Friday, June 13, 2008

Mister Fweem on the Road

Greetings, readers, from the bustling city of Logan, Utah.

The blog is on the road this weekend, ostensibly to attend a meeting of the Grand Mystic Royal Order of the Noble Sons Ali Baba Temple of the Shrine, otherwise known as the annual retreat. It's our second annual retreat, initiated at my behest because, frankly, I wanted another excuse to drop the kids off at their grandpa's house and allow myself and Michelle the luxury of wandinering off without them.

Still, we're plagued by reminders. While it is nice to be able to hear a child cry and realize that since it's not yours, you don't have to do anything about it, what's frustrating is that I keep clicking the button to open the sliding door on the van whenever we go back to it from the store or other such location. Habits die hard.

Our adventure for the day, aside from the three-hour trip here: Buying a copy of Adobe InDesign for the computer, which Michelle will use to continue updating her page design skills as she readies herself to make another Uncharted magazine. (If you haven't read the copy posted, conveniently, on this page, please do so. I think we've done a tremendous job.) I'll also continue to dabble as I try to improve my computer skills as I face, once again, the real possibility that I'll be cut loose from work as the company looks to print more money in September by cutting staff.

Speaking of staff, we've had some pretty interesting labor disputes at The Site this week. Friday, members of the United Steel Workers began picketing the Batelle Energy Alliance in Idaho Falls, as they have not reached agreement on their new labor contract. Earlier this week, members of the local carpenters' union walked off the job at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at INTEC, in support of a worker who was fired for cutting out the wrong portion of a wall. I know no one involved in any of the disputes, nor whether they're on the side of righteousness or not. But I do sympathize with them. Union workers are a rarity in Idaho, where Right to Work (a labor law which allows unions but also doesn't oblige people to join them -- a better explanation can be found here .

I'm not a union member as a technical writer. It's possible I could be. When I worked at Qwest, I joined the local for the Communication Workers of America, and it's possible they might entertain unionizing technical writers where I work. Would such an action be looked at kindly? I don't know. I'm sure that those I work with wouldn't be too keen on the idea, and I have to venture the opinion that the higher echelon wouldn't be too pleased, either. But I'm to the point where I'm getting a bit tired of the upper echelon, which keeps getting cycled through the place with a regularity that would please the constipated. Sounds like most of them are now off to Hanford, to make more money than they were making here, secure in their jobs as those of us who don't have the buddy connections stay here and worry about losing our jobs. I forget how much politics play out here. Yuck.

I'm now probably going to be regarded as a rabble-rouser, if any of this gets read. But it won't. No one reads this stuff, at least anyone who'd care to make trouble over it.

But back to Logan. I started to say our adventure was buying InDesign. We had to race down here to get to the bookstore (where I could get it at a massive discount, being a student at Utah State). We got to campus about five minutes before the bookstore was to close. Michelle raced in with my most recent receipt as I looked for a place to park the van. Michelle disappeared. I parked the van. I walked to the bookstore. I peered in through the locked doors, tucked my tail between my legs and walked off. Suddenly, someone opened the door and kindly let me in. Then I had to race through the store, get to the other part of the store where I again sat like a sad puppy until the lady who let me in got the attention of the others in the other store and let me in. I bought the program. Walked out of the store feeling quite happy with myself. Then ran into Michelle, who had succeeded in doing the exact same thing. So we had two copies of the software. We raced back into the store and luckily caught the poor cashier again, who processed a refund.

It was a comedy of errors, obviously. I have, somehow, a wounded, sad puppy dog look about me that makes people take pity on me. I'm aware of it and use it to my advantage often. In this case, bit bit us on the butt. But we got the software, got the refund, and now we're watching British sitcoms on TV. I'm signing off.

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