Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The President's New Spiel

Does anyone remember the old fairy tale about the Emperor and his new clothes? How he was conned into purchasing this brand new suit of the finest cloth in the whole universe, which was so rare that it could only be seen by someone of massive intelligence? And how the Emperor wore these fine new clothes out in public and finally some kid was smart enough to yell that the Emperor had no clothes on?

Oh where oh where is that freckle faced young urchin when you need him? Probably off doing an audition for 'Oliver!' or something. Anyway, is the proverbial street kid the catalyst required before the country comes to realize that the President's new spiel has neither form nor substance?

Boggle with me for a second or two would you?

"Bush said he understands the public concerns about a 27-month-old war that has killed more than 1,700 Americans and 12,000 Iraqi civilians and cost $200 billion. He said the sacrifice "is worth it and it is vital to the security of our country."

"The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001," Bush told a national television audience and 750 soldiers and airmen in dress uniform who mostly listened quietly as they had been asked to do.

"Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war," he continued. "Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them - to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home."

"We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

"We have a clear path forward," the president said. "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

Okay, let's analyze this for a second, shall we? We'll deliver a rousing speech about why we're in Iraq and how the fight must continue, by referring to 9/11 five times - count em - FIVE FREAKING TIMES in a 28 minute speech. Um....the last I heard? Everybody who matters - including this puppet warmonger boy wonder - has admitted there were - how many links between Iraq and the attack on 9/11 again?

Hold on...let me count them.

Oh yeah...that's right. That would be um NONE!!??!!!

So by reminding us that we went into Iraq because you told us they had links to 9/11, along with millions of WMDs all pointed at our shores, which turned out to be a complete falsehood, you expect to gain SUPPORT for the war in Iraq??

We fight today not because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand, but because we're in their bloody country and they're sick of the sight of us. WE INVADED THEM!! Um....WITHOUT PROVOCATION!!. Without even A LITTLE PROVOCATION!! We unilaterally decided to depose the leader of a foreign country and spread democracy and Christianity amongst the heathens, and expected them to fall down and kiss our feet with gratitude.

We've KILLED 12,000 OF THEIR CITIZENS.....AT LEAST!! So I guess for a lot of people living there, Saddam is looking pretty good round about now. And then we wonder why more young terrorist wannabes are springing up by the hour?

This addle-brained failed oilman decided to disregard all evidence to the contrary, and rather than spend the 200 billion dollars we've spent so far actually LOOKING for the guy responsible for setting up 9/11, he chose to go after a much easier (not to mention unsuspecting) target in Saddam Hussein. 'Ahm gonna git 'im fer mah daddy'

So 1700 prospective or current mommas and daddies have lost their lives because this lunatic decided to bring home the prize that had eluded his own father.

Trouble is, he's never actually ever had to make any real decisons in his life. There's always been somebody there to do it for him. You only have to look at that petulant, smug little smirk to realize he's the spoiled little brat that every child would love to kill - only he has the daddy who would run up to the school and sue them into the ground if anything happened to little Junior. And he knows it. Hence the smirk. Children like this grow up to be unpleasant adults, particularly if this sense of entitlement and safety net remain with them throughout their lives. Junior was given tons of toys to play with. Oil companies and the like. He broke them and threw them away. He never had to worry about the consequences of a single decision he made, because daddy or someone else's daddy was always there to fix it for him.

That's probably why when all the smart and intelligent army type people who are supposed to be kept around the president to advise him of minor details like how to run a PROPER WAR were telling him how important it was to stop and think and then to work out not only an invasion plan, but also an exit plan were ignored. Anyone can pick a fight. It's getting away from it that's tricky. Most people - including generals and other smart and intelligent army type people - also realize that there's strength in numbers. You don't go into a fight with the Sharks unless the rest of the Jets are there to back you up, right? Particularly when it happens to be on the Sharks' home turf. And if you're any kind of a Jet, you don't stand by while one of your own is getting the holy crap beaten out of him. You go round up the rest of the gang and go at it.

I guess Junior grew up watching John Wayne win every war since the dawn of time singlehandedly. If only his daddy had been into show tunes! See it's easy to sit there and say that war is hell, when you're the Duke and you've just mown down the enemy with nothing but a cattle prod, but you can only truly understand the futility of war by watching the final fifteen minutes of West Side Story!

So he sent a teeny little contingent of men into a country where the damn CRUSADES were fought (and didn't stop to remember that they went on for freaking CENTURIES - these guys don't back down easily!) and figured that the war would be over within six months tops. Of course he didn't need a plan for getting out because after all, who wouldn't want what the grand old US of A had to give, right?? We'd be welcomed like the HEROES we are, and after we'd rounded up Saddam and his bad guys, the Duke would arrive on his horse and the credits would roll and everyone would leave the theatre saying how great a movie that was.

But - as so often happens when we don't listen to those people who KNOW WHAT THEY'RE FREAKING TALKING ABOUT - that didn't happen. And Americans are dropping like flies alongside the Iraqi civilians who are dropping like flies who've just feasted on poisoned meat. And all of those folks who thought that going to Iraq was a HECK of a good idea, and even voted the lunatic in for a second term on the STRENGTH of him going to war in Iraq, are getting a little bit fed up. His popularity in the eyes of the great general public is dropping faster than those stray Indian extras in a John Wayne movie. So it's time for a big PR event. Dress him up, hand him a speech and send him down to Fort Bragg to stand in front of the next bunch of cannon fodder slated for death, and have him deliver a speech about how things are going to get better.

I'm sure that must have been the plan. I can't see how ANY IDIOT PR PERSON would possibly have suggested that he go to Ft. Bragg and tell the troops and the rest of us how he's made his stand and he's not going to quit until the Iraqis do. Just like that spoiled little ass kid who would stand at the top of the slide and not let any of the other kids come down, knowing that his daddy would always take his side. Wearing that nasty little smirk that we've come to know and love on the face of our president. He'll ALWAYS get his way. No matter what. Even if the children who are LOGJAMMED on the stairs leading up to the slide start having panic attacks and crying, he'll stand there with that smirk and insist that he's not moving. Even if 17,000 servicemen and 12,000 civilians are dead, he won't move from his position. And he won't send in any extra troops because....and if you have any boggle left...boggle right along with me on THIS ONE:

"In his speech, Bush rejected suggestions that he set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq or send in more troops. Bush said a timetable would be "a serious mistake" that could demoralize Iraqis and American troops and embolden the enemy.
He also said sending more troops would undermine the U.S. strategy of training Iraqis to be able to as quickly as possible take over the security of their country.
"Sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever," he said.

The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes, and the president needs a new spiel

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Child's Play

Okay, a number of issues today.

Firstly, anyone who knows me should be aware that I think Michael Jackson got a raw deal in his child molestation trial. For god's sake, the man should be sanctified for the work he's done with children. He should have been presented with a great big huge shiny halo for the suffering he was forced to endure during this judicial process.

Yeah....right. MJ is the archetype of a pedophile. He just has the kind of money which cushions him from any kind of prosecution.

This was never shown more eloquently than in two separate events over the past few days. Firstly the Jackson family gave a little bash for friends of MJ on the weekend. And guess who showed up? Yep...you got it. One of the jurors who had found him not guilty a few days earlier.

Let's boggle over this for a second shall we?

Imagine for one second that we lived in a land where real justice was doled out to people on an equal basis, regardless of how much money, fame or celebrity they had. Imagine further that MJ had actually been found guilty of all ten counts on the indictment form. Now imagine that the prosecution team rented a local casino and had a big celebratory rally. And imagine that one of the invited was a member of the jury which had convicted MJ. Is there a defense lawyer in the country who would not have been running down to the courthouse to file an appeal based on the juror's obvious prosecutorial bias? Of course not. And yet when the situation is reversed, nobody thinks anything about it? No defense bias in a juror who shows up to a Jackson bash shortly after finding him not guilty?

And then today one of the infamous jurors appeared on Court TV for an interview. She basically came out and said that unless there was eyewitness testimony from someone with an absolutely unimpeachable past, she would not have found MJ guilty of molestation.

Boggle. Go ahead. I did.

And now MJ's mother says that Saint Michael has decided that he will only help children 'from a distance'.

Guess that means he's going to fly them in from Mexico?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dandy Lions

I just spent the morning working my dog over. Not in a really nasty abusive kind of way, I hasten to add - although she might disagree with me. Rosybelle got brushed.

Sometimes when I'm fighting with dog and brush and scissors and wishing I actually HAD a third hand, I question why someone so intrinsically lazy (Me) would be dumb enough to acquire 3 dogs. And these aren't your Jack Russells or your Boston Terriers or even your Pugs with their nice short coats that basically just need dunking in a soapy bath once a month. Noooo. We have a Cocker Spaniel (Clinton), a Shih Tzu (Katie Xiao Lin) and a Pekingese/Poodle mix (Rosybelle).

Now I've seen people who have packs of Yorkshire Terriers and manage to keep them all perfectly silky, with matching little pink bows atop their heads. And it's not that mine CAN'T look that way. Every time Rose and Katie go to the groomer, they arrive back with a little topknot in a bow (Katie) or bows over each ear (Rosy). Naturally this lasts until they figure out how to either remove the bows themselves or enlist the aid of one of the other dogs to do it for them, but that's beside the point. When they walk out of that groomer's store they look absolutely fabulous. If only they STAYED that way for half a second.

Pekingese and Shih Tzus were called 'Lion Dogs' in China. Mostly for their temperament, but also because of the mane-like fur which sheathes them from head to foot -or floor in Rosy's case. It has a thick undercoat below the top coat which has a tendency to mat. Wait a second, did I just say a 'TENDENCY' to mat? How about you can sit there and WATCH it matting. How about it can mat from ONE DAY TO THE NEXT!! Especially when your little teeny dogs who are so close to the ground on their little teeny short stubby legs go outside to use the facilities. And the ground is covered in pine needles. And the soil is clay-ish. And their fur drags on the floor.

And mats are what we absolutely extra specially LOVE! Now a human - even one with hair as long as mine - can go for three days without brushing their hair and the most it's going to do is tangle a bit. Not so with my dogs. They go for three MINUTES without brushing their hair and it BONDS. It forms big clumpy wads of hair - picture human hair + lump of chewing gum you forgot was on the nightstand, and you sort of get the picture. You cannot brush out a mat. The only solution is to cut it out with a pair of scissors. And dogs have a sixth sense about scissors. They know they can hurt them. Don't ask me how they know this, since I've never accidentally cut one when removing a mat. But the MINUTE I pick up the scissors, the nice quiet dog who was rolling over languidly from one side to the other during the brushing process turns into a squirming little creature who needs to be held down bodily while you hold the mat in one hand and cut with the other. That's where the need for three hands comes in.

So now Rosy is groomed, and I have a clump of fur big enough to make a tribble out of sitting on the nightstand beside me. But my little Pekingese is all prettified and looking like the dandy lion she is. And she looks up at me with those big liquid chocolate eyes and makes that cooing noise that I never heard come out of a canine mouth before I met her, and stretches herself before snuggling down as close to my lap as she can get without actually sitting on the laptop computer. And that's when I remember why I have these small dogs with their impossible to maintain coats. Nobody else in the world could adore you in such a shameless and absolute fashion.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Days of Whine and Roses

Okay.

I'm pouring the whine today so break off a hunk of cheese and a nice bit of French bread and pull up a seat.

I hate my job. There. I said it. I loathe and detest it with every fiber of my being. There's so much of the writer in me that I'm drowning in creative juices. I want to write. I want to go back to the days when my other half pulled down a 60 hours a week job, and any money I made through transcription was gravy. To the times when I could write essays and articles instead of transcribing words spoken by others, because it wasn't necessary to earn money to pay bills and buy food and all of that boring un-bohemian stuff. And never more so than today.

What's so special about today? I'm glad you asked. Today I received a slew of emails from the company I transcribe for informing me that there were problems with a) the invoice I submitted on Monday, and b) the work I'd done over the weekend. The invoice problem was twofold. First was the problem that I am crap at math. Asking me to figure out what is a 15% increase from 0.00635 per word is like asking me to describe what the moon tastes like. Dunno. That's the fast answer to that. So I did my best, and came up with a figure which was apparently off by several points of a cent. Well twist my nipple nuts and call me Frank. I fucked up. It happens. Maybe if you had a figure in mind you should have TOLD me what it was instead of making me guess. There's a thought for ya. And WHY was I being asked to do mathematical gymnastics? Because some of the work I had to do this past week were so crap that nobody else wanted to do them. Oh bless ya...I'm not talking about difficult to hear audio. I'm talking about almost freaking IMPOSSIBLE to hear. Work which instead of being a ratio of 1:4 (one hour of transcription audio equals four hours of real time when it comes to transcribing it), but more like 1:6 by the time you've replayed and replayed and guessed and surmised and googled your little ass off. THAT kind of crap. And for this, I was promised the princely sum of 0.00635 PLUS 15% per word!! YAY!! The kind of money you can go on a Caribbean cruise with - NOT!.

But, gentle reader, that is not the worst. Oh no. See, I did 3 of these incrediblecrap audio files last week. The first one was pretty bad, but hey, they don't come up TOO often. Then on Friday afternoon the sysop who assigns these things sent an email saying she had work to be done over the weekend which was due Sunday, and they were going to be offering 15% above the regular rate for it. YAY! So I IM'd her and asked her directly if the reason was because the audio was crap. NO she says, it's because the files have to go directly to the client and half a dozen other people, so you have to double check them before you send them. OK....no problem. I can do an hour by Sunday. Well actually there's an hour for Sunday and I've got 3 hours due Monday. Can you PLEASE do that??!! So I agreed. Now, I need to remind you that the office is in New York, and I'm in Washington, so they're 3 hours ahead of us. I was assigned this work at the end of the NY day on Friday afternoon. No problem. The audio's fine, right? I'm just getting the 15% because of the time constraint, right? And the submitting direct to the client stuff? Yeah.

Only then I take a look at the assignment sheets I've received and discover that a) the hour job for Sunday is actually 1 10 minute and one 92 minute job. Oh, and the 3 hour job is 257 minutes. And they tell me I can't do math?? My four hours has suddenly risen dramatically to more like six hours. Which wouldn't be so bad aside from the fact that the office also has work that you can assign yourself via the internet - those little pissy insurance jobs that I've spoken about before? They're usually an average of 9 or 10 minutes long, and I'd previously self-assigned 30 of them. So do the math, gentle reader and realize I have a SHITLOAD of work due by Monday. But you haven't heard b) yet. So here it is. b) I start working on the stuff due by Sunday - the stuff which goes directly to the client. The 10 minute one...not too bad. Then I load up the 92 minute one and....holy shit batman. I can hear one word in ten. And that's being generous. And this is the transcript which is supposed to go directly to the client. Without being edited or worked over at the office first. So I was lucky enough to find someone online who works for the California office of the NY company I work for, and explained my dilemma. She had to call NY (which at 9pm their time didn't make her very popular) and tell them about it. The upshot was hey, this is a wiretap...it's very terribly important....and you're just going to have to do the best you can with it. Send the first ten pages of the transcript to address A, and then go on and finish the whole thing and send it to addresses everybody else. Wiretaps, for those of you not in the know, are the audio files from hell. Because they're taping someone in secret with the microphone secreted who the hell knows where, the ensuing sound resembles someone whispering from across the room. IF the room is underwater and IF there's an old steam train between you and the microphone. But gentle reader, I stayed with it. I replayed and replayed and replayed until I'd scraped out a transcript of those 92 horrendous minutes - finally emailing it to parts unknown slightly before midnight on Friday.

And yes...I completed the other so-called 3 hour job, and the 30 insurance jobs and had them all in and emailed by Sunday night.

So this is where the other part of the office email comes in. Apparently, because my sysop told me in an email (which naturally I had deleted over the weekend), and in IM that I would receive 15% increase for the 10 and 92 minute jobs - but DIDN'T PUT IT IN WRITING ON THE FRIGGING ASSIGNMENT SHEETS, the office manager Nazi who was reconciling my invoice didn't think I was deserving.

Now that would have fucked me off enough on its face. But this email came after the other emails. The four emails I'd received which pertained to four of the insurance jobs that I'd turned in. The four emails which threatened to take away my A grade (yes folks, 0.00635 per word IS in fact an A GRADE RATE) because of mistakes on the submitted transcripts. And let's put this in perspective for you, shall we? These were not mistakes on the scale of misspelled words or chunks of missing audio. Oh bless you no. These were mistakes on the scale of 'you put a double space where there should have been a single space' and 'four door sedan should be written four-door sedan'.

So the reality is that despite the fact that I transcribed about 10 hours of work this weekend - work which they were falling over themselves for me to take on Friday, they have the temerity to piss around with a double space and a missing hyphen and 15% increase I was promised but not in the place I should have been promised. I never came closer to telling them precisely what they could do with their job. Complete with flawless punctuation and impeccable grammar and razor-sharp spelling.

But I couldn't.

Because now I'm the one who has to work. Not because I want to but because if I don't work, we don't eat. Babybat doesn't get her new contacts. Xander doesn't get his new shoes. And I know, I know they're my responsibility and it's my job now to get them through their childhood and off to their own lives.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't SUCK! I can't chuck this job because we live in this place which is in the back of beyond and jobs aren't readily available. I can't chuck this job because Azrael isn't my ex (for which, most of the time I am eternally grateful, I add very hastily) and much as I love him, he's not the most reliable of people when it comes to holding down a job. So now the situation is reversed. What goes around comes around. Here I am working at this job I despise and can't quit and I'm longing for those halcyon days where my ex was working at a job he despised and I was taking care of children and writing articles and essays and being incredibly bohemian with the safety net of someone else bringing in a steady paycheck every month.

And yes, I hear people say that if I wanted it enough I could make time to write. And I suppose they're right. I could. But these well-meaning people are not sitting hunched over a computer transcribing forty hours of real time in a weekend, at the end of which gentle reader, you have to believe me when I tell you, creative writing is the very LAST thing I want to be doing. In some weird, sponge-like vampiric fashion the very act of transcribing the words of others drains my own creativity.

Oh, and by the way....I hate my job.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Second Star On The Right And Straight On Till Mourning

Those wonderful California juries have triumphed yet again. This afternoon they found Michael Jackson Not Guilty By Reason Of Celebrity. Not guilty on every single count.

The media isn't certain as of yet whether the jury will speak out in a news conference regarding their verdict. Presumably it will take a little while for the surgery required to remove their heads from their respective asses.

Anyone fancy a sleepover at Neverland??

Sunday, June 12, 2005

They Shoot Horses Don't They?

I've never been a believer in astrology - the western ideal of sun sign astrology. Even as a kid it made no sense to me that every Geminian on the planet would be having the kind of day outlined for me in the 'Daily Horoscope' column of the newspaper. And the astrologer would draw with such broad strokes that obviously he/she was going to be correct for some Geminian somewhere on the planet at some point.

In my teens, however, I discovered Chinese astrology. Not for them the concept that all Geminians are carbon copies of one another. No, they work in years - maybe something to do with their culture being ancient or something, they've got more time to play with. The Chinese work in 12 year cycles, with each of those 12 years being devoted to an animal. When they've run through all twelve creatures of the Chinese zodiac they start over with the first animal on the 13th year, and so on and so forth. I was born under the sign of the Tiger, which makes much more sense to me than I'd comfortably admit. I can be brave and fearless when someone threatens my cubs. I can also work frenetically in short bursts (consider the Tiger chasing down its prey), but I'm also lazy and need lots of long naps to recover from all of that activity. The list goes on. The Chinese zodiac can be married to the western zodiac which tempers the signs. For example, I'm a Gemini Tiger which means certain of my attributes are going to be at the fore - the communication part of it, for instance. A Virgoan Tiger might enjoy having a REALLY tidy den, where I'm happy to live in piggery. But underneath we're both Tigers.

My children are a Snake and a Horse and fit their attributes well. Tiger parents and Horse children are supposed to be a great match, which is true. I understand my little horse on levels where I don't understand my little snake.

The problem comes thusly: The love of my life is also a Horse. This is obvious when you see the two of them frolicking in a paddock. Or in their case hunched around a video game. But it's never more obvious than when you see them rearing up and kicking one another to try and figure out who is the boss horse in the corral. Of course, little horse's age doesn't help much. He's 14 going on 21. That would make him ornery in anyone's reckoning. It's also the age - teetering on the edge of manhood - where if he were a colt he'd be testing the mettle of the surrounding stallions in that time honored attempt to be the head of the herd. The head stallion, on the other hand, just sees an upstart little baby horse trying to usurp his position and feels it's his station in life to thwart every possible attempt at getting the upper hoof. This always winds up the same way, with the two of them happily sharing a bale of hay and cantering around the paddock.

But the posturing in the meantime is exceedingly difficult to take. Read back to Tiger attributes. Threatening one of my cubs makes me turn into some kind of ubertiger with sharp, sharp fangs and claws all set to rip out your brain by way of your intestines.

I try. I try to stay neutral. I try to stay out of the head butting and away from the flailing hooves, but the whinnying drives me insane. The big horse and I discuss this in more rational moments.

HORSE: He should respect me and not answer back when I tell him to do things.
ME: Then you shouldn't let yourself get caught up in arguments with him. If you let him have the last word, he will. He's you..but younger.
That's what I say. What the actual unspoken dialogue between us is:
HORSE: He should respect me and not answer back (because I'm the only one allowed to have the last word and I can go on and on and on even after he's not allowed to say anything else because I've told him to shut up. That's because I'm the boss and I need to make sure that I don't just WIN but WIN BIG)
ME: Then you shouldn't let yourself get caught up in arguments with him. (Because you're as bad as he is). If you let him have the last word, he will. (And that last word usually will be some kind of expletive tossed over his shoulder before he stomps off to his room). He's you...but younger. (He's my cub...and no matter what I might say NOW while I'm calm and rational, I'm going to hate you if you try and force your authority (pick on him) or insist that he does things without question (pick on him) and hurt his little self-esteem (pick on him).
Today, the horses went at it again. Baby horse didn't do what he was supposed to do or do it quickly or quietly enough for big horse. Big horse immediately pulls the card I'd given him the night before and tells him to stop arguing right now. Baby horse mumbles and does as requested. Big horse then takes advantage of the lull to tell baby horse why he should be listening to big horse etc. etc. (WIN BIG), and baby horse tosses expletive over shoulder and heads for a different part of the pasture. (His room). This would ordinarily have ended with both of them cooling off in various parts of the field and then coming together for a communal feed from the hay bale.
Only today was different. Today big horse came into the room to rehash what I had just heard through the walls. Only big horse's tale was slanted to make big horse look better. This brought out the Tiger in me with full force and I said some REALLY MEAN THINGS! Only they didn't seem mean at the time when they were being delivered with righteous tiger anger. At the time they seemed like a good alternative to ripping out his brain by way of his intestines with my SHARP SHARP TIGER CLAWS. So big horse left to find baby horse. Only baby horse wasn't in the pasture. AT ALL. Baby horse had jumped the fence and gone off to join the circus or something. Of course, he arrived back later after running wild and free for a while. By which time big horse was off licking his tiger wounds in the stable (the games room).
So now the two horses are happily sharing a bale of hay and I'm the mean evil tiger person who gave the big horse nasty nasty tiger holes in the abdomen with my mean and nasty tiger words.
And the little snake is sunning herself on a rock and wisely keeping well out of the way.
They shoot horses don't they?.....

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Class Act


Anne Bancroft. A Class Act. Posted by Hello

One of my favorite actresses, Anne Bancroft, died today of uterine cancer. This was one talented lady. I mean she had the kind of acting ability that made you completely forget she was just playing a role. She BECAME whoever she was playing at the time. She played the cradle-snatching Mrs. Robinson and the poorly-sighted teacher of Helen Keller - Annie Sullivan - with equal grace and aplomb. I loved her portrayal of the actress who kissed John Hurt in 'The Elephant Man', and of her role as Sir Anthony Hopkins' penpal in '54 Charing Cross Road'.

She was Mel Brook's wife for 41 years, and Max's mother for 33. How sad it must be for them to lose her to this horrendous and insidious killer of women. And how much I wish that as much money, time and effort was being plunged into the search for a cure for 'women's diseases' as was being ladled into helping men get an erection. Not that I think the scientific community are in any way biased, but if we're betting on which comes first, a serious treatment of breast, cervical and uterine cancers, or one for prostate and testicular cancers, my money has to be on the second batch.

Thanks for everything Anne. You were a class act. Sleep well.

Work Part Deux

My job - my real - actually makes money from it - job is transcriptionist. For those of you who don't know what a transcriptionist is, allow me to enlighten you. A large firm in New York hires transcriptionists, who don't actually work under the auspices of the firm, which would entitle them to things like health benefits and other silly things, but are private contractors and responsible for making their own tax, social security and other arrangements. This firm then notifies you of a job they may have for you. You log onto a special ftp folder on the company site and download the audio file you find there to your own pc.

Next you plug in your footpedal and your headphones (all hardware provided at your own expense since you're a private contractor and absolutely get ALL the perks, natch). You open a template provided by the company in New York in your MS. Word program, hit your foot pedal, listen really, REALLY hard, and type what you hear. All of this for the princely sum of 6c a word. This should show you two things: Firstly that the ideal place to do this job is somewhere where the cost of living is REALLY cheap (Washington doesn't fall into this category). Secondly you'd better be able to type REALLY fast and REALLY accurately so you don't have to spend too much time in the proofreading part of the job. Cause really, gentle reader, 6c a word gross, before tax and social security and health benefits is NOT A LOT!

But it's an odd little job, as it gives you a window into the lives of people other than yourself, through listening to the audio they've created. I've been a fly on the wall in ACS cases where parents who blatantly don't deserve their children back are fighting to regain custody of them. I type those with an inward snarl and root for the ACS prosecutors. I've listened to groups of top directors in fields like pharmaceuticals sitting around a table discussing better ways to fleece the public, or financial and banking professionals giving the inside scoop on how the public should be glad they even allow us to keep our money with them. I choke back my anger and try to avoid deliberately renaming the participants as 'dickhead' and 'dorkwad'.

I've also done plenty of Board of Education transcripts, where the schools are attempting to suspend students for behavior which makes me appreciate how good my own teenagers are. I type those with kind of a righteous fervor, and pray that the hearing officer makes the decision I would have come to and doesn't send the little miscreant back to the school to further torture its teacher and fellow students. I also subscribe to the Judge Judy school of thinking that the worst children quite often have the worst kind of enabling parents who will defend their child even in the light of the most outlandish behavior imaginable.

After doing a transcript for a firm of stockbrokers where one of the participants was describing taking phone calls about work while she was in LABOR WITH HER TWINS! I decided that some people are WAY too devoted to their jobs.

But I think my favorite transcript of all was a film maker who decided to make a celebration of her elderly parents' life by sitting them down for an interview on the eve of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Listening to these two sweet old people talk about meeting each other, marrying, and raising their not insubstantial brood was incredibly touching. At the end of the interview, their daughter had them read the verses inside the card another one of the daughters had designed and made for them which would serve as the announcements for the festivities. It was a poem about old love vs. young love, and the old lady's voice was breaking as she was reading it aloud, and TRUST ME...it's not easy to transcribe audio when you can't see through your own tears. So YEAH, I'M SAPPY...SUE ME! That one transcript was like a bonus for all of the cut throat, wheeler dealer, NASTY people I get to transcribe a lot of. I would have done that one for free for the enjoyment it gave me, and I hope that the two of them had an absolutely SPLENDIFOROUS anniversary bash.

So now I'm off to type up some more car insurance claims. You know, there was a British comedian named Jasper Carrott (yes honestly) in the seventies who used to make a big part of his routine the true details of what people would put in their car insurance claims. Things like:

  • Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I haven't got.
  • I bumped into a lamp post which was obscured by human beings.
  • The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
  • I knocked over a man. He admitted it was his fault as he'd been knocked down before.
  • I saw a sad-faced, slow-moving old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.

I used to think those things were a clever comedian's comic invention. Now I know that people actually say these things and more besides. 6c a word? Yeah....but the entertainment is free!!

Michael, Michael Michael!!!

Yesterday was the first full day of jury deliberation in the Michael Jackson trial. And what a day it was. That led me to a little thinking about all of the....

Things I have learned from the Michael Jackson trial
  • Joseph Jackson - family patriarch of the Jackson clan has a tendency to lose family members - or bits of his mind - as evidenced yesterday in his little crowd frenzying futile trip to the courthouse in search of one of his children. We weren't ever sure which one it was, but it did whip the fans into a frenzy of "Michael is innocent" chanting outside the jury room.
  • Michael Jackson is not the pedophile we thought he was. He actually is someone jailed because of his political beliefs by a racist regime - at least according to Jesse Jackson who loves to compare him to Nelson Mandela. (Oh and btw...Jesse is not the oldest Jackson brother, although he'd like to be.)
  • A good legal team always involves at least two spokespeople who are not covered by the Judge's gag order, along with your personal agent and your personal magician. Marvo the Magnificent may soon be looking for extra work since I'm not sure that they allow personal jugglers inside the big house.
  • Grown men sleeping with small children who are not related to them by blood or marriage for 365 days straight are doing absolutely nothing wrong as this is perfectly natural and innocent and means pure love. Ask NAMBLA.
  • Bubbles the chimp is eternally grateful he died before the real circus began.
  • The Jackson prosecution is actually a conspiracy between prosecutor Tom Sneddon and Tommy Mattola of Sony Records in order to bankrupt Jackson and regain the Beatles catalogue in perpetuity for Sony.
  • The Jacksons have another sister! Janet, Latoya and Rebbie, who apparently didn't have a cool enough name to be a Jackson sister. She does have all the right moves though, as evidenced in the staged standing up and walking out in unison with the other two girls when the prosecution got up to make their closing argument. Ohhh, that hurt. That really hurt. NOT.
  • Contrary to what Azrael has always believed, Michael and Latoya are NOT the same person! We've now seen them side by side without mirrors. However as Azrael points out, MJ does have a constant magician on staff. Hmm.
  • Most people can name more of Snow White's dwarves than the actual members of the Jackson Five.
  • I've noticed that out of all of the talking head defense attorneys who guest on Court TV and support Michael Jackson in his plea of innocence would as a common rule of thumb NOT want their own children to stay overnight at Neverland. Go figure.
  • Wearing actual military medals from foreign lands, when one has not actually done anything to earn said military medals from foreign lands, tends to really piss off the people who live in foreign lands.
  • When you are facing something you don't want to face, it's a good plan to have a low back injury. It even allows you to go to work in your pajamas. (Or to court, depending on which is closer or more pertinent for your situation.)
  • Michael Jackson wears REALLY ugly and boring pajamas.
  • Azrael doesn't think Michael Jackson would make a good straight porn star due to his distinctive skin coloration. I think Michael Jackson would make a bad porn star because his nose would probably choose an inopportune moment to fall off.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Whoever Invented Work Should Have Stayed And Finished It!

Yes, I have been conspicuously absent from my brand new baby blog since my b-day weekend. The reason behind that is the horrendously awful devil demon which masquerades as 'work'.

To begin with I had to get the website put together. Now I don't know if it's that time of year or what, but lately I just have not had the patience for it. Time was, I would play with it, and pet it, and feed it lots of lovely articles and reviews, as though it was my absolute favorite soft little new puppy. Lately, the puppy and I have been having major disagreements.

I think it probably began when some fathead hijacked our mirror site. Thanks to the hijinks of our web domain renewal company who told us to renew. Okay, so I forgot to renew that one cause I thought Azrael was doing it. He thought I was doing it, even though it was only the MAIN site I thought was my 'sponsibility. Hmph. Well anyway, the main site (my 'sponsibility) got renewed. The mirror site (Azrael's 'sponsibility) didn't. Trying to renew it at that point according to the web domain people wasn't possible. We'dhave to wait until it came back out into the land of available names again. Then something hideous happened in January of this year. We'd been doing so well! Our hits had been leaping and bounding up every month until they were teetering at the 70,000 a month mark!!

Then January came along, and all of a sudden instead of getting 3,000 hits per day, we were getting like...well...300 or so. Steps back in amazement! This can't be right!! What the ferk is going on here?? Azrael did his little site search thing, and found out...shock, horror, that the mirror site didn't have a mirror of our main site anymore. Noooo....it had one of those nasty nasty "Page not found" things. That's when we figured out that it was time to go and renew the mirror site. I went to the webdomainplaceIhate and put in the details for the site, and my credit card info, and renewed it. Yowza. All done. No problem. I even got my credit card bill the next week and checked it, and saw that they'd debited my account for the renewal. Cool beans.

Cut to February. Checking our hit total, we found the same dismal problem. When we checked the mirror site, we found that it didn't have a mirror of our main site anymore. Oh no. It didn't even have a nasty nasty 'Page not found" thingy. Oh no, gentle reader. What it did have was a site that WAS NOT OURS!! It was a stupid page of ads and gothic links that didn't actually have any links on it.

Of course I went to the WHOIS look up thingy, and found out that the day AFTER they'd debited my credit card, the webdomainplaceIhate had sold our name to some other weasely little squeak of a slimebag. Of course, at the time I didn't actually KNOW he was a weasely little squeak of a slimebag. That knowledge didn't come until later, after I'd contacted him and explained the situation and offered to buy the site name back from him, and he gave me some smart ass little shit reply about 'never selling his sites'. Ugh. So our mirror site was gone. It was like losing a favorite pet. Well okay, more like that cat that climbs in through the window and sleeps on the bed but you don't actually OWN and you wouldn't want to because it probably has fleas and you can do without the extra vet bills anyway what with the menagerie you already have. But it was a pet you LIKED and had come to expect to be there whenever you checked on it.

So now we just have the main site. Forever. As long as we remember to pay the bills. And our hits have gone back up again to pre-site-hijacking levels. But all of a sudden, I find that I don't have the energy for it anymore. I don't spend time throughout the month getting the site ready for its unveiling on the first. I wind up having to work like a demon fiend from hell the day before the first in order to update and archive and do all of the other stuff that's necessary, and because of that, I don't want to visit it anymore. But I do...cause I'M 'sponsible!