Monday, March 27, 2006

Oh Another Old friend Has Come To Visit...

Let's All Shout Out For GOUT!

This chronic condition first cropped up in 2000 and has afflicted me on average of once a year since.

The current "outbreak" is moderate...not so mild as to be ignored but not so horrible as to be laid up in bed without even a sheet touching my toes...I've had either. I can walk but only limping-ly, and it gets progressively more painful the more I walk. Needless to say I had to take a cab into work today and am utilizing the network of nice people at work that have the time and availability to drive me home and pick me up in the morning.

Well, even sitting up needlessly will aggravate this so I will need to lie down soon. Hope I don't need to take any time off from work for this. I am a slacker but I prefer to take "hooky" sick days rather than real ones. Hee hee.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Oh The Ol' Adware/Spyware Crap Again!

Back in 2004 I got so frustrated because my system picked up so much of this crap it actually made it inoperable. I mean, I actually couldn't even get the OS to load properly anymore on boot up, so, in essence, without resorting to a reformat of the hard drive and reinstall of the OS and all applications, I was screwed. Yes, Windows ME, fortunately, does have the System Restore capability but the "infection" occured prior to that first avail backup date. I was fucked. That problem actually still exists on the Samsung hardrive sitting in my desk drawer. It was the HD originally equiped with the system I am currently running...Mildred 9. Oh, that reminds me, I think I forgot to tell you that I recently swaped out the Mildred X components in this tower case and installed Mildred 9. I always had this capability since January when I got back to Florida and had all components of Mildreds 9 and 10 but I was too chicken to do the swap. (Hardware upgrades can be a dog when working with used product without manuals or diagrams...it's like building a hobbyists model sailing ship without the instruction sheet!) I bought and built (barebones) Mildred 9, but that was back in 2001. Mildred 10 (X) was a free gift from PMA, so I had nothing on it. They were going to toss it in the junk heap.

Well, the current situation is this:
I picked up (somewhere) a really tenatious hijack-ware. It will "hijack" my browser (IE) an average of every 6 hits and redirect it to one of their ad sites...usually for Free gift cards or some shit like that. If I try to close out, it won't let me. If I click on the "close window" link, it opens up 3 more and with dial up they take minutes, not seconds to open. So this issue is componded by the fact I am dial up. In '04 when I last had issues like this I was broadband and it disabled my system by seeming "escalating" in intrusiveness. If I closed windows, it opened more...if I chose to by pass the links they presented to me, it seemed to slow my system more. If I ran adware elimination tools, it seemed to still live on like the fucking cockroaches they are and they would even be more aggressive.

Much of this experience may be imagined, but the tanacity of this nasty issue is not.

The problem is so intrusive, it makes me want to avoid logging on to the Internet at all. And, people, I am a seasoned "Netizen". I am not a nubie thinking this is just the way it is and giving up on it. This is not the way it should be and it is not the way it was just a few years ago. This is a new and viscious challenge. It is perhaps a coincidental irony that the rise of spyware and adware inrusions on our computer systems came at a time when we, as a nation, also became enrapped in the consequences of global terrorism. Because, folks, this is akin to electronic terrorism. Congress does some "just for show" bullshit about it, and the software industry "seems" empathetic by offering adware and spyware "elimination" solutions but these solutions are 1) after-the-fact (that is once you know, and have been inconvienienced or worse by one of these nasty devils and 2) will offer a "solution" that "might" (no guarantee) eliminate this intrusive program from your system...but this will usually be for a fee. And the whole issue is label like it is some "virus" or "treatable" condition...as if they know that it won't go away but we will try to keep it at bay. Huh???? Well should we treat terrorism and kidnapping and murder as "infections" that we must periodically treat as they spring up? This is software, folks..it exists only in a tightly defined universe. Why can't we get a proper handle on this?

It's ironic I work for the biggest security software company around and I am plagued by these issues.

Do you not think that the big security (Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware) companies are not putting out the very incidious hijacking and and tracking software out there in order to increase sales?

"Hi I'm from Phillip-Morris...you want to stop smoking?"

"Great...Let me get you signed up in our "Clean Air" group now at a very reasonable fee."

(WOW...They got the customer coming and going!!!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Springtime For Michael in Florida!

(Sung to the tune of "Springtime for Hitler" from the hilarious movie/play/movie-remake "The Producers")

Ah Spring!

When I lived up north, the physical and psychological impact and importance of spring was much more powerful indeed. It would be like a magical transformation. I marveled every year about the fact that the entire outdoor environment would suddenly, seemingly in the course of one week, change from the smells of decay and detrius to sweet flowers and seabreezes. From the feel of bitter frost and chafing dryness to glowing warmth and gentle mists. From the sounds of wearily whistling winds and lonely train whistles off in the distance in the dark to happily chirping birds and gleeful children at-play laughing in the sunshine. From the colors of grey, brown, white and black to green, yellow, purple and baby blue.

This transformation occurs on a much more subtle level here though. The landscape goes from a dull green to a vivid green. The buzzing of the lawn mowers and hedge trimmers increases in frequency from one every other week to every week and for longer durations. The temperature rises from the 70's to the 80's. And instead of live oak and mature ragweed pollen we have grass and flowering annuals pollen. (good for me since I'm allergic to the dry forms of the former but not the latter in any humidity level)

Alright, enough about the changes due to nature...lets get to talking about the nature of the changes...the changes in my life, that is.

As you know I am working now, at the software company. I am doing customer care for users of the company's software. The customers calling in are mainly business (less kooky calls) and relatively (from what I can garner from training so far) quick and easy solutions to their companies update needs for backup software solutions for their servers and clients. Any issues more involved than a few minutes resolution will likely need to be forwarded to another department for completion. Simple, huh?

Well, I hope so.

But, here are the issues at hand so I in the future, and you in the present can analyze these as they present themselves:

There are a few similarities to past personal experiences...some of which I've mentioned on this blog, others I haven't gotten to yet.

The training seemed poorly prepared and inadequately informed. The topics covered were either too brusk and assumptive, even on extremely technical aspects or slowed to a Down's Syndrome pace for intuitive concepts....shades of the cruise booking company posted about just 2 months ago.

The unit of the company in which I am employed is domined by women. (Not very unusual for customer service). And so far, EVERY, not just some, but EVERY supervisor I have met or been made aware of that will be over me (other than the CEO) is a woman. My history with women supervisors is less than desirable. I'm not being sexist...as a gay man I like to see the traditional "all boys club" barriers challenged and bested...but only if deserved. (Warning: Soapbox opinions follow regarding fair employment policies and the "PC"/ "minority-sensitive" environment of the modern workplace) In my experience, women are poorly qualified for management. This opinion is based on years of personal observation in a myriad of occupational fields and capacities. But, to be fair, I feel us fags also make poor managers (though not as bad as women). Here's why:
1) Too emotional: Every decision, small and large has roots in how the woman feels about the situation and the persons involved. Not always best in management.
2) Too ready to fly "off the cuff": Again, most likely as a result of the emotion involved, a woman manager is more likely to "jump to conclusions"...good or bad. Example: Already in this job I've seen our management level female trainer bark at and public humiliate and chastise a subordinate (Which in this case happened to be a male...but in my experience, they can be this way as readily with "their own", though with some it may be, subconsciously or consciously a "reverse-sexism" issue)
3) Indecisive...ummm, really!...To the point of virtually manic-depressive, bi-polar opposite positions on issues in seemingly illogical timespans: Okay, everyone has a change of heart, rethinks a decision and decides to change it. But women in management seem to be prone to not just a re-evaluation and minor revision of previous ideas, but entire destruction of a policy and reconstruction in an exactly opposite direction...with minutes notice. Reminds one of the mid-announcement changes in political and military allegiances in the Orwell novel "1984".
4) Dishonesty is the best policy: They are liars. They waddle around with their wide asses and expect you to open doors for them and offer seats to them if none are available. It is the "gentlemanly" thing to do after all. But if they for what ever reason have it in for you. They will sound so convincing to even the most skeptical listener that they were maligned by you. You, as a man, are immediately placed in a defensive role, simply because of the perceptions of male/female roles, regardless of position.

BTW, the woman=boss/me=subordinate BAD experiences are as follows:

HoJo's/Terry...1983
Taunton Sporting Goods Store/Adele...1986
BVC/Linda and Leslie...1987
Cranston Center/Lynn...1988
Amego/Karen...1989-90
Northern RIARC/Chris...1991-92
Northern RIARC/Jen...1993
SHIP/co-workers Kim, Latarsha(yes, the same HR rep mentioned in a previous post, but we came to an understanding over the years), Daphne, and Lynn...2000-02
iCare/Sue...2004
PMA/Glenda...2004
CNM/(Carol) Tiffany...2006

This listing is not meant to minimize the issues I've had with male bosses over the years...because I have and in some cases may have been more problematic than female boss cases...but the above highlight the aspects of female management styles I have referenced in the above itemization. And, in some cases, then some.

Hopefully things will work out well for this female dominated environment I'm in this time.

One can only hope.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hooray!!


I interviewed with a large software company earlier this afternoon.

I knew right away this was going to be the one. I just got that vibe.

Sure enough the interview(s) (with 3 managers) went flawlessly and I was sooo on the ball.

It's through a temp agency so they had to contact them first but I called the agency about an hour ago and she confirmed that they wanted me to start Monday!

Now the conundrum is the insurance company position...I haven't heard from them yet (except for the company hired by them to do background checks...they wanted me to provide W-2 forms to verify employment for the companies in New Orleans. I don't keep my records so I don't have them. She had trouble getting ahold of anyone to verify my status at Grants and PMA in N.O. Um, they had a major disaster just a few months back...have you been under a freakin' rock?! Of course it's going to be hard to verify employment from small companies in New Orleans...the records were probably washed away in the floods!!).

Unless I'm reading the software company atmosphere totally wrong, I think I'd rather take that so I may be telling the insurance company "thanks, but..." if I do get that offer. The pay would be slightly better at the insurance company (~$38K (factoring in bonuses) as opposed to $28K), but I see how stressed Ric gets about it sometimes. Plus, I ask myself, do I really want to work with Ric? It's hard enough just living with him. What's more, the software co. hours are better and the job seems easier.

The only thing is the walk. Oddly and coincidentally enough, the software company is about 200 feet due west of the insurance company...you can easily look into the windows of the other building from either building (well, that is, if they weren't tinted like all the posh office buildings around here). They are positioned stradling the main interstate (I-4) running through town and are about the exact distance (as the crow flies) from our house (about 1.5 miles). Either way, at the fat guy speed I walk, we're looking at a tad over an hour each way!

All I can say is, I'd rather be walking for an hour than on the freakin' bus for an hour!

Well, I'm off to celebrate, dear reader, so I shall bid adieu...adieu to unemployment and poverty that is!!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Surprise!

This week has been a circus...the ongoing critical and condescending attitude of Ric (well, much more than usual, of course), the odd insomnia I've been having, a whirlwind of interviews, long bus rides and hour long hikes.

Well today, I went to interview at Ric's workplace. And who was the HR Rep initiating my series of interviews (or slated to anyway)...my good friend Latarsha from my Sears days. I didn't get a chance to find out why she left there but she did mention in passing that it was only a few months ago...gee, and she seemed to be moving up rapidly there...she must have run into a ceiling, especially in regards to salary...if I remember correctly, Latarsha likes the "finer things in life" and though I think she married well (a doctor or something?) I think she likes to shop for her own bling bling from time to time.

Anyway, Latarsha was receiving all the applicants for today's Job Fair at this company. (We'll just call it "Anti-Geico" since it does start with A and is a call center environment auto insurance provider, but it is not Geico. You mystery readers out there, all 2 of you, maybe, who stumble across my blog...you know too much private info as it is so you're gonna be left in the dark on this one...so there, take that you would-be identity thieves!) I, like the others went for customer service positions. She pulled me aside and recommended I apply for sales...the same department Ric is in. It is more lucrative (yea, I know how much Ric makes) and there would be less "competition" for open positions since the vast majority of the maybe 50 or so people who attended today were trying out for customer service.

So, I filled out yet another application (my hand is cramping from all these applications at these various companies), then was forwarded to Michelle, one of the senior HR Reps for the Sales Department. Well, it turns out I had met her before. When Ric and I moved into this condo, Ric saw Michelle having a patio-side BBQ with here boyfriend. Turns out, she owns the unit on the first floor in the "front" of this same building! After chit-chatting she ran down the specs of the biz (which I already knew from Ric) and then I did a typing test, which, yay, I passed. (all this blogging pays off...polishes up the ol' keyboarding!) Then I met with 2 managers in the sales department for the Q&A sessions...you know the BS sessions. "Tell me about a time you had a stunning sales experience." "What are your areas of satisfaction with call center environment...dissatisfaction" All the Blah Blah...you know. I usually have no problem with these face-to-face interviews, they're just a prime opportunity to show off my communication skills and wow them with my baroque crap-molding skills.

Towards the end of that 2nd managers interview, I had been there almost 3 hours and was thinking, since it was just about the time for Ric to start his shift "Gee, wouldn't that be funny to have Ric see me there." Well, as I was being shown around again for about the 4th time and told about the buildings amenities like gym, locker rooms, full cafeteria, break rooms, yada yada, the manager brings me right by Ric's cubicle and as we are approaching him he points out "...and here is where Ric is." and right there is Ric. He seemed very surprised to see me and even shook my hand as I said hi to him.

I haven't seen him since, of course since he is still at work for a bit more and by the time he comes home I'm pretty much in bed, but I'll see him tomorrow when he gets up. I don't have any interviews slated for tomorrow (whew!).

So we'll see if we are back on speaking terms for more than just a show for his boss (so he can get the $500 referral bonus if I'm hired). It'd be nice. Especially if it does turn out that we are working together. Oh boy, working together and living together...whan have I done this before...oh yeah, that's right...in 1998-2000, at DM and Lee Rd....and with whom?: Ric!

Here we go again?