Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Exclusive Advice: Read It!

A Vicky Hill Exclusive!, the first book in the series by Hannah Dennison, was a fun read. I could instantly relate to Vicky from page 2 when she knocked on her boss’ door and he yelled, “Who the hell is it?”

Except the question of who isn’t a concern of my boss. He only cares to know what you want. Thankfully he has never yelled, “What the hell do you want?” Although it is implied in the one word he does ask, “What?”

While reading this book, my inner voice developed an accent. I’ve never traveled abroad nor do I know anything about the different dialects spoken in Europe. I just know two things: 1) they exist and 2) my inner accent is probably not even close.

I read during my lunch so when I report back, my accent is hard at work. This is fun for me, except when my mouth decides it wants in on it. One of my favorite words in the book is “Blast!,” which comes up a lot with all the trouble that is trying to make Vicky its BFF.

Once I actually yelled, “Blast!,” which I guess was better than either of the four letter words I prefer. But my accent was so horrible my favorite coworker didn’t understand me. It really does all work out for the best sometimes.

Maybe it should have been a lesson not to read it during lunch, but I couldn’t resist. And the next time I came back from lunch it just so happened someone with a real accent called me. I’m not sure where he was from, but his accent was the soul mate to my accent. And when we hung up I couldn’t help but wonder if he actually called me “luv” or if it was my imagination.

I love coming across a good mystery and this book had it. You can count on me checking out the second in the series, Scoop!

And because there are better people in the world suited to sum up and review, I chose fictondb to give it to you:

The debut of a new series set in the sleepy English town of Gipping-on-Plym, featuring ambitious but bumbling investigative journalist Vicky Hill, who'll do anything to get that front- page story...

Vicky Hill has two goals: escape the never-ending boredom of funeral reporting and find the right man. Then a tip leads to what might be the scoop of a lifetime. There is a bizarre connection between three grisly chicken corpses and the unusual death of local hedge-jumping enthusiast Sir Hugh Trewallyn. Suddenly, it seems that this quiet market town harbors more than its fair share of secrets. Vicky's hoping it might be hiding some available men as well. But as she opens Gipping's Pandora's box, her own secrets come back to haunt her--even as her rival at the paper, sexy, unscrupulous Annabel Lake, tries to block her at every turn. Can Vicky rise to stardom before someone writes her obituary?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Second Opinion

My boss likes to get a second opinion on most everything. When it comes to the new girl he might be blatant about it, by right out asking my favorite coworker and I the same question he asked her earlier, but only after she’s gone for the day. But when it comes to getting a second opinion on something my favorite coworker or I say, he’s a little sneakier. I guess out of respect for all the years we’ve put into our job.

So what stealthy tactic does he use when it comes to us? I use to think my boss either a) couldn’t remember who was working on a project, b) didn’t care who was working on it, or c) just assumed our brains were somehow connected so he could ask either and we both should know.

In some case it could be any of the above. But in most cases I’ve come to believe it is his way of checking up on us. He wants to make sure our stories match. So he plays dumb. He won’t ask the same question to both of us, but when one isn’t around he’ll ask the other one like he didn’t know or needed an update.

Like so: My boss will ask me the status of an order he knows damn well my favorite coworker is handling. By asking me, he knows I’ll have to do some checking. When I come back with my answer, he’ll make sure it matches my coworker’s earlier answer. As long as our stories match it’s all good.

In some cases when our answers don’t match -- which only happens because I’m checking on something I have no idea about and how are you expected to always answer correctly on something you aren’t working on -- well, in those cases, my boss will pipe up and reveal the answer my coworker already gave him.

In those "she said, I said" moments, all I can say is well, she’s right (and I want to say if you already knew then why the hell are you wasting my time, but I don’t because he’s paying me to waste time). After that I usually wait around for my coworker to resurface and I relive the whole ordeal through whispers and throat chocking gestures, and after all that, then I get my own second opinion when I ask her if I’m crazy or is he an...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Object Worth Reading

Steve Martin’s latest book, An Object of Beauty, wooed me with its art world setting. I often romanticize the art experience when I think of going to an art museum, which this book inspired me to do, but which I refrained from because I know how it would turn out.

When I envision a trip to the art museum, it plays like a movie montage through my head. I see myself marveling at all the great paintings. But two things actually happen:

1) I never “get it,” because there is no osmosis at work there. Being in the presence of these great works and the people who could appreciate them don’t help me.

2) Similar to the five minutes or so it takes to watch a movie montage, I can get through a section of the museum and I’m ready to go. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate art. I just don’t have the patience for it.

So if it wasn’t the paintings the book talked about and the astronomical amount of money people paid for them that drew me in, what was it about the book I like? It was the people and the functions these paintings gathered. I would love to experience it, although, I fear I might be romanticizing this as much as I do the art museum.

Thankfully there is no prerequisite to read this book, well you might think literacy would be one, but where I see you point... I tell you there were also pictures in it. They were of the paintings referenced in the book, so maybe it wouldn’t be a contribution to someone not reading the text.

But getting back to my gratitude of not having to know art to enjoy the book. I’m sure maybe someone who does know a thing or two about paintings might enjoy this book more than I, but I don’t know those people so I can’t confirm.

Perhaps I’m just doing it wrong, and I say this because Steve Martin said this in a Los Angeles Times interview about the first painting he ever bought:

“I found that it wasn’t until I spent time alone with it that I had any kind of communion with it.”

Okay, if you know where I’m going here then you’ll know it only leads to jail. Because even if I bring a printed copy of that article to the art museum, I don’t see them finding me wanting to spend alone time with their paintings as anything other than illegal.

Anyway, I’ve provided a real review written by Publisher Weekly below. I couldn’t in good conscious only leave you with my recommendation which would go something lame like: if you love art or love the idea of art, maybe you should read it.

Publisher Weekly Review:
Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale. Lacey Yeager is an ambitious young art dealer who uses everything at her disposal to advance in the world of the high-end art trade in New York City. After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, she manipulates her way up through Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings," sleeping with patrons, and dodging and indulging in questionable deals, possible felonies, and general skeeviness until she opens her own gallery in Chelsea. Narrated by Lacey's journalist friend, Daniel Franks, whose droll voice is a remarkable stand-in for Martin's own, the world is ordered and knowable, blindly barreling onward until 9/11. And while Lacey and the art she peddles survive, the wealth and prestige garnered by greed do not. Martin (an art collector himself) is an astute miniaturist as he exposes the sound and fury of the rarified Manhattan art world. If Shopgirl was about the absence of purpose, this book is about the absence of a moral compass, not just in the life of an adventuress but for an entire era.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ulcer? Oh, And I'm Surprised?

Saturday night I was visited by a sharp pain in my left side. After a trip to the medical center Sunday afternoon, it was theorized to be an ulcer. An actual diagnosis can only be done with a scope by a gastroenterologist. I can live with the speculation because I’m not loving the idea of getting a scope down the throat.

When the pain hit, I honestly wasn’t thinking ulcer. In hindsight it seems so obvious. I won’t say it was a wake-up call, mostly because it’s so cliché, but also because I already knew I needed to change. What the ulcer did was let me know I’m sucking at the change thing.

Now the thing you don’t want to realize while you have an ulcer, given the whole “need to eliminate stress” thing that ulcers require, is just how old you really are. Because that was what I did while being driven to the medical center and it didn’t yield stress-free results.

See, I was still questioning whether I was overreacting. It’s a good one to ask before dropping at least a grand just to walk into the medical center (because my insurance sucks). If the pain was being caused by something life threatening, yes, I’d pay any amount of money to fix it. But, no, I don’t want to pay $1000 to hear I have gas.

As I looked really deep at whether going was the right choice, I was thinking with a 20-year-old brain. That was when I realized I’m closer to 40 than 20. A 40-year-old isn’t considered a hypochondriac because of a sharp pain in their left side. No, a 40-year-old, would be asked what took her so long to decide to go?

At that moment my ulcer knew it could sit back and relax. It wasn’t going anywhere with a mid-life crisis brewing. All the medicine and diet restrictions won’t do me any good if I’m indulging in the ridiculous.

My worry that me as “a 40-year-old stuck in a 9-5 hell” means anything more than me being “a 40-year-old stuck in a 9-5 hell” is ridiculous. It isn’t a prediction for my whole future, it’s a definition for now. And it only has to stay that way if I decide I don’t want to change after all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Opinion, Glad You Asked

Usually when an employee gets a review, their supervisor fills out an appraisal sheet on them. But that would be work, so instead, my boss is having us fill out our own appraisal sheets. I don’t have a problem doing this and plan to give myself the highest mark in each category.

Oh, it’s not what you think. Sure I think I do a good job, but the biggest reason is the other options leave me no other choice. Let me share a few examples:

In the “Quantity of Work” category...

The above average box says, “Produces a high quantity of work. A thorough and careful worker. Seldom slacks off.”

Why would I select above average and admit I slack off sometimes?

In the “Knowledge of Job” category...

The above average box says, “Thorough knowledge of job and procedures.” While the outstanding box says, “Thorough knows and follows correct procedure.”

By selecting above average, wouldn’t I basically be saying I’m a rogue worker who knows what I’m suppose to do, but does the job how I want?

In the “Dependability” category...

Here there is the issue of attendance and punctuality. You’ll need some facts first, in 2010 I missed two days of work. I’ve been on-time, except for maybe a couple unavoidable times when a car accident had traffic all backed up. And if you looked at my attendance for the whole of my time there, you could probably count the days I’ve been absent on one hand.

So here are my choices: 1) above average = rarely absent or tardy. 2) outstanding = excellent attendance and punctuality.

Don’t they seem like the same thing? Wouldn’t rarely absent or tardy be considered excellent? To me, excellent is not perfect. And if the form meant perfect, the form should have put that.

In the “Working Relations” category...

Of course I’m going to select outstanding with the words, “loyal worker” under it. I don’t think I need to say more.

Now given what I've told you about above average, soak in what it says about it under the “Overall Performance Rating” -- “Represents a high level of achievement. Employee clearly demonstrates ability to excel in job-related tasks.”

I think that's overly positive. I remember above average as: Sometimes I slack off, I know my job, but choose to do what I want, and I’m not what you would call loyal.

Geez, dare I look at what's under the category marked average.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who Looks Like The Idiot?

I'm not one of those grammatically capable people. And if you've read any of my previous posts you are probably thinking, don't we know it. It's not an ambition of mine to be good at it, even though maybe I should be better than I am. Especially since I will purposely avoid using sentences where I fear my grammar is so bad, I would offend my grade school teachers.

That out of the way, my boss sent me an email this morning to ask: "Do you know whom this person is?" The person in question is not important, what is, is his usage of the word "whom." I think it's wrong. Just going to put it out there. I think it should be: "Do you know who this person is?"

I had nowhere to turn, so naturally, I turned to Google. When I put in "Do you know whom this person is?" Google brought up search results with the note: did you mean... "Do you know who this person is?" because that is the results were showing you, moron. Thankfully, they don't call you a moron when they show you other result options otherwise I would get that A LOT.

Now I'm not saying Google is a credible source, but I'm feeling a little more comfortable with my position on this issue.

The second part of my vent... I thought it was a pretty presumptuous way to ask it. I mean, why couldn't he just ask: "Do you know this guy?" If we were a company where people could actually communicate with voice instead of email, he wouldn't be walking over spouting "Do you know whom this person is?"

Does he need to show me his superiority, his higher degree of education, his bigger bank account by acting like he is all refine? And I'm the idiot who would say, "Anyone hear of this dude?"

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Interrupt This Blog

I interrupt this blog to introduce you to two new blogs I started yesterday. For fans of 925 Hell, don’t worry, I will continue to post here as I always have.

I hope you'll check them out:

If Blogging Burned Calories

My attempt to stay healthy while engaging in an activity, blogging, that is less than physical. I hope you will join me as I try to transfer some mush into muscle. And keep off those extra alien pounds that are waiting to jump on me from cyberspace.

2011 Preview: Tips for health and wellness. And a series: Tune-up Tuesday.

If Barking Burned Calories

My dogs are overweight and I’m to blame. My challenge is to get them to lose weight despite not being able to walk them outside on a regular basis. I’m going to share how I do it all with you.

2011 Preview: Alternative exercise options, product reviews and recipes.

And finally... 2011 Preview for 925 Hell:
  • My Gold list revealed
  • Outdo Yourself book reviews
  • Odd Alpha Day - New Series!
  • And, of course, more tales from the working front lines
I hope you’ll tune in because I think 2011 will be a great blogging year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

That's My Gold

Goal setting has never been successful for me. Not saying that I haven’t achieved things, but I’ve done so with a last minute, I hope I get the desired result, effort. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

Before judgment is passed, let me assure the world: I’ve tried! I’ve read books and articles to learn how to set goals, but it didn’t take. To date I haven’t been able to apply what I’ve learned in actual real life situations where goals are needed.

All that said, I have learned not to fall for the popular tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve accepted it and moved on, maybe one day things will be different, but 2011 will be goal free.

But all this doesn’t mean I’ll be flying through 2011 completely on a whim. I’ve come up with something that I believe will work better for me. Instead of making a list of goals, I’m going to make a list of things I consider to be gold.

My Gold is a list of valuable things at my disposal to help me in my quest to accept where I am in my life right now. Its purpose is perfectly summed up with:

“Grow where you are planted.” --Proverb

My Gold will also be flexible enough so as I grow during the year, it will continue to be serviceable.

I’ll share My Gold in future posts, so stay tuned!