Sunday, October 14, 2007

e-mail culture and the company observer

I've been working at a law firm just long enough, now, to notice some of the odd cultural differences. One of the bigger ones is e-mail. Every place I've worked before, e-mail was something you used for lower priority messages, things that didn't need to get handled right away. You generally knew when the person on the other end would get into the office, so you could send them e-mail, say, on a Saturday when you were thinking about it and figure they'd get to it Monday morning.

Not here, though. You see, they issue everyone Blackberries. And that means everyone's plugged into e-mail constantly. And that, in turn, means that they treat e-mail just like a phone call. If you e-mail someone at some unfortunate hour of the night or day, they tend to get back to you right away. And that means it's poor form to dash off a message on Saturday just because that's when you happened to think of it.

This will take some getting used to. I guess I'll have to start e-mailing those Saturday inspirations to myself, instead.

don't write like my brother

The Car Talk guys often sign off with "don't drive like my brother, 'cause if you do, the end of your dipstick might fall off."

I was refilling Snardblott, the Pen of Doom tonight. As I held the adapter and twisted back the plunger to suck up ink, there was a sudden kerplonk, and the entire nib fell off into the (formerly) full bottle of ink. Not just any ink, mind you, but a jar of Noodler's Blue-Black. Which comes in tall, skinny jars. And is almost, but not quite, permanent.

Needless to say, a messy episode ensued. After cleaning up what'd already dribbled, I wound up pouring about half the ink into an empty jar. (Always keep your empty ink jars, 'cause you just never know when you might need one.) Then, after scratching my head for a bit, and wondering why I let the lady at the store talk me into using a non-threaded Waterman adapter when the old, worn-out adapter of the same size had threads on the end, I hit upon the bright idea of using a pair of bamboo chopsticks to fish the nib out of the jar.

Now, I'm pretty decent with a set of chopsticks. Back in college, I used to play the "pass the ice cube" game with the best of them. But I'll tell you, trying to fish a nib set in a round, smooth, cylindrical housing, immersed in inky blackness, through the neck of a tall, skinny jar, is not a challenge I'm eager to tackle again in the near future. I eventually got the sucker out, but not before picking up several blue fingertips for my trouble. And the old trick of washing your hands with shampoo doesn't take this stuff out--as I said, it's nigh permanent.

And to think just a couple days ago I was about to try one of Noodler's bulletproof inks, the ones that are permanent and will stand up to pretty much anything short of dissolving the paper out from under them.