Blank Pages

The key to consistency for me, is occasional interruption. Routines are great, as long as they can be set aside at will, to be taken up again later.

For a while, each morning, this blog page sat open and blank on the screen at startup. That became an open invitation for shared misery during the month of March, so the window was only opened occasionally for the sake of avoiding unhealthy obsession. Now it is April, the blank page has returned to the morning routine.

The snow is melting fast now. The large brown patches of earth that slowly emerged over the last two weeks are spreading, reaching to touch one another in celebration of the sun. Then, it began to rain the night before last. Yesterday was cloud covered and windy. This morning clouds blanket the sky; it is snowing. Even so, it is warm enough to melt snow. Attila and I watch white’s departure with fascination and delight.

Yesterday I signed on the dotted line for one month of World service at ancestry.com. Since, I’ve referred to, and transcribed information from, 126 documents. Distant relatives who emigrated to the USA during the 1800s are coming into focus. This work is very intense, so I’ve installed software to force myself to take a 10 minute break every hour; otherwise I’d sit for hours one end without moving, which isn’t healthy.

Years ago I entertained the idea of busking for change on Bloor Street in Toronto. That never came to fruition; there were too many other things, like single parenting, graduate school, and stuff like that, to keep me more than busy. It all came back to me though, when I saw this little video!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 99.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 1.0°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 96 %
Wind: WNW 18 gust 30 km/h

Quote

“Never part without loving words to think of during your absence. It may be that you will not meet again in life.”
Jean Paul Richter
1763 – 1825

Will Melt

Transition: “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”. So says my computer’s dictionary.

That is definitely what I am experiencing today, transition. I was numb, my feelings buried deep so as not to be evident in any way, so as not to set off the hostility and retaliation of my former coworker. I was tormented, and helplessly watched others being tormented, for much of the month of March. Now the feelings generated by that experience are slowly rising to the surface, they are not pretty. And how are they manifesting? The kitchen tap is dripping, it infuriates me! There is a small smudge, left when an insect was killed with a fly-swatter, on the wall, near the ceiling, in the bathroom; I can’t see it, sitting at the computer. But I know it is there, and it is irritating me no end! This isn’t easy, all this fury and irritation aimed at my immediate environment. Keeping busy is very important at this point in the process of recuperation. Attila, so far, has not come under fire, so you could say things are going rather well!

Having written all this, I just glanced out the window and a robin hopped onto a branch just outside the window; reminding me that there is beauty everywhere. Attila says he heard a robin two evenings ago, while he was splitting wood for the evening fire. Spring is arriving.

It is sunny this morning, so I took myself out of doors to collect kindling. It is a good time of year to be walking about in the bush, the snow has melted and frozen into a thick hard crust, which bears my weight. The snow will melt under the hot sun in the very near future. I found all sorts of smallish branches that had fallen over the last few weeks. Dead wood, that will make excellent kindling. My small contribution to the daily firings of the masonry fireplace. We are still quite comfortable, the sun is warm and helps to heat the living area.

Today the spring cleaning takes the form of vacuuming, a job much hated; at least I hate it. Attila has it well in hand. He is also baking an apple crisp, and frying up some bacon bits to freeze, as a topping for pizza. I have collected kindling from the bush, folded the laundry that dried overnight on racks in the living room, where I had draped it the night before and later I will try to bake bread for Attila’s lunches next week. A very quiet day at the homestead.

Now that I have very few hours of work scheduled, my attention is wandering back to genealogy, and the book that needs a little more research in the US records before it is ready for publication. This will involve further investment in an account at Ancestry.com, but there is no other option if I am to proceed with the work; research costs money. I’ve invested decades of my time, and some little cash, into this book, and would like to get it completed. Books like these are priceless, there is no profit to be made on them, but one hopes to recoup a bit of the cost of research and publication.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2 °C
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 2.0°C
Dewpoint: -0.4°C
Humidity: 84 %
Wind: WSW 11 km/h

Quote 

“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”
Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955

On the Screen

Så som i himmelen / As in Heaven
Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Frida Hallgren, Lennart Jahkel, Helen Sjoholm
Director:Kay Pollak
Swedish with English subtitles.

All Gone

Dead Pine Bird Feeder, April 2, 2011

Dead Pine Bird Feeder, April 2, 2011

Complete, over, water under the bridge, old news… my last hours at the old office, with the negative coworker, came, and are now gone. All gone.

I am blank.

The sun is shining, guiding me back to composure and balance.

We are now officially out of firewood. All gone. It was a long, cold winter. Attila took his chainsaw, hiked through the snow, through the bush, found a small dead tree standing, felled the dead tree, sectioned it, loaded it onto a sled and pulled the load of wood home. That will provide heat for a few more days. We will have to purchase more firewood this spring, to stack and dry for next winter. The purchased wood is delivered by truck, it is dumped out the back of the truck onto the yard. Attila then carries the wood by wheelbarrow, back to the wood shed to be stacked. It is a very big job, moving all that wood.

I’ve done little in the way of domestic maintenance over the last few weeks. Today spring cleaning will begin, slowly. I’ve stared with filing, which is always a satisfying and quick way to reduce visual clutter.

Shopping is a challenge here in the bush. When we lived in the city, we belonged to a food co-op, where we ordered local and organic food in bulk. We found a small co-op here, but the orders were so intermittent that it wasn’t working out for us. So, I setup a company to purchase bulk food. We don’t sell much, and the orders have to be quite substantial to avoid high shipping charges. However, several orders a year of bulk items keeps the supplies well stocked, for us and our customers. We were to receive an order on Friday, but that didn’t work out due to a series of small miscommunications. The order will arrive Tuesday, which works out very well. We have ordered things like an 11 kg bag of red lentils, things you just cannot pick up at the local grocery store. We do not buy pre-processed foods, just ingredients. Buying ingredients is such an “old fashioned” way to handle the daily preparation and consumption of food. Old is better I think, at least in this instance.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8 °C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 8.0°C
Dewpoint: -6.2°C
Humidity: 36 %
Wind: W 21 gust 35 km/h

Quote 

“My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.”
P. J. Plauger

Notes

P. J. Plauger

“P. J. Plauger is an author and entrepreneur. He has written and co-written articles and books about programming style, software tools, and the C programming language.
He founded Whitesmiths, the first company to sell a C compiler and Unix-like operating system (Idris). He has since been involved in C and C++ standardization and is now the president of Dinkumware. In January 2009 he became the convener of the ISO C++ standards committee, but in October 2009 he tendered his resignation after failing to pass a resolution to stop processing any new features in order to facilitate the promised shipping date for the C++0x standard.
Plauger wrote a science fiction short story, “Child of All Ages”, first published in Analog in the March 1975 issue, whose hero was granted immortality before attaining puberty and finds that being a child who never grows up is far removed from an idyllic Peter Pan-like existence. The story was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1975 and a Hugo Award in 1976. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1975, notably beating John Varley for the award.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._J._Plauger

So Tired

One more day to go. Tomorrow is my last day as an employee at this office, as of Monday I am based out of the new office. This was the last day working with the negative coworker. No surprises today, just tedium, not so bad. Tomorrow I work there alone, so it remains to be seen if there will be any surprises waiting for me on my very last day. I hope not.

Tomorrow afternoon my recovery period will begin. I expect a bit of pain as I begin to thaw, but it should be short lived.

I am very, very tired.

Luna and Janus found and purchased their new house, it looks very nice; needs just a little bit of work, superficial stuff that will make it their own.

The weather has been beautiful, sunny and warm.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5 °C
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 100.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 5.0°C
Dewpoint: -8.9°C
Humidity: 36 %
Wind: W 17 gust 31 km/h

Quote

“A man’s silence is wonderful to listen to.”
Thomas Hardy 

Better Days to Come

As the week progresses, the pressure felt by my negative coworker to mount final attacks increases. This last week has been one of missing items. Where an item needed to perform customer service was nowhere to be found, while I was dealing with the customer, the customer became distressed. I searched for that item a total of four times, over a period of days, once during my break, and the item was not there. Then, after my negative coworker had been on duty by herself following the incident, the item was suddenly there and my negative coworker “rescued” the customer from my seeming ineptitude in having been unable to locate the item sitting “right in front of me”. Very tiring game that. The second item was part of an inventory I was asked to check. The item wasn’t there and then, again, after my negative coworker had been on duty by herself following the incident, the item was suddenly there. Of course either incident might have been my own error; I’m certain the first one wasn’t, the second one might have been. I am aware that when the supervisor is onsite this sort of thing simply stops happening. The supervisor’s comment on any discussion describing these sorts of incidences is, “I wasn’t there”. It is a sad situation all around. I am reminded of the movie, Gaslight.

Such is employment in the modern corporate world; I am extrapolating from my own experience.

These last three days will be her last opportunity to inflict herself upon my work directly. She will have the means to afflict me after I’ve left, but a direct hit becomes more complicated and dangerous to her own interests once my relocation has gone into effect. I am hoping my replacement, who is much younger than I am, will have the energy and the predisposition to keep her otherwise occupied for years to come. Although I feel rather battered at this point, I am holding strong; I continue to meet the barrage of head games with faith in better days to come and to offer the best customer service I can under the circumstances.

I need to keep a record of this experience, so that I do not question my decision to leave this office for a more positive work environment with fewer hours. From the logical and financial perspective, this is a step backwards. From an employment perspective it is a step sideways. From a personal perspective it is a big step up. Hopefully the reduction in work and income can be accommodated by a slight alteration to our lifestyle.

The weather has been relatively balmy, making it clearly evident that spring is on its way. A blanket of snow still covers the forest floor, and our yard, but its boundaries are retreating fast. Two modest firings a day in the masonry heater are keeping the house cozy.

Although our television service will be let go, we are well entertained by Netflix. Their roster of programs may be somewhat dated, but since most of the programs and movies are new to us we care not. We have just finished viewing the first series of The Duchess of Duke Street, which we thoroughly enjoyed. There is a second series, but Netflix does not offer it, we are sorry to find.

Luna and Janus are in the process of purchasing a house in a distant town. They will be far away from Terra and Lares, and our little house in the city, but closer to our house in the country. Their new place looks like a jolly house though, a place where the grand babies will thrive.

Attila and I are now able to plan regular visits to our little house in the city. We look forward to an upcoming two-day weekend in April! It will be a good time for getting out and working in our gardens, doing a spring clean up around the place.

A friend posted this on Facebook, enjoy!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

0 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 0.0°C
Dewpoint: -8.2°C
Humidity: 54 %
Wind: SSE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -2

Quote

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”
Peter Drucker
1909 – 2005

Notes

Peter Drucker

“Basic ideas
Several ideas run through most of Drucker’s writings:
Decentralization and simplification. Drucker discounted the command and control model and asserted that companies work best when they are decentralized. According to Drucker, corporations tend to produce too many products, hire employees they don’t need (when a better solution would be outsourcing), and expand into economic sectors that they should avoid.
A profound skepticism of macroeconomic theory. Drucker contended that economists of all schools fail to explain significant aspects of modern economies.
Respect of the worker. Drucker believed that employees are assets and not liabilities. He taught that knowledgeable workers are the essential ingredients of the modern economy. Central to this philosophy is the view that people are an organization’s most valuable resource and that a manager’s job is to prepare and free people to perform.
A belief in what he called “the sickness of government.” Drucker made nonpartisan claims that government is often unable or unwilling to provide new services that people need or want, though he believed that this condition is not inherent to the form of government. The chapter “The Sickness of Government” in his book The Age of Discontinuity formed the basis of the New Public Management, a theory of public administration that dominated the discipline in the 1980s and 1990s.
The need for “planned abandonment”. Businesses and governments have a natural human tendency to cling to “yesterday’s successes” rather than seeing when they are no longer useful.
A belief that taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure.
The need for community. Early in his career, Drucker predicted the “end of economic man” and advocated the creation of a “plant community” where individuals’ social needs could be met. He later acknowledged that the plant community never materialized, and by the 1980s, suggested that volunteering in the nonprofit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride.
The need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value. This concept of management by objectives forms the keynote of his 1954 landmark The Practice of Management.
A company’s primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company’s continued existence.
An organization should have a proper way of executing all its business processes.
A belief in the notion that great companies could stand among humankind’s noblest inventions.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Drucker
[Although not in agreement with all of the concepts put forth by Drucker, he does provide food for thought.]

Gaslighting

“From the film’s title, “gaslighting” acquired the meaning of ruthlessly manipulating an individual, for nefarious reasons, into believing something other than the truth.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslight_(1944_film)