Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When You Wake In The Night

     Or when I wake in the night, at least, there's a pretty good chance it's because a calf cramp is coming on.

     I'm usually a bit fuzzy and I lay there, trying to remember: which way should I move my foot?  One direction will forestall or at least reduce the pain; the other will make it far worse, and the clock is ticking.  Any second, the cramp will spasm and then it will be too late.

     This week, I have been walking considerably more than usual, since I don't want to park my car where globs of thick, dark-colored grease will fall on it from a great height. Yesterday evening, feeling spry, I added to the total with a brisk walk down the Monon for a snack.  Three times last night, incipient cramps woke me.  Each time, I was just a little late remembering to move my foot so as to stretch the muscles of my calf ahead of the cramp.  After the second one, I put the heating pad under my calves and went back to sleep.

     Gentle stretching exercises are the order of the day. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In The Country Of The Hearing-Impaired, The Tone-Deaf Man Is...?

     I don't know.  He's certainly not king.  He's not the court jester, either, though you've got to read carefully to find out:

     Indiana Representative Jim Lucas figures if you're okay with licensing the public practice of one Constitutionally-protected right, you can't really argue against doing the same for the rest of them.  Irresponsible journalism can cause great harm, he points out, so why not start there?

     It's heavy-handed satire.  Rep. Lucas has long been a proponent of bringing "Vermont carry" to Indiana, but the hit dog yelps, especially in a news cycle dominated by President Trump's ill-informed* Twitter-fight with network news.  So of course, the Press bit.  And of course, the Press missed the point.

     Rep Lucas, never one to mind wrestling a pig, seems to have tried to use even more satire to clear things up.  It is working about as well as you might expect.

     Meanwhile, I'm sitting over here remembering that Mussolini was a journalist long before he became a fascist dictator, and that Mein Kampf and Das Kapital have, between them, prompted the murder of tens if not hundreds of millions of people. Guns are indeed dangerous -- but so are ideas and the ready promulgation of them.

     And so, too, is dangling temptation before the foolish and short-sighted.  Today, it's satire.  Who will the laugh be on tomorrow?  Personally, I support the unlicensed carry of journalists; they're only as dangerous as the person wielding them.
* Networks don't have licenses; individual stations do.  Only a tiny fraction of U.S. TV stations are actually owned by the network they carry.  Most people don't know that and assume that the station they watch ABNBCBS on must, in fact, be that network.  So when a President Tweets, "Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!" he is channeling H. L. Mencken's Everyman, and threatening his waiter for the misdeeds of the cook.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Morning

     I'm fresh out of commentary.  Hollywood is just a creepy as most people feared and California is burning -- though not, for some reason, burning down the people who deserve it, just big, wide swaths of Averageville, and where's the justice in that?

     Here in Indiana, the weather has turned sharply cooler, which is not going to be helpful for the ongoing tower work.  Beggars can't be choosers; this was  a last-minute job and id we get sunshine and no more than the mildest of breezes, I'll be happy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Well, That Was...

     ...I don't know.  Refreshing?  On the advice of my doctor, I just laid around most of the weekend.  I was working terrible hours all last week and fighting some kind of infection, so by the time I showed up at the doctor's office at 1:30 Friday afternoon, having been awake since 11:00 the previous night, I was kind of exquisitely exhausted.

     After discussing the hours I'd been working and how I was feeling, she looked at me and asked, "Do you work tomorrow?  Because I can write a note right now that you should be off for a couple days..."  This from a practice remarkably unreceptive to malingerers, if the things I have overheard in many years of going there are any guide.

     So I didn't do a whole lot yesterday -- a lovely day, though one that set my allergies tingling -- and today was cold and gray, fine weather for staying indoors and mostly horizontal. 

     Has it helped?  I think so.  Still not a hundred percent, but much better than most of last week.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lieutenant Who?

     Can you go wrong asking the robot, "Alexa, play Prokofiev?"  Maybe, though I don't know how.  This morning, she dished up the Lieutenant Kijé Suite, which ranks up there with Peter And The Wolf and the March from For the Love Of Three Oranges* as accessible highbrow music -- and those two are by Prokofiev, too.
     Lt. Kijé is The Officer Who Never Was, created by a slip of the pen, but enjoys a brilliant career despite not existing -- or his close associates and wife do, anyway.   And then one day, the Emperor sends for this loyal and clever officer, now a General....

     How is it that SF film makers have overlooked this amusing, twisty plot?  Sure, Hollywood is not too bright collectively, but there are a few with wit here and there.  Bigtime, sweeping space opera is overdue to be sent up and this delightful lampoon of Imperial bureaucracy, connivance and managerial befuddlement both accidental and deliberate would be just the thing.
* An opera for people dislike opera.  Find all that stagy singing and stomping about in Foreignese too high-toned and stuffy?  Sergi'll fix it!  He was supposedly a good Marxist (or willing to go along) but for this work, it's Groucho, Harpo and Chico, not Karl.  (Perhaps more Chico Marx, as the story comes from an Italian play based on an Italian fairytale, which is at least twice as Italian as Chico.) I can't find a synopsis that does it justice; the cast includes a lonely Prince, an evil witch, giant enchanted oranges, three beautiful Princesses, an over-involved Narrator, and planted audience members who appear to believe the opera is real life and try to "help" the protagonists out of the difficulties the plot puts in the way. Prokofiev being Prokofiev, the opera mixes bittersweet and slapstick -- and gets away with it brilliantly.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Because We're Soooo Unique, That's Why

     Crew Chief for the team greasing the guy wires* on the very tall tower for which I am responsible:

     "I don't know what it is about you people in Indianapolis. Everyplace else in the country where we work, they just toss us the keys and say, 'Let us know when you're done.'  We come here, and we've worked on almost every tall tower in Indy, and every one of 'em, they have to have someone there all the time we're working.  You Indianapolis people don't want us to have keys, or gate codes or anything!"

     Guess it's just that good old Hoosier diligence.  Or paranoia -- random vandalism, from mild to theft of all outdoor air-conditioning equipment, has a long history at towers here.  Me, I just do what my bosses tell me to do along those lines.
* "But why grease them," you might wonder, "do they squeak?"  They do not, or no more than necessary; what they do is rust.  Unless you do something, the heavy wire rope accumulates water and rusts from the inside out.  That could ruin your whole day, or at least mine. You can't paint them but a nice, thick coat of heavy grease, well packed in, makes a good barrier to the entry of water.  The downside is, it has to be renewed every few years.  This is best done during very hot weather but it doesn't always work out that way.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What Day Is This?

     We're short-handed and over-projected at work.  We had people on vacation and that was pretty well covered -- until one of the operating techs when to the doctor for a checkup and got an ambulance ride and immediate surgery.  Prognosis is good but returning to work is weeks away.

     That left Engineering with more tasks to cover than we have people.  There was no one move that could be made to cover what needed to be covered.  There were, however, a lot of little ones--  Everyone picked up a little overtime, an hour or so per day wherever our skill sets fit.

     But we were still short.  We needed to cover multiple locations at multiple different times of the day, doing everything from sitting at a console recording video and remotely steering cameras to supervising a crew doing dangerous work high above ground.  We needed someone with a wide array of skills.  Someone who could work three hours here, catnap, and go work two hours there, with a stop at a third location later.  Someone who could use some overtime pay.

     It turns out that I am someone.  Where I will be at any given time is difficult to predict -- home?  Work?  The North Campus?  It should all add up to at least my normal hours plus a little extra.

     I'm using Blogger's scheduled posting ability to at least give my writing here some semblance of regularity. 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017


     There are all kinds of toughness or backbone.  At one time, I worked for a company that had been founded as a family firm in the late 19th Century and was still largely controlled by family members.  They're still around, but they recently ran out of patriarchs and are now pretty much just another corporation.

     But back in the day -- starting several generations back -- one august pillar of the community followed another, well-fed, soft-spoken, hard-bargaining men in suits who actually were pillars of their community, endowing the local college, taking on major charitable projects, and running all the branches of their company in an old-fashioned, frugal but not grasping manner.  By the time things came down to the last of them sitting in the CEO's chair, none of them had needed to do a moment's hard physical labor in their lives.  It showed -- co-workers were known to remark that shaking hands with the Big Boss was like touching as baby's bottom: he didn't even have a writer's callus!

     And, as people who do some degree of physical work for a living, they looked a bit down on him for it.  About the most effort he'd ever gone to was reading contracts.

     One Autumn, he visited all of the corporation's facilities and gave short talks -- pep talks, really, appreciations of his employees and of the company, and he shook hands with everyone who attended.  Everyone.  Without exception.  Shook hands, smiled, looked us in the eye and said a word or two, often addressing people by name.

     No one questioned it at the time.  He was known to do similar things on occasion, though this was a bit more personal than usual.

     Three or four months later, a memo came out: the CEO had passed away.  He'd been ill for over a year, it said.  Cancer.  He'd had an inoperable tumor.

     Now tell me, just how tough did that soft-handed man have to be, to visit every person and place in his company, tell us what a fine company it was, how good its continued prospects were, how our efforts had helped make it what it was, look us in the eye, smile and...say goodbye without ever letting on anything was wrong, without ever tearing up or saying, "...this will be the last time..." or showing anything but good fellowship?

      I don't know that I could do it.  Could you?  Not every kind of toughness is obvious at first glance.  

Monday, October 09, 2017

Breakfast Steak

     It's self-indulgent to take a nice, two-inch thick filet mignon and cut it into two thinner breakfast steaks, but it certainly is good!

     Slow-cooked, mostly covered, with fresh mushrooms and served with cherry tomatoes and a fried egg, it's very nearly (I left out the potatoes and bacon) a "full Bobbi breakfast," which is similar to a Full English Breakfast, only not exactly.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

It's The Weekend And Mom's Back In The Hospital

     You can guess where I'll be spending part of my day off. 

     I might spend some of it at Doc-In-A-Box, too.  My own woes, minor though they are, do not seem to be getting better.