Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We've Moved!

Loyal Readers --

One final reminder that we have moved to thongcharm.tumblr.com.  I have set the redirect from www.thongcharm.com -- so that link should continue to work.

Thanks for sticking with us!

--Lilac and Priya

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We have a new Blog

Pardon our schizophrenia as we move to a new blog on TUMBLR. Insert happy la la music here. Finally I will no longer have Tumblr envy!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Doctor's Offices Pet Peeves

Perhaps because I'm a business person I like to see things run professionally. It just scares me when:

The doctor doubles as receptionist.

The receptionist speaks loudly, yells at you and also does not enunciate her words (actually this one has happened multiple times).

The doctor's office requires you to come in-person to fix medical billing errors to talk with some guy named Steve who sits at the second desk around 9 am.

The doctor's office sends you mail indicating your test results are normal, but does not send you the test results.

The doctor's office building also houses a social security office. When you go to your appointment the building has had a major fire and is shut down for 3 weeks.

You have to wait over 45 minutes to see anyone.

Your doctor asks you to try on your glasses frames because they seem like they'd work for her.

They tell you they'll call your scrip in but never do, and when you call back for help, you get the confused run around.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Forward me that email?

Back when I worked with Molson, so many years ago (Hi Molson!), we set up a system. No article was ever forwarded without a succinct 1-sentence description of why you should care.

Why? Because a link and a "this is cool" subject line is absolutely useless.
  • On a plane, I get no access to it - and in consulting this was a significant amount of my time
  • Half the articles written on earth seem to bury the lead anyways, so I have to read a lot to determine what is cool
  • If it's relevant to a specific area of my work, I'd like to read it in context. If it is a bouncing kitty on a trampoline, I'd like to read it when I have a need for levity. Swapping those is more than annoying
Increasingly, I'd like to extend this to all email forwards. I get dozens a day - and they often have the useful statement:

See Below. Can you help?

Below tends to be an interminable string of unmitigated madness, often starting with "can you make a meeting in the Hague on Thursday", and somewhere in the middle, mutating to a need for better cheese in the conference room, and finally asking if there's a slide on the market value of canned meat - with which, I'm presumably to help.

If I am particularly unlucky, half the communications will be in Catalan or Mandarin, and there will be no context as to whether the canned meat slide is external or internal. And, the request is always mildly urgent, as most canned meat market sizing slides are.

So, how do we remedy this? With a new rule:

If you're going to send a forward, write a whole sentence explaining:

a. Why I should care
b. What specifically you want me to do
c. When you need it done
d. Why you're so sorry that this request has come in at 5pm on a Friday but it's urgent because the canned meat market is collapsing before our very eyes

Else, expect your request to be... neglected. Not because I hate you or find your email font offensive, but because I can't get through all the madness in your forward to actually serve your request in the slivers of time between meetings and in the boring bits of conference calls.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bureaucracy, as defined by Pynchon

As I continue in my unending quest to read all Thomas Pynchon books ever written, enjoy this particular line from Gravity's Rainbow. The scene - a mental/research institution called the White Visitation. The issue - that one Brigadier Pudding might be shutting down Pointsman's pavlovian program. The program - a series of surreptitious tests on a man who has an uncanny ability to predict where bombs in wartime london will fall.

"..Pointsman has a slight advantage. By facing squarely the extinction of his program, he has gained a great bit of Wisdom: that if there is a life force operating in Nature, still there is nothing so analogous in a bureaucracy. Nothing so mystical. It all comes down, as it must, to the desires of individual men...But survival depends on having strong enough desires - on knowing the System better than the other chap, and how to use it. It's work, that's all it is, and there's no room for any extrahuman anxieties - they only weaken, effeminize the will: a man either indulges them, or fights to win.."

After Pointsman calmly listens to the discussion, he continues with his program of procuring a late night dominatrix for Brigadier Pudding to keep him pliant.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Rang?

I'm in a funny position in my company. As the product marketer of the cheese, I actually tend to know a lot about the entire cheese process.

To many people, I'm the only person marketing cheese - they don't know that there's a cheese advertising division placing "MooNow!" ads on Facebook and a cheese analyst interface decision, trying to woo the good people of Food & Wine and Gourmet magazine. I am all these things - all cheese marketing.

To others, I am the primary conduit of product information, since no one has met the guy who orchestrates the hole-cheese ratio in the swiss or the guy with the barrel of culture in the back room. I am the one who knows our slicability quotients and spreadability factors.

But, in this position - I get a LOT of questions from a LOT of people. And, it's my job to generally be helpful. But - sometimes I don't want to be helpful. So, I made a short list of ways to get me NOT to go above and beyond my stated job:

a) Treat everything like an urgent fire drill - always. If you can't identify your need for a speaker on cheese recipes for your Dairy Users Group more than 14 days in advance, your emergency is not my problem

b) Make requests that are outside my scope of responsibility - and fail to acknowledge that you're asking for more than you should. Yes, I can see how "largest swiss cheese hole" might win us the Guinness Book of World Records prize, but it is not my job to grab my ruler and head to the factory. So, if you're asking me to do it, at least acknowledge that it's a favor.

c) Escalate things to my management that are outside my scope of work. Failure to go to the factory with a ruler on short notice is not a reason to call me out. Making me look bad for not doing it will earn you many a demerit.

d) Make requests that are technically part of your job. You run the Dairy Users Group. You recruit the speaker. I can be your speaker - and I can suggest speakers knowledgeable in the cheesy arts - but recruiting them is your job. Don't pretend it isn't.

There's more, I'm sure of it. But, these are the burning issues. So, what are the ramifications of pissing me off?

1) Email response degradation. You might find your email sits in my inbox for far longer than anyone else' - even when you mark it double urgent with a side of jalapenos

2) Going the extra millimeter. Sure, I can send you the document you're looking for. Or, I can send you a link t the web site behind the VPN from which you can get the document. Or I can tell you to go find that website, which I've given to you before, because "I'm not on the network now" or "I'm responding from my phone." 

3) Being SUPER kind to  your peers. Nothing is more disconcerting than finding out that someone is a doll to your peer, and an asshole to you. Your stories of difficulty working with me wont hold water, since everyone else in your group gets the white glove treatment. They can write you a thank you note for your jerkiness later. And you can wonder... is it you?

I have a lot of priorities in my day. I have a deep desire to turn off my work on occasion at night. I hate working weekends. You're overflow - and no one cares whether you're happy or not. So you better be respectful, grateful and pleasant - or you might find you get nothing at all.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Party on the A Train

A Train, 6:30 PM, Saturday Night

1st - 6 teenagers clap and sing in a circle while their friends take turns doing half hearted dance moves in the circle

they leave

next stop - A guy with an accordian gets on, plays a few lackluster notes and then his 10 year old son goes around collecting money

they leave

next stop - A very large man dressed as an african magi gets on, saying something about something. He smells like incense

he leaves

through it all, the 5 year old girl sitting next to me kept jumping up and going over to dance in front of whomever got on