Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just a Drive By

At some point soon I'll need to get a new car. Decision-making not really being my thing, this has been dragging on for quite a while.

The biggest problem is that I can't decide what I care about. Buying a house was relatively easy -- I had (X) dollars and my only real requirement was that it not have a pool. My realtor then showed me a bunch of houses that cost (X + $30,000) because that's what realtors do, and I bought one of them. (I occasionally, like last weekend, regret that pool requirement, but then I think about the likelihood that my pool would either be drained or full of green slimy water when I wanted to use it and realize that I made the right decision.)

The car requirements, though, change depending on my mood. Here is the list of number one requirements going back a few months:
  • Low cost
  • Good stereo with a way to connect my iPod
  • Little road noise
  • Great highway gas mileage
  • Not white
  • Four doors
  • Okay, at least three doors
  • Not a wagon
  • Fun to drive (high-torque, baby!)
  • Cheap
Unfortunately, depending on how you select from that list either no cars apply or a whole bunch of cars apply. It really didn't help things when Rvan told my the BMW 335d was "too much car" for me this week. Okay, sure, I'd probably end up in a ditch in less than a week, but still.

Anyhow, what will likely happen is that I'll just keep driving my Civic until it suffers from some catastrophic break down, at which point I'll walk to the nearest car dealership and buy the first thing I see.

Honestly I think that system is about as good as anything else...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Poor Imposture

I realized this week that the main thing wrong with the world is that it matters more whether you can get the job than whether you can actually do the job. It's such a pain to hire or fire someone, that as long as a person isn't waving a gun around and threatening to shoot someone, it's easier just to say "Eh, maybe he'll get better, and the next one could be worse" than it is to find someone else. (If a person actually is waving a gun around, that's probably not the right time to fire him either...)

Anyhow, I spent a large portion of the last week revising documentation for the product I've been working on for the past two years. Apparently we paid some vendor to write user guides less than a year ago, but things have been changed in the past six months. Since we've been pretty bad at documenting what changed, I'm pretty much the only person who really can update the user guide.

We've already established that I like to make fun of other people's spelling and grammar, but I went into this whole thing thinking "hey, it was written by a professional -- all I'll need to do is change the sections where we've changed the product."

Then I read the existing guide.

Here's a condensed version of what the hundreds of pages of professionally-produced user guides look like:

Table of Contents

Flow of Control
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3
Task 4

This user guide is meant to be used by the users.

Flow of Control
(Diagram that was superseded two years ago here.)

Task 1
The first task is done by the RF Engineer when they enter a Date and then click on the Submit button. Then you're done until you get to Task 2.

Task 2
After the first task, Task 2 should be done by the Regulatory user. They need to click on the approve button.

And on it goes. Seriously, if you write technical documentation for a living, shouldn't it just be second nature to format everything the same way? If you're going to capitalize and underline the button names, then capitalize and underline all of the button names. And we aren't speaking German, so random nouns shouldn't be capitalized, no matter how important you think they are. And I know there isn't a good gender-neutral pronoun, but one RF engineer is not a "they". That's just wrong. Also, if I'm the one who has to go through and figure out how to fix all of the MS Word styles in the document so the table of contents doesn't look like it was done by a schizophrenic, something is wrong.

Sometimes you just want to demand your money back.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taxpayer #2 Strikes Again

I've got this tax thing down now -- it took me less than two hours to incorrectly fill out my federal and state taxes online this year. After I submitted the federal forms I even got the standard "Dear Free File Taxpayer #2" email.

Then I got the rejection notice about five minutes later.

Automatic rejection is apparently my new superpower. I'm never playing the lottery online.

Anyhow, I went back and clicked the radio button that I forgot to click the first time.

Then I got the second rejection email.

And I went back and clicked the same radio button again and submitted it again.

The third time was the charm for the whimsical binary gods, which is good since I don't think Rvan has any pull with the IRS.

I'm trying to figure out how to turn my new superpower into something useful or even lucrative, but I'm really having a hard time here...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's Easter...

Today was Easter which, in practical terms for the non-observant amongst us, really just means that parts of Woodland were closed all day and other parts of Woodland were open most of the day but closed early. I walked my dogs downtown, but there was no Easter parade for us to impress people at.

Anyhow, Easter for me means that I didn't get to buy groceries for the week because Nugget closed at 8 instead of 10, so I was one of the four people trying to walk through the non-opening automatic doors at 9. It's not the end of the world -- sure, I could have used some yogurt for my falafel, but I probably won't starve to death in the next week because I'm eating lunch at restaurants every weekday now.

One problem with going in to work every day is the lunch choices. Now instead of the regular Monday (Chinese), Wednesday (sushi), and Thursday (cafe) schedule, there are a whole two new days to fill. There just aren't another two restaurants near work that have food worth looking forward to every week, so that means that we'll actually have to make decisions at lunch time.

But really, if this is the biggest complaint I have in my life (and I'm not saying that it's not a super-important thing...), I probably have it pretty good.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Well, congratulations are certainly in order for myself because I managed to get to work on Monday well before 7:45, so rest assured, the fate of East Germany does not lie in wait for my new company. Probably.

Naturally the training didn't start until at least 8:30, by which time I had almost gone back to sleep again. It would have been a little less painful if I had, because I was locked in a room for the morning with two young HR reps, three new salespeople who didn't look old enough to drive, and one adult manager in sales.

For four hours we talked about how to be successful. Frankly I consider it a success if I'm gainfully employed and don't hate to go to work in the morning, but apparently if you're in human resources or sales, you must have a plan about where you want to be in five years, and five years after that. Sadly, audience participation was required, and "I don't care, can I go do my work now?" wasn't considered a valid response.

I got to see a Powerpoint presentation with the pictures and descriptions of all of the West area sales management. I don't remember any of them.

By the end I was somewhat delirious from the lack of sleep and caffeine, so the part where we joined hands and sang Kumbayah around a campfire made of the laminated company credo may have been a dream. At least I hope it was.

In the afternoon we got to learn how easy it is to offend everyone and what to do about it. We were joined by one extra person, so it was the three teenagers on one side of the table and three "seasoned" people on the other side of the table. The little kids got every question wrong because they were thinking about the questions as any nice, innocent people would. My side of the table got every question right because we've been around long enough to know that the correct answer in these sorts of training is always "rat everyone out as soon as possible so the company doesn't get sued". The only tricky part is coming up with a reason that doesn't sound like that. If someone were keeping score, we would have crushed the kids.

Then I went back to my cubicle and did some actual work.