Journal for the week of 1/29/17

Illustration by Vidya Vasudevan,

0200 — In for an implementation. Why we have to do this at 0200 on Sundays is still beyond me but we’re at the mercy of a vendor that handles our financial backbone. The entire implementation window is from 0200–0600 and I’m hoping we’re not here the whole time. I can’t believe I actually got a couple hours of sleep but that means nothing if I can’t get back to sleep when this is done. A bridge line (fancy talk for conference call) is open during this time for communication and there’s going to be way too many people talking over each other. My part in all of this is just being a physical body on site. Then I realized I dialed into the wrong conference line…duh.

From the cubicle: It’s a ghost town here but all the lights in the building are on. Not sure if I feel creepy or should just enjoy the serenity. Feels like I’m in on a holiday or bad weather day.

0206 — The job I was waiting for failed. Not happy, group chat started to find out why.

0236 — Apparently a massive amount of jobs tried to install and ours failed because of it. Re-trying till it does. Now my computer is threatening to restart due to software updates. The coffee maker isn’t working. It either needs to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced. Not good.

0336 — I’ve been asked to confirm a timestamp for an install of a product from April 6, 2016 and had no idea how to do it. Nothing like looking like shit in front of others. This is all for a project in earlier journals that was given to my team in November to fix a schema issue for an appliance that works in tandem with a Visa product. No idea that it existed until November much less April. It’s a great opportunity to learn…trial by fire but it’s a good opportunity nonetheless.

0350 — Can’t get anyone to confirm the timestamp and we can’t get anyone on the phone that might know how. This is not good AT ALL!

0358 — We were able to wake up the contractor who helped us throughout the entire update. He’s on the bridge now and it took him about 10 seconds to confirm the datestamp. Now we have an issue with a cutover from our remote facility to HQ where the remote site isn’t seeing the updates. The thought is it’s pointing to a link at HQ that hasn’t been installed, however, it sounds like that’s not how it should be working.

0417 — Still checking to see if the WSDL is correct, we’re deploying what was originally staged to PROD.

0631 — The connection to Visa was working but we weren’t receiving anything back from them. Literally with 3 minutes left in the window, Visa responded and we were able to verify the fix and all was done. I’m really grateful to have been a part of this team and all they taught me.

0750 — In.

0832 — Just sent “recognition badges” to everyone that participated with the installation yesterday. We cut it close, 3 minutes from the end of the window, but it got done. I hope to never have to go through this again but we’ll be back at the same thing in March. Only one meeting on my schedule today…so far.

1058 — Just checked my student loan account and all my payments for January were rejected and will be returned to me because the Department of Education changed their billing address. I never got notified as such from them or the vendor they go through for billing, Great Lakes, that any of this was happening!!! I’M UBER PISSED!!!!!! Turns out I can’t update the billing address through my online bill pay because it says the company will alert my financial institution when/if the address changes. Looks like it didn’t happen. UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTABLE!!!

From the cubicle: It snowed overnight here in the DC Metro area. A handful of school systems were on a delayed opening so some parents were late getting in. Many of them with the sniffles. Hearing folks blow their noses is disgusting. The sneezing is just as bad. There’s a few that like to let everyone on the floor know that their sneezing is as violent as being hit by a truck. The guy over the wall is sucking down his snot so much you’d think he’s living off of it. The entire cube farm is turning into a petri dish. Can’t wait for all their kids to get sick and then they bring those germs to work. It still amazes me that a single snowflake will cause a region where 4 million people live into chaos. Every winter people forget how to drive and the traffic reports get longer throughout the day.

1523 — Documenting the from yesterday implementation all day. Been a bit boring but at least there’s some movement. Now I’m on a call where it seems that 50 people can’t give way to anyone else talking. It’s all about transferring data from one ETL application to another in separate locations. Everyone's an expert which means nothing will get resolved and nothing did.

From the cubicle: What’s with all the acronyms in people’s email signatures? CSM/ITIL/BA/BS/CTFL/MBA/MCSE/MCSD and many others. Their business cards must be the size of a postcard. These days folks like to present how awesome they are but…DAMN! There’s combinations of letters I’ve never seen. I have plenty of my own touting my intelligence prowess and other horseshit; put ABBA at the end of my listing just to see if anyone notices or asks. Looked a few up and some I never found out what they stood for. No doubt people are bullshitting these. The investigation will continue. Un-fucking-believable!!!

From the cubicle: Seriously, why does on-hold music have to suck?

0818 — In on time…technically. We get to work a flex schedule so as long as I’m in by 0900 then it’s ok but I prefer being in before 0800. Only one meeting scheduled today for 1500. Good possibility it’ll change but I’m trying to keep a positive attitude. It’s not easy as it’s colder than a witch’s left tit outside. More documentation today for the application we installed on Sunday. Trying to put a timeline of what happened from October till now and it’s a PITA.

From the cubicle: No matter the sports season we all have our opinions. I will always be a proud Jacksonville Jaguars fan and get beat up every week during football season. I’m also a big fan of Indiana University basketball, Washington Bullets (I hate the name Wizards) basketball, Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals baseball. We all talk smack about each other’s teams and it’s a lot of fun and a good distraction. It’s always funny how some folks are either defending their team or humbled by their shitty team. Conversations span entire rows of cubes, usually over top of folks doing actual work but they haven’t complained. My cube is filled with Jags gear and I’m an annoying fan but loyal. We all “Monday morning quarterback” and go over the highlights of practically every game no matter the sport each morning. Sports is a unifying theme in any office and makes for interesting interactions. Another great thing is how folks from other countries have gotten into American sports and most are more passionate than we are. They also talk soccer, lacrosse, cricket, among other sports but it still won’t make me a fan of any of those.

1335 — Just tried to get out of being on 2 email lists for Visa. It shouldn’t be so difficult to simply put out a single distribution with all the players on it. The team rep refused and Visa agreed with her. So, in essence, I’ll be getting the same email twice. They claim the emails for for test and PROD environments but they same the same damn thing!! A waste of effort. I can stay informed with one but apparently they can’t.

From the cubicle: I’ve written before about voice volume in the cube farms. I’m experiencing about 3 conversations at once. 1 with a rather loud person to my left, over the wall there’s 2 people speaking in hushed tones, and catty-cornered to me is someone right in between with a thick Asian accent. What’s interesting is the 2 people speaking over the wall, I can barely hear them nor can I tell what they’re talking about. My loud colleague leaves no secrets, everything is known by everyone. My accented colleague’s volume moves up and down depending on the point she’s trying to get across to others. It’s like a 3-D movie except I’m imaging words dancing around of varying fonts in bold or italic. All of them are comic sans-serif.

1455 — No one can get away from Trump talk for more than 2 minutes. It’s maddening!

0630 — In for a tax flip. Had to simply change a drop down value from yes to no in order for a splash screen to appear to the customers when they go look to see when their tax info will be available. This switch affects only one system but it’s the one our member service reps use to help the customers. I actually got in at 0615 but noticed I forgot my phone, so I went back home and got it. Luckily I live about a mile from work and was there and back in a few minutes.

From the cubicle: We’re having an all hands meeting (entire IT department) today and were told we MUST wear our red IT Department team shirts. Each year or so upper management buys us all team shirts complete with the company logo and the name of our department underneath. Generous but unnecessary. This’ll be the second (and probably last) time I’ve worn it. The uppers must have budget left over from the previous year to burn. I highly doubt that there’s an account set up specifically for this. I threatened to wear a blue t-shirt with gold lettering that has “Rock out with your cock out” (has a drawing of a rooster to go along with it) written across it but was politely asked not to. For folks that either forget or didn’t bother to wear the shirt, I wonder if they’ll be “spoken to”. Highly doubt it. Looking around, I’d say that about 85% of folks wore their shirt. Now I feel like a company kiss-ass for wearing mine. The stupid thing is everyone walking around sarcastically saying, “Hey nice shirt” thinking it’s an original joke…SMDH. Just like asking folks that wear a tie and jacket or a nice business suit if they have a job interview. I normally say, “No, I have a funeral to go to after work”, usually shuts them up. Office humor needs an upgrade, I’ll submit a proposal to our project management office to see if anyone notices. I doubt they will but it’ll still be fun trying.

1527 — All hands meeting…joke. There was a slide that listed 2 awards with their recipients. Sans 3people, NO ONE ELSE FROM OUR OVERALL TEAM GOT ANYTHING!!!! I can’t put into words, but I’ll try, how insulting it is. We have, currently, 153 total people on the team. About 1/2 a dozen were given Employee of the Year awards within the team. ALL of them should have gotten recognition beyond our little holiday party. The 3 folks that got awards were well deserved. Everyone works extremely hard and more than deserved awards. Our Lead Supports (includes me) send “Shout Outs” to our team members that get published in the internal IT newsletter, we send “Peer to Peer” recognition badges, not just to our team mates, but also to business customers as a thank you. Yet no one was represented on those award lists. It’s a true fucking travesty that this happened. I’m getting madder with every keystroke and believe I’m justified in saying our management has again proven that we aren’t getting the good press we have earned.

1630 — Our AVP stopped by for a chat with the minions. He was in pretty good spirits and it was all cordial.

1705 — Out.

0815 — In a bit later than normal. Our extract/transform/load (ETL) process supposedly failed last night. I heard a heated call was had between one of my guys and a colleague (and great ally) in our Production Control (PCL) team.

Background: PCL is responsible for the entire job schedule of every system across the enterprise. They alert any necessary teams to what has failed or where the schedule is on hold and they wait for word to release the hold.

The “issue” last night was one of our ETL schedules started before another ended; most jobs have a manual hold at the end of them so the predecessor/successor relationship was thought to have failed. From what I heard this morning, plenty of research was done on our end to ensure data integrity. One of my guys was under the impression that PCL released a job before it’s time, this was not the case. Databases were verified, scripts had run in order, and the overall schedules were run without fail. The bottom line was we simply forgot the order of operations and it caused a fury of unnecessary work and stress for both teams. I was briefed on what happened a few minutes ago and all is well. The upside is I get to let my guys go home early since one of them was up all night and the other was called to come in from 0200–0500. Lesson learned.

1016 — Just sent an email to my manager regarding the lack of recognition of our team with departmental awards. I couldn’t let it go but we should have had a lot of folks in the list for the 3 awards, especially the Service Award which recognizes people for above and beyond performances for internal and external customers. We’ve had both types of customers give us “shout-outs” in publications, Peer to Peer badges for doing a great job, and plenty of employee’s of the year just within the team. My boss is great with us all venting but this really hurt as all us Leads advocate for our teams and they should have been represented for their great work and weren’t.

1337 — Some docs a colleague and I have been editing are finally done. I’m really impressed her and her writing skills. She taught me a few things about detail and formatting; I’m all-out MLA standard she’s more APA and the subtle differences weren’t lost on me. She’s fairly young, probably mid 20s, and incredibly bright. I only point out her age range is because there’s still a perception of millennials as slackers. Yes, I believe in it, but there are also many that aren’t and she certainly isn’t.

1625 — Much like everyone else I take care of certain personal business items at my desk. Today it was my student loan. Had to call the vendor to see why a bunch of payments I sent (overage payments to stay ahead, still have over $46k to go) were still pending. They told me that back in October of 2016 the Department of Education changed the address to where those payments are delivered, from Milwaukee to Atlanta. From October to Jan 1 the vendor (who I’m really trying not to name) had been simply routing the payments to the new address. But on 1 January they stopped so any payments above the normal monthly sits in a pending status. I’m doing electronic transfers so this shouldn’t matter. I love how they grab the monthly payments as soon as they can but giving money back is a 30–45 day wait. I’ve got $3600 still “pending” and have to wait till March to get it back. Student loans are nothing more than credit cards for degrees. Total fucking scam.

1632 — Out.

0841 — Not quite in on time. Oopps! Oh well. One meeting and a class on the schedule today. Hoping for the rest of the day will be quiet. One good news story: Our end of month ETL process finished in a record time of 2 days. Why is that significant? It normally takes 5.

1230 — Haven’t had lunch yet but not really hungry. The class went well and I sent the slide deck to the team. My oldest hit me up to see if I could take her cat. She has terrible allergies yet got a cat 4 years ago and a puppy late last year. Her choice. We’re not taking the cat. We took in our middle daughter’s cat last year because it was peeing/pooping all over her house due to another cat being there and being territorial. No issues since she’s been with us and it’s been great having her around. The student loan issue is resolved for now. I can pay through the site and it’ll go to the right repository; wish I knew that before all this but it’s my fault for not doing some legwork. Some transfers I set up last night are showing as “scheduled” so I think all is good.

From the cubicle: It’s jersey day! In celebration of the Super Bowl the company instituted a day we can all show our allegiance to our favorite teams. I have my Jacksonville Jaguars jersey on. My wife got me an authentic jersey a couple of years ago with my name and the numbers 04 on it and I love it. I don’t see too many other people with jerseys on, so be it. Loud and proud Jags fan!!

1556 — Just took a call from a colleague looking for someone on our SWAT team (SWAT handles critical issues such as system outages). An application she uses wasn’t allowing her team to balance and needed to be back online asap. She entered a ticket with the Service Desk (some companies call it a Help Desk) but there was no associated incident ticket which compounded the stress. I reached out to one of the SWAT managers who said there was already a ticket opened with another team and I directed my colleague that way. Typical Friday, just when you think the day is done it all goes to hell before 1600. I can relate, spent a few overnights here and it’s never fun. These types of incidents can be anything from a perceived outage, to missing data to a full system outage. Not sure the issue in this case but I know it was keeping folks from doing what they needed to close the day.

1613 — Got some job announcement emails from other companies in my home email-box. All of which for part-time broadcasting. I did 3 years at a small market station in Maryland, I think the radius of the signal was about 2 blocks. It wasn’t the most fun job and I was way too immature to have been on the air. I’m still on the fence about even applying. Moonlighting during a work day, when my schedule is 0800–1630, is not a good idea but I feel it’s time for me to go elsewhere from my current gig. Giving up the money and benefits won’t be an option if another company can’t match or best both. I’d like the part time work to pay off my student loan quicker and it’ll give me motivation to keep looking for a more satisfying job.

1646 — Out.