This is the thing:
I am floating now. I wasn’t before. Before I was walking– slogging really– down this river. It is bad.
But I’m floating now.
We’ve come through so much to get here. Hope, despair, giddiness, wonder, more despair. Accidents. Crying. Some laughter. More crying. Finally, we’ve all processed through to acceptance, I think.
We’re floating down the river, and we are going to float our way out of here. I believe this. I believe there is a bridge around the next oxbow.
This is when I start to cry.
All the fear and sadness and worry that I’ve been holding back starts to cascade over the levy that protects my heart. I choke back my tears; I will not give in now. The bridge is around the next oxbow.
The bridge is around the next oxbow.
This is not going to go down easy.
No. No it is not.
What are we supposed to do with this, Microsoft? I mean, I’m all for distraction free writing environments, but if my boss looks over my shoulder and sees this, she’s going to know I’m not actually doing my work.
IT’S A VERY STRANGE TAKE ON THE WORD PARADIGM.
It’s as if someone took every criticism anyone ever lodged at Word for “having too many buttons” very, very seriously.
C’mon, Microsoft. Make Word look more like Facebook. That would totally work better for me.
Microsoft Office 2013 Preview is available for download.
I’m not sure what’s happening. I was turning left. Blinker on, just about to release the clutch pedal and smoothly cross over on to 80th street. Just six blocks from home.
Now, I’m not sure though. I’m not sure what’s going on. At all. This doesn’t make sense. I’m moving forward. It’s like the car is driving by itself. Except gravity is all wrong. I’m falling. I’m falling away from the car. Out the hatch. So are the odd items sitting on the dash. They’re shooting toward me. Its like they’ve been flicked off the counter by some lunchroom bully. Why is he throwing these things at me? No. That’s not it.
No. That’s not it.They are running away from me. They are sick of being here and they are leaving. The little quartz crystals. The bird feathers. The twigs and sticks plucked from road trips all over the eastern United States. Holly from outside the Smithsonian. Acorns from the cabin. They’re suspended all around me. They are flying out the back window. I have offended them.
I still can’t figure out what’s happening, but I am not moving again. I haven’t taken my foot off the clutch yet. I think I can still probably make that left turn, although I’m not sure I’m facing the right way. But I should just go. My body is screaming at me to run. My body is demanding I get out of the car and run away. I need to be safe. I need to find somewhere to hide.
My brain is not helping. It’s not sure what happened yet. It’s not sure why we haven’t turned left. It’s confused. There was a bump. A jolt. The drive is still skittering across the platter looking for the remnants of the last I/O. It’s like I’m buffering. My body screams at me to get out of the car. My brain says nothing. So I get out.
I’m outside the car now. Brain is figuring it out now. It’s got new data. It’s outside the bubble of the inside of the car. We were in an accident. We were hit. Yes. We experienced this. We should see if we are ok. We’re ok. Of course we’re ok. Who cares, anyway. The car is not ok. I am not going home yet. I am six blocks away from home and I could probably run there without a break. I should call someone.
The man is out of his blue truck. He is looking very sad. He has a white beard. Maybe. He’s asking me if I’m ok. I sway a little on my legs. I should tell him. I need to say something to him.
I get out that one word before I realize I don’t know the right thing to say. The brain is still buffering. Don’t say something mean. Don’t make this a fight my brain says. What should I do, my body says. Run. my body says. Run away.
No. My brain says. No. Tell him its ok. Tell him you are sorry.
NO! My body shouts. We’re not sorry. He hit us! We’re not sorry at all. We should hit him. In return. That would be fair.
No! My brain says. Don’t be stupid. Tell him something honest.
My heart takes over.
“I. am. very. angry. with. you.” my heart says to the man.
The man nods. I see he is heart sick over this. I am not making it easy on him. I feel bad. But my brain is churning so slow. It doesn’t know what to say. I am so confused.
Call for help. my brain says. Call for help now. Ok. I call for help. “Help.” I say. “Call 911.”
“Are you calling 911?” the man asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. The 911 operator asks me what’s happening. I think about the EMH from Star Trek Voyager. “Please state the nature of the medical emergency.”
I'm proud to announce that it is true. Everything they ever told you about the difficulty of getting unemployment is true.
And I'm going to spare you guys from having to listen to me rant about it because I am tring to cultivate what little human dignity I can right now.
But, if any of you can explain to me why calling their automated voicemail system is different every time you call it, I'd love to talk to you.
I'm not much of a technologist, but I do tend to believe that computers at least try to do the same thing the same way every time they do it.
Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe there's some sort of mathmatically random algorythm running in the Department of Workforce Development's voice-mail system. I bet it is named "the keep'em-guessin-o-tron 2000."
Update: I did manage to get into an on-hold cue. Currently at 12 minutes.
Portable Computing in 1992
The first computer that was ever mine and just mine was a Macintosh PowerBook 145b.
Photo Credit: Lee Carson
EveryMac has this to say:
The Apple Macintosh PowerBook 145b features a 25 MHz 68030 processor, 4 MB of RAM, either a 40 MB or 80 MB hard drive, and an internal 1.44 MB floppy drive in a compact portable case with a 9.8" monochrome passive-matrix display.
My goodness, I loved that computer. My mom and dad took me to a local electronics store, showed me the notebook apples and said, “pick one out.”
I had no idea what I was getting into. I had to chose between the 145B and the Powerbook Duo 210. Today, I’d have picked the Duo, hands down, but at the time, I didn’t like the small trackball and I didn’t like the fact that the Duo did not come with a floppy disk drive. And the grayscale screen was this weird passive matrix LED that was kind of hard to see. Remember, kids, back then, color computing only came at great expense and was, really, not so pretty.
It turns out the 145b was the right choice for me. I had tons (read: tons) of experience with similar strength computers in our families SE30, could tweak out Mac OS 7.5 like nobody’s business, and ended up buying a 2400kbs modem so I could connect to the University of Wisconsin’s VAX.
I have owned about a half-a-dozen laptops, and I’ve not felt the connection to them the way I was connected to my 145b.
Point is, I’ve been lucky to live in a world where portable computing has always been at hand and that writing on the couch while my family watches Xena :Warrior Princess is something that we’ve been able to do together for over 20 years now.
It's great to live in the future, isn't it?
Do: Create a fairly complex alternative or future earth society featuring amazing technology and an significant technology and wealth gap between those with the most and those with the least.
Do not: Fail to build a culture of the larger society that jibes with the smaller.
Do: Cast your entire story with entirely unlikeable flat characters, so long as there are one or two minor characters who are endearing, but equally as flat, to keep the reader interested.
Do not: Kill and or dismiss those characters early in the story.
Do not: Fail to really flesh those characters out beyond the most basic “good and pure” archetypes.
Do Not: Make hunting so easy! Even if you’re really really good at it, sometimes you can’t just go out and catch two rabbits and a fat squirrel just because you’re that awesome.
Do: Put your characters into grueling, fight-for-their-life situations where everything seems impossible and there seems to be no way out.
Do not: Bring that situation to an incredible climax with your heroes standing on top of a giant thanksgiving cornucopia surrounded by werewolf clones of their previously defeated enemies. I mean, really?
Do: End the story with a dramatic self-sacrifice on the part of one or both of the major characters.
Do not: Fail to pull the trigger on that self-sacrifice.
Do not: Suddenly turn your heroic bad-ass into a sniveling love-sick puppy dog.
Do: End on a cliffhanger so I have to read the next book, even though, really, who cares?
I spotted a flake of cedar bark on the ground with a perfect hole in the middle of it. “Do you know what this hole is for, Girls?” I asked.
“Is it for making a bead?” Gaia asked.
“Yeah. That’s a good guess. But not this time.”
“What is for?” Kyra asked.
“When you hold this flake of bark up, and you look through the hole, sometimes its easier to see the fairies.”
The girls giggled and laughed, and took turns looking through the hole for the fairies until I found a second flake with a hole. Then they finished out the nature walk peering through the holes in the bark.
"When I see the fairy what will it look like?’ Gaia asked.
“I see one,” Kyra said. “It flicked right by over there.”
“What will it look like?” Gaia said. “I think I’ve seen one, too.”
“It won’t look like Tinkerbelle,” Jeni said.
“Sometimes they have a golden or a white light” I said. “When they trust you, sometimes you can see green. When they want to talk to you, they’ll be blue.” I said.
“I think I’ve seen a golden one,” Gaia said.
“I believe you have,” I said.
Today is the last chance I’m going to have to write a timely year in review post.
I started to. The title was “In sickness and death: How 2011 taught me to be strong.”
And then I decided not to finish the post. Which is better for us all, really.
Here’s to a better 2012.
I am often appalled by the quality of the leads written in most PR-derived press releases. The following leads were taken (and rewritten to protect the incompetent) from a recent perusal of PRNewswire.
1: The Commission for Learning Achievement Measurement (the Commission) made important advancements in 2011, introducing a new internet-based learning tool and an achievement network, firming up valuable partnerships and expanding its advocacy efforts.
Translation: We launched a website, another website (or maybe the same website), we did the same old shit with the same old partners, and wasted a ton of money on the CEO’s dumb idea that didn’t turn out to generate as many leads as we thought it would.
Suggested improvements: There are too many things going on in this release. Pick one, be clear about it, why it’s important, and then explain it to your audience without being a dick. If this is a year-end wrap up release, say so, and pick three concrete things your firm accomplished this year and explain them.
2: During this hectic time of year, many people are discovering themselves with yet another complication to deal with: a child struggling to learn in school. Teachers have been slow to report, and suddenly many parents realize that a student certainly needs some additional help with their learning projects and performance. And since our schools are doing the best with what they have, its up to the ready and willing parent to consider supplemental tutoring services such as Get Learn? to provide hope and help students and their families get back on track and raise up their grades while also constructing the educational prowess that paves the track for jogging toward a more successful tomorrow.
Translation: This time of year … blah blah bleak blah blah blah struggle, blah blah blah boring boring boring oops I stopped reading.
Suggested improvement: Delete the scene setting. The target audience already understands the troubles they’ve seen, the rest of us don’t care. Also, the irregular punctuation in your product’s name is a strike against your probable publication. “Get Learn” is just as effective as “Get Learn?” and doesn’t mess with reader’s heads or cause for strange sentence endings.
3. Big Holding Company, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of business support support services to the crystal mining industry in the United States, today announced the grand opening of its latest “Sing The Glorious Crystal” office. The office is located in Pueblo, CO and is the 7th in the state of Colorado.
Translation: The holding company is more important to the writer than the thing actually being announced.
Suggested improvement: If what matters is getting new patients to the new crystal singing office, I would highly encourage you to publish the new office’s information in front of the corporate identity / holding company’s brand’s mission statement pablum.
4. What can you get for just one dollar? Mickey’s Hotdog Palace will be celebrating its grand opening and will be serving one dollar Chicago-style hotdogs today, December 6th.
Translation: Nobody cares about our delicious hotdogs, what they care about is a bargain!
Suggested improvement: This is so close to being a good lead. Delete the nonsense about “What can you get for just one dollar?” because there are tons of things you can get for just one dollar. They have whole stores now that are centered on the concept. The invocation of the $1 bargain only leads me to think about cheap crap that nobody wants.
Where can you buy lunch for just $1? Where can I buy a delicious Chicago-style hot dog for just one dollar? I have no idea, but now I’m interested. What else can I get for just one dollar? A bunch of cheap crap from a store that smells of Chinese packing material and broken dreams, that’s what.
You should hire Gabe Wollenburg to fix your pathetic, miserable public relations campaign. He’s good at it and is surprisingly affordable.
Do you think Steven Colbert knows how much damage his program is causing America?
From: The Word: LetThem Buy Cake (S.9 : Ep. 34)
“Freedom isn’t free, so it’s logical that freedom of speech costs money. If you think about it, we wouldn’t have a budget problem if we’d been charging protestors all along. The government could have made a bundle off those hippies in Vietnam.”
I understand, and you, dear reader, understand, that Colbert is using the time-honored literary technique of satire.
History doesn’t record satire well. Sarcasm doesn’t cross language barriers cleanly. And Jonathan Swift never suggested the Irish really eat their babies. Or did he?
The point is that by producing hateful rhetoric, even though it’s well intended hateful rhetoric aimed to illustrate the logical end of the hateful rhetoric offered by the American political machine, is still hateful rhetoric.
If, like me, you believe that words have power, you will appreciate that hateful rhetoric with another aim is still hateful rhetoric. And if you don’t care about hokum like powerful words, then perhaps the sociologist in you will recognize that prolonged exposure to Colbert’s ratcheted-up level of hateful rhetoric only makes the real hateful rhetoric seem less hateful and easier to tolerate.
I recognize the potential for rampant hypocrisy in my desire for Colbert to stop doing his Colbert thing; I understand that hateful rhetoric is a freedom that my beloved freedom of speech protects.
But I do believe, dear friend, that the world would be better if Colbert retired the Colbert act, and delivered his otherwise reasonable message to the hate-spewing masses via a strait-forward method. Every day he goes on spewing hateful rhetoric, even ironically, is another day too many.
There is enough hateful rhetoric in the world. Lets deal with that at face-value. Fighting fire with fire only surrounds the rest of us in a fire fight.
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