kaasirpent: (Work)
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 12:20 pm

Scene: The lobby of my workplace. I press the "up" button for the elevators and wait. I see a woman whose face I know but whose name I'm not sure of struggling to get her rolling bag through the security door. The elevator arrives, I press 'door open' to wait the three or four seconds for her to arrive. We exchange 'Good morning's and I press "4."

"What floor?" I ask.

"Two," she says. "Thank you."

We stop on the second floor and she gets out as she wishes me a good rest of the day, and I return the sentiment. Just as the door is starting to close, another woman steps onto the elevator. She waits until the doors start to close again, then puts her hand in the opening, leans out, and peers to the right. As she does this, she looks vaguely over her shoulder at me and mutters, "Sorry. Don't mean to hold you up."

And yet, you have already done that, I think, but don't say.

Apparently satisfied, she then re-enters the elevator entirely, and a few seconds later, the doors begin to close again. She once more puts her hand in the opening, causing the doors to spring back open again. This time, she straddles the opening placing her back against one of the doors, looking off into the right distance again.

I'm about three seconds before getting off the elevator and taking the stairs when the woman once more moves into the elevator and looks at me and says, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to hold you up."

And yet, you have done so twice, I think, but don't say.

Just as the elevator doors are about to close, a hand flies into the opening from the outside, and they open again. It's another woman, also dragging a rolling bag, who says to the other woman (not me), "Sorry about that. I didn't mean to hold you up."

The doors finally close all the way as the two women babble at each other. Since neither of them pressed a button, I assume they're both going to the fourth floor with me.

We arrive at the fourth floor and I get off. Just as I am, I hear a "ding!" and the arrow button on the outside of the elevator flashes to "down."

"Oh, crap!" I hear the first woman — the one who repeatedly kept opening the doors and making me wait — say. "I forgot to press five!"

As I walk away, I think, "I'm sure it doesn't mean to hold you up!" But I don't say it.

Schadenfreude. It's great on a cold, winter morning.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Monday, May 12th, 2014 12:30 pm

This entry is part 10 in an ongoing series of sem-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 11

This isn't even a surprise to me at this point. It's like a character in a sitcom saying, "What else could possibly go wrong?" and the studio audience all going, "Oooooooooh."

As I said in part 9, I returned to work last week. Not on Monday, but on Wednesday. This was because I couldn't get an appointment with the doctor the prior week, and didn't have the okay to drive until I saw him. He gave me the OK on Tuesday and I left the next morning to head back to the office.

Flash forward to Friday. I'm paid hourly because of some kerfuffle that happened a few years back with IT workers suing for overtime pay in California(?), and most of the rest of the nation followed suit to avoid the same lawsuit (as I understand it). Anyhoo, I was salaried up to a point, then became hourly, and so I can, if the need is great, get paid overtime for anything > 40 hours that I work. What this has to do with anything is that I have to put my hours into our PeopleSoft system, which they use to calculate my weekly pay. Friday is the day we fill that out and submit it, because the payroll is run on Monday before noon, Pacific. (But we still have to have our time submitted before noon Eastern on Monday. Whatever.)

Before I left for surgery and recovery, I pre-submitted two weeks of time sheets with 40 hours each of leave time. There was apparently some question about that (I was apparently not supposed to fill out a time sheet at all for leave time, even though LEAVE is one of the sub-categories under EXCEPTION TIME, but no one tells me anything), and an email discussion between my boss and our payroll department ensued, on which I was CC'd. It was cleared up before I ever even saw the email exchange. Problem: Solved!

Or so I thought.

Friday, I opened PeopleSoft and clickity-clicked through to where I put my hours in . . . and it didn't recognize me. As in, the place on the form for "Employee ID," which heretofore had always been populated automatically, wasn't.

Thinking that maybe I had done something wrong, I looked up the number on my paycheck stub and put that in. Invalid ID. Hm. I tried searching on the ID. Invalid ID. Name, last first. Invalid ID. Name, first first? Invalid ID. Grrrr. Advanced Search. Same results.

I looked for my boss, but he was in a meeting, so I walked around until I found another manager (who was my manager before my current manager). I told him what was going on, and he did some button-pushing and mouse-clicking. He informed me that the Employee ID number on the paycheck stub and the Employee ID in PeopleSoft are two separate things. But I should try the other one and see if that worked.

I managed to get the other number off of an approved timesheet from earlier in the year. Invalid ID. Hm.

I tried searching on that number. Invalid ID. Advanced Search? Invalid ID.

Worried, I approached my boss once he was out of his meeting, and said, "PeopleSoft says I don't exist."

He got this look on his face I interpreted as, "I knew this was going to happen. I just knew it." Plus some fun expletives. He didn't say them, but I could see them in his eyes.

Seems that part of that little problem with my 'leave' time ended up with me being taken completely out of the whole time reporting system. I mean, I could log in, and I could see my previous time sheets and approvals. I just couldn't put in anything new. Because that's logical, right?

He was on his way out and said he would deal with it over the weekend.

Flash forward to today.

He didn't have time to deal with it over the weekend because Mothers Day.

So I looked up the number for Payroll on our company Intranet, and got ready to beard the dragon in his lair. Before I dialed, I thought, "I'd probably better try the time sheet one more time so I can read off the exact error to them."

And I was fine. The Employee ID (the correct one) was in place. It knew who I was. I was able to report my time and submit it to my boss, comfortably before noon. Eastern.

All's well that ends well, as Shakespeare said.

I'm sure this will be the last problem I'll have stemming from this whole thing. Sure. Absolutely. I mean . . .

What else could possibly go wrong?
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Thursday, May 8th, 2014 11:39 am

This entry is part 9 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 10 | Part 11

I visited my doctor Tuesday, May 6th, 2014, for my surgical follow-up. The first thing he asked me was how I felt. I told him, "Pretty good." He asked how my arm was doing, and I told him about the range of motion I've been able to achieve on my own. (I can raise it up to my side at about a 30 or 40 degree angle from my body.)

He told me that my rotator cuff was badly damaged. He didn't "fix it" so much as "repair some of the damage." I'll never, he says, have 100% usage of the joint, again. He estimated from 66% to 75%, but no more. I was a little crestfallen to hear that, because I really use my right hand a lot. I'm severely right-handed, as I've explained before.

He also said that because I had quite a bit of arthritic damage to the bones of the joint, he ground off quite a bit of bone, so I should actually have less pain than I originally had.

Now . . . I wasn't aware of any arthritis pain. Honestly. Sure, when I would try to put my arms behind my head, there'd be a small twinge in my shoulders and elbows, but . . . I just chalked that down to being vastly out of shape and having zero flexibility. I guess maybe that was the arthritis?

I never thought of myself as having a high threshold of any kind of pain. I'm one of those people who can't walk barefoot through the grass in my yard because there are sharp stalks that poke my tender soles. When I was a kid, mind you, I could run on sun-baked, gravel-paved streets and not even notice the sharp rocks or the searing heat.

Ah, youth.

Maybe I had been having more pain than I realized? Is that possible? To be in pain, but just not notice it? Like you don't notice the smell of onions cooking after a while because you get used to it, and then someone else walks in and it's all they can smell.

The doctor did tell my housemate right after surgery that I would not be throwing anything overhand, anymore. Well, damn. There goes my hope to get into Wimbledon or the Atlanta Braves. Still, it's one thing to hear 'repair the rotator cuff' and quite another to hear 'too much damage to fix entirely.'

At any rate, he then gave me several exercises to work at over the next month, a couple of times per day, each, to extend my flexibility, but not my strength. He said not to work on strength, yet. I showed him an exercise I've been doing that the physical therapists last October gave me, and which seemed to do me some good. He said I could keep that up, so 8 to 10 times per day, I do those. Twice or so per day, I'm to do a pendulum thing, where I bend over and let my arm hang loose from the shoulder, and just swing the arm back and forth, letting gravity do the work for me. I'm also supposed to "climb" my hand up a wall twice or so per day, trying to raise the arm at greater angles. And finally, I'm supposed to get a pulley I can put over a door and use my good arm to raise my bad arm as high as I can, while putting no resistance with the bad arm. I'm not to use it to raise my good arm.

I intend to look for a pulley and rope at Home Depot or Lowe's or something. Maybe one of them will have something that won't cost me an arm and a leg <rimshot>.

Now, I know what you're thinking, because not only was I thinking it, as well, but so has everyone I've told all this to, and so did my Workers Comp representative (Some Woman) when I spoke with her yesterday morning. You're thinking, "Where's the physical therapy?"

This particular doctor doesn't think it's necessary, as long as I follow his instructions and do the exercises. They are, after all, the same ones the PTs will give me, and the only difference is, when I do them myself, I won't have the added cost of visiting a PT, and I won't get the massage, moist heat, or ice pack afterward. Those felt pretty good, actually, even when my joint wasn't going to get better because of the rotator cuff being bunched up behind the joint in a pile instead of spread out like it should be.

If I can't keep up the exercises, he'll send me to PT. It's almost like a threat. Some Woman thought he's nuts, but on the other hand, it means they don't have to approve of and then pay for more "medically unnecessary" physical therapy, right? (Did you hear the scorn in my voice, there? I wasn't trying to hide it.)

As of yesterday (Wednesday, May 7, 2014), I'm back at work. I sit at a computer and type all day, so it's not like it's a big difference from what I was doing at home, which was to sit at a computer and type all day. Now, I just have less air conditioning and a less comfortable chair. The only issue was whether I could drive or not, and he gave me the green flag for that, as well. The only thing that hurts while driving is when I have to reach out to put the car into drive (or park, or reverse, or whatever; it's an automatic), or when I have to reach forward to press the button to open or close the garage door. The rest I can either do with my left hand or it'll just have to not get done.

I don't see the doctor again until June 3rd, so unless there are more infuriating things that happen between now and then, this will probably be the last you'll hear on this topic for a bit. Probably. Unless.
kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 01:09 pm
Evil emoticon by wstera2, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  wstera2 

This entry is part 6 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You knew there was going to be another part, didn't you? I certainly did. Because why should anything be over when it's over?

So, first things first: Story time!

This is long, but it does at least tangentially relate to the rest of the post. So you should probably click it. )

Why did I tell that story? It will soon become obvious.

So. Back in October, we left our intrepid hero (me) with physical therapy appointments, finally. After a long, drawn out battle. I had my first six PT appointments. They seemed to help. I had a lot of exercises to do, and they all hurt like heck. But I did them.

And after six visits, it still hurt like heck, but there was a bit more mobility. But Some Company had approved "eight to ten," so we still had a little wiggle room. So we scheduled six more, and I went back to my doctor to get another order for PT, which he gladly gave me.

Fast forward to the tenth PT visit. Melissa told me that Some Company had told them they weren't paying for any more visits after the sixth one, because they had only approved eight to ten. (Don't think about this too long. I did, and I lost 7 IQ points, permanently. But I still remember Gilligan's Island episodes. Can't ever get rid of something that doesn't matter. But I digress.)

I pointed out that they had said "eight to ten," and that six is not equal to either eight or ten, based on my many years of mathematics. I mean, I'm not a nuclear physicist, but this is fairly easy math. But apparently not for Some Company.

We cancelled my last two appointments until they could straighten everything out, and Melissa said they had also sent in my doctor's request for six more.

I spoke to Jane in HR about the whole thing, and she once again got everyone involved, and Some Company said that they would, indeed, pay for ten full visits. Once we explained the math to them. And I don't even mean that facetiously. Jane had to actually say, "You said 'eight to ten,' and he had six, after which you refused to pay for any more. Six is not 'eight to ten.' He's had four more, and by your own agreement, you should pay for them."

But still nothing about the approval for the remaining ones my doctor felt were needed.

Then I got The Letter. <ominous chord>

In The Letter <ominous chord>, I was informed that a doctor I have never met in my life reviewed my case and decided that since I "had returned to work at full duty" (which I never left, I might add), further therapy was "not medically necessary," and that they would not be covering the last two visits, nor would they be covering any subsequent visits. Further, my case was closed, and that was the end of it, as far as Some Company was concerned.

I . . . might have exploded. All over anyone in audible distance. I . . . might have used some of those words I didn't use in 8th grade. I might, indeed, have invented a few new ones. And I might have marched, letter in hand, to HR.

The next email from HR — after Jane talked with Some Company and others — was that Some Company would be paying for the final two visits. They I would request my PT for a referral to an orthopedist. And we would go from there.

So, I asked the PT for a referral.

Crickets. When I finally got hold of them again (another week went by because I thought maybe they were mailing it), they said they didn't do that, and that Melissa was no longer employed there, and who was I again? I would have to talk with my regular doctor.

I went a few rounds on the phone with his office staff, as well, and basically found out that I can't trust his office staff to give him messages.

Finally, in frustration, I contacted HR again and got them to send me a list of 'approved' orthopedists. I picked one and made my own damned appointment.

Which was yesterday at 3 pm.

The first question he asked me was, "Has your elbow been x-rayed?" I said it had not. He made some remark under his breath that I didn't quite catch, and then sent me to get an x-ray.

They x-rayed my elbow. And developed the film. And put it up on the light box.

And from all the way across the goddamned room, I could see . . . something.

He called me closer. "Do you see this little dark line right here?" He pointed. I said I did. "That is the sign of a healed compression fracture. That's why your elbow has been hurting."

He said that fractures like this "always heal" and that the treatment is basically to keep using it as normal so you get full movement once it heals. But it would continue to hurt for 3 to 12 months. I assured him that I had been using the arm as normally as I could given the pain. He said that was good.

Well, that's nice to know.

He then wanted to schedule me for an MRI of my shoulder. Which meant I had to call Some Woman at Some Company and get that approved. I called, and it went directly to her voice mail.

Much amaze. So expect. Wow. I didn't even bother leaving a message.

A few minutes later, as I was checking out and the receptionist was getting ready to call Some Woman themselves, my cell phone rang. It was Some Woman! OMG! First call I've ever gotten back! Alas, I was so shocked that she had called me that I didn't manage to answer. But we knew she was at her desk. So the receptionist ("Martha") called her and got on the phone with her!

The conversation, edited to remove the back-and-forth between me and the receptionist, went something like this:

Receptionist: Hi, this is Martha at Orthopedists R Us. I have one of your clients in my office, and we need to schedule an MRI for him. . . . [Kaa] . . . his right shoulder. . . . He made the appointment himself; there was no referral. . . . He says he got our name from a list of approved medical professionals from his workers comp representative at work. . . . Martha . . . Orthopedists R Us. . . . [Kaa] . . . his right shoulder . . .

And it went on. Then, Some Woman apparently said she'd have to call back and let them know where to send me for the MRI.

Martha said she would let me know if and when Some Woman called her back. [I should note here, for the record, that the doctor and the nurse and the receptionist were all scandalized when I told them about the sixty days Some Company made me wait before getting PT. Apparently, that is not normal. My mishandling of the initial doctor visit is probably what it all stems from. Had I gone to an orthopedist from the get-go . . . but hindsight is 20/20.]

That was yesterday at 4 pm.

Another part of Jane's email from work says this: "Katie (the My Company workers comp program manager) will oversee / ensure that Some Woman is facilitating the approval in a timely manner."

What that said to me was that someone is now watching over Some Company and Some Woman in particular, and that I may finally get some reaction from them on a timely enough basis to do something about.

What? Why are you laughing? That's not very polite.
kaasirpent: (Idiots)
Monday, October 28th, 2013 02:27 pm

This entry is part 5 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

You knew there was going to be another part, didn't you? I certainly did. Because why should anything be over when it's over?

Shortly after the last installment in this mini-memoir of incompetence compounded with stupid, I got very involved in some projects at work, and thus did not do my due diligence by calling the physical therapist. I mean, Jane had told me they approved it, and said they would be contacting me. So . . . Some Woman at Some Company would surely call me at some point, right?



A week went by (for those keeping track, it was now October 10). I finally got tired of waiting and sent Jane another email. It was during Jane's week of vacation, and her 'out of office' automatic reply said that she would be unable to access email, and would be back on the following Monday (October 14th). Meh. So I'd have to wait another few days. At this point, what was another few days?

About an hour later, I got an email from Jane. She had checked her email, seen my (rather despairing) email and replied. She said she would look into it.

A couple of hours later, I got a phone call from Some Company (I could tell by the caller ID it was the same company), but a different number than Some Woman's. It turned out to be "Nancy" (not her real name) who was two levels above Some Woman. She was calling to let me know that everything had been taken care of. I was approved.

I paused, and then said, "But . . . how do I access it? I mean, what do I need to tell my physical therapist so they'll know whom to charge?" (I did not say 'whom' but it's grammatically correct and this is my blog. :) I was looking for . . . I don't know, some sort of paperwork? A number to call? Something physical that didn't exist entirely in electrons and the faulty memories of several people.

"Oh, they have the information. You just make an appointment and you're covered for 8 to 10 treatments."

I thought, "Yay!" and let myself believe it was actually over. And then those projects I mentioned above got hot again, and I got distracted.

On the morning of the 21st (a Monday), I had an item in the USMail from . . . the physical therapist. I opened it. It was a bill for $300. Um.

So I called, having intended to do so anyway to set up my remaining appointments. Only to find out that the reason they billed me is that my insurance rejected the claim because they still had no information from anyone about worker's comp. I asked if they had heard from Some Company, because they had told me . . .

Nope. Never heard of them. They only billed me because they hoped I might know who to actually contact.

I . . . might have blown my top. Just a small amount. Either that, or my outburst of expletives had nothing at all do with how very, very quiet it got in the surrounding cubes. I'm fairly certain it was just a coincidence.

I sent a very carefully worded email to Jane. It started, "I have officially lost whatever amount of patience I might have had left with these people. Can you arrange a conference call with you, me, someone from Some Company, and whomever here has been dealing with this issue? I don't trust them unless I have someone else listening." I also said, "I'm not interested in fault. I'll accept whatever blame there is to accept. What I want is an appointment with the physical therapist and to not have to pay $300."

So about 3 hours later, this call happened. And Nancy threw me to the wolves. As expected. I don't think she quite understood that I was in the room listening to the conversation. Because she had a pretty snotty tone until I did speak up and say something.

"On the 10th when I spoke to Mr. [Kaa], I indicated that he should ask to speak directly with Melissa [NHRN] at [the Physical Therapy office]. It was her that I spoke to on the 10th when I called. And, in fact, it was to her that Some Woman spoke this morning when she called to check on the disposition of this case."

Now, when I talk to these people, I take notes. Copious ones. And at no point did I write down 'speak directly to Melissa.' And my call to the physical therapist must have occurred before Some Woman called. It's nice to know that she does, apparently, call some people back.

But. What. The. Fuck. Ever.

Nancy agreed that Some Company would take care of the $300 bill if I faxed it to them. I called Melissa and made an appointment for the next morning.

I now have six more appointments scheduled. One today (Monday the 28th) at 4:30 pm, one Wednesday the 30th at 4:15 pm, one Thursday the 31st at 4:30, and three the following week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all at 4:30 pm. Since we couldn't do mornings, I opted for 'very late.'

So. That's why I'm arriving at work at 6:30ish am this week. so I can leave the office around 2:30 pm in plenty of time to battle Atlanta traffic to make the 45-minute drive in two hours. Or so I hope. We'll see, I suppose.

The only issue remaining open (Did you hear that? It sounded like . . . like an ominous chord. Surely just a mistake, right? Right?) is the $300 bill that I received and faxed to Some Company shortly after our conference call. To which I never received an acknowledgement.

But I'm sure that's just an oversight. I'm sure they got it. I'm sure they're, even now, as I type this, moving forward on that lickety-split.

kaasirpent: (Caduceus)
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 11:57 am
Hurdles by .oskar, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  .oskar 

This entry is part 4 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. In case you haven't been keeping up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (YOU ARE HERE) | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

After DEFCON 1, I realized that I was very close to saying something that would get me in hot water with either my own HR people or the people at Some Company. Certainly, calling Some Woman a lying, incompetent waste of human DNA would not have endeared me to her, that was all I had left. So . . . I punted up to HR and I backed the hell off.

I communicated with "Jane" (not her real name; the HR director) a few times, checking on progress. Which was slow.

Unfortunately, I had a slight incident with some data and lost several days of notes on this and other topics. So I'm working solely from memory, here.

On the 17th, pretty much out of the blue, I got a call from Some Woman at Some Company. She had, she said, just called the physical therapy place and was waiting on a call back from them. She said she would call me back and let me know the outcome of that call.

That was the last contact I had with anyone over this until yesterday. Not trusting my temper, I didn't write about it, nor did I do more than note to Jane in HR (and my boss) that I had had the contact and was very pointedly not expecting a call back, given our history.

Flash forward to this week. I finally finished the project I was working on and before I could get wholly sucked in on the next one, I decided to give Some Woman a call. Of course, I got her voice mail, complete with "I will return your call promptly."

I left a message for her to call me back, and you'd have to be either deaf or completely unable to judge tone of voice not to know that I've reached the end of my patience. I think my last sentence was something like, "Look, all I really need from you is just a call saying 'yes' or 'no.' Really. That's it."

I called the physical therapist's office. I asked if they'd had any contact with either Some Woman or Some Company. Can you guess their answer? Can you? Because I could. I already knew before I dialed.

They said they had heard nothing at all. I may have . . . voiced a tiny bit of frustration. She explained to me that because I checked the "work injury" box on my form, the insurance company would reject it instantly, and that the only other recourse I had was to pay for it out of my own pocket. I thanked her for the information and said I would try to light some fires on my end of things.

I sent another email to HR.

The last time I heard from [Some Woman] was on the 17th of September. She was going to call [PT Place] (the rehab place). She said she had left a voice mail and would let me know something after they called her back.

Well, you can guess the rest. I have heard NOTHING. Nada. Zilch.

I called [PT Place] today and they said they had no record of any such contact.

What is the progress from our end?

For about an hour after that, I typed and deleted several tweets to @SomeCompany. And another email to HR. And one to the corporate office at Some Company. All of them were, frankly, hostile and bordering on insubordination (hence the 'deleted' part). Finally, I just left the office.

This morning, in my email box, was the following from Jane.

[Kaa] –

I received a response back from our Account Manager and one of the team leads at [Some Company].

They have given authorization for 8-10 PT visit per the doctor recommendations.

You should be hearing from someone with [Some Company] – but I wanted to go ahead and update you on this information as soon as I had it. I'm so sorry for the issues that arose. Hopefully it will get smoother.

Victory? Maybe? I have a missed call on my work phone, but the phone system didn't record who it was from or when it was missed. Maybe it was Some Woman. More likely, it was left over from last night when the contractor who did my window replacement a couple of weeks ago called me about something. (My phone number rings both my cell phone and my office.)

Who knows how long it will take for all the pieces to align at this point, but after two solid months of trying, I finally got the one-word answer I've been asking for all along. I didn't honestly care if it was 'yes' or 'no.' I still don't. I just wanted it over and done with.

The moral of my story is this: Unless you want to go through all nine circles of the Inferno, all nine rings of Mount Purgatory, a detour through Mordor (which one does not simply walk into), and emerge doubleplus goodfully, loving Big Brother, you'll not report anything as an on-the-job injury. Take it from me: it's not worth the hassle. If I could go back in time to the 31st of July, I'd tell people at work I got hit by a car a block from work. I'd be done with PT by this point. And I would never have encountered Some Woman at Some Company, and my frustration would not now be co-orbiting with the ISS.

By the way, I'm so, so very sorry for putting that song in your head. I really am. Really.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Monday, June 24th, 2013 07:25 pm
You go to a web site and do some sort of business with it. You purchase something, say. After your transaction is complete, usually something pops up on the web page and asks, "Would you like to take a survey about your recent experiences with XYZ Corporation?" (Questions 1 and 2 below relate to this.)

Assuming you bother, there will almost always be a question along these lines: "How likely are you to recommend XYZ Corporation to everyone on the entire planet?" It's usually on a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale where 1 is "I would not recommend XYZ Corporation to anyone" and the highest number is "I will stop random people on the street, hold a gun to their heads, and literally force them to visit XYZ Corporation's site."

[ETA: I worded one of those questions badly. When I asked "Are you truthful?" I meant when you answer the 'How likely are you to recommend . . . ?' question, not here. :)]

[Poll #1920767]

Now, on to the reason I asked. :)

I learned a couple of weeks back that my company actually pays a huge amount of attention to this question. No, really. According to the guy presenting at the meeting, it is viewed as the single most important question on the entire survey. Answers of 7 or below are considered customers we need to work on, because they don't love us enough, if at all. Answers of 8 to 9 are considered satisfied. Customers who answer 10 are considered evangelists who are recommending us to . . . whom? Their competitors? I was a little shaky on exactly how this would scale up from an individual to a business.

If I really, really love XYZ Corporation, and I think they're the best thing since flying cars, I might randomly say to a friend, "Hey, you ought to check out XYZ Corporation!" But if I'm a person working in a corporate environment, how does that scale up? If I'm in charge of Spacely Sprockets' contracts, do I call up my counterpart at Cogswell's Cogs and say, "Hey, we've gotten excellent customer service at XYZ, and we think you should use them, too!" If they call me (Why would they?) and ask, would I tell them?

You see my confusion, I hope.

When I see that question, I always think to myself, "Well, no. I don't go around annoying my friends and family by shoving unwanted recommendations in their faces." Or I might think, "Well, if someone were to ask me what company I use for whatever service XYZ is providing, I might say, 'I use XYZ.'"

The best score I ever give on those questions is whatever means "Neither likely nor unlikely." I guess it's because I have always interpreted the question . . . oddly? I'm certainly not an evangelist, I don't hate them or I wouldn't do business with them. But I'm not going to say I'm likely if I'm not. So if the companies whose surveys I'm answering are paying as much attention as my company claims to, I'm coming across as a hater, when all I really mean is, "If they ask, sure."

I'm curious if I'm the only one that interprets it that way. I'm also curious if the companies you work for take it as seriously. And lastly, I'm curious if it surprises you that they do take it seriously. I always thought it was a throw-away question.

As an aside, the guy making the presentation said they send out one of these surveys to every customer of ours, and we get back approximately 13% of them. That doesn't surprise me at all. :)
kaasirpent: (Bad Idea)
Friday, May 3rd, 2013 12:06 pm
Got to work a little late, today, and parked right next to someone else also just arriving. She got her stuff together before I did and went into the building. When I arrived a minute later, she was signing in. So an employee, but not one who normally works out of this site.

Got on the elevator with her and she asked, "Which floor?" I said, "Four," and she pressed the button. I thought she looked vaguely familiar.

Then she asked how I liked the new floor. (Two floors of the building have been redesigned recently. The color scheme is . . . bright. Like someone fellated a box of Crayola and then used the result to paint our walls.)

It's Friday. I had a rough night (leg cramps; long story). Without considering, I said, "Well, it's there. I mean, the colors are kind of bright, but I guess I'll get used to them eventually."

And then she said, "Those are ICARE colors."

A small digression. ICARE is my company's "Shared Principles." It stands for Integrity, Customer-First, Accountability, Respect, Excellence. We are constantly bombarded with it. It's painted on the wall across from our elevators. It's on our intranet. It's on our web site. It's integral to our annual self-assessments. I had just, you know . . . never noticed that there were colors associated with it. End digression.

So, it was at that point that I realized I was talking to Someone Important™. It was at that point that I finally realized why she looked vaguely familiar. She's one of the vice presidents.

Heh heh. Whoops?

But then, she said, "When we" -- don't think I didn't notice the presence of this word; I did -- "were selecting the color scheme, I thought it looked like someone spilled a bag of Skittles and said, 'Oh, there's our color palette right there!'"

We laughed. Then another higher-up (only three layers above me in the organization) got on the elevator and he and she talked. She bade me to 'have a good day!' as I left the elevator on the fourth floor.

I can only hope she didn't see my badge. Which I was wearing, prominently, in plain sight, name in a nice, bold font.

Heh. Heh heh. Heh?

I guess I should be really glad that I didn't blurt out what I've been calling the office on my Facebook page: Romper Room.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Thursday, March 15th, 2012 02:27 pm
I went into the bathroom to wash my hands after lunch, and guess what? They've removed the delay on the towel dispenser and they've also fixed it where it dispenses 8 or 9 inches of towel rather than 4.

kaasirpent: (Work)
Friday, March 9th, 2012 01:41 pm
Hi! I've been really busy at work, which maybe you could tell because I haven't posted anything for about two months. And it's been longer than that since I had a good rant. But I'm sort of back, now. And I'm going straight into the toilet.


At work, I'm on the second floor of five (and a ground floor, so technically, it's the third floor of six) with all the other software developer-types, our managers, QA, their managers, project developers and managers (and their management), and who knows what else. There are a lot of us packed like sardines into 5' x 8' cubes.

And in the bathroom, when we wave our hands in front of the towel dispenser to get a towel, it gives four inches of towel and then makes you wait a full ten seconds or so before you can get another four inches of towel. This is a recent change that has not gone unnoticed.

It's very annoying, because now, guys stand there and drip (their hands, people; get your minds out of the gutter) while waiting for the tiny paper towel, which does nothing but smear the water around because it's too small to dry anything larger than a field mouse (again, hands, people).

I was recently on the fifth floor. Up in the "penthouse" where the guys with seven-digit salaries dwell. There are probably 1/6 as many of them as there are of us on the second floor. And their towel dispenser has no delay. And it gives a glorious eight full inches. Of towel. (Mind, gutter, out of.)

I was in the bathroom on the second floor washing my hands and there were three of us in there waiting to get towels, dripping water onto the floor and bitching about the inadequate towel dispensage.

One of the guys suggested with a wry laugh that it must have been one of the more successful outcomes of our highly vaunted Six Sigma project. Surely, we were using too many paper towels, so the obvious solution to cut costs would be to limit our per-tear towel use and our per-minute consumption rate of said towels by making it so inconvenient that we would merely resort to wiping our hands on our pants and leaving in disgust.

Instead, what it has done is caused the floor to be dangerously slick because, when we can't get towels, some people sling the water off onto the floor, walls, or counters around the sink. And some guys just don't wash their hands at all, which increases the likelihood of horrible things being on every surface.

And instead of getting a single eight-inch towel, we're now having to get three four-inch towels (do the math). And it takes longer to get them.

We spend longer away from our desks. There is probably an increased rate of no hand-washing. As a result of that, there is an increase in towel usage because now people have to get a towel to open the door of the bathroom before they leave. Water is everywhere, which increases how often the janitorial service has to clean up. And employees are grousing about it instead of just washing our hands and quickly vacating the bathroom.

Great jobs, management. Truly.

And yeah, the manager-type who suggested the Six Sigma tie-in was joking . . . but the more I think about it, the less funny it is, because I'll bet you someone somewhere did have a meeting about it.

My solution? I'll just take the elevator up to the fifth floor and use their bathroom. Then I can waste energy as well as towels.

kaasirpent: (Work)
Monday, August 1st, 2011 11:24 am
An email from corporate.
Dear [Company] Employees:

Your feedback via recent employee surveys and your representation on the [Company's] Employee Opinion Survey Committee (EOSC) recognized that Work-Life balance is a critical area that is of concern for many employees. In response to this feedback we launched Core Hours1 late last year. We are now prepared to launch the [Company] Telecommuting Trial. We will move forward to expand the availability of telecommuting as an option for more employees utilizing a maximum of 2 days a week through the program trial period, which will be the remainder of FY12 (through March 2012). As we head into FY13 we will assess the success of the program and determine how we move forward as an organization.

[Our] leadership understands the need to continue to leverage the power of technology to enable a more flexible work environment that includes workspace outside of the traditional office setting and thus provides an increased opportunity for employees to manage issues pertaining to work-life balance, as well as work productivity. It is critical throughout this trial that the focus on data security and data integrity is maintained at the highest level whether working in the office or outside of the workplace.

The [Corporate] telecommuting policy will be trialed [sic] across the [entire company] organization. Employees that are approved, based [on] role eligibility and performance, will have the opportunity to work from home one to two days a week on an individual 90-day trial basis, with continued ongoing renewal opportunity based on manager approval.

Eligibilty [sic] for participating in the telecommuting trial includes :
  • Working in a role eligible for telecommuting [Check!]

  • Currently maintain a 3 or higher performance rating [Checkaroonie!]

  • Having an appropriate workspace and work environment outside of the office to conduct your work. [ . . . well, crap.]

  • Gaining management approval for participating in the trial [Not that it matters at this point, but check, I suppose.]

  • Having proper company-provided hardware and software to ensure data security [Sure. Whatever. Check. Like it matters.]
I was golden right up to the 'Having an appropriate workspace and work environment' part. Damn you, HVAC! DAMN YOU TO HELL!

Ah, well. Maybe when the ambient outdoor temperature falls enough that it's not 85°F in my home office during the day. <sigh>2

  1. Core Hours means that the majority of employees should schedule their work day to be onsite during the hours between 9:30 and 4:30 so that groups who work together on projects and such are guaranteed 7 hours of overlapping time. It's supposed to keep people from coming in at 6 and leaving at 2:00 (unless the whole group does, mind you) or coming in at 10 and leaving at 6:00 (again, unless the whole group does it).
  2. I have a window-unit. During the day, it struggles to keep it at 80 running full blast. My HVAC has been running 24/7 since June, and at night, it's quite comfortable in the house. During the day? Not so much.3
  3. Note: In my office, where I am now sitting, it is a comfortable 72 to 74 degrees, depending on the time of day and the ambient outside temperature. Unfortunately, they turn off the AC at 7:00 PM and on weekends, and . . . it's no longer a comfortable 72 to 74 degrees. Which isn't normally an issue, except I've been working long hours lately.
kaasirpent: (Good Idea)
Friday, March 25th, 2011 04:48 pm


I have two laptops. I have The Shiny, and I have the most leatherific bag to tote it around in. It is, in fact, one of these, here. I mean, it is not physically possible for me to love it more than I do. (I even referred to it in the past as The Leather.)

I also, of course, have a BookBook, which I use when the other one is too bulky or if I just intend to carry it short distances.

At work, I have a Dell Precision M6500, which is also 17" (and henceforth, I shall refer to it as The Matte (Get it? Shiny? Matte? Oh, I slay me!). Which, of course, should not be confused with Matt. But I digress.

I have the nylon sleeve they gave me for The Matte, and I am sort of required by the nature of my job to bring it to work and take it home with me. Oh, and not lose it. They were very specific on that point . . .

On top of all that, I have a leather backpack from Wilson's Leather that is not altogether unlike this one, here. I use it for everything from accessories for the computers to books I'm reading, gaming supplies, and during Dragon*Con, I live out of it during the day. I shall call it The Backpack.


Since I have to bring The Matte with me, and I like to have The Shiny with me in case I need to work on something personal (like writing) during work hours, and I use The Backpack to carry other things I might need, I end up coming to work every morning with The Backpack strapped to my back, The Shiny in The Leather over my left shoulder and neck, and The Matte in its nylon sleeve over my right shoulder and neck.

In short, it cuts off circulation to my brain. :) And it's unwieldy trying to walk through the narrow gaps in the parking lot laden like a native guide in a 1940s "safari to deepest, darkest Africa" movie, in which the unlikely pair of usually pasty and annoyingly upperclass white protagonists with fakey-fakey "mid-Atlantic" accents that talk too fast insist on bringing a full bone china tea service—complete with tea cozy—out into the bush so they can "take tea" on the veldt whilst badly integrated, early green-screened lions stalk and kill equally badly integrated, early green-screened zebras or wildebeests in the background, and you ask yourself, "Why doesn't M!buk!u the native guide just break the tea set and leave bwana and bwanette to get their own damned tea?"

<sigh> Where was I? Oh, right.


I'd really, really, really like a rolling bag that would securely hold both The Shiny and The Matte and have room for the other junk in The Backpack.

Now, The Shiny is thin and light without The Leather. The Matte is . . . well, not. It's a lot heavier, and the power cord and such aren't designed to fit in the sleeve that comes with it. I leave those home, anyway, since there were two sets. But if I'm traveling . . .

Searching online for "dual laptop bags" or "bag to hold two laptops," I run into . . . pretty much nothing. There doesn't seem to be anyone out there, anywhere, that makes something like what I want. To wit: something wheeled and big enough to hold two 17" laptops and accessories. That isn't the size of a Hum-V and twice as expensive. (I mean, there's the Saddleback Leather Duffel Overnight Bag, which I'm practically drooling over, but at nearly $600, it seems a bit overblown, especially considering I'd need to get a couple of sleeves to put the laptops in (probably not this, since that's another $75, each) to make sure they don't jostle around too much.)

So I ask The Hivemind (I'm going to stop doing that, now): Do you know of a suitable rolling bag that is sizable enough to carry all this stuff, doesn't cost a fortune, and won't disintegrate the first time it's used? (You'd likely be shocked by how many things do.)

I'm more interested in things you've actually used/seen than in you doing the same Google search I did and finding the same links I did, without much useful information on exactly how much will fit into the thing. Let's assume that I know how to use Google and that I've done so rather exhaustively. :)

I prefer leather (Really? Shocking . . . ), but any material will do if it's good quality.

I seldom fly, so the whole 'will it fit in an overhead bin or underneath an airline seat' thing is not really a concern for me. Nor is making it easy for TSA to search the bag.

And, since one person I mentioned this to went on at some length about how I should "just" get my IT department at work to image my work laptop and use The Shiny to run a virtual Windows XP, thereby eliminating the need for two computers . . . that isn't really an option. For either me or the IT group here.

I'll be visiting various stores and looking in person, too, of course. And probably drool some more over Saddleback's products. But if you have any recommendations, do let me know. :)
kaasirpent: (Input!)
Thursday, August 12th, 2010 01:06 pm
I was just talking to a friend of mine ([livejournal.com profile] bigmeanie, to be precise) about this and I was wondering if we're just weird1 or if others have this same hang-up.

When I'm at home, I drink pretty much nothing but water, whether from the tap or filtered through my refrigerator's filter. Usually at least one fairly large (~25 oz) glass every night, if not two of them.2

But the minute I get to work, I have to have something flavored. I try to drink water, here, but it just doesn't "take." I take a few sips, but then I'm downstairs getting tea or soda. And I've tried both the stuff straight from the tap and from the water coolers, which is bottled. Same thing. I drink a few sips, then I want something with flavor. It has nothing to do with caffeine, or at least I'm fairly sure it doesn't. Orange juice, Sprite, lemonade, or V-8 works just fine. As long as it has flavor.

When I'm at my mother's house in Eutaw, I drink record-breaking amounts of soda (Coke Zero), but I don't count that because I've seen what's in the water in Eutaw. Seriously, you do not want to know. I wish to hell I didn't. <shudder> Anyway, that shouldn't be a problem once she's moved to Wetumpka.

So, I was just wondering: Do any of the rest of you have this same "hang-up"? If so, do you have any idea why?

  1. Speaking solely for myself (I take no responsibility for [livejournal.com profile] bigmeanie's weirdness factor, one way or the other), I may be weird for other reasons, but for the purposes of this post, I'm referring in specific to the topic outlined below. Keep reading. :)
  2. Not counting the one(s) Matt simply must taste and/or turn over.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Thursday, May 14th, 2009 12:49 pm
My company is on a "green" kick. They've removed 1/3 of the fluorescent bulbs from all the fixtures (each fixture has three bulbs, or did). Issued all of us mugs and plastic cups so they could quit making Styrofoam cups available for our free sodas. Bought all of us little blue trash cans for recyclables.

And with that last item—the blue cans—came a "Commercial Recycling Tips" handout. It has two columns on it: Do Recycle and Don't Recycle.

Items in the Don't Recycle column are:
Food waste (leftovers) [What, no compost heap in the corner of the parking lot?]
Paper towels
Plastic wrapping
Dirty aluminum foil
And I'm fine with all of those. But here's where it takes a turn toward the surreal:
Wood or lumber
Light bulbs
Paint or hazardous waste

Methinks they copied this, unedited, from a handout aimed at people other than cube-farm dwellers.

Of course, now what am I going to do with all these carpet scraps, lumber, burnt-out light bulbs, broken mirrors, old paint, and depleted uranium that I've been saving up for the express purpose of recycling them?
kaasirpent: (Evil)
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 02:19 pm

A group of us developers just had a meeting in Scott's office during which he talked to us about the wonders of a free reporting tool he discovered called Jasper. And it is used in Java.

For 45 minutes, he talked about Java.

Which put Manhattan Transfer's Java Jive in my head.

I'll admit that this next part was patently stupid in my part, but I sent him an email and told him that I was susceptible to stuck songs and that "Java Jive" was his fault.

His reply:
You shouldn't have told me that.

Remember the Oompa Loompa song from Willy Wonka?
To which I replied:
You're right. I should think about admissions like that before putting them in print.

I have my headphones on, now. :)
His next reply:
There are a slew of songs I could throw at you...
Of course, I only made it worse, because I continue to be stupid, today:
I'm not sure you could do worse than some of the things I inflict on myself. There were 13 days in 2006 that I had "Dance With Me" by Orleans running through my mind during every waking moment. Last Saturday, it was TV theme songs. I honestly had no idea I even knew the theme to that many TV shows.
His next reply, which arrived just as I was about to submit this:
Dancing Queen by ABBA

You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen
Why do I get the feeling I'm going to live to regret this?
kaasirpent: (Curious)
Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 07:20 pm
I was talking to !evil Phil today, and something brought up a snafu that went on at the steel mill back when I first started (which, I would like to stress, is not where I work now, nor do !evil Phil or [livejournal.com profile] craftsman). I would like to find out from any of you who have accounting experience or background if you can explain to me without using magic, smoke, mirrors, or a curare-laden dart how the decision they made makes any sense.

This was 1990. We had a PR1ME 9755 mainframe that was running the (in-house-developed1) order entry, shipping, and financial software at the mill; and two VAX 3800 mini computers that we had purchased for the express purpose of running the Ross Financial software that our VP of finance (Dave) just had to have.2 And since we have this great new hardware, why not use it for other stuff?3 So, the idea was to get the data in the databases on the PR1ME to the VAX, because the PR1ME was going to be retired Any Day Now™.4

The mill Information Systems department consisted of !evil Phil, who at the time had a Bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Alabama and was working on his Master's. We also had [livejournal.com profile] craftsman who was nearing graduation from the University of Alabama with his Bachelor's degree in computer science. I had come on board as well with my undergrad degree from the University of Alabama in computer science, and had stopped a few hours short of a Master's degree in same (severe burn-out, if you're curious). Our boss was an Electrical Engineer-type. His boss was the president of the company, Mike Austin.

Our solution (as suggested by !evil Phil) was to spend about $8000 on an Ethernet card and TCP/IP stack for the PR1ME and FTP the data over to the VAX.

"Egad, no!" they shrieked. "That's throwing money away! The PR1ME is going away any day now, and the VAX cost us too much money to abandon! If we spend anything at all, it has to be on the VAX!"

Here's what they actually ended up doing.

They got this guy from Tippins, one of the parent companies of the mill, to come in and use his Years of Experience™ on the PR1ME. His name was Frank. Frank was self-trained on computers. He started as a blue-collar out in a mill somewhere in Pennsylvania and worked his way up to a white collar and an office. I say more power to him, really. He unarguably knew more about the PR1ME and its screwy operating system (PRIMOS) than did any of us. And none of us wanted to know more than we did.

They also found these two guys who were named Ralph and Avi. I don't remember much about them except that I believe one of them started life as a literature major and the other got his degree from some sort of diploma mill. But they were from Pennsylvania and were therefore Much More Smarterer Than Any Southern Bumpkin™. They paid Ralph and Avi $40,000 in advance for what I'm about to describe.

The company purchased a $3000 9-track tape drive for the VAX 3800. The PR1ME already had one. The idea was that Ralph and Avi and Frank would use their <echo chamber>Vast Powers of Expertise!!!</echo chamber> to copy the data from the PR1ME onto the VAX using the two tape drives and countless 9-track tapes.

Let me pause here to describe the tape drives for those of you too young or too lucky to know what a 9-track tape is. Remember those old TV shows and movies where every time you'd see computers, it'd be a room full of huge, gray consoles with blinky lights, bespectacled people standing around in lab coats with clipboards, and on every blinky-light console there'd be tapes spinning back and forth? Those are 9-track tapes. They're enormous and they're not light. And a 1G USB thumb-drive would probably hold an entire room's worth of those tapes. The drives themselves were a bit smaller than refrigerators and about as cumbersome. But back to my narrative.

So...copy the data from the databases on the PR1ME to CSV files onto tape, load that onto the VAX, and in a few hours we're good to go, right?


Oh, no. No, no, no.

Here was Frank's, Ralph's, and Avi's brilliant plan. Prepare to be stunned by the brilliance. Are you prepared for the brilliance? Because you really should. Seriously. You might get hurt. Don't say I didn't warn you. Here comes the brilliance.

<Brilliance>We take the database on the PR1ME, and let's say it had 20 columns of data (it had many more, but let's stick with 20 for illustrative reasons). That data might be anything from a single-bit boolean to an 80-character string. Their—brilliant!—idea was to take each column (we called them "fields") of this database and write it to another database that had just one 200-character string column.</Brilliance>

So, the value of every column of each row of the original database becomes a single row of the new database, and takes up 200 characters of space, even if it was just an integer or a boolean/bit originally. So a 1000-row database of 20 columns expands to a 20,000 row database of one column, each one guaranteed to be 200 characters wide.

<understatement>Needless to say, this vastly expanded the data.</understatement> Instead of compressing the data, Frank, Ralph and Avi bloated it. And wrote this on tapes. Well, Frank did. He was the PR1ME guy, after all. And I'm sure his code was actually pretty tight. Frank actually did know what he was doing, up to a point.5

Now. It was our jobs—mine, !evil Phil's, and [livejournal.com profile] craftsman's—to babysit the tape transfer. 24x7 for what I'm told was a week, but seems like a lot longer in my memory. We worked shifts so someone would be there at all times, just letting a tape fill up on one system and then moving the tape to the other and starting the process of loading it. We were all zombies for the entire thing.

Meanwhile, in another part of the mill, Ralph and Avi had logins on the VAX 3800. It was their jobs to take the data Frank wrote to the tapes and extract it and put it in a corresponding database on the VAX.

Let me belabor this point: their task was to write a program that basically read a single record of 200 characters off tape, convert that into its original data type, and insert that into the proper column and row of a new table. Simple loop, right?


Oh, no. No, no, no.

Ralph and Avi—who I must repeat at this point had already been paid $40,000—wrote a series of batch files that explicitly extracted this data from tape one column at a time. They repeated the same lines of code millions upon millions of times, but with different column names and such. And if they made a typo 200,000 lines into the batch file (I'm not joking—one of their batch files was 1 million lines long), it took hours to page down to that point, make the correction, and then start the file from that point, after repositioning the 9-track tape, as well, so it could resume reading at the point where it left off.

!Evil Phil even took a look at what they were doing at one point and suggested loops, but Ralph and Avi—who had already been paid $40,000 and who were The Experts on the VAX™—knew better, and disdained the use of loops.

The three people who actually knew what the hell we were talking about were patted condescendingly on the head and told to just be nice little tape-swap-monkeys and not make trouble by talking about things we didn't know and couldn't possibly comprehend by two overpaid yahoos with about as much programming skill as a stale marshmallow peep. And the mill backed up Ralph and Avi. See, they had already paid them $40,000, so their opinions must be right. Because if they weren't experts, they wouldn't have paid them $40,000 in advance, right?


So, here's my question to the accountant-types or any of you who operate in the world of finance at a level far beyond that of li'l ol' me: can you make me understand how spending $8000 on hardware and using other existing hardware, software, and personnel to accomplish task A in, let's say two weeks, is "throwing money away," but spending $3000 on new hardware, bringing in a consultant from the parent company and having him waste his time, and hiring two outside consultants for $40,000 to waste a week of three mill employees' time needlessly flipping tapes is reasonable?

Oh! Oh! I forgot the best part. Take your explanation you were going to hit me with from the question I just asked and now factor this in: right after we finished the entire task of flipping tapes, running millions of loopless lines of code, and working 24x7 shifts...after spending $40,000 on two consultants, bringing in a PR1ME expert from the parent company, and spending $3000 on a new tape drive for the VAX...they canceled the project.

Yep. The entire thing was thrown out.

Does that change your answer?

  1. At one of our parent companies, Tippins, I believe.
  2. Dave paid DEC something like $60,000 for a study and they (of course!) recommended Ross Financials because it ran on VAX computers and was The Best Financial Software In the Known Universe™. So we bought the VAX 3800s ($250,000) and Ross ($500,000), but we never could get Ross to work on it; that would have cost an extra $400,000 for implementation. This is where they finally balked.
  3. There was a push to use PathWorks on the VAX computers as the main repository for all user data, including the Windows 3.0 diskless desktop workstations, but !evil Phil and [livejournal.com profile] craftsman were able to demonstrate that Novell blew PathWorks and the VAX away on speed and reliability and we were spared that indignity. They wanted to use that hardware they'd invested so much in.
  4. The PR1ME was decommissioned in 1998 or so.
  5. So after Dan "resigned" and Frank became our boss, he wanted to try to find something to replace Ross and the PR1ME software. So he paid DEC (we have these VAX computers we aren't using, and why waste the investment?) another $50,000 for another study to find software that would not only do financial stuff, but order entry and shipping and all that stuff. DEC recommended RollCIM, which was another $450,000, plus, I believe, $288,000 for "minor changes" to match our exact spec. But RollCIM was too much of a HAWG to run on our puny VAX 3800's, so we bought four VAX 6000's and a number of VAX 3100's to use as desktop machines for the IS Department. Then, it was determined that RollCIM needed more work to make it compliant with our spec. And more. And more. So about 7 years later and more than $1.5 million into the "minor changes" to RollCIM, I left the company, having never seen RollCIM work as advertised. The mill also ended up getting the latest version of Ross to run payroll, which required another new VAX. That was about 3 years before I left.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Wednesday, November 1st, 2006 12:04 pm

Update to Orleans Crisis

I can't stop this feeling
Deep inside of me.
Girl, you just don't realize
What you do to me.

When you hold me
In your arms so tight,
You let me know,
Everything's alright, ah-ah-ah-ah-ah

I'm hooked on a feeling,
I'm high on believing,
That you're in love with me.

Lips as sweet as candy.
Their taste stays on my mind.
Girl, you keep me thirsty for another cup of wine.
The funny part is that I'm hearing B. J. Thomas singing it, but it's pure David Hasselhoff dancing (flying, dog-sledding...oy) in my head. Tempt me and I'll post the link to the Google Video and you, too, can be afflicted enjoy it with me.

Then, that morphs into "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon because of the similarity in the lyrics "I can't fight this feeling" and "I can't stop this feeling".

At least it's better than "Dance With Me." Marginally. :)

Location, Location, Location!

Well, I finally got an "office" of my own. Which is to say, they moved me out of the office and into a cube in the other building. So I no longer have an office-mate, but soon I will have 30 or 40 really close neighbors. *sigh* Back to Ivex/CareerBuilder days.

And when I say "they" moved me, I mean that I moved me. I didn't know what their schedule was like, so I decided to pick the part of my day to interrupt and packed all my shit in two boxes (I'm traveling light until I know for certain where we'll end up) and used a little cart to move myself. Computer works and everything. No phone, though. (Oh, darn! :)

This cube is temporary, so I'm not even going to settle in, but I DID trade up for a better chair. One of the advantages of being the third person to move (two others moved themselves, as well) is that we all scavenged all the other cubes for all the best stuff. :) I have a clean whiteboard with pens and eraser! I have keys for my desk drawers (because I stole drawers that had keys)! I have an inbox and an outbox (because I stole them from another cube)! I have a trash can (because I stole it from another cube)! And I have one of the better chairs (because...oh, you see the pattern). It squeaks, though. I'll have to remember to WD-40 the sucker.

Here's the thing about this whole move: When Per-Sé bought NDC Health last year, NDC Health owned these two buildings. Free and clear. Then, Per-Sé took over, sold the buildings, then leased one of them back from the company to which it was sold. I don't pretend to understand corporate accounting games, but to me that seems batshit insane1.

So they're moving, I think, two groups over here today. They decided to move everyone and seat them in "functional" groups. So my team lead Sherri and all my teammates will be in adjacent cubes (Sherri gets the window cube, dammit), and there's an empty (window) cube which may eventually have our very own, dedicated QA person in it. I haven't heard exactly who's going in there, but for now, they're keeping all of QA together. Who knows? It may become a printer cube for all I know.

And now a question

I may have asked this before, but I can't find the reference if I did, so I'll ask it again: If you have a friend/acquaintance whose office or house you've never seen--but which you have a mental image of in some way--who then moves, do you adjust your mental image of where they now live/work, even though you've never seen either place? I'm curious. :)

For the record, I do. :)

For those of you that do, I'm in a cube roughly 6' × 8' with cream & dark mauve cloth-paneled walls (parts of which I stole from other cubes!). The chair matches the dark mauve panels. The overhead cabinets (one of which I stole from another cube) have cloth doors that are burgundy colored. There. Build your mental image around that. :)
1  This is my new favorite phrase. I will be using it often. Get used to it. :)
kaasirpent: (Work)
Saturday, September 16th, 2006 09:59 pm
Well, work finally did it--they blocked access to LiveJournal, among many other sites (Amazon is among them, which makes no sense, and NetFlix isn't, which also boggles).

But that has nothing to do with the urge to kill. It merely explains why I'm making this, a work-related post, on a Saturday. :) (The cut-off of non-work sites has been expected and anticipated, so is frustrating and annoying, but not urge-to-kill-producing.)

No, this post is about my current project. And specifically, the woman (we'll call her "Roz" (those of you who've seen 9 to 5 have the appropriate picture in your head, right now)) who is the project lead.

I was tagged to come to a meeting about this project a couple of weeks ago. There were about 8 people in the meeting, and it was the first time I'd met Roz. I'd seen her around, of course. She works four doors down from me, but we're in different departments, so we'd never formally met. Immediately, I noticed that every time Roz opened her mouth to talk, everyone in the room rolled their eyes or smiled indulgently or sighed silently. I wondered why.

In the second meeting, it was the same thing. I was, however, beginning to get a clue. Roz is...panic-driven. She is one of those types for whom every little thing is a world-ending disaster. She is also one of those types that has to have everything planned out to the molecular level. And--this is the kicker--she needs and sort of demands constant feedback-style reassurance.

Dear. Mother. Of. God.

She blusters into my office about 5 times per day and starts out with "I just wanted to get you up to speed with where I am..." and then proceeds to talk rapidly with her back turned to me as she draws illegibly on our white board while my officemate and I exchange eye-rolls. Everything is a disaster. Then, she'll ask me about where I am, and I'll show her, and she's very impressed with my progress. Then, she'll say, "Do you think we're making progress?" And this is where I'm supposed to reassure her that we are. This is every time she shows up in our office. Carl (my officemate) is about tired of it. He has, in fact, started to just leave whenever he sees her coming down the hall. Roz has her own office. And we have email. And phones. And, Monday, I'm getting the company-approved IM software installed on my machine by some drone from IT (because I'm too stupid to install software by myself). Does/will any of that stop her? I sincerely doubt it.

We're the only two people on the team (I did not know this going in--I thought at least 3 of the other people from those first two meetings were going to be in with us). The deadline is some time in November, so we have to have it to QA some time in October.

The project requires us to learn C# 2.0, ASP.NET 2.0, and MySQL. The MySQL tools are...not stable. I'll just state that for the record. I've been having this problem with it that's causing me difficulties in learning it because every time I type a minus sign (hyphen) (-) in the query editor, it hangs the program, which then pegs the CPU at 100% until I kill it. So I can't use negative numbers or subtraction. Oy. Roz, of course, panics when I tell her this, and comes down to my office and starts making bizarre pronouncements. "It's a syntax error," she confidently states. Um...if the program freaks every time I type a hyphen, that is not a syntax error. I could see the panic in her eyes Friday when I showed her it didn't matter where I typed the hyphen or under what circumstances. Her hands were practically shaking. I reassured her that I would figure it out and that I needed to go. I've left early (by a half-hour or so: nothing major) every day this week because I just can't take it.

She came down one day this week and asked to see where I was at, and I showed her that I had it basically done, and was working on the CSS stylesheets to get the colors and such like we wanted them. She panicked and basically said that I shouldn't be working on that kind of stuff, and should be doing content, not style. I nodded, smiled, and continued working on what I was working on. Later in the week, she calls me down to her office after she's spent most of a day integrating my stuff with hers. She has changed colors and alignments and all kinds of things, basically rendering everything I did useless. And I keep having to tell her that we should be more worried about how the code works than how it looks. And she doesn't seem to realize I'm feeding her own words back to her. It'll take me a few hours to fix it when I get it all back from her. I also had to stop her from doing work that we put off until Phase II of the project.

She also grossly overestimates how hard everything has been, to date. I was given...6 days to do the Master Page and Navigation. It took me all of 5 hours. And that included the aforementioned CSS Stylesheets. The rest of that time was spent reading C# 2.0 and ASP.NET 2.0 and MySQL manuals. I have 11 days to do "logging" (HIPAA requires us to log every time a user access any PHI). But that will require me to have access to the databases and the ability to create stored procedures, which she is not giving me because she seems to think that because I don't know MySQL, I don't understand that I shouldn't just cavalierly drop databases or insert columns or something. I'll get access to everything next week after we have all the code in some non-VSS source-code repository I don't have access to because she has to upgrade the thing to the next version for some unknown reason, and another programmer won't let her do it until he's there to supervise. Meanwhile, I twiddle my thumbs and kill MySQL every time I forget and type a hyphen.

I'm eventually going to take a very large hammer and stave in her skull. Watch and see. You'll see it on the news. ATLANTA MAN GOES BERSERK, KILLS COWORKER. No jury will convict, though. My officemate can testify that she's enough to make the Pope say "Fuck!" Hell, even my boss has to rein her in during every meeting. She'll start to go off on some molecule-management freak-out and he'll say, "Roz! Let's concentrate on security right now, and we can worry about that, later." Or whatever. They'll thank me for doing them a favor. They will. Trust me.
kaasirpent: (Work)
Sunday, August 21st, 2005 04:53 am
The other day at work, between projects, I was ruminating on the fact that on-the-job training is often more valuable than any amount of classroom instruction. Because they never teach you what you really need to know in The Real World™ when you're in school. And what is it that you learn most about at work? Why, business, of course! I mean, who better to teach about business than successful businesspeople? I've worked for seven different...business entities1 over the years. I've learned different things from different places. And I want to share what I have learned so that you--and most of you are younger than I am--can benefit from my years of experience. Because I'm a helpful guy.

There is, in fact, so much wisdom to impart that I feel compelled to put it behind a cut, so as not to clutter your friends page very much (see "helpful guy" above). But you know you want to click. You know you do. Come on...

...do it )

I'd like to finish this by just saying that I sincerely wish I were making any of this up, but...I'm just not. These are real things I've learned on the job in the last 19 years.

Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] craftsman, feel free to add your own about the three places we've worked together. [livejournal.com profile] sifu_lewis, that goes for you, as well, for the two we've shared. And [livejournal.com profile] adsmguy, feel free to add yours to TSC. And [livejournal.com profile] telleestmavie, feel free to add your thoughts about being a GTA at the UofA. :) Share the pain knowledge!
1  I say it this way because three of them were at the University of Alabama, but were completely different departments.