Thursday, September 27, 2007

Back by Popular Demand

The CrankyPM is back on line -- healthy and still employed.
She is also back in the blogroll at left, in the headliner spot.

I am honored and humbled to have CrankyPM respond to my worried post about her, and feel a little blog connection. (subliminal message that you should hire me, CPM, when you form your own company. Spec samples available upon request)

I want to comment, too, on the disturbance this sudden disappearance caused in our intersecting sets. Perhaps this sort of thing occurs on MySpace all the time, and I don't know it because I am a grown-up. I was touched by the threads that started on other sites looking for evidence that the sudden shutdown was only a technical glitch, and only temporary.

Everybody back to your keyboards. We're ok again. Nice mobilization, people.

And call me for drinks, PMs. We'll meet at the place by the thing where we went that time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pilgrimage to Lowell

It's a tough go down at the Mill these days -- not tougher than usual, I suppose, but an accumulated toughness that has become hard to rise above. Like a seige. Where the commodity being withheld is good sense.

But I've mixed my metaphors again.

During this week off, I have been "calling in my people," as we say in my circle of friends, including the real mill girls themselves.

At the national park in downtown Lowell, I sat outside the replicated dormroom in the French St boarding house and listened to the voices of the girls as they prepared for bed. This is not a metaphysical statement - they pipe it in.

This photo is Eliza Adams, who really worked in the drawing in room and left letters and scrapbooks of her time in the mills. I couldn't read them; I could only stand this close to a trunk behind glass, bearing her initials.

A block away from here I found St Joseph the Worker shrine, and said a quick prayer for Eliza's soul, and for Harriet Robinson, and Lucy Larcom, and for all working women. I lit a candle for us all (that is, I clicked the button on top of the candle, which lacked some of the ceremony). I didn't know this prayer then; I have only found it now.

I have also begun reading The Lowell Offering again, which contains prayers of its own.
.... an answer to the question, why we work here?
The time we do have is our own. The money we earn comes promptly; more so than in any other situation; and our work, though laborious is the same from day to day; we know what it is, and when finished we feel perfectly free, till it is time to commence it again.

~~ Josph. L. Baker, 1845
From the girls who brought you the 10 hr work week. Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Modern Jackass

My favorite radio show is This American Life; my favorite episode of TAL, of all time, is a segment called "Modern Jackass." You can listen to it on your own -- it is the opening segment of the July 2005 show linked here. Listen to the whole thing if you want, especially if you have never heard TAL before.

Once you have an understanding of Modern Jackass, you can appreciate the week I just spent trolling through museums unfortunately close to people who visit museums in order to spew jackass at docents.

Come with us to Fruitlands (I fondly refer to it as the Museum of Failed Utopias). The collections are displayed in a neighborhood of outbuildings on some beautiful property in Shirley, MA. To protect the collections, a series of Yankee ladies are also installed, and they delight (delight!) in telling the visitors what they know.

Unfortunately, so do the visitors.

So let's call this couple David and Randall. I have made the names up entirely. David looks exactly like this cartoon except his sunglasses are AMBER and have that Centerfielder aerodynamic shape to them. If you are picturing Ali G, you are almost there. Randall is arm candy, and a foreigner, who is learning America history the Modern Jackass way.

We first encountered them in the Shaker House, where David interrupts our guide several times to demonstrate various ways he does not know the Bible or the basics of christianity. Real transcript:

Sarah the docent: "I just love the man's name: Shadrach Ireland."
David: Shadrach Abednego?
Sarah: No, Shadrach Ireland
David: What is that from? Shadrach Abednego?
My Sister and I: the Bible. (ok, we sort of italicized it, so "You Ass" could be heard.)
David: Where is that in the Bible?
We: Daniel. (we refuse to look at him, and just smile at the docent, who has now completely lost her train of thought)

Fast forward through several other asinine moments of David naming other towns in New York he has heard of because he has not heard of Niskayuna. ("Is that near Albany? Utica? Syracuse?")

Sarah begins talking about the Shakers' precept of celibacy, which is easy to understand if you let her explain the life of Ann Lee, but hard to understand if you are saying, "But that's basic Old Testament, be fruitful and multiply. Isn't that what fruitlands was all about?"

No, but thanking you for reading up to Chapter 8.

Later, we could hear him pointing out to his companion, "This is a Shaker chair" and reading him a map of New England. We went over to a computer and blasted some Shaker music just to drown him out.

They were everywhere we went. It was so drastic my sister ducked into an off-limits room just to escape them. Apparently, some wicker baskets were in danger, based on the way we were shoo'd away.

They were in front of us on the route. Behind us was a larger party -- 2 middle-aged couples and someone's miserable teenage children. One of the couples had recently purchased an old home, and were using this opportunity to find out how one treated wide-plank floors, and what would "authentically" line a chimney. The woman in the other couple recognized someone else on the tour who didn't recognize her, and that was just awkward for everyone. In the art gallery, the man with the floors (who had already smacked his too-tall forehead on the door of the Shaker House) read the name of the paintings and agreed with them, like this: "Mt Lafayette. Yep, yep, that's Lafayette."

I pulled out my "things to do in retirement" list and scratched off "volunteer at museums."

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Remember my argument with poor Marbio Manka from Verizon? He failed to talk me into his cheaper phone plan because the taxes and fees, including Remembering the Maine, would still be the same.

UPDATE: Marbio missed the dealbreaker point. He didn't have the shortfall.

Verizon has been charging me for not, in fact, using my phone enough.

The list of fees I was willing to pay, even though they added up to about $10 every month, and included rebuilding New York (though I know where $455B could be had... link to this site. Jaw-dropping. you may not come back -- I almost didn't -- so do that after), giving the internet to Appalachia or some such, tone tone service (which...don't even...) a special fee just for the joy of living in Massachusetts....

Today I discovered a $10 shortfall fee. If my long distance service is not at least 9.99 per statement, I am charged the difference. They are guaranteed their $10.

I don't know how this costs them money, but Joe the service boy advised that the unlimited service -- which I clearly don't need since I made 3 phone calls last month -- would service me better. The monthly fee was less and there was no shortfall. The fees are the same, of course, you silly Amish girl.

Plenty of people are blogging about this. The last few topics I have raised here I have discovered on other people's blogs. Which means I really should finish the commentary on Dietrich Bonheoffer, but I think I might lose Neilson points.

But because so much other research has been done, I can draw it all in, and save you the time and advertising exposure. Here at BankAmerica-Staples Drawing-In, we remain blissfully ad free.

FCC approved

I hate you, FCC. So do these people. Somehow you are getting a kickback, and we know it.

How long have I been paying this?

I am afraid to look. Only since April 2007. I will give you one shortcut. When you get into the voice-activated menu (any voice activated menu) do not tolerate the impatient computer woman. No matter what prompts she gives you, say "Customer Service."

It will work. Ask for Marbio, if they didn't let him go.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Our Kind of Research

Some time ago, the Drawing-In Room went on and on about pie. You thought it couldn't get deeper than that.

Neither did Miss Bender, until Faithful Reader forwarded us a link to purchase the 2007 Report on Pancakes and Briddle Scones: World Market Segmentation by City. You need this in your life. Like the show cat scrapbook found at the antique store, you want to read it more than you want to own it. The cat book price was quoted by the vendor as a "WHOLE lotta money," so you know I didn't pay the $795 for the pancake report.

seven hundred ninety-five dollars and no/100.

You'll be pleased to know Amazon has it in stock.

Ok, let's break it down. What can $800 buy me? It weighs a pound and a half, so factor in more than $5 for shipping.

330 pages of 2000 cities with "the economic potential for ... pancakes and griddle scones for the year 2007." This blog should not praise the world's (potential) fascination for flap...jacks as much it will celebrate the man behind the graphs: Philip M. Parker.

Philip Parker, you have Googled yourself, and we know it, and we want you to know that you have fans and admirers in the room. In fact, you have friends in other rooms, and ought to send Amazon a nice big thank you for the way they are promoting you.

Things Parker knows about that make us love him all the more:

Diseases (the fascinating ones)
Tourettes, Bells Palsy, Marfan Syndrome, Lou Gehrig's, and some diseases that aren't even named after people.

Life Information (all stages)
head lice, teen violence, insomnia, gonorrhea, anxiety, menopause, hairloss, chocolate...

Food (it's not just for breakfast anymore)
wheat gluten, ice cream, brined fish, "food animals" (as in...pets or meat), blanched nuts (shocked by pet eating), and of course, the griddle scone.

linguistic culture, crosswords. Buy this one for the nightstand where your father-in-law will stay when he visits.

How did he get so smart?
Wharton School. But he did have 3 BAs and 2 Masters before the PhD, so maybe Warton can't claim it all.

Is he real?

It does appear so.

How old is he? He looks like Dick Cavett.

He is 47. Insert your mother's voice saying, "You know, Mrs. Parker's son has really made something of himself."

And by the time John Keats was your age, he was dead.
this article ends here because I ran out of ambition. again.

Friday, September 14, 2007

70s Hit Parade

Over at Monkeys for Helping, they've been enjoying some 1970's TV commercials (enjoy this concerned Hostess Mom who serves fruit pie on a plate).

This sent me into the Brain Attic in search of my cigarette jingles, which have mostly collapsed to dust beside my red Mary Janes and this freakish thing I just got over. (oh, I smell it's rubber head, just looking at it.)

Here is one I once knew by heart

Catchy. On a 6 year old, especially charming.

But all great things must end, and I learned from the google-nets that the last commercial aired during the tonight show, Jan 1, 1971. I guess I missed it.

Also, from Otto, this just in: cigarettes aren't just cool (they are soooo cool), they are good for you, AND ... they make you damned good-looking.
Yes, you read that correctly.

She totally will, that skank.

President Trademarks Inability

NYT... paper of record.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

CrankyPM, We Hardly Knew Ye

Less than a month ago, our Dean at the Business Women's Finishing School and Social Club turned me on to a blog called the CrankyPM, and for a brief time, the drawing-in room was linking to her.

I know PM. I have been close to PM. Some of my best friends are PMs. I'm still suspicious one or two of my friends is CrankyPM, but all of that is forgotten now, because CrankyPM has disappeared.

If you click now, you get your browser's preferred "page can not be displayed," and this is no minor outage. It has been over a week now, and I am afraid the funniest truest commentary on product management I had ever found was just a figment of my imagination. Where have you gone, Cranky One?


In one of her last posts, the CrankyPM announced she was with-child. This is probably the obvious culprit, though no one blogs like Moms. So my guess is she has opened a personal blog instead and let the professional blog go. This is starting to sound like one of those working mom/stay-at-home mom debates: Can you "blog it all"?

More dramatic theory - she was found out. In the blog-world, this is known as being Dooced, or discovered by your employer to be blogging about them ...with shocking consequences. Here at Drawing-In, we skirt that every day (clever subtext our specialty). Just this week Boss of Bosses challenged those who blog to "tell me to my face."

This is a good time to list afresh the cast of characters, because of course they have changed again. From the top down, they are Boss of Bosses (until I can think of a good name. Charles Atlas is starting to feel pretty good right now). Next there is aNew Veep, not yet on the scene, so no name can be provided. (VPX, shall we say.) Then Big Sweaty. Then Rock Star (meet the new boss, same as the old boss), then The Boss, then me.

So, yeh, watch what you say, fella.

What the hell were we talking about? Oh, yes, CrankyPM.

Theory number 3: It's a damn lot of trouble. And, you know, it really is. Maybe her company started releasing every week instead of every quarter. No, wait, that's me again.

Just too much publicity. CrankyPM is the JD Salinger of the Internet! She spoke openly of the surprising increase in traffic and the pressure to perform. Even Dooce, on the web so long her URL is, (2001) takes the occasional break. I don't know that I could be writing this blog 6 years from now. You can add blogger-block to the list of reasons people have children.

All to say.... CrankyPM has been removed from the blogroll and replaced with Notes on a Napkin: kids, books, observational musings and contemplative thought in a Northwest vein. I think you'll like this sample.

And if you are the CrankyPM, just send me your new URL. I won't tell anyone it was you.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Please do not kiss the art

Another Clinton Day is upon us. Which means this blog may have gone on far too long.

I must keep this fresh for you, just as Clinton has kept Olde Home Day fresh. This year's princess was Snow White, the raffles were spread out throughout the park, and the Icon Museum was open.

The what-now?
I think you heard me.

It is the largest collection in North America, and one of the largest outside Russia. And it shares the distincton of being from the same hometown as Agnes Moorehead.

I leave you to explore the website on your own. What I want to discuss is how the curators and docents hope to keep little old ladies from kissing the art.

It's an ethical delimma in one way. This collector (and it is a private collection) purchased his collection outright -- they are not raided from ruins and the like. Some of the pieces are 600 years old and displayed in open view, not behind glass or ropes. Visitors are invited to approach with magnifying glasses provided to see the fine details. But please, say the signs, do not touch the icons. They say this every few feet. And for good reason.

Because the faithful expect to venerate them as religious objects. And this must be a difficult habit to break.

I witnessed this myself as 2 women -- likely a mother-daughter crew, about 70 and 90 -- made their way past this 1590 likeness of St Paul, and another of Christ Crucified. The older woman blanced herself on her walker, kissed her fingertips and touched them to Paul's feet. Then moved to the crucifixion scene and did the same on Christ's feet and each hand, with a fresh kiss for each touch.

Add to my list of things to worry about the worry that the museum will eventually encase their pieces to preserve them from the things they were created for. Or that continued attention from human hands will eventually wear away these antiquities and early Church artifacts.

In some of the pieces in the main gallery one can already see sections completely worn away by faithful hands. The fondling of statues seems to be an acceptable practice, and unrelated to any questions of theology.

I once attended a Good Friday service with a Catholic friend. This is not the practice in my sect -- we will have a Passover, or a Maundy Thursday, called Tenebrae usually now. I was surprised at how moving the service was -- a real funeral, with all the shock and fear as if it was happening right then. I was unsure about venerating the cross, but I gave it a try. I now understand how the tengible gesture of that intangible relationship can be both electrifying and calming, and at the same time.

Now I don't know if I want those ladies to hold that back when facing a wall of Mothers of God.

I am trying to get my hands on the proceedings from this 2006 conference to see what they came up with.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mill Update

I have had the opportunity today to fill in some of the blanks since my last update, which perhaps you can no longer tell was August 17th. Be sure to scroll down and read the in-betweens, which I have back dated because that is my prerogative.

But since I am sure that the readership is scrambling for news, I will start with this update, then upload my other meaningless musings about my daily life.

So. What's the latest at the Mill?

You will enjoy knowing that Labor Day Weekend was a full-on around the clock scramble to respond to what we shall call recall of several million bolts of cloth. In an institution with no sense of its own irony, after laying people off to advance their lives, they celebrated the advances of Labor/management relations through mandatory unpaid overtime.

And a taco buffet. So that was nice.

Fortunately, I wasn't there. I was on a southbound plane, with Chained to the Desk tucked under one arm, without apology, and said "wish you well." Very grateful that I was not asked to change plans, because I don't know what I would have done.

Came back to find my team looking like this. I've mixed my metaphors. Sorry.
The end is not in sight. We are working to repair a lot of years of sloppy in a very short time, in a desparate and fairly disorganized way. It's like any previous day times ten. A standing item on our daily agenda has become "who is officially or unofficially on duty this weekend?"
Chained to the Desk offers 6 characteristics of "companies that promote work addiction."
1 - The mission of the organization is denied, ignored, or forgotten
(noble or otherwise)
2 - Corporate survival reigns supreme
(there is already battlefield folklore of an officer being fired on the spot for disagreeing with an approach. I have yet to get eyewitness proof of this story)
3 - Profit is the driving force of the company
4 - The environment is self-centered and has no boundaries or respect.
(number of co-workers I can see on IM right now, Sat 6:50pm = 7)
5 - Crisis management is the norm
(in spades)
6 - Intimacy does not exist.
I am not so sure about this one. Mostly because it rarely exists in me, so I don't always recognize it. But the environment down-the-mill is not in fact cold and impersonal, as the book describes. It is Band of Brothers bordering on Lord of the Flies with a hope of the Gdansk Shipyard. And you can look all those references up yourself.
see also the Stockholm Syndrome posting on the finishing school.
And that's what's new at the Mill.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bat fest 2007

Full Discloure: this is not my photograph. It belongs to It is difficult to photograph Austin's bat colony effectively. They emerge at dusk, and you must be far away to see this angle of it.

It is Bat Fest Weekend in Austin, which is just a themed excuse for even more live music and people watching, the city's 2 favorite pasttimes. I was not in town specifically for the Bat Fest, and honestly, the bats are probably annoyed by the whole thing. More disclosure: I didn't last long either. After a pleasant riverside walk to the bridge (now known as the Ann Richards bridge), a limeade, and a stroll of the vendors, 2 Zydeco songs and a couple of photos... I declared it too... hot.. to and asked that we leave.

I have lost my southern chops. How did I ever live here? Oh, yes, I recall -- it was winter.

I was there to visit the goddaughter, whose photo I am not allowed to post, but I promise you she is a flawless beauty like her mother. We have not yet had our long heart-to-heart, but we have covered "where's your foot," and Goodnight Moon. I am sure once she has a vocabulary, we will chat into the night.

So, from the archive - November 1997 - my first bat sighting: (the diarist reserves the right to change tenses as often as it suited her)

I do not know the size of the bat colony that lives under the Congress Ave bridge [I do now - 1.5M]. It may be much larger than it appears, or much smaller. The individual bats are quite small -- sparrow-sized -- and though they move quickly, it takes 15 or 20 minutes for the full colony to emerge. Here's how it works: Just before sundown, find a spot by the river, beneath the bridge. It's very windy on the bridge, and the view of the colony over your head is more spectacular than looking at them below.

If you arrive about 10 minutes before sundown you may get impatient waiting, but you'll witness the changing of the guard that occurs between the birds and the bats, and you might miss it if you're too late. Those flycatching Texas birds with the whoopy call made quite a ruckus as they filled a tree next to the stone bank wall. Then suddenly, they disappeared in one flight -- silently.

Next the pigeons began to stir. They dwell under the bridge as well; or more accurately, on the edges of the overhangs. As the sun draws closer to the water, they emerged, and flew in low swooping circles over the river, like Olympic doves. After several passes, they returned to the bridge, preened and coo'd a bit, then took off.

The sunset seems to take forever. But as it disappears behind the skyline, they appear, from all ends of the bridge, beneath the high arches. They come together in the center of the bridge, about ten yards out, and flock together downriver, undulating and schooling like fish.

I don't know where they go. I don't know how they look coming back. Just as spectatular, I would imagine.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The tomatoes are in

It is nearly Fall in New England. We mark this by Back-to-school time, Labor Day, the closing of the public pools, the transition from peach trees to apple trees. The tomato harvest.

I don't buy tomatoes in the store anymore, or ask for them raw on a sandwich. They don't even taste like food. But a tomato grown on a vine, in a backyard or off the deck, is still one of God's great gifts. And I eat myself into a stupor on them.

Understand that I don't garden myself. I am more of an indoor girl.

I am a person people like to take care of, despite my passive agreesive (and sometimes not so passive) response to that gesture. It's probably because I so clearly don't do it myself. I had a co-worker who would, every day, hand me her cast-off fruit from her lunch, as if she wasn't going to eat it. I found out much later that she brought it for me, but she knew I wouldn't eat it if I knew that, only if I thought I was doing her a favor.

I'm really just a highly functioning basset hound in most situations.

When I put the word out that I will take tomatoes off the hands of the home gardner, I reap the full bounty. here's what you do: Wash it. Slice it (circles). Pepper it. Eat it.
Anything else is unnecessary.

I could link here to a whole bunch of recipies for your tomato harvest, but I am not going to. That sounds foody, and I would rather just eat.

But this was odd, so I leave it with you.