January 24, 2018

…and so that’s how it’s all going to appear to end up. The bigwigs have moved on to the “next big crisis” and making other people’s lives miserable, and my team is left having to support a solution that will take months to plug all the holes in it. I suppose that’s just the way the business world works, but being one who has never had to swim with the sharks at that level, it astounds me that anyone would be willing to do that kind of work on a daily basis.

I’ve had the flu this week – and maybe that’s a good thing, for it’s forced me to take some time off – but I can feel the tension leaving my jaw muscles and allowing me to talk near normally again. I’ve been doing some internet searches on PTSD symptoms and speech is one of the motor areas typically involved. What’s kind of scary is that you never get 100% of the way back, but I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.

It’s just kind of demeaning to be faced with the reality that you can’t handle everything, that when the going gets really tough you discover that (for all intents and purposes) your body folds like a cheap bridge table. I know there’s some kind of an inner defense mechanism involved because it’s almost as if life before December 4th never existed – it’s almost as if my psyche doesn’t want to relive the stretch of weeks that followed. When I was at the PGA TOUR Superstore the other day I actually had to force myself into the bay to hit 7-irons since the last time I had touched a club was when I was in Vegas just prior to being yanked down to Pensacola and “The-Client-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless”. Clearly something has changed inside me as a result of those weeks of nonstop stress. I’m still trying to sort it all out, and maybe it’s just something that requires the healing that time and distance brings.

Enough about this stuff. Hopefully with the next post it will be back to your regular scheduled programming.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:25 | Comment (1)
January 20, 2018

Hard to say whether things at work are starting to retreat from the Will Riker “Red Alert!” status of the past seven weeks or not. I equate the current state of things to a California 5K acre brushfire that has been 95% contained but can reignite into an inferno at any moment. Have we got a handle on things at the Client-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless? No. And there are still landmines galore planted all across the battlefield? God yes. Enough for the next three months.

Still, at some point there is only so much that can be done. While this is the absolute worst I’ve ever been involved with by a long-shot, it’s not my first rodeo in the healthcare IT arena. At some point, the client and the vendor have to decide whether all the work that’s been done to date is worth it. I’ve been on both sides of the fence in similar circumstances and I’ve told the vendor to pull their crap out. I’ve also been on the other side where we and the client decided there was no going back so you keep pounding away at what’s been implemented and try to make the best of it.

I think the jury is still out on this.

But what I’ve found this past week is just how much I rely on music to keep me from getting too far in the weeds. The other day in the middle of a long work session I put on my “Tropical Breezes” music collection and the first song that came up was Bob Marley’s “Exodus”. And it made me laugh – here I was, deep in Babylon, and seeking my own exodus. It made me feel good.

The next song was Jimmy Buffett’s “Banana Wind”, a whimsical instrumental where Jimmy intones at the start, “Meetcha at the end, meetcha at the end.” As in, like, get through this and we’ll all meet together at the end. And while I was still there slogging away at my work session, I could feel my stress level begin to drop.

The next song was Kenny Chesney’s “Flora-Bama”, and it made me think of the other side of life – one very different from the one I was living – but also knowing that the Flora-Bama and the “Redneck Riviera” is just a short drive away from “The-Client-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless” where I was immersed in stress and misery just seven weeks ago.

It’s amazing just how much of a healing force music can be.

Today I hit the PGA TOUR Superstore to spend my Christmas gift certificates given to me by Tracey. Bought a couple of boxes of Wilson 50 orange balls, a box of Callaway Supersofts, a couple pairs of gloves and another bucket hat in case the one I have falls apart. The Cobra bay was empty, and there were a bunch of left-handed 7-irins of all kinds in a golf bag nearby, so picked out five different brands and just hit 7-irons in the bay for 20 minutes. Felt good. I was pretty rusty but my weight transfer was good from the start.

To quote that superb late-era Pink Floyd tune, I can feel myself coming back to life.

Of course, it could all change and go to seed at a moment’s notice, but I choose not to think about that right now.

I should add that I’m still employed, but my relationship with my company and my immediate boss will never be the same. Folks can disagree with one another about “stuff” and I’m fine with that. But I won’t be disrespected in front of others – especially my peers – and that’s something I can neither forgive nor forget. There’s a part of me that actually wishes I had gotten my walking papers, forcing my hand and enabling my next career with Visiting Angels or something similar. But money is the universal language, and it’s worth another few years at what I’m making to put up with what I hope is just this bump in the road. But you reach a sort of rubicon where once the cord of loyalty is broken, your perspective changes. Mine has.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:01 | Comments (0)
January 15, 2018

…about work, that is. Time for just a normal Great White Shank post.

I hate Skype. Spent an hour on Sunday morning trying to get it to work so I could Skype with our old friend and frequent commenter Jana. First Skype wouldn’t recognize my account password. Then it wanted to merge my account with my Microsoft account (I pay monthly for Office). I wasn’t crazy about that but said OK. Then it wouldn’t recognize my “merged” account password. Then after I merged it again it said it couldn’t launch. I uninstalled it from my machine and will just give you a call, Jana, on my dumb phone some night.

I remember when I was down in Pensacola last month one of the executive VPs of the company mentioned my dumb phone. I responded, “smart guy, dumb phone.” He didn’t smile. Oh well.

This is why I’m glad I’m living in Arizona. I don’t miss it.

But this is a great link. And there are restaurants from my Massachusetts days that I do miss. Check, Augustine’s in Saugus was one of them. Good Italian food. They had someone playing Italian favorites on the organ while you ate. Check, The European in the North End. The pizzas were huge and very good. I remember they also served the chianti slightly chilled. And boy, do I miss The Winery on Boston’s Lewis Wharf. Great Bloody Marys and a location on the water to die for. It was my “go to spot” when I wanted to impress chicks on a first date. Took my Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy”‘s now-main squeeze there when we briefly dated a gazillion years ago. (Who says “Goodgirls” don’t get around?) Oh…and of course, Mel and Murray’s Delicatessen and their “Harvey’s Special”s (black pastrami / onion/ Swiss grilled until charred and then placed on a bulkie roll with a slice of tomato). I still make ‘em every once in a while, but they’re never as good. And of course Jimmy’s on the Mall at the Burlington Mall. The best Steak Teriyaki in the world with a knock-out rice pilaf to boot. So good I used to refer to it as going to church. I wasn’t as crazy about Luigi’s in Bedford as Dad and my dear mom were, but they sure gave you a ton of food. And, of course, The Hilltop in Saugus goes without saying: “27, 279, 63, 314 for Sioux City, 19, 205, 134 for Carson City!” Those were the days!

News you can use, I guess…

If the Democrats want to choose the DACA “kids” (to use their term, the reality is altogether different) as the hill to plant their flag on and shut down the government, I say let them. These clowns are insane.

I miss Dennis Wilson and his music so much. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins does this (at the time) unreleased gem more than credit. Sure he was a drunk, sex addict, a general all-around hellraiser, and, ultimately, a disruptive force in the Beach Boys, but while Brian Wilson was the band’s creative muse, Dennis Wilson was its soul. And when he died the band went with him.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:43 | Comments (4)
January 14, 2018

Forced myself today to actually do something that didn’t involve work. Sure, my boss was expecting some documentation that I’d hadn’t had a chance to get to for the better part of three weeks but I hadn’t taken a look at the pool for the better part of six weeks so I spent a half-hour just skimming the bottom and sweeping the sides in the fresh air and it felt good. Got a nice text from my Goodboys pal Killer yesterday that helped raise the spirits as well.

I got the documentation piece out of the way and set the table for the stuff that has to get done by our India team while the rest of the company is off tomorrow. I won’t take the day off – there’s way too much stuff on my plate to ignore – but there’s only so much anyone can reasonably do at this point. Like I said in my last post, Tuesday or Wednesday could get very interesting, but that’s all going to take place (I think) above my pay grade. Although, after the last few weeks it’s hardto distinguish pay grades any more. I figure a week from today I’ll know a lot more about my future but I refuse to worry about it. At this point in my life you just have to deal with everything as it comes.

Our annual touch-base with our Edelman Financial guy went really well: we’ve made a lot of progress over the past year, and that’s for sure. Were we in the situation we were in last year at this time I’d be really worried about my job, but we did a good job socking savings away and getting all our investments where they need to be.

This is a big week all around: by uts end we’ll have a better idea of where my job stands, where Tracey’s recovering shoulder stands – at this point it’s not near where it needs to be in order for her to return to work – and we’ll find out where things associated with “The-Client-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless” stands. It’s gonna be interesting!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:10 | Comments (0)
January 13, 2018

So yesterday I get a phone call while I’m on my, like, sixth web ex meeting in five hours. I didn’t recognize the area code so I punched the button to reject the call. Nothing unusual there, happens all the time.

I’m on the web ex and see an e-mail come across. It’s from the CEO of our company. Not an area VP. Not an executive VP. Not even a senior VP. [Heck, I've talked with each of those roles multiple times over the past few weeks. It used to freak me out, now I just take them as if some fellow lowly PM living in some sh*thole (thanks President Trump! :-) ) were calling me.]

This was an e-mail from CEO asking me to “follow up on his voice mail”. Like, the CEO. The top banana. The head honcho. The top dog. The big fella. Numero uno. And it’s not an e-mail to all employees with his tribute to Martin Luther King day or about our Q4 earnings. It’s an e-mail to me. Like, personally.

I waited until my web ex was over and gave him a call back.

He seemed pretty personable, said something to the effect that “you guys” (I’m thinking he wwas referring to the part of the services organization I work under, but who knows?) “…usually” (I picked up on that right away) “…do a great job with our clients…” and then began to pepper me with questions about what was going on down in Florida at “The-Client_Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless”. What could I say? I’m just a dumb project manager who six weeks ago few people in the company knew or even cared about. Now I’m on a call with the CEO.

Keep in mind here my company isn’t some crackerjack store down the block – we have 7,500 hundred employees worldwide. And while (I think) he’s kind of a hands-on kind of CEO used to rubbing elbows with major hospital and healthcare network CEOs and lobbyists in Washington, somehow, at around 1 PM EST I found myself on his call list.

I told him my version of what was happening down in Florida, no more no less. He didn’t ask me for my feelings about things, and I didn’t tell him anything beyond that. He asked me why the myriad of issues we’ve been working weren’t uncovered eight months ago. I didn’t have a good answer for him, but theen again it’s not my nature to throw other people under the bus. He didn’t seem very happy with what I told him, but he did thank me for the info. And then he was gone.

I can’t begin to tell y’all how this last six weeks have changed my life. I used to like my job and was damned good at it (if I say so myself). I always thought each day was the perverbial box of chocolates Forrest Gump talked about. Sure, you’d always run up against some tricky and dicey issues, but my nature was always to run towards the guns, not away from them. It’s what I always felt I did best – work the problems, resolve the conflicts, smooth over the disagreements. Troubleshoot, resolve, move on to the next thing. Repeat and rinse.

Now it’s all different, as if six weeks ago I took a new job with different bosses and different players. All people I can’t relate to. People who could care less about me (and vice-versa). People who want this nightmare to go away so they can get back to the jobs they’re used to doing, just like I do. People far above my job level. My boss wants nothing to do with me. His boss is calling me every day, and his boss as well. It’s taken a toll. I don’t know who I am any more. I don’t feel like hitting balls. I could care less about sweeping or backwashing the pool. The only thing I care about is sleeping, even though I know that when I awake there will be at 50+ e-mails asking when this will be fixed or that will be fixed, and when. I sit on the back patio with a glass of Pinot Grigio and my brain is trying to figure out ways of working this or that problem out. The India guys on the team are freaking out because they never in their wildest imaginations ever thought they’d have to work this hard, and their peers who have never had to work as hard as they have in their lives can’t believe what they’re going through. One of my guys has given his notice; there’s little doubt the rest of them are thinking about it. They all ask me when all this will end. I don’t have an answer for them.

We’ve got a bunch of layoffs coming next Friday (so my boss tells me), and I’m just about at the point where I really don’t care anymore if I’m one of them. I thought last week was the week when the whole thing would come crashing down, but now I think it’s going to be next week. Not sure if it’s going to be Tuesday or Wednesday, but it’s going to be bloody. How bloody? So bloody that one of the so-called “dickheads” called me yesterday asking for my help – the same guy that only days before was sticking a knife in my back.

I remember the last “normal” day in my life. It was Saturday, December 2, and I was driving up to Las Vegas to meet my Goodboys friend “Doggy Duval” for a few days of Vegas R & R. The day was warm, the sky kind of cloudy in a early December-ish kind of way. I had the windows open and early Pink Floyd on the CD player. And I remember thinking in a way that was so clear to me at the time, “just enjoy this, it may not happen again.”

But I can’t remember what that felt like.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:57 | Comments (0)
January 11, 2018

I’m still alive and, as hard to believe as it seems, work keeps on keeping on at the same pace it has been for over a month now. Were I our client I would have pulled everything out, sent everyone packing, and sued my company’s asses off for millions of dollars. But that hasn’t happened yet. It’s starting to feel something akin to a siege by an invading army: we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing until either you surrender or we’re all dead.

There are good days and bad days. Two days ago I thought from the tone of my boss and the client that I was about to get sacked. That may still be true, but today everything seemed 180 degrees the other way. I’ll know for sure next week when a bunch of folks deemed non-productive are about to get laid off. They don’t know it yet, and maybe I’m one of them, but I can’t worry about that now. And at my age you have to take whatever happens as just another juncture in the river of life.

See, here’s the thing: it’s a case of “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, sheame on me.” My company attempted this very same kind of solution in a different incarnation developed by a whole different development group and failed three years ago, and after five years – five years! – of development. Just like we’re doing, they couldn’t make it work from the start because no one anticipated the scope of the effort involved and never tested the solution in a real-time simulation before going live. They bashed at it for months before everyone gave up. And that’s where we are now – the people that have been slogging away at this for the better part of 14 months know what’s going on, but management sends in these dickheads who were never there to start asking questions that were asked and debated, like, nine months ago and think they’re so friggin’ smart by doing so. I’ve had nearly three decades of healthcare IT experience; yet I have to listen to this dickhead who reports directly to the CEO showing me and our team up in front of a client in order to make the client think he’s so friggin’ intelligent that no one in the world could come up with ideas like he can.

If this were twenty years ago (maybe even ten), I’d tell the dickhead to go f**k himself, but, frankly, it’s not worth it. Sure, this engagement has been rough on my health and people will say, ‘dude, it’s not worth it’, but I’m making too much money at my age and too close to retirement (relatively speaking) to allow myself to be thrown by the horse and some horse’s ass. I get to work from my house, don’t have to commute or dress like a professional, and make good money doing so. Sure, I could tell everyone to go f**k themselves – and maybe there will come a time when I do so – but right now it’s like watching a car accident happen in slow motion – on one hand you’re horrified, on the other you’re intrigued at the propect of just being able to witness it so close. And I can’t help but wonder how this is going to all turn out.

Besides, what am I going to do retired? Hit balls? Play a couple of rounds of golf a week? Volunteer at the bunny sanctuary? I can do that, but even were I to drop dead tomorrow it’s not as if I’d feel I’d been cheated out of everything. It’s not like I have grandkids to impart my own form of personality and wisdom. So, like Warren Zevon once sang, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

At least the slurring of my words is pretty much gone. The amount of stress I was under until this week was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and I’m guessing the subconscious clenching of the jaw was the root cause. Lots of talk these days about ‘root causes’ by the dickheads. This week? It’s more of, ‘yeah, what happened happened and we’ll be digging out of this hole for mnonths but what else can you do?’ Even my boss seems resigned to the fact that our team was just put into a position where we were understaffed and over our collective heads, and when the s**t hit the fan it wasn’t because of anything malicious or incompetent on our part – we were just overwhelmed and made mistakes that ended up compunding themselves.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve come up for air but will likely be disappearing for a few days. Next week promises to be particularly ghoulish – to this point, the client has been struggling to just get our solution up and running and acceptable; they have no clue the amount of bad data they’ll be dealing with that was given them (through no fault of my team’s) around the Christmas holiday. And when you have a client, two vendors, and three consulting groups pointing fingers at each other you know it’s going to be ugly. At the very least it ought to be interesting: if I see a meeting request from my boss come over next Thursday or Friday I’ll know the jig is up and that will be the end of things.

Either way, I’ll figure out a way to survive. At least I’d have more time for blogging from an unemployed perspective. Maybe then I’d have some time to check more songs out by The Wild Reeds. I love this one as well as their unique take on this Beach Boys classic.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:21 | Comments (0)
January 6, 2018

It’s been over a year since Donald Trump was elected president, and nearly a year since he was sworn into office. If you follow the mainstream media, or Hollywood, or CNN, or MSNBC, or any number of the usual culprits in the newspaper industry (you know who they are), you’d think Trump was rounding up every black, latino, gay, lesbian, and progressive and shipping them off to concentration camps. Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Have they gone insane? If you look at these items, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!”.

Cumming: Important to portray gay character in time of Trump. Powerline blog’s John Hinderaker is right: what has Trump done to offend gay rights advocates? Last I checked, nothing.

Oregon Dem Blumenauer Becomes First to Announce ‘State of the Union’ Boycott. Not sure what kind of “divisive dialog” this quack is referring to, but a lib’s gotta do what a lib’s gotta do, I guess.

I’ve had the misfortunate of watching Katie Nolan’s ESPN show while stuck at an airport bar. She’s a no-talent ditz. And this does nothing to change my opinion.

Joe Scarborough and his morning bimbo are at the top of the list.

…because, in only Mika’s world can you “literally” sexually harass someone by posting a tweet on Twitter. I don’t think Mika is smart enough to know exactly what the word ‘literally’ means. Reminds me of that line from “The Princess Bride”.

I saw this on some website: Trump’s tweets to liberals are the equivalent of a laser point to a cat. The cat goes crazy thinking it’s something it can catch but it never does.

Look, I can understand these morons being upset that St. Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected president in order to complete their desired transformation of the USA into the socialist republic envisioned by Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Valerie Jarrett. But for Gods’s sake, that was more than fourteen months ago – get over it. Talk about people needing to get a life! My question to all you libs out there: Is this how you want to live your lives? In abject misery, conflating everything that President Trump has done into creating some kind of a Trump gulag of the mind where people disappear and are never heard from again?

This is so removed from reality that I can’t even imagine why these people are even given a mouthpiece beyond their own padded walls. But that’s what social media has done: make people think that both they and their opinion somehow matter.

These people are nuts, pure and simple.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 20:19 | Comments (0)
January 5, 2018

Work is just unbelievable, it just keeps on keeping on. Lemme tell ya, anyone you have a standing call with the executive VP of client services and the VP of software development every day at 10 AM EST because your client is leeching revenue on a daily basis you know you’re getting waaaaay too much visibility. The pressure is crushing, I’m not sleeping to good, and when I do I’m dreaming of work.

And to think, I’m just a stupid low-end Project Manager for a tiny technical team on the outskirts of my company’s professional services organization. Until early December no one had ever heard of me. Now even our CEO knows my name on a first-name basis. Never a good thing, that. Sooner or later I figure something’s got to give, and I think next week’s the week. And it may not be good.

Not sure whether it’s because of the pressure or lack of sleep or whether I’ve had a minor stroke, but I feel as if I’ve been slurring my s’s (don’t ask me to say the software vendor “Healthstream”) and Tracey thinks I need to make an appointment with my primary care doc for a physical.

That’s what a month of stress will do to you.

But I’ve been trying to find time for music, and this is a sample of what I’ve been listening to:

The Guess Who were such a tight combo, especially when they had the late and great Kurt Winter on lead. Without a doubt one of my all-time favorite guitarists. And I’ll take Burton Cummings’ body of work over someone like his contemporary Jim Morrison’s any day.

…although Jim did have his moments.

A bit of a naughty tune unreleased by The Beach Boys. Take a guess at what the background vocals are singing.

Kenny Chesney on the “Redneck Riviera”.

Jimmy Buffett doin’ the same.

Bob Marley’s “Rat Race” seems pertinent to my situation.

As does this great tune by George Harrison.

It’s the music that in the end saves you from yourself.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:42 | Comments (0)
January 1, 2018

The one great thing about New Year’s Day is that you really feel as if you’re starting off with a clean slate. The gym is going to be more crowded, but after six weeks or so most of the “newbies” will disappear leaving all of us regulars with the way things were prior to their arrival. It’s so predictable.

Anyways, a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018 to all from all the Goodboys and from Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:58 | Comments (2)

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