Leave it at work.

When you wake up early on a Saturday morning because a mobile device from your work is going off, you work too much.  If you think that checking a work email eveneings and weekends is ‘normal’ or ‘a part of your job’, you work too much.  If your work cell phone rings when you’re on vacation in the middle of the Sahara, you work too much.

The internet is a wonderful tool.  Blackberrys are wonderful tools.  Remote access to the workplace is a wonderful tool.  All of these great tools make us more effective at doing our jobs.  They give us ease, and speed, which is as it should be.  They should not become excuses for allowing your job to take over your life.

In a recent survey, almost half the respondents said mobile technologies make it harder to disconnect from work when they are supposed to be off.  46% said they increase the amount of time they are expected to work.  That’s unacceptable.  If a company requires someone to be available day and night, you hire multiple shifts of workers.  If there’s an situation that requires someone to be in touch in addition to typical work hours, the word is ‘overtime’.  You don’t expect mobile technologies to raise the amount of hours someone works, whether inside or outside the office.

In an emergency, a company might need to contact an individual during vacation or when they are off the clock.  But when that contact becomes habit, and occurs daily or even weekly, that’s a breech of the employment agreement.  We have labor laws for a reason.  If you’re off the clock, either stay off the clock or demand from your employer what you legally deserve.

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A sad end.

A body found off the coast of Brazil was recently identified as that of the flying-balloon-man priest, the Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli.

While this ending was expected, with such a long time passing since the man was last heard from,  I still find it sad and slightly depressing.  So instead of lingering on that, I’d like to turn to something more positive, namely, what did we learn from these events?

There are several possible lessons.  Should we learn that balloon take-offs, even with careful preparation, are dangerous? Probably.  Should we refrain therefore from this and other ridiculous practices just due to potential danger?  I should hope not.  This man had a sense of joy, and a sense of responsibility.  I hope that those of us still living would be able to combine both as effectively.

True Story

A few days ago, a woman named Olive Riley passed away in NSW.  She was 108, almost 109, and was called the world’s oldest blogger by many.  She was a popular blogger and visited by people across the world as she shared her life’s story in short vignettes and told the day to day life of her current existence.  That’s what many bloggers do – share their lives through the medium of the internet, allowing us to connect with yet another person across time and distance.

Anyone beyond the age of five has at least one story.  Anyone at that age has a vast resource of life spent to draw upon and share, which we seldom recognize.  I can remember a woman from my church who I visited to use as a source her memories of the WPA when I was doing a history paper.  We sat together in her living room and I asked her questions, but our conversation went far beyond that as my eyes were arrested by different objects around the rooms.  I remember the copper watering cans she got on her trip to Germany and the stained glass windows she had created herself, this and every room packed with the remnants of a life well-lived, a life filled with hidden stories.

I think of my grandfather, and going through his things after he passed away.  I think of visiting him in a nursing home, listening to him tell the same stories over and over again, and how they must have circled just the same when we were not there to listen.  I wonder what other stories were lost to him and us as well as his memory faded.  I wonder what he could’ve told me about the wooden fan and small ceramic vase he left behind for me to claim.  I try to make an effort to ask my parents their stories – who did you love before you met each other?  How did you decide what to study in school?  What are your favorite memories of your own parents?  I want to claim as much as I can, while I can, to find the hidden secrets of my own life, couched in others.