WTF Was 2013?

2013 was… Interesting.

Disclaimer: This year wasn’t all bad news. I learned things, made new friends, tried new things, made some cool stuff, went a couple places, got on TV, decided on a few healthy lifestyle changes, and connected with others. However, I AM going to focus on the things that led to my current state of being. I do not seek sympathy nor praise. This is simply a reflection. You have been fairly warned.

I began the year one month in, ending the relationship that was stressful and no longer making me happy. It was a good move for me, and I don’t regret the decision. I was doing all the things I’ve wanted to try. Piano class, dance class, playing softball, doing freelance web administration and continuing self-education on whatever struck me at any given moment. It was freeing, productive and I enjoyed every moment! I had a full time job with great coworkers and a great atmosphere.

Over the course of the year, the job was becoming more and more stressful. The trigger, though not noticeable right away, was the departure of my partner-in-crime/party-cube buddy and the fact that her replacement was not in place until four months later.

I quit piano class. My brain would just not function, work day after full work day. I found it difficult to stuff my brain full of quarter notes, eighth notes, ties and slurs. I needed a rest. (Haha)

I lost my grandmother. She was my last living grandparent, and the only one I had any sort of relationship with. As a child, my siblings and my time with her was limited due to other familial issues and pressures preventing us from being as connected with our relatives as all of us would have liked. It was only the recent years that we had been able to visit and make up for the lost time. There is so much I wish I could have learned from and about her before her passing.

Then, my new super cool, foreign, knowledgeable coworker made her departure, too, just three months later. Onboarding had barely begun to pierce the surface of the scope of our team. Again, the responsibility had fallen on me, with little support as our team of two was already spread thin with more and more new projects, and growing presence a department, thrust upon us. All support that was given is appreciated more than I can put into words. Mentally, and work-wise.

I quit dance class. Not only was my brain exhausted at the end of the day, but my whole body found itself falling over itself while attempting single pirouettes and unable to properly retain choreography. It was frustrating. It wasn’t fun anymore.

I went to PAX Prime! Now THIS was an experience of a life time. Making new buddies, being around video games and those who make them possible. New concepts, endless ideas, reiterating my love for games and the industry, reconnecting with old friends, a new city with my kind of weather. I loved EVERY MOMENT. Except the one in which I realized I had to leave.

Being undeniably passionate about something again and being fully immersed in it just to leave it all behind was truly depressing. I started to question my current path in life. Realizing my loves there made me realize how unhappy I really was here. On top of the previous stresses, I was pulled so far into what I called a “life rut.”

Earlier in the year, one of my best friends had moved nearly two hours away. Over time, he had found his place there, and I am more than ecstatic to know that he’s happy. We don’t talk as often and our interests, while common ones exist, are not as similar as they once were.

My other best friend stopped talking to me all together for a time, for reasons I’m still unsure of. Denial of anything inherently wrong and his inability to tell me the whole truth makes me question the friendship we had had all along. This actually hurts. More so than the closure of my romantic relationship at the beginning of the year.

I quit softball. Temporarily. But still. This is saying something. With the exception of two years in high school, I’ve played softball every year, at least one season, since I was five years old. I don’t even need to say anymore.

December 2013 was pivotal. The prospect of another new coworker, who was already familiar with 80% of our processes, finally feeling like my voice had been heard, people willing to listen, and the petitioning of an extremely-overdue reclassification of my position were the most relieving things I had heard all year. Not to mention winter break was approaching.

They say that hindsight is 20/20. I believe it.

It was during this break when I took the time to reflect upon this year that I realize that I did not narrowly escape burnout. I hit it head on. I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but it happened. There were breakdowns in front of those who did not deserve to have to deal with me. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me. And I’m also sorry it had to happen.

My social life had taken a plunge off the deep end. The friendship I had left with the breakup, more to a city to two hours away, and the other seemingly just disappeared.

Those who I continue talking to remain scattered across the US and beyond. Most of them I haven’t even met. This concept was strange at first. Truthfully, they are the ones who know the most about what’s been going on with me, and I talk to them the most. Who is to say they are not my friends? I am eternally grateful for their company, laughs, random messages in the middle of the night, silly gossip, support they’ve shown, collaboration and teamwork in various games and projects, trust they’ve shown, inside jokes and all the digital hugs. Without them, I really would be alone. I’m so glad I’m not.

But what really happened here? The simple answer is that I let work become my life.

Work wasn’t good. Therefore, life became not good.

For a time, I was looking for new work, but I didn’t even have the energy to properly do that.

With more support than I had initially realized, made clear by certain work exercises, the best coworkers ever and the most outstanding supervisor backed by the rest of the chain of command, a renewed confidence has recently been sparked. That spark at the end of this dark tunnel that was 2013 has given me the “it’s getting better” vibes.

Now that the work factor was out of the way, I could finally think about me again. To try and figure out what the fuck happened. All of this was what I came up with.

I suffered burnout and breakdowns, and I’m sure a dash of depression is existent here, too, though not clinically diagnosed. But I am recovering. Not there yet…but recovering. I feel it, and I want it.

Conveniently coinciding with the new year, there are things I want to do differently this year:

Love my job again. Be the difference. Stand up for what I believe in. Share the knowledge.

Stop making excuses for myself to say “no” to adventures and opportunities. Adventure is out there.

Make new connections. Rekindle old ones. Let them know they’re appreciated. Keep in touch.

Make. Craft more. Cook more. Build more. Design more. Code more. Photograph more. And show it off.

Consume what I enjoy. Books, games, movies, tv. Without shame.

Learn from mistakes. Don’t get down on myself for not accomplishing exactly what it was that I had set out to do. It is NOT a failure if I tried my best.

Strive to be the difference. Everyday.

Doing these things will ensure that I meet the main goal:

Be proud of myself and my life again.

Ready, set, Mew.

The Fox Saw The Sign

If you’ve talked to me long enough, you’d have found that I enjoy most music and will listen to just about anything. However, my listening preference generally falls something along the lines of 84% power/symphonic metal, 8% trance/electronica, 5% Ace of Base, and 3% random crap. (FYI, my iPod hasn’t been scrobbled in months.)

Note that Ace of Base gets their own percentage block. Yes, I do listen to the stuff from -after- The Sign and The Bridge. Yes, I know their latest album has new singers. Yes, I like them.

An earlier post of mine mentions that I’ve been addicted to Ylvis – The Fox.

This happened:

I do have an affinity for jazz music. And that? Holy… Just. YEAH.

I cannot convey my giddiness, but I will try. Have some nonsense:
SQUEEEEOEIHGSE;LKGHA;OEIGHSD;FZHVSDSFSDZOMG!!!

Stop Telling Me that I “Look Fine”!

Anytime I mention fitness and getting into shape, I’m bombarded with comments saying “But you look fine/good/great/gorgeous/pretty/insert-something-else-nice-here!”

First of all, please don’t get me wrong. These are all VERY nice to hear, and I do appreciate the compliments, even if I don’t fully believe you. Then again, because of that whole worst-self-criticsm thing, half of me doesn’t give a shit what you think about how I look.

Even still, is this even about -how I look-? No.

Okay, some of it is; it’s a result of the main goal. I mentioned getting in shape and fitness. Not body image. I did not call myself fat. When I do, I’m joking. I know I “look fine,” but I could look better (and have the old photos to prove it.) But that’s besides the point.

When someone says “I want to get in shape” or “be/become fit,” DO NOT, I repeat DOOOO NOTTTTTT simply tell them that they look fine already. It’s like you’re giving us an excuse to continue to the lifestyle we wish to change. If we look fine already, and already know that we are accepted as who we are, why should we bother trying to change?

As much as you are trying to give a complement (thank you) it’s extremely frustrating!! It feels so unsupportive of what my goals actually are.

It’s like somebody saying “I want to go back to school to study ____,” and someone replying with “but you’re already really smart!” (appreciated, but..) SO WHAT?!?!! Normally, what you see people responding with is something like “That’s great!”, “You should do it!’ and “Rock the fuck on!”

Why not respond in a similar manner when goals are fitness-related? Are you not supportive of the person? If so, let them know in addition to the compliment you were about to give. It will make worlds of a mental difference for the receiver.

Let me reiterate that I am NOT fishing for compliments. I just want people to understand the position of an okay-looking overweight girl who wants to get back into shape.

That said, I’m going to the gym :)
[Actually, I had written this before I left but was unable to post it. But shhh.]

Middle Ages Humanities Class and Assassin’s Creed (early 2009)

More video games + school

I think it was the same semester I took genetics, actually, that I opted to take a humanities course on the Middle Ages for fun. This one wasn’t a requirement. That in itself made it way more exciting. But that’s besides the point.

I had also begun playing Assassin’s Creed during this time.

Main cities in AC1: Damascus, Acre, Jerusalem
Protagonist: Altair

In my class, some of our reading assignments were from primary sources. That is to say pieces actually written within the time period. One of them struck a huge coincidence:

Author: Ali ibn al-Athir

Tell me that’s not at least worth a second take! Not only that, but within a paragraph or two, he had mentioned all three of AC1′s main cities.

Umm. Heck yes!

My favorite number in Movies: Harry Potter and Twilight

My favorite number is 934. This started back when I was in middle school (circa 1997).

In Harry Potter, the magic platform at the train station is 9 and three quarters. The numbers used are 9 3/4. <3

In one of the Twilight movies, there’s a scene in the back seat of a car and someone checks their phone. The time is 9:34.

PS: Don’t judge me negatively because I’ve seen the Twilight movies. We’ve all seen movies that aren’t necessarily good ;)

Genetics Class and Bioshock (early 2009)

One of the requirements of my undergrad major was a general genetics class. I also like video games. But you knew that already.

In both lecture and lab, we were discussing plasmids. They are small, usually circular, pieces of DNA that code for something or other. They can reside within a eukaryotic cell and be transcribed, translated, etc, along with the organism’s DNA to provide the organism with the gene it contains. Pretty neat!

At the same time, I had started Bioshock. In the beginning of the game, you find these abilities by the name of, you guessed it, plasmids! You equip the plasmid serum, and poof! Your genetic makeup is altered, giving you a new power. The ability to spawn lightning, fire, ice from your palms, telekinesis, or spawning things like dummy targets or a swarm of bees.

Video games and biology!!!!

How to Receive Really Good Customer Service

Have you ever needed help with something?
Yes. You have. Don’t even try to pretend.

Were you unsatisfied with your customer service, but the problem did get solved?
If so, you:

  1. Didn’t read the initial information given to you
  2. Probably made zero attempts to look up information on your own
  3. Were probably rude to the rep
  4. and/or you were … here it comes.. ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS

It’s very difficult to help someone if they can’t provide details leading up to the issue. If you don’t know where to start, that is okay, too, but don’t act like you do.. That just makes things even more confusing, walks everyone in circles, and takes even longer to find a solution together. Own up and ask for help. We’ll start at the beginning, sure, but I guarantee that will go faster than if you pretend you know what you’re talking about. Trust me, it’s obvious when you’re making shit up. We know our processes better than you do…isn’t that why you’re calling?

Being professional, detailed and nice will get you what you need MUCH faster than any other alternatives. When someone asks you a question nicely, you’re more likely to be nice right back. RESPECT!

To drastically improve the quality of customer service you receive, follow these simple steps, BEFORE calling your service representative:

  1. RTFM

If you really, REALLY can’t figure it out on your own, here are some questions to ask yourself to help identify what the problem actually is:

  • What steps are you taking before you encounter the issue? Consult TFM again to make sure you’re actually doing it right.
  • What do you expect to see?
  • What do you actually see?

After exploring the ideas in the above questions, go ahead and send an email or call, providing the details you’ve discovered.

During the call/email:

  1. Report your findings clearly and in detail. Use the correct terminology you’ve learned by RTFM. You want a solution quickly don’t you?*
  2. Be nice. We like helping, but not if you’re going to be a whiny bitch about it. Golden Rule applies here.**
  3. Act professional, be accountable. I’m sure you want to be taken seriously***
  4. Don’t demand things. It’ll make us less likely to want to give it to you.****

*The following questions/comments are 100% worthless:

  • It doesn’t work [Can you describe your issue in further detail?]
  • _____ is broken. Can you fix it? [Can you describe your issue in further detail?]
  • I can’t find _____ / I don’t know where _____ is. [Have you even tried looking for it?]

 

**Sure, it’s my job to help you, and I WANT to help you.. However, it’s not my job to entertain your idiocy, disrespectfulness and/or lack of common sense and intelligence. Don’t waste your time or my time (but at least I get paid for my time). Like I said: Golden Rule. We learned this in preschool.

 

***Ask questions like this:

i have a question i just enroll in class but when i go the  [company name removed for privacy purposes] student portal when  i click on  click my course sites i dont  show any my classes

I’ll laugh at you and want to answer you like this:

i have a answer there is processing period after registering it will come later i promise

 

****Say things like this:

It think this [policy] must change to …

or…

CAN YOU PLEASE HELP

NOT MUCH TIME and I still need to take a shower.

I don’t give a shit what you think. The end.

Pancake Mix Biscuits = Cheap, Simple Biscuits!

Turns out, you can make some pretty sweet drop biscuits from pancake mix! Yes, the just-add-water kind! No butter/eggs necessary.

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min

Warning: This post is going to get a little Zorky.

Safeway brand Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix The just-add-water kind

Safeway brand Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix The just-add-water kind

Due to some strange star and planetary alignment, I’m super broke this week. Don’t worry, I’ll make it. I just need to do things a little different ;) My original plan was to just stick to top ramen and mac n cheese. While that was great for three days, I kinda wanted something a bit different.. It went a little like this:

> Open pantry

You find a mess of raw ingredients, not quite enough to make a meal out of.
- Flour
- Sugar
- Cooking oil
- Popcorn
- Pancake mix
- Cake frosting
- More mac n cheese

> Take pancake mix and cooking oil

Taken.

> Google making biscuits from pancake mix

Google says it’s fairly possible, but only brings up recipes that call for eggs and butter in addition to pancake mix.

> Try anyway. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

You start the oven to begin its heating ritual. Then, pour about a cup of pancake mix into a bowl, mixing in a little water at a time so as not to make the dough too watery. After getting a fairly doughy-sticky texture, you decide that the drop biscuit dough is ready.

> Cover baking sheet with foil

Baking sheet now has a layer of foil so you don’t have to wash the pan later

> Lightly grease foil-covered pan with cooking oil

The oil dims the luster of the foil, but is slick to the touch, ensuring quick release biscuits (if this even works)

> Drop heaping spoonfuls onto foilpan

Dough globs cover the pan. They look like they’ll make functional biscuits. A welcome sight!

> Place in oven for 10 minutes. Add/subtract time to browning preferences. Clean dishes in the meantime.

After 10 minutes, the timer startles you with that creepy Sci Fi sound from your iPhone. You did set that yourself, you know.

> Turn off oven, remove pan from oven, let biscuits cool for a bit, then remove from pan.

HEY LOOK, YOU HAVE BISCUITS!!

> Throw foil away. Put pan away.

Cleanup complete!

> Enjoy two-ingredient biscuits!

Om nom nom nom nom.


I did find that adding a dash of salt would have made them a little less bland. You could probably make all kinds of modifications to this.. Garlic/herbs, shredded cheese, sweeten them up a bit with some sugar.. I definitely will try some other additions next time. Because we all know there is going to be a next time ;)

System Upgrades Aren’t Perfect – A Support Ticket

[UPDATE!! I've added the support representative's reply! Things like this just make the day better. I think I'm going to start opening ALL support tickets in story-time fashion, not just the ones for this company. The filename for the screenshot he's referencing is "dragondrop.png"]

…Of course they’re not. But that’s okay because we expect things to need a little tweaking before they’re awesomer than their predecessor. In the case of our online system at work,  an upgrade had taken place overnight. It wasn’t terribly different, but a few things had changed. One thing, in particular, made a mess of my workflow, and resulted in the support ticket below. Yes, I really sent that in. And included a screenshot (which I’m not including here for privacy reasons). Being a support tech myself, I hope that this bit of humor will make receiving word(s) that things are broken a little less painful.

Enjoy!!


Good day!

Today was our first day with the new 2.9 upgrade, and most things are looking great :)

There is, however, one tool that had sent me on a short rollercoaster. (Literally, it all happened in the span of minutes)

Every day, we use the Resources tool to add new files to course sites, and our instructors use it, too. Sometimes there are a handful of resources to be uploaded to a single folder, but not quite enough to warrant opening Cyberduck.

What I do is simply drag the file from Finder (Mac) directly onto the “Choose File” button (Safari) and it’s just like I clicked the button, navigated and found the file. Except way faster.

When I tried this today, and it didn’t take the file like it normally does, and it pretended I did absolutely nothing. After trying multiple browsers (Chrome and Firefox), I came to the conclusion that the upgrade had thrown a wrench in my lightning speed workflow!

Then, I found that the window was not expanding as it probably should so I didn’t see the brand new drag-n-drop upload box….

Filled with excitement, I promptly dropped the file into this magic box, and it appeared to upload and place itself directly into the folder!

But the new file did not have a filetype icon.. and was listed as 0 bytes.. and when I clicked on it, it downloaded itself with a .txt file extension. Heart-wrenching disappointment had ensued.

I also tried Windows. The drag-n-drop actually seems to work fine in Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer, however, asks if you want to open or save the file..

In short: I think the Resources Upload File drag-n-drop feature is broken for Macs in our instance. Is this something you can look into?

Resorting to extra clicks, waiting, navigating and/or using Windows will result in a soul-crushing darkness and agony. (That may have been an exaggeration. Maybe.)

Thank you!

Melissa


Hi Melissa

I’m sorry to hear this, you must’ve had a horrific day. Not to worry, we’ll get to the bottom of it (honestly, it sounds like it is just broken in Safari – I’ll see if I can reproduce it), and the darkness will lift as the light floods your world. Thank you for reporting this, if you don’t make it through to the light just know that your deeds of valor will be remembered.

P.S. Nice word play on the file name, and bonus points if you know the “deeds of valor will be remembered” reference.