Thursday, January 19, 2006

Remember that scene in "Office Space?"

You know, that slow-motion scene in the field where the guys beat the shit out of the printer with a baseball bat? Well, I know that scene.

I have had a rather tiring day at work. It wasn't a bad day, exactly, but I am relieved to be home with a cup of tea (Republic of Tea, Vanilla Almond black tea - very yummy) and my laptop.

Here's what turned the day kind of sour. I like my boss very much, generally. He is extremely bright, and he can be very funny, but he has a gift for making me feel stupid. Not just me, but I wouldn't want to speak for anyone else. I felt very stupid this afternoon when I asked him for help with some labels I was printing. Actually, I did not ask for help. I asked if he had any blank labels I could borrow to fill out by hand.

"Don't you remember how to use the software to make your own?"

"I've been working on it for the last half hour," I said. Creating the label was no problem; printing was the issue.

The printer I need to use for this particular kind of label is on a different floor of the office from my cubicle, so I had been running up and down the stairs, sending print job after print job only to find the printer saying it had a jam. It did not have a jam, stupid printer. What I did not realize was that - with the exception of my first attempt at printing the labels - the problem was not a paper jam. In fact, the printer did not even think it had a jam. What it thought, rightly, was that someone (me) was trying to get it to print a letter-sized sheet of labels on legal-sized paper. I didn't realize this was the problem because the printer is stationed on a ridiculously high counter. I have to stand on my very tiptoes and kind of push myself up with my arms just to see the top half of the printer's little LCD screen.* I completely failed to see the error message about paper size - all I saw was the flashing "error" icon. I assumed it was still a paper jam (or a paper-jam related program activity). So I felt incredibly clueless when my boss gave me the look** and read the error message to me.

I try very hard to figure things out by myself before asking my boss - he's kind of my last resort. (Wikipedia never gives me the look. Come to think of it, this is really weird, because I didn't used to be so reluctant to ask questions. Hmm.) I had to bite the bullet this afternoon because the label needed to go on something that needed to be dropped off at FedEx, like, NOW!!! Had I not been so anxious to beat my deadline, I might have taken a breath and found a chair to stand on - or a tall person to read the printer's entire message to me.

I am going to try to get that religion post I promised up later tonight or tomorrow. No promises, however.

*I'm not even especially short. I am 1-1/2 inches shorter than the average American woman, last I checked. But (dammit!) when you work in an office with a lot of men and very few women, a lot of stuff is placed too high to see, reach, etc. One of my primary job functions has to be done on a stepladder.

**To be fair, I don't think he intends to do this. Usually.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fortune Cookie Wisdom and a New Year's Resolution in One

Speak only well of people and you need never whisper.

I have put this advice up on the fridge in my apartment.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Post Five

Zero Hour was actually linked to today. Thanks, Robert!

I feel a bit badly for readers who wander in and discover how little there is to read. If you have come here from LGM, I hope you will return later this week. I am working on a post about religion, and I have solicited blog contributions on all topics from lawyers, mountaineers and film geeks I know.

In the meantime, ask yourself whether a film should be considered a "musical" simply because
it is about musicians and there are songs in it. Yeah, I didn't think so either. I'm not convinced The Squid and the Whale is a comedy, either, though it has some funny scenes. I can only assume the Hollywood Foreign Press Association didn't feel they had enough musicals and comedies to fill the category.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Disposable Cell Phones

Give me a break.

Scroll down to the paragraph in which the blogger writes that James Risen and the NY Times = Benedict Arnold. Exercise for the reader: is AJStrata the sort of
dweeb Steve Gilliard described yesterday? Upyernoz gives a concise rebuttal in the comments at Strata-Sphere.

I can't see how the New York Times tipped anyone off about anything. By AJStrata's logic, Dick Wolf must be a traitor too.
Those of us who watch Law & Order have long known that disposable cell phones are a good idea for bad people who don't want to get caught.

Atrios and Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Feminists and Lightbulbs

Robert Farley of Lawyers, Guns and Money is impressed by the intense scrutiny British politicians face - both from the media and from the public - compared to what one typically sees on this side of the Atlantic. This is an excellent point, and indeed others have made it in the past. One of my English friends once told me it was inconceivable to her that a television show as deferential to authority as the West Wing would ever be made in Britain. The British are not nearly so awestruck by their leaders; any television program about the British Prime Minister would certainly be a piss-take. For my part, I find it difficult to imagine political satire as scathing as Private Eye taking hold in America. Except on the blogs.

Kieran Healy's 2003 post (linked to above) features an update in which he points out that British politicians hone their skills in cutthroat debate societies. Quite right. Many an
Oxford Union President has gone on to bigger and better things.

Kieran's post also reminded me of one of the more stunning incidents I have ever witnessed. Incredibly, I find no mention of this incident anywhere on the Internets. It must be out there somewhere. If anyone reads about this elsewhere, let me know.

I was at the Oxford Union sometime between 1998 and 2000 to watch a debate on the motion "This House Believes Women Will Control the 21st Century" (or something similarly lame-sounding). Germaine Greer was one of the debaters. I honestly don't remember whether she was for or against the motion. I suppose she was probably for it. When she finally spoke, near the end of the debate, she said she was sorry to see that the Union was still the way she remembered it from decades earlier. The women were still using
their looks ("hanging their tits out," as she put it) to get elected to office, etc. On the topic of debate, she said that the 21st Century would likely be out of everyone's control, if the late 20th Century was any indication. We were buggered, basically.

So what did I find so stunning that evening? Between the first and second halves of any debate, the floor of the Union is open to members of the society in attendance. (Anyone familiar with Oxford Union protocols should feel free to correct me in the comments if I get this wrong; I only attended a handful of debates at the Union.) During the comments from the floor, a dark-haired undergraduate - I believe it was
OUCA (Google cache) member George Callahan - stood up and said that, although both sides of the debate had made excellent and interesting points, neither side had managed to answer the "age-old question" of how many feminists it takes to change a lightbulb.

[Dramatic pause]

The student was standing six feet from Germaine Greer when he gave his answer. "Two. One to change the bulb, and one to suck my cock."

It was a breathtaking moment. Literally. The hall was packed, but you could have heard a pin drop.

The Union President (Aitkens) was very upset, but Greer was not bothered in the slightest. In retrospect, the sheer audacity makes it quite funny. No one knew how to react at the time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Not Just Crap

My mother bought a box of Pop Champagne at the Corks liquor store in Montrose, Colorado, last month. I think it's a great idea, but I have yet to try it. Pop is sold in small bottles (1/4 regular size), and cute silver straws are included. Montrose is definitely Red America (despite having a Starbucks), so when my mother relayed this story to me, I pictured the liquor store clerk wearing a flannel shirt and Carhartt Overalls. He told my mother that all the runway models in Paris drink Pop backstage before a show. How the clerk at a liquor store in Montrose would know this is a mystery indeed.

As my mother paid for the champagne, he congratulated her on a good purchase. "It's not just crap, you know. It's French!" Ladies and gentlemen, I have a new catchphrase.

And is that Zoe Bartlett pimping Excedrin? Weird.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Inaugural Post

Welcome! This is my fresh, new blog. Whether any posts appear in this space will depend upon the outcome of a tense struggle between my intellectual inertia and my narcissism.

2006 is a fresh start for us all - "zero hour," if you will.

Happy New Year. Onward and upward!