TEXT="#FFFFFF" LINK="#35333D" VLINK="#717175">

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History

The central computer notices just about everything. Keeps track of every key you hit on the keyboard, all day long, what time you hit it, down to the microsecond, whether it was the right key or the wrong key, how many mistakes you make and when you make them. You're only required to be at your workstation from eight to flve, with a halfhour lunch break and two ten-minute coffee breaks, but if you stuck to that schedule it would definitely be noticed, which is why Y.T.'s mom is sliding into the flrst unoccupied workstation and signing on to her machine at quarter to seven. Half a dozen other people are already here, signed on to workstations closer to the entrance, but this isn't bad. She can look forward to a reasonably stable career if she can keep up this sort of performance. The Feds Stin operate in Flatland. None of this three-dimensional stuff, no goggles, no stereo sound. The computers are all basic flat-screen two-dimensional numbers. Windows appear on the desktop, with little text documents inside. All part of the austerity program. Soon to reap major benefits.

She signs on and checks her mail. No personal mail, just a couple of mass-distributed pronouncements from Marietta.


I've been asked to distribute the new regulations regarding office pool displays. The enclosed memo is a new subchapter of the EBGOC Procedure Manual, replacing the old subchapter entitled PHYSICAL PLANT/ CALIFORNIA / LOS ANGELES/ BUILDINGS/OFFlCE AREAS/PHYSICAL LAYOUT REGULATIONS /EMPLOYEE INPUT/ GROUP ACTIVITIES.

The old subchapter was a flat prohibition on the use of office space or time for "pool" activities of any kind, whether permanent (e.g., coffee pool) or one-time (e.g., birthday parties).

This prohibition still applies, but a single, one-time exception has now been made for any office that wishes to pursue a joint bathroom-tissue strategy.

By way of introduction, let me just make a few general comments on this subject. The problem of distributing bathroom tissue to workers presents inherent challenges for any office management system due to the inherent unpredictability of usage -- not every facility usage transaction necessitates the use of bathroom tissue, and when it is used, the amount needed (number of squares) may vary quite widely from person to person and, for a given person, from one transaction to the next. This does not even take into account the occasional use of bathroom tissue for unpredictable/creative purposes such as applying/removing cosmetics, beverage-spill management, etc. For this reason, rather than trying to package bathroom tissue in small one-transaction packets (as is done with premoistened towelettes, for example), which can be wasteful in some cases and limiting in other cases, it has been traditional to package this product in bulk distribution units whose size exceeds the maximum amount of squares that an individual could conceivably use in a single transaction (barring force majeure). This reduces to a minimum the number of transactions in which the distribution unit is depleted (the roll runs out) during the transaction, a situation that can lead to emotional stress for the affected employee. However, it does present the manager with some challenges in that the distribution unit is rather bulky and must be repeatedly used by a number of different individuals if it is not to be wasted.

Since the implementation of Phase XVII of the Austerity Program, employees have been allowed to bring their own bathroom tissue from home. This approach is somewhat bulky and redundant, as every worker usually brings their own roll.

Some offices have attempted to meet this challenge by instituting bathroom-tissue pools.

Without overgeneralizing, it may be stated that an inherent and irreducible feature of any bathroom-tissue pool implemented at the office level, in an environment (i.e., building) in which comfort stations are distributed on a per-floor basis (i.e., in which several offices share a single facility) is that provision must be made within the confines of the individual office for temporary stationing of bathroom tissue distribution units (i.e., rolls). This follows from the fact that if the BTDUs (rolls) are stationed, while inactive, outside of the purview of the controlling office (i.e., the office that has collectively purchased the BTDU~that is, if the BTDUs are stored, for example, in a lobby area.

SnowCrash Cyborg Cyberspace OV