Saturday, February 13, 2016

Regression to mean

Flaxton Faun
It seems that the Goat is doomed to mediocrity. His body absolutely refuses to lose enough weight to get his Body Mass Index below 30. The Goat believes that using BMI as the sole arbiter of overall fitness is flawed. However, it would still be nice not to be labelled as ‘obese’ by the ill-educated Ticky-Box Police. Despite a carefully calorie-controlled diet since the summer of 2013 and steady loss of now over 20% of his body mass because he really was a great lardarse, the Goat has plateaued. Every time he approaches BMI = 30 it’s as if his body recoils in horror and weight gains ensue This despite his consuming ever-decreasing numbers of calories, and despite exercise.

Beloved Wife says that the problem lies with cortisol, which is a hormone released in response to stress and – long story short – pushes up the weight.

The Goat maintains a balanced diet, consumes sensible quantities of healthy vegetables, and generally avoids burgers, crisps, and similar junk. But everything pushes up the Goat’s weight, including air.

Stress -> cortisol -> weight gain
Diet -> hunger -> unhappiness -> stress -> cortisol -> weight gain
Depression -> stress -> cortisol -> weight gain
Starvation -> famine mode -> weight gain

It says here in the University of Interweb’s Faculty of Wikipedia that music therapy can reduce cortisol levels.

As is now well documented, the Goat plays flute-like wind instruments. A six-hole ocarina, recorders, and the recorders’ electric ally the EWI. He was also given a blues harmonica for Christmas, and has been struggling with this one too. Yesterday, the Goat spent all day in front of his home computer with the EWI, some music notes, a load of electric string, and a video capture device. He tried and tried. And tried and tried and tried. And tried. After nearly 100 takes, he had a couple of tunes recorded and posted on Facebook. They are still littered with misfingered notes, completely wrong notes, and horrible ‘how do I finger that again?’ pauses. As the Goat has been at this music playing thing on and off for about 40 years, and has been playing almost daily for the past three or four, it seems disappointing that he seems to have plateaued at this still mediocre level.

Oh, he has improved. He’s no longer scared of the ‘black notes’ and will have a pop at anything in most key signatures. However, some keys are appallingly difficult on a recorder, or anything with similar fingering, and he prefers C,D, F, G and their relative minors. (Technical note for any actual musicians who may have blundered into this blog.) Not that the Goat can sight-read music at anything like the speed required.

But, when it comes down to it, the Goat’s ability falls far short of a live public performance. He occasionally goes along to Open Mic nights with intent to play. These might be essentially Karaoke without a backing track and in front of a benign audience, but the moment the other performers start it becomes extremely obvious that the Goat is catastrophically outclassed and he’s too embarrassed or intimidated to get the instrument out of its bag.

Back to cortisol. The Goat’s music therapy, far from reducing stress, actually boosts it with the frustrations of his inability. And having blown his entire one-day weekend on this exercise in futility, he’s back to work specifically and solely to subject himself to six more days of stress.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Dreary Diary - TL; DR

A true account of the last few months of the Goat's diary. Only the names have been changed to protect the Goat from the guilty.

Sun 09 August
Today’s presentation went well and was “very good.’ We are “the best performing consultant.”

Unfortunately the target audience, including Mr K, was the usual plethora of OCD, ADHD, and ESN and it was really difficult to get them to concentrate or understand. Happy, joy, etc.

Plus a bollocking from my senior management for failing to achieve the impossible vis-à-vis the newly redefined Key Performance Indicators. It’s like running 100m in 11 seconds, then being forced to wear leg irons, achieving 20 seconds, and then being whined at for failing to get 11 seconds or better.

Mon 10 August
Just back from another meeting at the Faculty of Orchilalia.

Dear Mr D,

As you disagree with our contention that the meeting went well, and you do not believe Mr K’s assessment that we’re very good, may I suggest that you cancel your contract with us and do everything yourself?

That way, my employment will terminate, I can escape from this hellhole, and you can go fcek yourself.

Yours insolently…

Tue 18 August
Mr K wants a presentation on Thursday (because he’s apparently forgotten what I showed him in May) and keeps inviting more and more people. I am convinced that someone has noticed a discrepancy between what we sketched in May and what I’ve developed by August, and Mr K’s out to make me look stupid.

Thu 20 August
Unusually for me I didn’t sleep. My brain refused to shut down over today’s Presentation from Hell. Mr K has sent notes of his review of our report and has provided loads of uncalled-for comments.

Presentation did not go well, with Mr K arguing about every point. Every point, including where they are obviously wrong (citing non-existent design standards, demanding detailed designs for blatantly unbuildable options, etc).

Pissed off? Doesn’t even come close. “I am at the limits of my medication.”

Now in another bluddy meeting. What a waste of a day.

Sun 23 August
The bullshine has started already. Mr K, seeking confirmation that ducts will fit alongside street lighting in a 3m median (which they will – duh!), is now demanding (completely irrelevant) foundation details to query ad nauseam.

Tue 25 August
I have just seen an updated schedule that shows completion of design at 29 December. DECEMBER.

And the joyous news that all the document submittals are coming back for yet another go-around, so December looks very optimistic.

Wed 26 August
Today’s Audit From Hell may be summarised by “You need a register to keep track of the register that records a checklist that checks that the logged checks have been checked as carried out.”

Never mind the fceking engineering. As long as the TickyBox Police are kept satisfied…

Sun 30 August
Mr D (9am): Meeting tomorrow. Bring expert.
Muggins (9am): Expert is in in the Levantosphere. Weekend. Can’t get hold of him until tomorrow.
Mr D (3.30pm): Meeting tomorrow at 11am.
For fcek’s sake, you fceking fcek.

Mon 31 August
Aargh! Not waving but drowning.

So help me, I’m about to break. Too many things arriving in my inbox with “must be done by COB today” and I’m barely keeping up with simply distributing the work. To say nothing of report writing, coordinating, and dealing with a fcekload of QA crap which amounts to spending days creating new records, registers, etc., and populating them.

More bluddy meetings. Each one comprises a 45 minute drive, meeting, overrun, delivery boy duties, notes, 45 minutes back, draft minutes, revise minutes, catch up with emails that arrived in my absence…

Wed 02 September
Becoming sick with worry. Too many balls in the air, and more being added hourly. Everything is demanded immediately, and failure to deliver any of them results in more paperwork to explain why.

Things falling between the cracks having been buried by dozens of newer emails. Result: irate phone calls From Messrs D and K demanding immediate action. All need to be divvied out to staff all of whom are either already overwhelmed or not at their desks, or often both.

Thu 03 September
Slightly better day today. I’ve been able to shift a lot of things, and my approach at the moment to unreasonable “I want…” deadlines is “Then you can want!”

Sat 05 September
Oh, Goat…! Here we go again with another six days.

Sat 13 September
Five more sleeps; two presentations; and a fcekload of rewriting to do. I can’t start any of the rewrites until after meetings that haven’t been scheduled, and instructions following meetings. And because Mr K is already winding down for Eid… I’m getting kicked for delaying the fceking project.

Mon 14 September

…pation. Another skill sadly lacking everywhere I look.

Nobody can understand how I can forecast the logical consequences of instructions from Upon High. Result is no preparation for the fallout that Cassandra predicted.

Dear Mr D,
Please find enclosed a plot. Provided with my compliments to replace the one that you seem to have mislaid…”

Tue 15 September
Grud on toast! This week’s dragging. Still not yet half past Tuesday.

I do not know why “Do not draw X” results in draftsman spending hours (as in every time I turn my back after repeating myself) drawing “X”.

Neither do I understand why “Copy this CAD drawing” takes all day. It took me an hour to draw from nothing, and only needs a drawing frame to be added.

Wed 16 September
“Please reprint all eight copies of the document because there’s a one-character misprint on one footer.” And we wonder why deforestation might be a problem.

Why is your design stronger and more expensive than the other contracts?
Because their calcs are wrong.
But their calcs are approved.
If we do what they did, it’ll fail.
Change the design!

Mr K puts us through the wringer, but lets others get away with shite. FFS.

Thu 17 September
Just found out Eid has shifted. I have a flight booked for Sat pm and Sun is now a holiday. I get to spend a day in Doha when EVERYTHING will be shut. Cheap Flights will charge the GDP of Latvia to change the ticket.

My cup runneth over.

Tue 29 September
Oh, deep joy. Mood yesterday was good. It has instantly plummeted today after a meeting with Mr D. He wanted me to redraft a document for this morning, and he just told me how I should totally rewrite it again.

Wed 30 September

The reviewer is on leave. His subordinate can’t make a decision. The designer is somewhere in the Levantosphere. We offered a video conference. Mr D is demanding that the designer appear in person. Tomorrow. Immigration is shut until next week. The designer can’t get a visa. This is all my fault.

Aaaaand…I have rewritten that godforsaken report twice more today. I’m forbidden from using ANY of the reasons why we want what we need in my justification. It will be rejected and we’ll be left with having to tear down half a bridge and redesign it from scratch. All because it complies with the 2015 standards but not the 1997.

Utterly and completely demoralised.

Monday 05 October
Oh deep joy. Report rejected because we didn’t address Comment 15. But there are only 14 fceking comments. This will go on until they nail me into a box.

I try and try, and it’s bluddy Mission Fceking Impossible. “Can’t be done, Mr Goat.”

Sun 11 October
I bust my arse to get Mr D what he wants by Saturday, an artificial deadline imposed on Thursday afternoon. Sunday morning, and there’s an email telling me to change it.


They changed their tiny minds, but this still doesn’t prevent me from getting the blame for failing to be psychic.

Trouble is I get blamed for late delivery of everything because of abortive work taking up engineering and drafting time. This in turn is because we don’t have an unlimited supply of technical staff, which is my fault for under-resourcing, which I can do nothing about because of offshore management.

Mon 12 October
TWO independent sets of comments (three if you include Mr D’s whinging about them) that prove Mr K can’t read simple drawings. Result is yet another fceking rewrite. I can’t dumb it down any more without writing it in Comic Sans 16 point.

Wed 14 October
Maybe I should get on with wasting my time writing technical reports for rejection, instead of whingeing about it.

Dismayed, distraught, demoralised, disincentivised, discouraged. I just want to crawl under a rock.

Not off this weekend, worst luck. Got a fcekload of reports to rewrite urgently.

I think part of the problem is the minimum 48h/wk. I generally average 52 including weekends. Compare with the stereotypically hardworking Germans. 35. And our London office? 37.

Thu 15 October
I’m still alive, so I guess I can drag my lazy arse into the office.

Sat 17 October
Good news: Anti-anger medication is available in Qatar without prescription. Coincidence?

Mon 19 October
Mr D wants my boss to come from the Levantosphere and “as Project Director” sort out various issues. Mr D hasn’t even approached me as PD. I am superfluous.

For obvious reasons, everyone is keeping me away from client meetings. Suits me fine, but as it’s a major part of why I’m here…

Much as anticipated, “Propose a bridge and get stakeholder feedback” has mutated into “For free, develop every conceivable option including ludicrous ones. Not done this? That’s ‘cos you’re crap.”

Wed 21 October
“Blah, blah, submittal is crap…

Item 3: Show this one thing only.
Item 5: Show all the other stuff too.
Item 6: Show all the stuff we previously told you to remove.”


Sun 25 October
You know the ongoing reports ball-ache? My email inbox includes demands for revised (again) text and additional drawings for Reports 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 by tomorrow. They take nearly a week each when drawings are included.

Wed 28 October
In THE SAME COMMENTS SHEET, Mr K disputes the traffic figures from the approved report, demands printouts of the analysis that he already has in the approved report, demands two traffic lanes because he thinks one lane isn’t enough, and demands one lane because traffic flows are light.

Rebuttal of this garbage will take me a week.

Thu 29 October
Mr D: “Blah blah…no reports have yet been approved after one year, which is holding up construction and it’s all your fault. You are to blame.”

Fceking aresholes. Do they think I’m not trying my best?

Mr D sees the garbage we get back from Mr K and regards it as my fault for not delivering what Mr K wants to see today,even though it’s exactly what Mr K demanded yesterday..

I sent an internal email including “Does Mr D think we’re not doing our best?” and got a response from my boss: “He doesn’t think.”

Sun 01 November
I wonder which part of “Update the road cross section drawing” means “Use the old cross section in order to give some anally-retentive reviewers something easy to reject.”?

Thu 05 November
Today had to resubmit eight copies of a 20 page document because one instance of ‘2015’ had been mistyped ‘215’. Like it could’ve been something else in the date field: ’20 October 215’.

This is the level of Mr K’s anal retentiveness.

It has taken me over 11 hours, but I have made it to the end of the day.

Thu 26 November
Mr K doesn’t want me at today’s presentation. Looks like Mr K has been looking for an excuse, and seized upon last week’s perceived slight. Apparently he was grossly insulted by me; something everyone else in the presentation, me included, completely missed. I have no useful function. I might as well not be here.

My only remaining functions are to produce paperwork for Mr K to reject, and to earn money to give away to financial institutions.

Apparently Mr K’s Roads (not Motorways) department liked the proposals. With any luck they’ll do some serious arse kicking of reviewers for failing to approve this stuff months ago. But I’m not holding my breath.

Owing to a colossal design cockup that I’ve known about for months but been powerless to correct, everyone is gunning for a scapegoat.

Perhaps I should fall on my sword and save the company’s face…

Joyous news. I think I’ve been fired.
Everyone is talking to everyone else (but not me) about my fcekwit intolerance.
I can’t stand it anyway. I leave and everyone is inconvenienced.

Happy Thanksgiving to me. “Are you OK?” No, I am not fceking OK.

Maybe I can spin it out until after Christmas and get paid for not being at work.
Oh, but annual leave is all taken unpaid, then refunded in September.

Tue 08 December
My boss refused to accept my offer to resign. So I can’t even escape.

As a mood descriptor, “fed up” doesn’t even come close.

Mon 14 DecemberI just calculated our best guess for final approval of all design elements. Assuming that out employer doesn’t throw a massive spanner in the works (which is my no means unlikely), my job here will evaporate at the end of April. APRIL! Aaarrrrgggghhh!

Tue 15 December
Yet more comments on the documents. I have to make tiny semantic changes and resubmit the usual eight copies for further review. I’ll just leap through this flaming hoop again, I guess.

Sun 27 December
Back from ten days away from the Whole Hole from Hell. All my reports are back yet again. Mr K want’s them rewritten “like this” this time. Only the engineering never alters. Everything else is a constant carousel of changes.

Congratulations us. Today we hit 100 submittals. How many have been approved? Nil, nada, zilch, zero, sifr…

Sat 02 January

At 1330 I went back to Cloud City to try to avoid any further buffoonery.

Sun 03 January
I think the phrase rhymes with ‘Clucking bell.’

Tue 19 January
“We the unwilling
Working for the unknowing
Doing the impossible
For the ungrateful.”


Sat 23 January
I think I’ve cracked a rib, but nothing can be done beyond painkillers. Funny how ‘en panne,’ which is French for ‘broken,’ sounds like ‘in pain.’

And so it continues, with no light at the end of the tunnel. Mr K has recently returned all the submittals as "not accepted", so they all need rewrites and resubmittals. Actually one of them is accepted in principle, but still needs a rewrite and resubmittal, so Mr K is simply jerking me around because he can.

Actions speak louder than words, and the actions indicate that, despite all the rhetoric, Mr K doesn't ever want to see any of this stuff built.


Monday, February 08, 2016


Assuming for a moment that anyone still reads this blog, or is even remotely interested, this hiatus will end when the Goat is in a better frame of mind.

As the situation currently stands, the Goat will end up either in a cage or in a box.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.