Dr. StrangeJob: Borin’ Again!

Ok, I admit it, it was a poorly executed gag. My last post, The Dearth of Dr. StrangeJob, was the prelude for a joke with the punchline “Dr. StrangeJob: Borin’Again!”. Initially, I had no setup for the joke, all I had was the tagline. I just thought the phrase “Dr. StrangeJob: Borin’ Again!” would be a funny blog title. But a punchline requires an effective setup. That’s when I decided to write a faux obituary. If I was going to be borin’ again, an obvious pun on born again, then I needed something to be born again from.

I posted the fake obituary and purposely went dark for two weeks. The silence was meant to be part of the joke. Some readers assumed the obituary was my way of saying that Dr. StrangeJob was to be no more. I received emails and posts of condolences over the demise of Dr. StrangeJob, but not a single FREE T-shirt in the lot. As for my two-week self-mourning period, I don’t think anyone actually noticed that I had gone.

I did, however, get scolded for misspelling death as dearth and angels as angles. I guess I was too obscure again. The irony of my worst joke ever debacle is that I had also overlooked the need for content to include with this punchline blog. Oops!

So, here’s another confession. Although born of bureaucratic frustration, Dr. StrangeJob: Or How I Learned to Stop Raging and Embrace the Bull, was conceived as a social media training vehicle for another project. Dr. StrangeJob was a short-term learning exercise in branding that I would apply to a consulting business that I had been developing.

But something interesting happened in the theatre of life. Kurt Vonnegut once quipped that we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. I now understand what he meant by that statement. Recently, I wrote a short screenplay that I will be discussing in a future blog. The film centers around a senior man who travels 40 years back in time to meet his younger self during a pivotal moment in his life. The scene is not autobiographical, but writing it required that I put myself back into my mindset at the age of 20. It was an enlightening experience.

Upon reflection, I realized that I was in the midst of a transformational experience. Perhaps it was the ageing process, the catharsis of writing, or the act of removing myself from a potentially toxic work environment, but I believe I am gradually returning to a truer self. An earlier self that had been diverted in the theatre of life while pretending to be a systems analyst, educator, and manager.

Maybe I have been born again. On the other hand, perhaps I’m just being boin’ again.

Dr. StrangeJob

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The Dearth of Dr. StrangeJob (2015-2017)

After a long and courageous battle with incompetents, Dr. StrangeJob succumbed to the view that nepotism, cronyism, treachery, and incompetence will always overcome decency, humility, honesty, and competence. He has been passed over and is now living with the angles.

Dr. StrangeJob forced himself on the world on February 27, 2015 with the following simple but pathetic prophetic tweet: This is what happens when the Peter Principle collides with Kurt Vonnegut and Stanley Kubrick. Since that humble beginning, he unleashed a wrath of blogs, tweets, and Facebook comments the likes of which the world has never seen. In fact, at last count, very few have seen. To be honest, without the prudent use of the “refresh” key, even fewer have actually seen.

In search of a home with transparency, he found little solace in a city of opacity. In life, he sought to bring light to the dearth of competence in local politics. In passing, he hopes to safeguard his legacy in the annals of the literary world, rather than becoming a mere footnote in the anals of satirical literature.

In recovery, he fought against incompetence but had to do it stunned.

As a recovering incompetent, he lived his life one gaffe at a time, cherishing the comfort and support received from fellow travesties in Incompetents Anonymous, the world’s first 12+1 self-help group. Throughout life, he sought through pen and mediation to thwart those that ruled through fear and intimidation. In passing, he hopes the heroes he leaves behind will continue to shed light on inequality by continuing to fight the good fight.

In typical Incompetents Anonymous fashion, no arrangements were made for his passing. As in life, in passing he raised just enough stink to force authorities to address the issue. In life, he often found himself on the wrong side of a burnt bridge, and so, in passing, he has also been burnt. A special thank you goes to the kind folks at “Garbage Haul and Burn” for their expeditated service.

He leaves behind friends in the IA Fellowship, enemies in local politics, and survivors in spirit in CBLA-InComps. A celebration of his strife may take place for those touched by his satirical pen, but he expects no societies of social justice to be created in his name.

Like his social media sites, there will be no visitations. In lieu of donations, feel free to send free t-shirts here, Facebook likes here, or Twitter followers here. Online condolences may be made at www.drstrangejob.ca.

Dr. StrangeJob

In the name of the blog, of the Twitterverse, and of the worldly web. – Blessing of Dr. StrangeJob

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Joint Custody: A misplaced stash of marijuana and a complex father

A repost in honour of Father’s Say.

Dr. StrangeJob went to high school in the mid-seventies. Coincidently, that was the same time that marijuana became the recreational drug of choice for many in his age group. To suggest that the Doctor was a pothead would be a tenuous overstatement, but he does concede there were a number of purple haze high-school daze not totally accounted for. Yes, he inhaled.

Arriving home from school one day, he was confronted by his mother in an extreme state of agitation, waving a baggie of pot that she found in the laundry basket. To be fair, she may have been quite calm at the time. To be honest, since the Doctor was slightly buzzed, what he saw was more like the Tasmanian devil on crack gesticulating a baggie full of weed and pointing accusatorily.

He told her that it was not his pot, but to no avail. They decided to wait until his father arrived home from work to continue the conversation, but she assured the Doctor that there would be hell to pay.

The Doctor’s father was a welder at the local steel plant. He put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, so he was both tired and startled when met at the door by his wife still waving the baggie of marijuana. His father was always quick on his feet, but the side-glance he gave to his son was most telling. Two things became abundantly clear: First, it was the father’s weed that was found in the laundry. Second, the father was about to be in bigger shit with his wife than his son could ever possibly be with his mother. The look on his face said it all, but what happened next surprised father, mother, and son.

The young Doctor, in an Oscar worthy performance, admitted the pot was his and took full responsibility for his actions. The father, in another Oscar worthy performance, provided a sternly worded sermon on the ills of drug use whilst handing out punishment that appeased his wife, but not overly chastised the son.

The father took the son aside a few days later and provided him with a learning script that he follows to this day: If you are being thrown out of town, then get in front and make it look like a parade in your honor. The Doctor was grounded for two weeks. The father, on the other hand, had to flush his weed down the toilet.

Happy Father’s Day. I am not sure where you are, but here’s hoping that you are happy and high.

Watch my standup version of this routine from 2016.

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Ode to D.J. and the drunk tank – it’s still about black and white

That police man said, “Mister Cool, if you ain’t drunk, then you’re a fool.”
I said, “If that’s against the law, then tell me why I never saw a man locked in that jail of yours who wasn’t just as lowdown poor as me?” – Kris Kristofferson

Listening to The Best of all Possible Worlds by Kris Kristofferson always reminds me of an old friend and the night we received free lodgings courtesy of the local police constabulary. Although we were both in an illegal state of mind at the time, I believe it was the song, actually me paraphrasing the song to a police officer, that resulted in our overnight stay in the drunk tank.

D.J. and I were having a few at his place and ran out of mix and munchies. We should have called it a night, but we foolheartedly decided to take our last drinks, plus a few doobies, for a walk to the corner store for pop and snacks. On route, we stopped at a nearby park for a break but stayed until we finished our drinks and joints. At that point, we decided to call it a night and head back to his place to crash.

When we left the park, we were met by two police cars with blaring sirens and flashing lights. Apparently, the police had been watching us and had decided that the two puny long-haired kids having a toke in the park were being a menace to society. Fortunately, being the conscientious young men we were at the time, we had carefully placed our empty bottles in a garbage bin and had also ensured that any remnants of marijuana were in us rather than on us. As a result, the ensuing police search found nothing that could be construed as evidence of juvenile delinquency.

We almost talked ourselves out of the situation, but then I decided to do my worst ever Kristofferson imitation by asking if they had anything better to do than pick on a couple of hippie kids having a bit of fun. That was when someone turned out the lights, and we wound up in jail to spend the night.

But this post is not about youthful discretions or lost glory days. This post is about prejudice, inequality, discrimination, and profiling. It’s also about the sad realisation that our societal prejudices of yesteryear are still with us today.

I recently discovered that Kristofferson had been asked to change the words of his song when it was recorded in 1969. The verse, I never saw a man locked in that jail of yours who wasn’t just as lowdown poor as me, was originally written as I never saw a man locked in that jail of yours who wasn’t neither black or poor as me. That was then, and this is now: The poor are getting poorer and non-whites are being carded, hated, and misunderstood. In 1969, Kristofferson was talking about the prejudices of the time. In 2017, we continue down the road of hate.

I may have lost touch with my friend D.J. and my days of youthful discretion are only distant memories, but the lyrics of Kristofferson’s song still hold true. We are not where we should be, but I am still dreaming for the best of all possible worlds.

March 21, 2017
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Dr. StrangeJob

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Dr. StrangeJob enters the terrible twos

Happy Birthday to me! Dr. StrangeJob forced himself on the world on February 27, 2015, with the following simple, but pathetic prophetic tweet: This is what happens when the Peter Principle collides with Kurt Vonnegut and Stanley Kubrick. It’s birthday number two, and a chance to review last year and take a glimpse forward to next.

Although I survived my first-year birthday celebrations, this last year was a bit of a hit and miss. My Anonymous Goes to the Legion video was a Facebook success, accumulating 17.3 thousand views, but managed a measly 480 views on YouTube.  Although the Doctor is slowly building a Facebook presence with over 31 thousand likes, he has only 69 followers on Twitter. Hurray for Facebook, not so much for Twitter or YouTube. Perhaps I shouldn’t’ have called Twitter followers Twittlers or YouTube users YukTubbies.

My attempt at stand-up was simultaneously well documented and rarely viewed on the Dr. StrangeJob YouTube channel. Although presented with a Like Award for opines on workplace culture, corporate accountability, and municipal politics from goCapeBfreton.com, I was subsequently censored by that site for using the term bullshit in one of my posts. Not to be daunted, Dr. StrangeJob started writing a satirical political column for the Cape Breton Spectator, until I lost my political chops when blocked from running in the local municipal election.

Maybe next year will be better, or will it become a case of the terrible twos?  If I learned anything from year one, it is that failure is always an option. Now that I know what doesn’t work, I will search out new venues in which to mess up even further. As my Father would say, “If you’re being thrown out of town, then get in front and make it look like a parade in your honour.”  With that in mind, watch for the Doctor’s new mini-panel webcomic, Annals of IA, which will chronicle the trials and tribulations of a local chapter of Incompetents Anonymous. Also, coming very soon is the first in a series of short stories that follow the antics of the Cape Breton Liberation Army – Intelligence and Competence Squad (CBLA-InCompts). The first chapter of CBLA-InCompts is going to raise a bit of a stink.

Dr. StrangeJob

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Four coordinators, an IT service call, and an AB switch

There were approximately 40 employees in the information technology (IT) department when I was hired, but downsizing had dwindled the staff count to under 20. The department had recently been through a reorganization when I took a service call from the secretarial pool. The client wanted to use their local printer to print documents from either their personal computer or the online corporate accounting system. My solution was to install an A/B printer switch at their workstation. The switch would allow the client to direct output from either their workstation (switch set to A) or online (switch set to B). Unfortunately, what I thought was a simple solution turned into a classic example of organizational inefficiency.

I first discussed the A/B switch solution with the Coordinator of Data Communications, and he agreed to provide the A/B switch. As we were discussing implementation plans, the newly minted Coordinator of Data Administration & Micro Systems joined the conversation and informed us that neither the Coordinator of Data Communications or I had the authority to make the final call on the A/B switch because he was in charge of microcomputers. As he saw it, the A/B switch would be installed on a personal computer, and that made the decision his sole responsibility.

The discussion started to get heated and caught the attention of the Coordinator of Computer Operations who joined in on the discussion. After filling him in on the situation, he noted that the A/B switch would require computer cables, that all computer cables must be made by one of his computer operators, and that he would need to be consulted on the project. At this point, I was politely informed that any further discussion on the A/B switch was above my pay grade (I was a lowly systems analyst) and that they would deal with it at their administrative level.

Two weeks later, I was approached by the client asking for an update. In follow up, I discovered that the issue was still being discussed, but that the three coordinators could not agree on who had the final authority to move the issue forward. However, the Coordinator of Data Communications had requested a meeting with the Director of Information Technology, along with the other two coordinators, to make a final decision on the service call. My office was down the hall from where that meeting took place. At one point, the discussion became boisterous, prompting the Director to step out of the meeting to ask the Coordinator of Systems Development & Support (my supervisor) to join their discussion.

The outcome of the meeting was to have the Coordinator of System Development & Support assign one of her team the task of reviewing departmental protocol on the use of printer A/B switches. You guessed it; she assigned me the task.

I will not repeat what I said to my supervisor when she assigned me the task, but when I arrived home, I told my wife that I was ashamed that my taxes were helping to pay my salary. I left the company about six months later, and the A/B box was still not installed.

printer-ab-switch

Dr. StrangeJob

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TRIPE, narcs, raid, and a case of crabs

Memories of Sydney Academy, the birth of a cunning linguist, and a homage to a teacher affectionately called  “Wild Bill”.

Standup routine of my  Genesis 72: Tripe and the birth of a cunning linguist blog taped in front of a 19 and over crowd.  Some language may offend.

Dr. StrangeJob

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Genesis 83: What I learned in Art’s class

Academics continue to argue about the value of a liberal arts education, while universities continue to witness plunging enrollments in Humanities programs. The current decline of Humanities in post-secondary institutions has caused the Doctor to ponder the true value of his own education. Although the Doctor has had many valued educational learning experiences, the one most relevant to this discussion is the life-lesson learned from his midterm test on an “Introduction to Programming” course back in 1983.

The test was a fairly straightforward two-part assignment. Part “A” presented a typical business accounting problem, and the student was required to write the solution using the course’s programming language. Part “B “of the test presented a similar business problem, but this time the student was required to produce the “program logic flowchart” for the solution, rather that the actual programming code. The test problems were somewhat challenging, but the Doctor instinctively knew that his answers were 100%. That is why it came as a shock when he received his midterm back with a score of ZERO. Needless to say, he was first in line at the instructor’s office to question his failing score.

The instructor agreed that the Doctor’s programming solutions to both problems were indeed correct. So why the ZERO? The instructor explained that the key to solving problems was understanding the true nature of the questions, and, more importantly, following instructions properly. My costly mistake was providing a program flowchart for the question that required computer code, and computer code for the question that required the logic flowchart. Hence, I did not read the instructions properly, I performed the wrong function, and my test paper was worth ZERO.

A life-lesson learned from Instructor Art M’s programming course: Learn how to effectively read and understand basic instructions. But that was not the only lesson gained from taking Art’s class. Apparently, at that point in my education, I not only lacked the ability to effectively read instructions, I was also not able to differentiate an “A” from a “B” on the midterm test questions. In other words, my education was lacking in languages and letters.

The inHumanity of it all!

Ode to Humanities or first they came …….

First they came for Religious Studies, and I did not speak out because I did not teach Religious Studies.

Then they came for Philosophy, and I did not speak out, because I did not teach Philosophy.

Then they came for Language Studies, and I did not speak out because I did not teach Language Studies.

Then they came for the rest of the Humanities, but there were no tenured faculty left to speak for any of us.

Dr. StrangeJob

 

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Genesis 72: Tripe and the birth of a cunning linguist

The Doctor just finished reading about a High School newspaper that was censored over an article on the smoking of a distilled version of marijuana known as “dabbing”. This new trend certainly puts a novel slant on the “little dab’ll do ya” slogan of my early school days, but it also had me reminiscing about my involvement in my high school newspaper back in the early 70s.

I decided to do a bit of dabbling during my freshman high school year and joined the student newspaper, which was appropriately titled “TRIPE”. The staff selected the title because of its double entendre of an edible offal from the stomachs of various farm animals or slang for writing that is false, worthless, or just plain rubbish. As guessed, some of the staff members eventually became vegetarians. Others, on the other hand, became purveyors of pungent paraphrases.

Needless to say, the first edition of Tripe was not without controversy. One of the more contentious articles featured step-by-step assembly instructions for a water-pipe designed solely from components “freely” available in any high school chemistry lab. The inspiration for the water-pipe article came from the serendipitous discovery that the key to the newspaper office was also a master key for the school’s chemistry lab. It is the Doctor’s best recollection that he was the author of that particular article, but he also recollects that most articles were attributed to “staff reporter” in order to protect identities. Also, some major water-pipe quality assurance testing may have hazed a few memories as to who may, or may not, have written the article.

The school administration was not as in on the joke as were the student writers, and the powers that be quickly threatened to shut the paper down. However, the rag tag group of long-haired hippies managed to publish another two issues before the end of the academic year. The second edition was titled “New and Improved Tripe” or NIT for short, and coincided with an actual outbreak of head lice at the school. Reference to the lice outbreak was a scoop for the paper, and a bit of a head-scratcher for the administration wondering who may have leaked the story.

Incidentally, Tripe’s whistleblower was also responsible for leaking details about a planned locker search by the local narcotics police division. Unfortunately, Tripe staff were not provided enough time to write about the planned search. Fortunately, we did have enough time to issue free baggies of oregano and other assorted spices for proper placement throughout the building. Tripe ended with the third and final edition boldly entitled “Return of Tripe” or ROT for short.

The Doctor recently had lunch with a fellow Tripe conspirator and ruminated over whether things have really changed that much since their high school days. The Doctor has certainly changed. He has gone from dabbing to dribbling, from long-haired to longing for hair, from toking to temperance, from being dependable to depending on depends, and from having a narrow waist with a broad mind to a broad waist with a narrow mind.

On the other hand, one of the Doctor’s most recent postings on a local online community forum was censored because of the word “bullshit”. Censoring the word “bullshit” is a load of tripe if you ask me.

This post is dedicated to the survivors of TRIPE, NIT, and ROT from Sydney Academy circa 1972.

Dr. StrangeJob

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The Add Junk Professor: Genesis VI

After thirteen years teaching full-time, the Doctor abruptly found himself without a permanent teaching position. This was somewhat surprising, especially since he assumed once a university instructor achieved “ten-year,” they would be set for life. At least that was what he was always told by his tenured colleagues. Not to be daunted, the Doctor rolled with the punches and accepted a management position within the university, but, even then, he was apprehensive about his long term employment survival. He had a nagging suspicion that the system was trying to send him a message – a message that he was just not receiving.

His initial two-year managerial appointment was extended by one year. The one-year extension was then renewed for a six-month term. The six-month term was followed by a second six-month term. At this point, the institution was reorganized. As a result of the reorganization, the second six-month term was renewed for an additional three months. It was at this point that the Doctor finally got the message that had so skillfully alluded him – it was time to consider a career change.

Logically, the next step in the Doctor’s career was semi-retirement, supplemented with part-time teaching. But even then, he was dogged by the same nagging suspicion that something was amiss. Remaining the optimist, the Doctor accepted a four-month, three-course, teaching position. Unfortunately, unlike the previous managerial position, the teaching position was not renewed. However, following a one-month hiatus he was granted a one-month, one course, teaching contract. And so the precarious cycle of employment contracts continued.

The Doctor set a new goal. The goal was to achieve the most appropriate level of academic classification fitting to current academic standards. In pursuit of this new goal, he hastily added irrelevant content, useless exercises, cryptic comments, redundant resources, and seemingly endless drudgery to his existing course syllabi. He knew that by adding tripe, drivel, and assorted rubbish to the process that he would achieve his ultimate academic rank. He is still waiting on official institutional recognition of his newly minted academic status, but he is so confident in his strategy that he has self-declared add-junk professor status.

The Doctor knows a good thing when he sees it. Adjunct professors are now the majority. In fact, adjuncts account for 76.4 percent of U.S. faculty across all institutional types. In Canada, it is estimated that more than half of all undergraduates are taught by contract faculty and part-time faculty out-number full-time faculty more than two-to-one. There is power in numbers, and once the new precariat class of academics become organized, then all hell will break loose in academia. In fact, the movement has already started. The Doctor now has a new cause to champion, so never let it be said that the Doctor grade away or lost his class.

Dr. StrangeJob

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