January 2008 - Posts
And what is that wonderful creation courtesy of Dell, you ask?
A laptop you desperately need for the winter.
One that generates massive amounts of heat.
Well, it's nothing that's especially unique to Dell, but you will never appreciate a scorching hot laptop more than when you've boarded a streetcar after spending any time being buffetted by December winds in downtown Toronto.
It's a sweet relief to feel the Dual Core processors churn so hard that the computers fans are forced to work overtime shunting the warmth onto your legs.
Especially true when some bloated walrus of a TTC patron decides to leave a window open. Gah.
When downgraded from expected first class tickets for
whatever reason, make sure to still make use of the airport’s First Class Lounge to make you forget you’re not reclining
in a ultra-luxurious pod for the duration of the flight. See Business Etiquette Master Class for additional
guidance on instructions on use of the Lounge.
Having completed said Master Class, bear the following tips
in mind for the actual flight:
baby seated with the young couple next to you in the “baby basinet
priority extra legroom row” will end up crying loudly in your ear for the
remainder of the flight.
- It will, however, gurgle happily while the plane taxis to the runway.
the baby’s cuteness while it paws at your magazine during the airplane’s
taxi procedures on the runway. Point out that Feist is on the cover of the
magazine, and that the 767’s in-flight safety card is indeed yummy but
probably shouldn’t be tasted to confirm said fact.
the build-up of karma generated in step 2, immediately agree to any
suggestion from the flight attendants during the taxi procedure to move to
another empty row following takeoff.
Insights: the young couple gets a free third seat to help
accommodate their baby. You get to spend the rest of the flight surrounded by
other young childless people in other parts of the plane.
And most importantly, you’ve been express-relocated to two
or three empty seats which allow you the luxury of stretching your legs or
perhaps your entire body laterally, making it unbelievably easier to get work
done or write tongue-in-cheek travel guides.
Plus you don’t listen to a crying baby for the rest of the
flight. As happy as the baby looks now, it’s less than a year old, it’s his
first flight, and he will cry incessantly
in your ear if you don’t move.
And you’ll look a lot better than the jerk in row 33 who didn’t
follow the above guidance and received the scorn of his fellow travllers in
addition to having his already sketchy chicken and egg-rice dinner further
mishandled surreptitiously by the flight crew.
When travelling with a business companion and only one of
you manage to score access to the airport’s First Class Lounge, it is perfectly
acceptable to quote-unquote “abandon” them in the regular lounge given that:
- You personally take your best shot at sneaking them in, even if you know the plan is doomed to failure,
not a lightweight,
need the WiFi to catch up on deadlines, and
smuggle out as many goodies as you can, given that you’re not a
lightweight and your laptop bag has extra space.
The fourth point is known as the
“sharing the wealth” principle and shall be held inviolable.
You should of course have unloaded your laptop bag of everything except the essentials. To not do so would leave you unable to fulfill the most important fourth point, and will also punish you if you have to carry your laptop bag on your back or shoulders any non-trivial distance.
Plus you'll probably have all sorts of sharps which airport security will find and destroy. I don't mean sharps in the biohazard medical waste sense - I'm in the accounting profession, not medicine - but rather the tools of the trade auditors find themselves lugging around. Like scissors. And razor sharp letter openers.
I seem to have a new fan, which is always good news. Well, perhaps a little less so when you hear things like this sent to you by e-mail.
"So, what kind of person has all that pent-up rage, hostility and
bitterness, but doesn't have the guts to allow others to comment to his
I don't know the answer to that question, really, since comments have always been enabled on any site I've been posting to. Regardless, I'm glad to join the esteemed club of people who are accused of pent-up rage, hostility and bitterness - although I haven't yet scored "accountant hater, a malcontent, ... (or) Sage of Omaha".
I don't think there's anything "pent-up" about my rage, as I'm quite liberal in dispensing it when necessary. Perhaps I'm generally quite happy which is why it doesn't appear very often as I don't get a chance to get really upset too frequently.
But then, this isn't about the ad hominem attacks on me, it's about the comments!
I shared the above quote and some of other angry observations not worth quoting here with one of my friends who quickly observed, "I'm confused. Why would this person even bother writing you. They have no life."
Anyway, there were some other comments which betray not spending enough time to read some other posts on the site, or perhaps, even the "About" box in the sidebar, but then, I know we're all in a rush these days.
Which means that either the person rushed through, or perhaps the minimalist layout of this site layout is nevertheless confusing.
So here my gift: a direct link to the "join" page. You'll also find a link in the top right corner with the word "join".
I've written before that I'd prefer to have a 'guest' function using a sophistciated captcha in addition to a log-in system for frequent visitors but I don't have the time to set something like that up right now. Maybe one day in the future someone will come up with this solution in an easy-to-implement package. Until then, you're welcome to log-in and share your witty comments with me and the world.
I suppose I'm intrigued to find out why I was accused of being nothing more than a 'blog critic', given that it's more of a tangent to the regular topics discussed here, but then, I suppose it also doesn't really matter.
Try camping outside the entrance to a first class lounge. The free wireless signal just might trickle out.
I don't have to use this trick tonight, and make sure you're not violating any rules by doing this. Airports are strict, after all.
The possible travel news I alluded to recently is finally becoming a reality later tonight I'm flying to France!
We'll see if I find to document my adventure over the next few days. I'm home late, packing at the last minute, and then heading off on a trans-Atlantic trip that'll be very much unlike my last European Adventure, which was a backpacking excursion.
I'll have to head out early to check out the Maple Leaf Lounge and all it has to offer. Fun.
And the Parisian weather looks awesome, compared to the current January blah Toronto weather. Which means I don't have to pack too much cold weather gear. Unless I make it to the Alps for one of the weekends.
It's a new record, 2690 pieces of junk mail beat the previous record of 2541 set in August.
Interestingly, before then, December 2005 was the record holder.
Interpreting spam as a desperate attempt to make money in time for the Christmas holidays. That's an idea. Then what explains the increased activity in August? More kids trying out scams while bored in the summer before going back to school?
I may be on the road for the next two weekends and that's fine - because the next two weekends apparently won't have new Simpsons episodes. Less than 90 minutes until Ralph takes centre stage.
I was planning ages ago on writing a little bit about the lack of glamour associated with business travel. Sure, going places with your laptop and having the ability to expense your meals sounds exotic until you realize that you're going to end up in Sudbury or Kentucky. Not that there's anything wrong with either of those places, but seriously, wouldn't you rather go to Paris or Tokyo instead? Of course you would.
Unfortunately young auditors don't get exposed to big huge perks like that all the time. But we keep crossing our fingers and hoping that our luck will change. And if all goes well, I might just get to enjoy a little bit of that luck soon.
Easy answer. This one.
My first response to his associated related "Recruit Genie" site was "BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA" coupled with, "was this designed by a 12 year old with too much time on his hands?"
"Strange as it may seem, employees don't have many free speech rights,
especially when it comes to making negative, public comments about
their current employer. That's just fine with us..."
Which former Soviet Republic did you grow up in? How many cold winters did you experience in Siberia?
Yes, badmouthing your boss is not something that's a Good Idea, but coming out like the all-knowing Oracle with your own commentary is worse than amateur. It looks like the sit is really a Borat DVD easter egg or something similar.
It gets funnier, though. This is worse than the sales pitches I attempted for my college newspaper back in the day:
No, you have absolutely ZERO content. What are you going to try next? Just asking for donations.
Oh dear no. He did. On his other site, America's HR Answer Man.
If you benefited from your visit to HRAnswerman on Blogspot and want to
help keep this blog alive, please consider making a donation. You don't
need a PayPal account to donate. All donations appreciated.
How did I find the link? The ad sales link says the person you're buying from is "larrybradley.com". For some reason that website isn't working at the moment, but Google points me to this page.
It reveals a small family of sites that Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time, I suppose.
Of the three posts at HRAM, one has a comment that amuses me to no end - it's a spamvertisement for another site. The response bears repeating, "Well, Kev, the HRAM wonders if complycaster.com is your product?...".
Yes, it clearly is. And they're truly aiming low with their own marketing campaign if this is one of their marketing tactics, that much I can say with confidence.
As much fun as it is to bemoan another horror of the internet, I'll lay off. Well, when just as soon as I'm done pointing out:
Thanks again to Francine for pointing out this family of sites - and I suppose I've given her an insanely thorough and detailed answer to her question, "Anyone know who is behind this? Is it the Club?"
The Club in this question has but one member, who is also the president.
I started out today by writing a post in response to another post. But as much as I enjoy navel gazing, I eventually segued to my new point. The photo is probably the most unrelated illustration ever used here, which is saying a lot.
I'll have to digress for a minute. I was biking home from work and
simply had to stop when I saw this. Think notorious neighbourhood,
house with expensive cars behind a fence, and this crazy derelict
furniture with questionable food. Living in Toronto is a treat - or at
least an exercise in the experiencing the transmundane - and here you find evidence why.
If only to validate the feeling that I can do better by doing so myself, I have to start writing more again. Thanks to Francine for pointing this out.
One of my friends paid me a fine compliment early on when I started writing here, saying that this is a 'real' blog - in the sense that useful information is shared, and it's not just a personal diary. I keep the introspective stuff to a minimum - I'll upload random photos like the sushi couch to keep things interesting when the topic turns dry or perhaps simply esoteric.
Anyway, the official PWC blog I linked to has been running since August and after giving it a quick glimpse, and it looks like is part of PWC's recruiting campaign:
"This summer she’s working with the national recruitment team
again—helping plan new initiatives and contributing to our PwC Business
Class marketing campaign."
I very much enjoy running an independent site, and having free rein to offer general commentary on economic issues or actually go into detail on specific accounting topics.
I'd say I haven't done much of the latter lately, but I haven't really been doing much of either, which is glaringly obvious from that little sidebar showing that I haven't had a double-digit month of postings since last August.
I admire Cordie's goals, but feel that there's just enough there. There's a quick blurb over what the first week on the job is like, for example, but it seems to lack something. Flavour. Spice.
The trouble with details is the "your mileage may vary" phenomenon. You write about one experience, probably your own, but it won't necessarily be universal. Am I going to get to the point about hours? Yes. Slowly.
See, the trouble with details isn't really trouble. It's part of the fun. And if you have gained some experience, you can add in some alternate scenarios based on experiences your friends and others have had. Or if you have a sufficiently decent audience reading, some of your readers or fellow writers will chime in with their stories.
I'll circle back later to the first days on the job later, and I'll even get to the promised discussion on how much you have to work, but first I thought I'd take another look at Francine's post regarding the recruiting process.
She quotes a Californian student who says that Deloitte's recruiters were universally attractive ladies, and posits that this is a cheap ploy to attract young males. While the 'pretty people get advantages in life' phenomenon is more than just an anecdote, I wouldn't put too much weight towards that. For starters, the gender mix is roughly equal and is trending towards a female majority these days, so trying to lure men really isn't a clever approach. Would I put that young person's claim in the "making sweeping generalizations that I don't like since they don't really add much value" category? Yes, of course. I would.
Having said that, the recruiting process has its share of cheesiness.
I mean, I've attended recruiting events for kicks. Which technically turned me into a "recruiter". There were some full-timers from HR, and then a series of staff and seniors and some occasional managers or senior managers. And while 'conference style' recruiting events with various firms no doubt occur, what I've seen in general is that each event is a solitary function. One firm at a time, none of this 'brand competition' jazz at most on campus events.
The fun thing, though, is that HR doesn't act as "thought police". You can be completely honest with the students. And it's a smart thing to do. They need real answers about what life is like, both the good and bad.
- Which perks are what they're shaped up to be, and which are a joke.
- Whether you'll get to travel and kick ass or sit in a box factory counting files.
- How hard the exams are (I'll tell you in two months when they tell me if I passed, I said over a year ago).
- What's the pay and career path like?
- What're the hours like?
The list goes on and on. I've volunteered to join in on this fall's recruiting circuit. Will I answer those question here in the interim? I totally intend to.
If you're unlucky enough to be a regular auditor, you'll be asked to work 50 hour weeks during busy season. My mandatory overtime is rarely more than 45 hours. And by "rarely more than" I mean never.
What happens if working 45 or 50 hours isn't your cup of tea? You have two options: work faster to get the work done in 40 hours, or slack off and let the work pile up and hope someone else will help you.
Presented with those options, 45 hours isn't too bad. I found that I actually needed it to get all my work done at a reasonable pace, and I wasn't in much of a rush to run outside as the weather turned miserable.
50 hours? It's harsh, but if you're in a group that works that hard your busy season will generally also be a bit shorter, making the crunch period not as bad. Does it get much worse? Only if you're
- surprised with a sudden deadline,
- poorly managed,
- challenged by special circumstances.
The second scenario is no doubt the most obvious but not necessarily the reason why you're in trouble. The "poorly managed" scenario unfortunately occurs, but this is something you can deal with yourself with minimal experience. If you're in trouble, tell someone instead of staying late, grinning & bearing it.
Managers, unfortunately, aren't mind readers, but optimists actually. If you don't tell them you're overworked and sticking around until 11 pm every night and working 6 days a week can't fly, they'll assume you don't mind. I'm blessed with managers who never try something that crazy, but I know of many groups and companies where this can be a fact of life.
Surprise deadlines suck, do occur, but aren't usually a fact of life if you get #3 under control.
"Special circumstances", however, is a deliberately vague term, as well as the most common "uncontrollable" reason for trouble. The most obvious example is overworked or uncooperative clients. Don't confuse the two categories, though they may of course occasionally overlap. Regardless of the reason, if you don't get the files you need, you can't complete your audit. There are ways of dealing with these kinds of problems too, but I've written more than enough for today.
And of course, the hours discussed above really aren't that bad when compared to the hours worked by the finance kids. Yes, they earn double or more. But they also work double the number of hours. Or more.
I say that with no hyperbole whatsoever. If you don't believe the idea that there are people working 70 to 90 hour weeks that's understandable. I still have trouble comprehending it, but that's exactly what some of my university friends are up to. It boggles the mind.
If you enjoy it, good for you. I, however, prefer my job.