Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Well, the deed has been done. The worst messenger in SF was fired from my company this AM. He didn't seem particularly surprised or even bummed out or much of anything just "huh, ok". That somehow makes alot of sense now that I think about it. He seemed fairly indifferent to the job despite the fact that it's a sought after one. I think he took it for granted and didn't see the writing on the wall. Still it's a part of the job that I hate to do. Makes my palms sweaty. Gives me butterflies. I'm just no good at confrontation, that's always been a weak spot for me. I think it has to do with being a youngest child. But that's probably a bunch of crap I'm making up. None the less it's over with and I think the company will be much better off with the messenger in question now departed.

Hot as the devil's armpits on an August day around here. A little summer preview.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

This past weekend was great. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Hot but not too hot, able to take Sammy to the pool, play some basketball and drink a few beers. Just a little taste of summer. I'm looking forward to it. It even stayed warm in the evenings which is one of the things I miss about East Coast summers. Here in No Cal no matter how hot it is during the day, when night falls you lose 25 degrees off the days high temp. That means it gets chilly and the idea of sitting on the porch and reading or having a beer which seemed so great at 3 o'clock isn't nearly as comfortable at 9:30. Makes it a bit easier to sleep though.

Last week I worked on the road 2 days. 2 Days!! After going about 2 months without any days on the road at all. I've been seceding them to my business partner who works 5 days a week (as opposed to the 4 the rest of us work) and takes extra pay for the work he brings in on that 5th day. The poor guy is so broke (mostly due to the fact that he's getting divorced and has to pay child support, but also because he keeps buying cars when he shouldn't) that I give him the day that I might normally take on the road. It was really fun for a couple of different reasons. For one, I remembered how much I enjoy messengering and how good I am at it. There's something special about navigating the city. Not just riding in traffic, though I confess a certain joy from that foolishness, but knowing your way around and thinking about the best way to get from A to B, using shortcuts, accessing accumulated knowlege. We use free call dispatch and in that environment you can really feel when you're on the top of your game because you can sense that you're making all the other riders better by doing your job very efficiently. I also realized that I do miss the physical exertion of riding. The 2nd day I was on the road it was stupid busy. I don't know what happened but every client we have decided to call in a job between 9am and 1:30pm. I road my ass of for 4 hours. Just hammering. Taking on deliveries I had no business trying to do, stretching them to breaking and then getting in them in under the wire. It was fun. I remembered why I started a messenger business. The other reason that I really enjoyed being on the road was seeing the clients that I usually only speak with on the phone. Face to face time is a good thing. Shaking hands and asking how things are going is a good thing. It's also a great oppurtunity for sales. When you walk into a company you've never been in before with a package from a mutual client it's an easy "in". It's not like a true solicitation or a cold call because you're already in the office on business. I enjoyed that as well. The business partner I spoke of earlier broke his collarbone about 3 weeks ago and that opened up some slots on the bike. He's healed (or knitted as they like to say in England) and is ready to get back on the bike. However I think I'll carve a day or half day out of the schedule because I miss it.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Man it's been too long since I posted (or blogged I guess) last. Funny how life kind of gets in the way of things sometimes. Work has been very busy. This is good and bad. Of course you always want work coming in. That's the idea. That's how the company makes money. The drawbacks to being busy is cash flow. Since Jetset is always paying out employees with money that essentially hasn't been collected yet. We bill on net 30 terms and I often think that we would've been much better served if we had originally set our terms as net 15. So what happens is that when we have a really good month, as we did last month billing about $11,000 over our average, since we pay commission we have very high payroll costs associated with the billing. High payroll also = high workers comp since workers comp is based on payroll. We've got to trim the fat around here one way or another. It's no fun when you have to start thinking about laying off your one hourly worker but when payroll is being covered by line of credit until the money starts to flow in from billing and the owners are forgoing pay, you have to consider all options.

In non work related news my ankle is finally starting to feel better again. I played a ton of basketball last night and it's not my ankle that's sore today, it's my aging bones. I've tried to play twice before last night and my ankle just wasn't allowing me to do the things that I'm normally capable to doing on the basketball court. Couple that with a 3 and a half week layoff and I've shooting some bricks. But last night was good. I played 7 games and every one was a hard fought battle. That's the thing about pick up basketball, be it at the YMCA or an outdoor court, you never know what you're going to get from game to game. It has a lot to do with the level of competition. If teams are evenly matched than the level of play and intensity seems to be higher. Completely mismatched teams = no one even trying and a crap game of hoops. The other X factor is age. Often when playing with high school age kids it's either feast or famine. They play hard or they just want to dribble between their legs alot (they've watched too many And1) and then throw up ugly fade away jumpers. Totally ruins any continuity in the game, makes their teammates resentful and generally makes a mockery of good team basketball. But last night was 7 good games. Everyone played hard. Every game was a battle. Everyone was pouring sweat. The kind of games that as soon as they ended the losing team immediately wanted a rematch. Good stuff. It's why I play.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Human resources. How we hate human resources. I personally look forward to the day that we begin to employ genetically engineered human beings to do our work. Of course there will be the risk of a "Terminator" style rebellion. But such is the price of progress. I, myself, would rather combat super strength cyborgs than deal with the variety of headcases that seem unable to perform on a consistent basis the very simply tasks of a) showing up to work on time and b) being a messenger. I think back to the days when I was a full time messenger (and I didn't get to work a 4 day week until well after I'd started my own company) and I only missed work unscheduled one time and it was because I had a serious case of the flu. Is my work ethic out of the ordinary? Did I feel a weird and out of the ordinary sense of commitment not just to my employers but to the people that I worked with? I never thought so. As with all jobs I've had throughout my life (with the exception of working for Peoples Drugstore in highschool, those people were bastards) I've tried to be as good as I could possibly be in all regards. I think I succeeded in most cases (screw Peoples Drugs) and it is a point of pride. I like to be good at whatever I do. I know I may no be the best, but I'll be as good as I can be. I suppose it's too much to expect that others would always do the same. The irony is that work ethic has extended to owning a business and trying to create a positive work environment which is then taken for granted. As I've said many times before, whatever.

I'd like to go into detail about what's going on personnel wise but this one person is having problems of such an intensely personal nature that I don't feel comfortable putting it out there. I can't even think of good veiled riddles to point you in the right direction. Ok, it has to with plumbing. Say you were a plumber and you went to a jobsite with what you believed were the right tools. You had standard tools (good ones), plenty of PVC piping and a good truck. After working at the jobsite for a few years (it's a big project) you realize that you hate your tools, that they're all the wrong size, type, they're American standard and you decide you want metric, in fact you don't want PVC piping anymore you want to rip out all the work you've done and put in all copper. You hate your truck. It's a Ford and you have to have a Chevy. All these things are so troubling to you that it becomes near impossible to go to work with the tools, pipes and truck that you have. Something has to be done. But you worry about how the other plumbers will treat you. It's a big change and you don't know if you've got it in you to make it. That's kind of what's going on here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

100 Words

Stumbled across the above website yesterday. Kind of a cool idea really. Everyday for one month you write exactly 100 words not one more or less and you have to commit to doing it every single day. If you miss a day they won't post all your entries. Check it out it's kind of interesting. Some of the writing is very self indulgent but you often find a pearl.

About 10 or 12 years ago there was a band called Pond. I think they were on Subpop. The record was called Rock Collection. They broke up long ago but I stumbled across a band that has risen from their ashes called Audio Learning Center. ALC seems pretty cool but it really got me curious about that Pond album. So I went down to the underground CD vault (which in my dream world is set up like a dry cleaners and the CDs rotate around on a huge belt driven spinner) and pulled Rock Collection out and dusted it off. That record is frickin' great. If you own it, go listen to it again. It's very hard to find because it's out of print but if you find it used buy it. That shit rocks.

I'm avoiding writing about work because it is a source of terminal frustration lately. I've just gotta cut the dead weight. I'm just not good at firing people. I'll do it if they screw up royally. But not performing up to my standards is such a delicate issue and you've really got to be careful about how you proceed in this litigous day and age. The fella I want to fire has 2 customer complaints against him already and he is on notice, so I'm just hoping he screws up again. He's a nice guy outside of work but a complete jackass on the job and clearly takes it all for granted. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The above lenghy link is to a story on the very recent indictment of Reliant Electric. I believe this the first time in US history that a corporation has been indicted. The indictment stems from the grand jury belief that Reliant actively price gouged, adjusted supply and generally created an artificial power shortage during last summers nasty blackouts. It was all artificially rigged! And it was this crisis that hastened the ascent of Ahnold to the state house. There really can no longer be any trust that the institutions of this country, from politicial to economic and public to private, can operate within an acceptable moral frame work. The dollar is king. Just ask the Iraqis.
So I heard about this internet only show back in the DC area that has all sorts of local celebs involved (Bill Crandall, Ian McKaye and others). Their first show got about 1,200 hits and they're hoping to get picked up by a local TV station. It seems like real good stuff. Anti-establishment kid show that's masquerading as adult entertainment or vice versa depending on how you look at it. They don't believe in the constant barrage of toy, candy and breakfast cereal adds that our kids are deluged with as they are molded into good little capitalists. The seems like the best parts of Teletubbies, Romper Room, Soul Train and Dance Party USA. I understand that in one segment they have different bands on that perform their favorite kids songs. They've had Ian Mckaye's new band The Evens, Vic Chestnutt and from the pics on the website at least one hip hop group. Sounds really cool and if any of you cats back in DC no more about it let me know. I'm curious.

We did indeed finally make a hire here at work. We hired a girl which is a welcome addition to our male dominated crew. The irony is that the guy we offered a job to, and who subsequently declined it, came into the office this morning and asked if the job was still available. Oh well, tough cookies. I think it actually works out better this way.

I figured out that when Jesus was crucified it's a little known fact that he was put on the cross wearing fuzzy bunny slippers and thus the whole deal with rabbits on Easter. Now you know.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Here we are yet another work week. This week will prove to be a bit challenging as we have 2 of 4 drivers out (touring musicians, I hate musicians) and 1 of my partners is out for the majority of the week because his son is in town. Makes staffing a challenge. I'm sure there will be a few points this week when I'm absolutely pulling my hair out. Fortunately we have good working relationships with a number of other small firms so sharing work isn't too much of an issue. Also the first week of a new month is always the slowest though don't ask why that is I haven't figured it out yet.

We were very close to removing some of the dead weight from the bike board last week. We offered a job to a fine candidate and were prepared to release the least productive member of our team. In a stunning turn of events the potential hire decided to stay with his current company after they offered him more money. Frankly I think he's still making less than what he would make with us, but he feels a loyalty to his current employer and that's commendable.

After the very exciting final four games this weekend I must admit that the GT-Uconn final was a bit dissappointing, unless of course you're a Huskies fan. I don't think that the final result of that game was ever in doubt. I think the Uconn-Tennesse womens final tonight will be a much better game. Diane Tuarasi has been playing out of her head, it's too bad there isn't a higher profile womens pro league in the US for her to graduate to. She deserves a better stage on which to showcase her skills.

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