The Changing Workplace

Went to our parking office where I work to discuss the parking.  Our office is starting to reopen after over 18 months of working from home (with the exception of a couple of key people who had to be onsite the entire time).

I don’t think they liked what I was saying to them, and didn’t appear to have thought about it, but much of what I’ve seen indicates that employees liked working from home, for the most part, and would very much like to continue doing so.  I don’t think management was crazy about the idea initially, but as the pandemic has dragged on, and as they found that their employees were doing a good job while not sitting at a desk in the office, they began warming to the idea.  I’m not just referring to my company; news headlines have mentioned more and more that the face of work is likely to change.  That’s certainly what I’m seeing and I doubt our company is alone in that.

Sure, we’re talking business offices, not things like restaurants and such that require onsite personnel.  But there are a LOT of businesses across the US (and world) and I think this idea is gaining traction.

The problem is, I don’t think the parking industry has considered their role in it.  Most place I’ve worked, it’s pretty simple – pay for a month’s parking and park as often as you want during that month.

But if people only come into the office occasionally, they aren’t going to want to pay a full month’s parking fee to only use the garage for maybe 10 days/month.  And if the parking industry doesn’t evolve to confront that issue, they may well find their revenues, which dropped so much during the lockdowns, don’t rebound.  People will find other solutions on those few days they come in to the office.

I had suggested the parking people create a half month rate in some way, that allowed for a set number of days of parking each month (but not specifying which days they would be).  I realize they may have difficulty finding a way to implement such a thing with their existing systems and procedures, but I really believe they would do well to do so.  If businesses go back to the usual ‘everyone in the office pretty much every day’ scenario, they can drop that partial month scheme and return to just one set parking fee.

To be fair, the person I was talking to was not ‘the boss’ and could not make such a decision on their own, and I realize that.  Still it will be interesting to see if her higher-ups pay attention or not.

People tend not to listen to me when I mention such things, but usually they eventually arrive at the same conclusion I did and have to act, though rarely acknowledging they should have simply listened to me in the first place.  Almost invariably I don’t directly benefit from these things I bring up, so they have no reason to think it’s merely self-interest, and I always provide them with valid reasons to support my contentions.

We’ll see what happens.

Movie Recommendation

If you’re like me, you still enjoy “kid’s” films if they’re well done – many animated films fall into this category (Frozen, Despicable Me, most Disney princess movies, etc.).

A few years ago, a movie titled “Abominable” came out, though I did not see it at the time.  I made a note to check it out on Netflix later, and it came up in my queue last week.  Charming little movie, and with a clever twist on Post Credit Scenes.  As an animated, the usual post credit scenes aren’t that workable, but instead they did still shot scenes (like postcards) that are scattered throughout the credits (at least a dozen of them) and they give you a “what came after the end of the movie” glimpse for the characters.

Here’s the summary blurb I found for it in an internet search:

After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family. But to do so, they must stay one step ahead of a wealthy financier and a determined zoologist who want to capture the beast for their own gain.

Quotes I Like

“No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future.”

– Hugh B. Brown, Dec. 1969

[In a internet search, I see this quote (or variations thereof) attributed to various people, but this appears to be the earliest occurrence.  However, he might have been quoting someone himself or he may be the author of it.]

Do People Really Agonize Over This Stuff?

I read about “girl’s books” and “boy’s books” (or movies).  I hear about people objecting to non-white males being the heroes.  I hear about people objecting because the female lead isn’t drop-dead gorgeous with big boobs and wearing sexually-enticing clothes, regardless of weather, circumstance or practicality.

I must not have gotten the memo about acting that stupid regarding things.  Books and movies?  Is it interesting (to me)?  Then read/watch it.  I don’t care if the lead is male or female, white or non-white.  I don’t care if they aren’t conventionally attractive.

When I watch TV or movies, I’m not worrying about the ethnicity of the characters.  Is the actor/actress doing a good job?  Fine.  That’s all that matters. The only time their ethnicity might be an issue is if I can’t understand what they’re saying.  Beyond that, who cares?

Maybe I’m just too lazy for all this nonsense, but it seems like way too many people waste way too much time and energy getting up in arms about unimportant things.

Have You Noticed?

Everyone was complaining about the cost of cable TV so they all began cutting the cord to lose that expense, and started streaming freebies online.  Well the media companies couldn’t have that – too much lost revenue – so they quickly locked up all their content, packaged it and are now selling it to people item by item.  Only, when you add up all the subscription costs to the various streaming services many/most people end up paying as much or more than they did for cable.

Looks to me like big media won this round of ‘financial subjugation of the masses’.

Cut to the Chase

I don’t know if it originated with movies or not, but many of us think in those terms – skip the boring parts and jump ahead to the good stuff.

One of the things I’ve noticed with beginning writers is that they try to give too much unimportant detail, both in the story and when they try to do a short summary.

We don’t need to see every single detail of someone getting up and going to work:

He rose from his king-size bed promptly when the electric alarm went off at 6:45 am.  He put on his slippers and walked to the bathroom.  After using the toilet, he got out the toothpaste and his toothbrush.  He squeezed a ribbon of toothpaste on the toothbrush and thoroughly scrubbed his teeth, the upper and lower, keeping it up for exactly two minutes to make sure they were clean.  When he finished, he put away the toothbrush and toothpaste, and got out his electric razor.  After plugging it into the electrical outlet, he methodically shaved the stubble that had grown on his face overnight.

I don’t know about you, but at that point, I’M ready to go back to bed, bored senseless by reading this.  This guy isn’t doing anything unusual, and most people are familiar with these activities, so they don’t need to be spelled out in detail unless there is some specific reason tied to them that will soon make itself known.

Similarly, when they try to do a “short summary” of the story, they want to tell you the entire story so as to pique the reader’s interest.  So we get something like this:

A space ship is attacked by another space ship that is led by the evil Darth Vader.  He takes the Princess prisoner not knowing she snuck the secret plans off her ship when he wasn’t looking.  The plans end up on a desert planet, being carried by a droid, who goes seeking someone to deliver them to.  Instead small desert scavengers capture him and take him to a young man who desperately wants to leave home and go to the flying academy.

Recognize it?  That’s the boring version of Star Wars.  If I’d read that as an introductory summary of the story, I would not have much inclination to see the movie.  I’d figure if the writer couldn’t even make the summary interesting, how could they make the movie interesting.

My point isn’t that detail isn’t important, just that it should have a purpose and accomplish something.  Describing the setting when someone lands on an alien planet helps the reader to visualize what you see when you wrote the story.  But they don’t need all those details in the story summary.

Think in terms of if you were writing an episode blurb for TV Guide – you’ve got maybe 10-20 words in which to give an idea of the story, and hopefully make it interesting enough so that people will want to watch that episode.  “Captain X crashes on an alien planet and must struggle to survive.”  That’s all I need to have some idea of what it is about.  If I’m not the slightest bit interested in Captain X, alien planets, space operas, struggles for survival or space ship crashes, then I know I don’t want to watch (or read a story about) it.

If you wanted to add a tad more suspense to it, you could tack on:  “But the friendly natives aren’t what they seem.”

Hopefully this helps someone in their writing and in their story summaries.  Sometimes less really is more, and too much can be overkill.

Unbelievable!

We’re over 18 months into a pandemic that could easily have been stopped in its tracks by now thanks to vaccines developed so quickly.

Instead, like drunk drivers who always seem to kill others but never themselves, the unvaccinated adamantly refuse to show any concern for public well-being.  (And, no, I’m not including in that assessment those who have a valid reason why they can’t be vaccinated.)

I keep trying to think well of mankind, but there seem to be far too many members of that group determined that I not be able to.

I swear, I don’t know how

some of my coworkers survive out in the wild that is called ‘life’.

No, you can’t take any food you find in the shared office fridge unless you brought it

No, the overflowing toilet won’t magically be fixed unless you report it

No, that spill on the counter/floor/in microwave won’t be cleaned up by your mom – she doesn’t work here

And, no, you can’t prop open locked doors so you have access without a key. It’s locked for a reason and triggers an alarm when propped open.

I know some of them are young, and maybe away from home for the first time, but even some of their older colleagues don’t have a firm grasp of such simple concepts.