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          Pointy-haired boss, to Dilbert: "The government's new unemployment statistics are out."
Boss crumples sheet of paper and throws it at Dilbert's head.
Paper bounces off Dilbert's forehead: POINK!
Boss:    "It's still a bad time to look for a job."
Dilbert: "Yeah.  I got that."
Beyond the Fringefan #408

BEYOND THE FRINGEFAN is beginning to get that it's still a bad time to look for a job. (His failure to find any work since the end of January just might be a clue.) It's o.k.; he's keeping busy, though accomplishments may be difficult to see. Nonetheless, offers of copyediting or proofreading work will be welcomed at the N.Y. Cadre ((phone(718) NY-CADRE); e-mailnycadre@alum.rpi.edu; Webhttp://www.nycadre.org). This is Beyond the Fringefan #408, for readers of APA-NYU Volume 9, #3 (e-APA-NYU #83) and other seekers and slackers, published March 2011 as a combined production of Quick Brown Fox Press and Syscrash Consulting, both subsidiaries of Thigamajig Inc. logo. Cartoon above from Dilbert by Scott Adams, 4 February 2011. All uncredited material copyright ©2011 by Marc S. Glasser. Member fwa.

AMERICAN NOT ENTIRELY IDLE: I've been without paid work for a month now. Despite the air of confidence exuded by Brenda, my contact at 24 Seven, she's turned up nothing for me—nothing permanent, nothing short-term. (Another 24 Seven person did call me after a few days with what might have been one day's work, if I had experience using a piece of software called InDesign, but alas, I was unable to claim honestly that I knew much about that program beyond its name.) After two weeks, I decided it was time to renew a couple more old contacts. (Oh, and thanks to the people who e-mailed to ask whether I'd applied for unemployment benefits yet. I did so a week after my disconnection from Wieden—though it turns out I could have applied the same week—and have so far received three weekly payments. I've also been downtown at the Department of Labor offices for a mandatory advisory session, about whose helpfulness I'm skeptical.)

     The first agency I'd registered with, back in 2005, was Update Graphics. Update had gotten me quite a few assignments that year and in early 2006, ranging in duration from an evening to a couple of weeks, plus the gig with Publicis that ran intermittently for about nine months. So in mid-February I called Update and asked for the lady who'd been my contact there. I wasn't totally surprised to find that she'd moved on; that seems typical in the personnel business. I was a bit taken aback when Arlene, the person who took my call instead, told me that as far as the agency was concerned, I had to start all over again, as if I'd never worked through Update at all. She told me to send her my résumé, and she'd get back to me to have me come in and talk. I had my résumé there within an hour or two. It's been a couple of weeks now, and other than my e-mailing her again and getting an apology for the delay and a promise of progress Real Soon Now, nothing has developed.

     I had one other contact to try. In 2006, a week or two before getting the assignment at Wieden, I'd done a few evenings at a small agency working on a presentation for a pharmaceutical company. The permanent proofreader there, named Suzanna, had called in several freelancers for the job, and when it was done she asked me if we could stay in touch for future work. She did e-mail me a few times over the ensuing year to let me know there was work available—but by that point I was working effectively full-time at Wieden, and had to decline the offers. Ultimately she asked me to let her know if my situation should change.

     The same day I first spoke to Arlene at Update, I dug out Suzanna's e-address and sent her a message that my situation had changed. Unfortunately, the message bounced—she's not at that address anymore. After some thought, though, I tried searching for her on LinkedIn, unsuccessfully; and on Facebook, where I found her. We are now corresponding; if this leads to gainful employment, social networks will have justified their existence to me.

     Meanwhile, I've driven Donna to eight or ten medical appointments in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including the beginnings of a course of dental work that includes the removal of four teeth and the installation of two crowns and a four-tooth removable bridge; had a couple of appointments of my own; and made several round trips to Ozone Park, trying to get a stubborn transmission problem fixed in Daisy the minivan. (At press time, it appears to be fixed, but now the front bumper seems to be trying to fall off. It never ends...) Hence, so far I haven't just been moping about the house. Still, I'm looking forward to having a paying reason to go out.

     Another thing occupying my time has been the purchase of a new laptop. As I mentioned last issue, it seemed like time, though just how much so became steadily apparent as I spent more time at home. The old laptop has been in my possession since the last summer I worked for JPMChase; that's eight and a half years. That would be almost 60 in dog years, and I suspect it's even more in computer years. The machine's been behaving in a senescent fashion, taking unannounced naps at random times and refusing to wake up unless given the boot; it's also been gradually losing the ability to keep its screen upright without help. After aiming angry words at the machine several times daily in late January and early February, I knew it was time to do something drastic. I uninstalled Juno. "You've put it off as long as possible but the time has come to buy a NEW 
COMPUTER..."--image of box with chimney, labeled STEAM DRIVEN, with 3-inch
B/W monitor, accompanied by pie chart labeled YOUR HARD DRIVE indicating 

"Our consumer-friendly free market has reduced where you can purchase 
computer equipment to TWO OPTIONS:
"Gigantic mail-order houses..."
Voice emerging from phone receiver:
  "Welcome to Comp-Mungus.  If you're a BIG COMPANY that's willing to drop
  $30,000 without a qualm, PRESS ONE and a representative will be with you
  instantaneously.  If you're an INDIVIDUAL with $300 left on your Visa,
  PRESS TWO and hold for 2 1/2 hours."
"...or gigantic appliance/electronics superstores..."
Customer: "What's the baud rate of the built-in modem?"	
Clerk, labeled 13 YEARS OLD: 
  "I dunno, but I think it comes wid a ice-maker."

"The best place to go for advice is straight to BILL GATES, founder of 
Microsoft and the Lord God of all software.  Call him at the corporate HQ.
He answers his phone himself and loves to chat and talk shop..."
Bill Gates, with feet on desk, into phone:
  "Well, those are good and valid questions!  Tell you what... I WAS going
  to meet some Asian trade ministers but why don't I whiz out to Akron on
  my private jet instead.  I'll go with you to the showroom and help you
  select a system.  No... it's NO problem.  Say, 5:30?"

"And remember... No matter HOW FAST you run, the software you just
purchased will be OUTDATED by the time you reach your car..."
Voice from inside shop: 
  "OOPS!  They just released version of QUACK for
  WINDOWS!!  The update runs $150!"
Customer, laden with boxes, three feet from doorstep: "NOOOO!!"
(THE CITY by John Backderf, 11 November 1995)
     I wanted a laptop with a large screen; the old one was 15 inches measured diagonally, but with the new wider aspect ratio, I needed a 17-inch screen just to keep the same height. That in itself restricted the choices somewhat, as many of the manufacturers aren't making anything bigger than 15 inches. I finally settled on Dell, maker of the old laptop and of the desktop machine that's still chugging along on Windows 98 in our front room. Though the Dell folk lost a lot of goodwill in mid-decade for falling down in their user support (a/k/a handholding), I've heard that they've put a lot of effort into restoring their excellence in that department. We shall see.

     The new machine, an Inspiron 17R <neep-neep> built on an Intel Core i5-460M 2.53Ghz processor, with 6 GB of RAM and a 640 GB hard drive </neep-neep>, arrived 2 March. Yes, it runs Windows; go ahead and jeer, but I need to be able to work with MS Word and Excel files as a freelancer. At least it's Win 7 and not Vista. I'm still working on copying all the files from the old machine to the new and reinstalling software, and may be for a while, but I have my spreadsheets, my e-mail, and the archives of APA-NYU and Beyond the Fringefan transferred, so I'm ready to roll. Well, as soon as I learn the convolutions of the new versions of Word and Excel, anyhow.

Fringe Reception: Comments on APA-NYU, Volume 9, #2 (e-APA-NYU #82)

ICONOCLAST (Joel Nelson):
The saxophone solo from "Baker Street" was incredibly catchy, but it became an annoying earworm for many of us during the summer of 1978, when it was inescapable on top-40 radio. It took years before I could stand the song again; but if it signified a good time in your life, I can see how you feel bereft with Rafferty's passing. Condolences. /*/ (¢Blackman) "Has anyone deliberately written a horror story getting its force mostly from bad English?" Not sure about a horror story, but I've seen s-f and fantasy stories that use deteriorating command of language to illustrate a protagonist's mental deterioration, a frightening prospect if there ever was one. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes (the source for the film Charly), does a memorable job depicting the exhilaration of Charlie's gain and the horror of his realization of his impending loss. /*/ (¢me) "Grosses are whole numbers, nets are integers"—i.e., the latter can be negative. True; in addition, film studios and record companies are past masters at creative accounting that transforms a project in which everyone with a percentage of the gross makes money, into a project that shows a net loss on the official books. /*/ "[Driving without power steering] was quite fun actually, and easier than I thought it would be, because very little of driving involves actually turning the wheels." And when the car is already moving, the effect of friction is minimized. The difficulty shows up mostly during parallel parking, and a bit when making a turn from a dead stop, so that problem would have been a lot harder to deal with in this town.

DANCE* FOR 3 IPODS (Ariel Cinii):
"...but due to new astronomical findings the star signs have shifted about and there's supposed to be a 13th sign called ... Ophiiacus." Didn't someone come up with all that back in the 1970s, adding not only Ophiuchus but also Cetus, to create a 14-sign zodiac? Caveman standing in front of sales display with sign, I haven't seen any horoscope columns yet that include either of those—not that I'm looking terribly hard. /*/ Have fun with all that Pod-swapping. I've managed to get by without a dedicated mp3 player so far, by having first a PDA and then a phone that perform that function, though the user interfaces have been less convenient than I'd have liked. /*/ "Remember floppies?" I do. I have over a hundred 3½-inch ones I don't need. I offered them on FreeCycle a month ago and got no takers. Anyone want 'em? /*/ Maybe you should get your own personal bag of rock salt during the snowy weather, and carry some to sprinkle in front of you as you negotiate that hazardous sloping corner that the super doesn't shovel. /*/ "In 25 years...Washington as an institution will disappear. The various states and regions will form Twelve Republics of their own...." This seemed somehow familiar, so I went back and looked at your debut zine in APA-NYU, from January 1980, in which I read: "In 2054AD, Utah will seceed [sic] from the Union and become a Mormon Empire, annexing Idaho in an involved and (of course) bloody struggle. New York in that same year will become an independent city-state. Hawaii will also be its own country along with Florida, which will be the world's largest Jewish state, outpopulating Israel. All this in one year; I'll be two years old in my next life when all this happens." So my questions: did your notes last month come from the same Astral Guardian who gave you those predictions 31 years ago? How can those states secede from the Union if the Union gets dissolved a couple of decades earlier? (Your 1980 predictions also included: "The first neutron bomb used in war will drop in May/June 1980 from an Afghanistani [sic] plane. It will be a Soviet bomb." So I'm taking all this with a large number of grains of salt—which may provide you with enough for walking out after the next snowstorm. /*/ You write that Yal Dawo has "no 'tu/vous' division as in the Romance or Germanic tongues)," but you provide both singular and plural second-person endings. That's what "tu" and "vous" (and "thou" and "you") were originally all about, isn't it? So are you referring to the restriction of the singular to contexts of intimacy or condescension and the use of the plural otherwise, even when addressing one individual?

JAMISON, TAKE e-LETTER (Mark L. Blackman):
"Regrettably, the aged audience [at the Molly Picon presentation at the library] rudely talked, read newspapers, loudly shushed, moved around & let cell phones ring." That older generation. Who taught them manners? /*/ (¢cover) "No-Frills products are long-gone, alas." They keep coming back under other names. The A&P/Waldbaum's/Pathmark complex has introduced a Food Basics line (not to be confused with the Food Basics stores, which the same corporation also owns). /*/ (¢APA-NEWS) "In Memoriam> Van Vliet was under B for Beefheart (not V, or even C for Captain)?" In recent years I've usually used the names by which they were best known for alphabetization purposes. (I didn't always do it that way, but I can't remember when I changed the style.) Why under C? Captain remains a title, even self-applied. I wouldn't put Theo Geisel under D for Dr. Seuss. /*/ (¢me) "(The gas company - which was by again, btw - doesn't hook up stoves; the super does.)" Doesn't it have to be done by a licensed plumber or contractor? one guy to another, sitting in coffee shop:
  "As a Jewish Chinese-American, I don't know WHEN to celebrate 
  the New Year."
(BIZARRO by Dan Piraro, 31 December 2008) /*/ I didn't realize it was a golden rabbit until I read your tagline; then I researched it and learned that the 12-year cycle of animals is part of a complicated 60-year cycle in which each animal is paired with each of the five elements in Chinese alchemy (water, fire, earth, metal and wood). The metal element is often referred to as "gold" when it occurs, but I don't see that it has to be; hence we might prefer to make 2020 the Year of the Stainless Steel Rat, or 2040 the Year of the Brass Monkey, or 2050 the Year of the Iron Horse. (We should all live so long.)

Congratulations on getting all that freelance work—from home, yet! Given the savings in commuting time, carfare and laundry, it seems possible you can make it work for the long term.

     Well, if I'm still not working by mid-month, we'll at least have a better chance of making it to Lunacon before midnight Friday. A happy vernal equinox and Spring Forward to all. And a REMINDER to all with fannish musical tastes: Contata 6, the 21st Northeast Filk Music Convention, will be held 1–3 July 2011 at the Hilton in Parsippany, New Jersey. More at <www.contata.org>.

>Portions of the preceding wonder:
                will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64-bit?<

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