Showing posts from June, 2010

In the beginning...

Dear Court-nee,

I really enjoy the writing on your blog. I'm hoping you can answer
my question. How does one go about starting up an invented religion
based on Volcano worship in the Pacific North West?

Ersatz Prophet

Dear Ersatz,

What a great question!  Starting a religion can be a fun and profitable way to weather this economic downturn, as well as a great way to meet new people.  (Well, not new people -- existing people that you just haven't met yet.)  In particular, you will meet gullible people with desperate lives who are seeking Something.  Oh, and IRS agents.  (Note:  It's unlikely that young lovely virgins will be drawn to this particular religion, due to the volcanos.)

Starting it is as easy as pie:

1.  Come up with a story.  Make it complicated and unbelievable but believable at the same time, if you know what I mean.  Give it a lot of charm, a bit of bad stuff happening for a reason that can be known (and that reason, duh, is that Someone didn't believe the…

The envelope, please*

One thing about my office is that in 1998, someone made an envelope for each employee, labeled with our name. When you check out a car or a parking pass, they put the keys in this envelope.  It’s just an ordinary business envelope that you’d mail a letter in.

Last week, I borrowed a pass and kept my envelope for about three days, and then misplaced it. I know.

I went into my boss. “S., I lost my envelope.”

“What envelope?”

“You know. The ENVELOPE.”

Um, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

You know, the one they made for each of us in 1998 with our names on it? 

You lost that?  You’re on your own.”  He turns back to his computer.

I snuck in to the office early, and made my own envelope, which just involved grabbing one from the stack and writing my name on it.  I found the paperwork, filled it out, and then went to return my fake envelope to the Actual Person.

“Ha ha ha, I lost my envelope.”  I try to do that laughing thing, like, "we’re all on the same, happy, laughing sid…

Word salad

This morning, I was sitting in my cubicle when the confidential secretary walked by.

B. yells out to her: “Hey, tell us some secrets, will ya? Whatdya got that’s confidential?”

“Well, C and I were just in that office with the door closed fixing her underwear. She has a really cute outfit on, but needed her underwear hitched up.”

“Oh. That’s it? No other secrets?”

I stare at my computer, and see a request from a coworker asking if I’d return a call for her. I do.

“Hi. This is Betsy from blah blah blah. Did you have some questions about property?”

“Jesus Christ! I just poured the milk on my cereal, and now you call. It’s going to get all soggy.”

“Uh… I could call back, or you could call me when it’s convenient.”

“Oh, never mind. You’re here now. The damage is done.”


“So, did you have questions? Maybe about property?”

“Yes. But don’t use a tone with me that’s too firm for the occasion. That really stresses me out and it takes a long time for me to meditate my wa…

Message in a balloon

Saturday, I was scurrying around, getting ready to have a few people over to celebrate M’s graduation, and I got into that mode, you know how it goes, (or maybe you don’t…) where you start fussing and realize you won’t stop till people arrive? Even though these are friends, people who have been to my house hundreds of times who wouldn’t think twice even if it were completely messy and I served potato chips out of the bag. They’d be gracious and say, “Oh, what a lovely party! That’s clever how you have all the dirty dishes in the sink!”

But I wanted it to be especially nice, because M. has worked so hard to get to where she is, and I wanted to show how much I love her by creating many strings of origami cranes to hang up, and I wanted my friends to know how much I love them by sweeping the cobwebs out of the corners of the ceiling and making yummy food.

I have that thing where I start out fine, but then get a hare-brained last-minute idea and follow it, against my better judgment.…

In which I am nothing like Jackie O.

One thing about working for the government is that you don’t get free things the way you do in the private sector.

Microsoft represents the extreme, with free soda and ibuprofen, but even the cheapest offices usually provide a few things, like drinking water and bad coffee with powdered creamer. I worked somewhere once where the boss, and I’m not making this up, had a secretary retrieve paper from the recycling bin, cut it into squares, and, using glue stick, create sticky pads. Even that place had free coffee and water, is all I’m saying.

There are tons of other benefits to working for the government, so I’m not whining. A couple of years ago, though, they started providing filtered water in our office-- those Cully Springs 5 gallon carboys with the slick hot/cold spigots. I think that was part of an initiative to help County employees get healthier -- they thought that if we’re supposed to drink ten glasses of water a day, they should make it available. The water from the ta…

Another day...*

Today when I went to ask E. for the first favor of the day, I reported that the vomit had been cleaned up from the stairwell. That sounds like a metaphor, and if someone were writing a book about a grim workplace, they might throw in such a detail -- a pile of vomit that’s been in a stairwell for a week that everyone just steps over and ignores. Like that dog, Sorrow, in The Hotel New Hampshire.

When I first brought it up to my boss, a few days after I noticed it, he said, "are you sure it's vomit?"

"Um, it's a substance that has an irregular texture, with some coin-sized particles, as well as some clearly identifiable rice grains, all held together in an orange-ish brown, thick matrix. I'd say it's vomit."

"Is it possible that someone spilled soup?"

“Um, I guess it is possible. It's also possible that those leather pants were cured with cat pee. But does it really matter?”

“I'm just wondering. It would be good to know for su…

Rant, reprise*

I started writing this morning, and it sounded vaguely familiar, so I hunted around and found I'd already said this.  So here it is again.

I started working in this field, land use regulation, because I believe in it. I believe in it as one of the main ways to preserve the quality of our natural areas, and life in general.  Not in an iPod kind of way, but in a, ‘there’s not toxic stuf in the water’ kind of way, and there are other species that can make it besides humans, and we can imagine life persisting into the future.

An unanticipated side effects of regulation is that it ramps up property values, and sort of keeps a class system going. When there’s a lot of regulation, there’s more cost, and when there’s more cost, lots of people get left out. But I can’t quite think about that right now, because I have to stay on this train for a few more years.

I like to think that what I do matters: dealing with one landowner at a time. Taking abuse about a) anything any branch of any…

Parental lectures

About a month ago, I mentioned here that I was trying to practice a lecture on R. before I actually was going to give it to him.  He requested that I just make it a powerpoint, which I did.  Thought I'd share it in case its useful.   In fact, I may do a whole parental lecture series.  Why not automate the whole thing?

Oh, and it's a good idea to queue up a driving song while you watch it.  I played "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers, but that's just me.

(Oh, and I just realized that the animation doesn't work on this uploaded version.  Bummer.)

Driving: A cautionary taleView more presentations from betsyjm.

Get 'er done

Every so often, I check to see how people arrive at this blog, especially when it's a hit from far away.

Someone visited today from Madhya Pradesh, India.    It turns out that this blog is the first hit if you search for, "why you believe the project cat be delivered in the time scale."  I know!  Okay, it was the first hit even before this entry, but now I believe I've sealed the deal.

So I hope the question was adequately answered.  Of course we can deliver the "project cat".  Yep.  That's what we do.

The worms crawl in...

I opened the Worm Chamber on Tuesday, and for a variety of reasons, haven’t written about it. I know, you’ve been dying to know what’s going on in there, and I’ll get to that.

But meanwhile, I'm reading a book by Charles Darwin about earthworms, because I thought I should bone up on the subject. It’s pretty interesting, and has caused me to question all kinds of things about my life that I won't go into here, but what's relevant is that I’m losing heart for the aimlessness and possible cruelty of my worm project.

Darwin was so fond of his worms. He says, "I was desirous to learn something on this head, as few observations of this kind have been made, as far as I know, on animals so low in the scale of organization and so poorly provided with sense organs, as are earthworms."  I was struck by the phrase “so poorly provided” because, well, it just doesn’t sound very Darwin-ish. It implies that senses were bestowed upon the worms by a supreme being.

The tone …

Who's crazy now?

I went to the post office yesterday, home of the original postal employees. Our P.O. employees aren't postal. They're usually patient and helpful, and they’ve memorized everyone’s name and address; it’s a small town, but not that small. At least the people in the post office are like that.

The delivery people, on the other hand, are a rogue, passive aggressive bunch, who’s motto doesn’t involve anything about “neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night blah blah blah”, it’s more like, “I’ve got your mail and I doubt if you’ll ever get it.” Mail delivery didn’t occur at my house on about 25 days in the past 2 years due to weather, and that doesn’t even count the days where the mail carrier looked deep into the postal code, found problems with the mailbox, and refused to deliver until the problem was corrected.  Not just to one oddball box, but to her whole route. No, I won’t go into that. I won’t go into the part about how I can be standing in the driveway waving at her, …

Pomp and circumstance

When I picked M. up on the side of the road for graduation, we noticed we were wearing matching purple lacy tights, but mine looked silly because I was wearing sandals that I’d purchased earlier in the day without thinking about the tights.   I had dressed in the morning for the field, but remembered to throw a skirt in a bag. B. and I were in the field, getting wetter than I’ve been in a while (in clothes), the kind of wet where you can actually wring out your socks and capture significant amounts of smelly water, if you're that kind, which, by the way, I’m not. As I was wringing the socks out, I realized I had no shoes to wear to graduation, so we stopped at an outlet mall, dripped our way into a cheap shoe store to the horror of the employee, and bought these particular sandals with three seconds of consideration. I also purchased 3 pairs of bamboo argyle socks, but I stray from the point.  Since I’m already off topic, I’ll mention that B. also bought 6 pairs of dry socks, …

It's Wednesday somewhere

I won’t be able to count the worms tomorrow, (Worm Wednesday), because M. will be in her first graduation ceremony from the UW, the small geeky ceremony for the youngest grads.  At 19, she might be among the oldest in this little grad pack.  To hear her tell it, there will be a bunch of awkward kids giving hurried speeches while looking down at their shoes when they receive their diploma, saying things like, “thank you.  I am going on to work in the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory this summer.  Excuse me, I have an experiment underway and must get back to it.” 

Besides that it’s my child graduating, and I’m extremely proud, it also seems inappropriate to not attend because it’s the day I count the worms.  It really does, doesn’t it?  Especially since it’s only the second week, it’s not like I’m in this established pattern (like some other things that I won’t go into here.)

All that being said, you’re possibly a little tired of the worms yourself.  You may be asking, “…