Miz Shoes

I, Running Dog

The worst epithet that could be hurled back in the day was that someone was a "Running Dog Capitalist" or the "Running Dog" of capitalism. It meant that you were capable of anything, as long as it proffited you, personally. It was similar, but not exactly the same as being called someone's lap dog.
Which brings up Alexander Pope's famous doggerel on a dog collar:

"I am my Highness' dog at Kew,
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?"

As of yesterday, I became the running dog of the division's Vice President. Yesterday, I was ordered to send out a department-wide call for volunteers to do a day of hard labor out in the fields (literally) for Hands on Miami Day.

Last year, I was happy to coordinate the effort, and put my all into it, and got about a 30% participation, not bad for a corporate culture of non-volunteerism.

This year, I stormed into the PHB's office and told him that after the shit that has been heaped on us over the past few months, the contemptible way we have been treated, and the way we are all in God's Waiting Room (job-wise) that this had to be the most morally reprehensible act I'd ever been asked to commit in the line of professional duty. He got all snotty back at me and said he'd send out the call. And I should tell him how to find the information about Hands on Miami.

To which I replied, "Fine. Just. Fucking. Fine. I'll do it, but, I. AM. NOT. PLEASED." All the while thinking, how do you find information on the web? You? The fucking manager of web services, the lord and master of all things web in this hospital? You? Well, I wouldn't think of opening Google and typing "Hands On Miami" into the search box, or anything. No. YOU will find information by ordering me to look for it and write you a report in single syllable words, and then read it to you, out loud, explaining what I mean every step of the fucking way. You moron.

And by the way, as of Monday? There will be no layoffs in this department, after all. Some small, very small, number of reassignments. But why lay some people off when you can outsource an entire department in one fell swoop?

And on another topic altogether, if you've read this far:

What the fuck is up with the Boston Red Sox? Don't they know there's a fucking curse on all their houses? Don't they know that the world will end if they win the World Series?

Dogs and cats together.

Bite me.
Miz Shoes

Bitch, Moan, Complain and Whine

I had to pick up my college transcripts the other day, and in reviewing them, I discovered something I'd long forgotten: in my first semester, when I was living la vida loca and dropping classes and skipping classes and generally flunking out, I still managed to pull an A in deductive logic.

This despite the fact that I wasn't straight or sober for much of that first semester. University of Miami, 1972. Yeah, right. Like anyone there at that time was. But I digress.
I bring this up because all these years later, faulty logic still rings like a gong in my head whenever I hear it. Here's a sample:

A. The PR department says that our historic patient base doesn't use computers.

B. The PR department says that we shouldn't advertise our private doctors' office on the web because if they saw it, our historic (charity, non-paying) patient base would try to access care there.

If our "typical" patients don't have or use computers, then what difference does it make if we advertise a private patient office on the web? If we are attempting to attract more private pay patients to our health system (and in theory, these people do use/own computers) then why wouldn't we advertise our specialty office on the web?

See? Faulty logic. It just drives me crazy. And at this point, it isn't so much of a drive as a short putt.
Miz Shoes

Remember the Cat?

Remember this entry? From back in June, when I told you the story about my Senior VP telling us that the hospital was losing a trillion dollars a day, but that there weren't going to be lay offs?

And I said it was like the old joke about the cat on the roof? And our jobs were on the roof?
Yeah. And then there was three months ago, when they said there would be layoffs, but not in our department. Then last month, there was the announcement that there would be layoffs in our department, but only managers.

Today, the Veep announced that we were beginning to research outsourcing the entire department in an effort to save all our jobs.

Yes, you read that right. They'll outsource the entire department to some firm that will then hire us to do our jobs, so we won't lose them at all!

Repeat after me: These are not the droids you seek.

Or, if you prefer that I keep the same metaphor I started with (and you know how much I love consistency) The cat has now fallen off the roof, and broken many bones. The cat has gone to the vet. The vet has done everything it her power to fix the cat, but...
Miz Shoes

Countdown to Delivery

This is the week that a good deal of my stress ends: the project from hell is due to go live on Friday.

A little recap: sometime in the middle of last year, the hospital got a new web management tool. My father died the first week of May. While I was sitting at his bedside, web tool was installed and configured. It had taken almost 9 months to get the tool installed. The day I returned to work, I started on the site conversion. My PHB asked me how long it would take, and I told him six to nine months to complete the work, if the PR department cooperated with content, and assuming I'd be working on this pretty much alone. He said that he'd help (yeah, right) and that I had three months.
So I have been working como un perro ever since. The PHB "helped" for a month or two by adding and deleting links and going to California for classes and then by leaving me alone to do my work. The PR department "helped" by telling me how to structure the site, demanding pages be added, then not giving me content, and lastly demanding that those empty pages be deleted.

Thursday we have a demo and are supposed to go live on Friday. That's two months longer than my boss gave me, and one month less than my shortest estimate.

I've also been maintaining the existing live site, keeping it updated and adding pages. I've also been going to meetings and doing all the other day to day business I'm expected to manage.

And then there's my personal life: executing my father's estate, trying to keep an eye on my mother's care (she has advanced Alzheimer's) and worrying about the various extended family that lives up and down the Treasure Coast. The names of the cities that they live in would have been unfamiliar to 90% of America until this month, when they were in the path of two monster hurricanes.

Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Hutchinson Island, Snug Harbor, West Palm Beach.

I have no idea today if my cousin's house in Vero is standing, or my auntie's condo on Hutchinson Island exists. I haven't spoken to my brother in Port St. Lucie (his mother-in-law died in the last storm and I have little hope that his father-in-law will do any better in this one). I spoke to Mummy's nurse yesterday morning, but haven't heard since.

Yesterday, I had a full-fledged anxiety attack in the middle of the afternoon.

Today, I am back at my desk, pounding out another 20 pages or so in anticipation of Thursday's presentation. My flu is in remission. My boss is over at his west coast house, stuck in the Tampa airport.

My horoscope keeps promising me good fortune in business. I have two resumes out, and am waiting to hear from other opportunity. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Miz Shoes

Mind Your Manners

I came in this morning, and my boss walked into my office and closed the door. Never a good sign. Especially bad sign when the Herald ran a front page story yesterday about the layoffs.

Our VP saw "the list" and was "very surprised" by the names on it. Remember this is the VP who swore on his mother's honor that not one person would be cut from our department. The names themselves have not been revealed, merely that they were a surprise.

My boss then extended this advice, which came from the upper middle manager above him, but below the VP.

"We in this group should mind our Ps and Qs and do whatever we are asked by whomever asks. This is not the time to make waves, or enemies. The PR department is in full charge of the web. Do what they say and no back talk. Of course, this means that you can still point out to them mistakes in spelling or whatever. But..."

I've been watching Shogun for the past few nights. And all I can think of is the various daimyos telling Blackthorne that he'd better behave or else ... "Do you understand?"

Hai. I understand. I'm fucked in the ear with no oil. Or as the PR department is so fond of saying "It doesn't have to be done right, it only has to be done."
Miz Shoes

Thoughts on the Work Place

Lord knows I disparage my work place and co-workers with some frequency (and some cause) and even turn a blind eye when others do the same. But. There's something about seeing the CEO of the organization doing the same thing, in the press, and singling out your own department for particular scorn, that makes one uneasy.
What he said was that my department was "Mayberry, USA". I agree, but have to wonder which of the geniuses up the food chain from me is Barney Fife. Of course I’m prejudiced here, but my own PHB is number one with a bullet, I think. His boss is sort of Middle-Aged, Balding Ken Doll. I'd like to think of myself as Opie, albeit with blonde hair and a different gender. But Opie all the same: ingenuous, happy-go-lucky and believing in the inherent good in all people.

OK, so maybe not Opie. But certainly not Barney, and not Aunt Bea. Hmm. The more I ponder this, the less I want to be any of those characters. The one character I can relate to from that television era is more like Miss Whatshername, the tight ass who wasn’t really a tight ass on The Beverly Hillbillies. She was the voice of tolerance and reason there, wasn’t she?

I always wanted to be Jeannie. Maybe not BE Jeannie, per se, but certainly live in her bottle. And I wanted to wear the cool clothes she wore when she was being a genie, and not the faux-mod get-ups they put her in when she was out of her bottle.

I digress.

The baby quilt sold to a lovely fellow traveler from Atlanta. Thanks so much for making it happen.
Miz Shoes

A Single Standard

Many years ago, part of my workplace's corporate mantra was something about a single standard of care, regardless of one's ability to pay. It was a shining example of truth in advertising, because we did have a single standard: we treated everyone like shit.

We still do, but now we have taken it to higher (or lower, I'm not sure how that works) standards. We treat each other even worse.

Today I received a request for assistance from some poor schmuck in a fly-over state, who was looking for a medical expert to back up a cock-a-mamie theory of his in a (probably) frivolous lawsuit.

I sent the request over to our official designated responder to all web-delivered questions.

After a few hours, I got a response from her. In its entirety, the response said "I'm not going to answer this jerk." (Yes, boys and girls, the official designated responder is none other than our own dear Loogie, of the PR office.)

I sent her another e-mail, and asked, "Not even to offer the courteous reply of Sorry, but we cannot help you.?" It shamed her into doing just that, only without the word "sorry" and with a touch of condemnation in her tone, as she stated that we could not help him with his lawsuit.

I'm thinking of designing t-shirts that say "Demand Civility." What do you think? Would they sell?
Miz Shoes

The Most Misunderstood Word in English

Has got to be "no". Because nobody around my office ever seems to be able to figure out what it means.

Him: Do you have stock photography?

Me: Some. Seven disks of medical stuff.

Him: Anything else?

Me: No.

Him: What about other stuff? Other than medical?

Me: Uh, still no.

Him: Why not?

Me: Other than this is a hospital and all I do is the hospital web site, and have no use for other stuff? Or other than nobody buys me stock art?

Him: Well, I want to add graphics to the web pages I'm designing so that I can give them to you to design.

Me: Please don't.

(Me, thinks: thank god it's my night to work out with Nic Cage. And then go home and drink.)
Miz Shoes

I Got The Moxie

I do, although it doesn't seem to be propagating yet. The lovely Kathy over at BlogMoxie has skinned me. (Yes, those are a pair of my own shoes.) And I've never looked better. Now I have to put the rest of GirlyShoes in order.

On the work front, things suck, and then they suck more. Where do I begin? How do they suck? Let me count the ways. They suck to the depth and breadth my soul can reach.

I have had to suffer through two meetings with the PHB and Loogie (from PR). On Friday, and again today. The conversations ran along these lines:
Loogie: This is wrong. Those aren't the medical specialties that we want to highlight.

Me: Those are the ones you gave me when you gave me the architecture I was supposed to follow.

Loogie: They've changed.

Me: Do I know that?

Loogie: You do now.

Loogie: We don't want to use that photo. Change it.

Me: Anything in particular?

Loogie: Anything that represents a money-making specialty.

Me: And that would be?

Loogie: Just pick something.

PHB: Is it hard to change a single image in a Flash animation?

Me: I need a drink

Finally, I'd like to say that, although the milk of human kindness runs in my veins, I have no sympathy for the folks on the west coast of the state who are carrying on like a hurricane never hit there before. My God, people, the entire state is a hurricane magnet, it's not like you live in Iowa, y'know?

Buy fucking shutters. Put them up. Don't build multi-million dollar homes on barrier islands*. Watch the Weather Channel. Evacuate when told.

*Barrier Island. If that name isn't a clue, then what is? Island Whose Only Reason To Exist Is To Be a Buffer For the Mainland When Really Ban Storms Hit?

And that thing that shocked the world? That a barrier island could become two barrier islands with a new channel? Take a look over on the east coast at Hutchinson Island. Happened in the last century. Big storm. Big storm surge. New inlet. End of story.

It's just like the folks living on the banks of the Mississippi. If something is named the 100 Year Flood, isn't that sort of a clue that this shit goes on with some regularity? Don't build on the flood plain. It's just that simple.
Miz Shoes

Another Dumb Ass Work Story

This week, I took a meeting with someone from HR, or, as they now are called, Human Resources Capital Management. Am I a capital asset? I suppose that's a step up from being what ever the hell I was classified before.
It started, like so much else, with a memo. The e-mail arrived, over the signature of the Director, who invoked the name of the Senior Vice President, and told me that, per said SVP's request, the attached newsletter should be placed on the web. It was requested that this internally-directed piece be linked off the home page.

I replied, politely, that it should, in my opinion, be placed on the Employee's home page. I cc'd all and waited. The response came back, via telephone, from a random middle manager, who admitted that this was his project, and he had sent the original e-mail out over his boss's siggie. Then he requested a meeting with me and my boss, in my office, so he could "see" where I wanted to put his link, because "I'm a visual person."

Fine. I'll show him a page on the site, that he either doesn't know how to get to, or is too lazy to click on, or what ever excuse there is for him not to be able to find it on his own.

He comes into my office, and my PHB is hanging in the doorway. Not completely out of the meeting, but certainly not a total participant, either.

I show the manager where his link will go. He shows me the newsletter he's created (all by himself) in Word. And then we all fall down the rabbit hole together, when he says:

"A lot of my employees are computer phobic. They are afraid of computers. What can we do?"

I tell him. "Hey. It's the twenty-first century already. Tell them to get over it, and learn how to use the tools."

"Well," he replies, "I need for them to read this, but we want to get away from paper, and they are computer phobic. How do you suggest we reach them?"

"Hmmm. Well, you know, wanting to get away from paper and not wanting to use computers are sort of mutually exclusive. I don't know what other options you have, unless you buy a radio station."

And that, my friends, is why they keep me in a room by myself, and try not to let me interact with the clients.

I also had a drop in from my own Senior Vice President, who wanted to know what kind of response I was getting from the department regarding our most recent call to volunteer out in the community. I told him that out of the hundred or so employees in our group, I had received exactly one response. It said that the sender could not participate, due to allergies.

Well. What is wrong with people, he asked me. Why won't they volunteer? Uh, is that a rhetorical question, sir, or do you really want to know the answer? He said he really wanted to know. So I, the Oracle; the Voice of Ugly Truth, told him.

"This is a county hospital. Everyone here feels like coming to work is a volunteer activity. And today, with lay-offs hanging over our heads, and the communication about it so mismanaged, and disfunctional, the attitude of your employees is like: "You want me to go volunteer to do manual labor in the community and I could come back and not even have a job? Bite me."

He was stunned. Really? That's the way people feel? (Uh, duh. Yeah.) The best way to get over feeling sorry for yourself, he said, was to do service for others. (I guess that explains the comment he made to me about my father's death: "Good luck with that grief thing.")

We ended on a positive note, though. I had a sudden brain storm and suggested that maybe, just maybe, the best volunteer opportunity yet lay ahead:

Why don't we make our department service project a "Get out the vote" effort, and sign up new voters, work the polls in November and drive voters to the polls?

He loved it. I did too, because when they start announcing those layoffs, and the crisis in public funding for public health, those pissed-off, soon to be unemployed union members are going to vote for the Democrats.
I've had an earworm all week: Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero". I've even listened to it, since that will usually run one off. It didn't. I'm still walking around spontaneously combusting into "Hey!, Whey-Hey!".
For the past two days, people have chosen to sit next to me on uncrowded trains, despite the fact that my big tote bag was already occupying that seat. This morning it was a man of great heft who opted to drop his fat ass on my Vera Bradley. Unfortunately for all of us, I'd already removed the knitting needles. Thankfully, however, he missed the i-pod, or the security guard would have had to keep me from plunging said bamboo needles into the fat bastard's heart.

Just in case you thought that the absurdity of my work life had diminished, it hasn't.

I took a photo of my PHB, sleeping at his desk, and had it posted for the past two days, but discretion being the better part of Valerie, or, because I listened to common sense advice from others, it has been removed. Rats.

Yesterday was a hukilau, with the PR department sending me information to post ASAP (since it ties to an ad that's running this weekend, someplace). Yes, of course it was a PDF, and they wanted text to accompany it. So for the zilliontyseventh time we did the PDF lecture. This resulted in the text coming over as a Word file, which I should use to create an HTML page and then link to a PDF (which I could just make myself from the Word file). So I did. And then, as I read the file, I realized that there were typos and missing information.

I sent a note to the PR person, pointing out that children do not usually have an age of ??, but actual numbers. People do not get TD booster shots, at least to my knowledge, but I am familiar with TB.... like that.

Oh, they were so happy that I have such a good copyproofing eye. And then they said, oh, don't work on this until it comes back from the ad agency, because you shouldn't waste your time.

Too late for that, ace. I've just blown an hour dicking around with your crap to this point. And if it isn't ready, why send it to me? Really, I think that the last 12 years would qualify as a waste of time.

But, it's Friday, and we all know what that means: ALCOHOL!!!!
Miz Shoes

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The PHB is back from his week of training.

He's in his office, even as I type, "customizing" the Cold Fusion templates that manage the look and feel of the new, improved site. The one I've been busting my ass over for two and a half months.

Can you say: Recipe for Disaster? Can you say: All my work, down the toilet, until it hits a clog in the U-bend?

Can you repeat my mantra? Not enough alcohol in the world.

Sigh. Back to banging my head on a wall, uselessly.
Miz Shoes

While I Was Gone

It appears that last month, while I was on vacation, the PHB changed something in the new site architecture, and forgot to mention it to me.

It appears that the graphic calendar is now a graphic event manager. Not just a matter of semantics, it is a different management module. It has different fields and different properties. Most importantly, it is a different link to a different page.

I discovered the change just now, after entering about 30 events in the calendar, only to have them show up, well, no-fucking-where on the new site.

Just a half a day's work, down the crapper, because the moron I work for changed a big old part of the new site architecture and forgot to tell me, his little worker bee, about it.

And do you know what he'll say when I mention it to him? He'll say "My bad." This from the mouth of a sixtyish white guy who has taken to dying his (remaining) hair.

Can I shoot him, or would that be my bad.

Time for me to start entering all that fucking data, all over again.

It's Friday, and there is alcohol on the horizon. Tomorrow, I'm going on a road trip with a girlfriend. The Quilter's Shop Hop.

Have I mentioned lately that I work for an idiot?
Miz Shoes

Why Do They Do This?

I just got a call from the department secretary to rag on me about how the page containing the cafeteria menu isn't updated. Or, at least, it wasn't when she checked it yesterday.

I asked if she'd checked it today before she called me. No, she hadn't. Of course she hadn't, because if she had, she would have seen an updated menu. Which I posted yesterday, but after the only time she looked, apparently.

She also wanted to let me know that some volunteer had looked at the page and it wasn't right. Fine. So you both looked at it yesterday morning, and waited until lunch time today to bitch at me.

The PR department (of course) does this all the time. They call and ask me if I've posted crap, rather than looking at the web site.

Why? Why is it easier to call me than to click once? Do they love to hear the tone in my voice implying that they don't have sufficient brain cells to rub together? Are they laying odds that I'll crack and actually call them an idiot to their face? Or ear, as the case may be.

Or is it that they are just truly and monumentally stupid?
Miz Shoes

Today’s Conversation With the PHB

PHB: "We have all these pages and they don't have anything on them."

Me: "Uh-huh, and?"

PHB: "Well, Loogie (not her real name) in PR wanted to know what those pages were and I didn't know."

Me: "Those are blank pages. Those are the pages that need content. Those are the pages that Loogie has to write content for."
PHB: "They aren't blank on the existing site."

Me: "No, they aren't. They have a photo and a block of graphic links. But the new system creates dynamic links in the sidebar, so we need a paragraph to explain what each section contains. Otherwise, we have a blank page."

Really. A page with nothing on it is: Anyone? Anyone? A blank page, you fucking moron.

So, for the last three months? when I've been flapping my pie hole at you? telling you that there's all these blank pages with no fucking content? Yeah. That's what I've been talking about.

That. A page with nothing on it. That would be the definition of a blank page, a page with no content.

Repeat after me: There is just not enough alcohol in the world.

P.S. Just in case you guessed, yes, Loogie is the person who keeps sending me PDFs, even after I have explained, requested, begged, pleaded and stamped my little foot and pouted that I cannot use them on my site. I cannot use a PDF. I cannot use them here or there. I cannot use them anywhere. I do not like them in a file, I do not like them in a pile. I do not like them on a floppy, I do not like them as a copy.

Sorry. Got a little carried away.

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