Call the waaaaahmbulance

My apologies for having been unintentionally whiny on the Twitter for the last day or so; I didn’t mean to sound like the “boo hoo I’m sick” guy. You see, last week I got a sinus infection, which begat bronchitis, which at this point I believe begat walking pneumonia. Fun!

Now normally I’m not that whimpering type of sick person. If I’m injured or don’t feel well, l keep it to myself and work through it. If anything, I need to be spurting blood out of my eyeballs before I’ll even consider making an appointment with my doctor. But this weekend I’ve felt the need to mention it, if only out of frustration, and lack of anything else interesting or funny to say.

I have a ton of work to get done, and had planned on a full working weekend. But whatever it is that I have is literally knocking the life out of me, and it’s irritating as all hell. I want to be working, but I just don’t have the energy. And when I’m not working, I’m not happy. So I’m being petulant and cranky about it. I hate being on the couch, unable to do something worthwhile. “Immobile” is just not an acceptable state for me, even when I know it’s the right thing.

I’m also a bit angry at myself for getting sick in the first place. Yes, I know the original sinus infection was probably viral and not directly my fault. But I normally take excellent care of myself, and I’ve let that slip over the last two weeks. I’ve been working a little too hard. And I haven’t been running as much, working out as hard, eating as well, resting enough, or making enough time for any kind of leisure or downtime. So I can’t help but conclude that I ignored my normal safety mechanisms against excessive stress and overwork, and my body failed as a result.

Do you care? Of course you don’t. Then why am I writing about it? Because it was an easy way to bang out 375 words on an otherwise lost day, and now I can spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch, under the illusion that I did something productive.

posted 9/28/08 at 12:18pm to Me me me · 0 replies · permalink

Being green, seeing red

One of the benefits I get from my enormous city tax bill is garbage removal and recycling. My city provides recycling bins and rolling plastic trash cans, which we green citizens dutifully place on the curb once per week.

One of my recycling bins1 is smashed and cracked to the point of uselessness. For the past several weeks, I’ve been putting it out on the curb, empty and upside down, in the hopes of indicating to the Guy Who Drives The Big Noisy Neon Green Truck Down My Street At 6:00am that I’d like them to recycle that bin. And each time, it just gets left there with the other bins.

Last week I tried throwing it into the trash can. The Guy Who Drives The *Other* Big Noisy Neon Green Truck Down My Street At 7:00am took it out of the trash can and left it on the curb with my other recycling bins.

Thwarted again.

So this week, I put a sign on the broken bin, saying “BROKEN – PLEASE REPLACE” in large, friendly letters. Again, the bin was left on the curb. But at least they took the sign off and recycled that.

Luckily my city has a dedicated phone line for Trash Issues, staffed by helpful and knowledgeable civil servants who are trained to answer all your disposal-related questions, such as “are pizza boxes recyclable?”, and “if I chop the body up, do I still need to put it in a plastic bag inside the can?”.

I called the number, and explained my bizarre situation. The nice lady on the other end put me on hold for a few moments, and then returned with her answer. “You have to put the broken bin inside of one of the other recycling bins if you want it recycled.”

On reflection, I guess that makes perfect sense.

  1. I have three of them. Paperless office? Pfeh.
posted 9/24/08 at 1:03pm to Slightly Too Long For Twitter, The stupid, it burns · 2 replies · permalink

To action

Everyone is aware of the difficult and menacing situation in which human society — shrunk into one community with a common fate — now finds itself, but only a few act accordingly. Most people go on living their every-day life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghostly tragi-comedy which is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world. But on that stage, on which the actors under the floodlights play their ordained parts, our fate of tomorrow, life or death of the nations, is being decided.

Those words are as true today as when Albert Einstein wrote them in 1950.

Have you called your member of congress or senator about the criminal $700B Wall Street bailout plan?

Have you taken any steps to protect what’s left of your dwindling civil rights?

Have you considered what will happen when the state owns and controls the industry you work in?

Have you had honest and open discussions within your family about what your future holds, and how you’re preparing for it?

Have you given thought to how else we could be spending the $12B per month that we’re currently throwing at the Iraq occupation1?

I could go on. But I think you get the idea. Am I being wee bit histrionic? Sure. And I know you don’t come here to read this sort of thing2. But I’m getting so weary of the lack of outrage around me. Things are going from bad to worse on a daily basis, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a voice.

Look, I’m not saying we all have to be activists; we have jobs and families and more responsibilities than we can manage as it is. And I’m not saying that we all need to stop what we’re doing and spend our time in a sky-is-falling mood; we all need our hobbies and distractions to keep us entertained and healthy and creative. But please, think of just one thing that is of great concern to you right now, and do something about it. Civil rights, energy independence, corporate welfare, Iraq or Afghanistan, breast cancer, autism, whatever. Make a phone call. Send a fax. Sign a petition. Hell, just make a $5 online donation to a local progressive candidate or a cause that’s meaningful to you. But do something. Today.

(I now return you to ddc’s usual nerdery and snark. Thanks for indulging me.)

[ 10:55am – 4th paragraph edited slightly for clarity ]
  1. You remember Iraq, right? That little war we won in 2003? And again in 2005? And again this year? Even though we’re still there? Remember?
  2. Knowing my audience, you probably already read the same blogs I do, and get this info already.
posted 9/23/08 at 10:18am to Our Doomed Planet, Politics · 2 replies · permalink

The family that drinks together

My friend Scott documents his drinking of a noxious Budweiser Chelada, via fine camerawork by his 9-year-old daughter. Hilarity.

If you’re on the Twitter, he’s @sclevy.

posted 9/22/08 at 11:55am to Lulz, Slightly Too Long For Twitter · 0 replies · permalink

Work space

I’ve been thinking about my workspace lately. More specifically, my workspace(s), plural. I’ve never been the kind of creative who has a special place “where the magic happens”; I work mostly out of my home office, but also my back yard, my sunroom, coffeeshops, bookshops, wherever. Provided I have relative quiet around me (or a pair of earbuds), I can be productive pretty much anywhere. It’s just something I’ve never needed to think about, because it’s never been an issue.

But obviously not all writing environments are equal, and recently I’ve become more keenly aware of exactly how productive I am and the quality of work I achieve under certain conditions. I’m getting a good sense for what helps me hit the “sweet spot” of my creativity, environmentally speaking. I haven’t quantified it just yet, but it’s made me consider trying to create one of those “special places”, and just what my requirements would be. Light and temperature are critical physical factors, but then so are less tangible things like creative ambience — e.g. is this the kind of room that inspires me to do creative work, or does it feel corporate and sterile?

My office right now is fine. It’s a nice finished room on the 3rd floor of my house, with a large desk, a small sofa, a fridge, a TV, and a large number of my books. But it’s far from my ideal of a writing studio; there is no natural light (save for the daylight that comes in from the hallway), there’s not enough shelving for the amount of books I’d like to keep in here, it’s insufficiently insulated, etc. If money were no object, obviously I would do something like build one from scratch in some other part of the house. But since that’s far from the case, I’m constrained to making decisions about how to convert my current space into something more environmentally comfortable, and conducive to my work style and habits. A space that can get me to that creative sweet spot. I’m not sure how to create that space yet, but I’m going to keep working on it.

So, for you creatives, what kind of requirements to you have for your workspaces? What helps you be most inspired, imaginative, and prolific? I’m especially interested in how you’ve molded a space for yourselves at home offices and studios. But if you work in an office where you’ve got control over your workspace and environment, that’d be interesting to hear as well.

posted 9/19/08 at 12:30pm to Random, Writing · 1 reply · permalink