Sunday, September 14, 2008

Prometheus Whinced (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3

Owning the Streets

(First Chapt. is here. Previous is here.)

How could this have happened?

One moment I am a respected analyst at LG Petroleum, Floor 25, the next I am out here on street level, with desk contents in a box and not a credit to my wallet. How could this have happened?

Gloatson flashes back through the day's events. The early morning encounter with Jack. The telephone brawl with Yakov. Hitting the "submit" button on his quarterly analyst's report. He knew the numbers were not good. But truth is truth. What did he do that was so wrong? Jack was displeased. Then the call came from HR. We need to talk. Now here he stands. Box in hand. Outside the tall granite building. No job. No way to even get home. Behind him, through the glass panels, the security guards are seen swaggering their way back to the elevator banks now that they have escorted yet another uppity to his new after life, the one beyond LG Petroleum.

"Just got hit between the eyes with the big one, aye buddy?" Gloatson stares blindly forward. A street prole is talking at him. "Wha?" That's all that his keen analyst's mind can muster. "All I was saying is that you look like like you just got canned, or desked-out-in-a-box, if you get my drift," the prole continues with a slight grin.

Gloatson looks the man from boots to brim. Muddied shoes. Torn workman's jeans. A ragged overcoat with hood. Topped by a trucker's cap. "Sorry. What'd you say?"

"Look, don't take it wrong bud. I've stood where you stand. Know what's it's like. I feel for you man. You're stunned. One minute up there," he tilts toward the penthouse floors, "and now down here with us street folk. You didn't expectorate it. Don't let it crush you is all I'm saying. Life goes on." The shadowy stranger glides off and around the corner. Gloatson has not yet moved from his entranced street spot. Speechless.

He replays it all through his head again. The first loop was too hard to handle. Desked-out-in-a-box. Yes. That's the current situation. His total worth is packed tight into the banker's box between his clenched fists. What will his wife say? Never mind that. What now? How to get home without even the company transport pass in his pocket? He never expected this. Not today. Not this way.

... to be continued (a work in progress ... or possibly in digress)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Prometheus Whinced (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2

Name Calling

(First Chapt. is here. Previous is here.)

"Gloatson! Have the report to me by day's end."

This is not good, he thinks. Usually we are on first name basis. John and Jack. Today he greets me by surname. Means I'm in trouble. Gloatson nods and backs off in genuflection from his boss. Oh, the ignobility, he thinks. To be hit like this as I enter the office. No wonder my face is turned red like an iron on coals.

Gloatson continues his retreat, snaking his way quietly around the outer walls of the office towards the sanctuary of his cubicle. He hopes no one spots him or his ironed red face. Good. Here it is. Gloatson's Gulch. This is my cave of tranquility. My perch of productivity. The eagle has landed. In here I can lick my wounds and regain my senses.

He slips in through the cubicle's entrance and drops himself like a dejected mass into the embracing center of an imitation leather executive's chair. The burgundy throne serves as the center piece of his efficiently compact cubicle. On the glass of his computer monitor he spots his face reflecting back at himself with its iron red embarrassment fading back toward normalcy. Behind the vision of himself looking at himself, he spots the tufts of cheap foam popping out from between the splitting seams of his chair's backside.

Never mind the illusionary signs of decay, he thinks. All is well. This fine executive chair is plush furniture befitting an "analyst" of my stature. He reaches out and prods the power button on his office computer. Its innards begin whirring to life. Gloatson crosses his arms to comfort himself, stroking each arm pit with the other's hand as he waits impatiently for the machine to boot up and open the tunnel into his virtual alter life. Who is John Gloatson and how did he get to this place? That is the question.

It was not long ago that he bothered not with the question. Life was moving along well enough. Everything made perfect sense. I am an analyst. I am an indispensable part of LG Petroleum. Sure, some make mock of the company's name, calling it Last Gasp Petroleum. That's not who we are. We are Logistic Geometrics Petroleum. We excel at pin pointing and analyzing opportunities that others miss. We find the sweet spots. This is what productivity is all about. And I, as an analyst, am at the center of the enterprise; an indispensable cog in a grander machine.

His calendar pops up on the computer's screen. Today's to-do list. Finish the quarterly production report. Yes of course this is what the entrance counter with Jack was all about. But now the details. What's missing? Ah yes. There it is. We haven't gotten the final numbers in from the Tajikistan operations. I'll have to call and prod them.

The trouble with Tajikistan is that those jokers are on the wrong side of the planet. If he calls now, maybe he'll get the evening shift engineer.

"Yakov, it's Gloatson here, you know, at LGP headquarters.
Chatter comes back from the other end.
"Why no, no financial crisises here at HQ. I just need your final production numbers for end of last month and I need you to make them good numbers."
More chatter at the other end.
"No. I understand you can't create production out of thin air. But you know how it goes. You can borrow some of next month's production and reflect it back into the previous month's numbers. That's sound practice any place you go now adays."
Screaming coming from the other end. Oh yeah, I'd forgotten, Gloatson thinks. We already borrowed last quarter from this one and that's why we're so far behind.

Gloatson hangs up and leans back into his chair. Unconsciously he sucks an upper lip's flap into his mouth and bites on it. Not good. This stinks. Jack wants good numbers. These numbers stink. Who's going to take the fall for this? It's not fair. I'm just an analyst. It's not my fault.

... to be continued (a work in progress ... or possibly in digress)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Prometheus Whinced (apologies to Ayn Rand)

Chapter 1

The Awakening

Dream busting bites of sound cackle from the digital clock radio. "Breaking news for those of you just joining us ..."

One eye wills itself open, not sure joining is a good idea. Six naught zero AM on the bedside table. Oh please let it not be Monday.

Reality strikes alongside with an arm stroking out to smack down the snooze button. Monday morning it is. Another dawn of dragging one's zom-body out of bed and off to work. One leg is numbingly negotiating its way out from under the covers. Now if only the lame other will obediently follow. It refuses. Maybe morning's ritual can be postponed for a just few more minutes of bliss giving sleep? He lays there, half in, half out of bed. Bargaining with himself.

The alarm flares up again. "The markets will open shortly ..." No use. Snooze and shut off. Inevitability arrives on its own terms. No more bargaining. No more hand-offs of responsibility to the clock radio contraption. He concedes to reality and swings fully out from the covers, all the while sensing the strong urge for caffeine welling up within. Last night's dream is already fading from remembrance. What was it again? Something about a vague foreboding. Oh never mind.

In the kitchen, the gas gasps and flutters under the cold stove plate before hissing out through the tiny burner holes. An electric sparker clicks erratically somewhere under and finally ignites into a multitude of blue glowing flames. A welcoming blanket of warm radiance rises to his face as the dancing flames cascade upwardly from under the water kettle. Thank goodness it's working today. He dreads those days when one must resort to primitive resourcefulness. Being left bare in the cold and without hot coffee. Just imagine. He shudders.

He hears her stirring about in the bedroom. Brushing her hair. She will be dressed, ready and out for work well before the java rejuvenates his tortoise-paced arthritic body. Such are the advantages of youth. He stares into the flickering blue flames while flip flopping between two minds on what next to do. Go out and fetch the morning paper from the terrace or wait for the water to boil?

Too late. The kettle's shrill whistle interrupts his internalized ping pong game. She leans into view and plants a wet kiss on his cheek. "I'm picking up my Grande Mocha at the Bucks. See you tonight." As expected, she is dressed and out the door well before he has even decided which shoes to wear. It will be a lonely cold walk to the Island today. Where did the time fly on to?

We are truly blessed, he thinks to himself while stepping out into the cold morning fog with hands tucked in his long banker's overcoat. The car pool island is just under a mile away. Our son is enrolled in Government Liberty School. We still both have jobs. It's not like being one of those poor saps who must volunteer to serve in the war. Nonetheless, I miss the days when I had a car and my own at-home net connection. Too expensive these days.

Approaching the finance connection island, he continues to muse to himself. Thank goodness I stuck with my studies and became a certified analyst. The financial circle has its privileges. We can use credit cards to pay our fair fuel fare. Not like those poor jackals over there at the day labor island. He looks across the boulevard. They have to grub for cash every morning. We get those plush commute buses or at least the inside of a spacious SUV while they jostle with each other to squeeze into the open back of a pickup. Finance has its privileges.

"Pleaz, zombody, can you spare von credit? I needz da job today." It's one of the proles begging across the way at the day labor island. Seems he doesn't have enough to get in on a ride. Why should I be the one even to worry about helping? There are plenty of others. His own kind. Besides, those proles will just as likely shank you in the dark as thank you in the morning. Oh good. Our bus is here. He quickly swivels away to focus on his step up into the warm stairwell of the large dark bus.

Seated with head leaning against the blackened bus window he half closes his eyes as the diesel bellowing machine races past the stink and squalor of the day labor slums. Board member Ben is right. From each according to his productivity, to each according to his value. What could be fairer? People are not born equal. Some are just by nature more productive than others. And for that, they deserve the greater value that they contribute to society. Simple as that. It was so delusional to believe that all men might be created equal. Look at those proles out there. What do they contribute? They are nothing but parasites feeding off the productivity of others. I, on the other hand, am a certified analyst, a specialist among specialists.

The brass noise from morning rush hour in the city intrudes into his thoughts. He realizes he dozed off again. The bus brakes screech in protest as the behemoth machine pulls into the company garage. This is his stop. Time to face the music.

next chapt.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ma Felled Ammericans, Happy Trails and Sputnik Ways to Ya'all

On the radio the other day, John Kao the author of a book called "Innovation Nation (How America is Losing It)" was discussing the downfall of America in technology and innovation.

What better way to appreciate how the USA has fallen than to celebrate the 50th anniversary of
the launch of Sputnik
(Oct. 4, 1957) with a review of how America has become the anti-science nation?

Just mosie on down to yer' ole' shopping mall in search of the science kits for kids shop

It ain't there.

Nikita Khrushchev was half wrong and half right. They didn't "bury" us. We did it all on our own. We buried ourselves. We're so deep under we don't know it anymore. We know Britney Spears instead.

Maybe the headlines should have read: "Britney Loses Her Kids and America Loses Its Kids"? But it didn't. The focus was entirely on Britney. Nikita Krushchev would have been proud.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"NEVER too late"

The homo sapie-brained leader of the Western Lemming digs extolls his followers to continue their relentless march over the cliff. Stay the course.

"It is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win," he cheerfully explained to his yes can-do admirers. "It is never too late to advance freedom."

Of course the absolutism of "NEVER too late" will not help the troops pictured above. This is a fight they cannot win. They are gone forever from this reality-based plane of existence.

The optimistic delusionism of "NEVER too late" will not help the mothers of the troops pictured above. Those mothers raised "the troops" from little babies to strappingly fine grown men. They changed their diapers. They wiped the tears. They stayed awake through the feverish nights of youth's illness and they waited anxiously by the window for Johnny to come marching home from his first date out with the girl next door.

Then one day there came the cattle call from the cowboy leader for the grown and educated young men to serve the "noble cause". They gladly went. Hands over patriotic hearts. Eyes affixed on a waving flag of blood red stripes and saintly white aisles keeping them apart. "A uniter, not a divider," he said. A field of stars clung to flag's edge to navigate them towards their ultimate sacrifice. Yes it was a noble leap forward into fate's hand. Every young lemming feels the surge during the rush of a spring day's race toward greener pastures.

But for the homo-sapien mothers, it is too late. For the lifeless bodies of their dead young sons, it is too late.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Manly Flop Flipper

If you recall your history, the human to the right (a.k.a. G.W. Bush) presented himself to his nation as an epitome of decisive manhood; a mission accomplished kind of guy.

No "flip flopper" was he. No siree.

When he set himself on a course, he stuck to it whether it was a flop or a heck-of-a-job success.

Therefore, when it came to pass that one of his ventures was labeled a "flop", he did what any entrepreneurial reframer of the language would do. He "flipped" the flop. He relabeled it as a success-in-progress. It just needed a few of its benchmarks filled in a little better. Otherwise it was yet another mission accomplished. Heck of a job there Mr. Flop Flipper.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Planning Primate's Primer

Man prides himself as being the only critter on the planet who plans, who sees ahead into the future and formulates a clever strategy, who knows how to predict and prepare for that which will be obvious to all in hindsight, but clear to only a rare few in the prologue period.

A hat tip to Kurt Cobb for aiming the scope at the issue of the planning animal. Is it true that man is the only critter who formulates stories in his head about how the world works and then acts on the basis of his modeled fantasies? Don't all mammals plan ahead? Do they not build nests for their hatchlings, dens for their little lemms? Do they not burrow their way towards prosperity?

And if indeed Man is the most clever of all creatures, why can't he see the inevitable? Why does he not realize that the planet is finite? There is only so much of that thin film we call our atmosphere into which man can pump his CO2. There is only so much of that thin pizza crust below us in which man has a chance of finding his precious oil.