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August 01, 2003
I'm talking, here. Are you listening?

More about private soldiers. (On my new site, I should have a search feature, shouldn't I? So I can find and link back to my own posts in an orgy of incestuous self-promotion.)

This is probably a good idea from the Administration's point of view.

Yeah, it will keep information from us to a certain extent, but releasing every two-sentence potential WMD lead they receive causes some major problems when, as is normal, most don't pan out.

(On the other hand, with this Administration, I feel a certain compulsion to watch their every step, so it's a bad idea from that perspective.)


Oh, I don't know. I'm tired of being outraged about international affairs and the economy, okay? Just worn out.

Let's talk about my favorite subject for a change. Let's talk about me.

Recently in my office, we were visited by 6-foot, dancing bananas, in spite of the "no soliciting" sign by the door.

Solicitors just walk in, no one cares about those signs because they know businesses won't prosecute and if they can buttonhole a passing employee, they can force business cards and information on them. I don't know if such behavior results in sales but it does allow the salespeople to fulfill their "contact" quotas. Nevertheless, I've shushed more than one of them before they could get started on their spiel, pointed out that we do have such a sign, and asked them to take themselves out of my face. Politely, of course. Sort of.

We're a start-up, okay? We don't have any money to pay for anything and since there's only a couple of us, we also don't have time to listen to worthless sales pitches. Every ten minutes I spend with those people is ten minutes later I have to work that night to get the must be done tasks for that day out of the way.

The bananas were handing out free samples of drinks from one of those frozen-fruit-drink places. I declined the offer, but I was the only one who did. (We share space with a couple of other companies.) I wasn't rude, though. I figure a guy who has been forced to dance around in public in a giant banana costume has got enough problems without attitude from me.

It's been a tough three weeks. Not for any particular reason but because we're getting down to ironing out some of the nitty-gritty points that have to be put into place before we can really go full-steam ahead. As so often happens, we're all (us and the people we're consulting) in agreement on the major points but the nits are resulting in pitched battles. At the same time, we've got potential clients coming at us from all directions, all wanting information on exactly how we deliver on our promises, but until we get those nits ironed out, I don't have a "company line" of information to share with them.

Also, I'm writing contracts which I suck (scroll down) at but we can't afford a lawyer.

And creating comprehensive delivery programs built around a handful of concepts I'm not qualified to evaluate.

And writing "expert opinions" on things I don't understand.

Working at a small company provides quite a range of challenges.

Today, for instance, I was forced to threaten my co-worker and a consultant with exorcism if they didn't stop chanting what they've decided will be our company's new mantra.

I have enough problems and I refuse to sit next to people acting like unwilling refugees from some weird cult.

I'm also oddly aware of my butt today. Not for any unmentionable reasons (you people are so perverse!), though. It's because I've only exercised once this week and I have this hypochondria-induced sensation that I can feel my butt getting completely out of control.

Eating a pop-tart for breakfast probably didn't help. And that bowl of chips at 11:15 yesterday evening probably wasn't the wisest choice, either, I know.

I have no huge plans for the weekend. I'd like to go see Pirates of the Caribbean and, if memory serves, there was another movie out I wanted to see as well. I've forgotten what it was so I probably didn't want to see it very much, did I?

I have to work for a while (only four hours or so, I'm hoping) at some point during the weekend, to get one of the aforementioned "comprehensive delivery programs" ironed out to the point where it can be critiqued by others.

Sometimes I hate being FirstDraftGirl. Why does it always fall to me to be the one willing to face a blank piece of paper and take the first steps to creating something? Why don't I ever get to be the one who gets to look smart by editing someone else's rough draft and turning clunky concepts into polished prose?

Where did this fondness for alliteration come from and is there a pill I can take?

What shall I have for lunch? I had Japanese on Wednesday and Mexican yesterday. The other restaurants within walking distance of the office that I'd be willing to patronize (no fast-food hamburgers, thank you) include a Quiznos, a Subway, a pizza place (I don't like pizza) and a noodle place. I've never tried the noodle place but people say good things about it, so maybe I should toddle over there with my lunch money and see what they have to offer.

I have a lot I need to accomplish this afternoon, but I'm not in the mood. That probably means my blood sugar is tanking and I should eat something. On the other hand, it's an hour earlier than I normally eat lunch and if I eat now, the afternoon will be never-ending.

These are the things that go through the minds of the average employee. As they sit there working diligently (or at least typing something, be it contracts or illicit blog entries, they're thinking about lunch, wishing the Elves of Employment would appear and finish up everything laying on their desks, and wanting to go home. We all want to go home.

People in Europe get six weeks off a year, you know.

On the radio last night (NPR), I heard someone talking about the culture of Vacation Guilt that exists in the USofA.

Not only has downsizing left most of us doing the work of 2-3 people, making it hard to take time off, but it seems that several billion dollars worth of unused vacation time is forfeited by people every year.

In the job climate that has existed (for the most part) since the early 80s, people are afraid of losing their jobs if they use the benefits they're technically entitled to. (Remember the 80s? That's when the Reagan Administration's love affair with big corporations started moving us from being a nation of people to a nation of producers.)

Plus which, as I whined earlier this week, it's hardly worth taking time off since the work of two or more people piles up on your desk every day while you're gone.

Mini-rant on short-sighted corporate downsizing removed.

Anyhow, now they've identified a "Vacation Deficit Syndrome" in USofA workers. People who don't take vacations not only suffer dramatically decreased quality of life (Life? What life? I have a job to do!), but they actually die. By some amazing percentages that I've forgotten (30 and 60 percent respectively?), men and women who don't take regular vacations suffer many more heart attacks than people with better balance in their lives.

I've been part of the work force, full time, for cough years, and in all that time, I think I've taken my entire allotment of vacation....four times. Maybe five. Those were usually jobs where I was in my first year of employment and only had five days coming.

I can't remember if this company's policy is 2 or 3 weeks per year. Doesn't matter. I think I took eight days last year, so I didn't go over the limit either way.

A friend who has a lot of unused vacation time at her job hit on a novel scheme. She's taking every Monday off for the next two months so that she doesn't lose her banked vacation time. I'm jealous.

I used to work four-10. Four days a week, ten hours a day. I loved those three-day weekends. Now, of course, I'm "management" and I work ten hours a day every day and frequently more.

It's not that I don't have a life. I have a life. I don't need help getting one. I need a more stable economy so that I could, for instance, book a vacation three months in advance with the assurance that my company will still be in business and I'll still be employed by then.

What this country needs is:

A) A vastly reduced defense industry. We should not be building or sustaining economic growth on a mountain of bullets and missiles, okay? If this is all we have to offer to ourselves and the world, then we're a very unsavory bunch.

B) Sanity and an eye on the big picture and the long term, in our foreign policy.

No more hissy fits because some tin-pot dictator has the nerve to say we should mind our own business.

No more unprovoked invasions of other countries.

No more tying war to the "needs" of USofA-based conglomerates' economic wish-list.

No more ignoring humanitarian concerns because some USofA-based companies have economic interests in a country.

No more financing terrorists today because they're "our" terrorists, then having to hunt them down at great cost to our soldier's lives ten years later.

No more tying sales of military equipment into our "peace plans" when we intervene.

No more selling to both sides in a war.

No more guns. No more dealing in death. When did we become this thing?

C) A shift to a life-based approach to living, instead of a "means of production" approach in our domestic economy. We should be the leisure-capital of the world, not the SCUD-missile capital.

D) 75 percent less advertising. For everything. This culture of consumerism was created around/'just after the Korean war and, not coincidentally, to take advantage of the new medium of television that allowed manufacturers to hawk their wares to a torpid audience. (I think there should be a ban on advertising anything that doesn't actually improve the quality of someone's life or actually produce more leisure time, while not egregiously harming the planet or other people, but that has as much to do with being tired of endless car commercials as anything else.)

E) Caps on the salaries and benefits of top wage earners. (Except that I'm sort of lassaiz-faire, economics-wise, so I'd prefer it if there were a nationwide stockholder and worker revolt to take care of this.)

(And the heck with pious claims that multi-million dollar payouts are "necessary" to keep good top executives with the company in times of trouble, okay? What kind of idiotic thinking is that? Who led the company into trouble? And why would any other company hired the kind of CEO who bails out when things get bad? People who run corporations live in some alternate reality where logic doesn't apply, don't they?)

F) Significant corporate reform. Forget election financing reform. What we need is to create a new legal definition of a corporation. One that mandates that a corporation is not, in fact, a "person" but an artificial entity that exists to produce goods, services, or ideas and, as such, is not entitled to guaranteed "growth" at the expense of workers.

G) Strike down NAFTA.

H) Cease, instantly if not faster, all charity programs the government runs where it pays corporations to, for instance, move jobs from Georgia to Puerto Rico.

There were probably other things but I've decided on Japanese, so I'm going to lunch now.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:01 PM