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Clear Our Your Desk -- We've Got Apu Now
January 29th 2004, 17:42 CET by Caryn

For those who hate discussion about what affects the U.S., I apologize for the U.S.-centric nature of this topic. But I'm assuming this isn't just affecting the U.S., so I'm curious to hear from people outside of the U.S. on this.

My dad's been working as a CAD designer on chips for a couple of decades now. He's worked for Digital, IBM, Harris Semiconductor, and most recently Intel, working on their next-generation processors. But that was a year ago. When his contract with Intel came up for renewal a year ago, they chose not to. Since then he's been looking for more work in his industry and he can't find it, because all the jobs have now gone to India. It's been over a year now, so he's decided the tech industry doesn't have room for him anymore, and he's looking at other options for work.

Wired has an article about this very subject. While this was also linked at Slashdot, I was really interested in getting some discussion about it here, and I mean real discussion. I didn't create this topic to complain about said jobs going to India. I'm curious about discussing some of the things that the article -- which is very good -- brings up. Things like, how do you think this will effect the US economy in both the near and far future? What do you think about the article's assertion that the next phase for the US, now that we've moved out of both agriculture and industry, is one of discovery and innovation? Do you think this is going to affect the gap between the very, very rich and the current middle class?

To inject a little personal opinion into the topic, I'm torn on this issue. My dad has been directly affected by this, and I can see what it's done to him personally to find that no one wants to hire him, and for him to have to go looking for a new job in something he's not interested in or trained to do. On the other hand, I find that people who are trying to pass laws against outsourcing are ridiculous -- no one, including Americans, has a god-given right to these jobs. The world changes, and this is something that's a natural part of a global economy. And somewhere in the middle, I'm concerned about these changes occuring too fast for Americans to keep up with and how that's going to affect the current middle class. But when all is said and done, I believe what the article says when it talks about these type of changes having occured in the past and been for the greater good, despite individuals losing their jobs.

What do you think?
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Home » Topic: Clear Our Your Desk -- We've Got Apu Now

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#47 by Charles
2004-01-29 18:34:58
www.bluh.org
I mean, seriously, why should the economy of a country half-way around the globe have an immediate, short-term, effect on my pension funds? It just doesn't make any sense on the grass-root level of things, where most of us live and work. To hell with the yuppies, I don't want my economy hi-jacked by assholes in three-pieces.


How about because if you don't treat other countries good, one day they'll stop making your shoes?

-chris
#48 by Hoe Muffin
2004-01-29 18:35:47
poontanger@hotmail.com
I agree with the fact that free markets are a misnomer (European CAP, tariff's and restrictions everywhere), but on a more arbitrary level, I'm not eactly certain why a loss in an American job and a gain in of an Indian job is necessarily a bad thing. Globalization, for all its warts and imperfections, has done more to help the developing world then any sort of aid thus far. Efficiency is king, I guess.
#49 by Charles
2004-01-29 18:38:03
www.bluh.org
I'm not eactly certain why a loss in an American job and a gain in of an Indian job is necessarily a bad thing. Globalization, for all its warts and imperfections, has done more to help the developing world then any sort of aid thus far. Efficiency is king, I guess.


Because helping other people isn't worth it the instant any kind of sacrifice, on any level, enters in to the equation.

-chris
#50 by Bailey
2004-01-29 18:40:40
Treat other countries good? How about much gooder?

Life without shame.
#51 by mgns
2004-01-29 18:47:20
charles,
How about because if you don't treat other countries good, one day they'll stop making your shoes?


I'm sorry, what? Please elaborate.

He leans on the hood telling racing stories, the kids call him Jimmy The Saint.
#52 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 18:47:32
While I don't think pure globalization is evil, my big problem with the current situation is that in almost every case, it is a one-way street.  If the jobs are moving to India, that's fine, but in theory I should be able to move to India too to compete for those jobs. The reality is I can't because India has a large amount of protectionist policies in place that would stop me from doing this, as a foreigner.   That creates an unfair imbalance, IMO.  Of course, I'd work at McDonalds before I lived in India, since I'm not a big fan of crowds, and it is hard to avoid them in a small nation with billions of people, but that is somewhat besides the point of the fact that I couldn't even if I wanted to.

All in all, this isn't as big of a problem as it now seems and is a trend that will reverse itself fairly quickly.  While there is technical talent in India, it isn't infinite (just as companies found out it wasn't infinite here in 1999/2000).  The late-comers to the party will soon find out that they're being sold on the Alpha Indian performers, but are really getting the Deltas because there are only so many Alphas to go around.
Also, at least in the case of software development (less true for chip design), management will soon find out that their overhead costs skyrocket to the moon (quickly erasing any developer savings and then some) when they need to create the perfect requirements documents and design specifications required for an outsourcing project to succeed (not just in India, but anywhere off-site, where issues can't be resolved over an informal lunch meeting).

Mostly, this is just the latest management fad.  It'll work OK for a few companies, but a lot more are going to have egg on their face over the next 2-3 years when they realize that the dream they are being sold by the consulting companies who are advocating offshoring aren't the silver bullet they've been lead to believe.

I don't think any legislation is required to handle this situation, so I'd rather the politicians just stay out of it and let it run its course.  As a nation, we got really panicked by the Japanese manufacturing sector back in the 80s and assumed they'd be running the world any day now (go read some William Gibson to get a feel for how this changed our perception of the future), and look how that turned out...  The same will happen with India, I'm sure of it.  Nothing to really panic about, though yeah it does suck for people who need to find new lines of work in the near-term.

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#53 by Bailey
2004-01-29 18:53:13
True enough. I can't remember the company in question, but there was an article on Reuters or something about how one or two major corporations are pulling their tech support out of Bangalore and outsourcing elsewhere, because they people willing to work for the shitty wage call center workers get are generally the bottom of the Indian barrel when it comes to technical talent and English skills. Of course, they didn't say they were coming back stateside, but hey.

Life without shame.
#54 by Bailey
2004-01-29 18:53:38
They people!

Life without shame.
#55 by mgns
2004-01-29 18:54:59
Globalization, for all its warts and imperfections, has done more to help the developing world then any sort of aid thus far.

I disagree. The globalization trend has done nothing but plunge developing countries in even greater national debts. Highly specialised industries completely depending on over-seas contracts, crop burning and free-trade zones. The globalization so far has been nothing but a brand-aware extension of gunboat diplomacy.

He leans on the hood telling racing stories, the kids call him Jimmy The Saint.
#56 by jjohnsen
2004-01-29 18:59:31
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Only, a 200,000 home ain't much, these days.


That is crazy.  In this area you can get a 5 bedroom/three bath/huge kitchen with a basement for $200,000.

-Jeremy
#57 by jjohnsen
2004-01-29 19:00:30
http://www.johnsenclan.com
And no need to chime in with the "but you have to live with Mormons" so the price is still too high.

-Jeremy
#58 by "bago"
2004-01-29 19:02:33
What YF said. Anything bigger than the simplest components requires too much inter-communication to be efficiently outsourced.

I've worked with teams in Japan and Ireland, and despite having state of the art videoconferencing and being able to fly the leads back and forth regularly, the foreign teams were always at least 3 months late on their deliverables, and that was for a 3 month long project. The quality was so sub-standard that we had to re-do at least half of their work stateside. A 20 man product team with good communication and management will kick the ass of 400 outsourced contractors.
#59 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:03:00

 In this area you can get a 5 bedroom/three bath/huge kitchen with a basement for $200,000.


With bunkbeds in each bedroom you could fit 10 wives in comfortably.

Here in San Diego, $200,000 will get you a crack house in the worst part of town.  And I'm pretty sure the crack doesn't come with it.

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#60 by Hoe Muffin
2004-01-29 19:05:53
poontanger@hotmail.com
Your Friend: it really is only a matter of time before the China/India bashing books become popular, just like the 80's. I agree with you that management will most likely go overboard with the outsourcing idea, and we're going to see a gradual stablization. But there are many jobs that will disapear. Which does stink for people in the IT industry.
#61 by chris
2004-01-29 19:06:11
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
200k in most normal areas of the country will get you a very nice house. My brother and his wife just bought their first house here in Syracuse. It's a very nice two-bedroom ranch with a finished basement. They paid less than 100k for it.

200k's not going to cut it if you're looking for something in the immediate suburbs of any major city (NY, Boston, LA, SF, etc), is all.

-chris
#62 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:08:41
Well, sooner or later the Pakistanis and the Indians are going to exchange nukes, and most of China is likely to be killed by the next big flu pandemic.  

Nature (human or otherwise) has a certain way of dealing with overcrowded countries.

Comment Signature
#63 by crash
2004-01-29 19:09:38
The Wired article has a singular myopia. The jobs that are being outsourced to foreign countries, that I have heard of or seen, fall largely into three areas:

1. Unskilled labor for manufacturing.
2. High-end jobs that require heavy math or science or engineering skills.
3. Lower-end customer service positions such as call centers and email response teams, many of which require some ability in category 2.

As to the why? Speculation follows. #1 is pretty easy--there ain't no unions in Bangladesh. Also, the bulk of the things being outsourced can be produced in quantity and shipped cheap (this is a big factor, I believe)--stuff like shoes and trinkets and clothes, not cars and refrigerators and planes. Even with shipping costs, it's cheaper by far to produce the "small stuff" overseas.

#2... look at how many MBAs came out of colleges in the past 5 years, and compare/contrast with the number of engineers. American students apparently don't want to train in the hard sciences much any more (comparatively), and the ones that do won't work cheap. (This factor does tend to punish the selected vets in those fields who will work at a reasonable salary.)

#3 is a patch/fad/trend that'll burn itself out, I believe. Yes, you can get an English-speaking person on the phone to help American customers with issues, but it's a rare thing to go even a couple of hours without a customer complaint. If American customers would "vote with their dollars," we'd probably see less of this particular dynamic. Since they don't, though... yeah.

To fix? No clue. Not sure it even needs to be fixed. The world changes. Change with it, adapt to it, roll with it. Sometimes it sucks, sometimes it doesn't, but it's always changing.

In regards to "the middle class," this mythical construction of relative income shouldn't be (isn't?) a final resting place or a goal. It's the most transitory of the "classes" in America (which really isn't a class-based game, it's a skills-based one, imo), with more movement up out of it, and down through it, than staying-in-it. Using it as a metric for relative positioning is good, but treating it as a separate thing to be preserved has always struck me as a bad idea. "Y'know, I think I make enough money to live comfortably in mediocrity the rest of my days. Booyah, EYE R TEH WIN!" Stagnation is lack of flexibility is unemployment.

By this time tomorrow we can be doing BODY SHOTS off HOOKERS in some MEXICAN HELLHOLE
#64 by Bailey
2004-01-29 19:09:50
Jeremy

That is crazy.  In this area you can get a 5 bedroom/three bath/huge kitchen with a basement for $200,000.

But you have to-

And no need to chime in with the "but you have to live with Mormons" so the price is still too high.

...buy your weekend beer on Friday.

Life without shame.
#65 by crash
2004-01-29 19:10:09
And in terms of housing, I would be very very pleased to own a house worth $150k in San Antonio.

By this time tomorrow we can be doing BODY SHOTS off HOOKERS in some MEXICAN HELLHOLE
#66 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:13:48

"Y'know, I think I make enough money to live comfortably in mediocrity the rest of my days. Booyah, EYE R TEH WIN!"


Or uh, I think I make enough money to live comfortably and focus on some things that really matter, like the people in my life?

IOW, fuck you, Scrooge McDuck.

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#67 by crash
2004-01-29 19:15:04
So how much do you make, YF?

And how much would it take to "live comfortably and focus on the people in your life"?

Bet the 2nd number is higher than the first.

So fuck you, too.

By this time tomorrow we can be doing BODY SHOTS off HOOKERS in some MEXICAN HELLHOLE
#68 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:17:47
$90,000/yr.  

And no, I'm pretty fucking comfortable.  I'm pretty sure I would be even if I were making $45k or so, I'd just have to live somewhere that wasn't San Diego and eat out less and maybe drive a Kia.  No biggie.

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#69 by CheesyPoof
2004-01-29 19:21:10
Mostly, this is just the latest management fad.  It'll work OK for a few companies, but a lot more are going to have egg on their face over the next 2-3 years when they realize that the dream they are being sold by the consulting companies who are advocating offshoring aren't the silver bullet they've been lead to believe.

Telcordia, formerly Bellcore (if either of those name mean anything to anyone), off shored a product to an Indian firm a few years ago when the whole telecom meltdown thing was going on.  Customers got pissed as the quality sucked and delivery times increased.  It got to the CEO level of bitching because they brought the project back onshore.
#70 by Hoe Muffin
2004-01-29 19:23:17
poontanger@hotmail.com
Couple of quick notes:

Crash, my personal belief is that the sorts of jobs that are being outsourced can roughly be classified as "commodity jobs" ie jobs wherein the end product is some form of commodity - thus hard sciences, engineering and programming are likely to be outsourced, whereas ad campaigns aren't. Maybe a programmer in India isn't as efficient as one American progammer, but I'd be willing to bet 2-3 are.


Regarding Housing: The American housing market is, to a large extent, largely subsidised by the government. There is almost no where else on the planet that you can get such a low fix rate APR for 20+ years. Sorta ridiculous, really.

I disagree. The globalization trend has done nothing but plunge developing countries in even greater national debts. Highly specialised industries completely depending on over-seas contracts, crop burning and free-trade zones. The globalization so far has been nothing but a brand-aware extension of gunboat diplomacy.


mgns- I don't think that there is necessarily a correlation between growth of wealth in a country and smaller national debts. The collapses of the Argentinean and Russian governments was due much more to awful government policies regarding bank loans and the like and speculators attacking the currencies then globalization. If you could clarify the points regarding industries and gunboat diplomacy, I'd appreciate it.
#71 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:26:05

Maybe a programmer in India isn't as efficient as one American progammer, but I'd be willing to bet 2-3 are.


You're falling into the same trap as these CEOs, have obviously never been a programmer, nor have you read the Mythical Man Month or Peopleware.

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#72 by Squeaky
2004-01-29 19:28:47
So what happens when R&D gets outsourced?

Got throat problems? Why not try sucking on a Fisherman's Friend!
dvds
#73 by BobJustBob
2004-01-29 19:30:37
Bob needs a job but can't find one. That's all I have to contribute to this topic.


OT: My sister has decided that she really wants to go to Asia this summer to do missionary work. Her first choice is China and her second choice is Thailand.

I'm thinking about collectiong Bailey's China Tales and presenting them to her as an example of why this is a bad idea.

Dood.
#74 by Hoe Muffin
2004-01-29 19:30:59
poontanger@hotmail.com
I freely admit that my programming knowledge is non-existent, which, thankfully, is why I am not in charge of any major tech company, or even responsible for the HR.
#75 by Ergo
2004-01-29 19:38:12
Interesting article that kind of ties in with this discussion. The author is unabashedly liberal, but he makes some excellent points.

Duff Man promises a lotta things. Oh, yeah!
DVDs
#76 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:41:48
Despite the best efforts of some people in the field, programming remains as much art as engineering.  Any attempts to assembly-line the process thus far have failed, sometimes spectacularly.  A really talented programmer will easily outperform 10 or so mediocre ones.

Comment Signature
#77 by Shadarr
2004-01-29 19:43:27
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I think the CEO's get blinded by the low wages and don't realize there are associated costs and difficulties.  The more complex a job is the less easy it is to outsource.  Factory jobs are no problem, but programming is a complex profession that any 8 year old off the street can't do.  The dev team at my company has been carefully put together, and each hire involved probably 3 months of resume screening and head-hunting.  Are they doing the same kind of due diligence in India, or are they following the factory model and hiring 20 college grads and a manager?  I suspect the latter, and I also suspect it won't work.  One good programmer is worth more than all the crappy ones in  Bangalore.
#78 by mgns
2004-01-29 19:45:10
If you could clarify the points regarding industries and gunboat diplomacy, I'd appreciate it.


Sure. When the colonies gained independence the colonial powers withdrew their forces only in exchange for very favorable trade agreements and loans of huge sums of money to sustain and expand infrastructure and whatnot. Hence the huge debts of third world countries. Latest horror-number I saw was about 8 dollars going out of the indebted countries for every one dollar of foreign aid and/or investment. (No source, feel free to ignore that number, I guess.)

This has forced third world governments into a very weak negotiation position, where western nations strong-arm them into opening up their national resources and work-force for hideous exploitation. When western interests says jump, debtors jump - no matter how bad the consequences in the long-run. The oil-fields in Nigeria comes to mind.

He leans on the hood telling racing stories, the kids call him Jimmy The Saint.
#79 by Jibble
2004-01-29 19:46:25
#68 Your Friend
$90,000/yr.

What do you do?

If I had to choose between the '80s classics "Beat Street" or "Breakin'" for a prestigious award, I'd probably have to go with the latter, since its sequel introduced the mind-shattering concept of marrying *electricity* with the boogaloo.
#80 by Jibble
2004-01-29 19:47:27
#67 crash
So how much do you make, YF?

And how much would it take to "live comfortably and focus on the people in your life"?

Those two numbers are pretty much the same in my world.  Granted, I don't have a car payment right now, but that's because I've been driving the same car for five years.

If I had to choose between the '80s classics "Beat Street" or "Breakin'" for a prestigious award, I'd probably have to go with the latter, since its sequel introduced the mind-shattering concept of marrying *electricity* with the boogaloo.
#81 by mgns
2004-01-29 19:48:16
jibble,


#68 Your Friend
$90,000/yr.


What do you do?


It's very, very, degrading.

He leans on the hood telling racing stories, the kids call him Jimmy The Saint.
#82 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:48:24
I'm a "Senior Software Engineer".  The kind of person whose job will be going to India, never to return, any day now.  

Also, the number may seem a lot larger than it is in practice depending upon where you live; just like the idea of $200,000 house seems quaint to me.

Comment Signature
#83 by mgns
2004-01-29 19:48:52
... to fuck up craptags.

He leans on the hood telling racing stories, the kids call him Jimmy The Saint.
#84 by Hoe Muffin
2004-01-29 19:49:19
poontanger@hotmail.com
Part of the dangers of the MBA degree is that it teaches you to "quantify" things. Salary and productivity can be quantified. Skills of a programmer is a little more difficult to quantify. Which, coincidentally enough, is why I find it moronic to hire an MBA to run a company. People should rise in the ranks.
#85 by Your Friend
2004-01-29 19:50:43
At one point in my career, as it were, I was pulling in $120k/year, but I lived in New York City at the height of the 'boom' which means I still had to live in an apartment the size of a dog house.  Cost of living is funny like that.

Comment Signature
#86 by Bailey
2004-01-29 19:51:29
Bob

As much as I don't care what happens to you, since your sister is a relative unknown, I'd recommend Thailand. China is a godless country, so arguably missionaries are more needed there, but they really don't care for religion on the whole. Openly hostile don't care. Moreover, the Chinese hate Americans to a surprising extent, and avidly sympathize with the swarthy side of the recent limited skirmish in the Middle East.

Thailand's got some crazy pagan hoodoo religions, so I'm sure she can get her God on there without being beaten or spit upon for forcing her beliefs on others. Also, I'm sure she'll have a blast shaming the sex tourists.

Seriously, China is a bad idea. I met one Christian Chinese national in a city of six million, and his father was the minister for the only church in the whole city, so he was more or less obliged to attend.

Life without shame.
#87 by Charles
2004-01-29 19:51:40
www.bluh.org
In regards to "the middle class," this mythical construction of relative income shouldn't be (isn't?) a final resting place or a goal. It's the most transitory of the "classes" in America (which really isn't a class-based game, it's a skills-based one, imo), with more movement up out of it, and down through it, than staying-in-it.


Actually, I read an article recently by some economics guy who Knows Stuff, that said that more and more often, people aren't moving out of their class, and the US is moving back to the whole idea that you won't outpace your parents.

-chris
#88 by yotsuya
2004-01-29 19:51:46
My wife and I are looking to buy a $210,000 home on a quarter-acre home with the Estralla Mountains in the background. 5 bedroom, a den, house professionally wired for sound, video, and internet... It'll cost $1500 a month. We're strongly considering it.

That's a beautiful way to go. Shot by Yot. In more ways than one. -mgns
#89 by Charles
2004-01-29 19:53:54
www.bluh.org
Heh, I'm paying 1450$ a month for my friggin' rental condo.

-chris
#90 by Bailey
2004-01-29 19:57:31
Canadian.

Life without shame.
#91 by Shadarr
2004-01-29 19:57:43
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I love that new FedEx ad where the guy says "I don't do shipping... I have an MBA"  and the woman says "Oh, then I'll have to show you how to do it."

Part of the reason for all the outsourcing hype and other unsound decisions is that corporations, and the MBA's that run them, are totally focused on making the next quarter's numbers and don't give much thought at all to what will benefit the company five years from now.  By outsourcing the dev team a company can save $80,000 per programmer (PNOOMA) but a year from now, the product will be quantitatively worse than it is now and sales will plummet.
#92 by Squeaky
2004-01-29 19:58:23
#88 yotsuya
My wife and I are looking to buy a $210,000 home on a quarter-acre home with the Estralla Mountains in the background. 5 bedroom, a den, house professionally wired for sound, video, and internet... It'll cost $1500 a month. We're strongly considering it.

Can I move in with you?

Got throat problems? Why not try sucking on a Fisherman's Friend!
dvds
#93 by Jibble
2004-01-29 20:00:24
#82 Your Friend
I'm a "Senior Software Engineer".  The kind of person whose job will be going to India, never to return, any day now.  

Also, the number may seem a lot larger than it is in practice depending upon where you live; just like the idea of $200,000 house seems quaint to me.

Very true.  Cost of living generally has a huge impact on salaries.

If I had to choose between the '80s classics "Beat Street" or "Breakin'" for a prestigious award, I'd probably have to go with the latter, since its sequel introduced the mind-shattering concept of marrying *electricity* with the boogaloo.
#94 by Hoe Muffin
2004-01-29 20:00:54
poontanger@hotmail.com
Sure. When the colonies gained independence the colonial powers withdrew their forces only in exchange for very favorable trade agreements and loans of huge sums of money to sustain and expand infrastructure and whatnot. Hence the huge debts of third world countries. Latest horror-number I saw was about 8 dollars going out of the indebted countries for every one dollar of foreign aid and/or investment. (No source, feel free to ignore that number, I guess.)

This has forced third world governments into a very weak negotiation position, where western nations strong-arm them into opening up their national resources and work-force for hideous exploitation. When western interests says jump, debtors jump - no matter how bad the consequences in the long-run. The oil-fields in Nigeria comes to mind.


Of course, one argument one might make is that this is an example of how globalism still is justified in theory, but not in practice. Then again, if it is no good in practice, then it can't be a particularly useful theory.

However, I would like to stress that foreign debt is not necessarily the cause of meltdowns, rather it is largely due to poor lending by banks, corruption in the government, and of course, speculators attacking the currency. It is true that the WTO organization, and all the meetings in Doha, Cancun, etc. were set up to mediate tariff's and the like, but until the rich nations budge on agricultural policies (which are despicable) that protect their farmers, the poorest nations will continue to be hurt. That being said, I would argue that human rights conventions as well as public pressure from the home front has prevented Western countries from committing the attrocities of the British Empire during the peak of its colonialization phase. And I believe that in the aggregate, globalization, even in its imperfect form, has been a strong tool in reducing the overall level of absolute poverty: A report from the World Bank in 2001 appears to indicate as much.

If you're so inclined, you can purchase it here:

http://econ.worldbank.org/prr/structured_doc.php?sp=2477&st=&sd=2857

The Economist has a quickie summary of the topic:

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=898112
#95 by yotsuya
2004-01-29 20:01:06
Squeak-

Only if you feed the dogs, throw out the garbage, and become our security ninja.

Keep in that there are 6 of us in my family, so we NEED the room.

That's a beautiful way to go. Shot by Yot. In more ways than one. -mgns
#96 by Bailey
2004-01-29 20:02:20
Shadarr

That commercial made me question my consideration of getting a business degree. An MBA barely seems to get your foot in the door these days, everyone wants 3-5 years experience at a single location.

Life without shame.
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