Bigger problems in DC than Congress

Sometime last year, after a few incidents of inclement weather, I noticed that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was apparently going to continue it's policy of delaying announcements (until approximately 4am on the day of) their decisions to close or postpone the opening of federal gov't offices in D.C. by an hour or two.  Or whatever.

OPM's policy of announcing their decisions at 4am was fine by me because it was a good 15 minutes before I got up.  And, unlike some folks who live a piece-ways over the ridge and who claim to be zombie-driving at 0330 every morning, I walk out my front door and board the Metro train at 0450.  I zombie-read the newspaper aaaaalllll the way in.  It's much safer.  I especially enjoy the extra peace and quiet on the 'delayed start' mornings when the Metro-ride is extra nice, extra empty and extra quiet and I don't have to be on the lookout for homeless people peeing in an empty seat.

When everybody is told to be late or to "plan to arrive for work no more than two hours later than they would be expected to arrive," the abnormally empty and exhaust-free streets in and around the Navy Yard are nice, and, with the exception of one other 'I don't do mornings' coworker (a guy who also used to come in early to avoid having to interact with others before all of his neurons were firing), the office was nice and extra-quiet, too.   I remember fondly the mornings when I'd arrive at that quiet office after a nice quiet ride, after a nice little breakfast without standing in line ... it was nice.

I liked OPM's policy.

Empty Metro stations are quiet, peaceful and pleasant.

This year, however, things have changed.  There's been a change in OPM's policy.

Quite frankly, I don't like it.

See, it would appear that OPM has decided to change their old policy.  I'm sure that some think of this change as an improvement but I certainly don't.  The issue here is that, while their old policy of "Make the decision after everyone is already on their way to work" used to piss off a lot of Feds in D.C., at least I got my beffiss at the proper time!

Now, with OPM's show of thoughtfulness for their fellow man (and woman, and -- you know what I mean) and their new shiny-rainbow-and-gumdrops-policy of actually making their announcements the night before, it gives the opportunity for *both* of the breakfast shops I frequent (for either my 2nd morning coffee and a bagel or egg-sammich) to have the unmitigated gall to *also* make a parallel decision to close or open late!

So now I have to wait until *eight,* yes: *8* in the morning for my coffee and sammiches?  Hah!

No.  This needs to be fixed.  

I don't know about you, but I intend on writing a strongly-worded letter to the White Star Line about all of this!

Captain Edward J. Smith sunk with his ship, The Titanic.

I will also have to remember to give the folks at the L'Enfant Plaza "Starbucks" a tip (or maybe a "Thanks") tomorrow for opening when they were supposed to this morning (when nobody else did ... because it snowed).  If it weren't for those overachieving people at "Starbucks," I'd be in bad shape, I tell ya!  What is this world coming to?

It's a sign of the apocalyse - I'm sure of it.  I mean, what's next?  Will these sweatshop breakfast outfits also follow OPM's policies and pay their people overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week?  Will they cease threatening to fire workers who speak out about unfair and possibly illegal employment practices or working conditions?

Maybe I shouldn't complain so much. 

Was that my outside voice?


Paid snow day ... except for those already furloughed.

You need to keep busy ...

It snowed. *All* of DC is now shut down.

Between 12 & 13 January 2019, my neighborhood
received somewhere from 1 to 11.5 inches of snow.
The weatherguessers 'called it.'

The prediction was that, somewhere over 2 or 3 days, there would be an accumulation of 2-10 inches of snow ... we got about 6'ish, from what I can tell.  But I'm not really sure what to go by; should I listen to WTOP radio, watch TV weather news, look at my Weatherbug app on my cellphone, ask Alexa (!) or just go stick a ruler into the snow?

Now everyone who works for one of the government departments still being paid who had been expecting to be waiting for 4am to find out from The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) if they're expected to show up for work late on Monday or at all (that's when OPM historically makes these decisions), have been advised:  stay home.

As Mr. Bill Murray would say:  "It just doesn't matter" for me.  Sick people who may have pneumonia should say home regardless of whether or not the government is shut down due to weather or a wall.

Peace out.


"Snow or no snow," that is the question.

I predict this weathergirl is 100% with regard to her weather-related commentary.
To be fair, I acknowledge that Mother Nature is difficult to predict.  Sometimes you get what was promised.  Sometimes you get what was expected.  And sometimes you get clocked with a roundhouse kick to the side of the head that you didn't see coming.

With that said, the weather people seem pretty sure of themselves this time.  Their inches and probability percentages differ slightly but, they all seem to be pretty sure it's going to snow.

The National Weather Service (NWS) prediction (above) calls for 4-6" in the DC area, implying a 100% chance of snow, but not sure of the accumulation (understandable).  They also put expiration dates on their predictions, so they can change them without looking more unreliable than they are.

The Weatherbug app (below), which uses data from users, says the probability of snow is "near 100%," why not just go there?  C'mon, Weatherbug!  "You can doooeeeet!"  At least they have the confidence to throw out probability percentages like the big guys.

Of note, however, The NWS also thinks there's only a 50% chance of snow today, but 100% on Sunday -- and they think it will also be snowing on Monday (20%).

I'll be surprised if they're accurate, and won't pick on them anymore.  But, my experience is that, when they go all out and warn people more than 1 or 2 days ahead of when they think it will be snowing, they're wrong.  Conversely, when they *don't* warn you of anything serious: you get buried.

I'm still sick since last Tuesday, so at least this will give me something to think about other than Netflix while I drain my body of it's 4-6 inches of snot with a 50% chance of it letting up by Sunday.

  • Saturday, 1300 - NWS sends an SMS alert that it will start snowing in 110 minutes!  Accumulation also increased to 5-10 inches. 
  • Sunday, 1630 - A few flakes are floating around Crystal City in Arlington, VA.  NSTR.

  • Sunday, 2045 - Somewhere between 0" and 11" accumulation.  DC Gov't offices are closed.
  • Monday AM:



2nd day back at work after 2 sick days ...

The Navy Yard Metro Station is probably not the most germ-free of places.

... the opening scene from 'Apocalypse Now' comes to mind.

I probably should have canx'ed these last 2 days and stayed home in bed.  I got some work done yesterday that needed doin' but still -- the needs of the few may have outweighed the needs of the many despite Mr. Roddenberry's words from so long ago.  The current job, like those of so many others, is one of those deals where, the longer I'm not there, the suckier it is when I go back.  So any vacation taken is only pleasant for half of its total length because halfway in:  you're wrapping it up.  

So I went back.

Plus, it would have been a really crappy thing to do to take whatever infectious germies I had in to work and possibly bring down the other two folks I labor with ... they're nice people and don't deserve it.  Neither of them read this blog, so I can say nice things about them and they'll never know.

As of yesterday morning, the weather people (they call them 'The Capitol Weather Gang' here) are already warning everyone who still pays attention to them of some possible snow-action over the weekend -- or maybe not.  Maybe a Snowpocalypse -- or maybe not.  I don't think it's ever been called accurately here for the past 2.5'ish years we've been here.

And, whether we are treated to a big snowstorm this weekend or not:  it's Friday.  The weekend is here.  Since we arrived here in September of 2016, this has taken on the significance it once had like in the 1981 song.  While I am fortunate to now work a schedule that involves 'every other Friday off,' it's interesting to me to remember how I used to work a 10+ hours/day, 7-day week pretty much all year and *like* it.  I am lucky to have enjoyed a job like that for as long as I did.  

"Everybody's workin' for the weekend."  - Loverboy


I can't believe I'm saying this, but ...

The media seems to have been getting it right. 

The 'two sides' are at a flat-out, nyeh-nyeh-I'm-not-listening-to-you-I'm-right-you're-wrong-I'm-big-you're-small impasse.  They. Just. Don't. Want. To. Give. In. 


C'mon, government people, do something.  Something.  Maybe like Thomas Dewey did in his 1948 presidential campaign (against Truman), 'take the high road?'  Well .. then again, he did lose that election, no matter what the media thought was going to happen (and printed before it happened):

I didn't hear anybody say anything I haven't already heard for the past few weeks since the partial government shutdown began.  This is extra annoying to me because I got up from a cold-and-flu-medicine-induced sleep to watch these two 'speeches' that I hope my tax dollars didn't pay for. 

And I'm sick.  No.  Really sick.  That's why I'm taking this cold-and-flu stuff.

And I still set my alarm(s) up to watch the disappointment.

So there's that.

For historical purposes (in case anyone actually reads this in the future after most people have forgotten about this whole wall-thing), there was a mention by POTUS of a 45-minute meeting tomorrow.  I guess we'll have to stay tuned and see if anything comes out of that.


While I try not to discuss my political leanings via this medium, I am strongly reminded of the words of Rodney King:

Or The President ... or Jack Nicholson or whoever said it ...


Once a year or so ...

Sick today.

As a friend says "I think I've been poisoned.  I think I'm dying."

S'a good thing nobody in my family owns a Porsche.

This post sponsored by:

(Why is it pronounced MYOOsin-ex and not MYUKEin-ex?)


Oops ... *now* what do I do?

I'll be okay if I go out of my way to call her "ma'am" even 
if I see her at the other end of the block or something, right?


What bothers you?

Bill Murray, Actor and Urban Legend

Stuff that bothers me ...
  1. The year goes too fast. 
    It's almost like the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day." 
    Wasn't it just this time, last year?  Two years ago, even?  It's a blur.

  2. Commercials.  Period. 
    I know why they're there, but there's gotta be a better way.

  3. People who drive in the left lane until too late to get off at their exit without causing a traffic slowdown for miles behind them. 
    Some people just make a mistake, I get that. 
    But those with no regard for those behind them bother me.  Tailgaters fit in here, too.

  4. Chinese fountain pen prices are going up astronomically.  $1 a year or so ago, $3 now!?

  5. Reading about and listening to a politically polarized nation and not knowing if there's any difference between 2019 and 1969.  (Look here:  Headlines from 1969)

  6. People who take too long to answer their e-mails.

  7. People who hardly use e-mail anymore because, in their personal and work-life, they are able to communicate with everyone in their life via text messages or some other texting application on their smartphone.

  8. People who don't use e-mail. At all.

  9. People who lie.  If you slept late, just say so.  If you don't like something, just say so.

  10. The time it takes for new seasons to be completed and released on Netflix
    I have a rule:  a program has to have been running for at least two seasons with a fourth on the way before we'll start watching Season 1, Episode 1.
    I might expand that to 3.

  11. People in charge of stuff who clearly shouldn't be in charge of said stuff.

  12. The meager salaries paid to elementary and secondary school teachers.  Our teachers are a back-up to failed parenting. 
    The limitations placed upon them over the past 20 years or so is the cause of many of the problems in our country
    Maybe not some of the bigger ones, but maybe those problems, too.

  13. The fact that I'm not able to add to this list of what really bothers me in the words I really want to use because I'm not yet at a point in my life and career where I'm willing to accept the possibility that I'll have to meet and deal with someone with whom I'd rather not meet nor deal.  But there are some sissy-ways around that.

I recently watched a Netflix documentary about the actor Bill Murray.  It explores the urban legends about the actor 'showing up randomly' in various places around the country and, in a very low key manner, engaging with the public and always brightening up the lives of those with whom he shares his time. 
In that documentary, the filmmaker points out a recurring improvisation theme in many of Mr. Murray's movies (he is famous for improvising lines in his movies) - which seem to parallel his personal philosophy.  It is one that I would like to embrace more fully:

"It just doesn't matter."  -- Bill Murray



Wow! Can they do this?

I've heard of them closing National Parks but this is crazy.  How'd they do that?

Do you need to relax? Look at this:

This is a non-moving image.  Or is it?  Maybe you're just stressed!

Without having researched the origins of this image, I reposted it here because its journey around Facebook spreads the message that stressed people will see movement, non-stressed people will not.

The post was then re-edited this morning (it was originally just this image because I think it's so cool) because I've run across some examples of people who need to CTFO or CTFD (did I just make those up or are kids using those already?).

On this particular morning, after reading so many arguments and accusations about so many numerous silly things (both on various news outlet posts as well as on Facebook -- although there doesn't seem to be much of a difference lately!), my trip-wire went off (hence this post) after a particularly significant swat during my 'morning surf.'

First, some background:

3 pens featuring the signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence

I use fountain pens.  Solely.  Just fountain pens.  I might sometimes sign a purchase receipt in the store with the Bic (or whatever) is handed to me, but even then sometimes I'll use a fountain pen.  I began using them in early 2017 for various reasons and just found the experience so ... enjoyable and enriching (?) that I made the concious decision to go all the way.  So I guess I'm a "fountain pen geek."

Some more fountain pens
Now, that said:

To learn more about fountain pens, find good deals, learn about where to find good pens and vintage ones, I scour eBay, Amazon, a few stationery stores and a few online pen stores (some with a brick and mortar presence, some who are only online).  I also joined a few Facebook groups populated by fountain pen geeks like me.  SIDENOTE:  Interestingly, but probably not surprising to many other than *me,* some of these Facebook groups appear to have been discreetly created *by* some of the online and brick & mortar store-people who sell fountain pens!  Duh!  Who'da thought?

Back to my point:  most of the "Fountain Pen People" have been all, with this one new exception, extremely enjoyable and engaging folks with a plethora of reasons for preferring to use fountain pens.  Most all have stories to tell and questions to ask which are (almost) always interesting to read about.  I visit one or two of these groups on an almost daily basis as part of my nightly (or morning, in the case of days off and weekends) Facebook feed-surf and often find some very interesting discussions, etc.  Many times someone will ask a question in a group and folks are always quick to help out with answers.

Except, apparently, for my question to the Admin of a Facebook group about a question posted to her group (of which I am, sadly, no longer able to call myself 'a member') called "Cheap Thrills: Fountain Pens Under $20."  I only name the group because ... well ... I wanted to.

Now, mind you, while most of the pens discussed in this group aren't all that thrilling, it's the fact that one can get a hold of fountain pens and related items for less than twenty bucks (when they are sold elsewhere for *more* than that) is an attractive idea -- something you might want to know about, right?  So that's why I joined the group.

Here's how I ended up not being in this little group for fans of cheap fountain pens:

First off, here's the Admin-Nazi's rules.  You need to read them to understand the question someone asked and then *my* question which resulted in my being threatened with banishment for questioning authority :

Cheap Pen Group Admin-Nazi's rules:

Earlier this morning (last night, maybe) a person posted a question to the group:  

"If you had $50 dollars, what would you buy?"  

Initially, you might think this directly violates the "$20 Rule," but does it?!  I was *immediately* a fan of this person's question because it livened up the otherwise rather dull and repetitive drone of the group.

See, while the group rule states " -- it's just that $20 or less has to have left your pocket, no more," one must assume that this person could be asking about multiple "less than $20" purchases which total $50 or less ... maybe over several days, even.  And certainly the group Admin's rule can't mean that you may only post about the one and only singular time you bought something fountain pen-related and it'd better have been less than $20.  

I asked the person who posted the question:  

"$50 like as in several items under $20, right?"

The group Admin pounced on me:  

"NO!  I've addressed this question MANY times before, $20 is $20, blah blah blah ... if you cannot understand this you will be removed from the group!" 

"Ah!  Thank you for the explanation," I replied, "my Facebook feed has grown a bit too long -- and in your group's case:  in the tooth." and I quietly faded away.  

I'm pretty sure that, had I answered the Nazi-lady, I'd have been justifiably booted from her group for pouncing back ... it's her group, assaults aren't tolerated, I wouldn't think (in addition to any numbers bigger than 20).

Interestingly, the lady who posted the question "If you had $50 dollars, what would you buy?" is still there.  The moderator who echoed my thought and inferred "You talking about pens cheaper than $20 and maybe some ink, etc.?" (and answered her at length!) generate no response.  It must be just me.  

I'm such a troublemaker.



Are the members of 
the U.S. House and Senate 
being referred to as "leaders?"

I suppose if the word "leader" is kept restricted in its use and only uttered in phrases such as: 
" ... leaders of the House ... " or " ... leaders of the Senate ... ", that's okay.

But, the last time I checked, I'm pretty sure these folks were supposed to be elected representatives put there by the people who voted for them and the word 'servant' more applicable to their tasks at hand.  But then I've been wrong before.



"Do what you can't."

Some motivation for you.  And me.
(This was, technically, my post for 3 Jan, but it went up before midnite, so ... )

"Pick something you know how to do, you can do well, and that you can make money doing."

Probably the first words of advice that still regularly ring in my head are those from a friend of mine given to me over thirty years ago.

It was a version of the graphic above, but my friend's version was (in answer to my complaining about not knowing what I wanted to do after we graduated from high school):

"Do something that you know how to do, that you do well (hopefully), and that you can make money doing it!"

So I became a U.S. Navy Journalist and messed around with that for 20-odd years.

Rating badge for 'Navy Journalist' (they no longer exist)

I write how I talk.  Or so I've been told.  And I'm pretty sure I like it that way.

A Facebook acquaintance objected to how I worded one of 3 choices on a poll I presented to a group in which we are both members:

"John, words matter - pick better ones."

She didn't like the 1st option:  "Do you use 'anything that writes,' based upon the occasion (pencils, charcoal for sketching, a pen of some sort for other stuff, etc.)?

So I suggested a rewritten version:

"Do you use any natural or man-made object used for or created with the intent of written communication or creative expression, including, but not limited to any one type of such item?  (Those who prefer to use a fountain pen or a charcoal stick or a rollerball pen, ballpoint pen, colored or regular pencil or any other such utensil selected for its unique relevency and appropriateness to the task at hand on any specific occasion as the situation calls for" would check this option.)

Fortunately, she thought that was funny (it could have gone south!).

I am also very fortunate to be able to be in touch with my 12th-grade English/Literature teacher (from 1980something).  After I recently expressed my lack of interest in "The Oxford comma," he opined:

"Sacrilege, John.  I thought you wiser.  Remember that good folks do not judge others on the basis of race, color, creed or gender, but they do judge them on the basis of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.  I hope that you never become tired of other conventions like run-on sentences, periods and capital letters."

I replied:

"I *do* love my run-on sentences which can often be SO much fun but also misinterpreted if they're not built correctly because people don't always 'get it' ... see what I did there? But, as we sail into 2019, I will be sticking to my guns and not using the Oxford comma if and when opportunities arise to make that decision while writing because I don't like it, it doesn't 'read like I speak' and it's a point of contention which often starts fun conversations like this one. :)

"As you are likely well aware, my long-valued mentor and friend, I've always been a bit of a rogue when it comes to rules that I don't like - and this last portion of my reply (after the hyphen about 10 or 11 words back, depending on how you count) is strictly here to give a lil more *oomph* to the bit about run-on sentences. I'm also not quite sure about hyphenated words, so I usually create those when, where and how I choose. :)

You were right all those years ago: Mediocrity is boring."

I received an e-mail from him just this evening that was so personally motivating ... I'm not sure as of yet whether or not I will ever share it with anyone ... but I will say this:

Regardless of what I thought in high school, he likes what I write.  Even if I am a smartass about it a lot of the time.  I guess when you're over 50 it's sometimes called "witty."

Moral of the story:

"Go with what you know."  (Something another person told me that I've never forgotten.)



2019: Nobody uses e-mail anymore?

Really?  Nobody?  This is news to me.  My sister recently expressed the same observation alluding to the fact that I communicate with our mother via e-mail, but she's strictly a 'text message girl' and, heaven forbid, that text message be via Facebook's Instant Messenger.  After recently sending her a text from my cellphone (because she doesn't often use Facebook or it's messaging feature) I believe I remember her asking "Since *when* do *you* use text messaging?  I thought you used Facebook Messenger?!" with a similar that 'when did you become current' inference.  This is my *older* sister!

So I did some 'Googling.'  I can't decide if there's really a disappearing act (e-mail's) going on or if it's a concerted effort by corporate America to 'make it happen' in an effort to pave the way for whatever the next 'thing' is to be.

I think the problem people imagine is that their information is not secure and that any one of many people between themselves and the recipient of their e-mail  can be snooping.  Encryption very simply and effectively prevents this.  Could it be that all those who predict the downfall of e-mail are unaware of hope to use it properly to protect their data?

Here's an interesting video:

Perhaps because I work for the government and most of my emails are, indeed, encrypted (not a big deal, you can encrypt your Gmail or even your AOL e-mail) is the reason I don't understand the problem that my sister and others see with e-mail (as they understand it is to be used)?  

Is it that they don't know how to protect their 1s and 0s from Ivan or Abdul?  Or is it that they think it's much more efficient to tap out a line or two (in a code that resembles their mother language but with a lot of the vowels missing - LOL, OMG, BFF, ROTFLMAO, ETC. See what I did there?  :)

We shall see!  My Googling seems to uggest that some folks think e-mailing will be replaced (by something nobody yet knows about) by next year (2020) -- if only they knew, as my sister does:

Nobody emails anymore!

... more later (when e-mail disappears).