Category Archives: Work

STFU and Do Your Job

Norman the plumber listened patiently as one of his helpers presented a long soliloquy about what was wrong with the job they were on, why the morning was so difficult and how nothing that went wrong was his fault. This particular laborer was well known for his complaining. As they finished lunch and got ready to go back to work, the plumber addressed the issues and grievances of his underling.

“Kenny, I’ve go some advice. And if you follow this advice, you’ll be a lot better off: shut the fuck up and do your job.”

I was just a teenager, but that stuck with me.

How many times do you wish people would just STFU and do their job? Yes you know exactly what I’m talking about. And don’t get me wrong, it’s advice I should heed more often.

So, I read this tweet last week from our esteemed leader:

OK. You won the election, you’re the most powerful person in the world, now STFU and do your job.

It turns out there’s an easy way to send feedback to the White House with a handy form on their website. Maybe this would be a good time to send Mr. Trump a message that he’d surely understand. STFU and do your job. Really, the world would be so much better, and indeed, it would be a tremendous way to make America great again.

A Breath of Fresh Air

A guy I used to work with believed that toilet smells are hazardous to our health. He’d gesture down the hall to the well-used men’s room. “That first floor bathroom is going to make you sick,” he explained. “When you smell someone’s shit in there, you’re breathing in tiny shit particles,” I nodded in agreement, not because I agreed, but because I didn’t want him to know that I thought he was nuts.

No, I didn’t agree with his particle thesis, but nobody could dispute that the bathroom often smelled revolting. In the interest of full disclosure, I hold the controversial view that people should poop at home, not at the office.

So, one day I decided I’d had enough. Early in the morning, I set up some old sneakers and a pair of jeans in bathroom so it would appear that someone was seated in the stall. During the day, I saw several flustered people go in the bathroom and exit quickly seeing the crapper was occupied. Those needing to use the urinal did so without being subjected to a toxic atmosphere.

Finally, very late in the day, someone peered over the stall door and discovered the ruse. I’m not going to name the person who peeked, and believe me, it’s a name many of you would know.

Some of you will see this as a cruel prank, but is it really crueler than fouling a public space you share with your co-workers? Here’s some advice if you really need to go: take it to another floor.

A Pace That Lets You Think

Maybe you’ve seen David Cronenberg’s film Scanners, you know, with the exploding heads? Well, I thought my head would explode as I was trying to juggle four instant messenger conversations at the office on Friday. When did work get so insane?

Naturally, when I spotted this item in the Vermont Country Store catalog, I was nostalgic for simpler times.

typewriter

“A pace that lets you think.” Hmmm, I really need that — no, maybe we all need that. I don’t know about your job, but my days lately are fractured by so many meetings that there’s precious little time to sit at my desk and get work done. Doing things at a pace that lets you think would be luxurious.

I’m sure that many of you remember typing your work and then distributing it to people on paper; for you youngsters, it was once commonplace. It might be fun to buy a typewriter and send some work around that way. We could all benefit from a pace that lets you think.

Sidewalk Serenade

Thanks to Google Maps, I figured out that the downtown lot where I park for work is .39 miles to my office. And thanks to Albany, I really need to watch my step.

I’ve written about the wasteland that has been dubbed the city’s Parking Lot District — and like any true wasteland, there are hazards. Like the sidewalks on Green Street, which, to put it mildly, could use a little work. How bad could it be?

sidewalk1

sidewalk2

sidewalk3

In short, it’s so bad that people have to walk in the street.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan probably doesn’t care what some non-resident thinks of her sidewalks, but I’ll tell her anyway: they suck. You’ve got a lot of people who need them to get to work, and it’s disgraceful that they’re in this condition. And don’t tell me that the sidewalks are not the city’s responsibility, not when your damn parking meters are all over them.

OK, done ranting. Carry on and mind the sidewalks.

Down on the Farm

It’s hard not to have that Green Acres fantasy when you stroll around the Troy Farmers Market.

“Hmm… I could give it all up and buy a farm! Maybe raise pigs, or something and sell my artisanal pork to fine restaurants and discerning consumers.”

Yes, that’s a fine dream — and it might even be achievable — but you may wake up when you see how much work it is.

We had a look at that over the weekend when we went for lunch at Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville.

Maybe you’ve seen them at the market with their delicious cheeses and Italian cured meats. The farm also hosts dinners and lunches that include a tour of the barn and cheesemaking operation.

So, let me get this straight: you have this big flock of sheep that have to be milked for part of the year, and then you make cheese and cure meat and sell your goods at various farmers markets and to New York restaurants. Oh, and on the weekend you host big meals and give tours of the farm. On top of that you’re fixing machinery, improving buildings, mending fences, chasing coyotes off the property, dealing with all the rules and regulations involved in producing food — it never ends.

Whew.

I’m not the first one to say this, but think about what it took to put that food on your table, especially the food that comes from independent farms and small producers. Life on the farm seems idyllic when you’re strolling by booths at the market — and it certainly is idyllic in many ways — but a lot of sweat went into those products.

Here are a few pictures from the farm.

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Krampuslauf

krampusAt a work gathering, we played a game that involved discovering Christmas facts about your co-workers: their favorite movie, Christmas song, holiday tradition and so on. It was a fun way to get people interacting at the party as teams competed for prizes.

The question about me? My favorite Christmas character — and naturally, the answer was Krampus.

I had to explain Krampus to most people. “Oh, he’s St. Nick’s demon sidekick. He comes for the bad children and carries them away.”

“What does he do with them?”

“Well, he drowns them, or eats them — sometimes he just takes them off to Hell.”

And at that point, most holiday revelers slowly backed away.

So, as you can imagine, it brought me great Christmas joy when the New York Times ran a big story about the revival of Krampuslauf in Bavaria. It’s an annual festival that celebrates the hairy and horned scourge of misbehaving kids, and it sounds like a blast. Forget Oktoberfest, I want to go to Krampuslauf!

There are tons of videos of Krampuslauf events online; this is one of the crazier ones:

Yes, all the best things about Halloween and Christmas rolled into one. This is something we really need around here.

“The Ghost of Christmas Ass”

I sometimes like to share things I like from the ad world, and I found this Christmas spot particularly inspiring. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

I was not previously aware of Poo-Pourri — and this is not their first off kilter video — but you can be certain that I’ll pick it up for the house. I may even bring some to work for those people who insist on shi**ing during the work day.

Ice Ice Baby

It’s perfectly natural to sit at work and complain. Oh, why is my computer so slow, what’s up with this email, are those edits to my work really necessary, why are we doing this?

That’s when you’re lucky there isn’t an old-time Hudson River iceman standing behind you, because surely he’d smack you in the back of the head and tell you to shut the hell up. Those people knew a thing or two about hard work, spending their days sawing away at the river ice and stacking it in warehouses.

There was a time when the shores of the Hudson were crowded with ice harvesting operations; you can see evidence of the ice trade up and down the river — including just off Rt. 9J south of Stuyvesant.

What you’ll find there is the ruins of the R&W Scott Ice Company: the shell of the building that housed the steam engine that powered conveyor belts and an elevator — and you can trace the foundation of a massive six-story structure where the ice was stored. Here are some photos: Continue reading

Get the Lead Out

We’re all laden down with wires and gadgets and i-this and i-that — but even as the electronic gewgaws pile up everywhere, I cling to my pencil.

pencilGlance around at your next meeting and you’ll find that most people are gripping pens. Sure, pens, like pencils, are an analog tool, but pencils are not merely low-tech, but organic. And renewable. How’s that for a couple of buzzwords? Scratching out your notes with a pencil, like using the tip of a burnt stick to draw on the cave wall, is much more primal than a pen.

My current weapon of choice is the esteemed Mirado Black Warrior, an impressive looking pencil. That name, Black Warrior would not be a great thing to call your school’s sports teams, but it’s an awesome name for a pencil.

Curious about the Black Warrior, I found a tremendous review on Pencil Revolution, a blog that’s all about… well, pencils. And let me tell you, this guy can write. A few excerpts:

Of course, the Black Warrior smells heavenly because of its cedar construction, and sharpening a rounded wooden pencil is a breeze with any quality sharpener.

The Black Warrior, with its black finish, banded brass ferrule and rounded shape, stands out among American pencils when on a desk or sticking out of a shirt pocket.

The round shape allows for holding the pencil in different positions, and I imagine that Comrades who have had the corners of a pencil embedded into fingers will appreciate the gentler shape of the Black Warrior. They fall right off the desk, so angle them carefully.

Now, if I could only make a habit of actually using all those notes I scribble with the Black Warrior, then maybe I’d be making some progress.