Which brings me to a fairly interesting remark -- a friend of mine from a Pern-themed game (you know who you are) did a Tarot reading for me a while ago, right after the psycho ex-girlfriend did her massive mega-dump over voicemail. In a way, I was sort of expecting what I was told, yet in other ways I was completely amazed by the things she told me based on the cards. I'm lead to believe that part of what makes a good Tarot reading is familiarity of the readee by the reader (I beg that those of you who are familiar with Tarot cards and readings: please don't hurt me for butchering terms so badly). It was surprisingly accurate, all things considered, and if I'd have been smart I would have logged it so I could go back and see just how many tick marks I'd have to put in the "correct" column, and if memory servers I'm fairly certain it'd be quite a large percentage. I should ask her to do another one for me some time in the future, if only for amusement's sake.
Today's workday was both amazingly frustrating and astonishingly fulfilling. Every Tuesday is my manager's "Weekly Staff Meeting." This is something that most people in the corporate world dread: sitting around in a meeting room, listening to others drone on about their projects, then presenting your project, getting useless feedback and then waiting through everyone else again.
Sweet Jesus, do I wish ours were that productive.
Inevitably, every week our meeting starts out with my manager giving some random, pointless pep-talk about how far our groups have come, how great it is to be working for the company in this "critical stage" of business, how much change we can bring about or how some decision or another he has made will bring about change the likes of which haven't been seen since man discovered fire. This routine is something that Randy and I have lovingly dubbed "Getting out the pom-poms." It's nothing more than cheerleading on the manager's part, and nearly everyone can see through it -- he's using it as a cover, a way to make us feel good about him or see him as some great bringer of light (which he isn't) and/or forget about the major problems that are facing us as the top crisis because other things are going so well (we don't). It's always the same chant, it's always useless, and it's completely frustrating. I usually sit quietly through it, sip on my coffee, and sketch in my notepad. I'm slowly honing some doodle skills into something that resembles the ability to draw recognizable objects. And it's all thanks to my sitting around in a meeting room for an hour and a half!
Anyways, cheerleading time was over. What was fun was he walked right into one of the topics I wanted to confront him on: deployment of a back-office DNS solution throughout the company. Thus begins the back-and-forth between he and I, lobbing questions between one another like grenades with the pins pulled, sending them back with some clever barb or blunt answer. My modus operandi for this meeting (after I got done seething beforehand) was to be "sweet, dumb and innocent." I pulled it off fairly convincingly, I think, though at the end my contempt and dislike of him was oozing over the conference table like somebody's triple mocha latte. Anyways, less digress and more recount: He asked me if I had a project plan. I told him no, but Randy (who is out for training this week) had turned in a server configuration to be approved and purchased. That stumped him, so he changed the topic by asking if I knew if Randy had a project plan done. I responded that I wasn't Randy's keeper -- point for me. I mentioned that this project had magically gotten a completion date slated for September 15th. The manager said yes, he'd chosen that one. I informed him that I felt that date was impossible at best, and that to pull it off we'd have to bring in quite a few consultants. He said he knew that. Manager 0, Panther 2, because he just admitted in front of the entire department that he had picked an arbitrary date and that it was not going to come off very well. At this point the manager dived for cover by extolling the two new regional network engineers he had hired, how they were going to help lighten my group's workload and aid in troubleshooting. Bust out those pom-poms again, guys!
After fifteen minutes more of that, we got the grand announcement that Allied Riser (who provided a 5Mbit fiber service to the Internet for us) was closing its doors on broadband. At this point he made the brash statement that another company, called XO, was picking up all their service. Ding! I chime in, "Um, no, actually. Dan and I talked with ARCC, and they said they haven't sold a single piece of equipment to XO. They've sold nothing at all, actually. They just recommend XO as an alternative provider, but I think we should stay away from them because they're $1.2B in debt, give or take." Manager 1, Panther 3 now, because we've explained this to him before. Which let me raise other concerns. He'd marked my project list all to hell with a red pen and handed it back to me before the meeting (hence my seething... I swear, this guy wanted to be an English professor, the way he hacked up that sheet). "Um, I've got a question about something you wrote on my sheet... you said "Court Order Needed" next to my project to move the corporate website in to the office and off the commercial server. Can you explain that?" The manager willingly tosses himself into my trap like a moth to a two-billion-watt Halogen bulb. He explains how he talked to Network Solutions about another company owning our domain, and how to get it released to us it'd take this court order, and all this other insanity. So after he extolls all this to my coworkers I politely clear my throat and ask in my most sweet-and-innocent voice, "So... why do I need a court order to move a website on a domain we own?" BAM, point for the panther, because he's just proven he couldn't read and understand the three lines in my project description that said "Migrate the WWW.DEVRY.COM website from commercial hosting to local server. Currently waiting for word from the web group. This should go exactly the same as the www.devry.edu migration." I had one or two other glib remarks to make at his expense (always trying to appear helpful and offer only "corrections," not slapdowns) the rest of the meeting.
I walked out of there feeling quite uplifted -- while I hadn't struck any major blows, I'd gotten to take a few good shots at him, let the others see just how bad (read: clueless and prone to micromanagement that prevents him from seeing the "big picture") a manager he is, and discredit him some more in the meeting without any skin off my nose. These festivities certainly made up for the incredible pissoff he'd given me earlier that morning. I even was able to prevent him from foisting some work off on me (writing the DNS project timeline) by stating, quite truthfully, I had trouble tickets in my queue that had to be attended to, leaving him to do the managerial work of writing a project plan. Ahh, bliss. I still think, however, that I'm going to call in sick every other week on Tuesday just so I can avoid these little jack-fests. Two a month are quite enough for me, but when he kicked into micromanagement overdrive and decided we had to have weekly meetings to suffer in I decided to draw the line.
The rest of the day went by fairly uneventfully -- we had some problems on the network, I had a user ask me a question that I'm not quite certain I can answer in a satisfactory manner, and I got drawn into a powerstruggle at one of our campuses. Pretty much par for the course.
Twan and his GF have left the state for the next two days so that they can attend a funeral for somebody in Twan's family -- I didn't get details, nor did I press for them. Ameritech's techs will be out here on Thursday to assign a new pair for my replacement SDSL line. I'm hoping Covad can keep it together on this one, if they go out of business I'm completely out of DSL options and just plain screwed (see earlier rant).
Tomorrow is another day, and I have more meetings. Yay. *fingertwirl* Ah well, I'll survive and perhaps even have some new material to rant about.
It's also damned hot in this apartment -- the AC isn't kicking on for some reason. Lousy themostats.
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on