This is not a job, it’s a religion!

Clappy

Beware a Job where they keep clapping for nothing.

It is quite simply the most horrific thing I have read in years.   A true horror story.
The scene begins in the Apple Corporation……

Johnson and Jobs wanted ambassadors whose ostensible role was not to sell products – uniquely, Apple store employees receive no commission – but to create positive customer sentiment and repair trust in the brand when it broke.

In 1984, a group of professors at Harvard Business School published a book, Managing Human Assets, aimed at updating workplace organization for a new era.

Previously, the book argued, labor discipline could be achieved in a relatively straightforward top-down manner, but now it required something else. “The limitations of hierarchy have forced a search for other mechanisms of social control,” the authors said. The mechanisms they proposed consisted, at root, of treating employees as nominal stakeholders in business success, but within narrow limits that would increase rather than challenge shareholder profitability.

How do you create an engaged, happy, knowledgeable workforce that can pass, however implausibly, as an entire battalion of geniuses in towns across the country? More importantly, how do you do all of that without the stick of the authoritarian boss or the carrot of a juicy commission?

Apple’s solution was to foster a sense of commitment to a higher calling while flattering employees that they were the chosen few to represent it. By raising the bar of admission, crafting a long series of interviews to weed out the mercenary or misanthropic, Johnson soon attracted more applicants than there were posts. Those keen enough to go through the onerous hiring process were almost by definition a better “fit” for the devotional ethos of the brand, far more receptive to the fiction that they weren’t selling things but, in an oft-repeated phrase, “enriching people’s lives”, as if they’d landed a job at a charity.

“When people are hired,” Johnson explained, “they feel honored to be on the team, and the team respects them from day one because they’ve made it through the gauntlet. That’s very different from trying to find somebody at the lowest cost who’s available on Saturdays from 8 to 12.”

While not the lowest, the cost of these eager staff was still low – relative to industry averages, to the amount they made for the company, and to the $400m that Johnson earned in his seven years at Apple.

Lower wages also had another, less obvious effect. As Apple store managers explained to the New York Times, the lack of commissions meant that the job didn’t pay well enough to support those with dependents: older workers were functionally excluded from representing the brand without the need for a formal policy – or the attendant specter of discrimination lawsuits that it would raise.

Products are clapped, customers waiting overnight to buy them are clapped, their purchases are clapped, claps are clapped. Clap, clap, clap. “My hands would sting from all the clapping,” said one manager. Claps, cheers, performances of rapturous engagement provided, by design, a ready-mixed social glue to bind teams together, reaffirming both the character of the brand and employees’ cultish devotion to it.

Full Article

Superbowl 1984

Mac

On this day in 1984 they held an annual football game in the USA called Superbowl XVIII.  Barry Manilow sang the national anthem.  Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins by 38 points to 9.  The next day nobody was talking about the game.  Nobody was talking about Barry Manilow.  Nobody was talking about the half time show, a salute to the superstars of the silver screen.

Everyone was talking about an ad that played during the game.  An ad that ran on that day only and never again.  An ad that became the stuff of legend.

Chiat/Day ad agency commissioned Ridley Scott to direct the slot.  He took inspiration from George Orwell’s novel 1984.  He depicted a controlled society in the future, similar to the dystopian vision of Orwell’s book.  Then a blonde girl in a white shirt and orange shorts throws a hammer through a very large screen.  We are then told that Apple is about to change the world.  And to be fair they did.  They launched the Apple Mackintosh, the first mouse driven GUI computer, the things we all use now.

Apple 1984 Superbowl Ad

Some said the “Big Brother” in the ad represented IBM.  Others suggested it represented Bill Gates.  Everyone wanted to know what exactly Apple was about to launch.  The ad was made before a working prototype was available so the product does not feature in the ad.  The important thing is that the ad, like all good ads followed the mousetrap analogy.  If you want the trap to work you have to leave room for the mouse.  A good ad has a certain amount of the unknown about it, the observer has to walk into the ad and try to figure out what is going on.

In this case the analogy is doubly profound because it launched a computer with a mouse.

Still considered the greatest every Superbowl ad the Apple Mac launch 1984 ad generated millions of dollars in publicity and was aired for free thousands of times in news and reviews shows.  It then went on to win multiple awards at the Cannes Lions, generating further publicity for Apple.

It took me 4 years post launch before I got my hands on an Apple Mac.  It was still fresh and new then.

Fishtrap

LobsterPot

Easy to get in, very hard to get out.  That is the principle of the fish trap.  The photo above shows how this is done in a traditional lobster pot.  The fish can swim in from the top down into the heart of the trap to eat the bait.  Once the bait is eaten the fish swims around the perimeter looking for a way out.  But that is the trick, the exit is in the middle, not at the edge.

What has this to do with anything?  The fishtrap sums up every software company ever.  They make it easy to get in and very very difficult to get out.

An example is mobile phones.  Anyone who has ever tried to move from one technology to another will understand the pain.  When you join a mobile phone company they do everything they can to make it easy for you to import your data to their system.  All your phone contacts, all your social media and as many files as they can get from you.  They provide you with plenty of space at setup to store your photos and documents.

It is a different story when you try to leave.  If you move from Apple ios to Windows, or from Windows to Android, or from Android to Chrome etc you will find every barrier thrown in your path to prevent a seamless move.  Like the Hotel California “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.  Or as Maurice Sendak said “Oh please don’t go, we’ll eat you up we love you so!” (Where the Wild Things Are).

When you decide to invest in a technology for the next 18 months to 2 years it is a wise researcher who looks at the exit costs.

To this day I have a list of mothballed contacts locked up in Apple cloud storage that has been there since I last owned an iPhone – I think that was 2014.  I have a stack of photos that I hope I can retrieve at some later date.

I would like to sign up with a technology company that did not treat me like a plump fish to be landed on their plate.  I am not a net profit, a cash flow, an income line or a revenue stream.  I don’t love their marketing lure or their sales hook.  I want a fair exchange.  I’ll swim with you a while, but when it’s time for me to leave I don’t want to have to escape your grasping claws.  Let me go gently and I just may return one day.

 

The Fish: by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
– the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly-
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
– It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
– if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels- until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Earworm

I always wondered why earwigs got such a bad rap.  As kids we were convinced they would climb into your ear and drive you insane.  This myth was reinforced by the habit of the earwig to insinuate itself into cramped dark spaces.

Also as kids we were convinced that earwigs were responsible for ruining our apples.  How many times I have pulled an apple from a tree to find earwigs occupying the core, yeuch.  It turns out that the earwigs were relatively innocent of the crime.  It is the larva of the codling moth worm that does the damage to the apple.  Where the larva exits the earwig enters, and is caught red handed at the scene of the crime.

It turns out that earwigs get their unfortunate name from the practice of using ground up beetles as a form of ear medicine in ancient times.  They never actually invade our ears unless we stick them in there.

The German name for an earwig is Ohrwurm, which translates roughly as Ear Worm.  From this we get the term for a song or tune that sticks in your mind and can almost drive you crazy, as we once thought the earwig would do.

I have an earworm today, but it is not a song.  It is a poem.

 

Do not go gentle into that good night: by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Home Made

wpid-dsc_0189.jpg

This jar contains some Chutney I made yesterday.  It is probably the most home made thing I have ever made.  It is a subtle blend of Ireland, Morocco and India, which would place it physically somewhere around Turkey.  Here is the recipe.

1. Plant Onions and Tomatoes in the Spring.

2.  Buy some organic un-waxed lemons some time around July.  Pickle the lemons in Salt and lemon juice with a selection of spices such as mustard seed, whole black pepper, coriander, cumin and whole red chiles.  There are lots of recipes for “Moroccan preserved lemon” on the internet.  I got mine from Casa Moro:  The second cookbook.  http://www.amazon.com/Casa-Moro-The-Second-Cookbook/dp/0091894492

3.  Harvest plums and apples from your garden.

4.  Buy 1 red chili, some white balsamic vinegar and some sugar.  ( we just don’t have the climate in Ireland to grow grapes for vinegar, cane for sugar, chilies and lemons).

5.  In a pot mix a good glug of the vinegar with sugar.  Fiddle with the proportions to your taste.  Some people like more vinegary pickle, I like it sweeter.

Chop up lots of bruised windfall cooking apples, discard the brown bits and use only firm fresh white apple.  Mix the apple well into the vinegar and sugar to stop it browning.

Add sliced onions from your garden, ditto sliced tomato – green is fine.  Add chopped plum, finely sliced fresh red chile.

Remove a lemon from your pickle jar, scrape off the flesh with a spoon, discard, and wash the skin well in fresh water.  Slice the skin finely and add to the chutney.

Add a good spoon of well ground Panchphoran. (this is an Indian 5 spice mix of onion seed, cumin, mustard seed, fenugreek and fennel which brings out vegetable flavours very well)

6.  Boil the chutney until the apple is pureé and then stick it in a sterilised jar.  (OK I didn’t make the jar either – but I reused an old one, so that is environmentally friendly)

The red chili gives this chutney a kick.  If you prefer mild chutney you can leave it out.

It got the ultimate vote of confidence from my 18 year old son who said, and I quote verbatim “well, it’s not completely disgusting“.  Children have such confidence in their parents culinary arts.

On a historical note, Chutney achieved fame because of the British Navy.  In the search for prophylactics against scurvy the British Navy experimented with various foodstuffs, many of them pickles such as sauerkraut (used by Captain Cook on his voyages to good effect).  Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries various foods and drinks were experimented with, including lime chutney and lime cordial.  In reality neither was effective in treatment of scurvy and it is the availability of fresh food that cures scurvy.  However, chutney gained in popularity among the British in the Caribbean,  in India and ultimately at home in England.  In the Victorian era fortunes were made in the production of sauces which owe their origin to chutney, such as Ketchup and Brown Sauce.

Full of Beans

2014-05-21 14.41.15

2014-05-21 14.41.36

Did a lot of gardening and DIY this week.  Tidied up the downstairs toilet by boxing in all the pipework, cleaned out the lower gutters, staked the tomatoes, planted beans and staked them too.  I have a good bit going on in the garden now.  Peas, Beans, Carrots, Beetroot, Onions, Garlic, new Thyme plants, Strawberries, Raspberries.  The Plum tree is looking good, a lot of fruit buds.  But the apple trees are a big disappointment.  I think I have two blossoms from five trees.  Next year!  Hopefully they will come back next year.

Lots of Elderberry blossoms on the way.  I think I may have a go at making elderberry wine if there are enough.  If not, maybe some elderberry cordial.  I believe you can make a champagne from elder blossom.  Must try that sometime.

There are two young rabbits wandering round the garden.  They are living in the field next door, and have not found the vegetable patch yet.  If they do, their lives may be in danger.

Should have the last of the Leland Cypresses cleared out of the garden this week.  Next door lost most of his in the big storm in April.  I had already been culling mine out of the garden for the last two years, so little to clear.  But the last and biggest decided to go out with a bang and landed on the roof of the stable next door.  Luckily the Insurance company is covering that one.  I am so glad to see them go.  They were killing the orchard and garden here, letting no sun through.  They are trees that do not belong in Ireland and should need a licence to be planted.  They grow about 3 foot per year in this climate.  In the 1970’s they were touted as a great solution for instant screening and wind shade.  Tip for you gardeners – if it grows fast, it grows out of control fast.  Buy slow growing plants and be patient.

Now that the beans are planted I could have gone for “the musical fruit” as a poem, but it’s a bit obvious.  And this one is better…

The Bean Eaters; by Gwendolyn Brooks

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

Pruning

Today was a day for pruning. The apple trees in our garden have been left to go to ruin.  I doubt they have been pruned in decades, and they are a mess of interweaving old wood draining energy away from fruit production.  This is  compounded by the overgrown Leland Cypress trees that overshadow the entire orchard, blocking the sun from the fruit trees.  So they are coming down one by one.

Pruning apple trees that are so neglected is a task for a chain saw.  The results are nothing short of drastic.  But you have to be brave if you ever want fruit.  Cut deep and hard!

It is a bit like restructuring a business.  If you faff around at the edges trying to protect jobs in the short term you risk the longer term viability of the business.  When you need to cut, cut hard, cut deep, cut fast.  Then you are in a position to grow again.  There is nothing more positive in business than growth.  It gets everyone motivated and energised.  Of course this is assuming you are not one of the ones who was cut 🙂

Mirror in February; by Thomas Kinsella

The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,
Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
Under the fading lamp, half dressed — my brain
Idling on some compulsive fantasy —
I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth.

It seems again that it is time to learn,
In this untiring, crumbling place of growth
To which, for the time being, I return.
Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth
And little more; for they are not made whole
That reach the age of Christ.

Below my window the wakening trees,
Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
Suffering their brute necessities;
And how should the flesh not quail, that span for span
Is mutilated more? In slow distaste
I fold my towel with what grace I can,
Not young, and not renewable, but man.