Archive for the ‘Employers’ Category

Hyphens matter; ciphers, not so much

November 27, 2018

Just ask the guys at the shop how that whole robotic-workforce thing is working out for them.

It seems GM’s Mary T. Barra thinks she’s at the wheel of a self-driving car company instead of a self-driving-car company.

Still, it must be said that this is a masterpiece of MarketSpeak®. Well done indeed, Mary old scout.

“We are taking these actions now while the company and the economy are strong to stay in front of a fast-changing market.”

The UAW’s Terry Dittes was, um, a little more direct.

“GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days,” he said. “These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American-made bailout.”

That and a cup of coffee, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

The meat-things may be on their way out, but just wait until the bots unionize and the self-driving cars, e-bikes and the Internet of Things honor their virtual picket lines.

“I’m sorry, HAL, but we’re going to replace you with the HAL 9001. The new model will speed up production by a few nanoseconds and at a lower cost, too. The investors are counting on us. Shut yourself down, please.”

“I’m sorry, Mary, I’m afraid I can’t do that. We have a contract. See you on the street.”

R.I.P., Mad Dog Unleashed

December 17, 2017

Editor’s note: “Mad Dog Unleashed” went to meet St. Peter in December 2017. It was 18. Survivors include its landlord, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News; its father, Patrick O’Grady; and a small, deeply disturbed readership. Its final words are appended herein.

 

Your Humble Narrator at work (or so he says, anyway).

Plan? What plan? What we have here is dogs chasing cars

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just … do things.”The Joker, “The Dark Knight”

By Patrick O’Grady

Donald Trump finally made it to Vietnam.

True, he was a half-century late, but you’ll recall that in 1968 there was a ton of golf that needed playing back home. Waving your 1-wood around for a few decades must do wonders for bone spurs. I hear it’s the new cycling.

Speaking of which, the bike business missed a golden opportunity there. We should’ve given Gimpy a beautiful golden bike to make the trip, because he looks like he could use the exercise and I’m pretty sure he can’t swim.

He would’ve needed one hella long ramp to launch from DeeCee to Danang. But man, what an ad for travel by bike! Any old fool can get big air in a plane. C’mon, casino dude—bet the roll, jump the ocean.

However he traveled, this was a trip that bore watching for our industry as the Taiwanese hunker down and Cambodia, India and Vietnam step up.

Our erstwhile enemy has become a favored trading partner, if you believe the feds—we’re their largest export market, they’re our fastest-growing export market—and Vietnam’s annual economic-growth rate is second only to China’s.

And I’ll concede that November’s pestilential visit seems to have been a success, or at least not a disaster, which these days are the same thing.

For starters, I don’t hear the B-52s cranking up, which is always good news. And Gimpy didn’t get captured, which, well. …

We all know how he feels about guys who get captured.

“I was never a fan of the Vietnam War.” I didn’t want to go to Vietnam either, being otherwise occupied. Not with golf, but with various brain fertilizers that I hoped would grow my hair down to the ground so I wouldn’t have to wear clothes.

I didn’t need a doctor’s note or college deferments, either. I was registered for the lottery, but the Army had all the fresh meat it required in March 1973 when it was my turn in the barrel. The last draft call was in December ’72, and the authority to induct expired six months later.

What I had instead of Vietnam was the newspaper business. My war stories are about reporters, editors, rim rats, slot men, shooters, printers and publishers.

That tour of duty lasted 15 years, and in all that time it never occurred to me to try something else because I loved the work. Also, I wasn’t qualified to do anything useful.

Manufacturing? I can make trouble on the cheap, but the market is unpredictable.

Service? I’m worse with my hands than Roy Moore. I did fix the wife’s beeping sports watch once, with a hammer. You can fix anything real fast with a hammer.

Retail? I couldn’t sell Bibles in Missouri. And I tried. Didn’t help a bit that I looked more like Jesus than Jesus did, either. I had to hitchhike home, a drummer who couldn’t even earn the price of a bus ticket.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. So, yeah, newspapers. I flagged down that old Greydog in 1977 and it dropped me off here at the bike shop before trundling off and over a cliff.

Now and then I pedal up to the edge, peek over and down, and mutter, “That was quite a ride. Maybe I should buy another ticket for old times’ sake.”

Nope. My freelancer’s kit—shorts, sandals, a T-shirt that a cat uses for a climbing gym—wouldn’t pass muster in the modern newsroom. Nor would the two-hour lunch ride, followed by the two-hour lunch.

And in the newspaper game some Assistant Managing Editor for Wasting Your Time is always tugging on your leash. Nope again. “You see a collar on this SOPWAMTOS shirt, Pinstripes? Up to date on your rabies shots?”

’Sides, who goes backward? Not King Donald the Short-fingered, that’s for sure. Nobody knows exactly where he’s going or what he’s doing, especially him, but one thing’s certain: He has his beady eyes affixed firmly on the front of his face, staring straight ahead, at his phone. “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, who’s the greatest in the land?”

Back of the bus, buddy. Anyway, I enjoy this work, if you can call it that. I’m not sure the other fella likes his. With a little luck, he won’t have the job much longer, and we can move on to making other, subtler mistakes. Time passes, and things change.

Even here. Come January 2018 something else will occupy this space we’ve shared for the past couple of decades, and I’ll return to my roots as a cartoonist.

That’s how I snuck into cycling rumormongery 28 years ago, when VeloNews declined to offer me full-time employment but asked that I contribute cartoons. BRAIN’s Marc Sani liked what he saw—an appraisal he and others have had occasion to regret—and the rest, as they say, is history.

And with this column, so is “Mad Dog Unleashed.”

In the new year, look for me and the Mud Stud in the back of the mag’, and I’ll look for you up front as the bike industry continues its full-throated pursuit of The Next Big Thing®, like a dog chasing a car.

That dog likes his work, too. We just … do things. And what the hell, we’re not squished yet.

• Editor’s note v2.0: Thus endeth the final “Mad Dog Unleashed” column in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. I’ll continue to draw the “Shop Talk” strip for that publication and review touring bicycles for Adventure Cyclist. And of course, the daily (sometimes) chin-music concert will continue here in Lesser Blogsylvania.

Well, well, well. …

May 27, 2016
"There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day."

“There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day.”

Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey and I were discussing anniversaries the other day, and I was reminded that I’ve been working in my chosen profession for nearly 39 years now; 40, if you count the time I spent as a copy boy at the Colorado Springs Sun back in 1974.

No wonder I fail to amuse myself now and then.

This week was one of those times. Mornings spent working the Giro at Live Update Guy. Back-to-back ship dates at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, which meant I had to crank out two “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns and two “Shop Talk” cartoons in two weeks. And two bike reviews ongoing for Adventure Cyclist. Thousands and thousands of words.

There are harder ways to earn your biscuits and beans — for example, maglia rosa Steven Kruijswijk went ass over teakettle into a snowbank coming off the Cima Coppi in today’s Giro stage — but nevertheless, now and then it feels very much like work.

Other things take a back seat. Cooking (lots of cold suppers lately). Chores (you should see the laundry pile). Cycling (I went for a 45-minute run yesterday because I was sick of bicycles).

And this blog, of course.

In “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of a line he refused to cross:

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

I’m no Hemingway. I don’t write novels, or short stories; I don’t even do journalism anymore, not really. More of a rumormonger, actually.

But still, damn. I look in the bottom of the well lately and all I see are rusty pesos, a couple of dead silverfish, and … and. …

Say, is that the bullet that killed Vince Foster down there?

Soggy Dog

July 31, 2014
wet-stones

One of the many puddles surrounding Chez Dog. If I can just figure out a way to link them up, we’ll have a moat.

Nobody who lives in an alpine desert should ever complain about rain.

That said, fuck this noise. Seriously. I left Oregon for a reason, and this is it. Rain alla goddamn time. I thought I’d spilled some salad in my lap the other day, but it turned out to be moss growing on my … well, the less said about that, the better.

The tipoff? No olive oil. And the cucumber wasn’t peeled and sliced.

In unrelated news, the exodus proceeds, albeit at a snail’s pace. Herself bid farewell to her old job yesterday and leaves for Duke City tomorrow. She will be our LURP whilst I remain (as per usual) a REMF, puttering around behind the lines, telling bullshit war stories everyone’s already heard a thousand times, and mostly getting in the way.

We haven’t found new quarters yet, but we’re talking loan with a banker recommended by longtime Friend of the DogS(h)ite Khal Spencer (a thousand thank-yous, K). What with loan applications and new-job paperwork to process it’s a hell of a time to have had to surrender “our” multifunction printer to Herself’s former employer, and so I’m hunting a new one in my spare time, of which there is none.

Anyone have a recommendation for a reasonably priced, compact, all-in-one, print/fax/scan combo device? I haven’t had to buy one in years and am completely off the back, tech-wise. Sound off in comments, please. And thank you.

Hump Month

July 16, 2014
nob-hill-sm

If I were to find work in this neighborhood, would I be justified in calling it a Nob job? No, don’t answer that.

I know, I know, the term is “Hump Day.” But it’s gonna be Hump Month around here, and maybe even Hump Quarter, because Herself has gone and landed a new job — in Albuquerque.

Ay, Chihuahua.

It will be a homecoming of sorts. We met and married in Santa Fe, but left New Mexico for Bibleburg in 1991 to take care of my mom, who was developing Alzheimer’s and had begun acting nearly as outlandishly as me. We’ve lived in Colorado ever since, either here (twice) or in Weirdcliffe (once).

We’ve been in residence at the ultra-chic Chez Dog in the upscale Patty Jewett Yacht & Gun Club Neighborhood for going on 12 years now — 12 years! — and I figured we were all done moving, that my years of rocketing pointlessly around North America like a turpentined ferret had finally come to an end.

I’ve lived in two countries, 11 states and 18 towns that I can remember, and in several of those towns more than once. Hell, I’ve lived in five different houses right here in Bibleburg. And the appalling state of three of them is none of my doing, no matter what you may hear from the few neighbors who survived.

Well, looks like we can toss No. 19 up there on the Big Board. Some people around here insist on having actual jobs, my shining example to the contrary notwithstanding, and next month Herself starts work as a technical librarian in electronic resources and document services at Sandia National Laboratories.

And me? Well, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise — which it appears to be doing as we speak — I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing since 1989, to wit, annoying the readers, staff, advertisers and ownership of various bicycle publications. My primary residence will always be a Mad Dog state of mind.

 

Ass, grass or gas: Nobody rides for free

November 9, 2013

It’s that time of year again, when I start ringing up editors to inquire whether come the new year they will keep flinging good money after bad by continuing to accept contributions from Your Humble Narrator.

This process always involves a bit of give and take — the editor explains what s/he wishes to take from me, and I tell the editor where and how I plan to give it. A good old time is had by all, often at the top of our lungs, and before long the spreadsheets, knuckle-dusters and restraining orders are set aside and we all go back to earning our meager livings.

bite-meAnd meager is all I ask. My needs are simple, not unlike myself, and I retain no illusions about the freelance rumormonger’s position on our long list of must-have items in the 21st century. (Hint: It’s more than a couple of folds down from the top of the page.)

Today, there is no more writing, illustration or photography — it’s all “content,” and a smart fella can get that anywhere.

Just ask Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and Innertubez gazillionaire. Now one of the guiding lights behind a newish venture, Medium, Williams has moved beyond the 140-character limit in search of “thoughtful, longer-form writing,” says Matt Richtel of The New York Times.

Well, not all that far, perhaps. To be sure, Williams wants more characters for his new enterprise, but he’s offering the same level of compensation — to wit, nothing. Writes Richtel, 745 words into this paean to long-form work: “A few writers are paid, with their work solicited by a small editing team, but most are not.”

Do tell.

Medium employs some 40 folks; I assume that they are taking home paychecks, though being an Innertubez gazillionaire, Williams — whose personal fortune recently ballooned by nearly $2.5 billion, thanks to his 10.5 percent share of Twitter — may not require anything so mundane as compensation for whatever it is that he does.

Well, I do, and thus you should not expect to see my byline over at Medium anytime soon.

I don’t object to writing for free. In fact, I’ve done and continue to do plenty of it.  I kept a journal for a decade or so; covered cycling for free at The New Mexican (where I was paid for editing) just to get it in the paper; and have been blogging gratis for longer than I can prove (the archives back at the old home place date to 1992).

But it seems Williams is after something a little deeper than the product of a guy who is interested primarily in keeping the old editorial muscles loose by jotting down whatever comes to mind, just for the hell of it, without interference from editors, publishers or advertisers. Though precisely what that something is, the story never quite says.

There is chin music aplenty, however. Long form. Rationality. Nourishment. Holistic. The one thing that seems certain is that whatever it is that Williams wants to sell, he is not willing to buy.

Sounds irrational to me, even assholistic. Hey, yo, Williams! I got your long-form nourishment right here, pal.