Decembervoid

Every dang year. I can already feel it happening. Here, in the first half of December I’m crushed with high priority work that needs to be done yesterday. Competing “priorities” both internal and client-oriented assail me from all sides. But you know what? The back nine is going to be really quiet.

I, like many of my coworkers, won’t be around much in the last bits of December. I take off starting Christmas Eve and don’t return to work until Monday after New Year’s Day. But you know who else vacations at the end of the year? Wraps up major initiatives and doesn’t want to start new ones until everybody’s back from their long winter’s naps? Clients, that’s who.

So while I’m only just wrapping up my day’s work tonight around 11:30 PM, my work stream looks to start drying up in about two weeks. Then I’ll be picking over the carcass of 2014’s billable hours trying to keep myself occupied until my own break.

Blind and also Mute

This is just adding to the pile, and probably to the noise. But I have to get it out of my head. I’m pretty upset about everything that’s happened in Ferguson, MO, over the past few months. I won’t mince words: a police officer murdered an unarmed teenager. That’s really all I have to say for you to figure out how I feel about it, I guess.

Then, last night, a grand jury that had been convened to decide whether this killer cop should face a trial, figured that wasn’t really necessary. The American Bar Association disagrees and wants federal charges. That maaaaaaay happen, but my growing cynacism doesn’t give me hope for a satisfactory resolution. For now, a group of 12 people have taken Justice’s blinfold and gagged her with it so she wouldn’t even have a chance to speak.

On Photography And Seething With Rage

This is one of the biggest myths with the law of taking photographs,” explains Bert Krages, a Portland, OR-based copyright attorney who has written books on photographers’ rights and techniques. “There is no general prohibition against photographing federal buildings. There are statutes that prohibit photographing areas of military and nuclear facilities. But there are no laws against photographing other federal facilities, other than the right of all property owners to restrict activities that take place on their property. A federal office building manager cannot restrict photography when the photographer is situated outside the federal property boundary.

from “The War on Photographers” found on PopPhoto.com (published July 19th, 2006)

On Sunday evening Jake and I went downtown to take some night photographs (as evidenced by my previous post) and had a little run-in with a Federal Reserve police officer. We were standing on a public sidewalk at the river-bank side of the footbridge to Brown’s Island, and I set down my tripod with my camera pointing up 7th street. Within a minute or so, a Federal Reserve police car came out of the gate, circled the fountain, and stopped with his lights on.

He stepped out of the car and asked us (politely) what we were doing. We indicated, essentially, that we were amateur photographers just taking pictures. My reminder that we were on public property was met by a stone wall, and we were told that we couldn’t take pictures that included the building. You know, the building that’s visible around the entire city of Richmond. Jake offered to show the officer what he’d already photographed, and I did the same. When Jake asked for a reason why we couldn’t take pictures, the officer (still polite) said, simply, “Ben Bernanke.” Wow.

I tried to calm Jake and myself down after leaving the scene because I thought there might be some justification in what the officer said. After all, the Richmond branch of the Fed is pretty important, and you never know whether the chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States might be on site. But this has been nagging at me since that night.

Now I feel feeble and ashamed at giving in so easily. Jake and I were basically intimidated into taking our cameras elsewhere. Our Constitutional rights were violated by an overeager security staff that didn’t understand the law. Part of me wants to go back there and take pictures directly of the building from the public sidewalk, just to make a point. Maybe I can even get pictures of the officer who comes out to politely harass and terrorize me.

And the other part of me doesn’t want to cause Valerie the trouble and risk losing/damaging our new camera. But the truth is that I’m sitting here in my cubicle wanting nothing more than to go to some place where I can scream in anger at the top of my lungs.

UPDATE:
It seems a Flickr user recently wrote to the Fed and received a vindicating response.

Corporate Neologizing

Few things drive me crazier than companies making up their own stupid buzzwords. Are they trying to come with catchy terms that they hope will provide free advertising as they theoretically worm their way into colloquial language? Regardless of intent, here is a short list of made-up words/phrases born out of ill-conceived advertising programs:

Fourth Meal
Threeconomics
Nougatocity (or any of Snickers’ terrible terms)
Comcastic
People Ready

You get the point. If you have any others you’ve seen/heard in any form of advertising, put it in the comments.

Farcebook

I made my inglorious return to Facebook several weeks ago because I got tired of calling up my mom to tell her stuff only to find she already knew because of her friend status with various people I know. So I’m back in the loop, at least for now. I still see the same thing as I did over a year ago – people friend each other, and once you’ve made your digital connections there’s little else to do but post status messages and use their mountains of useless apps.

But now it’s just a bigger and more tangled mess, and no more so than on the default view when you log in: the News Feed.

I feel that there’s very little rhyme or reason to this view. Here you have a jumble of status updates, comments, fan-mentions, sponsor surveys, app notices, friend notices, et cetera. Is it chronological? At first it may appear that way, but over the course of any given day I begin to notice certain items jumbling, disappearing, reappearing, moving further up or down the list, and who knows what else. It’s fairly often that I see something posted early in the week suddenly appear underneath a status message posted two hours ago even though there are more recent items below.

There. I’ve released a little bit of steam over this still-almost-entirely-a-waste-of-my-time website. Yeah yeah yeah, I’m still on Facebook. Maybe in another year I’ll look at it the way I look at my cell phone – just another “necessary” communication tool. But for now it feels like using cough syrup; you feel like it could be helpful, but it’s disgusting all the way down.

Pet Peeve: Σ Abuse

I dunno how many times I’ve seen the following on t-shirts, TV shows, or ANYWHERE, really:

GRΣΣK

And we’re all supposed to chuckle because we see letters which are clearly not capital “E” but still bear a passing resemblance. I guess it’s also supposed to reinforce the Greek-ness (Greekiness?) of something, too, whether a fraternity t-shirt or the title for My Big Fat Greek Feel-good Movie of the Year.

This twists the proverbial knickers because the letter in question isn’t pronounced like an “E,” it’s pronounced like an “S”. SIGMA is the Greek letter for “S”. EPSILON is the Greek letter for “E” (though not necessarily pronounced like our long “e”) but I guess “GREEK” just looks too, well…English.

With Whom There Is a Beef

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that some Boy Scouts took ill because of some E. coli-tainted ground beef from California.

So, really, do Virginians consume so much beef that they’re underserved by the state’s second largest agricultural industry? And of all places, why on earth did meat from the OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY find its way over here to the Atlantic Coastal Plain? This is yet another example of our broken national food chain.

Closer than it really is…

Michael Grunwald’s Time article about McCain spends most of its time discussing the long odds against the Arizona senator in the 2008 presidential election. His last paragraph really resonated with me, however:

That doesn’t mean that anything’s probable. The media will try to preserve the illusion of a toss-up; you’ll keep seeing “Obama Leads, But Voters Have Concerns” headlines. But when Democrats are winning blood-red congressional districts in Mississippi and Louisiana, when the Republican president is down to 28 percent, when the economy is tanking and world affairs keep breaking Obama’s way, it shouldn’t be heresy to recognize that McCain needs an improbable series of breaks. Analysts get paid to analyze, and cable news has airtime to fill, so pundits have an incentive to make politics seem complicated. In the end, though, it’s usually pretty simple. Everyone seems to agree that 2008 is a change election. Which of these guys looks like change?

This explains almost exactly (though not entirely) how I feel about the media’s approach to this election cycle. Could it really be a close race? Maybe. But if it wasn’t you’d hardly know. Remember when it was practically fact that Obama had knocked Clinton out of the primary race, but the media still clung to every last vote as if there was some chance Hillary would find a way?

I think Grunwald’s right – unless there’s some dramatic mistake or world event or who knows what else, this election looks pretty locked up for the junior senator from Illinois. But a done-deal doesn’t make for good ratings or page views or sales of those dreadfully partisan books (from both sides) you see in the center tables at Barnes and Noble during election season.
(via Gruber)