Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Off on my hols

Whoo hoooo!! I’m all packed and ready to head east to Hong Kong tomorrow. I cannot wait, I really need a holiday. The question is will I have a job to go to when I get back? Our company implemented a hiring freeze on at the moment and my client, Elmer, didn't get the funding for 3 projects that we'd scoped and then today he asked for a $25,000 refund!!!

A refund!!!

After asking for the refund, which essentially puts the projects we’re working on for him for the rest of the year he had the cheek to ask if we’d do some work for free. I referred him to BossMan who politely told him where to go. These are not fun times in marketing, but thankfully Elmer is not my only client, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for no more budget cuts.

This whole "The great depression: the sequel" gubbins is making me think that I made a mistake in booking a somewhat pricey vacation to Asia back in August, but what can I do? Not go? Noooo way matey!! I need it for mental health reasons and at least it's two thirds paid for, I just have to worry about paying the hotel bill off my credit card when I get back

Anyway as I said I am all packed, save for make-up and hair brushes which I still need to use tomorrow morning when I get up hideously early to head to JFK (eeek!!). Melissa and I are leaving at 6.30am to allow for potentially heavy morning traffic to JFK. "It's good to get there early and then you can have a drink at the airport" advised Debs and Emma.

"I'll be there at 8am. That's a bit early for a drink"

"8am is 5pm somewhere in the world. It's not too early"

All the same, I think I'll be sticking to coffee :-)

I started putting things in my suitcase on Sunday and added bits and pieces over the next few days, I packed strategically though, taking my naturally overly organised disposition a step further for this trip and jotted down a list of coordinating outfits to pack thus maximising the usage of all my clothing, but minimising the weight. I know…geeky to the max, but I like to travel as light as possible since hefting a big suitcase around plays havoc with my lower back these days - ageing sucks big time I’m finding. I would be a lot less bothered about it if I didn’t feel like my body were crumbling at times. Sigh.

Being so organised in packing meant I had plenty of time to finish all those last minute projects at work that magically popped this week and also run around and buy a new camera – a $150 I could have done without spending in these mend and make do times, but I can hardly go all that way and not take photos eh. I have two digital cameras – well now I have three – and both seem to be utterly buggered unfortunately and I’m completely flummoxed as to why. I’m not one for toting a camera around on a regular basis, so I pretty much only use them on my once yearly vacation and both were working fine when I last used them. However the display screen on my original digital camera, a Sony that my parents bought me for Christmas a few years ago, doesn’t seem to work at all.

“Is it definitely turned on?” queried the technologically gifted Debs when I told her about it at work the other morning.

Cheek of the woman!!! Yes it’s bloody turned on. It goes from black to slightly less black and all the little setting icons pop up on the screen, the flash, the ISO and all that shenanigans, it’s just useless at taking pictures or viewing photos I’ve already taken, but it does seem to take photos. At least the little counter goes up indicating there are photos in the file folder. I should get my act together and take it to B&H Photo and have them look it over since the problem has flummoxed my Dad, Tel Aviv who looked at it last year and any random man I’ve mentioned it to in passing that considers themselves to be technologically gifted and clearly think it’s going to be an easy fix. I’m sure, like Debs, these men all initially thought me a ditzy female who just hadn’t managed to work out how to turn the display on, but the problem has had them beat too!! Ha!!

As for the second camera, well this was my Dad’s old Fuji that my parents gave me when I was home last Christmas to replace the malfunctioning Sony. It worked fine when I tried it at the time and has been languishing in a since January until I took it out this weekend to make sure everything was in working order. It wasn’t. It functions perfectly for about 2seconds and then switches itself off. And yes, I did check the batteries, but I just haven’t get it to stay on. I'm beginning to feel like my apartment is the place photographic equipment goes to die. Fingers crossed the new one survives and I'll have photos to post when I get back.

Behave yourselves while I'm gone ;-)

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I saw the most curious thing the other morning as I was walked to work

There I was waiting to cross 72nd Street at Lexington Avenue and a young bloke in a suit rode by me on a unicycle!! A unicycle!!! Do you think he ran away from the circus to take a job in finance or something? If that's the case he didn't chose his moment well did he? Just as I am thinking that I didn't choose the best of times to start a monthly direct debit to invest in a mutual fund – not to mention the ones that my pension is invested in – what with banks failing left, right and centre. I’m down 21% so far, not that it's not exactly a humungous heap of cash - don't invest what you can't afford to lose eh - and I keep reminding myself that I am in it for the long term so maybe, just maybe – she says with her fingers tightly crossed - this financial calamity will ultimately reveal itself to have been an excellent buying opportunity to get some good quality shares at a bargain price. Let's hope so!!

Otherwise not much is going on other than work, work, work and more work. Quite frankly I'm a basket case after a stressful couple weeks and I was almost in tears in Boss Man's office the other morning when my client, Elmer, decided he wanted to increase the amount of my time that he pays for from 25% to 100% until the end of the year. Ugh!! I know I should be happy about this, to have 3months worth of job security, especially with the economy tanking, but in the 6months I've been working with my client I've grown to absolutely hate him. He's nit picky, unreasonably demanding and loves to exert what tiny amount of power he has over the agency by setting these last minute, overly abbreviated and completely arbitrary deadlines just to make us run around like headless chickens, however should there be so much of a whiff of a complaint he's very quick to play the 'you know I've been a great advocate of the agency and provided you with a lot of revenue generating opportunities' card. It's very irritating, because while I agree that he has been good to us, it’s frankly coming at the expense of my mental health. In an effort to buck my spirits Boss Man sent me this note the other night…

"Thanks for all the hard work and dedication. They had their budgets slashed today but still will spend an incremental 136k with us which again is testament to the great work you and the team have been doing this year. I know it's not always easy and the client can be very demanding but if we get through the rest of this year we will have a great foundation for further growth in 09. And I will make sure I will always have beer and wine in my fridge in case you need a drink after a stressful day!"

Hmmm. I know he means well and I appreciate the thought, but I've seen my wine consumption skyrocket in the 6months I've been working on this client – I'm particularly fond of the cheeky little Gouguenheim Malbec, a snip at $12 a bottle from my local liquor store/off license, which is the same price that I pay for a glass of the stuff around the corner at Caffe Notte - and I don't think a descent into alcoholism/liver failure is the answer.


Am I feeling a bit too sorry for myself do you think? I know some people would be happy to have my problems and I'm definitely letting my client get to me and Boss Man advised me to shrug him off, but that's easy for Mr. Mellow to say. He's so laid back I sometimes wonder if he's fully appreciates some situations, but I think calm demeanour is implicit in his genetic chemistry and unfortunately I'm just not made that way. It’s led to my questioning my career choice a lot over the past few months – my timing is amazing isn't it, unemployment being on the high side. Of course I'm not stupid enough to quit my job, it has its benefits, but I've definitely been finding myself craving a more simplified life right, perhaps even – heaven forbid – outside of New York. It's a thought I've been rolling around in my head recently, whether I could I seriously consider leaving NYC or if this is just a temporary disgruntlement that could be solved by gainful employment elsewhere. If I did leave I'm not sure where I would go. I don't think I would go back to England right now since the last time I was there I didn't feel like I quite fit, and if I'm honest I suspect if it came to the crunch I'll find I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel in NYC, but if it does turn out that I end up leaving in the next few years then I know I will be able to pinpoint 2008 as the beginning of the end.

Boss Woman not being here in the US doesn't help, especially as each time I reach out to her for help she responds by giving me more work to do. Boss Man recruited Boss Woman about 3months ago to help take a load of his shoulders and oversee myself and Emma. She’s British – in fact she used to be my friend Miles’ boss who speaks very highly of her. I like her a lot – except for the whole workload thing - however she's working from London at the moment, which isn't the best since the majority burden for her accounts tends to fall to me because I'm physically present in the office. I can't help occasionally resent the fact that she's probably making double my salary and getting to leave at 6pm every night while I'm stuck working 12hour+ days to support the NY based account teams.

Technically this is until she gets her visa sorted - which should be anytime soon since she had her interview at the US Consulate in London last week and the type of visa she will be on is usually issued within 2weeks after the interview – however there is also the issue of her elderly dog to consider. She can't bring him with her as the stress will likely send him off to that great big doggie kennel in the sky and since she hasn't had any luck finding someone she knows and trusts who can take him in and can't exactly have him put to sleep on a whim, we are in the unfortunate position of having to wait until the dog pops his clogs before she can move over and start taking the reins on the clients she's been assigned to.


In non-work related news it was Open House New York last weekend and Melissa managed to snag us a couple of tickets – 5,000+ people entered a draw for one of 700 tickets - for a tour of the highline, a disused railway line that runs above ground from Gansevoort St in the meatpacking district and 34th street in midtown. I found out from our tour guide, Joshua - one of the co-founders of Friends of The Highline, an organization that campaigned to save it from demolition – that a building where a few of my friends used to live used to be a refrigeration warehouse and the train line used to run through it and unload inside. You can see it in the pic linked

We walked on the bit between 30th and 34th street, one of the last stretches that's still owned by the railway company, CSX who apparently donated the stretch below 30th to the city in 2005 for park use. The last train to run on the highline was in 1980 with a cargo of frozen turkeys – it was close to Thanksgiving – and the first section of the park is set to open at the end of this year, with the whole thing scheduled for 2010. It was great to get a new perspective of the city. Here are some pics snapped by Melissa.

The fate of last 4 blocks - the bit we walked on which is still owned by CSX - is undecided at the moment since it depends on what happens with the Hudson rail yards. There's a proposal to develop the rail yards, but as the Long Island Railroad needs to remain fully functional it will mean spending an estimated $2bn to put a platform over the top of the rail lines so that they can build over the top of it. This may mean that the last section of the Highline may not survive the renovation, but Friends of the Highline are campaigning for it to be preserved. Whatever happens I am sure CSX will make a whole pile of money from it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I can't be arsed with politics....

...because I think ultimately, despite their promises, whoever gets in will be likely to bugger it all up anyway, and besides, I don't even have the right to vote in the US as a permanent resident, however I did enjoy this Craigslist post from a 'disgruntled American'

"Disgruntled American Seeks Canadian For Political Asylum, Maybe More - 32 (Washington State, USA)
Reply to: [?]Date: 2008-10-01, 6:00PM EDT

Like so many in the USA, I've become increasingly fed up with my country. The last 8 years have been a nightmare of perpetual motion. The presidential election is almost a month away, but let's face it. If Bush's cronies were able to set him up for two terms, then McCain and Palin are practically a shoo-in. When that happens (and it will, just you watch) I would rather be somewhere else. Like The Great White North!

Are you a lonely, possibly desperate Canadian woman aged 18-50? Tired of trying to find a good man among your flannel clad, Labatt's drinking, moose hunting country men? Willing to take in an American who is fed up with his country? Then I'm the guy for you! Maybe you're a bit overweight or suffer from "Lifelong Ugly Duckling" syndrome. I don't care.

What I'm All Aboot:
- 32, tall, a bit pudgy around the middle, starting to go bald, but other than that it's all good.
- IT Professional, skilled with computers, can fix yours.
- Will get whatever job(s) available to help support us.
- From Washington State, appreciates nature.
- Willing to learn French.
- Polite, working on being more humble.
- Hates littering.
- Will pet your cat(s)/dog(s) and tell you how cute it is.
- Enjoys Rush.
- Can fake an interest in hockey.
- Knows the first line to the Canadian National Anthem.
- Will do whatever it takes to get the fuck out of here.

What You're All Aboot:
- Canadian.
- 18-50 year old female.
- Willing to marry me for citizenship.

So there you have it ladies! This is your chance to help your neighbors to the South. Get at it!
Location: Washington State, USA
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests"