Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas...

I drove to my mom's house this morning. I've already gone through the mail that arrived for me since Thanksgiving and the newspaper comics pages she saved for me. There's no need to wrap presents, as I have just two household items for her, and she already told me she'll write a check. (However, in the spirit of the holiday, she won't tell me how much it's for.) We don't even have the 3' tall artificial tree put up this year. There's no point in me dragging it up from the basement for a single day's use. It will be a meager Christmas, but neither of us needs anythine more to clutter our homes anyway.

My mom has gradually attacked the things (for lack of a better word) that have accumulated in her and my dad's lifetimes. It might surprise some people that getting rid of my dad's old clothes was the first thing she did, but my mom is practical above almost all other things. My goal for this trip is either the loft (my dad's office), the basement, or the garage.

My mom uncovered a file with my dad's hire letter from the Radio Corporation of America (better known as RCA), dated February 16, 1960. I've tried telling this story to my friends, but I can never remember the figure my dad said; now I have written proof. The offer letter is dated a month before he graduated as valedictorian of his class at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Yes, they already wanted him that much. He was the highest-paid graduate of his class; he would earn $585 a month. That's $7,020 per year. That's $3.375 per hour. (Can you say "inflation"?)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

I have said (to coworkers, if not in this blog) that I simply can not understand the way that our client representative thinks. Nothing he does or says follows typical patterns of logic. The following three examples seem to be the exact opposite of what makes sense, and I wonder if that's his pattern or if they just happened.

1) He decided that, to "improve" service, one custodian and one recycling employee would collect trash and recycling from campus offices and classrooms once per week, during work hours. I wonder if he thought what would happen if the classroom is being used when the employees stop by. What if the trash is emptied on Monday but the office occupant throws away his/her smelly lunch remains on Tuesday? Did he perform a time-study to see if his plan (or lack thereof...) actually can be accomplished with over 250 buildings comprising over 3 million square feet? And, even if the 50 or so custodians can do this, how can 3 recycling employees (oh, wait, sorry -- one's a temp and won't be back in January, when this program starts)... 2 recycling employees accompany all those custodians to all those offices?

2) Traditionally, the office that coordinates commencement each semester opens a work order for us to purchase "greenery" to decorate the stage in the amount of $1,500 - $2,000. Traditionally, we have done so. Traditionally, the shrubs/perennials/what-have-you are planted on campus later. When the client rep. took over, he claimed that our contract says our company will "provide" the greenery. I proposed arguing the definition of "provide". Boss took the stance that the contract doesn't specify a dollar amount, and what does "greenery" mean anyway? Earlier this month, the client rep. said (allegedly, as it filtered through Sub, and now Sub can't remember what he told us the client said) that, if we use the work order money to buy greenery, those plants may not be planted on campus. (Note well that every one of us involved in commencement for many years asked the same question, "WTF?") So, I hatched a plan. What if we decorated the stage with nothing but houseplants, which would die if planted outside? Boss liked it, but he got cold feet. We bought lots of Poinsettias and Norfolk Island Pines but also 30 shrubs which we will pay for, just so we can show the client, "Yes, we provided greenery, per the contract."

3) About every two years, one whiner (staff member) on campus sends a letter to the student paper, complaining about the power equipment we use. Other than the professor whose office we got dirty because the groundskeeper didn't look for open windows before he used his blower around the building perimeter, we don't get complaints. Besides, this is the same guy over and over again, so why should we take him seriously? Because we have a new client, that's why. Sub (who, if you recall, had his head surgically implanted in the client's backside) prepared a lengthy (for him), painstakingly documented (for him), data-supported report for the client, saying how much longer it would take us and how many more employees we would need to rake and sweep rather than use backpack blowers. Sub says he even included data showing that blower manufacturers have decreased blower emissions and noise every year for the past decade or two. The client consulted his new (brought on just two weeks ago) supervisor, who told him, "In north Texas, we just leave the leaves there." The client, accordingly, rolled over for the whiner and decreed that we will not use blowers after 8 a.m. I guess, since we start at 7 o'clock, we'll just pull leaves out of the bushes with our hands for the rest of the day. I guess, since we're not allowed outside housing facilities until 8 a.m., we won't be using blowers there at all.

Is it just me, or does none of this make sense?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary?

I skipped the department holiday party today. It turns out that I should've gone. They wanted to give me a hat and pin to commemorate my ten-year anniversary as a department employee.

Hmm. They must have forgotten that I wasn't an employee here from June 1999 through February 2001. Plus, they must have forgotten that I'm not a university employee; I'm a contractor. Oh well, it doesn't really matter. The hat won't fit my above-average cranial capacity, and all I'll do with the pin is stick it in a drawer with all the others I've received in my life.


What's all the hubbub, bub?

Wednesday night, I heard sirens. Then I heard more. Then I heard more. I stepped outside and asked myself, "Is that smoke or really low clouds?" Now I know.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It beats a gingerbread house.

Your Home Says That You Feel Settled and Calm

You come across as very intellectual. People take your wisdom seriously.

You have amazing hygiene, and it shows. You are sparkling clean!

You are a fairly domestic person. You can probably make a decent batch of home cooked cookies.

You are a very nurturing person. You find meaning in taking care of others.

You feel settled in your life. You have enough time to focus on little details.

You are a somewhat self sufficient person. You can do fine on your own if you have to.

Your friends see you as honest, humble, and responsible.

All the News That's Unfit to Print

Add this to the "you heard it here first" -- unless you read Rolling Stone.

My recycling e-mail brought news of Dreamscape LLC's Sex Toy Recycling Program, which "seeks to reclaim unwanted used sex toys from households and the adult movie industry, even going so far as offering a $10 gift card good for a replacement plaything for each box of used marital aids received."

"Marital aids." (Snicker)

'Tis a pity this wasn't around last year. One of my friends could have used it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inherit the Wind

It was windy and rainy yesterday. It didn't keep Las Cruces cyclists from making a point.

I noticed that the photo caption reads, "Members of the Mesilla Valley Bicycle Coalition bare the wind." Is that anything like the right to bare arms?

Another curiosity (and since when does a newspaper have to spell words correctly?): I consider myself a Las Crucen. I'm not even sure how to pronouce "Las Cruceans". Maybe it's Spanglish. Maybe they meant "crustaceans". Maybe I'm just using words to play a shell game.

To be discontinued...

When I like something, it goes away -- not always, but often enough.

While in ABQ for Thanksgiving, I had to go to the furniture store to order a new bureau and end table for my bedroom. The store had mailed me a postcard announcing that they are discontinuing my line of furniture at the end of this year, and my saleswoman even phoned to tell me. I hoped to save my money, but following Australia Rules*, I had to buy my pieces. (For those of you who wish you could see my bedroom ;) here are my bed and my nightstands.)

Losing my favorite styles/brands/models/whathaveyou isn't new to me. Two of my preferred aftershaves by Avon went away. (I now use the generic copy of a brand name.) I even can't buy any more flatware because the manufacturer discontinued it -- although that might not count because it's sitting in a box in my kitchen cabinet because I'm a bachelor and don't need that many place settings in the first place. Even Pinky & the Brain went off the air. (Sigh.)

* Australia Rules are this. If you see something for sale (especially on sale) which you might never see anywhere else, and you probably will never be in that place again, or if it's at a really good price, buy it because you'll never have that chance again.

Nyah nyah nyah-nyah nyah!

I harvested my last tomatoes (and eggplant) of the year yesterday (December 9, 2008). I love that I can pick fresh tomatoes off the plant into December.

Lest you think you need to puncture my pride, I'll have you know that I had to scrape frost off all the windows of my car this morning -- in the desert!

Naturally, it's my own fault. I watered on Sunday. I had to water because I hadn't watered my pots since the day before Thanksgiving (about a week and a half), and I hadn't been home during daylight hours since then (working dawn to dusk will do that to a person), so I couldn't tell if they needed water (or, indeed, if there were any more harvestable tomatoes) or not. So, when I finally saw my plants on Sunday, I watered whether they needed it or not. Naturally, it rained that night.

And it rained (with thunder even!) on Monday.

And it rained on Tuesday.

For good measure, Mother Nature even threw in some spring-like winds, which dropped leaves into my farolitos, which I had cleaned leaves out of on Sunday (it being the only day I was home to be able to do it before they turned on at night).

The temperature dropped to 25 degrees (Fahrenheit, for my non-U.S. readers) last night. I expect that, come Saturday, I'll be able to see how many of my plants turned into crispy critters.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Like the sand through the hourglass..

Worker Bee had a joke when he was here that some employees bring so much drama to us, that it's like a novela, a Spanish language soap opera. I think I'm living one right now.

In a previous episode, Worker Bee resigned, so Thing One was learning to take over most of his duties. (She took the accounting side, I took the safety side.) Then, Thing Two stopped coming to work, with flimsy, infrequent e-mails to Boss as her excuses, so I took over her duties (telephone calls and tracking and verifying of payments; I already was doing timesheets). During Thanksgiving weekend, Thing One phoned to say that her rash was diagnosed as a particular illness, and she recommended that I get vaccinated. (Note: I didn't need to, and I still am well.) I figured she'd be out all last week. Tuesday, her mother phoned to say they were checking her into the hospital. Naturally, I am glad that I am not the one in the hospital, but it doesn't do me much good that she isn't here because I have to do my job and hers and Worker Bee's and Thing Two's. Boss brought in someone from a temp. agency to answer the phones and handle timesheets and other light paperwork (Thing Two's tasks). Now I have to verify Temp's work, as well as figure out what to have her do next because she's remarkably faster than Thing Two was (or Thing Two was remarkably slower; take your pick). Now comes the true novela part. On Thursday, Tweety walked into Boss's office as I was speaking with him, shook our hands rather formally (if you knew her, you'd know how unusual the word "formal" is around her), said it was a pleasure working with us, and, "See you."

"Well," I told Boss, "that didn't take long." Yes, Ob had finally ticked her off so much that she was quitting. (We should've had a pool to bet how long it would take.)

Boss gave Tweety some time to calm down then phoned her and persuaded her to work in our office on Friday (and, presumably, this week as well). I decided to team up Temp and Tweety to work on the plans for our office holiday party, which worked brilliantly, as it slowed them down enough that I could get some work done, rather than pondering what to have them do next.

I came in this weekend so Worker Bee could train me on what reports really really really had to be submitted to corporate and how and on which days of the week, so our operation doesn't fall apart utterly while Thing One is away. I visited Thing One in the hospital that afternoon (and took her an anthurium) and determined that she might be back to work late this week.

The bright side is that Sub was out sick (or claimed sickness) about half of last week, and he's off on annual leave (vacation) this week, so I don't have to worry about his drama. Boss showed up while Worker Bee was training me, so we got done only half of what we had intended, but Boss is smart enough to stay out of my way during the week. Besides, I got his expense reports finished on Friday, so he'll get some large checks coming back to him, so he owes me at least that much.

Who do you think should play me in the TV version? Can we cast some attractive guy with muscles? What should we call it: Life with Chlorophyll, Bringing up Chlorophyll, All My Chlorophyll?

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's a bit of a mind flip.

This is an interesting page I was introduced to by the blog Occasional Fish.

It's a collection of tilt-shift images. Apparently, it has to do with the angle of the camera and a special lens. Still, some of the photos would be excellent even without all the technological thingamabobbery.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Terrorists are not invited.

We have a distinguished speaker scheduled to appear at NMSU. There's only one problem: he's a wanted man. Hmm, he also appears to have been knighted since I last heard of him. From a recent press release:

I am pleased to be able to announce that our guest for the University Speakers Series in Spring 2009 will be acclaimed author Sir Salman Rushdie. One of the most celebrated writers of our time, Rushdie is a winner of the Booker Prize and many other literary awards. A brilliant provocateur, he's penned numerous classic novels, overcome an infamous fatwa issued by Ayatolla Khomeini in response to his novel, The Satanic Verses, received a Knighthood for "services to literature," and become both a pop culture icon and an outspoken proponent for free speech. Rushdie’s books include The Satanic Verses, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet and The Enchantress of Florence. Sir Salman Rushdie will lecture at the Pan Am Center on March 10, 2009. The lecture will be free of charge and open to the public. Further announcements of the schedule will be posted later.

Hail, hail, the gang's all here!

I haven't yet noted for you that I spent the Thanksgiving weekend at my mom's in Albuquerque. My friends Betty and Gimpy both shared in the feast. While we were (ahem, I was) clearing the table, hail fell instead of the rain we had been getting much of the day. The next day, Robomarkov, who was visiting his in-laws for the holiday, stopped by. It was nice to see so many good friends on top of being away from work for four days.

Paybacks, as they say, are a bitch, though. Thing One phoned me over the weekend to let me know that she is ill and won't be in to work for possibly all this week. (She also asked if I had a particular shot, as she is contagious. Isn't that sweet of her to worry about me?) With her out, that means I'm doing my job and hers and Thing Two's and Worker Bee's. Other than taking the timesheets to the front office after I enter them, I'm stuck in a morass of paperwork and computers and telephones. Hmm, I'm in charge and responsible, but how is it I'm still not important?

I've noticed that, for about half a year now, since I first went off my routine time and day driving to ABQ to visit my mom, that it rains either when I'm leaving Las Cruces or somewhere along the way. This time, it was raining (quite nicely, kind of like rain in other parts of the world where they know what rain is, unlike New Mexico where it's either a monsoon or something that almost resembles drizzle) as I loaded my car but stopped just about the time I pulled out of my parking lot. It rained off and on through the drive, and through the day in ABQ. I blame this condition on Betty because it was visiting her which caused me to suspend my routine in the first place. Still, if it's a choice between inconvenience and friendship, she knows which I'll choose.

The other thing I want to tell you (since I'll be so busy when seven o'clock comes, I won't have any time to add blog entries later) is that three of my newly connected veranda lights (and one of the two that always worked) weren't on when I ventured outside on Thanksgiving. I thought there might have been a short circuit somewhere, since it was raining so much. Unfortunately, it being a holiday and me heading out of town, I couldn't investigate. Sunday night, though, I did think that it was possible (though not as probable) that all four lights burned out at the same time, so I took new bulbs outside. My hypothesis was correct: one bulb had streaks of soot (or something) on the inside, and the other three were broken, with actual gaps where glass had fallen out. Three new bulbs worked, but the fourth didn't. I tested it in another socket, and it worked, so I think there is something wrong with the inoperative lamp. What with that and the shattered bulbs, I'll be phoning my electrician today.

So, how are things with you?