Tuesday, November 29

That's just petty

This morning there was a flurry of e-mails zooming around the office. Apparently the state is now requiring employees to buy desk or wall calendars out of their own pocket.

You're kidding me, right? Nope. You want a calendar on your desk, you have to pay for it yourself.

I admit I was a bit annoyed when they told us we had to empty our own trash. I understand their reasoning - why pay custodial staff to do something that employees can do on their own - but it still doesn't make sense to me to pay an IT professional's salary to take out one's trash instead of using the time to do one's job. Whatever, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

This calendar thing crosses some line, though. It's a calendar for pete's sake! They cost all of what, two bucks? So Mr. Pointy-Haired State Manager, you're willing to take our tax dollars and spend them to pay me to drive an hour each way to attend a 45 minute meeting because you're too damn lazy to schedule it in a conference room with videoconferencing gear, but you're not willing to pony up a couple of bucks once a year for a fleeping calendar? You're willing to pay $13 million on a white elephant of a data center but you won't drop some pocket change on something that will help me make it to meetings on time? You do realize that the time spent by the agency staff e-mailing back and forth probably cost more than the damn calendars would have?

Huh. Decision-making like this is what makes me wonder why I'm still working for the government. What's next? Bring your own chair?

Saturday, November 19

HELP WANTED: Good Deed Doers who Fly Delta

All right all you bleeding hearts out there ... we have an urgent situation and we need your help.

We have a colleague and good friend in the PhD program here at the Portland State University Hatfield School who recently found out his visa status has been revoked effective immediately. The details at this point are unimportant - there was a simple paperwork error made by someone else - but at this time the only way to resolve it is for him to return to South America with his family and re-apply for his visa. They must depart the US by December 2.

We are on a campaign right now to collect as many Delta frequent flyer miles as possible. This needs to be done immediately because of the time it takes to book a flight. If you or someone you know has a mileage plan account with Delta, and would like to share your miles, it is simple to transfer them, though there is a cost involved. There is a transaction fee of $25, plus a penny per mile.

If you can help in this way, or know someone who can, please contact me immediately so I can get you the correct account information for a transfer.

Do you really want to help, but can't give miles? The Dean's office is collecting checks on the student's behalf to help pay for the many unexpected costs associated with this. Checks can be written to the PSU Foundation, and directed to:

College of Urban and Public Affairs, Dean's Office
Attention: Victoria Gilbert
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751 - UPA
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Checks must be received by Monday morning, November 28.

In addition, having an employer lined up will significantly increase the chances that his visa will be re-approved. So if any of you know of an organization that would be interested in sponsoring and employing a fourth year doctoral student in public administration and policy whose field area is Latin American economics, we want to hear from you!

If you cannot help with miles or money, hopeful thoughts and prayers would go a long way right now.

Thank you so much for helping out with this very important issue.

Thursday, November 17

On a roll today

A co-worker was saying this would be a timely cartoon and I feel compelled to share it:

A man comes upon another man wrestling with a tangled rope.

Man1: What'cha doin?
Man2: Tying a noose.
Man1: How come?
Man2: Someone's getting hanged.
Man1: Oh yeah? Who?
Man2: [shrugs]

The first man turns to another man who is watching.

Man2: Do you know who's gonna be hanged?
Man3: [points and Man1] He is.

(Image courtesy of Google Images and is merely as a visual aid .. I have no clue who this guy really is or why he is tying a noose.)

Yeah, that's about how we all feel. "Here, work on this project that will, at its successful completion, include you being laid off."

... and there's more!

This is completely typifies the attitude that pisses me off about this whole consolidation project.

One of the things that came up in the all-staff meeting today was that they were not going to be recruiting all of the positions in the data center at the same time - they're going to hire the network and security folks first, then the other groups like the mainframe and server people in some yet-undetermined order next. Several of us were all standing around talking after the meeting about the predicament that puts many of us in - do we go ahead and take a less-than-perfect network job to make sure we actually get one? Or hold out for a server job sight unseen, with no clue what they are since the position descriptions won't be available yet. No choice there, take the network job and then apply for the server job when it comes available. Not great, but I get to keep working. But that also means that I just screwed over the person that would have gotten the network job had I took - they're out of a job instead of filling the now-vacant-again position that I held for all of six or eight months while waiting to see what the server jobs turn out to be.

While we were talking, one of the admin communications folks walks up. I know her pretty well because she's who I work with quite often on managing the agency web pages. Very nice person. Doesn't make decisions herself but does have a LOT of control over what info the decision-makers do get. We explains the above situation to her and asks why they don't just release all the position descriptions to us all at once and as soon as possible so that we can make an informed decision when it comes time to apply. She nods sympathetically and makes a noncommittal response about having never thought about that and would mention it to the decision-makers.

So we get back to the office. One of the guys that was standing there calls me up. The communications had just called him. Apparently she ran into the data center manager and passed the info on. His response was brutally telling: He was completely astounded that any of us would care enough about our current and future co-workers to be concerned about screwing them out of a job. And then he went on to say, "thank you for your admirable concern but we're not going to consider changing how the positions are announced."

He was stunned that we care about our co-workers and peers? The thought never occurred to him? Gee ... could this be an indication of just how much he cares about us?

Overheard today

"I'm so motivated I could piss my pants." - Spoken by a State IT worker after yet another all-staff meeting about how we're all going to be laid off and have to apply for jobs that: 1) haven't been all approved by the Legislature, 2) Have not yet even had an org chart or position descriptions written yet, and 3) Hiring is happening "real soon now."

Yeah. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, November 15

Is it someting in the water?


"Good afternoon, [agency name], GrigorPDX speaking. How may I help you?"

"Yes, is Ted available?"

"Err, there's no Ted here. What are you calling regardng?"

"No Ted Ku ... Kulong ... Kulongoski?"

My god, people. Did you check your brain at the door? We get at least three of these calls a week!

Friday, November 11

Armistice Day <-> Veteran's Day

I find myself pondering the difference between the concept of "Armistice Day" and "Veteran's Day" and how the observance of a holiday on November 11th has changed in the past 97 years.

Armistice Day, as the commemoration of the end of the most horrific war the world had yet seen, was a celebration of peace and the end of warfare. Veteran's Day, on the other hand, is a celebration honoring the living veterans who risked their lives to serve their country in war. Two quite different concepts. Both eminently worthy of a national holiday, but I wonder if there was not some subtle shift in our national consciousness with the latter supplanting the former in 1954. Had the visceral revulsion against the then-new concept of war on a massive scale so prevalent in the years following World War I faded in the minds of the public? Had the development of the Cold War in the years following World War II shifted the public's attitude toward war on a global scale?

Veterans of all wars are worthy of far more than a mere day off that so many of us in the civilian world take for granted, but why deliberately overwrite a celebration of peace? Why not celebrate both separately? Neither is more or less worthy than the other. What prompted President Eisenhower and Congress change the holiday celebration November 11th? What purpose did it serve supplanting a celebration of peace with a celebration of soldiers?

No answers here today, just some admittedly-uninformed musing. Anyone out there with a stronger background in history care to enlighten me?