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2-15-01 - Anatomy of an Update

Every day, I read about a dozen e-mails that look something like this:

Hi!  I'm a big fan!  I really enjoy reading your work, but I have a question.  How do you consistently come up with so many great ideas, and how do you get them to turn out so well?

I really love reading e-mail like this, and so far, Dave Barry has not figured out how I hack into his e-mail server.  Anyway, it gives me the idea to show my readers how I write, from conception to finished product.

Step One:  Think of an idea, and write a quick draft outlining the major points.

First Draft

  1. Something about temping.  Temping temping blah blah blah.  

  2. I dropped a Post-It today, and it stuck to my shoe ha ha ha ha!  That was funny and that guy said you have a Post-It on your (my) shoe and I should take it off and I did.  Play up "embarrassment".  

  3. Mention ***farts*** if possible, farting is big with the kids.

  4. Talked to that lady at work today about good places to eat in town.  Make funny somehow.

  5. Former President Richard Nixon is a HOT TOPIC, work that in, find out is he alive/dead?  What did he do in office?  Anything notorious?

  6. Too soon to put another picture of the facebuilding lady?

Step Two:  Flesh out the characters.  Discard ideas that are not working.  Exaggerate everything.

Second Draft

  1. Temping should still be key, somehow.  Call someone who knows stuff about temping.

  2. I dropped a Post-It today, it stuck to my shoe ass!!  Yes, my ass!  A guy at work BEAT ME UP and said I should take the Post-It(s?) off my ass.  I did and my pants fell down.

  3. And then I farted!!!!

  4. Talked to that lady WITH BLONDE HAIR about good places to eat in town.

  5. Mistake about Nixon, was never president as far as I can tell.  Did I dream that?

  6. Too soon for facebuilding lady.  No one finds funny but me.  Plus, am having feverish fantasies from viewing picture too often.  See doctor.

Step Three:  Begin putting it in normal update form.  Revise, revise, revise!!

Third Draft

You know, the thing about temping is ***FILL IN LATER***

Today, I was at work, and while reaching for my coffee, which I spilled on my boss, I dropped a Post-It Note onto my chair.  I sat down and it stuck to my ass!!!  **Note:  Do I notice right away?  Maybe people can give me funny looks or maybe women... women are looking at my ass and I think they want me really bad [too improbable????]

Finally this guy I work with says [over the intercom???  more embarrassing that way!!] that I have a Post-It Note stuck to my ass.  [snipping the bit about him beating me up -- USE FRIDAY IF NEEDED].  I reached for the Post-It Note, and when I pulled it off my pants fell down.  Boy, did I fart, kids!!  Huh?  You know about farting?  Is it very dope, or is it quite whack?  Write in with your opinion!  Word!

Talked a little bit to my supervisor.  She wanted to know where a good place to eat w [eh, drop this bit, not funny unless I spill something on her or she looks at my ass].

Step Four:    Enhance mishaps.  Throw in some synonyms and adjectives.  Adjectives are big with the kids.  Rewrite with major padding.  Word count, word count, word count!  Word count!

Fourth Draft

Boy, I gotta tell ya, my friends and neighbors, there's no easy, simple, uncomplicated way to sum up temping, because there are so many variable different diverse aspects to temping, it's hard to name them all completely at once at the same time all together, like for instance ***FILL IN LATER***

I was at my temporary employment assignment job vocation, and I spilled coffee on my boss while getting tangled in the phone cord and setting the office on fire while stapling my tie to the payroll report as it was sucked into the paper shredder and then I farted as my pants fell down and I stepped on a cat.

[HAD TO LOSE POST-IT ANGLE -- THIRD LETTER FROM POST-IT CORP. THREATENING LEGAL ACTION IF I ASSOCIATE MY WEBSITE WITH THEIR PRODUCT]

***Note:  Should I fart twice???***

Step Five:  Abort!  Abort!  It sucks!  Scrap everything!  Make quick list of alternate ideas!

Fifth Draft

  1. Temping is OUT, how about airline food?

  2. Hot button topic:  Salem witch trials

  3. Funny idea!  Why don't meter maids clean your car??  Since they're maids??  ha ha!  [possibly can get two days worth of material out of this gem!]

  4. Al Gore is kind of robotic... has anyone else noticed??

  5. Write fake update about how I come up with my updates [***NOTE:  USE ONLY IF COMPLETELY DESPERATE***]

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e-mail: temp@notmydesk.com


2-14-01 - Guh

I'm a little tired, so I'll just link to two more temping cartoons, and call it a day.

Cartoon One        Cartoon Two

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e-mail: temp@notmydesk.com


2-13-01 - Check, Please.   PLEASE.

Man.  I'm still looking through returned checks, all day, every day, at my current job.  Putting them in order, comparing them to copies, noting discrepancies, rubber-banding them by month.  Four years worth of checks I've gone through now, looking for some sign of embezzlement.

Today, my supervisor came into the conference room where I slouch over thousands of these little paper rectangles eight hours a day, and she whispered:

"You look tired... would you like a little break from doing that?"

A break?  Hell, yeah!  I put my feet up on the table, grabbed a beer, lit a smoke, unfastened the top button of my jeans, and fell into a drooling slumber.  But she had other ideas.

"I have something else you can work on for a bit."

Silly me!  By "break", she obviously meant "more work."  Still, anything to get me away from these damn checks.  I had to pay my phone bill today, and I broke down sobbing over my checkbook just by association.

She led me to her office, and sat me down.  "I need you to go through these checks, match them to their invoices, and mail them."

Wha?  Huh?  She's giving me a break from sorting old checks by having me sort new checks?  Well, what a relief.  It's a nice change of pace, kind of like when a street hood stops punching you in the face and starts kicking you in the face.  Different sensation, yet still owie.

The new checks were just as dull as the old ones, only they were a little crisper, and, as an added bonus, I had to sort them in her office, where instead of an expansive conference room table to spread out on, I had a tiny chair in the corner and only my knees to balance the checks on.

I have no satisfying end to this story.  But hey, I got some more art!

Click it to see what it is!

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e-mail: temp@notmydesk.com


2-12-01 - Snow Way, Snow How

How would you like to operate a vehicle that has been enhanced by the addition of on-board computers?

How about global positioning systems?

Maybe a satellite dish?

Heads-up displays, too.

I can even sweeten the deal by throwing in voice-activated controls, making operation of the vehicle nearly hands-free.

No, I'm not talking about the space shuttle.  And I'm not talking about a fighter jet, or even a military vehicle of any kind.  I'm not even talking about a luxury car.

I'm talking about a snowplow.

According to this article at cnn.com, snowplow technology has been growing by leaps and bounds, and the only reason we haven't heard about it until now is that expensive, newly-developed snowplow technology is completely unnecessary and no one really cares about it.

These new "superplows" have everything I've mentioned above, and more!  According to the article:

Gone are old-fashioned radio equipment and dashboard levers. The plows feature onboard computers, satellite dishes, ultrabright strobe lights, video cameras, and tanks with three different de-icing liquids.

Operators use joysticks to control the plows' blades. Global positioning systems allow dispatchers to track each truck's location down to the inch, including how many plows are in contact with the road and how much salt each driver has dumped.

Okay!  You might be wondering why they would need global positioning systems on a snowplow to know how much salt the truck has dumped, but the first sentence up there answers it just fine:  they took out the radios.  That was dumb, huh?  Once they did that, there was no choice but to add thousands and thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment just to ask "Hey, Eugene!  How's a much salt ya got left?"

They're even working on new sensors that estimate how slippery a road might be, known as the the Slippoguessatronic Device, with patented OopsIfellandbrokemyass negation technology.

All this seems a bit much, I mean, we're talking about plowing roads, here.  Does the Department of Public Works really need this kind of technology?  What if other governmental branches get jealous?  Will we start hearing about space-based pothole detectors?  Super-computers that can calculate the viability of government-subsidized public sculptures?  The little meter-reader buggies equipped with infrared screens to read impressions of invisible sub-microscopic chalk-marks they've put on your tires?

At any rate, gone are the days when you could exclaim to your spouse:  "Why is it that they can put a man on the moon, but they can't use computer imaging technology and global positioning satellites to help plow the roads?"

Here's a temping cartoon brought to my attention by Alex.  Click here to check it out.  Thanks, Alex!

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e-mail: temp@notmydesk.com

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