Where does the good go

Archive for March, 2011

Conversation of the Day

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

Me: Did you and Peih take a [Lamaze] class?
Pi: No, I watched a DVD.





Keepin’ it classy, Mayor Mike

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

After his disaster winter, you’d think he’d try getting lessons from cities that have figured out how to clear snow in less than a week and a half.


Kids in the fall

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

Okay, if it weren’t winter right now, that title would be genius!

So let’s see, oh my cousin has wormed her way back into my mother’s good graces and we’re allowed to talk to Sammy again. He’s going to school now:

Adorable, no?

My Arizona nephew is growing up to be a giant:

I figured you should know that I know a giant and while I’m not saying he will crush your house with his foot if I ask him to, I am saying he *could* crush your house with his foot if I asked him to. Just something to keep in mind when deciding who to send cupcakes to.

Hmm, what else…still no Chinese nephew yet. So we lost our pool bet.

Why does he hate me already?! #races

Of course, I’m kidding. He’s not racist, he’s just a fetus; you can’t be racist when you still have gills. Actually, one time I actually did call my friend’s six-month-old kid racist and she got really mad at me. That was the day I learned you can only say two things about babies out loud or in print.

Conversation of the Day

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

30-something team leader: AARP keeps sending me pamphlets and stuff in the mail. I really don’t get it.

Guy: I think they figure once you move to the New Jersey suburbs you’re all done.

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Peter and Petitedov visit shut in island!

Monday, March 7th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

I’m now convinced Petitedov only comes to my house so she can see Kearns.
“Where is he?” She said looking around eagerly.
“Kearns only visits when Ugarles comes over. Sorry.”
And then she and Peter took their box of delicious Artichoke squares and went home.

No, that didn’t happen! Instead, we had delicious pizza and lemonade and watched The Little Mermaid. When the movie started, I kept reminding myself not to sing along and also not to immediately fast forward to “Under the Sea,” like I usually do. I haven’t seen the first 20 minutes of that movie in so long that, for a moment, I thought I’d put in the “extras” disc and not the movie.
(Aside: who watches those “extras” discs anyway? I own almost a hundred DVDs and I’ve never once watched a “Director’s cut” with the voiceovers. I want to see the movie I love, not watch rehearsals.)
Anyway, my worries about not ruining the movie with my horrible singing voice (side eye) were totally unfounded, as Pdov also knows all the songs and dialogue! So we did a joint Little Mermaid live performance! Which Peter said was as enjoyable as his famous homemade cider. O_O
After the movie was over and the thunderous applause died down, it was on to Kinect mania!
The Kinect is the XBox Wii equivalent. It is highly addictive, but I’m terrified I will slip, fall and end up in a coma if I play it alone, so whenever I have guests, I make them play with me.
(Dear F-train, windows, floors, Kinect!)
We started with a simulated pentathlon, but I set it up wrong and we ended up playing against the computer and losing horribly. Usually, I just lose to Kearns and he gives interviews to “the press,” about how easy each of his victories were. I’ve since banned him. #Moscow1980stance
Next up was the Kinect bowling.
“I’m awesome at this on the Wii,” Pdov exclaimed. She promptly threw a strike. And then Peter threw a strike…and then the *imaginary* ball somehow fell out of my hand and I threw a three.
“Look. You guys know how I feel about losing. Do what you want, but no one leaves here until I win!”
They laughed. I dropped the imaginary ball again. They laughed some more.
“Bowling is RACES!”
Peter won the first game.
Pdov dropped the ball during the second game and goes “I pulled a Dawn!”
“I do NOT approve that term coinage! NOT!”
Peter won the second game.
I pushed him and grabbed his arms in the third game and easily cruised to a one point victory.
In the fourth game, I hit a turkey and won by a billion points!
Pdov, angered by her failure to win any bowling games, decided to punish Peter and I in the dancing game. I actually think Kaz, will love this thing. As for me, I spent all of today doubled over in pain after an embarrassing attempt to finish the “Poker Face,” routine on easy!
It was almost worth it though, to watch Peter dancing! But I was hurting too much to reach my video camera…lemon.

Oh, it was also the first time I tested out the automatic soap dispenser…Peter said he couldn’t figure out what it was. :(

Quote of the Day

Monday, March 7th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

“Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.” — Aristotle

Serenity Now…

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

Someday I will write a screenplay based on the personalities I meet in my job.

I’m what’s called a document coder. I’ve been a document coder for almost two years. Before that, I was a corporate attorney and before that I was a judicial clerk. I never thought I’d be a document coder, heck, I spent an entire year playing Mega Millions and being “retired,” in the hopes of avoiding coding altogether. But, somehow, I never hit the jackpot and the savings “cushion” I had amassed during my seven years at Big Law firms turned into a threadbare picnic blanket. I needed to work again.

My first foray into document coding wasn’t terrible. I got a gig working at a huge plaintiff’s law firm in Manhattan. I reviewed documents, which is what most document coders do, but we also had weekly team meetings with snacks and case updates. There was the unspoken promise of a better contract attorney position to come. I wore a suit, shared an office with two other coders and got myself health insurance and a brand new BMW. Four days later, the project ended and I was unemployed again.

Luckily, I fell into another document coding job. This experience was nothing short of a scene from Dante’s Inferno; one of the deep, dark grotesque circles of hell, complete with freezing temperatures even though it was the middle of July in New York City.

I woke up at four a.m. to get to work at 6 a.m. and I returned home after nine p.m. In between, I shared a conference room with seventy other coders. It had two sealed windows and four “supervising coders,” who enjoyed their jobs immensely. We had a 30 minute lunch break. It was a miserable seven weeks, and when the case inexplicably slowed down and forty of us were summarily dismissed on a Thursday afternoon, I was elated — impending bankruptcy or no.

I vowed I would never accept a coding assignment in warehouse ever again. Coders basically serve as one of the lowest rungs on the litigation ladder. Parties file lawsuits and as part of discovery there is usually a request for hard drives and documents from certain people. Coders look through all these documents and decide which documents are relevant and which are chain emails sent by the various parties’ moms. And, of course, what’s just porn.

I don’t know why the warehouse model has become so pervasive. These assignments can easily be accomplished from any home with a laptop and an internet connection.

I’ve done a few other coding assignments since my stint in the underworld in the summer of ’09. My last assignment was probably the best. It lasted almost a year and I even managed to get vacation and paid time off. Alas, all good things must end and it did.

I was unemployed again, but used the time off to take care of some health issues I’d been neglecting. A week after I was medically cleared, a friend of mine, who still works at a big law firm, said she was hiring a coding agency for a new project and asked if I’d returned to work. She put me in touch with the HR guy at the agency she chose and after a cursory phone interview, he hired me to start that Monday.

I walked into the office and was horrified to discover that not only, was it only a few blocks away from the Inferno, it was almost identical in set-up. I was one of thirty coders in a room the size of an average high school classroom. There was little to be done. My friend had vouched for me, so I had to grin and bear it, as they say. Well, bear it anyway.

What I’ve noticed about document coding is that there’s a wide range of coders. Those, like me, who once knew a better, happier (though by no means “happy”) life in the legal profession and those who have never known anything but document coding. (If you go to law school kids, go to a nationally ranked top ten school, or else, graduate first or second from your regional program. It’s a cold hard world out there.) There are those, again, like me, who keep their head down, do their time and pray for the day to end. There are others who actually believe they are practicing law.

So, there are countless incidents like this: The attorneys at the law firm will come down and give a presentation on the issues and tell us what we’re supposed to be looking for in these documents. For instance, this is a fraud case and the plaintiffs allege that Mr. Jeremy Cat has sold the same property, Blackacre, to three different people. They pulled all the documents from Mr. Cat’s nine computers and his smart phone, plus all the documents of the three people. Certain words will always be responsive in context: Blackacre, Mr. Cat, “transaction,” “sale,” “fraud, etc.” Those who keep their heads down and do their jobs, search for relevance. Once it’s been found, they click the document and move on to the next one. Those who think they’re practicing law, ask questions like this:

“So, this document doesn’t say Mr. Cat. It just says “Cat.” Should we include it, just in case?”

These are the people that force these agencies to hire supervisors. Supervisors who now have to say something like “well, how does it say cat?”

“Um…well, it just looks like Sally was asking someone to feed her cat while she was away. But, it made me wonder about a document that maybe doesn’t say ‘Mr.'”

And then some other, equally brilliant legal mind will add “Or what if the document has the work “catastrophe,” or “escalation,”…no wait… “catatonic.” (That, my friends, is a true story.)

The random hypotheticals can go on for hours. And while you’d think, an utter waste of time would be a welcome break, the quarters are so cramped and warm, you can actually feel yourself getting carbon dioxide poisoning from the unnecessary talking.

Thankfully, by the fourth day of this project, half the people were cut from the team. My friend called that night to see if I’d survived. I laughed.

“I did.”
“Oh, good. I figured he wouldn’t be stupid enough to cut you, but I wanted to check.”

With a smaller team, more room to breathe and less pungent odors from the stinky meals people bring in from home, a new problem emerged. Friendly chatter.

It’s probably because I am a card carrying loner, but the only thing I hate more than small talk is…well, give me a minute…I’m sure…oh, small talk by my dentist when I’m numb from anesthesia and not only don’t want to respond, but can’t respond. Hmm… but I guess technically, that’s still small talk, so…

The second day with the smaller team, one guy breaks the silence with this peculiar observation:
“Document coding is like doing cocaine in the 80’s. You’re in a room full of strangers for 10 hours, talking about everything except what you’re doing.”


The next day it was “Document coding is like playing five card draw with 18 decks of cards!”

Okay, now I’ve never done cocaine, so I couldn’t really judge his first analogy — well, okay, I could and did *judge* it, but I’ve played five card draw, so now I know he’s just an idiot.

Then there’s the guy that always has to tell a joke every five minutes “So we’re looking for Mr. Cat. I guess they just gave up on Mr. Dog!” He laughs and then adds “I’m just kidding!” And laughs some more.

And then you want to die. Or for him to die.

In the newly emptied out suite, I chose an interior computer with empty spots on either side of me. I don’t get up very often, and decided to use my airplane “window seat,” strategy to minimize disturbances. The next day, another coder decided to come into my aisle and take the computer on my wall. She’s also one of those “roamers.” Every twenty minutes or so she’s getting up or coming back and now I have to slide my chair in and out. Ugh. Too late for me to move anywhere better. I swear in French. A language which I do not speak.

I simply turn up the volume on my ipod. I’ve gotten my entire day down to a playlist of 148 songs. A lot of show tunes. Especially show tunes about sad downtrodden characters triumphing over their sad, spirit crushing conditions. These make me sing (silently) and dance (in my chair.) I forget where I am. The merciful lord has blessed me with a vivid imagination. Occasionally, I will get tapped on the shoulder.

I pull out an ear bud.

“Are you a performer?”
“Are you an actor or singer?”
“You always seem to be having such a good time at your station…what are you listening to?”
Right now? Right now, I’m listening to the irritating sound of interruption and busybodiness.
“Um…a bunch of different soundtracks…Glee…Wicked…Les Miz.”
“Ah. I could have sworn you were rehearsing for something. My aunt used to do that when I was a kid. Sing to her music.”
I smile and reach for my dislodged ear bud…he gets the hint.
“Okay, I’ll let you get back to your music.”

A couple of weeks into the project, the boss walked into the room to ask us to give a ballpark on how many documents we were getting through a day. No one answered. He made eye contact with me, I answered. There were audible gasps throughout the room.

He put his hands up and said “Don’t worry. She’s been going a somewhat fast. You’re all fine. I just need a general range.”

Others started giving numbers as low as half the one I just uttered. Whoops.

When he left, people started asking me questions. My years of practice at the poker table, successfully sold my “I can’t hear you because of the ipod” performance.

And then on Friday our supervisors decided to institute a “star system.” All the coders’ names were written on the board and various people were given stars based on helpful comments like “I saw a document that said “Mr. Cat,” but it’s not our Mr. Cat. It’s a letter he’s writing to the nursing home about his father.”

Seriously, I’ve seen that document thirty times, I marked it non responsive and moved on, why is there an announcement being made about it 20 days into the review? Sigh.

But now I’ve got to take the ear bud out every time they make one of these star announcements. Then someone suggested they add Charlie Sheen’s name to the board. And another person added that he should be given the most stars to make sure he was “winning.”

And someone else said “and we should take a picture of the board and tweet it to him on twitter!”

I looked to the heavens and asked God why he had forsaken me. Plus, I wore black jeans that day. It was Friday and…well, I like jeans.

Evidently, the company has a strict dress code policy. So I got a talking to on two separate occasions from each of our supervisors.

Both conversations starting with the phrase “It’s no big deal, but…”

And then the Napoleon supervisor, who had called me over the day before to say I had miscoded a document, only to come back ten minutes later to say he was wrong, found an actual document I had miscoded and just about peed his pants pointing it out.

Just when I settled into a rousing silent rendition of “Defying Gravity,” my computer crashed. I honestly thought about just going home at 3 pm.

Then I thought about my stupid mortgage.
“Come on! Just three and a half more hours! Then it’s the weekend.”

An hour later, I realized I’d made an adding error. Still three and a half more hours!


At five o’clock, they made an announcement that I would get a star for being the quietest reviewer. I’m not going to lie, I’m competitive enough that I was glad.

Also, I had to go to the bathroom, but was afraid to go out into the hallway wearing jeans, since the black color had fooled no one. I watched the clock impatiently. After five minutes, I just couldn’t stand it anymore and took my chances. If they fired me or sent me home, so be it.

I made it there and back unseen!

Then my computer crashed again.

*Head desk*

Stuff that happened

Saturday, March 5th, 2011 by Dawn Summers

Vinnay has season tickets behind the dugout. Or something hockeyier. He and Astin sat there. Mark and I got last minute tickets from stubhub. We were in the “Colored” section. I could not look down for fear of falling.
Buffalo was wailing on Toronto throughout the first period. I was tweeting the game until Mark was all “stop tweeting and watch the game! This is why you think there’s a dugout in hockey!”
He served as my personal Dumbledore for the rest of the game telling me why people were cheering even though no one scored.
“My favorite sound is the puck hitting the goal post.”
“But then doesn’t that mean they missed?”
“Yes. But you know how close they got? Ping!”
The man loves his hockey.
He also promised he would bring his special wings for me at Vinnay’s party the next day.
“Cool! I think we’re all going to Gabriel’s Gate tonight!”
Mark looked away and whistled.
The Sabres destroyed the Raptors by a million touchdowns to 2 runs and all the Canadians in attendance were sad.
“Do we have to be nice and sympathetic to Astin?” Mark asked
I laughed.
“No. hahahahahahahahaha”
After the game we’re walking back to the car, I am DYING. The snow mounds are just about thigh high on me. The guys kept having to wait for me to catch up. Finally, we get to the car and I’m all “Gabriel’s Gate!”
How did we end up in the Cozumel parking lot? HOOOWWWWW???
We’re all standing around the entrance waiting for the cool kids to finish their cigarettes when the snow started calling me. I balled up a fistful and threw it with alarming accuracy. It hit Vinnay right in the face.
“It was an accident! I was aiming for the guy behind you…You can’t prove it was me! Astin did it! You wouldn’t hit a girl!”
Oh, he so would.

Read the whole thing. Cause I said so.

Because I’m getting snarky comments from strangers

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 by Dawn Summers

Two new posts are up now.