Thursday, August 30, 2007

Email Theater

Welcome to Email Theater, where we follow a story by reprinting emails exchanged between yours truly and my wife's Aunt Kathy. Kathy's two fondest wishes are that she return to Erie, PA (from upstate NY) and that her Niece and family move from Fayetteville, NC to Erie, PA.

Kathy (a/k/a "Aunt KK") has just returned from a trip to the Holy Land (i.e., Erie, PA) and our host has asked her if she had been house hunting during her visit.

Let's listen in, shall we?

Me: Have you made an offer on that house in Erie, yet?

KK: How can I make an offer on the Erie house when you won't come live in it! I would if I could, but with no one living near me there, my bone problems won't allow me to be far from loved ones.

Me: Oh, the guilt! Honestly, I'm so fed up, I'd love to have Michelle get a full-time XRAY job in Erie and then I could deliver pizzas. (Signed, KRAIG)

KK: Anyway, if you want to deliver pizzas in Erie, you can use my van. TALK and communicate with your wife as to what your wishes are! I think what we have here is a failure to communicate! Now go out and eat 52 hard-boiled eggs, and spell your name correctly the next time! C, not K.
Oh, I communicated my pizza-deliveryman fantasises to Michelle.

Turns out she had a pizza-deliveryman fantasy of her own, but it was quite different from mine.

I blush, even now, to think of it.


52 eggs? Who am I supposed to be? Cool Hand Luke!?!?!?

KK: Cr-eggman, I mean, Luke, I do amuse me so! If you were closer, you could teach me more about the computer, which I would love to learn, and Michelle can find her pizza man! All would be right with the world!
Thus concludes today's episode of Email Theater.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Report From The Homefront

1. The heavenly scent of a home-cooked meal greeted my nostrils when I came home from work last night. Michelle had a chicken in the oven and had also baked up a pan of cornbread.

"Thanks for making dinner, Hon," I said as we dug in. "It smells great!"

"I dunno, " Michelle replied a few beats later. "My chicken tastes... funny."

"Really?" I said with my mouth full.

I hadn't noticed, but now that she had mentioned it, there was a pretty rank taste that the initial baked chicken smell had helped to mask.

"Gah," she further stated, "I can't finish this."

I went a couple more bites into mine and then, too, gave up the fight.

What was the problem? Could it have been frozen, thawed and then re-frozen? Was it a bad bird? Had it been embalmed with too many chemicals?

Who knows? We agreed that we would forsake the Mart of Wal meat aisle and make a trip to an actual butcher shop for our next bird.
2. Looks like AAMCO is going to fix our van's transmission this week.

In reviewing my recent foray into USED CAR LAND, we decided that getting the ol' van fixed was our best bet, after all.

We chose AAMCO because it is a national chain and with the warranty, we hope that any further transmission repairs could be done just about anywhere we might get stranded.

At least, that's the theory. You've all seen how my well-intentioned car plans have been working out...

3. Blogger just ate the rest of this post and I don't feel like retyping it. With any luck, I'll be able to check in during the upcoming Labor Day weekend, though. Catch you all later!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ready For Download

Lately, I have been neglecting my precious Budget Bin LP fixation. Well, that's going to come to a screeching halt here and now!

If you click on the link below the album cover, you'll be able to download a zip file containing all the tracks as well as the artwork for the CD case insert.

There you go, cheesemeisters! FIVE compilations full of Beatles covers! I feel strangely refreshed...


Thursday, August 23, 2007


Enough with the middle-aged navel-gazing, already! When I was going through that old VHS tape the other day, I snagged an episode of an obscure Eisenhower-era syndicated kiddie show called "Diver Dan."

The geniuses who produced this show came up with an amazing idea. "We could do a show about a deep-sea diver, the kids'll love it! And to simulate the characters being underwater, we can film the whole thing through a tropical aquarium!"

Which is just what they did! Pretty effective for being a no-budget kiddie show.

Here comes our hero, Diver Dan, fighting his way through the papier-mache coral reefs on the ocean's floor.

Oh, did I mention the marionette talking fish? Here are Sturgeon The Surgeon and Finnley talking to the beauteous Minerva Mermaid!

With the glasses, mustache and puffy eyes, I imagine this is what I would look like if was a fish!

Owing to the fish-tale mermaid outfit, Minerva was basically doomed to just sit on an undersea rock and chat with the puppets. There was no budget to suspend her from wires and make it look like she could swim, I suppose. Still, I ain't complaining! R-r-r-r-owr-r-r!

Diver Dan hatches a plot with Finnley.

The soundtracks were pre-recorded like a radio show and the "actors" mouthed the lines! Allan Swift did all the male voices, e.g. Diver Dan and the fish. The guy behind the mask must've thought he was getting a big break by starring in his own TV show! (It's heart-breaking, when you think about it.)

Yay! Here are the villains! That's Baron Barracuda on the left, with his henchman, Trigger Fish on the right. The Baron spoke using a bargain-basement Lugosi impression. Trigger was pure, "Duh, OK, Boss!"

Here's a close-up of Trigger. Yep, he kept a cigarette perpetually dangling from his chops. Sweet!

Every exchange between the Baron and Trigger ended the same way:

Trigger: Duh, OK, Boss!

Baron: Trigger!!! I've told you to call me "Baron", Mullethead!

Trigger: Duh, OK, Baron Mullethead!

Well, that's enough TV cultism for now. Anybody else remember weird shows like this from their childhood?
HERE is a link to a nifty webpage all about our hero. WOOT - Diver Dan is da bomb!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Who Am I?

During a recent telephone conversation, my brother, Scott, asked something along the lines of, "Why don't you post about the time you..." and then proceeded to remind me of an incident where my other-worldly psychoses came into play.

"But, Scott," I replied. "I'm trying to come off as a fairly 'normal' guy who sits back and chuckles with wry amusement at the wacky foibles we all come across in life."

"Normal" guy...

Growing up, for some reason, a lot of adults seemed to think I was "that nice boy" their kids would play with. Teachers would "ooh" and "aah" over my art projects and such.

Something that I've noticed is that I have received some very positive comments from my fellow blog-crawlers describing me as "sweet", "kind", "smart", and the like. These sort of comments, of course, are always appreciated, and I thank you.

But you know, this sort of thing, if left unchecked, can really create problems.

You can begin to believe your own press.

Hubris happens.

A person's thought process can become so self-justifying that no rationale for poor behavior is too ludicrous.

"It's OK for me to make fun of your speech impediment because I got an A+ on my spelling test and I'm so special!" for instance. (A little girl next door to us had a very bad Elmer Fudd problem and it would drive me nuts. Irrationally, I thought she was calling me "KWAIG" to be nasty. What a mean-spirited dope Master Craig was.)

On the Internet, it is really easy to go overboard. If someone posts something on a blog or message board that rubs you the wrong way, you can end up with a five-alarm flame war on your hands if you respond prior to counting to ten. It's happened to me and I've seen it happen to others.

So who am I?

I have to wonder.

I've said and done some truly reprehensible things in my life, this I know. I am really that "nice guy" that some people think I am or am I that smart-mouth bastard that other folks have experienced.

I guess I'm both.

How about you?

Note: The illustration is swiped from

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Having Vented...

Gang: Thanks to everyone who took the time to follow (and comment on) my multi-part saga on the joys of working with true professionals! In the interest of discretion, I'm "wishing them into the cornfield" for now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

1982 & 1984

Here's an old Polaroid self-portrait I snapped in a mall photo booth circa 1982. There was a brief "nerd chic" movement, so my top-most button is done up!

My apologies to any of my female blog-readers who have suddenly gone numb from the waist on down. This is the effect looking at this person used to have on that segment of the population. Maybe the expiration date has passed by now? Even so, the person pictured no longer exists...
My band, Mystic Eyes, played a couple of live sets on WBNY's "Down At Lulu's" radio show. The whole shebang was videotaped by BCMK Studio's head honcho, Tommy Calandra, but was never really used for anything. Band leader Bernie Kugel asked me to pull out my 23 year-old VHS tape of it and transfer it to DVD, for inclusion in an upcoming 25th anniversary WBNY program. Here are some screen captures from the video, sports fans!

Here is the ultra-amazing video-feedback BCMK credit. (Notice the arm reaching in to adjust the monitor!)
Here is my Buddy, Bernie Kugel, being interviewed by host, Cal Zone.

That's (left-to-right) Me, Bernie and David Meinzer vocalizing on our version of The Kinks' "Where Have All The Good Times Gone?"

And, lastly here is me and drummer Stu Shappiro. Notice the wholly inappropriate synth drums! At least he used a real snare and real cymbals! Just out of frame is my Vox "Super Beatle" amplifier.

David and Stu dropped out of the band some time after this and were replaced by my brother, Scott, on real drums and Eric Lubstorf on 6 & 12 string guitar.

Where, indeed, have all the good times gone?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Professionalism - Part 6

Tuesday, August 7th, 7:30 AM.

So now it's twenty-four hours later. I had rewritten the [Pewter] quotes using the onerous, unadulterated spreadsheet after which everything was triple-checked and then forwarded to [Pewter's] purchasing manager.

Yeah, it sure would've been easier to have done it right the first, or even second, time.

Shortly after 7:00 AM I ventured into the front office. Normally, it is vacant until the "real" business hours start at 8:30, but lo and behold, Ms Anne Thropic is at her desk!

"Great!" I thought. "We can talk one-on-one without a big audience!"

I opened with, "Say, Anne, can we talk?"

"Sure," she answered.

"Listen, I can't help but notice you haven't been talking to me for the past month or so. It's created some real bad situations and I'd like to know what the problem is," I said.

"Well, you've been very negative lately," HRH replied.

"How so?" I asked. "What do you think the root cause is?"

"Well," she answered, "I just think you've been very depressed lately."

"Good call," I said. Could it be she has some sort of empathy for my situation around here?

"Yeah. Well, you're just going have to leave that stuff at home," she shot back. "Don't bring it around here."

I shoulda known better! Now, I had about a bazillion damning things I wanted to throw back at her, but, honestly, I wanted to hear her out. And, besides, she seemed to be working from a script.

"Look, we have to work together if we're going to service our customers. They don't care whether or not the company's employees are feuding with one another," I reasoned. "I've noticed you've been hiding behind e-mails and running to other people instead of coming to me to initiate these quotes."

"Craig, I have always been your biggest booster. I think you're very smart and I was so glad when you came to work here," she said.

WTF? Are she and the VEEP working from identical cue cards? And why, exactly do I need her "boosting" me? I think my year-and-a half of managing the quality system and running the validation program should speak for itself. Yeah, what a friggin' booster... running to my bosses and talking trash about my "negativity!" (Oh, and by the way, I never did get a single example of this oft-mentioned "negativity!")

But I wasn't looking for a he-said, she-said session. I just wanted to if not clear the air, get it somewhat clearer.

"Well, then, let's try going back to working as a team on these things, OK?" I suggested. "Because the other way hasn't been working."

I left her cubicle with the feeling that at least a truce had been reached. Indeed, the rest of the day we were back to her writing up and submitting quote requests and my completing them. Jeez, the things you have to do to just achieve the status quo, sometimes.

Now, this is where my story was going to end. But...

Company's Coming!

Something I hadn't mentioned in all this mess, is that four purchasing agents from [Pewter] were going to stop by the plant on Wednesday, the day after my little heart-to-heart with "Annie."

I really hadn't been giving it much thought because it was only to be an "informal" stopover late in the afternoon and not a full-blown Quality Systems audit.

Of course, these people are from a potential client that we have been wooing for six years, so the VP called a plant-wide meeting and told everybody that since we had important visitors coming the next day, everybody must be well-dressed, on their best behavior and make sure their respective areas were spotless.

I checked with Annie to see if there had been any deal-breaking, negative repercussions from having to re-submit the corrected quotes. She indicated that for all our internal sturm-und-drang it was really no big deal to [Pewter]. Whew!

Wednesday, August 8th, Zero Hour Approaches...

Note: This is a generic picture of some other office and none
of the people pictured figured into this story in any way!

Comes the big day, the four purchasing reps show up about two hours before the end of the shift. The VP, Sales Rep and Plant Manager spent most of the time showing the guests around and explaining about our operations.

I got a call to grab an example of one of the equipment validations I had run to show any interested parties.

That interested party turned out to be [Joe Legume], the purchasing manager who had sent the unwieldy spreadsheet and had subsequently spotted the incorrect quantities on the first set of quote.

"Gulp!" to coin a phrase.

Anne, Joe and I paged through a typical completed validation study. This Joe fellow was well-informed on the whole procedure and even asked some very insightful engineering-type questions. I was impressed! As it turned out, the whole group was well-informed about all aspects associated with the production of our sort of product. My bosses were also impressed by this.

Having finished my dog-n-pony show, I stood around as the four [Pewter] folks made their good-byes and left.

Thursday, August 16th, 5:00PM

We're now ten days past that whole Monday morning blow-up that earned me the most devastatingly negative reprimand of my career. [Annie] has been on the road all week, but the quotes have, for the most part, been flowing smoothly.

On this particular day, there had been much activity between the VP and the Plant Manager. I was being called into the office to supply completed quotes for review and offer memory-joggers about details for other quotes that had now become purchase orders. Nothing too unusual, but there seemed to be a lot of activity.

About 5:00 I had to get with the PM on yet another quote. He was sitting in his chair with that dazed, "what's next?" sort of look.

"Man, your eyes look like pin-wheels! I can see your temples throbbing from here," I joked.


"You know that big [Pewter] account?" he asked.

"You mean the one that nearly cost me my job?" I replied. "Yeah, it kind of rings a bell..."


Without going into too much detail, he had just gotten off the phone with Ms Thropic. She was so angry she was near tears, he told me. We were not going to get the [Pewter] account!

The reason for this startling development was that some "flippant remarks" were made to the purchasing reps during their visit that did not go down well with them. (They also had some other reservations that sounded pretty weak to me, e.g. our crack-whore infested neighborhood and our manufacturing flow.)


I floated out of his office as if I was peaking on a four-way hit of Ecstasy! Like Scrooge at the end of "A Christmas Carol," I was light as a feather, as giddy as a school boy! I may have gotten my ass chewed, but somebody else's idiotic remarks, made directly to the purchasing reps, killed the deal!

"Go bless us," said Tiny Tim. "God bless us, everyone!"

Th-th-th-that's All, Folks!


Professionalism - Part 5

Monday, August 6, 7:30 AM.

Who should come bursting into my supply closet-slash-office but HRH, Ms. Anne Thropic? And so danged early, too! She usually doesn't put in an appearance until 8:00 or, more usually, 8:30.

"I need to see those [Pewter] quotes again," she monotoned.

I pulled out my quote notebook and removed two thick, stapled-together sections; one for each of the two sizes. Attached, were the Final (approved) Quotes, printouts of the spreadsheets used to calculated the costs and pricing as well as my version of the 44 x 26 matrix the customer supplied.

As I handed these stacks to her she asked, "Does this have a copy of the spreadsheet they sent us?"

"Yes," I replied, unfolding it from the back of the stack. "Here it is."

Annie turned on her stiletto heel and zoomed out of my dungeon.

Hmmm... there are those bells again!

A few minutes later, I was walking by the PM's office and there he was with Princess Anne, poring over the [Pewter] quote package. The danger bells are now ringing at a deafening level!

"Uh, is there a question about the [Pewter] Quotes?" I asked while sticking my head in the door.

"Naw, it's OK," The PM replied. "We're just looking over the quantities they asked for."

"Uh, OK," I replied uneasily. "Let me know if I can help you with anything..."

"They said the quantities we quoted aren't what they asked for!" Anne announced in her best Faye Dunaway "no wire hangers" Joan Crawford impression.

Bounding out of her chair, she declared, "We gotta look at the original spreadsheet file they sent us!"

With me and the PM sucked along in her wake, we traipsed up to the front office. It was now about 8:00. Annie located her original e-mail attachment (the one I had printed out for the VP so very long ago) and opened it.

"LOOK! LOOK, THERE!" she screeched. "Their spreadsheet is calling out different quantities than the ones you gave me! YOU REVISED THE CUSTOMER'S SPREADSHEET! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!"

"I did no such thing!" I shot back. "I ran a data sort function to put their info into a usable format."

"SARA! I'M EMAILING YOU A FILE - I NEED YOU TO PRINT IT OUT FOR ME!" hollered HRH. "You revised the customer's spreadsheet! Do you know how bad this makes us look?!?!?"

"Listen, I did an Excel data sort! Let's not forget that both you and [PM] reviewed and approved these quotes," I hissed.

"You revised the customer's spreadsheet! I checked the quotes against your printouts!" she fumed.

If I had any patience for these sort of theatrics, they were now long gone.

"Look," I said. "If I've cost this company a major account because of my carelessness you can fire me now and I'll go on unemployment. I don't know what else to tell you."

I stomped out of the front office and went back to my hole on the plant floor.

What a grand and glorious start to the work week! Ulcers and it isn't even 8:30 yet.

(Did I mention it was my wedding anniversary? "Hi, Honey! Happy anniversary! I got fired today!")

Musings... Prelude to the Afternoon of a Pawn.

Back in my cubby hole two things were swirling through my skull:

1. How did doing a simple data sort screw up the item quantities? I've created and sorted any number of Excel spreadsheets in my time. Heck, I deal with them on an hourly basis. I opened up the original customer-generated spreadsheet file and attempted to do the data sort again. Lo, and behold, somehow the column with the quantity information is completely de-coupled from the rest of the sheet!

That is to say, Yeah I was able to sort each item by size, colors, etc. but, while the cells with this information behaved and formed nice, orderly rows, the columns with the quantity information stayed put! WHAT THE..? I've never had this happen before! How is this even possible? But there it was, in front of me.

OK, well, now at least I can show what had happened, even if I don't know why it happened. But this leads me to...

2. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH THIS CO-WORKER, ANYWAY? In reviewing the events of the past month, I finally noticed that she had stopped filling out "Request For Quote" forms, had stopped talking to me, started hiding behind cryptic email messages and had been running to my bosses any time she had a concern (legitimate or otherwise) about the quality of my work.

I can't figure this out. Was she really that pissed off that I suggested she print out her own e-mails? Did her ego take too big a bruising by my unwillingness to be her stooge? Is she afraid of me all of a sudden? What gives?

I don't know, but I was quickly becoming aware that a month-long smear campaign had been waged behind my back. To make matters worse, Anne and the VEEP have a more than seven year history going back to when HRH was the VEEP's aerobics instructor - I kid you not! Just imagine Patsy and Eddie from "Absolutely Fabulous" and you'll have a snapshot of these two.

Lunch break came and went, and right on cue, the VEEP showed up at my desk.

"Craig, can we see you for a moment?" she said, her face a stern rictus of managerial doom.

Yep, I was read the riot act.

How can we trust your dependability, your very ethics, after this big of a bungle? Don't you know that the [Pewter] account is one we've been trying to land for six years? If this wasn't bad enough, you made a flippant remark about getting fired so you could collect unemployment! Well, what do you have to say for yourself?

Here is what I had to say for myself:

"Look. I am mortified that I made such a mistake. I went right back to my computer and re-did the data sort function and was able to replicate the same error. I've run this function hundreds of times before and have never had this kind of a problem."

"But I will tell you this. This error wasn't a result of laziness or carelessness. I was trying to find a better way of managing the data that was provided me. The original spreadsheet printout was unreadable. Ironically, I was trying to mistake-proof the information and make it more user-friendly."

"Now, in my defense, these quotes were supposedly reviewed and approved by two different people. I have to tell you that I don't have a warm, fuzzy feeling that Annie even looked at any of the information the customer was requesting. She had me print it out and give it to you, only to have you give it back to me."

"She did not write up any 'Request For Quotes' per our standard operating procedure and, in fact, she hasn't even been talking to me for the past month! She's been doing an end-run around me and the process by going through you and [The PM]. She even refused to review the final versions I printed out. What's up with that?"

The VEEP's eyes kind of shifted around and she drew a breath.

"Anne says you've been very negative to work with lately. She's always been your biggest booster, but lately you've had a bad attitude," she replied.

The PM sat there, totally silent. He knew which side his bread was buttered on. Wise move on his part.

"In Anne's line of business," the VEEP continued, "she cannot tolerate negativity or 'road blocks' of any kind in getting her job done."

"Well," I responded, "if you want to talk 'road blocks' I would suggest that not communicating with your co-workers and refusing to follow the proper quoting procedures are a couple of pretty big 'road blocks.' I don't see how this is a sign that I have an attitude problem."

"Now," I continued, "I've been in management before and have had to sit on your side of the table on matters like this. I appreciate what a difficult task it is to have to initiate and conduct these sort of sessions, so you have my empathy."

"Oh, Craig," the VEEP said, brightening. "We were all so glad when you came on board here! Truly, God sent you to us and we all love you! I am confident we can move past this matter and get back on track."

"I'll say, this!" I spluttered. "In all my years, I've never had an employer say that they loved me before..."

I was given a copy of the ass-reaming "reprimand" memo and went back about my business.

I decided my next order of business would be to arrange for an audience with Her Majesty, Princess Anne...

LATE BREAKING NEWS!!! This whole saga has suddenly come to a climax/conclusion that I would have never foreseen in a million years! I am so tempted to spoil the ending, but this is a tale that must be told in its entirety. Watch this space, folks!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Professionalism - Part 4

I don't mean to get all Quenton Tarantino on you folks, but I have to get this narrative moving along. So there may be a few flash-backs and flash-forwards ahead. Or behind? Whatever...

On Monday, July 9th, I received one of those "I need you to print out this attachment for me" e-mails from Ms. Thropic.

This was in tandem with the phone ringing. "I've sent you an email attachment I need you print out for me," my co-worker's voice crackled out of the handset.

I dutifully tried to open the attachment, but no go. I got the error message that there was no application associated with the ".docx" file she had sent.

I relayed this info back to her and went to see the plant manager about some other stuff.

A few minutes later, there's Annie banging on the manager's window with an antic expression on her face. Why, she waving that beloved pin drive of her's and she's pointing at me!

"Looks like I'm wanted," I said as I excused myself.

"Here!" she shrilled. "I've put that file on my pin drive! Let's see if you can print it out now!"

"Look," I said while sticking the drive into my USB port. "It's not that I didn't receive your file. It's that I can't print it out. See? The computer doesn't recognize the '.docx' suffix."

"Oh yeah!" she countered. "This is an Office 2007 file! You'll have to download a patch so you can open it!"

At this point, my patience had just about run out.

"Hey, I've got an idea!" I rasped. "How about instead of me downloading a patch so I can open your e-mail attachments, why don't you get hooked up to the company's network printer so you can do it yourself? Heck, you just got yet another new laptop! How about buying a printer for it?"

With a startled expression on her face, Princess Anne headed back to the front office.

Obviously, "we were not amused!"

And thus is the stage set for the 2007 Passive-Aggressive Olympics.

Flash forward to Thursday, July 19th, 3:32pm.

Another email shows up from the desk of Ms. Anne Thropic:

[Pewter] quote request:

Craig please print the attached files (spreadsheet and pdf’s) and give to [the VP]. Also print this email as a cover sheet (info for [the VP]).

Thanks, [Anne]
Yeah, there's only 6 pdfs and one honkin' big spreadsheet to print out. I sent them all to the network printer (why waste my ink cartridge?) that happens to be right next to Her Highness' cubicle.

Spotting my chrome dome above the partitions Annie says, "Didja get my email?"

"Yeah," I replied. "I'm printing it right now. Say, did you ever talk to [the IT guy] about getting your laptop hooked up to the network printer so I wouldn't have to print out your emails for you?"

"He wouldn't have to touch my computer to do it, would he?" she gasped.

"Well, I don't think he can do it telepathically," I replied.

"Well, then I'm not gonna do it!" she snapped back. "OK, see that [the VP] gets those! I'm outta here!!!!!!!" And with a burst of speed that would do the Road Runner proud, she was gone.

The VP happened to be out of the office for the remainder of that day, and since I don't work on Fridays, I deposited the print outs in her "IN" basket and shuffled off.
July 23, Monday morning. I got a call from the VEEP.

"Anne's on the phone and she wants to know if you've started on that [Pewter] quote." (I should mention, here, that Ms. Thropic was on a two-day Mississippi Riverboat gambling cruise and was checking in via cell phone.)

"Is that the stuff she asked me to print out and give to you?" I asked. "She didn't say a word to me about working up any quotes." And, indeed, she hadn't.

The pile ended up back on my desk with a post-it from the VEEP: "Craig/[Plant Manager]: Need this Monday!"

What "this" was, was a 44 row x 26 column spreadsheet matrix! Each of the 44 items had to be quoted. There was a seemingly random mixture of sizes, colors and other requirements for each item. The spreadsheet printout was useless, because it wasn't really formatted to be printed. Columns, rows and headers spilled out over a variety of pages.

OK, the first order of business is to go back to the spreadsheet file attachment and put these things into some kind of useful grouping. Using the excel data sort function, I sorted by size (there were two basic sizes), then by number of colors and so on. Then I hid redundant columns and played with the printout settings until I had two pages that would print out, in a legible fashion, on standard legal size paper.

I spent the rest of the week working with the plant manager to get pricing on tooling and raw materials. I ran the calculations to come up with pricing for the various quantities requested for each of the 44 items.

Then, after getting the PM's okay, I went to Microsoft Word and filled in the quote template 44 times, one for each item. I cut and pasted the calculated prices and other information to the template and printed the whole mess out for the Princess' royal review and approval.
Side note: Her majesty had found a couple of typos on my quotes recently. Instead of coming to me and asking that they be corrected, she ran to the VEEP and PM. This blew up in her face, as the VP said that, from now on, the reps would have to review and sign off on their own quotes before sending them out. I was far from insulted! In fact, such an approval step is wholly appropriate given that the reps' names were going on the documents. And, oh yeah, they were the ones reaping the commissions! The fact that she was running to intermediaries about the corrections only upped the volume on those warning bells I mentioned some time back.
July 30, Monday? (This part of the time-line is sketchy...)

Turns out I had made a mistake on the quotes I gave to Annie for review. Sure enough, she went running to the VP and PM.

The phone buzzed. It was the PM. "Hey, Craig. You got the wrong dimensions on a pile of these [Pewter] quotes. C'mon in and let's take a look at it."

Anne was exiting the office as I entered.

Sure enough, I had cut-and-pasted the same dimension on each of the 44 pages! There were two size groupings and I had failed to overwrite the quote template with the correct size for about two dozen pages. That's why we have the review process, I guess...

I showed the PM the quote sheets we had worked up to assure him that the prices had been calculated correctly and then went about correcting and re-printing the one group of quotes for Ms. Thropic's sign-off.

"Here are those corrected [Pewter] quotes for your review and sign-off," I said as I entered Anne's royal cubicle.

"Oh, I don't have time to mess with those now!" she huffed. "I have to go meet a client. I'll need those quotes approved today because I'm driving up to [Pewter] tomorrow morning. Give them to [the Plant Manager] for sign off!"

And again, she was off in a royal blur.

Well. So the PM is her "bitch" now, too? And, uh, the VP said it was the reps' responsibility to review and approve these things. Huh. I trudged back to the PM's office with Ms. Thropic's royal decree. He reviewed. He signed. I deposited the revised paperwork on HRH's desk.

"Whew," I thought to myself. "Well , at least that's over!"

Yeah, I know...


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Professionalism - Part 3

Well, aside from undertaking this whole "validation" project, the company was also in the final stages of getting their ISO9000 certification.

The person who was responsible for pulling it all together handed in her notice so that her last day on the payroll would also be the last day of the ISO audit. My hat is off to her! She must have battled overwhelming odds to get all the procedures, forms, training, paperwork, et cetera done. I can only imagine this figured in her decision to bail.

The VP and Plant Manager pulled me aside and offered me the "Quality Systems Manager" position, owing to my twenty year history in QA/QC supervision and management. I went for it.

Also around this time, the "Office Manager" ran afoul of the owners over getting some time off approved. One thing, apparently, led to another and on a Thursday morning, the VEEP announced that so-and-so is no longer with the company.

This figures in to my story in that so-and-so had previously been the person who worked up the price quotes for possible new products as well as doing the sales analysis of material that had been run.

Guess who inherited these tasks?

Let's review:
  • Quality Systems Manager.
  • Validation Project Engineer.
  • Sales Quote Writer.
  • Sales Analyst.
But at least I'm on the payroll, right?

Now, the thing about the whole field of Quality Control and Quality Assurance is, that while everyone else in the company can be pragmatic about how things are done, the Quality guy has to be dogmatic about it. If the process has been documented that it has to be done a certain way, well then, it has to be done that way. People taking shortcuts or just plain ignoring the documented procedures generally end up compromising the process and leaving a mess of Corrective Action responses in his (or her) wake...


Professionalism - Part 2

Now, to be fair to Ms. Thropic, or "Anne" as I'm sure her friends would call her if that, in fact, was her name...

I wouldn't have gotten the gig with this company if she was inclinded to buckle down and do stuff she doesn't particularly feel like doing. Somehow, a client wanted some major engineering muscle expended on "validating" the company's manufacturing machinery and they agreed to do it. Supposedly with Anne helming the project!

I've previously posted about how I came to work at this place, but the bottom line is that "Annie" doesn't do well when it comes to reading and understanding technical stuff.

As in "(Giggle) this is too complicated for someone as cute and princess-like as myself! And, besides, I'm too valuable an asset to this company to actually have to follow through on something I promised we'd do."

So they hired a very desperate guy who had run out of unemployment benefits to do this fairly massive project, i.e. Me!

Note: This is a small Mom-n-Pop operation and there is no depth to their "engineering resources" for such an undertaking. In fact, the folks around here made it clear that taking up any manufacturing time or material to run these validations was going to be an uphill battle.

I held a meeting with Annie and the production manager to try to schedule these studies and it was looked upon as a major inconvenience. The production manager was having people work (gasp!) overtime to get a big, big order out. He didn't need to be wasting time running engineering studies! Hold a training session with the staff to explain what the project is and how it will be implemented? Out of the question!

Annie? Her take on this "transition team meeting" was, "Are you done with me!?!? Cool Beans!!! I'm outta here!!! Ya ha ha ha ha!!!!"

Too much of a diva to actually participate in even the shrugging off of "her" project, I suppose. (Oh, and I got burdened with providing updates to the customer that was tracking that big, big order. Yep, it was something Ms. Thropic was supposed to be doing!)

Obviously, I'm having some "issues" trying to work with these people, here...


Monday, August 13, 2007

Professionalism - Part 1

I turned 49 last February. A co-worker of mine is turning 49 later this year. You'd think a pair of 49 year-olds could work together for a common goal in a professional manner.

Apparently, I was wrong about that.

My co-worker, whom I'll call Ms. Anne Thropic, because even if that isn't her actual name that's what she is, has a strange practice. Rather than get a printer for her computer, or hook up to the company's network laser printer, she insists on having other people print stuff out for her.

"I'm sending you an e-mail; I need you to print it out for me! Oh, and all the attachments, too!"

And what she can't e-mail, she will put on a pin drive, "for your convenience." And you'd better print it out now because she's a very busy person and her clients need to be serviced!

I noticed this weird behavior when I first started on as a temp. She had some big, big files to print out, so she pulled the old pin-drive maneuver. She ran over to a woman who was up to her neck in meeting some ISO Audit deadline requirements, and practically elbowed her in the face as she stuck the pin drive on the over-burdened co-worker's computer.

"I need a print out of these files!" She cackled in her "I'm rude and obnoxious, but aren't I cute" air-raid siren voice.

"Odd, " I thought, as distant warning bells started to chime...


Thursday, August 09, 2007

To Blog, Perchance to Meme

Well, my blog-buddy, Jeff, has hit me with an "Eight Random Things About Myself" meme. Seems like I did a similar one a few months back, courtesy of a tag from dorky dad, but what the heck! I'm flattered that he'd think enough of me and my blog to pass on the old monkey's paw.

Aside: I did a quick Internet search on "meme" and it turns out it's pronounced either as "meem" or "mem." Huh. I always thought it was like "Me! Me! Pick me!" Live 'n' learn, eh?

  1. I need new shoes. I usually have two pairs of "mall walkers" in my arsenal. A white pair for casual and a black pair for work. There's a certain kind of McGregors shoe that fits the bill and I've been able to find them at K-Mart. Bonus - Quite often they go on sale for $10 a pair! My one other pair of shoes are nice steel-toed oxford safety shoes. This pair needs a new set of laces.
  2. My sinuses have been acting up. It feels like someone has unloaded a caulking gun cartridge of LePages Library Paste into each nostril. The current heat wave (today's "Real Feel" Heat Index = 111 degrees F!) Isn't helping any.
  3. I drank the KOOL-AID and upgraded to Microsoft Office Standard 2007 this morning. Yep, It has rendered my Outlook Account null and void. Am awaiting tech help, so I can communicate with the rest of the company. Super yay!
  4. My Father-In-Law is 15 years older than I am. My Father is 30 years older than I am. I am 45 years older than my daughter. There seems to be a "rule of fifteen" at work here.
  5. In 1981, I quit my day-job and moved to Toronto, Ontario to work on a film production. It didn't pan out, and I ended up moving back home after 2-1/2 months.
  6. I met Frank Zappa. (This is for Jeff and anyone else who might have missed this last year. Summer Re-Run, don't ya know!)
  7. I have one older sister, a younger sister and a younger brother. None of us live in the same state.
  8. I don't chew gum. This is something that has always struck me as disgusting. Now, mind you, I have have many disgusting habits. But I've never left a thick wad of spitted-up bolus stuck to the bottom of a school desk so that the next person to sit there would brush up against it and ruin their pants. Gad, how I hate those little mouth-turds gum-chewers leave in their wake!

Now, Jeff, aren't you sorry you asked?

Stay cool, folks, and have a great weekend!
OH, and here's episode #2 of CARTOON DUMP!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Me = Milton

Gosh, folks! Sorry about all those cartoon-related posts. It's just, you know, when it rains, it pours sometimes.

I thought I was in compliance with my blogger Terms Of Service agreement, what with all those posts about my car woes, but it turns out I've been deficient in writing about one specific topic, i.e. "work!"

Well, just like my buddy Milton (pictured), my desk was moved recently and it was moved into the supply closet. I kid you not! The fact that I resemble Milton's older, less virile cousin coupled with my fairly accurate imitation of same kept visitors in stitches for weeks!

"I was told that I could listen to my radio programs at a reasonable volume. That's... that's my stapler."

Oh, and hey, folks, isn't it great when a co-worker uses your back as a handy storage unit for their many and varied knives?

Um, I just love post-it notes, don't you? Especially the "extra sticky" kind!

Er, ah, and what's the deal with "casual day?" Uh...

Oh, dammit! I can't do it! I can't bring myself to write about my workaday world. It's just too banal and, paradoxically, upsetting.

So, I'm in violation of my TOS! Go ahead, blogger and toss me off the Internet!

I... I... just... can't... do... it...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Huh, Huh. He Said, "WOODY!"

Oh no! Rampant, unchecked cartoon nerdism continues ovah heah!

Yup, I won a WOODY WOODPECKER & FRIENDS DVD set by answering a cartoon trivia question over at

Q: Who was the original voice of Woody Woodpecker? (HINT: he was also Bugs Bunny, Barney Rubble and Pepe LePew)


This and that POPEYE DVD set all in one week! HA HA HA HA H-A-A-A-A!

Monday, August 06, 2007


Do you know what you were doing nineteen years ago, today?

I know what I was doing; I was getting married!

And guess what?

I'm still married!

(As my friend, Bernie, frequently asks, "How does she stand it?")

I dunno, other than the law of inertia states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest.

To my wife, Michelle, I say, "Thanks for nearly two decades of martial bliss! Oh, and thanks for the daughter, too."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cartoon Dump!


There are a lot of down-cast folks out there in BLOGLAND!

You know who you are. My heart goes out to you all.

How about something that might just give you a little smile?

Here it is! The first episode of CARTOON DUMP! With "TV's FRANK" late of MST3K, even! With any luck, clicking on the embedded item, above, will play the episode.

Otherwise, pass me the "Little Boy Blues!"