Our sink is empty. Our dishes are clean.

First order of business – I’ve been laid off from my job. I started working for Pearson when it was Macmillan Publishing on April 25, 1994. I just cross the threshold of 26 years at the same job. In the middle of May, my position was eliminated, along with a number of other co-workers who were also remote workers. I’ve been working from home since June of 2018 when they closed our office, laid off many of my co-workers, and had the rest of us move to working from home. I have a good severance package, so I have time to look for another job. I’m getting set to do that. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a resume, so it will be an interesting challenge.

The Covid-19 corona virus began racing across the globe in December 2019 and has spread so quickly that we are currently in the middle (beginning?) of a global pandemic. Over 100,000 dead in the United States alone, and 371,166 dead worldwide. It has reached even the most remote corners of the globe – 6,057,853 confirmed cases world wide.

I am in a high-risk group. On February 29, I went to my older brother’s retirement party and talked with my brothers about the virus. It already reached the United States by that time, although most people did’t realize it. After listening to their predictions about what would happen, I went to CostCo the next day and started stocking the house with necessities. Because I’ve been working from home, I mostly stopped going anywhere.

On March 19 I got a haircut, exactly like how I saw at https://scoutsbarbershop.com/shop/. I went grocery shopping the next week. Since then I’ve been home most of the time, except to drop things off at my mom’s front door – gifts, supplies, mask-making materials. In late March our state issued Stay At Home orders, but we were already doing that. We’ve gotten take-out on 4 occasions, and once I went to Lowes, which I would not do again because no one was acting in a safe or healthy manner. We’ve been ordering groceries for delivery.

Stephanie has been working at home since March 24 (?). She has been able to work remotely, visiting the office once a week or so to pick up files.

Because we’re both home all the time and eating most of our meals at home, it’s been a struggle keeping up with dishes. Running the dishwasher is a daily occurrence and sometimes it feels like emptying and loading the dishwasher is the only thing I do all day. Today our dishes are clean and the sink is empty. It’s taken a lot of effort to get to that point.

When the virus became big news in February and stats began to be tracked, I obsessively checked the global and state statistics every day. Now I’ve become numb about that. The numbers of dead are too high to make sense of anymore.

Over the last week there have been several police killings of African-Americans – In Louisville, Breonna Taylor was murdered in her own home by police who invaded the wrong address. In Minnesota, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who suffocated him by kneeling on his neck while he smirked at cameras filming his violence. In Indianapolis, Dreasjon Reed was killed by police after a police chase, and after they shot him, one of the officers joked ‘That’s gonna be a closed casket homie’ while looking at his dead body.

There are currently protests across the United States and the globe about the police brutality. Some have turned those protests into riots; white supremacists have invaded the protests and started violence. Here in Indianapolis, protests have remained peaceful on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until white people smashed windows and destroyed property. Police responded by firing tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters. Last night, Sunday evening, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police started firing and gassing peaceful protesters at 6:30 p.m., including a church choir.

We got our seeds planted and our garden ready in a timely manner this year. I made rhubarb pie from our rhubarb plant, and yesterday we just harvested our first crop of radishes. Strawberries are just getting ripe. I’ve been able to keep up with weeding our flower beds this year, and perennials are coming in nicely. Our peonies are in bloom. Primroses are also, and a poppy has cropped up. I’m finishing cleaning up the maple tree seed pods, which were prolific this year and took a lot of yard care time. I had to put in one of the downstairs air conditioners already.

I’ve been working on writing fiction. I have ideas but haven’t made much headway.

Radishes

2020 Garden

Continue ReadingOur sink is empty. Our dishes are clean.

It Gets Better: Pearson Employees

This is from my company – an “It gets better” message from some of the LGBT employees where I work. When I first saw that they had put it together, I thought “hey that’s pretty cool” – then I started watching it, and teared up. Damn.

I do occasionally get frustrated with my job, but everyone does. Life would not be life if there weren’t bumps in the road. And the little day to day problems that crop up are nothing compared to things like this – being a part of a company that values its employees and nurtures them. I am tremendously blessed compared to many many people who have to be in the closet for their job, or who have jobs that don’t reward them the way mine does.

Continue ReadingIt Gets Better: Pearson Employees

Strategic Incompetence

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From the Wall Street Journal:

To learn something at the office can be difficult. But to refrain from learning something requires years of practice and refinement.
It’s an office skill that Steven Crawley finds indispensable. “The inability to grasp selective things can be very helpful in keeping your desk clear of unwanted clutter,” says the executive in HR, or what he calls “the dumping ground” of all unwanted office tasks. “I have developed a very agile selective memory across a wide range of nonvalue-added activities.”
The most memorable time he brandished his nonskill was when the president at an automotive-parts manufacturer asked Mr. Crawley to organize the company picnic. With a sensibility more dry than bubbly, he wasn’t crazy about party planning. So he began to milk his lack of picnic knowledge for all it wasn’t worth. He responded to any inquiries or suggestions with questions and comments such as “How do you do that?” or “What did you guys do in the past?” or even “Help me remember why we’re talking about this.”
Ultimately, responsibility for the picnic was reassigned. Mission unaccomplished. Says Mr. Crawley: “You’d be amazed at how much I don’t know about picnics.”
Strategic incompetence isn’t about having a strategy that fails, but a failure that succeeds. It almost always works to deflect work one doesn’t want to do — without ever having to admit it. For junior staffers, it’s a way of attaining power through powerlessness. For managers, it can juice their status by pretending to be incapable of lowly tasks.
In all cases, it’s a ritualistic charade. The only thing the person claiming not to understand really doesn’t understand: That the victim ultimately stuck with the work sees through the false incompetence.

The only time I do this is when Stephanie’s cat Lucy begs me to feed her when I walk into the upstairs bathroom. “I don’t know where the food is, Lucy.” I tell her every morning and evening.
Stephanie is frustrated by this sort of thing at her workplace, though, particularly with the males in her office who claim “not to know how” to make coffee after they’ve taken the last cup. “There’s nothing in your penis that blocks you from learning to make coffee” she says.

Continue ReadingStrategic Incompetence

Fun Things To Do in the Office

These are jokes, and not intended to be taken seriously. Please view the site disclaimer.

Page yourself over the intercom. (Don’t disguise your voice.)

Find out where your boss shops and buy exactly the same outfits. Always wear them one day after your boss does. (This is especially effective if your boss is a different gender than you are. However it doesn’t work if your boss copies you already.)

Make up nicknames for all your coworkers and refer to them only by these names. "That’s a good point, Sparky." "No I’m sorry I’m going to have to disagree with you there, Chachi."

Send email to the rest of the company telling them what you’re doing. For example "If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom."

"Hi-lite" your shoes. Tell people that you haven’t lost your shoes since you did this.

While sitting at your desk, soak your fingers in "Palmolive."

Put up mosquito netting around your cubicle.

Put a chair facing a printer, sit there all day and tell people you’re waiting for your document.

Arrive at a meeting late, say you’re sorry, but you didn’t have time for lunch, and you’re going to be nibbling during the meeting. During the meeting eat 5 entire raw potatoes.

Insist that your e-mail address be "xena_goddess_of_fire@companyname.com"

Every time someone asks you to do something, ask them if they want fries with that.

Send email to yourself engaging yourself in an intelligent debate about the direction of one of your company’s products. Forward the mail to a co-worker and ask her to settle the disagreement.

Encourage your colleagues to join you in a little synchronized chair dancing.

Put your garbage can on your desk. Label it "IN."

Determine how many cups of coffee is "too many."

Develop an unnatural fear of staplers.

Decorate your office with pictures of Cindy Brady and Danny Partridge. Try to pass them off as your children.

For a relaxing break, get away from it all with a mask and snorkel in the fish tank. If no one notices, take out your snorkel and see how many you can catch in your mouth.

Send e-mail messages saying free pizza, free donuts etc… in the lunchroom, when people complain that there was none… Just lean back, pat your stomach, and say, "Oh you’ve got to be faster than that."

Put decaf in the coffeemaker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

Name all your pens and insist that meetings can’t begin until they’re all present.

Come to work in your pajamas.

Compose all your e-mail in the form of a Haiku.

Every time someone asks you to do something, ask them to sign a waiver. Include a piece of your children’s artwork as a cover page for all reports that you write. (If you don’t have children, draw stick figures yourself.)

Schedule meetings for 4:14 pm.

Agree to organize the company Christmas party. Hold it at McDonald’s Playland. Charge everyone $15 each.

Plant a hedge around your cubicle.

When in conversation, no matter where you are in the office, mutter, "I think my phone is ringing," and leave.

Organize a carpool. Then go to pick everyone up in a taxi.

Bring in dishes that you tried to cook but didn’t turn out quite right as special treats for your co-workers.

While sitting at your desk, soak your fingers in "Palmolive".

Send out flyers to your entire department/division announcing a required staff development program. When everyone arrives, show them slides from your vacation.

Tell everyone that you are quitting. At your going away party, announce that you were just joking. Make sure to take their presents.

Send out a notice saying that you have a brain tumor. After everyone in your office sends flowers and presents, send out another note telling everyone that it was not a brain tumor but just a bad headache.

When answering your phone, talk in a fake British accent.

Take a picture of your boss and have it framed. Display it in a prominent location on your desk.

Whenever a fellow staff member sneezes, quickly yell "SHUT UP!" If they sneeze a second time, follow up with "I SAID SHUT UP!". A third time, leave the room crying while saying "NO ONE EVER LISTENS TO ME!".

In the summertime, get an inflatable swimming pool. Blow it up and fill it with water. Place it in the center of your office. During lunch time, put on your bathing suit and lounge in the pool. Anytime someone walks by, yell "HEY NO RUNNING AROUND THE POOL!"

Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 99 copies.

Reply to everything someone says with "that’s what YOU think."

Practice making fax and modem noises.

Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc:" them to your boss.

Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.

Staple papers in the middle of the page.

Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a "croaking" noise.

TYPE ONLY IN UPPERCASE..

type only in lowercase.

dont use any punctuation either

While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.

Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."

While sitting in your cube, yodel.

Hum songs that will remain lodged in co-workers brains, such as "Feliz Navidad", the Archies "Sugar" or the Mr. Rogers theme song.

Pretend your computers mouse is a CB radio, and talk to it.

Continue ReadingFun Things To Do in the Office

You Know You Work for An American Corporation When…

Author Unknown

You sat at the same desk for 4 years and worked for three different companies

Your company welcome sign is attached with Velcro

It’s dark when you drive to and from work

Fun is when issues are assigned to someone else

You see a good looking person and know it is a visitor

Free food left over from meetings is your main staple

Weekends are those days your significant other makes you stay home

Being sick is defined as can’t walk or you’re in the hospital

Art involves a white board

You’re already late on the assignment you just got

When 100% of your time means 20 hours, with 40 more hours on the other 100% of your time.

You work 200 hours for the $100 bonus check and jubilantly say "Oh wow, thanks!"

Dilbert cartoons hang outside every cube and are read by your co-workers only

Your boss’ favorite lines are "when you get a few minutes" or "when you’re freed up"

Your boss’ second favorite lines are "this isn’t exactly what we need. It may be what we asked for, but things have changed."

Vacation is something you rollover to next year, or you try to use up three weeks between Christmas and New Years because otherwise you will lose it, or you get a check for it every January

Your relatives and family describe your job as "works with computers"

Change is the norm

Nepotism is encouraged

The only reason you recognize your kids and friends is because their pictures are hanging in your cube

You only have makeup for fluorescent lighting

Your resume is on a diskette in your pocket

Your company logo on your badge is applied with stick-um

You order your business cards in "half orders" instead of whole boxes

When someone asks about what you do for a living, you lie

You get really excited about a 2% pay raise

You learn about your layoff on CNN

Your biggest loss from a system crash is that you lose your best jokes

You sit in a cubicle smaller than your bedroom closet

You think lunch is just a meeting to which you drive

You read this entire list and understood it.

Continue ReadingYou Know You Work for An American Corporation When…

New Job Interview Techniques

Submitted by Shailaja Seebaluck-Oolun

Take the prospective employees you are trying to place and put them in a room with only a table and two chairs. Leave them alone for two hours, without any instruction. At the end of that time, go back and see what they are doing.

If they have taken the table apart, put them in Engineering.

If they are counting the butts in the ashtray, assign them to Finance.

If they are waving their arms and talking out loud, send them to Consulting.

If they are talking to the chairs, Personnel is a good spot for them.

If they are wearing green sunglasses and need a haircut, Computer Information Systems is their niche.

If the room has a sweaty odor, perhaps they’re destined for the Help Desk.

If they mention what a good price we got for the table and chairs, put them into Purchasing.

If they mention that hardwood furniture DOES NOT come from rainforests, Public Relations would suit them well.

If they are sleeping, they are Management material.

If they are writing up the experience, send them to the Technical Documents team.

If they don’t even look up when you enter the room, assign them to Security.

If they try to tell you it’s not as bad as it looks, send them to Marketing.

Continue ReadingNew Job Interview Techniques

Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector

Those of us used to writing technical and business reports know how difficult it can be to use just the right phrase to convey the true depth of your topic. Now, professionals and students alike can seem like etymological geniuses, thanks to the "Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector" created by Phillip Broughton, a U.S. Public Health Service official. Using only 30 carefully chosen buzz words, you can woo your way through any written or oral presentation:

  Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
0. integrated management options
1. total organizational flexibility
2. systematized monitored capability
3. parallel reciprocal mobility
4. functional digital programming
5. responsive logistical concept
6. optional transitional time-phase
7. synchronized incremental projection
8. compatible third-generation hardware
9. balanced policy contingency

USAGE: Randomly pick any three-digit number. Now select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, "748" produces "synchronized transitional hardware", or "839" yeilds "responsive reciprocal contingency", a phrase which can be dropped into any report with the ring of authority. "No one will have any idea what you’re talking about," says Broughton, "but they’re probably not about to admit it."

Continue ReadingSystematic Buzz Phrase Projector