Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Night at the Catfights

I pulled a fast one. Last night I was able to regain some space in my garage and reclaim a couple of toolboxes for Clifford. The icing on this sweet deal is that some dear friends gave me two delicious beers (with lemon wedges) in the exchange. I'd have done it for a salt sandwich. I rediscovered the back wall of my garage and my friends have a Skillcraft table saw in their basement that will be there until they lure a couple of husky lads with a thirst for hefeweisen to lend some assistance. Not bad for a night's work.

But that is nothing to do with felines, is it? The phrase "the fur flies" has its roots firmly implanted in authenticity. Likewise, Teller, one of my friends' cats, had his face firmly implanted in Penn, his psychotic brother, at one point in the evening. For a good many minutes thereafter, bits of fur drifted lightly to the floor from Teller's back. Yellow fur. Fur that seemed suspiciously out of place on a cat with a color scheme matching a 1950's police cruiser. And a siren to match.

It was a nice evening. Two good friends. Two good beers. And flashes of cat pounding down the stairway, cornering like the Dukes of Hazzard, and beating it to the basement for a kitty kat re-enactment of "Fight Club." Not to be missed. Thank you B&J. For everything.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Joan and I have completed our revision of the contract style guide and have submitted it to the other members of the Technical Writers Interest Group ((TWIG--sure it's a reach, but then most acronyms are. Believe me when I tell you this one was inherited. I would have worked very hard to at least get something as substantial as TRUNK). In a couple of days we will get comments on the document and, over the weekend, incorporate them for a Monday a.m. delivery.

We've struggled with the whole issue of proper styles for nearly a year. Then, last week, we got buy-in to use The Chicago Manual of Style as our authoritative source, backed by the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. Those two simple decisions make life much more manageable. On the way to the first draft, I found another good source document. The Elements of Technical Writing, written in 1993 by Gary Blake and Robert Bly, provided useful instruction to our authors. The humble subtitle, The Essential Guide to Writing Clear, Concise Proposals, Reports, Manuals, Letters, Memos, and Other Documents in Every Technical Field, left me wondering just what this book wouldn't do. Sadly, my truck is still dirty, the laundry needs doing, the dog could use a walk ... but by golly, I own an "essential" book and life is worth living again.