Monday, June 30, 2014

Working 7 days sucks

I haven't had a day off in two weeks now and, yeah, I'm bitching. I have three new countries that have visited, and I need to put up posts on those. Not sure when I'll get to it. A good country post takes more work than I can put in when blogging behind enemy lines. Those have to be quick hits, like this one -- a few seconds bitching or whatever, then back to work.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Maybe next they'll want to do colonoscopies on us, too.

The market for temps continues to be robust, with multiple listings of new projects on most days. All that makes you wonder why any temp would take this project:
D.C. - new project; trademark review; start date July 1st
*Candidates must be licensed and in good standing in DC and not have any significant scheduling conflicts for the next month. Please let us know whether or not you are already registered with [an agency I have worked for].
*Start date: July 1, 2014
*Duration: 1 month
*Pay Rate: $29.00/hr
*Hours: 40 hours per week.
*Location: Metro Center
*Requirements: Must be active/good standing in any jurisdiction and have no significant scheduling conflicts for the next month. Completed conflicts, criminal and credit check are required.
Please submit your resume immediately in WORD format to [the email address of an agency I have worked for] with "Trademark Review" in the subject line.
Obviously, this agency is hoping to get people with trademark experience for a project with no overtime at below-market rates. The market right now is somewhere between $30/hour and $34 per hour, and it is heading up, not down. When you want specialized expertise, you normally must be prepared to pay for it. This agency, apparently, is not. Naturally, when you seek specialized expertise in Temp Town, you are at least as likely to get as many temps lying about their experience as people with actual experience in that field, so that might be why they aren't offering a premium. As busy as the market is right now, they have to know that they are close to the bottom of the barrel.

Of course, there are other problems with this project besides a low rate with no OT. Criminal and credit check? We've discussed these things before. If you have a criminal issue in your past, the Bar knows about it. As for a credit check, why? Being people who never know when their job will end or when the next will start, most temps have imperfect credit. Given the horrible market conditions the last five years or so, many temps have awful credit. Being on unemployment is not a good way to maintain a good credit rating. So why would a client care? Temps aren't going to try and borrow money from the client, nor is anyone going to attempt to bribe a temp with bad credit -- to whom a little extra money might seem attractive -- to get inside information. Hell, even temps with good credit would probably sell information, and they'd do it cheap. But nobody's offering, because the information temps get access to isn't worth it, even if you knew which temp to bribe. Temps don't pick their documents, so they can't get specifically requested information. The whole concept of these kinds of background/credit checks for temps is ludicrous. It's not that they are trustworthy necessarily, it's just that they are so low on the totem pole as to be worthless to someone seeking to penetrate an organization's files. But that's a story for another day.

The question before us right now is, why would you submit for the project above when there are other, far more desirable projects out there, staffing as we speak. For example:
[An agency I've never worked for] is staffing DC Barred attorneys for a document review project.
Must be DC barred, in good standing, active
Rate is $30.00/ hour, $45/hour for overtime, overtime expected to include weekends
Start dates: July 2nd and July 7th
Duration is 2 months.
Hours are minimum 50/ maximum 70 a week, overtime and weekend hours are expected
Please send resume ASAP to [the email address for the agency].
 That's not a bad gig, as gigs go. With significant overtime, it's a big improvement over most projects in the last few years. Or how about this one:
[An agency I have worked for] is recruiting for DC Barred attorneys for a document review project. 
Reviewers will be added on a rolling basis between June 30th, 2014 and July 7th, 2014. 
Duration is 1-2 months.
Hours are 50-70 per week to include flexibility to work weekends.
Rate is $30.00 per hour plus 1.5 for overtime.
For immediate consideration, please email resume to [the email address for the agency]. Please include any time off requests in the next 2 months. Candidates will be required to complete a conflicts form.
Again, lots of overtime, and none of those pesky and pointless background or credit checks. Just a call for temps to come and do what temps do. Click. So which project would you take, should you find you piss off God and find yourself in Temp Town? Yeah, not the first one, that's for damn sure.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused

I don't think Elvis Costello ever had to work with temps; otherwise, he might never have written that line. Today we had what might have qualified as an Actual Temp Conversation, but it really was so much more. It embodied the temp ethos that, if there is a stupid question to be asked, and temps are present, a temp will ask it.

The team leaders (temps who also serve as babysitters and go-betweens for the project managers) did a quick poll a little bit ago to determine how many people planned to come in this weekend. It went about as well as you might expect:

Team Lead: We need a rough count of how many people will be here this weekend. Could I have a show of hands if you plan to come in at all on Saturday?

[A desultory show of hands ensues.]

Team Lead: OK, now could I have a show of hands if you plan to come in at all on Sunday?

Temp 1: What day?

Temp 2: Sunday. You know, the other weekend day.

Nothing, but nothing, is too simple for a temp to screw up.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sorry, just can't get into soccer

Yeah, I know the USA is playing Germany in the World Cup as I write this. I'll root for the US, but my interest level is low. Very low. It's an effed up game. How can you tell? The clock runs backwards. Instead of starting with how much time there is to play and counting down to zero, so you always know how much time is left, in soccer the clock starts at zero and counts off how long they've been playing. Why would you do that? Because they have no damn idea how long they're going to play. Stoppage time, injury time, added time, whatever else the ref decides to throw in, apparently. It's effed up.

A little Cajun food porn for you

A couple nights ago, I needed to fix something that Cpl. Wolves and I could have for lunch at work. I decided gumbo would be good. As it turns out, I was right. My photo record here is incomplete, as I only decided at the last minute to make this a food porn post, but you'll get the general idea. First, bring out the ingredients. You will need 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, f tablespoons of flour, 2 pounds of fresh okra (never mind) or 2 cans of okra, a large onion chopped, a bell pepper minced, 2 cans of tomatoes chopped or a quart of tomatoes from you garden that you canned last year, 2 stalks of chopped celery, a little parsely, a little thme, 1 tablespoon of basil, a little Worcestershire sauce, a little salt, a little pepper. You will want some sausage and a couple pounds of shrimp. This time, I used scallops, because I had some leftovers and some raw scallops in the freezer. It worked. You will also need 2 quarts of water. Yeah, not everything is pictured here:

Because I think you would be crazy to do otherwise, you also should have some Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. I put it in every even vaguely Cajun dish I make -- gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, whatever. Gotta have it.

So first, heat the oil in a large pan, then mix in the flour. Stir constantly as you bring it to a low boil:

Reduce the heat below a boil and continue stirring. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it achieves a rich, reddish color and is very thick:

Meanwhile, chop up your celery, bell pepper and onion and sautee those veggies in a pan with butter:

You will need meat. Slice your sausage and brown it nicely:

You also must sautee your scallops:

Seriously, there is going to be a lot of cooking going on at once. The sausage and scallops probably will happen consecutively in the same pan, but they will happen at the same time as the roux and the veggies. You will be busy.

When the roux is red and thick, slowly add the water, stirring it in thoroughly.

You will add the okra next. I did not have fresh or canned okra, but I had a couple cans of canned okra and tomatoes and a can of okra, tomatoes and corn. Probably not enough okra, but I was doing this on the fly. Anyway, at this point, having stirred in the water and thoroughly mixed it with the roux, add the fresh or canned okra and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the sauteed veggies:

Add your tomatoes -- a quart canned from your garden or two cans of diced tomatoes -- and a can of corn wouldn't hurt. Simmer a little while:

Gumbo should be thick. If you add enough okra, which is a thickener, and did your roux right, your gumbo should get thicker as it cooks. Cook your gumbo on low heat until it is thick, then serve over rice:

Bon appetit.

Looks like they really are having trouble staffing that project

Just a few days ago I did a post about a project I thought the agency involved would have trouble staffing, given the terms they were offering. Turns out I was right. Today, they ran this ad on The Posse List:
We are staffing a document review project and want to see if you OR ANYONE YOU KNOW are available and interested. Please reply as quickly as possible since the space is limited.
Start: week of June 23
Duration: approx. 3 weeks
Pace: 40 hours/wk anticipated
Rates: $28/hr
Conflicts: form to complete
Location: Metro accessible
Must be DC barred
Prior document review experience
Background check and drug testing required.
If you are interested in this project and meet the requirements, please reply ASAP and:
1. Email me your current resume in WORD format.
2. Indicate your time off needed over the next several weeks, including appointments, holidays, etc. Also, point out any routine scheduling constraints you may have (example, you have to attend class every Thursday at 6pm and would need to leave the project early those nights).
3. If you do any work, outside of contract legal work for agencies, please point it out in your email.
Also, once we submit your resume to the client, you will be deemed to have committed to this project should the client choose you to start. If there is any reason that you may back out, like you’ve been submitted to another project, let me know ASAP.
That is looks to be identical to the ad they ran a few days before, but this time the ad post was titled, "Still Staffing a Document Review Project! Please respond if interested asap!" The exclamation points are in the original.

Everything I said was wrong with the project -- the rate, the short duration, the lack of overtime, the DC Bar requirement, the background check and the drug test and the warning that submitting for this project means you can't submit for any others at the same time (who the fuck would agree to that?) -- still is wrong with this project. The DC Bar requirement is understandable, but it cuts out a lot of newcomers who might take that shitty rate. All in all, given the market, why take this project when you can take this one:
[An agency I have worked for] is recruiting DC Barred attorneys for a project starting on Thursday, June 26th.
Please review the below information. If you are interested, please email your resume in Word format to [the email address for an agency I have worked for]:
*Pay Rate: $35/flat, no OT
*Hours: Mandatory 10 hours per day
*Location: Epiq DC Office
*Duration: Thursday, June 26th through Tuesday, July 1st. Saturday and Sunday required.
Sure, it's a short project, but Rule No. 1 tells us that the agency is probably lying about the 3-week project  -- might only be a week, and they fear no one would take such shitty terms for a week of bad pay. Might really be a 3-week project, but who knows? Take the money in a busy market and gamble on their being another project when you finish. The way things are going, there will be, and the pay will be better than that shit project.

Not to imply that the second project is without problems. They start on a Thursday intentionally -- they want you to work like a fucking machine for about five days, but split it so that the days fall into two different pay weeks and you have no chance of overtime pay no matter how much you work per day. Most agencies do a Monday-to-Sunday pay week, but I think the agency in question does a Sunday-to-Saturday pay week. No more than three days will fall in a single week. No overtime. Sorry, but thanks for playing, kids. However, lack of overtime is still kind of standard, so that isn't really that big of an impediment. People are naturally reluctant to sacrifice a weekend for no OT, but they'll do it if they can't find other work.

Busy as the market is right now, I wonder how many people can't find other work?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A temp conversation to remember

The agency is bringing in new monitors that it purchased to replace some rented monitors. The  rented monitors are small and square, as opposed to the new monitors, which are widescreen. The arrival of the monitors prompted this temp conversation:

Temp 1: I actually kind of like my small monitor.

Temp 2: I guess if you like that kind of thing.

Temp 1: Hey, it's not how big your monitor is, it's how you click.

Temp 2: Yeah, I've heard that.

Temp 1: Mostly from guys with small monitors.

I told you there are kittens in the house, right?

First of all, having noted that the kittens' names are Murder and Mayhem, it is important to note that both kit-tays have stripes that form an "M" right in the middle of their foreheads:

Even God knew they should be named Murder and Mayhem. Having established that, they are the cutest killers around:

They feel free to use Cpl. Wolves as a bed:

And, in general, they like to romp around:

Working on video. Be patient.

Wow. The rates are going up even more

Ever since the market for temps crashed in the second half of 2008, during our wonderful economic recovery work has been uneven and low-paid. The going rate went from $35/hour to $30/hour overnight, and stayed there for six years. If you were lucky. There were lots of projects at $27 or $28 per hour, and we choose not to speak of the JD-only projects at $18 per hour. Those are still with us, as readers of this blog know.

However, in the last several weeks, the market has exploded. In the last two days, there have been about 20 projects advertised on The Posse List. I only know about these because I subscribe to The Posse List and get the emails. I have no idea what has been posted on Craig's List or elsewhere. Things are on fire. We have seen projects re-post because they couldn't fill their slots the first time around. My project keeps advertising for more people. We're seeing rates at $31 or $32 per hour, and we're starting to see overtime. I don't know if it will last, but it's a good trend.

Today, we saw an even more positive sign. One of the projects posted yesterday on The Posse List reposted today:
We are staffing for a review scheduled to begin as early as tomorrow afternoon (Wed 6/25/14).
*Must be DC barred
*Pay rate $34/hour. No OT expected.
*Must be able to start ASAP
*Duration: one week - approx.through July 3rd
*In DC near Metro
Please respond ASAP with your updated resume to [the email address for an agency for which I have never even registered, much less worked].
This project was at $32/hour yesterday. Granted, it is short. But they couldn't staff it at $32 with no overtime. My project and the upcoming review that will accompany the Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger are eating up every temp in town. Make the money now, kids. Remember Rule No. 2.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

And then back on the other hand . . .

Despite at least some negative signals in the market, there are things happening on my project that indicate that the market really is pretty tight. Since I started less than two weeks ago at the beginning of this project, two new groups of contract attorneys have been added. Also, more than 50 firm staff attorneys have been added to the review list. They probably were already on the project as floor guards, but lots of firm names have been added to the list of people who can check out batches for coding (I can see the list when I go to check out a batch in the computer system).

And today, the agency announced that there would be a $200 weekly bonus -- for the next two weeks, anyway -- for anyone who managed to work 50 hours Monday through Friday and an additional 15 hours on Saturday and Sunday. First of all, anybody who isn't working 50 hours M-F is not serious about earning a living. It is like rolling off a log to get 60 hours, and there currently are 65 hours available to work M-F. So Part 1 is a piece of cake.

Part 2 on the weekend is no more difficult. We now have 23 hours available on the weekend -- 11.5 hours each day -- since the hours expansion last week.   If you can't earn the bonus under those circumstances, then you should probably get into a different line of work.

But what does this tell us? First, it shows that the firm is feeling time pressure and does not think that the current rate of review will get things done in time. It also shows that participation this past weekend wasn't all that great. Finally, it indicates that more bodies to throw onto the fire are becoming hard to come by. Usually, if the folks you have aren't enough to get shit done in time, you add more folks. Starting to sound like that might not be an option. Bonuses like that, just for showing up, are pretty rare, especially these days. Lately, overtime in any amount has been enough to get folks to be there for pretty much every minute. I find this interesting, but I don't know yet what it means.

Yeah, The Canary is still alive

I am now fairly well convinced that absofuckinglutely no one will be fired from this project. First of all, The Canary is still with us. He still doesn't spend a lot of time in his seat, but he apparently coes enough documents to avoid the ax. The agency isn't going to fire him for being a turd -- they get paid based on how many hours he works. If the firm complains he is a turd, the agency will simply explain that he's worked for them a lot and there never have been any complaints. But the firm won't complain he's a turd as long as his numbers are in an acceptable range. Apparently, they are, although God knows how. Of course, you can code a lot of documents in a short time if you mark everything non-responsive without reading it. I suspect that's where we are with this guy. So nobody is worried about getting canned. The Canary lives. Not as cool as "the Dude abides," but it will have to do.

On the other hand . . .

The same agency that listed the project I thought was pretty good that they were having trouble staffing is listing a project that sounds like they think there are still plenty of contract attorneys desperate for work, especially newbies:
[An agency I have worked] is looking for law school graduates (J.D.'s) and paralegals with a minimum of 3 years of legal experience to start a project next week.
Need all Word version resume submissions by 9:00am Tuesday 6/24/2014, the latest.
The ideal candidate will be a Juris Doctor graduate or a paralegal with 3 years of legal experience. Legal experience may include legal internships, document review, student clinic, law clerkships, law firm, temporary, full-time, etc., type work.
Experience reviewing contracts/agreements is a plus.
Pay rate is $18/hr. 40 hours a week. Duration: 5-7 weeks. Location: Downtown D.C. (next to Metro Center metro stop.). On-site work only.
This group will be starting Wednesday 6/25 or Thursday 6/26//2014. This is an add-on to an existing project. MUST have good computer skills and good Microsoft Excel skills to do this work.
If interested, qualified, and available, please reply to the link below with a Word version resume (no phone calls at this time, please):
Just for starters, most paralegals with three years of experience have actual jobs. The ones who don't, suck. This is the time of year JD-only people come to D.C., hoping to make the big time but having no job, and they wind up doing temp work. They haven't even taken their state bar exam yet, much less passed it, and so they can't become members of the DC Bar, either. They have to eat, so they take shit like this. Some of those people with JDs will take the paralegal jobs, just to have a job. It sucks, and in a market that seems busy, it really sucks. But most gigs these days require DC Bar membership, and this project is aimed at people who can't possibly have DC Bar membership. On the other hand, projects like this tend to depress rates, even in a tight market, as agencies and firms find ways to hire people who don't have DC Bar membership so they can pay them less -- and, in this instance, much less -- than the going rate.

I think the market might be getting tight

An agency I have worked for in the past put up a job posting on The Posse List on Sunday, seeking resumes for a project starting Tuesday, which to me is tomorrow because I am still up, but according to the time and the calendar is today. In any event, the original post indicated that the project was paying a decent rate, it would last about a month and overtime was expected. Not too bad, especially these days, with OT very limited and usually nonexistent. The only downside I saw was they wanted resumes by 9 pm Sunday night and that there might be face-to-face interviews required, to take place Monday. Not clear whether the interviews would be with the agency or the firm. Probably the firm, but still not a big downside.

Well, they apparently are having a little trouble staffing the project, because Monday morning, this posting appeared on The Posse List (red emphasis in original):
Still accepting submissions/resumes until 9am Monday, June 23rd. Interviews (face to face) may be required and they will take place in Arlington on Monday.[An agency I have worked for] is looking for experienced contract attorneys with any U.S. bar, in good standing, to add to an existing project.
Project will start Tuesday 6/24/14.
All candidates must be willing to work in Arlington, VA (next to a Metro stop) .
Interviews (face to face) may be required and they will take place in Arlington on Monday.
Project details:
*Need experienced contract attorneys with any U.S. bar, in good standing, to add to an existing project.
*Must have at least 3 months of experience performing document review.
*Prior document review experience and /or privilege team experience is a plus.
*Starts Tuesday 6/24/14. Interviews may be required and they will take place in Arlington on Monday 6/23/14.
*Pay is $32/hr plus time and half over 40 hrs/wk. 40 hours/week. Some OT is expected.
*Duration - 4 weeks. Great work environment.
If interested, available, and qualified, please reply to the link below with a Word version resume. Please, no phone calls.
Six months ago -- hell, three months ago -- this project would have been staffed in minutes. I think it is partly because my project is sucking in contract attorneys like a black hole, but I also am seeing a lot of new project listings -- probably half a dozen just today. After six long years of total shit, it appears that the market is finally at least decent. We'll know soon enough -- if we see rates rise, that will confirm my suspicion.

Monday, June 23, 2014

We might have a winner for strangest search terms

People find this blog in all sorts of ways -- many of them are contract attorneys who search using some variation on the name of the blog. That, of course, is the most common way people find this blog.

Then there are the variations on the porn theme I have encourage from early on in the history of this blog. Porn sells, so I use porn-related terms a lot, like "fuck" and "porn." Duh. "Hot babes" is a popular search term, which has led to posts like this and this. Usually, my dreams of an explosion of porn-hungry traffic are dashed. But a man can dream, right?

In any event, the strategy of openly discussing the appeal of porn and hot babes in driving internet traffic hasn't been a total bust. In any given month, at least one of the top search terms or phrases involves "hot babes" or some variation in some way. We have, however, achieved the pinnacle of achievement with respect to drawing a truly bizarre search phrase. Yes, I think we have a winner in that contest.

The winner: Macedonian porno blogspot. With this phrase, someone was able to combine a reference to the blog location, a reasonably generic porn search term, and, oddly enough, a reference to my "new visitors" posts, where I highlight new countries visiting the blog for the first time. Yes, Macedonia has come by. Once. Yes, I did a post.  I am reluctant to duplicate the search to see what else comes up. I have no doubt the person who searched using that phrase was much more satisfied with some of the other results.

The beatings will continue until morale improves

Apparently worried that they weren't doing enough to burnish their reputation as petty tyrants, the firms have stepped up the patrols of Little Eichmanns. They pace through the work suites, eyeing the temps suspiciously. They have set up beats, apparently, that overlap -- as soon as on of the floor guards passes out of one suite, another enters from the next. The only thing that keeps the picture from being perfect is that they aren't lightly slapping nightsticks into their palm.

Yesterday, the woman who sits next to me -- a very nice person and not in the least disruptive -- got jacked up late in the day by one of the roaming enforcers. I had left earlier, as had the guy who sits to her left. The firm thug -- probably a staff attorney, but possibly an associate* -- reprimanded her for talking. When she explained she wasn't talking, as there was no one to talk to, the enforcer informed her that she had been talking earlier, and was being reprimanded for that. Hard to dispute, I guess. So today she kept her headphones in and mouth shut all day. Didn't click any faster, of course.

* The distinction is important. At a large firm, an associate has a future and a much bigger paycheck. The staff attorney has no opportunity for advancement and enjoys only slightly more job security than do temps. Firms lay off staff attorneys all the time when they need to save money or don't have any document reviews going on. Some firms use staff attorneys basically as temps with benefits, staffing up for impending document reviews and then laying off after the review ends. Staff attorneys know this and frequently are bitter. Also, most staff attorneys used to be temps and are just glad to have someone to look down on. It makes many of them absolutely insufferable. (And yeah, I'm blogging behind enemy lines. Break time, or they'd jack me up for it.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Coming attractions

I won't lie, working seven days sucks. I've been doing most of my posting late at night after I get home, which means I am always exhausted. The sacrifices I make for you people. Last night, instead of posting -- sorry, kids -- I made gumbo. At the last minute, I decided to document the process to use in a food porn post later. That should go up today. Also, expect more kit-tay photos in an upcoming post. Right now I'm blogging behind enemy lines, but I wanted to give anyone interested a heads-up.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's not "Here It Goes Again," but it's pretty damn freaky

OK-Go gained a small measure of fame about seven years ago with their video for "Here it Goes Again," which was itself a brilliant power pop song. The video outdid the music with its originality and complexity. Who could forget the four band members and their treadmill antics -- especially their record label, which had no idea they were recording the video.

Fast forward to the present, and they're at it again. Via Ace, Moe Lane introduces us to the video for OK Go's new single, "The Writing's On The Wall." It's pretty awesome.

Lots of optical illusions and such. According to Ace, who apparently had an inside source, it took the bank 61 takes to get it right, but the final version is done in a single take. Given the way the camera moves around, that is astounding.

Of course, I always thought the "Here It Goes Again" video was a single take, as well, but I don't know. It, of course, is an interwebs classic:

We have kit-tays in the house

Cpl. Wolves and Marrying Into Wolves obtained two kittens the other day. They are getting their own place soon -- Cpl. Wolves and Marrying Into Wolves, not the kittens -- but for now the kittens will live at Chez Wolves. Cpl. Wolves is going to Mountain Combat Training in California for a month in a couple weeks, so we will keep the kit-tays in the meantime.

They're really cute, and people tell me that kittens are the key to success on the interwebs, so I figured I would toss them out there, figuratively speaking. We'll start with pictures, then get some video up as soon as possible. By the way, their names are Murder and Mayhem -- which looks hilarious on their vet records, where they just got their shots. I think the names are appropriate. Their behavior tends to back up the names, and both appear to have an "M" etched in black stripes above their eyes. I shit you not. Anyway, kit-tay pictures:

I still can't tell them apart -- I'm not sure anyone can -- but this is Murder (or Mayhem -- whatever) attacking Jeb the Wonder Dog's tail. Jeb was a little unsure about these guys at first, but he's cool now, all of 48 hours later.

They are, after all, kittens, and so they sleep a lot. Last night, they came upstairs from the basement (where Cpl. Wolves' bedroom is) to the main floor when I got home at 9ish. They messed around while I messed around, then climbed up on one of the dining room chairs and took a nap.

One nap is never enough, so they messed around some more, then napped some more.

Both of them are up here on the main floor now -- at midnightish -- and one has climbed up into my lap three times while I'v been putting up posts. Thank God kitten claws won't penetrate denim.

Mrs. Wolves was taking pictures during the day, so those will be up soon. Can't wait to get some video. I hear cute kittens are money on the interwebs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

They might be able to staff it, but it won't be easy; Update

I got a Posse List email today about a project that looks like the agency might have a hard time staffing. Explanation after the email:
We are staffing a document review project and want to see if you OR ANYONE YOU KNOW are available and interested. Please reply as quickly as possible since the space is limited.
Start: week of June 23
Duration: approx. 3 weeks
Pace: 40 hours/wk anticipated
Rates: $28/hr
Conflicts: form to complete
Location: Metro accessible
Must be DC barred
Prior document review experience
Background check and drug testing required.
If you are interested in this project and meet the requirements, please reply ASAP and:
1. Email me your current resume in WORD format.
2. Indicate your time off needed over the next several weeks, including appointments, holidays, etc. Also, point out any routine scheduling constraints you may have (example, you have to attend class every Thursday at 6pm and would need to leave the project early those nights).
3. If you do any work, outside of contract legal work for agencies, please point it out in your email.

Also, once we submit your resume to the client, you will be deemed to have committed to this project should the client choose you to start. If there is any reason that you may back out, like you’ve been submitted to another project, let me know ASAP.
OK, the list of problems for this agency is long. Short project, no overtime -- not great, but typical these days, so not a huge obstacle. Same for the conflicts form, which can be a real pain in the ass if you've been doing this a while. You never have any idea what might conflict you out (and, thus, what to leave off your conflicts form). The pay sucks, but they'd probably have no real trouble staffing it at below-market rates. The market is busy, but there are a lot of temps out there. Somebody will show up.

Now we start getting to the real impediments. The project I am on is paying $4 per hour more and is adding people -- one new group started today, the agency placed another ad today looking for more. No conflicts form -- just verify you've never worked against certain parties (and only three, at that). Truthfully, I don't recall if my project requires DC Bar membership. Assume it does, and you're even -- except my project pays more than $1,000 a week more, and DC Bar membership is not cheap to obtain or keep. So there's that.

Prior experience is not a problem for most, and certainly not for people with DC Bar membership. They've been here a while. The next big obstacle for these guys is drug testing and background check. You want to hire me for three weeks and yet you require a background check? You might not get the background check back before the project is over (that happened to me on one of the two projects I have taken that required a background check. I always thought it amusing how long they would let me work for them without knowing what they hoped the background check would reveal.). Further, the fact that I still have my bar membership should prove I don't have any serious issues in my background, at least as far as criminal matters go. And if you're worried about my credit, stop. Most temps have shitty credit, and you're supposed to pay me, not the other way around, remember?

As for drug testing, I have no idea how many temps are worried about getting caught by this. I know I've only had to do it once, and it irritated the fuck out of me because it was monumentally inconvenient, especially since I had to do it twice. Who knew that if you drink a lot of water to make sure you can pee, your sample will be "too diluted" and thus invalid? I sure didn't. Anyway, most temps view these measures as far too intrusive to be justified by a short-term project where they'll be lucky if I'm paying attention at all, much less paying enough attention to steal valuable information so I can sell it to their opponents, or whatever. The whole idea is ludicrous.

So good luck staffing that. In the current market, I wouldn't take it.

Update:  Yeah, I forgot one thing. It's about that whole "once we submit your resume to the client, you will be deemed to have committed to this project should the client choose you to start" thing. No one in his right mind submits to only one project at a time -- you submit to everything out there and then choose the best project that accepts you. You're a fool to do it any other way. Once I submit my resume, the agency is not deemed to have committed to hire me, so fuck them if I get a better offer. All the agencies say this, and no one pays any attention to it. Don't know why they keep trying that horseshit, but they do. And temps keep telling them they have the flu when they accepted a better project. "Thanks, but I can't start this project -- I have the flu" is Latin for "Fuck you. Too late, bitches."

Closing in on a record of sorts

Sure, it's just an Eff You record, but a record's a record, right? Anyway, the most times I posted on this blog in a single month ws 48, in December 2013. Yeah, that one still baffles me, too. The fuck was going on in December? Hell, I don't know. The next most was May of this year, when I posted 44 times.

With 10 days left, I have posted 42 times in June. Seems likely that we will soon have a new Eff You record for number of posts in a calendar month, although I suppose I still could get hit by a bus. Anyway, for what's it's worth, which is nothing, there it is.

If you don't cry at this, you aren't human

The kind of stuff I read on the interwebs often leads me to stories like this. I really don't want to quote from that blog, or the blog it led me to, part of which includes the update entries of the young hero's girlfriend. I'll just say this: Taylor Morris was a young man who enlisted and became a Navy EOD -- explosive ordinance disposal technician. In May 2012, he was injured in an IED explosion. I'm going to post this picture of Taylor and his girlfriend, Danielle, from before he went to Afghanistan:

I think they might be doing the "Safety Dance." Thanks to for the picture, via cavemancircus. Other than that, I simply urge you to follow the links. It is truly inspirational what both of these young people have done in the face of unimaginable adversity, and if you don't cry at some point in following those links, then stay away from this blog. You scare me with your heartlessness. But I don't think my readers are like that, so donate through your tears.

Just in case they are doing the "Safety Dance" and you don't know what that is, here:

Despite that atrocious video, Men Without Hats was not a bad band -- Safety Dance actually was a really good song, and not even their best, in my opinion. That would be "Security:"

And, of course, pardon the digression, particularly if Taylor and Danielle's pose was not a "Safety Dance" reference.

There are some things that everyone should see

Maybe readers here don't remember or never watched "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" -- fortunately for me, it was decades too late for me to watch for my own purposes, and 10 years too early for my kids to make me watch. Please don't bring up the Power Rangers, however, as I still carry a torch for one of the chicks who played the Pink Ranger.

But I digress. My oldest sent me a video with the admonition, "Just watch it." I did. You should too.

Somebody has way too much time on their hands.

You people should comment more often. Really.

There are some regular readers who comment on posts, but what I really need to see is comments from people I don't hear from all the time. Tell me what you like, what you don't like, tell me I'm a douchebag and you want me to die, tell me you want to have my children (for comments like that, please include a photo and a phone number. Just sayin'). It would help me make this blog more like what people want to see while still keeping that flavor of some guy bitching about just freaking everything. So comment. Or don't.

Yeah, the Canary is still alive

Actually, given the events detailed in the last post -- especially the hours increase -- I'm not surprised. Looks like we might be behind the curve, production-wise. But yeah, the Canary remains with us. He got moved to a new seat, however, apparently because of relentless complaints about him from the woman sitting next to him. Lord knows what she was complaining about -- the possibilities are endless.

I feel like I passed a test or something

Two things happened today that make me feel like this project has turned a corner, even if the petty oppressiveness continues, which I believe it will. As I have said before, your seat is all you have. Hell, it's Rule No. 7. When they moved me on Monday to a much, much, much worse seat, I was seriously pissed.

And the more I thought about it, the more I was pissed that the hours we are getting, while good for a 6-day project, really kind of suck for a 7-day project. To work 7 days a week for only 73 hours, which you clearly could get in 6 days, sucks in a giving-up-my-time kind of way. The paycheck is good, but the lack of a day off is not. Toss in the petty oppressiveness, and you have a recipe for hate and discontent.

Well, like Job, I have been rewarded. Having spent four days saying not a single word to anyone in the shit-ass room I was moved to, I have been returned to the most excellent seat I had at the beginning of the project. This is because new people are coming on, and I wisely suggested that the new people should be in the "privilege room" rather than someone like me, who had already benefitted from the advantages of being in the presence of such privilege-oriented wisdom. Bullshit on my part, but it worked. Squeaky wheel, people.

So I am back in the seat I chose, as insulated as is possible from the random horseshit that comes from being a temp, with people I chose sitting next to me. Suddenly, I feel like I might survive the project, especially since I no longer have to sit next to Stinky Joe, who has a mouse nesting in his scalp. Mouse aside, he has a really irritating voice, apparently is very stupid and clearly is a lazy sack of shit. Glad to see the last of him.

Unexpectedly, though, when I got home tonight there was an email waiting that helps explain why I am giving up sleep to post this. It read:
Starting Friday June 20th the review center will be open between the hours of 8am and 10pm Monday – Friday. The weekend hours have also been extended from 8am to 8pm. Because of this change we have revised the cap in hours as well. You are able to work up to 13 hours during the week and 11.5 on the weekends. Please understand that you must take a 30 minute break for every 6 hours that you work. If you work a 12 hour day we require that you are on break for at least an hour. There should not be anyone who bills 12 hours and has less than an hour break. I’m sure you will have plenty of questions tomorrow which we are happy to provide answers for. Thank you for your dedication and hard work.
This just boosted the hours possible from 73 per week -- good hours, especially these days, but only marginally worth having no days off -- to 88. That's just good hours. If you have to work 7 days a week, 88 hours makes it worth your while -- more than half your hours are time-and-a-half. And that's very good indeed.

The song always reminds me of New Orleans. Before I was a temp, I had a client who was in the French Quarter, and when I would go there on business, there was a piano player in a bar who would have me come up and sing "Money." We were talking one night, I told him I was in a band, and one thing led to another. It was a blast.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Malaysia visited my blog and neither one of us got a stupid tee-shirt

Seems wrong, somehow, but, tee-shirt or not, welcome to Eff You nation, Malaysia! Malaysia is a southeast Asian nation located on the Malay Peninsula (mostly). It was first inhabited about 40,000 years ago, apparently, but the Portuguese came in 1511, only to be tossed by the Dutch in 1641. The British snaked their way in in 1786 and were running things by 1824. Singapore, which used to sorta be part of Malaysia, being at the tip of the Malay Peninsula and all, became British in 1819 and has been separate from Malaysia ever since.

The country has about 28 million residents, mostly Muslims. The economy has been gangbusters for freaking forever, based largely on natural resources and tourism, but with the industrial sector dominating since the 1980s.

Kuala Lumpur, the capital, is a pretty modern major city, with shit like this:

That's the Petronas Towers, which holds the headquarters of the national oil company Petronas. Apparently, they are the tallest twin-towers in the world.

So welcome, Malaysia. Glad to have you.

Oh, by the way, the canary still lives

I'm not sure why. He is in his seat more than he was as of Saturday, so I assume someone said something to him, but I am told he still isn't actually working. I don't even want to share what I am told he is doing with at least some of this time, but my informant is reliable and I believe her. Leave it at that.

I think it is important that we set up, just a bit, what the Canary looks like. There is an element of this:

I'm sure all of you recognize William Conrad, the late actor who played Nero Wolfe and the detective Cannon on TV during the '70s and '80s. But that doesn't truly capture this guy. You have to go further back to really get a flavor for the Canary, who looks like a cross between William Conrad and this guy:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Petty offensiveness, defined

I have mentioned the petty offensiveness of the firms running this project and their total lack of regard for the alleged professionalism of the temps they have hired. Obivously, they have no faith in that professionalism, and they have good reason to believe that -- please see Rule No. 8. The guy to my right in my new, shitty seat is a shining example of why firms think temps are next to worthless and deserve no respect. Yeah, I'm talking about the guy with the mouse nesting in the fat fold on his otherwise shaven scalp. That's right -- Stinky Joe. He and I are reviewing essentially the same type of documents -- a mix of clearly not privileged, maybe privileged, and clearly privileged. Because of Rule No. 10, all of these calls are easy and take a matter of seconds. You throw the first kind into the non-priv pile, and all the rest into the priv pile. This is not rocket science. Will the priv pile include some non-priv documents? Yes. But nobody ever got fired for over-privving. Nothing to see here, people, move on.

So why is this guy literally twiddling his thumbs over clearly non-privileged documents? Seriously, I've never seen anyone twiddle there thumbs who wasn't kidding. This guy will look at a publicly available document -- the very definition of clearly not privileged -- and spend 20 minutes reading it when there is absolutely no fucking way at all that it is privileged.  He codes roughly 1/10th as many documents as I do per day. Nobody thinks he is doing anything but ass-dragging in hopes of prolonging the project. He is why we can't have nice things. He is why we get treated this way.

What way?  We are getting overtime, but not all that much, relative to how much they want us to work. To get a decent amount of overtime, you have to work 7 days a week, all for hours you could easily have gotten in 6 days. Why? They have shifts of associates and staff attorneys to throw at the project and ensure that all of them get days off. They don't care that we don't. Time was in this business, a 7-days-a-week project meant a minimum of 80 hours, and as much as 115 hours per week, Ours? 73. That's pretty good overtime these days, but you could do 72 in 6 days without breaking a sweat. No real reason not to make that an option, but they put in place daily hours caps that make it impossible.

Internet access? No way in hell. Good temps are actually more productive if they have internet access at their work station, but bad temps aren't. The firms' default position is we are bad temps. No internet, and nowhere near enough internet access teminals.

Plus they keep anouncing other rules. Friday, there was an announcement that we were not to send text messages from our desks. On the other hand, if we leave our desks too much -- defined, I think as "ever, except to pee" -- we also get jacked up. They are essentially attempting to hold us incommunicado. Naturally, folks ignore this kind of directive. We have to communicate with our families, if not our friends.

The firms' response? Put a metric shit ton of staff attorneys on the floor, walking around looking us over like prison floor guards. They are allegedly there to answer substantive questions, but they are primarily there to crack down on texters. How do I know? Well, I never ask questions, but back when I had my great seat -- end of the row, against the windows, wall behind me, no reason for anyone to come down the aisle -- on Friday, I think, I was responding to a text from my wife. A staff attorney came running down the aisle to see why I was looking down, noted that I was texting, and left when I turned around and gave him stink eye. The text I was sending, in response to my wife asking how the project was? "It's like working in a tomb, with prison guards." Thanks for making my point, assholes.

So, anyway, we have no trust, no respect, a prison-like atmosphere and an in-your-face approach of simply uprooting people and moving them to this project or that without even asking if they are interested. Given the number of temps who earn this sort of treatment, I am torn. That doesn't make it any easier to accept.

There really is no end to the petty oppressiveness of this project

So many things the firms on the project are doing that are specifically designed to make temp lives miserable, I haven't even been able to catch up. Lot's more coming, believe me. Today, though, it got personal. I had managed to snag a great seat -- arguably the best seat in the house. See Rule No. 7. I was at the end of a row against the wall, next to a window, with a wall behind me. No sneaking up on me, totally out of the way of roving associates and staff attorneys. The perfect seat.

They fucking moved me. They took me from the best seat in the house and moved me to one of the worst. Why? Because they're dicks. But also because they put me on the privilege team. I am now reviewing documents for privilege, which is a high risk-low reward proposition. They want you to have expertise in privilege, but they don't pay you any more money. And getting a call wrong and letting go a document the firm thinks is privileged will get you fired. Nobody fucking cares if you let a nonresponsive document go on responsiveness review. It just doesn't matter. So my pay stays the same, but my exposure to termination goes way up. Theoretically, the priv team will be on the job longer, but that rarely pans out.

So they moved me into the "priv room" because they want all the priv reviewers together for whatever fucking reason. Now I am in the middle of a row, facing a wall -- the entire room is behind me and Helen Fucking Keller could sneak up on me -- everybody and their fucking uncle runs into my chair as the go down the too-narrow aisle, and my computer sucks. Add to that, the mouth-breather to my left is dumber than a box of rocks, based on empirical evidence, and the "rain attenuation" questioner from the orientation session is just to her left. I can feel my IQ draining away just because of proximity. And to my right is a balding fuck known as Stinky Joe who shaves his remaining hair, except for the hair that grows in the crease of the fat fold on the back of his head. It looks like a fucking mouse is hiding in his fat fold. Yes, I am multi-eff-bomb angry about it. And all for no reason. There is no reason at all that I can't review priv documents pretty much anywhere.

And if they had asked me whether I wanted to do priv? I'd have turned them down. It's not an "honor," the risk is higher and the pay isn't. And you are now, by definition, no longer off the radar, which is all I ask of a project. Let me do my job unnoticed and go home. All that is out the window, and I am mightily pissed.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Yeah, it's another temp conversation

This is a leftover from the long-term project that ended a few weeks ago. Just getting around to posting it. Anyway, this one guy was late for work. I mean really late. So late we figured he was gone. A short exchange cleared things up:

Temp 1: We figured you were so disgusted you quit.
Temp 2: If disgust was enough to make me quit I'd have been gone long ago.
That's about how I feel right now.

The canary lives

The oxygen thief who sits across from where I used to sit (more on that in another post) was there today, apparently still employed. Since no one else will get canned before this dude, I guess that mean's we're all safe, at least for another day. He is, after all, our canary in the coal mine.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Meanwhile, down on the farm . . .

Stuff is growing like, well, stuff. We got all kinds of growing going on. The lettuce, spinach, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes didn't even merit pictures, because I am picky. However, we got onions:

And the peas are climbing like a son of a bitch:

The peppers are doing OK:

Call me in August on that one. The squash also is coming in nicely:

So are the beans:

The cukes are getting a good start:

Naturally, I brought Jeb the Wonder Dog and risked both of our lives to take his picture on the way over:

Did I mention the beans are doing OK? Yeah, both beds:

We should have some harvest pictures soon. The peas are starting to put out, the beans will soon, and the onions look pretty fricking good. We'll see what happens.

Our coal mine has a canary

Back in the day, coal miners would keep a canary with them, because the bird was more sensitive to lack of oxygen or too much carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide than were the miners. If the bird keeled over, the miners knew they needed to beat feet.

Well, our project -- or at least my little area of our project -- has a canary. There is a dude in our suite who probably isn't at his desk 10 minutes out of every hour, and he's actually coding documents even less than that. I got no fucking idea where he goes or what he does, but he is just never fucking there. Unfortunately for him, the two team leads in our suite sit directly across from him and two seats to his right, respectively. Naturally, both have let the firms know that this guy isn't actually doing any work, despite claiming pretty close to the maximum hours. The good news for the rest of us is, no matter how oppressive the firms are during this project, as long as this fuckchops has a job, fucking everybody has a job.

It's comforting. As of Saturday evening, he had not been fired. I'll let you know if things change Monday.

Just called my dad -- I hope you did, too

Yeah, today was Father's Day. I just got off the phone with my dad. We couldn't decide whether to be depressed that the administration was surprised because someone was taking advantage of the power vacuum we left in the world or to have a boner over how good the Packers look this year. We chose boner over the Packers, since Barry will be fucking things up domestically and in foreign policy for another couple years. Anyway, call your father. Even if he likes Barry. Even if you like Barry. Although if you like Barry, I especially encourage you to call your father if your father does not like Barry. Time for somebody to talk some sense to you.

Good to see some temps out there earning the shitty reputation that winds up falling on all of us

Where I come from -- and maybe where you come from -- we have a saying: You can dress him up, but you can't take him out. Sometimes, though, you apparently can't even dress them up. Saturday -- and this is going to be a seven-days-a-week project for the most part -- there was at least one person who didn't understand the difference between "casual" and "disgusting."  We were told we could dress casual on weekends -- up to and including shorts, I guess, because a couple of the staff attorneys from the firms were wearing shorts. Naturally, one temp took shit a bridge too far.

The dude is probably 100 years old, and so has nothing left to be ashamed of, I guess. He's about 5'10'', 45 or 50 pounds. OK, he's really probably about 140, and not a day over 60, but he is a skinny, old motherfucker who cannot seem to get the top of his pants and the bottom of his tee-shirt to meet. No shit, there was a four-inch strip of flesh between his shirt and pants, and it wasn't because his shirt was too short. His pants were at a level that did not border on vulgar -- they had reached the level of oh-fuck-I'm-going-to-puke-I-can't-fucking-believe-this-shit. The woman sitting next to me used the phrase "pubic hair" five times in describing this guy to me after she saw him in the kitchen. She was so appalled, I figured she was exaggerating.

A while later, I saw the dude in the hallway. She wasn't. Thank God I only saw him from behind, from a distance. Even that view was bad enough.

On the up side, he was the subject of an announcement by the firm that afternoon, letting us know that dressing like a disgusting motherfucker was not acceptable. So there's that.

I think we've got some new rules

As most of you know, there are rules in Temp Town. Up until now, I have posted only six rules. Of course, No. 1 and No. 6 are "They're lying." "They" is the firm, the agency and the client. One or all of them are probably lying at any given moment. It is not in their best interests to tell you the truth, so they don't.

Anyway, as I sat there the other day, being oppressed (see Rule No. 8 below), I realized that there are more rules that need to be codified. So I have done so. Without further ado, our newest rules are:

Rule No. 7: Do whatever you have to do to get a good seat. Your seat is all you have as a temp.
Corrollary to Rule No. 7: If your seat is where someone from the firm will notice you, it isn't a good seat.
Rule No. 8: The firms believe temps will steal the silver given half a chance and treat you accordingly.
Corrollary to Rule No. 8: Behavior by at least some temps largely justifies this belief.
Rule No. 9: Don't agonize over responsiveness calls. The document is or is not responsive -- you have a 50-50 chance of getting it right. If it might be responsive, put it in. Otherwise, put it out and move on. Low numbers are death.
Rule No. 10: Definitely don't agonize over privilege calls. If you think it might be privileged, mark it privileged. Nobody ever got fired for over-privving, but lots of people have been fired for letting a single privileged document get through.
I have no doubt there are more. Someday, they will occur to me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Whack-a-mole is a really fun game -- unless you're the mole

Unfortunately, temps are always the mole when we play Whack-a-mole, which is every project we are ever on. When you're the mole, you never want to stick your head up and be noticed, because someone is waiting with a hammer to smack you -- and they're laughing the whole time, just like people playing the actual game. Temps are constantly trying to avoid notice -- at least smart temps are -- which means never sticking your head up. If you are going faster than everyone else, your work will draw extra scrutiny because the firms will assume that you are working so fast not because you are good, but because you aren't actually paying attention, and they will bring the hammer down. On the reverse side of that coin, temps playing Whack-a-mole have to be careful, because we can stick our heads out on the bottom side of the game, as well, by working too slow instead of too fast. You really don't want to do that, either, though, because the guy watching the bottom doesn't have a hammer. He has an ax, and he cuts your head off. Gone from the project. Low numbes get you cut.

The answer, of course, is what smart temps always seek -- stay off the radar. Don't be too fast, and don't be too slow. The problem comes at the beginning of a project -- like now, on my project -- when there is a lot of pressure from the firm for temps to produce high numbers, but no guidance on what those numbers might be. Too high, you're careless. Too low, you're gone. It's a delicate dance, and right now we're dancing with no music. It really sucks to be a mole.

An actual temp conversation

A little blogging behind enemy lines here for you, as we are working seven days a week on this lovely project. Two temps were discussing how they fix their oatmeal. When one of the temps mentioned using almond milk on her oatmeal, another temp, not involved in the original oatmeal discussion, jumped in:
Temp 1: You know that's not really milk.
Temp 2: Almond milk has more calcium.
Temp 1: Why not just use milk and toss some sliced almonds in?
Temp 2: I'm scared of mad cow.
Temp 1: Mad cow? I haven't even seen any pissed off cows lately.
Temp 2: Didn't you see that beef recall this morning?
Temp 1: That's silly. Cows don't come when you call.
Temp 2: No, a beef recall. The meat.
Temp 1: Well, beef sure as hell doesn't come when you call. It's dead. Somebody's gonna have to send it back.

A Temp Town project orientation session that goes exactly as you might expect

I have not had the opportunity to post about the orientation session for this new project, and I feel like I should do that now. Fortunately, I took notes, because it was awesome. First of all, this project is like a blast from the past -- it is huge, with 300 temps on it. The last project I was on that was this big was the one that gave birth to this blog. Go to the early posts on this blog and you'll see what I'm talking about. It was a flat-out goat-roping. Given that this project involves the same client and the same firms, it appears that they are determined to avoid the goat-roping this time around. It remains to be seen whether they can, but they're trying really hard. More on that in other posts.

For right now, I want to talk about the orientation session. It was so huge, it was held in a hotel near the review site, since no single room at the review site could even come close to holding everybody on the project, plus the folks from the agency and the firms involved. Nice hotel, half a block away.

Surprisingly, I saw very few people I actually knew, although I did see Ruther Bader Ginsburg. I was kind of surprised to see her, but I figured she was augmenting her salary from the Supreme Court while they are out of session. I was later told that it was not actually Ginsburg, but just some old goat temp who looks like her. Damn.

I am told the population of Temp Town is roughly 3,000 attorneys in D.C. -- I have no way of evaluating this number. If it is accurate, though, it would mean that at least 10 percent of the population of Temp Town was in that room. I would have expected to recognize more people. Maybe I just didn't see the ones I knew.

But I definitely saw some that I knew. The Penguin was there -- a woman who looks and, alas, sounds pretty much like an angry penguin -- as was The Hippy, a woman formerly known as the Hippy Dippy Clickin' Chick. She just looks like she came straight from Haight-Ashbury, 1969, except the time machine she took did not protect her from aging. At all.

Also saw the Garden Gnome. The Garden Gnome, who looks a lot like Mr. Magoo, if Mr. Magoo had been on "Miami Vice," came by to see the attractive young lady he was stalking on the project where he first appeared on this blog. Oddly enough, he came by to ask her to let her know that an older, married friend of hers was his new target, asking the hot young thing to let the other woman know he came looking for her. Yes, he was wearing a linen jacket and a pastel T-shirt -- odd choices for someone who was supposed to be dressed business formal, meaning in a suit.

Of course, he wasn't the only under-dressed person there by any stretch. Tell a group of temps including more than two people to wear suits, and at least one of them won't. Tell the same to dress business casual -- nice pants, shirt with a collar -- and at least one will show up in jeans and a T-shirt. Guaranteed.

During the orientation session, the temps there continued to provide evidence that temps aren't trusted for a reason. The three rows directly behind me at the session were reserved for the staff attorneys and associates from the three firms who would be supervising the project, a euphemism for serving as prison guards, as we learned later. Anyway, the temps who showed up late -- and there are always temps who show up late -- walked into a room full of people, saw dozens of rows of seats mostly filled and three rows of seats completely empty, and assumed that those seats were empty by chance. At least three times, people from the agency chased temps  out of the reserved seats directly behind me. I am told it happened frequently in other parts of the reserved section where I couldn't hear it happening. Only in Temp Town. "Oh, look, somebody left me a seat in a section all by myself. Cool."

As expected, the session was boring in a way that would be dismissed as not plausible if a screenwriter tried to include it in a movie script. Among other things, we spent an hour on the "project orientation manual," a double-sided work that the person going over it with us informed us was "two pages." At least half the people in the room counted the pages. Some of them still are, baffled by the fact that it is nearly four pages, technically, but on two sheets of paper. Help me, Jesus.

Unfortunately, at the end of it all, the firm attorneys did what you should never do when facing a roomful of temps, especially that big of a room. They asked if there were any questions. Dear God, I can't count how many people got up to prove that there is, indeed, such a thing as a stupid question. In this case, all of them were. Pretty much everybody who asked a question sounded like they were on their first project ever. And that they were stupid people on their first project ever. But two stand out.

The first came from a woman who was on the 18-month project I just left. Every time the firm attorneys came by -- used to be about once a month, but later it was almost never, since I think they wanted to avoid her -- she would ask at least one incomprehensible question that they would be unable to answer. They didn't even try. The project lasted three years -- she had been on it 18 months when I joined at the mid-point. If she didn't understand shit then, she was never going to. So Wednesday she asked something about "rain attenuation" or some such shit and I realized she just can't help herself. She has to ask a stupid question. These folks couldn't answer (or understand) her question, either.

If possible, the other stand-out question was worse. It wasn't even a question. The dude stepped up and said, "This isn't really a question, it's more of a comment," and proceded to say something about something that has happened on previous projects he has been on, then closed by saying, "I know it can happen. I've seen it." The firm attorneys, thank God, realized what they were up against and closed the Q&A session at that point.

I'm sure I drew the wrong conclusions from the orientation session and that the entire project will be an intellectually fulfilling exercise surrounded by bright, inquisitive minds. Or not.

Friday, June 13, 2014

We are looking at some serious deja vu here

The project I started Wednesday involves the same client and the same law firms as the project that gave birth to this blog. That, for those of us on this project, is not a good thing. Feel free to read the earliest entries on this blog for some background, but things have changed a little. Back then, the different firms, all representing the same client, handled different aspects of the case, using different agencies to hire their temps and conducting their business at different review sites. The left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing, often enough, and both were surprised to find that there was a center hand. It was complicated and disjointed.

I believe the disjointed nature of that project led to widespread opportunities for virtually risk-free graft and corruption on the part of contract attorneys -- mostly, billing for time during which the temp was not actually present at the project -- and I also believe that at least some temps took advantage of those opportunities. I left that project before it actually ended and went to another project that was taking place only two blocks away. A number of people on that project were moving back and forth between the two, claiming overtime hours on both. I have always said that temps are their own worst enemies.

Along with the graft on that project, there was, alas, widespread, highly visible incompetence. The firms noticesd. How could they not, with incidents like this:
The CA's of the right hand were called to a meeting to have the attorneys of the firm from the left hand explain to us what we needed to do. In this way, the left hand would know what the right hand was doing. Fuck the middle hand -- they aren't part of this.
So 200 CA's employed by the right hand gather to be instructed by the left hand. The sight is every bit as impressive as you might imagine if you have been paying attention here. The room is crowded, and half the CA's have no chair. Some are sitting on the floor. So far, no problem. But right up front, where the law firm attorney from the left hand is standing, ready to instruct us, are at least two reasons why he should run screaming from the room rather than trust us to handle this task. To his credit, he does not flee. At his feet, LYING ON THE FLOOR, is a very round -- I am talking SPHERICAL -- contract attorney. He makes no effort to sit up or otherwise appear human. He simply lies there. He looks like there should be a harpoon poking out of him and a man named Ahab standing over him.
Sitting on the floor right next to him -- at least he's upright -- is another CA who could sit on a park bench full of drunken homeless people and blend right in. Maybe the greasy hair, dirty clothes and fairly strong smell of alcohol are masking an Ivy League education and world-class intellect, but is that the way to bet?
The two contract attorneys featured in that post became known as Moby and the Hobo  -- not to be confused with Hootie and the Blowfish -- and I believe that the firms involved were forever scarred by the experience.

Actually, I know so, because they seem to be taking great pains to ensure that no repeat incidents like those described above occur on this project. First, the firms involved have joined forces -- all the temps are hired through one agency, and they are all at one site. The three firms are cooperating in a single management team. There is no left hand, right hand, center hand problem. There is simply a single iron first. No velvet glove.

We have triple-redundant time-keeping measures, maybe even quadruple-redundant. There are literally dozens of staff attorneys roaming the floors of the review areas, partly to answer questions, partly to ensure that people who say they are present are in fact present, and that those who are in fact present are actually working and not watching porn on their smart phones. I have a stupid phone and feel a little left out, frankly.

I can't fault the firms for taking this approach. First, a number of the people who were on that first project are here again. Most of them seem to be the ones who actually are good reviewers, but not all, and some of them seem to be the professional bullshit artists. Moby and the Hobo apparently didn't make it, but there are some fine examples of Temp Town's worst on this project. Some are simply not at all smart, and some are corrupt and will lie about their time in a skinny minute. I've seen them do it.

Because of them, and that last project, all of us are being treated like we are in kindergarten at reform school -- not only are we immature, we're fucking criminals that the firms know will steal the silver if they turn their backs for a second. So they aren't turning their backs.

I can't say I blame them. On the other hand, it has turned what should be a profitable project into a stressful one. If I wanted stress at work, I wouldn't be doing this shit. Anyway, I have lots of notes from the first two days of this clusterfuck, and I promise to share. Midnight now, though, so I'll have to save it. I don't think we're going to hit the literary highlights inspired by Moby and the Hobo, but you never know.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In some ways, they could have been singing about temps

In relation to the last post, in which I confirmed that there is such a thing as a stupid question, I offer this:

Granted, they weren't singing about temps, I don't think, but I can't rule it out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A new project with all kinds of possibilities

Started a new project today. With 300 temps, it presents all kinds of opportunities for insights into Temp Town, assuming you have the stomach for it. It is already late, so most of my observations will wait until tomorrow, but let me just say this -- there really is such a thing as a stupid question. Trust me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I don't think this is piling on in the least

She did say "houses," after all. And the first one they bought was so she could carpetbag her way into a New York Senate seat, a state with which she had no actual contact before. But people with $8 million book advances shouldn't bitch about their financial struggles. Got this via Instapundit:

Cry me a river.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm not sure Hillary Clinton actually understands the concept of "dead broke"

I realize that this makes me a sexist, misogynist all-around-bad-person, but I don't think Hillary Clinton knows what the fuck she's talking about when  she refers to being "dead broke," at least not based on the situation she discussed with Diane Sawyer in their recent interview:

Let's look at this. Please. As Ace points out, the Clintons were pretty solid in the 1 percent even after they left the White House, between her Senate salary and Bill's presidential pension (not to mention his pension from Arkansas from his bazillion terms as governor):
She was also making $186,600 as a US Senator.
Bill was pulling down $200K in pension as an ex-President (that's just cash and doesn't include office staff, protection, etc).
OK, so we're looking at nearly $400,000 in annual salary -- roughly 10 times the national media household income at the time. Dead broke? Um, maybe not. As the December 16, 2000 New York Times noted:
Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed last night to sell Simon & Schuster a memoir of her years as first lady, for the near-record advance of about $8 million.
The deal ends a frantic weeklong bidding war that provoked widespread curiosity about just what she planned to write. Mrs. Clinton had told publishers she planned to discuss her feelings about the scandals of her husband's administration as well as her thoughts about women's changing roles in the world.
Granted, 8 million doesn't go as far as it used to, but it wasn't all the family reeled in that year, even if we ignore the $400,000 in salary they had coming. Not even close:
Former President Clinton has agreed to write his memoirs for Alfred A. Knopf, the publisher announced Monday, in perhaps the biggest deal ever for a nonfiction work.
Terms were not immediately disclosed, but the New York Times reported on its Web site that the 42nd president agreed to an advance of more than $10 million. The book is expected to be out in 2003.
That figure could be just the tip of the iceberg. The Washington Post reports the former president has received dozens of inquiries from international publishers who hope to buy foreign rights to the book.
OK, so we're up to $18.4 million or so in income for 2001, "when we left the White House."  What awful expenses did they have to cover?
According to Clinton, she and her husband, who has made over $100 million since leaving the White House, “struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education, you know, it was not easy.”
But, as Clinton’s story goes, the two hard-working, middle-class millionaires somehow managed to put food on the table in their multiple houses, even though they “had to make double the money, because of, obviously, taxes, and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.”
 Yeah, I can see her clipping coupons just to make it. Chelsea fucking graduated in 2001 -- the Clintons had to cover exactly one semester of her education post-White House, which I have to believe they could do with the money they had coming in. Even if they also paid for her post-graduate education, during which Chelsea was employed and fully capable of paying her own way.

As for the other debts? Most of that was legal bills because Bill couldn't keep his dick in his pants and then felt the need to fight the resulting sexual harassment allegations for nearly five years before settling. Of course, he had the help of a legal defense fund that raised more than $8 million from generous Democrats. Weird how Hillary never mentions that.

Despite all these hardships, Hillary and Bill somehow managed to "piece together the resources for mortgages for houses." Plural. You know, I don't think a lot of people will buy her story of hardship, even if they don't follow the links.