Trades Cooperative

So yesterday I watched a video of a startup webinar from the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. What the presenter is talking about seems a lot bigger than what I’m thinking of, but in the Q&A portion, he did say that 3-7 members to start off was a good size, so maybe not.

I’m thinking of a trades cooperative, with an administrator (me, since that’s my skill), an electrician, a plumber, and a carpenter. Maybe one other, since I like an odd number for voting purposes. A brick-and-tile specialist?

I’ve noticed that a lot of independent tradespeople lack the organization to do things like follow up on estimates or reschedule appointments, adjust schedules, that sort of thing. That’s got to be costing them a lot of business.

And while they keep all the proceeds when freelancing, they have to fool with all the stuff that’s outside their skillset. Banding together in a cooperative sounds like a way better alternative than taking employment at a typical business. The pay would be better and profit is shared. And they don’t answer the phone or manage the calendar or send the invoices.

Could I start by freelancing the administration? And then after doing a good job for a while, sell them on the security of a coop, with the benefits of things like health insurance.

Patently Insane

I was looking up trades administration to see if it’s a thing, and not only is it a thing, they offer bachelor’s degrees in it.

The whole thing is patently insane. I found this page at Capitol Technology University in Maryland — I had to go look up where they were because I was sure they must be talking about Canadian dollars in this image:

I want to ask them, “Are you completely insane?” You want people in the DC area, with a cost of living surely higher than mine in coastal Carolina, to obtain a bachelor’s degree so they can aspire to make a pittance and barely get by? Those last two salaries are probably sufficient down here, but they can’t be up there, and the rest of them represent struggle even here.

Why would I go in hock for an education to make just enough to continue struggling? This is crazy!

And then again, those salaries are for employment. If the administrator were working for a coop with profit sharing, that could be a lot better.

But I’m still not falling for this degree nonsense.

I should point out that this degree is meant to be sought after by people “working the industrial trades who want to start and manage their own businesses.” So this is supposed to be supplemental education for those who already got proficiency at their trade. And yet the above makes it look like a step down for their livelihood rather than a step up.

Propaganda

Woo hoo! My commie propaganda has arrived!

By the way, I found out after I had ordered it that this book is available as a free PDF if you diligently search for it. Oh well.

So the idea I wonder about is: will the revolution come by out-capitaling the capitalists? Do we buy/build the means of production rather than seizing them? Do we take business plans and organizations etc. and strike out the C-suite and replace every instance of “owner” with “members” — the members being the worker-owners? Do we replace boards of directors with workers’ councils?

Right now there’s a “labor shortage” that isn’t a real shortage at all. It’s a glut of crap jobs. Nobody wants crap jobs and with the pandemic on, many feel free to retrain and take employment elsewhere, where the pay, benefits, and company culture are better.

Capitalism loves to mistreat employees because they don’t deserve better, in its mindset. It doesn’t see them as generators of stolen labor. Worker-owned businesses with better pay, benefits, culture, and PROFIT SHARING?!?!?! Those stand a fine chance to out-compete capitalist enterprises for their labor. I mean, where would YOU like to work?

If you take all that money and respect that is currently funneled straight to the C-suite and executives and instead distribute it to the workers, what would you get?

I am learning about mutual aid cooperatives stepping in where governments fail us. In the motel model from the last entry, what if an education cooperative ran a school in the off-hours in the restaurant? This could become super important as more and more states refuse to let their schools teach science and history.

My home state has no recycling; could we form a recycling cooperative?

What else could we pitch in together on? It blows my mind how things like this are stigmatized as “other” when US pioneers and farmers know damn well about barn raising and volunteer fire departments. Pitching in together was how Indigenous people did things on Turtle Island. If I understand correctly, there weren’t necessarily rich people or rich families, but rich villages and tribes. That completely makes sense.

I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about these things, and I’m so ignorant. There’s so much theory, but I want to study practice. I want to study best practice, lessons learned. What worked and what failed. What basic principles are sound and what ones are shaky.

Surely somebody has done a basics curriculum, right?

Housing Ideas – Motel Model

  • Form an LLC.
    • I don’t know what the starter business should be that begins the LLC, but there should probably be one.
    • Give the LLC a capitalist name like Fillmore Investment Group.
    • Each employee of the LLC receives one vote in representation.
  • The LLC buys a motel.
  • The LLC makes any necessary improvements.
  • The LLC sells the units as condos, retaining ownership of the infrastructure elements and the restaurant, if any.
    • If it’s illegal in a location to sell a condo that has no kitchen, the LLC can alternatively sell owner shares in the LLC which come with the benefit of a specific unit.
    • Each unit (or member) receives one vote in representation.
  • The LLC charges a fee for maintenance and insurance.
  • If there is a restaurant, the LLC rents out the restaurant, preferably to a cooperative.
    • If the budget allows, the rent from the restaurant can support maintenance and insurance, and the occupant-owners. need not pay a fee.
  • The LLC rents out their laundry facility to a cooperative business.
    • Any self-help laundry facilities remain available for the occupant-owners.
  • The proceeds from condo/share sales and facility rentals not only go to repay the LLC’s original mortgage to obtain the motel, but also may be used to purchase an additional motel and start the cycle over again.
  • Each motel participates in direct democracy to make decisions affecting the whole location.
  • Each motel elects a representative to a council that directs the activities of the LLC.

Questions:

  • If an LLC employee buys into a condo, do they get two votes?
  • How big can the LLC sustainably get?
  • Do the restaurant and the laundry get votes?
    • If so, does each business get one vote?
    • Do the representatives go to the location’s council, the LLC’s council, or both?
  • I cannot possibly be the first person to think of this. Who else has drawn up plans?
    • Is anyone already working on models like this?
    • If so, who?
    • If so, can they be hired to provide a report?

PS:

  • Open source
  • Best practice

Toy and Water

I did not post an update when I added new buttons to the soundboard. I did update howtheycantalk.org but not here. Anyway, we’ve added Water and Toy. Sophie actually did press Water the other day when I asked her to because I knew the bowl was empty (and she cares about that more than Kai does). The look on her face every time I do that says she understands, but I don’t think she understands yet that the buttons are for her to tell me things. Right now buttons are something I use before I do something she’s interested in. Like a warning or something.

Human Skin Things, Part 2

The regimen that seems to be working is taking a three-prong approach. Kill the fungus with ketoconazole and tea tree oil. Starve the fungus with moisturizers and cleansers that don’t contain the oils they like. I learned even more about Malassezia on this page, and it was seriously helpful. And here’s that author’s list of safe products.

I wash my face and ears with CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser twice per day, once prior to my shower in the morning and once before going to bed.
Nizoral Anti Dandruff Shampoo every day until the scabs/scales are gone, then reduce to every 3 days until the flakes are gone, then reduce to once every 2-3 weeks as preventive. Apply shampoo, let remain for 5 minutes, rinse, reapply, then rinse again. I have not yet decided on shampoo and conditioner to use the rest of the time. If body symptoms are severe, use Nizoral as a body wash instead of the castille soap below until improved.
As the skin gets better, I use Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Pure-Castile Tea Tree Soap.
After the shower, I apply 2% Ketoconazole to all the affected areas. I apply Hydrocortisone to any severely affected areas after the antifungal is fully absorbed. I apply Hydrocortisone occasionally also.
In the morning I moisturize face, ears, neck, bosom, and arms with CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. It’s got sunscreen. It’s oil free.
In the morning I moisturize the rest of me with CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. At bedtime I moisturize all of me with it.
ogx
I treat my scalp with OGX Tea Tree Mint Extra Strength Scalp Treatment after my shower and at bedtime.

Dog Talking Buttons

As of today, Sophie and Kai have three buttons, two of which Sophie has used on purpose occasionally.

Those are Outside, Walk and Park. The chart at TheyCanTalk shows Outside and Walk as “Where” words, but we use these as “Doing” words (go outside, go for walk), so that’s how our tiles are set up.

We have a new Park button because the old one is acting up. I dunno if the battery needs changing or the button was damaged in the many trips. Sometime I’ll take time to look at it. While we were in Eden, with nothing even remotely like a Park available, I had repurposed it as a second Boop button to help Kai with target training. But I’m running out of buttons now. More are on order.

Sophie has been asking me for water with her voice and face a lot lately, so I wanted to introduce Water soon. But caveats:

  • It’s better to introduce words in pairs.
  • It’s better to hold off on food buttons if a learner is highly food oriented, as Sophie is.
  • We’ve been verbally modeling Play and All Done a lot lately.

So our order is probably going to be more like:

  1. Outside
  2. Walk and Park
  3. Water and Toy
  4. Play and All Done

And so on from there, but I’m waffling on the mixing and matching of items in 3 and 4 since we more heavily use “water” and “all done” verbally. How much does it matter, though?

Human Skin Things

I’ve been having trouble with my skin off and on for a long time, but the most recent “on” has been going on now since around June of 2019. I didn’t realize the full scale and scope until looking at my health diary recently and collating all the things labeled “eczema” and “dermatitis” and “psoriasis” together.

I’ve never actually had a diagnosis.

I started a spreadsheet of everything I’ve been prescribed for it and looked up what those things are for.

Yesterday I learned that the Mayo Clinic says that seborrheic dermatitis is diagnosed via biopsy. I’ve never had a biopsy for this!! Not even when I had the same dermatologist over multiple visits. Which, admittedly, has been a rarity, as my insurance provider changed 5 times over 4 years and then changed again last year. It’s about to change again because I’m moving.

Anyway, I gathered all the data, found out what was what, and developed a treatment plan. So far it’s going swimmingly. But I also realize that I need to learn how to moisturize.

Like a lot of white people, I didn’t grow up with moisturizing of any sort. And then when everybody started saying we need to moisturize every day, it seemed like we were talking about delicate rejuvenators for faces and hands. Not lotion for the whole of me.

I am finding out from TikTok that I need lotion for the whole of me. So, um yeah, exploring this.

Because I’m oblivious (and now it’s increasingly apparent, neurodivergent) this data gathering exercise is helping me discover:

  • I have actually applied the same medication multiple occasions before and not realized it.
  • My container of face moisturizer is three years old. I’m throwing that out.
  • I thought dermatologists would know their stuff, but their approach is random and capricious, compared to the Mayo Clinic. F that.

Update: while doing some research into moisturizers, I stumbled onto this page and OMG science!!! But I’m discovering things …

Current products:

  • Nizoral Anti Dandruff Shampoo
  • OGX Tea Tree and Mint Shampoo
  • OGX Tea Tree and Mint Conditioner
  • OGX Tea Tree Mint Extra Strength Scalp Treatment
  • Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Pure-Castile Soap Tea Tree
  • Noxzema Original Cleansing Cream
  • Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Manuka Honey Balm
  • Nuvel Cocoa Butter Lotion

I’m finding out that the Noxzema, Honey Balm, and Nuvel have to go. They all use oils that Malassezia yeast loves to eat. The soap and hair products do too, but good rinsing will help with that. It’s what persists on the skin that I’m concerned about and Noxzema persists like a lot, even after a hard rinse. So I’ll need a new:

  • Face cleanser
  • Face moisturizer
  • Whole body moisturizer

Relationship Pitfalls

I’ve been married four times, domestic partnered once, and engaged a forgettable number of times before the first marriage. I don’t know the recipe for a good marriage but I know four recipes for ones that don’t last.

Recipe the first: the undiscovered country.

This sunk all the engagements and the second marriage. Do not get involved in a serious romantic relationship until well after you’ve done your epic journey of self discovery and self acceptance. Be happily single for a couple of years first. Make sure you have a completely firm foundation of who and what you are. When you are happy and well adjusted by yourself, you can properly date compatible people and have a reasonably well balanced marriage or other romantic relationship.

I think this is the most common, most pervasive, and most invisible cause. The more marriages I see break up, the more obvious the pattern is that one or both of the participants didn’t fully know themselves going in. They chose partners who were compatible with their mistaken image of themselves. Not who they actually were. So the two were fundamentally incompatible but didn’t know it. The journey of discovery uncovered it. Painfully.

And I don’t think we can avoid it by setting a time limit on when to get married. Some people seem to know themselves fully coming out of high school, and others never do. My ex is around 60 and he is still jabbing all around the target but missing it. Some people never try.

And how do you know when you get there? For me, it was when I finally came to acceptance about my family of origin, about the things about myself I like least, about things I used to accept unquestioningly about my culture and the world. In fact, I’m still in that process, but the hardest, most painful work seems to be finished.

Recipe the second: ignoring red flags and gut feelings.

I knew my first husband was untrustworthy well before I married him. He was cheating to date me. When I set a boundary, he committed a fraud to get around it. I knew while I was holding the divorce decree that something wasn’t right, but I didn’t go with my gut. I kept my word and married him. When he would not budge on the topic of changing my last name, that was a clear signal that it wasn’t me he was interested in, but I ignored that, too. We had a week or maybe two before the fresh lies and absences began.

Recipe the third: accepting (or assigning) the role of parent instead of partner.

Don’t get me wrong; for some couples that kind of relationship works, provided everyone accepts that going in. This is what went wrong with my third marriage and domestic partnership. I didn’t treat them like fully formed grown-ass human beings, and then I resented doing all the heavy lifting. I see a huge number of relationships with this problem. This is the problem most others can easily spot too. Folks are learning how to develop good boundaries about this as an additional benefit of dismantling the patriarchy.

Recipe the fourth: changing somebody’s life without their consent.

I don’t hear as much about this as I used to. Remember in like the 50s when globalization was emerging, and men who worked at these big corporations were getting reassigned to offices in other faraway cities? It used to be customary for men to accept these assignments without even consulting their wives. “Hi honey, we’re moving to Boston.” That would totally not fly now.

But there are other ways that one partner can completely change another’s life, and life changing things require consent. They just do. It is the height of selfishness to sell your shared house, trade in a shared car, or adopt a pet without the consent of your partner. This one got my fourth marriage.