Thursday, December 16, 2010

This and That Thursday

There are all kinds of things to talk about this morning and thus the post title This and That.

First on the list is a further discussion of my fiction reading problem. BV - you are right!! I tell myself all the time to just watch or read and enjoy instead of finding the errors and inconsistencies. I spent some time thinking about this habit and I've come to a realization.

* * * * * * Light Bulb Moment * * * * * * *

I spent many years as a typesetter and proofreader. It was my job to find errors. At one point I worked for a company that published scientific technical manuals and had a top secret clearance. YES!!! I did. My kids always fall over laughing when I remind them that the woman doing the laundry once did classified work! Moms are full of surprises that way.

It was my job to read for inaccuracies, inconsistencies and downright sloppy research. Most non-fiction or scholarly works are meticulously researched and woe be the author in those fields who makes a mistake. After years and years of being trained and paid to spot those things they literally jump off the page and grab you by the throat.

I'll try to put aside the old dog tricks and try to relax and read. My niece-the-librarian has promised to suggest some good fiction for me to read.

Wish me luck.

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Lisa D. left a comment reminding us of something important:

"Can I just change the subject for a second and remind everyone that when a school bus is stopped, with flashing lights on, it means children are getting on or getting off that bus - DO NOT PASS! Sorry, it just happened to my children this morning, 20 minutes ago, and I'm still angry that one of my neighbours didn't feel like waiting 2 more minutes for the bus to leave my driveway."

Amen, sister. Several years ago I found myself in small line of traffic behind a school bus. The bus stopped with lights flashing and the stop arm extended. A moment later the car in front of me slowly pulled out and started to pass the bus. I started screaming and grabbed for a pen and paper to write down the license plate number. The guy in the car behind me launched into action. He jumped out of his truck and bolted up the roadway to stop her.

It was a wild scene. The woman passed the bus and merrily continued on her way. I called the police when I got to work and gave them the license number and a description - quite elderly, white haired, pearl earringed old lady.

Did I mention that she passed the school bus on an uphill curved grade on a snow covered roadway in wintertime?

The police confirmed that the car was registered to an elderly woman who lived on a side road near the incident? They couldn't ticket her because they hadn't witnessed the incident themselves but they did have a discussion with her.

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Yesterday was Do-All-Your-Customer-Service-Calling Day in this house. I had to make a few calls that involved speaking with customer service representatives. One was a state agency and I was dreading that call. It turned out to be a terrific experience. I was so shocked that I kept thanking the woman profusely. She must have thought I was completely mad.

The next call didn't go so well. Have you seen the commercial with the Eastern European man answering the phone in Siberia?

"Hello this is Peggy."


OK, the call centers are being outsourced. We got it. But, seriously, why do you instruct your employees to identify themselves with obviously made up names? My call yesterday went like this:

"Thanks for calling the customer service line. My name is Cindy. How may I help you today?"

"Cindy? Really?"

I stated my problem and "Cindy" began to walk me through an online solution. It was obvious she was sitting in Mumbai. Mentally I named her "Mumbai Cindy". She spoke excellent English and could actually understand the conversation when it veered from the script. I liked Cindy. I wanted to know her real name. I wanted to slap the manager who decided to call her Cindy.

Was she really in Mumbai or was she an immigrant sitting in a call center in Minneapolis?

"OK, I'm going to give you some codes to enter. Are you ready? A as in apple, Z as in Zebra, I as in India."

Bingo. Mumbai.

I hung up the phone and wondered why I didn't ask Cindy to tell me her real name.

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U.S. Astronaut Catherine Coleman was launched into space yesterday in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz rocket. She's going to the space station with two other astronauts, Russian Dmitry Kondratyev and Italy's Paolo Nespoli.

The amazing thing to me is that it was barely reported in the U.S. Press. The Russian press was on this like they were Oscar winners. Do you think we prefer Hollywood and sport stars to astronauts and scientists? Or is that the presses choice on what to cover? I guess whatever sells.

My son walked into the room one day when I was watching NASA TV which was covering the week of preparation before this launch.

"Seriously, mom. You're one of the only people in the country watching this channel."

I don't think that's true. I think there's at least three other people watching.

Kudos to Coleman who comes across as a warm, funny and very smart woman. She just turned 50 and will spend the next six months working on the Internation Space Station. Kudos also because she managed to endure the weeklong calendar of Russian public relations events including planting trees, walking Red Square, placing flowers at a memorial site, posing in front of very large Soviet-era sculptures. They did everything but bake a cake.

The Russian Cosmonaut appears to be a stern, no-nonsense, non-smiling military type. Good luck being cooped up with him. The Italian is a gentle giant. Literally. At 6 foot 4 inches he's one of the tallest astronauts to go into space.

I'll be watching their mission on NASA TV. They'll be on the Space Station until May.

If you follow this link and scroll down, you'll be able to see CNN's interview with Catherine (Cady) Coleman.


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More video.

You've got to watch this video about a guy's Christmas cubicle. When I worked for the newpaper we had a cubicle decorating contest. It was fun. We also had a "Warm and Fuzzy Day" and decorated for that also.

This makes me smile.


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That's all for today. Be sure to come back tomorrow for another episode of "At Home with the Farmer's Wife."


shelly said...

People are So rude!!! I can't stand when they don't stop for school buses or pull over for ambulances (personal peeve of mine!). This whole NASA thing is going to bite us in the behind someday. They aren't putting it in the media because our president shut NASA down...not exactly true. The city we are moving to is huge with NASA--they even have a private space station of sorts that you'll be able to buy a ticket and go to space! It's all going to be privatized now, but NASA does so much more than just shoot people up in the air with rockets..we'll see, maybe I'm wrong ;)

Thirkellgirl said...

I was also a "documentation specialist" when I worked outside the home. I wrote company manuals, tranlating engineer-ese into English. That's what I've done over the years, sometimes more than others as the seasons of life change. Also... we always joke that WE are the only people watching the NASA channel! I always try to turn the volume up, and you know that most the time there isn't anything to hear. Awaiting ice and snow here in the MidAtlantic...

Lisa D. said...

Thank-you Suzanne. I was upset all day over that vehicle passing the bus. The kids had a snow day today (a rare thing up here, actually) or I would have been out waiting for the bus with them this morning, looking for that vehicle again. If not the driver of the vehicle, then a talk with the bus driver to see if we can't work together to get the licence #.
There's a NASA channel?! If I got that station I'd be watching it too. I always wanted to be an astronaut. Except for all the math. And I'd be willing to do the math if it meant a guaranteed spot on a flight. But years of math, and no actual space time was something I just couldn't bear to live with. I prefer to leave the math to my two brothers - one has a degree in mathematical physics and the other has a doctorate in chemistry. I have a love of astrophysics and quantum physics, but I don't see why you have to do all the icky math basics just to get to the fun stuff :)

Kat said...

a) I can never find my own errors, but I can spot grammatical mistakes and typos through a ten foot wall of lead if it's in someone else's writing. Why is that?
b)I will be waving to Cindy on the space station. I love watching it fly over our valley.
c) Sht-eeeeve wouldn't admit to me he was in India, or what his real name was. "My name is Sht-eeeve," over and over, was all he'd say.

QuiltNCards said...

Loved your post today... Loved the decorated cubical. One year we decorated our little haunt. Not the same at all, even though there was a prize to win.
The only thing I'd have trouble with is being out in space with men... dead space, if you ask me. I suppose her comrads would be more intelligent than to talk incessantly about their bathroom prowess.
I know what you mean about the surprise of your children... The other day my son was shocked that I used a big word. "Endeavor" was the word, and he thought it strange that I knew how to use it. I was 7th in my HS graduating class of 450 and still carry a 3.75GPA through college... I was so insulted that I didn't bother to finish the quilt I had mostly pieced for his wedding. His wife is a teacher, but doesn't know enough to proof-read or use a capital letter for the name of a city on her blog!!! but she can tell me I forgot something and insinuate to her folks that I have Alzheimer's because I remember a situation differently than she does. O-O-O-Oh don't get me started about kids. There is a reason they are known as "off spring" - they are off!
Sorry to be sounding off - I really did enjoy the blog, and thanks for the videos!
<3 Terri

Vee said...

Obviously, people that far out of it shouldn't be driving. I don't imagine that she had the ability to think what she was even doing because, if she had, she would not have attempted such a thing. And what is up with the police? They are forever saying, "If I didn't see it." Not helpful.

Good luck to the lady astronaut. It's possibly the last thing that I would wish to do. Right. It is the last thing that I would wish to do. Death would be preferable.

Leave it to the Canadians to know how to really decorate for Christmas. Loved his accent!

Hope that everything is going well down and over there!

Anonymous said...

Suzanne....Thanks for the link to the "cubicle". I am in the midst of no holiday spirit and got a big lift from watching the video. I understand why you find reading fiction such a challenge. I hope with the help of your librarian you find something to get your on the way to enjoying fiction. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and healthy, happy, New Year to come. Harriet

Anonymous said...

Just popping in to say nice site.