We are doomed!

I am freaked out enough these days.

I go into to deposit my portion of the TFT in the bank.  I mean I walk into the actual back to deposit the check rather than use the ATM machine because I am afraid the ATM machine will screw up, I guess.  I really don’t know what I am doing since I haven’t deposited stuff in a long time, and as I start to walk away, the person at the counter says you want your receipt, don’t you.  Why of course I say, pretending just to have forgotten sort of absent mindedly.

And then still trying to operate in the adult mode, I go over to the other side of the bank where the so-called “financial advisors” all sit behind their desks.  I have learned through my dealings with the Tingle Family Trust that there are these things called CD’s and that they fetch more interest than just leaving your money sitting there in a checking account.  By God! I am for the first time in my life actually “investing” some money, I guess.

This guy waves me over to his desk and I tell him what I have got and was thinking about CD’s and he says that’s a good idea though maybe—and he is sort of mumbling—it would be better to buy some Euros.  And I sort of go what, and he says Euros or Yen, and then he says or maybe some Gold.  I know enough to know that when people start talking about buying Gold they are preparing for the end of the world as we know it.

So I say, things don’t look so hot, huh.

And the guy says, “We are doomed.”

Jesus!  I just wanted to ask a couple of questions about CD’s and rather than trying to sell me on CD’s, as he should be doing, the guy says, “We are doomed,” because he says the housing market is in a free fall and there is no end in the sight.  Last year, he says, at this time, there were exactly 70 properties on the real estate market in the general Santa Barbara area; this year there are 900 and nobody is buying.  So things don’t look so hot, I say.

And the guy says, “We are doomed.”

I ask does the bank sell euros and he says they certainly do and he gives me a card with a number on it to call, as he hands me some info he has printed out on something called a CD ladder.

So I leave the bank all upset because “We are doomed,” and am befuddled too because I have never really understand the idea of using money to buy money and what would I do with the money that I bought if I bought it.  I mean would I keep it in my house or something, or would I just own it on paper.  But any way I cut it, it doesn’t sound good because buying Euros would mean I believe that the dollar will soon go down the toilet, money-wise.

Junk Disposal

Carol and I spent most of yesterday working on our half garage.  We share our garage with our next door neighbor in the condo. Our half of the garage has always looked worse than the other half, though most of the time we have been here the other half belonged to the nuns who lived next door and they were like ultra neat people.  Still I would look at their half and then at our half and the half that was ours looked even more like a mess compared to theirs.  Now a young couple lives next door.  They have more stuff than we do, but it still looks neater.

Anyway we getting rid of years and years of carelessly disposed and stored junk.

Books, books, books, tapes of all kinds and paper—those are the dominant disposables.  Six filing cabinets of paper, plus several boxes of paper.

We went out and bought Carol a mega-shredder to shred the paper.  She is proud of her new shredder and says she feels like a man with his chain saw.  We have a basic philosophical difference about paper disposal.  She is worried about identify theft and wants to shred every piece of paper.  I think this identity theft thing is grossly exaggerated and so don’t understand why she needs to shred every piece of paper.  Or maybe I don’t care if somebody steals my identity.  I mean, here, take it.  I could use another one.

I took bags of dead batteries and ink cartridges and old cans of paint and paint thinner over to the toxic disposal site at the university.  The guy there said they get 10,000 pounds of toxic junk every weekend. We didn’t want to use up all of the space in the trash containers everybody in our three units use so later we drove over to trash dump place nearby and unloaded paper.  Then we went to Osh and bought some shelves to go next to the shelves we already have.

I believe people all over the USA are now overflowing with junk.  I saw a truck with “1-800-Got Junk?” on it, and I looked them up on the web.  They will pick up every thing practically but a corpse and dispose of it for you.  They say they are the nation’s foremost junk disposal company and have grown 500% over the last three years.

In the late afternoon I spent a little time working on Tingle Territory and put together some pictures of Cemeteries and Churches.  Rather than try to move these from the google site to my site on yahoo, I decided to use the google photo site instead and it looks pretty good.  You can check it out at:

Meet the Old Boss

So I waited and I guess at the end of January I got a letter from some official body or other saying Congratulations.  You have received a 3 step merit increase.  A strange letter, with no acknowledgment that an error had been previously made and since there was no acknowledgment of an error there was of course no explanation of the unacknowledged error.


Well, I was happy to get the merit increase, and when I checked with our highest level secretary, I was told that I would get the money I hadn’t gotten for the six months they had taken to ok my merit raise.  So I would get retro pay, and starting in March my check would show the new adjusted amount.  At this point, though, I haven’t seen a penny of it since some mistake was made and instead of getting more money my check for February was completely cancelled and some strange accounting had to be done to get me my salary that couldn’t account for my raise or the missing money.

Someday I will see it. 

So I had my merit review last February and at the end of March I went to a convention of college writing teachers in Chicago I think it was and, of course, because it happens every time, I got sick about a week after I got back with some stuff that settled in my lungs and just wouldn’t seem to go away for the whole stinking quarter. I hate conferences.  I hate airplanes.  I hate airports too.

And then around in there maybe April or June we all get an out of nowhere email from our boss saying that she was retiring.  This was like completely unexpected and out of the blue, and in itself a cause for tension and concern.  This boss was the first boss of the writing program who a real tenure track professor.  In fact, she had been hired in as a Full Professor, which is a pretty big deal.  And now out of nowhere she was going.

We had one other Professor in the program but she didn’t have tenure and the rest, well, we were all top to bottom lecturers, and we felt—or at least I felt—that it had been good to have a full real professor as our boss since she might be able to talk with the guys up in the administration in a way that a lecturer, such as myself, could not.

So that was upsetting: to have the boss split like that after five years.  She had been a pretty decent boss, I think.  Nothing really had changed for the better in terms of our pay or workload or anything substantial like that but she was not nuts for one committee meeting after another and having been for years at another institution a full senate faculty member she brought with her a senate faculty ethos.  She treated us more as if we were professors and that meant, most importantly, that she mostly expected us not to be in our offices, which is the case with most Senate faculty—they are not in their offices. 


That’s my office again.  Part of a bookshelf featuring one of those singing fish.  I don’t know why the hell I bought that.  But I actually bought it.  It sings "Splish Splash, I was taking a bath."  I don’t think it sings now though because the battery is dead. 

Slighted Again

I thought about taking the rejection of my three steps to the union, but then I thought that maybe I should look into whatever official channels for redress or reconsideration there might be.  My boss said that, according to the academic manual, I had the same right as anybody else to write a letter to the appropriate parties asking for a copy of the official report upon which the rejection of my merit increase had been based.


So I wrote said letter and waited.  Throughout the summer.  When fall came I asked my boss if she would ask for me at the end of September, then I asked if she would ask at the end of October and finally, some time, in October I got a copy of the official report.  It didn’t make any sense.  For one thing, my boss had said that the committee had whole heartedly back my three step merit; but the person writing the report remarked that the backing could hardly be considered whole hearted since one person had voted against my getting an increase.

This clarified one thing right off.  Different people over in the administration building had reviewed the different merit cases. How could one vote against me be taken as a sign that I didn’t deserve my three steps when one person who had three votes against him or her had received the three steps? This could only mean that one person had approved a three step for a person with three no votes, and another person had reviewed me and taken one no vote as a sign that I didn’t deserve the merit.  Not only had two people done the review of the cases, but clearly these two people had never sat down in the same room or talked to each other to standardize the criteria they were using to evaluate the merit requests.

Second, and glaringly, the author of the report said that he or she didn’t see why I should get a three step merit for this last four year period of review when I had done at least as much, if not more excellent work, in the three years before that and yet I had not requested a three step at that time.  So why should I request and get a three step this time, when I hadn’t requested or gotten one before.  This was a major gaffe indicating that the person writing my review had not been given much information about lecturers and their contract or he or she would have known that the last time I was reviewed it was not possible, according to the then existing contract, to ask for a three step merit.

This was like more than annoying.  It was damn disheartening.  I couldn’t help but feel, while of course there was nothing personal about it, that my case, and probably the cases of other lecturers as well, had been handled in a cursory, offhand, and desultory manner.  But I screwed myself up, and sent a copy of the report off to my boss, along with my analysis of it, and more or less agreeing with my analysis, she wrote off a letter to the appropriate parties requesting that my case be re-reviewed.

So again, I waited.  Till the end of November, when I ask my boss to send off a letter asking what was happening with the re-review.


The photo shows a slightly different view of my office.  That’s my official campus supplied computer there, and the viewer will note that it has been adjusted to the proper height by the very latest in phone directories.  Next to the phone directory sits my modern up to date touch tone phone that will not allow me to phone anybody outside my immediate area code.

Three step

I have been a lecturer in the UCSB Writing Program since 1980 and that’s all I have been.  I have not moved up in any way shape or form.  I have not, for example, become senior lecturer or super senior lecturer or anything like that because there are no such things.  Part of a career, as I understand the concept—and possibly I don’t—involves moving up.  But that didn’t happen so I guess I didn’t have much of a career.


About the only way to move up was to get a raise.  For whatever reasons, my bosses have never told me I was doing a super job or expressed how grateful they were that I continued to exist.  So getting a raise was about the only way to get a pat on the back.  But it was a sort of private pat on the back because none of us ever talk about how much we do or don’t make, maybe because we make so little.  So a raise was not really a social status thing; you don’t go around bragging about how much you make.  It’s better to have something by your name that says “Super Senior Lecturer.”

So some time, in this last horrible year, February or March, I guess it was I was up for a merit review and a possible pat on the back.  It had been four years since my last chance at a merit increase.  And at that time I got a two step merit increase which was the most a person could get according to our union contract.  But the contract had changed and I made sure that the boss knew that people could now get three or even four merit steps depending on degree of accomplishment.

I wanted to get a 3 step because, well, that would be like a super pat on the back and also I am close to retirement and wanted to get my salary up as high as I could because my retirement benefits are based on my 3 most highly paid years of service.  So this one was a big deal for me.

I felt I deserved a three step (heck, I felt I deserved a four step), and after the review, which is always just awful, like a beauty contest or something and you are wearing no clothes, I got a nice letter from my boss saying the committee had approved a three step increase for me and congratulations.  So I got the pat on the back and some money too.

But, whoa!  These merits aren’t automatic; they go from the program up to the Dean’s office, and I got a letter from the Dean’s office saying I had received a two step and not a three step. And of course, this is the university and no reason whatsoever was offered as to why I got two instead of three.

 Well, that hurt.  Screw it, I thought.  I will just suck it up.  But that didn’t seem right, so I went to the boss and told her what I had been told and ask her if anybody else had received a three step because I figured that if I hadn’t gotten one that the Dean’s office had decided not to give a three step to anybody.

But, no, my boss says that three of my colleagues had received three steps, and that one of them at least, as my boss remembered it, had received fewer votes than I for those three steps.  I tend towards paranoia and this didn’t help.  Not only had I not received my secret pat on the back, I felt as if I had been slapped in the face, for what reason, I knew not.

And to top that off, because of my fatigue no doubt, I sent an email to my boss discussing my not getting a three step and pushed the wrong button I guess and sent the email to all of my colleagues.  So my slap in the face went public.

That was back in March and February, not long after WB died.


That’s a picture of my office at UCSB.  It must be from a few years ago because that’s a lexmark printer amid all the junk there, and now I have an HP.  That’s my trusty scanner to the left of the Lexmark.  Jeez, I must have gotten that thing back in the mid 90’s.

Punch Press

 The summer between junior and senior year of college, three of us rented an apartment.  I needed money for rent, so I went to the unemployment office per usual and picked up a job quickly at a punch pressfactory in Glendale for maybe 25 cents more than minimum wage.  The factory made earphones for headsets to be used by soldiers in Viet Nam.   Mostly women worked there doing the finely tuned digital stuff that women are supposed to be able to do well, soldering wires and the little speaker into a metal casing that was then covered with rubber.  I was hired to work with two Mexican American guys who were already there running a punch press.

Punch presses come in all shapes and sizes.  Our seven foot high jobs were run by a single operator.  You sat on the stool in front of the punch press, and in our case we then pulled, following a guide, a five inch wide strip of metal under the punch part of the press, and then you pushed a petal and the damn press would come down like with ten thousand pounds of force (crash!) and punch out the metal container that the electrical stuff would go into. Then you picked up the metal part and threw it into a container, and then you did it again, and again, and so on for eight fucking hours.

Working as a brick mason tender caused me great physical pain; working as an assistant manager of a Newberry’s Department store was an act of despair, but this damn machine was petrifyingly boring.  I couldn’t day dream because you had to busy your hands and be conscious of the machine or you might mash your whole hand.

Sometimes, I don’t know why, a young Mexican American woman with large breasts would work at a table across from me.  The press was in the way so I couldn’t see her face except now and then but when the press was up, as I adjusted the metal to its proper place, I could see her breasts.  So I would punch the press, up the press would go, I would look at the young woman’s breasts and then I would punch again.  Sometimes when I was looking, her movements would make her breasts sort of jiggle and that was a special treat.

The two Mexican American youths got through the day smoking grass.  They started at the 10 o’clock break, reloaded at noon, and topped it off at the afternoon break.  They were friendly and ask me to join them, but I was afraid to.  They would start to talking in Spanish and laughing (a universal language) and I would get worried they were going to crush their hands.  The smaller skinny one was already married and a father of two; they had been fucking around and he got her pregnant and that was that.  The other guy was sort of fat but he was engaged, he said, to be married.  I was astonished, but I was a college boy.

I always go to work.  That’s my training.  So I went to that job every day, but one day it was just killing me.  I started to get a stomach ache.  Actually I think I convinced myself that I had a stomach ache.  So I went to the boss and said I was sick to my stomach.  I expected him to be annoyed, but he wasn’t even that.  Then go home, he said.  I didn’t want to go home.  I was in some sort of moody despairing place.  So I got in my old Plymouth, went to Griffith Park and lay down on the grass near the carousel and lit up a number.

I don’t know if it was the grass or the day or just me but laying there but I remember feeling that carousel was about the saddest thing in the whole fucking world.

The Egg Factory

When I was getting low on money, I would go down to the unemployment office and look for a day job or temporary fill in work.  Once I got a job driving around and administering medical questionnaires to people out the boonies, and another time I got a job at an egg factory.  Many, many eggs and not a chicken anywhere in sight.  But the eggs were brought in on racks in big trucks.  Then they were cleaned because they had chicken shit all over them.  Then they were candled to make sure the eggs weren’t bloody or didn’t have a little chicken in them.  These eggs were sold to people who make cookies and stuff like that, so who knows, maybe every now and then a person gets a little ground up chicken embryo in a cookie.

Uuuummm, uuummm good!

Then the eggs were packed in big brown boxes because these particular eggs were being sent to feed the troops in Viet Nam.

The chicken factory was pretty far inland and hot.  I wasn’t there long enough to get to know the people; they were mostly women and Mexican Americans.  The main topic of conversation in the coffee room was how nobody could eat chicken any more.  Somebody would say, “I drove by this barbeque place and it smelled good.  But then I remembered it was chicken.”  Or:  “I haven’t touched a piece of chicken in a year.”  Or: “Even thinking about chicken makes me want to gag.”  I couldn’t quite figure it since there were no chickens there; but as I said the place was hot and was rank with the smell of chicken shit.

The other topic of conversation was the woman, who quite recently, got her hair caught in the conveyer belt and was scalped.  Contrary to popular belief, the act of scalping a person, though quite painful, does not kill a person, though I supposed if one remained scalped for very long infection would set in and one would die.  But they saved this woman’s scalp and they eventually got it back on her, though she had not returned to work.

I worked there for a couple of weeks I guess for minimum wage doing whatever they told me to do.  I helped unload the trucks.  The eggs came in flats that were stuck in racks that were about six feet high and had wheels on them, so you could push them around to where they had to go.  And I did a lot of sweeping and washing stuff down with a hose to keep down the stink.  I wanted to do the candling where you stood at the end of the line and a bright light would make the inside of the egg visible so you could tell if it had blood or not.  But I never go to do that job since it perhaps required an expertise I did not have.

One day, they had to move a truck away from the dock for some reason, and as they pulled it away, the truck went up a slight incline in the blacktopped lot, and all of a sudden rack after rack after rack of eggs came falling out of the back of the truck.  Somebody had forgotten to refasten the restraining chain.  Man what a mess.  The whole lot turned into a giant omelet and within a matter of minutes, it seemed, every fly within a square mile had gotten the message that plenty of food was available.  So I was sent out to hose and started to wash down the lot.

 I never saw the owner of the place.  It was run by the “foreman,” a skinny white guy who went around telling people what to do and how to do it.  When he saw that omelet, he went berserk.  He started swearing at the top of his lungs.  Spit came flying out of his mouth.  He picked up things and threw them.  H jumped up and down and pounded his feet on the pavement. He got red in the face and I thought he was going to have a fucking convulsion.  I had never seen anything like it.

I had heard the phrase “straw boss” and really hadn’t understood what it meant.  This guy was a straw boss; he gave orders like he was the boss, but the orders, whatever they were, really came from his boss.  He had no power but what his positioned conferred on him, and if things got fucked up, like with the omelet, he could scream and curse and maybe fire somebody, but he would be the one that ultimately got the shaft from his boss.  His fury arouse from his impotence.

Me, I hadn’t been anywhere near that particular truck.






Sore Feet

As assistant manager in training, my beat was the basement of the Newberry’s Department Store.  electroshockvpBy basement, I mean we were underground, not a window anywhere.  Above florescent lighting, below linoleum over concrete.  As a non-union, salaried, administrator I sometimes walked that floor, if they needed somebody to fill in, for 12 hours at a time.  Back and forth, up one aisle, down another, straightening this and organizing that: towels, bathrobes, pots, pans, wash clothes, draperies.   For ten, twelve hours at a time, with breaks running the cash register if we got backed up, which was very rare, or arguing with somebody who wanted to return a dress with huge sweat stains in the armpits (this was in the day before the consumer was always right), or going around with my trusty sticker gun and putting prices on things, or chasing around after a customer to tell him his fly was down because one of the worker ladies said it was down, and he should be told, or running a credit card and saying to its owner, “Onan, your name is Onan!  My that is an unusual name! Onan, I mean.”

I mean who the hell would name their male child “Onan.”

 And one night when I was going to do the late shift, the real assistant manager sidled up to me and said that the Manager had said that I should fire Suzi, the young woman who worked from 4 to 8, because she wasn’t doing her job.  So keep your eye on her, he said, and when she is screwing up, fire her, OK.  I thought that was pretty crappy.  I didn’t know if Suzi was a screw up or not because I didn’t usually work her shift.  The guy was passing off the nasty firing stuff to me, I expected.

I walked around all evening, circling Suzi like a vulture, looking for a moment when I thought she was really screwing around.  What the hell constitutes screwing up in a nearly empty store?  There weren’t any customers to be rude too and the stuff in her area was straightened up and neat.  Was I going to fire her for standing there looking so bored she had gone gaga?  So I didn’t fire her, and felt that right there my career in retail was over because I didn’t have the right stuff for firing people.  I was cool though the next day when the guy asked if I had fired her, “No,” I said, scratching my head, “I mean I never could find a time when she was messing around. I just couldn’t find a moment to pounce, you know.”  And made a little pouncing gesture.

One morning the crazy woman over in draperies and shades takes out two little American flags on wooden sticks and begins to wave them around and to blow one of those kazoo things like on New Year’s Eve when the ball comes down, and she launched into a version of God Bless America.  She had a little storeroom where she hid a lot and had a radio back there and had heard that they had just signed the Paris Peace Accords.  The war was over.

I didn’t know what she was going on about.  I guess she figured we had won that war although I couldn’t see how anybody could believe that.  But many people think we won the cold war and I don’t see how anybody can believe that either.

I was learning though.  In the fall, I was one of a couple of million Americans who voted for McGovern.  What did he win?  One state?  I sat in the break room with the old ladies who worked there, most on Social Security, so they could work only limited hours and still get their government money.  I was outnumbered.  They seemed to hate McGovern and the only reason they gave that I could understand was that he had a squeaky voice and sounded like a preacher.

I mean, good golly, gee whiz, but when a guy’s got a squeaky voice who gives a shit about his views on foreign policy?

A Career Move

As long as I was draft eligible, no employer with what might be called career jobs was going to look mission valley2at me.  I could be snatched by the US Army at any moment.  No sooner was anxiety about being drafted relieved, than it was replaced by an anxiety about what to do with myself in an ontological and economic sense.  I wanted money to get out of the hole, and I wanted a job with prospects.  I didn’t think about going back to school because that cost money and my recent endeavors in the realm of higher education had proven a bust.

I didn’t turn to human resources because I had been there already during my period of unemployment.  The unemployment office seemed to have notices only for the unemployable.  “Real” jobs were advertised in the newspapers.  But I wasn’t an engineer and I wasn’t in business; and men were not yet frequently hired for secretarial work.  I turned hither and thither and found nowhere to turn.

 My father had “contacts” only in the world of concrete, brick, and block.  We had further no family in the area that might have pointed me in a particular employment direct.  My mother, who did not drive and was a possible illegal alien, had zero contacts having not worked a paying job since WWII.  We had no family in the area. I knew that the children of some wealthy and influential people had gone to the college where I had gone, but I had failed to meet any of them.  They all were in fraternities and sororities; and I wasn’t.  They all went skiing; I never have.  I had gone to a tiny school.  The names of everyone in my graduating class could be put on the back of a t-shirt, and I had apparently only met a hand full.

In an act of desperation, I went to one of those places that finds a job for you and then takes all of your salary for the first two weeks.  I filled out the forms and within a week they called to say I had an interview.  This threw me into a panic.  I figured that I should wear appropriate clothing for the interview but I had none.  No suit, no dress slacks, no dress jacket, no tie, no shoes.  Underwear? Yes, I had that, as long as I was not required to strip and pee on demand.  So I borrowed stuff from my father, my brothers, and shoes from somebody that pinched.

I cut my hair; shaved my beard, and feeling about as awkward as a person could in my assembled ensemble did the interview.  A week or so later, I got a call saying I had been hired as an assistant manager in training at a Newberry’s Department Store.  I would get a salary and be set on a career track towards becoming one day the manager of my own Newberry’s Department Store

Knowing what I now know about myself, I can only think that I must have been still severely mentally disturbed when I said,  “When do I start?”


The shrink was not cheap.  Forty bucks a shot, not chicken feed adjusted for inflation.  So I had to make some money.

The old man got me a job as a brick mason tender.  Mostly I worked with him; I doubt if anybody else would have worked with me. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t get any faster or put on any muscle.  It was a job from hell, for about a year as I recollect.

A tender is the brick layer’s servant.  You get on the job and the first thing you do is start the cement mixer to mix up a batch of mud.  The worst thing that could happen was the mixer wouldn’t start and then you’d be playing catch up for the rest of the day.  I hated it when that happened.  With the mud going, you started carrying brick to the brick layer.  I used this device that allowed me to pick up ten at a time.  I’d lug them over and he would start putting up the outer shell of the fireplace.  You would continue lugging brick to the spot of the fire place.

After a bit the outer box would be about shoulder high and the bricklayer would go inside to make the firebox.  He usually mixed the mud for that.  Then I had to lug the firebrick inside.  While he was building up the firebox, you would start setting up the scaffolding.  The scaffolding was usually shit, all rusted and covered with concrete.  They you hoisted up three two by sixes for the bricklayer to stand on while he built up the outer shell of the chimney and stuck down the flu and filled in around it (requiring yet more mud).  Then you put up a mud board and heaved mud onto it and the brick layer would come out and start working on the outer shell again.

That was pretty much it; all day long.  Lugging brick, throwing up mud.  To get it to the top level of the scaffolding, I would stand on top of the wheel barrow, one foot on each outer edge and heave the mud up from there; otherwise it was hard to get it up to the top level.  You had to keep an eye on the mud.  When it started to run out, you mixed more.  When he was running short the brick layer would shout, “Mud.  Mud.”  And sometimes, he would shout, too dry, and you would go up with some water and slop it on the mud to make it easier to spread.

 And when you weren’t lugging brink, or mixing mud, or hoisting it, the bricklayer would have you rake the joints which you did with a joint raker and/or smoother.  This would go on for 8 hours a day, and the next day also for 8 hours, and so forth and so on, endlessly. And as I said, I didn’t get strong.  In fact I got weaker.

One day I had to work a retaining wall.  Just me, one tender, for three layers.  It was fucking impossible.  I ran my ass off carrying block; these were the whoppers, twenty five pound each.  It was, “Mud, Mud, Mud.” All day.  They had no mercy and since it wasn’t their job, no way they would help.  On the way home, my hands cramped up around the steering wheel.  I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to get my hands off the wheel if I needed to shift.  They had locked right up around the wheel.  It was a weird sensation.  But they loosened up after a bit.