Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday morning

The S.O. has been in Texas for a few days -- he's dogsitting while the Younger Daughter is getting paid to play with fire at LBJ National Grasslands (which is, I think, somewhere northwest of Dallas) -- so I've been having trouble sleeping. His snoring usually does a nice job of blocking out outside noise, so when he's gone, I seem to hear every car door slamming in the parking lot. Right about the time I adjust, of course, he'll be back, and then it'll be the snoring that keeps me awake. 

As usual, I'm listening to C-SPAN. They're talking about potential Supreme Court nominees as well as looking back at Justice Stevens, both as a person and as a jurist. Interestingly enough, most of the names being bandied about as front-running candidates are women:  Elaine Kagan, Jennifer Granholm, Diane Wood. Given that there are two women on the court now, I'm not sure President Obama will lean towards nominating another.  But who knows? 

Surprisingly enough, maybe because a discussion of jurisprudence and potential justices is a fairly esoteric subject, the tinfoil hats and the haters are fairly thin on the ground this morning. One woman called to complain about C-SPAN's liberal bias and the numbers of fake Republicans they allow on the air -- apparently anyone who calls in on the Republican line but fails to regurgitate the talking points provided by Beck et al isn't an actual Republican, especially when that person says something sane -- but that's about it so far. Maybe things will get loonier when the topic changes later in the morning.

I haven't actually been paying much attention to politics lately. I did notice Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) announced he's not running again, which kind of depressed me. I used to live in his district; he was a decent Congressman on most issues. I totally disagreed with his stance on abortion, but I respected his consistency. The teabaggers are taking credit for his retirement, but the S.O. thinks he'd been planning it for awhile and that's why he was so willing to piss so many people off during the healthcare reform battles. He might be right. I think Stupak lost a lot of his passion for politics when his son died almost ten years ago, but was unwilling to step down as long as there was a Republican in the White House. But other than that, though, I've been more focused on my personal life and work than I have on national issues.

Because the S.O. is in Texas, I'm back to riding the bus to work. I've thought about being ambitious enough to walk (it is only a mile), but for now am busing it in the morning, and walking in the afternoon. Taking the bus provided yet another experience to remind me I'm now Older Than Dirt. When the bus got to my stop, the driver had the bus kneel so it would be a shorter step down! ZOMG. Being called ma'am by strangers and Miss Nancy by younger Southern co-workers was bad enough. . . but now a kneeling bus. Makes a person feel like it's time to start shroud shopping. Or maybe start walking both ways to avoid that sort of humiliation. I'll just try to remember that to anyone under the age of 30, everyone over the age of 30 might as well have one foot in the grave.

Life at Large Nameless Agency is rolling along in typical bureaucratic fashion. We acquired a new Director back in June 2009, and one of his first moves was to initiate a "reorganization" intended, we all assume, to remove the cooties left by his predecessor (a Bush appointee). At the time, the man said he intended to get it all done within 90 days. Ha. There has been a fair amount of shuffling, particularly in the upper management levels, but from the perspective of us peons, it's now been almost a year and nothing's changed. The work is the same, the people we report directly to are the same, . . . the only visible sign of anything different is the nested set of abbreviations that follow my name in emails changed. It used to show up as My Name(LNA/Center Abbreviation/Division Abbreviation/Branch Abbreviation) and now it's just MyName(LNA/Mystery Abbreviation/ Branch Abbreviation). No one's really sure what the Mystery Abbreviation stands for -- oh, we know what it spells out, we're just not sure what it does, will it actually be around very long, or is it just a space holder. 

I don't actually care much -- I've got less than a month to go before the countdown to eligibility for retirement turns into negative numbers and I slide fulltime into that lovely "I don't give a rat's patoot because I can walk anytime" territory -- but some of my colleagues waste a lot of time agonizing about it. I don't know why. The little box we're in on the org chart may change names, but our jobs won't. There are no reductions in force planned, and we're full-time federal employees in a humongous bureaucracy. Unless a FTE gets caught dancing naked while stoned on a desk in a public area, it's damn hard to get rid of us. And, even if you do get caught dancing drunk and naked, odds are you're more likely to be referred to counseling than to be escorted out the door. If an FTE is sufficiently incompetent (and I've seen a few people who have been, and were eventually terminated), it is possible to fire somebody, but there's enough paperwork involved that the usual solution is to just shuffle people into closets where they can't do much damage.  

I am still hoping that I can work out a telework arrangement that would allow me to leave Atlanta while continuing to collect fulltime wages because I've grown rather fond of my salary (especially compared to what the pension will be), but the waters in my branch have been poisoned by a couple people who abused the privilege. It figures. They managed to finagle telework arrangements and since then have been failing to produce quality work in a timely fashion and are causing various headaches for the branch chief.  It has, of course, made the chief extremely reluctant to approve any new arrangements, especially a telework arrangment that would mean the only contacts with me would be via telephone or internet.  I'm hoping it's an easier sell once I'm actually past the magic date where I can walk if I'm not happy.  I'm not the best copy editor at the journal, but I'm also far from the worst -- and, more important, I always meet deadlines, which can't be said for all my colleagues.  Besides, if and when the dust ever settles from the reorganization, it's quite possible the person who gets to make the decision won't be my current chief, but a new one with a different perspective. I can hope.

The remodeling project here in the townhouses is moving fast.  When I chatted with the contractor yesterday, he said they'd framed the floors for a couple units already, but the exteriors are looking the same as always.  Given that the bottom of the picture windows above the patio doors is well below the level of the second floor floor (almost a full foot), that strikes me as odd.  It also strikes me as odd that the management would not take the time to change out those windows that date from the 1960s and thus have all the energy efficiency of a sheet of typing paper. On the other hand, depending on how they're planning the work, it could be a lot easier to change the fenestration once there's a floor on the interior instead of having to rely on scaffolding both inside and out to deal with the window opening. We shall see. . .  The more important fact is that they're moving along fast enough that it's possible we'll be out of this townhouse and into the one next door before the end of May. The S.O. is already predicting that I'll walk into walls a lot because that unit is a mirror image of this one.  He's apparently looking forward to some good laughs as I walk into the coat closet instead of the kitchen and then bitch about not being able to find the refrigerator.   

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