A fracas erupted a few months ago (and we all know how painful that can be) when the former search engine and current whatever-they-are-now company WooHoo! got a new CEO who banned flex time work schedules for her employees. The rationale was that working from home reduced the serendipitous office encounters that lead to tech breakthroughs.
Fenton and I, of course, handle Hare Link’s tech operations while living two hours away from Domain, but as the son-in-law and daughter of the owner it’s doubtful that our office absence would lead to us being overlooked in the company scheme of things. So we’re a special case.
As for Kell, it’s truly something she’s had to think about, both at Herd Thinners and now at her own company. She’s decided that any benefits that may or may not come from forcing the staff to be in the same place and time is far out-weighed by having a staff that feels as if they’re considered individuals with different ways of achieving productivity.
For staff who’ve requested flex time, she’s granted it. They’re given specific benchmarks (not quotas) and at the end of each month their supervisor goes over how well they’ve done. If there are areas in which they can improve, a mutual strategy is put into place.
Basically, most of Kell’s employees would run through a wall for her. R.L. blogs that he believes it’s because those employees are terrified of having to go back to working for him. He can’t imagine someone busting their butt for a positive reason.
On his first day of work at Dewclaw’s Fine Meats as Rhonda’s assistant, Dip the sheep met Corrie. To say he was surprised to see another sheep at an establishment of predators was an understatement. He was told that Corrie was the company’s IT chief and was responsible for maintaining the entire tech system. It was left for a later date to reveal the Corrie is Kell’s biological niece, the daughter of Kell’s brother Ralph and a sheep with whom he’d had a teenage affair.
Fortunately Dip didn’t express any interest in Corrie romantically, since that would’ve resulted in an awkward explanation that Corrie is already involved with Bruno, a former wolf who’s had diet-reassignment surgery to become an ruminant. Again, it’s best that Dip take in all this slowly.
Ironically it was Corrie who was most emotionally affected by the encounter. Seeing a living diploma underlined that she isn’t attending college. While she’s amply demonstrated that she can build a professional career without a diploma. she’s always been sensitive about not having one. This spurred her to do something about it.
She’s begun taken online courses featuring filmed lectures. I’ve actually been asked to be recorded in some of the classes I’ve taught, although none of them would be on subjects Corrie is taking.
With two offers, one from Kell and the other from Herd Thinners, Rhonda had a difficult decision to make. This was made more challenging due to a lack of communication between her and her husband Quinn, who both confided in me. That meant, though, that I didn’t feel that I could betray that trust by setting them straight.
Basically, Rhonda thought Quinn wanted her to take the Herd Thinners job because he still had a year of college left and they needed the higher salary that R.L. could offer. Quinn, actually, wanted Rhonda to take Kell’s offer, but couldn’t say so because that wouldn’t come with the prestige of a Herd Thinners position; he was afraid of standing in the way of her career.
To prevent unhappiness all around, it was actually the living diploma who saw through everything and brought it all to light. Once that happened, Rhonda was free to accept the job with Kell.
The diploma, now christened Dip, was given a position as Rhonda’s assistant. When Rhonda brings in kills, it will be his job to do the paperwork; recording the species and weight, and deducting the amount that Rhonda eats. Boring stuff.
Kell’s delighted to have her on board. She knows Rhonda well from being Rudy’s hunting teammate, and her skills have only grown since then. Even just out of college, she’s already showing that she belongs in the professional ranks.
The big event was Rhonda’s graduation from Beige University, after having a stellar career on the school’s hunting team. For the past couple years she had been worried that even those credentials wouldn’t be enough to find employment in a down economy, but fortunately things have picked up just as she’s entered the job market.
Normally that would be cause for celebration, but it also means that Rhonda is completely torn. On one hand, it’s the dream of every young predator to someday work for Herd Thinners, Inc., with its long history of being at the top of the food chain. (Okay, actually, R.L. founded his own predation firm and later took over Herd Thinners in a hostile takeover, but kept the name for the combined company. He knows as asset when he sees it.)
When Kell was briefly CEO it would have been a foregone conclusion that Rhonda would work for her, given her long relationship with our family. That all changed when Kell was dismissed and founded her startup. Now Rhonda has two job offers, and she’s miserable.
Herd Thinners fulfills a dream; Kell offers her a future…but at less pay. R.L. knows the cards he holds, and plays every one. He sprung for a surprise perk: a sheepskin still on a live sheep. The implication is that he’s giving her a meal, but instead of gratitude she’s feeling even more emotionally divided.
Fenton and I watched the ceremony with her porcupine husband Quinn. This is causing stress for him as well.
As a grad student I’m assigned various tasks in the department, including teaching freshman level classes. Most grad students take this assignment very seriously as we know how important it is for our futures to make a good impression. I’m no exception.
I did my best to improve my communication skills and patience. It helped that when imparting complex ideas I envisioned the class as a roomful of Rudys.
It’s the end of the semester, and while I’m grading their papers they were grading me through their evaluations. These can frequently be dreadful as you’re giving college students power…anonymous power.
That’s why I was more than pleasantly surprised by the high marks I got. Most of them were Superior, and none were awful. Before I get too big a head over this, I remind myself that they’re not judging me in a vacuum; I’m also being compared to other professors they’ve had.
Meanwhile, graduation is coming up. This year one of my best friends will be receiving a diploma. No, not Fenton (yet), although he’s my bestest friend.
Coney’s friend Harcourt grew up in a family vegetarian bears, which isn’t all that unusual since bears pretty much eat anything. Gradually they began supplementing their diet with meat, and while they still like plants they don’t restrict themselves to them anymore. One wonders if the taste of prey brought them back, or just the thrill of the hunt.
Now that he’s attending the Happy Little Predator Preschool he’s learning basic hunting techniques, and Coney reports that he’s doing pretty well as he lets his ursine instincts take over. The thing is, he seems very easily distracted and has trouble focusing on just a single target.
His parents have taken him to see specialists, but so far they’re very disappointed in the advice they’re getting. They’re receiving a lot “deficit language” that labels his basic character as a problem to be “cured.” So far they’ve flatly refused to put him on any kind of medication. Good for them!
I say this as a scientist; not every difference is something that has to be “fixed.” There is an enormous range of individuals on this planet, and each has something unique to offer. Making everyone conform to a certain standard diminishes us all.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. (Wait. Has anyone ever seen an actual soapbox?)
An unforeseen consequence of Rudy, Fiona and Wendell distributing Easter eggs cropped up last Sunday when Lin recognized Wendell’s scent on one of the eggs he’d handled. Previously, scent hadn’t been a factor since Wendell is the youngest individual to have ever had the job. (Yes, he’s still an apprentice.) The important thing is, this is the first time children finding the eggs would have recognized the scent of someone in their age group.
This put Coney in a terrible situation when Lin confronted her. I’m sure Lin wasn’t aware of the potential outcome of her inquiry; that Wendell would be unmasked and never again be given the chance to pursue his single-minded goal. Coney knew, however, and couldn’t bear depriving him of his dream.
So she said the first name that popped into her head: Harcourt the bear. Amazingly Lin bought it, which shows how much she trusts Coney. (And it’s not so far off considering the actual “bunnies” are a wolf and a fennec fox.) Still, it propelled Coney into a maelstrom of guilt.
Dad and Kell have done a wonderful job in raising Coney to be ethical in all manner of behavior, which is a good thing since she combines a rabbit’s speed and maneuverability with a wolf’s hunting drive; she’d be the apex predator in almost any ecosystem. Our folks have made her mindful of her powers, and the responsibilities that come with them. Part of that outlook is that she’s never once told a lie…until now. And the poor thing is miserable.
It’s a tough lesson.
Rudy’s gained a noticible degree of maturity over the years since we became step-siblings, to which I give Fiona a great deal of credit. However, he still faces challenges concerning impulsiveness and headstrong behavior, so it’s somewhat poetic justice that he now finds himself saddled with Wendell Luckyfoot, Apprentice Easter Bunny.
Despite the species difference, Rudy and Wendell are very similar personality types. The main difference is the intense focus Wendell brings to his goal of being the Easter Bunny. While Rudy hasn’t exactly been aimless, his interests have varied between painting, drawing a webcomic, competitive hunting and now gardening. These have all broadened him, in a good way.
Wendell is still very young, so one hopes that as he grows older he becomes more than someone who hides eggs one night a year. Among other attributes, he displays a fearlessness that I’ve only seen in one other rabbit. Dad.
Make that two other rabbits: Dad and Gran. Gran is the common thread in this unique trait. Throughout her long life she’s demonstrated a fierce resolve that enabled all of her offspring to survive into adulthood. No mean feat for a prey species.
As I write this, Rudy, Fiona and Wendell are hiding the eggs for the dawn hunt. Happy Easter!
For many years a retired couple named Ursal lived across the street from our tree in Domain, in a cave tunneled from the side of a small hill. We became close to them, and they were joined by Mrs Ursal’s daughter, son-in-law and grandson. The baby bear’s name was Harcourt, who was Coney’s age. The two toddlers seemed to enjoy playing together.
Eventually the whole family moved down to Florida, and they sold the cave to Aby Eyeshine. Dad and Kell remained in touch with them, and last fall they sent word that they were moving back. (Not into Aby’s home, of course, but to a maple tree a couple miles away.)
They settled in last October and immediately went into hibernation. Two weeks ago they woke up, and Harcourt showed up at the Happy Little Predator Preschool, much to Coney’s surprised delight.
What’s interesting about their choice of school is that for years the Ursals had been estranged from their daughter and her family because the latter were vegetarians. Much heartbreak ensued, and there was an eventual reconciliation as the Ursals accepted their dietary choice. Now, it seems, they’re eating meat after all.
Harcourt still seems to prefer nut and berries, though, which has annoyed Coney’s friend Lin. I’m hoping that Coney doesn’t find herself caught in the middle of a conflict between two close companions.
It was the first MOUSCAR race of the season, and the unveiling of Mark Meadowvole’s car sponsored by Dewclaw’s Fine Meats. This was the Provolone 500, the first event in the Scamper Cup series.
Mark finished a respectable seventh. The winner was the perpetual champion Richard Rodent, who has amassed enough trophies to fill an airplane hanger…or his own ego. One has to respect his success, even though it’s getting a bit repetitive.
I mentioned a while back that the racing organizers are featuring Mark in their promotions. True, but that’s nothing compared with the attention they give to Mr. Rodent. That’s understandable, although it is frustrating for up-and-coming competitors like Mark.
The race itself was exciting, as the cheese proved to be hidden in a spot in the maze that was difficult for them to locate. According to MOUSCAR rules it’s possible to have a winner without the cheese being found. Once the driver starting in the pole position drives 500 miles with no one finding the cheese, the race is stopped and the driver nearest to the cheese receives the checkered flag. That’s what occurred here.