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Sunday, September 30, 2012

I find this amusing

I suppose this is a bit off topic, but I think the election season is indeed relevant to contract attorneys, since the election results will have a definite effect on our business. I will let you partisans argue which way would be better, but I find this sequence interesting.

First, we have a Barry website with this:



Then, it changes to this:


Isn't that sweet? Seems very peaceful and happy. Wonder why it changed? What happened in between? Maybe it was this (hint: it was)


I think it is sad to be embarrassed by your supporters. On the other hand, it is sometimes understandable.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Actual communication from management

Sign in the bathroom, posted because of repeated problems with clogged toilets purportedly caused by people flushing paper towels or something:
Please do not flush anything other than toilet paper.
Needless to say, I have not yet figured out how to fully comply with that directive.

Well, how about that

For only the second time, traffic on this blog has topped 1,000 hits in a single month. Still growing, of course -- still four days to go in September. Figured it was worth it to blog from behind enemy lines to say thanks for coming by.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Something in the air tonight?

A guy I know took a gig with another agency when the last project we were on ended a couple weeks ago. That new project apparently sucks, so he was lobbying to return to this agency. As it is, we are adding people to the project I am on now, so he'll be back, which led to this brief email exchange:

Him: So, is there a lot of excitement about my return to [the agency]?

Me: Oh, yeah. People are building floats for the parade.

Another career hope dashed

Today at work I tossed out a potential career to take up instead of being a temp (or a lawyer at all, for that matter). Unfortunately, the consensus was that I would need a fair amount of medical training. So I guess kidney pirate is out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Actual temp conversation, you pick the number


Having spotted a temp in the halls who bore a striking resemblance to one Pooh Bear, a contract attorney was led to ask:

CA1: When did Winnie the Pooh grow a beard and become a contract attorney?

CA2: Are you saying there's someone reviewing documents wearing a large red shirt and no pants?

CA1: I'm not saying I saw such a person, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he's here.

Sure seems like a Monday

Worked both days this weekend to push a production out the door today, not sure what follows. Still have documents to review, though, so I guess that what follows will involve gainful employment. Apparently we have a 40-hour cap, though, so maybe not that gainful. I guess we'll see. Other than working on the world's shittiest review platform, this project seems truly unremarkable. Hope something of interest happens soon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Suspicions confirmed

Yeah, this platform is a steaming heap. Overly complex, underly fast and clearly designed by somebody who has no idea what we're doing here. Oh, well. Use what they give you, right?

Friday, September 21, 2012

What we have here is a failure to communicate

Just sat through the technical training session for the review platform we'll be using on this project. Six veteran temps, not a single one of us had even heard of the platform before. Not usually a good sign. It either means 1) the platform sucks, or b) it is so cheap that the firm couldn't resist using it, which usually means that both 1) and b) apply. We'll find out, I guess.

The training was not encouraging.  I think the platform will be easy enough to code with, but the training touched on actual coding for about 45 seconds. Mostly the trainer (speaking to us by phone while demonstrating on a projection screen from a computer remotely controlled by him) went on about all the various search and folder features and all kinds of nifty stuff we could do that we don't need to do. All we heard was "Boolean blah blah blah folder blah blah blah public blah blah blah shared blah blah blah private blah blah blah. Any questions?"

What I should have said:

"I don't do Boolean. I'm not here to do searches. I'm here so that you can put shit in front of me, I code it until it's gone, and you put more shit in front of me and I code that until eventually everything is coded. I don't need nuance, I don't need nifty features, I need my project manager to have administrative rights so he can batch documents for us and put them in front of us to code, and I don't have that. Boolean that, pal."

Didn't say that. Which means we're at an impasse for the moment.

Movin' on up

Early this morning September became the No. 2 traffic month in Eff you history, for what that's worth.

Make it count, kids!

Today is the autumnal equinox, the official last day of summer. You should ditch work or something and go have some fun.  If I hadn't been home all week, I would, but I start a new project today and, last I checked, they still pay me by the hour, of which I have none so far this week.  Back on the chain gang.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Traffic update

Either tonight or tomorrow, this month will become the No. 2 month for traffic in the history of the blog, with 9 days still to go in September. Wow. No threat to become No. 1 (unless we just get flooded with porn trolls) and, as I have said often, high traffic on this blog would make many bloggers slit their wrists in despair over lost readers, but very pleasing to me overall. Thank you for coming by.

This business is really weird

All week I've been scratching and hunting, trying to scare up a gig. Applied for a few things, sent a bunch of emails, got a bunch of crickets for my efforts. The only bright spot was a strong likelihood that I would be put on a project starting Oct. 1. Of course, two weeks of no job/paycheck before that meant it was a kind of dim bright spot.

Just got placed on a project starting tomorrow. Call out of the blue, not as a result of anything I had done all week. No indication it was coming, just BOOM goes the dynamite, I'm employed again. Seriously, this business is not for people with weak hearts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Affirmation, baby

Got an email from a friend of mine yesterday (yes, he's working, no, I'm not). I have a stock saying that I'll toss out once, twice, even three times a day. It isn't funny, but the repetition becomes funny. So stupid it's good. In any event, the email indicates I'm making an impact:

So at my new job today at around 4:30, I say "I dont know if I have 2.5 hours left in me."  The temp behind me who I have never met, asks did you come up with that on your own?  I said "no."  And the temp then said "because there was this guy on a project he was on late last year that would say that every day.  I think his name was (my name here) or something."
I am legend

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keep me in the dark and feed me bullshit

That might make me a mushroom, I supposed, and perhaps mushrooms like being kept in the dark and fed bullshit, but that hardly seems a viable way to direct a career path, or even a job path. And yet, that seems to be the way agencies -- and by this I mean all agencies, even the "good" ones -- treat contract attorneys. Case in point: I just turned down a job I never would have submitted for, simply because I did not have the information that would let me know that this was not a job I would want. Certainly there was a way to give me that information without revealing the firm name or anything else confidential, although, frankly, I don't see why I should not know the firm name, as well. There are firms I refuse to work for, and it can get awkward if I get accepted for a project only to find that it is a firm for which I will not work. I think it is emblematic of contract attorneys' status in the legal community that we alone, among all attorneys, are not allowed to know to whom we are applying for work.

The implication is that you will take it and you will like it, and if you don't like it then, well, suck it. We don't care. Perhaps if there were more pushback by contract attorneys, we might get kept in the dark a little less. Unfortunately, because contract attorney ranks are swelled each spring by new graduates who can't find work and are desperate to do so, no amount of pushback by veteran contract attorneys is likely to help. We simply will get left behind in favor of the newbies who don't demand information. This, of course, is the impetus behind the argument what contract attorneys should unionize, a shitty idea that I will address at another time. Suffice to say that, much as we might like it, we are unlikely to get more information on which to base our decisions about what gig we want to apply for. Don't like it? Suck it.

There's something happening here

What it is ain't exactly clear, but traffic is basically doubled in the last couple weeks. I don't know why, and it doesn't seem to be porn-hunting trolls from Russia (although I still say fuck fuck fuck occasionally to draw them in to boost traffic). Mind you, traffic doubling on this site is not the same as traffic doubling on, say, The Drudge Report, but it makes me happy. Keep coming by, kids, and I'll try to make it worth your time.

Betsy Ross got lucky

Fortunately for Betsy, the DAR conversation happened earlier in the project than the revelation that she is a big baseball fan and, coincidentally, a big fan of beer. As beer is near and dear to my heart, had I known this first, her nickname doubtless would have been Toby Keith, in honor of his song, "I Like Girls That Drink Beer." Betsy Ross, while not a first choice for most women as a nickname, sure beats Toby Keith.

There's the snap, the ball is up, and .......

.....wide right! No good!

Yeah, I gambled the other day. At the end of the last project, I got offered a project that kind of sucked -- 40 hours, only two weeks. Mostly I turned it down because a) it is not Metro-accessible and I never would have submitted my resume had I known the details, and 2) the market seems to be heating up and I figured I would get something quickly. Which leads us to iii), crickets. Freaking nobody replying with any encouraging news, although one sympathetic soul pointed out that, having turned down a gig, I am not eligible for unemployment. I sure hope this doesn't drag on. I realize I could have a gig for tomorrow an hour from now, but it is so much easier to just be despondent. However, later today I am planning an industry-relevant post based on this episode, so stay tuned.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm pretty sure she didn't design the flag

Every project has its characters, some good, some bad, some just there. Usually, I am one of them, although I am never "just there." Sometimes I'm a "good" character, sometimes "bad." Unlike the president, I have never voted present. I don't much care whether people view me as "good" or "bad." Let's face it, I won't even remember their names when the project is over.

To me, most temps are just there. It's why I don't bother to remember their names, if I even bother to learn them. Sometimes, I give them nicknames that endure, but that's usually because they are "bad" characters. Sometimes  it's because they are memorable, but not for reasons they might choose. Think Headphones Boy, or Moby and the hobo. (I still think Moby and the Hoboes is a great name for a band.) Sometimes, though, I give nicknames that endure to people I actually like.

Which brings us to Betsy Ross. As the title of this post implies, we're not talking about the historical Betsy Ross, and I am passing no judgment on whether this particular Betsy Ross had anything to do with the design of the original American flag. I am fairly confident she's too young to have had a hand in that.

A strange, wandering and impossible-to-replicate conversation one night on this project revealed that Betsy, whose name is not Betsy, is eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. And was interested in doing so once a me-guided conversation revealed that fact. (I was talking about the Society of the Cincinnati -- look it up -- which led us to the DAR and the Colonial Dames -- look that up, too. What am I, your mother?) Anyway, once she expressed interest in the DAR, she became Betsy Ross. She's new to Temp Town, and it is tempting to abuse the shit out of her. I think not, though. Even though she's a Yankee. In the Temp Town hierarchy, she's definitely not one of the bad guys, and she doesn't seem to be "just there." That really leaves only one choice. Like a lot of people I met, I hope she isn't in Temp Town long, although not for my sake. Temp Town if full of people who deserve to be there. It also is full of people you really hope escape. Some of them actually can.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, the swordfish is dead

Yeah, that sucker is dead, on ice, headed for market and not feeding my family anymore. Squeezed the last few pathetic hours out of the swordfish earlier today. We're done. Not sure what I'm doing Monday, but I'm pretty sure it involves sleeping, drinking beer and sleeping more.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Market about to boom?

There actually are a fair number of projects out there, and all of the agencies say they expect to be very busy soon. Interesting if true. For the moment, I remain idle come Monday morning, although good news over the weekend is a strong possibility. Interestingly, it would appear that pretty much none of what is (or might be) coming seems to be merger work, which is consistent with recent years, when mergers have been way down.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Almost forgot about the results

So anyway, I was conducting the courtesy experiment Saturday in which I sit in the dark (not pitch black -- plenty of light comes in from the hallway through the open double doors) and see how long before a temp turns on the lights. The real test is whether they will behave like a stereotypical temp and just turn the lights on despite the obvious preference of the temps already in the room, or whether they will ask. The fourth person Saturday turned the lights on -- after asking. Courtesy 2, Cynicism 0.

Well, yeah, he is baked, why do you ask?

I've been meaning to post about this guy for a while, but I haven't gotten to it. Now seems like a good time. There's this dude wandering the hallways here -- and I mean a lot more than normal -- who I think escaped from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He's kind of hefty, kind of slovenly (tee shirt and jeans, always looks like he slept in his clothes, apparently does not own a razor and yet can't grow an actual beard) and he always wears these really big old-school looking headphones with the cord running down to a pocket in his pants. Not clear if the cord is actually plugged into anything, but I assume he has some sort of MP3 player cranking out Abba or Starland Vocal Band.

None of that is what makes this guy eye-catching, however. Hell, most of that makes him fade into the temp woodwork, indistinguishable from half the other temps here. No, its the constant dopey grin, the slight bobble to his head, the weave to his walk, and the half-baked look on his face that leads to the inescapable conclusion that this guy is headed to the bathroom for the ninth time before noon so that he can finish that doob he started earlier. Yes, Headphone Boy appears to be always just a little bit stoned. Not wasted, not too blasted to see straight, but always in that Spicoli-like state of cool buzz.

I just know that, any day now, he's going to wander into our room and ask if anyone has any Doritos.

Kung-pao Doom?

You want a little fried rice with your Doom? Project is still ending this week, still no Pizza of Doom, but apparently we are getting Chinese food for dinner tonight instead. We'll be working through the weekend, but the project leader has to be out tomorrow, so instead of pizza tomorrow to commemorate Doom, we're getting Chinese tonight. Works for me. Nothing satisfies like Doom with a little soy sauce.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 years later

Kind of a subdued anniversary, I guess, compared to the 10th anniversary hoopla. Probably more appropriate, although I'll take hoopla if that's what it takes to make sure people remember. I was unable to get into the city that day (still at a firm at the time, kept associate hours - you come in latish because you're going to stay late). Worked next door to FBI headquarters, which meant for at least a week I had to show ID to get onto the street between the buildings so I could get into the parking garage. Military patrols on random street corners, Patriot batteries outside the city, F-15s and F-16s patrolling. Those first few days were quite a jolt. But it's appropriate to take a few minutes to think about that day and what it meant to this country.

Thanks to Instapundit for the picture, which was taken by a relative of his from his apartment (the relative's, not Instapundit's). Instapundit doesn't know I borrowed the picture; I hope he doesn't make me take it down. Looks like I complied with his terms of use, and I like the picture.

Wow, that's pretty bad

The market has been slack lately, but of course it's summer. Or was. Slight pickup in the last couple weeks, which made me hopeful that I'd find something quickly once this thing ends. Saw a project advertised today that is paying Charlotte rates, 40 hour cap. I guess they justify it because they aren't requiring DC Bar membership. Still a crappy rate.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back on the deck

Yeah, the swordfish is back out of the water, flopping around on the deck in its death throes. Got the word today that Friday is drop dead. Guess I'm looking for work again. Didn't even get kissed. (Think about it.) Or pizza. Just Doom.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New experiment

Some of you may remember the experiment on a Sunday in August wherein I came in early to work and left the lights on. My hypothesis was that at some point, probably sooner rather than later, a temp would come in and simply turn the lights on without asking, no matter how many people were in the room cheerfully working in the darkness. As it turned out, the sixth person to arrive came in, saw five of us clicking in the dark, and politely asked if it was OK to turn on the lights. Courtesy 1, Cynicism 0.

Anyway, got here early today, and experiment round 2 is in progress. Only one other person has arrived so far, and he made no move for the light switch. Same guy who arrived first last time, as it happens. We'll see if cynicism can tie the score today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Keep it coming

Passed 11,000 views last night -- nothing compared to many blogs that get that many hits and more per hour, but thanks to everybody who has dropped by and helped reach that number. Keep visiting, and I'll try to make it worth the effort. Thanks.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Can't anybody here play this game?

I might not be Casey Stengel, or even the Temp Town equivalent, but I know a thing or two about how to run a document production. Time and again, I am astounded at how often the law firms I work for do not. I guess I shouldn't be astounded anymore, as Big Law firms perceive themselves as having little incentive to become really good at document reviews. Basically, firms as Firms don't see document review as a core function of the Firm (even though it is an integral part of successful litigation, merger and acquisition, and regulatory practices). Partners always -- always -- know nothing about it, and so deem it of relatively low importance in the Firm hierarchy of tasks. Associates strive mightily to limit their involvement in document reviews for two reasons.

First, it is a good way to get blamed for the disaster if something goes catastrophically wrong, always a good possibility when a complex process is headed by people who don't know what they're doing. Second, it is a career-limiting move to become an associate skilled at running a document production. Because of document reviews' low standing in the Firm's hierarchy of tasks, being good at it is not going to make you a partner. It will, however, ensure that every partner with a case involving document review will grab the associate who is good at running them, further limiting that associate's ability to engage in tasks that will help him make partner.

I mention this because the project I am on, now of uncertain future, has officially moved up on my list of Most Fucked Up Projects Ever. Not sure if it is in the top spot yet. More changes coming today in how we are going to deal with certain review issues, both substantive and procedural. Once we know more, we could easily be chanting "We're No. 1!"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

That's one tough swordfish

So yesterday we got the word that the hours cap had been lifted and we needed to finish by a week from tomorrow. Well, having officially assigned this project zombie status, naturally things immediately change. While the project is not suddenly the fresh, young swordfish we always hope for, we got the word today that everything we thought we knew is wrong: changes in the production parameters mean we'll be here a while past next week's deadline. Not sure how long, but the swordfish is off the deck and back in the water.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I hear they have a great airline

United Arab Emirates checked in. They spend a lot of money on weird shit and tall buildings, and people tell me that Emirates Air Lines is a great way to fly if you want to go to an oil-rich desert with no alcohol. Other than that, no worries. Welcome, nonetheless.