Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I got those remodelin' and hairball blues

While MHRC still grinds along at glacial speed and we still don't have shop drawings for all the pieces of radiology equipment that we need, life at home at the Happy Kitten Highrise (HKH) is looking up. First off, it turns out that Hazel is only allergic to Laxatone, not terribly ill or fixin'-to-die on us. The vet recommended that we feed her wet food on a regular basis (right now we're trying half a can a week) and do regular brushing with a fine metal-bristled cat brush. We got the brush and food this weekend, and so far it's been three days since any sign of hairballs. Hazel hates brushing. Actually, she hates contact. She only occasionally will come up to you for a petting, and you can only get in a few strokes down her back or scrubs on the head before she takes off. The best way to pet her is to sit on the toilet, pants about the ankles. She knows you can't get up and get her, so she'll come up with a small "mew" and ask for a petting. So, brushing Little Miss Touch-Me-Not involves chasing her under the dining room table, throwing aside the chairs to wrap her under your arm, or perhaps closing the hall doors and chasing her into a trap there. She'll squint and fold those little tabby ears back like she hates it, but she purrs while she's getting brushed. I think at least some part of her is glad not to be barfing like a supermodel every day.

Meanwhile, Guy and I have decided that our deadline for the everlasting remodeling/updating/improvement project in the HKH is March 17th, a Monday. There's some painting and touch up to do on the living room wall, some wood trim to be tacked up on the shelf/wall in the living room, and some sanding to do on one door in the hall casework. There's also a little paint touchup and trim to do in the bathroom. All the new furniture has been received and assembled in the house, and some cleaning and filtering of stuff has also been accomplished. Guy has made at least two trips to Goodwill/Salvation Army, and we've thrown a fair amount of paper and plastic into the recycle bin as well as basic stuff in the trash. We've unloaded a few things on eBay and purchased a few things there as well--I believe we actually made money on eBay. Surprise.

I'm wondering if I should post all the remodeling/improvements at once or maybe one room per post? I don't seem to have before and after photos for all the areas, but I'll be posting those that I have. I also have prices for everything, which I will also be sharing with my WAD readers along with lists of the time, effort, and inconvenience involved. Time and cost are two major factors in any home improvement project, or procrastination thereof.

So, as I prepare to launch this upon y'all, any questions or requests? Designing minds want to know.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first the classifieds we read

I saw this on the web while peeking over Guy's shoulder as he surfed the web:

41-year-old Marie Cooley of Jacksonville, Florida, is an architect. And last week, she was looking through the newspaper and, in the classifieds, she saw a job that looked almost EXACTLY like hers . . . complete with her boss's phone number as the contact number.

Marie concluded that she was getting CANNED from Steven E. Hutchins Architects. And she wasn't going down without taking the company down with her. So, late on Sunday night, Marie broke in to her office, went on to the company's server . . . logged in with her own account . . . and deleted SEVEN YEARS worth of architectural drawings. The value of those files is around $2.5 MILLION.

Here's the problem. Marie WASN'T getting fired. The ad was running because her boss's wife ALSO runs a different architecture firm . . . and SHE was looking to get a person on her staff who was like Marie.

So even though Marie wasn't SUPPOSED to get fired . . . after she deleted $2.5 MILLION worth of the company's files, she DID get fired. And even worse . . . she was also ARRESTED for damaging computer equipment and sabotage.

Wow, what a bad idea, Marie. When you think you're being canned, either confront someone or start spiffing up your resume so can you can get a new job. Although, what this article didn't explain is what marie was doing scoping the classifed job ads anyway. Inquiring minds want to know.

It also occurs to me that I've been at DA a little over 7 years. For me to do what Marie did would be to delete every single project I've worked on in my architectural career. Way bad news pour moi.

More sudden thoughts on this: DA backs up its computer files on a weekly and monthly basis. Plus, once a project is over, we archive the project--emails, drawings, documents, paper drawings, shop drawings and submittals/samples of casework and metal window frames, everything--on a server that can only be deleted by the head of IT, and not easily, I might add. What kind of crackerjack software safety propcols does Marie's office have in place? Could they not assume something like this could happen? At the very least, wouldn't you back up all your work somewhere in case some horrid computer virus burned through your server and computers? Marie might've been taking-shots-out-of-a-bell-tower crazy for doing what she did, but it's not like they made it hard for her to do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Caring for the mentally ill: at what cost?

I was going to blog about something really interesting when I got home until I walked in the door to see piles of hairballs and even clear stuff with a pink tint. Hazel's been honking up hairballs most of her life, as she's brush- and petting-avoidant, but it seems to have gotten worse after we started giving her Laxatone, which is supposed to help with said honking. She's going to the vet tomorrow after I get done with the bullshit and ballyhoo of MHRC. At the very least, it gives me an excuse to get out of there by a certain time.

However, let me see if I can make a coherent blog today on something that isn't me bitching directly about my life or work.

WAD reader Xtine (not Charlotte) sent me a link to the News & Observer (a newspaper serving Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, NC) about the state closing two mental health hospitals. I included the link she sent me here, but I can't get it to work anymore. In the Dec 7, 2007 paper, the following article was written:

Some legislators say they want to delay the planned closing of two state hospitals, including Dorothea Dix in Raleigh.
The state Department of Health and Human Services wants to move patients from Dix and John Umstead hospitals into new Central Regional Hospital in Butner in February.

Legislators said the department was moving too fast and questioned whether there would be room for people needing help. Mike Moseley, director of the state mental health division, told legislators that the state planned to keep a 36-bed "overflow" unit at Dix that would be open to patients from the region, in addition to 24 beds for patients from Wake County.

Even if the department finds space for patients in hospitals, overflow units and state alcohol treatment centers, it doesn't mean there are enough people working in those places to properly care for them, said Rep. Jennifer Weiss, a Cary Democrat.
"You can have physical beds," she said. "That doesn't mean you can take care of people."

Good point. Psychiatric patients--both those with mental illnesses and those suffering from alcohol and/or drug problems need completely different treatment from those in a regular med/surg hospital. And even then, psychiatric disorders require different treatment than chemical dependency issues.

In the January 4, 2008 issue of the paper, the director of the NC Dept. of Health and Human Resources called for real reform in their mental health system, which is described as so in an editorial:
When Dempsey Benton, the state secretary of health and human services, called the news conference to announce his plan for "fixing" the state's mental health system, I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
I wasn't the only skeptic.
Before Benton had collected his notes and left the DHHS conference room, family members of the mentally ill began raising concerns:
"The closing of Dorothea Dix [hospital in Raleigh] should be delayed indefinitely, not just for 60 days. ... The legislature needs to be involved. ... The system needs more funding."
I don't blame family members for being wary. I don't blame them for being fed up. They're the ones who have been dealing with the fallout of mental health reform for the past several years.

Xtine asked if my company, Design Associates (known in this blog as DA), did a lot of mental hospitals. The short answer is no. The more precise answer is, not for lack of trying. We did a behavioral center floor for a hospital in Kansas, but we only did the construction documents for it--another firm that specialized in mental health design did the schematic design and design development. I learned a fair amount about designing for the mentally ill then and couldn't wait to apply it.

Later, we got (or so we thought) a commission to do an inpatient and outpatient mental health facility in Idaho. My boss selected me to do the project, and I got so excited that I started a blog. Alas, it's nearly been a year since I started this damn thing and that project fell off the face of the planet. Oh well.

The reason that not just DA, but very few firms at all, do mental hospitals is that it's hard to get funding for them. It's hard to get funding for them because it's hard to get insurance companies to pay for the treatment. It's hard to get insurance companies to pay for the treatment because results are hard to quantify. See, if you have a tumor and I send the insurance company a CT scan or MRI shot of your tumor and recommend X treatment, they'll give me the funds to treat you with a round of X treatment. At the end of the round, I send them another picture and say, "See, the tumor was 5 cm in diameter, but now with one round of X treatment it's at 2.5 cm. With another round of X, it'll go away." So, then (hopefully) they give me some more dough to finish your treatment. Sadly, psychiatric evaluations are harder to do. I mean, you can say things like "She's threatening to kill herself and everyone she works with because they picked the radiology equipment vendor that she doesn't like; we need to give her X amount of lithium to control the delusions," and the insurance company says, "Okay, but just enough for a week, and then she's outta that hopsital," because things like suicidal intent or hearing voices or can't-even-get-out-of-bed-and-can't-keep-a-job depression can't be objectively measured or quantified.

Or can it?

Here, let me plunk my magic twanger, Froggy, and quantify some shizznit for y'all. Peep this article from the May 19th 2007 Hartford Courant (as quoted on Advisory.com):

Service cuts resulting in ‘perilously inadequate’ pediatric mental health system
In Connecticut, a growing number of children with emotional problems are forced to stay overnight in EDs until appropriate treatment space becomes available, with patients spending up to two weeks in emergency beds. New Britain General Hospital’s ED treats about 30 troubled children per month, compared to 10 per month last year, and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center expects to complete 640 pediatric psychiatric evaluations this year—a 32% jump since 1998. Adding to the gridlock are patients already in inpatient psychiatric beds, who are often kept longer than necessary because there are few places in the community to send them once they’ve stabilized. At Yale-New Haven Hospital, for example, the average LOS has increased more than 70% over the past two years, from 14 days in 1998 to 24 days this year. State regulators last week called for a voluntary moratorium on additional service cuts, and a governor-appointed commission is reviewing the crisis, but hospitals and other providers are seeking to further reduce services, citing low government and private reimbursement rates...."The numbers are increasing and we don't know where to put them. That's there the [EDs] get stuck. Things come to a grind when you're dealing with children's psychiatric issues," said Dr. Steven Wolf of New Britain General.

And this from 2002 as quoted from several sources (noted internally) on Advisory.com:

Already close to capacity, EDs lose beds to psych patients
With cuts to state mental health department budgets and Medicaid forcing public and private institutions to slash inpatient psychiatric beds, mental health patients with nowhere else to go are arriving at already overburdened hospital emergency departments, often taking up ED beds for days and costing hospitals thousands of dollars. Recent stories out of South Carolina and Nevada paint a bleak picture, with psychiatric patients stranded in makeshift holding areas, regular ED patients waiting hours for treatment, and state mental health officials saying their resources are stretched to the limit.

According to the Columbia State (Freiden, 1/6/02), Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital (PRMH) had eight psychiatric patients occupying ED beds on Jan. 4, three of whom had been there for four days, and hospital officials expected five to seven more to arrive across the next few days. The patients were awaiting placement in state psychiatric facilities, which have seen bed capacity drop by 30 percent across the past three years. The state cut $26 million from the mental health department’s budget last year alone.PRMH, which loses $2,500 to $4,000 per psychiatric patient in the ED per day, houses the patients in “Pod 7,” a room “heavy on security but light on privacy”; as beds fill in the room, additional psychiatric patients are held in a waiting room staffed by a nurse and security guard.

Other S.C. hospitals are feeling the pinch, as well: At least one of Sumter’s Tuomey Health Care System’s 27 ED beds is occupied by a psychiatric patient at any given time; non-psychiatric ED patients at Greenville Hospital System are waiting four hours for treatment because staff is overburdened caring for mental health patients; and Charleston Memorial Hospital has seen the amount of time required to place a mental health patient in a state facility increase from a few hours to a day. Although officials from the mental health department say they are working to alleviate the burden on hospital EDs—one proposal would create a 40-bed shelter on the state psychiatric hospital’s grounds for substance-abusing psychiatric patients, with operating costs covered jointly by PRMH and public funds—more budget cuts are likely on the horizon.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas—a time when mental health demands increase—Las Vegas EDs found themselves accommodating psychiatric patients for up to four days at a stretch, and hospital officials fear that stress on EDs will only increase because of a badly timed convergence of factors: the recent closure of Valley Hospital’s 11-bed inpatient psychiatric unit, increased incidence of psychiatric problems stemming from the terrorist attacks and the economic downturn, and the approach of flu season.A University Medical Center physician estimates that four psychiatric patients who recently occupied beds for four days delayed treatment for hundreds of ED patients: “That’s 360 hours [the psychiatric patients] were in there. I usually see two patients an hour. That’s 720 patients that didn’t get seen while those people took up a bed,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Babula, 12/20/01).

Although the state runs a 10-bed crisis unit for psychiatric patients requiring emergency attention, the unit alleviates only some of the burden on EDs, since patients must visit an ED for medical clearance before receiving admittance. Understaffed state facilities also contribute to the problem, since patients admitted to state hospitals often receive inadequate care and then return to EDs. The state aims to double the size of the crisis unit by spring and hopes to hire 18 psychiatrists by July to supplement the overburdened medical staff at state facilities.

So, did we learn anything, boys and girls? Like, if we don't fund mental health care, it ends up costing us in other ways, like taking nurses and doctors away from heart attacks and broken bones? Yes, that's it. See, we can quantify mental health treatment, but only in how much it costs us when we ignore it.

We lose good, valuable people to chemical dependency and mental illness all the time, like my dad and Heath Ledger. If we ignore it, it WILL bite us in the ass.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Remove jack ass.

In a recent OAC meeting for the radiology project at MHRC, I was reviewing Phil's [the project manager for the contractor] construction schedule, and I noticed a line that nearly made me spit coffee. Phil was describing a protion of work where we were upgrading the elevator to a faster, better model, and his timeline had parsed out each part, like "Drill new piston hole in hoistway" and "Shore up Pit floor for jack assembly." Halfway through the project, they have to remove the jack assembly, which takes a few guys most of a day to do. And there it was on line 48: "Remove jack ass."

You don't have to be Freud to know what/who he's really talking about.

I got partway through my punchlist of the procedure suite. I had to go to a meeting with Merrill before I was done with it, so I have to go back first thing tomorrow morning and do the rest of the department. Which sucks because I spent most of Wednesday in meetings, including a walking-around meeting during the afternoon, then I spent all of this afternoon standing, walking, doing a punchlist, and meeting, and walking again. So now I've gotta do at least another 2 hours of walking tomorrow morning, then go to the office and work some more. (For those of you who are new to the notion of the punchlist, please read first here and then here.) For the love of Sheena Easton, my legs and feet are killing me. Calgon, take me away.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

VendorWatch '08: The search is over and the race is on

Last week, MHRC finally chose a vendor for their radiology equipment, and of course it was Vendor 2, the obnoxious people who keep putting up resistance about gettin gthings done as fast as MHRC wants them done. We had a meeting on Monday with the consultants and Vendor 2 reps, except the annoying technical rep that I've been dealing with wasn't there-it was the lead sales guy (nice) and a technical rep that was filling in when the snarky guy called in sick at the last minute. This fill-in guy was much more useful and technically helpful than Slick, the guy I've been dealing with at Vendor 2.

At any rate, we spent literally three and a half hours asking questions and getting answers, going back and forth, discussing how different cables or pipes or joists or whatever affected each piece of equipment. Squidwort kept trying to push the discussion along, and I can't say I blame him, but I knew this wasn't going to be a short meeting. Everyone has lots of questions and needs to get answers so they can finish drawings on the changes necessitated by a fianl equipment selection and issue it to the field in time to keep from slowing down construction, which is underway and about to start working double shifts to finish on time.

If that last sentence confused and exhausted you just reading it, imagine what it does to me writing and living through it. Tomorrow is all meetings, all day. MHRC in the morning, then a sitewalk for a possible OR expansion in a suburb of Denver. In addition, tomorrow is 11 years since my dad died, so I'm really not in the mood to suffer fools. Between stupid people bothering me today and the possibility of stupid people bothering me tomorrow, I'm on the edge of physically choking someone. I nearly punched Guy this evening when he commented on how I washed clothes. "You have to put the soap in, then let the water run or it won't all go into the wash." Hmm, how can I suffocate him so that CSI: Denver won't trace it to me?

So, I'm trying to plan for lots of breathing and swallowing words that I know are due to temporary stress (even if they do deserve a verbal beating).

In the meantime, I hope everyone got a chance to see "American Dad" on Fox on Sunday night. The entire episode was a James-Bond parody.

Throughout the episode, Roger the alien (who plays the enemy, Tearjerker) keeps having problems with his evil lair--the floor breaks open when the henchmen fall to the floor, the slide into the pool for drowning people isn't steep enough for the person to actually slide off into the pool, and the ropes that extend from the evil blimp to the evil lair for the henchmen to slide down don't retract. So, through the whole episode, Tearjerker is on the phone with his contractor: "Mike, dammit, come over here and fix this place! And don't send your son--he smells like weed!" Guy and I laughed our asses off at the episode.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

All quiet on the architectural front

Derek and I left for an early lunch yesterdaywith Norman and Elliot. Kellye was out with his little boy, who was sick, so he missed all the "fun". By "fun", I mean leaving for lunch at 11:25am and not returning until 1pm. We went to Snore, our favorite hep-deco breakfast and lunch spot, and had breakfast burritos and coffee and resisted the urge to put Bailey's in our cups.

We returned at 1pm to find an email from Pete saying that today was his last day at Design Associates and that he had enjoyed working with all of us (he blind carbon copied people, including me), and here's his email addressif we want to contact him in the future and that his DA email would cease to exist after today. It also ceased to exist in my email inbox.

At lunch, I explained to Norman and Elliot how Pete had behaved to towards me, the things he said, how he got my cell hone number out of Howie while acting like he was doing something really important for me and just had to get ahold of me. Elliot nearly threw up in his mouth at the "and of course we'd invite our spouses so they wouldn't freak out!" business, and even Norman was surprised. Derek said during the review for Monica, one of Jann's pretty new intern, she was excited about working at DA and loving everything...except sitting next to Pete. "She was kinda embarrassed to even say anything about it," said Derek, "but she was just so not liking being around him."

We also discussed what could we have done to help him, or if that was even our job. Derek said he mulled over how he could have dealt with Pete better. I shared with the table Guy's suggestion that someone needed to get in his face and flatly say "You're annoying, Pete; you talk too much, you talk about things that have nothing to do with the task I'm giving you, and you don't ever look like you're focused. You gotta get your shit together." Derek said that he himself probably should have been the one to say that, as he's male and Pete might take that better from a guy, "but it's just not my style, y'know?"
"I wish he could've had the chance to work with Guy," I said. "Not only would that have been entertaining, he would have very clearly been on notice."
"Well, he was told in his review that he had problems focusing," said Derek.
"Were those exact words used?" Elliot asked.
"True," I replied. "DA has a habit of being nonconfrontational, and I can only hope that someone actually was that clear with Pete. Otherwise, he's gonna feel all betrayed and sucker-punched."

We surmised that while they may have been more that we--Derek and I--could have done, there's only so much you can do with someone who is missing basic social interation skills into his late 30s/early 40s, and who frankly also exhibits some traits of ADHD. (I ran Pete's behavior by Vinnie, psychologist and part time antique furniture dealer and my friend, and he said Pete's behavior seemed consistent with ADHD and a possible infantile character disorder, and character and personality disorders are hard to treat.) How much could we really have done? If we'd gotten in his grill, he would likely have given blowback on that kind of input, especially when I recall other conversations I've had with him. He tended to be the kind of guy who, when given a suggestion or advice on how to handle a problem, he would do the "yeah, but--" thing, or he'd tell me, "But you don't understand where I just worked/what happeend the last time I did this/what I've done before." After two or three "but you don't understands", I'm not interested in understanding a damn thing. I want him to shut up and go away and grow up.

So, I look at this incident as a learning experience for me, having seen someone wacky enough that I know when to step away but also to know that I have to be very clear with people who are lacking these skills, then follow that up with the person's supervisor to let them know what I've said.

Meanwhile, the office is quiet, and productivity is back up again. Thank God.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The inexorable, inevitable, sickening THWACK! of the falling ax

After my last post, Baxtersmum made the observation that I should tell someone about the myriad of unnerving things Pete has done and said to me. For the record, I've never felt like I was being sexually harrassed, just socially annoyed. He annoyed Derek in the same way when working with him on a recent project (constantly trying to distract him and chatter on and on about unrelated things, asking lots of questions to the point of making things way too complicated and overthinking things), and Pete would even try to drag me into the conversations with Derek (from which Derek would try desparately to extricate himself). After the cell phone incident, I realized that i was going to have to be pretty fierce--even perhaps rude--in order to defend my boundaries against Pete.

I asked for and got some time with Jann on Wednesday afternoon. I explained to her my history with Pete: the constant invitations to hang out with his wife and him, the trying hard to get me to go to dinner with him so he could describe all the problems he had at his last two jobs ("and of course we'd invite our spouses so they wouldn't freak out!"), me refusing to give him my cell phone number to arrange said dinner in every way except flat-out saying "you can't have my cell phone number, piss off", the comment about me not being his Advocate because I was "a cute little woman" that he doesn't want to have to explain to his wife, the usual annoyances that he's visited on Derek, and then the cell phone thing. Jann was incredulous and extremely creeped out.

"I feel like he's had enough chances," she said. "I feel like I should just talk to Sutherland." While Sutherland is Pete's Advocate, he's also the main guy in our office in charge of hiring and firing.
"I'm not trying to get him fired, Jann," I reasoned. "I just want you to know that if I have to work with him in the future, I'm gonna have to really have to be "bitchy" to set limits with him, y'know? And I just wanted you to be prepared for him complaining to you about 'Val's not a team player or being nice to me' or anything like that."
Jann nodded. "I'll think about it," she replied.

This morning, she called Derek and me into a conference room. "Pete's last day is tomorrow. I talked to Sutehrland already. I've had enough. He's been hard to work with for you Derek, and he's even exhausted Jerry because he's so distracted and distracting. Jerry even saw him on eBay for hours yesterday." This last bit was a surprise to me. Jerry loves the Grateful Dead and Phish; how annoying do you have to be to wear down a person whose blood type is weed?

"Plus," Jann said, gesturing towards me, "what with the cell phone business and the Advocate thing, I've had enough."

"Look," I said, "I am willing to work with him if you want, i just wanted you to know what he's done int he past in case you got some blowback from my management of him."

Jann shook her head. "Pixie, you shouldn't have to suck it up to deal with someone who's a problem employee for everyone. My other interns whom we took aside at reviews and told them of their deficiencies, they've taken steps to correct them. But Pete acts as clueless as he was before. It's like he thinks of work as his social hour, and he can't stay focused. If he has ADD or something, we can't help him, and none of you should have to put up with it. Plus, you mentioned he hasn't used CAD since version 13--that came out ten years ago! He can't focus, and he's misrepresented his skills to the firm."

Jann, Derek, and I had a brief discussion about what could we have done and some philosophical ideas in general. I brought up this one: are we remiss in not just getting in Pete's--or anyone's--grill and literally saying 'here's how you are annoying', or teaching him in some way some social skills that he's obviously missed? At the same time, shouldn't someone in his late-30s (at the youngest) already know this shit, and if not, shouldn't he see a therapist and work that shit out elsewhere?

Later this afternoon, Howie came to my desk and knelt down. "Pixie, I think I've done a bad thing. I gave Pete your cell number. I thought he was working with you the way you and I work together."

"I'm not mad, Howie, I was wondering where he got it," I replied. "Under most conditions, I would have no problem with you doing that. It's just that with him, nothing he was doing for me was so urgent that he needed to call my cell phone." I then explained a few of his past actions towards me, and Howie got extremely creeped out, so much that he shuddered and wiped his arms liek he was trying to wash the ooky off of him.

Jann emailed Derek and me. "Plan to be gone on Friday for an early lunch around 11:30." So, she ax, she falls.

I feel not as bad as I did earlier. I feel like I was the nail in Pete's coffin, but as Guy observed, I'm one of several nails over the past several months. The whole thing's got me a little queasy, especially in the evenings here lately. But I guess it needs to be done. As Jann noted, "He's done this to himself."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

...in a world where not even cell phone numbers are sacred

Imagine my surprise Friday morning to check my cell phone voicemail messages to discover that Pete has discovered my cell phone number and called me to ask about what to do on a project Jann's making me work with him on. I checked with the front desk staff--none of them had my cell phone number, so they didn't do it. Regardless, I needed to find a way to make sure Pete didn't get in the habit of calling me on my cell phone. It's a private number on a personal cell phone, not one provided by Design Associates. And frankly, I rarely answer the damn thing anyway. I usually check it once or twice a day just to see if anyone called, but ultimately it's only for friends and family.

So, when Pete came up today to show me his progress on the work I gave him, I asked if his number was a certain number that had called my cell phone twice today already. "Ummm...no," he replied, a little unsure.

"Okay, good," I said. "I should let you know that if you ever do need me, call me on my office line or email me--my cell phone is personal, and only my family calls me on it. If you call, I won't pick up."

"Oh! Well," Pete said brightly, "Do you have programmable numbers? Cuz then you can--"

"Calling my office line or emailing me is the best way to get ahold of me," I repeated. "To help you with what you're doing, I need to be able to see you or your computer screen, and I can't do that if I'm on a cell phone."

"Oh! Well, if you ever need me--"

I interrupted him again as he pulled out his cell phone. "Pete, if I'm ever in such dire need that I'd have to call your cell phone, I'm just going to give the work to someone else and have you finish up whatever they don't get to when you get in."

"Oh." Pete almost sounded deflated. "Hm. When I worked at _______, they expected you to be on call 24/7."

I laughed good-naturedly. "Man, you and I aren't paid enough to be on call." He had a good laugh too, and I curtailed his attempt to chat further and sent him on his way to finish the redlines I gave him.

Here's an introduction to Pete if you're late to this story. Pete continually sets off my Weirdo Radar, especially with the following comment about choosing an Advocate, which in our office is someone who is kinda-sorta a mentor or person in your corner. He made this comment after the office party,where I'd met his wife and he'd met Guy:

Pete: So, I asked Sutherland to be my Advocate, and he agreed.
Me: Ah, he's a good choice. You both have a fair amount of experience, and he'd be better to give you advice than I. I'm a better Advocate for folks right out of college.
Pete: Well, that and it's better than having to explain to my wife that my Advocate is this cute little woman I work with.
Me: [stunned and at a loss for words] Oh, hahahaha. Well, you really need an Advocate who has more experience in the workplace in general.
[more banal conversation followed, Pixie makes a hasty retreat and resists the urge to wash her hands twenty times]

Ooky. I told Sarge about the above conversation, and he recommended I tell HR about it. I told Guy about the conversation, and he got a good laugh out of it. "He keeps giving you the smoochy eye, and you keep knockin' him down!" Guy crowed with a cackle. Guy's observation is that he's trying to feel good about himself by office flirting (or whatever kind of flirting I'll let this turkey get away with) with a younger, accomplished woman. However, I keep setting the boundaries and cockblocking him, and he'll slowly, slowly have to get the message: she's just not that into you, punk.