To all my readers and followers, please keep in mind that I have now moved over to my new blog, Father Nature's Corner, so Cedar's Mountain is now on a semi-permanent hiatus.

If you're looking for the wit and wisdom that Cedar's Mountain is known for, please click on the link up above or to the right, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Incompleteness (1)

Today's post will introduce a delightful little detour into the inner workings of a very strange writer, which will feature the various parts of his incomplete repertoire over at Flashing Georgie's Shorts.

Last year, while I was writing a ton of short stories for the FSG, I happened to become highly attached to two published and three unpublished short stories. By highly attached, I mean that they inspired me to make an honest attempt at lengthening and turning them into longer stories.
Unfortunately, after about two months of writing, I gave up. Why? I think for the most part, I simply lost the motivation, when I realized that in order to make them work, I would have to do mounds of research and a ton of re-writing. At the time I was writing these (Summer through early Fall 2009), I didn't want to put that kind of effort into my writing. I do now, but back then, I didn't. So on the shelf they got put, where they were promptly forgotten about for the next several months.

Fast forward to early Spring 2010.

Because I'm currently waiting for the 12 submissions I sent out in December '09 to play themselves out (currently sitting at 5), I'm short two rather lengthy stories for FSG. So last weekend, I decided I would post a few of those incomplete short stories on FSG for the next month or so, so as to stretch out what I got waiting in the wings until July, when the last of my submissions should finish up.

Anyways.

The first story I became attached to, was a short story called The Sand, which curiously enough, was inspired by another short story of mine called The Beach. The basic plot of the story was that Azha went to a new beach to do a little suntanning, only to find out from one of the beachgoers that it was a nude beach. After some trepidation, she joined in the festivities. After that particular beachgoer, by the name of Thad, retrieved a Frisbee that landed on her, their hands touched, and Azha found herself drawn to Thad. They made passionate love and then something horrible happened. When Azha came to, she found that she was turned into a vampire.

I decided to expand on that, and started writing story called "Blackness in the White Sand", of which the basic premise was that Azha had 72 hours to find Thad in order to turn herself back into a human, otherwise she would stay like that and become a hunter of souls for Hell. I actually featured an excerpt, which was noted for the sheer violence I attempted to write for the first time. This petered out after 22 pages and was the main reason that forced me start reading The Divine Comedy again for the first time in 30 years.

Next up, which will be featured first, was the story called Double D's, which continued on a similar theme of the first, namely, vampires who were hunters. I posted a second story called The Weapon of Choice, which continued the adventures from the first story, and served as a launching point for three more interconnecting stories, entitled Man on a Mission. I will be re-posting those first two stories again, since I tightened and tweaked the content.

The final batch never made it to FSG, as I decided that after writing the first two (some 12 months apart), that they would complement the previous batch (retitled as "Persona Non Grata"). I wound up writing this current batch with a similar theme as the first, only I made the protagonist a hunter of vampires, specifically those two reprobates. This batch was retitled as "The Anointed One", and so I spent the next month or so, writing a dual plotted story that would in the end, merge together.

In case you're wondering why the first two stories were written about a year apart, the reason is this: after writing and posting this piece of creative non-fiction on Cedar Mountain, I got some pretty decent comments on it, which in turn inspired me to write a piece called "10 p.m." about a month later. I eventually got stuck and put it away for about 10 months, until I started writing the new story called "The Anointed One" and needed a short story so as to explain why a human being was in a cage (I will elaborate much later on the various synopsises that I came up with for each story). I dug this one out and about a day later, had a nice start to a sub-plot.

With that incredibly lengthy explanation out of the way, I present to you for your reading pleasure, my first incomplete long story with the overall title of "Persona Non Grata" and the sub title for the first installment, entitled, "Double D's".

Trust me, I will completely understand if you skip this week's and next week's installments, because they are re-posts. However, to get a basic understanding of the three installments after for that series, you will at the very least, need to read the second installment.

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Refreshingly...Original?

Originality is the bane of any creative individual's existence. No matter what you chosen medium, sometimes being original is a major pain in the but-tocks, and when it becomes a major pain in the but-tocks, you try anything and everything to cure it.

Oh sure, you can take the lazy way out, which if your chosen field is blogging, you can paste a couple of pictures to a blank screen, and viola, instant post.

Not.

Did you somehow forget to write a short blurb to the picture, so as not to leave your readers in the dark and make yourself look like an idiot? Of course you did. Which brings you back to square one.

Again.

So you sit quietly at your desk (or cubbyhole, or cube, or park bench, or credenza, or foyer, etc. etc. etc. etc.), staring at the wall, or in my case, a calendar (Winnie the Pooh, thank you very much), trying to refill that empty noggin with any useful tidbit of information that you can latch onto.

Eventually, after squeezing and poking, prodding and cajoling, and even applying the Valsalva maneuver, you come up with the following piece of originality.

A man is standing outside, leaning against a post and looking miserable. He nods at a passing co-worker, before turning and walking up the ramp to go back inside the building.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Once again, as you can plainly see (it's cliche time doncha know?), I'm scraping the bottom of a scuzzy sea barnacle infested barrel trying to come up with something original to write. It seems as of late, the more I get into writing my latest book (which in and of itself, is a very good thing), the more problems I have trying to come up with original content for the blog.

Funny how things fall into new places as you strive to improve your craft, be it writing stories or blog posts. The way I see it as it applies to me, if I try to improve one area, the other area has a tendency to show withdrawal symptoms, and vice versa. When I was blogging up a storm last summer (refresher: last summer I wrote about 30 posts out by hand, which took me from about mid-July to late October to use up), my writing output dropped considerably.

But once I started concentrating on my writing, it became a little harder to write good blog posts. Right now, my blog posts are/have been for the most part, pretty pedestrian and/or head scratching. To give you a f'r instance, this particular blog post would fall under the realm of head scratching (hence, the tag down below called "Brain Squeezins"), because although I wanted to write about originality being the bane of a creative person's existence, I also wanted to somehow dovetail the first part of this post into something about the problem of writing a graphic scene without being graphic. The problem with that, is how to write about it on this blog without completely turning people off.

So.

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge in writing a story about a woman who gets involved with the adult movie industry, is how to write the required sex scenes in such a way as to not turn off any potential agent (from what I understand and please correct me if I'm wrong, most agents will not handle material that contains even a whiff of hardcore. Softcore, yes. Hardcore, no) or potential publisher.

Obviously, if I didn't particularly care about who was receiving it on the other end, I would write it pretty much as graphic as humanly possible (my first book contains some pretty graphic sex scenes, some of which surprised even me). However, since I do care who receives it on the other end, I have spent quite a few hours while writing, trying to find that perfect balance between graphic description and appropriate word substitution for said graphic description.

For instance, to describe one of two set activities that all of those films feature, I wrote it like this: She loosened the strings to his bathing suit and took out his cannon. Giving it a half dozen gentle strokes to get it solid again, she raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth. Todd exhaled, took three steps in and carefully began to make passionate love to her mouth.

So I try to get the point across without sledgehammering the reader with details about whatever activity is going on at the given moment. More often than not, it seems to be working as I'm making a conscious effort not to turn this story into something hardcore, at least for the time being. Like I stated in a previous post, the story is written in such a way that it would take about a good hour to rewrite certain parts if required.

Originality.

Is it the bane of creative person's existence, or simply a case of sour grapes being uttered by people who don't have the mental strength to rise above the formulaic drivel that seems to pepper the vast wasteland that we call "The Arts"?

Friday, March 26, 2010

An Excellent Rebuttal To A Bad Article

As many of you are aware, I have a standing offer of free blog space for my friends and co-workers who might be interested in writing something but don't have an outlet for it. The other day I received an e-mail from Felix Rodriguez, a good co-worker of mine, who was gracious enough to give me permission to reprint it here.

I originally wrote a very nice review of his book "Dad, Me and Muhammad Ali" for my blog, and from time to time, he has sent me links to other book reviews and interviews that he has given. I would check out the links, then update that particular post so that other people could enjoy the links as well.

So when this latest e-mail came, I looked forward to reading it, because not only do I think Felix is a good writer, but he's very passionate about his subject, which is Muhammad Ali. The newspaper that he mentions, Friends Magazine, is a free local monthly.

In his own words, here is his very fine rebuttal to an article entitled "Great Champ Can Be A Royal Pain." His rebuttal is entitled, "Friends Can Be A Royal Pain."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is my response to a recent article titled “Great champ can be a royal pain.” Its unfortunate when the editor of Friends Magazine (a monthly free local newspaper) poorly describes why then Cassius Clay, Jr., changed his name to Muhammad Ali and fails to mention that Ali did not want to be known for his ancestors given slave name. What was wrong with that? While growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali witnessed racism firsthand even after winning the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal representing the United States. Ali was refused food service at a local restaurant because he was black. How would you feel Mr. Editor?

Shoulder up, left foot forward. Left jab, right cross.
The editor mentions Ali's refusal to fight for his country in Vietnam. Again, he failed to mention how Ali believed the war was against his religious beliefs. But more importantly, he was opposed to killing innocent people. Ali once said, “I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people...” As the war took its death toll on so many young American soldiers, the war became unpopular and Ali transformed into a hero for standing up for what he truly believed. Millions of college students across the country joined in Ali's sentiments. And what the editor also failed to highlight was the fact that Ali lost millions of dollars in boxing earnings for his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army.

Two lefts, head snap.
Fact check: in the article the editor notes that Ali's decision cost him four years in the ring. Wrong, it was three and a half years. His last official fight before being banned from boxing was against Zora Folley on March 22, 1967 in New York, NY, and he returned to the ring on October 26, 1970 against "The Great White Hope" Jerry Quarry.

The article continues and this is when it hit me hard, but I am not going down. I am dazed and a bit confused, but I immediately gather my balance and composure. I bob and weave. The editor writes 'Ali was honored in the Brass City recently led by the Waterbury Police Activity League. Its tribute to Ali is contrary to the mission of promoting family values exemplify, which the boxing champ did not embody.' Are you kidding me? Seriously, where have you been? Ali is compassionate, giving (literally giving away thousands of dollars) and a timeless role model.

What’s my name sucka?
He adds ‘Ali’s personal life was a wreck. He married four times and had seven daughters and two sons. Two of the children from extramarital relationships.’ No, you did not go there.

I am doing the Ali shuffle now.
As human beings we all have our shortcomings. My mother was never married. I grew up in a fatherless home with seven siblings. Does that mean our life was a wreck? And the editor failed to mention that one of Ali's children is adopted. He embraced a child who was in need of a family and love, which Ali is full of. Ali loves his kids. In his book “The Soul Of A Butterfly” Ali admits to not being a good parent. He wrote ‘I was not a good parent as I wanted to be –as my children deserved.’ Ali continued, ‘I tried to be a great boxer and a good parent, too. I had instant feedback on my success as a boxer. Often, parents don’t really know if what they are doing is right or wrong until their child is grown and it is too late to change any of the decisions. Whatever my failings as a parent, I am very proud of all of my children. It wasn’t easy for them to make their own way with such a controversial and public father.’

Two rights, head snap.
Ali had his flaws. After all he is human. He is an inspiration not only to his own children, but for millions of people across the globe. He made people believe in themselves and encouraged them to be as great as they can be. He taught his children by example not to bow to an unjust system.

Stick and move. Stick and move.
Lastly, the editor writes that Ali toyed with the "Lion of Flanders" Jean-Pierre Coopman, in Puerto Rico in 1975 and states that Ali displayed his meanness when there was no reason to torture his hapless opponent. It's boxing! What did you expect for Ali to do? Hold his hand and sing Kumbayah? Ali said it best, "It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I just beat up people."

Get up! Get up! I am the Greatest!
Mr. Editor, you're entitled to your opinion and I respect that, but I refuse to stand idly by when someone even if it’s a friend bashes my hero who is now a silent warrior. He may not be able to verbally defend himself, but he has an army of followers who will happily stand up for him because he is still the People's Champ!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Day At The Office (5)

Last, but not least, is part five of FSG's latest short, "A Day At The Office".

Unfortunately, no lead-in paragraphs, simply because if I did that, there would be no story left to post.

Also, this is a first for Cedar's Mountain. Out of 410+ posts that have been written by me or by someone else, this has been the first one where the total word count for the post is less than 40 words, not counting this tiny paragraph. If you include this tiny paragraph, you get 92 words.

Monday, March 22, 2010

You Know It's Springtime When....

Disclaimer: This post is dripping with 100% testosterone, and as such, might be offensive to my genuinely warm female clientele that I honestly appreciate visiting my blog each and every day. If you should desire to offer a rebuttal to my paean to the feminine form, please post one in the comment section, and I will be more than happy to feature the non-duplicated points about the male mystique in a future post.

1} The spaghetti strap dresses (coupled with the absolute lack of essential support) make their triumphant return so as to once again bring the alpha male to knees, blithering like an idiot.

2} The semi-tight t-shirt, with or without essential support underneath (and yes, you can tell), also makes its triumphant return, so as to make the non-connected alpha male stop, stare, and possible get his face slapped or punched.

3} Jean cutoffs that show off both the upper leg and the soft lower backside reappear, so as to make any alpha male from the age of 13 upwards, want to follow, drool and realize that they have no chance of a snowball in Hell of ever getting out of the batters box.

4} The plunging neckline that shows off a woman's essential assets in such a way that causes the alpha male to stare until his eyes pop....and walk around on the second level of the average mall looking down over the rail because....

5}...the plunging neckline that is usually associated with the tight t-shirt, thus creating the ultimate cleavage shot, makes its annual return.

6} The tank top also reappears, along with the tube top, so as to show off the incredible artwork that the young lady might have bestowed on the chest area.

7} Not only did the spaghetti strap dress make its triumphant return, but so did its blatantly sexual sibling, the spaghetti top, which apparently has found a new home on those who happened to be wickedly top heavy.

8} And last but not least, the torn jeans. Yes, jeans that are torn in such a way that leaves nothing to the imagination has made its ugly return as well.

Yay tho' the feminine form is something to admire, to put on a pedestal, to worship from afar, all alpha males know that like it or not, we will always be twisted around the dainty and manicured finger of whatever feminine form we choose to worship.....and lovin' every single blessed minute of it.

And for those of you who don't think I've done this before, please check out here and here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shooting Suburbia (4): The Last Vestiges of Winter

Howdy do!

Today's installment of Shooting Suburbia will feature the last vestiges of Old Man Winter, plus, if you can believe it, a piece of flash fiction.

To refresh your memory, or if you've just recently stumbled across my blog in the past ten months or so, something brand new, about this time last year, I posted a small piece of fiction called "Saturday" (for those of you who are curious, you will find it stashed under the link Medium Shorts). The story was about me running my morning errands one wintry Saturday morning.

Anyways, while I was taking random photographs this time around, I apparently managed to shoot a series of pics that told about 85% of the story. So in addition to taking another look of my local town, you get to read a semi-badly written micro flash version of my short story entitled "Saturday".

Enjoy.

Shooting Suburbia 4

Note: For those readers who weren't/aren't able to access the link, you will find the montage in the upper left corner of this blog.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Day At The Office (4)

David picked up his keyboard and shook it over Fred's lap until it was devoid of fingers and thumbs. Placing it back in front of his monitor, he then stood up, brushed off the remaining digits, and walked over to Fred. Sticking his finger in his face, he said, "Did I not tell you to show me a little respect? I am not some wet behind the ears payroll clerk. Contrary to my youthful appearance, I have been with this corporation for about thirty years and the absolute last thing I'm going to put up with is being disrespected by someone who has zippo for experience. Now, do you or do you not have the justification for overtime?"

"I told you I work in Accounts Receivable and I don't need to justify squat to you!"

Click here for the next queasy installment

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ethereal Beauty Of A Sunset...

...is always constantly evolving. From a glorious orange spiced whiteness to a rich deep hue of purple and all of the colors of the rainbow in between, a sunset can be considered the ultimate change.

Whereas a changing sunset can bring a small measure of peace and tranquility, the same cannot be said for the individual. For the individual, change can often be a harbinger of unpleasant things to come. Most people, therefore, usually do not like change, no matter how big or how small that change might be.

The creation of this post was due largely in part, to this thoughtful post written by LL Cool Joe, with the remaining balance due to a stock comment I usually make whenever someone writes a post with a similar theme. I thought that for this time around, instead of taking up valuable real estate on someone else's blog, I should use the highly dormant space on mine.

So.

My stock comment about change usually involves a variation of this: If I didn't get laid off from work, I wouldn't be here posting this comment on your wonderful blog.

Now I know you're probably scratching your head and asking the screen, "How can being laid off from work be a positive outcome?"

In all honesty, for the first couple of years, it certainly didn't feel like a such a positive outcome. I was out of work for six months and took such a major financial hit that I spent almost two years digging myself out of a five digit hole. By the time I was able to stick my head out of that hole, it was early 2006 and I was finally back to being financially secure.

However, after experiencing yet another serious change of fortune in my life, I decided to pick up pen and paper (and computer) and start writing. By the spring of 2007, I was busy working on a story that I thought for sure was going to make people sit up and take notice {HA!!!}, when I slowly came to a creeping halt. Why? I wrote myself into a corner and didn't know how to get out.

Enter the chat rooms.

Being stuck in that corner, I decided one day to check out my local paper's website, and after a few minutes of surfing, found a story to comment on and afterwords, clicked on a link that brought me here. For the next 15 months, I roamed the chat rooms making dozens of friends and a myriad of enemies.

In May 2008, a blogger friend of mine, suggested that I move my writings and musings to the blog world, since in the blog world I wouldn't be at the mercies of other people who would object and try to censor my writings.

From that particular point, there was no turning back. I nurtured and cultivated my blog, until it grew into what you see here in front of you today. I also went exploring the vast blogging universe and was able to connect with all of you good people and your fine blogs.

And because I was able to connect and spend time with you and your fine blogs, it inspired me to create a blog that would be a new home for my short stories, which a few weeks ago, celebrated its one year anniversary.
~
In essence, that one horrible change I experienced in 2003, set in motion a series of smaller changes that seven years later has me writing this post about changes.
~
Change.
~
No matter how bad you may think it is, there will always be a glorious sunset patiently waiting to warm your spirit, refreshen your soul, and make you feel that no matter what nasty little screwball life may throw at you, you'll always bang out the winning hit.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Line 21

I have a dual alarm clock.

Which is to say I first wake up in the morning somewhere between four and four thirty in the morning. Then a little while later, I wake up for good at five thirty. In between, I fluctuate between the real world and world of dreams.

Bear with me on this as there is a point to be had.

During that fluctuation, I often have moments of true clarity about the various people, situations and things that make up my day-to-day existence on this blue marble. Doesn't matter what the issue may be, because more often than not, I can come up with anywhere from a partial to a complete solution to the issue at hand.

As of late, the fluctuations have been about writing, specifically, my blog and the unfinished novel that I started last summer. I managed to solve the blog issue by rearranging my posting schedule (see here as to why), and as for the unfinished novel, I decided to put that on the shelf, simply because what I have to write next for it (a wake, a eulogy, a suicide and tying up all the loose ends), involves the type of emotional investment that I simply don't have the stomach for at the moment.

Enter my personal fluctuation zone.

While I was thinking about what to write for my other blog one early Saturday morning, I had a story idea pop into my head. The idea was about a woman who needed to raise money to pay off a debt. It wasn't much to go on, so I spent the rest of that Saturday turning the idea over in my head trying to come up with a way to make it plausible.

Come Sunday morning, specifically, Super Bowl Sunday, I had a moment of true clarity. How clear was it? When I finally woke up that morning, not only did I have a way to make it plausible, but I had an entire outline mentally written from beginning to end.

After I got done doing the blog thing, I got busy writing the story. The first thing that I came up with was the title of the story, which is the title of this post. The way I came up with the title was pretty simple. That particular weekend, I was doing my taxes, and on the 1040, line 21 is where you would put other earned income that doesn't fit anywhere else on the front.

Once I got the title, the rest of the story started pouring out in big chunks (at least 1K per day). As we speak, I am currently sitting at 31K for a word count, with another 19K at the very least to go. I did mention on my Facebook page what the story was about, which generated a few interesting comments from Ms. WW, and now I feel comfortable enough to clue everyone else in on what it is that's got me excited about writing for the first time in four and half years.

1) The basic idea was that a woman needed to earn money because she was in debt. The plot: Jeannie Mitchell is behind on her payments to her loan shark, and her uncle had graciously agreed to give her a six day extension to come up with the $2,000 so as to make herself current. She meets a man in the park who works for a movie production company. By the end of the day, Ms. Mitchell has decided to get a job in the adult movie industry.

2) Sub plot 1: Jeannie has a symbiont named Aissa (pronounced "Eye-sha") who is her sister/confidant/guardian in this little shindig, who helps her confront her hesitancy and self doubt. She talks to her either in her mind or face-to-face via a reflection in a mirror.

3) Sub plot 2: Jeannie hooked up with the proverbial boy-next-door, who hasn't a clue on what Jeannie has decided to work at/for.

4) Sub plot 3: Since Jeannie is able to talk to Aissa either in her mind or face-to-face, and Aissa vice versa, I decided to through a swerve into the mix by having Aissa change places with Jeannie, so that she might experience a littl of what Jeannie is experiencing.

5) Now, most of you may think that it is virtually impossible to write a story about a woman becoming an adult movie actress and showing exactly what it is that she's doing, without becoming sexually explicit with the details (see here for a bad example). Guess what gang, I did just that. I managed to write three movie scenes that goes into normal detail about what's involved, without being sexually explicit about it. I approached each scene as a basic movie shoot and wrote it from that viewpoint.

6) Language: because I chose not to become sexually explicit/graphic with the content (but if/when I can land a agent/publisher who may want that, everything can be easily fixed with a good re-write), I had to tidy up the language to a certain degree. For instance, instead of using the typical noun to describe a woman's butt, I used the word "butt". I also toned down the overall language in the story, so that not every three sentences is being planted with the proverbial F-bomb.

Right now as of the day of this post, I am in the home stretch. I managed to peak out at Wednesday, so now I'm working on the second day of the movie shoot (Thursday), with the climax (no pun intended) set for Friday evening, when Jeannie has to meet up with uncle and pay him off. Plus, I have to resolve not only the issue with her potential new boyfriend, Geoff, but also with her symbiont Aissa.

So my friends, this is my current writing project, and for a change of pace, it acknowledges both the economic realities of the day, and the personal mores of the individual who has to make that difficult choice in living with the economic realities of the day.

And just for ha-ha's, here is a question for you: When do you have your moments of true clarity? Do they come in the wee hours of the morning, or do they come during your personal down time?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Day At The Office (3)

While he waited for David to finish whatever it was he was doing and start talking again, Fred had an attack of the munchies. So he began searching through the pile of digits that were sitting on the desk, looking for meaty portion in which to quench his appetite. About a minute later he found a particularly meaty pinky that he could snack on.

Carefully taking it out, he scraped some of the grime off the skin, before taking a bottle of water out of his pocket. Holding the pinky over the lip of the tray, he then unscrewed the cap with his teeth and poured a little bit of the water over the pinky to clean it off. He took out a small packet of mustard, opened it, and squirted the contents over the pinky. He was about to pop in his mouth, when he saw that David was staring at him rather intently.

Click here for the latest installment

If you dare......BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Growing Irrelevance Of The UFCW

Disclaimer: I was going to nuke this post and move up a post from the 12th to publish, because I thought that after they voted to ratify the contract on the 7th, this post would be somewhat irrelevant. However, after reading this story from my local liberal newspaper The Hardly Current, I decided to go ahead with the publishing of this post.


Yowza.

After taking a much deserved weekend siesta to recover from the stresses of the week (job interview and burnout), we are back with our first post on the new schedule, and boy is it gonna be a good one. Why, you may ask?

Well, go ahead and ask.

Well, I'll tell you why.

Today's post is about one of my favorite topics, labor unions. And one of my least favorite private sector labor unions is the UFCW aka the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, which is the union of choice in the retail grocery industry.

Presently, they are in contract negotiations (again) with New England's largest retail grocer, Stop & Shop (owned by Royal Ahold). And just like last time in 2007, contract negotiations have turned increasingly bitter. How? Well for one thing, the myopic rank and file have voted to strike. For another, the union is whining about the company's latest contract proposal.

Let's take a look at the two main sticking points that the greedy UFCW has managed to convince their rank & file lemmings...err....members is beneath contempt.

1} Wages: The last known proposal (as of 2/26/10) was that the company was offering no raises in the first year, and only modest increases (or pittances according to the union) in the second and third year. Now, one should note that part time workers are already paid about $1 more than the industry average and that full timers are paid about $4 more than the industry average.

The union says that this is an insult to their hard working brothers and sisters.

Let's look at this from a point of view supplied by Joe State Worker who actually knows something about having to live in the real world. Say Joe State Worker, what say you about this?
`
"Well sir, I see it like this. My co-workers and I are in the middle of a two year wage freeze. Ya see, the state absolutely loves to balance the budget on us workers, and what better way to get what you want than to threaten wholesale layoffs. So....not only do we have a wage freeze, but the cost of living that we might be getting three months after the fact, will be eaten up by the state. Why? Well sir, it seems that the state is running out of money to pay for all the current retiree's health insurance and pensions, so they came up with the brilliant idea of taking an extra 3% out every paycheck connected to an employee with less than five years of service of aggregate service and every new hire as well. Pluuuuuuuus...the state is looking for even more wage concessions again. And you can't forget the seven unpaid furlough days we're giving back for the next three fiscal years. So pardon me all to hell if I don't have any sympathy for you and your rank and file lemmings."

Another key point is the health insurance. It seems that GASP!!! Stop & Shop want to make THE HORROR!!! employees pay an astounding 10% of their premiums, which works out to an extra $4-$11 per full time employee.

Once again, the union says this is an insult to their hard working fellow brothers and sisters.

What say you on this, Mr. Joe State Worker?

"Well sir, I see it like this. My insurance goes up at the very least 5% every six months. Repeat, every six months. So the company wants to make their employees actually pay for their health insurance. If the employees actually knew what the company was paying for health insurance premiums, they would be singing a different tune. Health insurance premiums are one of the biggest expenses that an employer has in their budget. On the average, they pay anywhere from 70-85% of the total premium for each and every employee. In the case of the state, that works out on the average, to about $10K per employee. That's per employee people. Considering the state has on the average about 48,000 employees, you can see where a big chunk of budget money goes to on a yearly basis."

So what you have here, is a union in denial of the current economic recession that most of the country is going through. Regardless of whether or not the company can afford it, they want to maintain the status quo, and the status quo is raises and no health insurance premiums.

And by the way, a couple of days prior to this post, the union decided to employ the Richie Phillips strategy of negotiating. For those of you who don't remember, Richie Phillips used to be head of the baseball umpires union, and decided to use as a negotiating strategy, mass resignations. Suffice to say, that seriously backfired, as baseball was able to reconstitute the umpire union with people who were more grounded in reality. In this case, the union has announced that it will go on strike if it doesn't get the contract they want from the company.

In a nutshell, you have a company that wants to control costs in a very competitive industry, and a union that is unable to understand the harsh economic realities of the day. If they're looking for sympathy from the general public on this, all they'll get is one big fat giant raspberry.

Hey Mr. Union President sir? That ginormous sucking sound you hear, is your union lemmings being replaced by people who need a job more than they do. 'Course, you don't have to worry about your lifetime job now, now do you?

Guess what gang? That contract they agreed to, was basically the one they rejected back on February 26th. Go figure.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Got Suggestions?

Hey there.

I spent the other day during my break time at work, writing some free form flash fiction, and I would like your suggestions on where I should go with it, because I think it's a nifty beginning to a short story that I could (hopefully) post on FSG. The last nifty idea I came up with is currently blowing up in my face and could wind up being the first thing I start querying with, as opposed to my current W.i.P. that is sitting foresaken and forlorn next to my computer on the printer.

I don't have any kind of working title for this particular flash yet, so any suggestions you can come up on that would help too. In any event, here is my little piece of flash.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A solitary figure walks with a sense of urgency through the dreariness of the weather beaten forest. Wearing spiked boots, a green & brown striped dress that stops just above the knees, and a black vest, she is dressed not to impress, but for comfort. Unfortunately, that potential comfort zone was left behind when Neptune decided to take a day trip to the heavens.

A loud clap of thunder brings her journey to a halt, and a concentrated cloudburst cements that stationary spot. By the time it finishes some three minutes later, she finds herself knee deep in Mother Nature.

Taking a deep breath, she stuck two fingers in her mouth and blew a long, low whistle. When she'd finished, she crossed her arms and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

By the time someone came rambling by, she had steam rising from her head and flames shooting out from her split ends.

"Milady," said the horseman, as he scrambled down from his horse...and fell face first into the muck.

She closed her eyes and the horseman, who somehow managed to turn his head sideways, gasped in horror as he saw her split ends rise up above her head.

"NO!"

(c)2010 by GBMJr. All rights reserved

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Day At The Office (2); Flashing Georgie's Shorts

A two fer!

1} The second installment of A Day At The Office is now presented for your reading pleasure.

The action thus far: David, our intrepid payroll guy, is busy solving a fellow employee's paycheck issue. He's already gotten irritated by the blood stains that the man had left behind, and is becoming even more irritated by the overflowing tray of stray body parts.

We pick up the action with David questioning the man about the overflowing tray of body parts.

Click here for part 2

2} Today marks the one year anniversary of Flashing Georgie's Shorts. By today, I mean exactly 365 days ago, on March 4, 2009, I opened up a short story blog with this particular story entitled Minutia. Fifty-two weeks later, I am making my 50th post for that blog.

For those who can access it, here is a brief history on Flashing Georgie's Shorts, courtesy of a brand new Blogger feature called "Pages", of which a new link about Cedar's Mountain was also created, which can be found directly underneath the "About Me" profile link.

I thank one and all for helping me make FSG what it is today: a permanent home for some of my funkier flash fiction and my medium length short stories.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mastering The Art Of Recalibration

Sometimes we get so busy doing the multiple things that keeps our inner beings properly functioning, that we often don't see when our inner being is throwing out bad jujus to let us know that something is seriously out of whack.

That's when Fearless Leader steps in to say, "Time now, for a little recalibration."

It's only after when Fearless Leader utters that fearsome word do we realize that the tether, formerly slack, has now gone taut and has yanked us backwards some two hundred feet, dragging us through the muck, the dreck, the filth and the ooze that our inner being is now hemorrhaging.

You look up into the eyes of Fearless Leader, and you hear him say, "Listen you, why have you been ignoring the warning signs. Didn't your inner being tell you something was seriously wrong?"

"Ummm...I don't know?"

"You don't know. Tell me, out of all things that you've been doing on a daily basis, what has been the one thing that you been having a problem with in doing?"

You furrow your brow for a minute as tiny rivulets of sweat begin to drip down the side of your forehead. Suddenly, a light bulb goes supernova and smoke pours out your ears as you finally understand what your inner being has been trying to pound through that thick skull of yours.

"Yes, that's right, laughing boy. So, don't you think it's time to take a step back and let that rubber band unwind just enough to relieve the pressure that's been building up for the past month or so?"

You take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and then you reluctantly drop your head in shame.

"Glad to hear that we're in total agreement on this issue. So, my prescription to you is this: Take some time off to recalibrate. I don't want to see you back here no earlier than March 4th. That means a complete break. No surfing the blogs, no commenting on other blogs, and no moderating the comments left on your blog. Trust me, your friends will understand."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My good friends and good readers.

I originally wrote this post as a prelude to taking a short vacation due to blogger burnout, physical burnout, mental burnout and just plain ordinary all purpose garden variety burnout.

However, after finally coming up with one last original post to close out the month of February (and believe you me, it was like the molar extraction I had done some three weeks ago, it was just that painful), I revisited the idea of taking a short vacation from the Cyber World.

After doing some contemplative soul searching, I decided for the time being, to cut down from posting every other day, to just posting three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I will finish out the week by making two final posts on Thursday and Friday, then take a long weekend siesta before starting on the new schedule March 8th.

I figure with the reduced posting schedule, it will reduce the current blogging burnout I'm going through, and quite possibly brighten my mood, my attitude, and motivate me enough to stop lurking on your wonderful blogs and to start commenting on your wonderful blogs.

Eventually, I will get back to normal sinus rhythm, but for now, this is something that I really need to do.

Thanks for understanding, thanks for visiting both Cedar's Mountain for the past 21 months and Flashing Georgie's Shorts over the past 12 months, and thanks for simply being you.

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-16 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com