Day of Rest

Geez, what a week.

It’s over now, but in the past five days The Corporation really got its money’s worth. I did the work of three men, and I was sick the whole time. I normally don’t want to be there, but this week I really should have been home in bed. Trouble is, the work won’t go away just because I do, and no one else will do it while I’m gone. Sick. So whenever I come back it’s all still waiting for me, along with the new work, which is always urgent. I will have to die or get fired to evade this.

As an added bonus, my cold/flu or whatever prevented me from sleeping more than three hours a night all week, so I started each day in the hole and got deeper in as the day progressed. Friday night I finally passed out and slept all night, and now today (Saturday) I feel human for the first time since last Sunday.

I’m alone in the house (just me and Molly the Cat), alternately surfing movies on the cable, finishing B’s leftover chicken soup, reading random blogs and following their links to other random blogs (thank God for Firefox and tabbed browsing). I read somewhere that there are 4.8 million blogs, but that was a month ago. There must be a lot more by now, and I am amazed at how many smart, funny, drunk, isolated, depressed, introspective, social, clever, educated, frank and opinionated people there are out there doing this. Who wants to bet that university studies are not being conducted on the phenomenon right now? Stay tuned to Fresh Air on NPR — I’m sure someone will be plugging a blogging book soon, if they haven’t already.

Of course I will get nothing accomplished on this day of rest. Usually that would make me feel guilty, but since I am recovering from a near-death experience I am OK with my indolence. Tomorrow I’ll have to make up for today. Then on Monday I can go back to making The Corporation rich.

Rest Area Ahead

Are You Drained by Christmas Shopping?

It’s the Holiday Season! This time of year, people often say to me Larry Jones, I need a break from the hurly burly world of gift shopping, nog-drinking and carol-singing. Do you know where the toilet museums are?

Well, joyeux noel, yes, I do! You can learn perhaps more than you expected at the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. Visit the online collection and your happy curator Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak will smile at you from every page. For detailed information regarding ancient defecation and urination rituals, check out this section.

If that’s not enough for you (and it wasn’t for me), you can check out The Toilet Museum, for more toilets and peripherals, including toilet sounds and a section of frequently asked questions about toilets, which will challenge what you may think you know. While at The Toilet Museum (and in the holiday spirit), don’t miss the Gift Shop. For you last-minute shoppers, monogrammed toilet paper makes a great stocking stuffer…

The education continues as we move on to the great state of Texas, home to Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum. I was particularly impressed by Barney’s feathered creation with the Native American motif on Page 2. This site truly gives new meaning to the phrase “expose yourself to art.”

OK — back to the mall, all of you! Email me directly for my sizes and wish list.

Snot, Day 3

OK, I think I know what this is about.

I have been rendered helpless. My vision is blurred, my bones are made of glass, my throat is scratchy, my body is trying to expel all fluids from every orifice (sorry), I’m cold and sweaty at the same time, I can’t eat and I can’t think. Worst of all, I can’t sing along with the radio in the car. My voice just won’t go there. This is the universe sending me a wakeup call, right? You are wasting your life, doing nothing with your abilities. Here’s how it would feel if all were taken from you. How do you like it? What if you really couldn’t think or sing?

To the universe: I get it! Please stop! I want to live! Give me back the equipment, and I’ll use it, I promise.

Snot, Part 2

Slept about an hour last night, so woke up stupid. Am still stupid here at the office. My blog is my only friend. See no relief, as I have a metric shitload of work to do, and must attend a party as soon as I’m done here, which I probably never will be.

Having trouble refocusing between the computer screen and the paperwork. Head throbs, but can’t recall if I have taken aspirin lately. Best to take another handful.

Filled with love and longing.

I am not defeated.

Snot

Where does all this snot come from? I have blown my nose 5,000 times since last night. I must weigh five pounds less, and my nose keeps running.

And why so many symptoms? Runny nose, headache, sore throat, backache, fever. What part of God’s Plan is this? God: You had me at headful of snot, OK? I got the message then, and I started to undergo treatment. Do you think I will forget? Is that why you are piling on?

Thanks for listening.

On Knowing

“Do you think it’s possible to ever really know the real whole of someone?”

Because I have become enthralled by this girl, obsessively, time-wastingly poring over her blog, seeking like a smitten schoolboy to curry her favor, and because she asked and I can deny her nothing, I will herewith write my answer to the question. Of course I feel foolish jumping through this hoop. I imagine that she has a lot of guys jumping through hoops, and she probably enjoys it. Anyway, I would have a few for her to jump through if the occasion arose, so fair’s fair.

The question first appeared in the comment section of her blog, and it took me by surprise because I thought that she was mainly having fun with a goofy pseudo-biography I was spinning about Popeye the Sailor, trying to entertain her. Clearly she wants more than entertainment.

But I have thought about this for days now, until I have become fevered and delerious, and I really can’t answer the question with authority. So I will use the loophole contained in the question, and say only what I think.

I think it must only be possible to be in the process of getting to know someone. Whenever you hook up, you must take a crash course in Who They Seem to Be. In that first weekend you’ll learn a whole big lot of superficial stuff, and it will be the most fun ever. If it happens then that you have a genuine interst in each other, a trust might develop over time, and more might be revealed, and understood.

The whole time you are learning these tidbits, though, they will be shifting like sand dunes, changing into other beliefs, attitudes, likes and dislikes. I think this is natural for people. You can’t remain unchanged as Life bumps up against you, showing you its beauty, its pain, its joy and sorrow, its fear and its comfort.

If you are truly into each other, you will sense these changes and you will begin to improvise together a sort of soul jam, which embraces change and flows with it rather than trying to nail down any part of the music. The phrases will weave together more and more coherently until the song becomes so magical that it will seem that you are reading from the same chart.

You’ll never know the whole of the other, because it will always be developing. But every day there will be something new to ponder and to play with. And every now and then you will hit notes together that are in such perfect harmony that you will laugh and cry in wonder.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life on the Edge

I may not be at 100% this week, a shame, since I have an Important Issue to deal with in this blog pretty soon. Yesterday, as my weekend drew to a close, I caught a cold. Or maybe the flu, I don’t know. Yet. I just know that at 6:30 PM, like a revelation, I knew I was under attack. I rarely get sick, and I’m a big crybaby when it happens, so I moped around until bedtime, then conked out hours earlier than usual.

Now, here at the office, I have many pills in me, and a big box of Kleenex Extra Soft Triple-Layer Tissue With Aloe and Vitamin E. Nos Mouchoirs les plus apaisants! These petty illnesses get me in my back. I can tell it’s not an injury or a strain: My lower back is under alien attack! White corpuscles are rushing to the scene, sirens blaring, but the enemy has arrived first and there are already many casualties. Oh, the humanity!

Since I am so near death anyway, I decided to live dangerously. I pushed the “Brew” button on the office coffeemaker before I put the coffee, the filter and the basket together! You read that right. I knew I would have only eight seconds to assemble the parts and shove the basket under the dripping, scalding hot water. Failure would lead to a big, scalding mess all over the lunch room, not to mention the shame as I mopped it up. It was a tremendous risk, but, hey, that’s the kind of guy I am. Delerious and delusional.

Blue Christmas

So this is Christmas. And what have you done?
Another year over. You are just begun.
So this is Christmas – I hope you have fun.
The near and the dear ones,
The old and the young.

So this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
For rich and for poor one, the road is so long.
So Happy Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

War is over
If you want it
War is over now

Listening to John Lennon’s hopeful, melancholy “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my office, and I almost broke down when it came to the chorus. I had to close my office door and get my composure back. For the poor suckers all over the world in bunkers, in tents, in caves, it’s not over. I know it never will be, so why do we keep talking about peace on earth? My Daddy told me If you don’t want to get drunk, don’t take a drink. I say If you don’t want to have a war, don’t send troops. We can’t shoot our way to peace, but we seem to be doomed to keep trying.

John’s hopeful, useless wish seems all the more pathetic this time of year.

It’s Alive, and Stupid

I was fifty years old before I was forced to learn how to work inside a corporate environment. The Corporation slimed into my life seven years ago, by acquiring the company I work for. Suddenly, instead of working with 85 colleagues I was one of fifty thousand employees, and I had no idea for whom I was toiling (I think I am going to abandon this not ending sentences with prepositions. It’s one rule of grammar up with which I cannot put.). Their line at the time was “We like the way you guys do business, which is why we want to buy your company. Obviously we wouldn’t dream of changing anything.”

That sounded like bullshit at the time, and — surprise! — it was. I can’t say exactly who The Corporation is, because I have signed so many documents for them regarding the terms of my employment — and what I now see to be my inevitable termination — that I stopped reading them years ago. Who knows what obligations I may be under? I know some of us have cooperated with the press on a couple of investigative reports that were only marginally less sleazy than The Corporation itself, and those people were fired summarily. So I will be discreet, as that is the better part of valor (someday I’ll try to figure out what that means).

The hardest lesson I have learned it that The Corporation has only one thing on it’s mind: raising the price of the stock. Nominally we are a big-ticket retail operation. We sell expensive things to people who have to borrow money to purchase them. But in reality we exist solely for the economic aggrandizement of about fifty people, who own most of the stock.

So we do things like this: At the local office level, in order to demonstrate to Wall Street that we are proactively concerned about computer network security, we have stripped administrative access from everyone, and transferred it to Regional IT Managers, who generally don’t know their hard drives from their floppies. This “enhances” security, hardening The Corporation against hacker attacks and loss of important secret data, thus making investors breathe easier and buy more stock. Except that when someone in a local office forgets their password (and this happens at least once a week), they discover that it takes days for the overworked regional IT manager to reset their password, so they “borrow” the password of the person in the next cubicle. Naturally, this destroys all computer security as passwords are shared and bounced around, the exact opposite effect from what was intended, but that doesn’t matter — and here’s the lesson — because the investors only know about the official policy, and not what’s actually going on.

I don’t know why this frustrates me. Maybe it’s because all these corporate types are so smug and self-satisfied and well-paid, but they either don’t know or don’t care what they’re doing.

I’ve never written this stuff down before, and my thoughts are just coalescing. There will probably be more on The Corporation, and no doubt some of it will be more incisive than this, although at this time I am not expecting to achieve Joeseph Heller-level irony.

Outsmarting Myself

UPDATE, February 20, 2006: The “extremely well-written blog” referred to in this post is gone, like so may others, but I’ll never forget the girl.
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I don’t have the hang of being part of an “online community,”

which is odd because only a tiny fraction of today’s internet users have been doing it longer than me, and from the very beginning I saw it as a way to connect with other people. Before American Business got on board I had a vanity site and prowled the web for other such sites, because I guess I was touched by the beautiful need in people, myself included, to touch others, to reveal our secret selves, to reach out to the world. This, I thought, will change everything.

I mostly gave up on the concept as the web turned into television on your computer, and many of us became sort of desk potatoes. Sometime around 1998 it started to seem impossible for everyman (and me) to produce anything worth looking at on the web. I mean, how could I compete with all the chat rooms, news feeds, reverse phone directories, shopping services, celebrity gossip and gardening tips on Yahoo or MSN?

Then a funny thing happened. Just when the commercial web should have put out the lights once and for all on personal expression on the internet, Blogger and other services are reviving it! This blog, like 4.8 million others, is easy to create and update. I can post to it from anywhere in the world, and no matter how fuzzy my thinking or vacuous my writing it will always have a clean professional look, and anyone who feels like it can respond to anything I write. Not having to think much about design has turned the focus back toward communicating. With each other. In ways that were just not possible ten years ago. Maybe this will change everything!

I now prowl these blogs when I need a lift, and some stranger invariably steps up and gives me one. And I hope some day someone gets a lift from my thoughts here, even if I am not always upbeat.

So you’d think, given my history and all my theorizing that I’d be a natural here in the blogosphere. But, as I say, I don’t seem to have the hang of being part of things. Like I just can’t say or write “blogosphere” with a straight face. And yesterday I read a terrific post on an extremely well-written blog, clever, insightful and moving. I wrote a comment which was intended to be a compliment, but judging from the blogger’s answer I see that I have somehow managed to get my virtual foot into my digital mouth, a condition I am familiar with here in meatspace.

As my sainted Irish mother told me many times, “Tomorrow is another day.” I hope so, Mom.