Office Place

Have you ever thought that maybe there really is a massive universal consciousness, and it has a really sick sense of humor? Like, it just loves to torture you in the most banal ways, so that if you complain, everyone around you just thinks, “What’s he complaining about? He’s got it easy!”

Just in case you ever wondered how realistic a picture of corporate America that old comedy movie “Office Space” was, let’s start with one of it’s main comedic props, the “TPS Report” (a clearly useless, low-information document with ridiculous formatting requirements that had to be produced weekly by every employee to monitor work progress):

I, right now, twenty-some years later, am required on a bi-weekly basis to produce an “ESR Report”. It is a presentation-formatted powerpoint document that must conform to a complex standard. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to produce. It must be manually uploaded to a special folder in a “Box” share that has no relationship to any other work-product storage schemes or company reporting systems. It contains approximately EIGHT SENTENCES of information.

Let’s continue on to how I am also required on a weekly basis to use a byzantine HR system to report my hours worked with unbelievably fine granularity as regards both project and work-type reported. If I use the wrong work-type code, it is flagged as a “defect”. If the code I need hasn’t been added to my permissions, I have to request it be, or I can’t file without a “defect”. The request can take up to ten days to complete, so you miss filing your report, which is, say it with me, a “defect”….

Then, consider that I must spend a half-hour of every single morning in an “agile”, “stand-up” meeting for my primary project. On top of that, I spend an hour every other week in a “team meeting” and have 90 minute “All Hands” meetings at least once but as many as five times a month…

To quote Peter Gibbons: “I’d say in a given week, I prob’ly only do about 15 minutes of real, actual work.”

Did I mention I have five bosses? “Five?” you ask? Five, Bob…

Well, five bosses until last month, when about 30% of my team was “right-sized” out of existence, and my actual direct boss went with them. Of note? We were specifically told that the decisions on who to fire were NOT based upon performance or experience. What were the criteria, you ask? They aren’t allowed to tell us, other than to say it was “strategic”. A strategy that doesn’t require attention to the performance or skill-sets of employees to implement… I suspect there was a D12 involved!

“Office Space” wasn’t satire, it was a fucking ROADMAP!

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A Useful, If Minor, Life-Hack


Are you still getting those NYC area-code scam calls from a recording speaking entirely Chinese on your cell phone? Has nothing succeeded in getting them to stop? I found a way to at least make them entertaining!

I spent a month or so (six calls) pressing arbitrary numbers when I got one of these calls, in hopes of indicating enough interest in whatever scam they were selling to get a human on the phone. I finally found it with option “9”. It happened this morning.

Then, I implemented my plan. On the theory that my once fluent but now terrible Danish would sound more or less like broken English to someone whose first language was neither of those, I cheerily launched into a conversation with the nice man on the phone.

He clearly spoke almost no English, throwing together nothing more capable than two-word phrases like “Speak Chinse”, and “good oppotunity”, so most of what he said was Chinese (of which I speak perhaps ten words, none of which were remotely useful in these circumstances, but that was the point!), but he seemed game. Speaking entirely in whatever Danish I could still muster, I proceeded to spend perhaps ten minutes telling him, in the most polite and pleasant tones I could muster, what I thought of his personal hygiene, appearance, and intelligence, and providing a number of instructions as to what he should do, primarily to himself and his own mother. I found that the key to success in my little game was to listen carefully to what he said and try to sound as though I was responding to it. Well, that and occasionally dropping the English phrase “How much?”, in an attempt to ensure he thought there was a chance of a sale…

Speaking only western languages, I find the tonal nature of Chinese difficult to understand even on an emotional level, but I’m pretty sure that he was becoming more and more agitated as this went on, to my delight. After ten minutes or so, he apparently gave up, as we were abruptly disconnected mid-sentence (his, not mine).

Now, I know this sounds like a petty waste of my time, but consider:

  • I was nearly peeing my pants laughing after ten minutes of politely insulting this person to his face in the most creative ways I could think of, so I had some real fun.
  • I got to practice my Danish for the first time in years (maybe not the ideal vocabulary set, but still).
  • It is more than likely that I ruined that scammer’s morning, which I consider a karmic responsibility discharged.
  • During those ten minutes, I tied up a con-artist, meaning that he could not be engaged in bilking some elderly Chinese man or woman out of their life-savings.
  • All of these things together provided me a few moments of true joy in the midst of an otherwise drab workday.

Seriously, you should try it!

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Further Conversations With A Toddler

20-month-old: Why? Why?!?

Me: *blink*… Why what?

20-month-old: Why! *makes scrubbing motion with hands*

Me: *thinking furiously* Wait… Do you want a wipe?

20-month-old: Eeyeh! *nodding yes*

Me: *handing one over* Here you go, baby.

20-month-old: Denk!

Me: You’re welcome.

20-month-old: *giggles*

I believe I am compiling a toddler-to-English dictionary…

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Never Meet Your Heroes…

I had one of the most distasteful experiences of my life today. Not worst, mind you, it just almost literally left a bad taste in my mouth.

I follow a number of my favorite authors on Facebook. Some have a lot to say, others just post when they are releasing new books and the like, but I derive a great deal of satisfaction from the tenuous connection to their creative stars. One of them, today, posted a rather (I thought) overwrought indictment of NASA’s current plans over the addition of a manned moon expedition. His assertion was that there is “no reason to do it, whatsoever. “

Out of curiosity over whether he would engage more than anything else, I posted the opinion that there is at least one good reason to go back, the potential to do research on Helium 3, which, technical details aside, might come to nothing, but if successfully exploited would be a massive scientific and economic boon to whoever mastered it, and might even save our environment. Needless to say, I was polite, and provided links to a number of articles and papers to back up my statements. His response literally took my breath away. He posted an angry diatribe about some sort of “cult of Helium-3”, and how my position was a “pack of incantations”, demanding that I “prove one damn thing”.

My response was that I could not, of course, prove anything, first because “prove” isn’t really how science works, and second because I was suggesting that we needed to do the research to gain his “proof” on the moon, if we wanted to have any degree of certainty of its potential. His own response was even angrier, had no argument and was primarily an insult. I pointed out that that wasn’t an argument, and told him what I thought of his insulting and aggressive manner. He responded with a long, angry series of misstatements and flat-out made up shit about things I had said.

It went a bit beyond that, me now more aggressively trying to figure out why he was being such a dick, and him being progressively more of a dick with each response before asking me to leave, but all respect I had for the man was pretty much lost at that point, so the rest really doesn’t matter…

Never meet your heroes, they invariably turn out to be dicks!

Posted in For Facebook, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Final Minutes…

A plague is upon the clan. It came first for the children, slowly turning them into foul fountains of noxiousness. My wife and I ministered to them for days, knowing what was to come.

At last, it came for my wife. She soldiered on for many hours, but eventually succumbed to it, ensconcing herself in blankets and pillows in the corner of a couch. Grimly, I carried on the business of life, deprived of my beloved partner.

Then, a few hours ago, the faintest whisper of a shiver brushed my spine. Knowing the clock was ticking, I hurried the entirety of my besieged clan through the absolute necessities of the evening, every passing moment developing new portents of what was to come as I navigated dogs, children and wife through what passed for dinner and evening ablutions. All preparations were completed just in time, as my alimentary tract began to visit violence upon me.

The shivers have now returned, and I have only these few precious moments of clear-headedness remaining to me in which to chronicle our travails.

I am: “Bed Man Walking”

Posted in Family, For Facebook, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | 1 Response
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