Josh's Blog

Month: December 2020

Out of the woods… and in memory of…

Been a couple of days now since I was released by the NHS from self isolation. Apparently, so long as you are not running a temperature, you are less likely to transmit covid. This is my understanding of their logic anyhow. The funny thing is, I never ran a temperature during my infection. In fact, the telltale symptoms of covid were never apparent for me or anyone else in my household. In fact, when some of us went to get the test I placed a wager with them telling them there was no way they would test positive…this was a just a cold…it is after all, the season for it. Low and behold, they tested positive, and the next day so too did I.

Anyways, now there are a couple of new variants of the virus that have materialized here in the UK, one is a mutation of the original virus, and the other coming from South Africa. We are now in tier 4 shutdown. Tugh times for sure.

In other news, it is Christmas Eve! Anyone who might be reading this, I wish you nd yours a very Merry Christmas and a phenomenal New Year! Hopefully 2021 will bring with it the answers we all seek, the remedies we all need, and deep seeded happiness in our journey.

I would also like to give a shoutout to an old friend, Dale Williams, who I recently found out died earlier this year. Dale was old school. A straight up blue collar tradesman working the front lines of the carpentry trade. When he wasnt doing that he was at home making custom lamps with his wood lathe, or out on the shooting range.

Dale was like a second father to me bac in the early years. He was a great friend, an ear to listen, and voice of reason. I wish I had made the time to see him more later in life. But I will always cherish his memory. He was a great man. They just dont make em like Dale anymore.

Corona update III

Feeling even better today! Definitely pulling out of this thing. According to the NHS track and trace app – with all things remaining constant – I will be able to venture out on Tuesday, just two days away.

To pass the time I downloaded a few games yesterday off of my Steam account, one of which was a gift from my bud Jax. The games include:

  • Northgard – a real time strategy game reminiscent of Ages of Empires
  • The Legend of the Obra Dinn – stylistic first person mystery
  • StarWars Battlefront II – thanks Jax! First person shoot ’em up in Star Wars land
  • Pillars of Eternity – Role playing game in the flavor of Diablo

All this, in edition to my currently active game lists of Doom Eternal and the occasional Minecraft excursion.

Ive had the chance to briefly jump into all four of the new games and the one I am most excited about is the Legend of Obra Dinn. Within 5 minutes of playtime I was already sucked into unwrapping a mystery, all in a black and white, 2D setting. At only 1 GB disk size it really goes to show you that its all about content, in the end, graphics really only play a supporting role.

On the other end of the game size scale, there is Battlefront II, a game requiring over 89GB HDD space. I have to say, it looks, sounds, and plays great! But after a couple of rounds I couldn’t help but think this was just a skin on top of Battlefield V. Its fun and all, but even my wife’s seven year old was bored after watching me get repeatedly smudged within 3 minutes of game play. Still though, it is enjoyable and I look forward to the single player mode.

Pillars of Eternity got incredible reviews on Steam, but after spending about 30 minutes with it – so far – Im a wee bit disappointed. The intro is incredibly long, the character customization is far too complex for my tastes, and the voiceacting is a bit too wooden. How will it stack up to Ember? A small RPG game I played last year that was an incredible ride. The sound design on Ember was nothing short of magnificent, the settings were immersive, the characters fun, and the story a worthy ride. Been searching for a game like it since, and Im hoping Pillars will improve as I dig deeper.

Finally, the game that already has around 5 hours of play time (all from last night pretty much) is Northgard. Holy cannoli this game possesses the perfect storm of being extremely addictive, and needlessly tedious. It is also beautiful to look at and has a great sound design. After forcing myself to stop at around 3:30 in the morning, I couldn’t help but wonder about good ol’ Ages of Empires. It was such a beautifully designed game, with all the right checks and balances necessary to keep the game moving forward at a consistent pace. Northgard feels like it is still a work in progress. As a solid performer, a whole lot of fun, and with plenty of room for improvement, I think Northgard could become a classic after a few more updates.

So that’s it, a corona update turned mini game review! Looking forward to manana.

Corona update II

Feeling much better today! My sense of smell and taste seem to be recovering nicely, I would guess they are in the neighborhood of fifty percent now, up from twenty. I am very much ready to go outside and enjoy the weather, but still legally (and ethically) bound to stay here at the house for another three days.

Had a nice chat with my buddy Jerm yesterday, who recently recovered form the virus. His ordeal was much more serious than mine. had him laid up for about two weeks, and in proper misery. He made a full recovery though, and he’s right bac on the front lines of the fight against Covid, nursing the elderly in a care home somewhere in Dallas Tx. 

Corona update I

Today marks day 5 of duking it out with the ‘rona. I feel like I’ve rounded the bend and now heading toward the finish line. Its a great feeling, as Ive been bed ridden for the past three days, bored as hell, and dealing with a mountain of emotional turmoil. As well, my senses of taste and smell are only working at around 20 percent of normal.

I plan on making some good out of all this dread, however. One positive to build upon… I haven’t smoked for a week now. This is a ball that is long overdue to keep rolling. Weird fact: Since being sick I smell cigarettes all the time, even now. While this wouldn’t have been my first choice if given a selection , at least it isn’t the scent of burnt toast!

I’ve been meditating every day, even when my mind is so stirred it is the LAST thing I want to do. Im seeing the payoffs already, my ‘rona induced irritability is softening, and Im a bit more mindful . The great thing about meditation, is that it is always there to be done, and it is the easiest thing in the world to do once you get used to it. You just sit, smell nice incense, see the occasional flicker of a candle penetrate through your eyelids, ah… and listen to the swell of waves reach into a distant shore (through headphones of course, here in London), and sometimes… without even realizing it… you’ve forgotten who and where you are.

I have Corona

Just got the results in yesterday. My wife, her father and brother all have it too. Hoping for a speedy recovery, and that I did not spread it to anyone! More to come….

Well that was quick!

I lasted 5 days with Amazon. Long enough to get my first paycheck and confirm just how lousy working for this company – at least as “Sortation Associate” is. Now to be fair, I heard from a fellow employee that some Amazon sites are better to work at than others. Like myself, he was appalled at how atrocious the treatment of workers was at this Bromley by Bow location.

In a nutshell, here are the key issues:

  • Poor management – no clear cut procedures were established.
  • Micro-management – everything you do is monitored by a computer, if you take too long, you will be approached by supervisory personnel.
  • Lack of trust – Amazon will literally hire anyone for this role, and as such, I reckon they’ve been taken advantage of. This means that new folks do not have any benefit of the doubt for having a good work ethic.
  • No breaks – here in England employers can work you for 6 hours before they are legally required to give you a break. Amazon takes full advantage of this, and while they tell you you can take breaks in ‘training’, I’ve found this to be mostly untrue. The break room is monitored, and while on the floor sorting goods, everything you do is timed.
  • Rude staff – All us new folks agreed that as a new “amazonian’, management hates you. You are shouted at, you are pointed to, you are disrespected, on a constant basis. One lady I worked with said she felt like she was treated like a slave, as she was constantly being hounded for not moving fast enough.
  • Management is Disorganized – Several times you are assigned to an isle full of parcels that another associate is already in. Covid 19 restrictions prevent you from enetering the isle with the other person, so you have two courses of action:
    1. Pressure the other associate into moving aside so you can get your parcels.
    2. Wait for the associate to finish, then enter the isle.

Remember that everyone is being timed here, so the solution is always at you or the other person’s expense. So now, on top of being hounded, you have conditions ripe for employee conflict.

  • When you are approached, management will make the extra effort to really animate they are looking at your nametag, this way you know that they know who you are.

Okay so I could go on and on. Inconsistent Corona virus precautions, the use of equally bad temp agencies, I’ve yet to receive my first pay stub, etc…

The fact is, this place is a depressing and spiteful Amazon hub to work at. They take advantage of the high unemployment numbers out there and use them to bully the workforce into unreasonable and unmonitored labor demands. Dignity and Respect are what should be at the forefront of any employee’s basic treatment expectations here in the civilized world. You will not get that here.

Another thing to point out is that I was hired by a temp agency called PMP. They definitely deserve huge credit for the abysmal working conditions as well. It is extremely difficult to contact anyone, and I doubt they care about any issues one might have. This is a BIG contract they have with Amazon, and as the insane turnover suggests, they will plow through the numbers not matter what the cost.

Anything good?

Well it isn’t bad pay for a position that requires zero skills or work experience. I was making somewhere in the £10.50 per hour, which adjusted to USD is about $14.

Amazon provides you with the appropriate safety wear, including steel toed boots and a hi-visibility vest.