Entry 08/24/2016 01:57:57 PM – Mentat 1159
I don’t normally like to talk about work or the work necessary to networking myself into a new position in a new company. Well, not publicly and not for years because honestly there’s only just so much whinging and hand-wringing that even I can put up with from the likes of me. However, since starting the carousel of finding a job that I might like (once again), my tolerance of the contracting field has not only soured but definitely creates the wrong sort of ire whenever I think about it. Looking back over the years, I can see the path in the sand on just how much the life as a contractor has changed from the time when I entered it and receiving offers hand-over-fist, to today where I’m fighting between the feelings of eye-rolling myself into a seizure to seriously slapping the ever living shit out of some of these bottom-feeders that storm my cell phone like it’s a game of capture the flag. While I understand that perhaps they’re a necessary evil to getting your foot in the door of some of these places in the area — I would prefer to even use them sparingly to if ever at all.
The fact is, I despise all contracting companies since the late 90s. Part of it has to do with the high level of turnaround you can have as a primary contact at the contracting agency. A person that seems to have their act together quickly shuffles off to a better position leaving a vacuum at the desk they had been sitting in the week before. With that power vacuum first came the lack of knowledge necessary to matching the contractor with the position, and then later with the Special Snowflake Syndrome that slowly came to inflict the younger work-force, it created the unfortunate necessity to lying to the contractor what sort of position they were filling at the company in question.
I remember the second aspect vividly during the first part of the 00s when I was still living in Atlanta, where a contract (short or long term temporary) was made to sound as glamorous as possible, only to discover within the first three hours of being at the job site was nothing like it was described over the phone as to the work and responsibilities that it would entail. The one contract that I recall off the top of my head as an example had to do with the agency told me that it was an administrative sort of position that required filing and clerical skills for a department of ten. It was billed as a Librarian sort of position that required to be filled while the person originally hired for the position was on maternity leave. What it was, was filing claims in a closet about 15′ x 15′ (4.5 x 4.5 meters), in a hodgepodge of misshapen filing cabinets that looked like they were saved last minute from the trash compactor with each drawer stuffed with files in a haphazard manner and at least 5 – 10 Stick Ups in each. Let me tell you — after an hour of opening and shutting those drawers my sense of smell was completely burned out. A refusal to return to the position the next day, it took almost a week to recover my sense of smell without constantly smelling artificial lilac or lavender. I think to this day, if I never smell Airwick Lilac or Lavender will be entirely too soon.
Moving north hasn’t been much better for the contracting circuit. One of my first contracts involved me working with a 20 year veteran from the nursing field that was given the opportunity to change careers and low and behold was given the cushy desk job as an IT Manager over several IT-related departments in healthcare. Interviewing with the woman — it was damned clear the woman was a Troglodyte. She had the voice of someone that spent 20 or more years smoking that had just given it up. While she seems fair on the surface and her idea of cross-training was sort of on the mark when it came to ensuring everyone on the helpdesk knew how to cover the desk during all contingencies; this great idea came to down in a crash and burn when that training would involve the same sort of schizophrenic and frenetic scheduling that nurses go through in a hospital. Looks good in theory, but when you realize entry-level IT people make on average $15-17/hour as opposed to nurses that make $29-$36/hour; this was a catastrophically bad idea and sleep hours are seriously and severely being cut when you’re finding your work schedule for three days are 23:00 – 07:30 and then the next four would put you at 11:00 – 19:00…
In my 40s at the time, I’m not a spry just-starting-IT type… Not to mention this isn’t the sort of thing I’d ever been used to — even when serving on-call — as I’m more than sure, I would bounce like a brick if I continued that sort of schedule. And like it or not — even though I had to have my contracting agency step in to remind them I’m a fill-in (and not a full-time employee), the retribution that came for not being “cooperative” was in fact borderline harassment and denigrating.
I would like to say before I continue that not all of the contracts I’ve had have been progressively worse since the late 90s as there are some good contracts out there that I can say were not only enjoyable but thought provoking as well. Working with the kids at Providence College, performing lessons for how to program in Access and SQL to someone that was on the verge of understanding OOL, opportunities to speak with people that remembered the times before NAFTA and so on… The fact remains that it’s not looking much better now than it did 16 – 18 years ago.
It’s just… it looks pretty damned bleak at the moment that even the closet optimist hidden deep inside is having a hard time trying to maintain a positive outlook through the current environment. Let’s see if I can draw pictures in the last month alone that have dealt with that has either left me rolling my eyes so hard I about had a convulsion in the process.
I have received calls from places like Maryland (using a 617 Boston Area Code but the return call number started 410), New Jersey, Manhattan, NYC and Colorado, trying to find technicians to work for a company that has a negative reputation of underpaying and cutting the workforce in a way that prevents anyone working there from being able to claim unemployment benefits. While I won’t mention the name of the company in question, I can tell you I had once interviewed for the position and couldn’t keep a poker face when I was told the starting salary was $7/hour less than the competition (that subsequently had more responsibilities for less pay). When I was told I should be “thankful for being hired by this company…” any semblance to a poker face was completely obliterated when I told him the starting pay at the three companies in competition against them was more offered to a janitor than a tech support specialist.
Yeah, they called me 10 minutes after that interview making up some excuse that the hiring manager had an emergency meeting and wouldn’t be available. I never heard from that company again. But that doesn’t stop the bottom-feeders in contracting agencies to contact me about the “opportunity”.
I received a call from another agency with a Metro-Boston area code that I remember submitting my resume (CV) to for a third shift position. That resume fell into a black hole that a month later – I finally received the “we received your resume… are you still looking for a job? We have something in the Boston area…”
Uh, that was a month ago. This type of call is a bait and switch. No thanks, I don’t like companies that don’t have the decency to send an e-mail or make a quick call confirming that the position has been filled.
Then there’s the agency I used to work for prior to being hired full time. Let’s talk about their tactics a moment, shall we? First they call but don’t leave voicemail. This usually occurs at least 3 – 8 times a week. When they do leave voicemail on around the ninth time, it’s the sort of nattering on like they’re your best friend, “oh just touching base see how you’re doing…”
Uh… Have I ever made an effort to call you since I was hired full time at Lifespan? No. Are any of you my friend? No. And given that I warned them of the mess that was being generated, which was blatantly ignored in an effort to kiss as much ass as you could to make the management happy by providing fresh bodies… Well, I’m not going to be rushing back to work for a company that doesn’t listen to first-hand eye-witnessing… That and let’s just say while this agency might be doing something legal, it isn’t remotely ethical… And I’m not about to sacrifice my upstanding attitude for that approach to business.
I know that’s convoluted. I wish I could say more, but the repercussions make me a bit… edgy.
Finally comes the call I just got from Woburn, MA. Seems that this agency is trying to get people to both companies with the notorious reputation of having extremely high turn around. Told him about that and the fact that I’ve talked with ex-employees from both companies and they tell me the same stories… Mass firing of employees before they can collect unemployment, burning out the contractor pool for years…
How do you know this? He asked
How many contracting agencies do you think have called and contacted me about job opportunities with them in the last ten years? You’re the fortieth. Do you think you have a chance to keeping their business? Nope…. I refuse to work for those companies.
He stammered out some professional comments and got himself off the phone .
The fact is, they’re so bad they’re reaching out to agencies outside of their state because those in the state know they can’t get people back in there.
So the question I’m asking myself now is — it is too late to change careers and make macramé plant holders, selling them on the corner in front of City Hall? Heh, then again, I’m not too sure it’s a good choice, given this news article recently. If the Mayor’s Press Secretary was almost mugged — who’s to say I wouldn’t be… again…
With that, I need to wind down for the night. Early day tomorrow as I have laundry to do and that means up at 04:00. Until the next time.
Entry 05/20/2016 06:41:43 AM – Mentat 1088
Truth be told I’ve had positively no gumption to posting anything about me, my life or anything else publicly since the beginning of the year. Part of the reason is that with the exclusion of one incident, I’ve been remarkably and incredibly superfluous in the months since both the incident as well as since the new year. While I sort of miss the fact of my being rather intense and laser-focused about this or that, the fact is that I’ve come to learn that laser-focus was part of the price of having incredibly high blood pressure… To the tune of 220/117 and higher (as I’ve no doubt said before). Once I began the regimen of diuretics and blood pressure medications (which according to the doctor were originally used as a means of anti-anxiety), other than the more than occasional rage flare ups, I’ve been remarkably sedate about everything. Sure it’s still a bit high at my last doctor’s check-up… 140/84.. But both he and I agree that it’s significantly lower than it was when I first started coupled with the fact that I usually had it checked no sooner than 5 minutes after my walking both to the bus center (Kennedy Plaza) and then to his office… And believe me when I say I never walk casually anywhere. He believes me when I say that when I’ve checked it at home — when I’ve been rested — it usually hovers around 130/74. Still a bit high — but as I continue to lose weight he believes it should continue to go lower. And with that he’s chosen that the next time I see him is for the annual examination this October.
About the only thing that I’m not really liking about the diuretics (Chlorthalidone) is the fact that because my blood’s been thinned, I’m finding temperatures below 60 F (15.5 C) to being chilly. And by chilly I mean I need to be putting on a sweater/hoodie if I’m wearing a short sleeve shirt. It’s quite the shocking change for me given that I got used to being able to brave through the 40s F (~4 C) and not remotely considering shutting windows and turning on the space heater for a bit of warmth. People are telling me it’s because I’m middle-aged, except that I didn’t have that problem for the last 7’ish years.
Moe and I have reached a wonderful understanding about his time on the desk in the office: he can sit there all he wants, but if he sprawls and causes the NAS or speakers to get knocked down, then he’s off the desk without a warning. This seems to have worked out for the best as he’s liking the thought of sitting on my lap (or on the chair’s backing) whenever he can instead. That’s rather difficult given that he’s usually trying to get on my lap when I’m in the middle of game play, but seems all right when I’m watching a video or six. About the strangest thing I’ve come to find though is that he seems to hide whenever he’s puked up his food — or in the case this morning — seemed to have painted the bathroom floor like a toddler — and that’s to hide under the bed like he knows he’s done wrong. The funny thing is that I’ve always had the policy that there’s really no need to punish or scold cats for this as it’s usually out of their control. So leave ’em there under the bed until I’m through cleaning and then sort him out with a little loving so that he knows he’s done nothing wrong.
Funny thing is that he’s even more squirrelly about loud noises than ever. Be it the vacuum, me dropping something, or anything loud and he’s gone faster than the dust he’s kicked up. It was rather funny this morning as the garbage trucks were out there doing their weekly pick up and when I came up behind him (on my way to the sink), he reacted much like this. In spite of the usual dust-ups between he and I — something I’m still trying to figure out — I guess I’m a lot quieter than I thought. So that’s not helped his skittishness since we’re being here on Federal Hill.
Oh and one more thing about Moe… As I’ve said before he usually doesn’t have much interest in human food and the most enticing I’ve found is the remains of a tuna can as I’m having something with that. Ham? Nope, no interest. Beef? The same. Chicken? Eh he loves the smell, but can’t be bothered other than to smell it… Nope… His love seems to be blueberry muffins and strawberries off the bush. Seems he’ll go out of his way to have those instead even right out of my hand of off the dish. Strange that given that cats by nature don’t have the taste buds for sweet as they tend to stick to salty and meat… thanks to evolution. But I’ll just chalk that up to Moe’s eccentricities and move forward from there.
During my off-time, a friend of mine has been trying to convince me to get into World of Warships and I’ve been hesitant about it. Sure, from what I’ve been watching from The Mighty Jingles and my watching the various tutorials from the MMO; gaming in it is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from Star Trek Online with most of the controls… But what makes me hesitant about going into the game has entirely to do with the cooperative and team playing missions.. Yeah, you know me — if I can’t play with other people, I’m more than merry about keeping to myself and playing with my toys because I just play my way like I did when I was in kindergarten… and I’m more than happy about that. Put me in with other people — especially complete strangers — and I become this raging psychotic yelling at my screen and systematically ignoring people so that I’ll never have to play with them again. Better to stay in my own sandbox instead… I might eventually go into it — but that’s not quite right now.
Warframe I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and have been doing missions that I was hesitant to do. I still haven’t gamed with other people (see above about that), but at least when I do play — there are at least a small handful of people I can play with if I need to do some mission that I can’t solo through. Well up until a couple of months ago — I don’t get on early enough for most and one has taken a break from the game to pursue other games — like World of Warships and War Thunder.
I’ve given up entirely on Rift for two reasons. The first and foremost reason is that it’s broken on both the Guardian as well as the Defiant sides of the RPG portions of the leveling up story-quests… On the Guardian side it seems to go all right, but then you get this really steep leveling mission that you’ll end up getting killed numerous times. There seems to be some sort of progression break from what I remember of the questlines and it seems to be lacking the adventuring through the various regions and seems to jump ahead in places I don’t remember being able to jump ahead to. The second reason is that it seems to be hell-bent on advertising Subscription Access for the “added benefits”… So much so that that much advertising in a game is off-putting to someone that I did put money into through the years.
And finally Star Trek Online is just something mindless and grind-like that I don’t mind doing for a couple of hours. I think I had a meltdown a couple of months ago when I realized that I was having shit-luck building up the FED-Engineer and FED-Science Captains and in a fit of rage deleted them. After all, I’ve been having better luck and success grinding and getting things with my FED-Tactical and ROM-Tactical… I did rebuilt the FED-Science Officer along with launching a Klingon Tactical Captain — but truth be told they’re sitting in my pick-list collecting dust for the last couple of months. Part of me is sort of loathing the thought of learning that the Science Captain is as clapped-out as running an Engineering Captain, most of me is wondering whether I should reroll it when the new season rolls out called Agents of Yesterday. I’m not sure yet, though it almost sounds enticing.
As for the rest…. Yeah well, other than the occasional blatant, up-front and completely unsuccessful pull from the folk in the area, I’m enjoying my sabbatical from the rest of humanity. Seriously the mind boggles at some of the things gay men say to one another in order to get a tryst, date, whatever. At least the good thing is that I’ve stopped getting the “will you be my daddy?” messages because of my Four Rules. And in case you can’t find those rules; I’ll post them once again here:
1. They have to be over 6’4″ for me to consider eligible.
2. They have to be older than my combat boots (33 years) for me to actually ask them out for coffee.
3. They have to be older than how many years I’ve been out of the closet for me to consider dating regularly. (37 years).
4. They have to be mature, vivacious and so at peace with their issues for me to consider breaking any of the first three rules.
The 20-somethings in the area see that first rule and apparently they’re all appearance intimidated. A good thing all around given that I’ve reached the age in my life where I’m tired of having to train tweens (Tolkien’s use of the word, not Urban Dictionary’s) to being mature adults. And the adults? Well, they’re man children… They’re appearance intimidated more often times than naught, so only the truly ballsy will try messaging me. Or cat-fishing. Either or, it’s win-win.
And that’s about it for the time being. Off to slink back to the quiet, which I’m enjoying. Until the next time.
JWildfire 2.56, Un-Retouched
I’m finding that I’m somewhere between excited-ish as well as disappointed with this render. Upbeat because it’s been almost 5 months since I last did anything with any of the programs I work with. Excited that this came out somewhere near to what the preview came out. disappointed because the render I had been working on crashed and I didn’t save the code prior to it’s rendering (it was a very lovely flower come globe motif).
Thanks to Fluidified on YouTube for inspiring me to give this one a go in spite of the previous crash as I listened to this when I was working on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvyWRevLG5I
Entry 01/07/2016 02:16:30 AM – Mentat 1036
“The great thing about a computer notebook is that no matter how much you stuff into it, it doesn’t get bigger or heavier…” – Bill Gates
I’ve gotten into the first week of the new year and in spite of the fact that I’ve been more than diligently writing personal diary entries, it’s been some months since the last time I had written publicly was about the time of the mugging. In the following three months since then I’ve been inordinately quiet online while happily producing various Mandelbulb and (mostly) JWildfire fractal work. While I’ve been more than happy about keeping my diary private (offline), the primary reason hasn’t been because of the frivolousness of the entries. Not at all really; after all I’ve been well known for taking the most frivolous and dog-eared end of any element in my life and turning into a melodramatic moment of story-telling proportions. No, the ongoing issues that I’ve been having since starting this job has been the ability to focus on any one thing and staying with it from beginning to middle to end. Instead of focusing and staying to that course, I often find myself going in a hundred different directions at any given moment. Further, the more intense the issue — the more frustrated I become when trying to describe the issue — the more likely I am to run away from it, finding something else to distract myself from that frustration. I have since gotten a little better about this at least privately — whether this will extend publicly remains to be seen — but I’ll endeavor to do my best one way or another.
I got hired at the contract I’ve been working for the last 9 months. In spite of the anger issues that I had been going through because of that mugging, the delusional pats-on-the-back the manager (only in the position 3 weeks longer than I’ve been working there) that firmly believes she’s changed things for the better, and the host of other issues I’ve seen, witnessed, experienced both just prior through to just after the hiring process. As I’ve said before (around the end of September) I’ve never been in a department that completely lacks the ability to reading (and comprehending) e-mail sent to them personally as well as a blast to the whole department. The icing on that cupcake came a couple of weeks later when I was pulled into the manager’s office and was chastised for the “scathing” e-mail I had sent QA coordinator (a contractor barely into his 30s) and how much he cried to the manager about how harsh that e-mail was to his feelings. After about 15 minutes of being berated not only by the manager but also the witness (because she’s female and I’m not, it’s common practice to have a witness — usually of management — to ensure nothing goes afoul. This witness is also a team leader for the department), I decided to go onto the offensive to shut the meeting down when the manager said, “if you got an e-mail like the one I wrote, I’m sure you’d had been crying in my office about it.” I looked at her and said, “Uh, no I wouldn’t. I would have handled that criticism like an adult and not a spoiled child.” And then went on to state the apparent issues that continue to plague the department, including how no one reads e-mails, no one seems to be able to take any criticism and how everyone cries foul for any slight that might come out or inferred. I got loud enough in the meeting that the window on her office door rattled and when I left that meeting people in the department were unusually quiet like they thought I was getting fired.
The fact is, I could go on and on (and on and on) about it, and the more that I do the more I’ll feel my blood pressure once again rising and the more aggravated I’ll be about it. And while it’s true it might get a bit of frustration that I’ve had pent up over the months — I suspect more than it’ll just torque me up in ways I don’t want to cope through. And I’m rather liking having my attention to coping through health and fitness issues more than work-related issues. With that I keep reminding myself that there are some places that have it well established on how to handle such situations and such issues and there are places that don’t. This is just one of those sort of places that doesn’t. And the bottom line is that I’m just riding it through to see whether the changes are going to be for the better, or for the worst.
After all the zaniness of getting hired and getting the Golden Ticket to allow being hired at this place, I’ve continued with my regimen from my doctor as he balanced out my medications for high blood pressure as well as dietary changes because of these medications (low sodium mostly); I come to find out the main medication for controlling high blood pressure — Metoprolol — is also used to control anxiety. This was after the second month of the medication adjustments; of which two of those months I was seriously crotchety as I was fighting the near constant fatigue I was experiencing. By the third month — I had gotten used to the medications and whatever hostility I had been feeling just washed away and disappeared. Because of this, I’ve learned to take advantage of the medication and allow most of the aggravating instances at work to wash away and deal with them if I can deal with them. Or to leave them be until I can handle or not.
The other drug that I take — Chlorthalidone — reminds me vividly that I am middle-aged. Seriously. Because of one of the side-effects of regularly taking it, I’ve had to include taking Metamucil (AKA, The Radioactive Sludge) as part of my diet. I think the most annoying part of about it is that if I miss so much as two doses of Metamucil — my bowels stopper up faster than you can say, “Screaming Jesus on a Ferris Wheel”.
All I can think on this is — so this is what Middle Age is all about? And I thought the first six years were going to be a cake walk through to retirement. Nope, this is where the true “fun” begins.
The second part of this middle-age is the amount of fun I’ve been having in the kitchen trying low-sodium and more healthy alternatives to the things I’ve been eating most of my life. While it’s true that I had learned my cooking from my three grandmothers (maternal, paternal and step-father), I never did take advantage of that experience on just myself. While it’s true that I normally cooked such meals for boyfriends & partners (or for special occasions) it was rare to do so for myself. Further I’ve been expanding upon it thanks to places like All Recipes, Food and Food Network as well as Epicurious just to name the few off the top of my head. While I might not post the pics on WordPress, DA or Blogger — I do on occasion post them to Twitter and Facebook. And if you’re curious enough — you can always ask me what I’m trying out at the moment.
Couple this with the exercise/keep busy routine that I’ve had going since October last year and I’m happy to say that I continue to lose weight. I’ve currently gotten to my first goal weight of 185 lbs. (83.9 Kg) and I’m currently working on my second goal weight of 170 lbs. (77.1 Kg). I’m optimistic (but not overly hopeful) given that it’s winter and I’m not overly enthusiastic about walking in sub-freezing temperatures. It’ll definitely be happening over the spring to fall of this year though, rest assured.
Next up for 2016 is finally getting around to redecorating and renovating the Homestead. That’ll start in the spring when it warms up. Heh, unlike the douchebag ex-landlord that I worked for — I am NOT doing any interior painting in the winter. Not now and especially not ever again. I guarantee there will be pictures coupled with the potential for the mis-adventures that will and can occur.
Overall, I’m getting rather used to it just being Moe and me. At least Moe and I have come to an agreement about certain things; namely his not kneading the duvet when he comes to bed and clawing up the rugs instead of his scratcher. Though it took me a while to realize one of his habits is actually love bites, even if he doesn’t do head-butts. While he hasn’t ever drawn blood, he tends to clamp down a bit harder than I’m used to. And while he’s not as friendly as any of other cats, because of it he’s a perfect alarm for people coming into the house and when noises are too clamorous outside. If it’s too noisy he’s gone… disappears… and runs immediately for somewhere in the bedroom. He’ll only come out after they’re gone or it’s quiet in the neighborhood once again. Which is perfect when I’m unconscious and drooling into a pillow.
While I’ve set about 25 goals for this year, three of which are currently sitting on my desk: publicly posting (some more) of my journal entries, trying to write a short story without the necessary muse for writing and whether to continue posting fractal work for 2016. So the operative question I’ve had since the new year is will I add them to the list of goals or not? Well, it remains to be seen.
JWildfire 2.56, un-Retouched
A variation of one of the many banded marbles I’ve worked on over the years. While I continue to stick to a indigo pallet as the year ends, I added a little splash of other colors to enrich the deepness of the Maroon and Purples.
As well as the last marble I’m making for the 2015 year. Not sure what I’ll be doing next — that’s more than a week away. Pleasant Holidays and a Festive New Year everyone. I’m looking forward to more drama for mine.