: brace yourselves :

June 28, 2015 § 4 Comments

This is the captain speaking. Please prepare for an unscheduled landing, ladies and gentlemen. Our little flight of fancy has been diverted due to a sudden loss of altitude.

hindenburg

Our new destination is the record book: fewest visits ever this month. We’re witnessing history, you and I — along with one, possibly two other passengers. In the interest of full disclosure, however, publikworks’ first month saw lower numbers overall. That was in June of 2011, but it was only a partial month, not a full thirty days. It doesn’t count.

Time to reassess, boys and girls.

Not just what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, but why. I need to examine the motives here. If I’m in this for the numbers, I should quit. If it’s for fame, I should laugh. It can’t be the money, there’s none to be made. What then? I’ll be honest; I don’t have the first clue. Force of habit, maybe.

This is what I do, you know, what I’ve always done in some form or another most of my life. With varying degrees of success, obviously. In economics there’s a theory called the Law of Diminishing Returns, whereby the benefits gained are less than the money or energy invested. And I have to wonder, has publikworks reached that point? Have I? And I bike crashguess that depends on what benefit I’m expecting.

As a goal, stats are incredibly shortsighted. Big numbers are head-turning, low numbers are discouraging, but neither is proof of anything. Stats serve mostly as a distraction, I think. I’d like to ignore them, turn a blind eye, but can’t. They’re gruesome things, as morbidly fascinating as the scene of an accident, and I can’t look away. It’s sick, but there you have it.

Perhaps if I’d paid more attention to the work and less to the numbers, I wouldn’t be in this sorry state of decline. Or if I could figure out what I’m trying to accomplish by slogging away at this. Why do I bother? Well, maybe I’m hoping to find out what’s going on up there, in my head. I’m almost afraid to look, really, it’s a curiosity shop in there.

I need to step back, consider the options. Land-based travel, for instance, a scooter as opposed to aircraft. A nice, calm sailboat. Parking myself in the shade sounds good, too. Anything that gives my arms a rest, I’d like to stop the flap-flap-flapping. I refuse to limp along, though, scraping bottom.

I’d rather crash. There’s some dignity in that.

freefall

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: summer, from head to toe :

June 21, 2015 § 6 Comments

toes_solsticeWelcome to the first, and longest, day of summer. Are you prepared for the long, languid days ahead? You will be by the time you finish here — I’ve compiled a list. Did a little scouting around, too, sussed out the absolute necessities in advance.

Books, for instance. Everyone needs a beach read, especially poor schmos like me who live light years from the nearest beach. Unless you count Lake Michigan and I don’t. To qualify as a beach you need an ocean. Something on the scale of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean, vast and churning. Rivers and lakes and ponds, no. Sorry.

Heck, in a pinch, I’ll settle for a kiddie pool. I’ve even resorted to a garden hose once or twice. I draw the line at lawn sprinklers, however; they’re unbecoming. I know, standing under a garden hose isn’t exactly the height of elegance. I can’t explain the distinction, only give voice to a personal bias. Sprinklers seem sort of  last-ditch, as if that’s the best you could do. A hose, meanwhile, could pass as a convenience, an afterthought — you’re hot, it’s there, why not?

You’ll need sunglasses, of course. A hammock, sunblock, flip-flops, a screened in porch, and a convertible. The weather alone is everything I need. I’m perfectly content just listening to lawns being mowed and motorcycles rumbling, birds twittering, snatches of music, dogs barking. Ahh, that’s the soundtrack to life.

Okay, enough. Beach reads. You’ll need at least one to dive into and here are a few titles to consider. Then, too, wandering the aisles of a book store is a terrific way to spend a leisurely afternoon. You don’t need sunblock, but there aren’t any seashells, either. Endless possibilities, though. Off you go …

swimmersevenevesbridgebloodwatchman

B O O K S

The Swimmer — Joakim Zander
Nice segue, huh? Swimmer, summer. Except it’s winter in Scandinavia and evil is afoot. Spies and secrets and cold-blooded mercenaries and romance, this is a gripping thriller in the Le Carre tradition (according to the blurbs). I thought it was outstanding.

Seveneves — Neal Stephenson
The moon explodes. Mankind races to come up with a plan to survive. Five thousand years later, the progeny embark on another journey into the unknown. Now, I’ve only just started this one, but it’s terrific so far.

The Invisible Bridge — Julie Orringer
The characters bring this one to life. World War II Europe, the camps and deprivation and struggle, of course, but the story encompasses so much more than that. It’s ennobling and hopeful and infuriating.

Blood on Snow — Jo Nesbo
A disappointment. The story and the characters are flat, but at least it’s short. I didn’t think Jo Nesbo could write a dull book; I was wrong. The main character is a ‘fixer,’ aka a hit man, assigned to kill the wife of his boss. Good premise, dull story.

Go Set a Watchman — Harper Lee
Don’t forget, this will be released on July 14th. Personally, I’m still dithering. I don’t want to discover this is an embarrassment to Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird. I want it to be wonderful, a lyrical tribute to her talent as a writer and a person. So I dither on whether to read it or hold fast to undimmed admiration.

When Flip Flops Won’t Do
Try a pair of Vans, featuring artwork by Takashi Murakami. Available June 27.

vans

And When They Will
Bernardo Sandals are pricey, but totally worth it. They’re classic and last forever, plus they look fabulous with absolutely anything. $99 at Neimann Marcus

bernardoDon’t Forget the Trippy Shades
Only $14.99. Many, many other groovy styles and colors and prices available on their website.

shades
http://www.happyhourshades.com/collections/shades 

Have a safe and happy summer, boys and girls!

sunCopyright © 2015 Publikworks

: hope floats :

June 17, 2015 § 2 Comments

Once in a very great while you stumble blindly into a perfect moment. Call it serendipity or epiphanic or an accident, they are what make life worth living. The slogging and monotony of the everyday gives way to wonder, an unexpected bliss.

bubbles

You can’t plan or prepare or put them on a schedule. They come along in their own sweet time. In their own quixotic, amazing way. From very unlikely places.

A bottle of dishwashing liquid, for instance. I put it down on the counter, and dozens of tiny, fragile, iridescent bubbles streamed from the spout, filling the air. They fluttered and danced and swirled. It was idyllic. Uplifting.

My mind’s still blown. The last thing you imagine finding in a bottle of Dawn is exhilaration. A bottle of Joy, maybe, but Dawn? Life is full of surprises.

joy
Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: today’s deep thought :

June 14, 2015 § 5 Comments

“When one door closes, another opens.”
— Alexander Graham Bell

text separator_simple

What a lovely, encouraging thought for a rainy afternoon. In other words, there’s always a way, boys and girls. We only need to find it. Persistence pays, don’t give up, keep trying, and all that. An inspiration is what that is.

Until you ask yourself, okay, what door? Where does it lead? Am I supposed to take my chances? Trust fate? Close my eyes and leap?

trapdoor

Uh, no. I’m not falling for that. I’ll wait here, thank you. Really, you go on ahead. Scoot. Let me know how things work out.

door

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: let’s tip our caps :

June 10, 2015 Comments Off on : let’s tip our caps :

pen capWelcome to National Ballpoint Pen Day.

Why we love and revere such a utilitarian writing instrument isn’t much of a mystery. The ballpoint replaced the fountain pen. Fountain, hah. Gushers is what they were. Ink geysers. They spurted and erupted like nobody’s business. You needed a blotter to mop up the puddles. Gads, it’s a wonder people wrote anything down.

Then along came the Bíró brothers (more commonly known as László and György). They strolled into the European Patent Office, on this very day in 1943, and filed an application for the patent of the ballpoint pen. A star was born; the world rejoiced. Take that, ink stains.

But here’s what you don’t know about your trusty, beloved pen:

~ An average of 100 people die each year from choking on a ballpoint.
~ 125 are sold every second of every day.
~ BIC, alone, has sold more than 7 billion ballpoint pens in the US since 1983.
~ Ballpoints have a lifespan of about 50,000 words.
~ The most expensive, the Mont Blanc Ball Point, is $730,000.

A word of caution: ballpoints are not foolproof. So don’t be a hero, protect your pocket.

pocket protectorCopyright © 2015 Publikworks

: can you see the flames from there? :

June 7, 2015 § 4 Comments

Last Friday I took a clerical test. A temp agency had unearthed an old online résumé and was eager to evaluate my skills. See if I was worthy of the clerical title.

Never one to pass up an opportunity for failure, I agreed. I even went so far as to put on a bra and decent clothes. It’s important to look your best during natural disasters. The media typically show up to record the devastation and ask dumb questions. I expect them — we’re on a first name basis. I rarely disappoint.

fire alarm

This time I didn’t just go down in flames, it was a flipping conflagration. I failed that thing like a champ, ladies and gentlemen, with flying colors. It’s possible I set a new record for lowest score in history. Their minimum requirement for alphanumeric data entry is 6,000 keystrokes per hour. pffft, wankers. I breezed in with a cool 782.

The minimum typing requirement is 35/wpm. Me? 29/wpm. I tested as a Beginner in Excel and, how’d this happen?, Proficient in Word. To her everlasting credit and my great relief, the ‘staffing specialist’ thought my test results were as hilarious as I did. I’m not proud, I realize I have no skills and I don’t pretend otherwise. I wouldn’t know a spreadsheet from a racing form.

I knew there’d be a typing test, of course, but Excel? No. Data entry? No. I’m not 100% certain I even know what a real, bona fide clerical job entails. I thought filing might be involved and I’m familiar with the alphabet, so that’s good. Running errands, I’m capable there. Making coffee, got that covered. But none of those were part of the test.

Perhaps worst of all, though, I was forced to use a PC. What is with those keyboards? The keys are so goddam awkward, tall and tetchy and incredibly noisy. If you dare to look at them funny, they’ll make you pay. They’ll close what you’re working on and send you on a one-way journey into darkness. I’d rather use a quill and inkwell than a PC keyboard. Those things are horrid. Seriously horrid.

I’m not making excuses, I’ll be the first to admit I’m no prize. And if they’d asked I would’ve told them: I am not marketable. I will not be a good reflection on your staffing business. Saved us both a lot of time and trouble and embarrassment. But people have to learn these things for themselves, I guess. And we got a good laugh out of it, so no harm done.

extinguisher

Okay, then, off to more and bigger disasters. Good day.

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: sorry, I’ve been busy banging my head :

June 4, 2015 § 4 Comments

helmet

I don’t have good sense, you know? I whine and complain about falling short, not measuring up, then put myself right back on the same course for failure. That’s not normal.

Maybe pounding my head on keyboards and desks and walls has done some damage up there. Dislodged a part or two, frayed the wiring? I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve never knocked myself unconscious, but I’ve made myself dizzy. Lots of times. Everything went black once and I had to lie down for a while. Should I have an MRI, you think?

Great, now I’ve scared the bejeezus out of myself. I’ll be imagining all kinds of gruesome scenarios involving bone saws and neurologists and removable brain pans. Oh, good job, I’m gonna be sick.

I need to get hold of myself. Put an end to this monkey business once and for all. Quit pretending to know what I’m doing. I don’t, I don’t have a clue. I should just relax and be content with posting things on my little blog here. It’s not proud, it publishes everything — good, bad, and indifferent.

Yes, that’s what I should do: be content with what I have. And I will. Right after I send this latest submission. It’s pretty decent, I think. Oh, shoot, would you look at that? There they go, my hopes, they’re headed skyward. Again. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll just sit here quietly and wait for them to come crashing back to the ground.

Stand back, everyone, give them plenty of room.

spherical balloonCopyright © 2015 Publikworks