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hallo, everybody peeps! - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2009-07-31 21:42
Subject: hallo, everybody peeps!
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:calmcalm
Music:vaughan williams
That'll be me back, then. I see you haven't done much decorating while I was gone...
Gather ye round and pray charge yer glasses with yer favourite grog, and I'll tell ye a tale of pirate derring-do on the Spanish Main, I will, ahaarrgh.
Or maybe not.
Busy, busy time these past few weeks. Work (the real-life work that barely - just barely, and occasionally not even then - pays the bills) has been insane and surreal. The past couple of years of falling circulations has finally forced the company I work for to take a long, hard look at itself and decide that the only way to stop itself from getting in real trouble is to have a roots-and-branches restructuring, buy in busloads of outside consultants and human resources people, and drag itself, claw by withered claw, into the twenty-first century.
The company's actually in pretty good shape financially, but the papers, in common with pretty much every newspaper in the world, are not doing so well, and the company has set out to try and remedy this.
It's all been a bit of a culture-shock. Suddenly we have an HR department. Suddenly we're doing focus groups. Suddenly there are new and clear-cut demarcations between departments. Suddenly there's a culture of openness and collaboration which would have - and indeed has, I think - offended a number of the older members of staff, which is a shame because we could use their experience. Suddenly we're having brainstorming sessions refereed by outside consultants. It is, best beloved, all a bit weird but rather fun at the same time.
The upshot is everyone's in fear for their jobs and trying desperately to prove their worth to the company, which is why my workload keeps going up. As I said, busy, busy.

In addition, I made a rather rash promise to Jetse DeVries some time ago that I'd try and write a story for his anthology, Shine. Or, as it seems to be rendered, SHINE. Shine is an anthology of optimistic science fiction stories - yes, I can hear you laughing and I know you're way ahead of me here: hutch, write something optimistic?
Actually, in real life I don't deserve the Duke Of Gloom nickname. I'm quite a sunny soul, really. And I thought it would be a good exercise to actually try and write something that wasn't a complete downer from beginning to end. But I couldn't think of anything, so I sort of forgot about it.
Then one day a couple of months ago the mighty Marianne Plumridge posted something on her Facebook about taking pain meds. Except she had a Freudian Moment and typed `paint meds' instead, and I got the little lightbulb over my head all of a sudden.
So the result is `Dali's Clocks,' which I finished last night and sent off to Jetse, with just a couple of days until the deadline. I've been working rather desperately to get it finished, which has meant a lot of late nights after a lot of long days at the office, and it's actually not too shabby. It's only the second short story I've written this year, though, which is annoying me because I should be doing more than that.
Is it optimistic? Well, it ends with one of the lead characters in jail for thirty years on industrial espionage and terrorism charges and the genome of the entire human race rewritten, but compared to having Britain put to the sword by elves it's practically I Love Lucy. Now all we have to do is wait and see if Jetse likes it. The chances are slim, but you never know.
I got the advance reading copy of Under The Rose at the beginning of the week, and it's such a lovely book, it really is. And unexpectedly chunky. I knew it was quite a big book to start with, and we picked up some stories along the way, but I hadn't realised quite how substantial it would turn out to be. You could easily maim a small child with it, if it came down to you or him. And if the reaction to the cover is anything to go by, it's going to do rather well. Which will be a first for me.

In State Of The Cat news, as of Kuron's last blood test a week or so ago all his important numbers are now either in or just fractionally below the low-normal range, which we take to mean that the drugs have finally got some traction on his anaemia. His doctor - one of the doctors who advised us it might be kinder to have Kuron put to sleep - has pronounced himself very pleased with the results. So there you go.
One worry is that he's losing weight again. He's actually very bony now, and we're feeding him stuff with a syringe just to make sure he's eating something. We're continuing, as per doctors' instructions, to ramp down the steroids he was prescribed for the inflammatory bowel disease and which he's been on now for the best part of a year. He's down to half a tablet every other day, and next weekend we stop giving them to him altogether. The doctor up at Potters Bar wants to see him again and see if he can do something about the weight loss, but at the moment Kuron seems as bright as he was before he got sick - ie, he sleeps most of the day, then wanders about in the middle of the night howling for attention.
Obviously we're still not out of the woods yet, and he's never going to be well again - he'll always have to have the medications - but the signs are better.

So, how's with you?
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-07-31 22:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There's no doubt there are hard times ahead. Some papers in the States have already abandoned print publishing and gone entirely online because the alternative was to go bust, and I think more will follow. Over here, I can see a number of regional papers doing the same. I suspect the nationals will survive in some shape or form, with the possible exception of the Express, although I've been predicting the end of that paper for years now and it seems to keep struggling on.
It's interesting that I've witnessed two great upheavals in the newspaper business. I arrived on Fleet Street just as it was packing itself into lorries and lighting out for Docklands and other places. I watched the headquarters of all our great titles being demolished and replaced by merchant banks - and in the case of the Mirror the headquarters of Sainsbury's. Part of the old Reuters building is now a Terence Conran restaurant.
The offices of the AFP finally closed last week - although I'm at a loss to tell you where they were because they kept themselves to themselves - which means I am one of the last ten or twelve journalists on Fleet Street.
You're right. I should start writing this down.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-07-31 22:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
WElcome back.
But these consultants...
Are they on a defined contract with specific end goals and way points? If not, better keep your eyes open for a new job before they suck the life out of the company.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-07-31 23:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good to be back. But I'm still busy; I might not be up to speed again for a couple of weeks, so don't be surprised if I disappear for a day or two.
I have no idea of the terms these outsiders have been employed under. I do know that I would have preferred the company to have hired one or two fewer of them and hired us an extra journalist instead because we're massively undermanned in London for the amount of stuff we're expected to cover.
Still, it's unknown territory for all of us, from the directors on down, a complete culture shift. And from what little contact I've had with our other offices the general view seems to be `why didn't we do this years ago?'
As to looking for another job, I did check around last year or the year before, and my impression was that, at my age and with the experience I've had, I'd be lucky to get a job anywhere but at the very bottom on another national.
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jmward14
User: jmward14
Date: 2009-08-01 00:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*user waves* Looking forward to the story and wishing you good luck! We are living in interesting times for sure.
Moderately hopeful hugs,
Jean Marie
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 15:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks, Jean Marie!
Big Hugs.
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RealThog: shoe
User: realthog
Date: 2009-08-01 01:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:shoe

That's great news about Kuron -- not the best news, as you say, but in relative it's extremely good to hear.

"The internet has brought us a total democratisation of opinion, which is brilliant"

I'm not so sure it's brilliant at all. What it's bringing is a playing field wherein the views of fruitbats are given the same weight as -- if not far more than -- those of people who actually know what they're talking about. This has been the pertaining situation through much of the US media for the past fifteen years or more, and the consequence is an object lesson in why the "democratization of opinion" is likely to be a civilization-ending disaster: here in the US the levels of basic ignorance, bald misconception and inability to reason are absolutely staggering.

(As a single example, look at the whole "birther" bullshit -- not just as a piece of bullshit but in terms of the way great sections of the US population would rather be stirred up into a frenzy than pause for one moment to think or do elementary research.)

Myself, I think we're going down the tubes anyway and that we'll be lucky if by the end of the century there are more than a few million of us -- because of climate change, and our puerile unwillingness to do anything about it -- but the hope always was that those few million might preserve enough of our culture/knowledge base to give some hope for the future. Thanks to the "democratization of opinion", however, I very much doubt it: more likely they'll be ascribing the hostility of the environment and the near-extermination of the human species to the wrath of their imaginary sky-being and, amid much chanting of mumbo-jumbo, burning at the stake those whose ethnicity or sexuality makes them obviously the ones who got God all het up.

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Kat
User: artykat
Date: 2009-08-01 04:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I keep reading this word but not understanding it. Could you explain "birther" to me?

And I, too, am glad to hear about Kuron's upswing. It is so nice for there to be good news!
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
RealThog: shoe
User: realthog
Date: 2009-08-01 04:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:shoe

"An ARC of Under the Rose! Whee! "

I think contributors should gettem too . . . grump mumble fart grouse spit . . .
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Altariel
User: altariel
Date: 2009-08-01 09:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*cheers for new Hutch story and for brave Kuron*
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks!
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mylefteye
User: mylefteye
Date: 2009-08-01 13:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good to hear from you. Good luck with Dali's Clock, and give Kuron a pat for me.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 16:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you; as usual, I need all the luck I can get. Pat administered.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-08-01 15:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Nevada Jenny
See, I wasn't exaggerating . . .

Good news about Kuron . . . dear kitty.

And wonderful news about "Dali's Clocks"! Congrats.

We must throw a party for you.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 16:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*hugs* :-)
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