Thursday, December 11, 2008

Busy week, Christmas prep

Oh, the end of year is coming and we are busy here at work. We have been using part of a new accounting package for several months now, and the accounting department is not at all pleased with it. Everything takes just too much time to do, and the way it was designed does not match the way we do business. The software being replaced was written in house and designed to exactly meet our business format, and we were hoping to rewrite it all, but somebody in the corporate offices in the big tower next door decided to buy something that would be used on all properties worldwide. For some reason our organization was tasked with trying it first, even though we didn’t want it. And now it ends up that the big corporation decided they don’t want it anywhere else, but because it cost so much we have to keep using it. Thanks go out to the analyst that picked it out, who transferred to a different group the week before it went live.

Anyway, the company we bought this thing from says it does not work right because we are not using all five of the pieces we paid for. So corporate again decided our accounting department should use it all. This decision was made a few weeks ago and also that it should all be in place by January 1. Well, if any of you have done accounting work for companies that bills over a hundred million dollars a year and deal with thousands of customers you know that it is a big task to change accounting packages. Months of planning, laying out how the magic account numbers are used and what accounts inventory will go into, not to mention the keyboard time required to enter everything into the new system. No, corporate did not authorize additional funds to have existing data converted, after all, that’s what all these employees sitting around doing nothing are for, to enter all of this data manually. So I have been busy installing and testing modules. Yesterday was spent finding MICR fonts and formatting the new accounts payable checks to meet our bank’s requirements.

At home I’ve been working on E’s Christmas presents: making use of that new jigsaw again to create some marvels out of wood. Last time it was a puzzle and an arc full of animals, this time it’s some boats (finished last month) and a fire station with car and fire truck and firemen. With the group out over Thanksgiving we lost the two weekends I could have been cutting wood (but I wouldn’t trade E being here for working with wood) so it’s been a frantic rush to get the wood cut, assembled and painted and shipped so it will get up to Portland before Christmas. I finished up assembly Sunday and B has been painting away since, hopefully it will all be done this coming Sunday for Monday mailing. Painting takes a while because of all the details: put on one color, wait for it to dry, do a different one, and so on. She is taking some time with the people, making them really pretty as well. Only problem is the size again; the fire station building is two feet high, plus a garage and all the extras. B plans on hitting one of the shipping stores and letting them do the packing as well as shipment, so it will all get there safely.

Saturday is set aside for me to bake cookies. I usually do a pile and we give them out to the neighbors – that is, the ones I don’t eat while baking. Besides watching all the home improvement shows on TV I also watch the Food Network, and subscribed to their Twelve days of cookies, one recipe a day. There are several of them I plan on trying this year besides the old standards. B does pecan sandies, I always like tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies plus whatever else feels good. If you want to trade cookies drop me an email with your address and I’ll figure out how to pack them. My mother used to do these little cups of ground walnuts she called Tassie cookies that I loved, have to see if I can find the recipe she used. They are a lot of work but really nice. With all the ones I want to try it probably means about a dozen different recipes. Ah well, it’s only once a year and the house will smell good all day.

Sitting here listening to that New Zealand radio station Zed FM and they just played this one, I like the simple style: Because I Do, by Pearl and the Puppets:

Here are a few random pictures taken while on our lunchtime walks around the building. It’s getting a little too cool to walk outside (OK, it’s Vegas, cool to us is the 61f it was today) so we have moved inside. It takes a little over a half hour to walk quickly on our inside route. Sometimes a little longer, if we stop to watch the singers or interesting people. Here is my favorite gondolier just making the turn at the end and reaching the climax of her song:

Down the side alley from the water are some shops we wander past. At least weekly we come across people dressed strangely. Well, since we see them so often I guess we can’t call it strange, just a little different than the rest of the passer bys

And then back to our part of the building, and out front for J to have his cigarette. Last election we passed one of those no smoking inside laws. I think it’s all of those greenie Californians that moved here and now want to remake Las Vegas into the California mold. There are a lot of places in town that are bars with full kitchens and a few slot machines or video poker machines built into the bar. The law outlawed smoking where food is served, so these places had the choice of giving up food or banning smokers or building a wall to separate the food from the smoking bar area, and not serving food to people in the bar. Different places took different approaches, but generally all businesses had a decline in income because of the law. Now with the economic downturn even more places are in trouble. I understand not wanting smokers nearby when you eat, but don’t force it on places, just go where smoking is not allowed. I really dislike people that have to force their opinion on how things should be onto others, whether it be smoking or religion or color or taste or sexual orientation; can’t we just all get along?

Anyway, back at our place we stop out front so J can get a smoke in. When there are shows the driveway is usually filled up, with two rows for cabs, a place for limos, and the outside lane for trucks and through traffic, with dozens or hundreds of people moving around, getting out, in, or just standing around talking and smoking. This basically is the only smoking area for our facility, so if we have a big show with forty or fifty thousand people inside we will end up with quite a group of smokers out here as well as the arriving and departing traffic.

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