Events

Oct. 15th, 2011 11:38 am
volterator: (Default)
So that was a week that passed very fast for me. Zoomed by in a subjective blink of an eye. i had some training from a company which provides sound masking for office environments and became quietly fascinated with what they do, and intrigued that I've been employing certain of their tactics to alter my own acoustic environment anyway. I wasn't entirely ignorant of the things they do and neither should you be if you've ever been to a cinema. They put those fabric covered boards on the walls for a reason after all. I even have a company in mind whose account I look after who are receiving a lot of complaints about excessive background noise on their outgoing who I can pitch it to. I like tinkering with sound and I like making money off it even more, so that's going to be alright.

One of my co-workers spent three days chasing hotel rooms for the Christmas party, and I think has succeeded, so there's a meal and boozing in Manchester on December 3rd. She said, despairing of the booked up hotels and constant disappointments, that it was doing her head in and how was she going to arrange her wedding if she couldn't even organise a Christmas do. This received a chorus of histrionic, frazzled women impressions back from the staff. Honestly if I worked for a big company or in a real country they'd all be in court.

I've automated comics now - I get a steady stream of them in the post throughout the month, which means I don't have to put up with 60 minute commutes and inevitable disappointment when searching for them. I need to broaden out and search for some credible ones so that I can continue pretending that the medium is actually employed by anyone who writes decent fiction at the moment.

New Discworld book, Snuff , only 70 pages in - the prose is different now that they're dictated. I've found his last four novels to be sometimes ruder, angrier and funnier than most, but also longer. For example I feel that I Shall Wear Midnight is uncontroversially excellent, and is shot through with fury and injustice and relates the cruelty of the countryside and discovery of adult responsibility very well. As much as Pratchett makes a living off stock characters and parody, and to some extent writes the same tough, capable woman over and over, I believe in their strength and the accuracy of the observations they come out of. He has been a skilled popular writer, and on occasion better than that. I don't believe he's finished yet.
volterator: (reign of chemistry)
Thing about me is, if I can be said to be able to take the measure of myself, my limitations are caused by three classes of thing in particular. 1) I'm a slow thinker and I have a very poor memory. These are not characteristics generally associated with high general intelligence. 2)Additionally I can't remember most of the things I've said and find inappropriate things funny. These are not characteristics generally associated with high emotional intelligence. 3) I feel very uncomfortable with myself physically, in a way which is quite abhorrent and irritating in a basically attractive young person; nobody likes being around a wallflower because they're clammy, needy little cunts. Having a cosmetic chest wall deformity and no athletic ability and an obnoxious older brother has done that to me, and I struggle. And yet what? I feel that even that I'm doing this well and am this well liked is a clear indication of my broad spectrum awesomeness. Afraid of success, constantly impacting failure and a stranger to inspiration, pulled on by a tremulous thread of drama. it's very interesting that a life lived this mundanely is so interesting to me.

It's possible that it's all going to roll over and suddenly I'll want everything from life that I can get. Whether that will take the form of uncompromising self-centred focus on pursuing distraction and eccentricity or whether it'll be the tawdry status symbols of middle-class life I'm not sure. It'll be working within my limitations, which as I've gotten older I've begun to see more clearly. Some of them are permeable, and I'm learning which ones I can push and what I need to push at them. Financial independence and physical space to live in are not just idle, Thatcher-sponsored dreams and empty chases, they're emotionally necessary. To change the subject slightly, I'm also coming to embrace that, either way my life goes, whether towards Bohemian irrelevance or a semi-detached obscurity it'll be resolutely, inescapably born out of being British. The identity of this place, it's jackdaw culture, defines me. Northern: I hate bullshit, value vocational education, am uneasy with property, contemptuous of effeminacy and embarrassed by softness. Multicultural, inclusive, yet completely segregated - everyone I know here is completely white. Born in the 80s, i think about my feelings, strive towards status, chafe at class division even while stepping over it, live in my own head, in computers, in American ways of being, drink in the broth-thin nourishment of a post-modern, comprehensive schooled post-secondary education. I feel history behind me, and the ghost of Empire, even as every decade I've lived through has tried to chew it away and leave us ahistoric and out for ourselves in a society there's no such thing as, in a broader world where money lives like Alexander the Great, trampling borders and absorbing nations. This place made me, and if you're anyone reading this it made you too.
volterator: (Default)
For me the world is at best clever, and frequently dumb. Just thinking about what I respond to. The world touches my emotional side as lightly as a cobweb but might screw a delighted grin out of me for its novelty. Plenty I see or experience elicits in me sharp feeling, nothing has a lasting counterpart in memory or in the bones of feeling. I find songs, books, films, the arrangement of words to provoke revelation gravid only with echoes. My feelings last seconds, my memories minutes and meaning freights no hardship.

Something in us responds and consistently. It's rarely any deeper than a touch with me. I don't remember words and I can't say how words on a page make me feel because they don't. This is faked up as analysis is required (I have no ability for performance whatever because I can't feel the words I read). This is scarcely any different when listening to music except where genuine and rare genius is in evidence. With drama it's easier; naturalistic acting is like a direct feed into the systems of human interaction. That said I can get completely into a scene while it's playing and have forgotten it by the next one. I make a claim for that consistent response - I know when I have liked a thing and hold on to it in the ledger, but the experience itself has to be renewed each time.

I guess what this means is while everything I've told you about the things I've enjoyed is true, most assumptions you might make about what I carry around in my head are probably wrong. Words and feelings don't mean much to me, if I respond it's at the level of pure reaction, and it is without much temporal component. I am the person who likes a thing while it's happening, and have almost nothing to relate when it's done. Describing anything is like a half-remembered dream and efforts to sew a continuity are an ongoing performance. I'm not very good at it.

I could suggest that there might be a reason why I have no creative urge - this constant push to consume media in order to fill my life with relationships to other people is the most complete and continual creative act I can manage.
volterator: (Default)
I've been in work now for almost a whole sidereal month, which has passed with a pace shocking and effortless. I am the Marathon Man of starting a new job and have now pushed through the wall so that it feels like the most natural thing. There's even been dental torture, as years of grinding my misaligned jaw has long since worn the enamel off one of my molars and this has not been happy.

If I wasn't on the emergency tax code I'd feel pretty good about the prospect of getting paid next week. As it stands I'm sure I'll fly into a libertarian outrage and smash the state.

Owing to the discovery that the line up of the Sonisphere festival at Knebworth in July is the greatest thing that has ever happened in the entire cultural history of Great Britain, I will be attending for the full three days. The sheer unlikelihood of seeing Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, Mastodon and bizarrely and stunningly also the Mars Volta on a single line up is just amazing. Add to that bands I dislike but that stupider pricks than me love like Biffy Clyro, Weezer, Slipknot and the stercoraceous Limp Bizkit and it is one of the most obviously well put together festivals going. Fuck Glasto and fuck Reading by comparison, who may have good bands a plenty, but don't have the capacity to surprise.

Also, holy Crow, Etymotic HF3s are pretty great. Thank you Edinburgh Apple reseller for that steep discount.

In the first twenty minutes of stabbing at my iTunes library I learned that they are great for:

Destroy the Orcs - 3 Inches of Blood
Mirah - Cold Cold Water
The Cure - Lullaby (acoustic version)



Neither the Grados nor the Audio-Technicas I've gotten to know made as good of a first impression, and those are full-sized headphones. Everything about them is good: fast response, deep, detailed, impressive separation, transparent. Now we're talking. Amusingly, they're advertised as being 85% accurate; Etymotic are nothing if not scientific. That 15% extra is going to cost you, mate.
volterator: (THRILLHO)
There is not a surfeit of work in Manchester. Part of the problem is this sort of shit.



Look at the state of this boy, Brett Hayes, the cunning little devil. He's a dab hand at self promotion - look at the video he has on his Facebook wall, described thus:

"Mike Rowe the host of "Dirty Jobs," tells some compelling (and horrifying) real-life job stories. Listen for his insights and observations about the nature of hard work, and how its been unjustifiably degraded in society today"

That he espouses his unethical shitweasel creed even through Facebook says so much about him.

Let me tell you all about him.

I applied for a couple of those marketing companies in Manchester and got a call back from one of them when I was on the bus coming back from JHP earlier. She asked if I was free to talk, and I said I wasn't and that she could call back in an hour, which she agreed to do. The caller I.D. flashed up 'Anonymous'. I spent that time researching the company, Bradford Marketing, and was delighted by what I found out.
There are pages and pages out there, not least on Scam.com, about their unethical recruitment procedure and pyramid scheme-style business model.

It transpires that it can all be traced to one bloke, the aforementioned Brett Heyes. He's given himself the job title of managing director of Heyes Client Services, but he advertises under about two dozen company names, including Bradford Marketing, and all secret subsidiaries.

Their reputation precedes them, I discovered. They love recruiting from the long term unemployed, and they'll call you in for a first stage of an interview. No matter how you press them they won't tell you the specifics of the role over the phone. What they want to do is get you into the room so that they can put the spiel to you. Their reputation has it that they try to, and succeed in, indoctrinating a susceptible few, drawn from the desperate about money and a subset of Puritanicals that exists in the population who will buy into their message, which is that you don't get anything in life without backbreaking work and shouldn't expect anything at all without it.

The way it works, the stories say, is that they're a company that acts as a liaison to their clients, who are charities and ISPs and the like, using a business model which outsources to sales people who they keep self-employed and paid no wages, all earnings being commission based (OTE).

This is a fairly unremarkable thumbnail of how sales firms work I find. What has piqued my interest is this company's reputation for evasiveness at the recruitment stage. I had read into all this and was forewarned when the call back came from their secretary or HR dogsbody (or whatever she was), so I asked a number of questions I'd heard other people had asked and received exactly the answers they had reported. I asked her if she could tell me more about the position, she said that they were offering stage one interviews tomorrow and that it would be explained there. I asked again what sort of work it was, she said customer service and marketing, like the ad had said. I asked about context, and what environment I'd be working in, which she deflected by saying that it would be explained face-to-face. Asking who their clients were met with similar evasion, so I decided to answer my questions for her. Explaining, in bullet points what I'm setting out here and explaining that no, in fact I would not be coming to the interview tomorrow, because their reputation was well known, they're a subsidiary of Heyes advertising under a false name, and that they were well known for asking for extremely uncivil hours for no pay or benefits, and that I had no desire to work for them at all.

The reason they recruit this way it is because they can intake a huge number of people that way, and expect a very rapid turnover, and because they're not on the books or salaried they can put them to work earning for the company at no cost to themselves. This would mean that the the ones that are natural salesmen will earn for the company and succeed, the ones that aren't will fail and ragequit. At the end of this process it has cost them next to nothing, in real terms, to trial the employees
it's a genius way to have a massive turnover and intake at the lowest possible cost, the people who survive are the best earners and are elevated in the company. It's a social Darwinist grist mill approach to recruitment, and for the right people it's suggested that the career and earnings advancement is fast. It's classic pyramid scheme style business. The lion's share of the commission paid to the company goes up the management structure. I have read that for every 50 quid their clients pay out, the salesperson gets 20 and 30 goes to the company, making it a very economical proposition indeed for Heyes Client Services.

The work, it's said, which they will not tell you about over the phone is exclusively selling door-to-door in rough parts of Manchester and is designed to pressure people into inviting the salesman in. They won't tell you over the phone because they're a pyramid scheme in office workers drag, and want to use their best salesmen to put the spiel on you in person. They're one of those companies; their salespeople are encouraged to knock on people's doors and pressure people into signing up for direct debits donating to charities and buying TV packages and whatnot depending on the client at that time, but there's some suggestion that they specifically prey on the elderly. In the best traditions of sales jobs.

Let me break down what is expected of a salesman with them in a week: they emphasise that the motivated seller should be working 11 hours a day, and 8 or 9 of these actively selling, with the rest taken up with travel times and breaks. Their procedure has it be compulsory to return to the office at the end of the day to sign off. Many people report that motivated sellers are expected to work 6 days a week, but this may be expected of all their salespeople. The company does not provide a salary, nor do they provide benefits or allowances for travel and food, and there is no sick pay. Their incentives are based on high commission and the prospect of rapid advancement in a graduated management scheme, and the prospective employee can be expected to be sold on this strenuously in the first round of the interview. The second round of the interview is a trial day, unpaid and with no opportunity for personal selling in which they will be sent out with one of the faithful and (all parties agreed on this detail) able to bear witness to the dew-eyed, pie-in-the-sky drivel they believe will see them personally a millionaire in a matter of a few years.

I am if you haven't guessed, if this long blog entry doesn't suggest, absolutely fascinated to meet this Brett Hayes, and even more so now I've read his facebook page.
Such a shame I told his HR person from the spurious Bradford Marketing to get stuffed.

And yet, not one hour after I put down the phone I got a call from Outsource Ten and offered an interview with them as well. I asked who the interview would be with - their managing director, I was told. I had to press the guy twice but I got a name: it was Brett.

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow?

Oh and he's this kind of guy too.
volterator: (indivisible)
Before I went shoegazing today I watched a lonely horse running around in circles out of the back window. I accordingly went out and fed it a carrot. If you've never tried it I heartily recommend it. It's really strange, it gets sucked in whole and then you stand next to the enormous face while a chorus of grinding, crunching noises emanates from it. Like listening to a car compactor.

This horse, to be exact.



Also pictured, another horse and three Shetland ponies that had turned up so that it wasn't a lonely horse anymore.
volterator: (Terminal)
Well, this window has been open for four hours and i haven't written anything in it yet. I have a whole day of being pissed off to relate but unless i start now it will never get done. So here we go.

I wait for a bus every Wednesday morning and every Wednesday morning it is late. I am always late for the station and late for my lecture. Recently i had an breakthrough in how i see cars, they morphed before my eyes. Not as cellular, polluting, expensive, regressive and inefficient. Just absurd. They are clearly absurd. The world has been brutalised and made unergonomic to accomodate them. The world was remade to accomodate people, and then remade again to make people second-class. The world is only turned over to them now where the cars can't go. Incredibly useful though they are: they swim in shoals like retarded sharks, a danger to anything smaller than them, clumsily trying to avoid one another. The transport equivalent of hyper-obesity. Look through the windscreen of an oncoming car it's like one small figure rolling down the street in the folds of a massive tumour, a foul agglomerate of waste flesh, useless space. Increasingly, drivers look ridiculous to me in the act of driving. Concentrating real hard to rein in the bulging excess of their tumorous appendages. I guess you're not supposed to notice these things.

I don't like buses either. It's not because i object to sharing my ride with strangers. That's far from the case. Buses are difficult to like. They're a public space, and public spaces have no value in this country. People smoke on them, spit in them, swear and argue and carve things into them. They're lurid, dusty, unkempt and grim. This is because they are, not because they must be. People see them as worthless. Make do. Inconvenienced as they are by not having a car of their own. This culture considers anything communal to be hostile. A punishment space.

And another thing that pisses me off (was that ever a smooth sequeway) is people who pass off opinion as fact. I was waiting for the train and there was a man of thirty sat on the bench back-to-back with mine. It's probably significant that he was talking to a woman.

"I've been trying to get my handicap down to six. I've played over there, yeah? The courses are a lot more consistent so it's easier over there for them to get handicaps down."

Completely emphatic. This is clearly the masculinity talking. Observe this flip chart: it is a matter of National Pride that any game in which people of other Nations do better must have lower standards and an easier time. It can't be because you're merely an above average golfer and not a skilled one.

"I can't abide public transport. Sometimes me and the lads go out. We've known each other since we were at school but some of them still have this mentality they had when they were eighteen, where they won't pay for a taxi and want to get the bus."

If i have to ennumerate all the things in that statement which clearly ear mark this individual as a cunt then i'm depriving you of the chance to perform a rewarding exercise. I strongly considered turning around and saying, "Excuse me sir. You are in your demeanour and opinions the very antithesis of me. I consider this so remarkable that i wonder if i could interview you?"

Bored now.
volterator: (Smith. Just Smith.)
People can be obtuse. Don't belive me? I tried to buy some things from a newsagent earlier. The woman serving me interspered our transaction with a conversation she was having with the co-worker who was running the lotto machine. "That's one-thir-- Yeah that's what i said -- that's one-thir-- i know it's appalling..." I hedged my bets and gave her £1-40, to my surprise and enlightenment recieved three pence change.

Half Life 2 tomorrow.
volterator: (Smith. Just Smith.)
Today i had to put my hand on an actual bible and swear that i was not a stinking liar before a Jewish solicitor. Good thing i know the word "afidavit" (if not necessarily how to spell it) or i might've been in trouble.

My mate Craig has a swollen chest, his girlfriend dotes over him. Or so tis said.

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