Thursday, September 29

"Is Ted there?" or "Who owns Texas?"

Me:Good afternoon, [agency name], how may I help you?
Caller:Yes. Is Ted available?
Me:Ted? Hmm, we don't have anyone here by that name. Is there something I can help you with?
Caller:Maybe I have the wrong number. Is this [agency name]?
Me:Yes it is.
Caller:And you don't have a "Ted" there?
Me:You mean other than the Governor? No.
Caller:Isn't he your CEO?
Me:We don't have a CEO, we're a state agency.
Caller:So who is Ted Kulon ... Kulong ...
Me:Kulonogski? He is our governor.
Caller:Uhh ...

About that time I was sure I knew what was going on. I would like to state for the record that the folks at Dun & Bradstreet are astonishingly stupid. Mind-bogglingly so. So much so that one really has to wonder about the veracity of the reports they supposedly publish on the reliability of businesses.

So here's the scoop. A while back a federal government agency came to us wanting to use our services. Fine, we're happy to serve. But they couldn't pay us without a "DUNS" number from Dun & Bradstreet. Whatever - I guess we can do that. So one of my co-workers jumps through all the hoops and tries to apply for a DUNS number.


Many hours later, I overhear a phone conversation between my co-worker and D&B: (paraphrased for brevity - the call was painfully long and repetetive)

D&B:I need to get some information about your company. Who is your CEO?
Co-worker:We don't have a CEO, we're a government agency.
D&B:How can you not have a CEO?
Co-worker:We are a government agency. We don't have a CEO.
D&B:Well who runs your company?
Co-worker:The Legislature and the Governor, I suppose.
D&B:[clearly sounding confused] But who owns your company?
Co-worker:Nobody, we are a government agency.
D&B:But somebody has to own your company!
Co-worker:Well, I suppose you could say the taxpayers "own" our agency.
D&B:[sputtering] But who owns your company?
Co-worker:OK, let me try to explain this to you. Where are you?
D&B:Huh? Texas, why?
Co-worker:Who owns Texas?
D&B:... [silence] ...

The call went on for some time after that. I'm convinced now that they never did understand and just filled in the boxes like "CEO" with "Ted Kulongoski" even though most really did not apply. So now, several months later, our paperwork popped up because apparently we're not totally registered yet and they want to charge us for this DUNS number. She couldn't understand that, no I can't just make a $400 charge to a credit card for this little one-time fee. We don't have a "company" credit card to which we could charge it. She got stuck on, "how do you buy things?" I finally gave up and punted her to voice mail.


Monday, September 12

Quote seen online today

I'm donating food and some clothes for a infant. How would I know if it arrived there or not?As long as Jehovah know that i'm helping the needy that's all that matters.

Um. No.

The only thing that matters is that the people are getting the aid they need. Being concerned with whether or not anyone knows you did it is selfish and completely irrelevant.

Art from Tragedy

This person's work is amazing!

Racism: alive and thriving

If you think racism and the days of Jim Crow have been relegated to the history books, listen to this first-hand story from This American Life about the travails of a group of refugees on foot trying to get across a bridge and out of New Orleans. The story starts 21:00 into the program, skip ahead if you're tight for time but the whole show really is worth hearing.
"If you are poor and you are black you are not getting out of New Orleans. You are not coming to our territory."

Now try to tell me racism is not thriving in this nation.

Friday, September 9

Fun With Google

Go to Google.
Enter "Failure" in the search string.
Click on the "I'm feeling lucky" button to take you to the first match.

Bad government!

As a government IT worker, I am offended and angry that public employees are making such poor technology decisions - especially when it affects the real well-being of the citizens. Information Week (and many other sources) are carrying a story about how FEMA is blocking access to online disaster aid requests:
To file a claim online at FEMA's Individual Assistance Center, where citizens can apply for government help, the browser must be IE 6.0 or later with JavaScript enabled.

That cuts out everyone running Linux or the Mac operating systems, as well as Windows users running alternate browsers such as Firefox or Opera.

When TechWeb tested the site using Windows XP and Firefox 1.0.6, the message "In order to use this site, you must have JavaScript Enabled and Internet Explorer version 6. Download it from Microsoft or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to register" popped up on the screen.

Attempts to contact a FEMA representative were unsuccessful.

Hey, FEMA! Pull you head out of your nether regions ... even your own bosses at Homeland Security have said "Use a different web browser."

Security issues aside, I am disgusted that such a stupid policy decision is preventing profoundly needy people from applying for the very aid they need so desperately!

Tuesday, September 6

Mind-numbing pics

Google strikes again. Google Maps now has pre- and post-Katrina satellite photos up.

Levee break

Shipping containers tossed around like toy blocks

Superdome with damaged roof surrounded by water

If you click on the "Satellite" button it will show the old image. Click on the red "Katrina" button and it will toggle back to the new images. Chilling.

Feeling cynical

Maybe it's just me, but George II is more than callous and opportunistic enough to capitalize on the suffering of the suffering along the Gulf Coast by nominating Edith Brown Clement for Justice O'Connor's seat.

After all, how could any Senator vote against a woman from Louisiana right now?

Monday, September 5

Presto changeo!

Roberts as Chief Justice, eh?

Just what this poor nation needs: a young, extremist ideologue who is likely to sit at the head of the Supreme Court for the next thirty years. So we have another three decades of divisiveness and political polarization ahead of us.

How long before the signs start going up in the halls of power: "Moderates and Dogs Not Allowed."

Sunday, September 4

Overheard last night

A rather perecocious youngster saying, "Gimme some of that child abuse."

Hmm. Mental note. Add this phrase to things that one should never say. :-)

Friday, September 2

Photos from hell

Like so many people I know, I get most of my news from NPR & Morning Addiction on my alarm clock in the mornings. This week I've been feeling like I'm waking up and being run over by the same horrible truck every morning. Human nature being what it is, I can't stop laying there listening to a city descend into anarchy with that sick sense of fascination. Since I tend not to watch TV news and don't subscribe to a newspaper, up until now I've missed the visuals. Productivity-wise (and "I want to keep my job"-wise), that is probably a good thing since I am an intensely visually stimulated person (I can't be in a room with a TV on without looking at it, no matter what's on it) - once I get started I simply can't stop compulsively looking. This morning, I stumbled. I read about a blog being posted by the staff in a data center in New Orleans. Blog. Words. Safe for myself to look at. So I looked. Uh oh. Link to pictures. Can't stop myself. Click.

This picture of a man after being stuck in the Superdome for five days really spoke to me. The thumbnail doesn't do it justice. Click on it to see the full rez version and I think you'll see what I mean.

OK, guilty obsession temporarily satisfied. Now go help him and his fellow New Orleaneans (and Mississippians and Alabamans and ....) here. Contribute. Volunteer. Anything, as long as it's something.