dal niente

Month: February, 2011

Passion is Free?

So, regarding the situation that I wrote about a few posts ago, the day after I got into the showdown with [Manny] the manger (in previous posts spelled Many, but changed because it’s a bit confusing with the word describing quantitiy), it seems that she switched tactics.

Two things stand out about her actions the day after our public argument. It’s hard to decide which of these two things is actually the more out of character move.

The first is that she announced that she’s going to be hiring a new part timer for desk duties. Manny has been fighting clerical attempts to request backup for a long time. Apparently, before I was hired, she didn’t want to look at hiring anyone for months even though [Chere] and [Mickey] were doing the work of 3 coordinators. Now that I’ve been here for a bit over a year, we’re at 3 coordinators for 3 positions, but the problem is that the OR is gradually descending into hell in terms of policies– administrative situations are becoming more complicated than they were a year ago, and whenever one of us the three of us calls in sick or goes on vacation, we get backlogged.

I say that her sudden decision to hire help is out of character because Manny has held out against calls for reinforcement for over a year: so why would she change her mind now? It’s probably worth noting that at our hospital network, managers are given a “performance bonus” at the end of each year for keeping their budget belts on the tight notches.

Secondly, the day after our argument at the desk, she thanked me for my hard work, saying that she went over the numbers and saw a huge jump from the day before. Oftentimes, she won’t even say hello when she passes you in the hallway, so I’m rather skeptical of the sincerity of her tanks.

Call me jaded if you want. It is true that a lot of people say thanks more out of habit than out of sincerity; it’s a politeness. But I enjoy people who are polite. The ones who you have to watch out for are those who are selectively polite. As the saying goes, sharks smile with their teeth, but…

Maybe a bit of context helps. I think these recent changes are simply because the [Transition Management Team] ([TMT]) is still buzzing about. TMT is the the taskforce that’s been formed to handle the transition from Montreal’s several MUHC hospitals to the one “MegaHospital” set to be finished in a few years. The TMT, like any outside consultant agency brought int to analyze process, has a number of different effects on the people of a unit.

On one hand, most of us at the hospital are unionized– so our jobs aren’t going to be replaced so we don’t have that sort of fear of consultants that other types of companies might have. However,consultants means change in policies. Political tides, determined by the interactions of people who either work at desks or who specialize in a particular field, dictate how policies will change.

It’s a shakedown. In a good way, pressure is put on management to come up with policies that better suit efficient function of the unit. However, there are several ways to improve efficiency, and not every person in management agrees as to how this can be accomplished.

A common tactic for Manny to try and get me to do work for her, for example, is to attempt bullying. The day before the promise of more manpower the thank you, you’ll recall Manny cornered me at front desk in front of my peers we got into an argument. I deffended my point of view very sternly with her. If you remember Will Ferrel’s line from “The Other Guys,” at some point Mark Wallberg starts verbally accosting him– and Ferrel shuts him down, by just shooting holes in all his logic. “That didn’t go the way you thought it would, did it!” he says afterwards. It’s the parable of the tigers and the salmon.

Well, Manny’s discussion with me didn’t go the way that she intended it to. Actually, I’m not sure what the hell she expected me to say. On previous occasions I already told her that the post-op reports were being done as fast as they could be done– so what good does it do to tell someone that they need to work faster?

Good management looks for realistic solutions. Pressuring someone to work harder when they’ve already told you on several occasions that they need more manpower, that the system doesn’t allow it, or that we’re already working at 100% capacaity… well, isn’t that like banging your head against a wall?

Actually, no. Because bad workplace relations tactics include bullying to get what you want. I’m sure you’ve seen it. You can get someont to work at more than 100% of their abilities, if you bully them. People will work faster, do unpaid overtime, put up with jobs that aren’t theirs, etc. That’s bad management… but oftentimes, bad managers get away with it, because workers are tricked into thinking that it’s their job to help beyond the call of their jobs.

It isn’t.

Especially in a hospital scenario, this conspiracy of exploitation goes all the way to the top. Everybody who works here fundamentally cares about children. If you work here just for the money, you’ll have an impossible time of it. You will not be able to find some way to live with working here– because there isn’t that added value to your salary that tells you “you’re working for a right cause.”

However– working for a right cause isn’t currency. Nobody at this hospital is paid to love kids, or to care. We are, technically, paid to render a service.

I am not suggesting that people shouldn’t care– what I am saying though is that management at any level has no right to assume that the nature of the work compensates for a lack of payment. If you are paid X to produce Y amount of work, then that’s what you should do. An employee should not produce Y + 10% without X +10%. An employee should not produce Y + 10% and make up that difference with the warm and fuzzy feelings that they get from doing the right thing. That extra 10% of money? It doesn’t go to the kids– it stays in your manager’s pocket.

When I say that healthcare has a culture of exploitation, I think people don’t realize this because most people think in terms of doctors, as the final product. Sure, successful doctors make good money– but even among their ranks, how much unpaid overtime does a resident do? How much of their personal life are they expected to forgo for the sake of just “one more thing for the day?” The culture of exploitation is one an interesting one, because of two seemingly opposite ideals:
The first is that finding work that you find meaningful and are passionate about is important.
The second is that professionals are defined by their ability to be paid for what work they do.

Obviously, passion is theoretically unlimited– but the amount of pay that you will compensated with for that passion isn’t.

If you’re at a job that has conditions optimal enough that you’re simply secure, that’s fine– pour in as much passion as you want!

But if you’re fighting for basic respect? If you have to double check every pay cheque? If you are taking on more responsibilities than you were hired for? If you’re doing other people’s work? As professionals– you are hired to do a job, and they hired you perhaps over others because they thought you were passionate.

Before the workplace deserves your passion though, it needs to respect your basic professional needs.

Update: Two weeks later
I still don’t see or hear any word of extra people being hired.

Well, I hope that the boss makes good on her word– as someone who is a part timer on availability (yes, even though I work the hours of about 6 days per week most of the time) I could leave pretty much whenver I want. Two weeks notice I guess? Now that law school is on the map too, the department’s time is running short.

Acceptance

Just thought you should all know, I was accepted for law school!

I’ve got two acceptances so far, one for University of Sydney Technology (UTS) and one for University of New South Wales (UNSW). UTS was my first choice because I’m not rich… but UNSW is apparently a great school, pretty highly ranked and pretty difficult to get into–

Anyways, thanks everyone for their support and encouragement! Waiting for acceptance is always one of those really nerve wracking experiences.

Next step: financing. If anyone would like to make donations………………. don’t hesitate to message me.

Customer Service

In a letter of response from a tech company whom I was mailing, regarding the delay in my order:


Thank you for your inquiry.

We have received your hard dick and your letter.

We apologize for the delay as the hard disk got held up with our shipments.

We will email you as soon as the data transfer is completed.

Please note that the Online PC will be shut down while the data transfer is being completed. We will email you when we plan to shut down the machine for data transfer.

If you have further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best Regards,

[Zanshin] notes:
Well, I suppose that when you’re working with hard dicks, especially
if you’re a dude, you may not want to handle them all at once, or
promptly, for that matter.

Rule #32

I’ve just now had a pretty excellent weekend so far– been a good opportunity to get in touch with myself and all that.

Ironically, a lot of that just meant having some plain, simple free time.

There’s a number of things that I need to research. First of all, there’s the specifics of obtaining a working holiday visa in Australia, which I intend to use before a student visa (which I don’t have, or know anything about yet either). I’d like to work on a budget to figure out how much it would cost to live in Australia, which will determine with how much fervor and gnashing of teeth I drag myself to office.

But there’s also the lighter side of life. Remember Zombieland Rule #32: Enjoy the Little Things.

That means getting phone calls from [CM] on her busride home from medcamp, where she goes on and on about the doctors of tomorrow who had a weekend of horror: one girl with a swollen face due to insect bites in her sleep; a dude who woke up with all his clothes missing; a dude who had to be taken by advisors to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning; etc etc etc.

To be honest, there was a time when [CM] and I weren’t very good on the phone. We started off as a pretty awkward couple I think– I did most of the talking because I wanted to seem interesting, and she did most of the listening because she wanted to be polite, or something. Neither of us was really good at phone calls– we don’t handle the silent lulls between thoughts I think. We’re much more casual, and less urgent in the way we interact. That might be part of being in a long distance relationship where we are at the mercy of slightly laggy video chats, or worse ‘instant’ messaging through cybersapce on our phones. But really, it’s not a bad thing– when we’re in person, we’re comfortable to just lie around together and be quiet at times, enjoying eachothers’ company and the pace of a relaxed serenity. (We’re would not fit on the cast of Gilmore Girls who just never shut up.)

So i guess it’s a little thing, but it’s still nice, when she goes on and on about med school. I like it when she geeks out about something, or gets really excited about something and wants to share it all with me, it makes me feel special to be the select audience.

-=-=-=-=-=-

I took some time to pick up more Go/Baduk this week than usual to get my mind off of waiting for applications’ results. Just as a reminder, Go players are loosely ranked. I think the beginning player probably has a rank of 30kyu or something, and an awesome player has a rank of 1kyu. Once you get to 1kyu, the numbering system inverts and you go to 1st dan, 2nd dan, etc… in the way of blackbelt ranks.

[SiB] and CM are the ones who taught me the most about playing Go, and I’m really glad I gave this game a chance. SiB originally tried to teach me a long time ago, but it didn’t stick– it’s only when I met CM that I took more of an interest in itbecause it was something fun and cheap we could do together.

It’s tough though– because of the ranking system, I often get obsessed by how much progress I’m making. It’s not like an RPG where you can grind at random battles and eventually, you automatically gain enough experience points to gain a level promotion and stat bonuses. Go ranking depends on experience, sure, but it also requieres that you become smarter to gain ranks. I guess that sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But what might not be so obvious is the depressing feeling when it feels like you’ve gotten as smart as you can get.

Every now and then, I reach a level where I get ‘stuck’ and I just can’t get past it. So far I’ve always managed to eventually break past it. I had a lot of trouble getting past 14kyu, for example. And now? I’m finding it enormously difficult to get to maintain a 10kyu rank. I keep managing to get into the 10ks, and then a passing random player will destroy me and my rank will be readjusted for 11k.

SiB says there are two factors at work– one is that I’m not doing enough studying (which means, examining literature about various play patterns in the game) and the other is that I’m probably thinking too much of my rank while I play. He’s right on both accounts– and that’s not surprising, considering that his rank is somewhere between 3kyu and 1kyu.

For the longest time, I got stuck at low 11kyu.

The thing is, I’m not someone who learns by studying… I need to learn by doing. I’m not very book smart, but relative to myself, I’m good at acquiring practical habits and replicating them in practice, as well as adapting them and myself to situations. Studying Go? It just… doesn’t stick. Of course, the masters all tell you anways that it’s not about memorization but application, but…

I found that the way to break past my most recent barrier was to play against an AI. I’ve never really played against an AI controlled Go opponent before– but it’s been itneresting. The thing that’s nice about playing against an AI is that the opponent’s strategies and intelligence is consistent– so wheras there is a lot of variation between a rival 11k player online, playing a level 8 AI in the app I use is pretty similar each time I play. Either I’ll always lose because I’m making the same mistakes, or I’ll get start to win because I’ve learned how to permanently update my practice.

It’s kind of like how in martial arts, it’s good to spar. There is nothing that will teach you more about your limitations than a creative opponent who has a similar toolset to you who is using it in better ways than you. But at the same time– you can’t become a great fighter by just sparring (or street fighting, for that matter) all the time. There’s too many variables going on that you can’t isolate and improve without control over the situation.

So an AI is like… my training partner, who is helping me with drills. It’s about repetition. It’s about being severely punished the same way for certain mistakes, and being rewarded for other good plays. It’s a practical bridge between the theory of Go study and the excitement of playing against a real opponent.

And then, when you run into that one little situation on the board where you say: “Hey…. I know what to do here!” and you realize your opponent doesn’t see it– kaching! There’s the little thing that makes it all worth while.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Life outside of games is similar when you think about it. I meet a lot of people in life who are basically unhappy with their lot, and more often than not, that comes out of a sense of entitlement. Entitlement is in itself a problem– people should simply be.

If you practice something, you aren’t entitled to good results. You simply are better at it, and good results are more likely to follow. Once you phrase something in terms of entitlement though, you introduce the concept of someong giving you something that you owe– when in reality, the nature of building substance of character is based a mode of interaction with your environment that means creating, manipulating, or taking what you can with your skills. It has nothing to do with the credentials you obtain through practice, or the handouts you expect because of those credentials– it ought to have everything to do with your actions.

That is to say, if the average person would focus less on what they’re worth in a social context and more on becoming more worthwhile to themselves, they might actually find they’re get more results.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Part of becoming a better person, I think, is about finding ways to appreciate all that you have. Analytical ability isn’t just something that ought to be used to be critical. Sure, it’s indepensible to be able to recognize methods and to find weak links in your person that you can work on to make yourself more capable of leading a productive life.

But it’s also very important to develop the eye for things that make you feel fulfilled– because, otherwise, what’s the point of it all? Pay your dues in all the little areas: study, practice, reinvent, assert your person– but don’t lose sight of the little things that you’re righting for.

Spring Cleaning

So, we have an old computer, named Athlon, which I decided to put to rest. It’s 12+ years old parts would become part of Dell (a Dell stock box, probably also around 10 years old… it could barely Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne back in the day) and Jaranda (a computer given to me by [Zanshin] which is just a few years old.

First part: making use of old sticks of RAM. I pulled one out and was like… wtf. 128MB???

Are you serious? My cellphone has that much RAM I think. [CM]’s new smartphone has about five times the amount of ram.

For me, doing some spring cleaning on the computers is always like a trip down memory lane. You see all these old things in old computers: processors that were cutting edge at the time, yet weren’t even hot enough to warrant a fan. Just a heatsink was good enough. And wow, look at that mess of IDE cables…

You even see little improovements, and not even on a hardware or software level– just the basic design of a modern tower, for example. Jacaranda is a 5 year old or so computer I think– and there’s a lot of work to make the boxes basically screwless. You don’t have to manually mount drives into the bays with screws anymore– there’s a slider mechanism that just pins the drives in place! Even the rear bays, you can just snap a locking mechanism in place, no screwing around. And the casing itself? No more giant, noisy u-shaped panel that you have to strip off the entire box, when ll you want is one side of the mobo anyhow– there’s a quick release latch, just the one panel comes off, and if you really want to secure it beyond that, you can use the thumbscrews.

I guess the technology itself fascinates me on one level, in terms of raw computing power’s growth over the years– but what I find more interesting are additions of function. So.. sure I made some of the computers faster today, and that was fun to see through the whole process. But I was more fascinated by the physical internals– because all this covenience stuff really feels like better mousetraps.

I may pay a bit of attention if a computer can beat me at Jeorpardy, but if you can invent a computer box that I don’t ever need to find my small screwdriver set for ever again, then you’ve impressed me.

The Good Fight

While a lot of people dismiss fighting shonen mangas/animes like Bleach and Naruto (or back in the day, things like Ranma, Hajime no Ippo) because of their strong bias towards of stubborn, underdog charcters, I think there’s a valuable lesson to be taken from all of them.

I’ve been talking about the workplace a lot lately because that’s been occupying a lot of my mind. I really feel that the hospital is a place a miracles– yet the work environment is terrible. There’s a lot of exploitation, a lot of lack of respect, a lot of bullying (which, actually, according to the hospital charter, all constitute intolerable violence).

Sometimes [Chere] tells me to give it up, that I’m wasting my energy. True, I’m using energy– but as to wasting? That depends on how much effect I bring about– and just because I don’t see immediate results, it doesn’t mean that I am not obliged by my own sense of morals to act.

So I’ll fight with my managers.

Every time they don’t remember to pay me, I’ll give them a day to fix it, then report them to the union.
Every time they try to introduce a protocol that I think is inefficient, I’ll make noise about it.
Every time they “create work” that doesn’t need to be done and gets dumped on me, I’ll “put it on my list,” which I’ll show to them later when they wonder why I never have time to be friends with them.
Every time they make a reflex to say “yes” to some other manager without asking us first, I’ll call them on their lack of democratic consultation.
Every time they throw something on my desk, I’ll give them a dirty look and say “what’s this?” even thogh I might know what it is.
Every time they say something vague and inspirational, I’ll demand to know what the pratical implementation of “we’re getting there” or “this needs to be discussed at the next meaning” means. I will point out explicitly that they have said essentially nothing of value in the past few minutes. They love that.
Every time someone has a problem with management that is management’s fault, I’ll help to build a case to compalin against management.
Ombudsmen? Please– they’re my best friends. I always help the ombudsmen go after management.

Mind, you, I’ll do everything legally and tactfully. I’ll be working within the guidelines of the work practice– but if I can make management’s life a living hell, to the point where they wake up in the morning and say “fuck, I don’t want to go to that place….” then I’ll have done my job.

It’s nothing personal. But you have to train people like you train dogs– when they’re bad, you treat them bad. Conversely, I’ll encourage them whenever they do something right.

My point is, we shouldn’t just roll over and die, not even for what appear to be impossible fights. Policies might not care how much you try to resist them… but the managers who enforce them, they’re human– they can be affected, if you’re persistent enough.

The real trick isn’t resisiting policies– it’s making managers feel so stupid about enforcing bad ones that eventually they change them for better ones. But until that happens– sure, it’ll feel futile.

If you believe that you virtuous, though, no matter what, fight.

Workplace Politics

So,

the day after I got into the showdown with [Manny] the manger (in previous posts spelled Many, but changed because it’s a bit confusing with the word describing quantitiy), it seems that she’s switched tactics.

Two things stand out about her actions the day after our public argument. It’s hard to decide which of these two things is actually the more out of character move.

The first is that she annouced that she’s going to be hiring a new part timer for desk duties. Manny has been fighting clerical attempts to request backup for a long time. Apparently, before I was hired, she didn’t want to look at hiring anyone for months even though [Chere] and [Mickey] were doing the work of 3 coordinators. Now that I’ve been here for a bit over a year, we’re at 3 coordinators for 3 positions, but the problem is that the OR is gradually descending into hell in terms of policies– administrative situations are becoming more complicated than they were a year ago, and whenever one of us the three of us calls in sick or goes on vacation, we get backlogged.

Manny has held out against calls for reinforcement for over a year: so why would she change her mind now? It’s probably worth noting that at our hospital network, managers are given a “performance bonus” at the end of each year for keeping their budget belts on the tight notches.

Secondly, she thanked me for my hard work, saying that she went over the numbers and saw a huge jump from the day before. Oftentimes, she won’t even say hello when she passes you in the hallway. I suppose I should be grateful for thanks coming from someone who never gives it, but at this workplace, I’d rather stick to my jaded conspiracy theories.

Maybe a bit of context helps. I think these recent changes are simply because the Transition Management Team (who is the taskforce that’s been formed to handle the transition from Montreal’s several HUHC hospitals to the one MegaHospital set to be finished in a few years). The TransMan team is basically here stirring shit up– in a good way mind you– but the management is basically squawking, looking busy with their coffe cups trying to look responsive and helpful. In reality– the policies that are being implemented in a half-assed way with very little foresight.

By little foresight, I meant that management is making the same mistake they’ve always made– they’re not consulting with the people they’re working with. Management can always change policies, sure– but if they had any idea what it’s like to work on the front lines, they wouldn’t make up such bullshit policies.

The day before all this mana fell from the heavens (more manpower and encouragement is a clerk’s lifebread), Manny cornered me at the desk and we got into an argument where I deffended my point of view very sternly with her. If you remember Will Ferrel’s line from “The Other Guys,” at some point Mark Wallberg starts verbally accosting him– and Ferrel shuts him down, by just shooting holes in all his logic. “That didn’t go the way you thought it would, did it!” he says afterwards.

Well, Manny’s discussion with me didn’t go the way that she intended it to. Actually, I’m not sure what the hell she expected me to say. On previous occasions I already told her that the post-op reports were being done as fast as they could be done– so what good does it do to tell someone that they need to work faster?

This kind of attitude doesn’t show up in good management. Good management looks for solutions. Pressuring someone to work harder when they’ve already told you on several occasions that they need more manpower, that the system doesn’t allow it, or that we’re already working at 100% capacaity… well, isn’t that like banging your head against a wall?

Actually, no. Because bad workplace relations tactics include bullying to get what you want. I’m sure you’ve seen it. You can get someont to work at more than 100% of their abilities, if you bully them. People will work faster, do unpaid overtime, put up with jobs that aren’t theirs, etc. That’s bad management, because continued use of such tactics leads to the OR situation we have now– which is that it alternates between sentiments of mutiny and dessertion. With 4 new nurses being trained and another 2 senior ones leaving by the end of the month, this month it’s dessertion. This all happens becaues management doesn’t stick up for us. Oftentimes, bad managers get away with it, because workers are tricked into thinking that it’s their job to help beyond the call of their jobs.

It isn’t.

The simple math of a situation is that you can’t help others if you can’t take care of yourself first. This takes a lot of introspection– how much of your quality of life

Which is why I say that the MUHC is a very peculiar case as far as employment goes. It has some of the most intelligent, dedicated, disciplined and resourceful minds out there– but management in almost every context I’ve worked under has been terrible.

So, the big question is… what can we do about it?

Well, first of all, sometimes it’s necessary to play hard ball. There was a guy in the anaesthesia department who used to pull shit on me all the time– used to book cases after hours and try and pull the wool over my eyes, and then, the next morning, the whole department would be all screwed up if something went wrong. Well, what did I do? I called him on his bullshit. And he stopped trying to do it.

Manny was bugging me to do things beyond my work limits. So what did I do? I called her on it. And the next day, she said she was hiring people and that I was doing a great job.

Mind you , we have yet to see if she keeps up on these promises– but the basic lesson is that you have to stand up for yourselves. How effectively you manage to do so depends on how much gunpowder you can store at once without them noticing. In both the anaesthesia case and Manny case, I’ve been stocking up hate and aggravation for a long time– but it’s important to note that it’s not just emotions you store up, but proof and experience. That is to say– it’s not enough to just hate someone’s attitude. You must have reason to question their way of working.

If someone is just an asshole at work, well, tough balls. You can’t do much about that. But the only way you can leverage anything at work is if you leverage them in the context of the work.

The thing is, I’m usually quite lenient when it comes to how I deal with people at work. I’ll usually bend backwards a bit– because in most cases, people will do the same for me. Rules exist, but they are guidelines that work best when everyone has a unified vision of what it is we’re trying to accomplish– in the context of the hospital, it’s about good care for the kids.

But every now and then you get people who use the rules for the wrong reasons.

It’s sad but they ruin it for everyone.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Well, as a basic start, I’m aiming at transparency. That means if I’m going to do anyone favors, I want everyone to know whay I’m showing favoritism: “Because this person is doing a good thing.” And if I’m being mean to someone– conversely, “it’s because this person is being unprofessional.” And if I make a big deal out of something… “I don’t agree with this protocol.” And I will make a noise about it until it is amended.

… sorry if I just talk about work lately. It just seems like the douchery is more than usual ever since TransMan started their investigations. Somehow, it pressured management to make a series of bad decisions though. This isn’t just me resisting change– this is me telling you my opinion that the changes being made aren’t the ones that we need.

So, I’ll continue to be prepared to get into confrontations.

I wish we could all just get along and do our jobs.

Communication

This morning, I woke up feeling a bit sick. Being sick makes me kinda irritable.

The timing was good though and [CM] just happened to have gotten home from a long day. She told me all about her long day at orientation.

It’s surprising but I don’t normally really care much about med school things– I mean, I have enough friends who are in medschool, including two of my cousins, but I just didn’t care until now. But, I guess none of those people are as close to me as CM.

It’s really nice to hear about school, surprisingly– she was telling me about how the speakers were all really good, including a lawyer, a doc who practiced in Emergency, and a 3rd year med student who made a great analogy about med school work. “It’s like pancakes,” he explained. Pancakes are good. But sometimes you decide that you want to have toast or something else for breakfast, so you put those pancakes on the side for a bit and decide to eat them later. And then you realize that exams are coming up, and that in you see this stack of 400 frikking pancakes. That’s med school. “Stress isn’t a badge of honour,” he added.

That’s really wise.

I think that stress is one of those things that we shouldn’t do, as much as possible. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard, or that we should just pretend to be working. But there needs to be a balance between work and quality of life.

I got to work this morning feeling a bit weak, just because I’m a slow started when I’m sick. While I was in the recovery room pikcing up some anaesthesia records, my immediate manager, [Many], approached me.

“Is the reports for this period done?” Roughly once a month, we need to submit a data pull from our operating room’s statistics. This means that a lot of data entry needs to be done and verified. When it’s late, people start bitching.

“Nope,” I reply. “I’m about two weeks behind.” In fact– two weeks is pretty good, considering how many sick calls and how many exceptionally fucked up days at work have come up during the last month. And by that, I mean things like patients arriving to the operating room in their jeans with no clue where they’re supposed to be (they should have been prepped somewhere else in hospital clothes), patients have been eating (they’re supposed to be fasting for their own safety, because they could die during anaestesia processes otherwise), etc. Just… dumb things.

Because during evenings I work closely with the nurses, their problems naturally fall on my plate to a certain extent. So naturally, a nursing problem becomes my problem– and that affects my ability to complete my reports. And if you want to know how the nursing situation is… well, they’ve pretty much been on the verge of mutiny for the past several months. We’re going to be losing two more nurses by the end of this month to other departments– they’re just fed up.

So anways… I’m about two weeks behind in the backlog. The period went up to January 29th though, so technically, I’m about 7 days of data short completing the period. Which isn’t so bad– like I said, considering the sick calls and the exceptional situations with evening issues, it’s actually quite impressive that I’ve gotten that far.

She tells me that these reports are really important, and that she’s being pressured from above.

I let it slide, because that’s how she is. There’s not much for me to say– as it is, I already work a fair amount of overtime per week.

But she has the nerve to bring it up again– and this time to try and shift some other clerks around to prioritize the reports. Not only that but she complains that compared to a year ago, we’re 200 patients not entered yet… and she has the nerve to say that a previous clerk (who used to work here before I was hired) always managed to stay on top of things, so she wasn’t sure what the problem is.

I just about lost it right there, and it was a miracle I managed to not just start yelling. I was pretty polite. I exaplined to her quite calmly, but with a very measured and obviously pissed off tone, that MAYBE she should hire some extra people to do the data entry? Maybe we need at least one person as backup so that whenever someone calls in sick, we aren’t forced to work through our lunchs? Maybe if you’d make that freaking standard operating procedure for X or Y then Iw ouldn’t have to spend so much time coordinating all these FUBAR situations during evenings?

The failure of beareaucarcy begins with hiring people who are a bunch of fucking politicians who don’t know anything about what’s going on on the ground level. It continues with a lack of respect– people taking your inches and asking for miles.

“I’m not sure what you expect me to do. There’s only one way to do this stuff, and I’m working nonstop on it– and if I still have to do overtime, and we’re still behind, that probably means this system,” I say to her face “doesn’t work.”

The thing is, the solutions are right there– but she doesn’t want to engage any of them.

So I went to my office.

There was a time, I think, when stuff like this wouldn’t get to me. But after a year of working with Many, and after having worked with managers like her in the past… you begin to wonder. Do they seek out people like this to be managers?

My balance has been upset lately because of work. I need to revisit my ideals and meditate on them before I’ll be able to go back in there.

Adventures in Home Networking

So, figured out a number of things today during my day off. Figured out what the hell people mean by port forwarding. I’ve always heard of, but never really understood what it was, nevermind how to do it.

The original reason why I started looking into this kinda stuff is because I wanted to be able remotely control torrent downloads on a computer in the other room. Internet isn’t the greatest in my neighborhood– our average download speed tops out at a measly 60KB/s. If torrents are running, they tend to choke the connection. That’s especially annoying when I’m in a video call with [CM].

Shat I wanted was to be able to throttle or pause downloads from the convenience of my own bedroom, without having to go to that other computer.

The web user interface for remote control of Deluge, the bittorrent client I use, is really buggy, so I looked other options. A few hours later, figured out a solution.

The final setup involves headless Deluge (bittorrent client) daemon on the downloading computer, which I could control via terminal console through an ssh connection (no need for a gui even, just command line). A bit of tweaking by reserving a permanent static IP, opening the right port permissions, and voila… remote control access to the torrents from afar.

It would have been nice if the WebGUI worked, but doing it all from terminal just makes me feel cooler.

Has to be Believed to be Seen

 What you got, you can’t deny it
can’t sell it, or buy it
  
It’s been how many years that I’ve been out of full time school now? About 4 years?
 
For me, there was a big difference between the world of professional adults and the world of students who think that their age makes them adults.  The main thing is that when I was in school, even if there was a routine to it (waking up, getting dressed, going to class, writing papers) there was a certain amount of unkonwn that made it fun.  Ideally so, anyway.  The point of education ought to be to extend from one’s understanding into areas of unknown… its a sort of controlled experiment in ignoance.  School is about you, and building you up to be something. 
 
But, school is always a safe place.  There is, in theory, a structure to it.  The worst you can do is fail, and you normally wouldn’t fail unless you were really trying to fail.  Failing is actually pretty hard, when you consider how much social support (or, if you look at it, social pressure) there is for you to succeed.
  
The real world is similar in a lot of ways, except that the stakes are much higher. You wouldn’t think so at first glance.  There’s a lot of similarities to the routine (waking up, getting dressed, going to work, writing reports), but the big thing is that life outside of school doesn’t normally care about your best efforts.  You can get good results in school, but getting good results everywhere else is an entirely different challenge.  Just doing your homework means nothing.  You won’t be graded according to any set results– you will be judged according to the personalized prejudices of every person you ever meet.  Real life is about on the fly negotiations, networking, forming alliances, usurping thrones, and crushing barbarians.
 
In a worst , work becomes life, or it takes up all the time you should spend living, and it becomes all about about upkeep.  I used to think that was a crazy idea– but it’s not.  For me, firstly it’s really easy to be consumed by work because it’s the easiest and most available source of time usage that at the very least feels useful, as opposed to waste.  On a second front, it’s because I wrongly think that a lot of my problems in life could be solved if only I had more money.
 
So, what’t the only way to mitigate this irreconcilable demand on our time?  Not everyone can win the lotto.  I tried just before New Years (and I didn’t win).  What do the rest of us do?
 
About every quarter, I send out an “Updates from Montreal” email to friends and family overseas.  There are over 20 people on that mailing list, which consists of former coworkers and friends from South Korea, as well as family around Asia.  Very seldom does anyone write back.  I like to write to them anyhow though, because I feel like I’m doing my part to try.   And by “try,” I mean that it takes me barely any effort to add their names on a mailing list.  It doesn’t cost me an extra cent.
 
One of the recent replies was:
“These days, I strongly feel that hopes make people alive.”
 
This is a very true statement.
 
Even if work is upkeep, even if it’s the most uninteresting drudgery in the world– hope makes people put up with a lot of things.