Thursday, March 31, 2005

Something you don't see every day...

On the way home from a work trip in Philadelphia, we saw a car pulled over on the Belt parkway. The large sized sedan, with a "Rent-A-Car" sign on it. Not as big as a Lincoln Town Car or anything. (This is important.) Why was it pulled over? Because it had a sofa sticking out of its trunk. Boing! They had maybe the first section's-worth in the trunk, and the rest of it was sticking out of the trunk at about a 45 degree angle. No flag on the back, nothing securing it around the end. There were bungee cords or something pulling the trunk door down, but nothing keeping the sofa from falling out backwards. Brilliant. It costs $20 to rent a small U-Haul truck that would have accommodated that sofa easily, but some moron rented a car? Probably twice the price (or more)? Not counting the cost of the ticket. Need to keep a camera in the glove box. It was hysterical.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bitter Anniversary

Thirteen years. The 23rd of March marks the beginning of my 13th year at the IRS. What started as a temporary thing to pass the time while waiting for my art job to come along has turned into something horrific. I will grant you that I learned a great deal there, it was mostly about myself and how a socially inept geek/nerd/dorkboy who left the extreme isolation of scenic upstate New York could do things he'd never before dreamed. (Or, really, even wanted to do.) Like public speaking! Often! To bigwigs! (Often!) I also learned quite a bit about people. Good and bad. (More often frustrating than not, but I will never forget how well the people of the IRS treated me in '99 after they learned of my apartment fire.)

The bad thing is that my "early retirement" age of 47 has a catch. I can retire at 47 only if my job no longer exists. While it would certainly be possible that my job would no longer exist during this madcap spate of downsizing, it is infinitely unlikely that I'll last 12 more years there in order to find out. True, 13 years ago I would have eaten your heart if you told me I'd still be at the IRS, with the same goddamn form!, after all this time. But back then, I would've eaten your heart for just about anything. Nothing personal.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Slaughter the trees for the stupid

Today, March 19, IRS employees across the land received mail from their employer. The mail concerned a pay adjustment. One that came into financial reality with our paychecks received within the first few days of February. No, I didn't get the months backwards. We all got letters in mid-late March informing us of an impending change in the far-flung future of six weeks ago. Thirty seven cents apiece. Go ahead and do the math if you want to scream. Three hundred-ish people in just my department = $111.00 just for postage. One department. Envelopes, paper, computers to print the things and stuff them... I've done cost analyses for things like this, and it adds up quite fast. I hope you come by again for another visit, TIGTA folks. This is the kind of waste you're supposed to stop.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I just love watching the language die. Really. I mean, watching it as an outside observer of those damnable humans, I see how the English language has changed. People like me who can do this thing called "remember" can watch as the incredibly ignorant masses change words and meaning through sheer brute force and overwhelming numbers. Thinking: "hey, since I don't know and I have no means of finding out for myself, I'm going to trust whatever it is that I see in the next 10 seconds."

What am I on about? There's a new spate of posters at work. "Help knockout fraud", or something very similar to that. (I'm trying to force them into my blind spot.) Most of the people at work would see nothing wrong with that sign. They'd even think the kangaroo on there is cute, and admire the correlation with the boxing gloves said kangaroo is wearing. See, "knockout" is either a noun or an adjective. That's it. As in "He won the fight by a knockout", or "It was a knockout punch." If the sign said "Help to knock out fraud", this blog entry wouldn't exist. I realize that compound words can be tricky, but they do have different meanings than their separated counterparts. Such as the now much-maligned "everyday". I blame one car manufacturer's ad campaign for the fact that people use this interchangeably with "every day". If you've ever seen something like: "I'd like to win a bajillion dollars everyday!" rest comfortably in the knowledge that it's incredibly wrong, and whatever proofreader looked at that before it went to print will burn forever in the hell of a thousand red-hot needles thrust deep into ever-regenerating eyeballs.

So, I watch it all die. It's just sad to know that it's dying because of laziness, and not because we were conquered or anything. Yet.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Here, I must vent...

On the way out to do some errands this morning, a friendly neighborhood policeperson was motoring along in front of us. Said policeperson did the following illegal things in under one minute:

- Did not signal while turning
- Did not signal while changing lanes
- Changed lanes under a traffic light
- Chatted away merrily on a cell phone while driving

My wife wonders why I get mad at this stuff. In my admittedly limited view of the world, you have absolutely no goddamn right to give people tickets for things when you do them yourself.

Do I feel better? No. But that's not what this is about.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

We bought a new phone for ourselves for Christmas. It has things like caller ID and mailboxes and stuff, all of which has lain dormant because we never had need for such things. However, we just signed up with Vonage (yes, the one with the annoying commercials) and we get a whole bunch of features with the service. Including caller ID. We learned how our phone's caller ID functions last night when we received a wrong number. It startled us, really. Why? The phone friggin' talks! How cool is that? And no, I don't mean the answering machine. I mean it said the name of the damn caller! It's very convenient for us, because we never answer the phone anyway. But now instead of waiting to hear who it is on the answering machine, the phone will tell us! Them high tech gadgets is fan-tastic!

Monday, March 07, 2005

My current task at work is doing some programming. After a fashion. Hard to explain, because it's just such a bass-ackwards way to do things. Let's put it this way... the emulator that we use has a little "add-on" application. When it was first introduced to us about a year and a half ago, we were all incredibly nonplussed by it. It did the equivalent of typing five keys with one keystroke. Big deal. Thing is, though, that there's a hell of a lot more to this little "add-on". It's pretty damn impressive, actually. I mean, really impressive. It's taken two weeks for me to wrap my head around the programming language, because it's different (or just annoyingly different enough) than anything else I've ever worked with. But so far, I've been able to save a hell of a lot of routine and boring keystrokes, and automate entire processes that normally took minutes into a couple seconds. And the only reason they take that long is because I put pauses in there to see it happen. I'll take those out tomorrow, and it'll fly. I'll probably save another couple million bucks, and get a pack of gum for my troubles. Oh well. At least it's fun to learn something new and have it actually work the same way as I see it in my head.