Smitty’s Loose Change #15

There are many people in this country today who, through no fault of their own, are sane.  Most of them are Atheists.

***

And God created the universe it expanded exponentially. Then god divided this sky from the sea that then created life and he told it to multiply. After this he added man and subtracted his only son.

Standing back he looked on in confusion and wondered why this equation didn’t work… At this point a mathematics teacher came over and said, “You forgot the brackets ( ).”  And that was the last time God worked with BEDMAS.

***

I recently got within touching distance of two original Volkswagen Beetles, within hours of each other.  I found the first at a French fry wagon.   (Don’t tell the wife! She thinks I’m still on my diet.) It was greenish-yellow, in decent shape, with a little rust, mostly in the rain-gutters above the doors.  The owner said that it was a ’75 model, and it had custom license plates that read KAFER VW.  That’s a deficiency of the License Bureau.  Kafer, translated from German, means ‘coffee(maker).’  What it should have read, was KӒFER VW.  The addition of the umlaut over the A, changes the meaning to ‘beetle.’

The next one I saw was Fire-Engine Red, and in pristine shape.  I saw no rust.  Even Beetles had year-to-year (tiny) model changes.  Slightly smaller and different-shaped tail-lights told me that it was pre-’73.  It had Historic license plates, and its owner said that it was a ’68 version.

FUN WITH NAMES

The service tech at my Kia dealership is named Faucher.  It’s a French verb that means to mow (grass) the lawn.  His Father worked for, then purchased and ran, a landscaping company, all his working life.

A farm boy that the school bus picked up on one side of my town, was/is named Coulter.  I recently discovered that a ‘coulter’ is a plowshare, a cutting wheel or bar, in front of an actual plow.

A farm girl that the school bus picked up on the other side of town, was/is named Collard.  Back then, I did not know of the cultivation and, mostly Southern culinary, use of collard greens.

***

To err is human, but to really fuck up, you need a computer – with a bureaucrat running it.  Locally, we have been blackmailed into recycling green waste.  Garbage pickup has dropped to every two weeks, but blue-bin and green-bin waste is collected every week.

The region has issued every dwelling two green bins – a small one to put kitchen scraps in, and a larger ‘garage’ one to repeatedly dump the smaller one into.  Compostable-plastic-lined paper bags to hold wet waste are available at all local stores.

The larger bin is 12” X 13 ½”.  The Region-approved bags are 8 ½” X 12 ½”.  No wonder it must be dragged to the curb each week – the bag isn’t big enough to fill!  The smaller one, which I use for cat-shit – (it’s compostable) – is 6” X 7”.  The bureaucrat-authorized bags for it are 3 ¾” X 7 ½“– so long that they partly collapse when inserted, causing loss of volume, and barely half wide enough, causing more lost space.  I sense two different departments, each too self-important to communicate with the other, (You change!  No, You change!) involved in this, and Dilbert in the middle, shaking his head.

***

We’ve all seen the movies, or TV shows…. The CSI forensic technician enters the crime scene.  He/she plucks one dust mote from the air, and a couple of tension-filled moments later, gives the age, sex, name, address, phone number, and shoe color of the culprit.  What then to think of this newspaper story??!

A body was pulled from a lake.  She (at least they got the sex) was 28 to 50 years of age.  28??!  Why not 25?  Or 30??  How in Hell did anyone come up with 28?  Was someone converting from metric??  She was between 4’ 5”, and 5’ 1”.  😯  😳  Put her on an autopsy slab and measure her!!

They didn’t give her weight, but did publish a nice photo of a bead bracelet she was wearing…. Oh, and she might have been Asian, based on the keen observation of her yellow complexion, and lycanthropic epicanthic fold at the eyes.

Remind me, if I die of suspicious causes, I should do it in the big city, not in West Hickstowne, where an exciting day for police is one that has a moose fall into someone’s pool.

***

N.B.

In the above VW story, I downloaded a capital A with an umlaut over it, and put it in my post.  For some reason, WordPress separated the A and the two dots, into two adjacent spaces, and I don’t know how to get them back together.  Just try to visualize it correctly.   😳

ROM

A blog-friend has asked me to read a book.
Okay.  I’ve got lots of experience; in fact, I’m reading three of them, right now.

Read Our Manuscript

She wants me to read Her book, Kevin: Murder Beneath The Pines.  Our fellow-blogger, the lovely KayJai, has published her third book, and wants me to read and review it.  I am honored and willing, if somewhat under-qualified.

This will be the sixth such book that I have read.  The first was for an author in Washington.  I did a terrible job, because I thought I knew what I was doing – but didn’t.  I have read four for BrainRants, who made it a lot easier, and more logical.  You can’t put colored pencil marks on a digital copy, so he sent all of his in a Word file with numbered lines.

Don’t ever attempt to do your own proof-reading.  Get someone else – preferably three other people.  When you read your own work, you will see what your mind expects to see, and errors that might irk readers can sneak through.

This book is not yet Great Literature.  She is still on a learning curve.  For what it is, the third attempt by a busy lady, it is a delightful little murder mystery, suitable to be discussed at a book club meeting, or a knitting circle.  It begins with a Dilbert-like glimpse at office politics, but soon devolves into a look at darkness, not only in the deep, piney woods, but in the hearts and souls of men.  Small-town characters have to learn to deal with big-city-type crime, and its after-effects on the survivors.

If you are writing, or thinking of writing a book, and need/want a Beta-reader, I am usually available.  My forte is the words, and usage, and construction, and punctuation.  I am not so insightful or helpful with plot, story arc or character development, although I often have some opinions.

Well, enough about me.  Now it’s your turn – to provide emotional support by returning soon to read my next post.

Flash Fiction #211

Round and Round

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

ROUND AND ROUND

There ought to be a picture of Heller’s book, Catch 22, on the office wall as an (un)motivational poster. Herding cats was looking easy.

HR had volun-told him to organize the company Christmas party. It seemed easy, until…. The Alcoholics Anonymous group wanted a pay-bar, and free, non-alcoholic drinks, so that they didn’t stand out. The vegans wanted a menu with yams, not hams, and a table as far from “The Flaming Pit of Death” barbecue as possible. The Indigenous employees wanted a drumming circle….and on, and on, AND ON!

Dilbert wasn’t just a comic-strip character. He was a visionary.

Dilbert

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

Flash Fiction #170

Zor and Zam

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

ZOR AND ZAM

A business meeting – the bane of office life, always scheduled for the least inopportune time of a roomful of busy people.

You could be on the phone or computer, actually achieving something, but had to massage egos to justify your budget.  Basically it was a ‘Mine’s bigger than yours’ contest.  There was always one guy who had to show how important he was, by missing it.  Some came late – “Did I miss anything?”  Some had to leave early – pity the poor executive secretary who had to co-ordinate all this.

What if the boss gave an office meeting…. and nobody came?

***

Click here to listen to The Monkees sing about two petty kings who tried to have a war, but nobody came.

***

If you’ve read Rochelle’s offering, (And if you haven’t already, you WILL, Right!) click here to listen to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tell the story of Bo Jangles.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

What A Buzz

Business Dictionary

These are the latest buzzwords to add to your
corporate vocabulary.

Blamestorming – Sitting around in a group
discussing why a deadline was missed or a
project failed and who was responsible.

Seagull Manager – A manager who flies in,
makes a lot of noise, shits over everything
and then leaves.

Blowing your buffer – Losing your train of
thought.

Salmon day – The experience of spending an
entire day swimming upstream only to get
screwed and die in the end.

Chainsaw consultant – An outside expert
brought in to reduce the employee headcount,
leaving the brass with clean hands.

CLM – Career-limiting move – Used among
microserfs to describe ill-advised activity.
Trashing your boss while he or she is within
earshot is a serious CLM.

Depotphobia – Fear associated with entering a Home
Depot because of how much money one might spend.

Adminisphere – The rarefied organizational layers
beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are
often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to
the problems they were designed to solve.

Dilberted – To be exploited and oppressed by your
boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the
geek-in-hell comic strip character.
“I’ve been dilberted again. The old man revised
the specs for the fourth time this week.”

Flight Risk – Used to describe employees who are
suspected of planning to leave the company or
department soon.

404 – Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide
Web error message “404 Not Found”, meaning that
the requested document could not be located.
“Don’t bother asking him…he’s 404, man.”

Generica – Features of the American landscape that
are exactly the same no matter where one is, such
as fast food joints, strip malls, sub-divisions.
Used as in “We were so lost in generica that I
forgot what city we were in.”

Keyboard Plaque – The disgusting buildup of dirt
and crud found on computer keyboards.

Ohnosecond – That minuscule fraction of time in
which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG
mistake.

Percussive Maintenance – The fine art of whacking
the crap out of an electronic device to get it to
work again.

Prairie Dogging – When someone yells or drops
something loudly in a “cube farm” (an office full
of cubicles) and everyone’s heads pop up over the
walls to see what’s going on.

Telephone Number Salary – A salary (or project
budget) that has seven digits.

Umfriend – A sexual relation of dubious standing
or a concealed intimate relationship, as in “This
is Dale, my…um…friend.”

Yuppie Food Stamps – the ubiquitous $20 bills
spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when
trying to split the bill after a meal:
“We all owe $8 each, but all anybody’s got
is yuppie food stamps.”

 

 

Book Review #8

I recently picked up a library book for the son.  When I saw it, I asked the librarian to check that it had not, in fact, been reserved by someone else.  It just wasn’t his style.  It was about words, and language, and communication.  It looked like something I would read.  In fact, I had 25 pages read by the time he received it.

word exchange

The Author – Alena Graedon

The Book – The Word Exchange

The Review

The story is set in the perhaps too-near future, when the printed word is down to its last gasp. Smartphones, PDAs and tablets have all morphed together, into an emotion-reading, electronic device called a Meme.  They can call you a cab as you ride down in the elevator, or order you a lunch at the first tummy rumble.

Unfortunately, dependence on them has caused loss of focus and memory, especially of language.  It was amusingly sadly ironic that, the day I began reading the book, the Scott Adams’, Dilbert© cartoon shown below was printed.

Dilbert

The book-jacket is printed with lines and rows of seemingly random letters, like the data streams in the Matrix movies.  Close examination though, shows the occasional word, like local, bash, or asking.  Starting near the end of the top line, several lines, with no spacing, of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky are printed. “Brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe all mimsy were the boroves and the momeraths outgrabe.”

The story revolves around a daughter trying to find her boss/father, the editor of the last Dictionary to be printed in North America.  This author writes as I might – if I had an iota of inspiration and creativity.  The plot is none too deep, or believable, but she sprinkles bright and shiny words everywhere, like bits of crystal.

Within the first chapter, she has used proclivity, risible, perspicacity, sinuous, evanescing and nimbus.  One dark word among the others was verbicide – the destruction of language.  When people begin experiencing aphasia – loss of words – some passages resemble the Jabberwocky, above.   Later, she forms the neologism, Creatorium, for a place where new words and usages are produced.  She breaks the book into 26 A to Z chapters.

A for Alice, to whom Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty says, “A word means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less.”

B for Bartleby, a scrivener, or public secretary.

C for Communication.

D, I would have thought would be for “Dictionary”, but she made it Diachronic, a term referring to etymology, what words used to mean, why they mean what they do now, and what they are changing into, for the future.

The book comes in three segments, titled Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis.  It resembles a “found footage” movie like The Blair Witch Project.  It is footnoted, almost like a technical article.  The bottoms of pages are littered with thoughts, feelings, and explanations to the reader, almost like Shakespearean stage asides.

The heroine’s name is Ana, except it isn’t.  It’s really Anana, which is a palindrome, reading the same backward and forward.  Her father told her that the word means gentle, kind or mild in Swahili, face, in Sanskrit, lovely, in Inuit, and harmonize, in Gweno.  If you add an S to it, to make more than one of her, she becomes ananas, her father’s favorite French fruit, pineapple.

Menace is provided by The Word Exchange, the titular corporation which is buying out and eating up all print and on-line dictionaries.  Their Memes cause people to lose more and more of their language skills, but offer to “remind” you, for two cents a word; cheap now, but what will they charge when they have a monopoly?

A situation was described in the book.  I had heard of it, but halfway through the book, I got to experience it.  Coming soon, to a telephone near you, the heuristic call.  What sounds like a real, live person, is actually a computer, with a voice synthesizer, preprogrammed responses to almost limitless conversational branches, and the ability to understand key words and voice intonation.

A TV anchor’s voice, full of false bonhomie, says, “Hi!  My name is Bob.  How are you today?”  Being polite Canadians, we reply, “Fine thank you.”  Bob says, “That’s great!  I’d like to sell you a cell phone plan.”  Or maybe you say, morosely, “I’m terrible!  My Grandmother just died.”  Bob says, “Oh, that’s too bad.  I’m really sorry, but you’ll want to notify family and friends.  I’d like to sell you a new cell phone plan.”  No matter where the conversation goes, it always ends at the cell phone package….unless?

The guy in the book says, if you recognize the call, you can have fun with it.  “How are you?”  “Left-handed.”  And listen for the half-second as the computer resets itself.  “Can I sell you a cell phone package?”  “Carsick yaks, blueberries, nude skydiving, virtual monkey wrenches!”  If you supply enough non-sequitur comments, you can fugue the computer, hanging it up until a tech clears and restarts it.  Hell, I think I’ll start trying that with real live people.

Like the Synchronic Corporation’s motto in the book says, The Future is Now.  It’s time for us to put down all our electronic crutches, throw open the window and yell, “I’m mad as Hell, and….what was the rest of that?  Ah, don’t bother.  I’ll look it up.  Won’t cost much.    😕