Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Five-Star Options


To Know-It-Alls Who Want A New Lunch Option

While on the market for a new lunch option and asking personal questions of your coworkers such as "Where do you like to go to lunch?", it's best not to turn up your nose and respond to suggestions with "Oh, I don't eat there."

And while we're at it, you're welcome to put that look of disgust right back where it came from.

At best, that nonsense will earn you a spot in the ranks of picky eaters who're too good for a sammich.

At worst, you'll offend me with your stern down-the-nose snobbery.

If my culinary tastes are beneath you, you're welcome to say "Thank you for your suggestions." While I understand that my dining situation isn't Michelin rated, it works for me (and my budget, and my available lunch breaks). I made nothing but typical suggestions that I offer to other typical workers in our typical little city. Your pooh-poohery doesn't make you seem special: it makes you seem foolish.

While it's possible that I'll continue tossing suggestions at you like limp spaghetti at grandmama's wall, the thought of that continued effort in the face of your self-righteous scoffery wearies me.

What's more likely is that next time I'll just offer you some of my leftover, congealed Hamburger Helper(TM) and tell you to stuff it.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013


"When she agreed to have me join her team a couple years ago, I doubt my new boss realized she would be fielding questions about the best solutions for cleaning dog vomit out of carpets and the proper application of banana guns in the workplace. She puts up with a lot, and I'm grateful to have her."

This was the status I posted last evening on my favorite social media site.

I posted it because it's true.

Not only is this boss the first boss who's stuck with me for more than 18 months, she's the first boss who treats me like an equal and a friend. While having a relationship with one's boss outside of the typical office structure can make some individuals uncomfortable, I find it a refreshing change to being a pee-on and a nobody. My boss stands up for me, makes me feel important and valued and even takes time out of her busy schedule to care about me as a human instead of just an underling.

When Boyfriend of Amazingness's father passed away, my boss gave me bereavement and an open schedule to take as much time as I needed to make sure he was okay. She gave me a hug and told me to take special care.

When I was going through the house-buying process and we hit snag after snag, I started to feel distracted and frustrated and upset. She would call me into her office and ask about how it was going, and then offer words of encouragement or a hug. Not once did she berate me for my inattention to detail or the errors I made from not focusing.

She's full of funny stories about her pets and funny anecdotes to make me feel better about my own office nincompoopery because of some more nincompoopish individual who did something completely braindead.

And, in general, she's just a really sweet person.

Sure, there are people who disagree. If you cross my boss, you're in for a helping of wrath unparalleled by most in the mortal realm.

But if you treat her with basic decency, a portion of respect and general human compassion, she's a treat (and a hoot-and-a-half to boot).

Yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call from Boyfriend of Amazingness that the Young Master wasn't feeling well. He deposited the contents of his stomach onto our guest bedroom carpet. While Boyfriend of Amazingness picked up most of it, he's got a sympathetic tummy and the deeper cleaning was left to me.

Because this is my first dog for whom I am a primary owner, this was a new situation for me. Also because I'm a new homeowner, I've never been exposed to beige carpeting decorated with puppy hork before.

I needed help.

So I walked into my boss's office and said

"I have a question for you that has nothing to do with work."

Pushing away from her desk, my boss smiled and said "Okay, shoot. And, by the way - thank you for choosing me for these questions!"

Knowing her to be a lifelong-haver-of-pets, I laughed and opened with this:

"So... Have your cats ever thrown up on the carpet?"

She burst into a hearty laugh and said "Oh, many-many-many-many-many-many-many-many-many-many-many-many-MANY times!"

Being terribly

"I'm kind of glad to hear that... It seems that the Young Master is doing some redecorating for us. So now my question is... how do you get it up?!"

She laughed and filled me in on her best cleaning tips.**2

All that laudatory happiness aside, what I really wanted to share is the subsequent chain of chuckles that resulted from my original post:

"Engineer crap - dog vomit... just splittin' hairs."

"Nah, the vomit is easier to clean up!"

"Yes, it's hard to 'dab' an engineer and then SpotBot them..."

"But oh, wouldn't it be fun to try??"

"Well, they probably wouldn't know what was happening during the dabbing, but I bet we couldn't get them to sit still for the SpotBotting. And they would have to sit still."

"'Commence with the dabbing!' That's how this would go down."

And oh, my ReaderFriends, it would be glorious.**3

**1 I've been with one company for almost seven years. I've gone through five bosses in that time. That's a lot of bosses, and a lot of change. The only more frequently changing aspect of my work life is my cubicle, of which I am on number nine. Three of those happened within a span of 8 months. Talk about a dizzying situation - I was living out of boxes in my own office. What a mess.

**2 One of these is a SpotBot. Although I didn't need to resort to that, I was thrilled by the idea. You set it on the carpet and it does its cleaning dance, and then TA DA! It's like your carpet was never the recipient of partially-digested food stuffs. SpotBot is the anti-hork. All praises be unto it.

**3 Ever seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, where Caractacus goes to the circus and accidentally gives some guy a really horrid haircut? I imagine a SpotBotted EngineerFriend looks like that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Check the 'Tude, Dude

Puppy training.


Did you know that there are half a dozen different intonations of the word “NO,” and that each and every one of them can be ignored by a puppy who’s having his first encounter with a squirrel?

Well I do… now.

Intonation is The Whole Deal when training a puppy – or, in our case, a willful adolescent dog.

Say something with too much enthusiasm, and he regresses to Play Time.

Say something without enough enthusiasm, and he senses your weakness and escalates.

Say something too quietly, and it doesn’t even blip on his radar.

Say something too loudly, and he thinks you’re joining in the Noisemaking Fun.

photo credit to Allie of “Hyperbole and a Half,”
whose Simple Dog makes me feel as though I can do
anything with my willful pup

Really, everything that the Young Master encounters stimulates him in one direction or another… which can be frustrating for two puppy parents who haven’t had a dog in a number of years and are trying to get hold of the proverbial ropes without inflicting serious psychological harm upon their new housemate.

Remembering to keep a level head and a calm tone at all times – even when the dog just knocked the screen out of the window with his face because he was playing with the curtain to get at the noisemaking kiddos learning football across the street – is important. So important… but difficult.

Dealing with coworkers isn’t quite so different from dealing with willful canines – Intonation is, again, everything.

On occasion, I'll have the misfortune to encounter a snippy sort of soul who seems to delight in making the workday more negative for the rest of the general populus.

This week, I've spent almost all of my working hours on my very least favorite project - processing shipping invoices. Page after page of mis-noted, obtusely noted, or not-noted-at-all charges that I need to weed through, make sense of, and then forward along to a batch of those snippy sorts.

Which means I've spent all week bracing myself against unsavory e-mails and cranky phone calls.

To my moderate delight, they haven't been horrendous... But there have been a few.

As I consider my recent adventures in intonation, one leapt to mind as an opportunity for growth.

I had just coded a particularly hairy invoice and sent it along to no fewer than thirty managers for their timely review and approval. After fielding a couple of "I'm not sure this belongs to me?" e-mails from individuals who didn't read the message all the way to the bottom (Yes, dear, it's a $1,500.00 invoice. No, dear, the entire amount isn't going against your project. If you open the invoice, you'll see that there are lots of projects on there... only one is yours.), I felt as though I had gotten through the situation like a champ and was ready to move on to the next adventure.

Then the message dinged through.

"I need backup. What is being shipped against my project for over $800. This is ridiculus."

Instead of requesting information, this individual immediately went to an offensive, frustrated place.

My immediate response - notable at this point is my exhaustion from having a new houseguest who needs attention during the wee hours and from being on-guard for noises of mischief (or worried about mischeif I may be missing while out of the house) at all hours of the day - was to become defensive, and to fight frustration with frustration.

However, from some deep pit in my soul (probably where all the Christmas magic lives during the summer months), I pulled from a reserve of calm and crafted a response that informed without being patronizing, and stayed humorous without being airheaded.

It was a work of art.

And it was completely disregarded, and I ended up having to move the charges anyway because the Project Manager was a doody head.


I know I did my part.

Besides - I've got to keep practicing with stubborn folk.

Because someone else in my life isn't going to learn his manners on his own, either.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Freudian Slip

What I really want to post about today is the thrill of new mommy-dom.

But I'll resist, because Real Life doesn't revolve around my new baby (even though My Life currently does).**1

What I'll post about instead is the dangers of e-mail typos.

Now, with typical typos, it's obvious what the typer was intending. One keystroke to the left or right and suddenly you're typing in gibberish. But it's abundantly clear to the reader that the misplaced "N" should have been an "M," or the "E" should have been an "R," and the confusion clears up relatively quickly with a Reply and a "whoops!"

With atypical typos, you fall victim to a wandering mind and accidentally key in a word which you type more frequently than what you wish to type at that moment.

This happens most often to new initiates of the working world, as they recover from the blasphemy of Collegiate Grammar and need to remember to write "you" instead of "U" and "probably" instead of "probs" and all manner of other words that they abbreviated because typing just takes so very, very long.

It happens less frequently to alumni of the office, as they typically practice cognizance in their e-mail interactions... but everyone is human, and everyone slips sometimes, and as long as you aren't the perpetrator (and aren't easily offended), it's very (very, very) funny.

Unfortunately, though, there's more than just typing that can create a snafu in e-mail.

There's a tiny little nonchalant button that hangs out right next to "Reply."

Most of the time it's either ignored or completely abused.

It's called "Reply All."

You know the worst offenders: They'll plug your inbox full to bursting with little nothing messages directed to one person, but they want you to know that the conversation you were part of two days ago is still ongoing. You could e-mail to request that they not Reply All to you, but then you risk a phone call asking if you're up to date on where the conversation stands after six whole minutes have passed. You could ignore the message altogether, but then you might miss some actual important piece of information and then risk a phone call asking why you're falling behind on the conversation. Damned if you respond to it... damned if you ignore it... damned if you even think about your e-mail while it's in there. It's a hot mess.

But when a typo compounds with a Reply All, it creates a new breed of exciting catastrophe that only those who have experienced it will understand.

The instance I'm referring to went something like this:

"Hi, Sunny - would you please forward all of the finalized files to me for posting? I will need the templates that are part of the SOB. Thanks."

What she was referring to, of course, was a Standard Operating Procedure, typically abbreviated as "SOP."

But what she should have been typing was very different indeed.

Now, ReaderFriend, if you'll happen a glance down at your keyboard... the "P" key and the "B" key are quite far removed from one another.

Which means she fell victim to the second of the two conundrums: typing too quickly, and without enough brain.

What she typed instead was probably her typical response to her best friend as they discuss her dating shenanigans, or what she discusses with her sister when they commisserate their dead-end jobs.

"The SOB didn't even call me back the next morning."

"He didn't thank me for staying late to work on his project, the SOB."

"I paid for dinner, and the SOB just let me."

"I have to send an e-mail to the SOB at ACME about some procedure or another."

It could have been any of those that were crossing her mind as she typed.

It shouldn't have been there... but it was. And so it popped up and seamlessly flowed into the conversation.

In a Reply All message including two heads of her company.

Some days, you just have to sit back and laugh... because there's no helping them, and no one's angry at you, so you might as well enjoy the fun before the shit show starts.

(Which, of course, it did. The backtracking, the redirecting of the conversation, and the general shaming of the Silly Person Who Mis-Typed.)

Happy Hump Day, ReaderFriends!

**1 Someday I'll write the post about how it doesn't matter how many legs your new baby has: New mommies need their own mommies to help. I don't know how many time's I've made the "Hi, Mom, I can't talk long because he's about to [insert typical puppy behavior here], but I just have to ask you... is he supposed to __________?" It doesn't matter that he's got four legs and didn't come from my insides: He's my baby. He's her grandbaby. And we're both in this for his survival.

Monday, August 19, 2013

New and Exciting

Indeed, that is the name of the game today: "New and Exciting."

Because Boyfriend of Amazingness and I have embarked upon a New and Exciting Journey, wherein we welcomed a New and Exciting Houseguest to join our family.

No, we are not procreating...

No, we've not randomly welcomed a vagabond into our home and decided to keep him as a permanent fixture, between the lamp and the bookcase in the library...

No. Instead, we've welcomed a four-legged youngster to our home, and he's decided that it might be okay to stay.

After a whirlwind adoption process,**1 Friday marked the day that 44 pounds of fur, drool and snuggles took up residence on our living room couch.

And on the kitchen floor.

And on the bed.

And just about everywhere else in the house. (Well... everywhere except the craft room. Craft rooms are full of things that Young Masters would find shiny and delicious, and there's no need for yakked-up piles of crayon to become my new decorating scheme.)

So, over the past few days, everything has been an adventure.

No, seriously...


You're going to go pee? Let me come watch. I'll rest my head on your leg, and make sure you're okay in this weird little room on your weird little throne.

You're going to pour yourself a glass of lemonade? Let me stick my head in the refrigerator and make sure there's nothing out-of-the-ordinary. For good measure, I'll lick the bottle. Yeah... I think you'll be okay if you drink this.

You're going to sit on the couch? Why, I think that sounds fabulous. Let me just... oops, that was your face I just hit with my tail, and your squishy middle bit feels funny under my feet. So sorry, just trying to get to the optimized seating area between you and The Important One.**2 Won't take me but a moment more... here's a kiss for your troubles.

What will tomorrow bring?

Only he knows.

**1 When I say whirlwind, I mean that this makes Dorothy's tornado seem tame. We sent in an application and a lighthearted request for additional information on Tuesday, thinking that (at best) we might be able to schedule a short meet-and-greet over the weekend, if he hadn't alreay gone to a Forever Home. By noon Wednesday, the shelter called to inform us that we were approved and they wanted to know when we'd be retrieving the young master to bring him home. After a short session of flailing our arms and saying "But we haven't even met him yet!", we decided that Boyfriend of Amazingness would check out the situation on Friday morning, at his earliest convenience, and see if it might work out. By the time I arrived home from work on Friday afternoon, we were Proud Puppy Parents. Now that, my ReaderFriends, is a whirlwind.

**2 How I imagine the Young Master refers to Boyfriend of Amazingness. I am The Tolerable One. He is The Important One. It's a Man-And-Beast bonding thing. My lack of dangling bits in the middle means that I simply wouldn't understand.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Best Day

The after-vacation acclimation back into the real world has been particularly difficult for me this year.

After two blissful weeks away from home, work, technology and the cares of Real Life, I launched back into my regularly scheduled program last week by working an extra day’s worth of overtime, spending an entire day cleaning my home and generally just being Crazy Busy.

Getting all of this done is leaving me with a fabulous sense of accomplishment, but is also leaving me in a position of Rode Hard and Put Away Wet.**1

Vacation posture included:

• The naptime sprawl-across-the-bed

• The lounge-time sprawl-across-the-lawnchair

• The social time lean-against-the-bar

• Lots and lots (and lots, and lots) of walking

Work day posture includes:

• The morning sit-at-the-computer

• The noontime sit-at-the-computer

• The afternoon sit-at-the-computer

• The evening race-around-the-kitchen-to-make-dinner

• The post-evening crash-haphazardly-on-the-couch

These postures are very, very different.

Which means that my body is reacting very, very differently to the stresses imposed by The Real World.

While on vacation, I was the epitome of Zen. I was relaxed, I was chill, and I was Loose as a Goose.**2

While in the Real World, I’ve got some stress.

Mortgage payments need to be made.

Home needs to be cleaned.

Social gatherings need to be arranged.

Family time needs to be scheduled.

Work needs to be accomplished.

It’s all weighing heavily on my mind…

Which, in turn, leads to it weighing heavily on my shoulders.

And neck.

And the other little muscles that react when I’m not feeling totally on-par with the issues of real life.

(I told you that story, to tell you this story…)

Because I’m the luckiest girl in the history of the universe, I have an amazing Boyfriend who seeks to take care of me when I’m being pathetic and have Serious Ouch.

So, last evening, Boyfriend of Amazingness noted my compulsive hand-to-neck action. I was reaching up, grabbing tightly, sighing deeply and going back to business.

After deciding that I had been pathetic long enough, he offered to try to take care of the angry knots that were reducing me to a pile of whiny Sunny-Rubble.

It was as he was working on a particularly angry knot that had hindered the free-flow of oxygen through my lungs that my eyes rolled back in my head and I said “OH MY GOD. This is the best day of my life.”

This is all hearsay, I must admit – I wasn’t in complete control of my faculties, and plead guilty of a moderate case of Oral Diarrhea.

Nonetheless, he said he heard me say it.

Which led to a conversation this morning about what we really thought the best days of our life were.

Some of the contenders were obvious:

• The day we signed the papers for our house and it became ours

• The day we met

• The day we said “I Love You”

But as I drove in to work this morning, I realized that my “Honey, I think you know what my best days have been” comment was off base. Who am I to assume that he knows? That would be like assuming what the weather will be tomorrow without actually consulting any meteorological know-it-alls. One must put the information out there to assure understanding across the board.

So, brace yourselves, my ReaderFriends… we’re about to get sappy.



Dear You:

You are my best days. You are my happy place. And you are my sunshine.

I love you very much.

Do Do Doodle-oodle-ooh, da Do Do Do-Do Dooo Dooo,


**1 The origin of this phrase: horsemanship. Google it. But carefully, because it’s also got some Rated XXX connotations, which are not synonymous with my state of being.

**2 The origin of this phrase: goose poop. Google it, too. But again… carefully. This one isn’t totally PG either.

Monday, August 5, 2013



I've heard your resounding cry, ReaderFriend!

I assure you, I haven't been willy-nilly ignoring you:

I've been here:

For two glorious weeks, I indulged in a technological detox and much too much campfire smoke, many too many fabulously frosty beverages and altogether disgusting amounts of frivolity and fun.

The creative fodder upon which my mind feasted will keep me producing fresh, funky blog posts for you for weeks to come.

So now I ask: What did you do on your Summer Vacation?