Well Those Chores are done

Weed Whacking, cable devices removed, credenza reworked.

Laundry is running and I’m backing up data on the network at home.

Later today I’ll head back down to San Diego for another installment of Tech Support follies!

I like the new fiber speed up here. Still haven’t figured out why the upload is faster than the download by a significant amount.

Oh hey I can Google it on fiber! Wheee.

Huh, it looks like with fiber, these speeds are normal and in fact the speed I’m seeing here is better than what is advertised. When was the last time you paid for a service, and got more than you paid for?

 Happy Weekend to all.

New Operating Systems

In the last week or so, Apple has updated their IOS and the Mac OS.

Against my better judgement I updated all my devices. Surprisingly, everything worked exactly as expected.

Hey, I can’t ask for more than that.

Now I’m in the process of figuring out how things have changed and how to use all the new features. One thing that has surprised me (even before the OS upgrade) was how much I use my iPad. 

Since I got the iPad Pro I’ve found that I don’t fire up my MacBook Air as often. Don’t get me wrong, that little machine is fantastic, but I really only need it for stuff that requires a lot of computing horsepower.

The iPad handles most all of the day to day computing needs and since I’ve got the cellular version, I’m never wanting for communications. 

I’ve been writing, blogging, emailing, and spreadsheeting using the iPad, it’s handling the job search, and even handles some of my TV / movie watching.  Couple my iPad with a cloud based file sharing program and there’s pretty much nothing I can’t do.

The new OS seems to have made the iPad snappier and I’m using the multitasking and file handling just like I would if I were on my MacBook. 

I noticed that my MacBook burned through a battery charge pretty fast today, I got curious about where my power was going and found that there were a lot of background activities. Looked like they were all “One-off” processes. Stuff like indexing, virus scanning, and other file oriented things. I suspect that those processes will reduce over time since the file system has to be converted. I’m going to be watching battery life over the next few weeks to see if the CPU load drops.

Noticed kind of the same thing with the iPad and iPhone over the first day or two. So I’m thinking that it’s a file system conversion kind of thing.

In all, I’m happy thus far that I did the upgrades and look forward to learning more about the changes in the coming weeks.

If you haven’t upgraded, I’d say go for it. You might appreciate the change.

There comes a time…

I think that time has come.

Dontpanic

Work is stressful, all work, not just the particular job you may have at the time. That’s a given, like stars in the universe, gravity, or water is wet.

But sometimes you come face to face with the realization that the place you work sucks so much that it’s altering you, the person. The you that is kind, reasonable, funny, sensual, and decent.

When you realize you’ve reached that point, you’ve got some choices. You can keep sucking it up and do your job (While looking for another one). You can suffer, allowing the job to irrecoverably change who you are, be in pain all the time, and lose that person you were, then changing into someone you never even wanted to meet. OR you can say “Take this Job and Shove it!

Then you can use your newfound free time to look for a new job, putting all the effort you were using to stay in control, into finding yourself something better to do.

Sad to report I think I’m at that 3rd option.

I’ve grown tired of being tired all the time. I can’t take another person yelling at me for shit that isn’t my fault, I can’t take another minute of feeling like management is looking for some reason to fire me even though I’m doing what the company motto says I’m supposed to do.

Scream

I can’t abide seeing the pain and slow boiling anger in my coworkers faces.

I don’t want to be isolated and alone being unable to interact with my coworkers, except via instant messaging, anymore.

I can’t handle my boss telling us in our meetings how very lucky we are to be employed, (The implication being that he’d happily toss us out the door and bring in a bunch of other workers who would be happy to have the job.)

18 months in, and the work environment has gone from being “Not that great” to being depressing, and if not outright hostile, to being a slow toxic poisoning.

There are no opportunities within the company. There is no recognition of experience or doing the right thing. There is only the never ending drone of “Answer the phones, we’ve got people on hold, what are you doing? Oh you’re on the phone, never mind.”

Don’t talk, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t be late, don’t leave early, don’t be sick, don’t make mistakes, don’t look after your children let your spouse deal… You’re at work now. We OWN you!, don’t don’t don’t ….

The place is about punishment of the workers. Management is really big on THE STICK, not so much about the carrot.

How stop panic attacks step step

I’m seriously considering doing something that is so unbelievably stupid I can’t believe I’m even considering it. I’m considering walking into HR and just handing them my badge.

Things have been getting worse over the past couple of months but the accident catalyzed a series of events that have made working for these people a thousand times more difficult.

When I first started working there, it was pretty good.

You felt like people mostly had your back. You had a hour for lunch, which meant that you could eat out, (Actually leave the campus. San Diego traffic is epically bad! ) On Saturdays and Sundays I’d hop in my car, go to Starbucks and have a more or less civilized breakfast / lunch. I had time to cool down and relax.

During the week when traffic was worse, I’d eat something from the company store, and take a walk on the bike trail that goes through a small wilderness area. It was relaxing and served to reset me from the stresses of the morning phone calls and the whining people trying to cajole me into giving them something for free, as if their nasally “My Chiiiild is X, Y, or Z” was going to move me.

Screensnapz0041

Look, I’m going to take care of the situation without you doing that. Stop badgering me about your fucking child. I had nothing to do with it’s creation or it’s maintenance. I didn’t put that bun in your oven and aside from my respect for life, I have no interest in it.

Take 5 of those calls in a row and all you want to do is scream.

At the time, the annoyance was balanced by knowing that I’d get to take a walk, enjoy the fresh air, and I could commiserate with my coworkers.

Then about 6 months ago, our lunches were cut to 1/2 hour. This was around the same time that a system of “Occurrences” was instituted. Think of them like demerits. If you were late (regardless of the reason, Flood, Fire, Police activity, Mudslide, Car Accident, etc.) you’d get a demerit. and these add up until the magical number of 12. At that point they fire you.

Walking path

Okay, I see it, but we live in Southern California. The company is in a city that ranks #5 in the nation for bad drivers and driving.

Not really a problem except that the system was, and is, unevenly enforced. If you have a human manager, there is leeway. If you have a manager that is an asshat, well you’re screwed even if you get T-boned on the way to work.

Around the same time, we were moved into an area of the building that was still under construction and almost all of us were sick as dogs Jan through Mar. I mean, they had signs up on the doors warning you as you came in that dust and chemicals being used were known to the state of California to cause various health issues.

I got moved under an open ceiling with an open A/C duct (No grate, just a 12 inch diameter open tube) That thing blew down on me all day every day and required wearing a down coat just to sit at my desk without freezing.

Open Ceiling

The excuse the company uses is “We’re just growing so fast

My manager at the time (one of two decent managers at the company) saw this when he came back from vacation and moved me immediately. He was carting the monitor and I was carrying the computer.  He was honestly pissed off about it.  Sadly, about 4 or 5 months ago he moved out to AZ and I got stuck with my new manager who is frankly… an asshat.

After the accident, I took a few days off. Seemed reasonable, I mean my car was totaled, I was hurt, and it took a day or two to get my shit back togeather. In a reasonable office, that would’ve been no big deal. In this place… well it became literally a fucking Federal case.

Flash forward a couple months and I’m still hurting.

It helps to walk around, and you’d figure that standing up to stretch then walking to an authority figure to ask a question would be ok.

Kill two birds with one stone, get the information you need and stretch out the kinks. In my book that’s a twofer and is faster than typing a message into skype, waiting for a response, then asking another question, waiting for a response, etc.

Well with my boss it’s not. NOW we all have to remain in our seats.

Really?

Romper room marching

What are we running? Romper Room?

Anyhow, it’s been getting worse and with each passing day it takes more energy to not say exactly what I feel. Yesterday, I was already cruising at stress level yellow. I’d just come back from my oh so generous lunch break (eaten alone, as usual because no-one else has the same lunch time,) when back to back to back there are calls from what can only be described as Nutjobs.

One was a woman on some kind of mission to badger the hell out of whoever was unfortunate enough to answer the phone. (I wrote it off as luck of the draw.) I finished the paperwork and answered the next call.

Douche

The next call was an idiot hipster who was crazier than the first person, demanding to know why he was having problems, (of course there are too many variables to give this idiot an exact answer) so my inability to provide an exact answer meant that he had to punish me. Sigh…

The next one was a crazy lady I think I’d spoken to in the past. I remembered her only after she hung up on me hysterically sobbing. Again “Why isn’t this working?” I go through all the troubleshooting and come to the conclusion that she’s not telling me the truth about anything.

I drop back to absolute facts, Device A is communicating properly with device B and therefore the issue is with device C. She doesn’t want to hear that, I can only assume it’s because the truth is inconvenient.

At which point I tell her I’m going to send her a replacement for device C. “I don’t think that’s the problem,” she says choking up.

Hysterical

I reiterate that Device A and B appear to be working and she’s just confirmed it. Now she’s sobbing. I ask how I can help. She replies, “make it work.” As though I have some magic way of correcting the issue across 3000 miles. Then she hangs up on me.

In my head, and it’s my problem, I recognize that. My stress level jumps above redline. I am officially losing control and rage is winning. I realize that the next person who crosses any line with me is going to be the recipient of my full and uncontrolled wrath.

In my head I heard a warning klaxon, and a voice saying, “Warning core breach in 90 seconds, Abandon ship…

If I felt like I could have talked to my manager, or his lead to ask for a few minutes respite to collect my thoughts, I’d have been OK. But THEY BOTH have me on “IGNORE”.  My entreaties for assistance via Skype all morning long have gone unacknowledged and unanswered.

Bad Manager quote

I have no backup or support.

I finish the paperwork to send the sobbing woman Item C. I sit there for a beat or two and realize that I’m exhibiting symptoms of a physiological reaction.

I’m drenched in sweat, my mouth is dry, there’s roaring in my ears, my pulse is pounding like I’m running a marathon, I can’t focus my thoughts and last but certainly not least, I’ve just developed a raging case of the shits!

I take care of the last item first.

Coming back to my assigned seat I get the stink eye from my boss and his underling.

The roaring in my ears comes back louder than before and my gut twists menacingly.

“Right, I think to myself, I’m going to go home to shit my brains out alone.”

League of legends brand 1021336

I collect my belongings, tell the underling that I’m ill and am going home. I was barely holding the anger and panic in check and probably sounded a bit rougher than I intended.

A bonsai run up the freeway later, I arrive at my little crapshack apartment and spend the next 2 hours on “The Throne”

While sitting there, I had time to contemplate.

My conclusion was that I need to quit that place, put it in my rear view mirror and never look back. Grabbing my trusty iPhone I composed my two line resignation letter and uploaded it to my dropbox account.

Hey, at least I had the presence of mind to not send it from the toilet.”

Givingme shits 1280px

I decided then and there I was not going to work today. The jury is still out about tomorrow, although the deliberation is leaning heavily toward sending the toilet resignation.

As I attained a calmer frame of mind, I began analyzing what had happened.

Over the past months, I’ve not been sleeping well. I wake several times a night in a blind panic. I’m tired all the time, either from not sleeping or from the constant stress. I’m becoming withdrawn and somewhat antisocial.  All of which is adding up to me becoming less, well… “Me” and generally  becoming humorless and very unhappy.

Happiness isn’t something I expect to have all the time, it’s not even something I expect to have 1/2 the time. But I do expect to be on an even keel. I shouldn’t be dreading going to work. I shouldn’t be afraid of my boss or afraid to make a mistake. This job is, after all simply something I do to pay the bills. I’ve never thought of what I’m doing now, as my future.  It was just a way to make things happen, to experiment, and to weather the storm of shitty employment opportunities until I could return to my actual Career… Whatever that is.

So I’ve sent out a bunch of resumes / job applications, and gotten a bunch of “Hot Job opportunities” from a ton of fly-by-night organizations that appear to have IP addresses originating in India. Which means they’re not opportunities for me, but I suspect are opportunities for someone in India to steal my identity.

I’ll vet the Hot jobs but am not going to hold my breath on any of them.

I’m actually in a better state of mind because I have realized that I can in fact quit this job any time I like. It wouldn’t be easy and financially it would be a disaster, but it might end up being the best course of action if only so that I can regain my balance. Perhaps it would keep me in a frame of mind that is better suited to my finding something better to do.

I’ve also thought about the risky option of going to my bosses boss and asking to be placed on another team and therefore under another boss.

This option is risky because my boss would of course know that I want to get away from him. It would be a ding on his career, (I know several others on the team have asked to be reassigned,) once I make my wishes known, it could make things a lot worse. But I have the opportunity to simply walk the hell out.

In the mean time for as long as I can take it, I’ll keep collecting a paycheck. Paltry as it is, income is income.

I wasn’t going to publish this piece. I thought it was perhaps too whiny, maybe it is.

I decided to press the “Publish” button because it occurred to me that I might not be alone in working for a shitty employer. If that is true, and someone else is struggling with the same kind of crap. Perhaps it would help to know they’re not alone.

SO the take-away is this:

You don’t have to put up with shit. You are still in control and you do have options, even if you can’t see them clearly.

Check out the employment regulations in your state and see if they have an option where you can get unemployment even if you quit the job. You might be able to get unemployment, because the situation you’re working in is just so bad, a reasonable person wouldn’t be expected to remain in such an unreasonable situation.  If your state has regulations regarding this kind of situation, follow their requirements to the letter.

Then if you decide to say “Take this job and shove it” you may still have a small safety net.

From experience, I can say just writing a toilet resignation can go a long way toward helping you regain your control. I don’t recommend sending it while your guts are turning themselves inside out.

Boy! I love warranties

Driving to work at 4am.

I accelerate to pass yet another San Diego asshat driver. Really? The freeway is wide open and you’re playing pacecar, racing me?

Dumbass left in the dust… 

I’m slowing down back to my normal cruising speed. Cruise control takes over and I settle in for the 25 minute ride. Then there’s a little yellow light on the control console. Humm, That looks like a little motor. 

HAL 9000

I ask the computer what’s wrong?

“All systems check OK”

“Are you on acid?”

“All systems check OK”

The computer is giving me two different readings. “Well that’s annoying,” I think to myself.

I also think this is reminiscent of the exchange between David Bowman and HAL in 2001 a Space Odyssey. 

I vaguely remember this symbol being printed on the gas door. Something to do with emissions control. I keep driving but am paying more attention to the control console and the engine status. 

It’s Labor Day, so I know there’s no point trying to get the car to a repair facility. I’ll “baby it” until I get to work, then check the gas cap.

I get to work, & park. I check the gas cap, then screw it back down until it locks.

Heading home after work, the little annoying light is still on.

Okaaay. Something is not right.  I get home and decide that after work tomorrow, I’m going to have to drop the car off at a local dealer to be checked out.

I drop the car off the next afternoon.

The local dealership is nice, efficient and I hope good. I have trust issues with mechanics and dealerships.

The dealership puts me in a fully loaded X3. Nice, if a bit large.

The service guy tells me my car should be ready to go the next day. 

Overheated Car

Late in the afternoon, I get a call from the dealership, it’s a thermostat.

How is that NOT a big enough issue for the computer to scream about?

Oh well, obviously the thermostat broke in the open position. I’m glad I didn’t just write it off as a gas cap and drive to Riverside in the heat.

Not a pretty image!

Anyhow, it’s a free repair. The dealership is going to be free under warranty. 

All in all, aside from the inconvenience of having to take the car to a dealership. It’s a good outcome.

I’ll have my lady back and then figure out what to do with the rest of my “weekend”.

Another Workweek in the bag

And thank GOD!

The place I work is a dumpster fire.

We’re losing people, including a director that has barely been there a year. I can’t blame anyone for leaving, and the fact that people are jumping ship as fast as there are speaks well of the job market.

I’m sitting at a bar waiting on a buddy. We’re going to have beers and burgers and commiserate.

Our workplace is mind numbing. I honestly feel like working there has made me stupid. Perhaps I was stupid for accepting the position in the first place.

We both need to drink and eat, and then forget, if only for a short time what a waste of time the place is.

For fuck sake we’re both better than this, and we both know it. Depression, Stress, and feelings of abject hopelessness are the common elements of being there. Both of us are trying like hell to find something else.

If I could, I’d pimp us both out for sex work. At least then we’d know we’d done a good job and the job was finished.

Humm… Nah! His wife would never go for it!

My buddy said he’d take a job for the same money cleaning toilets. Essentially that’s what we’re doing anyway. He puts it this way, “Our job is to apologize, and give people free shit.”

Sadly, he’s absolutely correct.

I don’t know how much more I can take.

The last time I was this angry and pissed off with a job. It was a company that catered to the entertainment industry. That place was so bad, I threw up every single day, on the way to work.  Eventually, after throwing up on a poor cactus I just stopped going in. I seem to recall their HR finally getting interested and demanding that I make the drive down there to sign paperwork. They threatened to hold my paycheck until I went back in. I told them about this wonderful technology called a FAX machine.

Eventually, they sent me my check.

Then I took them to EDD for breach of contract and won.

I really hate Busybodies

Gladys

Abner! There’s something strange going on over there.

There’s a whole lot of folks that won’t get that reference.

For those of you that do… Well, we’re probably of a similar age.

Anyhoo, I’m heading into the laundry room (Locked by the way, so I have my key.) and this old woman comes out onto her little patio to tell me that I’m not allowed to use the laundry room.

“Is it out of order,” I ask.

“No you can’t use it because it’s for residents only.”

“I’m a resident.”

“You can’t be, you’re not old enough, so don’t lie to me. I’m calling the manager.”

“Call away! I pay my rent on time and cause no-one any trouble. Let’s see how this plays out with Michelle.”

Laundry Room

I walk into the laundry room and go on about my business. She on the other hand does not go about her business. Apparently, Now I’m her business.

“I’m not calling the apartment management, If you keep putting your clothes in the washers I will unplug them when you’re gone,” She yells from the safety of her patio.

“Look ‘Gladys’ that would be a mistake on your part, I’m a resident here and have been for a year and a half,” I say loudly.

I’m calling the cops!”

I think, “OH for Fucks sake.” 

I go back to the door of the laundry room, “Really? You honestly think that this is a matter for the police?”

“Yes, I’m afraid!”

I on the other hand am PISSED. All I wanted to do was get my laundry in the washer, go back to my apartment, have another cup of coffee, some breakfast, and then come back to put my stuff in the dryer.

“Afraid of WHAT? Its broad daylight, there are people all over the place, what could you possibly think is going to happen? You’d be better served by minding your own business, instead of trying to provoke a conflict. If you think something is amiss after observing a situation for a few minutes, then call the cops.”

“You’re wearing a ball cap, and you look too young to be here. You’re up to no good.”

I take off my baseball cap, just to check and make sure it’s not a confederate flag, or an American flag, or NRA logo or a Swastika. It’s not. It says, “Dive” with a small little divers flag. 

“Look you old crone, profile much? Is the white in my beard not enough for you? The crows feet around my eyes don’t tell you I’m old enough? Who the hell died and made you die Führer? Where exactly do you get off calling someone a liar to their face? What would it take, you want to see the gray hair on my balls? Would that do it? ”

Gladys2

Crossed a line there… I know. The stunned look on her face was damn funny… and totally worth it.

Just as I delivered that line, Michelle, the apartment manager was rounding the corner. She laughed out loud.

I turned towards the sound.

“Oh hey Michelle, sorry about that, would you explain to this person that I’m a resident?”

Michelle in her usual calm way said, “Sure, Happy to do it.”

“Thanks”

I went back into the laundry room, and went about my business. I could hear the wannabe Gladys Kravitz saying, “How was I to know?”

Michelle responded, “Because he had a key to the laundry room.”

“Well, he was rude to me.”

“From what I heard, it sounded like you provoked him. He’s one of our best tenants, quiet, generally nice, pays his rent, makes good suggestions, takes action when it’s warranted, but mostly keeps to himself.” 

Laundry started, I locked and closed the door to the laundry room, then went back to the relative solitude of my own apartment.

Over my next cup of coffee a bunch of things that went through my mind.

Trump

Why was that lady afraid? What prompts fear that makes you treat complete strangers as if they’re out to get you?

I’ll grant you, the chaos of our nation isn’t easy to deal with.  I wonder if unreasoning fear is part of what’s driving the chaos.

Yeah, Trump may not be your guy or even the guy, but he’s only the most recent in a long line of Presidents, and he’s not a dictator. Well, not yet anyway.

Nixon

I mean, you could say that the quality of Presidents, while always hit & miss, has perhaps been more miss than hit since the Nixon administration.

Perhaps longer, but I came of age the day Nixon left office under a cloud of corruption and scandal.

I can’t comment too much on Presidents up to the Nixon era because I was blissfully ignorant & uncaring of anything except my next little league game.

What happened to live and let live? Why would someone feel it’s necessary to try to reach out and control the actions of a complete stranger, especially when there is nothing to gain and the likelihood you’ll start a conflict?

It makes no sense to me. 

NAZI SS

Maybe I’m the odd man out. I just want to get through my day unmolested and without molesting anyone else. I’m seeking peace and simplicity, not angst and conflict (conflict leading to complication).

To put it simply, I just want to be left the hell alone.

I care nothing for politics. I care nothing for grandiose protests or demonstrations. Largely, these acts of theater don’t bring change.

I sure as hell don’t believe in vandalism of anyone’s property (state or private) whether I agree with them or not.

There is a better way, a peaceful way. It’s the way of listening and speaking with calm and logic, not violence and cruelty.

If someone isn’t going to listen to rational conversation, they’re not going to listen to riots. They’ll take action, usually draconian, but they will not have heard what you were trying to say.

ISIL

Granted, I didn’t practice what I preach this morning. So sue me, I hadn’t had my second cup of coffee yet.

In retrospect, perhaps I could see why the lady was afraid. If all she’s been seeing is CNN and Fox News. Perhaps she’s concluded that anyone wearing a dark colored hat is ANTIFA and she’s afraid of what that means. 

ANTIFA

I know I find myself looking at the ANTIFA crowd and thinking that they behave a lot more like fascists, and look more like the Symbionese Liberation Army, or ISIS than the historical depictions of the NAZI SS.

At least the SS was neatly dressed and you typically saw their faces, instead of looking like the depictions of traditional roadside bandits, or bank robbers.

My Grandmother once said, “If you’re doing something where you feel you need to cover your face, it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing.

She had a point. Protesting in the open where people can see your face says two things. 1) You’re not ashamed of your position. 2) You want to stand up and be counted and recognize there may be consequences. 

I have respect for anyone who is open and unafraid to speak their mind. I don’t have to agree, but I do have to respect their dedication and position.

I wonder if the need to control other’s actions is a reflection of just basic insecurity.

The world is too big to control and there are too many moving parts so people try to control the local things; don’t Smoke, don’t drink, don’t let your children walk home or ride the bus. Don’t eat fatty foods, don’t get fat, don’t be too thin.

Does insecurity inevitably lead to imposition of measures to control everyone else? 

If that assertion is true, it leads to a simple equation. You must be an elite pulling the strings, or else you’re one of the people being led around.

So you’re right back to fear being the root cause of a lot of the problems we see today.

My friends, its time to step into the light. Go forth into your day and your community being unafraid. Choose to see the better in people and understand that we all have the same basic needs, wants, and desires.

Speak your mind, listen to others, and really hear them. You don’t have to agree, just acknowledge that other peoples opinions and beliefs matter too. Recognize that you’re not necessarily right, and treat others with respect. Instead of running to tell a cop someone dropped trash somewhere, bend over and pick it up. Set a good example, and pay no attention to the people acting badly.

Hopefully, in time, the world will become a better place because we choose to lead by example, not by force.

That’s not to say force is off the table. But it should always be a last resort.

Time to put the clothes in the dryer…