Saturday, March 05, 2011

a rant on work...

I've been thinking about Wisconsin, and unions, and work.

I know that many good, qualified people are unemployed right now, through no fault of their own, and part of me knows I need to be grateful that I have a job...but some weeks it's harder than others to hold onto that thought, and this was one of them. Work is horrendous right now, for everyone, not just for me. We're in the midst of a takeover, with the result that management is running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off trying to decide what to do next, and every week, and sometimes every day, new decisions are made by those higher on the foodchain re how best to "manage" (HA!) the pesky help (of which I'm one). Although their decisions have direct impact on how I do my job, most of the time management doesn't seem to realize that to implement these decisions, those of us who do the day to day grunt work would actually have to be made aware of them...

But there are exceptions, and on Friday afternoon, the latest plan was announced. It's a very old plan that the company has been trying to implement for several years. It's never worked, but that doesn't discourage the fat cats, who dust it off and rename it and try again. It's called Cross-Training, a nifty plan whereby upper management, all of whom make enough to consider the prospect of tax cuts for the wealthy a terrorist act, downgrade the measly existing pay structures for grunts like myself even further, and then require everyone to learn everyone else's job. The goal is to have everyone able to cover everyone else at all times, so that if someone in investigational is hit by a bus, someone like me (I work in post-marketing) could leave my cube and go take over their work while they're out...the obvious question of who would then do my work doesn't appear to figure into this equation...and never mind that some of the products we manufacture are considered drugs, and some are considered devices, and some (the majority of the products I handle) are considered both drugs and devices (and thus subject to both sets of regulations), depending on where they're marketed. What I do isn't hard, but it's highly highly highly specialized, so I don't see how this "plan" will ever work.

I sat in that meeting and listened to this nonsense...did I mention that for good effect, the person delivering this news told us not to worry about it, but we should know that the company who is acquiring us outsources all of their case management to India, because they can pay our counterparts there less than they pay us...

Add road construction to get to work, and traffic...I've had better times earning a living. A couple of weeks ago on FB, in frustration, I posted,
"I hate my job!" And a retired friend left a comment, "AGAIN?"

Yes, again. And this is why.

Friday, March 04, 2011

I'd Never Hire an Interior Decorator...

I know plenty of people long to hire interior decorators, but for what it's worth, this is something I'd never do. I did hire an architect who spent a fair amount of time walking around in my house after the fire, after which he drew up plans with suggestions, almost all of them excellent and quite affordable, regarding improvements I might make when reconstruction began, but that's different, to me, from hiring someone to advise me on what color to paint, or how to decorate, a room. Those decisions are personal, and I'm sufficiently independent and confident in my own judgments that I'd never trust anyone else to make them for me. When I'm not sure about colors, I bring home reams of paint swatches and tape them to the walls in the room I'm planning to paint, and then I check them out in various light. Next, I narrow down my choices and buy a few pints of paint, and then I paint patches, approximately 4 feet square, which I may look at for up to a week before I make my final selection, with which I'm inevitably pleased, which is more than I can say for many people who trust interior decorators to determine what they'd like.

Years ago, I attended a housewarming where I knew hardly anyone, so I did what I tend to do in those circumstances: I headed for the bookcases to see what this guy read. But I was immediately puzzled, because I couldn't figure out his filing system. Philosophy was next to fiction; poetry was next to home improvement, etc.

"What's up with your books?"
I asked him, as I sipped an excellent gin and tonic.

His face darkened ominously and he looked at his younger brother, expectantly.

"Uh, I recommended an interior decorator..." the younger brother began, "and she arranged the books on the bookshelves..."

"By SIZE and COLOR!" his older brother finished the sentence, furiously.

Ah yes. That would be a problem for those of us who read. Another reason I grow quiet when the topic of interior decorators comes up is because for some reason, the topic always takes me back to a weekend when I was a bride, when the ex and I had been invited to a fabulous private club in UP Michigan, The Huron Mountain Club, where the ex's cousin had a
cabin (technically, it was, indeed, a cabin, but one that Ralph Lauren would have killed for) on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Huron Mountain Club is incredibly beautiful and wild and remote and, in those days, we were out of range of television, phones and radio...there was just the scent of pines, the cool, crisp, sunny air, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore at idea of a perfect vacation...until the afternoon the 2 other women in our group began talking about what tennis camps they'd attended as teenagers. Give me a break! Tennis camps?!?!?!? Really?!?!?!? Puh-leez! I never attended any frigging tennis camps, I muttered to myself, feeling all Holden Caulfieldish as I kicked dusty leaves with my Bass Weejuns, suddenly realizing that although I was at this fabulous place with everyone else, I was really there with my nose pressed up against the glass, as it were...

Sometimes, the stories you hear when people start talking about hiring interior decorators are hilarious. A friend told me that one of his friends, whom I happen to know is close to my age (I'm 61) has a
Donald Duck theme in her house, a statement that, by itself, came dangerously close to making me laugh so hard I snorted, something I attempted to camouflage with a prolonged coughing fit, as I listened to his oh-so-serious account of her experience working with a decorator. He said that Ms. Donald Duck had hired a decorator who successfully integrated the Donald Duck theme throughout her house, by doing things like painting the legs on chests of drawers chrome yellow (like duck feet), yada yada yada. The interior decorator probably laughed all the way to the bank.

The reason I've been thinking about this at all is that there was an article in the New York Times this week titled,
Shopping for Chaise Longues, in which a couple of architects recommended 8 chaise longues, "comfortable enough to curl up on with a book on a chilly afternoon". I'm a big fan of chaise longues; in fact, I have a well-used, quilt covered one in a corner of my bedroom, so I turned to the article. What was I thinking? It was a clear illustration of why, even if I could afford it (and I can't) I'd never hire anyone to advise me about this stuff.

Prices of the 8 chaises selected by the architects range from the $26,000 chaise pictured at the top of this post to the $2500 chaise pictured below (which doesn't look like a chaise at all to me, but DOES look like a couch missing an arm....and while I'm at it...$26,000.00 for a chaise? Seriously? Who are these people??????)

None of the 8 in the article looks comfortable enough to curl up on with a book on a chilly afternoon, but this is exactly what I like to do on my infinitely comfortable, under-$1000 chaise, which I purchased at Crate and Barrel a few years ago:

Thursday, March 03, 2011


I have a mandatory 9AM meeting every Thursday. Actually, there's an 8AM device meeting to which I'm invited but I don't attend; then the mandatory 9AM pharma meeting; followed later in the day, this particular Thursday, by a 1:30 TAT meeting. I don't remember what the hell TAT stands for. Corporate America LOVES its acronyms, but because corporate America is heavily populated by humorless MBA's with limited imaginations, although acronyms abound, they tend not to be obvious.

My point is this morning I left home at about 6:30 with the idea that I would arrive at work in plenty of time for the 9AM meeting. It was a gorgeous, dry, sunny morning, so one would think that would be the case, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Traffic on LBJ was so slow it was almost at a standstill in 3 places between Preston and I-35 South, where it finally thinned out; insofar as I could see, this was not due to any accidents and wasn't considered sufficiently newsworthy to make any of the traffic reports; then on eastbound 121, just outside Fort Worth, there was a horrible wreck involving an overturned SUV that was so stupendous it had westbound 121, on which I was driving, backed up for 5 or 10 miles because the majority of drivers are apparently unable to drive past any accident without slowing to a standstill to gape. Maybe if there were traffic curtains, to curtain off accident scenes, some of this could be avoided. Anyway, leaving at 6:30 on a clear, dry, sunny day, I arrived at work at 8:30. Ugh.

In an attempt to avoid the same ugly scenario going home, I left today at 3:45. Same good weather, but more, albeit different accidents that left me sitting in traffic, enabling me to take these pics with my iPhone and post them to Facebook as I sat in traffic on LBJ for an hour this afternoon. And as if that weren't enough...gas prices are rising.

This is not good for the psyche.