gamiila: (awkward moment)
...for having left you in the lurch all this time. I don't know how it happened exactly, but I seem to have suddenly fallen out of the habit of logging onto LJ earlier this year; and the longer I've been out of it, the harder it got to get back into. I got to this stage where I was so depressed, that I couldn't think of inflicting any of my tales of unmitigating woe on you lot. To tell the truth, I'm still struggling, but a few things have recently started happening in my life that have given me a glimmer of hope -- though not of paid employment any time soon, I don't think.

It's been a year since I left Apple. At the time, everyone was quick to assure me that with my cv, I'd soon find work again; but that has proven not to be the case. There just isn't, or doesn't seem to be, that much call for an experienced Customer Experience Manager these days. Trust me to have once again picked a profession that doesn't do well in a recession.

So, I've thrown myself into volunteering again. This time, I'm co-coordinating the annual International Food Fair of The Hague. It's my job to approach and recruit the individual countries' boothholders, and make sure they have everything they need from licences to cutlery and electrics, and a sufficient number of volunteers to serve their customers. The event will be held over the weekend of 17/18 Nov. and my job will officially end on the 25th with a wrap-up meeting and evaluation. It's a charitable event, with the proceeds going to all sorts of projects around the world.

Apart from this, I've also started as a catechist (i.e. the RC equivalent of a Sunday school teacher) teaching 2nd grade (7-8 year olds) in preparation for their first Holy Communion in May. Which can be quite challenging at times! Just last Sunday, after I'd related the story of John the Baptist e.g., Gonzalo raised his hand and asked "Miss, don't you think these kind of stories are a nonsense, really?" He was referring, or so I presumed, to the supposed leaping of joy that John, as a foetus, did when he sensed the presence of his Saviour when Mary came to visit Elizabeth; and later, the vision of the Holy Spirit alighting on Jesus in the form of a dove at the time of his baptism. I don't know what the bishop would have thought of my answer, but I didn't think I could dismiss his objection out of hand, so I told him (and the rest of the class) that no, I didn't think these stories were a nonsense per se, but preserved in such a way that people could remember and pass them on easily in the days before books and computers. He's a clever one, that Gonzalo, and I like that at 7 1/2, he's already thinking for himself and questioning authority ;-).

Anyway, autumn's firmly upon us now, and the day before yesterday I took a stroll through the woods near my home. Thankfully, I had my trusty mobile with me, as without it I wouldn't have been able to show you what I saw...

Toadstools! Mushrooms! Fungi! )
gamiila: (!!!)
A trip down Memory Lane: I got these from an Internet forum for ex-HP-employees. I'm in the first row in both these pictures.

gamiila: (bow tie)
Is it bad of me that, despite the fact that I wasn't particularly busy over the weekend, I still managed not to remember that it had been two full years since my father's passing? I would have forgotten all about it if Mum hadn't mentioned it on Sunday.

We met to go to the pictures together, and we saw Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in a really sweet film called Beginners, in which Christopher Plummer plays a 75-year old who after 44 years of marriage comes out as gay, and almost immediately falls ill with terminal cancer. Ewan McGregor plays his grief-stricken son, who has commitment issues in his own life; and another important role is filled by the dad's Jack Russell, Arthur. It didn't disappoint and I'm glad I picked it out of the meagre list of films shown here in town, most of which seem to be of the 3D-variety.

I went to pay my respects to my Dad's gravesite this morning and when I got back, I was approached for the position of Contact Center Analyst by the same recruitment company that got me the interview at Apple back in January, so with a bit of luck and even if this doesn't work out, they'll be able to help me get into another job soon.

By the way, did I mention that 2 days after I had left the Apple office, the MacBook I had left on the train was handed in there? I didn't, did I - but it did! :-)
gamiila: (*headdesk*)
The laptop remains well and truly lost. It's ironic that I had to go into a police station and report it missing soon after completing an online questionnaire about how often I dealt with the police and ticking the 'Rarely or Not at all'-box.

The next day, and after hearing that it was a MacBook, the Left Luggage-attendant declared that it was unlikely it would ever be handed in. I was surprised to hear it. Surely, I can't be the only honest person in The Netherlands, can I?

I had arranged to meet some of my former colleagues from the bank for dinner last night. I turned up at the Thai restaurant exactly on the appointed time but no one else turned up in the next hour, and they weren't answering their phones; so I left and stopped by a chippie on the way home. A day later and no one's called to apologise yet, which I think is rude in the extreme. Right now, the only excuse I'll accept is if they were run over and killed dead while en route to meet me.

And then I found a letter in the post this morning, from the Municipal Tax Office, informing me that they were expecting me to settle my arrears on the dog tax. Dog tax? Since when do I have a dog? They clearly have me confused with somebody else (perhaps the new neighbours, who do have a dog), but it's likely to take a couple of phone calls and maybe a visit from an inspector chappie before this gets sorted out.


Sep. 21st, 2011 09:22 pm
gamiila: (embarrassed)
I've gone and lost my laptop. Against my usual practise, I put it in the overhead container on the train home this evening...and only noticed I hadn't taken it down again and with me when I arrived home. I called Left Luggage immediately, but unfortunately, no one had handed it in (yet). I'll have to try them again first thing tomorrow, because really, I need it. All the work I've done in the last 6 months, it's all saved to 'On My Mac', which means that without it, I won't be able to proceed with any of it.


Sep. 16th, 2011 01:37 pm
gamiila: (hard at work)

Yesterday lunchtime. Me and the boss.
gamiila: (fork)
My boss's boss's boss (Boss3) wants to host the next QBR in Amsterdam, but unfortunately he's picked a week that today, I have learned in the hotel trade is called a black out event. Apparently, there's something going on in town that's caused the general availability of rooms to plummet to around zero, or as near as.

So, earlier in the week, I was surprised to get a request from Boss3's assistant to hie myself over to a particular hotel and inspect their meeting rooms, take pictures and send them on for Boss3's final approval. With Apple's preferred hotel full up, she had had to come up with an alternative and hit on this one, that did have room for 30 guests and boasted about having state-of-the-art meeting rooms available too, although unfortunately there were no pictures of the latter on the Internet.

I duly set up a meeting with the hotel's event manager, took my pictures and expected to hear nothing more about it. Until late yesterday afternoon when Boss3's assistant got in touch again to say that Boss3 had rejected the meeting room as unsuitable on the basis of my pics, and would I mind getting in touch with the Marriott and do the same thing there? She said they were now reconciled to staying at the first hotel (30 minutes walk from the office), but were hoping the Marriott's meeting rooms (only 5 minutes walk away) would be more in line with the standard Apple's upper management are used to.

First thing this morning then, I met with a slick and eager young sales executive at the Marriott, and although I thought I'd made it clear that I was really only interested in seeing the meeting rooms, he couldn't resist giving me his sales pitch and asked whether -subject to availability- we would be open to receiving a quote for both meeting room and guest accommodation. He would cut us a very competitive deal, he said...and I said, sure!

I must admit, I was very impressed with what the hotel had to offer. The meeting rooms and other facilities were way better than the ones I'd seen at the other hotel, and so were the catering options. I'd have been happy to endorse the Marriott to Boss3 there and then, but R. hadn't reached the end of his charm offensive yet. He asked whether I had had breakfast yet, and when I said I hadn't, asked if I would do him the honour. I couldn't really see how I could politely decline, and ended up having some fresh fruit (slices of grapefruit and melon, mango and dried strawberries), a jam donut and a cup of coffee while he tucked into the smoked salmon, feeling slightly uncomfortable throughout because a) could this be construed as a bribe? and b) he kept asking me questions I didn't know the answer to, as I am not on Apple's travel desk.

Finally, he told me all about their award-winning steaks and invited me and a friend to sample them on the house!

Overwhelmed by all this generosity, I made my escape, sent a favourable report and a few pics to Boss3's assistant - and got an unpleasant surprise when a few hours later, Boss3 himself ordered me to go back there because he wanted video, not pics! I called R., who told me he was hard at work on finalising his quote, and agreed to let me video the meeting rooms -- and so 6 o'clock saw me back at the hotel. I felt so silly but R. didn't seem at all put out. He let me know how eager he was to secure our business and repeated his dinner invitation...which I've taken him up on. Sept. 15th I will dine in style and at no cost whatsoever as his guest at the Marriott, regardless of whether Boss3 decides to go with them or not.

What made me accept the offer of dinner? Well, I'm going to be out of a job in a month. I might as well have one last decent meal before penury hits.

Icon meme

Aug. 24th, 2011 09:52 pm
gamiila: (rain dance)
I may have mentioned earlier -in fact, I know I did- that it's been a very wet summer this year, but until this afternoon, I'd managed to avoid the worst showers. Not so today.

When I go out in search of lunch, I usually stop for a chat with the security woman downstairs (as I don't feel comfortable ignoring people whose desks you have to pass by on your way in/out, as most employees seem to do in this building that houses us on the 3rd (and soon, the 1st as well) and a bank on the 5th floor), and sometimes bring her back a little something, too. So, yesterday she told me that lunch would be on her, but because of the office outing, I couldn't take her up on it. Today, she repeated her offer.

There's a really good sandwich bar a couple of streets or a 10-minute stroll away, so I said I'd bring us back some of their tuna loona ciabattas, knowing she's partial to them, and ventured out into the drizzle. I hadn't even reached the corner when it started chucking it down, and within minutes, I was soaked right down to my underwear - my light summer jacket just couldn't cope with the amount of water.

Anyway, I got the sandwiches, walked back, sopping in my ballet flats, and about an hour later started to feel really chilly and uncomfortable in my wet things. Luckily, one of the guys in Retail had a couple of T-shirts left over from a special event, so I changed into those; but couldn't do anything about my wet jeans (or undies, or shoes). And then later, when it was time to go home, I had to put on my wet jacket again as it still hadn't stopped raining!

I took a long hot shower when I got home, but to be honest, I'm still feeling rather soggy.

Heigh-ho. A meme! )
gamiila: (score cards)
If I'd known the office summer outing would be this crap, I wouldn't have wasted two precious hours of my life today.

We were booked on an Amsterdam canal cruise. That was it. Two hours on a boat, in the pouring rain. Not even a bit of finger food or a tour guide to distract one from the miserable-ness of it all.

Boss treated me to dinner in a posh restaurant the other day. Gorgeous food and wine, lovely ambiance, masses of silverware. Thank God our parents insisted on us learning our table manners early on!

He's off on holiday again, is Boss, and I'm holding the fort for the next two weeks. I'm far less nervous about it than when he first put me in charge - how quickly one gets used to power!
gamiila: (she always wished for shoes)
It's been a while since I did a proper shoe post. What can I say? 2011 has been a very disappointing year for footwear fanciers so far; a least, I haven't come across any shoes that have made me break out in that cold, cold sweat of sheer covetousness in recent months. However, I did take advantage of the summer sales to expand on my collection a little.

First, I picked up these off-white leather ankle boots which I thought would be perfect for summer (back in June when I still harboured thoughts that there might be one):

but because it's been raining all the time, I haven't had a chance to wear them yet.

Next, I bought these suede slingbacks that I thought looked comfortable and decent enough for office wear:

and they were; only the first time I took them out of the box, one of the cats puked all over them and I've been trying for weeks to get the stains out without ruining the leather, with mixed results.

Lastly, I acquired these:

because, as I explained earlier, I like mocassins; and these were just too much of a bargain to ignore: marked down from 235 euros to just 19,95! They're by Karma of Charme, which means they're hand-made, but even so, can you imagine the margins they must be making on their products?

I took myself to the hairdressers' yesterday, as I was in dire need of a cut. Before the girl got to work, I shamefacedly admitted that I thought I might have developed a dandruff problem in recent weeks, as lately my scalp had felt itchy and tiny flakes would come out if I ran my hand through my hair and ruffled it. She had a look and told me "It's not dandruff. It's more like a kind of eczema, an allergic reaction of some kind." She gave me a couple of samples of hair products meant to soothe the scalp to try out, but if they don't, perhaps it's best I should speak to my GP. Great :( I kind of wish it was dandruff now...

On Thursday, just before I left work, my boss reminded me that I should start to look for another job again, and asked if I wanted his input to help with updating my cv. I told him thanks and I would, but even though I knew the chance would be slim, in my heart of hearts I had hoped there'd be an opportunity to stay on. Oh well. Back to the job search I go, then.
gamiila: (& smile)
My boss took me out to lunch today. He'd originally planned it as an early birthday surprise, until I told him it's bad luck to mark a birthday before it comes around. So he re-named it 'a Hedwig appreciation, definitely nothing to do with any upcoming birthday whatsoever'-lunch, and invited Joany (who'll be back from her maternity leave on Oct 3rd) along, but failed to inform her of my supersticious beliefs. So she brought me a present, which I haven't opened yet, but which looks and feels suspiciously like a book, in its wrapping paper with the logo of a well-known book emporium on it. Never mind, I'll just have to take extra care not to run under a bus (again) in the next few days...

It was a really nice gesture, and I hope we can all stay in touch somehow after I leave. But I doubt we will. My previous manager, at the bank, texted me 2 months ago asking if we couldn't meet & catch up soon, but has not returned my calls since.
gamiila: (*pout*)
Mum asked me what plans I had for celebrating my birthday. As always, I replied that I didn't have any. There's no point when, like mine, one's birthday falls within the 6 week period that all the world and his wife are off on holiday. It used to bother me when I was a child and no one would remember to send me any cards, let alone come and give me any presents; but after nearly half a century I think it's fair to say that I really know no different, and I've given up inviting people and watch them not turn up years ago.

I'm glad I seem to have missed another DDoS attack on LJ in the past week. It makes me feel better about not having been here since last Sunday, and even then it was just a drive by post. As this will have to be: I've been suffering from acute conjunctivitis since last Thursday and cannot really read/type all that well. I hope it'll have cleared up sufficiently by Monday to enable me to go back to work, and so I take care to take my eye drops every two hours as prescribed, and apply the ointment I've been given every night before bed. I do think my eyes are starting to look better already, but I am worried that the problem may have been caused by my contacts, or rather, me not applying the proper care and hygiene there. You know how it is with routines; after a while, you start to get sloppy. Well, I'm paying the price for it now...

I should be updating my cv really, but I'll postpone it until I can see better, I think. I'm going to have to think about what sort of job I should start looking for as well, as even though I knew I was only on a temporary contract, I have preferred not to think about that too much over the last 3 months. However, several people who have also been on 6- to 12-month contracts have since had their last day in the office, with coffee and cake and farewell speeches, so that doesn't bode well for my own chances of staying on.

And still, the weather hasn't improved :(.
gamiila: (rain dance)
In the Bible, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and the earth was turned into a waterworld. By my calculations, it has now been raining for 51 days at a stretch, and I imagine I know exactly how Noah and his family must have felt all cooped up in their little Ark. Already, our Met have declared this the 'wettest summer since 1930', and it doesn't seem as if there'll be an end in sight any time soon.

I wouldn't mind, only...the leaden skies depress me; and when I'm depressed, I tend to eat far more chocolate than is good for me, which leads to me no longer fitting comfortably in my trousers; which fact would lead to even more depression, except that I have a plan: I'll go on a diet as soon as my contract expires. There's no point of going on one now as there's cake almost every other day at work, as the Sales department always seem to have something to celebrate: if it isn't the opening of a new shop in-shop or store in-store or some record-breaking deal, it'll be somebody's birthday. Which means I'm already racking my brains as to what treats I'm going to bring into the office in a fortnight, when it'll be mine. I do hope it'll stop raining then, if only for the day...


Jul. 4th, 2011 11:55 pm
gamiila: (hard at work)
Boss came back from his hols and came in especially this morning to give me a pat on the back before flying back out, to Milan this time, for a QBR. And so I'm left to hold the fort for another week.

I find myself wishing more and more that I didn't have to go when J. returns to work on Oct 4th. Boss is the best manager ever: he trusts me and lets me get on with things, yet is always there to support me if I need him. He teaches and encourages me to go with my gut on the issues I'm confronted with, and if I have a problem, he'll take time out to talk it through reasonably and calmly until I arrive at the solution myself.

He tells me he's impressed with my work so far, and the fact that we are making progress in our efforts to improve CSAT scores across the board is largely down to me and my amazing communication skills. He says that from his point of view, I'm the ideal deputy, who understands the business goals and needs little or no direction in achieving them. He says a lot of complimentary things like that, and he means them, too.

I wish there could be more managers like him out there.
gamiila: (rain dance)
It's been raining virtually non-stop for the past 21 days - I've been counting them. Even if at first I tried to tell myself that I didn't mind as it meant that plant life and crops had a chance to recuperate from what has been a very dry and sunny spring, right now I couldn't care less about their well-being. I just care about my own and I need sunshine, damnit!

Work's been hectic the last few weeks, as with my boss being off on his hols I've had to take on the majority of his tasks as well as taking care of my own, and cram it all into my 28-hour working week. This was always going to be tough, but what made it even more challenging was the barrage of phone calls and e-mails I've had to endure from European manager, my boss's boss. I've mentioned before how much of an oddball he is - turns out I didn't even know the half of it.

First off, he thinks nothing of ending his urgent messages with the observation that since he is neither married nor a father, he doesn't mind staying till the job is done...and he "expects the same from you!" I know I'm not married nor have any children either, but he sends this to all his team, many of whom do have families. And besides, I may not have a family, but I do have a contract, which stipulates that I've been hired to do a part-time job and a part-time job only.

Knowing I clock off at 5pm, he convenes a video conference for 7pm, and gets all huffy when I tell him I can't make it.

His constant phone calls and impromptu chat and webcam sessions are energy-wasting and time-consuming and keep me from doing what I've been hired to do. And yesterday, on my day off, he got in touch to insist I call round all the resellers and service partners in my region that hadn't uploaded the assessments for all product lines or all locations yet and guide them through the process - which takes about 3 hours per assessment per product line per location. They've had 6 months to comply with this requirement for their continued authorisation to provide service on Apple's behalf, and I've been pointing this out to them since I've started in this job; but there just is no truer adage than that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. So I told him I had other plans for the day, and left him spluttering.

Trouble is, my boss will need his approval for keeping me on after my contract expires...

In another twist to my life's continuing saga of having to deal with managers and their awkwardness, Jobsworth, who has now been unemployed for over a year, has sent me a LinkedIn-request...and I'm unsure how to respond.
gamiila: (oh noes)
A man fell past my window today.

There's been building work going on at our office building ever since I started. It's been dusty and noisy and I've cursed it under my breath several times (and I'm not the only one). Today, they put up some scaffolding outside the windows of my section, and then some builders came, in safety harnesses, and started doing whatever it was they needed the scaffolding for.

At one point I looked up and noticed one of the men wasn't wearing a safety harness. I didn't think anything of it, though; I just went back to work. Next thing I hear is this screech and an awful thud.

The three of us in our section sat bold upright, looking at each other uncertainly and going "Was that...?" "That sounded like..."

The ambulance was there in under 6 minutes. The man was still alive, but he'd fallen 3 storeys and landed on his head, or so the shocked security guard came and told us.

I hope he makes it.
gamiila: (fork)
Friday is my day off (I would have preferred Wednesday, but my weekly reporting to the European overall management is due in at 11am on Thursday), and today, I made pizza! Which is something I'd only ever done once before, more than 20 years ago - but for some reason, today I felt like making my own, from scratch. First I made the dough, then I made a quick and easy topping of passato di pomodoro, garlic and pecorino cheese, and then I heaped handfuls of parmigiano, onion rings, capers, tuna flakes and olives onto my base, drizzled it with olive oil and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Nothing fancy but, even if I do say so myself, it's yummy! It's also very big and I will probably have to eat it for the next 3 days. I don't know why I've always gone for the easier option of just buying them ready-made, 'cause really, it didn't take me that long to make.

Yesterday was iWalk Day at work, which is an annual worldwide event in which Apple employees are strongly encouraged to go outside and walk a distance of at least 3 kms (or run 5) during office hours. So we trooped to the nearby park, walked for an hour clocking up 4,2 kms, which apparently made us burn up 214 calories, and upon returning to the office found we'd each earned ourselves a bottle of water and a wheat bar containing 280 calories.
gamiila: (eleven)
I've got the day off and won't be meeting with a friend until later this afternoon, so I was uncharacteristically lounging abed this morning when the door bell rang at 7:54 am. I'd completely forgotten I'd arranged for a qualified gasfitter to come and do some checks the council said I needed done. They'd given me a window of 'between 8 and 12', so I guess I was first on their list today. I felt really stupid opening the door to him in my nightie.

Yesterday, as I was approaching the station on my way home from work, one of those religious nuts having nothing better to do than to harangue people in the street with dire warnings of impending doom and eternal damnation made me laugh - she shouted, and I quote: "You unbelievers, how can you go on denying the existence of God when you're wearing His clothes?" Srsly? That's the crux of your argument, your ontological proof? I'm wearing God's clothes? So He's about a size 12, then? I didn't stop to debate the issue, or semantics, with her, but I did chuckle all the way back to The Hague.

I haven't been on here much in the past weeks, as really, incidents like the ones above are all that seem to be happening in my life lately and there isn't much point in writing them all down. My life revolves around work these days, and I'm glad that it does, but again, there's not much to tell other than that I'm learning a lot and am enjoying it tremendously; but it's tiring and the last thing I want to do when I come home of an evening is get behind the computer again -- besides, I usually take some work home with me to either read through or play with, all to prepare myself for next month when my supervisor goes on holiday and I'll have to act as regional service manager in his stead. Why yes, I am a workaholic, and I don't know how not to be.

I haven't been able to shake off my frugal induced-by-10 month's-unemployment ways yet, despite in the meantime having received my very welcome first paycheck. Some of it's gone towards funding Common Rotation's next two studio albums, as they asked so nicely; but I'm still dithering over the Sonia Rykiel wedges I've had my eye on for some time. I tried them on again last night, but still couldn't bring myself to part with the cash :(.
gamiila: (technical issues)
What's the best way to go forward if you can't remember what password you used to protect your wi-fi connection at home?

Last night, I found an urgent message from my boss in my inbox, saying the file that I'd been working on all day Thursday and that he needed done by the end of it wasn't in the attachment to the e-mail I'd sent him saying "Ta-daaaa!", and could I try sending it him from home?

Which is when I found out I couldn't as I can't remember what password I used when I set up my wi-fi 16 months ago. I've had to go to Burger King and make use of their free wi-fi there. But what if my laptop gives up the ghost and I need to hook another one up to my own wi-fi at home?
gamiila: (painful)
Summer's come early, with temperatures running in the twenties this week, so this morning I thought I'd wear sandals. I've been pampering my feet for the last couple of weeks getting them ready for service on warm sunny days and today I thought would be a good day to show them off. Unfortunately, with me not having worn these sandals for well over a year, my feet are now covered in blisters...on the soles! Very painful, as I'm sure you can imagine. I don't know how I'm going to get to work tomorrow...

Which reminds me, I took some pictures on my way in to work today, before my feet started hurting. They're here under the cut )

Work continues to be busy, and enjoyable, so that's all good...but even so, all's not well in my world: one of my closest friends has just told me over the phone that the tests have come back positive, in the sense that he's HIV-positive. Having already lost my two best friends, the thought of possibly losing another good friend that I've known for donkey's years fills me with utter dread.


gamiila: (Default)

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