Learn to Live With What You Can’t Rise Above

This is a long post about nothing really. Just rambling nonsense. A distraction to keep me from working on the novel.

And I could not sleep. So the pen awaits.

The coffee is extra exceptional this morning. I love my Capresso burr-style coffee grinder. That is a utility I will keep until I die. It’s made well enough to outlast me for sure. And the press. Standard Bodum but it does the job nicely.

I got up at 4:30 after lying in bed for an hour skimming the news. I took the hound to the woods behind our complex and on the way back I borrowed an extension ladder from the lads doing the exterior re-siding on our units. They don’t work weekends and by the time they return it will be back where they left it. I have a couple of high spots left to paint in the living room.

Read a good article in Medium this morning.


This guy thinks like I do.

Vaccinations are picking up. I had my first shot at a run down Walgreens in a fringe neighborhood. Others are standing in line at massive vaccinations centers. We are in a race against time to get as many people inoculated as possible. It feels weird and yet positive. Like we are living in a dystopian society.

Nancy, the painting lady, has been around off and on now for a few weeks. Her English is not great. Today she said to me ‘Mr. Robert. You use a lot of profanity.’

Yes. Yes I do, I replied. I sure as fuck do. She hears me on the phone and of course talking to Pops. Which is a habit that I have picked back up from the Mandela years.

There are legions of people who say they will not get the shot. The handyman who sometimes comes around to help me on home projects. Nancy, the painting lady, who also happens to be a Trump supporter. How in the fuck does an immigrant become a Trump supporter? I didn’t ask her. I am too tired.

When I ask them why they are not getting the shot, they have only vague rationale about rushing the testing process or not trusting the scientists. This view of the world is completely foreign to me. All you have to do is look around and see the medical miracles performed every day to understand that our scientists and doctors and nurses are right much more than they are wrong. To stake your position on the idea that either there is some massive conspiracy, or that the tens of thousands of highly qualified professionals involved with developing the vaccine are improbably and incredibly all wrong—well it seems a stretch. Of course even medical professionals and scientist make mistakes, but the checks and balances in our systems and simply the odds that they are all wrong are astronomically in favor of getting vaccinated. And yet, somewhere around 30% of our population is saying they will forego the shots. We are a nation of dummies.

In Atlanta, a young man shot and killed 8 people at several Asian massage clinics. As the story unfolds, it seems he was battling his urge for sexual gratification against the guilt and shame of his church doctrine. He had visited the massage parlors a few times. But his church, of course, railed against any sort of sexual activity, including masturbation, except with your legally wedded opposite sex spouse. So this young kid apparently bounced back and forth between the natural urge for sexual gratification and a church that shamed him for being human and ensured him God was watching and was disappointed. And we all know what happens when God doesn’t like you.

So when he snapped, he somehow got to a point where he felt the next natural progression in his journey was to go on a killing rampage at Asian massage parlors. I wonder what his god will think of him now? The church leaders will cluck cluck and blame the massage parlors. Anything except their cruel, misguided, puritanical view that sex and pornography are sinful. They are already distancing themselves from this malignant youth they helped create.

Interestingly, I recently read Ambrose’s ‘Undaunted Courage’ about the Lewis & Clark expedition. When they encountered native American tribes, many who had never seen white people, the native women freely traded sexual favors with the L&C crew for beads and trinkets. And their husbands and brothers had no issue—there was no jealousy. So who is the enlightened society? Those who are so repressed as to believe that laws made by small-minded white men and delusional religious dogma should dictate who we can enjoy time with; or the ancient society that allows free will and choice and who are not confined by ridiculous notions of monogamy. Who is honoring our anthropological roots and who is torturing souls for the fantasy of infinity in some mythical nirvana; which, by the way, probably has the same stupid rules against having fun as they are teaching down here.

The Mormons believe that when you are married on earth, then you are also married to the same person in heaven. For-fucking-ever!. So even if you suck it up for 60 years or so down here, having sex with only that one person, you’ve got another few billion years ahead of you when you get topside. Put that in your pipe and smoke it; as my grouchy old master chief used to say on the ship.

I wonder if the word monogamy is derived from monotony? 

This world we live in, where we are led to believe sex is shameful and can only be enjoyed with one person for your entire life. And where churches shame people so harshly on matters of sexuality, that a disturbed young man will go crazy and start killing people. And where anyone over 18 can buy a gun just about anywhere on any given day. Many places don’t allow alcohol sales on Sunday. But of course gun sales are fine. And guns are available to any 18 year old; but you must be 21 to buy alcohol. Men, let’s say professional football players for example, are allowed to use and physically abuse their bodies to excess in order to make vast sums of money. But women are not allowed to use their bodies sexually to make a living. 

When we see these stories of mass killings, and we step back and look at the imbecilic behavior of our society and our contradictory laws and social policies, and we add in our continued slow, methodical killing of the planet that enables our existence, it seems logical to assume that humans are not yet evolved enough for long term survival. We continually act against our own self interest. It’s not hard to imagine that after our 5 or 6 million years of slow evolution to where we find ourselves today, we might be up against the last 1,000 years or so. Epidemic, overpopulation, global warming, nuclear war and subsequent fallout. Or perhaps another large meteor strike or a massive volcano explosion that blocks the sun and cools the planet for a few hundred years. Something is likely to push humans into the extinction category. 

Perhaps Elon Musk will save our children by building a colony on Mars. But that sounds fucking exhausting. All that breathing equipment and a 40-million mile journey. How do you pack for that trip? Eating bad food and where in the hell will you get wine and whiskey on Mars? Can I take my dog? Can you smoke cigars in those biosphere domes? Better to die with dignity than live like that. Go down with the planet so to speak. Reap what you sow. 

I hope when I am reincarnated the next time I draw a different planet. But not one inhabited by humans. Might be nice to see how other life forms are doing somewhere far far away from our little cluster of planets. 

Looking for the next gig as a consultant is always a massive pain in the ass. This process is terribly inefficient and laden with shysters and snake oil salespersons. The perplexing thing is that companies seem happy to pay a 30% premium for using body shops to find their resources. This, even though the technology & tools that are available to find your own talent are readily available and cheap. 

I am fortunate that for the most part, I get plenty of calls. And still have some decent contacts in spite of my erratic and disjointed career choices. The problem is that for a job description and experience level that is in my wheelhouse, the pay scale is all over the place. And the recruiters can be atrocious; many are dumb and simply used cars salesman by a different name. Anyone can start scrolling through  LinkedIn or Indeed and start calling people and try to play matchmaker. 

So it can be a real time suck. I am in this strange window now where I am only beginning to look. My current contract is through end of July. So a little early to start looking, but on the other hand, the larger and more complex programs tend to take a while to get through those first few dates to see if you want to consummate. 

Last night a guy called me to talk about an opportunity. We had emailed a few times and he has seen my LinkedIn profile so he’s had a glance under my skirt. He at least knows a little about me, but I do not yet know anything about the opportunity. He tells me this is a large hospital system. We do not have an NDA so he can’t tell me who. They are doing a major system upgrade. I’ve done multiple jobs with the technologies they are using and have strong verifiable references. Again, he knows this. So far so good. We talk for 20 minutes while he probes a little to see if my profile holds up. It does. We then get to the pivotal question and the one which everyone is so coy about. Pay scale. He asks me what my rate is. I tell him. He says ‘I was afraid of that’ and there it is. His position pays 60; 1/3 of my standard rate. My rate is about 50% of what Deloitte or Accenture charge for my role. So, for a  specific resource, depending on how you source, a company can pay as little as $60/hour or as high as $350/hour. Obviously you are not going to get top talent at the $60 rate. But you are also not guaranteed top talent at the $350 marker either. There are a lot of Limp Dicks working for the big consulting firms who I would not hire at any rate. I feel my rate is right—I am a good value for the right kind of program. But lots of companies invest tens of millions in their technology and then hire some dipshit to run the program to implement. 

I don’t understand why more companies don’t cut out the middle man and get their own people. For a standard implementation in a mid-size company, an organization may have to go to the street for 10 resources or so. Let’s say it’s an 18 month implementation, which is a decent benchmark. If they use a recruiter, they will likely spend around $4.4M for those 10 resources over 18 months. If they do the hiring directly, they will spend about $3.4M for a $1M savings. If they hire a temp resource to help coordinate interviews, do initial screenings etc, they may invest another $60k or so for the 6-month ramp up period. But they don’t do this. When I was running our consulting company we hired ourselves. And saved lots of money. 

In fairness, I tend to fare well with recruiters–it just costs me a lot of money to go that route.

There is a gaggle of recruiters that are aligned more in the area where I like to work. But of course those jobs are far more competitive. I am pretty close to a few of these folks, as we talk often, but we are all at the mercy of the market and capitalism. Since I’ve come back to Ohio it’s been an eye opener. The rates here are 30% less than the bigger cities where I’ve worked. I think it’s a function of having a relatively small number of companies using the same staffing agencies and pitting them against one another to keep rates down. And, not surprisingly, many companies wind up disappointed with the quality they are getting at these depressed rates.

My last two gigs before the one I’m on now were turn-around efforts. In both cases, the companies tried to get by with less experienced program managers and both paid punitive penalties for that mistake. The Cleveland Clinic, without exaggeration, probably will spend $50M more than they should have due to mistakes their executives made in organizing and staffing their program. They are going live now a year late and at exorbitant extra cost.

My current gig is exceptional. The company has very smart and thoughtful leadership and the results are shown in how well it is going. Knock on wood. These are complicated programs but so far we are tracking well. 

I know they interviewed several people with lower rates than mine, because one of them is a friend. She wound up getting hired in a different role as a PM and now works for me on the program.

Anyway. It’s a game. I don’t make the rules. I just need to play a few more years. 

As the weather improves, I find myself Jonesing for Europe. This is my true home. I love to walk the streets of Madrid, Sorrento, Amsterdam, Lyon, London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Brussels etc. The long drives with S&O across Holland and taking the trains through the countrysides. Work visa’s have become nearly impossible to get now.

Maybe I’ll stowaway on a freighter. Destination unknown.

I am also considering trying to get the country manager job at WorldTeach in Namibia next year. That would put me back in-country for a year and I could deal with some of our more complex issues at MYO. Starvation wages, but it comes with a visa.

I have to give a shout out to 1 World Sarongs. I ordered a couple of sarongs from them about 10 years ago. And now, twice a year, they send me an email to let me know what’s on sale. Not twice a day or 5 times a week like every other company out there. Twice a year. They are very judicial in their use of email marketing. And I like that. I actually got my first sarong as a gift from a Samoan I played rep side rugby with in Utah. Comfy and practical. Nothing like waking up, throwing on a wrap and a t-shirt and ready for coffee.

Well now you’ve heard my story

Plain as the light of day

It’s hard to feel guilty for lovin’ the ladies That’s all I gotta say

‘Cept a woman is the sweetest fruit That God ever put on the vine

I’d no more love just one kinda woman than drink only one kinda wine

                    John Denver

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