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Monday, August 24, 2009

Crazy Driver Rant + Crazy Work Rant!

So, here I am, minding my own business, crawling along at 5 miles an hour on a completely choked up freeway, following this bitch of a driver when she decides that she does not like the fact that I am following her with just one car-length between my car and hers. Never mind the fact that walking would have been faster than driving at that point or the fact that everyone else is following along behind the car in front with a similar gap.

Anyways, she decides to "test" me by slamming on her brakes and stopping in the middle of the road! Obviously, I stopped well in time (my car was practically stopped for all intents and purposes before she decided to pull this stunt on me anyways!), then I decided I did not want to follow an obviously mentally imbalanced person, so I moved over to the next lane. As luck would have it, that lane was marginally faster than the previous one, so I am forced to go past this crazy imbecile of a driver, and, would you believe it, she decides to flip me off!

I am not the kind of person who prays, but if I did, it would probably have been a good time to pray that some inattentive, uninsured driver slams into her when she pulls one of her stupid sudden-stop tricks and cripples her for the rest of her long life! I did wish I was James Bond and had access to some secret and invisible contraption in my car that would rip two or all four of her tires to shreds with the press of a button! I probably still would get caught because I wouldn't be able to wipe the smile off my face when that happens!

I was heading into downtown in one car with my wife and kids while my brother-in-law drove my other car with his family in it. It was Friday afternoon, and I had warned everyone that this would be the traffic situation, but everyone decided it would be fun anyways. And these are the kinds of crazies I had to put up with as we made our way through the mess of traffic. We managed to make it to a beach at an average speed of about 25 miles per hour (we covered about 15 miles in 15 minutes and spent more than an hour and a quarter covering the remaining 20 or so miles!).

We spent an hour or so at the beach, then headed to a restaurant about an hour away. We got lost a few times because the streets we were seeing out the windshield did not correspond to what I was seeing on the maps! We did manage to stay in touch over our cell phones (what did people do in this kind of situation before cell phones became so ubiquitous?), and made it to the same place about 5 minutes apart. Unfortunately, I had to circle the block several times to try to find parking. Eventually, I gave up and parked about 3 blocks away and walked back. The food was decent, but not great. Traffic on the way back home was, thankfully, much better-behaved and we made it home without further incident.

Saturday was Wii day. My brother-in-law and I went to the library that morning and picked up a couple of Wii racing games (GT Pro and Cars). I have only regular Wiimotes, not a steering wheel attachment, so it was a little more difficult to play than if I had had the right equipment. But, I did get the hang of it after the first few tries. The GT Pro game has a bunch of different modes to play in, including one multi-player mode that allowed me to race against others in the house. I managed to beat everyone else pretty handily, but when I raced against other characters in the game, I did not do that well. I lost most of the races by a few seconds (10 or 15 seconds), and I realized that it was because I was taking a couple of turns too fast and crashing into walls and other obstacles, costing me a precious few seconds each time I did it. These seconds added up, leading to the final deficit of several seconds. When I reduced my crash propensity a little bit, I did manage to come in first in one race and 2nd and 3rd in a couple of other races.

My brother-in-law's son is only 5 years old but he is very interested in cars. He can identify many makes and models on the road by look! And obviously, he was very interested in playing this racing game. But he was not as good at driving as his interest in cars would suggest! It was a day of endless frustration for him as pretty much anyone else who played against him (including my 2 daughters) beat him quite easily while he was busy disentangling himself from fences, barriers, etc. And he had a tendency to get into head-on crashes with other racers because he would get his car turned around completely trying to maneuver around some corners!

Late on Saturday evening, I dropped my brother-in-law's family off at the airport (I did not need a van this time because my mother-in-law is staying with us for now, leaving only 4 people to transport to the airport). I am guest-free for the next week or so before we expect a couple more guests for a couple more days. This summer has been very busy for my household as we entertain guests week after week, almost without a rest in between. Now that school is about to start, I hope things will settle down to a more predictable and less-stressful routine! I was relieved to be able to go to work everyday just so that I could get a semblance of order back into my life, at least during that time!

Today, at work though, things just got crazier even though I was convinced that they couldn't get any crazier than they already were. I have talked about the politics surrounding this project I am working on before. As I mentioned, this person is dead-set on getting his way with this project and wants to sideline us throughout the process. We manage to squirrel in somehow or the other, but today we found out that there have been some on-site evaluation visits scheduled with the vendors for tomorrow and a week from tomorrow. We were not only not included in the visits, but we were not even told about them. We were at a different meeting and this information about vendor visits accidentally slipped out.

It was quickly justified that we were not included in the visits to "keep costs low". Obviously, that is a complete eyewash because our department has its own travel budget, and we manage it pretty well, no thanks to this obstructionist! My manager has now sent an email to our business users asking to be included in the vendor evaluation visits.

I came right out and told my manager that if the IT department wants to dissociate us from this system purchase that they seem to have made up their minds on, we should dissociate ourselves from the process publicly too. We should not be running behind them at every step and waiting to be out-maneuvered by this guy who obviously runs his own show by his own rules. My biggest concern is that once the vendor's system is deployed here, it will quickly become apparent that it does nothing that the vendor promised. It will be a costly boondoggle that our users will hate and deride. At that time, I don't want the tables turned on us with the accusation that since we were involved in the selection process, we were responsible for the fiasco. By dissociating from the process while there was still time, we can sit back and enjoy the show while at the same time we work on something else useful instead of spinning our wheels on this project.

Unfortunately, my manager is not fully convinced yet and wants to give the process some more time. His attitude has changed though. Previously he used to counsel me not to be a cynic when I pointed out the kinds of dirty politics that were being played behind our backs. He used to advise me to keep an open mind and give the IT department the benefit of the doubt. Now, he just smiles and doesn't bother responding when I point out such things. There is still hope! In the meantime, I feel as if I am stuck on a grid-locked freeway, following some crazy, senile a**hole who is just waiting for me to relax so that he can pull a fast one on me. Or am I in a racing game with my wheels locked into a turn going noisily round and round at high speed, while not making any progress towards the finish line? I just want to take an exit and find the scenic highway that meanders around without going anywhere fast! At least, the drive will be tolerable then.

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