In which I’m working full-time and NOTHING (in terms of domestic chores) IS BEING DONE!

Floors are filthy. Sheets really need to be laundered. Tub could use a scrub. Not sure when I last brushed my hair. Have done zero Christmas shopping and don’t even have Christmas cards, let alone have any of them addressed and ready to mail.

I’m working 40 hours a week, and every minute is tightly scheduled because I’m in training. Five weeks of training. Five weeks of Power Point, PDFs, videos, interactives, lectures, TeamSpeak breakout sessions, and teach-back presentations.

And a firewalled VPN that has the shortest whitelist I’ve ever seen. (Honestly, it’s amazing I’ve never worked behind a tight firewall before, and I not only understand but respect why they feel the need to keep the network, distributed as it is, as secure as possible. But there’s still this sort of vague sense of rage about not being able to surf on your own machine when you realize you can’t surf, not even for a second, even if you are on the clock. #firstworldproblems)

Returning from break

While the training itself is of very high quality, and the instructor is freakin’ amazing, for me a lot of stress comes from the fact that you have to clock in and out EXACTLY ON TIME. All lunch breaks are EXACTLY thirty minutes, never 29 or 31, not ever. (Thirty minutes is barely enough time to eat, let alone prepare anything. And since lunch break keeps moving, good luck getting delivery when you have to order 45 minutes beforehand.) The ten-minute clock-punch leeway given by, like, every other employer in the world, ever is simply not present: if you’re too early — you’re not allowed to clock in more than 5 minutes before your scheduled start time — or too late, you’re fired. Period.

My class of 20 new hires is down to 12; four just never turned up at all (which is weird to me, considering all the crap you have to do, including proving your machine meets standards and going to have employment documents notarized, to even get hired in the first place). The other four have dropped out at various points during the past three weeks, probably, I’m assuming, due to simply not being back from breaks and lunch on time.

It’s so rigid it’s basically killing me, except for the weird perqs: I can go to work unwashed and barely dressed if I want (which I don’t. I usually get up, dress in something I could probably wear to a real office only without the bra, tidy up the place, and eat breakfast and make coffee or tea before my shift) and my commute (from bed) is about two feet.

I can look out the window and see the season change and watch the neighborhood. When I clock off at exactly eight-thirty, I have no freezing commute home in the dark and Scott doesn’t have to come pick me up because I’m already home. He never has to come home to an empty apartment. I never have to wear uncomfortable shoes.

And I’m making a buck more an hour than I was at The Home Depot!

But the time micromanaging — which I understand, in context; this is a distributed call center and they probably have a huge number of employees who just don’t give a fuck about the company’s scheduling needs — is quite wearing. I mean, I get to work on time when I’m working normal jobs, but having never been required to be accurate to less than 60 seconds, it’s stressing me out. I live in fear of something happening that makes me 5 minutes late — spending a couple extra minutes in the bathroom, having to buzz in the FedEx guy, losing track of time while standing over the sink horking down a sandwich — and getting instantly terminated without even finishing the damned training.

Once I’m “in production,” their in-house jargon for being trained and “on the floor” taking calls, though, I’ll be able to drop down to part-time and get my nasty floors swept and mopped. (I know that some women work full-time and keep their floors clean; I am not one of those women. I can barely even stay top of the dishes.) I understand breaks and lunches will move around a bit if one’s stuck on a call, and that it will still be important to be back on time, but I think it’ll feel a bit more loose, subjectively, somehow.

At that point I think I’ll feel very fortunate to have a work-from-home job, even if it is taking customer service calls for Comcast, a company almost universally loathed. (I’m lucky enough to be supporting their home security products rather than, say, doing retention for enraged cable internet customers under contract or whatever, so I doubt it’ll entail getting screamed at for 24 hours a week.) I’m sure once I’m fully familiar with the various tools and call expectations I’ll be fine and my sense of stress will go away.

As long as it’s part-time. I’ve done too many years of call center work already in my career and there’s really no way I can be truly empathetic for 40 hours a week for very long. I know my call center customer service limitations (and so do you, if you’ve ever worked with me before. I can be a horrible, condescending cunt over the phone, and nobody wants that) and I respect them! So I’ll work F/T for just as long as it takes to really get a handle on production and then I’ll try to get down to 20 hours, if possible, but I’ll do 24 if they really insist. After all, what’s four more hours if don’t have to wear a bra.

Scott and I stayed up absurdly late both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend, so when I got out of bed this afternoon and realized that HOLY SHIT, SUDDENLY IT’S THE SUNDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING!!!1!, I went ahead and paid InstaCart to bring me my groceries since Scott was still in bed. They took hours to get here, but when they did all I had to do was put things away!

Even after taking an hour to form my shopping list, I still managed to forget the baguette for the spinach-artichoke dip and soda for the cranberry vodka, but otherwise all the Thanksgiving day shopping is done, and I have stuff to eat for breakfast and lunch for the next three days. I also did the shopping for my internet Secret Santa recipient today, so that’s basically sussed. GOD I LOVE THE INTERNET.

Because I have the great luck to be in training just now, I actually get four days off for the holiday weekend, like a regular grownup adult-type person. (But after I’m in production, I’ll probably never get another holiday off, ever, unless I request it off a quarter of a year in advance or trade somebody for it. (Apparently most holidays are dead, though, and if they’re dead enough you might be offered voluntary time off so you’re not stuck sitting at your desk for hours doing nothing.)) So excited to have four whole days off together! So looking forward to our second Thanksgiving together!

Relish tray

Our Thanksgiving menu is going to be completely traditional this year: the usual relish tray items, from deviled eggs to olives to stuffed celery. The spinach-artichoke dip we made last year and decided should always be our T-day tradition because it’s amazeballs. Ham steak (for him; I’m having tofu, of course), mashed potatoes, sage and onion dressing, green bean casserole, and mushroom gravy. Cherry pie (or cobbler — I haven’t decided yet) and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Potato skins in the evening when we’re peckish again with our celebratory adult beverages.

Friday I’m going bring the tree and decorations up from the basement. Super excited! No idea where I’m going to put our little tree (because I really fancy the idea of somehow getting it right in front of the living room window so it’s visible from the street) but I’m sure something will present itself.

I need to go order Christmas cards and see what else I can have shipped so I don’t have to go anywhere in person. Happy three-day work week, everyone working traditional schedules in America!

Amazon Prime Now: Fun, but weird!

November 7th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Nerd - (0 Comments)

In which the lack of integration and the strange selection of available items is weird.

Prime Now. It’s a thing where, if you live in a designated big city, you can order stuff from Amazon and have it delivered in a couple of hours rather than in a couple of days.

The stuff arrives in Amazon-branded paper shopping bags. Which is a cute but unnecessary touch:

Amazon Prime Now

Seems like a great idea, except, well, it’s not integrated with your existing Amazon account at all. You can’t shop Prime Now from, you have to use the app. (The app which doesn’t even run on Fire devices! You can only run it on Android and Apple devices.) You can’t tell if anything in your cart or on your wishlists is eligible for Now unless you search for it in the app. You cannot see your current cart or lists in the Prime Now app, either.

The selection is massive but weird. You can get a coat tree, toilet paper, or a skein of black wool yarn delivered; you can’t get a plain ol’ gallon of milk (unless it’s organic or almond). You can get candy, game controllers, electronic cables, and snacks. You can get Amazon devices like Kindles and Paperwhites and a selection of cases for them.

You can get orange juice and organic TV dinners, high end kettle chips and most of the items you’d find in the organic or health food sections, but you can’t get much else food-wise that isn’t snacks. You can get some AmazonBasics items, but not the armless office chair you actually want now that you sat in this chair for 40 hours:

My new desk!

I mean, it’s a very cool chair, but it’s not height-adjustable and the cushion is quite lumpy and flat.

All in all, Now is pretty cool if your car is in the shop and you need certain specific things within a couple of hours, but the lack of dotcom integration and the unintuitive nature of the stock makes it a strange service.

In which I freak out. Seriously. Not even kidding.

I haven’t spent much time in chans or forums because they’re stupid, but even so I’ve seen countless nerds type “kill yourself” at each other, and sometimes it’s hilarious. In IRC it’s practically a tradition to tell chatters to go commit suicide — preferably immediately, by gun, and live via Skype. It’s typical shock-based online shenanigans and it’s funny.


I’ve been ranting forever about the impossibly dumb shit people post about — the anti-vaxxers and the New Age hippies and the holistic practitioners with their weekend retreats and cooking classes or whatever — but after today, I think I really just can’t afford to look at Facebook ever again. Because today on Facebook, I saw someone I went to college with tell somebody with cancer to do Gerson instead of taking his chemo.

Which is literally one person saying to another, “lol go kill yourself fgt,” only it’s not even intended to be funny.

If you have the kind of cancer that would have chemo prescribed in the first place, you have a type of cancer that has a record of responding to chemo. (If your cancer historically doesn’t give a fuck about chemo, they’re not gonna recommend it, and you won’t get it.)

Chemo is demonstrably effective and does save lives. The evidence is literally everywhere, because basically everybody knows someone who has survived cancer through chemotherapy. Fuck yeah, chemo sucks. Fuck yeah, nobody likes it. But we do it when indicated because even though it sucks ass, doing chemo is much more effective against certain kinds of cancer than not doing it. People telling you that 2% bullshit are trying to sell you something.

Juicing, on the other hand, DOES ABSOLUTELY FUCK-ALL FOR CANCER*, and all the other wacky shit in the Gerson ‘protocol,’ like the no-salt diet and the liver injections, is actively fucking dangerous:

Between 1980 and 1986, at least 13 patients treated with Gerson therapy were admitted to San Diego area hospitals with Campylobacter fetus sepsis attributable to the liver injections. None of the patients was cancer-free, and one died of his malignancy within a week. Five were comatose due to low serum sodium levels, presumably as a result of the “no sodium” Gerson dietary regimen. As a result, Gerson personnel modified their techniques for handling raw liver products and biologicals. However, the Gerson approach still has considerable potential for harm. Deaths also have been attributed to the coffee enemas administered at the Tijuana clinic.

…A naturopath who visited the Gerson Clinic in 1983 was able to track 21 patients over a 5-year period (or until death) through annual letters or phone calls. At the 5-year mark, only one was still alive (but not cancer-free); the rest had succumbed to their cancer.

And forty years before that:

In 1947, the NCI reviewed ten cases selected by Dr. Gerson and found his report unconvincing. That same year, a committee appointed by the New York County Medical Society reviewed records of 86 patients, examined ten patients, and found no evidence that the Gerson method had value in treating cancer. An NCI analysis of Dr. Gerson’s book A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases concluded in 1959 that most of the cases failed to meet the criteria (such as histologic verification of cancer) for proper evaluation of a cancer case. A recent review of the Gerson treatment rationale concluded: (a) the “poisons” Gerson claimed to be present in processed foods have never been identified, (b) frequent coffee enemas have never been shown to mobilize and remove poisons from the liver and intestines of cancer patients, (c) there is no evidence that any such poisons are related to the onset of cancer, (d) there is no evidence that a “healing” inflammatory reaction exists that can seek out and kill cancer cells.

These idiots have been torturing human beings and not curing cancer for over forty years! And yet it’s the real doctors we hate!

Using woo and pseudo-science to scare people off an effective tool like vaccines is one thing (because you’re likely to be far removed from the real-life results of your stance, alternately known as “other people’s dead babies”), but telling someone diagnosed with cancer to buy a fucking Vitamix? Seriously?! Someone freaked out and terrified and grasping at straws, you’re gonna give them half-assed off-the-cuff advice about shit you know nothing about and are UTTERLY UNQUALIFIED TO DISCUSS? HOW THE FUCK DO YOU EVEN SLEEP AT NIGHT?

I mean, I know. I know. You’re not trolling, you really do believe in this stuff. You’re nice people and you have big hearts and you’ve dutifully internalized everything you’ve been told about “healing” (which is not the same as actual medical science, but hey, whatever) and you hardly ever truly contemplate the sources of these teachings. You honestly think you’re being helpful and insightful and open-minded and alternative. Shit, a lot of you have undergone various numbers of years of training in these things, and make your livelihoods from selling your services to the worried well.

You’ve bought the conspiracy hook, line, and sinker, and you really do think that bona fide “natural healing” modalities are being suppressed by The Man because money. You haven’t stopped to deeply consider that “natural” not only doesn’t mean anything (everything that exists is “natural”), but that even if it did it wouldn’t matter. It hasn’t really occurred to you that the vast majority of the time, Reiki and yoga and Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine and herbs and homeopathy and The Secret are fine because they give people a very deep and very needed sense of agency — I myself do Sun Salutes and eat kitcheree and throw I Ching on occasion — but that for actual life-threatening diseases, these approaches universally fail to produce measurable, repeatable results**.

Which means, in a nutshell, that they’re placebo. They don’t work. They don’t work because the Universe is orderly and full of laws, and regular ol’ unenlightened people only get cured when the cures actually work.

So you’re not malicious or even truly stupid, I know that, but I just don’t think I can stand it anymore. It’s not just the political nonsense; I can’t count the number of times some addle-headed creature I’m friends with (usually but not always from Fairfield) has posted some pseudo-scientific jargony bullshit on Facebook and I’ve replied with the appropriate Quackwatch or Snopes or Wikipedia link… and then gone back and deleted it ten minutes later, because these are nice people and their intentions are good and they’d probably be really hurt if I called them gullible addle-headed twats right on their own Facebook walls.

But the truth is that Reiki doesn’t cure anything, homeopathy doesn’t cure anything, and The Secret just makes terminally ill people feel guilty. Making the worried well feel better is something, obviously, but it’s NOT THE SAME AS ACTUAL MEDICAL SCIENCE. We need to develop the discernment that allows us to tell the fucking difference between a healer-prescribed smoothie diet for your psychosomatic fibromyalgia and chemo-fucking-therapy for your actual fucking cancer: The first does nothing, is not detectable, and operates only in the “sufferer’s” head. The second is measurably effective in the real world. Which is what you need if you’re unenlightened and sick.

Most of the time, believing in bullshit is harmless. Most people, regardless of their Facebook posts, do get their vaccines before international travel, and they do take chemotherapy when they get fucking cancer, so what they “believe” in between times is essentially irrelevant.

But man, these posts! I’m like, HOW DO YOU EITHER NOT KNOW OR NOT CARE THAT JOE MERCOLA HAS BEEN SANCTIONED BY THE FDA MORE THAN ONCE? He sells diagnostic equipment as a breast cancer “cure,” for fuck’s sake! He lives in a multi-million dollar dwelling and repeatedly claims he’s not in it for the money! HE’S TOTALLY A FUCKING QUACK! JUST LIKE OZ AND JOHN OF GOD AND CHRISTIANE NORTHRUP AND EVEN CHOPRA! How do you not know that and and and are not news sources but stores, selling snake oil to the ignorant masses?!

Well, you do know. You obviously know, because you’re the ones buying all the pills and capsules and drops and teas and herbs and mushrooms and salves and books and tapes and retreats and seminars and cruises. You people are a multi-billion dollar industry. You’re making Oz and Oprah and Mercola and Chopra filthy fucking rich.

It literally takes only seconds, to vet anyone who’s ever been on Oprah for quackery, using an internet connection and a search engine. Seconds! I’d never even heard of this ignorant and crazy Gerson therapy until I read that Facebook post, but I knew in less than 90 seconds that it was bullshit, and unsafe bullshit at that.

Those of you who continue to believe in your ridiculous “vaccine reform” nonsense are doing real damage. Infants are dying of fucking whooping cough now, because you think your feelings and half-assed, biased internet “research” equals real expertise. Well, you’re not fucking experts, you don’t understand most of what you read, and you’re not qualified to think what you think, period. I’m totally unqualified too, WHICH IS WHY I READ ACTUAL EXPERTS RATHER THAN FAME-SEEKING RETARDS LIKE THE ENTERTAINERS ON FUCKING OPRAH. You want to get involved in “vaccine reform”? Go get a BS in molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or microbiology. Until then, shut the fuck up because you literally do not know what you’re talking about, regardless of your feelings. Seriously.

Those of you who tell people who are genuinely sick and suffering to turn their backs on the sum of human scientific and medical knowledge and let some unqualified, credulous woo practitioner direct their treatments ARE DIRECTLY CAUSING HARM by choosing not to vet your own goddamned idiotic beliefs! HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS AND FIND WITHIN YOURSELF A DEEP AND URGENT DESIRE TO CORRECT YOUR FAULT?

Yes, yes, karma, blah blah blah. Somebody may be “destined” to logon to Facebook, see a link, and fire their oncologist because they’re “supposed” to die an awful, unmanaged, hideously painful death at the hands of charlatans. What the fuck ever. I’ve read my scripture and damn right it’s my duty to at least try to stop the tide when it gets to the point it’s doing actual damage.

Listen. Any modality that blames the patient for not getting well is not medicine, it’s woo. And all woo does this. Sick? Stressed? Dying of cancer? It’s your fault! You deserve it. We were unable to cure you because there’s something inherently wrong with you, you didn’t try hard enough, you’re not pure. It’s your karma.

I just don’t know if I can deal. While I do learn a fuckton of (mostly useless!) knowledge looking up every second or third claim I see while scrolling down that Facebook feed, I just don’t know what to do when grown-ass adult human beings are posting Mercola and claims as if the shit wasn’t all utter garbage, or when people are telling each other NOT to do chemo and let some fucking hippies inject them with liver extract and withhold sodium until they’re in a goddamned coma, or even just when people make claims about welfare fraud or the non-existent gender-based pay gap that I can disprove with a single URL.

I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THIS BRAVE NEW WORLD OF SOCIAL NETWORKING. Do I tell you you’re a total fucking retard? Or do I scroll on by and let all that insular, awful, Dark Age-level “belief” in totally made-up stuff continue to snowball? What’s that old adage about just standing by and letting shit happen because it wasn’t your job to do anything about it?

The following random ER doctor’s blog post sums up my conflict perfectly in a piece about a young woman “treated” with Gerson who is probably dead now:

Most woo is harmless — but that’s because most woo is directed at chronic, ill-defined, or otherwise incurable conditions. Think chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Wave a magnet at somebody, get them to do a lot of enemas and go on a special diet, and you get to write a book and go on Oprah and collect a lot of money. If the subjects of the “magical thinking medicine” think they are better from the intervention, then so much the better.

“But the really pernicious thing about allowing fantasy medical theories and treatments into the mainstream is that when they gain enough credence among the masses, they will tend to be used in place of real medical treatments that work.

Tons of so-called “alternative medicine” is placebo, and that’s fine. It’s fine because much of what ails us is psychological and we need the time, the attention, the touch, and the feeling of agency we get when we have capsules to take and exercises to do at home — these things help us feel like we’re doing something to combat our “illness.” But woo doesn’t heal actual maladies, people. There’s a huge difference, and I know we’re all smart enough to recognize this.

I got so much more satisfaction visiting a midwife — who scheduled 45-minute appointments, and listened to me and paid attention to me as a whole person — than I ever did seeing a gynecologist. But believe you me, when it turned out I had a fucking prolapsed fibroid cyst coming out of my uterus that was about to get infected and kill me, I went to a surgical gynecologist and not a nutritionist. Because I’m not a total fucking idiot.

* Unless you’re so sick you’re having trouble swallowing; then smoothies can be a good way to get nutrition inside you. But they won’t heal your fucking cancer. Because cancer is CANCER, not fucking scurvy. Of course life-long dietary influences must have a part in cancer-causing, but there is absolutely zero evidence that feeding people sugars is beneficial.
** Yes, I know modern science has and does and will prove that certain ancient modalities do work: the Neti pot, for instance, and Artemisinin. But Ayurved is also responsible for killing people with lead poisoning and traditional Chinese medicine prescribes toxic herbs too, and the wildly divergent dosages from one plant to the next… don’t even get me started. And the majority of treatments offered by either tradition, in terms of measurable results, are entirely indetectable. Which means they don’t actually do anything.

Update: A few days later, someone else in my timeline solicited the medical advice of Facebook on the topic of an iron shot. Apparently she’s chronically anemic and her doctor recommended the shot to, I assume, alleviate this condition. She cancelled the appointment due to her concerns about “toxic” side-effects and is looking into woo iron supplements. Because at least they’re unregulated, arbitrarily dosed, and “natural.” *headdesk*

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

October 20th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Recipes - (2 Comments)

In which there’s no recipe BECAUSE BREAD IS ENTIRELY fucking RANDOM! Whoo! IT’S ALIVE!

This is one of those food blog posts in which the author bangs on and on about nothing and talks about her personal life, but there’s no recipe at the end so it’s technically not one of those posts, you know, the ones I bitch about because the irrelevant nonsense takes like half an hour to scroll past before you get to the fucking recipe but there is no recipe here so it’s totally different!

I have no idea if any of this about the healthfulness or digestibility of sourdough bread is scientifically backed or even true, but it sounds nice and I’ve had time on my hands so I grew some sourdough starter and fed it every day for about a week.

Then I split it in half, and now I have two sourdough starters: one primarily white, one whole wheat. (The whole wheat one is slightly more active, which is the opposite of what I expected.)

I know nothing about baking but I can cook, I can read, and I can learn. So I’ve been reading everything I can get my eyeballs on about traditional bread baking, no-knead bread, and sourdough.


My observation is that there’s no such thing as a bread recipe. Every single recipe is different. Every single video shows utterly different methods. Baking temperature, baking times are always wildly divergent, even for the same amount of the same type of dough. It’s a complete disaster, this whole bread-baking thing.

If you want, for example, to learn how to make enchilada sauce, because you’re not Mexican and you never saw the elder women in your family do it and so you have very little sense of how it’s done, you get online and you read anywhere from 6 to thirty enchilada sauce recipes in a row. You find out what all the recipes have in common in terms of ingredients, ratios, and procedures, and you more or less do the mean, the average, the gist of all those recipes. And you’re going to end up with something fantastic.

This is how I have learned make everything I cook, from chicken noodle soup to pudlas: read as many recipes as possible, do what they all have in common. If you see the same exact noodle recipe in fifteen different places, use that one. It’s the one that works.

People have been baking bread for ten thousand years, and apparently everybody does it differently and has a different pet theory about what’s happening in the proofing bowl. Bread’s alive, and it responds to the various environments it finds itself in, so there are no hard and fast rules. All those incredibly verbose bread blogs I skimmed are trying to teach instinct, not technique: how to tell when to add more flour, when to leave it alone, when to bake it and for how long and how high. Every single blog says somewhere that you just have to bake enough bread to get a feel for it.

My conclusion: It’s just fucking bread! We discovered leavening by accident, probably from just leaving dough lying around like lazy ancient hippies! There is no technique as much as intuition! Apparently any idiot can make bread!

And I’m definitely any idiot. (In my entire life I’d made no-knead bread twice, a couple of soda breads that don’t even count, and a kneaded sourdough once that didn’t really turn out that well because I dunno shit about kneading bread. And that’s my whole entire baking career.) So I decided to wing it and go by feels!

I’d gotten the starters down from the top of the fridge to feed them and thought, “What the hell. I’ll use the discards and fake my way through some bread.” So I poured half of each into the ugly pink bowl that is my only bowl and therefore gets constant use — possibly as much as two cups of unfed starter, maybe even more — added some warm tap water, added some white flour, added some salt, added some yeast. Stirred it up. Set the bowl on the top of the (gas, and therefore always warm) stove and covered it. And forgot about it for twelve hours while I drank wine, read sci-fi, watched 70′s British horror films, and slept.

Sometime in the middle of the next day I poured the doubled-in-volume, bubbly dough out onto a floured counter top and it was so wet it just ran all over the place. I had to scrape it up with a spatula. It was a huge, sticky fucking mess. I threw it back into the bowl with a bunch of flour and stirred it up, then covered it and returned it to the top of the stove.

Did the same thing again in the evening. The dough was slightly stiffer, but still just flopped all over the place and could scarcely be folded in thirds. Needless to say, I floured the hell out of it and stuck it back in its bowl — after I’d scraped a bunch of half-dried sticky wallpaper paste out of it and washed and dried it — on top of a generous sheet of parchment.

At about the 24-hour mark, I used the now-damp parchment paper to lift it — still a floppy mass and unable to hold a shape, but still clearly active in terms of yeast — into a pre-heated stainless steel stockpot in a 400F oven, where I let it bake for the better part of an hour, misting the floor of the oven with water at random intervals and watching classic pro-wrestling with my boyfriend. (Some of those costumes are seriously hilarious, as is this video. Plus he gets a kick out of it, so who am I to judge.)

Sourdough 2

When knocking on the bottom of the loaf produced a hollow sound we left off baking (even though I’m convinced it could easily have stood another 15 minutes in the oven). It overnighted on a wire rack, and when I got up today I cut into it. It’s heavy, moist, with what they call ‘beautiful artisanal crumb’ and a gorgeous (for a bread containing whole wheat) soft but chewy crust.

Sourdough 3

It’s also incredibly sour, like a San Francisco loaf. So sour it drowns out the taste of butter altogether. I knew it would be sour because of the long rise time, but it’s REALLY SOUR. It’ll have to be eaten with really strong flavors: olive tapenade, aged cheeses, pesto. Maybe a thick, spicy tomato soup.

I’m guessing that the whole kneading thing offers a baker a little more control over her bread, but I’m not sure I’m up to bothering to learn it yet when I can have perfectly edible loaves with the no-knead “method” and time and guesses.

Off to go see what the internet suggests one do with a very sour loaf of sourdough bread, then.


October 17th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a post about some things.

I’m employed! I have a job. It starts on the 2nd of November. I’ll be doing call center work from home, probably for Comcast, dressed in my drawstring pants and t-shirts and not wearing a bra. I’m excited to have money coming my way again, so I can buy silly things and also save up for vacations, and about not having a commute during blizzard season, which will be here any day now.

It’s tech support for a well-known and much-hated behemoth, and I will probably start raging almost immediately. I expect I’ll revive my old dead fuckingsupport Tumblr as a way to channel the call center rage into internet hilarity.

I got an email yesterday with my new work email login, VPN info, chat client login, and general instructions for setting up my machine for work. Uninstalling Norton was as stupid as it ever was, and setting up a user profile in Windows 8.1 takes for-fucking-ever, but the machine’s pretty much ready to go. Now I need to figure out where I’m going to work and get a desk or something set up.

Toshiba Satellite S55T-B5335

The last time I worked from home, I just built a desk in G’ma’s basement of old wooden crates and a slab door. Sure wish we had the materials and the space to do that here! The problem is that my shifts will most likely be at odd hours for the next 6 months, so I may be working at any time. Should I set up in the living room or the bedroom? Hard to know.

I made sourdough bread! From my homemade sourdough starter! And it’s sour!

It’s also really dry and heavy and chewy, with very little loft, even though I let it rise for three times longer than the recipe called for. Kneaded bread is stupid; give me the no-knead recipe any day!

Sourdough baguettes

We’ve now used Instacart twice and Prime Now once! People just bring shit to your house and you literally don’t even have to go anywhere, ever! I am somewhat ashamed about having people bring me groceries but they keep doing it for free!

Amazon Prime Now

I really need to do my dishes.

There is a zombie bar crawl going on downtown, and we keep seeing drunk zombies out our living room window.

In which I talk about shit that happens on social networking! And about PEOPLE WHO ARE MAD ON THE INTERNET! And other meaningless irrelevant crap! In fact, don’t even read this. You should go giggle or meditate or get wine drunk or something.

xkcd: Duty Calls

I make people mad on Facebook all the time. I frequently type “LOL” beneath political videos posted in earnest. I often find Snopes rebuttals to absurd infographics and post them right on people’s walls. When I see rants against aspartame, I type paragraphs about stupidity, gullibility, laziness, and that Egyptian river we’ve all heard about.

This behavior, of course, gets me ignored or attacked, but I’m too old to feel bad when someone wrong tells me I’m unfeminine.

Our culture-wide belief that experts, due to the existence of corruption, are irrelevant, and that the common man, sans education but with an internet connection and his feelings, is equal to any and everyone who’s spent decades in study… it’s complete fucking lunacy.

At this point, it’s all idiots versus experts. See: the anti-vax movement. See: chiropractic patients buying absurd supplements that don’t do anything. See: young women trying to abort early pregnancies with non-regulated herbs they bought at a Whole Foods. See: numerous articles claiming exposure to protective doses of fluoride is an “endocrine disruptor” (no evidence, unless heavily over-exposed). See: billions of words on the internet that are lies. Lies about medicine, lies about our food supply, lies about government and moon landings and modern pterodactyls.

Worst of all is the fact that most of the time the people producing this untrue content don’t even know they’re lying. They really believe what they’re saying is true. They think feelings are facts, and that feelings qualify them to disagree with reality.

I call it hysteria and ignorance. Rich (compared to global standards of living), mostly-white, mostly-educated people absolutely railing against century-old breakthroughs that have saved millions of lives, because they don’t remember what it was like before these breakthroughs were in place… and because they’re prone to the same ignorant, superstitious nonsense our ancestors were prone to (but without even the excuse of the church to blame for it).

It’s an extension of those who rejected electricity because they decided it was deviltry, or those who laughed at hand-washing for surgeries or births because germs hadn’t yet been discovered. You may think it’s hilarious that someone somewhere once thought a photograph could steal his soul, but in the same moment you might also believe in ridiculous crap like chelation therapy or an alkaline diet or detoxing.

In my own personal belief system, conquering self-delusion is the whole purpose of existence. Observing the process of clinging to ego (beliefs, identity, thoughts, feelings) is the entire point of the game. Learning you’re wrong is an experience to be embraced, not avoided. I mean, of course it totally fucking sucks at first, but eventually you get used to it and can see the progress that being wrong affords you.

You are not what you think about. Having your thoughts challenged is good. Being disagreed with is good. Having your feelings hurt is good. Change is not only the primary quality of the entire fucking universe, but it’s good.

And yet every single person I disagree with online responds immediately with an ad hominem attack against my intellect or my femininity, and demands haughtily that I should attempt to contribute something useful to the alleged discussion.

(Please note I only disagree with shit I can back up with facts! I never disagree with people’s feelings, even when they’re maudlin as fuck — “repost this if you have a brother you REALLY love!”, as if by not re-posting it I’m announcing to the universe that I don’t love my brother — or seriously ignorant, like the man-hating or childishly romantic relationship memes single women often post. Because you can’t disagree with people’s feelings. They’re feelings. Duh.)

Well, I did contribute something useful: I pointed out to you that you’re wrong, thereby gifting you an opportunity to learn, which is an opportunity to grow. Whatever dumb shit you just posted about aspartame/vaccines/fluoride/politics is demonstrably untrue, and here are the links to experts who can prove it! You’re welcome!

But people do not want discussions. They want validation, permission to keep believing whatever wrong stuff they believe because it somehow shores up their worldview. They want Likes on their Mercola link about THE DANGERS OF ASPERTAME even though there is, in actual fact, zero evidence that aspertame is harmful.

When I laugh at posts or link to experts, it’s instant rage and/or condescending replies about how my tone isn’t translating through text and how it’s my responsibility not to hurt people’s feelings on the internet, but zero actual interest in pondering the foundations of the whole thing, in unpacking the actual ideas behind the post in the first place.

I mean, listen, this shit is super cool to think about! On the topic of aspertame alone: WHY do we feel like lab-made stuff is bad? WHY do we think we’re getting away with something when our treats have no calories? (Do we even know yet that calorie theory, just like lipid theory, has turned out to be wrong? If we do, does that relieve our guilt? If so, WHY? Why do we feel guilty enjoying a no-calorie treat? Do we have a belief that indulgences should be costly? Why? How far back can we trace this belief? Can we link it to our Puritan forefathers? Do other countries have these feelings too?)

How do we feel when we learn that aspartame is actually nothing but two amino acids, the sweetness of the combination of which was discovered entirely by accident? What parts of patent law and marketing, as brought to bear on the artificial sweetener market, are upsetting to us and why? Why do we think people are so willing to believe anecdotal stories about artificial sweeteners even though 25 years of epidemiology have failed to find any credible links between artificial sweeteners and hyperactivity or cancer or seizures or migraines or pseudo-science’s not-medically-defined so-called neurotoxicity?

Nope. It’s really more like Fuck that, fuck you, and fuck your complicated and complex questions, you’re an elitist, you’re attacking me, you’re wrong, aspartame IS toxic poison! I just know it! As are vaccines! And GMOs! And cancer can totally be cured with herbs! I DON’T HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT, OR EVEN BE ABLE TO HOLD A COMPLEX IDEA IN MY HEAD, TO KNOW MY OWN FEELINGS ABOUT ASPARTAME!

True. You don’t need to be an expert on anything to know your own feelings. Your own feelings which are not the topic of discussion and which are quite literally irrelevant. But, hey, whatever.

(I think people think that the love they read about in scripture is a feeling, and that all feelings are therefore spiritually important. They’re wrong on both points. Most feelings are egocentric nonsense, really.)

And no amount of truth can be presented, because every single time, the person you’re engaging with will: demand that you prove your assertion even though you already have; reject every item of legitimate proof you offer (usually as ‘tainted by corporate greed’ or ‘manufactured by enemies of the true cause’), offer loooooooong and irrelevant anecdotal stories with frequent appeals to emotion but zero data as “proof,” and finally hurl boringly similar ad hominem attacks in which I’m told I’m stupid (which almost makes sense as an online insult) and unfemininely abrasive (which is hilarious to me, this apparent belief that pointing out my success or failure at feminine modesty will somehow make the truth less true).

I seriously have to limit my exposure to my Facebook feed, because it is almost entirely full of untruths that people are violently determined to believe. I read it for the posts about new babies, new jobs, new marriages, and other interesting life experiences, the very funny group chats around my online friend John’s Question of the Day, and the rare grown-up conversation about, say, the political situation in Syria. Usually when I take a moment to point out that someone’s crazy article about Chinese imports was disproved by Snopes three years ago, there’s resounding silence or I get unfriended. When I reply to an over-simplistic meme about Social Security’s insolvency with evidence that whatever being implied’s not actually true, there’s an occasional “oh thanks I didn’t have time to look it up,” but more often than not a reply accusing me of being delusional because I don’t agree with the poster’s feelings about the government’s previous fiscal behaviors.

What I don’t get is why you’d rather be wrong than suffer the brief and completely transient feeling of having been wrong and learned something. What you’ve learned about is irrelevant; it’s the process that matters. Maybe you, like me, once thought chiropractic was a respectable treatment modality, but learned later that of the 45 minutes you spent with your chiropractor she was only practicing chiropractic for about five minutes and the rest of the session was woo. Maybe you further learned that chiropractic’s fundamental tenant is woo, too, in light of advancements after it was invented, but that certain manipulations performed for certain conditions are measurably and repeatably effective. Maybe you went through a whole journey of discovery and release and change and understanding and nuance that introduced you to a more refined inner state, one you are encouraging because it is the path to equilibrium and non-attachment. Chiropractic, and our belief about it, in and of itself is irrelevant. So is fluoride. So are your feelings about vaccines. But don’t you see that letting yourself evolve is imperative? Even when it’s really uncomfortable?

Especially when it’s uncomfortable?

Maybe not. Maybe you’d rather publicly post untrue things and get angry and aggressive when I laugh at them. Which is cool too, I guess. But it’s public, and I can laugh at you if I want. But yes, all of you who get so very angry about being disagreed with online, I am laughing at you, at your little grumpy egos, and I am poking you deliberately even though I know exactly how you’ll react.

It’s both baffling and funny to me. Baffling because all you have to do is decide: it takes a split second and suddenly you’re free of being angry and ashamed and embarrassed and uncomfortable when someone disagrees with you and OH MY GOD WHY WON’T YOU DO IT, JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT RIGHT THIS SECOND? You should totally do it!

And funny because, well, it’s funny. People getting so upset about words on the internet. People choosing to feel attacked and victimized because you posted a link to the Snopes page and typed “LOL” a couple times under their idiotic little rants and memes and conspiracy theories and thoroughly debunked causes! What’s not to laugh at, really? You’re a rich Westerner on the internet, with access to damn near the whole of human knowledge almost instantaneously, and yet you still choose to believe in ridiculous shit!

Well, kiddo, I know it hurts your feelings, but you’re just plain wrong. Vaccines don’t cause autism, you’re not even remotely qualified to lobby for vaccine reform regardless of the exquisite depth of your feels, motherhood does not confer scientific ability, fluoride is safe, aspartame is safe, correlation does not imply causation, social security was partially de-funded by a Republican congress, detoxification as used by woo practitioners is a nonsense concept, cleanses are useless at best and dangerous at worst, chiropractic is good for a very narrow set of manipulations but is mostly gibberish, homeopathy has no measurable effect, “rape culture” is a (fairly skewed and crazy) worldview and not an actual fact, NASA did land on the moon, medical cancer treatments do work, naturopaths are not real doctors, Obama’s a citizen, and welfare fraud is neither common nor rampant.

But you’re a self-proclaimed expert, qualified in the secret method of knowing real reality from GIGANTIC CORPORATE AND GOVERNMENTAL COVER-UPS, and I’m just some dumb bitch on the internet! So you just keep on believin’ your silly stuff and I’ll try not to laugh at you*.

*lol no i wont that’s an internet lie ill totally never not laugh at you ;-)

Hard-core Housewifery

October 6th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess - (0 Comments)

In which I cooked and cleaned all day yesterday!

Over the weekend we visited Microcenter, where we purchased a monitor, a Toshiba Satellite, and a USB headset.

Toshiba Satellite S55T-B5335

The latter two items were for me, with the sincere hope that I’ll get a support job I’d applied and interviewed for, and for which my Asus wasn’t up to spec. The monitor was for Scott, who worked from home yesterday
primarily, I think, in order to use his shiny new toy. He totally deserved a new monitor.

I cooked a pot of beans, made vegetable broth, made chowder, and baked a few loaves of bread.

Vegetable broth

Whole wheat no-knead bread

Today's cooking accomplishments

I also swept the kitchen, living room, and hall. I mopped — until the mop came apart, and then I hand-scrubbed — the kitchen floor. I took the rugs outside and shook them and let them get some afternoon sunlight. I did two sinks full of dishes. I made the bed. I folded and put away a load of laundry.

And then I drank a bottle of wine and read half a sci-fi novel!

Last but not least, right before bed I packed Scott a lunch. I made him a salami, pepperoni, and white cheddar sandwich on homemade baguette (!!!), and packed leftover cabbage & noodles, plus added some cubed cheese with olives and pickles. Should get him through the day intact.

Today I may clean the bathroom, may do a load of laundry, may cook dinner. Or not. I might just watch random YouTube videos and blow off the cleaning and serve leftovers for dinner!


September 28th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

In which there are verses.

O foremost of men, listen to the merits and demerits, as we indicate,
that respectively arise from associating with what is good and what is bad.
As cloth, water, sesame-seeds and ground are perfumed by their association with flowers,
so qualities are derived from association.

Association with the fools produces delusion,
as daily association with the honest and good produces virtue.
Therefore those who are virtuously inclined should associate with men
who are wise, old, honest, and pure in conduct and who are ascetics.

We get sin by serving the sinful,
conversation and association with them, cause diminution of virtue.

Association with the mean and the low,
makes one’s understanding mean and low;
Association with the indifferent makes it indifferent, and
association with the good makes it good.

— Aranyaka Parva, Vana Parva, Mahabharata Book iii.1

Thousand causes of grief and hundred causes of fear overwhelm the ignorant day after day, but not the learned.
Intelligent men never allow themselves to be deluded by acts which are opposed to true knowledge, which is fraught with every kind of evil, and which is destructive of salvation.

This world is afflicted with both bodily and mental sufferings,
Disease, contact with painful things, toil and want of objects desired — these are the four causes ef the sufferings of the body,
Disease may be allayed by the application of medicine, but mental ailments are cured by Yoga meditation.

As a hot iron ball makes the water of a jar hot, so mental grief brings bodily pains,
As water quenches fire, so knowledge allays mental ailments,
When mind enjoys peace, body also enjoys peace.

Attachment is the root of all misery and of all fear. Attachment produces joy and grief of every kind,
From attachment spring all worldly desires, and it is from attachment that springs the love of worldly goods,
The man that is influenced by attachment is tortured by desire, and from the desire that springs up in his heart, his thirst for worldly possessions increases.

This thirst is sinful, and is regarded as the source of all anxieties.
To many men, the wealth they possess is their bane. The man, who sees happiness in wealth and becomes attached to it, knows not what true happiness is.

— Aranyaka Parva, Vana Parva, Mahabharata Book iii.2

Forgiveness is virtue; forgiveness is sacrifice, forgiveness is the Vedas, forgiveness is the Shruti. He that knoweth this is capable of forgiving everything. Forgiveness is Brahma; forgiveness is truth; forgiveness is stored ascetic merit; forgiveness protecteth the ascetic merit of the future; forgiveness is asceticism; forgiveness is holiness; and by forgiveness is it that the universe is held together.

— Kashyapa quoted in Arjunabhigamana Parva, Vana Parva, Mahabharata Book iii.29

Righteousness and unrighteousness, pleasure and pain are purely of the mind and are no concern of yours. You are neither the doer nor the reaper of the consequences, so you are always free.

You are the one witness of everything and are always completely free. The cause of your bondage is that you see the witness as something other than this.

— Ashtavakra Gita 1.6-1.7

The contract is broken

September 24th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

In which job hunting is pissing me off, or maybe bumming me out, or both.

I get these emails with exclamation points in them from various temp agencies — well, there don’t really seem to be any temp agencies anymore as much as recruiters — telling me about jobs I may be suitable for! When I reply or go to the listing, it invariably turns out to be temporary full-time work outside of the city doing something mindless and repetitive, like scanning documents eight hours a day for three months.

Not that I wouldn’t scan documents eight hours a day for three months — now that I’ve done warehouse retail, I’d do anything, no matter how soul-killingly dull, in an office setting and be grateful — but business seems to have left the city center, where I now live, and is now located in a giant ring outside the metro. You basically can’t get to Plymouth by bus, and the places you can get to are an hour away even though it’s only a few miles.

Eight hour day plus lunch plus two hour commute; pay is eleven bucks an hour because the agency gets its money off the top. So nearly 12-hour days, 5 days a week, for a quarter of a year: less than five grand, after taxes. AND the work sucks, too!

I applied for a tech job at a downtown bank. HR replied, we chatted on the phone, it sounded like a good fit… then I found out they were moving in January, leaving their iconic tower downtown for some cheaper, newer, roomier digs in a suburb I can’t reasonably commute to.

“Kelly Services is currently hiring for 40+ Call Center Customer Service Reps in Plymouth!” Ah, Plymouth, the bus-less suburb I spent an hour in, in a pantsuit, getting rained on; the suburb I took a cab home from, a cab that cost nearly fifty bucks.

Downtown jobs are mainly food service. Selling lunches and after-work cocktails to the recruiters and retail workers who haven’t yet been relocated to Eden Prairie.

My rants about entry-level part-time work, with shitty hours and pay so low workers have to be subsidized by someone or something in order to survive aside, it’s just bafflingly difficult to find work even in a city said to have a healthy job market. And then yesterday I rediscovered Amazon Mechanical Turk, a site where you can get work crowdsourced for really cheap.

The people doing the work are making five bucks an hour or less. They do it, a lot of them, according to news articles, as a time-killer, something to do in lieu of video games or television. The demographics show that most Turks are educated Americans, and yet they’re willing to do low-quality work for almost no pay.

Some of the jobs pay a penny each and take several minutes to complete, jobs like typing up grocery receipts (which makes no sense at all, when you could scan and OCR that shit instantly, but maybe at these artificially low rates it’s cheaper to have people do it than it is to buy software).

Estimates of what workers can earn on these crowdsourced tasks range from about $1.20 to $5 an hour without any benefits. Employers treat them as independent contractors not covered by federal minimum-wage legislation. A standard terms-of-use agreement gives employers the freedom to reject an employee’s work on any grounds; workers (oops, I mean contractors) have no easy recourse.

Amazon’s built this entire reality in which work that only humans can do is distributed and done by a massive hoard of university-educated, computer-owning Americans… for a non-living wage. I couldn’t figure it out until I signed up myself, figuring if I can’t get a real job and I’m online all day anyway, might as well make twenty bucks a day rather than none.

It’s there and it’s robust because it’s better than nothing. Same with Leapforce and oDesk and so many other so-called crowdsourced marketplaces. More workers than work, all the workers are “contractors” and so receive zero benefits or rights, the employers can take finished work and reject it but keep it anyway without paying for it… and the pay. Oh my God, the pay is less than half minimum wage. It’s between $1.20 and $5.00 an hour. I’ve been scouring blogs and forums and nobody claims to be making more than $500 a month, and those people are working all the time.

And yet millions of people are doing it. And idiots like this retard think it’s because they love it?

His entire premise is that because people can be seen to be doing a thing, in this case taking slave wages, that they love it, they enjoy it, they’re “perfectly happy” about it.

It takes only a few minutes of searching and reading blogs and forums to find out that nobody who has ever worked for Mechanical Turk or Leapforce or similar have loved it, nor were they ever “perfectly happy.” There is zero evidence that anybody “loves” these jobs; only evidence that people have been grateful for them because that extra $14 was the difference between life and homelessness.

Seriously: how fucking precarious is your life when FOURTEEN DOLLARS makes a difference?!

They do it because they’re un- or underemployed and desperate, or because they’re disabled and need money and have literally no other way to get any, or because they’re the sorts of personalities who would rather earn change while fucking around online than not. Nobody LIKES being underpaid, nobody LIKES having no worker protections and no recourse, nobody LIKES being exploited.

And yet there appear to be no jobs of the sort I stupidly thought I could find: jobs like my last one at the newspaper. Part-time, reasonable hours, reasonable commute, reasonable pay. A decent balance. I gave my employer something it needed, it gave me something I needed. Win/win.

Not any more. I can go out, take a job at a grocery store or a restaurant and make nine or ten bucks an hour, deal with shitty and random schedules and working every holiday and commuting on buses during blizzards. Or I can stay home and do intellectually complex work and earn even less?!?! As a “contractor” who is not a contractor and whose employer — excuse me, “client” — is breaking the law because it just doesn’t give a fuck?

Companies have become immoral. There’s no social contract. Most workers are being subsidized by entities that are not their employers: families, friends, EBT, Medicaid. No one can earn such wages and survive without additional money from the government or other people, and so many people work these jobs.

So you’re either the car-driving, full-time job with benefits-having worker, or you’re everybody else. And if you’re the former, YOU’RE subsidizing the rest of us, and by extension the shitheads we work for. Those of you with holidays off, paid vacation and sick time, regular hours, HVAC and indoor plumbing: your “cushy” jobs are literally and directly making money for Walmart and Amazon Mechanical Turk, because your taxes are going toward our EBT cards.

Last year, my partner subsidized The Home Depot for 14 months. I worked my ass off in there; it was probably one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. They paid me a non-living wage and gave me shitty schedules; my partner drove me to work at 5:45 in the morning and bought me groceries so that Craig Menear could take home three hundred times my income every month. That asshole’s bonuses were paid for by my boyfriend.

This is untenable. This is why the middle class is disappearing: directly and literally because of corporate greed and lack of responsibility. Yes, market factors are there, sure, inflation plays a part, whatever, but the bottom line is that corporations and businesses have abdicated their responsibility.

FUCK Citizens United.

Whatever happened to shift-based scheduling?

September 17th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Work - (0 Comments)

In which full availability is stupid and bad for everybody.

When I worked at a 7-Eleven in my 20′s, there were shifts. There were day people, swing people, and graveyard people. Everybody had a regular schedule — you didn’t work the same days every week, but you worked the same shift every day, the shift you were hired to do. Sure, I worked the occasional day or graveyard shift, but they were rare.

Last night I checked the internets for more info about today’s interview and found their unclaimed Facebook page, on which I learned that some poor chick last year worked Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, and that her ‘occasional overnights’ were weekly.

When you’re open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, WHY WOULDN’T YOU SCHEDULE SHIFTS?

What the fuck is the point, I wonder, of having an entire workforce with random eating times, random sleeping times, and no scheduling security? What the fuck is the point, I ask you, of having an entire workforce with permanent jetlag?

How is this good for workforce or employer?

It’s not. It’s stupid.

One can guess how it got this way. Maybe managers, who weren’t getting raises fast enough to keep up with the cost of living, got tired of having to cover shifts left uncovered due to emergency, illness, or quits. They weren’t getting paid enough for that shit, so they started letting new hires know that they’d need to be available to come in at any time. As the economy worsened, this full-availability bullshit became the norm because people accepted these horrific terms in order to get jobs. After all, how many off-shifts would you really end up working in a year?

Or maybe it happened some other way. Maybe workers in the 80′s bargained away schedule stability in order to have the opportunity to earn, earn, earn. I have no idea. All I know is that during my decades in the workforce, non-office employers’ expectations have changed drastically and to the detriment of the workforce.

By income level, the lowest income workers face the most irregular work schedules.

My last employer told me that chaotic, shift-free scheduling was “fair,” meaning that everybody had equally shitty schedules, but this approach to scheduling human resources guarantees late arrivals and no-shows from your workforce. Because people do not do well in a state of perpetual jetlag, at some point they’re going to sleep in—or sleep through a shift, or just call in sick—because their bodies will have had it.

People, as a rule, perform better when on a routine. Back when there was still a graveyard shift, people I knew who worked it claimed they were night people and that grave suited them perfectly. Not everybody wants to work day shift. Swing and grave were how students managed to work full- or nearly-full-time to pay for college. It was how the enterprising could have two jobs and some small quality of life.

When you google ‘shift work’ now, it no longer means people who work regular but non-standard hours; it means people who work utterly random schedules. A week of days followed by a week of nights, or a schedule that includes both in the same week. Crazy, awful shit. Those people (nurses, television producers) probably do it because it pays. That’s their choice.

It shouldn’t be the norm for entry-level jobs, and yet it is. Spend an hour digging through job listings and you’ll find that random scheduling is the norm for nearly all non-office positions.

There are your employed elite, with their chairs and climate control and regular 8-5 schedules and holidays off, and then there’s damn near everybody else, who have none of those perqs and earn half as much to boot.

Among service workers, production workers, and skilled trades, most employees know their schedule only one week or less in advance.

Say you run a Starbucks or a Home Depot. You’re open the same hours every day, 363 days a year. Why on earth would you change the schedule, randomly, every week? There’s no way all your employees need special schedule changes every single day of the year; you’re using Kronos or some other horrific software to generate random scheduling for no reason.

This is damaging your workforce and therefore your ability to perform well as a business.

Plus it’s just a dick move. Your people can’t schedule family or social events; are constantly struggling with childcare and transportation; are constantly suffering fatigue.

Plus, really, you greedy fucks, is your fear of having to pay a little bit of overtime every once in awhile really balanced against institutional “no full-time employee” mandates? Is the pittance (compared to corporate profits) you’d have to spend on health insurance for full-time employees really worth handicapping nearly your entire workforce with income insecurity, schedule insecurity, fatigue, and more?

Probit analysis suggests that the likelihood of being usually part-time but actually working 35 or more hours is enhanced by being white, female, not married, enrolled as a college student, not in a union, having a four-year college degree, and being employed in one of the following occupations: handlers/laborers, machine operators, private household work, sales, services and protective services, and not self-employed.

That is to say, all the women (many grandmothers) working the front end at my last job. Endless overtime due to quits due to over- or under-scheduling and low pay, issues the employer could choose to mitigate but didn’t, because it had grandmothers in its workforce to exploit. Oh, damn, the new girl quit without notice because the job sucks and so-and-so is out on maternity leave and we really need you to stay a few extra hours, just so everyone can get a lunch break is not something women find it easy to say no to.

Retail sucks so much, in fact, that there’s this. And no, they’re not asking for handouts; they’re just hoping to be less exploited. Exploitation sounds like such a strong word, but what else is it when corporations do literally everything in their power to withhold even the most basic courtesies to the employees with whom they’re in symbiotic relationship?

So much of what sucks about working retail and similar jobs is needless, and some of what sucks about working retail is due to corporations deliberately exploiting the workforce because nobody’s telling them they can’t. Paid sick days should just be a thing because it’s moral and correct. As should regular scheduling. A living wage. A moderate expectation of the number of hours you want and job security.

For the poor, work is broken.