November 2006 - Posts
I think I stumbled upon the answer earlier tonight.
It's at least 10 kilograms.
I also found that half that is roughly enough paper to fill up a small blue box.
I vowed to myself to clean up the insane jumble of papers in my room once I got the UFE out of the way - after all, if I want a larger monitor
, I need room for it!
So I realized that before I disposed of my now obsolete notes and practice papers, I should weigh my paper basket before taking its contents to the curb.
The bathroom scale read 5 kg, and I can tell that I only disposed of no more than half my papers today.
If you were to count the copies of your UFE that get printed at the exam marking centre in Montreal (double spaced, and
in duplicate), the total might even approach 15 kg.
Assuming 2500 writers going through an average of 15 kg of paper, that means the UFE consumes roughly 37.5 tons of paper every year.
I hope the other writers and offices are as conscientious about recycling as I am - I used the single-sided paper for scrap - my scrap drawer is now full. I'm glad my printer
takes the 'abuse' of printing on slightly used paper without complaints.
At the risk of sounding like a raving fanboy
, I'm shocked to read that my beloved workhorse only got 3.5 stars on Amazon reviews
- although it's in no doubt due to jackasses like Mr. Wang
who got a lemon and decided to bash Brother with a one instead of doing something intelligent like maybe exchanging the printer for a working unit - he said quality died after 8 months.
I know quality products. We still run an HP500 Deskjet
and it kicks ass. On the other hand, the HP660c
was an unmitigated disaster masquerading as a printer
Mr. Wang clearly exemplifies the fact that you can't rely on a single random person's opinion on online review sites. And yes, I recognize the irony of me saying that after making my own "one man's opinion" review of three printers - in my defense, I've seen several different printers of the same model for all three, and my opinion stands for all of them.
So the lesson learned today is how much paper the UFE wastes, and - thanks to a completely random tangent - only trust a man or woman's opinion on a printer if they've been exposed to more than one.
Now that I have exam writing out of the way, I have a difficult - but extremely fun - problem to solve: where do I want to go on vacation?
I'm going to take one right after Christmas, and another in the late spring - I'm thinking May at the moment. The winter vacation will last two weeks, and the spring vacation will last a full month.
So far I've decided that I want to go skiing
during the first vacation, and flying to another continent during the second.
After my hurried and cryptic message
from earlier in the past 24 hours, it seems fitting to explain what just happened - if only for Ann
's benefit: I passed the Uniform Final Exam.
It's the third and final (hence the "F" in UFE) exam in the cycle to get your Chartered Accountant designation.
To answer a very common FAQ, I'll be an "official" CA once I've worked for 30 months and gotten my 2500 hours of experience - you need both. If all goes well, that should happen in early 2008. It sounds like a long time away now, but that's actually just a little over than a year off.
Hot damn, really.
In other news, I just learned that Kool Aid pie ... exists
... wow. And just - or perhaps much more importantly - Neil confirmed that he passed too. Well, I kind of knew that because I looked up his name on the Ontario pass list
, but whatever - if there's a day for flagrantly excessive self-congratulation, it's today.
The ASX exam writing philosophy
has proven to be a success - I passed
Unfortunately my study buddy didn't make it - which is a dark sad cloud on an otherwise sunny day (both literally and metaphorically).
More commentary later, time to respond to the flood of mail I just got.
I just played over 2 hours of volleyball. It was lots of fun but now I'm not in a good position to type a lot. So more stories will have to wait.
I will say one thing, despite my fingers' protests: I ended up commenting about one difficult client last night only to end up working with another difficult one today. Ah, the unintentional comedy!
Fortunately I was able to wring the best of a bad situation by being my usual charming self, so I counted this little situation as an early "win" for me.
More on the observations and tips from the daily struggle of existence soon - but if you don't hear from me for a few days, it may be because I'm in "how did my exam go?" mode.
Great post about difficulty people
by the Medic.
I've had to deal with my recurring 'difficult person' at a client site. No end of comedy, really, because I'm used to it by now.
For my friend, though, it's a rite of passage, for which I'm acting as the guide. Pretty amusing.
I'd love to go into more detail, but I need to be on the road in, oh, about 7 hours. Travel eats up a lot of your spare time, but it's fun.
Back in elementary school, when I was about ten years old, our teacher auctioned off various items for charity - I'm not sure if the charity was some equipment or prize for our class, or something more 'legitimate', like UNICEF.
Regardless, although we got to bid on various confiscated items, such as tennis balls the school janitor had retrieved from the roof, I've never considered that to be my first "real" live auction.
Along with being a "live" auction, I want there to be a real live auctioneer for it to really count.
Tonight, it finally happened. Say what you will about audit being tough work
, but if you work for the right people and find yourself in the right place at the right time, you get to experience some fun distractions - like charity gala events.
I've heard in the past that one of the unfortunate aspects of setting up such events is that it's hard to fill the dinner tables with guests for one reason or another.
While normally this is an excellent opportunity to both support a worthy cause and perhaps get to know some new people, it's often the case that people's schedules become filled up with various distractions that keep them away from fun events like galas.
Sure, if you have a family or a demanding job they may count as distractions to various degrees of validity - I put more weight on a family demand - but hopefully someone can be wrangled up.
And I, fortunately, managed to be wrangled up. I had plans for the evening, but I was able to re-route my friends from meeting for something casual, to coming to the gala instead.
And yes, I actually made a bid in the silent auction. You feel silly doing it when you're young, but the wine probably helps impair your sense of judgement. That, and the idea that although you don't need the frivolous prize, the money you're offering up will go to a worthy cause.
Fortunately I didn't get 'caught' bidding on overpriced vacation or other tourist packages - I did score a couple of items, though, which were both rather sweet deals and hopefully damn fine presents too.
Did I mention it's nice to combine charitable giving with Christmas shopping?
This post is directed at everyone who feels overworked and underpaid.
It could be worse. Just ask the crane operator.
Have I been careless or just unlucky?
I just lost the post I was writing, so I have to start from scratch.
And I lost my lunch.
It was going to be great – rice, pork souvlaki – my leftovers from tonight’s dinner.
Of course, I was absent-minded, and came back to the hotel empty-handed. Nuts.
Those two little things are mere blips in comparison to the magnitude of the major disaster I had to recover from today: a dead hard drive.
I’ll spare you the technical details – for once! – and just say this: this morning I found myself 200km away from the closest office with the right spare parts to bail me out.
And an IT auditor without a working computer is like a Formula 1 driver without a car, so I had no choice but to hop in my own car and zoom down the highway for an extended pit stop.
After my absent-minded dinner adventure, I picked up my new system, hopped back on the highway, and zoomed home.
And just to aggravate me a little bit more, I had to hit a 9 p.m. traffic jam due to some road work. I took a chance, and hopped off onto a country road which I had never driven before in my life and bombed around the jam. Fortunately my gamble paid off and I successfully found my way onto the highway’s next on-ramp.
The only really irritating thing about this whole escapade – I mean, aside from having to drive 400 km and spend an entire day using a borrowed computer to try and do something resembling real work – is the part of the recovery process that the backup software isn’t designed to help me automatically restore the settings I customized – like how the buttons on my laptop work.
The repairs took so long that spending a whole day I was still recovering data while typing this up – fortunately it’s all done now, so I can get some rest.
Of course, I stop even thinking that I had anything resembling hardship after getting a quick dose of news from TV and the newspaper. Explosions, disasters and death help put everything in perspective.
In that light, I didn’t experience an annoying distraction from my day job, but a silly adventure.
Earlier I wrote about a silly gun metaphor for calculators
that amused me. What I ignored back in those carefree days of two months ago, was the fact that war zones actually host auditors.
Now, telling someone to "go audit a war zone" is a lot more fraught with peril than telling them to "go fly a kite" - even when compared to a lightning storm, you're probably going to get battered around a lot more. If not by shrapnel, then by lawyers and meddling politicians.
I'm amused to find myself writing about this tonight - I just posted a few minutes ago, but I haven't been posting much lately because I've been busy.
I still am
busy, but I'm inspired to take a break from work to write something -
perhaps it's the delicious dinner I had, or the fact that there's a big
election going on today.
With the American government's audit office in Iraq - they call it the Inspector General - being shut down by the government, it's hard not to grow even more
cynical about how the US operates.
Courtesy Matt Good'
, comes another in a string of stories about misdeeds in Iraq and how they're not being punished
There's a pathetically small number of auditors there considering that hundreds of billions of dollars are being thrown around by the government.
It feels especially ridiculous to hear that they have a handful of people there, when we routinely send teams of five to twenty people to deal with companies that generate only ten to a hundred million dollars a year.
Misplaced priorities anyone?
Not that I'm clamouring to have myself to be sent to Iraq - I don't have a death wish! - nor do I want to see a bunch of CPA
s sent into harm's way.
And yet, I think that's exactly what I'm about to advocate. Of course, I'd hope that they'd be given adequate protection to shield them from the seemingly random violence in Iraq, but CPAs and CA
s are the type of professionals who are probably best suited to bring some order to the finances of any chaotic place.
I'm not about to write up an infomercial in blog form for the accounting professions, but the fact is, the wanton waste of billions of dollars is, aside from being a damning indictment of how the Bush Administration managed the war - funny how no one mentions Dubya's MBA
anymore these days - it's a shining example of why those annoying bureacratic tools called "controls" are actually useful.
You want your business and your government to make sure that people can't spend money without oversight. At best, it'll be managed poorly
- cheques get sent out slowly. At worst, you'll have fraud and ultimately bankruptcy
After a long day of testing controls, I find it ultimately refreshing to see examples of disasters that occur in a regime without them - they remind you that your job, no matter how seemingly pointless, actually plays a surprisingly vital role in keeping civilization from crumbling into ruin.
It’s funny when you finally get a chance to witness firsthand the answer to the question, “I wonder why it took them so long to do that.”
If the person you’re waiting for is working with other people, maybe it’s because they spent half the day chit-chatting.
I finally remembered to bring headphones with me to one place because just down the hall it was social hour all day long. I wasn’t paying close attention - maybe the conversations were vaguely work related - but when I walked by I saw a den, or if you will, a courtyard of 4 cubicles with all four inhabitants chatting away with each other. Well not all four. One was facing the group, hunched over some papers; the rest were enjoying themselves.
It’s that kind of mental picture which destroys any potential feeling of ‘guilt’ I may harbour for interrupting people with my audit requests.
Heck, they were just going to chit chat all day anyway - make way for me and my requests for information!
It also reinforces the notion that if you want something done, sit next to the person who owes you the information until you get it. You may think standing is a good option but it’s not - you’ll get tired, and they’re probably sitting. Make yourself comfortable - that way they know they won’t be able to stall you out by dragging out their response with myriad stalling tactics.
Of course, there are some occasions when people are genuinely busy, so you’ll just have to use your professional judgement
(i.e. “common sense”) to avoid coming off as a jerk.
In the past two years or so I've encountered two reactions to my old-school BBS/newsgroup style of replying to e-mails: one snarky, and one absolutely gracious.
The absolutely gracious comment came to me yesterday - where my style of replying to e-mail was cited as "unique". I liked that - it showed respect for what's fast becoming an ancient although by no means arcane way of replying to e-mails.
Instead of geeking up this entry with a discussion of the difference between quoting in the traditional manner of newsgroups (inline) versus the common business world method of writing replies (top-posting), I refer you to this very well written Wikipedia article on the topic of posting styles
I'll wait while you read that article and get up to speed. It's a relatively quick read.Last night we talked geek
So anyway, last night I explained that I know the arguments on both sides - in my younger days I've been involved in massive flame wars where we educated recalcitrant posters about the "right" way of writing.
Besides, I added last night, I myself will use top-posting in many business e-mails because the software we use defaults to top-posting, and generally speaking it does the job efficiently.
There's a major exception to that though: replies to messages where a list of topics is raised. Although if the person I'm replying to made a neat little list - especially a numbered list, then I can still write a top-posted response addressing the individual points
Often, however, they won't - so it becomes much easier to reply with an inline-reply. The software, if it's cooperating, will insert an ">" in front of quoted text and allow me to reply on a line by line basis. That way we don't "accidentally" miss any outstanding issues we want to discuss.Personal e-mail fun!
We weren't talking about busines last night, though - we were referring to personal e-mails. And with the exception of rare instances where there's nothing to quote, I virtually always revert to the Old School method of newsgroup-style replies. If you have no idea what I'm talking about you didn't stop by the Wikipedia article I endorsed.
Fine, stay here: look at this fake e-mail from Videosift
I just made up:
>>Your video has been published
>Congrats - you win.
>Don't forget to vote in the Siftoff
I will, I will.
This is a quick and dirty example - most of my e-mails have slightly more content but it's late at ight and I wanted to generate an easy example. You can see two things here:
- There were three parties to this conversation
- I replied to two seperate thoughts in a logical fashion.
The line with ">>" prefacing the text was written by "Siftbot", while ">" prefaced everything written by "Admin", while I wrote the remaining text in my reply.
If you're not used to this, you can either be bemused, or get offended.
Fortunately I work with cool people and they're either familiar with this style, or they're bemused by my penchant to 'keep it real', so to speak, by sticking to what I consider the "best ever" way of replying to messages.A sordid past
A couple of years, ago, though, I was aggrieved. I was told by someone that my e-mails were unintelligble.
This greatly aggrieved me, since I'm rather proud of being clear in my writing, even if I get long-winded at times, I'll either cut back when I do edits to what I write, or at least try and make it amusing enough that the reader is compensated for the long read by something amusing or at the very least enlightening.
So I was shocked - you can't read what I'm writing? It's not the writing itself, it's the formatting, I learned.
To make a long story short, after dismissing the other types of errors that happen (garbled text, incompatible e-mail programs), I realized the problem my critic was claiming it was 'impossible' to read what I was writing was because of the way I quoted text in replies.
And it's not because I did a "messy" quoting job - imagine tossing in tons of little quotes with very little space in between paragraphs - it can look ugly in a hurry! - I'm very disciplined about making replies, especially to mailing lists, look as easy to follow as possible.
And so in an environment full of fellow students (read: young geeks), some other students who were foreigners to the online world were trying to impose their will on an 'old-timer' like me.
In addition to feeling like some Young Turk was trying to upstage me, it was a case of being attacked for the way I wrote. You can't exactly rage indignant about something that lame and geeky - although you can interpret it to either be an artistic lament in the form of a poem, or a post to the rarefieid geeky world of blogs, I suppose - but it still hurts you if you feel your writing is a key part about how you express yourself.
The real hurt, I imagine is that someone's criticizing
you not for what you've said, but the format you've used to say it.
It shows a disrespect for your ideas - get your mind around the fact that there's a different way of writing something, and look at what's actually written.
The indignation I felt back then, now that I've had two paragraphs to reflect on it, came from that feeling: you just didn't want to look at what I wrote
, and came up with the lamest possible excuse to justify your intellectual sloth.
It probably didn't help that my critic was one of the very few people I got along with poorly through university. We were from different schools and despite my efforts to work together on a long-term project, my ideas and motives were continually criticized, sometimes honourably though awkwardly to my face, and at other points in completely snarky behind-the-back high-schoolish cowardice.
Did I mention I'm incredibly
glad to be working with people I consider both friends, and people who are infinitely more mature on many intellectual and other levels? It really makes work more fun to know they have your back.And here's where we start to wax on with sentimentality:
The subject line is a vague reference to Emily Haines' new album which works for me as some kind of super-apt metaphor for how you can't rely on some people, i.e., the people from the Bad Old Days who didn't like my way of writing - or used that as a way to attack me while pretending to be absolutely friendly.I'm incredibly glad that the people I'm with these days aren't "knives". What more can you wish for from your friends other than being there for you when you need them?
Go, do not stop, directly onto Bittorrent or Youtube and use the text in my headline to find the seventeenth Treehouse of Horror Simpsons Special. I'll keep any 'spoilers' to a minimum here - enough to let you know I've seen it, not so much as to spoil the surprises.
It looks like some got ahold of a review copy of the episode - studios sometimes send out tapes or DVDs for review purposes to media outlets - and now it's online for all to watch and enjoy.
Over it's almost twenty-year run, the Simpsons has had its ups and downs, and the years around the turn of the century were, in my humble opinion, a low point, but ths show is back and doing astonishingly well. I'm guessing some fresh blood in the writers' room combined with whatever other factors I'm not privy to have combined to bring the show back to top form.
The special had me laughing out loud, from the opening scene with Moe, to the cutting political satire over the current US quagmire.
They did simple things, but did them so well that they were outrageous. A great mix of lowbrow and especially deep humour to be found.
I'm so glad I got to watch the episode that I'm positively gushing - so I'll stop writing now because reading about other people's adoration for this or that gets nauseating pretty quickly if not done well.
Continuing the series of posts that exist simply to make a simple observation, I've noticed a marked increased in the amount of spam I'm getting - 1501 messages in just one month. That's a 50% jump!
I quickly skimmed through the messages, 100 at a time, to get a feel for the garbage that gmail was sheltering me from - ads for lots of 'Viab5gra', stock tips, and more than a few scams to try and steal eBay account information.
Though I should hardly be surprised, I'm still amazed by the sheer volume of drug ads. They're overwhelming any other category - is this line of spam really that lucrative? They obviously must be sending out messages for things that 'work' in the sense of getting responses from the gullible and the desperate.
How very odd, really. I mean, how naive and trusting to you have to be to buy cut-rate medicine sight-unseen over the internet?
Part of the "run through the field of spam" exercise also involves checking out if there's anything interesting. A while back I saw what looked like a bit of a plagarized Harry Potter text in a spam. Now, I see what looks like a stock tip describing the financial viability of Facebook or something like that.
I hardly want to spend a lot of time going through this, so that's as much information as I'm going to dig out of it - and it's probably the lion's share of the narrative you will get from such a spurious e-mail.
I wonder if this will continue trending upwards infinitely or if the flood will ever stop?
Perhaps this month may be an abberation - I noticed a two-day phase where someone essentially mail-bombed me with spam.
Should be fun to find out if any changes are in store, I suppose.