jayfurr: (Default)

In my office, at work, which I never actually go in to, I have a wooden bowl containing five plastic potatoes.

I have a lava lamp.

I have a Lite-Brite.

I have a wooden Vietnamese croaking frog.

I have a 2016 Cattle Mutilators wall calendar.

I keep thinking about taking in my TI-99/4A and my one remaining CRT-based TV and hooking them up and leaving them on my desk, just to confuse people.


Office as performance art.

jayfurr: (Default)

I’ve worked for my current employer for almost 19 years. In that time, I’ve been through a vast swamp of performance review systems. You name it, we’ve probably tried it, from picking three co-workers to review you, to reviewing yourself and having your manager go over the review with you, to reaching into a bag of randomly selected biting crustaceans and … well, no, we haven’t tried that one.


Yet.


This year’s system is a bit less onerous than most. Rather than pointlessly setting goals for 2017 that are dead on arrival due to the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of my specific job, mostly I was asked to look back on 2016 and say that I worked hard, made a difference, reflected corporate values, and so forth.


Since I work really, really hard all year and take my job very seriously, there’s never really been much difficulty coming up with a list of all the stuff I did all year to make customers count, embrace change, promote innovation, and so forth… and generally each year my manager ends whatever subsequent discussion takes place with some form of “there’s not much for me to say, really, except ‘attaboy’.”


I just submitted the final version of this year’s review and got asked to complete a quick little survey from Corporate asking how much I liked the current process, did it make a difference, etcetera, etcetera. It ended with “Describe your opinion of the process in three words.”


Naturally, I put down:



  • “Zesty”

  • “Empowering”

  • “Pellucid”


I’m sure they’ll take my opinion under advisement as they begin to put together what system we’ll use next year.


I’m hoping for something that involves cheese.


jayfurr: (Default)

As someone who spends a lot of time on aircraft (122 flights in 2016), I’ve gotten a lot of experience sitting in a semi-comfortable chair and staring blankly off into space.


I take a book along on trips and of course I’ve got my Nexus tablet, which doubles as a ebook reader, if I want to read anything I’ve downloaded. Often, though, neither gets any use. I hop on the plane, stow my backpack in the overhead, take a seat, and either go straight to sleep or I adopt a ten thousand foot stare that leaves me almost entirely unaware of what’s going on around me.


Yesterday we’d been airborne for about five minutes before I went “Oh. We took off.”


I think this behavior sort of creeps people out. You know how cats sometimes like to sit staring worriedly at something only they can see? I do that sometimes too, with much the same result on the people around me.



Friday night I found myself in seat 4B on a regional jet on the way home from Chicago to Burlington. I wasn’t at all sleepy and I didn’t really feel like reading, so for some reason I found myself staring fixedly upwards toward a light on the ceiling of the cabin, completely lost in thought.



The light wasn’t on — the cabin had been darkened for evening travel and most people weren’t using their individual reading lights. The light was in no way remarkable. But I stared right at it, like a cobra trying to hypnotize its prey, for so long that eventually it freaked out the flight attendant. He came back and somewhat timidly asked me if there was some problem with the cabin ceiling; he even poked the panel with the light in case it was loose or something.


I replied “No, no, I was just staring off into space.” Then went right back to looking at the ceiling.


He stood there and looked worried for a moment, then turned and went back to his jumpseat, glancing back over his shoulder at me a couple times in case I gathered myself to spring (or something).


I don’t know exactly what that scores on the “Weirdo On The Plane” index, but I bet it’s pretty good.


jayfurr: (Aaaaaaaaaaaargh! Redux)
I travel for work and fly United Airlines virtually everywhere I go. I'm a Premier Executive passenger -- not the highest of the high, but high enough that I often get upgraded to First Class when the time comes to print my boarding pass the night before a flight. The larger seats are nice and it's nice to have an easier time getting enough water to stay hydrated... but nonetheless, there's one thing about it that I really dislike. Hear me out, okay? This takes a tiny bit of explaining.

I'm a vegetarian. My profile at united.com says so. My travel profile at my company's travel booking website says so too.

I know that if I were to buy a first class ticket up front I'd have the option of indicating at the time of purchase that I want a vegetarian meal. That's standard. But for those of us who get a complimentary upgrade a day or so before a flight, there's no opportunity to speak up and say "Vegetarian meal, please." Trust me, I've looked all over the United website and it's not there. United does say in their FAQs that you need to request a special meal 24 hours OR MORE before your flight -- and thus, if I get an upgrade the night before a flight, it's far too late to do anything about it.

And I understand that. I'm ABSOLUTELY OKAY with that. If their catering department needs 24+ hours notice to make sure a special meal is loaded onto a plane, that's fine. Not a care in the world about it. If I'm worried about being hungry I can buy food before the flight, elect one of the United "snack boxes" that they have available for purchase back in coach (the "Luxe" box is fine, for example), or simply wait patiently until I arrive and eat then. It's NOT A PROBLEM. I want to get where I'm going on time in reasonable comfort -- getting fed is just icing on the cake.

So what's my issue?

My issue is that EVERY TIME I see the flight attendants in first class coming around with a clipboard murmuring to the passengers about the meal options ("We have a choice of a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad," etcetera, etcetera) I know what's coming. They're going to come to my seat, rattle off their spiel, and then, when I politely smile and say "Neither, please. I'm a vegetarian" they're going to stare at me like I've just barfed up a lapful of baby pythons. Then, in a strangled, frustrated voice, they're going to ask "DID YOU REQUEST A SPECIAL MEAL???" Not in the "oh gosh, our bad, did you request a special meal?" kind of way. But in the "oh God, another idiot" kind of way.

When I've said "No, but that's fine" they usually persist. "If you're a vegetarian you have to request a SPECIAL MEAL." And I go, "No, it's really okay. I'm fine." And they say "We could have had a special meal for you if you'd told us in advance."

And about that point, I start to get desperate. By now everyone in the first class cabin is looking at me wondering what my problem is. I say "I'm a Premier Executive passenger. I got a complimentary upgrade 18 hours ago. There wasn't any opportunity for me to request a special meal because it happened less than 24 hours before the flight. And in any case, it's FINE. I'm FINE. I don't need anything."

And they sigh and say "If you wanted a special meal you have to TELL US IN ADVANCE." And they turn with a long-suffering air of despair to the next passenger. "We have a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad."

I know you're just getting my side here -- and for all you know I'm one of those Passengers From Hell like the one who caused a Jet Blue flight attendant to snap, curse the passenger over the public address system, and then quit his job in spectacular fashion by deploying the emergency escape slide and running away across the airport tarmac. But I'm not. I rarely even carry any luggage on board other than my laptop because I don't WANT to be one of those passengers-from-hell who tries to fit whole sarcophagi and such into the overhead. I fly enough that I have deep respect for the long-suffering flight attendants who have to cope with all the weirdos that they see, and I see, each time we board a plane.

But for the love of God, PLEASE spread the word that upgraded passengers aren't given an option of requesting a special meal, and that even if it's in our profile on the United website it's still not going to make any difference, and that I don't need the public dressing-down every time I get on board an aircraft with an boarding pass marked "1st Class" in hand.

Okay?

jayfurr: (Aaaaaaaaaaaargh! Redux)
I travel for work and fly United Airlines virtually everywhere I go. I'm a Premier Executive passenger -- not the highest of the high, but high enough that I often get upgraded to First Class when the time comes to print my boarding pass the night before a flight. The larger seats are nice and it's nice to have an easier time getting enough water to stay hydrated... but nonetheless, there's one thing about it that I really dislike. Hear me out, okay? This takes a tiny bit of explaining.

I'm a vegetarian. My profile at united.com says so. My travel profile at my company's travel booking website says so too.

I know that if I were to buy a first class ticket up front I'd have the option of indicating at the time of purchase that I want a vegetarian meal. That's standard. But for those of us who get a complimentary upgrade a day or so before a flight, there's no opportunity to speak up and say "Vegetarian meal, please." Trust me, I've looked all over the United website and it's not there. United does say in their FAQs that you need to request a special meal 24 hours OR MORE before your flight -- and thus, if I get an upgrade the night before a flight, it's far too late to do anything about it.

And I understand that. I'm ABSOLUTELY OKAY with that. If their catering department needs 24+ hours notice to make sure a special meal is loaded onto a plane, that's fine. Not a care in the world about it. If I'm worried about being hungry I can buy food before the flight, elect one of the United "snack boxes" that they have available for purchase back in coach (the "Luxe" box is fine, for example), or simply wait patiently until I arrive and eat then. It's NOT A PROBLEM. I want to get where I'm going on time in reasonable comfort -- getting fed is just icing on the cake.

So what's my issue?

My issue is that EVERY TIME I see the flight attendants in first class coming around with a clipboard murmuring to the passengers about the meal options ("We have a choice of a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad," etcetera, etcetera) I know what's coming. They're going to come to my seat, rattle off their spiel, and then, when I politely smile and say "Neither, please. I'm a vegetarian" they're going to stare at me like I've just barfed up a lapful of baby pythons. Then, in a strangled, frustrated voice, they're going to ask "DID YOU REQUEST A SPECIAL MEAL???" Not in the "oh gosh, our bad, did you request a special meal?" kind of way. But in the "oh God, another idiot" kind of way.

When I've said "No, but that's fine" they usually persist. "If you're a vegetarian you have to request a SPECIAL MEAL." And I go, "No, it's really okay. I'm fine." And they say "We could have had a special meal for you if you'd told us in advance."

And about that point, I start to get desperate. By now everyone in the first class cabin is looking at me wondering what my problem is. I say "I'm a Premier Executive passenger. I got a complimentary upgrade 18 hours ago. There wasn't any opportunity for me to request a special meal because it happened less than 24 hours before the flight. And in any case, it's FINE. I'm FINE. I don't need anything."

And they sigh and say "If you wanted a special meal you have to TELL US IN ADVANCE." And they turn with a long-suffering air of despair to the next passenger. "We have a hot turkey sandwich or a cold chicken salad."

I know you're just getting my side here -- and for all you know I'm one of those Passengers From Hell like the one who caused a Jet Blue flight attendant to snap, curse the passenger over the public address system, and then quit his job in spectacular fashion by deploying the emergency escape slide and running away across the airport tarmac. But I'm not. I rarely even carry any luggage on board other than my laptop because I don't WANT to be one of those passengers-from-hell who tries to fit whole sarcophagi and such into the overhead. I fly enough that I have deep respect for the long-suffering flight attendants who have to cope with all the weirdos that they see, and I see, each time we board a plane.

But for the love of God, PLEASE spread the word that upgraded passengers aren't given an option of requesting a special meal, and that even if it's in our profile on the United website it's still not going to make any difference, and that I don't need the public dressing-down every time I get on board an aircraft with an boarding pass marked "1st Class" in hand.

Okay?

The curse?

Apr. 15th, 2010 09:13 am
jayfurr: (Grimace)
A few weeks ago I traveled to a mid-Atlantic customer to do a couple days of training. Flew down, arriving by early afternoon the day before I was scheduled to be onsite, checked into my hotel, and then said to myself "Gee, I don't actually feel so good." Took a nap and woke up feeling pretty rotten. Went out, got a bunch of sick-person-friendly comestibles and beverages and came back to the room to try to perk myself up. Went back to bed and proceeded to have one of the worst nights I've ever had. Shaking with fever, then shivering with chills, achy throughout, just wishing I could die, etcetera.

Woke up in the morning and realized I was in no shape to be Mr. Perky Trainer for two days and called my boss, who then called the customer and explained the situation. I went back to bed, woke up in early afternoon, tried to find a local doctor who'd take me as a walk-in, couldn't, tried to get Anthem BCBS to help me out, and they couldn't. So I flew home that day and saw my doctor the next day and got told "48-hour stomach virus, we've seen a couple hundred people come through here with it, some of our staff even had it, it's awful, but it goes away quickly." And by that point, I was feeling much better. Pity it hadn't hit earlier in the week, but c'est la vie. The customer was understanding and we rescheduled for ... this week.

Flew down yesterday. Got there real early because I needed to be on a conference call all afternoon about an unrelated project and didn't want to be flying or risking taking the last flight out afterwards. My hotel was understanding and let me check in at 11. I went to my room, booted my laptop, checked email, and ... found a note from the customer sent while I was in the air saying "Stuff has come up. This week won't work at ALL". I wrote back to say, "er, I'm already here". They hemmed and hawed for a bit and then said "Sorry. There's really no way."

So I flew back the same day.

Prior to this stuff happening I'd never had a single occurrence of "go all the way to the customer's town and leave again without ever actually walking in their front door". Now it's happened twice in a month -- at the SAME CUSTOMER.

I think something, somewhere, doesn't want me training that customer.

The curse?

Apr. 15th, 2010 09:13 am
jayfurr: (Grimace)
A few weeks ago I traveled to a mid-Atlantic customer to do a couple days of training. Flew down, arriving by early afternoon the day before I was scheduled to be onsite, checked into my hotel, and then said to myself "Gee, I don't actually feel so good." Took a nap and woke up feeling pretty rotten. Went out, got a bunch of sick-person-friendly comestibles and beverages and came back to the room to try to perk myself up. Went back to bed and proceeded to have one of the worst nights I've ever had. Shaking with fever, then shivering with chills, achy throughout, just wishing I could die, etcetera.

Woke up in the morning and realized I was in no shape to be Mr. Perky Trainer for two days and called my boss, who then called the customer and explained the situation. I went back to bed, woke up in early afternoon, tried to find a local doctor who'd take me as a walk-in, couldn't, tried to get Anthem BCBS to help me out, and they couldn't. So I flew home that day and saw my doctor the next day and got told "48-hour stomach virus, we've seen a couple hundred people come through here with it, some of our staff even had it, it's awful, but it goes away quickly." And by that point, I was feeling much better. Pity it hadn't hit earlier in the week, but c'est la vie. The customer was understanding and we rescheduled for ... this week.

Flew down yesterday. Got there real early because I needed to be on a conference call all afternoon about an unrelated project and didn't want to be flying or risking taking the last flight out afterwards. My hotel was understanding and let me check in at 11. I went to my room, booted my laptop, checked email, and ... found a note from the customer sent while I was in the air saying "Stuff has come up. This week won't work at ALL". I wrote back to say, "er, I'm already here". They hemmed and hawed for a bit and then said "Sorry. There's really no way."

So I flew back the same day.

Prior to this stuff happening I'd never had a single occurrence of "go all the way to the customer's town and leave again without ever actually walking in their front door". Now it's happened twice in a month -- at the SAME CUSTOMER.

I think something, somewhere, doesn't want me training that customer.

jayfurr: (Hot dog buns)
For what it's worth, I will be in San Francisco for work from this Saturday through late Tuesday of next week. I'll be staying down on Fisherman's Wharf, the better to be near a conference I'm presenting at on Tuesday. If anyone in the Beigh Arya has absolutely nothing better to and wants to hold a public stoning or something like that, let me know. (I'll probably go to Monterey one of the two weekend days to drop in and say Hi to the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, FWIW.)

jayfurr: (Hot dog buns)
For what it's worth, I will be in San Francisco for work from this Saturday through late Tuesday of next week. I'll be staying down on Fisherman's Wharf, the better to be near a conference I'm presenting at on Tuesday. If anyone in the Beigh Arya has absolutely nothing better to and wants to hold a public stoning or something like that, let me know. (I'll probably go to Monterey one of the two weekend days to drop in and say Hi to the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, FWIW.)

jayfurr: (Default)
You frequently find yourself thinking "I should call the wife. Wait, what time zone am I in this week?"

Then you think "Wait, what city am I even in?"

And then you have to stop and ponder for a while before you remember the answer to those two questions.

(Hotel rooms and training rooms all start to look alike after a while.)

Work

Jan. 26th, 2009 07:53 pm
jayfurr: (Slump)
My company, GE Healthcare, had a downsizing on Thursday. My team of trainers and doc writers was not affected. Around 50 employees in our 700+ person office were, I understand, but specifics have not been forthcoming.

Any pleasure I might have had at not losing MY job was, however, significantly diminished by my wife's losing HER job the following day. We thought that she was safe after a number of other employees had lost their positions, but she was called in a few minutes before lunch and informed that she had two weeks notice and a week of severance coming to her, and then that was it. I don't feel anger toward her manager and the company president -- it's not THEIR fault that the "hired gun" president the company brought in a year and change ago managed to drive away their biggest customers and brought things to this state. Carole and I are afraid that this move on their part means that the company is circling the drain, as it were. Carole was having to work evenings and weekends to deal with her increased workload after the previous downsizing and we have NO idea how the work is going to get done now. Not our problem, though. :(

If anyone reading this would like to offer her sympathy, her post about it is here.

jayfurr: (Glern)
You spent all day cooped up in tiny little regional jets flying from one end of the country to the other and when you finally emerge from the little tin can full of recycled air and other people's miasma you feel like DEATH. Stuffy, congested, achy, miserable, logy, stupid. Sort of what it must be like to be Beano Cook, only more so.

Sweet Jeebus, but it's getting harder and harder to cope with all-day flying. As soon as I get another hour or so of work-related email and stuff done I'm going to go sit in the bathroom with the shower on FULL MAX STEAM and just wait for the evil to be purged out of me. God, I feel rotten.

Brrrr

Jan. 15th, 2009 06:43 am
jayfurr: (Abbey Pond)
It's really cold here. 13 below zero.

And my company (GE Healthcare) has layoffs in the offing. A bunch of media sources locally ran little articles saying the layoffs were underway (which was scary, reading it in the local TV station's newsfeed before hearing anything at work), but yesterday absolutely nothing came down from the usual sources at corporate letting us know that with great sorrow, etcetera, etcetera. I asked a couple of people and they said "the rumor mill has TODAY being the big day." Sigh.

People tell me that it would be INSANE to lay me and my team members off given all the revenue-producing irons we have in the fire, but sometimes cold, hard decisions have to be made by people who take the long view. And we're just trainers, after all, right? Once, eight years ago, we were on the chopping block but our department head was able to put some numbers together showing how much we impacted the company and our customers and got the CEO to change his mind (and the CEO met with us and told us that had it not been for that, we'd all have been gone). We're part of a much bigger company now and that approach is unlikely to work if the decision comes down from on high.

Scary times.


Eeble

Nov. 20th, 2008 10:18 am
jayfurr: (Default)
Due to a slight cutback in the frequency of flights from Chicago to Burlington, I'm having to take three flights to get home from Fargo today. Starting at 6 am Fargo time, and arriving home (if all goes well) at 5 pm Vermont time. Sigh.

But on the other hand, I just had a venti mocha latte and I'm feeling very perky. Not sure "perky" is the right mood to be in when I'm about to board a plane to New York for a couple of hours, but hopefully the passengers around me won't mind if I spend the time grinning inanely.

US Airways

Sep. 8th, 2008 05:30 pm
jayfurr: (Aaaaaaaaaaaargh! Redux)
For whatever reason, my United flight from Chicago to Phoenix today was actually a US Airways flight done via codeshare. No problem, I said, since my Premier Executive status with UAL will still get me in the first boarding, still won't have to pay their per-bag fee, etcetera.

I had forgotten how much US Airways has changed in recent years.

I can't recall seeing so little pitch between the rows. I've been spoiled by United's policy of giving frequent travelers six more inches of legroom up in the front of coach. US Airways ain't got none of that. They had less, as far as I can tell, than the worst steerage-class sections on any other airline I've been on.

US Airways also had no movie on the flight -- they took the DVD player and DVDs out to save weight. No problem; I never watch the damn movies anyway. But it deprived all my fellow passengers of their main form of mental stimulation. Halfway through the flight I woke up from a doze and realized I'd never been on such a still, quiet plane. Looking around, I realized that everyone was out cold, head back, mouth open, dozing. Sure, there were the occasional whistles and grunts and snores, but nothing along the lines of ordinary human noises like turning pages or talking. Eerie.

And the whole charging-for-beverages? That's going over gangbusters. Four times during the flight one of the two flight attendants would walk down the aisle holding up a can of Coke and a "snack box" and ask if anyone wanted to buy a drink or a snack. Each time, no one moved. The attendant didn't even bother loading up a whole cart and pushing it down the aisle; evidently she'd already learned that people aren't going to jump out of their seats and holler "YES I MUST HAVE THAT $2 CAN OF DIET COKE YOU'VE GOT THERE."

I hadn't bothered to buy a big bottle of water to take on the plane with me so I sort of toughed it out for four hours, feeling pretty dry but adamant that I wasn't going to be the one who Broke The Code.

When the plane finally landed and we disembarked, I've never seen such a swarm of people heading straight for the water fountains and stuff.

And I'm sure as heck not going to go out of my way to fly US Airways again. My legs are still stiff from having them jammed up under my chin the whole flight.

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