Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good for Desmond Tutu!

This news is several days old, but I just learned of it and feel compelled to share (in case you missed it, too). Desmond Tutu has come out against the rift in the Anglican Church over the ordination of gay clergy.

He said, "To penalize someone because of their sexual orientation is like what used to happen to us—to be penalized for something which we could do nothing [about], our ethnicity, our race." Also, "I am deeply, deeply distressed that in the face of the most horrendous problems—we've got poverty, we've got conflict and war, we've got HIV/AIDS—and what do we concentrate on? We concentrate on what you are doing in bed."

I took those quotes from this article in The Advocate. I can't help but wonder why this hasn't gotten wide coverage in the mainstream press.

In any case, Archbishop Tutu has impressed me. Not that I had anything against him before, but I now find myself admiring his brave, principled stand.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Things moving fast

I haven't gotten a job offer yet. Actually, I haven't even finished my time at the current (soon to be former) job. Still, I started sending out resumes, have had a few interviews and one place already is looking to check references.

Not to jinx things, but I'm hoping something comes along quickly. More importantly, I hope it's something good and stable. I'm tired of having to change jobs every couple of years.

Time will tell, but at least I'm getting good responses so far. I'll keep you updated!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Oh, this is rich

I already met with the person who will be taking over HR, so I can tell her all about the job I do. She lacks my experience and qualifications, but I guess the thought is that I just have to describe what I do and then they don't need me. Like those commercials where the surgeon is telling the patient over the phone how to do his own surgery.

Now comes the real cherry on top. They want more input into the kinds of decisions I make every day. In future, it seems that many HR decisions will be made within "a committee structure." A committee?

Good HR management requires someone in command. There are legal ramifications, employee relations issues, labor issues, etc. These things can't wait for a meeting to be convened, so a group of people can deliberate. And not to sound completely egomaniacal, but there will be no one left there who has my level of expertise. So a committee of less talented people will take a long time to make poorly thought out decisions? Nice plan!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cheese, Louise!

We live on Long Island, as you probably know. Living on an island with an ocean of water next to us, our weather is supposed to be tempered. The summer highs shouldn't be quite so high, and the winter lows shouldn't be quite so low.

Yeah, that theory's working. This morning when I put the dogs out, it was 9 degrees fahrenheit. NINE DEGREES! Come on! This is ridiculous! The only fun part is that the back yard looks like a battlefield after the three dogs get done doing their business. :)

With pee and poop spots scattered around, one might expect a war correspondent to wander over. "Today saw heavy fighting here. Insurgents used chemical weapons and poop rockets, inflicting heavy damage on the back lawn."

What? TMI? It could be worse. Tuna posted something about her poor hubby taking a hit from a hockey puck where no man wants to be hit! I'm in pain from reading it! So what's a little dog poop? ;)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This is bizarre

A whole mess of my bookmarks in Firefox just disappeared. What's up with that?

Norton Antivirus says everything's fine. I'm running Spybot S&D to be safe, but I just ran it last night.

So what ate my bookmarks?

What a pain!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Poor George, he can't help it

For a George W. Bush State of the Union Address, this one wasn't bad. Wasn't bad, until a few minutes ago. He has now moved into his traditional mantra: "Terrorist, terrorist, terrorist. God Bless America. Thank you."

I'm surprised he doesn't just get up, say those eight words and then leave.

George, none of this changes the fact that you got us into a bloodbath with no good reason for it. And it's not like he can say it's just hindsight. Plenty of us were yelling that this was wrong before the war ever started.

Okay, I'll stop. I just had to vent a little.


Hmmm. I keep trying to publish this post, but Blogger keeps saying there are errors. The post won't take. I wonder if Cheney has something to do with this. That's what he's up to back there behind W! Well, I'll just keep trying. Eventually, he'll get distracted and the post will work.

More about the interview

So the interview went well. I didn't know the position before I went in. All I knew was that a colleague passed along my resume, and then someone's secretary (a nice lady, by the way) called to say, "Can you come in on Monday for an interview?" So I went.

I met with four people for about an hour. The title is a lower one than my current job, and that would be a problem. I was very frank with them and said I wasn't going to do anything that appeared to be a step back in my career. They understood that, but there was an interesting vibe in the room.

I was given a clear signal that I shouldn't write them off yet. It seems that they want to see what they can do to change the structure so it would be acceptable to me. Of course, people higher up may tell them to forget it, and that will be the end of it.

Whatever happens, it was nice that it went so well. If nothing comes of it, at least it was good practice!

Yesterday's interview

The interview went quite well. It's a longer story than I have time for at the moment, but I'll share some details ASAP.

Not sure if a job will come from it, but it did go well.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Two ads? TWO ADS?!?!

Oh, for crying out loud, this is ridiculous. I know that most job vacancies wind up on or Careerbuilder or a similar site, but the Sunday Times has remained a source for some good openings. That's where I found my current (soon-to-be former) job.

So today I opened the Times. Of course, the "Job Market" section isn't like it once was. Several years ago, it would be two thick sections. Now, with so many ads lost to the Internet, it's one section. One thin section.

Even so, there are usually some decent ads in my field each week. So now, when I'm looking for work, how many are there? Two! Neither is of any use to me (of course), but, whether they are or aren't, the tiny number of ads is ridiculous.

But then this fits. When I'm happily ensconced in a job, headhunters call regularly with job openings. As soon as there's instability at the job or the job is lost, the phone magically stops ringing.

Yes, yes. Everything will be fine. I'm just frustrated, but life will go on.

In the meantime, I'll go to the mystery interview tomorrow. Perhaps it will be a job I'd want. Likely? Nah. But it could happen.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The long goodbye(s)

I have a couple of weeks until I actually leave my current job (or, rather, it leaves me). Where I am--and in our current circumstances--I've seen a lot of people get laid off. Some of the departures elicited little more than a shrug from the remaining employees.

So I was wondering what would happen as word started to trickle out about my being laid off. Well, the first few people started to get the word yesterday morning. One of the veteran department heads sat down with me and was in tears. Another called me and said, "Even though you've only been here a couple of years, you're one of us, and we're all very upset about this."

Some translation of that... A couple of years is nothing in terms of longevity at this hospital. The person who was saying it has been there over 25 years. Also, "one of us" is a great compliment. They've seen a lot of people come and go, especially in the last few years. To be told you're not just another of those transient figures means a lot. And the "we" of "we're all very upset about this" refers to the veterans who are the core of the place.

Late yesterday, I had a meeting with a manager and her VP. The VP came along, due to concern about a particularly problematic employee we needed to discuss. The VP hadn't heard the news about me. When he did, he seemed genuinely upset. He had assumed I'd be taking over what remained of HR--as many had assumed (including my SVP who had recommended me for the job).

When this particular VP heard who was getting the job instead of me, the next words out of his mouth were, "oh, shit."

Yeah, I know I should just wish everyone well and go on my way. In the end, I will. But it's good to know I'm respected and also that everyone seems to thing this is a deeply unjust--and stupid--move on the part of top management.

Well, I'll just make nice for a couple of weeks and then go on my way.

In the meantime, I have a job interview Monday. So things are rolling already. Of course, I don't even know the title of the job. As weird as that is, a colleague passed along my resume, and I got a call from a secretary who said, "Can you come in for an interview on Monday?" But I don't know the job level, pay level, etc. So nothing may come of it. We shall see.


P.S.--even the representative of the nurses' union is pissed about this. She heard yesterday and told me, "you've done a lot of good for labor relations here . . . What are they doing?!" Not bad if I even have that level of respect from people with whom I've fought some rather heated battles.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Shit (but I did see it coming)

I don't talk about work on here very much. I don't think it's a good move for someone in my position. So I haven't kept you up to date on what's been going on.

For a while now, we've been in a "reorganization." Yes, that kind. Consultants have been running things from the top, and their mandate is to cut costs. Cut, cut, cut. Last month, that cutting reached my boss, the Senior Vice President. The CEO announced publicly that they were wiping out his position. He's a smart, knowledgeable, decent guy and one of the best people I've ever worked with. Didn't matter. Gone.

That didn't exactly send warm, comfy feelings through me. For a while, I was being told the new structure would have me promoted to VP and put in charge of what was left of the HR organization. I didn't like the way I was going to make it to VP (over a colleague's body), but the damage to my boss was already done. So I'd take the job. Then the top folks changed their minds.

Rather than promote me, they've decided to lay me off. I was told today how great my work is, how I'd get nothing but the best of references from them, but my services will no longer be needed. They're taking a different approach.

My job doesn't actually end for a few weeks, and I'll get some severance pay after that. Even so, this sucks. I did great work for them, and now it's sayonara!

I'm not the first guy to suffer this fate. Neither will I be the last. The funny part? In all the layoffs since I've been there, I and my people were the ones to help the employees with outplacement services, etc. (Happily, with rare exceptions, we in HR don't actually do layoffs where I am. We help cushion the blow.) So who's going to help me?

Eh, it's okay. I can write my own resume and get the ball rolling... but this still sucks.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Seems logical to me

Marc just rolled his eyes. Personally, I think he's just being a big meanie. Here's what I said...

I was reading on Wikipedia (which, of course, means it must be true *wink*) that Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica's Admiral Adama, is one quarter Hungarian Jewish (the family name having been "Olmosh"). Well, I'm also one quarter Hungarian Jewish! So, with that bit of information in hand, I declared to Marc that I'd clearly make an excellent Battlestar commander. The logic is unmistakable! Right?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It's probably just me

I was just watching a story on NBC's evening news about a very unusual gathering of European Starlings flying aerial maneuvers over a cemetery in the San Francisco area. I don't see the story on their website, so here's some coverage from a local ABC station.

Now maybe it's just me--and this probably comes from having too much of an interest in earthquakes--but animals doing strange and unexpected things in the San Francisco area wouldn't just have me saying, "ooh, look at the pretty birdies!" Personally, I think I'd be heading out of town!

(P.S.--they're even doing it over a cemetery! Come on!)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is it really so much to ask?

Can't I please win a nice, big lottery jackpot already? The stress at work lately is off the charts. People are being laid off left and right, and the place is a complete pressure cooker. So I'm more than ready for a nice lottery win.

I'm pretty good with a camera, and people have told me how wonderful many of my photos are. So it's obvious that a big lottery win would be good for society. I could spend my time bringing beauty to the world! Doesn't that sound good? Well, it sounds good to me!

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Jersey farted

Yes, I'm blaming New Jersey. That's what we do in New York. Actually, when it comes to foul smells, that's a pretty fair bet.

This morning, the alarms went off at the hospital. This was followed by a very strong smell of gas. I don't know if there's a gas detector that got fooled and triggered or if one of the contractors set it off (we're having a lot of construction done right now) and the timing was coincidental.

In any event, FDNY showed up and started searching the place. The gas smell was so overwhelming that some areas of the hospital were evacuated--that's a very rare event in the hospital biz. Our approach to most fire-related emergencies (not that anything had ignited this morning) is called "defend in place." That's because we have many people in our care who can't be moved easily. Also, hospitals are built to contain fires, so we can just close fire doors and keep the rest of the place running while the fire department's muscular young men drag their big, thick hoses... sorry, I lost my train of thought. Firemen sometimes do that to me. *sigh*

Anyhow, the smell in the basement and sub-basement (where our kitchen and laundry are located) was said to be overwhelming. Since there are no patients there and the risk of an explosion seemed real, I told the nearest security guard to order an evacuation of those areas.

Shortly thereafter, one of the firemen said they'd received word over the radio that it was "a city-wide problem." A city-wide smell of gas? That's bizarre. I tried not to dwell on a novel I'd recently read. In that book, terrorists were trying to use Liquid Petroleum Gas to create a fuel-air explosive.

Actually, I quickly dismissed that thought. I just didn't know what could create such an intense smell of gas over such a wide area.

As I type this, almost twelve hours later, speculation as to the source of the smell continues. Frankly, I don't care what the media have to say about this. All true New Yorkers know the most likely source of foul odors. Look west, young man.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What a wonderful day!

The weather was unbelievably warm today. While I'm concerned about global warming, I don't think that's the cause. It's more likely to be part of the world's cyclical patterns and the randomness of weather. Global warming may have some small impact, but I think that's more of a long-term concern (and I'm expecting wilder weather overall).

Anyhow, whatever the cause, at one point today the temperature was 72 degrees fahrenheit as we ran errands. After a few stops, we decided to head to the beach to take a few shots as the sunlight faded. After all, what's the point of living on an island if you don't make it to the beach every so often?

Happily, I had my wonderful partner with me...

We saw some families enjoying the day and a few guys who were surfing along while giant kites pulled them. I don't think this is parasailing. I think parasailing is where something powered on the surface (like a boat) pulls you, so a parachute makes you fly into the air. I'm not sure what this was called. Whatever it was, it looked like fun. They'd skim along the water on small surfboards while their kites (they looked too small for parachutes, but maybe not) sped them along. A few times, they even got lifted a short distance into the air.

Whatever this was called, their efforts to bring down the kites/'chutes at the end of their efforts added to the scenery for my photos. Here's one I took then...

BE SURE to click on this one for a larger version.

I'm thinking of making the full-resolution version of that last one into a huge print. I really like it, along with a few of the other sunset shots.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Interesting tidbits

This article reports on people citing "flaming objects in the sky" in Wyoming. The suggestion is that is has to do with Russian rocket debris, but I have to wonder how certain they are. Something flaming in Wyoming? Hmmm. I could think of another explanation for something flaming in Wyoming. *snicker*

(Okay, I'm going to pay for that. Sorry, Knotty honey, I couldn't resist!)

In other news, illegal drugs in Tennessee are required to have tax stamps on them. As The New York Times reports, "The state's Unauthorized Substances Tax, passed by the Legislature in 2004, requires anyone in possession of an illegal drug to buy and affix stamps to the drugs' packaging."

Putting on my lawyer hat (not to mention reading the explanation in the article), I do understand that it's really meant to be another way to punish people caught with drugs that don't have the tax stamps, but, aside from the questionable legal ground this is based on, isn't anyone embarrassed by this? "Hey, that vial of crack better have tax stamps on it, or you're in serious trouble, mister!"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hope and disappointment

Today saw a step forward and a step back for gay rights. This morning, reading the Times, I saw a column by a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating his belief that gay men and women can serve in the military and that the change--although he hedged on the timing--is inevitable.

Then, this afternoon, I learned that the Massachusetts legislature apparently has caved to political pressure and took a first step toward possibly banning gay marriage in the only state that has it at this time. "The amendment now requires the approval of at least 50 legislators in another vote in the 2007-8 session. Then it would be placed on the November 2008 ballot as a referendum question." I'm not sure the bigots would win today in Massachusetts. Hopefully they'll have an even harder time almost two years from now, assuming it makes it on the ballot. Oh, and in a truly laughable note regarding equal rights, the referendum, if it passed, would ban future gay marriages but preserve the existing ones. Go explain that!

Still, in one of the more promising states, this was a sad and disappointing event. Of course, if they could elect Mitt Romney, I probably shouldn't think it's all that stable of a place politically.

Despite this, I'm optimistic. It may take many years, but we'll win the war. We'll lose some battles along the way, but we'll win eventually.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm a little late with this post, since I could have done this 13+ hours ago, but the sentiment remains the same. (I'll blame bad singing on ABC for distracting me.) :)

I hope you all have a healthy, happy, prosperous year. I'll include myself and my loved ones in that wish. 2006 certainly had enough black marks, and I hope the new year is far better.

Best wishes to everyone!

What the hell...

I flipped on ABC right before midnight, so I could watch the ball drop. I left it on for a bit while doing some other stuff. By the time I paid attention to it again, there was some no-talent woman on there, in a too-tight dress, trying to sing.

If someone is going to be on national television to entertain us with her musical talent, shouldn't a prerequisite be that she have some? The woman couldn't hit a note!

I'm sure this is some famous, very successful person, and I just don't recognize her. This is quite possible, since I don't keep up with such things too well, but really, can we have some standards?