget would know a social network if one invited her over for tea.)

Fingers crossed for these two projects, folks! They're the last building blocks needed in The Gidget Co.'s "we just want to pay our bills and fire our crazy bosses" concept. Between these two and the "increase in the cost of services rendered" notice Gidget delivered to Woofmen last week, we are this close to our goal!

Yesterday I lunched with Gidget and Vela. I shared what little 'Nut gossip I've gathered, Vela dissed her crazy new company, and Gidget bemoaned the incestuous tangle of business relationships and politics (turns out that a VP of Senior Central runs a PR agency on the side and this agency handles the PR for Woofmen) that's currently causing stop-and-go traffic jams on her road to financial independence. No matter where you work, there will always be Issues.

Today's lunch indulgence was a mélange* of smoked turkey, 1/2 slice of cheese, dill pickle slices, and brown mustard. Without precisely being back on a diet, I'm making an attempt to cut down on the fat and increase the nutrition in my diet. Should I find myself in danger of starving to death in a couple of hours, I have six crackers I can eat to keep body and soul together until dinner time.

No, not my most scintillating post. My head is broken. Even if you're borderline obsessive-compulsive, I maintain that there are times when your brain just can't deal with any more bits of stuff, and this is one of my times. If I have to spend one more minute trying to figure out how to raise some statistic from 0.99% to 1.01%, I may run mad.* * * (This, yes, is why you're getting two blog posts from me this week.)

Boring story short--there's a pair of Eastern 'Nuts we'll call Tom & Jerry. Tom & Jerry were part of one of the shared marketing cooperatives with another 'Nut until they decided it was a conspiracy to steal all of their leads. Two weeks ago they asked for info on their new campaign's performance, I sent data showing that it was improving every week, and they requested a conference call for a more in-depth discussion. Today, an hour of my life I'll never get back again, boiled down to, "it looks good."

Why, I ask (in vain), why do people feel that wasting the precious hours of my life by forcing me to read them simple lines of text is okay?

I provide ten lines of data. For each line, I include the analysis, "This is from X. This number is up. Up is good." Or, "This number is down. Down is good."

How can they have the nerve to call me up and say, "What does it mean that this number is up? Is that good?"

I hate people.


__________________

* It might not be. But it's a good word.

* * Don't even get me started. "Success" at social networking has to be achieved before you try to make a buck with it. Unless you have the world's sexiest new teenager product. Why can I not get anyone to understand these things?

* * * I mean, I know how. But it involves running two reports and breaking the resultant data down into four groups, each of which has about fifteen subgroups and then you check the numbers individually and in context with each other to decide which bit of what to change and I just can't face doing that one more time this week.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)



Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sorry! Sorry!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


________________

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Brief recap, for those not following along at home:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later in the month, after pricing what it would cost to replace me, my ChaosManager tells me I am fabulous and asks me to remain indefinitely, providing caviare-level service at my current pigs-knuckle salary.

*cough* Sorry. Ranty today.

The L-i-K-S also said that Rapunzel is feeling sick. Poor girl. Take a moment to send her some healthy vibes, okay?

This weekend I had occasion to go in and try to clean out my email inbox. I found an invitation to a party from a friend who is now probably former and who will never speak to me again. I found a notice telling me I owed a tenner to the guy who won the basketball brackets thing I was involved in, what was it, two months ago? I found a form from my insurance agent that I was grateful to realize had not gone unsigned and unsent. I found coupons for bookstores, invitations to shop at sales, demands that I protest this or that government (or opposition) idiocy. I found interesting conversations I could have participated in. I could have connected with people via twitter, linked in, blog, journal, or forum. There was information I promised friends that I never sent, lists I mean to resign from still sending me mail, and causes I would have donated to if I'd seen the notices in time.

I have got to get a better handle on my life.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:54 PM | Comments (4)



Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Bitch, Moan, Whine

Work seems too hard today. I'm trying to come up with some new creatives (ads) and stupid Outlook pop-ups keep reminding me that I have tasks not related to my Real Job that need to be done. Then I waste time being aggravated, start back to work, realize I'm editing a creative that's already successful, have to revert all of my changes, stop to be aggravated again, and then eventually get back on track. Right about then, another stupid pop-up interrupts me.

I'm not entirely focused today. I suspect I may need more sleep.* Maybe I'm not sleeping well, who knows? The problem, as I told my doctor last Friday, is that when you sleep alone, no one tells you if you snore drastically or toss and turn all night.

Sigh.

I wish they would unemploy me today. It's 85 and sunny outside.

But, no. I have to go into the database of addresses for the 'NutNews and start deleting the emails of people who no longer work here. Bert is whining at me to get that done. The emails of everyone no longer here get routed to his in-box and he got, like, ten copies of the 'NutNews last week. Made him grouchy.

If anyone cares, I've seen Jason three times this week (some kind of record!) and not once has he even hinted at his conference-inspired decision to keep me on "indefinitely." Heh. If he had the courage to talk to me about it, he could relax, knowing that I understand that by "indefinitely," he didn't mean "long-term." A coward dies a thousand deaths....

Gidget IM'd me today with good news She's in talks with a third large client. If they say yes, then the Gidget Co is good to go! Not one, but two former ChaosManagers are now at organizations that could use the Gidget Co's expertise. (Networking rocks.)

In the meantime, she sent me the info on two more campaigns for loading. I must remember to sit down and do that as soon as I get home this evening.

_____________________

* Maybe I'm becoming a geezer? Geezers have sleep issues.

I went to bed early last night. It was only 11:15. Since I don't roll off my pillow much before 7:30 (I have a fast morning routine), I should be bright and chipper today. Some old people don't sleep much, but maybe I'm going to be a sleepytime geezer?

Oh! And a stupidgeezer! I almost forgot to tell you that I was outside on the balcony last night, around 7:30, watering my plants, when I glanced at my car and realized I had left my headlights on! The poor R.C. had to come out and let me jump my car from hers, then I had to go drive around forever to recharge the battery.

While I was out, the R.C. signed me up for AAA. She's been wanting me to join for years. Somehow I was under the impression it cost hundreds of dollars, so I never go around to it, but now I'm a card-carrying member! (Or, you know, I'd be a card-carrying member if I'd remembered to put the membership info she printed for me into my purse Stupidgeezer!)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:14 PM | Comments (3)



Monday, May 11, 2009
Where Am I?

Pursuant to my impending unemployment, I tried to pin NewBoss Anais down last week--after the Conference euphoria had passed for all of them--not for a final date, but at least for a date when we could actually discuss the date. She avoided the topic, saying she would be "grateful" to have me "as long as I felt able to stay."

??

Excuse me? I've been given three different "good-bye" dates. Unless I'm on the wrong kind of meds, I'm pretty sure that's a strong indicator that they would not, in fact, be grateful to have me around in the future.*

Also? I know that they're still interviewing companies to replace me, so she being very polite, but not helpful.

I'm not trying to be hard to get along with, but I do need to know if I'm outta here next week or next month, okay?

The R.C. says I work in the Hotel California. I've checked out, but they won't let me leave.

Me, I say it's even weirder. The hotel management came to my room and requested me to check out. Now they're holding my luggage hostage and claiming they think I'm a wonderful addition to the décor.

Short of assuming that they're stalling while someone in the back is rifling through my bags and stealing my Fabulous New Panties**, I don't know what to think.

In any case, I loaded up three new campaigns for Gidget's clients last Thursday, and sweet-talked her into letting me manage all of her current campaigns for at least a week or so, so my Next Big Adventure is taking shape in the wings. Now that I've been laid-off three times by this same company, the only thing I need to do is actually become unemployed and she and I can focus on getting the new company really rolling.

eek!

_____________

* Jason's announcement to the 'Nuts Afield last week, notwithstanding (another great word). Never forget that his main goal in life is either to stop the whining or to get it migrated to some outside vendor, so he can say, SEP!


** My apologies to the male portion of the audience who would rather not hear about what goes on under my clothes.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)



Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Minor Update

Little to report on the 'Nut front today. An incredibly brief conversation with NewBoss Anais yesterday afternoon revealed the fact that she would be "grateful" if I would continue showing up for work next week. Beyond that, she knoweth not, but she promised to find out in today's management meeting. Her best guess is "a couple of weeks."

Gidget has come to me with about ten "how do I...." questions already this week and is grousing because I'm not yet unemployed :-) and available to do this stuff for her.

I continue to reside in a world where no one can pay me but everyone wants my services. Flattered but homeless, that's me. *

I've done a fair amount of work today, including one "monthly" project that I realized had not been done since early November. I even returned a call from a 'Nut, which is normally against my policy. (I reached his voicemail, though, so I didn't have to talk to him. Since he's one of the Bowery Boys, that made my day a little brighter.)

Yesterday's HairMan appointment passed without incident, unless you consider having to have my color done twice to cover the stubborn gray an incident. I've been dyeing the gray since I was 22. I was trying to add up last night just how much I've spent over the years, but I finally gave up. A lot, anyhow.

Last night's outing cost me a cool $100. When I made the appointment, it was under the assumption that I would be sending out resumes and (with luck) going on interviews and that it would behoove me to look my best (youngest). I can't afford to have it done again for a long time and now I'm thinking I should have rescheduled.

Oh, well. HairMan is also suggesting he might be ready to move ahead with his website project and that maybe in the future we can trade some of my expertise for his. I know the feds hate it when you barter instead of trading easily taxable cash, but who cares? * *

Bored and boring today, aren't I?

Oh, and I talked to Gidget again and she decided we can take on some of the 'Nuts on a freelance basis--as long as we pick and choose. So, you know, another step toward making her fledgling company profitable and creating my own new job! Pursuant (such a fabulous word) to paragraph #2 above, she can't wait to turn all of the "stupid software junk" over to me so she can spend her time talking to clients and being creative.

___________________

* If it weren't for gross exaggeration, my day would have no drama at all.


* * For the record? I support their taxation of money. They print the money. It's thanks to them that we have an easy, portable way to transfer value and I agree that they're entitled to a cut. Like a royalty.

But I've never agreed with them trying to tax the value of bartered goods and services. They don't own me. My time, knowledge, and abilities are mine, not theirs. If I choose to trade my time for a pizza instead of the $5 it would take to buy a pizza, that's my business.

And, yes, I know I'm not on firm legal, moral, ethical, or logical ground here, but that's what I've chosen to believe today.

(My morals are flexible if I need a haircut? How pathetic is that?)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)