: restore the busy signal :

receiverCome on, it’s time to return to our senses. Let’s show a little compassion, instead of cold, ruthless insensitivity. Or do you like getting shot straight to voicemail?

I don’t — it’s a hijacking. You think you’re headed to a friendly conversation, but dark, unseen forces decide otherwise. Your call is seized and sent someplace you never intended to go. You weren’t consulted or asked, you had no choice in the matter. You’re already there. That seems presumptuous to me, autocratic.

The process is unexpected and startling. I’m caught totally off guard and end up stammering and tongue-tied. ‘Oh, uh, yeah, er, I was ca — I di — — whe — crap, never mi.’ That, boys and girls, is my standard message. It falls trippingly from my silver tongue at the end of the beep. I really and truly hate leaving voicemails. I hesitate to leave them, frankly, then hang up in a mild panic.

Busy signals were a better, more straightforward option. You could trust a busy signal. When you heard it, you knew the line was in use. Period. The unambiguous bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt didn’t lead you to suspect your call was being screened or ignored or rejected. The sound didn’t trigger a personal crisis. It was a statement of fact, no hidden motive lurked behind the bzzt. Unless the phone had purposely been taken off the hook — which was possible, but very unlikely.

These days, you never know. Getting shanghaied by phone unleashes all kinds of anxieties and self-recriminations. What did I do? What did I say? Did I step out of line? Was it my body language? The look on my face? Stoopid face. Stoopid me. Should I apologize? Have plastic surgery? Take an etiquette class? My list is long and the questions are many. All for the lack of a busy signal.

We must join together, people, and put a stop to this foolishness. It’s causing needless worry and distress among the socially awkward, like myself. And let’s get rid of *69 while we’re at it, eliminate that flipping disaster altogether. Caller I.D., too.

Jeez, don’t get me started.

stickmanCopyright © 2015 Publikworks

: pardon the interruption :

sorryI warned you this could happen and it did. I changed themes. The new tag can stay, but the theme had to go.

It didn’t work for me, after all. The elements were too big, I like small. I like white space. I like clean and airy. This wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction, I gave it almost two weeks to grow on me, but it didn’t. I started avoiding it, instead. Something got lost in the redesign. Personality or character or tone, something ineffable and essential was missing.

My old one, the original, was perfect. Finding a replacement won’t be easy and may turn out to be impossible. The hunt is on, though, I’m not ready to surrender yet.

Going backwards isn’t really an option. I thought it would be, but it’s not. I’m ready for new and different, I want to see upheaval. A shake-up is healthy once in a while and this one’s long past due. Four years is a lifetime on the Internet, so let’s see how this works out. If it doesn’t, we’ll move on. We’ll try every theme there is until we hit on the exact right one.

Please bear with me. Try to see this as an adventure, instead of a time-consuming pain in the a**. We can do this, boys and girls, I know we can. Thank you for your patience. Stand by …

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: does miss manners know about this? :

It’s Stick Out Your Tongue Day!
tongue_anatomyGood grief, what’s next? Nostril Week? Belly Button Day?

I’m always up for a party, whatever the occasion, but this is unpleasant on so many levels. Although sticking your tongue out in Tibet is considered a fine greeting. Good to know in case you visit the Dalai Lama and somebody sticks their tongue out at you. Don’t be insulted. Stick yours out in return and say howdy back. When in Rome and all.

The practice should be banned if you ask me, classified as a misdemeanor and subject to a stiff fine. Not because it’s ill-mannered, but because tongues are gross and repulsive organs. Stop by a deli or meat counter if you have any doubts. No, don’t, too upsetting. The thought of eating one mak … urrk, I can’t go there. You have to wonder, though, can it taste you?

Revolting as they are, tongues are essential to life as we know it. We need the nasty thing to eat, breathe, and talk. But why does it have to be so hideous? Okay, I can’t answer that, but I do know this:
whale
the blue whale has the largest tongue of all animals, weighing in around 5,950 pounds (or 2.7 metric tons).

the tongue is home to between 3,000 and 10,000 taste buds.

speaking of taste buds, they die off every 10 to 14 days and are replaced by fresh ones. Mmm, fresh taste buds.

contrary to popular belief, your tongue is not the strongest muscle in your body. It doesn’t exert the most pressure — that’s the jaw muscle. Or the most force — the quads and glutes. Or do the most work — the heart. And, it’s not one muscle — it’s actually eight, according to Scientific American.

average length from back to tip is 4 inches, with women typically having shorter tongues than men. Aw, boohoo.

Now put that thing back in your mouth and leave it there. If you don’t mind. Thank you.

tongueCopyright © 2015 Publikworks

: moving on :

bouncer

A whole bunch of us are about to be categorized as personae non grata. That’s Latin for unwelcome freeloaders. I want that printed on my business cards, I think, sounds better than flunky.

Apparently, teleworkers are commandeering coffee shops, acting as if we own the places. We camp out all day taking up space and Wi-Fi and, in return, buy one measly beverage. You know, that’s a terrific, value-added deal, except the rightful owners are getting pissed. They’d like us to leave unless we spend more than time in their establishments.

Fair enough.

I’ve always felt a little guilty sailing into Starbucks or Barnes & Noble and plugging in my laptop. Free electricity, free Wi-Fi, free a/c and heat, free bathrooms, and I buy a latte? A grande, at that. Not even venti. Does that make me a deadbeat? Yes, but I can’t afford $5 a day for coffee. I can’t afford feeling like a bum, either, it’s tough on the ego. So …

Libraries provide the same things, some even offer coffee, but it’s not the same. They’re serious places, somber and thoughtful. I’m not. Libraries are wonderful for theses and white papers, research and disquisitions, but they’re too formal and restrained for the silliness I engage in. I think maybe it’s the quiet. I can’t concentrate when it’s that quiet, there needs to be music or talking or ringing phones. Something. Silence is very distracting.

In my unsolicited opinion, coffee shops are better promoters of free thinking. They have constant activity, a lovely aroma, the noisy hiss and burble of espresso machines, friendly chatter. It has the bustle and hum of an office environment. I get more done, but feel self-conscious and sheepish doing it. Does that count? The fact that I’m paying a price in self-esteem?

Probably not, but it should. Self-esteem doesn’t come cheap, dammit.

no moneyCopyright © 2015 Publikworks

: step one :

confusedTada.

Publikworks proudly presents — changes. New theme, new look, new tag. The whole shootin’ match. It’s the easy road, naturally, the one requiring the least effort. I spent minutes deciding on a ready-made design, pushed a button and, Bob’s your uncle, a brand new shiny blog. Hey, I lifted a finger, so the credit is deservedly mine. Alone.

With stats in free fall, extreme measures were necessary. Nearly all the options under consideration involved planning and effort and thought, a buckling down which I didn’t like the sound of. Seriously, a complete overhaul? No. Raise my standards? Pfft, what standards? Quit? The thought crossed my mind, and more than once, but no. I’m not a quitter, I’m a slacker.

Changing themes is a Band-Aid on a stab wound, I know, but it’s something. You might want to prepare for some unwelcome fallout, just in case. See, there’s bound to be an adjustment period with this new design. Different features in different places in a different environment spell trouble. For you more than me.

Bogus notifications will go flying. I guarantee it. You’ll be alerted to non-existent new posts, partial posts, posts in progress, repeat posts, reblogs, all manner of nonsense will come your way. Approach any and all digital communications from publikworks with suspicion until further notice.

Lastly, don’t get attached to the new look. It could be transitory, a passing fancy. I got a bee in my bonnet, threw caution to the wind, and barged into unfamiliar, alien territory without a map. I may soon discover I’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. Don’t you love the wild mix of metaphors and alliteration? Bees, bonnet, baby, bath water. It’s a gift.

Themes are important, they have to reflect the tone and attitude of the material published on it. I hope I chose correctly, but if I didn’t I won’t hesitate to go back to my old one. Unannounced. I won’t ask your permission or issue a warning, I’ll just go. I won’t want to, since it’s just more work, but I will if this turns into a hideous mistake. The header could change, as well — an alternate does exist. I’m on a tear.

If you have a moment, let me know what you think. Do you like it? Hate it? Or are you totally unimpressed? I haven’t decided yet myself, so take your time. Now, I’ll kick things off with a ‘Like’ on my own damn post — familiarizing you with the coming attractions, aka screw ups.

Okay, I need a nap. I’m exhausted.

sleeping_womanCopyright © 2015 Publikworks

: still recuperating :

Stats plummeted last month in a scary, screaming nosedive, but even that was a crushing disappointment. I missed setting the record for worst month ever by 24 lousy visits. So close.

If I’m going down, I want a conflagration; I want explosions and charred debris, towering flames, smoke and rubble. I want people to watch in stunned disbelief, reverent wonder. Instead, I went down in a wussy fizzle. Sorry.

head helmetBut, hey, it’s a new month and we’re  off to a faltering, lethargic limp already. This could be the one, boys and girls, the month where we hobble into history with a brand new, all-time, record low number of visits. Yeehaa! Let’s cross our fingers and keep a good thought.

In the meantime, I’ve fastened my thinking cap, pictured above. Changes, I believe, are called for. These could be anything from drastic and sweeping to barely noticeable, although probably somewhere in between. Like you, I won’t know until they happen. You should prepare, however, for sudden changes in direction, wild fluctuations in altitude, unexpected stops and starts.

Consider a helmet of your own, pictured below. Designer Jyo Jon Mulloor created these to resemble the bare heads of riders. You’ll want something of a similar nature if you expect to stop by here.

helmets_assortedNotice, I’ve turned on the No Smoking sign, so strap in and hang on tight. Remember, too, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. Aw, nuts, I forgot to file a flight plan. We’re aren’t cleared for departure — we could be here awhile.

fingers crossed
Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: brace yourselves :

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