Having cut my teeth with a cat who was essentially a small dog, I obviously missed some of the fine points of raising felines. After losing Hershel to a urinary blockage, my slightly obsessed tendency towards doing extracurricular reading and knowing things let me down a number of intellectual rabbit holes. One of those research projects led me to discover that most domestic cats tend not to drink enough and hover constantly near a state of dehydration. It explains at least some of what makes male cats so damned prone to urinary tract issues.
Knowing something, having the information, is only worthwhile when it leads to improved decision making, I’d always kept Hershel on high quality dry food. While that most likely wasn’t the outright cause of his demise, it could easily be a contributing factor – and something I’d done unwittingly because at the time I lacked better information.
Now, with a bit of upgraded knowledge, Anya and Cordelia have their own filtered water fountain as well as access to the other strategically placed water bowls around the house. I’ve also opted to augment their kibble with twice daily wet food. They seem to enjoy it and the extra moisture is supposedly to their advantage. Aside from what feels like an absurd price for big boxes filled with three ounce cans, I’m reasonably satisfied it’s better for them overall than the way I use to do things. I will, however, refrain from naming specific brands here because the internet is an utter shitshow of people who want to dive in and criticize every choice and brand if it’s not precisely how and what they do themselves. That’s mess enough on Reddit that I won’t invite the same kind of engagement here.
In any case, the gang is eating and appears to be performing all other bodily functions normally so if nothing else, this change in process meets the baseline standard of doing no harm. I may never know if going over and beyond very basic feeding and watering makes a difference. If it does, that’s terrific and I’ve bought Anya and Cordy a marginally improved quality of life. If it doesn’t, I’m only out some money… and I’d have probably just pissed that away on magic beans or something anyway.
1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 32 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. Now, I’m told, the alleged negotiation has gone so far sideways that it’s been sent to binding arbitration. Resolution to that could literally take years. So, we’re going to be grinding along for the foreseeable future with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. I’m sure someone could make the case that there’s enough blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 32 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing to deliver for their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) and for continuing to stand in the way like some bloody great, utterly misguided roadblock. No one’s interest is served by their continued intransigence. The elected “leaders” of AFGE Local 1904 should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.
2. Amazon. For reasons I’ll probably gin up in a separate post to discuss in more detail, I’m opting to keep Anya and Cordelia on at least some wet food every day. In order to make doing this a little easier (i.e., so I don’t have to do dishes twice a day), I ordered some shallow stainless steel dishes from Amazon. They were a little pricey, in my opinion, for what they were, but I liked them so well, I ordered two more this past Monday. Wednesday afternoon, Amazon sent me this message, “Due to a lack of availability, we will not be able to obtain the following item from your order. We’ve canceled the item and apologize for the inconvenience.” Annoying, but it happens. I immediately logged in to Amazon to look for similar alternatives. There I found the exact product from the same seller at the same price in stock and ready for delivery tomorrow. Both orders, at the time of purchase, were showing in stock at one of Amazon’s “local” warehouse facilities. I’ll never know exactly why Amazon couldn’t fulfill Monday’s order even if it happened to be a day late, but can somehow manage to ship out Wednesday’s order in 1/3 of the estimated delivery time. As a one time half-assed logistician, it definitely leaves me with questions about what the hell they’re doing over there at the local warehouse, though.
3. Politicians. After a four plus month absence from the Senate, the corpse of Diane Feinstein was wheeled back into the Capitol to retake her seat and get “back to work” for the people of California. I just about it being the senator’s corpse… but only barely. At 89 years of age, the stalwart Senator from California is just the latest in a long line of American politicians who hang on grimly to power when age and physical or mental infirmity have pushed nearly all of their contemporaries into retirement if not into the grave. I’ve never been an advocate of term limits or age restrictions for our elected leaders. As a republic, we get precisely the kind of representatives we vote for in each election. Why on earth so many voters are willing to return politicians in their 80s and 90s to office – to legislate issues of online privacy, artificial intelligence, and what the world will look like during the back half of the 21st century – has got to involve some kind insane troll logic. Literally all of our wounds are self-inflicted at this point.
Personally, I’m in a good place… and that place is the time of year when I’m about to start burning off sizable chunks of vacation time to scour the mid-Atlantic region for all manner of used and vintage books. It’s a time of long summer twilights, evenings reading on the patio, and undisturbed stretches of free time. The run of days from the first week of June through the first week of July are, for me, the year’s apogee. Barring unforeseen events, there’s generally not anything better.
Professionally, by contract, it’s determined to be a season beset by stupid – both people and things. It’ll be catching up on mandatory training, and preliminary planning for parties and events that by right ought not to belong on my plate, and for whatever as yet unknown fuckery finds its way into my inbox. I won’t say it’s the worst of times, because that title belongs to another era entirely. Those days were bleak… These, in comparison, are mostly just obnoxious.
Still, it feels like an odd dichotomy. Although if one of the two must be a clusterfuck, I greatly prefer that particular dark cloud settle over the “work stuff.” I’ve spent a lot of time and effort rigging up a pretty reliable firewall between work stuff and home stuff. Whatever asshattery is taking place at work very rarely bleeds through to home. The barrier is somewhat less robust in the other direction.
By the time that first week of June arrives, it’ll have been six months since I took any significant time off. Right about now I’m feeling all those intervening days. I’m deeply, viscerally, looking forward to not needing to present the illusion of giving a single fuck about training rates, parties and events, or reviewing people’s requests to use the dumb auditorium. A few days wandering deep in the stacks is precisely what Dr. Jeff ordered as a restorative cure for the madness that seeps in from the “professional” side of the firewall.
Thanks to Facebook, I know that it has been four years since I brought Jorah home from what was then called the Delaware SPCA. We weren’t off to a particularly auspicious start when he threw up about 75 pounds of partially digested dog food approximately five minutes from the house. Little did I know then, of course, that I was setting out for months on end of living almost exclusively in the kitchen because this six-month-old had absolutely no indoor manners or housebreaking to speak of.
Still, he was a sweet young dog – well intentioned if a bit absent minded. That hasn’t changed much. He’s still very sweet and decidedly absent minded. I’m not sure that he was entirely well served by having spent most of his life observing plague procedures (even before staying home and avoiding people was the cool thing to do). He’ll tolerate them once they’re inside the house and deemed not a threat, but he’s not especially well socialized with people or other dogs.
Our boy does, however, have a soft spot for cats. Hershel was his best friend and he’s still trying to devise a way to show Anya and Cordelia that he’s not 70 pounds of slobbering mess hell bent on running them down. They’re slowly figuring it out. Occasionally, Anya will even give him a few head butts when she thinks no one is looking. I’m optimistic those relationships will flourish in time.
In most other ways, Jorah is a complete reflection on my philosophy of dog raising… He barks at every unexpected noise and anything moving down the street. I tell him to stop. He barks some more. Truthfully, the only strictly enforced rules are 1) The bathroom, for canine members of the household, is always outside and 2) The living room furniture is out of bounds. Beyond that, he’s welcome to the run of the place. He loves napping on my bed through the day, but has never made an effort to sleep there at night. I can only assume my sheet-twisting and flailing around disturb his peaceful sleep.
I thought for a long time that I would always be a two dog household. Maybe I am, but I’m in no rush to find that second one just now. After a spring spent focused on our misadventures in feline veterinary medicine, I’m happy enough enjoying things exactly as they are at the moment.
For reasons that defy any kind of human logic I’m familiar with, I’m nominally “represented” by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1904. Being a government employee, I’m legally prohibited from striking. Likewise, AFGE can’t negotiate my salary or benefits package. Given those facts, I have no idea what services they’re supposed to be providing that I couldn’t otherwise arrange through a decent labor lawyer if the need ever arose.
As of the most recent update last week, Local 1904 has failed to come to terms with management on the new and improved telework policy for our organization. They had 30 months of COVID and now more than six months after returning to “business as usual” to get the ship in order. Every other organization we deal with has somehow managed to get their new policies in place to the benefit of their workforce, but 1904 remains a holdout. In fact, they’re so dysfunctional in this negotiation that the whole thing has been thrown into binding arbitration to resolve. Arbitration of this type can take weeks, months, or years to reach its conclusion.
If I were in any way involved with this union, I’d be mortified at our inability to arrive at what my brother and sister organizations have found to be a dead simple easy arrangement. As it is, I’ll forever see 1904 as the toad in the road trying to stand in the way of progress and the rigorous application of common sense. Utter cockwombles, the lot of them.
I periodically see the news or social media filled with stories about needing stronger unions or organizations wanting to bring in a union to represent them. Friends, be careful what you ask for. Since 2000, I’ve been in jobs that were nominally covered by several different unions. They all like to hype the idea of being “Union Strong,” but it’s been my experience that they’re far more often Union Wrong.
I’ll walk down the hill and throw hundred dollar bills directly in the river before I ever pay them a nickel’s worth of dues. I’ll never know for sure whose interests they’re representing, but I can tell you it’s sure as hell not mine.
It’s Coronation Weekend. As an American citizen, there’s very little logic attached to the affinity I feel for the Crown. I mostly blame a childhood love of history that effortlessly channeled itself into stories of the thin red line of heroes carving an empire out of the far reaches of the world. That led seamlessly into a more general love of royal, military, and political history mostly ranging from the Restoration through the Napoleonic Wars, with a healthy bit of dabbling in the Victorian Age.
In any case, I expect it will be all coronation all the time for the next few days… as this American ponders a past that could have been, but for some determined malcontents from Boston and a Virginia landowner who didn’t so much manage to win, but keep his embattled forces from losing through the long war of revolution.
I am entirely delighted to be a spectator, even if only from my sofa, at this first coronation of my lifetime. I’ll invite you to join me in wishing good health and long life to Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 31 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. Now, I’m told, the alleged negotiation has gone so far sideways that it’s been sent to binding arbitration. Resolution to that could literally take years. So, we’re going to be grinding along for the foreseeable future with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. I’m sure someone could make the case that there’s enough blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 31 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing to deliver for their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) and for continuing to stand in the way like some bloody great, utterly misguided roadblock. No one’s interest is served by their continued intransigence. The elected “leaders” of AFGE Local 1904 should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.
2. The willfully ignorant. There’s a subset of people on Twitter who seem to have adopted Tucker Carlson as their entire personality. I suspect, but am not interested enough to try proving, that they’re likely the same as the ones who love Rothschild / CIA / Bohemian Grove global conspiracies. They’re definitely the ones begging people to “do your own research.” I’m honestly curious if these people would be capable of finding legitimate, scholarly, peer reviewed research reports. I’m almost positive they’re not out there setting up controlled, double-blind experiments or creating well-crafted research programs of their own. In fact, I doubt their ability to outline the scientific method at the high school level. There’s stupid and then there’s willful stupid. The latter, which seems to represent the loudest people on the internet, is largely unforgivable.
3. The local IT office recently changed whatever group policy governs our computers putting themselves to sleep. That’s a fact I only noticed when out of nowhere my laptop started issuing four or five loud beeps and then going blank while I was in the middle of reading anything particularly detailed, or when I ducked out to make a cup of coffee, or whenever I was actively in the middle of doing anything that wasn’t furiously typing or scrolling wildly through documents. I’m sure there’s a very good reason for why they’ve restricted our ability to tell our own computers when to drop into sleep mode, but for the end user it’s just an added aggravation. My employer, it seems, never passes up an opportunity to add one more tiny stumbling block in the workflow or make work just a little more unpleasant.
So, Uncle is set to crash into the debt ceiling as soon as June 1st.
Major media outlets report that as effectively the first time in our nation’s long and storied history that we default on our lawfully begotten debt. That’s the 100,000 foot view, but what does it really mean aside from the United States sinking even further into laughing stock status among the nations of the world.
Well, here’s a quick breakdown on some of the ill-starred consequences:
The federal government must immediately begin living entirely within the bounds of its “cash” revenue stream (i.e., Uncle Sam can only spend what he raises in taxes and other fees). It means spending will be prioritized… somehow. Whether that means meeting its payments to creditors, making payroll for the Armed Forces, or sending out Social Security payments remains to be seen. However it’s divided up, the operating budget will be cut to the bone and some essential services simply will stop. I’m as big a fan as anyone of getting the government down to a responsible level of spending, but this is a catastrophically bad way to try making those cuts. Doing things with no time for thought or the application of academic rigor is an inherently stupid way to run a country.
The cost of borrowing will increase across the board – that’s bad for Americans looking to finance a new home or a car and it’s even worse when the government gets through a default and starts borrowing again. On the other side of crashing through the debt ceiling is a world where loaning money to the U.S. Government is inherently riskier since it’s shown its willingness to default. The increased rates creditors will demand will be correspondingly high and will ripple out to impact all borrowers. .
Market unpredictability. The U.S. Government has never defaulted on its bills. Whether that causes a blip or a catastrophic meltdown of the international financial system that’s been in place since the end of World War II is completely unknown. I’m not in any way sure why we’d even consider collectively rolling the dice on that.
Abject political fuckery. So far, both Republicans and Democrats agree that defaulting would be bad for the country… and both parties are digging in and showing themselves willing to let it happen if their political calculus shows it’ll hurt the “other side” more than it hurts them. Rarely has putting party before country been more blatant… but this is the 2020s and it seems to be the cool thing to do now.
The real bottom line is this: The “debt ceiling” is an entirely self-inflicted constraint. It’s not a force of nature. With a current debt of $31 Trillion, it’s probably time we do away with the fiction that either party is the one concerned with responsible spending. If we can’t manage to get past that tribal, binary method of framing issues, well, we probably deserve whatever painful, but entirely avoidable consequences are preparing to jump up and bite us collectively in the ass.
Given the astronomical federal debt and the exorbitant amount of money our beloved Uncle continues to spend every year, you’d be forgiven for thinking that our offices must be filled with premium furniture. If you were to actually walk around the average federal office, though, you’d be disabused of that notion fairly quickly.
Our cube farms are filled with the kind of low-bidder junk I’d be embarrassed to have seen in my home. I suppose there’s really no way to make a sea of cubicles look stylish or comfortable, but it’s obvious that it’s not even really a consideration. I’m currently sitting in a budget type office chair that was bought about 12 years ago when these buildings were first raised from the swampy shores of the Chesapeake.
I didn’t realize how bad our in-office seating options were until the plague set in. One of my first orders of business when work from home became the rule rather than the exception was to set myself up with a really nice chair. Sure, I got mine at a questionably deep discount from an entirely dubious source deep in the post-apocalyptic looking docklands of Wilmington, Delaware… but that’s beside the point here. The simple truth is having a properly designed, if expensive, place to sit made a world of difference in what otherwise devolved into regular pain from my upper back to my tailbone.
Since echelons higher than reality decided it’s important that we spend lots of time back on the cube farm six months ago, I was feeling every day of it thanks to my low-bidder, decade-old office chair. However, thanks to a thoughtful note from my doctor and my willingness to be a pain in the ass by requesting a workplace accommodation in hopes of making my back feel a little less like shattered glass, I’ve got a spanking new twin to the chair I’ve been enjoying at home. Well… “have” is a word that gets us into trouble. I’m assured it’s somewhere in the building and was going to be delivered before I closed up shop for the day. Close of business came and went without me catching site of my new seat. It’s the kind of Johnny on the spot services I’ve come to rely on from the United States Government.
I could have saved our Uncle about $1000 if they’d have just let me pull $300 in petty cash and head over to my shady source of supply in Wilmington, but hey, that seems to be frowned upon by resource managers… so, full retail it is. My fancy new Steelcraft Leap isn’t going to make days in cubicle hell any better, but it will help prevent them from inadvertently being any worse, so that’s something.
First though, I’ve got to get the thing from receiving and then inevitably spend more time than seems necessary figuring out how to put it together. Then I can take the thing for a proper test drive and enjoy that new chair smell.
A certain segment of the media is busily peddling fear and angst about the banking sector. One headline asks, “Fed says don’t worry about banks, but why should anyone believe them?”
Well, mostly because the Fed is doing precisely what it’s supposed to do when a bank finds itself teetering on the edge of collapse. Most recently, with First Republic Bank being seized by regulators and mostly sold off to JPMorgan. Depositors – the mom and pop Mr. and Mrs. Mainstreet that reporters are so fond of citing – were protected up to their federally insured limit and FRB’s investors were left with their dicks in their hands. This morning, FRB’s branches opened as scheduled and depositors had full access to their funds. That the system is working as advertised is precisely why the vast majority of depositors shouldn’t be worried about their chosen bank.
I’m not entirely sure what else we should reasonably expect the Federal Reserve and the whole laundry list of financial regulators to do under the circumstances. Protecting depositors while allowing the market to punish corporate officers and investors feels like the right approach. That’s the “risk” part of the risk and reward dynamic of the market at work.
By all means, improve the financial stress tests imposed on banks and change the rules to discourage managerial incompetence in the executive suite. Beyond that. I’m not sure what financial reporters are up to beyond trying to gin up panic and worry where none appears to be justified.