Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cynthia's Notes



Cynthia’s Notes
by Cynthia J. Cordell

     Crissy and Cheryl were gossiping with their brother Connor about the new school year. Their mother Cynthia and their father Christopher were winding down for the day, yet there were still items on the to-do-list to be taken cared of. First on the list was to catch up on the reading list of the once-a-month book club that sometimes met at their house. Next on the list was to fold all of the laundry that was newly washed earlier that day.
     Cynthia wrote notes to people to pass the time. To Christopher that day, she wrote Thank you for all that you provide for us. Her note to Connor was You are the best son ever! Her note to her eldest daughter Crissy was Always stay sweet and positive, they are your very best attributes. Finally, her note to Cheryl read, You are as cheerful as the bright blue sky. Then to their two puppies, she wrote notes to also. To their Doberman, she wrote, You are our pride and joy, always stay as docile as you are! Then to the terrier, she wrote, Always remember, that you are truly loved!
     She put the two handwritten notes to her puppies on the mantle and the rest she packed in the lunches of her family members. She became the note originator and the note sorter and also the note specialist. In her town, she initiated the note giving process, by writing uplifting notes to the hard-working librarians and then she wrote notes to each kindergartner in Mrs. Fields class at the local Elementary School. She let Mrs. Fields take credit for the fun and encouraging notes. They were each delivered in a little brown paper bag, tagged with a pink ribbon on it if it was for a girl and a blue ribbon on it if it was for a boy. Cynthia never ran out of ideas. Sometimes it took her longer than expected but she always got the task of note writing done.
     She began, as free publicity for her note writing skills to write notes to the members of the local fire department. She let their Chief Fire Fighter take credit for the uplifting notes. That Saturday, there were specialized notes for Michael, Cesar, Brian, Matthew, Nestor, Frankie, Eric, Chris (a different Chris from her husband) and Benjamin.
     For Michael, she wrote Thank you for saving the lives of our townspeople! For Cesar, she wrote Your firefighting skills are truly appreciated! For Brian, she wrote The townspeople feel safe and protected because of you! For Matthew, she wrote Thank you for quelling the fires of our city! For Nestor she wrote, No one fears the natural disasters because you keep us safe! For Frankie, she wrote Our national pride is everywhere because of you! For Eric, she wrote Everyone is proud of you! For Chris she wrote, The Fire Department is lucky to have you on their team! And finally, for Benjamin, she wrote You are a good representative of the Firefighters of our town!
     Eventually, Cynthia asked the help of a web designer to create a website where a few of her elite clients could go to, to ask her for personalized notes for their “people.” This clientele has people under their management because they are the providers of the town, the heartbeat of the city that their town was nested in. Eventually, she farmed out the note-printing to a local stationery store because she wanted the handwriting to be of professional quality and she also wanted the cute sprites and little graphics that went along with doing it fancy-like.
     Then a professional football team contacted her because one of their players was having a birthday party for their son and the league wanted to surprise him with notes to put into the party bags. So the names of the little boys were Patrick, Mike, Cesar, E.J., Rommel, John, Joshua, Russell, Austin, Dan, Zachary, Zayden, and Bryce. The birthday boy’s name was Gerald!
     Cynthia wrote her notes accordingly: To Patrick, she wrote Thank you for making this an exciting birthday party! Then to Mike, she wrote The heroes of this party get their inspiration from you! To Cesar, she wrote, Gerald appreciates your friendship! For E.J., she wrote, Thank you for giving Gerald the time of his life! To John she wrote, Thank you for being one of Gerald’s besties! To Joshua she wrote, There is extra cake and ice cream because you’re so special! To Russell, she wrote, Thank you for always being there for Gerald! For Austin, she wrote, Let’s do this again next year! For Dan, she wrote If the D.J. plays some dance music, we should all get up and dance! To Zachary, she wrote, We need to have you over more often, for cake and ice cream! For Zayden, she wrote You made this a great celebration! Then for Bryce, she wrote I wish that we can party like this till the next day, thanks for making it special! Of course, no one really knew who wrote the personalized notes, they just assumed that they came from Gerald’s mother. Each note was deposited into their fun-party-bag.
     The web designer asked Cynthia what she wanted the site to be called and she said, that it should be named, “Cynthia’s Notes.” Cynthia’s clientele spanned the globe, maybe perhaps even beyond. All the client has to do was type their contact information, then their payment information (which was always negotiable), then explain in the text field, what the occasion was for the note or notes, how many and basically what the names of the recipients were going to be. In that way, they could all be personalized. Cynthia wanted a good three weeks in advance to properly prepare and deliver the customized notes.
     The minute that Cynthia’s web site went live, she was inundated with a clattering of orders from a newly evolving clientele. The next step was to hire language translators from around the world to convert her notes into more personalized ones in the client’s language, maybe even one or two dialects within the main language. Advertisement was through a discreet word-of-mouth-network. If the clients weren’t happy with one or more aspects of the notes that were delivered to them, then, she immediately got on the phone and spoke to them about it. She always wanted them to be happy with their delivered packages (that were) abounding with the most precious, customized happy notes. The notes would be the equivalent to a-just-a-pick-me-type-of-coffee-jolt to say Thank You God, All is Good!
     Cynthia would wind down her day, by baking some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and curl up with some magazines to get ideas for the next note-creating session. Add to that, a glass of milk and she would feel re-charged again. She knew she could always survive. There’s a voice telling her that she’s hopeless sometimes and her answer to that voice was always, But I can read and write!
     The style of the cards that the notes were printed on, were ones that were folded in half, so that the message surprises the person when they lift up the folded part. For a while there, only Cynthia, the printers and the web designers knew about her little side business, but eventually, her immediate family understood that this was a serious undertaking for her. She gave some of the generated income to her family, but what she really wanted to do, was to apportion some of the money as weekly allowances for her three kids. At least now she had the means to make this happen!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Jogging Past



“Jogging Past”
by Cynthia J. Cordell
     She jogged past a coffee shop and she stopped to go inside and get some water. She said hello to the manager and asked him if her camera crew could film her (Jane) interacting with some of their customers. The manager said that that would be fine and that he could use the free publicity. So first she talked to Lori, a journalist from uptown who was there to do a story for a friend.
     “Hi Lori? Is it? That manager John told me your name was Lori. Hi, my name is Jane. I’m doing a segment where I jog past local houses and businesses and I chat with the owners of the houses and the proprietors of the businesses. You look like you might have an interesting story that you want to tell. Mind if I ask you what you do for a living?”
     “Sure, sure…as you already know my name is Lori. I am a photo journalist. My friend Crenshaw works at the local high school where he’s a math teacher. One of his student is getting an award for his outstanding math skills. I’m here to do a background story of his family life and his friends and community in general. I will be taking lots and lots of pictures. I work as a freelance writer for the paper, so I have to submit my work for acceptance and approval. It’s not a guarantee that Nate’s story will be told, but I’m going to give it a good try.”
     “Wow, fabulous, when will all this take place?” asked Jane.
     “The awards ceremony is this afternoon at three and then I’ll be in town to speak to the rest of his family and friends for the next few days,” Lori said.
     “Well, it was nice meeting you,” Jane said as she finished drinking her water and then used the women’s restrooms before finishing her jog outside.
     During the next few days, Jane scanned her map of the city to find places to jog around for some more feature stories. That particular day was a-kind-of-lazy-day-to-find-the-words-to-write-meaningfully. She went into the kitchen and took out her blender to make a fruit smoothie for herself. She chopped up all sorts of fruits and blended them together for one of her favorite drinks to make. While she was blending the fruit drink, she also added a few walnuts and almonds to the mix, to give it a nutty taste.
     The next day, Jane and her camera crew chose a section of the center of the city for her routine jog. They filmed her jogging up a hill and then, swiftly jogging past a butcher shop and a dress-making shop. She stopped to chat with the man behind the butcher counter.
     “Hi, my name is Jane and I do feature stories of people around the neighborhood, do you have an interesting story to share with us?” she asked.
     “Well, hello my name is Gus and I’ve been working here for six years. This is my uncle’s shop. We make many of the meats here and we also supply meats to the best restaurants and grocery stores. The only story that you might find of interest, is that my granduncle from Europe has just passed away and my Uncle Tom is there right now paying his respects,” said Gus.
     “Well, Gus…look into the camera and wave hello to your Uncle Tom and the rest of your relatives. I will try to send them this video over the Internet,” Jane said.
     After talking to Gus a bit more, Jane visited the dress shop next door. The owner of the shop was there making some last minute alterations for an evening gown.
     “These gowns are beautiful…let me introduce myself. I’m Jane and my film crew and I are filming footage of some of the shops that I’ve been jogging by. Do you have an interesting story to tell us?”
     “Well, my name is Francesca. My husband Carlos and I own this shop,” she said.
     Just then, a gentleman came out from the back room with a tea kettle.
     Francesca introduced Carlos to Jane and explained to him the purpose of her visit to their shop.
     “Would you like to have some tea with us Jane?” Carlos asked.
     “I would love to,” said Jane.
     Carlos brought out three tea cups and they all had some Earl Grey tea.
     “I would love to hear about any stories that you might want to share with the public,” Jane said.
     “Well, here is one that is interesting…Carlos has an aunt that dotes on him. Whenever we make a sale, we give a portion of the profit to his Aunt Gladys. This is because she gave us some of the money to start this business. Well, the interesting part of her story, is the amount of lists she makes for what she wants to spend the money on. The first things on her list are her nephew’s college education, then she apportions some of her money to buying some brand-name cosmetics for herself. Then the thing to buy that makes her day (and we know this, because she actually makes a note of this on her lists), are make-up brushes. The most interesting thing that she wants to buy next, is that she’s saving up for a sports car,” Francesca said.
     “Wow, she sounds like a fabulous lady, I’m sure that your family appreciates her very much!” Jane exclaimed.
     Eventually, Jane and her crew wound down from their interviews and all eventually went home. Back at her computer she printed out graphics of the maps that they used for the last few days of footage. She glued them to a scrapbook that she was putting together. She then emailed some more of the network executives on her contact list and in the emails, she made sure that they could click on the link that would take them to her website. On the website, Jane’s camera man had uploaded most of the film footage of her jogging interviews around town.
     One thing that Jane came away with during her time with meeting the different individuals around town, was that she developed a taste for Earl Grey tea. What a marvelous taste it seems to have were her thoughts on that.
     The next day was a rainy day and instead of jogging, Jane reconciled herself to reading a book by an author who was a friend of hers. Before she read, she made some Earl Grey tea and got out some store-bought biscuits with grape jelly and ate to her hearts content. After about a chapter into reading her book, she also made some hot chocolate, then she went back to reading her book up to chapter four.
     The following day, Jane’s camera man called in sick. Apparently, he had been caught in the rain the day before and had come down with a fever. Jane made some chicken soup and walked over to his house, which was just around the corner. When she got back to her house, she put her laundry away and then followed up on some of the stories that they hade filmed the last couple of days. Most importantly she checked her email to see if she got any responses from the network producers. She found out that there were actually a couple of positive responses. Jane was so happy to read that they two of the producers wanted to make a test pilot of her show, temporarily titled “Jogging Past Your Life.” She called her camera man Jim to tell him the good news. To her, at that very moment, all seemed just fine with the universe.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Fountain of Things



A Fountain of Things
by Cynthia J. Cordell

     There was a fountain of ideas ruminating in his brain. His supervisor wanted him to update their digital rolodex. Zack was basically supposed to make sure the list of contacts was always in alphabetical order, by last name. After that, he also had to digitally sequester their contact information. Meaning, that their phone numbers, addresses and email information were always up to date.
     At the same time, there was a fountain of lists running through Gloria’s mind. She had managed to make breakfast sandwiches for her and Zack and their kids, and now she was cleaning up in the kitchen. For the first item of the list on her mind, she wanted to bake some cookies for the after-church fundraiser and gathering, followed by buying some coffee grounds for the industrialized church coffee machines. Third on that same list, she wanted to choose another dessert to bake for that same function. She would have to choose among several recipes.
     Zack and Gloria had been married for five years and they had two young children together. Gloria was a stay-at-home-mom but she also doubled as Zack’s unofficial psychological therapist. Whenever he needed to vent out about something at work or if things just weren’t going his way, he called up Gloria and she would drop whatever she was doing to listen and offer some advice.
     Zack’s company (Mercury Shoes) manufactured running shoes and sometimes customized a pair for some of their more famous clients. Some of the popular basketball shoes and football cleats and tennis shoes were also manufactured by Mercury Shoes. There was a fountain of application resumes waiting for someone in management to look through. Mercury Shoes was a popular company to work for. Dinah, Zack’s manager wanted him to set up an Intranet where she could flip through the digital rolodex and key in metadata notes about the different client contact lists. She wanted a master rolodex where some of the specialized clients would be on, and then she wanted individual rolodexes where each of the clients was scaled down more specifically.
     Gloria’s fountain of lists was still on her mind. Her children were still too young to go to school, so she took care of them at home every day. The problem in their family situation was, that Gloria wanted to go to work too. She knew that she just had to wait until the kids were old enough to take care of themselves and then she could apply to as many jobs as she wanted. Gloria had written two children’s books and was thinking of doing a video where she read them out loud to a video audience and then she would upload the video up to a video website. She just didn’t have the technical expertise to pull off such a project. One thought that came to her was to write another children’s book until she could figure out how to create and upload such a video.
     Zack came home in the afternoon and asked Gloria to unravel what Dinah had asked him to do with the computer application that he was working on.
     “Dinah wanted me to pick out an id index for each cluster of specialized clients that we have. The id number has to represent the typical member of each particular cluster. Do you have any ideas as to how I can come up with a viable solution for her request?” asked Zack.
     Gloria didn’t have a clue but she put on a brave face and said, “Why don’t you take each cluster and fish for a specific thing about it. For example, if the clusters are in alphabetical order, why not pick the person with the longest last name within that cluster.”
     “That’s brilliant!” shouted Zack.
     The Monday of the following week, Dinah called in her senior software engineers, including Zack into the conference room to talk about where each of them were on their individual projects. When it came to Zack’s turn to report in on what his game plan was for choosing the one particular id number for each specialized cluster, he told them about his wife Gloria’s idea (without directly telling them that it had been her idea, of course). Everyone, especially Dinah was impressed by the simplicity yet complexity of his strategy. By basing it on the longest last name of each letter-group in the alphabet, every single one in each list would be included, because if the longest last name was being scrutinized, those last names that came before it would also have their turn at being analyzed. Meaning that if the number of letters was what the computer was looking for, then by starting with the longest name, all the last names would be inclusive of being looked at as well.
     Gloria was at home still wondering how she could generate an income for herself. She wanted to update the two children’s books that she had written. Somehow the files for the graphics of the books had been lost when Zack changed out her hard drive for a more current one. She probably just had to move forward and write and draw for some more children’s books. That week, as usual both Gloria and Zack had a fountain of lists on their minds. For Gloria the first item on her church-related list was to chat with her neighbor on the phone about trying different recipes for the next after-church bake sale.
     Zack’s list of items included writing some computer methods to first discern if the footwear client was a customer that they provided customized shoes to or not. Then if he or she was a special client, then he needed a method that determined what the first letter of that person’s last name was. Finally, he would cluster all those special clients with the same first letter of their last names and count the number of letters in each of their last names. Each cluster would represent each letter of the alphabet and the client with the biggest number from each cluster will have their id number as the index of that cluster/group. It was all coming together.
     Gloria was almost sure that she wanted a video presence on the Internet. Therefore, she reached out to her friends for some weight loss and beauty advice. She took her children for walks using a two-seated stroller and she went to the cosmetics department of the different department stores and got makeovers and make-up tips. She bought some Zumba exercise DVDs and exercised in her living room while still keeping an eye on her children.
     Zack summed up what Gloria had tried to explain to him, “Gloria, what you were trying to say about choosing a particular index from a list of members of a table of lists is to try to pick the member that, upon individual analysis, will include the rest of the members of that same list in taking a turn at being looked at. I know it was a mouthful, but basically out of a group of people, you pick the one to assess that would give all of the other people from the group an equal time of sequential assessment. Yes, that was a mouthful as well. I’m just glad that you have a bird’s eye perspective on this. Alleluia for that!”