Wednesday, May 27, 2009
We have a saying in my family -- when someone asks you what's new, what's going on, you say "nothing to write home about." And often people will comment, "you write home often?" and of course the joke's on them. As you know... yes we do.
But I often think, when approaching the blank blogger screen "nothin much to blog about." I'll treat you to a real old-fashioned weblog entry from the life.
Pour yourself one.
I have a couple of outstanding life management issues of late. If you are a careful reader, you have found them:
1) I really need a new car
2) I don't talk to my neighbors
3) I need a good handyman, Eldin style
4) I have mice
5) I think Hollywood has gone Apocalypto, with a capital A -- every movie is about the eve of destruction, and what if these really are the end times (lower case)
6) I still work too damn much, only now without feeling, so now I hate myself on top of it.
But the light in my week is Recording for the Blind. Tonight I was treated to Legal Rights of People with Mental Disabilities. Besides being able to say "deinstitutionalization" and "mentally deficient," I began to wonder if I count as mentally disabled. These authors say only if your condition interferes with normal life operations and/or is dangerous. I am simply a middle-aged American who returns to the house 3 times from the driveway to be sure the oven isn't on, and who really won't run my drier if I am not home.
My goddaughter wouldn't get into the pool because she thought the flowers would come off of her bathing suit. I say, until proven otherwise, why shouldn't she think so?
Driving home, my oil light came on (that is, I was driving. Oil light was not) which it does now about 1000 miles too soon, but at 136K and 10 years, it is entitled. I just throw a quart in and call it a day. I stopped on the way home to do that very thing, in the parking lot of the Shaw's (next door to the gym I have neglected for over a week) feeling so independent and cocky because I just take care of these things, you see, when they need taking care of (please look away from the broken garage door, fireplace, and the mouse trap). Hear me roar.
8:30pm and I drive up, hop out to lift the garage door and wait...is that the car...door... oh.... crap.
Good thing it has a full tank of case and a new quart of oil. Which it is burning through.
I got as far as the AAA phone menu-- because you know I throw staff at problems like these -- when I decided this particular mysterious way was more palatable than 4 horsemen and a whirlwind of fire, and I just went next door.
Husband next door threw himself into the puzzle as only other people's husbands will. Your husband, I am sad to say, will read you a full chapter of What You Should Have Done, but to me he will bring a coat hanger, screwdriver, and wood shims (of course he does). We will pick and pry and make what sounds awkwardly like sex noise as we guide each other to the elusive door button. Oh yes, manual doors and windows. I told you I needed a new car.
The wife suggests the cops will do this and pours us wine. After 20 minutes, I feel like he has made a fair effort but it just isn't going to happen (pause... giggle) and I call AAA. Waiting in their family room, wine in hand, charm fully on, we get to know each other while my car idles in the adjacent driveway. They apologize for the loud graduation party this weekend; I say I have been out of town, in Texas where I used to live. I decide to be normal and not international woman of mystery because they are being nice and it is 9pm in the suburbs, and he used his best husbandry on me.
We talk about the mice (they don't have them. Wife suggests I am not home enough and should have loud boys like they do). We tell our best cocktail party stories and I say what I really need is a handyman. Neighbor Wife knows one she loves. She is a realtor, she recommends him, he'll do anything. No job too small. I give her my email.
AAA comes and the other neighbors are milling in my driveway, worried I have been raptured (now, seriously, everyone knows my SHOES would be there) and chatting up the driver who is trying to locate the phone number I left him. Other neighbor confesses she has climbed up our deck to break in before. Husband and I get to tell our story to a whole new audience while AAA guy opens the door by ROLLING DOWN THE WINDOW with a bent coat hanger.
damn. that's hot.
I have thought of all the places I will hide my extra car key in the garage, all the places I will hide my extra house key in the car. But I am also giving the neighbors my email, and calling the handyman, and thanking my car for being so old you can break into it. And thanking the Lord for making me careless, even if just for a moment.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
On the left, Tribe of Two Sheiks classic hummus, featuring the 2 camels logo:On the right, Tribe hummus.
Your camels have been replaced by pictures of the delicious ingredients inside. The middle-eastern calligraphy is essentially the same.
You probably didn't think the Tribe was really made in Cairo or Casablanca, but you probably thought New York City or somewhere equally as world-stage. Tribe makes its home in the South Shore environs of Taunton, MA, not far from where the Patriot play. (I gave up remembering what the stadium is called anymore. Canaveral, I think)
So here's how this happened:
The Tribe began manufacturing in 1994 as part of the Rite Foods brand of food...stuffs. The official story about changing the packaging is "Many consumers had trouble identifying the hummus flavor inside the old packaging. We took a significant step to correct that creating illustrations on the labels of the vegetables/herbs in the hummus."
This angle is not mentioned in the official story.
The Osem group is actually part of Nestle, so this is not a takeover story (except maybe how Nestle owns everything).
Meanwhile, chief competitor Sabra pushes its "Go Mediterranean" slogan, though they are also owned by Pepsi-Co. Speaking of owning everything. (Mountain Dew "Voltage"? "Charged with raspberry citrus flavor and ginseng" Stop the madness, Pepsi. And don't make a hummus soda, no matter what the Cel-Ray people tell you.)
For one last "equal time" mention, the Cedar's factory tour. Ward Hill, MA, owned by ... itself, from what I can tell. Community-active and academically-endorsed. I may have just changed my hummus brand.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
I wish I could take credit for it, but there are some things the Universe just comes to on its own.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Who wouldn't be excited?
I took a survey somewhere on the Internet (no, you really don't know where my hands have been) and was sent the results.
Of 15,000 mill drones like me surveyed, 66% reported their Mill had not experienced layoffs in the past 12 months. Exclamation point! To paraphrase Sheila Murphy, "That is not a happy statistic."
It means 33% have.
Of those 33% who said yes, up to 25% of their service workforce had been reduced. Or as we say in software, "reductized." AND... say the majority of those 33%, other jobs in their Mill have not been cut. Service work can be easier to automate than most jobs at your Mill, but they are 40K jobs, so you usually have to eliminate a lot of them to make a dent in the payroll and benefits.
"Excluding lay offs, what are some ways you are saving operating costs in this economy? "
Here are my favorite picks from 6 pages of verbatim for ways companies are "saving operating costs" besides firing you. Keep in mind, these were submitted by the workers themselves and are probably spun differently from the Corner Office.
Call it trickle down. You should be feeling these soon, next time you need some tech support.
We are trying to reduce the communication cost by changing our toll free number to chargeable number.
Hiring people who are willing to work on lower wages.
Link incentive strictly to customer satisfaction and productivity.
Guiding client members to the website.
Offer rewards to agents who want to go home.
Decrease the service level.
10% reduction in salaries for exempt employees.
Desk sharing. (like it should get any smaller)
We concentrate more on the small but stable accounts
We strictly enforce multitasking.
We will not measure our service level and/or other contact center performance indicator.
We have cut back on recruiting expenses by going with cheaper options.
Keeping training costs down.
Put more work onto the agents we currently have with us.
We're not allowing any overtime.
asking employees to do more with less
Assigning more responsibilities to the leadership team so that additional hiring is not required.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Mme. Secretary was just addressing her employees -- the ones so often in harm's way abroad. Defending our homeland from.... over there. But if your Company wants to handle its liability the same way, one memo is as good as the next.
In the spirit of good healthy work practices, the DrawingIn room presents
Add this caption from our text, " If he has finished the elementary school course, he will be able to meet most of the demands of ordinary business life. If he is fortunate enough to have completed a high school training, he will find that he possesses an equipment that will overcome many an obstacle in the way of success."
No miner boy, me. I gots me degree.
There are 19 chapters (the last of which is Tuberculosis). I treat you to these unaltered illustrations and quotations. Cross-stitch at will.
"If the person I want for this job is clean and neat and self-reliant, I may be sure that his morals and methods of work are equally clean and straightforward."
"We all prefer those friends who are cheerful and amiable. Isn't it just as probable that an employer will pick out the pleasant-faced, cheerful boy or girl to work for him, in preference to one whose expression is sour and gloomy and whose manner is short and surly ?"
"If you have any trouble in the nasal passages, a physician will tell you how to use a nasal douche."
"So it is well, if you cannot sleep out of doors, to have plenty of fresh air circulating through your room at night."
"...the Pennsylvania Railroad will no longer pay damages to any one injured in getting on or off their trains, if it is proved that high-heeled shoes or tightly fitting skirts were responsible for the injuries received."
"It is because milk is unclean and full of germs or has been
spoiled by standing or given in unclean nursing bottles, that
so many babies are made ill."
This problem of the coffee cups is older than first thought.
"It is believed that the largest number of accidents in shops and mills takes place on Monday, because the alcohol that is drunk on Sunday takes away the skill and attentive care of the workman."
"Many employers make the mistake of crowding too many workers into a small space...If you know such conditions to exist in a factory, avoid working there, and do not sacrifice your health and possibly your life. The factory laws of New York allow 250 cubic feet of air space to each worker."
"The children of parents who work very hard in certain occupations are usually smaller in size, less intelligent, and more feeble than the children born of healthy parents and brought up with the additional advantages of nourishing food, plenty of fresh air, and play."
To a minimum. It can't be eliminated.
I will let you caption this one yourselves.
"If the body is forced to keep at work after the fatigue point is reached, day after day, without sufficient sleep or opportunity to find healthful recreation, the reserve fund of energy stored in the cells of the body is used up ; 'and, if the strain is continued up to the limit of exhaustion, there may be a sudden revolt of the overtaxed organism and a collapse that may prove disastrous physically and mentally."
This is the modern method. The Victorian version of this book had the rescuer clap his hands sharply near the victim's face and bark, "I insist that you wake up a-twonce!"
Which brings us back to flu prevention and other workplace considerations. The President has already said you should use as much Sick Leave as you can.
Take this example from our text:
Monday, May 4, 2009
Even though it is clearly the end of everything we hold dear. Put it on the list.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
In any case, here's something to blow your mind, as told in the Economist.
Red Ash is the oldest of 36 fires currently blazing in Pennsylvania’s 180,000 acres (73,000 hectares) of abandoned mines. The most famous is beneath Centralia, which began in 1962 when residents burned some rubbish on top of an exposed coal seam. In 1981 a hole there swallowed an 12-year-old boy; Pennsylvania has since condemned the entire town, relocated almost all its residents and had its postal code revoked. Like Red Ash, Centralia’s fire is thought to have enough fuel to burn for many more decades.
The abandoned carousel is not just for creep effect (though it is totally creepy). It is from Centralia -- that Love Canal of coal towns.