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  1. Top Gear

    Way to go, Stephen!
  2. Top Gear

    Hehe, quite right!
  3. An Introduction to Progressive Exercise

    bmcgreggor, Could you explain the "principles" of HST in a nutshell? A big one that I don't understand is the workouts with sub-maximal weights. Nobody has ever laid out or explained the principles of HST to me. HIT principles are quite simple and can be easily explained. So far, nobody has done this for me with HST. Could you be the first?
  4. An Introduction to Progressive Exercise

    bmcgreggor, Are there any books or studies or resources available on "HST?"
  5. Top Gear

    Boy is my face red. In my enthusiasm, I accidentally wrote "Sergio Leone," the director of the films from which the music came, rather than the composer: Ennio Morricone. Oops!
  6. Top Gear

    Being a "car guy," I noticed this little show on the discovery channel one day about a month or so back. Being moderately entertained by such shows, I gave it a chance to show me what it was all about... At first, I started to notice the little things. "Huh," I thought, "they're really using some interesting camera angles here." "Hmmm," I pondered, "they really have chosen some interesting locales, which they're doing a great job of filming." "Wow," I mused, "that's a really clever choice for a background song they're using for this bit." Their style was certainly setting them apart from the pack. The personalities of the hosts were charming and fun, as Brits can often be. And what I started to realize is that the show wasn't like other car shows. Where, for example, Car and Driver television (which is a fine program) would simply show a few instrumented tests and report a few dry figures on a car, Top Gear would have a highly entertaining concept. They ran a Lotus around a track while an Apache helicopter gunship tried to get a missile lock on it. (it couldn't!) After a few more episodes, each with its own interesting concept, I realized it wasn't just a one-off thing. These guys were CAR LOVERS in a big way. They ran a cross-country race of two men using the 200kph supertrain against one in an Aston Martin. (The car won! yay!) A group of car enthusiasts that look down their noses at public transport... in Europe no less? Sign me up! But that's not the best part. Just last week I caught an episode where they set out to discover just how tough a little Toyota pickup is. Now these things are known for their reliability, but could the little red truck stand up to crashes, wrecking balls, flames, and the fury of the oceans? As that piece progressed, I found myself on the edge of my seat, cheering on that little truck as it survived against almost impossible odds... Then it caught me! "What's that music in the background? It sounds... familiar... WAIT! THAT SOUNDS LIKE SERGIO LEONE!" That's right: they were playing the "locket" music from "For A Few Dollars More" at tense moments as I wondered if that scrappy little truck had survived. And as it pulled through to the next challenge? Yup, Sergio Leone again! NOW I was impressed. The musical scores from that trilogy have a pretty direct channel into my emotions. I began to realize that something unusual was happening. This wasn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill car show. WOW! I had to admit that I had stumbled onto something amazing! I'm not going to give away the ending to the saga of the little red Toyota, but let me tell you there was a little tear in my eye before it was over. I recommend that the serious car people tune in: I hope it can provide you with as much enjoyment as it did me.
  7. Richard, I just got done watching your commentary on Neil Cavuto's show, and a question occurred to me: In one of your recent posts, you said that REITs were still a good investment until the end of this year at least. Would the recent action by the Fed to again raise rates change this recommendation?
  8. The job from hell

    Gah, that reminds me of another horror! That manual he assigned me to read? Once I was about 120 pages into it, he came up and said, "Stop reading that. I'm switching us over to a differant program. We won't be using that one anymore."
  9. That's not my job!

    Without trying to bring in too much unrelated context here, I have to second what Helen is saying. "That's not my job" is often a means of self-preservation. I have both seen and worked in environments that operated under what I called "Danish law." If you did something for someone else, you would be expected, by the management and everyone else, to do that thing FROM THEN ON. If you took on too many such responsibilities, it would interfere with your ability to do your original job. And if you then became overwhealmed, and failed to do anything - be it your original job or not - then you would be disciplined and written up as a bad worker. And, of course, no recognition would be given to you for taking on these additional responsibilities. In such an environment, "That's not my job" is the only way to stay alive. I dealt with this attitude in my first job, at a library. I would help out my co-workers only to find that I then was EXPECTED to do their jobs for them. They would be on the internet while I was doing THEIR jobs for them. I eventually took one of the main offenders aside and explained to her, "When I help you out like that, it is a gift to you. I expect that you will appreciate this gift and do your best to make sure I don't have to keep giving it to you. By this I mean you have to do your job as if I wasn't there to pick up the slack for you. If you're genuinely in need of my help, and I'm not doing anything else, then I will of course lend a hand. But if I see you slacking off while customers come up to your desk, I won't come over to help... even if I have nothing else to do. Is that understood?" From then on, I only very rarely had to remind her of the nature of what was and wasn't my job. She worked hard when I was around and didn't try anything else. The other people in my position got together with me and made sure to present a united front to management that we would assist the other desk only when our judgement said it was a good idea. Thankfully, management relented. Eventually, that "main offender" developed a good understanding and needed no more reminders. I pulled her butt out of the fire enough that she was grateful to me and we got along just fine from then on. I never had any more problems from that kind of attitude again. (at least, for that employer)
  10. The job from hell

    Ray, I have a great deal of respect for the rational members of our armed forces, but your situation illustrates precisely why I decided that I would never join them. By high school, I had had enough bad teachers and authority figures that I decided that I would never place myself willingly into a position where such a person might be inescapably in charge of my life (especially in a life-or-death situation). You have my profound sympaties for being in such a situation! Were you actually in combat under that man? (I shudder to think!) Also: technically, I could not look for work while I was there, because I was moving out of town soon and the kind of temp work I might have found would not pay much. I did pay off my car and some other high-price items, though. I don't know if I am condemning myself, per se, or whether I am simply feeling the consequences. I still had the ability to choose to leave, and I decided that I needed the money.
  11. The job from hell

    I was reasonably successful in applying that very attitude (to the letter, almost!). It was frequently overwhealmed by the irrationality of my situation, however. The really grating part was that most of the time, I was not engaged in productive activity. When I was, I could not be sure that my actions were productive, since they might be destroyed at any time by an "emergency change" from Mr. "N" or his bosses. And if I was TOO productive, I would be assigned fake work which I literally felt sick while doing, and which would also interfere with my ability to do any real work that came up. I doubt even an actualy ditch-digger could work if he knew that at any moment, a whistle might blow that signaled him to fill in the ditch, and then another one to start digging again. At least, not if that ditch-digger valued productivity. I was constantly reminded by Mr. "M," "Remember that you'll still get paid at the end of the day." He was driven just as crazy by it as I was, and we would remind each other of our financial needs when we saw the other about the crack, emotionally. This was, of course, frequent. Mr. "M" would sometimes be seen throwing things, or hitting walls. I think I was the only one who really understood why. As a result, I would deliberately avoid Mr. "N," avoid finishing all my work until the end of the day, and I would beg Mr. "M" to give me enough work so that Mr. "N" would leave me alone. But, being IT, "down time" is simply a part of the business, and there wasn't always enough work to keep me busy. I lived those days in fear. Ugh, that reminds me. Even Mr. "N" eventually ran out of "make-work" for me to do, and so he came up with a horrid idea: he assigned me to read, cover-to-cover, the manuals for programs that we used. He looked over my shoulder and periodically quizzed me by flipping to a random page and demanding that I answer some inessentail question that I would know only by rote memorization. He would berate me when I inevitably failed to do so. And I also had to constantly fear falling asleep: I am a bit of an insomniac and it's hard enough to get up in the morning, much less stay awake through useless manuals that taught me nothing I didn't already know. Even with Mr. "N" a few feet from my desk, I almost nodded off a few times, and he caught me once. They never let me live that one down. He would constantly manipulate things like that: asking impossible or loaded tasks so that I would fail and he could berate me, or justify his lack of recognition for my hard work. And like any liar, he believed his own lies about me, and only assigned me the most basic and mindless of tasks. I would spend days on end simply moving around equipment or running errands.
  12. The job from hell

    Jay, those are both good questions. I would have elaborated initially, but I was running out of space (and energy). An MMORPG is a game that people play online. He used cheats or hacks to make the accounts fraudulently valuable and then sold them on eBay to unwitting buyers. And yes, he most certainly IS a criminal. As to his boss and company property, the answer is that they already know and for whatever incomprehensible reason, do not care. From what I have heard, they are ALL thieves and therefore "look the other way" for each other. Why they tolerate the utter incompetance of Mr. "N" is a mystery. I can only imagine that he has some sort of blackmail on them or something. As for calling the police, I do not have any hard evidence on which he could be convicted. His bragging about his crimes to me is not enough. Even so, after his divorse, he has none of that money left. The hand of justice is already doing its work on him and I am confident that he will get what is coming to him. The real victims will probably be his bright little daughters who have to put up with his "A is not A" nonsense all the time. (their mother will be no help; she is a woman that converted to Islam... yes, you read that right: ISLAM, one of the most misogynistic belief systems in the world)
  13. The job from hell

    I had presented some questions on this situation in the "That's not my job!" thread, but I now realize that the situation was so extraordinary that it merits its own consideration. The previous job that I held was a terrible experience for me, and I'm only now just starting to realize just how bad it was. I worked in the IT department of a medium-large company in the same room as two other men: Mr. "M," who was a productive Atlas that was single-handedly holding the entire company's IT structure on his back, and Mr. "N," a parasite second-hander who chronically and neurotically strived to maintain "appearances" and never, ever, did a lick of actual work. Mr. "N" was my boss. He sat four feet from my desk. Now don't think I'm kidding or exaggerating when I say that he never did any work. I'm not; he didn't DO anything. His days consisted of being schmoozed by salesmen, taunting telemarketers on the phone, having day-long conversations with his divorce lawyer, pirating playstation games, fraudulently selling MMORPG hacked accounts on Ebay (which he boasted had gotten him $20,000), selling who-knows-what on Ebay, "going home early." His sole "responsibility" was to allocate (squander) the departmental budget by purchasing unnecessary "latest and greatest" gadgetry while the day-to-day operations of the company were done on 10+ year old equipment. We never had enough spare equipment to handle breakdowns (which were frequent because we had to use the "cheap" way to fix things), while managers with "pull" got brand new flat-screen monitors. (Don't get me started on the flat-screens. People in our company declined 20" CRT's in favor of 15" flatscreens, because for some reason they were seen as "status symbols.") When he wasn't wasting money or skipping out on work, he was micro-mis-managing us, bringing in non-work-related projects (that he would spend company money on), or otherwise making things miserable. We celebrated when he skipped out on work, because at least he wasn't making things WORSE. But that wasn't the part that made it unbearable. (Well, aside from the micromanagement) Mr. "N" was a "communications black-hole," as Mr. "M" put it. Mr. "N" would communicate in half-sentences, while simultaneously holding us responsible for doing what he wanted. If he was sent a ten-question email about his instructions (and he would be, given the clarity of his instructions), he would half-answer the first question and ignore the rest. Attempts to get further answers were replied to with scorn or evasion. If his instructions couldn't be understood, and I couldn't make him clarify, then I would do literally what he asked, even if it made no sense. He would, of course, hold me responsible. I was written up and all that. ("why must you keep making me look bad?") Mr. "M" taught me that I had to independently research whatever project I was assigned and find out what really needed to be done, and then do that. Every project was therefore a riddle wrapped in an enigma. His primary management technique was to repeat a failed behavior and to expect different results. We switched phone companies away from a certain provider due to billing problems, only to switch back and be plagued by... billing problems. He was genuinely surprised. We would constantly be building up systems and then tearing them down. He would order and then cancel work or equipment. We were always wary to put any effort into working on any long-term project because the rug could be pulled out from under us at any moment. (i.e. "stop what you're doing. I forgot to ask so-and-so if it was okay and now he says he doesn't want to do this.") Even then, if we implemented his alternate solution, he might switch back to the initial plan. I once spent a week cataloging equipment only to have him buy a new set of inventory software and make me do it all over again. I once catalogued an entire closet of equipment only to have him change his mind and tell me to throw it all out. Any work that was ever done was in constant threat of being rendered pointless by the next "emergency." And woe to the man who finished his work early. Since he had to maintain the appearance of constantly being "busy," he would INVENT fake or futile "work" to "occupy" me. If any actually work came up, I had to work double to complete the fake work and the real work. I am not kidding here, he invented Napoleon-style-ditchdigging-makework! Add to this the impossible product of the Sarbanes-Oxley audit. I had to dig through phone-book-sized binders to account for equipment that didn't exist (because he had sold it on eBay) or whose receipts were so vague and faded that it was impossible to trace. I did my best to match things up but had to fight a long battle with him to get him to match the unmatchable by himself. ("keep looking; it's in there!") There's worse. I was once told to go dumpster diving at a rival company to find evidence that one of our ex-employees had violated a non-compete contract. (I refused, but had to fight for it. He insisted it wasn't a crime.) I was criticized for being a "clock watcher" and not putting in "extra hours" (which I would not be paid for, being salaried). Mind you, I would always stay after if a project needed completion. What he wanted was for me to stay after work even when no reason existed to. He gave me a condescending speech about how "management material people" would stay after. I asked him "how many minutes should I stay after, then?" He threw a fit at that, telling me that I "just didn't get it." Indeed. Mr. "M," of course, single-handedly ran the place. He did ALL the work. He would work, often until 4 or 6 in the morning. Being salaried, he got no overtime. And he was given the "standard" raise increment every year. No bonuses. He was once promised a bigger raise, only to have it retracted later. ("well, I didn't clear it with management first, so they said no. It's not my fault, they're the ones who said no!") I quit, of course, but not as soon as I would have liked to. (there were complications financially and around my moving out of town) THIS is the context under which I made the comments in the "that's not my job" thread. I probably should have just quit, and suffered the financial consequences, rather than damage my consciousness by learning to stretch my real work out in order to avoid the "fake" work. There is, I am sure, even more horror to this story, but that's all I can think of right now.
  14. That's not my job!

    That's a good point. Of course, I am inadvertantly smuggling in some other context from my last job that rather changes the situation from what I have presented so far. Enough threadjacking, I will start a new thread.
  15. That's not my job!

    I am curious about this point. You are saying that, even if you know for a FACT that management will NOT recognize or reward one's hard work, one should still work hard? This conflicts with my sense of justice. In justice, if someone wants the full potential of what I can give them, they had BETTER be prepared to PAY for it. As I said in my example, that person should be looking for other work, unless there is some extenuating circumstances. Would you say that the person who "shrugs" at work and is looking for another job is still not doing the proper thing?