February 24, 2005

Snow and Absolute Lateness

Why is it that when it snows in the Twin Cities, everybody drives like they're cavemen before the ice age seeing the first snowfall ever?

They're staring out their windows, peering at the sky with tilted heads, driving 40 on the freeway and screaming, "OH MY GOD! WHAT'S ALL THAT WHITE STUFF??? THE SKY IS FALLING; THE WORLD IS ENDING; AHHHHHH! I'd better drive 40. Maybe it won't catch me if I'm going more slowly than everybody else."

Also, I believe that MnDOT pays retired people to go out and get in the left lane next to someone going incredibly slowly in the right lane and match their speed exactly. These are the pace cars of the freeway. It's their job to make sure that when the caution flag is up, nobody goes faster than the minimum freeway speed limit.

All of this leads to people running into work just before The Point of Absolute Lateness.

Absolute Lateness is different than absolute zero in that it relates to time, not temps, but is similar in that things start to freeze at this point: Commerce, expressions on bosses' faces, your assets. Additionally, as with absolute zero, all movement (of cars, people, small children, cats) begins to slow to the point of stopping. It is the point at which you are so late that someone notices that you are gone.

While it is not the same as F-ing Late, which is when someone gets on the phone and wakes you out of a deep sleep to demand where the hell you are, it is the point at which someone gets irrate that you are not there. For stores and customer service people, it's one minute after the point at which the store opens, especially if they are the people who are supposed to open it. For teachers, it's one second after the second bell rings. For people working in cubicles, it's usually the moment your boss pulls into the parking lot, especially if you pull into the parking lot at that exact same moment. If you're working at a factory, it occurs after the whistle blows and one second after everyone else has filed into the factory. If you're working at Bethel, it's sometime around chapel at 10:00-ish. (Maybe. This is, of course, only an approximate estimation due mostly to the fact that only about 1/3 of the working popluation at Bethel actually works at all, so the odds of noticing that someone is not working decrease significantly as there are so many people who fall into the category "not working" in the first place. Due to this phenomenon, it may take up to several days for someone to notice that an employee is not there.)

It's called The Point of Absolute Lateness because up until that point, you're not really late. This is because start times at work are really only suggested start times. It's sort of like, "Hey, probably you should get here at 7:30. It might help you hate people less, and maybe you will be able to get something done before the customers start coming so that you don't waste the whole morning on your email." But if you don't, nobody is actually expecting you anyway.

This morning, as The Point of Absolute Lateness was fast approaching me while I sat behind the pace cars going a brisk 35 on the freeway in the less than very snowy morning on the not slippery at all actually road, I took a good look at the scenery and wondered what kind of horrible things I did in a past life to deserve all this bad karma.

Posted by LoWriter at 08:31 AM | Comments (5)

February 15, 2005


Did you all get some sugar yesterday?

I know I did. Of the chocolate variety. (literally) Oh, yeah. There's nothing quite like Decadent Chocolates from Mrs. Fields. MMmmm.

In case you hadn't noticed, I am a chocolate lover. I would eat it in a box. I would eat it with a fox. I would eat it on the stairs. I would eat it everywhere.

I would like to personally thank all you couples out there who helped commercialize the holiday because this means that Target overstocked and I got my chocolate on sale. Yay you. Let's give it up for the couples!

I think being part of a couple is severely over-rated. I don't say this just because I'm not part of one right now. I say this because I don't regret not being part of one right now. This is not to say that if Hugh Jackman asked I wouldn't say yes, because I would; I would. No, it's more that when I was done working, I got to go home and eat my own chocolates that I picked out my own self.

Most people, when they think of a single woman eating chocolates on the couch, think also of Kleenix and uncontrollable crying, which is stupid, but I would argue that if a single woman in this situation does cry, they cry tears of joy. What else is there to cry about when chocolate raspberry cream is involved? Absolutely nothing.

I personally love Valentines' Day. I can't think of a better excuse to feel good about eating expensive-looking chocolates.

So to summarize: Yay for the couples who made it possible for me to get good chocolate for cheap. Yay Valentines' Day, which is a good holiday for chocolate lovers. Yay for chocolate in general.

Happy Belated V-Day Everybody!

Posted by LoWriter at 08:45 AM | Comments (2)

February 08, 2005

The Monthly Book List--January

All right, readers. (If I still have any. I sometimes seriously doubt that I do, but this is fun anyway.) Here is my attempt at a recurring article: These are the books I read last month.

Two years ago, my list of goals included getting a library card. I accomplished that goal. Not only did I accomplish that goal, but I read tons these days (although not as much as Ten). So this year I decided that I am going to keep track of the books that I read and listen to for the year (usually, I only listen to books on tape while at my second job). And I am passing them on to you.

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett (audio). This book is a spoof/satire/parody on/of/on The Phantom of the Opera. I laughed, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to listen to The Phantom of the Opera again without laughing. This book includes Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, which may be two of the best reasons to start reading Pratchett if you haven't already.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (audio). This book is all about a girl wizard. Girl wizards don't actually exist until the main character of this book comes along. This book also includes Granny Weatherwax. This will mean more to you when you've read some Terry Pratchett. It reminds me a bit of A Wizard of Earthsea but only very losely. And as always, Pratchett is hilarious.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott (audio). I returned to an old favorite here. This book is Anne Lamott's faith story, something I attempted (and failed miserably) to model for my Senior Seminar. I listened to it again because I want to re-do my Senior Sem project eventually, just for myself. I blew a huge opportunity with that final paper, and I want to set it right, even if it's just for me. So, while I listened to this, I listened with an ear tuned to two different things. The first was the technique, and I discovered that what I like about it is that she is honest and blunt but not brutal, which is an important distinction. The second was the actual spiritual content, and it was very moving for me. Sometimes I feel like me and God don't connect, but Anne Lamott's relationship with him reminds me that it's OK to be God's delinquent/troubled teen.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet (audio) by Salman Rushdie. AKA The Longest Book Ever. Seriously, when the cassette maintence guy came on to tell me to flip the tape over, I felt like he was about to say, "This concludes side one of cassette 17 of The Longest Book on Earth. To continue being bored out of your mind, please turn the cassette over, and continue from the same point." In all honesty, it starts to make sense at the end. But if I hadn't been bound and determined to finish this book, there is no way I would have made it through. (For some reason, I felt I needed to prove that I could still pay attention to something "literary" and "deep.") By the end, I was interested, but I didn't really feel satisfied by the actual ending, either. I enjoyed Haroun and the Sea of Stories much more. I would try that one over this.

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett. Funny, but not really my favorite Pratchett book so far. It was more serious than his others, which I didn't mind, but it also had some parts that were really slow. I put the book down for days at a time. Worth the read, but don't begin reading Pratchett here.

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett. This was a fabulous book. It must be close to the beginning of Terry Pratchett's "un-numbered" Discworld Series. It includes Rinsewind and The Luggage, which is fast becoming my favorite Pratchett character. The Luggage is a traveling trunk. Literally. It's luggage, but it follows its owner around (and protects its owner) by running around after him on 100 miniature legs. With feet. And also by swallowing all enemies whole. No one is quite sure where the people swallowed by The Luggage go, but no one is about to try to find out either.

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett. In case you hadn't noticed, there is a theme to my reading these days. I am trying to read all of Terry Pratchett's novels. I think I will be able to read as many as I want for at least a year without running out. And then I intend to start over again. This novel follows Commander Vimes through mid-career. It involves a dragon and love. (Although not between Vimes and the dragon.) It's entertaining, but as far as Pratchett novels relating to the City Watch go, I prefer Night Watch. As always, it's pretty funny.

The Handmaid's Tale. I don't remember who wrote this. It's pretty good. It's set in an uber-religious future where the societal model is the Old Testament only twisted. It refers to Rachel and Leah a lot, but it strikes me more as Abraham's wife-esque stuff. At any rate, it's pretty interesting. It disturbed me a bit for awhile because I can see it happening if enough zealots for the wrong cause got into power. For the most part, it's an interesting social commentary work. I wouldn't take it too seriously, but I wouldn't completely disregard it either. The ending isn't completely satisfying, but she adds an interesting "transcript" piece to the end, which works well for the story.

All in all, January was a good month for reading. It was cold, and I worked a lot, so I had plenty of reading time. I hate winter. I'd rather stay inside and pretend it isn't happening to me. If you've read any of these books or plan to, feel free to comment here or email me with your thoughts. Stay tuned for February's picks.

Posted by LoWriter at 04:12 PM | Comments (8)

February 02, 2005

I Make Charts

Today was a good day because I defeated Excel. I made charts. Dozens of them. I have line charts and bar charts and comparison line and bar charts. It's pretty cool.

And what's even more fun about making charts is that few around here can, so I look like a rock star. And that is what I've always wanted to look like at work. Oh, yes: A Rock Star.

See, Excel used to be my bitch. I could make it do whatever I wanted, but then I went to college, and it kept growing and changing and when I tried to use it again, it was an unrecognizable entity. With horns. And a tail. From Hell.

Today we found out which of us was cooler, and it was definitely me. This entry has no point other than that I am a nerd. And to my friends from Old Chicago last night, this is not the funny entry I wrote last night when I got home. I have to edit that one yet.

People are always underestimating my ability to bury them in paperwork. And now I have enough data to bury any administrator for at least twenty minutes. That's something to smile about.

Yay, charts!

Posted by LoWriter at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)