Posts Tagged ‘Work’

July Update

General | Posted by Derek
Jul 11 2011

Let me tell you a little bit about how the summer’s going so far.

This year, I took a position at a summer camp as their business manager. While I have been looking at business management/education as a potential field of interest in my return to college, I’ve so far not taken much in the line of actual business management. Even so, I was offered the position - with little idea of what exactly I’d be doing aside from a basic explanation over the phone during the interview.

We’ve just finished our fourth week of scouts in camp. I now have a far better handle on what I’m doing - the first week, I was in the office nearly every night until 2am trying to make sure I had things right. Not quite so late, now… Generally 10pm or so. Still, it’s generally a 12-14 hour day in the office. I have Wednesday night and most of Saturday off, but my mental state is depleted enough by these points that I can’t concentrate on anything in fine detail.

As such, I haven’t gotten any more writing done. At this point I expect I won’t have anything new until August.

Sorry for the delay, but thanks for sticking around.

MP3 Players & Work

General | Posted by Derek
Oct 29 2009

I and a coworker today were asked to refrain from bringing our ipods with us in the future. The reasons cited were as follows:

  1. The plane that missed Minneapolis, because the pilots said they were using their personal laptops. Clearly, they (ipods) are also a distraction.
  2. A ‘study’ says productivity increased 20-40% without them on the job.


A lot of the time, I work around loud machinery. Bobcat skidsteer, other medium-duty machines with loud engines, a gas-powered woodsplitting wheel with a mediocre muffler. Splitting wood, especially, is repetitive and generally mindless. I try to wear hearing protection for all of these, and underneath my -30dB protection headphones when I’m splitting I can don my earbuds and listen to NPR podcasts.

There’s the school of thought that says you shouldn’t have the extra mental distraction because it removes your focus from what’s going on around you. I’ll buy that - I don’t have the iPod going when I’m operating the bobcat or the log grapple. I need all my attention on everything going on around me, especially swinging several thousand pounds of wood around in a shot.

That said, how does productivity suffer when you’re doing a mindless, repetitive task? Pick up block, insert below spinning wedge, create two smaller blocks. Repeat for eight hours. Why is it so wrong to have something to keep my head active? I love listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour podcast while I’m running that thing.

And then there’s the delivery trips. The dump trucks are ancient and don’t have radios. All you get to listen to is the roar of the engine (because there’s also no soundproofing between the engine compartment and the cab). What I listen to may not be live but it’s certainly better than just listening to the engine for half an hour each way (or more - this weekend is a 4+ hour round trip for someone and they get to sit there and listen to the damn thing scream for the duration.)

I personally don’t see how you can draw the comparison for #1. When I’m in the yard working I’m not browsing the internet, checking email, or updating my facebook page - I’m listening to prerecorded NPR shows so that I don’t go batshit loco crazy insane. As to #2… There’s studies on both sides of the fence. You can find anything on the internet to support whatever view you want. If it’s not out there you can make it up yourself on the spot and form a cult around it.

We’ll see how it goes. If the goal here is to reduce distractions on the job, I want the political and religious babble cut down by the rest of the crew. That alone is a massive distraction and clearly they aren’t working while they’re running their mouths.

/rant off.

Fiction Friday: Reconstructive Surgery

Uncategorized | Posted by Derek
Oct 02 2009

Reconstructive Surgery has been posted. Again. No plot changes, minor language usage changes. If I can get this damn thing finished in my lifetime (at my rate of travel, it’s not looking good, is it?) I should get a book printed even if it’s just through Lulu or something like that. And find an artist who doesn’t mind being paid in firewood or grunt labor. Maybe I should get my mother a wacom tablet, she used to love to do art, but hasn’t had the time.

Or maybe she deserves a Modbook tablet? Hm.

I’ve had a lot of time to think but not much time to write, as usual. I’ve discovered my iPod’s voice notes feature, and with a set of headphones + mic, I can bounce thoughts off myself while I drive the short stretch to town and back. I used to do this with an old sony minidisc unit, when I was spending 4 hours in the car every weekend. These days, not so much time is spent behind the wheel, and people look at me funny if I’m talking to myself while working. Since I have to work with these people every day I prefer if they have the impression that I’m marginally sane.

So, instead, I usually just listen to podcasts of shows I’ve missed on the weekend (Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell me, Thomas Jefferson Hour). I’ve been looking for other interesting podcasts, but not entirely sure what to pull down to test drive.

We’ve been getting a new roof set up over the boss’ leaky trailer home. At some point in the past, someone thought it would be a good idea to build on an addition to the place. So, they built it upside-down in the yard (so they could put strand-board sheeting on the bottom), cut a hole in the side of the trailer, and rolled the addition over. By the size of the warp in the trailer (which we discovered halfway through the roof when nothing was turning out square) it appears the alignment on the addition didn’t go well the first attempts so they pushed it together with a tractor to close the gap.

Fun stuff. Rafters are mostly done, as is the sheeting; needs tarpaper and the steel roofing now. Also, we need to build a support header to extend the rafters out from the edge of the addition over an open air space still flanked by the trailer, a little 15 by 30 area that’ll now be a nice outdoor kitchen or something during the summer, and can be enclosed with tarps in the winter if he so chooses.

Eventually, we’ll get around to my roof. But it doesn’t leak, so I might be waiting until spring. Bunch of firewood orders to fill, too. Rained most of today, but ‘harvested’ six of the remaining 21 chickens. Tomorrow I think we’re doing several pruning jobs around town. Busy busy!

(Addendum: If you’ve been really good this week I may get a second repost done today.)

Edit: 1:04 AM CDT saturday morning. Not quite the Friday double feature, but close? Lunar Picnic is present and accounted for. I’ll make a new post just in case an edit doesn’t push down anything on the RSS feed.