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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

We're Melting!

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

We're Melting!

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Because I am a Marylander, and the weather is always the Big Story on the news around here, then I feel compelled to mention that the past three days have been relatively warm to where most of the mess from last week is now gone. Hooray for that! When I got home today, I managed to cross the parking lot to the front door of the building without once fearing that I might go ass-over-tin-cup and bust my leg or, worse, my head. (I don't imagine that all of those crazy thoughts leaking out would be good for the groundwater.) Seriously, it was getting downright dangerous; the days were warm enough to melt just the top of it, which would refreeze into a new, more treacherous sheet every night.

Also, Howard Crossing managed to motivate themselves enough to come and finish shoveling the walks. Since it looks like we will be leaving ol' HC by the year's end, then I hope that I get to fill out a customer satisfaction form or something before leaving because, for what we pay here each month, their maintenance is shit.

Speaking of random annoying things, remember my fear that my passport was going to cause hullabaloo? Well here it is, three weeks after we ordered our passports, one week after we should have received them, being as they were expedited, and care to guess whether they are in yet? Bobby called the State Department today; apparently they are on a huge backlog, though we are logged into the computer, so step one is complete. He was reassured that a refund check for the expediting fees will come with the passports; good thing, because I'm cheap and cranky and was fully prepared to go postal on them over my fifty bucks or so. The bad news is that next Thursday is the last day that we can cancel our Bermuda trip and receive a full refund, and so if the passports are not in by then, then that looks like what we'll have to do. Bobby spoke with a very helpful manager over there, and she was honest with him: She can't give a date when the passports will be in, not even a rough estimate. My sister-in-law applied for hers two weeks before we did, and she had it within the week.

The good news is that I was incorrect in thinking that we had to do our open-water dives within six months of our pool dives. We do not. And so, should we have to cancel our trip, we would simply reschedule it once Erin is out of school and do our dives then. Or do our dives when the quarry opens up (*shiver*) and have the certifications by the Bermuda trip so that we can "go play," as divers are fond of saying.

So really, it is not the end of the world. But really. Bobby's office at Customs knew about the imminent change in passport laws a year and a half ago. Surely, the State Department did as well, yet they did nothing to prepare for the onslaught of people applying for passports? Like maybe hire more staff to enter passport information into the system? Yet another example of how the appointed idiots in the top echelon of government screw up while competent people like the woman Bobby spoke with today stagnate and have to deal with the people who are irate because of the incompetence of upper management.

Bobby is feeling better but took a last sick day today. Tomorrow, he will go back to work. Now, he puts on a noble face and talks about the importance of his work, but I suspect (and this was further confirmed by a text from one of his work buddies) that it is because tomorrow is the shrimp special at Harry's, and he and his friends always go out for that. Meanwhile, Fridays at work for me mean being alone all day (except for Alex, who goes to work with me on Friday), eating leftover Chinese food, and being able to sing aloud to Blind Guardian on my iPod.

Because Bobby was off today, we went out to lunch, which is our custom. I have a rough job, you know. We went to our local The Piece (not The Piece where we used to work) and it was...pretty awful. What I have come to expect from The Piece, yet there remains a strange compulsion to return there. Nostalgia, maybe? I was very happy working there; I loved the work, menial as it sometimes was. In fact, as a fun quiz-type thing, I will let you all guess what was my favorite job to do at The Piece. Those who guess correctly will get...oh, something. A shortfic thingy of their choice subject, perhaps. I have writer's block at the moment (hence this entry when I am supposed to working on a story for Bobby for *ahem* Valentine's Day).

What Was Dawn's Favorite Job to Do at The Piece?
Kitchen Prep
Unloading the Truck
Dessert Preparation
Avoiding Work Altogether

ETA: LJ doesn't like my poll at the moment. If it doesn't work for you (as it is not for me), then you are welcome to guess in the comments.

*shakes fist at LJ*

The food was okay but everything was terribly slow, and The Piece--like so many mediocre restaurants, I've learned--has staff who labor under the impression that if they ignore the guests, then they will not be forced to deal with the guests' problems. Which is true to a degree. But one of the most annoying tendencies of restaurant staff is when you are clearly waiting, and they flit past without making eye contact or giving an iota of acknowledgment. Like Bobby and I will be waiting to be seated, and five servers pass and none even calls, "Hi! We'll be right with you!" No, it's like we're not even there. This is terribly annoying.

Heck, I used to greet people when I was in the kitchen, if I stepped out to get a soda or something and saw guests waiting. They probably thought, "Ewwww...what is that greasy, grouchy-looking thing?" but at least they were not ignored.
  • I'll take Favorite Job for a shortfic:

    What task allowed Dawn to work on a specific yet physical task without dealing with the customers or anyone else?

    Was it unloading the truck?

    As for the MD weather, a friend in Frederick forwarded me an announcement that the local schools were starting two hours late as the walking paths weren't plowed and it wasn't safe to walk to school if the kids didn't bus.

    Wow, I commented, knowing that he'd been wishing for a real winter since he moved there last summer, asking how much snow they got.

    None! It was from the storm the previous week!

    I almost fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard. (ok, ice is its own special hassle, but I still thought it was funny.)
  • Dessert preparation? Or training? I'll guess dessert preparation, I guess.

    Bleh... waiting for passports is never fun! I hope you get yours soon!
    • I liked both dessert prep and training (I was the store's production trainer, I liked it so much!) but neither was my particular favorite thing to see listed next to my name on the schedule. Good guesses, though! :)
  • Given the sorts of things you like to do, I'd guess dessert preparation.

    And, really, expecting the gummint to do something as simple as get a passport done right? AH ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! People who want to go anywhere outside the continental U.S. are probably terrorists or something. And travelers to Alaska and Hawaii are also suspect.
  • heh sounds like we're getting some of your weather right now!

    As for passports, right now is the worst time for getting them. I knew about the law changes coming up and renewed mine with my married last name last year since I knew I might need it for work soon. Expediting doesn't really work well unless you have a company with a sincere business interest with travel that also has a govt contract connection. Although, never assume the govt will prepare for a huge influx of passport applications. :D Bureaucracies suck and the best one you can compare to passports is immigration. My friend nearly got deported because the green card system has been so backlogged despite his being here for 6 years all legally and following the rules. At the last minute the govt opened up more centers to deal with the backlog. Hopefully they do it here to get the extra work done. ^_^

    Hope you get yours soon and in time for the trip!
    • I hope so too! Hubby and I both work for the guv'ment, so the perils of bureaucracy are all too familiar! It's the same way in my agency (Maryland Division of Parole and Probation) with backlogs. For example, they will get a backlog on warrants and so will staff extra people to get them all entered into the system, which results in the warrant apprehension unit (where I work) getting flooded. What they don't stop to consider is that we have nine officers whether we get twenty warrants in a week or two hundred; in the latter case, half aren't going to get served because a person can only do so much with 24 hours in a day. And we can hardly hire a temp, hand them a gun and badge, and say, "Go lock some people up!" :^D

      Likewise, I would have thought that the State Department would have staffed extra people: hired temps or even offered overtime perks to those willing to work a few extra hours or Saturdays. Apparently not! And what sucks is that the staff are the ones who will suffer, dealing with angry people wondering why their expedited passports "guaranteed in two weeks or less" are not even entered into the sytem when three weeks have passed.
  • the days were warm enough to melt just the top of it, which would refreeze into a new, more treacherous sheet every night

    Welcome to my life! :P Eventually, you stop worrying about busting your butt and just accept the inevitability of it. You also learn to discern the extremely slick patches of ice from the slightly-less-slick patches, and step accordingly. (Though sometimes if you're an idiot like me, you think "Here's a really smooth patch of ice; step accordingly," and still end up with one knee on the ground and the other leg splayed out to the side!)

    And you can blame that cold on the crazies up in PA for complaining about the theretofore mild winter. My mom and I decided that it was nature's retribution and way of saying, "Take what you can get!"

    When I got my passport, I was told to apply four to eight weeks before I needed it! So it doesn't surprise me that you haven't gotten yours after three, and certainly after two.

    can "go play," as divers are fond of saying

    I hate to tell ya, but I don't think this is a diver specific saying...;) I use it all the time!

    As for your favorite job...I don't know. Dessert Prep sounds too obvious, but it could be that. Given your obsession with bleach, it could be Kitchen Prep (unless kitchen prep is actually something else - I wouldn't know because I have never worked - and will never work - in the food industry). And then there's the segment of the Y gene that you somehow inherited, so maybe it was unloading the truck. All I know is that it's not training.

    BTW, I wish my "shortfic" was as long as yours! Maybe I will bother you at work tomorrow about it. >:)
    • You also learn to discern the extremely slick patches of ice from the slightly-less-slick patches, and step accordingly.

      I was getting pretty good at walking on the ice.

      Alex on the other hand...not so much. :^P

      The other day, I could practically hear him thinking, when we went outside, "OMFG. I can shit on grass again!" Watching Alex try to hold his poop-pose on the ice was kind of funny, but I felt sorry for the poor guy.

      And you can blame that cold on the crazies up in PA for complaining about the theretofore mild winter. My mom and I decided that it was nature's retribution and way of saying, "Take what you can get!"

      I agree! My mom and I--who tend to believe in old country wisdom when it comes to weather--were both shaking our heads and saying, "Look out. February is going to be a bitch!" That's the way it goes around here. We had days in December in the '80s, but boy did we pay for that!

      When I got my passport, I was told to apply four to eight weeks before I needed it! So it doesn't surprise me that you haven't gotten yours after three, and certainly after two.

      But we ordered the expedited service, for which one pays an astronomical fee, in order to have them in "two weeks or less guaranteed." *snerk*

      My sister-in-law got hers in a little over a week, with expedited service.

      I think that they're now telling people as long as twelve weeks, with regular service, because of the new laws and the subsequent influx of applications.

      I hate to tell ya, but I don't think this is a diver specific saying...;) I use it all the time!

      Oh, I know that it's not unique to diving. But every diver I've ever heard mention diving for fun calls it "going to play." At first, I thought it was maybe a PADI thing...nope, my coworker is from Scuba Schools International, and he said, "Oh, you're going to go to Bermuda? You can go play!"

      It's kind of cute but it makes me want to subtly nudge a thesaurus in their directions at the same time. :^P

      On my favorite/least favorite jobs at The Piece...

      I loved dessert prep, but it wasn't my favorite because I had to share space with the servers. And any production person will tell you that nothing is more annoying than a gaggle of servers!

      Kitchen prep primarily involves cutting vegetables and measuring portions. (Because nothing in the modern chain restaurant is estimated. It is not enough to simply take a scoop of mashed potatoes from the steam table...nope, those mashed potatoes are pre-measured in 5.5-ounce portions in microwaveable plastic cups and microwaved to order.) I liked prep because it was easy and laid back, but it was also boring and could be lonely. (Except when my one coworker Yvonne and I were working together. Collectively, we could talk the balls off of a wooden Indian! :^D)

      Truck required far too much time in the walk-in freezer, and from all the lifting and carrying, I used to sweat and stick to the shelves. Ouchie. :(

      And actually...I was the store's production trainer! I loved training...though it also was not my favorite.

      No one has guessed so far, which I find interesting. I thought that someone would take the least likely on the list and say, "That must be it!"
  • Oh, what a bother with those damn passports.

    Honest. What do they think you are? Subversives, simply because you didn't give up your surname? Terrorists, because you dare plan a trip outside the US?

    *shakes head*

    And I hear on how annoying it is to simply be ignored in restaurants and shops. It drives me crazy. Worse than not being left alone.
    • Luckily, according to the woman Bobby talked to, the name issue doesn't seem to be any problem. She said that the applications have been logged, and if there had been a problem, we would have gotten a letter by now.

      It's more a matter of, "Hey, let's drastically change the passport laws in a year and a half to require a passport to step into the street!"

      *year-and-a-half passes*

      "Oh, shit! Maybe we should have hired more people?!"


      The sad thing about guv'ment is that for all the intelligent, conscientious people working in the lower ranks, the top-brass idiots (who are political appointees) consistently screw things up.

      Though in our situation, to be fair, Bermuda is quite the rogue nation ... and people wishing to travel there for the nefarious purpose of becoming certified as open water divers should not be trusted. :^P
  • Geez, why don't I know the answer to that question? I can think of valid reasons for half a dozen answers but I will say...

    *Dessert Preparation is too obvious (like others have said)
    *I know you loved to play with meat but I bet it was too hot to choose Cook as favourite
    *You mentioned "menial" so I'll go with Kitchen Prep (chop-chop!)?

    • All good thinking! And I really liked all of the things that you mentioned...

      ...but none were quite my absolute favorite!

      (And darnit too...I was interested to know what sort of shortfic thingy you would have requested!)
  • Because Bobby was off today, we went out to lunch, which is our custom.

    This has always surprised me: aren't you guys worried that you'll get spotted by someone who knows Bobby? Or is his work culture pretty relaxed about these things? I ask because I've always felt like my workplaces had the implicit rule that "if you're well enough to do anything fun, you're well enough to come in." (Not that I haven't taken days off when I was perfectly ambulatory, but then I always felt like I was in a spy novel or something whenever I left my house.)
    • It's not that way in government jobs. Sick leave is regarded as part of your pay, and you are allowed to take it without question. In fact, there had been a snafu in Bobby's office where his top-boss (who is definitely "Dilberty," as I believe you called it) decided to crack down on sick leave. Well, that did not fly! If you want a bunch of disgruntled guv'ment grunts, just try to tell them that they can't have their leave. Needless to say, this was not brought up again.

      Perhaps worst of all, the Dilberty boss was quite fond of taking leave himself, as well as showing up two hours late to work, leaving early, et cetera ... while on the clock, of course.

      When I worked at the restaurant, people who were suspected of abusing taking off sick (since we didn't have actual leave) were sometimes required to bring in a doctor's note. On a few notable occasions, young people would call out of work for the night, only to be seen an hour later in the mall ... the same mall where our restaurant was located.
  • You might know me

    Okay, so you might know me from FF. I have just started an LJ site so I can post stories and stuff.

    I am beginning a story dealing with the fall of Numenor. I was inspired to do this story by my sister and by the fact that you wrote Another man's Cage. I should be honest and say that I really hated the story, but that it did create in me a desire to write a long and detailed account of one of the Sil happenings.

    Since I don't like your story I want you to feel free to say whatever you wish about mine. I would like to hear from someone who is an established writer. I should also say that I have nejoyed other writings you have done, just no AMC. I hope you won't think me a bitch, I'm not, but I felt I should let you know first.


    Jaffee Leeds
    • Re: You might know me


      I've seen your name on the Pit, but I don't believe that we've actually spoken before? (If we have, chalk it up to my Swiss-cheese memory and accept my apologies.)

      I am a bit confused as to what you are asking of me here ... or if you are even asking anything at all. I certainly don't protest that you didn't like AMC (though "hate"? wow ... such a strong word for an innocuous fan fiction story!) and am not going to think you "a bitch" because one of my stories was not to your liking. It's impossible for any author--I don't care how good s/he is--to write a story that everyone will like, and you're certainly not the first to express these sorts of sentiments about AMC.

      So I suppose I'm asking: What's the deal? Just to let me know that you didn't like my story? To ask me to read yours? To let me know that you have a LiveJournal? To inform me that you plan on slamming me in a public forum and thought that I should know? (Just kidding on the last one ... I hope. ;) Anyway, I'm curious ... so please do tell! :)
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