Cracked

The busiest time of year for my team is year-end. We are rushing to get money onto contract. We are rushing to get all of the next year’s documents approved. We are rushing to get the next contract awarded. Year-end is rush, rush, and rush. I hate year-end and year beginning. But year –end is the month of September, not August.

For some reason, this year is different. There is so much stress and pressure in the office to finish up all the work immediately. We need to get the funds on contract now! We need to finish up the extension process yesterday! All FY15 documents must be collected and in our office fifteen minutes ago! The stress level in the office is actually worse than it has even been in any prior year-end, and again, this is not actually year-end.

On top of all of this you have the highly combative attitude of everyone. Customers are fighting with the contracting office. Contracting is fighting with MITRE. My Management is fighting with the customers. And everyone if fighting my office, and we are fighting with everyone. The hostility in the office is just thick.

I miss the old days when we worked as a team, and we worked with our customers and the contractor and didn’t fight against them. There was just so much more… peace when we were in Ft. Monmouth.

I talked to some of my long time customers, and they know that it’s not me. They know it’s all of the changes in staff. I try to keep my friendly relationship with my customers, but it is very hard to work within the restrictions that are being placed on me. These same restrictions that I am forced to place on them.

Well, today, I cracked. In fact, I think the whole office did. We were all in one weird mood. A contractor called me today, one who also called me yesterday, and even she noticed a difference between the two calls. I was just goofy and I think I scared her off the phone. It seemed as if we all threw up our hand and just gave up. I believe the stress just got to us; we were all just wacky.

So, I think I cracked. I think I lost my mind. Not that I had much of a mind to start with.

40 Years Old

Today I was flipping through the T.V. channels and I came upon one of my favorite comedies. It is one of the greats, or at least it should be considered one of the greats. But what I cannot believe is that it is 40 years old! It is actually older than I am… not older than my mother though, but what is? Just kidding mom.

But this movie is one of Mel Brooks’ finest works. A black and white film made in the age of color. A great film that parodies one of the greatest monster movies ever made. I am, of course, talking about Young Frankenstein. This is one of my favorite movies of all time.

But the fact that it was made in 1974 also made me realize that one of the other greats by Mel Brooks is even older. Gene Wilder, who wrote and stared in Young Frankenstein, ask Mel Brooks to direct the film while on the set of another classic film, Blazing Saddles, also made in 1974. Brooks and Wilder were just pumping out films that year.

So, if you get the chance, and if you can get past the black and while film, sit back and enjoy it. It is a classic. You may even laugh a few times.

Perfectly Fitting

At the entrance of the building I work at there is a small concrete slab. There is nothing all that out of the ordinary with this little slab, it really isn’t anything special. It is just a boring, ordinary, piece of walkway.

But this one piece of walkway perfectly illustrates working for the government. This one piece of concrete is always loose. After spending billions of dollars on BRAC, they just can’t get this one piece of walkway right. Today, walking in, someone put two cones over the lose tiles. Billions of dollars spent. A “state of the art” facility, and the U.S. Army cannot get one tile right.

And that’s how it seems to be with the government, they spend a fortune, and they cannot even get the little things right. Look at NASA, they spent billions on a pen that can write in no gravity, but the Russians decided to use a pencil. NASA sends a satellite to the planet Mars, which crashes because someone confuses Metric with the English system. The US Army spends millions designing a new tank, which is under-armored, barely mobile, and catches fire.

But, bless the Army’s heart, it does keep trying. Someone will once again try to stabilize that small slab. They will take more time, more money, and more effort, and in a few weeks it will be loose again. The cones will back out, and we will have to start all over again.

And like most of my customers, they keep getting the little things wrong, but they do keep trying. I get documents with contract numbers from 4 years ago. I keep being told that someone tried to load a document into our website, even though they were told to email it to me. I deal with people who send me funding documents, and have been for years, and they get the same thing wrong each time.

I guess I should be used to this by now, but the Army just can’t seem to get it right. But it does keep on trying.

Daydreaming

A few days ago I found myself staring at the clouds. This was actually dangerous since I was driving at the time, but let’s skip that. I was looking at a cloud that looked a lot like the horse-head nebula. Seriously, it was a cloud formation that looked a lot like the nebula.

This got me thinking about when I was a kid and saw all sorts of images in the clouds. I am sure you, the reader, did as well. It was a fun game to see what images the clouds would form.

So many of us no longer use our imaginations. We work, we eat, and we watch TV. You really should just take a moment, relax and look at the clouds. Sure, the answers to life are not going to be found in a cloud, but you might see Mickey Mouse. You might see Grumpy Cat. You might even see the horse-head nebula.

So use your imagination. Relax. Remember your childhood. And smile.

Three Thing Friday

1.June 2018 – I have to wait till June 2018. That is a very long time to wait, and it is just unfair. That is just under four years from now; I don’t have that kind of patience. I want what I want, and I want it now!

I am, of course, talking about the release date for the next Godzilla movie. They just announced that the movie would begin filming after the Director gets done with his current obligations. His current obligation, of course, is one of the Disney Star Wars Movie spin offs. Now, while I do not know exactly what that film is, it may be a Yoda film or a Boba Fett movie, I am already impatient for him to finish it, and I am not even sure he started filing.

The production company also announced the kaiju that will be in the next film, but they haven’t announced the cast. I liked the new G film and I am already very excited about the next one.

2. Classic Batman – For the last few weeks I have been watching some old school Batman. And I do not mean the 1980’s movies that were released; I mean the 1960’s classic TV show, which will soon be released on Blu-ray. I remember watching this show as a kid, as reruns of course. But what I have forgotten over the years is how corny it really is. I admit, I am still entertained by it, but it really is corny.

And yes, I will be making this purchase when it comes out.

3. Halfisms – Yea, I know, not a word. But the word does describe how CECOM (Mostly the office I work in) is being run. Halfisms and a total lack of communication. And even what is communicated is usually conflicting information. For example, management says that they want the staff to take training to further their careers, except the training that they support locks you into their office. The training isn’t marketable. They send you to training that does not even help in your job. Acquisition Certification would be great for everyone in the office. Individuals who are level two certified are in high demand in the government, but they do not want anyone to get that certification because then employees may be more marketable.

It’s not like people are staying now. I am usually a pessimist, but the grass has to be greener on the other side. If it weren’t, wouldn’t people who did a rotation in other organization return? Of course this is when we had rotations, and rather than fix the problem, they fixed the symptom.

Tune in next week. Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel.

PMT Again

Another Pointless Meeting Thursday has come and gone. It is kind of sad, but I really consider Thursday as the linchpin to my week, not Wednesday like most people. If I can just get through PMT, the rest of the week really is all down hill. Heck, even if I can get to 12:00, the week is down hill. Even on weeks that I have Friday’s off, PMT is the mid-week point. And today, we had an additional meeting on top of the standard PMT.

Today we had a CECOM staff town hall where the higher-ups decided to go over the climate survey the staff took a few months ago. Of course, all that was shown was that there are problems. They displayed CECOM’s rankings and the overall Army’s rankings, but they never explained what the numbers meant. For example, they might show the responses to a question as CECOM – 2.9 Army – 3.2. But they didn’t tell you what those numbers meant. Was the 2.9 out of 5? Was it out of 10? So, even though we do know the results, we do not know what they mean.

Also, even the questions themselves were vague. No one can agree on whom we were rating. Some thought they were rating their direct supervisor. Others thought they were rating CECOM’s command. Personally, I thought I was ranking G3/5 leadership. So even though we know the results, we don’t know exactly who was rated so poorly.

Of course, the solution to the poor climate is to have even more meetings. It’s a good thing that no one has actual work to do. I mean we obviously have all of this free time to attend meetings even though we are losing staff left and right.

I have also heard rumors that the command is going to implement a policy where all organizations must have PMTs, well, at least weekly meetings. The belief is that more meeting means more communication. What no one seems to realize is that more meeting does not necessarily mean more communication. I’ve been going to weekly meetings for over a year now, and maybe 40% of those meetings were useful or informative.

And now it looks like the rest of the command is going to suffer along with me. Maybe this will improve morale, but maybe command should be more concerned with the deeper systemic problem they have. This is CECOM; maybe the only thing they know is communication even if it is poor communication.

A Glass of Wine

A few weeks ago I had to take more mandatory training (and this is an excellent use of tax payer money). I had to sit through an hour of Suicide Training (it is possible that there Prevention in that title), which felt more like a motivational speech, and an hour of Substance Abuse training, which made me want to commit suicide. The only positive outcome to these two training sessions is that it got me out of my monthly briefing at Pointless Meeting Tuesday. And I am sure that my coworkers were glad that I didn’t brief, if only because that saved them 45 seconds in their meeting.

Now, the host of the two briefings lost all credibility in his Substance Abuse training when on the second slide he briefed that moderate drinking is 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women per night. Really? WTF? Not only is that a sexist statement, but it is also very in accurate. I am not saying that more drinks would still be moderate, but you have to take other aspects into consideration. I know certain women who could drink me under the table. And after I regained consciousness, they would drink me under the table again. (You know who you are!) These women can hold their alcohol, and I would not say that if they had two drinks in a night they have a problem. However if I had two drinks in one night, that may not be considered “moderate.”

Wine

Other aspects of the person have to be considered, their height, their weight, their tolerance, and even when they last ate. For me, one drink at dinner is what I would consider moderate. And that is only if I am drinking alone.

But you also have to keep in mind why they are drinking. If they are drinking socially with friends, I would say more than one drink would still be acceptable. If someone is drinking a bottle of wine a night, then there might be a problem. If they are drinking one bottle a night every night, then there is definitely a problem.

I am sitting here alone (well, three cats are keeping me company), having a glass of wine, blogging, and considering what I want for dinner. Do I do this every night? No. Do I drink a glass on most nights? Yes. I enjoy the taste, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have purchased the bottle. Well, I might have, I have made poor decisions at wine “tasting” events.

But that is the ultimate point, more than just the sex of the drinker needs to be considered when calling someone’s habit “moderate.” I can polish off a bottle of Jersey White myself when I am drinking with my friends at Heritage, but it is usually over the span of at least 3 hours, usually more. I am drinking with friends. I am drinking for the social aspect. I am not drinking to get drunk.

Well, not usually.

Shark Week – Day Two

Well, this may actually be my last post about shark week. It didn’t take long, but that special yesterday, the Megalodon special from last year, and a couple of other shows that have no basis in reality have turned me off from Shark Week. I mean, I know that they have to sell advertising time, but this was already the most watched week throughout the year for Discovery, so they were doing something right. But the last two years they sold themselves out and have no lost all credibility.

After I went diving with Great White Sharks in Guadeloupe in 2012, I started to realize that Shark Week might do more harm than good. And the last two years of sensationalism that Discovery has decided to broadcast has done nothing but reinforce that belief.

I have been watching Shark Week for years; it really was one of my favorite times of the year. I even used to joke about taking off just to make sure I don’t miss anything. But this year my heart is not in it. I am not in the mood to watch the crap that the Discovery channel is airing. Sure, they still have Air Jaws, but their fictional shows that are made to look real just ruin the whole week.

Now, I will recommend the NatGeo channel. National Geographic is running their own shark week, but they call it Sharkfest. And frankly, so far it has more to do with sharks than Discovery’s week. And considering Discovery started Shark Week, it is a shame that their new programmers have started to drive some of us away. It’s become way to commercial.

Now, while I cannot fault Discovery for trying new things, I also know that I get to choose what I want to watch. And they have driven me away. They sacrificed their integrity.

I will watch a few select things that they air, but odds are that I am going to change the channel. And a few years ago I would have considered that sacrilege.

So, if you want to be entertained with factual shows, change the channel to NatGeo wild. Sharkfest is a better option overall.

Shark Week – Day One

So, I am writing this, knowing I will be posting it tomorrow. I am sitting here for my yearly ritual of watching shark week. And I thought I would get my thoughts on how the shows I watch are. So, the first special is Air Jaws Fin of Fury.

I love the Air Jaws specials. The fact that these massive sharks can launch themselves out of the water, or breach, is incredible. Yes, I know that larger whales can do that, but these are sharks. And most whales do not breach for hunting purposes.

Also, I have to say, it was good to see Jimi, the man who runs the diving program in Guadeloupe that I use on a special. I actually cheered. Yea, I know, geeky.

Now, as the show went on, there was this individual who created a replica female shark to draw in Colossus (The shark that this whole special is about) from the depths of the ocean. I really expected it to fail utterly, and while it may not have worked as hoped, it did do something. Multiple sharks were drawn to this thing, and I have to admit that it did much more than I expected. And yes, I would have ridden it too.

Of course, it should also be said that I want to dive in a WASP now. The Best way to describe the WASP is a personal sized cage for diving. It looked both crazy and fun. They were using this in order to get better underwater shots of the sharks, and the man inside took a beating.

The second new special is about a 30-foot shark off of South Africa. The problem I have now, which is the same problem I have with Animal Planet, is that these stations should not be creating works of fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being entertained, but is Discovery channel the best place for this? The show so far is about the JoyRide, a whale watching boat that sank and the passengers were attacked by “Submarine,” the 30 foot GW shark. It has also been said that Discovery tricked scientists, actually lied to them, in order to get them to appear on these shows.

How much of an ass will I be if this turns out to actually be true? I cannot believe that a great white shark can actually reach 30 feet, but a small part of me hopes they can. I mean, how much do we know about the ocean? More people have traveled to the moon than have been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. So, why should I assume that a shark couldn’t grow that big?

I didn’t even make it through the whole show. I had to turn it off. It just got ridiculous. It also made me sad.

I would recommend everyone try and watch the new Air Jaws special, which was fantastic. And as long as you know that none of it is true, you may even enjoy the crap called Wrath of Submarine.

Random Spikes

I believe that I have said it before; I am a numbers person. I wake up thinking about numbers, I work with numbers, and even when I am thinking about my hobbies, I think about them in terms of numbers. I keep track of where I am in my mortgage, what my debt ratio is, my win-loss record with my gaming (I have a losing record by the way), and even how far I am into my book (in a percentage). I don’t know why, but I love thinking about life in numbers.

Well, one set of numbers I track is the numbers of views on my blogs. The gaming blog has a significant larger reading audience and has greatly surpassed the readers on this blog. It is also a much better blog when it comes to the writing and content. It’s one day high is about half of the total number on my personal blog.

But sometimes, random spikes happen in my readership. Today for example; I had a sudden spike of 37 reads in one hour. The problem is that I don’t know how accurate that is. Sure, 37 people could have read the blog during that hour. Or maybe one person read 37 different posts in that hour; my posts are pretty short after all. Or maybe it was something in between, more than one, less than 37 different people.

Either way, I had a sudden spike, and I will be thinking about that number for the next few hours. At least until my mind wonders back to my mortgage, my gaming, or my book.