Friday, September 29, 2006

FLASHBACK: Early Spring 1977

Michael Drolet and I decided that we needed to runaway.

We both felt that we could no longer endure the "harshness" of our lives under our oppressive parents, so we made a quick and hasty plan to runaway to a better life.

I don't know who first came up with the idea to runaway, but since I had prior experience, it might have been me.

My prior experience was back in 1972 when I walked east on Diamond Hill Road towards Cumberland and kept going, thinking I might make it to New York, eventually.

My parents called the cops and the police found me near the Woonsocket-Cumberland border and brought me home.

When asked why I did it, I said it was because my family was not like the Brady Bunch.

Michael Drolet and I became friends during the very short period of time during my junior high school years that I held a bit of popularity among my peers.

During study periods, I had used the time to create and diseminate hand-drawn comics, done in typical comic-strip fashion.

My comics were recieved as not only well-drawn, but unique in content and creativity.

"Goofy Gus" was one of my early efforts about a weird looking guy in a bowler hat who got into various escapades.

But my biggest hits were:

"The Ziploc Family", a nuclear family of Ziploc plastic bags, living in space, and experiencing the trials and tribulations of their existance.

and, most popular of all:

"The Adventures of Super Mouth", a superhero who could open his mouth to half his body size in order to emit a crippling scream stopping criminals and other bad guys in their paths.

In one comic that was passed around during Ms. Marrah's history class, the teacher intercepted the comic and later came to me and stated that the depiction of the Super Mouth character, simultaneously puking and shitting was physically impossible. She said this so clinicallly, to this day I don't know if she was kidding or thought it was true? (Unfortuntaly, years later, I found out first hand that indeed, you can do both at the same time!)

Mike Drolet seemed most interested in my twisted sense of humor and we fast became friends.

But Mike lived on the dark side, for the most part...

He had to fend for himself a lot since he lived with his older sister and her boyfriend...I don't remember what happened to his parents.

He had a buddy who knew about weed, but when we smoked a joint Mike had gotten from him, it had no affect on me whatsoever...(other than make me crave Italian food with Orgeano..i.e., I think he got a fully Oregano joint!)

Mike and I stole a pack of Newport cigarrettes with the intent on seeing what was so great about smoking. I smoked two cigarrettes, turned a shade of green, and never smoked another cigarrette (tobacco) again.

Mike and I were also into pushing the limits in other ways...we went to "Bonanza" a Ponderosa-style cafeteria buffet steak house, at 3:00 pm on a Saturday, and since it was so dead (we were the only customers in the restaurant), the staff went to the kitchen and left the dining area vacant. We went up to the beer dispensing taps and using our cups we got for our soft drinks, filled them up not once, but about three times before we left the restaurant as two drunk 13-year olds.

By Spring of 1977, we were best friends and the idea to runaway had arose. It wasn't thought out, we both had undergone a minor rift in our respective homes, but, like so many "snap decisions", it "sounded good at the time".

We walked to Lincoln Mall, and there was onset by both fatigue and cold. So we sought out shelter in a small copse of bushes and trees near the mall. This was too cold. We checked out all the remaining cars in the parking lot at that late hour, and finally found one unlocked.

We got in, and Mike in the backseat, I in the front, fell asleep...

I was awoken a few hours later by a loud rapping with a plastic flashlight on the car window. It was the police.

After waking Mike, we were then brought to the Lincoln Police Station and questioned why we were in the car.

When I divulged that we were planning to run away, had found the car unlocked and used it as shelter, they called our parents and we were taken home.

I'm not sure what kinda punishment Mike got, but mine was fairly mild.

As that year progressed, I grew more infatuated with Mike and after writing what amounted to a love letter to him, he broke off relations with me and I never heard from him since.

He later dropped out during junior high, so I never knew what became of him since then.

I kept up my study class drawings and that would eventually find me befriending my first true love John Noviello and his good friend Camille St. Onge.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Happy 100!

According to the Blogger Dashboard...this is my 100th post!

Yay! And I kid you not, as I was writing this, I could hear fireworks going off in the distance. That may sound like I'm losing it, but this is Florida, and we love our fireworks...could have been a new dealership sale, birthday party or wedding...lots of people have firworks around here so it's not too unusual to hear the occassional "pop-pop".

What a week...

It started most oddly with an earthquake!

That's right...I was sitting here at my computer around 11:00 in the morning Sunday when all of a sudden the closet door started to shudder in it's frame for about 30 seconds. It was weird, I sat looking at the mirrored glass sliding door of the closet which are not properly aligned, so they tend to rattle when even the slightest vibration is felt. At first I thought, maybe Ric was up, but he wasn't....and the giggling wasn't rythmic like the footsteps of a was constant throughout.

So I thought briefly...I wonder if this is an earthquake?

(To be honest, other issues played into that assumption like I could feel a deep rumble as I sat in my chair...)

My assumptions were confirmed a few hours later when I found out from the TV news that in fact, there had been an earthquake recorded in the Gulf of Mexico and that it had also been felt by other Central Florida residents.

My attitude at work changed from one of "exclusion" to "inclusion". As Bugs often says..."If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!".

I volunteered to monitor our "pool" email address for incorrectly assigned requests in order to re-direct them to the appropriate email address.

What ever happended to "Billy Don't Be A Hero"?

I hit the digital scale for the first time in a few weeks just a few days ago...

OVER 300...302 infact.

The specifications of the scale say it only records up to 300 lbs. Well, I guess it goes a few pounds over that?

I hit the $3000 mark this week in my checking account.

Nancy's cubicle still has her personal effects there (family pictures, knick knacks, and other collected items), but I'm told by Kemmy evything with me is "all right" wasn't the over-the-top superb accolade I wore during the first week hear...but it was a strong "ok". What causeed the diminishment was likely due to my confrontation with Cheryl early on...

I told Kemmy that I would love to go on to be a superb trainer. I mentioned the credentials I have in this area, and though I stated that I liked Cheryl's approach to training (in so far as she is very "hands-on"), I did not commend her "mastery of the actual information", I didn't make mention of the fact that Cheryl lacked the actual knowledge to conduct a training session.

Cheryl is in Springfield, Oregon this week. She should be back next week. Kemmy said there are some 5 new temps to train next week.

It will be most interesting indeed.

I'm making pot roast and I want to insure it is done before Ric comes home, so I have to go and tend to it.

This should NOT sound at all "Sleeping With The Enemy"-ish.

Never would get there.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sir, You Are Being Charged With BUI...Blogging Under The Influence!

This is too weird...

Last Thursday, I guess after I posted the "Yes Massa..." post, I apparently started the beginings of a FLASHBACK post and failed to complete it or post it...because I was too drunk!

Here's what I had saved in Notepad and after the first 2 paragraphs, the post really becomes surreal...don't ask me what it means...I don't even remember creating the draft in the first place.

Makes me wonder sometimes...

Here it is, exactly as I found it saved:

----------beginning of copy----------------



Spring 1993

Prior to the ubiquity of the .doc extention for Microsoft wordprocessor pages, the Microsoft Works extention of .wri existed.

MS Word,as it still is today, is an added expense in providing your system with a state-of-the-art word processor. MS Works,back then, was offered as a "free" solution to word processing albeit with many less features. The word processing files would be saved under the extension ".wri".

The current files which describe this licensure, but avoid depravation of singualr family members, enjoy breaks on parks, taxes an dtransit.

Exist I see no extant copy of the 1978 is a breif overlook...]


--------------end of copy---------------

Those last 2 lines REALLY freak me out!

Did I copy and paste that from somewhere?

Or did I type that?

And if so, what the fuck does it mean?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Yes Massa, My Name Be TOBY

Backstory: Since the first few weeks of employment here (you know where!), the newly-hired employees noticed a subtle division of the status of our team's workforce. Simply, the caste was divided among the "old crew" and the "newbies". Oh yes, management voiced sound-bites attesting to how we were all "one team" and no "clique" behavior would be tolerated, but that was soon proven by the facts to be a sham.

When our "team" was formed, it comprised veterans who had been "displaced" by a transition of duties. "Their" jobs were moved to a newly-formed team in Springfield, Oregon, but they were able to stay with the company, if they chose, to fill positions won for them by their manager (Kemmy, according to her telling of the tale) creating a new team of customer care reps....and THIS team's formation thus replaced a disassembled pre-existing team doing that very duty in Milpitas, California.

It was obviously arranged ahead of the formation of the team that those who chose to transition from the old job specifications to the new (yet less desirable since it involved, ugh!, "call center style" interaction with potentially angry and impetous customers...much more "stressful" than the lax-paced data entry work of their OSG duties)
that they would be "awarded" positions of status which would eventually allow them to stay off the phones a majority of their worktime. Stacy Cashwell divulged a bit of this before she left since she admitted that she thought that she would be "off the phones" a majority of the time from the get go. But, of course, this couldn't happen right away.

Kemmy had to build up the numbers of new-hires so they could take the brunt of the calls, thus allowing the OSG people to shift into "cruise control" without a diminishment in the "stats" (abandon rate, hold time...the usual call center stuff). Once that was achieved (and it became very noticible that that had been achieved about 2 months ago), then the "old crew", based on an elobaratetly displayed format would be able to work primarily on "cases" (email customer concerns). The problem for the "behind the curtain" persons trying to create the illusion of the "Great and Powerful Oz", was simply that there weren't enough cases to justify that much "unavailable" time.

Marshall left for Arizona before this trend began so we didn't get to remark on in, but I'm sure he and I would have pinged each other non-stop about the "goings-on" since, he, like me was oh too familiar with the weird shenanigans that go on in the world of "bad management".

But another buddy (and fellow temp) Nancy K. noticed this trend and we were quick to pick up on it and comment on it virtually every day via IM (rarely verbal, since in the thin-walled world of the cube farm, everything can be overheard). Nancy, like Marshall, could very well see through the phonies in the office like Cheryl and we were constantly in awe of firstly, how really stupid and obnoxious she was but secondly, how she never seemed to get flack for all the blatant errors she did EVERYDAY! It was apparent then that the "coordinators"(former OSG-folk), CSRs with no company-official title above CSR, but with Kemmy-approved status...and that status meant they were (are) "untouchable", they can be as incompetent as shit, but they won't be on any "counseling" for will simply be ignored and/or tolerated.

I noticed today around noon that Nancy had logged off her system (we all have "a worldview" of the on-line status of our other "teammates" which is why, BTW, we can see that the coordinators are abusing the positions since their status of "unavailable" is visible by all).

Hours later she hadn't returned. I though "Great, she went home sick and now I have to walk home after work..." (Nancy, like Marshall before here had become my de facto chauffeur in the evenings each workday for a nominal "gas-money" fee.)

Around 2:00 though, Jill sent out an email to the team...

"EXIT....Nancy K(full name withheld for this blog) is no longer with [the company]." (You can figure out company name by researching this blog but I'm not just blurting it out! :)

Man, I freaked! She and I had IM'd so many rebellious messages and been so negative about the division of the office "society", I thought I might be next on the chopping block.

I pinged Jill and asked her what happened and she suggested I come to her office. We met for half an hor and she was all like..."well, Nancy was using call-avoidance techniques (which I knew about and more discreetly practiced myself...I mean the system is so easy to dupe, people!) and she was inappropriate to a customer (who, in this biz isn't at one point or another...Nancy's style wasn't confrontation, per se, as much as faking ignorance...but she did use the "mute" button often to self-vocalize juicy comments on occassion, something I almost never do since I know the "cube walls have ears").

So she was asked to meet with Jill, and knowing her personality, probably started breaking down (crying) when confronted. She was asked if she wanted to go home for the day and she agreed. Then, Jill talked with Kemmy about the incident and the decision was made to fire her.

Jill told me in my meeting that I had nothing to worry about and that noone would be "let go" without a prior warning of what "performance" needed "improvement". (But, methinks, for us temps, if infact there is any prior "warning", it is only one time)

So now, as suddenly as a Central Florida rain shower, my bud Nancy is gone. The idiots that were "vested" remain, and I am shaken yet again...reminded of the iCare times, as I mentioned in a post many months ago, and put "on guard".

No more will I "stare condescendingly" at morons like Cheryl and Andrew as they spew from their mouth such vile and hilarious crap...No more will I mumble "Attica!...Attica!...Attica!", as I did a while back when Cheryl "called out" my fellow temp Nina...No more will I IM anyone about how this office is a circus, run by asylum inmates and so stupid as to not know the impression it is surely making in the company...

I have seen what can happen to my fellow slave.

I will NOT admit that in my heart I am a proud Kunta Kinte!

I am sufficiently whipped!

My name be TOBY.

Friday, September 01, 2006

When Al Gore And I Invented This Thing...

It amazes me when, as rare as it is nowadays, I stumble across a person, or more usually, an entire family that has no conception of computers or the Internet. It is a cultural thing, I'm sure.

In the early days of computing, it was a socio-economic issue. The people who got personal computers had the financial means to afford the expensive things (remember, early PC's were generally always in the thousands of dollars price range, just for the basic the 80's, and even 90's, and yes, even now, this cost is prohibitive, especially if a person, or family percieves the device as extraneous and not vital.)

But now, for more and more individuals, it is less an economic issue as it is a cultural.

Like the minority of people who refuse to purchase a television on the basis that they feel it provides far more vices than have segments of the population opting out of the information age because computers [and their software and connections to the Internet] are vial machines bent on diseminating dehuminization, pornography, violence, radicalism, exploitation and crass commercialism.

The early Internet was a geek haven. For the first few years it was mearly a way of using the Usenet and posting so frequently to simulate chatting, since the "Big Guys"...CompuServe, Prodigy and the new guy, America Online charged high fees to use their services and exclusive chatrooms open only to other members.

IRC broke out later and spawned a rabid interest in computing.

When the Web entered the scene, it slowly, but surely, changed the world.

My friend John Chiafalo and I ran a small computer reseller business in these heady early days and the only reason we didn't "make it" was because neither of us had the capital or the drive to make it happen. The drive was the main part becaus in hind sight, with enough drive in the market back then, we could have convinced even the most conservative investors of a potential profit.

It was fun times though, and from John and another buddy Jeff Cooper, I learned much of the foundation of the computer business. But as we all know, that business evolves ever so rapidly as to make yesterday's stunning developments, today's ho-hum applications, and tomorrow's has-been archives.

Yes, I've been around since the begining. My first log in to a BBS was on a 9600 baud modem in April 1993. My first post on a Usenet newsgroup was about Fall of 1993. The first time I accessed a website was around May 1994. My first personal website was later that month and by June 1995, I had a business website with a link and presence from a new portal known as Yahoo.

I feel like the Old Wise Man on the Hill...but unlike knowledge systems of the past where what you know grows and matures and developes into valuble teaching tools for the next generation, this medium doesn't play that way.

Younger people today don't care where IMs, file sharing, mp3s, chatrooms, MMOGs, YouTube, cracks, warez, and VoIP came from, thet just care that they are there.

Alhough as Netizen's go, I am an Old Timer...unfortunately, my expertise is Old Time Centric as well.

I am a dinosaur and I will not metomorph into oil.