Wednesday, December 29, 2004


As I left for lunch, B**** (the person I had only recently trained) talked to me in the hall and D*****. It would seem that B**** was on a call and, being new and not knowing the answer to the caller's problem, he asked a co-worker for assistance.

D***** made a "scisors-finger" gesture. I know that to D***** that clearly means "You're taking too long on this call, cut it short." B**** said "what" because he honelstly didn't know what D***** meant. D***** screwed up his face in a classic "D'uh" expression and gestured with both hands, clearly implying that B**** was stupid for not knowing what was meant. And this was not the first time he's done something like this to B****.

What's worse is that B**** told me that this sort of behavior is recent, say in the past two weeks which, by an astonishing coincidence, is when D***** stuck his foot in his mouth concerning me.

So, either D***** has not learned his lesson and while he is keeping away from me, he is still being a bad manager to everyone else.

Or, he hasn't learned his lesson and is taking out his frustrations on the person I just finished training. Would it be too speculatory to say that he hopes to reate questions about my value by defaming the people I've trained? Two weeks ago I wouldn't have thought so but now I am not so sure.

I told B**** to write it all up with dates and times and to send it to the Help Desk Manager and HR Contact. I'm tempted to go to them right now with this but I think B**** should present it in his own words. I told him to tell them that he spoke to me about this and I advised him to speak to them. Once that ball starts rolling, I will weigh in with my own opinions.

I'm pretty think skinned and D***** cannot truly embarass me in public because most everyone knows how he is but I'll be damned if I'll allow him to take it out on someone else.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A Wonderful Life

I don't know if you've been watching this story on the news but several weeks ago, the building manager of 927 Fifth Avenue in New York City had the nest of a mated pair of Red-Tailed Hawks torn down from his building. These marvelous birds, named Pale Male and Lola, have been living at this posh Manhattan location for over a decade and had raised over 20 children. They were famous celebreties, like apartment neighbor Mary Tylor Moore and Woody Allen across the street.

Someone (who has never been named) complained about the bits of debris and pidgeon carcases that occasionally fell from the nest and, the building manager, hoping to avoid any problems with the rent payer, tore the nest down and removed the pidgeon spikes, which would prevent the nest from being rebuilt. Of course, without the pidgeon spikes, the pidgeons would return to roost on the ledge eventually. I suppose he thought by then the Hawks would have moved somewhere else and become someone else's problem.

Well, he had problems of his own. There was a tremendous outcry. Over the weeks as Pale Male and Lola made futile attempts to rebuild their home, hawk watchers and nature lovers lobyed to have the nesting site restored. The Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The New York Times and thousands of vigil sitters converged on the cause of returning Pale Male to his home.

As a resident of the less urbanized Pittsburgh area, hawks are a common site. Nature isn't so far removed as the suburbs have deer in the yards, hawks in the sky, turkey in city parks and we even had a bear come through the area a few years back. I can only imagine the horror of a city dweller, encircled by glass and concrete, suddenly waking to find that the one piece of nature in his neighborhood was torn out overnight.

Our own urban pride is a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons atop the Gulf Building downtown. ( Unfortunately, their nest is not visible from the office windows where I work but I see them from time to time diving past the windows. A distinctive silouette caught for a moment out of the corner of the eye. I would be outraged if some pinhead decided to tear down their nesting box. I feel pangs when the Gulf Building decides to remove the webcam TV from their street-level window, even though they do so when the nest is empty and there's nothing to see.

Christmas Eve brought the best news. The spike were going back up and, if Pale Male and Lola hadn't already decided to move somewhere else, a new nesting platform would be waiting for them to move back to their home.

And it's our home, too. We need this connection to the rest of the world, to remind us that we are not the world's masters but its caretakers.

I was asked, "How would you feel having dead pidgeons falling on your doorstep?"

"Every time a pidgeon dies, an red-tail gets his wings."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Product Review: Sugoi Matrix Leg Warmers

Biking to work in the winter in Pittsburgh means it'll get cold. Typically, I've been using a lay of cotton long underwear under by bike shorts or, when the temperature gets down in the 20's, I'll throw a pair of BDUs over that.

Cotton Kills! That is the cry of all the outdoor pundits and, in some ways they are right. when cotton gets wet it rob your body of heat and you can have hypothermia problems. I wouldn't worry about this on a commute into work but the thing I am concerend with is bulk. For the afternoon commute home when the temperature has risen 20 degrees I have the the pants to carry home. It'd be more convenient to have something that would do the same job but pack smaller.

I had a coupon and so ordered the Sugoi Matrix Leg Warmers.

The description said that they would "add 10 degrees" so since I normall wear shorts down into the 30's I hoped they would be able to pretty much serve me for the winter. In all honesty, they did not perform as well as the cotton long underwear I got from K-mart for a couple of bucks. They did nothing to stop the wind and I think that, because they were so close to the skin they didn't allow a pocket of warm insulating air like the quilted cotton long underwear did.

With a 40 degree air temperature and rain I felt more comfortable with bare legs than I did with the so-called leg warmers.

And while they stayed up all right when riding, the gel edging around the top did not hold them up well when walking. Now I know why women wear garter belts for stockings.

I notice now that the "add 10 degrees" statement is gone from the description. One of the reviews on the site says "Ok for temps 50-65 degrees". I'm sorry, but at those temps I'm still wearing shorts. If they don't do me any good in the 30 to 40 degree range they just aren't worth it. I'm just glad the coupon paid for it and I didn't throw my money away.

I'll grade the Sugoi Leg Warmers with a "D".


I received a call this morning from John Manuel who claimed to be from UBS asking to be transferred to 800-444-5656. I said that I could not do that as it is against company policy. He asked to be transferred to the Data Center. I again refused, saying that it was against company policy. He asked "Why" and I reiterated that it was against company policy.

Then he said something like "company policy" but slightly different, as if he had misunderstood what I had said. I repeated "company policy" and he again "misheard". He then started cursing and swearing at me, calling me a motherfucker and a nigger, saying that that in a way that made me think he knew it was an insult but didn't know that it was racially specific. He laughed as he amused himself with his insults of me. Eventually he tired of my silence and put me on hold. I hung up after that.

Of course, this John Manuel person doesn't really work for UBS. This is apparently some sort of scam where the caller eventually gets the access to dial the number himself and uses a flaw in the system to make a long distance call for free. Look at the Snopes website ( to see how this is supposed to work.

So, here is more ID10T action. . . . This is the same guy; I recognize his voice and accent. He keeps using the same name and company, making it very easy for word to get around The Bank and The Help Desk to be on the look out. He keeps calling The Bank even though he's being stopped regularly. And even when he is transferred (under the watchful eye of Corporate Security) and tracked, he is unable to complete his call. This has been going on for weeks and I can only imagine that he keeps trying because he is more often successful than not.

I wonder how entertaining it would be to transfer him the FBI.

Monday, December 20, 2004


I came in this morning to a waiting e-mail from D*****, sent to my work e-mail box Sunday afternoon.

There are times when people say things that are insensitive, arrogant, and obnoxious without thinking about the impact their words may have on an individual. We all can probably remember words that we have used to insult, humiliate, embarrass, or offend a person but never really gave any special thought to it. I can truthfully say that it can happen to anyone. When that happens, it's only fair for one to apologize to those that may be affected. I accidentally sent an Epop to entire Help Desk with inappropriate words directed toward you. Although the intent was to be humorous, the words were still inappropriate for an electronic format. I apologize for sending such a message.

This "apology", which seems to me long on excuses and short on actual regret, was carbon copied to everyone at the Help Desk. At least he made a public apology for my public humiliation but it wasn't a very good one. "There are times when people. . . ", "We can all. . . ", ". . . it's only fair for one. . . " In all of these, he's not taking responsibility for what he did. He's not saying that he was "insensitive, arrogant, and obnoxious", he saying that "people" do this. Then he says "I accidentally sent. . . " as if his mistake was in sending it to everyone.

I was not satisfied.

Later in the morning, D***** stopped by my cubicle on his way to have a smoke. I was on a call and did not want to interrupt it to hear his abbreviated apology so eventually he tired of loitering and said he would talk to me later. I suspected that D***** had been talked to by management because I don't think he would initiate a verbal, one-on-one apology on his own initiative.

Immediately after the call, I went to speak with the Help Desk Manager. He told me that Corporate had been told about this and they were taking it very seriously. He said that D***** "had a lot of work ahead of him to show that he's not tat kind of Team Lead." Both the written and verbal apologies were part of that "work."

The rest of the morning and the bulk of the afternoon had plenty of opportunities for D***** to get up from his desk and come over to me. He did not. Apparently he thought the apology was important enough for him to stop by and deliver on his way somewhere else but not so important as to make a special trip. That sort of attention to the issue makes me wonder if he's learned his lesson.

Just before D***** was to leave for the day, he finally came over and asked if I had received the e-mail he had sent. "I just wanted to say I was sorry. It wasn't ment to be offensive but it obviously was"

"This is not about remorse or forgiveness," I said. "This is about respect and responsibility. No doubt, Corporate HR has some plan for you but let me tell you how this will work with me. If you ever want to talk to me or about me concerning policy, procedure or the cost of tea in China, you will go to the Help Desk Manager. Do not approach me in the hallway. Do not hover by my cubicle. Everything goes through Management"

D***** said that he thought he should have stayed away but that he felt he had to apologize in person. Liar. He wouldn't have come over if he hadn't been required to by HR. I'm not even sure he would have e-mailed the apology, such as it was, without being impelled by HR's authority.

Oh, he's on the fast track to redemption.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Something stinks.

I was up at my Function Desk to talk with them concerning an update on a ticket. After that, I took a few steps to stand at A**'s cubicle to talk to him about some random piece of news.


While I was standing there, a message popped up on everyone's screen, distributed by e-pop, and application like Instant Messenger that we user internally to communicate at the Help Desk. It said:

"What's that smell??? Oh I'm sorry Geis, I didn't see you standing there."

A few Analysts looked around asking "Who sent that?" but I had a sneaking suspicion which was not difficult to confirm. The sender's login id was clearly visible on the FROM line of the popup.

Now, D***** and I have had words before. Usually it has been over some sort of dispute over policies or procedures. D***** is a Team Lead but he's not my Team Lead. That doesn't keep him out of my business, though. Well, arguements over policies or procedures are one thing (within his purvue) but during one such conversation he said that my oposition to a certain procedure was just "Geis being Geis."

Since then I have tried very hard NOT to believe that he has something personal against me, that this was merely a clash of personalities. I kept telling myself that he was just a bad manager. D***** has on previous occasions misspoken and subsequently been spoken to by Management about it but this. . . .this sort of statement is almost unimaginably inappropriate. It would be bad enough coming from anyone on a "public" forum but to come from a Team Lead is beyond my ability to write off as merely a personality conflict.

And only half an how later I was scheduled for a "Career Development" meeting with the HR Rep and my Team Lead. I wrot this incident up in a formalized letter to present during my meeting. My hands were shaking with so much anger that I couldn't even sign the document.

I could see the disbelief on their faces as they read what had happened. Yes, something would be done about this at the management level. . . just not right now. Through a quirk of scheduling, the Help Desk Manager was off today. And while he will be back tomorrow, the HR Rep will be out, as will I. This may need to wait until Monday to be resolved.

And what would be an acceptable resolution? This sort of agregious statement could get him fired. As the last straw in a hay bail of missteps he should not be a Team Lead. At the very least, I want the record of this incident, including the screen shot of the statement itself, to end up in his personnel folder. I can't imagine what they would do beyond that, given the way things like this have been dealt with in the past.

I have a tight knot right between my shoulderblades.

Monday, December 13, 2004

My functional motivation motivates others to function.

Employees of The Bank are apparently encouraged to add "Leadership Statements" to their e-mail signatures. Here is a sampling:

"My Leadership Causes Success Through Teamwork and the Success of Each Member"

"My Leadership Causes a Comfortable Work Environment"

"My leadership makes potential become reality"

"My leadership causes hard work and determination in myself and others!"

"My leadership accelerates consensus!"

"My leadership creates results through accountability."

"My leadership is the catalyst for inspiring compassion, integrity and excellence in others."

My first thought was to add comments to each of these but to be honest, I can't think of any snide ridicule that I could heap on these statements any worse than the statements themselves. I suppose they could be forgiven for bad grammar since no one is proofreading their work, but what are these people thinking? Is this what they really believe leadership is about?

And The Bank is no better. Even though these following statements were surely built by committees, these mission statements posted on signage around the offices really aren't much better:

"We challenge reality to accomplish the impossible."

"Utilizing the power of diversity and imagination, we conquer boundaries, redefining tomorrow."

Oh, the pain! You can read those statements over and over again and still not derive any meaning from them. It may be naive of me to believe that a mission statement should actually be a statement of the department or business's mission , but is that the way it's supposed to be? If it had meaning then the managers would be actually held accountable if they didn't measure up. Do they come up with that crap specifically to avoid that sort of responsibility or do they really believe that the employees are too stupid to realize it meaninglessness?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

ID10T Webcomic Number 2

Panel 1:
Close up view of Protagonist's hands, pulling on a pair of hi-tech gloves. The narration box says, "Essential Reality P5 Virtual Reality Gloves: $80."

Panel 2:
View of Protagonist's ear as a headset is placed. The narration box says, "GN Netcom 9120 Wireless Headset: $300."

Panel 3:
View of the Protagonist as he places a pair of goggles on. The narration box says, "I-Glasses PCHR Head Mounted Display: $900."

Panel 4 (tripple wide, below the first three):
The narration box at the top of the panel says, "Casual Fridays at the Help Desk . . . " The Protagonist is seen wearing all his equipment and only a pair of shorts lying on a lawn chair in his cubicle. A bank of sun lamps on a tripod is on his desk above his workstation. His voice bubble has him speaking; ". . . You now need to enter a new password, 5 to 8 characters long . . ." The Boss is standing beside the cubicle with his hands on his hips. His voice bubble has him speaking; "Geis, when you're done I want to see you in my office." The narration box at the bottom of the panel says, "Priceless."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

So-called Cost of Living

Open enrollment in the health plan of our new Corporate Overlords started today. I went through all the menus and chose the minimum coverage partially because I stay away from doctor's offices anyway but mostly because of my stagnant pay. At the end it calculated how much this new plan was going to cost me and it turns out that my health care costs will increase by just about the same amount as my "cost of living" pay increase after my last performance appraisal.

So, my relative pay continues to drop.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Holiday Screwge

This tale of woe requires a little lead in to understand all the players. First, wer are the Help Desk. The Help Desk works for The Bank but we are not employees of The Bank, we are part of an IT service company that I will refer to as The Company.

Back in May we learned that The Company was being purchased by another IT services company. That company will hereafter be referred to as The Corporate Overlords.

So, now it's Thanksgiving. I was a little late in asking for the Friday after Thanksgiving off so that I could join the family get-together at my sister's in Maryland but I did get the day off. We at the Help Desk were told that The Corporate Overlords recognized the Friday after Thanksgiving as a company holiday for which we would be entitled to holiday pay. Swell! Since I was taking the day off, I duitifly filled out the PTO form.

Today we had some rolling meetings as groups of Help Desk staff were called into the break room to meat with the Help Desk Manager and HR Rep. We were told that the manager was mistaken. HeThe Corporate Overlords and the Analysts that work for them get the Friday after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday but here at The Company, there is still a separation between Analysts and Managers. That separation means that we would not be getting holiday pay for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The way he phrased it, it sounded like he and the HR Rep (managers) would be receiving pay for that day.

Since I had filled out a PTO form, I figured I was still going to get paid, it was just going to be coming out of my pool of PTO hours instead of being a holiday bonus. I wasn't particularly pleased with that but I have a lot of PTO built up and don't spend it in big chunks (taking a day here and there instead of taking a full week vacation) so it wasn't going to be a big hit.

Except that, because The Manager though it was going to be covered by The Corporate Overlord's holiday pay, they didn't submit my PTO request.

*WHAM* I'm out a day's pay.

I am told that I can re-submit my PTO request and it will be honored but the paycheck I get next week is going to be out a day.

Hmmm, let's see what's going on at this afternoon.