Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm Old Therefore I Don't Have To Try To Understand It

Having parents and working with adults has led me to a realm that I find slightly entertaining, kind of annoying, almost always baffling, and at the same time utterly depressing. This realm consists of old people (if you are 15 years older than mean you are considered an old person, sorry you 37 year olds, you are old) and technology.

Everyday I deal with payroll clerks from construction companies who don't understand how to attach files to emails or can't understand Excel and things like that. Yes it's frustrating but also it's understandable because unlike me (and all 12 of you readers out there! Yes I know there are 12 because Google is creepy and can track where you all are, yes Brian I know you read my blog, it says one person reads from Bridgewater and unless Thomas is taking time away from his crops then it must be you) they didn't grow up with computers, side by side. But what I cannot take is people who refuse to notice the good in computers and those who refuse to accept any type of failure from them.

For an example of this I was thinking of using my parents, but I love them, so I thought it would be cruel, a bit unfair and if anything just down right ungrateful (see Dad I do care!). Besides it isn't my moms fault she can't turn on a computer it's society's fault. But in lieu of my parents there is this old guy who sits next to me is really a ball buster, probably one of the biggest ones I have met, but more on him personally some other time. Anyway in the context of this post he is a perfect example. He is your average cranky, life was better back in the day, type of guy. Perfect.

Well a couple days ago this guy (lets call him Bill) had an issue with his computer, it wouldn't print any attachments from Outlook. A frustrating problem because he needs to print this attachment to talk about them, because he will not read them on the screen, jot some notes down, and then talk about the document. Not possible.

Well OK, things should work like they are advertised, I can agree with that. But really does this piece of brilliance that has made the lives of many not to mention the engineers like Bill who use auto-CAD and email everyday really deserve quotes like this?

Quotes from Bill

"This machine is a piece of shit!"

"I told him he can throw this piece of shit out the window!"

" the ocean"

" the dumpster"

Now he was telling (more like yelling) this to anyone who would listen to him. Really pissing me off because I sit right next to him in the office and he has a habit of shouting when he gets all worked up and the profanity starts to bother me (I know, weird, because I swear just as well as anyone). He finally called up the IT guy and bitched to him for 10 minutes about how his computer sucks and how he wants a new one that will print attachments. Good I hope he gets a faster machine for his emailing, because no one in my department could use a fast machine with two screens each to process spread sheets and transcribe pdf's into excel to make our work go faster, no no no Bill needs a fast machine for his email. God knows he deserves it.

At this point I had decided I was going to throw him in the ocean if he didn't shut his mouth soon. Because I knew what was probably wrong with his computer, for the past week our Internet and network had been lagging real bad, Gtalk kept timing out on me and simple pages just wouldn't load. So that probably meant that his documents, if they were large enough were probably lagging getting to the printer, or lagging downloading, or lagging somewhere else. Everything has been slow so it make sense that when in the same time frame he has the first computer error he has ever had (he says he has never had a problem in ten years) comes on the same day our network is crawling then there is probably a correlation. Well you know what, I was right.

Finally one of the other engineers takes pity on poor Bill (real pity too, you can hear it in her voice) and comes over to help. After some deliberation and more profanities from Bill they realize what the problem is, Bill isn't waiting for the attachment to load before he hits print, resulting in errors and extra copies when it finally does print. He looks stupid as a result, and he knows it.

He didn't take the time to understand the problem, he wants instant satisfaction, it should always work! But nothing is like that, not cars, not people, not institutions, not computers they all have issues because there are far too many factors involved for every to be perfect. And most of the time the problem is the human factor involved, in this case it was a Grumpy Old Man.

Oh and I have started making it a habit of shutting his computer off when he is not looking.

Oh and that creepy google thing?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stinky Weed

I was riding around the city checking my sites today when I was riding through the Backbay/Southend/Roxburry/Dorchester corner of the city (very interesting area). Anyway, I am riding down the street and suddenly "BAM!" (A little old Batman graphic for you there) I smell weed and I am in the middle of the street and there is no idling hot box of a car around and I know I wasn't smoking weed. So I come to a abrupt stop and look around because come on, it's 11:00 in the morning, it's broad daylight, cops are in this area all the time and last time I checked it still is illegal to smoke weed (that is till Mr. Patrick and the rest of the MA government apply some signatures to a said piece of legislation). I'm looking around and I spotted the perpetrators (brave souls, common protestors, apathetic citizens, or morons) A big black guy and a hefty white woman and they are just staring at me holding a joint between the two of them, I stare back in disbelief, and they continue staring blankly at me (either high, confused, or both). It took me a moment to shake myself out of it and keep going.

I guess this isn't weird I mean I smell weed all the time, from dorm rooms, my neighbors upstairs, while I walk on the sidewalk. But for each of those they are at least trying to be discreet about it, even the random guy walking down the street smoking is at least a moving target, not a sitting duck on the sidewalk in broad view of an intersection. It was just something I have never seen.

You can now go back to your daily lives.

The Voice of Voices

There is a woman who works here who has one of those voices that goes right through you. When she talks you stop to listen because paying attention to what she is saying is slightly less excrutiating than not listening to her. It's like fingernails on a black board, or utensils scratching a dinner plate, it is just something I cannot stand and because of it I am glad she works at the complete other end of the floor and hardly ever makes it past my cubicle.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Think I Like Twitter

I finally gave in and tried Twitter out the other day (probably the reason why I have started blogging again) and I think I may like it. Beyond the egotistical want to have people look at something you write (of which I am incredibly guilty) I like the idea that I have a way to put my thoughts down and then in the future come back to them and look at them (and maybe expand it into a blog post). Yes I could keep a journal, yes I could simply just hand write things out, but there is something about the sharing with others and the chance that someone may comment on my thoughts and in turn create another thought (i know two thoughts!).

Anyway I may end up hating Twitter for some unknown reason in the future but as of right now its a good way to just get ideas out and expand my mind. We shall revisit this later I am sure.

Tall kid + heights = scared

I'm too lazy to back date this, partially because I do not know the exact date which will probably be the case with most. As a preface though you should know that it was hot out on this day.

Today (Again months ago on a Thursday, probably August) I went to the construction site of the new Greater Boston Food Bank building for the first time. After some trouble locating the site (Apparently I can't absorb a map by simply staring at it for a minute) I finally made it, albeit late. I get there and everyone is waiting for me, their faces show it (its cool because you know like them I can afford a car). So I throw on my boots while weezing from running the last quarter mile, which just illustrates how badly I need to do some form of exercise, and then rush out the door with the site foreman.

The site foreman (might not actually be his proper title but it will have to do) treats me like I'm a paper pusher (which I am) and all I am doing is getting in the way of a bunch of guys trying to build something (guilty again). I resent that feeling and attitude, but more on that some other time.

So we are trudging along and I am halfheartedly being introduced to the foreman and I have the sneaking suspicion that I am supposed to remember each guy because unlike my other job sites this one is not going to be all that helpful with getting the count each week (this site should be the subject of many a blog post). The whole time we are going around the site my eyes keep wandering over to the rickety set of scaffolding stairs leading up to the second floor and then the roof.

For those of you who don't know me well I have a fear of heights, one where if I climb up more than 20 feet I start to get the shakes and begin to think about ways I could fall to my death. Just like my first plane flights and rollercoasters its my overthinking that is to blame for my disdain.

Anyway, I am eyeing the stairs hoping that I won't have to go up them yet knowing that its inevetable because I see men working up there which means I have to go talk to them, because that's my job. Yet again socializing gets in the way of my real life goal, to be left alone with a bunch of books safely at an altitude of about 6 feet 1 inches.

The football player of a foreman (he is huge, that Notre Dame shirt he is wearing must have came his way courtesy of the football department) starts lumbering towards the stairs and I start thinking of ways to get out of going up there. First thought is to fake an injury, but I quickly decide that that is out the question because it will only make me look like more of a sissy than I already appear to be. Next thought is to start a long conversation with a construction worker on the ground floor, then I realize I would have to introduce myself, which I suck at doing. The third thought which comes to me just as I grip the first railing is that I could just run away, but that would result in me being fired which would result in me not recieving credit for my co-op, which would result in me having to start paying my loans, which I can't do so I would default, and the snowball grows larger from there.....

So without any plausible reasons or excuses to get out of going up into the clouds I find myself climbing. In actuallity this act of going up 25 feet shouldn't be a problem, if I fell nothing would happen to me, but my brain doesn't work that way. My brain sees the rebar on the ground and imagines my body somehow impailing itself on it, or it sees the the backho suddenly veering for my fallen body and crushing me before I have time to get out of the way (I hate my brain). This is all amplified by the fact that the scaffolding is much more shaky than i thought it would be. I resigned to staring straight ahead and placing one foot in front of the other which usually seems to work. No doubt there was no color in my face but the beast of a man leading me wasn't about to turn around so it went un-noticed.

When we reached the first landing I wasn't as relieved as I thought I would be, I think it may have been because I was at an unfinished construction site. Regardless of the fact there was solid slab under my feet I still couldn't keep my mind focused as I was being introduced to foremen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

3+3=6 not 5 and You're a White Guy

Funny little story from getting the numbers at Parcel 18.

Dan and I are doing the rounds getting the numbers and everything is going well when we get to ML Paint and ask for the numbers.

Dan: How many you got on the job today.

Foreman: 5

Dan: How many Boston residents?

Foreman: 3

Dan: How many resident minorities?

Foreman: 3

Dan: How many females?

Foreman: 1

Dan: How many non-resident minorities?

Foreman: 3

At this point Dan and I share a quizzical look. Some quick math would bring us to the total number being at least 6 (3 minority residents and 3 non-resident minorities is at least six people and thats not including any white guys on the job this foreman being one of them)

Dan: You sure those are right?

Foreman: Yep

Dan: 5 total, 3 resident all minorities, 1 woman, 3 non-minority residents

Foreman: Yep

Dan after glancing over at me again: That's at least 6.

Foreman: Oh and there is me!

Let the record show that this man is as white as a white guy can be so this does not solve the number conundrum that he has presented. At this point the conversation became so confusing that it was best to just quit before he changed the woman to a white person and really fuck up the numbers.

The Coke Machine

The picture at right is not the actual coke machine, it is a stock photo. The coke machine refused to be photographed as well as comment for this story.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I like Coca Cola, a lot. I think it stems from a love of sugar, a hatred for coffee, and my inability as a child not to down my soda the second it was put in front of me. These factors of course were all amplified when I met Katy because her love of Coke knows no bounds, but I digress.

The issue at hand is the Coke machine that is located directly a floor above my cubicle at my Co-Op job. We have been at odds for about a month now, ever since the orange "Sold Out" light began to shine and the machine stopped dispensing coke to me. Don't get me wrong this was a great relationship from the get go, the day I found this machine (about a month in to the internship), was possibly the greatest day of my internship. I mean really 75 cent cans (by far my favorite conduit for Coke) of coke within seconds of my desk, I mean I couldn't ask for much better. Granted there were times where the Coke was old, or the batch was a little less than desirable but we worked through those times. Then came that fateful day. The day the Coke Machine died.

At first I thought it was a simple sold out process and in a couple of days it would all be back to normal, I gave it a week. In the meantime I went on a recruitment for a new Coke supplier (take that out of context), which turned out to be somewhat of an Odyssey. Little did I know that Pepsi had a monopoly on soda sales in the Marine Industrial Park, and my machine was the Saigon of vending machines (Yes Pepsi is equatable to Communism, if you drink it you are a Communist).

Quick rant: I despise Pepsi, it tastes nothing like Coke, and I think it's sad that people can ever confuse the two (Sammy Sosa and your Pepsi challenge, yes I am looking directly at you). I have no problem with people who like Pepsi (besides being pinkos) but I do have a problem with people thinking because I drink Coke I can then drink Pepsi. I have news for you, I can not.

Anyway back to our hero on his quest for the Holy Coke. First stop was the guy outside my building who sells Hot Dogs and Sausages, Pepsi supplier. Next stop ABP, Pepsi supplier. Then I tried looking through the surrounding office buildings for coke machines, no dice (but I do think I will be confronted by security if I walk in there again). Dunkin Donuts, Pepsi. The Cruise Terminal, all Pepsi Machines. Finally I get fed up and walk in to a restaurant that I occasionally frequent and just ask for a bottle of Coke (awkward). Though satisfying it may have been I was not going to go and do that 6 times a day at $1.50 a pop, and the Seven 11 is something like a 30 min commitment, so you can see my anguish with the downing of the Coke Machine over Communist territory.

Regardless of my quest for Coke and my embarrassing way I was forced to get it, I thought this was to last for only a week. Well as it turns out that was not the case. The machine appears to have been left behind with little hope of a refill.

At this point I took matters into my own hands. I can only defend myself for what I have done by saying that I have little hope of this being resolved without my intrusion into the situation. That being said I have regularly stooped to unplugging the machine from the outlet in hopes that someone will take notice and refill it (none such luck but it does keep getting plugged back in), as well as I have called the distributor for the machine (all the info is located on the machine) and have gone as far as ordering the coke but when they ask for a contact I hang up (I mean as large as my love of Coke is I can not get fired over it, I mean I draw the line somewhere).

So it has gotten to the point where the situation probably will not be resolved in the final month of my internship and I have prepared myself to never use that machine again. All I can do is pray that the next Co-Op is a Pepsi person.

The Guy

I have posted a couple times on Twitter about this all ready but some times 140 characters just doesn't get the point across.

Well there is a guy who sits two cubicles away from me and for the past 5 months he has been a fairly loud individual always on the phone, doing work, sounds like what he is doing is fairly important. Anyway it sounds like what he has been working on is coming to a head finally because for the last couple days he has been constantly on the phone drumming up for his project, of which I know nothing.

The thing is this guy has perplexed me since the day I got here. The office is split into two factions primarily Compliance (my department) which houses 5 people, and the Engineers which make up the rest of the floor. But this guy seems to answer and work with no one. I think I have figured out all the important people who work on this floor, the people who call the shots and tell the underlings what to do, but he is a lone wolf. No one ever really talks to him, or comes to his cubicle to tell him things like they do me and the others around me, but he also doesn't go tell other people what to do, such as my boss Trish and the top engineers.

Regardless of my lack of knowledge on his actual job title or description the man is planning something and something big, and it seems only I am aware of this. He keeps using words like "bodies" and "imperative" and phrases like "they won't know what hit them". I mean this could just be for a big meeting with the BRA brass but I'm thinking he is calling up all his agents for an attack of some kind, and if the NSA won't tap his phone then I will have to do it myself! I'm going to go crouch by his cubicle and peer in using a mirror, wish me luck!

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Missed Opportunity for an Epic "Running Diary"

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Chuck Turner (pictured above) did not get his meeting today, which means no suit for me as well as not being subject to a berating by a City Councilman looking to deflect any and all media attention away from his impending FBI investigation.

All in all I think it would have been fun. I would not have said much, if anything because of my status as an intern and little to no understanding of the inner workings of City Hall Politics but it still would have been enjoyable to be in a room with big Whigs again (Big Whig meeting #1 run down to be post in the future).

Not only that but I would love to be in the presence of Chuck Turner, as a political junky he fascinates me. A man who is openly characterized as not fit for his job by the media and is constantly harassed for his appearance and Race mongering I would just really like to know what makes him tick.

There could possibly be a meeting before I leave my position in a month but I highly doubt there will be, at least not until a new City Council President is sworn in and Chuck's legal matters are dealt with. I leave it to the next Co-op to have all the fun.