Recently in Work Category

The batteries are dead

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I've been off from work for just over 14 days, part of that time was spent abroad (Egypt) far away from work, so one would assume my batteries are fully charged and I'm ready to start anew today.

Quite the contrary : I've not slept a minute peacefully because my brain wouldn't stop trying to wrap around all the crap my colleague briefed me on yesterday, and this morning around 5:15AM I'm faced with the first problem already, even before I started.

I really should hand everything in and go find something else to do, this is getting bloody insane.

I may write up a holiday post later, if I find the time for it, this week seems to be pretty busy already.

One of those days

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Some days you walk into the office, having planned and laid out the day, meetings, reporting, evaluations, you name it. And then suddenly the bomb drops and before you know it 15 minutes later you're en route to a national meeting with the complete operations team, CEO's, COO's, HR etc. Today was one of those days. While the news itself is rather surprising, I am handling it like any other issue that I face ever so often : calm and without panic.

What the future brings will remain to be seen, but I am rather optimistic for now and I see a load of opportunities ahead. Oh, and challenges :)

Long days - long term benefits?

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I currently have no less than three computers running, two of which are my own, and then I've got the work laptop open as well. I'm working on some reports that need to get finished, some future goals that need to be defined, while doing calculations and projections both work related as well as personal.

While it may seem like a ton of work to be doing at 10PM on a Monday evening - after an 11h working day that is - I don't really mind. Somehow I realize that I need to wrap most of it up by Wednesday this week in order to get things rolling.

Yes, exciting times in a way, while rather uncertain ones as well. There is good news to be shared as well though : I received proof that I'm now officially holder of a "Bekwaamheidsattest Leidinggevend Personeel Type B" which means I am legally allowed to have responsibility for over 15 agents. Which I already had for quite a while now, though with this course and certificate I'm completely in line with the rules and regulations as well. Phew. I was a bit concerned about one class I thought I had failed, but as I passed with a 75% average, I guess I did pretty well, even on that one :)

Off to do more calculations, send out mails and look into things.

Unbelievable

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Yet true... yesterday the sofa we ordered earlier this year was finally delivered to our home, which means we can now sit properly, instead of "sitting" in the "cozy yet too low and too small for adults" bean bags for the kids. When we ordered the sofa, the sales guy guaranteed us that it would take about 10 weeks to be delivered, which would have been perfect. We ended up waiting 17 weeks. Never ever trust furniture sales people when they talk about delivery terms...

Yesterday I got to spent the day home, vacuumed, took out the trash, played some World of Warcraft, went shopping for food, cooked a nice meal for Schattie and we planned to go out to the movies in the evening. In the end we just stayed home and watched the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Not exactly the same as catching a movie, but we were enjoying our new sofa, she wasn't feeling too well and was a bit tired too. Guess we'll be rescheduling that movie date for who knows when.

Due to circumstances at work, I'll be working 13 or 14 shifts in June, were I was supposed to have gotten rid of those. Illness, time off and such however mean that we all have to put in an extra effort, but we were able to give almost everyone in the group the time off they had requested. I can't say that I'm pleased with how things are going right now, but considering the issues at hand, I think I should be pleased.

I'm looking forward to my own time off in June, and I've already asked for another week of in November when I'll be taking up all the overtime I'm putting in now. Past two months : +35h and counting.

That's the update for now. I'm off to vacuum the first and second floor now, do more food shopping and prepare another meal for the both of us this evening.

Boom!

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Spent the day at a military installation getting an introduction course on IED's which proved very interesting to say the least. Learned a lot which will help me make decisions while at work, though it also made me realize you can't detect or scan for "everything".

Came home, entertained the kids in the garden, waved my Schattie out - more training for the performance on Saturday - fed the kids, gave them a bath (first time for me and I think it went rather well) and just put them to bed.

Now I'm gathering all my data so I can file my taxes for the year and I think I already have most of it, if not everything. Only thing lacking is my login details, lol.

Phew, really

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Luckily I was able to convince a colleague to fill in for me on the 26th. I'll still have to work the 27th, but it's better as nothing, right?

Stabbed in the back?

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Recently it has come to my ears that an official complaint has been launched against no less than 17 colleagues at work. Whether or not I'm one of those is uncertain for the time being, but so far I haven't received any registered letters, or had police officers turning up at my doorstep. Neither was I contacted by my former employer about missing items or things that were not returned.

Yes, apparently it is that serious. Two of my colleagues have already been questioned by police and I expect others to receive the same treatment shortly. What is most amazing, is that this complaint is being launched by our former employer, over 6 months after we've stopped being employed by them. I would suspect that if they had a real case, they'd have filed a complaint within days, not several months later.

Anyway, after talking with one of the colleagues that was already questioned, it turn out that it's practically impossible to answer any question or make a statement when you're not allowed to inform yourself about the actual complaint and specific charges. Hence, should police turn up here, or contact me, I'll be refusing to make any statement but "talk to my lawyer". Which I don't have, lol.

So if anyone knows a good lawyer that is licensed in Belgium and knowledgeable in employment law and security in specific, feel free to forward their contact information to me, just in case. I'd prefer one that is affordable :)

While the fact remains that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, even the slightest hint of investigation can cause serious issues in our line of employment, especially when there are clearances to be renewed, courses to be followed etc.

I'll keep you all updated if I can, either privately or right here on the blog, depending on how the situation evolves.

Struggle

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I've just made a couple of small changes to the schedule on the right, as I'll be swapping one extra night shift in and a 10h training day out, though that shouldn't really affect things too much.

Yesterday, I received note from my employer that the two days off I had requested in December - Rammstein concert - were denied due to operational reasons. I don't think I have to explain that I was (and partially still am) pissed off. They are incapable of correctly assessing the operational needs for next week, how would they be able to do so 6 months in advance?

Anyway, when the field manager showed his face and asked me how things were, I threw the letter on the desk and told him that he'd probably could guess, since his name was one of the underwriters of the declined holiday request. He claimed it was the first he heard of it, maybe the other field manager handled it... Doesn't matter to me really, I won't be at work those two days for the following reasons :

  • They waited too long to answer my request (+14 days)
  • I was not scheduled to work those days anyway
  • They have no case to claim operational needs 6 months from now if they can't even assess next months needs correctly.

Should they stick to their decision, fine by me. I'll claim operational needs at home every time they call on me to fill in for someone, work extra hours or come in early. Guess who'll run into trouble first? Karma can be a bitch... too bad she's riding with me, suckers.

update : I received a confirmation by mail that the decline has been reversed and that I'll be having those two days off in December anyway. (Goes to put Karma back in her cage... for now)

Too excited to sleep... or not?

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It's just past 8AM, I worked an hour later then originally planned and I just finished reviewing a scenario that has been written out in the past couple of months. I called in to work to give my feedback and view on some of the issues at hand and will shortly head to bed to catch some Z's. Tomorrow I'll be back at work around 6AM, Wednesday and Thursday it's late shift again, Friday a short 3h task is planned and Saturday and Sunday nights/graveyard shift again.

One would lose all sense of time and place with a schedule like that, but the sheer excitement and sense of appreciation drives me for the time being. Goodbye world, goodbye readers : I'm off to bed!

Three days, 30 hours

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I'm preparing my laptop to take it to work tomorrow so I can easily keep track of changes I need to make in a next version of the training document I've prepared. I just hope that I won't run in too much trouble when converting it from an Office 2003 format to the Open Office format I use on my personal machines.

Just to be on the safe side, I'll be heading off to work a tad bit earlier - as if starting at 6AM ain't early enough as it is, lol - to print out a few copies to work with during the day.

Three days of monitoring, helping and training a 2nd operator to be able to complete a number of basic tasks and provide support for the 1st operator, I'll have my work cut out it seems. I'll also be monitoring and evaluating a couple of other 2nd operators that have been working the job for a longer time now.

Working overtime

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I've just updated my schedule for the coming month and it sure will be a busy one. While I usually start out with somewhere between 160 to 168 hours and end up doing 170 to 180 by the time the month is coming to an end, the June schedule has me planned for a full 180 hours from the start.

Anyway, now that I've got the schedule, I'll be trying to squeeze in a visit to the dealership for a routine maintenance check for the car. (Done)

Note : While you may get the impression that I'm whining about all the (extra) hours I'm putting in the last couple of months, I don't really mind. It's just that sometimes I get ahead of myself and forget that every now and then one needs a break too.

Here we go again

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It's been a long but very fun day so far, and now I'm heading off to work a night shift. I'll regret it in the morning - hell, I'm partially regretting it already - but when people keep calling in ill, sometimes you just have to step up and do what's necessary : in this case, go work an extra shift (only the third time this month). Sleep tight everyone, I'll make sure things remain safe :-)

Can't speak, can write

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After having a cup of mildly hot tea with loads of honey and lemon juice, I am more or less able to talk without too much discomfort for about an hour. Too bad I always forget to shut up in time, or when my tea soothing effect has worn off. I guess more tea will be in order over the next couple of days.

Today at work I was appointed/offered/given a task that can either be deceivingly simple or overwhelmingly huge. According to my first impressions, there will be time for it (time=budget) but I don't know yet how much or when exactly. Over the next couple of days I'll be trying to find out what it is that's needed, what it is that is wanted and whether those two essential limits can be brought together enough to actually make things happen.

I am interested to take on the challenge, but I must know in advance whether it is doable. If not, it would just (another?) waste of precious time. More to follow later (possibly on the blog, otherwise just ask me about it in person).

Changes

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I've just updated my work schedule on the right, as I'll be heading off to work tonight instead of tomorrow. Seems they're - once again - having a problem filling in one position and I'm called to the rescue. Ah well, it's not that I had planned something important tonight, so I agreed to help them out.

I'll be up for a couple of hours, then head back off to bed to sleep some more before starting this extra night shift.

Working as a team

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It's pretty quiet at work right now, even for a Sunday. No doubt it has a lot to do with the fact that Monday is a public holiday and most people will be enjoying an extra day off from work. Starting Tuesday I expect things to get progressively more hectic though, reaching a height on Monday the 20th after which it'll remain busy till the 9th of May when the first shut-down should be completed. It is however immediately followed by a second unit shutting down starting May 16th till the third week of June. While these periods are always stressful and busy, this year will prove even more difficult due to a lot of newcomers that have but 3 months of experience under their belts on this site.

As has been the case in the past, some will quickly learn the ropes and find their own way, others will struggle for weeks and give up in the end and then there's always those who try to offload their responsibilities and tasks onto others. These shut-down periods are excellent opportunities to learn, improve and get more experienced which will make the everyday job much more manageable as well.

Note/update : I just got news that I've lost another team member for close to a week due to a medical condition that required urgent attention. Get well soon, buddy!

It ain't fun all the time

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For one reason or another quite a few people I met today were pissed off and not too happy. I also got rather disappointed in a certain someone which resulted in me stating a few changes that would be effective immediately, much to her dislike.

As if that was not enough, I was put into a situation where I had to talk to that same person again about something that had occurred, and once again I was disappointed by her response. In fact after hearing the answer and the way it was given, I ended the conversation abruptly and told her there was nothing more to talk about.

I'll be talking to my direct superior tomorrow - I'm going in early - to see what he thinks should be done. I'd hate to see a fine colleague be forced to leave the team, but I don't feel like letting people get away with things they've been warned about before either. I could have just let it all go, but I fear that's not in my nature : if my team members or I make a mistake I'm calling them on it, and would like to be called on it too.

Right now, I wouldn't even know what I'd do if I had the option to decide on the outcome, so I'll be consulting with a superior who will have to make the call. If you think that's an easy way out, think again. I will still need to face myself - and my peers - and be able to look them all in the eye with a clear conscience. Then again, I don't really recall the last time I've let peer pressure alter my own opinion in a significant way.

Shipped, Stripped and Clipped

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I just finished updating my schedule for the upcoming month and I'm not looking forward to it at all. Two early shifts, immediately followed by 3 night shifts, what the fuck? It's hard enough to adapt to that change with a day in between, imagine what it'll be now. For those of you that have no clue, try waking up at 4AM on Tuesday, followed by waking up at 4PM on Wednesday, each time taking into account you have to be focused and pay attention at work for 8 hours straight.

In a couple of hours I'll be making a road trip with J/M and T to visit some relatives, should be fun.

Getting annoyed with the fact that Dell doesn't update their order status page all that regular. My parcel was first shipped on the 24th, then the 25th and now it seems stuck at "in transit". I don't mind it being in transit by itself, but I hate the fact that no additional is made available, nor a shipping number that I can track. Ah well... they'll probably show up on Monday :(

Caution : Hot Zone

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I just finished a four day course about safety and did learn quite some new things and had other things refreshed. The course actually consisted of three days covering theory, laws, rules and regulations, while today was time for an examination and practical case we had to prepare for and then execute. The exam was a breeze (as it should have been when you had paid close attention during class) and got a 44/45 score but the practical application was something else.

We didn't even get to start the actual work - didn't touch one bolt - when our instructor cut us off and said it was ended because we had ran out of time. Even though we didn't finish the complete test case, we all got rather good scores due to the fact that we worked relatively safe and had eye for a lot of things we should have seen. The preparation was on par as well and we learned the valuable lesson that working in a hot zone is not a matter of doing things quickly, but safely. You can't risk taking a guess or doing things "about right", it just doesn't work that way.

Most of the mistakes made or issues we ran into were no so much safety related, but came down to experience. Ever tried tearing tape apart while wearing two pairs of gloves? If not, here's the answer : it's impossible. Solution : tear them upfront and stick them on your overall before entering the hot zone and wearing gloves. So easy but you just gotta know it :)

Conclusion : While I've not become the safest worker overnight, I'm sure everyone in our group has a better understanding of safety and eye for potentially dangerous situations, which makes the 4 day course worth every second of our time.

I'm amazed

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Incredible but true nevertheless : I just received my schedule for March in the mail, which is actually one day earlier as expected and even 4 days earlier as last month. My schedule on the right has been updated.

Work updates

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When I got out of bed I noticed a text message on my mobile, and it was a reminder that the bill for the mobile service hadn't been paid yet. I set out to search for the missing bill and finally found it, along with some other bills, yikes. Spent some time sending out payments to various companies but I'm caught up now. Seems like a good idea to focus more on keeping those things in order in 2009.

When checking my snail mail box, I found one letter containing a "updated schedule" for January. Erm, how do you update something that I hadn't received before? It doesn't look too bad, apart from one day where they expect me to work till 22h00, drive home, sleep and be back at work at 06h00 which is clearly against regulations and would leave me 6 hours to rest, not taking into account eating or maybe some relaxation after a long day a work.

Oh, and still no contract to sign. I wonder if it'll affect insurance and such in case something goes horribly wrong when I work on Friday night.

An interesting week to come

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January 1st and then new year is approaching fast and I'm still missing a contract to sign and a schedule to follow. The schedule (and contract) should be in the mail and arrive soon, even though the fact that it's not yet here is a violation of sector wide regulations in itself. Since the situation is kind of difficult and new for everyone, I won't be putting too much thought into it though and see what the next months bring.

I've also applied for online access to the site but so far my application has not yet been responded to. Taking into account the time of year with people off on leave and such, maybe not too surprising, but rather inconvenient nonetheless.

Bite me

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I've been awake for close to three hours, read mails, read blogs, went shopping, saw a whole lot of people shopping. Noticed X-mas decorations and things like that, yet I've got yet to have the first smile appear on my face. To be honest, so far I've done nothing but curse and be annoyed with every living and dead creature or object on this world. Yeah, I'm feeling very joyous and festive today. I wonder what's the reason? (Sarcasm fully intended)

In a couple of hours I'm off to work, luckily with some people I'm rather fond of and have grown to like (I may even lean towards "care for") and some that are really really getting on my nerves because fucktards like them ruin everything for others. It's the way the cookie crumbles, right?

Anyway, I hope to be able to put it all aside tomorrow when I'll be attending family festivities and get into the spirit. Here's to hope!

Up, down, shake it all around

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I certainly hope that this morning was the last time I had to get up at 4AM for a while, I'm really fed up with it! Usually I don't mind early shifts, nor getting up a insane hours, but combined with a busy schedule it rapidly wears one out.

The special situation I referred to yesterday turned out to be nothing at all so we received word that we could tune back a number of extra measures, but I'm already prepared for the next wave hitting us due to a certain video being released yesterday. It just never stops, does it?

Challenges

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No matter how things evolve over the day, getting to and from work will prove interesting due to the large amount of snow that's been coming down during the evening and night. When I left the gaming party last night around nine, it was already a quite taxing and slippery ride - taking mostly main roads - and I can't imagine the situation having improved over the night.

Hopefully everyone at work will show up in time as due to some circumstances beyond our control, we'll need every experienced man or woman we can get, and even with everyone present it'll be a challenge to assign them in such a way I can get the crucial spots secured and ready.

While I like and often thrive in special circumstances that demand the best of everyone, fixing a space shuttle with a broken spoon and a power tool stuck at 3000 RPM is hard, not to say impossible. I won't be fixing space shuttles though, that was just a figure of speech.

The bubble bursts

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Here's an update about things that are clear so far, but much more currently remains unclear.

On Monday I had a talk with the representative of the customer I've been working at for the past 5 years. We went over the test I participated in last week, in order to see whom of 4 candidates would be best to fill a position at the customers company. If all of that sounds complicated, let's say that I work in an outsourcing type of job, which may help you get the situation. To make a long story short, he was quite happy and impressed with my test, but I also made some mistakes and was not as complete as I could have been. Two of the other candidates have been selected to make it to the final round, for which I congratulate them. Things change and evolve all the time and it was made clear that while I may have come in short this time, with the progress I've made so far, I will definitely be in the running should a similar position open up in the future.

Now... To make things slightly more complicated, the company I've been working for for the past 5 years, has lost the contract with our current customer, and starting January 1st 2009 another company will be providing the services on site. So for the next month or two, we will still be working on site, while we know we no longer will be doing so in 2009, at least not if we decide to stick with our current employer. I have little doubt that both my current employer as well as the one that has gotten the contract may be contacting me in order to see what I'll do.

For the time being, I'll refer to them as Company Current and Company Future. Company Current lost the contract, yet didn't officially fill us in till I was called around 16h00 today. Yet the customer had already handed over a letter to the colleagues and I yesterday around 13h30. In other words, a third party had to announce that a very important change was to affect us all, while my employer (Company Current) didn't even talk to me till 36 hours after the initial announcement. To say the least, I'm not all that pleased with their communicative skills, yet it doesn't surprise me either.

I have no clue what'll happen next, but I suppose it would be talking to both Company Current as well as Company Future to see what they have to offer and what guarantees they are willing to commit to. And no, I won't be considering verbal promises, I want things in writing.

To say the least, the situation is rather edgy and most people are running around like a chicken with its head chopped off, which really ticks me off. Example : when we started our day at 6AM this morning we had a few extra people to which we could assign tasks. By the time 9AM rolls around those are caught up doing tasks that were not planned, and by the time I get back at my desk around ten, we're one man down and I step into what seems a war zone with people discussing and generally being very agitated.

Whether or not they were right or wrong doesn't really matter. What was clear is that there was a lot of talking but very little work getting done, let alone it was up to par with the requirements in effect. Maybe I'm excellent at separating feelings and work, or have mastered the art of not giving a fuck anymore when some weird situation rolls around, but I really felt like I was the only one still trying to meet expectations and getting things done.

Tomorrow is yet another early shift, but I hope to have some time this weekend to sit down with everyone in the team to figure out what their intentions are or how they see things. I'll respect everyone's decision though, just as I expect others to respect mine when I take it (I have not, and won't till I've at least have talked with all parties).

Off to bed now, I'm more exhausted then I previously figured.

And now what?

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A lot of things are going on right now and I have not yet decided how I'll be dealing with them. An update may be forthcoming later today, though it would mostly provide background information as even I can't see into the future.

8 pages, I tell you!

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While I don't know yet how I scored on yesterday's test, here's some background. Initially there were about ten to twelve candidates for the job as far as I know. Four of us made it to the actual test round where we were given 7 questions regarding various security topics and law and regulations. Not all that much you could assume, but it took me about three hours of constant writing to wrap up the answers to those.

I knew all the other candidates as we all work together on a (semi) daily basis, which I found quite relaxing. No surprises there as you know whom you'll be "competing" against though that definitely doesn't make it any easier.

I'll probably know somewhere next week whether I made it to the next round, if there is such a thing.

Go!

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This time the right 16th of the month rolls around and I'm ready to take a shot at a new future work-wise. The competition will be no laughing matter, yet on the other hand I bring quite some qualifications and potential to the field of honor myself. I'll keep you updated as things progress.

A wasted morning

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I'd like to start off by clearly stating that I think the right to strike is a necessity, and not a privilege. With that out of the way, let's take a look at today's national strike in Belgium which is organized to put pressure onto employers and politicians to make sure the wages an average Joe and Jane make keep up with the ever increasing cost of living.

I left home at 6h45 and was back home at 09h00. I was planned to have a training session today, which fell through due to strikers denying access to the plant where I work. A quick calculation tells me that 2h and 15 minutes of travel would cost about 31 euro based on the average hourly rate I get paid. Then there is the cost of the trip itself which is - based on official rates - good for another 12 euro. Total cost : 43 euro.

We're not even taking into calculation the resources and trainers allocated for the training that fell through, not forgetting it will need to be rescheduled. As far as I can see, my net purchasing power has taken a dip due to the strike, opposed to being safeguarded.

If you think I have missed something essential here, feel free to let me know :)

They keep on making the same mistake

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Thanks to some scheduling snafu - something that has never occurred before, really! - I had to work till 7AM instead of 6. When my site supervisor turned up and I pointed out that there was no team leader available for the early shift, the answer was "oh, but the client knows about it, and has agreed" to which I replied "very nice, but I have not nor did anyone tell or ask me anything upfront". I'm getting quite fed up with them just "assuming" opposed to asking/verifying.

Hence, my late arrival at home (07h45 instead of 06h30) due to the ever present traffic jams around this time of day. Off to bed now, so if you call and I don't pick up the phone immediately, I may still be asleep.

End of File

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The past couple of days, things have progressively gotten worse and no matter what some people try to change things around, I often feel like it's all just a waste of time. Once the ship starts sinking, the rats leave, which really makes one wonder who's the smart one? The furry little critters that try to swim to shore, or the captain who's trying to keep the ship afloat, only to be discarded when a new and shiny vessel approaches the harbor.

When people is what you need to get things done, it would be smart to reward them even if just with a kind word or comment. We never ever see our employer or their representatives unless it is to get our balls busted about things that were out of our hands to begin with. It's like getting the order to cut a piece of metal into smaller chunks and receiving a toothpick to work with. A blunt toothpick of course.

It makes me very tired and irritated at times. On the 16th I've got a shot at something new, though realistically speaking, I don't stand a chance if... I'm not going there.

Fuck you, loser!

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I just got home after working till nine AM instead of 6 AM. All of that because one colleague called in ill, though I'm rather certain his illness is mostly a lack of interest and nothing else. Gotta love those who take nothing serious and get away with it too. Good thing it ain't my call... It would have been his last day on the job, no doubt about that. It ain't the first time he pulls a stunt like this.

Zzzz... No! Stay Awake!

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I've been trying for the past two days to get into a night shift sleeping rhythm, but it seems I've failed miserably. I usually don't have any problem switching from early, late or day to staying awake at night, but this time I just can't do it. Strange.

Anyway, tired or not, off I go...

More, gimme more!

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A couple of phone calls later I know what my schedule for the next three days is looking like. I went from "a 9 hour day on Friday and the weekend off" to "three 8 hour days" instead. I love the way things are being communicated, that's for sure. When I compare my initial schedule for April with what it is at now, it turns out I went from 164 hours (planned) to 185.25 hours (effective). And the month ain't over yet, so who knows what will happen in that final week?

Anyway, a schedule for May should be available soon and that should bring some stability into everything once again - as far as such a thing is possible with a fucked up shift system as we have. It'll also allow me to finally communicate and plan the holiday that I wrote about a couple of posts ago.

Crash and Burn

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I just got home after my first shift in my new position and to answer Nadia's question : it was the hell, or at least something that closely resembles it. I'm still wondering how I managed to get anyone an ID to enter that actually worked. I'm still suffering from my headache, runny yet clogged up nose (try combining that!) which definitely doesn't help to focus on things. However, it is exactly as I imagined it would be : stressful and I often - if not most of the time - am not in control of the situation, which is essential.

At the same time, I expected all of that, and I know that as time progresses I'll grow more experienced and slowly regain control making the job much easier to manage. Anyway, I'm skipping dinner altogether - apart from a very light snack - and am heading off to bed right away. I need sleep more than anything else right now. Yes, even more than sex, lol.

The Aftermath

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I just finished a call with my site supervisor and the representative of the company where we are deployed about something that had occurred yesterday. When I filed a report about it, I already knew questions would be asked and investigations conducted and for very good reasons too.

Unfortunately, I was unable to help them out much apart from what I had already written down in my report, which was less detailed or complete as I'd have wanted, but I stick to facts in my reporting, not assumptions. During the phone call I was asked about time of calls placed and received and such but I admitted not being able to provide them with the solid info they needed. The good thing is that the company representative already expected that - since he knows how I work and report things - and that he and other departments were actually very glad that we intercepted the particular transport before it left the site and guided it back inside to verify.

Those of you that know where I'm stationed will have no problem thinking what kind of transport I'm writing about - others will have to trust me if I say that you don't want anything to go wrong with this kind of shipments, even if it's just incomplete or incorrect paperwork (which was the case).

All things considered, I'm not at all surprised by being called on my 1 day off, and I don't even mind. Responsibility is not something you shed off when leaving work and as my site supervisor told me when I ran into him yesterday : "when you take your job serious, it is very demanding".

Update 14h30: A second phone call has just come in and changed my schedule for next week. Instead of working a day shift on Monday and Tuesday, I'll be taking over from a team leader on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during late shift. More changes may be forthcoming, but I'll try to update as quickly as possible.

I don't fail. I learn.

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This may sound like a whiny post, but that's not the intention. It's just some kind of venting that ain't even necessary.

Left home at six AM, got home at 6 PM. Worked 9 hours, traveled three. Was able to get a very quick - uninterrupted - bite from 13:00 till 13:10. Had a whole three glasses of water - I drink about 2.5 to three liters of the blue gold on a regular day - and my throat hurts like crazy from dealing with everything that was coming my way today. But... I love my job and will only get better at it. I'm nearing the end of my training period (as far as I know) and the next weeks (or months) will turn out to be a challenge, stressful and tiring. However, they will not be a disaster : I've got enough experience in life and other jobs to adapt and grasp what knowledge I still lack. The need to constantly fine tune, lead and correct is not unlike my current/previous position, and I survived that too. No doubt I'll have cold feet at times, or take incorrect decisions, but neither bothers me really. It comes with the territory and those who fear failing, usually are first to fail.

I don't fear failing, as every failure is an opportunity to learn and do better. Falling down teaches you how to get up, and once you know how to get up, you start learning how to prevent falling in the first place. Life is a roller coaster. Ride it and enjoy, or get the fuck of the fast train.

Working towards a new position

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I'm in the second week of my training for a new position in my current job, and today was one of these days where you've been very busy all day long, yet when someone were to ask "what have you done today?" you wouldn't be able to give them an answer that makes sense.

I'm picking up new things, skills and tasks daily and some of those are very easy - especially as I already have quite some experience for my previous position(s) to fall back on - while others prove to be more challenging. I'll continue to "run along" for the rest of the week, but on Monday I'll be testing the waters and checking whether I can start doing the job on my own, with a more experienced team leader not far away in case I mess up or forget important things. I know that the best way to learn it to do it yourself. Today I already did quite a lot of the tasks at hand, but I still lack an overview of everything that makes up the job.

One thing that pleasantly surprised me so far, is that I find it to be more enjoyable than I expected at first.

Start your engines!

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When I woke up this morning - well, late afternoon, but if I'm working night shifts, my mornings are your afternoons - I was pleasantly surprised. Not because there was a sexy cute female laying next to me in bed - I really have to work on that dream to reality converter - but because my body was hardly affected by my nightly walk.

About two weeks ago I had walked about 6 km and ended up feeling not all that well the day after, but last night I walked about double the distance and my muscles were just a little tense, nothing more. I hopped out of bed, waved my arms around for a minute to relax my shoulders and was ready to go another round. It has been quite a while since I did this kind of physical work, but underneath all the extra padding, my motor still seems capable to cope with it.

Tomorrow I'll be off to the sauna in the (early) afternoon, which will definitely help me relax even more and when we're done there, we're heading over to Joco's place to have some food and see the kids and wife. I'm looking forward to it already!

Ouchie

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Today I worked my first shift again in the function I originally got when I first arrived at my current place of employment. It must have been over two years - if not longer - since I actually operated back in the field, and my body is sending signals that can't be ignored : ow, this hurts!

Lol, I was expecting that much, and in a way I'm rather pleased. Some movement and physical labor will make me lose weight rapidly and it puts me back in touch with the basics. Knowledge that has been "parked" for that long takes a while to dig back up, but I'm confident that by the end of this month I shouldn't have trouble with any assigned task anymore.

The result of all this physical activity is that I came home and crashed for just over an hour, or so I thought. It was closer to two hours, and I only dragged myself out of bed because I needed to decide what I was going to do when it came down to food for the next couple of meals. Either get clothed and run over to the store to shop for things to prepare myself, order in, or order takeaway food.

Guess what? Takeaway it is! I've put in an order large enough to feed an entire school, lol. Trying to recall what exactly I ordered - don't order food when half asleep - I may have gone a bit too far, but it'll feed me for the next 4 or 5 meals. Off to the Chinese takeaway I go, and after watching the news and some TV while eating, I'll be back off to bed so I get some rest before I wake up at 4AM again.

Ouch

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I got home this morning and had been running around for a couple of hours instead of going to bed coz I was trying to stay awake enough to go to a funeral service around ten. I didn't make it as I crashed around 9AM, only to be woken up by the door bell at 9h30. It was - assume - the mailman as I found an Amazon package in my mailbox containing the two Schwarze Nacht CD's I ordered last week. I headed back off to bed but couldn't really catch my sleep again.

Finally drifted off and was awaken again, this time by the phone around 14h30. It was someone from work calling in to see if I could work an extra night shift as a colleague needs time off urgently and for very good and understandable reasons. I was sort of looking forward to being home a full 2 days (Tuesday and Wednesday) - which would be a first since the day I started working this job I think - but said that I'd come in tonight and tomorrow night. This means I can't go in for a late shift on Thursday though, so it'll be Friday when I start working my late (or sunset) shifts.

Hell, if there are good reasons for it, I don't really mind filling in shifts and the extra night means more money at the end of the month - just less time to spend it in. Shouldn't be a problem with the festivities sneaking up on us soonish.

I'm going to update my schedule so everyone can keep track more or less.

Shit. Fan. Yummy. Not.

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I'm going to make a quick tour of the premises here to see if the storm that hit us last night has done any damage, but everything seems OK. Then I'm off to get some (or a lot) of food, as over the next 72 hours I'll be working 28 hours, not including traveling to and from work, which leaves little time, especially as there's a Sunday in that period of time (when everything is closed).

I definitely hope that today will be less stressful at work as yesterday, because it was hectic for sure. Around 18h00 I felt as if I had worked for 8 hours already and I was only halfway. Luckily shit stopped hitting the fan less frequently around nine, which allowed me to catch up with things before handing over the controls to my colleague.

Solving cases and defending solutions

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Today I was handed a case that outlined a specific situation that was occurring, and I had to come up with a solution, and present and defend the measures I took before a 4 headed jury. I had around 30 minutes to prepare and make notes.

Presenting and defending the case took less than ten minutes, as the jury interrupted me after I was done with point 2 out of 4. Apparently they were rather pleased with what they had heard so they didn't feel the need to continue discussing my solution.

Off to work now!

A game of chess?

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It may come as a surprise to some of you, others may have seen it coming...

I think you all recall the soap opera called work (see Whistlers and Clows, episodes 1 to a zillion), and things have not really become more stable. I went in for testing last month and while results are available, those are being kept from us for whatever reason some may have. Yesterday I called my chef and asked him directly what was the status on the test results, he said someone higher up the food chain was pulling strings and advised me to talk to that person directly today. I agreed, even though I've never met the man before.

Today The Puppeteer called in a couple of minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start, claiming he couldn't make it. My chef called me and explained. I replied that I would call the woman who actually administered the tests, had a talk with me afterwards and who would analyze the results. He agreed and said he didn't have any problems with that, so I made the call, only to be told that as long as The Puppeteer and Those In Charge 1 don't make a public statement, no test results are to be given out.

I don't know what game people are playing, but I don't like being a piece in game of chess, where someone moves me as they see fit. Other developments this week have pissed me off in a major way, and most of the colleagues in the same function seem to think alike. We're en route to disaster and the roller coaster is picking up speed, and if one more mail, decision or statement is made without thinking it through, the brakes are off and the conflict could become uncontrollable.

I'm not saying what I'll be doing - or rather what I won't be doing - but those of you that can make a meaningful sentence using some of the following words know where I may be heading :

job opening elsewhere conflict end final straw decided opportunity take

Oh what a night

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Yesterday's night shift went sour beyond all belief. It all started when I left for work and noticed signs above the highway that announced speed limits in place, and they normally only show when an accident has happened or there is a serious traffic jam up ahead. As I was running late a bit already, I decided to not take any chances and left the highway and continued my way through the city center. It usually only takes me a couple of minutes longer, but it would still save me time when compared to being stuck in a traffic jam.

As I left the highway and peeked over the side of the road onto the ramp below it, it was clear that there was no congestion to be seen! Anyway, as I had exited already, city center route it was... There was an intervention going on by the fire brigade however and all traffic was directed away from where I needed to be. After some turns and twists I managed to get back on my route at a point that was not blocked by police and I continued my way. I arrived at work late but still in time.

Then - and I already had a feeling that was about to happen - I had forgotten my password to log on to the system again. This is the second time in 4 days, so I called in for assistance to have them reset my password. This required some extra verifications and actions to be taken by someone else, but those got delayed due to something that required our immediate attention. A situation that would be easier to handle if I could actually log on to the secondary system, but you know trouble always travels in pairs, don't you?

Finally I gained access to the system, and was able to process the paperwork for the event that had occurred, but the whole thing had put me behind so much that I played catch up all night. A problem that I thought was finished and dealt with about two weeks ago also popped up it's ugly head again and bit me in the ass. More delays, but I think it's all settled and solved now. I guess I'll find out tonight...

Change of plans

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I was supposed to go work a late shift tomorrow, but I received a phone call earlier today from Those In Charge 2 to see if it would be possible to be at my employers HQ at nine AM sharp. Once our business there is concluded, I'm to report back to my regular site and work my shift as planned. It's gonna be a long long day, that's for sure : I'll probably leave around 7, maybe 7:30AM and get home around 22:30 PM at the earliest. I sure hope it's a one time visit.

I assume it's all for the best...

Update : After I was done at our HQ and was driving back home, I called Those In Charge 2, and it's good that I did : it turns out I wasn't working a late shift, but rather a day shift, so I was expected back at the site asap. Lol, the good thing is that I was done working at 16h30. The next two days I'll be working early shifts - different from the posted schedule - as one of the colleagues had something to do in the AM, so he'll be covering my PM shifts and I'll be working his early shifts.

Whistlers, Fraud and Bananas

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I've got some updates on the Clowns Whistlers and Those In Charge soap. Nothing terribly exciting or specific, but news nonetheless.

Those In Charge 1 is kicking around like crazy, trying to set everyone up against each other, but some of us are no longer buying his lies and half truths. We've all came to realize what game is being played and are no longer pieces that can be moved around at will. Those In Charge 2 showed that he no longer cares quite clearly today, without saying it with that many words. I don't blame him, as he's got better futures ahead of him, and why spoil anything when you can just look and see it all go to hell and not get caught in anything nasty? Not totally fair maybe, but quite understandable.

Jarhead has stepped up a notch the setting out of his peons and chasing his own agenda while still trying to look as if he does it all for the best of everyone (or the company). I look right through him, and know what he is after. He may reach him goal, I'm not about to oppose him because I no longer care. Last week he proposed some kind of action in regard to something that had been developing, and I bluntly told him not to stick his nose where it didn't belong and that everything was already taken care of. He seemed a bit shocked by my reply and how I told him off, but quickly recovered and said he was only trying to help - yeah, right.

Yesterday Cabana Boy called in ill, this morning The Man called in ill, so we were down some folks and Those In Charge basically told of to follow the schedule as it had been planned before, and that he didn't really care. Fine with me, neither do I.

Another colleague will be leaving us soon, and I'm not surprised. He hasn't been with us very long, nor will there be a lot of experience lost if he goes, but it's another nail in the coffin.

Those In Charge 1 is not yet showing any signs of panic, but I just know that he's freaking out because things are not going according to plan. We ain't playing his game anymore and he knows very well that there is little he can do about it. If he or the company annoys us even further, more people may (or will) quit and tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine. I can imagine that if one or two more people decide it's been enough, it all goes down the drain very quickly.

I've got two leads in regards to another job so far, and I'm keeping my eyes open for others. I'm not saying I'll take any of them, or leave soon, but never say never.

Unrelated, but possibly equally important : why doesn't anyone seem to care that serious errors were made during yesterdays elections? If only I could find out where to complain, I would do so. I've mailed a couple of people, but none of them have replied : they either don't care, or are gathering more information before they get back to me.

The world goes bananas, I tell you!

Clowns, Whistlers : underground

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As the plot intensifies, I've decided to stop using nicknames when referring to parties involved, or colleagues I've talked with. Instead I'll use nothing but a single letter or combination of letters to refer to people. It has become quite clear that the game played is one with very high stakes, and today new crucial details have surfaced. Details that will have an impact for sure, but I am unaware what impact. One thing remains the same though : some people are struggling hard to hold on to their position, move up, or avoid termination.

I talked to P. today and got a very strong feeling of general unpleasantness. Not so much towards me or most of the other colleagues, but rather towards Those In Charge. I also had a 45 minute talk with PDL and we seem to think along the same lines.

Sorry for being even more vague as before, but when "monitoring" of certain network traffic rears it's ugly head, I would be totally naive to assume no one is (closely) reading this blog. I will not post on this topic till it all comes to a close, or I am in such a position where I nor others can be hurt by my posts.

Passion/Anger : The Return

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I've got about 30 minutes before I head off to work - aka Soap Hell - and I'm gathering everything work and contract related I can find here. I'll be studying the details of my contract quite closely over the following nights, paying special attention to severance clauses and times to take into consideration when getting fired or quitting.

I've always stated quite openly that I refuse to work a job that I don't enjoy. If push comes to shove, I will know where I stand and what my options and rights are. Much of it will however depend on how "Clowns, Whistlers, Those In Charge (Part 3)" plays out. Expect that sequel later this week as I'm awaiting the outcome of some other meeting(s) bound to take place in the next couple of days.

It's been years since I was so infuriated and angry. Somewhere during the last century I took the decision to spend my time on things I could change and influence, and let the rest be. I was happy with that conscience call, though I felt I had lost a lot of my drive and passion doing so.

The passion and anger are back : I'm not one to shout and scream, make noise or tear things apart. Instead I will observe, calculate and decide. No warning, no turning back, no doubt - once my decision is made, I'll follow through with it.

I'm not yet at a decision making point. You'll know it when it unfolds.

Clowns and Whistlers (Part 2)

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Maybe trying to get this second installment of the story right now is not the best of ideas, as I just got off the phone with a colleague, and before that I had a long talk with The Clown. But... let me keep all that for later while I finish the story as it was up until a couple of hours ago. I'm too furious to see it all in perspective I guess, and I guess that's also what they are counting upon.

Anyway, back to the story for now :

5 teams, one of them now without a leader. I wouldn't mind working closely with The Tongue, or Middle of the Road. Jarhead and I, we can work together professionally but we'll never be friends or even close colleagues. The good thing is that we both realize it and have come to an agreement that works. He does his job, I do mine and we get along. Nothing less, and definitely nothing more.

That leaves The Whistler... The Whistler joined the company years and years ago, and has been working on the same job for centuries. He's very laid back, doesn't care much about anything and unless you ask him upfront, he won't give anything away. No one wants to work with The Whistler as far as I'm aware, and then team he leads is usually one that excels in nothing but mediocrity. Partially that would be due to the people that are part of the team, but mostly due to The Whistler not caring a bit. You know how one attracts another, and it all goes down the drain, that's exactly what happens when people move into his team.

The Whistler became a team leader because in the old days, that is the way it was done. Stick around long enough and in the end you'll end up in a position of leadership. Whether or not you're fit to lead, didn't matter. That's where The Whistler is right now.

If anyone was to be removed from his position, it shouldn't be The Clown. However, not everything that should happen, happens, that's clear by now. There is more to this story than I fully realize yet, and I doubt if anyone will ever know the complete truth since some people may be playing a very dirty game, even if they are not aware yet they're part of it.

Forget "Neighbors", or "Bold and the Beautiful"... The work politics at my job beat all the intrigues and backstabbing in any soap with two fingers up their nose.

Maybe this is a good time to start and look back at what I've accomplished so far, and where I'm heading. I've always said that I'd quit if I didn't like my job anymore. That time is getting dangerously close, especially if it all turns out the direction it's heading in now.

Sure enough, I realize that all the rumors and gossiping should be taken with a grain of salt, but as they say : if there's smoke, there's fire.

Keep your eyes open for... Part 3!

Thanks for the comment on the previous post, Nadia, glad to see that at least someone is wondering what is happening. Your comment about lycanthropes and wolves was pretty interesting, though you referred to the role and position of the Alpha Dog in relation to the pack itself, whereas I was more interested to see how the pack would react towards to the killer of their Alpha Dog.

As you probably realize, we are not a pack of wolves - though we can become one when the situation calls for it - and while there are a couple of options to replace the Alpha Dog (one of them being one of the pack becoming the new leader) I think we are not yet at that point in time, though it is probably not that far away.

OK, enough vagueness and crap now. Let's take this to meatspace :

Five teams, all of them lead by their own chief. I'm not going to call names here, as that would lead to no extra information for readers that don't work the same site as I do, yet could lead to trouble up ahead. Instead I'll all give them a nickname. The team of which I'm a part has been lead by The Clown up to two days ago. Then we also have a team lead by The Tongue, another one is lead by Middle of the Road, one is lead by The Whistler and finally the fifth team is being lead by Jarhead.

The Clown didn't steal his name : Young, often a bit stubborn and overenthusiastic he had run into trouble with Those In Charge several times before. Every time he pulled through and was granted immunity for his actions. While they may have been foolish or not well thought through, they never were malicious nor wrong. He knew his job very well, loved it, but refused to take it al that serious at times. There is a time of work and a time to play, and in our team those often coincided. We tried to take everything in jest, while still performing above par, and we usually had tons of fun doing it. Those In Charge often took offense when we joked and laughed in tense situations, but exactly that attitude kept us going and relaxed.

The Clown however, was getting fed up with the constant bickering and petty remarks and had been looking for another job for a while. He was even asked by a different department within our clients company to come work for them. Knowing this could lead to trouble, The Clown decided to only tell a few close people - basically his own team - and one Big Shot of the company that employs us.

Wednesday evening I received a call from Those In Charge 2 that The Clown had been removed from our clients site and was not to be given access anymore. This would probably only be a temporary measure, for they wanted him to meet with Big Shot. Apparently they didn't know that The Clown and Big Shot had already talked that afternoon and had set up a day and time to meet next week.They didn't know, or didn't care... who'll ever know?

I talked to The Clown later that evening and got a different story from him. He also had gotten a call from Those In Charge 2, but towards him they played it a lot more serious. When The Clown called Those In Charge 1 and asked for an explanation and some extra information he got the answer "I can't tell you that, blah blah blah" after which Those In Charge 1 turned the subject onto something else. The Clown replied by calling Those In Charge 1 "vijg" and hanging up the phone to get in touch with Those In Charge 2.

So far the story goes for now. There is more to it, but that'll have to go into another entry.

Alpha Dog

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After it being quite a tense and stressful day - see my earlier entry - I just received some even more unsettling news, that was rather unexpected. How it will affect everyone in the team remains to be seen, as it is quite unclear what the implications are on mid and long term, but it will definitely have a major impact.

I've decided not to inform my team mates yet as there is little hard info I can relay to them, and I'd rather do this in person opposed to by phone. While I'm not pleased with the current situation, I hope it can all change for the better in the long run because I "know" that we are a solid team that works as one and tackles difficulties in unity.

A few hypothetical questions :

- How does the pack react, when one shoots at the alpha dog?
- How does the pack react, when one kills the alpha dog?

Vegging out

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I feel like a vegetable right now, after a mentally quite tiring shift. Calls and alarms just kept on coming in, requiring attention, handling and closer inspection. Combined with the increased workload, we usually also have more people in the field to dispatch to those alarms, and while that may be good in itself, it also increases the workload as they need to dispatched, followed up and feedback received from them.

All of that results in a stream of phones ringing, beeps, calls and radio chatter - a stream that never ends, it merely slows down at times. When in a timespan of less then 30 minutes three additional situations requiring immediate attention were thrown into the mix, I may have yelled for a minute or two as I struggled to resolve one incident when the next one occurred. I've been at this job for 3 years now, and I've learned that it pays off to remain calm, but it's not always that easy. At the end of my shift, the three incidents were resolved, reports were filed and my colleague that took over was handed a clean - though filled to the brim - slate.

Right now I'm laying on my couch, and I'm going to pop in another Green Wing DVD and catch episode 4 of the second season. Too bad the sexy and every lovely Sarah Alexander left for Canada at the end of episode 3, I wouldn't mind seeing more of her.

I'm so lucky

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I got home about thirty minutes ago, after going out for a drink with the colleagues of the team at work. As usual, a very fun time was had with lots of laughs and jokes, often at other team members' expense :)

That's just the way we all are : we give and take, make fun and are made fun of... balance is essential. I love my team, I really do. (Now I sound like my team leader after one too many Duvels, when he gets all emotional, but he's got a point.)

More shit, other day

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Another stressful day at work, even though we are less "in the dark" as we were 2 days ago. The more time I spend there, the more I start wondering if some people actually know what they are doing... Which is, to say the least, very frustrating. I'll sleep like a baby tonight, because being frustrated and annoyed is very intensive and it wears you out rapidly.

Luckily I had a listening ear yesterday to whom I could vent, coz it was getting a little too much.

A Quickie

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I'm running like crazy trying to get as much done as possible, yet found a couple of minutes - nothing more than that though - to quickly jab down an entry here. I've been up since 8h36 and am leaving for work in less than 15 minutes. Work till 22h00 and then get back home after a - no doubt about it - stressful day. Repeat on saturday and sunday, though those are more regular 8 hours shifts.

Stay home monday, yes a full day, then early shifts till friday. 9 days of work and 1 full day off. Joy!

Something Fishy

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I got pretty pissed off at work today, partially due to a colleague - let's call him PJ - who still manages to fuck up even the most basic tasks, and partially due to a developing situation that we are kept in the dark about. I was not the only one who got quite furious over PJ's total lack of procedures, professionalism or understanding what the job entails, as when I walked in to take the shi(f)t over from my early colleague, he warned me immediately about PJ's recent stupidities. Unfortunately, neither of us has the authority to kick him PJ out for once and for all, and those who can do so either don't seem to care, or don't dare admit they've got a replacement that does fit the requirements.

The second issue, being kept in the dark, can be best described with an example : If you tell a doctor he's responsible for the well being of an ill patient - but at the same time refuse to tell him what illness the patient has - how well do you suspect the doctor will do? Do you think the patient will have a fair shot at survival? I'm one of the doctors in the dark, and it ticks me off in a major way.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, let alone the weekend. Unrelated, but since I'm on a rant, this can be added for good measure : If next month it turns out I got screwed over because of how my employer or the client chooses to plan things, they'll redefine their definition of "shit hitting the fan" quite rapidly.

Yawn

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A long day ahead tomorrow, and going by the weather today, it's gonna be a cold one as well. I'm so not looking forward to it, but then again, it's "only" 10 hours of agony, and then off for one full day. Friday, graveyard shifts start...

Update : I just got home and the day wasn't so bad after all. It was rather calm and I had a colleague to give training on the job so that kept me busy as well. My feet hurt and my back aches, but those are things that should be gone after a good rest.

New clothes - for work

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I just finished opening a quite large parcel that I received about a week ago containing my new work uniform. Much to my surprise, everything fits quite well. I've prepared three return parcels containing my old clothes, but won't send them out till January 1st as that could make things unnecessary difficult. If only they had put instructions on how to wear the tie in the box, that would make things easier. I know quite well how to tie a tie, but these are clip on ties and they don't have a string as the earlier ones, but just a clip that is supposed to fit in (?) or over (?) something. I'll check with my colleagues tomorrow, maybe someone figured it out :)

Oh, I managed to throw my puffy in the dryer so I'll sleep warm and cosy tonight!

One crap shift

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You know the adagio that is something looks too good to be true, it usually is?

I'm on leave from friday the 22nd till tuesday the 26th. Normally spoken I had to work tomorrow, but I found a colleague eager to take over my shift, and it resulted in a win-win situation : he had extra time, and I got rid of a crap shift, and would have 2 extra days off from work.

Today the assistant chief called me - while I was looking forward to being off for almost a full week! - and asked if I could come in on thursday. To work the same crap shift I just got rid off on wednesday. I'm not pleased at all, and even though I can flat out say no, I know where this'll probably end : me working on thursday.

I hate myself for feeling so damn responsible and willing all the time, especially because there will be nothing coming my way in a way of appreciation. Sure, I'll get a "thank you for covering this hole in the schedule" from my direct supervisors, but I'm getting tired of being a puppet on a string. We are short on personnel and things ain't improving. I have already covered a shift for someone this month, I don't intend to do that again and again.

I'm well aware that my supervisors are not to blame (completely) as they also just have to play the hand they got, but it's pissing me off. I'm seriously considering saying no and - insert idle hope here - make things difficult so they have to come up with a more permanent solution.

You can only jerk people around so long, at a certain point the string breaks or becomes quite inflexible.

Change of plans

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Luckily I got out of bed late today, or I'd have been forced to say no. I got a phone call from the dispatcher on duty about an hour ago - I took a shower and shaved before starting to write this entry - asking if I could work a night shift today. As I start my regular night shifts tomorrow, I figured "why not" and agreed to do so. When I inquired as to what job I'd be doing, the dispatched had no clue. However, when he told me the name of the colleague that had fallen ill, I knew what would be expected of me.

I'm not really surprised that said colleague has suddenly become ill - it's not the first and won't be the last time. Off to grab something to eat now and then prepare for work.

There are benefits to night shifts

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Outside a seriously stormy wind is picking up, leaves are flying through the air and it's rather chilly - autumn to the fullest extend. I'm about to head off to bed to enjoy the cozy warmth of it.

Ouch!

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This is no time to be awake - I'd rather be in bed sleeping. Sometimes early shift just hurts :(

Too tired

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Tonight's shift was "one too much" if you ask me. About one hour into the shift, I got a terrible headache and didn't feel too well, but I survived. Will have a very good rest now before I take on the rest of the day.

How tired is he, you may wonder? I'm way tired. Even if the stunningly sexy Tanja Dexters would ring my bell right this moment, I'd tell her to come back later. I'm that tired. See you all in a couple of hours!

Lol, I just finished some IQ test and scored a nice 124. Not too shabby for having worked an 8 hour nightshift if you ask me. Check Test Mijn IQ if you want to try it yourself.

Wonderful

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Ain't it wonderful to have your colleagues call you at 7AM after you got home from a nightshift, because some fool took home keys? And it wasn't me? Not only he took keys home, he also grabbed the wrong coat, to complete the mess. I just love working with idiots, I truely do. One has to appreciate the total lack of responsability some people manage to cultivate. Unforunately, none of this will directly lead to the one and only final solution : fire his ass.

Another drop in the bucket I suppose. Now... if he calls me while I'm asleep, whether it be on the phone or on the doorbell, someone will be in quite some trouble, that I guarantee. Let's hope he manages to find my address and drop the keys in the correct mailbox. That in itself may be too harsh a task to successfully complete for a dimwit such as him.

Sleepy

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Tired. Off to bed. It's been a long night, but luckily quite uneventful.

Work and Idiots

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I've got nothing new to report really, so I wonder why I'm writing this entry. Tai is playing around with one of his new toys, and outside it's raining. At least the heat is gone for the time being, and I'm not sorry about it at all.

Yesterday we had a unexperienced colleague in the team and after he did one of his tasks, I went out and checked everything myself. The task he was assigned wasn't even that difficult, though it was his first time doing it. I'd rather not have him around because although he seemed quite promising to start off with, he proves to be a man that answers affirmative when asked if he knows what to do, yet clearly shows he has not a clue when out in the field.

When one gives him tips or explains something, he doesn't consider it necessary to take notes. I have no problem with people asking me for help once, twice or as many times as necessary, but I can't stand people that consider my time and effort to be trivial or show no appreciation for it. He was expecting to be my backup tonight, but I made it quite clear that he'll be working the site today as well.

It seems I had something to tell you all after all :)

Home? Nah...

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Sure enough, I get back home after a long wardrive and a stop over at Bob & Hilda's place, and the phone rings... It is J., assistant chief at work, asking if I could work a day shift tomorrow (8h00 till 16h30). Normally spoken I'd have said no, but he had a pretty good argument : it's cool at work, which is true. And more hours of work means a better paycheck, or so I hope. And helping out here and there alows for easier leverage if I need something. So, off to work we go tomorrow!

Notice

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Yesterday sucked, today should be better. That's all.

Update 15h00 : I clearly forgot to take into account the impact of a load of people working on a saturday, of which quite a lot needed our assistance sooner or later. What options are there to handle a workload of 10 with a team of 5 but to curse and do what can be done with a miracle on the side every now and then? We could all have just said "screw this" and went home, but we're too professional to do such a thing. Unforunately, some people know this and would rather push us a bit over the limit than get more people to deal with the workload. Ah well, another day, another gripe I suppose.

Change of shifts

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I just got a call from the assistant site supervisor who wanted to know whether I'd mind working a slightly different shift than originally planned. Since it's only 30 minutes off from the planned shift, I don't mind, though I would have not minded working outside again.

I spend most - if not all - my shifts between 4 walls and a bunch of tv screens, so actually seeing some sunlight (or rain) would have been nice. Well, not tomorrow, as I'll be working in a nuclear zone from 06h00 till 14h00, overlooking a lock (and the operations with/on it) between two zones. As far as I know now, a deadly accident has occured in France, where someone was killed when one of the doors was opened and the was still a serious pressure difference. I don't know if the accident is recent, but it's good to know that our client takes precautions to prevent it happening.

Sleeeeep!

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I just got home from my nightshift 15 minutes ago. Some technical issues kept me working 3 hours past the end of my shift. My bed is really calling me right now... Zzzzz

Nice

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I just got off the phone with my team leader to check in on the current situation at work. Apparently things have gone from hectic, over crazy to completely insane. I'm looking forward to heading off to work tomorrow afternoon, but I'll have to call the colleagues one more time tomorrow morning to get a status update before I leave.

I volunteered to come in early tomorrow, but as they haven't called or mailed me today, it doesn't seem to be neccessary - yet. That's all I can and will say about it for now.

I'm gonna leave for work early today, so I can have a workout before I start my nightshift. I'm not really looking forward to it, but on the other hand, I felt so energetic after the workout on friday that I just know it's the right thing to do. I just remember that I have to look for some papers as well, because the site supervisor has asked for copies of them for some sort of an audit. I promised I'd deliver them to him asap.

Better get my ass in gear then. If I leave around seven, I can work out for close to an hour and a half, before I hit the shower and start my shift.

Big Brother

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Today wasn't worse than yesterday, but equally hard I'd say. Busy, but I kept things under control, and got through the shift. I'll be glad when it's tuesday afternoon though! The next days and weeks promise to be very interesting and exciting but I'll write more as and if I can. After all, there are things I have to keep confidential, as that's a requirement in my line of work.

Sunday you call this?

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Even though today and yesterday were "weekend" I worked them both and they were much more exciting than any other normal weekday. Yesterday there were some technical problems that occured, but as they were scheduled, it wasn't too bad. We had extra people on site to deal with things as they happened, and in the end we didn't even need them. I bet though that I they hadn't been there, things probably would have gone up shit creek.

Today everything was happily running when we noticed some thing out of the ordinary and took immediate investigative actions, assessed the situation, made notes and reported to the correct channels. I can tell you that my stress levels rose considerably for a while, til my colleague and I got things under controle as much as it was possible. I hope to hear more tomorrow as things are investigated further and others make enquiries as well.

It was a busy two days, and I hope somehow that tomorrow - in less than 2 hours that is - will be less demanding.

One too many

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Do you know that feeling, where you had one beer too much, one more pancake than you could handle, or made love one time too many that night? I'm not sure the latter exists, but the rest you probably are familiar with. Well, yesterday at work was my one too many shift. It had been rather busy in the afternoon and the second operator was not really up to speed, which means most of the tasks were handled by me. Nothing special, but maybe a sort of warning of things to come.

I knew there would be a drill and I was prepared, and as far as I know, things went smoothly. However, as these drills put extra pressure and tasks on our already overloaded plate, things got hectic and didn't cool down. While I was organizing tasks and people to get everything done, setting priorities, coordinating things and at the same time still writing a report about the drill that had ended less than an hour ago, the emergency phone line rang.

I dropped everything, picked it up, and wrote down all the details I was given. I started the emergency procedures required for this type of situation and while doing so my judgement was off and I made a mistake. All things considered, my mistake wasn't dangerous or critical, but there is no need to shoot a canon when hunting for mice. However due to that bad judgement call, I was flooded with calls, requests for information and I had a very hard time getting a grip on the situation.

When I finally completed my report on the drill and emergency situation - including the mistake I made - and I was about to send it out to some people, I kind of cracked and realized that sending out the report as such wouldn't be a good idea. I picked up the phone and called the assistant site supervisor to consult him, even though he was not on call or standby. After explaining the situation to him, we decided that I'd send my report to him, and he'd take a look at it before sending it to the customer. Not because what I wrote was incorrect, but maybe not as politely or professional as it could/should have been.

That's what happens when pushing people to and over the edge. If you want a professional team that can deal with everything thrown at them, no matter the situation or the time, you can't keep on cutting back on people and tools, while the demands rise week after week. Is that due to the policy of our customer, or due to the policy of my employer? My idea is that it is both.

Keeping busy

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It was a busy day at work, loads of things going on and constant organizing and reorganizing to close gaps, but in the end I believe we managed things quite well. Tomorrow will be more of the same, yet different. I'll be glad when the clock strikes ten tomorrow evening, as that'll mean no less than 4 whole days off.

I just finished having a nice fish meal, consisting of some salmon and a tuna steak. Now I'm gonna watch NYPD Blue before I head off to bed.

Earlier today I received a letter from the IRS, which I was kind of expecting, however the information it contained was not exactly what I expected. When I filed my taxes last year, I knew I would get back a nice amount of cash this year. Now it seems they've recalculated my income for the year 2003 as well, and until I get a letter about my income over 2004 and the taxes on that, I have no clue how it'll all pan out. So far things are looking good, but I sure hope it adds up to what I guestimated last year.

Turbulence!

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Yesterday evening I mailed out a remark to my site supervisor and his assistant in regard to new procedures going into effect today. Apparently today this has caused some turbulence as we had to sign off on the new procedure, which I refused for the time being.

Even though I only leave for work in about 30 minutes, I've already received a call from my team leader - whom I keep up to date on everything that affects me or people in our team - as well as from the assistant site supervisor. Let it be clear that the procedure itself is not the problem - I don't like all the details in it, but it is what it is and I'll have to accept it as such - but rather the documents concerning it. I made that clear in my mail and in the conversation, and I think things are resolved now. So, I'll sign their document and everybody is happy again :)

Damage control

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I just got a call from someone in regard to the recent changes at work and the frustrations it causes. As far as I can see, they're starting to realize that in order to change things around, you need to communicate in advance, and plenty. I don't know yet if they'll be able to undo the damages done so far, but at least they've started working on restoring calm and tranquility amongst the teams and teamleaders.

I'm glad about the call, as this gave me the opportunity to voice my concerns and give feedback. More as it develops.

Did anyone appoint a dictator?

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Shit is really hitting the fan at work and everyone feels like puppets on a string. The question remains though, who is pulling the strings, and why? Keep in mind that anyone pulling strings could be suprised by a sudden downward force taking down whomever being on top. Ah well, workplace drama, I guess it happens everywhere.

I'm working nightshifts for the moment and I can't be arsed for the time being to get too much involved, but that doesn't mean I'm not forming an opinion on everything said and done. What I find most revolting though, is the way everything is done : few to no communication but to those it affects directly, leaving everyone else confused, two weeks before most people are off on holidays, and everything will be going into effect on January 1st. Very smart reasoning if you ask me, yet very cowardly as well. Put down your foot, divide and conquor, lie through your teeth and make sure there is no time for employees to "regroup".

Off to read in my new books : "The Gift of Fear", "On Killing (The psychological cost of learning how to kill in war and society)" and "Brass".

What the Fuck?

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I just got a call from one of the colleagues at work in regards to a meeting that was held this afternoon. I don't know specifics just yet, but what I've heard so far doesn't sound too positive. I'm gonna go in for work tonight and I hope to hear some more details and only then I'll make up my mind. How the new schedules will affect me, or the people in my team is unclear, but I think many people will be either disappointed or plain furious.

The fact that once again - this isn't the first time - everyone is brought up to date through less than official channels, only adds to the rumours, making it rather difficult or even impossible to change perspectives of those involved later on. Knowing that we had a team meeting only last thursday and the subject was touched briefly but then dismissed as "not yet clear, nor decided upon" or "only going into effect february 1st" we are now facing facts. I have no clue how all this will pan out : it could be positive, or very negative. There's no way to know yet, but that it'll affect the way we work and how things are organised hugely, is certain.

Schedule updated

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I got a call earlier today asking whether I'd mind coming in tomorrow for a day shift, instead of being home. I agreed, and will now have wednesday off as replacement. Unless of course I ask to work that shift as well :p

In times of crisis

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keep this in mind :

1. stay calm
2. analyse the situation
3. stay calm
4. resolve the situation
5. stay calm
6. document and learn.

When applied to todays events it worked like a charm. When you go blind and deaf, extend your tentacles. Use them to feed you the information you need. Follow your intuition and gather information, come out unaffected and on top.

That's all information I can offer right now for leaving work over 1 hour later.

Moo!

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I'm all set to leave for work, but it's still a bit too early to do so. I went to bed pretty late considering the fact that I had to get up at 04h30'ish but I figured that since this was my last shift, it wouldn't hurt too bad. I think I may have been wrong : I've been tossing and turning all night long and probably have gotten less than 5 hours of sleep total, and I woke up a couple of times. We'll see how the day progresses...

I just changed uniform because today I'll be working outside, which will be a nice change of environment, yet a pain in the ass as well. There are more pleasant things to do but run around like crazy for 10 hours straight with your boss's eyes on your back all the time. Ah well, I won't stress too much about it and if traffic jams occur, that'll just show them the way thing are currently being done - more work and duties for the same number of people - is impossible to maintain over time.

Time to leave now and face traffic, see ya later!

Getting to work proved possible though challenging : a couple of spots on the road were so foggy I hardly saw the car in front of me. When I arrived at work it was clear that things were not expected to be "normal" today. Lots of colleagues present and hightened security all around. That's all I can say about it, for obvious reasons.

One of the colleagues was already stopped on the way to work (around 5:15AM) , but when he got out of his car and explained his job and place of employment, they let him through after handing him a union pamphlet.

A fixed schedule that changes a lot

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So much for being home for a full day. I just got a call from work to check whether I could do two extra shifts (tonight and tomorrow night) because a colleague called in sick for an extended period of time. As I didn't have anything else planned tomorrow - it is sunday after all - I agreed and thus forfeited yet another weekend.

Ah well... I could have said no, thus I don't have any reason to complain now. My choice, and at the end of the month, I'll be happy with my paycheck. One that could come in handy as I'm doing some buying and selling and testing the waters, to see if some of my ideas are viable.

Note : my shedule on the right has been updated to reflect all currently known changes.

Smart

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I am, really. I was planned for a total of 130.5 hours in september, so with a couple of days off of work, that would be really nice, yet result in a low paycheck. Thus I volunteered for an extra 10 hours (one nightshift and one day where I start a little earlier), with the possibility for another 8 hours on sunday before I take a week off.

I'll probably regret it when those days roll around, but I'll survive and have a better paycheck next month. Always have to think ahead :)

Off to work now!

+3

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Home. Bed. Sleep. Tired. Hopefully home earlier tomorrow. Zzzzz.

Update 18:04 : I have no real clue what day it is, but it feels like a tuesday. Below some entries I wrote yesterday night :

Playlist for tonight's shift :

Scala on the Rocks : Dream On (Limited edition with 5 track Bonus CD)
Madonna - Music
Missy Elliott - So Addictive

Two more nights to go, which is a good thing. I like nightshifts as they tend to be much calmer compared to early/late shifts and I can certainly appreciate that during shut-downs. It is still work yet it allows one to relax a bit. With relaxing I don't mean "feet up and party" but rather "enough time to get all tasks accomplished without being disturbed every 5 seconds for something new that's "urgent"", 8 hours in a row.

When track 16 (4 my people - basement jaxx remix) was done blasting through the speakers, I thought we had reached the end of the Missy Elliott CD. Imagine my suprise when after a couple of seconds (I was on the phone) it suddenly jumped to track 29 and out came a slow R&B track lasting 1 minute 44 seconds where she asks not to judge her on her music, yadda yadda. I'm not all that much a fan of religious blah blah. Track 30 contained another song : close to 5 minutes of Missy praising her love for the Lord, slow R&B style. Not my cup of tea, but hey... ain't it strange to own a CD for over a year (maybe even longer) and suddenly discover two new songs?

Off to get some food now!

Feeling like Santa Claus

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Yesterday was an interesting day at work. I usually spend about 99% of my time inside the control room where I have no windows, no natural light and no fresh air, so when I was scheduled for outside duty I was pretty pleased with it. A full day on a bike, out in the sun, lovely weather, I was looking forward to it. When I arrived at work, I spent the first hour or so working inside the main building, then I moved to assist one of the colleagues who was checking incoming traffic.

Around 08h30 I was called on the walkie talkie and had to call the control room who then asked me to start working in the hot (nuclear) zone. Which is inside. With no windows nor sunlight. Ah well... such is life I suppose.

I worked in the hot zone till 12h00 then had troubles getting back out because of a minor contamination problem wich was taken care of, after I could go have something to eat and drink. Went back in at 13h00 and worked inside till 16h30. My shift was supposed to end at 16h00 but as being replaced by a colleague is far from easy when inside a hot zone, I called my supervisor and discussed the problem with him, and we agreed that it would make more sense for me to remain inside. Then I had to find a way to lock a door from the outside, but the problem was that it is somewhere high upon the roof of one of our buildings.

I left the nuclear zone - no problem exiting this time - took the elevator to the top floor, then climbed some stairs and finally stepped outside (yay! Sunlight! Fresh air!) onto a different part of the roof. Up next was crossing various parts, climb ladders and stairs to ultimately arrive at the door that needed locking. I called my colleague over the walkie talkie to make sure this was the door we were looking for and proceeded to lock it. As I was walking and climbing roofs, I felt like Santa Claus - I only lacked the horse and the presents to throw down the chimneys.

Maybe next time :)

The joys of working shifts

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Last early shift today, which is a relief. I crashed yesterday and even +8 hours sleep last night hasn't really make me feel better. The headaches returned but I should be fine in a day or two. It seems the lack of sleep hits me harder each passing week. Off to shave, shower and leave for work.

Someone asked me when I was gonna blog from bed, but I don't remember who it was. Anyway, I am in bed right now, after a very long and stressy late shift at work. If I thought yesterday was bad, today was even worse. Some (hopefully temporary) measures went into effect to deal with recent developments and while those are not that difficult to adhere to, they do wreck havoc on the normal (if such a thing even exists) day to day way things are done.

Especially if person A demands we assign someone to a specific task, while person B gives specific orders to carry out another task. Sure enough, we've got etra manpower present during shut-downs, but if they are all tied down, that leaves us with nothing to spare and extra tasks to be completed. Add to that a shitload of clueless people arriving after hours that need loads and loads of things to be taken care of, you get situations such as today : my teamleader was supposed to come up and relieve me of my job for 30 to 60 minutes, so I could take a peek outside, smell the air and possibly even see the sun, but that didn't happen. Yesterday he was able to come up for exactly 5 minutes, so I didn't even get the chance to get off my chair.

Today it was so busy he couldn't come up, nor did he have time to eat. I munched down on my bread quickly inbetween calls and the phones just kept ringing pretty much non-stop. When I finally left at 22:15 - after verifying a fire alarm that had popped up even though my shift ended at 22:00 - he was still working on a report of a little accident that happenend. While no one was injured in the accident, it did take out our intervention vehicle, which will certainly complicate things for the rest of the week, if not longer.

Only 2 more to go, then I'll be home for a period of 1 day(s) - do you see the sarcasm just dripping off? - before I start 3 early shifts, 1 late shift, followed by an 11 hour shift (10:00 till 21:00). If that 11 hour day is anything like today, they'll have to put me in a straightjacket and put me away for sure.

Trip, fall, ouch!

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Sprained my right ankle at work today, about 30 minutes before my shift ended. At first it hurt but I refused to accept that it was painful or needed looking at. 5 minutes later I asked a colleague to take over and I headed to the first aid station in the building where I got an ice-pack for about 10 minutes and was bandaged up later. It still hurts a bit, but the swelling is mostly gone now.

I reported to my chief to let him know what happened but said it shouldn't prevent me from coming for an early shift in the morning. I'll be sitting on my ass for the most part of the day, with just one short 1 hour round later, so I should be fine.

I'm off to bed now, need some rest and I'll hope my foot and ankle feel even better in the morning.

First things first : thank Ash for the Legal Guide for Bloggers link she left as a comment in a previous post. I don't know why I get that link now, but it could come in handy for what I'm about to write next :)

More good news : I received my first ebay auction book already. Bought on tuesday the 14th, it arrived today, friday the 17th. Which means the seller was able to verify my payment, wrap and pack the book, drop it off at the post office, and had it sent out of the UK, into Belgium and delivered to my mailbox in under three days. Impressive to say the least, don't you think? Keep that accomplishment in mind as I switch to the next topic.

Remember a few posts back that I received a memo from my employer concerning our 281.10 financial statement? (If not, read here) The exact words of the memo relating to the statement were : "De fiscale fiches zullen allicht verstuurd kunnen worden vanaf 13 juni. Het gebruik van een nieuw systeem vraagt de nodige controles en zorgt uitzonderlijk voor vertraging. Uiteraard kunnen wij de gegevens pas verstrekken als ze volledig juist zijn."

A non-binding translation to english would sound like this : "The fiscal statements can possibly be sent out starting June 13th. The usage of a new system creates the need for extra verification and extraordinary delays. It should be very clear that we can only provide information that is totally correct."

Let's look at the different parts of the memo :

Statements can probably be sent out starting June 13th : Today is friday June 17th. A regular letter doesn't take 3 (or 4) days to travel from Linkebeek to my mailbox. Which leads me to believe that the statements were NOT sent out on the 13th, nor on the 14th, or the 15th. Sure enough - and I admit that - they used the word "allicht" / "probably" in their memo, cutting them some slack, because they couldn't be certain. Mind you... these statements had to arrive - according to various legal resources I checked - on March 1st 2005. Extraordinary delays = 3.5 months?

It should be very clear that we can only provide information that is totally correct." : The correctness remains to be seen, but going by their track record, I've got my doubts even before I lay my hands on the statement. In the last 12 months, I've had 9 corrections happens to pay stubs. Mind you, not 9 corrections in total, but rather 9 times in 12 months. I don't even want to calculate the success rate because it would be too depressing. If I had a success rate that low when I accept and deal with incoming alarms and calls, Belgium would be a nuclear wasteland by now. I admit though that I shouldn't sell the bears fur before I shot it (I don't even know that sounds OK in english, lol) but I have every right to be very sceptical, haven't I?

Now... take a look at the title and feel free to pick whatever word(s) you find most appropriate to go with the content of this post. Hey, I'm not making any statements here, I'm merely using partial lyrics of Thieves by Ministry ;)

And from that point on...

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Last night as I laid down in my bed, trying to fall asleep, these words kept going through my mind : "What we are looking at is Good and Evil, Right and Wrong". Luckily this morning when I got up at 4AM, I recalled those words and grabbed the right CD in my collection : Ministry's New World Order, and I'm listening to it as I write this. Yes, I agree that it may sound weird to listen to Ministry starting at 07:30, but hey... if you feel like it, why not? I also brought a AC/DC Live double CD with me. That'll be up next.

The day went downhill soon after eight, when everyone started calling in, required assistance several times and we had a small fluke in our systems that needed an intervention by one of our technicians. When I finally left around 14:20 - I normally work till 14:00 - they hadn't shown up yet, although at that point it became the problem of the colleague that took over from me. Not the best way to start a shift, I tell you. I hope tomorrow will be less stressful!

Rave-O-Lution

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I gotta shop for some food, then head off to work, where it could be a rather interesting day, depending (as always) on how things pan out. If anyone has been following the news the past few days, they may have read an article about Jan B. and his May 21st revolution. According to the article, we're a possible target for action. I guess we'll see what happens.

I got a phonecall from an old colleague yesterday, who had interesting things to say. I'll probably be meeting with him somewhere next week to get more details.

Off to shop now!

Song : Neikka RPM - Here's your revolution (Diskonnekted Extended Club Mix)

And suddenly things went BOOM!

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Today was rather interesting at work, so to say. What started off as a pretty regular and slow day turned completely when I found myself in the middle of a drill, that was totally unannounced. Well, clearly some people knew about it in order to set things up, but both my colleague as well as I were not in on it. Which in itself is a good thing, because in real life situations, you don't get a call upfront either : you just find yourself in the midst of a situation and proceed from there.

Thus I think we all learned something today, and after the drill ended, our customer asked me for a full report of what happened, what problems I ran into and how everything went. Less than one hour after my final report I received a reply and a small change was already made to existing procedures to prevent wasting too much time, and get more efficient at dealing with the emergency we trained on today.

All things considered, I'm quite pleased and hope to have more of these things thrown my way, as it'll allow me to familiarize myself with procedures quicker, and get more experience under my belt. Which is something I still lack, although that's not suprising if you know I've been in this job for just over a year, and in this specific position less than 4 months.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.

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Today was proof that no matter how "normal" the day proceeds, everything can change in a matter of minutes. Something unexpected happened today, and while we proved that security is much more than just a cost to a company, we also realize "mistakes" were made. Well, I wouldn't call it mistakes, but things we can improve on next time, or take into consideration.

Hopefully our client will allow us and assist us in reviewing the events step by step as they occured, and see where we possibly went wrong or made an incorrect assessment of the situation. However, one must take into consideration that it's quite easy to point out "errors" afterwards, whereas during events often split second descisions need to be made and those are then based on all available information at the time. Which is often significantly less than what is available afterwards.

All things considered, I think we handled things the best we could, but with room for improvement. As always, no more information will be made available, unless things are somehow made public by other parties involved.

Not again?!

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I've just mailed our payroll departement to get clarification on some things. Wait, who am I fooling here? I just want to know 1 thing : why the fuck is there no cash on my bankaccount? After months and months of problems with paychecks, it seemed to be getting a little better, and now this? Call me paranoid and extremely sensitive, but the least respect you can give your employees is to pay them on time and correctly. If that seems to be impossible, keep them informed and preferably do so in advance.

Depending on the answer that I may or may not get, I'm pondering whether or not I'll go to work tomorrow. While I know that not getting paid is not a legit reason not to show up for work, I've had it with salary related issues and I'm not taking shit from anyone anymore.

If no answer has arrived by noon, I'll call my chief, or the assistant chief and see if they have more information. Then I'll take it from there to see what needs to be done.

Update : My mail from 09:27 has just been read (10:50). Awaiting a reply...

Update 2 (13:00) : No answers so far. Just talked to a colleague who confirmed that others had the same "problem". However, he also said that it could be due to thursday being a public holiday, payroll probably taking an extra day off on friday to have a long weekend, and then sunday being a public holiday again. That can all very well be, but pardon me : it's bullshit. You know these public holidays are coming up, so you should get ahead, not postpone everything. If I have bills to pay - which I do - and a public holiday is coming up, I have to take that into calculation as well. I won't leave this as such...

Update 3 (13:30) : Just checked with my bank - it seems a payment has arrived. Still in doubt though whether or not I'll pursue this issue further.

I just got a video message from my godson Alex - it made my day!

Hydrogen

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So much for an easy day at work. I can't say too much about it, but there was enough tension, not to say a little too much. If you combine the title of this post with a popular hit from The Pointer Sisters, you may have a clue as to what happened. If you're clueless, too bad...

My cozy bed

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I managed to sleep in this morning - well till 05h45 that was, when my phone rang and I had a colleague on the line that wondered whether I was coming in to work today. Oops! Of course I was coming in for work, but it seems I slept right through my alarm, or turned it off and laid down again, resulting in arriving 45 minutes late. That in itself is not such a disaster - although far from pleasant - but that also meant my colleague had to stay longer after doing a night shift. Sorry dude, I'll try and make it up to you tomorrow by getting in earlier.

One more early shift tomorrow and them I'm off a full 2 days, on friday I start 3 graveyard shifts and by the time those are done, I should have been paid, and the month is already getting shorter. Time flies, time flies.

Quick Post - The Sequel

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What seemed to become a more relaxed day turned out to be rather eventful after all. A few minutes to ten, a call came in about an injury that needed our attention and thus starting up related procedures, something that always causes a bit of extra work that needs extra concentration. Then the phones started ringing like crazy for people trying to reach each other, but not having a clue where the others are. Sometimes I feel I'm doing more telephony work as I'm doing security, which to be honest, sucks.

I wonder what they've got up their sleeve tomorrow?

Boom goes the guard

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If I knew about today, yesterday, I wouldn't have said yesterday that my day was bleh. Well, maybe that sounds difficult to you, but in relation to yesterday, today was hell. A colleague that was supposed to turn up at 6 actually got in around 07h45, which gave us a fair amount of catching up to do, and even though today was saturday, it was more busy as a regular weekday.

Add to that yesterdays (unneccesary?) drama, some dumb contractors that manage to get stuck in elevators, their locations all messed up so that it requires constant intervention from our part and over a hundred totally clueless visitors for good measure and stress levels reached a boilingpoint way before expected. If the rest of my early shifts are anything alike, order me a thombstone with a RIP date somewhere in May 2005, please.

Short health update : I'm still suffering headaches and no matter how much hours I try to sleep, I can't seem to shed whatever it is that affects me.

Smell me

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Bleh - I'm glad I'm home again because today was kinda bleh, but I guess you figured that one out already. I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning and with another 3 early shifts coming up, that not the best of starts I guess. The day itself was rather OK, suprisingly low workload, but I must say that was overcompensated by the amount of drama.

To make a long (and complicated) story short : the way it looks now, people that do their job and do it well, will be "punished" because those that fuck up and/or don't care won't be allowed to do certain things anymore. Instead they'll be limited to the "easy" jobs. Well, gimme a break but I think that would be sending the wrong message. Ah, we'll see how it all pans out in the end, won't we?

I'm thinking about taking a shower because I worked outside for 7 hours and the weather was sucky (pissing rain, yet warm and quite moist), which made me sweat way too much. Sniff, Sniff, hmmm... nice odor!

So far, so good

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I did my last early shift for the week, and I'm glad. We had some "important" visitors over the past two days, and of course everything that could go wrong, did. However, after reviewing the situation, my guess is that it was more due to the people involved being idiots, as it was with any of us making mistakes.

A couple of hours ago I received a call from my supervisor to enquire whether or not I was coming in for nightshift on monday, as planned. Of course I would come in I said, but then he explained that apparently our client had heard something about a national strike in the guarding and security sector, starting on monday so he called my supervisor to find out how it would impact site security. I talked to a few colleagues after I got the first call, and it seems none of us knew anything about what was going on, but I dug a bit deeper and it seems there will indeed be some union actions on monday, however for now only limited to union delegates as far as I can see.

Anyway, I find it very strange that several unions would organize a strike in order to put pressure on the negotiations that are not going well at all, and then not inform their base about it. Now we heard from someone up the foodchain, who in turn got called by our client, who read it in the news (I think). Weird things, I tell you.

Tomorrow I'm off to Joco & Eef's place for quite a fun evening I think. Joco's cooking, and I'm looking forward to every second of the evening.

Gotta fix breakfast now

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Ouch. Slept under 5 hours after working 10 hours yesterday, and looking forward to 8 hours today. Even skipped dinner last night after I feel asleep in the bathtub. Add yesterday's traffic jam (+1.5 hour) to it and I'm starting to wonder if I'll even make it through the week. Yesterday was busy at work, in fact so busy it almost was impossible to keep up.

On a regular busy day (usually friday) we have about 10 or so weightings (on trucks coming in and going out) a day. Yesterday I hit 23 around 14h00, when a colleague took over. When I left at 16h30, we were up to 37 or so... I was glad when the day ended, believe me!

Mornings = bad

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Today, I remember why I don't like early shifts : you have to get up too damn early, and even if you happen to catch enough sleep, one feels tired. Only 3 more days of the same torture to go.

It was a fun night

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As I was doing my rounds this night, it was quite cold outside. When I got in touch with one of the colleagues in the control room and asked him for the temperature, he replied that it was "minus 3.5 degrees celsius". When I asked my balls, they replied that it was "minus bloody fucking cold". I think I'll believe my balls...

Tonight was a whole lot more quiet as last night was, but when talking to a colleague that was ending his shift, last nights' bad influence continued into the morning shift with quite a spectacular head on collision between two vehicules. At least one person was injured and even though I didn't see it happen nor do I know all the details, I'm quite certain that a head on collision doesn't happen if one obeys the speed limit on site of 30km/h (18mph). What comes around, goes around I suppose.

King of Fools

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Lots of drama at work, even though I think we all saw it coming. On the one hand I'm quite relieved that it's resolved, on the other hand I'm still convinced it could have ended differently. Well, the past is the past and we'll have to move on, don't we?

Those recent changes do have quite an impact on next months working schedule though, making my shifts "bounce" all over the place. I'll be spending almost as much time adjusting my sleeping schedule as I'm spending on actually working. And that's only March... starting April we head off to a *very* busy period that'll possibly last till somewhere in November.

I managed to finish the draft of that paper on thursday and am now up to version 1. I think it only needs another read and possibly some slight changes before I send it off for review. It'll be posted online at one of my other sites as well.

Nice!

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I went to bed quite early, so I would get enough sleep to last the day. I laid awake most of the time, watching every minute pass by. I feel - and probably look - like I've had 15 minutes of fame sleep instead of the close to 6 hours I actually spent under the covers of my warm bed. This bears bad news when you have to work a 9 hour shift.

Night of the long knives

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Working Night Shift (Flash Movie)

Even though that movie is kinda funny, today I found out about something much less funny. In fact, it has made me realize that not all colleagues are as nice and civil as they seem at first. I'm not gonna waste too much time and words on it, but those of you that know me personally, also know that you can mess with me once, but not twice. No matter what, I'm not bringing to the same low level as this "colleague". I don't know yet whether or not I'll confront him with it, or just keep it in mind and act as if nothing happened but watching my six closely.

Or I could just ask him one single question and by that make him aware that I know, and then not bring it up ever again. I just wonder why he did what he did? There would have been so many other (better?) ways of handling the situation, without attempting to stick a knife in my back. Well, you made your choices, and I'll reach my own conclusions. That's the end of this sorry story, I hope you enjoyed that flash animation better!

The first time

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and I was horny nerveous as hell. What is he talking about, I hear some of you wonder. Allow me to explain :

Over the past few weeks I've been spending quite some time in the "control room", getting a better grasp on all alarms, actions, reactions and procedures that can occur. Today was my first day as Operator 1 - although under strict supervision from a quite experienced colleague. That's the reason I was very nerveous this morning... after all I had no clue as to what to expect even if I've spent quite a few shifts as operator 2 in the exact same room. It's just not the same when you accept calls and alarms and realize that every slit second decision you make is final, has to be correct and could have serious consequences when wrong.

As expected, operating the system itself proved not so much of a problem, but the thing that scared me the most was the incoming phonecalls. One can never even begin to imagine what types of questions we get, let alone where and how to find to correct answers to them.

The first four hours or so I was totally focussed, even stressing a bit, but as the shift progressed - and we had some action - behind us I began feeling a bit more at ease. I'm convinced that if I manage to relax a bit more, in due time I'll do fine. Serious adaptations take time, and so far it seems everyone realizes that I will need exactly that, and there is not too much pressure on me to jump too far too soon. Phew.

Fools

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Define "a few", or "a couple". In my book, that means two and if one wants to see if large, three or four. Why do I bring it up? Because I agreed to come in to work for a few hours, not for a full shift. Well, I admit I didn't work a full shift, it was only seven and a half hour instead of eight.

The funny thing is though, that I'm not pissed. After all no one could foresee that after the two first transports a third one would be done. Nor could anyone know that there would be an air contamination, delaying the third transport for two and a half hours. I certainly hope that things go more smoothly tomorrow, or I'll be stuck there again.

I blocked several roads leading to the path the transport was following. It was clearly indicated that you could not enter or cross, yet I had to "chase off" several people that either can't read, are blind or plain idiots. Not really the kind of people you expect to work in a nuclear environment, is it? Well, maybe they all took Homer as an example... One of them even started argueing with me that the signs that were used did not include pedestrians, so he was allowed to step over the black and yellow chain that blocked the road completely, and the "No Entry" sign wasn't for him either.

In hindsight, I should have let him continue and get his maximum dose of radiation instantly. That way he'd remember the exact day he crossed into a forbidden area when he lays in bed embedded in a soft green light surrounding him.

Fool.

Bleh

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Off to work in about 30 minutes and I think the day is gonna suck. Mondays (and fridays) always are crappy when doing this particular task, the day seems to last forever and to top it all off lots of rain is expected.

At least the rest of the week I'll be able to sleep a bit longer since I'm working late shifts, and for some strange reason I'm off on friday, which ain't bad but I'd rather have worked a late shift today and friday instead of a long dayshift today and having friday off. I guess I can't have it all, can I?

Hope to hear soon about the new and upcoming schedule which will be completely according to the CAO (don't know the proper english word for it), as it will probably suck even worse. Not need to complain about it yet though, lets just wait and see what happens. Lots of water under the bridge etc.

Glad

that this week is finally finished. Today one person gave me shit while I was just doing my job. I can totally understand him being tired and a bit irritated that I pointed something out to him, but refusing to cooperate and identify himself was not terribly smart. Luckily he seems to have realized that a bit later on, as he came up to me and identified himself to me. By that time we had already looked up his record though based on his location and the number of his locker.

When he ran into some problems moving around on the site a few minutes after my encounter with him, he got quite a preach from my colleague(s) at the other end of the line and he apologized. I just wished that he would have understood that I was just doing my job too, and I wasn't out to get him or piss him off. We are on site to serve the client and at the same time professionally and politely yet firmly enforce the rules as they are set by our client. We don't make those rules and we don't enjoy pointing out to people that they're wrong or offending those rules.

Ah well... I guess it's just one of those things we all have to live with and I know for a fact that I won't lose a minute of sleep over it. I did what I was supposed to do, but he opted to make a problem of it, whereas if he just complied I would have taken a look at his badge so I knew his name and let it slip. Him reacting as his did though forced me to take official note and relay the information to others.

Believe me people : making things difficult doesn't solve anything, for neither party. In the end you'll draw the shortest straw anyway, and we'll just have more paperwork and effort put in it than it all is worth.

Versions are important

So much for being under the impression that I would be home for a total of 4 days straight after having worked 7 in a row. As I was leaving this morning, I had the astounding idea to take a quick peek at the schedule for this week, just to make sure I still was expected to start on saturday morning. I was, but then I suddenly noticed that I'm expected to work 10 hours on wednesday as well... something that is not on the schedule I've got at home! Sure enough, the version I've got at home dates from October 28th, and the one at work is from November 3rd.

I'm off to bed now and I doubt that trivial things like working ten hours extra will keep me from sleeping as a rose something that sleeps well. Think of all the extra money I'll make. Yeah, right :)

Royally Screwed

Well, that was just my first impression, when I looked at the clock this morning and it said 05h45 and my colleague hadn't yet arrived. Officially we only start/stop at 06h00, so if he arrives at 05h59 there is not really a problem. No one forces us to come 15 minutes earlier, but I - and most colleagues - do so anyway because it facilitates an easy shift change, with enough time to pass information about expected, past and ongoing things.

Around 06h00 we called the colleague that had to come and relieve me of my duties and we actually woke him up. I was able to leave at 06h45, so I did an extra 45 minutes today. The bad thing is that it'll cut into the amount of time I can sleep, the good thing is that today is sunday, so I get 45 minutes paid a tiny little bit more as usual.

The best thing is though that in 13 hours or so I start my last graveyard shift, and I'm looking forward to being home again for a few days, so I can do some shopping, and find some time to play some more GTA San Andreas. Off to bed now!

On or off, decide, will you?

Time to hit the sack baby. One down, 6 to go and even though it was kinda busy this morning - starting a shutdown always increases the amount of people and problems on site - it wasn't too bad. Spent close to 50% of my shift outside, walking through the night and if it hadn't been for the two or three hours of rain, it would have been very enjoyable.

And something exciting happened too. I checked a particular place that is not used that often and made sure all lights were out and everything was in order. When I walked past it a couple of hours later, the lights were back on, what is very supicious in the middle of the night, and for a place where no one should be. I alerted my colleagues and went to investigate. It turned out no one was there, everything was okay. Someone must have gone in there to check on something and forgot to turn off the lights again. That may sound like nothing much, but it's the tiny details that often make the difference...

It was all a lot more exciting when I was carefully checking the corners and rooms, it almost sounds boring when written down. Such is life I suppose.

All fixed up and ready to rock

Finally had my doctors appointement today - we have to be checked every 6 months - and everything checked out fine. In fact, it was confirmed that I lost 5 kilo over the past 6 months, and my blood pressure dropped from 17 over 9.5 (which was way too high) to a more acceptable - yet still on the high side - 14 over 9.

I think that if I keep on dropping weight, my bloodpressure should also stabilize at a lower level, possibly even getting back to my 12 over 8 pressure that I used to have for the first 20 or so years of my life.

My blood's off to the lab to run full tests on it, but unless I hear something back everything is fine with it. Mind you, these are normal/regular tests and we all take them. After today I'll also be allowed in the hot zone again - when the job requires it of course - because I lost access to it a couple of days ago due to the constant rescheduling of that doctors appointement.

High stakes

Something really sucks, but I can't/won't go into more detail right now. Let's just say that whatever option I'd have picked, I would feel bad about it. It's not even really a matter of picking between two bad things, it's more a matter of how involved one (should) get(s) in a game with pretty high stakes.

Saving lives

And off I go on a course to learn how to save people. Two and a half day (20 hours) of medical techniques, handling stretchers, bandages and such. Should be fun, and even more importantly, come in handy.

Oh, the irony

when that same teamleader that called me yesterday had to be called himself today around 05h45. His first words on the phone were something like "oh fuck, hell crap shit". That sums it up quite nicely I'd say.

Two more colleagues in our team, I wonder if one of them will be late tomorrow - it would show some awesome solidarity, wouldn't it?

Oops

I was kind of awake this morning when suddenly my phone rang - I jumped out of bed, wondering who'd call me at 4 in the morning, as this is way too early for anyone to be up unless there was some kind of emergency. I pick up the phone, and hear a familiar voice saying "it's quite bad news if you pick up the phone at this hour, ain't it?", to which I reply "bad news, how's that?". The answer was an eye opener though : "well, it's 5h55 right now, does that ring a bell?"

Oops... I start work at 05h45 - officially only at 06h00, but I usually get in pretty early - and there I was, talking on the phone at home, in the nude (yay, too much information for some people, lol), to my teamleader. The drive to work takes about 35 minutes when there is next to no traffic and without including getting dressed, grabbing good, washing, securing the apartment, walking to the car and such. I made it out of my place and into my car in less than 8 minutes - fully dressed that is! I arrived at work at 06h45 coz traffic was quite a bit more dense as it is at 05h00. First time I'm late, but I think it still sucks as it means a colleague had to stay late. I plan on going in real early tomorrow to make up for it.

Not that doing so will help me recover the lost hour (45 minutes, but I guess they'll deduct an hour from my paycheck) but I think the colleague may appreciate the fact that he can leave early.

What else is new? I heard we (Team 2 that is) got a meeting with the site chief as well as with someone of the company on thursday, after our shift has ended and I don't really know what to expect of it. It's my first such meeting as I'm the new guy on the team and lets just say that there has been some frustration and irritation overall. Not that it really affects me, as I'm not (yet?) high enough up on the food chain to be included in workplace politics, which suits me fine. I hate those things anyway. I value people for who the are and what they do, not for what others say, think or advise me. Oh, and the schedule that was posted up till the 20th of this month has been retracted and should only be correct up till the 17th.

An upcoming - and delayed I believe - revision is the cause of all of this, and thus could change lots of things around. Next week three days of first aid training (monday to wednesday) and then I should be fully up to par with customer requirements.

Opens eyes...

Hey, I'm back at home it seems, cool! This means I made it through the day so far which is suprising to be honest. When I got up this morning, I already realized that it would be quite hard to stay awake, and staring at 24 monitor/TV's all day long didn't really help.

When my 8 hours shift was done, I drove over to a different site for an additional one hour shift, and since today was the first weekend I did there after they "stripped" it - those in the same line of work as me will understand - resulting in doing the extended weekend round for the first time. According to some people, one should be able to do it in 29 minutes, and to that I say fuck off, impossible!

The shorter round we do during the week takes me about 31 minutes, and todays extended one I ended after 45 minutes because my shift ended. I got up to strip 36 although I'm sure I missed some and got some out of order. I wonder why no one so far has gotten the brilliant idea to put numbers next to the tags, that way you can at least verify you got the correct one. You got to admit that (this is a fake description) "east basement emergency door Z51" doesn't say much when you're in a pretty large basement full of doors and rooms labelled Zxx. Sure, it's unique and precise but is it clear and understandable? I doubt it very much.

Apart from that, here's my take on strips : "use strips, get strippers". In other words, instead of actively looking around, checking for things that might be out of the ordinary or that need attention, we have to focus on strips hidden in the most impossible places in a building. Secure? My ass. Combine that with the "pay peanuts, get monkeys" fact and a strict time registration and you can imagine the gross result, can't you?

Earlier on, I arrived about 20 minutes early, had figured out a route that brought me through the complete building and could focus on what was important. I didn't mind starting early, even though I knew they wouldn't pay me for it. Now I arrive exactly 1 to 5 minutes early, punch in just in time and chase strips throughout the building. If the clock strikes, my shift ends and I go home, no matter where I ended up on the round.

They are definitely getting what they bargained for, and I'm not the only one thinking this way. If they don't want to invest in people but instead invest in "control and measurement/checking" the performance of those people - their capital and way of generating profit - it all becomes very counter productive, believe me.

Boring entry about my morning

As I left for work this morning, I didn't feel too tired, yet a series of events make me believe I was quite tired nonetheless. It all started when I attempted to punch out at work. I looked at the timeclock and noticed it was set to OUT - which is the correct setting if you want to punch out. In fact, I changed it to IN and then proceeded to wave ma badge in front of it, of course resulting in an error. I changed it back to OUT and tried again, but it threw up a fault once more.

I went back inside and had one of the colleagues check my timeregistration for me and surely enough, it didn't register my attempt to check out. Back to the clock for another attempt, only resulting in more failures. Checked at the front again, still no change. Back onto the site to attempt checking out at another timeclock, and after yet another failed attempt to check out, I changed it to check in, badged and it worked. A minute later I checked out. Finally, I had already wasted about 10 minutes if not more with this crap.

I drove back to the front and checked with the colleagues and it had now registered both the in registration as well as the out registration. Time to go home. Unfortunately, I forgot to badge out - all the other badge attempts before were time related, not entrance related - and I realized it while driving home. (Fixed that by phone this afternoon.)

When I got home, I found a parkingspot, not too far from my place, but as I got out I noticed some signs prohibiting parking from 07h00 till 18h00. One of them was turned around though, indicating it was no longer in service, but the other one wasn't. Instead of risking my chance to wake up and find my car towed, I backed out of the spot again in search for another one. Finally found one at the end of the street. Forgot my cellphone in the car, on the front passenger seat in plain sight. I didn't realize it though till I woke up a few minutes after 16h00 so I just walked over to pick it up and it was still there, no windows smashed or anything. Phew.

Off for my last shift in just over 2.5 hours - it's about time for it to be the last one for now...

Looking at violations

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Spent most of my shift in the control room again, gaining more and more experience dealing with all kinds of calls, alarms and whatever is thrown at the operators. I was monitoring a roundabout on the site and counted 21 traffic violations in under 3 hours. And those were only the ones I actually saw happen, because I couldn't pay attention to the video feed all the time because I was handling more important alarms.

I wonder what is so hard about driving correctly? Do these people also take roundabouts the wrong way around on public roads - if so, I never want to meet any of them out there!

I've got some gmail invites left. Comment if you want one.

I should have said no, right?

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So much for working according to planning. I was called this morning around 08h45 to ask me if I could go over to Dock 869 as soon as possible to work till 18h00. Foolish me said yes, packed his things and left to go sit in a container/office type thingy for 8 hours straight, without anyone relieving me of my duty in between. And checking the people that work at the docks is not that easy, as some of you might now.

In the best case scenario, they comply and show ID, other scenarios result in getting a middlefinger, or just look at you and walking straight by. A difficult audience, let me tell you - but sooner or later they'll have to start following the rules and regulations too. We didn't come up with ISPS, but are being told to enforce it.
Off to eat something now, entertain the ferrets and then off to bed to start an 8 day series of early shifts.

[Laughing with spam : Debt Consolidation with a Christian Perspective]

Seven down, one to go

I just got home from late shift number 7. Tomorrow I've got one more shift to pull, then I'll be able to relax for a while. I walked three rounds today, took the ambulance for a ride - just an equipment check, not an emergency - and we had mussels with fries (or bread) for dinner. It's quite enjoyable to have colleagues that also like eating and cooking.

Someone stopped by to deliver some clothing items, but the pants I ordered weren't in this delivery, and the pair of safety boots I asked for were a low model, where I specifically requested a high boot. I've got a low cut shoe, and they wrecked my feet in a matter of hours.

So much for planning ahead

Slight change of plans for tomorrow. I was supposed to go to work tomorrow around 13h30 - and start at 14h00 - but I was told to report at the medical examiner at 13h30 instead. It seems someone was able to pull some strings and move my appointement to tomorrow instead of on August 13th.

This could mean I get the results either tomorrow as I leave, or maybe early next week so I can get my drivers license adapted as well. Another step in the good direction. Only thing left then is a First Aid course I believe. I've done First Aid when I was a scuba diver, but I never got certified in it.

So I'll just head over to work after I finished all my tests.

Never a dull day

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at work, or at least so it seems. An excercise in regard to a break and entry case was performed and turned out slightly different from what was expected, but the most interesting thing happened around noon. As you may know, we've got Peregrine Falcons (Falco Peregrinus) on the site, and they've been breeding. Today, as I was on site, I suddenly noticed one of them, sitting on the ground near a parking lot. It made no real attempts to fly off but instead opted to hop around a bit. Even when I came closer - to a distance of about 2 meters - it didn't move a lot. As I could see that it still had a fair amount of fluffy nest feathers, I assumed it was one of the newly born birds on the block.

I called in to check if and what we should do about it, and after getting the right person on line, she said this "Oh, did he do it again? It's not the first time he comes flying down and then can't get up anymore. If you feel up to it, you could try catching him, put him in a box and take him up to the roof of *insert building*.

While I was definitely impressed by the size and looks of this magnificent animal from a 2 meter distance, I decided that I would not let a chance to touch and handle such a wonderful animal personally slip by. I agreed that we would at least make an attempt, and if it wouldn't work out, they would still be able to call in specialised personnel to catch him. I grabbed my pair of work gloves - I was warned that they've got a pretty sharp and powerful beak - while I send out my colleague to see if he could find an appropriate carton box. When he returned we moved towards the peregrine falcon and it hopped off between some containers. I directed my colleague to the other end, taking the box with him, and while the falcon was focussed on him, I moved around back and was able to gentle grab him.

Man, if it looked wonderful from a distance, being eye to eye with it was totally incredible. Slowly we lowered it into the box, and then proceeded to transport it to the roof of the building. We had to climb some alleys and stairs, so it was good that there were two of us. When we arrived at a good spot, we put down the box, I opened it up and picked up the bird again. While he wasn't too pleased with all the attention, he never made real attempts to bite or strike at me. I put him on my hand - even for a young peregrine falcon, he had some powerful claws - and then slowly put him on the roof. Mission accomplished and as we headed back inside, he kept following us, giving us the "don't mess with me" eye.

I called in to say that he was successfully caught and released again and the person on the other side of the line was very very pleased to hear it. We should keep an eye out for him though, because if he keeps kinda "falling down", it'll not end so good one of these days, and then another solution must be found.

All in all, everyone is happy I think. I'm happy because I had the opportunity to handle a peregrine falcon in person, the person responsable for them is happy because the animal was spotted, caught and released, and the falcon should be glad that he's in a more safe spot now. Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the animal or my interaction, because camera's are not allowed on site without explicit permission.

Who said that the job a security guard was boring and dull?

Vroooom

And off I go... even though I only start at 20h00, I better leave early because traffic reports show heavy congestion in the direction I'm heading towards. And I first have to make a stop at an other branch - where I've not been yet - so I might need some extra time to find my way around.

Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite

Where is the sun?

Today I feel no different from yesterday, except for the fact that it's still dark outside now. I'll be glad when it's thursday evening - so I can go to my sisters' place to help a few hands with moving things out. On friday I'll sleep in as long as I want to recover from the past week and then on saturday I'll have to start working towards changing my sleep schedule to accomodate a night shift starting monday.

Yay - sarcasm intended :)

Aaargh

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I really feel like saying "screw it all" today and just head back off to bed, but be the responsable self I am, I probably won't because it would result in my colleagues paying the price for my lack of sleep. I guess I'll just get ready and leave for work. Bleh!

Only two more days and then I get to be a whole 3 days off in preparation of a 7 day night shift session (64 hours).

The update I promised

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Monday started just like most mondays although I soon enough found out that it would kinda be a "pain in the ass" day. As I was making my lunch to take to work, I dropped the knife I was using, and various other things. I hoped that was not a sign of things to come. At work everything went kinda OK, at least til a few minutes before 09h00. As someone else - yes, not me - had dropped one of the remote controls we use to remotely control the access barriers in his coffee a few days prior, the remaining remote control had been reprogrammed to control two barriers at the same time.

Not really a problem you'd say, except for the fact that it's pretty hard to keep an eye on two barriers that are about 30 meters apart from each other, while you work on other traffic going in and out. As I had just checked and cleared a vehicule that was leaving the site, I opened the barrier we refer to as Parking Out so it could leave. Since the control works for two barriers, it also openend the Site Out barrier. So far everything was OK. I walked over to the Personnel entrance to grant access to some vehicules there and as I saw that the vehicule I had checked earlier was clear of the barrier Parking Out, I closed it again.

Unfortunately, this also closed the Site Out barrier - that was out of my field of vision - just as a small truck was arriving at pretty high speed. I heard a thump and when I turned and looked around the corner, I saw a truck, a severely damaged barrier that was halfway closed and completely bent out of shape. I processed the vehicules that were waiting to get access and then walked over to assess the damage.

The truck itself wasn't damaged too badly, but our barrier was out of order. Pretty bad, considering we use all four barriers to control what vehicules enter and leave our site. I called my shift chief to come take a look and handle the incident report while I kept processing traffic to and from the site. We can't shut down everything because of a bent out of shape barrier. Site Security came over to disable the barrier in an upright position and make sure the photocells were re-aligned so the Site In barrier would work again as well. What a start of the day!

Now, of course I was not too pleased with the fact that it happened on my shift - one could even say it was my fault - but even the grand chief of security who came over to take photographs accepted the fact that I couldn't help it. It would have happened anyway, even if someone else had been working that day. A combination of a temporary limited control system for the barriers, it being out of sight, a speeding truck and a photocell that reacted too late were the benefitting factors that lead up to the accident. I still am not pleased with it, but at least no one is pointing in my direction as the "cause" of it all.

Tuesday was less eventful, phew. Some workers came over to take the barrier down and repair it, so by tuesday afternoon we had 4 barriers again. The limited control was/is still a problem though, but I think Site Security was looking into that as well, and hopefully will fix it soon.

That's what has been going on the past days, so now everyone is back up to speed. I don't know yet what I'll be doing today - wanted to go to the movies with Joco, Eef and Jess, but they all had made other plans so far. I think I'll just do some things that need to be done, as on friday I start my late shifts and I don't know what June will bring, work wise.

Hot zone, keep out!

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So much for my guess that going in to work today would be a very slow and relaxed way of spending the day. I've been working in the "hot zone" today, a zone that has increased radioactive levels, even though it's still considered "safe". However, special safety precautions have to be taken and just entering or leaving the zone takes about 15 minutes. This kinda rules out a "quick switch" with someone who needs a bathroom break, wants to take a drink, or eat.

Lets just say that it was an interesting day, I'm sure the firefighters, police and our site controlroom dispatchers agree with me ;)

Sleepy

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When my alarm clock awakened me this morning, I really felt like smashing it to bits and pieces with a gigantic hammer, throw it out of the window, yell "screw you!" and turn around for a couple more hours of sleep.

Well, I didn't. Tomorrow I start working a bit later (08h30) and I'm home this weekend so I can hopefully catch up on some sleep. Then I start a series of 7 days early shift followed by one day off.

Fuck

I just got a call from one of the chefs at work to check whether or not I still had the keys labelled 208 and 6 in my possession. I checked my pocket and sure enough, they were still there. Crap, now I gotta drive 40 kilometers to return them to the office and then get back home.

Oh well... my mistake, so I gotta pay for it.

Update : well, I'm home again and being the optimistic and positive thinker I am, this is what my mistake has given me : the most wonderful rainbow I've ever seen! Right as I left home, it started raining and when I passed the Wijnegem Shopping Center I noticed this superb rainbow that had yellow, red, green, blue and even a hint of purple in it. To add to the beauty, I was able to see both ends - whereas you usually only get to see one side and it vanishes mid-air - and right above that first bright rainbow was another faint one! Talk about a wonderful display of nature's beauty.

What else is positive about making the mistake of forgetting to return my keys? The respect and acknowledgement of my colleagues that I stand up for the mistakes I make and take responsability for them, as well as do whatever I can to correct them. Sure, it was bad to forget the keys in the first place, but I think I might have actually scored good points with my attitude in regard to it.

Well, that's it for now, I'm off to make some food - yummy spaghetti - and then in about an hour and a half I'm off to bed. Tata!

Change of plans

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So much for a fixed planning I'd say. Today our client contacted our site chef to bring him the (good) news that they'd like an extra team of guards for at least this month. Hence the sudden change of plans, and unfortunately, that has it's repercussions :

Sunday May 17th I was supposed to be off, but in the new planning I'm working. Sunday May 30th (when I had plans to spend my day in Holland) I'm working as well. In fact, I'll be working 3 out of 4 weekends in May, and where the first planning gave me just over 149 hours, the new planning states 181 hours. Financially worthwhile, that's for sure - or at least that's what I hope - but it sucks that I'll have to miss two events where I really wanted to be :(

Ah well... I guess that I'll be able to switch days and possibly take a day or two off when I worked here for a couple of months. By the way, the weather sucked majorly today, in case you didn't notice, and they expect the same for the rest of the week. What a great forcast :)

Screwed

Damn, I forgot that today is an official holiday - resulting in all stores being closed. I gotta work though, which I don't mind at all since it'll be quite easy going, but I didn't take the holiday into account when I thought about getting food earlier this week. Ah well, the freezer is still topped up and I think the bakery might be open so I can get some bread to take with me to work.

When I return tonight, I'm gonna see if I can find another (faster?) route home to avoid some of the ever increasing traffic jams, and tomorrow I'm gonna see where the deviation that starts on monday leads me, so I don't have to go hunt for it on tuesday morning at 05h30 in the morning.

Time to entertain the fuzzies now!

Phew

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I just ordered chinese food coz I'm too damn tired to cook tonight. A more elaborate update will - possibly - follow later tonight or tomorrow morning. Just don't believe everything you hear on the news or read in the paper, but rather ask someone who was there all day long.

Starting at 05h00 sucks, although I didn't have any traffic jams :p

There are (dutch) articles about today's "events" on the various news sites - if you want to read up, check your favorite news site! Because I shouldn't (or can't) disclose any information to the public in regard to the way we reacted to the action, what measurements were taken, I'm not going into specifics. Most articles depict quite an accurate view of the event if you ask me. I only counted 2 police boats instead of three, but I might have missed one since I couldn't see the complete shoreline from where I was, even though I had a first line point of view on all of it.

Do I condone, support or think their action was misplaced? That's really a hard question to answer, but I can say that I've gained quite a lot of respect for the Greenpeace activists, what they did today and how they did it. As in most of of these things, there is no black/white answer, and I guess both sides have partial answers but not a magical solution.

Every day at work has been a "something special every day" kind of experience so far. What will tomorrow bring??!

Note : Please take into consideration that I don't mention names, places or companies explicitely, and I've got my reasons for that. I am the only person who gets to decide what and what I don't divulge on this blog, and all comments that cross that line (hard data, personal names, facts or companies, ...) will either be censored, removed, and/or the author banned.

Bye bye schedule

As I said before, I was scheduled for 5 late shifts starting today, but due to the fact that we expect "company" tomorrow, I've been asked to start working at 05h00 instead of 14h00 and then stay on site for as long as is needed (maximum eleven hours though). Then on friday I continue my late shifts.

For those that are in Belgium and watch the news, it might be possible that we'll be mentioned in it tomorrow, depending on the press coverage and the amount of effort the little green men put into their actions. I'm off to bed really soon now, so that I can get at least a couple of hours before leaving again.

First complete week

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How does this sound to you :

wake up early, drive through a misty landscape and stay inside till you see the sun rise. Then set out on your bike as sunrays starts lighting up spots here and there. You feel the temperature rise slow but steadily as the night fades. When you look up, you see a clear blue sky and birds singing. Suddenly a squeek from your portable radio that directs your attention to a job at hand, away from the wonderful conditions.

You dive into a noisy industrial area, come across some workers and open the gate that was requested. About 25 minutes later you are outside, cycling around under a clear blue sky once again. I'm convinced that in summer time, the assignment as a mobile guard totally rocks.

Unfortunately, monday and tuesday I'll be working 10 hour shifts at TGC - something that is less enjoyable - but starting wednesday I'm set up for team training, working the late shift (and my first weekend, which includes an official holiday on may 1st - show me the money!) with a bunch of guys that I get along with pretty well. I think I like my job so far :)

Improvement

Today was much better for me - instead of walking around all day long, I get a mobile guard training today, which consists - majorly - in cycling around all day. Therefore, my feet don't hurt, but my ass is sore. Of course there is more to it than cycling around the site, because we had a list of gates and doors that I have to memorize by location and reference number so that when requested, I can cycle to it, open it so others can do their job and then close and secure it again.

We've seen quite a large part of those today, although not all of them. About 30 minutes into the shift of the regular mobile guard - who has three of us in tow - he was called the the main building to transport someone to the hospital by ambulance. Yes, that's also something we handle. I rode along and helped where needed. It was also a good opportunity to get to know the regular guard, as we met only 30 minutes before.

By the time we got back, it was 16h00 and as my day shift ends at 16h30, I was placed in the guard control room to aid and assist in the releasing of the flock. It's that time of day when a major part of the personnel ends their day and they all try to head home as soon as possible. It's a busy 15 to 30 minutes in which there is lots of traffic and badge registrations going on. A good way to end the day.

Picked up food and water for tonight and tomorrow and I'm ready for a new day!

So, this is what I do for now

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Because people are probably wondering - and have been asking - what exactly my job is right now, I'll give you a short rundown of what I do all day long, apart from just "standing" there. Needless to say, I've left out specific data that is either boring, doesn't add to the description, or is too specific to disclose.

I check the badges of incoming and outgoing personnel, visitors and contractors that are working on site. This includes - depending on who we are checking - a vehicule check, weight measurements (of trucks), checking and clearing various allowed and forbidden chemicals, materials and tools.

It sounds boring, but it's a rather diverse job that keeps you busy all day long, especially when you're working alone and a truck arrives or departs that needs to be measured, there are contractors waiting to get in or out, and some of the clients own personnel wants to get on site to start their job.

Next week I was scheduled to get training on the mobile guarding part, but I asked for one additional day on TGC to make sure I get most of the basic things down. I feel pretty confident already, yet every day I meet new things I've not done before. One extra day won't help me get all on top of all possible situations, but it'll reinforce my knowledge of the every day things that happen.

Yesterday for instance, we had a nuclear warning on one of the trucks that was cued to leave the site, and was on the bridge to get it's weight checked. We shut down the incoming and outgoing traffic and contacted the people that handle radiation to come over and do manual checks on the truck. The truck was still there as I ended my shift, and today I saw the same driver again so I asked him how the checks turned out. He told me they measured radiation, had him head back and leave the container for a thorough cleansing.

Today we had a bunch of people that got blocked during entering (in most of the cases due to them leaving too fast or not following proper procedures) as well as some contractors that had to have their privileges reset/adapted/changed.

About 30 minutes before my shift ended, we had lots and lots of radio activity (although on our portable radios, not of the nuclear kind) and several of the big shots of security hurried off from their desks. It turned out there was an individual intruding a certain part of the site, so from the control room a complete parkign lot was closed and secured, gates were locked and additionnal security personnel was dispatched to the area. I was - of course - not one of them, as I'm a trainee and I wasn't working mobile anyway. The situation was still ongoing as I ended my shift and as far as I know right now, is still status quo. I might call the site later tonight to hear how it ended.

My day - so far

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I had to get up quite early, as you probably noticed if you looked at the time of the previous two posts. We had a powerpoint presentation at Group 4 Falck in regard to additional safety measurements that are used at the site of our client (only 220 slides full of information) which took us a bit over 1 hour to get through.

Then I picked up my clothing (a huge box, filled with amongst other things : 3 shirts, 3 polo-shirts, 2 pants, safety shoes and goggles, helmet, scarf, 2 ties, one parka, 2 sweaters, belt etc) and we left for the site of our client, which is situated in the harbor of Antwerp. Reaching it was a pain in the ass though, as there are traffic jams everywhere due to all the construction sites most roads in Antwerp have been turned into. Luckily one of us knew the way and lead us straight to the right spot.

We took the test in order to get clearance and a badge to work on site (I scored a nice 19/20) and one of my colleagues will be starting tomorrow with me, another one on the 19th and the fourth one on the 22nd.

Yes, this is it. This is the last day of relative freedom for me! Tomorrow at 07h00 I'm expected on site to start my on-the-job-training. Imagine that... working from 07h00 (and I think it's even from 06h30 all other days) till 16h30 - those are damn long days. Ah well... I'll get used to it, I hope ;)

One heck of a day...

Damn... loads of shit going on today, with calls, tech problems and questions all the day. Didn't know where to start first and it won't be better tomorrow I suppose. Means that I won't be home early tomorrow. Better go shopping this evening! Life is funky :)

Still stuck in the office

Didn't really wanna knock off early today, but I actually planned to leave by 17h00. It's 17h30 and I'm still stuck here. I dunno why, but somehow the person I'm waiting for right now seems to be able to plan her work better when she's in the other office. Whenever we're here, we tend to leave later, rather than sooner. Last friday it was even 18h45 before we went home, and home means at least another 1h drive. I usually don't mind at all, but somehow today something is telling me that I gotta be home earlier. I just hope the ferrets are OK, and that it's not one of those feelings that turn out to be correct. I think I'll just hook up one of the webcams (why not a wireless one?) and monitor the carpetsharks 24/7 so that I can check on them on regular times. Gotta work it out a bit more I guess. If I have to money, I'll just order one of the X10 cams and plug it in. Pretty easy :)

The Euro is coming... better get with it!Yeah, the boss ordered kits some for all the employees about 2 months ago, and since I've seen him today, I already received mine and I'm now playing with it. I know that you can't play with it, but I have absolutely no fear for January 1st 2002. I'm actually looking forward to it... Everyone is used to the current coins, but it'll only take a few days, maybe 2 weeks for some to get to know the new coins.

Man, this € thingy will make things much easier... you can compare prices in different countries easily, and when traveling abroad, you don't have to exchange currency all the time. We can stand next to the USD, and it'll unite €urope even more.

Raining outside...

...and it's around 07h45 when I write this. I have to be at a clients' place around 09h30 and when the weather is OK it's about 1.5h driving. When rainy, like today, you should count 2h - 2h30 to get there. I still have about 1h45 but I ain't left yet. This means that I'll very probably will be too late.

I couldn't care less.

Why does my job suck?

Perhaps coz right now they expect you to leave home around 7h15, work all day at clients' places, then report in the office around 17h00 and file reports for another hour? Hey peeps! I thought we were supposed to have dinner (or at least be able to eat something) in between clients? Yeah right... I ate a snickers at 17h15 after arriving in the Brussels office. I usually don't mind putting in long hours, but the project (or rather the client I'm working for) I'm currently doing just is not what I'm made for. If you work your ass off, you just get arrogance and ignorance from the customer you work for.

I'd rather be doing support and development for my direct boss again, at least he and the office team of both locations appreciate the work you do. And when people appreciate what you do, it's so much more fun to work for and with them. Without calling any names, here's my sincere opinion to everyone (you know who you are) :

Antwerp and Sint-Truiden Office Crew : You all rule bigtime and kick ass. If you need anything, gimme a call and I'll gladly fix it.
Brussels Project Crew and Client : Stop acting like you rule the world and start treating employees with respect. If we all tell you to shove it up your *ss... you've got quite a load of troubles, never forget that!

Good things and bad things about vacations

This week most in Belgium have a week off due to the kids having a week off from school, and this makes it much easier on the roads. Less traffic jams, but on the other hand : having to leave for work when you see 95% of the cars still parked, meaning the owners will not have to work that day, sucks majorly...

We've just received word that a new CD is about to be released, so we can get to the testing part in the next 20 minutes or so.

But tomorrow everyone here has a day off from work, so we can catch up on sleep. I've just read an article somewhere that a constant sleep shortage is worse for your health as being drunk. I wonder if I should sleep more and drink more :)

Just got a call from a collegue that the kid of another collegue got hit by a car on monday evening, luckily not too badly and she should be home already. I certainly have to call that collegue to inform about the kids health. I happen to know the kid too, and we get along pretty good so...

Yesterday sucked majorly. Spend 3 hours at a clients place in the morning only to end up where we started, and the problem still aint solved, then hopped in at the office in brussels for a shitload of material and manuals, then spend from 13h45 till 19h25 at another client to have the same result : almost 6 hours wasted, problem not solved :(

But hey... shit happens. I can live with that idea, as long as it ain't happening every day! See ya!!!

Received new connectors and patchcables and been busy this morning installing it all. Guess what : The two machines that were prepped already for the LAN worked instantly, so those users can now take advantage of the LAN. Phew... I've had enough problems with it :)

For those that read the comments...

Cops do their Job... License suspended :(Here's an update : I was driving from the Antwerp office to the Sint-Truiden office yesterday and I was stopped on the highway, right before the exit to Sint-Truiden. Well... Actually I saw 4 federal police motorcycles and their riders on the side of the highway, and three were chatting, one was sitting on his bike. I was kinda like speeding, so I slowed down a bit (still doing 125 while 120 is the allowed maximum) when I passed them. Moments later one of the cops appeared behind me, and when he was about 10 meters behind, on came the blue lights. He drove next to me and signalled me to follow him. Yepz... I knew instantly what was going on! Actually... I had the feeling already when I saw them being parked. I followed him to the nearest exit, and there he stopped me, and his collegues were waiting for me. They asked for my papers and told me I was caught doing 162 and that they had to suspend my license. Ok, they do their job, I do mine... no need to be pissed off at them at all! So.. that's the story, I'm not allowed to drive for 15 (or 14) days now. Who's fault is it? Ofcourse it's mine... If I had obeyed the speedlimits this wouldn't have happened.
I called the Sint-Truiden office and they send 2 people to pick me up... one to drive my car back to the office, the other one to drive their car back to the office. Do I feel stupid? Erm... no. Do I feel ashamed that I caused (and am still causing) so much trouble for my boss? Yes I am. He's always been very good for me, and he's again... and I feel I'm letting him down. Best thing to do now is prove to him that I'm worth all the trouble by going that extra mile (no... not in speed this time) for him and the jobs I gotta do for him.

Erm... just to give you a sign of life

I'm still around... It's just another busy week, with lots of things going on and driving from one office to another. I usually start the day in Antwerp, then drive off to the new office (around 1h15 drive) and work there all day. Things are looking good according to me. I expect to be able to do the real first the network tests today, since I finished most of the cabling work yesterday. There are just a few things that might still mess it up and my worst nightmare is that one of the cables doesn't work, or is unstable. I don't have access to a real network tester, so it's more like : lay the cable, put on the connectors, and hope the damn thing works.

If I can't finish it all today, I'm in a bit of trouble since I'm needed in Brussels on thursday and friday... Cross fingers, not cables and let's get this network running smoothly!

I popped into the office

Updated the virusscanner on the server, moved some files around, dispatched the virusscanner across the network, spend some time on the phone with suppliers, checked and replied to mail. Completed install and preparation of laptop, documented a few things to do.

Busy couple of hours and now I'm off to Brussels to help a customer.

phew... another update

Yesterday was a fine day, pretty sunny and not a drop of rain... not too much traffic jams so everything I was home at a reasonable time.

I currently have a ex-collegue on the line, and though I know him pretty well and worked with him for a long time, he's really getting a pain in the arse. Just keeps on whining and complaining about everything. I think it's just a sign 'o the times. Some time ago I had to take a trainee along with me and the first thing he said was something like : I'm not used to getting up this early, is it like this all the time? And next was : Do I have to carry heavy stuff, coz I have a weak spine. Then he called to reschedule a meeting he had planned in the very early evening, telling them he wouldn't be able to make it. After only 1 day I had enough of it... to be honest, if someone takes you along to train you, the least you could do is be interested and ask questions, and not act like a kid that's not getting his candy. For me it was a pretty straightforward day, nothing really special or stressy, but when I dropped him back off at the car he said : I'm beat. I think I'll be in bed in an hour or so. Wake up mate and taste real life! There ain't too many that work 15 minutes away from home, work from 9h00 till 17h00 and have a 1h lunchbreak every day. Well, that's what he was used to... maybe leaving at 7h00 and coming back home around 18h00 without a lunchbreak was too much for the poor dude... whahhahhaa... There are days I leave at 7h00 and don't come home till 19h30 or even 20h and didn't even have a bite to eat all day long. Consider yourself lucky that it wasn't one of those days.

Maybe I should tell you my secret to handle stress? It's pretty damn easy : radio. Whenever I'm driving around, I'm always listening to the radio, singing along and enjoying myself. You get lots of weird looks from others in the traffic jam, but hey... that's their problem, not mine. I'll arrive relaxed and happy. Ofcourse it can't take away all the stress, but hammering your steeringwheel while singing awfully off tone and way too loud is great ;)

There is another secret though : don't get all freaky about a traffic jam. Getting nervous is not helping you pass those other cars... they can fly, neither can you. It took me about 12 months to learn and understand that, but I'm on the road now for nearly 4.5 years and I don't mind traffic no more. Yes, it's irritating, and yes, you loose a afwul lot of time... but hey... more traffic means more radio! Stop leaving at 8h45 if you know you gotta be somewhere at 9h00 and it's a 2h drive. Leave at 7h and spend 2h in the car, but you know that in advance. Arrive 15 minutes too soon? No problem. Park the car, review some notes, stretch yourself and relax. There is plenty of time to stress later!

Even with carful planning you can be too late for an appointement.... it even happens to me. But I don't totally freak out : call the person you're meeting with 5 minutes in advance and tell them your on your way, but you'll be there later. Why tell them you're on your way? To confirm to the customer you are busy with his problem or case. You and the customer are moving towards a solution (your arrival is a first step) and by telling him in advance that you are late, you once more confirm that he's important to you.

It's all in those tiny details... but some people just don't understand it :(

Statement 2

Leave at 06h59, arrive at 8h45 in brussels. Is that totally fucked up or what?

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