June 9th, 2003

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coalblacksmith

You should introduce yourself to me, or get Bheti, Margaret, Tom, Erica, or some other mutual friend to introduce us. Although there are a couple of people on my friends list who I haven't met, by and large I don't add people I don't know. It's just hard to get a connection with someone I've never met personally.

For a couple of other people who added me to their friends list, this is why I haven't added you back. Or I did and then removed you. It's not necessarily because I dislike you. Most likely I found myself not caring much to read about you simply because I don't know you and have very limited interaction online with you. There's something about seeing a person face to face and reading their posture, mannerisms, and body language that allows me to care. Not in all cases. But I find it extremely hard to care without it.
Mugshot

Vanteon can lick my balls

I got a check in the mail today from Vanteon, my employer through March of 2001. They liquidated my 401(k). Fine. I didn't request it, but I was going to roll it over soon anyway. Here's the part where they can lick my balls though. They decided that I forfeited company contributions of $1686.68. I think this is because they haven't credited me with the correct years of service. Except, the materials I have on my 401(k) state that all employer contributions are 100% vested from the time they contribute them.

I sent a nasty* note to them telling them to call me first thing tomorrow to straighten this out.

Anyway, don't buy anything from Vanteon if you get the chance. Likely, you are not in a position to purchase anything from them anyway, as the company is exclusively a contracting company/vendor. Vanteon looks for companies that want software custom built for them, and then Vanteon bids to build the software needed. However, they have no pre-packaged accounting solutions they are trying to sell. Or any other pre-packaged solution like Peoplesoft that they set up add a few custom widgets to, and then charge you your entire profits for the last year like other vendors. No, Vanteon bids on anything pretending to know what the fuck they are doing, then tries to put something together at the last moment, hoping their engineers can learn enough about Peoplesoft or whatever to get the job done. Invariably they lose money on the projects they do win, because they suck.

Losers. Glad I don't work there anymore.

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    torqued
MacCauley

Progress

One of the things that has been eating at me for a while is my pile of paperwork that I haven't dealt with. Mostly, it's just filing. But there are things in this pile that I probably need to take care of. The pile has built up over the last 2 years, and now fills a laundry basket to overflowing, plus a stack of items next to the basket. Last summer, I sorted everything in the basket into broad categories (e.g., investments, bank statements, bills, insurance, etc.). Then I never got around to actually getting any of the things taken care of and I never got the piles of paper in each category filed into my cabinet. Eventually, after digging through the semi-sorted stacks enough for various needed pieces of paper, the whole bunch got dumped back into the laundry basket and came unsorted.

And now I've got another years worth of paper added to it. Unopened envelopes. Ticket stubs. Old bills. Notices from various places.

This stack has prevented me from taking care of other things. The paperwork to list my house lies in this stack. I haven't been able to put together investment information for possibly switching my investment accounts around. Invitations to events I forgot about and ended up not attending because I never sent an R.S.V.P. sit among the detritus.

A week or so ago, I was talking with Deborah, who also has a similar fear of paperwork. Luckily for her, I don't think she's let 2.5 years of stuff build up like I have. I wasn't sure how to face this pile, how to tackle my fear (yes, fear) of the pile. A thought occurred to me, and Deborah quickly agreed, that I have been looking at the pile all wrong. I've been looking at it as a huge pile.

Instead, I simply need to pull a handful of papers off the top of the pile every day (or at least quite frequently), and file them. Then go on my merry way. I'm not generating an inch of paper every day, so in short order (a month maybe?) I should have forced the pile to dwindle to a mere shadow of it's previous glory.

Today I started. In fact, to kick off the effort, I pulled out a handful in both the left and right hands. Tomorrow, I probably will not be so ambitious.

I created about 10 new files just from that 2 inches, and padded a few existing files. I dug up a change of address form for a bank account I hold in Idaho, filled it out, and mailed it. I filled out a form to get a Seattle pet license for Guinevere. And I found my Vanteon 401(k) materials that stated employer contributions are fully vested, just after getting the notice I wrote about in my previous entry. Nope, it really isn't much. But it's a start. And it's further than I've gotten in almost 3 years.

Onward.

Books

Good in Bed, Jennifer Weiner

Second book I read over the weekend was Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed. The entire book is protagonist Canni'se (short for Candace) struggle to find love, success and fame despite the fact that she is a larger woman. Or that she is fat, basically. It's a Bridget Jones Diary, with different problems.

Jennifer Weiner writes in a pretty engaging style. I didn't put down the book. But throughout, and especially after, reading the book I became more and more disenchanted with the story and the moral. Cannie doesn't really have a lot going for her, other than her fat disability. Perhaps she is an engaging journalist, though the story really provides little evidence of that. Cannie is an entertainment reporter for a Philadelphia newspaper. She writes about celebrities. She writes puff pieces.

Just before the story begins, she dumps her long time boyfriend who loves her greatly. She needs space. She wants to take a break. The rest of the book, she pines for him and blames him for abandoning her. She throws herself back at him, and is resentful when he doesn't jump right back. In fact, being a writer himself, he writes about their relationship in his column in Moxie magazine. No names are mentioned, and his articles are critical of himself and positive toward her and even her size. And yet she feels humiliated. He's a loser I agree, as later on he writes about something Cannie requests that he refrain from publicly revealing.

Anyway, Cannie whines a lot about how fat people are put down. About how it's the last acceptable prejudice. She also whines about not being able to be thin. News flash Cannie, your positions are opposite each other. Either it's acceptable to be heavy, or it's not. If it's okay to be heavy, you shouldn't be spending the inordinate amount of mental energy wishing to be thin. Convince yourself first, and perhaps the rest of the world will follow.

I don't mean that in the literal sense. The world will not become accepting of large people simply because one woman learns to accept herself. But what will happen is that what the world thinks of her size will matter only in passing to a person comfortable with her size. Eventually, Cannie does become comfortable with her size, but only right at the end of the story, and there is not explanation of why, either in her characters actions or in anything of her author-exposed thoughts. For once, I would like to see an author explore the idea of a protagonist being comfortable with their own handicap (for wont of a better term) and show how being well-adjusted affects their perception of other people's prejudices.

The idea that weight is the last acceptable prejudice is a selfish proposition. There are plenty of acceptable prejudices that are wholly unacceptable in my perfect world. But everyone likes to think of themselves and their challenges as completely unique. It ain't so. Yet when a fat person cries out I am oppressed like no other! the nerd in me responds B.S.! I was near friendless and alone for years. I've not walked in a heavy person shoes, but neither has any person walked in my shoes. So why does no one come to my aid? Why is my minority not have a champion?

Therein lies the crux of the problem. We all want people to come to our aid. We want our injustices taken care of, even though deep down we frequently buy into them ourselves, like Cannie does in this story. We want to be recognized to overcoming these obstacles. And we feel cheated when it does not happen, but someone else does get their champion. Some whites see the N.A.A.C.P. and wonder why black people get an organization for their cause, but they do not. Deep down, it only reinforces the idea they themselves hold that they truly aren't worthy. And so the white cause becomes their means to whistle to themselves in the dark.

The same goes for Cannie in the story. Her fight for fat acceptance is an attempt to whistle in the dark to hide her own fear that she really isn't worthy. (The lack of love from her father only reinforces this fear.)

And it is the same fear that causes me to cry out, stop whining! Inside, I want someone to champion my cause, and the lack of a champion reinforces my own fear.

In reality, my happiness is based mostly on what goes on inside me, not on a cause. And so it shouldn't matter to me if my social handicap doesn't receive the same recognition as the currently in vogue defense of heavyset people. It's not a contest.

That's the lesson I learned from this book, although I don't think it's the lesson Ms. Weiner intended. Her moral of accepting people based on who they are not on how they look is valid. But it was drowned in my view by the fact that her character is someone I wouldn't want to spend time with. Nevertheless, it's a book worth reading even for the idea that overweight people should be accepted, as few novels even attempt to fight that battle.

And that ought to get me a few responses.