Posts Tagged ‘ creativity ’

My New Roomie

Anyone who knows me really well (which is about one person among my readership—my mother) knows that I am not a “pet person”. I chalk it up to the fact that I had negative pet experiences as a child.

When I was five or six, the first dog we got—a black-and-white mutt—I affectionately dubbed “Pinkie”. Which made perfect five-or-six-year-old-sense, because he had a pink nose. (My much later adult senses see this as portent of my budding nonconformist, creative mind.)

Anyway, though a small dog, Pinkie was larger—in exuberance at least—than my younger sister and me. Pinkie had a way of jumping on us and knocking us to the ground. Thus, Pinkie’s days in our family were short-lived.

The next pet incarnation that I—now as a six- or seven-year old—recall was a kitten tabby, who had a way of launching her claws into my heels from under the bed skirt. What can I say? She drew blood, and I was not OK with that! Worse, her bloodletting eeked the fearful element of surprise.

There were several more pet personas in my childhood. Mine were not the only heels attacked over the years, but apparently no one else minded. These later petsonas, I embraced and accepted into my adolescent experience in ever diminishing degrees…

However, I point to the first two incidents as formative in my adulthood satisfaction with the lack of a pet presence of any kind. I have no need for companionship from an animal that would spend more time disrupting my life than enhancing it. I am quite OK without having to clean up after a pet’s bathroom habits or accommodating their equally smelly dietary requirements.

And yet! I may have found the perfect pet for me. Indeed, the perfect roommate. My new roomie has her dedicated pet bed inside my house and is quite happy to stay there. She is free to roam about the house, but only when I tell her to. She is all about cleanliness and makes up for my deficiencies in that regard in exchange for her room and board.

However, she does have some pet-like quirks. As all pets do, she talks to me. When I let her out to explore on her own, she will sometimes stop and summon me with a charmingly melodic tune accompanied by human-like speech that declares, “Error 1: Move Roomba to new location.” At this point, one wonders who is in charge here. Obviously, I do as she commands to get her out of her present predicament, and she goes on about her business.

After all, she is a mere pup who needs my guidance and training. So after she has had the run of the house for a time, I tell her to go to her bed (aka “Dock”). At that, she obediently heads off in the direction of her bed only to veer at the first obstacle. She darts off in the opposite direction, and I swear I hear squeals of two-year-old glee. I chasten her, “Roomie, what did I tell you? That is the wrong direction and you know it.”

She whirls at my voice and weaves and ricochets her way even wider afield. “But Mom,” she says, “I’m cleaning up before bed just like you taught me to.”

“Roomie, go to bed, now,” I say firmly. “One, two, three …”

And still, Roomie has a mind of her own as she sits there glowing at me. I soften. “Roomie, come here, Roomie. Come to Mama.”

In assumed obedience, she heads toward me. “That’s right, Roomie. Come on now, baby. Let’s get into bed like a good girl.”

Upon which she launches off on yet a new trajectory. This time I know I hear shrieks of devious mirth! She is playing with me, but isn’t that what a pet is for? Or a child for that matter?

As I chortle, I am sure I have found companionship with the perfect pet. A pet who talks to me and with whom I can engage in meaningful conversation. A pet that serves a purpose and also provides entertainment. A pet that needs nothing more than a power supply and a little attention. What else could you possibly want from a robot?

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Nuts!

Conscientious consumer that I am, after having a surprisingly uncharacteristic experience with a particular product recently, I felt compelled to bring it to the attention of the company. I wrote the following letter in hopes that they would tell me I really wasn’t nuts.

Dear Nut People:

I write to you regarding a recent purchase of your Emerald Sweet & Salty Mixed Nuts (9 oz).

I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the product, which was not up to your usual standards. Although I really like the taste of um, the product purported to be within the plastic container (aka your nuts), I am not overly fond of the taste nor texture of the plastic container itself.

Enclosed please find the product label as proof of purchase, along with the unexpected sample of the plastic container material, which I am no doubt fortunate to have not ingested! Indeed my delicate palate recognized it immediately as a manufacturing process faux pas. It was totally lacking in flavor and its texture resembled nothing nut-like at all!

Please forgive me if I have gone nuts over this, but I’m thinking the traumatic surprise I endured entitles me at the least to a lifetime supply of Emerald nuts! Despite the trauma and mental anguish this has caused me, I am nonetheless capable of being completely reasonable so as to allow you to determine the type(s) of nuts and the frequency/quantity in which I find myself nuts.

As stated, I included the product label and the actual offending bit of green plastic (same as the container material) as enclosures. Visual and tactile aids never go out of style.

My goal of course was to score some free nuts! and to have some fun in the process.

My efforts were rewarded promptly, if not in the same spirit of fun. Within two person-weeks or something like less than 10 business days, I received the following response by mail:

Thank you for your recent letter concerning Emerald Sweet and Salty Original Blend.

Diamond Foods is proud of its reputation for high-quality food products. Our strict quality-control standards, special processing equipment and continual quality checks help to ensure a product that is free from any undesirable material. Therefore, we are at a loss to explain the foreign matter you found. We have notified both our Quality Control and Production Departments of your experience.

We apologize for the quality problem you encountered and any inconvenience you experienced. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Enclosed is a refund. We hope you will replace your product and continue to enjoy our Diamond Foods products.

Encl. Emerald Snack Product Coupon 2

Score! The “Emerald Snack Product Coupon 2” enclosure was actually three coupons – two for free products and a third for $1.00 off.

Sigh… These nut people chose to acknowledge my complaint but not my creativity. I suppose you could say, what do you expect from a company of nuts?

On the other hand, I suspect that they privately enjoyed what they politically correctly ignored. And so my work here is done.

 

 

I don’t even know what to call this

“T is for Thursday”? “T is for Turtle”? “The last Thing I could have Thought of that I’d have to deal with Tonight”?

Help me out here. My Thoughts are all over the place from a quite unexpected event this evening, and I can’t seem to hone in on what it “means” or what I think about it. Yet, I’m pretty sure there’s a blog post here somewhere. So without too many interruptions (of which there have been a couple), I just want to throw this experience out there to you while it’s immediate post-real-time.

Today is my “Friday” this week, because I’m off tomorrow. I came home with little intention for this evening, except to gear up for the “other” work I need to accomplish this three-day weekend and perhaps get some rest in advance, because I seem to have come down with a cold.

So I’m putzing around – you know – the little stuff you need to accomplish, but which serves the important purpose of helping you avoid doing the big stuff you really need to do. I unlocked the back gate so I could transport recyclables from my garage to the recycle bin in the backyard. I had made three or four trips to the backyard, when upon my return to the garage, I was greeted by a complete surprise. A most unusual visitor. An incredulous creature, the likes of which I have never seen around here in my 20+ years of residence.

A huge turtle was sitting in front of my garage opening as if he/she had come to call. When I say “huge,” I mean about 10 inches long and 7 inches wide. It gave me a start! Where could it have come from? I’m guessing that someone’s pet has escaped? I went next door to get my neighbor to attest to the fact that I was not hallucinating.

But what am I to do? I don’t want it to come to harm. We agreed that I should call Animal Control. Upon which the turtle crawled on over the threshold of my garage and under my car.

I’m thinking this was the smartest move on the part of the Turtle. I had no plans to go out again tonight, so the fact that it stopped squarely under the path of my tires is not an issue to me. Indeed, it was a brilliant move by my new friend, the Turtle, who by now is confident in my intentions toward him, my desire to shield him from harm, but just in case, this “check” move eliminates any revision of my travel plans for the evening.

I waited on hold to speak with Fort Worth Animal Control for some time after placing the call. In the interim, I was able to check on my friend to see if he had perhaps changed course. Nope, I was happy to see that he was still sitting in the same safe spot under my car. When someone finally answered, she shared my amazement at the probability of my Thursday Turtle Tourist visit. As she wrote up a dispatch order for Animal Control, I asked whether I should close my garage door so as to keep Turtle from venturing out from the safety of my intentions. She agreed that I should, because she was reporting that I had the animal “contained.”

I am now not only a shelter in the storm, a friend in time of need, a chosen refuge from whatever Turtle came from, but also I am an officer responsible for the legal protection and restraint of wildlife!

For how long, I did not know. Good thing that “I came home with little intention for this evening.”

When my phone rang, I also saw the Code Compliance truck in front of my house. First, I opened the kitchen door into the garage to check on my captive. In the meantime, he had moved and was practically sitting on the doorstep to enter my house! While this startled me yet again, I was gratified that he still seemed to trust and seek my intentions for his care.

I yelled to the Code Compliance officer that I would open the garage door where he could easily find and apprehend the Turtle. The officer was able to walk right in and pick up my friend, upon which he noticed blood on one of his front legs. My Thursday Turtle had been injured!

Now I know why Turtle sought me out, right? Its Turtle-tuition led him to me at a rare moment when I would find him, and find compassion on him.

So that’s my Thursday Turtle Story. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog post here somewhere, but I need your help to make sense of it… or not.

 

Confession: I have a Fine Arts degree

The time has come. With much trepidation, I am outing myself. I am divulging a professional secret that I have kept closely guarded from my colleagues in Technical Communications and even more so from colleagues outside of TechCom.

Never mind that almost every one of my generation came into technical communications from some other discipline by default. That is common knowledge. But for many, those disciplines were English, Engineering, Computer Science. Something that logically lent itself to the transition. How does one command credibility as a TechCom professional with an Art degree as academic background? What could be more frivolous?

Well, TechCom is my “third career.” The third incarnation of my professional self. But I earned a BFA in Fabric Design. There, I said it.

What the heck does one do with that? And more to the point, does anyone even know what it is? I’m still proud to say that I was privileged to work in my chosen field as a designer. I designed carpet for a major manufacturer. I actually got to use my degree to make a living!

My second career move was involuntary. I started the layoff roller coaster early in my professional life. I moved or fell into computer graphics pretty much at its inception. I cannot say that my Fine Arts degree was of much help in this field, but I can’t say that it wasn’t either.

And when I finally moved into Technical Writing, I was sure that my resume looked like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. There was no plan to it at all! But it began to feel right. And as I embraced that strange reality, I was surprised to see how it all fits together. It does make sense!

I am a writer now. I am an editor. But that does not mean that I’m not still creative! It doesn’t mean that my artistic ability and training aren’t brought into what I do everyday.

My canvas is still the same blank page.

Only my tools have changed. Words are my tool of choice. My skill is expressed in my very own unique combination and molding of words to my own device. Both professionally and personally.

To those with a limited perception of what Art is, I assert:

I am a writer and I have an Art degree.

I have an Art degree and I am a writer.

What Am I Doing Here?

I like to write, but I like to earn money more.

I enjoy molding and bending words to express my particular brand of insight. I think I’m rather good at it, and almost 20 years into my professional life, I discovered that I could make a living doing it. Ah, so others thought I was good at it, too!

However, the kind of word constructions that have brought me income over the past 15+ years are those that serve their best purpose when not “bent” at all. Not to say that technical writing doesn’t allow for and even require creativity. There are always problems to solve, issues to address in forming technical literature. But the genre (if you will) has a great deal of constraints and best-practice guidelines within which to create usefully worded solutions.

That’s OK, too. I like to follow the rules. And I love to make logical order out of complex concepts and jargon. Perhaps I can apply that skill to telling the story of my professional life and my many experiences “between opportunities”? Is it even possible to make order out of all the stops and starts, wholesale career changes, and periods of aimlessness?

Well now, there’s a creative project if ever there was one! And just maybe it will lead to a creative way to earn that money…

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