Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Me and My Mountain Laurel

Spring is officially here. I know because my mountain laurel is abloom. The flowers smell so sweet that it's almost overwhelming. It's totally covered in bees and butterflies this time of year. When you get close to it, you hear this weird humming. It freaked me out at first, but the bees are only interested in the flowers. I haven't been stung yet.

I planted it about 12 years ago. It came in one of those 1-gallon containers and was about a foot tall. Mountain laurels are supposedly slow growing, but this one seems to really like the sweltering heat that radiates off the pavement in August and has taken over that corner of the yard.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Good Things

Things are looking up around here.

- Snot production has slowed somewhat after peaking last weekend in the midst of a sinus infection. The antibiotics are doing their thing and I’m no longer taking a roll of toilet paper with me to work in my backpack so I can blow my nose 120 times a day. The office toilet paper is substandard and not suitable for bringing near one’s face. If I had any refinement, I would buy a box of “facial tissues” to keep at my desk, but I don’t, so there you are. Now I’m only blowing my nose 10 times a day.

- Office reassignments have been handed out since the cubeification cancellation fiasco. I’m going back into my old office WITH my old officemate! That’s very cool, because he and I get along really well, and also because he works at home about 80% of the time. So that means I have a window office to myself for most of the day. We could have asked for an office with a better view than the air-conditioning units, but we didn’t want to be greedy. No definite move date has been announced. We're being told the move will be "April-ish."

- My team released a new version of our software this week, and I managed to make it through the entire software release process WITHOUT crying at any time, including before, during, or after work.

But this is the best thing of all:

Wicked Stepmother™ surprised me with THREE bottles of my favorite cheap red wine from a winery in southern Indiana. I did my signature Happy Dance™ with the optional hand clap as soon as I saw the box, because I KNEW what it was. Isn’t she wonderful?? I’m slurping a glass of it even as I type. Life is good.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Record

For the past week, I’ve been suffering from an allergy attack of catastrophic proportions. The oak trees are copulating and the mold spores are traveling and they're all kicking my ass.

I don’t know how much snot one human body is capable of producing in a 24-hour period, but I’m pretty sure that I’m getting close to the record. Somebody call the Guinness Book of World Records people. I could be famous.

Yeah, I know I’m being gross. I don’t care. I feel like crap. Snot snot snot.

I finally gave in and saw my doctor yesterday. She prescribed an arsenal of antihistamines and decongestants. Today I can breath through my nose a little, and I sound a little less like Barry White. It’s progress.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cubeification Cancellation

Brought to you by the good folks at I love these guys. They’ve got a plethora of similar witty and hilarious cards, calendars, etc. that parody those uplifting, team building, motivational posters that cover the walls of corporate America. We’ve got them sprinkled through the hallways and conference rooms where I work. The parody version above, however, is more appropriate for our topic today, specifically, how dumb people are in groups.

First, the background. Remember a few months back, in this post, how I was whining about being moved out of the window office I had occupied for 16.5 years? My fellow window office dwellers and I were all moved downstairs into a rabbit warren/cave-like area, completely bereft of any natural light. (And, yes, I do think I’m developing a case of rickets, thankyouverymuch.) Anyway, since that time, the office space that we vacated has remained untouched, unrazed, unmodified in any way whatsoever. We were all thinking this was a little odd, since there had been such a rush to get us out of there. Hurry, hurry, out of the sunlight, into your caves! The cubes are coming! The cubes are coming!

Turns out we were right to be suspicious. An explanation came down this week to those of us at the peon™ level. The cubification is CANCELLED! That’s right. There will be no cubes! None, zip, nada. And guess what? We’re all moving back upstairs into the space that was vacated last fall.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking it too. Whaaa?

Apparently, nobody got around to adding up all the numbers until after my coworkers and I had been moved. But then somebody did add up all the numbers and figured out that moving us out of existing offices, and then spending thousands of dollars to tear out all the walls and buy cube walls with built-in modular furniture and rewire the entire freaking building WASN’T GOING TO SAVE ANY MONEY. I mean, of course, it certainly seemed like spending all that money for no obvious reason would have saved the company money in the long term, but it actually doesn’t. (slap self on forehead) How could that be??

Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t be happier that we’re not getting cubes and we get to move back into a space with some sunlight. But it seems to me that maybe someone should have looked at the big picture before any of this started. Did nobody think of this? Am I the only one who likes to have all the data before making a decision?? Hmm, maybe I could be a consultant.

Now the jockeying for space has begun. We’re not just moving back into the offices that we had. No, we’re making lemonade out of the pointless office moving. This is an excellent opportunity to “co-locate” teams. People who work on the same team will now have offices right next to each other instead of down the hall from each other. Just think of all the time that will save us. When I pick up my phone to call someone, the connection will happen at least a nanosecond or two faster on account of the shorter wires. Same goes for the email I send to everyone. And , oh how wonderful, I get to listen that one loudmouth all day every day instead of just in staff meetings. Boy, everything is going to be a lot better once we’re “co-located.”

So, nobody knows exactly which office anyone is getting. I imagine that all sorts of deals are being cut and bribes are changing hands, even as we speak. There’s no guarantee that I’ll even get a window office, but I’m hoping that my seniority plus my reputation for belligerence and occasional crying will sway whoever is making the decision and give me an edge.

And there’s one more little issue. Some genius decided to go ahead and sell all the office furniture in the vacated office space. Just before we moved, a memo was emailed around, telling us that we couldn’t take any of our furniture with us and there would be temporary furniture for us in our new space. It also said that that we should use the move as an “opportunity” to reduce the amount of stuff that we had.

I was skeptical of the “opportunity.” Plus, the phrase “temporary furniture” just doesn’t evoke the mental image of a comfortable work space.

I decided to raise a fuss and was allowed to keep my terminal table and office chair, so I’m OK. My desk is a bit rickety, but I only use it to store stacks of paper, so it’s not a big problem. Others, however, have a complete complement of the aforementioned “temporary” office furniture. The stuff is literally on the verge of collapse. See, they sold all the good furniture (that they could get something for), and kept the crappy furniture (that they couldn’t get anything for), in the belief that we would soon not need any of it. Which would have made sense if we were actually going to move into cubes. But since we’re not moving into cubes, selling all the furniture was, like, the second stupidest thing ever, right behind moving us out of offices and then moving us back into the same offices, which, I think you’ll agree, is the winner of the “stupidest thing ever” contest.

Now we’re all wondering if we have to keep the crappy furniture. Maybe they’ll issue everyone a roll of duct tape to keep the desks and chairs and shelves from falling apart? No, we’ll have to share the rolls, one for each team. I’m sure of it. Sigh.

On one positive note, I did get a 24-inch LCD monitor out of the whole cube fiasco. Nearly every CRT monitor in the building was replaced with a flat LCD monitor because of reduced space in the cubes. I’m putting that third on the “stupidest thing ever” list, but I’ll happily keep the monitor.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Those Shoes Redux

As suggested by em, I am posting a picture of the shoes. Guess which is which. Go ahead. Guess.

Those Shoes

I spent last weekend in Naples, Florida, visiting one half of my four parents. They had a condo for a couple of weeks and invited me down to spend the weekend.

I didn’t know it, but Naples is apparently a retirement mecca. I’m pretty sure I was the youngest person within a fifty mile radius of the city. There was tanned, wrinkled flesh as far as the eye could see, and everybody seemed to be from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. I’ve never been to a place where all the handicapped parking spots are always filled. Always! We went to a well-known restaurant in the city one evening, and, in a little pocket on the front of each menu, there was a little plastic MAGNIFYING GLASS! I am not making that up.

On Saturday, my Wicked Stepmother™ took me shopping on Fifth Avenue, which I guess is the shopping to end all shopping in that part of Florida. So I did what I’ve discovered works. I popped a Vicoden, put on my most comfy shoes, and we headed out.

It was fun. There were lots of sales, which makes things even more fun. Somehow it doesn’t hurt so much to pay $100 for a T-shirt if it was originally $250. No, I didn’t really pay $100 for a T-shirt, but I thought about it. It was 60% off! How could I pass up a bargain like that??

So about two thirds of the way down the street we walked into this little shop that was full of clear plastic shoes festooned with rhinestones and pink furry purses with beaded fringe and leather jackets adorned with sequined flamingos on the back and earrings that weighed five pounds. I started looking around and then some shop employee-type girl walks right up to me and says “You canNOT walk around on Fifth Avenue in Naples in THOSE shoes.”

And I just stared at her for a couple of seconds, blinking.

And then I burst out laughing. And then she laughed. And then my Wicked Stepmother™ laughed. And then all the other shop-girls laughed. Yes, we all had a good laugh at the expense of my shoes. Ha ha ha. Apparently, there was some sort of Fifth Avenue "shopping dress code" of which I was unaware. Maybe they should post it next to the street signs or something, so the riff-raff like me won’t be walking around looking unattractive and ruining the view for everyone else.

OK, so my shoes weren’t the most stylish shoes ever made. They were Tevas, similar to these:

Tevas were created, I think, by a river rafting guide. They’re very comfortable. They have Velcro straps, so you can adjust the sizing to fit your foot, and it’s perfectly OK to get them wet and dirty, because you can toss them in the washing mashine or give them a good scrubbing by hand and they’re good to go. There isn’t a finer, more practical, more versatile piece of footwear available on the market today. I love them.

I actually have three pairs. The oldest pair is usually reserved for anything that will get the shoes wet and/or dirty. Tevas are very durable, but they don’t look their best after two or three good scrubbings. So I like to keep a couple of newer pairs presentable enough to wear to work. I like to make sure those two are in different colors, one in blue or green, and the other in some neutral earth tone, so I can coordinate with whatever T-shirt I’m wearing to work that day.

I was wearing my newest pair on our shopping jaunt! The ones that haven’t been submerged in river water or encrusted with mud yet. The ones that still smell faintly of new rubber. The newest, nicest pair! And I was still insulted by a girl who sells shoes decorated with sequins and feathers.

I’m still marveling at her nerve. How did she know I wouldn’t take offense and smack her? Maybe she figured that anyone who would walk around in those shoes to begin with wouldn’t care what she thought. Maybe L. (aka Skiver) called ahead and had me ambushed. I know he hates to be seen in public with me wearing those shoes. Maybe he even paid her……hmmm.

Anyway, after all the initial laughter at my shoes, I mentioned that I was wearing the Tevas because they were so comfortable. The shop girl informed me that she could find me something comfortable that looked better than what I had on, and followed up her comment with an eye roll. And then everybody laughed again. Ha ha ha.

So, yeah, she sold me a pair of shoes that were indeed semi-comfortable. And, yeah, I wore them out of the store, at everyone’s insistence. But then I stopped at a bench about half a block down from the shop, put my Tevas back on, and proceeded to ruin the view on Fifth Avenue for the rest of the day.

So I guess I showed her.