Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

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The Belt of the Gods

June 15, 2016

bolo

My life has been changed forever and it is all due to a new belt. More specifically, an elastic stretchy belt.

I have always worn a belt, for two reasons, mostly. First, my lineage is that of a Texas redneck. We wear leather belts. With big belt buckles We just do. Don’t question it. Besides keeping pants above the waistline I’ve never figured out the real reason. Some men are well shaped and don’t need a belt to hold up the jeans. The Texan belt, I figure, is purely decorative with large, shiny buckle to draw attention to our crotch area.

Texan men even wear belts around our necks. That’s right; instead of a formal men’s long or bow tie, we wear the famous “bolo” tie which is essentially a belt around the neckline with a smaller decorative buckle.

Second, and the most obvious reason, is to cinch our trousers around our hips so they don’t fall down. In my 20’s and 30’s a belt wasn’t really necessary for that purpose. But now as I am now the age of mumblemumble I find that my britches tend to sag due to a curious barrel shape my body has taken in my middle parts. Let’s just say that my 20-something six-pack is now a keg. Therefore, a belt has been an unavoidable and fundamental element to my daily couture.

My belt of choice has been a simple, thin, plain, black, leather belt. It works for work. Discrete. Fashionable. Easy to store. But alas, after a hearty meal or the day following an earnest evening of brew tasting the usual belt setting embraces my waistline with much restraint and groaning protest.

Recently I was introduced to the stretchy belt.

And there was much rejoicing and sounding of trumpets and jamming of saxophones and melting of faces with electric guitar!

Hallelujah! This $20 little piece of elastic braided belt is a gift sent by the gods of growing waistlines. No longer do I have to loosen the leather strip another notch after a Thanksgiving feast. I can cinch it up tight enough to hold up the sinking, slipping britches, and when I sit properly in a chair the elastic flexes so I do not feel that burdensome hip pinch.

It feels good to breathe. It really does. And the remorseful act of sucking in the gut to prevent permanent and indented “belt waist” is a thing of the past. Thank you, gods of the growing waistline, for your generous favor to beer-bellied fellows everywhere!

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Coffee Armageddon

June 14, 2016

Yugo-Keurig

Our coffee machine is busted at work. And guess who’s in charge of coffee. That’s right, yours truly. I had no idea that a coffee-less office could be so uptight. I should have expected it, though. The pure outrage and sinister intimidations I have received from coworkers experiencing caffeine withdrawals is paramount to road rage on an epic scale. Within the last two days since the coffee Armageddon I have been threatened with at least one of the following if I don’t repair the machine or replace it post-haste:

“I hope you step on a Lego!”

“I will dress you as lettuce and feed you to the snails!”

“I will delete your hard drive!”

“I’m gonna rip off your cajones and boil ‘em in motor oil!”

“Listen up you little spazoid, I swear to everything holy that your dead ancestors will cry when they see what I’ve done to you!”

Boy, do they reeeeally want some coffee. But I don’t take any of it personally.

Let me back up and first explain that our office coffeemaker is a Keurig. The Keurig design, though convenient and offers many delicious choices of flavors for single cup pours, turns out to be the Yugo of coffeemakers. If you aren’t familiar with the Yugo, it was a former communist Yugoslavian designed car from the early 1980’s that appeared to have been manufactured at gunpoint. It started as a big hit for economic size, price and fuel efficiency. But it was soon recognized as an unimaginative eyesore and didn’t take more than a simple drive around the block for owners to realize the car was a disastrous and dangerous monstrosity just waiting to break down, fall apart, or worse, blow up at the worst possible moment.

That’s what you get with a Keurig.

The Keurig was designed to be a convenient way to make a single cup of coffee. Oh, but you can only purchase and use the expensive licensed K-cup coffees along with the machine. Oh, and did I mention that the expensive machines are made to be disposable? That’s right, gang. If a Keurig fails or malfunctions (which they often do. Just read the reviews.) there are no repair shops available. Coffee machine repair technicians (and this is a real, honest job, folks) have emphatically stated that the Keurig has no replacement parts, and it is more expensive to repair than to simply replace a Keurig machine. Ergo, they are disposable contraptions.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. No Keurig – no coffee. Also, no manager or CFO around this week to approve a new purchase of another disposable machine. So, I guess I’ll have to endure the sad, pathetic threats of my co-workers for another 3 or 4 days. In the meantime, I’m headed to the 7-Eleven down the block for a nice, cheap cuppa joe.

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Confessions of a Dyslexic Accountant

March 12, 2015

Dyslexia2

Hi. My name is Bob. I’m an accountant. And I have Permanent Onset Radically Transposing Late Adult Number Dyslexia (or ‘PORTLAND’ for short). Self-diagnosed, of course. I don’t even know if there is such a thing as “onset number dyslexia”. In fact, a quick Google search of the term returns nil. So I am announcing herewith that I have discovered a new debilitating number transposing syndrome and I am calling it PORTLAND.

Historically I have always been a number cruncher. I could whip out multiplication tables lickity split. Give me a short list of two digit numbers and I could give you back the sum in no time. And that’s why I studied accounting in college. I like my accounting day job. Every business needs a bean counter. I get a lovely sedentary job in a comfortable chair with a pair of monitors and unlimited computer access. Excel is my best friend, and at the end of the day the debits and credits all just have to add up to $0.

Why do I think I have PORTLAND? Lately I’ve noticed things just don’t add up. I have noticed clues pointing to this fact. Perhaps you’ve noticed clues as well? Here’s a starter list. See if any of these sound familiar:

  • A stranger answers the phone and you realize you’ve transposed numbers and dialed the wrong person.
  • You punch an incorrect number sequence on an adding machine, causing infinite frustration for an accountant trying to reconcile $0.27.
  • You expect to pay the bargain price of $9.99 for a set of name brand headphones and discover at the register that the actual cost is $99.99.
  • Your bank sends you a message that you just deposited only $23.21, not $32.12.
  • You look at a set of easy numbers, say, ‘12345’. And while performing quick data entry you catch yourself typing ‘13254’ (and subsequently ask yourself, ‘WTF did I do that for?’).

Yes, these clues have all happened to me. And it only happens with numbers, not letters. Since there is no official diagnosis for PORTLAND, there is no cure. Thus, it I am categorizing it as a progressive syndrome that may or may not get worse with age. The only treatment is support groups. So far I’m the only one.

Anyone want to join mine?

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Too Much Coffee, Man!

March 28, 2014

Too Much Coffee, Man!

Like some Americans I know, I spend the beginnings of my waking hours with a cup of coffee in my hands. Coffee is one of the few psychoactive stimulant drugs that I can afford. Thank Congress it’s legal. And like a few other Americans I know I, too, work for a company that wants its employees awake while they perform their jobs. To help with the task of staying awake they provide this psychoactive stimulant called coffee, and/or a lesser stimulant called tea, as a free employee perk (sorry, but there was just no stopping that pun).

 

Now most employers offer a limited choice, such as a pot of dark roast, a lighter roast, and a decaf. And in those situations the employees must self-monitor the coffee supply in each dispenser, and take initiative to start brewing a new batch when the pot runneth out. Failure to comply usually results in a ‘code red’ if ever caught, whereby the accused has his or her fingers shoved through the paper shredder (or his tie if it is absolutely repulsive), or something even worse like licking and sealing all the thousands of weekly marketing envelopes.

 

I, however, have hit the psychoactive stimulant jackpot at my new employer. Not only is the coffee free and provided in an unlimited supply, but we get our choice of brew strength and flavors. A Cadillac model Keurig (Dutch word for “nervous” or “fidgety”) allows any employee to brew a single cup of delicious coffee at the press of a button. Simply choose a mini “K-cup” of hundreds of flavor choices such as Vanilla Crème, Caramel, Kahlua, French Roast, Organic Garden Dirt, or even the less popular Ground Mealworms (high in protein – low in fat), and shove the tiny cup into a hole with a hypodermic needle at the bottom whereby it pierces the cup and allows the juicy steaming nectar to flow through into my mug. A press of a button, and in 30 seconds – voila! – my scalding hot flavored coffee is ready for consumption (which typically is spilling down the front of my starched white shirt)!

 

Methinks the business may emphasize the coffee consumption a bit much. For instance, each morning our favorite K-cup is placed conspicuously on our desks, much like a hotel places a mint on your pillow. The reminder is obvious: “wake up, and GET TO WORK!” And at various times throughout the day we are escorted to the break room by men in black suits and dark sunglasses who wear earpieces and talk into their watches. They supervise us while we refill our empty mugs, then promptly accompany us straight back to our cubicles. No chit-chatting with these fellas. My best guess is that my code-name is “Bluebeard”. I think it’s because of my nearly full gray beard, or maybe because I do Capt. Jack Sparrow impressions every day. Oh, they’re here now. Time to go refill with a delicious Mega Irish Hawaiian Chocolate Donut Avacado Truffle.

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Maybe I Should be Pub Pop

April 2, 2013

It was many moons ago that I coined my online name as Coffeshop Pop. That was back when I was mostly spending a good deal of time at coffee shops writing online content for various websites. Don’t get me wrong, I still am looking for that perfect cup o’ Joe, but sometime during the interim I found another Pacific Northwest specialty – India Pale Ale.

I’ve always been a porter or stout drinker when I happen by the local pub. But a few years ago my wise and retired father introduced me to the joy of IPA. I never was a fan of IPA, and I think it was due to trying a taste here and there of weak versions. I like my beer to have flavor. So one taste of Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA and I was hooked. Wow! What flavor! The bitter hops and strong alcohol content is right on tap for a beer lover who likes their beer strong.

But I digress…

As a beer-lovin’ Pac NorWesterner I find myself more often frequenting the long list of craft brew pubs in the area rather than coffee shops. As I sit now with a new IPA recipe in hand from the local McMenamins I stop to consider that “Pub Pop” is more appropriate these days. And here I am on day #2 of unemployment with my trusty notebook ‘puter in front of me typing out a bit of prose and a blog post.

But the scene is infinitely more interesting than ye olde coffee shop. I used to try to find inspiration from the business-type folk who rushed in to Starbucks for a non-fat soy latte, shaken – not stirred. In retrospect their pant suits, ugly ties, and blue tooth ears lacked of character and provided little inspiration whatsoever.

Now I am not in the midst of vegans with long beards, alongside carnivorous burger-eaters who drive hybrid automobiles with bumper stickers that say “COEXIST”. I hear conversations not of baseball or football, but of composting, concerts, local plays, family anecdotes, and of course, conversations of great beer. There is spontaneous laughter, gaiety, enthusiasm, and even heartfelt moments.

I find inspiration here at the pub. And I hope that the colorful characters on whom I eavesdrop find their way into my writing. I’ll have another, please. Prost!

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Schadenfreude for Writers

March 28, 2013

Schadenfreude

I learned recently that I was to be laid off from my current employer as of the end of the month. I immediately brushed up the ol’ resume and began shooting it out like shotgun fire to dozens of potential employers found on Craigslist and/or LinkedIn. While I was still working full-time and using every spare moment outside of work looking for other work, I was left with minimal, if any, time to focus on the ol’ novel (much less Tweeting about it).

So what is a part-time writer to do? Obviously an instance such as this takes priority over a “hobby” of writing. However, I will admit no defeat in holding off on my writing project for a few weeks since I depend on an income to support my writing habit. On the contrary, the time spent in conflict over the last 2 to 3 weeks has provided plenty of potential fodder for my story. Besides, what is a story without conflict?

If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced unemployment, count your blessings. The constant worry about how to pay next month’s rent, much less put cheap Mac & Cheese on the table is an ever-present struggle. Recently I have realized that my protagonist’s struggle can mirror my struggle. As I try to think of more rocks to throw at my main character, the “ah-ha!” moment comes when I determine that money is the answer. How will she pay the mortgage on the Bed-n-Breakfast? How will she pay for the much-needed maintenance on the historic home? What will she do when a dreaded coastal storm knocks down trees and rips off part of the roof?

The ideas are coming fast and furious. And I feel a little better about my problems because I can come up with worse problems for my story’s hero. Isn’t that the definition of Schadenfreude – to feel pleasure at others’ misfortunes?

So take my example and advice, if you are having problems creating conflict and plot twists, use that favorite German joy of misfortune and give your characters worse problems than your own.

 

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When Do YOU Grab Time to Write?

January 29, 2013

Time running outLike most writers, I’m sure you have the same excuse: “ I just don’t have time to write!!” (extra exclamations added for emphasis). But like the X Files used to say, ‘the truth is out there’, I’d like to say, “the time is out there” .

What do I mean by that, you may ask? I expected that question so let me elaborate. Writers are high maintenance folk when it comes to their precious writing time. Myself included, I’ll admit. If I am going to work on an article or increase the word count on my novel, I want to have a long chunk of time in front of me. I like at least an hour, if not more to really focus and tune in to my theme or dialogue. But we must break through that high maintenance barrier if we choose to be a part-time writer.

The reality is that most of us have daily lives that get in the way. We zoom around town racing to work, running errands, preparing meals, chasing kids upstairs to brush teeth and get them to bed, etc. I’m sure this is sounding familiar.

If you are like the other 99% of writers, you cannot expect time to be your friend. You simply can’t expect to be awarded hours each day to spend in your luxurious and peaceful writing den. You have to take what is yours, and when you can get it. And the truth is, time is everywhere. Here are some examples:

Before Work

I like to get up a bit early each morning before work and spend 30-40 minutes on my laptop before I leave the house. Ugh, I can hear the groans already: “But I HATE waking up early!!” . No worries, then check out the other options below. But if you really want to be a writer and finish your story, you need to make and take time, which means you may sacrifice some sleep doing it.

Bus/Public Transportation

Do you take public transportation? Now there’s a prime example of wasted writing time. Though you can’t spread out like the bus is your own private office, you can jot down some notes on your pocket sized Moleskine notebook. Use that 30 minutes it takes to get downtown to continue plotting out your story, or figuring out a new scene. Jot down notes. Sketch out some new character traits.

Lunch Hour

Once or twice a week I’ll bring a brown bag lunch and my trusty notebook computer. The size is perfect for traveling to work. During my lunch I’ll claim a spot in the lunch room, plug into the iTunes, and type away. If you’ve got a laptop, notebook ‘puter, or any kind of tablet computer, you have no excuse not to use it for your writing project at lunch time.

Dr Office

How long have we all sat in a doctor or dentist office? Or other appointments like the DMV (shudder)? These are other times you can use to move forward with your novel.

Before Bed

Finally, you could switch off that TV (use DVR if you must record your favorite program) and type away for the last 30 minutes of the day. Sit in bed and bring your laptop. Assign this time of day to expand your word count by even 100 or 200 words.

As you can see, the time is out there. If you truly want to be a writer and at some point claim to be a published author, you must find the time to dedicate to your craft. Don’t let time be your enemy – take the time that is yours!