Some Thoughts on Dancing With the Devil

or The Devil’s Due

Back in 1989 I was mesmerized by the question, “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” That question helped conjure a couple images for me when I read The Crucible a few years later. The first image is of young women dancing in a forest under a pale moon and it was innocent enough. The second image is one of a makeshift courtroom that accuses and condemns these young women of witchcraft, guilty or not

“Jack-Lanterns”

There are obvious appeals to dancing with the Devil (upper or lower case) but few consider the Devil’s due. Choices are made, words are spoken, and acts are carried out but consequences are often not considered. We think of the of allure of the pale moonlight but not of the condemnation of the court that follows. We live in a time long since Salem but has much changed? If you choose to dance, innocent or not, be prepared to find yourself in accused of witchcraft (or something of the sort), guilty or not.

-K-

The Coffee Shop Office

One Man’s Cuppa is Another Man’s Grind

I think of all the people who got to work from home during the course of the past year and a half and I get to wondering about those people who officed (yep, turning a noun into a verb) in public places. What happened to all those people who didn’t have an office space to work from to begin with and used coffee shops as their offices? Where did they work during the lockdowns and quarantines?

“Sales Pitch”

I won’t even try to estimate how many times I’ve gone to a local coffee shop for a cuppa and heard or saw somebody using the shop as an office. I’ve overheard and spied many a pitch, deal, hustle, and multi level marketing scheme at work while I drank overpriced, not so good coffee and read Walker Percy (or Lovecraft, or Parker, or O’Connor, or some other writer).

Many people are grumbling about going back to the office for work while others never left. Let’s take a moment to think about those who don’t have a set workplace, who don’t work from home, and who grind away at work where most of us go to relax.

-K-

Whistle While You Work

or Maybe Create a Playlist

The older I get the more things I seem to notice or maybe the more things just come into focus. One of the things I’ve noticed lately (or it has come into focus) is the importance music plays at work. What I mean is being able to listen to the music of my choice while working. I never gave it much thought so I took for granted how important it is.

I’ve worked a variety of jobs over the years. I considered pay, benefits, conditions, and a variety of other factors when searching and selecting work, but I never considered whether or not I could play music while I worked. As I look back at my long list of jobs the ones I liked the most allowed me to play music of my choice. From my first full time job in retail electronics where I brought in my Case Logic binder of Columbia House CDs (if you are of a certain age you know what I’m talking about), to the 5:00 am inventory/pricing job and my IPod Nano packed with all those one penny CDs, or my current job where I can play seven hours of Pandora playlists a day for my clients I’ve come to realize music makes the work day a little more enjoyable.

All those jobs that didn’t allow music made the days a little slower, a little greyer, a little less enjoyable. I’m not saying I’d take twenty-five percent pay cut or give up all my benefits just to be able to listen to music, but I do believe if you have to do a thing for eight hours a day then try to find something that makes those eight hours a little more enjoyable. Whether or not I can listen to music while I work is something that I’ve decided to add to the list of considerations when I make the move to my next job. What about you? Any special considerations?

-K-

Some More Thoughts on Warning Signs

or Knowing When to Stop

It’s hovering around 100 degrees out here in the Midwest, and I’m drinking my second cup of coffee while tapping away at a couple thoughts. It was my Pops who told me hot coffee on a hot day helps regulate the body temperature. I never asked where he picked up that bit of wisdom. Did he learn it growing up in Harlan County, while serving in the Army, or maybe while working as a chemical operator? With his passing the origin of that piece of advice is lost much like the origin of his advice about knowing when to stop.

“Stop Sign”

Pops warned me that there wouldn’t always be clearly posted stop signs throughout life. Sometimes I would have to use my best judgement, to realize that many individuals and institutions do not have my best interests in mind. He told me knowing when to stop, when not to follow, or when to go my own way wouldn’t be an easy skill to master but was one worth learning. Pops’ advice wasn’t unique. Most of us have been taught something similar at some time. But many of us (myself included) need to develop this skill now more than ever. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that warning signs abound and we often ignore them for one reason or another. Maybe we’ve become a little too complacent. Maybe we need to work a little harder at keeping an eye and ear out for those not so clearly posted stop signs.

-K-

Some Thoughts on Warning Signs

or What We See and What We Ignore

There is the before, the antecedent, the harbinger, and the posted point of no return. There are warning signs all around. Some are physical, some are mental, some are subtle, and others are so obvious you can’t miss them. Warning signs can come to us in the form of our own ‘spidey sense,’ as advice from friends, or from strangers who feel they know what’s best for us. Warning signs, we see them, hear them, and sometimes even feel them.

“No Smoking”

Warning signs abound. We can’t seem to go a day without seeing some sort of warning label. We can’t go a night without hearing a news station broadcasting some kind of dire warning. Maybe that’s why we don’t mind them, overlook them, or down right disregard them. Is it a defense mechanism, some sort of denial, a or maybe we are just desensitized to the vast number of warnings that bombard us on a daily basis. What is it about warning signs?

-K-

Gravity and Politics

or Borrowing Some Life Advice from the Tick

Politics is a lot like gravity. They both have a weight that may not be noticeable most of time but can be damn near unbearable some of the time. You can ignore both but you do so at your own peril. You may have an understanding of how both work but don’t really understand why they work, they just are. You may be thinking this is an interesting but what kind of advice can be taken from this comparison. The advice I have is borrowed from the creation of Ben Edlund.

“The Tick”

These three points comparing gravity to politics got me thinking about a line from the Tick, one of the great underrated comic book heroes of the 80s. The nigh-invulnerable hero said, “Gravity is a harsh mistress.” If you know the Tick you have an idea of what kind of situation lead to this statement (if you don’t know who the Tick is it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you left now and checked him out). I don’t think the Tick would mind if I substituted politics for gravity. Politics, like gravity, can be quite harsh and knowing this is good advice. I think the Tick would also add, “Spoon!”

-K-

Some Thoughts on Borrowing

and What We Pay Back

What do we borrow? Money will come to mind for most of us. If we haven’t borrowed money directly we’ve borrowed it in the form of car notes, mortgages, student loans, and other various lines of credit. But we borrow so much more throughout our lives than just money. We borrow time, favors, circumstances, and so many other things both tangible and intangible. We’re a society of borrowers, but what do we pay back?

“Sign Repair”

We pay interest on the money we borrow but what about the intangibles? What do we pay back on borrowed time or a friend’s good name? We’ve all borrowed. What do pay for that privilege?

-K-

The Return of Coffee Shop Hours

or Drinking Subpar Coffee on Fridays

Most of us have routines and rituals. One of mine is to spend an hour or so every Friday after work at the local bookstore’s café with a book and a cup of coffee. I’ve been going back there for last few Fridays now that the café is open to full capacity. Now that I’ve fallen back into that welcome routine I’ve discovered two things.

“Early Afternoon Thoughts”

The first thing I discovered is that a few moments alone (even in a crowded café) to decompress with a good book before heading home is invaluable. That hour or so allows me to leave work worries at one place before heading to the next. The second is that the coffee at the café sucks. They offer a passable brew, but a year of lockdowns had me experimenting with a variety of excellent brews and now I recognize that the coffee at several places I frequent is not good (and that’s a polite assessment). I don’t plan on changing my Friday routine (I value my coffee shops hours too much) but I’m wondering if I should try to sneak in my own coffee (hip flask in the movie theater style) and just leave a bigger tip.

-K-

You Can’t Fake Passion

At Least Not for Long

This is a follow up, a build, a clarification if you will to my last post. I still stand by the sentiment of that post, but I may have come off as a comic book snob. Maybe I am a bit of a snob when it comes to what I read but most people who take reading seriously usually are (or at least they should be).

“Joker”

In my last post I wrote that some people don’t really read comic books but what does that mean? All too often I’ve seen people read comic books simply because of the title (or title character) with no regard to who the writers and artists are, or they will read a title simply because a particular writer or artist is involved. Unfortunately there are too many writers/artists out there who have no real passion for the books and characters they are working on. These writers/artists may be looking to build a reputation, cross off an item on a bucket list, or have some other motive for involving themselves with a title. The one thing they do not bring to the title is passion. They may fake it for an issue or few but a close reading reveals a certain shallowness, no depth of character or story. No one can read a book that isn’t the result of the writer’s and artist’s passion.

When I tell somebody they haven’t really read a comic book it may be that they haven’t read a book that was written by somebody who was truly passionate about the title and the characters. Hell, maybe I need to tell people that they need to be a little more selective about their comic book choices, to be a bit snobbish. Then they will be able to read a comic book.

-K-

Rainy Day in a Cafe

The Joy of Getting Out to Sit In

Life has finally started to get into full swing out here in the Midwest. Businesses are open for full capacity, summer events are returning, and people are getting outside. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit in a coffee shop and get some work done (my home office space is starting to feel a little stale). So I grabbed some work yesterday and went to a local coffee shop with plans of sitting on the patio and editing some photographs. Then the rain came and forced me inside, but I didn’t mind.

“Rainy Cafe”

I posted “Wasting Away on a Rainy Day” back in May of 2019. It addresses how we can spend our rainy days. That post was pre-Covid, a time when going to coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants was a given, a time before lockdowns, limited capacities, and social distancing. This post is an addendum of sorts. My 2019 post stated that rainy days at cafes can be enjoyable and productive. I’d like to add that a rainy day in a café can be appreciated even more than it was a year and half ago simply for the fact that the cafes are open again. Instead of complaining about the rain, I saw it as an opportunity to get out of the house so I could sit inside a coffee shop for a couple hours and it was a couple of hours that were greatly appreciated.

-K-

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