Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let Us Celebrate My Long Weekend!

Jealous, aren't you?

1. la ferassie, tokyo police club
2. bookshop casanova, the clientele
3. boogie chillen, dale hawkins
4. guero canelo, calexico
5. wear you out, tv on the radio
6. novelty, joy division
7. more adventurous, rilo kiley
8. what do you think, the sundays
9. this is pop, xtc
10. michael, franz ferdinand

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quite Apart from Everything Else in This Economic Meltdown


This guy, AIG Financial Products President, gives me nightmares. I imagine him lurking around corners, sidling up, scaring the shit out of me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Free South By Southwest Music Sampler

Here. Includes ten songs by bands at the festival.

Amazon has one too, with artists that don't include the Decemberists.

I Want Whatever He's On

The guy at the Panera just told me to have an "absolutely fabulously awesome day," and to "be sure to tell your grandkids about this place." And a whole bunch of other stuff I didn't understand.

I'm hoping it leeched into the tomato soup.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rejection Number 2

Poor poor story. I had hopes for this place, but c'est la vie.

Weather: Still Springlike. Thoughts Turning Toward Busting out the Organic Gardening Book Acquired for Christmas


I'm not exactly motivated at the prospect of yard work. Which is pretty ominous, because I can usually count on a winter-incurred rush of optimism and ambitious planning by about this time every year. Sure, it all falls apart by June, but while the rush lasts, it usually allows me to get some good things going for a bit.

But it occurs to me that I got this book as a gift. (Side note to reviewer geniuses at Publisher's Weekly: "groundbreaking" equals pun; it's a gardening guide? Get it?) So while I'm not psyched to put together a rustic woven twig fence, I might be able to contemplate some soil amendment and some kitchy garden accessories. Anyway, subsistence farming is making a recession-fueled come back, so I might as well try to get with the program.

My god, last year I actually had little sketches. Can you believe it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today, I Enjoy a Well-Earned Comp Day

I completely blew my (twenty-four-year-old) classmate's mind yesterday by recognizing the intro music at our obligatory writers event yesterday, by these guys.



Ah, well do I remember being at the 9:30 club being pelted with chicken. Good times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Via the Laura Yard: Spring Officially Documented


Well, hello there, Mr. Daffodil!

It's almost, almost enough to make me want to yank out all the weeds I didn't get to last fall.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm Thinking About Printing This Out and Shoving It Under a Door

Non-hierarchical management principles!

Point 8: Fire ineffective people.

Firing people is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do. People go to absurd lengths to try and make it easier (“we’ll just try him out for a month and see how it goes” is a common one) but they never really help. You just have to bite the bullet and let people go. It’s your job. If you can’t do it, find someone else.

Firing people isn’t just about saving money, or petty things like that. It’s the difference between a great organization and a failure. Inefective people drag everyone else down to their level. They make it so that you can’t take pride in what you’re doing, so that you dread going into work in the morning, so that you can’t rely on the other pieces of the project getting done. And assholes, no matter how talented they may be, are even worse. Conversely, there are few things more fun than working hard with a really nice, talented group of people.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Big Brother Is Watching You

Did you know that I'm at a risk for diabetes? Yeah, me neither. But my insurance company seems to think so ("A review of your claims history indicates that you're either being treated for or have risk factors for diabetes"). As such, they just sent me a helpful mailer for New Services I Can Take Advantage Of!

I think they meant to send me the one for asthma. But here's the thing: I don't want them to think I have health issues I don't have, because what happens if I have to get insurance on the individual market, and they think I'm pre-diabetic, and they'll gouge me with sky-high rates, and I'll go bankrupt, or they won't cover me at all, and I'll die of an asthma attack even though my asthma is mild and allergy-related only . . .!

Am I being paranoid? Should I call and ask for expunging of any pre-diabetic implication in my records? Should I report my weight, blood pressure, and family history? Should I indicate my vegetarianism?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let Me Say Again That You Guys Are Awesome

Because of your thoughts and comments, I have had the serendipitous brainwave for how to focus my vast and currently unfocused glut of material for this final essay. It's a direction I hadn't even thought about, frankly, because I viewed the PK material as pretty tangential to my mission here--at best, a standalone piece.

I'm really psyched about this, thanks so much! That's the good news. The bad news is that I may ask follow-up questions to get angles and details I hadn't considered. I hope that's okay.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Demons

I'm sure I mentioned that in this writing class, we're digging for autobiographical material. And as a result of the broad-based topic I stumbled into based on some strong earlier in-class pieces, I'm in depressing-land here for all of my writing material. (I will certainly make a note of this for future in the next creative nonfiction class I take.)

Anyway, as part of this process, I wrote about PK (for those who knew him). I thought it would be pretty easy, given the distance and the subsequent expunging of the guilt, but it was harder than I thought. The piece that come out of it was relatively strong and cohesive, though. Naturally, this meant that my teacher picked it for me to read out loud tonight.

I'm kind of mortified that I choked a bit, and I also had some funny-to-me-only guffawing instances on the weirdness that he was. Jesus. It's like goddamned therapy in there, I swear.

One of Those Irritating Days

Does this happen to you: You are some unspecified, incoherent species of annoyed with the world? Where service workers are likely fortunate not to have to deal with you? Where, if your mood were to physically manifest around you, you'd look something like Pig Pen from Peanuts, lost in a cloud of grunge and blackness? And the incoherence of the source of the irritation (and thus your inability to address same and get rid of it) increases your baseline level of irritation?

It could be the sudden cold snap or the time change. Or it could be the fact that it takes me eons to fall asleep these days (random coworker greeting from this morning: "Jeez, did you have your late class last night? Your eyes are all red"). Bah.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So That We May Better Serve You, Please Identify Your Nerd Type

Okay, There Are Approximately Three of Us Left Watching Heroes

Do we want to talk about it? Personally, I thought it was kind of dull. Yet, aspects of it were somewhat amusing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rain. Day 2.

It being March in Chicago environs, this counts as a Good Thing, and those lazy days where you are obligated, obligated to sit inside and sip hot beverages are sadly few and far between. I can't think of a better day to get some grade-A musings in on the new crop of incidents that I'm trying to write. I'm going to try for some lighter, funnier stuff because I'm starting to get drained from the relentlessly dark.

Work went, so that's also a good thing. There was a paucity of cinnamon rolls, because we were all on our own recognizance, and I had a wrong perception on where the place was. Bummer for me. There was also minimum of chaos because there weren't that many people at our event. I mainly spent the day sitting in back of a desk and smiling at people cheerily. Overheard chatter in the lobby was that the event itself was first rate. And reports back from the performance portion that I missed were that it too went well, and that our conductor ruled the place and was a "sex god" (that last observation coming from my friend M after an unspecified amount of wine; no one told me there would be an open bar).

I get a comp day out of it, so that's good. I also got vaguely insulted by a prominent music and cultural critic.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It May Be Friday, But Alas, I Must Work This Weekend

You may remember my last conference hell experience round about this time last year. (Hmmm, it seems like I bitched about it more at the time, but I guess I was too tired to.)

Anyway, we have a mini-deal going on this weekend, for which I have to work but one day. And there will be cinnamon rolls, which always offset a lot of grief in my book.

Random ten, since it's Friday.

1. bricks & mortar, the jam
2. dimmest star, pernice brothers
3. heart shaped bruise, elvis costello and the imposters
4. take your carriage clock and shove it, belle & sebastian
5. beetlebum, blur
6. dirt, the stooges
7. i don't want to hear it anymore, dusty springfield
8. take me with u, prince
9. always for you, the album leaf
10. 19-2000 (soulchild remix), gorillaz

bonus number 11: big night, megachoir.

I don't need to point you to the link in the sidebar there, do I people?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Where Bjork is Bjork, and the Elves Are Under the Mountain

Want to read about Iceland's fascinating economic meltdown?

Just after October 6, 2008, when Iceland effectively went bust, I spoke to a man at the International Monetary Fund who had been flown in to Reykjavík to determine if money might responsibly be lent to such a spectacularly bankrupt nation. He’d never been to Iceland, knew nothing about the place, and said he needed a map to find it. He has spent his life dealing with famously distressed countries, usually in Africa, perpetually in one kind of financial trouble or another. Iceland was entirely new to his experience: a nation of extremely well-to-do (No. 1 in the United Nations’ 2008 Human Development Index), well-educated, historically rational human beings who had organized themselves to commit one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history. “You have to understand,” he told me, “Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.”

Speaking of Bjork:

Because Iceland is really just one big family, it’s simply annoying to go around asking Icelanders if they’ve met Björk. Of course they’ve met Björk; who hasn’t met Björk? Who, for that matter, didn’t know Björk when she was two? “Yes, I know Björk,” a professor of finance at the University of Iceland says in reply to my question, in a weary tone. “She can’t sing, and I know her mother from childhood, and they were both crazy. That she is so well known outside of Iceland tells me more about the world than it does about Björk.”

And this is all kinds of awesome:

Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called “hidden people”—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sign 'o the Times

Your quarterly 403(b) statement arrives. The envelope says: "Take a Deep Breath. It's Still a Great Time to Contribute to Your Retirement."

Do you: (a) laugh, (b) weep gently, (c) hibernate until 2020 when this thing should start turning around.