azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
Let's start with the Internet of Shit. I had an Internet of Shit moment right before going to bed, which resulted in me on the phone with Belkin going "I don't have time to give you my name and email, I just want to turn off my light so I can go to sleep and I don't want to move two shelves" in the most pathetic of tones. I have a relatively ancient iPod Touch which won't run the latest version. In the not-latest version, which I have, when there's a "cloud outage" there's a friendly notice that you can still use the app to control your switches on your local network. Except ... the notice covers over the controls entirely, and it's iOS and unlike Android there's no motherfucking back button. And however you clear running apps from memory in whatever old-ass version of iOS I have, it wasn't how the customer service agent was describing. After a few rounds, we tried rebooting. That worked.

Then I woke up about 15 minutes before my alarm, and very sensibly stopped reading a thing in the middle of the thing and went off to the conference when my snooze-alarm told me that I had 1 hour until setup started.

I got there 15 minutes early from the planned unlock time. I saw another little (white?) car pull up and it was the chair emeritus.

By the time someone got there to let us in, about 6 of us, maybe more, had gathered. I chirpily spun it to CE as "having crucial hallway conversations", which made her laugh. (Context: she had no idea how to pose this in a helpful fashion.)

The morning got off to a rough start because nobody quite knew what they were doing, and everyone was duckling-ing after me, but fortunately past-me had Written Lists, and also had printed them out, and had broken things done in terms of tasks as well as roles, because I had foreseen that Morning Stuff might have an over-abundance of people trying to do one role and not enough of any of the others, so I sort of decreed that Morning Stuff would have everyone pitch in until people and food started showing up.

I think I was right about needing to buy bowls, for the record. :-P

The food arrived and that was okay. People started checking in and that was okay. The paper check-in list worked like a charm with no terrible woe, and having a ticket type that said essentially "Volunteer - Check in with Azz" served to redirect everyone who was a speaker or volunteer to check in with me after doing the normal check-in! Which was good!

I am so proud of my volunteers. They came together and did the thing, and even when I was completely incoherent from trying to do all the things at once and make all the decisions at once, they followed my lists and I was able to delegate them to do things! All I had to do was say "Yes, that needs doing. You, do #1. You, do #2." and people did it!!!

Instead of 3 tables for the 3 lower-tier sponsors, there were 2. It being bad form to make people share a table, I liberated 2 of the little round tables from the speaker green room, hauled them out, got someone to help me scootch the two beverage coolers onto separate round tables, then carried off the 6' table to the sponsor area of the lobby to deploy.

We were missing a dedicated person on the food, but I was able to fill in at the expense of having someone not at the front desk 100% of the time. It worked partly because there was a recruiter table there, and it was a group that is on long-standing great terms with the organization. So there was that! We needed someone at the front because the event space was not super private -- randos would barge up, and would occasionally wander back to try and scam free food.

The event did not start on time. The first panel ran over. These combined made the carefully-crafted morning schedule go kerplooie. My amazing room wranglers sailed right on through and set timers to follow the timeframe, and everybody was okay. I needed to print 3 sheets of "and this is what is in this room when" instead of 2 -- one for each entrance, plus one for the room-wrangler.

Just before lunch, we'd nearly run out of bottled water, and were down to our last half-bag of tangerines. I was summarily dispatched to Costco, and picked up two flats of bottled water and two bags of tangerines. I think I could have safely have got 3. I had very good luck with parking (partly because I decided to try for the furthest-away spots) and got there and back in record time.

Lunch arrived during the second passing period (of three), so the schedule pivoted: grab lunch now, hit third tech talk, then have a brief social-and-food-if-you-missed-it-earlier window and then dive straight the fuck into the workshops.

There were vegan-and-gluten-free meals which they'd got from the shop across the way; we worked it by setting the whole paper bag on one of the lesser-traffic tables and writing "VEGAN & GLUTEN FREE" on the bag in Sharpie. This way it was visible to people who'd need it without asking, very clearly reserved for people who needed it, and not sitting there and looking visibly delicious for people who ignore signs.

Midway through the afternoon, about an hour before the earliest time the tea (coffee and tea and cookies and mini bundt cakes, with non-gluten-containing chocolates and tangerines and Kind Bars) was set to arrive, R was fading fast and complaining that she needed sugar. (She had also underslept.) I towed her gently along after me into the green room and retrieved some fruit jellies for her, from my Magic Bag of Trader Joe's Food Which I Made Sure To Get So Nobody With Atypical Dietary Needs Would Starve. She started to perk up, and eventually did cave and had coffee.

The workshops let out early, so tea time happened a little scattershot, and everybody piled into one room for the last panel and wrap-up. I started packing up and breaking down, knowing that it would be a while and otherwise I wasn't doing anything else. I used the now-empty trays from the cookies to separate the leftover sandwich halves into more easily carried portions that someone might take home without worrying about where to put it or if they were going to get through all of those. I claimed one. (After lunch they went in the fridge. Thank goodness for fridges.)

Various people stayed to help clean up. The actual most involved part was me sorting out my stuff back into its boxes, because I had brought A Lot Of Things, many of which were useful. See: tape, label maker, markers, other tape, other markers, and gods know what else.

([ profile] acidhelm rocks, incidentally.)

There was a small convocation in the parking lot and then we-all split our separate ways. R had been invited to the party at phone's, but was too tired and was going home directly. My way was in the direction of the party at phone's. ;)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
It turns out that when you start at a place of "sometimes tech support does the Wrong Thing" and go through "Internet Explorer lets you do the cool but unsafe things you want to do, but also lets the bad guys do them too", you can wind up posting a poll on Twitter about frequency of naked/bare-assed (towel-less, for the courteous nudists amongst us) couch-sitting.

It all started with Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly's terrible customer service moment at work. She is naturally terse in her communications, and doesn't really bother with saying things which should be self-evident. Her workplace has these coats (some variety of lab coat for hardware geeks) and a service that they pay rather a lot of money to clean and maintain these things.

She noticed that hers was getting variously ratty -- missing button, a torn pocket -- and wrote a note: "Please replace." She signed it, and stapled it to the coat so it wouldn't get lost.

When the laundry came back, she found her coat. Same button missing. Same torn pocket. She was baffled -- until she found the name tag. They had replaced the name tag.

This prompted tales of some of the shenanigans that can ensue when least-good tech support and customer service ensues, including my epic fight with tech support over some java. The relevant bits were about trying it in IE and messing about with the settings.

Purple pondered about IE, with the general concepts that sure! IE is great for doing a lot of things that you want to do -- and letting the bad guys do it too. (Oops.)

"Yeah, you can shove that website straight in your trusted zone," I snarked.

Purple debated me on this: he wasn't entirely sure that the buttockal regions should be the "trusted zone"; didn't most people distrust things emanating-- ?

The discussion skipped into the topic of couches.

"Doesn't everybody?" Purple asked, meaning, sit on the couch butt-ass naked, or at least, well. Minus towel.

I facepalmed extensively. "I've SAT on your COUCH!" I said to Purple, in (entirely put on) tones of Great Betrayal.

His response was very much a sorry-not-sorry. I undermined my Performative Woe very shortly after, asking after his weekend plans in a way such to announce my intent to invade his couch if that was all right with him. ("That's what clothes are for..." I said in response to Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly's wish for some form of barrier to put between her and places where anyone else's butt has been.)

We went through the bestworst method of dyeing Y-fronts to disturb the TSA (even-ish tea underdye, with a second round to add more splatter, vs. the red tie-dye effect...) (passing the broccoli test by simultaneously saying "red" is ... maybe not the best way to pass the broccoli test). From Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly's dawning horror, it was clearly time for a subject change. We looked at her. "So how about that weather?" we asked in perfect stereo. She remarked upon it.

It turns out that key lime pie gets harder to share when you have two people stabbing into it tines-down from two different directions. At a certain point the inertia of the rest of the piece of pie is no longer sufficient to keep it in one place. Cooperation ensued, with one person holding the pie still with their fork while the other one pulled a bite away. We split the last bite amiably.

"That Weather" made for a short farewell. It was raining fairly firmly. Purple hugged me and we chatted a little, then we split.

I do so love rainy nights.

I am trying to get caught up on housework, in addition to work-work and applying for jobs. A little bit at a time, go me. Today I dug out the stepstool and a 9v battery and replaced the battery in the smoke detector before it started chirping at me. Go, me. (Stretching to reach it was painful and terrifying, but I did it.)

My impostor syndrome around guerrilla QA is pretty well faded. I used to be surprised when I found myself engaged in chasing down a random bug for a thing that I was using. I'd genuinely thought that the only system I'd ever have that kind of expertise on was LiveJournal. Purple met me when I was still regularly surprised by it. This time, I found myself explaining to Purple that really, the only thing I found surprising about the bug documentation I was sending to Slack was the universally friendly and helpful attitude of the Slack customer care people.

You could perhaps see the lightbulb emoji flickering into yellow above my head. Not quite an hour later I found myself additionally going:

04:30 PM azurelunatic: I think any job application where you can point to "and this is where I've interacted with your technical support" as an additional reason to hire you is possibly a good one
04:35 PM azurelunatic: my answer to "what is the importance of manual qa testing?" includes "it's really hard to annoy an automated test suite"

This weekend will involve waking up much earlier than I'd like to be up, viewing the Computer History Museum event space, and doing other work stuff on Sunday. After that's over, I'll poke Purple and see what he's up to. I hope to then invade his couch. ^_^
azurelunatic: stick figure about to hit potato w/ flaming tennis racket, near jug of gasoline & sack of potatoes (XKCD)
Last weekend: pleasant dinner with Purple and Ms. Antisocial Butterfly, followed by FOGcon and Seanan's book launch party and more FOGcon.

There followed a week of mostly face-down in Freelance Conference Stuff, interspersed with the odd doctor here and there.

I entered into a dialogue with one of the doctors about gender, and how I don't want any. The upshot has included a formal entry of a note to this effect in my demographics section, my proper honorific (Reverend), and swapping my gender marker to Unknown. We'll see what havoc this plays on my medical records.

This came up in discussion with Purple, and some extensive clowning followed. The upshot of all that was that I may actually have a short-form description of my actual gender, which is: Langford Death Parrot.

Thursday evening, my general feeling of malaise resulted in a short walk down to the hot tub, where I soaked my ergonomically annoyed muscles and listened to some neighbors chat about this and that. One of the horror stories involved some really disturbing behavior from a random small child involving a watermelon. I went back and googled; I didn't find anything about a kid (not surprisingly), but I did find a story about an increasingly acrimonious divorce case which had included the following escalating bad behavior:

Includes implied threats of violence. )

Today was beer bash at Virtual Hammer, followed by dinner.

Purple had a baby shower before beer bash, which was why he was late. (The baby is a co-workers; he's not pregnant.) I warned him about the bread pudding fruit pies (not recommended) and he emerged about 15 minutes later, having been waylaid by a random conversation with a random friend. He is a sociable guy! He was slightly chagrined at having taken so long when he'd said he'd be right back, but I can't complain, since I benefit from this habit of his fairly significantly. (He's very sociable, and observes that I can be very sociable when I know someone, but rather less with new people.)

phone arrived, and Purple had just wondered if Mr. Tux were going to show up at all. I looked at my watch and said that it had just gone five; Mr. Tux didn't usually arrive until at least then. Sure enough, Mr. Tux emerged a few minutes later. R wandered through and chatted with the crowd. My hair and my earrings and my headphones all match. It's great!

Surrealist Band Guy dropped through and visited for a bit.

The fire pit did not light. Someone, not me, will need to file a ticket.

I'd been working steadily on the current dreamsheep, and Purple asked was it the nose I was working on. I sort of distinguish between "nose" and "chin", although in sheeps it's pretty much the same area. Purple took that distinction, and ran with it to some pretty terrible places. He later contemplated the topology of my original plan, and asked some fairly salient questions about the double-eversion phase and terminology related thereto, and also the stealth phase. "Why does this sheep have a green asshole?" The nose vs. chin question led down a chain of logic which ended on etsy with the phrases "docking muff" and "machine washable" (very important, that last).

We'd thought that Ms. Antisocial Butterfly wouldn't be joining us for dinner, but she called. She doesn't leave town until tomorrow. So we decided on a dinner location (Mountain View) and topic (pizza).

The rubber chicken for help system ticket 1,000,000 has seen better days. I had handed it off to Purple upon leaving, but it was in bad enough shape that he really did not want it around. We ceremonially consigned it to the trash, after a last commemorative picture.

Circumstances under which gender-policing can be actually hilarious: mention of genitals, non-explicit. ) Purple is great and I want to keep him. We headed off for dinner.

Purple and I circled the first parking garage and failed to find a spot. (I got there first, I believe.) We went up the second, and finally found spots on the fourth floor (out of five possible). I found mine, then he arrived and parked just as I was getting out of my car, so I waited for him while he juggled bluetooth and phone and he joined me at the elevator. Ms. Antisocial Butterfly had arrived on time, and we were a little delayed for once.

Ms. Antisocial Butterfly disapproves of any cracker-eating jerks who give her initials a bad reputation.

We had salad and wings and pizza and scurrilous discussion. Purple commented on weaponized earrings, after observing how my earrings do a delightful little shimmy when I shake my head. We iterated on that a bit. I draw the line at explosions near my ears.

Walking back, he helped me liberate my long loose hair from my briefcase strap, pulling it a bit in the process and apologizing. His weekend plans include heading off with Cousin Antisocial to see the aunt and uncle and helping them haul stuff around, then coming back on Sunday and presumably collapsing a bit. I may inquire after sociability on Sunday, but am not expecting necessarily anything. :>

I have no idea what I'm doing for April Fool's Day.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
Tuesday 2/1
Having a warm fuzzy bathrobe really does not get old. I did have some trouble locating my red interview sweater for the interview, and eventually went with something else. I did break a shoelace.

I showed up early and nervous. The interview went well. [staff profile] denise was a reference (also Kat and Management from the Call Center Hell) and D was a totally excellent badass reference.

Wednesday 2/2
Twitter was talking about the stigma associated with mental illness. Some things, like my presumed-depression (wreaked hell on my life, never formally diagnosed, kept under control by St. John's Wort, assumption not challenged by my AZ general practitioner) are chronic and I can't assume that when they stop bothering me they're OMG CURED and I can stop treating it; if the St. John's Wort is not in my system, my ability to bounce back from routine mood-dips is impaired.

I got the call confirming the temp job, ending my way-too-long time out of work. So relieved. Then Tif and I went to a Silicon Valley Google Technology Users Group meetup for Google Refine. We've got a fairly large spam dataset...

Thursday 2/3
First day of the temp job. I had a hell of a time actually locating the building, as the buildings in question are part of an office complex where all the buildings are on the same large chunk of property, all of the buildings are sequentially numbered with street numbers that the property has a right to, but they are arranged in a ring that means that the street numbers have little to do with their actual orientation to the street.

The office was interesting, painted in bold colors (lots of lime green and white) and decorated with various Delightful Swag.

I came in just a bit early, and the receptionist had me wait. The guy overseeing my position ran past (literally ran), was hailed by the secretary, she explained that I was here, I think he jogged back to shake my hand, and then ran off again. She accepted this with a very this-is-all-part-of-a-normal-day sort of demeanor, so I got the idea that he did this a lot.

My cube was right by the small kitchen, making it very easy for me to get tea and coffee. Tea and coffee are good. They had a nice array of tea choices, which I found delightful compared to Arizona office tea, which is basically the cheap black tea. (There's a place in my cup for cheap black tea, and this is made 2:1 with strongly flavored orange tea, brewed too strong and too sweet, for use while writing.)

The commute was, of course, hell both ways. 101 is a pit during the 8-10 & 4-6 commute windows. Lucky me.

Friday 2/4
After work, I went to see my aunt. There was hilarity and also shortbread. She took frozen butter and used her handy-dandy crank-driven rotary shredder to cut it into tidy little bits, making the shortbread process amazingly fast. Tasty shortbread, too.

I speculated on Twitter about a vaporware-y technique in mental health care, which assumes enough resources (monetary and available people) to carry it out: Read more... )
azurelunatic: "Where's the goddamn NERF BAT when you *really* need it?" Animated cartoon tech support loses her cool.  (headset)
First, so about my new temp position: I do light customer service for a company handling large-group fuel discount cards.

The large group I work with is people who bought or leased a car & got a fuel discount card as their promotional benefit.

So yesterday this guy calls in. There are some situations where really all you can do is pause and say, "Wow, that guy sure has a lot going on in his life." No single one of the ensuing moments was enough in itself, quite, but the combination...

He calls to ask: since he returned the leased car already, may he still use the fuel card? Actually, yes. When he lets me get a word in edgewise, I advise him that we must send him a new card.

When I can get a word in edgewise, I explain that also the fuel card is linked to a credit card, and the old one we had is expired, we must update. You can often tell when to just ask for the new expiration date. This was not one of those times.

He begins saying, "Gimme your card. Gimme your card. Gimme your card." very brusquely, over and over to someone in the room with him.

Then he asked if it had to be his name on the card. Which it does not, it can also be a partner. "As long as you have permission to use it," I added.

In the middle of the next round of "Gimme.", he got another thought. "Does it have to have money on it?"

I confirm it must have sufficient funds to cover all fuel purchases.

"Oh. (to her) It's the child support card, we can't put money on it."

I agree that another card would be best.

He puts me on "hold" by putting that phone down and calling someone else on another. I can hear his side of the conversation, in which he tells the guy there is this great deal he should get in on by allowing him to use his credit card. See, you can get gas and get paid back for it to the credit card! (Wrong. No refund, just a lower bill 'cause $SPONSOR pays the rest, for X gallons until program end.) And it was NOT A SCAM, JESUS, FINE, WHATEVER, SEE IF I HELP YOU OUT.

He returns & I attempt to clarify his misconceptions. He is doubtful because that is "not how it worked before" but I am firm. He audibly deflates, but rallies in his resolve to go get a prepaid debit card to use. IN HIS OWN NAME.

That is a guy with a lot going on in his life.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
New temp position. The difference between an 8 hour day containing lunch, and an 8 hour workday plus an hour lunch, are significant.
azurelunatic: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album cover: a prism splitting a beam of light.  (Dark Side of the Moon)
I do not think that I betray any confidences by mentioning that $WORKPLACE has pulled in me and my counterpart because things have become very busy for them very fast. So our training is proceeding at a breakneck pace, and we are doing a grab bag of things, including stuff that involves answering questions from their clients.

One exchange, yesterday, went approximately thus:

$CLIENT: "Do you know about X?"
Me: "Uh, I can look it up."
Him: "Are you new?"
Me: "Yep, they just pulled a few people in because things were very busy."
Him: "This is what I need."
Me: "Hmm, yes; have you also considered ___?"
Me (somewhat smugly): "Thursday."
Him: "All right, Thursday, so what else have you got for me?"

I have been slowly but surely festooning my cube with little hand-drawn index card signs. The first one that I put up on my first day had my (given) name. The second one was a little rocket ship. The third one was an admonition about the proper operation of the Clippings extension for Firefox. And so on.

An index card with a drawing of a beam of light entering a prism and scattering into a rainbow a la the cover of Dark Side of the Moon, and the quote 'The Lunatic is in my HEAD'.

After the conversation with that guy, I pulled down my name-card and added "Thursday" to it. :D
azurelunatic: aerial view of freeways.  (freeway)
This is what happens when one gets behind in writing entries.

If I'd written this entry Monday, I'd have said: "OH MY FUCKING GOD YOU GUYS, an employment agency just CALLED ME OUT OF THE BLUE, HEADHUNTER STYLE to ask me if I was still looking for work! They want to match me up with something! Holy fuck!"

If I'd written this entry Tuesday, I'd have said: "Oh wow, guys, I hope this is going to work out. I just interviewed at the employment agency, it's actually a subdivision of one that my aunt recommended to me. They had the same stupid programs to assess your abilities on Word and Excel that the other agency had, but at least I was doing it on their computers, the interview went a lot better, I was a lot more targeted this time, and I totally blew well past their averages on both Word and Excel, and did not do so badly on typing either. Thank you for being willing to be references for me, [personal profile] zarhooie and [staff profile] denise (and the awesome manager from work2); I really appreciate it. I couldn't find my red interview sweater, but that was okay since I had a perfectly good black top that I've never worn before."


But I'm writing this entry today. So:

Today was my first day. It's a vaguely-nine-to-five job (actual start time is 9:30; today I got let go at 4:30 on account of being quick on the uptake and my immediate supervisor not having enough sleep). The business is experiencing rapid growth, and needed more people to wrangle their sales contacts. I will be getting to know the SalesForce CRM up close and personal. Unlike previous places I could mention, no one has mentioned sales quotas: this seems far more to be about building relationships with potential customers and answering informational questions than it is about selling. As always, the identity of my employer is anonymous.

The office is nice. I have my own little cube. I'm asking interesting questions like "Is there a document or wiki or something for all these terms of art, or is it just pick-it-up-as-you-go-along?", and making obvious statements like "I got the email with my login; I've logged in and set my password and started reading the FAQs." I have a counterpart, another agency placement. She is asking hard-to-answer questions like "What does it mean, some information will be lost when saving in this format?" and making obscure statements like "Oh, the tab button? Not the enter key?" She arrived the day before I did, and is thus a day ahead of me in her training. She is sweet, means well, and is in the cube over the wall from mine. I am not responsible for training her.

It is supposed to be a 3-month contract, and experimental for them on the "do we really need this many people; is this volume sustainable" front. I am technically an employee of the agency. I am eligible for health coverage (including dental and vision) through the agency, as of pretty much the first paycheck. The pay is not much by tech industry Bay Area standards, but it is technically more than call-center-in-Phoenix standards, though adjust that for local prices, and yow. :-\ But! It is more than nothing, and more than nothing is good. After the contract runs out, the agency will look for another place for me. Having been awesome once increases my chances of being awesome again, and all.

There will be more work tomorrow. It will be interesting. I can hardly wait.
azurelunatic: "My user interface is pastede on (yay)": scenes from an Access database that is not working so well.  (ui)
I have applied to a temp agency for placement to get myself some work. Part of the process is completing skills evaluations online. I passed the typing test just fine. However, I have run smack up into technical limitations. Somehow, it does not think that either my uncle's machine or my laptop is worthy and/or capable of running its fine Java applets.

I suspect that by the time I'm done hammering on this thing and making it work, I'll have more than earned a more technical place in the workplace than the tame clerical tasks that they provide staffing for.

On the other hand, I might not actually be worthy, and might not actually get it running properly. I might have to admit defeat and trudge myself down to their office, present myself as unable to smack a browser into submission, and use their computer.

Meanwhile, I'm getting dizzyfaced enough that I suspect that even should I get it running tonight, I shouldn't complete the Excel and Word assessments tonight.

All is not lost, however. I type 68 wpm, it seems, on a keyboard I don't like, with my hands at the wrong angle, and running a little ahead of myself in reading the original, and overthinking it a bit.


azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
Azure Jane Lunatic (Azz) 🌺

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