Friday, September 28, 2012

Revolutionary And Innovative

I spent the last few days in a seminar for work. The gist of the class was to teach us a better methodology for software development. Even though I'm not actively developing anything anymore, I still need to consult with developers during the process. It was a very useful class, albeit mostly common sense.

The main thread being: communicate better with everyone on the team. Including the business and marketing people (and yes, the business/marketing people have to attend this as well, so for them it would be “communicate better with the IT department”).

In my past life I was making small enhancements within my particular area of IT, so usually those requirements made sense. Now I'm reviewing large projects, and not a day goes by when I don't ask myself, “why would you even want to do that?”.

But that's not for me to say. So....whatever.

I'm no longer being beaten about the head daily, or working stupid-crazy hours. So honestly, it doesn't matter to me if the requirements state that unicorns and fairies should fly out of an elephant's butthole - as long as I can get a basic understanding of said butthole, as well as the size and pointyness of the unicorn.

Still, there's the need to entertain myself. I get a chuckle out of Dilbert-esque documentation. “Adding value”, “growing the product” or “making it sexy”. Do people really talk like that? Oh yes.

Mostly it's just funny or a little bit cringe-worthy. Although I've had a few times when I wish I could disinfect my brain from the verbal gonorrhea.

Even though the seminar was pretty good, I noticed the prevalence of overused buzzwords. For your reading pleasure:

I have an “ask” - All over the country business professionals have stopped saying, “I have something to ask you” or “I have a requirement”, in favor of this abbreviated silliness. Grow up. You sound like a third grader with pig tails and a lollipop.

Revolutionary and Innovative – A standard for any marketing campaign. Although I'd like to see it used more often in daily conversation. For instance, “I found a revolutionary and innovative way to get rid of gophers. I shoved a urine-soaked cat bed down it's hole. “ True story.

Thought Leader – So culty-cult-cult. “Obamacare is revolutionary and innovative thus making the President a true Thought Leader”. Except every time someone says “Thought Leader” my brain hears “Thought Police”. In some cases, it's the same thing.

Value Added – A catch-all for any product that's been improved. Have you improved the absorb-ability of Depends For Wombats? It's value added.

Please. Just stop.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dirt Road

While perusing The Googles, this title from ABC News caught my eye:

Men Survive 100 Foot Cliff Plunge In Maui

Instantly, I knew where this was.

It had to be the same cliff side road we got stuck on back in 2008.

Before you tell me it's just the Road To Hana and it's not that bad, guess what? It's not the Road To Hana. This is something out of Indiana Jones.

This stretch of lethal dirt is on the opposite side of Maui, and runs along the North Shore.

Hubby, Daughter and I started off in Lahaina, and figured we'd take a nice leisurely drive along the coast. Beautiful day, gorgeous view of the ocean.

After passing all the resorts, we kept driving. We'll just see where the road goes. How could that possibly go wrong, right?

Most of this road is two lanes and nicely paved. It starts out as the Honoapiilani Highway, running along a perfectly safe looking coastal view. Then there's a sign that says “highway ends”, the road winds to the right, and then a more sinister sign that reads “Narrow Road”.

This is where the Kahekili “Highway” begins.

For us though, it will always be known as “Dirt Road”.

At this point, there is no way to turn around, so you have to keep going and hope the car doesn't slide off the cliff (there is NO guardrail for most of it), and pray no one is coming in the other direction.

We found out later that if someone IS coming in the other direction, the local etiquette is that the person going uphill has to back down to the bottom of the hill. There's usually some kind of widening of the road there, making it possible to pass.

It wasn't until we got a few miles in, that I checked the map the car rental agency gave us. There was our road, highlighted in bright red, with the notice “driving on this road may invalidate your car rental agreement”.

Well, yay.

Finally the road opened up with a small area to pull off and take in the view. There was also a shave ice stand inside an old school bus. I used the opportunity to get some fresh air and kiss mother Earth.

Then we turned around and cautiously made our way back.

By the way, the Kahekili Highway is named after the Hawaiian Chief Kahekili, who was such a badass that he built houses from the skulls of his enemies. Which seems to suit that road perfectly.

 Don't believe me? There's dozens of videos on YouTube if you search for “Kahekili Maui”.

Here's the best one, because it's short, and begins almost exactly where the it turns into “Dirt Road”. I laughed out loud the first time I watched it because the couple in this video are having the exact same conversation Hubby and I did.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Name Is Crabby...Why Do You Ask?

This actually happened last week, but I've been tied up with my final term paper for school so I never got around to posting it. What's this about school, you say? ...that's a post for a different day.


I spent the morning fighting off hypothermia at the dentist's office. I'm all for copious air conditioning since I've been in permanent hot flash for a year now, but this was just nuts.

Originally, the appointment was for last week, but that didn't work out. It was Daughter's six month check up, and I made it for first thing in the morning so we could go straight to the dentist, then to school afterward. A time saver, because the dentist was in the opposite direction of the school, with our house in the middle – at least an hour round trip (yes, we live in the middle of nowhere. Like, Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh Bear and Eeyore are neighbors).

Simples, right?

Well, Daughter is taking honors classes this year, and one of the more difficult ones is taught by Headmaster. She didn't want to miss the first half of class, so I agreed to get her from school instead. It meant having to take three hours off work instead of two, but hey, I had to admire her commitment.

As a side note, Headmaster only teaches this one class, obviously, since he's got other Headmastery things to do. He's one of those teachers who tries to scare the kiddos in the first few days, just to make sure everyone's serious about the class. Most of the teachers wait a few weeks before going over the summer reading assignments, but Headmaster dove right in. First day, he had them up in front of the class summarizing the books, and hammering them with questions while fueling debate on plots and characters.

It worked, some kids dropped the class. I asked my daughter if she was planning to do the same – I had hoped not - and she said, “OH HELL NO. I'm taking this as a personal challenge....he's not scaring me off.”

Love that kid.

So I get to the school office and there's no Daughter waiting for me. Secretary tells me she's probably on her way down from class. Five minutes goes by, then ten. Secretary calls the classroom and says she's on her way. Daughter finally shows up at 9:20am, leaving me ten minutes to get to a dentist 30 miles away. I hate being late for a doctor appointment, so I'm forced to reschedule.

Daughter says Dumbledore wouldn't let her leave, and gave her a hard time about leaving his class unless somebody died. I'm fairly certain he meant this in a semi-joking, possibly sarcastic tone, but still. This meant I'd be an hour late for work. For no reason.

Just then Headmaster rounds the corner. I introduce myself and tell him I'm thrilled that he's giving the kids a raking over in class (they deserve to know what the real world is like, and not that everyone's a wiener....I mean, winner). After all, I'm paying a a buttload of money for you to prepare my kid so she can ace her SAT exams and get accepted to a kick-ass college. But while you're twatwaffling with the hatchling's gray matter, I just lost an hour of work. YOU just wasted an hour of my time.

But I never said that. I wanted to because I was crabby and had to get up early, but I was also pretty sure he didn't do it intentionally. He's usually a good guy, so I let it pass.

So that brings me to today, where we did it all over again, but this time I allotted more time for general dickery.

Although I wasn't prepared for the sub-arctic waiting area. Or the snot-cicles (of course I have another sinus infection. You need ask?).

The rest of the day was uneventful until the school buses starting running for the afternoon trip home. It was the first day of school for the public school kids (private school started a week earlier), and apparently the transportation authority boogered the whole schedule. They had first graders on the same buses as high-schoolers – you keep them separated for obvious, delinquent-oriented reasons – and the private school kids bus ride took three hours. THREE HOURS.

I'm not privy to the inner workings of the local school district, but I do know they've had a problem with the buses for at least ten years now. I've even discussed this face to face with the transportation director after a school bus broke down, proceeded to strand my then ten year old (with friends) at the wrong development, in single digit temperatures. Rip his face off? Yes, I wanted to.

They can't afford new buses, there's a driver shortage, and they need to make due with what they're got (but they just spent millions on a new school). Boo Hoo.

Oh, and while I've got a good rant going, let me tell ya the best part of my chitchat with the transportation head. Because I dared to actually show up in person, he assumed I was a stay at home mommy with nothing better to do than be an annoyance. When I informed him that I was a programmer for (company redacted) and telecommute from home, he immediately suggested I sign up for bus detail.

Seriously? Did you even hear what I said? I have a job.....a job that requires me to be at my desk online at particular hours of the day.


That was a few years ago, and it still grates on me. Obviously.

So once again, we're doing the bus schedule version of musical chairs. Hopefully Daughter will pass her driving test soon, and maybe we can manage to get a cheap beater car for her to use. That way we don't have to deal with this bus nonsense anymore.

Gah, I never thought I'd be saying that.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Letter To My Local Grocery Store

My patience is slowing eroding, and has been for the better part of two years.

When I see the carnage in the produce section, I wonder if I just missed a flash mob.

I go in search of some basics: bacon, bread, kitty litter or dog biscuits, only to find empty shelves and tumbleweeds.

Last week I had to fight a 500 lb woman for the last jar of garlic.

I get it... in this economy, budgets are tighter and restocking isn't happening as often as it used to. But why is it like this every time I visit?

In recent years, we've had a problem with the growing season, so produce kinda sucked for a while. Other stores seem to have recovered since then. So why are your tomatoes still fuzzy?

One of the reasons I shop at your store is the meat section. No one can compare. However lately, every time I purchase what appears to be a perfectly lovely bit of beef, it's actually a thin layer of meat residing atop a chunk of fat and gristle. Normally I'd chalk it up to someone in the butchery department having a bad day, but it's happened too many times now. I'm starting to think you just don't love us anymore.


This week was the last straw. It was the second time I accidentally purchased pre-marinated, shrink wrapped chicken THIGHS because they were mixed in with the chicken BREASTS. The packages are nearly identical, and yes, it does say thighs/breasts on the package, however this is almost impossible to see if you have 40+ year old eyeballs.

I wouldn't care, but your thighs are nothing but a lump of snoodles: tendons, veins and fat held together with a gumwad-sized ball of actual meat.

Want to know the best part? I wasn't planning to get the pre-marinated chicken. I only bought them because there were no packages of normal, plain chicken. Nothing. NADA.

The whole reason I drive an extra 20 minutes to go to your store is because I want quality items, and you really do have the best prices. You used to have the best customer service too.

But I haven't seen much of that lately.

Why do the stock boys ram their hand carts into my back crack? Or how about the passive-aggressive check out clerk who puts the squishy items on the bottom?

Some would say I just need to lower my standards a bit.

Seriously though. If we all just keep lowering our standards, stop demanding excellence and hard work, what state would our country be in?

Oh, wait.