Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Panda Bear on Her Layoff from a Major US Corporation

Due to the Panda Bear taking on some additional projects, the Panda Bear Blog will only be updated once a week.   When she was starting her blog she read somewhere that a blogger should post twice a week but the Panda Bear would rather have one good longer post.

The Panda Bear was having some problems with her Hewlett Packard Netbook tonight.   'She thought she might have to take it to be repaired but it started to work again.   She noticed it was made in China.   Why can't US companies make more in the US?   The Panda Bear realizes that the price of some goods may go up.   However, if there were more well-paying jobs in the US, Americans could pay more for goods.

The Panda Bear wants to extend her sympathy to the currently unemployed.   She wants them to know that she has been among their ranks.   During the years 1992-1993, the Panda Bear got laid off from a major US insurance company and was unemployed for about a year.   For that year she was actively job hunting(though she volunteered to keep busy) and would have accepted about any office job.   She probably she have gone through a short retraining program which could be done while on US unemployment insurance.    The company that Panda Bear had worked for did not use PCs and they were starting to come into widespread use in 1992-1993.   Also the industry that the Panda Bear had be working in(property and casualty insurance) was severely effected in that recession.

Companies and strategies have different ways of laying people off.   Indeed, there are people who make good salaries on instructing companies on how to lay people off.    Sometimes, the Panda Bear finds it interesting to hear about how different organizations lay people off.  One company had the laid off workers train their replacements.   Some organizations discuss layoffs but never actually do it.   Insurance companies and many private companies keep layoff plans very quiet because they want to keep the workforce placid.

The Panda Bear had been very happy working in the insurance company.   When she worked for it, the insurance companies were supposed to be stable places to work.  She had received several promotions but she was still a fairly low level worker.   ( Once someone that came from company headquarters said she had heard all about the Panda Bear and how she was a very smart human Panda and how she had gone to Harvard-actually the Panda Bear had gone to Mount Holyoke College.  The Panda Bear latter got passed over a group of promotions and now sometimes the Panda Bear wonders why they did not promote her if she was supposed to be so smart.   Obviously, something else besides brains was needed to get ahead in this Fortune 500 company).

Anyway, one winter there started to be rumors of lay offs.  Management denied the rumors of layoffs.   Some workers said these rumors are coming from somewhere and that the job of management was to keep things calm.  One day the Panda Bear was told to go into a conference room with a group of other employees.   The Panda Bear and the other workers were told they were laid off and to leave right away the building right away.  The management of the company had lied about not laying people off.   Some people later told Panda Bear that the management had probably known for a few months that they were going have lay offs.   The company told the workers that it was against company policy for the company to give any kind of reference for its former employees besides verifying dates of employment.

It was the end of blind corporate loyalty for the Panda Bear.    The Panda Bear wants her readers to note several things about her layoff.   One is that when the Panda Bear and her coworkers were being laid off because the insurance company was not making a certain profit level, the CEO and heads of the company were making the most money in the history of insurance(the Panda Bear is being slightly sarcastic).

Secondly, layoff were done in order of worker status rather than what was necessarily most useful for the company.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Panda Bear on Self-Improvement Overload and Anxiety

The Panda Bear is right now in self-improvement overload.   She needs to loose ten pounds and cut back on coffee(physicians feel it makes her anxious) which she has not been successful in doing.   She has started to use Seasonal Affective Disorder Lamp.  She has started career coaching at work and has homework to do for this program.   In addition, she may start a new project which she will discuss if actually happens. 

However, what has stressed her out most is her home improvements.  Three weeks ago she announced to Mr. Panda the War on Mice and Clutter(WOMAC) when she saw a mouse in her apartment.   WOMAC is modeled after George Bush's War on Terror.   Mr. Panda likes to keep extra boxes, newspapers and old clothes in the apartment which the Panda Bear thinks are useful for mice to hide.    The Panda Bear told Mr. Panda that he was either for mice or against mice-there was no neutral position on the issue    Under the powers given to her under WOMAC, the Panda Bear threw out alot of stuff of Mr. Panda(and some of her clutter also to be totally honest).

So far there have been five mouse casualties under WOMAC but there have been no new mice caught for about a week and a half.   The Panda Bear thinks it was a mother mouse with her baby mice and they seem to have lived in the heating unit in her apartment.   She has stuffed up the space near the heat pipes which was open.   She has cleaned the house with peppermint soap; she read somewhere that mice did not like the smell of peppermint.   To the Panda Bear and Mr. Panda  the peppermint soap smells nice and if it helps keep out mice so much the better.
The Panda Bear read somewhere that it could be helpful to join a web program to help her fight clutter.   She joined the The Fly Lady.   While, the Panda Bear is sure this services of this website are probably quite useful the Panda Bear has not had time to read the FlyLady's daily updates. The Panda Bear feels like a total failure.   For some reason, home organization and projects are a major source of anxiety and fear for the Panda Bear.   The Panda Bear wonders is there some clinical term for extreme house project fear?   The Panda Bear has never understood why some people want excessively large places;they are more work to maintain.

The Panda Bear decided to table the The Fly Lady for now and take much tinier steps to organizing her place.   However, the Panda Bear wants her that she has found the book Household Hints for Dummies by Janet Sobesky to be quite a helpful.

 The Panda Bear feels that excessively high goals and standards lead to her being inert and not accomplishing anything.   Small minuscule even nano steps are what lead to successful change.   The Panda Bear told a psychologist that she thinks the term "head shrinking" for psychological help is that some people do have "shrink" their expectations and their mindset.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Panda Bear on the Seasonal Affective Disorder and Rich Paying More Taxes

The Panda Bear has noticed the days are getting shorter. Now when she goes to work it is dark and when she leaves work it is dark. The Panda Bear notices she feels more tired. She thinks she may suffer from the Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD).

However, the Panda Bear does not like the term SAD. She prefers calling it sensitivity to shorter days. The Panda Bear thinks that probably at one point in human history it probably was extremely beneficial to want to make the most use of daylight and sleep when it was dark.

Anyway, about a couple of years ago the Panda Bear bought a lightbox that is used for SAD but she never had the time at home to use it.  However, this week she had the brilliant idea to take it to work with her.   She will let her readers know if it helped her with SAD.

On the radio, the Panda Bear has kept on hearing debates on whether the rich should pay more taxes.   The Panda Bear thinks it is the patriotic duty of the rich to pay more taxes.  She thinks all Americans need to pitch in and help with the economy.  She thinks the rich need to prove that the are not laughing at the rest of us.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Panda Bear on Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party

Everyone except some politicians know that unemployment is high and that there are many more job seekers than jobs available and that it will take years of steady growth for the US to get back to a reasonable full employment situation.   The Panda Bear thinks it is the high unemployment that is creatiang breeding ground for political activism.   People have time on their hands with no job prospects.

The Panda Bear normally does not consider herself to be a right wing person but she did find herself allied with the right during the bailouts of the big banks and AIG which the Panda Bear opposed.   She thinks these big companies want to pay no taxes and want pure capitalism when they are doing well and they want socialism when they fail.   The people who caused all these financial crises instead of getting fired got a government bailout and got called indispensable to the financial system.  

The Panda Bear also has some sympathy with the Occupy Wall Street movement which is coming from the left.   The Panda Bear heard one commentator say both the Left and the Right are feeling ripped off by big business.   Instead of fighting each other, the Panda Bear feels the Left and Right should join forces to fight their common enemy the big business/government elites.

To the Panda Bear, the US seems to be run by a giant plutocracy where there is a revolving door between business and government.  All the heads of corporations are on each others boards so the Panda Bear thinks they give each other a free reign in terms of compensation and employment conditions.  It seems no matter what happens the heads of industry and government seems to do well while the common person suffers.  The heads of both business and government don't seem to feel the need to follow the same rules as the common person while making the common person suffer from the misdeeds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Panda Bear on Home Ownership, Fidel Castro and Capitalism

The Panda Bear had a three day weekend. She had to take care of her abscessed tooth, attend a religious event, and do some home projects which have become more urgent under the War On Mice and Clutter (WOMAC).

As readers of the Panda Bear Blog know, the Panda Bear hates home projects. The Panda Bear is fortunate in that she owns a condo as is not underwater on her mortgage. However, the Panda Bear is annoyed at the US government of making home ownership a universal goal for all Americans. She things some people would prefer to rent-not just for monetary reasons but because there is less work involved in renting than in owning a home. The Panda Bear believes that the US government in part is pushing home ownership to distract Americans from the problem that salaries aren't increasing and the government feels the need to do something to make Americans feel that they increasing their incomes.

Anyway when the Panda Bear feels blue about the time she needs to do on home projects, she thinks of a story Walter Cronkite told in his autobiography about a meeting Walter Cronkite had with Fidel Castro. Walter Cronkite asked Fidel Castro why property is so badly taken care in communist countries. At first, Castro gave some high minded reasons (i.e. because they need to build new housing). Finally, Castro admitted that people did not take good care of property if they did not own it. The Panda Bear things that property may be better taken care of when people own it as opposed to renting it. Owners have pride in ownership and there become financial incentives to maintain property. Where one lives becomes a financial asset with ownership.

However, the Panda Bear notes that sometimes it can be simplistic to talk about capitalistic societies like the US to be ownership societies. The Panda Bear things there is some truth that paying something from one's own money "feels" different than having some else pay for it. However, even if the US the Panda Bear thinks that probably most in most jobs people are handling someone else's money at someone else's expense. A lot of money and property managers are managing some else's goods. The Panda Bear's condo is managed by a property management organization and she things it shows they don't own the property they manage and don't care about it as much.   Some people feel professional money managers can do things to benefits themselves at their client’s expense.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Panda Bear on Sick Time, Tooth Abscess, Career Coaching and Hiring Americans

As stated in her previous post, the Panda Bear still is suffering from a dental abscess.   Her mouth is still swollen and she feels tired.  Her dentist started a root canal on Monday which will be finished on Friday.  For other personal reasons, she happened to have today off.   She had planned to do all sorts of wonderful things on her day off.   She planned to relax by going to the library and reading a book.  She also planned to talk to friends, do a post, and take additional steps for WOMAC-War On Mice And Clutter.  ( Incidentally Mr. Panda and the Panda Bear caught one mouse with a clue trap Monday-it took two glue traps next to each other  to catch the mouse.   The Panda Bear thinks the mouse came in by a back screen door-this is where she can tell there has been mouse activity).
However, this morning the Panda Bear had to use the computer to communicate with some people.   The computer is taking the place of the telephone for the Panda Bear.   She talked on the telephone to a friend who was very sick with cancer and was worried about death.   She purchased two books online(note time off for workders can be good for a consumer based economy).   It is 2:45 PM and she is just getting to writing her post.  

When the Panda Bear's mouth began swell up on Monday, she saw a Physician Assistant(PA) in Urgent Care who gave her a prescription for an antibiotic.  He did something even more remarkable and amazing than that-he(without her asking about it) advised her not to go back to work that day and gave her a sick note to take back to work explaining she was advised to take the day off.   Most Medical Doctors(MDs) the Panda Bear has dealt with make it fairly obvious that they don't like writing sick/well notes for employers and don't seem to understand the need for them.    The Panda Bear thinks the PA more understood the need for a sick note because he himself is an employee while many physicians and dentists are self-employed or on a totally different type of employment arrangement from most workers.

One of the main theses behind the Panda Bear Blog is that there is a major disconnect between physicians, employers and employees regarding health matters.  Physicians are poorly acquainted with the rules and stresses of employment and often employment policies work against average people getting the best healthcare.

The Panda's Bear's present employer combines sick and vacation time.   The Panda Bear likes this over having separate sick time.   She thinks today she is in some grey area of being sick and well.   She tends to think that most physicians and dentists would not say she is sick enough to stay home from work yet the Panda Bear does not feel great.   Under some sick policies if she took time off it would be a "vacation" day.   The Panda Bear has found it frustrating (though she is not glad she does not have major illnesses) when she has had separate "sick" time that her health problems weren't considered severe enough to qualify for sick time.

In a previous post the Panda Bear said she was going to see a work career coach through her employer.   Well it took two months but she has an appointment with the counselor on October 13.   To see a career coach, the Panda Bear had to complete an application and get a reference from her manager.  In addition, before the session she needs to complete a questionnaire defining her goals.  

The career coaching is for entry to mid-level personnel.  While the Panda Bear is not an entry level worker she is not part of the corrupt oligarchy that only seems to care about their own members.   However, the impression of the Panda Bear is that she is probably one of the more advanced clients of the coach.

As stated in previous posts, the Panda Bear career has been stalled.   She has been doing the same thing for about sixteen years and has advanced herself by switching organizations.    While she is good at her job and considered to be smart, whenever she asks about a promotion(which would be going from a mid-mid level position to an upper-mid level position) her superiors will look at her as though she is absolutely crazy.   The Panda Bear has at times received increases of responsibility that have not lead to promotion.   The Panda Bear has come to feel that the rewards of the paid work place should be tangible( raise, bonus, merit award, better working conditions, title change).

According to the SecondAct, there are some hot career opportunities in Information Technology for workers over 40.   The Panda Bear had previously tried to break into IT and was not successful.   She has several programming certificates with an A+ average.   She has found employers don't want to train people at all(in all of the Panda Bear's jobs from 1993 on she was an up and running quick employee).   In the 1990s, the Panda Bear thought employers were able to bring trained workers from abroad rather than hire Americans.  After 2001, the Panda Bear has heard that many American companies have their programming work done abroad where they can pay their workers less.   The Panda Bear does not want on extra work if it is not going to lead to some kind of advancement;she would rather have fun.

SecondAct, also states there is a need for customer service representatives.  The Panda Bear wonders where SecondAct got their information.   All the customer service jobs and help desk jobs now seem to be handled overseas where often the person you are spreaking to is hard to understand.

What can be done to get American companies to hire Americans?    The Panda Bear does not like senseless nationalism but the Panda Bear thinks there something unpatriotic about American comapnies hirng foreign workers rather than Americans.   Should the brightest and best be America's own citizens?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Panda Bear on Dental Abscesses, Political Protest, and her War On Mice And Clutter(WOMAC)

The Panda Bear had intended to write about the plight of the unemployed, the nature of the US presidency and the need for political protest.   However, some personal crises came up that have preoccupied the Panda Bear.

However, the Panda Bear will say something about legal, peaceful protests.   Growing up, the Panda Bear growing up learning an old Union song,   There was song which had a verse went something like this:

Freedom don't come on a bird wing
Freedom is a hard one thing
You have to work for it, fight for it, day and night for it again
And Every Generation has to win it all over

The Panda Bear things now may be a time for this generation to rise up and demand freedom and fairness.   The Panda Bear remembers the end of the revolts of the nineteen sixties; many rights and freedoms people now take for granted(i.e. US withdrawal from Vietnam, End of the Draft, Women's Rights, Civil Rights, some Workers Rights) were gotten as a result of political protest.  Many people with wealth and power don't voluntarily give up their privileges.    The Panda Bear remembers having to wear dresses to school in the winter where it is very cold up until the fifth grade.   What made her elementary school change(it went up to the eighth grade), was all the eighth grade girls one day all wore pants.  The school changed the rules requiring girls to wear dresses.   Now most women were pants in the winter in the cold USA of the Northeast.

The Panda Bear has a dental abscess..   The Panda Bear had taken last Thursday and Friday off for personal reasons.   She felt a little tired and at times felt nauseous but did not think anything of it.  On Saturday, her tooth started to hurt.   She was able to see a dentist who told her it was it was probably food caught in her teeth.   Today(Monday) she noticed that her face had gotten swollen.   She went to work but left to see seek health treatment first from a Physician Assistant who prescribed her an antibiotic and then saw her dentist who started a root canal.  

The Panda Bear is feeling better but not perfect.    However, the Panda Bear wanted to note if something like this happened in her previous job(which ironically was a physician organization) she could lose pay for calling in sick after taking vacation time and/or weekend.   The Panda Bear feels that company sick policies should be a target for health care reform.   Sometimes they can deter workers from getting immediate medical care which would be of advantage to the employee, the health insurer, and the company(though many companies don't seem to realize this advantage). In the long run it would save time by treating medical problems early before they become more serious.   The Panda Bear often feels that people call in sick after holidays and/or weekends because they can't get medical care during that time not just that they want to extend their time off.

The other personal problem the Panda Bear has had recently was that she saw a mouse in her apartment.   The Panda Bear has been fortunate that for the eleven years she has lived in her apartment she has not seen a mouse.   For the past couple of weeks, she suspected that she saw a mouse.   Yesterday, she set-up some snap traps.   She has used glue traps before but thought it was cruel that the mouse did not die right away.

However, this morning the Panda Bear saw the mouse.  It looked like a house mouse.   Field mice can look kind of clean and cute but this mouse looked dirty and nasty.   The Panda Bear read about house mice and how they can nest in people's homes.   Once she read that they can nest in people's homes, the Panda Bear announced to Mr. Panda the new War On Mice And Clutter(WOMAC).  

The snaps traps did not catch the mice so the Panda Bear started using the "enhanced" mouse catching techniques such as glue traps.  The mouse is a trespasser.  If the mouse is too stupid to go into a snap trap for a quick death, the Panda Bear feels she has no choice to use a glue traps.  She has put about 24 glue traps near where she thinks the mouse is along with the four snap traps already out.   She puts the traps in groups of two because sometimes she has heard the mouse can jump over one trap.   The Panda Bear's mother-in-law- sometimes catches the mouse by barricading it so the mouse has no choice but to go over the glue trap.   The Panda Bear has fought sucessfully an infestation of the pantry moths by throwing out infested products, storing grain products in glass containers and using glue traps.

Furthermore, the Panda Bear has order Mr. Panda to get rid of his extra clutter arguing that mice like cluttered environments.   Mr. Panda has improved over the course of the marriage in his ability to throw things out but he still keeps alot of old newspapers, boxes and clothes which she feels attract mice.    The Panda Bear also needs to learn to keep her stuff off the floor so the mice don't have places to hide.