Monday, 20 December 2010

We're Not So Different

Europe is going through this big old debt crisis right now, right? And one of the big things that's going on is that the wealthy states are bailing out, through some degree of gritted teeth varying from the extreme to the "Tyler Hamilton finishing the Giro with a broken collar bone" degree. The cause of common currency necessitates this - Germany's currency is unfeasible if Greece, Ireland and Spain are in default using the same currency.

The US is basically in the same situation right now, with many of the several states (I love that expression, there's a lot of great verbiage in our founding documents) avoiding default only through massive stimulus from the central government. If these states were left to their own devices, they'd be exposed for being as broke as they are.

I didn't watch the 60 Minutes last night, but from what I hear Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) was pretty straightforward in his "we're completely f'd unless we strip out massive layers of our obligations and get rid of mountains of debt." The painful thing is of course that no one wants to be on the receiving end of a stripped out obligation. I don't. Fortunately for me, the only obligations I'm owed are the massive piles we send to Social Security, which I've never for a minute thought we'd ever see a penny of in return, and the bonds that Bill Gross and the fine folks at PIMCO buy on our behalf. It's personally heartening to see that they are venturing into preferred stock from the perspective of "they do a good job managing my money" but frightful for their vote of no confidence in the bonds which have been their bread and butter for so long.

The retrenchment from the way we've been living is barely underway, says I. We may not see widespread calamity in the next decade or in our lifetimes, but I'm fully confident that our ways of doing business are going to be profoundly different. I don't know a whole lot about him, but bravo to Gov. Christie for at least having the balls to state that there is no painless escape from the situation in which we've placed ourselves. Would that other elected officials would do the same, but they won't.

One of the things which shows me how bad the situation has become is the "they're lucky to have jobs at this point" situation. The tall hat developers and project executives all pretty much assume themselves to be in a position to demand anything from the guys doing the actual work. This includes but is not limited to working extended hours without the normal benefits afforded to extended work. There was a time when people seemed really hungry for work and were willing (if not exactly happy) to do whatever it took to prove that they were worth keeping around. That time is over. Line guys are of the decided mindset of "if that's the way this job is, I'm not so lucky to have it, so why don't you go ahead and fuck off?" Of course I work for the project executives and direct the line guys, so I'm the monkey in the middle of this deal. A wonderful place to be. My sympathies are more with the line guys. I understand that financing sucks to get and that margins are thinned and capital risk is greater, but when you're taking guys who are getting by in the best of times and pretty much not getting by now, you aren't going to get ideal outcomes. No easy solutions.

Work for me has been pretty crazy. The gym build out has been going fast. It's all about speed on this one, which unfortunately means long days, lots of stress and little sleep. The first thing that happens when I get stressed out is that I stop sleeping well. Of course this is a self-defeating cycle, but I prefer not to become an Ambien junkie. I find that I'm able to float through several days of good training on a skeleton crew's worth of shut-eye, but eventually it catches up. Saturday did me in completely - up at 545 to go to work, and then a busy day (in which I was able to get some good 'other stuff' done while the cleaning crew was cleaning and the carpenters were carpenting and the tilers were tiling - I've turned the corner on my ability to build wheels with aluminum rims), got home around 4, got about 20 minutes worth of nap, and then off to the Missus' office Christmas party. As opposed to the round of drinks at a sports bar on Tuesday that my company will be hosting (general morale in our ranks is pretty terrible - not that anyone is looking for an elaborate holiday bender, but I even wonder how many people will bother to show - I think we'd all rather just skip it and get the extra 90 minutes of personal life), they do a nice deal at this "home restaurant." That was good, and then we went out to some hipster bar in Adams Morgan until all hours. Finally got to bed at 4, or 22 and change hours after I'd gotten up. Up at 830 for the team ride, and I was a mess. I was barely able to fake my way through the thing, and of course since it was so butt cold there were only three of us hard core enough to go, so there wasn't a lot of opportunity to hide in the bunch.

My new Descente Element shoe covers are the tits. Although they flirted with being cold at times early on before the world and I had warmed up a little bit, my feet were pretty toasty for almost the whole ride.

1 comment:

layzeesusan said...

I saw the '60 Minutes' episode. Chris Christie was, frankly, frank. Very frank. Frank Frankie. all sounds pretty bad.

Those shoe covers are the opposite of a blessing in disguise. I mean, they keep my feet so warm (paired with GJ wool socks) that my feet sweat. I take those covers off at the end of a ride and my feet and socks are soaked. And, of course, the idea is to keep your body dry in really conditions. If not, you end up feeling cold 'cause you're wet. Opposite of a blessing in disguise.