WORK AND LIFE BALANCE: THE RIGHT TO DISCONNECT – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have been interested in the balance between work life and personal life since the days of my first husband’s 60 plus hour work weeks at his New York City law firm. Working so much wreaked havoc with our home life and left me, effectively, a single parent most of the time.

The issue has been magnified with the advent of the 24/7 access to work via the internet. Employers can expect their employees to be available at all hours on all days. But there is some soul searching in the corporate world over how to reasonably limit employee’s accessibility and responsibility to the office.

To manage work stress, some companies provide massages, yoga classes, nap venues, and other wellness services during the workday. This is clearly not enough. There is a horror story out of Japan where a 31-year-old worker logged 159 hours of overtime in one month and worked herself to death.

France is concerned about workers becoming more and more connected to work, online, outside of the office and outside of office hours. France also seems to be taking the lead in legislating to correct the balance between work and life. The French believe that if you limit the amount of overwork, you also limit the amount of burnout and in the process, increase productivity on the job.

France takes the forward-looking position that it is beneficial for people to have downtime away from work. The French believe that workers have the right to draw a line when employers demands interfere with evenings or weekends at home and even vacation time.

So France passed a new provision in the Labor Law that requires companies with over 50 employees, to negotiate new rules to limit work and keep it from spilling into days off and after work hours. Labor consultants have suggested that one way to limit after-hours work is to avoid the ‘reply all’ function on group emails. That way, only one person, not everyone, has to read and respond to each email.

Another suggestion to achieve better work/life balance is to set a time limit for work communications. Some firms have designated the hours from 9 PM to 7 AM or 7 PM to 7 AM as off-limits to employers.

This makes sense to me and is easy to enforce.

In Germany, in 2013, The Labor Ministry ordered its supervisors not to contact employees outside of office hours. In 2011, Volkswagen shut off their BlackBerry servers at the end of the workday.

In Britain, they are studying the use of commuting time for work by employees with long train rides twice a day. They are looking to include commuting time as hours worked since employees are still accessible to employers online on their way to and from work.

Several other European countries are proposing changes in work rules that take long commutes into account. A European Tribunal last year decided a court case that could change how work hours are calculated across the continent. It ruled that in Norway, some employees can count their commutes as work time. The ruling acknowledged that as long as you are at the disposal of your employer, you are technically at work.

Recently, France’s highest court ordered a British company to pay an employee $70,000 after the company required employees to have their phones on at all times. They were expected to answer questions from clients and subordinates at any time, day or night.

The right to disconnect is becoming a battle cry for workers all over the world. We have to learn to balance the new technologies with human values and reasonable lifestyle choices. Permanent access doesn’t mean people should have to work all the time.

It will be interesting to see how these issues get resolved in the years to come.

CONTACT FROM TWITTER – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #70 – CONTACT


You might want to read this.

No, the prez didn’t put me on his list. Not the contact list or the “kill her before she writes something else” list. I’m not sure there really IS such a list, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Instead, I got this note from Twitter. So now, if you want your stuff to show up on Facebook, it’s going to be entirely cut and paste. Mind you, that’s not all that difficult or time-consuming. It’s the way I did it for at least four years of blogging. It’s just one more thing to bug me.

It has been a very buggy sort of week and keeping my mind right has not been easy. I feel like the world — the entire corporate entity we call the world — is out to get me on some level or other.

Maybe I should reconsider Instagram.


Twitter
Posting Tweets to Facebook
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Thanks,
Twitter


So there you have it.

I’m not really sure what the point of all of this is unless it’s yet another outcome of how much the various social media outlets dislike each other and don’t give a fig about us.

These corporations are always telling us how much we matter, but I’ve never seen anything which proves that they care about us at all, one way or the other. All they want is money. More and more of it. And, apparently, it doesn’t matter how much because there’s no limit to how much they will try and squeeze out of us.

If I could think of any other way to publicize the blog, I’d do it. Unfortunately, I can’t.

Twitter made contact.

Golly, what a pleasure to hear from them!

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – June 4, 2018

A piece of clothing from your younger childhood you still remember?

I don’t actually remember anything from childhood. I didn’t have anything special in the way of clothing. It looks just like everyone else’s clothing. Shorts. Shirts. Sneakers.

1952 – Typical childhood clothing. Not memorable
1953 – More memorable clothing

My mother made most of my clothing, so it probably was nice, but it certainly didn’t form much in the way of memories. I remember clothing from when I was a young woman, though … well … at least a few things.

Regardless of your physical fitness, coördination or agility: If you could be an athlete what would do?   Remember this is SYW, dreaming is always allowed.

Trapeze artist. I want to be a flyer!

In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger?

A passenger, absolutely. I used to like driving alone. I never enjoyed having other people commenting on my driving.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?

What happened last week? Was then when I got hacked? Or when we went to UMass Memorial? That’s when we got the new router, right?

Coming and going

I don’t remember anything. It has been wild and crazy and I don’t know what happened, except I must have come out of it okay, because … hey … here I am.

ODDBALLS – OR AT LEAST DIFFERENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge: April 15, 2018

Photo: Garry Armstrong

When you take a lot of pictures of anything, after a while, you are finished using them for their originally intended purpose and you get playful.

Graphic black & white LJ Ganser and Robin Miles
What light through yonder window breaks?

I took more than 600 pictures of the Tom and Ellin Curley VoiceScapes Audio Theater last weekend. I have diligently processed as many photographs as I felt made sense and weren’t simply duplicates of each other. I dare say there are more, but I’ve gotten through the main, first batch.

LJ Ganser, setting up the microphone
More setup – Sande Sherr, LJ Ganser, Robin Miles

Now, I’m into the “playful period” of trying to see what clever and unique ways I can process the same or similar shots. I think of it as “fun with filters.”

A WORLD-SHARING EVENT – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

Share Your World – April 9, 2018

Been anywhere recently for the first time?

Well yes, actually. We went to see VoiceScapes — the audio performance group of Tom and Ellin Curley. The show was at a library in New York. It was an audio performance and I got to be the photographer.

So, from loading the monumental amount of equipment to unloading it. Setting up. Rehearsing. Performing. Breaking down the set. Loading it all back into the car, then back to Connecticut.

I’m sure Ellin and/or Tom will write a bigger and better description of the event and maybe include some of the material. It was a lot of fun.

It was also something different and unique. Since I’m an audiobook devotee, I got to meet a few of the voices I have listened to and loved and watched them “do their thing.” It is always delicious to meet the people you admire.

It reminded me of a view Broadway shows with one or two actors doing the performance. This was five people. It was intimate — with a lot of laughter.

Along the road to Connecticut

We also had the wildest ride I ever remember where we experienced every form of weather — in a 3-1/2 hour drive which should have been 2 hours. From near-blizzard snow, to drenching rain, to sunshine, and glowing sunsets, we saw it all.

List three favorite book characters.

Impossible to name just three. I’ve read thousands of books and there are so many characters, I couldn’t imagine naming three– or even 103.

What is your favorite non alcoholic drink: hot or cold?

Real (not diet) Coke, with a bit of ice for a cold drink. Coffee, with a bit of half-and-half, for something hot.

Morning coffee is ready

You can’t choose hot OR cold. Coffee is the drink of the morning and Coke is an after dinner treat.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?

This was a good week for smiling. It was Garry’s birthday and we went to visit Ellin and Tom for the weekend. There was an event — a performance of Voicescapes on Garry’s birthday — which was Saturday, so we got to celebrate is birthday on Sunday instead.

A two-day birthday and a cake so delicious it would be hard to describe. A kind of crisp chocolate covering — not icing, more like melted chocolate that was then chilled to make is more chocolate. Chocolate cake with a pure whipped cream filling.

That was SO good!

Home again!

IT’S SHOWTIME! – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My audio theater group, VoiceScapes Audio Theater, has been performing live, one hour shows of short, original, contemporary pieces. We perform mostly at local libraries about an hour from our home.

Unloading
Down the ramp
Wheeling the box into the library

Libraries are a particularly good venue for us because two of our actors are popular, prolific, Audie Award winning book narrators, Barbara Rosenblat and Robin Miles. They are rock stars in the library and audio book worlds. So we get enthusiastic audiences of 30-40 people for each show.

Most important, we get the thrill of performing before a live audience!

Ellin Curley

I don’t perform because I am not an actor and we have professional actors who do all the acting. But I write most of the pieces we perform, along with my husband, Tom.

With the audience
Show time!

So I sit in the audience through the actual shows. It’s not the glamorous place to be. But I can’t tell you how awesome it is to feel the rapt attention of an audience and to hear wave after wave of laughter for something you have written. It’s an experience that is hard to describe. It’s beyond gratifying, approaching incredible!

But that’s the ‘sexy’ part of what we do. Nobody sees what goes on behind the scenes to get our show ready for prime time.

First, there’s the highly unglamorous task of packing up all our volumes of audio equipment. Microphones and mike stands, speakers, tons of wires to hook everything up, props like telephones, gaffers tape (of course), etc., etc. Tom has found canvas bags that fit most of the smaller items. These bags, along with eight bulky music stands, have to be brought up from the basement to the garage.

Barbara Rosenblat

Then we have to load the car. This is a highly precise and technical operation. Everything only fits if it’s all put in just right. We also have a giant ‘box’ that contains all the mixers and all the audio processing equipment. It’s on wheels but it weighs a ton. We have to jerry-rig ramps with pieces of wood to get this unwieldy piece of equipment up into the back of our SUV. This all takes plenty of blood, sweat and tears.

Once we arrive at our performance venue, the process has to be reversed. The giant box has to make it down the ramp and into the performance space. Everyone in the group chips in to help with all the unloading and setting up.

This involves dealing with lots of wires, which always seem to get tangled, no matter how careful you try to be. So untangling long expanses of wires is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the process. Once untangled, the wires all have to be plugged into and hooked up to the right mikes, speakers, outlets or whatever.

Once set up, all the equipment has to be tested and adjusted. If there’s more time before the show starts, we can squeeze in a quick run through of one or two of the more technical pieces.

The whole process, from arrival on site to show time, takes three hours! After the show, breaking everything down and packing it back up again, only takes about 45 minutes, with everyone helping out. It’s much faster to break down a complex set up than to get it up and running. Thank goodness!

L. J. Ganser and Robin Miles

After the show, the cast (and I ) get to go out for drinks and a late lunch or early dinner. Hanging out together is one of the best perks of doing live performances. It’s a great reward for all the hard work we put in to put on a show.

The cast – from left to right, Tom, Barbara Rosenblat, Ellin, Sue Zizza, Sande Sherr, and behind, Robin Miles and L.J. Ganser

Check out our website at https://www.voicescapesaudiotheater.com and hear some of our fully produced material. Go to our Facebook page and friend and follow us to keep up with what we’re doing as a group and as individual performers.