Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who's Supporting Whom??

When you’re on the phone with Payroll Tech Support (and I know all of you often are) J, they may require a quick Excel 101 lesson in the middle of your session.

Today should have been liberating. Today should have been my chance to really cut the cord here in the ‘ole HR department. Clearly this was not meant to be. Clearly the payroll gods don’t think I’m ready for the responsibility. Put me in, coach! I swear I can do it. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I swear it’s the computer’s fault and I didn’t mess up payroll. Even the Payroll Tech Support guy said that it wasn’t me... *sigh* Of course the payroll files had to go all screwy TODAY. Today, I was processing payroll all by my sweet little lonesome. I know how to do it. I’ve been watching. Learning. I’ve had my hand held every Tuesday since August. I knew I could do it. What I didn’t know was that payroll hates me and wants to laugh in my confused face as I wait on hold for someone from support to help me.

Now, no matter what I say, everyone’s going to think that my technical difficulties were due to some bizarre mistake I’m not admitting to rather than the TRUTH – our software screwed up and even the support dudes couldn’t seem to figure out what was going wrong. In fact, they never did figure it out. After deleting batches and reloading files several times, they finally loaded correctly on the last try, much to the surprise of Fabian (what a name) who admitted that he had never seen the program do this before.

The best part? I waited on the phone for close to 45 minutes while Fabian (his name warrants stressed, italicized letters so that you know to say it with eyes rolled and a heavy British accent) apparently couldn’t figure out where the mouse was on his computer. Remotely connected to my work computer through the internet connection, I could watch in agony as he clicked around aimlessly. For the first 10 minutes, I watched as he tried to figure out how to use the AutoSum function on Microsoft Excel. After several minutes of confused noises floating through my phone from his end, I decided to throw him a bone and explain it to him.

Which made me wonder... Who the hell is supporting whom?!?!?!? Today’s lesson (other than the Excel 101 already provided to FAAAAABIAN) is:

Technical support ought to implement the following employment requirements before hiring:

  • Know how to use a computer.
  • Know how to use a mouse.
  • Know how to use basic Microsoft Office software.
  • Know your ABCs, how to count to 10, and your basic shapes and colors.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Blah Blah... Dumbledore is Gay.... Blah Blah...

I'll admit that I've been somewhat out of the current events loop since hubby and I turned the cable off a year ago to save money... But I hear snippets every now and then from the women I sit near in the office, random online news sources, and Giovanni and Kim on the way to work in the morning.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket So, through the grapevine, I've heard that JK Rowling has declared in an interview that Albus Dumbledore is, in fact, gay. Fine. This makes sense to me, and not only have I read all of the novels (most of them 5 or 6 times) but I also studied the series in depth for my senior thesis as an English Literature major. The only disappointment I feel about this latest subject of contention is the uproar it's caused amongst parents, conservatives, and holy-rollers everywhere. (Ahem - aka: those whose heads are so far into one anothers' busin---- Let's stop there before I go off on a tangent that I won't be able to escape from.)

People seem to be overly concerned with: (And do you see a theme here?)

  • How will this affect my child?
  • How soon will I have to have the "sexuality" speech with my ten-year-old when he/she hears about this?
  • Why is Rowling saying such things? I thought these were childrens' books?!?!?

First of all, let me just say that I understand the worry that parents feel regarding their children and reading material. Kids have to grow up way too quickly these days. However, it does seem that parents are neglecting to recall one very important thing about the Harry Potter series.... Not all novels featuring children as main characters were meant to be read by children.

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier is a fantastic example. Main character = young boy. This is apparently a troubling equation for most people who get their knickers in a twist when the book also features sexually-loaded excerpts and psychological drama unsuitable for a child's eyes. Newsflash: Authors (artists, remember?) should not have to limit themselves to adult characters because parents don't understand the concept of reading a book before their child does. Nonetheless, Cormier's novel is one of the most commonly banned books in the United States.

Of course, there are parents who read books before they hand them over to their children. In my humble opinion, these people should have no gripe with Rowling. The common question (usually squealed disbelievingly in the author's general direction) is something to the tone of:

"How could you allow your novels to become so increasingly more violent, gory, and dark as Harry grew older?? Don't you realize that young children are reading these books?"

Rowling pointed out in an interview that the first novel, which was allegedly responsible for an incorrect first impression of the books to come, BEGINS and ENDS with violence. One of the first ideas that the reader encounters is a child violently orphaned by a man (wizard) whose pure-blood-only outlook on life closely resembles that of Adolf Hitler. Harry's parents are both violently murdered when he is a baby - his mother, right before his very eyes seconds after she pled for his life and sacrificed herself in an attempt to save him. How does this send the wrong first impression? I certainly couldn't tell you, and Rowling doesn't seem to know either.

The moral of the story is:

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is NOT equal to

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I'm just sayin'....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dusty Attic, Sunny Yard-Sale

When working 40+ hours each week, the one thing that I miss above all others is being able to read a book in under a week. When we were on our honeymoon, I read three books in seven days.

Granted, there are some tomes which should be pored over slowly so that one might relish the tactile aspects of a novel - the weight of the book in one's hands, the texture of the paper, the thickness of the pages, the feeling of satisfaction as page after page moves from right thumb to left... And the smell. The smell that rushes at one's nose upon opening a book for the first time - new paper, fresh ink...

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Used books have potential for an even more rewarding reading experience. It's a classic tale of old versus new. Age versus youth. Some will smell musty or of mildew from being shut away in the airless, dusty attic of an old house. Some will surprise you. I once read a book that I purchased at a yard sale on a gorgeous summer day. The cover and pages were warm from lying in the sun, and it smelled of its previous owner's perfume. The smell was faint but distinct enough that each time I opened it or turned a page, I was rewarded with a wonderful, flowery scent.

I have a list in my mind of all of the books that I want to read once I'm finished with the one I'm reading now. (I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb...) I'm sure the list is hundreds long. Someday I'll be able to tackle the stacks and make some headway on my road paved with literary good intentions.

But for now, I look forward to my computer clock turning to five and the subsequent hour-long commute back home. Such is life in the working world...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You can't BE the bride and eat it too...

I think I'm getting the quote wrong.

I got married two weeks ago... *Crickets chirping* Exactly. While I'm convinced that my marriage is the absolute best thing that ever happened to me, the wedding itself didn't seem to be top priority to anyone other than myself, my groom, and our immediate families. One person said he couldn't attend because he "had a thing." My own grandmother didn't come because it was the perfect occasion to use as bait for her drama with her daughter-in-law (my Mom/Matron of Honor), despite my somewhat important status as her only granddaughter.

Don't get me wrong - the wedding was beautiful, the ceremony was incredible, the food was awesome... and most of us had fun. (Well, the important people did.) Some remained uninvolved - sitting at their tables with bland looks on their uninterested faces, leaving early, or better yet (my personal favorite) not bothering to show up at all. Some were super-involved - agreeing to help with various aspects and then making their own decisions as to what would be best for my wedding... I'll leave the best details out, here, in hopes that my next major life event will have more loyal attendees (my funeral, for example).

It was my understanding that people had to do what the Bride asked. Hence the term "Bridezilla" which I did everything in my power to avoid being. Perhaps there's the rub. I should have been more of a bitch, and then no one would have dared not listen to me, for fear of my wrath! Well, there's always my funeral to be wrathful at. Anyone up for a haunting? I already have a few on my list...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You can't write meeting minutes in iambic pentameter...

Well - you can, but no one notices and it takes a bit longer.

It’s hard enough making the transition from “I’m writing my thesis on...toI’m in the real world now and no one cares what I think unless it involves their paycheck or medical coverage” without knowing that I probably won’t ever get to have an intellectual conversation about Macbeth between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

I used to be a literature major in college. That was almost two years ago. Now I take care of payroll and benefits for a whole lot of people who don’t care that I have a degree unless it was in Accounting or Business Administration.

“English Literature, huh?” – (Man in a suit who looks like Falstaff but will never know)

“Yes, sir.” – (Me)

“Whatcha planning on doing with that?” – (Falstaff)

Oooooh sweet Jeeeesus here we go again. I dunno – I thought I might get a job someday with a company that values superb communication skills. Too much to ask, huh? I guessed as much.

So what does one do with an English literature degree in the modern corporate office? J