Sunday, June 15, 2008

Week in review...

Last week was a madder than usual week due to the conference that happened towards the end of the week. There are quite a few things that I wanted to record, but I kinda lost steam writing things up in any orderly fashion these days.... So forgive me while I get these things off of my head higgledy-piggledy, it's probably the only way that they could be recorded...

The pre-conference reception...

  • Was by-and-large a success. Phew! (especially when compared to the Conference proper)...

  • It was so great to see my old students again. Especially my 2006 class. They all looked so relaxed in their summery casual attire. B gave me a huge hug when she saw me, saying she won't miss this for the world, and one of them actually asked me if I'd like to come to dinner with them afterwards, but I had to decline (see below).

  • Special people included A, who talked to me about how her husband's been lately (due to the fact that he happened by sheer serendipity to be part of my research).

  • Special people also included C, who got a job in the UK so it was great that she came back for this. My goodness, she's got herself a quasi Brit accent!! No joke. But she looked really well. She also got herself a new house. I would have loved to catch up with her properly, but later I realised that she and I probably could never hang out like friends like we did before... not for the fact that she's away, but for the fact that she's... how should I put it, becoming a little bitchy (see later)... and more to the point perhaps, she considers one of the people that I loathe in the office as more of a friend (ah, if only she's known the ins and outs of the story... but I don't feel like telling her the whole sorry saga as I'm not into getting people to choose sides).

  • One common conversation topic of the evening (apart from all the catching up on personal news) - the Lisbon Treaty - as the pre-conference reception was held on the same day as the voting day. A straw poll of reception attendees that I have talked to all lean towards a No vote, and an unanimous agreement that the Government did a crap job informing its citizenry - "That piece of paper (the Government leaflet on the Treaty) was the biggest waste of money". Is it any surprise then that the Irish decisively rejected the Lisbon Treaty?

The pre-conference dinner...

  • Took place in French bistro place somewhere in town after the pre-conference reception. Myself, the course assistant (female, age 30, French-speaking), the Department Head (male, mid-50s, Scottish by birth), and an external lecturer (male, early 60's, Irish) walked up to the restaurant together for the dinner booked at 8pm, where the keynote speaker (American) and his family (wife and kid) were already there. Another Department bigwig (female, mid-40s, Irish) was going to follow us up afterwards with another keynote speaker (Northern Irish).

  • The Department Head never fails to astound me with his lack of social grace. On arriving at the restaurant, we were led to the table where the American and his wife and kid, and a totally unknown man in his 50's, were already seated and chatting merrily. The Department Head, without any introductions or further ado, plonked himself down opposite the unknown bespectacled fat bloke (and beside the American keynote speaker), and proceeded to carry on a conversation with them. TOTALLY IGNORING the external lecturer, myself and the course assistant. The table is a long trestle table and I was going to seat myself next to him, but sensing the external lecturer's unease of having to squeeze beside the unknown man without being properly introduced, I stood up again, and meanwhile the course assistant stood awkwardly to the side not knowing where to sit. And all the while the Department Head was totally oblivious to us. So much so, that after few minutes' of these awkward manuveuring, the elderly external lecturer finally said, "Well I am going to introduce ourselves to the keynote speaker if XX [Department Head's name] is not going to do us the honour", and with that, he proceeded to walk to the American keynote speaker, introduced himself properly, then introduced myself and my course assistant to him, and the American kindly reciprocated by introducing his wife (in a wheelchair) and his son to us in turn. His son is only about nine or ten, and was extremely polite and grown-up in his behaviour, wearing a necktie (!) and solemnly shaking our hands. All these happened while our own Department Head continued to not bat an eyelid and chatting nonchalantly to the fat bloke sat in front of him, as if we have never existed, nevermind actually coming up to the restaurant with him! We were never introduced to the fat bloke by anyone.

  • Not long afterwards, the other keynote speaker and the other Department bigwig showed up at the restaurant, and on arrival the female Department bigwig proceeded to introduce the two keynote speakers to each other (which was the way it should have been done by our Department Head, but did he bother with such social niceties? Hell no). The other keynote speaker - whom we have already met during the reception itself earlier - gallantly solved our seating problems by assigning seats for everyone in the late party (male / female / male etc.). He too was not introduced by our Department Head to the mystery fat bloke though! Later it turned out that the mystery fat bloke was invited to the dinner by the Department Head himself (although he told nobody this, not even the course assistant responsible for the dinner-booking), who apparently was the head of some research think-tank or other from the UK. How did we know this? Well, when the female Department bigwig sat beside this mystery man (according to the suggested seating by the other keynote speaker), and not having been introduced by the Department Head either, she introduced herself and had a brief conversation with him, and that was how the rest of the table found out the identity of this mystery man.

  • So just for the record, I do not want to grow up like our Department Head and behaved like an absolute pig with no social graces.

  • Conversely though, I don't feel too bad now about what happened when I was first invited to our Department Head's house for dinner when I first started my job. I was amongst several guests that night who went to his home for dinner, and one of the excruciating memories was how, because he only moved into the house recently and the house was still being done up at that time, there was only one couch and two decorative chairs and the latter were located far away from the couch. I remembered how I sat on the couch's armrest for the better part of the evening, and nobody made the move to move along the seat to squeeze in to accommodate the newcomer, even though technically there was some space. And did our host - i.e. our Department Head - offered to bring another chair? No, he was totally oblivious. God, my butt still hurt from that memory, and I felt so small and insignificant that evening. Now I know it really is nothing personal - if he could be so rude as to ignore an elderly external lecturer at an official dinner, with whom he was chatting away until literally just before he approached the table and forgot totally that he was a host and had the duty of performing introductions, then perhaps he really couldn't help being rude to me when I first started.

  • Although I was seated near the end of the table, by the time we finally sat down I was feeling more than comfortable in my own skin, having witnessed how absolutely graceless my Department Head was and thinking there was no way I could do worse than him. I was relaxed and chatted away with the elderly external lecturer, with whom I was co-chairing sessions in next day's conference. I had also wanted to talk to the Northern Irish keynote speaker (especially given the fact that it was impossible to approach the American keynote speaker as he and his family were way at the other end of the table), but I got the feeling that he's the type that would look down on people overtly schmoozing him (jeez, I am the exact type, and it takes one to know one).

  • Anyway, at one point I was looking down at my watch when we were waiting for everybody to make up their minds to order, as I was thinking about how long this dinner will realistically take and my bus travel time as I had to be up again very early the next morning to prepare for the conference day itself. The NI keynote speaker saw me doing this and he joked, Goodness if you're already looking at your watch now this would be a long dinner indeed for you. I laughed and explained that I was only concerned that I'd manage to come back very early the next day for the real work. We broke our ice that way and - this is totally unlike any of my Department colleagues - he began to ask me questions and views about the world. Turns out he was an absolute political junkie - he remembered 1968 really well and had apparently been thrown into prison by the Brits for his protests - and he was pleasantly surprised that I am one, too, though obviously I haven't any real protest scars to show for (I've been to one 8964 candlelight vigil in HK and the anti-war protest match in Dublin in 2003 and that's it). He asked me about the newly insurgent nationalism in the young Chinese - a topic that nobody in my office dared broach, perhaps thinking that they might offend me? if only they asked my views and found out how I'm at the complete opposite end of that spectrum to those knuckleheads - and we discussed "Chinese pragmatism" and Hong Kong identity. I countered his inquisitiveness with asking his views on the Northern Ireland's political assembly, and we both rejoiced at the Northern Irish's pragmatism in seeing their political leaders rightfully as their "public servants", rather than being revered as some latter-day saviour and we both sneered at the kind of "wrap-in-the-flag" political hubris evident in some Americans and Chinese people. At one point then, he stopped and remarked, "So you are a political activist." I have never thought of myself as one, but I shall consider it a compliment!

  • But I think our NI speaker had just a tad too much to drink though. As at some point in our conversations he revealed to us sitting at this end of the table that he thought his youngest son is gay. We all proceeded to discuss how sexual orientation is no longer a big deal these days, even though he continued to worry that in his neck of woods it very much does... I never managed to voice my thought that, you know, gay or straight is only a "big deal" when you use it to label someone, or when you let the labelling to affect you. Like, somebody would use skin colour or your ethnic background or your nationality or your gender as a label, without bothering with the whole person behind the label. Given his avowedly progressive views, I thought he would understand this.

  • When it comes to almost 11pm, I was talking to my course assistant about what we need to prepare for the next day. She talked about how she needed to be at two places at once in the morning, and I volunteered to collect the things from the reception venue at 7:30am so that she could focus on the things she need to get done in the office. (I was at the venue at 7:25am, before the doors even opened, but then she arrived a few minutes after me!). The external lecturer overheard our conversation and said that he was also thinking of heading home soon now. So in the end, the external lecturer and I were the first to leave the party early (the rest left soon afterwards, it turned out). We walked together for the better part of our common route to our respective bus stop and train stations and wished each other luck the next day.

The Conference itself...

Things that made me mad... (but I am no longer mad now and am letting it go)
  • Others not doing the jobs they have promised that they would do - the assigned graphic designer (really just one of the executive officers in our office who was good with photoshopping) responsible for inserting the text into the template has promised that she would be able to finish the job in one day, even though at the time I was expressing doubt about whether that was possible and if she could assign more time to the task just in case the inevitable happens, and she brushed me off saying it would be all fine, not to worry, as if I was being a worrywort rather than being realistic about how long the task demanded (and I have shown her the type of texts and stated the quantities of the posters - 18 - that would be needed a month before). On the day when she was supposed to be doing the graduate posters for my group, she spent the big portion of that day dealing with the posters (quantity - 6) from my colleague WHO HAD NOT BOOKED HER TIME prior to this. Meaning that the time that I could have used to double-check the posters over the weekend was lost, as she needed the weekend to work through the posters she has promised me to finished BY the weekend - and THEN she behaved like she is doing me a huge favour by working over the weekend for me, when the truth was that I have already asked her to make sure that she scheduled enough time DURING THE WORK WEEK to finish the posters. In the event she was only emailing the mock-ups of the posters THE DAY WHEN THEY ARE MEANT TO BE SENT TO PRINT (Monday through to Wednesday), when we had a ton of other conference related preparations to go through.

  • Others not knowing how to do their job - the same graphic designer, was only asked to insert the texts that have been emailed to her into the pre-agreed template. Yet even this cut-and-paste job was beyond her as she mixed up portions of one graduate poster's text with those of another, as well as missing 1 poster altogether. Thank GOD I was fastidious in double-checking the missing poster, and thank GOD the printer guy on campus was amenable to re-printing inaccurate posters. There was 1 that was too late to reprint when the graduate spotted the mistake, and I spent my own time trying to resurrect that by pasting the correct section over it...
  • Others focusing on useless tasks that prevented them from doing what they are supposed to do - my trusty assistant, bless her, is an extremely hard-working gal like me, and I am always thankful for the fact that she is my help as I had experienced a lot lot worse. However, there are times when she focused on inconsequential minutiae to the exclusion of things that really matter. Like the fact that she was so bound up with making a "really nice conference badge" for some of our speakers that she spent the morning of the conference day (we both arrived at 7:30am on the dot to collect materials back from the pre-conference venue, having had a really late night the previous evening after the dinner with the speakers. I myself had only 4 hours' sleep.) agonising over this rather than actually setting out the registration desk in preparation for the morning registration rush. I was the first to arrive at the scene on both days to set up posters and ended up putting up all the signage myself (with the generous help of fellow lecturers and a few of my lovely graduates who turned up early), precisely because I was the first one to show up while all the others were still getting ready at the office. In the end, they turn up with the registration materials AT 9am, precisely the time when registration is MEANT TO START. And I had to be the person to apologise to our delegates while they were still faffing around DISCUSSING WHAT TO DO WITH THE FEW BLEEDING BADGES! I had to tell our new office gopher to help start the registration set-up, and she was good enough to step in and start, while my own assistant was being called away by our Department head to go back to his office to download HIS opening remarks presentation as he didn't have it with him and he only completed it that morning!

  • Others not doing what they are supposed to do because they have been inundated with tasks - There were also genuine reasons for why my assistant wasn't able to be on top of things as she usually did, which was the fact that she was constantly distracted by others' petty requests (like the above Head of Department example). But more importantly it was because the original professional conference organizer was on sick leave very shortly after the conference process started, and so everything is left on my assistant's shoulders to be the main organiser even though she had no previous experience of doing same. It had been a steep learning curve for her and by and large she handled things pretty well. However, during the pre-conference dinner both my co-chair and I asked her if the conference packs contain the speakers' biographic informatin, and she replied in the affirmative. What turned out was that she only had 4 of the speakers' bios printed as part of the pack, and none on my own speakers, even though they had all emailed her with their biographical information (but she reasoned that it was the course director who was in charge of that part of the pack and she must have left the last 4 out). There was then a mad search through her emails to locate these speakers' bios, and we only located 2. So in addition to handling the posters, the registration, I was also searching for the missing speakers, both of whom I only finally caught up right before our session, and I was able to literally only jot down their bio information from their laptops right before then. Talk about an unnecessary mad rush and jeez, what an impression that must have left on the speakers...

  • Being blamed for something that was not my fault (1) - The graduates whose posters I was responsible for thought, naturally enough, that the simple cut-and-paste mistakes were my fault. In a way, it was, especially because we are supposed to have the time to double-check the posters before they sent out to print. But I wouldn't have felt like I've eaten a dead kitten (Cantonese expression) if the feckin' graphic designer actually did her job right and actually stuck to our prior agreement. What transpired was that both the course director and I had barely had time to tell her to re-fix the formatting before they have to go into print. I was especially agitated by one particular graduate, whose thesis I have helped enormously with, who had the cheek to ask me to edit her poster text for her before the poster submission, and when I politely refused, and it turned out that her posters were among the ones that had to be corrected, she "jokingly" said to everyone who would listen that she initially thought the copy-and-paste mistake was my attempt to help her edit her text. THE BITCH!

  • Being blamed for something that was not my fault (2) - In addition to apologising for the late start of the registration process, it was also a bit of a chaos as they only had brought over one registration list and they limit the registrants to ONE queue when they should have opened at least two or three to deal with the registration rush. When I went over and asked them to open another desk the outgoing executive officer (who is finishing this month, and one is among the bitches in the office that I'm glad to soon see the back of) actually said that there is no need and that they are doing everything right. When I offered to help set up one more desk and deal with the registration my offer was rebuffed. Finally the course director herself had to get one of our students to help man an extra desk to deal with the registration so that the conference time-table would not be jeopardised. In the end there was a 15 minutes' delay, but we somehow managed to keep the rest of the conference on schedule. Thank goodness.

  • Being thanked in a manner that was only marginally better than being slapped in the face - At the end of the extremely long day of the conference, my course assistant and the office gopher and I were divvying up things that we needed to carry back to the office. I asked the two of them to go ahead of me while I carry the rest of the stuff and lock up the place and return the key back to the security guys. As I was trying to put the key into the lock, while trying to hold on to an extremely large roll of conference posters (all A0 size), a heavy bag containing spare stationery, as well as my own laptop bag and a gift bag (given to me by one of the graduates as a thank-you), the course director came up to me and thanked me for my help that day. Actually I didn't realise it was her thanking me. I kinda heard her voice speaking really fast and she just walked past me, but all the while I was trying to fit the friggin' key into the lock while doing a juggling act balancing all the stuff that I had to carry. She didn't even offered to help take one of the bags while I locked up the door, but carried on "thanking" me in a quick-fire way and walked past me to go upstairs. I only realised it was really her when I turned around and saw her and mouthed a quick "oh have a nice weekend too" before she went up. The fact that she didn't even bothered to look me in the eye properly to thank me, much less help me with one of the bags while she was speaking to me, when she saw that I clearly needed the help while locking up, made me feel like I have been slapped by her rather than being thanked by her. JESUSCHRISTALMIGHTY, my bosses HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MANNERS WHATSOEVER, EVEN WHEN THEY SAY THANKS!

Things that I regretted...

  • Not talking to the American keynote speaker himself. Although I did manage to talk to his wife and his kid towards the end of the conference. But he seemed rather taken with my own student's research presentation at the end, of which I'm the supervisor. So I guess I'd follow up with him.

  • I didn't get to do one jot of work on my chapters because all my time this week was sucked into the conference drama, much of it unnecessary had people been doing their jobs properly.

  • Not being forceful enough in directing the "back-room" operations of the conference in spite of my previous experience in assisting with conference organisations. I wished I have simply told the outgoing exec officer to feck off and just started an extra registration desk, as that was what our female Department bigwig ended up asking one of our students to do. I should have also realised that I could not leave everything on my course assistant's shoulders and should have been more forceful in directing her to do what are the necessary tasks rather than allowed her to waste precious time over nothing.

  • The fact remains though, that I am NOT the conference organiser, the course assistant was. And I really resented and regretted being portrayed as the overseer of the conference just because I was the one who turned up early on the scene while the rest of them went AWOL, and when all I have volunteered to do was to help out with the conference posters. If anything, the course director/female Department bigwig should have been directing the operations. Instead she was cleverly staying well away observing the chaos from a distance and chatting to the graduates and the guests as if this was never her idea and she had no role in the organization whatsoever. Which was a complete lie. If she had been directing the course assistant and the office temp what to do from the get-go - after all, they arrived together at 9am. Then I could have been spared the time to put up the posters properly, rather than being forced to run like a headless chicken between sorting out the posters, sorting out the regisration, and sorting out the audio-visual. I should learn better next time and step in in a manner that is clear to everyone else that I am only pitching in to help sort out a chaotic situation, rather than being portrayed as the cause of that chaotic situation when I wasn't responsible for organising said operation.

Things that I am grateful for...

  • The graciousness of our delegates - Despite all the chaos that happened in the early registration process, quite a number of people came up to me and said that they really enjoyed the day and thanked us for organising it. They might have been just being nice, but my heart leapt at the really kind compliment, all the same.

  • The graciousness of our speakers - I apologised profusely to two of my speakers for the missing bio information and they were all very gracious; and in the end I was a bit garbled in my introductions at the beginning of the session as I was straining to read by (or their) handwritten notes. We got through in the end and they have all been extremely nice about it, and said that it had been an honour for them to participate and that they would love to do it again! Thank you S, S, M and P, from the bottom of my heart.

  • The gracious helpfulness and forgiving kindness of my own students, past and present - During the chaos on the morning of the conference day, my lovely students - those whose theses I have personally supervised, or whose theses I had a lot of input to even though I was not the formal supervisor - came to my rescure and cheerily offered their services to help sort out the posters and signage, etc. I could never ever thank them enough. Thank you so very much P, G, A and L. You are such a star! Thanks for being a life-saver, yet again.

  • The conscientious helpfulness of the new office temp - Of the three office admin girls during the conference, the new office temp shone through in her pragmatic can-do attitude. She was a real help and a joy to work with. When asked to help set up the registration desk she went ahead and do it, and although she could have done a better job if she had known better (like laying out the delegate badges on the table rather than trying to retrieve them from a bunch one at a time), but she did the best she could. When asked to be the roving mike just before the conference started, she stepped up to the plate and handled the job beautifully, and paid attention when I ran through the session schedule with her so that she knew which sessions would need her and she was always on hand before the Q&A formally started. At the end of the day she also helped carried one of the heaviest stands back to the office. We really couldn't have asked for a better help at this crucial time. Thanks S, from the bottom of my heart. (And unlike my bosses, I managed to thank both S and the course assistant in person and looked them in the eye while doing so).

Things that made me happy...

  • I managed to be diligent and correct the majority of the graphic designer's mistake and liase with the affable printer guy who kindly helped us finish the rush jobs.

  • I managed to design and produce the course poster without help from the graphic designer. It turned out so great that it was also included in the conference pack as advertisement for our course.

  • It was so nice to see the graduates again, especially during the pre-conference reception. Everybody looked so well in their bright summer clothes, and it was great to catch up with them, some of whom I haven't seen for years.

  • One of my graduates whose thesis I've helped with in the revision process gave me a gorgeous thank-you card and a gift at the conference! I only realised that the gift was a gift voucher after I opened it on the bus on the way home, which means I'd have to return it. But it is the lovely thought that counts, bless her!

Things that really made me smile...

  • After the pre-conference dinner, I caught the second-last bus home (around 11:15pm). Maybe it was because of the wine and the extremely long day, I actually fell asleep on the bus, and didn't realise it until I was near the bus terminal (and apparently about 5 miles from my stop). The bus driver was really kind and said that he would drop me home from the terminal. At first I thought he meant that he could drop me off on the bus on the drive back, but it turned out that he dropped me off in his car. I was a little wary but as the other drivers also saw us, I felt a little safer. Anyway, although he was quite a young lad - in his mid to late 20's I guess, he was a complete gentleman. It's a little awkward though at the beginning, I mean, what could one talk about with an complete stranger in a car? (Can you just tell I'm not the hitch-hiking type?). Anyway he asked me about why I was so late and I talked about the conference and which university I was based. He was really impressed with the fact that I worked in such a prestigious university, but when he tried to find something academic to talk about he could only hark back to the history books he did in secondary school, and we both knew then that the gulf was too great... Too bad, as he was a really nice guy. Anyway, we moved on to the subject of the bus and the general publc transport system in Ireland, and here we both have a lot to say about. I learnt quite a few things I didn't know about buses from him during our relatively short but interesting conversation. He dropped me off right in front of my estate (he offered to drive into drop me outside my door but I politely declined), and I left with a smile on my face...

  • ... That is, until I actually arrived at the door of my apartment block, and then I saw a girl around my age sitting outside the entrance. She then told me that door was not working as the electricity for the keypad had apparently short-circuited, and that she called the electrician already and it would take a half-hour for your man to arrive. I just laughed at that stage as I needed to be up very early the next morning and I thought falling asleep on the bus was bad enough. But this apparent misfortune again turned out to be another pleasant serendipity - as the girl and I started chatting, we realise we are neighbours who've never known about each other. She said that she and her boyfriend bought the apartment about 3 years ago, and she recounted how thrilled she was at having found the place, which completely mirrored my own experience of having discovered this estate. We talked about our neighbours (and how little we both knew about them, and how bad this is), our neighbourhood, our jobs and how we commute (so seguing into the state of public transport in Ireland again), and it was really great fun. So much so that we didn't even feel the time passing and pretty soon the electrician turned up. AND it turns out that I actually had one of the keys that could open the door after all (I was given a bunch of keys I never tried, as I used the keypad all the time). Anyway, in the end, we were both saying how glad we are to have met each other and how great it is to have finally known one of our neighbours properly (and her name is Martha by the way!). I walked up to my flat with a huge smile again on my face :)

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5 Comments:

At Tue Jun 17, 02:58:00 a.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

I guess your department head is one of those what we or I call incorrigible asshole. It's just in his nature.

For me Ireland or Dublin is all about James Joyce. Here I am name dropping just to overcompensate ... Anyway, my impression of Ireland is cold, mysterious, depressing, old, inordinately literate, like you perhaps. Snowdrops, some little white flowers grow close to the ground, more for the dead than for the living, for me that's very Irish too....

The above is totally random thought.

Say hi to Martha.

 
At Tue Jun 17, 06:18:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

"For me Ireland or Dublin is all about James Joyce."

Ah yes, the literary Dublin of yore. But Dublin has changed immensely since Ulysses was published. You may not think that Ireland is "cold, mysterious, depressing and old" if you know that U2 and the Cranberries are Irish, or that we are "inordinately literate" if you know that Colin Farrell and I once shared the same neck of woods growing up... or maybe you will.

Anyway, I heartily disagree with your portrayal of snowdrops as "more for the dead than for the living"???? WTF? Have you seen actual snowdrops? They are the harbingers of spring, bravely poking their heads up to the elements before the daffodils.

Come to think of it, I haven't actually got around to getting myself some snowdrops since I moved into my apartment. So reminder to self: get them in time for their flowering next spring.

 
At Wed Jun 18, 05:36:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

I owned the U2 Rattle and Hum cassette tape and lost it. And still own a few CDs, but never the Cranberries.

My impression of Ireland of course is shaped by my own ignorance. No surprise there. Did Colin Farrell chain smoke back then. The guy smokes like a chimney, right? Oh and also Daniel Day-Lewis?

No, i never saw the real snowdrops, ha ha ha ha.

 
At Thu Jun 19, 05:56:00 a.m. IST, OpenID serenemai said...

time for me to comment!! haha.

sounds interesting, this conference. and wow, you really wrote in great detail how you felt and what u did in this conference!!!!

:)

 
At Sun Jun 22, 08:41:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Sorry for the delay in replying... I missed your messages (even though I was commenting on your blogs!)

LCL - with few exceptions (e.g. yours truly and friends), everyone chainsmokes back when they're younger (actually when they're older too, but the smoking ban sees to it that they are confined to outdoors now).

Ser - thanks a mil' for stopping by :) I must admit this particular post is one loooooonnnng rant over nothing. But I kinda needed to get that out of my head and off of my chest before I could proceed properly with my real work... So, thanks for your patience and forbearance!

 

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