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Mar. 20th, 2013

Doc Orpheus

Being a boss and the electronic age

Okay, I am a social worker and I accept that older social workers are E-deficient.
I no longer have any of these folks in my employ. Why is it that social workers are graduating from A list universites with masters degrees and no understanding of email. No understanding of excel. And they can''t string a sentence together in writing. These are young people. Not oldsters like me.

Mar. 2nd, 2013

Doc Orpheus

Guncontrol hysteria and not engaging in it.

First off this is not an entirely serious discourse. Let us not go there unnecessary.

I work in a public institution. It is open 365/24/7. We serve the homeless and give them shelter. First off it is very difficult to keep all the staff in such an operation informed as to what is going on in all shifts. The best mechanism we have discovered so far is the 'shift note'. It is a formal structured email sent out to all people who work there detailing things that went on in your shift. Only client initials are used because of privacy concerns. The initials are oft-times a barrier to reading the shift notes, but ...hey, what can you do?

So I received a shift note that said: "Automatic weapons magazine found in resource room. Client AA (not real initial) was not approached so as not to antagonize (her or him)."

The next morning several people in management blew a gasket. The midnight shifter who wrote this was off duty and complete explanations were difficult. Lots of energy was dumped in and discussion ensued. We have never had gun violence occur and so this was extremely concerning. Lots of ethics issues, lots of procedural discussions, etc. Just imagine. Still as usual, one clear headed person, (not at the top) had all the correct story. I am so pleased with the people I work with that this was easily sorted.

It turned out that it was magazine as in 'reading matter', not magazine as in 'bullet holding mechanism.' Obviously a completely differnt issue. I am very pleased to say that our management did not go off doing anything without complete info. To me it shows an ingrained respect of person in counterpoint to giving into fear and foolishness. I continue to have pride in where I work and those I work with.

So grammar is important. Especially in email and the internet. I do love my job.

Oct. 29th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

Mysteriously there are cupcakes

Some nice (very anonymous) person donated cupcakes from the cupcake station to the Shelter. It was appreciated.

Oct. 15th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

Existence by David Brin

I recommend this book.
David Brin generally delights and surprises me. I don't normally recommend books to people as my tastes tend to run darker and grittier than most, plus I tend to dislike most sf/fantasy that I read. I read it anyway as I love the genre. So why this one book? Because I had no idea where his plot was going. David Brin is known for his 'First Contact' type stories and that is not a spoiler as the very first chapter and the dust jacket reveal this. The plot just kept going in stranger and more unexpected directions. Generally I know what will happen in a book by the end of the first couple of chapters. Writers who create good characters and have good dialogue will keep me along for the ride even if it is predictable where we are going. In this case the well thought out plot raced along and kept turning new ways.

Give it a try. 

Aug. 8th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

Interesting facts


Jul. 18th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

Art Fair

I now work downtown. Grrrrr.

Jun. 2nd, 2012

Doc Orpheus

New Job

I start Thursday and end my old job at Community Mental Health on Wednesday. There has been endless reorgs at my old job for the last 3-4 years and the joy has been drained from it.

My new job is Director of Programs and Operations at the Shelter. It is a real big step up for me with a lot more responsibility. I am very excited really. Essentially I run all the day to day stuff at the shelter, though with a heavy emphasiss on the clinical. It is a huge step up professionally and assuming I cut the mustard a long term gig. I think I can do a lot of good. Not that good isn't being done there already, I just think I can contribute.

Feb. 26th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

Why am I not Game-mastering?

A few reasons.

Top of the list is my job. It used to be something I loved. It gave me strength, ideas, and outlook. Last few years with all the reorg, conflict, bad management etc. I have had to knock myself out with slogging uninteresting BS work while my sense of right and wrong would not allow me to drop the conflict with management about the direction we were headed. Things may very well be looking up in this regard as we have a completely new team of directors who are so far looking like caring good people. But still the last say 3 years were very emotionally draining. I honestly don't think I would still be employed if I wasn't a Union person. And not through lack of performance, through lack of political correctness. I still vow as a human being that I will never be politically correct and will always stand by my beliefs. Hard to do when your paycheck depends on it. Still I did not give up even when my back was to the wall. Fundamentally this impacted gaming as I worked during every weekend and evening just to stay on top of it so I wouldn't get written up. (I went from a team of 14 to a team of 4 and my scope of responsibility is far widened.)

The total failure of all the work I put into my Supervillainy system. I went in totally the wrong direction, making rules and limitations rather than being loose and inspiring creativity in the players. I want to continue in this game world. Still I just don't have the time to rewrite all the rules. This game was the most work I ever put into anything game related and it was disheartening. A second part of Supervillainy was just the absolute failure I showed as a GM in my Friday night Supervillainy game. It just went bad despite my best efforts. I never had a game fail before.

The collapse of my age old Palladium game. A lot of player transition was probably the biggest factor and I never found my feet again. Seriously I started this in maybe 1986 and now it is done. Very sad. I keep saying I want to revive it but I just doubt myself.

Only one friend kept inviting me to his games. Still in two separate games it went very badly. I may have killed a very long standing Amber campaign. Then the replacement game I had the good sense to drop out as the exact same crap played out. My internal analysis of this is still pending, the one thing that is certain is that I do not fit with that group. A realistic analysis may be far more challenging to my sense of self. Now I don't play or GM.

Erica is writing a book and a damned good one. I get a lot of happy creative outlet just being a muse and her sounding board. This is nice. Still it reminds me of all the times that I ran great games. Ultimately it boils down to lack of confidence. It is shaken. Not sure where to go next.

Jan. 29th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

An artical on family history and psychiatric disorders


I believe some of my friends here may enjoy it.

Jan. 25th, 2012

Doc Orpheus

Buying a car

I LOVE buying new cars. I once made a salesperson cry from frustration after sealing the deal. I don't feel bad, they are the enemy and want to steal my money. In 2009 I bought a brand new Mazda 6 with 6 speed transmission for greater than $8000 less than sticker price. The trick is to be a gamer. The other trick is to pretend it is a game. The most important trick is to walk away from any deal. I spent about 40 hours on the car research and buying. $200 an hour is well worth my time. If you make more than that you might want to pay sticker price, it is economics after all. I have many other victory dances regarding new car purchases. I paid $7000 less than sticker for a new VW Golf back in 1999.

There are a number of ways to do this.

A rule so foremost it gets no number: Never tell the sales rep anything about yourself. Just refuse. What you do for a living sizes up what you can pay. Don't say whether you have kids. Don't say what you want to pay a month. Blank stares and "Why are you asking personal questions?" is okay. The sales rep is not your friend. They deserve no information. Divining information about you, to size you up, is the first thing they were trained in.

1. Don't buy the latest hot car. If you want a Prius you are rich or dedicated or like to pay full price.
2. Don't care about the color. You will end up with a silver or red car with black interior.
3. Be aware of "destination fees". They are not on the sticker and if you refuse to pay the dealer *will* back down. They are between $500 and $1000 typically.
4. Do not ever discuss 'trade in' until you have settled on a price. Then bargain the trade in and be willing to leave. Research the value of your trade in online and state that if you have to sell it privately first you will do so and you will walk away from their deal. Buying elsewhere later with that saved cash.
5. The internet has really changed negotiations. Every dealer has access to the same pool of cars. Be ready to take the car from their lot. It is the one they need to sell. Typically, it will be red or silver with a black interior. If it's lime green it is okay to just leave. They are idiots for having a lime green car on the lot. Still if you are willing to live lime green and they come down 5 grand it may be okay.
6. Bargain the price of *every* *single* option. This usually results in a $1500 to $2000 savings.
7. Refuse to discuss financing until the price of the car is settled on. My favorite phrase is "My credit is impeccable and I have many options in that regard."
8. When they ask "What do you want to pay a month?" leave a long awkward pause. Then say, "How is that relevant to the price of the car?" When they then do word dances around that question frown and say, "No". Leave a long awkward pause. Love the long awkward pause. Sweat rings in dress shirts are a sign you are doing well.
9. Long awkward pauses are your friend. Enjoy them and just look at the salesperson blankly. Wow, does it make them sweat.
10. Going back to talk to their supervisor is BS. Eat a big lunch. Show up right before their lunch time after verifying the time by phone several days previous. Bring a new novel. Enjoy sitting in their office and saying no to every deal they bring back. If they get really hungry by 3pm and 10 or so people have been chatted up by each of their colleagues (competitors) this is good. Don't move from their chair in their cube, stake it out. If they try to move you and see other customers, make a polite stink and even go so far as to ask to see someone else in the office. Desperation will create persperation. The longer they dedicate to you the more they will need to close the deal. They need to make sales per hour.
11. Research current competitive finance rates. Once the price of the car is settled on discuss financing. Never accept their finance rate % unless it is 0. Get on your cell phone and call your credit union, insurance company whatever. Just pretend to be on the cell phone making calls for 1/2 hour. Come back with 1/2 a % under a competitive rate. They will then come back with a competitive rate and you can accept it "out of convenience".
12. Then they try to sell you extra shit like extended warranties and usually a list of bullcrap. Just say no. NO. NO.

Car salespeople are trained in deception. Enjoy the game. Break their wills on the anvil of your resolve.
Enjoy the extra dollars per month.

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