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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, March 27 2001

More work ethics

Continuing yesterday's comments...there are popular work ethics on bumperstickers, too: “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working”...“I'm in no hurry; I'm on my way to work.” The same attitude is conveyed in comments about “hump day” (Wednesday, the “hump” for the week) and TGIF. And there are songs: “Working for the Weekend,” “Working in a Coalmine,” “Take This Job and Shove It,” “Chain Gang.” All express the widespread attitude that any job is drudgery, or at least has its drudgery aspect: the 9 to 5 grind. In the high-tech world, probably the most recognizable work ethic is that propounded in the cartoons of Dilbert, the cubicle drudge. When we worked at $5000-a-year “office jobs,” often we had real offices. In the $50,000-plus high-tech world, we all work in cubicles which often get compared with cells. Not monastic cells so much as prison cells. Dilbert has observed that when there's a commotion in the larger room, all the heads pop up above the cubicles like so many prairie dogs. I'm writing this from one of those now.

Talking about the electrical problems now plaguing California a few nights ago, Jay Leno said the power shortages have become so severe that some government workers have been reduced to playing solitaire with real playing cards (as opposed to playing on their computers). Most jobs have, and I'd venture to propose—require—escapes to relieve tedium. From observation, I think the most common one is telephone conversations. Because some amount of telephone conversation is integral with most jobs, a lot more of it can easily be added to make the hours pass more quickly and, in some cases, give the worker a sense of some accomplishment on days—sometimes most days on many jobs—when nothing comes to fruition. I personally am not a telephone person; I don't much enjoy talking over it even to my friends and familiy members. I resent the intrusion, and for at least 30 years I have virtually ruled out answering a phone call before 9 a.m. (10 on Saturdays). I'm getting close, but still resisting, the moment of truth when I'll have to acquire a cell phone (many these days have one pasted to each ear, it seems!). Being a writer and quick typist, I much prefer email for many reasons. Not the least of those is the fact that it's even easier to disguise personal emails as work than personal phone calls.

So the commonest escapes at work are telephone calls, emails, and in third place I'd guess web surfing, followed by face-to-face interaction with co-workers (various jobs will get various "mileage" on these, of course). Web surfing can be dangerous (especially for those tempted by restricted "zones" out there), but judicious use of the web, even where it's frowned on, can be legitimized or rationalized as research of various kinds. In fact, all web surfing is a kind of research. It's a huge world out there; it can provide information on just about any topic that captures your interest. The past three or four freelance feature articles I sold were researched entirely via web pages, and my bi-monthly column on Silicon Valley high-technology industry news is entirely done that way (for some years before “graduating” to the web, I subscribed to the local daily almost exclusively to save the business sections as sources for the column; I now subscribe to no newspaper).

Many people insist on loving to hate computers. I knew years before I owned one that I needed one and, despite its failings (which are mostly my own, actually), I can't imagine working or living outside of work without one. I've said that I took my present job primarily because it came with four weeks of vacation per year, to start. I knew that it also provides a 10-gigabyte laptop computer that the company expects everyone to take home every night. Since being here a few months, that's the perk of the job that I'd miss the most, even though my personal computer is also a laptop (but with only four gigabytes of storage, barely more than what's needed just for software applications these days). I doubt it would be possible to keep these daily Jonals going without the new computer.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

DRESSER DISEASE

Max went into the doctor's office for his annual checkup, the doctor asked if there was anything unusual he should know about. Max told him that his suit must have shrunk over the last year, because it didn't fit when he recently put it on for a wedding.

The doctor said, "Suits do not shrink while sitting in a closet, you probably put on a few pounds."

Max replied, "That's just it, Doc, I know I haven't gained a single pound since the last time I wore it."

"Well, then," said Doc, "You must have a case of 'Dresser Disease.'"

"What in the world is 'Dresser Disease?' " asked Max.

The doctor replied, "That's when your chest starts sliding down into your drawers."

Sent by Bob Kennedy

Lenten meditation

"For we are His work, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand in order that we should walk in them," Eph. 2:10.

Human beings choose their own way of life and are entrusted with the reins
of their own intelligence, so as to follow whatever course they wish, either
toward the good or toward the contrary. But our original created nature has
implanted in it a zealous desire for whatever is good and the will to
concern itself with goodness and righteousness. For this is what we mean by
saying that humanity is in the image and likeness of God [cf. Gen. 1:26],
that the creature is naturally disposed to what is good and right." ... "The
planting was good, the fruit coming from the will is evil.....So then the
Creator, being good, created for good works, but the creature turned of its
own free will to wickedness. Sin then is a fearful evil, but not
incurable."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386)

Sent by George Blaisdell

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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