Balanced Budget

OK, I know I could be blogging about out ineffective government, and how nothing but crap comes out of Washington, but Garbage in/Garbage out. Plus, maybe I’ll talk about that tomorrow when I am sitting at home not working. For now, I want to post about an idea that would have the government turning a profit in a few years. An idea that will never get out of Washington. Let’s legalize pot. OK, nothing new, but hear me out.

1. Cost savings – Think of all the money our government uses to enforce the law on pot. Billions of dollars go into the drug war. Now, I know, legalizing pot will not stop the drug war, and nor should it, but at least the portion we spend on pot could go to better use. Also, one must consider jails and the cost of putting pot smokers into prison. That would free up a lot of cells and reduce costs there.

2. Taxes – Now, here is where I go a little further out on a limb. Let’s not tax pot. I can just hear some people asking “Why the hell not?” Well, I say don’t tax pot, tax junk food! Pot smokers alone could balance the budget. However, this policy would have other positive effects. One of the reasons we have such high healthcare costs is that obesity in this country is skyrocketing. We are one of the fattest countries in the world, and now we are paying the price with health care costs. And we are all paying it, not just the obese. In theory (and I know this is only in theory), raising the costs of junk food would decrease the demand. Maybe, as a country, we would get a little bit healthier. Putting my economics degree to good use here.

3. Regulation – Now this would actually increase the government’s budget. However, If the government regulates marijuana, the customer could be a little more sure of what he is getting. Fewer pollutants in what current pot smokers are going to use anyway. And maybe with regulations, we could make those users, and the public as a whole, safe in other aspects (like fewer high drivers?).

4. And think of the money that could be made if one legalizes pot. Right now only criminals are raking in the profits. You could build entire businesses around the pot industry. Sellers, growers, pot bars. The rich could use this to get even richer! Now how can congress not support that?

I admit, this is not a perfect plan, but it’s better then the failed plan currently in place. And before people start saying “great, another idea from a pot smoker”, I am not a smoker, and nor do I want to be. Cigarettes are legal, and I am not a pack-a-day smoker, hell, I won’t touch them at all. I just think that our time and money can be put to better use.

Diving

Diving is a fantastic hobby to have, providing you are not claustrophobic. It can be expensive if you buy all the equipment. Wetsuits, BCD, Dive computer, weights, air tanks. You need all of these, and more to go diving, but of course you can rent them.

It is also a weird hobby to have. You are both completely alone and completely dependent on someone else. I’m not going to lie, I love my down time, and I love spending time away from everyone. After suiting up, and lugging all of the equipment to the dive location, there is nothing like sliding into the water, even if just to cool back off. That wetsuit is brutal when it is hot outside, but you need it when you are in 50 feet of water.

And once you are in the water, it is fantastic. The only thing you can hear is your own breathing. Yes, you have to deal with pressure changes, and those popping ears are just annoying as they pop every 2 feet. But the quietness, the peacefulness, it is incredible. No one around to bother you (usually other divers are respectful). No annoying calls. No texts. Completely cut off from the world above. You are at peace.

However, there is the chance that something can go wrong. And if it does, you need your dive buddy, and you are dependent on him to help you. You need the dive buddy. You cannot dive without him/her. Well, I guess you can, but it is not recommended, even by me.

Not a Morale Boost

OK, I understand that you have to have some meetings. And I also understand that you may have to attend some of these meetings in one’s career. However, I have a few issues with today’s Town Hall.

1. Time of service awards – Yes, I understand, completing your 35th year working for the government is an achievement. I won’t say huge achievement, but it is an achievement. It deserves to be recognized. But 5 years? 10 years? That feels like, hey, you kept showing up, and we want to acknowledge that. I do not see the big deal, and for those sitting in the audience, being forced to sit there and wait for you to get a 5 year acknowledgement… not really helping my morale. Hell, I don’t even want my 10 year certificate. Also, thinking about it… Hey, you’ve been here 5 years. You are pretty low on the totem pole if we get a RIF.

2. Friday. Seriously, who schedules a meeting on a friday afternoon. Most workers mind is on the weekend already, admittedly, mine was on the weekend since Monday, but on a friday? When a significant portion of the work force is on AWS? Not a lot of thought there.

3. After lunch. OK, fine, you are going to schedule a meeting after lunch. Foods settling, food comas are set in. Whatever, I can handle the after lunch. However, add that to it being a Friday? And some of have to leave early cause it’s our short day.

4. End of year. This one takes the cake. I can’t imagine the lack of thought that went into scheduling a meeting at year end (and then making it mandatory). Congrats, you just cost the government more money. Admittedly, my contract work is mostly done, so I don’t need to stay late, but I am a lucky one. You have people working through the weekend trying to get remaining funds onto contract. Now you are taking 3 hours out of their normal day and they are going to have to make up those hours somewhere. Guess what tax payers, they are working this weekend for an extra three hours.

You combine all of this, and you have one angry employee (way to boost my morale). They are lucky that they told me I can’t work overtime, I had to leave mid meeting. Lucky for them, and lucky for me. I don’t think my career could have handled me asking which idiot made this meeting.

Judging by the snoring in my one ear, and the gum chewing in the other, I can tell that the people behind me cared about what was being said.

The Power of Smell

On the way home today, I got hit with a familiar odor. One that brought back a flood of memories. Good memories. I blame the old beat up pickup truck, and the fact that I drive a MINI Cooper, but I swear it smelled like every go-kart I have ever driven. That smell, plus the fact that the MINI is just a go-kart on steroids, brought back these memories.

1. Florida – Down near Daytona to see the Daytona 500. Racing my sister. At the end of the race, I pull in and park the kart. What does my sister do? She panics and drives at top speed into the back of my parked kart. I can still hear my mother screaming “Break, Amanda, Break!”.Though, that may only be because she has told the story so often…

2. Pennsylvania – Out to go see the race in Pocono. Actually, that’s not right, I was there to work on a race team with my father. One night, the whole team goes out to a go-kart track and races each other. I remember racing professional drivers, crew members, and my father. Being battered around the track and still holding my own. I remember the crew chief telling me that he was trying to wreck me. Great times. We won’t mention that we got kicked out of a couple of track facilities that night.

3. Florida part II – On a band trip (yea, I know, Band Geek). Being on an oval go-kart track racing some of my friends. The cars were enclosed, had to get in through the roof (which collapsed on someone). Beating and banging on each other, pushing people out of the way, anything for that win.

4. Seaside – Racing my father on the Funtown Pier and almost killing him. I clearly remember seeing the underside of his kart as he almost flipped over.

Ah, that smell. The memories. The good times. The getting kicked out of the tracks for being too aggressive, and trying to alter the speed regulators to go faster.

Renting your name

Couple of random thoughts…

1. I have to admit, it feels weird having the URL of Brianjaneczek.com. I mean, you are basically renting your own name. And making sure that no one else uses gets the privilege of using your name. Not that any one would want Brian Janeczek, just learning to spell it would take years. Sometimes I still get it wrong. And the amount of times I get emails starting with “Brain”. Ok, I understand getting the last night wrong. But really? Brian?

2. Super spiders. Today, while out for a walk during lunch, I walked through what can only be called a super web. It was one strand, but as far as I can tell this spider connected a building and a tree that were 15 to 20 feet apart. It was thick and super sticky. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I ran into another one at another part of the campus. And at least 7 other people hit the same web. It must have been entertaining on the outside seeing all these people randomly stop and react to some unseen thing. I did not scream like an eight year old girl, only because I haven’t seen the spider. Yet.

Weird Day

OK, had a weird day at work today, and have to make some statements about it.

1. I don’t mind you teasing me, making fun of my hobbies, heck, I do that myself a lot. However, if you are going to use my geekness to make fun of me, please use the correct terms. Two friends were talking about an email, and one, complaining that she didn’t understand what was in the email said that she was going to need me to translate, since it is all kumquat to her. Kumquat??? Klingon! Klingon is the correct Star Trek reference. And I cannot speak more than a few words… I mean, damn. Too late.

2. I can make myself feel so stupid sometimes. Today, for example, I read that 93% of American cannot name the first four presidents. Now, I can name the first 4, but I tried naming all 43 (it’s 43, not 44). I got up to 27, but sadly, I couldn’t remember the names of presidents that I read the biographies I read, Like Grants. I couldn’t remember Grants name! Then, I tried naming all 50 states. I got up to 46, no repeats. Couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the last 4.

3. I had a hard time getting my mind on work today. Not a big surprise since you read this far. I can’t even pin point when it started. I got a lost of work on in the first few hours, but as the day wore on, I could’t keep it up. I couldn’t get my mind into the work. By the end of the day, I was testing my knowledge in Klingon and US States… Not the most productive use of my day. Especially at year end.

Another Season

I admit it, I watch old shows. Shows that haven’t been on the air in decades in some cases. I just started watching season 7 of The X-files. I don’t know why, I’ve seen this show dozens of times, but I always find it entertaining. It’s got drama, humor, science fiction, an attractive… umm, never mind. Anyway, this show did last 2 seasons too long. Like most science fiction shows, it should have ended at season 7. Star Trek TNG, DS9, Voyager, all science fiction shows that ended after season 7, and left me wanting more. But would they have been able to deliver? Well, that’s what the movies are for.

Buffy, X-files, and many other shows just kept going and going and going. I would have been happier if they left me wanting more. The later seasons are still good, but the shows just went on for too long.

Having said that, I now have a fear that Doctor Who is going to go on for too long. The only thing saving Who is that they continually change up things with a completely new cast. This December, Matt Smith is ending his run as the Doctor, and I am curious where it will go next. I guess I have to wait until the next season to find out.

My Kids (ok, two aren’t mine)

So, after the last post, and after the wake up call I had this morning, I figured a post about my kids, my crazy roommates, would be a good follow up.

This morning, at 6:45 am, on a Sunday, my alarm cats went off. I guess I wasn’t waking up fast enough for Loki. He was on my chest, purring loudly, nosing my chin. This is a Sunday! I can sleep in and did my best to. But, I guess, the cats had other ideas. Angel (name does not fit her personality), jumped onto the bed. Purring. Now this normally wouldn’t bother me, except, Loki and Angel don’t get along.

So, within moments there was a fight. Loki was still on my chest! The only loser was me. There was cat hair and blood everywhere, blood was mine. So, needless to say, I was now up. Go to feed the cats, who are of course under my feet (I guess the possibility of food will make the cats get along). As soon as the food is down, they all start chowing down. They take three bites, and stop! What the hell? I had to bleed and all they wanted was a morning snack?

I remember fighting with my sister a lot when I was younger. But we had nothing on these cats. At least Loki isn’t going to lock Angel out of the house.

Little Brats

There once was a time when I was open to having kids of my own. It wasn’t even all that long ago, maybe 5 to 7 years ago. Even when I was married, I was open to the idea. It wasn’t necessary for me, but I wasn’t against it. I have since learned that my biological clock must have been put in backwards.

I do not want kids. Not anymore. They annoy me, drive me nuts, frustrate me, And I don’t even have to deal with them full time. My cat is more than enough for me. I don’t want the responsibility. I’ve been told, It’s different when they are you own. However, I am usually told this by people without kids, or people who wanted them and love them even when the kids are not their own. Not exactly the best people to take advice from. Just a little biased.

I’d have to grow up. No more Sky Diving. No more Cage Diving. No more poking sharks with sticks. I enjoy my time alone, you seem to get a lot less of that when you have the little brats.

I am perfectly happy being the crazy friend. The one who no ones what he is going to do next. What crazy stunt will be pulled next. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with visiting friends who have them, then leaving those kids at home.

And I can not say enough how grateful I am that I did not get kids out of that marriage. Too much responsibility for a 35 year old child.

Bella

So, the shark at the top of my page is Bella. Yes, I know the sharks name. Heck, I can identify her in a picture in People magazine. Yes, I know, I have a problem. I am fascinated by sharks. I think they get a bad rap. The are not unpredictable eating machines. The are amazing, graceful, incredible, cautious… eating machines. Even Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, admits that he made a mistake and would not have written Jaws if he knew then what he knows now.

More people are killed each year jellyfish than by sharks. Maybe instead of Jaws, it should have been “Tentacles”. But I guess the shark looks scarier, and that is what we need, the look. Although, frankly, jellies creep me out.

I used to be a huge fan of Shark Week on discovery. After diving Guadeloupe however, I wonder how much footage is filmed just to get those few moments of an aggressive shark. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still get excited about shark week, and I’ll still watch it. But it is no longer as big of a deal for me. This year I only managed to watched one show during the week. Granted, it was partially filmed in Guadeloupe, and that’s what I noticed.

And, if you ever get the chance, you should dive Guadeloupe. The water was clear. The sharks were amazing. The water was so clear, that even the seals were not afraid of the sharks

.seal and shark 2