Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gigganomitry (The Gig Economy)


So apparently there has been empirical, economic and journalistic analysis of my lifetyle in our hearty economy!  Apparently I've been part of the "gig economy" and I didn't even know about it! What a trendy title as well; a "gig", why I sound like a young rock start  fighting his way into the limelight!

Alright, so basically this gig economy is the idea of individuals holding multiple jobs or engaging in various types of contract work rather than working for one company full-time. Freelancers, part-timers, or temps are other terms for these individuals but the main idea is that these people do lots of different stuff at more than one place for money. 


Now the gig economy has always been around, but apparently now it's gotten more prevalent to the point where 1/3rd of the workforce is in some way involved in the gig economy. How great! So now it's sort of a big deal due to our economic downturn as this has become fairly economical for a lot  of types of business who can get people to work and not provide any of the benefits (health, dental, vision, retirement). 

Now I don't like to reveal too much about myself in my writings as one should be embarrassed to admit to associate themselves with this blog. But basically I have four different jobs (five if you counted being a blogger but that would just be disgraceful to say these writing are in anyway "professional" or "economic") that I juggle to make ends meet. I educate real good in all of them, but all these jobs are different and varying slightly in nature, but a lot of them are  dependent on the ability to "get gigs". I need to attract students to tutor, I do so through a tutor- contracting website known as wyzant. I substitute teach and have to hover around this website like an angry locust waiting for a teacher to make a sub request. I won't reveal two other jobs as that would be too personal, but I juggle a lot of jazz and it's interesting to say the least.


Now, whether or not this trend is a good thing, we deserve this as a society and I'll get to that later. I'll start by saying this can be very fun. I like all the work I do resulting from my ability to more easily choose this. I'm not hampered down by a job, I have a lot of freedom and independence, I have the chance to do things I believe are important in a way they should be done and I get to advocate for what I'm capable of doing when I remember to say things in that nature. Each day of my week is different and as they say variety is the spice of life, I certainly have this in my spice cabinet. My schedule can be flexible to make time for friends and family and in the end, I get paid to do the things I generally enjoy doing, which is just great.

From a negative standpoint is the lack of stability. It takes a while to piece jobs together and I can talk about how glamorous all the flexibility is until the economic reality hits you that you don't have much choice in your life when you're not bringing in the bacon enough. I have months where I'm up financially and months where I didn't get enough work together to feel like I'm financially viable. As mentioned here, any of the labor protection laws that were fought for in America's long history aren't able to conceptualize the gig economy and thus don't include them in their legislation. Things like unemployment, health insurance, and maternity leave (if I managed to hopefully get  pregnant) aren't covered for part-timers. Too bad. I do buy my own health insurance which Massachusetts can be nice about but it is still very expensive. 

From the viewpoint of society, I think the gig economy can be a great thing. I feel like I'm great for the economy. I'm like some type of fish in the ocean that trapses around a whale carcass and while other fish eat away at the good, satisfying, easy to reach parts of the whale, I wait till there's nothing left that the other fish want (say the bone marrow) and creatively devour that.  I'm not taking up that much in the way of available employment and I'm able to do work that full time employees won't do (with my ninja-like flexibility). Employers don't have to worry about "having work" for me to do full time as I'm not there full time and I can do a great job whenever somebody needs it. 

I think this trend just makes sense, and it's what we get as a society when so many of our institutions are this dysfunctional. Largely this is due to economics; it at least seems much more cost-effective to hire free-lancers than full timers. As many of our companies dwindle in profits, manage themselves poorly, or just become greedier; this is a result. Largely this is due to our mess of health and health care in our country. With soaring health care prices, it becomes so expensive to provide health insurance that it's a cost companies sometimes can't really (or prefer not to) handle. Whatever the factors are, it all adds up to pushing out the full time worker. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How can we Function in Society if we Don't Know Where we are?


"If you don't know where you are, that's probably because you don't belong here". My mother told me this was an old New England credo referring to visitors venturing forth through the Boston area. I could see this being true. Streets are curvaceous; signs are sparse or non-existent; there can be many one-way roads and rotaries all up in your grill. The Boston area is tough to get around and I think this causes more problems than we think and I think we could find a creative way for everything just to make a bit more sense navigationally speaking.  

We have our MBTA system which can work despite it's massive deficit. However, any lateral movement is strikingly difficult as the subway only goes inbound or outbound. I can't begin to fathom taking the T  to Brookline, Allston or Dorchester as those coordinates are sideways to my current position, nor would I ever want to begin to set foot on the notorious B-section of the green line which is slower than Satan. There is also the complaint that the city's public transit system shuts down at the ripe hour of 12:30ish (you can't actually peg that final departing to a exact T). Like Cinderalla needing to return from the ball, having a night out afar from home will have you watching the clock with a fervor knowing that if you miss that midnight train, you'll be ragged, alone and deathly. 

Never get on this color train if you can avoid it!

Navigating by car or walking can be nothing sorts of treacherous. Overall this city is incredibly windy and at some point you just end up on Storrow drive when that was the last thing you ever wanted to do. Signs for major roads and highways are present but sometimes they seem to merely tease you as some other obstacle overwhelms your every whim and thwarts any chance of trying to reach I-90. There are one way streets that not only take you one way, but also manage to trap you in an area you didn't intend. Signs can often not be seen, and roads seem to morph into a different avenue like a developing tad pole that starts to grow legs and lose it's tail. I once circled around the Charles River 3.5 times; hugging and cursing it as I went in between Cambridge and Boston like I was playing a goddam game of duck-duck goose. I don't like that game.  Then for some reason I ended up in Dorchester. I don't know how I got there and nor will I ever know. 

You can't get there from here - Harvard Square
"You can't get there from here" situation in Boston.., 
I can get lost a lot. I've probably spent 3 - 7 years of my life trying to navigate things ineffectively. I absolutely lack a sense of direction and will be the first to admit that. However, my millions of minutes spent going the wrong way, going in circles, or actually going inside myself like a turtle is not completely the fault of my poorly developed cognitive maps. Our region does this to people, maybe deliberately. Not only is New England hard to navigate, but it also has the ability to sully any meaningful chance to develop a sense of spatial intelligence. Nothing makes any sense, at all. Our puritan ancestor released cows in different directions and there movement is what determined our current roads. Thank you everyone and all parties involved.

It is my belief this is something that we jest about, but it's more of a problem for society than we give it credit for. When I am getting lost in this city, what I'm most shocked about is not the amount of time it takes me to find my destination, but its the fact that most people around me seem to have no clue where my destination is either.

Doesn't know where is right now...
 I'll ask people, lots of people because boy am I sure lost, but often they won't know where a street, school, restaurant or baseball stadium are and they're walking dogs and stuff! Surely they live in the area if they're walking their dogs and surely if they live in the area they'll know where Putnam avenue is in Cambridge. It's a major street or artery but nobody seems to know where it is! One guy sent me the wrong way and another guy told me I should just give up, he can't help me and I won't make it to my job interview on time and won't amount to much with my life. Ok, that's an exaggeration.

I just think that this robs us of so much potential movement. Bostons not that big of a place. However, if you're continually getting lost, or can't conceptualize how to get somewhere it seems far larger than it should be. We can't have as much of a sense of community because we can't trust that we'll get to where we need to go. I don't see friends because I don't think I can find where they'll be. It's harder than you think to find Bridgie's house in Savin Hill, Dorchester even though I'm at Ashmont in Dorchester and I'll probably end up on 93 by accident. I have ice cream in my backpack as I bicycle along  Kendall Square, trying in vain to make it to a casual get-together, but this square is just too loopy and the Ben and Jerrys has now melted into goop. Davis Square had me walking the shape of a trapezoid for 43 minutes one New  Years Eve and missing that ball drop. I didn't care, but it was just the principle of the thing. The confusingness of our roads, and the lack of labeling causes so many missed moments and a lack of confidence in engaging with our communities.

Davis is not a square for for the tame of heart...

Obviously I don't think we should have another massive construction project to make our roads logical. As smooth as the Big Dig was, we might want to take a break from rebuilding a quarter of our city inefficiently. What can we do then? Well I think back to a book called "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. Now, I can assure you that I didn't like this book but basically it espoused that often there are very easy steps that cause a massive amount of change for how simple and easy they are. What a delight! The author gave some reasonable examples, but I think in Boston, we could find a tipping point in our city by drastically improving the signs, labelling, maps and aides that would help us know how to get from point A to point B.

At the very least, spending a concerted effort labeling our roads consistently and clearly would help. Whomever doesn't take part in this endeavor and should maybe could be punched in the face. But maybe thinking about the types of signs necesarry to navigate our stupid streets would be good. More visuals. Way more labeling of the building numbers would just be very easy and doable. There could be significantly more landmark signs... good ones. More street maps could be everywhere, not just at T stations but bus stops, restaurants and everywhere. Store owners should be fined if they're unable to provide citizens with directions (ok that's stupid).

If you want to get fancy which you don't have to, you could even have computer kiosks at major intersections and streets. That might be neat. People could operate a little kiosk loaded with google maps and on those days when I'm rushing to an educational program that I don't even know exists I might be able to actually get a sense of where it is. Pretty soon we'll have wonderful robot drones navigating the american landscape with us. As these robots take the time to photograph us and infringe on our civil liberties, maybe they could at least be programmed to help give us directions! What possibilities!

Could help me navigate Somerville before it destroyed everything we've accomplished as a civilization

So I don't know how to deal with this. I'm not Cecil-the-city-planner over here or something. Nor can I be certain that other people feel as strongly about this as I do as they're probably more reasonable than I am and know which direction North is when they see a map. However, just maybe, this might be a tipping point that could improves our commerce and sociability with one another. This could maybe be a cheap fix that could actually improve the livability of a our city and make us less like the miserable abominations we've been acting like all these years.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Exemplars of Inspiration

Every morning one can awake. We can look upon the world with eyes that we have. But then we hear something about Rick Santorum and a state of some sort. Then we hear something about Rush Limbaugh calling someone a whore and getting in real big trouble. We go throughout the day being around people but not actually daring to utter a single phoneme to them as that would be socially unacceptable. It might be warm, which is nice, but then we're reminded of "climate change" and we know that the 60 degree days aren't supposed to occur in a New England winter and that we're all gonna die. Then perhaps one gets a hang nail. It hurts. We try to find nail clippers, but they're pretty impossible to find. Our room's are too messy. Our cars are too messy. Society is too messy. 

Things can seem bleak friends. Bleak indeed. Below are some videos and examples of media that in some convoluted way  can give us hope if we choose to allow them to. 

"The most important film of our time is Norwegian"
If the country of Norway can manage their troll problem, can't we manage our lives and communities as well? Surely this masterpiece will do nothing short of delivering a good jolt of hope to our beleaguered and weary spirits. Is this movie really serious? I hope so... I hope so indeed. 

"Look for the hope, its there, it just blends in!"
Where is the hope? We must do the hard looking...
Is there hope in the world? I'm not sure? Its hard to see... But wait!! There it is!! Oh look, now its over there! Sometimes we cant see what's in front of us because it's just hard to see. Like this damn deer I took a picture of, hope can camouflage with its surroundings. When things seem wretched, maybe just spend some time looking more closelier and hope will reveal.

What can a stupid frog teach us about hope? Maybe everything. Amphibians are fucking dumb as fucking shit we say to ourselves as we gently fall to sleep at night. Perhaps they are indeed. But maybe, just maybe, they aren't always as stupid as fuck. If this doofy fat fucking frog is able to build a canal releasing his developing brood of tadpoles into the stupid life-saving waters, maybe  we can confront out inner-fucking demons as a society. Maybe we too can build a shitty canal... A canal of hope and dreams or some shit...

We Must Hope to not Sink to These Depths
How many times have we seen this montage of Nic Cage clips? Many I bet. but perhaps we can keep looking again. One can be reminded that even when things seem bleak, they aren't as bleak as the essences that Old Man Cage offers us in his various performances. By no means has our existence (well hopefully not) gotten this bad and thus we can still hope and hope to dream! We still have further we can fall but why would we want to? Does it look like Nic Cage is having a good time in these movies? Perhaps we can be reminded that we must hope! We must hope so we don't end up captured  by an isle of pagan women that will sacrifice us for their crop of honey! 

This Fool is Actually Hopeful
Though I am by no means convinced   here (Peter Diamandis) is someone who is actually "optimistic" about the future. Now, I don't like being a negative nancy, but this guy is a bit too much of a positive-polly-four-fingers for my taste. However, here we can listen to his thoughts that he delivers somewhat longwindedly and inefficiently. Towards the end of his time, he even counters his own argument but actually seems to forget that he countered it and doesn't answer his own question! See what you think for yourself, hopefully and maybe if more of us chose to be a little bit more hopeful, hope would ensue. 

The Sexiest Hope of All
I might live under a cave but I still have been able to see this video from LMFAO - (LMAO). You know, I know and they know that the video below is really exploring the themes of community and self acceptance. Drawing influences from Boy Bands, R&B groups, West Side Story, Buddhism and the Clinton administration, it makes our hearts soar like a hot-air balloon shedding extra weight. What hope I say!!!

Packaged inspiration from Our Youth's
One can view the clip below and ask, "were there actually 40 inspirational speeches?". If you're me, you'll then try to count to make sure that Mathew Belinkie didn't falsify his claim. If you're also like me, you'll lose track somewhere before the number eight as that's when things get tricky. However, what hope it would bring us if we listened to these two minutes today and everyday? What would our time on this Earth be like? It would be like hope is what it would maybe be like...

Alright, this article, does much better job of doing what I intended to do with this atrocious blog entry. So rather than sully it by stealing it's images, I will just encourage the zero people that read this to piece of crap to go to this other entry that probably went "viral" or something.