Under Pressure – Overtime

Recently, the son climbed out of the car and left his choice of radio station on.  When I climbed in, I left it playing.  Because of this, both of us heard David Wilcox’s, sexual innuendo, double-entendre song, Layin’ Pipe, with its line of, “Eight shifts a week is never enough.”

People like young, up-and-coming doctors and lawyers put in huge amounts of hours to guarantee future success, but often, hourly-paid workers will do the same, working two or three jobs, to get ahead.

One of my fellow auto-workers put in an 8 AM to 4 PM shift every Saturday at a cookie factory in the next city.  There was no problem when he was on day-shift, or afternoons, but, when our week ended after a midnight shift, Saturday at 7 AM, he had an hour, to drive 20 miles, and punch in by 8.

The son has a co-worker who works as a bus-boy/prep chef at a local family restaurant every Sat. & Sun.  On a straight midnight shift, he gets a few hours sleep, and works Saturday, from 2 till 10.  The plastics plant has offered a couple of Saturday midnight shifts recently, and he took them.  Leave the restaurant at 10 PM Saturday, drive across town and put in an 11 to 7, grab a few Sunday ZZZs, and back to the diner.

Fortunately, they were the weekends before, and after, Easter, giving him a week to recuperate.  The son worked both weekends also.  He had a four-day week with Easter Friday off, but followed by a six-day week.

My auto plant had a five-year stretch of prosperity, where there was overtime available every week and weekend.  As a union shop, the work went first to the person on the required job, and then by seniority.  A young man hot-forming vinyl sheets went through two packs of Hall’s Mentho-Lyptus cough candies per shift, to keep his mouth moist.

Someone suggested doing something on his day off, and he replied that he hadn’t had a day off work in 17 weeks, and many of them had been 12 hour days.  It was either the work stress, dextro-methorphan poisoning from all the Hall’s, or a combination of both, that lost him his job.  Not once, but twice, he phoned the plant manager’s house (who, of course, wasn’t home) and screamed at his wife and daughters and threatened them with violence and death.  I’m not sure if he demanded less overtime, or more.

The inspector/packer on my Jeep line was a little, Muslim, Turkish Cypriot.  As such, he had a great need for male children.  His wife first presented him with two daughters.  He bitched at her, but she was sufficiently Canadian to tell him that he only got back what he put in.

She finally gave him a son, but – Oh Horrors – the boy’s right ear was malformed, and he held it against her, loudly, constantly.  They had a nice little house, with a nice little mortgage.  She must have felt that, if he was going to either ignore her or belittle her, she wanted something that included room away from him.  Before long, they had a nice big house, with a nice big mortgage.

Soon, between abandoning her and paying down the mortgage, he was spending huge amounts of time at the plant.  One day, the supervisor distributed our pay checks and, without thinking, I asked, “Did you work any overtime last week?”  Then I slapped myself!  I worked the standard 40 hours.  He had a slow week at 80, 24 at time-and-a-half, and 16 at double-time pay, and yet, his check was exactly double mine.  All the premium pay had gone to the government as taxes.

He would work four hours over, each day – five 12-hour days by Friday – then come in on Saturday and Sunday as well.  If he wasn’t asked for overtime, he had a system.  Even if he worked till 11 PM Friday night, he was back at the plant by 6 AM Saturday morning, “Just to get something from his locker.”  He knew that, of a crew of 10 or 12, at least one would get drunk, or forget to set an alarm, and he would be invited to fill in.

He had another trick.  He would work the Saturday day-shift, come back at 11 PM and work the overnight midnight shift, get a bit of food and sleep, and return once again and work the Sunday afternoon shift, getting in three shifts over two days.

A few times, he managed to stretch one of the weekend shifts to 12 hours, giving him a total of 88 hours for the week.  Wilcox’s “eight shifts a week” is nothing; that’s eleven! At least once that I know of, he managed to get 12 hours on two of the weekend shifts, setting his record (and anybody else’s) at 92 hours.

He showed me a picture in his wallet once, of a handsome young man.  I thought it might be a younger brother or cousin.  It was just him, shortly before I met him, pinched, dried, wasted!  I own an 11-year-old car that I may not be able to afford to replace.  At 70, my mortgage isn’t paid off yet, but people still don’t believe I’m as old as I am.  I worked to live.  I didn’t live to work.

Huge work hours, and dedication to a job or career can buy you lots of “stuff”, but it often doesn’t leave you enough time or energy to truly enjoy your stuff.  I tried to attain a middle ground with my employment, and still often shake my head at those who don’t leave time for life or family.

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Book Review #6

MAGIC

Years ago, when I began reading science fiction, I was a nuts-and-bolts, spaceships-and-rayguns sci-fi fan.  Then a couple of my favored authors (both female) slipped into sword and sorcery.  I tried to follow, but I guess my structured, logical mind just didn’t wanna go there.  There seemed no “basis” for magic.  It just was, take it or leave it.  I left it.

Fast forward 40 years.  Times, and technology, and therefore writing, have changed.  In the last couple of years, the son has introduced me to four different sci-fi series wherein magic exists.  Quantum mechanics/entanglement and cosmic energy, along with parallel dimensions, justify magic, at least to me.

The last for me to read is from an author listed as Ilona Andrews.  It’s actually a husband and wife team.  She’s Ilona.  He’s Andrew.  She’s Russian.  He’s American.  No seductive superspy or licence to kill, she came to San Francisco to attend university, and they met at an English Composition course, where she outscored him.  (Where’s a licence to kill when you really need one?)   She writes the romance/sex/magic, and he takes care of guns, knives, bombs, vehicles and martial arts.

The son had acquired numbers 1, 3, and 5.  Recently he let Amazon fill in numbers 2 and 4, and number 6 will soon be released.  I’ll add them to my to-be-read pile, and get to them some time next year.

Two other series are both by the same author, Larry Correia.  The Hard Magic group are set in the Roaring Twenties era, a Raymond Chandler-esque alternate-history with Tommy gun-toting hoods, and airships instead of planes.  All people range from zero to adept at telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation etc.  Only a rare few can synthesize control over more than one talent.

His Monster Hunter series is modern-day and assumes the existence of werewolves, vampires, orcs and the like.  Silver-bullet armed groups are paid by the government to keep these away from the general population.  Non-threatening species like elves and gnomes are merely confined to reservations which resemble redneck trailer parks.  Social commentary, anyone?

The last group are the ones I’m going to (finally) review.  A female author has written several books intended for adolescent readers, but in doing so, perhaps unknowingly or unintentionally, she has written above expectations, and produced some adult-grade statements.

The Author – Wen Spencer

The Book(s) – Tinker – Wolf Who Rules – Elfhome

1-Tinker 2-Wolf Who Rules

3-Elfhome

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Review

I’m reviewing three books, because this trilogy of 550-page stories is actually one extended tale across several summer and fall months.  They can be read as stand-alone books.  Each one is carefully ended, but enjoyment and comprehension of #2 and #3 are greatly enhanced by the previous back-story.

Magic, in these stories, like cosmic rays, is ubiquitous, needing only to be gathered and controlled.  Small groups of parallel dimensions hang like bunches of tomatoes on a vine.  Those closest to the stalk receive the most magical power.  Poor Earth hangs out at the very end, receiving just enough to make magic the stuff of myths and legends.

Apparently a native of Pittsburgh, Spencer puts all of the action there.  Magic does what technology does, only faster, better, more powerfully.  Technology can harness magic, if you know how and where.  The magic is directed with crystals, or computer-printed spell sheets.  Of course, it can also be controlled with hand and arm postures, and initiated with voice vibrations, spell words, like the Weirding-module guns in Frank Herbert’s Dune book and movie.

Our teenage heroine’s grandfather produced a satellite which unwittingly causes the city to cycle from Earth to an alternate-Earth known as Elfhome.  On each such tomato-Earth in the bunch, a different, though similar, set of flora and fauna have evolved, with a different race at the top of the food-chain.

The magic-rich Elves, while not exactly immortal, live thousands of years.  There’s a world where sauroids learned to use magic, and essentially became intelligent dragons.  They, and others, can move from world to world.

The author is entranced with Asian culture.  She has the heroine in another book move to Japan to become a writer.  Aside from the action, these stories are much in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels.  She uses satire and lampoon as social comment, to show the strengths and weaknesses of various cultures.

The regal and genteel, one-child-per-century Elves are the Japanese.  While they make a great show of manners, they are locked into a royal court and cultural rut, too slow to deal with the rapid social changes that inter-world travel has brought to them.  Everyone has their place, but, like the caste-ridden India, there is often no-one to fill newly-produced places.

The ill-mannered, pig-based Onihida, breeding faster than rabbits, busily consuming and corrupting their own world, as well as others, are the Chinese.  The diverse half-breeds are the Americans, able to use the magic to sprout wings and fly like birds, or trail like bloodhounds.

These are the tales of a wrecking-yard-owning Pittsburgh Cinderella, who rescues, and in turn is rescued by, her Elfin Prince Charming.  She uses quick wit and genius level intelligence to defeat the bad guys and save the day.  Through them all, the author cogently notes where our societies have come from, and where they might be going.

I found them good, solid reading, with lots of action and plot twists, and a reflection of life.

“Heaven’s For Real” Rant

In my Jesus Loves You post of April 22, I mentioned how exclusionary and judgemental many “Good Christians” can be if you don’t exactly match their idiomatic religious expectations.  The more extreme the group, the more difficult that can be, since they almost contend with each other to be more rigid and unforgiving.  Several years ago, a Palestinian terrorist group began killing members of other Palestinian terrorist groups – because they weren’t killing enough Jews and Christians.

When I used WordPress to see what others were writing about “Christian”, I found this review rant about a feel-good little movie – titled, Heaven’s For Real- EXPOSED!

The Uber-Christians complain so often about Hollywood not presenting Christianity in a positive light.  I thought that a movie validating one of its basic precepts would be happily accepted and celebrated.  Once again I overestimated.  This sad little man’s screed was disturbing and depressing.

The movie kid claimed that Jesus had a rainbow horse, with lots of colors. Well, that sort of thinking just can’t be allowed.  To these Ultra-Christians, rainbow means gay, and gay is simply unacceptable.  This over-serious Bible-thumper claimed Christ has a “pure, white horse” to battle the Antichrist.  Apparently the thought that Jesus might possess more than one horse in Heaven, including a pretty, rainbow horse to please a six-year-old boy, wouldn’t fit into his narrow little mind.

The kid claimed that Jesus had a pink crown with a diamond in the middle, and wore purple.  The thumper insisted Christ would have seven stars in his right hand and a sword coming from his mouth.  He didn’t say whether the point was in or out, but declared that Christ would not wear pink, or purple – because they’re effeminate, and Christ can’t be effeminate.  He claims that Christ-in-Heaven wears gold, although the Bible passage he quoted only says that Christ has a golden sash across his robe.

He rails that the kid says that Christ has “markers.”  “What use would Christ have for markers?  They weren’t even invented!”  When?  The movie is set in the present day!  Not having read the book or seen the movie, I don’t know if he (again, narrow-mindedly) can only imagine felt-tip ink markers, but I can think of a couple of types of markers Jesus might use.

I know I shouldn’t bait the trolls, but I asked if Jesus was a sword-swallower in a carnival.  He came charging back with two more “sword from the mouth” Biblical references – one from the Old Testament, before Christ was even born.  He averred that, “Since Jesus is God; His word is the sword to cleave unbelievers.”

I replied that, since Bob is Richard, he hadn’t understood, but did now.  It was obvious that the Bible was not a book to be taken literally, since there were passages where what was clearly written was not what was meant.

I would have liked to be in the room with him, just to see steam spew from his ears.  It might have been dangerous though.  If the pressure was too much, his head might have exploded.  He didn’t exactly accuse me of misinterpreting.  What he said was, “So, you’re going to send me a $50 donation?  If words don’t mean what they say, then I can interpret your comment any way I want.”

Might as well, you’ve got this interpret-it-as-you-please thing going pretty well.  This is where the cognitive dissonance, and refusal to see – or think, kicks in.  He said: that a sword coming from the mouth was actually the word of God.  He said: that Jesus – is God.  Did The Kid get a promotion, or did he bump the Old Guy off?  He said: that the Word Of God was actually delivered by Jesus.

By his own editing and interpretation, he has said that the words he quoted don’t mean what they say – therefore, the Bible can not be taken literally, but he’s angry at me for pointing this out!

He admitted to another less-strenuous Christian commenter, that there is a Bible passage which describes a rainbow around God’s throne, but rainbow horses must be Satan’s work.  There’s a rainbow horse in The Wizard of Oz, and that’s an occult movie.  He claims that there is also a sodomite lion.  I don’t remember either of those.  Maybe I didn’t get the XXX version that he rented.

I am still bewildered by what purpose such unremitting negativity serves.  He’s in for a surprise when he gets to Heaven and finds that he’s not on the guest list, but assigned to the serving staff, holding the kid’s rainbow horse, and fetching him markers.

🙂

😯

 

What We Want

Groups like entertainers, politicians and retailers are often urged to, “Give the people what they want.”  This often doesn’t happen, because that’s not what they want.  What they want, is the maximum return for the minimum expenditure.

What we want, is often predicated on what we already have.  A teenager in Ruanda might just want some food, while a teenager in Beverly Hills wants a new Smartphone to match her new gown, which already matches her new Lamborghini.

Back when I was a cube drone, one of my more-enlightened slavedrivers bosses sent me to a one-day, How To Be More Efficient instruction module. What he wanted, for the outlay of a couple of hundred dollars, was greater output and efficiency, and for me to think he cared, and stop bitching.

This seminar was given by the same guy who was surprised we didn’t describe ourselves as Honest.  He asked us what else we wanted from our jobs.  This was the first time I became aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

He explained that we can do without air for four minutes, without water for four days, and without food for four weeks.  Some of the guys who didn’t have them, wanted business cards, to seem professional.  Some wanted bigger offices – the corner office with the windows.  Some wanted impressive titles, even though the work would remain the same.  I didn’t care much where they put me, or what they called me.  I pulled a Jerry Maguire – Show me the money!

I had been a buyer, the lowest of the bunch.  Then I was a Purchasing Agent, a step up.  I had worked up to being an underpaid Materials Manager.  One pretentious egotist wanted the corner office with his title on the door – Senior Vice-President In Charge of Walking Around With My Nose So Far in the Air That I Can’t See or Smell the Peons – And Coincidentally Acquiring Stuff the Company Needs, As Long As No-one Knows I Actually Work For a Living.  If that didn’t fit, he wanted a bigger door.

Since the hotel they’d been using for a couple of years had a lot of steps, the Free Thinkers have been shopping around for a new venue.  What they want, is a place with a varied menu, with decent food at decent prices, a separate room or area, handicap access, adequate parking, and located on a major transit line, because a couple, like the Mennonite lady, come by bus.

We tried a new-to-us, but old, downtown restaurant in March, and will go back in April, but it does not bode well.  It’s not as upscale as it would like people to think – and that’s what we do.  Almost as many steps as its up-the-street neighbor – what a surprise, no parking – walk a block, no breakfast buffet, and five items on the breakfast menu.

What at least three in the group wanted, were Belgian waffles, just like Momma IHOP or Denny’s makes, with whipped cream and powdered sugar.  What they found was that, those are “dessert waffles”, served in the evening.  What they got, were breakfast waffles, without.

What they wanted was a menu, or server, that would explain that the place didn’t do things the usual way, and that whipped cream&sugar was available for a mere 50 cent surcharge.  What they wanted, was a dispenser of real Canadian Maple Syrup.  What they got, was a rip-it-open-and-spill-it-on-yourself, plastic container of genuine, imitation, looks vaguely like Maple, pancake syrup.

What I wanted – what I specifically, firmly and clearly ordered, was a cup of hot chocolate, with a good dash of coffee in it, almost a mocha.  What I got, was a server who brought me a Chi-Chi “drink”, a breakfast shooter, see illustration below.

What I wanted was a mug of hot chocolate, with coffee.

Home made

What I got, was this gay-bar, bud-vase, clear glass cup (?), with four layers, an inch of chocolate syrup on the bottom, with a layer of (ugh) warm! milk above it, a layer of coffee above that, and topped with whipped cream, which I didn’t want, and should have given to the lady beside me with the Belgian waffle.

Uptown Hot Chocolate

What I want, is what I want, but, as most of you know, unless you own Belgium, and not just the waffles, very few of us get what we want.