Wednesday, March 30, 2005


I've really developed a phobia about taking off from work. More than once I've returned from vacation to find something significant has taken place, from a co-worker quitting to the company being sold. Yesterday, however, has taken the cake. I had a nasty headache yesterday and a bit of nausea, so I called in sick. (Feeling much better now, thanks.) Today I come in and find that while I was out, 15 people had chosen to quit. Basically, last week--or was it the week before?--one of our sales guys quit. He had one of our major accounts, and since our new overlords at Wombatsch also had a salesperson had a salesperson dedicated to that client, I figured he was just avoiding bad company politics. Obviously he has more in mind, as the departing fifteen consist of the rest of the folks who deal with said client, as well as some production folk who work mostly on that client's jobs. (All design folks, actually. I don't think any of the pre-press grunts were invited to join the party. I know I wasn't.)

We had the obligatory "the sky is not falling" meeting, of course. (the second one actually, I missed the first one last night) I had initially found the whole event amusing, but in hearing our boss' side of the story, I got a reminder of what kind of grief the dear departing caused to the folks working in management. Especially since most of them just up and walked without giving notice. I suppose I should have some concern about my job, seeing how I, too, work mostly on that client's jobs. But I've already developed the short-timer mentality. Anyway, life should be interesting as people start shuffling about and new people start coming on board.

Oh, and one little detail caught my attention. Most of those who left were relatively new employees--employed here a couple of years at most. The two who have had some history with the company were the only ones to send out blanket e-mails saying good-bye to everyone. Both also referred to the shop as Oatmeal, the name we had before we were bought out by Bloatmeal, who was then gobbled up by Wombatsch. I may have to do the same in my farewell missive, cause I can definitely relate to that sense of history. Of course, I won't lie and say that I want to keep in touch with everybody. I'll own up to my terrible letter writing and just tell folks to read the blog. ;-)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Doin' Easter 

Yesterday was a typical Friday. Customers dumping a pile of work on us and requesting Monday delivery, managers scrambling to set priorities and soliciting weekend overtime work from us grunts. You could hardly tell that it was a holiday weekend. One of the customer service reps summed it up best as she said to someone, "Oh, I don't do Easter." I found that rather depressing, since I do. I grew up in an area where most folks not only did Easter, but took off Good Friday as well. (Gotta love that Roman Catholic influence.) But then I had to wonder what exactly I wanted from everybody. I mean, obviously I would like my coworkers to believe and celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. But even being a Christian doesn't mean you celebrate Easter. It's a human custom established by human beings and as such isn't binding on anyone. Was I just being a cultural bigot? It was more than just that, wasn't it?

That made me think about how I "do Easter" myself. To my surprise, what came to mind wasn't church services or Easter breakfasts or baskets full of candy. I've enjoyed all of those trappings, but what stuck in my mind was laughing in the car after my grandfather's funeral. The funeral service was held at church, then everybody piled in their cars and we processed to the cemetary for the burial. Noodles and I rode with my brother and his wife. I forget how it started--it must have been Buffalo's fault. He always starts it, y'know. Anyway, whatever the cause, we started cracking jokes. Joke begat joke and we ended up roaring with laughter the whole way. It's not that we were glad to see Grandpa gone, it's just that we were all confident that he was in heaven, that one day we'd see him again. Life could go on because we had just affirmed that life does go on. When I do Easter tomorrow, I'll enjoy the food and music, certainly. But the essence of the celebration--the thing I wished more people could "do"--is laughing that Jesus took care of death and the devil and blazed a trail to eternity which He invites us to follow. Hope to see you there.

Friday, March 25, 2005

He gave him no answer 

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he did not open his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?

And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

(American Standard Version, with some archaic language updated)
(just keeping up the tradition)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What a day for a daydream 

Got word yesterday that the Sauerkrauts have a definite teaching gig for Noodles over in China. (While they had already accepted her, they needed to find a school that wanted her services.) This generated a nice day of excitement and some concurrent Google searches by Noodles and myself. (Ah, life in the 21st century...) There wasn't much to find, however I did find some sort of news feed being used on three different sites (all in Chinese). Among the articles, one featured a picture of some police chief (I guess they're trying to crack down on drug trafficking) and another featured a shot of elephants. So today I was daydreaming on and off how I would handle being approached by Chinese pushers and wondering if I'd get to see wild elephants. In fact the whole elephant thing is becoming quite appealing. I fear that it may become an obsession and I'll start to make a nuisance of myself, asking people if they know where I can go and see wild elephants. I may even cut a deal with some heroin runners and offer to buy some junk if they can set me up with some elephants. (To see, I mean, not to buy. I mean, how the heck am I going to get an elephant home? I don't think they make elephant carriers for the plane.)(This attempt at humor is too weird. I'm going to shut up now.)

Getting hammered 

Bunnah had her second carpentry class yesterday... er, make that Monday, since the clock slipped past midnight. It's come at a perfectly rotten time, given my general business these days, but it's something we've both been looking forward to. So far we've covered hammering and sawing. Bunnah has approached it with her usual dexterity, but she still is kind of small and so what I thought would be easy tasks for her have turned out to be a bit difficult. Once again I overestimate my children. (I'd make a great stagemother) So far she hasn't sounded too discouraged, so I suppose that's a good sign. She will not, however, go ahead with my silly tradition of starting the lesson by singing The Hammer Song.

Giving these lessons reminded me once again how amazing the human body is. Training is a bit of a challenge for me as it requires me to verbalize stuff I do subconsciously, but it's also fun as I stop to think all the little things that go into hammering a nail or cutting a length of board. There's also a bit of nostalgia as I watch my daughter's struggles and flashback to all the bent nails I created when I was a young'un. I find myself wishing I could guide Bunnah to an immediate proficiency in using the tools she's learning, but I know that the true learning will have to come with hours of practice, trial and error. But oh, the sweet satisfaction that's in store when the job is done. If I can get her started, then I'll have done my job.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Through the eye of a what??? 

Another day of low level depression. I worked on some letters, which was all right, and then got around to paying my bills. The extra money we spent on our porch has not magically replaced itself. So, I was mentally kicking myself for every dollar I had spent in the past two weeks as I balanced my checkbook. (Is there an more up to date expression for that? Should I be saying "as I was Quickening my finances" instead?) Of course, this is a very stupid depression. Because, as I discovered at The Global Rich List*, I am the 47,650,653rd richest person in the world. What? Not impressed? That's in the top .8 percent, baby. 5,952,349,347 people have less income than I. I drove past a dozen or so of them as I went to the post office box to mail off my phone bill.

Of course, that all just makes me more depressed. I know I should be cultivating a spirit of thankfulness, but... I don't know, I guess it's just a pride thing. Don't want to think of myself accumulating treasures while others are going hungry. Or maybe I just don't want to admit that I'm addicted to luxury. Oh, well, if that's the case, then maybe the next couple of years will help me get that habit under control.

*Found via The Mysterious Traveler, whom I found via the local Webloggers Meetup. (I didn't attend, I just read the report.) I should bookmark those sites.
**Note that if you want to shoot for the middle, you'll have to drop down to an annual income of US$868.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Listen to the music 

I made an interesting discovery this evening. Poodlepums was complaining that she had some song running through her head and then she mentioned that she always has some tune or other running through her head. A continual music track, if you will. I found this odd, because while I certainly have songs that get stuck in my head from time to time, I also have definite moments of "silence". Almost immediately after this, Noodles came over to where we were and I asked her about her musical status. She, too, has a consciousness accompanied by continual background music. (Well, more than that, she also has musical dreams.) I guess it's no surprise to learn who the musically gifted ones are in our family. (Bunnah takes after her old man in this area.) So now I'm curious, is the continual soundtrack a component of every musical mind? Or do I just have a couple of weirdos in my family?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

What was I thinking? 

I didn't mean to use the Billy Preston lyric for the title of the previous post, I meant to use Three Dog Night--"What goes up, must come down." I was so upset I couldn't keep my 70s pop songs straight!

Ah, well. My mood lightened a bit today as I tended to other biz. Tomorrow's soon enough to get back on the roller coaster.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Will it go 'round in circles? 

Saturday, I'm flying; Tuesday, I'm dragging. We started reading the fundraising materials and... well, it's going to be an adjustment. How we're going to adjust, exactly, is still up in the air. This is one area in which Noodles and I are having different opinions, which of course makes dealing with our objections to the official fundraising procedures even more difficult.

I don't want to get into it too much. Well, part of me does, but I've tried to avoid spilling my guts here and I think that's twice as wise in this instance. Basically I'm torn between doing as I'm told and doing what I want to do. On one hand, I truly believe that any sort of apprentice or trainee needs to listen and obey. It's okay to ask questions or even offer suggestions, but when one is learning, one should follow the lead of one's teacher/mentor. On the other hand, asking casual acquaintances for money is so alien to my thinking that it twists my guts to think about. The question is, are my feelings something I need to grow out of or something to nurture?

Another aspect is the first chapter of a book they're giving us to read. It talks all about interdependence and how that's a good way to be--far superior to the independence advocated by modern American society. Problem is, Noodles and I are quite the independent cusses and our life experiences for the past decade or so have only strengthened that tendency. I truly believe there's room for both in God's creation, but again, is my independent streak truly right here, or is it just a cop out to avoid a difficult task? Lots of soul searching ahead. When I can find the time, that is....

Sunday, March 13, 2005

As the sun pulls away from the shore... 

Another blog free weekend. I was expecting that preparation for this China thing would give me some blogging material, but instead it seems to be taking away the time I have to blog. Take this weekend. I spent Saturday afternoon and evening painting the flurshugginer porch. It was a challenge, but once I finished it looked great! Of course, the sun had set and I didn't notice all the imperfections until this morning, but by porchlight it was beautiful. Anyway, I then did a quick clean up and ate supper. After dishes, I ignored my responsibilities to the blogosphere and sat down and watched GalaxyQuest. It was the right decision. Then today, after church, I finished the painting clean-up, scanned and cleaned up a picture for our fundraising activities, and wrote a couple of letters. After the dinner/dishes break, I spent the time looking over the fund-raising packet (which had arrived Friday) and dashed off a couple more letters.

sigh. It finally dawned on me that by embarking on this venture, I have basically taken on a second job. It really hit home when I was perusing materials and only paid close attention to the bits about building web sites to stay in touch with supporters. If my mind starts wandering, I know it must be work. Of course, I don't mind at all. Whatever energies I expend or unused muscles I stretch, I'm still gaining enthusiasm for the change ahead. Still, it's going to take some work and I don't want to short change the responsibilities I still have. Sounds like a recipe for a growing experience.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Try it, you'll like it 

I think this is the first meme to which I've ever succumbed, but I think it's an intriguing one. I got it from Joel, who got it from his wife, who got it from someone named Eve Tushnet. (Sheesh, sounds like some sort of disease vector.) Anyhoo, the game is to list ten things that you have done that you don't think your regular readers have done. Should be easy for me, unless I've got a lot of lurkers. ;-) Anyway, in no particular order:

If I've misjudged any of my readers and you have done one of these things, please let me know. Especially number 10....

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I've been working on the... 

Yesterday was a laborsome day at work. It's not that we were swamped with jobs--though we had plenty to do and left some work for first shift--but they "upgraded" my computer by swapping it out with a faster model. So once again I spent at least the first half hour of my shift resetting preferences and copying files. And then, once I got working, a couple of jobs took twice as long as I had to hunt down the proper utility or settings to work the job the way I wanted. I've been through the process many times in the 13 years I've been working there. You'd think it would get easier, but actually some things have gotten better while others have gotten worse. On the positive side, it used to take a least an hour to do that initial "settling in" on a new station. The faster hardware undoubtedly helps, but I think that OS X's Users setup makes it easier to, er, set up. That's one thing I wasn't too crazy about when the system was introduced, but now I have to admit I like it. Of course, that also has it's downside. Like I said, my machine was swapped out. Our IT guy helpfully copied our personal folders over to an accessable backup drive, but I had difficulty finding some settings for Adobe InDesign. (Is it really that hard to create a separate file called "PDF export presets", Adobe guys?) I tried to go over to my old station and export those settings, but the new user wasn't there and the station was set-up so that no one could use the station without a password. Quite a change from the days when I could and often did access any number of computers in the shop and work on multiple stations. But, of course, that was before we were an industry leader with a global presence and undoubtedly the target of terrorists eager to steal our PDF export settings. Maybe I'm just waxing nostalgic or developing a "short-timers" mentality, but I missed having the greater access to and responsibility for the tools I use in my job.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Today I saw my wife pass before my eyes. Okay, not really. But when she was up on the ladder, painting the roof of our new, way-too-expensive porch, I did offer a prayer that she didn't fall off. I would have been up there myself, but as my weight is probably around 230 lbs, I decided to stay off our 200 lb rated ladder. I never used to worry about such things--but the older I get, the more cautious I become. Whether that's a good thing, or not, I don't know.

Anyway, I'd write more, but basically all I did this weekend was put in some overtime and paint. Oh, and I did load up Snood on the laptop, which is why I'm not writing anything substantial. I am now ready for China. All the rest is just gravy.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hitting the books 

Now I know we made the right decision to serve with the Sauerkrauts. We've got our initial packet of paperwork and included in it was a book! A sure way to our hearts. Of course, the book is all about staying healthy overseas and the first chapter almost makes one want to hide under their bed. Who knew there were so many diseases in the world? I suppose that's one advantage of having done our adoption trip--we know that people can do these things and emerge unscathed. At least, I hope....

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Another month... 

...another Webloggers Meetup. It was a good meet, complete with live music by The Hothouse Flowers. Anita didn't particularly want live music from The Hothouse Flowers or anyone else, but hey, that's the drawback/blessing of public spaces. It could always be worse. I could start singing.

The turnout was sparse: Anita Rowland, Eric Haddock, Eric's wife (I know her name, I just don't know if I should state it publicly), a writer and a photographer from a local paper (whose names I didn't catch since I was the last to arrive), and me. (The writer took notes and threatened to read all of our blogs, so I'll have to watch my grammer... oh, nertz! Did I end the last sentence with "me"? I! I meant to say, I. Honest.) If I understand the tale correctly, Anita had contacted a Redmond paper to publicize the meetup in their community events calendar. Since the meetup was at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue, they snobbishly did not run the blurb and passed it on to the Bellevue paper, where our new journalistic friends jumped on the chance to interview some fascinating and witty Eastside bloggers. The asked me some questions, too.

The discussion, predictably, was focused on the nature of blogging. I learned that it was considered gauche not to provide links to things you discussed. (Hence the relative preponderence of links in this post. Tomorrow, I'll get lazy again and make you google things.) After our journalists left, the conversation drifted over to the hidden "treasures" in the area--those nice places that don't spend a gazillion bucks on advertizing and so are often unknown to many people. There was also some discussion about job searches and the like. About that time, I realized that I had overstayed the hour I had intended to spend and so excused myself and headed back to work. I'm tempted to think that I'm starting to prefer the smaller gatherings. There are less new people to meet, but the discussions seem deeper--or maybe it's just slower. I don't know. Either way, it's still fun.