Catching Up

It has been much too long since I’ve written here.  Part of the reason I haven’t written is because I’m  not good at short and sweet, to-the-point posts and so what ought to be a quick few minutes to write, ends up being a couple of hours to write, edit, read, preview and re-read, and re-edit a crazy long-winded post, and I just keep putting it off which only serves to make them longer.

I’m going to try to be brief with this post, though I make no promises…

I’m not even sure if I had decided on this when I wrote my last post, but I am now on vacation not to return to work until Monday, August 30, 2010.  I put in my request to my manager for my vacation and he approved it and then sent me an e-mail telling me that he wanted me to be very involved in this month-long event in September that would require me to do all my planning and purchasing and compiling in half the time that everyone else has to get ready, all the while dealing with the group who is actually hosting the event but didn’t want to share any of their information.  It came down to the wire, but I believe I have everything ready now…  I hope.  If not, I’ll have two days when I get back to work to take care of it.  No pressure there.

I decided to take this vacation, really a stay-cation, because I have been exhausted for weeks, staying up too late, having to get up early in the morning, and upon learning of this event, staying much too late at work.  My life has gotten out of kilter and I desperately needed to right it again, and with my class start date looming, I really wanted to get a handle on things before hand.

I never made it to the gym all of last week, with the pressure I had to have my work in order before my vacation.  I was surprised to see how much I missed that.  I have to admit that while there was so much pressure and trepidation about the locker room when I first started going during the day, I now enjoy it and having a break from my work while I take care of myself.  Except for last week, I have been more consistent with going to the gym since I started the mid-day routine than ever before.  And I even enjoy taking a shower in the locker room there.  It’s a refresher in the middle of the work-day and it’s liberating to have gotten over my fears.  (Plus it saves on my water bill at home.)

On Friday, I did finally take a little break from the work craziness to have coffee with my friend John (John H).  Saturday was laundry day and Sunday I hung out with Lil’B.  It was still rather chilly and I had designs on going to the movies.  We haven’t yet seen Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.  I’m a BIG kid and I love those kinds of movies so I’ve been looking forward to it since I saw the first previews.  When I arrived at Lil’B’s house I asked him what he wanted to do that day and he said, “Miniature Golf.”  Hmmm.  OK.

So we went to play miniature golf while I was dressed/prepared for a chilly movie theater.  Green “painters” pants (green pants with deliberately laid out paint spots on the front) and a black t-shirt.  The jean jacket got left in the car.  There was no sun screen.  One of these days I’ll learn to bring along the sun screen just in case.  The weather was actually quite nice where the mini-golf place was.

After I dropped Lil’B off, I went over to my friends John H and John M’s house.  I think it’s cute that they both are named John, but John H says they always know who is being addressed.  (I have to admit that I once had a passing crush on a guy named Kevin and thought it would’ve been funny if we’d ended up together.  Then again, I was also engaged to a girl named Kerri and she thought it was “too sweet” that we would be Kevin and Kerri.  She meant “too sweet” in a bad way.)  The John’s and I had a wonderful dinner of Baked Ziti and Sourdough bread with an incredible blueberry and cherry tart that “John threw together while I was in the shower,” John H told me.  I left at about 10:30 and called it a night.

One of my objectives for this time off work is to get my body clock back on a decent schedule.  If I plan to continue to go to the gym during the work day and still work 8-ish hours, I’ve got to do better about getting to work “on time-ish”, especially on class days.  So I wasn’t too dismayed by having scheduled DirecTV to come and install new service at my house “between 8 and noon” on Monday.  Much to Mischa’s dismay, I pretty much went straight to bed when I got home and got up at 7:30 Monday morning.  Not early enough, but it was a start.  I won’t spend too much time harping on this, but DirecTV quite successfully managed to turn me from being a big fan/major proponent of their service to a stark hater who will tell everyone I ever meet (where the subject comes up) NEVER TO USE DIRECTV SERVICES, EVAR!!

Very quickly, I was a DirecTV customer for 5 years and canceled my service 6 months ago in favor of AT&T U-verse because of cost.  I don’t really love the AT&T product and will still maintain that the actual product offered by DirecTV is better, but I will never use them again.  Three years ago when I moved into my current home, the same day as my downstairs neighbors in this duplex moved in, I had the DirecTV service installed.  My installer had been here and at work for about an hour before another installer showed up to do the installation for my downstairs neighbors.  The two installers made the determination that they could provide both of us with service using only one satellite dish and splitting the signal between the two units.  This made everyone (most of all, our landlady) happy.  I explained this set-up to the operator when I placed the order to re-instate my service and he said it was great.

When the installer showed up here on Monday, at 11:55 he informed me that he could not do this but instead he had to install a second dish on the house.  I told him that was not an option and he said he couldn’t do what I was asking.  After speaking with the installer, and his supervisor, via telephone, and then a dispatcher in his office, I got conflicting answers about code regulations and DirecTV policy (the installation company is a third party) and various other, conflicting and contradictory reasons.  Finally I called DirecTV directly and after explaining my situation six times and being told that they needed to transfer me to “The right department” I finally got one very pleasant young lady who took the time to investigate properly.  After 52 minutes on the phone with DirecTV I was informed that they absolutely can do what I’m asking them to do, but that it’s at the discretion of the installation tech whether he will do it.  The best advice she could give me was that I should call the installer back and tell them this.  I was waiting for a call from a supervisor from that company anyway and when it hadn’t come in over 90 minutes (I told them I needed a call “right away” about what they planned to do because “my entire day is now on hold waiting for you”) I called them again.

I called the install company back and was disconnected right after they answered the phone.  I called again and the phone rang twice and then there was nothing but static and crackling on the line.  I called a third time and got an answer but the person sounded like he was across the room from the phone and the static and crackling were still there.  I explained that I was expecting a call from the supervisor and he insisted on knowing what it was about before sending my information on.  I explained the information I had gotten from DirecTV to him and then he seemed to disappear for a moment.  When he came back I couldn’t understand what he was saying and the best I could come up with was that he was e-mailing the supervisor this information.  After giving the operator an earful about how horrible their service is, how terrible their phone system is and how they’re making me question my decision to come back to DirecTV I told him that I expected the call from the supervisor within one hour.  If I did not hear from him within one our I was going to cancel my order.

When one hour ended, I called DirecTV back for one sole purpose.  I explained my entire situation, yet again, to “the right person” and I explained to her that I was just about finished.  I told her that I was calling to cancel my order, but before I did, I wanted to give them one last-ditch opportunity to try to save my business, because based on my own experiences, I was of the opinion that DirecTV has the best product on the market and I had once been a satisfied DirecTV customer.  She confirmed that everything I had been told was true but that it is up to the install company whether they would do it.  She said that she could not order them to do the install the way I wanted.  I made it very clear that if they didn’t I was going to cancel my order and she wasn’t going to budge.  Finally, I said, “OK, well then let me give you my order number so you can cancel my order.”  Without a flinch, or a hint of apology, she said, “Sure!” and put me on hold.  A few minutes later she came back, told me the order was canceled and asked if there was anything else she could do for me.  I said, “No!  I’m just really disappointed to find that you don’t care any more than that to keep your customers.”  Again, without an apology she said, “OK, have a nice day.”

I guess that wasn’t so brief, but you know me, once I get started…

The one bright point to that story is that while I was waiting for the installer and arguing with the people on the phone, I also made a huge dent in the mess that is my apartment.  I went through a bunch of papers and disposed of what I could, separating the rest to be filed away (which I still need to do).   I did a little bit of organizing and putting stuff away.  I really made a good start.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get started again since.

Tuesday, I got up with a plan.  I was out of bed by 6:45.  I spent the morning, taking care of some computer stuff I needed to do, while mentally planning my day.  I was going to leave home by 10:30 to go to the gym, spend 45 minutes doing cardio, take a shower (I wanted to compare the locker room and showers to the gym by my office) and then head toward my therapists office in Berkeley for our 2:00 appointment, getting lunch along the way.  I got a late start leaving for the gym.  I was all ready to go when…  My coffee kicked in.  There are few things I hate more than pooping at the gym so I was late heading out.  I got to the gym at about 12:20 and by the time I found a locker, and unpacked my gym bag, I really only had about 20 minutes for my cardio before I had to take my shower.  I went back into the locker room at about 1:05 and was dressed and leaving the gym by 1:30.

When I got into the car, I noticed I had a voice mail on my cell phone.  It was Deb, wondering where I was since I was 15 minutes late for our 1:00 appointment.  I called her back, but of course there was no way I was going to arrive before our hour was up.  I mentioned something to her about how I had it at 1:00 in my calendar, but in my mind it was “at our regular time of 2:00.”  She pointed out that 1:00 is our regular time, which, of course, it is…  Vacation brain fart!  One hundred dollars down the drain.

I headed to Berkeley anyway, because I had other plans for after our appointment.  After a quick stop off at Taco Bell, I went to the tattoo shop where I got my last piece done to look through their books for inspiration and to ask about piercing.  They don’t do piercing and I didn’t find any inspiration in their books, but they did refer me to another tattoo shop a mile up the street that does piercing, and with only a minimal amount of trepidation, and after many months (years) of consideration, I had this done:

Somebody needs a shave!

The upper one.  Obviously my lobe has been done for a while.  They said this will take 2-3 months to heal, but once it does, I’ll replace the stud with some sort of hoop.  The piercing itself really didn’t hurt, despite what I’d been told by some.  It was a little more tender after I left the shop, a kind of delayed reaction, but that didn’t really last all that long and then it was fine.  It’s a little ouchy while doing the cleaning routine, but for the most part I can’t even feel it, unless I bump it accidentally (doesn’t even hurt to lie on it at night.  Even the back of the post doesn’t poke into my head, which I thought it would.)

Today, I–  Well, I ended up sort of wasting the day.  I got up at 6:30 and putted around the house for a while, taking care of social networking stuff and doing my daily Fish Wrangler tournament.  I watched an episode of Glee and then I headed out around 10:00 for a…  personal grooming appointment… followed by a small amount of shopping and lunch.  Even less shopping than I had planned since I had the good sense to check the status of my checking account before I spent too much money.

So that gets us all caught up.  Sorry my vacation stories aren’t more exciting….

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and, somehow, soak my ear in salt water (part of the cleaning regimen.)  This should be entertaining!

Apparently I’m Now A Pundit

It was never my intention for this blog to become a place for political ravings or even social commentary on the world around me, but sometimes things drop into my lap that just blow me away and I can’t seem to help myself; I must comment.

Yesterday I posted the new story about the twenty million dollar settlement that was reached between the hopelessly, cripplingly broke state of California and the family of a woman who was the unfortunate victim of a deranged sexual molester after she was taken from her family at the age of 12 and held captive for 18 years by a man who was neither the owner of, nor an employee of the hopelessly, cripplingly broke state of California.

Not one hour after I posted that unsolicited rant to my blog, this came to my attention:

Now, I can understand the thinking behind lowering employees salaries, temporarily, in the midst of a budgetary crisis.  I know it would suck, a lot, to be one of those 200,000 workers whose salary was suddenly and without warning cut by more than 75%, but I can understand the reasoning behind it.  But get this, Governor Schwarzenegger isn’t just cutting people’s salaries to minimum wage; oh no, he’s cutting it to the Federal Minimum Wage.  The Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 an hour.  In California, the state minimum wage is $8.00 an hour and there are many counties with a cost of living differential where the minimum wage is even higher.

This means that not only will we be paying our valuable state workers minimum wage, but we’ll be paying them even less money than the pimply faced teenagers sacking their groceries down at the Piggly Wiggly.  And if that weren’t insult enough, this news was announced on the same day that it was announced that the state is just going to hand over a $20,000,000 check to one individual who was victimized by one individual who was not acting on behalf of the state in any way!

At Least it’s Not A Cocktail

I’ve gotta write this quickly, ’cause in a minute I’m probably going to be sick!

After a much too short, glorious week last week, with my manager and the department secretary both off on vacation – presumably not together – they both returned to the office today and I’ve had a really shitty day.  I’m not particularly blaming it on the department secretary.  She hasn’t done anything wrong in particular.  Mostly it’s just the vibe in the office when everyone is present and accounted for.  The real problem though is my boss.

I’ve made no secret in the past about how he and I don’t really get along.  We don’t see eye to eye on much of anything and he talks down to me like I’m some sort of village idiot, when in reality, it is he who comes across like an idiot because he’s usually speaking a different language – figuratively – than the rest of us.  No matter what I say, he tells me I’m wrong.  He will literally sit there and agree with me and then tell me I’m wrong as if my being wrong is a for-gone conclusion, some sort of default position for him.

I can’t go into a whole lot of detail here, but there is something coming any day now, that is going to be a bad situation.  A year and a half ago, at about 1:30 in the morning, New Year’s Day, a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Officer shot a man in the back on a station platform, surrounded by witnesses.  The cop was white and the “victim” was black and the neighborhood where the shooting took place was very ethnic.  Several witnesses took cell phone video footage of the incident and the video plainly shows that the “victim” and his cohorts were being disruptive and resisting arrest.  The Police man and his partner were trying to subdue the rabble rousers and the officer claims that he was reaching for his taser when he inadvertently pulled his service revolver instead.  He shot the man at close range before he knew what had happened.

I am by no means suggesting this is not tragic and I suspect some sort of punitive action is required, however, I find it unlikely that it was the officer’s intent to murder the man, in cold blood, in a crowded area full of attentive witnesses.  I’m certain it was a mistake, a terrible, horrible mistake.

People being how they are, however, the hours that followed the funeral of the man in question turned into a chaotic, free-for-all riot, with looting and cars set on fire and the whole shebang.  At the time, my company, as well as several others in the affected area made the decision to close the offices and send everyone home for their safety.

The officer in question has been put on trial for murder and that trial is winding down this week.  I have personally been told by both an Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief and an Oakland Police Department Officer that regardless of the verdict, they expect wide spread civil unrest (read: rioting and destruction).  If the officer is found guilty of murder many people will riot in “celebration” and others in protest and if the officer is found not-guilty, well, the same thing will happen, only the parties will be reversed.

It is expected that the verdict will come this week; possibly as early as Wednesday, and in typical fashion, my employer is late to the party in planning a response.  I had a conversation with my boss today about what we were going to do and he couldn’t give me a definitive, clear-cut answer.

This is serious business we’re talking about here folks.  Very limited forewarning, the day of, and the possibility of having to “defend in place” meaning the building may have to go into Lock-Down and not allow anyone in or out of the building until the crisis passes.  As is par for the course, my boss couldn’t answer any questions about how we were going to handle things.  He couldn’t acknowledge that we aren’t prepared and that the powers that be aren’t handling things appropriately.  He just kept tossing out his usual, patented answers, “We’re just going to have to figure out a way to make it work” and “We just have to do it.”

He was pissing me off and it was apparent.  When he comes to me with some cock and bull request to paint a space in a way that doesn’t comply with our standards and I remind him of this, he tells me, “It’s for ‘senior leadership’ we just have to do it.”  I don’t like it, but I go along with it because the boss said do it  and at the end of the day, it’s not that critical.  When he made me create a financial document that wasn’t completely legitimate, I did it because he intimidated me into it and because I knew that the supporting documentation for it existed somewhere, if not in my possession.

But we’re not talking about questionable ethics of subverting policies here.  We’re talking about the safety and well-being of 2000 people under our care.  We’re talking about the safety and well-being of ourselves!  I want answers.  I want some assurances that when I come to work on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday – when I agree to put myself in harm’s way and be one of the last ones out of the building (assuming I can get out of the building) while making sure that all my “constituents” are getting to safety – I want to KNOW that my company has done everything in its power to make sure I’m safe and provided for.  And while I was trying to make this point abundantly clear to my boss, he sat there the exact same way he always does, not listening, telling me I’m wrong, and not addressing my concerns one iota.

It was a long, shitty day and by 4:00, I was ready for some shameful, emotional eating.  So I went to Starbucks for one of these:

While I worked on that, I walked across the street to CVS to look for some Shout Stain Removal Wipes to deal with the coffee I spilled on my shirt before I left.  Naturally, they didn’t have any.  That bummed me out more.  And then I saw these:

And then I saw these:

And I couldn’t make up my mind so I bought them both and have been munching ever since.

BUT!  At least it’s not a cocktail!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go.  I think I’m gonna be sick!