Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Professional hazards - IV

Drama alert!

Us technical writers are like beggars, always asking for information. Snooty developers and snootier product managers oblige us when they're in a generous mood. But mostly we're found knocking on their posh car windows looking for a scrap of information that they'd want to throw at us, if only to throw us off their trail for a while. We gladly lap up every bit we receive only to realize that it wasn't what we needed. Once in a while some benevolent soul comes along and throws a few better-looking scraps, along with a look that says: use it well.

When they cross us a few days later, we show them what we've made of it. That's when they decide that it wasn't what they wanted to give us in the first place. Then they throw another large scrap at us and ask us to clean up the nice little trinket that we made out of the earlier scrap.

Oh, and did I mention the QA folk? They look at our trinket as if it's a waste of their time and that they need to get it off their hands before they're possessed by whatever's in it. If they are in a generous mood, they might even throw some bugs at us, praising our trinket for what it lacks. That, when they can barely string a few words together to make a sentence. Even if their life depends on it.

Disclaimer: I know I've made sweeping generalizations and accusations in this post, but would you prefer if I did a whiny, plaintive post with great detail of who said what to whom? I get my funny out instead.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another day at work

... when you look at the clock and realize that this:
... has rolled around and turned to this:


...oh, and as it turned out, I was working again from home until I looked up again and saw that it had rolled around again to this:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Evenings in the neighborhood

I am fan of silver, not gold, but if nature splashes it across the horizon like that, I tend to change loyalties. It's breathtaking, this scene from my little neighborhood park. I wish I could sit there every evening, soaking in the beauty.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

To the house elf

... who's been visiting us the past few days. While I'm not paying attention, he snoops around, does the dishes and stuff. Today he even swept the house! Thank you, magical elf!

I hope you have a great time at your first office party that doesn't involve me. I'll miss watching the cuteness that is you. Although, I can imagine you being hooked on to your cellphone while people discuss boring stuff around you. Or taking pictures if you feel like it.

Go on, elf. Hope you find some good friends among the folk you work with, someone as smart or smarter, who you enjoy collaborating with. I know you'd love that.

Professional hazards - III

Life can come to a standstill when you begin your day early. I got home after a meeting until 11:00 pm the previous night, changed, and got into bed. I slept badly--had dreams about everything that could go wrong with the project or my teammates. Woke up at 6:15 am, changed, and went straight to work to prepare for the meeting at 7:00 am. I planned to come home early for a break and return if necessary. It turned out that I couldn't leave until 11.5 hours later when my work was almost done. And I still have two hour-long meetings to go.

I've tried many times to start early so that I can stop for the day at a decent hour, but that never seems to work out. My planning is lousy and execution is worse. Feels like I fit right into the project team I work with.

And yet, I can't make up my mind about quitting. The temptation of learning and earning the lifestyle we currently lead is too great. I hope to some day be pissed off enough to quit without looking back. And then to make good use of the time not spent earning money.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Yo-yo continued

It is surprising how two consecutive days can be so different.

I woke up yesterday feeling like shit. I cried and got my eyes swollen, my throat phlegm-filled, and my head throbbing. The husband sulked and went about his chores through most of the morning. (It's also surprising how chores only get done when we're pissed with the spouse--maybe that's how we burn up the angry energy. :P) I made breakfast without a word while he did the dishes from the previous day. There was a chance that he would not eat, but then he couldn't continue with a straight face for long. His favorite blanket that I got out the previous night and spread on him while he was asleep had something to do with it, I guess. We sort of made up over breakfast and then he did some more chores before bathing and leaving for work. I was still feeling like shit (although less shittier than when I awoke), so I decided to stay back and relax a bit before I left for work. Nothing improved my mood through the day, except when I got back home and there was Hairspray playing on HBO. I was not in the mood to eat, so I asked hubby to arrange for himself. He got home with a packet of bread and I was instantly tempted, because it only meant one thing--he was planning to eat anda bhurji. From then on, it felt much better. We cooked together--he warmed the bread, I whipped up the bhurji. We ate while watching a silly talk show, and then I happily walked the dogs again while he continued with Chop Shop.

I woke this morning and didn't even realize that the headache was gone. I simply changed, walked the dogs, and got breakfast ready while the hubby had his bath. He wanted to leave early today and had planned to skip breakfast, but I knew better. I tempted him with a dish he mentioned last night, and because it was almost ready when he was, he couldn't resist. We were both glad because he reached the office for his meeting in record time--14 kilometers (dining table to workstation) in 30 minutes flat--you'd understand if you knew this city's traffic hours. I did some more chores and then got to work. It's been pleasant so far. Yesterday's urge to quit has quietened. Some of it, thanks to people asking me questions and me giving them suggestions / directions. I guess I get some kick out of it. Maybe I should start working as a consultant / troubleshooter. Although, I really doubt my expertise at anything. I'm willing to research--maybe that's enough.

Enough blubbering for the day. I better get back to work (bring in the moolah) and chores (the thankless stuff). I wish everyone in the world a happy day.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Last night was miserable. And it bled into Monday morning. I've had a throbbing in my head all day. (Hubby would like to say that there was something in there for a change.) Worked only half a day today.

Received news of the demise of a colleague / good friend's father. It happened on Friday, and as expected, I was informed from other sources. I did speak to the friend later, and am amazed at how calmly his Libran personality is taking him through. The guy was so torn and frustrated over the past few months! I hope things improve for him henceforth.

The pangs to quit the job are back. I've begun to detest my work on some days and push myself through it on the others. There's scope for much learning in the recent future, which I am looking forward to. But I don't know whether it's worth it. The best thing for me right now would be to stick around and switch to part time, but I don't know whether the management will be able to accept such a request. Also, companies these days do not enter into contracts with individuals, but employ them through contracting agencies, which sucks! I've seen a few examples, and it's a pain to manage money and any related issues with those agent-companies.

I do have a 3-week vacation planned. If only I could clear what's on my plate by then! The current release seems to be extending forever and they are making new additions to the product even as we're nearing RTM. It's just been such a good example of bad planning, worse communication, and the worst execution! I've never been so disgruntled with my work environment before. On one hand, my managers are willing to help me achieve work-life balance. On the other, a product manager tells me: if you want work-life balance, this product team in not the place to be.

During the upcoming vacation, I'm hoping to come to a conclusion about whether I want to continue or not. The original plan was to take a 3-month break, but the learning opportunity I mentioned is right at the beginning of those months, and so I had to settle for something else. And I'm not liking it.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


I was reading Harry Potter this morning for a couple of hours. Then, I decided to take a nap. When I woke over an hour later, it was due to some external noise, and not because I was rested enough. In fact, even though the state of my mind changed, my body felt like I was stupefied. I was dreaming, and the dream was an adventure, obviously triggered by the story I was reading earlier. It was a tad scary, I was tensed in the dream and trying to stay alive, which is why my body was tensed. Even then, it did not feel good to be awakened. I wanted to continue being in the dream.

The first thing that crosses my mind when I awake in the morning after an adventurous dream or after such a nap is: Oh no, not back to the boring old life again! All I think of when I wake up is how much I have left to do. My brain goes into auto-pilot and starts planning how to complete my tasks. The worst part is that all the planning does not translate into action. So, the effort of all that brain activity also goes down the drain.

Sometimes I wonder if it would really be possible to live a lucid dream, like they did in Vanilla Sky. If that technology ever comes into existence, will I really sign up for it? Assuming I am filthy rich of course! Or would I by that time have enough sense / ideas to make my real life more exciting? Would having enough energy or enthusiasm be enough to turn my boring existence around? I guess they'd have to set up a nuclear power plant inside of me for that.

Until then, I'll always look forward to my dreams to escape the daily drudgery.

Friday, December 03, 2010

My dog's going alpha

... and I'm not happy.

When my pooches were pups, they would happily wag their tails and approach all other dogs playfully. Mojo was always a bit skeptical but would want to jump on other dogs to test their willingness to play. Phoebe has never known fear (apart from the fear of mine or her dada's wrath). She's delighted to see any dog irrespective of size, shape, color, and smell, and wants to play with whoever it is. She approaches other dogs from below, showing that she intends to play and not harm. She's known to lie on the ground and sniff a pug's face. She looks downright silly--a 2.5-foot dog sucking up to a 0.5-foot one. Lately, however, Mojo has taken to approaching every other dog like a hunter. The moment he sees one in the distance, he slows his pace, changes his stance, and gets into his best crouching position, ready to be launched like a torpedo. I coolly watch him do all of this (it's mighty amusing!) and usually distract him at the right moment, enough to save my arm from being yanked off along with the leash.

I digress. Now to the main story.

I was walking ze canines last night, and we happened to cross another pair of familiar dogs--Max (playful and alert) and Bruno (shy, doesn't like himself or his partner touched). Mojo was ready for a go at any of them, and Phoebe was too, each with their own different intentions. I held Mojo back and loosened Phoebe's leash so that she could go ahead and play. Max was happy to sniff and let sniff. Bruno was cautious as always.

Hubby happened to cross us on his way home right then and as I got distracted for a second, Mojo slipped and went straight for Max. Max being the hunky Doberman, I was scared for Mojo initially, but within the few seconds that they were at each other, I began fearing for Max! My husband intervened and took Phoebe away while trying to hit Mojo so as to control him. In the next few seconds I somehow got hold of Mojo's mouth--he'd caught Max's ear firmly and wouldn't let go. I pried his jaws open, yelled at him, and pulled at his ear to control him.

While hubby held our goons, I apologized to the other pet owner and checked Max's ears for cuts. There were nothing except a bit of Mojo's saliva on his skin. Thankfully, his ears had been trimmed a few months ago (although I'm not in favor of that kind of vanity). I was so embarrassed, I wanted to disown Mojo right then. If Max had longer ears, Mojo would have yanked one off. I was pleasantly surprised and extremely angry at the same time.

Because they've been so protected, I always fear that Mojo wouldn't last a minute if he were out on the streets by himself. Phoebe would last for about 5 minutes at least, given how she protects herself against Mojo's attacks and advances. (Yep, we get to watch a lot of canine drama.) Street dogs are much more aggressive and vicious, which is necessary for their own survival. After this incident, I have a feeling that Mojo is much more vicious than he appears to be. He could, after all, learn to survive--with a lot of battle scars to show for it.

However, all of these thoughts came to me much later when we were all home and about to sleep. My first reaction was anger. Mojo has be been brought up playing with Phoebe and quite a few neighborhood dogs. None of them ever tried to attack Mojo. Where did he get that instinct from? Why does he take that offensive stance when he sees other dogs, especially males? I've noticed this change in him since he reached adulthood--his second heat earlier this year. It's a hormone-induced personality change, I think. He's even been jumping at Simba in offense. Simba is the dangerous-looking-but-the-sweetest-and-most-unharmful dog I've ever seen. My pooches have grown up with Simba--he's their favorite! And yet Mojo crouches when he sees Simba from afar. Although, he backs off in a couple of seconds once he realizes that Simba isn't attacking back. Then they both play a game of who marks the most number of shrubs or who marks the best. But I still hate it that Mojo isn't playful any more. He's going alpha.

It's not that Phoebe is an angel with other dogs. She barks back when another barks menacingly at her. But that's defense. She still tugs at the leash at the risk of cutting her throat, and rolls happily on the ground at the sight of another dog. She won't eat for days, but the moment she knows we have some free time, she plonks her toy at our feet and demands a game of fetch.

Mojo on the other hand uses attention-grabbing techniques like peeing on the floor without asking to be taken out--he used to do that earlier! He scratches walls, eats the paint off them, and begs for food even when he has just had his meal. I was so angry with him after the incident with Max, that I hit him all the way home. I didn't feed him and threatened to make him sleep alone his cage all night. I knew I'd cool down and bring him into the bedroom with us in the middle of the night, but right then I was ashamed of him for being mean to another dog. My softie husband melted and tempted me to relieve him from the cage sooner than I had planned.

I'm not proud of punishing him, but I doubt whether loving words or other actions would have stopped him from attacking the other dog. Given some time and space to play and know each other, I'm sure he'd even befriend Max, but I'm mighty pissed at the attack-for-no-reason. And now, I don't think Max's owner would trust me enough to attempt to get them to play.

I sometimes wonder whether Mojo feels like the less favorite one, and needs more love to prove otherwise. I hope I can find out and make him my gentle, sweet puppy again. Maybe the hormones will do that trick as he grows older and stabilizes. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Men, mothers, marriage, mo(u)rnings

A large part of lunch-and-tea-time conversations at work revolve around the contributions that our spouses make towards housework and life in general. Or the extreme lack thereof. Some things that crossed my mind, and that I saved for posts like these are...

There's a मराठी idiom that goes like this: स्त्री ही क्षणाची पत्नी अणि जन्माची माता असते। (Those who know better, feel free to correct me.)
It loosely translates to: A woman is a wife for moments and a mother for a lifetime.
Here's what I think: Most men deserve their mothers and nothing more.

A popular complaint is that men sleep late into the mornings while their wives do all the housework, get the kids ready for school, and get themselves to work in time. They resent the husbands for their shameful boot-up time. The ones like me abhor this trait and resort to yelling curses to get our point across. Trust me, we've tried gentle and more socially-acceptable-but-never-to-be-spoken-in-public ways of making our fellas rise n' shine. It seems like some of us are doomed to an eternity of foul-mood-mornings cuz we have to think of and do EVERY FUCKING THING ourselves. Or spend our lives giving reminders, without the respect that a fucking cellphone / planner gets.

Hence, the popular quote: Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
...should be changed to: Early to bed and early to rise makes your wife happy, zippy, and nice.
...cuz the quote only talks about 'men' anyway.

Disclaimer#1: I'm not proud of myself for gossiping or ranting, but this had to be put down.

Disclaimer#2: Cuz the hubs doesn't seem to have read this yet, and cuz the responses surprised me. It isn't as bad as I made it sound in the post. My problem is with our society and our mothers who bring up boys differently than girls. There are exceptions, but they aren't as many as we need for our society to become one where spouses are equal contributors.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tricking my mind

Another realization dawned upon me today as I was helping a relatively new team mate at work. I had this defect in my queue, which I thought I wouldn't be able to resolve within the planned milestone. I asked my lead to pass it on to someone else who could work on it. I estimated that it would take about 2-4 hours for a new person to resolve. The colleague who it was assigned to asked me for help, and I ended up resolving the whole thing. While the defect was in my queue, I kinda resented it because it was just one of those things-I-couldn't-get-to-because-I-have-other-priorities. When someone else asked me to help, I gladly hand-held them through the problem.

So here's a tip for my leads / managers if they ever come across my blog. Never assign me a task. Ask me to help others. That way I always end up exceeding expectations. There aren't any to meet, dummy!. If only 'helping others' wouldn't turn into a target for meeting expectations.

Anyone else dealing with this application called Success Factors? It's the monster under my workstation.