Dinner with Ivan / Jumping Times to Post


-- चार हजार दो सौ और बीस-सात --

There are certain things Ivan doesn't pay attention to that I find strange -- such as, say, the rate of sick time he accrues at his job. Apparently they don't give pay stubs and you can only access them online where he works, and he never bothered to log in and look at them until last week -- and he's worked there something like a year and a half! I guess he just looked at whatever got automatically deposited into his checking account when he got paid and called it a day? Anyway, that's how he discovered he had nine days of sick time pending even though he's leaving the job next month. Had he known earlier, he told me last night, he would have used them all up months ago, particularly when dealing with a manager (who is no longer there) that he couldn't stand.

In the meantime, though, he now has a new manager who annoys him so much he decided to call in sick on Friday -- and yesterday. That whole scenario is alien to me, even though I know it's widely common in jobs where that's how people often get time off, by "calling in sick" even if they aren't actually sick. I guess he told them yesterday he was "still" feeling "nauseated and weak," suggesting possible flu, which, of course, no one would want around. "You want to come up with something that could be contagious at least," he said, citing the transparent bullshit other people use when he's the one answering the phone to hear others aren't coming in -- stuff as simple and ridiculous as having a headache.

I'm not sure I could even enumerate the number of ways I am incredibly lucky in the job I have. I've been here fifteen years and I've never even come close to using up all the sick time available, because I've never needed to -- honestly or otherwise. I miss work for sickness one or two days a year at most. I did once last January and I don't think I have since, if I remember right. And I said to Ivan last night, "If I really wanted to I could call up work and say, 'I don't feel like working today.' As long as it didn't affect my work load or adversely affect other people at work." Hell, even two Fridays ago, the Friday before New Year's Eve, I took half a day off to join Danielle and her daughters for lunch and then MoPop -- and I didn't make that decision until the very day before. No one put up any protests at all when I sent out the Outlook notice that I'd be leaving the next day at noon. Truly no one gives a shit.

A couple of years ago we merged vacation and sick time into a single "PTO" (paid time off) umbrella anyway. I get so much PTO it's ridiculous, and it's why I cash out a ton every December. I earn 10.83 hours of PTO for every 40 hours I work, which works out to 281.58 hours a year, or the equivalent of 35.2 work days, or seven weeks. Under the old system with actual sick time, I think something like 40 of those hours would have been sick time, leaving six weeks vacation per year. Who the hell actually takes that much? Thus, I do love the option of cashing out balances at the end of the year.

Anyway, having taken sick days on both Friday and yesterday, I saw quite a bit more of Ivan than usual over the past four days -- in spite of him being out most of the day Sunday. He was home much of the evenings both on Friday and last night; last night he even hung out in the living room reading his book on his iPhone, even though Shobhit and I were watching one of my Netflix movies (Glengarry Glen Ross -- just okay) he clearly had no interest in.

And I'll freely admit that this was largely an attempt on my part to stack Ivan's Social Review points while I still can: I asked him on Saturday if he'd be interested in going out for pho' either on Sunday or Monday, and he said, "Fine." I kind of predictably didn't happen on Sunday since Shobhit cooked a bunch of food and we were also watching the Golden Globe Awards. But I messaged him yesterday morning to ask if by any chance he was interested in getting pho' later that evening, and again he responded, Fine.

So, now he's got three points already for the next Social Review. With five weeks left before he leaves, that's plenty of time for him to get up to four, or maybe even five, and with him leaving more than a month before winter even ends, I can be satisfied with that. He may even still rank #3 again, although I'll be kind of surprised if he does. Karen or Evan could beat him to that position this time. I just don't want him to sink down into the teens or something.

Ivan had suggested 6:00 when I proposed between 5:30 and 6, and we wound up leaving much closer to 6:30. He decided at 5:30 he wanted to go for a run down in the gym first. It was nearly 6 when he got back, and of course he had to take a shower first.

Shobhit opted to do something else and did not join us. Ivan and I walked to The Pho' on Broadway, largely in silence, but sitting at our table over dinner, it was a much more pleasant and engaging meal with him than usual. That's not to say it's ever unpleasant, but much more typically he spends a lot of time just looking at his phone while we sit in silence, chatting only intermittently. Last night he was very engaged, and we had particularly nice and intellectually stimulating conversation, about relationships, about his travel plans, about Drew, about the logistics of his move to Vancouver once he returns from Europe in the late spring. I guess he intends just to sublet for the summer in Vancouver until he finds a more permanent place. I don't know why I didn't even think of that as his likely plan; he's been subletting pretty much all the years he's lived in Seattle as it is. He must have plenty saved up -- and, as he noted last night, he's moved to an unfamiliar city several times before already, and he never has any real problem finding places to live or to work. He does know he really does not want to continue working in nursing. He's also told me before he has no other particular skill than as a nurse, so I'm not sure how that will work out. I'm sure it will work out somehow, though. "Everything will be fine," he said -- actually an unusually optimistic attitude for him (although come to think of it, I wouldn't say he's ever defeatist about his own future, either).

In any case, I felt like we really connected there for a while, and it was really nice. He came somewhat close even to getting sentimental, which is not something he ever does. I can't remember what I said to prompt this, but at one point he said to me, "You're very smart, Matthew."

"I know you're being kind of sarcastic," I said, "but I'll take my compliments from you where I can get them."

"No, you are," he said, surprisingly slightly earnest. "You're a smart friend." I felt like this was the closest he's ever gotten to telling me that I mean something to him. He's never really had to say it anyway; he's fairly well demonstrated already that I do. He even added: "You give good advice." I do? That was the least expected thing he said.

We had finished our pho', and he said, "What do you want to do now?" I replied, "I don't know, you want to do something?" He said, "We could sit here and just talk for several hours." He was clearly being a little facetious, but I said I'd actually be happy with that. I love talking, when the conversation is engaging. The challenge is keeping it going once we kind of run out of things to talk about. He actually got up to get going not long after that, which was fine. The time I spent with him was quite pleasant as it was, and even though there are still several weeks before he leaves, I'm really glad to have gotten it.

Shobhit was home when we returned, and when I put on Glengarry Glen Ross, I was kind of surprised by how into it Shobhit was. I figured the script would be good since it was based on a David Mamet play, but honestly? I found a lot of it to come across as very dated and a little contrived. Also there was not a single woman in the cast, which I thought about before Shobhit mentioned it out loud himself.

-- चार हजार दो सौ और बीस-सात --


-- चार हजार दो सौ और बीस-सात --

In other news, I decided to cancel my New York Times digital subscription -- on principle. I had already been debating recently whether to cancel that and subscribe to the Washington Post, whose editorial decisions seem to have a lot more integrity lately. I signed up for the New York Times because I generally enjoy the writing in its articles and I wanted to contribute to keeping at least one newspaper company afloat. I felt like, even with its faults, the New York Times was arguably the best newspaper in the country.

But, over time, I've come to understand that the Times has a long-established bias toward pandering to Trump voters, and especially against Hillary Clinton, what with exponentially more coverage on her ridiculous and unfounded email scandals than all other issues relating to her combined, which massively contributed to an unfairly skewed perception of her as a viable candidate -- and, like far too much of the rest of this media in this country, just handing free publicity over to Trump because of all his sensationalist bullshit.

And then they tweeted this yesterday: "Did you vote for Donald Trump for president? We’d like to hear from you." Are you fucking kidding me? How many pieces do we need hearing from people who voted for this genuine fuckwit -- when literally more people in the country voted for Hillary! Where the fuck are the pieces hearing from people who voted for her, who were actually in the majority but she only lost because of the electoral college? I am so, so sick of this bullshit.

I saw another person reply, "Really @nytimes are you just daring everyone to cancel their subscriptions?" A perfectly good question.

So I replied to that person, "This may be the final straw that finally makes me do just that, which I have been considering for some time. I bought it to begin with to support at least one newspaper . . . @WashingtonPost, maybe?"

And I am truly astonished by the amount of exposure that one tweet has gotten -- some 24,000 impressions just as I write this! It has gotten so many likes (323), replies (30) and retweets (12) that my mentions have blown up in a way nothing I have ever tweeted before has -- to the point that I got a message from Twitter asking if I wanted to apply filters! Every time I looked at Twitter again there would be 16 or 20 or more new notifications, and it got a little ridiculous there for a bit.

On the upside, amongst those replies I learned something pretty great that I did not know: if you have an Amazon Prime membership (and I do), that gets you a six-month free trial to the Washington Post -- which as pretty much everyone knows by I forgot, now owns that paper! And after six months, the subscription cost is all of $3.99 a month.

I had been paying the New York Times $7.50 a month for my digital access, and that was on a half-off promotion deal, and it didn't even include the subscription to the crossword, which itself was something like $35 a year. I went to sign up for the six month trial to the Washington Post, and once I gained access, I went to see if they had crosswords of their own. and they do -- although you have to sit through an ad once you click on them, but whatever, I can live with that. It's way better than paying extra for them. They are apparently actually Los Angeles Times crosswords, which I find odd, but, okay. The thing is, Shobhit feels like I am wasting money on the Times crossword subscription if we don't do it every day (I disagree), and this should make him feel better. I know the New York Times crossword is the famous one and widely regarded as the best, but a lot of them are too challenging, so I figure this new scenario will potentially work out better from all fronts. We can just do them whenever we feel like it rather than being obliged to get our money's worth; they may actually be easier (and thus more fun; that remains to be seen); and I can get news from a source I feel has more integrity. Several people responded yesterday on Twitter that they had also canceled their subscriptions, switched to the Washington Post, and never regretted it. Just this morning I switched my Google Alert for web pages with both "nytimes.com" and "seattle" on it, to "washingtonpost.com" and "seattle." I still feel like coverage of our local news is less dumb from the national paper source than from, say, Seattle Times itself.

Another annoying thing about the New York Times: they don't allow you to cancel your subscription online, which is more than a tad archaic in the Internet age. You have to make a phone call to cancel. At least I got a live person in relatively short order, and the very nice lady did ask me, "Does this decision have anything to do with Glenn Thrush or Trump?" Clearly they are hearing this from a lot of people.

I couldn't remember who Glenn Thrush was -- I knew I'd heard the name -- and looked him up later. He's the White House correspondent who was suspended after allegations of sexual misconduct. But, my answer to the lady was still: "Yes. Trump." That's all she needed. She didn't badger me except to say she was "authorized" to offer me this seemingly great deals clearly designed to keep me from canceling, but I had completely made up my mind, and she could obviously sense that. She even apologized for asking me those questions, and I said, "It's fine, I know you have to ask me that stuff." My answers were so clear and to the point that she thanked me for being so easy ("I'm probably not supposed to tell you this," she also said). I hope for her sake that the Times eventually regains some of its integrity and retains readership so people like her can stay employed. But, for now, I'm shifting my allegiance to the Washington Post.

It's astute timing, too, after just seeing the movie The Post with Laney on Sunday. And yesterday I Googled "new york times vs. Washington post" and, I didn't realize this, but as of 2015 the Post beat the Times in web traffic. I find that at least somewhat telling. I think the writing may feel a little different and thus taking some slight getting used to, but right now I'm feeling good about this shift, for several reasons.

-- चार हजार दो सौ और बीस-सात --

I just hung out over lunch with Claudia here at work, sitting at the bar seating facing the windows with the foggy-rainy view of the Puget Sound. It was quite pleasant, both the conversation and the view. We even saw a seal swimming in the water. I love working here so much.

-- चार हजार दो सौ और बीस-सात --


[posted 12:28 pm]