Sunday, April 29, 2012

Take Your Child To Work Day

This past Thursday was "Take Your Child To Work Day" at my job. Originally, way back when, it was developed as "Take Your Daughter To Work Day", but it got quickly established that reverse discrimination was being practiced, thus the change was made to make it all-inclusive.

Against my better judgment, I volunteered to help out with this particular version, and the first thing that was asked of me was if Jenelle could perform. I said, "I'm pretty sure she could do it."

And after discussing with my mother, wife and daughter (gotta remember, with my daughter's extracurricular activities, I'm just Mr. Open Wallet), I was able to say, "Yes." to the request.

So, I brought my daughter Jenelle in with me to spend the day with me, sort of. I say "sort of" because it was mostly activities sandwiched between three speakers, a tour and a special guest speaker.

After all was said and done, I discovered one very salient fact: I still don't like being around children between the ages of 7 & 13.

However, the day was not a complete waste of time. Like I said, Jenelle performed her latest dance competition routine:

For which she wound up receiving a basket containing a stuffed bear, a $10 gift card for I-Tunes, a small manicure set, a puzzle book, and a expandable string bag that she gave to a co-worker's young daughter.

And got her photo taken with local t.v. celebrity Scott Haney. I will say this about Scott Haney, he was a very gracious and very funny speaker. Within five minutes of appearance, which lasted about an hour, he said he would take questions about anything and everything that pertained to him.

Now, this is also included a few questions about his personal life, such as the fact that two days prior to his appearance, he broke up with his partner of 19 years, which if you can believe, was tackily announced on the Hartford Courant website. He graciously answered the children's questions about it, so to speak, then moved on.

Anyways, here is a solo photo of Jenelle with Scott and three group photos with our speakers of the day (Jenelle is on the far right in all three). Alas, I did not get the opportunity to get my photo taken with him.

And that, my friends, is the highlight of my week at work and at home.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Judging Me By My Appearance

A very good friend of mine, Gemini Girl, is back at school (online that is) pursuing her degree in business management. One of the classes she has to take for the current semester is business writing, and last month, she had to write an essay based on an article written by Brent Staples called, "Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Ability To Alter Public Space".

When she had finished the first draft, she thought enough of me to ask my opinion on it. I said I would be more than happy to offer my two cents worth, which I did. I offered some light critique and thoughtful suggestions, and I asked her once she had gotten a grade on it, could I post it on my blog.

She said yes, and so my friends, here is the finished product, of which it garnered a solid B.

Since 1998, I have been dressing in jeans and sneakers to work. No one ever said anything about any dress code, so I never changed into business attire. My job as a Payroll Associate does have a pretty right to it, right? You would think I did dress business attire, right? Nope, not at all. Most of my co-workers do dress up, but not me. I was never the girly type, or into clothes as much as my friends growing up. I didn't realize how on my job, people thought I was unable to ever wear proper business attire.

One day, our unit received an invitation to have lunch with the Commissioner the following day. And everyone was so excited about how they were going to dress. Then the excitement stopped and everyone started looking at me. I guess they were starting to wonder if I had proper dress apparel for the luncheon. I received so many offers to take me shopping to find a suit, or offers of someone telling me that they had something for me to wear. I declined by saying, "No thank you, I can find something.", only for them to come back and say, "You sure?"

You see, I do dress up for church, for weddings and most of the time I am dressed up for any night occasion. I never felt the need to dress at work, since I don't interact with many employees or customers on my job. Most of my work is done over the phone or the computer.

People are surprised when they come to my desk and the first thing they say is, "Oh Gemini, I passed you in the hall all the time." Now if I was in business attire, I wonder if they would know it was me on the phone they pass by every day. I had one lady just come out and say, "I thought you worked in the mail room the way you're dressed." Wow, I laughed so hard on the inside but just responded with, "Really?" and walked away. I am used to the stares or people trying to figure out what section I belong to.

So now the luncheon was the next day and the close of a business day for us all. I still never mentioned what I was wearing. I could hear the whispers and the giggles while I was sitting at my desk. Which really didn't shock me, but hey, these people were supposed to be my friends. I laughed with a few friends that knew I wouldn't just walk in with jeans and sneakers, because they had invited me out before and my attire was for the occasion.

Now it's time for the luncheon, and I felt really excited to surprise my co-workers and as my children call them, "haters". It's funny how people say good morning when you're dressed in a suit. I guess they think you're important and don't want to be rude. Even the security guard was caught off, as he asked me for my ID 'cause he acted like he never seen me before. When I showed him my ID, he laughed, then said, "Wow, you look so different when you clean up." What was that suppose to mean? I looked a certain way with jeans and sneakers; I felt I was the same person.

As I got closer to my desk, my co-workers were all coming in one by one. Each walked by my desk just to look and see how I was dressed. Of course I had on my sneakers, as wearing heels all day was not going to happen. But I did have them under my desk.

There were so many different reactions and comments coming my way all day. Some I laughed at and some I didn't even address, because those comments made me angry, and for them to judge me by my choice of clothes was their hang up, not mines.

By the way, I rocked the suit and heels, but right after the luncheon, I removed those clothes and put back on my sneakers and jeans. I wanted to be comfortable for me, not them. I just learned that people really do judge others on their appearance. No matter suit or jeans, the person in them is still the same person.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No Vacancy For More Words

At long last, I can grace this blog with a writing update.

For days and weeks, I longed and yearned for enough tangible and delectable nuggets of writing related goodness that I could share with everyone, and finally, after digging high, digging low and borrowing an oinker who could not only sniff out truffles but could let loose with enough methane gas to lay waste to the countryside, I have a steaming plate of delicious yumminess.


A nondescript man steps out from the shadows, grabs the blogger by the lapels, jacks him up and shakes him vigorously. After shaking him senseless, he throws him on a gurney and shoves him out of the room. He then snaps his fingers and another blogger walks in. He motions for him to sit, wags his finger in his face and walks out.

Hi there!

We've actually had a semi-productive week writing-wise, so sit a spell, take your shoes off, crack open a cold one, and let me regale you with G.B.'s Slightly Improved Adventures In Writing.

"We spent the better part of the weekend adding a few hundred more words to my latest trunk novel, and let me tell you, it wasn't easy. For those of you who are writers, or even those who are not, did you ever have one of those stories/projects where you really didn't want to work on it, but you forced yourself to, simply because you don't like leaving things half done? Well, that's how I feel with this trunk novel. I'm forcing myself to complete it, not only because I don't want to leave it half done, but I'm tired of starting projects and then leaving them uncompleted. Plus, I have a few other projects that I really want to work on, but before I could turn my attention to them, I really want to get this over and done with.

"So because I really want to get this over with, I'm pulling out all the stops in that this thing will have so many swerves that it will be almost impossible to make sense out of the thing. Let me tell you, it's not easy to write bad on purpose. I used to be able to do it, but now I can't. I take too much pride in my writing to simply write something crappy."

The replacement blogger presses the stop button on his I-Pod, then shuffles the play list, then preses the play button.

"I also got bored, and as you know, when I get bored, bad things happen. In this case, it was doing a little exploration of Magic Cat Press. I mentioned previously that the website didn't look like it's been updated in quite sometime. Well, the same can be said for the owner/editor's own personal website. It looks like it hasn't been updated in the same time frame as well.

"So after doing a little exploring of the website, I found a contact link on it. I wrote a short and polite e-mail asking about the status of this little project of hers (among other things) and sent it off. So far, I have not received any answer, nor did I receive a bounce back. I guess no news is good news in one sense, but in the other, no news is definitely cause for concern. I'm kind of stuck between a rock and hard place with my story. I can't get confirmation if its been accepted and I can't find out if the anthology will actually be published."

The replacement blogger again presses the stop button on his I-Pad and removes the headphones. He purses his lips for a moment, then pulls out his cell phone and dials a number. Several seconds later, someone answers.

"To wrap things up, I have this little tidbit about my upcoming novel. Got an e-mail from the marketing department asking me if I could sent them a blurb or the synopsis for my novel to them. Seems that even though I have the gift of gab on the blog and in my stories, I don't have the same thing when it comes to elaborating my ideas to others when it matters.

"Like cover art forms. Apparently I didn't say enough, so they wanted to get something from me so as to get a better idea on what the novel is about. Which really does makes sense. I mean, if you're going to create a cover the captures the real essence of the book, the writer should be able to convey that essence to you. I may have failed on the first attempt, but I certainly hope I can pass on the second attempt. So it's possible that sometime in the very near future, I may have something solid about the book to show everyone."

The nondescript man again walks out from the shadows and taps the replacement blogger on the shoulder. After shaking his hand on a job well done, he slaps a couple of c-notes into his hands and sends him on his way. Once the replacement blogger leaves, the man pulls out a remote control and presses a button. Almost instantly, a super large screen drops down. Smiling, he presses another button and a video quickly pops up.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Stand Corrected About Spring

A few weeks ago, I lamented over the fact that it looked like Spring wouldn't be sprung on the mountain this year. I would now like to state for the record that I have been happily corrected.

Moving in the same vein of resurrecting my adult blog, I am now happy to inform my readers that I blew off the Playboy dust bunnies and have resurrected Shooting Suburbia. Today's post will kick off a new sub-chapter, as we introduce everyone to the world of cheesy video shooting.

So please, come join me across the street, literally and figuratively, as we make a genuine attempt at giving everyone a taste of Spring in my neighborhood, and thus put a capper on what has been for me, for the first time this year, a very relaxing weekend.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Legally Stupid

I thought I would end this slight downer of a blog week by posting a funny-blast-from-my-past e-mail. I say blast from the past, because this e-mail came to me in the last century (2002) and even some 10 years later, I find it still incredibly hilarious.


Most of the country has heard of the Darwin Awards given annually to the individual who do the most for mankind by removing themselves from the gene pool.

Now, we have the Stella Awards given to the individuals who win the most frivolous lawsuits ever. The Stella Awards are named in honor of 81 year old Stella Liebeck (surely deceased), the woman who won $2.9 million for spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself. The following are candidates for the award:

1} December 1997: K. W. of Clarmont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a nightclub when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. W. was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.

2} December 1997: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay A. C. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. C threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

3} October 1999: J. W. of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The dog was on a chain in its owner's fenced-in yard at the time. Mr. W. was also in the fenced-in yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog may have been provoked by Mr. W. who, at the time, was repeatedly shooting it with a pellet gun.

4} October 1998: T.D. of Bristol, Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able get the garage door to go up, because the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't reenter the house because the door connected the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation. Mr. D. found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found in the garage and a large bag of dry dog food. Mr. D sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation cause him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of one half million dollars.

5} June 1998: 19 year old C.T. of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. T apparently didn't notice that there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

6} January 2000: K.R. of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle, tripping over a toddler who was running amok inside a furniture store. The owners were understandably surprise at the verdict, considering that the misbehaving little fellow was Ms. R's son.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

That Blog....That Blog....That Blog

Not much in the way of a writing update today: I'm still plugging away on my latest project as I'm really determined to get this thing done and put away so I can work on a few older stories that are more in line with what I'd recently sold. No news on either the few writing contests I'd entered or the horror anthology that is supposed to be published by this particular publisher, but if you explore the website, you'll see it hasn't been updated in about several months, so I'm not really holding my breath on that particular thing crystalizing into something concrete. However, I might go nuclear about it in May.

So with that out of the way, we move on to the purpose of this post, which is to announce a brand new post for my new and improved adult oriented blog, "It's Always Saturday In Suburbia".

Now this post is not like the usual cannon fodder that has graced that blog in the past. This one is a bit more personal, almost creative non-fiction one might say.

Last Friday, I had alluded to having a brutal week due to family crisis which in turn had prevented me from writing a normal blog post.

The post that you're about to read at my other blog, is the closest that anyone will ever get for an explanation as to why I had that brutal week to begin with. I am still incredibly angry because of what happened and it will unfortunately take me a very, very long time before I can come to terms with not only the entire episode, but with a few people involved with it as well.

However, please be assured that I will do my damnedest not to let my anger over this unfortunate incident bleed into my blogging. Will it bleed into my writing? Absolutely. But it will not take root here, that I can promise you.

So for those of you who can, please follow me next door to read Tuesday's installment entitled, "An Open Letter To An Ingrate".

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Always Saturday In Suburbia

I got bored the other day, and more often than not, that usually means I do one of two things:

1} I perform my duties as a writer.
2} I perform my duties as a blogger.

Since I wasn't quite in the mood to write, I decided to blog. However, being chest deep in the throes of familia chaos since the night before Easter left me woefully unprepared to blog about something, I decided to do the next best thing.

I tidied up my blogs.

For this one, I tweaked the appearance by eliminating a few links and shuffling a few widgets around. In other words, nothing that would severely traumatize you the reader.

However, I got to thinking about my adult oriented blog. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the blog needed a severe overhaul. So overhaulin' I did go.

I cleaned up the appearance and made it more user friendly, but I didn't go so far as to change the template or the address. Instead, I went as far as not only changing the title of the blog but changing the purpose of the blog so that it would more accurately reflect my current state of being, which for the moment, is in a severe state of flux.

The new title of the blog is called It's Always Saturday In Suburbia, which to me is a more accurate barometer of what most people do on the weekend, which is recovering from the trials and tribulations of their Monday thru Friday existence in the stupidest way possible.

I also changed up the blog description as well, because quite frankly, the other one wasn't really doing it for me. So the new blog description is thus:

Where Patience Is A Sin, Bad Language Is The Norm, And A Bald Moment Is A Thing Of Beauty

The last major change that I did for the blog, was to change the purpose of the blog. No longer would it be strictly a home for my stories, with the occasional rant thrown in for good measure. Now it would be a home for some of the more pointed rants that I don't feel comfortable putting on the main blog, which is as you know, is basically PG-13.

Hopefully, this new version of my adult blog will serve a dual purpose: One, a place where I can really let loose without worrying about whether or not someone would find what I have to say offensive; and two, a place where I can possibly discover new topics to eventually explore on my main blog.

Or not.

I'm not sure what the future holds for Cedar's Mountain, but I'm hoping that by making these changes to my adult blog, it will somehow kick start me into writing new stuff for this blog, which after almost four years, it's quite possible that this blog has become, shall we say, a little stale.

In any event, look for a new post this week on "It's Always Saturday In Suburbia".

Friday, April 13, 2012

Respect Is A Dirty Word

I'm in the midst of an incredibly brutal week family-wise and thus not able to come up with an original blog post. Therefore, I thought I would pull out an old post from 2008 to share with all of you. I must warn you though, that the language is a little bit colorful and thus might be offensive to certain readers. Also, while the sentiment expressed when this was originally written was very true then, some four years later that sentiment has done a tight 180. With that being said, please enjoy this very, very old blast from the past.

Why is it that a seven letter noun/verb that describes 1} a characteristic; 2} esteem; 3} state of being admired and 4} thoughtfulness, such an incredibly hard thing to do?

It's not that hard to give. Once given, the recipient can be eternally grateful for the earning. It signifies that you've noticed that this person is willing to go above and beyond what their job/situation calls for on a consistent basis, and that you truly appreciate the hard work that person did for you.

In every port of call that I've made in my state career, I had earned everyone's respect for the work I did and accomplished. I consistently went above and beyond what my duties were, setting a high standard of excellence and left a major void behind when I moved on to better opportunities.

My current position as a payroll clerk is a thankless one, filled with complete disrespect for what I do. This is directly due to the lack of respect that my job is given by the powers that be in Human Resources (of which my unit is part of), which is directly passed on down to the rank and file in the field. The only respect that was ever given to me (and this goes for my previous stop as a payroll clerk as well), was by my co-workers and my immediate supervisor.

This complete lack of respect has manifested itself in many ways, most recently by two supervisors and a social worker case aide.
Background info: From January '07 to the present, I handle the tuition reimbursement program for my agency. In a nutshell, the state of CT, or rather the labor unions, will reimburse state employees for going to school to further their careers. The way it's done is ridiculously simple. You put an application in prior to starting classes, then you pay for them, get your grades after completing them, send those items in and three months to two years later, get your money.
Other pertinent info: It's quite difficult to enforce rules that are SET FORTH IN UNION CONTRACTS AND ON TUITION APPLICATIONS, when they are either consistently ignored by people higher up than you, or modified because some big baby complained about it.
In this case, the opening salvo was fired by this particular baby this past January, because I wouldn't accept his application due to not handing it in as per THE RULES SET FORTH IN THE UNION CONTRACT. Well, this little boy (and I mean little boy, because this jerk was one of those people who likes to brag about the people higher up that he "knows") didn't like that answer, so he climbed over my head to bitch about it. After pleading his case, an e-mail was sent to me a little while later, telling me to accept his precious little application.

So I did, and this little boy immediately wound up on my shit list. Things were quiet for the next couple of months, until one Tuesday morning when I came into work, I had this wonderful little e-mail waiting for me: "I faxed over my tuition forms for this upcoming semester, can you please confirm that you have received them..."

My response to this was: If you received a confirmation on your end saying "OK", then it was received here. If it makes you feel more comfortable, then send the form through inter-office mail to the following address.... (Note: most people who use tuition reimbursement here are notoriously insecure people. They'll fax something to me, WILL GET A CONFIRMATION SLIP SPAT OUT ON THEIR END, yet will still e-mail me and call me to ask if I got it).

What followed was an e-mail conversation between myself, my supervisor, this dick and this dick's supervisor, that bordered on the stupid, rude, disrespectful in tone and slightly threatening. To show you what kind of idiot this person's supervisor was, let me give a sample sentence from this person's response to me and my boss: "I am asking that the professionalism that we provide to our employees be a shared responsibility."

Are you kidding me? You and your underling with the major attitude problem are acting like a couple of spoiled brats in this entire incident, and you're asking for professionalism to be a shared responsibility? I'm sorry, but when you come off with a holier than thou attitude because you believe everyone is beneath you, you get what you deserve.

One more thing, this person's excuse for his arrogance was that he felt my original answer to him was not acceptable and that my tone was apparently disrespectful. BULL-FUCKING-SHIT!

The one thing that prevented me from going off on his sorry ass, was the fact that I got into trouble for this in '07, by doing what he exactly did. He gets a free pass, while I get a written reprimand shoved into my personal file....

Another thing in this little incident that still bothers me six months later, was that my boss's supervisor basically told me through her, that I deserved what I got. Because I didn't actually go and look to see if we actually got his garbage, I deserved to be yelled at, threatened and treated like shit by this asshole and his bitch of a supervisor (who actually knows what we go through because she used to work in the unit years ago).

And they wonder why morale is fuckin' low in our unit. When you get NO RESPECT from the rank and file, NO RESPECT FROM OTHER UNITS and get told THAT YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE, you certainly aren't going to do your very best for your job.

Seriously, respect is a dirty word within state government. What little respect I get, is from my co-workers, my close friends and the some of the people I do payroll for. Beyond that, everyone else I work with can go fuck themselves.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lurking In The Shadows Of Smartness

Hope everyone had a fantastic Easter holiday. I know I did, which is why there was no post on Sunday.

Now, onto other slices of my life.

Specifically, lurking.

For the past few weeks, I've been lurking around the blog world and the chat room. Not because I'm being anti-social, but because there are few things going on in the blog world and the chat room that I find easier to deal with by lurking around until the things either finish up or I get more comfortable in participating. Since this explanation probably sounds mighty confusing to you, I shall elaborate in my own unique style.

Wait, don't run away screaming. Honest, it won't be that bad this time. I promise. Here, have this fantastic micro brew to enjoy while reading this post. What? Soda is your speed? How 'bout a cold bottle from one of our local bottlers, which I might add, is a thousand times better than the majors. Comfy cozy? Kewl.


The major thing going on in the blog world that indirectly affects me is this nifty A-Z challenge that quite a few bloggers are participating in. Since it requires the individual to post something for the next 26 days, it quickly becomes a challenge for the average reader not only to keep up with all the fascinating posts and short stories (yes, one of my blog readers is writing 26 100 word pieces of flash fiction for the A-Z challenge) but to comment on them as well.

Since my blog subscriptions has recently increased by 10%, it now becomes somewhat harder for me to comment on everyone's blog when the posts have increased exponentially due to a cool blogging challenge. Because of that, I'm spending the month of April doing more lurking, more reading, more absorbing of interesting facts and less commenting. So if you don't see me on your blog comments with the usual degree of frequency that you're used to seeing, this is why. Trust me, I still enjoy reading your blog and will be there in the shadows lurking, but for now, comments will appear with a lesser degree of frequency.

As a direct result of these new found blogs, I've had to redo and reorg all my folders, including adding four new sub-folders. I also took the time to actually get a head count of how many blogs I actively subscribe to and read on a daily/weekly basis. As of today, that blog count stands at 110. If you factor in the blogs that I follow which are on hiatus and the blogs that I follow and don't subscribe to, it brings the new total up to 132.

And the main reason as to why my subsciption count is so incredibly high is two fold: One, I found a few neat blogs that were recommended to me, and thus followed and subscribed to, and two, I found a few other blogs via that strange thing called "networking", which I will cover in the next half of the post.

Chat room

Or to be more precise, forum. For the past three weeks, I've been doing a great deal of lurking in the Solstice Publishing writer's forum, which is directly due to the fact that I am sailing in very uncharted waters. While quite a few of my readers out there have a working familiarity with the publishing business, either directly or indirectly, I, by any stretch of the imagination, do not.

So I spend most of my time there reading and learning the ins and out of not only what it takes to publish a book, but how to market and publicize a book as well. I have commented a couple of times, mostly about blogs, since some writers are using the blogging platform to compliment what they use for Twitter and Facebook.

The other day, some of the writers were doing a type of networking called "follow me on my blog and I'll follow you on yours". I said to myself, why not? So I jumped in and started checking out the various writer's blogs that were being offered as links, and within a couple of days, not only did I pick up about five new blogs to read and subscribe to, but I picked up about six new followers in the process.

I'm still feeling my way through the publishing process, but at the very least, I've developed a greater understanding and appreciation on what it takes not only to put out a book but how to market and publicize it as well.

Oh and one more thing, if you're curious about those new blogs, please check out either my "Blogs That I Like To Read" list (because I threw a few new links up), or my follower's list, specifically the first row, as those contain the newest followers of this blog.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Has Sprung Almost Everywhere

The other day, I had a whole precious hour in which I had nothing to do (yeah, I know, weird), so I thought I would sit outside for a spell and enjoy the sunshiny day that Father Nature had decide to grace my neighborhood with.

So I dragged out my chair, placed it in the middle of the driveway and plopped my very tired butt (and very achy knee) down in it. Turning to face the mountain, I then proceeded to let my mind wander as I decompressed and allowed the rhythm of nature to slowly engulf my spirit. As my mind wandered, I let my gaze focus on the mountain, and a few minutes later, a shadow fell across my spirit as I got to thinking about the mountain.

In previous years, during the spring and summer, the mountain looked something like this:

However, after the world famous Storm Alfred swept through and did this:

The first thought that crossed my mind was that the mountain looked like a fusillade tore through it. In other words, it looks something like this:

Depressing, isn't it.

Anyways, it got me to thinking about this particular unpleasntry: What if Spring decided to bypass the mountain completely, or at the very least, do a hop skip and jump across the mountain, leaving some areas of the mountain full of natural green, and leaving the others stripped and barren like the picture there?

The picture above really can't do justice to what I'm currently looking at whenever I step outside, but the comparison to a cannon fusillade is spot on. Cedar Mountain currently looks like the end result of encounter between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia, leaving the trees battered, bruised and twisted beyond normal.

It's enough to make a grown man or woman cry. Or at the very least, have his or her day start off with a slight darkening of the clouds.

Yeah, I'm really enjoying Spring in my neighborhood right now.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Your Offensive Word Of The Day Is: Interesting

Here's a fact that you may not know about me, unless of course you're one of my close personal friends/co-workers who has listen to me yammer on and on about the stupid stuff that has engulfed me for the past six years.

I attract trouble like a beautiful woman attracts drooling men and women.

No really, I honestly do.

Since 2006, either online (chat rooms and Facebook) or in the real world, I have gotten into a world of trouble simply because I follow the old adage of engaging mouth before putting brain into gear. I'm one of those people who for the most part, doesn't really enjoy playing politics of any kind and will say what's on his mind, no matter what the consequences might entail.

Case in point and in fact, the basis of this fine post about the language police.

Early in February, a new statewide edict came out which stated that all state employees must undergo a rigorous training program about violence in the workplace. Now this isn't really something new, as something had been in place since the mid 90's after Connecticut suffered through a tragic workplace shooting at one of their state agencies. But things have accelerated in the past couple of years, since a tragic shooting at Hartford Distributors two years ago that left 10 people dead and a work place shooting that left two people dead a couple of months ago.

So a training program was developed by our wonderful H.R. department (no sarcasm intended, because the program was pretty decent) and our department got to be the guinea pigs, so to speak. We went over the usual things and did group exercises about different scenarios and saw a video that was the basis for the exercises in question (shooting at a post office in Michigan). We also covered quite extensively language and perception, in that sometimes the perception of what someone hears might be radically different that what the intention was.

For instance, say you were talking to a co-worker, and you used some provocative language that you knew that your co-worker wouldn't find offensive. But if someone walks by and overhears your conversation and for whatever reason finds what you're saying offensive, well then, you just might find yourself on the receiving end of a complaint.

The Encarta World Dictionary defines the word interesting as an adjective and gives the following definitions:

1} arousing curiosity, attracting or holding attention, or provoking thought.
2} enjoyable because of being varied, challenging, stimulating or exciting.

For the past 16 years, I would say in the four state agencies that I've called home about 85% of my co-workers have been female. Which means that I've spent about 16 years not only treading a fine line in what I could or couldn't say, but developing a language that was tweaked depending on the age bracket of the people I was talking to. I've found that people over the age of 40, were more likely not to be infected with political correctness and thus understood that calling a black person "black" was not an insult; and people under the age of 40 were most likely not only to be infected with political correctness but would have a hypersensitivity to language that bordered on paranoia.

So about two weeks ago (and about three days after the class), a co-worker of mine was wearing an interesting choice of apparel. When I had walked by her early in the morning, I said what she was wearing, "Interesting.", which I meant as a compliment/neutral statement.

About two and a half hours later, I stopped in my supervisor's office on a completely unrelated matter, and she told me to sit down and close the door. For the next fifteen minutes we had a lovely conversation over the fact that my co-worker found my choice of word uncomfortable and made a complaint to H.R. about it.

After we had finished our lovely conversation (no sarcasm intended here either), I contacted my union rep to let her know that I had gotten into trouble yet again. I also had a lovely ten minute conversation with my H.R. person, mostly to let her know what I thought about this entire complaint against me and to let her know that no insult was intended.

So in the course of three hours, I managed to become the very first casualty of a program that wasn't officially implemented yet, by having a complaint filed against me over me using the word interesting.

I'm not even going to get into the issue of the herculean task that my agency will face in trying to change the behavior and culture of the various units contained within, but I will tell you that within my little unit, this little complaint only solidifies the division between the people who have no problem employing hypersensitive hypocrisy when it comes to language and behavior, and the people who are grounded in reality when it come to language and behavior.

As for me, I'll just keep to myself and to my three other co-workers who are not only very grounded in reality, but don't play the little political gamesmanship that permeates most office environments.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Groovin' On Cruisin' But Is He Phonin'?

For those of you who might need a translation, the question is: Is he phoning it in?

Most slang dictionaries define "phoning it in" as basically going through the motions because you really don't want to be somewhere in particular doing something in particular at that chosen for you place in particular.

For the past few weeks, I've gotten the feeling that I've been just phoning it in with this blog. I've written quite a few posts that haven't been up to my high standards, but because I have schedule to keep (shades of OCD) with this blog, I haven't really gotten on my case about their inferior quality.

Granted, I do have a built in excuse to use and shamefully, have used that excuse to justify the inferior quality of my posts. The excuse?

Listen Miller, don't you worry about phoning it in, because after all, someone who has written a combined total of 1004 posts for four blogs deserves a break every now and again.

This actually bugs me on all kinds of levels. I detest it when I come across it at work because that shows me that deep down you really don't give a F about your job and you're just there for the paycheck. I detest it when I come across it elsewhere in the blog world, because that shows to me that you really don't care about your readers. I detest it on a personal level, because that shows me that you really don't give a F about your family and friends.

But most importantly, I detest it in myself, because no matter what the issue may be or what kind of crap I'm going through, I've always given 100% in whatever endeavor I happen to be doing.

A good example is with my current knee injury. I mentioned in the comments of Friday's post that I have to get an MRI done, and the probability that the MRI will confirm my worst fears (surgery) is almost 100%. This is because the note that the nurse wrote on the form said, "possible torn meniscus".

With this particular injury, I could phone in what I do for the next few months and really no one would blame me for it. However, I have people who are counting on me to battle through this. My wife is looking forward to taking her first real vacation with me since 2008 and not only am I looking forward to that, but I'm looking forward to meeting up with a blog buddy from the left coast during that vacation. So there is no way in hell that I can sit on my ass and phone it in, especially since I'm counting on myself as well, because burn out is not a viable option.

Most of you know that I have a habit of punishing myself on this blog because of perceived (legit or otherwise) shortcomings with my writing and my blogging. So on one hand, this post could be considered to be a public pillorying of a bad habit that I have no business of doing. On the other hand, this post could be considered to be a mea culpa with the promise of better thought-provoking posts to come.

In any event, I leave you with a short blast from a group that was influential in my musical upbringing.

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