Posted by Jim Jagielski on Monday, July 14. 2008 in Technology

It's no real surprise that the US economy is spiraling down the crapper. Prices for everything has gone up and wages have dropped and/or stagnated. The biggest increase (and impact both to the economy as well as to each individual person) has been in the cost of energy. With gasoline prices above $4 a gallon, I don't know of anyone who isn't significantly changing their driving habits. But for the most part, there is one "habit" that is very very hard to change, even when you really want to. It's the drive back and forth to work. Mass transit in the vast majority of the areas around the US is a joke and although people would love to use it, it's not a viable alternative. You would think that companies and businesses would be smart, realize the pain and seriously look at such obvious alternatives as compressed work weeks or telecommuting (for the benefit of the employees, the economy and the global climate). But no. Except for some rare exceptions, the management of most companies agree that it will result in significant savings and benefits, but still refuse to offer the option. After all, we all know how devious and untrustworthy employees are. You need the watchful and ethical eyes of management on them at all times, to ensure that they do their jobs. I hope readers appreciate the sarcasm. What really got me going about this topic was an articles in today's Baltimore Sun about this very issue. It appears that one county government actually has a flexible workweek option available for employees (including compressed), but they *actively discourage people from using it*! A spokesman states, "We're comfortable where we are." Yeah, I bet *you* are, but what about the employees? What a joke. Make no mistake, of course. There are some positions where telecommuting (my favorite alternative) does not make sense. But if you are in front of a computer terminal for most of the day, either as programmer, developer, designer, administrator, accountant, etc... then there is really no valid reason why you cannot do a lot of your work from home. Heck, people bring work home all the time, to "catch up." When will the powers that be get smart enough to realize that the days of 9-5, Monday-Friday, in the office are on their way out. We, as a society, can no longer afford such old-fashioned concepts. Disclosure: I have been lucky enough to be able to have telecommuted for several years now... My past and present employer see the obvious value and benefits of the arrangement. Of course, one never knows what the future will bring...

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Posted by Jim Jagielski on Wednesday, July 9. 2008 in Technology


Facial Hair

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Thursday, July 3. 2008 in Personal

I've had facial hair (a beard and mustache, henceforth just called "a beard") for a long time. A real long time. Something like 30 years. I first started growing it in my senior year of high school. Facial hair of any kind was forbidden at Archbishop Curley (my school), but I was able to convince my dermatologist to write a note excusing me from this rule, due to "skin irritation when shaving". There was some truth to that. But the real truth was, I wanted to grow a beard. The note worked. It also worked when I got a new college job, which also did not allow facial hair. I never understood stupid rules like that so, in addition to simply wanting to have a beard, I also felt like a rebel, and bucking the system. I wanted a beard because, well, I thought (and still do) that I looked better with one. It gave my face that quality called "character." Back then, any sort of facial hair was rare, mostly mustaches if anything, so it made me feel somewhat unique but also helped define my jawline, which I always felt was too weak. Over the last 30 years, I've only shaved it off once. Maybe 15-18 years ago Eileen decided she really wanted to see what I looked like without one. So I shaved it off (such is love!). She liked it. I hated it. I grew it back (love has its limits after all!). Since then I've switched between full beards and goatees (presently I'm in full-beard mode). Sometimes I let it go a little longer, and sometimes I keep it very trimmed, almost like stubble. This reminds me of another good reason for beards: you can skip shaving for a day or so and it still looks OK. Even so, I've never been able to have it fill in as much as I'd like. For example, my cheeks don't fill in much, so I tend to keep my "full beard" focused on around the jawline and chin. When I started going gray (I didn't go gray early, but I did go sooner than I expected... I guess I started in my mid 30s), it took awhile for my beard to catch up. I used to be a light brown (back in the day, it was called "dirty blonde"... I can't recall the last time I heard that phrase, but it used to be a common description), but now am mostly gray, both on top as well as my beard. I don't mind; it gives my face character.

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