Archive for the ‘Random daily events’ Category

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Discovering the anti-zen

In Random daily events on March 15, 2012 by atom Tagged:

Its 12:00 in the midnight, and I have a hangnail that is causing throbbing pain to resonate through my finger every time my right “hunt and peck” striker plods into the key.  This however does not stop me from bashing said finger into the keyboard repeatedly as my mind wanders about the room.

It has occurred to me that I have become sort of a room vagabond, strewing clutter about the house at the expense of enjoying the recent progress in home improvement.  The office for example has a distinct garage sale atmosphere; horded mismatched glasses cover the floor in an erratic pattern that seems to suggest a break in.  My desk was donated to a neighbor, and the “wiring closet” has been moved into the bedroom along with my Christmas PC that hasn’t been used for anything it was built for – all jumbled into an expensive pile of the grotesque that is both inefficient and unattractive.  The office is a freshly painted bit of slovenly disaster that has forced me to migrate into either my bed or the living room when working or wasting time yelling at people online.  The mess is incongruent, housing upgrades have forced nonstandard debris.  The kitchen mess is not in the sink, it is in the office, the living room is full of my yet to be built random LED light collection.  Ikea boxes and mounting hardware are strewn throughout every room.  I have developed “collections” of things like Spackle, glass block, different grades and types of resins/epoxy/polyurethane/”sticky stuff in a tube”, collections that no one in their right mind highlights by storing openly and celebrating in their living room.  Random metal, glass, and plastic are strewn not just in the front and back yard, but also the kitchen, dining and living room.  I must admit, I am not used to projects ever getting complete in the arena of homes, most things I start have indefinite time horizons; some projects have been ongoing for 7+ years.  It would seem I cling to the vestige of the incomplete even in the face of “done”, like the anti-zen, I leave the materials that are no longer needed in place in preparation for a project that no longer needs them.  I continue to celebrate the process that is already complete by paying homage with random deleterious items that really should be returned for some sort of refund so I can afford to purchase a desk.  Instead I sit in the living room gazing at sheets of hardibacker and random tile lovingly, nay, artfully hiding my cherished items in a camouflage of disorder.  The microwave is still in the garage because I don’t want its lack of look and unkempt pedigree to dissuade the eye from the delight that is now the kitchen, yet I have the new floor strewn with cubic yards of building materials.  Chaos in flux hiding the progress made, maniacally scrubbing water spots off the new backsplash while cutting my foot on the sawzall…  Christy must really love me to put up with this “eccentricity”.

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Irrational

In Random daily events on March 2, 2012 by atom

Then there is the irrational angry part; it pops out on a Friday after a respectable week of work.  Arriving home I find myself keyed up, pumped a bit, ready for action.  Ever since I quit drinking “ready for action” means I need to find a project or spend part of the night trying to sleep when I am not tired.  Rolling around on the bed while picturing the taste of an icy beer wasn’t going to cut it tonight.  The kitchen was missing a sink, there was no cabinet, the counter was lying across the dishwasher and a half assembled turnstile.  Tonight was to be one of those epic evenings when dreams, actionable items and motivation all meet in one manic tornado of progress.  Two hours later I am ready to strangle my girlfriend.  The irrational thought crosses my mind multiple times that she has purposely hidden pieces of the many parts of this intricate project.  The legs for the cabinet are missing, I find the power cord for the insinkerator, but the cover, drain sleeve and hardware are nowhere to be found.  My level is buried somewhere under the clothes and kitchen utensils that have been moved into the garage to make room for the renovation that brought us to this point.  Everything is almost ready for my needed project, but the fucking pieces are missing.  I know she didn’t hide them, there is no reason rational or irrational for that, but the thought is cloying.  In a simmering rage I decide against my better judgment to trudge forth into the night to the only available place to get tack nails, TSP, PVC etc.  Pieces parts and minutia necessary to salvage this moment of tappable energy.  I hate Walmart, it is both depressing and as a tangent debilitating.  Being there makes me feel judgmental and despising of consumption. The idea of churning through mountains of disposable Chinese crap dances with the food displays being stalked by engorged Americans hell bent on food induced suicide.  The electric carts are out in force propelling the engorged mechanically down the aisles as they rapidly pick off the herd of calorie caked food.  A panic attack strikes me with force; the wave of building fear hitting a crescendo before I realize it is upon me.  I feel a tremor in my body; I am both sick and despising, judging myself for judging those around me.  This place makes me feel vile.  $30 later and I have managed to live through the experience.  My ghetto Walmart, a place to go when I want to be drenched in what I hate about America.

I find the legs to the cabinet when I place my keys on them upon walking back into the house.  The stench of Walmart like that of a diseased whore is still on me and I feel a tad remorseful for spending even a moment in such a discouraging place.  The lady that checked me out could have been my Mother – that is not the retirement I want for anyone, the ticking of the clock setting the cadence of the day as you bag others groceries and wait to die.

I don’t get past putting the legs on the table before a thirst rises and I jump back in the car for a quick trip to speedway for some pop.  It seems like hours pass before I finally return.  The place was madness.  10 customers turned into 30 minutes as a rush overwhelmed the elderly gentleman trying to eek out his nightly living.  Everyone looks wasted, the 2 drunken bikers abusing formalities in demeaning ways – behind their eyes the story of speed and booze.  Their voices add an exclamation point to their excess.  The foursome that walk in, a bedraggled mop of upper middle class teens trying to look cool in that “I paid to look like a bum” way only teens celebrate.  The heroin chic chick leading that band of rheumy-eyed stoners has a tear in her textured nylons.  Her body and legs are too skinny, her voice too sharp, her boyfriend too stoned.  I smile; this place in all its raw dank is comforting.  I like the unruly kids, the wasted bikers, the loud-mouthed line.  Leaving the parking lot I am blocked in – the parking lot is a hot mess of dumb people herded into the worst parking lot in downtown Phoenix.  They jam ever more cars into a confined space for no reason other than to block each other in and make angry noises.  God everyone looks and acts wasted.  It takes sobriety to finally see the vulgar reality of a Friday night at the local gas station.  Mess of humanity upon mess of humanity trying to make messes upon each other.   No time for that, I have my own mess back at home to wreak havoc on.

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Work from Home? No.

In Random daily events on March 31, 2010 by atom

Conversations outside the cubicle, the rumor is afoot that we are about to lose our second (and last) work from home day.  If the communication is as good as the first “stricken” day off the list, then I will never know why.  This type of across the board “chain saw for heart surgery” technique has always fascinated me.  The studies, satisfaction reports, and in house research tend to point to this as a win win (telecommuting that is, not disbanding the process.).  You give anyone who commutes to work back part of their day simply by not making them drive.  You reduce your employees’ food costs, dry cleaning costs, gas costs, and environmental footprint.  In turn you get happier employees, better work/life balance and non-traditional coverage, along with lower employee turnover, less sick days, and in many cases higher performance and productivity.  Non-exempt means you get paid overtime, these people *amazingly* tend to work 40 hour weeks.  Exempt employees in 24/7 jobs are expected to be available at a moment’s notice.  “Coverage” is key, employees who work a newly (suddenly more stick, less carrot)defined 8 -5 “at work” job are still expected to be available for the outage that happens at 2:00 am on a Sunday morning.  They are expected to be available 24/7 for after hours change tickets, pages, questions, etc.  The business case for rewarding people in this situation with some work/life balance you are staring at.  The business case to “punish” a group of workers who work the 24/7 shift by making them both toe the line with the inflexibility of the standard no telecommuting work week, and then expect the flexibility of a non-standard job type is questionable.  Studies show this technique to result in what I like to call “warm body syndrome” where your employees indeed show up at the requested time, make sure everyone knows they are there, and don’t depart before required (some manager reading this right now is patting themselves on the back), the downside is thrice.  You have reduced your employee happiness, decreased their comfort in their job (what was I doing wrong that this happened?), and most importantly decreased productivity.  When your employee is sitting at their desk pissed and wondering if their job is less safe, they are less productive.  Take away their work from home days and you may find they are less willing to work when they are at home.

To put it in perspective, if I was the reason that the work from home day was being removed, but no one told me, and instead management removed the privilege from all.  The reaction I am going to have is that some other jerk caused this problem.  In the short term you may have scared me into “being there” more often and making sure I am always the first to arrive or last to leave.  Long term you have shown me that leadership won’t define the problem, but instead punishes everyone.  This type of focus less “clamp down” will result in me being more likely to look for a job with a company that punishes those that deserve it, and rewards those that deserve it.  Unfocused retribution from management breeds discontent.  Any action from management without logical explanation decreases my feeling of stability as an employee, thus increasing my need to find a more stable environment to work in.  When one has co-workers that are entirely “remote” this further exacerbates the situation.  Basically the company has said the new policy for some of you is no telecommuting.  Ignore the others who do it all the time, and disregard the other teams you work with who have a two day standard policy.  This does not effectively put me in a place where I feel secure in my job, as I seem to be sitting in the corner, bewildered, with the “I won’t work from home” dunce cap on.

So, is any of this blathering backed up with real data?  A couple searches garners me a USA today article, results of ATA studies, and a “Telework Savings Calculator” (yeah there is a wiki covering telecommuting, but there are those who nitpick at wiki as a valid source and I had 2o minutes of work/life imbalance time to waste anyway.)  Undress4sucess.com (the above mentioned purveyors of the telework calculator) has the following quote :

“If those employees who could work from home (and wanted to) did so just half of the time (roughly the average for those who do), as a nation we’d save over $650 billion a year, reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road…”

On the other hand, the name of the site indicates it may be run by free spirited (possibly naked) hippies…  On to a blog from the Harvard Business review where

 the silver lining to being connected 24/7 is that it not only enables me to get my work done from anywhere–it allows me to avoid buying $4-a-gallon gasoline…”

Caught my eye, again a blog from some loony toon at Harvard doth not a foundation make.  The NSF has a cheer leading article extolling the virtues.  And so do AT&T, IBM, and Sun Microsystems case studies, but I have grown weary of the hunt and copy needed for hyperlinks.  Since this is not “billable” time for my newly defined job my last thought is that a company that just outsourced half of its IT department to foreign lands seems to have no qualms with the “working remote” idea, except in situations where the remote workers are within driving distance, which really seems asinine in the context noted above.

Work from Home? No.