Category Archives: office politics


My sister Marcia informed sister Leslie and me last week that our mom’s been at the doctor’s office, addressing some of her health issues, such as weight loss and pains, which could be for lack of eating and NOT DRINKING WATER. Perhaps she’ll start taking those Boost-type drinks.

Yesterday, my mom was at the doctor’s office for several hours, getting an IV for her dehydration. Marcia was driving mom home when she tried to avoid something on the road, left from some road construction, and hit something else. This briefly propelled the car into the air. The landing initiated the deployment of the airbags, which forced my mother’s glasses into her face, cutting her, which made her scream, which unnerved Marcia.

Bottom line is that my mom went to the hospital to get checked out for a few hours, but did end up returning home. The vehicle, on the other hand, was towed and is probably totaled. Marcia notes it could have been worse.

and speaking of lack of water

Our office, indeed a bunch of offices, got e-mail notices recently that state contracts could no longer pay for water. Now, we’re not a state agency. Nevertheless, our water dispenser was carted off yesterday. When I saw someone wheeling one machine, I knew ours would be next, and alerted everyone to get as much water as possible.

Odd thing is that we still have three bottles of water, but no real way to consume them. I used to have messages pop up on my computer to get a glass of water four times a day; I have to shut those down, and find a new way to stay hydrated.

and speaking of my office

We have been in our present building for 4.4 years. Never have I seen so many ladybugs on the walls and windows outside our office as I did yesterday after none noticed a couple days earlier. THOUSANDS of them, yet very few around the rest of the building. What is going on?

and speaking of checking thing out

I ordered checks by phone for the first time in over a year and a half. $32 for 150 checks? Don’t know what they were before, but it wasn’t NEAR that much! It’ll prompt me to do more online transactions, though most of my bills are autopay already.

and speaking of the unexpected

I was riding my bike downtown a couple days ago when I saw a woman riding a Segway down Western avenue in Albany. I had actually never seen one up close before, only on television. We happened to catch the same red light, and I engaged the young woman who rides it in conversation.

Seems that she won the machine in June in a drawing, a total fluke. Now she rides it to work twice a week, rides her bicycle twice a week, and drives the car once a week.

I checked the Segway site, based in New Zealand, and found five dealers in the state of New York, on Long Island, Queens, western New York, Poughkeepsie (mid-Hudson) and Coeymans (around Albany).

A bus driver said that one will see the Segway more often because they were once not legal to ride on the streets but now are, traveling in the same stream of traffic as the bicycles. I didn’t independently verify that, but it seems right.

Keeping Your Cool in the Least Hospitable Environment on Earth

I was going to write about this much earlier, but now that I’ve actually read the book, now’s probably even a better time.

We had our office Christmas holiday party in our office area this past year. I reckon it was a direct result of the previous year’s gathering at some amazingly crowded restaurant where the people from the next area could bump into us with astonishing regularity. That said, I was quite disappointed with the decision. Getting out of the office was nice when we worked downtown, but now that I’m in suburban cubicleland, it seemed essential. And it was a potluck, always a pain when you take three buses to work.

Still, it wasn’t awful, and in fact, we took over the “training room”, a large meeting room, and it was all right. What was striking, though, was the gift exchange. Of the 12 gifts traded, fully four of them had a cubicle theme. In 2006, when we first moved in, we didn’t see such gifts, but in 2007, it was as though it’s finally sinking in. One person got a weather cube, another a Dilbert calendar, a third an actual miniature cubicle with a “person” at his computer that the real person can control.

I got a book, a 2007 paperback called The Cubicle Survival Guide by James F. Thompson. Its subtitle is the title of this piece. Of course, some of this is common sense, except that, as many of us have realized, “common sense” is not all that common.
Introduction: Railing against the term “cubicle farm”
Chapter 1: Perspective. “They’re not real walls.”
Chapter 2: Decoration. Postcards, family photos, small plants, yes. Religious and political icons, no, unless that’s the norm.
Chapter 3: On the Phone. How to speak in code, because whispering or even speaking in another language might not cut it. Also, how to deal with “speakerphone divas.”
Chapter 4: Illness, Bodily Functions and Injuries. Frequent trips to the bathroom, using discretion, and detours to treat that hangover.
Chapter 5: Eating, Drinking and Digesting. Fish is at the top of the stink pyramid. Consideration when using the toaster oven and the microwave creates peace.
Chapter 6: Hygiene. Don’t trim your fingernails. Wear your shoes. Limit the perfume.
Chapter 7: Entertaining Guests and Unannounced Visitors. Use defensive body-language techniques to get rid of the office lamprey.
Chapter 8: Anti-Spy Methods and Counterespionage Equipment. Ctrl-W, alliances with colleagues, small fonts, rearview mirror.
Chapter 9: Exercising, Blood Circulation and Posture. Some good, specific exercises. Take a break, have a life.
Chapter 10: Protecting Yourself and Your Cubicle. No passwords on your computers, use yellow police tape. I think the latter’s a joke, but I’m not sure.
This book may be more useful to point out to others their shortcomings than for you, who would never eat a stinky cheese in a cubicle. Would you?

At said party, my favorite thing to eat was this. They’re not “heavy”, as you might assume they are.

Sausage Balls
(from the Lady and Sons Cookbook – a Savannah, GA restaurant)

3 cups Bisques or baking mix
1 pound of sausage (I use the roll of Jimmy Dean sausage) – not cooked
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
2 beaten eggs

Put the first three ingredients in a big mixing bowl and stir together.
It forms stiff dough that loosens up when you add the beaten eggs. Mix well.
Form 1” balls (like a medium sized meatball) and place about 2” apart on a baking sheet.
Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. The color will change only slightly during the baking.
These are best served warm. The recipe makes nearly 2 dozen balls, depending on the size.