Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Panda Bear on Sick Time and Volunteering

The Panda Bear Blog is a blog about not having it all. It is a blog for stressed out average people who feel the “experts” somehow just don’t get the average person lives.

In a previous post, the Panda Bear was complaining about how even when she does not feel well, physicians won’t write her sick notes for work and her employers want them if she is out more than a couple of days. (Please note the Panda Bear on the whole has been in good health and the longest time she has been out sick from work in twenty-seven years has been a week).

The Panda Bear had maligned her present employer. After taking two days off from for an upper respiratory infection for which her physician said she could return to work, the Panda Bear’s supervisor said she could have taken a third day off. The supervisor said she would not require the Panda Bear to get a note for up to five days taken off for illness. The supervisor told the Panda Bear that she would rather the Panda Bear be out and not spread her germs at work. The Panda Bear thanked her supervisor and told her she had worked for two organizations where all time taken off for illnesses lowered a person’s attendance ratings.

The Panda Bear’s apartment is a mess because for several weeks the Panda Bear only had the energy to work and come home. The Panda Bear feels varying energy levels and illness is something that much time management theory ignores. The kitchen table broke this morning. The Panda Bear and Mr. Panda will now have to get unexpectedly a new kitchen table this weekend. Something always seems to happen to foil the best laid time management schemes. While at work, this week the Panda Bear was listening an show on NPR called  Radio Boston where some professors of business from such excellent schools such Yale and Wharton which claimed that people who volunteered felt like they had more free time than people who worked that did not volunteer. These professors said the act of volunteering gave people the illusion that they had more free time.

Now the Panda Bear is all for volunteering.She has done volunteering while has she worked full-time. In addition, the experience the pleasure of working for what the Panda Bear feels are good causes, the Panda Bear has experienced other personal benefits. She has developed new skills and met new people. It has lead to contacts that have provided her with references for paid work. Volunteering can be a much nicer experience than paid employment because people know that one would only do it if one was not being nicely treated.

However, the Panda Bear does not feel that volunteering has made her feel that she has more free time. The Panda Bear has question several of her friends about whether their volunteering increased their feeling that they have more free time. Everyone said no. While volunteering may have some positive benefits, it did not make them feel like they had more free time. The Panda Bear feels that these college professors have no idea what it is to work on a time clock which the Panda Bear does. Furthermore, volunteering shows how American workers have less and less free time. At one time many companies had programs where people could volunteer on work time. Even if companies did not provide the actual work time, they supported employees efforts to volunteer because they thought it made the organization look good. Now most organizations want total commitment from their employees.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Panda Bear on the Purpose of her Blog and Womac/House Update

The Panda Bear is taking a slight break from her promise to herself to get some rest after she came home from work.   However, she read this article from the Atlantic called "Is your job killing you?" and Panda Bear found one of the key themes of her blog.   This article states:

Welcome to the future of work: a world where everything moves faster, the hours are longer and steady jobs are harder to find. Work has always been central to our lives -- in the United States, the 40-hour workweek stretches back at least a century -- but now, technology and the pressure of competing in a global economy is threatening to turn back the clock, making our toil an all-consuming affair once again.

Studies show that we're more productive than ever...

The object of the Panda Bear Blog is to show that this involuntary increase in work hours is bad for Americans physically, psychologically, economically and morally.    She things some of this increase in work hours is actually counterproductive; we aren't really getting more done..   The Panda Bear things the ultimate measure of wealth is freedom to do the things we want to do rather than have to do.   In the spirit of the current populists uprisings the Panda Bear feels that American workers are not reaping the benefits of their productivity.   The top one percent throw as a few toys for all our sweat and blood.

Furthermore, this article states that Americans work some of the longest hours in the world:

In 2010, Americans each worked on average a total of 1,778 hours. That's not nearly as bad as South Korea (2,193 hours), but the United States still spends more time at work than many of its fellow developed nations, including Japan, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Panda Bear believes that what made the US great was our spirit of fun and adventure.    We are the country that gave the world Elvis Presley and  Walt Disney.  The Panda Bear remembers when she was a child there was a chant that went:

   (a Far Eastern Ethnic group) school has just begun
   no more laughing no more fun.

The Panda Bear things this describes the United States right now-endless work-no sense of play and adventure.   We have become a nation of drudges.   In the upcoming elections the Panda Bear plans to ask different political candidates what they plan to do to make us are more relaxed, friendly and leisured country.

The Panda Bear is not ashamed to admit she struggles to survive in this new tough American economy.   She works but can do not many other things that she would like to do.

This long works hours explains why the Panda Bear has not made some of the home improvements she expected to have completed.   Readers of the Panda Bear Blog know the thing she dislikes the most in the world are household chores.  This fall the Panda Bear saw some mice and launched the War on Mice and Clutter(WOMAC).  This war is modeled after George Bush's Global War on Terror(GWOT).   

The Panda Bear did manage to get rid of some clutter.   She also got a cat(Suzie-see above) whom she loves.   Since has the Panda Bear has gotten Suzie she has not seen any mice and she loves having a cat.   It is the first pet the Panda Bear has had.

While the Panda Bear has not been able to do half of what she has wanted to do with her apartment, she now does household chores with a new feeling of tranquility.   She has come to accept the fact that she will never be the world's best housekeeper.   When she has the energy to do her few hated home chores, she now does it with a spirit of peace, acceptance and love.

The world is far too fast paced for the Panda Bear.   She just wants to sit outside and lay on the grass and rest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Panda Bear on Layoffs, Northanger Abbey and the Rest Cure

Before the Panda Bear goes into the main topic of her post, the Panda Bear wanted to discuss what she heard about a local company's plans to layoff some workers.   The company was going to outsource some of the behind the scenes operations to India.   Presumably, the customers would not know that some of the backend work was being done in India.   Also none of the workers knew which of them would loose their jobs because of this outsourcing (some of the workers would be kept).

The Panda Bear wanted to share three observations regarding this situation.   1) It is almost impossible for Americans to tell what products and services are made in the US and what products and services are made abroad.   A lot of things are sent abroad unknown to the customer.  2) What is causing layoffs in the US is not always diminished demands for goods and services but outsourcing the work to foreign countries.  3) The work atmosphere in this company must be terrible as workers compete for diminishing number of positions.  It probably makes for an intensely competitive as as opposed to cooperative work environment.

The Panda Bear likes reading the classics; they know how to tell a story.   The Panda Bear thinks there is something to a good book that totally pulls one in as one reads it.   Since she has gotten her eReader, she can get many of the classics for free.   Furthermore, the Panda Bear has read in The Atlantic the A Slow Books Manifesto stating that reading literature was good for one's soul.

Anyway, the classic book that the Panda Bear just finished reading was Northanger Abbey  by Jane Austen.  With the success of the Twilight series, Northanger Abbey seems modern in that it makes fun of Gothic novels and "women's" fiction.   The Panda Bear thinks that some writer could become famous by writing a good satire of the vampire love story.   The Panda Bear has resolved to read some of Anne Radcliffe's Gothic novels.  They might be fun to read and she had a lot of influence as a writer.

There is one aspect of many old novels that the Panda Bear finds interesting.   They make reference to a "rest cure" which apparently existed in the old medicine and which the Panda Bear dreams of making its return   Northanger Abbey starts off with a man being "ordered" by his physician spend six weeks in Bath.   This man does not seem to be that sick.   Moreover Bath seems to be a fun place with lots of social gatherings. 

In many old novels and biographies she will read when a patient complains of being nervous, worn out and tired the physicians "orders" the patient to take a long journey to some place interesting for a year for one's health.   These are the physicians that the Panda Bear loves and admires.  The Panda Bear things she and alot of people are overworked and would love it if someone told them to take it easy.   It does not have to be six weeks; just to get a week off for some health problem would be wonderful.

Even when the Panda Bear feels tired and sick the physicians are always sending her back to work.   They act like the school nurse always wanting to send her back to class even when she does not feel well.   On some levels the Panda Bear feels they are in league with corporate American to make sure everyone goes to work as scheduled.   Sometimes the Panda Bear feels there is a lack of communication between physicians and employers around when people are sick enough not to be at work.  For example,  one time the Panda Bear had to be a crutches for a week.   To get to work, she had to take walk a short distance, take two subways and a bus.    The physicians would not write her a sick note saying she should not be at work on crutches saying there was not reason for her not to take the subway to work.   The Panda Bear made it to work but she was in tears.   Most people at work felt that the Panda Bear should stay home but she could not because her job would be in jeopardy without a sick note from the physicians.

Another time that the Panda Bear gets annoyed with her physicians is around her colds and viral infections.   The Panda Bear has a tendency to gets colds that can drag on for weeks.   Alot of the time she will feel very sick and run down.   The Panda Bear has learned to slow herself down and get rest which she feels does help.   She can call in sick for one or two days at work but beyond that she would need a physicians note which the physicians won't give her even though she is still considered infectious.

The Panda Bear things probably alot of health problems are a result of overwork.    In future posts, the Panda Bear will ask what is needed to be done to bring back the rest cure.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Panda Bear on the Hunger Games, Wars and Emotional Decision Making

The Panda Bear has not read nor seen the movie the Hunger Games.   However, the Panda Bear believes the reason the story is so popular now among both teens and adults is because it touches a nerve for people today.    One does not read about a fictional dystopia to seen teenagers kill each other on television; it can be seen on television all the time both in reports of wars and shootings in the school.

The Panda Bear knows many people who think people have gotten more callous towards each other in recent years.   If this is true, the Panda Bear believes it is the result of people being exposed to the "virtual" and false brutality on television and on video games.    These technological images of brutality are real enough for people on some level to believe that they have experienced it so when these people actually encounter it their lives the violence does not seem unusual.

Of course where modern reality gets very close to the Hunger Games is in modern war.    In wars, adults are sending teens and young  adults into battles for conflicts which these young people did not start.   Also while there are affluent families with a proud military tradition, it is mostly people from the lower economic parts of society that enroll in the military.   While there is no draft in the US, many young people may feel "forced" financially to enroll in the military.

The Panda Bear recently read this very moving piece by David Freed in the Los Angles Times about how sad he felt about his son going to Afghanistan to serve in the Army.   While Mr. Freed's son was from the middle-class, David Freed stated that he felt most people were in the military were there because they needed a job and were not from affluent families.  

Another compliant that Mr. Freed has that while both Obama and Romney were talking tough about defense neither one of them served in the military.   He noted that very few children of Congress people served in the military.  Mr. Freed stated that because so many people in power were removed from the war they did not understand the emotional costs of the war. (The Panda Bear notes that it is not just Congress and presidential candidates that behave this way.   The Panda Bear knows of many people who favor the US's involvement in foreign wars for humanitarian reason but these people aren't experiencing any suffering for their beliefs.)

The Panda Bear has seen it happen other times that well-meaning upper class people get moralistic about something  but they are not suffering nor making the sacrifices for the cause ;it is people with less money are power that are doing the dirty work.   The well meaning upper class people will be totally oblivious to their hypocrisy and their pushing a morality that they don't practice on people who are less affluent.   It is an unspoken class divide in US politics that the Panda Bear will explore in a later post.

However, Mr. Freed's piece about his son going to war highlights another aspect human behavior.   As much as people want to think of themselves as rational and not influenced by emotions they are.    Things seem very different when it personally effects you.   It is impossible for humans to be totally rational; human decisions always have some emotional basis even if the people aren't aware of them.