Big Red Snow Beast


Last night’s snow (or as I originally typo-ed, slow), dumped only about 4 inches on suburban streets in the area, but the traffic was horrendous and there were enough minor accidents to put corks in all the bottlenecks. And due to the way the east-west arterials around here are blocked by large tracts of parkland or shopping malls, there’s only a few ways to get between work and home. If there’s bad weather, or traffic, everything gets choked off at one of two places.

I started out pissed, as I had a late “hit” call where someone needed an exchange ticket issued by the end of the day, and there were technical problems getting it done. I call down curses and imprecations on high-mileage status travelers who upgrade themselves before the new ticket issues! But I was able to get through to an airline res agent (miraculously; it’s an airline that outsources a lot of calls to India)
and downgrade the traveler. Heh, that’ll teach them not to mess with their records… I felt very unsympathetic.

As I headed west towards home, I puttered along at about 5 miles an hour. It took about 30 minutes just to get to where I could turn off my “bottleneck” route to an alternate street that avoided the worst of the traffic. Then I had to navigate around some other obstacles, cut through a high-school parking lot to an outlet to residential streets that I knew of, and finally got back to a more direct route home. It turned out that my zig-zagging didn’t really save me much time, but it did give me a sense of accomplishment since I was moving rather than sitting in a jam-up.

David texted his location a couple of times… he started an hour before I did because he’s farther away, and it took him all of 3 hours to get home. I beat him home by about half an hour and had started using the Big Red Snow Beast on the driveway. It was still snowing pretty heavily and I had all my snow
gear on; boots, gloves, long down coat, muffler around my ears and face, fleece jingle hat with ear flaps, and had the faux-fur trimmed hood up as well. I was seriously rocking the Arctic look.

Of course, David had to take a picture. Fear the Beast!

(It is left up to the discretion of the reader to decide which is meant, the machine or the operator.)

I’ve recently gotten sucked into the time warp that is Twitter and was monitoring a few locals who complained of 3 and 4-hour commutes. It was particularly bad in the north suburbs, where there was more snow, no plows, no salting, and nothing but side streets and minor arterials that were all completely backed up.

I’m currently writing this at work in Wordpad while waiting for a call with my “ears” on, with the plan of sending the text to myself and updating at home. This is my first full week sitting with my new team, and I’m comfortably settled in with my new work-mates. I kept much more to myself on my former team,
partly because I’d formerly held a position that was between line agents and the previous team leader, and I was not popular because I was responsible for quality control at one time and was gathering data about error rates for each agent. That was years ago, but I sensed there was still some lingering… not resentment, but reserve. I wasn’t entirely to be trusted, I guess, and I didn’t bother to try to overcompensate by bringing in a lot of treats or being very social with everyone else. I don’t have this
baggage with the new team, and as it happens I work with a former team leader who stepped back to agent level whose company I enjoy. And I work with people who make me laugh and enjoy being here. It’s a pleasant change from my previous “anti-social” stance to actually chat with my neighbors.
There are minor drawbacks to the move, of course – there always are. But the compensations are: great coffee (they bring in their own bags of it and keep it in a thermos at one of the desks) and great cameraderie. It’s nice. Also, I’m closer to a window now that I don’t have to be hopping up and down
printing and faxing forms to hotels, and I have a view that looks along a tollway towards Chicago.

Currently, traffic is flowing. But don’t ask me to do constant updates. I will say that there’s snow on all the rooftops and the sky is a solid grey. Visibility is probably only a mile or two, and I don’t think we’re
on the flight path today because I don’t hear planes overhead. This may or may not be a good thing.

It’s kind of slow today. I haven’t taken that many calls. One of my mates from my former team and I send IMs to each other with questions and comments now and then, as we back each other up and she’s not physically located in the office. Now and then she sends funny emoticons and animated

I call this one “ZOMG! I’m In Crazy Town!”


It’s animated in the original format so that the background wobbles up and down, but I didn’t save it that way. My office mate sends me a lot of wacky crap like this. Most of them involve animals or weird cartoons expressing extreme agitation. I think there’s an underlying theme…

It helps to pass the time chatting, of course, but sending IMs is also dead useful when you can’t reach someone by phone, but they’re logged in to the messaging network. To ask questions like “WTF can’t these people put in the right format???” Both of us are crabby, perfectionists when it comes to formats, and unsociable; this makes us ideal IM partners.

Later, after lunch….

I continue to see more and more small signs of the bad economy. There are empty “big-box” stores on my way home, there are empty offices in my building at work, and just now I got waylaid by my hairdresser lady who said that they’re closing the hair salon downstairs. They needed to increase their visibility, and had lost a lot of regular clients because so many companies here pulled out and went away. It’s not a ghost building, but the trend is not an upward one. Anyway, she stopped me to give me a business card with the new address and phone number. They merged with another salon in the area and there are a couple of locations, but the closer one is farther to the east of me.

It may be that once they’re moved, I’ll get my hair done on choir nights, as I have about 90 minutes
to kill between the end of the day and choir, and this new location is not far out of the way to Holy Moly. So it could work out that I could keep going to Evelyn, because I like her and she’s willing to give me a simple, unfussy cut. And she likes long hair, which is a plus: some hair stylists are always on about “this long hair drags your face down.”

Dudette, I come from a long line of horse-faced people; there’s only so much you can do with a chin-length pageboy or an unnecessary (and damaging) body wave perm. Evelyn is happy to keep my hair long.  Done.

Actually, with short hair, I look a lot like Mr Crazy Town, especially without makeup. Let’s not go there.

Today’s weather has gradually cleared – the clouds that were overhead this morning are gone, replaced by mostly blue sky and fairly bright sun. It makes for some pretty shadows and contrast where the light is coming across the trees from the forest preserve across the way. By the time I leave, though, it’ll be dark. And I’ll be on my way to choir practice, so I won’t be home tonight until after 8pm.

For music this year at Holy Moly, we’re doing a modified “Lessons and Carols” format for Christmas Eve – for the later service at 9pm, that is. I’m not part of the earlier Family Service, thank GOD. It conflicts with work, anyway, as I’m scheduled to work until 5pm on the 24th. Bleh.

Anyway, the music will be good and lovely and I hope it puts people in the right headspace. One is especially good, as it’s not one of those standards you always hear: it’s called “What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter. It’s gorgeous, with floating harmonies that shimmer. Even with our few, poor voices, it sounds good. We’ll have some “ringers” on the night, though, so it’ll be even better.

Some of the other pieces will be effective – some are kind of required favorites, but a few are nice arrangements that aren’t just the plain vanilla versions sung from the choir book. One of the traditions at St Nicholas is for people to bring little bells to ring, so there’s something for that as well. We’ll have something for every taste, high class singin,’ low-class ringin,’ everybody join in on the chor-e-us.

On my mind in the news: the sheer gobsmackery of Rod Blagojevich’s hair, and the special hairbrush called “the football” that was carried by an aide, ready for any photo or video opportunity. It’s going to be what used to be called a “mare’s nest” of countercharges, questions about members of the impeachment committee’s own “favors and perks” for friends and family, and will turn out to be a giant waste of everybody’s time. Blago reportedly is defiant and claims he’s done nothing wrong; impeachment proceedings were being floated around the General Assembly months ago because he was seen as incompetent and an obstacle to the legislative process, not because of any of Fitzgerald’s charges. Still, they add spice, all those recordings of Blago (and his wife) dropping the F-bomb. I keep an eye on the news via the iPhone while waiting for calls.

Nearing the end of the day here, finally; the number of calls picked up and the afternoon went faster than the morning. Time is weird that way.

I’ll get grumped at at choir, because I was sick last Wednesday and still not feeling great Sunday, so I’ve missed 2 practices AND a Sunday, le horreur! but it’s never a good idea to run around in sub-freezing weather with a cold. In my experience, it just leads to the cold going into a sinus infection or bronchitis, so I’ll take the dirty looks in my direction, because I got over the cold without further ado (or catarrh).

UPDATE: Made it home safely after choir practice. We sounded awful, not sure why. I think it was because Mary decided to rearrange us and we were “upside-down” musically (or more likely, sideways) and hearing a different blend. Also, it was time for Mary’s annual Christmas Hissy… the stress of the season gets to her, especially when we’re not sounding good after months of work (and after sounding much better in our previous configuration).

Also, my friend Kevin reminded me via Facebook of the very funny “conversation between Rahm and Blago” that was posted at dKos the other day. Heh. This is the best part of this CLEVERLY SATIRICAL PARODY.

BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?

EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We’d appreciate it, I’m not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.

BLAGO: “Appreciate it”? Come on, this is a Senate seat we’re talking about. It’s worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.

EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you’re asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.

BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.

EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you’re fucking joking.

BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?

HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?

BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?

[Whirring, shredder noise]

HARRIS (muffled): I did.

EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?

BLAGO: It’s in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.

EMANUEL: Hold on a sec — you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?

BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You’re shit, you hear me? Don’t come back to Chicago Rahm, it’s not your town any more.

EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.

Also also, more holiday-themed “heh.”

funny pictures of cats with captions
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