matter and meeting

Invective against matter

Mass is a scam. For that matter, matter is a scam, a put-on by a demented demiurge, a trick bending of the substrate sent by the devil to piss us all off mightily. I should know, because myself and Die Schmutzige spent the long weekend stuffing and shoving matter into boxes also made of matter, and then shuttling all that lame matter over to a new apartment. It was all matter, it was all heavy, and every last gram of it had to be moved through space. And it took time. Three days of lifting, shifting, hauling, sweating, cramping, cleaning and finally going to the storage place at the edge of town to store the last of your ex-girlfriend's crap that you've had for three years and you're sick of looking at it time. I threw my back out. Rod threw up. Deron turned red. Schmutzie's blood ran with hot black bitterness. Aaron was too hungover from a pirate-themed party to show.

Why didn't we hire people to come and move all that matter for us? Schmutzie believes it was because we don't have mountains of cash. This is only true if you consider a mountain to be particularly big. We did have enough cash for movers to pack up our junk in three hours. The truth is that we are assholes who decided to starve the local moving and cleaning industries of revenue. Our local economy is poorer because of us, and we have no one to blame but, um, neoconservatives or something. No wait! Let me refer you to the original theme and blame matter. It's no wonder that so many people harbour those fond hopes of dropping the body off at death and leaping into another dimension as pure energy. It's soulerific! No more matter. Goodbye gravity! Time, off with you. You can have my old matter. It sucked anyway.

Now our new apartment is full of matter - the same stupid matter that threw out my back and stole the long weekend from us. Why are we inviting this matter into our new place? Because it has our coffee maker.

on the meeting

In my last job I was spared an excess of meetings. Usually they were small ad hoc affairs of two or three people, convened to address a particular issue and dissolved like spit in the wind. Every Wednesday we were forced to sit through a production meeting, but those usually functioned as a relief from the unending irritation of convincing my staff to go the extra mile for no money and less credit. Now I have come to the World of Meetings. Civil service is a theme park for office life, which is a metaphor I am not going to pursue. Flippy charts and Powerpoint shows, stuffy rooms all over the city, and grumpy folk who regard you with suspicion (after all, you are now The Gub'mint).

Beyond the scale of two-four people, meetings, I feel, accomplish nothing beyond the obligatory agreement to have a follow-up meeting. They have the feel of a high school pop quiz, in which you wonder if your expertise is suddenly going to be called on in ways for which you're not prepared and had never imagined. Nonetheless, the meeting is so central to office life that there are training sessions available on running effective meetings.

Running an effective meeting turns on one thing only: preventing boredom. Because meetings are boring. You sit and sit and listen and daydream and occasionally eat a donut. The lights are too bright, and then the projector starts up and you're offered darkness in which to doze. One of the topics in meeting effectiveness involves Powerpoint presentations. The only effective Powerpoint presentation is the one that gets dumped out the window, along with the illegible handouts and uninformative notes. I'd give my left toe for a meeting that put aside the Powerpoint and substituted an eloquent speaker at ease with the subject matter and confident enough to merit the attention of a roomful of semi-glazed crullers attendees.

That's right, I'd give my left toe. I've only got two.