Wednesday, November 28, 2012

*High five*

Some days at work I am in the building where my official cubicle/desk is, with the team of people who are quiet and geeky, who walk past me in the morning looking at the floor and not saying Good Morning.  And some of them look a little surprised if I manage to say Good Morning to them as they go by.

It seems like most of the people who are in that part of the building are quiet and geeky.  The IT people, the Voice Services people, the contractors from an outside technical company.  Most of them are men, and many of them are Indian, all of them walk around tapping on their phones without looking up.  The ones who aren't actually carrying around open laptops, anyway.

One day I walked through the parking lot and arrived at the door just ahead of an Indian guy.  I beeped my card and the door unlocked and I opened it for him, standing behind it.  He looked kind of stricken, and stood there in front of the doorway trying to persuade me to let him hold it for me.  I smiled at him in my impersonation of a friendly office worker, and tried to make a little joke:  "I can be a gentlemen." He finally went through the door, looking so sad I ended up feeling bad about it.

Some days I work in the building where the call centers are.  The main call center I work with is a fairly high pressure sales environment, with incoming calls that are all identical, so every single call is the same spiel, and the vast majority don't buy.  They are expected to maintain a 6% sales average, which means 94% of the callers don't buy from them.  That's depressing.  They get an hourly wage, but they also get commission, and everyone is very focused on sales.  They have upbeat music coming from dozens of built-in speakers in the ceiling, and the supervisors and the managers walk around yelling (yelling) COME ON PEOPLE, TODAY IS A GOOD DAY, LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN, LET'S BRING IN THOSE SALES, WE CAN DO IT!  *clapclapclapclapclapclap*  WE CAN DO IT!  They have smaller incentives that vary by day: make three sales today and get an extra $50, sell a particular destination and get $25 per sale; and bigger incentives, like every sale during a quarter is one entry into the drawing, and the prize is a car.  (A nice car, too.)

I kind of like it there, although it is really hard to focus on figuring out how to solve a problem or put together a complicated spreadsheet.  People smile at me, and say Good morning or Happy Friday.  Probably a dozen people have come up to me and just introduced themselves, shaking my hand and looking into my eyes.  If I stay over there for a whole day, I am almost guaranteed at least one spontaneous and sincere high five.

I kind of like the high fives.

The other call center I worked in today for the first time.  It is people making outbound calls, which is much, much more difficult.  They have dozens and dozens of calls every day, and if they are doing good they make one or two sales.  They get hung up on a lot, even though these people are actually customers of my company who have expressed interest in hearing about a timeshare.

So this call center is even more focused on being energetic and positive.  At the beginning of the day, they have a 5-minute motivational speech given by someone who stands up on a desk at the front of the room and leads everyone in a pep rally that involves a lot of yelling, hooting and clapping.  Everything is positive, everyone is smiling, everyone is talking about what a great job people are doing. The music is extremely high-energy dance music, and it's extremely loud.

I was looking forward to the energy, but it wore me down after a couple of hours.  I waited until today to spend time there because today I had a lot of fairly mindless data-entry type stuff to do, but even still it was so hard to concentrate.

These people are even more outgoing and friendly.  One guy who had a smile that reminded me of Arsenio Hall came up our of nowhere and asked me to help him with an Excel spreadsheet (I think my laptop made him assume I was IT).  Another person just randomly handed me a chocolate candy, and multiple people introduced themselves and shook my hand.

I'm kind of fascinated by the different personality types in the sales departments vs the technical departments.  I know which one I'm more likely to fit in with, but I also know which one I have more fun in.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I saw a post on Twitter referencing people wanting to secede from the United States, so that's it.  I am officially on a news break.  And for me, being on a news break means not listening to NPR in the car and not reading news stories online. Good bye!  If we go over that fiscal cliff I am sure someone will notify me.

*Warning: Breaking Bad spoilers possible*

I've been looking around on Tumblr lately, and though I still haven't really gotten the hang of it, I have found a lot of Tumblr pages that are fascinating.  With any kind of social website, your own experience depends solely on the others you choose to interact with; for example, though I saw a lot of posts where my Facebook friends wrung their hands over the vitriol they saw on their feeds,  but on my own newsfeed I saw very little and can assume those people didn't choose their FB friends carefully enough.  Having said that, my overall feeling about Tumblr is that it attracts a lot of arty, geeky, poetic types. Which I like.

One of my favorite things on Tumblr so far is the Breaking Bad fan art page.  WIN.  Link:  Breaking Bad fan art.

A few good examples:

Digital fine art

Graphic art


Handmade Heisenberg doll

I need to print this one out and put it up on my desk at work

A lot of the artwork features this quote

I would totally wear these

Even Halloween costumes!

It's interesting to see what people were inspired by. A lot of the art is about Heisenberg. He is the one who knocks.  Don't all of us kind of want to be the one who knocks?  I think the transition between Mr. White and Heisenberg is something we fear, or maybe hope, is deep within all of us. I think the idea that we could be the one who knocks, but only sometimes, is the trap.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I had a meeting with my boss today.  This is my hands-off, non-bossy boss.  The one for whom I've worked for 3 months now with exactly 3 meetings, 0 emails and 0 phone calls.

I like working independently, I really do.  I do also have a tendency to think the worst. I am not exaggerating when I say that when I tried to imagine how this meeting might go today I teared up slightly, thinking about how I would feel if I got fired.

Did I mention I was the one who called this meeting?  Anyway.  Not only did I not get fired, but my boss praised my performance so far and talked about the possibility of my taking on a larger role within the company.


We also chatted about the election, and he said that he couldn't vote: He's Canadian.  What?  Those Canadians are positively indistinguishable from regular people; I had no idea.  I told him I voted already, and he seemed to be curious, so I told him: I am a Democrat, I said, a liberal, and - after a slight hesitation - an atheist.

Me, too, he said.  Right down the line, check check check, he said.  What?  I work for a Canadian democratic liberal atheist?  Wow.

He's thinking of becoming an American citizen, just so he can vote.  He spent a few minutes ranting about how Obama's health care plan is not socialism, and how Obama is sure to win 300+ electoral college votes even if he doesn't win the popular vote (ha). I'm not sure it's really a good idea to rant about politics in an office setting.  Or maybe it is okay, but only when they agree with me.

I feel more comfortable and more encouraged at work now.  So that's good.  Now if only my chosen candidate (aka, the right candidate) wins tonight, it'll be a great day all around.

Obama has seemed so much more like a regular person than other politicians. When I found out he was a Mac guy, my opinion of him went up a notch. When I found out he'd read all the Harry Potter books, up another notch. Weirdly, when I found out he was a smoker, he seemed all the more human, not like someone who had been raised from birth to rule America, and went up another notch.  But the thing that really got me was when I found out that he was a member of a book co-op in Chicago.  I had never even known such a thing existed before: a co-op,  for books!  Wow, what life must be like in the big cities, I tell you.  But what does it say that Barack Obama was a member of a book co-op?

Well, I love him for that, I really do.  I voted for him, and I will feel genuine joy and hope for the future of our country when he wins tonight.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Red Wine > Steamed Broccoli

It's our Halloween tradition to watch a classic horror movie on Halloween night, and this year we watched Nightmare on Elm Street.  I had never seen it, and Greg hadn't seen it since the video store era (aka, somewhere in the 90s).

Johnny Depp was in it.  It took me the first half hour of the movie to figure out why he looked so different, but I finally placed it: ungroomed eyebrows.  He was 21 when NoES (as it's colloquially referred to in the horror community) was filmed, but looked about 14.  Now you've heard about the high points and don't need to actually watch the movie.

I'm kidding.  It does have an interesting plot; the idea of dreams being able to physically harm you is fascinating and genuinely terrifying. It's a pretty typical 80s horror movie with cheesy lines and bad acting, which I am given to understand is a selling point.

We don't have a lot of Halloween traditions, since we don't have kids and we don't live in a neighborhood that gets trick-or-treaters, so we do kind of look forward to our annual scary movie night.  We had popcorn with butter, which was a real treat.

We've been counting calories eaten/burned by using the Lose It app, and so far I've lost about 15 pounds and Greg has lost about 20.  I actually had to go shopping yesterday to buy new pants to wear to work, even my "skinny" pants are getting kind of baggy.  The good side of losing a little weight: new pants. The bad side: I also need to get new bras.

One cool thing about the Lose It app is that it adjusts the daily calorie goal as I lose weight. I'm now down to 1,302 calories per day, which is pretty restrictive.  Well, it restricts stuff I want to eat, like bread and potato chips and red wine, I can eat pounds of steamed broccoli.  I do not wish to eat pounds of steamed broccoli, though.  I do have fresh strawberries and a baggie of baby carrots and low-fat yogurt ready to take to work with me tomorrow for lunch, which isn't bad.  Greg and I try to eat stuff we like, too, just less of it. We have beef stew cooking in the crockpot right now.

Of course, we are now entering the time of year that is the very worst for trying to count calories. I may go without eating for one entire day if it means I can have some eggnog.  Priorities, you know?

Speaking of Johnny Depp, how much does Adam Ant look like him in this photo?

Mr. Ant

Adam Ant's birthday was yesterday and he turned 58.  He looks great, as he always did.  I think the thing that scared me the most about the few pictures I saw of him during his highly medicated time was how boring he looked. Adam Ant not wearing something creative/strange/punky/weird is kind of unthinkable. He's now back touring the UK, his US tour having gone amazingly well with positive reviews and sold-out shows, and at his concert last night the audience sang Happy Birthday to him.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Life of a Kitty

I often genuinely wish I could spend a few hours every single day just lying in a sunbeam.