Mike’s Prattle


Archive for January, 2009

Furloughs for the State of California

Posted by Mike on January 29, 2009

The final ruling came down today, giving the Governor the authority to issue a two day furlough for state employees, and that includes me. It’s bizarre for me in particular as I’m on what’s called a 9/8/80 schedule, I work 9 hour days and get every other Friday off. And it just so happens that the first day of the pay period (tomorrow) is my Friday off. So I’m in the position of not knowing whether I’m coming into work tomorrow. It’s funny how this would be my first thought, rather than a 10% pay cut. And I have a friend in town and was planning on seeing the nephews tomorrow.

I read a great deal of news every day, so since the economy went south I read about 4 or 5 companies a day or more slashing 1000s of jobs.  I have a brother who just started state service (special fund fortunately) and several coemployees that are all lower (and some much lower) in seniority than I am. So I can’t cavalierly get angry at these furloughs in terms of the personal hit, after all the whole country is badly off and it was just my turn so to speak. Right now I’m actually looking at buying a new HDTV on the backs of two years of tax refunds, so I can’t say at all that I’m badly off nor that I won’t survive 17 months with a 10% wage cut. I’d much rather my brother can support his family furloughed than he lose his job altogether, and feel the same way about my coworkers. After all I’m in that lucky and rare position of liking everyone I work with, we all get along and noone is a slacker.

However, the numbers don’t really add up. We work across from the State Capitol, which is teeming with restaurants. Not a day goes by that the nearby places aren’t totally slammed by noon and two Fridays off will significantly hurt the downtown economy here. Word has it that the judge who OK’d the furloughs is a Schwarzenegger appointee, so no surprise there. And there’s the facts that our union, in the last ten years has only managed to get us the most meager of cost of living increases, all of which were wiped out with this court order.

Also, the original executive order for furloughs also called for layoffs, so Schwarznegger’s threat yesterday that layoffs would be coming if the union doesn’t accept furloughs strikes me as typically disingenuous. And we’re talking 20% as a possibility here, so even with furloughs jobs will be in jeopardy. On the other hand, despite that I’m in no way a Republican or Schwarnegger supporter (or previous voter), it also seems over the top to blame it entirely on his mismanagement, despite the robotic chorus from the Republican congress whose no new taxes creed speaks of never ending idealogy. But from my perspective the poor state of the California economy certainly predates the recent economic crash, balancing the budget has been a struggle nearly every year (or two years), with a threat to state workers at the tail end of every crisis.

Overall, I’m thankful I’ve still got a job. And hope that I’m still off tomorrow at the very least and that they find a way to adjust 9/8/80 schedules for the furlough. It might be nice working 8 hour days again. Ya know the sorts of thoughts that go through your head when trying to keep some optimism on a sinking ship…


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A bunch of SF/F books Guardian says you should read

Posted by Mike on January 27, 2009

Guardian had a list of 1000 books you should read, and these were the Science Fiction and Fantasy selections. I was curious as to where I stood, so I bolded what I read and italicized what I own and still need to read. And it’s kind of scary since I’ve barely read anything in the last year, with other things taking up my attention (particularly Olfactory Rescue Service, Nephies and Oblivion). After the break: Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Mike on January 12, 2009

Crazy weekend. Turned in my essay for this book, an illustrated collection of essays on Krautrock from a somewhat cosmic perspective. I did an essay called Amon Duuality, bridging the Beatles, Theosophy and the Amon Duul commune. Should be quite neat, there’s some interesting names writing essays in the book. Waiting on publisher comments and the like…

Got hooked on the FX show Damages, some of the best TV I’ve seen in a while, perhaps better than any show I was staying current with last year. Rose Byrne plays a young lawyer signing up with a firm who’s in the middle of tackling a major case against a powerful senator. Framed from the present where Byrne’s character emerges shellshocked and drenched in blood and is taken into custody, the 13 episodes are masterfully plotted with a host of great actors (Glenn Close, Ted Danson, Zeljko Ivanek, etc). Looks like Season 1 is on line. I’ve learned my lesson from The Shield not to watch anything this intense on a worknight, so I’m happy to hear Season 2, which started last Wednesday, will be going up on line as well. Awesome, addictive TV.

24 just started as well in what I’m calling “The 24 Case for Torture.” For this show, which ranges from epic fun to completely idiotic, sometimes in one episode, I always have to brush logic to the side and “play pretend,” guess who the traitors are and stuff, since it’s generally stupid as hell and could be totally offensive I sat down to think about it. But when Sutherland gets scrunchy face it’s hard not to want to urge him to twist that arm a little harder. Or use that ballpoint pen. Anyway TV is slowly returning, including the last run of Battlestar Galactica this weekend. And the return of Friday Night Lights to NBC for those of us without direct TV. And everyone’s favorite polygamist drama, Big Love Sunday.

And my oldest nephew is now 7. Yike. In the cool developments they didn’t have when I was a kid category (along with 30,000 toys) are bowling gutter fences. These turned my youngest nephew into a near master bowler on Sunday. But I can rest confident that our arcades were a LOT cooler than theirs. All that’s left is driving games and variations on ticket-spewing foozball. On the other hand Atari 2600’s did not have Nerf guns you could shoot at TVs. Alas.

All cool, until I turned up to find my license plate stolen. Some serious Murphy’s law in effect lately…

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Freddie Hubbard RIP

Posted by Mike on January 5, 2009

This one just crushed me 😦

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Mike’s Vacation Report

Posted by Mike on January 5, 2009

Had a very lazy last couple of weeks, besides family stuff, which included watching my nephews for the first time on my own. Much nerdery after the break: Read the rest of this entry »

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