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Friday, September 30, 2011

They've extended the project, it must be Tuesday

When we started this project at the beginning of July, we were told it would last 2-4 weeks, or 4-6 weeks, depending on who you were. Four weeks seemed to be the concensus, though. Those four weeks passed 8 weeks ago. For the last two months, we've been getting extensions one week at a time. In an industry where it already is quite challenging to make any kind of strategic plan, since you really don't know what will happen from one month to the next, reducing that uncertainty to week to week makes it even worse. Pretty much 8 Tuesdays in a row, we've gotten an email or, sometimes, a live visit from the associate letting us know that they have work for us the next week if we are available. Nice to have work, but one-week planning sucks my butt. Fucking carnies working the county fair circuit have more predictability in their lives than we do on this project.

Want to make it worse? The market has exploded, and there are projects everywhere. Agencies are scrambling all of a sudden because there are way more projects than there are temps to staff them. Pay rates are creeping up because of the staffing shortages, and anybody who wants work can find it. I have no doubt that the Garden Gnome, the Bridge Troll and Tall Skinny Dude have all found work.  Moby and the Hobo probably have found work, too. Things are hopping. The need for warm bodies trumps incompetence, every time.

In light of all this, what to do? Having stayed long past the original time projections of the project, it is considered by many temps to be legitimate to bail. Agencies, as you might imagine, have a different view and think you should ride the Titanic down into the icy depths. Obviously, it's time to lie. Sticking with a dying project just long enough to miss other projects is not a viable business model. One of our number already has bailed. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Frankly, my mother is looking poorly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Speaking of Jason

The project that gave birth to this blog has come back to life. Seriously, I don't have the energy right now to link to the entries about the early days of this venture, so peruse May and June archives if you are new to this. In any event, that project has come back to life. I'm not on it, mind you, but I have fond memories, in a warped, twisted sort of way.

This project is like Jason

I know I have always favored the swordfish metaphor, but this project is starting to resemble Jason or Freddie Krueger. The market is cooking, there are projects everywhere, and this project just won't die. I swear to God it is going to last just long enough for me to miss any chance at all at getting on another project.

Check that shit!

Yeah, we hit 4,000 while I wasn't looking. No Canadians, but I have a special corner of hell planned for those folks if they don't get with the program.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seriously, Canada, you piss me off

As we close in on 4,000 hits, I have several items to note. First, I now have four followers, meaning one more and I can have a basketball team with a guy on the bench to use as a sub. Not that I know who any of these people are, but a virtual basketball team, anyway. Second, I ain't got no fucking Canadians visiting this blog. We buy your oil, the least you could do in return is visit this blog. Don't make me get out of this chair.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eat this

OK, got a little bit of left-field action here. I was listening to the radio today while going about my work when the news referenced a story that hit about 97 buttons for me. Apparently, some magazine -- I don't know which one, maybe Gastro-pompous-jackass Monthly -- ranked the cities of U.S. based on their appeal to "foodies." First of all, I consider the term "foodie" to be one of the stupidest ever -- fucking everyone is a foodie. "Oh, I love to eat good food." No shit. With the exception of that one Olsen twin -- that chick really needs a cheeseburger -- and a couple other chicks who either won't eat or think they need to puke it back up, pretty much everybody likes to eat. Foodies will claim they are more experimental or whatever, but who cares? People eat what they like, they try new stuff and accept or reject it, whatever -- they eat because if they don't they die. Claiming to be a foodie is like claiming to be an "airie." Oooh, I love to breathe, I love trying new air, I can't wait to breathe air that other people won't breathe. Fuck you. You breathe because you have to, or you'll die. And that's why you eat. Why on earth would you voluntarily pick a label that will expose you to ridicule? Most people think "foodie" is a synonym for "pompous jackass."  So shove that "foodie" rating up your ass. Later, you can crap it out and call yourself a shitty.

But Gastro-pompous-jackass Monthly didn't stop there. They described the types of restaurants that earned each city its place onthe foodie list. DC made it for its "fabulous" vegetarian and Ethiopian restaurants. Wow. That makes this a two-parter. First of all, for those of us with a memory that reaches that far back, "Ethiopian food" is an oxymoron. I remember Live Aid and Band Aid and all that other aid shit and it was all because Ethiopians were starving to death. I assume things have improved since then. Nonetheless, I recall well that the military referred to MREs -- Meals, Ready to Eat -- as "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians." So Ethiopian cuisine starts at a deficit with me. Pile on top of that the fact that an "authentic" Ethiopian meal involves everybody shoving their hands into the communal food supply, and I'm done. I don't care how fucking good the food is, I ain't eating it. At least not with anybody else.

Which brings us to vegetarian restaurants. First of all, I don't understand the urge to argue with 2 million years of evolution that brought us to the point that we can eat anything we can lay hands on -- the only one of God's creatures who can claim that distinction. Long term, people who argue with God lose. I'm just sayin'. Unfortunately, I live (or at least work) in a city with a disproportionate share of vegetarians and, worse, vegans. Every time they order lunch for us on a project, they have to order one or two vegan lunches (dinner, whatever) and you can always spot the sucker -- he's the pasty-faced, scrawny-assed bastard in the back who looks too weak to get up and get his meal. Plus, he looks like his bones are about to snap because he has trouble finding non-animal sources of calcium.

Anyway, it would appear that Gastro-pompous-jackass Monthly thinks DC is a top-ten "foodie" city because of restaurants I would never eat at, patronized by people who call themselves "foodies" and thus are people I am more likely to drive up onto the sidewalk to remove from the gene pool than to break bread with. Kind of a let down. Maybe Damn That's a Burger Magazine will come out with a list I can use.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No. 1 with a bullet

Somebody committed the cardinal sin of Temp Town today. I went into the kitchen, found the evidence, went back to my review area and made that statement. Of the five of us, two others are long-time temps, and both knew what I meant. Someone, with total disregard for the sensibilities, comfort or health of anyone else in the area, had re-heated a fish meal in the microwave.

This is no small offense. I have seen review spaces evacuated because of the stench of reheated fish. I have seen temps damn near come to blows over this issue. Personally, I would find it difficult to blame a person who killed a fish reheater. That's just nasty shit, and no punishment is too harsh.

Alas, despite being smacked in the face by the obiously recent fish stench, I was not able to identify the perpetrator, and so the person still walks the earth. Sometimes, there's just no damn justice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Are we done here?

The answer is, just about. This project, long on life support, appears to be set to end on Friday. Naturally, there is nothing starting next week that any of us can find. And, of course, this project has lasted just long enough to keep us from getting on another project with the same agency that is adding people starting in the middle of this week. We're not done here, so we can't join up there. Translation: we're fucked. Not sure what to do about that. Looks like I'll be robbing liquor stores next week. Downside: it's illegal, you could go to jail, and you could get shot by an ambitious clerk. Upside: You can set your own hours, the proceeds are tax-free, and you can preclude getting shot by an ambitious clerk by shooting the sonofabitch first. Downside: robbery becomes capital murder. Bummer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Almost a Stripes moment

One of my favorite moments in the movie Stripes -- I know you saw it, so please don't lie to me -- is when they are out in the rain and yuck and Bill Murray suggests it is a bad day for a hike as it is the cold and flu season. Coincidentally, the French-speaking commenter who is willing to make up for Canada's lameness also commented on a post in which I mentioned The Boss's lament, which applies to temps everywhere, "you don't work and you don't get paid." Maybe this ain't Darlington County, but this is Temp Town, and winter's coming, which means a whole lot of temps will be thinking about The Boss's admonition. Long story short, temps who get sick this winter will come to work anyway because they can't afford to stay home and not get paid. They will, because of our cramped work spaces, make other temps sick, who will come to work for the reasons previously stated and make other temps sick, until eventually some sick-ass temp tries to infect me and I have to get medieval on him. Seriously, I can't believe that in DC there isn't some jackhole scientist studying the common cold, the flu or some such shit who realizes that temps are the perfect laboratory. Fucking contagious diseases R us. Should start any day now. I would cheerfully accept some federal grant money to study why I don't get sick under these conditions. Mostly, I think, it is because I make it clear to any sick fuck who comes near me that I will cheerfully kill them if they come close enough to infect me. But NIH might not think that is a legitimate influence on disease vectors, so grant money might not be forthcoming.

Living in the sticks has its moments

I live pretty far outside of DC. My neighborhood is surrounded by farms and woods and stuff like that, including right past my back yard. Well, it's a cool evening and the windows are open. No shit, I just now heard what sounded like a mountain lion, twice. Probably more like a bobcat or some other smallish wild cat (a lynx? I don't know what the hell we have around here, I just know it wasn't a fox, and we're up to our asses in foxes). Pretty cool. I'm also going to wait awhile to walk the dogs. And by the way, one dog is family, two dogs is dogs.

We are THIS close, Canada!

Got my first foreign language comment, offering to log in to the blog from Canada next time he/she is in Montreal. Fortunately, the commenter also provided a translation, as my French sucks and my translation led me to believe that I should go to a Motel 6 in Montreal, smear my body with cream cheese and await the woman of my dreams. I was close. In any event, while the offer is kind, I want a goddamn Canadian. Don't you people have contract attorneys up there?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And STILL Canada abstains

Closing in on 4,000 hits (OK, it's pathetic, but it's what I've got, OK?) and still no Canadians. Latvia, Russia, Romania, all in double digits. Switzerland, Germany, India and a couple countries I can't remember, representing. Sure, it's probably spambots, but who knows? And you're telling me Canada can't even come up with a spambot? I'm developing a serious chip on my shoulder for our neighbors to the north.

I may kill this fucking project myself

Sometimes, a project just won't die. Long after it has ceased to be interesting -- scratch that, it was never interesting, let's not kid ourselves. Try this -- long after anyone was willing to continue doing this particular thing for a living, the project nonetheless refuses to die. Often, a swordfish with lots of life left is a good thing. That's great when it looks like a project might go on for months. A little security is a good thing. But when the swordfish is just a zombie, staggering from week to week, and you find out each week about Wednesday that yeah, you have a job next week, that's a serious pain in my ass. Naturally, there is a big project starting next week, same agency that is running this project and, you guessed it, this project is going to run one more week. Just long enough to keep us off the other project, which should go until the end of the year, with more overtime. Now do you see why I hate this business? Before you start in with the "do something else, then" BS, please refer to the title of the blog. If I want to bitch, I'll bitch. You just shut up and read.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Contract attorneys bore me

Not gonna lie, the project I'm on -- 5 people, at the firm, waiting for the ax to fall on this zombie swordfish -- is not good blog material. I don't know why you're here, but things are about to get different. What I find is that if I wait for my project to provide good material, I post maybe once a week. This is a disservice to my readers. If I knew who my readers were, I probably wouldn't like them -- let's face it, most of them are contract attorneys -- but they are my readers and I must give them a reason to come here, even if that reason is only to see their fellow contract attorneys abused. As an aside, I believe that most of my readers are the "good" contract attorneys, the ones who are conscientious and work hard, try to do it right, as opposed to, say the Bridge Troll. So don't be surprised if not all my posts have to do with contract attorneys. It could just be shit that occurs to me while doing contract attorney work, which technically qualifies under the "Actual Temp Thoughts" category, so if you don't like it, refer to the title of the blog.

Welcome to The Ghost!

Gained a third follower recently, screen name Obake. At first I thought it had something to do with "Wake and bake," but I realized it is Japanese for "ghost." Always good to have someone with an appreciation for Japanese culture, if not Far East culture writ large. So, welcome! Now, where are those fucking Canadians?

What's next, locusts?

A couple weeks ago, we had the earthquake. That was exciting, and actually gave me some peace and quiet, since I was the only one on the project who did not flee the building. My understanding is that buildings rarely collapse in minor earthquakes, but that windows break and people one the street are likely to be killed by falling broken glass. Plus, I had to pee. So I stayed.

Then we had Hurricane Irene. Granted, it was a candyass hurricane, and actually was at best a tropical storm, probably a tropical depression by the time it came through here, but we got one. It rained a lot.

Then, a couple days later, it rained a lot again. We got the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, and it rained alot again. And again. And again. It rained for three days straight. I considered building an ark, but then realized I really only needed a small boat to save the animals and people I actually care about. So I abandoned plans to build an ark and decided I would steal a nice 30-foot sailboat, maybe in Annapolis, if it became necessary. Turned out to be a false alarm there, too, although I had to take some weird routes home because flooding closed a number of roads during the week.

This is not really going anywhere -- we're essentially dealing with a weatherlogue. Like when you call your grandparents and they talk about how the weather has been recently. Mine don't because they're all dead now, but they all lived well into my 30s and so I have some experience with this. I assume others' grandparents are the same. I don't care, but I assume.

In any event, my conclusion is this: no way in hell, given this appocalyptic pattern, we get through this winter without a monster snow storm. How does this relate to contract attorneys? We won't be able to get to work, and like The Boss said in "Darlington County," you don't work, you don't get paid. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What could go wrong?

So we're at the firm now, the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. No worries, right? After all, it's not like they cut us off from the outside world, is it? Oh, wait. We're in a part of the building that you have to leave to get cell phone service. And we were told on day one that we could "check personal email periodically," but that "internet use can be monitored." Not that it is, mind you, just that it can be. Of course, everybody knows it "can be," but throwing that out there is just designed to inject paranoia. Combine that with the fact that internet use beyond checking email often results in "Page Cannot Be Displayed" only feeds the paranoia. So no cell phone, limited internet and the threat that just trying to go beyond checking email will be "monitored" leaves us where? Yeah, cut off from the civilized world. All in all, the only plus here is the associate from the firm stays in his office instead of sitting in an office a few feet away, so nobody really fucks with us. Weird, when you consider that he's still in the same building. But I digress.

So here we are, in an environment where we no longer really know what the rules are (sure, they can "monitor" our internet use, but do they care so long as we get our work done? Not clear. Is spending too much time in the kitchen, the bathroom, or whereever going to be a problem? Who's watching? Who cares? Not clear.) and no one knows what the consequences of breaking the unknown rules are. I hate this shit. And on top of all that, we have no idea whether Friday is the last day. So here we sit, trying desperately not to do anything to get fired when we have no idea what it is that we might do that might get us fired, and we might get fired in 48 hours anyway.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

No good can come of this

The project continues, against all odds, but it has taken an ominous turn: Tuesday, we shift locations from the agency to the actual law firm. This is a bad thing. Reasonable minds may differ, but it has been my experience that, like the forward pass in football, there are only three possible outcomes, and two of them are bad. You can make it through until the project actually ends -- this is always the best you can hope for, and it truly is a neutral outcome at best. It doesn't land you another gig, it doesn't keep you working in any way. It just means you were one of the last guys fired. Realistically, this is the best outcome on any project, whether it is at the firm, the agency or whereever. And, like at the firm, you can be fired (early) because you suck. You're slow, your accuracy makes it clear you don't understand the case and possibly do not know your ass from a hole in the ground, you don't really understand English that well. Whatever. You suck, you're fired. That can happen anywhere.

Working at the firm, though, introduces a third option. You can get fired because someone more important in Temp Town (hint: everyone in Temp Town is more important than the temps) has complained about you. A secretary doesn't like you being in the former file room near their desk, A legal assistant thinks you're too loud, hellsomebody wants to prove they have more power than a temp and decides to get one fired. Doesn't matter. Once you're at the firm, it's on the table. Watch you back.

Friday, September 2, 2011

And still no Canadians

Welcome, Comrades! We have a page view from Russia! Also, the Netherlands has joined the Eff You family (not as big as the federal family, but we're trying), so bring it, Hans Brinker! Alas, still no hits from our neighbor to the north, so fuck Canada.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Time flies when you're fighting The Man

Wow, it's been a week since I posted? That was fast. Guess I've been busy or something. Probably or something. Anyway, the zombie swordfish just keeps on going. We're been told we'll be back again next week, but we'll be over at the firm's offices. No good can come of this. Someone over there will resent letting the garbagemen into the living room. It happens every time, sometimes with very unpleasant results. But that's for another time. Today, we talk about radio, current events and pop culture touchstones.

Work with me here, people. Temps spend a lot of time with headphones on. Some folks listen to talk radio, some to music radio, others to Ipods or whatever. I tend to mix it up, but usually radio of one ilk or another. That's the radio part. So I heard on the radio a couple of tidbits on the news that I found fascinating, especially in combination, all having to do with Libya. First, the rebels (are you still rebels if you've already won? Doesn't that make you The Man?) announced that they were on the verge of locating and capturing Moammar Khadafy/Ghadafy/Justfuckindaffy. At the same time, The Rebels/The Man (I am reasonably confident that the Libyan people are brushing up on the lyrics to "Won't Get Fooled Again" as we speak) extended by another week their deadline for Khadafy loyalist troops to surrender. Seemed incongruous to me, but I'm not real experienced in this whole overthrow-the-government thing. In response to the rebels announcements, Khadafy released a statement that he would never surrender and would "set Libya ablaze" rather than giving up. That's the current events part.

Enter the pop culture touchstone. Khadafy's battle-to-the-end, never-say-die response makes it clear: the dude is totally acting out "Red Dawn." Sure, he was ousted by his own people, not Cuban and Soviet paratroopers, and he's no high schooler, but he is absolute seeing himself as the Patrick Swayze character, leading his plucky band of heroes in their fight against the invaders. It's just a matter of time before we see footage of Khadafy standing on a shattered tank, one fist in the air, shouting "Wolverines!"