A long overdue check-in…

 

Well it has been a bit since I’ve graced the pages of my own blog.   I need to get myself back into the habit of more frequent updates.

What has life been throwing at me?    Mostly just work.   Been dealing with lots of performance issues with our database server.   Getting any reports to run has been really challenging.    But we’re making some progress, it would seem, as we actually got through last night’s updates before the start of business today.   For the first time in at least two weeks.

I’d like to think I had a hand in that, but aside from pushing two resource-hogging reports out to later in the day, I don’t think I really did.

Efforts continue, though, because while today went smooth, we’re not at a point yet we can consider sustainable.

 

On the home front not much is going on there.   Took Leia into the vet a week or so ago for her vaccinations.   She’s no longer rabid.   :)   Okay, well, she’s got her booster shots to ensure she never becomes rabid in the first place.    Along with canine distemper, porvo (or whatever that disease is called), and whatever else they injected her with.

She’s a trooper, but terrified of the whole affair.  Wouldn’t eat any of the treats she was offered.   Only wanted to be where I was holding her.    The look in her eyes while they were giving her the shot was kind of heart-wrenching.    I don’t like the “Daddy, please save me!” look.

After that, though, we stopped by the pet shop to get her food, and she got to take her first trip inside with me.   I’ve been reluctant as I was always worried she’d bark at everything and generally embarrass me.    She showed me just how well-mannered she can be.   (So now I know!  No excuses for misbehavior… much like you let it slip that yes, do you know how to sit and lay down!)     While we were there I checked in on grooming prices and decided to schedule her an appointment for later that day.

So we went back, and she was all happy about it until it was time to turn her over to the groomer.   Then it was back to the “Daddy!  Pick me up and Save Me!!” shenanigans.

She was, needless to say, quite thrilled when I came to retrieve her a few hours later.

For having no idea what I wanted her hair-cut to be, I think they did a great job.   Wish I had pictures, but she won’t hold still long enough.    (And now she needs another brushing.)

 

This past weekend I finally got all my Halloween stuff out of storage and to the house.   Started putting it all up, but it’s the 21st already and I’m really far behind.    Gonna be tough as I need to devote time this weekend to emptying out the rest of storage so i don’t have to keep paying for it.     This is my last weekend before my Oct 1 deadline.

On the plus side we figured out the tree situation for this year.   It’s stand was broken, and remains unrepaired.   Gabe insists he can fix it, but it’s been two years and he doesn’t seem inclined too… although I guess in a way, it kind of built me a new stand for it last night.   At least it has something to hold it up this year.   Won’t work outside Halloween though.    It’s black and is supposed to represent ‘space’ for my Star Trek Jewish Christmas Tree that goes up around yuletime.

 

The below photo (in addition to proving that I am indeed alive) I think best captures my reaction to the notion that I’ve been making any progress whatsoever on this Halloween thing:

Apparently the orange glow is flattering, as I was told this was a ‘hot picture’ of me.   So there’s that.   🙂

Angry Birds

 

Well, I’ve never played it, so I doubt it really relates, but I go for titles like that.

 

I think I’m feeling angry today.   I don’t know how else to describe my state of mind.   Frustrated maybe, but I don’t know that that is an actual feeling.

My most recent annoyance is about the sudden mandate that we all use up our PTO (paid-time-off) before the end of the year.    Basically we, as in the company’s leadership, hasn’t met its obligations to its shareholders, are facing some temporary (or so we’re told) fiscal challenges and needs to reduce its salary output for a few months to make up for it.

Basically I feel like the leadership here completely failed in their responsibilities and want to make that my problem.    Its not that i’m even directly impacted.    I’m suspect it took some threats to make happen, but at least we get to carry over 40 hours into the new year… but not a second more.    So basically our cap has been reduced for this year.    Makes me wonder if it’ll be the case next year too.    I use my time regularly so I’m not sitting on a huge PTO stock-pile and will easily roll into the new year under my new cap.

The problem is all those people with lots of time on the books have to take it…which just puts more burden on us who are left manning the ship.     My department would have a very difficult time of it anyway.    We’re already not adequately resourced, so ensuring that mandated vacations are done such as to preserve operational coverage is kind of a non-starter.   Even when everyone is in the office, we lack adequate operational coverage.     Unfortunately we have people who can’t take more than a day or two off at a time simply because there is critical work that goes undone as a result.  (I’m one of those people and I stress out in my off-time about what I’ll face when I return… and the really sad part is I inevitably come back to problems that my team really should have been able to handle without me but, for whatever reason, need me to hold their hand to get through.)  Yes, we need to do better at getting everyone cross-trained… but again, we’re already understaffed and by the time we feel we have our coverage trained to handle things, it’ll be the new year.

The rest of the year is just going to be more stressful at work.     I’m starting to really hate my job.   Not so much the work I do, or the people I work with, but what is increasingly seeming like gross-mismanagement.        (I have to wonder when what seems like half your workforce is a ‘manager’ or above…   that’s probably an exaggeration but we are very much a top-heavy company… maybe we should hold off on executizing our vice presidents—since that just means we gave them a big raise for them to continue doing the same job, whilst frontline employees can’t even get the full 1% of their raise due to some arcane prorating thing they tried to explain to me and failed to articulate with any sense.)

I’ve said it before, in feedback to leadership, that working here is a situation where the left hand of the company doesn’t know what the right hand is doing—except its worse because the left hand doesn’t even  have a clear picture of what its own fingers are up to.

So I guess I’m going back to job hunting.   

 

Unfortunately I was angry before this policy change was actually articulated such that we knew what they hell they were talking about.     My colleague raised another point.   Companies pull this kind of thing and then start lay-offs as soon as the new calendar year rolls around and they don’t have to pay out all that untaken vacation with the pink slip.

They’ve already crammed us from two floors into one.    Its  a nanny-state around here as it was, and that only made it worse, now that EVERYONE sits in the middle of the call-center.    Gotta keep the noise down.   Which i get, but we no longer have spaces conducive to the kinds of conversations we (who are not chained to our telephones) need to have to conduct our day-to-day operations.       Of course the irony that our VP of facilities wants to keep the place professional and presentable to our clients isn’t lost on me with all the clip-art heavy, be-my-mother notes plastered all over the place telling me to exercise the common sense I spent thirty years honing to super-human (by comparison, seemingly) levels.    I mean really.    Until recently every door had a sign demanding that it be shut slowly and not left to slam.     As we were in an all-hands site meeting discussing the impending consolidation it was stressed that that would be all the more important as those of us on the second floor got used to dealing with working around people on the phone.    I looked at the VP of Facilities and pointedly suggested employing a clever piece of inexpensive technology, called a door-closer, that could take the human out of that equation.

I think that whole exchange is pretty darn telling.

But that’s just what’s new (since I got to work) that’s bugging me.     I was angry when I woke up this morning.    I suppose some of that could be lingering annoyance from work yesterday, but I usually get over that kind of thing pretty quick when I get home.    Leia’s good for making me smile.

100_0078 
(Leia, eagerly awaiting me to pick her up so she can lick my nose.)

 

Note to gift-givers (but more likely for my future self):   I do need a new camera, but I want the one that deals with Leia’s green-eye problem…. “Red-eye” is worse for pets than people.

 

I think maybe part of it is resentment over some exciting new developments in my future home life that I’m still processing.    Well, hopefully they’re exciting.    I have misgivings, but only because it parallels something that happened before that I thought was good at the time and learned the hard way was one of the stupidest decisions of my life.

Although the plan of action actually addresses some of those lessons-learned-in-hind-sight and this should at least work out better than last time  (or at least blow up in my face in a new, never-before-tried way).

Well technically I’m not doing anything but probably moving (again) at the end of the year.   The boyfriend, however, will be entering into something a lot more obligating.  I’ll just be along for the ride.    It does affect me in profound ways but in the end I still have the ‘this just isn’t working’ option to extricate myself from a bad situation (I’m trying not to be a pessimist but I know that sometimes bad stuff does happen despite the best of intentions.)    Him, not so much.

Anyway, cryptic enough for you?    I’ll probably write more about it when things are more definitive and I’ve better processed my feelings on it.      Its one of those things that’s a really good opportunity for my man, and by extension me, but mostly him and I’m at the same time happy for him, and by extension us, but also concerned.    I probably should have slept on it for a week before indicating my willingness to go along…

Actually I’m all for it, i’m just not sure I’m personally ready for it, and all its implications, quite yet.    But I have some time to get ready.

 

That’s probably what’s bugging me the most.    In a way I feel coerced into something but at the same time  see the value in it.    If not for me, than for the one I love, and that’s something that I know is important to me.

Another Day, Another Snowing

Actually had some trouble getting to work today, but didn’t spin out too badly. Fortunately I had the road to myself at the time. Let’s just hope I can get out of here today.

Someone must have said something, as the property management has their crews out here in force today, shovling sidewalks. I trust the parking lot proper will be plowed shortly.

Its supposed to be steady snow through 1:00 though. Given my difficulties this morning, if we get a break, I think I may see about working from home this afternoon.

Wintery Friday

 

I tell ya.   Why is it that if its too dangerous to send our children to school, its perfectly okay to expect me to be out in this?   Does my age make me less-important than children?    I don’t think so.

Granted, it was only six inches or so of snow on the ground.  Not that bad out there.   I’ve been doing this every year for at least a decade now, so it doesn’t phase me all that much.   But at six inches, my low-to-the-ground car is about to its operating limits.

Roads only get particularly treacherous as I approach the office.   Our facilities are located on what are technically private roads, so the city isn’t plowing them.   We depend on the property management for clearing out not only our parking lots, but the streets we need to take to get to them.

Could they be bothered to get it done when people need to be using them?

Let’s just say I made it into work okay, but was legitimately concerned about being able to get out of here tonight to go home.    The concern is now null and void, as they literally just completed plowing out our parking lot.   My car won’t be trapped in snow higher up than its base.   Yay.

 

Of course it started its day off getting defaced.   I know Gabe was only trying to be helpful… but he totally destroyed the D and part of the E across my windshield.   Why on earth someone would take a scraping tool to vinyl stickers is beyond me.   I know I’ve mentioned it to him before that when scraping ice off my windshield, we avoid the top of it where all the lettering is located.     Guess he gets to go peel off the remaining lettering so I can buy a new decal and apply it.   If the weather ever improves.  Didn’t even last a year.      In the meantime I get to drive around something that looks stupid.   That and the windshield wiper blade (which is what I wanted his help reinstalling), he put on backwards so now I have this awful noise when the wipers on on.   

 

Yeah, its been that kind of day.    (The kind where the word ‘that’ won’t actually highlight so I can italicize it… requiring me to retype the same word twice, manually toggling style settings in the process.)

But really.   The attitude of this place.     Let’s plow the parking lots after all the cars are in them.    No regard to our safety and well-being getting to work.   We’re just expected to wake up even earlier and brave conditions when they’re even more dangerous.   Yet our children get to stay home from school because its too dangerous to have them out on the streets.      I don’t really mind that, but it would be nice if I could count on my employer to have my safety and well-being in mind.    

Success!

 

I feel the need to celebrate.   I have been, quite literally, working to fix a critical but problematic report for darn near a month solid now.

It mysteriously broke on the 8th of January, when we had a new, but big, client come onboard our new clinical platform.   Well, its a year old now, not sure we can still consider it new.

Anyway…   its just been a real pain.     Long days, late nights, weekends…   I haven’t had a true day off in about a month… even when I was home sick for most of last week.

(I’m dedicated like that, I guess.)

 

But today I finally triumphed over it.    Granted, I’ve had to split it out into three different reports.  The main one really was three subreports baked together.   Given how our database is setup, and how the platform itself tracks things in a manner inconsistent with how the business tracks things…  I essentially had a report building a database every day to obtain its numbers from.   This just was not sustainable.   Slowly it grew to consume more and more hours of processing time, not to mention server bandwidth.     All in all, it was just doing too much the way its written.

 

I do find it a bit amusing that all my problem reports are ones I didn’t actually develop, but inherited from people either no longer with the company, or at least no longer on my team (and thus no longer responsible for the report they built).

Those reports I personally developed?   No issues to speak of.   Garbage data, sometimes, but that’s a data integrity issue and not a report issue.

Of course these inherited reports are some of the most important ones for our operations division, so it goes with out saying I’ve been under a tremendous amount of pressure to get things working again.

 

Now that I have something stable running on a daily basis (three separate reports) I can focus all my energies into the permanent solution for this reporting… which is a database solution that puts all the data together for us, so our report isn’t trying to build that data on the fly every day.     I can’t wait.   Even though it means all the work for the last month will be scrapped and the reports all re-developed to use the new database solution.   

In the long run, my work life will be less painful.

Hiatus

 

Just thought I’d drop into my blog here, to say hello to everyone.    I’ve been holed-up at home most of the week.   Not feeling well, but starting to feel better.    Just gonna take things slow and easy for the next few days until I’m feeling like my normal self.

 

I can’t help thinking recovery might go swifter if I hadn’t spent a good chuck of that time telecommuting for work.   But one must weigh the stress of working with the stress of that work going undone and piling up for your return.

I opted for the prior.    Might have made a break-through in a reporting issue that has been plaguing me the past three weeks, but now all our source data is suspect so I don’t know.    The joys of my job.

(It has not escaped my notice that while the reports we have failing, are indeed ones I now own, I was not the original developer on any of them. Yet they continue to give us head-aches. Meanwhile those I did develop from scratch seem to be problem-free… well assuming the data is good… garbage in, garbage out.)

Sleepy at Work

I awoke this morning of the mind that getting up and going to work was somehow optional.   Thankfully my conscious mind snapped together and realized, NO… work is hardly an option.  Get up!

So I did.

And here I am.  At work.   So on with it….

Job Security

 

I got introduced to one of our VPs yesterday as “he’s basically our second in command over reporting.”

Not officially, but the first in command does leverage me as a quasi team-lead, especially in his absence.   

Always nice to get recognition, if not actually paid, for your extra effort.   🙂

Actually I’ve been approached twice now about whether or not I’d be interested in a people-managing type of role here.    I do have supervisory experience but have never had direct reports.   I was kinda on the fence about it, but lately am leaning toward getting my feet wet in that world.   If I don’t like it, I can always go back to an individual contributor role.

I tell ya, this place, while not my dream job, certainly pads the resume with extra experience to help me out down the road.   Fortunately I like it well enough I don’t have any immediate plans to move on.     Think I’ll just continue to sit back and see where this ride takes me.

Exciting News Everyone!

 

Today it pleases me to officially announce my promotion.   The word “Senior” is restored to my official title.   

When I started at this company a little over a year ago, I came in as a Senior Reporting Assistant.   It was a step (or two) down from my prior job as an operations analyst.   But times are what they are and having a paycheck is better than not having one.     Plus it was kind of cool to say, for the first time, that I was a Senior-something.    Looks good on the resume anyway.

But last Decemberish, I was informed I was being promoted to Data Analyst, which is more or less what my old job was prior to this place.    I was kind of sad to lose the word “Senior” since I hadn’t had it long, but a pay raise goes a long way in making you feel good about something.   

I’ve know another promotion was coming, but received the official word today.    I’m graduated to Senior Data Analyst.    More money is also nice.   🙂

Screenshots

 

The screenshot…  its a useful tool for those people like me who find themselves being everyone they know’s personal tech support for their windows machines.

You are probably well aware that hitting the “Print Screen” key on your keyboard will take the entire contents of your monitor and copy it to your windows clipboard, to be pasted into something as a bitmap image.   

This is all well and good, and for the most part serves peoples needs.   I, however, compute in a two-monitor environment  (maybe soon my home PC will be a three-monitor rig).    This makes the resulting screen shots a bit hard to read.    After all, there are two monitor’s worth of content to capture, and this results in a nice rectangular image, however when pasting it into something like Word, or Outlook, it has to shrink it to fit.   Trying to fit something that spans two-monitors already into a space that doesn’t take up a single monitor (you know, all those UI features on the side and top of your application taking up space) makes for a more-difficult-to-read screen shot.    I’ve always gotten around this by cropping the element of the screenshot I really cared about.   (Or really, in my case, using OneNote’s screen clipping utility that lets me capture only the piece of the monitor i want)

Well, this problem is no more thanks to a handy little trick I just learned.   Can’t believe I didn’t know this already… I’ve only been using Windows for over half my life-span now.

But anyway, holding down the ALT key while pressing the Print Screen (usually labeled PrtScr) key will have the screen shot it captures limited to only the active window (ie:  whatever program you currently have active).     This keeps the rest of your monitor’s display neatly out of the screen shot.

Its even quicker than OneNote’s screen clipping utility.