Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What Grinds My Gears - 2016 Edition

Someone on Facebook today posted this gem:

Minimum wage= minimum skill/qualification....why are we fighting to raise something that shouldn't be a reward?

I took a deep breath, typed a quick response, and walked away from the computer. But it stuck in my head, swirling around and refusing to leave. Basically a living wage is 15/hour right now. Anyone that makes less than that, in the poster's mind, did not have a skill set to use.

To quote: "America has lost ground on the intent declared by Congress when the Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938, that workers will receive wages sufficient to maintain “the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being.” The article is Here.

Here's the thing folks - Minimum wage DOES NOT equal minimum skill/qualification.

What it equals is a different set of skills and qualifications. I'll take the one everyone seems fixated on:

The fast food worker. Oh my. First off, if you've never worked it, you should try it at least once. Because I have. Let me tell you something - my IT job now is a lot less stressful. What qualifications do you need to flip burgers?

Well - first off, the amount of training at some of these places are amazingly rough. You need to memorize a lot of different recipes, ingredients, and learn every single position. Not only that, but at all times you need to keep an eye on several different things at once, to make sure everything is working smoothly in your area, food prep and cleanup. And this is the minimum wage person. Sure, cashiering may be easy, but what else does that cashier do - clean machines, check machines, carry and lift heavy boxes usually to the front and back, clean the restaurant, back up anyone and everyone if the dining area is NOT busy, if it is, try to keep up with taking orders, and keeping the dining area clean at the same time, especially dealing with cleaning up messes from children, people yelling at you because their orders are taking 5 minutes instead of 2, even though three people called out that night, and you've been shorthanded on a Friday for hours. Oh and let's not forget the times where because people call out, no breaks, and no break in customers. The fast food worker is frequently on their feet 8+ hours a shift, doing multiple things, and working in sometimes dangerous conditions (gee, what tends to be open in bad weather? Fast food places, and if you don't show up, you get fired.) Also, for that, you need major people skills. Something a lot of people don't have anymore.

Waitressing: This one really gets me when people bitch that waiters/waitresses have minimum skill. Seriously? People skills, again. These are the people that get yelled at if the order is wrong, frequently not left tips because, "If they want more money, they should work a better job", and yet, have to carry heavy trays of food/drinks to tables without spilling any, and smile through it all. Manual dexterity is a thing here. Frequently again, on feet for 8+ hour shifts, and frequently busy almost all the time. Not only that, most servers get paid about 3 bucks an hour and HOPE that tips make it to minimum wage for that day. Not easy jobs.

Now, multiply that by lines out the doors on some places when there's a convention in town. All weekend. And no stopping because there's no time to stop and rest.

Retail - Some retail is easier than others. I've worked both. I loved working at Waldenbooks. If it had paid more (15 an hour, let's say), I would have happily stayed there all my life (until the company went under.) But for me? Best job ever - I got to sell my love of books to people. There was no downside, even in bad weather, and at the holidays. I loved going to work. I can't say that all the time about my full time job.

Admin assistants - If you think this is a minimum skill position, you are seriously deluding yourself.

All four of the above jobs are jobs I have done. All four of those jobs require a lot more than people realize.

Here's another one: Call center workers: These guys get timed. They have to solve every issue, do it politely, usually when someone is screaming at them. And not get upset.

Janitorial positions - How many of you would actually do that job? Yeah, didn't think so. I know I wouldn't want to clean up after most of you.

Now, let's get to the other, more surprising ones on this list:

  • EMT, Nursing and/or Teacher's Aides.
  •  Child Care Provider.
  •  Auto Technicians (the guy that does your oil? More than likely, minimum wage). 
  • Gaming dealers.
  •  Some income tax workers. 
  • Military (non-officers)
  • Security Guards/Police
These are minimum skill jobs? What planet are you from?

Temporary workers - Another one that if you don't work those jobs, you really can't speak up. One of the temp jobs I worked when I was between contracts was art editing at a very large, very famous shoe company. The attention to detail for THAT job? Was ridiculous, as was the stress and deadlines.  If a single mistake made it past your eyes, didn't matter if you had been working 2 or 12 hours that day, you were gone.  

Another one was heavy lifting almost every day, and making sure an inventory of items were all where they should be and investigating anything missing.

These positions all pay minimum starting out. And Gods help you if there's a wage freeze in your area.

Here's the thing. I once worked a job that paid *very well* for me to sit on my ass most of the day and wait to run a document over to another building to get signed. Rinse, repeat. I had a living wage, I had benefits, I had health insurance. THAT was a minimum skill job, yet because it was white collar, I got paid very well to do it. (Most boring job ever, by the way). What made me better than anyone I've listed above? Nothing. I got lucky to get that job at a good company on a contract.

Those of you that think minimum wage is minimum skill. Have you ever spoken to some fast food workers? One of the saddest stories I heard from one lady is that she had worked 18 years at a company. 18 years, 2 away from retiring. The economy collapsed. She was downsized, and lost her company pension because she didn't make 20. No one would hire a 55 year old admin assistant. She was working at a McDonald's. because it's ALL she could find. It wasn't for lack of trying. It wasn't because she had no skills. It was because she didn't want to go on any type of assistance, and wanted to work. She still gets food stamps to help make ends meet, because the 40+ hours a week she'd work would only ever pay rent and a bills to keep the lights on.

There is proof that upping the minimum wage helps communities and cities that have implemented it.

Here's an article from 2014:


Here's the quote to read: "Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years."

Minimum wage jobs - those that people say are minimum skill (restaurant workers, really) just use skills most of us don't need to work on all the time: People skills, patience, and an amazing amount of tolerance.

I guess in the end, here are my thoughts on the situation:

The people wanting 15/hour are wanting it for EVERYONE that makes less than that.  You can't support yourself, much less anyone else, on less.   Why is this an issue for anyone?  What is it about those that perform those jobs above that make people so upset about it?

No job is minimum skill. Every job has more than what you just see at the outset. I would much rather have minimum wage be 15/hour (living wage, which is what it was intended to be) and have people paid that wage, than having people working one to two full time jobs, both at minimum wage to make ends meet for whatever reason (and unless you know their story, do not judge them, because assumptions make asses out of you and me) - and/or getting Section 8, food stamps, medicaid, and welfare.

Why are ANY of us judging someone for actually working a job, be it one that you think is beneath you or not? We should be encouraging them, not belittling them and saying they aren't worth the money and time to earn a living. They are working.  They are contributing to society in some fashion.  Why do we punish them for this?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Holy Shit, 2015??

Let's face it, The Bloggess I am not.  I don't always recall this thing exists.  (Speaking of The Bloggess, if you aren't reading her, you should.  There's a handy dandy link on your right.  I want to be her when I grow up.)

I'm preparing to move, and I realized the one thing that happens when you start evaluating what you have is, "Holy crap, how did I gain so much shit?!"

I mean,
Where did all this come from?  I haven't even bought green shirts in 10 years!

I don't have as much crap as in the picture, but damn, is there a lot.  I'm prepping piles for goodwill, and it's getting as big as some of the piles for packing.

Also, moving when you have a cat is always an interesting experience.

One of my cats loves boxes.  And loves being in the same room with me.  

This is what happens when I'm packing.  

Pick up pile of items to put in box. Turn with items to box. Put items down. Pick cat up out of box. Dump cat on floor. Pick items back up. Put items in box. Pick up second pile of items to put in box. Turn with items to box. Put items down. Pick cat up out of box. Dump cat on floor...wash, rinse, repeat.  It becomes a race to see what can get in the box first - the cat, or the things that go into the box.

This is a picture of the culprit: 
Yes, I like boxes. They are all mine.  Now fuck off.

Yes, she is sleeping on a much too small box for her.  But like most cats, if I fits, I sits, and I will make myself fit.  

See, while I am taking a break from packing to move from one apartment to the other, she is resting in a sunspot.  However, the moment I get up...

It's going to be a fight for the boxes again.

At least it's entertaining.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Been a Long Few Months

Or almost a year.

I am horrible about this blogging thing, so early resolution - try to keep up on it.

Lately, it seems the end of 2013 has been just horrible for my friends.  Several friends have lost beloved pets, some have had issues with job or life in general, and others are sick - so sick that they can only be treated for pain.

2013 - you have three weeks left.  Let's try and be a bit nicer, lest you are forgotten quickly and quietly as the new year starts up.

Stop the antics.  You have been warned.

"Either shape up or I shall taunt you a 
second time!"

For me, the past several months have been really good and some bad.

The good and mostly awesome:

I accepted a job in Detroit, and now live in Michigan.  While I still love and miss Indianapolis, I love my job and really enjoy the area.

I have the most amazing friends who have helped me out during rough times

I have money to go and see my family at the holidays this year

Tanwen was having massive anxiety issues and I was trying my best to not give her up because she was peeing on the carpet.  After several months, I found the answer - anti-anxiety collar.  It only lasts two weeks instead of the promised 30 days, but hey, I'll take it.

Several friends had new babies this year.  I live vicariously through them.

I am cooking a lot more than I was last year.  I hope at one point soon to try making bone broth.

The needs-work-soon:

I've fallen off the weight loss bandwagon

The "well, shit.  Life does happen":

Been diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in my spine and discs.  I start PT in January, and am still trying to figure out how to use all of my personal training sessions that I've been missing as we figure out what's going on with my back - without aggravating the back.

And just for everyone who doesn't like to think on it:

Elian Gonzalez turned 20 the other day.

This is about how I felt when my friend mentioned that 
in conversation and someone else said, "Who?"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Best laid plans..

I lied.  It's been over a week since I last posted.

I created a pizza crust that while edible, was about as tasty as some cardboard slathered with kitty litter.  You figure out how it tasted, but I assume my face was somewhat like the one below.
I'm not exactly sure what I just tasted, but I think I might need to 
wash my mouth out.  With bleach.

So, back the drawing board.  No recipes from me today.  I know you are all just crying in despair.

In other, more exciting news, I got my tax return.  When one gets a tax return, is it just me or does one tend to run around like a rabid squirrel on crack.  If you don't know what I mean, go watch a Foamy the Squirrel episode that features Pilz-E.  He's pretty much what I have in mind.

Protip:  Foamy is not for children, not for people who may be offended easily, or have no sense of humor.  Just FYI.

I did go buy a computer, and as soon as I got it home, my cats were all over it.  The box at least.  They couldn't have cared less about what was *in* the box.  Except that they were whining at me to get the computer out of it, so they could play.  

And then the little terror (henceforth named Gozer for reasons that will become clear down the line) decided that he would rather follow Tanwen around and when she sat down, sit down on her.  Because he can.  My oldest cat, Corrigan, was having none of it and perched herself high above the ruckus.  Which is good, because the ensuing mess only contained two types of cat fur, instead of three.

Vacuums hate me.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The more things change...

It's been a year since I've posted on here.  (As an edit, I just realized that this is not really a funny post.  Read the ones from last year for something with a side of snarky humor.  Or what I think passes for it - I can never tell!)

First, I don't even know how one gets followers.  I'm not exceptionally funny, or exciting, or living a life that other people want to read about.  I have friends that have exciting jobs that can come with funny quotes, or have husbands/children they can blog about endlessly.  Me?  Unless you want quips from the Technical Writer world, or pictures of cats (which, well, let's be honest, the internet was made for), there's not much here.

Unless you need something to read to fall asleep with.

I'm still working the same job that I've been doing for over a year.  Though they've changed what my job entitles.  Now it's mostly pushing electronic documents through a system.  This is my life.  (Until I can find a new job that is).

That and surfing the web for cute pictures to toss up on FB or tumblr or whatever.

There have been some changes, however, and this year I'm hoping in between the snark and the commentary, that I can put some things up of interest.

First:  In the past year, I've become gluten-intolerant.  This was discovered when my stomach started giving me the worst feedback ever (to be polite.  The non-PC way of saying this is that I could empty rooms of people with the reactions and might have at least once, but I wasn't about to ask.  Last thing you want to do in that case is raise your hand and say, "My bad...").  I eliminated a few things from my diet to see what might be causing it and lo and behold...gluten.  The interesting part about this - I had a rash that was on my chest area that we could not figure out what was causing it for the longest time.  It had been there for about two years.  Once I stopped eating gluten, it has all but vanished.  So, the current thinking is that my body had been somehow developing a reaction to it, and it started with my skin, moving onto my internal systems.

With that, I hope to post some recipes I've tried that have worked - some of these recipes are ones I found online and made some minor changes with, others are ones I've reworked because while the originals were okay, they were lacking...something.

First up, I hope to get up here in the next week is my sugar cookie recipe.

I have a bread recipe I'm going to try and play with tonight, to see if it works as well.  Here's to hoping.

Secondly, I am being more open about dealing with depression and crippling social/general anxiety issues.  Why?  Because having any type of mental illness is seen as a stigma, and it's wrong that it should be.  It's wrong that people can't get the help they need when they need it because to most people, mental illness is just something "in your head" that you "need to get over".  They do not seem to understand that with a mental issue, the brain does not work the same way.  You can't just "get over it".   Mind you, I will never have the popularity or the readership that the amazing Jenny Lawson (aka TheBloggess, and if you don't read her, you should.  Really --->  link is to the side) does, but any voice helps I think.  Even a tiny one that might be read by someone, somewhere.

(Also, I am a gamer with horrifyingly bad social issues.  Figure out THAT one and get back to me when you have an explanation because I still can't come up with one).

Third, I have cats.  There will be cat posts and cat pictures.  Deal with it.  Or not.  I may post pictures of sloths if I am so inclined.

Fourth, I may go and try speed dating or something.   If I actually get the gumption up to try this (see the above anxiety issues) there may  be stories.  Some of these may be hysterical.  Possibly.  Considering my current requirements for dating is that he has a pulse, a job, and general good hygiene  you'd think I'd have a lot of options.  Not quite that easy when you are too shy to actually TALK TO PEOPLE without thinking you just shoved your foot in your mouth and down the throat.

That might be it.  Anyway, let's see if I can get this to at least one post a week.  We will see.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No, no, I haven't forgotten

My loyal readers (all ...one or two of you!) - life just cut in and told me "Get off your lazy ass and try and get your act together!"

Well, I got off my lazy ass part down.  Getting the act together..maybe not so easy.

There is so much stupidity in the world that I can't even figure out the proper topic to discuss these days.  So, let me hop on the speeding train that is questions for those with children.

Now, I am not a parent.  I have plenty of friends with children.  I know what you are thinking, "That doesn't make you an expert, you twit!"

Well, no, it doesn't.  And to add to this, I never did have the "Carry this egg for 30 days and pretend it's a baby" class in school either.  I'm losing points, aren't I?

I'm going to ask questions here because I'm not in the mindset to be able to answer these, but, here goes:

Why do parents let their children throw food at another table in a restaurant and when the customer at that other table asks them politely to stop their children from doing so, the parents act as if it's all the customer's fault?   I mean, I can see it if the customer was doing something that would scare a small child trapped in a chair, like wearing a mask of a clown or Newt Gingrich, but seriously folks.  It's not that difficult to stop your little spaw---angel from tossing their half-eaten mac-n-cheese into my hair.

The neon-yellow color doesn't look good with my dark locks.  And it's hard to get out.

And on that thread, why do parents sit in restaurants and chat on cellphones while their children run around screaming? (Caveat here, sometimes work does call)  I've run into this more times than I care to count; and it's one of those issues where I'm tempted to buy something loud and obnoxious and give it to the child, so they can play with it and ruin Mommy's gossip time.   Sadly, I can't toss rocks at other patrons.  Otherwise that' be a great game:  Hit the bullseye on the back of the gossiping goose in the corner booth.

No prize, maybe some jailtime depending on how much of a storyteller you are.

Speaking of screaming children - parents, please, answer me why you let your kids run rampant through stores, malls, whatnot and when they run into someone, they don't even say "Sorry", they just glare at you as if you were in the way.  Look, I have two cats that glare at me when I'm walking through my apartment and just happen to get in the way of their crazy-time.  I run to the store/mall/car show to escape those glares because let's face it, kids and cats can both give you the glare-of-I'mPlottingYourDeath(tm).

Example one:  Angry child
Example two: Angry cat  

Now.  Look at those two facial expressions.  Tell me they aren't the exact same.  It's enough that my cats glare at me on a daily basis, I really don't want children plotting my death because I was reaching for some toilet paper while they were racing down the aisles.

And my last peeve - if you take your child into a bathroom or dressing room, teach them to NOT peer underneath the doors.  There's nothing worse than sitting there and conducting business, and having a set of wide eyes looking at you.  Suddenly you hear, "MOMMY, she's NAKED!"

And the angry gasp from the other stall/dressing room makes it feel as if it's my fault.  Look, if you don't want your children to have nightmares, don't let them do this.

It will do so much for both my sanity and the sanity of your little ones.  Because I truly care.

Otherwise, I will start handing wearing clown masks when I go to use the public toilets or dressing rooms in malls.   Now *that* would give them something to yelp about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Belated thoughts on Halloween

When I was a kid, Halloween the anticipation for Halloween was almost as much as the anticipation for Christmas morning.  Dressing up and going out in packs of children around the neighborhood, stalking people who had the poor idea to leave porch lights on, and basically being grumbly when we'd hit the one or two people that gave us an apple or a toothbrush was just so much fun.

Seriously - did you ever hear a pack of children grumble at the same time?  It's like walking towards an ongoing avalanche.  The sound gets louder and louder, and it fills your ears.  Only by backing away or getting in a building can you shut it off.  And we as kids would all know it was coming because you'd hear the really fake-attempt at being happy, "An APPLE!  GEE THANKS MR. JOHNSON!" said in the loudest voice possible, so that kids on the other side of the neighborhood would know that Mr. Johnson was not giving away the coveted candy, he was giving away something *gasp* healthy.

And usually as suddenly as it started, the droves of children would vanish.  It would be as if someone switched all the kids to off.  Inside houses, I assume everyone had the same thing happening - children dumping out their baskets or bags, and going through what they liked versus what they'd try to pawn off on their siblings or pets.

"Peanut butter cups, keep.  Milk duds, give to cat.  Popcorn balls....cat toy.  Snickers, keep.  Chocolate, keep.  Apple, give to guinea pig.  Gum, dump in sister's bag when she's not around, and swipe tiny hersey bars."

Everyone won.  Well, except that sibling that ended up with suddenly double the gum they had when it started.   And my parents when the cat barfed up half eaten milk duds.  And the guinea pig when he couldn't eat the whole apple at once before it went brown....okay, maybe just I won.  And the cat because the popcorn ball *did* make a nice toy.

Here's the thing - we all went around in groups, after dark.  Depending on the age group, there would be a parent or two there with them.  There was never a set time to trick or treat, there was never a set place or date.  It was *always* on the 31st, no matter what day of the week it fell on.  There was no "be done by X" time.  There was no driving to "better" areas to trick or treat.  We just walked around the neighborhood and hit every house we could.

Today, I get depressed when I see people try to switch the date of Halloween to a weekend night.  Or decry Halloween as a holiday for the devil, or use it to attempt to convince us we are all sinners and will all go to hell.  Or set times for trick or treating (it must start exactly at 6 pm and end exactly at 8 pm.  Period.  No exceptions...) or get angry at the guy who sets up his house and scares kids outside in the dark during trick or treat time.

Yes, we live in a world where it's 24-hour media coverage of *everything*.  Sure we had the needles in the apples stories and the poisoned candy stories, but it was just something covered in a few minutes on the news.  I'm convinced that the amount of bad incidents hasn't actually gone up over the years, it's just with the era of everything now and at the touch of a finger, and the love of people for listening to anything *bad* that does happen, it's all we ever hear about. And that leads to us being paranoid that something will happen.

As a kid, I ran around a neighborhood that was on the edge of Baltimore City.  (and not the good edge).  The only bad thing that happened was someone swiped our bikes off our porch when I was about 10.  Someone else's house was broken into when I was much younger, but we would play in the woods, run around to each others' house, and just generally be out and about.  We didn't have the 24 hour news channels telling us every bad thing that was going on.  We had an Atari 2400, a Coleco game and 4 TV channels.  (Plus the new cable).  And I'd frequently walk home in the dark, right next to woods.

I understand the need for safety, but there are times I think that the all-news-all-time reporting on the internet and cable has killed our idea of "this could be fun".

I think when I have kids, I'll still let them run around after dark in the neighborhood, and ride their bikes in the woods.

After I give them mace and a cellphone pre-programmed with 911.  Just in case.