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Monday, September 1, 2014
...from Decatur to SC and back. I was invited to go to an author's talk that was part of the Decatur Book Festival, which happens once a year on Labor Day weekend. Lots of authors are invited to come and speak, talk about their craft, promote their work and literature in general. We went to hear Joyce Carol Oates being interviewed, by a professor from Emory who the author of her biography.  She read several passages from recent publications, and talked about her life, work, history.

Pretty interesting. I knew nothing about her - had not read anything she wrote. Which is surprising, as I have heard of her, knew of the name from all my years of being literate.  We googled and got a bio. from Wikipedia, but that was the extent of our knowledge. My feeling is her subject matter seems to be dark. I might request something from the library to determine if her writing will capture my interest, but from the little bit she read, and conversation with the biographer about her topics, I do not think I would enjoy. She has a large body of published work: screenplays, poetry, short stories, in addition to longer works of fiction, based on historical events.  I think I recall that she is still teaching writing or lit., maybe at Harvard?

I got up early on Saturday morning, and hit the road. After spending the night in Decatur, to give me a jump on driving over to SC to visit my pen pal, and cousin who lives near Greenville. It is so amazingly easy to get out on the normally chaotic interstate highway on a Saturday morning. Especially when you get going before anyone else is awake.

A nice visit with my pen pal. We just sit around and chat, talk about family doings, gardening, his activities with American Legion. Lunch. Then I went down to Simpsonville. I won't pay to drive on I-185, which is a the toll road.  I am sure, a shorter, more direct route. But we all have little quirks, ways we pinch and justify - me? I'm not paying tolls for the use of public thoroughfares and bridges. If taxpayer money paid to build it, it seems to me like double taxation to require additional fees by motorists in order to use it? Let's dress up like Indians, climb on board the ships anchored in the harbor, and dump the boxes of freight overboard!

Enjoyed a good visit with the cuzzin. And left there about 6, to head back to Decatur, hoping to get back into town before dark. Makes me sad that dark is starting to come earlier each evening. I used to be able to leave home after 8:30, walk a couple of miles and get home before it got too night to see. But now, it's already too dark by 8:30!  :-(


about HAL... part 2...

...that computer program designed to create the schedules for everyone at work. Arrggghhhh.

My nice, user-friendly, congenial department manager is still agreeable, allowing me to go to early church at 9:00 before I have to be at work at 11:00.  He has usually gone to church by the time I arrive. I was supposed to work from 11:00 till 7:30 Sunday afternoon. I have not done that in years, been on the job that late in the day: when I started, I knew to expect my schedule would be 10 a to 7 p, two days a week. But yesterday - since the HAL is scheduling me for so little time otherwise, I was determined to tough it out and be there for all the time I was allowed.

And the rest of the week is 'way crazy: going in at 6:00, leaving at 11:00, or 1:15. Some of which I secretly think hardly worth the effort, especially the part when I have to get up at 5:00 in order to be there ready to chop and dice at 6. But being at the weedy, over-grown, barely visible bottom of the  'totem pole' puts me in the position of feeling like I am not authorized to express an opinion. I am convinced if I am vocal about my annoyance of such rotten scheduling: the walls have ears, and my working hours will become so negligible as to be virtually invisible.

So I will make my best effort to keep my mouth shut, stay below the radar, and see how things progress. It's completely out of character for me: keeping my mouth shut. Hopefully I will be able to remind myself: be thankful for what you have. Bite your tongue and count your blessings. Be grateful you are employed and self-supporting. Give thanks that you can pay those bills when they come. Remember that the benefit of being marginally employed is all the free time you enjoy. Have Fun.

when I went to work...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

...on Sunday, I was prepared to leave the store and drive south. I had loaded up my accoutrements with the intention of driving to Quitman to spend the night. It's a three hour drive, and I got started about an hour later than expected, so was late getting there. And it was really dark out there in the south GA woods. I was so tired when I finally arrived, I don't think I even brushed my teeth before flopping into bed.

I got up on Monday morning and wanted to get some work done in the yard before it got too stinking hot to get any thing accomplished. Between mosquitos, gnats and heat, I knew my tolerance would be fairly low. But the weather was surprisingly moderate - a pleasant day to be out in the world, enjoying fresh air and sunshine. I took my sprayer and the heavy duty agricultural-grade 'mojo' chemical that kills weeds (and probably anything else it comes in contact with), and planned to work for several hours: beating back the overgrown undergrowth and picking up trash that continually falls out of pine trees. It was a productive day, even though nothing really looks any different.

The thing I will say is all those places in the yard where you don't see any tree trash, no limbs lying around, no pinecones scattered everywhere: that's what I did. Looks really nice, but of course, the nature of yard work is that you have to do it again and again and again... over and over and over. I pay a man to keep it mowed, who just does it when it needs doing. But nothing takes the place of someone who cares looking at what needs doing and keeping it up.

gone but not forgotten...

...is the title of the article I read recently in the magazine printed by the Nature Conservancy. I think someone sold my info. as I seem to be on lots of mailing lists for environmental organizations. They all send calendars this time of year, with little postage paid envelopes, hoping I will want to make a donation. Which, in turn, will invariably cause them to send more requests for my financial assistance.

The article I read in the August-September issue of the Conservancy magazine was about passenger pigeons. Just a little blurb to remind us it has been 100 years since the last pigeon, who was, I think named Martha, breathed her last breath. I read some where that they once were so plentiful and flocked in such massive numbers they would literally blot out the sun when they took off.

The article wanted to bring attention to the fact that the demise of the passenger pigeons was due entirely to humans: a prime example of man thinking there is no end to natural resources? There is a man named Andy Stern who has developed a project to raise awareness about this human-caused extinction. He wants to get us to make one million origami pigeons (see a template at foldtheflock.org). The Smithsonian Natural History museum and Chicago Academy of Sciences is involved in promoting educational aspects of  this project. I assume there is something on the site that directs us where we could/should mail our home-made pigeons.

about HAL...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
..the name of the computer that ran the operations of the space ship in the movie "2001: A Space Odessy". I have been thinking of Hal a lot recently, since a computer has begun to generate the schedules of all the associates at my work place. The actual designation for the system is Oasis. I am sure it is an acronym, but don't know what it really represents. I've decided to call it Hal, but have to explain the backstory to everyone who gives me a strange look.

I honestly don't recall much about the movie. I thought it was about twenty years old, but when I went to - you guessed it: google! - I found that it came out in 1968. Meaning I have apparently misplaced about twenty years... 

It was a big deal when it was first released and has been on late night TV over time. The thing I remembered best (and might possibly not be all that accurate in my remembering) was that at the end of the movie, the last thing you saw was the great void of space, tiny pinpricks of distant suns glowing in the screen. And  the astronauts drifting off into oblivion as a result of Hal taking over the mother ship and deciding that humans were no longer essential.

Does that give you an idea of what I am thinking about the Oasis scheduling system we are being shoe-horned into? Not only does it determine who works when, it tells you what time you are scheduled for taking a lunch break. From what I understand the computer has a wealth of information to base the needs on. Including years of sales records, weather records, customer count, day of the week, items in weekly ad., a mountain of trivia all compiled to determine how many cashiers are needed at any given time. How many baggers and stock-guys are needed and the hours they will be expected to be in greatest demand.

I am trying very hard to reserve judgment, but I will am currently leaning towards the possibility of  not being a happy camper. Which does not sit well at all with our corporate philosophy, so I will put on my game face and go ahead and cowboy up.

you have already heard....

of completely unlikely things you should be thankful for. Some of which are so taken for granted in our country, we do not even stop to consider what our lives would be like otherwise. What daily activities would be if we did not have all the promises found in the US Constitution.

There are people in the world who cannot get in the car (they don't have a car, to begin with), and travel at their convenience. They can't go places that involve crossing over state lines: the passage would be denied, or they would be suspect, have to explain to the authorities their reasons for travel, and have paperwork to prove their plans. Without the documentation (and often even if they do have the necessary stamps of approval), they could be detained, locked up or disappeared.

I know there are heartbreaking, horror stories of bad things happening to people who do not deserve misfortune, living here in America, daily.  And people who live here, in the US who are struggling with unemployment, housing problems, medical issues. But we do have a whole lotta things to be thankful for.

I just put a load of dirty clothes in the washer, added some detergent and turned it on. Can people in third world countries do that? How far to walk just to get potable water to prepare a meal or provide a drink for a thirsty child? How many of them have clothing to spare, that they can let it pile up and sit around in a basket for several days? How many of them have to walk great distances to get to the water source they use for cleaning garments and the same water for bathing, as well as food preparation? Every time you turn the handle at the sink or shower, or flush: wow! potable water comes out, and goes down the drain - what a blessing. As well as a monumental waste when you think of how desperately other people are in need.

End of Sermon.

the chemical composition...

of dust bunnies, when googled, was disappointing. I was serious, and the answer was not. It seems they are a product of static electricity and felting.  I was surprised the info., when googled, was not more scientific sounding, with lots of chemical symbols scattered about.  With various symbols from the atomic chart inserted here and there, to look very informative and obscure.

I know there are human skin cells involved, as that is what I sweep up in the bathroom, especially in cold weather when skin is dry and sheds due to friction.  And a lot of pet hair and dander if one should deliberately have small canines/felines in residence. I have not had or wanted animals in the house, but since January, and the cat moving inside, I seem to clean the floor much more often. It's a wonder she is not completely bald, as much black fur as I continually pick up, sweep, and vacuum. 

I woke up this morning about 5:30, probably as a result of having gone to bed too early. But I read quite a bit, before finally being able to get my eyes to stay shut. Then when I awoke, I decided to be productive. So got up and swept: kitchen, hallway, bathroom, living-dining area, laundry room. Then I decided while it was trash, cat hair, dust bunny free, I might as well mop."'Yes, the floor is clean enough to eat off of."

And while I was on a roll, swept off the screened in porch. That only gets partially swept when the lint from the dryer gets embarrassingly piled up. Actually moving furniture to sweep all the stuff that has not be moved, cleaned around in a couple of years. Did I say 'I hate cleaning'? That's probably all I will get done for several months. Oh... and I cleaned bathrooms before I dashed off to work Tues morning.