Friday, September 28, 2007

The Forever Monday

Every day this week I have taken between 80 and 90 help desk calls. Typically, I've only taken that many calls on a Monday and the rest of the week is in the 60s and 70s but The Bank bought another bank and last week they went "on line." So, why did last week only suck on Monday and Tuesday where this week has been sucky all week?

Burn rate.

Several of the people that were hired specifically to handle the increased call volume left by the end of the week. Add to that the call volume increasing by nearly 50% when staffing has only increased by something less than 20% (less now that several have punched out already), well, the math does not work out in my favor.

In a call Thursday afternoon, I said to a user: "It's too early on a Monday morning for this."

User: "Monday morning? Where are you?"

Geis: "Here in Pittsburgh. But it has seemed more like one, long Monday morning all week."

User: "Yea, Wednesday's can be that way sometimes."

Geis: "You are, of course, aware that this is actually Thursday."

User: "Awww, man."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Linear Parking

The driving part of my typical morning commute is typically a little over 10 minutes. If I get out of the house before 5:50 I beat the traffic on the Parkway East.

Not today.

There was an accident in the tunnel. Then, some pinhead trying to ride the berm to get to the exit ramp around the backed up traffic caused another accident. Traffic was backed up to Monroeville and I was caught in limbo between Wilkinsburg and Edgewood/Swissvale. I sat absolutely stationary for 45 minutes. I turned of the engine and waited it out, listening to the traffic reports lie about traffic getting around the accident in the left lane.

The average commute in Pittsburgh is supposedly around 25 minutes. And while I can boast of a 10 minute commute inbound, getting home the drive is about an hour. My average still sucks. I'd rather spend that time on a bicycle and, if the roads or trails would accomidate that, I would.

And they call it "rush hour."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


An experiment of several levels. First, an Oregon Scientific ATC-2K camera attached to my bike helmet.

Next, attempting to edit the AVI file produced using the Kino video editor in Ubuntu. At first, it wouldn't load the AVI format of the original file. I needed to install ffmpeg to get it to work. It needed to be compressed in time so that the file size is under the 100meg limit necessary to post to Blogspot, which meant using only every 7th frame.

Later, I will need further work with editing. Will I be able to compress the image dimensions so that I can have a smaller file without having to sacrifice frames? I can set the camera to save at a lower image size if necessary. I notice that the angle of having it mounted to my helmet is off a bit. The camera comes with a handlebar mount, perhaps that will be better (although I like it being on my head so that I can pan about if I choose.)

It also takes about half an hour for the 100meg file to upload to blogger. I probably won't be doing that very often.

The 2gig SD card I got with the camera is good for about an hour of footage at the 640x480 30fps setting. Smaller resolutions and frame rates allow for a longer period of filming. The camera is supposedly waterproof. It comes with a rubber strap to mount it to a helmet but the strap is too short for any helmet. I was able to run a velcro strap through the air vents of my bike helmet.

I'm going to be paintballing with my nephew in a month. This camera will definitely be mounted on my gun for that.

Spiders on Drugs

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Political Compass

When I was going to college, I was referred to as "Mister Conservative." The Cold war was at it's Reagan-era heights and I'll admit to being something of a hawk at the time. In one of my political science classes, I didn't do so well as the instructor was a Marxist and I didn't give the writings of Marx and Lenin a whole lot of credit. Those views had me mistaken for a conservative.

I am, in fact, a liberal following a true interpretation of that word (at least in the American political discourse). I believe that people have inherent rights and the government has only limited power to regulate or limit those rights. I believe in a liberal interpretation of the Constitution of the Constitution. I believe that the rights "of the people" are individual rights.

To really pin this all down, I went to the Political Compass website and took the test several times for a good statistical average.

I am a Leftist Libertarian, or perhaps an Anarcho-Collectivist. I am pleased to be in the company of men like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and the Dalhi Lama. I also note that only two of the presidential candidates even come close to sharing my political beliefs. Most of the so-called liberal Democrats are actually in the authoritarian right.

When asked, I typically represent myself as Politically Non-euclidian because the terms Liberal, Conservative, Democrat and Republican have no real philosophical meaning. My refusal to place myself within the American political spectrum tends to hing on the single issue of gun rights. The Democrats take a decidedly conservative view of the Constitution when they think that the right to keep and bear arms is something that applies to "a well regulated Militia", meaning the National Guard or the police. The Republicans take a decidedly liberal view in saying that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the rights of individuals to arm themselves. Those who claim the mantle of Liberal of Conservative (or try to demonize their opponents by using those terms) don't really know what those words really mean.

And these are the people I need to choose among to lead my nation?

No wonder I'm in the anarchist area of the compass.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chocolate Invaders

Several weeks ago, I found bugs in my Nesquik chocolate milk mix. I was upset to have my chocolate infested like that and thought it a random occurrence. Perhaps I hadn't put the lid on tight. I threw it away and the cabinet was cleaned out. No additional insects were found.

Today, I opened a replacement container and found another insect. The seal had been broken only a few days ago.
The interloper is about 1/16" long. I was only able to find the one.

Emptying the cabinet completely and a careful examination of all the food found that the insects had gotten into some spaghetti and other noodles. Most everything was in jars, ziplocks or other sealed containers but the boxes that the pasta was contained was vulnerable.

I will not abandon my chocolate milk but the crappyness of the container produced by Nestle means that I will now have to transfer the contents to a truly sealable container after opening.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Ever since the middle of June, management has been crowing about the efforts they have been going through to get us "market adjustments" to our salaries. And when they couldn't pull off the actual increases, they made a big show about announcing compensation in the form of "commissions" in every other paycheck. There was even an official meeting where they took people off the phones to be told this face to face.

So, it seems somehow suspicions when today's paycheck finally had the salary increase they've been promising for months, and yet management has been completely silent on the matter.

My base salary has increased by $2.50 an hour and they also threw in two weeks of retroactive pay to cover the entire month. Another $400 a month, $5,200 a year. Almost, but not quite, what I should have been making were it not for the salary freeze.

And they said nothing.

I can only guess that there wasn't a broadcast announcement because not everyone got the raise.

One might think I'd be happy about the raise but the obsfucation, dithering, broken promises and tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages over the past four years lead my to think merely that it is about fucking time.

I wonder if I will be called into the office to be offered a training position now that they have finally made good on my demand for compensation. They are going to be disappointed if they do because, while this raise compensates me for my job as an analyst, it doesn't reflect the added investment of being a trainer. I'd be willing to negotiate that point but they're going to need to change my job description for me to agree.

I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Tom Smith's song has been running through my head all week. I'm going to work dressed like a pirate and, while it might be amusing to actually talk like a pirate, I doubt I'll be able to answer calls like that.

"Arrrrr, this be the corporate help desk!"

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lego White & Nerdy

Weird Al Yankovik's "White & Nerdy" is nerdy. This is meta-nerdy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Had my "final" dentist appointment to have the root canaled and decapitated tooth on the top right side have a new crown emplaced. While the dentist was at it, she saw that I hadn't been taking good enough care of the crown on the top left side so she yanked it off to clean up that mess.

Next on the hit parade; I've got another root canal on the bottom left side to be done. I haven't scheduled that but I'll be making the call next month.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Behold! The Power of Lame!

Our new office space has automatic blinds that rise and fall based on some sort of obscure, supposedly green formula. The Team Leads have window seats and whenever the blinds move either up or down, at least one of them and sometimes both of them will raise their arms as if they are magically willing the blinds into motion.

Am I the only one who thinks that is inordinately arrogant? Or tragically lame? Or perhaps it's just sad that they do this every single time. One would think they'd get tired of the joke after a month. I know I am.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Can't blog now, the Kim Possible, Every Possible Episode Ever Marathon is on.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Supplemental Income

On returning from my vacation (riding my bicycle from Pittsburgh to DC) I found a check from my employers to the tune of $400. Apparently, the Site Manager was finally able to make good on the promise to get our "bonus" to reflect four weeks instead of just two (as he said it should have been last month). On the other hand, it shows that he still hasn't been able to get the "market rated adjustments" to our salaries that he has been making noise about for three months now.

Old news, really.

But what receiving this check separately from my paycheck really points out is the difference in tax rates. Of the $400 itemized as "commission", I only received $237 in cash. Typically, the Fed takes about 10% of my pay in their taxes but because this commission is considered "supplemental income", the Feds are claiming 23%. So, even though it's supposed to represent the salary increase I never received, I'm still being ripped off because the way the books have to be cooked to get me any money at all means the government is taking twice as much of it.

In spite of the rhetoric, these "commissions" are not comparable to a salary increase.

Playing the odds.

I don't know who's idea it was, but someone at the Help Desk got it in their heads to solicit analysts to join in a group gambling pool. Everyone pitches in a few bucks to buy lottery tickets and if there's a winner we can all quit this lousy job and share in the spoils.

I had nothing to do with it because I understand the odds but apparently many others did not.

$200 invested in a Powerball chance returned a win of $38.

That $38 was then invested in a Mega Millions chance at $325 million. It returned $3.

Even our company stock isn't posting losses like that, even with the former CEO suing the company for wrongful termination.