Archive for February, 2020

So You’ve been Called to a Meeting

It happens to all of us. Your day is going swimmingly, you don’t loathe your job, things are humming along, and then you make the mistake of opening an email. And there it is, right there in an email: meeting.

No other word in the white-ish collar-ish world induces such dread as the word meeting. At the very very least, you now have to meet another person in person. And we all know that’s not where it ends.

Oh, the horror.   

But what now?

OK, first of all, come to terms with the fact that you need to go to the meeting. Calling out only means conspicuously drawing attention to yourself and probably being forced to a one on one recap, which is the equivalent of fibbing to stay home from school and getting stuck going to the doctor’s office.

More Meetings

Sometimes a meeting gives birth to a bunch of other meetings. There’s the meeting to prepare for the original meeting, an informal meeting to go over the talking points of the primary meeting as well as the minutes of the first prep meeting. Meetings are like murders in the bible – they beget another.

Meetings: An Overview

Every meeting in the history of workers aggregated near a water cooler has been negative. Every. Single. One. No meeting has ever been held to distribute cupcakes and spontaneously tell employees how great and appreciated they are.

Additionally, meetings are notorious for the off the cuff doling out of pain in the ass tasks, the willy nilly blaming of things, and the asking of questions that virtually nobody wants to answer. For these reasons, I suggest sitting as far from the head of the meeting as possible.

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Talk to Me, Like

One of the more interesting aspects of visiting a place is negotiating the language in the place where you visit. This is true even when speaking of my native tongue. A week in Limerick for work seemed the perfect opportunity to listen to the Irish use of the English language. And so I had a pet project.

Perhaps a lucky coincidence was a layover in Germany and Storm Ciara, which gave me an opportunity to counterpoint the flowery exposition of the Irish against the pragmatic and direct (read: cruel) nature of German. The first voice we heard was our German pilot. Engineers are the most pragmatic beings on Earth and once you make that engineer German it hits a level of pragmatism and precision void of all humanity or capacity to feel. 

Pragmatic German Pilot

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, you might have noticed that most of the flights within Western Europe have been cancelled, but our flight to Dublin has not been. This is due to the fact that there is no rain there, but there is a lot of high winds. We are going to give it a try. The good news is that we have plenty of fuel, so if we can’t land we can simply turn around and come back to Munich. OK? Good. So, now I instruct you to sit back and relax and we shall be on our way.”

My feelings about this broadcast are varied, but can mostly be labelled under the headings of anger, confusion, and horror. Unless he or she is speaking about the hopes of making up lost time or avoiding turbulence, one never likes to hear the word try come from a pilot’s mouth. This is especially true when the verb + noun to be attempted is land an airplane and the action / punishment resulting in the hypothetically failed future attempt is death in a fiery crash (with lots of fuel to burn) or returning to Munich after a 5 hour tour of northwestern Europe from 42,000 feet.

Additionally, this pilot and I have vastly different understandings of what entails ‘good news’ and what sort of things purvey ‘relaxation’.    

Spoiler alert: we made it. You may not want a German pilot to ease your worries, but you definitely want one landing an Airbus A320 in a rainstorm in Dublin.

What cheer we had at landing safely was properly spanked out of us by a long line at passport control. By the time we got outside to find our bus to Limerick the rain and sleet was coming down hard. Furthermore, we were late and therefore unsure about whether we’d be able to get on the later bus. The following was a conversation that warmed our cockles.

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Back to Éire

I’ve always been drawn to Ireland. I think this is because as a kid I was a firm believer in Brownies and Leprechauns. And by “as” a kid I mean “since” I was a kid. It has always seemed a mystical place to me. And while I am very aware of the fact that Ireland is far more than a land of light or spooky folktales and that the monsters and the horrors in Ireland have at times been very real, something about it has always drawn me. My favorite places are all over the place.

On my first trip to Ireland, back in the last few months on the last century, a perfect storm of weekend activities meant that instead of going to Galway, I went instead to Doolin. Doolin, a town of about 150 people, is right down the road from the Cliffs of Moher, and is home to two pubs known for traditional Irish music. I got a room in the Rainbow Hostel – the same one I’d stay in with two friend about 8 years later.

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Plant Eater

Plant Eater

It’s great to have friends who are moving. I mean, it’s sad, no doubt, but there is nothing like the dissipating resolve of a person standing in a room of their belongings and the knowledge that they have to pack them into boxes and bring them somewhere else. This is the way you end up with things. Lots of things. It’s even better when that friend is leaving on an airplane, so there’s no way they can bring everything.

It’s in this way that I have recently ended up with a yoga mat, a popcorn maker, lots of honey, a Pilates ball, a knife block, a set of pots, a rug, a cast iron pan, and a plant stand and several plants.

All of these things are useful and I have already used most of them. But the rug, the plant stand, and the plants have brought the most joy. They bring a cozy atmosphere to the flat that simply wasn’t there before. It has also given my cat a full circle of activity.

She climbs the plant stand

She eats the plants

She pukes onto the rug

It’s the circle of life.

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