Three Thing Friday

1. Goldfish – “The crackers, Danny, the cheese things that you have at a party.” Sorry, a quote from The West Wing seemed appropriate.  I love these snacks, and not because I can pretend I am a shark, although I do seem to think of the jaws theme when I eat them. However, they are covered in salt. I know that salt is a preservative, but it seems like we over use it. And yes, I do like the taste, but I do not think we need to coat our foods completely. And of course, high salt increases one’s blood pressure. And after the Doctor appointment I had yesterday, my blood pressure is back to being a concern of mine. Every time I go to the doctor’s office and have my BP checked, I plug the results into my phone. And because I do this I know that my BP much higher than it was last year. So, I am thinking those salty snacks that I love so much will have to be removed from my diet. Damn.

2. Genetics – Speaking of blood pressure, the whole reason I watch my blood pressure comes down to genetics. My family has a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, thyroids issues, and who knows what else. Now, I have heard both arguments, its all genetics or it’s all on how you exercise and eat. I don’t think it’s one of the extremes; it is a combination of the two. Yes, my genetics play a role in my health; my family history just makes me have to work harder to keep my health in check.

I go to the doctors at least once a year for blood work and a regular check up, even when I feel fine, like I did yesterday. I know that the stress at work, and the recent stress at home could also be causing my blood pressure to spike, but I am going to try and take care of this now with a diet change. Less salty snacks. Damn that’s going to be hard.

3. Over Medicated – I will give my doctor credit, he didn’t even ask if I wanted to go onto blood pressure medicine. Yes, I could easily have asked, and probably been prescribed some BP medicine to bring it down. One of my friends even recommended that. But it seems the easy way out. It seems like once you go onto the medication; you may become reliant on it. I truly believe that doctors over prescribe medication in this country. I am not saying that some people don’t need the medication. My father, for example, would probably have died by now if he weren’t given his BP medication. In some cases it is necessary, but in some cases it high BP should be brought down by other means. Then again, this country as a whole does seem to want the easy way out.

Day home

So, I am sitting here at home, not going into work, watching some TV. Drinking some coffee. Writing a blog. Why am I home on some random Thursday? Well, the fuse to one of the electrical lines in the kitchen keeps tripping. At first, I thought it was the new microwave. But after I moved that to a different line, the problem line tripped while I was trying to toast a bagel.

So, I of course did what any person who doesn’t trust his home fixing abilities would do. I jumped onto my computer and I googled it. And of course, the first thing I find is that if a fuse keeps tripping; it could create a fire hazard. A short in the line can cause an electrical fire. Now, I do not want to be responsible for making the cats homeless and burning down the neighborhood, so I made an appointment for an electrician to come and look into this. I was warned that the first ½ hour is going to cost me $95 dollars. I may need to find a new line of work.

And then yesterday, it happened. My friend pointed out that I could have checked if it was the fuse by swapping fuses and testing the line then. Oh, how I wish I thought of that earlier. And even if it is an issue with the lines themselves, there is a possibility it could be near the outlets, and that I could have fixed myself.

Of course, I could have also scheduled this all to happen a couple of days ago. Instead I booked the electrician to come a few days later on a Thursday. I left the fuse off and cooked on different lines in the kitchen. Now, why would I do that? Well, as I said, today is Thursday, and Thursday is pointless meeting day. It’s not that I made this a longer weekend; the electrician is getting me out of a pointless meeting. All for the low price of $95. Ok, maybe I didn’t think this through.

Still, at least I’m not at work.

It finally showed up

So, the package that I ordered on the ninth of March, and the package that was supposed to be delivered on the fourteenth, finally arrived in my mailbox. That is a whopping five days late. I know, it’s not actually that bad, There are worse things in life. And they, the people delivering the item, could use the excuse that a snowstorm stalled the delivery, but the darn thing was supposed to be in my hot little hands before the storm even hit. And since I was sick this past weekend, having the DVD’s would have been nice. I could have bummed out on the couch and watched these three seasons.

Now, this package traveled pretty damn far, and it did actually go in a circle. It was shipped from La Vergne, TN to Atlanta, GA to Memphis, TN (which is west of La Vergne) to Capitol Heights, MD and finally on to Aberdeen, MD. And somewhere in the mess of locations, the U.S. Post Office was notified about the package, which involved North Carolina in some capacity.

I have never had problems with UPS before. When UPS is in control of an item for the entire trip, it is usually delivered with no problems at all, and usually on time too. Actually, now that I think of it, I have never really had issues with USPS until I arrived here in MD. Since I have moved here, I have received more mail for my neighbors than I ever did when I lived in NJ. Sure, I know mistakes are made, but they seem to make them more often down here. And I am not even going to tell the story about the forwarding loop from hell that my friend couldn’t get out of. Short version is that he PO box was forwarding mail to his house, which was forwarding mail to his PO box. And no one in the post office seemed to know how to fix that.

And lets get to the fact that both UPS and USPS shipped this package. Why? What is the need for both companies to get their hands on this item? There are UPS trucks in my area all the time. In fact, as I type this, one just drove by my house. It probably comes down to UPS wanting to keep USPS in business so that UPS does not have to deliver actual mail.

So, I am finally watching this TV show. I am content, but not happy that I haven’t started earlier. But at least I did get my order, even if it was late.

And at least I had the enjoyment of tracking my item all over the lower east coast.

Am I smarter than my cats?

No. Well, that was a short and easy blog.

But I have been thinking about this. I have lived with these furballs for over a year now. And while I do enjoy their company, I am also having jealousy issues. Let’s start with the obvious. I am the one who goes into work for nine hours a day while they get to stay home and sleep and eat and sleep. At least that’s what I assume they are doing while I am at work. When I am home on a weekend, that’s what they tend to do. I really want that life. I want to be able to sleep all day, but someone needs to earn cash to pay for our food. It reminds me of when I was married (probably shouldn’t have said that).

On top of paying for their food, I also have to clean up their output, from both ends. I have to clean their cat litter, hairballs, and I am the one who cleans up the mess when they throw up. I don’t see them doing that for me when I am feeling sick (or get too drunk). Actually, I don’t think that they would care if I left the hairballs and puke where I found it, but I care.

Now, those are the obvious statements that have been said many times before. But lets look beyond that. These cats have never had to survive on their own and have never been out in the wild. They have never had to catch their own food; it comes from the giant weird looking thing every day at the same time. And even how they treat their water supply shows how smart they can be. Loki likes his water from a fountain, a sink, or in a bowl in the master bathroom. Please don’t ask me to explain that. I never thought much of this until I read an article about why “domesticated” cats prefer their water away from their food supply. It turns out that they are still reacting to being wild cats. Apparently, if cats know their food is to close to their water supply, they know the water might be contaminated with germs, viruses, and other things that may get them sick. They are smart enough to know that moving water is healthier. This is why my fat cat either drinks from moving water or from a water supply away from his food supply. I would never have thought about that. I know that stagnant water should not be used as drinking water but I would never have thought about the food being to close to it.

Even how the cats use their litter shows how smart they are. The still cover up their leavings, or try to at the very least. They would do this in the wild to hide their presence from predators and prey. Yes, my cats have no predators to worry about (although I have been known to chase Loki around the house) and as for their prey, the canned cat food isn’t going to run away, but they still have that instinct.

And don’t give me that crap about opposable thumbs. Loki has managed to open doors (with door knobs, not the handles) all on his own. I have no idea how he does it. When we got hit with the earthquake, he was the smart one who stayed on the bottom floor. He doesn’t care if there is snow on the sidewalk while I am outside freezing. If he’s tired, he naps. If he’s hungry, he eats or gets me to feed him.

And I know that if I died, these cats would probably miss me until they ran out of food. Then I would become the cat food. Dogs will starve to death waiting for their owner to feed them. Cats will wait until they are hungry and then they eat their housemates. I can’t really consider them my pets. I am pretty sure I am only tolerated because I feed them.

And if left on our own in the wild, I think Loki and Angel would survive while Pips and I starved to death. And with our fatness, I am not sure who would starve first.

Another Delayed Opening

As the winter of 2013/2014 continues, we got hit with yet another snowstorm. I have lost count of how many times the post was closed or had a delayed opening. However, I do know that most of them have affected Monday’s work schedule, since my co-worker as off every other Monday, and he always seemed to miss out on these closings or delays. I do actually feel a little bad for him, not that I would donate him my leave, I don’t feel that bad. Plus, it’s my leave damn it.

Now, usually I will give all of the credit to the people clearing the roads and parking lots on post. They usually do an amazing job. In fact, I usually want them to plow my local community instead of who actually does, that’s how good of a job they do. Even today, the local roads here were terrible and I actually couldn’t wait to get on the main roads. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun driving on sheets of ice and roads of snow, but it wasn’t very safe for those around me. And never let anyone say you can’t get a front-wheel drive car sideways. It is easily done.

So yes, usually APG is plowed much better than my local streets. Not today though. Today, it seems like the people plowing were not given enough time to finish their job. And that made me wonder about the delayed opening. Since I have worked for the government, when it comes to delayed openings, I have learned they come in three categories. You have the 2-hour delayed opening, the 4-hour delay, and then you have “Post is closed.” Apparently those are the only options.

Today, we could have at least used a 3-hour delay. The people who plow the lots didn’t get to the lot I use until much after I arrived. I am not saying that a 3-hour delay would have solved all of the problems, but it would have made it better. The lot may have been plowed. I am also not asking for the 4-hour delay, although that would have been better than what we got.

So yes, I went into work, I trudged thought the “plowed” lot, I got into my office and started the day two hours later than normal. Not much got done, I can only assume most of my customers used the full days leave to stay home. I know of at least one person on my team that did that.

So, today was the first time I wasn’t happy with the job the APG DPW did with the parking lots. I don’t really blame them though; I really don’t think they were given enough time to plow an entire army base. Hopefully this is the last storm of the 2013/2014 winter. I am really looking forward to complaining about excessive heat, and those of you who complained about the cold winter are not allowed to say one word about the heat. If you do, I may have to punch you in the face. Or at least pay someone to do that for me.

I Confess

I confess, certain voices, when heard on the television, cause me to stop what I am doing and check out what is on. And usually, when I stop to check it out, I end up watching the entire show. It doesn’t matter if I have seen it before, or a hundred times before. Certain voices, certain people, cause me to stop because I know that whatever is on is going to be good.

The first of these select few is David Attenborough. Every time I hear this man’s voice, I know that a fantastic special about the earth or wildlife is on. And it is so bad that shows I own on DVD, like The Blue Planet, will still end up being watched if it is on TV. So while I have seen this show hundreds of times, I will watch it another time if I hear Attenborough voice.

Another person’s voice that causes me to stop and watch (and usually learn) is Dr. Michio Kaku. No matter what show this man is on, I must stop and watch. Granted, I usually leave my television on the Discover Science channel, and that is where you are almost guaranteed to catch Dr. Kaku, but I just noticed that I even stop and watched a commercial that he was in. And, it was a commercial for a show that he will be hosting. Which means that I will be watching whatever that show is from now until it is cancelled. And possibly even after that, depending if Discovery airs it in re-runs. Now, if I could only remember what the show’s name was.

I don’t know if I actually learn anything when I watch these shows, but I do enjoy them more than most sitcoms or other “normal” television shows. And I won’t even watch “reality” shows. In fact, if I could, I would limit myself to the discovery channels and BBC America. I don’t seem to watch many other stations, so to me they are unnecessary.

Besides, if I wanted to, I could just pick up one of Dr. Kaku’s books. I own three, read on of those, and hope to get to the rest soon.

Lesson Learned

I started writing a blog this morning right after I woke up. I started writing before breakfast and with no coffee. And I failed badly. I got a title and half of a sentence onto the page, and then stared at the screen for fifteen minutes. Not only could I not get my brain kicked into gear, I couldn’t even remember where that first sentence was supposed to go. I lost the train of thought for the entire blog. My brain felt like it was completely non-functional.

So, after taking the time to try and get the train back onto the tracks, I realized it was a lost cause. I got up, broke up a fight between Pips and Loki (stupid cats), and started getting breakfast and coffee ready. As soon as I got breakfast started, I realized my struggles in the morning would make a perfect and short Saturday morning blog. Sure, this isn’t what I intended to write about, that may come tomorrow, it may not.

That’s one thing I have noticed about my blogging, where I start heading is not usually where I finish. And I remember it once being said; it is not the destination, but the journey. I believe that was said by some Emerson guy. I can’t remember if it was Bill or Ralph. Doesn’t matter.

So, as this latest journey comes to a close, I must start thinking of the next blog.

And tomorrow, the coffee will be started before the next attempt at blogging.

Three Thing Friday

1. UPS/USPS. This UPS/USPS relationship has got to go. Certain items shipped via UPS occasionally get shipped to a post office location for the final leg of the delivery. How do I know this? Well, Barnes and Nobel shipped an item I ordered using UPS. It was shipped from Tennessee to Georgia and from there it was dispatched to a post office sort facility in North Carolina. This item has already traveled more in the last few days than I have in the last year. The package’s delivery was scheduled for today, but since it arrived in North Carolina late yesterday, I doubt I will be seeing it. Though I do have hopes of seeing it tomorrow. There are plenty of UPS trucks in the area; all I want is for the company that started the shipping process to finish it.

2. Idiots. There is a fisherman from England who has said that he wants to catch Lydia (the shark I mentioned yesterday) and take her where she wants to go. He wants to do this because great white sharks are not supposed to be near England. So, the self-proclaimed “Greatest Fisherman in the World” knows better than the shark herself. He wants to catch Lydia, because she must be lost, take her to someplace else, and release her into the wild, which is where she is already. Maybe this guy knows what he is talking about. Maybe he knows more about sharks than scientists who readily admit that they need to learn more. This guy’s plan is probably to take her to Australia, because we know that’s where sharks want to be right now.

3. Priorities. Some people need to get their priorities straight. Sure, I know we have a weekly meeting scheduled at the same time every week, but if someone I need to meet with can only met at that same time, I am going to chose to go to that meeting. My co-workers can catch me up on what I missed (which usually isn’t anything worth catching up on). However, what I learned this week is that these weekly meetings are the highest priority in the office. These meetings are even more important than meeting with an SES (higher position than the G 3/5 Director) about the current state of the contract. Me knowing what other people in the office is doing is more important than my customers. And no offence to my fellow office mates, I don’t care what you are working on, much like you don’t care what I am working on. So what did I learn? Screw the customer, screw the soldier, and get your ass to this pointless meeting. FYI – This weeks meeting didn’t tell me anything I needed to know.

Sharks vs. Planes

Just over a year ago, a large female great white shark was tagged off the coast of Florida. She has a tracker on her allowing scientists to follow her through the use of satellites, following her movements to learn more about the species. The people who tagged her named her Lydia.

Now, in the year since Lydia was tagged, she traveled up and down the American coastline and out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It looked like Lydia was heading for the great country of England, and I know people keeping an eye out for her. The fact that she is heading to England is interesting since, as far as I know, there have been no sightings of great whites near England. When one thinks about it, with the Gulf Stream current and the seal populations, English waters are not a bad place for a great white to make a home. Ok, the commute would suck, I wouldn’t swim the Atlantic, but I am not a shark.

I may not agree with how this shark was tagged as I think it could have been harmful to her. Just the stress alone probably could have been lethal, but since she is tagged, I am glad we are learning something from her.

Now, what does this have to do with planes? Well, as we all know a Boeing 777 recently disappeared. And while I do not buy into all of the conspiracy theories, which is odd since I love conspiracy theories, I do have to wonder why we can track a shark, even one as big as a great white, but we cannot track a plane the size of a 777. Yes, I understand that the transponder was turned off for some reason. I also understand that looking for a plane in the ocean is a monumental task, but we should have technology to track this plane to wherever it went down (if it did actually crash). We have boats crab fishing in Alaskan waters that have a device on board which once it is submerged alerts the coats guard where it sank. I know that these planes need to save weight wherever they can and I also know that the radar in that area of the world does not have the coverage that radar over America has.

But come on, we can tract sharks across the Atlantic, why can’t we get better tracking devices on these planes. Of course, if alien abduction was involved, a tracking device may not help.

The Mighty Brain

It is amazing how the human mind works, or in my case, doesn’t work. For example, yesterday morning, I woke up fine. Sure, I didn’t want to get up, but I woke up fine. In fact, I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm clock went off. I don’t normally get up at 4:45 in the morning on weekends, but my I can normally wake-up without my alarm clocks help during workdays. And yesterday, I functioned all morning as if it was Tuesday, which is convenient, since it actually was Tuesday. However, my boss needed to move our usual Wednesday meeting forwards a day due to being out at the time of the Wednesday meeting.

And then it happened. From that point on my brain functioned like it was Wednesday. I was fine before the meeting, but you change one little detail in my life, one little routine piece of the week, and my timing is off. The best (or worst) part of this mental time change was that I didn’t even realize it was still Tuesday till I was getting ready for bed. I was planning for a Thursday when it hit me how wrong I was. And due to this, I felt like I added a day to my workweek, which is rough since this one of my five-day workweeks.

It’s amazing how the human brain can be affected like that. Just think about that, one small minor change can screw up your internal clock. Add this current thought process (I thought today was Thursday all day) to the fact that we lost an hour over the weekend and my internal clock should be really screwed up. I have no idea how I awoke without the help of an alarm clock or my three alarm cats, but I did.

Even their internal clocks seem off, but they are cats, so it is hard to tell. They just seem to be napping at different times.

I wish I could sleep off this time change.