Friday, November 28, 2008

No forwarding address

It’s funny how many words there are for “dead.”

In a newspaper article, you may be a fatality. In another sort of newspaper article, you may be the late Mr. Walker. To your sister, you have passed away. To your pastor, you are the dearly departed. The post office prefers “deceased”.

Today at work I got a piece of returned mail with that word scrawled on it. Below was the post office’s sticker:



Thursday, November 20, 2008

The modern workday

I just started three months of temp work for Oxfam America, which is great so far. I love the cause, I love the people, I even love the commute. But when you get down to it, data entry is always going to be data entry. And I had forgotten that when I’ve been doing monotonous computer work for a while, I start humming.

I think the lack of modern work songs is a big problem. Our ancestors had songs for laundry, marching, hoeing, weaving, working on chain gangs, you name it. Our modern monotonous tasks don’t have songs, but I find I’ve got to have something to occupy my mind a bit while my hands are doing their own thing on the keyboard.

The best attempt at this, of course, is Stan Rogers’ (dated) “White Collar Holler”:

Well, I rise up every mornin' at a quarter to eight,
Some woman who's my wife tells me not to be late.
I kiss the kids goodbye, can't remember their names,
And week after week it's always the same.

And it's whoa boys, can you code it (huh!)
Program it right,
Nothin' ever happens in this life of mine,
I'm haulin up the data on the Xerox line.

And it's code in the data, give the keyboard a punch.
Then cross-correlate and break for some lunch.
Correlate, tabulate, process and screen,
Program, printout, regress to the mean.

So, at the risk of driving the person at the next desk crazy, what songs do we need? I’ve long wanted a photocopying song.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The green one

Scene: Election day. Julia is standing the required 150 feet away from her polling place with a sign reading "Yes on 4! Save the economy and the planet."

Security guard: Hey, what's question four?

Julia: It's asking the legislature to take subsidies away from industries that pollute a lot and give the subsidies to building green jobs instead.

Guard: That sounds good. All that green stuff. You know, I bought a truck the other week, and the guy at the lot says you can have it in two colors, the blue one or the green one. (With a wise smile.) And I says to him, I'll take the green one. It seems like things are going in that direction, you know?

Uh, sir? It doesn't actually work like that.