My Summer Vacation

Here’s one of those posts that just got away from me.

I was going to talk about how, during the last week in August, on the only vacation trip we took all summer, how the gas went from $2.579 to $2.699 to $2.999 to $3.209 in four days.

I was going to say how well Lydia got along with the daughters of a friend of Carol;’ who she hadn’t seen in about seven years; the daughters look like:

this, and

this, and

this.

But what has still struck me, over two months after the visit, is the bizarre juxtaposition of agrarian and suburban life in another leg of the trip. One of my brothers-in-law lives in Chester County, PA, which is right next to Lancaster County. Lots of new suburban developments for people commuting, necessarily by car (unless they telecommute), to Philadelphia, close to an hour away. Not at all condusive to mass transit, with all the attendant ecological considerations.

I was most fascinated by bikers in gear that Lance Armstrong would covet on the same roads that the young Amish kids on their black one-speeds rode on.

The very week we came back, there was an article in Metroland on the agriculture wars, which says, briefly, that the people who move into the country want it to sound like the suburbs (no tractors at 5 a.m.) and smell like the suburbs (no manure!), but that if they want to move out there, they need to recognize that it IS working farm territory.

In the brief time I was in Chester County, I did not see the clash of cultures that was portrayed in the Metroland article, but I wonder if it’s just a matter of time.

Brown Departing CNN; Cooper to Become Evening Block Anchor

I don’t know WHY this story from TV Week by Michele Greppi bothers me so. I didn’t watch Brown all that much. I was pretty much forced to see Gloria Vanderbilt’s son in his waders every time I turned on the TV during the worst of Katrina.

Anderson Cooper, one of the breakout stars of Hurricane Katrina coverage,
“Breakout star” of a national disaster! Ain’t life grand!
will become the sole anchor of the 10 p.m.-midnight (ET) weekday block on CNN, effective Monday, and Aaron Brown will leave the news network he joined in 2001.
“Leave the network”…does that mean fired or allowed to resign?

Mr. Cooper, like Mr. Brown an alumnus of ABC News, joined CNN as a weekend anchor in December 2001 and became anchor of “Anderson Cooper 360” from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays in March 2003.
“Does ABC News have any vacancies?” Aaron wonders. “If Vargas does anchor World News Tonight, maybe I can do 20/20!”

Taking the place of “360” at 7 p.m. will be an hour of “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, who now will anchor “Situation” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Goody! More Wolf to parody!

David Doss, the executive producer of “360” who recently was moved to “NewsNight” when CNN paired Mr. Brown and Mr. Cooper from 10 p.m. to midnight in a move designed to inject some of Mr. Cooper’s pizzazz into Mr. Brown’s more sober tone, will remain Mr. Cooper’s executive producer.
Pizazz! That’s what I live for in my news coverage.

CNN sources said Mr. Brown is expected to take time with his family before deciding on his next career move.
Which means he doesn’t know WHAT the heck he’s going to do now.

Hoffinator

In the job I have presently, I had a boss a few years back who was the WORST boss I’ve ever had, in any job, bar none. She was terrible because she engaged in obvious, and detrimental, favoritism. There were certain people that she liked and those people would get information, and others that she did not, and they did not. When we first got Internet connections, she allowed only one of her favored to have access. In an office of seven librarians, that was just plain stupid. And being her favorite wasn’t always a walk in the park, since she tended to be needy, in an incompetent sort of way, and her favorites had to repeatedly show her how to use the software we used over and over and over again.

One time, her predecessor wrote a scathing e-mail to one of the staff (not me), criticizing her. She felt (wrongly, I believe) that confidential information was given out and she wanted to know who the disloyal one was. She grilled me for an hour and a half, before concluding (perhaps) that I wasn’t the “guilty” party. (I knew perfectly well who had spoken with my former boss, but did not find the need to rat that person out, since I didn’t think that person had done anything wrong.)

So, when I got a new permanent boss in 1998, I was very wary. Mary SEEMED nice, but I was suspicious. I made a point of telling her, preemptively, things I disliked about my previous boss. I had taken one of those personality assessment tests a couple years earlier, and I gave her a copy of mine, highlighted to show her things that her predecessor had violated, and I shared stories too. Here’s one:

I was assigned the task of changing our intake form. I was given a week. On day four, she asked, “Is it done”” “No.” On day five, she asked, “Is it done?” “No.” On day six, she asked, “Is it done?” “Yes.” (I couldn’t bear to hear her ask again.) There was some person who was touring our offices, and she picked up the intake form and said, “Here’s the intake form I designed.” It was an intake form, but this nevertheless INFURIATED me. If she had said, “This is the intake form WE designed,” I would have had no problem.

So all of this anger and frustration I dumped on poor Mary, and she magnanimously listened to it all. In fact, she was so kind, it was almost certainly I who came up with her nickname, the Hoffinator, because she was so very unlike Ah-nold, very go with the flow. Our department was downsized less than six months on, from seven librarians and a secretary to four librarians, and she deftly recalculated the budget.

We moved to a different building, and she and I shared the WORST office I’ve ever been in. The shortest distance from the MIS (techies’) office to the state director’s office was THROUGH our office. So people were constantly saying, “Excuse me,” as they traversed through. How either of us got any work done, I’ll never know.

Since my desk sat in front of hers, I became a de facto screening agent for Mary. She’d often sit at her desk for lunch, but her phone would constantly ring. I would answer her phone and suggest that the person call back after lunch.

We played music, and she was the most accommodating of the other three librarians. The only things I couldn’t play in her presence were Willie Nelson and Neil Young. (Anne, one of my former colleagues, by contrast had a list of about 20 artists, starting with Bruce Springsteen, which could not be played within her earshot.)

By the time we moved upstairs, she was now the Associate State Director, appropriate since she had been doing many of those duties anyway. We now each have our own offices. So now, we make a point of having lunch regularly to keep in touch. We have these wide-ranging conversations about politics, music and life, that are exhilarating.

Happy birthday, Hoffinator. You turned to be all right.

Rock Meme-Kathryn Dawn Lang

Favorite artist of an ex.

Artist/Band: k.d. lang (b. 11/2/1961)
Are you male or female: Big Boned Gal
Describe yourself: I Want It All; Just Keep Me Moving
How do some people feel about you: Constant Craving
How do you feel about yourself: Lifted by Love
Describe what you want to be: Honky Tonk Angels’ Medley
Describe how you live: In Perfect Dreams; Once Again Around the Dance Floor
Describe how you love: Big Big Love
Share a few words of wisdom: Don’t Be a Lemming Polka; Tears Don’t Care Who Cries Them; So It Shall Be