Posts Tagged ‘birds’
Although I have a good life and good friends and a good job and good hobbies, I still spend a lot of time alone. That, combined with the fact that my car radio doesn’t work, results in me providing my own life soundtrack much of the time. When I’m solo, I talk to myself, whether I’m driving or cooking or hiking through the woods on a photographic trek. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I try to be still (Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”).
But stillness doesn’t come naturally to me, and so even when I’m quiet on the outside, my mind is often racing. Not like running a marathon, with a clear goal or finish line in mind, or even a logical progression from Point A to Point B, but much more like running away from something, running from some pursuing agent, running aimlessly with no direction other than away, away, away. During those times, when my thoughts are crashing blindly into the fruit carts that line the streets in my head and careening off passersby, memories intrude. Unbidden, they reach up and grab me like zombies coming out of manholes, and I can never shake them off. I have no choice but to stop, stop and remember.
And just like that, a sudden memory:
I was eleven or twelve, sleeping in one day. I never had a real bed. Throughout my childhood, I slept in what I later learned was an institutional cot. It was small, smaller than a twin-size bed, with a foam mattress a couple of inches thick, and a wire spring. I could lift it up on one end to make more space in my bedroom, like Linda Hamilton in Terminator II doing chin-ups in the insane asylum, though this was long before that movie came out. I vaguely knew that other kids had real beds, but still hadn’t quite grasped the fact that we were poor and that’s why we didn’t have things like other people had.
From my room that day, I heard my mother’s and sister’s voices downstairs, thought I heard them say the word “boiler.” Groggy with sleep, I remained in bed, but soon got up and realized that I was alone in the house. My mother seldom went outside. The addled abacus of my mind started adding things up, and I imagined that there was something wrong with the boiler in the cellar, that it was about to explode and my mother and sister had left the house, leaving me there. I was in a panic and called my brother across town, wanting to know if anyone had heard from my mother, if they knew whether something was wrong.
It didn’t occur to me that day that my mother would never, ever leave me alone in the house if she knew there was any danger. I loved my mother and I knew that she loved me (my sister, not so much), but for some reason in that moment, I was afraid that I had been left alone to die. Those were the sort of thoughts that I had, all the more bizarre because of how specific they were. Those were the places my mind had learned to go, before puberty and the craze of hormones could be blamed for anything I thought or did.
Not long after, my mother and sister came home. I don’t remember where they had gone. I only remember the terror. Perhaps tellingly, my paranoid ideation went unremarked. In more than twenty-five years, this memory has never left me.
This is the new Sunday feature: Glimpses into my head. Be afraid. Be very afraid. But enjoy the bigger pictures.
Come and listen to my story ’bout a BossLady,
Poor woman almost had a Master’s Degree,
Then one day she would place a classified,
And I was dead broke so I happily applied.
For the job, that is. Real estate. Property values.
Well, the first thing you know a hurricane blew through
BossLady said, “Let’s work from home! You too!”
Said, “You’ll be comfy in our dirty living room!”
So I gritted up my teeth and settled in with gloom.
For the job, that is. Too close for comfort.
A while back, I posted a story entitled Ignorance, Bliss in which BossLady tried to convince me that my “complicated” filenames made it difficult for clueless AOL users to retrieve files when we email them. She persisted with this theory in the tale entitled When The Assistant’s Away…, maintaining her erroneous belief that this is an ongoing and severe problem.
Meanwhile, all this time I have been blithely nodding and “Mmmmmm”ing along to these comments and continuing with my own filenaming system and my own method of dealing with AOL users: Including an HTML anchored link in the body of the email. As I mentioned in Ignorance, Bliss, I resolved not to bother mentioning this to BossLady as I’m far too busy during the day to explain basic HTML to her.
So nowadays, when we email .pdf files to people, there are really only three occasions when the recipient can’t access the documents:
- The person does not have Adobe Acrobat/Reader installed on their computer (and is too stupid to be walked through the process of installing it);
- I was out of the office, so BossLady attempted to send the email herself and screwed it up by sending an attachment, which a lot of these people can’t or won’t open; or
- I was out of the office, so BossLady attempted to send the email herself but didn’t include an anchored link because she doesn’t know how to do that, and the customer was too stupid to understand “copy and paste the link into your address bar.”
Unfortunately, this past week, the subject (“Lots and lots and lots of people can’t access the files we send and it’s because of the filenames”) came up yet again. See, we had a long holiday weekend, and I realize how much of a jerk I sound like here, but when I’m not there, things just don’t get done right. Electronic files don’t get saved; manila folders get filed in places they don’t belong, or worse, stashed in a pile on BossMan’s desk and buried under junk mail and newspapers; BossMan (only marginally tech-savvy himself) eschews the streamlined process of emailing documents altogether because I’m not there to handle it for him, so he sends faxes instead, which builds up mounds of unnecessary paper volume and makes all the documents impossible to read because they’ve been faxed back and forth repeatedly; and BossLady spends literally HOURS rearranging my carefully formulated systems FOR NO REASON other than the fact that she is an admitted control freak who can’t let go of things.
Another thing that happens when I’m not there is BossLady attempting to email people herself. And this past week she regaled me with yet another tale in which a poor clueless AOL user was unable to retrieve the document she tried to send, and couldn’t open the attachment either when she tried it that way, and the natural solution to this “ongoing problem” was obviously for me to just start using her filenaming system already. Because things like capital letters and underscores are confusing and blah blah blah blah SHUT UP, I screamed in my head.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and explain anchors to her at that point, knowing that it would waste a large chunk of time, but hoping that in the end she would just give it up already and stop harping on the filenames issue.
And I was right — it took me at least forty-five minutes to get through the whole spiel, because she constantly interrupts and starts down another path because she thinks she knows what you’re about to say, and then interrupts to interject comments of the “Oh, well, yeah, I knew that, I’m just a little out of practice” variety.
Come on now. Basic HTML. <B> is for bold, <P> starts a new paragraph, and <A HREF=> makes an anchor, or link. They teach you this right after “Hello, world!” for heaven’s sake.
So here’s BossLady: “You really need to stop putting underscores in the filenames and stop using capital letters because people can’t see the underscore and they try to type it in the address bar by hand and –”
Me: “Well actually, I’ve started adding an HTML anchored link to the files in the emails I’ve been sending out, because AOL parses the HTML in the body –”
BossLady, who “almost has a Master’s Degree in computer science,” who has dozens of domains registered, who allegedly worked as a tech contractor and a DBA for a famous hardware company: “Anchored…?”
Me, a person who has had almost no formal post-secondary education: “…You know, ‘A HREF,’ an HTML anchor?”
BossLady’s Brain: You’re trying to confuse me with technobabble to make me go away. I’ll call you on it.
BossLady: “What is an anchor?”
BossLady’s Brain: Ha HA! Check MATE, Audacious Assistant!
I really do feel, sometimes, like BossLady thinks she and I are engaged in a battle of wills in a technological Thunderdome, and the battle will be to the death (“Two techies enter. One techie leaves”).
After I showed her a printout of what an AOL user sees when I email them a link, she became enthralled with the concept and wrote down the syntax so she wouldn’t forget to use it herself in the future.
Again, this is basic HTML. <P>Hello, world! <FONT COLOR=”red”>This text is red!</FONT> <A HREF=”http://cnn.com”>This is a link</A> to my favorite site!
And the BossLady Priceless Comment of the Day, after I demonstrated that this method actually works for emailing AOL users: “Wow, you really did a lot of research on this!”
The Tales of the BossLady were written long ago, when John Paul II was still Pope, James Brown was still alive, and nobody would’ve believed you if you’d told them a black guy would be President before the decade was out. I wrote these anecdotes in the privacy of my own home, never daring to bring them into the light of day until now (partly because I’m still embarrassed about what a crankypants I was back then).
For some time now, I have worked six days a week. I do this because I need the money. I work as many hours as they’ll give me during the week, and I always get at least five or six hours on Saturday too. Overtime is the nectar of the gods.
I recently took a vacation, which is something I never do. (The hurricanes don’t count.) I took three whole days off: Thursday through Saturday. A friend had invited me to go on a trip with her, and the trip didn’t happen, but that’s another story. I took the three days off anyway, did my own thing, and just sacrificed the twenty-some-odd hours I would have cashed in on.
When I came back to work on Monday, I found BossLady overflowing with vim and vigor: She had taken the opportunity, while I was away, to change a few things.
- She apparently spent a considerable amount of time “cleaning up” my spreadsheets. (The days of “Bow Before the Sacred Spreadsheet” are long gone. I now consider the spreadsheets mine, since I’m the one who uses them 99.999% of the time.) She now wants me to start following her kooky idea of “what makes sense” regarding dates in Excel.
- She also spent the whole weekend exhaustively and needlessly re-organizing our old manila folders — not the new, recent ones, the old ones — in such a manner that I can now no longer find anything that I’m looking for when something needs to be updated.
- Additionally, I found a note from BossLady with about twenty nitpicky remarks about minor cosmetic and/or semantic changes she wants me to make on the Website. This would not really be a problem, and in fact I should get used to this sort of thing if I ever hope to be a Real Live Web Developer when I grow up, but I’m facing the classic situation of being asked to make “corrections” that are incorrect or at best incomprehensible. I ask you, which makes more sense to the average real estate shopper?
- “NOTE: Red scrub jay habitat!”
- “NOTE: Special permitting is required to build on this lot.”
This is a woman who has gone into thesis-length dissertations on “cellphone” versus “cell phone” on the flyers we send out, so I guess this is just par for the course, though.
- Aaaaaaaand she is still harping on my filenaming system. “Use this format for closing statements and this format for listing agreements and this format for contracts,” and why the hell doesn’t she send me back to second grade to re-learn the Palmer method, for heaven’s sake? How about a lecture on using Xs instead of checkmarks on my personal to-do list while we’re at it?
- Oh, and…BossLady wants me to start emailing the .pdf files straight from Adobe Acrobat, because “they have high compression!” and she thinks this will eliminate “all the problems” people have when we email links to them (see previously, Ignorance, Bliss). Emailing directly from Adobe means sending files as attachments, however, which means this will cause more problems than it will solve. Like I’ve said before, these people are suspicious of attachments because they know (at least some of the marginally more savvy know) that this is how you get viruses. Many people who don’t know any better than to open attachments can’t open them anyway, because they have security settings in place that won’t let them (set up for them by their techie friends). I didn’t say any of this to BossLady while she was excitedly sharing all hew new ideas with me. I just nodded and “Mmmm-hmmm”ed as usual.
Will I do any of this stuff? Not bloody likely.
Why in God’s name does this woman spend so much time obsessing over new ways to “fix” things that don’t particularly need to be fixed? She doesn’t need to have the spreadsheets “a certain way” anymore, I need them to be a certain way so that I can do my job. She doesn’t need the manila folders to be in a certain order, I need them to be in a certain order, specifically, I need them to be in the same order that the spreadsheet is in, so that when I look something up in the spreadsheet, I’ll know exactly where to find the hard copy in the manila folders. And as for the “problems” that we have when we email people, the only problem we ever really have anymore is when some dodo is using an old 386 for a computer and doesn’t have Adobe installed on it, so they can’t open the links. Why people like this even have email is beyond me, but emailing attachments isn’t going to make things any better, despite all of BossLady’s “extensive” reading on the Internet about incompatibilities between different versions of Acrobat and Reader and GAAAAAH…I wish she would just let me do my job, for the love of all that is holy. And, you know, she could have spent her time so much more productively while I was gone, by, for example, going out and photographing all those properties that we just listed so that I’ll have something to put on the Web site.
What makes all this even more aggravating for me is that after I sat through all this nonsense, with BossLady speechifying on all the nifty changes she made while I was gone, BossMan informed me that he was giving me a raise again.
BossMan does this to me every damned time. Just when I’m starting to really get irritated with the State of the Workplace and I start entertaining the notion of picking up the classifieds, BossMan does something overwhelmingly nice. He has given me a TV (old and well-used, but large); he has given me a Sam’s Club card on his business membership (and even paid the fee!); he gave me a pot of Easter Lilies on, well, Easter; and he has so far given me three raises, and I haven’t even worked for them a full year as of this writing. I think it does bear pointing out that it’s always BossMan who provides these treats, though, never BossLady.