Category: office


August 15th, 2008 — 8:34pm

Walking back from the store, I saw a tiny hummingbird hovering in front of the stalk of a bird of paradise. And as I approached, it dipped, then flew up and over the nearest building. But as it dipped and rose into the air, a tiny, yellow butterfly confronted it, then flew next to it for about twenty feet, in unison as it rose. I’ve seen this behavior between pairs of butterflies in the mountains; they confront each other and then fly in tandem skyward. I think it’s competitive pre-mating behavior that males engage in and it’s interesting that the hummingbird, completely obliviously, was able to set it off.  Meanwhile, office drones continue their plodding forward movement in all directions.

Comment » | office, Whining

Sweet Hellish Pain

August 14th, 2008 — 3:39pm

The online beauty retailer account management pages that I have been working on for most of eternity have now received an official shrug of indifference from the brilliant, young boss of the company. This is amusing to me, because at this point the creative control has been taken away from four different people, me being none of the four. At this point in the design process, everyone who has fretfully micromanaged the process has had his or her decisions second-guessed at some point along the line, most finally the CD of the site, who went and redesigned the graphics that I created, making them apparently less desireable than they were originally. It was frustrating, but now it’s just amusing, because I no longer feel insecure about the process. Everyone has had their creative expression bitchslapped in a massive circle jerk of uncertainty. I, however, am working at home today. My life may be going nowhere at the moment, but at least I get to ride my bike at lunch.

Comment » | anxiety, office

The Unusual

August 14th, 2008 — 3:27pm

After my work day was over, I headed to the Austrian Bunker where I met with my German doctors. I’m just going to call them German because that’s the accent they have. Actually there was an American guy there this time, whose name was Monroe and who, at some point in the conversation, let slip that he was a descendent of the president (and by president I mean President Monroe, the man who came up with the doctrine). He was just taking notes however, and seemed at least somewhat sympathetic when Dr. Pierley (rhymes with barely, as in ‘barely able to contain her anger’) started complaining about the demo I brought in.

Apparently I missed the whole point of the exercise, which was that the weird stroboscoping quality of the aging 16mm film was something she wanted to KEEP. She began a lecture about brainwave frequency, occular refresh rate, etc. and I stared at her with all the comprehension of a dog watching TV.

Obviously frustrated with me, she went and had a pow-wow with her Austrian brothers and I thought they were going to fire me, but instead they took me to a room and gave me the complete test in its appropriate environment… which I have to say was pretty cool.

The room was battleship grey and had ambient light sources (from somewhere), giving the whole thing a hazy, floating quality. The projector sound was masked by a low humming thing that one of the tech guys turned on, and then they sat me in front of the screen with a helmet on, that held my neck stiff and pointed constantly at the screen, with what seemed to be a laser directed into my right eye. I made a joke about going blind and Dr. Pierley assured me that it was not a laser but just highly collimated single wavelength light (which according to Google is the definition of a laser, so I think she was just fed up with me at this point).

I’d already read the entire thing for my demo, but now the questions seemed more unnerving. I had to answer “A” or “B” based on seemingly irrelevant questions about random shapes that appeared on screen. Later she told me the whole experience was designed to send the conscious mind into a kind of fugue state and that the strobing was the most important part of the process. My right eye started to throb and it bothers me still, 3 hours later. I got a splitting headache and really didn’t care if they fired me. But oddly, she seemed impressed by my responses. Not sure why, since it all appeared quite random. She said they’d test me more when I brought in the next iteration.

Before I left, one of the tech guys brought over a sheet of paper with specific frame rates and color flickering patterns that he said I should use in my flash. I felt weirdly calm and peaceful walking back to the car… as if I’d taken a xanax. But now I am going to see if I have any real Xanax in the house, because my head feels like it’s going to split in two.

How did it get so late?!

Comment » | anxiety, office, Whining


July 22nd, 2008 — 9:01pm

They told me I could call in to the meeting, which was a huge reprieve from the expected 1.5 hours of commuting plus many hours of workplace anxiety and tedium that would have been added to the day.

But telecommuting brings with it a strange quality of unexpected boundary violation.

Since I’m still trying to lose weight I’ve been drinking lots of water, tea and blended drinks, and this leads to an intense need to pee, all the time. But this was a long meeting so I had to maneuver to the bathroom, while silently taking off my shorts. However the toilet bowl is essentially a porcelain megaphone, which magnifies any noises, especially quick, gasseous exhallations. Which means, essentially, while you are sitting naked on the toilet farting you are also in a room with eight other people in business attire, who really don’t want to hear any of that. And if you’re lucky they never know… but you do.

I held my hand over the mouthpiece so I believe I didn’t transmit, but the whole experience was too personal, like when that hot female doctor examined my prostate. We were interacting really well up until that point, but then the conversation came to a crashing halt and I left her office feeling as if I’d just propositioned her, as if I’d just leaped up and grabbed her finger with my butt…

Comment » | anxiety, office, Whining


July 11th, 2008 — 3:42pm

Technology increases at a self reinforcing rate, and the consequent developments propagate ever faster through the business world, especially online, so that time spent away from work is actually (finally) a detriment to one’s future employment. I always mocked humorless headhunters and business drones who  expressed concern over gaps in a resume, as if not working were somehow morally questionable. I hate those people; and in some ways the internet is open enough, with enough job promiscuity, that it isn’t quite the black mark on a resume the way it might have been for a hiring manager at IBM or DOW chemicals a few years ago. But now the threat is more real, because just a few months spent away from something like internet marketing and you can be noticeably out of date. We have been freed from the grasp of one soulless ghost only to fall into the clutches of another more insidious one. Because now, if your skills aren’t up to date and if you don’t have the right buzz words in the right order on your portfolio, you can look stale and unemployable. Oh well… I will strive to be the best freeway off-ramp orange salesmen who ever LIVED…

Comment » | anxiety, design, office, Whining

galley slave

June 27th, 2008 — 3:39pm

An unfortunate problem with finding new work is that not caring tends to be a huge red flag with employers. Personally, I consider not caring to be a rational response to a workplace environment composed of meaningless, unsatisfying tedium, but I suppose if it were my money going out the door I’d want fake enthusiasm too… It’s not that I don’t work hard, it’s just that I fully realize I am selling a piece of my soul for survival.

I picture a Roman Centurion behind a counter, horsehair fringe atop his brass helmet as he interviews prospective galley slaves.

“Have you done this kind of work?”

“Yes! Well… to some extent.”

“Which is it?”

“Well, sir, I’ve always wanted to be a galley slave.”

“So you’ve never rowed a ship?”

“I’m a born galley slave, sir.”

“You know it’s not always a warship. Sometimes you’ll have to row a cargo boat, sometimes we might be in dock and you’ll have to be chained to a post in the hot sun for weeks at a time. And whipping. Lots of whipping, you sure you can handle that?”

“Sir, I’ve been whipped most of my life. I really take to whipping.”

“Years of whipping experience?”

“…uh, three?”

“You’re not sure?”

“Well, I was beaten at first.”

“Beaten isn’t the same thing as whipped, is it? Whipping is a whole different LEVEL of pain. Whipping leaves marks. Any jackass can be beaten. Takes a lot more dedication to be whipped all day. “

“Please, sir, I need this job.”

“Well, we’ve got a lot of applicants… You really have to burn for this kind of work. I don’t know… I don’t think you really WANT this…”

And the sad thing is, when I Googled “business galley slave” there were SO many cartoons to choose from…

Comment » | anxiety, office, Whining

Their Kampf

June 24th, 2008 — 2:22pm

My work is not being criticized, so it isn’t personal for me. However I can’t help but feel sympathy for the woman who was shoved out of the discussions regarding the proper navigation for the online beauty retailer account management pages.

First of all, the fact that so many people would care enough to make enemies over the navigational properties of a few web pages that will allow shoppers to track their cosmetics deliveries is shocking, or would be shocking if I weren’t already so cynical. But this woman worked on the wireframes, had me mock up some layouts and was then quickly elbowed out of the way by two other parties who felt that her logic was flawed.

So yesterday I created a new layout along these new guidelines and today the controlling parties have refined their wireframes for the landing page… and it’s looking more like the original. This time though, it’s THEIR idea, so it’s better.

I’m just the child who is sent shuttling back and forth between bickering parents. I’ll design any page they want as long as everyone involved is reasonably polite. But the sheer weight of the tedium created and energies expended by all parties in this extended monthlong argument over control is so disheartening. Perhaps a constant jockeying for power is just an innate quality of all human interaction. In that case I should try to work in emergency situations or where important life or death decisions are being made. At least then the struggle for control would seem warranted…  Anyway, back to the drawing board, or the Photoshop page. Luckily I keep every iteration; I have a feeling we might just design ourselves right back to where we started.

Comment » | anxiety, design, office, Whining

the usal

June 18th, 2008 — 2:37pm

So I’m in the office today, because we’re having a meeting which will flesh out the new direction they want for the membership pages.

Which means there’s nothing for me to do until after the meeting… which means, since this is an open office and all the cubicles have walls that are 12 inches high –proto-cubicles really, the half-formed foetus of cubicles– I have to pretend to be working for an hour. I can’t just pull out a book and read because that would earn resentment; some of these people were already working hard when I got here at 8:30, and some will be here after I leave. I am very close to pretend-designing a logo for the membership pages, just so it looks like I’m not flaking off…

This open-planned office is the albatross around the neck of early 21st century workers. Bosses love it because it encourages accountability. They claim to love it because it supposedly creates synergy (a very 20th century word). Employees hate it because it is distracting, because it is patronizing, because it means that during the work day your every movement is monitored.

But, on the other hand, this morning I discovered free frozen waffles in the office refrigerator.

Welcome to the Panopticon.

Comment » | office, Whining

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