John is half of the office help desk. He's tasked with keeping everything on this floor running. Daniel, the other half of help desk, is up on 11 and this story isn't about him so you can forget that he was ever mentioned.
John, while being a nice guy and all, is one of the least reliable worker's I've ever met. He rolls in around 11:30, rolls out around 3:00. He avoids his desk like lawyers avoid facts, claiming he needs to meet with vendors in Midtown or Chinatown or Bangkok or Aspropyrgos. When, somehow, conditions make it impossible for him to actually be away from his desk, he spends his few moments their talking on the phone to his family. He's an old school Arthur Ave. type New York Italian and, as far as I can figure, his immediate family includes some 14 million people.
Lately, John's been feeling some pressure from the PtB. Too many times he's been mysteriously absent when some computer crisis has befallen some field. Too many times a crucial meeting has been delayed because the PtB macro-entity was unable to remember how to work some mission critical bit of hardware. People, cynical and cruel as they are, have begun to suspect that their inability to reach John at any given moment of the day is not due to the fact that he is a dynamic whirlwind of tech-service action, but rather due to the fact that he is a slacker. People have begun to assume that if John is not at his desk, he is not at work.
To counter this growing perception, John came up with a dynamite PR coup. He placed above his near constantly empty cube a large sign that reads, "I am here." Under this usually paradoxical message, he has the date written. He updates at the end of every day, changing the sign to read tomorrow's date. In a way, I find his habit of predating the sign strangely life-affirming. It is as if John is saying that despite these uncertain times, regardless of tragedy the constantly strikes our lives and the chaos that incessantly overthrows even the adamantine ideals and beliefs, he, John, will be here tomorrow. As far as shoddy attempts to cover one's lazy ass go, I find this effort heart warming.
Sadly, it isn't working. First, nobody seems to believe John is actually behind the signs. Most think that Pete creates them in order to keep John out of trouble. A few have even suggested that Ollie or I have made them in order to underscore and satirize John's meticulous absenteeism.
People have offered John solutions to counter this perception. The most popular suggestion involves setting up some sort of video loop which would feature John holding up the front page of the NY Post and talking to the camera, like he was a kidnap victim providing proof that he was okay. This would definitively prove that John was, at least for a time, actually at his desk. However, John thinks the ability to predate signs is an essential to the entire project. The predating is it central theme. The video project, with its drab insistence on proof over conviction is, from John's point of view, is practically and philosophically unsound.
The second reasons for the sign's failure occurred at the conceptual level. Joan once explained it to him, "Nobody ever comes and asks if you're here. They come and ask where you are."
John seemed did not seem to register the comment. I think he's somewhat hurt by the notion that the PtB collective shows no interest in him being for beings sake, they apparently just want him around to fix computers or something.
I got my hands on a bottle of the Japanese citrus soda, Ramuné – and an odd bottle it is.
Ramuné comes in a clear glass bottle – at 6.76 fluid ounces, a bit smaller than the average American soda bottle. Though its slight size isn't what sticks out. The thing that really pops out is the "Codd-neck" design, a bizarre no-spill design named after its inventor, Hiram Codd. The Codd-neck bends inward to restrict the neck of the bottle to a nearly half inch opening. The neck then opens up again, with two small lumps one side of the bottle, placed just about where the neck begins to open again.
To open a bottle of Ramuné, you need to unwrap the shrink-wrap clear plastic that holds the yellow plastic cap to the top of the bottle. Remove the cap and you will see that the bottle is stopped up by a clear glass marble. To remove this marble, you snap a punch tool out of the middle of the yellow plastic cap. Then, you take the punch and push the marble down into the soda bottle. The marble will come to rest on the top of the pinched neck.
Now, as if opening the drink were not challenging enough, the next step is actually trying to get soda out of the bottle and into your mouth. The marble that is now rolling around inside your drink will roll to the top of the bottle and act as a stopper unless you hold the bottle in such a way that the marble gets caught between two small lumps I mentioned earlier. Once you see how it works, it is all pretty simple and straight forward. But it is still elaborately involved when compared to the operational procedures for your standard soda bottle.
The soda itself is a light, crisp drink. It has a delicate citrus taste up front, replaced by a slight bubble gum aftertaste. The soda is not, in and of itself, disappointing. Though, after the inventiveness of the bottle's design, to get such a conventional drink out of it is sort of an anti-climax. Still, that bit of thwarted expectation aside, the whole package is fun and worth getting at least once if only to play with the bottle.
Language geek note: According to folk etymology, the British inventor Hiram Codd is the source of the word "codswallop," supposedly a portmanteau word combining the inventor's last name and a late-19th century slang term for beer. Language experts doubt this origin story, pointing to the fact that the term did not become popular until nearly one hundred years after people stopped using "wallop" as a term for beer. They theorize that the word was coined by the writers of the popular British 1950s radio comedy show Hancock's Half Hour.
Couldn't sleep last night. Felt like I was going to explode into tears. Stress, I guess. I don't really have a reason.
I can't explain it.
The weather is nice. Things are okay. I've got nothing to be sad about.
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