Decision Time: Do unto others as was done unto me?

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So the good news is, I get to hire a new person to my team. We really need the help. Oh boy could we use the help.

And I think we’ve found the right person for the job (after quite a long recruiting process), oh joy!!

So as the paperwork goes through approvals and I wait, I was given the go ahead to start outfitting the cubicle and equipment for this new starter.

Yay!

Now, let’s go back a bit in time. Cue the wavy lines as we go back over two years ago.

To the day when I started this job. I was fresh faced and full of optimism and enthusiasm and other words ending in m.

My new boss ushered me to my office. Hard walls! A window! A door!

Then he handed me a laptop. Ker. Thunk.

In my previous gig I had been blissfully using a sleek, speedy Mac and this…thing…that was placed into my hands was a Dell.

A Dell. *shriek!*

Not only a Dell, but an almost three year old Dell that was running, horror of horrors, Windows XP. In the year 2010.

I was told that:

1) The Company keeps laptops for three years. Three years exactly, no early upgrades. This machine wasn’t quite three years old so tough luck kiddo.

2) Windows XP was the only authorized operating system at that time.

3) The Company does a big bulk purchase once a year and we get smoking hot discounts during that time. So even if the machine was older then three years, I couldn’t get a new one until Buying Season.

So, I did what a new hire does. I made it work. It was the slowest, saddest, boat anchor of a machine I think I’ve ever known. I bitched incessantly as it locked up and had to be restarted again. And again. And again.

I waited long enough and was a good little girl and magically buying season arrived AND my machine’s three years expired and I was finally able to order a new machine.

A brand spanking new Dell that ran…Windows XP.

Oh fine. It was faster and the keyboard didn’t contain food and hair and skin particles from my predecessor (I so wish I was kidding about that), and the screen wasn’t cracked.

So I was happy!

The piece of crap I had used was dutifully sent to recycling. I hope they crushed it.

About a year later, I had to replace someone who left my team to work in another team within the same organization. My boss told her to take her machine with her. And so she did.

When I hired someone, it was not the Buying Season and I had to dig up a boat anchor of a Dell to give him that would take a coffee and a smoke break when my employee asked it to do simple spreadsheet things.

But he was a new employee and fresh faced and full of optimism and enthusiasm and other words ending in m, and he endured. Buying Season finally came unto him and he bought a new spiffy machine, and by this time the IT organization had approved Windows 7 so he was FLYING. Pivot tables! Moving graphics on PowerPoint. Weeeee!

Which brings us back to now. I’m still using the machine that was purchased two and a half years ago. As cheap PC’s are want to do, it has sloooooowed down considerably.

My PC will have a third birthday in about six months. The start of Buying Season is about nine months away.

I can make it last. Right?

At a recent group luncheon, one of my peers (who started right around the same time I did) talked about how he’d just hired a new person too. And how he’d ordered a new machine for them (we are currently in the buying season) and how he took the new machine for himself and gave his two year old machine to the new guy.

My eyes widened. “You can do that?”

“Of course,” he said. “I got a crappy machine when I started here. It’s a tradition.”

Which got me to thinking. You see, as mentioned, it is the Buying Season now and I ordered a new machine for my new hire and this year The Company upgraded the standard from Dell to Lenovo and it’s a pretty nice machine.

It was delivered on Monday and it’s in the box under my desk right at this minute.

So. Do I break the chain and give New Employee a new machine?

Or do I scoop that damn thing up and give him my not that old and not that terrible machine?

I have a few weeks to decide just what kind of person I want to be.







Cartoon vulture found on How To Draw Cartoons Online.



And Then I Danced With The TSA

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This weekend I arrived early at an airport to climb on my fourteenth airplane of the year so I could head home to the now all too familiar San Francisco International Airport.

In twelve of the first thirteen flights of this year, things have gone very smoothly. One was a bit rocky, but could have been much worse.

Then came flight number fourteen. I suppose it was just my turn.

I stepped up to the security line and pfft’ed at the amateurs around me. Before I even got to the steel table and the plastic bins, I had shoes off, laptop out and a determined look in my face.

As in, this is not my first rodeo.

I stood in line kibitzing with friends. I shoved my bins forward into the tube and awaited further direction. This airport was using both metal detector and backscatter and the TSA agent was alternating the line. One to metal, one to xray. One to metal, one to xray.

I was directed to xray. With a sigh, I took my spot and waited. Then I was waved into the machine and I assumed the position. Feet spread, arms up over my head with elbows bent. Fingers spread.

Did I mention this is not my first rodeo?

I waited. And waited. And thought “damn, the backscatter at SFO is a quick one. This one is taking an eternity.”

Finally the TSA agent waved me out of the machine and pointed to a rug with the outline of two feet. That’s where you stand and wait for the agent to hear from The Someone in the backroom reviewing scans and reporting back.

So I waited. And waited. The TSA agent kept saying into her radio “Do you have a scan for a female? Results of scan. Results of scan, please.”

Nothing. Seems her radio was busted. So she asked her counterpart. He called it in. Three people had already come through the backscatter and given the all clear. Seems that certain Someone didn’t have my scan.

The female TSA agent said, “ok, let’s send her back in” pointing to the backscatter machine and I nodded. I was ok with that.

The male TSA agent said, “No, she left the machine and she can’t go back in.”

What?

“I’m sorry ma’am, we’re going to have to give you a pat down,” I was informed.

I sighed, nodded and raised my arms. “Ok, let’s do it,” I said.

“You can put your arms down, I have to call for an assist.”

So I waited and waited and waited for the pat down lady to come give me a good fondle.

“Do you want a private room?”

“No.”

“I will run my hands all the way up and down your legs, between and under your breasts, in the back of your shirt, in the waistband of your pants and in some sensitive areas. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, let’s get started.”

And so the blue uniformed woman got frightfully intimate with me right there in the security area, and I let her. I felt mildly dirty but to be honest, this was not my first pat down. Turns out when you wear a flowy skirt sometimes the backscatter can’t see you so well and they pat you down anyway. It’s why I wear pants to travel these days (even though skirts are way more comfy).

“There, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now I just need to test my gloves. Wait here please.”

“Ok.”

And so I waited and waited and waited and I heard “uh oh.”

I turned to see another TSA agent say to my new girlfriend, “You got an alarm.”

“It’s these gloves again, I swear this is crazy!” she replied.

Oh those pesky, pesky gloves. Silly gloves. Naughty gloves giving off an alarm meant…

Every item in my possession had to be wiped and scanned. Everything, including the Hello Kitty popsicle mold I’d bought there at the airport (a gift for a friend’s toddler).

None gave off an alarm, but I wasn’t finished yet.

I was then invited into the private room. Was this like the champagne room at a strip club? Only I’m the dancer? I hoped to make some killer tips off of this routine.

This time not one but two female TSA agents came along for the fun. I got to keep my clothes on, but they felt me up real, real good.

Let’s just say…they were quite vigorously able to confirm that I was in fact NOT the next underwear bomber.

Ahem.

After this mauling, I was set free to move about the airport.

I reported to my friends that I needed a Silkwood shower and maybe a Cinnabon to get through the trauma.

We opted instead for a TCBY non-fat yogurt cup. Amazing what sugar can do to make you feel better about this mean old world.

To be fair, it could have been much worse. I had plenty of time before my flight and I was very cooperative with the TSA agents, which meant they were very cooperative with me.

But I just can’t get past the fact that I had to be mauled, molested and detained because their radio malfunctioned and their backscatter machinery burped and their gloves are known to set off alarms and yet they keep using them.

I was just trying to get back home.

Before this crazy ol’ year is over, I have two more planes to ride. May those trips go as smoothly as twelve of my fourteen flights thus far.

Waltzing with the TSA sure was fun, but I think I’m over it.






Image from Toonsville.



From Insanity to History

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My whole life I have been endlessly fascinated with space and space travel along with the men and women who build the history and science behind space travel.

Call it a side effect of growing up in New Mexico.

As a fairly young kid I read the book “The Right Stuff” and ate up every word. So I read it again.

Just recently, I read the book yet again and I still loved every bit of it.

I’ve always been an especially huge fan of the early pilots like Chuck Yeager who were willing (on their small military pay) to strap into experimental machines just to see what they could do.

Can you imagine how insane people thought Chuck Yeager was when he was trying to break the sound barrier in a fast plane?

And he was, just a little. But his willingness to put his life on the line meant that scientists understood what body and machine went through at the speed of sound so that they could make better machines and better safety equipment.

Despite the enormous success of the US Space program, I’ve often wished that the military and NASA didn’t give up on developing pilot controlled airplanes to facilitate space travel. They were making good progress when the space race intervened and something had to be done quickly.

Instead of highly experimental planes, it was easier to strap an astronaut to a rocket and blast off. Hell, the solid rocket booster technology that fueled the last Space Shuttle launch in 2011 dates back to the 1960’s. And it still works. More or less.

Today with the sad decline of NASA and the growth of private space development, we may be getting back to the realm of real fast piloted planes as a way to get people up into space. As we start thinking about space tourism, the thoughts of safety become more important.

Enter the latest in a long line of courageous (and a little bit crazy) men. Yesterday an Austrian gentleman named Felix Baumgartner piloted a helium balloon to some 127,000 feet over the New Mexico desert (a record for a piloted balloon flight), and then he jumped out.

You know, just to see what his experimental spacesuit would do.

It was, first and foremost, a publicity stunt for Red Bull energy drinks. But there’s more to it than that. Mr. Baumgartner was testing a new pressure suit that not only protected his body but allowed maneuverability. Traditional pressure suits used in space flight don’t allow the astronaut to move around much which means in the event of danger it is damn near impossible for astronauts to eject and to survive.

So in his fairly thin space suit, Mr Baumgartner broke the sound barrier. With his body. On the same day, October 14, that Chuck Yeager first hit Mach 1 back in 1947.

Sixty-five years ago breaking the sound barrier seemed far fetched. To break the sound barrier with little more than a space suit on seemed nigh on impossible.

And yet.

When I first heard about this proposed jump from space, I thought it was pure insanity. As time went on I became more and more fascinated by the possibility of it.

Yesterday when I saw they were live streaming the event, I was all over it.

I have to be honest, I didn’t think Mr. Baumgartner was going to survive the jump. I worried that I was spectating a man’s death.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment when he was standing there on the step of his capsule.

And then he wasn’t.

As his body tumbled and cartwheeled I was absolutely terrified. Well made airplanes have broken apart at those speeds. I thought that was it. I thought there was no way.

Then somehow he got control. His body righted itself and he was in perfect form and he was really doing this thing!

Then at just the right time his parachute deployed and he sailed down to mother earth. Feet touched ground and he took a couple steps and boop, he was home.

That crazy bastard. What an accomplishment.

And what a step forward for commercial space travel.








Image found on SFGate.com with photography credit to Red Bull Stratos.



Well Knock Me Over

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I’ve been a San Francisco Giants baseball fan for a long time.

And in my many years, I’ve learned this: Nothing is ever easy with this team.

Nothing.

My gut was in a clinch all day as my Giants faced a Game 5, do or die, win or go home game against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series.

When Buster Posey hit a grand slam in the 5th inning against the very tough Mat Latos I jumped up and down in my office and clapped and shouted and whooped and hollered.

Then I remembered that I sit next door to the Vice President and he was on a con call being all VP-ish and important at that same moment.

I later apologized to him and he grinned. “You must have been listening to the radio because I was watching online and I heard you celebrating about five seconds ahead of seeing it online. You only get away with that for the Giants!”

Rock on.

In the nail tearing bottom of the 9th my boss was in my office drawing something Very Important on my marker board and I was trying desperately to pay attention and answer his questions while checking my phone every two seconds and…good lord how long was that at bat with Romo pitching and Bruce at the plate…? And all the while The Good Man is sending me texts and my boss is blah blah blahing because he’s a damn European and what does he care?

I reminded The Boss that I had to endure the Euro 2012 football championships while I was in the UK in June and he could bloody well deal with this today. Seeing his boss (the VP next door) running into my office shouting “THEY WON THEY WON!” certainly helped pipe him down.

This was a tough day at work because of work stuff. This was a stressful day at work because of those damn Giants and their special brand of delicious torture.

And then I saw an image online from today’s game that just perfectly summed up how it all makes me feel.

A little blown back by it all, really.




Just a leeeeetle inside for Pablo Sandoval. Photo by Michael Macor for The Chronicle



Image by Michael Macor for The Chronicle and published in SFGate.



Ohmmmmmmahgod I Need To Smack A Coworker

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So far this week I’ve been locked up in a conference room with a bunch of coworkers (from another organization) as we “frame up the situation and map out resolution.”

What. Ever.

It seems my little ol’ program is getting some attention, and in the long run it’s a good thing.

In the short run I have a bunch of people who understand squaddily poo about what I do now getting into my shorts and being shouty.

My little program has grown from a sideline that nobody cared about, and actively avoided, to a pretty significant strategic team with big spend. Meaning, I fixed a really BIG problem when no one else gave a rip, and now that it’s under control and earning some positive attention, everyone wants to lift it from me.

All the people I’ve spent two years begging to help me as I fought and threw rocks and banged my head on a brick wall are now harassing me about why I didn’t ask them for help sooner.

“I did!” I shout back, “About three times and your team shot me down every time! So I made my own rules.”

Yesterday afternoon we mixed it up pretty good. You may or may not have noticed this about me from the blog but…I’m a bit of a scrapper. You bring me the fight, I’m not going to back up.

My boss, on the other hand, is a self-described “Non-confrontational Swede”.

He was sitting next to me during the meeting and every now and again would lay a hand on my elbow and murmur “Calm down. It’s ok.”

Kind of hard to fight for my program when my boss would prefer I play nice.

So as I went into the meeting this morning, as a concession to my boss, I brought this with me:





I had little expectations that the warm chamomile would actually work, but the tag on the side of my cup was a good reminder. Stay calm. Go to my happy place. Mudra hands. Higher thinking. Be one with the process. Breathe.

What’s funny is that about an hour into today’s meeting as I stepped back from the fighting and just let it unfold, my Boss finally lost his sh*t. He took it as long as he could and then he let loose on those yahoolios.

When you have someone like a “Non-confrontational Swede” who is usually silent, when he shouts, it’s really something to behold.

I wanted to high five him but held back.

Even as my aggressive American ways sometimes cause my boss consternation, I think he also relies on me to be that person willing to stand up and fight.

In a weird way, his quiet ways and my not-so-quiet ways actually compliment each other pretty well.

Maybe Tazo should make “Smack a Coworker” blend?