Friday, April 29, 2016

Hours are the fury

My employment contract includes a requirement to work a minimum of 48 hours a week over six days. In keeping with plenty of senior posts, overtime isn’t payable, and we all put in additional hours as required to get the job done. The contract also allows 30 calendar days of paid annual leave, which amounts to roughly 22 working days off, and public holidays can bump this back up to 30.

Actually, deducting short Ramadan working days and public holidays results in around 2100 billable hours per year.

Fundamentally, a 365 day year amounts to 335 working days, which is around 4.3 – call it five - weeks off every year.

I work in a smoke-free environment. As smoking isn’t illegal, any smokers have to leave the building and stand outside for their nicotine fix. And that too is fine, because I don’t wish to work in a smoky office and it would be gross hypocrisy if I, an occasional pipe, cigar, and shisha smoker, demanded that tobacco be banned. So this is not an anti-smoking rant.

How much time do smoke breaks take? It certainly adds up:

Total 10 minutes seems not unreasonable, from desk to lift to outside and back again.
Assume four breaks a day. Two in the morning, two in the afternoon. Pre-work, post-work, and lunchtime don’t count.

Over a five day working week, that’s 3h20’.
Over a year that’s 47 x 3h20’ = 156 hours or over 18 working days; three working weeks.

And throughout this time, the non-smokers continue to sit at their desks and presumably work.

So here’s my suggestion for equity in the workforce. Non-smokers, or at least those employees who never take smoke breaks, get an additional three weeks of paid annual leave booked to the project.

It’s only fair, innit?


Sunday, April 10, 2016

That's sandy

Back in Doha after a week’s welcome break, the Goat finds it necessary to put hoof to keyboard in a brief “I went to that Desert Challenge again” web diary entry.

As he flew into Sharjah late on Thursday night on an astonishingly inexpensive Air Arabia, The Goat was unable to get up at sparrowfart on Friday and go to Yas Marina to help out with the scrutineering. Instead, he charged up his bike’s battery and pottered around the Crumbling Villa in Beloved Wife’s absence. The said Beloved Wife was jollying around St Petersburg at the time: that’s the baroque one in Russia and not the one in Florida.

The cats were both out when the Goat arrived and settled down for a quick pie and a pint before bed. They came in through the cat flap and when they discovered that the Goat had landed, it was as if all their birthdays had come at once on Christmas Day. A long session of cat-lap later, the Goat retired to his bed and slept the deep sleep of the extremely relieved not to be in Qatar.

Saturday would see the Desert Challenge Super Special Stage in Al Fursan, Abu Dhabi around a dirt track that included some extremely damp areas owing to recent rain. But first some running around Dubai by motorcycle on some errands. The Goat arrived in Abu Dhabi too early, and was assigned traffic control duty all day. This – unfortunately – meant that he saw precisely zero racing and missed delights such as this.

OK, so now all the competitors had been around the track two at a time and their times recorded, their positions for Saturday’s start were determined. The Goat picked up his goody bag full of this year’s marshals’ shirts and his car numbers, and then headed back to Dubai, running the gauntlet of ya shabab on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai road where there is allegedly an enforced 140km/h speed limit.

An early night was mandated by an incredibly early start on Sunday. The Goat had to be at White Sands ADNOC by 0730, and that’s halfway down Hameem Road in the back of beyond. He was up on his hind legs before the sparrows had even finished their sprout curry, and rendezvoused with the rest of the Finish Team. The convoy set off a further 30km south to the Special Stage 1 finish. They set up the Flying Finish and Finish Stop, and waited for the first competitor to arrive. Once everyone had been through the gate and got their finish times, the Finish Team packed up and headed to the bivouac near Qasr Al Sarab for luxury camping. Electric light and power in the tent, nearby warmish running water and for now civilised loos, and food.

Finish post. In the rain!
And repeat for five Special Stages across the planet Jakku. An Imperial Star Destroyer crash landed here some time back, but it has now been dismantled and removed.

The bivouac. Probably a remark hereabouts concerning a hive of scum and villainy
At closure of SS-05, the Finish Team headed back to Yas and dropped off all the marshalling kit. The Goat drove to the Ceremonial Finish, but arrived too soon and was selected from a host of applicant to undertake traffic control. Generally speaking, competitors had to queue up their tired and damaged vehicles in reverse order over here, whereas spectators and support teams would be parking over there. The Goat was somewhat amused by the catastrophic inability so many drivers have in the skill of reversing.

And then the after-show party with food and beverage, prizegiving, applause, live jazz quartet, and a stagger back to the Rotana. The Goat really did not fancy a drive back to Dubai after a hard day and a skinful of lager.

Beloved Wife had by now returned from Russia, so when the Goat arrived in Dubai on Friday morning, she cooked him a splendid Breakfast of Champions before he went and got the car washed and the wheels swapped around.


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