About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Readjusting to the Good (Work) Life

Mornin', Junior!
How you doin', boy?
Give 'em hell, Champ!
What? What? What do you mean that's a weird collection of stuff? I've always written about what a funny, quirky place it is, world class technology utilized and excellent work product emitted from simple business systems that work because we work at them until they do work. Oh, yeah, if an uninitiated person looks around in a discerning way, he or she might be startled by some of the sights. But not me. I am now surrounded by $1 gwillion worth of Steve Kaufman art and I'm not complaining. From the Earnhardt, Jr. that I pass on the way to disarm the security system to the Ali who stares straight at me from across the lobby, fists at the ready, I'm in a slightly different world here. I'd like the readership to meet My Dog, a large, quiet plastic fellow who guards those telephone directories diligently, despite the apparent Exacto knife attack to his mouth. You should see what people toss into that aperture! "Is that an ashtray?" Uh, no. That's My Dog. I've been thinking of maybe taking My Dog home on a weekend, put him in the backseat of my car, perhaps. Give him a little ride in the sunshine.

I have a brief spell of solitude after I arrive and before the troops arrive. I make coffee, check emails and voicemail, perform all the wake-up tasks to be completed before others demand my attention. On my second day, the door chime told me someone had come in. Boy, howdy! My home dudes - those carpet cleaning chuckleheads I love! "Hey, Les, can I hug you?" Well, yeah. It was surreal to see them march in, route sheets in hand, forms to report for the day that I had created so long ago and that were still in use. As my new troops arrived, they were startled to see so many men hanging in the lobby. "How are you, Les?" "Sober, homes, and happy to be here." "How's the car running, Les?" Ah! The subject of the ages. My car, Lucy Sue, who still has not crossed 24,000 miles and who has never had a true mechanical issue, is a magnet for crazy maladies. Cesar and the other homes have saved my bacon many a time, and last summer got me ready for a road trip feeling confident about the car. "Well, homes, it's unanimous. All four window motors have gone out. Her windows are all at different heights. It's hell for hot when I'm driving." Silence for only a moment. "Got any suction cups, Les?" I did. I'd bought them and brought them purposely on my first day back at work. And suddenly, before my eyes (well, out the window), there were home dudes scrambling like squirrels in, out, over and around my car. And I liked that. Later in the day I told David my guys had come en masse to see me. "I knew they would," he said. Then he told me he'd rehired Justin - Justin who had problems, too, and who was fired long before I crashed into the mountainside. "He's done some growing up. He's worth giving another chance." Amen.

 The heat is on ~ ~ I grew up in the LA and Salt Lake City areas. My dad read the LA Times and the Salt Lake Tribune. There were choices about one's newspapers in those cities, and those were Dad's choices. I don't know if these were or are world class publications, but I suspect they pretty accurately reported the news, with their individual political and social agendas being worked. When I first came to Las Vegas in 1976 as a 23-year-old, I laughed out loud at The Review-Journal, still the only game in town. This publication (then and now) has to dedicate a fair portion of print space each day to correcting (not retracting) yesterday's and last week's and last month's errors in reporting. The local newscasts aren't far different. It's tough to get reliable news here.

Each morning I listen (only listen, because I can't stop to watch) a local newscast while I get ready for work. This is a carry-forward habit across several years. I love the meteorologist, Sherry, who tends to get things really, really right. I suspect she does her own research and script writing. The anchors please me less, a 20-something, obviously educated, but needs-to-be-spanked woman and a way, way too conservative (for me) man in his 40s. It seems clear they use prepared scripting, and they often stumble during the delivery. I frequently snicker as I blow-dry, thinking I'd have used the word "fewer" instead of "less", "many" in place of "much" or that at least I know how to pronounce a word that flummoxed those in the spotlight.

So Sherry announced that we're very hot and dry, though cooler than normal, and the monsoon is being held down in Arizona until perhaps this Sunday when we may get showers. She was right, too! I've got proof. I leave home at 6:30 a.m. and it's 80-85 degrees. By noontime, it's in the high 90s and we peaked at about 106, guaranteeing at least 104 for the afternoon commute. Girl can predict the weather! The sensor in my car has shown 119 a few times, but it's down at the blacktop, not measuring ambient air temperature. It's indescribable getting into the car after it's been sitting for hours. Yes, the heat is on.

At 4:00 a.m., a semi-truck/trailer crashed and burst into flames on the busiest southwest/northeast interstate artery through Las Vegas. Burning diesel followed by the necessary inspection of the integrity of the burned asphalt promised hours of gridlock. It turned out to be 11 hours. What caught my attention was that three people were reporting on this breaking news, an on-the-scene reporter and two in the studio. On the third regurgitation, I realized they were alternately reporting 9,100 and 91,000 gallons of combustible to burn. I glanced at the TV. Yep, they were distressed. Their eyes were widening like panicked dogs as they took turns tossing out the number which, apparently, no one could nail down for certain. There's a slight difference between 9,100 and 91,000 gallons of burning fuel. I mean, I"m neither mathematician nor grand abstract thinker, but if the larger number was correct, wouldn't the burn be larger and/or longer by about ten times? Just sayin'. Was I going to be quizzed on the precise numbers? Certainly not. It was their transparent discomfort that got me hooting. Why not just say "a tractor-trailer with a full payload"? Thursday morning, it was reported that the freeway surface was damaged by the fire and had to be repaired before traffic could be allowed. They reported that "thousands of gallons of diesel fuel" burned. No number attached. It must have been hellish in that area during the conflagration. The heat is on.

My office is kept at a temperature appropriate to hanging freshly slaughtered meat. I have no illusions of growing visibly older in there. No, I'll just be preserved as I am today. The men strut around, "Man, it's pleasant in here," while my teeth chatter and my hands tremble. I took in the SOS (Shitty Office Sweater) and am using it ~ funny, while it's triple digits outdoors ~ contemplating the use of gloves for use while typing. Esteemed blogger CramCake crocheted a delightful little pair of demi-gloves I might be able to well use if I could replicate them. Thursday the A/C system went out on one side of the building. The men began to wilt. The telemarketers slowed to a stop, silence engulfing the normally noisy rooms. Someone said, "Les, you're pretty perky this afternoon." "Yes, Sir, first time I've been restored to normal human body temperature in a week." "Where's your SOS?" "Don't need it this afternoon." The heat is on.

For illustrative purposes only. This is not actually me modeling my SOS.

In my ears right now: Here's a heat wave worth hearing, even if it takes an extra step or two to get there. My woman, Joan Osborne.


  1. The differences in the number of gallons of fuel being burned reminds me of a test I took at work a long time ago.

    It was a test you had to take in order to drive equipment (hand trucks, tow motors, etc) One question was what was the heaviest load you could put on a shelf. We're talking about the kind of racking shelves you find in a warehouse. The answer I believe was 5000 pounds. I had studied the little booklet the night before and had focused on the number 5. Unfortunatley, I hadn't focused on the zeroes that follow that 5. I wrote 500,000 pounds. When the supervisor saw what I wrote, he said, "Kirk, that'll knock the racking clear down to China!". Fortunately, I got every other question on the test right, so I merely suffered a little embarrasement, that's all.

  2. @ Kirk ~ Oh, I hate it when they get touchy about a few zeroes one way or the other. It's the 5 that counts, right? ;~}

  3. you know, of all the things to comment on in this post (and they are legion), i just keep coming back to that damn dog. there's just something deeply demented there that i, god help me, like.
    that, and the sweater. i want that sweater tattooed on me. no, that's not right. i want that body tattooed on mine! HA!

    and while i'm at it, which it seems i am, i've worked in many an office that had the temperature of the arctic in winter. we had space heaters going in july. now, there are rooms in which i teach yoga that are so damn cold i'm afraid folks will hurt themselves. i wear a sweater. that's just ridiculous.

  4. @ Rraine ~ Ha! I am GLAD you like My Dog. It's undeniable. You and I are not dog people. And yet, his plastic enormity (soon I shall be photographed while sitting upon his back, to give an idea of his size), that mangled mouth . . he kind of grows on a woman of good heart, eh? I have a couple of T-shirts too large for me and rather sassy in sentiment, that I'm going to take in for him to wear. Hey, maybe he's cold, too! And I have a birthday looming, no plans yet - maybe I'll bring him home for the weekend, introduce him to Virginia Woolf, make him part of the family.

    Off to reply to your email. On my calendar right now: both a surgical procedure I dread AND a tattoo appointment I embrace. Want to attend either? I'm KIDDING.

  5. I so collect weird stuff too.
    I asked my handyman to not throw away all the little bits of copper tubing from the outdoor shower but one day he really cleaned up and all the leftover tubing old rusty outdoor knob and wire are all at the dump right now.
    uoooooooooo... where is the tattoo going ? if I may ask.

    cheers, parsnip

  6. Your post is a bowl of fruit to a world of cheese and crackers; or a rollercoaster through a neuron park - either way, delightfully stimulating and a perfect marriage of the quirky and droll.

  7. @ Parsnip ~ I do not care for people who help me "clean up". "Hey! That's not trash. That's my treasure." I save everything from empty wrappers (artwork) to interesting containers to scraps of wood, metal . . well, it COULD become art someday.

    The tattoo will be an addition to the existing collection and will be placed on my lower calf where a little undecorated skin still exists. It is my hope to get my body art photographed so I can share it on blog sometime. I do not have world class tattoos. I have tattoos that are so meaningful to me I want to carry them with me at all times.

  8. @ Rachel ~ I love you, Word Woman! What images you created in my melon head. Though I do not want a marriage of any kind, thank you very much, I am luxuriating in "quirky and droll". Hey, I don't need to be beautiful and rich. I want to be quirky and droll. And recognized as such. That is where I feel at home.

  9. Love the idealized SOS. Mine is actually a crappy blanket.

    And yes, the Goat is maddeningly youthful. Hey! Has he been hanging out in your refrig-O-office?

  10. @ Erin ~ A crappy blanket would be wonderful, as well, but I have a predicament. I'm surrounded by people who are either new and curious about me or who know me and care about me anyway. I nest right out in the open - fish, birds, treats to offer visitors, "pretty things" everywhere, despite Steve Kaufman Art and My Dog. If I show up with a blanket, somebody might just figure I was there to stay 24/7 forever. Also, a blanket might cover up a lot of my costuming efforts.

    That Goat, damn him. No, I don't believe he's been by. Surely I'd have known if the Goat was in the house. Surely he'd have stopped to introduce himself.