Manual typewriters contained a bell that rang to signal the coming of the end of a line. The typist could adjust where along the line the bell might ring. Shorter lines…Longer lines. The faster typist increased the frequency of the bells one heard. When the bell rang, the typist had but a few strokes left before reaching up with left hand to push the typewriter carriage return lever to the far right to reset the type guide at the left margin of the paper to begin a new line.

I got a new job, in a large, corporate office, flying paper airplanes. During the day, the three story building housed around 500 employees sitting at grey metal desks. There were a few managerial secretaries with typewriters. The rest of us used the typing pool. All you had to do was pick up your phone, dial the typing pool extension, and, when you heard the bell, begin dictation. Finished, you could let the piece fly, or ask that it be delivered to your desk via the office mail to proof and return to the pool or place in the outgoing mail.

There was a procedure for just about everything. New procedural bulletins arrived regularly. Some updated older bulletins or clarified procedural details. Others introduced new procedures. Sometimes, a section meeting would be devoted to reviewing a new procedure before its effective date. In short order, most procedures were memorized, but employees also stuck notes around their desks to remind themselves of key procedural steps. For procedures that never became part of routine, one referenced a procedural manual, which was an encyclopedia of procedure bulletins, collected by category and number. Employees also made notes in these manuals, and flagged the most frequently referenced pages.

The mailroom was located in the basement. The mailroom employees were also heavily burdened with procedures. The cafeteria was located on the top floor, and afforded views of the surrounding area, which included a freeway interchange. There was a patio on one side of the cafeteria, with tables with chairs and umbrellas, where one could take a coffee or sandwich and enjoy the fresh air.

There were procedures for evacuating the building, in case of emergency, initiated by the ringing of signal bells over the public address speaker system. These bells also controlled the start and end of the work day as well as the start and end of break and lunch periods. The workday started at 7:30, signaled by the single ring of a bell. Employees were expected to be seated and working at the bell; otherwise, they might be considered tardy. This was explained in the Personnel Procedure Manual. Employees took breaks in shifts, so that no section or department was ever completely idle. Morning breaks ran from 9:30 to 9:45 and from 10:00 to 10:15. A bell signaled the beginning and ending of each break. Thus four bells would ring at fifteen minute intervals. Lunch break was 45 minutes, and ran from 11:30 to 12:15 and 12:15 to 1:00. An efficient three bells sufficed. In the afternoon, four bells rang again for breaks, beginning at 2:30 and ending at 3:15. A final bell rang at 4:30 and the building quickly emptied, faster than for a fire drill.

By procedure, the secretaries placed dust covers over their typewriters at the end of the workday.


Round ears curl silver coils of sounds,
across nose stands glass bridge in worm-fog,
always under construction.

Every sense a degree, and digression, and distraction.

This is technology:
rubber sneakers, cotton threads,
titanium screw implants capped
with fool’s gold.

Then that hardened heart
lumbering loose without nails
full of sloth a snail’s shake
ebbs & flows fickling & flicking
comes & goes riding the tides
like a pickle on smooth ocean
swells rising then falling
oily muscle lifting and dropping
off to sleep, surly salty
heart pickled in hope chest,
just like a human heart.


is it? is it? is it?
what time is it?
the cricket asks

the night notes call
a view of space with
ornamental lights

near like the cat
hiss skin rips
claws a violet sky
saturates maroon
the cauliflower
cumulus moon

this squall passes
as does this darkness
the outdoor words
drift over the river
as the last cricket replies

is it? is it? is it?
time to get
out of bed yet?

The Cat Music Critic

The Cat Music CriticI’ve noticed when I pick up the guitar and the cat Zoe is hanging out, she’ll scurry off to a quieter corner. Cats have excellent ears.

Yesterday, home from the afternoon music theory class I’ve been taking, I organized my notes and handouts, reviewing each page. I left the pages in neat piles on the dining room table.

This morning, I go to resume my music musing, and what do I find but the cat music critic’s overnight review – Zoe had barfed over my notes.

Cats are excellent communicators. I’m glad she doesn’t tweet.

One Page Guitar Scales and Chords

There are of course already a near infinite number of guitar fretboard studies available, and scads of 5,000 Guitar Chords and Scale books. What’s unique about this spreadsheet I put together is that it’s a one page reference. It helps if you first memorize the fretboard notes, but from there the “number system,” probably a simplification of the “Nashville system,” provides an efficient map for chord and scale fingering possibilities. I also wanted to learn how to attach a .pdf file to the blog. Click link below and check it out.

One Page Guitar Scales and Chords


Triad Inversion Study for Guitar

Place root note of chord on selected fret and use the number system to play triads moveable along the fretboard as indicated. Raise 5 to augment. Flat 3 for minor. Flat 3 and 5 to diminish.

1st R 3 5
2nd 5 R 3
3rd 3 5 R
2nd R 3 5
3rd 5 R 3
4th 3 5 R
3rd R 3 5
4th 5 R 3
5th 3 5 R
4th R  3 5
5th 5  R 3
6th 3  5 R

Summer Notes: 6 – Vinyl Eve

Ray on
Polly & Ester over
Shell lack, the beach so far
It’s a Beautiful Day
for the Blues.

His story film earlier
Text I’ll yarn
Den I’m hep
Woe vane
All dyed felting.

More hair
Flee C
Mad as a more curious
a chord eon.

Summer Notes: 5 – A Blues

In the morning, when the sun comes up
In the morning, when the sun comes up
In the morning, when the sun comes up
Give thanks for this cup of coffee.

In the evening, when the sun goes down
In the evening, when the sun goes down
In the evening, when the sun goes down
Ballyhoo this cold glass of beer.

At midnight, when the moon comes out
At midnight, when the moon comes out
At midnight, when the moon comes out
Laud, laud the light.

Earworms Again

I hear tiny sounds roar like catapults through chasms. I hear dust flakes turning as they fall through the air in my room and hit the floor with a bang and spin and crash into one another like bumper cars until they each finally settle into some tiny cavern in the cracking oak floor, while another dust storm, activated by the sneeze of a moth near the ceiling, already spins out of control, howling across the room’s stormy air.

I didn’t always hear things so closely. I was a fairly inattentive listener. That is to say, I was not constantly berated for being a poor listener. When the fickle finally realize what they just said, they’re happy you weren’t listening.

I wasn’t born with the huge ears now hanging from my now bald head, ears that sprout sprouts and fungi.

Did she say I was bald? I am not bald. My hair is as robust as the oak leaf, and as glossy green. I’m not sure what has turned it so green. My hair used to be yellow. Too much blue mixed in over the years.

Words hover at my ears like siege engines threatening the gates of paradise. She brings words to me. A single no in one ear splits my skull. A melodious perfumed yes rises and fills my head like a muddy wave. My asymmetrical hearing has me looking this way and that at the walls and the corners, wondering where these words are coming from.

Even as I write these words with a pencil in a notebook, I must wear earmuffs. Music? Surely you are up to some vile jest with that word. They will be here soon. We should prepare some snacks, cheese and bread, set out a couple of wines. Is there any of that red left from last night? It was a light and pleasant red. By the swallow you already forgot. Not like this morning’s coffee. What a dreadful burden coffee has become, so thick, sulfur. And what it does to the whole system, like eating a plate of butterflies with a spoon.

So, I’ve been at it again, this writing business. Well, not a proper business, of course (I hasten to add for the severe critics ready to jump their seat), this, in any case, not a profitable business. But what is profit? And what profits a man? Unless one considers the profits of emissions never (insert whatever adverb you’d like) to return.

If one could only write the final emit. Hit the send button one last time and be done with it. Send. How easy is that? Not like the return bar. Grab, pull, slide, and “ding!” That pecking order. Still, then there was at least the bottom of a page, and the roller, and the wad up, and the ball game with the trash can. How absurd now though these bottomless pages. Go on forever, you let them.

Delete not the same as emit. Delete and it was never there. Emit and there’s the refuse. Signs. Like reading tea leaves. She used to read my tea leaves. Trace my palm. Didn’t care where I came from, where I might be going. We went for walks, happily empty. Do you remember we used to run around barefoot?

No sound was too loud in those days. The world was acoustic, the breeze, the trees, the small waves asking for some beach to rest and relax.