Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thanks at Christmas

Tidings of Yule: ‘tis the season to be jolly.


Why do I have to be especially jolly in this particular season?
Why can’t I be jolly the rest of the year?  

Maybe this is a friendly recommendation?

Is it because we spent about a ¼ of my wife’s net annual salary on gifts and food?
Maybe because the daylight is like 15 minutes long, and overcast at that?
Possibly because come January 3rd, we’ll realize once again that this is the most exhausting time-off.
Is this really time-off?
Is it really exhausting?

So many questions.

Thanksgiving is now two months past – one month for my American friends – and we are yet again feasting aplenty.  

Where I come from, Thanksgiving is not a big family affaire. We give grace for the good food and thank the good Lord for out lot.  This is important and celebrated, but not as a gathering, at least not for me.  This is a personal time for me.

I’m not overly religious, not by a long shot, but I am spiritual and I do realize how lucky I am and how good I’ve got it… compared to others less fortunate.   Given my semi-constant state of depression, I do not often think I’m all that lucky.  When I stop to think about it, only then do I realize that I have been blessed.  Stopping to give thanks once a year is certainly not too often.  Lucky star, God, karma, fate, or whatever it may be for anyone, is irrelevant.  Our lot in life is what we give thanks against, the recipient is only to make us feel better about something bigger than we are.


There is an entity, much closer to us, for which we should give demonstrative thanks.  This is not a riddle.  
It is the friend.

Most of us are equipped with an assortment of friends when we are born.  They are usually called family.  This is a default situation for most.  They are friends nevertheless.  Sometimes we’ll not be so close to certain family members, as we choose our friends among them.  This is not to negate the default family ties.  Well, sometimes it is, but I digress.

By the same token, we will sometimes change our friends over time as well.  Some will drift away, or we’ll be blown apart by life’s twists.  Many will stay.  Others still will remain life-long even if we hardly ever see them.  So be it.

In the here and now, we hardly ever thank these people. Mind you, we never have to, but we should.  Often we feel too ill at ease to do so.  A low-risk opportunity is given us once a year, by Christian tradition among others, to thank our friends.  In the form of Jesus, an incarnation of maybe our greatest friend, we celebrate his birthday.  But he has no use for birthday gifts. Maybe this was meant as a symbolic transference.

A gift is a means to show our appreciation of someone.  This is why we keep coining the phrase “it’s the thought that counts”.  Not the remembering to get something, rather simply remembering who is important in our lives.

Something nice and luxurious is a-propos, as to a wife or husband or really anybody one loves deeply.  It’s a-propos but not necessary.  Odd isn’t it?  A quick phone call to wish merry Christmas to a far-flung friend can also be a wonderful gift.  Also, accepting a dinner invitation from your aunty and playing cards afterwards is a beautiful present.

And that, my friends, is where being jolly pays off!

Christmas gives us the opportunity to thank one another without feeling sappy.   But I encourage you to let sentimentality grab you this year. When bidding Merry Christmas to those in your party, give them a warm hug and whisper a heartfelt “thank you” in their ear.  And for those special few an “I love you” will do just fine.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Unions - Part 2

We know that unions sprang from justified dissatisfaction.  Extreme measures mounted against extreme conditions. Lousy and abusive management created it’s own worst enemy.  Unions were so effective that nowadays they are a routine vehicle of negotiation for real abuses, and a weapon for imagined abuses.

Imagined abuses fall into the vengeance category.  When all else has been fixed, what’s left is psychological warfare for it’s own sake.  This is where the concept of a legitimate union breaks down.  This is also why unions are hardly, if ever, dissolved.  Just-in-case.

The flip side is much harder to deal with.  Once a union is set and is the be-all-end-all representative of the working mass, management has the onus to wash its hands of all things fair, all things equitable and certainly all things future.  

Management is responsible for the workings of the company and the Union is then responsible for the workers.

That’s the theory. There are many different incarnations to this, in fact the best managers will be able to manage the company, the workers and the union day in and day out. But the basic equation remains the same.  What toll this takes on the people, managers and workers alike, is for another blog entry.

If the union cares for its members, then it should plan ahead for future members.  In any given strike, this is what is at stake.  The condition of future generations, within the organisation, is the only real imperative.

The current striker will always lose.  Always.

This is seldom understood by the strikers, but is nevertheless altruistic.  If they stay long enough within the organisation, they might, someday, recoup the loss imposed by the strike.  The odds are very good, however, that they will be on strike again at some point, as management is slow to change, if it ever comes.

The worst offenders are probably government ministries.  There is no real pressure to change in management of ministries since laws are passed to control the work force.  A luxury that privately owned corporations do not have.  If pressure tactics against an enterprise goes on long enough or is harsh enough, the company will falter, declare bankruptcy and go under.  No so the government.  

In fact, government will routinely lapse public servant contracts, out of general principle.  No matter which party is in power, no matter which minister.  So it takes a very aggressive and very dangerous union to bring the government to the negotiating table.  My friends and acquaintances in public jobs have all seen this happen to them.  Contracts lapse for years on end.

Which brings me to my latest observations on a union that is close to my heart.

The nurses of Quebec, as is the case elsewhere I am sure, were once a religious congregation.  Selfless and poor, the sisterhood took care of the sick, the feeble and the elderly.  This was a calling.  This was a ripe situation for abuse if I ever saw one.  

When the government took over health care, it was a no-brainer.  Keep the poor sisters poor and we can make one hell of a business case.  The health care system was cheap and easy to run.  Doctors, with their own already powerful union, could be trusted to run it all to the benefit of the patients, and their own financial gain, but mostly keep the sisters under control.

The sisters remained poor and they remained selfless.  Their devotion to the cause would create an impasse for professional nurses for decades to come.  Indeed they would be the lowest form of life in the health-care system, just above nosocomial virus. Oh wait, the SARS virus blitz received more money than nurses ever will. Hmm.

We have a two-pronged skewer situation in this case.  On one hand, the government sees nursing services as cheap labour and plans to improve the situation not at all.  Really, why should they? Then we have the doctors, taught this way no less, to consider the nurse-sister as the devoted assistant.  These sisters, who look up to doctors, are worthy of contempt from their demi-gods.  They are certainly not viewed as fellow professionals.

Selflessness is this odd quality that is very much in demand, very much appreciated by the receiver, but held in contempt by the business.  So the stage is set.

My wife is a nurse and so was her mother back in the day.  My mother-in-law has been retired for some 20 years now.  She was in nursing school at the time of the sisterhood. She was impregnated with all selflessness and doctor-adoring notions running rampant at the time.  Doctors as a group encouraged this of course, as if the male to female hierarchy of the time wasn’t enough.

In the summer of 1999 the Quebec nurses went on strike, my wife among them.  They were originally fighting for better working conditions for themselves, and for their patients.   As anyone who has used the health-care system knows, the working condition in which the nurses operate directly impacts the patient.

Furthermore they had been without contract conditions for over a year if memory serves, and their salary had been frozen for the past 10 years.  Not even cost-of living adjustments were made.  

The strike was branded as illegal all over the media.  Illegal strike indeed.  The only thing that made it illegal was the lack of an official-in-writing two-week’s notice.  Never mind that the contract had expired over a year earlier.  

Eventually financial reality set in.  Between putting food on the table and slave labour, food will win out.  And this is what happened.  The nurses were no longer able to sustain extreme measures and settled for meagre salary increase, and none of the work condition improvements.  Nurses were still hit with massive government sanctions.  In the end, the government indirectly made tens of millions in withheld salaries, more than enough to compensate for the settlement.  

The government had won, again, narrowly dodging a bullet.  Unconscionable antiunion laws and some 350,000 public sector workers poised for civil disobedience were hanging in the balance.  The government had successfully broken the 47,500-nurse spearhead.

Some will even say that the FIIQ – Fédération des Infirmières & Infimiers du Québec, betrayed their members in back-door shenanigans with the Parti-Québécois.  There is clear evidence to support this.  Although I’m not sure it was so much politicking as lack of leadership guts.  Nurses are caring at heart.  Lovers, not fighters, as it were.  Right public support, right issue, wrong spear.

My mother in law was dead-set against the strike from the get go.  She fondly recalls her time working in hospital.  She really does have the calling to her core and the typical unhealthy adulation for doctors.  She loved nursing, but her career was cut short by illness and had to retire early.

And when a strike came during her tenure, she refused to strike.  She even applied the screws to her daughter to be a strikebreaker this time around.  “How dare she strike and leave the patients wanting?  How could she?”  Oddly enough, essential-services law dictates more nurses on station than are even available.  So technically, when any nurse goes on vacation, essential services are not assured!  Patients were not left wanting, not any more, nor less, than at any other time.  Non-essential surgeries were the hammer, never patient care.

“We’d pulled together! I loved my co-workers! I loved my job…” Yes, she did.  And so does my wife, to this day.

I begin to see the essence of the current problems.  It wasn’t the government, nor the doctors, I accused above.  No indeed. It was those nurses who never gave a thought for future generations.  Self and less means you condemn all those that follow you to the same fate.  Had it not been for a select few forward-looking professionals, nurses would still be the adoring sisters of the poor.  Not that there is anything wrong with this, it’s simply no longer tenable in this day and age.

This is why, altruistic though it may be, the imperative of the union is to look out for the future.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Unions - Part 1

When I was a youngster, unions were the enemy. It was generally believed in my entourage that unions were the bane of companies. It was an evil force, created for the sole purpose of wreaking havoc upon commercial enterprise. It was a communist ploy to bring down capitalism.

And on the face of it, all this appears true.

As I grew older, in university specifically, it dawned on me that the concept of a union was misunderstood. There was a student strike while I was at the UQAM – Université du Québec à Montréal. Now that was possibly the single most inane application of union imaginable. A strike is meant to apply pressure. What, exactly, where these idiots applying pressure to? A demonstration would have been singularly more effective. As it was the strike degenerated into hormonal-induced semi-violent manifestation. At least we made the evening news. Not sure we made the next day’s news though.

I attended class. I had no time to waste with useless and only semi-representative gathering of government leeches. Indeed the students who the most vocal were the ones on scholarships and bursaries. The government wanted to roll back the amount of bursaries handed out to students. A bursary is a 2000$ to 10000$ government straight-up hand-out. Not a loan. This was in the early 80’s!

Since my own parents were apparently rich, I was not eligible for a government-financed automobile. I had to fend for myself and drain my summer jobs income on education fees. It goes without saying that I had little pity for the presumably poor folks driving brand new Mazdas and living in plush 4 and ½ room apartments.

I am being a little facetious, since not all who got bursaries were scam artists. It does seem that these less-than-honest types were the ones on strike and bitching the loudest.

This yielded my first experience with union disparity. A union is supposed to represent people of common interest. But some are truly stretched. Just because we were all students, doesn’t mean the association was meaningful.

As I grew older still, and became a more integral part of the work force, my view was again readjusted. I had heard stories of bad management and lousy working conditions. They all seemed far away. Not of my reality. Remember, I came out of the 1980’s recession with the mindset that a job was a privilege. I was just happy to get one!

I can’t say exactly when, unlike with the student strike, but over the course of the next few years, I saw a place for unions. Furthermore, as a manager, I did everything in my power to keep my employees reasonably satisfied. I was never afraid of my employees getting unionized. Nevertheless an underlying respect of the worker is simple enough to accomplish. If grievances are properly addressed, there is no real reason for the employees to mass against The Man™. Why would I want to unionize if I am satisfied with my lot?

It all seemed logical, and cost effective. At least it did to me. Little did I know that this view was not widely held by corporate leaders.

Employee abuse in the name of good business is not good business. May be a good looking bottom line, but that’s so very obviously short sighted. The kicker is that employees can be abused for a long time before a revolt ensues, thereby allowing the corporation to make a killing in the meantime. When the lines of communication break down, as they always do in such circumstances, then the union-breaker plan is put into effect.

Oddly enough, the union-breaker plan starts with applying pressure to the low-level managers first. He, or she, is told to manage the issue. The words “when the going gets tough…” get hauled out to create a sense of inadequacy in the manager to get him, or her, to do unconscionable things. I won’t get into the mechanics of this, but lower management is always the first victim of any breaker plans.

Then the obvious happens: the situation worsens, the big wigs bail with whatever cash is left and the unions get in anyway. Historically this has been proven time and again, and I have seen my share of this behaviour.

Could it be that unions are simply created out of a sense of revenge? Furthermore, a revenge against lousy management? The conditions of employment are usually directly related with the talent, or lack thereof, of corporate leaders. Sometimes economy is a deciding factor, no doubt, and so is government. The union is thusly formed and an all-consuming power of retribution along with it.

If a company has to abuse its employees in order to turn a profit, then something is very, very wrong. If this remains wrong for long enough, and then revenge sets in, you get this picture: capitalism is evil, stick it to The Man™, those bastards will pay.

Even if things are set right afterwards, it is too late. The union has been formed, and will not dissolve easily. As a group the need for revenge runs deep, very deep.

Friday, December 16, 2005


I’m upset again.  Last week, the French CBC had a report on Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has everyday low prices.  We like the low prices. We also know how this is done.    

Our self-righteous Canadian social conscience does not support child labour.  We do not tolerate the fact that Wal-Mart disallows labour unions.  We get upset at their unethical business practices outlined in our news, but this last will be covered in another blog entry.

I’ll tackle the easiest first.  Unions.  They cost money to the worker and will cost money to the employer.  I’m not debating whether the stores should be unionized or not. I’m simply stating the fact that a union will raise the cost of operating the store.

We needed unions originally because employer abuse was running rampant.  Why not abuse the worker if it meant a better bottom line?  The only solution available to the working stiff was to stand up for himself and demand, sometimes quite violently like the teamsters, equitable treatment.  

It was a social change that was years in coming.  It was a self-induced social change.  In the normal development of a society such changes will take place.

It took guts and it took solidarity.  It was the realization that we needed something more, that fairness was left wanting.  Harshness of job, long hours, pitiful conditions, lousy compensation, the list goes on.

The risk faced by many of the first unions was straight up loss of job, revenue lost and inducing loss of lively hood.  But that’s what they were fighting for, since they could lose their job at a moments notice anyway!  Not good.

I sometimes ponder which of many factors induced an employer to randomly terminate positions.

In this case… consumers, or more precisely consumer pressure.

Which brings me to the second and most dramatic of observations.  In our indignation over child labour, we as a consumer group, apply pressure on Wal-Mart and others, to cease and desist from using foreign third-world factories operating with child labour.

Wal-Mart bows to this pressure and summarily terminates contracts with offending suppliers, thereby putting people, and their kids, out of work.

Bra – fucking – vo.

Where is their next meal coming from?  

So we have a choice, kids either working in factories or dying of malnutrition.  And in our great Canadian wisdom we choose what’s best for everyone. We have effectively handed these people a death sentence!

Don’t get me wrong theirs is a lousy situation.  Furthermore and I cannot condone child labour. But with our self-righteous attitude we’ve made it worse.  It’s one thing to apply this kind of pressure in your own back yard.  It’s quite another to decide that the world at large is wrong and should be following your rules.

If I remember correctly, my grandma was working as a weaver in a textile mill when she was 12 or 14.  I’m pretty sure that she never got fired on account of consumer pressure.  Furthermore, she became deaf because of it.

I’m fairly sure that parents all over the world would rather see their kids play than work in overheated factories.  Remember that if they so chose to let their children work, it’s probably because they genuinely had to, not because they need a second TV set.  Who are we to question that particular parent’s judgement?  A mile in their shoes and all that.

There will soon be revolts in countries like Bangladesh to fix these injustices.  Just like we did.  I pray there is a better way, since all revolutions of this type have casualties. I can hope but I don’t think so.  

This and only this, will put an end to child labour. People will eventually take control and responsibility of their own society.  This is not something we can do in their stead.  And sure as hell, taking food off their table is not going to help.   Although, for those of you who want to save a modicum of good conscience, you can always tell yourself that boycotts will accelerate the revolt.  

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Betrayal of man and country

It is one thing for the government to screw everyone out of some money for personal gain. It is another thing entirely to screw the people out of their freedom for political gain.

Freedom is something I hold very dear to my heart. It is at the epicentre of all I am, which is why betrayal affects me so very deeply. Thus, I have been betrayed... again. I am so very angry I could chew nails. It's taken me four days to calm down and write something short of vociferous.

A few of you already know why, let me bring everyone else up to date. Your self-serving son of a maggot Paul Martin, the presumably honourable, has promised to fuck Canadians up the ass, without the courtesy of reaching around for a hand job. Let me explain.

A few years ago, the Tories enacted some gun control laws following ignominious events. While I didn’t necessarily agree with most of the chapters of the new law, I went along. Then the Liberals, in the form of Alan Rock, instituted some pearls which completely blew away the people’s right to own… well… anything. Bill C-17 was enacted and through Order in Council, the Liberals – don’t you just love that misnomer – could outlaw anything with the stroke of a pen. This means that no vote in chambers will ever be necessary, ever again, to outlaw anything.

For instance, brass knuckles are legally considered as firearms (?#?%?$?) and are therefore banned. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be, but they are not firearms by any stretch of any imagination, except politician imagination.

The first step necessary for this to happen is to know where all the weapons are in the first place. So duly, a registration system was put in place. This system was supposed to cost 85M$ and be self-sustaining. Its cost is over a 1,000M$ today. And you thought AdScam was a problem.

The second step is that citizens must agree to get fleeced. Yours truly, being a lawful citizen and still having a modicum of trust in your government, abided by all these new fangled laws, at great cost of time, energy and money to me. I had to buy a safe, take unsafe classes, pay for the books and examination, pay for new registration, and purchase a mess of trigger locks, among other things. This all cost me well over a 2000$. Which is about ½ what my firearm collection is worth, incidentally.

The third step to make the betrayal complete is to begin confiscation. At first only a few weapons were confiscated, but this was the shape of things to come. The method was simple. The police would show up at the owner’s house. Said owner who was duly law-abiding and had registered all the items to be confiscated. The fuzz would then grab everything in sight, whether contentious or not, and cart off with them.

What happened next is reminiscent of third world law and order. The cops then immediately melted or otherwise destroyed the firearms. The owner goes to court to obtain right of property. He wins, of course. The cops are admonished to hand over the firearms to no avail since they no longer exist! No compensation, and I’m not even sure he got a letter of apology. This happened in Alberta. Not some third world dictatorship. It happened in a first world police state.

Nobody cares, since this man’s property was just a bunch of evil firearms anyway. I see it as infringement on the right to own property, plain and simple.

Now, the politician Martin capitalizes on an ignominious act in Toronto for his own political advancement! Furthermore he promises to ban all handguns if elected. He actually promises to confiscate privately owned property. He promises to infringe on peoples right to own stuff. He promises to take away basic freedoms from this country’s law-abiding populace. Read: LAW-ABIDING populace.

Our true north strong and free, indeed!

This utter disregard of the freedom of the good people of Canada is outrageous, and then some. The Tories are no better and are just as contemptuous of the people.

I will admit that gun-control is a litigious issue with many who have fear, be it real or irrational, of firearms. The systematic attack on freedom on the other hand, is not litigious, by any means or by any beliefs.

I have a young friend. He is a kid from next door. He and I have spent many hours working on my Mustang’s engine together. I was helping him develop interest in the mechanical. He had dropped out of high school and was adrift. Now he both works in the automotive shop at Wal-Mart and is attending mechanics school assiduously. He is a really good kid, and he is turning his life into the right direction. He also has an interest in martial arts.

He saved up a few dollars from his job and bought a Katana – a Samurai sword – off eBay.

He comes over to show me his new acquisition with justified great pride. A trophy of his new found interest and job! He’s been in school steadily for over a year now. Remember, this kid was headed for a hard place until he got hold of himself.

He looks at me with innocent eyes and says: “I’m supposed to register it”.

This kid respects me. Furthermore, he trusts me and my judgement. I know damned well that if it wasn’t for all the hours I spent with him on that engine that he would not be where he is.

I’d just finished shovelling my driveway, I simply look down at my frozen feet. What, the fuck, am I supposed to tell him?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Depression: Now you see it

… now you don’t… *warning* this is a heavy entry.

I’ve already gotten some feedback from my blog post on depression! Following this I realized that external observation of someone in depression is very difficult if not impossible.

I appear, in general, as fairly even keeled emotion-wise. Yet I am also passionate and this means I will get vocal, or opinionated, or angry, even vociferous. But I don’t really have a bad temper. Some people even say I simply care too much. Most of the time I appear jolly, yet sometimes branded as abrasive, maybe a little too direct. I often prefer the light-hearted approach and will always try to alleviate tension with a quip. Yet I am also self-assured with what I know. All this is true and it’s all feedback I have gotten from family, friends and coworkers. Yet, I am also very sensitive and sometimes have bouts of self-doubt…

Enough dichotomies? Now the invisible parts.

After a hard day at work™ I like to make it home in one piece. Literally. Here is some reality that went on in my mind: I had to cross a bridge to get home every night. And every night I would think how easy it would be to jump the Jeep over barriers and into the water. Luckily, during my darkest times, the bridge was under construction and since I didn’t know if anyone might be working beyond the construction wall, I’d opt not to swing the steering wheel.

At work or with friends, I’d be jolly and helpful, and passionate.

I’d get home and fall to my knees as I passed the front door, although exceptional, this happened more times than I care to remember. Exhausted, yet physically fit, as if the connections between my mind and body had completely frayed away. Sometimes I’d curl up into a little ball on the floor by the door. This would last several minutes, unable to move nor even cry. Then, I’d kick into old-habit gear and get up as a zombie, numb, automated.

At work or with friends, I’d be dedicated, strong, self-assured.

During my burn-out, sometime during 2002, I have a favourite story. I went to the store, Maxi I believe, with my wife to get some groceries. As usual, she would go off for the food, as I checked out the DVD stands. I’d usually read up each title searching for something good to watch.

On this day, possibly in March or April, I was locked up solid. I was simply standing in front of the DVD rack. Some time later, maybe 20 minutes, maybe ½ hour, probably a lot more, my wife comes back to find me standing in the exact same spot where she had left me. I had not moved. At all. Not for upwards of 20 minutes.

I barely remember her talking to me, and I don’t remember answering. She grabbed my arm and gently led me away. My body was fully functional. I packed and carried bags of groceries, walked to the truck and loaded it. But my mind was frozen. Needless to say, she drove home. I’m not sure if my speech was affected, and I don’t want to know.

When I shook back out of it hours later, I was still in a daze, but alert enough to know something had gone terribly wrong. Fear of what had just happened didn’t even enter my thoughts until several months later!

At work, well… I was off on disability.

And that, my friends, was a crash.

I was on short-term disability at work since February and was consulting with nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologist and a therapist. I was also speaking with family and friends. But I was specifically trying not to unload on coworkers.

My performance review at work indicated I had snapped in May of the previous year, and by November I was urged to consult with the Nortel nurse. It was obvious then that I was no longer the jovial and helpful guy I once was. By January I tried to explain the situation to my staff as best I could under the circumstances. Again, I was specifically not looking for support with them, I had my support structure in place, but I hate ambiguity and so I told them what was going on with me. I think this was well received, if it wasn’t, so be it.

I realize now that I leaned a little too heavily on one of my staff, a mistake. I don’t really regret the mistake since this happened before I had built up all my support. I unloaded a bit on her before I realized I was doing this. Eventually, I finished building my support structure but by that time it was too late with her, so I do regret that these events pushed her away. I really liked this woman.

As a testament to my organizational skills, and now knowing I was on borrowed time, I actually set up a project plan for my burnout! The only thing I couldn’t factor was my recovery time, never having done one before, and since documentation was sorely lacking. The only thing available is a list of symptoms, and then a declaration: it is what it is. Nobody says shit about how you recover nor how long, so I was unable to factor this into my plan! Talk about being misguided.

I tried to come back to work, on a partial basis at first. I had gotten enough rest at home during my leave to feel up to the challenge. Boy was I wrong. The only thing that had changed was my level of rest. The stress, the burnout, the work and the environment had not changed at all.

Unfortunately, I was still thinking that I could power-through this minor inconvenience. If only I could kick my own butt enough to move ahead, all would be well. This is what I knew. This is all I knew. Ignorance is not bliss, not by a fucking long shot.

So I went back to work. Jolly, helpful and hopelessly doomed.

In my favour, my subconscious was a lot smarter than me. It would simply shut me down every hour or so. I would fall asleep, bang! No amount of concentration would make a difference, in fact, the higher concentration, the faster I’d fall asleep. This got to be seriously annoying, both to me and to my co-workers. Unless I’d pack massive amounts of sugar and pop, I’d fall asleep in minutes even during the most important meetings.

Furthermore, I was outright dangerous. In fact I remember, driving in to work once, I looked both ways at a stop sign, and saw no oncoming traffic. A little voice from my subconscious told me to look again. There it was, a car not 100 feet away that I had not seen a second ago. It obviously had been there before from the position in the lane, but it simply had not registered.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and got a C-PAP machine. Other than waking me up in the middle of the night with massive stomach cramps, this did nothing worthwhile for me. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure as well a few years earlier. It’s unclear whether the apnea caused the high-pressure, or vice-versa, and whether either caused or was caused by stress. In any event, the sleep problems I was having were very directly related to the depression. The harder I tried to reintegrate, the worse the sleep.

But I was pulling my weight at the office. Those I worked with did appreciate the good job I was doing. Go figure.

I tried to change my way of thinking about the job, the work, and my responsibilities to and from the company. To this effect, I made a pact with one of the senior managers to meet once a week. These sessions were very useful and edifying for me, maybe I’ll expand in another blog entry. The jury is still out on how truly effective they were, since I was laid off a few months later anyway.

Throughout my reintegrating my job those people that knew me from before noticed that I had changed. It was probably a bad thing that I didn’t have any staff. The motivation I got out of being a manager was conspicuously absent. My cynicism was out of control and my sarcasm ran deep and vengeful. My professionalism took on a new face, cold, even unfeeling at best, uncaring at worst. Suddenly I found myself looking out for Number 1, whereas this had never entered my vocabulary before.

Recovery was very much dependant on changing my own outlook. I was partially successful, but in hindsight way too damaged to continue the fight. To use navy terms, I was patched up by welding some steel plating over holes in a ripped open hull. Half my deck guns were out of commission and the bridge was an unholy mess. I should have gone back to dry-dock.

The sleeping was a signal, and my attitude was a symptom. Getting laid off was simply the best thing that could happen. It allowed me to be myself and with myself for a little while, unencumbered by the stresses of work. I would regain composure and start on the road to recovery.

TV: November Sweeping

TV update after the November sweeps.

Looks like Martha is getting her sorry ass canned. “You’re FIRED!” Ha!

True to form, CBS respected the termination sequence for Threshold:

  1. Bump it from Fridays to Tuesdays,

  2. Skip a week or two,

  3. Lose it and don’t tell anyone where it is,

  4. Blam! It’s a goner.
Too bad really, I was starting to like this show, besides Carla Gugino is a babe.

That’s the second show she’s had nuked out from under her. I find it puzzling that she doesn’t get the draw necessary to keep a show alive. In case you are wondering, the other show was Karen Sisco.

Same thing happened with Night Stalker, although I was no longer watching this one. And I’m not sure Head Cases even made it half way around the track before, thankfully, being put out of it’s misery. Hot Properties is gone too.

Stuff I will no longer be watching, whether or not they get cancelled: Ghost Whisperer and ReGenesis. Apparently ReGenesis is racking up all sorts of kudos and award nominations. Too bad I don’t like any of the actors, nor the characters, nor the premise.

I have added Andromeda to my list. I’m catching the old episodes on Space daily at 12 or 7 and the new episodes on Saturdays at 6pm.

This isn't much, but I want to follow heavier posts with lighter ones.

It's a balance thing. Wink, wink.