mytopleft

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Music has suffered a loss

Most people don't know his name, but Phil Ramone has died. Various sources put him at 72, 79 and 82 years old -- I think 79 is correct. For those who don't know, Phil Ramone -- no relation to The Ramones -- helped shape pop music for decades. He won 14 Grammys, not including the lifetime achievement Grammy he also won. He produced albums for Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Lou Reed, Elton John and Paul McCartney, among others.

Three of the albumns he produced won Grammys for album of the year, Billy Joel's "52nd Street," Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years," and Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company." He also worked on classics like The Band's "The Band" and Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks." Despite all that, he is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which tells you everything you need to know about that organization.

So, for your listening pleasure, here's something Phil Ramone produced:



And here's something he didn't, but should have:


Really hard to believe

So on Easter Sunday, what does Google put up as their graphic on the Google search page? Yeah, avowed Communist (yes, Communists are by definition atheists) Cesar Chavev. What's the word I'm looking for here? Oh, wait, there are two: fucking assholes. Might be time to relocate this blog. Believe me, I'm looking into it. And no, the "Contact us" link for Google does not include a way to email them. Guess I'll have to call tomorrow. If the blog is down tomorrow, you'll know why.

Happy Easter

Totally not concerned with offending non-believers. Your non-belief doesn't offend me, after all.


Food porn denied

I was planning on doing some food porn last night, but, alas, I went down with a fever in the early afternoon and my plans were thwarted. Today, having miraculously recovered, I thought about doing food porn with my Easter dinner, but the ham doesn't lend itself to food porn and I didn't document the preparation of the side dishes, so there you have it. Given the paucity of posts, lately, though, I figured I should say something, so there you have it. Next weekend should see some food porn. Stay on the edge of your seats.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lowering the Jolly Roger

Somebody in authority on this project apparently finally figured out that it was really easy to circumvent the internet block on our computers and that temps were doing so left and right. We got told the other day -- yesterday, maybe? this shit all runs together -- that anybody caught using pirate internet would be fired on the spot. The stated rationale is security for the documents we are reviewing for this case. If we have internet access, the story goes, the documents could somehow get loose, and that would be bad. Yeah, right. We still are allowed access to the gmail accounts that we all have through the agency, because that is how the project managers communicate with us, including telling us what batch of documents each of us is supposed to review. Further, if your personal email is a gmail account, you can access that, as well. Which means, of course, that if somebody wanted to set one of these documents free, they could. It's not about security, it's about control. All about The Man keeping us down just because he can. I'll let you know if I figure out a way around this horseshit. Otherwise, posts will be more scarce, since I now can only post from home and I don't get there until late at night. Sorry.

This ought to scare you

Does it seem like I am trying to scare temps into leaving Temp Town for other, greener pastures? There's a reason for that. I am. It's "Amityville Horror" time, people: get out.


Why do I say this (other than the fact that the industry is dying around us)? Try this one on: there is an agency in town that is
currently recruiting college graduates for a document review project starting on Wednesday, March 27th or Thursday, March 28th in Washington, DC. 
* Location -- Downtown Washington, DC 
* Pay Rate -- $21/hr 
* Duration - 2-3 weeks 
* Hours -- 40 hours per week 
Set aside the short duration and no overtime. Ignore, if you can, the ludicrously low pay. Please note the part I put in bold and italics: currently recruiting college graduates. Anybody scared by that? Maybe this isn't a legal review (possible). Maybe the client only cares if a single word appears in a document, and so no legal judgment is required (also possible, and even scarier, since that describes a lot of projects). The point is, an animal never before seen in nature -- a document review that requires no law degree -- has been spotted. We're fucked.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You gotta like that. Or else.

March just became the second-best traffic month for this blog. Sure, no month will ever top November 2012 unless I get another Instalanche (which I don't expect), so being No.2 is kind of a big deal around here. My regular traffic might be pathetic by the standards of big-time blogs, but I'm OK with it. Don't like it? Refer to the title of the blog.

Walking in a winter wonderland

OK, so it is no longer winter, calendar-wise. This is my fault somehow? Sunday night we got some snow. We apparently did not get enough snow to cancel work, unlike the day a couple weeks ago when we got almost no snow but got enough to cancel work. Anyway, this was worse than that, but we still worked. Not complaining -- we work, I get paid. I like it. Anyway, Mrs. Wolves took some pictures of the snow. She took way more pictures than I would have, but I compensate by ignoring most of the pictures she took. It balances out.

 I just hope my crocuses survive.




Jeb the Wonder Dog explores.
 My back yard.



Looking out the front.
 Jeb the Wonder Dog, desperately seeking deer to herd.



I think Mrs. Wolves was feeling a little arty.




Out my kitchen window.


Tulips, desperate to survive.

How's that exit strategy coming? Might want to pick up the pace

Apparently the Washington Post thinks that Obamacare will be a boon for temp agencies. The thinking is that, since the law requires employers to offer health insurance only if they have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (full time is 30 hours a week under Obamacare; if you have 100 employees working 15 hours a week, that is 50 full-time equivalents, or FTEs, and you're on the hook), and employees hired through temp agencies don't technically count as employees of the company for which the work is actually performed, then companies will be encouraged to hire employees through temp agencies if that will keep them under the 50 FTE threshold.  Even for companies that have more than 50 FTEs working for them, hiring through temp agencies will enable companies to avoid having to buy insurance for those employees. Or, in the alternative, they won't have to pay the penalty (sorry, tax) on those employees should the company choose not to buy them health insurance.

The Post seems to think that temp agencies will be able to avoid paying for health insurance (or the penalties -- sorry, tax -- for not buying health insurance) for employees because of IRS regulations. Says the Post:
But in regulations issued last year, the IRS left an opening for employers of “variable-hour” labor such as temp agencies. If it’s not clear upon hiring that an employee will consistently work more than 30 hours weekly, companies get up to 12 months to determine whether the person is full time and qualifies for health benefits — even if the employee does end up working full time. Few temps last 12 months.
The Post is clearly delusional. Sure, Manpower, Kelly, Robert Half and God knows who else probably will benefit from that in most situations. They provide, mainly, temporary workers in non-professional, very temporary situations, often as little as a day or two. But the question as it relates to the temp-lawyer industry becomes not whether we will be around on a given project for more than 12 months -- usually, we won't -- but whether we can reasonably be expected to work at least 30 hours a week during the project. I don't think the agencies can reasonably claim that given the IRS regulations:


Determining Full-Time Employees for Purposes of Shared Responsibility for Employers
Regarding Health Coverage (§ 4980H)
Notice 2012-58
I. PURPOSE AND OVERVIEW
 This notice describes safe harbor methods that employers may use (but are not
required to use) to determine which employees are treated as full-time employees for
purposes of the shared employer responsibility provisions of § 4980H of the Internal
Revenue Code (Code). Specifically, the administrative guidance in this notice,
modifying and expanding on previous guidance, includes a safe harbor method that
employers may apply to specified newly-hired employees.
 As described more fully below, this notice –
• Expands the safe harbor method described in a previous notice to provide
employers the option to use a look-back measurement period of up to 12 months
to determine whether new variable hour employees or seasonal employees are
full-time employees, without being subject to a payment under § 4980H for this
period with respect to those employees. An employee is a variable hour
employee if, based on the facts and circumstances at the date the employee
begins providing services to the employer (the start date), it cannot be
determined that the employee is reasonably expected to work on average at
least 30 hours per week.
(The 30 hours per week average reflects the statutory
definition of full-time employee in § 4980H(c)(4) and is the definition of “full-time
employee” as used in this notice.) Seasonal employee is defined in section
III.D.5, below. 

I added the bold and italic emphasis because I don't think that language gives temp agencies the ability to claim we aren't covered under Obamacare. While 40-hour projects are becoming the norm, let's face it: no one, right now, would even respond to a Posse List posting advertising a 29-hour project, no matter what the duration. The law firms always promise at least 40 hours a week. I don't see how temp agencies can take advantage of these regulations and claim the 12-month look-back period. They would have to credibly claim they weren't sure the work would be at least 30 hours a week. They can't claim that if the law firms are always promising at least 40 hours a week. One way or another -- whether firms will only promise 29 hours a week, or whether agencies will claim contract attorneys are suddenly independent contractors, give us 1099 forms and not pay for health insurance or the penalty -- things are going to change in this industry. I am inclined to doubt that the change will be for the better.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Well this is ridiculous

It would appear that this winter intends to never end. We got snow last night/this morning. Maybe two inches, maybe three. The really funny part -- funny weird, not funny ha-ha -- is that this snow event was much worse to drive in than the non-snow event two weeks ago that we got a snow day for. That one, there was very little snow despite predictions of up to 18 inches. I guess the predictions scared everybody into cancelling shit. Not this time. This wasn't a big snow event by any means, but it was more severe than that one, and yet we went to work today. Go figure. Pictures are coming if Mrs. Wolves ever gets around to giving them to me.

If you build it, they will come

Fun facts of blogging: People read blogs, to the extent that they do, to see what you're saying. If you don't post, traffic falls as people realize you aren't saying anything. Simple cause and effect. Slow traffic day today because of the relative paucity of posts over the last week or so. I've been living this killer work schedule with the added complications of real life intruding on my posting time. I will endeavor to get back on the pony and put up fun and fascinating posts about life, food, music, Temp Town follies and other stuff.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Give me some Kyrgyzstan, baby, with a little Croatia on top

We got us some Kyrgyzstan, y'all. Kyrgyzstan, officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, is located in central Asia. A former Soviet Socialist Republic, Kyrgyzstan  is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east.  The country is land-locked and mountainous. Bishkek is the nation’s capital anlargest city. The population of 5.2 million is about two-thirds rural.

Seems like a strange place to visit Eff You, but wait! We got some Croatia, too! I don't know a lot about Croatia, but I do recall my father telling me that he had a Croatian in his platoon way back when and that the worst insult to a Croatian was to call him a  "squared-headed Serb." Given the shit that happened in the Clinton years between Croatia and Serbia, I guess that's probably true. Anyway, here's what Wikipedia says about Croatia:
Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and has diverse, mostly continental and Mediterranean climates. Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. The country's population is 4.28 million, most of whom are Croats, with the most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism.
Anyway, there you have it. Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hook a brother up

If you look over there to the right, you will see a "Search Amazon" gadget. If you feel the need, want or desire to purchase something on Amazon, and you use that gadget to launch your search, the Wolves clan gets a little jack from Amazon for each purchase. Feel free to use it early and often. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Food porn feedback

Incidentally, if anyone ever tries one of the food porn recipes, I would love to hear back from you as to how it turned out. You could even send your own food porn pictures to raised.by.a.wolf@gmail.com and I would post them. If you care. Who knew this was a food blog. I promise to get back to boring you with the world of contract attorneys just as soon as I can.

I'm a little worried about Latvia

OK, so every time I mention Latvia or porn, I get a whole bunch of hits through a Russian search engine (but the hits are from Latvia). Naturally, food porn sets off a frenzy. The fascinating thing is that this seems to be actual searches by actual Latvians interested in porn, as opposed to spambots, but I could be wrong. In any event, the search terms used indicated that porn is not the sole topic of interest. It apparently needs to be porn linked in some way to Latvia. So if I mention hot naked Latvian chicks, traffic tomorrow should be pretty good. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Got a little St. Patrick's Day food porn for ya

Yeah, you thought St. Patrick's Day was all about trying to reduce the worldwide beer surplus. No! We got saint's day food porn, people. Today's special: shepherd's pie.

You start with some spuds. Get about 1-1/2 pounds of potatoes (your choice of variety, my recipe actually called for russets), peel them and quarter them. Put them in water, maybe a little salt, and boil them until tender:


Once those suckers are boiling, melt some butter, maybe a half stick, preferably in a cast iron skillet:


Now we're cookin'. Chop up a big onion, or two medium onions, like I did, and toss them into the skillet.


OK, you're looking good. Now, cut up some carrots -- maybe a pound, chop 'em up -- and toss them into the onions once they are starting to get translucent.


OK, while that stuff is cooking, you should take some green onions and chop up just the green part of the shoots. Plan on having another use for the white, onion part of the green onions. I leave that to your imagination:



So, the potatoes that you boiled earlier? Drain, toss in a little milk and the chopped green part of the green onions that you just cut up and mash the hell out of them until they look like this:


Now, we're multi-tasking. Take about a pound and a half of ground beef, preferably 93 percent fat free so you won't have to drain it, and brown it up. If you do it with the low-fat beef you can just toss it in with the onions and carrots, which is the preferred solution.


We're getting close. Once the beef is browned, throw in some vegetables. Your choice -- peas, corn, limas, whatever:



Add a half-cup of beef broth, simmer 10 minutes. Once that stuff is in and heated through, put the whole hot mess in a lightly greased casserole dish. Layer the mashed potatoes on top.


Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, and broil on high for about the last 5 minutes to toast the potato topping.



 If you don't think this is really fucking good, you did it wrong. Bon appetit and happy St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Kind of like Cinco de Mayo in this country, St. Patrick's Day is mainly an excuse for people to drink heavily. I'm not trying to make that sound like a bad thing. In any event, go embarrass yourself with green beer and whatever else you plan to do to pretend you are Irish for a day.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Don't try to comfort me -- it's too soon

Sure, there have been iconic Packers players who went to play for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite the fact that we hate the Helgas, it happens. We don't have to like it, but it happens. When Darren Sharper put on the purple, it was bad. When Ryan Longwell headed northwest to Minnesota, that was bad, too. When Robert Ferguson took off the green and gold to go play for Minnesota, I got to admit, that didn't really bother me. He was marginal, after all. When Bret Favre went to the Vikings by way of New York, I didn't like it, but he had already made his bed.

But this is bad. I mean really bad. We were in the hunt to re-sign Greg Jennings, and he signed with the Vikings. They took him to dinner on the first date and he wound up going home with them. I realize there is no loyalty in the NFL, which stands for Not For Long. If Jennings weren't any good any more, the Packers would cut him in a heartbeat. As it is, the Vikings simply offered more money than we did. (Yes, I own shares in the Packers and can say "we.") It was just business, and Jennings did what was best for him. I'm still sad. I'll just sit here quietly for a while.We'll talk later.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is Law School Worth It? You want the short answer?

I guess because of my membership in the DC Bar, I get Washington Lawyer magazine, which is the official magazine of the DC Bar. I haven't bothered to see if the article is online, but in the March 2013 edition of the magazine, there is an article with the title "Price and Perils of a JD: Is Law School Worth It?" The article spans seven pages (not including a page devoted entirely to a "mood" photo, featuring good-looking young people intended to represent people considering law school who, as anyone who attended law school knows, are way too good looking to say "yes" to law school). I read the whole thing, and I'm still not sure where the author comes down on the question. I think he leans the right way, but he's a freelance writer and thus likely is reluctant to stake out a truly defined position (yeah, I used to do freelance writing, and the attitude is prevalent -- take too strong a position, and your article will get the hook. Stay in the middle.)

Well, I have the short answer: NO! Not anymore. Maybe once upon a time, but no more. Big Law is dying, slowly strangled by cost constraints imposed by ever-more parsimonious clients, who have their own cost-control issues to worry about. The contract attorney world is being squeezed into oblivion by computerized review and offshore competition. As for the folks who would go back to their hometown and do wills and divorces, I have two questions: how many people from each law school class can your hometown accommodate and, given the escalating cost of law school, can you make enough money doing that to cover the cost of your law school loans?

The answers, more and more often, are, not as many as want to come home to do that work and, briefly, "no." Wills, divorces, incorporations (a market crushed by Legalzoom.com., among others) and zoning disputes will only support so many lawyers in any given place. The available fee dollars are finite. If law schools keep creating lawyers -- and they will -- then those lawyers will be dividing a finite pie into ever-smaller pieces. Not a good end game.

Personal injury and product liability lawyers -- almost always the assholes at the bottom of the class -- likewise will be fighting over an increasingly limited pie. Not matter how you expand the definition of "victim," there remains a limit on how many victims there can be out there. For these fuckheads, no victims means no work. I think this arena of law will be self-limiting. And as states increasingly take steps to limit frivolous lawsuits, these folks will also see decreasing opportunities.

The fact of the matter is, the general public does not view lawyers as a valuable class of individuals. There are valid reasons for this. Most people never encounter a lawyer under professional circumstances unless their life is turning to shit. Sure, lots of people know lawyers, but almost nobody in the real world hires a lawyer because things are going great. Instead, they have to hire lawyers when they are getting divorced, or someone has died, or they are being sued, or they were injured in an accident (or they are being sued for injuring someone in an accident), or they are bankrupt, or they are charged with a crime, or any of a host of other equally unsavory circumstances. Damn few people hire a lawyer because everything is hunky-fucking-dory.

As a consequence, the more advances in technology make it possible to forgo using a lawyer, people will do so. Writing a will using something you found online might not be ideal, but it probably works. As states have made divorce easier, the need for lawyers has declined except in the most acrimonious cases. Any number of companies will help you incorporate your small business without involving a lawyer. The same applies to any number of the unsavory circumstances that require most people to hire a lawyer.

While there will remain situations in which only a lawyer will do, the fact is that people will hire lawyers as infrequently as possible, and the circumstances under which people can avoid hiring a lawyer are expanding, at the personal and the corporate level. Under those circumstances, how much sense does it make to invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in a law degree?




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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This is kind of weird

Traffic is very solid today, which lately is not kind of weird, but half of it is coming from Latvia, which is. Latvia has been an occasional Eff You visitor, but not a leader. Today alone, the number of hits from Latvia has nearly doubled and Latvia has vaulted into the Top 10 all-time at the No. 9 spot. Maybe somewhere in a recent post I inadvertently used the Latvian word for hot naked chicks and I'm getting lots of horny young Latvian men looking for pr0n. Or maybe it's just spambots.  I will never understand the logic of search engines.
Sorry, but it's starting to look like we're dead meat. The Chronicle of Higher Education, in assessing the legal market, is not optimistic:
 That loud pop you're hearing is the bursting of the law bubble—firms, schools, and disillusioned lawyers paying for decades of greed and grandiosity. The bubble grew from a combination of U.S. News-driven ranking mania, law schools' insatiable hunger for growth, and huge law firms' obsession with profit above all else. Like the dot-com, real-estate, and financial bubbles that preceded it, the law bubble is bursting painfully.
The gist of the article is too many people went to law school, too few jobs are out there. This post is brought to our attention by The Project Counsel Group in an email via The Posse List, a list-serve that every contract attorney who hopes to actually work subscribes to. The email put the law-bubble burst into context with the contract attorney market and did not paint a pretty picture
For those of our readers who are in the contract attorney market it is the technology that is biting the most:  the adoption of technology assisted review (TAR) software has started to crimp their job prospects.  The two best examples: 1. a document review going on now in D.C.  In the past the corporate client/law firm would have put 75-100 attorneys on the project given the size of the document database.  This time? They are using a TAR software and only have 20 attorneys, and the review is expected to be complete in 2 weeks. 2. a document review running in Paris, France which normally would have needed 25 attorneys but has need of only 5. Same thing: a TAR software in use.
Anyway, the message is we're dead meat. Run for the exits, people. Time to find another way to make a living.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Amazing what a libtard can teach you

I have a friend who is, unfortunately, really fucking liberal. Way out there. Tough to talk to sometimes, but surprisingly reasonable most of the time. So, when I noted that I did not know the companies associated with the C or the I in this bumper sticker"


she promptly got on the interwebs and found the answer. The C, apparently is Colt:

while the I is Ithaca, maker of the famous shotguns:


The Ithaca logo in the Coexist sticker is dotted by the guy on a horse, the log of Winchester. Ithaca does not own Winchester, so I have corrected that part of this post. So there you have it.

The moral of the story is, why stop being lazy if somebody else will do you work for you?

Now that's more like it

I guess pretty much everybody has seen those dumb-ass "Coexist" bumper stickers that use symbols associated with various religious denominations to spell out the work, right? Never mind that all religious denominations, by definition, think all other denominations are wrong and that some (I don't feel like I need to name any names here) believe that non-believers in that particular denomination are not just wrong but need to be put to the sword. Coexist with that.

I have long been aware, though, of an alternate "Coexist" bumper sticker that represents a philosophy that actually makes coexistence more likely:


Yeah, those are the logos of arms manufacturers. Face it, your neighbor, no matter how divergent his views might be from yours, is much more likely to coexist with you in peace if he believes you can blow his ass away. You can buy the sticker here. And by the way, I don't recognize the C or the I. Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

In case you were wondering

Moldova got staying power. I got all the Moldova you can handle is holding on firmly to the No. 5 position on all-time most viewed posts for this blog. I have no idea why.

In case you're keeping count

There are now 123 arms manufacturers and dealers who are refusing to sell weapons to jurisdictions -- city, county or state -- that restrict the public's right to bear arms, according to The Police Loophole, which tracks this sort of thing. Many of them have a longstanding policy in this regard, such as Barrett, which makes the world's finest sniper rifles -- although Dragunov might argue -- but most are newcomers responding to the recent onslaught of state and federal efforts to pass legislation to take away the right to bear arms. Alas, the folks on the list are pretty small potatoes, for the most part. No Smith & Wesson, no Colt, Glock, Baretta, etc. On the other hand, Baretta is threatening to move its manufacturing facility out of Maryland if the legislature goes forward with it's ludicrous gun-control plans (hint: won't survive court review). Likewise, Magpul, which makes magazines for various weapons that hold more than the arbitary 10-round limit many states, including Colorado, are pushing, also has said it will leave Colorado if legislators there pass restrictions that make it illegal for Magpul to sell its products there.

So quit telling me that no one wants to take my guns, that legislatures just want to reduce crime. At least Colorado state Rep. Claire Levy (D-Whackoville) had the honesty to say of the gun control bill she is backing, “I make no assertion that this bill will either increase or reduce violent crime. That is not the premise of the bill.” (Video here.) They just want to take away 2nd Amendment rights. The numbers don't work for them, so they can't argue that these various bans and restrictions will help prevent crime. It's been tried, it doesn't work. So the more honest among them have dropped that argument. They just want to ban guns. So I think it is perfectly legitimate for gun dealers and manufacturers to ban them. If only the big boys would get on board.

This seems effed up

Normally -- and by normally, I mean pre-November, when the Instalanche happened -- my weekend traffic has been lower than during the week. I think my audience has a tendency to visit while at work (or after work) during the week, as they have better things to do on the weekends. Fuck, who doesn't? Also, I generally am too busy on the weekends to post much -- let's face it, I'd much rather post from behind enemy lines during the week than use my time to post on the weekends, plus Mrs. Wolves usually has a massive honey-do list for me -- and so there is often less new content on the weekends.

Lately, however, that has not held true. Weekend traffic has been very strong (for Eff You, anyway), keeping the daily average over 100. This might not be impressive to a lot of blogs, but here that's pretty damn good. Don't think so? Refer to the title of the blog.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shoulda put it up there the first time

Not sure how you reference Vietnam without going here:


Goooooooooooooooooooooooooood morning, Vietnam!

OK, so it's a dated reverence to a so-so Robin Williams movie, but we have our first visitor from Vietnam. I assume this visitor is not aware that my father was the fire support coordinator at Khe Sahn for a time during the siege and thus is responsible for atomizing an unknown number of North Vietnamese soldiers who were at the time hell-bent on atomizing him. But hey, let bye-gones be bye-gones. Welcome, our new Vietnamese friend. In a somewhat-related vein, I give you the New York Dolls:





Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy

So, cry me a river, Hugo Chavez is dead. I guess Sean Penn is really sad that this murderous Marxist is gone. It doesn't matter if Chavez fucked up his country.  Sean Penn is sad. By all means, give the man a hug. If you don't, he might wish for you to die screaming of rectal cancer.

5th Amendment anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

OK, so Eric Holder says it is OK for the president to order a drone strike against a US citizen inside the United States if the president thinks it is necessary. According to The Telegraph, Attorney General Holder thinks that due process doesn't protect US citizens inside the United States.
"The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorise the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland," Mr Holder said.
Seems to me there's an amendment that has something to do with life, liberty, due process, that kind of shit, that protects us from the government just deciding to kill us without determining whether we did anything, legally speaking, to deserve it. I guess not.

These people need to be stopped

Let's be clear: I am in favor of laws against abuse of animals. This shit is going way too far:

Massachusetts State Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) recently introduced a bill that would allow private individuals to file a lawsuit for the “protection and humane treatment of animals.”   This is of great concern for all sportsmen, farmers, and dog owners.Animal cruelty is already a crime in Massachusetts just as it is across the country.  Animal cruelty laws are enforced by experienced law enforcement officers, including local police forces and animal control officers, who are trained on what is and is not animal cruelty under the law and how to spot it.Senate Bill 767 would end this proven system and instead give private citizens the ability to sue animal owners over what they perceive to be “animal cruelty” under the law.“Under this bill, animal rights activists would be able to sue anyone – including sportsmen, farmers, and dog owners – whenever and wherever they think animal cruelty is being committed,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s Director of Government Affairs.  “This could force sportsmen and women who have done nothing wrong to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves against animal rights zealots looking to take them to court.”For example, if an animal rights activist thinks common dog training practices—such as using a shock collar or tethering—are inhumane, they would now be able to sue the sporting dog owner or trainer claiming animal cruelty.  Likewise, an activist that disapproves of certain farming practices could sue farmers for the practices they consider cruel.  Even if a judge ultimately throws out the case, the animal’s owner will likely have had to spend a good deal of money and time fighting the bogus lawsuit.
I have lived, once upon a time, on a multiple-acre property with two mid-sized, free-ranging dogs.  We installed the Invisible Fence, which shocks the dogs if they try to go past it. One of them got it, one didn't. For the one that didn't, we had to to up, and up, and up the amount of voltage that could be delivered. We reached the maximum the company offered, and the dog didn't care. She wanted out and ran past the fence regardless.

Under this proposed law, I apparently could be sued by somebody with no connection to me, the dogs or anything. No matter that keeping the dog on my property would keep her from being hit by a car, or running off and getting lost, then starving to death in the wild (not even unlikely where I live). Some random fuck could sue me and force me to defend myself at my expense. This kind of shit convinces me that for civil suits, we need to institute "loser pays" rules. As long as asshats can sue somebody and pay no penalty if they lose, they will. Let's make it hurt.

Is this asshole trying to kill our industry?

Short answer -- yes. This story comes to me via The Posse List, but American Lawyer is involved, as is Above the Law, which gives us the complaint. Basically, some New York asshole (but I repeat myself) is suing a law firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, and a temp agency I've never heard of, Providus, because he didn't get overtime for hours worked over 40 hours a week. His argument is that his work is so routine that he is not an exempt employee under the Federal Labor Standards Act. Here is a link to the case pleadings. American Lawyer describes the suit this way:
In his suit, which claims Quinn and Providus functioned as "joint employers" under the FLSA, Henig says he received an hourly wage from the defendants and generally worked 57 to 60 hours each week. Henig alleges he was paid his regular hourly wage for the hours he worked in excess of 40 hours each week, as opposed to the one-and-a-half times that amount required under FLSA overtime rules. (The complaint does not specify how much Henig was paid per hour.) 
Henig's complaint claims that he, and potentially others, are due any unpaid wages with interest along with liquidated damages and attorneys fees. Kirschenbaum says his hope is that lawsuits like Henig's can open the door for more claims to be brought against firms by contract attorneys seeking additional overtime pay. "The law firms bill significantly for this work. And, so, you're charging $250 [or] $300 an hour for a contract attorney's work—it's not such a hit for you to have to be paying him $45 an hour for his overtime instead of $30 an hour," Kirschenbaum says.
The complaint notes "the extremely routine nature" of the work Henig performed during the six weeks he spent doing document review for Quinn as the reason why he is not exempt under FLSA rules, which provide exemptions to overtime rules for a range of employees—including those whose jobs require "advanced knowledge." 
This guy is slitting our throats, and he doesn't even know it. Or he doesn't care. Contract attorneys should want to be exempt from overtime regulations. More and more projects are going flat rate, paying a little more per hour but not paying time and a half for overtime. It is getting to be the only way to get an overtime project, the way the trend is going. Contract attorneys are exempt from overtime requirements because our work requires a professional degree and professional association membership (the bar). If we are not exempt from overtime requirements, it can only be because no professional degree or membership is required. This asshole is pushing that argument, albeit unwittingly.

This stupid fuck is saying an untrained shit could do document review. Unfortunately, he's right. The fact that computerized document review is becoming more popular and prevalent only bolsters that argument. Well, if that is true, we're out of a job. Firms won't have to hire attorneys to do document review, they can either use computer programs or just hire Joe Shits off the streets. Either way, we're fucked. This is a class action suit under FRCP Rule 23 -- it's only the Second Circuit, but it could become an ugly precedent.

We really need this guy to lose, and badly. Unfortunately, I don't think he will. Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit from this occupation.

Would you look at that!

We passed 50,000 pageviews this morning. Traffic has been very solid recently by Eff You standards. Thank you for coming by, and I hope you continue to do so. Today might end up with an unusual number of posts, partly to make up for two days without posting, partly because there is a lot going on and partly, perhaps mostly, because at about 6 am, after an hour of trying to find out if I should be venturing out into the snowstorm to go to work, I finally got word that today there is no work to which I can venture out. Shut down. Jury out on tomorrow. Really hope we work tomorrow. Can't afford a mid-week weekend, and I don't have enough beer on hand to stay home for two days.

Again, thanks for coming by. I'll try to make it worth your while.

The hits keep coming

It's snowing, but not bad right now. Supposed to be really bad later. Got no notice on whether the office is closed, can't seem to get a response to any emails (because the office is closed and so I'm the only one who got up at 5 am to find out if the office is closed, probably). God damn sequester.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Food porn returns

Sure, football season is over. No games, no game food, no game food porn. Does that mean we have to curse the darkness until September? Oh hell no. We got all the food porn you can handle, people. It's time for off-season food porn!

You asked for it, you got it. Our first off-season food porn offering is General Tso's chicken. Fortunately, General Tso, who not only was not a general but never existed, had more than one chicken, allowing me to cook said chicken last night. You start with chicken thighs, meaning you have to turn these:


into these:


If you are lazy and do not wish to debone about two pounds of chicken thighs, by all means, buy the boneless, skinless variety. Pay more. See if I care. In any event, at some point you should wind up with a bunch of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks.

Next, you'll want to make the funk that you dip the chicken into that makes this so damn good. Get a cup of cornstarch, 1/4 cup of soy sauce and an egg.


Beat the egg, add the soy sauce (no lie, a second egg can make this easier) then stir in the cornstarch. The resulting mixture will look thoroughly unappetizing.


Shut the fuck up, put aside your urge to gag at the sight of this brown mess and drop your chicken chunks into it in small batches, fetching them out all nice and coated with this funky shit and put them on a plate. Once all of your chicken is coated with this stuff, toss it into the wok in which you've been heating up a half-cup or so of the cooking oil of your choice (I like canola; lots of folks dig the peanut oil, but it's pretty damn pricey). It won't all fit at once, so do it in shifts and cook until it's crispy. When the chicken is done, let it drain on paper towels.



Multi-tasking now, while you have chicken frying you should grab some green onions


and some broccoli


and chop the onions, cut the broccoli down to florets. Once the chicken is done, drain most of the oil and throw the veggies in. Also toss in about a half-dozen dried chilis, which I did not have last night and so did not use. After a couple minutes (how many depends upon how well-done you like your veggies) throw the chicken in the wok with the veggies. This recipe has a sauce recipe, but I don't like it, so I used a bottle of commercially available General Tso's sauce. (I have another recipe for sauce that I think will be better, but I didn't have all the ingredients and so did not fix it last night. I will try it later and, if I deem it successful, I will share it here.) Dump a bottle of that on the stuff in the wok, stir it all up, let it cook for a couple minutes until everything is heated through and then serve over rice. Please don't make me tell you how to cook rice.

Bon appetit.

Damn if Barry wasn't right

My vacuum cleaner just died. God damn sequester.

OMG! Sequester!

So, we're in Day 3 of the sequester, I guess. I'm afraid to leave the house because Barry told me none of the traffic lights will work or all the cops will be laid off or airplanes will be crashing all around me or something like that. I can't remember, because I wasn't listening. Why not? Because of horseshit like this:


I guess Maxine doesn't know that there are only about 155 million Americans in the workforce to begin with, and that a shit load of them already don't have jobs. Apparently, all of the rest of us will be losing our jobs soon, and some of us will have to lose our jobs twice, I guess, to reach the level of job loss Maxine is calling for. This wouldn't be quite so pathetic if it weren't so predictable. And guess how much the media covered it? Mainstreams much? No. When I did my Google search, I came up with lots of hits for this, but not a single one from the Lamestream Media. No ABC, CBS, NBC, New York Times,  Washington Post. None of them. Put words this stupid in the mouth of a Republican and watch the media light up. Shit, they tried to roast Marco Rubio for taking a drink of water. Idiocy like this from a libtard? Crickets. At least Leno noticed.

Maybe I'm in the wrong business

OK, that's a stupid post title, because there is no question I'm in the wrong business. No one in this business is in the right business. But that is beside the point. I raise this possibility -- that I am in the wrong business -- not because temping sucks but because it recently has been made clear to me that other, less demanding professions are far more remunerative. Like, I can make a whole lot more jack doing something else.

What, you might ask, is that something else? And what, you ask again, gave me the idea that such a career path might be more lucrative? OK, stop with the fucking questions, or I swear to God I will ban you from this blog. I'm trying to be, like, literary here, and set the stage with tension and conflict and shit, and you are sitting over there asking questions at inopportune moments and basically just fucking pissing me off, so enough with the questions already, OK? Sweet baby Jeebus. Don't make me smack you.

So anyway, the instigating event behind this rambling is that the agency at which I currently am working --given some recent posts, that might soon be a past-tense kind of thing if they a) figure out who I am or 2) care -- recently has put a bunch of what I guess is art on the walls. There now are about a dozen pieces of "art" on the walls of  the office -- and that's just on the peons' side of the moat. No telling what is over on the noblemens' side of the moat. No, I'm not going to link to the reference, because if you aren't paying enough attention to this blog to know what I'm talking about there, then I will have to simply refer you to the title of the blog. Seriously, people, the moat reference is, like, two posts ago. Work with me, people.

And yes, I am using like, like, on purpose. People who sit within earshot of me on my project are, like, really prone to, like, use the word "like"" as a conversational filler when they, like, have nothing intelligent to say, which is pretty much, like, all the fucking time. But I digress.

So the agency put up a bunch of alleged art on the walls. I guess they have a deal with some studio or something. Beats the fuck out of me why a studio would want their stuff on our walls -- it's not like temps are in the market for this stuff. Not because it sucks -- which, IMHO, it does -- but because it costs an unbelievable amount of money. Each piece of "art" is accompanied by a card mounted on the wall next to the "art" letting you know who is responsible for creating this thing, what media he used, and how much it will cost you to be the hippest stupid fucker in D.C. to put this shit on your wall.

Oddly enough, the most attractive stuff is the cheapest. There are a couple paintings that look like they were drop cloths in a room where I was painting walls multiple colors and I spilled a lot. Those drop cloths cost about a grand. Everything else is north of three grand, including the two pieces that look like somebody threw paint and cottage cheese at the canvas and called it art.

My favorite, though, just happens to be the most expensive. It is about 8 feet long, three feet high, and is apparently a photograph mounted behind an acrylic face. The photo is of what appears to be a closeup of a garden, or maybe just wildflowers and shit. There is some kind of blooming flower, some ferns, some weeds, some broadleaf plants and some other garden-looking plants with water droplets on them.

Now, I'm no artist, so I can't describe the medium properly, but I know what I'm looking at, and what I'm looking at is some college chick's dorm room poster that some asshole is trying to call art and charge $6,800 for. Seriously, if I could figure out how to mount shit behind acrylic the way this peckerhead does, I'd be out the fucking door. Looks like I could charge six grand for pictures of my empty beer cans so long as I make the picture big enough and mount it behind acrylic however the fuck that dude did that. I can't believe this shit.

Naturally, inquiring minds want to know, what the fuck is all this shit doing on our walls? Nobody thinks that temps are in the market for shit that claims to be art -- sheet metal, painted yellow and covered with wax, then run through a heavy-duty sewing machine a couple times to lay down a couple lines of stitches, seriously? -- and we don't get a lot of visitors. I guess we get some visitors, and they tend to be from big-shot law firms. so they have money and I guess maybe they might like something on our walls enough to buy it.  If those folks are buying this shit, then I need to get me some paint and cottage cheese and start abusing some canvasses. Like, seriously.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Food porn wins!

Not sure how I will do this. There were no "no" votes on food porn -- no real surprise there, I suppose, as only the people interested in food porn voted, I'm guessing. Near even split between food porn for "funky recipes only" and "step-by-step photos." I, of course, get to define "funky." Only by continuing to read this blog will you learn what I consider to be funky, food-wise. I may also interpret funky to mean really fucking good, so don't expect exotic all the time. I plan to fix General Tso's chicken tonight, and might blog that. We'll see. It is, after all, my blog, and if you don't like not knowing whether you will see General Tso's food porn, then I suppose you will have to refer to the title of the blog.

Must have missed the "No Peons" sign on the door


Temp Town, situated as it is on the bottom rung of the legal-community ladder, nonetheless is not immune to the social stratification that divides the legal community into layers that are mutually exclusive and mutually contemptuous. It is at least a little bizarre that, at the bottom of the legal food chain, there nonetheless is scrambling to avoid being the leastmost among us. Yet that is the case. Still, there are important distinctions to be made in how Temp Town is divided.

I will be the first person to admit that there are degrees of separation in Temp Town. I impose them every day. Over the last too-many years, I have worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of temps. They fall into categories -- my degrees of separation. As most people do, I filter the people I meet or work with into categories, and those categories define how important those people are to me and how much access to me I allow those people. Like most folks, I do this based on the degree to which I actually want to associate with someone personally, as opposed to whether my "class" allows association with that person. Bear with me, this becomes relevant.

My first filter applies to almost everyone I work with: nothing about these people gives me any indication I want to actually get to know them, and so I don't. For these temps, I don't even bother to learn their names. It doesn't matter how many times I am on a project with them, I have no interest in knowing who they are. This often includes people with whom I have worked repeatedly and who have taken the trouble to learn my name. Absent a reason to do so, I feel no need to take even that first step to learning who they are. In this business, I work with too many people to even try to do things differently. For some people I have worked with repeatedly, I assign nicknames. I am too lazy to link right now, but Stevie Nicks and the Bridge Troll come to mind as examples. Both have been mentioned on this blog previously. There are others. In any event, temps are so transient that it would be impossible to try and know them all and learn their names. And that doesn't even address whether a wise person would want to.

Having eliminated most of the folks I work with from any kind of personal interaction at all, we move to the next category: People to whom I will speak, but still not bother to learn their names. I have no particular affinity for them, but I do not find them to be someone with whom I refuse to speak. They're OK, but of no special interest to me, and hence not worth the brain cells it would take to learn and remember their names. They likely feel the same way about me, but if they don't, I don't care. That's just the way it is.

Now we get to the third filter: people I actually like. Even here, there are sub-filters. People I like, I will bother to learn and remember their names. We will chat in the break rooms, go out for a drink after work occasionally if it is convenient for both of us (no extra effort required, in other words), and generally be friendly -- but we will not exchange any contact information. If one of us got hit by a bus and the other didn't know, there would be no worrying about "Where is Raised by Wolves" if the person didn't see me for a few projects or, for that matter, ever again. We're just not that into each other.

Sub-filter two here catches the people whose names I learned and like well enough to give them my email address. We're down to being able to count these people on my digits without taking my shoes and socks off. I might only need one hand. I actually like these people and talk to them about things that don't involve work. They are perilously close to being friends of mine.

The last sub-filter is people with whom I want to maintain contact outside of Temp Town even if we both leave Temp Town. not only do I give them my email address, I give them my cell phone number. These people are actually friends of mine. In all of Temp Town, there are three people who meet this standard. They might be the only three people in Temp Town who would want to meet this standard -- I'm not claiming that people are pining away, hoping to get my phone number. I'm just saying that I apply my personal filters and arrive at conclusions about with whom I choose to associate, and at what level.

And this brings us to my earlier "class" reference. As anyone who has read this blog for more than a couple minutes knows, my opinion of management in this industry is low. Rule No. 1 in Temp Town is "They're Lying." "They" is everyone we work for -- the agency, the law firm, the firm's client. None of them value us enough to tell us the truth. But by and large, the only entity that communicates with us is the agency. And they're lying. There are a variety of reasons for this, most of which are explained in the early days of this blog (link-free, sorry, but refer to my earlier statement of laziness). But one of the reasons they're lying is, we are not of their world. This cuts to the core of my "class" reference at the beginning of this post.

Temps make their decisions about which temps they choose to associate with -- and how close those associations become -- on a personal basis. Temps' relationship with their agency is based entirely upon a social class arrangement -- a caste system, if you will. In this world, all temps are automatically beneath all agency employees. I don't think the agency folks even realize they're doing it, but they are, and it is intentional. Perhaps they simply don't see it as the class warfare it is. Maybe they do and don't care. I don't know. But I do know that the class warfare is both undeniable and intentional.

The agency for whom I currently work recently moved into a new office space. The new space combines the corporate offices -- sales, administration, etc. -- and the review spaces. To ensure that the hoi-polloi reviewers cannot stroll back into the corporate section of the office space, there are key-card locked doors between the corporate and review areas. Reviewers' key cards will not open the doors leading to the corporate spaces. Think of it as the moat that separates the nobleman's castle from the serfs who work his fields.

Unfortunately for the nobility here, the ventilation system is such that there is an over-pressure situation on the corporate side, and the airflow out of the corporate side tends to prevent the doors from closing all the way, meaning it usually does not require a key card to pass from the review side to the corporate side.

And this brings it all together. Two of the three people in Temp Town with whom I share both my email and cell phone info -- in other words, people I would call friends -- are project managers at this agency. Their office is on the corporate side of the moat. Fortes fortuna juvat, so I when I had time I would routinely take advantage of the air-flow disparities here and go across the moat, sans key card. This week, I got an email from on high telling me to quit coming across the moat because I don't belong over there. If I need to talk to a project manager, I can email that project manager or contact a corporate toadie to see if they can solve my problem. But stay on my side of the moat.

There may be legitimate reasons for this policy -- for instance, to keep reviewers from disrupting corporate business. But I don't see it -- all of the offices have doors that can be closed, most reviewers have no reason to go back there -- and, for that matter, no time and, frankly, no desire to go into the corporate spaces. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the policy has legitimate groundings -- what it looks like is a moat: keep the serfs on their side of the moat.

I'm not a class warrior, and I actually like the folks I know on the corporate side, but really? This might not be malicious, but it sure isn't a morale builder. Seems like they could treat us like responsible adults. On the other hand, I guess my years in Temp Town have taught me that most temps haven't earned that kind of treatment. Maybe I don't have a complaint here, after all.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Complacency kills

Rule No. 1 of Temp Town is, they're lying. Rule No. 2 is, if they put money on the table, take it, because no matter how long they tell you the project will last, refer to Rule No. 1. If you tell yourself you don't need to get to 60 hours this week because you can do it next week, it means next week the cap will drop to 40, you won't get any overtime and you will be what we in Temp Town like to call "Fucked." So if they tell you that you can work 60 this week, you do it. You do it even if they tell you you can work 60 next week and every week, and that the project will probably run another year, maybe two more years. They are telling us all of these things on my current project, but I don't believe them, which is why I busted my ass this week to get to my 60 hours. Refer to Rule No. 1.

As I got in early each day this week and left late, I could not help but notice that the sign-in sheet -- a lovely, archaic device whereby we indicate what time we arrived, what time we left and how much of a break we took, kind of like a 19th-century time clock -- indicates that almost no one on this project is getting anywhere near 60 hours a week. There are maybe a half-dozen of us. Out of more than 50 people, I would guess that only about half are even getting over 50 hours a week. The person who turned in his/her timesheet before I did when I left tonight only did 28 hours this week.

My first and only reaction to this is, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?!?!?!?!?!? If you leave 10 hours a week of overtime on the table, that is almost $500 a week you won't earn -- close to $25,000 a year. And that's if you believe the project will last that long. If you believe, as I do, that every project ends next week and that you will sit home for a couple weeks before landing another project, you're going to want that $500. So go get it.

Other folks on the project have told me that, yeah, if it were just a 4 or 5 week project, they would work every hour available for those 4 or 5 weeks, but this project is going to go forever. On the one hand, the project has been going for about 18 months, and all indications are it could go another 18 months or more. On the other hand, it might not. Which way are you going to bet? Me, I'm a slave to Rule No. 2, and I never forget that Rule No. 1 hangs over us like a sword. Looking at every project like that doesn't promote a warm, fuzzy and secure feeling, but it keeps food on the table. The folks on this project are in a dangerous rut. If they turn out to be right about how long the project will run, I will be a lot more sleep-deprived than they are. I also will have about $25,000 more to list as gross income on ext year's tax return than they will. Fair trade.

Whatever you do, don't take gun advice from Joe Biden

Let's face it, the vice president is an idiot in general. When it comes to giving advice about gun ownership and self-protection, though, listening to Joe Biden will get you into legal hot water pretty quick. He seems to constantly advocate foolhardy actions with firearms, such as this gem:
If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun. Have the shells for a 12-gauge shotgun, and I promise you as I told my wife, we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded. I said, Jill if there’s ever problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you whoever’s coming in is not going. You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim; it’s harder to use. And in fact, you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun.
I link to the Washington Post's fact-checker, which looks into whether the NRA's claim that following Biden's advice will get you arrested is true. The WaPo makes no ruling despite noting the relevant Delaware code sections cited by the NRA that explicitly outlaw the kind of behavior Biden urges. WaPo's rationale? They doubt Delaware authorities would press such a case. Funny they should mention that. Reality is not the Post's strong suit.

But hey, maybe Joe knows that firing a shotgun in the air will get you in trouble. So he advocates shooting through the door to scare off intruders. As the story notes, however, doing exactly that just got a Virginia Beach man arrested.

But hey, ladies, a shotgun is so much easier to use than an AR-15, yes? Maybe not so much.


And Joe is what passes as a gun-control advocate who is knowledgeable about firearms. Not sure how he got that label.