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If you have a degree in Instructional Design, please contact me. I may have a job for you.

I mean, really, I was only “paid” in the sense that I pulled a salary that day.  But I was paid for that day’s work, and I was an actor.  I was in the scratch video, and everybody knows my lines and has seen the video 100 times because it’s the default thing that comes up during development a lot.  It’s basically me playing a disgruntled guy who works at home, complaining about “spam spam spam”, “junk junk junk” mail (“nobody sends real mail anymore”)l, telemarketers, oh and now the door rings!?!  Goddamnit it!

Oh sorry, just getting into the role there :) … When I re-did that scene as real video (vs. scratch video), I think we did 5 takes.  I remember during take 3 I was actually angry at the end.  I was reminded of Mr. Spock and his ability to basically dictate what he believes.  In the OK Corral episode, the vilain only worked if you believed in him.  Only Mr. Spock could decide to not believe, and actually not believe, at which point it ceased to exist for him and via the great virtues of Making Shit Up (great link), they saved the day or whatever.

So anyway, the real deal was having to go “on location” to the company president’s house. Got to get paid to play with a kitty. Waiting for the real shot. There was about a 9-person crew, including a cute-but-strange-looking girl who ran the teleprompter. I was mic’ed and everything. Their camera tripod alone was $15,000.  I played opposite a professional actress, a black woman in her 50s.  She commented, “What kind of character name is Wakenya?”

Of course I didn’t really study my lines in advance, heh heh. I’d heard them… And I’d even memorized Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled By” in 1 period in high school, and could recite it for 10 years afterwards.  But lines? With people? When we’re allowed to improvise/rephrase it a bit?  Meh.  I would only study them while being paid, and I had other things to do while being paid. Besides, whatever delay I might create would be offset by the fact that they didn’t have to hire another professional actor.

Anyway. It started, and, uh, I wasn’t working out.  Even though I had run lines for a few minutes in my head, I just wasn’t recalling them in the moment, with all the attention on me and such.  Production stopped. Teleprompter set up. Teleprompter technical difficulties.  I’m burnin’ money! Maybe that does offset things if you count the 9-person crew, hmmm?  Finally in 10-15 minutes or so they had it set up.  I had to talk to someone right in front of me, but look at the teleprompter.  It was hard not to look back and forth between the teleprompter, and this lady I was talking to. Then I realized I was moving my eyes left and right with the words, despite basically knowing the lines and mostly just needing… prompting. I mean, that’s what the damn machine is called!

Once I got rolling, we took a few takes.  Later, we did takes that were on her, so what I said didn’t matter.  I began to forget my lines, and sort of improvise a bit.  This definitely disrupted her rhythm a bit, but hey, she’s a professional.  And she had this one line, “affect important policy decisions”, that we had to re-do more times than anything *I* had to re-do.  So, it wasn’t too horrible on my part. It was just damn weird and surreal.  Being in Old Town Alexandria, a stone’s throw from the old HQ of my 1st company in 1997, in sight of my car, with 9 people’s attention trained on me, while getting paid, and being in the house of the president who pays me (and she wasn’t there).  Very strange.  A welcome change of pace, though, and a good memory for my leave of absence.

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Well, I just packed up about 3+ trips of stuff to my car, went through all my files, caused people to not be able to toast their lunch (I took both toasters back–they’re both mine), and exchanged info with several co-workers.  The President just came in, and she had a wide-eyed talk with me to make sure I’m still on board, and to understand that I am only at client site until I basically tell them it is time to replace me with an Instructional Designer.  I’m still not sure that I’m staying.  I will if things go without a hitch at client site — but I’m not currently willing to go through all the rigmarole of a security clearance again. Not for this particular client. Not with so much left to do at Casa Clarolyntopiastan to get to House 2.0.  Not with our current success level.  I’m not in a position in life where I currently need to deal with that crap.  But I’ll try it out and see.  But anyway, a signal has been sent, and the theatrics are working. They’re on edge, just like me.  Keep ’em guessing–that’s always been my strategy.

So, a years or two ago I carried over about 160 hours of vacation time.  This was July.  All of a sudden, our next paychecks were cut, and I only had 47 hours of vacation time.  They decided employees could only carry 80 hours over, and reset mine, retroactively, to 80.  Of course, thinking I had 160, I was very liberal with my vacation time, taking far more vacation than usual (I usually take the minimum amount, keeping my balance as high as possible).  So I had used up 33 hours by July.  80-33 = 47.  So in one day, I went from 127 to 47.  That really pissed me off.

Now I am finding out that the 80-hour carry-over wasn’t company policy.  They just decided to implement the policy, retroactively, taking away vacation.  I don’t even think that should be legal — and it wouldn’t for normal corporations — but this is an under-50-person company.  Being under 50 persons complete changes the rules of business, and my company has gone close to 50, but purposely never exceeds 50 people.  So anyway, I am displeased by this.  Originally I thought they had failed to implement policy, and were simply fixing 6 months of mis-stated balances.  But now I see that it was just a plain money grab, to reduce the amount of vacation used/paid-out to people.  It reeks of bullshit.   I want my 86.25 hours vacation leave back… that’s over 2 weeks of my life that I will never, ever get back.  And I will indeed remember this 50 years from now.

So this [extremely socially awkward] co-worker got Boss’s Day cards for his 2 bosses and gave them to them today. I was then given a ‘heads up’ from a co-worker about this, so I could get on board if I want. But I’m not participating. I refuse to be brought to that level of brown-nosedness. (UPDATE: I signed the damn thing when everybody else did.) They already get paid more than us, and we’re supposed to by them a card too? Has anyone ever heard of anyone actually doing this? What the fuck?

“Do they make blue post-it notes out of Smurfs?”
“You mean like, their hides?”
“Yea, kind of like those lampshades the Nazis made out of human skin. Marilyn Manson owns one of those… I think having one of those would be interesting.”
“That would be weird.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t think it’s evil per se, because it doesn’t create any additional evil simply by possessing it, y’know?”
“It would creep me out.  Every time I look at it, it would remind me that that was a human.”
“But thinking that every day might keep you aware. It might remind you to never become a racist.”
“It will remind me to never make a lampshade out of a human being.”

Seriously — if an employer is offering you a job, and their insurance is run by Kaiser-Permanente — insist on getting extra money. Or just go to another employer. It is NOT worth dealing with their bullshit.

So, my company had a big meeting with PayChex, who is handling our new benefits, effective July 1st, 2007. They gave us a handout stating “HMO plan: $83.07 per paycheck for employee plus spouse”.

When Carolyn quit her job around July 1st, I set paperwork to get her benefits in motion, effective August 1st, 2007.

Now that she is on the benefits successfully, only now am I being told that oops, they got the number in half, it’s really $166.14 per paycheck for employee plus spouse.

Do I have legal options here? I’m guessing no. (more…)

Today I got interviewed by an ex-cop, FBI person, about a co-worker. I also got to be photographed as “how NOT to dress if you are a [insertgovtagencyhere] worker”. Click more for the picture. (more…)

So, yesterday I technically got to be a paid actor.  Since I had to play a character to shoot some “scratch” video for work (video to be replaced with real actors lator).  Very different than my usual day.  And today?  Recording audio.  Gilf on the mic; lotsa cooledit.  Weird.

“That Osama Bin Laden — he was quite a nice guy, until he started shitting black ducks.”

Actually, it adds a 2-pixel black border surrounding an image, and then adds a drop shadow (going southwest) to the image. This increases the image size by about 15×15. Since it is a script, it is easily automate-able. It requires ImageMagick, outputs in PNG format, and makes a backup of the original. (more…)

It’s nice that I can use my map-drives script to map [at least a few] of my drives at work. Unfortunately, not every letter would map. (more…)

Definitely the worst mouse-click ever. (more…)

SET A=test
echo “%A”
“A”  (I thought it would say “test”)

wtf? Now we have to echo %A% and not %A??? When did they change it so that the % has to go after the variablename as well???   Man, 4NT has definitely spoiled me.

I didn’t expect to be doing CoolEdit at work! All those years of editing mp3s are paying off. Apparantly, “Adobe Audition” bought CoolEdit at some point, and it’s the same damn program (only better). I think I may have realized this in the past but forgotten it. Here I sit recording audio scripts for FDIC training — a strange task I’ve never done on the job. For a one-day task, this is a fun diversion. I’ll even get to possibly use my mp3-encoding scripts that I use at home here! (more…)

Well, my job isn’t really new, but I asked to be removed from the client site (after almost 3 years). So, it may as well be new. (more…)