Thursday, November 25, 2004

It's always nice to know you're not alone when you have an unpopular view on a subject. With that in mind, I give mad props to this Brit homeslice, yo.

For whatever my mad props are worth, you've got them. Good luck getting coffee with them.
Another e-mail from Amazon. This one touting the upcoming release of Star Trek Voyager, Season Six. Here's the quote:

"the U.S.S. Voyager, as it is led by Capitan Kathryn Janeway (Mulgrew) on missions into deep space."

Viva El Capitan! Los Voyageros del Trekos Staros, or something.

I still can't stand it.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Rather than talk about all the work shit, here's something else...

I received an e-mail from the other day, touting the upcoming thrill-a-minute movie "National Treasure". There was a typo in the blurb about the picture. A typo. From Amazon. Amazon, as you may recall, started off their empire by selling books. Just books. Many of those books had words in them. Anyone getting me on this one? Not like a "who's/whose" kind of thing either. It was a word that any decent word processing application would have underlined, highlighted, flagged, whatever. But off it went all the same. Here's the offending fragment:

"steal the most revered, closely guarded document in American history before it falls into the wrong hands, and deciper the clues that will unlock this 2,000 year-old mystery."

So, I e-mailed them back. Showed them the error of their ways. I had to.
So far, all I've received in response is an auto-mailer thing. I don't expect a response, and I certainly don't expect a corrected version to be mailed out to the masses. I guess I really just can't get enough of banging my head against a wall.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Work is officially making me feel physically ill. Probably mentally ill too. Just not as easy to notice the symptoms of that one. I'm fast approaching my 13th year of the IRS. A job that was supposed to be something to tide me over until I got a "real" job. Well, the job itself is real. The majority of the people there, however, are turning into a nightmare. I don't know for how much longer I'm going to be able to tolerate it there. A lot of stuff is going on, and I find that I don't have it in me any more to put up with it. I can't stand the whining, I can't stand the people who steadfastly refuse to work, I can't stand the "upper management" continuing ignorance of the aforementioned, and thinking people who are like-minded to myself have something wrong with them for feeling bad about being there. These are your tax dollars, people. They're being wasted by the millions on a daily basis by people who you wouldn't want fixing your McMeal at a McBurger joint. In fact, in many cases, the McBurger joint would be closed due to health code violations if any of these mutants saw the light of day. And of course, most of the burgers would have bits of sponge, or perhaps a mop, or a hat, or something equally unmentionable in it. Why? Because, quite simply: "it's not mine, so I don't care".

Well, I can't do that. I can't keep banging my head against the proverbial wall any longer. I'm angry, I'm frustrated, and very, very tired. If there are any people out there who need someone with a severly logical mind who just saved the IRS $7 million and didn't get squat for it, please send me an e-mail. I'll do what I can to save you $7 million too. Hell, maybe even more if you bother to say "thank you" to me once in a while. Or even once. (Yes, I'm *that* beaten down.)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Weathermen, by definition, are idiots. But our local weatherman took the cake the other morning. It was a windy day, and he alerted the early-morning drivers to not only "keep both hands on the steering wheel" because of the "gusts" of 35 miles an hour (psh!), but he also said with dread earnestness: "Watch out for leaves!" Leaves? If the leaves were whipping around in tornadic winds of mach 3 or something, then yes, leaves would be quite deadly and should be avoided. But if you're scared of leaves blowing around when it's Autumn, you may want to consider moving to a desert or a snowy tundra. What about those motes of dust whipping around in the wind? Shouldn't we watch out for those? If a high-speed dust particle lands on your eye, you could just swerve right off the road and into a ravine or something. Or slam head-first into a busload of nuns. Damnable dust! A leaf blowing around might... um... brush against the windshield of your car. Think of the high cost of Windex! Damn you leaves! Nature's compost my ass!

Stupid weathermen.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Well. That proves my theory. The country is populated with idiots. Bush won. How? How can there be so many people who believe that he's doing a good job? I read something that really explains it all too well, at least in my twisted little version of reality. The good ol' fashioned common man understands Bush. He's a bumbling, stupid puppet, but they understand him. Great. They understand him, which scares me, because idiots understand idiocy. Bet they read all about him on them there internets. He must gots that book-learnin', cuz he knows 'bout new-kewler weapons. They're new, they're kewl, so they must be good! An' he talks like my favorite NASCAR driver. What more could one want in a leader? I'm sure he just had that thing in his ear during the debates so he could listen to some knee-slappin country music during the boring parts. Nobody was feeding him dialogue. 'Course not. That would mean that the President is just a figurehead being controlled by someone else. That couldn't happen. I mean, I'm sure his thoughts are his own. Because right after that Saudi Arabian guy got his nutjob followers to destroy the Twin Towers, Bush got right out there and sent our troops to Iraq. Maybe he just sucks at geography, or has a shitty short-term memory and couldn't remember one sandy country from another. I guess we're lucky he didn't just go bomb the crap out of New Mexico.

CNN had a really interesting breakdown of who voted, categorized by all manner of different factors. Really USA Today-worthy statistical data, but just interesting as to how people look at this from all angles. If you were to look at it that way, you do see patterns. If you look at it upside-down, you see a puppy. Voters turned out in record numbers, which is great. The fact that they turned out in record numbers just so that this nonsense can be perpetuated for another four years... it makes me ill. Maybe they think it's like a reality game show. How high can the deficit go? Let's find out! Let's give him a chance to fix his mistakes. (Heard this one and it stunned me.) Voting for someone does not signify to him/her that you want to give him the chance to fix his mistakes! Voting means you approve of what's gone on so far, and want to see more of it!

Good lord everyone... between the state of affairs at the IRS, and now the state of the country, you may find my website changing from ".com" to ".ca". Canada, with your colder climate and friendly nature, you may find yourself a new citizen.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Went to Atlantic City over the weekend. The fact that I'm going back to work tomorrow should tell you how well we did. The trip did have its highlights, though. We stayed at the Borgata, which is now our hotel of choice. Very, very nice. Has a nice "Las Vegas" feel to it, and not an "Atlantic City" feel to it. If you've been to both places, you know what I mean. If you haven't been to both places, what the hell is wrong with you? Vegas kicks ass!

Some of the enjoyable moments came in the form of paged announcements at the hotel. I don't know if these were real people being paged, or if the employees were feeling particularly bored that evening. (It was All Hallow's Eve, so they may have been tricking.) (Yo.) They sounded legit, though. One of the names sounded all too much like "Ollie Oxenfree", which is worth several hours of laughing right there. "Paging Mr. Oxenfree, Mr. Ollie Oxenfree. Your party cannot locate you." There was also someone whose name sounded like "Hockeyleague". And any time someone pages "Wing Wu", well that's just pure comedy.

We voted today. (He says, changing topics.) I'm a registered Republican who voted for Kerry. So there. I'm not going to go into a big political speech about how I feel, but in case you were curious you now know. (For the single-digit masses of people who read these things I type.)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I'm about to do something at work that I've rarely if ever done: say "no" to something. I'm currently "in charge" of a group of people who actually care about what they do, have a desire to do their work correctly, and write down answers they receive to the questions they ask. That hasn't happened to me since December of 1996. It's so very refreshing to work with people who give a damn. I'd almost forgotten what it was like. Now, after experiencing this euphoria for nearly two weeks, the powers-that-be want to take me out of this and have me teach a class. Not just any class. They want to bring 15 people out of furlough ("furlough" = three months off of work, collecting unemployment, during the holiday season) to come and do work they don't want to do, during a time they don't want to work. Makes sense, right?

I'm thoroughly disgusted with work. For a wide variety of reasons. If any of you ever knew how your tax dollars were spent, you'd be outraged. To the point of revolution. So, I'm going to say "no". They asked me if I could teach, but never whether I wanted to. It's really not my fault that I'm the only technical manager they have. Everyone else has worked in the department for the same amount of time as I have. Yet some of them are "exceeds" for their annual evaluations, whereas I am only a "met". Well, they can have one of their "exceeds" teach. Not my friggin' problem.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Work is always full of surprises. I was surprised to learn that I was named the supervisor of a new unit comprised of people from two other areas. Surprised because prior to that point, I thought I was going to be logically named the "Technical Advisor", as that position recently came into being on our org chart. I don't know why I thought this, because logic has no place at the IRS. And really, having me in that position would really just be a waste of the 12 years of experience I have working with the blasted program. What's that worth, really? I'd be much better suited to babysitting. Because I'm so damn personable.

So, I'm in charge of a new group of people. I found this out at 1:30 PM on a Thursday. When was I supposed to take charge of these people? 8:00 AM Friday, of course! No list of people, no place for them (or me) to sit, no nothing. Typical forethought and planning at its finest. On the plus side, though, it only took a little over one day to find out *why* the unit was created in the first place. That's some kind of record. I don't think it's a particularly necessary reason, but hey, that's me and the whole logic thing again.

Strangely enough, it's been going well. Much better than my blood pressure would have indicated on Thursday. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Several things about and inspired by jury duty...

On the way in, the man in front of me had a small knife on his keyring. The jury selection card clearly said "no weapons", but perhaps he thought more along the lines of a tank. Or perhaps he didn't think of it as all, since it was just a part of his keys. It was a very small knife, and certainly much smaller than all of the pocket knives I've ever carried nearly every day of my life since age six. He went up to the guard, put in his keys, walked through the metal detector, and the guard said to him: "Next time, leave that knife off of your keyring." Next time? Apparently you get a free weapon check-in if you're a first time juror. And how the hell does he know this *is* the first time for this guy? It made me feel all the safer watching people who I assume were lawyers going through the "non juror" lane, and setting off the metal detector while carrying big, bulky boxes of stuff. The security at my place of employment is laughable, but it doesn't draw attention to how laughable it is by having a big, screaming alarm go off every time someone steps through it... only to be ignored by those in uniform who are intently looking at women's handbags.

Also, I saw further evidence to feed my dislike of the general mindset of police. Who did I see speeding recklessly through the parking lot? Was it the jurors, happy to get a close spot? Or the jurors, happy to be let go? Nope. It was the pigs, blasting through a parking lot that was chock full of people at noon. No lights or sirens. And it was more than one car, and they were not rushing off to the same destination. Unless the destination moved to opposite ends of the lot.

It cost me over $110 just to get to the court and back. Cab fare was a hefty $55 one way. Learning this last night did not improve my general state of rage.

Hmm... I was thinking about this in the cab ride back, so I may as well type this one out. Those of you who know me know I am generally pissed off most of the time. I go from minor annoyances to more vociferous rages to occasionally turning color and losing the ability to speak. Having been pissed off for most of my life, I've been able to distinguish the differences between the moods, and I know which ones are minor, which ones are dangerous, and which ones make me feel like splitting the Earth in twain. The minor to semi-dangerous ones are, for me at least, relatively harmless. Those are the times when I call upon my inner rage to do something ridiculous like lifting up a couch by myself. Or move a filing cabinet that's full of crap. Because, to look at me, you wouldn't think I could do any of that. But I can, with the right amount of rage. The more dangerous ones still let me do that, but it's harder to control. I'm still capable of general speech, but it may be interspersed with growls or something that sounds like Klingon. This was much more common in my teen years, and has dropped significantly as the years have gone by.

The most dangerous type, though, is the type I was experiencing last night. Quiet, all-consuming rage. My chest was hurting from holding in the screams of utter frustration and pain I wanted to inflict on the computer that chose my name for jury duty, the person who programmed the computer, the people he worked with/for, his friends and family, etc. etc. Large parts of my brain are taken over by these thoughts. My brain holds lots of room for lots of thoughts, but those all get pushed down into a corner and locked in a box for the duration. And that's the dangerous part. Logic and reason go out the window. I'm a reasonably logical man. I figure stuff out for fun. Having that part of you go away and be replaced by a cold yet burning emotion is not at all enjoyable.

Let's put it this way.... If I were Bruce Banner, I would be green most of the time. Not greenish. Not sea foam. Emerald, baby. Quite possibly glowing.

On a good note, though, the trial I was supposed to be grilled about was settled. So I shouldn't get called for jury duty for four years. Time to start planning a name change...

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

One of the things I came home to was a jury duty notice. It asked me to call on Friday. Being the anti-phone person that I am, I went on their website instead, where I learned I got a reprieve until Tuesday. I looked at the site again today after work, and learned that I have to go to Riverhead tomorrow at 9 am. I've been seething ever since.

Maybe I'm being petty and selfish, but dammit I've done my share of serving the public. I've done more than my share. I've done the share for every member of my family and then some. If they ask me any questions, I'm going to tell them the truth: I pretty much hate everything featherless with two legs that doesn't fly. Equally. It's just easier that way.

Learning this at the tail end of the first day back to work in two weeks, which just happened to be the day after a computer shutdown... which, for those of you fortunate enough to not work for the IRS, means that when the IRS has a long holiday weekend, they like to turn the computers, printers, and monitors off to save money on electricity. Nice enough idea, but it invariably means that they end up wasting four or five dozen times that amount of money because when the stuff is powered back up, it doesn't work. Today's fun came in the form of a fried circuit board. (Which is quite good when smothered in sausage gravy.) This meant that my entire department, about 200 people or so, couldn't work. At an average of 25 cents per person per minute, you do the math from 8 am until 2pm to see how much the government wasted today. I don't like to think about those things much. Well, that's not entirely accurate. They worked, but they couldn't enter any of the information into the computer system. So whatever information they haphazardly scribbled down will later be deciphered and input incorrectly when the computers are back online. Usually by a different person, on a different shift. So there's no hope of someone going "Is this a G or a 6?", because the illiterate dullard who scribbled it in crayon is home and in bed by 6pm to rest up for the long day of nothing the next day.

Did I mention I'm not looking forward to jury duty? The thing I hate the most will be the waiting. I'm going to have to bring a couple books. I read five books on the trip to and from Florida, and very little while actually in Florida. If I sit still for too long with nothing to occupy my brain, I shut down and fall asleep. I really hope I don't just sit there all day.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

This may or may not be quick...

"Breath" and "breathe" are two different words. They mean different things. "Breath" is a noun, and it's what you take when you "breathe", the appropriate verb. I just looked at a well-meaning, professional website, and it espoused the right for everyone to "breath clean air". No, I'd much rather breathe clean air, thank you all the same.

It's thing like this that drive me insane. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only person who notices these things. I find typos wherever I go. Really. In Vegas, on the Star Trek experience, inside of a mock shuttlecraft with full Star Trek decals and artwork and with the full and glowing approval of the fine folks at Paramount is the word "teleportationm". This is not in the new part of the experience, but the part that has been up for several years. In the MICU waiting room at the VA hospital in Miami, a professionally-engraved sign lists the things visitors must do "durning" visits. I had no idea Charles Durning was a vet, or that he was sick enough to warrant his own visiting hours. Today, while having breakfast/lunch/dinner with my wife, one of the items on the menu at Okey Dokey's was "Toas" chili.

She wonders why I scream whenever I go outside.
Back from Florida. During this unpleasant trip, I've had a revelation. Not about anything too Earth-shattering, don't worry. Spending time in the Miami area (kinda), I was struck by the fact that you don't need to know a lick of English to survive in this country. That really pisses me off, because the last time I checked English was still the official language of the US. Don't get me wrong. I know full well that there are people living in this country who can trace their ancestry back to the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock who can't handle English too well. But they still speak/spell some bastardized form of English. What I'm talking about has to do with the almighty dollar in the form of multi-lingual packaging. If you're in Canada and a package has both French and English, that's to be expected. A very large province of Canada has French as its official language. The US has English, and that's it. So why are more and more products featuring labels in both English and Spanish? Simple. Money. "Hey", says corporate America, "since there are so many people in the country who have Spanish as their primary language, let's spend a little on the extra ink so our products have two languages! If they can't read English, they can read Spanish, and if they can read Spanish, then they'll buy our crap!" Brilliant business sense, lousy for the country. Now there's even less incentive to learn English, so why bother?

At work, I deal with people who can't be bothered to try to learn for themselves. I see this as the same concept, but on a national level. Seeing it at work makes me really, really pissed. Seeing it on a national level brings me to a whole new level of pissed that I didn't think I could achieve. Let's just make everything easier for everyone. Can't read a road sign? Here's a happy picture. Can't read English? No problem! We'll advance you to the next grade anyway. And you probably can't read because there's something wrong with the test, not because you're a fucking idiot.

My niece and nephew I fear for, since the current trend of dumbing-down everything is on the rise. When they get to be my age... I don't want to think about it. Unless a new Renaissance of education comes about between now and then, I'd expect they'd carry on a better conversation with a bowl of salad than with a human. If any of you have ever wondered why I've never, ever, wanted to be a parent, here you go. I would never want to subject another child to the revelations I've undergone over the years. Or, worse, watch as an offspring of mine turned into an idiot because of the world around him/her/it.

I'm done for now. More later.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm not enraged at the moment. Not any kind of angry. I'm revelling in that. In fact, I've achieved a whole new outlook on work which is helping me through my day. "Rampagant apathy", I believe it's called. I have been one of the painfully few who have gone over and above to help the mindless masses at work, and we've all been consistently shat upon for it. Now that automation is coming, and it's being helped along from all sides, I am just going to sit back and laugh. At a meeting of managers yesterday, several kept remarking on how low the morale was, because the people are all living in fear of the impending automation. Good. They should be in fear. They have no skills, no competencies, no nothing. And now that they realize the gravy train is falling off the tracks and into Dead Man's Canyon, they're panicking. Don't bother to build your skills while you can, and actually work your way towards a better job. Nah. Why do that? Get paid the same no matter what, and not working is certainly easier than working.

Two words for you, my myopic lazy little bastards: "HA HA!"

And an added perk for me is that our new director is apparently living in fear of IEIN as well, and spreading rumors about it. Love it. Since I'm not big and scary and imposing in life like I always dreamed of, I get a certain thrill being associated with a project that is synonymous with impending doom. My level of caring for the job is at an all-time low. I have no sympathy, no pity, for the majority of people who work there. They want the world on a silver platter, but won't even expend the effort of rasing a hand to reach for the platter to get it. Screw that, and screw them. Sorry everyone, but it seems my selfishness is starting to kick in. There are still the select few I'll watch out for and do whatever I can for, but the rest of them... well... it involves something called nano-pirahna, and it's friggin' hysterical.

Friday, July 30, 2004

I am enraged. Not only did I have to take the day off because my computer profile at work was locked, and the shit-for-brained IT people can't unlock me in less than a day, but one of the "fun" things I slated to do at home was to pay my IRS charge card bill. They send me on all these trips, and I have to pay for it. Well, they give me money, which I in turn have to give to the credit card company. So, after futzing around with the website and having no success, I actually broke down and called their support staff. They did whatever, and I got in to the government's citibank site. After another 20 minutes of searching every pulldown and link on there, I called their reps back again. Why? THERE'S NO FUCKING OPTION TO *PAY* MY GODDAMNED BILL!!!!! And what does the syrupy-voiced rep say? You can't pay a government card online! Of course! Why, oh WHY, would I think that any slice of the government would be touched by the ocean of technology and convenience? What the hell is wrong with me?

So, they're going to get their payment a couple days late. I'll get fired for it. All because the IRS thinks technology is a four letter word. With six Zs and five Qs in it. And no vowels. Dumbasses.

Even my unplanned days off are wasted by my goddamn job. If you could harness the power of my hate and rage, I could keep New York city warm and toasty for a couple thousand years. There would actually be many who die from severe burns.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Went to see Spider-Man 2 the other day.  (Eh.  Not worth the hype.  But OK.)  During the previews, they showed one for a must-see called "Anacondas".  They showed the cast of nobodys wandering through the swampy-jungle, with the nifty computer-generated fifty foot snakes slithering and swimming and roaring and eating people.  (Oh no.  I've given away the plot.)  When the trailer ended, a woman behind me turned to her companion and said:  "Are the snakes really that big?"  Yes.  Yes they are.  There are big, humongous, fifty-plus-foot roaring head-chomping snakes in the Amazon.  By the thousands.  The reason that hasn't made the news is because they're so common.  They get the big drooling car-eating snakes like we get ants or houseflies. 

Comments like this stop me cold.  My stupidity filters get overwhelmed or something.  I wonder how people can be this stupid and still function in the world.  And I wonder what happened to evolution, and how, as the years go by, as a species we seem to be losing our thumbs.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I made a website yesterday to have a select few at work, on both shifts, track some of the work they do for the flippin' Ogden project thing I'm on.  I sent out a link, and with that link went explicitly detailed instructions of what I wanted done.  Painfully simple, really.  I wanted either a "Y" or an "N" and the click of a button for each form.  I was a bit more verbose and professional in my explanation, but it didn't make a whit of difference.  Not a whit, a jot, a grain, or a dram.  There were those who ignored the e-mail completely.  There were those who did the extreme opposite, and tracked everything that everyone around them did, instead of just what they themselves did.
I don't know how we got away from cave paintings.  Really.  They convey enough.  "Oh look!  Og is standing triumphantly over the carcass of that elk.  He really can keep meat in the fire."  (Yes, I know you don't put meat in the fire.  That's a line from 'Teenage Caveman', a Roger Corman vehicle starring Robert Vaughn when he was in his early 20s.  Thank you MST3K.)
I really, really can't wait for this whole automation thing.  Sure, it's going to cause a whole lot of people to no longer have jobs.  But I'm only concerned about a handful.  Including myself.  Whatever part of me that may have felt sadness, pity, remorse, or whatever is buried under a glacier of hate for those who exist only to be spoon-fed by the competent.  When I know, not believe, not suppose, not surmise, but KNOW that I could get the same amount of work out of a dozen or so good people as we currently get out of a few hundred...  That's hate.  And that's your tax dollars at work.  Or not at work, to be more precise.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I have to get this out. It bothers me every now and then, and it upsets my wife when I talk about this, so I've got to type it. Hang on to something.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not hate police. I do not envy them their job, and I'm sure most of them are fine, upstanding pillars of their respective communities. And I'm not being sarcastic, as difficult as that is to believe.

Here's my thing. It really, truly, honestly, infuriates me to the point of incoherence whenever a cop car goes speeding by and they don't have their lights on. I mean, my blood boils and I want to rip the flesh from their bones. Why? Simple, really. The police are supposed to be those who enforce the law. They are the ones who are supposed to know the laws, and stop those who break the laws. When I'm cruising down a 55-limit road doing 60, and a cop passes me like I'm standing still and he's not in pursuit of someone or responding to a call, then that cop is flagrantly breaking the laws that he/she is supposed to be upholding. With complete disregard to the laws and safety regulations quoted to us mere mortals for the safety issues of the set speed limits. I guess when you dress all in black and have a shiny badge, you're immune to the effects of slamming into a stationary object at 80 or 90 miles an hour, huh? Or plowing over a pedestrian, or slamming into someone, or any of those things. I guess their amazing cop powers give them cop reflexes to avoid such things that regular drivers can't seem to avoid.

I work for the IRS. As a "perk" of that job, my annual tax return has to be perfect. Perfect. No exception, no tolerance, nothing. If I make a mistake on it because I suck at math, there's a chance I get fired. I'm more likely to be disciplined/reprimanded, but no matter what there's a black mark on my record. That's any IRS employee. Newsflash: 99.99999% of IRS employees are regular folks, not accountants or CPAs. Hell, most of them barely have high school educations, much less any accounting credits. But we're supposed to set an example for the rest of the country.

I think the same idea should be given to cops. If they go over the speed limit, they get fired. Done. This rule does not apply if they've got their lights and siren on, of course. If there's an emergency, light 'em up and go get 'em. By all means. You're doing your job. But if you're just out cruising looking for alleged bad people to fill up your quota for the month so you can be crowned Raving Flaming Queen of the Polieceman's Ball, you goddamn well do the speed limit you scum-sucking goat-fucking son of a bitch. Because if you're just out cruising for donuts or some other sort of pastry and you're doing 80 miles an hour because you're late for your fucking break, too fucking bad. You should have fucking left sooner. Not my problem you were playing "hide the nightstick" with your partner.

And, if any regular folks catch a cop breaking the law by speeding, we should be allowed to kill them by driving over them. Slowly. Very, very slowly. And not in an SUV or anything heavy. I'm talking like a Mini. Or a scooter with spiked tires.

It's a simple rule, really. If you enforce the law, you follow the law. If you enforce the law and you break the law, I get to wear your skin as a hat.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Here's a little slice of the category "Why I'm Pissed Off Most of the Time". I received an award at work. Huzzah and hooray. A whopping $500 award. Make that a daily award, and we're on the right track. Unfortunately, it's not. Here's the funny part, though. That's a $500 award *before* taxes. Hey, it's the IRS after all, so that's what they do. How much is the award after taxes? $329. There's my big freakin' award. And the kicker of it all? Did I get an award because my boss thinks I'm doing a bang-up job? Nope. I got an award because they realized they had a surplus of award money, and if they don't use it all, they lose it next year.

Man, do I feel appreciated.

Monday, July 05, 2004

OK, SciFi is showing a Twilight Zone marathon. For those of you who are hoplessly lost TV execs, let me give you some pointers. First: repeating episodes does not constitute a marathon. The show was on for five years! You're covering two days, and not even two entire days. Give me a break. Second: how about you show some of the hour-long episodes? Oh wait, I know the answer to that. Because you can hack apart the half hour ones much easier than the hour-long ones. Stupid commercials. I fully understand that running a television station is a business, and that you need those advertising dollars. But do you have to cut out about five minutes of every old show ever made? Really? It's a big thing that SpikeTV is showing Star Trek "uncut". Those shows were on only, what, ten years ago? And there are already more commercials now than there were back then. Original Star Treks are even longer, but you wouldn't know it if you only watched it on regular television. I forsee a day when one of three things will happen... either television shows will just have a constant mini-window in the corner, forever showing ads for all sorts of things. Or maybe one of those news tickers running along the bottom with different slogans and products and stuff. Or better yet, there will be entire sitcoms based on the product. Imagine solving crimes with the Pepsi Princess as she stops off at Taco Bell and KFC (Pepsi-owned fast food chains). Or laugh along with Ray Romano as he works in his new job as a Coke distributor. All the wacky hijinks as he stops at McDonalds, Burger King... touting the new flavors and colors and whatnot. It's kooky fun! And then the potatoes at home can sit and vote and see which restaurant wins. Why, I don't know, but they seem to enjoy that kind of thing. Stupid potatoes.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Utah is just getting better and better. Not only is the hotel two blocks away from crime alley, but as I type some dumb asses are setting off fireworks. Not the wee bitty bottle-rocket kind, either. The big, booming, shake the floor kind. It's not yet 10 pm local time. I can only hope the pops and booms are punctuated by the screams of the newly-dismembered. I'd get a good night's sleep, then.

Oh, and things aren't just closed on Sunday here. They're closed randomly, with no thought as to businesses making money. At least, that's my perception of it. I went out after work to get something to eat. It was just 4 pm. The place I wanted to go to was closed, as were two of its eatery neighbors. The antique shop was open, as was the gift basket place. Maybe this town thrives on buying old crap and putting it in baskets, and everyone cooks at home. Must be the elevation.

The fireworks stopped. No screaming. Damn.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I've learned a great deal this week. I've learned that "employee intervention" means people doing work. I've learned that the goal of my current bosses is to make the IRS like that old Twilight Zone episode where the guy replaces an entire factory full of people with machines. Then he himself is replaced by a robot. I understand the concept, and I honestly have no problem replacing most of the people. Hell, some of them could be replaced by a damp sponge without any noticeable impact. But computers cannot account for the idiot factor, and oddly enough I don't mean the employees. I mean the people who can't/won't/don't read instructions when filling out important paperwork for their businesses. The computer program is built on the assumption that people are conscientious and actually read before filling out a form. And since people are, generally speaking, idiots, that doesn't happen. If it works, it will cut out a lot of the initial part of the job. But it's going to just add to the number of trained people after the fact. And that number is already painfully slim, despite efforts to the contrary.

I've also learned that my work ethic scares people. No matter what state I'm in. (That's geographical state, not mental.) The first task I was given this week was supposed to last me all week. Took me a day. The next task, another week. Took me a day. The next thing I set up for myself, because they didn't know what to do with me. Took me a day. I'm making word docs, for cryin' out loud. This is not black magic. Just type, dammit. The keys haven't moved since the 1800s. Thank you Mr. D. for teaching me how to type when I was 17 and needed a credit to round out my semester. No single class has had a greater impact on my life than a half year of typing.

Most significantly, I've learned that I really, truly, utterly and completely hate being away from Deb. You may think that two people who are married, work together in the same building, see each other day in and day out all day, and have little or no human contact apart from each other on the weekends would be sick of each other and need a little time away. Nope, you're horribly wrong. Travelling is fine when we travel together. Living out of a hotel room, being all depressed, is not my idea of fun. I can't wait to go home.

Monday, June 14, 2004

OK, I've spent a good portion of the day travelling, and I've come up with an idea. I really think this will work. My idea is that everyone who does NOT have a screaming infant pays an extra... oh, say 50 cents... to fund a little puddle jumper airline that carries nothing but screaming infants and their idiot parents. It'll be a special plane, too. One that's lined with acoustical enhancing tiles, so the parents as well as the children get the full effect of the bloody ear-splitting sound their damn screeching makes to the rest of us who are trapped in a tin can for three hours with the little bastards. The seats could even have randomly-placed used drug needles/needles dipped in some slow-acting non-contagious disease hidden in the seats. That way, a little Darwinism can be re-introduced to the mindless herd that thinks that it's OK to bring a screaming baby on a three hour flight.

I forsee this idea expanding, too. Not only for public transportation, but for restaurants and movie theaters and such. A separate theater just for those idiot parents who want a roomful of people to be annoyed and subsequently waste the price of a theater full of tickets rather than hire a goddamned babysitter.

The moral of my rant? Stop breeding, you goddamned morons.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Tomorrow is my last day here for a while. I'm off to Ogden, Utah, for two weeks. At least, that's the plan. Part of the plan also consisted of me spending part of those two weeks doing some exciting flowcharting and some other work-related stuff. I've already done that. Not that I'm one to throw a monkey wrench into the grand plan, but I'm not one who can work at a governmental speed. You need something done, you do it, and then you move on to the next thing. Don't sit and plan and plod over what the friggin font size is supposed to be. Do it. Just like the commercials say.

I know I'm going to be aggravated. I'm going to work with people who are in charge of automating processes through that "interweb" thingy, yet they know little to nothing about computers or the magical things they can do. With luck, I can use that to my advantage. Show them a little bit of what computers can do, show them that people exist within the organization who can do the things they want done, and show them that if they use the people they already have, they can save literally millions of dollars. And despite what you may be thinking as you read this, I don't mean me. Sure, I'd love to work for them and show off what I know. But I'm not the one who's best suited for the job, and I'm going to tell them who is.

Should be interesting. We'll see how it goes. I just hope it doesn't take the full two weeks...

Monday, June 07, 2004

OK, so, I spent a week in Washington DC. Not for pleasure, but for business. I was "volunteered" to help fix the train wreck of an instruction manual that was written by your tax dollars. Given to an outside source who knew nothing about the work we do, had never even seen the forms or screens we deal with on a daily basis, and who probably over-charged the government something fierce. All in the name of making a 150-page instruction manual "reader friendly". Reader friendly? How about we hire people who can actually read instead of those who have trouble with multisyllabic words?

But I digress. I was one of three people to travel to DC for this. We had pages and pages of corrections to be made, and they were read and discussed and scribbled. And I do mean scribbled. The person in charge of the whole thing was too busy sleeping at the table to write them down herself, so one of her equally competent lackeys hand-wrote it all in the margins. Despite the fact that this document exists as a computer file, and there were two computers in the room she should have been using to update all them there words.

So, we did all that. They made all the right noises, made all the overtures of writing down what we all agreed upon. Today, I received part one of the draft copy. We may as well not have gone at all, and saved the taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. Out of 30 pages of changes, I'd say maybe four had been incorporated. Maybe. I spent today adding notes to a pdf of all the things that still had to be changed. Suffice it to say that there were a lot of notes. (And this is part one. Not quite halfway through the book.)

I found out later that the version of the training manual we were sent to fix, one that has things that we literally can not do because the computer will not allow it, has been put up for the masses. That means that we are required to do things as that book says. Even though we can't. I guess we'd better start bending space and time, just for the sake of a "reader-friendly" document.

That's one week and several thousand dollars wasted. Why bother to correct the thing if you're just going to publish the crap version anyway? Why go through the charade of pretending to care, preaching that they want one document that everyone involved with interprets the same way, just to put up something that's the equivalent of instructions written in Kanji? (To non-kanji readers, of course.)

These are your tax dollars at work, people. You should be so amazingly outraged, it's just not funny. I'm a big advocate of the flat tax concept for one reason alone: it'll put a shitload of morons out of business, and prevent them from pissing me off. Sure, it's a selfish reason, but there it is.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

There's a little scandal going on here about some school children in their mid-late teens who put on a drag show. They were on an overnight trip somewhere, and the show was the idea of one of the teachers watching them. (Some would call that person a chaperone.) The kids had fun, it kept them in the hotel instead of out causing trouble, and yet there are parents who are upset about it. I've got news for you, Mommy and Daddy middle class... if in the coming months or years your little Timmy suddenly develops a penchant for wearing women's clothing, I can guarantee you that this little drag show is not to blame. The whole thing was intended to be funny, not a practice session or a "Future Transvestites of America" dinner dance. Remember Uncle Milty? One of the first images ever to be broadcast on television? Big ugly man in a dress. It's a comedy staple. For those who don't have memories that span into past lives like I do, how about Mrs. Doubtfire?

I'll wager that the teacher responsible is going to be canned in a panic move by the school. So, there's a tip for all you teachers out there. Instead of being creative and trying to keep the kids in your care out of trouble/danger, just give 'em big chunks of crack and tell them it's rock candy. If any of them survive and their parents complain, just say it's part of a drug awareness program. You'll get praised.

I really hate people.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Returned from Vegas yesterday. Man, do I love Vegas! I love it even more now that I've actually won something. Long story short: it was our first full day there, and Deb and I were down about $500. We were in the Stratosphere, looking for a vibe off of a machine, when I plunked my ass down in front of a $2 slot machine, put in a $100 bill, hit the "max credit spin" button... and got a purple 7, triple, triple. It didn't do anything at first, which confused us. Then the lights, the noise, and the little LED at the bottom which said to contact an attendant because we just won 1440 credits. We couldn't figure out how much that was. We're so accustomed to losing, that the whole winning thing had to be learned on the spot. (For those of you who suck at math worse than me, that's $2,880 bucks from pressing a single button.) We had to get a W-2G, which is pretty ironic. Here we are, a thousand plus miles away from work, and we get an IRS form. About 15 minutes later I won another $200 on a quarter machine, so I made $3,000 in about a half hour. Not a bad hourly wage, and it's one I'm going to shoot for.

We did all sorts of nifty stuff, but if you're reading this you probably already saw my webpage, so you know that already. We're also ready to move, but not just because of the gambling. Long Island has lost what little charm it had. It's nice having everything convenient and all, but it's not nice dealing with people who are plain old rude. I don't like the way it makes me feel, either. I vaguely remember being a nicer person, way back when. Maybe a change of scenery will bring that back.

Friday, March 26, 2004

I've spent the last three days in full-day meetings. About what? Automating the job I've been doing as well as teaching others to do for the last twelve years. The goal is to take the "human element" out of the equation. I'm normally all for such things, as I find most humans extremely loud, smelly, and annoying. The problem here is that they're going to use government technology to try and rid the trained human part out of the equation. The large part of the problem isn't the people at work, but the morons who are filling out the forms and don't bother to read the instructions. They write in what they think it should be, instead of reading the instructions and writing in the correct information. Now a whole new system has to be designed to make it as simple a process as possible for the ignorant masses. Yet another example of dubming down a process to accomodate the lowest common denominator.

To paraphrase Jerf: what the hell happened to Darwinism? Survival of the fittest is supposed to be beneficial to a species. What happens to a species when the fittest do their job so well that they suddenly allow the unfit to thrive? It's now survival of the whiners, the annoying, the incompetent, illiterate, uneducated... Those who cry "foul" when they can't do something. It's suddenly "unfair" because they didn't do something as well as the person next to him/her/it. I realize I didn't get an instruction manual, but I really don't recall ever reading anywhere that life is supposed to be fair and vanilla for everyone. The playing field is not supposed to be level. If the people designing airplanes are the same people who are flipping your burgers, then that's a scary freakin' world. (It wouldn't be one filled with hamburger-powered airplanes, either. Planes would be dropping out of the sky because the spatu-props fell off.) Learning that someone is better than you at something is called "life", and we all have to deal with it. Whining about it should get you ridiculed, nothing more.

I guess when I get to design the world, things will be different. Hamburger-powered airplanes for everyone! (Except the cows. That'd be weird.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I spend my time fixing things so that stupid people can't screw them up. I make barriers of anti-stupidness to keep you safe. And you don't know it. It's not even my real job, but I do it anyway. I blame my parents for my insane work ethic. It's seemingly out of fashion these days, and tends to confuse people. Of course, breathing tends to confuse most people, so it isn't much of a stretch.

Monday, March 08, 2004

My job consists of me telling the same people the same things over and over. I have not yet figured out why these people don't remember anything I tell them. They remember how to get to work. They remember to get dressed before coming to work. They certainly remember to eat. Even if they don't write down what I tell them (and they don't), at least some of what I tell them should be sticking somewhere in the nooks and crannies of their tiny little minds. It's not like I pass along answers to multi-tiered quantum physics equations. I pass along pointers to what is, in essence, data entry. There are about a dozen or two people among 300 who can actually function well in the job. The others are too frightened by the demon that is technology to be effective. Or they're too scared they may have to actually develop a work ethic, so they scurry off and huddle in complaining groups.

The scariest part is that every one of them believes that he or she isn't being paid enough. Isn't being paid enough to do little or nothing. Poorly. When you point that out to them, they get offended and do even less. If you take the other tack and praise them for doing nothing, they get all proud of their nothingness and do even less.

Any wonder why I want another job?

Sunday, March 07, 2004

This is where I ramble. I ramble a lot, and usually with a vocabulary that made my family hate to play word games with me. My imaginary friend liked to play word games with me, though. Of course, he only spoke Etruscan and didn't have opposable thumbs, but that didn't make him any less of a mutant hellbeast in my eyes. Despite the fact that he was invisible. (He may still be for all I know. The tinnitus prevents me from hearing him like I used to. Damnable high-pitched whistling! Doesn't keep the demons out, just helps them to hide better.)

Did I mention I ramble?