Monday, July 31, 2006

Everyone does something disgusting

Here it is, the height of summer, it's been really hot for this area (which still can't hold a candle to how it's been where I grew up but it's not supposed to get hot here!), and I've caught a nasty cold. Sweet gay love... The sinus headache I said I had/was getting a week ago and then later got a taste of is nothing compared to the pressure in my head right now. I lost a bunch of sleep last night but not really in a bad way -- I was dreaming on and off through the night that I was installing a new fan in my bathroom. (The real thing is prettier and flatter than the maker's illustration.) I guess I would have preferred to actually be doing it rather than sleeping, but only tweakers do that degree of home improvement in the middle of the night... which is in part why the home improvements need to be done in the first place. This cold is sapping my energy, so I should be fairly happy that it got bad after the weekend ended; we did get a few things accomplished toward our bathroom renovation process. Work meanwhile is as fun as ever; today is my first day in a new desk, which I know I shall have to move out of before long, and I've managed to get my workspace and computer set up to my specifications. The phone system is still stupid and directs calls to the wrong places or not at all -- albeit that the people in customer service do the same. Now if only I had a decent chair... there wasn't one at my new desk and the one chair I've found in the wild is a proven cause of scoliosis. [hunts office, finds prey, escorts back to desk, uses scissors as pliers to tighten loose bolts, marks territory] At least I like my momentary supervisor, and she had the sense to go home early today. And coworkers have set up a ping-pong table on the next aisle. I don't have anything particularly fascinating to say other than all the stuff above, so I'm going to stifle another painful sneeze and post this.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A total eclipse of the mind

I didn't gripe too much about the state of work last time because I was in a better frame of mind about work. Today I'm in my f*ck-it Friday frame of mind. :) I talked to a supervisor today who says that today I will be moving to a different desk and group (uh, yeah, Milton, if you could just move your desk into the basement, that would be great...) in anticipation of a team change taking place in a week or so. Confederate gunfire Er, sure, changing everything for all of one week, that makes sense, right. This weekend's plans include going to the Spanaway Days festival, the Folklife Festival at Wright Park, getting a brakejob at the closest muffler & brake shop (I'm not squealing but I have been told by the dealer that I have less than 10% of my pads left, and judging by how my wheel shakes at decelleration I'm sure this is true), and some computer fix0ring for someone whose WinXP blue-screens frequently. And that's all on Saturday; we haven't any Sunday plans yet. We have started acquiring tile, tasty green tile, and I figure we might pick some more up on Saturday if there's time since the place we're shopping is closed on Sundays.

Song in my head at the moment: a-ha, The Swing Of Things. Best of luck to my newish friend Tater, who got married today.

If anyone wonders what the title line of the previous entry meant (as my wife did): the spam-bandit who had been deluging the Guestbook of Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul from three locations using a script, thus wasn't dependant upon my Scrawl page being online to post, has ceased at last. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. August's set of photos is up now, by the way.

Stupidity of yesterday: Edict was handed down from on high to the entire organization saying, "Everyone must take this pass/fail test about account security, per the corporate overlords we outsource for... to take it, go to this internal page, click this link, and select this test. Check your scheduling system for the timeframe you have been designated to take the test." Sounds simple enough.
My timeframe was listed for the half hour after my shift. Er, great, but it's slow enough that I can do it during the shift and still get paid the overtime. Okay, let's follow the directions... go to this site, check; go to this link -- er, that's under a submenu and they failed to mention the main category, but I found it anyway, check; click the link and... more purdy flowers with bugs
Er, it's asking for my username and password for a rarely-used tool I haven't had a working login for in six months. Two supervisors ago said she'd have it reset but nothing happened. [I brought this up to her today, since for the next week she's my supervisor again... She handed me a key card, which only took a week to get.] I prairie-dog and look around, and several other people are saying the same thing to one another, with an additional "why did they put that test in this tool, rather than in our Learning & Testing Center page?" tossed in. Looking at the directions again, indeed there's absolutely no mention of the login step, it goes blithely from click-the-link to select-the-test as though there wasn't a completely different website behind the link. Par for the course. Looks like we're not going to be taking that test for awhile, since it takes Whomever eight weeks to reset passwords [according to my once and future supe, the last time she tried to get it changed].

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

As they say in the South: Some people need a-killin'.

Greetings, all. I played hookey from work yesterday to take a mental health day but told them I was getting a bad sinus headache. Cheddar wants into the sink And that prophesy came true; when I went to get my hair cut in the early afternoon I had such a sinus headache I could hardly see. I did need the day off, I had a lot on my mind (beside snot), and I will only say that if you want to see before & after photos of my bathroom remodel be prepared to see them at 1.2 megapixel quality rather than clearly. (Whole lotta stupidity I don't care to discuss involved, none of which was my doing.) Over the weekend we procured a new vanity countertop with built-in basin and a very unique medicine cabinet, both from this little place called the Building Materials Outlet for 1/2 - 1/3 of the price of the home improvement warehouses. Hurray Outlet! We're still trying to figure out the tile situation but I think we may have come up with a winner for the majority of the floor (our intention is to throw some alternate color tiles in for accent): this greyish-teal 3"-square stuff that's on clearance at Ceramic Tile Center. The fun begins on the 19th of August but I think we will want to start ripping the molding and stuff off the walls sooner. Or I do anyway.

I'm getting a kick out of these Red Stripe beer ads that show up during sporting events (mostly on ESPN)... an odd scene comes up, like the freaky podiatrist or the guy using a Flowbee-like device on his head, and then the Ambassador (at left) shows up to say "Boo Creepy Foot Doctor -- Hurray Beer!" or "Boo Vacuum Cleaner Attachment Haircuts -- Hurray Beer!" I have not seen the "Boo Large Headed Friend" ad with the stretched-out sweater yet. I love funny ads for products I don't use.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cubicle in a box, ready to roll, just add techie.

So today we got a big announcement: My group is moving to a new building. This isn't big news, we've known since last year that we'd be teleporting into the new building and half of our coworkers are already there. However, the surprise was that this move takes place tomorrow. 24 hours notice. On a Thursday, so the big change becomes effective on a Friday morning. Thank you for the advanced notice, guys! Last time we'd heard a reliable rumor it was that the move would be in August. He's hot! But I suppose it could be worse; I could be punted into a customer service role, as 120 of my coworkers have, without their consent -- they got at least 48 hours notice though, and their first day in the new digs was a Monday.
[24 hrs later: We have established a new high in "it could be worse" -- the IT folks disabled the network drives two hours into my shift, preventing several of us from backing up our data, and do not plan to turn them back on for another three days.... so we had to survive Friday without our Internet Explorer links to tools, our stored mail, and a few other things. And some passwords aren't working, and our phone system's recorded answer messages disappeared, and the keycards from the old building don't work here and no mention has been made as to how we get new ones, and...]

Please try to ignore the studliness of the young man above. His wiles are nearly irresistable. I told you I'd share some of the goofiness seen at Nile Valley Days... This picture and the next one came from that event.

I may have written about this before, but I'm not going to check the history to see. A bit young for that If I have, this is merely notification of "It's still true!": In the men's restroom of the building I (for the rest of today) work in, there's a GoJo hand soap dispenser glued to the bottom-middle of the mirror. It's full and the bag never needs to be changed because the pump is broken; the handle isn't connected to any mechanism. I'm sure if I described that soap dispenser, I also mentioned that both of the toilet paper holders in one stall are broken (one has been yanked completely off, the other has the tab that holds the front on broken off)... yes, still, the paper rolls sit on the handrail. Undoubtedly I've mentioned how this building is habitable from 9am until 6pm weekdays, and outside of those hours/days you can boil or freeze because the HVAC doesn't come on when the other building tenants aren't around. Maybe that's why my department is in such a fleeting hurry to get out of the building... apathetic management. Hopefully we have control of the paper and the thermostat at the new building.

If this kid sticks his balls in my face, he's going to be the only little girl in junior high (five years from now) who will never sprout boobies. Who bought him this shirt?

Here's a local stupidity: Concerned citizens were upset that minimarts were able to sell swords and knives, so they met with the city government leaders about the matter. After some time and deliberation, the city has now banned the sale of morning stars, maces, butterfly knives, other specialty weapons, and so forth... but knives and swords are still legal. Apparently there's a problem with defining what a knife or sword is, so anything that can be categorized more clearly was an easier target. Gotta love laws and law-makers that totally miss their intention.

There will be more hunting up home improvement supplies this weekend, as well as a trip to the Saturn dealer to get my 90,000 mile checkup... about 7,000 miles late. The idiot light on the dashboard for "check engine soon" came on near Enumclaw last weekend (the other reason for stopping in that parking lot, beside taking the picture at the bottom of last entry) but I know it's just a reminder to get regular maintenance, not an actual alert of an issue. Or I'll presume such; the thought of being stuck in Enumclaw wasn't a happy one (even though at this moment they're hosting the King County Fair which I've never been to but long intended to visit) and I've driven 370 miles since then without that light turning back on. The priority of the weekend will be selecting and possibly obtaining floor tile. Below we have another fine example of what can be found at Chinook Pass -- really neat flowers.
Purdy flowers, Mt Rainier

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm living that healthy Northwest outdoor lifestyle

It was another beautiful weekend of running around goofing off one day and running around investigating home improvement supplies the next day. Nile Valley Days was still as small and charming as ever; we missed the lumberjack events and they ran out of huckleberry ice cream (and elephant ears!!), it seems, but we did watch the eggtoss and a Civil War reenactment. Paper plate visor We spent plenty of time at this rest stop on Chinook Pass looking at native plant life and this woman using a paper plate as a visor. At one point I'd pulled over near a snowfield to get some snow to wipe off the windshield (officially the only clean spot on my car presently) when a DMC SuperCar went by... I had my camera in hand but was so astounded I forgot it was there. My wife has been insisting, despite that casino's radio ad saying they are raffling one off, that Supers are not available in the States yet, so she was rather surprised too. So from my few seconds of seeing one in action: They are cute but freaky. And by freaky, for some reason it reminded me of one of the space characters used by Freakies cereal in the 1970's. [Hi Jamie!]

Sunday was spent at Home Depot and Lowes and the home disrepair departments of Target and Fred Meyer and Kmart, though the only thing we actually bought was a light fixture at Costco ($15!). The tile place down the street will wait until next weekend, I guess, but we now have some concept of what supplies we need and how much time it will take to lay the floor (approximately five days on top of the drying time for the paint on the walls/cabinet). This ought to be fun. There are two facets of our bathroom we're not going to touch: first, we don't need to mess with the shower stall itself, though the curtain and rod will be changed and the caulk around the tub needs to be replaced (if only so my bride will stop complaining about how bad it looks; it's supposed to be clear but it's dirt-colored); second, we're not going to try to fix the window framing. Before we bought the house a previous owner had the original windows replaced with energy-efficient ones, but whomever mounted them did a horrible job -- they're straight, but there are huge chunks where the originals were dug out and rough spackle where they were filled in. We're just going to ignore that, other than applying some fresh paint over the carnage. I told you that crackheads owned the house prior to us! Taking up the linoleum should be a lot of fun, since we have no idea what's under there. We have more faith that this bathroom will have a proper subfloor, whereas our other bathroom we know for a fact (by walking on that painted!! linoleum) the entire room was done in an 18 hour nonstop span after several drags off the glass pipe. It's an adventure and we're gonna live it.

Repeating that special message for Gab:

Why hast thou forsaken me??

I remembered what I was going to say last time but have again forgotten it. :) Below is a photo I took of Mount Rainier from Enumclaw, WA on Saturday. Chinook Pass usually has a great view of the mountain but while there it was as though the mountain didn't even exist -- we were likely close to that grey band you see here. There were plenty of stupidities seen on the trip, mostly among the people at the festival, but I'll throw up photos of those here every so often. A majority of this blog entry was written while on hold to the helpdesk, since someone has scheduled only one lead from 5:30pm until 9:00pm, and that does qualify as really incredibly stupid. [Postscript: The issue I was on hold for so long about -- er, was easily solved: seems I never checked to find out whether the damn phone was even turned on. I qualify now as one of today's Stupidities!] Anyhow. Enjoy the scenery...
Mt Rainier from Enumclaw

Friday, July 14, 2006

I'm like Bob Vila except I do the work.

It's a nice bit of synchronicity that when I sat down to write here yesterday, not only did I have nothing to say but Blogger didn't really want to listen. My innards seem to have calmed down more; I don't feel quite as conscious of myself. Watch that be a placebo effect: watching a Rerun on DVD "the lab tests say I'm okay, I must be!" Sure. Tomorrow I'll head over to Nile Valley Days, wheeee! I'm taking a week off work in August to do some home improvements; I'm labelling this Extreme Home Makeover Edition and the agenda is to paint the bathroom in two shades of green (and removing all traces of divots from paint layers that fell off the drywall and the paint rim from around where a previous medicine cabinet hung), replace the countertop and basin after stripping the cabinet of old paint and paper, change the vanity lighting, remove then restain the medicine cabinet and rehang it, lay down tile and of course that all entails ripping out the molding and backsplash plus recaulking around the tub and removing/reinstalling the toilet. And that's... What's Happening?!?

Special message for Gab:

Why hast thou forsaken me??

I had some great anecdote to write here but it slipped my mind over lunch. Arts festivals near beaches will do that to you. Meantime, one bit of stupidity... After work today I'm going to a party for a formerĀ² coworker (former-squared as in I worked with her at the ISP as well as this current gig, which she left a week ago). She announced her departure because she found a higher-paying job, then within a day was walked out because she was recruiting others to join her at the new place. Truth in advertising I can't blame her with the pay raise and new-hire incentive they're offering. However, I was one of the people who said "nah, that's okay" when the subject was broached, because I worked for that company for all of three days... I've discussed this place before [not here]: their HR department works independantly from the rest of the company so while they need a hundred people yesterday the people they bring in for training get the bum's rush two per day so by the end of the week there's no training class left. Coworkers (from here and as well as the ISP) who've also spent time there or have friends there also know better. I told her she'd be looking for work again in short order but she appeared bewildered at the concept. Best of luck, Star... you will need it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Did you hang up?" No, I just said 'click'.

Hours after the last time I wrote "no, I haven't heard anything from the lab" I went out to the mailbox and, lo and behold, there were the lab results. My shit's fine, he says Judging by how my insides feel right now, in part due to the excellent Ravioli di Portabello at Olive Garden last night, I truly disagree with the you're-fiiiiine assessment. Something's still up. Did I somehow become partially lactose intolerant suddenly? Is this nature's way of saying I should eat more grains and fruits, and leave the stuff I actually eat on a daily basis behind? (Not that I had a great diet or anything, but that fact is now catching up with me?) Feh. I don't have anything stellar to say right now; as I write this I'm on hold with a customer service agent and a customer who is being sued by his own mom over some disability benefits he's entitled to and refused to be rooked into signing over to other people who aren't related... he's describing his legal situation to someone in the background, with me sitting here on mute. My job is dull but parts are really fascinating.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rules are made to be broken. -Smart tagline

When we got there, the cupboard was bareHere's another photo from the lost weekend. It was the next morning, around 8:30 a.m., and I'm wandering around trying to get my eyes open and brain functioning. I pulled a jug of Minute Maid™ Cherry Limeade out of the fridge and said hello to the autographed photo of Arthur Godfrey on the freezer door [I was meaning to ask them about that...], went to the counter to find a glass into which I could pour this fluid, and the scene at left greeted me. (As a matter of fact, yes, I was wandering around in my morning stupor with my camera hanging around my neck.) The couple's really cool wedding announcement, mounted in an old paper studio-portrait frame, is on the middle shelf left of the plastic bags; they've been hitched for three years. The only food in the cupboard is two cans of beans... now THAT'S a party!! I'd say we ate them out of house and home, but for the fact that there was still plenty of beer in the fridge. You'd think that would have been the first casualty?

A few words on my intestines: Yesterday I had my first truly solid bowel movement, but the next one (about an hour later) proved that while I'm somewhat better I'm not cured. I miss having my bowl of Count Chocula in the morning; I've been eating bagels so I don't consume milk (never mind that bagel gets a shmear of butter or creamy cheesy cheesy cream) and I think it's helped me a bit. Still no test results yet.

I don't have anything particularly stupid to report at the moment, but I can flip the coin and mention something to the contrary of a gripe I had last entry. Smart - City Coupe Passion The opposite of the 13mpg-city/19mpg-highway Escalade is the DaimlerChrysler Smart line, which reportedly gets 45mpg-city and 60-70mpg-highway. Sure, it makes a Cooper Mini (25mpg-city, 32mpg-highway) look like a sedan, and it's a gnat under an SUV's wheels. [Tangental thought: I'm shocked that the new generation of VW Rabbits (22mpg-city, 30mpg-highway) doesn't have better fuel economy.] But dammit, this critter has the best gas mileage on the market presently, and that matters a lot. If DMC can successfully market this line in the States (the company has been asked to dump the line in some countries because it's losing money), it'd be way cool if they came up with a hybrid version, muahahaah!! And if the American public still chooses Hummers over Gaia, it'll be just another forward-thinking Yugo (joke all you want, but it got 25mpg-city, 31mpg-highway) or Crossley (45mpg-highway in 1942) on the highway of history.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I will never say no to meat

Hello, party people! I had a great weekend, the sort where you just want to take up surfing and pursue the endless summer after; the kind where you never want to punch a clock or deal with a consumer starfish ever again afterward. To get the issue out of the way: The state of my innards is okay but not solved. It was to my advantage that I ate mostly natural foods, didn't have much dairy, and laid off the Lamisil for three days [don't tell my bride!] so I feel somewhat better and things seems halfway solid, but by no means am I fully back to normal. My wife asks how I can have an appetite when I'm in this state, and she seems to have the tummy bug worse than myself, and I say that I need my nutrition and energy level up. I'm back at work and doing pretty well, mostly because for many Americans it's the Independance Day Extended Weekend. Or was, until the Workforce Manglers sent a bunch of techies home, so it's gone from 8 minutes between calls to 8 callers on hold.

The Taste of Tacoma was big and beautiful, and I'll have to remember that Friday is the best day to go due to a large but somewhat smaller than on a weekend day crowd. It's always tough to decide what to spend the food coupons on because there's so much good stuff, and I'm in the habit of not eating in the same places I've eaten in previous years. Awesome gas mileage This time I had a seafood pita at the Bayou place and a chocolate-banana crêpe. I don't recall what munchies Paige had, but of course they were good. As usual we spent a couple hours at the comedy club tent, and saw two okay jokesters... maybe that's another Friday verses Weekend difference, usually we're in stitches but with these two we were merely amused. The real comedy was when this old woman near where we sat down for the second show got rowdy and slapped this chick at a table for "not showing respect" or something. The woman told the Liquor Control Board bouncer at the door, who called security, who escorted the oldster out about ten seconds before the comedian took the stage. (More fun with aggro senior citizens in a moment.) We had our fun and after a porta-potty stop or two we went home; surprisingly I got to bed at a reasonable hour, mostly by putting off my trip preparation until the morning. The image above, and the Taste is sponsored by a few auto dealers so this vehicle was being raffled off, is in regard to what I was complaining about last time, how vehicles with really really bad gas mileage are not only being produced but are being hyped heavily.

Saturday I loaded up my toothbrush and drove 145 miles south to Portland, arriving near noon-twenty because getting out of bed was a challenge. The trip down I-5 was interesting because there was this old man in a Beemer with California handicap plates who was tailgating me... and I was doin' 80 mph! Eventually he blazed past me (and everyone else), likely getting back home by nappy-time since Oregon is only 320 miles tall. Go Grandpa! Anyhow, I found the house courtesy of good directions (translation: I was given the street address of a location across the street that caused Google Maps to mark the right house, and a description of the house so I could find it once I reached the street address) and some friends, old and new, were there in the back yard, and other old and new friends came along as time passed. I took off my shoes and stayed on the back porch until probably 2am. The house was owned by the hosts' family for generations so it had a definite Grandma's House feel to it, and the hosts seemed to long for days they weren't born in -- they're in their early 20's and their decor favors the early 1970's (velvet paintings, amber lamps, owls, and other things I remember being surrounded by as a wee one). I took pictures and Snowcrash brought lightsticks, as you see below; the woman below was the one who said the line in the title above. When I finally called it a night, I took my sleeping bag to the spare bedroom office and got a dose of something I haven't encountered in a few years: Tater raves! their hardwood floor smelled like my wife's grandmother's kitchen (and I don't mean in the yummy food manner, I mean pet-smell-embedded-in-hardwood). Didn't really sleep and I blame the caffiene. Others may have been pleasantly faced by the Pabst Blue Ribbon but with the state of my gut I saw fit to avoid the demon brew. Around 9am everyone who was still present did the zombie-mosey and eventually we were all lucid enough to sit out on the back porch for another couple hours' worth of conversation and waffles, then come noon everyone cleared out. I visited nearly every rest stop on the trip north, not to use the john but to walk around hoping to stay conscious. (I wasn't drifting, I was avoiding getting to the drifting stage.) When I got home I did a couple things around the house, took a hot shower, sat down on the bed to get dressed and... zzzzzzzz. Rousted my bones after a couple hours to have dinner at Applebee's because I figured I needed the food (man does not live on two sodas and a waffle alone!), and after watching a home expo show on HGTV I hit the hay -- and stayed comatose until about 8am this morning. It's my lunch break as I write this, and since I didn't bring anything beside a cup of Tree Top applesauce I should wander to the store for something deeelicious and nuuutritious and good for me too. Cheers!

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