the IT office

Episode 80: Burning Bridges

I was looking for something to do when I had free time (on lunch breaks, in the evenings, on the weekends). So I wrote an article. It’s absolutely RIVETING, too. I mean, if I were to turn it into a full-length novel it would garner positive reviews such as, “page-turner,” “won’t be able to put it down ONCE,” and “this book will change your life… for the BETTAH!”


So what is the subject, you might ask? It’s stated simply in the title.

Dreaming of a Business Analyst Career: A Personal Journey From QA To BA.

See what I mean? ENTHRALLING!

Of course, for the audience, it can be interesting. It’s on a website called, which is a resource for Business Analysts (BAs). I suppose that I wrote to my audience. Good job, ME.

You should read it. Really. At least read the first bit about what I wanted to be when I was in kindergarten. That is based on FACT and I still have the book from kindergarten to prove it. Nathan has seen it so he can be my witness.

And then scroll to the very bottom and read the author’s bio. This was my boss’s boss’s favorite part. I guess that’s how you compliment your employee on writing an article that was okay and you were just really stretching for a positive bit to tell them. Thanks boss’s boss!

A funny thing happened after I wrote this. Somebody posted a comment.

I know, who comments, right? People just read these business-y blogs or articles and then go on with their lives, never telling the author anything like, “hey, I read this and you should know.” I was mightily surprised.

And it was a long comment, too. So let me summarize it with this: “Jasporax” shared his resume with me, told me about a poor relationship he has with a coworker and then that this relationship kept him from getting a job as a BA. He even stated that he was certain that he was unfairly treated so didn’t feel the need to bend over backwards. But… how could he somehow get the BA job?

What I wanted to respond with was, “Go to a new company where you haven’t burned any bridges or else, you’re just going to have to bend so far backwards that you manage to reach the other side of the chasm and serve as the bridge yourself. Good luck.”

That’s not how I responded. Instead I used sympathetic phrases like, “sounds like a tough situation.” Maybe I’ll create a separate account there with a random user name like “TheHonestTruth” and comment: “Good luck, buddy. May the bridges you burn light the way.”

How would you have responded to this guy’s request for guidance?

Episode 77: Mmmm, Bug Fest

What would YOU think if somebody gave you a full, brown paper bag that was labeled “bug fest”?

Seriously. What would be your initial reaction?

Mmmm, bug fest.

What’s in this bag?

Debbie brought us all bug-fest labeled bags the other day. We were going to celebrate our bug festival and we needed some treats to help us. When was the last time you had a bug festival?

My mind went off on a tangent (imagine that) and I remembered the fabulous, old song by Summer Magic called “The Ugly Bug Ball.” Maren put it on a mixed CD she made back in the days of Napster and Morpheus. Well done, Maren.

Enjoy it in all its ugly bugness right here, thanks to a little You Tube action.

Back to the Bug Fest at work, we didn’t have any creepy crawly insects running around. And the treats were just yummy, normal, people treats: apple juice, orange juice, an apple, an orange, microwave popcorn, and a Reeses’ PB egg. Bug fest treats are the best! Thanks Debbie.

We ate them while we tested the software our team is developing. And we pretended to celebrate when we found bugs in the software. In the end, our bosses were proud of our team effort to create the “Mary Poppins” software release: practically perfect in every way.

Wish you could have been a part of our bug fest?

Episode 76: Bathrooms at Work

It was Tuesday afternoon and I’d been drinking water all day, time for my bathroom break. I was also hungry and needed my afternoon snack so I grabbed an oatmeal packet and walked down the hall. Obviously, I didn’t want to take my oatmeal into the bathroom with me. Gross.

I stopped in the breakroom first, opened the packet and dumped the contents into a Styrofoam cup. I figured I was safer leaving that on the table while I used the bathroom than leaving the unopened packet. You never know what people will just assume they can take/eat around here. You could make brownies with laxatives, leave them on the breakroom table and they’d be gone in about 10 minutes and 26 seconds.

I walked a good two feet from the breakroom to the women’s bathroom and went inside.

Yuck, smells like bathroom. It’s always cold in here, a bit dark, and the circulation is no good. Bad circulation in a bathroom is worse than reheated fish in the breakroom.

There are 3 stalls in the main-floor-women’s bathroom of the building we are now in and one of them is the handi stall. I don’t usually use that in case we suddenly have a handi person visit. Currently, there are no handis employed here. Not a particularly diverse workplace I suppose. We seem to focus on diversifying through countries of origin instead.

Back to the bathroom. When I walked in, the handi stall was already occupied. So I step into the middle stall, which by default, is where my feet usually take me in any bathroom.

Gross. The water is to the top of the bowl and it’s all yellow and filled with toilet paper.

I reversed.

Into the first stall now where I find the water is barely there, but what is there is yellow and there’s also toilet paper in this bowl. This is like a bad episode of Goldilocks where the 3 bears use too much toilet paper, forget to flush, or are still there. What do I do when none of the toilets are just right?!

I decide to be an adult about the situation and try flushing the first toilet.

That was dangerous. The water levels rose quickly and I imagined having to try and clean up an overflowing toilet at work. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Thankfully, it stopped within inches from the top and I reversed again.

Should I flush the middle toilet to see if I can use that one?

I decided not to take the chance.

So I skipped my pee break and went instead to make and eat my oatmeal.

Ten minutes later, I really had to pee.

So I went downstairs, and walked into THAT women’s bathroom only to find that… it smelled like Christmas!

Seriously. They must use cinnamon fragrance. What a delight.

All of the toilets were nicely flushed, the light was pleasant with the calming buzz of fluorescents, and none of the 3 bears were occupying any of the stalls.

It was like workplace bathroom bliss.

And the faucets even had hot water.

I really enjoyed my bathroom break in there.


Episode 75: The Love Marathon—It was Tainted

We don’t always know why we do things in IT.

We just do them.

And think about them later.

And later is when we realize that we are a special breed, all grouped together in one, big, geeky department, feeding each other’s social awkwardness.

We think we’re funny.

Yesterday, Gordon told me that I was grumpy. It was true. I was ready for the weekend. And I wasn’t appreciating back to back to back meetings spanning over any normal lunch hours. For those that know me best, I am not a fan of missing lunch.


I finally got a late lunch and my mood started to improve. But Gordon still felt it necessary, along with Debbie’s help, to really kick things up into party mode in our shared office.

We shut the door, inserted the CD, and started two hours of “Tainted Love.”

Are you surprised that one of the developers I work with has an entire CD of remakes* of that beloved 80s song? (By the way, turns out it was actually recorded originally in 1965, but didn’t achieve its blessed fame until Soft Cell’s remake in 1982. You’re probably most familiar with that later version.)

We listened to Marilyn Manson’s “Tainted Love.”

We listened to techno “Tainted Love.”

We listened to Spanish “Tainted Love.”

It was a beautiful afternoon.

We broke out into song with the different versions several times. Talk about team bonding.**

Tainted love, ooo, ooo, ooo, bom bom!

Don’t you wish you could have been there with us? For all two hours?

*According to all-knowing Wikipedia, can you guess how many recordings of the song there are? Come on, take a guess. 10? 26? 3? And the correct answer is… touch me baby, tainted love… 32.

**I’m certain it is experiences like these that actually do work… “Tainted Love” marathons, mandarin oranges thrown across boardroom tables, team weigh ins. If you can’t be quirky with your team, then you just haven’t bonded. Ah.

Episode 74: Meeting Rooms Need Clocks All Over The Walls

I’ve been thinking lately about how much I dislike certain meetings. I don’t dislike ALL of my meetings. So I wondered, why don’t I like certain meetings? I think I spent an entire 26 seconds pondering this life-defining question. The answer came quickly: oh yeah, they’re the meetings that don’t end on time.

How hard is it to end your meeting when it’s supposed to?

There is a common theme in these excessively long meetings: too many people who think what they have to say is more important than anything else on the agenda.

Oh wait. These meetings don’t have a written agenda.

I don’t always have a written agenda either. BUT when I run meetings, I start out by saying, “okay, here’s what we’re going to talk about and this is what I want us to accomplish.”

One of my meetings started before our end users arrived. I told the developers in the room with me: “Look, I want you guys to help me steer these end users into thinking that their request is what we actually want them to request, and we want them to request this.”

It worked, too. They walked out thinking it was all their idea when we decided the best way to program this application before they even showed up to the room. That’s what they get for being late. Oh, and that meeting ended early. Wow.

So just because I like lists, let’s make a list of the reasons why I dislike meetings that go over:

  • Chairs in meeting rooms are never comfortable; if you make me sit in one of them longer than it says I have to on my schedule, I would like you to pay to send me to the chiropractor or to get a massage.
  • When you ramble on and on about your issues, I feel like you’re telling me, “hey Larrie, I’m really important and need all of this time to hear me talk because I think whatever input you have isn’t as crucial.”
  • The longer you talk, the more my mind drifts off and before long, I start drawing cartoons in my meeting notes of stick-figure-Larrie walking down some nice mountain path running along a stream with one cloud in the sky; it’s a picture of where my mind has wandered.
  • If I’m calling into your meeting from home, I would like for you to pay for the extra cell phone minutes I use listening to you ramble.
  • If you’re keeping me from going home, especially on Fridays (for more reasons than just because it’s the start of my weekend), I might never forgive you. Do you want that?

And just to let you know that there is a positive side to these meetings, I do have one list-item of why I like these meetings:

  • I get more time to draw.

Episode 73: Music at Work

My next door neighbor was complaining back when Pandora changed its website to limit the amount of free radio you could listen to. She was bummed because that was how she listened to music at work. I didn’t feel bad for her. I can’t even open Pandora’s webpage at work.  Those that rule our internet feel it very distracting to let us open that site. Letting music play while you work: definitely distracting.

No it’s not.

So some of the folks at work have uploaded a bunch of albums (you know the actual CDs you used to buy) to an old PC and hooked it up to the network to be shared. This gives me access to hundreds of artists, but the problem is: their taste in music couldn’t be more different than mine.

When I work from home, Pandora is going. It helps me focus. Turns out, music is strong stuff. It helps boost the levels of Larrie’s dopamine, the nifty little neurotransmitter that helps me focus. Can you open Pandora at work? I’m jealous. What are your stations? Here are mine, currently:

  1. Slayer (thanks to Dustin for adding that)
  2. Secrets (based on One Republic’s song)
  3. Braveheart (symphonic soundtracks, basically)
  4. Xavier Rudd Radio (Xavier and friends)
  5. G. Love & Special Sauce (heart it)
  6. Sergio Mendes Radio (a little culture)
  7. Let It Be (Beatles, of course)
  8. Madeleine Peyroux (yay Jazz)
  9. Frank Vignola (more jazz)
  10. O Holy Night (Merry Christamas)
  11. Savage Garden (sure why not)
  12. Muse (everyone knows them now, for good reason)
  13. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (for the “Mozart effect”)
  14. Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Sunday music)

I am not very original with naming my stations…

Episode 72: Employee Badges—Better Looking than Drivers License Pictures

Did you see 30 Rock last week? If you did, you saw Liz Lemon’s ugly employee badge picture. She was apparently holding in a “snart.” And it made her look rather hideous.

Who here actually has a decent looking employee badge picture, though? “Snart” or no.

When I first started at my company, I went to new employee orientation for the first two days, getting our pictures taken for our badges on the 2nd day. We were well warned to “look good” on that day. But do you know what time they ask you to be there for orientation? 8:00 a.m. So early. So on day two, Larrie woke up to get ready for work and decided she’d rather sleep. So I didn’t wash my hair that day. And when you have bangs and don’t wash them every day, turns out, they can get greasy.

And it was recorded on my employee badge picture, which also displayed in the employee directory, for the next several years. Larrie—the greasy IT secretary. Wow.

Maybe it helped me fit in with the rest of the IT kids a little better.

After a few years, I was starting my fourth position and my new boss came over to my cube: “Go down to security to get a new badge.”

Cool. A new picture, too. Oh man, I hadn’t done my hair today. Sigh.

Well guess what else? Whoever had set up the camera to take the new pictures had it placed in such a way that it made your nose HUGE. It seriously distorted faces, narrowing the cheek and forehead and basically blowing up the nose. Goo.

Larrie turned into the big-nosed, flat haired software tester.

Listen to me, companies of the world: Do you really have to have a crappy camera to take the pictures for employee badges?

Guess what company decided to change that? Turns out, the O.C. Tanner Company decided to invest a little bit more money in making their employee badge pictures actually look nice, even artistic. I am not lying. I heard from a very reliable source. Well, I don’t work for that company so I still have a big nose, but only at work. When I get home, it’s just a normal size. Otherwise, my husband might not like getting around a big nose for a kiss.

Episode 71: Ever Mouse It Up With Your Left Hand?

Some people are left handed. They apparently have to deal with issues surrounding this for the rest of their lives because they live in a world dominated by right handers. They’re the kids that smudge the pencil on their paper because their hand drags across the writing. They have to have special scissors. And apparently, they want to use the mouse with their left hands as well.

For the past couple of months, I just wanted to know what that felt like. So I put the mouse on the left side.

Actually, I did it because I constantly get a pinch on the right side of my back and thought it would help.

It didn’t.

I returned to the right-handed mousing world today.

It felt good.

Photoshopping was so much easier.

As was right-clicking. That just feels weird with the right hand.

I suppose that I could have changed the OS setting so that the “right-click” was a left-click and then my pointer finger would have done most of the clicking. Sounds like such an effort.

The entire reason of this post is simply to day: I’m a right-handed mouse user once again. Is there a club for that?

P.S. This is a cool movie. Totally unrelated to my mouse issues.

Episode 70: What’s Your Desktop Background?

Currently, my work desktop background is one of the pictures that I took on my London trip last April. It’s a pretty picture and I’ve stretched it across my two monitors using DisplayFusion (free software, hooray). Every 10 months or so, I change the picture. That’s just what you do, right?

Working in IT, we all have at least two monitors and people definitely notice what your desktop background is, whether it rotates often and whether you just duplicate it across monitors or you stretch it between them.

And when you get up to walk away from your computer around here, you always lock it, taking you to a screen that only shows your background and a little window noting that it’s locked.

That was a lengthy description to simply say: I spend all day noticing people’s desktop backgrounds.

It’s such a personal thing to notice. All. Day. Long.

And now to my story for the day:

Imagine Larrie standing in the office of several software testers, all of their monitors facing towards me because I’m in the middle of the room. The desk of one of them is currently empty because he’s outside somewhere. This means that he locked his computer and we’re all looking at his desktop background.

Everybody notices it.

Who really says anything about it, though?

But I looked over and saw something that I recognized:

“Hey, it’s Vabbinfaru Island!!”

The other testers in the room respond with something like, “No it’s not, it’s Mexico.”


They attempted to argue about how it’s a picture of Mexico because the guy whose monitor it’s on told them so… until I suggest that they look up images on Google of Vabbinfaru Island. Guess what showed up on the first page of results?

Yeah, that’s right.

The EXACT picture that was displaying as the desktop background.

Larrie wins.

Point for me.

Zero for software tester.

I went back to my office where my desktop background is my pretty picture of a house in a field in Oxford, which you won’t find in a Google image search because I took it all by my little self.* Go me.

One last note: I have no idea how I can identify a tiny island in the Maldives simply by a picture of it. I should learn things that are more applicable on a DAILY basis.

The end.

*Good sentence. Should have included a few more prepositional phrases.

Episode 69: Team Weigh-Ins

I said it as a joke.

Gordon and Kieron (the two others on my project team with me) were sitting around in our office talking about work when Kieron decided to step on the scale.

I don’t know why we have a scale in our office.

Gordon put it there.

I didn’t ask him why.

As Kieron stood on it, staring down and waiting for the numbers to stop, I said it.

“We could do a team weight.”

It was a joke.

I’m known to do that, ya know. To make a joke.

I was imagining all three of us trying to balance on the scale at the same time, probably grabbing on to each others’ arms, one foot each barely fitting on, and wondering why the scale didn’t say anything when the limit is 300 lbs.

Gordon and Kieron both took my joke seriously.

And agreed.

And that’s how it began.

We started weighing ourselves in the morning. And then what do we do with that weight?

We write it on the white board right above the scale.

People can see our numbers. Kieron and Gordon don’t care. I don’t care. I wonder, though, if other people care that we don’t care and do we care if they care?

What else is on that white board, you wonder? Halloween drawings: Bart Simpson’s skeleton and a jack-o-lantern.

Would you write your weight on the white board?