Preparation

Now that the trip is so close, it is time for me to prepare. One of the few things I learned from my ex-wife is to make a list. Currently on the list are the days of travel. That is it. Nothing else.

But what have I gotten done? Let’s see. I bought travel sized bathroom items, so those are off the list. I bought a new dress jacket. I looked for and found my passport, by goggles, and a shirt I use for diving. Finally, I am doing some laundry. It’s been a productive few days for me.

Now, none of this is actually packed. That is going to happen throughout the week. The cat sitter (my mom) will be here the day before I leave, so those little guys will be taken care of. I bought plenty of cat food, so that is not a concern.

Well, I guess it’s time to populate the list. Figure out exactly what I need to pack, what else needs to be washed, and if anything needs to be bought.

I guess it is safe to say that I am excited… time to go to see (and hopefully hug) some great white sharks.

I swear it’s safe!

Three Thing Friday

1. Climate Survey part… I forget – Well, another week went buy, and we had another briefing/training/meeting on the climate survey results. I will admit that in over ten years of working for the government, they have never briefed the results this many times. But we, the staff, keep getting asked how to fix it the problems that are systemic through the command. And while the same answer has come up time and time again, I do not believe that anything will come from these.

Sure things have changed. I truly believe that the director is trying to be nicer to his staff now. But now that he tries it just feels forced, and honestly, a little creepy. I will give him some credit for trying, but only some. I don’t think that this is a long-term fix. In fact, I am not even sure it is a short-term fix to one of the symptoms of the many problems.

I doubt that anything will come of all of these meetings, but I would love to be proven wrong.

2. The sniffles – Apparently at the start of the week I had a minor cold. I had a sore throat that didn’t bother me all that much. Around Wednesday, I had the sneezes. I sneezed so often that people started counting and lost count around the 25th sneeze. I sneezed so hard that it actually hurt. All of that, I could deal with easily. It’s the stuffed up nose that drive me nuts. I have been clearing it for 3 days now, and I am just tired of it. I feel fine, believe me, I know I sound like crap but I feel fine.

As I get older, recovery time seems to take longer and longer. This cold may have only bothered me for a day or two in the olden days… but no longer.

3. International Travel – One thing about working for the government is that they love to force you to go to briefings. Some of it isn’t all that bad, but others are just silly. One of this week’s briefings wasn’t so bad though. It was the international travel briefing, which covered travel safety by location. Now, while I think it was unnecessary for me to go since I do not plan to set foot on foreign soil, it was a nice reminder that my vacation is getting closer. I don’t need to know about the drug wars going on in Mexico, or about the kidnappings, or even about the gun battles that apparently happen almost daily.

However, if something bad happens, I have to deal with something much worse than drug dealers. I have to deal with great white sharks swimming in waters that have been chummed. Should be fun.

Busy, but not as busy

Today was a “hurry up and wait” kind of day. Everything that came in was a fire that had to be immediately taken care of, just so I can wait for the next fire to start. A funding document would come in, I had to rush to get it to the KO, with all of the proper documentation, and then wait again for the next funding document. Of course, these past few weeks my boss has been no help, as everything to him is a fire that had to be taken care of immediately.

Today, as I was leaving for lunch, he received a call and I fled knowing he was going to call me into his office. And I mean fled. I ran away from my cubicle avoiding his calling me into the office. It was lunchtime and I wanted to eat, not work on crap that could be handled later.

And as busy as it is in my office, I cannot imagine what the other offices are going through. Being below 1/3rd strength and the work not slowing up, they have it really rough. At least my team is still at full staff, for now. I do see that changing soon since nearly everyone on my team is looking for a new job, and I know that people on the other teams are doing the same.

At this rate the office will have thee 15’s, three 14’s, maybe two 13’s, no 12’s….

There are too many chiefs and not enough of us Indians. Must be a bitch to justify your position when all of your staff is fleeing like the building is on fire.

End of Year

Well, another year has come to an end. Sure, I had some days were I had to work late, but luckily it wasn’t many. I had a lot of added stress, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Sure, some MITRE employees are going to be temporarily laid off, but it shouldn’t be for very long. Sure, some CECOM policies have made live nearly impossible, but I have found some ways to work around those issues.

So, the stress of year-end has come to an end, but now we have the stress of the New Year. We have to get money on contract so MITRE can work. We have to actually do all of these work arounds, even though I feel that some of them are pushing the letter of the law. We have to get money in hand, documents processed, and everything approved. Just so I can do it all again in a year.

At least I am just over a week from my vacation. I must just continue to focus on that.

Just Another Weekend

I actually had a pretty busy weekend. I accompanied some friends to the local renaissance fair where I had my first alcoholic beverage in almost 4 weeks. I was dragged to a wine and painting event where I painted a sunflower that looked a little bit like a great white shark, and I actually got some cleaning done that just isn’t enough. You know what all of this means? I didn’t actually play any warhammer this weekend and I feel a tad lost because of it.

sunflower

Also, there is something wrong with me. I haven’t enjoyed working on my warhammer models in a long time. I haven’t enjoyed any wine in even longer. Even yesterdays plastic cup of Riesling wasn’t enjoyable at all. That is not to say that it wasn’t good. Actually, it tasted fine. I just didn’t enjoy it. And today’s event where there was plenty of wine to drink, I didn’t have a single glass. I haven’t watched any Doctor Who either. My favorite television show, and I am at least three episodes behind.

At least there are some good things that happened. I didn’t kill the kids that were (and are) screaming outside my windows. I did get to enjoy some fresh air and sun, the first this summer season (great timing, right?). I also bought some pumpkin cream cheese, which looked and sounded much better than it tasted.

Well, it was a good weekend. Time to prepare for a long and hectic week with meetings that will actually prevent me from getting my job done and which will ultimately reduce my morale. At least I won’t be suffering alone.

Three Thing Friday

1. Perfectly timed meetings – This was the last full week before year-end. I have paperwork piling up on my desk. I am trying to get projects extended so that the contractor does not stop working. I am trying to get the FY15 projects ready to go so that they can start as soon as the new FY starts, or as close as possible.

So when is the best time to schedule meetings that will keep me away from my desk so I cannot get my job done? That’s right, I lost half of a day this week, and I am losing a full day next week. I get it, not everyone in our office is financial personnel, so not everyone is currently in crunch time (though with how small the rest of the staff is, they are probably always in crunch time). I get that the abysmal morale is a concern of high command. But do you really think having a meeting about morale while I am trying to get my customer’s projects ready was a good plan?

How about we start scheduling these all day meetings after things quiet down.

2. Bombed – Not only are we, the United States, bombing the terrorist group ISIS, many other countries from the Middle East are as well. In fact, a pilot from the United Arab Emirates who led one of the attacks was a woman. A female pilot! Imagine that. So, the UAE had a female pilot bombing an organization who wants to take her rights away. And yet, some of our allies would not even let her drive if she lived in their country. Some of our “enemies” even give women more rights than our “allies”.

But it is nice to see that the local countries are now partaking in the action in the area. It’s nice that we don’t have to go it alone. I’d prefer peace, but I would prefer if we were not the only one’s enforcing it.

3. Screaming Kids – As I sit here typing this, I can hear a kid screaming bloody murder somewhere in my neighborhood. I don’t get kids, nor do I want them. I love having fresh air in the house, so all of my windows are open at the moment. But as I listen to this kid scream, I am seriously contemplating turning on the AC and shutting all of the windows just so I don’t have listen to this poor kid.

I have no idea how my parents dealt with all my crap. I’d kill the kid.

Free Speech

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Some people should never be allowed to be famous.

I have never been a fan of Rob Schneider or his films. I have never thought that the man was all that funny. In fact, I thought he was an idiot. And thankfully, he has proven me right. I am not going to say that he has no right to believe that vaccinations cause autism (even though the studies that show this have been disproven multiple times). He has the right to believe whatever he wants, no matter how silly it makes him sound.

But every time he says something, he just makes himself sound even worse. His first amendment right was never violated. Maybe if he actually knew the constitution, he would have gotten that. Or maybe I am giving him too much credit.

The first amendment protects the individual’s right to free speech, but it protects it from the U.S. government. The first word in the statement above is Congress. Congress shall pas no law. Congress. The U.S. Government shall pass no law. Fine, history has proven that in certain circumstances they will pass laws, but lets ignore that minor violation of our rights. Read up on the Alien and Sedition acts to find out more.

Mr. Schneider, you did not have your first amendment right violated. You are, in fact, an uneducated idiot. State Farm has every right to fire you over comments you made. In fact, the contract you signed probably allowed it. If comments you made started to actually drive customers away, do you honestly think State Farm would have kept you on their advertisements?

While I am on the subject of this anti-vaccination belief, Rob made the argument that there is no evidence that vaccinations are effective. I guess the fact that small pox and other diseases are almost gone isn’t evidence. Also, there is proof that in California, schools that have the lowest vaccination rates have the highest cases of whooping cough and the measles. And, yes, I know, those are not deadly diseases (except that they can be). And what schools have the lowest vaccination rates? Well, elite preschools of course. So these elite schools, which are mostly attended by children of the rich, have the highest amounts of preventable diseases. Recorded.

Hey, Mr. Schneider, please shut the hell up.

Perfect Topic

So, the last few days at work have given me the perfect topics to blog about. Unfortunately, if I did actually blog about these topics, I could get some people in trouble. Not life or death trouble, but work related trouble.

Yes, the FY15 contract was signed a week before the performance date. Yes, there have been some meetings with the IG about the state of morale in CECOM (there is no morale, so what is the problem?). Yes, some of my projects got their extension requests into our office in time to make it onto contract. But all of this is just the basics of what happened so far this week. So much more happened in the office that I want to say, but for the sake of some co-workers, I just can’t say them.

We all know from my past blogging that I am not afraid to speak what is on my mind. If anything I say gets back to the higher-ups in my office, I can defend what I have said, and most of it has been documented. I don’t actively look to cause problems. When someone complained about the Bad Religion hoodie, rather than picking a fight about freedom of speech, I just stopped wearing the hoodie to work.

I admit, I do not like the director and deputy director. I don’t trust them. I don’t think they act in the best interest of the employees or the organization or even the mission. Apparently, I am not the only one who feels that way either.

So while I have a lot that I want to say… I am just going to say that I have a lot that I wish I could say.

Tommy Wilson

I have frequently said that I am a big reader. I own over 400 books and have read all but 13 of them. I usually can be found reading science fiction with some science non-fiction and biographies thrown in there. Right now I am reading a biography on Tommy Wilson, or as most of us would know him, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States.

I firmly believe that every American should read at least one president’s biography. These are 43 of the most important people in the history of this country. People who have been elected to run a country, to run the “free world”. These are people who dictated where this country would head. These are people who whose decisions affected the lives of millions. And sadly, most Americans couldn’t name the first five presidents in the order that they were elected.

Now, I have read 23 presidential biographies, and I haven’t limited myself to a single party. I have read biographies on Democrats, Republicans, and even biographies about presidents from the Whig party. And of all the biographies I have read, I have to admit that President Taft’s biography was my favorite.

As one reads through these biographies, you can learn interesting facts about these great men. Yes, Taft was the fattest president, but he had an amazing sense of humor. Woodrow was named Thomas but decided to go with Woodrow because it sounded more formal and professional. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, within a couple of hours of each other.

These were great men; every one of them should be appreciated for that fact. So, pick up a book, read about a president, and maybe learn something about a man that ran the United States.

And maybe, pick up a book about a president you didn’t like. You may gain an appreciation for what they did, even if you still do not agree with it.

Three Thing Friday

1. Social Beings – I have heard it time and time again that human beings are social animals. I am so tired of hearing this. I would be perfectly happy living in Montana or Alaska, away from people, all to myself. Granted, I would want to be close enough to civilization so I can have indoor plumbing (like the Romans). I would want to live within the vicinity of a shopping center so that I wouldn’t have to grow my own food. And yes, I do enjoy hanging out with my friends, but I am just as happy locked away in my home.

Hell, I am beginning to understand why one of my friends just shaves his head. I had to get a hair cut today, and having to interact with the cutter of my hair made me realize I would have rather not have to get my hair cut by others. I should just shave my head so there would be one less person for me to interact with.

I am not a social being.

2. Vacation Prep – I spent this morning getting some minor preparation done for my up coming trip. Like I said, I got my hair cut, I got my back and neck cracked by my chiropractor, and I bought some things I feel that I will need. Travel shampoo, travel deodorant, travel toothpaste, and Dramamine we some of the items I bought for my upcoming dive with our friends, the sharks. Am I all set? Of course not, but I am slightly closer. Plus, I have three weeks till I leave.

Usually I leave all of my preparation to the last possible minute. If I were leaving on a Friday, I’d buy all the crap I need on that Wednesday and pack on either the Thursday or possibly even that morning. But with this trip, I am trying to get things set weeks in advance. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with great white sharks… well, twice in a lifetime. Ok, this will probably become a ritual every other year… but it is still special.

3. Goodreads – A friend introduced me to the Goodreads app and I am slowly logging in all of my books into it. Now, while I am very competitive about how much I read, that is not why I am doing it. I tend to forget what book I own. I mean, some of these I bought over a decade ago. In fact, while scanning the book in, I realized that I do actually have 2 copies of the same book. One in hardcover and one is paperback. It is really convenient to have all of the book titles I own at my fingertips. With how often I buy books, getting duplicates was bound to happen. Now, at least, I am doing something to reduce the odds of me buying a book I already own.

Now all I have to do is get back to reading like I used to.