Dog Ear
Clerks (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 05 April 2018 18:54

nteresting use of historical reading today.

Found myself on the Sunrail plaform, reading the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Historical Group’s magazine, specifically an article about a couple who clerked in the early fifties. They were involved with working the orders by customers coming in, securing them seats on trains a month (and possibly, in larger groups) a year out.

Image that – doing all that work across a railroad with something like a hundred passenger trains each day, getting people into seats and to their destinations. And no Excel, or internet, or anything beyond a typewriter. They were even limited in their phone use and tickets to customers in the LA area were carried over by messengers riding the trolleys. There was even a photo of this huge circular filing cabinet, reaching up to the ceiling, that the clerks on the table around it would spin, inserting their cards into the slots for the specific trains/cars.

At first, of course, I was taken by the inefficiency of the thing. But my mind mulled over it. See, I work for a modern American corporation, one with internet at each desk, and with emails and skypes flying about.

But as I read it, I realized that these clerks were working their jobs. Possibly 90% of their time went into getting things done, passengers booked. And me? With all these tools, I’ve got a million distractions. There are long-winded meetings, crazy drop-everything requests, people coming by, people wanting information, people just looking to host a meeting to inflate their withered egos. And that takes up my time. A lot of it. I suspect that my effectiveness (i.e. how much profit-pushing work I do) is probably 20%.

And so I had my Jerry Maguire moment. I wrote the director, included the picture of the working clerks and the massive lazy-Susan hopper, and told him that what pisses everyone off in the department is not the work that we do, no, but the work we don’t do. That with all the status-sucking meetings, people go home and wonder what it was they actually did this day. I know I do.

Haven’t heard back from him on this. I don’t think he’ll just can me because I was presumptuous. We’re friends and I just flew a tough audit for him clean and mean. And even if he does walk in and (like in Jerry Maguire) fire me over pointing out that the emperor has no clothing, fine, I can deal with that too.

But it’s what happens when you read, and reflect, and react. It’s critical thinking and solid appraisal. It’s what true reading grants us.

I’ll report the results in a later piece.


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2018 18:57
Flatline (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 29 March 2018 17:36

o I’m a corporate schmoe.

I do process. I run scrums. I do planning. I do data-raids. I go to a lot, lot, lot of meetings. And I get a lot of interruptions.

The interruptions are the worst. Millennials don’t mind them as much (since their brains have grafted around their phones). To me, I’m thinking long-term. I’m organizing my thoughts and considering a problem from several angles and thinking of the best way to something and there’s the critical email, the phone call, the IM. And I can feel the blue smoke off my mental brake shoes, the howl, the shuddering stop. Dammit.

The good thing about my brain is that, while it is inflexible, it is also expansive. I’ve spent a long time in it. I’ve trained it to jump and do tricks. It’s fast and creative and imaginative. I don’t listen to the radio much in my car – I listen to my thoughts and plans and game-designs and writing-efforts and even, damn, farm reports. There is always something going on in my brain.

So yes, even when I’m sludging around through my day, burned out from four hours of meetings and it’s only just gone two, when I’m sitting here wondering what I can write about for DOG EAR in my much-delayed lunch break, there is always my brain. In this case, I stopped by my admins office to tell her that I might not be able to make a meeting with the big cheese because I had a birthday/going-away party with a good friend who is sadly leaving the team. I don’t want to rush back – I’m old fashion and want the lunch to live its natural life. So I was telling her I might not be back in time (suppressing my yawn) and she made a joke that I’d probably be drunk. And that kickstarted me – like the ancient computer in a movie that shudders into existence with a whirl of coolers and a crackle of Jacob’s ladders. Suddenly I was weaving a story about laying face-forward in a grimy alley, my face kissing the concrete and my butt in the air, my breath smelling like mad dog and my wallet gone. Yeah, we had a laugh and I walked back to my desk, my brain running with its usual spin and sparkle.

I guess kids do that with phones, right?


Own The Road (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 21 March 2018 22:26

To the person ticked off at bicyclists who “own the road”, they do. Look it up. And yes, it ticks me off that moron motorists don’t know the rules of the road they bought tags for (like turn signals and the three-foot rule).

One of the reasons I love being a writer and learning how to hone my skill is because it allows me to effectively compose, arrange and present my thoughts (such as the above, accepted by the Orlando Sentinel in their Ticked Off column for March 21stof this year). It was a rebuttal to some motorist who thought bikes should know the rules of the road and (one assumes) suicide into ditches when he, the Prince of Pontiacs, roars into view (rather than delay him). Of course he mentioned tags, as if tags grant full access to roads and cyclists and pedestrians are, one assumes, trespassers in his realm of asphalt.

So let’s break down my fun here – in the order of appearance:

Who “own the road” Quotes are a wonderful way of pointing directly at words, cutting away the chafe of their masking dialog and exposing the nut of the argument. Here, he is pissed that bicyclists dare to think they have equal rights on the highway. By quoting his words, I magnify his silliness.

They do – Write tight. Always. Here, I’m countering his argument with a bold assertation. Bicycles do own the road, just like cars.

Look it up – With a flippant air, I tell him to go back and research, implying that he doesn’t have all the facts. And he didn’t. He’s arguing vehicular divine right in a roadway democracy.

And yes, it ticks me off– Okay, my turn now. Launch into the offensive.

Moron motorists­– That was a low blow. I shouldn’t have called him a moron (instead, I should have just implied it all over the place). I think his air of righteous indignation got to me and the insult slipped out.

Don’t know the rules of the road they bought tags for - We hook this around and use his sense of sole ownership back into the spotlight. Really? Only people who buy tags may use the roads? That he has resentment for commuters not sporting some indication of taxation for… what? The damage my bike does to “his” roads, as opposed to his two ton FUV?

Like turn signals and the three-foot ruleYes, what’s more dangerous, an unregistered bike zooming about or cars killing 30,000 people a year? I can’t tell you how many times cars have made unannounced course changes and cut far too close to me. To this point, I point out that while he’s mad because we simply exist, I’ve giving specific, concrete examples of the actions by the people of his tribe.

Writing tight is a very important skill in any endeavor of letters. Love notes, business proposals, suicide notes, anything you might possibly write to convey information to someone. Over-explanation kills your message and drives off the attention of your reader. Compose, arrange and present. Always.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2018 22:29
Mind Blowing (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 15 March 2018 19:35

’ve mentioned around the blogtorium that the book that really set my young mind off the rails and made me into the person I am today was HG Well’s War of the Worlds, reviewed and praised HERE. In a nutshell, it showed me that true literature can always tell new stories, that happy endings should not be assumed and conventions are meant to be dashed.

So this woman I work with, her ten year old son just won an “Odyssey of the Mind” contest at his school and will be advancing to state. And he was so committed to doing this that he did is while recovering from the flu. He was committed and he excelled – you gotta like that in a kid.

Now, I’m always hawking China Miéville – I just love his work. And I just finished (again) RailSea, reviewed and praised HERE. Loved it. And since this is a Miéville YA book (as opposed to everything else he writes, where to those suburban readers I say, “You can’t handle the type”). But yes, so I read RailSea with the same sense of wonder that I did WOTW. And then it came to me that this would make a really bitching gift.

Now, really, will he read it? Now? Probably not. Later? Maybe. It is a weird book and it starts strange as you can see below...


This is the story of a bloodstained boy.

There he stands, swaying as uteterly as any windblown sapling. He is quite, quite red. If only that were paint! Around each of his feet the red puddles; his clothes, whatever colour they were once, are now a thickening scarlet; his hair is stiff & drenched.

Only his eyes stand out. The white of each alomst glows against the gore, lightbulbs in a dark room. He stares with great fervour at nothing.

The situation is not as macabre as it sounds. The boy isn’t the only bloody person there: he’s surrounded by others as red & sodden as he. & they are cheerfully singing.

The boy is lost. Nothing has been solved. He thought it might be. He had hoped that this moment might bring clarity. Yet his head is still full of nothing, or he knows not what.

I’m asking a lot of our boy (I’m talking about young Krishang the student, not Shamus Yes ap Soorap the character) to take this on. As I said, most adults won’t (of course, I just saw that in my donated book table in the corporate break room, someone snatched up The Scar). So I’m hoping to rock his young world, to put into his mental-visual the idea of a dusty used-up world covered with rails and trains that hunt moles, ship cargo and even piracize. And who knows. Maybe it will take him out of Harry Potter and get him to explore other world, other authors. Or just books. Damn, I’d settle for just books.


Last Updated on Thursday, 15 March 2018 19:58

Page 8 of 83