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It's not always funny.

A genuine thank-you to comedians and other funny people who know when it's better to be un-joking and serious. Sometimes events transcend the need to joke about things; joking can be A response, but not always THE response. (I'm recalling Dave Barry's first column after 9/11. He was sad and angry and processing, like so many of us.) It shows that, for the person who stops being funny at that time, their default isn't always to find the joke. Even when it's their job. Part of my online experience is "try to be funny when I can." I'm not a pro at it, but again, I do what I can. I have moments when an attempted joke comes to me and I go "no, no, no, wrong time for a joke." I'm all right at self-editing...

...and that's partly because I find the "automatic snark" response to almost anything to be honestly exhausting. Plenty of times, empathy is the better response than to try to be the funniest person in the room.

(There's also the risk that "being the funniest in the room" is really "making it about you." I see this all the time on Facebook. It's one reason I often find Facebook a little draining.)

Sometimes, jokes can wait. Listening and processing and trying to understand can always happen.

Another change to where I've been

A place I worked is going away. I was surprised by this news, and surprised that I was surprised — or, to be clearer, surprised how the news hit me.

For a year, from February 2012 to January 2013, I temped part-time in a print shop, Graphic Arts Center, in a large NW Portland building situated between the Fremont Bridge and Montgomery Park. It's my most recent industrial job, one with ear plugs and heavy lifting where, yes, I was trusted with machines. (Running the freight elevator was a treat. Felt like I was in the elevator from Aliens.) I loaded and unloaded paper from the presses, such as brochures, mailings, packages, and instruction cards. Once when a printer was having trouble with its automatic ink feed, I got the job of literally pouring buckets of ink into it and troweling that ink. I got to run an industrial trash compactor. No, I didn't drive any vehicles (I'm not certified for forklifts), but I did get to operate battery-powered jacks to move big stuff.

Graphic Arts Center was an institution. It's been there for literally decades, often running 24 hours a day; some of the people I worked with had been at GAC since before I was born, and no I am not exaggerating. It's in one of the heavy industrial neighborhoods of Portland (though a few houses are nearby), an area where the TV show Leverage pretended to blow up a warehouse a few blocks away. Not much farther than that, there's the neighborhood anchored by the roads 21st and 23rd Ave., or as they're also known, Trendy-First and Trendy-Third; quite a contrast to Industrial Portland. Both neat places, in their different ways, to visit.

That big, one-a-half-block-sized complex will be redeveloped this year for different industrial and, possibly, commercial uses, and renamed The Hopper. From the schematic linked at this entry's start, it looks like a good chunk of the building (at least its southwest corner) will stay put. But the current jobs there are going away: GAC's owners are laying off 91 people. That most likely still includes people I worked with.

Honestly, I would not have minded working at Graphic Arts Center again; I even considered reapplying there, as opposed to certain jobs I would not want to return to. It was measurable, concrete work: do this, get that taken care of, help out over there. You were allowed to be loud, because THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO BE HEARD; I try not to be a shouter, but it was okay to be one there. Kind of a nice little release. (No, I won't be the jackass who shouts in an office; that's the wrong place to shout.) The building has all sorts of neat nooks and crannies, and was fun to explore. It was also a place where people didn't look askance at me for reading on breaks; I read a lot in 2012, 84 books to be exact.

It was a place I went and a thing I did, for a year. It was a place other people went for years or decades. And soon it will be something else, as Portland keeps evolving. I hope the people who are getting laid off find another place to work and be productive.

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SOME OF WHAT I DO IS WIN, WIN, WIN

Hadn't planned to post today, but I'm smiling about this: today, after getting over to SW Portland's Raleigh Hills neighborhood (and spending time at Sesame Donuts then donating a bunch of items to the Thrift Store Benefiting Cat Adoption Team), I got home, and headed out again, this time to Landmark Saloon for the latest Funemployment Radio Bingo Night (sponsored this time by Reyka Vodka from Iceland), braving the wind and even a bit of hail to do so, and I'm glad I did because I WON A ROUND OF BINGO:



I won in the first game's third round (blackout) and I won candy, St. Patrick's Day swag to wear, and a Funemployment Radio t-shirt. YES. Winning's nice.

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Here. An exercise:





Short Form
by Christopher Walsh, 1/21/2017-1/24/2017


I see what I can.
Can I see what I need?

* * * * *
Long Form
by Christopher Walsh, 1/24/2017-1/31/2017


I see what I can.
Observing; considering; synthesizing — the goal: capture the world
In a thought.
No, smaller goal: a slice of our world,
Better understood, incrementally,
Then passed farther along.
You see what you can.
Perhaps with a parallax between your point and mine,
Understood differently from converging angles.
That world-slice makes more sense to me;
I wish for it to make more sense to you.
You wish for that as well. (At least I hope you do.)
Each view has pull. Each view explains,
Presenting its evidence, for us to pull in
From there or there (maybe there)
And think about.
And act on, perhaps, maybe, eventually.
Act on, how? We can't yet be sure: but
We see what we can.
How we translate the view, how we act, remains to be seen.
It's a factor of X, on top of variable after variable,
Not all grasped, not all known, not all seen.
(Though you see what you can.)
(As do they.)
(As do others.)
It all can be explained:
What is seen, and what is done,
Because anything, even anything new, can be studied and classified, and
Since psychology knows the ways we can react:
Sometimes expected to the point of being clear,
Sometimes unexpected to the point of being dissonant.
Maybe our action jars. Maybe it's hard to explain,
Done after leap on leap on leap of what felt like logic
Springing from what you've seen.
There is that risk. But we can improve.
My logic, your logic, ours, theirs,
Overlap — we hope — in a matrix of understanding
That can — that needs to be — further, more deeply
Connected.
...What if we see all of what we can?
What if we reach not a step in understanding,
But a jump in it?
What could, unexpectedly, add up?
What sense will we bring?
What world would we reach?

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I can.

Occasionally, I feel the need to post blog entries a lot. December-January was one of those times: I made sure to post at least once a day both months.

Honestly, part of my motivation was that I was slightly annoyed at having posted every day in November except once, on Saturday, Nov. 5th. That hole in the schedule...it taunted me... *grins*

Okay. Now I don't feel the need to post blog entries as much. I'll allow this to ebb and flow. At the moment I don't want to post just to post; some of my more recent entries felt like that.

But I can post, when I want to.

What else can I do?

"Trust me, I know what I'm doing."

Sometimes the only answer is to watch the pilot episode of Sledge Hammer!

That is not in fact true but tonight I'll pretend it is.

Changes of venue

[Star Wars icon used for entry because any part of the Star Wars galaxy would be one heck of a change of venue]

Walking, sitting, writing, reading: strictly speaking, I can do all of these at the house where I live, but like lots of people, I like and want to do them elsewhere. As I write this, I'm at the house, and this is the view:


It's a nice view, from a comfortable chair, a plush rocking chair of mine. In that view: the street, two of the house plants (the one on the right is mine), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, my phone, a mug (empty, but it had tea), my current poetry notebook, and the two most recent books I finished: Hyperbole and a Half by blogger Allie Brosh of Bend, Oregon, and the Coen Brothers' screenplay to Fargo. I can do plenty from this chair and with this view. But I get out to other views for other things.

Earlier this afternoon I read while sitting among the Belmont Goats, making sure the goats didn't overly nibble a book (or my bag, or my yellow coat) and also taking pictures of them. It had been a while since I'd visited or photographed them. Luckily several were in a friendly mood. Other times I just put down the book and my tablet and just petted or groomed them, taking it easy with them.

Last night my change of venue, after hanging out at the house all day, was Mt. Scott Community Center nearby, where I sat in a corner of the lobby and wrote. Poetry-writing. Yes, I do that in public (sometimes in coffee shops even!). I made sure it was OK with the community center staff that I just sat and wrote for a bit. It's warm, well-lit, convenient, and open until at least 7:00. After that, I went for a further walk and briefly looked around the Portland Mercado, a market open until 9:00 each night, and nicely busy at the time. I didn't hang out to read or write, I just visited. Since I wasn't going to eat or shop, I wouldn't have felt right just hanging out, but it was nice to be reminded I could.

Friday night my change of venue involved bus riding. A lot of it. I went up to Bridge City Comics, which by Portland standards is a lengthy trip. The rule of thumb I knew for years was You can get from any part of Portland to any other part of Portland in 20 minutes, but...not this trip, nor for many other kinds of trips. Which was fine, I had time, and I could just read.

Turns out I'm less likely to do blog-writing while I'm out, at least when I'm out nowadays. Blogging should be pretty portable, especially with this tablet, but I don't think to do it while out. I could and should try that, like maybe go up to Portland International Airport and write there — that's another place I visit sometimes, just to visit — and see what comes out of me. Because changing venues can help me do something different. I made good progress on a poem at the community center last night, for instance.

Now I'm thinking of venues I miss going to. College common rooms, for instance: I probably didn't use them as much as I would've liked when I was in college. ("Why didn't I go over to the EMU more often?!") I'm likely thinking of those because of my Harry Potter re-read, re-reading about the comforts of Hogwarts. Well, of parts of Hogwarts. I miss Big-Ass Sandwiches, whether sitting in an alley or a covered area near one of the carts or in the restaurant. I miss All-Way, a diner/fountain-type place that was in downtown Portland briefly; it took over the space where Red Coach had been for years, but which I'd never gone to; I wish I had. Cafés, of course; I hadn't gone to many of them before or during college, but I feel I'm making up for that. Another category of venues: porches. I get the appeal of porches, but not in winter; I last sat on this house's porch on a warm day in November, reading Ian Fleming's early Bond novel Moonraker. Hey, maybe this is incentive to visit the American South, where warm porches are more prevalent.

I guess the goal is: More things to do, more places in which to do them...

Unexpected writing moment:

Last Tuesday I was writing a poem, which was only one line long. When I thought of a second line, it hit me:

Oh, the second line is also the last line.

I hadn't expected that, but I realized it was true.

Though at the moment I'm working on a poem with the same first line as that one, and I'm trying it as a longer poem. I want to see where it goes. Maybe to a different place than the short version. Maybe the same.

They have provisional titles: "Short Form" and "Long Form." We'll see how much longer "Long Form" is...

Friday, January 27th, 2017...

...A day when each attempt to put my thoughts into words looks, to me, like me being a pretentious, self-absorbed ass. I don't like this.

These probably aren't the right words, either, but I will put these here anyway and hope I can figure out better, and non-pretentious, non-ass-y words, another day.

The time I gave books a lift

Scholastic Books. There. Now you're thinking about Scholastic Books, which brings book fairs to schools all over the country to give students a little more say in what they read. I told you that to tell you this: I temped at Scholastic Books once. Of course I eventually worked in a book warehouse*. That was for three weeks in January 2001, right after I'd moved into Portland. The warehouse is still there, in an industrial park east of PDX. (Also on Facebook, where it promotes its in-warehouse sales.)

A good place and a good crew, thank goodness: a mix of temps and permanent people, and a mix of ages from twenty-something to middle-age, all (as I recall) welcoming and fond of books. Rap over the PA, Jammin' 95.5 to be exact, and this was when Outkast's "Miss Jackson" was on heavy rotation. I was probably concentrating on book-lifting too much to head-bob, but I enjoyed the music.

The books Scholastic publishes include the phenomenon that is the Harry Potter series — you'd see the odd box here and there from the previous summer's release of Goblet of Fire, marked "HARRY POTTER IV" because the title was kept under wraps until two weeks before the book came out — and on breaks at the job, I read the opening chapters of The Sorceror's Stone. I'd been aware of it, especially since I'd covered schools for my newspaper job when the first four books came out, and my dad was already reading and enjoying the series; finally I could see what it was about and go Ah, now I get it. And of course I explored more: the first Lemony Snicket books, science guides, First Reader-type books, and kid-friendly guides to all sorts of subjects: I particularly liked a hardcover Marvel Comics guide to X-Men, as I'd liked the 2000 film and had come to realize I was surrounded by friends who were X-Men fans. Skimming it (all I had the time for) helped me get a better base for following the series, years before the wonderfully comprehensive podcast Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men began.

A couple of tie-ins surprised me. Scholastic had YA books based on The Sixth Sense. It had YA tie-ins to the Left Behind books. Eclectic selection: you hope booksellers have that, even if I never would've bought those two series.

That job wasn't going to be temp-to-perm; I got a temp-to-perm job the next month, at the downtown Portland call center I worked at for three years. But the book warehouse felt like one of my moves, since so much of what I pack and unpack in each move is books. Helps to move books when you're being paid for it...



* Years before, I'd temped a weekend at a book sale, which also seems like something I'd do eventually, too. It was summer 1993 in Northern Virginia, between years at college, when Mom and Dad still lived there. The sale took over an empty City of Fairfax hardware store and had tables and tables of books. Workers got first pick before the sake, and I bought a behind-the-scenes book about the making of Star Trek V and a book jokingly retelling the Bible using photos from often horribly-done Biblical film adaptations.

Real-life exchange today

‪"Time flies."‬

‪"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, now I'm hungry."‬

Care. (That's a full sentence.)

Care.

Take care.

Take more care.

Stretch those care muscles, give them a workout. Care better. Care more. Expand your care abilities.

You can think of it as spiritual cardio.

Sun

For a little bit today, Portland got sun. I feel lucky I got to be out in it.

We've dried out from this weekend's rain, and almost — almost — all of the snow we had during the last two weeks has melted. Some piles remain, runoff running off (well, running off slowly) from them. Though this morning was frosty and foggy, so today's melting didn't happen right away, but eventually it did. And clouds rolled back in, as they tend to do in the cloudy northwest corner of Oregon, but: for a time, a needed time, sun. Vitamin D in handy made-by-rays form.

I still took my calcium/Vitamin D supplement today, though.

Vague Post

It's been a day where certain things haven't worked and I've had to remind myself of other things that have worked.

I want to remember, during times of frustration, that plenty of things do work.

This is a moment. I can record it here. And move on from it to other, better moments.

Sans!

"Inspired by the lettering in Batman and Watchmen comics, [Vincent Connare] came up with what would be known as Comic Sans. And his bosses didn’t like it. This is one of those rare stories in which the close-minded suits were actually on to something. But the young designer was undeterred and fought for it—arguing that it should be weird and stand out."

Gizmodo presents the origin of Comic Sans. That's right, it didn't always exist.

Udvar-Hazy. Just say it. "Udvar-Hazy."

Ah, Northern Virginia. I wouldn't live there again, though I did live there from fall 1984 to summer 1992 — and visited family there during college until summer 1994, when Dad retired from the Navy and he and Mom moved back to Oregon — but I like to visit. It's a place I'm comfortable, and used to, full of landmarks of my life. Plus family and friends are there. And museums. Ah, museums.

Including not just the National Air & Space Museum, which I visited a lot in the Eighties and Nineties, but also the Air & Space's Udvar-Hazy Center. It's huge and sprawling and it finally opened in 2003, after the Smithsonian had declared back in the 1980s that an annex at Dulles Airport made the most sense as an annex location. More space for bigger planes and craft, plus it'd be easier to get those big craft there if it was at an airport; you can't land a 747 on the National Mall. (Rockets shouldn't land anywhere but their landing platforms, but that's another story, one that Space X and others are writing. But I digress.) For decades Air & Space was storing big items at Dulles, like the space shuttle Enterprise and the SR-71 now on display there, and I waited for an annex to be built.

Selfishly, I kind of wish it had been built while I lived there, only a few miles away, but it eventually got funded (in 1999, by the billionaire the center is named after) and built. It opened in 2003; I've visited it once so far, in March 2004. But it was in my imagination long before then.

Like this: in the late Eighties, around the time a TV series debuted that was a followup to the 1953 film version of War of the Worlds, I started to think: what if you did a modern-day film sequel? And like that, I imagined an opening sequence: an Air & Space Museum annex, at Dulles (of course — or the rebuilt Dulles, because presumably it had been damaged in the War of the Worlds), filled with planes and spacecraft and other technological achievements of ours, and the camera tracks across the artifacts and the people visiting them until it pans up to show one of these hanging from the ceiling:


An alien vessel, restored but made harmless, though there as a sign — how Independence Day: Resurgence of me to think this way — that maybe the alien invaders would come back. And something you could visualize on a film budget; no way would the TV show have had the money to pull that off. (The show, in fact, portrayed the people of Earth as having "selective amnesia" about the original film's war, with the world rebuilt enough to cover the scars of the war...making the show easier and cheaper to produce, but, again, I digress.)

The Udvar-Hazy Center did appear on film, if you can call Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a film (hey now!), but more importantly, it appears in reality. One day, I'll be back.

A quiet day

Today was a home day. I didn't feel like going out, so I didn't. I did laundry and cleaned the living room, the foyer and the dining area. By the usual house schedule I should've done that last weekend; I forgot. Then I remembered that I forgot, and took care of it. I also did a little cleaning in my bedroom, which I can do on any schedule I like.

(At least today wasn't a home day because of weather issues. THE ROADS AND SIDEWALKS ARE CLEAR. Have been since Thursday; Wednesday night, they were still slushy and treacherous. Not anymore, and Thursday I celebrated by driving the car on a nice little loop, the first time I'd driven in about two weeks.

(Now we see what the rest of winter has in store...)

I've also been reading, both online updates and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I'm in the climax, and pacing myself through it; you know how grim it gets. The line "Kill the spare": an early sign that J.K. Rowling was willing for this story to go dark, horrific, harsh. That line chilled me in 2001 and it chilled me again today.

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Some questions can be hard. Or at least complicated. Or at least multiple-answered. Part of Geek Trivia, as it is for most trivia games, is multiple choice/multiple answers. Geek Trivia often ended rounds with a mega-question: how many Transformers in this scene can you name? Identify each peripheral plugged into this Nintendo game system. These take more writing, and usually earned multiple points. Here are some of the multiple "choice/multiple answers "questions I wrote.


11. Without Douglas Adams there'd be no Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but one of his other big contributions to British science fiction was as a writer and script editor for Doctor Who. After working on Who, Adams wrote two novels based on story elements he'd first conceived for Doctor Who. For 1 point each, which two novels are those?

12. For one point each: In the parody film Top Secret!, Val Kilmer's film debut, there are 11 French Resistance soldiers fighting for the leader known as "The Torch." Name as many of the 11 soldiers as you can.

13. Speaking of Top Secret!</i>, it is one of only three films directed by ZAZ, the three-man team of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker. What were the other two?

14. In Joss Whedon's first decade in Hollywood, he earned much money doing credited or uncredited rewrites of films -- some good, some not-so-good, like Titan A.E., where after he and his wife saw it at a screening, she told him "Say something funny, to remind me you are." Which of the following movies was NOT rewritten by Joss Whedon? Speed, Disney's Tarzan, Toy Story, Twister.

15. Behold!
image.jpeg

Before that wrinkled warped wag Roger Moore took up the mantle of James Bond, Sean Connery played the role, such as in one flick written by children's author Roald Dahl where Connery and a henchman fought using a couch. Name, in order from earliest to latest, Connery's official Bond films. Once you get one wrong, you get no more points. Bonus point: name Connery's one unofficial Bond film, which he did over a decade after he'd previously played the role. (The Rock doesn't count.)




11. Life, the Universe, and Everything, based on Adams' film treatment "Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen," and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, based on bits of both his Doctor Who story "City of Death" and the never-completed Who story "Shada," but people won't need those details for the answer.
12. The soldiers who are introduced to Kilmer are 1. Chevalier, 2. Montage, 3. Detente, 4. Avant-Garde, 5. Deja Vu, 6. Croissant, 7. Souffle, 8. Escargot, and 9. Chocolate Mousse. Two others who are never introduced to Kilmer but are named in the film are 10. Du Quois and 11. Latrine.) (This could be changed to "Name the nine soldiers who are introduced to Kilmer," which might be easier.)
13. Airplane! and Ruthless People. They produced the Naked Gun movies, but each film had only one director, and co-wrote The Kentucky Fried Movie, which John Landis directed.
14. Whedon rewrote Speed, Toy Story, and Twister. [My note to Bobby: I was thinking of other possible "not" answers to give other than Tarzan; I'll also suggest the wrong answer to be Toy Story 2, The Emperor's New Groove, or Men In Black, but of course you might have a better idea.]
15. Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever. Six points total there. Bonus point is Never Say Never Again.)

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Portland snow update!

I want snow melt and a patty melt.

I'm at least getting a snow melt.

Portland's finally above freezing — though parts of the Columbia River Gorge are still treacherous and closed to traffic, last I heard — and rain is doing its thing. Snow and ice are wearing away. Finally.

We have chances for a flood, because things can't be perfect (though a patty melt would help), but if we do, we'll deal. We're ready for this to be gone.

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