June 08, 2002
- I wonder how many people throughout history during the whole of their lives purposely refused to learn to tie their own shoes, and not just due to the bulk of ancestral footwear being of the loafer variety, thereby requiring no laces. I don't think our forefathers were less sluggish, only that they were lazy about different things. How times change.
- Animal tracks were an amazing thing to me when I was a kid. I remember drawing cougar footprints over and over when I really should have been figuring out what the Council of Trent was all about. Not to worry, as I've rarely needed a strong background in ecumenical politics. Sadly, I've never required the ability to recognize cougar tracks, either.
- Of all the planets of the solar system, my least favorite would have to be Mercury. Not for any particularly scientific reason, though I'm sure if I dug a bit I could come up with one in that area. Really it's because all the science fiction stories set on it which I've read were pretty dismal works.
- My "blink of an eye" literature rating system aimed at several sci-fi authors: Arthur Clarke = brain candy maker; Isaac Asimov = too into it; Robert Heinlein = ego-retentive; Philip Dick = good and cracked; Harlan Ellison = damnable scamp; Kurt Vonnegut = denies genre (give it up!)
- And here's my five sentence summary of everything Kurt Vonnegut wrote over the past forty years (give or take a theme): "I'm getting old. Life can sure suck (not that I'd suggest doing something about it, because I'm not going to). Kindness is a peculiar kind of ness. Did I mention I'm quite old? Po-tee-weet."
- You know the Great American novel every would be American writer has hidden at the bottom of a dresser drawer? I'm here to tell you that A.
it's actually more of a Moderately Good novel, if at all, B.
it's not kept in a drawer anymore, what with the computer and whatnot, and C.
it's now a non-fiction tell-all disguised as a novel.
- Today there's no more than an eight-week gestation period between any great historic occurrence of our times and the first attempt to make money off it hits bookstore shelves. In fact, the event doesn't have to be all that great, just on TV a large percentage of the time in those weeks. Isn't the technology of modern publishing simply amazing?
- When animal-propelled modes of travel were supplanted by the automobile, and hence went the way of the... horse and buggy, it happened within a regular downward trend. That's what was supposed to happen to movie theaters when VCR's hit the market, yet it seems there are more new theaters now than thirty years ago. A bit off kilt for a dying business, wouldn't you say? At least the audio tape section in music stores is getting smaller every year.
- So the Segway
is supposed to, eventually, change the way we get around. Does this mean we'll get broader sidewalks to accomodate them, or are those of us stuck walking supposed to make yet more way for these things?
- Speaking of which, I need new shoes.
June 07, 2002
While caught up in what seems the new perennial human activity of looking for work -- what I consider to be my current full-time accidental volunteer position -- I find it would in general be faster, and in an ironic way more humane, if all the pretense was dispensed with and I'd be asked what there is (if anything) about my background or personality which might keep me from getting gainful employment. At least it would hurt a bit less, in that I'd know with some certainty what stands in the way of acceptance for me, rather than being caught in the middle of a humiliating an intractable exercise as low level middle-managers with three days in-training-room experience ineptly extract an obsessively routine selection of my atonally repeated positive points of education and work minutiae, then when a position is filled by someone else, and I (and in interest of feigning allegiance to the unemployed masses, all the rest of us) am left without reason or callback.
I've never seen this as a very effective way to run a shop, and it's hardly a beneficial hiring process, either for the company or potential employees. Back when handled the role of questioning candidates for positions in a company, I chose to cut through the well honed and so overly predictable step-by-step guidelines. If not directly with straightforward "just how unskilled are you for this position?"
types of questions, at least in the circumscription of my methodology I tried to find ways to draw them out of the prepared shell built around them by previous interviews and preparatory classes. This was not a bid to goad them into work history perjury or anything else so sinister (that's just gravy). A job interview that gains candid insights into someone or at least a deeper peak than what's normally glimpsed, is one where both come away with a better idea of how it all might work out when the job is offered.
Besides, when I'm sitting on the interviewee side, sweating and sucking pen caps to keep my mouth from going dry, I'd like it if I was made to feel engaged in some fashion, that the individual across from me had a semblance of communicative skills beyond the rote reading of some Q & A photocopied by the temp in Human Resources. It's also generally a good experience if the questions I'm asked and my answers to such are not a mere duplication of some costly but two dimensional interview training program (from both sides of the desk). This is not to say you throw away the résumé. Not quite. It's to acknowledge that an interview is two things at once: it's a process of discovery, where you seek the skills, character, and temperament of someone to ascertain whether their jigsaw edge fit into yours. And it's a form of communication, a conversation, where in its tracks and maneuverings you use a little intuition and a dash of common sense to verify what all the other tools are telling you (or not).
So am I suggesting a new way to go about the interviewing of personnel? That's kind of what I'm proposing. There's much to be earned in moving over to a method that provides actual communication during an interview. However, please ignore all this if I happen to have an interview lined up with you soon. I don't want to confuse any prospective employers with a set of demands up front on how my interview should proceed.
Better yet: hire me, as I'm willing to train.
June 06, 2002
June 05, 2002
A Brief Story Interlude (Blue Bobby)
Bobby was in most ways a typical ten year old boy with two wishes he hoped would come true. His first was a simple one a lot of boys Bobby's age (and sometimes much older) pray for: to be important and get noticed. His second was rather different though. In fact, it was very different from what a ten year old boy might normally wish for:
Bobby wanted to be blue -- as in the color, the tincture, the hue. Bobby wanted to be the color blue.
Blue was Bobby's favorite color, the first color he grabbed when using his crayons, the only color -- other than black and white -- he ever dreamt in, the color of the berries in his favorite pie. But that's not why he wanted to be blue. Blue was also the sky above and the sea far away and his mother's eyes when she tucked into bed at night and as she woke him for breakfast the next morning. But that's not why he wanted to be blue, either.
Bobby guessed, and perhaps rightly so, that if he was a color other than what people normally were, down and up, outside and inside, between each strand of hair and under each fingernail, this would be a good way to be important and get noticed. The color didn't really matter. Still he chose blue, because it was his favorite, and because it was such a very
different color for a person to be, other than what they already were.
Bobby thought and looked and tried different things, and yet he couldn't find a good way to make himself blue. Paint washed off easily, or when it stayed on it felt fake. He wanted his body to be
blue, not covered in it.
Bobby found a dye that colors hair blue. He tested it on a few parts of his skin, finding it stung a bit. Worse, when his mother discovered what he'd done, she used a scrub brush and some liquid from her makeup table to remove it. When it came off, all Bobby had for his troubles was raw skin and week's punishment: no granola bars. Yet Bobby kept ever watchful for something that could make him blue so he could be important and get noticed. After a time he felt he had found it.
Bobby's parents told him they regularly took a drug called colloidal silver to improve their health. They'd also use it whenever he had a cut or infection because, they'd say, it was a powerful antibiotic too. And they were always complaining that the medical establishment unfairly criticized alternative medicines, like colloidal silver or yam extract. But Bobby learned on his own one thing about colloidal silver his parents never mentioned: a side effect of large doses of colloidal silver turns your skin blue.
So every day Bobby began to sneak sips of colloidal silver from the dark glass bottle his arents kept it in. At first he wasn't certain how much would be enough, so he secretly watched his parents, and started with twice as much as their doses. When a week went by and he looked no different, he doubled the amount, and a few days later doubled that as well.
It wasn't long before Bobby's parents realized there was ever less colloidal silver then what they were taking. They asked Bobby if he was to blame. Bobby, who could never lie to his parents, admitted he was. His parents asked him why. "Because I want to be blue," Bobby told them, and explained how he wanted to be important and get noticed, and felt the only good way for a ten year old boy to do that was to become a color other than what people normally were. His parents asked him why he wanted to be blue, and he said it was an excellent color for that.
Bobby's parents were angry, and told him his regular color was the best one for him to be. Then they became concerned about the amount of colloidal silver he had taken. After they read their pharmacological books and learned he would be fine, they began to laugh. Bobby asked why, and his Mother explained that if he'd taken enough colloidal silver to change the color of his skin, he would not have turned blue, but more of a bluish-grey color. He would have been more grey than blue.
"You would look like the bottom of the fireplace," she said with a smile.
Bobby thought about that for a moment, then said "that's not a good color to be important with. And it's certainly a bad one to get noticed for."
"That's very true," his Father agreed.
Bobby's parents quickly told his family. Soon the neighbors, his friends at school, the mail carrier, the people at the grocery store, the teenage ushers at the movie theater, and the man that cut his hair at the barbershop, knew all about what he had done. Within a week, almost everyone Bobby came into contact with knew how he wanted to be important and get noticed, and the unusual way he tried to do that.
Bobby quickly came to regret what he'd done. He no longer wanted to be important, and wished no one would notice him. But most of all, he hated that wherever he went, he was known as "Blue Bobby".
June 04, 2002
So far, and by that I mean up to this point in my life, I've permanently misplaced a good quantity of stuff. Some of these things were still of use at the time they disappeared, though not all that important in the greater scheme of... things. In that category can be filed a math notebook I had back in sixth grade, a music CD I don't recall listening to very often (or at all), and my last car.
Occasionally, there was some small intent on my part to actually throw away a particular item. However, one facet of my intrinsic nature in collecting stuff borders on what a squirrel considers overly obsessive, and I realized long ago the best way to get rid of whatever I have no further interest retaining ownership of is to arrange its loss. Sounds a little cracked, but there's nothing like completely mislaying a pile of old bills or pants worn at the crotch to make you forget they ever had a place at the bottom of your closet.
If I took account of all the stuff I've lost through the years, it might add up to something less than the average for my time and place, though for me the total is plenty enough. Still, I can't recall more than a dozen objects which losing caused some major, lasting consequence to me -- unlike the car. As I mentioned, much was past its usefulness long before it was dropped by the wayside. But there's the odd physical bit of personal paraphernalia which falls square in the middle of the indispensable scale, and I'd really like to get these back.
(Anything found higher on that scale was replaced, so no reason to dwell on those.)
One is a book. A simple thing you'd think would be fairly easy to replace, but I'm not talking about the manufactured article here. I can always purchase another edition of the work itself (and have). What I mean is I lost that
book, and not just any copy. The book itself left back there somewhere holds the significance, not the title. It was a first edition, and that's part of the attraction in regaining it, but it engenders more meaning than a hundred limited prints could ever make up for. What was so important about that
book? Nothing that I can clarify in words. Rather it's a dull, periodically recurring ache from some nearly forgotten incident. But the ache is there. It never truly goes away, no matter how many more books I buy.
Another is a beat up manila folder "lost"
twenty years back. Actually, someone else threw it out, but I won't mention names... The folder itself was insignificant, but it was filled with scraps and outlines for several ideas (stories and such) I was working on at the time. Little in it would have been good (I've read my writing from that time, so trust me here), and whatever held a serious importance to me I've long since reconstructed. But I'd still like to have that folder returned to my possession.
I've lived a life trying to avoid an attachment to stuff. It's a Zen thing, but in many ways it's a Kafkaesquí thing as well. But my interest in reclaiming some of the stuff I've lost is not an issue of attachment, not really. To me it's more like how it must feel when a child of your own strikes out to claim its independence long before you're assured it can survive on its own. Without that assurance, it's hard to cope with it being out there all on its own.
All right, and I admit it -- there's some attachment involved this as well. I really have to lose that part of me.
June 03, 2002
Little Used City Slogans (US)
- New York - The Big Malus
- Los Angeles - The City Where Angels Are Unlikely
- Washington, D.C. - US Government Swamp
- Philadelphia - Somewhat Peeved Since 1800
- San Francisco - Where Earthquakes Are Merely A Nuisance
- Boston - Now More Like The Corinth of America
- Denver - Join The Mile High Club Without Leaving The Ground
- Atlanta - The World's Next Great Traffic Jam
- St. Louis - More Than Just That Damned Arch
- Cleveland - It Doesn't Always Seem Like Hell
- Minneapolis/St. Paul - Two For The Price Of One
- Memphis - We Buried Elvis Here... Twice
June 02, 2002
The Noncommittal Sunday Prayer
God in Heaven, if you really do exist and reside in such an eternal residence out there, somewhere
Please guide me in my times of need, but not if that guidance comes at the expense of others, or if such times of need don't fully justify it -- I'm unaware of what future support I'll require, so keep that in mind
Give me the strength to follow your will, if there's a perpetuity to life after our death that truly justifies the need to do so
Bring health and happiness to my family and friends, as long as such gifts are within your domain of influence and don't conflict with previous furnishable requests already on your agenda
Help those unable to help themselves, unless you have different plans for them or think some other course of action on your part is warranted
Enjoin the world to peace and joy, though as you may or may not know, I don't expect miracles
Amen, or not