Thursday, August 20, 2009

Saturday Night is Ear Cleaning Night

I got a laugh out of that line at work. I keep 'em laughing at work ... I try to keep 'em laughing wherever I go. To make 'em laugh, you have to play the fool a bit, the cynic a bit, the wry observer. You have to be aware of your own tomfoolery. Yes, mostly you have to play the fool a bit.

I can keep 'em laughing almost all the time, but occasionally the stress load gets sufficient that I crumble a little and the response time is down. Notwithstanding that I got a laugh out of ear cleaning night, that is how I have been feeling. The annual course catalog ... regular readers will remember that I string type together for a major research university (MRU) in exchange for a twice-monthly supply of alphabet soup ... gets to be a grind as it nears the end. This year, we are entirely online, and so we went live on August 1. But live and online is bloody different than going to press. Since go-live, we have been tweaking the courses site daily, and cleaning up the degrees site regularly. I am in the final, final phase, where I make a giant pdf of the thing. In other words, I still make a book; I just don't send it to a printer.

The pdf production is where my lifetime as a copy editor drives me crazy. "Nuts!", to quote Inspector Kramer of Nero Wolfe fame. Nuts. The technology is cranky and backward, and I come face to face with the thousands of prose discourtesies that emerge from the mouths of the careless and the overweening. I won't say the ignorant because most of this prose is written by people with PhDs. So one has to wonder where they imbibed the notion that prose is about slapping a few dashes hither and yon, and capitalizing any word that makes them burp with satisfaction, and stringing puffy adjectives before and after the noun so as to hide the meaning.

All of this is to say that I will be free to return to my more airy being as incipient curmudgeon this weekend.

And I will get back to photography, most of which is not the shooting of the photos but the manipulating of the stream of resultant files.

I didn't mean for this post to go this way. It is the fifth hour in the morning; I went to sleep at 10, so that condemned me to be awake before 4. I just heard the coffee pot chirp ... so brb, as we say in chat ... be right back ...

Coffee in hand at 4:47. So you're wondering about ear-cleaning. That would be the dog's ears. I have committed to dog and vet that I will clean his ears weekly in aid of preventing the hidden fungal infection that was the proximate cause of the head shaking that was the proximate cause of the hematoma which sucked down 2 weeks and $800 of my affection for the great beast. He is all snuggled up beside me on my pillow-bestrewn "Chinese wedding bed". That is what we have long called this Malaysian-manufactured, cast-iron, mother-of-pearl inlaid, canopy bed (sans canopy at this point) where I nightly sleep and play with my laptop, not necessarily in that order. My old friend, now gone, Kurt bought it when he was a Peace Corps dialysis technician in Malaysia in the very early 70s. The shopkeepers told him it was a Chinese wedding bed, and notwithstanding that I do not know of a Chinese wedding bed tradition, that's what I call it.

Dog with ear midst pillows. That's where we are. The vet shaved his ear, drained the hematoma, sewed it up, wrapped his head in a bandage, and told me to make sure he didn't make a mess of himself. For two weeks. During the busiest time of my year. And, by the way, my 86 Honda Civic asked for and received a brake job in the middle of all this.

So it's been a cranky period, and the result is that I have dedicated Saturday evening ... leastwise 5 minutes of same ... to cleaning the dog's ears.

How Saturday has changed. I never go out on Saturday evening. Many were the decades that Saturday evening was a fright of activity. Let's not be bashful ... it always ended up with cruising in whatever was my favorite bar of the moment. All that will be a fond fond memory as I swab dear Loki's wet and quivering ears.

I meant to talk about my new hobby ... gardening ... and leave this on a positive note. That'll have to wait. Feeling my warm inner cranky. Besides ... it's 4:57 now. Feet on the floor by 5:29 ... that's the rule. So I have a half hour to catch up on the news.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Can You Row?

Notwithstanding that my web sites are live ... see previous post ... and that the period of my annual course-catalog-related discomfiture is formally ended, I am still under the gun. One more week of that ... I could bore you with the details, but let this suffice ... pdf! Yes, the pdf ... in other words, even if you no longer have to print the damned thing, you still have to make a pdf so that the hangers-on can print something like what used to be printed and handed to them. So the only part of out-of-the-print business that I can really embrace is that I no longer have to spend a day with sweaty truck drivers tking delivery of 40 tones of books.

Ah, the pdf ... this week's torment.

But that is not the story. On Friday, I worked from home and that involved a vast amount of walking. Have I noted that the dog, my sainted Loki, took the opportunity of my annual deadline insanity to sprout a hematoma on his left ear. That bloody left ear has cost me a couple of thousand dollars over the course of dear Loki's life. We're into this episode to the tune of $800 and counting.

So on Friday, I took him to the vet's in the morning to have the bandage changed, and to board him there so that my assistant and I could spend the rest of the on Dreamweaver and our annual celebratory lunch. But that had to wait for breakfast ... so I left the vet's and walked along Fillmore heading to the Sidewalk Cafe on California.

The Fillmore is an historically Black district that was Japanese before WW II. Like everything in San Francisco, it's historic character is crumbling in the face of the cheap money of the rich that is infecting our world. But it is still Black at its core. So there I am walking along Fillmore in the early morning, and a dapper man, dressed to the nine's, looking every bit a Black church deacon, calls out to me as I pass, "Do you row?" Say what, I said. "Do you row?" he repeated. I made a gesture in the style of a man rowing. And then I looked a little more closely. The dapper old man proffered a bag of marijuana and some papers in an obviously arthritic hand. He was saying, "Do you roll?" But for middle age, a job, and a decided preference for whiskey and martinis in the evening, I could have turned my non-arthritic fingers into an early morning toke. I made some awkward excuse and rolled on, as it were.

When I were a young fart ... "as it were" ... I got a job at a place in Windsor called Canadian Bridge where we manufactured hydro-electric transmission towers. What we did was to manipulate steel "angles" that would be combined into the aforementioned towers. At one point, early in my short career, I was assigned to assist an ancient Polish man famous for his raging anger and quick temper. My job was to feed angles into a device which cleaned then with some sort of metal shot prior to their being galvanized. My Polish workmate ... his name has long since vanished form my memory ... starts yelling at me "Sha - een". I was befuddles, and he yelled it again. "Sha - een". This went on for a while and my Polish workmate worked himself into such a froth that I finally called the shop steward to protect myself. It turned out that "Sha - een" is the Polish-Canadian pronunciation of "chain". The man wanted a chain.

The can-you-row thing reminded me of the Sha - een episode. And it reminded me of the madness of work where words matter no matter how weird the moments may be.

Sunday evening ... haven't been blogging enough ... the week looming ahead will be the last nasty week of this season ... that's where I am hanging my hat ... that's where I'm rolling my chain.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Both sites went live on time: Explore Degrees and Explore Courses. Gawd, I'm ecstatic, relieved, gonna take Sunday off.

We now return to a regular blogging schedule.