Hit Coffee is the story of Will Truman (trumwill),
transplant in the mountain west with an IT background who bides his time
substitute teaching while his wife brings home the bacon.
This site is a collection of reflections
on the goings-on in his life and in the world around him. You will probably
be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the
third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.
Greetings from Callie, Arapaho, a red town in a red state known for growing
red meat. And from Redstone, Arapaho(Aw-RAH-pah-hoe), a blue city with blue collar roots that's been feeling blue
for quite some time.
Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though
if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character
and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.
This website is maintained by Guy Webster (web),
who also contributes from time to time.
Web hails from the midwest and currently lives
in Truman's home city of Colosse, Delosa. He works as a utility IT person at
Southern Tech University, their alma mater.
Also contributing is Sheila Tone (stone) a West Coaster, breeder, and lawyer
who has probably hooked up with some loser just like you and sees through
your whole pathetic little act.
“A thousand dollar car, it ain’t worth nuthin’
A thousand dollar car, it ain’t worth shit
Might as well take your thousand dollars
and set fire to it
If a thousand dollar car was ever worth a damn
then why would anybody ever spend ten grand?”
I was reading about Jeff Jarvis’s problems with Dell today and it reminded me of something that everyone should know:
When it comes to computers, you get what you pay for. Some brands cost more than others. There are reasons for this. And I can guarantee you, it’s not because some companies just upped and decided to charge you more money to increase their bottom line.
As the computer market has become more competitive, prices have dropped. This has come at the expense of parts. Brand names once known for their quality (Gateway) sold their brand name for a cheaper box. Others, like Dell, have become customer support nightmares.
There are good brands out there. Macintosh computers cost more, for instance, but you’re getting integrated parts that are less likely to conflict with one another or the operating system. IBM, my personal favorite, costs about 33% more on average, but you’re getting a computer that is much less likely to break down. You’ll also get great customer service with both.
But you have to pay more for it. Most people are unwilling to do that. They look at the sticker price and leave it at that. Then they complain when the tech support person is an Indian or they get no support (I’m not speaking of Jeff Jarvis here, he purchased the warranty plan and he is entitled to it. He’s been wronged).
If I were to give you one piece of advice, it’s this: Decide what you need and then get the best you can meeting that criteria. Don’t try to get as much as you can for as little as you can spend (which, I know, is the hallmark of capitalism). Sacrifice processor speed, get more RAM. Customize your own. Don’t take what they have stocked.
Because computer companies have no financial interest in you being a satisfied customer. On the contrary. The dirty little secret of the computer industry is that most people can do what they need to do on a processor built over five years ago. But most people bought a crappy computer that didn’t have enough RAM and was loaded down with software packages they didn’t need. But those were the “deals.”
And people take for granted that you have to keep buying new computers. So in return for shortchanging you on RAM and video memory, they are rewarded with another computer being purchased sooner rather than later. They’re rewarded for cutting corners.
So before you decide to save some money, just remember that you’re not getting what you’re not paying for. If you’re not getting the warranty plan, you’re not getting customer service. If you’re not paying for a quality brand, you’re not getting a quality product.
Remember this next time you see a computer for $400 in the Sunday advertisements. Don’t buy a computer cause it’s cheap. By a computer cause you need one. Then buy the computer you need.
Nothing kills a good mood like a corpse taking over where a living person left off. Especially when the person was one of Clancy’s patients and they were not supposed to die.
But enough of the dead, for the time being, and on to the living.
Clancy has something of a barbed tongue. She also has a suffer-no-fools attitude when it comes to work. If someone is drugseeking or paving their own quick route to the afterlife, she is pretty quick to say so. Not to the patient, of course, but to herself or a nearby sympathetic ear. She is a genuinely compassionate person and a great doctor, but we all have our limits and working in a low-cost clinic subsidized by the state puts her face-to-face with a lot of very unfortunate people.
Not too long ago, two cop shows that I was watching broached the subject of police calousness. In each case, the officer made a somewhat crude remark about the victim in earshot of the victim’s loved ones. Tempers flared and the victim’s loved one demanded that the officer be taken off the case. In the case of the more serious police drama, the loved one was pulled aside and told, as clearly as possible, that it’s not the officer’s job to grieve. Every homicide cop grieves their first victim. By the fortieth it’s not so big a deal anymore. And that’s a good thing because it allows the officer to focus on the task at hand. And the callousness is a defense mechanism that allows then to distance themselves from the situation and approach it more objectively.
Clancy deals with a lot of drain-circlers. People that are, as mentioned above, paving their own road to death. Drug users, alcoholics, and people just off-kilter enough in the head to not be able to take care of themselves but not off enough for the state to intervene. People that can’t seem to take care of themselves or steadfastly refuse to. Seeing those kinds of people come in and out of your office unvariably takes a toll. But she has to pick the ones that she gets emotionally invested in. The lost causes are given the best medical advice she can offer and then ignore it, for the most part.
The deceased was not one of Clancy’s better patients. Less “Oh, no, what’s wrong,” and more “Oh brother, what is it now?”
But the defenses come crumbling down. Part of it is self-recrimination (”What did I miss?”), but most of it is being human and having seem someone a few weeks ago alive and knowing that they are no longer so. And the guilt of your last thought when you last saw him a negative one. And again, just being human.
As helpful as it is to provide emotional distance with self-destructive patience, it’s also important to mourn their passing. Even when - and maybe especially if - no one else notices or cares. As she struggles to regain her composure today, some day down the line she may struggle to be as affected as she now is just so that she can remember that she’s human.
We are all anxiously awaiting the results of the election. They should have come in weeks ago, but they haven’t. The frustrating thing is that we may never know what the results are. But on the other hand if they don’t release the results it likely means that we won.
As the campaign continued, the signs got increasingly elaborate. The first simply said “For the love of Mountain Dew, Vote Pepsi” later replaced by “Don’t vote Coke, Dew vote Pepsi!” About the biggest thing we have going for us is that Coke doesn’t have a comparable Mountain Dew product. If they did, we likely wouldn’t even be campaigning.
Most of the developers have whiteboards (or markerboards, depending on your terminology) and most of those were populated with Coke or Pepsi. One coworker put up some Uncle Sam signs. They mysteriously started disappearing. One day Willard came up to me and casually asked if he could see my sign. I said “Sure.”
The sign was never seen alive again.
But that’s okay because it spawned our next campaign. It had the words “We Will NOT Be Deterred” with the Pepsi logo underneath.
The were torn down and replaced with a sign that said “I have been deterred” with the Coca-Cola logo.
The early returns (word of mouth) is that the Pepsi side is winning by a 2-to-1 margin. That was quite the cause of celebration until suddenly rumors started circulating that PepsiCo was anti-Mormon. The rumors were started by the CIO (Willard’s boss and my boss a couple times removed), who is firmly in the Coke camp. When asked to elaborate in email, he simply said that he would rather be guilty of slander than libel and wished us luck in our campaign.
Most of what I write takes place in the fictional state of Deseret. This post is somewhat unique in that it’s more of an outside look involving the real world. As such, for the sake of this post, state lines are drawn as they are in real life and unfictionalized.
Believe it or not, the Mormons have a temple in Las Vegas. A Mormon Temple is different from a church. They have churches everywhere, but temples are only built in places that have enough members to justify one, enough money to build one, and/or another reason. Las Vegas falls into the latter category. Basically enough Mormons wanted to get married in Vegas that they set up a temple almost especially for marriage. Despite the fact that there is already a temple in nearby St. George, Utah. Who says Mormons are not flexible? They built the temple on the east side of town. When Jesus returns, he is supposed to return to Jackson, Missouri, where they believe the Garden of Eden to have been. On the top of all of their temples they have a statue of Moroni, the angel that gave Joseph Smith the tablets. Moroni faces the way of Eden. So he’s on the east side of Las Vegas, facing away from Sin City and looking at Utah.
That’s quite appropriate, both in their disdain of sin and the special place that Utah holds in the faith.
The Salt Lake Tribune has an interesting series of articles on the declining population of Mormons in Utah. A quick word about the Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City in general. Salt Lake City has two halves and two newspapers. The oldest newspaper, Deseret Morning News, is actually run by the Church. For a church-run entity it is actually a decent news source, but it comes with its fair share of biases (as all newspapers do, my newspaper back home was so in the pocket of the Chamber of Commerce it was not even funny). The Salt Lake Tribune represents the other half of SLC. It bills itself as Utah’s “independent” newspaper. It doesn’t say “independent” of what, but it doesn’t really have to. Most of the writers for Deseret Morning News are presumably Mormon. Most of the writers for the Salt Lake Tribune are not. So when one reads negative news about the church in the Salt Lake Tribune, you have to consider that the writer probably took a little pleasure in writing the story and the intended audience is being served with news they will find comforting.
According to population estimates, Utah may no longer have an LDS majority by 2030. The article does, however, acknowledge that this is unlikely to change the state’s atmosphere. Regardless of the actual populations, Mormons tend to be more civic-minded and are extremely over-represented in the voting population. More than that, the institutions are all theirs. They run the Little League, they are on the school board, and so on. Frankly, it would likely take at least a generation of a non-LDS majority before real cultural changes started to be instituted. Needless to say, my wife and I will not be in or around Utah any time soon.
One of the ironies here is that Utah is a victim of its own success. Out-of-staters are moving here in large part due to opportunities. The Utah economy is doing really well. A lot of this is owed to Mormon industriousness. Some of it is due to a friendly business environment owed in part to Republican dominance that is based largely on conservative social issues. Besides jobs, the fact that Utah is such a family-friendly place helps attract conservative out-of-staters. The LDS connection there is more straightforward. The other thing that helps is the environment, which is bringing in all the “wrong” kind of people.
But places are apparently feeling quite a pinch. Inner-city wards are closing because families are sprawling in Utah just like they are elsewhere. On the other hand, while the LDS majority is being cut across the state, I’d be willing to bet that the largest cut is in Salt Lake City, which may not even be 50/50 anymore.
The original article alluded to another article about LDS families praying for other LDS families to move in. It also discussed that what may be necessary is an economic hit to get those not culturally devoted to Utah to move along. I’d be willing to bet that some people are even praying for that. The Mormon population spills heavily into eastern Idaho as well as in to Nevada (Nevada Senator Harry Reid is Mormon, in fact) and Arizona (most of the wacko fundamentalist Mormons are actually in Colorado City, Arizona) and Wyoming. The one state that has comparitively few is Colorado. There is little concern that Utah will ever turn in to heathen Nevada, but turning into a secular Colorado is quite a concern.
I suspect quite a few Mormons would take an economic hit to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
Ten years ago: I’m not sure I existed ten years ago. The person with my name, idenfification, and fingerprints was quite different. I was in between my freshman and sophomore years in college. I was dating Julie rather intently. It was this particular summer than an old flame that dramatically hung me out to dry came back with the intent of reconciling. But at that particular point I’d played a Jedi mind-trick on myself and didn’t think I had ever loved her or could have ever loved her again. I was wrong about that and if I could “undo” a dozen or so things from my life, how I treated her would be one of them. One other big thing a few months less than ten years ago: Pregnancy. Scare.
Five years ago: After being laid off, I was desperately looking for work. I was with Evangeline for the second of three stints, though this was towards the end of it. There was a strong sense of powerlessness in my life and my problems seemed to all feed back on itself. Evangeline was mad because I was unemployed, I was turning down job offers because the scheduling wouldn’t allow for things to get better with Evangeline and was also spending too much money on her. My relationship with my mother was also deteriorating at this point because of my financial problems and my relationship with Evangeline, of which she did not approve. Parental disapproval, of course, put more pressure on my relationship with Evangeline. It was a mess.
One year ago: Unfortunately, almost exactly where I am now. Almost exactly. Ugh. I need a drink.
Yesterday: Worked till 6:30, got home at 7:30, exercised till 8:30, went out to eat and got back at 9:30, went to bed at 10. In the process, spent some time reflecting how many of my days are spent this particular way.
Today: I’m trying to set it up so that both Clancy and I can have our computers on the Internet at the same time without spending an extra $10 a month.
Tomorrow: More of the same, depending on how things go. If they go well, I’ll do some Internet surfing. Since it’s a weekend, I won’t have to go to bed quite so early.
5 snacks I enjoy: I’m trying to get away from snacks, but I’m a sucker for peanut M&Ms, string cheese, turkey-pepparoni, offbrand dry cereal of the Lucky Charms variety, and those Take-5 candy bars.
5 bands that I know the lyrics of most of their songs: Eagles, Frank Black, They Might Be Giants, Son Volt, and Genesis.
5 things I would do with $100,000,000: This may be elaborate, but here we go. I’d figure out how much I needed to live on for the rest of my life. I’d double it in case of emergency and figure out how much I would need to put in the bank to live off the interest. If I have kids I would probably put aside a couple hundred thousand apiece, make sure that my parents retirement is taken care of (as well as Clancy’s, of course). There are some things I’m missing here. But once I get the money put aside for myself, my friends, and my loved ones, I would take the rest (which would almost certainly be a majority) and find some good causes for them. Charity is a funny thing because you don’t want to subsidize habits that keep the poor poor, but you do want to help them get a better life. But there are some charities that I think are undeniably worthy of funding. At the top of that list would be women’s shelters for abused women, alcohol and drug treatment programs for those that want it but cannot afford it, and college scholarship opportunities for gifted students that come from troubled homes. But for the most part, I wouldn’t want to be too wealthy and since I dispise conspicuous wealth, my outlets for it would be limited.
5 locations Iíd like to runaway to: Belize, Alaska, eastern Europe, Turkey, and Britain.
5 bad habits I have: My mind gets caught in negative feedback loops, I don’t sit still, I eat all the wrong foods, I smoke, and I drink way too much caffeine.
5 things I like doing: Reading, watching television and film, having intimate discussions (privately) in public places, going to the beach after dark, and watching people.
5 things I would never wear: Sandals, bow tie, nail polish, jewelry (except my prodigal wedding ring), emo glasses, empty beltloops, and a solitary moustache. That’s seven things, but I stole the first two from Barry. Woulda come up with sandals on my own, though.
5 TV shows I like: 24, Boy Meets World, The Shield, Frasier, and Law & Order
5 movies I like: Twelve Monkeys, Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Memento, Unbreakable, and Ghost World (I chose those in particular because I own them and I only own ten or so total, I’d wager)
5 famous people Iíd like to meet: Comic writer Alan Moore, Ben Folds, M. Night Shyamalan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton
5 biggest joys at the moment: Clancy, music, writing, reading, television
5 favorite toys: My computers, my exercise bike, my digital camera, my CD/MP3 player, and my wacky and thorough imagination.
5 people to tag: Until I get up a readership, I’ll avoid passing these along.
“It’s been about a year and I still love him, still think about him every day. Before you ask, no I haven’t told him that; I haven’t talked to him in a long time. I’m not planning to tell him either, don’t want to waste my time on it. I included him on the e-mails about the dogs because I thought that he deserved to know but never once heard anything from him. Oh well, such is life.”
She wrote me a little earlier in the week. Thankfully, she’s beyond the point of hoping for reconciliation. In fact she’s even moved on and started to date, though that’s another story. This story is about her desire to know after what he did to her, he still cares about her. Even that desire is fading. The dogs, one of them his, might have been dying and he did not even write back.
This story is about his stubborn, maddening, and admirable refusal to act like he does care. But just last week, out of the blue, he asked about her. A year or so ago she wrote every other day. Communication, he told her, was the issue that brought their relationship down. So, posthumously, she wrote him missive after missive. She gave him her thoughts about work, family, life, and most of all on the two of them. The last part was against my very stern advice, I feel obliged to point out. As time progressed, she wrote less. Then there was the spurt about the dogs, then nothing. He was getting worried; he was concerned; he was sorry.
But he also had no regrets. He was sorry, but he was sorry he did what he felt he had to do. He was sorry that things turned out the way that they did. But he was not sorry that he left her. He wasn’t even sorry that he couldn’t talk to her. He tried, but that just seemed to make things worse. Yes, he left her, but he didn’t want to hurt her anymore. If thinking that he never cared made things easier for her, he’d accept that. He said that I probably wouldn’t understand.
He always did forget that I would understand better than anyone else. Once upon a time, when she and he first started dating, he was the intermediary and I was the one that was sorry.
After a tense and heartwarming discussion with Clancy, we came to the conclusion that we should get a second clock. My lack of a clock has been well-documented on this site and it was finally decided that enough is enough. The conversation went something like this:
Clancy: My alarm clock isn’t waking me up in the morning anymore.
Me: I don’t know what your problem is. Whenever it goes off I have to go to the other room while you hit the snooze button for an hour.
Clancy: Yeah, but lately I don’t even have to hit the snooze button. I just sleep through it.
Me: Hmmm. Well we have the lights come on and the alarm go off. What more can we do for you?
Clancy: Get a louder alarm clock.
Me: Can I have your old one?
Of course, I haven’t been able to plug my new alarm clock in or anything silly like that. But it does make a good cell phone alarm holder until I can get a new extention cord.
Big Time Drama in the Adjoining Cubicle - I shall never complain about overly talkative coworkers again. Though, on the other hand, none of them are quite this interesting. Some Office Guy recounts the mutterings, screaming, and conversations of his coworker.
Morale in the Workplace - Unfortunately this one hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s a really thoughtful look at the work environment. Lots of stuff to chew on.
Work Hate - This one also seems dead, but there looks to be some amusing archives to wade through.
Addendum: While cruising through sites I inadvertently forgot one of the first sites I visited, Corporate Peon. If you’re using Firefox or Opera her site might not load right, but it’s one of the more frequently updated sites of the bunch and probably the one with the best name!
Most of us are given these really fancy-schmany chairs with more knobs and dials than a demolition crane. They got those so that they could salvage the luxurious leather conference chairs that were being pilfered as the company expanded faster than its seating capacity. They actually brought in ten models, asked us to try them, and then completely ignored our near-unanimous preference (thank God, I was a dissenter and I don’t know what they were thinking!) and gave us the demolition crane chairs instead.
And they are good chairs. At $200 a pop they’d better be, of course. Am I the only one that thinks that office chairs are insanely overpriced? Anyway, no complaints about the current chair.
But I noticed this chair in an empty cube and it reminded me of Eknath’s Chair.
Eknath was a coworker at Orion, where I used to work overnight performing backup procedures. Because he was only belatedly moved to the server room, they had to get a chair out of the dungeon. In this case, they got a hideous orange and yellow long rolling chair that was falling apart. In addition to its unimpressive demeanor and cohesion, it was the most comfortable chair on the face of the planet. Bar none.
Since no one was working the overnight with me, and since I was occasionally able to grab a nap in between backups and processes, I inevitably chose his chair. After Eknath read the tea leaves regarding our company’s future and left, I confiscated the chair full-time.
Eknath left because Orion was a computer reseller that had just sold off its computer division and its sales division to Providence, a company from the northeast. Providence needed someone to do my job as well. I suggested Hubert, my then-roommate who was desperately in need of employment. When Hubert got on I told thim that there was but one non-negotiable rule: I get Eknath’s Chair. I told him to not even sit in it when I wasn’t there.
He agreed and we were set.
I suppose there’s something about forbidden fruit or, in this case, a chair that you cannot sit in. It took him all of two days to break his pledge. I got to work a little bit late. He met me at the door and said, “We need to renegotiate Eknath’s Chair.”
“I told you not to sit it in.”
“I told you that you were never going to get that chair.”
“So why are you going back on your word.”
“Because I hadn’t sat in the chair. When I made that pledge… I didn’t know…”
I nodded. “I know.”
“So what are we going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
He ultimately got the chair for the duration of the training. It was only fair since he was going to be moving into Amherst’s headquarters anyway. After he left, he would periodically ask how Eknath’s Chair was doing.
When I left Orion, they actually offered to sell the chair to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have room for it. If I had a list of 105 things that I would do differently, passing up on that chair would probably be on that list.
The chair I’m sitting in right now isn’t nearly as hideous as Eknath’s. Nor is it as comfortable. But it’s long enough to rest my head and being over 6′3″ that’s not common. Not sure if I’m going to keep it or not. As comfortable as it is, it only manages to remind me of Eknath’s Chair. It’s sort of like dating someone that looks like The One That Got Away… a romance doomed from the start.
There’s an old saying about a boat at harbor: A boat is safe that never leaves harbor. But that’s not what boats were built for and they’ll eventually rot from the bottom besides.
I’ve been feeling a bit glum lately. Twice last week I turned down a job that I wanted and I’m about to turn down another one that’s better than the one I have now. If I’m even the selectee, which is by no means sure.
I hate saying it because it makes me sound like a spoiled brat, but I did not go to college for four years to end up making $9.50 an hour at a job where I am afforded the respect of a fry cook. And I look at the other jobs I’ve been offered and others that have turned me down and I can’t help but believe “I should be further along by now.” Why do I feel this way? Because I’m working with and competing against people that are significantly younger and significantly less less qualified.
There are a number of reasons that I have ended up here. Some, like living in Deseret, were made despite the damage it would do to my career. Others, like the IT implosion back home, I had no say in. But in my heart of hearts I know that’s not the whole story. A lot of it comes right down to motivation and the fact that I don’t have it.
It’s not necessarily that I have poor work ethic. Poor concentration, maybe, but not poor work ethic. But I definitely have difficulty sticking to what I do not enjoy. And I really have difficulty locking myself in to anything. And a certain attraction to the path of least resistance. And an affection for security.
Though I suppose at one point I did enjoy working on or with computers, I made the career choice I did for one big reason: it promised a stable career. One of the reasons I find myself competing with younger, less experienced people, is that they have a passion for computers that I don’t. The only area of computers that I have a passion for is information management (databases), an area that’s supposedly hot and lucrative but that I couldn’t find employment in to save my life.
I’ve been reading here and there and elsewhere on a sort of common theme: that one must enjoy one’s work.
Believe it or not, this is something of a novel concept to me. I have been taught from a very early age by a father that (for a while) very much did not like his work that one does not seek personal fulfillment in an occupation. It was nothing my father said. To the contrary, he very much told us to find something that we enjoy doing. But he taught me by example. For a while be was working on a project that made him miserable. But he never complained because it was, in his eyes, his duty to provide for us. It was a lesson I took closer to heart than he might have preferred.
In any case, the things that I enjoy doing are quite competitive fields and/or the pay is slight. When I was young I wanted to be a school teacher. Most kids do at one point or another in their lives, don’t they? And though I’d never written anything, I wanted to be a writer. It’s funny how I knew what I wanted to do better at 9 than I did at 18. But teaching doesn’t pay well and writing is insanely competitive.
And, as importantly as anything, both would have required a personal investment. Both would have required the risk of failure (a failure to provide or a failure to get published). Better to take the safe bet that requires the investment of one’s time but never one’s soul.
There’s an old saying about a boat at harbor: A boat is safe that never leaves harbor. But that’s not what boats were built for and they’ll eventually rot from the bottom besides.
One of the great things about FalStaff is that I have no personal loyalty to this company. I have no personal stake. If I screw up, it’s not my problem. I do my time and then I go home. But it’s amazing how the time accumulates. I stare into the void 10 hours a day, 50 hours a week. That’s a lot of lost time. And why? So that I could never fail. No one can fail here.
One of the jobs I turned down was at a national defense installation nearby. It’s the employer that everyone wants to work for. Good wages, great benefits. But because everyone wants to work there, they basically set up a race. They hire six people for three slots. The three that produce the best numbers stay on and the others are let go.
To accept that job would have required the risk of failure. From a purely rational standpoint, one in the hand is two in the bush and my decision was purely logical. But I wonder if it was really a rational decision at all. I think my chances of making the cut were pretty good. But since I turned it down I never have to find out, do I?
Instead I can and basically do nothing all day. I can decline to even pursue the next internal promotion because I may not get it and I may not get it through no fault of my own. From what I’ve gathered, the fix was pretty much in the last time around and most of us were never serious candidates. Seniority rules and all I have to do is bide time in the void for fifty hours a week.
And I think to myself that it didn’t have to be this way. Maybe I should have had more confidence to enter a more competitive field that I might have enjoyed. Or a more lucrative one that would have made the void a little more financially rewarding. But I think the latter might have been an extention of my original miscalculation: that I could be happy spending significant chunk of my waking hours doing something that I don’t enjoy.
When I was younger I had a very keen eye for how compatible I was with people. Within an hour or two I could not only discern how long a relationship might last, but what the issues would probably be to bring it down. In one sense I was almost always right, but in another I was almost always wrong. The issues I saw at the outset were quite legitimate. And I might have lasted longer in the relationship.
But the predicted length of the relationship was always cut short and the reason for the break-up was always the same: I couldn’t put myself into a relationship that I knew was going to fail.
It took me a little while to see the pattern. When I did, I also noticed that I was all but seeking out those relationships that I knew would fail. When the “indefinite” ladies would show up, I wouldn’t pursue it. I’d be so afraid messing up and failing that I would instead go for the girl standing next to her, with whom I would last no more than four months because she was too materialistic and hollow. But the assured failure ironically made it the safest choice because when it was over, I would know that it was doomed from the start.
I don’t believe I pursued IT because I knew that I wouldn’t like it. But I also knew that without any real dream of success, I couldn’t really fail.
And there’s this old saying about a boat at harbor…
Reports and Legal Documents is split between two different groups. The first group is OSI. OSI deals with the newer software that allows us to create a better product. It’s immensely less frustrating, it looks better on a resume, it takes less time to get more done, and our product is better in the end. And we get paid more. Our sister group, ANG, has a more frustrating job that isn’t as resume-friendly, takes more time to get less done, and has a goofier looking finished product to no fault of their own. OSI pays also pays more than ANG and has better opportunities for advancement.
In an amazing coincidence, our department (OSI) is completely male. Theirs (ANG) is almost completely female - the two supervisors are men.
When I first got here, it wasn’t so uniformly split. OSI was 90% male and ANG 90% female. My partner Simon’s girlfriend Paige worked in ANG and was the first to suggest that the company had a sexist tilt. She was upset because she hadn’t gotten the transfer (to a different division) she wanted, but once she said that I started looking a little bit closer and it became pretty hard to deny that I have a rather sexist employer.
From a sociological standpoint, it’s very interesting to have two different gender-specific groups doing similar tasks. Things are a lot more… dramatic… in ANG. They have at least one meeting a month to get whichever employees are feuding at any given time to calm down. At OSI, however, we all tend to get along (at least, since Teddy Forbes left). We don’t exactly all like one another, but no reason to rock the boat, y’know? Inversely, they all hang out together in their free time. We generally go our separate ways.
But sociological studies aside, this company is just asking for a lawsuit. I mean, really. But it’s a subject that no one really talks about. A while back I joked that Clem Hartford, who had just been hired to ANG, would be transfered over before Sandy Keller, who was told six months ago she would be transfered over to OSI after a month. Sure enough, it happened. When they were juggling applicants (you don’t apply for OSI or ANG but rather for RLD and are placed in one of the two upon being hired), the guys always got shifted to us and ladies to ANG. Except for a few of us that have noticed, the ladies just shrug and chalk it up to coincidence.
To be clear, I do not believe that FalStaff hates women. I would even venture to say that they do not even believe that men are more capable employees for the better jobs. I do believe that since OSI’s job is more technical they believe it’s better suited for males. But more than that, I think that that they look at men as the probably breadwinner of their household. When they see a female applicant, on the other hand, they see supplimental income. So in their own eyes they’re doing the right thing.
Doesn’t really work out that way, though. Most of the ANG ladies’ husbands work in the fields for less than they make here. Most of the OSI guys are unmarried and certainly have no children to support. To add further to it ANG requires more training and because it’s staffed by ladies, they have higher turnover due to pregnancy. But these sort of prejudices run deep, even when they’re not in the companies best interest.
I keep waiting for some day an ANG employer to just stand up and say “Wait a minute!”
On the row where my cubicle rests is one other guy and three girls. It is amazing to me how much the women talk about one another. If this were on a television show, there would probably be complaints about how stereotypical the women are portrayed. They’ve sort of formed a girls’ club. Simon and I, being guys, are conforming to the different stereotype. We talk about things generally not having to do with one another. Though he will bring up his girlfriend Paige and occasionally I will bring up Clancy, we’re more inclined to talk about politics, technology, or Deseretian culture.
The girls, meanwhile, will talk almost entirely about people. They’ll talk some about their husbands, but mostly it’s about each other. To put a finer point on it, mostly it’s about females that are not around. While they don’t spend all of their time “backstabbing” there is a fair amount of it that goes on. Someone from Legal Standards & Compliance will come over and ask/say something. They’ll start a conversation, and then when the other person leaves they will talk mercilessly about her. But they talk very kindly (fawningly, almost) about Mindy, my predecessor.
But what impresses me is how they just do not ever stop talking. They talk while they work and they take breaks and talk. I am saying nothing of their work ethic. They get as much done as Simon and I do. We just divide our goof-off time by talking and surfing the Internet. No such division for them.
Since I don’t know if anyone actually read my Carrying Catherine series from a while back, the long and short of it is that Catherine was a mentally troubled female coworker who had a tendency to go erratic and got up and quit for the fifth and last time one day. Since I know that she was 100% all-serious business, I can’t help but wonder if she quit because she couldn’t take the chatter.
Due to circumstances beyond my control and what was apparently an attempt to hijack my website and turn it into a linkfarm, approximately a bit under month’s worth of writing has been lost.
Addendum: Thank heavens for Google. It had actually archived enough of my website that I was able to recover every lost post except the most recent and one that I never actually posted. Unfortunately the comments are lost. So thank you for all those of you that have commented, even if they’ve gone into the great internet ethar.
I just got off the phone with one of my cousins in Carolina. I havenít spoken to him in a couple of years at my brotherís wedding. Before that it was actually longer. I had to ask him to repeat his name a couple of times before I recognized who it was.
He was extremely friendly and seemed to be trying to draw me into a friendly conversation. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out what he wanted. He wanted some help with a website. No problem there, Iím going to do some looking in to hosts for him. But unfortunately I feel that I was kind of short with him.
This also happens when one of my brothers calls. Itís not that I donít want to talk to them, itís that I havenít thought about what I want to say. I guess Iím sort of the kind of guy who has to prepare for daily conversation sometimes. I like to have a stock reply to such simple questions as ďHow have you been?Ē
ďI donít know, let me get back to you,Ē doesnít seem appropriate over the phone. Itís one of the reasons I excel in a chatroom environment. I get a good 90 second delay. I can pretend to be multitasking.
The conversation of alcohol came up at work the other day an I commented, to the disapproval of a few, about how much I appreciate it taking the edge off when I am in a situation with the capacity to be awkward. Say, for instance, a cousin gives me a call and pretends to be really interested in how Iím doing because he wants something. Thatís not to say that was the case with my cousin, but one canít know for sure.
A while back another conversation came up about rhetorical questions. ďHow are you doing?Ē while passing in the hall is not asked to elicit an answer. You donít want to be the one guy who traps someone just trying to be nice into a conversation. So you come up with stock replies. ďGreat!Ē when I remember, or ďPretty goodĒ when I forget that ďGreatĒ is a better answer. But it took my young self a while to get uncomfortable with half-incomplete conversations. ďHow are you?Ē ďGood, you?Ē ďGreat!Ē ďGood.ĒÖ how mundane. But necessary in order to keep things light and upbeat.
Youíve got to do the same with family. Particularly since Iíve moved out here, aunts and uncles and everyone wants to know how things have been for Clancy and I. Your time is limited, so you donít want to talk too much. God knows that I could bore someone to tears with the intricacies of my work environment or a comparative analysis of gas station prices between towns that I find utterly fascinating. No one cares! In most cases, unless something is seriously wrong, they donít care how Iím doing. They just want me to know that they care about me. Maybe that I can call them if I need to talk or work through a problem.
And Iíd do the same for them, of course. Family works that way. But the truth is that I havenít spoken to my cousin in almost two years. Iíve seen him once in the last five years or so. Iím not going to go to him if I have a problem because I donít really even know him. Nor him me. Our respective mothers arenít particularly close - and neither of us particularly close to our respective mothers - so itís unlikely weíll ever need to know each other really well.
Itís not that family doesnít matter to me. I enjoy time spent with my fatherís side and some with my motherís side as well (particularly since some torn relationships have mended). But when you stop seeing them on a regular basis, it turns in to something else. A few months back I spent some time with Clancyís family at an annual Easter retreat. They have a certain cohesion that my family lacks. The Trumans meet on a few holidays a year, but other obligations make it an incomplete set. And since I have come out here there is just less opportunity.
Itís the price I guess we pay for autonomy and mobility. My mother moved from one coast to the other to get away from her family, Clancy went a distance to get away from hers. I followed Clancy because getting out was more important to her than staying was to me. But everything comes at a cost, I guess, like stilted conversations on the phone after two years of not having spoken.
Once upon a time there was a man with three sons. His name was Gary and his sons were Jack, Ron, and Junior. When Gary’s wife died, her estate got tied up in a protracted struggle between Jack and Ron (Junior has problems and isn’t “all there” anymore). Jack and Ron had never really gotten along, but every time Jack gave Ron an inch, Jack would use that inch as a starting point for further negotiations. It became obvious that Ron was less interested in a fair distribution and more interested in… well… stuff. Fathers almost never want to come down in favor of one child over the other, which is generally a good policy except when kids are not behaving with equal amounts of honesty. Ron’s manipulative skills made the situation worse, and Ron was able to convince his father that he was the one trying to be fair. As the years passed, Ron increasingly became the good son and Jack the obstinate one.
One thing came to another and Gary made Ron moved the executorship of his will from Jack to Ron and that was the end of that. Jack washed his hands of the whole thing.
Then one day a very nasty and vicious hurricane headed for the area in which all of them live. Jack, as it turns out, was out of town when the hurricane hit. Ron drove to his father’s house and tried to get him to sign some documents. Gary refused, an argument ensued, and eventually Ron left a 98-year old infirm man in the path of an oncoming hurricane to head further inland.
The hurricane came and left devestation in its wake. Once the roads reopened, Jack immediately left the campground with a shotgun, food, and water in the front seat and drove to Gary’s house. When he arrived, Gary was alive and doing as well as could be expected. Jack intended to take Gary home until utilities were returned to the area. Gary was reluctantly convinced to leave. Ron was seen a day or two later rummaging the house for documents. He nearly took his father’s car with him, but neighbors convinced him that would not be a good idea.
This is the part of the story where Gary realizes which son left him to die and which risked his comfort and safety to attend to him. And the part where the father and son have the heart-to-heart that they’d been putting off. A heartwarming tale amidst the chaos and all that.
Life, unfortunately, doesn’t always seem to work out that way.
It’s interesting how in life we convince ourselves of certain realities. When I was fifteen I convinced myself that was not to blame for any of my problems. When I was eighteen I convinced myself that I could be anyone and who I really was didn’t really matter. On more than one occasion I convinced myself that I would always love someone that today I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s difficult to snap out of these things. To admit that she loved me would be to admit that I had been hurt unintentionally and that no one was to blame. To admit my limitations at eighteen I would have to admit that I couldn’t have everything that I wanted.
In the process of growing up, though, I was able to do these things.
Gary hasn’t the time. And Gary has invested so much time and energy into the Jack-as-villain narrative that it’s simply too late to change the story. It would mean that he spent the last decade on the wrong side of a family battle, pushing away those that loved him most in favor of those that were using him.
Power is back on in Gary’s home. He’s interested to reconnect with Ron, whom he figures must be worried sick. And he’s worried about Ron, whose house was doubtlessly destroyed. And he’s angry at Jack because he can’t just start getting along with Ron.
Jack has resigned himself to the fact that the father he once had a good relationship is gone, never to return. Jack is the best father-in-law I ever could have asked for. It’s a shame that I never knew the man that Gary used to be.
The comments of the below post reminded me of the other options we have for food and drink around here.
Mormons are, if nothing else, industrious souls. I could write about this at length, but for now I shall just state that at least half of my coworkers are also would-be entrepreneurs. A couple of them run side-businesses here. Account Manager Sheldon Waters and Programmer Dougie Phillips are two excellent examples of this. They not only have their own businesses, but they have their own businesses at work.
Referring to them as entrepreneurs may be a bit of a stretch, but they each exchange goods for money, so it technically - if not legally - applies. Sheldon runs The Company Store, as he calls it. He picks up on candy that the vending machine lacks, buys it in quantity, and sells it to the rest of us at a mark-up that is twice what he paid for it but less than the vending machine. Additionally, he makes change.
Dougie Phillips keeps a minifridge under his desk where he keeps cold Dr Peppers and Red Bull (& Red Bull knockoffs). One would think that Dougie might have trouble since the Pepsi fountain downstairs is free, but Pepsi proper is a poor enough soft drink that people will pay to drink something else. Thatís one of the main reasons Iím going to lose the below election. On top of that, frequent problems with the fountain downstairs mean that he gets a windfall whenever the machine runs out.
I just hope that if they do switch soft drink vendors, he expands his business to include Mountain Dew.
Geeze, Iím really going to have to stop bringing money with me to work.
Weíre holding an election at work. The COO wrote a company-wide email asking if we should replace our Pepsi Fountain with a Coke Fountain. The campaigns since have been relentless. I am in charge of the Pepsi campaign and my boss Willard is in charge of the Coke campaign. Itís been rough and, unfortunately, weíre fighting an uphill battle.
The thing is that I donít like Pepsi very much. Iím not a big Coca-Cola Classic person either, though itís preferable. The problem is that Coke has no equivalent to Mountain Dew. And in the young nerd world, Mountain Dew isnít a drink, itís a lifestyle. Coke has Mello Yello, which isnít bad, itís just not the Dew. They used to have Surge, which was somewhat like Mountain Dew except that it was bad (the fact that I did not realize this in my college years is testament to the tastelessness of college students).
Anyhow, I will not let the Dew be undone without a fight, which is why Iíve taken charge of the Pepsi campaign and printed signs: ďFor the Love of Mountain DewÖ VOTE PEPSI!Ē
But it turns out that the dye may already be cast. Apparently Pepsi just hiked up their rates big time and Coke is now the cheaper option. Itís indicative of the problems we have here that the reason Pepsi hiked their rates was that we got six months behind on payments. But whatís done is done and what Coke doesnít know about our dealings with Pepsi wonít hurt us.
Shortly before I first got here they held a similar election. Willard, the unofficial head of the Coke team, sent the COO the email with the vote tally: Coke won by a 5% margin or so. However, since Pepsi was cheaper they stuck with Pepsi anyway. That means that Pepsi need not just win the election, but win by a significant margin.
That is, alas, unlikely.
But you know, as I pat my gut I canít help but think that not having Mountain Dew here might be a good thing.
A post over at Beckyís place about television stereotypes spun off into a discussion between AndiePandie and I about children, marriage, and decisions. I take the position that the decision to have a child ought to be made before one gets married and should be made with a degree of certainty that your mind will not change later.
Itís an ironic position for me to take because neither my wife nor I are sure about the subject. We have both decided, however, that we can go either way and that if either of us doesnít want them, we wonít have them. I could go on and on about it the factors in our personal decision, but right now Iím thinking more about the decision in general and the decision-making process.
Of the three Truman boys, the middle brother Mitch has the makings of the best father. He is also the one of the three of us that - absent a divorce - is certain not to be a father. His wife announced that she didnít want kids and he accepted it with such grace that it surprised all of us (he had the kids named!).
Of all the issues that a couple faces, I think that the two most uncompromisable ones are marriage and children. If they donít agree as to whether or not marriage is a sacred vow or a piece of paper, thatís not something thatís going to go away. But even bigger than that is the issue of children. If you have always or never seriously pictured yourself with children, then you really should think twice before ďcompromisingĒ on that. Even more important, though, is that if someone has made their view to you on the matter clear, listen to what theyíre telling you because not only is their mind unlikely to change, but even if it does do you really want to raise children with someone that doesnít want them or feel the resentment of someone that sacrificed them to be with you?
But the question of whether or not to procreate is a serious one and Iím rather surprised at those that d0nít take it very strongly in to consideration when choosing a partner. Someone (Mitch, I think, actually) told me that the four pillars to any marriage are money, family, religion, and sex. There has to be some harmony on all four or the relationship will collapse in due time. Of the four, family is the only one that a compromise cannot be reached on. It is, in my mind, the most important.
Yet a surprising number of people I know are willing to jettisen their instincts on the matter for the right person. Usually in some sort of very strange ďBut Iím in loveĒ kind of way that defies logic, common sense, and long-term happiness. But if the composition of your future family (if you have feelings predominantly one way or the other, of course) isnít something youíre willing to take a stand on, what is?
The more controversial view that I have here, I suppose, is that I believe that once you make a decision, you are making a commitment on the child issue just as surely as you are on the spouse issue. If you get married saying you want children and change your mind, youíre agreeing to father or bear children. If you get married to someone that doesnít want kids, youíre committing to spending the rest of your life without children. Things like illness or infertility/sterility happen, of course, but barring that if you change your mind on that subject, the fallout (not including anything criminal, of course) falls more-or-less on your head.
When I think of Mitch and my sis-in-law, I canít help but really, really hope he meant it when he said that not having children was a sacrifice he truly is happy to make. Cause if he changes his mind on that (or worse, thinks he can change hers), he wonít really have anyone to blame but himself.
I jerry-rigged an out-of-use cell phone to be my second alarm clock for when the batteries run out on my regular phone. Itís the first time Iíve turned it on since getting my current battery-glutton of a cell phone, so it came as a bit of a surprise to see that I had a message on it and that it was actually picking up a signal. Did they forget to turn it off?
I dialed the voicemail number, but it went to my wireless companyís headquarters instead. I hung up and dialed again, thinking I might have made a mistake, but the result was the same. It also dialed the WCHQ when I dialed the landline. So apparently they keep the phone active so that you can call the company and activate it for real if you need to.
Iím reminded of a story from some time ago about a man whose life was saved by his cell phone companyís telemarketer. Basically the guy had run out of prepaid cell phone minutes when he found himself stranded on a mountain. The cell phone company called him to ask him whether he wanted to buy more minutes. He said something to the affect of ďLater, but right now I want off this dang mountainĒ and through the sales rep they got him some help.
I imagine having a phone that is always active but can only connect to the cell phone company may be a win-win proposition in that vein. In fact, Iím almost tempted to keep the phone in my car for emergencies except that (a) it would require me to buy a second alarm clock, which I am adamantly and illogically opposed to, and (b) I have enough trouble keeping the cell phone I actually use charged and two would be asking for it.
Meanwhile, though, the old phone has a voicemail frozen in amber. I did, however, finally discover what the Coffee Phone thing was all about. Apparently it shows up whenever I open a java script, such as my game or the Internet or any phone use thatís not actually using the phone portion of the phone.