Thursday, November 30, 2006

Righteous Indignation - Update at end!

Before I go off, I'd like to give a nice howdy do to a new commenter, dutifully linked on the blogroll, The Gooch. Thanks for coming by. Love your blog.

Now, on to the meat of the post. This is the last time I'm going to go over this story, then I'm going to let it go.

Today was one of those days from Hell. It began with a struggle with Maverick to get him dressed in some semblance of a reasonable amount of time, without him whining. Of course, he spent more time whining about getting dressed than actually getting dressed. Bottom line I arrived at work in a not so friendly mood.

The first thing I hear (at 7:30 am) is my lead tech saying he needs to talk to me. Ok, I take a couple of minutes to get settled, and see what's up. It turns out that a visiting legal type person from our sister office in Schenectady was in town yesterday and today. Last night, right around 5 pm, he decided that the level of service we were giving (which users in our office constantly tell me is first rate) was insufficient for his needs. And he proceeded to harass, badger, threaten, and otherwise try to bully my personnel into getting him whatever it was he thought he needed. In speaking to my personnel, I felt that they had done everything they could and gone above and beyond the call of duty, even staying late, to assist said user.

I just about lost it right there. I'm aware that my counterparts in Schenectady in the tech support department do not enjoy as good a reputation with their users as we do. However, that is no reason for someone to think they can come into my office and start pushing my people around. The bottom line for me is that while this guy may think he's some kind of hot-shot, and that he can roll over people in his office, Homey don't play that. There was no way I was going to let this guy roll over me or my staff. Fuck that.

So I played it cool at first. I was going to see our top legal person and ask her to speak with said Primadonna and basically tell him that it is unacceptable to treat my staff in this manner. If that talk was not sufficient, I was ready to go up the chain of command. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to speak to her before I had to go to a series of meetings. While in one of these meetings, a very important one concerning integration of our two networks, I get a text message from our admin that this user needs assistance. I was going to hold off until the meeting was done, as we were planning on wrapping up soon. A minute later, I get another text message stating I must come immediately as this user refused to be assisted by my lead tech. AND that he's going to my boss' boss as well as the VP in charge of our entire site. Mind you, my lead tech has a much mellower disposition than I and knows WAY more that I do about our systems (which is as it should be).

Now I'm really pissed. So I break out of the meeting, determined to TRY and be pleasant with this jerk. I go find out where he's sitting. When I get there, the bastard left to go to HIS MEETING! He couldn't even bother to wait for assistance. Now I'm totally torqued. I find my pal in legal (our person that is) and just totally go off. "You need to talk to this *&^% guy before I kill him, rawr, rawr, rawr!!!!" I was livid. Of course, she then tells me that he's above her on the food chain and she can't really say anything to him.

So my next stop is HR. Cause now I just want to kill the guy and I need advise on how to do it without getting fired. Unfortunately, HR's advice was to first calm down, then talk to the loser professionally. And call him on his bluff to see senior management if I don't seem to be getting anywhere. Which I would have LOVED to do, seeing as the VP running our office is totally cool and knows how well my guys support everyone. That would have ruled.

Once I've left HR and am back on my way to my office, I find out that Loser Legal Guy has become totally frustrated, packed his bags, and gone home. Literally. He was supposed to do some sort of conference call thing with both sites at 10 am. He was out of the building and headed back to Schenectady by then. Good riddance. I've been told he probably won't need to come back. Which is good. He annoyed the piss out of everyone he had to deal with while he was here.

The only positive side of this mess is that after all this was done, I got a call from one of the department managers wanting to vent their frustration that a couple of their users were still having PC issues that had not been resolved in a couple of weeks. I realized that I had been neglecting some of my customer service skills with the key people in the organization to keep them happy, due to all the craziness lately. So I decided to drop in on the users and see what was going on. I got two out of three issues resolved in 30 minutes, had happy users, and had the manager stop by and profusely thank me for helping out, and totally understand that we've been trying everything we could to fix the issues. I even came out and said we should have fixed this stuff sooner, and she said they were just happy it was fixed and thanks so much for helping out.

Damn I love the people I work with. A little appreciation goes a long way.

As a coda to this whole saga, I had to stop by to assist Legal Gal near the end of the day on an issue with her laptop. She tells me to close the door, and says she was in a meeting with our VP earlier, and did a "BTW, I heard a rumor" type of thing and explained what she knew about what was going on with Loser Legal Guy. And how our support guys seemed to be going out of their way to help but she didn't know what the deal was. Our VP's reaction? Too bad for him. She agreed that it was unacceptable for him to be treating personnel here in that manner.

Like I said, the people I work with rock. Of course, it helps that I spent the last three years building relationships with these people and making sure they got great support from my staff. But there's the payoff. The Big Guy (Gal in this case) has got my back. More specifically, got my guy's backs. Cause that's what good managers do. Take care of their people and keep them from getting screwed by assholes with an inflated sense of self importance.

(big breath out) There. All gone.

Update: I just got a call from our VP of Operations here (basically our CEO type person). She asked me what had happened and I played it all off. She told me if I have problems like that in the future feel free to get her involved as that type of behavior is uncalled for. She was very supportive. As I've said before, the people I work with rock.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Just Desserts

Since I don't have a lot of time today, I'll give you a quickie. I saw this on the ABC News website. It appears a judge has determined our illustrious Leader of the Free World is indeed not the Supreme Ruler of the Universe he seems to think he is. A judge ruled that the Executive Order he signed giving him the authority to label whomever he wishes as a "terrorist group" was unconstitutional in that it was too vague and impinged on our right of free association.

In other words, some idiot in the White House can't call you a terrorist just because you complain about the government and are a Muslim, malcontent, or whatever. It's nice to know someone out there still has some common sense. I would love to totally rant on this, but I need to get back to work.

Later, peeps.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Holiday Weekend so far

Well, it's been quite a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend so far. We began Wednesday night when my mom came over to "help" prepare some of the dishes ahead of time. I was concerned to have my mom and the Wife in the same kitchen together, but it went amazingly smooth, much to my relief. We prepped sweet potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, and the stuffing. Thanksgiving morning we got the turkey in the oven early, and got to take a little break. The kids watched the Macy's parade and I got to think of all my NYC blogger pals out there. Too bad Julz wasn't out there, we'd have looked for her on TV.

Also surprisingly, preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving meal was pretty smooth and nearly stress free. I believe the Wife stressed for a few moments only once. We had my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin over. Everything was ready pretty much on time so the meal came together nicely. Of course we had WAY more food than 7 adults and 2 children can eat, but that's what Thanksgiving's all about, right? We had something like 6 different desserts: 3 pies, cheesecake, this brownie/pudding/whipped cream concoction my cousin brought (that was HEAVENLY, BTW), and I can't remember what else. We managed to get rid of most of the food by giving it to our guests but the desserts stayed here. There's no way we're going to go through them all so if anyone would like some, please feel free to drop by.

The dinner itself was very pleasant. Unlike a typical Italian gathering, there wasn't a lot of loud talking, arguing, or generally obnoxious behavior. We all just hung out, ate, drank coffee, and chatted. I felt a little bad for the boys since there were no kids but them, but they managed all right. The funniest thing was when, after dark, we hear the door open. Grasshopper decided he wanted to go outside and play cause he was bored. Poor kid! Once we got the boys to bed, we were both exhausted and totally crashed.

Yesterday we did our part to boost the economy and went out Christmas shopping. I had gambled this year that the mall would be no too bad, as in the last 2 years electronics stores and Target/Wal-Mart were insane. While this was true this year, the department stores were also mobbed. However, my attitude yesterday was not to get all of the doorbuster-sale stuff, but get whatever was available. We left the house around 9:30 (cause I ain't getting up at no 3 am to be there when the store opens. Fuck that.). We hit Kohl's first and ended up being there about 2 hours, 53 minutes of which the Wife spent in line (she timed it). After that it was lunch at the Cracker Barrel (yum!) followed by the mall, which was not too crowded since all of the doorbuster sales were now over.

On an amusing note, during our meal, our server asked if we'd gone to Cardinal Mooney High School (which we had). He recognized us and I looked at his name tag, which said Dan. Though I didn't recognize the face, I new of only one Dan from our graduating class that went into food service, and it was indeed him. Turns out he was a chef for a long time and decided to now go into education, so he's waiting tables as a low stress job while going to school. The boys thought it was odd that someone our age would be just now going to college, until we explained the concept of going back to school. They gave us the big Ohhhhh! Anyway, it was great seeing someone from the "old days". We dropped him a generous tip, he being a pal and the service being quite good and all.

There aren't too many plans for the rest of the weekend. I need to do minimal grocery shopping today and since the weather is good I'm putting up the Christmas lights. Now that it's actually Christmas season and all. We have one or two more items we'd like to get this weekend, like Christmas cards for one. But for the most part, I want to take it easy. I think we all need a little break from our hectic schedule before it starts up again Monday.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rocking the House

Friday night Faith on Fire got to play at the Diocesan Youth Convention. We thought we had 90 minutes but it turned out to be 60. We quickly redid our set list to include pretty much just up-beat numbers with one or two slow numbers in there. The kids loved the show. They were dancing and singing and just having a good time. Feedback we got was that they left and told their friends how good we were. The highlight of the evening had to be when we did an original called Keep the Faith. The chorus normally ends with the line "just keep the faith", except at the end of the song where we finish on the line before. This was the first time these kids had heard the song and when we stopped, they kept going and sang "just keep the faith". How cool is that?

The gig did show the band that we need to work a little harder at songs like those. We were reading off of music and we need to flat out memorize all the songs to do it like a real band. We also need to get a little tighter. But the Spirit was moving through us and I think we reached the kids.

Today was a 5th grade Mass at church. Maverick was excited about it, he likes it when he gets recognized. They printed all the names of the 5th graders in the parish in a special program that was handed out to everyone. The Wife began teaching the monthly faith formation program this year so she got her name in there as a catechist, which I thought was cool. Maverick got a bible at the end of Mass and was already reading it tonight. We appear to be doing something right with the boy.

This year we're having my family over for Thanksgiving. It will be my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin along with us. My brother always spends Thanksgiving with his wife's family, and my sister is going to NYC to have Thanksgiving with her sister-in-law. Since we would have normally gone to my mom's house, I invited her here instead so I don't have to go anywhere. We put together a "small" menu and already the Wife is wondering what the hell we're going to do with all the food. Cause in an Italian household, a small meal will still feed about 40 people even though only 10 are showing up. I'll probably post stories this weekend.

Anyway, in case I don't get to your page before Thursday, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and don't go out of your minds shopping on Friday. As a matter of fact, stay home and enjoy a day off with no stress.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pondering of Biblical Proportions

I mentioned last week Faith on Fire did a gig at St. Leo's church. During the talk by the really loud and energenic speaker, I got a chance to look at some of the materials placed on tables by the church. Grant you, I was not surprised by any of it, since it was the kind of things you would expect to find in a Catholic church. There was a table devoted to the anti-abortion movement. I did get a perverse amusement out of the plastic fetuses in little cups. Not sure of the point, but I thought it was a shame to throw away fetuses like that.

There was a bulletin board devoted to the Army with what I assume were pictures of parishoners in the Army in Iraq. A bumper sticker did make me shake my head a little. It said "Veterans for Bush". I'm not sure who these guys are, but I'd bet you can visit them all in the VA psyche ward.

One of the other tables had a lot of "relationship" literature. Stuff on celibacy, marriage, divorce, etc. Two things caught my eye. The first was for a group that call themselves the e5men. The get their name from Ephesians chapter 5, one of the famous "wives be submissive to your husbands, husbands love your wives" chapters of the Epistles. Now, normally I get a kick out of this passage since I really don't believe it for a second. I also don't think it really jibes with other of Paul's writings. Some biblical scholars believe this passage was actually inserted later. Be that as it may, my personal belief is in marriage as a partnership, but I digress.

What I really found amusing about these guys is their mission. It seems that the entire point of this group is for Christian men to fast once a month for one day, preferable the first Wednesday of the month, on bread and water alone, "for your bride for her spiritual growth and healing". I stood there wondering, exactly what kind of healing does my Wife need and how would fasting provide it? I mean, I'm all for praying for the spiritual growth of my wife, and I'm ok with fasting, but I believe fasting is meant to bring an individual closer to God. I just found the entire concept amusing. Not to mention the fact that I wasn't sure what the hell this had to do with the passage. They seem to be centering on the "love your wife as Christ loved the church" kind of thing. I got more of the impression it was to pray that your wife would realize she's supposed to be subservient to you. Overall, I thought it was rather silly.

What made me shake my head more was the flyer on natural family planning. Not that I've got anything against it, it works really well for some people. It was a little piece of propaganda that was buried in it. It was talking about all the reasons natural family planning was better than "unnatural birth control". It mentioned that since the introduction of "unnatural birth control" and specifically since it's wide availability in the 60s, the divorce rate had skyrocketed. It implied, but did not come out and say, that use of artificial birth control was the cause of the high divorce rate.

So let me get this straight: are they saying that if you have a large family, you won't get divorced? The parents will take the attitude that since there are too many kids for one person to raise, they'll stay together "for the kids" even though they hate each other?

Or are they saying that by using "unnatural birth control" couples have less emotional attachment to each other and love each other less? Or that by not having children, couples will be less happy and more likely to split up?

I must admit, the wife and I have used "unnatural birth control". At the risk of TMI, the Wife has a very irregular menstrual cycle (among other things). Her GYN recommended birth control to make her "regular" as well as control her "symptoms". As a couple, we've decided that two children is a perfect size family. If we tried "natural family planning", the result would either be more children, which would probably stress us out to the brink of divorce, or result in no sex, which would probably have the same effect. So how is "unnatural birth control" contributing to the likelihood of us getting divorced? We're pretty happy as a couple right now. I have no plans to trade her in on a new model, and as far as I know, she's not ready to trade me in either.

I thought it was a pretty low thing to do to associate two things that really are unrelated. It would be like associating the increased use of contraception with an increase in the murder rate. Or has someone done that already?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Because you asked for it

I've received requests for pictures with the new look. So I felt I should oblige. Let me start with the original baby face picture.

Next, a more recent picture of me as I look up until Saturday (though the shot is from the summer).

Finally, the current look (also with Grasshopper). In case you're wondering, I'm the babyface on the right. I know it will be hard to tell.

So now it's time for you all to decide whether to keep the new look or go back to the old. Cause I'm sure no matter what I really want to do, you guys will tell me what I should do anyway. I will now stand back.


- I'm tired and cranky today.

- The Wife wants to get a dog and I'm adamantly against it. Stay tuned.

- I shaved the beard this weekend and am still getting used to looking at that new guy in the mirror.

- One of my friends and co-workers decided to leave the company after 17 years here. I'm so bummed.

- I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already next week. Where did November go?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Random post

Just thought I'd ramble a bit. First, I'd like to welcome a new reader, Rhea. She's a for real writer in the Boston area. Thanks for coming by. I've added you to my blogroll.

Faith on Fire played Friday night for a conference/teen Mass. It was a pretty good gig. We started by doing an acousticy set for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession. We then played for Mass. It was the feast day of St. Leo, for whom the church was named. After the Mass, there was an inspirational speaker. He was one of those types that shouts a lot and tells motivational stories. I suppose he was ok, but I'm not really into that type of speaker. We were supposed to do another hour set after he was done, but first the Mass went over, then the speaker went over, so by the time we could go on again, it was 9:45 pm. Everyone was pretty much leaving so there was no point in doing our set. We did two songs mostly for us just for fun. We didn't mind so much, but if we'd have known the speaker was going to go on so long, we could have packed up 2 hours earlier. Oh, well. That's how it goes in rock and roll.

Today the Wife began her new stint teaching Family Faith Formation at church. It's a once a month program that we've been attending for the last couple of years. The instructor couldn't do it any longer and asked her if she'd step in. The Wife was excited about doing it, but has been stressing about it for about the last two weeks. She even dreamed about it last night and how things went wrong. Of course, she was brilliant leading the group. She got many positive comments from the parents in the group. The kids warmed up pretty quickly and it went smoothly. Now that the first class is under her belt, I think it will go better next time.

We have a typical week coming up. Nothing out of the ordinary other than a Faith on Fire gig at the Diosocene Youth Conference Friday. We may go to the local outlet mall Saturday. Both myself and Maverick (especially him) are in need of new jeans and they have good prices there. Lately I'm getting to hate shopping. Or perhaps it's just I'm getting cheap in my old age and just hate spending money.

Finally, a quick shout out to my pal Lois. We co-wrote the song Thank You Lord. It is a huge favorite with the Faith on Fire members. They refer to it as "that Counting Crows song". Thanks for providing such great lyrics. You totally rock. And I promise I'll get a recording to you one of these days of the whole band doing it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sign #257 You've Been Married Too Long

We were watching Jeopardy tonight, and the Final Jeopardy category was Celebrity Relatives. I looked at the Wife and said Billy Carter. She looked back and said "That's exactly what I thought!"

Who even remembers Billy Carter? Or Billy Beer?

New Project

I've decided to start a new project. It's a colaborative sort of blog where I'm looking for people to submit stories. I'm going to kind of moderate and post the good stuff. The new blog is here. I'm not putting too much detail here, as the new blog is designed to be an anonymous sort of place. Check it out, and if you know anyone that wants to vent, give them the URL. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Vote!

Those of you here in the US should know today is Election Day. I'm a fervent believer in being involved in the process, so I encourage everyone to get their asses out there and vote today. You can't affect what's going on in the country if you stay home and let other people decide for you. If you hate what's going on in Washington, then vote for the other guy. Same goes locally. If you think your representatives are doing a hell of a job, then vote for those guys. I shall not endorse any political position today (as if you don't know my leanings).

Just Go Vote! I already have.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Buffalo Navy Yard Sleepover

This weekend was our sleepover at the Buffalo Naval Museum. The museum contains three ships, the cruiser USS Little Rock (CLG-4), the destroyer USS The Sullivans (DD-537), and the submarine USS Croaker (SS-246).

All pictures from the visit can be found here.

The first thing that struck me when we got on board was the smell. Naval ships have a distinctive smell that you just can't describe. It's simply "ship smell" as the Wife so eloquently puts it. But dammit, the second we got on board, there it was. I flashed back nearly 15 years to my time on USS Bainbridge. The whole weekend was that sense of a long time/no time at all had passed. One of the very first things I noticed was that PIMA (if you recall him from the last sleepover) was not in attendance. I will not say I danced for joy, as that would be wrong. But I will say that it was much quieter than the previous sleepover.

We actually stayed on the USS Little Rock, not the USS The Sullivans, as I had previously thought. We started out by claiming a rack. We got to berthing in the front of the line so I got us all one set of racks. Of course I was on the bottom as it had the most room. Maverick took the middle and Grasshopper was on the top rack. After a safety brief, we got to wander the ship until evening chow. The POD (Plan of the Day) set evening chow at 183o. We were all set in berthing by 1730, so we had a good hour to look around. I got to show the boys an officer's stateroom which was laid out a lot like the one I slept in, we toured the missile house and I got to show off my knowledge to kids and parents alike, and we got to check out 6 inch guns.

Evening chow was "seagull" fingers, which the boys enjoyed immensely. I must admit, this chow was much better than most of the Navy chow I had. After chow, they had two movies going. Aft they had a kids movie (Toy Soldiers I beleive) and The Fighting Sullivans (in honor of the ship) in the wardroom. I dropped the kids off aft before retiring to the wardroom for the "grown up" movie. However, Grasshopper soon joined me and also enjoyed the movie.

Lights out was at 2230. I had hoped to get a good night's sleep, as PIMA was not around to keep me awake, but alas, in the rack directly across from me was Snoring Guy. Not just gentle snoring, but the wake the dead level of snoring that would ensure no rest even for the wicked, let alone the weary. Luckily, the snores subsided to only slightly annoying level within a hour and we got about as much sleep as you can on a moderately comfortable rack. Grasshopper was up at 2 am since his sleeping bag, which he used like a blanket, fell off and he was cold. I had the dad hearing thing going for a while to make sure he'd settled down and finally managed to get some rest.

Reville was at 0630 (luckily not Zero Dark Thirty) to put our gear in our cars before morning chow. The boys enjoyed a hearty breakfast (the each had 2 slices of french toast, sausage, juice, AND milk and cereal). After that, we were free to tour the ships. We spent the next couple of hours touring the topside spaces on the Little Rock which were off limits the evening before. Again I got to regale my children and compatriots with "real" stories from the US Navy and give some depth and insight into the things we were seeing.

The boys were suitable impressed on how cramped a submarine was and were able to see my wisdom in choosing the surface nuclear fleet over the submarine fleet. Those things are just too damn cramped. The Sullivans was about the same size as the Bainbridge AND we got to tour the engine room so I got to put on my Engineering hat again and explain boilers and turbines and feed pumps and the steam cycle. All in all it was a lot of fun, both for myself and the boys. The thing that struck me the most probably was that I still miss the Navy at times. Not all of it, obviously, but certainly the comraderie and sense of being part of a select group. It's difficult to explain being in the military to someone that has not been, and I think each branch of service has it's own unique experience. I was a sailor for 5 years and it's still a part of me.