Monday, 30 May 2016

The Quandary of the Anti-Capitalist Entrepreneur

Here's the thing. I have hundreds of business ideas, and some of them might even be good. I make business plans, do market research, find suppliers, all of that. I'm perfectly capable of success.


I never actually go ahead and launch any of those businesses.

Why not? I might be more satisfied with my living and working situation. I might be more fulfilled in my career. I'd likely have more money. I might even make a difference in the world.

I've turned it over in my mind again and again, hunting for the seed of fear or self-doubt that ought to be there, holding me back from achieving business success. It's not there. There's no part of me that believes I might fail. I find the idea that I'm not good at marketing, or that maybe my hands-on skills aren't so strong, or that my time management is not great.

So what? There are zillions of people out there running marketing agencies that would be happy to help me. My hands-on skills are fine, and doing something on a daily basis always makes them better. There are tons and tons of ways to reinforce schedules, from alarms and alerts to services that will have a real person phone you to make sure you're on track.

I know these things, which means those doubts are excuses, not barriers.

I still shy away from starting those businesses. And if I'm honest with myself, I know the truth, the real reason I won't.

It's capitalism. I get marketing emails from folks who want to sell me an online course that will make me a million-selling author or get me 30,000 new followers for my blog in three months, or help me sell a billion useless tchotkes on Amazon, and all of them spark the same feeling. Revulsion and a sneaking horror. The thought of becoming one of them makes me ill.

There's a thing called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It's a vortex of marine garbage, mostly plastic particles that are photodegrading to miscroscopic size. It blocks sunlight from reaching algae, which then dies and deprives the rest of the food chain of necessary nutrients. Why is the garbage patch there? Because we like plastic bottles and other disposable junk.

There's a thing called Colony Collapse Disorder that's killing bees by the billions. What causes Colony Collapse? Pesticides and bio-engineered plants grown to be "mite-resistant." Which we need because we decided that it's okay for us to waste 222 million tonnes of food every year. That's equivalent to the entire food production of sub-Saharan Africa per year.

There's a thing called coltan, which is a mineral absolutely essential to the manufacture of cell phones and other electronics. It only comes from one place in the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo has been having a civil war in one form or another, since 1995. The war is funded by mining companies looking to keep the price of coltan down by continuing the destablization of the region. That war is fought by war lords and militia groups who have a nasty habit of raping every woman and girl in every village they take over. Since the fighting goes back and forth, that means those women can look forward to be being brutally violated on a pretty regular basis. That iPhone is pretty much soaked in blood and tears right out of the box.

The American military budget for 2015 was $601 BILLION. The UN estimates that world hunger could be eliminated for $30 billion. What do you think we could do with $601 billion? That's not even counting the rest of the world.

Every time I think about buying anything, I think about the interconnectedness of all those giant corporations. Consider the fact that Unilever, which owns Axe body spray, a brand known for obnoxiously sexist advertising, also sells Dove, which attempts to sell self-esteem to women through it's Campaign for Real Beauty. Now that's hypocrisy.

That's capitalism. That's buying and selling. That's money. I have yet to hear of any way of opting out of the system of greed and destruction that actually works. Understanding that this whole edifice of stupidity is currently killing millions of people every day, and is threatening to destroy our planet is one thing. Being able to fight it is another. I do what I can, even though what I can do is very small and ineffective.

What I can't do is participate in it. I get that not all small businesses are taking the same route to evil as the giant corporations. That a lot of people try to change the world in positive ways WHILE getting other people to give you money. It still makes me uncomfortable on a moral level.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

I'm shooting myself in the foot at work. I've basically checked out completely, and stopped caring if I get caught. I still get my work done, I just visibly don't care.

Why not? It's pretty simple. My work doesn't count and it's been made abundantly clear to me. One of my coworkers (who has seniority) basically works part time and gets paid for full time. There's slack to be picked up, which falls to me. My boss asked me how long it would take for me to get up to speed on a particular software package to cover her lazy butt. I wasn't sure; I'm quick on the uptake, but this was a graphics program I'd never even heard of. I dutifully came in on my day to teach myself the program. Turns out to be spectacularly easy to use. I turned out a nice looking presentation after about three hours. The boss loved it, and was effusive in thanking me for my efforts.

Sounds like this story should have a happy ending, no? It doesn't. The presentation was part of a proposal we were doing for a prospective client. Said proposal also required us to do a lot of extra work to determine exactly what needed to be included in the project. Guess who did all that work? Yep. Me. Fine. It was a new task for me, which was interesting because it was novel. We had a meeting to plan the rest of the project, and I was assigned about 60% of the actual work on the contract if we win it. Okay. I have no problem with that.

Then the proposal came across my desk for editing before it went to the prospect. There was a section detailing the biographies of all the team members who would work on the project. My name did not appear anywhere.

80% of the work on the proposal was mine, and I'll be doing 60% of the work on the project. Invisibly and anonymously.

Screw that. It was a slap in the face. All the credit for the work I'm doing will be going to the jackass who doesn't show up half the time and leaves early when she does. So why should I bother putting in the effort to make it good?

Don't give me the argument that my boss will notice my work and give me a raise or a promotion or whatever. That doesn't happen in reality. At least not to me. All I wanted was for someone to acknowledge the fact that I was contributing.

Too bad, so sad. Guess I'll have to start looking for a new job.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Photo Gallery

There's probably a way to set up a proper photo gallery, but I don't know it. Either way, I thought I'd share pictures of junk I made over the last few years. Some of it's good, some of it's bad. No matter. I hope what you take away is that you can try out some making yourself! 

Hand stencilled punk rock fan shirt. Fan of what?
Everyone who's brave enough to join a band!

White rabbit messenger bag with
 wide strap for extra support.

 Front and back views of patchwork Christmas apron
Tiny velvet party hat with veil

Yoga skirt made from band shirts

Reupholstery job on mid-century modern chair

Front and back views of clubbing top

Front and back views of Dimebag Darryl Abbot tribute shirt.

Scarf inspired by Inara on Firefly. Browncoats unite!

Handpainted gay pin up patch

Side view of steampunk skirt

Handspun thick n thin yarn

Maxi skirt made from old jeans. The pictures suck, but the skirt is actually nice.
Knitting themed necklace made from circular needle

Hand knitted toque

Lace necklace

Faux bustle skirt

 Hand painted felt matching game for kids, and a storage box for it.

Ridiculous wearable art inspired by the world's ugliest
pendant. Weighs 5 pounds...

Moulin Rouge sleep shorts

Altered Nerf gun and hand sewn velvet holster.

Hand knitted capelet

Overall dress

Steampunk pantaloons
(and the Nerf gun again)

Front and back of modified Pantera shirt

Hand painted pillow cases

Ratchet & Clank themed sweater
and hand knitted Mr. Pointy stuffie

Hand embroidered Discworld patch

Rose necklace

Scrap dress

Hand knitted Serenity stuffie
(yes, that is Jewel Staite!)

Sewing themed necklace

Sheldon Cooper stuffie

Accessory kit for a hand spinner

Star Trek themed hoodie

 Steampunk skirt with detachable bustle


Super Mario themed storage box

Shopping bag from recycled t-shirt
 Front and back of T-shirt recon

 Tools and spark plugs sun dress

Backdrop for production of Charlotte Bronte's Villette

Wallet chain

Hoodie with wings. Why? Why not?

Alice in Wonderland yarn art.