I read your article called "Leveraging Discontent". I agree that a person has the ability to change the environment they work/play/exist in by adopting the proper attitude, to a point. I started off in the DOS products group and have stayed there. The name has been changed and we are doing Windows programming with VB, but we are considered, I believe pigeon-holed, as a DOS group and thereby technologically worthless but corporately necessary.
I worked in VB and developed a web app working with Java Servlets. I'm currently looking at Linux, the compliment of languages and packages found there along with learning C# to add to the .NET knowledge of the group. I'm probably learning more now than I ever have in a broad range of topics. And yet I feel I must leave. I feel resentful, under appreciated and basically that I'm taken advantage of. But why leave now after 8 years and when I'm getting some better experience?
First, I'm feeling more than a bit over-whelmed at my new undertakings. Second, my salary does not reflect the amount of experience I have. When people complain to me, I almost feel like saying "I'd take on your problems for your salary, would you like to trade?". Third, other groups look at us as the dumping ground for unwanted projects, things they'd rather not be bothered with, like updating supporting files for earlier versions of their software. Fourth, there is a lot of negativity being thrown about in this group, and like you say it does wear you down. When you know a certain person coming your way means you have to sit to listen to a 20 minute monologue on what is wrong with our new manager, it does tend to hamper your spirits. There are implicit leaders of this group, but they lead by monopolizing time and ignoring other's opinions.
But all this has been going on for some time, why does it now bother me? I think the reason is my lack of physical exercise. The first 4 years here, I was the most physically fit I have ever been. The last 4 years, I have let that all go. I'm trying to start again in the hopes that it will be able to allow me the pause to put things into perspective. I think a lunchtime exercise routine would help people come back to their desk with a feeling of accomplishment. I just have to listen to myself and get back to it. Maybe then I'll be able to gauge where I am with a little more accuracy.