The Sound of Summer

Near me, it is fireworks.

Sometime after Memorial Day weekend, the seasonal shops open up for selling fireworks.

It's technically illegal to set off fireworks on days that aren't a holiday (or adjacent to a holiday on the calendar). However, the region has had fireworks in the air most weekends since the end of May.

More recently, it's been many weeknights, too.

This is a significant change, but probably affected when the State normalized the sale of fireworks. Previously, anyone who wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July had to go out of State (or to an Indian Reservation) to purchase fireworks. This had become common enough on the 4th of July that eventually the State legislators figured out a way to make sale of fireworks legal in the State.

Once it became legal to perform such business locally, the locals began purchasing fireworks (and setting them off) on a regular basis in the Summer.


Post Father's Day part 2: music

There's a certain kind of song that can only be found in the world of Country music.

It's the kind of song that is good to hear on Father's Day--a song about the interaction between a father and a son. A song which includes a man praying to God, that he can become a better man and a better example for his son.


Post Father's Day

In honor of Dad, we celebrated Father's Day with a family meal. It was followed by a road trip to visit Grandpa, and greet most of the extended family.

What does Father's Day mean to me?

Dad taught me how to diagnose many kinds of car problems. He acquainted me with ways to use math, before I met the challenge of feeling that math was boring.

He introduced me to electronics and computers; providing the foundation for a career as a professional programmer.

And he read books.

Many evenings, Dad and the family sat together as Dad read books to us. Adventure books, biographies, stories from ancient culture, and intellectual discourse.

For much of my childhood, books were the primary family entertainment of an evening. Television was a sidelight, often only used for a few rented movies.

This Father's Day, I feel a small pang--I have no children of my own. However, I am very glad for the father that I do have, and mostly happy about the path I've taken in life.


Weekend Event: wish I was more than just a musician

It wasn't much.

A fellow musician, a man who leads worship at a small religious group I am part of, asked me to help with something this weekend.

The event was a Tent Revival meeting at a small church in Detroit.


Sad news

The news from South Carolina is not good.

With dark reflection, I note that there's a law against carrying weapons into church in that State. Or at least, a law against holders of Concealed-Carry Licenses doing that.

It's not like anyone would ever need to defend themselves in a church.


Black Markets

Over at Arms and the Law, I see a story about theft.

The objects stolen were firearms (newly-manufactured, most likely in transit to a dealer). The thieves sold the firearms to like-minded criminals.

A couple of the criminals were caught, and confessed.

This kind of story is rare; but it points out several things. Among them, that laws about background checks don't get in the way of criminals who are capable of finding and stealing what they want.

I wonder what the insurance costs were on that shipment, and who the insurer was...


Work Daze

A few questions were raised elsewhere about overtime and employment.

I'm working as a programmer, at a company that takes sales-contracts from the Detroit 3 Auto Manufacturers.

In my field, some co-workers are programmers who work on contract (and are paid an hourly rate, but don't receive most of the benefits of a salaried employee for the Corporation).

Others are direct-employees of the Corporation.

Though we technically have a 40-hour week, there have been times when urgency of deadlines (or the massive number of incomplete tasks) has resulted in employees and contractors working many hours above the typical 40. Contractors get paid time-and-a-half for those hours. Employees sometimes get promises of extra time off, or are told that the extra work may be considered when the Annual Review is done, and the Bonus is computed.

When the sales were growing, there was much talk of hard work and future reward. The company was growing, and was hard pressed in finding new people to do the work. Now, there is talk of trimming and streamlining.

In all that, I've seen some people transition from contractor to employee. I've also seen employees leave, deciding that an offer from a competitor was more attractive than staying under the current pressure.

Overall, there is a sense that some exempt employees are working harder than others. But there isn't (at the moment) a sense that all employees might be called on to work long hours. A year ago, that requirement was possible every month.

I'm not sure whether this particular kind of employment fits well into either box: the salaried/exempt employee, or the contract/hourly employee. But the lawyers, executives, and HR Department have to adjust to employment law. So I have to be one or the other. (Currently, I'm an exempt/salaried employee. I spent three years at a previous company as a contractor, and then spent two years at the current Company as a contractor.)

There's likely some efficiency loss in the interactions between Employee and Contractor. However, there would also be efficiency loss in bringing on Employees who won't be kept around after a year. So Management, and Senior Management, try to find a balance that is efficient. Or at least, less inefficient than any alternative.