December 2006 - Posts
I thought I was going to a party of some sort.
Instead, I found myself holding a rifle and firing at our enemies, either zombies or 1940's era Germans. Or perhaps both.
For some reason, I would come to believe that participating in this wild firefight was part of my job. And since anything you do as a professional that counts as your ‘job’ is charged to a client code so we can bill our ‘chargeable hours’, I thought to myself, “great, just great.”
“I’m supposed to be on vacation, and yet here I am, crouched on a shipping container with a long gun, defending what may or may not be a Christmas party from some malevolent forces of evil.”
Once the situation calmed down, I said that was enough for me – time to go home and rest. After all, I’m on vacation.
But it’s silly to work so hard for a few hours and not have it count. Was I going to have to go online and amend my time sheet to reflect my time spent in the trenches?
The answer was apparently yes.
Grumbling that I had spoiled by perfect plan to avoid doing any actual productive ‘work’ during my vacation, I trundled home.
A little while later I realize what had happened – once again I had stayed up really late. Rather than playing computer games, I read an awesome book I got from Christmas from a good friend - the World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.
You’ll note that I wasn’t sure if I was really fighting Zombies – perhaps they were Germans from World War Two. Well that was, I surmise, my subconscious adding an element of ‘realism’ to the completely insane dream: since zombies are imaginary the opposition
Still, the fact that I stayed up until dawn reading a book and then experienced this little story in my sleep can hardly be a coincidence. Or the fact that yesterday, while I was doing some post-Christmas shopping downtown, I took advantage of my whereabouts to wander into my actual office to pick up a few personal belongings I forgot to take with me.
Or perhaps it was also caused by the friend I met yesterday who actually had
to go back to his office to reset a faulty server - even though he was also on vacation?
Combine that brief exposure to various work environments with an all-nighter reading a zombie book and this doesn’t seem very unusual at all.
The only thing that freaked me out, really, was the intrusion of ‘chargeability’ into the narrative. What am I, some kind of crazy lawyer who cares about nothing but 'hours'
? Ew - perish the thought.
But he's dead.
The man who came up with the idea of selling the poles from the classic Seinfeld episode
about the holiday of Festivus says it himself in this video: "now they're even commercializing Festivus".
I'm hardly the only person in this boat
, but it's nevertheless a great joy to reflect on the fact that I finally reached that wonderful point in a young CA student's life: you've passed the UFE and now you can take a real
At this point in the article I was going to include a link to an entry in my old blog at blogspot
describing the time I spent 'wasting'/spending all my vacations by studying for exams.
I would describe how while it sucked at the time to miss out on having a "real" vacation, I knew that in the end the studying would be worthwhile - and of course, it was.
Unfortunately blogger really sucks and I'm having trouble loading my old pages, so take my word for it: I used to write about that back when it was an issue.
One of the reasons I gladly abandoned blogger to be a founding blogger at the Steeple
(check out our hot new front page
) is because at blogger the server performance is so slow that more than half the time I found myself waiting for a single page to load. Ridiculous
Anyway, back to my happy "an auditor goes on vacation story": my last "real" vacation occured during the interval between university graduation and the start of my job as an IT auditor. The trips were amazingly fun and I should get around to posting some pictures sometime. Well, here's a link to a very small handful:
After thinking about where I'll go
, to enjoy the holidays, reality intruded: I'll mostly be close to home with friends and family for Christmas the following holidays. Which will be fine, albeit a bit anticlimactic.
I do, however, have a four-week vacation scheduled for the spring - now that
will be a real
So much so, that I might just spend part of this vacation planning that one. A perfectly logical plan of attack, no?
My friend at Western
joked that a blog redesign is a sign that you have nothing else left to talk about.
I can safely dodge that accusation, though, by congratulating Zach, fellow Steeple blogger running celebrity gossip podium The Dish
and budding graphic designer extraordinare for giving ACS a shot of sweet-looking hotness.
Thanks to everyone else behind the curtain
who keeps things looking cool and working way better than blogger around here.
I was honoured and surprised when, on the day the UFE results came out, I also received this cute little poem, written by a one of my most creative friends, who also happens to work with me. It's just eight lines written on the fly, but they were an extremely powerful little set of eight lines that crystallized the feelings rushing through the successful writer's head that day.
Thanks again for bringing some bonus joy to that wonderful afternoon!
You struggled and you slogged
You wrote a test notorious
You waited and you worried
And walked away victorious
Now finally the time has come
For blissful celebrations
To gracefully receive your due ...
Go you! Congratulations
I'm reading Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine
and I'm reading about some things I was already well aware of, and learning some shocking new facts.
The one that prompted me to set the book down and start typing is the story of Mohammed Sidique Khan
- he was the mastermind behind the July 7 subway bombings in London. What got me up in arms is the fact that the intelligence community was already aware that this guy meant trouble - their most seasoned officers were aware that he was likely to blow things up and cause all manner of mayhem.
What the wikipedia article I linked to above does not - yet? - mention is the fact that he was going to fly over to visit the U.S. around 2003.
According to Suskind, rather than prepare an intensive counter-surveillance operation to track what he was going to do and catch his accomplices, a fight between the FBI and CIA ensued: neither wanted to be blamed if something went wrong again.
So they did something - but not much. They put Khan on the no-fly list.
As he went to board his flight at Heathrow he was told that he was on said no-fly list. That obviously warned him that the authorities were aware of his activities - way to tip off your suspect!
So he went home and kept a low profile - eventually masterminding the tragic London bombings, in which he killed himself as well.
This reminds me of two things that appear in my day job that are related to how the CIA, FBI and similar institutions operate: you need to keep potentially bad things on the radar. This man was known to authorities, yet they didn't keep up their focus. By putting together his plot, he must've sufficiently slipped off the radar to let bad things happen.
On any audit, if there's an unresolved issue, you can't just think that 'someone will get to it' - you need to be track of it and keep following up. While you're not supposed to close an audit file with open "to do" items, you better keep track of these kind of issues somewhere.
More pervasively, the book makes repeated references to the importance of getting evidence to support conclusions. And, as any auditor worth h/er salt knows, it's all about getting appropriate evidence.
Of course, the covert stuff sounds much more delicious to traffic in, but it's little more than a somewhat more secret version of the documents that we review on a daily basis.
Someone asked what can you do with a CA other than audit companies. Well, applying the logic I'm following here, you could easily - and correctly - argue that you can do just about anything, from journalism to counter-terrorism ops.
Of course, you're probably not going to be dumpster diving or interrogating enemy combatants, but if you're on track to a get an accounting designation I'm guessing you're probably
not to interested in being a Jack Bauer
It's such a basic, old skill, but the ability to type quickly can really save you when you have way too much work to do, but it mostly involves typing things up quickly and concisely.
Never underestimate the benefit of being able to spill out your thoughts as fast as you can come up with them.
So check out this little typing test utility.
Not to brag or anything - okay, I'll brag a little - I'm scoring over 110 words per minute. 390 when I generated a really easy-to-type quote. Sweet.
It's been a while since I posted anything from Videosift
just for the heck of it - but this one is a winner.
The clip is merely a recording of a conversation between, George Vaccaro, a man
overcharged for service by Verizon and their inability to comprehend
the difference between two thousandths of a dollar, and two thousandths
of a cent.
I consider it a natural link to my last post
to consider the probability not of simply winning at poker, but at winning while inebriated. Would you expect to do better or worse when you have looser control of your motor skills?
I could wax philosophical about that, but I'd rather introduce another piece of accounting terminology instead: "out of scope".
I can say "out of scope" because biophysiology, if that's the right term for it, is both not a topic I've decided I feel like covering nor is it something I can speak about with any authority besides pointing you to a proper Google search result.
But "out of scope" may, however, be the three most beautiful words in the English language. For auditors and allied professionals, anyway. On a simple level, it's just a professional way of saying "it's none of my business."
But the beauty of it is that it's a professional
way of saying that!
Don't underestimate the importance of something being a 'professional' way of saying something.
Say "that's none of my business" when someone asks you to do something at a top-flight accounting firm, and you can expect to find yourself looking for a new job, if not within a week, then in the near future.
If you say that you're not going to do something because it's "out of scope", however, not only will people respect your response - especially assuming that you're right - but you'll be admired for not doing something that would ultimately be a waste of time.
The only trick, really, is to make sure that you're right when you're saying it, or at least be able to argue convincingly enough that you are
Has it been one of those weeks for me? Not really - but the poker games were certainly fun.
Have you ever played Simcity while incredibly wasted?
I haven't, but I think the people who built Kitchener-Waterloo
Which would make sense, since it's the home of Canada's Oktoberfest
I learned this after finding my way back to my hotel. After getting stuck yesterday in a ridiculous traffic jam on King Street in 'downtown' Kitchener, I decided to figure out an alternate route this evening.
Not only are this city's streets not in compliance with anything resembling a grid pattern
, they seem to, at best, vaguely mirror the meandering Grand River
. No, the river might have some logic. Kitchener's streets are insane. I'm still amused by the fact that someone thought it was worth mentioning that fact in Wikipedia too
Fortunately drunken city planners are no match for a Petro Canada
station with an atlas of Southwestern Ontario
and a helpful fellow motorist. I found my way home soon enough, vowing to spend more time studying Google Maps before finding myself a new way home.
While in October I experienced a 50% jump in spam
, November was not as nasty - the junk bin only had about a third more spam than in the previous month.
Still, that's a ridiculously huge amount of spam. If it wasn't for the strong spam filters, I would've abandoned by e-mail address for a 'clean' account ages ago. Treasure Hunter
linked to a story in my October total post that talked about how botnets
are used to generate spam these days.
And given how I suspect most of those bots - infected computers silently controlled by third parties to send out spam - are running an unsecured copy of Windows.
While I'd like to bash people for not knowing better, that's like insulting a kitten for being too cute. Actually, it's nothing like that but I'm stuck for analogies right now - it is
the end of a long workweek, and I have been up for - oh dear - about 20 hours now.
So I'll conclude with my point: shame on Microsoft for releasing products that can so easily be hacked and turned into weapons of mass annoyance.