Every year, I have to put together a bio for the Anthrocon staff booklet. Trying to find a new way to say the same thing every year has always been a bit of a challenge, but the fifty-word restriction has always been the single biggest shut-out. Trying to express "who I am" in fifty words or less has never been an easy task.

Last year I decided to deliberately break the form by writing a bio that hit exactly fifty words and cut off in mid-sentence. I thought this was terribly clever, but I discovered that someone else had come up with the same idea!
Convergent though, certainly; I didn't get the idea from the other party. I was, however, still disappointed to see that my originality had not been all that original.

This year, I think I've come up with something that not only easily comes in under the fifty-word limit but also should be in a form that others will not so readily adopt. Therefore, I present to you the Buni Alphabet:

  1. Anthropomorphs.
  2. Buni!
  3. Computers.
  4. DEVO.
  5. Existentialism.
  6. Furries.
  7. Gender theory.
  8. Humanism.
  9. Illuminatus!
  10. Jessie.
  12. Linguistics.
  13. Modernism.
  14. Null Manifesto.
  15. Objectivism.
  16. Posthumanism.
  17. Qiti!
  18. Role-playing.
  19. Stories.
  20. Transformation.
  21. Utopia.
  22. Viridian.
  23. Writing.
  24. Xenophilia.
  25. Yacatisma.
  26. Zoomorphs.


I suppose enough time has now passed for me to talk about it, while I can still do so and have all the details fresh in my mind. I got laid off of work last Friday. I still have no real idea why, which is the really annoying part. I could handle the situation better, I think, if I had some clear understanding of what I did to warrant being terminated from my position, but as of yet nothing really adds up to a logical answer. They said it was for generating low-quality work and not performing according to task, but something about that doesn't jive with the rest of the facts at hand:

They're giving me a severance package.
People who get fired for incompetence don't get severance packages, unless they're CxOs of some sort. They're giving me through the end of the last pay period, plus another paycheck after that, without me having to do any work for them in return, while they're in the middle of a financial crisis because they've just moved into a new office and can't really afford a lot right now. This is not the behavior I would expect of a company firing someone for negligence or the level of mistakes I'm being accused of making.

They're giving me unemployment.
This is the single-biggest factor belying their statement that I did poor work. Companies don't pay their screw-ups unemployment, normally. If you botch something bad enough to get fired, that's it, you're history. Unless, of course, my understanding of unemployment policies is wrong, which I concede is possible. However, they told me to list "LACK OF WORK" as my reason for being terminated, and that they would back that up when the Department of Labor and Industry came asking about my application. I want to say that this isn't how they treated the other people I know who got fired, but I can't say that for sure.

They never gave me a warning.
My previous manager insists that I had three months of warnings and suggestions that my work was unsatisfactory and needed to be corrected, but as far as I understand employee-manager communication—admittedly not as far as I'd like, or these things wouldn't keep happening—a warning consists of a one-on-one meeting between manager and employee, or perhaps a three-way with an HR representative, in which the manager says "your work is unsatisfactory," and then either the manager or the HR rep presents a form for the employee to sign that goes in the employee's file. I know Beth got that kind of warning before she got fired, but I never did. The first I directly got any sort indication that I wasn't doing good enough work was the morning I got let go from the company. My manager insisted four times that the quality meetings and statements about "we all have to do good work all the time" and "we have to implement these quality metrics" were my warnings. That, pardon my French, is bullshit.

The other responsible parties didn't get the axe as well
This is the one that really burns me. If there were mistakes made, and I won't lie here in bed and say there weren't, 'cause there were, I know for certain I wasn't the only one making them, but apparently I was the only one who got hit. The database from which my department worked was riddled with errors generated by both the group responsible for getting data and the group responsible for creating the database, many of which we had no way of catching unless we knew to look for them, and how to identify them when they happened. The people who created those sorts of errors still have their jobs, probably because they were under different managers.

I hate to sound tinfoily, but I suspect ultimately what happened is that I did a sample project for a company that got used in a head-to-head comparison of our products against other companies', and because of a recent reranking of our address space—something done by another department—our results came in dead-last in the comparison. This cost the company marketplace credibility and probably a fair bit of money, and somebody at the sufficiently-elevated-as-to-not-directly-have-all-the-information level made the decision that somebody's head had to roll, and mine was the most easily accessible. They did some digging, found enough reason to make the charge of "poor quality work" stick, and stuck it hard and fast so they could say to whomever needed to hear it, "the problem has been solved."

Of course, the problem hasn't been solved, but they've bought themselves some breathing room to solve it, maybe.

I don't really want to see them burn in flames, 'cause my friend Bennie is still working there, and the last thing I want to have happen is to see him get caught in the crossfire simply because I think someone in upper management made a poor decision, but I really would like to know who decided what and why. Not that knowing would do me any good, mind you. If anything, it would make things harder. When I got fired from CRS, knowing that one person was ultimately responsible for the decision made the desire to act against that person quite strong. Not really having a target here keeps the anger from boiling up and out of control. There's nobody to be angry at. Not even me.

I can at best be angry with the circumstances that have brought me to this point, and hope that they don't happen again.

On the upside, Saturday I sent out several copies of my résumé, and Monday morning I had a voice mail at the new place waiting for me telling me that someone had seen my application for a position with a financial services company and was interested in talking with me more in-depth. I've called and the recruiter sounds quite positive, but is currently waiting for a more detailed job-description from the hiring company. Apparently they've had trouble filling this particular job because the data people complain about too much programming and the programmers complain about too much data management, meaning it's almost exactly what I was doing at HMS.

It would be exceptionally boss if I got a new job before the severance package for the last one vanished.

In the meantime, I'm working more on my novel and other short stories. I've got two more erotic pieces conceived that I need to write, and I need to work up the gumption to replace the chapter of Child of Man that I deleted by accident. Important note: the commands "vi" and "ci" are very close to each other on the keyboard. Further, "ci" doesn't make a copy when it puts it under revision control; it just sticks the file into revision control. Deleting the revision-controlled copy deletes the original file.

Further note: Recovering deleted files in linux should be attempted immediately after deleting, not half an hour later. This is especially true on a server system with multiple processes all running at once.

Thankfully it's nothing I can't recover by rewriting it, and doing so will let me clean the prose somewhat. I wasn't entirely happy with the segment, but I do know where I'm going and how I want to get there. I just have to put
all the ideas down onto actual hardcopy now.

I'll also have lots of time to handle moving into the house. We still have a lot of crap in the apartment that needs to be shunted over to the house, and we still haven't fleshed out the plan to do that. I'm still shuttling boxes over in the Volvo as I get time, then coming back after dumping stuff up in the attic.

It seems I have a lot of time, now, so at least the house should be easier to move.


A busy weekend, but a good one!

My last day of work this week was Friday, thanks to my company relocating to a new office. The management even told us to pack up and head home at 17h00 instead of 18h00 so they could start shutting down the computers early. Now, I had to pick up my car from the shop, meaning Tony had to come pick me up from work and take me to Manayunk to get it back, but even that's a minor setback. The car's now got a valid inspection sticker, and it didn't exceed the cost I'd expected to pay for the repairs.

On an absolutely tangential thread, how long are Pennsylvania inspection stickers supposed to last? Mine said April 2004 before, but I just got new ones and they expire in November, not April of next year. Is this a "call the shop and scream" offense, or just something about older vehicles in Pennsylvania I didn't know before?

Anyway, I got the car back, came home and packed for Jessie's and my weekend jaunt up to Boston, to visit LeDiva and the Posts. Every time I go there, I feel a bit like I'm coming home again. We left Friday after lunch, and put into Charmdown Park just before dinner, which means excellent timing on the trip. As Jessie put it, "[Kristy's] lead foot is usually a good counterbalance to New Jersey's accidents and construction", and this trip was no exception. Strangely, though, the real bulk of the traffic all appeared to be on the other side of the highway, going in the other direction. Most of the length of the MassPike was clear for me, and solid cars for the other side. 

The night we arrived, LeDiva showed us an episode of Mad Mad House, which I must say I found... odd. I like the fact that the people making the decisions about who stays and who leaves are not the ones competing for the prizes, but by the same token I don't like the fact that the show makes such a brazen attempt at deliniation between "normal people" and "alts". There's something mildly disappointing in that to me. It's the same sort of social compartmentalizing that happened in high school, and I thought the whole point of Breakfast Club was to show those divisions as artificial. The one saving grace is that it puts the power of ejection from the set in the hands of the freaks, which I must say is a nice touch.

Anyway, we also played a round of Star Munchkin the first night. I'm still not sure what I think of this whole series, and I've played it half a dozen times now. The ease with which fortunes reverse is disturbing, and the balance of power can shift wildly without warning. It's fun, but on the whole I'd still rather play INWO. Of course, to do that I would need to find my INWO cards and rebuild my decks. I think that they're boxed and packed and at the new place already, but I don't know that for certain. I'm going to be horribly annoyed if I've lost them, because I had a complete set of Assassins, and if I've lost that I don't think I can replace it anywhere nearly as cheaply. 

Dinner Friday night was some place called Joe's, which was a bit upscale but quite nice. I probably should've gone for a salad instead of the stuffed pork loin I got, but it was tasty and the green beans were nice and crunchy
without being undercooked. Everyone else split a chocolate cake dessert of some sort, which definitely looked worth the price of admission. Double, even, considering it was free. LeDiva didn't get her salad when everyone else got their meals, so they brought her a free dessert to compensate.

After dinner we retired back to the Park to relax and talk some more, and the typical Mental Synchronicity happened. I don't remember any specifics about the conversation, but I remember that we talked for hours and that I enjoyed it immensely. I think the catchphrase of the weekend was "Should I stop you because I've heard this one," in relation to the number of times in one person's life that events mirrored or paralleled someone else's.

Saturday we lounged about the house most of the morning, then went to pick up picnicky supplies for lunch. We tried to hit a local arcade, but sadly most of the machines were in disrepair and the floorspace was far too crowded with small children upon which I had to avoid treading by accident. It was a nice way to kill an hour or two, but I wish more of the machines had worked. They had a DDR machine, but I didn't feel up to the challenge of trying it in public having not exercised in nearly three weeks. I'm definitely behind on my workout routine, disturbingly so. I was good for several months, but I've fallen behind in recent weeks. I really need to get my workout routine back into full swing, but I keep saying I should wait until the move, which is stupid.

Dinner Saturday night was Brazilian Barbeque at the Midwest Grill, which was absolutely wonderful. Expensive, but well worth the cost of admission. Their garlic-crusted beef made me swoon, and their kielbasa were exceptional. My one mistake was allowing myself to be lured by the promise of a Caesar salad appetizer. Never eat veggies at a Brazilian barbeque. They are a distraction away from the meat. Ignore the veggies! Eat the meat!

After meat font, we went in search of Krispy Kreme, which was for everyone else a nice complimentary shock to the system and for me an exercise in masochism, watching everyone else snarf down hot doughnuts. I swear, despite the successes of my diet, I'm going to switch to South Beach after the next time I go off of it for kidney-protection purposes, at least long enough to see if it works for me. I've already promised Jessie I would, if only to give her a chance to share meals with me again. Plus, it will widen my dietary intake somewhat. I just have to be that much more vigilant about what I eat.

Speaking of eating, I really need to cut down on the Caesar salads, I think. I never realized until now just how much sodium the dressing contained. It's kind of a shame, but I need to drop back to regular chef salads for a while to see if that helps me break my plateau. Between that and exercise, I should see some positive results soon, I hope.

Sunday, sadly, both LeDiva and Postrodent had to take off early, but we sat around talking with Postvixen for... well... hours. We actually ended up leaving an hour later than I planned because we were so engrossed in discussion. I've decided to try running a second game, one more suited to that crowd, but I'm still in the initial planning stages for it. LeDiva, PostRodent, PostVixen, Jessie, if you've got any comments to add for things you'd be interested in seeing, let me know so I can try to work something into the story line. I've got a few niggling notions, but nothing concrete as of yet.

Jessie and I finally made it home and crashed shortly afterwards. As noted above, I love driving to Boston, but I hate the drive back. The conversations are all still fresh in my mind, and inevitably I'm already tired by the time
I'm halfway home, so the trip seems to drag forever. It's not a hard drive, just a longer one than I'd have to like to make for something I want to be a regular occasion.

Hopefully next time they can come down to Philly.


I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Saturday I was up listening to GameCast, enjoying my bottle of twelve-year MacAllan, and playing .hack//quarantine until almost five in the morning. It would've been four in the morning, but because of DST we lost an hour, so Jessie and I didn't crawl out of bed on Sunday until nearly 14h00. This threw my schedule off for most of the day, and I didn't crawl into bed until well after midnight.

Once there, though, I should have snuggled up against Jessie's side and gone directly to bed. That would've been the sane option. Instead, we both lay awake for over an hour, talking about the sorts of things that only come to
light under those sorts of conditions. I joke about lying awake at night thinking about things I can't possibly answer, but last night it happened.

I'd blame Kincaid, but she's not really at fault. That post was a catalyst for thoughts that already plague my mind. Most of the time, I have the common sense—or perhaps the will to blindness—to not think about any of these things. I live in a bubble mostly by choice, because the world at large scares me in ways I can't really define. I don't understand what makes a lot of people tick, other than to say that they believe different things about the world from me, and they let their beliefs guide their actions. That's all well and good, but what happens when their beliefs—immune to logic, reason or reconciliation—contradict mine?

There're a lot more of them than there are of me.

In a proper democracy, there'd be some understanding of the principle of "majority rules, minority rights." Everyone knows the first part, but most people forget the second. It's that part of the Master Plan as conceived by the Founding Fathers that makes majority rules possible: the understanding that there are certain lines one just doesn't cross, because if one should ever find oneself in the minority one wouldn't want those same lines crossed.

This is the step that most people forget, the most crucial and significant part. Less than a month ago, I had someone try to tell me in earnest that it was alright to trample on my rights and deny me the right to express my opinion if that were what the majority believed were in the best interest of everyone involved. He even went so far as to say that were he in the minority, he would expect me to do the same to him and thought the point was
to ensure that one never became part of the minority, so as to avoid that fate.

He didn't really seem to grok the idea that everyone is a minority of one at some level. That's what makes us truly individual, as opposed to approximate clones of each other.

All these thoughts came to me last night, as Jessie and I lie awake, talking about them. I really do fear for the future of my country. I believe in the ideals upon which it was founded, but I have lost my faith in the notion that we properly implement those ideals, or even that we can fix the mistakes we've made in trying. The founding fathers envisioned an educated populace, eminent statesmen of office who held strict moral codes, a government run primarily on inertia, and a wealth of political parties to offset the inherent evil of idea-labeling. We have none of these things with any regularity, and when we get them they are often as not decried as part of the evil of "partisan politics."

Running to Canada will not make anything better. Staying here will not make me feel safer.

I don't know what I want right now. I want to believe that the situation is going to improve, that the American people will at some point realize what they have allowed to become of their country and take back the glory that
should have been theirs by right. I want to think that a revolution like the Summer of Love is just around the corner, that we will somehow realize that we have been asleep for so very long and the time to wake up is at hand. 

All I can really do is plan for the day when I never have to leave my house again, unless I choose to do so.

I am not a hero. I do not dream of taking on the world. I will not be one of the ones taken to Atlantis. I want to be like Candide, and tend to my own little garden. I want a hole in the ground into which I can crawl and not these about these things, because I'm too smart to be able to leave them alone and too dumb to know how to fix them. I want my hutch, the inviolate walls of a cage to protect me for when I no longer have the strength to
protect myself.

I'm not Dagny; maybe I never was. At best, I'm Cheryl, struggling to make sense of a world I didn't create. All I can truly hope is to avoid her fate.

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