Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Instant Mess

I used to think of instant messaging as something the kids use, with generous helpings of OMG, ROFL, TTFN and smiley faces.

Now it's invaded the workplace - including mine.

My company requires us to log into IM during work hours. I ignored it for the better part of a year, until the whining became too loud. Since I happen to like getting paid, I gave in.

It wouldn't be so bad if I could limit the people who can see me online. Or if I could prevent it from going to “inactive” status every time I go to the toilet.

Normally these settings could be altered, but like many corporate applications, it's locked down and the settings can't be changed easily. (Yep, there's always the registry, but let's not go there. I try to “play nice” with our LAN Desktop people.)

Instant messaging is particularly aggravating when you're working against the clock to resuscitate a server that just ate itself, and Joe Smith on the other side of the country is IM'ing that he'd like a new field on his TPS report.

It doesn't matter if I set my status to “Busy” or “Away”.

“Away” as in “Not Here”.


“Casper the Ghost”.

How am I supposed to answer? I'm good, but I'm not telepathically tied to my laptop.

LOL, I say.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays !

Sorry posting is light this week. So much going on between getting ready for Christmas and my office trying it's best to make me insane.

I'm working on a Laura Mercier post for December 26th.

In the meantime, here is this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special from Children In Need:

Have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again?

The first time I experienced the joy of being “on call” was around 8 years ago. It was a weekend riddled with code installs, data conversions and other minor disasters. I literally didn't sleep or shower for 3 days.

Back then, we weren't staffed 24x7, so when something blew up, you immediately got called. This wasn't a big deal during the day, but sucked royally at 3:00am. Nowadays, the only time I lose beauty sleep is if there's a huge problem that night shift can't handle.

Unfortunately, we have one guy that calls no matter what. The conversation invariably goes like this:

ME: “Mrrrgh.”

Mr. Vagueness: “Ah, yes. Hello. The application is getting an error.”

ME: “Mrrrgh.....error? What error.....what application? Can you give me some details?”

I support 10 applications. There are literally thousands of errors which could occur. It never occurs to him to provide any coherent details.

This is the equivalent of going to the doctor and telling him you have a pain. Somewhere.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bad Hair Of Youth

I grew up in the 70s and 80s when huge, bad hair was the norm. When I say bad, I don't mean Michael Jackson “Bad”. I mean really, really dreadful.

It all started with Farrah Fawcett's trend setting “feathered” hairstyle. It looked great. On her. You see, Farrah's hair wasn't stiff and weirdly shaped. Somehow when this style translated to the rest of us, it morphed into solid tubes of hair. Here's my depiction of that glorious 'do:

Here in Northeast Pennsylvania, we took this to another level:

1.) Begin by getting a curly perm, then blow it out with a round brush to get a whoosh of feathers.

2.) Spray with Aquanet.

3.) Set curling iron on High. Proceed to curl the feathers into giant rolls. Repeat until you get the perfect roll, or your hair begins smoking.

4.) Spray with Aquanet.

5.) Slowly brush hair from the back end of the curl tube, moving horizontally, pulling the tube of curls to the back of your head.

6.) Spray with Aquanet.

Usually we concentrated so much on perfecting the sides, that we neglected the back. Sometimes it left a big, flat spot back there - which made the sides even more wing-like. Or the side curls circumnavigated the entire head, leaving the back looking like a cross between Darth Vader's helmet and a duck's bottom.

So in an attempt to make my hair do the impossible, I had split ends, bad perms and crunchy hair. I also drove my parents insane with the amount time it took to perfect this look each morning. Thankfully, I learned my lesson about 20 years ago.

What goes around comes around.

Now I know how my parents felt, and how ridiculous the entire styling process was. I get to see it every morning when my own daughter gets ready for school.

She just loves that flat iron.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Silvertown is more than a memoir. It's a fascinating tale, and a tribute to human spirit and endurance.

This book came from author Melanie McGrath's research on her grandparents, Jenny and Len Page, who lived in London's East End at the turn of the century. Jenny is the main focus of the story, which begins with her birth in 1903 London. The story follows her through an impoverished childhood, her first job at 14 in the sewing sweatshops, WWI, the death of her sister to typhoid, and the loss of all her teeth on her 17th birthday. What follows a rough childhood, is an even rougher marriage to Len Page. Jenny raises her family, manages to live through WWII and the London Blitz, and her husband's infidelity.

The most poignant account was Jenny's 17th birthday. Her mother took her to what I believe was the equivalent of the local butcher, who proceeded to extract all of Jenny's teeth without any pain medication. Afterwards, Jenny was fitted with a set of porcelain dentures. What McGrath manages to eloquently convey is that it wasn't done to be cruel, or without her mother's sympathy. This type of tooth extraction was common practice back then; done to avoid the medical bills involved with dentistry. It also had the added benefit of making the young lady easier to marry off since the prospective husband wouldn't need to worry about her dental bills.

I'm sure this sounds incredibly depressing, but it was not. The manner in which McGrath tells this story is uplifting. It made me feel good about the strength and tenacity of human beings. Not only that, but McGrath paints a vivid picture with her words. I felt I could really see the old East End, and the characters in my mind.

The only complaint I have is that we didn't get to see how Jenny's children fared. Obviously they survived and did well, since Melanie McGrath is here to tell this tale. According to Amazon.co.uk, there is a sequel being released in 2009, so hopefully that book will fill in the blanks.

Silvertown, An East End Family Memoir was written by Melanie McGrath and published in 2002 by Fourth Estate (Harper Collins). It's a shame this book is only a few years old and it's already out of print. However Amazon has it available from several used book dealers at good prices. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The frost crystallized in a really weird way this morning (click on photo for better detail):

It's hard to believe that's the hood of the car. It looks like feathers or palm trees. Maybe the Winter Wench is thinking of sunny Hawaii?

On the way: Maybelline Define-A-Lash, Rimmel Shock Gloss, and possibly a book review.