Friday, May 26, 2017

Whirlwind tour

Let’s close out the week with a few more visuals from the Kleptocrat’s first foreign trip, in which he sucked up to despotic regimes that support terrorism, pissed off our (possibly former) allies and generally embarrassed us in front of the whole world.

We’ve seen him bonding with leaders of Muslim nations in which he has still undivested business interests, and sticking his foot in his mouth in his photo ops with the Israelis. And there was that lovely moment in Tel Aviv where he tried to show the world how his latest trophy wife can’t get enough of him. And that note for those folks at Yad Vashem telling them how lucky they were to have him stop by.

Well, moving on to Rome for a flying visit with Pope Francis I, we had more unpresidented moments. Debarking from Air Force 1 at the airport, we saw another demonstration of how practiced Melania is at avoiding those tiny hands:

Then there was the photo op with His Holiness and the Klepto Family. Social media was alive with bubble captions for this money shot:

My own paltry addition to the genre:

Kleptocrat: “When does this guy give me the gold necklace?”
Melania: “As God is my witness, if he tries grabbing my hand this time, Imma clip him in the kidney.”*
Ivanka: “Wonder how long I have to wait before I put this outfit up on eBay?”
Kushner: “Gevalt!”**
Francis: “Ohmeyn.”
*Notice her hands—they’re clenched, like she’s expecting to have to Take Action.
**STOP PRESS: I understand that Kushner (and Ivanka, but who cares?) has returned already to the District They Call Columbia, possibly to seek legal counsel on account of the special investigation into collusion between the Gauleiters and Russia has named him a Person of Interest.

No little yearbook messages, but the Pope gave Donnie Two Scoops a copy of his encyclical on climate change. No chance that he or anyone in his administration will read it, though.

(Maybe he’ll toss it to Spicey—who is a practicing Catholic and was by all accounts very much looking forward to the opportunity to meet the Pope. In an act of petty humiliation remarkable even for this jerk—who only measures his own stature by how low he can force others around him—the Kleptocrat brought a random selection of toadies, but left his press secretary behind on Air Force 1.)

Moving on to Brussels (which he has referred to as a hellhole) yesterday to attempt to throw his not inconsiderable fatness around with NATO, he had the assembled leaders from those nations sniggering as the guy famous for stiffing vendors, workers, partners, creditors and American taxpayers demanded that they all need to “pay up”.

(BTW, the occasion for the gathering of NATO leaders was the dedication of a memorial to the victims of the September 11th attacks, the only time in history that Article 5 of the treaty has been invoked. Stay classy, Klepto.)

The Kleptocrat tried one of his intimidating my-hands-may-be-tiny-but-I’ll-break-yours handshakes on French President Emmanuel Macron. The 39-year-old Macron was prepared for this puerile stunt, and held the tiny hand in a white-knuckle grip for several seconds after the 70-year-old bully had gone limp.

(It may well be that this literal mano a mano contest was payback for an earlier incident where Macron had ignored L'il Two Scoops and greeted other leaders. Eventually the Chaos Monkey couldn't stand it any more, grabbed the hand of the lesser being and tried his usual dominating ape schtick. Payback's a bitch, my short-fingered vulgarian.)

(We're told, BTW, that the traveling dumpster fire assured Macron that he'd never supported his opponent in the recent French election. That would be Marine Le Pen, the right-wing nut job whom he had publicly praised during the campaign. But yesterday it was—and I quote—"You were my guy." I'm sure Macron found that both heartwarming and reassuring. And expressed that gratitude in his handshake.) 

But wait—there’s more. Proving that any class this buffoon has is strictly low, the glory hound literally shoved his way into the front of a cluster of NATO leaders to get full camera coverage. Note the smug look on his orange visage as he gets there.

There were wags on Twitter positing that, with all the revelations about connections between various Gauleiters and Russia over time, the Kleptocrat might order Air Force 1 to put down in some country without an extradition treaty (like Vatican City) and refuse to come back. Or that, what with extreme vetting of criminals trying to enter the country, Immigration wouldn’t let him back in. But I suppose at some point he’s going to come back like a bad penny.

What are the odds, though, that those swell gifts the Saudis gave him will not make their way into the White House inventory, but will end up in some vault on an over-mortgaged estate in New Jersey?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ROI report

Tuesday at work was one of those days—the kind that leave you wishing for nothing so much as a flattop of nachos steaming through an ocean of margaritas. This was largely because of that class I was telling you about, trying to teach people how to think in terms of ideas for new products and services.

Now I understand that this is a bit of a stretch for most of the staff in this organization, and maybe even a few exits past their comfort zone. That’s why we paid many monies to a consultant to come in and teach the six-session course. Early this month we started out with 17 people signed up. (We’d hoped to get somewhere between 20 and 30.) Everyone expressed great excitement when they asked to join. Two told me they couldn’t make it to the first class, but I gave them dispensation—they could catch up via online videos and discussions.

So, aside from those two, one person emailed me the day before that first session to proclaim that she’d thought it would be on Wednesday, and she had other plans for Tuesday. Ooookay. One other person just didn’t show, and only informed me two days later that she’d be unable to take the course. And eventually she was followed by Ms. Day-Confusing Person—unexpectedly high work load.

Well. Tuesday was the second meeting. Tuesday morning I received three emails (including one about 30 minutes before class time) moaning about (unexpectedly) heavy workloads that prevent them from continuing with the class. Moreover, I’ve still not heard from the two planned no-shows, but as they’ve now missed two of the six sessions, I’m declaring them forfeit, and their copybooks are well and truly blotted in my mind. (You want to try to come to a later iteration of this, cupcake? Yeah, right.)

Look—this course is more than a few bob out of my annual budget, and the purpose is to develop these people’s ability to essentially be more creative. This is a big benefit to them, even though of course we’re hoping that this also results in ideas that we can build out. This is something that many, many other companies’ employees would jump at; this crowd treats it like a back-up prom date they can ditch when a better prospect comes along.

(As long as I’m on the subject: the first cohort of this course wasn’t unalloyed joy, either. Out of our 20 original participants, a couple dropped out after two classes, three more at about week five, and five more refused to pitch an idea, which was the whole point of the exercise.)

So I’m thinking you can understand why my disgustedness cup raneth over on the Metro ride home on Tuesday. I don’t have either nacho materials or tequila at home, so I had to make do with the last inch of a pedestrian Pinot Noir in the fridge to accompany my supper.

My manager and I have our weekly catch-up meeting on Wednesday mornings. He is not attending this round of the course, so part of my reports is an update on how it’s going. I walked into his office yesterday at 0800. He finished the email he was composing, then turned to me and announced, “I hate people.” I never got the specifics on this, because sometimes it’s just best not to know.

Once he’d got that out of his system, he came over to the little conference table and asked, “How did it go yesterday?” giving me the perfect opening.

“I hate people.”

Well, he wasn’t best pleased with the seven slackers. I think he’s going to cool down a bit before emailing them. But I doubt that any of them will be invited to participate in any future classes. Which is fine by me—I’m really, really tired of whining.

But perhaps I should stock up on tortilla chips, cheese, jalapeños and tequila. I still have four more sessions to get through.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

So amazing

I’m working on restructuring my neuro-processes actively to minimize negativity, so I try to restrict my Kleptocrat intake. However, there have been a couple of highlights from his Big Adventure in the Mid-East and Israel (as he framed it when he arrived in Tel Aviv).

First—he was clearly in his element in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he was surrounded by real despots, given gold presents and able to bond with other male supremacists who do not permit any form of free speech. For once, he was allowed at the local cool kids’ table, and he was pathetically happy about it. (Albeit exhausted, we’re told. These actual multi-hour work days do tend to wear you out when you can’t break them up with lunches, Fox News and tweets.)

And the photo ops—man.

As you can imagine this image just sent Twitter into overdrive:

Even the Church of Satan weighed in, although I’m not sure about the truth of this.

Well, so much for the new Axis of Evil. At their next stop, there was more of interest. For many, this video was a highlight of the trip so far:

I have to say that from the practiced accuracy of her swat and his immediate “nothing happening here” response, this clearly is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. The world completely understands, Melania. But divorce him, honey; I’m tired of my taxes subsidizing your separate living accommodations.

In another empty photo op, the entourage stopped for about 15 minutes at Yad Vashem, the memorial to victims of the Holocaust. It’s customary for visiting dignitaries to pause in remembrance, and leave a few words in a note. Our last actual president wrote this:

Here’s the Kleptocrat’s:

Man—it only lacks “have fun this summer” to flesh out a full yearbook scribble.

RightI'm off to restructure my neural paths. Peace out. Or, as the White House Press Office might say, peach out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Great minds

It seems to me as though more and more web sites are demanding that you “sign up” for their spam emails before they’ll deliver content. This includes before you’ve seen enough of their content to want to even scroll down the landing page, much less clog your inbox with their crap.

I personally think it’s pretty nervy on their part. Often that’s enough to get me to click away from their site, but occasionally I’ll try to evade their little popup. My automatic go-to is to close the box, either by choosing “No, thanks, I prefer to struggle on without benefit of your super-duper goods or information” or by clicking the close X. Sometimes just clicking outside of the popup will make it go away, but increasingly these people are jigging it so the only way you can get around it is to “sign up” for their emails.

In the rare case that I decide I really want to see something, I’ll use a bogus email address, usually a rude word or anatomical irregularity with a generic domain. If they’ve set it up so that you have to confirm the address by replying to an email from them, then I’m stuffed. But if not, then I get what I want and get out.

Well, obviously I’m not the only person to have thought of this work-around. Yesterday I arrived at via a tweet. They demanded an address to send their emails to. I typed in and hit enter. And got this response:


Monday, May 22, 2017

Gratitude Monday: a room with a view

Because there’s something insidious in my back yard that starts attacking my respiratory system within five minutes of me stepping outside, I’ve had to limit my forays to about 30 minutes at a time, tops.

This means that I’m tackling the jungle canopy across my patio incrementally, and mostly limit my enjoyment of the greenery to looking through the patio doors.

However, I’m not exactly idle. I moved my small pots of herbs outside late last month, and last weekend I bought a couple of tomato plants, some larger pots and several bags o’ dirt, and I’ve been silently urging them on, because I definitely want homegrown tomatoes this summer.

Also, I splashed out about $125 on a free-standing pole with multiple hook-arms, a couple of squirrel-proof bird feeders and sacks of bird food. Because I love watching birds chowing down; squirrels not so much. If you want to discourage the little furry land sharks, you have to put your feeders somewhere they can’t reach, and since they can leap horizontally about eight feet, you need to place your feeders outside that distance. (Hence part of my reason for hacking away at the overgrowth.)

So far, the squirrel-proofness appears to be working. The little monster has been foraging around the patio in search of the seed I used to toss out onto the ground, but that stuff is long gone. I watched him try to jump on the pole, but he slid down, and he couldn’t reach the feeder. It was kind of amusing to witness him literally bounce against the patio door and gesticulate at me; he’s clearly pissed off that I’m no longer carpeting the back yard with food. But I care not.

In terms of feeding the birds—not sure what’s going on there. There’s one feeder of Fine Tunes and one of Nyjer seed. The other morning I saw a dove sitting on the Nyjer feeder, looking kind of surprised—not eating, just parked there. (They did love that stuff at my place in the Valley They Call Silicon, but they weren’t wild about that feeder because it’s really meant for smaller birds.) Hasn’t been back since.

And only yesterday have I seen a chickadee alight on the other feeder, but not for long. I’m hoping it’s a scout bird, and that others will twig to the fact that this is for them, and is not some perverse bird trap. Because I bought about 35 lbs of this stuff, and I would like to see some ROI.

Well, I’m betting that they’ll figure it out, even if they do seem a little slow on the uptake. And I’m grateful for having them around me once again.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nub of an idea

I’m part of a class in innovative thinking at work—basically, since my department is sponsoring it, I have to take it pour encourager les autres. This is the second iteration of the course, and I’m not going to go into how gobsmacked I am with how incredibly doltish my colleagues can be about mastering the utmost basics—like when and where the class is meeting.

At any rate, an ongoing assignment is to be always on the alert for ideas: ideas about anything, really. Remembering you need to pick up whipping cream; there must be a better way to keep track of time than ADP; maybe if you lay out your kid’s clothes at night, you can save five minutes in the morning and get out of the house in a timely manner. Whatever—the deal is, you should just be aware of things that are going on around you so that when the time comes to come up with an idea for a product or service that might actually make money, you’ve got the wherewithal in terms of knowing how to recognize when something annoys you enough that it might also annoy others, and they’d pay for a solution.

We have to come up with ten ideas a day, and keep track of them.

The last time I went through the class, I took squares of paper to people on this floor, giving everyone I found four of them and asking them to write a word—any word—on each slip of paper. I then collected them into a bowl, and when my trigger mechanism went off (back in December, it was whenever I heard Christmas music on the radio, but for others it was whenever they filled their water bottle, or checked social media), I’d reach into the bowl, pull out a word and try to come up with an idea around that word. Any crackbrained idea.

I dusted off the bowl o’ trigger words for this round, and yesterday upon hearing Mozart for the 42nd time that day, I pulled out “nubs”. (Perhaps I should preface this by noting that some of my colleagues may have been taking the piss. In addition to “inspire”, “fire hose” and “black”, yesterday I also found “kill”. Yesterday I was entirely ready to act on that suggestion.) Well—kind of interesting, no?

I was struggling to be inspired by my existing understanding of “nubs”, so I Googled it. Turns out that a “nub” is someone who totally sucks at playing a video game, even if he’s been playing it for a long time. No matter how long they keep at it, they’re still going to suck.

Ah, I thought—like the Kleptocrat trying to be president. I wished he was limited to playing the role in a gamer environment instead of the real life version. So my idea was a video game with him scuttling around the White House in a bathrobe, screaming at his Gauleiters, ordering pie with two scoops of ice cream, calling Putin to check in on how he’s doing, etc. Every 30 minutes, he’d have to go somewhere to play golf.

There’d be a lot of fundraising, of course, and money laundering. You’d have to decide when to raise the membership fees or rent at various Kleptocrat properties. Also, you’d have to decide which family members are part of the administration and which ones have to live 500 miles away and only be trotted out for ceremonial events. One of the best parts is that there's no requirement for internal logic: just like the Kleptocrat in our space-time continuum, reality shifts at irregular intervals.

Oh—and the tweeting. If you don’t interrupt whatever he’s doing at six-minute intervals, you lose the round and have to start over again running in the primaries. Plus whining; there'd have to be a constant stream of that, mixed in with grandiose self-puffery.

See—a lot of this ideation stuff is just releasing personal stress. But this one might actually have legs. I should write up my pitch and start looking for VCs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Semper Paratus (not)

We’re in commencement season, which means that Personages high and low will show up on university and college daises to mouth platitudes as one final trial for graduating students. If you’re lucky—and your institution has juice—you get Matt Damon or even Condoleeza Rice.

If you’re not, the Kleptocrat may show up.

As he has done twice this week. The crowd at the completely misnamed Liberty University, an offshoot of the RWNJ Jerry Falwell’s evangelical enterprise, kind of had it coming as penance for their individual and institutional support of someone who in every respect both professionally and personally is the antithesis of Jesus.

The poor cadets at the Coast Guard Academy, now—they did not deserve to embark on their careers in service to this country by having the whiner-in-chief whiz on their commencement. Because, after submitting a budget to Congress earlier this year that cuts the Coast Guard’s budget by $12B, somewhere in the vicinity of 12%, he had the unmitigated gall to not only congratulate himself on how swell a job he’s doing as president, but to go on and moan that “no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

And this, BTW, was part of his “advice” to the graduates. You know—the part where the person at the podium, who’s supposed to be imparting a few final nuggets of wisdom, gives his or her secret of success. The Kleptocrat’s secret is to moan.

Well, not secret, really. More like his defining quality. "You want advice, guys? Lemme tell you what a great job I'm doing. Best in history. And I don't understand why the cool kids don't want me to sit at their lunch table."

That “no politician in history” thing—Jesus wept. Just off the top of my head: Julius Caesar, Michael Collins, Cataline, Abraham Lincoln, Jean-Paul Marat, Yitzhak Rabin, Gustav von Kahr, Anwar Sadat, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas More, Gabby Giffords, Salvador Allende, Rosa Luxembourg, Nelson Mandela, Alexander Hamilton, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. To my knowledge not one of them hawked up the kind of self-pitying vomit as the Orange One. And anyway: I thought his whole point was that he's not a politician. At this point I believe it's his claim to being humanoid that is being called into question.

As for the cadets, it’s a mark of their professionalism and class that, when the Kleptocrat started his self-puffery and cringeworthy sniveling, the entire class did not stand up, turn their backs, drop trew and moon him. But I’m betting they couldn’t wait to hit the bars to start drinking away the memory of yesterday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


As you know, following the Kleptocrat’s axing of FBI Director James Comey last Wednesday, much hilarity ensued among the cut-rate Goebbelses in the White House as they came up with more stories to explain the action than a porn fan fict site.

One of the highlights was press secretary Sean Spicer cowering among bushes desperately trying to get newsies to turn off the lights and cameras that are a basic function of his job, because even he was uneasy at the optics of the hogwash he was about to spew in his orange master’s behalf.

Social media, as you might imagine, sprang into action. There were Spicey-in-the-bushes memes plastered all over Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. How could there not?

Well, a geography professor in British Columbia also was taken by this image. Lisa Kadonaga dropped a PDF of that unprepossessing face of the White House mouthpiece and began propping copies in shrubs and hedges around town. After she posted to Facebook, people took notice, so she posted the PDF to Dropbox, and the idea spread like pyroclastic flow.

This needs no further set up, so I’ll just give you some examples.

 I'm a little afraid of this prophecy:

And I’m kind of waiting to see what will emerge from the latest Oval Office Follies of the Kleptocrat showing off to his Russian buddies how good his intel is—the best. Bigly.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Piss up in a brewery

Okay, further to my recent posts about Human Resources, it’s almost as though they sensed a disturbance in the Force and decided to double down on their efforts.

The first two weeks in June are the Open Enrollment period for resetting all company benefits. (Last year, the director scheduled a three-day off-site “team building” meeting for the entire department during this time, which I know because I got an out-of-office email response announcing it, when I tried to get clarification on one of the benefits.) Open Enrollment is preceded by all-staff meetings where representatives of the various providers get up on their hind legs to try to convince us that higher premiums and lower coverage are definitely the way to go.

At any rate, HR has been sending out a blizzard of emails reminding us that these meetings are being held, with accompanying Go-to-Meeting details if you want to attend virtually. (I am not making this up: there were at least five system-generated emails reminding registrants that the all-important Open Enrollment webinar would start in three days, then one day, then one hour, then 30 minutes, then five minutes.)

Since I do not fancy being stuck in an auditorium for 90 minutes to glean 12 minutes of pertinent information (Kaiser, no) and watching HR swan about like beauty pageant contestants, I registered for the GTM webinar yesterday. At the appointed time I launched the web client and dialed in (this crowd has never mastered the art of running audio over the web, so you have to call as well as launch). And I waited. And waited. And waited. (Think Casablanca levels of waiting.) I got thrown off the audio twice because the webinar had not begun.

Finally, 21 minutes after this big event was to have started, this went out:

Every time I think they cannot possibly underperform worse than any given instance, I discover that I have underestimated them completely, and they are indeed capable of plumbing ever darker depths of amateur-hour incompetence.

Seriously: could not organise one.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gratitude Monday: It's in the air

We’ve been having kind of weird weather here around the District They Call Columbia. Last week I actually hauled out my down jacket and ate the last of the cottage pies I’d stored up in the freezer. I even turned the heat back on at home, because it was below 63 degrees.

But yesterday the sun was out, I hacked out some of the overhanging branches of some probably overgrown tree-like entity in my back yard, and I opened my patio door to let in the spring air and listen to the birds outside.

In the morning I read the Sunday paper at my dining table with a view through an azalea bush, and then went out to meet a friend for a catch-up. Walked away from that one with a gorgeous sparkly-puce pussy hat, a pound of "Sweet Love" coffee beans and many things to think of about the healthcare system.

I also enjoyed my first supper of poached chicken breast with tomato mayonnaise of the year, with a glass of Prosecco, while looking out onto the patio and watching the juvenile cardinals peeping at their parents amid the bird seed I toss out there; they haven’t quite grasped this concept of feeding themselves.

Thus, today I am grateful for the joys of Spring in an area that has a true change of seasons.

I am also, tbh, grateful for Flonase, because you can practically see the pollen in the air around you.