Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Annoying Co-Worker Chronicles - Ep3

The morning routine....

The badge passes through the scanner 1’s & 0’s fly through the system confirming identity and CLICK as a microswitch releases the lock. Enter the building and sense that the schizophrenic HVAC system has today decided that the interior weather will be something akin to Tuscaloosa in August, it was Green Bay in November yesterday. Swing by the desk; Ctrl-Alt-Delete and tap out 3rd Grade Teachers name and the aged laptop whirs to life, Outlook collecting the morning litany of action items. To the break room - a filter, a cup of grounds and start the brew.

Emails – delete, delete, delete the silly forwarded jokes…not at work please folks, those I’ll handle later, don’t ask me to do your job, list reduced by ½….coffeenow. Back to the desk. People filtering in. Mike the engineer gets his coffee, yells at the BMW service department on the phone. That guy with no apparent purpose other than socializing fills his gas-can sized mug and begins his rounds. It’s almost time…

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Central Coast Sojourn - Paso Robles, Cambria & Cayucos

This last weekend Kathy and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Nothing could make me happier. When we got married 5 years ago in Italy we rented a villa in Tuscany and invited 30 of our friends to join us. We’d toyed with the idea of repeating that for our 5th but neither of us could spare the two weeks off and the exchange rate is horrible right now anyway. Besides, we’d just gone to Barcelona in March to celebrate Kathy’s birthday. Hence a little more low-key, but no less treasured celebration was called for.

We decided a quiet weekend within a day’s drive was better in terms of direct cost, opportunity cost at work and the reduced stress of not having to deal with airports and long flights was just a bonus. After looking around a bit we chose the wine region surrounding Paso Robles for our daytime knocking around with overnights in Cambria and Cayucos.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do you really want the "next guy" in charge of your healthcare?

The year is 1993 and the then First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton sat before Congress testifying in support of Universal Healthcare Legislation. Many elements of the bill were different  from current healthcare legislation but the core of it bore more similarities than differences:

The Clinton health plan required each US citizen and permanent resident alien to become enrolled in a qualified health plan and forbade their disenrollment until covered by another plan. It listed minimum coverage’s and maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses for each plan. It proposed the establishment of corporate "regional alliances" of health providers to be subject to a fee-for-service schedule. People below a certain set income level were to pay nothing. The act listed funding to be sent to the states for the administration of this plan, beginning at $13.5 billion in 1993 and reaching $38.3 billion in 2003.

...it was less expensive though...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Man Can Cook #9 - Gumbo du Fontenot

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I am an inveterate San Francisco Giants fan. If you didn’t know it, now you do. Of late, a diminutive utility infielder named Mike Fontenot has been performing mightily for the Giants. Hitting in the 3-hole and playing out of position at short stop and doing a better than average job of it. When you hear an interview with Fontenot you can’t miss the unmistakable patois of the Bayou. Fontenot is from Louisiana and hearing him speak got me all sorts of nostalgic for New Orleans and drove me to the kitchen to whip up a batch of Gumbo in his honor.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Annoying Co-Worker Chronicles - Ep2

So I'm wearing a new pair of shoes today and they squeak. Sort of a lot.

I had to walk through finance 3-4 times this morning and in doing so I passed by a guest cube that is used by auditors or short term contract number-crunchers. This contract  number-cruncher lady who is not well liked pipes up on my last trip by about the squeak. Curious, I stopped and asked, "Excuse me?" and she replied, "Your shoes. They're reeeeally loud and annoying and it's distracting...and rude...um...I'm trying to woooork."

I looked her in the eye for a second to try and determine if she was serious or just kidding whilst pondering my reply. A number of possible retorts went through my mind but I settled on the following; "I'm sorry. I don't really like to bring it up but I have a prosthetic lower leg. The covering on the prosthesis tends to squeak. I mean, it's not skin, it's silicone right? So I apologize if it bothers you, but if it's any consolation, I can assure you that missing a leg is something of an annoyance to me as well."

Enjoy your workday!

(no...I don't have a prosthetic leg)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead. So why am I not happy?

On 01 May, 2011 a US SpecOps team flew into Abbotabad, Pakistan then hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden. Good news right? So why do I not share the unabashed joy seen in people celebrating the event last night in front of the White House, in Times Square and elsewhere?

A poignant sentiment mis-attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King; "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."  

Similarly, Mark Twain once said;  "I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure" 

Dr. King didn't say it but whomever did might be a better man than I. I'm leaning more toward Mark Twain on this. Osama Bin Laden is directly responsible for the death of thousands of Americans and Citizens of other Nations around the world....

List of attacks perpetrated by al-Qaeda

...I knew 15 of those people. But still, I don't feel like celebrating for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that I know this doesn't change anything. Osama Bin Laden was a sub-human. But his was not a unique character. There are scores of equally vile bastards around the world. Any number of whom have similar, if not greater evil in their hearts. Any number of them ready to continue what Bin Laden started. As you read this it is highly likely that somewhere in the world someone is plotting to avenge the death of Bin Laden. That son of a bitch is going to have to die too. Where and how does it end? 

I think though that the primary reason for my lack of celebration is that I am appalled at the people scrambling to claim "credit" for this success for whichever political affiliation they espouse. Listen jerkoffs, this isn't about Bush or Obama, Democrats or Republicans, it certainly isn't about scoring "Political Points" and I'm nauseated by you if you think otherwise. This is about us. All of us. We all shared the losses incurred from each of al-Qaeda's attacks against us and our allies. We all shared a desire and commitment to bring Bin Laden to justice. That desire and commitment has been satisfied and if there is any credit to be granted it is to the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Civilians and in particular to the SpecOps Operators who carried out the end-game to over 10 years of efforts to rid this planet of Osama Bin Laden.

Osama Bin Laden's last moment was spent hiding behind a woman while looking an American in the eye. A cowardly killer extinguished by honorable men ensuring justice has been served.

There's no cause for celebration here. We should be pleased at the news, but sobered by the fact that all of this is due to events that ended the lives of thousands of innocent people and that their loss will not be our last.