Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Can Feel the Heat Closing In*

BACK IN APRIL, I REPORTED that several of my coworkers were told that their jobs were moving to the Central City office. Their choice: Follow them or accept a departure package. None chose the former.

With the continued decay of the economy, I anticipated more of this, especially with flat-out layoffs last year at this time. Sadly, I was right: This Monday, during our weekly conference call among the sales, editorial, and production folks under our particular publishing capo, we learned that staff had been cut from that last group, including two managers.

Worse, my immediate boss out in Central City confidentially passed the word along to me yesterday that another whole office got the same follow-your-job-or-leave offer as mine did in April. This would involve our publisher, who runs two other publications in addition to mine; his wife, P, who has starred in these pages in the past as my pub's past managing editor; and at least three or four other folks who work for them. They all have multiple ties to their locales, and if this story is accurate, I'd bet green money they won't choose to move.

This is terribly unfortunate, because the publisher is a gracious and diplomatic man who also works the sales end of things, and who respects the balance that advertising and editorial have to achieve so one isn't influenced by the other. And P is a fanatically hard worker who, despite my bitching during late '07 and early '08 as the old staff left, was always ready to set aside her towering workload to help when folks got swamped.

I'll find out more today or tomorrow. Rumors about cuts closer to home are circulating, too. My cube neighbor believes the HR head is making rounds about the company's offices this week, to climax with cuts in our office this Friday. I'm more curious than worried; maybe concerned is a more accurate term. I survived the first layoff, and although I know I won't get as much of a settlement this time around due to my shorter tenure (if I even get anything), I know it won't be the end of the world . . . just the end of that particular source of free office supplies.

*Thank you, Mister Burroughs.

P.S. My cube neighbor was one day off. Out on Thursday. Full details to follow here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama Blinded ME! With SCIENCE!!

COULD THIS OBAMA CABINET NEWS signify a return of respect for science to the Executive Branch? I speak of the President-elect's selection of Nobel Prize–winning physicist Steven Chu as prospective Secretary of Department of Energy. Not a political goon like Spencer Abraham or Bill Richardson, or a power-industry hack like Hazel O'Leary, but a SCIENTIST! The man has worked with LASERS and ATOMS, people. ATOMMMMMSSS!!!

Seriously, it's refreshing to see a representative of the sciences ascend to such a post. It was a tooth-eroding grind to listen to the contortions of logic that the Bush Administration put forth to avoid admitting that global warming could pose a threat, or that destroying the landscape for a few years' worth of resources would be a good tradeoff. Hard decisions on energy need to be made in the next four years, and Dr. Chu's authority as a Nobel Prize winner ought to count for something when he cajoles a reluctant Congress to fund alternative energy projects . . . especially with crude oil back down to far more reasonable levels. He'll have to keep Congress focused on the long game, not just the temporary comfort of a cheaper gallon of gasoline. With that task and all others, I wish him all the luck in the world.