Friday, March 27, 2015

The Zayn Fallout Continues ...

Some Stories Need Passion

All this week, I have been surprising myself with overwrought emotional reaction to each new facet of dealing with the impending (June) commercial publication of my book, Maggie's Hammer.
I mean. I've been building towards this for twenty-seven years. Why the tears now?
At the same time, I'm also noticing how I seem totally to be dragging my feet about promotion. I keep remembering things I could be doing, but don't yet have on a list.
C'mon. I'm the king of self-promo. Not to mention lists. What gives?
Then, my eye wanders over this morning's headlines. The co-pilot who killed 150 passengers who had placed their trust in him. What anguish this must be. For people who want their lives - and deaths - to be more than someone else's exclamation point.
The tear shed by the 17th great niece of Richard III at his re-interment in Leicester Cathedral. Even kings and historic villains are human. And leave behind those who seek truth and final comfort.
The tear I shed knowing that this week will see once again the miracle that is the marvel of Britain's unwritten constitution in action. As the Prime Minister of Great Britain offers his resignation to the Queen, and she instructs him to call a General Election. In what is the greatest voluntary act of democracy in the world today. The democratically-elected government of the UK giving its power away to a monarch, who then reminds the world that UK monarchs are villains no more, by straight away handing the power back to the people.
I wonder at the tear. And it is then that twenty-seven years of passion come flooding back.
You know me as the jokester. The silly guy. The Pop Voxx even. But more than anything, I am passionate. Romantic. A dreamer. The boy who built dams in streams. And then rescued the good people of Muddy Bank from the evil of the Lurking Tree Branch.
I had a friend. He died. He told no-one why. Not even his children. Especially not his 11 year old daughter, whose hands I held, whose pain-filled eyes never left my face, as I sought, fought to convince her that her father loved her, and that there was reason to his death.
No-one wanted the truth. No-one sought answers to the obvious anomalies. So, I asked questions, in what quickly became apparent were the wrong places.
Hopefully, you will buy the book. You will read a gripping adventure story. Guns. Spies. Powerful people. Gone crooked. Transatlantic conspiracy. And covert wars fought by the British for the Americans. Tragedy and treachery on a Shakespearean scale.
But you will not come across passion. Loss. Grief. Anger. Because, in order to get here, I had to suppress those many years ago.
My friend was no angel. He was a cheating, lying, arrogant son of a bitch. He had no business getting into dangerous matters when he had a young family.
But he was a loving father. And he was the one who instilled in me a love of country and democracy. Not a belief in institutions. But in people. In their ability to design their own lives for themselves.
And the bastards killed him.
I care not for myself. Or for him. I care for his children. Who will know the truth. And I care about the bastards. Who will be exposed. For failing. For failing in the trust we placed in them.
I have stopped myself thinking like this for twenty-seven years, in order to see the job done. That job is almost complete. And I now realize that life is giving me permission to feel about this story again. To feel passion about a story of monumental human tragedy and treachery. A story which ends only when I may hold the hands of a now grown woman and say, I kept my promise.
As life re-opens my heart, I shed the tears. As the filters are removed, the brain slowly grinds into action. And as the engine of promotion gathers steam, this time, there are no brakes on feeling, no stopping the pain, no hiding the grief.
For this is once again a story of passion. And stories of passion deserve to be told with passion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Workers, Inclusion, Survey, Update, Input

Once again, fellow Weave workers, take a moment to read your employee Market Messenger this week. The first results of the employee questionnaire, looking for our ideas on how to improve communication, feedback and inclusion in WSM decision-making, are in that Messenger.

The final count was 173 workers completing the survey, and some 50 pages of suggestions from all of us. Excellent! We are told that the results of the entire survey will be in the next few issues of the Market Messenger. Keep up the pressure to ensure that we are given a further chance to offer input and commentary on those results, ok?

Remember, we didn't complete the questionnaire just so that other folks can choose how we are included in decision-making in our co-op going forward.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Worker Questionnaire A Success (So Far)

The Weaver Street Market Co-operative online questionnaire for employees, inviting our views on how we WSM workers would like to be involved in future decision-making has (so far) been a huge success.

As of early yesterday morning, some 160 employees (out of about 250) had completed the questionnaire. And fellow workers were still avidly tapping away at computers as the Southern Village store closed at 10.00pm.

A couple of comments:-

1) Wow. And well done. Finally, we've had some demonstrable worker democracy in our worker-consumer co-op. And you took part.

2) You can support another potentially powerful aspect of worker democracy by becoming a worker-owner (just over 200 so far), standing as a candidate in the Worker-Owner Director Election (call for candidates is out now, and you're as qualified as anyone else), and/or voting in that Election (the voting period for which, please note, is two weeks in September, as opposed to the usual two months). Now, don't be saying voting doesn't make any difference. You don't know until you try. And, according to the 2014 turnout figures (only 74 worker-owners voted), not enough of us has tried yet.

3) Back to the questionnaire, this is only the first step. We want to see what everyone said. We want at least a full summary of the suggestions (not names) made available publicly to all of us. And we want the opportunity then to discuss and to choose. So. Don't let up. Chase your managers to allow us to continue to be fully involved in this decision-making process. We didn't complete the questionnaire just so that managers could decide behind closed doors which suggestions to implement.

4) As previously stated, I very deliberately did not complete the questionnaire. There are a lot of folks who have worked very hard to make this questionnaire process occur. I was one. Campaigning for more than two years, specifically for WSM management to comply with co-op policy which requires that WSM employees be included in the decision-making that affects them. I helped to create this little democratic space. I didn't want to hog it. Besides, I've been campaigning for more worker democracy and inclusion in WSM for nearly ten years now. It's one of the reasons it was made easier to become a worker-owner three years ago. I've got some 360 posts on my blog, sharing all sorts of ideas as to how we can make WSM more democratic, more worker inclusive and more successful. It's not like I'm keeping my thoughts a secret!

5) Quickly harking back to (3), there was a glitch in the WSM employee Market Messenger. It said that the closing date for completion of the questionnaire was Sunday, March 23. Yesterday was March 22, not 23. If you missed the opportunity, do not fret. One more reason to chase managers to ensure we are fully engaged in the remainder of the process. So everyone has a chance to contribute, and everyone gets to be meaningfully included in the decision-making.

6) Thank you. Why? Because now, at last, managers can see that it is not just a handful asking for worker democracy and inclusion. It is all of us.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pop Voxx, Comic Relief and the Kardashian Family

Had another glorious music session today (actually, last Friday) with the recording crew from Nightsound Studios. Today was spent mostly with Sequence/Production Star, Adrianna Villa, as we recorded 'Maestro' Dylan Alexzander Turner doing the bass for 'Caribbean Sunrise.'

Chris Wimberley (Ober-everything-no-that-button) joined us later. Along with Studio Manager Maven/Co-Editing Elf Princess, Meghan Puryear - who does not like having her picture taken; I snuck one through the glass, of almost half her face (yay!).

Fellow Co-Editing Elf Princess, Geneva Walata, was not with us today. Hope she's ok. One or two of the rest of us were not having our bestest day.

So. We have drums almost edited on all six tracks (drumming courtesy of 'Pyro' Rob J. DiMauro). Keys tracked on three and a half songs ('Harpsicord?!' Gabriel Reynolds). Bass on four. And guitar (Hugh Swaso, also apparently known as 'The Swasinator') yet to begin.

Few bits and pieces, bit more percussion, some digital instrumentation, mixing and mastering, and we should be ready for the Grand EP Release/Showcase Party in June or July, when Pop Voxx / Geoff Gilson [Mark II] will feature a full band.

The session today was dedicated to Pharrell Williams. I will be sending him a completed version of the EP, and inviting him to steal whatever he likes.

In the meantime, I have a song going round in my head, where the lyrics go:

"I feel happy,
When you blur the lines,
I get lucky,
When you blur the lines."

The working title of the song is: "He's Dead; Won't Notice." Or is it too soon ... ??

You will notice that, in all of the pictures in the collage above, I am wearing a silly red nose. My lovely twin sister, Maggi, sent me this, along with other assorted goodies, to celebrate UK Comic Relief. I am especially proud of the fact that I have now mastered the bathroom selfie. I am the Kardashian!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Worker Input, Elections and Ownership

I know that my fellow WSM co-worker buddies can always find something more useful to do with the WSM employee Market Messenger other than actually reading it.

But this time, this week, please read your MM. It is full of ways for workers to make a difference in the co-op we half-own.

First up, the survey inviting us (finally) to design how we workers want to be included in decision-making in our co-op is here. Details in the MM.

The best part is that your manager has to make time for you, on the clock, to complete the survey online.

You have to fill it in before March 23. And peeps. If you don't offer your views, then you're going to get an input process designed by someone else.

Next up, invitation for folks to become a Worker-Owner Director. Oh, but I'm not qualified. Bollocks. If you spend more than five minutes a week thinking you know how to make WSM work better, then you're as qualified as anyone on the Board. That's the beauty of co-operatives: we're all equal.

If you're not yet a Worker-Owner, and you want to share in the profits you earn, to vote or even, one day, to stand for the Board, ask your manager how to become a Worker-Owner.

We say we want fairness, to be involved, to have a say. Some of us worked really hard to make The Weave more of a co-op, where workers can have a voice. But you have to take part to exercise that voice.

Read the Market Messenger this week to find out how ...

Who Is A Hero?

I worry a lot. I worry that loved ones will die, and leave me alone. I worry I'll lose facility. I worry I won't have enough money to survive. I worry about what happens after death. Heck, I worry if I'll have a job on Monday. A girlfriend on Tuesday. And a hit single next Friday (that I didn't copy from Marvin Gaye).

But then I find an iconic corner of my apartment, which is full of iconic corners (note the gaudy pic!). Or, I step outside. Breathe the air. Gaze up at the sky. Remind myself that the universe is now estimated to be some 17 billion light years across. That I am at one and the same time infinitesimally microscopic and impossibly unique. That I am fragile and irreplaceable. Have not the first clue who I am or how I got here. But that I am here. Life is beautiful. I am magical. And all I can do is marvel and enjoy.

I have no control over what was, what is or what will be. I had no choice about the gifts I was given. My health. My family. Or the dimension in which I find myself. The only control I have is whether or not I choose to be grateful, to laugh and to enjoy life.

We are conditioned to believe that heroes are people who achieve greatly. Who are what we envy. Who do what we can only dream about.

But life's greatest challenge. And perhaps the reason for this mortal coil. Is to put aside envy. Overcome fear. Accept the hand we have been dealt. Own it. Love it. Laugh about it. And fully enjoy it. For when we do that, we have truly become our own hero.

Look. I've got a heavy spring cold, and eight hours of washing dishes to look forward to. It was either this little bit of inspiration or another rerun of Alien 3 ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

'Maggie's Hammer' - The Cover Design (Update)

We made a few changes today to the cover design for The Book. To make Maggie more evil. My name a little more prominent. And the whole design a tad more professional. What d'ya think?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Communication, Decisions, Employees - Yay!!

Thank you Ruffin Slater, General Manager of Weaver Street Market Co-op. Never thought you'd hear me say that, eh?

Ruffin very kindly took time out of his Sunday to bring to me an advance copy of an employee questionnaire, notice of which will likely be thudding into WSM employee's mailboxes later this week.

Please pay attention!

This questionnaire offers all WSM employees the opportunity to help design the very communication and input processes I have been campaigning for the past couple of years.

But, this is not about me. This is about you. The designing will only happen if you get involved. If you go online (I do believe it will be an online questionnaire), if you actually answer the questions.

Don't look to me. My involvement was to help create the space to allow you good folks to have your say about what you want to see by way of better communication and more inclusion in decision-making in your co-op.

Having achieved that, I now stand back, make no suggestions of my own, and leave it to you. If you do nothing, then nothing will happen.

I have ideas. If you want to know them, write to me privately on Facebook, or at I'll share. But not publicly. Not for any sinister reason. But because I'm not going to hog the space that has been created.

So. Banging the drum does pay off. But it takes two to tango. So, a huge thank you to Ruffin, and to those who have helped him create this questionnaire. Actually, just to keep on, this is a three-person dance, and you good people are the third dancer.

I'm really excited. And for good reason. So excited, I'm going to share two of the questionnaire's stated goals which most reflect what we've been trying to do:

"GOAL: There is an effective, resilient, and user-friendly communication framework that serves as a foundation for improving communication."


"GOAL: There is an on-going employee feedback process that solicits input and ideas, processes it effectively, and implements suggestions that further our goals."

I repeat. I'm thrilled. Now, it's over to you fellow co-workers. Keep a look-out. Read the Market Messenger this Thursday.

[You will notice the continuing Charlie Chaplin theme with the attached pic. He is happy. And he's giving a flower to a lady, to celebrate International Women's Day. A huge thank you to all the lovely women who make my life more glorious. For your compassion and your support.]

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Extended Hot Bar - Employee Inclusion

The decision to double the size of the Hot Bar in all Weaver Street Market Co-op outlets is precisely why we have a WSM co-op policy demanding the inclusion of Weave employees in decision-making. Why I am advocating so strenuously for its implementation. And why our General Manager is resisting.

Because the people who are making the decisions at the moment are not the grunts who are busting ass to do twice as much work.