Friday, April 26, 2013

Techno Fail!

It hasn't been such a horrible week, but it hasn't been such a good week either. It's been the kind of week where you remark at the end of it that you're glad the week is over, but don't feel like you dread the upcoming week.




Isn't that weird, how I've gotten kind of optimistic? I actually look forward to next week a little on the off chance that it might be better than this week.
I'll fuck you up.

Which is either a little bit cynical or extremely Polyanna-ish.

One thing I love in Turkish is that Polyanna means the same thing.

Tech failure has been an ongoing theme. Both of my computers, the home one and the work one, have turned into complete bitches. I mean, they were already crotchety, but they must have figured out I don't really love them deep down.

Not like I loved my old computer that got stolen. Whenever I see one like it, I have to run up and have a look and ask if I can touch it. It freaks people out.



On my home computer, the ad-blocker doesn't turn on automatically anymore. On the work computer, you have to restart it every time the Wi-Fi goes off, which is fairly often. The home one objects to this one Java download it keeps trying to install every morning. The work one takes like half an hour to wake up and start running at normal speed.

I could go on. I've been feeling rather list-making-ish lately.

But today, I had what I believe is a Serious Old Person Tech Failure. A Serious Old Person Tech Failure is when the computer does something computers don't do. Like it or not, and I'm not being ageist here, young people are more adept with computers. I can say I'm not being ageist because computer fluency is akin to language fluency, and there are now digital natives and digital non-natives. We can even take it a step further and say there are digital pidgin speakers and digital creole speakers.

But I digress. We all know what Old Person Tech Failures are like. Worst case, it's like this 70-year-old lady I used to work for. Every time the words disappeared from the screen (this was in the early 90s, mind you, so the screen was black with green letters), she'd freak out. Usually it was because she'd closed something, or hit return a million times, or failed to turn on the monitor, something like that. She never figured out what the problem was, and she was forever amazed I could tell just by looking at the blank screen what she'd done, and fix it.

What do you mean my pizza isn't gonna come out?
I just password-protected a .zip file!
But that's a regular Old Person Tech Failure. Serious Old Person Tech Failure is when someone who is clearly a digital non-native but who is reasonably competent in the language causes the computer do something impossible, just by completing the normal series of steps one normally undertakes. My mom will kill me for mentioning this, but she's a wizard at causing computers to do insane, impossible things. Programs disappear for no reason. Strange words appear on the page. The letter Y ceases to work, but then for no reason starts working again after you uninstall and reinstall iTunes because the button to open photos had quit working. It makes my mom mad when when someone is agog at something her computer is doing and I don't blame her. But it's not her fault. I'm fairly sure she isn't doing something wrong. She's as competent in computers as she needs to be to do whatever she needs to do, which is quite a lot.

That's pretty much how competent I am. I need computers to do more stuff than my mom does, which makes me a little less likely to cause the computer to do insane things.

At the radio place, I'm the old person. The students that run things are total digital natives, and they watch me doing stuff on the computer with that same amused, patient face I wear when I watch people 10 and 20 years older than me using a computer.




The radio, thus far, has not really worked in my favor. Usually whatever makes it stream isn't working. I think, in the last 2 months, I've been on the radio maybe 2 times where I was actually on the radio. The other times I was just in the student center. And today, there was no sound in the student center even though the radio was getting streamed (I checked in the office before I left), and even though I know which dial is the student center volume dial, so there was a good chance that whatever I was planning to do on the radio was going to be heard only by me in these really fancy earphones they have that I love. This was okay but not ideal.

But today, none of the kids were around to fix things and give me patient smiles. Everything was fine when I got there. I did everything as I always do it, got everything loaded and muttered some bullshit in the microphone and attempted to start the song as I always do (it's Windows Media Player, people-- it's not rocket science), and it wouldn't start.

Only it wouldn't start in an impossible way. The button showed that it was playing, but the scrubber didn't move and no sound came out. So I muttered some more bullshit into the microphone and shut it off and set about trying to fix it. Nothing worked, so I gave up on stupid Windows and loaded everything into Winamp. Which did the same thing. So I found VLC and stuck it all on there. The scrubber moved, but no sound came out. Some for Media Monkey and some other media player on there. I didn't mess with iTunes because I'm not super comfortable with iTunes. And I was afraid to restart the computer because I'm a digital pidgin speaker or maybe creole and maybe I would  break something, like the radio or the Internet or whatever. So I was stumped and I gave up and went home.

That's the end of that story. It's not a very good ending, just a bad sign.

At least today it was beautiful weather-wise. So that was something.

Sort of.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The St. Paddy's Show

The mix I did for St. Patrick's Day. It wasn't actually on St. Patrick's, but I was still pleased with it.

 

The Lineup:

Bu Akşam-- Duman
Zoot Suit Riot-- Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Agua de Beber-- Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto
Badfish-- Sublime
Coconut-- Harry Nilsson
Danny Boy-- Diana Krall and the Chieftans
Half Moon Street-- Pete and the Pirates
Dirty Old Town-- The Pogues
40 Oz. to Freedom-- Sublime
Margaritaville-- Jimmy Buffet Also I dedicated this one to my brother, who'd had his birthday a few days before
Take Your Mama-- The Scissor Sisters
You and Me and the Bottle Make Three-- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Too Drunk to Fuck-- The Dead Kennedys
Rock and Roll-- The Sounds
Ponderosa-- Tricky
Drink Before the War-- Sinead O'Connor

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Radio Show #2:

My second radio show ended up being on LE's birthday. I feared my whole schtick was developing into a kids' birthday thing, but fortunately no one really listens.

So I played as many of LE's favorite songs as I could. He has this one Greek song his dad has on a CD in his car that he loves, but despite numerous requests over the course of a week, his dad couldn't manage to message me the name of the song or the singer, so I couldn't play it. I also tried to arrange with his dad to hook up the show on his computer so LE could hear it (LE was staying with him on his 6th birthday), which he failed to do until the last few songs.

Be sure I said some choice words about his dad on the radio. Ha! It should have felt petty, but relative to the master of petty (BE), it just felt good.

Anyway, here's the show.



And here's the playlist. It's a combination of songs he likes and songs I used to sing to him.

Kung Fu Fighting-- Carl Douglas
Bohemian Rhapsody-- Queen (I had to quit singing it to him because it started making him cry, though for awhile there after the separation he requested it when he needed a good cry. I thought this was cool because this song also used to make me cry when I was a kid and it came on the radio)
Adventures in Solitude-- The New Pornographers
Little Ghost-- White Stripes
You Are My Sunshine-- Aretha Franklin (I liked this arrangement best, after scouring You Tube and finding most of them either too schmaltzy or too hillbilly for my tastes. A close second, though, was the Soggy Bottomed Boys from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?)
Jane Says-- Jane's Addiction
After Hours-- The Velvet Underground
California Über Alles-- The Dead Kennedys
White Rabbit-- Jefferson Airplane
Ca Plane Pour Moi-- Nouvelle Vague
Blackbird-- Evan Rachel Wood (from the film Across the Universe, which really does justice to the Beatles' covers)
Mickey-- Toni Basil
I Wanna Be Sedated-- The Ramones
I'm Sticking With You-- The Velvet Underground
Saw Red-- Sublime (the acoustic version, not the feat. Gwen Stefani one, which is also good)
Only You-- Yaz

On the show, there were some other soundclips I stuck in, where 2.5-3 year old LE recorded himself on the voice memos on my iPhone. I include them here, with some gratuitously adorable photos:

You Are My Sunshine
video
Kung Fu Fighting

video

I also had Gangnam Style on there, an unfortunately catchy tune I want to kill after hearing it so much, usually at 6am when he's awake and I'm not. But the boy can seriously bust a move.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ballad Of The...


Friday, April 12, 2013

Radio Show #1


So I know I posted before about how I'm on the radio and shit. It's not exactly real radio-- it's only streamed from the university radio website. I heard universities aren't allowed to have real radio bandwidth here anymore, I guess because there are commercial stations (that pay the government for bandwidth) that deserve it more.

Don't try and stop me.
Which is a bummer because for me, radio is something you listen to in the car, or while you're doing something else, but mostly it's for when you're in the car. Most people I know hate being in the car with me because once I know you well enough, the first thing I do is start fucking around with the radio. Being in control of the music is a serious thing in my world. I used to DJ at a bar here in exchange for beer, and I kept doing it even after a bunch of my CDs got stolen while the bar was shut down by the police.

The beer was a bonus compared to the pleasure of controlling the music in the bar, as were the attentions of one of the barmen. He had big brown hands and big brown eyes with girly lashes. While I was playing at being the DJ, he would send me those blinking air cuddles that if you live in Turkey, you know exactly what it is I'm talking about with the blinking air cuddles.

But lack of certain radio in the car used to be a major homesickness source. Podcasts changed things for me a lot because I suddenly didn't have to be at home to hear Car Talk and other NPR gems. Whenever I miss my parents and driving around with them, I can just listen to an NPR podcast and feel a little better.

Podcasts, however, don't make up for the pleasure of running through the scan function, finding a song I like, listening to it, waiting for the next song, and if it's a commercial or a song I don't care for, running through the scan again. I also stop on songs I think other people in the car might like, but by that point, it doesn't matter because someone is ready to kill me for fucking with the radio.

Radio is a pleasure that's increasingly going out of my life, partly because radio is increasingly irrelevant, partly because radio here kind of sucks (except for Eksen, but even that has too much meh British music), and partly because I'm almost never in a car with the radio.

Radio is probably why I like mixes so much-- I rarely listen to entire albums all at once (with a few exceptions when I'm really in the mood, Pink Floyd)-- because you never really know what's coming next. The iPod that comes built in with the iPhone kind of filled this need. You can load a bunch of songs onto there and hit "shuffle" and there you go.

Is there a better way to say "I love you?"
But I do miss the pleasure and work that went into making a good mix tape-- choosing the songs so they were right for the person or situation I was making the mix for, cutting and gluing magazine pictures or painting something for the cover, and ordering the songs just right so there was nothing jarring.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure no one listens to me on the radio. I know this because week after week something or other prevents my dad or brothers from tuning in, either on their end or mine. And a couple of weeks ago, I said on the radio, "Hey, if you're listening send me a message or I'm gonna start talking about my vagina." I already knew by that point my dad had had a tech failure of some sort.

No message came, but I didn't actually have anything to say about my vagina other than the fact that my vagina and I were hanging out together being on the radio. So I kind of dug myself into a hole with that one.

So to speak.

A friend of mine recently turned me onto 8 Tracks, a website where people load their mixes. How great is that? The idea behind it is that people make the mixes, not algorithms. Not that I have a problem with algorithm sites like Pandora or LastFM. But LastFM doesn't thrill me, and Pandora is only available here with a VPN that gives you a US IP, which often freezes everything up and makes it slow.

So I decided to load all of my shows onto 8 Tracks. No one really listens to me there, either, but I guess it's a few more people than listen to my show. And once I got that sorted out, I decided to start posting the shows here, in case anyone gives a shit. The advantage to listening to me on 8 Tracks is that you don't have to sit through my pointless radio ramblings, and you will never have to hear anything about my vagina.

Rest assured, I got plenty drunk.
The first show I did was for my friend's kid's 3rd birthday. I missed the beginning of the party to be on the radio, but there were plenty of mojitos left by the time I got there.

You should check it out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Post-Update Update Post

So it appears there's cause for celebration and the impossible tale of the workers' rights protest at Koç University has had a surprise happy ending.


Or so it would seem. It was all dramatic and tense there for a couple of days when, after a very long meeting, everyone agreed to everything "in principle." The workers were going to get their jobs back with the new subcontractors, with no loss of benefits from their previous jobs.

Nothing got signed though, because it had gotten too late at night. Apparently pens become heavier as the day wears on.

Then Rektör didn't show up at the appointed time the next morning to sign the documents as promised. Then the agreement got broken up into individual parts, leaving the issue of benefits and other work conditions up to the new subcontractors to agree to.

This was not good.

Then all of a sudden everyone agreed to everything and the workers are eligible to apply to the new contractors, with the understanding they would all get their old jobs and start work right away. The underdogs won.

The End.

I think I'll be working on figuring this one out for a long time.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Not So Much A Bummer, Maybe: Another Protest Update

They've been leaving little notes all over.
I should have updated on the Big Protest ages ago, because ever so many new events have transpired since my last post, when all the workers were summarily fired after the march on campus.

The way the workers were fired was this: they got on their service bus to go home, and a mile or two off campus they were informed that the contract had ended as of that day, and that they were being taken to ISS headquarters to sign their transfer documents. So they stopped the bus and got off and marched back to campus and occupied the gate. The students joined the occupation. And some faculty. That was last Tuesday. And they've been there ever since, even though Spring Break started and even though since then it has rained mud as well as regular rain.

The day after the workers got laid off, Rektör sent around an email saying the new subcontractors were only for cleaning. They didn't deal with the people who work the office kitchens or do office support and catering and hauling.

In the email, he said that the people doing jobs besides cleaning would be eligible to apply to yet still another
subcontractor with whom a deal had suddenly been made, to get their old jobs back.

"Whaaaat?" one thinks. "They failed to notice it was only for cleaning when they made a deal with the new subcontractors?" Anyway.

It was getting curiouser and curiouser. It felt a little like Rektör was making a small concession to the pissed off faculty by offering to hire back the departments' beloved çaycı and office staff. In fact, before the faculty organized, individual departments had heard of the pending layoff and petitioned the Rektörlük to do something to save the jobs of the workers they had shared offices with for years, and with whom they had personal relationships. These petitions were ignored, naturally.

And who would believe a subcontractor would hire workers with a known history of organizing and demanding basic rights? Not me. Not anyone, really.

So the faculty arranged a meeting in the auditorium with Rektör. He didn't turn up. Someone heard he was meeting with some people in the business school, so everyone went over there and occupied the hallway outside that meeting so Rektör couldn't escape. An hour and a half later than planned, Rektör stood in front of the faculty in the auditorium and explained that that worker thing was a done deal, out of his hands, nothing to be done.

I didn't attend this meeting myself. Like most people in my department, I decided it's best to keep my head down. We're far too dispensable in hazırlık. Those from hazırlık who did attend sat in the back and didn't contribute.

I guess somewhere in the meeting, people started talking about the lack of transparency between administration and the faculty. And that fact that we have to carry out whatever policy Rektör says, even when it's insane or impossible, because disagreement is frowned upon and people get fired for being too complain-y. All those workers getting fired just reminded everyone we're carrying on like that every day, doing our jobs as best as we can, often in the face of complete apathy (students) or complete insanity (admin), but no one really says much formally because we've all been given to understand that if we don't like how things are at this job, we can just go find other jobs.

And the meeting turned into three years of pent-up rage and angst about what it's like to work in an environment of constant tacit threat. I'll spare you the rest of the details of the meeting because it was mostly inside baseball and also I don't want to get fired.

That's the other reason I quit posting about this. It's because I don't want to get fired. What I really wanted to do was go to the gate and take pictures and talk to people and blog every second of the rare bit of campus excitement. But I chickened out and talked myself out of it.

So I feel pretty bad about that. Really bad. That's another reason I haven't been writing about it. I'm too ashamed.

The first day the gate was occupied, I wasn't sure if it was a strike or what, and I kind of panicked because for sure I never want to be someone who breaks a strike (where did I get this conviction from anyway?), but at the same time I knew if I stayed in a strike, I'd lose my job and have a hell of a time finding a new one that's anywhere near as good.

Luckily for me, it wasn't a strike. But there has been a spirited young woman boarding all the minibuses all week (a line of students blocks the road when the minibuses come in). The first day, she was demanding ID, presumably to prevent the new workers from entering the campus. This didn't sit right with me because the new workers wouldn't be in any more of a position to risk their jobs than the old ones, and it's not up to largely upper class students to threaten them or decide things for them. Since then, I've heard some workers from the new subcontractor have joined the gate occupation. This pleases me.

On subsequent days, the same young woman got on the minibus to shout a breathless update. On Friday, she handed out some flyers in Turkish. She didn't give me one. For a few days, I'd been trying to decide if I was annoyed with her or impressed by her, but I decided it was the former when she didn't give me a flyer. I was mostly annoyed because I managed to run late pretty much every day that week. I didn't mind the little holdup for the breathless updates in Turkish, but not getting a flyer was a bit... I don't know.

Most emails Rektör has been writing to everyone have been in Turkish. He has no excuse for this. He was a dean at Stanford for 30 years. Over half the faculty are foreign and the rarefied environment of Koç allows people to get by without learning Turkish if they don't want to. It's supposedly part of the appeal of working here. I can mostly read the Turkish emails, but most foreign faculty can't. No one knew if this was laziness on the Rektör's part, or a deliberate move to exclude people.

Anyway, I'm still a bit impressed by that girl. And I'm terribly impressed with (dare I say proud of) everyone at the gate because they have dug in their heels for real, and everything has been peaceful and nice. Fun, even. Friday night I saw several of the minibus drivers sitting on blankets with their families, and other families were hiking up the hill to the gate, picnic supplies in hand. A call has gone out among the faculty to start giving mini-lectures to the workers on interesting stuff they might want to know about.

People are still dropping their trash everywhere and the campus is starting to look like the rest of Istanbul, but some of the kids have organized cleaning up the most dire places on campus and in the dorms, like emptying trash cans and cleaning toilets. Toilet paper is a matter of individual initiative, however. One of my co-workers bought us the poshest toilet paper ever. It's like 6-ply and you only need a square or two.

At first, they were dropping the trash in front of the Rektör's office with sticky notes about workers' rights, but now it's moved to a central spot, in the square between the library and the Student Center.

Emails in Turkish, followed by emails in English with apologies for not coming in English sooner, have started coming from the Rektör's office with updates on the negotiations. They're saying the ISS people will be eligible for hiring by the new subcontractors. There hasn't been anything about their other demands, like time and a half for overtime and sick leave, but it's a small something.

Still, if it was possible for the new subcontractors to hire the ISS people, why didn't someone think of this earlier? Curiouser and curiouser.

Sometimes I think Rektör just made a bunch of human mistakes and is now trying to fix them. Or maybe there's enough pressure, such as increasing media coverage and petitions of support signed by faculty at other universities, that actually worked and the protest was effective. Other times I think this whole thing was somehow a tremendously well-planned farce-- a big display of power and dick-waving following the march, then a bunch of concessions to make everyone feel like we're cared about.

When I started my radio show a couple of months ago, there were two cleaners, a man and a woman, who hung around outside the radio cabin when they weren't working. The woman was always in a noisy fury about something. The man listened to her quietly. Had I known what they were up against, I wouldn't have poked fun at her on the radio for always yelling, "Sana ne? Sana ne?" I don't know if she was mad about this thing or something else, but boy, was she ever mad. Every week. This week, their abandoned carts made me sad.

I reserve judgment on the result until there is an actual resolution. I'll be surprised if my contract is renewed next year, but I'll also be surprised if it isn't. It's not like I've done anything, really, but I haven't done totally nothing either. I've just tried to do my best, and I'm not at all happy with it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bummer: An Update

Shortly after I got home from work last night, there was an email that the ISS contract had been terminated as of today, instead of mid-May as originally planned. The new company was supposed to start today, except the protest has moved to camping at the gate with kids blocking the vehicles trying to get in.

Some crap left on a table that no one was around to clean up. Also it rained mud last night because that's something that happens here for real.

Plus 161 people lost their jobs and truth be told, there's fuck-all anyone can do about it. Corporations are too busy fisting everyone else in the ass to give a shit, and I don't expect things to change.

Fuck.

I guess I should be glad I'm not yet so completely cynical that a little bit I believed there might be a better outcome. Or maybe I just keep trusting some people in power are still have some human on the inside. Hey, guess what? I was wrong about that once again. Oh well. Moving on.

A brief article on NTV today is the only thing I've seen about all this in the mainstream press (not that I've been looking, aside from Facebook shares), though it's getting more coverage in online leftie papers. Radikal has done a couple of articles, here and here. Radikal is mostly sort of mainstream and not quite as radical as the name would have you believe, so that's something.

I'll be honest. After I wrote the post about the march, I started thinking about this whole imbroglio (imbroglio!). And a lot of stuff occurred to me, as it does when I can't sleep.

For one thing, somewhere in the whole kerfuffle, it became unclear to me whether the university was the bad guy in the story, or ISS. In the end, I realized I didn't really know what the protest was all about.

Okay, workers' rights, I get it. Of course I get all the problems in the grander sense. But a protest usually doesn't make grander things right. At least, I don't expect there are many people involved here who are willing to dig in their heels for the long haul needed to make things just a little bit righter.

Are you an outside agitator?
And then I got to wondering if, somewhere along the line, everyone had gotten dragged into something that wasn't what they thought it was. I got to wondering if we (as the faculty, I mean) had somehow encouraged the workers to get into something bigger, or if it was the other way around. Or maybe there is encouragement coming from places that have nothing to do with any of us.

And naturally, given this particular swipe from Rektör's mighty blade, I've gotten all paranoid about contract renewals.

For some people, this is a game. For some people, it's about higher ideals one wants to defend in theory, but for whom there's no real risk in defending those ideals. And for the people who lost their jobs, they're screwed and the risks are for real.

A few of the workers from the new subcontractor managed to get on campus today. They looked nervous and furtive and I can't imagine what it felt like to be them. They didn't get put to work. A lot of guys in suits were milling around in serious conversations. It seemed like they didn't know what to do either.

Shiny new equipment all lined up and ready to go.
It's good fun though, the protest. The thing is, a lot of kids at my school have a social conscience, and a lot don't. A lot of them are looking for stuff to ally themselves with. A lot of them are rightfully furious about so many things, and there's not really a good place to put their rage.

These kids get to march around and camp out and yell and feel what it's like to believe that good things can happen from organizing and shows of spirit. Given what goes on at other universities, these kids have the good fortune of not getting hurt in the process. But the jandarma and police are hovering at the gates.

Most of what I'm writing at this moment isn't sitting right with me. A lot of it feels paternalistic and some feels jaded and some feels naive and some just feels stupid and limp.

And some feels maternalistic because I keep thinking what else would I want for my kid than to have a social conscience and not get hurt in the process?

A lot of things aren't sitting right with me now. It's just that I can't quite figure out what they are.

Probably I just need some sleep.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Big March

About a week ago, a former student posted an article on Facebook about how all the ISS workers on campus were about to get laid off. All 160 of them. The people who clean stuff and haul stuff and make us tea and generally do all the stuff on campus no one else wants to do. You see them around and talk to the ones who aren't too shy. Pretty much everything would fall apart without them because that's how it is to be a worker, except they're the only ones who know it.

And it's not so much that they're getting laid off. They're still contracted by ISS (a multinational corporation that subcontracts service staff to places like schools, malls, and hospitals) even if they don't continue to work at the university. ISS will send them to jobs really far from their homes (a serious issue here-- I can barely manage to be friends with someone who lives more than 10 miles away), or make them do jobs they didn't sign on for, like getting tea guys to work maintenance at construction sites. If the ISS folks don't like the new arrangement, they can find new jobs and lose their benefits and severance.


I got it why our tea lady has been especially out of sorts lately.

The next day, a call for petitioning and general displeasure with the situation went out on the faculty listserve. I didn't even know we had a faculty listserve. Everyone was pissed off. I read the millions of emails that went around. Unlike most discussions of this sort, the listserve emails were all in English, which implied a desire for participation from the foreign faculty. Usually for stuff like this, we're kind of left out and forced to glean information from rumor, so it was extremely cool to be implicitly included by choice of language. I'm never sure what is foreigners' business to get into.

Getting started.
The story as I understand it is this: the school's contract with ISS had run out, and they decided not to renew it. Several petitions from individual colleges to keep the workers on as university employees were ignored by the Rektör. Over the weekend, the Rektör deigned to respond, with an evasive email in Turkish and an even more vague but much shorter email in English. He failed to respond to anything people were talking about, and instead just described it as a thing that was out of his hands. According to him, the contract wasn't being renewed because they quality of work had declined and there was some bullshit about microfiber rags. He didn't mention that the quality of work had declined because there have been huge staff cuts over the past year and a lot of people are suddenly doing the work of four people. He didn't mention the quality of the work of people who do stuff other than cleaning, like the guys who haul stuff and deliver stuff and office workers and other staff.

The usual amount of crap in a classroom after a regular teaching day.
The students who live in the dorms (and who, bless them, seem completely unable to pick up after themselves in any way) have been bitching about the filth, because apparently there used to be two cleaners per block of dorms, and now there's just one for every two blocks.

In our corner of campus (we're a few steps higher than ISS in the university pecking order), we get stuff like this.


The only reason a windstorm caused the mess was because the ash tray/trash cans (trashtrays?) only get emptied every couple of weeks. A colleague who quit smoking almost a year ago guessed that some of his butts are still in the trashtray because that never gets emptied. I think there is room in it only because of some sort of magical decomposition process. And I'd bloody well empty it myself if the big trash tips weren't halfway across campus and locked in a cage.

This guy used to take care of the area around our office building. He's a really nice guy. I've seen him around, but he does something else now. He followed the march at the periphery, and stopped here to push a chair back into place.

The students got in on the outcry, too. At first, they planned to hold a big round of noisy, misplaced anger near the library, but then they and the faculty joined forces and had a proper meeting in the auditorium and they decided to have a march. Everyone got a chance to speak at the meeting. Some ISS people were invited to speak, but security tried to keep them out and there was a scuffle and eventually they were allowed in.

Some of these guys are security.



Security, after all, also has to do what they're told whether they like it or not. I don't imagine they put up much of a fight, except to make a show of putting up a fight.







This is a picture I couldn't manage to take from the folk music night, of a young ISS guy no older than the students. He'd come in towards the end of the show, probably to pick up the crap students left behind, and was squatting behind the back row with his chin in his hands, absolutely rapt with the music. I would have had to use a flash to take his picture in the dark, but I couldn't stand to treat him that way or break his mood.

So anyway, today was the protest and I cobbled together this crummy little video because it feels good when something is happening for real.


I went with a colleague and we were both a little nervous about getting singled out by the campus surveillance and the administration. Because that's the thing about our jobs, all of us, from the administrative staff to the folks way higher in the pecking order. The prevailing feeling is that if you don't like something, you can just find another job.

Except the thing is, a lot of us don't want to find new jobs. We like this job. So we keep our heads down and do the best job we can, all the while ignoring that wee threat hanging by a thread over our collective heads. It could explain why a lot of us drink so much, because I sure as hell am not the only one.

She does a lot of the catering for conferences and large events. If she catches you eying the food, she shoos you over to it and exhorts you to take some of everything because she thinks you're too thin.

Here is something I'm ashamed of: I would never join a march to protect my own job rights, not if I thought I might be able to protect my job by not joining. I think I might be okay breaking a strike, especially if I felt it wasn't a critical mass. No, not okay. I'd feel like shit. There are some things I've been taught good people don't do.

But I've also been taught that you do what you have to do to get by. This particular tension has been worrying at me today.

It's not something I'm proud of, the death of my convictions, but it's the way it is.

The students in charge of the megaphone had crib sheets with worker slogans written on them. They'd sneak a read of the paper crumpled in their hand, then start shouting the slogan, which everyone then shouted back.

And this made me even more proud of the ISS people who came and yelled and stood up for themselves.