Monday, June 16, 2008

Same old same old

Well, I survived the return to the cubicle. Gone for three weeks, and it looks like the only living thing that actually noticed I wasn't around was my spider plant -- it had a desperate, please-water-me-right-now expression on its leaves. The e-mail in box had a zillion messages built up in it, most of them exhorting me to attend various presentations and workshops happening around the Large Nameless Agency campuses. The fitness folks are sponsoring a field trip to Kroger in an effort to get people to learn to eat healthier/shop smarter, an endeavor I don't question, but did they really need to send out eight notices (one every other day) trying to suck people into participating? Ditto the multiple reminders about completing security awareness training (bottom line: be afraid, be very afraid). And the new art exhibit in the visitor center. And several new van pools. After hitting Delete numerous times I found myself remembering something I'd heard at a training (Harnessing the Power of Outlook) back in April: the trainer said that sometimes the easiest way to deal with e-mail that's built up while a person has been away from the computer for a few days is to simply delete it all. Good advice for the future, although I may be a tad too neurotic to just jettison everything without first checking subject lines and/or senders.

There was work waiting for me, of course. Two projects. I'd been warned they would be there before I left town. One is a straight forward editing job, but the other is a little trickier: the task is to take a 58-page report that's written in ordinary language by an outside consultant, someone who had never been shown the secret handshake and so wasn't privy to LNA's own special language, and make it look "more governmental." In other words, purge the plain English and insert bureaucratese. Or at least salt it with sufficient favorite LNA buzz words and acronyms to make it look like it actually came out of our shop. It's a perverse assignment. On a very basic level it feels like I'm being asked to do the exact opposite of what a good editor should do.

Of course, if making it more bureaucratic and jargon-ridden lends it more authority so the target audience takes the content seriously the assignment makes perfect sense. But it'll still feel weird.

I am still getting used to being back in Atlanta, too. The S.O. is spending most of the summer up north working on the retirement bunker so I'm now car-less and having to make various lifestyle adjustments. I have toyed with the idea of getting a scooter, but that's not going to happen. So it's Farewell, Kroger; Hola! El Progresso Carniceria y Tienda. The nearest Kroger is a mile away; El Progresso is one block. Of course, El Progresso had an edge to begin with. They sell LaLa manzana yogurt; Kroger doesn't.

Took MARTA home from the airport -- my first experience with mass transit here in Hotlanta. When I prepared to move here, I kind of assumed I'd end up taking MARTA a lot, but then got lucky and wound up with a commute than can be done on foot. The S.O. and I kept talking about using MARTA to get downtown to museums or the Aquarium, but never quite got around to it. (I have a hunch the only time I'll see any of that stuff will be the rare occasions when we have out of town visitors.) The AJC coincidentally had a piece today, A Newcomer's Guide to MARTA, that was kind of fun to read after I'd already gone through the experience of being a newbie, especially some of the "OMG poor people ride the bus" comments. If my experience was typical, I don't know why so many people bitch about the system. Didn't strike me as any worse than any other large urban area's attempts at mass transit, and is a whole lot better than some.

Among other things, MARTA actually has real live humans at the airport to provide help when it comes to stuff like buying a Breeze card, how to get from the airport to various locations in the city, and so on. There were actual people working at the stop I got off at, too. It's got the DC Metro system beat right there. The cars were reasonably clean, the crowd riding the train the usual urban mix for a Saturday afternoon -- some families out with the kids, working folks heading to or from their jobs, a few baffled and nervous looking tourists -- and the air conditioning worked. Same story for the bus I transferred to for the last mile home.

I heard a lot of the same reservations expressed about mass transit in Omaha, Seattle, and Washington, DC, that I've heard and read here in Atlanta: "You don't want to take the bus. Think about the 'type' of people who take the bus." Which is middle class white speak for "Be careful. Being around poor people or minorities will give you cooties." I can understand a certain amount of healthy urban paranoia, but the fear of sitting next to someone who may or may not be poor is just really, really pathetic.


  1. uh oh...back to the rat race...think of the good you'll be doing by walking or taking the marta,or what ever it's'll be gettin green points..
    don't know what the temp is in hotlanta, but in west, by goddess,'s 98 degrees, heat index, 101...ahh, texas..gotta love it.

  2. I think it's great that you're using MARTA! I wish I could! I'd love to ditch my car and all those associated costs.

    Welcome home, BTW, and wiping out all the inbox sounds like a brilliant idea to me! In fact, I just heard it recommended by an experty guy on NPR yesterday. An email expert! What's next?

  3. I went to a conference in Atlanta last fall, and was quite impressed with how easy it was to take the train from the airport. And the airport was really easy, too. Just really really BIG!


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