Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What a Coincidence, Our Logo is an Eagle

I'm not trying to minimize how bad a bowler the president is, but we make the Special Olympics look like Mensa.
I was telling a co-worker today that our management's decisions have been so perverse lately that I was beginning to pick out things I wanted to buy during our going out of business liquidation sale. He said he thought that they could mismanage it, but that they wouldn't be able to kill it. He said "It's like the Eagle's song, 'They can stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast.'"
Very encouraging, I guess, although the line about checking out (you can never leave) made me skeptical about any early retirement plans.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Life Goes On

Saturday afternoon, Anchorage got a light dusting of ash from Mt. Redoubt. It wasn't enough to really cause any damage or even inconvenience (unless you were trying to fly in or out). It did make the snow look kind of dingy and used, but the snow often looks like that this time of year. This morning we had a few inches of new snow and the world looked bright again. I'm sure there's a sermon in there somewhere about joy coming in the morning, the quality of mercy (raining down from heaven) or that God's compassion is renewed every day. In any event, there's new snow and we can resume our sleigh ride into the open maw of whatever awaits us. As the Beatles put it so poignantly, "Ob-la-di, ob-la-da,"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Is Just So Crazy It Might Work

Letting the patients run the asylum doesn't work because we have never really tried letting the patients run the asylum. When you think about it, the incentives in a normal mental institution are all wrong. Keeping the people crazy is job security for the staff.
But I didn't come here to talk about real asylums, I want to talk about figurative asylums. Have they ever done longitudinal studies of giving workers more latitude? Do employees who are trusted to make decisions make better decisions than managers who don't know how to do the job in the first place?
While mail volumes and revenues are declining, postal managers are focusing on rearranging Managed Service Points. If you think of the Postal Service as a giant ship that takes a while to change course, like, say, the Titanic, then you could think of the MSP's as deck chairs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going With the Floe, Visiting Youth in Asia

Coincidentally, I was just talking about this, with Sarah. She wanted to know why she was paying so much for Medicare. I told her that it was insurance for health care in old age, but that here in Anchorage, no doctors would see Medicare patients so it was essentially a euthanasia program for people on their 65th birthday. "Oh, like the Eskimos used to do with ice bergs," she said.
Yeah, except they didn't have to pay for the ice berg.

Psst, Buddy

In case of a projected ashfall on Anchorage, the postal service and the NALC supposedly set up a buddy system to quickly alert the carriers to return to the post office. I don't think they did, though because nobody signed up to be my buddy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stream of Consciousness Outlook, Moderate to Severe Turbidity

Apparently there was panic in the stores last night when the volcano erupted. It was like a scene from Alas Babylon. I slept through it.
When I woke up, the news was that the president had made another joke. Two weeks ago, the buzz was that he had to lighten up. Now that he has, he's making light of people's suffering. I'd say he couldn't catch a break, but he must have caught a few; he is president.
Today at the post office they had us defer mail in order to be on and off the streets without overtime. They said it was because of ashfall, but I don't believe them. If that was the concern, they'd have had us take all the mail since the ash wasn't supposed to (and didn't) hit here today. I think it's because we're hemorrhaging red ink, perhaps from the 11¢ airmail stamp.
Yesterday at Costco I realized yet another way I've squandered this life and ruined my chances in the one to come. They had a book on display called Replay. The protagonist keeps dying and being reborn as his 18 year old self. Because of his knowledge of sports and stocks, he's able to become fabulously wealthy. Since I can't remember who is the current world champion anything, better yet, the ones from 35 years ago. I'd be completely helpless trying to parlay my knowledge of the world since 1972 into a fortune. About like I did this time through.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dance, Druid, Dance. Then You Can Take a Shower, or Brush Your Teeth.

Today, the first day of spring, was a day of extremes. Okay, not extreme like cage fighting, or anything, but still, it was only slightly above zero when I went to work this morning, but by this afternoon when I rode over to the pharmacy (for the third time for one prescription) it was a lovely spring day. Well, that might be an extreme way of putting it since the snow berms on the streets are still about 4 feet high and the yards are still completely covered in snow, but it was warmer.
Also today, the bathroom remodel is completed for all practical purposes. If you want to park a clown car, or something impractical you'll have to wait, and there's still a little trim work that will probably never be finished.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Living in the Land of Milk and Honey. Not Really.

I'm not sure we appreciate how lucky we are to live in a place where metaphors are just figures of speech. You're supposed to buy stocks when there's blood in the streets. Things, schools maybe, are "from hell", and situations are defused.
I was listening to a news story recently. An Afghan man was saying that Americans don't respect their culture or religion. Later in the story they interviewed a 12 year old boy who had been stopped from exploding his suicide vest, but still planned on killing himself to kill non-Muslims.
Okay, this post is a little on the nose, but I went for a nice ride on the bike trail after work today. It was really pretty and the trail was great, but it's not always easy to turn that into a grumbly post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Everett Dirksen is Gone, Long Live Everett Dirksen

Everett Dirksen is widely believed to have said, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." He probably never said exactly that, and of course, now it seems hopelessly thrifty.
Autres temps, autres moeurs.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Blog of Biblical Proportions

A couple of weeks ago, we almost went to church for the first time in months, but Karen's tubing came apart, and there was blood everywhere, and by the time we got everything back together, the moment had passed. The dogs kept sniffing the bloody nightgown, and then eying us, as if they were they thinking, "Mmmm, that smells delicious, and there's probably more inside those two."

Last week was "Spring Forward, Miss Church," week. This morning, though, we made it, and it was a revelation, if you don't mind that little bit of churchy vocab. First there was a 15 minute skit, that included a flashback, but then, according to the pastor, the largest proportion of the Psalms is lamentations, which he defined as complaints. So, he's saying that this blog isn't just a series of disjointed grumbling, but an actual cri du coeur, a lament, if you will.
He put the structure of a lamentation on the overhead, and then invited the congregation to write their own with the paper he'd provided. We had to leave before we could do that. I don't want to complain, but Karen's pain was out of control. I don't want to complain, I want to lament.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This is True, My Daughter is a Beauty Ambassador

Emily Dickinson said in one of her poems that truth and beauty are the same thing. Of course, having said that, she starts right away talking about dying; man, what is her problem? She's like the first post-gothic goth poet. I bet she painted her nails black. Which, surprisingly, brings me back to my point, that beauty itself involves a lot of artifice. That being so, we shouldn't expect the stark truth to have stand there in it's nakedness.
So, this morning's post contained two true stories, but neither one was especially interesting as presented. Of course I gained weight. It's true, but after watching TV for fifty years, that's what we might have expected. You might have, anyway. I was shocked and disappointed.
A man lighting a cigarette and blowing up his house was dealt with far more interestingly in Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. In his version the mailman is just pushing a letter through the slot as Leland decides not to kill himself and lights a cigarette. The house is destroyed, the mailman blown across the yard, and Leland and the letter miraculously survive. What timing, the letter invites him to come home. And he needs a new place to stay.

Health Updates

...and the results are in.
After paying close attention to my diet, and exercising this week, I gained three pounds.

Smoking Carries Health Risks
Fire department Battalion Chief Bridget Bushue said the explosion apparently occurred as the injured man was lighting a cigarette in the garage of the home in the 7700 block of Island Drive. Investigators later picked up a natural gas leak in the home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Maybe It's Baby Fat

This week I've tried to go for at least a short bike ride every day after work. It occurred to me that if I didn't lose my Christmas weight pretty soon, it was just going to be weight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not Keeping It In Perspective, and Then, Keeping It in Perspective, and Then, Not Keeping It In Perspective

I was going to show you the formula that Wired Magazine says destroyed our economy, but it just got too complicated, which might have been the problem in the first place. From there, the plan was to segue into a discussion of a possible formula to use at work. Last summer, as you may remember, our routes were "adjusted", perhaps by a chiropractor on crack cocaine. Now they're all, "We eliminated 3 routes, we should be saving time, why's all this mail piling up?"
Anyhoo, I had planned to talk about irritations (almost infinite, and expanding) at work, and the chances that I'd ever get my route caught up (infinitesimal and shrinking) but when I got home, I found something that put it all in perspective. Ellie has lost her pink ball, which means the world to her...
Except the phone rang, I got up and walked around while I was talking and I found her ball, so yeah, good for her, the post office sucks.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I See I've Been Wasting My Time

Man, that's true, and it's been going on awhile. All is vanity. But the proximate cause of this post, is an e-mail I just got that without admitting it's a fake, starts out by saying "True or not..."
Here I've been laboring to make these posts plausible, and now it turns out, I needn't have bothered.
Don't order pizza before you read this, at least if you live on my route:
You have to take job satisfaction where you can find it. Starting with my day off on Saturday, the managers at our station have been deferring mail on my route to cap overtime. Today, for the first time in years, I've actually deferred more mail than I'm delivering. Yay, me.
I'd hoped job satisfaction would be more, um satisfying.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Of Course, If You're Really Old, There's Not That Much Future To Fear

As an old, old man, Trout would be asked by Dr. Thor Lembrig the Secretary-General of the United Nations, if he feared the future. He would give this reply:
"Mr. Secretary-General, it is the past which scares the bejesus out of me."~from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

I don't want to spoil anyone's fun, but I just don't think rape is entertaining. That makes it almost impossible to watch Criminal Minds on CBS, or at least it did this week. While Karen watched it, I went back and surfed around on the computer. iTunes (which I see now is impossible to start a sentence with) has a section called "Essentials". In that section besides genres, and artists, they also have the seminal tracks by year. In no time at all, I was back in junior high.

Monday, March 02, 2009

If Starship Troopers Wasn't the Worst Movie Ever Made, Then Easy Rider Might Have Been a Contender

It's so exciting to get a comment on this blog that I feel bad taking issue with it, but I don't think that The Atlantic writer was recommending communal living instead of home ownership. I think that the gulag and Easy Rider (such a smug, preachy movie that I'm sure the hippies on the commune choked on their own self satisfaction) should have put paid to that notion. Ananias and Sapphira are always with us. There is also evidence that a nation of homeowners has social benefits. Here's a link to a completely unbiased report put together by the REALTORs
Our own American version of communal wealth sharing is, of course, Social Security. Here I need to mention something blindingly obvious; normally the spotlight on this blog is focused so tightly on my self pity that ants standing nearby might burst into flame. But for just a moment I'm broadening the beam slightly to mention that my sister's husband of many years passed away this weekend after a long, painful wasting away. Leah saw them when she was in Seattle last month, and thought he was in good spirits and amazingly sharp, but finally, as something will be for all of us, the disease was too much.
Social Security's web site, or more likely, Social Security itself, is too complicated for the uninitiated to understand. It appears, though, that people that are sixty years old can collect a survivor benefit, but not until they have been sixty for at least a month. I'm not trying to arouse outrage here, or even change the system, but doesn't that seem like an awfully specific and puzzling requirement?