Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oh, my aching back...

In pain trying to get my clothes on, especially the socks. (That’s always the worst with a back problem.) Howard came out before 7:30 and started shoveling rock that Richard allowed him to take, creating one hell of a racket!

Packed up the tent, soaking wet. Richard made coffee. He asked about my back and I reluctantly said I wouldn’t be able to help today. He was quite understanding and thankful for my help yesterday. He was confident he’d be able to finish early today.

We stood by the radio talking, occasionally listening to the news. President Bush is in Vietnam, a place he did his best to avoid when we were at war.

Chilly, damp. Riding home, took it easy on the curves. The pavement was slippery. And my skill was compromised by the back pain. It would be a disaster to take a spill in this condition.

Along the coast, many divers and surfers were out. Courageous souls who venture into these frigid waters.

Avoided the Russian River route again. Not only is the highway construction irritating, the place is depressing, with all it rotting cottages and homeowners who stubbornly battle the river.

Stopped at “Long’s” for ibuprofen, then “Starbuck’s” for some pastry.

At home, unloaded, took a couple pills and crawled into bed.

Awoke after five hours, feeling somewhat improved.

Went out to “East West Café” at 8:00 p.m. Felt very lonely, isolated from those around me. After I finished, chatted briefly with Jana, one of the servers I know. Her telling others on the staff “this is the traveler” brought a little spark of life to the conversation, but only momentary.

Back at the apartment, crawled into bed again, but couldn’t sleep. Listened to Neko Case's “Fox Confessor” album, then got up and typed some notes.

I often give thanks for having a comfortable place to return to. And for the good fortune of having earned enough money to have lived so comfortably thus far. I’ve been lucky.

At Mondavi, I really feel I was overpaid, (though underpaid when compared to what my predecessor was being paid prior to my assuming the position!)

How many would admit they are overpaid?

Certainly those in the lower ranks of the company were not overpaid. But when it came to management, and especially Senior Management and Board Members, the compensation ranged from excessive to obscene.

If I were to have a company, there would be a strict wage cap: the highest paid executive would not be paid more than “x” times the lowest paid employee. And “x” would be something like “10” or “20”, not hundreds, or thousands.

Part of what drives wages to these extreme levels (besides greed, of course) is insecurity. The more insecure an environment, the higher the compensation required to draw talent into that situation.

I believe a solid company, with a demonstrated allegiance to its employees, and a more positive, nurturing environment, could actually provide more modest and equitable compensation, across the board, and by virtue of this, be much more attractive and successful.

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