The “B” Word

•July 22, 2014 • 2 Comments
No! Not that "B" word! This is a G-rated blog.

No! Not that “B” word! This is a G-rated blog.

Bureaucracies.

Unless you live in the woods and the only thing modern around you is your band spankin’ new three-hole outhouse, you and bureaucracies are on a first-name basis whether you like it or not.

The separate stalls fer privacy ain't a bad touch, huh?

The separate stalls fer privacy ain’t a bad touch, huh?

And probably you don’t like them. Most people get redder than a baboon’s behind at the mere mention of the “B” word, yet bureaucracies are tangled up in nearly every aspect of our lives.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a dignified picture of a baboon butt? I don't suggest you try.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a dignified picture of a baboon butt? I don’t suggest you try.

No wonder so many people act like apes gone nuts, only worse because they’re armed (with weapons, I mean).

The interesting thing about bureaucracies is that, pound-for-pound, they’re the most efficient way of organizing large groups of people to get stuff done…when they work as they should.

The problem with bureaucracies (and this is kind of a big problem) is that they hardly ever work as they should. That’s why most of us have nothing but PTSD when we think about dealing with any government agency, credit card company, bank, hospital, retailer, university, or you name it.

But the overdraft was just for $2.00. Oh, golly. Can't you please forgive me just this once? You don't have the authority? Who does? Please don't tell me his last name is Oz...

But the overdraft was just for $2.00. Oh, golly. Can’t you please forgive me just this once? You don’t have the authority? Who does? Please don’t tell me his last name is Oz…

Maybe if you understand some of the predictable problems with bureaucracies, at least you can play a little game when you run into them, thereby making the experience somewhat more fun.

No? Well, it’s worth a try. It’s better than wondering how people with supposed brain waves can screw things up so royally and get paid for it. You’ve got better things to wonder about, like how global warming is different from global climate change and how either will affect your barbecue plans.

Common Problems in All Bureaucracies

The Peter Principle. People will be promoted in an organization to their level of incompetence and stay there. This is a phenomenon observed by a man named Laurence Peter, so it doesn’t only apply to managers named Peter. In bureaucracies, people who do a good job are rewarded by being promoted. Well, usually people get promoted one too many times to a job they’re not suited for, so they’re not getting promoted again. But they’ve been good employees, so no one want to demote them. So there they stay, being stupid-heads in charge of your area.

Duh, huh. My name's not Peter. I just got promoted from the mail room. Now I'm in charge of Human Resources. Duh, huh. What's a human resource?

Duh, huh. My name’s not Peter. I just got promoted from the mail room. Now I’m in charge of Human Resources. Duh, huh. What’s a human resource?

Parkinson’s Law. I’m not talking about jittery people working at high stress jobs, although there are plenty of those. This idea was posited by Cyril Northcote Parkinson. It’s basically the idea that work expands to fill the time made available for it’s completion. Deadlines. That’s what I’m talking about. Set a deadline for two weeks and everyone needs two weeks to get it done. Move the deadline out another week. Whew! Everyone needed that extra week. Push it up a week. Poof! Somehow the work got completed. It’s like that mysterious foamy insulation stuff you see on HGTV home renovation shows. Magic.

It's alive!

It’s alive!

Putt’s Law. Archibald Putt came up with this law, which describes two types of people in bureaucracies: those who understand what they don’t manage and those who don’t understand what they do manage. Why in the world would any organization would want incompetent people managing competent people? Simple! Power, Baby. People at the top want to stay at the top, so they don’t want any power-grabbing from their middle managers. The Big Cheeses spend a lot of time figuring out how to keep the people who know their shizzle in their place. It’s brilliant, really. Put people who don’t know anything in charge of people who know everything. But because they are managers, the people who don’t know anything think they know everything and the poor grunts at the bottom of the totem pole think they must not know anything because they never get promoted. Neither group is going to threaten the status of the Big Cheese. Forget going to business school, get a degree in psychology…or better yet–sociology (my discipline)!

Paradoxical Red Tape. You know the drill. If you don’t have the proper form filled out perfectly with the proper signatures in all the proper places, you might as well go home and cut your toe nails, wait for them to grow, and cut them some more. Bureaucracies are designed for the routine cases, not for special cases. If you fill out the paperwork properly, chances are things will go your way. But if you have any special circumstances, the whole “B” machine comes to a mind-numbing, grinding halt. You’ll find yourself wrapped up in more red tape than a holiday package decorated by a OCD crafter from the Midwest.

Could someone put a finger on the bow for me?

Could someone put a finger on the bow for me?

Next time (which is probably right…about…now) you’ll have a run-in with a bureaucracy, just know that:

1. You are not alone. Just shy of 7,000,000,000 people are with you. (The world’s population minus a few million to account for people on desert islands, remote regions we haven’t wreaked yet, and the voluntarily permanent campers).

Not technically large enough to form a bureaucracy, but there was definitely a pecking order...

Not technically large enough to form a bureaucracy, but there was definitely a pecking order…

2. You tend to forget the many times each day that bureaucracies are humming along smoothly and making your day run well. We tend to notice them only when we have trouble with them–kind of like our neighbors.

3. With the good comes the not-so-good. Your mail gets delivered to you most days just fine. You go to the post office one day just to buy some stamps and have to wait in a line and wonder if some new iPhone just came out and the US Postal Service is now the only place people can get it. It happens (as in shizzle happens).

I knew I should have gone to the bathroom before I came here...

I knew I should have gone to the bathroom before I came here…

4. Given your new-found knowledge of all these pee P laws and principles, if you run into frustrations with your bureaucracy du jour, test yourself to see if you can figure out which problems they are.

I’ll make sociologists out of you yet!
I may be a retired college professor of sociology, but I’m not dead yet!

Interested in culture and how the society we live in influences the people in that society? Well, then...sociology is the discipline for you!

Interested in culture and how the society we live in influences the people in that society? Well, then…sociology is the discipline for you!

Just for giggles, do you have any stories about run-ins with bureaucracies you’d like to share?

I Coulda’ Been a Contender…Which Means I Wasn’t

•July 18, 2014 • 17 Comments

 

I dunno what went wrong. I thought I had a pertty good idea of what women like when it comes to accessories. I'm tellin' ya, dis is messin' with my head...

I dunno what went wrong. I thought I had a pertty good idea of what women like when it comes to accessories. I’m tellin’ ya, dis is messin’ with my head…

The rotten thing about having high hopes is when you see your high hopes plummet to the ground and go splat!

That’s what happened this past weekend to me. I dared to dream the dream.

Well, a dream…

Silly me. I should know better. It’s me I’m dealing with here.

Opportunity knocks and I'm usually unable to answer the door.

Opportunity knocks and I’m usually unavailable to answer the door.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time, talents and money on sewing handmade items for a local Artists’ Market. It’s the one event I do to show off my needle-and-thread magician skills to the public and hopefully sell some stuff to fund my other hobby–writing books that don’t sell well.

Remember this?

Remember this?

Since the Artists’ Market is part of a weekend-long hoopla in my little city that brings in locals and tourists to the usually sleepy downtown area, I thought it was worth the $50.00 fee to rent a space and spend countless hours to make a cornucopia of colorful, fashionable, yet practical, items for all the people who would surely be looking for a unique gift for themselves or others.

Just to give you an idea of what I've been doing while not finishing up my novel...

These look like nicely made bags, don’t they? One of a kind. Original designs. What’s not to love?

Wrong.

If I value my time at even $1.00 an hour (no, I don’t live in Haiti) and figure in the cost of the materials I used, I figure I lost about several hundred dollars last Saturday. I’m such a great business person. Maybe I should write a book….I’ll call it The Idiot’s Guide to Going Bankrupt. No. Wait. That’s one not-so-self-helpful book most people don’t need. It probably wouldn’t sell well.

Sure I sold a few things.

My older sister, Tina, came to sit with me for a few hours. She ended up being my best customer. Sister love. You can’t beat it.

These are my sling bags. No two are alike and even each side is different. I only sold one. My sister bought two of the larger "Carpet Bags" made from tapestry material.

These are my sling bags. No two are alike and even each side is different. I only sold one. My sister bought two of the larger “Carpet Bags” made from tapestry material.

She also bought two of the long infinity scarves. I gave her one of the shorter scarves just for buying so much!

She also bought two of the long infinity scarves. I sold two other long scarves to another person. I gave my sister one of the shorter scarves just for buying so much!

Most people who wandered by told me my work was beautiful and just went on their way. Two promised to return but never did.

But there weren’t that many people who came around. Or as they say in the Biz, “Traffic was light.” And I was closest to the building with the bathrooms, so I should know.

I’ve been trying to figure out what went wrong.

1. It was a gorgeous day, so weather didn’t keep people away.

2. There weren’t very many vendors. Maybe ten. I was the only fabric artist except for the person who made two-headed stuffed dragons. I wonder how well she did?

These sold pretty well. In this weak economy. Go figure.

These sold pretty well. In this weak economy. Go figure.

3. The live music and junk food vendors were several blocks away from us starving-for customer artists. I think that’s where most of the people were.

4. People seemed to be looking for free or really cheap things. Maybe they thought it was a Flea Market, not an Artists’ Market.

This was taken at the beginning of the day when my hopes were still high. Do I look like a flea?

This was taken at the beginning of the day when my hopes were still high. Do I look like a flea or an artist?

I think I’m going to skip next year’s Artists’ Market. Or maybe I’ll go and see how the lady with the two-headed dragons is doing…

How about you?
What’s your experience with Art and Craft Fairs? Either as a buyer or a potential customer?

And you thought you had a bad day…

•July 11, 2014 • 21 Comments

I feel best when I know for sure that I am  am fairly confident that I will  have no idea, but try my gosh-darnedest to make other people feel good.

At least for a little while.

So, today, I went digging for some zany, but true, things that were in the news.

You may have missed them because, well, major news outlets like to focus on horrific, but true, things people do.

I’d rather not. I figure you come here to get away from all that awful shizzle. Am I right?

Are you ready?

You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Expert. Pamplona, Spain. July 9. The co-author of the book entitled, “Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona” was gored by one of those randy bulls. He tripped and was poked in the thigh by the bull. I’m guessing “Don’t trip.” was like his first chapter.

As a self-respecting bull, I tend not to go for authors. They're such easy pickings. But this guy was just asking for it.

As a self-respecting bull, I tend not to go for authors. They’re such easy pickings. But this guy was just asking for it.

Man Asks Dog to be his Designated Driver. Oconee County, Florida, July 7. A Georgia man was drunk when explaining to an officer why his dog was sitting in a hot car while he was in the store buying corn (probably to eat and not to make moonshine, but you never know). He said he had been drinking and his dog drove him to the store. He was just trying to do the responsible thing. So was the officer who arrested him for DUI and animal cruelty.

Need a lift when you've had a few too many? Call Hot Diggity Dog Transportation. Our noses are better than our eyes, but we'll get you there one way or the other.

Need a lift when you’ve had a few too many? Call Hot Diggity Dog Transportation. Our noses are better than our eyes, but we’ll get you there one way or the other.

New UFO Pad Now Open for Business. Hawaii. Here’s about the only reason I wouldn’t want to live in Hawaii. My tax dollars just went to build an 80-foot landing pad specifically designed for UFOs. The idea is that if you build it, they will come. My question: what makes this round landing pad so appealing to alien ships? I think we should all go to Hawaii and check this out, don’t you?

Oh, why not? You know I've always wanted to go to Hawaii...

Oh, why not? You know I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii…

Man Makes “Personal” Deposits in Bank Lobby, Smell of Money Disappears. Andover, England. July 1. A bank is where business is conducted. A man had some serious “business” to do. He walked into the bank dressed in shorts, squatted and proceeded to leave four, count ‘em, four piles of poop on the lobby floor. Having completed his business (apparently he needed to make a few hefty deposits), he left the bank.

Perhaps banks need a few of these signs posted...just in case unusual deposits from unsatisfied customers becomes a trend.

Perhaps banks need a few of these signs posted…just in case unusual deposits from unsatisfied customers become a trend.

Woman Shot During a Demonstration About How to Use a Concealed Weapon. Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. June 30. A man who owns a weapons store called “In Case of Emergency” shot his potential customer in the thigh while showing her how to safely holster a concealed semiautomatic .380. He must rely mostly on new business and not so much on repeat customers, who have a hard time going to his shop, what with the physical and emotional scars from his demos.

Let me show her how to use it.  No! Let me! BANG! Uh. It was loaded?

Let me show her how to use it.
No! Let me!
BANG!
Uh. It was loaded?

Woman Rethinks Aversion to Use of Pesticides. Hutchinson, Kansas. June 27. Little Miss Muffet wasn’t thrilled with the spider she saw in her house. Rather than doing a capture and release like I would’ve done or use a can of “Spider B’Gone,” she opted for a more permanent solution: burn the thing. By “thing” I mean her whole house. She got rid of the spider…and everything else she owned. She also got arrested for arson.

Bring it on, Spiderman!

Bring it on, Spiderman!

Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communication Can’t Spell. Evanston, Illinois. Ha! I don’t feel so bad now when I make a tyop. Oops! I did it again. Northwestern issued diplomas with the “n” missing from “Integrated” in the school’s title. You’d think of any school, they would have like a ton of proof-readers.

A good educashun is a terrible thing to waist.

A good educashun is a terrible thing to waist.

Would-be Car-Jackers Foiled by Being Spoiled. Seattle, Washington. Three young hooligans tried to boost an old lady’s Kia, but couldn’t get the darned thing to move. They only knew how to drive cars with automatic transmissions. This car had a stick shift and clutch. After trying several times and stalling the car out (while the woman was dialing 911), they decided running on two legs was their only option. In the good old days, we had to learn to drive a standard transmission, right, Baby Boomers? These young-uns today and their automatic everything…

Drive no stick shift.

Drive no stick shift.

If you feel a little better about any gaffes you may have made today, then my work here is done.

Until next time…keep smiling! People will wonder what you’ve been up to.

(All images nabbed from Google Images.)

 

This is NOT a Case of Getting What You Pay For

•July 1, 2014 • 22 Comments

I know if something is offered to me for free, I get suspicious.

Free to a good home. Interior in great shape.

Free to a good home. Interior in great shape.

You get what you pay for, right?

I suppose in some  many  most cases, that’s true.

But not in this case.

In this case, you’d be as crazy as dog trying to catch a bug not to take this offer AND tell everyone you know about it.

In this case, you’re getting a real bargain, and who doesn’t love a bargain?

shopping dog

Starting today and ending on July 5 (Saturday), you can CLICK HERE to download a FREE COPY of the second edition of my memoir, How Was I Supposed to Know? 

(You’ll need a Kindle App for your device if you don’t have a Kindle.)

Here is the new look for the second edition. I hope you like it!

Here is the new look for the second edition. I hope you like it!

Giving away free copies of your book is supposed to boost sales. I’ve read that. So far, I haven’t seen that happen.

Maybe you could help me out?

1. Down load the book if you haven’t already, read it and give it a review.

2. If you have a Face Book, Twitter, or any other of the zillion-and counting social media sites, tell your kindred virtual pals about my memoir. Golly, it’s free for the next five days. They should love you for it.

3. If you know of a book club, recommend my memoir. Surely a book about living through challenges that all of us face and dealing with them with both grace and humor should appeal to someone out there…

4. If you know an agent or Hollywood producer, I’m willing to talk.

How much are you willing to pay me for staring in my own life story?

How much are you willing to pay me for staring in my own life story?

I’m just curious. Why do you think free give-aways work to boost sales of a book? What else should I be doing to get this book circulating and selling?

It’s About Time…No It’s Not. It’s About Me.

•June 26, 2014 • 37 Comments
Helloooo. Is anyone there? Hellooo?

Helloooo. Is anyone there? Hellooo?

Is anyone out there still reading my blog?

Whew.

Thanks, my one loyal reader. I owe you.

Thanks, my one loyal reader. I owe you.

 

I was kind of afraid. They say absence makes the blogger grow fonder of other bloggers.

There are some very good reasons I’ve been on the quiet side around here.

1. Rewriting a novel is harder work than writing the blasted thing.

2. Dag-blammed Netflix. “Upstairs, Downstairs” had five seasons of 13 episodes each and they were all really good.

The sexual tension was flipping palpable.

The sexual tension was flipping palpable.

3. I’ve been sewing up a storm to make crafty bags/totes for an Artists’ Fair coming up in mid-July. My Bernina was smoking hot, but she survived and so did I. I’ve got lots of neat things to sell–all designed and made by me!

4. Lists are time-consuming to think of.

Well, anyway, It’s about time I showed my face around here and that’s what this blog is about.

I just want to catch you up on some news and then I’ll get back to my regular zany blogifying.

My braces are off!

This would be way more exciting news if I was using braces to support my legs or my back or my neck or something mondo important, but the braces were on my teeth.

Still, they were a pain and now they are gone. I have a pretty smile again. See for yourself.

My smile before braces.

My smile before braces.

My smile after braces.

My smile after braces.

 

Two of my blogger buddies are running promotions of their awesome books!

Check out these two bloggers, both accomplished authors and bloggers. They are each running limited-time, amazing offers on their most recently published books. Don’t miss out on these opportunities for some great summer reading FOR FREE!

Christoph Fischer

Christine Keleny

My absolutely favorite blogger is running a FREE promotion
of her totally awesome memoir!

Yup, from July 1st to July 5th (5, count ‘em, 5 days), How Was I Supposed to Know? The Adventures of a Girl Whose Name Means Lost (2nd ed.) will be available for free (e-version only) on Amazon.com. If you missed the first promotion several months ago, now is your chance to nab a free copy or tell a friend about a funny yet poignant read for their summer reading list. Just PLEASE write a review and post it on Amazon if you download this book. It really helps prospective readers and it helps me, too.

If you don't do it for my mom, do it for me. It costs money to keep me in the style to which I'm accustomed.

If you don’t do it for my mom, do it for me. It costs money to keep me in the style to which I’m accustomed.

Here is an excerpt telling you what is different about the second (revised) edition:

This memoir is freakishly similar to my life.

Wait. That’s both obvious and not exactly what I meant. I should have said that the journey this memoir has been on since it was first published is freakishly similar to my life story. Are you confused yet? Right. I am, too.

I should have known to expect the unexpected. In the short time since this book was originally released, both it and I have had many adventures, revelations and is-this-really-happening? moments. So many, in fact, that I felt the need to release a second edition. The book, being the agreeable sort, said, “Sure, why not?”

The second edition doesn’t add to my life story. Maybe if I’d been hit by lightning a third time, I would have included the details. But I tend to stay inside during stormy weather. No, I might write a sequel someday if and when someone Up There decides I haven’t had enough excitement for one life time.

So what compelled me to produce a second edition—a new and hopefully improved version of my memoir? Why couldn’t I leave my first book alone?

It’s in my nature to never leave “good enough” alone. Plus I made a promise that I had to keep. Let me explain.

First the promise. Being a novice in the book writing and releasing business, I published my memoir without getting authors and other “authorities” to give it encouraging “thumbs-up” reviews. Being a seasoned reader of books and reviews, you would think I would have known better. Obviously you overestimate my common and business sense. Positive reviews by people “in the know” inspire people to take a chance on an unknown author, right? Despite having no reviews except those of my family and friends when I published, my memoir was actually read by a lot of people (that’s as accurate a figure I have, not being a “numbers” person) who gave me and my book excellent marks. This new edition shares many of the A+ grades I got on my work.

Speaking of A+ grades, this memoir won a literary award. I couldn’t let that accomplishment slip by unnoticed. You will see a medallion on the new cover that you didn’t see on the former cover. This is proof that people “in the know” stuck their thumb up my book! No, wait. That didn’t sound right. My memoir or I (or both of us) got a big “thumbs up!” That sounds better.

Another change from the original version of the memoir is that it’s sleeker. On the advice of a well-respected author and creative writing professor who reviewed the book, I deleted a chapter and merged two others. Some redundant material is now gone. Unlike the actual trajectory of my life, the story of my life is now less cluttered and catawampus.

While it’s hard to please everyone always, I’m a girl who has lived her life trying to do just that. I received feedback about two elements of the book that some people loved and others didn’t appreciate so much: the many lists and using capitalization to emphasize the importance of certain people, situations, or feelings. In an effort to compromise, I reduced the number of lists and decapitated some letters.

Other than adjusting a few words or sentences here and there to improve the flow of passages and correcting seemingly ever-present gaffs no matter how many edits, I left the narrative alone.

You will notice major changes to the front and back covers. I learned some things along the way about cover design and writing pithy blurbs—although you wouldn’t know it from this section.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this book. The best memoirs are, in my opinion, not about the author, but about the reader. That is the book I aspired to write and the book you are, hopefully, about to read.

Look for more posts and comments from me. I’m back, Baby!

 
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