End of Fun

So, another weekend comes to a close. And it was a good weekend too, three days off, two days of gaming, two wins and only one loss. It was a pretty good weekend. But alas, all good things must come to an end. And that actually is what is surprising in all of this.

Usually, even on three day weekends, I already start saying that I do not want to go back to work on the first day off. But this weekend, I didn’t say it on Friday, and I didn’t even say it on Saturday. Heck, I didn’t even say it this morning. I am, however, saying it now. I do NOT want to go into work tomorrow.

I’ve not always felt that way. I used to not mind going in. But that isn’t something I have felt in a very very long time.

I guess I just have to suck it up and go in. Another week, another paycheck. Weekends need to be longer.

Favorite Time of the Year

My favorite time of the year is creeping closer and closer. More and more items about this time are appearing in stores and on TV. I am really gearing up for it, getting all excited. Shark Week is almost upon us! And yes, while typing this I had the Jaws theme stuck in my head.

I will say that this year’s commercials have been a bit of a disappointment. Last years commercials, the ones with the seal being eaten by a shark while being released back into the wild, were hysterical.  Sure, they may have caused some controversy, but they were funny. This year’s commercial, the only one I have seen thus far, was just boring. Discovery usually puts more effort into the advertising for Shark Week.

So, even though it is weeks away, I am already itching to watch all of the new shark specials. And yes, it is no where near as good as actually diving with sharks, but I’ll take a hit (it is like a drug to me) where and when I can get it.

I also still think what I said years ago still holds true. Shark Week may do more harm than good. The shows that are run during Shark Week usually only show the “bad” behavior that can be caught on tape. And it’s not even like it is bad behavior, it is their natural behavior. And sometimes, it’s not even that. When you chum the waters to attract sharks, you are going to change their behavior.

And from experience, I can tell you that Discovery must film all year to get one weeks worth of footage. When I went in the water with great whites, they were much calmer than expected. I had to learn that Jaws and Discovery might not actually be documentaries.

Three Thing Friday

1. Scented Cat Litter – A week ago I accidentally bought the wrong cat litter. I usually buy unscented from a brand that I know, but for some reason I thought I would try something knew. I thought I grabbed unscented, but apparently I can’t read. The new litter looks like gravel and smells terrible. In fact, I think it smells worse than what it is supposed to be covering up.

And I am not going to get into how its scented litter is actually unhealthy for the cats. Oops, I guess I just did. I’m not blaming the company, someone must want this type of litter or they wouldn’t supply it (Hey, I used my economics degree!). I blame myself. Next time, I am going back to what I normally buy. Always go with what is known, with what is safe.

2. Blogging – I will never say that I thought blogging was easy, but I never thought it was this hard. Coming up with a topic every day, writing about it, trying to write it in a correct and coherent way, it all takes much more thought and energy than I thought. And there was a time when I was running two blogs at the same time. Being responsible for this blog, as well as a gaming blog burnt me out pretty quickly. Since then, another blog that I am a writer for started. Because of that, the first gaming blog fell to the side; in fact, I cannot even tell you when I last posted to that blog.

With the new gaming blog, I am not the lead blogger, and that took a lot of pressure off of me. Sadly, it seems that only one person was still doing most of the posting to that site. I think I just needed a break, and I don’t want him to get burnt out like I was. I have finally found my focus and have been writing much better blogs for that site to give him a break every now and then.

So my personal blog is now the only one I am solely responsible for. That makes blogging a little easier, but topics are still hard to come by at times. So, to my fellow bloggers, I appreciate what you do now more than ever before.

3. Air Disasters – The last week has been pretty rough for flyers and airlines. There have been three major crashes in the last seven days. Of course we have the one that was shot down in the Ukraine. I honestly do not believe that the Soviets had anything to do with it directly, but I do believe that they supplied the weapons to those who were directly involved. I also do not know if the “rebels” knew what they were shooting at. It may have been a mistake. And one has to ask, what was a civilian aircraft doing over a war zone?

The second crash took place in Taiwan. This one only took 48 lives, and it is really sad that I can say “only” 48 lives. There were ten survivors, but when hundreds died on other recent plane crashes, 48 isn’t that bad.

The most recent crash took place in Mali. This one sadly had no survivors. I still believe that flying is the safest means of travel, but all of these crashes are making me a little nervous about my flight to San Diego in October. Maybe I’ll just watch some TV to get my mind off of it. Oh look! Air Disasters is on the Smithsonian Channel.

Funny and Sad

I was sitting here, pondering what to write for today’s blog, when a commercial smacked me over the head. It’s funny how that happens sometimes. Sometimes, the timing is just perfect.

A commercial for the National Aquarium came up during a rerun for the Big Bang Theory (great show). The short version is that this father brought his son to the aquarium, and the kid was talking about how realistic it looked. He was asking about the controllers and who was winning the game. It was actually pretty funny, although I will probably not say that after watching this commercial a few more times. But I did laugh at the kids asking where the controllers were.

However, after I thought about the commercial, and how funny it was, I also realized how sad it is. There are probably some kids out there who wouldn’t know that an aquarium is not digital. There are kids out there today who probably wouldn’t realize that there are no controllers. There are kids out there who probably don’t realize that everything is not a game.

And the real sadness about all of this is that the kids who would think that the aquarium was digital are the one’s who have parents that would not take them to the Aquarium. The kids who would know better are the kids who have parents forcing them to step away from the TV and the Games. The kids who would know better are the one’s who have parents that force them to step outside once in a while. The parents who forced their kids to experience real life are the ones who would take their kids to the National Aquarium.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program on your HD TV. Hey, it looks like real life!

Heated

Yesterday I received an email (and a phone call that I didn’t answer) from Baltimore Gas and Electric, my supplier of gas and electricity. They were emailing me about reducing my electricity usage during peak hours during the first really hot day of the year. They promised that if I reduced my usage enough, they would send me a rebate on my next bill. I don’t believe it, but I think I could reduce my electric usage and hope. You never know, I may get a reward.

The peak hours are 1 PM to 7PM, and they even had some recommendations. They said to hold off on doing laundry. Ok, that is easily done; I can do it after 7. They said to raise the temperature on my thermostat. Again, I can easily do this. When I left today, I set it at 80, which is a few degrees above where I usually leave it when I am out of the house. I am concerned about the cats, but I have plenty of water for them. I even placed a few ice cubes in their water so that it would be cold, at least for a little while. I also realized that I could cook without the microwave, leave the TV off, and make sure all of my lights were off. These are all things I can easily to reduce my electric usage.

Now comes the down side. I hate heat. So I am sitting here on my computer (I really couldn’t turn that off) without a shirt on, in my shorts. My cats are lying around expending as little energy as possible, which isn’t hard since they are cats. That’s what they usually do.

All of this better be worth it, or I am never doing it again.

Another Day of Class

Yesterday I complained about the fact that I am being forced to take a class for work, and the lessons are not even helpful for my job. The worst part of it is that they are teaching me things I already know. I already took classes telling me about communication and conflict management. I already took classes on how to work with other people, and how to motivate them. Taxpayer dollars at work, paying me to learn things I already know.

Today though, something else happened. Today, one of my classmates just ticked me off. Ok, I don’t want to be there, but I am not actively being rude. I am not actively ignoring the teachers and reading a book while they are talking. Actually, I am a little surprised that I am not that guy.

Buy I figure there are a few things that are positive about this class. First, I am out of the office. I am away from the low morale. I am away from the job. Second, the class is actually fun. It isn’t a terrible class to be stuck in. Third, I am being paid to be there, and I am there, so I should try to get the most I can from the class.

The problem is that this one individual is just taking away from the class. The negativity and hostility wears on you.

Voluntold

Today was the first day of the latest Not Mandatory class that I was volunteered to go to.  It is an “Emerging leaders of APG” and is like every other management class I have had to take over the past few years. In fact, the last class I was told to go to was an “Action Officers” class, and I am still waiting to use anything I learned from that class. And that is the problem with a lot of the “not” mandatory classes I have to take. They have nothing to do with what I do day in and day out, so I forget all I learned within days (if not hours).

I have no problems with taking training, unlike some of the people I work with. I would actually love to take classes that I am interested in or that would help me do my job. I would love for the government to send me to a history class, but it is really hard for me to justify that. I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I would understand if I were sent to a fiscal law course, at least that would help me with my job.

But no, I am in class learning about what color I am, what color I am not, and how to manage all of the different colors. This is another management course like all of the previous one’s I have taken. Sure, it get’s me out of the office. Sure, it is actually a fun course. But I am going to be playing catch up for a week when I get back. And this isn’t actually a quiet time at work for me.

Maybe management can put more thought into the courses that they are going to volunteer me for.

Brain Drain

Forty-five years (and three days) ago the United States of America launched a very small capsule on a three-day flight to land on the moon. These three men lived in a small cramped capsule, landed on non-terrestrial object, and then returned home safely. We, the people of the United States had the drive and the knowledge to accomplish this, and today we have to hitchhike a ride into space.

We accomplished this in the 1960’s, and today our students do not even rank in the top ten in math and science. Our students rank just a hair above Jordanian students. Japan and China both rank above us in education, and both send their students to calls more than our average 178 days per year. And then there is the H1B visa.

I am sure that most of my friends do not know what that is. The H1B visa is nicknames the “Genius Visa.” Our education system is in such a sad state that we have to import PhDs to fulfill position in Universities. We are not the only country in this sad state. Germany, also trying to open up VISAs for educators, but some politicians in Germany blocked the opening of VISAs thinking that immigrants would be taking jobs away from Germans. Except that is not what happened, there were no Germans that could fill those positions. And that would be the same situation here if the H1B VISAs were discontinued.

And how sad is that?  We couldn’t even fill the positions at our own universities if we didn’t import PhDs. And once the home nations of the geniuses catch up to us in terms of lifestyles, there would be no reasons for the professors to stay here. And if you want to look at what our future is going to be, just look at who are taking the physics courses. More than half of PhD students are now foreign born.

If we ever want to regain our position as the leader in the sciences, maybe we should spend more time on educating out children.

Maybe we could start with teaching our kids that “R U OK” is not a complete sentence.

A Losing Battle

I am in the middle of my second summer with three furry roommates. I am also in the middle of a losing battle. The problem with having three cats is not that they fight all the time. The problem is that they shed, and shed, and shed some more. There is cat hair everywhere in this house. Ok, part of the problem is that I haven’t vacuumed in a week, but the bigger problem is that even after I vacuum, the cats walk around the house and make sure all of the locations I just finished cleaning are covered in hair again. I may be able to keep the house clean for three hours, four tops, before the hairy ones have made sure every room has at least 3.42 pounds of cat hair.

And why the heck aren’t these cats bald? The lose hair by the pound. I even comb these little bastards. But it seems that for all of the cat hair I comb, there is seven times as much that they have to shed.

I am also in a losing a battle with Loki. I comb him and comb him, which he hates, and still his fur becomes matted. Right now he has large clumps of matted fur all over, and I just cannot seem to help him get rid of it. It doesn’t help that when I try to comb him he bites me. His bite doesn’t break my skin, he bites just hard enough to tell me that he is very unhappy, which makes me very unhappy.

So, I am fighting two separate losing battles with cat hair. The vacuum is not much of an ally. And the claws and teeth that are my cat’s allies hurt me way more then the vacuum scares them.

And I am pretty sure that when I am done cleaning, the cats look at me and laugh. I have also come to the conclusion that the cats must be able to shed on command.

Three Thing Friday

1. Trust – When you have someone with 30 years of experience in the government, and over eight years of experience with one contract in particular, you would think that one would trust his or her opinion. Too bad that this does not hold true in the government.  Top to bottom, no one seems to want to listen to the experts. And believe me, I am not saying that it is I that people are not listening to (although that is true as well), it’s other people that have been ignored.

And thanks to this, our contract is in serious trouble. So much so that the contractors may not be able to continue their work on 1 October. You have employees for a reason. You have experts for a reason. Use them properly, and everything may be able to work somewhat well. Well, it might workout well enough for government work.

2. Climate Change – I am a firm believe that climate change is a fact. I believe the scientists and their facts. Yes, it has become known as “Global Warming,” and the end game may be a warmer globe, but the main point is that the Earth’s climate is changing, and we are directly responsible.

However, the weather at the end of this July has just been bloody pleasant. If the climate would change to this, and stay like this, I would not mind at all. Nine of the last 10 years set record highs, but this year just hasn’t that bad at all.

So yes, I still believe we need to get a handle on the pollution that is causing climate change. Yes, I think we as a nation, and as a species, need to become more green.

Now, I am going to go open some windows and enjoy the changing climate before it drowns me.

And now that I wrote this, next week will probably top 110 degrees.

3. Story Time – A few years ago, I would read about a book a week on average. I wouldn’t read anything spectacular, and not that many books that would teach me anything. Sure, I would read some biographies, and mostly presidential biographies. Mostly I read science fiction and science fantasy. Recently, however, I haven’t been able to get more than a book a month, if I was lucky. I should just join some book of the month club. I need to start setting myself some new goals. I need to take out my books and start reading again. The pile of unread books grows. I need to knock it down. I need to concentrate.

I need to read. I didn’t get go to elementary school to not use my ability to read.