It’s the Bees Knees

President Obama has decided to use some of his powers to try and find out where are the bees are going. The sad part is that I know people who don’t care about the bees. Hell, I hate bees, but I understand how important they are to this country. There are people who don’t care that the great pollinators are disappearing. These people don’t think that the government should spend money on discovering the reasons behind these disappearances.

A lot of people do not realize is how important bees are to the economy and to the food chain. Honeybees (and certain moths) pollinate nearly all of the nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are grown in this country. In fact, honeybees alone pollinate an estimated 90% of the crops in this country.

The declining population has been an issue for years. Maybe it’s about time this country stepped up and tried to do something about it. Hell, the disappearing bees even were mentioned in a season of Doctor Who. Granted, The Doctor just said that they were going home. That would be interesting if it were true, but the truth is that they are dying. And I am sure that humans are at least part of the problem with our excessive overuse of pesticides.

Yes, maybe the government will waste some tax money trying to figure this out, but I don’t expect the farmers to be able to pay for it. And once crops stop being pollinated, they stop growing. And once they stop growing, food supplies will dwindle and food prices will rise. It won’t take long before the separation between the rich and the poor will be even greater, and the starvation rate in this country climbs even higher.

Sure, the government solution may not be the right solution, but at least the government is trying. So I support Obama and his appointing a committee to look into disappearing bees.

Getting the Job Done

A fellow blogger just wrote about how he feels that the god ordered “day of rest” feels like an unproductive waste of time. I admire him for the fact that he can get stuff done on Sundays. Actually, with how productive I am during the weekends, I am amazed that he actually accomplishes anything.

I spend my weekends hanging out with friends playing with little plastic men trying to beat them and their little plastic men. I need to time to bring myself up from the workweek.  Sure, I get the bare necessities done. I do the dishes, the laundry, go food shopping, and if absolutely necessary, I will vacuum the house. But rather than spend my time off doing a lot of yard work and housework, I would rather be at the game store relaxing.

So, to you my fellow blogger, I admire the fact that you can get things done. I’ll make up for your lack of slacking by taking two days to slack off. A few episodes of M*A*S*H, hopefully one game of Warhammer, and maybe a quick vacuuming job.

The Fox and the Hound

Almost all Disney cartoon movies follow the same format, the movie opens with something bad happening, you have an adventure, and the movie almost always ends with a happy ending. In Finding Nemo, Mom dies, Nemo gets fishnapped, Marlin goes on an adventure to save him, and Marlin saves Nemo in the end. In Lion King, Uncle kills dad, son runs away, son returns and saves the kingdom from the evil uncle. Even in 101 Dalmatians, dogs get dognapped, Mom and dad go to rescue them, and we have yet another happy ending.

This holds true for almost every single Disney movie I can think of except for my favorite. The Fox and the Hound is about a friendship that can never be. And by the end of the movie, both the fox and the hound realize this. There is no happy ending to this film. In fact, the movie opens with the friendship forming; the film is almost the anti-Disney movie.

And as I said, this is one of my favorite Disney movies. I own it on DVD and I have watched it a grand total of twice. I just can never bring myself to watch it; I am never in that kind of mood. I do remember watching it once with my mom, and while I will never admit to bawling my eyes out, neither one of us could stop sniffling. It is one hell of a tearjerker.

My mom and I joke all the time about how neither of us can watch this movie. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought it on DVD, or maybe one day I will actually watch it again. If I am ever in the mood to get myself all depressed.

Three Thing Friday

1. Extremists – This morning, before I left for work, I read something on CNN that just disturbed me. Buddhists were attacking Muslims. I couldn’t believe it, I never heard of violent Buddhists, I didn’t even know they existed. Muslims, Christians, and even Jewish extremists are common, but I always thought that Buddhists were better than that. I always thought they were more peaceful.

I guess I should have known better. Every religion does have their extremists that give a bad name to the religion as a whole. I knew that Buddhists could have very powerful beliefs. I mean, there is documented proof that for a cause they believe in they would light themselves on fire in protest. But setting yourself on fire and setting others on fire are two entirely different things. It is a shame that extremists can ruin the reputation for such a peaceful religion.

2. Interesting Stat – I read a statistic that said that if all the Atheists in the country were kicked out of America, the country would lose 1% of the prison population, 93% of the academy of sciences, and at least one really bad blogger. I have absolutely nothing to back that up, but I can believe it. I could also believe that the Republican Party would love to kick those damn atheists out of the country.

Of course, even I have to admit I would love to kick the atheist extremists out of the country. They annoy me.

3. The Pope – Ok, apparently today’s Three Thing Friday is going to be very religion orientated. The pope recently said that drug addiction is evil and that the legalization of recreational drugs should be stopped. Now, while I disagree with him on this, I do think pot should be legal; I have to admire his consistency. He has spoken of this is in the past. He has stuck to his beliefs. He may be the most popular pope in a long time, even I admire him, but he does not say things only to be popular, he says things because he believes them.

In fact, he may not even be popular among the hardline Roman Catholics. However, I do think that he is leading the church in the right direction. As an atheist, I obviously do not believe, but the church can do good, and maybe he will take the church in that direction.

Common Sense

A few day’s ago, I was joking with a friend about some of the training I am required to take at work. Suicide Prevention Training, Threat Awareness and Reporting training, and of course, Sexual Harassment and Assault Reporting and Prevention training, which is my favorite training. Now, I do understand that the Army has a few problems. Suicides are increasing. There are threats everywhere, inside and outside the Army. And sexual assault and harassment is the biggest problem. The last one is so bad that the Chief of Staff has made it his top priority. This is why I have to take SHARP training at least 6 times this year and counting. The problem is that the training is geared to soldiers, not to the civilians. It is truly geared for young boys full of testosterone. I will say that the latest training was an attempt to get people to intervene when they see a potential assault, but it really isn’t helpful for people who are not young boys in the army. I hope I would have the backbone to stand up and get my ass kicked.

Having said all this, my original point was that I was joking about how this training is an attempt to teach common sense. And my friend, smarter than I give her credit for, asked a one-word question that got me thinking. She asked “Common?” And she was right; common sense isn’t so common any more. The fact that I do have to take these courses is proof that common sense does in fact need to be taught to some people. I’ve seen people make decisions that I would assume anyone with half a brain wouldn’t make. Sure, they may be teaching the wrong things to the wrong people, but the Army is trying. They just need to change tactics. They need to target a different audience.

I admit, I don’t know how to improve things. Telling people that there is no shame in reporting an assault is a step in the right direction, but I don’t think it will achieve their goals.

And complaining that productivity is down while forcing me to take hours of training every week is not going to help morale.

It’s OK to be Takei

I am not someone who usually sits back and watches the TED speeches. But I am a big fan of George Takei, so I decided to watch his speech. And I cannot say it enough, but it really is worth fifteen minutes of your time.

He talks about his family’s experience during World War Two. And as he was talking, I started thinking about what I learned in history class. Obviously I knew that the U.S. government placed American citizens in concentration camps, but I think I learned this on my own time. I am pretty sure, though not 100% positive, that I had to lean this on my own. You never really do hear about the mistakes that this country has made. You never hear about waterboarding we did to the people of the Philippians, and then the Japanese soldiers we prosecuted for doing the same thing to captured Americans.

It is never discussed that law-abiding citizens were placed into these camps, and when they were finally released, they had to start all over again. Even though Japanese-Americans served with honor in the European war, they were not welcome when they returned home. These were people who fought for their country while their family members were held in a concentration camp. Without a trial, The US government, for their “protection”, imprisoned these American citizens.

Again, these were just thoughts I had. You really should take the time to listen to Uncle George.

And to think, I originally liked him only because he was Sulu… and a voiceover in a Godzilla film.

George at TED

About Time

I have been waiting to write this blog for the last two months. Actually, if I had a blog, I would have been thinking about this blog for the last 12 years, but I can finally put in writing the fact that I have paid off my student loan! It’s done! It’s gone! I owe no more! Well… I owe no more to Sallie Mae.

That’s right, just over 12 years after I graduated from Rider University, I have finished paying for the “education” I received. Since then I bought three different homes, got married, got divorced, went sky diving, went shark diving, and had at least three different jobs. I moved to Connecticut, back to New Jersey, and then to Maryland. I bought the MINI Copper, took up kayaking, and was introduced to wine.

And now that I have freed up the monthly payments I have the ability to send even more money to my mortgage. One family member said that I should buy something for myself, and I might, but what I really want is to get out of debt. So, the freed up funds are already going to my mortgage.

Actually, saying that paid off my student loan isn’t exactly accurate. It turns out that since I had Sallie Mae automatically withdraw the funds from my account, I over paid my mortgage. Sallie Mae now owes me five dollars. You would think that with all of the computer systems that Sallie Mae uses, they could have at least taken the correct amount for the final payment. But it is really nice to have them owe me money for a change, even if I am not earning interest on it.

So, loudly and proudly, I scream WOO HOO!

Lectured

So, this past Thursday, I was lectured on how good I have it. Apparently complaining about pointless meeting and how rough it has gotten at my job isn’t something I should complain about. But I don’t think my friends know how bad it has gotten.

I honestly cannot say that I loved my job, but I used to like it. I used to like talking to my customers, the contractor, and even the contracting office. I used to actually enjoy my job. But the office has gone from a mentality of “work with everyone to get the job done” to a mentality of “fight with everyone.”

People that we have to deal with only pass the buck. Rather than do their jobs and answer some questions, they send the questions on to someone else (usually one of my coworkers). I am left explaining to budget people how to use their own budget system. Morale is non-existent throughout the office. People are always angry, in some cases, flat out hostile.

I still admit I get paid well for what I do, but I would rather work in almost any other office. I recently had a “who has it worse” competition with a fellow employee, and to win all I had to say was who the director was. He didn’t even argue. He caved right there. People who take a short-term rotations into other offices, never come back. And what was management’s solution? Stop the rotations. Not figure out why morale is low, or try and figure out why people are happier in other offices, let just stop giving them the options. And yes, this is the same management who needs to check to make sure that employees are still at their desk because they didn’t go to the Holiday party. The same management who needed to make sure that we knew we couldn’t go to the mall if we were teleworking (not that they approved of teleworking).

It is so bad in my office right now that I actually considered quitting without another job lined up. I’m not that stupid or desperate yet, but the environment is pushing me into that direction. Even some of my co-workers are getting to me. Some of them are just so angry. And others agree with me. One person actually said that she is thinking of having another child just to get eight weeks off.

And by the way, your tax dollars are sending me to a management course that probably won’t teach me anything since it is a government course. This is the same management who made it mandatory that we go to some unofficial Sexual Harassment Prevention closing ceremony. Not training, a closing ceremony. Our office must look so busy to others since we are always at these types of things, and we are the only complete office that goes. I wonder how management is going to justify their staff, because that is going to come up soon. Why do you need such a “large staff” when everyone has the time to go to these ceremonies?

So yes, I still get paid well, but I would take a pay cut (if I could afford my mortgage) just to get out of this office.

Sunday Blog

I’m currently sitting outside on my deck. A deck I may have used maybe 10 times in the four years I have lived in this house. I paid for it, I really should use it more often. And for some reason, I decided to use it today. I turned on the suddenly working again dishwasher, poured myself a glass of wine, grabbed my laptop and a chair and went out onto the deck. Some friends gave this new wine to me, and while it is a little sweet for my tastes, it is really good. Actually, it’s not all that far from the Jersey White that I bought a case of this week. Sometimes, you just need to sit outside with a good glass of white wine.

So, I sit here, on the deck, starting to break into a sweat as the sun beats down on me, contemplating what I should blog about. I could blog about not wanting to go back to work tomorrow, but who does? I could blog about how this week was the first Thursday Wine event of the season, but nothing really exciting happened, just a lot of drinking (eight bottles of wine at least). I could blog about what happened in my warhammer games this weekend, but who really cares? Well, a few of you may, but it’s not really meant for this blog.

So here I sit, pondering. Yes it’s hot out, but it is only the start of the season. I better get used to the heat pretty quickly, especially if I want to use this deck. But as I sit here, in the sun and heat, I realize that I had a pretty good weekend. And while I do not want to go back to work, at least I still have a few hours of the weekend to enjoy. Life isn’t all that bad. I’ve got good friends, most of whom I saw, or at least talked to this weekend. Family is still alive and kicking, even if they are currently living in my rental property that I am trying to sell. The cats haven’t been hacking up too many hairballs, though the 6am feeding time is really getting to me. The dishwasher is working again, though I do expect it to break sometime soon… again.

And honestly, it will only be five days till I get to another weekend. I think I can survive that; hopefully I don’t kill anyone in the process.

It was a good weekend, and I cannot wait for the next one.

Three Thing Friday

1. Friday the 13th – I am not one who actually believes in the bad luck of Friday the 13th, but today is pushing me into the realm of belief. The fact that my alarm cats got me up even earlier than usual, on a day I really could have slept in, was just the start to the odd things that happened. So far today it took me an hour to drive three miles on I-95. I stepped on poor Loki’s tail. A bag of food  I just bought ripped once I got it home. I have a slight hang over (ok, that is definitely self inflicted). And to top it all off… nothing good was on TV. Ok, all of this happening on separate days would have been no big deal. It was just odd that it all happened today.

Yea, I still do not believe in the bad luck of Friday the 13th.

2. Rubberneckers – So, the reason I was stuck in traffic for an hour was because of a really bad accident on I-95. In the northbound lanes, the direction I was going was a bad accident with a Jeep, another car, and a tractor-trailer. It was so bad that they had us drive on the shoulder to get past the accident. That is three lanes and the slow lane shoulder that were closed to traffic. Now, why would I have an issue with rubberneckers? Well, when I finally got past the accident, I looked over into the southbound lanes and they were as backed up as the northbound lanes. And there was no reason for that traffic backup other than people slowing down to just take a look. I cannot imagine how angry I would be to have sat in an hour of traffic just to find out I was there because some idiot wanted to take a peak at what was going on with the other side of the road.

3.The World Cup – Well, it is the biggest competition in the world of soccer… um, football. And frankly, I don’t care. I was never really into soccer, so I don’t plan on watching a single game. I do think that the world cup does good, it promotes friendly competition. And at least I can say that it is not on every single channel, all day every day.

I really don’t care if the U.S. wins the world cup. It would be pretty cool for it to happen, but if the U.S. team loses, I am pretty sure that my life would go on as it had before. And if the U.S. team wins, I am pretty sure that my life would go on as normal. Basically, nothing is going to change in my life with any outcome. Life will go on.