Bad Stuff – Got the Jimmy Legs

Bad Stuff

Edmund

Edmund and George

Edmund came to us from Staten Island, a TNR recipient who couldn't return to his godforsaken turf. He remained with Empty Cages Collective for nearly seven months while they tried to find a place for him. We assimilated him into our group and he flourished. He loved our cats and was soon one of the family. Always energetic and friendly, it was hard to remember he was at least 8 years old when we brought him over, and possibly older. That's already pretty old for a feral cat. (more…)

The Finish Line

I'm a couple of days away from employment freedom and financial slavery. Work has dried up nicely, most of my work has been farmed out to people around the globe, or just forgotten entirely. I have about a day and a half of official workday left, and then on Friday I have to come in to dump all my office gear and then I fly the coop.

I just picked up my own cell phone to replace the Blackberry they let me use for the past year. I'm gonna miss it, especially the whole not-paying for anything on it. I decided to go with a pay-as-you-go plan from Virgin, as my calculations put it at the absolute cheapest for the best service. So far that has been sort of true.

I am on my 2nd phone so far, the first one had a defective camera, so they just gave me another. This one seems to be having trouble running its applications, giving me lovely Java errors when I try to access the Email program. Yes, I'm getting a bunch of non-phone related stuff on this, if only because I would like to continue to appear to be a "with it" with my "finger" on the "pulse" of something. Which is hard when the damn thing won't work.

So it looks like it's back again to Radio Shack for me! It has dawned on me that perhaps the root of the problem is that I shouldn't have gone in that godforsaken store in the first place. Radio Shack has been in decline since kids stopped building crystal radio sets, and in their death rattle they decided to become glorified cell phone stores. And yet, they can't even seem to get that right. Why is it still so hard to get things that just work when you purchase them? Everything has to be riddled with issues and no one knows how to fix them.

They will invariably just give me another phone, which probably has something wrong with it as well. I have 1.5 days to get a working phone (the Radio Shack is right across the street from my office). After that, god help us all.

I'm going out for drinks with the ladies of my office today, though, that should be pretty interesting.

You're gonna make it after all

"Do you sell bags of gum?"

The question was pointed towards me, standing in the 'gum' aisle at Walgreen's, trying to decide what bizarre flavor of sugarless gum I would most desired (today it's "Mango Surf"). I turned to the woman and replied, "Um … I don't work here …" She apologized, adding how annoying it must be to be mistaken for a drugstore employee. But considering my situation these days, is it really?

I was wearing a tie, as I am forced to do in the office, and I was standing next to a cart full of candy meant for restocking the shelves, so maybe I looked like an earnest go-getter from a previous era. The astute casual anthropologist will note the staff at Walgreen's wears drab polo-style shirts with the company name on it; I was wearing a dark green shirt and a skinny tie I bought in 1993. Maybe I just look like the kind of guy who should be working in a Walgreen's.

I thought of retorting something witty to the woman, like "Well I may not work at Walgreen's but boy, can I market to the older, ultra-affluent set. And their wealthy, layabout children." But I held my tongue. What skills have I gained from my time at this office, what will I take with me to a potential new employer?

I was talking with my coworkers (also soon-to-be laid off) and we determined that all the people we hate in the office are those who do the least, foisting their rightful work onto our more capable shoulders, simply because they outrank us. And as that Dilbert guy noted years ago, the stupidest people really do seem to be the ones who are pushed to the top of the management chain, where as Scott Adams says "they can do the least harm." People with true skills stay mired at the bottom, where they prop up the company's infrastructure. I fear I've been getting pushed into dumbening for several years now.

I've been at this job, in one form or another for over 9 years now. I have the word "director" in my job title. I, as previously noted, wear a tie to work. But what skills do I have? When I first got here I was semi-skilled, with a knowledge of hand-coding HTML and such, which at the time was still something in demand. Now my skillset has atrophied, as I spent valuable programming time on conference calls, flying back and forth to Asia to have pointless meetings with people who would later fire me only because I live in New York and they found this somehow distasteful.

Legions of nerds have come since; they have learned many programming languages as well as the other skills at which I was sort of adept at once, like Photoshop and Quark Xpress (I mean 'InDesign,' apparently no one uses Quark anymore!) Meanwhile I was filling out a Business Requirements Document and sending pestering emails to the regional marketing contacts asking them to update their office list for the website. I can think of ways to render this on a resume, but it fills me with shame to do so.

Plus I'm not even sure I want to continue down this path. Ironically, a fairly well-paid position as a Project Manager might be easier for me to get at this point than the modest remuneration of the semi-skilled 'web grunt' jobs of yore. Maybe I should shoot for that Walgreen's job!

Note: I have 8 days left at this job!

Tender prey


The Bad Mom

Along with all the usual stuff going on, a cat we had recently trapped for TNR gave birth on Tuesday. We knew she had been pregnant but didn't know how far along she was. The two kittens she produced were clearly premature, I'm not sure by how much. One was stillborn, but the other was still alive. However, the mother cat wasn't being motherly at all, preferring to get as far from the kitten as possible.

We moved them into a room to try to lessen the cat's stress level (stress is probably what mad her give birth early, so we thought stress may have been keeping her from taking care of her kitten. Well, the mom cat didn't change her tune, she just hid behind a futon. I don't know when the kitten was actually born but the situation was getting dire. We set up a box with a heating pad under a towel and tucked him in. I ran off to get kitten formula. When I got back I got him to consume a syringe full (the kitten bottle was way too big). Newborns need formula every couple of hours so I started setting my alarm. The first few feedings went well; he was eating 2 or 3 syringes full (it was difficult to tell when he was full, but he would sort of turn his nose up to let me know). I tried 'burping' him but who knows if I got that right. Finally I had to rub his genitals with a damp cotton ball to get him to 'eliminate.' Nothing really came out, but he also had been hours born without food, so I figured I would let it slide.

At around 4am I got up to feed him. He felt warm but I knew something was wrong, as he wasn't squirmy and he felt limp. His warmth had come from the heating pad; he had died. It was pretty clear he hadn't made it, but honestly it's hard to tell with such a young kitten. I've seen newborn kittens, and this guy was probably a week away from even that level. He had no fur and could barely move by himself. The thought of him managing to find his mother's nipple to latch onto, even if she had been accommodating, seemed impossible. So maybe it wasn't all that surprising. But it's still kind of sad, the little fella didn't have much of a chance.

It's possible the mother cat rejected him because she knew this; it's also possible the mother cat still has more kittens inside her, that will be born at the right time. I'm not sure what this means as she is scheduled to be spayed on Friday. This is always a touchy area for TNR advocates. We want to improve the quality of life for cats that are here now; part of this involves sterilizing cats to prevent future cats further crowding their environment. But what do you do when a cat is so far along that her kittens can survive? This makes me imagine all manner of gross surgical situations with kittens, but I'll leave that to the real vets.

Anyway, it's still disappointing we were able to save the kitten, but we have so many other cats to take care of it would have been insurmountable to do it all. Still, if we encounter any more rejected kittens, we now have a big supply of kitten formula and a little know-how which we may put to good use.

You just haven't earned it yet

It always feels weird working on September 11. I know stuff is going on, and the President probably had a moment of silence or something. But I dunno, shouldn't we have the day off or something? I guess we didn't get Pearl Harbor Day off, but I sometimes feel like there is a palpable push against making today into something 'special,' as though acknowledging what happened too much makes it look like we're actually still bothered by it. It's like Canada would lean down and say "Come on, you're still whining about that? Get over it."