Saturday, January 31, 2009

Long-ass week, long-ass month

Well it's been a long-ass month what with taking a new job, working it for a less-than-happy two weeks and then returning to my old one. My ephemeral career as Revenue Analyst 2 , comparable to the life span of a fruit fly or Hotel Food & Beverage Manager(this is probably only funny to musicians who book gigs in such establishments)or perhaps Trini Lopez in The Dirty Dozen, is barely a page in this chapter, but was necessary in satisfying a curiosity about what goes on up there. So ultimately a happy month of course, but all the same, the changes kind of take it out of you. You feel them cumulatively(at least I do!)at the end of all the activity. One big wallop.

So, yes. A long-ass month. Whew!

And this has been a long-ass week, to top it all off. Why? Well, for starters, every day was just cold enough to make it uncomfortable at work. Plus the 4-day proceedings of the Impeachment Hearing of our now former Governor.

The normal programming of the classical music show on NPR was pre-empted every day by the trial from Monday through Thursday. Most everybody else was riveted to the proceedings, but I really would've preferred having the regular fare of classical stuff going while I was working.

My disengagement from the whole thing reminded me of a story I'd heard while a college student. Mozart, according to this account, lived in Paris for a time during the French Revolution, and out of all the letters back to his family in Salzburg, none of them mentioned the political and social climate of the day. He just talked about what tunes he was working on! "Yeah, I've just completed an Opera. There was some noise outside my window all day, but I managed to tune it out!".

Given Mozart's dates(1756-1791)and those of the French Revolution(1789-1799), the story is probably apocryphal, but it is a good musician story and I saw myself in it as well. We just want to work on our tunes..

Actually the whole trial held a lot more interest for me after work, and I was following it much more closely on the TV news and Internet. And, as a gov't employee, it was quite a sight seeing his name scraped off our front door on Friday.

And finally as an Illinoisan, I did like the speech given by our new governor on Friday. Naturally his stance and policy are going to be antithetical to that of the previous administration, so that was an expected part of things- the talk of returning integrity to state government and the cessation of pay-for-play, quid pro quo politics.We'll just see how he delivers. At least he's actually going to live in the Governor's Mansion, unlike his predecessor.

No doubt more cold weather awaits us in February before Old Man Winter is done kicking us around for the year. But at least the trial is over. I'd rather listen to Mozart while I'm working. Maybe even something he wrote(allegedly anyway!)during the French Revolution, his Muse trying her damndest to drown out the noise from outside.

ven der putz shteht

There is an old Yiddish expression that goes something like this: ven der putz shteht, lich der sechel in drerd. Translated, "when the prick stands up, the brains fall to the ground".

Very true. When this happens, somebody else is driving the bus- and all the while hollering, "Use me! Use me!" It's amazing that you'd even get out of the driveway with all this going on, much less reach your destination.

So every so often when I'm on the Internet, the little head gets control and I end up cruising the cybernetic Red Light District- and often enough taking home a new website. This last time it was . has women with HUGE boobs--according to the Model for Us link, at least an E cup to be considered. That being the primary requirement, often the face going with that stupendous rack is one that could stop a clock. Or the body is of zeppelin proportions.

But there are a few who are relatively petite, aside from their E+cup titties, and also have a pretty(or at least pleasant)face. Or they have just the right amount of chubb. Actually this quality is one I'm beginning to appreciate a bit more- particularly if they seem to enjoy their own bodies.

There are pages and pages of videos, little 30sec to 5+minute things featuring these girls of all shapes and sizes--but all with at least an E cup rack. As a new member, it's quite easy to go a bit nutz with downloading, given the Wal-Mart-like expanse of choices. Aisles and aisles of boobs.

So after my first day as a member, and having downloaded a ton of video clips, I suddenly could download no more. Well, for 24 hours. They have a limit, I don't recall the amount but it's in gigabytes and I exceeded it. A day later, all was back to bizniz and I was free to download a ton more--whatever the little head was dictating that day.

I remember looking in My Documents at all the video clips I'd downloaded on that first day. An embarrassingly voluminous collection . Sort of like a binge drinker looking at all the beer bottles he'd emptied the night before. And I've since gone through them to see which ones I'd just as soon delete. But then the blood starts rushing back there to the putz area and I'm once again incapable of rational judgment. Ven der putz shteht..

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The World of Work(and Japanese Hotels)

I must admit, I've got a decent situation going in my current job. (Actually I like to think of it at this point as the job I'll probably retire from, in roughly five years.) A good job, but fraught with paradox- much like life itself.

Paradox? Yep. Two examples come to mind. One, we're under constant pressure to produce, yet the amount produced is up to us. Two, we're in a fairly restrictive work area, yet the way we use that space is entirely- again, up to us.

Likewise, how we do the work is our call. Just as long as it gets done, and we're showing production, the Powers That Be could care less about our particular methodology or even whether or not we have one.

It still boils down to that "organizational chart" that came out on email some years back with the birds on different perches with Director(or, if you will, CEO) Bird at the very top and then a descending order of 'administrative' perches with more and more birdshit covering each row of birds. Our Powers That Be may drop something on us, but usually only when it's been dropped on them from above.

So, all told, I am in a nice niche where there's not too much falling fecal matter. True, I am at a place in the building which gets more cold air than I think we deserve, but I am also at a place in the building where(unlike other, warmer spots) I can listen to the radio. This is only a trade-off during the Winter. I work with one other person--we get along great--and spend most of my day putting data into the computer, reviewing stuff, much of that time while listening to beautiful classical music on WUIS Radio(the collidge station)

My job before this I held for 16 years, and was quite different. A big noisy room full of people--we dealt with the public--where my phone rang constantly and you almost always had a problem someplace. It was a long stretch of road, those 16 years, and with just a few landmarks(one of which was being laid-off for 6 months--which you could possibly interpret as hitting a pothole!) but then you can get very comfortable in your job, just by virtue of the familiarity- happy or not!. Before you know it, you've got 15 years in and they're giving you a pen commemorating your decade and a half of service to the company(or agency if you will).

In the Fall of '07, at a point where I'd just had the job all "broken in"(but was inwardly tired of the noise, and of the sameness), I was told that they were shipping me to a different work location, effective mid-November. This is the job I have now.

I must admit I felt a bit uprooted for the first couple months. Missed the people I'd worked with, and the mobility of my former job(you could get the hell out of Dodge on occasion), plus the easy familiarity a decade and a half brings. I did not miss the cacophony that a big room full of people can produce, or my constantly ringing phone, or a few of the personalities I had to deal with. What makes a job change easier is having at least one aspect(in my case, several)of the job you'd gladly leave behind.

So after about 3 months, I was acclimated to my new surroundings, and no longer wanted to go back. (You kinda get hooked on the quiet in a job where you no longer deal with the public, strangely enough!)About a year into it though, we went through some staffing upheaval, losing our third person to the office she was "sprung" from to work with us. Very sad, but these things happen.

On her last day, I got a call to take a different job. It was something I was on the eligible list for(yes I work a Civil Service job..)but never figured I'd get called to do. Same building, more money, and being as that the call came on our 3rd person's last day, I took this--mistakenly perhaps--as a fortuitous event, perhaps even a harbinger of things to come, the 'sinking ship' as it were. So I decided to go for it. Take the plunge.

Strangely enough, I remember liking the look of the workplace, how everybody had their tall(well, to me!)cubicles, working away in their own private little worlds. Accepting the job, I remember thinking how cool it'll be to be working away inside my own cube, my own space.. But once I was there, it was a different story. Never quite felt right.

Picture if you will a big room lined with private offices all along the walls,(right, they get the windows!) and within it 4 rows of cubicles. I worked in the second row about 60% in on the right. Obviously other people are just fine with this sort of work environment but it was getting to me. Feeling very boxed in, compartmentalized if you will, and further suffocated by the fact that there were no windows. A cross between a Prison and a Japanese Hotel.

Within my cubicle, I did begin to get a comfort zone going after a couple days. But leaving my cubicle, and likewise coming into the work area from outside, I'd definitely feel the pinch all over again. I never thought of myself as claustrophobic, but maybe I have some of that in me. At any rate, a strong feeling of confinement. Even though it contains the word fine, there's nothing fine about confinement. At least not to me..

So I decided pretty quickly that cube life wasn't for me. Plus if you're used to working on your own, it's difficult to go back to working under direct supervision.

Not a lot of muss or fuss in the process of going back to my old job. No hard feelings on the part of the folks I left and lotsa good ones on the part of the folks I was returning to. Kind of an emotional morning when I told them I wanted to come back. My co-worker in our once-3-now-2-person unit gave me a big hug(I'm sure as much out of relief as friendship and camaraderie, but still glad to have me back). There was a pile of work easily a foot tall on my printer waiting for me when I got in, but I was glad to see it.

And on the food table on the 1st floor there was an array of foodable items with the sign "Welcome Back Rog" on my first day back on the floor. This was something I didn't see coming. Way cool. They downplayed it, "just an excuse to bring food", but still a nice gesture.I thanked everyone profusely and proceeded to stuff my face with bagels and the like. Ended up getting heartburn pretty good from my gorging, but otherwise a very nice day..

Well what the hell. At least you learn something about yourself in the process if you're paying attention, in situations like this. I know I do best(or at least am happiest)in a relatively unstructured, unsupervised setting, and should make this a top priority in decisions like this one.

It also helps to have a window you can stare out of when the mood strikes you. This is another of the perks I've returned to. Plus, as I said, we get better radio reception. Music heals the savage breast, and helps thee get through thy daygig..

The only downside to where I've returned is, as I've said, that you freeze your ass off in the Winter. Well there are blankets and comforters(space heaters are verboten in the building)so it's not an insurmountable problem but a pain in the ass all the same.

Seems like every decision has at least a small price to pay, a life tax or better, karma tax. Oh well.At least it's getting paid. At least I hope it is.