mellowtigger: (tech support)
I've been working twice my usual hours for 3 months now.  There's still no job posted for an addition to my team since we lost our supervisor 8 weeks ago.  The situation is annoying me.  Upper management seems to have developed the opinion that 2.0 FTEs is all we really need, and since I'm providing 1.0 FTEs (instead of 0.5) then they're all set.

Wrong.  Even a year ago, I was saying to my old boss that we needed more heads in the department.  Basically, I thought that we were each wearing "too many hats".  While I was telling her this opinion, I didn't know at the time that upper management had begun forcing her to wear too many additional hats too.  That's eventually why she quit.  Now some of her "hats" have fallen to us in addition to what we were doing before.

workload Januaryworkload February

To convince them that we need more than 2.0 FTEs, I gave up on my duties long enough one day to write a Powershell script that pulled statistics from our old email folders.  We assign color codes to people as they take responsibility for items that are emailed to us.  At least, I'm always up-to-date in coding my emails.  I don't think they ever were quite as dedicated to the process.  Emails are not a total view of our workload, because server projects usually don't generate emails and people frequently drop by our desks or call us for other issues.  It's the closest to a department workload view that we have, though.

Oompa Loompa wired headsetI am orangeMy old boss is blue.  My coworker is green.  The other colors are miscellaneous assignments (networking, website, departmental, etc.).  My new boss doesn't work assignments, so his contribution is irrelevant.  The trend in increased workload over the years is obvious.

I started in the last few days of February 2008.  I was surprised to see that I grew to take over more of the assignments than the others even while I was still in part-time status.  Data is valuable, since it shows trends in timespans that humans just don't notice.  (Science is good for this reason among others.)  The totally unequal distribution since my boss left, however, leaves me thinking that there are "too many chiefs", to use an old phrase.

I'm the last oompa-loompa warrior left in my tribe.  I started roaming websites last night to job hunt again.  I really dislike job hunting, but it's the lesser of two evils at the moment.  You have to avoid those vermicious knids wherever you find them.

i want beer

Feb. 7th, 2011 05:57 pm
mellowtigger: (tech support)
I didn't want to job hunt, but I think my stress level is reaching a point where I should start doing it.

I was already busy with my job, but then I doubled my hours to work full time.  I was already busy working fulltime, but then the CEO decides the voicemail system is wrong.  It falls, of course, upon me to fix it.  The phone database fails to cooperate by crashing due to corruption; it's not what I'd call reliable.

I'm on the verge of throwing in the towel (and some of my tech reputation) by just telling them to report their wishes to the vendor and have them assign someone to fix it.  I don't get paid anywhere near what a phone system project manager gets paid.  I'm willing to accept the reputational loss as long as it gains me some respite from the stress of attending to so many unrelated things at once.

Oh, and I've been working with a vendor's "Technical Support Analyst IV" regarding their website not working on our pcs, and I'm very unimpressed.  I trust my own tech skills far more than theirs.  And this vendor happened to be quoted on National Public Radio a few days ago, so they're no "small fry" in the marketplace.

Three years ago, someone pushed to get 2.5 FTEs (full time employees) for tech support here.  We're down to 2.0 FTEs now, even less if we put me back to part time status.  We've certainly grown during the past three years.  If I stick around, there's a very good chance that I'll become a programmer again.  I'd enjoy that role again.  I've lost faith, however, in my ability to endure until that emancipation.

Oh, and my new director-level boss wants weekly status and time-usage reports.

Beer is good.

still here

Dec. 6th, 2010 08:07 pm
mellowtigger: (sleepy)
Tired, poor, disconnected... but still here.

I was without my pc for 2 weeks. I still haven't installed my usual email software. I am very much behind on everyone's news, and I'm unlikely to catch up. My old motherboard died suddenly. No time to properly research, so I just ordered the latest version of the same motherboard. Doing so required upgrading other parts, so it ended up being an expensive (and unplanned and undesired) update to my computer system. I'm considering wiping the operating system to install server software from a new TechNet subscription (which I haven't ordered yet). Too unmotivated to make a decision on it yet.

Lots more going on at work. I'm currently working 40 hours per week temporarily. Not really for good reasons, unfortunately. Worked all day last Saturday too, since there was no other time good for cranking out 20 pc systems for the project due in 3 weeks. On the plus side, my latest database project provided some very unexpected and very (!!!) good news for the organization. Data is valuable, and data flow is vital. Maybe they'll eventually turn me into a programmer to help them with their data. It would amuse me to become a programmer (from being a tech guy) for the second time in my life. I like very much to play with code, and people eventually notice that it's a useful skill. *grin*

*trudge*trudge* Is it nap time yet?
mellowtigger: (hypercube)
Back when I worked in Texas state government during the 1990s, I was referred to as a "change agent". While that phrase is supposed to have a positive definition, you can imagine that in this particular setting it came across more as a pejorative. }:)

AHS Mind award 2010Now, though, I work at Animal Humane Society (AHS) where creative thinking is valued and encouraged.  As evidence, I present to you this award that I received at our all-staff retreat earlier today.  It is a first-ever award, which carries an extra bit of specialness.  It was given to a few individuals for standout performance in certain categories.

Our Mission Statement is: "To engage the hearts, hands, and minds of the community to help animals."  The awards followed those same categories. They were given to people who exemplified the compassion (heart), the dedication (hand), and the creativity (mind) that the organization needs to accomplish its work. They also awarded a fourth recognition for overall achievement.  I received the Mind award for 2010.

Janelle Dixon, our CEO, spoke about each recipient and the reasons they were selected among the other candidates. She mentioned that my job isn't one that puts me in contact with animals like so many other (lucky) people in our organization, but that I manage to find myself there anyway.  *laugh*  For instance, I've attended Volunteer training, I've attended a Wildlife conference, I visit the animals before work, I arranged to ship fur to the Gulf oil spill, and none of that stuff involves the daily data/tech issues that I normally work on.  She even mentioned my recent involvement with Hope, the kitten that I've been fostering these last few weeks.

I was quite surprised by the honor associated with this selection. I was lucky to have "a little bird" that warned me that something was up for today's event, but I was still frazzled by the attention. I hope the photo of me with Janelle doesn't come out looking too "Terrified Deer Stares Into Headlights".  I don't desire to be the center of attention for 250 (I think?) people, even though they were quite generous and supportive and well intentioned people.  I do like working at AHS, truly. Everyone is quite committed to helping critters, so I'm very surprised and honored to be singled out from a non-animal section of the organization. But I still look forward to never repeating that experience.  *laugh*  Tonight, though, I'm finally doing better. I've had food, I've had aspirin, and I've had whiskey.  I'm starting to calm down.  :)

I had (mostly) made a decision about Hope prior to the meeting, but now emotions have muddled my thinking again.  I take her back to AHS in the morning, so she can soon have spay surgery and then move on to the adoption floor.  I still have a day or two to get back to rational thinking mode.


Jul. 15th, 2010 04:40 am
mellowtigger: (sleepy)
I think maybe I got 2 hours of sleep.  Now, it's off to work at 5am, then drive out to Buffalo by 8am.

We're switching network infrastructure today.  I'm wishing everything was DHCP right now instead of static ip address.

Micromanagement requires large amounts of attention.

ow, my ear

May. 27th, 2010 07:43 am
mellowtigger: (Default)
Slight fever, general soreness in my left ear, and occasional sharp stabbing pain there.

Good news: I wasn't going in to work today anyway, because I'm telecommuting.  I was unable to register (they were full) for live attendance at today's Microsoft conference in town, so I'm doing their simulcast event instead.

Bad news: I was intending to go camping this weekend.  If I remain ill tomorrow evening, though, then I may decide to not make the drive out to the campsite.  :(
mellowtigger: (Daria)
Working at a non-profit doesn't pay much (especially at part-time hours), but it does have side benefits.  Besides the furry critters, there are also the helpful coworkers.

I got home today and found a package waiting for me.  [ profile] vulpesferox ("Our Lady of the Coon Rapids Darn") bought that Daria cd for me!  :)  Yay!  Thanks!

I imagine Daria Morgendorffer as a kind of teenage Molly Ivins: a woman too smart for the idiocy of her surroundings, so she resorts to biting cynicism as a coping mechanism.  It'll take a while to watch all 5 seasons, but I'm sure I can muster the stamina to do it.  *laugh*
mellowtigger: (sleepy)
I'm exhausted.  The last 30 hours have been intense in the unpleasant way.

Cut to avoid the long boring list... )


I saw 2 ducks hiding in the back yard grass of our neighbor's yard tonight.

*twiddle while looking for an excuse to procrastinate longer*
mellowtigger: (penguin coder)
I need a kind of document that can be edited on any computer platform without someone having to pay for programs to install.  It needs to work without someone having to lower security settings on their pc.  It needs to allow a person to enter data within specific fields in the document.  It needs to be small enough that people can easily email it as a file attachment.

What is there?

I find that Microsoft Word just isn't generic enough.  We put documents out on the web, and some people cannot view/edit/save Word format.  Or miscellaneous Microsoft formats come in to us that require additional software installed to convert to our current version.

I find that PDF is just plain awful.  The Adobe editor is expensive and a cpu hog.  Documents don't always work correctly, even with Adobe Reader.  I do like Foxit as a generic pdf viewer, but it's impossible to get every program to play correctly with a pdf document that expects fields to be filled in.

I find that Tiddlywiki is a security risk because it requires users to alter their security settings so that the program can save data to its own source file.  Prime virus territory.  Yuck.  Too bad, since I really like the concept of it: an editor embedded within the document itself.

So what options are there?  Flat html provides the forms, the dropdown lists, the radio buttons, etc, but it cannot save the data anywhere.  Argh!  Business has needed a solution to this problem for decades.  Why don't we have one yet?
mellowtigger: (Default) ("Coding for Charity") is an organization that arranges weekend-long events at which programmers, database administrators, and other professionals donate their time to build websites for non-profit organizations.  The group started in 2007, but this is the first year that they've held an event in Minnesota.  They chose my organization, Animal Humane Society, as their beneficiary.

I left work early on Friday, 2:30pm, to drive down to Bloomington at the Microsoft building.  The event will continue until Sunday afternoon.  Normally, the Give Camp is open and available to programmers throughout the duration of the camp, but (this being Microsoft) security restrictions here keep us out of the building during the wee hours of the night.  Still, we're set up in a large (85-person) meeting room, and the adjoining meeting room is set up with XBox on projector screen for entertaining diversions.  Food, drinks, and snacks are provided throughout the event.  Either my boss or I try to be around throughout the event to answer any questions they may have.

I've seen about 10 programmers here at various times so far, with at least 4 people always hanging around and coding away at their laptops.  There are occasional giveaways to offer people more breaks and encouragement.  I've overheard them saying that it's been a very productive weekend for them, if for no other reason than they don't have emails coming in demanding their attention on other tasks.

Maybe on my next Furry Friday post, I'll link to the website that they're creating for us. :)
mellowtigger: (Default)
Doing much better.  Drugs are good; penicillin is my friend.  I no longer feel infection in my ears, although it's still in my throat.

I was unable to hand off the pager on Friday, so I volunteered to take the on-call duty this weekend.  I've already traveled to Golden Valley and Coon Rapids today.  It was good to get out of the house, since I've been on the couch under a blanket for the last few days.  I may need to call Qwest eventually.  They were expected to come out in the morning, but the Saint Paul line has been bouncing this afternoon.  I talked to their site manager who said Qwest called her to work on it today (maybe), but she was going to take a look around to see if a tech was already there.

I've read a new book while I was out.  "Coyote", a sci-fi book about humanity's first off-world colonization.  It was interesting but not mind-grabbing.  Well worded with plausible human foibles exploited for the plot.  Similar, actually, to some of the ideas I still have for my own sci-fi story.  That similarity alone was enough to keep me interested, to see how someone else saw our human traits affecting us for good or ill.  I read the whole book in a day (between catnaps).  That was fun.

Superman (Ecstasy)I watched "I'm A Cyborg But That's Okay" on tv again.  I liked it even better the second time.  The blending of worlds is well done, the special effects are nice, and the acting is good.  It's sort of a South Korean take on "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", and I like this cyborg version better.

I bought the dvd for "Ben X", so I watched it again.  Still an excellent movie.  World-blending is well done in this movie too.  I caught a detail this time that I missed the first time.  A pill called "Superman" actually exists in this world, and it's a form of Ecstasy.  I've mentioned that drug before.  It's reputation on regular people is that it makes them like everyone ("love drug" or "cuddle drug").  It apparently has the same effect on autistics, which makes the difference in behavior even more remarkable.  It's a drug that I would be interested in trying once myself sometime, if only it were possible to simply purchase a safe formulation from a pharmacist.

still bleh

Dec. 17th, 2009 10:13 am
mellowtigger: (Default)
Still have a fever today, still coughing because of gunk in my chest, and now my voice is getting ragged from the coughing.  I called my boss at work to say that I wouldn't be in today (again). I already scheduled an appointment at the "free clinic" for 3:45pm.  It feels to me like a plain and simple upper respiratory bacterial infection, so hopefully they'll agree and give me some antibiotics.  (Three cheers for fungal chemical warfare!) Since I still don't have any medical insurance, I'm hoping that I can get some kind of generic drug that costs very little money.


Nov. 29th, 2009 11:43 am
mellowtigger: (Default)
I haven't been to see a movie in a month or so, I think.

I was wanting to see "The Road" and maybe even "Fantastic Mr. Fox" or "Precious" today at matinee prices. But I've already had 10 pager calls from work this morning. *grrrr* It's impossible to have a life while carrying the pager at this job. I guess movies will have to wait until next weekend when I don't have the pager. I wish they'd just admit that they need IT coverage during every business hour and keep staff on hand to cover it. The pager duty is really beyond reasonable as it is.

I succeeded in avoiding "2012". For the last year, I had very much been looking forward to watching its special effects on the huge IMAX screen. I discovered when it was released to theaters, however, that there is no IMAX version. *disappointment* The reviews for it have been mostly bad, so I guess I can live without ever seeing it. (What would be the point of watching a special effects movie on a small tv screen a year from now?)

job rant

Oct. 10th, 2009 08:05 pm
mellowtigger: (Default)
I need to find a new job.  I don't mind getting paid to work only 20 hours per week.  I can cope with getting paid less than a fulltime minimum wage job.

A part-time job that requires on-call duty, however, is a concept that just should not exist. 
  1. A 20-hours-per-week job should not require wholesale shifts in my non-work life to accommodate an uncertain schedule.
  2. After-hours work does not earn me time-and-a-half pay like it does for a full-time person.
I've been trying to attend a local science fiction convention this weekend.  I walked out of most of the sessions today to handle issues remotely.  I managed to avoid traveling east to Saint Paul or west to Buffalo.  After getting 2 work-stoppage kinds of calls back-to-back, I was in a bad mood and just left the conference entirely to come home and rest.  Sure enough, shortly after waking up, I get a site internet outage.  I just spent 20 minutes on the phone with a Qwest person, before they decided to give up and refer the issue to their central office to fix.  (Fyi, this ticket has been open since 9/1/2009 because Qwest can't keep this circuit alive for us.)

There's supposed to be a Cabaret happening right now at the sci-fi convention.  I am not there.

I need to find a new job.


Jul. 3rd, 2009 08:36 am
mellowtigger: (Default)
Two beers really did the trick last night.  The finger was feeling better, and I was sleepy enough to go to bed really early.  I'm sure the rest helped.

I tried to clean up the wound again this morning, but I didn't get very far.  I made the mistake yesterday of taking the torn-off skin and laying it back down across the wound.  So today, of course, it's stuck together even though the skin is dead now.  I'm not tearing it back off again, so it'll have to drop off in its own time.  At least it doesn't look infected to me, so no trip to the doctor is needed.  And the swelling under the fingernail has gone down, so it's not throbbing much today.

Here's a link to the photo that I took this morning, so the squeamish don't have to look at it unnecessarily.

mellowtigger: (Default)
I'm just having a really bad week.  *sigh*  :(

I have a slight ear infection, so I went to bed early last night.  I also woke up early (ear still hurting) and then dealt with a network outage in Saint Paul at 7am.  Then at 10am, I drove half an hour out west to Buffalo where I proceeded to injure myself.  I held a heavy printer in one arm, trying to open the building's front door with my other arm.  The bottom paper tray shifted, my finger slid in between the tray and the printer where I was then caught while the tray continued to slide.  The tight cinch put a noticeable blood blister under my fingernail and tore off a small shred of skin.  The kittens near the door expressed their concern (turning their bodies to face me while dropping their previously perky tails) at whatever whimpering sounds I was making as I spent painful seconds trying to remove my finger from the vice grip of the printer without dropping it to the floor.

I got back to Golden Valley and filled out what is only the 2nd workplace injury report I've ever filed in Minnesota (during the last 11 years).  I'll only go to the doctor if it shows signs of infection, but I have the paperwork ready just in case.  I washed it and soaked it in Neosporin.  Their new "pain relief" formula isn't doing much for me with this throbbing ache in my finger.  So on my way home I stopped by to pick up some more blueberry lager.  I haven't had any to drink in a month or more, so I guess it's about time.  I'm hoping that it will dull the throbbing sensation in my finger.

I'm self-medicating this evening: Neosporin and beer.  Not nearly as catchy a phrase as "birth control and beer", but I suppose it's just a matter of time until it shows up in a country song somewhere.

So how soon does Obama get his health care reforms?  I'd go see a doctor if my taxes had already paid my way through the clinic's door.

yucky day

Jun. 28th, 2009 03:25 pm
mellowtigger: (Default)
*deleted the long, rambling whine*

Today sucked.  It's just as well that I didn't plan on going to the Pride festivities today.  Power outage at work.  I thought everything worked (everything I tested did work) so I left.  I had to turn around and go back because an obscure network problem prevented external internet service (which isn't something that I test).  I didn't know about the panic attack that management was having, because the pager/phone that I have for support had locked up (thank you Windows) and wasn't alerting me to any support calls or emails.  I expect to get griped at later.

So I spent almost 5 hours today doing support stuff.  I've said it before, but this job requires way too much of my attention for only $10K/year to take home.  *sigh*

I guess we'll see if anything comes of the application I submitted for becoming a farmer.  :)  [ profile] foeclan sent me this link earlier.  They forced me to choose from a dropdown list how much I expected to be paid for the job.  I had NO idea.  I figured the "$120,000+" option was too much.  *laugh*  I selected $30-40K.  I dunno.  What would you expect for a job like this?

work award

May. 6th, 2009 09:39 am
mellowtigger: (Default)
Yesterday at the all-staff meeting for my site, I won an "employee recognition" award.  In itself, it doesn't necessarily mean that I do my job well, but it's definitely an "A+ for effort" kind of award.  I got a gift card for Cub Foods, a local grocery store chain where I happen to do most of my shopping.  :)


Nov. 30th, 2008 05:22 pm
mellowtigger: (Default)
For what's supposed to be a part-time job, this one requires a lot more of my attention than I expected. 

We're releasing a new website in a few days.  I've been uploading the content given to me by others and making sure that people submit all of the relevant material for each site section.  That's my temporary job #1.  I still have another week or so to continue working on it as needed in the mornings.

We've opened a new (for-profit) boarding facility.  I helped only a little bit by doing some of the final grunt work in getting equipment ready at the new site.  I figure I spent less than 20 hours total on that project, but that's temporary job #2.  I think that one is completed though, as far as I need to be concerned.

It'll be nice to get back to keeping my attention just on the main job, even though it's only a part-time position.  I've had to keep track of 3 different timesheets lately.  Bleah.  And today, as part of my regular job, I spent most of Sunday attending to a problem with the servers at work.  We ended up just rebooting some of them (and turning one "experimental" server off altogether) to get things working correctly again.  Hopefully all of the recent domain system oddities we've experienced in recent days will finally go away.

My boss started to look into the issue this morning, but then she had to turn everything over to us two "juniors" and a consultant around 10am.  She then went off to the emergency room to deal with symptoms that sounded suspiciously like a mild heart attack.  :(  I hope she doesn't need to leave this job to care for her own health.  Maybe we'll get an update on her condition on Monday.
mellowtigger: (Default)
Once a year, AHS closes its doors to the public, buses everyone from 5 locations to one place, and conducts a day-long workshop. Today was my first time to participate in this workshop. I spent the day at the Arboretum with the other 200+ employees (with only a few of the legion of volunteers).

After the first small group sessions, we rejoined everyone in the main room.  A spokesperson from each group summarized their results for the crowd.  Polite applause followed each summary.  I don't applaud for these occasions, though.  I think it's a silly reason to applaud and detracts from the flow of the event.  *shrug*  But the more social monkeys do enjoy the group participation, it seems.  ;)  Anyway, our group was next to last.  Our spokesperson got up and introduced herself (paraphrased), "Hi, I'm Jane.  I'm a volunteer at the Saint Paul facility."

The crowd interrupted her with their loud applause.  I applauded too this time, since it was a worthy occasion.  The (underpaid, pay-frozen-in-2008) employees greatly appreciate the work of this "virtual" workforce.  There are lots of programs done by this organization that could not be done at all without the volunteers.  I was glad to see that we "real" employees seemed to be unanimous in our gratitude for their efforts.  Yay, team effort.  Not contrived team-building group activities in once-a-year retreats, but real life daily work activities.  Stuff that matters.  That's a good reaction.

Later on, we were supposed to go back to small group sessions again.  Upper management spent so long going on about the issues brought up from the first session though (things that we were "not confident" about as employees) that we didn't have enough time left in the day to follow the schedule.  We were given a choice of skipping the last item on the list and returning to our smaller groups as planned, or we could ignore the schedule and tackle the last topic instead.  The topic was euthanasia.  Well, specifically the topic was our employees-in-the-trenches lack of confidence that our organization was taking every possible action to lower our incidence of euthanasia of animals.  There's only enough time left to do one or the other this afternoon.  So, quick show of hands, who wants to go back to the small groups... ?

Not a single person in the whole auditorium raised their hand.  Yay, team.  :)

The long-winded speaking had gone on for hours, and I'm sure everyone else was wanting easier things to think about too, but nobody was willing to give up the opportunity to talk about this issue as an entire organization.  I'm glad that the employees of AHS take very seriously their responsibility (both as individual and as organization) on this particular topic.

There wasn't time to turn it into a brainstorming session for any new things we could try, even if we had wanted to create one right then.  I mentally drafted my list, though, and wrote it down as soon as I reached a computer later that afternoon.  I'll send my ideas tomorrow after I ponder them some more.

I want to post later my thoughts on euthanasia, but I still need to ponder it a while longer to make sure I have some amount of certainty in what I write.  I just wanted to say here that I am glad that this organization doesn't back down from hard topics, even when everyone is surely tired and ready to move on to more pleasant things.

Yay, team.


mellowtigger: (Default)

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