Miz Shoes

At Least I Have a Door

The office I'm in has four walls and a door. These are real walls, not wall-ettes: they go all the way to the ceiling, not nose level. There isn't a window, but hell, I have the real walls and the door.

Today, and for the last month or so, I've been particularly thankful for the door. I've mentioned before that my team shares office space with another team. Their work habits require me to use my door as a sound baffle.

The woman across the hall leaves her door open, and only uses speaker phone. All day. She also listens to particularly bad radio and sings, but that's a walk in the park compared to her speaker phone abuse.

The Toxic Manager manages by standing over his employees, way too close, and watching them work. And sits behind them and tells them what to click on with their mouses. And just hangs around pontificating in an unidentifiable accent that makes everything he says sound like Laurence of Arabia talking to his camel "hut hut hut".
Miz Shoes

Emergency, Emergency

I'll see your emergency project and raise you a crisis.

Please drop the extremely urgent project you are working like a dog on, to do a quick graphic link for another urgent project that someone else has been assigned to complete, at the expense of their previously most urgent and emergent crisis project.
Because I'm the boss, and I committed all of you to do it, that's why.

We are all rats on a sinking ship, and my boss's new management mantra is the same as my old boss's:

It doesn't have to be done right, it only has to be done.

My mantra is: This isn't my ship. I don't care if it hits the reef, as long as I survive the shipwreck.
Miz Shoes

Work Still Sucks

That pretty much sums it all up. I'm back, and my PHB did, in fact, manage to screw things up during my absence. Shocking. Just shocking.
The hospital continued to lose money. The Herald continued to report it. The PR department continued to not communicate about change to the employees. The hospital's president sent out a memo to upper management complaining about the Herald's reporting of our dirty laundry.

Yep. It's a bitch being a government entity having to do your business in the sunshine. It justs sucks, don't it?

The only thing that amazes me about all of this is that no disgruntled employees have forwarded that memo to the Herald. Or maybe they did, and the Herald chose not to run it. But that is so far removed from the realm of possibility that I must discount the premise.

Ah, well, it's been fun, but I must go off and update the most important page on the entire hospital site: our cafeteria menus.

Sad, isn't it? My life: creating electronic ephemera.
Miz Shoes

Your Jobs Are On the Roof

Remember the old joke about the person who goes on vacation, and their friend calls and says the cat is dead. Person says, you don't tell someone something like that with no preamble. First you say the cat got on the roof, then it fell and was taken to the vet, and everything was done, but... Friend says, OK. Calls the vacationer the next day and says, uh, your grandmother got on the roof...
Well, our Senior VP had a meeting today where he told us our jobs are on the roof. Hospital is running about a zilliontytrillion dollars in the red and we aren't even through the fiscal year. Sacrifices will have to be made. Yadda yadda yadda. No overtime. (Not that anyone I know actually is hourly.) Cuts are coming. Yadda yadda. Go see the dog and pony show that the CEO will be giving on Monday. Everything will be explained.

Maybe it was all those years of working in a darkroom, but I can see the writing on the very murky wall ahead.

On a related note, one of our managers managed to say "OK" 28 times in his five minute presentation. The next most annoying verbal tic was the manager who said "Basically" 13 times in about as many minutes.

Yes. I was keeping score. Making little tic marks on my legal pad.

What, you think this shit only goes on in Dilbert?
Miz Shoes

This, on the Other Hand, I DO Love

Today has been a great work day. Huh. Imagine. But it is. Despite the fact that I can't update the site, despite the fact that I have a date with the PHB to "teach" him how to cut and paste, this is a great day.
Why? Because I just ordered a pair of tickets to see the Tampa Bay Devil Rays play the Florida Marlins at Tropicana Field. That's one more to check off my list of major league ballparks. (See the 100 things list) And Tampa Bay is playing the Marlins! So I get to see a team I actually care about, on top of getting to be in a new field. And the seats are behind home plate, still on field level.

And also because I have my headphones on today and I'm listening to Bruce. I can never be miserable when I'm listening to The Boss.

Furthermore, and on a related note, Little Steven's Battle of the Garage Bands is coming to Miami on Friday night, and I have every intention of being there. PHHHHHHHHHHHTT.
Miz Shoes

I’m NOT Lovin’ It

I haven't been able to FTP to the hospital's site since the middle of last week. That means changes have been piling up. I have told the server guys at least 5 times that my access is dead, but they have more urgent things to attend to. Like the zilliontythree viruses that seem to be living in our servers. Despite the firewalls.
This morning I deleted 230 messages that were merely the husks of deleted virus hosts. For some reason this makes me think of the Roach Motel slogan:

Bugs get in, but they can't get out. Like viruses on our servers, huh?

At home, I spent the whole weekend dodging phone calls and laying around in my bathrobe. But it was a good thing, and not the messy depression it sounds like. I also put away a month's worth of laundry, cleared out my closet of all the dark, shapeless schmatas I've gotten too small to wear, and cleared out my studio so that I can start working in it again.

And I finished the bottle of Crown Royal that I'd bought to make Washington Red Apples. That was scary fast work. Maybe I shared a lot, huh?

Well, despite the fact that I can't upload the changes, I still have a lot of them to make. So off to work. Hi-ho, and like that.
Miz Shoes

Just When You Think It’s Safe

My cell phone rang. It was the RLA. He was sitting in the vet's office with the great and noble dog Nails. It seems that Nails had nailed a bufo toad, or some other poisonous fauna in our back yard and was having doggy hallucinations and some serious mouth-foaming. The RLA was waiting for the vet to come out of surgery and give an opinion. He'd triaged Nails at home (second round of Bufo Toad Wrestling) and the sturdy little Jack Russell Terrierist seemed to be holding his own, all things considered.

But jeez, could I get a break here?
The PHB is in full press "I can't wait to get started fucking up the web for you" mode, and thankfully has gone to a seminar (or so he says) and can't annoy me until Monday.

It is now Friday afternoon, and I've submitted my weekly report. In less than an hour I can start drinking, and since there's nothing pressing on the calendar for this weekend, I don't have to stop drinking until after Deadwood Sunday night.

Here's my newest favorite drinkie. Think of it as a Cosmo with cojones.

The Washington Red Apple

1 1/2 shots of Crown Royal
3/4 shot of Sour Apple Schnapps
Splash of cranberry juice

serve in a martini glass and if you really want to impress your friends, garnish with a spiral slice of apple
Miz Shoes

Pick One

So which part of my life is now the worst? Is it A) Work, B) Thinking about my dead father or C) Trying to juggle the demands of an estate, an Alzheimer-riddled mother and her tyrannical nurse, my newly-needy brother and extended family members, several commissions, a start-up quilting partnership and a household?
Right. There is no answer, because they all suck crusty moose dick and my mind is skittering around over each of them like a drop of water in a really hot pan.

There is not enough alcohol, Sherman Fantasias and Prozac in the world right now for me.

Excuse me a second, I have to renegotiate a contract that the PHB fucked up, answer a call from my brother, and reformat 25 pages of content, and arrange to take a head shot of the employee of the month. Right. And then, in fifteen minutes, there will be another crisis or something else that I have to jump on and do right this fucking second .

You just know that things are not flowing smoothly when the first response you have to a ringing telephone is to shout "Leave me the fuck alone" at it before you pick it up and recite the party line about "How may I help you".

Gotta run, sweetiedarlings, I smell smoke coming from a fire that needs putting out.
Miz Shoes

Back on the Chain Gang

I said I'd be back, and here I am. First thing to do is to undo everything the boss did while I was gone. Second thing is to let my co-workers know that my father died, because the PHB* only told them he was in hospice. He knew about Daddy's death, because I called him immediately to let him know I'd be out for another week. He responded by having me walk him through how to add a row to a table in HTML.

There are just no words.
But then, the most amazing thing happened as a result of running my father's obituary in the Herald. When I was five and six, the family next door had a girl my age. Her name was Linda and we were inseparable. We rode our stick horses through the neighborhood, visiting. We climbed the rose apple tree. We were each others first, best friends. Then her family moved and we never saw each other again. Until yesterday. She lives here in Miami and saw the obituary, and saw that I lived here, and called me. She left a message, explaining who she was. As if she needed to say anything other than her name.

After 45 years, our conversation picked up exactly where it left off, albeit with better vocabulary and a somewhat broader life experience.

It turns out we have lived parallel lives, living in the same cities, only a year or two apart, the same neighborhoods, chosen the same careers.

My father is already putting things in order, it would seem.

* Pointy-haired-boss
Miz Shoes

All Ya Can Do Is Do What Ya Must

The Bob said it best in "Buckets of Rain"

"Life is sad, life is a bust
all you can do, is do what you must
You do what you must do
and you do it well."

But then, when doesn't, or didn't, the Bob say it best?
Today is crazy, hectic, madhouse, insane, busy. Tomorrow, I go back on the road north. With a box full of Dylan and Bruce to keep me company in the car.

I have a commission to finish, and I can't because I'm never home long enough to sew a seam. I have a tree full of mulberries, or it was before the rains came, and I can't pick them to make a pie. Assuming I'd have the time to bake one.

My office is in full-tilt boogie mode, meaning that my boss has left, but not before giving me a stack of work to do. Actually, he's been handing me stuff a page at a time all day, and asking where I am on the stuff he gave me before each time he hands me something new.

Not where I would be if you weren't handing me new crap and asking me how it's going... How's that for an answer?

Unacceptable, most likely. I must run, sweeties, there was someplace on the other side of campus I was supposed to be 15 minutes ago.
Miz Shoes

Anyone? Anyone?

Yeah. I got a question for ya. I got it right here.

If the filter on our server can detect and delete viruses, then why the fuck can't it just delete the whole damn thing? Why the fuck do I have to spend my day deleting 200 freaking messages with the subject line of "Important" "Re: Your document" "Hello" "Pictures of You?"
Hello. It was a virus. I don't need to see the spam bot that sent it. And our own fucking servers are infected, or being highjacked, because the new spam is a photo of "lonely girl" who wants to be my friend. And no matter who she is, no matter what first name is used, the mailing address is a hospital server.

Proof Reading: something to be done before a document is approved. Is that so hard? Could that little rule of thumb be taught to the freaking head secretaries at this institution? Huh? Could it? Ya think? Because I have to say that I am really fucking over the whole, "Put this document on line as a PDF (which I am too fucking stupid to be able to create myself, as a head secretary, so you need to do it for me) ASAP and less than 24 hours later, I get the new document with the typos corrected repeat the PDF and ASAP process." I'm just saying.

Here's another tip: if you don't want to spend half an hour sobbing uncontrollably into your napkin, don't watch "Big Fish" if you have either lost a father, or are in the process of losing one. Other than that, the movie is a delight and a wonder.

Ewan McGregor. He can do anything, can't he? I love the smile he used in "Big Fish." It wasn't just a smile, it was, um... Well, every time he flashed it, in my minds eye I could see the big animated star-burst shiny twinkle off his teeth. It was a work of art. It was "ACTING" in all caps. It was brilliant and completely articulated the character.

Well, it's been fun, kiddies, but believe it or not, I actually have some content to post on the hospital's site. I'm sure it's inane, and out of date, and thoroughly pointless, but it is content, so there you are. I'm going to do some "real" work.
Miz Shoes

job apportunity

That was the subject line of the following e-mail. This has to be one of the saddest things I've ever seen come across the virtual transom. This person is trying to apply for a job at the hospital. She wants to be a clerical worker. Here is her e-mail, in its entirety. Only the names and addresses have been removed to protect the guilty.



Education: English Center August, 1996

Miami Senior HJ August, 1993

Certificates: Business Computer

Application 1

December, 1993


April, 1996

Lotus-Beginning Intermediate

April, 1996

Medical office Technology

August, 1996

Windows 95

August, 1996

Business Communication

August, 1996


August, 1996

Languages: English and Spanish

References: The English Center

Principal Diaz Fugue.

Work Experience: I have Experience in Teacher Assistant.

When I was in HJ School 1993

Let me work with your for vonlunteer for

One week if any to."

This is just so sad. And she sent it twice, with the same mistakes both times. I forwarded it to the HR department, because who am I to say she isn't qualified to work here? Just because she can't spell or use spell check? Hell, I have vice presidents who can't turn on their own computers, so why should a secretary have to be able to write in English? It's not like it's our primary language in this city, after all.

Another conversation on the train this week was with a woman serving jury duty at the Federal Courthouse. The room was filled to capacity, standing room only, she said. And then they made an announcement that if you didn't think you could speak/understand English well enough to follow along, you could be excused. (No matter that there are translators in the courts.) Two thirds of the room left. And I know she wasn't exaggerating, because the same thing happened to me last year. The room holds several hundred people.

Don't be fooled by the mass exodus, however. Most of the folks who left probably do speak/read/understand English. They just don't want to serve on a jury. Why? Who knows. I sure as hell don't.

The Anti-Christ (my ex-husband) is a criminal defense attorney. The ideal juror is one who doesn't read a newspaper, or listen to the news on the radio, or watch the news on TV. The ideal juror has a flexible view of right and wrong, and an IQ somewhere around dishwater. The idea that those kinds of people could be my peers (jury of one's peers?) makes my blood run cold. Just another reason to keep the proverbial nose clean, then.
Miz Shoes

Not So Much Fun

My date last night was called due to server problems, and we have rescheduled for next week. I'm sorry that I can't report on snappy repartee and drunken frivolity. It'll just have to wait.

This weekend isn't going to be fun, at all. I'm off to visit my father in the hospital. That he's willing to be seen in a weakened state says all one needs to know about the situation.
On the work side of life, I live in an absurdist movie. I was asked yesterday, in the most off-hand way, to take "some photos" "for the web." The real request was for 70-80 portrait-style head shots, printed on glossy photo paper and framed. Maybe they'll go on the web, later.

I tried to explain that my little 3 mega-pixel, fixed-flash digital camera was not the optimal equipment with which to attempt portraits, and suggested that they'd look more like mug shots than head shots. I tip-toed around the issue of not being able to print on glossy photo paper. I suggested that maybe the PR office would be a better source, or, and here's a real fucking leap, maybe, just maybe, they should go to the office of biomedical Communications, where there is an actual portrait studio set up for doing physicians' head shots, and where there is a full-time photographer, and a lab.

I was told that it would be too expensive over there, because it comes out to be about ten dollars a shot. And reasonable at twice the price, I said. Yes, but we can't afford that. We need to do this as cheap as possible. And what is the project? For what reason are we shooting a team of 80 people? Why it's the newest revenue recovery team. It's part of our Quality Improvement effort.

I could cry. Or I could send the story to Dilbert. Scott Adams is going to have to start paying me for all the subject matter I give him.

Time to call the RLA and tell him to get the ice shaver ready for tonight.
Miz Shoes

My dilemma

Take it as a given that I want to keep my job. So how do I solve this problem? I can't do my job at the level of quality that I want, because other people have a say in what I do and how I do it. My boss asks for my advice, then either disregards it entirely, or just screws it up randomly. My battles with the PR department have been documented on this site, and every time I think I'm getting out from under their control, they fuck me in the ear with no oil.
I have a new VP, who has promised to "go to the wall" for us if we have a valid idea about how to do our work, who will defend us to the end for our vision of best practices. On the two occasions that I've had to test that resolve, he's caved, with the comment that one has to pick one's battles. So the result is that I don't believe in him or trust him and he's only been here for less than six months.

If asked for my opinion, what do I do? Do I give my best and honest answer, and wait for it to be ignored or gotten wrong? Do I give something less than the best answer, knowing that when PR gets wind of my point of view, they'll demand the polar opposite be done? Do I just smile politely and explain to my boss, that, well, he's the boss and he'll have to make those decisions? That I just couldn't (or won't) say?

That looks like (and is) passive aggression at its best, and a practice that is held in high esteem in this institution. While it works for damn near every incompetent I've had to deal with here, I suspect that I won't be allowed to get away with it. After all, the rules are different for me. Just look at the example of my office and the way I had to bend the rules into an origami crane just to get the furniture configured the way I wanted it, whereas the rest of the team, and the other team all got to bully their ways into what they wanted with no discussion from above.

Working here is like working in a particularly nasty whore house. Nobody wants to marry you when you quit. After a certain number of years working here, nobody wants to hire you when you leave. You've been ruined for real work.

And I have passed that point long ago. By the same token, I have lasted so long here that I am firmly held in place by the golden handcuffs. Offer me a job at the same salary, with the same benefits, and with a marginally more competent group and I would jump like a flea off a dead rat.

When I talk to other employees, we are all in the same place: held together with anti-depressants, cigarettes and alcohol.
Miz Shoes

Why Ask Why

So. Today was my first day back in my office. Or would have been, had I not been locked out. First, the outer door had the combination changed. Once in the hall, I discovered that during my absence someone had shut my door. The self-locking door to which no one has a key. Not one person. Not security, not the building managers, not the key shop. While I was at lunch (what? what else was I supposed to do? Sit in the hallway, on the floor? I tried that. It annoyed me more than anyone else.) someone managed to move a ceiling tile, and drop a hook over the inside door handle.
Also high on the incompetence-in-my-life list is American Airlines, which managed to somehow send my suitcase to Chicago, while I was flying home to Florida. It arrived a mere 23 hours later than I did. My husband had to pick me up, but the suitcase got a limo to my door.

Such is life. Once I had a suitcase go to Bogota while I was on a puddle jumper to Tallahassee. The baggage handlers told me I should take my old tags off of my suitcase before traveling. I had never been further south than Jamaica, and couldn't figure that out at all. Not six months later the same airline's baggage handlers were indicted (and later convicted) of smuggling cocaine. In people's luggage. People like me, whose suitcases disappeared and then reappeared. Nothing stolen, so no report filed. Missing luggage, so went straight on through customs, not searched. Clever, but not clever enough.

I always said that my teddy bear came back from that trip with a new scar and a knowing smile.

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