Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Not Too Bad

Well, I'm not as sore as I thought I would be today. That's got to be a good sign right? I can't wait for this weekend when I can do it all again!

We've learned that LL Bean is having a festival nearby and Ocean Kayak will be there. I'm hoping they have a Prowler that I can try. Don't get me wrong, I like my Sunshiney Hobie, but it's nice to try other things.

Back to the detention of work. One of the things about my job that I like is that management pretty much leaves me alone. I know what I have to do every day, and they leave me to it. Now, if only everyone else would too.

Next purchase: GPS!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Give me Ibuprofen or Give me Death!

I'll be saying that more tomorrow, I think!

Today, my dad joined us in his brand new Wilderness Pungo, and we were out for about 3 hours (or 9 miles, give or take). This time we went up Back Creek and around to Ego Alley and Spa Creek. Except for when we were in the mouth of the Severn River that opens onto the Bay, it was a nice leisurely pace all day.

I did get hit with a blinding migraine towards the end of our tour, so I'm going to have a nice restful evening and make it to bed early. You never really appreciate the joys of a really hot shower until your shoulders start screaming at you!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sunshiney Kayaking!

My friend and I paddled our Hobies (he's got the same kayak I have, only his is grey) all over Back Creek (Annapolis) today. We were out for about 2 hours, which is roughly 6 miles by the average kayak touring speed.

It was very calm and still as we got closer inland. (Back Creek is more like a small river than a creek.) We saw a huge swan and even a boat that used to sail in the Wednesday Races with me! The mouth of Back Creek opens where the Severn River joins the Bay, and it was pretty wavy. You can see the Bay Bridge from there, that was neat!

And instead of resting on Monday like I said I would, I'm going to do it all again! (Even as sore as I am right now!)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I Did It!!

I went out and bought my kayak! It's a Hobie Lanai, in yellow, and it was on sale! For the price I could have paid for the Ocean Kayak I was looking at, I got everything I needed. The kayak, the seat, the paddle, the PFD, everything!

While my friend was at work, my father and I did meet up with his wife. They took the Odessy (that's a Hobie tandem) out, and took a drink, and then took it out again. All while I was floating around in a sunshiney kayak of my very own!

I'm going back out with my friend tomorrow, good thing I'm off work on Monday so I can rest up! =D

Friday, May 27, 2005

We Like Holidays

Today, I get to go home at 1230. That's right, 700 to 1230 is all I have to work, and I'll get holiday time for the rest of my normal work day. This is something that my office does right, you see. The day before a paid holiday (granted you are full time), the office is only open for 5 hours. Three cheers for paid holidays!

I'm going to go home and take a nap! And watch the shows I recorded on Wednesday. And maybe play a little EverQuest. Oh, the possibilities.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thought I Found a Gem

While searching for things to use in an EverQuest signature, I came across something called Dragon Factory by 3DMenagerie. It's a 3D Dragon design application that works with Poser by Curious Labs. I use Poser, I like Dragons, this seemed like the greatest discovery. So I searched and searched for a website where I can purchase these dragons waiting to be created.

I found the website, I read through everything that it included, I got excited, thinking I didn't care how much it cost, I had to have it! I kept scrolling down the page until I found:

Dragon Factory is no longer available.


Now, I don't support piracy, but I do if it's something that you cannot otherwise find. But they don't call me the Queen of Dig around the office for nothing. If it's out there to be found, I will find it. I'll let you know =)

In the meantime, I think I might settle for a different kayak than the one I've been looking at. There was a store that will stop selling kayaks, so they want to get rid of on hand inventory. It's a Hobie Lanai, and my parents and I think it was on sale for less than $600. It doesn't have the dry stow space I'm looking for and it's yellow (not my favorite color) but it has the benefit of instant gratification! I fork over a few hundred bucks and I get to put the kayak in the water right away.

I think I'm resigned, if it's still there and still on sale, I'll get it this weekend. I can easily hand it over to my mother when I'm ready to buy the one I want (maybe when the manufacturer is not so backed-up!).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I Love Wednesdays

Almost as much as Fridays, at least during the summer months. That's because today is sailing day! As long as the rain stays away (and maybe if the temperature comes up a bit), it should be a very nice evening!

What happened to the middle of this blog?? I'll tell you! I posted something that felt good to release, and then decided that it didn't need to stay. So, out it comes!

Here's hoping for a great sail! (oh, and by the way, my friend liked my choice of kayak, it might take a month or so to get it, but I think I'm sold!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Reason

I'm actually going to get to the reason today! I need to let this go (time is helping, yes, but it's gotta come out!). It's actually become sort of a running gag between the few people I've told about it.

Ok, a brief recap. Remember how I work with another department and was told to take my research over theirs. Remember how I was told to send all problems to my supervisor. And remember when I said that two new hires were complaining about two of my coworkers and I. This is from one of those complainers.

I was sent an address update that included a suite number, and I called to confirm it. The person I spoke to said the suite number was not necessary. I noticed that the rep's (we'll just call the individual Jeri) original notes did not have a suite number. I updated the address sans suite number, in accordance with what I was told to do. Jeri insisted that the person they spoke to said it needed the suite number. I told Jeri my information said it didn't. Jeri repeated that it did. I forwarded the conversation to my supervisor and the response I got was, "I think you are being too sensitive. Please do not go back and forth with email messages with PI reps. If there is a problem, please send it to me and I will address it with the individual's supervisor."

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the very act of forwarding the e-mail to my supervisor me sending a problem to her? What good does it do if she's just going to tell me I'm too sensitive when there really was a problem? Did she speak to Jeri's supervisor? No. So why even send things to her if I'm going to be told them arguing with me is not a problem?

This is one of several similar situations as to why I have no confidence in my supervisor, why I'm not really happy in this office, why I don't like most of my co-workers, and why I refused the Senior Rep position they tried to offer me (they don't really believe that I can do it, you see, but that's really another story).

Monday, May 23, 2005

Bugs Bugs Bugs

I was going to start by saying "this is what really bugs me about work." Well, that's not exactly true, because a lot of things bug me about work. So who wants to know what bugged me today? (You're right, it seems like my original story has been given a back seat.)

When you have to drive 50 miles along some of the most congested roads in the country, rain is your enemy. It took at least ten minutes to travel a mere 3/4 of a mile. All because of the rain. No accidents, no disabled vehicles, just rain. Lots and lots of it. Of course, it didn't start until I was actually leaving the building. How's that for timing?

It proves to be rainy again tomorrow too. I hope it stays away, at least while I'm on the road. Happy commuting!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

An End to my Weekend

I finally got to look at that kayak today! The guy at the surf-shop said he normally doesn't stock the color that I want, but he'll let me know if they can get it in and when. Now, if my friend and kayak expert is back from New York (I think it should be this evening), I will be able to ask him about it. I've been looking at a Prowler 13 by Ocean Kayak, if you want to know. I think it's exactly what I want, as long as it handles well for a beginner, that is.

As you can tell, I've had a bit of a lazy weekend. Which is nice! I've been needing one of those. Actually, it was still pretty busy. My mother and I got lost trying to follow some bad directions to a place that we didn't know the name to see a friend play the violin. We didn't make it. Bad directions.

Three cheers for not-so-hectic weekends! I don't want to go to work tomorrow....

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Faerie Fun!

Went walking with my mother this morning, like we did last week. I hope we can keep this up, we only walk 30 minutes, which is about 2 miles, but it's better than nothing.

We then went to the Maryland Faerie Festival, which I had never been to or even knew about. It was a cute little faire and a nice way to spend the late morning. After taking my Aunt to the airport, we saw Star Wars (yes, again). My mother liked it, but it would have been better if those children behind us would have stopped talking, and that guy next to us would have stopped snoring.

I still have the same problems with it that I had on Thursday.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Nice Day Off

Let me tell you! Today, I did a whole lot of nothing!

It's really great to have a few days off of work when you don't have to worry about anything. Of course, it was raining buckets, so I couldn't really run any errands, but that's ok. I just started learning Belly Dancing, and it's a real great workout (I did a little yesterday when I woke up too.)

My mother and I went into Annapolis to get something and maybe look at a kayak I've been wanting. Tip of the week: Do not drive ANYWHERE in the rain during rush hour. It took us an hour for a drive that is usually 25 minutes. Bleh!

Maybe I'll have more to report tomorrow!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

25 Hours Straight

My friend Monty and I got our hands on 2 tickets for this morning's 12:01 am showing of the much awaited Star Wars Episode III. This meant that my day, that started at 4:00 am May 18th, didn't end until 5:00 am of the 19th. Twenty-five straight hours of being awake (including going to work, exercising, sailing, all the normal things I would do on Wednesday) all for this movie release.

The film, taken for what is was: one-sixth of a larger story, was fantastic. It featured epic battles, tense duels, the fear and pain of loss, and one gaping hole in continuity.

The costumes, and I'm really talking about gowns here because that's a point that Star Wars has famously done well, were wonderful. While the character of Padmé was not as prominent in this film, her maternity gowns were sweeping and feminine, flowing and delicate. She did have a very impractical nightgown (it featured off the shoulder strands of pearls as sleeves, not good for sleeping on) and wore quite a lot of dark colors, no doubt to try to hide her pregnancy.

The music, with the exception of the traditional opening and battle themes, left something to be desired for me. John Williams' usually stirring background strings seemed out of place through most of the non-action scenes.

While I'm not going to go into details scene by scene, I will elaborate on two of the pre-release rumors. *SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW!*

It was said that we would learn the event that caused Chewbacca's Life Debt to Han Solo. If that was in the film, I missed it. Chewbacca and the Wookies were briefly featured, but it seems that Han Solo is the only character of the original trilogy who gets not even a cameo in any of the prequels. There's still hope for the added scenes on the DVD.

For those of you who heard that Padmé dies, you heard right. This brings me back to the aforementioned gap in continuity. The Senator dies less than a minute after her twins are born (Luke is older by about 20 seconds). In ROTJ, Luke is asking Leia about her 'real mother.' If Leia, being seconds old, remembers her mother as "very beautiful, kind, but sad," why is it that Luke, who had more exposure to his mother, "has no memory" of her? It just isn't the same if Leia is remembering Bail Organa's wife.

All in all, it was wonderful. I think I liked it better than the other two prequel films (which is saying something, I liked Episode I a lot and Episode II barely). It did end rather quickly, as if Lucas thought 2 and a half hours was long enough for a film (though we all know it's not too much to expect an audience to sit through 3+ hours of movie: consider the Peter Jackson syndrome). One more thing; the power of the characters reflecting on their relationships with each other was lacking. I think this is largely due to the lack of chemistry in Episode II when these relationships were building, but that's another film.

Go see it, and then join me for the 6 movie marathon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Keeping Up

So far, I'm pretty good at getting a daily update. Don't look for that all the time, because we all know things come up, but I'll make an effort.

Up until a few minutes ago, all applications that OBC uses were offline. I hate when that happens, I've lost an hour of work because of it. Just in case you want to know, I am not the kind of person who likes to get paid for doing nothing.

Today I get to sit back and let my new back-up person run the show. She's very very hesitant, so my supervisor and I are not too confident right now. We'll see!

Because the weekend starts tomorrow for me, I'll get back to the real story on Monday. Do you have your Star Wars tickets, yet?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lesson of the Day

Work ranting aside: if your pre-paid cell phone minutes expire on Monday, don't wait until Tuesday to refill.

Now that we've established that, I hope everyone's Tuesday is headache-free.
I've been building you up to describe my situation accurately, but I'm going to digress for a day or two (because I'm training someone right now.)

Well, this is the problem. I am currently training someone so she can answer the PI requests on the days when I am not in the office (that's Thursday and Friday of this week!!). This is all fine, I like having a regular back-up person. The problem that I have is that there is no one in my office, who doesn't already do something important, who I would trust with this work. This individual that they've picked has a nasty habit of adding zero's to the font of account numbers to make them fit our system. Our system could be wrong, you see. If we say the account number must be ten digits, and the customer only provided a nine digit number, adding a zero to the front does not make it right! She has been spoken to about this, and still continues to do it. I think she's going to take a lot of shortcuts, and when you're talking about someone's bill getting paid, that's never good.

So, I'm busy training someone who I believe is not cut out for the job. It's not that I think she can't learn, but that she hasn't yet and it's not worth the risk. But, I'm just a peon, I have no say in the matter.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Back to the Grind

I tell you, nothing makes you more depressed about work than going to a job that does not make you happy like it used to. During the length of my active weekend, I forgot all about work. Then, 0400 Monday shows up, and I'm ready to hate my job again.

Ok, let's be fair, it's really not my job that I'm hating but the situation I'm in.

It wasn't until the company moved from 35 miles from my home to 50 miles from my home. Add to that daily 50 mile commute that it counts against me if I'm late (aka no leeway whatsoever), there is no option to telework, there is only one route I can take and it's filled with construction with no hope of public transportation, and I have to drive through one of the worst interchanges in one of the highest traffic volume areas in the country. There is saving grace that my father and I can ride in together and share driving duties, but that is not enough to keep me happy about being here.

After the move (which was early December, around the time we caught a stray kitten), the PI department took on a couple new hires. One of them I got along with great (I thought), the other had a habit of arguing with the results of my research when they contradicted hers (the inconsistency is that I'm asking different questions. She's asking about one payment, and I'm concerned with all customers who send payments there). I was told, when I took over these duties more than a year ago, to always go with my research above what they send me.

About a month ago, I get called into the office of my manager with two other MS employees and our supervisor. Apparently "four or five new employees in PI" were complaining about us. They (and I did confirm it was the aforementioned two new hires) went to their department manager and said that I told one of my coworkers about the mistakes they made (let's be honest, they make a lot), who told the other co-worker, who told the two newbies to be careful because they were being watched.
For the record, I never discuss the mistakes that anyone makes with anyone other than their supervisor or the person they dictate to handle such things, as I was instructed to do.

Now, my manager believed us when we said no such thing happened. She said she was sure it was a misunderstanding and left it at that. I am now supposed to send anything that I feel is a mistake to my supervisor, who will judge if it needs to be sent to them. That's not encouraging, but that's a story for another day. Yes, the two who were spreading the slander are still here. Which will bring me to the most recent problem.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

One Tired Kitty

I spent all day in a kayak! This is actually the second kayak demo day (where a bunch of manufacturers get together and let you try their kayaks for free) that I've been to and let me tell you, it is so fun!! Then I went with my friends as they bought a new one.

Now, I don't own a kayak yet, but I know the style, basic length, and available features that I want. I haven't seen any in the color I'm looking for (the design I want or otherwise) but, when you're going to spend $500+ on an item, it's ok to shop around for the exact one you want.

So, I'm going to be in the kayak market! If you haven't been out and a body of water is near you, I would definitely recommend it! It's a great sport, and really easy to get into where I live.

On a sadder note, my father and I noticed today a classified add for the sailboat we've crewed in for 10 years. The wonderful captain left this incarnation in February. It is a sad thing to think of that boat's fate. I would love to have it, but I'm no where near being able to afford it. =( But a kayak, that's in my financial scene!

So with kayaking today and two miles of jogging that I did yesterday (which I haven't done in ages!), I am one tired wittle puddy tat!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Busy Saturday

For the record, weekends will be different. Who wants to think about work on a weekend? =D

Last night, I saw The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was quite entertaining. When I was but 10 paces or so from my front door and the land of no-cell-phone-service, I got a call from a close friend telling me his wife was just in a car accident. In fact, I heard sirens in the background, which might have been the ambulance driving her away.

Apparently, she broadsided a vehicle filled with four stoned and drunk teenagers who were in the process of running a red light. The funner part? The driver left the scene. We call that a felony hit-and-run around here. The other three were arrested on the spot.

She is alright, though a little shaken and sore. She bought her car a year before airbags were standard. I must have offered 20 times or more to go meet them at the hospital, it's only 25 minutes away or so. They insisted it wasn't necessary, but I was told that it made her feel much better just to know I offered. Today, my mother and I surprised her with a huge basket of feel-better petunias.

We're all glad she's ok, but that's way more excitement than I need on a Friday night! There are lessons here. Don't drink, don't do drugs, don't do either while you're driving, and never ever leave the scene of an accident. Got it?

First thunderstorm of the season today! And I spent the morning jogging around a football field. Boy am I sore!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Happy 13 Friday

The real reason I wanted a blog was so that I could rant (as evidenced in the first post where I mention it twice). What do I have to rant about, you ask? Work. So, who doesn't have problems at work? I bet everyone has some grievance. I'm here for a safer outlet than complaining to a coworker (because we all know that's never a good thing).

Before I get started on the latest incident that pushed me into finding a place to write stuff down, how about a little background to start? Names have been changed (if they're used at all) to protect the innocent and allow us to point and laugh at the guilty.

I work for a Fortune 500 Online Banking Company (We'll call it OBC). OBC, and other companies like it, is a third party processor of online bill-pay for client banks and credit unions across the nation (we'll call them FI for Financial Institution, if it comes up). What this means to you is that if you use your bank's online banking service to pay your bills, the majority of banks use a third party like OBC to process your payments. We verify your information, print out the checks, and mail them to your payee (here, I'm going to call them merchants, even if you pay your mom). Most FI's don't identify their bill pay processor, so even if you are a customer of one of OBC's clients, you probably don't know it.

Now, about what I do. I have worked for OBC for very close to 2 years in the Merchant Services Department. fyi, my father has been with the company for 13 years, in the System Operations Department. I do keep in mind that all of my actions reflect on him one way or another. My department, now called MS, is responsible for making sure the address and account number you provide is the correct one to send your payment. For example, we can't make a Visa payment if you give us 4 digits of your account number (the reason for that is because the payments we send do not have your payment coupon, which has your whole account number printed on it). On the same note, because we don't have your payment coupon, most merchants have a different address to send unaccompanied checks. I, specifically, work closely with our Payment Inquiry Department (what happens to your payments if they get sent back due to an error) to resolve payment errors. Auditors don't like the people who control when the money is sent to also control where it goes, so PI does the research, I do the updating. I love this aspect of my job. I feel I've made leaps and bounds with the cooperation between the two departments.

Next time, I'll tell you about the problems!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

So it begins...

Now, here's an interesting place. This wonderful website is actually offering free webspace for me to rant, tell stories, rant, and basically just prattle off about everything and nothing?


Can you tell I'm excited about this? How about a little introduction?

My name is Airyn, it's a play on Erin, which is a variation of the old Gaelic word for Ireland. If you're in the USA like me, you will most often see this name in the phrase Erin go braugh, usually around the Feast Day of Saint Patrick. While there are many opinions about the English translation of this phrase, most people accept "Ireland Forever" as the most accurate translation.

Two weeks ago I was at the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival for the first time, and made a comment on the phrase (which was everywhere!) to one of the vendors. The gal then asked me if I knew what it meant. "Of course," said I and preceded to tell her. "It means 'luck of the Irish,'" she snapped. Me, being the diplomatic Libra that I am, offered a compromise by stating that there are many opinions about the translation. "It means 'luck of the Irish,'" she said again, more nasally and matter of fact than before. My friend and I took a breath and walked away. "It means 'I'm not going to spend any of my money at your store,'" we both said at the same time.

So, how much did you learn about me today? =)