gardens, red onions, job hunting and thinking of China

This weekend seems to have flown by, most pleasantly by and large.

Decent weather yesterday, a little warm for walking my dog, he was pecht getting back, I was too. Then worked on my garden in the afternoon, with number two daughter assisting.

Part of the joy of gardening is that it is all a bit of a playground. It really doesn't matter all that much what you do, it will all pretty much grow back anyway. So I just play about with what I think might be interesting or fun. In that spirit, I just gave number two daughter a quick tour of the garden, explaining what I thought needed done, and asked her to choose what to do. For some reason they always seem to want to trim the hedge, until they actually start wielding the shears and realise that it is hard work.

She concentrated on weeding out a little flower bed, and then transfered in a couple of box plants that I would like to shape into something geometric when they get big enough. I also got her to trim a box plant that I'm just trimming into a globe shape, it is surprisingly difficult trimming something to be round in three dimensions. I weeded the veg patch and lifted the red onions that I have been growing, they are now sitting in the cold frame to dry off. There is a certain quiet glory in harvested food. My damson tree, which clearly suffers vertigo as it is striving to avoid any great height, tying itself in bushy knots, has maybe a dozen gorgeous purple damsons growing. Not enough for jam, but good to see.

Otherwise, I've been playing around with a pedometer. There was a free pedometer in the house, so I gave that a go. And found out that :
I actually do more than 10,000 steps most days, without any particular effort.
I do less steps at the weekend, because I don't have to walk to catch public transport and everything in my house is closer to hand, obviously.
the most annoying thing about a cheap pedometer is when it resets itself, losing my awesome daily stepcount!!!

I've ordered one on Amazon, and once it arrives, I will try and develop some sort of exercise regime based on tracking my steps. Also ordered Cousin Basilio (book), which I seem to remember was good, and Coup de Torchon, the Bertrand Tavernier film, which I remember enjoying.

I'll try and build up a little stock of arty filmhouse type films that I remember being good. I've recently got State of Things (Wim Wenders) and the Saragossa Manuscript (Jan Potocki book, Wojciech Has film) and enjoyed watching them both.

I have been patiently adding the odd book or DVD onto my Amazon wishlist, but last time I looked half of them were unavailable, so clearly I need to go that extra step and actually buy some of these things, rather than leaving them skulking on my wishlist.

Otherwise, being playing about with Kuler, got a couple of awesome teeshirts from RedBubble. All is relatively quiet at work, so finding productive and sensible things to do with this largesse of time.

Autumn is here, keen to get out and get brambles, went out a few weeks ago and they were not yet ripe, but the back road where I usually do my brambling should be about ready now, so I'll need to get out.

Watched Benefits Busters, then chatted about it when getting my hair cut. All amazed at how much single mums can get in benefits and how well they seem to do without doing any work whatsoever. I suppose for society it makes more sense for a single mum with four children to bring her children up full time, rather than going out to earn the minimum wage. However being detached from the job market while the children grow up is not a great long term option. It is incredible just how unscientific getting jobs is. You can study all you like, getting a job still seems to be pot luck at the end of the day. In China the state decides what you are going to do before you even go to university, a system that does have something to recommend it!

There is a bit of a difference in how people think about work.

There is the view that work is basically unpleasant, and you only do it if you really have to, and get paid. And even then you are duty bound to do as little as you can possibly get away with. Doing more than that is breaking solidarity with other workers and is encouraging employers to take liberties, or raise the bar unacceptably on the level of effort they deem sufficient and appropriate.

Alternatively there is the view that work is part of who you are, how you define yourself and how the world sees you. Therefore you strive to work to the best of your abilities and take a pride in your work.

I was initially tempted to say that this was a class difference, but I don't think that it is so much to do with the person doing the work, as the type of work. A craftsman would always take a pride in his craft, someone bashing out widgets probably won't. I suppose that a lot of people have been stuck with a bad experience of work where there is no merit in working hard, where the culture is to do as little as possible. That attitude does not transfer well into more modern jobs where the worker is expected to constantly innovate and challenge themselves.

There is a third catagory beyond these two. It is not so much what you do, as what you say you do. If you can say with conviction that your job is critical to your employer, then if your job is unique, and it is vaguely plausible then people will probably believe you. So in differentiated, skills based roles, the ability to sell yourself arguably becomes more important than ability. This is because it is difficult to put any useful metric on a unique job. So the outward perception becomes reality. Part of this mentality is that every job is a stepping stone to another job.

For an employer the risk is that people move shamelessly into the third catagory.

Finally some more musings. China and India seem to be pursuing very different economic models. India is going for a service based economy, whereas China is going for a manufacturing based economy. On this basis, I suspect that India has made the better choice for the long term. Just a thought.