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Friday, February 21, 2003

How many "pending" items do you think a person should have to keep track of at one time? We have so much going on here at Western Widget Works lately that I don't have enough flat surfaces for all the little piles of documents. I know from bitter experience that making one big pile just means that some things in it will be forever buried halfway down.

The more there is to do, the less chance there is of getting any of it done. Not all of it, but any of it. If whatever is on top of the pile isn't something that can be done in one sitting, it's not going to stay on top very long. Major projects get shunted aside for little one-page reports that will dry up and blow away out of their own irrelevance.

It depends on who's doing the prioritizing, of course. The Boss has a skewed vision of the possible. He believes deep down that he can manipulate time and space as well as he can manipulate people. If he has a wish that can't be fulfilled, it can't be that it simply can't be done. It has to be somebody's fault. Guess whose.

He also has little concept of the value of my time. I'm not talking about money here, although he and I might disagree about that, too. What I mean is that he gets an idea in his head and sends me off chasing wild geese, even while the cows and chickens are starving in the barnyard. Or something like that.

Lately he has it in his head that we're missing golden business opportunities because we're not licensed to do construction work in Arizona. So now we're researching all the ways around the licensing laws, and the tax laws, and the insurance laws, to find a method of maybe possibly doing some as yet nonexistent future project a thousand miles away from here.

Meanwhile, perfectly good jobs in California, the very state in which I'm sitting at this moment, a state where we are fully licensed in every way imaginable, are getting shoved to the bottom of the pile. I do believe this is a counterproductive use of my time, but he won't hear it. Every time he faxes me another question about this misguided pursuit, it gets the immediate attention that would better be paid to something that might produce revenue now, when the bank account is empty, instead of later, if there even is a later.

We've come to the core issue here, as far as my surly mood is concerned. We are cash poor at the moment. There's money out there, drifting our way ever so slowly. Once it gets off bureaucrat A's desk, we have to start the tracking process over until we find out who bureaucrat B is, whether this person received our paperwork, and whether the money that we've already spent is on its way to us or to bureaucrat C.

In Sacramento, I think they have the same kind of filing system, and if they owe you money you'd better make sure you stay on the top of their pile. Life in the construction business means that money flows out before it flows in, because we have to pay labor and material suppliers before we can do the job and bill for it. If the Boss didn't have deep pockets, we wouldn't be able to keep our head above the quicksand.

We had several months of relatively flush times, with enough money in the bank to pay all our bills and keep things rolling. That period has ended with a thud, and it's sapping a lot of time and energy. All I can do is keep doing my job, the best way I know how. I'm trying to keep the pile at a level where I can at least reach the top, because otherwise I'll never get to the bottom.


Sebastopol isn't on fire; that's just the sun going down.

It's discouraging to go to the post office every day actually expecting a check to be there, and to come away empty day after day. Even the check the Boss wrote Tuesday to cover the funds we thought we were getting from the state Monday (and then found out they won't be here until a week from Thursday) is still out there in limbo, somewhere between his Nevada office and here.

Even if it comes tomorrow, that's Saturday, and it won't get into the bank account until Monday. And I really do expect it to be in the post office box tomorrow. I really do. Just as much as I expected it today.

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I do plan to watch the Grammys Sunday night, even though I won't agree with most of the awards and won't recognize many of the winners. The New York Times ran an opinion piece recently about how my generation is the fastest growing group of music buyers, and why we like Norah Jones more than her contemporaries do (she's 23). Lyrics. Melody. A kind of earthy purity to her voice.

The article describes "adult" music as anything other than hip-hop. Then it turns ugly and says that only hip-hop matters, because it's the only genre "moving music forward." Adult music, it turns out, is boring, complacent and devoid of feeling. So what do I know? I hope Norah Jones cleans up at the Grammys. She's nominated for eight awards.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Too Late
"Instead of putting up guards and drawing for points, they hit takeout after takeout and are happy with open ends."

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