Tag: Working

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Since Trump’s 2016 election (and perhaps earlier), the assumption here in Chicago is that everyone is liberal and on board to rip Trump to shreds or at the very least, listen indulgently while someone else does it for you. That shredding session might take place in an Uber, the grocery store, while picking up your […]

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A Most Unusual Working Life

 

I graduated from college in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Back in junior high school, a psychiatrist had helped me a great deal, so I decided that I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up. Since you can’t do much with a bachelor’s degree, I applied to graduate schools to get a master’s in counseling psychology. I got accepted to exactly one school, the University of Minnesota, so that’s where I went.

Getting there was way less than half the fun (driving an old car that broke down on the way, by myself, knowing no one), but eventually I made it. I found a place to live not far from campus and started my studies. Little did I know that I had chosen the school described as a “Bastion of Behaviorism,” but it sure turned out to be. 

American Emergency Medicine Works

 

This is both a brief story in itself and preface to another tale, “Strategic Logistics Work.” The point of observation: the Valley of the Sun, Maricopa County, the population center of Arizona. The time: summer 2018 and last weekend, March 21-22, 2020.

Foreshadowing: It was a normal summer Saturday afternoon in 2017. Which is to say, it was a dry heat in the Valley of the Sun. I was out for a 2.5-mile brisk walk when I got the urge to sprint. Nevermind that I had not done a wind sprint over a year, I just had the urge. Pulling up at the end of a 200-yard dash, I noticed something was a bit odd. My heart rate was not slowly dropping. I got indoors, sat down, and drank water. No change. In fact, I was getting increasingly light-headed, even with my head down, so I had someone dial 911.

The fellows in the ambulance were quickly on the scene. I had had a complete cardio workup the summer before, and had been pronounced fit as a fiddle. Now the lead paramedic was coaching me through something called a vagal maneuver.

More Fevered Calculations: Working the Coronavirus Numbers

 

In all the hype and happy talk around the latest coronavirus to cross over to humans, keep an eye on this number in America: 498,000. That is the number of people this novel coronavirus will have to infect to cause as many deaths as the annual, seasonal flu. I tried to make sense of the numbers around notorious coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, in a post about a week ago now.

I now note that the presidential proclamation, suspending travel from certain countries, referred to COVID-19 as “SARS-CoV-2.” The CDC page explains the reason for the changing names. This prompted another look at the numbers, with this math-challenged scribbler doing a bit of stubby pencil, back-of-the-envelope figuring. Check my math as I work through the numbers; hopefully it is better than Ma and Pa Kettle’s.

SARS last time had an 9-10% mortality rate. It was nothing like influenza, including the worse known version in 1918-19, because the number of people who actually contracted SARS was so much lower than the number of people who get the flu globally every year. Think about it: if the flu regularly kills 1 in 1000 infected, and SARS killed 1 in 10, then you can see that SARS would have to infect 1/100 the number of flu victims to reach the same death count.

You’ll Have Time to Rest When You’re Dead

 

Thomas Carlyle, the conservative Victorian proselytizer for the idea that hard work is man’s highest virtue, would strongly disapprove of my current idle and unproductive life.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to be as busy as Joe Biden’s hands in a roomful of women. As a kid, I shined shoes in bars, delivered both of LA’s newspapers on a bike, and set pins in a bowling alley. As an adult, I installed telephones for Ma Bell, spiked my way up telephone poles for the Army, studied hard enough to get a Ph.D., and taught English full-time in two universities for thirty years.

Welcome to the Wacky World of OSHA: Walking-Working Surfaces

 

The most commonly cited OSHA standard is 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D, Walking-Working Surfaces.  It’s not surprising: the biggest causes of death in construction are falls and being struck by an object, both of which the standard tries to prevent.

Like much of the OSHA regulations, it tends to spell out the common sense approach.  Railing, scaffolds, ladders, etc need to be well put together and guard against objects rolling off and smacking someone.  People high up need harnesses and safety lines so they are not one slip away from a splat, and the harnesses need to be inspected just like a parachute.  Lots of explicit listing of just how big a railing needs to be and what the spacing needs to be, etc.  Like nearly every standard, it begins with a set of definitions for all of the words / concepts specific to the standard.  For example:

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In game design, “grinding” is a term for performing a repetitive action in pursuit of a long-term reward. Some people use the term without reference to fun. But “grind” is more commonly employed by players to identify a redundancy that becomes boring or burdensome, though it is tolerated because the goal is sufficiently enticing.  Some […]

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All right folks, let’s get workin’. There are many open days left on this month’s theme “Working.” You really don’t want me to break out the Charmin Bears, outhouses, and disco music! All you need do is write a short post to start the conversation. Perhaps you could ask a question or two to get […]

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“Nice Work if You Can Get It” is a George and Ira Gershwin song composed as part of the sound track for the 1937 song and dance movie A Damsel in Distress. It was first sung by Fred Astaire with backing vocals by The Stafford Sisters, led by Jo Stanford, who had a long career […]

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Working Tunes

 

Let’s start off March with some of the soundtrack of our lives, songs about work and working. Here are a few tunes that come to mind for me. Are some of these songs that come to mind for you as well, and do you have other tunes in your mental soundtrack?

Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” is the first song that comes to my mind. It is a working man’s lament at a rigged system, while also boasting of great physical prowess, a man among men.

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When a friend’s uncle from North Dakota first saw the Pacific Ocean, he stood there and gazed at it for a long time. Then, he said “Just a-workin’ all the time!” – @rushbabe49 With record employment and wage growth, on the one hand, and all manner of hijinks and skulduggery on the other hand, the […]

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I was too busy.  I just arrived home after working a twelve-hour day.  Tomorrow is the last day of our fiscal year, and I had a lot of work to catch up on.  I got dozens of line items released.  I trained a planner to take over part of my “old” job.  I pulled a […]

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By age 68, many people’s lives are slowing down.  At that age, most of us have had a full working life, raised and sent on their way their beloved children, and are ready to leave the work force and retire.  My generation, the “baby boomers” was the first cohort whose women found before them the […]

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L’affair Weinstein helped me resolve to let go of a long-time employee who was good at their job, but a bully. This person had a long history of second chances with my predecessor (I am still pretty new) who I guess kept hoping against hope they would change. It didn’t seem likely that would happen. […]

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Tomorrow, a lot my former colleagues in the National Capital Region will have the day off; possibly much of the week off. I’ll be at work since this part of “Flyover Country” was not affected by the Big Blizz. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Since leaving the NCR, I’ve discovered that the office […]

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[Scene: The Meyer Household, morning. TOM is at his desk, reading through the member feed of the website that he works for mornings. Preparing for the final sip of his coffee, he swirls his mug when he is interrupted by simultaneous ringing and vibrating noises coming from multiple mobile devices. Figuring out which of this is his phone, […]

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