Is The Gap Really Raising Minimum Wage For Their Workers?

The Gap actually announced this back in February, but it’s taking effect now, along with the Gap’s PR blitz. If The Gap thinks it’s good for their business, by all means, they should raise their rates. However, I think there is another way to look at what they are really doing.

Where I work, no one makes minimum wage. You can’t attract the talent we need by paying the minimum wage. Should we be applauded? Nah, that’s just how it is. I think the Gap is transitioning the skillset of their workforce, a raising of the bar. They’ve said things like “It’s actually increased the applicant pool for us” and “a reserve-in-store” program instituted about 18 months ago required a skilled, motivated and loyal sales force to help customers who visited the stores to pick up items reserved online and perhaps persuade them to buy matching apparel or shoes”, and “We’re going to need to assure that we have the best talent in our store.”

This all sounds like they need more skilled workers and they need to pay more than minimum skill set wages. Lots of businesses pay better for skilled labor. They don’t hire the unskilled.

One question for me is if you were a teenager and needed a job, could you get a GAP job under the previous wage regime, and what are your chances now with the new wage regime. By the Gap’s own words, the unskilled are going to have more competition and barrier to entry. That is the stated consequence of this change.

I will not place a good or bad value on this, because I assume the Gap knows what it’s doing here, but the media narrative seems to be missing a major aspect of their change. In fact,

With Congress Stalling, Gap & IKEA Move Ahead To Raise Minimum Wage « CBS Pittsburgh.

Looking at #TAM 3.0

As a software engineer I can’t help but use version numbers. Just my natural way of looking at things. As #TAM2014 moves closer and closer, I’m getting more excited about attending but I’m also looking back at the old TAM’s to observe and appreciate the change. My arbitrary break points for the different versions are my opinions only, but I do think they align roughly correct. Of course, I would love to hear from other people!

TAM 1.0: TAM 1

The first one! Obviously, this one holds a special place because it was the first one, oh, and I was there! I had a great time, socialized just a tiny bit, and suffered a freak injury. I sat in a position for so long without moving, I pinched off the blood supply to a nerve in my leg, and ended up minor nerve damage. For years it was a struggle to curl my toes, but that seems to be a non-issue these days. This minor affliction is a weird, constant reminder of that first conference. The Columbia Disaster happened while I was there (it was held in Florida), I got to meet James Randi, and I came home completely energized, a feeling that continues to happen even today.

TAM 2.0: TAM 4

I was unable to attend TAM 2 and TAM 3, so this demarcation of 2.0 of when I could attend seems self serving. However, I looked a lot at the different TAMs for this. Looking at attendance numbers, speaker lists, and venue TAM 4 seems to be the conference that signified TAM was here to stay. Over 800 people attended, and it was the second year in a row that TAM was at the now demolished Stardust Hotel & Casino. This feels and looks like a conference that had taken root for good. Since this is the most arbitrary of my three versions, this is one I would love to hear more opinions on.

TAM 3.0 TAM 2012

While some might say 2011 was the “break” from the past, I think it’s 2012 and I view this “break” to be the best thing that ever happened to TAM. The audience seems to have expanded, and the goals appear to be clearer and more focused. There was a push, that so far has been resisted, to align the JREF/skepticism with American progressive political values, but that seems to be on the wane in terms of effectiveness. Later in 2012, “Atheism+” attempted to fill that space (I know skepticism != atheism, but not everyone knows that), but it has completely failed to gain any traction. Meanwhile, JREF and TAM remain strong.

There have been some losses along the way, of which I’m not sure how to evaluate yet. As has been pointed out by many, Phil Plait has pretty much stopped talking about skepticism and seems to focus on astronomy on his blog, and name checking on Twitter. Hal Bidlack, who I will never forget handling the Columbia Disaster at TAM 1, has dropped out after being the emcee for so many years at TAM. There are faces, whose names I don’t know, that I haven’t seen in TAM in a few years.

This is probably the way it always happens in any endeavor like TAM. This year, I’ve heard, that registration was up for TAM over last year. The audience has expanded. Having constant leadership at the JREF for the last few years hasn’t always seemed like a blessing, but I think we’re seeing the results of constant leadership that stays true to a core set of values, as opposed to taking a poll. There are already enough organizations willing and ready to take on various political and social justice issues, but not nearly enough skeptic organizations. Keeping the JREF on mission has been a huge boon, and we should all thank DJ Grothe for that.

Who knows what TAM 4.0 will look like, but I do expect to be around!

SiriusXM is back!

For me anyway.  I can’t speak for anyone else.  There was a time when I really liked listening to radio but radio has gotten really bad.  It’s what drove me to SiriusXM to begin with.

Then I started listening to a lit of podcasts and SiriusXM only over the internet.  For some reason this morning I felt like setting up my old desktop radio.  Setup my channel favorites and hear we go. 

What Is It About Three Weeks and Breaking Habits?

About three weeks ago I had my fill with tech news and tech blogs. (I reserve the right to not list everyone here, even if I would be accused of “vaguebooking” or “vagueblogging”.) I simply could not stand to listen to the empty, shallow analysis that passes for tech commentary these days. I was also a little burned out. In what might sound like hypocrisy I was on an Android based podcast, though, I firmly believe the podcast tries to go away beyond the shallow analysis. It’s one reason I liked being on. However, I have a very busy startup I’m working on, I have a full life at home, and I wanted to try some new things. So I formally quit the podcast.

I was a creature of habit with podcasts. Every monday morning, I would listen to This Week in Tech. I’ve been a listener for years, but even that show has peaked and slowly slid. In order to have variety, you must have on a lot of different people, but truthfully, there are only a handful of people who really know anything that work in tech news. I was tired of listening to people get it wrong over and over again. The rest of the podcasts I would listen to throughout the week suffered the same problem. It’s annoying to hear people pontificate on things they clearly barely know or understand. Due to how busy I’ve been I was probably guilty of that myself on the podcast I was on, which also pushed me to quit.

So how am I doing three weeks later?

Honestly, there are tech blogs and tech podcasts I’ve already forgotten about. I thought I would be tempted to go back, to fill my ears with stuff, just to pass the time, but I’m finding that there are whole swaths of things I could listen to instead. I’ve gotten back to listening to more music. It’s so cliche to say (probably because it’s true) but music and the exploration of music has been so important in my life. There were a lot of lonely days in my “formative years” and music provided an escape while I bided my time until I things would get better (disclaimer: I didn’t have things really bad, but I was still depressed and lonely a lot). It’s perhaps a little harder for a nearly 40 year old to keep exploring music, with so much of popular music youth based, but I make a decent go of it.

I don’t know if three weeks is truly enough to “break a habit”, but I find people, websites, and podcasts are falling out of my memory pretty easily. Rage bloggers, drama bloggers, shallow bloggers, both who infest skepticism and tech news, are no longer occupying much time in my day. In fact, for some, I hadn’t thought about them until I wrote this post. I consider this habit broken.

Now if only I could break my late night snacking habit so easily….

#TAM2014 : Like Going Back to School

The other night I had one of those classic “you’re back in school” dreams. Despite the fact that I’m almost forty, and high school was a mere 4 years out of my life, I still occasionally have dreams about being in high school or sometimes college. I think part of this is that for a number of years, I was a college dropout. I left college to go to work for a startup and then stayed for fifteen years. It never bothered me that I didn’t finish for a while, it was just unexpected. I think that is part of why I have these dreams even though I eventually did finish with a degree. I still have visions of going back to school and starting over, if I ever go into some sort of retirement.

But for now, I rely on one event every year that satisfies my education desires: The Amazing Meeting. I’ve been lucky enough attend nine previous TAM’s and a tenth is just a few weeks away. Every time I go, I hear great, dare I say, amazing presentations, discussions, and ideas. Now that I’ve tried to be more social, it’s become even more collaborative. I used to be too shy to speak up in workshops, but I’m getting past that every day. It’s really like going back to school each year, since so much is packed into such a dense timeline.

A number of TAM’s ago, they moved the meeting from January to July to accommodate more teachers going. Well, as has been reported by DJ Grothe and Barbara Drescher, we have a good number of teachers who applied for and received educational grants to attend TAM. This is awesome and I’m glad I’ve been able to help directly and indirectly with donations. After all, the E in JREF stands for “Educational”. Anything that helps that mission is a plus.

So in roughly three weeks, I head to #TAM2014. I’ll take notes, buy books, and write down which presentations I want to catch on DVD or Youtube, and make some new friends. Exactly like going back to school.

Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives But Not My Attention

I watched this show just for the possible camp factor, but it’s truly awful. I don’t know if anyone involved takes as serious as they appear to onscreen, but I could only watch maybe 20 minutes before turning it off forever. Dreadfully boring. There has to be genuine mystery to make something like this work. In this case, there is little mystery. The attempt to use a picture of a human in a snowsuit as a possible Yeti picture is beyond pathetic.

If you want to watch a decent movie about Dyatlot pass watch Devil’s Pass. You’ll have a much better time.

Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives : Discovery Channel.