Category Archives: work

Here Comes Your 19th PC Breakdown…

<img src="broken computer photo: computer computeronfire.gif” alt=”” />

back when we were held hostage to comcast for our cable tv, the service when out pretty regularly and one of the explanations was that the outage was due to sun spots. no lie. sun spots. i have since read that sun spots actually can disrupt electrical fields and could pose a problem to our devices, which in no way absolves comcast and rather just proves that they will pluck any story out of the news to explain their shitty service. btw, we have long since moved to fios and our service almost never goes out and i’m pretty sure there are still sun spots.

i bring this us because i’m searching for an explanation as to why my laptop suddenly went berserk to the tune of a couple hundred bucks and about five other people had the same thing happen to them around the same time and finally because i walked into work on monday to find the blue screen of death on my work pc.

now nasa is saying that we’re actually in a period of time when there are fewer sunspots which would lead me to search for another explanation as to why it seems that many of the computers around me are suddenly attempting suicide, or in the case of my pc at work, actually succeeding at suicide.

i guess suicide is a dramatic term for my work pc since only the hard drive failed. given that i work for three independent businesses who are all in investment and insurance, and run the overall office for yet another insurance and investment business, having a dead computer means i can’t do a single thing. and other people cannot scan/email anything because my computer acted as the server.

it also means that i’m the tech department. i have a tech resource that i can call to do some things, but not purchase and install a new computer.

so off to microcenter to pick up a new computer. now, my tech friends are wondering why i don’t just pop in a new drive instead of buying a new computer and to them i say, “you could volunteer to come out an pop in a new drive for me” but i’m going to take advantage of the situation and buy myself a computer i really want to replace the five year old one i had.

i did not purchase the last computer and i would not have purchased it because it was not robust enough to be used in an office environment but the person who purchased it didn’t bother to ask me for my input. the person who bought my last computer is constantly crashing his by clicking on all kinds of links that install malware, etc. on his machine and also still doesn’t know how to attach a document to an email.
over the years i have purchased and installed a fair number of computers at various businesses, but these days the process involves nowhere near the kind of agony it used to. of course i say that because i use a cloud based backup service and enterprise software and connect to a server through microsoft exchange. the tricky part is networking to the shared copier/fax/scanner, which i didn’t even attempt and instead called the it dept. at the company from where we leased the machine. trust me, it’s a damn tricky process that involves an on-line interface for which i don’t even have a login.

i now believe in planned obsolescence of these devices. isn’t it interesting that just about the time that there’s a new operating system coming out you start to see all kinds of failures on machines? alright, so “about the time” is a relative term since we’re talking about windows 10 and no one knows when that’s really going to come out, but still. oh, and don’t send me any of your cult comments about the almighty apple because the fact is that those machines are waaaaay to expensive and don’t play nice with the software and enterprise systems necessary to conduct our business.

personally, it’s not too far-fetched to believe that a windows update did something to fry a bunch of machines and a welcome side effect of that was a spike in new purchases. so i got my new smokin’ fast computer at work and all updated software, which makes up for the small agony of installing a new machine.

now if i can just get through the next few months without the other three office computers failing. trust me, installing a new computer for the guys i work for – that is people who stand over your shoulder and second guess or try to control or change every step of the installation when they haven’t a clue as to how the damn thing works — is an agony not even comcast could match.

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Filed under Business, computers, work

What We Value

whew! i just survived one of the most over-hyped awards show seasons in history! you too? yep, i’m pretty sure that we were all subjected to the never ending cycle of self-aggrandizement, self-adoration and selfishness that attacks the nation during the winter months.

january begins with wall street bonus season. the bonuses are voted on by the board of directors for each firm based on nothing at all and meted out in an obscene fashion that rewards both “success” and failure. recently these bonuses were even paid out using taxpayer money. the fashion is not the best and the red carpet is the red line though the returns in your investments as these firms skim off their share of your investment earnings.

sometime later in january are the golden globes. these are awards voted on by the “hollywood foreign press”, basically a group of less than 100 journalists and photographers who cover entertainment. here’s the definition of the actual requirement: requirements for active membership include primary residence in southern california and a minimum of four published articles per year. in golden globe voting there is no rule or regulation about interested parties in the entertainment industry paying bribes to these voters. kind of like congress. actually, the best part of these awards is that someone like ricky gervais or tiny fey and amy poehler have been tapped to host and their humor is directly to the point about the self-aggrandizing nature of the entire affair.

in early february the grammys show up. although, there doesn’t seem to be any timeliness to the nominations for the grammys. often music that was released years ago is nominated alongside taylor swift music that was timed to be released and make piles of money just before voting begins. the performances during the show end up being more important than the show itself and once-in-awhile a performer actually sings live and drives home the point that only 99% of music is auto-tuned. this crowd doesn’t seem to take themselves as seriously as actors, or take the awards as seriously, except for kanye west who, as we all know, is the only voter whose opinion counts.

finally, there is the award show to beat all awards shows: the academy awards. this show is hyped for months beforehand but in the days before the show there are nightly specials highlighting everything about the actors and the show and fashion and the never ending list of satellite industries that leech off of the oscars. the odd thing is that the oscars were designed to get us out of the house and into the movie theatre but oddly, the nominated movies aren’t usually in the theatres around the time they are being hyped for the oscars. need any more evidence that the academy awards are about self-aggrandizement? here’s the best quote about the academy awards from troy cambell, a social scientist at duke university: “the event allows artistic elites to indirectly praise themselves by praising others and the magic of art.”
consider that three of the four best picture winners in the past four years were movies about movies or acting. he goes on to caution that there’s a lesson for all of us in that we tend to only offer praise to those who look, act and think like us.

well, what’s wrong with offering praise to those who are like us? shouldn’t we praise the teachers, police officers, fire fighters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors, friends, temporary workers, truck drivers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, office workers… you get my drift.

i want the real hero worship to be about everyday people who create, build, run, teach, inform and advance themselves, their families and us all by what they do every single day. we all don’t get awards, but we certainly all deserve them.

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Filed under Heroes, image, movies, music, success, work

Brain Work

i never used to worry about brain cells, but now it seems that if you’re not busy tapping away at puzzles on your phone or tablet you need to be worried about your brain function. like i don’t have enough to worry about already…

i’m not much for games, especially when i have to shell out money to play games and shell out a lot of money to play “brain games”. i tried some of those free on-line games but they just didn’t interest me enough to continue playing. to me, just figuring something out or learning something new is enough of a game. i guess i’m just one of those people who has to have a purpose for play.

as i read more about the concept of “use it or lose it” to improve brain function, i discovered that it wasn’t so much that it has to be math games or even games, it’s just that you have to use your brain to learn something you don’t already know. apparently you can even get benefit from just watching educational videos.

okay, so i could just watch educational videos, but i kind of do that anyway. i was searching for some other way to improve brain function and improve myself. one thing i did was buy spanish language cds to play in the car and attempt to learn spanish. it’s very difficult. funny things is that when i’m asked to respond in spanish, the first thing that comes to mind is german since i studied german for 6 years. but i’m going to keep on going because i figure if i can memorize all the words to some dumb pop song by repetition, i can probably pick up some spanish.

but, i found another activity that enhances my brain function and contributes something to the world and to future generations. it’s working on transcriptions of hard copy documents for the smithsonian institution.

the smithsonian is attempting to transcribe every hard copy document in their archives so that they can be electronically searchable. the word daunting doesn’t even begin to describe this task. so, the smithsonian is asking for volunteers to help with the process.

i hear you… you’re asking how typing can improve anything in your brain. first, take a look at the material listed as projects – it might seem as though you could mindlessly tap that out in a hour but look at the actual written pages and you’ll see how difficult these transcriptions can be. and how fascinating.

the first document i worked on was a field guide of a specific coastal area of maine. the detail that the naturalist included was both tedious and spectacular. consider that when this was written there was no such thing as photography so the naturalist had to account for every sight he saw: plants, water, rock formations, rock composition, etc. – all in painstaking detail.

the second document i worked on was the diary of the daughter from a farming family. i was interested at the word diary, but found that it was less of a personal diary as it was a detailed recording of each day’s activities along with the whereabouts of every individuals associated with the farm. unfortunately, it was less about the mechanics of the dairy farm, which was why i chose the project.

right now i’m working on the log book of negatives for all photos taken of every item or object in the smithsonian, which will likely take some time since there are over 3 million negatives.

here’s the thing about participating in this process: you can devote as little or as much time as you wish. figuring out someone’s handwriting is puzzle solving in and of itself. there are multiple people who participate on a project so you don’t have to complete it all yourself and the home page of the website lists your user id and recent contribution.

you can transcribe from the original written word or you can review and check for accuracy what someone else has transcribed. and, every week or so new projects are uploaded for participation. an exciting one that i missed was a series of letters between prominent contemporary artists, so i’m on the lookout for any more of those.

no matter what subject matter you’re inclined toward, there is probably a project for you. there are scientist’s journals to transcribe, accounting log books for the math hearted, entries in a burpee seed contest, there are projects about anthropology, entomology, botany, history and more. and if you don’t find something you’re interested in, check back in a few days and see what’s new.

who knows, the contribution you make today may serve as the basis for new research decades from now. you’re not just improving your brain, but some else’s too.

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Filed under addiction, age, science, technology, work

Never enough funny ladies

Anyone watch the Golden Globes? I admit I’ve never watched them before, but I did this year mainly because of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Individually they crack me up. Together they are just hilarious.

As far as I’m concerned, more and more women in comedy makes for funnier and funnier comedy, though that flies in the face of the long held belief that women aren’t funny.

Say, what?!

In 2008, Alessandra Stanley wrote a fantastic piece for Vanity Fair, titled “Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?” in which Fey has the final words on the false belief (mostly by male comics) that women aren’t funny.

“You still hear it,” says Fey. “It’s just a lot easier to ignore.”

While I’m working on readying my novel, Counterfeit Cure, for publishing I’ll be posting links to some of the best articles I’ve come across. Stay tuned for more on Counterfeit Cure.

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awful not good very bad bosses

bad bosses.  everybody’s had one, no one admits to being one.  i seem to always be hired by or promoted to work with the exact same kind of arrogant, narcissistic personality.  (hmmmmm)  some have been more colorful that others.  

one smoked a pipe. (a pipe for god sake.  he was only in his 30s and this was in the 1980s… should have seen the sign)  this guy would curse up a blue streak and kick his trashcan (often times filled with still smoldering ash) when he was frustrated.  he was often frustrated.  things got better when he dumped the woman he was seeing (who was cheating on her husband who beat her) and took up with another (very nice) woman from the it department (it was called mis back then).  the two started a business together and i actually ended up letting them pitch their services to me (after i became manager).  they pitched, i didn’t buy.  i just couldn’t forget all the curing and trash can kicking. 

one became manager because his father had worked at the company for 30 years.  people liked the father.  the son didn’t take after him.  this guy fancied loud sport jackets and always thought he was going to get rich at the craps table, which made things tough when we were at conventions in las vegas and supposed to be schmoozing advertisers.  we spend many a dinner in strained conversation with clients waiting for this guy to show up.  ugh. 

the next guy started out okay, but as time went on (and as his company grew exponentially) he became convinced that everyone was taking advantage of him.  he like all the new business (and the money) but resented paying salaries to the people who were bringing in the new business.  he liked to trust the wrong people. he liked to fire people.  he trusted his partner.  he fired me.  then his partner stole the business out from under him.   so much for instincts. 

then came the best (worst) one of all.  this guy was a narcissistic bully.  like the last guy, he always thought of himself as the victim (especially when he was screaming insults and slamming papers around)  he had converted an old twin house into (kind of) office space, but left the upstairs as an apartment so the rent would cover the mortgage.  that meant his office was in what would have been the dining room of the house, the living room part was a (always empty) conference room and porch was where everyone else worked.  here’s the best part: we had to walk through his office to get to the bathroom, which was in the basement.  he hated it when people walked through his office.  he commented every single time you went to use the bathroom.  the comments were not nice.  sometimes i just waited and drove home at lunch to use the bathroom.  

this guy was also prone to rages and once enraged, he would carry on his verbal assaults for about an hour.  those were called “staff meetings”.  another employee and i took to writing “f**k you” as part of the notes we took during the “meetings” then would read them afterward.  we were really, really good at integrating those two words the notes he demanded we take at meetings: 

“…when i call into this f**k you office you need to answer the phone f**k you and don’t use the bathroom as an excuse f**k you because i spent good money on a cordless phone f**k you that you could take with you when you’re in there f**k you so i don’t have to be inconvenienced f**k you by your lack of professionalism at not answering my f**k you call! 

this guy hired and fired people constantly.  and they were glad to leave.  i once had to find a lawn service for the property and ended up calling about two dozen services and every single one either hung up when i told them who the customer was, or gave me chapter and verse on why they would want to run this guy over with their equipment if they came to the property.  i was hoping to see that.  

i’m sure i’m not different that everyone out there who’s ever worked for a jerk. (please, share away) sooner or later they always seem to implode, or at least that’s the hope.  though i kind of like the solution in the movie “bad bosses” where three guys try to hire a hit man to kill their bosses.  if only.


Filed under Uncategorized, work

Déjà vu all over again

The Dow took a nosedive yesterday that felt a whole lot like the last time the Dow took a dive.  Which was a lot like the time before when the Dow took a dive.  And the time before that.  And the time before that, and…  there’s been a bit of volatility in the market over the years.

I was unemployed in 2008, watching the economy melt down.  We were sitting on a shared rental property in California that was losing value each day and that wasn’t earning any rent.  Weird crap was going down at C’s company.  We had one child in college and another one headed to college.  Our oldest had just graduated from college and was planning her wedding.  Then she was diagnosed with leukemia.

What was that about the economy again?

In the middle of all that, I figured I’d better get a full-time job before layoffs got worse.  Hey, I hear you laughing. Want to laugh harder?  I was trying to get a job in the financial sector.  (I figured I’d end up at Starbucks or Macy’s or housecleaning or some such) 

I answered a tiny ad in the local paper and got a call within minutes.  They wanted me for an interview the next day.  I remember thinking there must be something lousy about this job if they’re that desperate.  In the midst of the economic meltdown of the Fall of ’08, the office manager for these three financial guys suddenly dropped dead.  

I started working there three days after the interview. 

So while there seems to be another economic meltdown in progress, our circumstances are different (I have a job, C’s company is going gangbusters, we only have one in college, the CA house was sold) but most importantly, our oldest is coming up on the first anniversary of her life saving bone marrow transplant and doing very, very well in her recovery.  No cancer cells in sight. 

Looks like the country (if not the world economy) is headed toward another recession.  The money guys I work for are visibly shaken. 

C and I have a different perspective. 

I hope you do too.

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Filed under economy, united states, work

the week of things not working and people not working things properly

we’ve all had the kind of week where all things mechanical are angry, possessed, uncooperative and downright surly.  of course, it would (in some cases) be the fault of the mechanical object and in some the human operator.  and in some the fault of the stars of

 so the copy machine at work decides to jam, then expel a piece along with the jammed papers, which in turn fractures another piece (plastic of course) which hides in another area that stops the copier from working entirely.  bottom line: copy machine does nothing but scream (yep, literally a loud scream) when asked to make copies.  even when it’s politely asked.  even when it’s kicked (which, btw is what the technician did when he showed up to fix it.)  (it still didn’t work)

technician finds the shards of broken plastic, puts the machine back together (and presumably apologizes for kicking the poor thing) and gets it working again.  

however, the air conditioner (which hasn’t worked properly since they came and did maintenance on it in february…hmmm, think that might have been the issue?) labors to keep the office at a sweltering 80 degrees.  yet, the repairmen continue to diagnose the problem as human error.  as in humans in the office have too many lights on, have a vent closed in a hardly used room that’s freezing all of the time, have thermostat wars, etc. etc. any number of issues that do not address the fact that an air conditioned is supposed to condition the damn air.   their attitude was that pretty much nothing was wrong with the system (which was working fine before they replaced whatever was necessary to replace in the dead of winter) that educating dumb humans couldn’t fix.  

which bring me to the stupid human trick of the week.  notice the picture illustrating one company’s version of properly installed plumbing. 

three years ago we had new solid surface countertops and sink installed.  the sink began to commit a slow suicide by cracking and looked terrible.  no problem, said the company, you have a 14 year guaranteed.  they come to replace the sink.  somehow they didn’t consider that replacing a sink would involve plumbing. 

okay, so i’m just a dope when it comes to some things, but even i know that if the line says “cold”, you have to hook it up to the cold pipe, thus forcing you to hook the hot pipe to the hot.  ummmmm, not so fast.  apparently, since the word was cold instead of ‘frio’ (which i googled found out is the spanish word for cold) the guy was clueless.  then i watched him take the pipe outside and cut off a 2 ½ inch piece and toss it on the driveway then proceed to stick a piece of rubber to connect the two pipes and use hose clamps to hook the whole thing together.  even i knew that couldn’t be right.  

i spoke to the installer’s supervisor who said to me when i questioned the patchwork hookup,  “they sell parts to do that, don’t they? so, it must be okay.”  well, there you go. 

so the next time something breaks, fix it with whatever you feel like and expect it to work. 

btw, we hired a real plumber to fix everything properly.  and the air conditioning company stopped back and work and installed a new valve on the air conditioner that was working just fine (except for human error). so now it works.


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Filed under house, repairs, work