Loud fart in a quiet office

Work in enough offices (and I have worked in enough offices) and you'll begin to recognize certain 'types' of office workers.

At Haugen & Dahl, I'm seeing some familiar people, people I'd swear I've worked with before, though their names and faces are different.



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March 9, 2023
There's the aging party girl who talks too much about her weekend.

There's the heavily-tattooed late-20s ten-speed guy, who you know couldn't pass a urinalysis.

There's the woman whose grown old working this job, and knows it better than anyone.

There's the "Jim Halpert" character, often found away from his desk and instead leaning on a counter and chatting with pretty "Pam Beesly," and the "Pam" in our office is actually named Pam.

There's the old man who's barely hanging on with modern technology, sitting at his desk and staring at his screen, using his index finger to push keyboard buttons, and whenever he needs to ask a question (or worse, explain something) you can tell it's a struggle. And no, he's not me, but maybe in a few years...

There are the people who talk too loudly about their lives outside of work, like the woman on the other side of my cubicle wall, sharing the story of her father's decline and last days, at length, every morning. 

And there's Peter, the earnest and nervous 30-something man who wants you to know he really cares about the job, but whatever knowledge he has gets lost in his anxiety at saying anything. He used to be me, so I sympathize.

6-8 or so of us do similar work, but we're scattered around the office, and word is that we're all going to be moved to the same corner of the building, soon. When that happens, I'll be among a crowd of co-workers instead of 2-3 people, and by the odds of human nature, somebody will get on my nerves.

And it might be Peter — we do similar work, so he'll soon be one of my cubicle-neighbors, and already he stops at my desk and wants to check my work, though checking my work isn't his job. He interrupts himself a lot, starting one sentence, but then "No, wait," deciding he wants to say something different instead. And he has a hundred suggestions for how we should all do things a little different, but he can't put his ideas into clear words, and I've noticed Alissa's eyes rolling when he speaks. 

I love carrots, but as part of being old, If I eat too many I'll have explosive, barely-controllable farts and poops the next day. I've been eating fewer carrots, obviously, because I don't want to be sharting at the office.

Still eating a few carrots after dinner most nights, though, and yesterday at our very quiet office, a surprisingly loud fart escaped as I walked past Judy's desk. Alissa was on the phone, so she probably didn't hear it. No way Judy didn't hear it, though.

On Tuesday I attended my first meeting at Haugen & Dahl, which was similar to but slightly better than attending a meeting anyplace.

Workflow is behind, and the boss explained that she wants it caught up. She seems to understand what we do, though, what she wants isn't unreasonable, and she knows the department has been short-staffed (which is why I work there now).

Though I had only four days of experience, she asked if I had any suggestions, and I had two. "I don't yet have access to the document storage and sorting system, so Alissa has to stop doing her work all the time to sort through more work for me," I said, and the boss said she'd have me on the storage and sorting system by the next day (and she did).

And also, I said aloud what seems to be the most time-consuming problem — duplicates documents in the workflow. Maybe I'll say more about that some other day, but Alissa and even Peter agreed it's a problem.

Old people tend to like it warmer, and after two years of working from home and then one year of unemployment at home, I'm accustomed to being in a very warm space. 75° is a bit chilly for me. The space heater at home stays on until 78° or so.

At the office, it's the traditional 68°, and on my first day I shivered so much than on my second day and every day since I've word thermal underwear top & bottom, but the place still feels just a little too cold. 

I take lunch at my desk every day, and read a book. Making chit-chat, Judy asked about the book I was reading, which made for a moment of awkwardness. It's Broken Crown, by Henry Racicot, and I'll write a good review when I'm finished with it, but there's nothing about the plotline that can be explained in a work-appropriate conversation. The next day I brought in an old noir novel instead.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Federal Reserve's Zoom conference cancelled after "porn-bombing" 

"Playgrounds for cops": Beyond protests, clergy, environmentalist unite against Atlanta's 'Cop City' 

Facebook and Google are handing over user data to help police prosecute abortion seekers 

Tennessee punk band performs in drag after drag is banned 

They're The Vandoliers, and I've added "Bless Your Drunken Heart" to my playlist.

Habitat for Humanity just opened its first affordable condo building on Seattle's Capitol Hill — and is getting ready to build another 

Retired Muni streetcar to become bed-and-breakfast 

Toblerone chocolate bars have gotten less and less Swiss, and now they're losing their Swiss status and Matterhorn 

Climate change comes for molluscs and sea urchins 

Tropical plankton in jeopardy from climate change 

Climate change is raising flight turbulence risks 

Antarctic sea ice reaches lowest levels ever recorded 

Scientists discover a new way climate change threatens cold-blooded animals 

Risky feedback loops are accelerating climate change, scientists warn 

Intense downpours in the UK will increase due to climate change – new study 

Official report condemns police gangs within Los Angeles Sheriff's Department 

Cop convicted for on-duty rapes 

Bodycam footage confirms Asheville police targeted journalists 

Jury awards $8.25M to Black mother, daughters unlawfully searched and handcuffed by Alameda County sheriff's deputies at a Castro Valley Starbucks 

Republican who gave pre-January 6 planning tour to insurrectionists will head party's 'investigation' into investigation of January 6 insurrection 

Iowa Republicans propose a ban on same-sex marriage 

Tennessee governor signs laws targeting drag shows and health care for transgender youths 

Racist Republican Congressman blames recent Ohio train derailments on diversity 

Florida Republicans seek new abortion restrictions amid broad right-wing push 

Arkansas Gov. Sanders signs law loosening child labor protections 

Republicans are working overtime to overcome democracy 

Trump gave an unhinged rant at CPAC about his friendship with Putin and WWIII 

Musk backpedals after mocking disabled Twitter worker in tweet ‘storm’ 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going






My browser history
without the porn

Inside the secret working group that helped push anti-trans laws across the country 

A museum for the working class 

Man goes barefoot for twenty years

 • An obscure rule about bus stops can make riding at night safer 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

American Idiot — Green Day 

The Devil's Been Busy — Traveling Wilburys 

In Dreams — Roy Orbison 

On the Radio — Al Stewart 

16 Tons — Tennessee Ernie Ford 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Richard Anobile 

Bert I Gordon 

Anthony Green 

Robert Haimer 

Judy Heumann 

Linda Kasabian 

Douglas Kelbaugh 

Shinta Ratri 

Gary Rossington 

Eileen Sheridan 


Sandy Valdespino 


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. Re: cold office - are you allowed to wear a hat? 68 would be grand, as far as I'm concerned, but if you like it warm, hat it up if it's OK.

    1. Hats are allowed. Pants too. Sometimes I slink back into the beannie I wear while waiting for the bus.

      Maybe they thought they were being nice by giving me a window cubicle, but the cold radiates through the glass.

  2. "there's nothing about the plotline that can be explained in a work-appropriate conversation."

    Ha! You need to keep it in a brown paper bag, like a bottle of gin!

  3. I came to know much of what I know about the Marx Brothers through Richard Anobile and his books. It's too bad that Groucho had a falling out with him, but Marxists know that Groucho experienced a rather steep decline in his last few years and became quite a cranky old man. I've been trying to avoid that fate by dying young, but the docs keep excelling and now it's too late.

    It's no secret that Groucho had a difficult relationship with Chico, and that Chico had a difficult relationship with gambling. Harpo, who was an emeritus member of the Algonquin Round Table, told the Table stories of Chico losing gate receipts at gambling venues and Groucho, on multiple occasions, having to financially rescue the Brothers. Stories told at the Table frequently ended up in print: it was the nature of the gathering. Mr. Anobile gathered some of those stories and sprinkled a few of the tamer ones in his Marx books after confirming them with Groucho. Groucho sued. Groucho lost.

    It's possible that Anobile took advantage of Groucho's decline in gathering Marx stories -- I have no way of knowing, but Anobile was a journalist, and he fact checked the quotes he included in the Marx books. If Groucho said it, and it was true (and interesting), Anobile would include it in a book. Had Groucho hired a lawyer before he collaborated with Anobile instead of after, they could have parted friends.

    Sadly, I had to sell the Marx collection a few years ago along with much of my library. But I did get years of enjoyment out of the well-edited, well-researched Anobile books. Thanks Richard.


    1. A lot of books are just books, but it is frickin' marvelous to have (or to have had) some books that meant so much to ya that you want to thank the author.

      I would definitely like to thank the ghosts of Jack Finney and B Traven.

      As for Groucho, damn he was funny, but I don't think I could read a book about his life. People's lives are such messes; it's the art and accomplishments that I respect so much.

      There's one thing I wonder about Groucho, though. Tell me please, if the books told you — was he always in character, even when he wasn't on stage or in front of a camera?

      Dinner with Groucho being Groucho would probably make me grouchy.

    2. Groucho was rarely the Groucho character off-stage and off-camera. Even during the Dick Cavett interviews. Groucho was generally out of character. Cavett reports that when he and Groucho went out to a meal, people would walk up to Groucho and ask to be insulted. Sometimes Groucho complied and sometimes he told people to fuck off. Of course, that's kind of Groucho as well.

      Groucho, was, among other things, a self-educated man who corresponded with writers, artists and national leaders around the world. Groucho's editors got him to publish a couple of books of his letters; they are likely OP today, and available in somebody's used book store.

      He wrote four or five books himself; I've read most of them and he was not without talent as a writer. Because they were written three or four generations ago, the prose sounds slightly odd, but he could write.



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