Saturday, May 29, 2010


I have been working alongside my father in one form or another since I was about fourteen. At first, I was merely transcribing his scribbles into typed manuscript. As I became more confident, I began to correct the glaring spelling and grammatical errors. Later, I would flag him down to correct errors that were further outside my knowledge base and then I was well on my way to being his personal scribe and writer-of-all-things-written. Later he figured out that I was a rememberer of names-and-faces, phone numbers, ettiquette, and other useful tricks and we became a fast pair.

I took a little time off to go to college and graduate from same. I volunteered in a lab or two to gain some valuable expertise and then began teaching. Then two things happened. First, I needed to earn more money. Second, my father stared in a low-budget Wiltel Advanced Technology Group film entitled "Fundamentally."

Evidently he had gotten into a bit of a speech and presentation-writing rut. He started to ignore my first and most basic rule: never say the same thing the same way twice. He got so lazy about it that he began to overuse the word "fundamentally." So, the AV guys took copies of all the videos they had (we're talking years of video from 1989 through 1999) and took out every clip that included the word "fundamentally." They then spliced them all together and what resulted was the most hysterical twenty-three minutes of film you have ever seen. Dad must have said "fundamentally" every day, in every suit, in every state of the Union, in every sales convention, and even once while he scratched his nose rather thoroughly--they looped the nose one several times and it looked like he was drilling for gold.

So, viola! I was hired. And I have been ever since. Sometimes as a contractor. Sometimes as an employee. Sometimes as unpaid lackey. But always hired to keep him out of his "fundamental" vocabulary rut. I have other responsibilities as well given my scientific and computing background. A lot of technical design and analysis has come my way and I have had to learn it to earn my keep at times, but when it comes right down to it, I'm here to make us sound good and look good on paper...and if we open our mouths.

This can be a challenge. I have trained Dad. Clanpaw is a whole other story. His writing technique is, well, hideous. He switches ideas mid-sentence, spells phonetically, writes using sentence fragments, and frequently skips a step in step-wise explanations. Usually, he omits things when explaining some things I know nothing about. I know its missing, but I couldn't fill in the missing information to save my life. He starts sentences with "and" and "but." He concludes them with prepositions. He uses italics and quotations indiscriminately and has a penchant for rhetorical questions. Last but not least, he's a drama king. An interesting feature becomes a "diamond in the rough." Geologic areas that have yet to be explored aren't "yet to be explored," they've been "historically shunned!!!" Like lepers I guess? And he takes every opportunity to use the phrase "tested with the drill"--usually several times in each paper. Today, one of our exhibits, a map to be exact, was providing "taunting evidence!!" And, no, I did not add the exclamation points...he did. Both of them. It almost defies correction or taming into modern language. What is the modern equivalent of "taunting evidence?" It almost requires dramatic musical interludes and overtones for proper interpretation. I could easier turn it into a comic strip:

Radio Voice: "Exhibit 2 rises up not as significant evidence of structural trapping, but of stratigraphic trapping it provides taunting evidence!!" (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUHHHHHHHH.....)

And for all I know, that may be how he would present things if he were left up to his own devices. As it is, he's unhappy with the fact that he doesn't get to talk as much as he wants to. That is a whole other story.

So, for now, we are in the writing, selling, drumming-up-of-investors stage of our business. The part I, personally, find the most distasteful. Begging for money has never been my strong suit, though I can do it with the best of them. There's just something distasteful about it as part of the whole process. Research, investigation, conducting surveys, processing, interpretation, and even leasing are interesting parts of this business. Finding investors to fund it all is not always the hard part, but it's definitely the most precarious.

No matter what the stage of the business, though, there is always a load of writing to do. Articles, booklets, proposals, releases, speeches, presentations, prospect reports, teasers, confidentiality agreements, nondisclosures, etc. etc. A person could go blind on the paperwork that's require with any technical job these days. Not to mention just the notes I have to keep that remind me what I've done in a single day and my results, progress, etc. Then, of course, there are the notes I keep for Dad and Pawpaw....hours, projects worked on, blah blah blah.

And then for fun I write a blog. Huh.

Squib finally fell asleep last night after several hours of "I neeeeed you, mama!" Buddy and I consoled him off and on to no avail. Eventually, he just passes out with exhaustion and the torment is over. If I knew what to do to get him back to his happy bedtime self, I would do it!

Beanstalk is safely ensconced in his cast. His entire left leg from ankle to thigh is casted as a result of his broken femur. Fortunately, the swelling was such that he could be casted which marks the beginning of the true healing. Twelve more weeks to go on that front. Yay! Let the countdown begin! We are, apparently square with the school again regarding what "safety precautions" actually means. They have all now witnessed a breakdown in protocol of epic proportions followed by the wrath of Beanstalk's Dad, so they are toeing the proverbial line and all is "Yes, ma'am...Yes, sir." As it should be, I suppose. What incredible stupidity, I must say. Take his braces off and let him run about on a concrete floor until his femur fractures...yeah, that sounds like fun...then hide behind a permission slip. Poor child is now NOT permitted to go on any field trips until such a time as we can be sure he will not be broken on purpose due to gross negligence. Not my words.

We shall have the last of our squash and zuchini shortly! We put in a huge plot of it where we lost that huge stand of pine trees earlier this year. Now they are finally nearing harvest. If we can keep mom from plucking them off the plant before they are ready, then we'll have some tasty veggies soon! A little later on we'll have still more okra! It seems to be growing slowly, though we can't really figure out why. We planted it in series just as we did last year, but this last planting is growing much more slowly for some reason.

Last, but not least we have a cracked pipe going down into our water well. Bah, humbug. We are puzzling over a method to fix this ourselves, though I am crying "Hire a repairman!!!!!" (THOSE exclamation marks are MINE!) Until it is fixed, we risk contamination of our well through the crack in the pipe. drinking from the faucet or using it for food prep, teeth brushing, or ice cubes. What an enormous pain in the keester. It's times like these that my dreams of owning a Big Berkey surface. We have occasion to need such a filtration device at least three times a year. Sad, but true. Welcome to the sticks and to my grandfather's preference for only kinda fixing things and then only with parts we have on hand that have been used before. Ugh.

IF my grandfather ran KFC, his motto would be "We do chicken right...most of the time." He'd want to put a disclaimer on every add saying: "We like to keep reusing our oil 'cause it's cheaper and 9 out of 11 herbs and spices is ok 'cause that's cheaper, too. We'll end up making more money that way." But he'd never admit that he'd lose money 'cause people like fresh fried chicken with the original recipe. Dad would have to come along and browbeat him for an hour into doing things the right way. OR he'd have to lose money for at least a year before he fixed the problem. After all, this is the man who though $700 electric bills (for a 2000 sq. ft. house) were normal and refused to have the AC looked at cause he'd "never had a lower bill while he'd been in this house."

We frequently (and jokingly) use the phrase "If it's broke, don't fix it."

Dear Lord, please help me outlive my grandfather...

No comments:

Post a Comment