Thursday, November 29, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Isn't it just the livin' end that you can turn your calculator upside-down and make it spell something? And what if that something is the word "Boobs"? Well...Pet Rock: out. Calculator spelling: in.
The test of a real capitalist, I think, is one who can jump on a craze at the exact moment that the public thinks it is HIGH-larious, convince us to buy something ridiculous, then slip away with all our money and no merchandise left over.
Maybe the money fell out of the 53704 in our pockets....
Friday, November 23, 2007
I started a list of topics, with the clever intention of back-dating them, to make you feel like there was a LOT to catch up on. But you know what happens when you make that choice is that each post has to have a story arc and a satisfying conclusion, which is not always readily available. If I lump them all together as one big week of posting, I only have to do that once, and I could accurately date this as today and we are all caught up.
So I am going to compromise. I am going to consolidate vacation week into 1 post, dated Nov 23, as you see today, then a couple of things that have been on-deck. You don't really want to see this much of the process, do you?
Here then, my whirlwind tour of central TX.
Memo to Southwest Airlines - we don't need you to be "funny." We understand that the saefty instructions are dull, and rote, and you are looking for a way to make us pay attention. We admit we are captive to you and you have a microphone. But seriously... it is 6am. It is Thanksgiving Day. Spare me.
Anybody remember this story? I heard no one, in 4 take-offs, say "eenie meenie," but I did hear a flight attendent proclaim (in an imitation Mickey Mouse voice) that we were landing in "the happiest place on earth," when in fact it was Baltimore. It might take a talented lawyer to equate such sarcasm with racism, but the real lesson of the original lawsuit is "stay with the script."
Thumbs up to the new boarding process, though. It will take people some time to feel comfortable "cutting" in line, but we adopted a sort of hold-your-number-in-clear-view posture and an ask-before-you-step in practice. It will catch on. I had B-17 at one point, and couldn't get the song out of my head for the whole day.
Crazy thing we did - Friday, 4am. Arrived at the San Marcos Prime Outlets by 5. When I lived in this town 20 years ago, there was no such attraction. People came to San Marcos for the river, the university, the natural darkness of Wonder World. (2 things that haven't changed: that logo, and Buddy, who still runs the place)
But this was a story about the Prime Outlets. They opened at midnight on Thursday, and by 6am Friday were rummaged into complete disarray. We actually had to leave the Gap when I was overcome by the need to fold everything. In the Pottery Barn we met a man who had been at it since the doors opened after a 200 mile drive from Corpus. ("when in Rome" tip: never add the "Christi.") He didn't seem aware of what he was buying, but did comment that the crowds were "thinning out." We bought several baby outfits and went to Johnny Rockets for breakfast/lunch.
What did I buy, you ask? Nothing for you, I am afraid. I selfishly hit the Kaspar outlet (50% off already marked down merchandise before 8am) then needed to get a new suitcase at Samonsite to carry them home in.
We held out until 12, then had to come home to nap.
The baaay--beee, of course - (ya gotta see the bay-beee) Much progress since last year, in the form of standing, walking, vocalizing (sounds just like English, only no words you would recognize). The current favorite game is making chairs out of things, like baskets and bongos, by turning them over and sitting on them. Then standing on them to see if Mama will say No every time. She will, kid, and sometimes just with that look. You can't beat it. I've tried.
Canyon of the Eagles - is only here for people who Google it. we'll cut to the chase: The Great Escape package is only great, Theresa, if you tell the customer the correct date for the river cruise, it is not raining through the star-gazing tour, there is entertainment actually booked, and the restaurant is open. None of which was true. We elected to drive back home rather than pay to stay in a cabin the size of Thoreau's house, dining on wine. Maybe in the Big '80s, Theresa, but not anymore. This is the mother of a 1-year old, and she was promised a Great Escape. It was clear from our front desk experience that Theresa would not be fired, or even remotely scolded, but we agreed that Buddy at Wally World would have put his size 10s right up her bee-hind.
Hey, Austin has music in it - so we went out instead. Even a sudden cold snap can not keep the locals off their patios, where your table comes with a Mexican lap blanket and an overhead heater. The band is working hard enough not to need one, and a couple of martinis in... well, you hardly notice. As middle-aged ladies, we went inside at 7:30 for our dinner reservation -- the exquisite tuck-n-roll booths pictured above are from our establishment, called The Belmont.
My best friend now eats meat. It's the damnedest thing. She says now that her daughter is weaned, she will wean herself, but I had never heard her ask a waitress if she should have the salmon or the New York strip. I was so scared I had the butternut squash, so as not to upset the universe.
3 rounds of Scrabble - 2 me; 1 her. Dr. A has taught me the double-play, which my best friend does not think is fair. I have promised to draw the line at memorizing anagrams.
It is 11 o'clock (really) though not really the 23rd. I wanted to post one more 70s repressed memory before retiring. I think you'll agree it's a good one.
Back to work tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
The Animatronic Singing And Talking Elvis.
copy by Hammachler Schlemmer. Snarky commentary is my own.
First question - was the name "hammachler schlemmer" made up by your Grandfather's brother, who had it in for the Hammachler family whose 5-and-dime ran his little shop off the block? Was it originally "Hammachler Schmammachler"? And am I 90?
This is the animatronic Elvis, a singing and talking robotic bust adorned with The King's trademark leather jacket, sideburns, and pompadour, recalling the musical icon's performance during the highest-rated television event of 1968-Elvis Presley's Comeback Special.
Whew! I need to rest a minute.
The device (Device?! It's the King of Rock and Roll. Show some respect) sings eight of Elvis' most acclaimed songs including Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock, and the mouth, eyes, and head movements are synchronized with the music, replicating his unique facial expressions (including the curled upper lip) and baritone voice. Notice that the "curled lip" is real copy. Do NOT leave me alone in the dark with this.
Integrated infrared sensors in his jacket detect ambient motion, prompting Elvis to say "Bring it on back now" or another famous Elvis remark as you walk by, and the device has 37 monologues recorded from interviews that play at a touch of a button, each reflecting on the life and career of The King. I would, however, like it in my workspace.
A karaoke feature allows you to sing along with Elvis and the device has an audio port for connecting an MP3 player or another audio source, allowing you to play your own music through Elvis's 10-watt speaker. OF COURSE IT DOES. How else do you justify the $300 price tag?
Includes a remote control, 1/4" microphone jack, and an AC/DC adapter. Remote requires three AAA batteries. 20 1/4" H x 13 3/4" D x 21 3/4" L. (10 lbs.)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The best part of the story is that when my sister asked the question, it was because she had a list she wanted me to make for her.
But I am telling the story out of order. Let me start over.
I have referenced the book list here before, and with a horrifying amount of detail. I really don't know what I was thinking. What I didn't mention then is that I started this book list 20 years ago. Same list. It has survived 8 moves and several pens, but over the past year or so I have discovered that it is no longer interesting to read things I thought might have been interesting when I was a 23 year old graduate student. For a while it was, and I have had some good reads that way, but the past few trips to the library have had me rolling my eyes at the book jacket. Not now, not ever, but apparently once, and dear me would that girl get deep under my skin right about now.
I did this weekend what I never thought I would do.
No, I didn't throw the list away -- I'm not medicated, I'm just bored.
I culled the list. And mostly by gut. I started to look into what these books were, but then I thought, **** it, there's been 20 years of books written since then, and I can't read the ones I have already acquired that weren't on the list to begin with.
Here's what I dumped:
Anything I thought I "should" read, but never wanted to in the first place
This means you, War & Peace, Old Man and the Sea, and Crime & Punishment.
Books I read in college
It was a nice idea -- read them again now that you have time, instead of the "1st & last sentence of each paragraph way," or the "even chapters only" method, which is still my advice on Grapes of Wrath.
Inspired by this weeding, I later culled the Netflix list of things I thought I wanted to see again.
Maybe I AM medicated.
Books I wanted to write like, including lists of first novels I was going to study to see what the secret was. Remember too that I was in publishing school, so I was exposed to Publisher's Weekly weekly, which is just open bar to the task-aholic.
Books which have since becomes movies, and which I have since (mostly) seen.
I didn't even know some of these were on there. But gone was Evening, Thousand Acres, Last Exit to Brooklyn... Truth: I would still rather watch a movie than read.
Short Stories - whatever. I think I was trying to impress a professor. Ditto on..
Post-modern crapola I was only pretending to like.
AIDS novels, Holocaust literature, and anything late-80s that smacked of Tama Jamowitz, Doc Martens, and Gen X-ers disdaining the culture the Boomers had left them. They all had their day -- some very good stuff came out of them -- but it's been said.
What stayed? This list won't make me look deep, or anything, it just shows you where I am now.
Southern fiction. Still great, still what I wish I could say un-self consciously and without effort. A lot of this got on the list right away in 1987 when I had moved to Texas only to discover it was not the South (it is Texas) and I missed my homeland and that of my "pipple."
Now that I am more Yankee than I ever would have been a Belle, I have begun subscribing to the Oxford American, because I really do think the South I knew is disappearing.
4 women who.... The senior thesis I never wrote was "4 women/1 story: From Little Women to Designing Women." I love 4 women friends books, even when they are ridiculously tacky (cf: Valley of the Dolls.) Don't you wish you could read Lace again for the first time?
By the way, my unwritten linguistics thesis would have been "Why gay men talk like that." Another story for another day.
Mother/Daughter Joy Luck-ish plots - which is really just a combination of the 2 above. These diagrams come together to form Ya-Ya Sisterhood at the Center.
Biographies - I only threw out a couple as, "well that was a short-lived interest," and I can't quite name whose they were just now.
Theology - some of it stayed. Some of the biblical fiction just had to go. It is always written too densely, in too small a font, and the copies you can get smell like Nanny's basement. So I just kept the straight talk.
I did have to get a new notebook, because now the original was a mess; and for half the day I didn't care much about preserving the list of books I had already read, since it was not wholly accurate, and recopying it did seem to stretch even my limits of crazy. In the warm sunlight of Sunday morning however, it seemed like an excellent way to revisit the past 20 years.
Now - the beginning of the story, which is the end.
My phone rings and it is Greatest of All Sisters, who is driving with her daughter, Rory Gilmore, and they are trying to name movies named after states. They both have an appreciation of lists, but neither has the attention span (read: neurosis) to make one themselves when they know they can call me.
I do not have much interest in this list, because I know about Delaware and Rhode Island, which they have not yet thought about, and Rory yells from the back seat that they have to be fiction, "I'm not watching in documentary!" (the girl I watched Traveling Pants for. how is that for gratitude?)
And I say, don't they want movies that are set in the specific states? And they say, yeh, whatever, we don't care... and I know they will watch Georgia, even though it is set in Idaho, and My Own Private Idaho, even though it is a terrible movie. And really, my head has already exploded and now they are off naming movies named after months.....
The films-by-states list is now available upon request. Write me at my personal email for your copy. And Delaware was still a problem.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I have read this
things like this
But when I came to the International Phonetics Alphabet, I just went limp.
Certainly I can say "labialized velar approximant," even without giggling. I can also say "statistically significant simultaneous fricatives." I've got crazy-descriptive/narrative skills, yo.
The idea of a dyslexic phonetician is fascinating.
That's not a warm-up exercise; it's an observation. It's a contemplation that someone who can not ordinarily navigate the Roman alphabet with much degree of success can work with this set of characters. But I think I have put my finger on it. Besides there being fewer characters to start with, in the phonetic alphabet, they always mean what they mean.
"cough," "tough," and "Through," don't look like they should rhyme when they are spelled using the phonetic letters. Turns out they do have names -- the letters. One of them is Lezh. Who many also have been one of the sons of Benjamin.
I recommended the studio call Noam Chomsky, because I was in over my head. Then I found this listserve, and the night passed quietly.
Chinese has one too. Good thing I took the winter off.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
To remind you of this cast of characters, and bring you up to date:
The Boss has been delivered of her son (at last) --healthy, happy, and damn cute. Both of them. Seriously. Our crew is in the day-to-day hands of The Lieutenant, who hit her long-legged stride right away and, I can report, has lost neither her sense of calm nor humor (which is not only the best medicine, it is a top-grade sedative).
Rock Star is The Boss's Boss; ordinarily I say about her that "she makes me pee." As in, 2 dogs meet in the park and one of them squats and pees. That one's me.
When I say this to others -- particularly to other lady execs who are patient enough to mentor me over martinis -- it requires explanation. So let me elaborate: I play a pretty high level of game myself, and I'm in the starting 5 most of the time (to use a basketball metaphor for a change, respect to The Lieutenant). But I only have a few moves, and I am particular about who sees them. I am not unconditionally loyal, I can not be "on" all day, sometimes I'm not even listening, and you know I am not moved by the Company logo.
But I don't really want her to see that. (I accept that she already knows it. My reputation precedes me.) She is the gold-medal Olympic team. So I become completely self-conscious, and by extension submissive. You know...I'll turn it off when she does. And that ain't nevah gon happen.
At the time The Boss came down with-child, and we were shipped to Camp Rock Star, I had high hopes, (especially for The Lieutenant, who deserves the best), but was also scared out of my mind.
Rock Star?? Really? without a buffer? oh man, we're gonna have ropes courses and intramural mentoring, and "stretch goals"... it's bad enough I have to present all my work in a plastic report cover, do I have to burn the edges now too?
I steeled myself for 3 months of lying low, biting tongue, putting on the happy face. exposing my belly.
And you know what, Dear Readership? It's really quite good. This is not to put down The Boss. You know I have a big fat work-crush on her, and I miss her far more than I expected to. But the tone that has been set for the rest of the year caught me quite by surprise.
To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.... in a reverse homage to Thomas Jefferson:
1. She has observed that we work too much, in both time and scope. And we should stop it.
What? well, now you're scaring me.
2. She understands we are understaffed.
And so she "leveraged," (because she talks like that) her other slightly under-staffed staffs to help out. Also a little scary, since I do NOT look forward to reciprocating that favor, but it gave us some breathing room in our assignment-to-worker bee ratio.
3. She understands we are addicted.
So she tries little Anabuse doses, like "try to leave by 6," and "try leaving your laptop at work a couple of days a week." "Try drinking at lunch." I may have heard that one wrong, but it makes the afternoon much more pleasant.
4. She would like to undo some bad habits.
It's a subjective view, certainly, when she suggests that a lot of the ways we spend our days are doing things that are other people's jobs. But then she asked us to list what we think those are. She also suggested that if we stopped sending emails in the middle of the night, we would stop getting replies. And you know... she was right.
5. She works at her level for the benefit of our level.
A lot of Executives don't really like the conflict management part of their jobs, especially when they are middle management. They would rather tell you to "work it out" and sign off on it. "Escalating" to them, then, becomes the adult equivalent of telling the principal you are being bullied. Rock Star will delight in the "opportunity to enhance synergies."
6. She never lets us see her sweat.
And I am sure she does.
So when I am wrong, I say I am wrong. I do know perfectly well the Yankee Swap is coming, and we only narrowly missed an apple-picking team builder, but if that's the price one pays for bringing the time sheet down to under 50 hours a week, I'll take it.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I should like to add Rags the Tiger to the list of obscure cartoon characters I would consider tattooing on myself.
Though it's not really much of a "cartoon," is it? More like a .... drawing. As filmed by Ken Burns.
Crusader is really a 1950's cartoon, but like most 50's TV resurfaced in the 70s to claw its nails into my skull wall -- see also Mickey Mouse Club, entire songbook of; American Grafitti, repeated viewings of; and new post-war patriotism.
Friday, November 9, 2007
"This clearly shows that both drivers and pedestrians should think about this daylight-saving adjustment... There are lives at stake."cue Law & Order gavel-gong.
This trend in fatalities could be partly associated with rural pedestrian crashes involving high-speed vehicles and pedestrians walking along a dark road or in some cases lying unconscious (sleeping) in the road. In fact, in North Carolina, 10 percent of all pedestrian fatalities involve a pedestrian lying in the road (North Carolina Traffic Accident Facts, 1990).
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I broke my glasses about a month ago and had done nothing about them because, gack, what a hassle, and I had found a replacement pair and that was working just fine. I had also found that I had half a dozen replacements, all broken in nearly the same way, and someone should do a time and motion study on that. But summary statement is, they were broken and on the dresser -- not even of my own room, but the guestroom. They were doing their best to be fogotten that way.
Friday night I am out with the fellas, and Nick says (because he notices things like this and is a very generous conversationalist) "those are new." "No, they're old, actually," I say, and launch into the uninteresting story of how they have been broken for a month...... well, it's all about my VSP, you see, and what's covered. Because the lenses are covered annually, but frames are every other year. Only I can't remember when I bought these, because the prescription ....
Jay tenderly interrupts, taking my hands across the table. "I think you'll find..." he begins, with a careful pause to be sure he has my attention, "that you can afford your glasses."
Blink. Blink. Because of course it takes Jay to remind me that we are not poor anymore.
Ten years ago, when we were both trying to leave the field that made us so poor, and I thought we were trapped, because what else in the world COULD we do, it was also Jay who observed, "I am pretty sure we can find other jobs that pay 27 thousand a year."
What makes this story come to its embarrassingly obvious close is that Monday when the pipes burst I decided to drop by the Eye Cent-a and make inquiries, as they say. The receptionist "pulls my card" (honestly, a CARD from a metal file drawer. It was lovely) and says "They're under warranty. We'll fix 'em." Egg, meet face.
Sometimes I make things so hard.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Let me tell the story of the plumbing failure first, so you can follow where this train of thought takes me. The water main break in town this morning had caused a water shut-off by 10am, and an email from the Facilities office asking us to "use bathrooms sparingly." (a hundred pregnant woman belly-lifted themselves out of non-ergonomic chairs to march on the executive wing, as soon as they could catch their breath.)
Use bathrooms sparingly, you occupants of 1 million square feet of office space.
I had already punched up the OSHA statement on this very problem and was about to send it to my HR rep by the time we were ordered home:
If the employer does not provide reasonable access to toilet facilities when the employees need to use them, the employer would be in violation of OSHA's general industry sanitation standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations §1910.141(c)(1)(i)). OSHA addressed the issue of employee access to toilet facilities in a memorandum to OSHA's Regional Administrators dated April 6, 1998 (copy enclosed). This memorandum is a public document and is available on OSHA's website www.osha.gov.
which brings us to our topic.
Which do you like better, the fact that the US Government has ruled on what is "reasonable" access to toilet facilities, or the fact that they did it in 1998.
I'll tell you what you'll like best: reading the memorandum. Let me give you some highlights so that you too can become completely annoying in your workplace
Toilets must be located in separate rooms for each sex.
So Ally McBeal was in violation. If you have a one-seater, you do not have to designate them by sex, but the urinal will probably give it away.
Facilities must contain hot water, soap, towels or blowers, and trashcans. If showering is required, shower soap must be provided. Don't let them pretend they are doing you some kind of big favor.
No employee shall be allowed to consume food or beverages in a toilet room nor in any area exposed to a toxic material. This seems like a good rule. The better rule is 2 paragraphs later when you learn that you can't store food there either. So IF you are caught with your apple or coffee cup, don't try saying you were jusy "putting it away."
The memorandum (man, I miss that word) opens with an explanation of why human beings should be allowed to urinate when they need to, citing the New England Journal of Medicine. The issue of "accessibility" and "promptness" required a field sanitation ruling on how far from the field is safe for the spinach and close enough to be safe for the worker. One quarter mile. Sounds longer than it is - 70 yards - but I know a few of you who will say you wouldn't make it.
The Company can not place "unreasonable restrictions" on your bathroom use. Which means it can place reasonable restrictions. Think of that. And just what that means may depend on how much stamina you have to take your case to the Supreme Court.
In the Mill where I work, back when it spun wool into gold, "each and every absence, no matter how small, by a day hand, must be deducted from the time of the absentee." Once presumes it was more than a quarter-mile to the privvy.
You might be interested to learn that OSHA can not have an opinion on whether or not your bathroom breaks are considered unpaid. That is the authority of the Division of Wage and Hour, and a different website.
I think what I'm saying is, if you are reading this on the job right now, especially if that happens to be in your living room, or on a Treo in the lobby of your daughter's ballet class, if you can go to the bathroom as much as you damn well please...thank a Mill Girl.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Truth is, I thought I was farther behind than I was, because I forgot I had posted the Offermatica picture on Thursday, smack dab in the middle of the workday. (A girl could lose a finger!)
Please enjoy... list of things I did with my evenings this past week without baseball.
Tuesday - Propped myself with a book I ended up hating and watched a movie instead. My rule on books is that I will give you a hundred pages, but life is too short to read bad books. If you can't keep me to page 101, you go right across the room. Or, you get skimmed, which is the equivalent of watching a movie on FFwd, both of which I do. (and plenty. but more on Ted Turner's Gettysburg at another time. I won't give too much away, but it's the world's slowest bloodbath. Don't ask Virginians about Pickett. We still bite our knuckles over it.)
Wednesday - Recording for the Blind, where I was completely bested for the first time in 11 years by my assignment. I need to blog about that separately too. See how I can easily do this every day if you don't make me?
Thursday - drinks with an exiting work-buddy. The going away parties at the Local are starting to stack up on each other, and it gets kind of awkward when you walk in for one person's bash, and other people are there thinking you are coming to their bash. But you weren't. Until now.
Friday - Dinner and a show with the Tarletons. I love dating married couples. Especially when they are boys and let me order first.
Don't count me in the Blog Post ring. But I'll try to give you plenty to explore through the week.
Next time: reading the Phonetic Alphabet and hunting down the borrower who wants you to.