What a pain in the ass this week at work has been. Or is sort of going to be next week, because of what happened this week. It's not exactly anyone's fault, although to be honest I do feel inclined to lay a fair amount of the blame on our IT department: they have too many critical processes assigned to too few people who know how to run them.
One particular critical process is not running properly and hasn't been for about a month -- why it apparently did not get repaired weeks ago, I do not know. But it's needed for getting ad contracts submitted via our online Portal by brokers loaded to our systems, so that we can run an optimization process that loads all the retails into an extract that loads into our system on Monday. Now, none of that's going to happen -- for a number of reasons, but most crucially, because the two people in IT who knew how to fix this by the deadline we had yesterday, are both out sick.
Now, there is also a previous process that, in the past, Kibby and I alternated each month in doing. With Steven in her place, this month it fell to Steven, and, through not necessarily any fault of his own, I'm not sure he truly understood how much he should have been harping on IT about this deadline. Kibby and I have long had the standing procedure of loading the contracts from the Portal on Wednesday of this particular week when it needs to get done, even though Thursday is the technical deadline, just for random contingencies like this that might delay the process.
And here we now bring Patrick, the guy in Deli who does the equivalent job that I do for Grocery and Steven does for Health and Body Care, and the fact that Deli is much more recent in its addition to Portal submission capability. (We did it for Grocery first; HBC soon after; it was some time later before Deli was added.) Patrick seems to have difficulty getting his brokers to submit contracts on time, and both last month and this month, we did not get the process rolling until Thursday because it took until then for Patrick to give the go-ahead that his contracts were all set.
As it happens, Patrick had only TPR contracts (promos that have no ad copy, typically smaller amounts of savings), no ads, and it's the ads that get loaded this week -- TPRs next week. This was a distinction Steven did not realize, and I did not think to clarify (and honestly perhaps I should have). Knowing that, we could have started harping on IT on Wednesday instead of yesterday.
Alternatively, Steven was very much distracted by very long days with an intensive project regarding the authorization of a huge number of products in HBC -- he told me he worked with (HBC Merchandiser) Terry for an 11-hour shift on Wednesday, and I saw him kind of locked in a meeting room with her all afternoon yesterday. Having not heard anything by 3:00, I started to get very nervous about all of this. Steven seems very competent and so I really deliberated with myself about sticking my nose into this, not knowing if he had this process more under control than I realized, and perhaps he was just too busy with Terry to keep me appraised. But then after 3:10, it was just getting too close to the wire, with me set to meet with Mimi at 4:00 (I'll get to that in a minute) and then leave at 4:30, so I went to talk to Chris J about where, so far as I could tell, everything stood -- which was not good.
I didn't even know yet at that point that both Chris S and Chris P in IT were out sick; I just knew I could see their desks from mine and they were nowhere to be seen all day. Chris J was the one to tell me both the others were sick (too many fucking Chrises, I know -- Chris J is in Merchandising, and he's the Merchandising Pricing Manager, doing basically what Jennifer did back in the day, when she wasn't compelled to be Director of Merchandising for a while), and they are the only two who know how to get the contracts loaded from the Portal.
Suffice it to say that, although Chris J tried to get the attention of the few people left in IT at the time I left yesterday to try getting contracts loaded, I came in this morning and they were still not loaded. Fuck. Now, just about any other month, this would not be as big a deal: even though the keying deadline for February ad retails is technically Friday next week, occasionally the way that deadline lines up with the optimization schedule means I cannot even run the optimization process and the retails don't get loaded until the following Monday, and I tend to finish cleaning up all the inevitable irregularities until Tuesday. The problem this time? Shobhit and I are visiting Mom and Bill in Idaho next weekend, and I am not coming to work on Monday the 17th. This would put undue hardship on Noah, who needs my work to be done before he can get order guides out to stores to fill out and send back to him for their deadlines for making orders to the distributor for products on the February ad.
Well, shit sticks! As of this morning, I was thinking that, once they figure out how to get the contracts from the Portal loaded -- the sticking point in all of this right now, and they are literally waiting for Chris P to come in today (we hear he's feeling better -- hopefully) to figure that out, because no one else in IT knows how to do it. And that is frankly fucking stupid, but who among us in Merchandising has any real pull to tell IT to get its shit together?
I suppose it would be fair to note that there tends to be low probability that both Chris P and Chris S are sick at the same time -- well, except that they literally sit across from each other. For all I know, one of them infected the other. From that perspective I suppose it's definitely for the best that they both stayed home. We still need more than just one or two of them to be familiar with critical processes, however.
. . . Good news! Things are looking up, better than previously expected: Chris P did come in today; he fixed the Portal so contracts would load; and Justin in IT has managed to promise we'll have the scenarios (that's what they're called in the PriceStrat application) available to optimize February ads this afternoon after all! I guess I have less reason to be bitchy about all this than I thought.
They still need more than only one or two people in their department with an understanding of how specific critical processes run, however. I won't waver on that point! (As if I have any political sway here whatsoever.)
Also: some asshole turned the oven off while my lunch was baking. Thanks for fucking up my lunch, I really appreciate it!
Beyond all that, I got to see Mimi briefly yesterday afternoon -- because she brought in a whole bunch of Christmas decorations she apparently hasn't actually used in years, and wants to get rid of as she and her husband starts planning to downsize. She emailed me first and promised me first crack at it -- and my interest piqued instantly when she told me she did indeed have working Christmas lights. She had 5 boxes of them -- all fairly small, mind you; they each had about 35 lights, which makes them about a third the length of my other strings of them. So, taken together, it's more like I got the equivalent of 2 new strings of lights. But! Nancy T from HR overheard at lunch on Wednesday that I was in the market for any free Christmas lights (I was going to look around for any on sale after Christmas; now there won't be any need), and she brought in a couple spare, longer strands of white lights of her own -- exactly what I've been looking for! She brought hers in a paper sack and left it on my desk yesterday, and told me there was more where that came from if I wanted any more. We'll see what I can figure out to do with these ones first; I'm thinking about lining the bay windows of the bedroom with them, since I never had enough lights to go beyond the bay windows of the living room in the past.
Anyway, the paper sack Nancy had brought came in very handy, as I was also able to add the five boxes of lights from Mimi. Mimi had a ton of other decorations and ornaments as well, and I took just a few, including a cute tiny koala bear whose arms can clamp around a Christmas Tree branch. Mimi took that picture so she could send it to her daughter, Paige, now 50. Apparently Mimi did much more Christmas decorating when Paige was young.
I turned to Claudia and said, "It's giving my finger chlamydia."
It was great to see Mimi, albeit brief and slightly chaotic. I felt a little selfish taking all the boxes of lights, but hey -- Mimi did give me first crack at them, so she clearly wanted me to take what I wanted! I still have to take the bag of stuff home, which also includes a sample PCC-branded baguette; I didn't take it home yesterday because I would have had to stash it somewhere at my seat when I went to see the movie. In retrospect, that would have been easy: I was the only one sitting in my row, actually; I could have just set the bag in the seat next to me. Oh well, missed opportunity there. How was I supposed to know? Shobhit will be happy to get some free fresh(ish) bread tonight, anyway. I have four bottles of chai waiting in the Merchandising refrigerator to take home as well -- I didn't want those getting warm through the movie yesterday.
So what movie did I see, then? Roma, which I can't get out of my mind. It was a unique experience, watching that movie -- I spent much of it thinking to myself, Holy shit, this movie is overrated. What's with the near-universal critical adoration? The regular throwing-around of the word "masterpiece"? I still hesitate to use that word now, but the flip side is that I seemed to have a kind of delayed reaction as to registering what a cinematic achievement it really is. I still maintain the acting, given nearly all the cast are newcomer amateurs, isn't the greatest -- but pretty much everything else is superb, and the movie's greatness kind of slowly caught up with me up to the point that I started writing the review, in which I gave the movie an A-. I still stand by that, and it will be on my year-end top 10. It still hasn't kicked Eighth Grade out of my #1 spot, though, and I am increasingly convinced nothing else this year will -- I half-expected either The Favourite or Roma might, but neither of those films moved me the way Eighth Grade did. I still liked that movie the best; it remains at the top of my list for the year.
Roma is exactly the "artsy" kind of film that mainstream moviegoers would never give even a chance, though: they'd take one look at the trailer and declare it would bore them to death, and in many cases they'd be right. I can see it being studied in college film courses for decades to come, much like Citizen Kane has been -- another movie people dismiss as too old and dull, although a recent look at it proved it's really not boring at all. Roma moves at a much slower pace, actually. But it has similarly impressive cinematic feats, which is becoming a hallmark of Alfonso Cuarón movies.
It played at 5:15, so I walked directly there from work, arriving just after 4:45. I had plenty of time to sit and read for a bit. I bought a small bag of popcorn, their heralded mix of butter popcorn and chocolate popcorn, which not long ago was stunningly cheap at $3, and then they jacked it up to $6:50. At first I dismissed the idea of getting some outright, saying to myself that is way too expensive. But: I was hungry. Also: it's so rare that I see movies at this theatre anymore. When will I get another chance to get this popcorn? So, I ultimately convinced myself to get a bag, even though it cost way too much. Movie theatres operate on their income from concessions, though, so I guess I could rationalize that I was supporting the Cinerama, which I truly want to stay open until the end of time, however seldom I go there anymore. I did figure that if I was going to buy it, the least I could do was save half of it to bring home to Shobhit -- which he really seemed to appreciate, and I presume that helped prevent him from berating me for "wasting" money on it. (It was a real challenge to refrain from finishing that bag of popcorn during the movie, I must say. And I exercised herculean restraint, just for my husband! I am so giving and wonderful!)
Shobhit had small pizzas in the oven baking for dinner when I got home. He added a bunch of fresh chopped vegetables to one plain cheese one and one paneer cheese one. We cut them in half and each had one half of both. They were delicious.
Shobhit must be getting old, though: he got tired and went to bed shortly after 9:00, and almost immediately zonked out. He was snoring in no time. Once I finished my review, I got ready for bed myself, and was asleep by about 10:30.
[posted 12:17 pm]