Monday, September 1, 2014

"Life. Don't Talk to Me About Life."

I love Scientific American.

Life is a concept that we invented.
… an immense spectrum of complexity, from a single hydrogen atom to something as intricate as a brain. In trying to define life, we have drawn a line at an arbitrary level of complexity and declared that everything above that border is alive and everything below it is not.
(T)his division does not exist outside the mind.

There is no threshold at which a collection of atoms suddenly becomes alive, no categorical distinction between the living and inanimate, no Frankensteinian spark.
We have failed to define life because there was never anything to define in the first place.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Writing Desk

Being an author, there is a special depth to the problem I am suffering right now - the longing crush I developed on a desk I saw last week.

When my mom and I hit the used office furniture and military surplus store, and I found a good filing cabinet to bring home and clear off one of the major projects in my house (years of filing which would not even begin to fit in my old, one-drawer cabinet) ... I saw it there, like a gorgeous temptress, showing off that mid-century design I have craved all my life, and stretching out huge tracts of desktop, just calling to me.

I got a wild hair and made an offer for desk and filing cabinet combined, sure they would say no - and, ahh, to my chagrin, they did not do that.  They even said they'd honor the price without taking both pieces home immediately.

The thing is gigantic - three feet by SIX - and even its coffee mug rings seem charming to me. I can imagine both my laptops there, my research books, all my little gimcracks in the drawers.  Huge is good.  My current "desk" (likely originally a vanity; though it does have a modesty panel and finished "back" side, which is less usual in a vanity) is about eighteen inches deep, and the knee hole is so short sitting there cuts into my legs.  I sit high.  It's also fairly dark, and formica-topped, which does not make me particularly swoon.

I don't even know where the current desk came from, which is odd.  So much in this house is from family or thrifting/antique trips I can recall.  This one seems sort of provenance-free.  It is not greatly practical nor very romantic.

Being a writer, and never really setting myself up with a good, proper office, is sometimes frustrating - not to say outright bewildering, all things considered.

Lately, I've been spurred to some sort of autumnal version of spring cleaning - a great deal of nesting, and some very satisfying redoing of some of my rooms.  The bedroom, I shoved around a couple of weeks ago; shifting the bed to the eastern wall rather than the west - though I don't much like it, and will change it back again.  The former office, which had become a disused space mostly reserved for Gossamer to escape from Pen-Pen.  The sunny wing room, once home of Pen's cage, and having several former lives, but not much used in a very long time.

As of now, that sunny room, scarcely used since it was my little den, the first year I lived in this house, is my nice new office.  The filing cabinets are together in there - the new one housing my papers, and the old one now holding paper and photo paper and some miscellany, as well as one of two vintage stereos I have brought out of a difficult storage space since all that business about music bubbled up recently.  The other, my parents' beautiful 70s receiver and turntable, has a pair of vintage speakers on the way, I ordered just today.  It'll give us some George Winston and maybe a bit more, when I have a surprise birthday party for my mom.

Nominally, of course, it is this party inspiring me to make my house as nice as I *can* before it sees a house full of guests.  Deeper than that, I have other motivations, of course.  Motivations like being a real writer with a GOOD desk, like having a nice library, now I've commandeered Goss's room for myself.

Why bringing wasted space back into use, back to life, seems to have become more important, I don't exactly know, but it's certainly motivating.  And this isn't just about that desk - though it's enjoyable, certainly, having a bit of fun being silly about wanting it.  The former office/Goss's room is now a *much* more functional library, of sorts, a reading room so comfortable I can't wait to spend what portions of tomorrow aren't occupied in grocery shopping and laundry ploughing through pages I did not write.

I can't wait, either, to spend some time writing again - and at a good desk.  Even if it's not the one I've got a crush on right now.

It'll come.  I've made the space for it.  I'm excited ...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Eighties. My Forties.

Lately, the more pungent memories of the 1980s have been percolating around my brain.  I grew up in the fairly quiet swamps of the midatlantic South in the 1970s, and can still remember how bracing and almost frightening the 80s looked to the denizens of my world back then.  It might be expressed in a bit of silliness about “boom boxes” or the slight, benign, almost comical horror with which the less-young faced New Wave (though, to be fair, my completely wonderful grandma did sort of know who “Cindy Looper” was, which I still adore).  It might be the advent of Reagan and preppiness and the bewildering-even-then-to-my-eleven-year-old-self rather shocking backlash against a president once accepted warmly enough as a Christian and a Southern farm boy.  I remember “Thanks, Ron” and “morning in America” and a sense, at his first election, that the eighties were about to begin.

It’s hard to remember the rest of the eighties, around Reagan and Greed is Good and preppies and yuppies, but there WAS so much more to this period when I departed childhood (in some ways, all too abruptly) and began to learn to think, as my mom and dad taught me to, both critically and as an adult.

I remember the sound of the masses across the world, chanting SO-LI-DAR-NOSC, and I remember when Walesa’s name had an N in it in most American broadcasts.

I remember just how real the threat of nuclear war seemed - and how, in the most repulsive fashion, they made a movie about it which, actually, made itself something of a cultural phenomenon at the time.

I remember the music – not just the classic rock which never (even now) seems to have left my life, but the NEW things – New *Wave* not being the least of it – my brother’s albums, Nina Hagen and Oingo Boingo and Devo and even The Romantics.  I remember the very first single I ever bought, “Barracuda” – which makes me proud, that I didn’t buy something cheesy and awful I’d be embarrassed to admit a generation later.  It was the one record I could identify and afford, and I paid forty-five cents.  I could not tell you the B-side, and probably have not owned this artifact for twenty years now, but I know the first music I ever bought, and I know it was a pretty bitchin’ tune.

But even by the time I bought it, music was changing, and we got all Adam Ant-y and Duran Duran-y and Prince-ificated very quickly.  My freshman year in high school saw also the serious encroachment of cable TV into my community, and with it MTV – which, for you young-uns, actually was a REALLY big deal.

Imagine a world so small you’d remember “Video Killed the Radio Star” and that MTV was on channel 33 locally, for the rest of your life.

I expect it’s all but impossible to even quite believe in a world as small as where I grew up (a time when this blog post would have been beyond my wildest dreams - or my Prius), but it was in the eighties that world became so much bigger.  My family traveled internationally in 1982 – to Israel, and to Greece.  Just days after we visited it (as close as we were allowed), there was a shooting at the Dome of the Rock.  I was all of fourteen and still in my first-Christianity (the one inherited from my parents, not the one I came back to embrace so many years later), and I felt a kinship with Israel for a long, long time after we went.  Even now, realizing I don’t feel that sense of “ownership” we forge with places we’ve been is something of a surprise to me, as I think of it.  But my time there was spent in a place that both no longer exists, and is eternal in a way far beyond my paltry grasp.  I presume no claim, and find not only my remoteness, but its living presence now, to be utterly heartbreaking.

Imagine a world so small that you can touch memories of The Clash, Minor Threat, White Cross … and (shamefacedly, she admits) even Shawn Cassidy with the same na├»ve hand.  I always like to say my first concert was The Clash – but, before the seventies quite died, there was a teenybopper show at the Colisseum in town, and I drove my parents MAD over it, and my dad took me … and I was so actually-SCARED of the loud opening band I made him take me out of the venue before Cassidy ever took the stage.  I repented, of course, bitterly, as Da Doo Ron Ron or something piped its way above our heads, walking away – but dad was, quite rightly, having NONE of my begging him to drag me back inside.  So, in a way, I’m not quite lying …

But it’s symptomatic of the way of the world, of pop-culture, before it really took over and corporatized our whole life’s experience, that a kid obsessed with that particular teen idol would so quickly become a kid hanging out with the little, pale punks, being ooh-ed over by girls who wanted to know “how I got my skin so WHITE” and taking for granted my brother ending up on a classic album cover or Aweem-Awepping before Minor Threat (it was MT, wasn’t it, dear brother?) tore into their standard 30-second thrash songs.

It’s symptomatic of exactly the whiteness and quietness and swampiness and conservativeness of our world that he took to angry music, and that I was allowed to follow him.  Looking back, it seems almost odd my parents let me go with him – and that HE did – but we had expectations of safety, somehow.  The privilege of our quiet, white world, perhaps.  And – indeed – those earliest subcultural kids I hung out with, most of them having almost nothing compared to what I did, were a pocket of protection.  If you were inside that strange bubble, they were NOT letting anyone get at you, and I (and all the other girls) *were* safe amongst the torn tights and plain jeans and black hair and spray dye.  I was always safe with my brother – almost unbeknownst to me, and I suspect even unbeknownst to him, one of the most terrifying boys amongst a lot of kids calling themselves “punk” precisely to put people off.

Some of those kids liked Prince, though.  I know one in particular who got to be a bit of a Dead head, and ended up pretty mellow indeed.

We took what we could get.  There was no homogeneity in practice, not in a world like that.  If something promised to be cool, you crossed your personal genre boundaries, most of the time it didn’t matter much.  I certainly was no punk, but I was entirely part of my brother’s pack of friends – considered them mine – think they returned the favor.  I still hang out with subcultural types, particularly when Mr. X and I were socializing together, and never ever presume to own any given label, but find myself welcomed by all.

I had a hippie phase once identity was all up to me, once out of the house and discovering those early internet geeks on my campus, who combined nerd elitism and computers and a little quasi-mysticism with one or two charismatic and attractive upperclassmen to create an aura of clandestine and exclusive appeal.  I got as far as being a Twaddler, with that, but never made ‘Zard, which may have been as well, given my poor predilection for join-ery.  But:  fun.

Freshman year gone, right out of the gate in year two, I met Beloved Ex, and became not only the girlfriend of a townie, but began a years-long career as a bit of a hair-metal groupie.

Through all of this:  Reagan.  Bush.  Mandela.  The sound of Mutabaruka barely-singing, in horror, “WHAA?  Dem invade Angola again?” and the inevitable horrors of watching those less privileged than I – before college, and beyond, in those friends so much less privileged, less safe – less CONFIDENT – than I.  The little girl punk I will never forget, whose very (supposed) NAME meant “sweet”, and the girls passing out in bathrooms in college.

Always, a girl, worse for wear, reminding me my luck was not my own, and that not everyone had it.  Poor G, that exquisite and vanishingly tiny girl, taken advantage of and ending on the filthy tile in the dorm.  Or L, whom I loved so much, but whose life gave me vertigo and made me worry, even years after I lost her, years after she looked at me and said she knew she’d never see campus again.

Years and years later, the girls in bathrooms – so like the little punk girls (indeed, believing they are such), asking me how I get my skin so white.  Being tiny, tiny, and (when they find out my geriatric age), enjoining me, “Oh, please stay this cool!”

I look at the girls now, the tiny skinny ones, still so young, wearing “The Exploited” t-shirts someone actually made money off of, and all I can hear is the sound of SO-LI-DARI-NOSC and the echoing void where I know the face I am seeing is deaf to the reverberations.

I look at the world I share with them now – born in the nineties, perhaps – and see unions demonized.  That force which once ALL knew to be righteous – reduced to the impingement upon corporate margins.  The music around me – there is much raw reality to be had, but to mine for it has gone beyond my parameters.  I still take what comes, you see.  And what comes is so much less rough-edged, so much more processed.  Extruded.

Solidarity logo ... Image:  Wikipedia 

I look at my own experience – a public servant who got scared, and ran away before I could be run off without my volition.  I look at those who have not run, and the deterioration of what it is to serve our nation, even without ever carrying a gun, without ever being seen doing it.  It breaks my heart.

I came of age in a recession – made $10,000 a year, my first job.  By the time BEx and I married, I was the breadwinner and scarcely more than that – and temping, no less.  The year we had to ask, “Can we afford toilet paper?” when there was nary a square to spare, and more mac and cheese generic box meals (even without milk) than you could shake a stick at.

I left my marriage and the Midwest, and came home to my quiet, easy swamps, and tripled my income in five years.  From 10k to 30 by the time I was thirty.  And counted that a triumph.

But then, 2001.

And back again.  At the highest administrative echelon, in Risk Management, working with and for and around people I respected and even loved, for one of the largest securities firms in the country.  Back, and proud.

But then, 2008.

I’ve taken 4-digit pay cuts more than once in my life, I’ve learned … when to run.

It’s a paltry takeaway, in some ways.  Along with the fact that I’m corporatized enough, myself, now, to use words like “takeaway” …

I want to shut down the laptop, listen to the quiet neighborhood around my house, this city I’ve known all my life, its interstate humming, its quietness looming, reassuring … and turn on something my ex husband used to sing, to hear someone who once wrote music I actually inspired.

I want to be alone, with Gossamer, and Pen.

And I want so badly – not to be alone, anymore.  The eighties are twenty-five years gone.  The nineties, when I was still young too.  The aughts, or whatever you like to call ‘em.

I’ve got too much to do.  And I am afraid.  And proud.  And wide-eyed.  Peering through fog, at the indistinct and unknown world ahead.  Not knowing it brighter, not knowing it darker.  But here.  Still here.

Quick Commute Today!

After a trip this afternoon to a local company who provide promotional and marketing materials, I came home and worked the last hour and a half or so from here (the place is one mile from my house - handy!).  My office is in a bit of a state of flux - I haven't even used it in I don't know how long.

As often, especially lately, as I tend to plug myself in at my desk and hardly even get up - today, with time away from the office, and the drive time used in going to the business then heading home, I managed to get a LOT off the desk.  Those two things nobody will claim are still languishing, but I have followed up this week and can't push too hard.

It's been a zoo of late, but not in the sort of way that makes me complain.  Dizzying, to be sure - and something of a reminder of how new I still sort of am at this job/company - but really fulfilling.  New as I am, though - there are a few of us who started during this past year, so the acclimation has been perhaps baster than anywhere I've worked in a decade.  My two previous employers had heavy populations of folks who'd been there since G-d was in a onesie, so this is a much different kind of adjustment.

I've become really attached to this place, my team, the work.  It's surprising to me how consistently fulfilling it is, how concrete the daily accomplishments really feel.  I didn't want to get starry-eyed in the beginning, but the funny thing is how much more rose-colored my glasses seem to be nearly 3/4 of a year in, compared to the grateful-and-satisfied way I felt at the beginning, hedging my bets against the fear and regrets I had of leaving public service, and feeling I'm too old and have done this too many times to get swoony over yet another new job.

Weeeeelll, I may not be a swooning fourteen-year-old anymore, but heck if this hasn't turned out to be a good place.  I'm beyond content, all the way to satisfied - and grateful every day for the way things have gone.  I've been fortunate.

And a ten-second commute, in my comfy pants and sneaks (I did go upstairs and change clothes after I'd been home and online for half an hour or so), on a hot, sunny end-of-summer day is nothing to sneeze at.

Now I need to work out some supper.  And that is not the worst pain I've encountered in my life!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

99,201 Pageviews

Today, I'm fewer than 800 hits from 100k, which means the counter should turn over within a week.  Sadly, of late, more of the traffic than I like is coming from Moldovan bots on supposed-blogs "how to get rid of diabetes" and "halloween witch".  Pleh.

Even so, I have worked hard for the past few years, actually trying to make this place thematic and bearable.  Twitter has also been an effective way to share, and it's been gratifying to take an active hand in building the readership here.  Still, it's the readers I "meet" at Historical Fiction Online and the authors whose blogs I follow, whose generosity has made this blathering (seem) worthwhile.  Over the years, it's been a privilege and a pleasure to connect, even briefly and at the distance of the internet, with Elizabeth Chadwick and Ben Kane and Gary Corby and others.

Less than two years ago, I had fewer than 40k views, and had been at this blog for a few years.  So this is gratifying.  Thank you, everyone, for coming by!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26

Neat - on this day in history, women in the United States finally gained suffrage, and in 1973, August 26 was named Women's Equality Day.  This is also Geraldine Ferraro's birthday, which is almost too perfect.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Last night as I got ready for bed, I took the new laptop upstairs with me (amazing what a not-five-year-old computer has in battery life! actual wirelessness!) and poked around the music widget.  Of course, to set up my own playlists requires making some part of myself visible on Teh Intarwebs and potentially even spending MONEY, things my friends and family know to be anathema to my strong luddite spirit, but I did learn you can noodle good tunes out of the thing gratis and without sign-in.  And so, as naturally I would, I chose Bowie for the maiden tune-age (if you don’t count this …), and enjoyed "Where Are We Now" while the tub filled.

The widget suggested OMD after that (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), which was okay, but I didn’t stick that suggested tune through to the end.  For the bath, the not-exactly-obvious choice of Symphony X’s Paradise Lost, which I haven’t actually picked up yet.  I’m an inveterate non-purchaser of music; I still have all my old cassettes, and the other half of my music collection is on CD.  Though there are MP3s somewhere in my world, it’s only because digital copies came with a CD or perhaps two, but I have no idea how to cope with them, and nope I’ve never owned an MP3 player.

So, as you might guess, there is actually very little music in my life, which is a pity, because I do love music, and can be carried away under its currents or on its waves just as much as anyone.  I listen to the radio at work – the “we play anything” station which I have to assume has ben xeroxed across the nation just like all the other themes, which have less and less differentiation for my ears the older I get – and NPR or a sadly limited array of rarely-changed CDs in the car.

In many ways, I am staunch about radio music.  I grew up on FM and even mom’s AM, and the idea of not controlling 100% of the music in my life still appeals, particularly the more I realize how few people have that experience anymore.  Tunes come up which I like or that bring back memories, things I know I’d never take the effort to purchase for myself if I did control my entire musical experience, and I enjoy the surprises.  Tunes I hate come up, too, of course – it took me a full day to get “Put Me In, Coach” out of my head earlier this week, and a more detestable track is as difficult to imagine as it is undesirable to try.  But the bad makes the good more fun, and the idea of never ever having to hear anything I don’t want to exhausts me even in concept.

I used to have a great little stereo, purchased at the original Circuit City store in all the world, with my dad, who bought me The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” to go with it.  I lived downtown then, in a de-lux apartment in the sky overlooking a courtyard often used for weddings, and so during my two summers in this home – and owing to the turn-of-the-millennium time period I lived there – I was often treated, through my many many huge open windows, to The Electric Slide and (even *I* shudder) The Macarena.  I didn’t try to out-blast these celebrations, but I will state that my defense tended to be attempts to at least drown out these sounds within my own walls, with this cute little stereo that had a slot-machine game in its digital display.

Some of the most powerful memories of reading in my entire life have me ensconsed in my grandmother’s big antique chair near the front door in my big, light, airy flat, with David Bowie’s “Hours” and Fiona Apple’s “Tidal” on random, mixing it up together as I re-read the Kristin Lavransdatter series from a used hardback copy I bought, with onion skin pages and warmth and light surrounding me in the atmospheric aura of that music.

I remember that reading of Lavransdatter all the time.  The novels were originally given to me by my aunt L., when I was about nineteen.  I enjoyed but was slightly puzzled by them at that age, found them dense and a little bit strange, but I was definitely drawn in.  Definitely a seminal experience in histfic – for me, or for anyone – and by age thirty I wanted to rediscover and reassess them.  And the experience was so immersive, with music surrounding the hours (hah) spent in Norway, cold or jealous or fiercely maternal, or ageing toward heaven.  This, too, of all the re-run reads of my lifetime, was an illustration of how a nineteen-year-old virgin’s experience of literature is so different from that of a woman who’s been through marriage and divorce, and learned a little about guilt and turned toward hope and faith.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with being a nineteen-year-old girl, but the reading when I was older was far more involving and enjoyable.

And it was so wrapped up in music.

Mr. X has always placed a very high premium on music – and, of course, it was thinking of him that got me playng SymX last night.  I bought their “Odyssey” years back, before one of the three abortive times he was supposed to come home, and the acoustic stretch of one piece, where he sings of twenty years gone and missing the rolling hills of Ithaca (and his love) still cuts me about as deep as The Brandenberg Concerto on Wendy Carlos’ “Switched On Bach”, or a certain very old punk track called “Code Blue” do for other reasons.

It may be the very extent to which music gets to me emotionally that gives me the excuse to avoid prioritizing it and collecting it.  It may just be my laziness in repairing the CD trays on that cute old stereo (I do still have – and which would play the radio just fine, or even those cassettes of mine).  Come to it, I have an array of turntables and receivers curated and in care, from my brother, my teenage years, my mom and dad.  Their turntable is a beautiful 70s state of the art piece with shining aluminum buttons on a wooden cabinet, which I suspect set them back quite a bit 40 years back and would turn many a collector green.  I have space for them all to be hooked up.  Indeed, I think my brother’s still is, from the one time I set it up in order to listen to the cassette (seriously, in 2003 the church was still using that technology) of our dad’s memorial, which I was going to burn onto CD for the family.  That didn’t happen.  But mom got the CDs a couple or three years ago.  And I’ve never listened to the tape but that one time.  Never listened to the CD at all.

The more I think about this, the more sense it makes to set up one or more of these stereophonic antiques, as I’m throwing a party somewhat soon.  (SHHHHH – don’t tell my mom!  It’s for her 75th!)  One more item to add to the list – eine kleine tag musik, for an afternoon do.

The tune that brought on this post, and all these memories and plans, is "Where Are We Now", in which you can hear both the age of Bowie’s voice, the tiny roughness of his vocal chords not born of sounding edgy, but of being a man past sixty.  It came on last night, and I carried out a bunch of CDs to the Prius this morning – Next Day, of course (listened to "Where Are We Now" twice before I got out of my car and came in to the office), the Fiona, and even some Adele.

Whether I’ll ever get music into my life outside the transistor at the desk and the player in the car – ahh, if only Mr. X were around to encourage me!  But I can see putting on a bit of background before the birthday surprises (maybe even something mom would LIKE – Southern Culture on the Skids leaps nimbly to mind).

(By the way, no actual vid here, just this image and the track, which is beautiful.)

I love music.  I miss music.  I’m even a little afraid of its power.

That’s got to recommend reassessing its place, and my use of it, in my life and home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nomen"cluster" ...

When we were wee young things and Beloved Ex and I first met, there was a little problem with what to call him.  He was in a band, we met at a venue, and when he got off stage and chatted with me, he said his name was Denny James (it was the 80s, but even then I teased him for this – and the cheesiness of the stage name was very much intentional … as well as a dodge of his real surname, which is sumptuously Hungarian and, by American standards, needlessly filled with bewildering consonants).  When he gave me his phone number (even in the 80s, kids, a girl did the safe thing, and didn’t hand out her digits), he revised his name to Jim.  And explained that his actual name is Dennis James, but he never, ever went by Dennis.  Nor even Denny.  So Jim.

It was a bit of a trial by fire-by-any-other-name, but he was THAT cute, so I smiled something about my dad not using his first name either, and put his phone number away.

Then I called him, and – hesitantly – asked the lady who answered the phone (his grandmother) for Jim.

“Oh, you mean Jimmy??”

I failed to hang up ... but it was a close one.

When the man you end up marrying comes by something like eight possible epithets during the first five minutes of acquaintance, and one of his names is a forbidding serving of quite marvelous consonantal excess:  you gain something of a tolerance for naming conventions’ flexibility in a hurry.  (Eventually, you also hyphenate your last name, because as much as I actually quite LIKED my married surname, explaining it forever became exhausting in a hurry.  “Major is fine.  Just call me Diane Major.  It’s fine.  Really.”)

So for me to reach my fill line on variables with naming takes a bit of a pot-ful, and I have REACHED my limit on varying names for things at work.

It’s not so much an issue of “Do we call it Robert or Bob or Rob or Robbie or Bobby or Mack or Jack or Bill or Pubert?” as it is of the intricacies of reporting.

When delivering a complex piece of Excel year-over-year budget and performance data, it MATTERS – beyond belief, apparently, in the Wild West of “hey let’s set up this report” – whether a piece of information has extra words in it or not.  It MATTERS when someone teaches me, “I know the name looks like it should be Total X Blurp-de-Blurp, but what it really should be is Total LABOR X Blurp-de-Blurp - don’t use the one that just says TOTAL."

And so I use the Total Labor blurp-de-blurp column, and … well, now we have a whole herd of kittens to corral.  Because everybody’s having ‘em.

As to kitten herding, well.  I’m accustomed to different things!  At home, with Gossie being the wise and agreeable boy he is, I find it quite winsomely, if not hilariously, easy to herd cats.  Or cat, anyway.  He’s learned that if he doesn’t shoot out the bedroom door when mom’s done dressing, and (instead of scooping him or chasing him) stands behind him relative *to* said door, he’s liable to get locked in the bedroom, momma will forget him, and that means no pettin’s.  So he shoots out the door with little more than a positional hint, which is the perfect pet-person piece of successful communication.

See, because I’m not mucking up the message with my own personal spin.  I know what works for him, I “tell” him what he understands (positionally speaking), and he responds wonderfully, because he is a great little dude and he’s trained me right.  Everybody’s happy.

Meanwhile, Bobby or Roberta or whatever my column header’s names should be, end up being delivered wrong, because – well, we can’t change column headers to match the source data.  So Diane (or Artemis, perhaps, if you prefer the Greek) goes soft in the head inputting the wrong data, and nothing good gets done.

Fortunately for all, Diane (or Cynthia … or Selene … ?) is willing to bite a bullet and have a MEETING, if one miraculously becomes necessary (for the term meeting, my mental definition all but precludes this descriptor … but sometimes, you have to at least bring people together!).  And so, requests for translations and guidance and greater wisdom and experience have gone out.  Whatchawannabet the tree will bear fruit?  It’s early days yet (even at something like eight months now on my job!).  But I’m going to speak this vernacular yet, cuss its blessit and dark and impenetrable heart.