Thursday, May 30

Letters From Twits

I'm in a much better mood tonight. I feel bad about the people who have to leave TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name). I just wish some of our clueless managers would have to join them. And let's get rid of the people responsible for all the bureaucratic bullshit that they're dumping on all of us. I can just envision a management meeting: ES1 (ES=Empty Suit): 'Let's cut head count to save costs'. ES2: 'Good idea, but if you eliminate all of my people I won't have anything to do'. ES1: 'Not to worry, we'll just put you in charge of Diversity Training or some other worthless program. Wait! I have an idea. Let's implement a competency program. We can call it CTF (Crawl to Failure). And let's implement a really bureaucratic time tracking tool. We can call it SHTS (Stupid Time Tracking System). And we will set unreasonable compliance standards. This will either make the employees so pissed off they'll quit, or we'll be able to downsize them out during the next round of cuts due to noncompliance'. ES2: 'Great idea'.

But enough about the ridiculous goings on at TCIDNN. I want to try to lighten things up by making fun of twits. Atlanta used to have two newspapers: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. The Journal leaned right. The Constitution didn't bother to lean. It was hard left. They merged a few months ago and I now refer to them as the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation. Cynthia Tucker, an unabashed liberal, is the editor of the Editorial section. The paper tries to show balance, but by and large, it leans left. The letters editor tries to show balance, but, to do so, she has to publish letters from people who have a strange view of the world. Following are samples from the week just past.

On Friday, May 24, Maggie O'Shaughnessey wrote:

It seems that after our recent electoral fiasco,

What fiasco was that? Electing a dead man to the Senate in Missouri? That's the only fiasco I remember.

President Bush shouldn't be casting any stones concerning Cuban elections.

Fidel won again? 100% of the vote? Can we have a recount? Uh, is that a gun in your hand? Recount? I was just kidding about that. Viva le Presidente!

And as for human rights, it isn't the American people who have universal health care and education, it's the Cubans.

Maggie, we do have universal education. It is called the public school system. Your taxes pay for it. And even though it is not too good anymore it is universal. And as for the Cuban medical system, let's schedule you a heart transplant down there. Or how about a simple angioplasty? And whatever you do, don't get an infection, 'cause they don't have that much in the way of antibiotics. Yep, their health care system is universal. Unfortunately, it sucks.

Oh, boy, on Monday, May 27, Birney A. Montcalm, wrote a letter defending my favorite humorist, Molly Ivins.

Once again the Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page has chosen to print a personal attack letter, claiming Molly Ivins has a vendetta against President Bush.

Molly doesn't like Dubya? I'm shocked! I always felt that Molly giving Bush the nickname Shrub was proof of how much she liked and admired him.

Next time, how about printing someone's letter who has included bona fide, reasonable debate that the AJC aspires to print?

Look Birney, The AJC prints Molly once a week and that is about as far from bonafide, reasonable debate that they can get. You want them to quit running her columns?

And here comes the Bush bashing. Today, Carol Levy wrote.

It is insulting that President Bush spoke at the Normandy Beach gathering honoring those who died during the invasion as heroes when his service in the National Guard from 1972-73 remains unclear.

As opposed to Bill Clinton's lack of service; the draft dodging bastard who is on record as loathing the military. Now as a veteran, which I doubt Carol is, I am extremely insulted by Bill Clinton even being on Normandy Beach.

I find it extremely insulting to the memory of those who have died while securing our freedom, and a slap in the face of those serving now, that Bush took the oath of service, then went to Alabama to work in a political campaign and may not have flown again.

And I find it insulting and a slap in the face that Clinton used connections to avoid the draft by committing to ROTC, then reneging on that commitment, and running off to England and then protesting the war. At least Bush joined the reserves and as you have said may not have flown again. Do you know? Anyway, I am the veteran Carol and I am far more upset at Billy boy than I am at George.

Whatever happened to the screams for accountability?

I don't know. I did a lot of screaming for accountability during the eight years Clinton was in office. It didn't do any good.

Or is that only when a Democrat is in office?

If you have a compliant Attorney General like a Janet Reno, and a press that will not do it's job, you can get away with murder.

And let's finish up with this inspired letter from Timothy Cummings.

George W. Bush is the worst of all presidents because of his involvement with Enron.

Huh? What was his involvement with Enron? He did nothing. Is that what you're bitching about or did I miss something?

and draining of the surplus money that took years to get.

Timothy, if not for the recession, which by the way started under Clinton, we'd still have a surplus. And read the Constitution. Congress spends the money. I will fault Bush for not vetoing the Farm Bill. What a disgraceful pile of pork that is!

Thank you for taking our country backwards in every aspect of life, Mr. War on Terror.

And thank you for restoring honor and dignity to the office of President of the United States Mr. President. And thank you for actually doing something to combat terrorism, rather than biting your lip and feeling our pain.

And if that is backwards in every aspect of life, I'm all for it.

Wednesday, May 29

Gloom and Doom at TCIDNN

I wanted to do an upbeat piece or at least make fun of some liberal twits, but since this is a weblog, which, by definition is an online journal, I'm gonna write about what is important to me, which is, of course, myself.

The part of TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name) I work for implemented another round of workload rebalancing (layoffs...here's your cardboard box....don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out) today. Rumors were running rampant for the last two weeks. Last Thursday, another part of TCIDNN got hit and rumors were that today was our turn.

The rumors were correct. Yesterday, I slept in and came into work late and got some grief from my office mate. He told me if I came in on time this morning, he would buy the coffee. So, sho' nuff, I got to work at 7:30 and at 8:30, no office mate. I feared the worst. But he called me and told me his manager had called him and said he was one of the fortunate few, but some of his coworkers would not make it. Now I'm really getting worried. Around 10:00, I started off to the cafeteria to get my second cup of coffee and some of my fellow employees told me the cafeteria was closed. Great!!! They shut down the cafeteria. Which, of course reminds me of a joke.

Near the end of the Soviet Union a Russian was standing in line to buy some bread and was bitching about the food shortages. A man in a leather coat, who was obviously KGB stepped up to him and said, 'You know what would have happened in the old days?' He made a gun with his thumb and index finger and said 'Bang'. On arriving home, the man's wife asked him if they were out of bread. 'Worse' said the man.'They're out of bullets'.

Anyway, the people I encountered all have a meeting scheduled with their manager at which time they will find out if they will stay or if they will go. So far I've still heard nothing. No notes. No voicemail. Nothing. This was reminiscent of our last rebalancing effort last October. I was on vacation and my manager, Mr. EPS (Empty Polo Shirt), called me at home, and talked about absolutely nothing for five minutes. Then he told me that there had been cuts in our group, but I had been spared. But, then to top it off, that was not the reason he had called. I had not responded to the United Way Campaign yet. About that time, I called 911 back and told them my heart was OK and to cancel the ambulance.

Off I go on a tangent here. Doesn't it just break your heart that the United Way missed its goals this year? They didn't get anything from me. I sent my money directly to the Boy Scouts last year and I know many other people who did the same. And how come it is so bad that the Catholic Church is being castigated for priests who are pedophiles, and the Boy Scouts are being castigated for trying to prevent the exact same thing?

But back to the subject at hand. It is now 2:00 o'clock and I still have not heard from Mr. EPS. Every Wednesday, we have what I call the Inquisition Meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss our readiness for next week and the problems we have had the previous week. I hate this meeting. At the end of the meeting, Mr. EPS lets the contractors leave and has the regulars stay. He gets up and closes the door, always a bad sign. Whenever a manager closes a door, it means there will be a bullshit storm. The good news: Everyone in the room gets to keep their job. A collective sigh emits from everyone in the room. Mr. EPS tells us that the unlucky few ('You are the weakest link, goodbye') have already been notified. Of course, we don't know who the unlucky few are, only that they are not in this room. Now, we lucky bastards have to walk on eggshells, in the fear that we will run into the unlucky bastards and say something insensitive. Usually, they send the unlucky bastards home and give them 30 days to find another job within TCIDNN or they're gone.

Mr. EPS then tells us that there may be more 'rebalancing' in the future. And it will be based on our skills and performance. Maybe we may have the skills and not perform. Uh Oh. That's me, I'm on my manager's shit list 'cause I made him look like an idiot last summer. Hey, he did all the work, I just pointed it out. Or we may not have the skills, and even if we perform we're history. Now there's a real morale booster.

I am eligible for retirement, so this stuff shouldn't bother me. With my retirement and my investments I should be OK, but this keeps happening over and over again and the morale keeps sinking lower and lower, and I keep seeing dedicated, hard workers being shown the door, while the empty suits and the empty polo shirts who run the company keep their jobs. My manager told me, when he informed me that I wasn't getting a raise this year, that neither were the executives. BFD. They don't deserve raises! Rather than doing their jobs and trying to increase revenue, they prefer to cut jobs and then burden the remaining employees with bureaucratic bullshit like, SHTS (Stupid Hourly Tracking System), SPTS (Stupid Problem Tracking System), Diversity (Jesus, if they fired everyone involved in that crap, the company could really cut expenses), and CTS (Crawl to Failure).

Our CTF is supposed to be complete by the end of June. I wrote about that in an earlier blog. GOC's first rule of mandated, worthless, bureaucratic training is as follows: Always wait until the last minute. One of two things will probably happen:

  • You will lose your job
  • The training will go away

Good news...I kept my job.

Bad news...I have to complete CTF.

Very good news...My manager has to complete CTF

Even better news...He also has to do SHTS.

Now if we could just send him to another Diversity Workshop. Heh Heh Heh

Tuesday, May 28

Memorial Day +1

I really wanted to write something inspirational for Memorial Day, but, being a typical American, I treated it as just another holiday. I worked in the yard, and I went to a friend's house for dinner. Being a veteran, I should get more worked up about it. I think the Clinton years must have done something to me.

In every generation, for the last five of my family, there has been at least one person who has served in the military for this country. It may go back even further, but that is all my sister has been able to document in her research. I have a great grandfather on my mother's side of the family who had emigrated from Germany prior to the Civil War and he enlisted in the Union Army. Our family has been willing to defend this country. My nephew is continuing the tradition and is enlisting in the army next month.

I think that is why I despise draft dodgers like our impeached, ex-president, Billy Boy Clinton. Oh no, you may say, not more Clinton bashing. I'll make a deal. I'll quit bashing Clinton when he just goes away or shuts his mouth, or both. But no, he still has to be the center of attention. I also heap scorn upon all those people who accuse Dubwa of escaping Viet Nam by joining the reserves. Michael Moore, you fat bastard, listen up! At least he served in the military. He did not dodge the draft! And as for being stupid, I got news for ya, you can't be stupid and fly high performance jet fighter planes.

I remember at the 50th anniversary of D-day, Clinton was walking on Omaha Beach and he came upon a pile of stones, knealt down, and made a little cross using the stones. Wasn't that special? This was typical Clinton: style, but no substance.

I was in England during the 1992 elections. When I awakened on election day, the results had come in and Clinton had been elected. I was upset over the outcome of the election. I could not believe that the American people had elected a draft dodger who had expressed his 'loathing of the military'. The day after the election, I was on a bus heading to Dover, and the bus driver played a tape of Kate Smith singing God Bless America, and I cried for my country.

We compounded the mistake by reelecting the slimy son-of-a-bitch to a second term in 1996. I said to myself, 'What has become of this country that we could elect someone so flawed to higher office?' What about Nixon? In Nixon's case, he abused the powers of his office to cover up deeds done by his subordinates. Clinton used his subordinates to cover up his deeds. And let's get this straight, if Clinton's stuff was 'all about sex' then Nixon's stuff was all about a 'second rate burglary' that Nixon didn't even know about. Ya see, Nixon had something that Clinton will never have: loyalty to the people working for him. And Nixon also had the respect of the office of President of the United States to resign, rather than drag the nation through the shame of impeachment. Clinton has no shame.

I believe that before someone can hold the office of President of the United States, that person should first have had to perform in some sort of service to his (or her) country. That could be military service, or it could be alternative service such as Vista, Americorps, or the Peace Corps. I also believe that the person who is the Commander-in-Chief should be subject to the same standards as someone in the military. For example, sexual harrassment by a general, should be judged and enforced no differently than sexual harrassment by the Commander-in-Chief.

But on this Memorial Day we have a President who I truly believe is an honorable man. When he speaks of the sacrifices the soldiers who have served this country have made and honors them, I think he actually believes what he says. No lip biting for this man.

This Memorial Day I feel better about my country.

I would feel even better if Cynthia McKinney was not my Congresswoman.

Thursday, May 23

Pilots With Guns

The lamb's blood on the lintel of the doorway to my office must have worked. The dreaded Dark Angel of Layoffs passed over my office and I survived yet another purge. And, yes, rumors were correct, as my friends in Dallas informed me. They knew some people who were told that their services were no longer desired by TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name) today, albeit, not of their own choice. I also heard there are going to be some site consolidations. That means people will have to move to keep a job or leave TCIDNN. Tough choice!

But today I want to deconstruct an editorial from the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation. The editor of the paper is Cynthia Tucker and, although she is an unabashed liberal, she does have principles. For example, she actually called for the resignation of Bill Clinton at the start of the Lewinsky scandal. That surprised the crap out of me. She has also come out against the crass, money grubbing antics of the King family, who have turned Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream legacy into I have a Cash Cow by selling his name and writings to the highest bidder. In Atlanta, it takes a lot of courage to disparage St. Coretta and her brood, but Cynthia has actually done that. Also, she has taken on Atlanta's other Cynthia, that certified nut case, Cynthia McKinney, who, I'm ashamed to say is my congressional representative.

But Ms. Tucker does have a weak point where guns are concerned. She's against them. Whenever an anti gun editorial appears in the Urinal and Constipation, you can bet your ass that Cynthia wrote it. Let's look at todays anti gun editorial:

Nobody wants pilots to have guns in the cockpit but pilots themselves and a few congressional supporters.

Wait a minute! I want them to have guns and in the words of Jesse Jackson, I am somebody. And goddammit, I know my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew, my friend Richard, Neal Boortz, and whole big bunches of other people want pilots armed. Cynthia, are we a bunch of nobodies?

The Bush administration, in the person of Transportation Security Administration Director John W. Magaw, is opposed to the idea. And Magaw knows what he's talking about.

He does? Sez who?

"The responsibility of the pilot is to control the aircraft," Magaw told the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee this week. "The use of firearms aboard a U.S. aircraft must be limited to those thoroughly trained members of law enforcement. Our position is: make that cockpit as safe as we can, control that plane and get it on the ground."

Wait a minute. This was the paradigm (I just can't resist getting a buzzword in here) before 9/11. Get the plane on the ground? He is right that the pilot has to control the aircraft. What better control is there than shooting some brainwashed madman who thinks he can go bang seventy two virgins by flying the plane into a building? And this bastard knows what he is talking about? Has he ever been on a hijacked airplane?

Since Sept. 11, the idea of guns in the cockpit has taken on all the momentum that could be mustered by the nation's thousands of commercial pilots, but the airlines themselves, the federal government and other members of the flight crews all oppose it.

All right. Let's think this through. Who is in charge of the airplane? Yes, you in the back. That's right. The pilot. He's the HMFIC (the man in charge). And, ya know, over thousands of pilots couldn't be wrong.

Magaw said rigorously trained air marshals should be the only armed people on a flight, and the government is committed to increasing their presence.

But until there are enough marshals, I would sure feel safer if the pilot is packing heat.

Magaw is not just a federal bureaucrat with an opinion. He spent 40 years in law enforcement and consulted extensively with experts and interest groups on this. He is joined in opposition by Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, the Airline Transport Association and the Association of Flight Attendants.

Here's a simple question. Whom do you trust? A bureaucrat or a pilot who is reponsible for many lives on a daily basis? Uh, Yes, you in the third row. The pilot? Good answer. I'd feel safer if the pilot had a rod. Pilot to Abdul, 'Hey buddy, I got your trip to paradise right here.' Bang!

Yet some members of Congress vow to continue trying to pass a law allowing pilots to arm themselves. The House Transportation aviation subcommittee will take up legislation on the issue today, and a group of senators is also backing a bill.

Good for them. I bet Cynthia McKinney and Ted Kennedy are not among them.

Advocates said Magaw's comments did nothing but pressure them to redouble their efforts. That's disappointing.

No. That's encouraging.

There are many, many other aviation security issues that Congress could better spend its time on. As just one example, airport screening procedures still need a lot of work. Congress ought to let go of the issue of guns in cockpits.

Airport screening procedures need a lot of work? Now there's the understatement of the year. Good God, there was another metal detector unplugged in Houston yesterday! Jesus! I thought little Tommy Daschle said, 'To professionalize, you must federalize.' Great! Half the airport screeners, wait, better than half of the airport screeners couldn't get an order at McDonald's correct and you want us to depend pn them for airport security?. And all these asshole democrats (Jesus, God, would someone just ram a sock into Hillary's mouth) ranting and raving about how the Bush Administration had advance warnings of 9/11. What the hell were they supposed to do? Pick out Middle Eastern men and search them? Isn't that like, um, racial profiling? Let's hear what Ann Coulter has to say about that. Even though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, even now we cannot single out persons of Middle Eastern origin. Yeah. Airport screening procedures. That's the ticket. Wake the fuck up! Man, now I'm really getting pissed! Many pilots are ex-military and guess what? They have been trained on how to use guns. Airport screeners are the dregs of society who will soon be unionized, which means we can't fire them, and most of them couldn't even say 'Do you want fries with that?' C'mon Cynthia, get with the program!

All this reminds me of what Archie Bunker once said on an All In the Family episode. Issue everyone a rod when they board the plane. That way when the hijacker tries to take over the plane he's outgunned.

Works for me.

Wednesday, May 22

CTF

Things are kinda gloomy at TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name). There are another round of layoffs coming and everyone feels like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over our heads. Rumors are rampant. Last week's rumor was the layoffs would be announced last Wednesday. This week's rumor is that they will be announced tomorrow. It's like being at the Last Supper. Lord, am I the one? But, since I am eligible for retirement, I would just get 'retired'. So, in effect, I am bulletproof. Anyway, if I got 'retired' I could spend more time blogging and maybe, just maybe, I could get my blogs up to the level where other bloggers would actually read what I wrote. On the downside, some of my best material comes from TCIDNN, and that is the subject of today's blog.

In the blog I wrote on May 13, The LFQP I talked about how companies, when in a downturn, usually do two things:

  • Lay people off
  • Institute some sort of FQP (Quality Program)

We've already had the layoffs (with more to come) and now we have a FQP.

I think the reason we have FQP's is that we have entirely too many managers. That is also the reason we have matrix management and dotted line management organizations. In our company we sometimes refer to managers as lion food. It seems two lions escaped from a zoo. They met up two months later. The first lion was skinny and mangy. The second lion was fat and well groomed. The first lion said 'How come you look so good? I ate one person and they've been hunting me ever since.' The second lion said, 'I've been hanging out at the headquarters of TCIDNN. I've eaten one manager a week and no one has noticed.'

So, we have too many managers and I guess they run around in circles screaming and shouting that they must do something, anything! So what does that mean? Another FQP.

This iteration of another FQP is a self study course that I will call CTF (Crawl to Failure). Everyone in my organization has to finish CTF by the end of June. My particular group was only told about this three weeks ago. CTF is supposed to address skills needed to better perform our jobs. I've taken the first two units and already have enough buzzwords to fill out a buzzword bingo card. Empowerment? It's there. Vision? It's there. In fact we have a Vision Portal. I'm not kidding. Competencies? Yup. Core skills? That too. I feel smarter already. Oh, and since our group has to do everything better than every other group, we have to send a Status Report documenting where we are in CTF to one of our project managers every Tuesday. Isn't that special?

I have been with TCIDNN for twenty nine years and the one thing I've learned on FQP's and special certifications and other bureaucratic bullshit is to always wait until the last minute. There are two reasons for this:

  • Many times they just go away and I wind up not having to waste time on them.
  • This could be a management trick. If you finish the program in record time, they might decide you have too much time on your hands and lay you off. I have actually seen this happen.

So I've been taking my time doing CTF.

CTF also eats up hard drive space as I have had to download some large databases. That means I have to find the servers where these databases reside. That involves searching the wonderful world of TCIDNN servers to find the specific one I require for that particular database.

I have found a few tricks to doing CTF. When you click on a particular module, it expands to sections that you click on to read. When you close each section, it marks it as complete. When you finish a module, you send off a completion certificate. You don't really have to do anything at all!!! I gotta love the person who designed CTF.

My officemate did tell me that in module four there was a test. Here's another trick: When taking tests for certifications or other types of courses designed to build enhanced competency skills, always choose the answers with the most buzzwords. Trust me, this works. A few years back I had to take a certification exam for another FQP and I didn't even look at any of the course material. Answer a: one buzzword. Answer b: one buzzword Answer c: three buzzwords Answer d: all of the above. Correct answer is c. Another hint: All of the above and None of the above are usually wrong answers. I passed the test. No problem.

And of course we have a SHTS code to use for this. For info on SHTS see SHTS and SPTS, my May 1 blog. And this is productive education. There is also a code for nonproductive education which begs the question: If it's nonproductive, why do we do it?

So I am anxiously awaiting tomorrow to see if I will get laid off or, if nothing happens, what the next rumor will be I'll be in my office CTFing, SHTing, and SPTing.

In the meantime, my officemate and I have spread lamb's blood on the lintel over the entrance to our office in hopes that the dreaded Angel of Layoffs will pass over us.

Wish us luck.

Tuesday, May 21

The Path to War

My sister has been on my case that I haven't written a screed lately. Actually,she doesn't really like my screeds. She prefers it when I make fun of Molly Ivins. Funny, in today's Atlanta Urinal and Constipation there was a letter to the editor from Dave Thomason of Smyrna Georgia and here is an excerpt:

The @issue pages are for constructive and intelligent discussions regarding the important issues of the day from the full spectrum of political views. I must take exception with the continued printing of Molly Ivins' column. This woman has a personal vendetta against President Bush.

Well, yeah, Dave, but you got to realize that Molly is a humor writer. Ya know, something like Dave Barry, just not as funny. Anyone who takes Molly seriously is the type of person who would vote for Cynthia McKinney or think that Michael Bellesiles is a serious scholar.

I'm not gonna write about Molly Ivins or even Helen Thomas, who wrote a column about how we need universal health care. Yeah and we need world peace and one world government and peace on earth and good will toward men. So Helen, what model should we use? Well first that would require socialism, which has never worked anywhere it has been tried. I know, Hillary Clinton hasn't been running it, but no one else has been able to make it work either. Sweden? Their economy is imploding. England? The National Health Service? Give me a break. Canada? Yeah, how about Canada? They keep coming to the United States to get good medical care. I know. How about Cuba? The workers' paradise. They have free medical care, but remember, you get what you pay for. Helen really needs to find somewhere where they have a good treatment for Alzheimer's Disease, 'cause I think she's just about there.

No, I want to write about a really good movie I saw on HBO Saturday night. It was called Path To War and it covered the period between Lyndon Johnson's inauguration in 1965 to his announcement that he would not seek reelection in 1968. I did not really like the actor who portrayed LBJ, but the movie was well done otherwise.

In my opinion, the biggest BEM (booger eatin' moh-ron) responsible for the debacle known as the Viet Nam war (wait a minute...it wasn't really a war...if it were a real war, we could have tried Jane Fonda for treason and shot her worthless ass. I have not paid to see a Jane Fonda movie since Barbarella, which was probably her only good movie. Lord knows, she ain't much of an actress. Klute...never saw it. On Golden Pond...never saw it. 9 to 5..saw it..didn't pay for it..got side tracked gotta return to the original thought), was Robert McNamara. And whom do you think was the actor who played him? In a remarkable stroke of incredible typecasting they cast one of the most wothless BEM's of an actor they could find: Alec Baldwin. Wait a minute. Wasn't he supposed to leave the country after Bush won? Alec, Delta is ready when you are.

Somewhere near the end of the movie Johnson was ranting about how he should have replaced half the cabinet when he took over. For sure he should have replaced McNamara. George W. Bush take a lesson here. Get rid of Clinton holdovers, especially Tenet at CIA.

I was in the Navy from 1965 to 1969. From October 1966 to October 1969 I served on amphibious ships in support of operations in Viet Nam. I lived through that incompetently managed war. There were times I felt it was one big circle jerk and I was in the middle.

All right Sherry, here I go.

I just saw the director's cut of Apocalypse Now and there were some glaring mistakes. First of all, we did not call the Vietnamese slopes, slants, dinks, or chinks, all terms I heard In Apocalypse Now. They were fucking gooks! John McCain had it right. And another thing, every place name had fucking in the middle. e.g Viet Fucking Nam, Da Fucking Nang, Vung Fucking Tao. That was apropriate because it was the most fucked up war we ever fought!

You almost have to feel sorry for LBJ, because he had to follow the saintly JFK. Yeah all those Kennedy's are real saints aren't they? I remember a few years ago, I think it was at the Clarence Thomas lynching, uh, I mean, hearings, that Ted Kennedy said he was morally outraged about something. That was quite a feat since to be morally outraged one has to first have morals. Remember it was JFK who betrayed all the Cubans at the Bay of Pigs. He's probably lucky he got shot as his presidency would have been mediocre otherwise. In all fairness, he didn't start the Viet Nam mess, Eisenhower was the one who sent in the first advisors. But he appointed McNamara who kept getting us in deeper. Like I said, Johnson should have canned McNamara. He finally canned him and got him a postion at the World Bank where McNamara continued his uncanny knack of fucking up everything he touched.

I first hit Viet Fucking Nam in October of 1966 and could see right away that we were not fighting a war. Look, when you fight a war you fight for one reason and one reason only: To win! As Patton said, 'You don't win wars dying for your country. You make the other sorry sonuvabitch die for his country.' We were fighting this war all wrong. We were trying to hurt the gooks enough to make them want to negotiate a peace. This sounds something like we want to have Israel do with the Palestinians. Colin Powell, fer chrissakes, don't you remember Viet Fucking Nam?

During this war we kept trying to be the good guys. Here's the deal: the people who win the war get to write the history. If we would have gone in with the appropriate force in the first place and fought an offensive war instead of a defensive war we might have won. By the time the people in charge realized that, public opinion had turned against the war and we had lost. All of us grunts and squids in Viet Fucking Nam knew that. The Cong killers wanted the people in charge to unleash them so they could do the job they were trained to do.

In January of 1968, I was transferred to an LST, an amphibious ship that went right up to the beach to load and unload supplies. I was in country during TET. I was also in country when LBJ made his speech that he would not seek reelection. All the Cong killers were ecstatic. Not just the Cong killers but all of us were. We figgered that since LBJ wasn't running for reelection he would release us from our silly rules of engagement and let us finally fight to win this crappy war. No such luck.

And the war kept dragging on and on until we finally negotiated 'peace with honor', tucked our tails between out legs, and left Viet Fucking Nam. Now if that wasn't a big load of bullshit. And then those poor oppressed Vietnamese created the killing fields in Cambodia. Would you believe there was at least one peacenik with integrity? After the mess in Cambodia, Joan Baez, admitted that maybe we were doing the right thing in Viet Nam after all. She called Jane Fonda, who couldn't be bothered as she had other interests by then.

Do I have bad feelings about Viet Nam? You bet your ass I do. I am pissed off that we elected a draft dodger as president. Someone went in the place of that sorry ass and probably got killed. And Michael Moore has the balls to say that about George Bush? At least Bush went in the military, if only the reserves. I don't remember Micahel Moore saying anything about that from 1992 to 1998, that fat bastard. Even Gore went in the military and actually went to Viet Nam. But, the normal tour was one year and he was only there for four months and had a bodyguard, but at least he went.

But as bad as the Viet Nam war was, and God knows it was bad, it could have been much worse.

Jimmy Carter could have been President

Monday, May 20

Jerry's Excellent Retirement Dinner

I drove up to St. Louis on Thursday to attend my friend Jerry's retirement dinner. When you retire from TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name) they have a dinner for you and you can invite up to ten people. The bad thing is one or more managers also attend.

I drove up because I like to drive. It's 570 miles and I can do it in eight hours. You do the math. Hint, the average speed is over 70 mph. One of my cars is a 2001 BMW Z3 and that's what I drove. What's the use of having a fast car if you cannot drive it fast? No tickets. It was a fun drive.

So I got up to St. Louis around four in the afternoon, checked in to the hotel, and called Jerry. We met for dinner.

A little background on Jerry. We met twenty nine years ago when I first started work at TCIDNN. He was one of my mentors. About twenty three years ago, he got TCIDNN to fire him. Actually, the way it works is, if you quit so we don't have to fire you, we'll give you severance pay. And, since he was vested, he would get a small pension when he turned sixty two. A few years later he went to work at another company. That company was acquired by TCIDNN, so back into the fold he came. Also, all the time he worked at the acquired company counted as time worked at TCIDNN. Now here is the neat part. He left TCIDNN again and once again he got severance pay. Then, darned if he didn't get TCIDNN to hire him again. And, last month they 'retired' him and guess what? He got severance pay again! What a company!

So we went to dinner at a place near my hotel. Jerry has formed his own company and he showed me all the people he has already signed up. He quit TCIDNN the second time because the job involved selling and he didn't like that. Now that he is in business for himself he is selling up a storm. Example. We were getting ready to leave the restaurant and he had to go to the john. He was in there an awful long time and when he finally came out he was talking to a guy. He introduced me to him and said that this was a potential customer. Good God! He's even selling in the john. Is nothing sacred?

So the next day was the dinner. Jerry and his wife picked me up and we drove to Clayton for the dinner. TCIDNN pays for ten people, but Jerry had an additional 26 people and he paid for that out of his own pocket. He was a nervous wreck. Why? I'll tell you why.

Jerry is probably the most organized person I have ever met in my entire life. I hate overused cliches, but, if you were to look up anal retentive in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Jerry. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. When we both worked at TCIDNN, we fixed office equipment. Jerry actually had a piece of carpet in the bottom of his tool bag! He vacuumed it regularly. We used to make jokes about how organized he was. One of our jokes was he decided before he went to sleep exactly what he was gonna dream about that night. I, on the other hand was, and still am a slob. Jerry and I used to go water skiing at Lake of the Ozarks in the summer. I rented a small rustic cabin every year and had a boat. We'd drive down over a weekend. I always liked to take my car so Jerry would clean it out for me. He had a big trashbag all ready and would throw all the empty beer cans and other junk from my car into it before we left. I'm surprised he didn't vacuum my car for me, but I guess he was able to show some restraint.

So he had been planning this dinner for quite some time and everything had to be perfect. He was up until 3:00 AM the previous night working on details. So what happens? We are the last people to arrive. Jerry's still sweating hoping everything is perfect. He had planned on making name tags for everyone and placing them on the proper tables so everyone would be seated in the proper place, but he ran out of time. We all, hoping this was OK and would not upset the order of the universe, sat where we durn well pleased. The earth didn't stop. Instant chaos didn't run rampant throughout the space time continuum, so I guess everything was all right with the world. It was an excellent meal. People said nice things (and some funny things) about Jerry. His manager (a real empty suit if there ever was one...wait a minute, we dress business casual now...I guess his manager must be an empty polo shirt) said a few phony words. Then it was Jerry's turn to make a small speech. I couldn't help thinking about a Bob Newhart monologue called the retirement party. The retiree's boss didn't know his name and when the retiree got up to make a speech he started off with 'Thirty five years I've worked for this company and all I get is this crummy watch.' But Jerry behaved himself. He made a nice little speech and thanked us all for coming. We mingled and left.

When one retires from TCIDNN, one gets a real nice leather binder which contains letters from managers and colleagues. Of course the HMFIC (the guy in charge who runs the company) has a form letter. Dear Gerald. Gerald? No one calls him Gerald. Your hard work, dedication and loyalty to TCIDNN over the years has been part of the success of our fine company. OK HMFIC, then why the heck are you firing, uh, I mean retiring him? The RMFIC (regional manager) has to weigh in Dear Jerry At least the RMFIC actually knows Jerry. Blah Blah Blah...essentially the same as the HMFIC Once again, why are you retiring him? Then his manager, the EPS (empty polo shirt), Dear Jerry, On the occasion of your 'retirement'. More phony bullshit But at least he put retirement in quotation marks so we all know that this 'retirement' was not voluntary.

Omigosh! I haven't written him a letter yet!

Jerry and his wife had me over for dinner that evening. The retirement dinner was actually a luncheon. Another friend showed up and we played guitars until 11:30. His other friend plays a hell of a lot better than I do. Also, I'm out of practice. I actually forgot the words to some songs. Excuses. Excuses.

The next day, Saturday, I drove back to Atlanta. 570 miles. Eight hours. No tickets. Had the Z3 up to 115 on one stretch of I-64.

My friend, Michael, who is the wine buyer at Greens' Beverages in Atlanta had me over for dinner Saturday night. His wife was out of town. We had salmon as an appetizer and then some Chinese food. To drink, we had a sparkling wine, a Beaujolais, and a Bordeaux. And, we got his wife's permission to each have a glass of Delamain Cognac. It was his Mother's Day gift to her. Total consumption: three bottles of wine and one snifter apiece of Cognac. Do not try this at home. We are highly trained experts. At least Michael is. I live ten minutes away.

Anyway, it was a fun three days.

TCIDNN just announced more layoffs. I may be 'retiring' soon.

Jerry said he would come to my retirement party.

Wednesday, May 15

But Before I Go

I'm heading up to St. Louis tomorrow to attend a retirement dinner for a friend who was just 'retired' from TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name). When I was first hired by TCIDNN, he was my mentor. I continued to work for TCIDNN and he left the company twice to pursue other endeavors. How he came back to work for TCIDNN is an interesting story in itself but I'm not gonna relate it here. He's leaving again, albeit involuntarily, but he is getting full retirement and severance pay. And TCIDNN is giving him a retirement dinner and I'm attending.

I'm not writing anything this week after today and I see many lost opportunities. Monday's Atlanta Urinal and Constipation was a target rich environement. I mean it was just begging for ridicule. There was the expected anti-gun editorial. Joseph Lowery wrote a pro-Palestinian op-ed. And, I cannot leave out the incredibly funny column by that noted humorist Molly Ivins. She once again points out that the Israeli military offensive had no effect on Palestinian terrorism. Did I miss the reports of all the suicide bombings that have occured since the Israeli offensive? That Molly. What a kidder.

But I'm not gonna write about any of that stuff. Since I have to attend a Diversity Meeting today, I'd like to say a little bit about the full day Diversity Awareness Workshop I had to attend a few years ago.

If you read my LFQP blog from two days ago you might remember GOC's rule of thumb about training sessions: If, when you walk into a classroom, the tables and/or chairs are in a horseshoe shape, you have a Ken and Barbie in the front of the room, and they call themselves facilitators, it's gonna be a long day. It was.

When I arrived and saw the danger signals, I had my action plan in place. I would sign the class roster and, at the first break, I would split. Alas, Ken and Barbie had safeguards in place. They would not allow us to sign the roster until after lunch. Hmmm. This Ken and Barbie team is smarter than the usual Ken and Barbie team. Curses! Foiled again!

Ken, who was very obviously gay, introduced himself and told us how much fun we were gonna have. Ken, ol buddy, you should never start off a class, uh, a workshop with a blatant lie. Barbie, introduced herself, and told us, with pride, that she was a New York Jew. Huh? What do we care? Maybe this was supposed to heighten our Diversity Awareness.

Our first exercise was to recall some time in our distant past where we had experienced the feeling of being different from others. We had to share this moment with the other members of the Workshop. I could think of some time in the current present. I felt different from anyone who thought this day wasn't gonna be a total waste of time. But, I played along, and shared my experience of being the first person in my second grade class to wear glasses, and being called four eyes by my classmates. I feel much better now that I've shared this experience. I understand how others must feel about being different. I see the light. I embrace Diversity. Can I leave now? No? Damn!

Nope. We have more to come. We have to see the visual about the purchasing power of various groups. These groups include:

  • Blacks (or was it African-Americans? And as an aside, what do you call a white South African who has become an American citizen? And how about Colin Powell? His parents came from Jamaica? Is he an African-Jamaican-American?)
  • Gays (If they are male the new preferred term is Men Who Have Sex With Men...This was not in the workshop. This is new. Thought you'd like to know that I'm keeping up to speed with Diversity.)
  • Hispanics/Latinos (There's a difference between Hispanics and Latinos?)
  • Old People (uh I mean Senior Citizens)
  • Women
  • Asian-Americans (Just what we need...another hyphenated group)
  • Disabled folks (Cripples. Look! I made the cut!)

So since all these groups have a lot of money, we should make sure we have people who look like them, selling products to them. Uh, excuse me, isn't this kinda like white people should only vote for white people, and black people should only vote for black people? Uh, Isn't this, like, racist (or sexist, or ageist)? No? Oh, this is Diversity. I understand now. Are we all done here? No? There's more?

Now it is time for the Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes video. An elementary school teacher divided her class into two groups: blue eyes and brown eyes. (What she did with the green, gray, and black eyed kids wasn't mentioned.) One day the blue eyed kids had all the privileges and were able to look down on the brown eyed kids. The next day the roles were reversed. The kids were amazed at how bigoted they became. Wow! Bigotry is bad! I'll never be a bigot again! Are we done? Can I leave? There's more? Groan!

Yup. We gotta talk about stereotypes. Ken and Barbie put up this big poster that had various nationalities on it and we had to put our impressions of them by putting postit notes under each nationality. Example: Japanese...good at math. Chinese...bad drivers. I got a neat thing about stereotypes: In European Heaven the English are the police, the Germans are the mechanics, the French are the cooks, the Italians are the lovers, and the whole place is run by the Swiss. In European Hell, the English are the cooks, the Germans are the police, the Swiss are the lovers, the French are the mechanics, and the whole place is run by the Italians. Anyway...

And right here in mid-sentence, I have to go to my annual Diversity Awareness Meeting. I will have a summary of that when I finish this at home tonight.

I'm back, I got my SHTS done and I'm logging off and going home

(as I finish the sentence started before Diversity Meeting) ...Ken and Barbie inform us that all stereotypes are bad. OK Are we finally finished? Nope. Got to pull our chairs in a circle and summarize. About now, I'd like to take a chair and beat Ken and Barbie over the head, but if I did, I would probably have to go through this all over again for not valuing the worth of Diversity Awareness instructors.

At least there is some justice in the world. The Diversity Awareness Workshop that managers have to attend is two days long. Heh Heh Heh

But now things get real bizarre. Our annual Diversity Awareness Meeting today was conducted by one of our employees. I shall call him MC (Meeting Coordinator). I was gonna call him Meeting Facilitator, but didn't think MF was appropriate. He started off by telling us that he had asked our manager if he could do the Diversity Awareness Meeting today because Diversity was real important to him. As some of you may know or not know, I am gay. I'm sure you suspected as it's unusual to be over forty five years old and not be married.Uh Oh. I'm fifty five and not married. MC says I, that's stereotyping.Anyway, MC thanks for sharing. I didn't really want to know that and what's more, your sexual orientation is none of my goddamn business.

He then had to spend another fifteen minutes discussing about how things at TCIDNN had improved over the nineteen years he had worked for the company. And now he felt comfortable about being gay. Hey! What about me? I don't feel comfortable about you talking about being gay. It's none of my goddamn business!

And then.....He asked Are there any questions?And this little voice inside me was screaming NO! NO! Don't ask any questions! I'm begging you! Please! Please! No freaking questions! Stop! Stop! I give up! I can't take any more! No such luck. Someone asked another question. This led to another ten minutes of shit that I didn't care about.

Look. I don't care if you are black, white, red, purple, green, yellow or orange. I don't care if you are monosexual, bisexual, trisexual, or you perform disgusting acts involving a monkey and a football. I don't care if you're Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or Islamic. There is a caveat here. You can't be the type of Muslim who's idea of a good time is killing himself (or herself) and taking a bunch of us with you. That's where I put my foot down. All I care about is can you do the job and carry your share of the load. Don't try to ram your beliefs down my throat.

Now we come to the high point of the meeting. MC introduces and then shows a fifty minute video about the life and times of Ruth Ellis. Ruth Ellis was born in 1899 and lived until 2000. And she was an inspiration because...she was Gay, she was Black, and she was Female. See she had to overcome three obstacles: homophobia, racism, and sexism. When I left the meeting I was truly inspired. I would really like to write a description of the video, and the effect it had on me, but I honestly could not do it justice. I guess one of the inspirational moments was when she was given an award at a Black History/Herstory Festival. MC told us she was all over the internet and, sho' nuff, I just did a Google search and the first hit had all sorts of info, including the name of the video Living With Pride: the Ruth Ellis Story.

So now I can value Diversity for another year. And I'm gonna go look for Ken and Barbie and tell them about Ruth Ellis.

They can add her video to their Workshop.

Tuesday, May 14

If not SHTS than SPTS

I'm gonna do part of this blog from work. It's only fair, since work cut into my blogging time last night.

I have a user working in San Francisco this week. Our 2nd shift operator called me at home telling me he didn't know how to do what this user needed done. OK, have the user call me. The user called and said all he needed done was having an id reset. I called the operator back and he said he knew how to do that on two other systems but not this one. It's not different. It's the same bloody operating system! Arggghhhh!

Sometimes it's just easier to do it yourself. So, I fired up the old laptop to connect to the network and IT DIDN'T BLOODY WORK! I stayed home one day last week making all this stuff work and now it doesn't? Maybe the old way using my other PC works. Yeah...Let's try that. Nope! Your Account Has Been Shut Down. Thanks a bunch! OK, I'll just call the operator and talk him through it. In the meantime, the user in San Fran has called me two more times on my cell phone. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm working on it.

Call the operator back who has told me he knew how to do this on the other systems. I still have to tell him anyway. First we have to get him logged on. It takes three tries. Same id. Same logon procedure as the other two systems. I still have to talk him through it. Why me? Is it any wonder I'm a grouchy old cripple?

Now he's got me rattled. I can remember the command to reset the password, but I cannot remember the command to reactivate the id. So I tell the operator to call one of the programmers in Dallas and ask him to do it. The user calls me again on my cell phone. I'M WORKING ON IT!!!

Ten minutes later the programmer in Dallas calls me on my home phone. What do I need? The operator was not very good at explaining the problem (I'm shocked!) At that very moment, the user calls me on my cell phone again ( passing thought...Is cell phone one word or two?). Aha! The end is near. The programmer in Dallas does his job. I tell the user in San Fran that it should work. He tries. It does. Mission accomplished. Once again science and technology triumph over ignorance and superstition.

Another quality fix by two highly trained (and one lowly trained) data processing professionals.

So, I lug the laptop into work this morning so I can connect up to the LAN and get this stuff fixed. Easier to do stuff at T1 speeds. But first, I have to attend the reguarly scheduled team meeting conference call. After that, I need to talk to the Operations Manager to see what we can do about Mr. 2nd Shift. Then, it's time to do SPTS.

On May 1, I wrote a little piece about SHTS and SPTS. SHTS is our Stupid Hourly Tracking System. SPTS is our Stupid Problem Tracking System. In cases where the user has bypassed the normal procedure to call the Help Desk, or, when the Help Desk has passed the call directly to Operations, expecting the call to be resolved quickly (not on 2nd shift), it is the responsibility of the operator or the programmer to open a PR (Problem Record) in SPTS. Even if the problem has been fixed quickly (or in my case, not so quickly) we need to open a PR and then mark it resolved. So I dutifully logged on to SPTS to log in my PR. Now the last time I used SPTS, I had problems. When trying to save the PR I got a 404. Not surprising since the guy who wrote it was a 404 kind of guy, but it was not his fault. They didn't put it on a server with enough capacity. Then, to compound the problem, they added more functionality to the SPTS application. Yeah, that's a good idea. Take an application that doesn't work, and, that's running on an underpowered server, and try to add additional functionality to it. Man we really need another FQP (Quality Program) about now.

So I fire up the SPTS program and my id and password still work. That's one positive sign. OK. let's just go click on that little square that opens up a new problem record. Nothing happens. I must be doing something wrong. Let's log off and recycle Internet Explorer and log back on. No help. All right, time to call the Help Desk. I'm in luck. I get my favorite: the cute, sweet one with a brain. 'OK' she says, 'Do you see those opposing arrows at the top of the display?' Yup. 'OK, click on the box to the right. What happens?' Nothing. 'Nothing?' Nothing. 'Have you tried logging off and back on?' Yup. 'Hmmmm.' That doesn't sound good. 'I'll have to have William call you.' Now here is where the story takes an unexpected twist. William calls me five minutes later and in another five minutes FIXES THE PROBLEM!!! They are ice skating in Hell at this very moment.

Now, time to tackle the laptop. First, I need to find a token ring card. Maybe Tony has one. He does. Now, lets see if I can fix all the problems. It only takes about an hour and it appears everything works. I cannot believe it. They're actually having a bodacious snowball fight in Hell. This day is turning out all right after all. Then I make a tragic mistake. I check my mail.

My manager has scheduled a diversity meeting for tomorrow.

The snow is all gone.

The ice has all melted.

Tomorrow I shall be in Hell.

Monday, May 13

Missing Link

Found the link about the Hooters waitress. It was in Friday's Best of the Web. It's almost at the bottom.

The LFQP

When technology companies experience a downturn you can almost always count on two things:

  • Layoffs
  • Another Quality Program (AFQP)

And everytime they introduce the New Quality Program (NFQP), they always say this is not AFQP. Of course, when they say that, they are admitting that the Last Quality Program (LFQP) was bogus. Understand? Well, since TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name) is still slow on the rebound we have had layoffs with more to come and, guess what? AFQP. But, I don't want to write about that. I want to write about the LFQP.

The LFQP occurred about ten years ago. This was the age of paradigm shifts, empowerment, six sigma, and the Malcom Baldridge Award. Motorola, who created six sigma (six defects per one million), was the model. Anyone notice how Motorola is doing today? Attention clueless executives! You can have all the quality in the world, but you're going nowhere if no one wants to buy your products!

The LFQP was predicated on knowing your customer. (duh!) Knowing what your customer wanted. (double duh!) And being able to react to changing markets (triple duh!) We should not need a FQP for this. This should be standard business procedure and it should start from the CEO and work its way down. Just as a turd at the top becomes a mountain of bullshit by the time it hits the peons, good business practices should work the same way. It should not take a FQP to accomplish that! Tom Peters, call your office.

So all of the employees had to go to what I call Green Hat School. See, there were six different colored hats at the school. Each color represented something different. Green was creativity, red was anger, and, my favorite, black, was negativity. There was also yellow, blue, and another color I cannot remember. It was all bullshit anyway. Let me tell you something about these types of classes. When you walk into a room, the tables are in a horseshoe shape, up at the front are Ken and Barbie, and they refer to themselves as facilitators, trust me, it is gonna be a long day (or two, or three).

So let's talk about the fun I had in Green Hat School. First, Ken and Barbie introduced themselves and welcomed us to the class. They then gave the class big pieces to a big ol' jogsaw puzzle that was so large it would need to be assembled on the floor. The class dutifully assembled it. I was not able to help. I'm a cripple ya know. After successfully assembling the puzzle, which consisted of the initials of TCIDNN, the class looked to Ken and Barbie for approval. It was not forthcoming. 'We did not want you to assemble the puzzle', said Ken, 'We wanted you to put the pieces into three equal piles'. The moral: Ask your customer what he wants. Damn! How could we miss that? Are we stupid or what? We've only been here an hour and we've learned something already. What a class!

Next we had some sort of lecture and the Paradigm Video. You've never seen the Paradigm Video? You had to. I've seen it at least three times myself. It tells you about stuff like the Swiss who invented the digital watch but gave the secret to the Japanese because no one would want cheap digital watches. Uh oh. The Swiss needed to make a paradigm shift. Other examples abounded, but who cares, no one ever talks about paradigm shifts anymore. Now we think outside the box. Everytime I try to think outside that damn box, they just put me in a bigger box.

Now it was time for more fun: the magic carpet walk. There was a carpet that was put on the floor. It consisted of a checkerboard pattern that was 4 or 5 squares wide by 10 or 12 squares long. The dimensions were not really important. There were sensors under the carpet. When stepped on they beeped. The trick was for everyone to be able to walk from one end of the carpet to the other without beeping. Everytime someone stepped on a beeping square someone else had to start over. By trial and error, the team should be able to find out which squares beeped and avoid them. Oh, and one more thing, no talking.

I had a good view of the fun from where I was sitting. I was unable to participate. I'm a cripple ya know.

So I got to see a bunch of people pointing at squares so the current magic carpet walker knew where to step. Eventually, the team broke the code and figured out the correct sequence of squares to get from one end of the carpet to the other. By golly, I bet this is an exercise in teamwork. Nope. I'm wrong. After about half the class (minus me, I'm a cripple ya know) had negotiated their way across the magic carpet, the damn carpet started beeping again, No fair! Ken and Barbie had changed the sequence. I get it. This is an exercise in reacting to changing markets, What a neat exercise! Believe me. I'm not making any of this up.

Some more lecture. Can't remember a bit of it. No more fun exercises for me to watch. Time to go home for the day.

Day 2 started off with something involving building blocks on tables. At last! Something I can do. Don't remember what we were supposed to do. Can't remember what we were supposed to learn either. Somewhere during day 2 Ken and Barbie promised a cross pen and pencil set to whoever did something first. The winner got a cheap pen and pencil crossed and secured with a rubber band. Ha Ha! Good joke Barbie! (I just read something on the internet today about a Hooters waitress who won a beer serving contest and the award was a new Toyota. Ha Ha Just kidding. It was a Toy Yoda doll. Pretty funny. huh? She sued. She's getting a new Toyota. Hey Barbie, you owe someone a Cross pen and pencil set. I was gonna provide the link, but when I went looking for it Netscape died and when I tried to bring up Internet Explorer it got an 'illegal operation' and shut down. How the #### can IE get an Illegal Operation with Windows? It's part of the freakin' code. Reboot. Anyway, back to Green Hat School)

Day 2 almost over. Just one more exercise. It involved standing blindfolded doing something with a rope. Tying knots. Untying knots. Hell, I had a good view of the action as I was unable to participate. I'm a cripple ya know. I should remember what they were doing and what it was supposed to teach us, but I'm drawing a blank.

So in two days of an exciting class here's the summary. Out of the four exercises I was able to participate in one. They did give us all a green hat so the two days were not a total waste. I cornered Ken and Barbie after the class and told them that education should train by example. In other words, they should know their customers and be able to react to changing markets. I asked them what they would have done on the first day if they had walked in and everyone was in a wheelchair. Your market has changed, react to it. No answer. Blank stares.

There was no way this shit could happen today. Remember, back then, we only had Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. This was before the magic of Diversity. If this happened now I could contact the Ken and Barbie from the Diversity Awareness Class and sic 'em on the Ken and Barbie of Green Hat School. OK, you four pukes who have wasted a total of three days of my valuable time, I want you to duke it out, in a cage match at Wrestlemania. Calling the WWF.

But we're not done with the LFQP. Back where I actually work, we had to form four committees:

  1. A committee to come up with a Mission Statement (Can't have real quality without a Mission Statement)
  2. A committee to come up with a Vision (All God's chillen gotta have a Vision!)
  3. A committee to do something I can't remember
  4. A committee to do something else I can't remember.

These committees actually served a purpose. We had a Mission Statement that was plastered very conspicuously all over the building where I worked. We had a Vision Statement made into a poster that was framed and placed all over the building. But, and this is for real, the way they printed it it could only be read if you were within four feet of it. Obviously indicative of a very short sighted Vision. Talk about having troubles with the Vision thing.

Now I, and many of my coworkers, who had real work to do, weren't able to become members of these committees, but we were kept up to date with notes telling us who the members were and the progress of each of these committees. When the next round of layoffs occurred we discovered the real function of these committees. Most of the people who had time for these meetings found themselves laid off. I'm sure there's a moral here somewhere.

Anyway, TCIDNN, is fixin' to have another round of layoffs and we're supposed to start training on the NFQP. I think I'll wait until the last minute on that NFQP thing. Maybe they think that anyone who has time to work on the NFQP has too much time on their hands.

In the meantime, I'm sitting at my desk, blindfolded, tying knots in a rope. I'd like to do this while standing but I can't

I'm a cripple ya know.

Saturday, May 11

Happy Mother's Day

Have you ever looked at an old person and imagined what that person was like as a child? With some people it is inconceivable that they were ever children. With my mother, you could easily tell what she was like as a child, because she never lost her childlike love of parades, circuses, parties, and holidays.

I have a picture of my mother sitting on her mother's lap. She looks to be around three years old. As a child she was blond and had rosy cheeks and a sunny disposition. So, she was nicknamed Peachy. To the day she died, everyone in the family called her Peachy.

She was the youngest of three children and the most adventuresome. I always thought my Aunt Ginny and my Uncle Robert were exceptionally dull. Not so my mother.

She was a Girl Scout. I don't know if my aunt was, but I doubt it. There is no way I could ever picture her camping in the woods. When Amelia Ehrhart made a stop in St. Louis, Mom was the Girl Scout selected to present her with a bouquet of flowers.

High school cheerleaders used to be all male. The first year that Roosevelt High School, in St. Louis, had female cheerleaders, my mother was one of them. She showed me the article in the newspaper she had saved.

She had a friend, Janie, who loved to travel as much as Mom did. When they were around twenty years old, since this was the Depression and they had no money, they hitchhiked from St. Louis to the Grand Canyon. These were two young girls. No way they could do this today. They hiked to the bottom of the Canyon and spent Christmas with the CCC workers building Phantom Ranch. Think they had a good time? They were the only two girls there. Mom and Janie also thumbed their way down to Georgia. My sister has two little notebooks that my mother used to record expenses on these trips.

My mother met my father when she and a friend were canoeing on the Meramec River in Missouri. My father was canoeing with one of his friends. He got her number and the rest is history. They got married in 1939. Since my father worked for the railroad he got free travel privileges (like airline employees do today), and they went west for their honeymoon. I have a movie they took going through the Rockies.

My sister was born in 1942. My father went off to war, and when he returned in 1946, they had me.

In 1952, my father had a bad accident at work and sued the railroad company. He won. As a result, he lost his job. He used the settlement money to buy a new car and a bunch of camping equipment. This was before RV's. Everyone used tents or, if they had money, they bought trailers. They were nothing like the trailers of today. In the summer of 1953, we took off for five weeks and hit every state east of the Mississippi and two states west of the Mississippi. We also went as far north as Quebec City in Canada. Even though it was summer it was still cold at night in New England and Canada. I don't know how she did it but she managed to pack all the clothes we needed for the different climates we experienced.

We never had much money, but since both my parents liked to travel and liked to camp, almost every summer we would take off for two weeks and see the country. My dad drove, my sister navigated, and my mother thought of games to keep us occupied. I had been in 47 states by the time I was sixteen years old.

My mother always wanted to go to places outside of the country. My father, having spent WW II in Europe, had no desire to go back. After my sister moved to California, and I joined the Navy, she started her overseas trips. Still loving adventurous things, she went rafting on the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon when she was in her sixties. When she retired, she, my sister, and my sister's husband hiked the Grand Canyon. Here was this little, sixtyfive year old woman with a backpack hiking the Canyon. At the end of the trip, when she reached the top, there were a bunch of hikers at the top who applauded.

But she wasn't finished. Two days later all of us went sailing in the Virgin Islands. It was a bareboat charter which means we sailed it ourselves. She went on three more sailing trips with us: Greece, the Grenadines, and the Florida Keys.

Fourteen years ago I had a freak accident and broke my back which left me partially paralyzed from the waist down. I had been to Europe a few times with my mother and now in my condition would be unable to travel. Wanna bet? After I had gotten out of a wheelchair and could walk with braces and crutches she suggested we go to England. It was a short flight and since there were a lot of old people on these tours I would be able to keep up. Previously, I had always taken care of the luggage. Now this little old lady in her seventies had to do it. My mother got me to Spain, Russia, Germany, Turkey, and Egypt. Europe, and especially places like Egypt and Turkey, are not very cripple friendly, but, with my mother's assistance, I made it.

She hated to sit around with nothing to do. Before my accident, on a trip to Italy, we had a free day and, since Venice was not in our itinerary, we took a night train from Rome to Venice, spent the day sightseeing, and took an evening train back to Rome. When in Turkey, we had a free day and she talked the tour guide into setting up a day trip to Troy. Travelling with my mother was always an adventure.

My father was an alcoholic and would lose jobs so my mother had to work. My sister and I also had to work. She had babysitting jobs and I did yard work and worked in the school cafeteria. My mother really knew how to stretch a dollar. My mother taught us self reliance and the fact that actions had consequences. My sister, being smarter, did well in school and won a four year scholarship to college. I flunked out of junior college. My mother welcomed me to the real world and told me I would now have to start paying room and board so I better get a job. This was the 60's. I was 1A, so I joined the Navy to learn electronics and stay out of Viet Nam. One out of two is not too bad. I learned electronics, but both of the ships I served on went to Viet Nam. I went back to college after the Navy, but burned out in my junior year, quit, and got a job with TCIDNN (The Company I Dare Not Name). I moved to Atlanta seventeen years ago to be a technical instructor with TCIDNN. My mother never tired of telling her friends that her college dropout son was now a teacher

My mother had an ulcer and had surgery to remove part of her stomach. She had had two heart attacks. She had had a tumor removed from one of her breasts and took chemo for that. I remember she was talking to my friend Cindy after the tumor was removed and told Cindy she was not going on chemo because her cousin Rosemary had gotten very sick when she was on chemo. When Cindy asked what medication she was taking and she told her Cindy didn't tell her that that was chemo.

In her eighties, she developed macular degeneration. She could no longer drive at night and was worried that she might soon not be able to drive at all. This not only affected her, but all the other little old ladies she had to ferry around. The last time I saw her, she was blind in one eye.

My mother was the most active person I have ever met. She took aerobics, did line dancing and went on lots of one and two day trips with various organizations. We were at a night club in Egypt and the band started playing the macerena. Up jumped my mother to do the macerena! My sister and I had to buy her an answering machine since she was never at home and her friends could never get in touch with her

We talked once a week. We alternated calling. It used to be on a Saturday, but we had to change, because she couldn't fit me in her schedule on a Saturday. We changed to Sunday morning. She only forgot to call once. So, one Sunday, when she didn't call, and she didn't answer when I called, I feared the worst. I had her cousins go to her condo and check and they found her dead. She had gone to a movie with friends on Saturday and returned home and died that night. She had dreaded going into a nursing or assisted living home so I'm glad that she was active to the very end. When my sister and I went to St. Louis to take care of affairs we found literature about activities for the blind. We also noted that her calendar was full of events for the next three months. Somehow I never thought that she would be able to ever fit dying into her busy schedule. She lived to be eighty five years old.

She died three years ago. Every Mother's Day I regret that I never told her how much I loved her and what a wonderful mother she was. She was one hell of a mom.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom, where ever you are!

Thursday, May 9

Odds and Ends

Having finished off a bottle of Cotes du Rhone (le Clos du Caillou 2000..only $10.99 great buy) I'm half in the bag and feel real lazy, so, I'm gonna let others do most of my work tonight. That is the beauty of being a blogger: linking to other bloggers and making comments.

Our first stop is Midwest Conservative Journal. I really like this site. I happen to be from St. Louis and I grew up in Webster Groves which Christopher Johnson has mentioned a few times. I also like the way he deconstructs articles and editorials. It is akin to what I do to Molly Ivins. Molly is easy and I hope to graduate to more tougher stuff. Anyway, I know Pat Buchanan is a rabid antisemite (is that two words and is Semite capitalized? And one more thing. Arabs happen to be of the Semitic race, so how can they be antisemites? Just checking) but just when did Joe Sobran cross over to the dark side? I mentioned earlier this week that I had attended a memorial service for my friend Cindy's grandmother and I was a little bit miffed at a passage in the gospel reading about 'that is why the Jews wanted to kill Jesus'. OK Listen up. The Romans killed Jesus. I mean it has been 2000 years and some people still don't have this straight.

Scroll on down and read how he takes apart a Post Dispatch editorial. On the editorial page of the Post Dispatch they have a quote by Joseph Pulitzer about all the good things that newspapers are supposed to do and then the Post Dispatch violates them all. Way to go Christopher!

Another interesting site is rantburg. I like the way this guy thinks. An example:

Article:

    Damascus Palestinians holler about Yasser's 'disgraceful concession' Radical Palestinians demonstrated against Chairman Yasser Arafat's leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Damascus today, calling his deal to end the standoff in Ramallah a "disgraceful concession" to Israel and the United States. About 60 members of 10 Damascus-based Palestinian groups staged a sit-in outside the offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in downtown Damascus. Comment: Doesn't seem like a real good turnout. Was there a lot of screaming and shootin' guns in the air? Anybody explode?

Another must see site is USS Clueless.

So Iraq is holding a referendum. I wonder if that is like the Palestinian election that Jimmy Carter certified? In an op-ed written for the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation, Jimmy Carter said that Yassir (Yassir Yassir he's our terrorist...how many different spellings of his name are there?) Arafat was the 'duly elected' head of the Palestinian people. Jimmy, stick to building houses, please. Oh, and Jimmy's going to Cuba to kiss Castro's ass and Clinton is going to East Timor. Quick! Close the borders!

Anyway, I got a copy of the ballot used in the elections

  • Vote for Saddam (or Arafat if the Palestinian election)
  • Be shot

My type of election

And the Rolling Stones are going on tour. Denbeste makes a joke about Brian Jones (who is dead by the way) joining them. Is Keith Richards still alive? Sure doesn't look it.

And with that, I'm off to look at other sites

Wednesday, May 8

Coming Soon, The Bill Show

I heard from my sister today that she had expected something funny from me yesterday, or at least what passes for humor in our family, and was disapppointed in my rant. Well, after all, look to the left. Doesn't it say 'A Grouchy Old Cripple rants from Atlanta GA'? Well, that was a rant. I realize I have a long way to go to catch up to the more erudite Bloggers, but, jeez, I'm still learning here.

I really wanted to write something funny about ol' Sleazy Bubba and his potential opportunity to be on TV, but those damn Palestinians had to go set back the cause of peace another few months. And what's up with no one wanting to accept the 13 Palestinians in the Church of the Nativity? What's wrong with all the other Arab nations who are so concerned about the Palestinians? What about the Europeans? You would think that with all the concern Norway has expressed for the Palestinian cause they would be thrilled to host 13 Palestinian 'freedom fighters'.

Sleazy Bubba is leaving the country, so our women should be safe while he is gone. He wanted to go to the Middle East to see if he could make matters worse. Hey Bill, I think Arafat may finally be toast. But just as Clinton is the comeback kid, Arafat is the comeback terrorist. Why is that bastard still relavent? So Clinton is off to Timor or some insignifant place like that. Now, if we could just get him to take Jimmy Carter with him.

But let's talk about our boy Bill as a talkshow host. Peggy Noonan thinks that it will never happen because Bill is too lazy and Hillary would not let him do it. She's right about the lazy part.

We know he would never be able to take Bryant Gumbel's place on the CBS morning show, because even though Billy boy may be able to get up at 4:00 AM, we know he couldn't get out of bed at 4:00 AM.

Now as to Hillary not letting him do it. Peggy, I beg to differ. Has Bill ever let Hillary stop him from doing what he wants? I guess what she could do is get him a bunch of young interns and he would be too busy to think about being on TV. But, I think being the center of attention is more important to him than sex. Plus, just as she had to be the brave little wife everytime he got into trouble, she will depend on him for his incredible fund raising powers. And one more thing, the worse Bill looks, the more victimized Hillary looks. And the more victimized Hillay looks, the better her approval ratings. That, and the stupidity of New York voters got her elected to the Senate.

The Clintons:

  • Bill...The first Black President
  • Hillary...The first Victim President

Diversity in action.

Jonah Goldberg nails it. I agree with what he says. But Bubba would combine all the worst traits of Phil Donahue (intense liberalism), Oprah Winfrey (Bill is fat after all), Geraldo Rivera (which one is sleazier?), and Jerry Springer (can you get any trashier than Jerry Springer? Bill can). And Bill would fell right at home. Remember what Carville said about Paula Jones? "Wave a ten dollar bill through a trailer park and who knows what you'll find?" I do. Sleazy Bubba would be outrunning Paula in pursuit of that ten bucks.

So I really would like to see the Bill Show.

    The Bill Show. Where the host is trashier than the guests.

It would be a perfect fit.

Tuesday, May 7

Arafat Delenda Est

Awright, who had today in the bomb pool? In my last post, I suggested we have a pool as to when the next bombing would occur. Looks like whoever had today won. I wanted to write something funny about Sleazy Bubba being the next Jerry Springer, but those goddamn pissant Palestinians had to go do it again .

I'm a computer programmer by trade and, as such, I believe in logic. That also means I believe in cause and effect. Unlike Molly Ivins, who didn't believe the Israeli incursion into the West Bank did any good let's look at the results: Israeli offensive..one bombing. Israeli pullback...one bombing, more to come. Wanna have another pool? I'll take day after tomorrow

I don't know about you, but I'm getting real tired of these Arab bastards jerking our chain. If I had written Dubya's speech after 9/11 this is what I would have written:

    My fellow Americans. First to the Palestinians dancing and celebrating in the streets, forget your Palestinian state. Ain't gonna happen. Not now. Not ever. You are animals.

    Now on to our Muslim friends. You have one week to give us bin Laden. If not, we start targeting cities. We start with Kabul. We do one city a week after that. The cities will include Damascus, Bagdad, Tehran, Medina, and Mecca. We didn't ask for this war. We did not start this war. But, by God, we will finish it! Thank you America. God Bless. Good night.

We have been trying to deal with this fat fucker Arafat for over 30 years. He does not want peace. He wants the elimination of Israel. Hello! Has anyone been paying attention? The PLO, as part of the Oslo agreement, was supposed to change their charter. It called for the destruction of Israel. Guess what? It still does. Does anyone notice that?

I used to be for a Palestinian state. No longer. Ol' Sleazy Bubba wants us to put US troops in to enforce a 'peace'. Listen, you sleazy, bastard, draft dodger, I don't want one single American soldier put in harm's way so those pissant Palestinians can send a homicide bomber into their midst. We saved Arafat's fat ass in Lebanon in 1983 and what happened? Those ungrateful bastards blew up over 200 marines at their baracks in Lebanon. Pissed? You bet your ass I'm pissed!

And you Euroweenies who are so pro Palestinian, how about putting your troops between the Israelis and Palestinians? I know, let's make the force consist of French and Norwegians. So you Norwegian dimwits who would like to take the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize back from Shimon Peres, let's see how you feel when Arafat stabs you in the back and sends suicide bombers into your midst and kills your sorry asses.

Oh boy! Got a joke. The French and Norwegians were playing football. Near the end of the game a train went by and blew its whistle. The French, thinking the game was over, ran off the field. Two plays later, the Norwegians scored.

What's with the Norwegians? They did add a word to the language. That word was quisling. Hey Ole, y'all proud of that contribution? Yeah. You bet I'm pissed!

Colin (Neville (peace in our time) Chamberlain)Powell keeps talking about peace. Listen closely Colin, There will be no peace as long as Arafat is the Palestinian leader. Arafat is a terrorist. Arafat does not want peace. Arafat wants the total destruction of Israel. Can I make myself any clearer?

Did anyone see the interview with Arafat on MSNBC tonight? He's losing it. His lower lip was trembling something fierce. I was waiting for him to start foaming at the mouth. Take his sorry ass off somewhere and shoot him. I'm sorry. We're the most powerful nation in the history of this planet and we're taking shit from that sorry fuck? I am sick of it!

Also saw O'Reilly tonight and he had that dumb bald Palestinian dipshit on and he finally (finally!!!) told him to answer the fucking question! Did I say that I'm pissed? O'Reilly Mr. Dumb, Bald, Booger eatin' Moh-ron, Palestinian, do you think that the latest bombing means that Hamas is against any peace with Israel? Dumb, Bald, Booger eatin' Moh-ron, Palestinian This is all the fault of the Israelis....O'Reilly Answer the fucking question you stupid dipshit! That's not what he actually said, but it was what he meant. And then the Dumb, Bald, Booger eatin' Moh-ron took offense at ORreilly calling him stupid. Why shouldn't he call you stupid? After all, you expect us to believe that bullshit you keep shovelling night after night. Pissed? You bet I'm pissed!

And what's up with this crap about exiling Palestinians to Italy? Duh. Hey Abdul, let's hop a plane to Egypt and smuggle ourselves into Gaza. Whose bright idea is this?

I've got three solutions for this Palestinian state thing. Put 'em all in Gaza and build a big ol' fence around it. Or herd them into the Sinai. Hey Egypt, they're your problem now. Or, herd them into Saudi Arabia. Hey Abdullah! Got a present for you.

But whatever we do, let's take Arafat off somewhere, shoot his sorry ass, wrap him up in that tablecloth he wears on his head and throw him into the dustbin of history.

I'm sick of him!

Arafat delenda est!

Monday, May 6

The Church is Still Standing

I'd like to write something cynical about Arafat now being on quadruple secret probation, and this time, for sure he will be a 'partner for peace'. Yeah and I got a bridge to sell you. Do you want to start a pool on when the next bomb will explode? But others in the blogosphere have done such a good job(find your own links there are lots of 'em today), I thought I would write something mushy.

My friend Cindy's 96 year old grandmother died last week and today was the memorial service. I am so glad it wasn't a funeral. I hate funerals. I hate it when the body is laid out. When that happens, somebody eventually drags me up to see the body and says one of the following:

  1. Doesn't he/she look good? No, godammit, he/she looks dead!
  2. Desn't he/she look like himself/herself? Yeah, if he/she always looked dead when he/she was alive.

So we've established that I hate funerals. Memorial services are OK. That's all we had for my mother when she died and that is what I attended today.

Anyway, funerals and memorial services are really for the living and not the dead. At my mother's service, my sister and I saw all the people she touched during her life. We were also lucky that my mother was able to stay active until the end. Mom went like she wanted to: no nursing home or assisted living home. She came home from seeing a movie with friends and died that night. That's how I want to go.

The service was this morning and it was held at a Byzantine Catholic Church. As far as I can figger, Byzantine Catholic is a cross between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic. I am an atheist and only enter churches for weddings and funerals. Well, that's not entirely true. I have gone on tours with a Catholic tour group (their tours are reasonably priced and I skip all the masses), and I call their tours the ABC (another bloody church) tours. I warn all friends that lightning may strike the church when I enter. So far that has not happened.

The turnout was small. At 96, she had outlived all her contemporaries. She had one daughter and that daughter had two daughters. Only Cindy of the two daughters had married and she only had one daughter herself. It was only the family and a few friends of the family at the memorial service.

I used to go to St. Louis every year to spend Thanksgiving with my mother, but, since she died, I have had Thanksgiving dinner with Cindy's family. Her parents would bring her grandmother from the nursing home. The first Thanksgiving, I was sitting quietly in a chair drinking champaigne. Cindy's grandmother, very quietly, called Cindy over to where she was sitting in her wheelchair and asked her if I was a real person. I saw her three more times after that, and, since her memory was going, I was introduced to her every time. And, every time, she was very glad to meet me.

It was a very nice service, even for an unbeliever like myself. She had been a member of the church for many years, so the priest knew her. He told some amusing anecdotes about her and what a wonderful sense of humor she had. He also said she had a childlike curiosity. It's funny, that even though I had only met her four times, and she was only a shadow of herself, I was able to think back and see some of what the priest saw. I wish I had known her when she was younger.

Her son-in-law, Cindy's father loved her and she loved him. Often times people would think that she was Cindy's father's mother which would really piss Cindy's mother off.

As I was leaving the church to go to work, Cindy walked me out to my car and told me her grandmother was probably looking down from heaven and still wondering if I were a real person.

She's gone. It was a nice service. We said goodbye. And the church is still standing.

Thursday, May 2

At Home Sick

I'm home sick today, so in the spirit of my mother who said, "if you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to go out to play after school lets out", I guess that means I can't do a long blog. I really don't have to as the idol of all bloggers, Lileks says it better than I could ever say it.

I only have one thing to add. Here's how to deal with that scumbag Arafat. Sharon needs to offer him the deal he turned down right before the last intifada started. If he turns it down, make him an offer he can't refuse. Cut the offer in half, and turn up with the Israeli version of Luca Brazzi and tell Arafat either his brains or his signature would be on that peace deal. Arafat says he wants to be a martyr. OK Bucko, here's your big chance.

Here's a thought. Where are these 72 virgins coming from? I mean, there can't be an infinite supply can there? A caller to talk radio came up with an interesting concept. What if there is a finite supply? That means there would have to be some sharing going on. Sorry Ahmed, she ain't a virgin anymore. You shoulda got here sooner. Oh boy! Sloppy seconds. Cosmic justice.

And with that total lack of taste (I am a grouchy, old cripple after all and politically incorrect to boot), I'm oughta here!

Wednesday, May 1

SHTS and SPTS

I really don't feel like commenting on anything in the news or in the local paper. And the stuff in the Urinal and Constipation is so rich for ridicule today.

For example, there is a column about hate crimes. I'll tell you I am really sick of that crap!. If I kill you because I hate you are you any more dead than if I didn't hate you? Or, if I'm sentenced to death for murder can you make me any deader if it were a hate crime? Look, crime is crime. I really don't want to talk about how ridiculous the concept of hate crimes is.

Another booger eatin' moh-ron had to weigh in in a letter about how Jimmy Carter was a better President than Ronald Reagon because Iran-Contra was the worst stain on the Presidency in history. I really think that was a very poor choice of words, because the only stain I think about in regards to the Presidency involves a blue dress.

So the paper, today, is a target rich environment, but I'm just not in the mood. Even making fun of Molly Ivins doesn't appeal to me. So I guess I'll just have to talk about SHTS and SPTS

.
    Everybody says you shouldn't be judgmental, but how can you help it when life is filled with so many idiots? The Rat in the comic strip Pearls Before Swine.

And that is a great lead in to SHTS and SPTS. What the heck are those things you may ask? First let's talk a little about how bureaucracies work.

The first order of a bureaucracy is survival. The second order of a bureaucracy is growth. You can try to trim back a bureaucracy, but it will always grow back, often stronger than before. And, when organizations cannot figure out a bureaucracy, they create another bureaucracy to try to manage the first one. And that brings me to SHTS.

The company I work for, which shall remain nameless, does not seem to know where the money is going and how much certain functions cost. This is a fine example of a bureaucracy at work and it is functioning normally. So the solution was to create a tracking system that would track everything (and I mean everything) that an employee does. I shall call this the Stupid Hourly Tracking System (not the real name) or SHTS for short. SHTS is an elaborate system of codes (lots of codes) and subcodes (lots of subcodes). We were given a one hour training session via a conference call and a printed presentation which was unreadable. Oh, and we had to start keeping track of our time four weeks before the system was available. So we had spreadsheets with codes and subcodes that were incomprehensible to us.

Wait, it gets better. Three months before my organization was supposed to start using SHTS, the only person who knew anything about the administration of SHTS got laid off (surplussed in company speak). Someone with a bad case of clue deficiency syndrome suddenly realized that we couldn't administer SHTS without this person, so she was hired back as a contractor. Talk about management not knowing SHTS!

So comes the day when we have to start entering our time in SHTS. At a meeting, I asked my manager for some clarification on how to do some coding. Have you ever had a manager answer a question and say absolutely nothing? Words came out, but they must have been managerspeak (the language that managers use to communicate with each other so us peons cannot understand them) cause, in the words of Arlo Guthrie, "He talked for forty five minutes and I didn't understand a word he said".

Codes. Did I mention codes. There is a code for almost everything. I haven't found one for going to the bathroom yet, but maybe there is:

      Codes
    1. GOTOBHRM - Bathroom
          Subcodes
          • AAAA - go pee pee
          • AAAB - go poo poo
          • AAAC - comb hair
          • AAAD - wash hands
          • AAAE - touch up makeup
          • BBBB - other

Now my manager is gung ho about everything that comes down from the mountaintop of upper management. And what starts as a tiny little turd at the top is a mountain of bullshit by the time it reaches us bottom feeders. Everyone has to have all their SHTS coding done by 8:00 PM on Friday. We have to have ours in by noon on Friday, thus guessing what we'll be doing from noon on. We have two people who come in at noon so I guess they call the psychic hotline to decide what they're gonna do the rest of the day. I can just picture our general manager eagerly waiting until 8:00 PM Friday to pull the reports and see what everyone has been doing

Who thinks this stuff up? What kind of drugs are they on? Can't you just imagine a bunch of managers at a meeting passing around a pipe and one of them jumps up and says "Here's a great idea. Let's do some SHTS!"

A few weeks ago my manager forwarded an urgent note from the SHTS Administrator to not precode our SHTS. As a good worker bee I asked my manager how this related to his rules. He repeated his rules. Have you ever tried to nail jello to a wall? Oh, and periodically, the project manager comes to us and says we have to go back and change certain codes. I guess they're not getting the numbers they want.

One of my coworkers pointed out to me that SHTS is the perfect bureaucratic tool:

    1. It has a built in wait time
    2. It provides all the indecision and aggravation of real work without having to be productive
    3. It provides a sense of accomplishment when you see how that row of little checkmarks extends each week
    4. You can do it over and over and over again without appreciably learning anything.
And they're basing business decisions on this.

It just couldn't get any better, except for SPTS which is SHTS existential opposite that completes the duality. SPTS is our Stupid Problem Tracking System. We used to have a mainframe based problem tracking system, but that is now passe. Leaving out the fact that the system worked, was reliable and stable, and could also be used for change management, it was a green screen system. Can't have that can we? So, in our ultimate wisdom, we wrote our own. Just one thing wrong. Shortly after going into production, the guy who wrote the application quit. No one else knew anything about it. And to make things even better, I was at a meeting where one of the project managers told us we were gonna move change management to SPTS. I turned to the person sitting next to me and mumbled 'We're doomed!'

So, I do have a wonderful time at work trying to keep my SHTS together. And it is coming up on the highpoint of the year: our annual diversity training. I do love my job!