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8-23-01 - Ugh

Sorry.  I'm running a fever, so I think I'm taking the day off from the site.

Not from work, however.  As soon as I realized I was sick, the phone started ringing off the hook with temp jobs.  Doesn't that just figure?

It's like if you're driving and trying to put on a tie, you'll won't hit that red light you need to get the last loop done.  Or when you wait for the bus for a half-hour, and then light a cigarette, and then the bus shows up.  Or when you're trying to bludgeon a pushy, cold-calling sales rep from Staples with his own briefcase, a cop will walk by.  It's just typical.

Speaking of bludgeoning, it really feels like there's a crew of tiny construction workers inside my head, chipping away at my skull with tiny hammers.  Nasty.  So, I'm going to bed.

Although, the mention of tiny hammers actually reminds me of this one time when my back went out.  I was standing in the bathroom, getting ready for work, and I bent over approximately 1/500th of an inch to get my toothbrush, and *WHUNK* it suddenly felt like an angry dwarf had swung a pick-axe into my lower back.

I stood there in the bathroom for about an hour, maybe two, in intense pain, afraid to move.  Finally, I decided that maybe I needed to see a chiropractor.  I'd never been to one before, but something was seriously wrong with my back.  I managed to make an appointment for that afternoon, and once I had slowly shuffled my way there, the chiropractor had me lie face down on a table.

"Now, this may hurt a little," the chiropractor said, just before she jammed her knee into my spine and yanked up on my shoulders.

When I regained consciousness, she fiddled around with me some more, cracking my neck, and doing weird things with my legs.  Finally, she announced that the reason my back had gone out was because one of my legs was longer than the other.  Or one was shorter than the other.  Can't remember which it was.

I found this interesting.  You know, that after walking around on different-sized legs for almost 30 years, it would suddenly cause my back would go out.  She folded my legs up and leaned all her weight on them for a while, as I lay there, slightly embarrassed.  It's odd having a complete stranger lie on you in a tiny room, especially when your knees are pressed up against your chest.  Maybe some of you know what I mean.

When she was done lying on me, she asked me to get up and walk around, to see if I noticed a difference.  I did notice a difference, as a matter of fact.  Now my legs hurt almost as much as my back did.  Thanks!

As I was getting ready to leave the office and file assault charges, she told me that the thing to remember was that even if the pain went away, it didn't mean the problem was solved.  I took this to mean "You will keep paying me to bend you and lie on you and crack your neck and generally be mean to you, even when you are better.  You will need to keep paying me forever, because sooner or later someone is going to find out that all us chiropractors have no idea what we're doing and make us stop, so we need to save up all the money we can."

Basically, she informed me, I'd need to return three times a week for the next two months, then twice a week for the next six months, then once a week for the remainder of my life.  If I ever had children, they'd have to come twice a week so she could lie on them too.  Each appointment would cost me about $65.

I wound up going back twice more, just because I couldn't say no, and also because, hey, a chick would lie on me.  There are worse things to spend money on.  Finally, I called and told her I couldn't come back because I was moving out of the state.  That's how wimpy I was.  I had to lie to my chiropractor to get out of it.

Eventually, my back got better on its own, despite the fact that there wasn't someone in a lab coat driving their knee into it three times a week.  A modern miracle!

Well, anyway, I'm sick and I'm going to bed.  Sorry again there's no update today.


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8-22-01 - A League of My Own

Had a weird little moment today.

I was taking a walk this afternoon, and I passed by a baseball field where a Little League team was practicing.  Kids, probably eight or ten years old, were shagging fly balls, fielding grounders, and turning double plays against imaginary runners.  I sat down on the end of the bleachers and watched for a bit, and at one point, a ball rolled over in my direction.

I picked it up, one of the coaches saw me, raised his glove, and I threw him the ball.

Right then, I had this little flash in my head.  I knew, I just knew the coach was going to catch the ball, look at it in his glove, then slowly raise his eyes to look at me.

"You got a good arm, kid," he'd say.  "Show me that again."

I'd pick up another ball, and fire it to him.  By now, the whole team would have stopped practicing to watch me.

"Yeah," the coach, a burned-out, middle-aged guy whose marriage was on the rocks, would say.  "A real good arm.  We could use a guy like you."

And I'd join the Little League team.  I'd be their star pitcher, the kid (well, 29 year-old) with the amazing arm but no control.  But the coach could spot hidden talent, and even though he sometimes wondered why he bothered with this team, he knew deep down he could make us winners.

See, the rest of the team would have problems, too.  Wacky ones!  The centerfielder, a round kid nicknamed "Chubs", would stand in the outfield with a glove in one hand and sandwich in the other!  Can you believe it?  The second baseman, Danny, was afraid of ground balls!  There would be a kid with a great swing, Darryl, but (get this) he would always close his eyes during the pitch, so he wasn't hitting anything.  The brains of the team, nicknamed "Einstein", was skinny and wimpy and wore thick glasses, and he was always on about the physics of baseball, calculating trajectories and angles and insisting he could teach everyone to hit better through science (but we never listened to his advice, natch).  The twins, Craig and Greg, were indistinguishable, and the coach was always getting them mixed up!  That was about all they did.  And there was the stuck-up rich boy, who had an immaculate, specially tailored uniform.  He refused to ever slide into a base, for fear of getting dirty, and often could be seen talking into a cell phone!  And there would be one tiny kid, perhaps named "Pip", who was meek and timid and scared of his own shadow.

Of course, there was a girl on the team as well, but everyone was skeptical about her, since she was a girl.

Oh, such a rag-tag team of misfits!  The coach had his work cut out for him!

And everything was building up for the big game, the last game of the season against the best team in the league, comprised of much bigger ten year-olds.  Big mean ones who mocked us at every opportunity.  We hated them.

As a team, we'd get better.  During a montage set to popular music, we'd see Chubs comically trying to get in shape, doing awkward calisthenics and standing in the outfield, a stick of celery in place of his sandwich, doubtfully nibbling it and making faces.  Danny would be cured of his fear of grounders, probably by being tied to something and having tennis balls hit at him until he overcame his fear.  Daryl would learn how to keep his eyes open at the plate, perhaps by having his eyelids held open with tape (or perhaps something less brutal).  Everyone would finally listen to Einstein, and he'd lecture us in front of a chalkboard covered with formulas and problems and diagrams, and wouldn't you know it, everyone's hitting would improve!  Einstein would nod in satisfaction and pat his calculator.  The twins would be given big name tags, so the coach could tell them apart.  That's about all that would happen with them.  The stuck-up rich kid would have his cell phone stomped on by someone, but he'd pull out a back-up cell phone, and we'd all throw our hands up in exasperation.  The girl on the team would make some dynamite plays, while the boys watched in awe and gradually began to accept her (possibly someone would get a crush on her, though not me, because that would be disgusting).  Little Pip, sadly, would not improve his game or become more assertive, despite our best efforts.  And the coach would start to patch up his marriage.

Still, the big game would not go well, as everyone fell back into their old, bad habits.  The coach would have had a big fight with his wife the night before, and he'd snap angrily at us.  We'd get pounded, at least until the ninth inning, when the coach would spot his wife in the stands, because she had forgiven him and had come to watch the game.  Coach would then give us a big, touching speech, and then we'd go out and kick some butt.  Chubs would run out a deep fly ball, the rich kid would slide to score an important run, Einstein would calculate the odds of the next pitch being a changeup, and hit for a double, and Pip would come in to score, barreling (in slow-motion) into the opposing catcher, a kid twice his size, who was blocking the plate and who would drop the ball.

And I would somehow find a way to strike out their best batter, leading our team to victory.  The fat kid would do a funny dance.  The girl on the team might kiss one of the boys on the cheek, the one who had a crush on her, and he'd fall over in a faint.  The coach would hug his wife and spin her around.  The twins would high-five each other.  That's about all they would do.  And we'd try to carry the coach on our shoulders, falling in a big comical pile, which would freeze-frame.

Well.  None of that happened.  When I threw the ball to the coach, the throw was short and wide, and he had to kind of run to the side and catch it on the third bounce.

It's just as well.  The sequel would have sucked anyway.


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8-21-01 - Waste Makes Waste

My agency calls me up for an assignment at a recycling plant, listing the job responsibilities and needed qualifications thusly:

"Must be familiar with a ten line phone system, must greet visitors, arrange meetings, schedule conference rooms, order office supplies, be proficient with both Mac and PC, experience with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, tables, graphs, spreadsheets, charts, databases, support large department with 8-10 people, copying, faxing, distributing, travel arrangements, 60 WPM typing speed, multitasking, and must be able to deal with dynamic and high-pressure environment."

So, naturally, they have me spend the entire day folding flyers.

Maybe I'm just being cynical, but there's something a little ironic about folding up hundreds and hundreds of flyers at a recycling plant.  Seems a bit, uh, wasteful.  I mean, the flyers are several pages long.  They contain information on composting, which I guess is useful for the one freak out there who wants a box of stinking, rotting refuse sitting in his backyard.  The others, I'm guessing, will be thrown away without being read, hence my mental double-take.

I get the same feeling in the afternoon, when I watch several project leaders return from lunch carrying Styrofoam food containers.  I know, I know, maybe I'm foolish to expect people to be, well, pure at their jobs.  I mean, it's just a job.  Still, it's like seeing a doctor smoking a cigarette, or a priest reading the horoscopes, or a lawyer helping someone.  It just seems like a fundamental betrayal.  I mean, what if I suddenly started working hard at these temp jobs?  What kind of example would that set?  Practice what you preach, I think to myself, as I leave twenty minutes early with a boxful of pens in my backpack.

It's really too bad this was a one day assignment, because I had some good ideas for this company.  While I was folding endless flyers, I thought of an excellent program to make people more aware of the amount of waste they create.

My Waste Awareness Program (WAP!) could be utilized by anyone.  It's simple and easy to set up.

1:  Get a large stack of paper.  11X14" paper would be best, or bigger, if possible.

2:  Number each sheet of paper consecutively.  Make the numbers large and easy to see with permanent marker (examples below).


3:  Number all the way up to 100.  Stack the pages on top of each other ('1' on the top, '100' on the bottom)

4:  Staple the stack together.

5:  Nail the whole thing to your wall in an easy-to-see spot.

That's it!  You're ready for WAP!  Now, every time you throw something away (soda cans, underwear, plutonium, femurs), rip off one of the huge sheets of paper.  As you throw more things away (tuna cans, chicken bones, hats, Freddy Prinze Jr. movies) you'll be able to see just how many things you've thrown away, represented by the number showing on your WAP pad!  You'll be surprised how fast you get to one hundred, so keep a lot of paper on hand to add new numbers when needed!  It's amazing just how wasteful you are, isn't it!  Do you feel horribly ashamed?  That means it's working!

NOTE:  Use bright white paper so it really stands out, not that dull gray recycled paper.  Use dozens of staples to attach the sheets together (we don't want them coming apart until we're ready!).  Also, you might be thinking "But when I tear a new page off and crumple it up, doesn't that count as throwing something away?  Meaning I'd have to then tear off another sheet, instigating a self-propagating, never-ending loop of tearing off pages?"  Nope!  We won't count the sheets of paper as waste for just that very reason.  To avoid confusion, throw the crumpled paper out the window, not in the waste basket!


By the way, I screwed up Jillian's URL on Friday.  She had submitted a button, and I paid her back by botching her link.  I suck.

Her real link is here.


Well, enough of my crap.  I know you all just want some Diversions anyway.  First, an uplifting one:  want to know how much time you've got left?  Down to the second?  Check out the Death Clock and watch your very life tick away!  Also, ever wonder what you're worth?  At Human For Sale, you can find out what your going rate (you'll need to enter your e-mail address for the results, just a warning).  Finally, do you want to impress your friends and family members?  Sure, we all do!  Well, until you think up some way to impress them, why not try to create palindromes with the Palindrome Helper!  In an unexpected twist, the links are on the sidebar.

Last Week on Not My Desk


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