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Beyond the Fringefan      One demon to another, amid fire and brimstone, outside office door marked 'His Evilness':
   "Well, THAT was awkward... I just walked in and caught the Devil with the blue dress on..."
Other demon:  "I don't know who he thinks he's fooling... Everyone knows the Devil wears Prada"

BEYOND THE FRINGEFAN is working like the devil these days, having scored a gig in the fashion business. Unfortunately, it involves getting up at an hour which for him is pretty close to hell on earth; freelancers have to do the damnedest things sometimes. If you want to tell him where to go, or offer him a handbasket in which to make the trip, you can reach him at the N.Y. Cadre ((phone(718) NY-CADRE); e-mailnycadre@alum.rpi.edu; Webhttp://www.nycadre.org). This is Beyond the Fringefan #414, for readers of APA-NYU Volume 9, #9 (e-APA-NYU #89) and other lost souls, published September 2011 as a combined production of Quick Brown Fox Press and Syscrash Consulting, both subsidiaries of Thigamajig Inc. logo. Cartoon above from Reality Check by Dave Whamond, 23 June 2010. All uncredited material copyright ©2011 by Marc S. Glasser. Member fwa.

QUEENS LOGIC: The good news is that I'm now working at an assignment that has medium- if not long-term potential. The weird news is that it's in Queens.

     One of my contacts at 24 Seven called a few weeks ago to ask me if I'd be interested in a permanent position at a fashion company. When I said I would, she told me the catch: the company is in Long Island City, but is planning a move within the next year to Mahwah, New Jersey (up near the Rockland County [New York] border). Any candidate for the position would have to commit to working in Mahwah when the time comes, in order to be considered at all.

     I looked at some maps and some Google pages, and reached the conclusion that driving to Mahwah in rush-hour traffic would take me two hours each way. (It's more than an hour even when the roads are clear.) Public transit would take even longer. I therefore told the recruiter that I could not in all honesty commit to working in Mahwah.

     Apparently, no one else was willing to make such a commitment either, because a few days later I got another call. The company would like me to work freelance in Long Island City for the indefinite future, no Mahwah commitment required. The hourly rate offered was more than I've been paid for any assignment so far, so of course I grabbed at the opportunity.

     Long Island City, for the out-of-towners, is in the borough of Queens, not all that far from midtown Manhattan; you can take the Flushing line (#7 subway) from Grand Central and be there in 15 minutes. Of course, the subways are laid out such that with very few exceptions, to go from anywhere in Brooklyn to anywhere in Queens requires you to go through Manhattan, thus crossing the East River twice. Still, it turns out I can get to this work address from the Cadre in about an hour and 20 minutes, door to door, with either one or two changes of trains, and get a seat for most or all of the way, so, especially given the higher pay, it seems, or seemed, worth it. (It turns out that they have no problem with my cycling in—a number of people working there do so—and the trip takes five to ten minutes less by bike. I'll be doing it that way as often as possible while the good weather holds out.)

     The other stiletto-heeled shoe dropped at the end of my first day of work: they want me in at 8:30 am on a daily basis. This is the American office of a company that's based in London, England, and the time difference means that by 1 or 2 pm, New York time, most everyone's done for the day at the home office. So now I'm getting up at 5 or so in the morning—something I regard as an unnatural act—to be out the door just past 7. It remains to be seen if I can keep this up for any length of time. My initial contact there thought it might be possible to negotiate a 9:00 or even a 9:30 start time, but when he tried, his bosses summarily vetoed the idea.

     The work itself? Well, they're keeping me busy; there's a steady flow of new merchandise being written up for the company's three Web sites, and each writeup has to be proofed for conformity to the company style as well as to standard English. I'm attempting to learn a runway-load of terminology involving fabrics and fashions, and I'm not sure I'm absorbing it fast enough. Fortunately, they issued me a company stylebook, a glossary and a document called "The Glorious Guide to Hyphens," on all of which I'm making copious marginal notes.

     Well, I wanted full-time hours at better pay, and I got 'em; just one more case of "be careful what you wish for..." I'll keep plugging away at this until either they implement the move to Mahwah or my body rebels against the 5 am crime against nature; we'll see which happens first.

COME ON, IRENE, TOO-LOO-RI-AY: (well, everyone was making the obvious Leadbelly reference...) We were left pretty much undamaged by Hurricane Irene; we were in evacuation zone C, and only those in zone A were actually told to evacuate. The main problem we had was a fallen tree limb—a big one, about ten feet long—that blocked our driveway and front walk for most of a week. (It came to rest against the tailgate of Daisy the minivan, but did no apparent damage—should I knock wood?) It took a few phone calls, some misinformation from 311, and a lot of waiting on hold, but the city eventually cleared it away.

AND MY BEST FRIEND, THE DOCTOR, WON'T EVEN SAY WHAT IT IS I'VE GOT: A year ago May, I reported on my cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal, to those not trained in medical jargon). I'd had a few of what I now know were gallbladder attacks in the five months leading up to it, yet I had no clue that there was anything wrong with my gallbadder until the day before I entered the hospital. (The February attack had sent me to an emergency room, but all they'd been able to diagnose at the time was dehydration—gallbladder attacks can kill your appetite for both solids and liquids). When I came to Dr H. in May, he sent me for some X-rays and also for an abdominal sonogram. The technician performing the sonogram remarked that it looked as though I had a gallstone. When I returned to Dr. H. the next day with an elevated white-cell count, I mentioned what the technician had said, and Dr. H. responded (just before sending me to the E.R. again) that he'd known I had gallstones for some time.

     That last statement stuck in my brain and festered for months—to the point that when I returned to Dr. H. this year for an annual checkup, I raised the questions: "Just how long had you known I had gallstones without bothering to tell me? And what else do you now know about my health that you haven't told me yet?"

     For some reason, Dr. H. found this line of questioning offensive. He denied that he had ever said what I remembered him saying; he asserted that he was not and had never been the sort of doctor to hold anything back from a patient; and he opined that if I believed otherwise, it meant that the bond of trust essential to a doctor-patient relationship had been broken, and that I needed to find myself another doctor, because he couldn't continue treating me if I didn't trust him to be honest with me.

     I honestly had not expected any of this; I'd expected an explanation, a clarification, or an apology, after which we could resume on good terms the doctor-patient relationship we'd had for fifteen years. Clearly there are things about the way physicians think that I did not comprehend.

Doctor to patient, writing referral: 
   "I'm sending you to another doctor as payment for a golf bet I lost." (BIZARRO by Dan Piraro, 18 September 2002)      Donna made an attempt to smooth things over the next time I took her to see Dr. H., suggesting that there had been a miscommunication resulting from the combination of my own stress at the time and the fact that English is not Dr. H.'s first language. He wasn't buying any of it; he'd already written me off as a patient and was just awaiting word on which other doctor to send my records to.

     So now I'm trying to decide, on the basis of scanty and contradictory information, which medical practitioner I'm going to entrust with my life and health for maybe fifteen or twenty years (possibly much less if I make the wrong choice). United Healthcare, through its Web site, will happily list all the PCPs (primary care providers) it covers within a mile or five miles or twenty miles of the Cadre, with ages, education histories and hospital affiliations, but can't or won't tell me which of them is any good, or even which ones have the shortest waiting-room times. There are a few sites that claim to provide independent evaluations based on patient testimonials, and the doctors rated highly on one site don't even get mentioned on the others, so I can't find a consensus.

     That's not even considering the number of highly rated practitioners near me who are not even MDs but DOs—osteopathic physicians. What I know about osteopathy as a medical philosophy and about DOs vs MDs is pretty much what I've read on Wikipedia, so it's a whole extra can of worms I'd really rather not open up at this time—but I worry whether if I close off that line of investigation, I'll be depriving myself of a potentially valuable, even lifesaving, source of medical care.

     I think I'm going to have to make a fairly arbitrary selection, go talk to that practitioner, and see what kind of impression we make on each other. I imagine I could change PCPs as many times as I want to, as far as United Healthcare is concerned, but it would be nice to once more have a fairly stable medical relationship I could rely on.

REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE IN AFRICA?: The Kid made it back to Cameroon in August as planned, and he's now begun his second year of teaching after another couple of weeks of readjustment and self-doubt. He commemorated his second arrival there by shaving his head, with the help of a few other volunteers. He continues to blog about his experiences at <cameroon [dot] betacantrips [dot] com>; I find it makes interesting reading, though of course I have a certain bias.

Fringe Reception:Comments on APA-NYU, Volume 9, #8 (e-APA-NYU #88)

ICONOCLAST (Joel Nelson):
(¢Cinii) As I recall, (real) Mah Jongg is more like gin rummy than like bridge: basically, you're picking up and discarding, trying to collect sets of three or four of a kind, and the first player to get three such sets wins the hand. /*/ (¢me) From the lines you quote ("You are beautiful, my sweet, sweet song."; "let my words be few. Jesus I am so in love with you."; "Hold me close, let your love surround me. Bring me near, draw me to your side."), it seems as though what they said on South Park (and elsewhere) is true: that the difference between an ordinary rock song and a Christian rock song is the substitution of "Jesus" for "baby" or "darling." /*/ "Me singing 'I Surrender All' would be wrong, because I already surrendered all to Jesus back on June 27, 1974." Um, you're not the same person you were 37 years ago; you've acquired more things since then, both worldly possessions and intangible attributes. Hence you do in fact have things to surrender to Jesus that you didn't then. /*/ "The stronger [Law of Limit of Elevator Passengers] states that the maximum time between a nira getting on an elevator car and that same nira getting off that car is the maximum travel time between the top and bottom floors." I give up. What's a nira? /*/ Letting people off the elevator, bus, or train before you try to squeeze in is certainly an essential element of politeness for those living in the city. Unfortunately, in this city, almost everyone has had the experience of politely standing aside to let people off the train or bus, then attempting to board, only to get the train or bus door slammed in hir face; a few occurrences like that tend to temper the impulse toward politeness.

Funny how things work out: two months ago, you ran a filk about the hodgepodge street pattern in our largest borough, called "A Dyslexic in Queens"...and now I are one. /*/ Author, to editor looking over manuscript: 
   "It's an autobiography of a guy who spent his whole life trying to get his first @#$% book published." 
(SPEED BUMP by Dave Coverly, 21 January 2010) "Think! One of these days these manuscripts will be so improved that somebody will actually buy them!" That's the proper spirit of positive thinking. May it actually produce real-world results for you. /*/ "I finally got Channel 7 WABC back on my television. To make this happen the coaxial cable connecting the antenna that sits outside my windowsill now partially obstructs my window. ...I'll miss my uncluttered view outside." I thought the view out your window was currently of a new edifice portending the accelerating yuppification of your neighborhood.

JAMISON, TAKE e-LETTER (Mark L. Blackman):
"Afterward, a few of us headed to a Midtown kosher restaurant that, having won an award as 'best in NYC', was offering free cholent (a meat-&-bean stew, traditional on Shabbat) & kugel (noodle or potato pudding in a crust), which, alas, I didn't grow up eating & don't often have." In my youth I often ate kugel (tasty but not terribly good for you) but not cholent (probably more healthful, but hazardous in other ways, owing to all the beans). I've had cholent now about a dozen times in as many years, sometimes (as at that restaurant) quite delicious, other times not so much. I may try a little experimentation this winter. /*/ Best wishes for a speedy recovery from the eye surgery and a total restoration of proper vision. /*/ During the time that Alka-Seltzer commercial was running circa 1970, TV Guide ran some recipes for giant dumplings, marshmallowed meatballs, poached oysters, and one or two other things that Ms. Playten's character was talking about. (My mother was a good cook. I didn't ask her to make any of those.) /*/ (¢APA-NEWS) "TV comics blamed Schwartz's untimely death on the news that Florence Henderson had had a sleazy affair with Mayor Lindsay, but I blame Abby's GILLIGAN'S ISLAND re-melodying." Nah, if the version to the tune of "Stairway to Heaven" circa 1980 by Little Roger and the Goosebumps didn't do it, Abby's version wouldn't. /*/ (¢me) I believe Newark is "EWR" because when they introduced the three-letter code system, the Navy pre-empted all codes starting with N for Navy bases. The airport at Norfolk, Virginia, is "ORF" for the same reason.
I guess I've delayed the collation long enough. A good equinox to all, and may all who wish it be inscribed in the Book of Life.

>Portions of the preceding wonder if dozing off at your desk
                                                                                     makes it a dream job.<

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