- The other day at work I was suddenly told I had to go to a “labor law” class. They brought in additional workers to help cover shifts for an hour. All very confusing since they typically don’t spring for additional staff for anything. Anyway, the “class” consisted of someone from HR reading sections of the labor law act and telling us that unions rarely deliver on their promises. Ahhh… I get it now – suddenly the hospital is worried about union organizing. Sure enough, after consulting the official breakroom gossip pipeline it turns out that some folks are trying to spark some union organization. Also, the house just passed the PRO act which would undo states (like mine) right to work laws. Right now, even if a union forms at my hospital, it’s my choice to join or not. The PRO act would force me to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Additionally the bill would force employers to turn over employees’ private information—including cell phone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules—to union organizers. Realistically I don’t think it has a chance of passing the senate, but you never know. I suddenly find myself conflicted about unions. In my previous life in the corporate world, I was stanchly anti-union. They tend to be massively corrupt, drive up manufacturing costs, and generally stand in the way of innovation, flexibility, and time to market. They’re ginormous political machines, lobbying to feed at the public trough. Look at the current ridiculousness with the teachers unions. Can you honestly tell me that they’re looking out for the best interest of the kids? It’s somehow safe for the poor schmuck at Walmart to go to work, but not for someone to stand in front of a handful of kids? As I’ve said previously, the way we teach kids has barely evolved in the last 50 years primarily due to teachers unions reluctance to change. But I digress… The hospital world is a mix of union and non-union. As a semi-libertarian, I’ve always believed in the free markets ability to set wages in response to availability and demand. I never thought about it much because my previous profession was one in extremely high demand and a very small labor pool. Wages were high. Other professions with a glut of applicants paid a much smaller wage. Fast forward and I find myself in the opposite scenario. My town has two hospitals. With very little competition, they have no incentive to pay higher wages. In a big city with many hospitals they do have to offer competitive wages. So at this late stage in my career, I would have said if a union can force higher wages or at least better patient ratios, fine by me. But then the China plague hit and I honestly don’t know how the hospital will stay in business. They’re hemorrhaging cash and have cancelled every capital improvement project that was on the books. It will be years before they recover. I don’t see how potential union demands right now helps anyone? Sigh. I don’t think there’s any good answer right now. I should probably just move to the clean energy sector. Biden has promised those will be the good paying union jobs.
- Barbeque is a noun, not a verb. Today it’s dumping snow and I am cooking up some barbeque in the form of baby back ribs on the smoker. And in proper insurrectionist form, we are having a bunch of friends over. Suck on that, lock down states. P.S. please don’t tell the high priest of Covid, Fauci. I don’t want the secret Covid police coming to my door.
- I casually look at new trucks from time to time. At some point that day will come when it’s time for a final vehicle. Right now the super popular truck in the overland market is the Toyota Tacoma. Peruse through the Instagram feeds and you see plenty of very cool, tricked out Tacomas. I look at that and think, hmm it would be kinda fun to build out a truck from scratch like that. And then I read this article in Outside magazine imploring people not to do that to these trucks. I had no idea about the gear ratio limitations and payload weight issues. Coolness over functionality. I would have easily fallen into that trap. Because, you know, it’s all about how you look on Instagram.
- Here’s an account to follow that posts very cool maps.
- The Biden administration will push a massive high speed rail initiative as part of it’s build back better infrastructure plan. All built with good paying union jobs of course. Perhaps they should check in with California to see how their high speed rail project is going? It’s been more than a decade and costs have gone from the original $33 billion to more than $100 billion. And for what? A single track that will run from Bakersfield to Merced that has yet to see a single train, and initial testing is still six to seven years away. But I’m sure the federal version will go much smoother.
Song of the day: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
- On a recent two day road trip, it dawned on me just how behind the technology curve the automobile industry is. With the notable exception of Tesla, the interior of the modern vehicle hasn’t changed in a decade. For the most part every car still uses the same knobs, buttons, and analog gages they’ve always used. The most aggravating lack of progress has been around the phone. The modern smart phone has been in existence for 14 years. The smartphone controls everything in your life – navigation, music, your wallet, contacts, and communication. It’s a required piece of equipment for virtually every human being in the modern world. And what have today’s vehicles done to integrate this vital piece of hardware everyone uses? Nothing. They’ve added a USB port. Ever single driver today is using their phone for directions and communicating while driving. And you still have to go buy a third party plastic phone holder of some sort with a suction cup to mount somewhere. Cities are still having to pass “hands free” laws because making a phone call still isn’t nicely integrated into the vehicle. How hard could it possibly be to design a phone holder and charger that’s a seamless part of the dash? And as Tesla has so capably proven, there is zero reason why vehicles can’t have a smart screen display showing every possible bit of data about your car as well as, gasp, interfacing with your phone. Ignoring the electric part, Tesla continues to highlight what dinosaurs the auto industry have become.
- Speaking of electric, I started the series “Long Way Up” with Ewan McGregor. It’s a continuation of the classic Long Way Round and Long Way Down series of long distance motorcycle trips. The twist this time is that they are on all electric motorcycles traveling from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. I’m only on episode three, but spoiler alert, it’s not going very well. Let’s just put it this way… they have a giant truck following them with a massive diesel generator to keep them charged. As I said in a previous post, we have a ways to go with electric charging infrastructure.
- And while on the subject of motorcycles and phones, I have a decision to make. My new motorcycle has Apple Car Play integrated into it’s touch screen dash (which is more modern than most vehicles produced today). The problem is that I have never entered the Apple ecosystem. For whatever reason Honda chose not to support Android Auto. So for me to fully utilize all the fancy wiz-bang features on the motorcycle, I have to switch to an iPhone. Except, breaking news, literally just a day ago Honda announced support for Android Auto starting in Europe. So, do I hold out for eventual integration or switch over to Apple today? Sigh, why can’t everything just work?
- Who knew you can order completely customizable Oreo cookies?
- A violent BLM protest/riot injured two police officers in NYC yesterday. The mob also attacked and injured a journalist because the crowd started shouting “he’s a cop”. I’m not clear on the state of things now – do we still care about riots, or is that not a thing anymore?
- The recall Gavin Newsom has obtained enough signatures to require a recall vote. This should be interesting.
- We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far, with nothing but a bit of rain. I was super excited to get the new motorcycle out for it’s first ride. And… we’ve gotten 3+ inches of snow the last few days. I suppose I’ll have to spend my day planning out trips for this summer. I think the goal is to see how many quirky roadside attractions I can visit.
Song of the day: Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Live)
- I was thinking about the apparent lack of awareness politicians on both sides have of the pulse of the people they’re supposed to represent. They tend to rush to solve the wrong problem because they need to be seen as “doing something” about whatever’s in the news. We just had a large mob of very angry people rally to express their dissatisfaction with something that devolved (as mobs do) into violence. Politicians rush to “fix” the end result of the situation – we need to call in the national guard, they must condemn all violence, we need to put people on no-fly-lists, we need to impeach, etc… While all of that may or may not need to be addressed, I don’t hear anyone on the left asking the real question – what happened to make all those people so angry and what could be done to address that? It reminded me of the Prisoners Dilemma. Two prisoners in solitary confinement, no way to communicate with each other. If one snitches on the other, he goes free and the other serves his sentence. If both snitch, both serve their sentence. If neither snitches (because snitches wind up in ditches), both serve reduced sentences. Politicians (especially today) seem to be wired to always believe politics is a zero sum game. The only way I can win is to ensure someone else loses. We’ve entered the era of scorched earth politics. Tearing up a state of the union speech or driving pointless impeachments to score points is more important than asking what’s more beneficial for everyone. Both sides are guilty of this… Republicans just really suck at it. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to a point where folks recognize if both sides accept a little pain (compromise), everyone benefits in the long run? (Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical. Never going to happen.)
- I had to laugh. A couple of days ago Tucker Carlson had a line that made me snort out loud: “Once Donald Trump leaves the scene and it’s time to divvy up the spoils of the United States Treasury to begin the great piñata party of 2021…” And sure enough, yesterday Biden rolls out a $2 trillion dollar stimulus spending plan. This will be followed by another $1.3 – $2 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. It’s gotten absurd to the point there’s no reason to even fight it anymore. We’re printing money out of thin air. Hell, if we’re already printing trillions, we may as well print another four or five. Give every American with a drivers license a brand new car. And pay for their insurance. And create a guaranteed auto buyback program for all the existing vehicles and loans. Can you even imagine the stimulus this would bring to country? It would resurrect the failing auto industries, create new manufacturing jobs for the entire supply chain, improve our air quality, put more money in the pocket of struggling families by getting rid of a car payment, and help the most disenfranchised be able to get a job. I think that’s a damn fine idea. I guess you couldn’t require a drivers license. That would be discriminatory. Anyway, put me down for a Tesla Cybertruck.
- I was reasonably productive yesterday with planning. I resurrected the Bullet Journal and starting looking into some travel ideas. I agree that putting (figurative) pen to paper does help organize thoughts. Next up will be working on the daily routine and thinking about hobbies.
- For dinner last night I made a deluxe grill cheese and tomato soup. Thick sourdough, two kinds of cheese, bacon, grilled onions, sliced tomato and avocado. Probably a 2,500 calorie meal, but worth it. Now I just need to go run approximately 50 miles to break even.
- We watched the History of Swear Words last night. Pretty good. Nicholas Cage was able to poke fun at himself. Nice to see actors who are comfortable enough to do that. It’s said that swearing is a sign of intelligence. If so, I should be a rocket scientist.
- A list of red flags in job interviews. Reminded me of an answer I got frequently when I was a hiring manager at Microsoft. I’d ask the candidate how they would find out the answer to something and I’d frequently get the response: “I’d Google it”. Uhmm… you’re interviewing at Microsoft, are you really that dense? If you’re going say that, at least make the case why one search engine is better than the other. That I’d respect. This is beside the issue of being so unaware that if all I needed was someone who could “Google” something, I could hire a random street person (or sixth grader) and be just as successful. This of course was back in the day when Microsoft was the Evil Empire and Google’s code of conduct slogan was “Don’t be evil”.
Song of the day: Meredith Brooks ( Live) Lilith Fair- Bitch 1997