Culver City Observer -

Mish-MashED: Do Your Job/ Don't Do Your Job


September 29, 2016

“NO OPERATING SYTEM FOUND”. Four frightening words you never want to see on your computer. Debuting on my screen yesterday; my beloved laptop is sick.

Which explains why I’m sitting here in the library writing this. What, I’m not the only person who doesn’t have a spare computer just lying around?

Yesterday’s grief brings today’s miracle: the library!

They have computers (26 of them). They have laptops (yours for two hours). They even have a private room (small) (but with air conditioning) you can reserve for two hours.

Turns out I didn’t have to type a thousand-word column on my phone after all!

A kind, helpful man named Stuart answered all my questions, reserving a laptop for me. I immediately went over to the blue-and-white six-foot-tall vending machine, which scanned my library card; the door to a plastic shelf flashed white light, and there it was: a laptop all mine to use.

This column is brought to you today by the county library. Donate generously, please!

This also explains why the wonderful column I’d planned to write is lost in the ether somewhere. Yes, of course I had a back-up system in place. And that external hard-disk is sitting on my desk, seeking a laptop to get romantic with. It’s just that I backed it up regularly – when was that? Oh, first of the month. Gone, then, my notes for what I was writing today. A mish-mash, then, of recent thoughts. I hope you’ll excuse the topic quick step; there are always so many intriguing things to write about.

* * *

Do you do your job, or don’t do your job?

Edward Snowden did his job, until he couldn’t bring himself to do it anymore. That’s the story in Oliver Stone’s terrific movie “Snowden”. I wondered what more they could show, with such a recent news subject. Turns out, there’s a lot.

Beautifully lit and filmed by Oliver Stone, it’s not just what he shows, but how he shows it.

The movie claims the NSA is tracking every cell phone in the world. “Where’s the modern battlefield, Soldier?” “Everywhere”.

I love learning foreign languages, so found it illuminating when one techie asked the other, “How many languages do you speak?” The answer: “Seven in code, six spoken.” I’d never thought about it that way.

At one point, the movie asks, “Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions of Americans?” Answer: “No”.

Next shot, we actually see the NSA collecting data from everyone.

Snowden felt compelled by conscience, invoking the Nuremberg trials. The movie shows him recalling that the UN made doing what were then ordinary jobs, a criminal act. A bit heavy-handed at times, the movie may help you understand why Snowden leaked secret NSA documents. He didn’t feel able to do his job, given what he saw at the NSA.

As a reporter, Zachary Quinto wasn’t hard to recognize; post-Heroes, post-Spock, he’s excellent, as was Nicholas Cage.

Terrific movie, good story, beautifully shot.

I saw Oliver Stone on Stephen Colbert’s show. Stone was smiling a lot. Colbert asked Stone, “Are you high right now?”

“I’ve enjoyed my life,” was Stone’s considered reply.

* * *

A security guard I know lost his job recently. Responding to tenant complaints about a car making noise, he went down to the garage and found one man gunning the engines of four cars parked in four separate parking spaces. He asked the man to please run them one at a time. The response: “I’m a friend of the owner. If you keep bothering me, I’ll get you fired.” The guard called the police, who never came. He was fired the next day.

For doing his job.

What was he supposed to do? To not answer the tenants’ complaints, was to not do his job. For doing that job, he lost work.

* * *

You’ll enjoy “Sully”. I found the movie quite affecting. Sully is played darkly by Tom Hanks, who appeared older than the real Sully looked during the credits. The whole movie is tasteful and restrained; I’d forgotten Clint Eastwood directed. He also wrote the music, beautifully quiet and subtle.

Sully was another man just doing his job. Yet at the same time he was being celebrated as hero, the authorities were submitting him to seemingly over-the-top, unnerving questioning.

* * *

I once read about a college student taking a summer job working as a toll collector on a New York State road. The student decided to make it a friendly experience for drivers, so along with the receipt he gave them for paying the toll, he included a small handful of M&M’s. Drivers loved him; he was so popular, drivers headed for his toll booth every day. That caused a traffic pile-up – so they fired him!

* * *

I heard Ansel Adams talking on one of those audio guides you get at museum shows. The exhibit I saw showed 75 of his favorite photos, chosen by Ansel Adams himself. One photo was just a still life, a few objects on a table. I’d never seen it before. On the tape, Adams explained:

“I took an advertising job during the day, so I could go out and take shots of Yosemite at night.”

No shame in doing any kind of work as your day job. Think of Ansel Adams.


©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.

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