Today’s mission: I have an MS Word document in front of me. Length…oy. Eight thousand, sixty-three words. It consists of about two dozen e-mails sloppily aggregated. I have to hack, trim, polish and stitch them into something resembling a coherent piece of writing. And yes, some people wrote their e-mails with no capital letters whatsoever.
I expect this will take most of the day. So why not put it off another few minutes with some blogging?
(Note: Just had one of those work-at-home moments, where I add up the pluses and minuses of being one’s own boss and come up with a large plus. Not that people don’t criminally procrastinate in offices, as anyone who’s strolled through one with a view of the computer monitors can attest. In fact, I’m frequently amazed at the amount of in-bossman’s-face goldbricking that goes on; a friend’s husband works with a woman who eBays throughout her work day, and prints out reams of listings and just leaves them lying on the printer for all to see. What-evuh.)
I hope you had a good Presidents’ Day. Having spent most of my career in the “you call that a holiday?” world of newspapers — where I have worked Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day and most other days when others wouldn’t go near their offices — I scarcely think of it as one. We got six paid holidays, if I’m remembering correctly: New Year’s, Memorial, Independence, Labor, Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I hear of offices closing for MLK, Dead Presidents, Veterans and my personal favorite, Columbus Day, I wonder how any work gets done in the world. That’s not even considering Friday-after-Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year’s, a black hole of dead time.
I once wrote a column about working Christmas, which I actually came to prefer, when I was single. It paid out double time, double brownie points and was so news-free, it usually consisted of spending a day at the office reading newspapers and eating stale Christmas cookies, waiting for the roof to fall in. Most years, the roof stayed up, but there were exceptions — a serious below-zero cold snap that fractured water mains all over town. (This was the year I learned the First Rule of Note-Taking in Sub-Zero Weather: Always carry a pencil.) There was a bank robber who was bailed out by an anonymous good Samaritan, so he wouldn’t have to spend Christmas in a warm jail cell, but in his cold, incredibly depressing furnished room that was only marginally roomier.
Anyway, if you had the day off, here’s hoping it was appropriately presidential. Hail to the chief of your choice.
Remember those heady days of earlier this month, when it seemed Detroit really could get its act together, stop the city-suburban squabbling, pull up its socks and be a city?
Yeah, it’s hard for me, too.
Earlier this week, the City Council voted to shut down the zoo. Yep. Sure, it’s in a fiscal crisis along with every other public institution around here, but unlike those, there was a plan proposed that would have allowed the city to retain ownership, give up management and keep the facility open. Win-win, you might say. Of course the council voted it down. Because they were in a really bad mood! They got the plan late! And besides, the zoo is in the suburbs, and you know what that means — another chance to stick it to the man.
Alan watched the late news last night, and reported a councilman — can’t say which one — was carping that she was getting angry calls from “north of Eight Mile” and someone needed to tell these people hey, Slavery is over, and we’re not on the plantation anymore. I’m amazed at how often public officials say that around here; it’s like, the default sound bite. When the (broke) city was caught spending $130,000 for bottled water for city workers, here’s what the mayor said: “Slavery is over. It is. We don’t need for massa to tell us to get some water.” Huh? The race card is played so often here you’d think it would have disintegrated from handling by now. But no.
On a more comical note, Councilwoman Martha Reeves (yeah, that one) was on TV saying, “It was a good vote. We agreed to disagree.” And close the zoo. Oh.
OK, I can’t put it off any longer — time to start hacking.
brian stouder said on February 21, 2006 at 12:39 pm
I hate MS Word – even despite using it every day. That said – I don’t envy your hack/stich/slash/burn mission.
So does the Detroit City Council view the zoo as actually expendable? – or is this more like faux-brinksmanship, wherein the “close it” vote leads to some compromise (which everyone knows will come to pass) with appropriate payoffs/paybacks in the mix?
Maybe they should emulate Indiana’s governor, and lease the zoo out to some private entity (as Daniels proposes to do with Indiana’s toll roads!) – which will in turn ‘stick it to the man’ (or whoever) for the next 75 years
Danny said on February 21, 2006 at 1:20 pm
And yes, some people wrote their e-mails with no capital letters whatsoever.
What, an email from deb? 🙂
Actually, I am envious of deb’s utter lack o’ respect for the shift-key. I sometimes wonder if she has this freedom because she is an elite writer or is it that she just doesn’t want carpal tunnel. Whatever the reason, I think it is cool and should be added to the list of her other characteristics of being cute and having all that hair (note, I have never seen deb, just going from her post two threads ago).
Speaking of the qwerty keyboard, I am wondering if any of you have heard the same: that it is an antiquated layout developed to hamstring touch-typists who were too fast for pre-elctroninc typewriters (to prevent key jams). Apparently there is an alternative layout called the dvorak which is much better suited for today.
Dorothy said on February 21, 2006 at 2:00 pm
Never heard of dvorak but I for one am sticking to what I learned. I tried out an ergonomically correct split keyboard a few years ago and was stymied. I was told I would adjust quickly if ever I decided to stay with that style, but I’m not buying it. I already type fast – trying a new one would slow me down. And if there’s one thing I hate it’s being S – L – O – W!!!
alex said on February 21, 2006 at 3:03 pm
Sorry to hear about the Detroit Zoo. It was one of the best anywhere — or at least it was when I was a little kiddie. No telling what sort of mishandling has gone on the last few decades at the hands of local government of late. Distinctly remember one outing there where a male giraffe kept attempting to mount a female, missing the hole and jizzing copiously on the ground. Poor thing would burn in hell if it were up to the Catholics. Or drop dead of starvation if it were up to City Council.
Ah, how I miss the freedom of freelance. Right now taking a break from the monotony of writing dreck on the company dime. Used to be I could be watching Oprah.
brian stouder said on February 21, 2006 at 3:15 pm
“It was one of the best anywhere… ”
The Toledo Zoo has improved greatly; The Chicago zoos are pretty cool; The St Louis zoo is wonderful – and FREE – but has no parking! The deal is that you park on the street and get a $15 parking ticket (from a horse-mounted police patrol) or park a lot further away in their pay-lot, and then wait for a shuttle.
The Indy zoo I found less impressive (somewhat cramped), except that it is right next to their botanical garden – which is way, way cool.
The Fort Wayne Zoo, though, is a ‘local treasure’ (as the Detroit News fellow says of the almost-in-Detroit zoo) that is second to no zoo I’ve ever seen.
nancy said on February 21, 2006 at 3:31 pm
The FW Zoo is, indeed, a local treasure. One reason it’s so good is, it doesn’t try to be anything spectacular. So it can do modest exhibits very, very well. It’s called a children’s zoo, and that’s what it is — a great, manageable day trip for families with kids.
I think the Columbus Zoo is great, too. It benefitted enormously from the timely hire of the screamingly ambitious Jack Hanna back when he was wet behind the ears, but the foundation was already there. The primate collection is the crown jewel.
And yeah, Toledo’s really good, too.
Late news is the Detroit Zoo will be saved. I’m sure someone will broker a truce that will allow everyone to save face. I have to correct an error: The council member Alan saw was a woman, not a man, and here’s the gist of her remarks: “This is not a plantation. We are not owned by everyone else. Black folks are not owned by white folks anymore. I made the point Saturday that the state Legislature was pimping the City of Detroit, and that we should not play the role of prostitute. That upset a lot of people, but I stand by my words. The symbolism is that Detroit is a black city, and we’re not able to govern ourselves. It’s a racist attitude and I resent it.”
This was all about the state legislature offering $4 million to ease the transiton from city to non-profit management, with a deadline attached; if they didn’t act by this week, the money went away. I don’t know how you make the leap to prostitution from that, but there you are.
Connie said on February 21, 2006 at 4:51 pm
My memories of my childhood visits to my Detroit suburban cousins aren’t very pleasant, except for three things: the Detroit Zoo, Uncle John’s GM exec tickets on the 3rd base line at Tiger Stadium, and the Cranbrook Rose Show. Though how our gang of children ended up at the Cranbrook Rose Show I can’t imagine. Would be sorry to see the zoo go. Oh well, the once famous Detroit Public Library is mostly long gone already.
brian stouder said on February 21, 2006 at 5:12 pm
“the once famous Detroit Public Library is mostly long gone already”
Hey Connie – you’re a credentialed librarian, yes? Didja see the piece in the Washington Post
(like a classic 1950’s scare-story!)
an excerpt –
Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden. The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words “Homeland Security.” The bizarre scene unfolded Feb. 9, leaving some residents confused and forcing county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography. After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user’s choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library’s work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men. They were officers of the security division of Montgomery County’s Homeland Security Department, an unarmed force that patrols about 300 county buildings
alex said on February 21, 2006 at 7:40 pm
Ah, so that’s why Souder gave Fort Wayne all this money for a Department of Homeland Security. That one kind of had me scratching my head. No danger of planes flying into buildings here, but I betcha they need a security force for the new $86 million library. Or at least for all the thought crimes that are surely going on in this town.
ashley said on February 22, 2006 at 2:17 am
Well, I went on down to the Audubon zoo, and they all axed for you.
I refused to work Mardi Gras this year. I used to never work Mardi Gras, but this year I conned people into covering for me. This year, I have to be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Religious holiday and all.
Connie said on February 22, 2006 at 9:33 am
Yes Brian, that story made the library news almost immediately. More recent updates made it clear that the officers involved were in the wrong, and in fact were censured and transferred.
A trickier event happened at a library in Mass a few weeks ago, when FBI agents demanded immediate access to public use computers due to a bomb threat made to a nearby college. The Library Director asked for a search warrant or court order. It took the FBI several hours to obtain their paperwork. The Wall Street Journal editorial page called the Library Director a terrorist supporter.
Didn’t know there was library news? If you care a good central source is http://lisnews.org .
In scarier news, a 14 year old boy was killed in a gang shooting a mile or so from my home the other day. Somehow gang shootings and Goshen just don’t go together.
nancy said on February 22, 2006 at 9:45 am
Somehow gang shootings and Goshen just don’t go together.
Amish gangs, maybe. Amos N da hood.
the insider said on February 22, 2006 at 10:03 am
Don’t be so hard on those who “multitask” in an office setting. I imagine some fair percentage of your loyal readership is technically supposed to be doing something else, while reading your posts.
brian stouder said on February 22, 2006 at 10:21 am
“Amish gangs, maybe. Amos N da hood.”
spinners on the buggy wheels WOULD be pretty cool
Danny said on February 22, 2006 at 10:36 am
From Wierd Al Yankovic’s send up of ‘Gansta’s Paradise’ (changed to Amish Paradise):
We’ve been spending most our lives
Living in an Amish paradise
I’ve churned butter once or twice
Living in an Amish paradise
It’s hard work and sacrifice
Living in an Amish paradise
We sell quilts at discount price
Living in an Amish paradise
basset said on February 22, 2006 at 9:25 pm
I went to middle school (“junior high,” at the time) with Amish kids down in Daviess County. They used to hide beer in the fencerows and race buggies… teenage nature will show up in whatever context, y’know.