Monday, January 30, 2006

A Day is Never a Loss

If you learn something new. It can be anything about anything. Saturday, on my way out to drop off my rent check, I ran into a guy outside my building who was with the plumbers who were obviously doing plumbing things in the building. It's an old building. It leaks frequently. So I asked the young gentleman what they were doing and he told me they were fixing leaks (obviously).

I mentioned that it has only been in the last year or so that the garret apartments have had good water pressure. And I learned that when plumbers are putting in the water service to a building, the size of the pipe they use to connect to the water main is determined by the distance of the water outlet in the building that is furthest from said water main.

I thought it was interesting and filed it away in the useful facts file of my brain.

Today I had a job interview. I'd like to get the job. I know all about big ships and big trucks and big airplanes but in this position I'd have the opportunity to learn about stack-trains....the ones that carry ocean cargo containers from inland points to ocean ports.

And I honestly do live in a garret. Third floor walkup in a circa 1870 building

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sometimes a Smaller Word is Better

In today's reading I came across the following snippet:

its members known only to each other, exacted revenge, sometimes sanguinely

San´guine`ly
adv. 1. In a sanguine manner.
I can not speculate quite so sanguinely as he does.
- Burke.


~Websters Dictionary 1913

To which there are these definitions of the word sanguine. And unless I take the final definition, a transitive verb and create an adjective from this -
I am reading the originally quoted passage to say that the members cheerfully, confidently or heartily exacted revenge. I don't think that this was the author's purpose or meaning.

The writer was on the correct path, "sanguis" being the latin for "blood" as in "exsanguinate" or "bleed out" (something your's truly has less risk of than most)

But he did not count on the Medieval humor theory, which is not a joke about how many Saxons it takes to make a pottage. In short one is Sanguine having plenty of blood and therefore cheerful, Phlegmatic having plenty of phlegm and is thus laid-back, mellow, or indifferent, Melancholic having plenty of Black Bile and is an unhappy soul, or Choleric having plenty of yellow bile and thus being an all around son of a bitch.

So after all this the writer could have just said:

its members known only to each other, exacted bloody revenge

So sometimes the simpler word is the best. Most of the time it is, unless in dialog, in the mouth of an overbearing know-it-all character, sort of like me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More From The Lexicon

Somewhere below this post I wrote about the words "H*&^n R*#$&%^@s" and "Personnel" and what I both seemed to mean. I think lots about words when I'm at the unemployment office or sending resumes.

Want to talk today about something called "Employee". I employ tools to do a job.
I employ a papertowel to clean the diet coke off my monitor after E. Ann comments about leather at inappropriate times. To employ is to put into use for ones purposes, nefarious or otherwise. One who employs is the Employer. The object one employs is the "employee". So does that make me a tool sitting unused in the great gadget drawer of life? I think not...

Also, unemployed. That means not used for anything. I am simply not remuneratively engaged at this time, thank you. Oh dear, that is horribly close to P.C. speak.

Speaking of which, I went to the unemployment office today to drop off some forms. The one I went to the last time is closed. They directed me to a place called "Empowerment 2010, Inc." to drop off the forms. I need to be empowered? No, Don't think that that is my problem. Sounds like they hold self-esteem classes or something.... euwwwwwww....

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Funnies

If you've not seen the genius that is Longmire click on his name. Put down drinks and swallow the mouthful of sandwich first.

The entity known as Hot Cross Bunion (me), goaded on by my fellow Bunions, submitted a couple to the genius that is Longmire. Those can be found on this page.

And while not romance, this just begged to be photoshopped:


Image hosting by Photobucket

Saturday, January 21, 2006

File This Under Silver Linings

Unemployment sucks...most of the time. So I'm writing more and this is a "Very Good Thing". I'm whipping another short story into form thanks to M.G. and The Bunion Method(tm). In between I occasionally get to be Mighty Mousette "Here she comes to save the day!".

That was Friday for me. I had an apheresis appointment for Sunday morning but I got a call on Friday afternoon that only 6 donors had shown up...and when I had called just that morning the schedule was full for Friday and Saturday. So I get the afternoon call and the scheduler asked if there was a time I could come in. I got to say "How soon can you do a set-up for a double?" I'm a fifteen minute drive from the Red Cross center.

It's nice when someone is delighted to see you....and tucks you in for an afternoon nap.

But damn! I'm still waiting for that case of Turtle Wax and the Play-At-Home Game from the other guys. Ya know..the more I think about it I want the "runner-up" prize, something like 3 days and 2 nights at the Holiday Inn, Weehauken with all meals and entertainment included.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

On the Scent of JT Leroy

A combination of Florid Fictions and Truth is Stranger then Fiction:

1/16 oz for $51 $800 an oz? I refrain from editorial comment here. I just think it's bizarre.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

From Embryo to Fetus in 3165 Words

That's where I'm at on Ennui and it is taking form beyond mere exponential word increase. There's a plot in there, and a few good characters. But it's not yet a baby to raise up to a full grown novel. M.G. says that'll happen at round 10,000 words.

In other matters I stumbled upon what may be the singularly most disturbing site on the internet. I am warning you now. Do Not open this site if you are in the least disturbed by weirdness. Very Disturbing

Having said that, of course you are going to look...but please don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Job -vs- Career -vs- Vocation

I have an interview tomorrow. It is in my field of expertise. It's in what I know how to do and what I do well. And I am one more time going through that anticipation/nervousness/questioning of "Will they like me?" "Will they want me to work for them?" "Do I have the mad skillz that they want?" "Am I a good fit for the organization?"

It's not some interview for some call center that I would apply for to have a job just to tide me over until something in my field came along. Maybe I'm crazy but I really do enjoy the work I do despite the insanity of the industry as a whole. It connects me with the whole world - literally.

These pre-interview jitters - it's the same thing that is going to happen when Ennui (that's the title of the WIP that is likely to be completed first) is done and polished and I can go no further with the ms and I start querying agents.

But there is a difference also. In my career I've reached the place where I my resume gets stamped "over-qualified" on occasion. Happened a few times the last time I went through this. I don't think that this happens in writing.

Writing is about constantly honing ones skills, ones craft. There is no top but the one we set for ourselves. That's a calling, a vocation. And it about a unique voice. All y'all could do what I do if you'd been doing it as many years as I have. But I couldn't write your books and you couldn't write mine.

So... Job - what you do just to keep roof over head and cupboard in bread. Career - that plus you really like the field you're in and want to progress in it. Vocation -what you do because you know you are called to do it.

The best world is where career and vocation are one and the same. I hope that for all of us.

But for the moment...it would be nice to get back to my career while I persue the other, my vocation, in hopes of it becoming a career.

Prayers, incense, chants, esoteric rituals.... all would be appreciated.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tagged by Dana

Four jobs you have had in your life:
Cleaning lady in an apartment complex
Cafeteria worker
Medical Records File Clerk
Export Logistics Specialist

Four movies you could watch over and over:
Henry V (Branagh version)
The Big Easy
Patton
Revenge Of The Nerds

Four places you've lived:
Chicopee, MA
London, England
Grinnell, IA
Portsmouth, VA


Four TV Shows you love to watch:
Crossing Jordan
Project Runway
American Idol (Dana, we'll have to do a weekly rehash once the new series starts tomorrow)
Better Living Through Pharmacology

Four places you've been on vacation:
California
The Jersey Shore
The Outer Banks
The Blue Ridge Mountains


Four of your favourite foods:
She Crab Soup (having some right now)
Kalamata Olives
Real Polish Kielbasa (hillshire farms does not count)
Spaetzele


Four places you'd rather be right now:

Working

On a tropical island with a cold beverage, a cool breeze, warm sand, and a hot cabana boy

On a tall ship sailing the world with the above accoutrements except the sand

The Outer Banks


Four sites I visit daily:
Google News
Go Fug Yourself
Basenotes
JigZone

Four bloggers you are tagging:
Erik Ivan James
R.J. Baker
Gabriele Campbell
Adam Hurtubise

Four sheep breeds you could recognise in a field:
Merino
Arabi
Astrakhan
???

Four people you'd really like to meet (who are alive) and what you would ask them:
Desmond Tutu
Jimmy Carter
Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma)
Bernard Kouchner (Founder of Doctors Without Borders)

And I would just sit back and listen to the conversation.......

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Florid Fictions

There is a last outpost of florid fancies and furbelows.
Taking a break from research here to bring you bits from the truth IS stranger than fiction department:


A sensorial and mysterious scent with frankincense wood accents....a sweet, woodsy, resinous note achieved from the combustion of agarwood.

Sensorial??? Why use one four syllable adjective when two four syllable ones will do will do?

M.G. would thwap them for using sensorial and scent in the same sentence.

The combustion of agarwood??? Will it spontaneously ignite on my skin to create the smell?

-------------

A fragrant alchemy of enchanted forest notes (oak, patchouli) wedded to whale amber, a ‘cross between leather and flowers’.

Do you Mister Oak take Ms Spermwhale as your awfully wedded wife?

Leather and Flowers? E. Ann would have something to say about that….

-------------
A sparkling opening bursting with citrus fruit, pierced with a mouthwatering note of red currant. The heart unveils a bouquet of fresh flowers, enhanced with a bulrush note


Bulrush Note???? Will a shirtless and younger Charlton Heston arise from the Nile?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Grace Under Pressure

Sometimes I forget what that is about. Interesting story.


A woman is in the hospital with metastasizing terminal cancer. She's on a morphene drip and finally getting a reasonable measure of pain management. All she wants is to get the hell out of the hospital and go home for whatever time she has left. It's the end of January.

The doctor comes in the room. The woman asks him "How long do I have?"

The doctor tells her "Four to six months."

The woman says "Oh good, I won't miss the Final Four."

(For you basketball illiterates, that's the college championships.)

Parting Gifts and Platelets

You know, they could have at least gifted me with a year's supply of Turtle Wax, and a few cases of Rice-a-Roni, The San Francisco Treat. According to what they say, the flavor can't be beat. I want parting gifts darnit! And throw in a copy of the home game while you're at it Jim. Guaranteed fun for kids from five to ninety-five.

I'd feel like Charlie Brown on Halloween except for the long list on the left side of this blog. Parting gifts come in the most delightful and unexpected packages. I feel a heck of a lot better today.

So I did my "give back" this morning. I guess it all started when I was knee high to a grasshopper and mom would take us along when she went to donate blood. We got sugar soda (verboten at home) and cookies from the nice volunteers while mom did her donation. So giving blood was just one more thing that "adults" did.

As a kid, however, I was scared to death of needles. I still don't particularly like injections. The skinny little needles are a whole lot more uncomfortable going in than the big honking hollow needles that go in and stay in for a couple of hours.

Them I can deal with....in both arms. This is xtreme blood product donation. One needle drains it out, the other puts it back after it goes through the apheresis machine to separate the platelets from the rest of the blood. Today was a good donation....after I got a new phlebotomist.

Never trust a phlebotomist with cold hands. Never trust a skinny phlebotomist. These are things I have learned in the 70 or so platelet donations I have done. Heed my words the next time you roll one (or two) up. Miss Skinny Cold Hands missed the outflow vein completely and rested the needle on a nerve. That is not fun.

I would not let her try a second time. Fortunately the genius Nigerian phlebotomist was in the room. In his hands those needles go in like a hot knife through butter and I don't feel a thing. He's brilliant. I just wish I could make appointments and specify the phlebotomist I want, sort of like a hair appointment.

But that being said, the platelets rocked out at a 415 count. Anything over 154 is considered "normal range". I have a surfeit. So I'll be less likely to bleed out if I get in an accident. It also means that where most people can donate one unit, I can donate two in one sitting. And due to my wholesome and uneventful life (har har har) my blood is so clean it goes over to the children's hospital.

I napped rather well in the lounger too. Funny that my blood is so thick but never clots up the lines. I just don't have to squeeze. I think the thing I like best about apheresis is getting the blankets tucked around me like a kid being put to bed. There is something incredibly comforting about that at any age.

Platelet shelf life is 48 hours. So sometime between now and Monday morning a preemie or kidling heart patient or sprog with cancer is going to get that bag of yellowy fluid.

And I thought my life was tough..... as if.....

But that doesn't mean I'm not piqued over not recieving the Turtle Wax.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It is Friday the Thirteenth

And I am home today. Home until the Gods of employment gift me and my own stalwart efforts gain me another job. Once again we do the round of what seems to be the inevitable corporate consolidation and downsizing. A Human Resource that is no longer required.

That is an interesting phrase "Human Resources". I consider natural gas and oil resources. I consider iron and tin resources. These are things we use to make and build and go places. We are the agents of creation and movement. But when we ourselves are the "resources"? In my mind that predicates an agent over us using the very fibres of our being to make and build and go places for themself.

Call me old fashioned but I prefer the old word "Personnel". There is a "person" in that very word. So on this blog, I hereby ban the use of the term "Human Resources".

M.G., bless her soul, has already listened to the full outflow of my imbalanced humors. She says to take the time to find my authentic voice and do more writing in between job hunts and the daily round of visits and meetings to keep roof over head, cupboard in bread, and gas tank fed. So I heed wise advice, being past the point of thinking I don't have to listen to anyone.

My writing? Probably won't talk that much about it here since both books are mere embryos and nowhere near where the rest of my bunioned cohorts are. But observations? Likely the things that come up in the day to day round of news and world events and the definition of words.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Around the Office - Schussing through the workday

As happens every four years, sports which get little play in the off years come to the front of office chat. Skiing? We usually discuss footbal playoffs this time of year when we discuss sports. Figure Skating? Not even up for discussion any time of year.

Except for the Olympics, those couple of weeks when everyone seems to care about things they have not cared about since the last winter Olympics. It becomes an event of role-models and bad-kids. And somewhere in this, something approaching sport actually get played out. But above all the Olympics are a morality play.

Back in the day it was Us-vs-Them with the Eastern Bloc sports machine cast as the mountain which must be conquered. It was a moral imperative to plant the stars and stripes on the very highest peaks of Olympus. It was easy, and we as often as not did not concern ourselves with the behavior or "our" athletes and champions. They were ours and we embraced them with patriotic fervor, ignoring the bong in the backpack and the temper behind the tutu.

Now the bloc is gone and we've entered a period of where the morality plays are writ in terms of a "clean living index" and individuals rather than states are the media created heroes and villans and objects of shame.

Take the case of Bode Miller. Top-notch skier in all alpine disciplines. No excess facial hair, no inappropriate tattoes or piercings. A politely spoken young man. He has however admitted to taking part in a competition or two after a night of serious drinking...hungover...still intoxicated. An honest young man. Work hard, Play Hard, it is easily understandable.

Never mind that he achieved world champion status in overall alpine as well as sveral of the individual events during the last four years. Never mind the fact that he is in superb physical and mental condition. He has been commanded by the keepers of the moral flame to apologize for the comments he made, when these comments were only about himself. They slandered no-one that I can imagine. But this is the price of participation in the quadrennial morality play on snow.

Network news trumpets the story with the full weight of moral indignation including clips of teenage skiers saying that said Mr. Miller is a poor example. I quietly beg to differ. He has slandered no one and hurt no one and is accountable only to himself. He earned the ticket to Torino with hard work and gutsy skiing year in and year out and is at the top of his game.

Drinkers will continue to drink and kill themselves skiing into trees whether or no Mr Miller. Personal responsibility.

Contrast that with the other interesting case of Michelle Kwan who has not skated in a serious competition all year and is asking for a bye onto the U.S. Olympic team on the basis of her past performance as world champion. She's had two Olympiads and has proven herself up to the challenge in neither despite winning world championships in the same years. She was fourth last year at the world championships. She is just coming off a muscle pull that has not allowed her to practice her jumps and Torino is just about a month away.

But figure skating (women's, pairs, and dance) has become a showcase of damsels in distress and villanous vixens rather then athletics as the driving force. So a sub-par damsel can easily be embraced by the writers of this morality play and allowed on the stage one more time. A speed skater would not be given a similar bye if unable to ski in team try-outs. Neither would Bode Miller be on the alpine team if he were a sub-par has-been out-of-condition drunkard.

It is nice stage craft. It is not sport.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

File This Under Silver Linings

Unemployment sucks...most of the time. So I'm writing more and this is a "Very Good Thing". I'm whipping another short story into form thanks to M.G. and The Bunion Method(tm). In between I occasionally get to be Mighty Mousette "Here she comes to save the day!".

That was Friday for me. I had an apheresis appointment for Sunday morning but I got a call on Friday afternoon that only 6 donors had shown up...and when I had called just that morning the schedule was full for Friday and Saturday. So I get the afternoon call and the scheduler asked if there was a time I could come in. I got to say "How soon can you do a set-up for a double?" I'm a fifteen minute drive from the Red Cross center.

It's nice when someone is delighted to see you....and tucks you in for an afternoon nap.

But damn! I'm still waiting for that case of Turtle Wax and the Play-At-Home Game from the other guys. Ya know..the more I think about it I want the "runner-up" prize, something like 3 days and 2 nights at the Holiday Inn, Weehauken with all meals and entertainment included.