Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Credit cards

So the government has passed a law restricting credit card rates and fees. Yay. So now they'l go after people in some other way, because they aren't going to give up that income stream just because a Washington suit says they have to. Especially when the suits are acting too little, too late.

Best thing to do, stop using credit cards. There's little pieces of green paper that do just the same thing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Ballad of the Middle Manager

I was just thinking yesterday of the album Fresh Aire III by Mannheim Steamroller, and how my original copy is old, tape, and missing. When I went looking for it I found a copy of Dr. Jane's Science Notes, and I took the opportunity to listen once again and refresh my memory of the Ballad, which is one of the more interesting and complex pieces. I had once tried to look up the lyrics online only to discover that they weren't here. I'm going to fix that. Someday I'll do the Anthem of Bureaucracy, too, but I don't think I'll do the Muscles of the Kitty Cat. Feline anatomy in Latin isn't my thing.

Yes, he's a Middle Manager, without a claim to fame
Except a high partition and a sign that bears his name
And he blusters to intimidate the members of his staff
Who wait until he leaves the room before they dare to laugh.
He makes no great decisions and his insights are but rare
But he calls a million meetings and he's almost always there
to record in finest detail what we do not need to know
And he turns it into memos which descend on us like snow.

Writing memos, memos, memos to directors and to stenos
Little squares of colored paper by the reams, reams, reams.
Writing any piece of rot that impinges on his thought
Even though it isn't worth a hill of...beans.

Yes he's a Middle Manager, he is without a doubt.
You know him by the quantity of paper he puts out.
He is slow to catch a meeting and he won't pick up the slack
And if you're a fellow manager he'll stab you in the back.
But behind the mounds of clutter that he keeps for their effect
He belabors second fiddle so the bosses won't suspect
That he's far outrun his talent so must over-compensate
Lest they find him out and send him back to monitoring crates.

Writing memos, memos, memos to directors and to stenos
Little clumps of colored paper, how they swell, swell, swell.
Though a manager efficient finds the spoken word sufficient
No one sees you have been working when you tell, tell, tell.

Yes, he's a Middle Manager, with collars snowy white,
And all he does is pass the buck, procrastinate and write.
There is no idea so trivial it fails to self-inflate
When typed on a Selectric or produced in triplicate.
He has no real importance so he has to make it plain
That he's got a busy writing hand if not a busy brain.
Immortalizing every word that leaps from pen to pad
And saving for posterity the thoughts he hasn't had.

Writing memos, memos, memos to directors and to stenos
Little squares of colored paper by the piles, piles, piles,
But the file clerk isn't smiling as she goes about compiling
Pretty folders of confetti for the files, files, files.

Yes he's a Middle Manager, and though he sort of tries
He's the prototype for whom the Peter Principle applies.
He will get no more promotions and should not have got this far
So he's always busy writing with his office door ajar.
He's got a silver fountain pen that's monogrammed in gold
And custom memo pads that are impressive to behold
But his output, though voluminous, is boring and absurd
And all that we can figure is they pay him by the word.

Writing memos, memos, memos to directors and to stenos
Managerial excreta that we dread, dread, dread.
But we know how to feel better, we turn on the paper shredder,
And we watch the pretty rainbows as they shred, shred, shred.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Duck Pond Day

Yesterday was my favorite event of all the events I do throughout the year. Not only is Duck Pond Day my local celebration, it's also one of the first I ever did as an author (I think I sold 11 books that first time) and as a bookseller. I go every year, with tables full of Echelon Press books and literally hundreds of litttle rubber duckies. Lately, I've been selling more of the duckies than anything else. A couple of years ago we sold 218 ducks before we sold one book! I finally had to start giving them away with the purchase of a book before people got a book. Now that's my standard promo, and it's amazing how many people will buy a book, just to get a duck.

This year's event was extremely damp, drizzle most of the day, fortunately not a lot of wind. We kept the books in little plastic bags just in case. The turnout was a bit low as well, but we sold about half as many books as last year. Maybe the fact that there were fewer vendors as well had something to do with it. We still sold what must have been about 200 ducks, though.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


All right!
In some bizarre, flukish way, the turmoil in the economy and the subsequent turmoil in the book industry has resulted in my books, Unbinding the Stone and A Warrior Made, being made available through Ingrams, where they had not been before. This is great news.
Now I have to figure out ways to get people to actually go into a bookstore or a bookstore website and buy them. Where's a brainstorm when I need one?

Must be something about today. I've also been getting some writing done, adding another page to the third Tarkas novel. As usual, the style differs from all the other books I've ever written. I have this rule, "If I've seen it done before, don't do it again", that I apply to all my writing. It means that my books are as original as I can make them. It also means that my writing style changes from one book to the next. This book, tentatively titled Tales of Uncle, is going to be in large part a series of stories told about Tarkas' adventures, to many of the people of Querdishan, where Tarkas and his nephew the storyteller live. Of course, it's not just a series of stories, they all fit in to a larger story that makes up the book, with the last half being a real-time adventure that propels the series into book four where things start to get wierd.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Isles of WHAT?

I was taking my daughter to the bus stop this morning, and we noticed a lot of tree debris on the ground. She asked me what it was for and I explained how trees and bushes grew. Then she asked me how trees and bushes lost branches, and I explained that too, mentioning termites and vines, etc., commenting that vines were parasites. She asked me what a parasite was, and I explained, using termites as examples of symbiosis, as opposed to vines and tapeworms which were parasites. After I explained what tapeworms were, she compared them to diabetes. I explained how they were different, that tapeworms steal food before you eat it (sort of), but diabetes is the body's inability to produce some needed substance to use food properly.

"Insulin," she says.

"Yes," I reply. "It's produced by some cells on the spleen, I think."

"No," she says, "It's the pancreas. They're called the Isles of Langerhans. I read about them in one of my Muse magazines."

My daughter is 8.