WINNING

SWEEPING MOTIONS: My desk and bedroom are fine. Even our car is tidy. I’m sure I have a messy closet somewhere. It’s my brain which could use a thorough tidying. Here’s a great memory moment from the clutter of my brain. One of my favorites.


In the mid 1980s in Israel, I worked at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot with the team developing DB1, the first relational database. Those familiar with databases and their history should go “Ooh, aah.” Feel free to be awed. These are my bona fides certifying my “original geekhood.”

I was never a developer, just a computer-savvy writer, but I worked extensively on Quix, the first real-English query language and documented DB-1. I was eventually put in charge of creating promotional materials to sell the project to IBM. They bought it and from it, DB2 and all other relational databases emerged. Cool beans, right?

Technical writing was new. In 1983, it didn’t have a name. I was a pioneer. I didn’t chop down forests or slaughter aboriginal inhabitants, but I went where no one had gone before. Breaking new ground was exciting and risky.

The president of the group was named Micah. He was the “money guy.” Micah knew less about computers than me, but wielded serious clout. His money was paying our salaries, rent, and keeping the lights on. The definition of clout.

As the day approached when the team from IBM was due, it was time for me to present the materials I had created with Ruth, a graphic artist who had been my art director at the failed newspaper I’d managed the previous year. (This was well before computers could generate graphics properly.) Ruth was amazing with an airbrush. I’ve never seen better work.

The presentation materials were as perfect as Ruth and I could make them. I had labored over that text and she had done a brilliant job creating graphics that illustrated the product, its unique capabilities and benefits. And so it came time for the pre-IBM all-hands-on-deck meeting.

Micah didn’t like me. His dislike wasn’t based on anything I did or even my disputable personality. He didn’t like women in the workplace. I was undeniably female. As was Ruth. Strike one, strike two. At the meeting, he looked at our materials and announced “We need better material. I’ve heard there’s a real hot-shot in Jerusalem. I’ve seen his work. It’s fantastic. We should hire him.” And he stared at me and sneered.

Onto the table he tossed booklets as well as other promotional and presentation materials for a product being developed in Haifa at the Technion. I looked at the stuff.

“That’s my work, ” I said.

“No it isn’t,” he said firmly. “I’ve heard it was created by the best technical writer in the country.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Me.”

He was not done with humiliating himself. He insisted a phone be brought to the table and he called his friend Moshe in Jerusalem. I’d worked for Moshe, quitting because although I liked the man, he couldn’t keep his hands to himself. I had a bad-tempered, jealous husband — something I didn’t feel obliged to reveal.

Moshe gave Micah the name of The Hot Shot. It was me.

“Oh,” said Micah. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have to. The deadpan faces around the table were elegant examples of people trying desperately to not laugh. Micah wasn’t a guy you laughed at, not if you wanted to keep your job.

It was a moment of triumph so sweet — so rare — nothing else in my working life came close. I won one for The Team, for professional women everywhere. Eat it, Micah.

HUBRIS?

Upturned Noses — Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?


I’m all for equality — especially in the legal system — but.

I’m picky about computers though I’m not sure it qualifies as snobbery. My machines are big, bad, and fast. I’ve been told I’m using archaic technology. I’m not. My computers — 3 and 4 years old — are as fast and powerful as anything they are selling now. How come? Because I bought state-of-the-art, top quality computers in the first place.

Unlike the el cheapo glitzy stuff people buy, then complain it’s obsolete before they take it out of the box, mine keep up with the Joneses, Smiths, or Greenburgs. Why should I go through the hassle of transferring all my data and applications to a new, but not better, computer when the ones I own do exactly the same thing?

Who’s the snob?

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I’m snobbish about cameras. Absolutely. I don’t care how many megapixels you pack into your cell phone. It isn’t a camera. It’s a widget that can take pictures. If you take a horse and teach him to walk on a leash, is he a dog? If the dog can perform a dance on two legs, is he a person? You are welcome to your opinion, but on this one, you won’t get me to change mine.

And then … there’s coffee.

coffee

I have a single, unassailable standard. It has to taste really good. If I could find cheap coffee that tasted like expensive coffee, I would definitely buy it. And, in fact, the coffee I buy is mid-priced. It’s not the most expensive stuff … but it doesn’t come in giant cans from the supermarket either. And I buy it online because I get a better price.

If I’m snobbish about anything, it’s people. I need to be around people who think. Are creative. Have ideas. Read books. Can discuss stuff. Intelligently. Who don’t talk in slogans. Who have their own opinions and don’t mindlessly parrot somebody else’s lines.

I cannot abide people who believe what they believe because “that’s the way I was brought up” or “my minister says so.” To parrot words you’ve never questioned? It doesn’t work for me.

Hyannis downtown people

I know what Jesus said, but he wasn’t hanging with the hoi-polloi either. He talked about the meek, but he had his own tight group of pals and never left their company.

Intellectual snobbery is the Achille’s Heel of the intelligent and educated. If pride is the ultimate sin, then I’m guilty. Pride of intellect, pride of personal accomplishment, pride of knowledge. Can stupid, uneducated people have great ideas?  Maybe, but I’ve yet to see it. Hollywood loves the idea and it makes a great story.

In real life, is it true? You tell me.

MOUNTAIN DREAMS – WORLD SHARING, WEEK 40

Cee’s Share Your World – 2014

You’re given $500,000 dollars tax-free (any currency), what do you spend it on?

Pay off ALL our debts.

We need a new house. Maybe build one on the land we already own, but have it properly graded so that it doesn’t flood. Clear enough trees so we get the sunlight and it’s not always dark inside.

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Build it without steps! Make it friendly to those of us who have trouble navigating. I’d like to get a scooter for when I need to get around in malls or parks, but something that can handle bumpy terrains so I can go where pictures lure me. I can walk, but my hiking days are done.

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I would like a vacation house in the mountains. Maybe in Colorado or New Mexico, but here in Maine is nice too, though it’s rather a bit cold. There is something restful about mountains. The air is so sweet, sharp, crisp. Everything is clean and uncrowded.

Time has — to a large degree — run slower in high altitudes than at sea level. That’s the way mountain people want it. It’s the way I want it too. I want my cable TV and WiFi, but the slower pace, the less charged atmosphere is soothing. I don’t even mind the cold so much, as long as I can cuddle up to a fire and watch the snow swirl around me, not have to shovel it!

What’s the finest education?

Whatever education you want to get is the finest education. For me? I’ve enough formal education. One degree will suffice for this lifetime. I’ve learned most things I know for which I have any use, by reading and living. Everyone should get enough education to work and support themselves and maybe others, but beyond that? Only if you want something special.

What kind of art is your favorite? Why?

I love music, literature, painting, photography, lithography, sculpture, and graphic arts .Did I miss anything?

Is there something that you memorized long ago and still remember?

Some poems, bits of Shakespeare, words to some songs. Nothing terribly meaningful.

What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful we got through last week … and for the generosity and kindness of friends. Including many friends I never knew I had. I’m looking forward to a peace week in these mountains, visiting with friends Garry and I haven’t seen in nearly 50 years … and coming home to a repaired well!

TIMING IN, TIMING OUT, TIMING INSIDE-OUT

One-Way Street – Timing Out or In or Inside-Out?

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?


TimeTravel

First of all, no one can travel to the future unless they are returning from the past. Everyone who’s anybody knows that. It hasn’t happened yet, so you can’t go there. You can’t go sometime if it never occurred.

nasa time machine

One-way time travel sounds ominous to me regardless of direction.

You mean … I can’t come home? Ever? I have to go forward or backward and it’s a final decision? Without hope of returning to my time, my friends, family? My world?

In which case, no thank you. That’s way too high a price to satisfy a bit of curiosity.

With all the issues of the present, this is my time. It is where I belong, for good or ill.

NOTE: As of this writing, it’s another zero response day at WordPress. I’m not even going to report it. I’m fed up and I’m on vacation. WordPress: FIX YOUR SOFTWARE or replace it with something that works consistently and dependably. Stop dicking around.

CHATTING WITH DAVE, THE WELL GUY

Interview

For this week’s challenge, let someone else do the talking.


Ring. Ring.

“Hello?”

“Hi. It’s Dave.”

“Oh, hi Dave. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I just wanted to remind you we are going to be out-of-town from Sunday through next weekend. Owen will be here, so he can take care of anything you need. Except money. I won’t be able to pay you till we get back.”

“Don’t worry. Enjoy your vacation. I know where you live. You’re not running away, and I don’t think you’ll spend all your money on vacation.”

I flash on Jackman, Maine.

Downtown Jackman. From Google Earth.

Downtown Jackman. From Google Earth.

That’s where we are going on Sunday and we’ll be there for a week. It’s a town in which — other than a tee-shirt and souvenir shop — there are no stores. No restaurants, either. Nowhere to spend money, even if we had money to spend. Which we don’t.

“No, the money is tucked safely in our savings account. So it won’t get accidentally spent on groceries.” Or other frivolities, I think to myself.

“No problem. We’ll get it done.”

“You have my son’s number?”

“I have it somewhere. Maybe you should give it to me again.”

I do that. He writes it on another slip of paper that as likely as not, he will lose … but he knows where we live. If worse comes to worse, he can track my son down. They know each other. It’s a small town.

And that’s what we call “a country contract,” folks. That’s how we do it, out here, where there are as many cows as cars. No paper. Nothing in writing. Just an agreement, on the phone.

You know what? I’m sure Dave will come and fix our well. More certain than I ever was with contractors I hired in Boston. With all the paperwork and legalities, I never knew when or if they would show up.

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But I know Dave. Hell, the whole town knows Dave. He keeps his word. If he didn’t, everyone would know it, including me. He’d be out of business.

Small towns. Gotta love’em.

ANOTHER DAY

It’s Always Something

For some reason, my pingback isn’t pinging back, so this isn’t appearing in the big list of daily prompts. No reason I can figure. I do this every day and this ought to work. But it’s always something, isn’t it.


These lazy “just write and don’t think posts” amuse me. I write every morning. That’s what I do every day, unless I’m sick or traveling. I sit down and write. What do other people do, I wonder? The whole point of a prompt is to direct the writing, to send it in a direction, so to be told to “just write” is sort of funny. I don’t need a prompt for that, you know? I’m a writer. I will write anyhow.

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Today we are in full “getting ready to go on vacation mode.” There are dozens of small things to take care of.

Extra dog food to buy.

Call the well guy so he knows we’ll be gone, make sure he has Owen’s number. We’ll pay him when we get home. Decide what we are taking. Not just clothing, but things. All the cameras, of course, The laptops. The Kindles. The tooth machine. What, you don’t take your tooth cleaning machine on vacation?

Conversation With Dave the Well Guy

Ring. Ring.

“Hello?”

“Hi. It’s Dave.”

“Oh, hi Dave. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I just wanted to remind you we are going to be out-of-town from Sunday through next weekend. Owen will be here, so he can take care of anything you need. Except money. I won’t be able to pay you till we get back.”

“No problem. I know where you live. You’re not going anywhere and I don’t think you’ll spend ALL your money on vacation.” I flash on Jackman, where other than a tee-shirt and souvenir shop, there is nowhere to spend money even if we had money to spend, which we don’t.

“No, the money is tucked safely in our savings account so it won’t get accidentally spent on groceries.” Or other frivolities, I think to myself.

“No problem. We’ll get it done.”

That’s a country contract, folks. That’s how we do it, out here. No paper. Nothing in writing. Just an agreement, on the phone.

“You have Owen’s number?”

“I have it somewhere. Maybe you should give it to me again.” I do. He writes it on another slip of paper that as likely as not, he will lose … but he knows where we live and if worse comes to worse, he can track my son down. They know each other. It’s a small town.

Back to the Rest of Reality

The rice cooker. I’m going to bring it. For years I cooked rice without a special machine, but it’s been 15 years since I prepared rice without a rice cooker, so Garry says “just take the cooker.” It seems an embarrassment of riches, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Get the oil changed in the car.

Take cash out of the bank. Pack the laundry in a big trash bag and take it along because there’s a washer and dryer at the house. Don’t forget the special shampoo you need. Make sure we have all the phone numbers and papers we need. Directions. Do we want to take our pillows? Last time, we took them … and forgot them and had to buy new ones.

Worry about the dogs. Worry about everything because I worry. If I worry about it, maybe I can prevent it from happening. Worry as a ward against bad luck? I don’t think so. Charge the Kindles. Pack all the battery chargers for the cameras. Why does each camera require a different battery? Why can’t they standardize something? Batteries would seem a good place to start, don’t you think?

That’s what’s on my mind. Add it wondering what the weather will be like in Maine. I’m assuming a bit colder than here, though according to Wunderground, not much different … a few degrees at most.

Feeling uneasy about going away before resolving the well crisis … but we planned this a year ago and we either go, or lose the vacation. There’s no real reason to stay here and babysit our crisis, is there? Crises do just fine without a babysitter.

Ten minutes. I’m done. Back to sipping coffee. The leaves are still golden, even in the drizzly rain. Another day has begun.

Ready, Set, Done – Daily Prompt

EVERYTHING MEANS SOMETHING. MAYBE.

Early Friday morning, I was dreaming. In the dream, I was talking to a particularly annoying telemarketer and couldn’t get her off the phone. I was wondering — in my dream — why I persist in answering these calls, I woke up because the telephone rang. And wouldn’t you know it? It was the very same especially aggravating telephone solicitor.

Coincidence? Not a chance. It was a sign.

But there was more to come.

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We were having quiche for dinner. We buy it at the supermarket and I heat it in the little convection oven. As dinnertime approached, I decided to change into something without elastic — my nightgown. I have tee-shirt nightgowns from Land’s End. They are the cat’s meow in comfort.

I went to the kitchen. Set the oven on pre-heat. I went to the bedroom, slid out of my clothing, into my nightgown. Turned off the lights, went back to the kitchen. Unwrapped the quiche. Carried it to the oven. At that exact moment, the oven beeped to tell me it was up to temperature.

Coincidence? Of course not. It was another sign!

I could no longer keep it to myself. Omens and portents were gathering. I had to share, to tell Garry. When I finished, he looked blank.

“Really, it means something. Because everything means something.” I gave him my most sincere ‘look.’

“O. K.” said Garry, very slowly. “I give up. What does it mean?”

“I have no idea.”

Garry’s eyebrows went a little higher … and even higher until his forehead could wrinkle no further.

“I’ve decided,” I said, “To become more New Age in my outlook. Everything means something. Everything. I just have to figure out what.”

Garry’s eyes were glazing over, so I figured he’d had enough. It’s was also the first day of 5775. That had to mean something too, right? It’s all about the number six. You see, if you add 5 + 7 + 7 + 5 = 24 = 2 + 4 = 6

And that means (trumpets):

NUMBER 6

ATTRIBUTES AND ENERGIES OF THE NUMBER 6

Connects above and below, reconciliation, intellectual creativity, discrimination, imagination, union, love, perfection, ability to use the imagination and the intellect combined, relatedness, taking responsibility for choices.

Positive:

Domestic, responsible, care, teacher, conventional, provider, protector, healer, idealistic, selfless, honest, charitable, faithful, nurturer, truth, order, economy, emotional depth, curiosity, deep love of home and family, humanitarian, service, unselfishness, balance, good provider, peaceful, self-sacrifice, empathy, sympathy, unconditional love, circulation, agriculture, balance, grace, simplicity, ability to compromise, reliable.

Relates to:

The planets:  Venus and Uranus

The Lovers Tarot Card

Friday

Colours:  Indigo/Purple and Green

From NUMEROLOGY – The Vibration and Meaning of NUMBERS

And that’s about as New Age as I can get. Isn’t that fantastic news? It’s all good. And I know this because of the auguries — dreams and numbers and everything.

I hope it also means we’ll get some rain.  Soon.