Travel Tuesday!

In which I go over river and through dales and whatnot to corporate to get my laptop replaced. Very excited to be able to work and not have the backslash key go \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ randomly while I type. It’s just a refurbished one, but it should work, and that’s fine by me – especially since they’d said no laptop refreshes thanks to the supply chain and I’d taken that as NO replacements at all – but they just meant not brand new laptops.

Of course, last night we had a demo and someone was all, “Ohhhh, we have a surprise for you in the morning on release X!” and I was like, “Welp, if it needs to be done by COB, I don’t have a full day available tomorrow!” (Release X was supposed to be over and done and work on Release Y should be starting today, but not due for a few days, so agreeing to the laptop replacement time today was not unreasonable.) So, I’m sure they’re pissed about that, but not a damn thing I can do about it – I would have preferred that the keyboard had not started failing in the first place.

The mental checklist sure is a little different these days, though. What used to be laptop bag and badge now has covid test (negative!), fresh N95, and figuring out how to use the online check-in thing added to it. Still a bit miffed that I have to go in at all – if I just lived a little farther away… (Seriously, just eat the shipping cost, don’t make me spend time in the fucking office.)

So, I’m kinda dreading logging on this morning cause lord only knows what they’ve decided I can accomplish in half a day. There was a great thread on Twitter on the hazard of scheduling your team at 100% capacity – I am resisting the urge to send this to management.

It’s 100% true. When you don’t allow for things to go wrong (which my team lead does not seem to do and I DO NOT KNOW WHY) everything goes to shit in very short order.

Well, time to refill my coffee and go see what awaits me.

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Proof the world keeps spinning on its axis…

It’s fucking tiny ant season again. The Mrs Myers lemon multi-surface cleaner is permanently on the counter for a while (smushes the ants on spray contact and bonus spot cleaning all over!) and the ant baits will be put out today. And the hornets are coming out of hibernation and we got a fucking gargantuan one* in the window yesterday. So, wasp & hornet spray is also on the shopping list, a purchase that will hopefully guarantee we don’t need it again this spring.

Multiple mass shootings this weekend, but the ants still show up, the laundry won’t wash itself, and the bills still demand payment. I’d take a mental health day, but there is no space in the schedule for it. At least there is a half day on Friday, but it’s gonna be a busy week – found multiple bugs last Friday, Lily has her dental appointment Thursday, and I am getting my shingles vaccine on Friday afternoon, wheee.

We also have a demo tonight at 9:30, so at least I can hopefully leave a smidge early this afternoon. And now that I’ve realized that I can get to Teams on Chrome on my regular laptop, I don’t even have to log back in on my work laptop and I can watch it downstairs.

In escapist stuff, I’ve been watching the Great Pottery Throwdown and oh my, it’s lovely. Beautiful ceramics, everyone is nice to each other and helps each other, and everyone is sad when someone leaves. I may have to finally sign up for a pottery class at the local arts center.

Well, time to go do the thing to make the money to go buy the damn hornet spray.

* Not one of the murder hornets – I googled, cause this thing was JFC big, but they’re not in Virginia.

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This country…

As I try to get my weekend stuff done while holding space to process yet another domestic terrorist attack, I cannot help but keep coming back to the fact that in this country, we are not given time and space to grieve when these things happen.

Time after time, it’s a fleeting “thoughts and prayers” and then it’s quick, quick, get back to work, don’t think about it, get back to normal, if you so much as pause the “bad guys” win.

And if you’re thinking, “But if we shut down the country every time something bad happens, things would never open again” – you’re almost there.

In my lifetime, I cannot recall a proper national day of mourning, where everything is shut down, for any reason.

If there is a country out there more in need of repeated countrywide general strikes than the US, I genuinely don’t know who it is.

The one language every politician speaks is money and honestly, I’m not sure how else we get them to listen and act – lord knows they’re not listening now.

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Well, reset the clock

Zero days since a mass shooting and since I had to refer to the self-care list.

I don’t have any answers, but I do know that American leadership is absolutely not up to the task here. Republicans are openly encouraging these acts, while Democrats wring their hands, followed by, “Maybe we need more cops?”

And because we have to take care of each other and this neighborhood was in a food desert and that one market will be shut down for a while – the Buffalo Community Fridge needs our help.

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Grey drizzly Saturday here

But despite the fact I do very much need some sun, it’s kinda nice. Cool but not cold, it’s not pouring down rain, and it’s just kind of calm out there.

Very nice trip to the farmers market this morning. Salad stuff, strawberries, potatoes, empanadas, and in an act of hope over experience – a cherry tomato plant.

A cherry tomato plant with a few green tomatoes and a LOT of blooms!

I don’t know why going to the farmers market feels like this somewhat subversive, radical act of self-care, but it does. I mean, it’s a whopping hour a week where I’m outside, rejecting corporate America and buying food with dirt still on it from the people that grow it. It’s not much, but it still feels like a lovely Fuck You to the establishment.

And speaking of self care, since everything is shit YET AGAIN, time to go through some things we all need to try to do. Not everyone will be able to do all of these things, I realize that, but we can’t take care of each other if we don’t take care of ourselves. And I’m bad at a lot of these and still trying.

  • Rest. Rest is not something that has to be earned. It’s a biological imperative. Please don’t feel guilty for resting.
  • Eat. Lord knows that can be hard, but you gotta eat. And it’s totally OK to do what you need to do to make it easier. Heat & eat baked ziti from the deli case? Go for it. Cracker cuts cheese cause you know you won’t be bothered to actually slice a block of cheese? Worth it if it means you can sit down and have some cheese and crackers without any effort. (Seeriously, cracker cuts & Triscuits are my go to snack – today is pepper jack cheese!)
  • Hydrate! This can be another tough one cause if you are like me, water isn’t the most interesting thing to consume and you may thing you’re drinking enough but not. Even being mildly dehydrated can make you feel off your game, so drink up. I have an app – Waterful – it’s great cause it will count anything you’re drinking and adjust it down when it’s not water, so your coffee still counts. And it has an octopus cheering you on!
Screenshot of Waterful app with an illustrated octopus and a chart showing water drinking progress
I should probably drink a little less coffee
  • Take your vitamins. Our diets may not be the best right now, so a daily multivitamin isn’t the worst idea. No one needs scurvy on top of everything else.
  • Take your meds. In times like these, they can be missed, forgotten, whatever. Set a reminder on your phone. Sticky note on the bathroom mirror. Whatever it takes, your meds are important. And please, never feel bad that you need them. To paraphrase Ina Garten – if your body isn’t producing what it needs, store bought is fine.
  • Outside time. Weather permitting, obviously, but just being outside is good for ya – fresh air, bit of sun – even if it’s just taking 5 minutes to sit on a bench outside the grocery store before you do the marketing, or sitting on your front steps watching the world go by. Even this morning at the farmers market was wonderful outside time for me.
  • Exercise. This is a hard one for everyone and anyone, and I totally understand not everyone can “just get some exercise” – time, energy and everything else conspire against us. Even a short walk or 15 minutes of light yoga can be beneficial to your body and brain – you don’t have to be out there training for a marathon. May not fix everything, but it doesn’t hurt.
  • General Personal Care. Brush your teeth, wash your face, drag yourself into the shower. If you have the time and a tub – a good soak every now and again is really nice.
  • Do SOMETHING ELSE. This is one I am *terrible* at – but finding a little time each day to do something that disconnects you from the shit is good. Reading anything-not-the-news, jigsaw puzzles, a bit of gardening, art, writing, whatever.

I know it seems like nothing matters at times, but YOU MATTER. And I want you to take care of yourself.

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And somehow we made it – well done, you! Don’t know about you, but I am fucking exhausted. The grind against the machine has definitely worn me down. I’m functioning, but juuuust barely – work is getting all I’ve got and the house is kinda falling apart. Gonna try to do a reset this weekend.

Did have some small victories at work, though! Wednesday sprint meeting, scrum lead tells my team lead, “hey, some of these tasks need to get moved to June” – and I shit you not, team lead again dragged his feet going, “well…we’re working on it” – and thank god, scrum lead just started moving shit to next month right then and there. I don’t get why our team lead is so resistant to moving things, and I think part of the team over in the PI is a bit put out that we’re rocking the boat, but I told them *they’re* working too many hours too and fixing this is good for everyone.

Look, I’m just trying to not have the whole damn team fry themselves.

Of course, along with this I have a feature on an existing app that had 4 hours of testing budgeted for it and I’ve already blown past that – but also found two issues that have to be addressed, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The 4 hours was ridiculous to begin with – it’s an existing app and we’ve added a warning if you have bad values – but you can’t just test with bad values to make sure that the warning shows up, ya gotta test with good values to make sure that warning *doesn’t* show up, too. And there are a fuckton of variations on a theme on either side. Even if I *hadn’t* found any issues, I wouldn’t feel bad at the amount of time it’s taken so far. It takes as long as it takes.

Welp, time to go grind those gears for capitalism and fuck up some schedules in the process, LOL.

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Hump Daaaaaaaaaaaaay

And I and my US coworker have thrown some work grenades. The entire team is grossly overcommitted for May and it has been pointed out to the team lead more than once saying we need to push things out (this isn’t a bad thing nor will we get in trouble for it) and it’s far better to do that NOW rather than overcommit, kill ourselves all month and still have to push things out when the last week of May rolls around.

So, we’ve both talked to the scrum lead directly and said it has to be addressed sooner rather than later and he’s said we’ll be dealing with it in today’s meeting and getting things to be more realistic. Don’t love going around the team lead, but he’s been told it needs to be fixed by multiple people and it hasn’t been fixed, and I’m not working 60 hours a week because he doesn’t want to say no and the rest of the team shouldn’t have to either.

This also on the heels of another last minute thing dumped on us yesterday that the PI team didn’t even touch despite the fact that they could have called for a special build at 8PM on Monday night and had it done, but didn’t. (I know when the fix was checked in. It’s documented.) Felt a little retaliatory after saying directly on Friday that I was overcommitted and having a meeting on Monday with a sub-lead showing I was overcommitted. So, here’s another critical bug with a 24 hour turnaround that the other side of the world “couldn’t get to”? Feels a bit sketchy – I don’t think the *team* said “fuck them” but one person made the decision to not request a special build (which they have said they do ALL THE TIME) and push it off on us.

My US coworker is very stressed and pissed and she said it was worse than support. I wouldn’t go *that* far myself, but I get her frustration to be sure. Honestly, a third US based person on the team would do us a world of good, since we get pulled off on client issues all the time because we have a bunch of clients who can only have US based workers look at their stuff.

I’ve extended the quiet hours on Teams on my phone and I’m considering removing it altogether. Boundaries, people. I know we’re a global team, but my time is my time.

Well, time to refill my coffee and go stick it to the man.

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How about NO?

Getting a little tired of hearing about the “right” way to protest SCOTUS, and I can’t help but notice that it’s mostly coming from white men who have never experienced the slightest inconvenience from their government. Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, they’re burning that motherfucker down. I think the 5 folks who are poised to strip the civil rights of over half the country can deal with folks telling them they suck.

Also, there was a twitter post asking people to SIGN UP FOR A PROTEST. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. Even if they were just trying to get a headcount, even if they were just trying to figure out if everyone interested was a real person. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. Because, now, they have a list. And the cops know they have a list.

In more mundane shit, I had to go ten rounds with my folks in the Philippines about what I have been tasked with and the total hours available in the month of May… Starting with me saying “I’ll need at least half a day to put together this demo, an hour won’t be enough” being interpreted as “I am going to put together a demo that will last 4 hours.” (Dear god no, I would not subject anyone to a 4 hour demo.) Got that cleared up and then we had to sort out the fact that I have enough work to last me until September right now. This is the HUGE hazard of being tasked by no less than three people and they’re trying to plot things down to the day vs. just looking at how much time is left in the month.

The spreadsheet they have is split among three tabs and has my shit interspersed with my other US partner in crime and it’s a mess, and I just added a tab showing “This is all my shit to do, this is how many hours I have in each month” so they can see my tasking & availability all in one shot. The long and short is “too much tasking and not enough time, please stop assigning things to me right now.”

And even then, after spending the better part of an hour meeting with one of the leads going “You can see, this will not work, right?” She was still, “Well, you can start X today and finish tomorrow, right?” Not when I am getting dragged into client issues left and right, and yesterday was one of those days. Just tell me when things need to be done by and let me take it from there, stop trying to manage it down to what gets done in any given day – especially given that any given day, 5 minutes into testing I find a bug and that task goes out the window while we wait for dev.

I’ve been doing this job for over 2 years now, the fact that I am underwater is not because I can’t do my job, it’s because we’ve been crushed with work. And I’m sure our main team lead is pissed that he overcommitted the team for May and I’m pointing it out. And it’s not just me, all you have to do is look at our tracking system where we have “capacity vs. work” plotted out and it’s all fucking red – I’m not spilling any secrets here.

And of course, the lead I met with yesterday was, “Maybe we need to meet weekly to go over what’s been assigned” – no, another meeting isn’t going to fix this – that is why I’m hoping my “all my shit in a single convenient view” tab will let them see where things are capacity wise without losing yet another hour to a meeting. I’ve been wanting to fix that damn spreadsheet for ages now, I’m glad I took the 10 minutes to add that tab.

Life is very weird. Shit is falling apart and we’re arguing the “right” way to express our displeasure while also making spreadsheet tabs and remembering to get the bins out.

So, time to go make the money to give to mutual aid and take a moment to tell my Senators to get their shit together (I already yelled at them for putting SCOTUS’ comfort over ours) and tell the DNC to get fucked if they ask for money again.

Hang in there.

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Well, it seems to be Monday again

And I don’t know about you, but somehow this weekend wasn’t at all restful and yet I didn’t really get jack done around the house either. It’s as if the constant fucking turmoil grinds you into dust or something.

I mean, it’s been 6 years of this shit – we had 45, then 45+Covid, then 1/6, then more Covid and Biden’s admin just dropping the ball repeatedly, and now this. I know anyone who isn’t white in this country has probably felt like this from the day they were born, and I don’t know how the fuck they manage it. And NONE of us should have to manage this.

The fact that five unelected people can strip the civil rights from over half the country – well, it’s completely fucked up and I know R’s see it as a feature, not a bug, but my god, what a fucking flaw in the system.

But we’re not supposed to protest this at their houses. I guess I’ll just contact SCOTUS’ Public Information Office? And don’t give me this “ewh, echoes of 1/6” bullshit – I don’t see anyone breaking into homes, assaulting police officers and trying to overthrow the government. I see a lot of folks milling about basically saying, “You suck.” Not the same. Weird how our First Amendment rights and theirs don’t seem to be the same.

And now I’m expected to just go to work and grind the gears for capitalism. And that’s another “feature” – if you have everyone in fear of losing their job because labor rights are pretty much non-existent, you can’t have a general strike or people out in the streets.

The silence at work is a lot like the start of the pandemic. It was unsettling and weird to just be expected to go on like everything was fine and it’s the same now. How can we in good conscience expect anyone who is pregnant, whether they know it or not, to go to Tennessee this fall? How can we guarantee they’ll be able to access lifesaving healthcare, god forbid they need it? We can’t, and we shouldn’t ask them to go. It’s not too late to move it or make it virtual again rather than force half the attendees and employees to stay home.

This is all bullshit.

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Please don’t make me rejoin society

I wasn’t great at it before the pandemic, and I ran errands yesterday and I am definitely not any better at it.

The liquor store either doesn’t have plastic bags anymore or they ran out, so I left with what looked like a whole ass carton of booze, when it was just 2 bottles and some little single serve margaritas. The Safeway self-checkout has been calibrated to assume everyone is stealing every damn thing and the gentleman who staffs the self-checkout clearly hates his job. (Giant, with the same software, just assumes we’re all capable of scanning barcodes and generally honest.) Staples did not have the one thing I was looking for and I was chided for attempting to leave the store the wrong way. (The entrance and exit doors are right next to each other, but they have dumped a bunch of crap in between them so you can’t just walk towards the entrance, take three steps to the right and use the exit door. Dumb, and possibly a fire hazard.)

The only saving grace of the day was picking up lunch at Anita’s and taking a solid nap with the LilyMonster. (Leftover carne adovada tacos and chorizo queso FTW today.)

But this morning, I went to my good “we don’t assume you’re stealing” grocery store, and the comic shop was doing a mini Comic-Con and they had a bunch of arcade games in the lobby and tons of cosplayers about and that definitely put a big dork smile on my face.

And there is a young man who does bake sales to raise money for mosquito nets for malaria prevention for communities in Africa and he was there today, so I got some excellent cookies and this weekend he breaks $100,000 raised! The kids are definitely alright – or at least this one. His Mom helps with sale days and she loves to tell everyone, “He does ALL the baking!” – and he’s an excellent baker – I see a potential job as a pastry chef in his future.

My weekly Economist arrived and the cover title is “How to Save the Supreme Court” – while I admire that someone out there thinks it can be saved, but from where I sit – short of 5 particular members keeling over in short order, we’re just fucked. Biden won’t expand the court to 13 to match the 13 federal appeals courts. The Senate won’t do shit. Impeachment of the justices isn’t going to work with regards to lying about Roe in confirmation hearings, they can all just say their views evolved since then.

Personally, I’ll be kinda sorta OK. I am white, past childbearing age, can pass as straight, have no intention of marrying again, and can even pass as Christian if need be. But I shouldn’t have to pass as anything, and there are so, SO many who will be hurt or killed by this path we’re on and I don’t know what to do. Scream at my reps? Vote harder? Wrap a cricket bat in barbed wire and start swinging? Turn my home into a healthcare hostel?

I still need to figure out how to ask my company what they’re doing to protect their employees. I’m thinking for starters we don’t have our conference in fucking Tennessee of all places. I doubt they’ll ask me to go this year, but if they do, that’s a hard no. I’ll admit, I don’t even know who to ask. I mean, I guess I could just email the CEO, but I’m also thinking our head of DEI might be an appropriate start? I mean his job is kind of looking out for everyone that isn’t a straight, white, Christian male, so I assume he’s certainly been paying attention to what’s happening and has some idea of what’s coming.

I know I can’t make them care about what happens to their employees outside of work, but they should, and they need to know someone has noticed the silence.

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