Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Every Day is a Gift

sundial_warsawIn our culture how do we primarily mark the passage of time?

  • A year seems an overwhelming increment — until the moment you sit back and wonder where they all went.
  • Weeks and months have their rhythms but those rhythms are subject to disruption, sometimes intentional, other times circumstantial.
  • Seconds and minutes fly by too fast.
  • Hours are rather nebulous. If the metric system were ever to be applied to time, I’ll bet the hour would go through the most radical transformation, likely whittled down from 24 per day to 10.

Ah, did someone say “day”? We mark time primarily by days, don’t we? What is unique about the day is it correspondence with our circadian rhythm. Only the day is demarcated by an activity necessary for survival. That activity is, of course, sleep.  Each day is  back-ended — well, technically front-ended — by a period of restorative sleep — during which the body rests but the mind stays active.

On MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, the host famously marks time in days — counting up the number of days since the Bush administration’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq and counting down, originally, the number of days until the 2008 election, and currently the number of days, now in single digits, until the inauguration of Barack Obama as the next U.S. president.

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Unappetizing Irony — Layoff Edition

The phrase “delicious irony”, while not a cliché, is overused in this medium. So I won’t use it … again. I will, however, riff off it: What follows is a rather unappetizing piece of irony.

As I sat here earlier today in my quiet corner of the office minding my own business “to a fare-thee-well” as the late hockey announcer Gene Hart was fond of saying, word reached me that 28 of my colleagues were laid off today — on top of the 20 laid off last fall. One of those laid off today has worked here for 12 years and lives in my neighborhood. His work will be outsourced to India. We’re not friends, but our politics are similar, and we have chatted about that subject from time to time. Nice guy. I didn’t have much occasion to work directly with him, but from all accounts he was a dedicated employee. I feel bad for him.

Here’s the ironic part: The last time we talked he told me how he went to the Hillary Clinton campaign event in West Chester, PA, April 19, and by luck got a chance to talk to the candidate for a half-minute or so.

He asked Clinton what she intends to do about …


… the outsourcing of US jobs overseas.

See … I told you it was unappetizing.

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Not as Much as a Toenail on the Limb

As a member of a professional organization for technical writers, I dutifully cast my ballot online in the local chapter’s executive board election. I know only one of the candidates personally — the next president (who will do well if the job requires a lot of pontificating) — but I did scan their campaign statements.

Here’s the ballot I cast:

QC\'s PMC ballot

As you can see I really went out on a limb: I voted for the three candidates running unopposed, but I abstained from choosing between the two candidates for secretary. Is that not the epitome of indecisiveness?

Actually I did more than scan the statements of the secretarial candidates. I read them. Yet I still couldn’t choose between the two. I think I got hung up on gender. The candidates are of opposite sexes. I didn’t want to discriminate on that basis. Oh, I should add that as I cast my ballot I was enjoying a lunch of milquetoast at the QC Diner.

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Casting About for Just the Right Word

thesaurusOK, now I know why I frequently struggle to come up with just the right word: There are too damn many words to choose from …

The English language is now approaching one million words! That’s nearly four times the number of words in Spanish and ten times the number in French. In this Baltimore Sun article, reporter Stevenson Swanson interviews Paul Payack, owner of Global Language Monitor.

Using mathematical formulas, Payack tracks new words as they crop up in databases of printed materials and on the Internet. If the number of citations reaches a critical mass, he adds the word to his master lexicon, which he compiled by assembling the word lists of about a dozen major English dictionaries, such as the Oxford English and Merriam-Webster’s.

Payack believes the creation of words has sped up in recent decades in part because of the rapid growth in the number of people who speak English as either a first or second language. He puts the number at 1.35 billion.

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Tech writer’s block

Writer’s blockCan doing some non-technical blogging help cure a horrendous case of technical writer’s block?

Stay tuned …

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