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.