The First Sign of Spring

Today I saw the first official sign of the spring season. And I don’t mean that the Canadian Geese were heading home or that I saw the first robin of the year. After all, those are stupid birds, and I just don’t care. No, neither of those are the first official signs of spring.

Today was the first day that I was able to drive home with the windows down and the sunroof open. I love driving like that, wind blowing through the car, my music playing loudly (in this case some classical music), and just having a nice stress free ride home. I know from experience that other drivers blaring their music are annoying, but I don’t care. And truthfully, I don’t think my music was that loud, at least not today. It’s not like I was playing punk music, this was classical music I was blaring. So today I drove home with the window down, music playing, and that is when I saw the first official sign of spring.

My car has so many loose papers in it. Most of them are my gaming lists that I have played over the winter. The back of the car is a total mess. And you never really know how messy your car is till you drive a few miles with the widows down. The sheets of paper blowing all over the car were actually a distraction. Hell, the noise they made was almost louder than the music I had blaring. Some of the papers actually went from the “trunk” to the front seat where I caught them before they flew out the window.

Again, it was a fun drive, but that was really the first sign of spring. It was also a sign that I desperately need to clean the MINI. Inside and out.

Finally, spring has sprung. At least till the next snowstorm.

 

Lethologica

While trying to write yesterday’s blog, I was drawing a complete blank on a word I wanted to use. To make it worse, I knew the idea and the meaning behind the word, but I could not remember what the word was. I couldn’t even think of any synonyms to use in its place. I was just blanked.

If it weren’t for the help of a friend, I would never have gotten that word into my blog. It was a common word, and she immediately knew what I was looking for. That’s when she taught me a new word. Lethologica. Noun – When you think of something, but the word for it escapes you. According to Wikipedia, the most reliable of resources, Lethologica is a psychological disorder that inhibits an individual’s ability to articulate his or her thoughts by temporarily forgetting key words, phrases or names in conversation.

I apparently have Lethologica in a bad way. And yes, I realize that I have self-diagnosed myself, but I am always forgetting key word or sentences when I am in a conversation with someone. I mean, I know I am terrible with names, I always have been. It takes me forever to actually remember names of people I meet frequently. But I am talking about in the middle of a conversation, just drawing a blank on key words that I commonly use. And I feel so stupid when that happens.

I fear that this is sign of me getting older. I wonder if I am suffering from Alzheimer’s at my not so young age. It is actually a little scary when you cannot remember a commonly used word.

So, please bear with me as I struggle to find the correct word to express my…. my….

Damn it.

Common Traits

Last night I was hanging out at a bar with my local friends. It was nice to get out and go someplace different (we are usually at Friday’s). I had a veggie burger, a couple of Guinness’s, and listened to a live band. It was a really good night, a really fun night. And during the night, while talking to these friends, I realized that all of my friends, well, most of my friends, have similar traits. Nearly all of my friends are a little crazy, but it was a different trait that really hit me last night.

A lot of my friends have this massive presence. And I don’t mean that they are massive, just that they have this massive presence. Although, a good portion of my friends are large, six feet tall or more, that is not what I am talking about. They control a room when they enter it. The have this aurora of confidence.  They exude confidence. (Thanks MaryBeth for helping me remember that word) They are not quiet when put into a place where they know no one. They are they type of person who would walk up to people they don’t know and include them.

It’s odd though, since I don’t really have that in myself. I am the person would usually sit quietly, even meekly, in a corner of the room. Yes, when people get to know me, I’ll open up and become my loud and obnoxious self, but on first introductions, I’m pretty damn quiet. Where my friends, when they enter the room, they become the center of the room. In fact, my friends probably had to put in most of the effort to get to know me. They were the one’s that had to pull me out of my shell of solitude.

I wish I were more like my friends. I wish I had that level of confidence. But it seems I will always be the guy who sits quietly in the corner. Until you get to know me, then you will wish I were the guy who stayed quietly in the corner.

Three Thing Friday

1. The Red Green Show – I was introduced to this television show when I lived up in Connecticut. I can’t even accurately describe it. It’s a Canadian television show that aired on PBS in my local area. It’s sort of a skit show like SNL. Now, it aired from 1991 to 2006, and I own every season on DVD, and I am proud of it. I can’t say that every episode is good, hell, I can’t even admit to every season being good. But for the most part it makes me laugh, and with my addictive personality I needed to have every single episode. “Quando omni flunkus moritati”

2. BS Meters – Someone at work put in writing that they are overwhelmed with managing the MITRE contract. This is interesting since we cannot figure out what she does on the MITRE contract. As far as we know, she reviews some small funding documents (doesn’t create them), allows funding to go through LMP (which is a click on a website), and passes on paperwork. Members of my team do in ninety percent of the legwork, and she is not even a member of the MITRE team. She does support us, but what she does shouldn’t take that much effort. In fact, all of our BS meters were pegged to the max. However, since I work for the government, I should not be surprised.

3. Xfinity – Seems like no matter how many times I tell Comcast, sorry, I mean Xfinity, that I am happy with Verizon, they still knock on my door to try to get me to change. Now, I have had Comcast in the past, and I would rather go without the Internet than have Comcast again. I am sure that my Verizon service is a little more expensive, but not having Comcast makes it worthwhile. Verizon was rated one of the worst companies in customer service, however Comcast was rated the worst. Why would I make that switch and put myself through that. Besides, in over three years in MD, I have yet to actually call Verizon customer service. I have had friends who have had to call Comcast multiple times. I know what they went through, and it just sounded painful.

Please go away, I don’t want Xfinity. Changing your name did not change your business.

Productivity!

Finally, after almost a full week, the team’s website is up and running! Well, mostly. We are still having issues. Sometimes we can’t complete the job we are doing without the site crashing, sometimes we can’t even log in. However, I was able to process some of my customer’s documents, finally. I am now less than four days behind, but I should be able to start catching up tomorrow.

However, one thing we did find out today is that due to guidance, our website can only send out update emails to address that end in mail.mil. Which is interesting since most of the government, DoD included, does not use that ending. Most use a .mil address (just not mail.mil), but we do interact with a lot of .gov addresses, and even some .org addresses. So, thanks to new “security” guidance, our website has lost some of it’s usefulness.

In fact, I would say that the government websites are becoming so secure that only Chinese hackers can get in. In fact, I think I did say that not all that long ago.

But, after three full days of low productivity, it felt really great to actually be able to do my job. Granted, I had to stop for 45 minutes to brief the office on what I do again (third time in four months). But once I got back to my seat, it actually felt great to be productive.

Sure, I may think that the environment in the office is toxic. Sure, I may think that the boss may be creating a hostile work environment. But to actually work, it made the day slightly less boring. Now I can actually work rather then tell my customers that I will get to it when our site is back up.

Please don’t sue

“I am aware that activities I may engage in while on the adventure are hazardous activities, and hereby state and acknowledge that I am voluntarily participating in the adventure with full knowledge and understand of the danger involved, and agree to accept any and all risks of injury, damage or death, while I am engaged in the adventure. I verify this statement by placing my initials here:”

I initialed this statement today, right were I was supposed to, and right where I did about two years ago, meaning I am one step closer to the adventure of a lifetime. Well, not really the adventure of a lifetime since this will be the second time I am taking this trip, but that does not reduce my excitement for my upcoming cage diving trip.  I officially paid off the rest of what I owed, and now I just have to book some flights and a hotel room, then I am good to go.

Now, the question remains as to why I would take this trip a second time when there are so many places in the world that I have yet to dive. Well, I don’t have a good answer for that. I admit that I want to dive the Bahamas, the Great Barrier Reef, and so many other places, but going to see these beautiful great white sharks a second time is something I really want to do. But the clear waters of Guadeloupe, and the great white sharks and seals that live in their waters are amazing.

The experiences from last time are etched in my memory (at least until the alcohol kills those particular brain cells) and I cannot wait to create more memories. These animals are so amazing that even the HD footage during Shark Week does not do sharks justice. They are so graceful, and even peaceful, in the wild. Yes, I am sure that there are some points where they are highly aggressive, but when I saw them last time, they were just peaceful.

So, mom and dad, if something does go wrong, and I do something stupid, please don’t sue the operators. I probably did something they warned against, and possibly even provoked the shark. It’s not their fault that I’m an idiot at times. And realize, that through the screaming (if there was any) and agony (if I lived long enough to have agony) I died doing something I enjoyed.

And if I don’t die (and dying is highly unlikely), understand that I will probably do this all again.

And now, to update my will.

 

Rehash

I would like to say that today’s town hall meeting was a waste of my time. However, since the team’s website is still not operational, I wasn’t going to accomplish much of anything anyway. Actually, excluding a few random questions, I once again couldn’t get my job done. So, rather than rehash the fact that we still cannot get anything done in my office, I’ll talk about the awards ceremony/town hall.

First, it should never have been made mandatory. Like I said, I couldn’t get anything done, but I know there were many people on the other teams who lost 3 hours of their day (if not more). It’s not like we learned much in this town hall, although it was mildly comforting for them to say that our jobs were safe until at least FY16. I don’t know how much I believe that statement, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt. And I could have told everyone else that they said that.

Second, the awards ceremony was interesting. And by that, I mean really pointless. People got awards for their time in service. Which, when it came to the 40 years, or the 30 years, or even the 25 years, I can understand. But when we are giving awards for 5 and 10 years, I have issues. It just seems to be a waste of time and paper. I was supposed to get a 10-year service award today, but I declined to receive it. It wouldn’t boost my morale, and in fact, by declining the recognition, I probably did more for other people’s morale just by not adding to the wasting of their time. And for the performance rewards, I am pretty sure that I saw the same group of people collect awards for the second time in a row.

I know I posted some of these comments before, but we do seem to do the same things over an over in this government. Why do we make these pointless meetings mandatory? Why do we have to go sit and listen and clap for people who get an award for continuing to show up?

Because, this is the government, and we don’t understand that some people would rather just do their job and be left alone.

Down Day

Today was a fantastically unproductive day at work. I would even go as far as saying that it was epically unproductive. And it wasn’t even my fault. Our website has to be on a new server by the end of the month due to some new requirements or something like that. No one actually told me why, just that the site has to be moved. Now, my co-worker, one of the one’s who actually uses his brain, told the people who were going to transfer the site to move it last Friday. This made sense since a good portion of the office was out due to RDOs, Doctor appointment, and whatever else. So, since the staff was short already, Friday made sense. I cannot and will not fault him for that choice.

Now, while moving the website on Friday made sense, it also cause problems that no one foresaw. These problems cause the website to be down all day today. Well, not exactly down, but no one can log into the site. No one. I couldn’t process all of the documents I received since Thursday, thanks to me being out on Thursday and Friday. And since I am covering for another co-worker, I have a lot documents that need processing. I couldn’t even answer 99% of the questions I got during the day.  Even answers to simple questions eluded me. For example, someone asked about a funding document from last year, but without the team’s website, I couldn’t even say if we received it. It was embarrassing and frustrating.

Now, the fact they can’t even tell us what happened in a serious concern. They don’t know when the site will be back up and running. And due to some other regulation, we can’t even bring up the old site. It has something to do with only being able to have one site up at a time, and they can’t fix the new one without it being up and running. Well, up, since it sure isn’t running.

It’s amazing how reliant we have become on the Internet. If the site goes down, productivity slips to near zero. Yes, I got some stuff done, but it wasn’t much. I hope tomorrow is better, because even I felt guilty for getting paid for a day this unproductive. It’s embarrassing that I work for the Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM), or as I call it, The Cannot Electronically Communicate command.

The Little Things

Sometimes, it really is the little things. It can be the little things that can make or break a day. And you always should look for those little things, even if they make you day only a little better.

This morning, for example, I woke up to Loki lying on my back purring away. Ok, I didn’t need to be up at six am, but waking up to him is better than an alarm clock. When I finally got my tail moving, I walked down stairs to start my day by feeding the cats. Sadly, the first thing I saw was some cat puke, which made me feel a little sad. However, where the puke was made dealing with it a little easier. Usually I am cleaning up hairballs and puke on my rugs, carpet, or hardwood floors. The worst place I have had to deal with was when a cat hair a hairball incident in my bed, while I was sleeping in it. At 2 AM. Yuck. But this time, the cat threw up on the mat that I keep their food bowls on. This made it extremely easy to clean. So, while I could be upset that one of my cats wasn’t feeling well (and probably just ate too fast) and that I had to clean up after the little furball, I was thankful that it was an unusually easy clean.

And yesterday was even better. I went to a flea market for gaming hobbyists. Now, I planned on spending just $140, and I spent $150. That was pretty close to plan, but what I got made it worth it. For example, I bought a book that usually sells for 70 pounds on an English Website, which would be about 120 U.S. dollars. I paid $50 for it, and got two more outdated books that will probably be good reads for another $30. Those purchases, plus a few more, made the day. The fact that my team lost the game later in the day could not bring my day down. And the fact that a friend got an even better deal on something else couldn’t bring my day down. In fact, the deals he got actually made the day even better.

So, always look for the little things. If you are having a bad day, they may make it a little better. And if you are having a good day, they may make it even better.

To quote the Monty Python song, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

God Hates Freds

I take no joy in the fact that Fred Phelps died the other day. As the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, he created an organization that as a whole acted reprehensibly.  However, everything that they did, from preaching that gays should be put to death to protesting funerals, only made him and his church look bad. Yes, what they did probably hurt those at the funerals in ways I cannot begin to understand, but I still do not hate him. Why do I not hate this man? Well, he is not worth the time and effort it takes to hate him.

I have admitted that I am an atheist, so I don’t believe this guy is suffering damnation. I personally believe that he just died, that’s it. It is obvious that the man was suffering in this world. He couldn’t even practice what the bible preaches. He couldn’t love his fellow man. I never got how people can claim parts of the bible should are set in stone, but other parts are just metaphor. It is entirely possible that this man also believe slavery should be allowed, and that tattoos are sinful, but the majority of what he spoke out against was the gays. He had a vendetta, and I just do not get it.

According to most religious extremists, God loves all, provided you believe in the same religion, aren’t gay, and so on and so on. If there is an afterlife, I don’t know where Phelps would go. Me being me, I do have a bit of a vengeful side and I hope he is suffering now in ways that he caused others to suffer, but that seems beneath me. I honestly hope that he is just at peace, and I hope the people he terrorized are at peace now too.

The WBC is still around; it’s not going anywhere. Yes, Phelps founded the church, but he didn’t make up the entire church. There are still plenty of “crazies” who belong to this particular church. They will still protest funerals, call for the lynching of gays, and just become a general nuisance.  But they are also the butt of so many jokes. Every time they open their collective mouths, they just show how far beneath the rest of us they are.

If George Takei takes no joy in this man’s death, I have no right to. And while I would find it ironic if people protested his funeral, I think it would be better if no one showed up.

So no, I don’t hate this man. And no, I don’t care if he is suffering or not. I am better than that, and I am better than he was. It’s time to let go of the hate and move on with life.