return to screencuisine

spinnwebe | zompist | brunching | lanceandeskimo

Temporary Insanity
Anatomy of an Update
Site Archives
First Blood
Field Guide:
The Executive Assistant
Office Playground
One Year... No Career
My Desk:
Poor Sports
Vision of the Future:
Space Fury
Time Wasting Calculator
Diversions Archive
Other Features:
Interview:  MST3K's Mary Jo Pehl
Kids Fun Page!
The Temp Test
Hall of Henchmen
Message Board

7-6-01 - Total Recall

So, once again, I'm returning to temp for a company I've worked for in the past.

There's a little comfort in the fact that at least I'm going to be in familiar surroundings... I mean, I kinda remember the phone system and the quirks of the copier.  I sorta remember where the good snacks are hidden and how to access the employees' personal e-mail.  I kind of remember who everyone is.

Of course, not only do I have to remember who they are, I need to remember who I was.

See, working a lot of short-term assignments is a great chance for a temp to constantly reinvent himself.  Why be the same person everywhere you go?  Why not try out some new personalities?

If you're going to work in a bank for a week, why not be the wise-cracking cad, who's always ready with a smart remark and a witty jab?  A month at a tech firm might be a good opportunity to be the warm, caring guy who always has a kind word and a sympathetic ear.  And those two weeks at the swimsuit manufacturer might be a good chance to test out that suave ladies-man character you've been thinking about giving a test drive.

It's fun, creative, and the only problem is that if you have to return to any of these places, you'll need to remember which persona to bring with you.

Take me, for instance.  I'm always reinventing myself, and for this particular repeat-assignment, I need to remember if I played:

a) the timid, clumsy dork,
b) the shy, klutzy geek,
c) the apprehensive, ungainly dope,
d) the bashful, maladroit spaz, or
e) the ladies-man (who is far too hesitant and bungling to actually talk to ladies)

Is it tough coming up with and keeping track of this vast array of personalities?  Sure.  But it's worth it.


message board                back to top                          archives

7-5-01 - Under Art

So.  When I saw this picture in my inbox, I thought "WOW!!  Some reader babe put my URL on her underwear!  I... am... a ROCKSTAR."

It was not the case, however, but it's still pretty cool.  A reader named Laura picked up on the fact that I like Christina Ricci, and set out to create some reader art that involved her image, and this is what she came up with.  Sure, you can't really tell from the picture that it's Christina Ricci, but I am assured it is, which is enough to send me into paroxysms of joy.  Thanks, Laura!

Also, this from Doctor X:

This is, I believe, a dingo, with the facebuilding lady's tongue added in there.  Chilling!  Thanks!

(Also, Doc, did you have a link I was supposed to post?  If so, e-mail it to me and I'll put it up tomorrow.  Can't find your original e-mail, sorry.  I suck.)

Want to see all the reader art that's been submitted?  Sure you do!

Check out the Art Page!

It's got everything submitted to date, along with the banners and buttons that I or other people have created for linking purposes.  I need to work on the page design a bit... well, first I need to come up with a page design, and then I need to work on it.  But for right now, at least everything is in one place.

I'm going to be returning to work tomorrow, so hopefully I have some temping skinny to talk about soon.  For now, hope you all had a good 4th!


message board                back to top                          archives

6-29-01 - Memos from Heaven

To:  God, Archangels, Development Staff

CC: R&D, Marketing

From:  Chief Inspector, Quality Assurance

Re:  Latest Beta of Human Body (male & female)


Love the newest additions, I think we're getting really close!  Adding that second leg was definitely a turning point.  And Phil, great job coming up with the posterior inferior cerebellar artery!  I owe you a lunch for "brainstorming" that problem!!! (ha ha)  Also, whoever came up with the foreskin (Brenda?  Chamuel?), kudos.  Now that we've got it in place, I can't imagine going without it!

Now, I know it's the Day Six and we're getting waaaaay close to production time (!!!!), but I was hoping these last minute changes could get incorporated into the final product.  See me after the break if anything needs clarification.


1) Shins need more padding

2) Elbow skin -- why so disgusting?  

3) I've noticed the possibility of hair growing on (and in) the ears of the male after 30 or so years... can we fix this glitch?

4)  Female model still getting that "under the bicep flapping" going on.  Ideas?

5) Remove appendix

6) For the last time, are we going with or without the navel for the two prototypes?

7) Hangnails seem far too painful, considering

8)  Free will: I thought I asked that this be removed (?).

9) Testicles:  Do we really need two?

10) I still think gills are a good idea... what if there's a flood?


message board                back to top                          archives

6-28-01 - Ask A Temp

So, I missed an update yesterday.  I've missed a few updates in the past few weeks, and the trend will probably continue as I start devoting a little more time and effort to getting myself published somewhere.

I sent my jogging essay, with a few changes, out to a couple magazines this week.  It was rejected by both publications, but the rejections were a) prompt, b) complimentary, and c) written in such a way that it was evident they had actually read the entire thing.  Which was, as far as being rejected goes, somewhat heartening.  One of them actually suggested I take a stab at rewriting it more in the vein of the types of articles they publish, and try to put a positive spin on it.  After I looked up the word "positive", I decided that positive spins aren't really my thing, but hey, I think I'll give it a shot.  

Anyway, I kinda feel more like a real writer!  I'm used to rejection, sure, but it's rarely so professionally presented.  Usually it's along the lines of "Get your hands off me, you disgusting creep, before I call the principal!" or "Yes, I see you have your own hat, but that doesn't mean you can be a fireman."

Anyway, I'll keep you up to date on the process.  Lucky you!


An e-mail I got the other day from a guy named Christopher:

Hello, I read your site daily. Recently I've become unemployed and as such, I am now thinking about becoming a temp. I've read the articles and think I have a fairly good idea of what I'm getting into. However, I was wondering, what is your advice on finding a good temp agency? What questions should I ask when I first go to see them. What should I look for to let me know whether the agency has an idea of what they are doing or have their heads up their asses? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Christopher, you did the right thing by coming to me.  Sure, it's a daunting task, picking an agency.  But there are a few key tidbits of information I can dish out for you.

Before I get to that, though, I notice that in the first sentence, you mention that you read my site daily, and in the second sentence, you state that you are thinking of becoming a temp.  Are you sure you're reading everything?  Carefully?

A good way to pick an agency is by opening the phone book, closing your eyes, and putting your finger down on the page.  If you see that your finger has landed on the ad for a company that makes personalized chalkboards, as I did when I performed this test just now, you may be in the wrong section, or your phone book or finger might be faulty.  Try again, spaz-finger!

Once you've picked an agency, what questions should you ask when you first go see them?  Well, none, because you should ask them questions over the phone before you go anywhere near their stinking sulfurous hell-pits.  Er, offices.

Some questions to ask:

1)  Do they place a lot of temps in your general area?

Hey, you don't want to commute, right?  Find out if they have a lot of clients in your neighborhood.  They will answer yes to this, and they will be lying.

2)  Do they provide health insurance?

I know most people like to play it safe by having medical bennies.  Pansies, all of you!  They will answer yes, and tell you that all you need to qualify is to work a certain number of hours over a certain period of time, which you will fall just short of when you are forced to take time off from being sick.

3)  Do they place a lot of temps permanently?

They'll answer yes to this too, and... hm.  Come to think of it, they'll answer yes to just about everything in order to get you to come in for an appointment, where they can make you take typing tests in a room full of staring strangers, while they laugh and laugh from behind the two-way mirror.

As far as determining whether an agency has, as Christopher put it, their heads up their asses, well, you can't really tell until they send you out with bad directions and the wrong contact name to a position you're not qualified for at company that isn't expecting you.

That's usually the first sign.


message board                back to top                          archives

6-26-01 - One Canyon, Grand

(Two new Diversions this week.  First, Map A Blast!  Plug in a location and check out the radius of damage from a thermonuclear blast!  Also, the Time Wasting Calculator!  Find out how much that smoke break or conversation with a co-worker is costing your company!  Links are somewhere on this page, possibly under where it says Diversions.)

So, yeah.  The Grand Canyon.

It's, uh... y'know.  Real big.  Immense.  Picturesque.  Ancient.

Somewhat embarrassing.

I mean, really, what is it?  It's this huge hole in our country, that's what.  If Arizona were your backyard, you'd be ashamed of the Grand Canyon.  People would come over, and you'd be showing them around, and they'd be all "Hey, what's that hole?" and you'd be all "Oh, we're, uh... putting in a pool" or "Well, you know, septic tank busted" or "Damn gophers."

Plus, the whole thing was caused by this little trickle of a river.  It's like North America just nipped 'round to the store one day and left the faucet running, and when it got back:  "Oh no!  Look what happened to the living room floor!"  Sure, it could happen to any continent, but it's still embarrassing.

Plus, what a weakness, just waiting to be exploited!  A little river can tear this huge gouge in the greatest country in the world?  Who knows how this could come back to bite us.  Right now, our enemies could be aiming a river at Washington!  Keep your eyes peeled for a Commie with a hose.

As far as inspiration, I was left a little empty.  Here it is, a natural wonder, created by millions of years of erosion, a canyon so huge it doesn't seem possible that it could even fit inside our country.  So, I sat down on the rim, prepared to take it all in, prepared to have deep, meaningful thoughts, and what happens?  I'm distracted.  

Distracted by scads of tourists wandering around, jabbering away in whatever foreign languages they "speak."  Shuttle-busses roaring up the roads, their drivers' voices blaring nasally over loudspeakers.  Helicopters and turboprops thumping through the air, carrying more (and no doubt jabbering) tourists.  Colorful birds soaring effortlessly through the air and perching in trees making all sorts of damn chirping sounds.  Cool winds gently whistling through the canyon and up over the rim.  How can anyone concentrate with all that racket?  I ask you.

So, here I am, sitting on the rim, waiting for inspiration:

And what am I thinking at this point?  What wondrous thought am I having?

I'm thinking:  "Hmm... a good name for a lesbian bar would be Tom & Harry's...  You know.  No Dick."

(photo credit:  my Dad)


message board                back to top                          archives

6-25-01 - Backpacks and Switchbacks

So, I spent last week hiking around Utah and Arizona with my family.  Not a bad idea, really, except for the fact that it was, like, JUNE.  In fact, I stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon on the first day of summer.  Then I fainted from heatstroke.

I met my family in Las Vegas, where it was about 105 degrees, then we drove to Utah, where it was perhaps slightly hotter, and then wound up in Arizona, where temperatures were in the low to mid 400's.

Still, it was fun.  The scenery was beyond belief as we first visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and then Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  I did lots of hiking and spent some quality time with my parents and sister, and I'll be writing about some of these experiences as they come out in therapy.

One experience I haven't blocked out was my hike into the Grand Canyon on Friday morning.  While my family decided to take a walk along the rim, I chose to descend into the canyon itself on the South Kaibab Trail, a three mile round-trip hike with a 1140-foot change in elevation.  It was described in the Grand Canyon Visitor's Guide as a "steep trail," with "no water," and "little shade."

Before starting my descent, a sign warned me of temperatures reaching "118 degrees in the shade," which didn't sound so bad. I mean, there was little shade anyway, so I figured I could avoid it.  Nice try, shade!

Another sign told me to use caution near the trail edges, one informed me I should step aside and be silent if I encountered a mule train, and a third instructed me to sit in my car during a lightning storm.  Sadly, I hadn't brought a car, although it would have been a good idea.  I always enjoy hiking a lot more when I'm doing it in a car.

At least I had water, two Gatorade bottles full of it, which turned out not to be enough, because another sign informed me that I needed to bring at least a gallon.  Another sign told me I was far to skinny and weak to ever make it back up the trail, and yet another told me I'd never get a date unless I did something about my wardrobe, I mean, just look at those shorts I was wearing.

These were some very negative signs.

Still, I set off, feeling vaguely adventurous and possibly manly, down the steep, gritty trail.  The first thing I noticed was the huge amount of mule poop.  It was incredible.  When these mules reach the bottom they must be the size of housecats, because they expel the majority of their mass during the descent, from the looks of things.  The mules also seemed to sense the most beautiful and scenic spots on the trail at which one might rest and reflect upon the glorious view, for that's where the highest concentration of poop was.  At least it kept me moving.

As I hiked a bit further down, I started passing people who were on their way up, people who looked, well, completely miserable.  I knew the proper protocol and gave them the right of way, but none thanked me.  They just shuffled on past, breathing heavily, soaked in sweat, their eyes glassy and unseeing.  I asked one kid, who was leading his unresponsive and exhausted-looking family, how far down they'd gone.

"Cedar Ridge", he told me.  That was how far I was planning to go as well.  The kid was about fourteen, and I'm twice that, as well as a pack-a-day smoker.  Still, I couldn't quit now, because I knew the signs would mock me.

Further down, a park ranger came up the trail towards me, but when I stepped aside to make way, he waved me off, gasping: "No... it's... okay... I've... gotta... catch my... breath..."

This worried me.  Here I was hiking down a trail that a park ranger couldn't even climb back up.  Plus, I'd be making the ascent two hours later when the sun was right overhead.  It was troubling.  I almost turned back there, but then I realized, hey, maybe he's not a real park ranger.  Maybe this was some crazed canyon hermit who had murdered the real ranger, then taken his uniform and buried the ranger's horribly mutilated body.  This cheered me up, and I continued.

Finally, I reached Cedar Ridge, and took a picture.

You can see O'Neill Butte there on the left, and you can also see that despite walking downhill for over an hour, I was nowhere near the canyon floor.  You can also see what I had to climb back up:

That didn't look like fun, so I wanted to press on, despite a sign that told me if I hadn't started my hike before 7am, I shouldn't even think of going any further.  I had started at about 10am.  The people who I had passed earlier, the ones looking like they were on a death march, had probably started around 7am.  Still, I wanted to keep going.  As I was trying to make up my mind, a crow landed on a rock behind me, and cawed ominously. 

Then it cawed forebodingly.  Then, warningly.  Then threateningly.  After that, it just got annoying, so I pressed on a bit further.

I went down about another quarter mile, and might have continued, but a mule train was heading up in my direction.  Not wanting to be buried in an avalanche of turds, I decided to turn around and begin the ascent, hoping I could stay ahead of them.

Anyway, I made it back up even faster than I had made it down.  Sure, it was hot, it was tough, and it was exhausting, but I did it.  And I think it's because I'm a smoker.  We have an advantage, I think, because we're used to being out of breath.

And we always have an extra-strong urge to get to the top.


message board                back to top                          archives


Please note:  any e-mail sent to  may be republished, reproduced, excerpted, 
and/or mocked on this site as the circumstances require.

All material 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston.  Yeah.  That'll hold up in court.