Monday, March 27, 2017

Gratitude Monday: SAD!

We in the US had a bit of a NutriNinja® time of it last week. But it was the Repugnants in the House of Representatives, and the Kleptocrat, who were whirling around with the frozen bananas and kale.

And they were shocked, utterly shocked, to discover that their intent—expressed for the last seven years—to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something that came as close to no coverage as dammit—was not looked upon with favor by their constituents. Not even by those who ticked the boxes on the ballots that got them elected.

And, in fact, the Repugs up to and including the inhabitant of 1600 looked pretty much like The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, emphasis on gang, because all the flapping by Paul Ryan (R-19th Century), and all the bullying that the Kleptocrat did—none of that could get enough Representatives of their own party to agree to vote on it to even bring it to a vote on the House floor.

Following the bigly failure, Kleptocrat started spinning on Friday afternoon—calling a reporter for The Washington Post, and then one for the New York Times (two publications he has characterized as “failing” and purveyors of “fake news”, SAD!), to explain that they were close, very close (they were 30 votes short on the Repug side), but no Democrat (“zero!”) would vote for it, so “they own this.”

(How the reporters managed not to bust out laughing at this, I do not know, because the Democrats never got a chance to vote at all, as the bill never made it to the full House.)

And the thing that accomplished this miracle was the unrelenting barrage of phone calls, faxes, letters, emails and visits to Congressmorons from voting constituents who expressed their outrage (in words of one syllable, and possibly with visual aids) at what they were proposing for a replacement for ACA. (And there were also members of the so-called Freedom Caucus who didn’t think this vicious and cruel proposal went far enough by way of cutting off Americans from healthcare or cutting taxes for the wealthy.) They also discovered that making jokes about how old white men don’t need mammograms so they shouldn’t have to pay for plans that cover them did not go down well, and they were unaccountably quiet when people countered their removal of women’s reproductive care as an essential health benefit with questions about how coverage for erectile dysfunction treatment should likewise be eliminated.

Well, we should be in for a world-class episode of finger pointing shortly, and we still have to find a way to get to the bottom of the matryoshka-levels of Russia-45 administration relationships, both to the Kleptocrat directly, and through his family and Gauleiters. Which means we have to find a way to get that cretin Devin Nunes off the House Intelligence Committee. And that’s going to be a lot of work.

However—we have shown that it is possible to hobble these monsters, to stop them in their tracks and to make them rethink how they go about trying to return us all to the Nineteenth Century. They are beginning to understand that they can run, but not far enough.

And I am grateful for that.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dead as a...

Okay, today it’s not found on the road dead. It’s found at Metro Center, dead. And I just thought it was interesting because I’ve never before seen a dissection of an escalator.

But here you go.

Proving once again that I have a low bar when it comes to amusement.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lost at sea

Twitter is like a box o’ choc’lates; you never know what you’re gonna find. This came across my feed yesterday, and even though it’s on the Internet and therefore de facto true, I did a bit of digging.

Also on the Internet, but still…

So, it turns out that, yes indeed, there was a ship’s cat named Red Lead serving on HMAS Perth at the start of WWII. This was not an unusual circumstance, as—aside from providing purrs and other morale emoluments—cats were often a very practical addition to a ship’s complement, because they kept the vermin down.

But evidently after his first foray into a battle on the light cruiser, off Java in February 1942, Red Lead rethought the seafaring life and tried several times to abandon ship when Perth pulled into port for resupply. He was put back aboard, as it was considered bad luck to lose your ship’s cat, but he definitely wasn’t happy about it.

The ship’s log noted, “Red Lead, ship’s kitten, endeavoured to desert, but was brought back on board, despite vigorous protests.”

Sadly, both the crew and Red Lead were right, because shortly after Perth put back out to sea in the company of USS Houston, the Allied ships engaged with the Japanese fleet off the coast of Java, and Perth was sunk. More than half the ship’s company went down with her, including poor little Red Lead.

Well, I don’t know if there are ship’s cats any more, in anyone’s navy. But I do like that the Aussies have added tributes to Red Lead on every ship that has borne the name HMAS Perth. Viz.:

So thanks for an interesting bonbon, Twitter. I’ll just have a poke around and see if you got any Bordeaux in that box.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Found on the road

‘Kay—y’all know how I like to wonder about the stories behind what artists refer to as objets-trouvés, right?

Well, here’s a for-example, in the parking lot of the Park-and-Ride:

I mean—what do you suppose? Because even if they fell off the roof of a car when the driver drove away, you have to wonder how they got up there. Or maybe the driver (or a passenger; coulda been a passenger) pulled them off to change into something a tad more fetching, and forgot about them. Or maybe they were left there on purpose because…well—lotta places to go with that one.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pods redux

Oh, dear—we still got trouble on the ninth floor. Only last week I reported on the passive-aggressive explosion around the Keurig coffee machine in the kitchen.

Well, there’s more.

Late in the week, apparently the miscreant responsible for the 11x17 full-color display on the wall re-offended, because there was a used pod left pointedly beside the machine, which also had a used pod in it.

But it got worse:

Here’s what I saw when I went into the kitchen yesterday morning:

And I did not see signs of anyone attempting to use the manual methodology all day. 

Seriously—there is no joy anywhere near Mudville.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Gratitude Monday: Minor saints

Yesterday was Saint Joseph’s Day, which—if you are not Italian, Korean or trying to buy or sell a house—you may not have been aware of. Poor guy is always losing out: in the Nativity, it’s all the Madonna and the kid; in cursing it’s always Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph; in March it’s always Saint Patrick.

Well, it’s a tough job, but Joe was not the type to complain.

I’ve always liked Joe for precisely that reason. If you want flash, you go to your Bernadettes, or Patricks or Nicholases. If you want the job done, you go to Joseph.

Also, I like Saint Joseph because the 19th of March is the day the swallows return to Capistrano (más o menos). It’s a big deal where I come from.

And last week, in the run-up to Saint Joseph’s Day, I had occasion to just wallow in birds returning to my life

First there was the snow day on Tuesday, when a fairly steady stream of all sorts showed up to eat the seed I tossed out. But then on Thursday, as I was engaged in a 30-minute conversation with Philip at Comcast technical support, I looked out the patio door and—even though there was not a fresh supply of Fine Tunes—there were more robins than I’ve ever seen at one time in my entire life.

Seriously—more than 15. Just all hopping around the patio, jostling and milling about, like I’d hung out some kind of flashing robin-diner sign. It was absolutely amazing. Philip thought I’d lost my mind, but I did not care. Because robins.

So today I’m grateful for Saint Joseph—I’ll be needing his patronage of various home improvement projects—and for the joy that birds showing up around his day brings me.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From crashing winds and lashing sea

Ah, right. Saint Patrick’s Day, and I’m feeling no need at all for alcohol, but a whole lotta need for rebellion. So let’s have a couple of rebel songs to rally the masses against the latest round of repressive government.

Pretty appropriate, actually, given how many generations of Irish immigrants have nourished the ideals of freedom in this country and at home—but who likely would not have made the cut in the current administration’s idea of acceptable additions to the nation, being largely poor, non-Protestant and bad hombres.

So I’ll start you out with “The West’s Awake”—lamenting Ireland’s history of internal warfare that left it open to the predations of its Anglo-Saxon neighbor. For much of it, as England lops off section after section of Ireland, Connaught (the last holdout of Irish language and culture, the province that was not profitable enough for English colonization), in the west, lies asleep. And the song looks forward to the day when the West awakens, breaks its chains and reclaims the entire country.

Here the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem sing it:

Ireland is often depicted symbolically as a woman—Cathleen Ní Houlihan, Dark Rosaleen, Sean-Bhean Bhocht (Poor Old Woman) are a few of the personas. This may to a certain extent have been a masking function: no, ya Sassenach gobeen, we’re not talkin’ smack about your poxy queen, we’re just singin’ a little thing or two about our sweetheart…

It also helped that they were frequently singing in Gaelic.

“Óró sé do bheatha abhaile” uses that construct—speaking of the afflicted woman in chains, whose fine land is in the hands of thieves. I particularly like the reference to Gráinne Mhaol—known to the English as Grace O’Malley, who as commander of both land and sea forces  scared the bejesus out of them during the last half of the 16th Century—coming over the sea with armed warriors as her guard.

Gráinne was from Connaught.

This version by Sinéad O’Connor is somewhat atypical, but I believe it’s appropriate in this time of the pussyhat to have a bolshie chick singing this particular song.

Because my people did not leave Donegal in coffin ships 170 years ago to have their descendants return to the yoke of any unjust government. Especially one with a feckin' Orangeman at its head.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Attack of the pod people

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear—there is trouble in the ninth-floor kitchen. Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with C, and that stands for coffee.

(Or maybe that’s a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for pod…)

I’ve written before about the sad state of employee amenities when it comes to beverage support here. I don’t believe I mentioned that, in addition to the coffee-club crap, there was a small Keurig machine, the kind that you have to add your water to the reservoir for each cup, so it had some years on it. Apparently some comradely colleague brought it in and shared with all, because it certainly wasn’t supplied by HR. If you brought your own pod(s) in, you could use it to make your coffee.

(Evidently at some point one user transgressed by walking away post-brew and leaving his/her pod in the machine, because that pod pointedly remained in there for a couple of days—people removed it, made their cup and replaced it. But I don’t think the transgressor got the point. They often don’t when you’re subtle.)

Well, a couple of weeks ago there was a very sad yellow stickie on it proclaiming that it wasn’t working, and after a day or two, it disappeared altogether.

However, joy returned to Mudville last week when a bright new machine appeared—one that has a multi-cup reservoir, and buttons!

Well, it did not take long for the transgressor to revert to his/her reprobate ways. Because yesterday this appeared on the kitchen wall:

It’s printed on 11x17 paper, which you have to dredge around to even find in this building.

So I’m going to be interested to see if this works. Because I pinged HR about the prospects for company-supplied coffee and tea, and that’s a negatory. I think they blew their amenity budget on putting a couple of sofas, three TV monitors and a foosball table in the lunchroom.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow day

The DC area got its first real snowfall of this winter yesterday. I did not realize this was coming, or I’d have looked for a snow shovel on Saturday when I was at Home Depot getting spare keys (plural) cut. Instead I was one of those clueless morons at Home Depot on Monday afternoon looking in vain—by that time, nothing left but an empty carton that had once held them.

So I was reduced to praying that we’d get only a dusting, so I wouldn’t disgrace myself in front of my new neighbors by being the only resident with unshoveled walkways.

No such luck.

It wasn’t of snowmageddon proportions, but we got a couple of inches. 

The only thing I had to try to deal with the snow on my car and the sidewalk was a push broom. I did my best, but it was pathetic (although my car is cleared off). So I was reduced still further to hoping for temperatures to rise to the point that it would melt.

Not quite, but let’s pray for tomorrow, eh?

At any rate, I tossed a couple of handfuls of Fine Tunes out on the snow and then I almost got no work done at all, because the birds were so happy. Cardinals, a really bossy robin, chickadees, juncos, jays—it was big screen kitty TV out my patio door. See:

The squirrel did not show up until late afternoon, so the birds got a pretty good buffet before it started vacuuming everything up.

I had to come into the office today just to get real work done. Maybe I should print out an apology to my neighbors for not clearing my walkways, and stick it up on my door.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Manna from...

Okay, not all of last week’s whackjobness was entirely negative.

Wednesday I was going to go to Walgreen’s to pick up a prescription, but I couldn’t because at least two blocks of 12th Street were taped off on account of a “suspicious package” at Metro Center. This is of course negative, and the first time I’ve encountered it in this country, so it was kind of interesting.

But I did not make it to Walgreen's, so I went down on Thursday, and it was a nice day, so I walked on the sunny side of the street. That side has a liquor store, so I stopped in to see if they carried Writer’s Tears Irish whiskey. It’s a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, so I wasn’t expecting much. And indeed, their entire inventory of Irish appears to be about three shelves of Jameson and Bushmill’s.

The guy behind the counter looked it up, showing me the result (with pricing in Euros) and didn’t offer to order it for me.

I thanked him and was getting ready to walk out when he put a bottle of chardonnay in a bag and said, “Here, free.”

Well, that certainly does not happen every day, so I thanked him and trotted off to Walgreen’s, trying not to look like I’m the sort of person who washes down prescription meds with wine-in-a-bag.

Really—just a very odd week.