Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Life at Trampley Nixon

Great day at the company last week. We wrote down 10 billion dollars in mortgage loans, but because the Street expected us to write off 10.25 billion, our stock went up a dime. Yay defying expectations! Proof yet again that the Stock Market is exactly like the New Hampshire Primary -- it's not about winning or losing, it's about whether you meet, better, or disappoint targeted expectations. You can get 40% of the vote, but if you were expected to get 50%, you lose; you can come in third with 11%, but if you were expected to get 2%, you win big! It's like a gambling casino with pundits!

This week's dictionary entries:

Action items. All the shit nobody wants to do. In school, these used to be called “assignments” or “homework,” but because they require the same amount of work-at-home hours to complete, it took Corporate America about fifteen minutes to come up with a sexy synonym that implies adventure instead of mind-numbing, time-consuming overtime. This is particularly ironic because the main features that make up an action movie (adventure, violence, profanity and sex) are the same for an action item (the adventure is not getting fired, the violence is visions of killing your manager, the profanity is muttered under your breath and the sex is you being fucked over).

Action Figureheads. Managers who promise change, results, and transformationals, and then assign the real work to you.

Best practices. Actually obeying the letter of the law as opposed to squeezing through the usual loopholes. All corporations promote best practices as a standard; the fact that they have to promote them at all gives you some idea of how standard they really are.

Deep dive. A presentation which supplies verifiable facts as opposed to the usual bullet points and jargon. Deep dives usually take place (a) when people start asking intelligent questions that poke holes in the normal day-to-day BS that passes for information; (b) there is a special interpretation of the facts that needs to be understood so that the facts can be ignored; or (c) when an army of facts needs to be deployed to support a particular world view. In UFO terms, this means that deep dives (a) use facts to make believers think twice; (b) use facts to make believers look misinformed; or (c) use facts to make believers look stupid. The implication being that all the information we gave you originally was shallow, if not totally wrong, and this is what you really need to know –- until we do a deep dive on the deep dive. (See PRESSURE DIVE.)

Deliverables. All the shit nobody wants to do wrapped up in garbage bags.

Dentist Appointment. Job interview.

Depression. The “Fire!” that always clears Wall Street’s crowded theatre. A word that is never, ever (ever ) spoken aloud when discussing the stock market, which is proof positive of the stupidity and herd mentality of investment bankers and stockbrokers, as well as the house-of-cards stability of the current market economy, which can be blown over by a single whispered run-on-the-bank-causing stock-price-plummeting three-syllable word.

Doctor’s appointment. Second interview.

Initiative. The corpse of change; change after it’s been covered in makeup and filled with embalming fluid. The equivalent of looking at the body of your grandmother in an open casket and thinking “I could swear I just saw her breathe.”

Once. Legal definition: always. If a woman has had sex once, then in the eyes of the law she’s a slut; if a man smoked pot once, then legally he’s a dope addict; and anyone who’s ever been caught telling just one fib is legally a compulsive liar who can not be believed in a court of law no matter how much he swears he’s telling the truth.

Robust. Something that actually works, as in, “We need a robust server structure.” Most often used to describe either a goal or a potential outcome, thus implying that the current state of affairs is static, moribund, and possibly dead.

Sick Day. Third interview.

Urgency. Panic. When someone in management uses the phrase “sense of urgency,” head for the hills and don’t look back. Learn from history -- Custer at the Little Big Horn had a sense of urgency. Travis at the Alamo had a sense of urgency. The French at Den Bien Phu had a sense of urgency. They all soldiered on regardless. Do the same at your own peril.

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