Broken-down Poetry: June 2008


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

If the fear of carpal tunnel is not enough...

"We suffer from the illusion... that we can expand our personal bandwidth, connecting to more and more. Instead, we end up overstimulated, overwhelmed and... unfulfilled. Continuous partial attention inevitably feels like a lack of full attention." [Ellen Goodman, "In Praise of a Snail's Pace"]

On my Verizon plan, I only have 250 in-coming and out-going text messages a month. For those of you with unlimited text messaging, it takes about a day to get through that many texts. This month, however, I have exceeded that limit by over 100 text messages because of a domestic threat I like to call Telephonaphobia.

I have received over 200 in-coming texts, the majority being random "I-Just-Thought-You-Should-Know" text messages. Or better yet, "Rhetorical Question" texts or "I-Could-Easily-Ask-The-Person-Next-To-Me-The-Same-Question-But-I-Chose-To-Waste-Your-Money-Instead" texts. Both are kind of annoying.

Instead of people dialing my phone number and talking to me, they send text messages.

Now, before I start to sound to archaic (like my mom who barely knows how to read texts), I need to get to the root of my issue with texting, beyond my monthly bill.


That sounds extreme, sure, but it is kind of true when it comes to texting. Person A is telling Person B about a family issue, Person B is texting simultaneously. Person A get snubbed by whomever Person B is text messaging. Tah-Dah.

It's more of a spiral effect, sure, and I don't think it's much of a problem if this is solely a teenage issue that will dissipate by adulthood. Kids (myself included) tend to be a little ADD with conversations anyway. If everyone else is text messaging anyway, it's not a huge deal. Until you're the one NOT text messaging. (Like me!)

Say Person B (the one who texted through that important conversation) grew up, got out of college, and started her life as, say, a secretary at a law firm. Not a huge deal, not like a celebrity or anything, but a nice, well-paying job. During her lunch break (and, admittedly during her work shift) she text messages her friends--all 15 of them. With text messaging, this is possible. Friend 1 is over in Seattle, Washington (married, two kids), Friend 2 and 3 have an apartment together in Vancouver, Friend 4 is on vacation in Florida, Friend 5 works down the street at a bakery... you get the picture.

Person B's text messaging skills helped her stay in touch with her 15 friends who live all across the country (and Canada!). But how deep are those relationships? How serious can a conversation get when it has a 160-character limit?

I wonder what it would be like if Jesus had unlimited text messaging. Picture him at a campfire, Peter heating fish over the flames, John next to Jesus' side ready to ask him an important question and--click,click,click.

"Jesus? Who is Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"

"Uhhhmmm." click,click,click. "Hold on, John." [SEND!]


"Oh, yeah, Greatest in the Kingdom, is that what you asked?"

"Yes, Jesus, who is the Greatest?"

[Jesus' cellphone chimes "Amazing Grace"]

"Uhmm.." [reads text, laughs] "The Greatest in the Kingdom is..."

Okay, maybe Jesus had/has better multitasking skills, but you get the picture. Jesus' relationships were authentic because he took time to really listen. Think of his conversation with Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus didn't spend just a few seconds with the guy, half-listening to him and also worrying about whoever was text-messaging him. He took time with the guy. He sat down and explained stuff to him. Think of how many times he sat down with is disciples to explain parables to them. This wasn't just a side-thought for him, it took genuine concern.

So I guess what I am asking from you, dear audience, is to not chuck your cellphones out the window (that would be unnecessary), but to be wary of when you text (not when someone is trying to have a serious conversation with you) or how it is affecting the depth of your relationship with the person you are texting.

Human contact is pretty good too. Spending some time with that person you're texting, one-on-one, will do wonders for you relationship, more so than a few (hundred) text messages.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Summer as a Striped-Collar Worker, Pt. 2: Incentives

We all respond to incentives, said Stephen Levitt in Freakonomics. I guess that's so.


Before people respond to incentives they weigh the benefits against the costs. With my job at BF Goodrich, I had to do the same. Except, my dad made me make my decision before I really thought it through. Hmm... was this a mistake?

* The Costs *

Both days of orientation contained a wild deluge of safety dos and don'ts. It reminded me of that episode of The Office when the guys upstairs go to the warehouse to learn about all the rules about not touching this and that. It was very similar, except I watched tons (and tons and tons) of videos.

They should've just made a 10 Commandments of rules and I it would've saved 'em some time. Observe.

1. DO NOT touch anything hot.

2. DO NOT stick your hand inside a machine if it's running.

3. DO NOT run in front of a forklift

4. DO NOT hit someone with a forklift

5. DO NOT sleep/gamble/drink/horseplay on the job

6. DO wear steel-toed shoes ALWAYS

7. DO wear ear-plugs ALWAYS

8. 9. 10. (You get the picture)

* The Benefits *

This pretty much has everything to do with money.

I will be working between 42-48 hours a week, which means at least two hours will be paid overtime (time and a half).

Since the hours suck, they have special rewards known as "shift premiums" that add on addition cents per hour. So even working the day shift you make an extra $10 a day. Night shifters like me will earn about $20 more.

Holidays are paid as time and a half, even if you aren't scheduled to work (you get at least 8 hours pay).

If your overtime is a holiday you get double time.

Oh, and the rate isn't $10.00 and hour, it's $13.068.

[That's a little more than IP.]

Not to mention the fact that I get to drive a "tugger" for 12 hours a day--how fun! And I get 10 minute breaks every two hours, and a half-hour break after 6... but as my trainer said, stock poolers (like myself) get extra long breaks if they're ahead of schedule.

And I get a cool swipey tag. And a water bottle. And a locker, all to myself!

** ** **

Notice my justification. I like to tell myself the job is going to be way more exciting that it actually is. I guess once I get my first paycheck of $416 (before taxes) I'll feel a little bit better about myself.


So, no news from Nea Matia. I'm a little concerned because Beverley likes staying in touch like none other. But, I am ahead of the game. I got one of next week's assignment done and asked for the information concerning the other one. Maybe these next two days I can rest before work on Friday night. (Gotta love the swing shift).

Oh yeah, back to incentives.

** The Costs **

Carpel Tunnel: I think I'm getting it in my right wrist. I have one of those pads on my laptop rather than a mouse so I constantly use my middle finger to move the cursor around. It's starting to hurt really bad.

Working as a Freelancer is tough if you like order and stability. Honestly, I'm glad that my boss Beverley is very organized and has certain deadlines for me or I'd be all over the place. It's hard to stay focused if you have no direction.

The money isn't the greatest either. I mean, you make a website for a nice rate maybe, but updates are typically monthly at best. So you get a nice lump sum that'll last you till your next trip to Starbucks.

** The Benefits **

I can wake up whenever I like, wear whatever I want, eat while I'm working, take as many breaks as I like, peruse facebook when I'm bored... and have fun.

Because honestly, it's fun making websites and flyers for people.

I do occasionally have to go into Beverley's office to pick something up and whatnot. Then I have to look nice, but it's downtown and I LOVE going downtown. Last time I went into work I got a hotdog from Coney Island first. MMmm, totally worth it.

And then there's that little thing I like to call NETWORKING. Working for a private business like Nea Matia will get me strong references, making me just another step closer to the RELE-world.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Summer as a Striped-Collar Worker, Pt. 1: Call Me Barbara

So, as most of you know via Facebook or in passing, I have taken upon myself 3 jobs. I wasn't really going to, honestly. The first one is It's Playtime!, that I love too much to quit. The second is a job that will help me prove to Cameron Strang that I'm worthy of RELEVANT. And then the third: My life as a blue-collar worker. Seriously, call me Barbara Ehrenreich.

So... let's discuss my third job for a moment. I am part of BF Goodrich's "summer help," a group of grads and college students that fill in for plant workers who are on vacation. Our jobs consist of anything from tire manufacturing to trucking (uhm, that's me!). So why did I take the job?

$10.00 an hour, 40 hours a week. THAT'S WHY.

Now, I know I have spent previous blogs scorning this so-called American Dream of disposable income coming out the wah-zoo. But honestly, I'm human. I won't lie. $400 dollars a week sounds mighty nice to a poor high school graduate.

And there's this part of the deal: THE BLOG. What I'm doing right now.

I'm going to be a journalist. I cannot remain a sheltered middle class girly who only hangs around celebs of the Christian music industry. (And yes, RELEVANT does cover more than that crap. I'm pretty sure Obama's going to make a guest appearance on the next podcast.)

I need to see the real world! The gruff n' grime of it all. And it will start here. I will, as an eighteen year old woman, venture into the forsaken world of the blue-collar workforce. I will work the swing shift. I will smell like sweat and rubber. I will be around fifty-year-old men all day. I can do it!

This introduction was a bit longer than anticipated. I will recall the events of my day reporter style, not like Barbara (from Nickel and Dimed, if you still have no idea what I'm talking about) who just told stories.



The layout of the factory is how you would expect, I assume. You know, machines everywhere, cement floors, steel ladders leading somewhere, an occasional window (open, of course, it's awfully hot in there), and industrial fans. I won't bore you with all that. Let's talk details.

Throughout the tire room there are racks and racks of "bobbins," covered in interliner fabric and rubber used to create tires. There are hundreds of them. Different sizes: 85, 100 something-or-others. Passing down the sectioned off "sidewalk," you come across these racks, some empty but most full. And their labeled. How? With a big number 200 or 50. The guys there must get bored at their jobs though. Most of the numbers I saw had little faces colored into the 0's. I appreciate their creativity.

Everyone manufacturing the tires (and there are only a few doing that, for the machines do a great deal of the work) has a rhythmic pace. Pull rubber. Wrap rubber. Cut. Pull white-liner. Wrap and cut.

There's a radio playing at about every corner of the "sidewalk." Most of it is unrecognizable to me.

I noticed how much the management wanted to make Goodrich to be a "friendly environment." They had team flags hanging on one wall--not just one college's name, but all the ones in the area. In every office I entered I saw a DIVERSITY poster with white and black kids holding hands.

Everyone who passed my trainer and me today waved. You know, those little hand-not-far-from-the-thigh kind of waves--almost like a grab or swat rather than a "goodday, neighbor."

But, it's a tire factory. A TIRE FACTORY. It's not some fancy corporate headquarters with carry-ins every Wednesday or casual Friday. It's a 24-hour sweat-dirt-grime-sleepless-on your feet job.

Does every American company want their environment mimic the so-called "high class" career of our society? Do we all secretly want to work where there are promotions, bosses in fancy offices, and company Christmas parties? Is that what Michelin is? A cheap imitation of an Orange County firm, but really at the core just a group of muscled men and women struggling to make a living, working 12 hour shifts, jumping in bed exhausted, forgetting to say their prayers because their head is spinning....

Maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic. Michelin pays their workers a fair wage--hullo, 10 dollars an hour!--but is it necessary to immitate white-collar businesses in the process? Or are they?


I logged onto my computer at 4:30 (after orientation at the plant) expecting 11 more emails from my boss Beverley at Nea Matia, Inc., where I do web updates and print-documents for the business. I had two from her, nothing more to do, just a thank-you and a CC to her secretary asking her to give me some help. Phew. It turns out one of Nea Matia's websites has this backyard server (as I'll call it) in order to update the site. Too confusing for Lauren. I'll stick with her other site that uses strictly HTML. Easy peasy.

[It's 10:34. Gotta get up early tomorrow and repeat this over again.]

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Welcome back to the blogosphere

It's funny how sermons can really hit home. You know, it happens when you're just sitting there as a humble member of the laity, listening to Pastor Whomever preach about something that fits your life perfectly.

That's what it was like this morning when Tom preached about our need to blog.

So, it wasn't exactly like that. He did encourage bloggers to do their thing and adults to join Facebook (curse you, Tom!). Anyway, it was all about our need to "reach our generation for Christ." (As if I haven't heard THAT phrase enough.)

So here's the scoop: That's What I Want to Do. Forever, really.If you haven't asked me the question yet, or haven't heard me speak profusely about it, I want to work for (ye old) RELEVANT Magazine when I grow up. And RELEVANT's purpose is...?

"Relevant Media Group is a multimedia company whose purpose is to impact culture and show that a relationship with God is relevant and essential to a fulfilled life." [taken from their website]

And so there. I have mastered it. Thanks for the sermon, Tom, but that's one thing I don't have to work at.

Dun Dun Dun... or is it?

I mean, honestly. Is it THAT hard to get God's word out nowadays? I was thinking this in Sunday school as well. Ruthanne was talking about how sometimes people just believe whatever their pastors say without testing it against Scripture. For some reason people are just not reading the Bible. (Who knew?)

So, what, is it that hard to read the Bible? (I'm asking myself that as well. Someone's been slacking with her attempt to read the entire Bible in order. Ugh, I have yet to finish Deuteronomy.)

We got about fifteen different translations out there, there's bound to be one you appreciate: NIV, tNIV, The Message, NASB, KJV, NKJV, NCV, NIrV.

And what about iPod Bibles? If you're too just too tired to pull out God's Word, you can listen to it (while playing the microscopic Solitaire) on your iPod.

Or, how about THE EXPERIENCE: the new-fangled audio Bible with famous people doing the voices of characters. I hear Nick Cannon plays an EXCELLENT Adam.

Bookstores have aisles full of "Christian Living" books and whatnot. There's always a book out there on Christianity (lots on the NYT Best Seller List too!).

A lot of times Christian artists "cross-over" to play their music to secular audiences. Relient K, for instance. Or think Emery and Anberlin... their on Christian labels, but their huge on the secular market as well.

How often is Jesus "in the news"? Very often.

So what? Are we doing the job of Isaiah, being messangers of God's word to His people? Isn't that why we have iPod Bibles and church podcasts and Christian radio stations and tee shirts with the icthus fishy on it?

Or are we just trying to make Jesus relevant to our culture by putting his name on a bunch of electronic do-dads? Is the Good News being preached or is it being disguised by what's hip and cool.

People in the ministry (okay, maybe just youth ministry. No offense Tom) always thinking of ways to "ENGAGE OUR CULTURE." We try so hard to come up with the right events to get kids into the church (i.e. "Godstock," our own version of woodstock minus the drugs and sex). If we bribe them with a concert, maybe they'll stick around long enough to hear the YP's message at the end. Maybe.

And so I'll challenge myself a bit: how is RELEVANT any different?

Is there a way around this? Can we spread the word of God like Isaiah without using pop-culture and new technologies?

What about the way we live? Can our separation from culture woo people to God?

More thoughts later.

Lauren Deidra {Isaiah 2:1-5}

"I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs." Fahrenheit 451, 81