Thursday, March 29, 2007

Waste management

I don't think that parent-teacher interviews will ever lose their strangeness to me.

There is something inherently humbling about sitting across the desk from a teacher, even if you aren't the student. It completely brings you back to grade school mentality (for those of us that actually moved on from it).

For some reason I've always felt like teachers just knew. They just knew that you did your project at the last minute. They just knew you passed notes. They just knew that you didn't know the answer to question #6, which is exactly why they ask you it.

So tonight, I thought for a second - this teacher just knows that I bailed early from work. They just know that I skipped out for no valid reason, other than I felt compelled to. So while they were saying, "she's doing very well", they were thinking, "if this kid has her mother's work ethic, she's in for it".

Of course, the teacher didn't know and, if they did, couldn't give a crap. They would probably envy me for my short time off....if they didn't have a PD tomorrow... and three months vacation on the horizon.

Yeah.

And speaking of education. Today's work topic was reducing waste. We had a training session on how to optimize the business and workplace. Good ideas. Not terribly sexy and exciting, but important nonetheless.

So we did these break-out brainstorming sessions on what type of waste we have at our site. I was at a loss for ideas when I was told that like Scrabble, no personal names could be used.

You want waste reduction and cost containment - there's about 195 lbs and $70,0000 worth sitting at in a hard-walled office down the way.

Talk about a one tonne challenge! I could suggest a whole lot of waste removal..where's the company phone list?

Unfortunately this type of suggestion wasn't what the session had in mind.

Like a good student, I paid attention to the session. I participated. I behaved, most of the time. And like all good students - I was rewarded.

Granted it was self-rewarding, but I just knew that I deserved it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's in your head

Warning: this post has the potential to offend people who get real migraines – I am not talking about you, I’m talking about The Others

I’ve already decided that at my next job, I’m going to have a condition called Migraines. This terrible affliction comes out of nowhere and forces, yes forces you to stay home. They rarely occur on the weekend, unless there is a scheduled event that you don’t want to attend (or you feel you aren’t receiving enough attention), and almost always happen in the morning.

I know people that get real migraines – I’ve seen what they look like and I feel their pain. They know what triggers their headaches and do their best to avoid them.

I also know other people who suffer from what they call migraines. I’m not a doctor, nor do I profess to have superior medical knowledge; however, I believe the following:

- a headache is not a migraine
- being tired is not a migraine
- feeling stressed out is not a migraine
- not wanting to go to work is not a migraine
- being pissed off at someone and looking for a way to use some emotional blackmail is not a migraine
- wanting to go home early from work is not a migraine
- overeating, particularly crappy food, and feeling bloated is not a migraine
- being hung-over is not a migraine
- needing attention is not a migraine
- walking around and telling everyone that you have a migraine is not a migraine

In a world of too-much information, we have the ability to self-diagnosis just about everything from mental disorders to physical ailments. Type in “ache in head” and suddenly people are looking to book a MRI.

Why?

Is it that it’s embarrassing to admit that you might actually just have a plain old headache? Or is that in this day of terrible viruses and diseases, it’s unbelievable that what you are feeling is normal and uneventful. Or are people just so out of touch with their bodies that they have to rely on others to tell them what they are feeling.

Then, there are some who cannot accept that what they are feeling is common. They must be different. They never get sick, except about 6 times a year. They never get headaches, except for those nasty migraines that hit them right before a long-weekend. They never get injured, but cannot exercise because of a bad back and a weak knee.

They are walking contradictions – I’m the picture of health, but only if you squint your eyes and tilt your head to the side.

And I’m thinking that maybe I should join the ranks.

Maybe I should label every out-of-sort feeling I have as a migraine. After all – they come on suddenly, no one can prove otherwise, and I don’t have to have any other symptoms or signs – just my word.

I would do this, but quite honestly just thinking of the logistics gives me a headache.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sigh.

I’m teaching E how to play chess and he has picked up the concepts very quickly.

He takes a long time to think about his moves, which is a good thing in chess (not so much when it comes to picking out a gum flavour at the store).

During the game last night, he spent more than a few minutes studying the board and double-checking with me how each piece can maneuver.

Finally, he looked up and asked why the King is the most important piece when all of the other pieces do the fighting, moving, and sacrificing (his new word of the week). He added, the King doesn’t really do anything – it can only move one space at a time and without protection it will get killed. So, how come it’s the most important?

(Silence)

I debated how to answer this one since six seems awfully young to be jaded.
I told him that’s just how the game goes.

He’ll find out soon enough that it’s also how life can be.

Especially in the work world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Survey says....

I’m a bit at a loss of what to chat about, but still feel the need to say something.
Generally, I’m okay with comfortable silences – particularly during car rides, but the sight of a blank page is somewhat disheartening.

Okay, I’ll blurb about work.

Yesterday we sent out (yet another) survey to our group to help our grassroots Associate Engagement team find out, more specifically, where people are hung up and what we should invest time into.

Sending out a survey is easy. Coming up with questions that will get you information you can use and that won’t turn people away is much harder. We drafted up some preliminary questions – I posted them in a common forum so that the group could review them (which incidentally, no one did and this completely pissed me off because it totally wasted meeting time – WHICH happens to be one of the group’s beefs…ineffective meetings).

Deep breath.

So, after hashing and re-hashing we finalized the questions and sent them out. Predictably, a few people that grumbled and even one (ole hatchetface herself) refused to do it since the questions were stupid and the whole exercise is pointless.

I should take a second to point out that she is leaving our fine organization in exactly 7 working days. So forgive me if I am uncharacteristically anti-HR and say – who gives a flying f&ck what you think.

The amount of time these people spend actually arguing against the process would have been better spent filling in the damn survey or attending a meeting to share their infinite wisdom about the workplace.

Anyhoo…the survey is out and now we wait. And wait. And wait.

I hope that most people will fill it in. We did it through a web-based site which allowed “confidentiality” to those people who feel they cannot stand behind their ideas. We left plenty of space for comments so those who like to write excessively long missives that drone on and on (and use only commas as punctuation) can add their thoughts.

It should be interesting to see whether people are just so freakin’ fed up with the process that they will just fill it in with average readings to keep it balanced or whether they will actually put some thought into it.

The million-dollar question is whether the results will tell us enough for us to develop sound recommendations.

Then the billion dollar questions will be whether our sound recommendations are accepted and followed through by those in power.

It should be interesting since I know that most of the complaints and areas for change center on the fact that those in power are not doing their jobs. So how much hope can you hold out that people who aren’t doing their job are going to do something about the fact that they are not doing their job.

A hundred people were surveyed and the Top ten answers are on the board. Describe the response of associates when asked what the likelihood of management admitting that they are f&cking up and agree to change their ways.

10. Not likely
9. When Hell freezes over
8. Ha!
7. Yeah right
6. Are you on crack?
5. You’ve got to be kidding me
4. I don’t see that happening
3. Never
2. (snickering)
1. (silence and eye-rolling)

There you have it.

I’ll keep you posted in the real responses.