Thursday, March 28, 2013

My new favorite author bio

Found on Amazon:

Graeme Reynolds has been called many things over the years, most of which are unprintable. By day, he breaks computers for a living, but when the sun goes down he hunches over a laptop and thinks of new and interesting ways to offend people with delicate sensibilities. He lives somewhere in the UK with two cats, a flock of delinquent killer chickens and a girlfriend that is beginning to suspect that there is something deeply wrong with him.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Family

I first found this show on Netflix while searching for British comedies. Sadly, only the first 4 seasons are available in the US. The first thing I did when I got an all region DVD player for my birthday last year was order the rest of the series.

The show follows the exploits of the Harper family and a few friends over the course of the series. Ben, the father, is a frustrated dentist who loves his wife and children but wants them to go away and leave him in peace. Susan, his wife, is a tour guide & rotten cook, and a control freak with a rather wicked sense of humor. Their children are Nick (useless layabout), Janey (shallow fashionista w/loose morals), and Michael (unappreciated genius).

The first few seasons focus on getting to know the family. Ben wants useless lump Nick OUT of the house and self-supporting. Susan wants everything to be perfect and will use any means necessary to preserve the illusion that it is. Janey wants her parents to just endow her with a trust fund and quietly disappear, and Michael wants respect, power, a girlfriend, and for people to stop picking on him for being a geeky little dork.

Janey goes off to university, leaving a void, so the character of Abi is brought in. She's the daughter of Ben's cousin. Also joining the series is Roger Bailey, a not-so-succesful dentist who happens the be the son of Ben's old mentor. Both characters are naive, cheerful, and irritate Ben no end. And he's STILL trying to get rid of Nick. Then Janey comes home with her unplanned baby boy, Kenzo...

Nick leaves, but is replaced by his friend Alfie. Michael is still a geek, but having slightly better success with girls. Abi & Roger have fallen in love and married, Janey refuses to tell her parents who Kenzo's father is until he makes a surprising appearance, Susan's mother becomes a semi-regular and the whole family goes on the Weakest Link...

Alfie leaves, Nick is mentioned in passing, Abi leaves Roger to become a nun, Susan & Ben try a separation, Roger tries dating, and Janey becomes a surprisingly responsible adult, working and caring for her son, but still sponging off her parents. Michael graduates college but doesn't manage to get/hold a job, following in Nick's footsteps, but does succeed in surprising his family when he comes out to them. After years of bitter sniping, the series ends with the family in a somewhat good place, showing odd moments of love and affection for each other.

Lots of fun to be had here. Some of the more amusing moments are Nick's brief foray into drag, Ben's solo dance in the living room after losing a dance contest, and the aforementioned Weakest Link episode.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Weight loss and other pipe dreams...

So, my BFF Laura got brave the other day and made a post on her blog about her struggle with losing weight. I take my hat off to her, because she was brutally honest and that is something I've avoided over the course of my own posts. So, to show her that she is not alone, and to hopefully help get me back on track (I've gained back about 15 lbs of the weight I had succeeded in losing), I am going to be equally honest:

Hi. My name is Mickey and I am a big girl. I stand roughly 6'2 in my stocking feet and weigh 334 lbs. (as of Sunday morning) I suffer from myriad medical problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. Several of these condtions can be helped by my losing weight. I try, and make a concerted effort that results in great progress, but then get derailed, discouraged, and gain it all back.

Here's part of the problem- exercise. I HATE it. Part of it is psychological- I hear the jeers & laughter of my classmates in gym class in the back of my mind. I was a big child and totally uncoordinated and usually the last one picked for teams. Part of the problem is physical- due to arthritis & spinal degeneration, moving is often painful, which makes me want to do it even less. Logically I know that it will get better if i just DO IT, and I need to find a way to make that happen.

Part two- food. Total love/hate releationship here. I love food, and most of the foods I love are the things that I shouldn't eat as much of as I do. Like anything fried, especially pork chops. Portion control is something I need to work on. I've gotten better- two trips to the Chinese buffet as opposed to the 5-10 (seriously) that I used to make. A couple of slices of pizza instead of an entire large pizza. But when it comes to snacks, I have a harder time. If I open a large bag of chips, I will eat a large bag of chips.

There's more to come on this subject, but I want to wrap this inital foray up and get it posted. Buckle up, folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride, but we're going to go on it together!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stupid Moments in My Employment History, part 4

Although there have been several accountings of stupidity I've encountered at my current job (see anything tagged Dear Officer, for example) here's a story from my first year. Our supervisor at the time was a very nice, but only marginally competent woman (JT) who had been promoted well past the point of her ability simply because there was nobody else who wanted her job. As a result, she would harp on minutiae that she felt was within the range of her competence/control and drive the rest of us crazy. She was notorious for sending out incomprehensible emails and for being cheap & stingy with office supplies. I asked for a pack of post-it notes (she kept all supplies under lock & key in her office) and was asked what I had done with the pad I had been given 6 weeks before. "Um, I used it up and need a new one?" She only had large ones in the stash, so I was told to cut them in half to make them last longer. Seriously.

Another issue with her was the ordering of items we needed to do our jobs. I learned quickly that you had to tell JT we needed to order labels/envelopes/whatever WELL before we ran out or we'd never get them. Of course she'd still drag her feet about ordering whatever you asked for because "There's a whole case of them in the back." One of the worst things was the sharps containers...the plastic safety tubes that we give officers to put needles in so that nobody gets stuck with a possibly (probably) contaminated needle. She would wait until we were completely out and then berate us for not telling her we needed them. *headdesk*

We were in the process of packing & organizing things to be moved into our lovely new space. (sarcasm) One of the jobs I got stuck with was cleaning out a storage closet that only our office had a key to. It was where we kept cases of citations and random other items that we doled out to officers. Usually when she wasn't there to say no- she thought we should keep everything in case someone needed it. The whole point of them asking for stuff was that they DID need it, but that subtlety eluded her. We'd been out of the sharps containers for almost a month and JT kept dragging her feet on ordering more because "we're moving and they might not get here before we go." It's not like having them delivered after we were gone would have been a problem- we'd been in the basement of HQ and someone could easily be sent back there to get them as our new building was only 10 minutes away.

Anyway, as I dragged out boxes of old manuals from the 70's that were covered in dust 6 inches thick, and other crap of that ilk, I made a major discovery. SIX unopened cases of sharps containers! *happydance* I carried them into the office and gleefully cried "Hey, look what I found!!!" My coworkers were thrilled. Our Sgt & new Lt were laughing at our joy. Then JT came in.

"Oh no," she said, horrified. "We can't use those. They might belong to somebody. Go put them back."

She was serious. WHO THE HELL WOULD THEY BELONG TO IF NOT US?!? We were the only ones with a key to that closet. The boxes were covered with dust, had obviously been there a long time, and we needed the damned things. She was adamant that we shouldn't use them because they might belong to another department. Our Lt finally had to type a letter saying he would take responsibility for us using the containers if someone came looking for them and had a fit before she (reluctantly) agreed to let us keep them.

I can't make this stuff up, folks...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

187 Men To Avoid- Dan/Danielle Brown

187 Men to Avoid

There isn't much to this- just a list of the types of men a single woman should avoid. Examples include:

Men who "just want to be friends."

Men who think farting is cute.

Men who burn fake logs.

Part of me can't help thinking that a similar book written about women would probably have never been published. Also, I wonder what it says about me that some of the categories listed in the Men book apply to me?

FYI- I don't think farting is cute, but it can be funny as hell. One side of my family views it as a contact sport, so family gatherings are pungent, yet entertaining.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stupid Moments in My Employment History- part 3

This one happened about 18 months into my employment at the current job. I came back from a long weekend and was immediately summoned into the office. I was presented with a write-up form and told to sign it. Um, WTF?

Well, it seems that someone smarted off to an officer that came in to release some property. It was personal property under one name, and he wanted to sign a release for someone else to be able to pick it up. (correct procedure in a case like that) He was told he couldn't do that, the form was thrown away, and the person who was supposed to be able to pick it up was furious when they came down and were told they couldn't have it. They called and complained to the officer's commander, who yelled at him, and he called in the complaint on "me."

I say "me", because I wouldn't have done that. I asked what made them think it was me and was told that the officer gave them my name. I asked when it happened and was told that he came down on Friday (my regular day off at the time) and the complaint was made to his commander and then my supervisor on Monday. (which I had taken off)

I asked if the officer could have been mistaken about who he talked to. "No, he knew your name." Did he actually say it was me? "It had to be you, he knew your name."

I don't work Fridays, so it couldn't have been me. "It HAD to be you. The officer knew your name."

I was in another state on Friday, which is my normal day off, and it couldn't possibly have been me. "Are you saying the officer lied?" No, I'm saying the officer was mistaken about who the clerk involved was becasue I WASN'T HERE. "But he knew your name."

I have SIGNED credit card receipts from the gas stations & restuarants I went to in 4 different states for the 4 days I was off and it couldn't possibly have been me who did this. Give me 24 hours and I can get you video footage of me at the WWE events I was attending and a signed affadavit from Vince Mc Mahon. "But the officer said it was YOU."

Jeebus. Fine. Have the officer come down here and look me in the eye while he tells me that I did that on a day I wasn't in the freaking state. "We can't call officers down here for something like that. They're busy." The hell we can't! I am not going to be railroaded into taking the blame for something it was literally impossible for me to have done and I will not accept being written up for it.

My Sgt at the time overheard the argument and came into the office. SHE called the officer, who it turned out was off that day. She got his home number and called him there. When she finally got him on the phone, she asked him to describe the clerk who had created the problem instead of just giving her name. Lo & behold, the description he gave was NOT of me. It did match a coworker that I had been having problems with. Turns out the officer had our names mixed up. 

I could understand and accept that they would believe it was me on the basis of hearsay. If someone gives you a name, it's logical to think they know who/what they're talking about. But when an employee shows you concrete proof that they were not present for an encounter, WHY would you keep insisting they were at fault instead of trying to find out who actually was?!?  Oh, and the officer even came down later to apologize and told my supervisor that he had the totally wrong clerk.

Why do I stay at jobs where I get treated like this? Because I'm an idiot.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not a Good Day- follow up to Odds & Ends

Managed to drag my butt out of bed early and met mom at Peking Bistro for lunch. I have been thinking about that Mongolian Bacon & the meat/vegetable buns for months now and was finally going to get them. Wrong. They’ve discontinued the buns (but they’re still on the menu) and they were out of the meat for the other dish. Seriously?!? Settled for Mongolian Beef instead, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

The drive back across town took forever because there are snow flurries and everyone was acting like they’d never seen them before. I got to Starbucks at 2:10 and it was 2:22 before I got my drink. Luckily it was the one close to the office.

Got to work and the lot was full and it took me 5 minutes to get around the building to my usual spot because people parked like idiots again. As I’m pulling in, a police car coming from the other direction at full speed almost hit me. We got out of our cars at the same time and he started yelling at me about how I couldn’t park there because that spot is a loading dock. I said it used to be, but that door is now the back of the elevator shaft & doesn’t get used. The sign is still there, but it’s rusty and hanging by one nail. I park there every day. He said he didn’t care if I usually parked there, he was telling me I couldn’t park there now. I said fine, but kept going to the building as I was almost late. He followed me and said “Are you going to leave your car there?” I told him I needed to go in and let my boss know I was there. (didn’t mention that I was going to have my boss go tell him to leave me alone) He said “fine, but if it’s still there when I come back out, I’m giving you a ticket.” Then he pushes past me to get into the building first, walks into the officer room and tries to pull the door shut on me when I reached for it. I let him shut it and then badged in and walked in behind him. Claudia was in the lobby and said to him “Um, she actually works here, so you didn’t need to do that.”

I walked in past him and went to get my Sgt & Lt. I told them about his threats and they went out to deal with him. Well, he ran out the door after Claudia told him I worked here, leaving his rookie that he’d come down with standing there with his mouth hanging open. They caught up with him in the parking lot, told him that I park there and have parked there 4-6 days a week for the last 6 years and they’re fine with it. He then told them that I got nasty and swore at him and that’s why he threatened to give me a ticket. So then they had to come in and yell at me- they did admit that they think he just said it because he knew he was busted for being an ass, but they had to act on it since he DID say it. I wish I’d thought to point out that HE was parked in front of a sign that clearly said NO PARKING.

Odds & Ends

No review this week- am quite a bit behind on everything. So here's a list of things that have kept me from reading or are just cluttering my brain.

1. The IRS strikes again, so I won't be going to BEA this year after all. They claim I still owe them money, despite documentation to the contrary, so I expect we'll be fighting that out for a bit. Yay.

2. I have had more migraines in the last six months than I have for six years. Am not enjoying them at all and they can go away at any time. The smarter officers have learned that if I'm wearing my sunglasses in the office, trying to be funny is NOT a good idea. (today's symptoms include light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, dizziness, nausea, and unrelenting pain. This is a step up from Monday, which included auras and fainting, yet my boss still tried to make me come in until it was pointed out that he'd be violating our union contract by denying my sick day request)

3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (on top of migraines) seriously sucks. My house is in desperate need of cleaning/organizing and I can't get it done. I'm almost to the desperation point of asking my mother to help me.

3a. Laura & I went to the Needle Nest on Saturday to check out the new patterns from the Nashville Needlework Show. We had lunch & shopped, and were gone for maybe 4 hours. That was enough to wipe me out until Sunday afternoon. (The migraine kicked in late Sunday night) However, I did get some fun new stitchy stuff, including this little guy for keeping track of my needles:

3b. As a result of being worn out from my brief excursion, I still haven't gotten my Mongolian Bacon. Waah. Mom has promised to get me some for lunch one day this week IF I can drag myself out of bed early enough to meet her there before work.

4. My beloved high school BFF, Drew, signed me up for a Facebook group for our 25th reunion. OMFG- 25 years. What amused me is that most of the people listed on the group page were in the class before us or didn't go to the school at all. Too bad that I still don't give a shit about most of those people. I kept in touch with the small handful of people that I cared about and have NO intention of participating in this lunacy. Remind me to kill Drew later...

5. Got these t-shirts in the mail this week:

I love Woot Shirts and it had been almost a year since I bought any. These 2 were too good to pass up.

I think that's about it for now. More later...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stupid Moments In My Employment History- part 2

Shortly after the heart attack incident, our bookstore moved. The property owners were re-developing the property and we were being moved into a 3 level area across the lot from our existing location. We were literally loading carts with books and pushing them across the broken asphalt of the parking lot to the new building and/or hauling bookcases. Well, some of us were. The in-crowd got to sit on stools and supervise.

Much to my amazement, I managed to get through the entire experience without any injuries more severe than broken nails and numerous bruises. So, of course, I tripped over a box in the warehouse of the new building and severely sprained my ankle AFTER we had re-opened for business.

Did you catch the bit about the new building being 3 levels? We now had a customer service desk on each level as well as the main cash register bank on the middle floor. The lower level was the smallest area, the music/video department and not heavily trafficked during the week. The other two desks were where the bulk of the books were and involved a lot of walking to get to anything. Also, the elevator wasn't working yet, so we had to take the stairs to each level. Since I was under doctor's orders (which my bosses had copies of, since it was a worker's comp issue) to walk as little as possible and keep weight off that ankle, I asked if I could either be assigned to the registers or lower service desk as much as possible until it healed. I could sit on a bar stool at either of those locations without it being obstrusive and still work. I also offered to do the jobs most people hated- stickering/destickering best sellers, pricing gift & accessory items and the like, since they needed to be done and it would be easy for me to work on them at either spot since I couldn't run around the store to help customers. Ideally, I would have stayed home until the ankle was better, but we didn't have paid sick leave and I couldn't afford the time off, so I thought I was offering some reasonable compromises.

The first day, good old Cleve (remember him?) took great delight in scheduling me at Main Service and Upper Service for the whole day. We all knew this was deliberate, but I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of begging for a different assignment. I *DID* ask if I could have a stool to sit on between customers and this was grudgingly allowed.

Day 2- Scheduled for the two heaviest service desks all day again. Gritted my teeth, got my stool, and tried to tough it out. Customers saw me limping around as I slowly & painfully made my way around the store to fill requests or show them where things were and asked why my bosses didn't give me an easier job. I mumbled something noncommittal and soldiered on. Until I came back from lunch and the stool was gone. Cleve & Bonnie (our GM) were waiting for me and he had a truimphant sneer on his face. Bonnie reminded me that employees were not supposed to have stools on the sales floor because sitting around was against (unwritten) policy. Um, I have a sprained ankle and I'm NOT supposed to be standing on it. "Did you ask if you could have a stool today?" Nooooo, I kind of thought it was obvious that I was going to need one wherever I was assigned until my ankle healed. "Well, you can't just take it upon yourself to bring stools onto the sales floor. You HAVE to ask EVERY day until you're better. Since you didn't ask today, this is going to have to be written up for your personnel file and we're taking the stool away for the rest of your shift." Seriously?

Day 3- same as before, but I asked for permission to have my stool. "How long is this going to be going on?" Um, until my ankle heals, and every day that I spend limping around this damned store, up & down stairs is going to make it that much longer for it to heal. It might help if I could be assigned to the register or lower service as I requested. "You don't decide schedules or how jobs are assigned, that's our job." And then I was written up for insubordination.

Day 4- same schedule, but amazingly none of the stools could be found when I went to get one. Right. I've had enough of this. So, unbeknownst to me, had one of the other assistant managers. HE called the owners and raised hell. A very panicked Rahm (one of the other owners) raced into the store and saw me limping back across the sales floor to the desk from a trip up to level 3. Cleve & Bonnie were summoned to the offices upstairs. 20 minutes later I was sent to lower service with a stool and told that I would be assigned down there until the doctor cleared me to be running around. Rahm not only read the managers the riot act about violating my doctor's orders, he removed both notes from my file and made them come apologize to me on the main floor in front of everyone. I graciously accepted that (okay, there was some smirking) and reiterated my offers to work at the registers if needed (as long as I could have a stool there) and the stickering projects. Rahm was pleased that I was willing to try to do things to make myself useful while on restricted duty and commented to Bonnie & Cleve that THEY should have thought of things like that themselves. (yeah, still not endearing me to the bosses)

Of course I knew that the ONLY reason Rahm was taking my side is that he was afraid I would file a lawsuit against the store. I found out later that D (the manager who called him on my behalf and who was in law school at the time) pointed out that there could be legal ramifications  for them violating doctor orders, especially on a workman's comp case. Heh.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fifty Shades Of Chicken- FL Fowler

Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook

Bwahahaha. Someone finally took the concept of food porn seriously. This is a cookbook parody of the supremely lame 50 Shades series. The recipes look doable, the writing leading up to each recipe is much better than the books it lampoons, and overall this wasn't bad at all.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You want your crap? Come Get It!

We send out fairly detailed letters when we have someone's personal property or an item is slated to be released. Despite this, we keep getting the same stupid phone calls asking what the item is. So I've created a simplified version that I think will work, but I can't get authorization to implement it. Don't know why...what do y'all think?

Prospective Property Letter

Dear Suspected Criminal/Possibly Innocent Victim:

Come get your shit.

(description of shit the person may have)

You have 3 months to come get it or we throw it in the trash and you are shit out of luck.

LMPD Property Room

P.S. We don’t care how it got here, why it got here, or about your life story. Don’t call us and flap your yap, just COME GET YOUR SHIT.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stupid Moments in My Employment History- part 1

The last bookstore I worked in was run by a collection of cliques. If you weren't part of the various in-crowds, you were pretty well screwed. Everything from the shifts people worked to the music that was played in-store, was determined by a few people. Now, we all have those moments, the ones where you want to look around for the hidden cameras because SURELY the events transpiring before you can't seriously be happening. Here are a few of mine from working there:

1. My mother called me at work one afternoon, about an two hours before my shift ended. This was almost unheard of- Mom believes that if you are at work, you should be working and personal phone calls should be in case of emergency only. So when my coworker told me it was my mom, I knew something was wrong. It was. Dad had suffered a heart attack. He seemed to be ok, but they wanted me to know what was going on. I numbly hung up the phone and burst into tears. Luckily I was in the special orders office, out of customer sight. One of the SPO guys tried to calm me down while the other one ran to get the manager on duty, who I will refer to as Cleve. Cleve stomped into the office, ignored the fact that I was an uncharacteristically sobbing wreck,  and informed me that I needed to go work at the service desk so his girlfriend could take a coffee break with him. "I need to go home- to North Carolina. My father has had a heart attack." He rolled his eyes and said "You don't need to go now. Get your crap together and get out to the desk." And then he stomped back out.

The SPO guys were furious. I was hysterical. Just then, Audrey, one of the store owners (and the only one I would give you a nickel for to this day), came in. She took one look at me and asked what was wrong. Pat & Mike told her about my bad news and Cleve's response to it. "Oh, we'll see about that."
Bless her, Audrey went out to the service counter and ripped old Cleve a new one in front of God and everybody. We could actually hear her yelling at him in the back. (this didn't endear me to him, BTW, even though it was his own fault) Then she came back and told me I could go home and not to worry about my schedule for the week. I could go to NC and to let her know when I was coming back and she'd make sure I was put on the schedule properly. (She knew they'd try to jerk me around otherwise) Then she asked if I needed money since she knew payday wasn't for a few more days. I hadn't even thought that far and realized I only had about $20 to my name and that was NOT going to get me to NC. Audrey told me to wait there, went out to the registers and cashed a check, came back and handed me $100. "Is this enough?" She also made me promise not to try to make that drive until the next morning, after I'd had time to calm down. 

To this day, I adore Audrey. My only regret about quitting my job there is that I don't get to work with/for her anymore. She was the only one of the four owners who genuinely gave a damn about the employees.