The Work Thread

Still acclimatizing to my morning work shift... aka being at work at 4am to point a camera at anchors for a morning news show. It's ok, I guess, but I get bored especially as I hear the same stories over and over for 4 solid hours. On the upside, chefs frequently bring food and shelters bring dogs to pet. 


After the morning news is done I actually get to learn stuff, so that's cool. Been tagging promos in Adobe Premier. It's grunt work, but it's helping me learn the program. Plus I now have "video editing" on my resume. 


Today the news director asked me if I'd film high school football on Friday. Don't want to say no to that guy (trying to convince people of my indespensibilty) so I'm in. I'll be adding field photographer as a resume credit as well. 


The hard fact is that my company is never going to pay well. They want kids out of college, train them, use them for as long as possible and send them off to another job. So my long term prospects aren't great. My plan is to soak up as many marketable skills as I can and move on. 

I kinda did... well after the fact. I was completely nervous while I was actually filming. It went ok for my first time. I learned some things not to do, but managed to put together enough decent stuff for them to air something. So that's good. It'll be better next time. 


That said, I did enjoy being back at a high school game in a media environment. To me it's a quintessentially American event. The chill of Autumn, roar of the crowd, the announcer calling the play. The band playing the fight song, cheerleaders. Smell of hot dogs in the air. 


Anyway it went well and I survived being up at 3am, working a full day and then coming back three hours later and driving out into the mountains for not one, but two games.

This actually isn't that bad of a job. I dunno. Even with the commute. I wish I could say more, but I don't want to run afoul of the NDA.


With Walmart, I'd end the day horrified that this job could be a years-long experience. With this job, I'd actually be okay with that.


Re: this comic, yes, "Dora The Explorer"-caliber games are something I've experienced. Let me tell you, playing Dora the Explorer-caliber game for eight hours is *way the fuck* more entertaining and less stressful than cleaning a Walmart for eight hours.


Some days, we get better games. Much better games. At that point, the job is actually really fun.


Finally, re: bugs, I honestly feel satisfied by rooting out bugs. Like, it's not "Oh no, the game broke!" it's "Fuck yeah, I broke it, and now the end user won't have to step on the bug".

Can talk about this now it's over.


Got invited to apply for Head of School (of Education) at a university in Sydney. They're merging two existing entities to create a new School, so there'd be challenges with building the culture and so on.


It would be a big promotion, and I said to the recruiter right from the start "It depends who else is in the pool, they'd be taking a chance based on my potential not my demonstrated achievements at this level", but he assured me that I was competitive.


Got the interview, flew to Sydney for it. Heard a week later that I didn't get it... but they didn't appoint any of the people they interviewed. Obviously I *was* competitive in the pool, but the pool wasn't of people they considered appointable. I assume they'll now try again, harder...


Was a worthwhile and interesting process to think through what I would do as a Head of School, since there seems to be a decent chance I could end up in the role at my current uni anyway. 

a month into the Night shift and i'm getting the routine. I've done 3 x weeks with an overtime (50hrs, fifth night shift) as its getting busier in the run up to Peak (Christmas). A new lad started last week so I'm no longer on my lonesome. Its good to bounce ideas and chew the cud ...and the cash will help fund kids Xmas delights, keep the Bank happy and alleviate my stress somewhat.


That said, I'm nowhere near being able to afford my own place, which seriously depresses me.

<crossing genres here, pls forgive/> Burning some vacation time this week, as it tends to accumulate 'round here, though I could choose to use them next week, when I head up to Maine with Sis' to move Mom into storage.  But that can't be considered vacation, I'm thinking personal time is a more appropriate choice.


A couple of projects skewed southwards a bit over the past couple of weeks, so it's been a bit chaotic, but they've settled down.  And the training (my former company coming in to provide latest best practices) that we started to put into place in July is finally looking to happen - constant learning is the way to go, though my college days are 30+ years past.  It doesn't get easier...


Happy Eating, btw!

Lots at work lately. Got a new report out and we got a nice feature on it in the New York Times by Pete Eavis. This led to others in the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, City Lab (geek pride, they used my maps) and a few others. A Virginia white pride website blasted it, I am proud of that too.

I also started driving for Uber. The Girl applied first but I did too and her background check has been an issue so I decided to give it a shot. I'd forgotten how much I love driving, but with the house now any extra funds mean an earlier payoff so there is a good reason for it too.
Well, as of now I have done about 4 hours split between a Sunday night, Monday morning and Friday evening. Hardly a good sample but I have done about 100 miles on the car and made about $80. I'm driving a Prius now so the gas isn't an issue. I think I prefer the early morning times, as your passengers are people headed to work so they are sober, know their precise destination, are clean, and not going to keep you waiting.
Originally Posted by editengine:
I also started driving for Uber.

Huh. What do you make of all the broohah re: Uber being some big libertarian-techhead plot to further degrade unions? I know a *bit* (but not a great deal) about the economics of taxi services--I guess local governments basically sorta create city-wide monopolies with things like taxi tokens. Limits the supply, makes the service expensive.


As a not-wealthy person, I'd totally go with Uber over traditional taxi since it's cheaper (but I usually I just take the bus instead). It's like that Marxian model where low-wage people in different industries are made to work against each other?


*Meanwhile*, I've been a game tester since July. Work is slllowwwwwwwwww. That is, I rarely get called in. I'm in the odd situation of *wanting* more work (whereas at Walmart, I'd fantasize about ways of getting the day off). It helps that game testing is *way* less stressful than e.g. janitoring a Walmart. Anyway, this (four/five months) is the longest I've ever held a job. Really, I can continue at this indefinitely--it wouldn't be *that* terrible if in a year (fuck, *five*, *ten* years, even) I'm still at it.


I'm still looking for a better job, since this only pays about $10/hour.


And I want to not be a not-wealthy person.

Well. Cabs are very different from place to place,  which drastically changes the math and the ethics. Here cabs are all independant contractors, a few of which are repped by the teamsters but generally they give most of their income to the cab co and get very little benefit. Most of the initial uber drivers here were cabbies,  who quickly figured that 80% of the fare was a lot better than 100% of the fare minus $120 cab rental, dispatch fee and card process fee. The local cab co parking lot is now overflowing with unused cabs as the drivers all shifted to uber.

Im other towns like NYC the cabs are issued a medallion, which is traded on a secondary market and is now worth well into six figures. Those owners lease the cabs out to drivers that they pay as little as possible. European cab drivers have a more legitimate complaint I gather, as they tend to earn closer to a living wage and have worker rights common to unions.

As with all companies,  assigning them human attributes of good or bad is a fallacy. Their impact on their workers and riders that rely o them can be good or bad and it seems that Uber(and Lyft) have an uneven depending on the local cab market. However, in most cities I have even been to or lived in outsode the airport or downtown area it was nearly impossible to get a cab in a reasonable timeframe. In those areas here uber is quickly becoming a critical last mile of the transit system, with a large percent of ride starting or ending at a metro.

Uber is quickly becoming more of a fun hobby than a job.  Although I am still averaging about $20/hr it is more about trying to maximize the income and meet interesting people while keeping my 5 star rating.  Last night the airport was a bust, as every cab and Uber in town was there.  I guess for the bigger cars, especially the SUVs, the math makes more sense to wait for that big fare that justifies 2 hours of sitting but for a Prius I need to keep moving to make money, preferably on surface roads where the battery does more of the work.


Last night I picked up a couple of guys clearly at that fun "I know where you work and where you keep your spare toothbrush but I have no idea what you really do and I have no clothes at your place yet" stage in their relationship.  Listening to them clearly sizing each other up in terms of future potential was quite funny.


Later I got a guy leaving his job at a posh Connecticut Ave assisted living facility and took him home to NE DC.  Along the way he talked about how he grew up in DC, and how he lived near one of the new Walmarts that recently came to the city. He said it had raised the value of his family's home but also brought more crime.


The last pickup was 11pm at the Takoma metro, where two young au pairs, one Czech and on German, were stranded.  One the way to their respective houses they told me they had a few days off of work for the holiday so they went to NYC for the parade, then to Philadelphia for shopping and the museums.  Stunningly attractive, with expensive looking clothing and accessories, they seemed to have spent most of the trip shopping.  They were loaded down with bags full of new purchases.  At 11pm outside the Takoma metro I am frankly shocked somebody didn't rob them in the 5 minutes it took me to get to them.





Probably shouldn't go on Facebook:

Back at the office after the office Christmas party and a valiant attempt with a couple of colleagues to ensure that none of the quite nice fizzy wine the uni paid for was wasted...

Before I can go home, I need to examine a Masters' thesis.

Let's just say that, if I had written a Masters' thesis, I would want it to be examined by me this afternoon...

Still playing catch-up...  This one's from the staff party, Nov/22.

I won an award, cuz I cleenz gud.  These awards are presented at the annual staff party, one to me and a few others to deserving recipients, but I didn't have to give a speech [couldn't think what to say anyway; was actually kind of stunned when The Boss started mentioning cleaning in the context of presenting an achievement award to someone... and as comprehension dawned on me, I started to duck-down into my chair, because I really had no idea what to say].

This is going to look a bit silly with all the redactions, but I never name names online, including employers' names.


Correction; *we* won an award.  Really, there's a lot I don't worry about any more, because I know it's getting done properly; this leaves plenty of time to fuss over other odd details around the gym.  And that really makes a difference.  So I got out the label-printer, added the names of Mz.Clean and the weekend guy, who covers her nights off, and mounted it in the janitors' room;


[See what I mean?  Sharing the credit does look a bit goofy with all those names blacked-out here, but you get the idea.]

And taken in context...


BTW, I love how the bowling gets more emphasis than the music festival, in the poster on the right.  :-)


Didn't expect Mz.Clean would wear her Zombie Bowling T-shirt the same night I'd put it up [with no knowledge that I'd been redecorating at all, let alone what specifically I'd been sticking on the walls], and that kind of blew my mind.

Always Free.




Photos (4)

The works both continue to go well.  In the day job we have been busy closing things up for the year and planning for Q1.  We are helping a women who just retired for Homeland Security with an NSF grant to develop s simplified survey small business owners can use to assess cybersecurity risk.  The grant has little chance but it is fun to work on and prepare for anyway.

The woman herself is quite interesting, ex-DHS, ex-DIA.  She is like one of those really fit grandmothers, then one that jogs every day and does stuff to keep busy.  Were life like a network TV spy show she would be ordering assassinations of petty dictators and pesky hippies whilst chairing the neighborhood tulip club.

I hit my $300 goal for Uber earnings for the month last night.  It took about 20 hours of work to get there but I also was able to download and analyze quite a bit of data to maximize the income next month.  Essentially, only work saturday nights, start off in Georgetown (very dense, wealthy, young, and with limited access to public transit while being separated from the rest of city enough to make walking difficult).  From there, follow the calls.  I found myself bouncing back and forth between the same 4-5 neighborhoods.  Since you get a minimum for the pick up, then a per mile fee and a tiny per minute fee you want either >1 mile trips or 4-7 milers.  Past that or in the little valley between 1-4 you tend to not make as much .  But you can't tell where you are going until you make the pick up.  The advantage is most DCers don't know the streets anyway, so you can use Waze to game it a bit and take the longer route around the worst traffic.  Frankly, it is just best to get as many butts in your car as possible each hour.

You want to avoid stopping at all, so you should have everything in the car you need.  Guys, this means a plastic bottle with a wide mouth.  Parking is tough to find in busy areas and easy to get to bathrooms are even tougher to find.  I have no idea how women handle this.

The stories from this gig aren't as fun as those from the bar, but you meet interesting people.  The passenger chooses if they want to engage and most do at least a little.  I have had the curator of the Griffith Observatory, she was in town for a talk at the Dept of Agriculture, mostly to a bunch of soil scientists.  I shared that I made the mistake of calling soil by the name dirt in from of some of those guys once and they were not happy.  It turns out she had done the same thing during her speech, and dropped a dirt joke that bombed.

Most of the rest of the time I don't get to talk to people at that extent, so what you get is a window view of their life at that moment.  

-The Air Force Pilot taking the beautiful Air Force doctor out for night a holiday bar hopping in Old Town Alexandria.  His self-deprecating humor had me on his side, she was ex-law enforcement, smart, and stunning.  All I could think was those genetics would make the perfect kids.

-Two mid-twenties young women who wanted to go from Bethesda all the way to a nail bar in Ad-Mo.  At rush hour.  50 minutes of listening to them complain about the poor service in the Bahamas, how much their men complained about the cost of things they wanted, the perfect dog breed, and how to groom a husband.  Real Women of DC, here is your cast demographic.

   *a nail bar is just what the name implies, have a glass of wine while having your nails done.  I have no idea how you avoid fucking up the new nails but I assume it involves a very long straw.

- The two young guys out for a DC Improv night to see this guy.  One gets a very angry call from his girlfriend.  I heard her yelling about pornhub and him contritely deflecting her inquires.

-The guy meeting his NBC producer wife at the Naval Observatory for a christmas party with Joe Biden.

-A lovely school teacher on her way to the Kennedy Center to see a concert starring The Washington Chorus.  A member of the Chorus herself, she was unable to meet the schedule for this performance and so was just going to enjoy it while dishing some of the backstage gossip she had heard about the lead singer on the way there.

Came back to work after vacation today, which is never pleasant. But my job found a way to completely make me hate the place. We're having an "open house" this week. So I have to dress well. Nothing like vacuuming the hair off cables in your Sunday best, right? 

On top of that, tomorrow I get to work my "normal" 3:30am-Noon shift, then be back at 3:30pm until around 9pm to help host this open house. So I'll get to glad hand and pretend like I'm interested in clients, while fetching them drinks and hors d'oeures and whatever other bullshit needs doing. All while in the presence of one Jerry Springer, our celebrity guest. 

I gotta find a new job, which probably means I gotta movie. Also having done a cursory glance at the market, I probably need to find a new field. Nothing more fun than realizing the experience you've been getting is largely useless because the entire industry only wants to hire people fresh out of college and never pay anyone more than a starting wage. 

Tonight we had a catch the sponge ball arcade type machine to entertain us at break time. Catch as many red balls in 30s, in one hand to win an Xbox One. My mate caught 11 and won the console. 

After four weeks of 60hr nights I didn't even try. Losers lose.

Today's work treat is a free 'Peak 2015' t-shirt. Temp staff have been given different t's by the agency. Talk about dividing the workforce. It's laughable.

Also, we have coffee barista/bar that's giving out Costa/Sbucks style drinks all shift. Gonna be hyper Mocha city for me.

Seven weeks of 60hr Nights completed ...or should I say, survived. A fucking war of attrition towards the end there, my online shoppers.

So finished my Q4 stint with the IT Dept and its given me a taste for a return to my techno support skillset. Hmm? Back in the Photographic Studio doing the donkey work on night shift but at least it's capped at 40hr/4 day weeks for a few months. Crap minimum wage but IT paid for Xmas and cleared my bank troubles. A good oppertunity that may open doors in future. The next 6 months will tell.

Oh, and I got myself a wicked new hi-viz coat for my bike commute; super dayglo orange and silver, light enough to wear over my leathers and waterproof too. Bonus.

04:15 towards the end of another night shift. It's all too hard to shape a life around these hours!

Having requested a move to day shift my manager turned me down due to 'business requirements', so I then applied for another temp IT Dept post ...and he failed to submit my form. I spoke to the HR Dept and the IT Manager and they accepted my application, but it's not good when you have little to no confidence in your own manager.

So after a few weeks of physical suffering - fatigue, tiredness, early morning sickness etc, I've tonight submitted an official request form, via the HR Dept for a move to Days. They have a weekly meeting on Friday and they'll ensure my manager completes his part of the form before that.

Here's to hoping I get back to a day routine, affording me more energy and enthusiasm for life. Nights is unhealthy for body and mind. Bugger the lower wages, we'll just have to manage.

...and some 18 months on, I'm back on night shift as an IT Technician (temp) for the next 3 months. Nights hurts but the extra cash will pay for Christmas for my two lads. Nothing else really matters at the moment.

I prefer working nights but it is hard on the body. My diet is poor, routines all to pot and tiredness is ever present even though I'm into my third week. No use complaining as it's a way back into the I.T. trade. I've shunned it for a few years but I'm enjoying the brain hurt, kinda.

So, this place is slooooow. Shame. It's my virtual home.

It's a bit more like Fredericton, the provincial capital 'city' here - during the first 2 weeks of August. It seems like 80-90% of the population leaves town for the cottage.  I've always thought it strange, considering it's one of the nicest times of year to be in Fredericton - but maybe that's because I like it when it's so quiet. It's a frozen shit hole in winter.

This place is quiet, like a museum after hours. Just a few mice and night-watch security and the occasional vandal. I kind of like it. My favourite mice are still here.

Speaking of work and Fredericton; those two are entwined for me. Most of my paying clients are located there, even if I am not (most of the time) - but fortunately I don't have to meet with them in person very often.

So much has happened since I last was known to post on here. The main on-topic change is that after I bought out (there wasn't much in the way of $ exchanged) my business partner, I have been gradually reducing my client list to a few tenacious groups. I've shifted my focus from commercial art (and all the tiresome related aspects) to 'fine' art; something I've been telling myself I would do since starting a "real job" out of college. That was over 20 years ago now.

It's been a slow process, but I'm feeling good about about most of the time. I just wish I'd started earlier - I feel like I'm at the stage where it's really a young person's game. Oh the mis-spent youth.

That's enough for now. Typing this on a phone is the shits. How's that for a bit of velocity?

I'm working at the warehouse. I have been working at the warehouse (with a month-long break during a slowdown) since October. I will probably just work these shit jobs until I finally work up the courage to eat a bullet, or I die of a Kevin Smith-style heart attack in my 40s or 50s.

I've given up, folks; I've stopped dreaming, folks.

Fuckit. I *might* be able to swing this remote testing thing. I dunno. I'll let y'all know. Since it's remote, I am semi-seriously considering moving anywhere in the US with fast-enough internet, and cheap-enough rent.


Craigslist is giving me apartments in Albequerque for $300. Dag, yo. Are... are those prices for real??? 

I stopped caring so much about, like... the shit people normally care about in cities when I realized I mostly just stay in my apartment all day if I have a choice. 

I mean, I'm celibate; I drink by myself when I do drink; I have incredibly simple/Philistine tastes in food; etc

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