Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Changing Banks

I'm going to miss Bank of America. I am moving and need to find a new bank. Sadly, Bank of America has ATMs everywhere in the USA but lacks full banking service centers in all spots. I will miss banking with a behemotht hat gets my deposits and checks wrong at times, and does not really do much to make up for poor service.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Observation at work

One thing I wanted to comment on was the lack of patience in people in general, but especially in my young coworkers. I am under 30 as well, but a difference in my background is that I previously worked at a company that did not promote people with any regularity. Promotions depended on berating your manager, if you had a pushover manager, or waiting around for your time in job to become long enough that it looked silly keeping you down. Promotions are handled at my current employer much more liberally, and it has created an attitude of entitlement amongst employees. Some of it is caused by the individuals themselves, and some of it comes from handling everyone.

There are a couple of problems with rapid promotions:
1. Creates a glass ceiling of sorts on people who get pumped up much faster than they should. There will be requirements for the next promotion that cannot be altered, which will force an employee to stay at that job title for a long time without a promotion.
2. Frustration of new and future employees who see the rapid progression and will expect the same for them. If it does not happen, they get angry and might leave.
3. Department expenses. Rapidly promoting employees, even if you can keep them near the bottom of their new pay scale, increases your unit costs significantly. What can happen is that head counts will not be increased, forcing employees to handle more and more work. Oddly enough, the total output of the unit must match expected pay, forcing rapidly promoted employees to now really produce.
4. For the promoted employees themselves, it creates golden handcuffs. It can become incredibly hard for an employee to find an adequate income replacement elsewhere.
5. What do you do about people who have been appropriately placed at the levelt hey are in? New entrants to that job title who are no doubt inferior can create tension.
6. What if you narrow the scope of benefits, pay and perks between top level employees and others? How do your top employees handle having greener folks only one level under them, with nowhere for the top employees to go?

Part of the problem comes from managers who do not do an effective job of managing expectations of newer employees. Managers also have to give "not positive" (workspeak for negative) feedback to these employees. Managers also have to do a good job of keeping things secret. When employees start to learn what other employees make for salary, any problems other employees have, or other perks they get, it might create tension between the different employees. It's one of the difficult parts to managing, but it is why management is paid the big bucks.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all the Christians out there. I do have one question: is the Easter Bunny tradition derived from the idea that the hare or rabbit was the first animal to be at the tomb when Jesus was resurrected? I swear I heard that as a child, and I know with so much recent focus on pagan traditions and crap, that the Easter Bunny Christian idea has kind of been shuffled to the back.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Modern Day Minstrel Shows

Amongst my friends and family, I have discussed my sorrow for the typecasting of entire groups of people in the media. People that I feel is portrayed in a horrible fashion are African-Americans. Black Americans have been through way too many horrible things in the history of their people to be portrayed in the manner that they commonly are in mainstream media. One show that does nothing to help the modern, black American image is I love New York. I Love New York (ILNY) is a modern day minstrel show.

Minstrels shows were a horrible form of entertainment in the 19th century. They portrayed black Americans in broad stereotypes. These stereotypes were negative and demeaning. A sad truth to their impact is that the majority of blacks in America prior to the 20th century lived in the South. The only contact Northerners had with blacks were through slaves they held, freedmen, and brief encounters down South or by going to a minstrel show. This is kind of like white kids from Vermont and Maine only knowing black culture through MTV, rap music, and The Chappelle Show. If you read more of the link above about minstrel shows, you might start to recognize the same archetypal characters in some modern shows and movies.

ILNY is a modern day minstrel show because it portrays black Americans in stereotypical forms that white Americans can be entertained by: the sassy, bitchy woman, the vampy hypersexual voluptuous temptress, the thug in baggy clothes, the sexual chocolate brother, etc. "hahaha she's so crazy" or "oh no, they are going to fight" could eb said in just about every show. These reality tv characters participate in events geared towards charming the young, black woman with their ability to earn the big bucks, play basketball and box. Alcohol is provided liberally, and fights, arguments and all sorts of drama are aired on tv. As I watched the show, I did laugh at different moments, but felt sad that this is a nationally televised show featuring a predominantly black cast.
If you look deeper at television shows, movies and even commercials, you will see a pattern of the image of an African American male. Not even in a 30 second commercial can a black male be portrayed unless he is A) wearing a baseball hat crooked B) rolling with some r&b blasting C) speaking in an ad man's version of hip hop or D) ogling some woman. It just is so easy to see through, and you have to wonder who the directors or producers are trying to speak to with these depictions. Black women are always portrayed in the sister sassy, old auntie nurturer, or seductress mold. Pay close attention to the way that a black seductress is portrayed on tv. A black woman is rarely portrayed in a sexual manner unless her "curves" are on display. A show that was horrible at this was Ally McBeal (which I rarely ever watched). Whenever the black woman was trying to make a move on a man, they put her in something low cut and boosted her twins. Every other scene, she was dressed for church. I'm just tired of this stereotypical BS, and I hope the rest of the nation is as well.
Don't even get me started on every Hispanic woman on tv being a housekeeper or a salsa dancer with jet black hair, a slight Spanish accent, and dark skin. So stupid.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Workout Playlists

A key component to enjoying your time at the gym when you do not have a training partner is to have enjoyable tunes; not just good eye candy. When home from college on breaks at the local gym, I hated the mix of songs they played. They oscillated between two stations: a family friendly softer station and a top 40 station. Being the prime time for crappy boy bands and teeny-bop pop songs, I heard a ton of Britney Spears and NSync. It was horrible. At college the music was better as the students working the gyms brought in CDs full of great mixes. One of the best was the guy who brought in a CD full of Gun n Roses tunes. One of the weirdest was the CD of the B-52s greatest hits. Not really workout music. No.

Out of college, I joined a gym that played digital, streamed songs that sounded like they were the soundtrack for gay German porno flicks. It made the grunting and enthusiasm between guys even funnier to witness. I finally bought a CD player with a belt to hold it in place. It was awesoem to bring tunes and finally not want to puke. One problem was the problem of the CD skipping as I stood up or was perpendicular to the floor. In my current gym setting, I have an mp3 player. My in-laws bought my wife and I matching mp3 players. Whatever set of music I want to listen to is at my fingertips. With an armband and an incredibly lightweight structure, my mp3 player is almost forgettable as I do reps.

As far as stacking that player with tunes, I rotate music but do have a general requirement for my tunes. They have to be fast paced. No ballads, no really long built up songs, no pussin' out. I will give you a list for my favorite stretch of tunes on my 14 song rotation....

DMX - What's my name
Electric Six - Gay bar
Eminem - Lose Yourself
Fall Out Boy - Sugar we're going down
Fort minor - Remember the Name
Fuel - In my hands
Karate Kid song - You're the best
Lo fidelity all stars - Battleflag

When those songs are playing, it's easier to focus on working out. Enjoy your gym.