Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A lamb among lions

I don't know how it came to pass that I had a toy lamb from an animal farm set which I found in a box of toy soldiers but I placed it on top of the bookshelves with the rest of the soldiers on display. The lamb sits, legs curled, amid the like-scale combatants facing off in two groups, the lamb giving the acute violence around it no mind.

And there's a dude with a fucking flamethrower. I don't care how Zen-like a sheep you are when someone can jet propel flame and you're delicious it's time to fuck off out of dodge.

Stupid sheep.

Fixed trigger

A super trigger was up on the home page for days. It caused anxiety but after a while the hurt passed. While I didn't access the report I read its web intro and saw there was a typo.

I had the typo fixed. I didn't bother the originators. I just emailed the tech directly.

That is the strength of resilience. That I can stare that super trigger in the face and care enough to fix it makes me a supraman.


I kept calm and carried on

Freshly wounded from administrative reality I dwelt in a place of distress. This morning was hard, trying not to focus on said reality, and instead focus on what I was doing before—fixing broken webpages.

Because while the admin rolls along I am determined to do the best for as long as I am where I am. 

So once I logged in I kept calm and carried on, laboriously bringing content over from to-be-killed sites to populate new pages but also applying treatment for correct standard and accessibility. Good, solid, useful work you can lose yourself in.

I also fixed an IT issue and got a win on the building improvement front; keeping hot water and chilled water on until evening instead of close of business because some people work late.

I have doubts and I have worries. But there is no doubt I worry for others and that worrying—and rectifying—gives me purpose and function.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Well it was a nice day for them to carve up a tree

With thanks to the pleasant weather of a Canberra afternoon

After an epic cook off the lingering side-effects are fatigue, increased IBS and susceptibility to fight (slash) flight. Loud, unpleasant noises, for example, are hideous and may trigger a subconscious panic that I have no logical control of and I have to sometimes just run the fuck away. 

It was a hard day of brutal, withering administrative reality and I tapped out early. Only to come home to two men, two doors up with two chainsaws, a giant tree and a wood chipper. Noise makers not good for Mikey.

I armed up with wax ear plugs overlain with my industrial strength earmuffs as I untangled the two metres of headphone cable so I could watch TV aboard the exercise bike with ear phones on and with the earmuffs over them. Glasses, sweat and the double cover on the ears made for an unpleasant experience but I could hear TV and not at all hear the sound of chainsaws or the chipper.

By the time I finished the ride aboard SoTPC, they'd finished for the day. I presume them back on the morrow to keep going because it was a monster of a tree. 

I hope they are finished by the time I get home.  

UPDATE: They did the tree in the one session. Thank fuck.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lint trap, head trap

With thanks to Dr Seuss.

Due to the tight space of our laundry our dryer is mounted upside-down above the washing machine. The dryer is designed to be able to do that but the thing is the lint trap, or filter, is designed for the the regular use of right way up. Upside down then when the lint trap fills with lint then gravity means the lint trap filter will slide out of the machine when you open the door. 

You forever have to be ready to catch it in case it slips out and lands on your head. 

Sometimes, though, it's deceptive. It doesn't immediately slide out. So you open the machine, to pull out clothes and nothing happens. You think you're okay and get to work and that's when the little fucker drops and lands on your head.

I am balding. That is to say I still have head hair but it's mostly the sides. My scalp is an upthrust garden of sparse hairs, like the paddock of a sheep pasture after a farmer ring-barked 99.9 per cent of the trees in the mistaken idea that was the best way to use the environment. 

The lint trap, a framework of hard white plastic encasing a fine mesh screen to catch lint, hurts when it lands handle-first on a near hairless head. Cushioning head hair is actually useful hair to have; it's not just a subconscious cue of genetic health and desirability. 

I am now primed to preemptively clean the trap each time I use the dryer. Which, as luck would have it, the dryer tells me to do in large black plastic letters going each way—for upside users and the right-side up.

I can't blame the dyer peeps, they did warn me to do it. They didn't warn me it would be like an Indiana Jones movie each time I used the fucker in the upside down mode until enough scalp wound incidents prompted me to pre-clean the trap lest it happen. 

I recognise on a scale of worries to have, this is pretty far down the list of even normal first world problems. But as a short man in a not-nice-to-short-men world the lint trap is annoying to clean, that's why I wasn't doing it, because I have to stretch to get to the handle and go up on my toes like a child. Then, after cleaning, I have to stretch to slot it back in and hope it's gone in solidly enough for it not to then slide out and clonk me on the head.

So it's not just for me I kvetch, but for all short, angry, balding men.

(fist raised for the like-afflicted

Cooked off

Layered stresses lay upon me like a cloak of dark and this morning I cooked off. I was a babbling, incoherent wreck in acute distress not making much sense to even myself. The panicked child had taken over and the logical adult was huddled in a mind corner.

I ended up on the shed floor cradling the stem of my exercise bike SoTPC like it was the neck of a friendly, seated alpaca that was content to let me hang onto it and wail.

After about 10 minutes I was calming and by 20 I was still on floor cradling the alpaca neck but no longer a heaving, crying, fright monster.

Even with logic returned the anxiety attack left me riddled with fatigue. I crawled into bed for an in-and-out sleep of four hours.

Now I am going to try and exercise in spite of it. 

I loathe these attacks. They're rarer now, and I get through them quicker, but that one was so bad that even as I babbled the mindfullness steps I would take to battle it I was so panicked I was not sure if I could do it.

But I did, and I can. That I still can have these moments but continue on once they're done is because I am resilient and because I have people that give a shit about me.


UPDATE: I did the ride, had a shower, and hours later feel much calmer. Not Zen-calm but neither a huddled mass of tears and stress. Hooray for getting the fuck back up.

Friday, May 27, 2016


About eight years ago we moved south. Since my north-side video shop—by then having transitioned to DVDs—was no longer to be used I adapted my video barcode key tag to be a "property of" tag instead. I printed off in a small size font my name, two phone numbers and an email then put the sticky label over the top of the now defunct barcode which the video shop used to zap when I took out a DVD.

Just in case I ever lost my keys.

I got a call from the café to say I'd left my keys there just as I reached my desk. It's a 500 metre round trip to the place of yum so with a weary sigh I chuffed off to reclaim them.

Once again past-Mikey stepped up to the plate and delivered for now me thanks to his recycled taggery. I am constantly astonished at his foresight, fortitude and forbearance.

I know, speaking of past me in the third person is a tad grandiose.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It helped to hear it

Like all white collar people I have to undergo periodic assessments of how I am performing. 

Sometimes they can be brutal, sometimes they can be benign. Sometimes they can sing.

I got a recent song-filled one. The best comment was "Just because you have a degree in our field doesn't mean you're any good in our field—but you're good."

I know it but it helped to hear it.

I am not just good at my trade; I excel.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

No earth shattering kaboom

For years I've thought I'd been a possible cog in a cultural shift. I felt pretty good about myself. 

But I never knew for sure. An opportunity came to flat-out ask someone if I had been a cog and they said I was not.

I held onto thatthat I was a possible coglike you would not believe.

So I lost it. I lost that feeling of having been possibly cog-awesome. Oh sure, I'm still awesome. I'm just not the possibly cog-awesome person I thought I was. I feel like Schrodinger after he opened the box and found a dead cat. All these years I lived with the potential of the yes and now I deal with the reality of the no.

I told thewife about it on the ride home and she reminded me that have always been awesomeeven if I was not the cog-awesome person I thought I possibly had been.

Feeling cog-awesome was awesome and I want that feeling back.

It's a reality burn on me. I just had to know and now I know it's a no; noooooooo!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Re-gaffed my ugg boot

The silver gaffer tape keeping the hole closed on the top of my left ugg boot frayed so I had to re-gaff the hole with black gaffer tape, which now matches the black tape on the matching boot covering a like hole. They're so old and shapeless with the matching colored tape I'll have trouble telling them apart. I'd go as far as to mark L on the left and R on the right except I slop to the shops in them.

Re-gaffing a hole in an ugg boot—that felt pretty Oz.

UPDATE: The left one has more tape and that tape tapers around the edge of its actual direction. That is how I shall know!

Big day

It was a big day. A big, exhausting day. 

I had a pit crew meeting. While it was an anxiety-riddled event I got praised for good work—that I was an asset respected for his gumption and talent. It was nice to hear. I know I'm awesome but it's far more awesome to have someone else say it than me. If I say it I just sound like a tool.

Post meet I ached in the tum and my body was sore. But then I lost myself in the monastic-like work of going through the mega page of links, a rat king of broken HTML hook-ups, link-by-link, to repair each I could, and euthanise the ones I could not. It's a project spanning days and I only just got halfway through the alphabet. 

Then it was home time and time to away with two buses taking me to near my door. I  managed to read on the bus and it wasn't until aboard SoTPC that I mulled over the pain-riddled parts of the past hours. That's okay; aboard an exercise bike is a healthy place to do it since your body is in thrum with a machine and anxiety is held at bay by the physicality of the exercise. The trick is letting it go when the ride ends—and I had to ride another kay and a bit before I could trust myself to dismount without brooding further.

So it's WFTW. Exhausting, haggard WFTW but WFTW nonetheless.

Onward and fucking upward (crawl, crawl).

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Stolen pen no longer rolling

I knowingly and publicly stole a pen from a recent pokie palace visit—I was at reception, held their pen up and said "I need a pen; can I please have it?" and they did not say no—but it was sans pen led and of the tubular kind.

Which means when I place it on the book in the shed where I note my exercise and other metrics unless the book is flat the pen rolls off and into the innards of the box of crap the book sits on.

So I needed to make the stolen pen stop rolling. I thought "I wonder if I have a dead pen with with a lid in the crap drawer?"—a drawer in an old wooden vanity table where the slurry of former office desk tat was poured upon entry to the shed—only to open the drawer to see a glorious blue pen lid without a pen in dire need of a pen to slot on.

It was like I'd become the Tinder for pens and pen lids. 

I hope the sentient pens from that planet Zaphod's friend Veet Voojagig discovered (1) know this if they ever invade Earth that I helped pens and pen lids from different places hook up and find synchronicity.

I am one with the pen people. 

I can, of course, also be helpful in rounding up others to toil as per their pen-based needsink factories, pen-bling salons and so forth (2).

(1) The inhabitants of which are implied were later enslaved by Zaphod then sold. 
(2) Why am I always so ready to chuck it in and serve alien overlords? Am I the sort of petty man that craves power and, upon an alien invasion, see the means to obtain power by chucking in with the occupiers like someone in Vichy France or Quisling's Norway? I like to think not but then when I blog I keep comedically insinuating I would instantly kow-tow and serve our new masters in any capacity. Maybe it's an evolutionary thing, an instant desire to submit to glorious and correct authority like a Trump voter? No, if I look back on a life of active standing up and insisting on correct and proper treatment of people such colleagues, clients and the vulnerable then I'd be hot-footing into the hills to join the rebels and stay back at camp to entertain the children while the able-bodied resisters are heading off to sabotage. Fuck that running about the woods with guns shit. I'm next to the fire telling stories. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Third ping

I sent a third ping as per one of my three, six and 12 month goals upon re-spawn. I got a ping back—another faint one but a confirmation ping nonetheless.

It felt good to have fired another shot into the dark. 

I spent the day carving up PDFs and converting some of them to Word to meet accessibility. Sometimes there's a preceding text, sometimes you have to rebuild it. I lost my day slicing and dicing then writing and uploading. It was toil you had to think about—due to the aging computer system I have to build hyperlinks in Outlook then paste the links into Word. Because to try and insert a hyperlink within Word itself is to cause your document to hang and force a re-boot.

Even with the annoying work-around it was useful, needed toil and I felt useful and needed doing it. 

To be useful and needed gives purpose and working with purpose is the best kind of work there is.


UPDATE: Third ping failed, as did the others. But, to have tried—and to keep trying—is a goal in of itself. It's like that recent bit (spoilers) from Game of Thrones

Jon Snow—"I failed."

Onion Knight—"Good, now go out and fail again."

So I'll go out and fail again. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The rust flaked off but it still worked

I've been working long enough to have been involved in a tender process. 

Let me stress how horrid it is to be involved in a tender process—writing it, reading it, vetting it, whatever it is the process sucks brass door knobs. Which I imagine would be both difficult and irritating to suck.

I got chucked into prepping a document from a panel of providers and the rusted-old tender skills, honed over that short span of my career where I had to be involved in a tender, kicked in. The document proved not that troublesome—touch wood—to turn around.

I had flashbacks, man, to it—the tender process, from the before ago. It was just nasty. That entire tender process. Long and nasty.

If you have a chance to avoid being part of one, then kudos. That being said, if you get stuck in a tender you do pick up mad skillz doing it—and suffer hideous, hideous stress. Boring stress, too—not the fun stuff. Just hideous, boring stress.

(body trembles at the tender recall).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Community meetings meets the sounds of sadness

I've done a seasonally adjusted Punxsutawney Phil and emerged into doing things again—especially at night. Just getting through a work day intact and not end it riven with fatigue has been the initial challenge but I've gotten better so I am back out of my comfort zone—but with a friend—doing in the community stuff.

Only the meetings are held in a pokie palace and when the door is open you hear machines pinging off with their win tune—or whatever music it is they've engineered to make sad people throw their money away. One of them is a steam whistle from a fucking train.

It made me laugh more than once after someone said something with suitable gravitas, or even not at all, and it was then followed by the steam whistle noise of choo, choo!

But that is the landscape such community events are held within. And I have to confess being able to nip out and get a drink and then back come in with it was an added plus.

Community engagement for the win. 

UPDATE: I forgot, I gave myself a speaking role. I promised the group three minutes and I went under. I was concise, I was wry, got a laugh and I had no appreciable impact. Hooray for getting the fuck back up!

Monday, May 09, 2016

The IT equivalent of hosing out a dead shut in

I settled back into a long labour of fixing a massive page of weblinks—each link broken and dated to a time of using a different content management tool. 

Clicking on a link took you to a busted re-direct, but looking up a link's properties allowed me to check the original site it was going to to check if it was still going. About 50 per cent were not—that or the information had changed and the link needed to go somewhere else. 

Even though it was labour and concentration intensive it was useful work—and I got my detective buzz on when I had to hunt down better or more recent links to replace some of the old.

How lucky am I to work in a white collar wonderland and spending my days in useful e-toil? At the end the page will no longer be the fetid after effect of a shut in's corpse mouldering but be lovingly restored to usability.

Useful and engrossing workeven if boring—is still useful and engrossing.


Friday, May 06, 2016

I enjoyed the shiny fruits of my labours

Being mobility impaired—I can walk but it hurts and my knees sometimes feel they will split any second—I have to use lifts instead of stairs, even if going just a floor or two.

I also have my delicious cheek scar. 

As luck would have it the lift cars I've been taking of late are the ones I got lit up with LEDs, the luminescence significantly increased. So when I'm alone it's allowed me to turn to the mirrored back wall and rapidly inspect the stupid worry scar and worry whether to worry at it. 

Either that or I just stand there in the cold bright light and marvel that I got the fuckers fixed—and for the next ten years given projected lifespan of LEDs.

The downside of my fruits though has been the death of my one-man-lift shows. Whenever I was in a lift with someone and one of the lights was out I'd joke that it felt like we were in a first person shooter and we should get ready for the monster that would surely spawn in front of us upon the doors opening. It usually got a laugh and I'd sometimes shout as they left "Have a great day; I'm Mikey!"

I think 10 years of bright light is worth the sacrifice of the bit; comrades before chuckles.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Not pretty; effective

There's an old line of "I'm not pretty but I'm pretty effective". That's me.

Today, without realising it, I walked through the outcome of a successful Mikey attempt to improve his work environment. i was so engrossed in thoughts of the day I was on autopilot as I walked from the lift to my desk. So it was my foxpod colleagues that alerted me to it being done and, once informed, I rushed back and saw.

They'd cleaned the carpet.

There was a giant fucking stain outside the kitchenette on the long walk to our desks and due to the lighting you could see it about 20 metres out. 

It looked ugly and made our environment ugly.

So, fuck it, I put in a request to get it cleaned—using the name of a senior person on my floor and noting the presence of VIPs that come along the passage. I hoped that would be enough justification instead of having to wait for annual clean in the distant late of the calendar year.

And they cleaned it. They cleaned up the horrible fucking spot and now the carpet looks just scuffed and worn instead of scuffed, worn and hideously stained which, with the latter, is a slippery slope to it becoming a crack den.

Okay, so that's an exaggeration.

Having a clean, safe, well-lit work environment is critical to workplace well-being. Yet just a few of us actually put in the effort—often
in the face of opposition—to bring improvement or even basic rectification to our workplaces.

I call such people workplace warriors. I am one; I've been one since the beginning.


UPDATE: With the carpet dried the stain is still there—but barely discernible where before it was glaring. So it's yet another win and, unlike Trump voters, I will not tire of winning.