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)
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)


“So there I was, working construction, doing site cleanup work where a new office tower was going up, okay?


“And I came across this little bottle buried in the mud. Nothing special to look at. Little brown bottle with a cork in. Pretty well buried when I came across it. Who knows how long it’d been down there?”


I nodded at the rough, heavyset guy in jeans and a dirty Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt on the next barstool who’d decided, lacking any other obvious targets in the all-but-deserted bar, to honor me with his life’s story. Since he hadn’t yet tried to wheedle a drink out of me, I let it go. It could’ve been worse. I’ve known a lot of rambling drunks; he could’ve been drooling, or worse, drooling on me.


“So I pulled the cork out. Not like I expected anything to be in it, but someone’d taken pains to jam the cork in there pretty good, so I figured something had to be in there.”


I nodded, following him so far. “You weren’t worried that it might have been something bad? Poison? Something toxic?”


He glowered down at his beer. “Buddy, I wish I’d been so lucky.”


“No, what was inside was like outta one of those movies or fairy tales. Some sparkly, shiny smoke, and then a little guy about six inches tall dressed in pajamas and wearing a little helmet. Shiny little gold helmet. Little orangey-yellow guy. Damndest thing you ever saw.”


I turned and stared irritably at him, wondering where this was going. This was a bit outside your normal late-night drunken bar rambling gibberish, although to be honest, I guessed I owed him a point for originality, if nothing else. “An actual genie? Came right out of a little bottle you found in the mud?”


“I guess. Only this genie didn’t give me any three wishes or nothin’ like that. He said thank you, and he said that as a reward for freein’ him he’d give me all the talents and abilities of the next seven people to walk by on the street.”


Frowning at the strange direction this odd story had taken, I motioned him to go on.


“So he did. Only the first six guys to come by were all accountants from the same company down the street, all heading out to lunch after a hard morning doing revenue projections and audits and tax preparation and so on and so on.” He made little “blah blah” motions with one hand while gripping his beer with the other.


For a moment there he sounded like he was channeling one of those guys you meet at Rotary who hangs on your lapels wanting to talk investments and tax preparation. Not what you’d expect, looking at him. Nodding, I said “And the seventh?”


“He was a mortician.”


“A mortician?”


“Yeah. An undertaker. A funeral director. One of them guys.”


“So now…?”


“Yeah, so now I’m sitting here, never done anything but construction and demolition in my life, an’ I’ve got my head crammed full of every damn number-crunching concept invented since Adam ‘n’ Eve got kicked out of the garden, with no sort of professional documentation nohow. I know how to do all that stuff, but who’s gonna pay me to do it?”


I had to agree he had a point.


He glared back down at his beer. “But the worst part is I keep looking at people and imagining what they’d look like stretched out all naked on the embalming table.”



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: (Default)


2017 marks two landmark dates in my life: my 50th birthday on September 20, and Carole and my 20th wedding anniversary a week earlier on September 13. (I was determined to get married before I turned 30. I managed it with a week to spare.)


Carole and I are taking an early 20th anniversary trip to Hawaii next month — we’re taking a Norwegian Cruise Lines seven day cruise around the Hawaiian islands, starting in Oahu and spending two days each in Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai before returning to Oahu. We’ll also be hanging out on Waikiki Beach for a few days before and after the cruise. This’ll be my 50th state, incidentally — I’ve been to the other 49, and not in the “I changed planes in an airport there” sense.


I know everyone else has already been to Hawaii, but we just never got around to it before. Hopefully no typhoons or cane toad infestations will ruin things for us.


As for my birthday — I don’t normally make any big deal out of my birthday. Most years I don’t ask for or receive any presents, but since you only turn 50 once (in most cases), I thought I’d mention that anyone who does want to get me something is welcome to pick most anything from the following website:


http://www.justdezineit.com/


Send me an email if you want my shipping address. I’d set up a profile and wish list there, but alas, they haven’t configured the site to make that possible. I know September is a long way off, but I want to give people plenty of advance notice. Great tragedies only come around so often, you know.


 


jayfurr: (Sepia)

angrygoose

I spend every day of my life wanting to apologize to everyone I know on social media and quite a few of the people that I know in person.

I believe that most people who know me either:


  • think nothing at all about me, or,

  • think I’m an annoying, attention-hungry loser

I’m not worried about apologizing to people to whom I’m a complete non-entity; that’s actually the preferred state, I guess, given what I assume the alternative is. But everyone else — all the people I’ve annoyed, all the people I’m going to annoy, and all the people that I’m currently annoying — to you, I am very sorry.

I’ve spent my whole life doing impulsive, stupid things and then realizing how offended people were and then asking myself “why the hell did I do that?” And I suspect that there are countless more things that I’ve done that I didn’t pick up on. That when I leave the room people look at each other and just shake their heads. That people cheer up when they arrive and I’m not around. And so on.A)Please don’t give in to the urge to post a follow-up saying “but that’s not true at all.” I promise you — I did not write this with the goal in mind of having people respond telling me that I’m not so bad after all, or because I was fishing for sympathy.

I sometimes think that the only way I can avoid cheesing people off through my spastic, dumb-ass sense of humor is to say nothing at all to anyone, to stay off social media, and to never go out in public except to go to work. (Somehow, I’m able to adopt a work persona that gets the job done and doesn’t feel a need to go off on weird tangents. Usually, anyway.)

I’m not overly fond of the blanket excuse offered up by over-psychoanalyzed Late 20th Century Man: “My parents did this to me.” I imagine that everyone’s parents did various not-so-constructive things along the way, and I believe that blaming one’s misfortunes on one’s parents is just a lame albi. My father did spend my entire childhood telling me that I was a jerk, that no one would ever like me, that I was an idiot, that I was a quitter who would never accomplish anything, and so on. That probably contributed somewhat to my belief that I had no friends, that the world was pretty much divided into:


  • people who don’t know me at all

  • people who can’t stand me

  • people who barely tolerate me

I was careful growing up to never ever ever refer to someone as my friend, for fear that they would look at me with a repulsed look on their face and say “We know each other. We’re acquaintances. But we’re not friends.” To this day, I feel weird about the term “friend”. Other people have friends. I have people I haven’t completely cheesed off yet.

But I don’t think this way of thinking this is all my father’s fault. I’m a gray-haired 48-year-old man. It’s past time that I take responsibility for my own thoughts and actions. It’s fairly pathetic to say “stuff that happened over 30 years ago continues to shape my thoughts today and every day.”

I think that the truth is that I really do careen through life doing a lot of dumb-assed stuff, and always have, and unless I take up the life of a hermit, probably always will. I’m very glad that I’ve got my work persona to fall back onto, but I can’t be that way 24/7. Somewhere along the way I developed a strong work ethic… but when I take the necktie off at the end of the day, the other Jay comes out.

And so I spend a lot of time face-palming at my own actions and wishing like crazy I had an “undo” button. And since I don’t… I wind up apologizing a lot, or wanting to apologize, or wishing I could go back and apologize. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to make amends to everyone you’ve ever hurt, even if they were disposed to give you a chance. In my case, there are just too many people.


Sorry


And thus, this post. To you, dear reader, I’m really, really sorry for anything and everything I’ve done to annoy you, irk you, cause you to sigh despairingly, waste your time, bore you, or otherwise act like a millstone around your neck. If you want to contact me for a more specific apology, please let me know.

Unless, of course, you’re a Canada goose. The blanket apology, and offer of a more specific apology, does not apply to them. Canada geese are mean. To heck with ’em.

goosehead

Footnotes   [ + ]

A. Please don’t give in to the urge to post a follow-up saying “but that’s not true at all.” I promise you — I did not write this with the goal in mind of having people respond telling me that I’m not so bad after all, or because I was fishing for sympathy.

DNE

Apr. 12th, 2016 05:25 pm
jayfurr: (Default)

“DNE” written on a whiteboard or chalkboard is supposed to mean “do not erase”. When I was a student at the University of Georgia, I saw it only infrequently, but it seems to have been more common elsewhere, or in any event, become so subsequently.


Randall Munroe, of XKCD fame, called attention to “DNE” usage with this strip several years ago:


I've seen advertisers put their URLs on chalkboards, encircled with a DNE. They went unerased for months. If you see this, feel free to replace the URL with xkcd.com.


Recently, I decided to test for myself how sacrosanct something marked with “DNE” would actually be in practice:


DNE


When I added that, the board was full of random gibberish from various meetings that had been held in the room. Now it’s blank — except for my circled mystery code.


Two weeks and counting.


 


jayfurr: (Default)

For pretty much as long as such a thing as a Windows “desktop” has existed, I’ve had a visceral loathing for those people who use the desktop as their primary file storage location, creating endless desktop items and never filing any of them.


I used to have a boss who did that, and moreover, complained out loud that he could never find anything — without realizing that it was his own damn fault. I adopted the habit of going to his computer after hours (he never logged it out or locked it) and moving everything (except things like My Computer) to a folder marked “desktop”. I’d set the default view to “detail” and the default sort to “by date”. By the time he left us, a couple of years later, said “desktop” folder had about 6000 items in it, many of which I’m sure he had no need for but which I knew he’d keep until the end of time out of a sense that sometime, some day, they might be relevant.


Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a “hoarder” where the Windows filesystem is concerned.


I try to keep my laptop’s desktop extremely neat and tidy, with nothing there but immediate action items, and everything else neatly sorted into folders in the “My Documents” folder. And periodically, I go through and delete things that I realize I no longer need.


But sometimes, when I’m feeling especially cranky and annoyed, I take things a little further:


Gone Too Far


It still works, though — since I have ‘My Documents’ right there in my Start menu, and I keep My Documents nice and tidy.


The main reason I do it, though, is in hopes that one of the desktop hoarder types will see my desktop and shriek in agony at its pristine and total tidiness.


Look, aren’t I lame?


jayfurr: (Sepia)

From time to time I find myself having to upload receipts to some website or another, such as when I have to document a medical expense in order to get reimbursed by my FSA administrator, or when I have to submit business expenses to the site my employer uses to track travel expenses. (I have a company card, but they still want proof I wasn’t off spending money at the “Pink Pony Theater and Museum” and claiming it was dinner at a Waffle House.)

I know that the vast majority of these uploaded receipts are machine-processed and no human ever actually looks at them (unless the machine kicks one back as unreadable).

Nonetheless, I find myself uploading a little something “extra” on occasion. Upload a receipt, throw in a picture of a hamster trying to eat a grapefruit. Upload proof of employment for a loan application, throw in a picture of Spongebob Squarepants’ friend Patrick Star wearing a hula skirt. Just on the off chance that some poor drone whose job consists of reviewing the odd misaligned upload will come across it and go “WTF?” or better yet, smile.

Today’s little freebie, tossed in with a scanned image of a payment for balance due at my doctor’s office:


Corgi Sleigh

I hope whichever person comes across it in today’s upload appreciates the sentiment behind it, and has a slightly less mind-bogglingly-boring day as a result.



jayfurr: (Default)

Some people say I’m fairly intelligent. (And incredibly annoying and irritating, but that’s a subject for another time.)


But I’m not always that way. I have a confession to make.


If you put one of these


wasabi


in front of me, on a plate, along with other items of food, I will plunk the entire thing in my mouth. Just because. It’s not that I don’t know what it is. I do. I simply remain convinced that it won’t ever be “that bad” to eat an entire glob at once.


It always is.


You’d think I’d learn after the fortieth or fiftieth coughing, weeping paroxysm.


Nope.


I never do.


 


jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
Some people say I'm fairly intelligent. (And incredibly annoying and irritating, but that's a subject for another time.)

But I'm not always that way. I have a confession to make.

If you put one of these

wasabi

in front of me, on a plate, along with other items of food, I will plunk the entire thing in my mouth.  Just because.

It's not that I don't know what it is.  I do.  I simply remain convinced that it won't ever be "that bad" to eat an entire glob at once.

It always is.

You'd think I'd learn after the fortieth or fiftieth coughing, weeping paroxysm.

Nope.

I never do.

 
jayfurr: (Montpelier Jay)
Carole ([personal profile] caroleotter) and I made the front page of USA Today today. Seriously. All because our first date in 1995 was shown on the ABC national news.

You can read the article here.

I'm pleased that I didn't get quoted as saying something dumb -- I've had slightly bad luck in that regard. (Reporters have an uncanny knack to seize on the quip you wish you could take back the moment it's out of your mouth.)

(We actually have video from 1995 of our appearance on the news -- you can see THAT here.)

jayfurr: (Montpelier Jay)
Carole ([livejournal.com profile] caroleotter) and I made the front page of USA Today today. Seriously. All because our first date in 1995 was shown on the ABC national news.

You can read the article here.

I'm pleased that I didn't get quoted as saying something dumb -- I've had slightly bad luck in that regard. (Reporters have an uncanny knack to seize on the quip you wish you could take back the moment it's out of your mouth.)

(We actually have video from 1995 of our appearance on the news -- you can see THAT here.)

jayfurr: (Push To Erupt)
The complete video of the ROFLCON "Heroes of Usenet" panel that I was part of is now visible online.

http://roflcon.org/2010/06/01/the-heroes-of-usenet-complete-video/

The video is in three parts. If memory serves, I did very little talking in the first half hour, but got to speak a bit more in the second and third half hour. Comments welcome.



jayfurr: (Default)
So I'm here in Cambridge at ROFLcon II, a conference dedicated to Internet culture, memes, and geekery. They've invited me to be on a panel this afternoon about Usenet, a message board service that probably none of the legions of MIT students in attendance at the con seem to have even heard of, but we obviously haven't spoken to them all.

Usenet was founded down at Duke University and the University of North Carolina in 1979/1980. I actually met, 15 years ago, one of the co-founders, Tom Truscott, who regarded my fanboyish awe at meeting the Creator of Usenet with ironic mirth, saying that, well, wasn't I the celebrity now, and not him?

Jeez. Well, Tom had a point -- I was semi-legendary for my Usenet notoriety, spending way too much time on the message boards ("newsgroups", we called them) thanks to all the excess free time I had in those days of the early 1990s. And that's why I'm a guest here at ROFLcon this weekend.

Very few people use Usenet these days; die-hard dinosaurs still post via Google Groups (a glance at rec.sport.football.college will show that there are certainly still people posting and reading Usenet messages) but otherwise, it's been replaced by more modern message boards on websites, Facebook, Chat Roulette, RSS feeds, and so on.

I'm not too sad about the wind-down of Usenet, something that back in the day was the Internet as far as most people were concerned. (Believe it or not, there was a Time Before The Web when EVERYTHING WAS TEXT-BASED, boys and girls.) I mean, I understand that you no longer have to demonstrate Morse Code competency to get a ham radio license these days, too. (Chorus: "What's a ham radio license?")

But I'm rambling, and my breakfast is getting cold. The point of this message: the first Usenet server (or one of the first handful), brought online at the very beginning, news.duke.edu, is being turned off this weekend, of all weekends. Yes, the university that co-created Usenet in the first place, is turning Usenet off as far as it's concerned, citing its irrelevancy. Read more here.

jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
Briefly put: I will be a guest panelist at "ROFLcon", a con dedicated to Internet pop culture memes this weekend in Cambridge, MA. I will be part of a panel at 2 pm EDT on Saturday, specifically, called "Heroes of Usenet". (Pause for the "Sweet Jeebus" reaction on your part.) The con organizers say it's gonna be streamed on the Intertubes at http://www.roflcon.org/live -- there will be four sessions going simultaneously so I assume you'll have to pick which session you want to watch.

More verbosely put: I'm a guest because I was a HUGE FARKIN' LOSER in the early-to-mid 1990s, spending far too much time on the Internet message boards of the day: purely text-based things that we called Usenet newsgroups. On the panel with me will be Laurence Canter (1/2 of the "Canter and Siegel" or "Green Card Lawyers" Usenet spam team that offered their services helping people get green cards circa 1994), and Brad Templeton, former moderator of the Usenet newsgroup rec.humor.funny and former chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Several other luminaries were to have been on the panel with us but have had to drop out due to health or family issues, but it's possible that others may still be added.

Regardless, I question why on Earth anyone would want to come hear me talk -- I have a nightmarish vision of sitting at a table facing an empty room. Assuming that a large number of the conference attendees will be MIT students who were infants or not yet even born when I was staying up all night being an online loser instead of doing my graduate school homework, I wonder if any of 'em will even know who I am. Hopefully they won't. Notoriety based on extreme lameness is the sort of thing you hope will get forgotten eventually.

Usenet newsgroups are still out there but a lot of internet service providers don't make access to them available any longer and hence you've got to access them via an interface like Google Groups (for example: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.appalachian). If you're REALLY REALLY BORED you can search the Google Groups archive for my name (but be aware, I went by 'Joel Furr' in those days).

You can read more about ROFLCon and see a full schedule at http://www.roflcon.org.

jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
Briefly put: I will be a guest panelist at "ROFLcon", a con dedicated to Internet pop culture memes this weekend in Cambridge, MA. I will be part of a panel at 2 pm EDT on Saturday, specifically, called "Heroes of Usenet". (Pause for the "Sweet Jeebus" reaction on your part.) The con organizers say it's gonna be streamed on the Intertubes at http://www.roflcon.org/live -- there will be four sessions going simultaneously so I assume you'll have to pick which session you want to watch.

More verbosely put: I'm a guest because I was a HUGE FARKIN' LOSER in the early-to-mid 1990s, spending far too much time on the Internet message boards of the day: purely text-based things that we called Usenet newsgroups. On the panel with me will be Laurence Canter (1/2 of the "Canter and Siegel" or "Green Card Lawyers" Usenet spam team that offered their services helping people get green cards circa 1994), and Brad Templeton, former moderator of the Usenet newsgroup rec.humor.funny and former chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Several other luminaries were to have been on the panel with us but have had to drop out due to health or family issues, but it's possible that others may still be added.

Regardless, I question why on Earth anyone would want to come hear me talk -- I have a nightmarish vision of sitting at a table facing an empty room. Assuming that a large number of the conference attendees will be MIT students who were infants or not yet even born when I was staying up all night being an online loser instead of doing my graduate school homework, I wonder if any of 'em will even know who I am. Hopefully they won't. Notoriety based on extreme lameness is the sort of thing you hope will get forgotten eventually.

Usenet newsgroups are still out there but a lot of internet service providers don't make access to them available any longer and hence you've got to access them via an interface like Google Groups (for example: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.appalachian). If you're REALLY REALLY BORED you can search the Google Groups archive for my name (but be aware, I went by 'Joel Furr' in those days).

You can read more about ROFLCon and see a full schedule at http://www.roflcon.org.

jayfurr: (Default)
Weight vest: 20 pounds. Wrist weights: 10 pounds each. Ankle weights: 10 pounds each. Net effect: I look like a complete idiot. But hey.




Milk

May. 13th, 2008 07:26 am
jayfurr: (New Glasses)
I was feeling silly last night.

This was the result:

http://www.furrs.org/images/milk/default.htm

Profile

jayfurr: (Default)
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