Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Geezer: Time for Mark's Holiday posting, 2012

Hard to believe, but several of my dear friends have been asking, "well, where is it", referring to my annual holiday-time random spew, and brain droppings.

Well, here ya go!

With the elections dominating the news the last year, it is hard not to do politics here, but I will try to keep it to a minimum. 

First up, I "unretired".  Yes, my dear friends who said retirement is "all that", well, folks I have to differ with you.  While it does free one up to do "other" important stuff, I really miss the colleagiality of the workplace, and seeing tangible results on a daily basis, rather than a longer term, like my volunteer advocacy work provides.   I am a Coordinator in deployment and administration of SharePoint servers for Microsoft internal websites, like law, human resources, finance, executives, and a bunch of other non-demanding clients (smirk mode off).  Contract job, through the end of the fiscal year, at least.

One of the boyz at work says, hey, put SharePoint in your resume, and they will be beating a path to your door, so I guess that is a prestigious job.  The good news is that it will be part-time soon, to keep the income low enough so as not to have Uncle Sugar repossess about 70% of my earnings in excess of what Social Security allows, and that I get to do it mostly from home!  Woo-hoo, only one commute a week.  But I will miss the MS cafeteria, which puts out a fine full meal for only $6.95 at lunch.

Working around smart, young people, learning from them, and getting paid for it is a high-life, in my opinion.

Went up to see sis and Ken-o last month, in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  Thanks, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for giving me free passage on the ferry.   Conclusive proof that whining pays, since I excoriated them for having all the ferry user groups meet on the west side of the pond, requiring the Geezer to shell out real money to attend.  To shut me up, they sent me a ticket!  Natually, wanting to give them value for money, I solicited my sister's concerns about the ferrys and articulated those concerns at the meeting for her.   Got to meet ferry uberguru David Moseley, the guy you see on TV falling on his sword about crewing issues and cancelled runs.   It is high fun to yell at him on TV, harder to yell at him in person.  Nice man, tough job. 

While on the WSDOT kick, you know I am a frequent critic.  Must have gotten to them, as Mme. Secretary, Paula Hammond,  had her pic taken with me, while expressing her opinion of the Geez. (check above my head, bad background, sorry)

Why do I mention this?  Because of my take on public servants, but more on that later, back to Sis and Ken's place.

Now, I am not certain I would enjoy the isolation, but they sure seem to like living up there.  Not to say it is out in the boonies, but you CAN see Canada from their kitchen sink.  Five miles away, and there is a rock that sticks up two miles out that belongs to Canuckistan, too.  All the Vancouver ship traffic goes by their house, and so do the whales.  In fact, the SJ County park is just to the north, which is where the whale watchers gather.  About three acres, top of a hill, or more accurately a rock, not much dirt on there, beautiful house, garage-workshop with a full apartment above.  Ken walked me around the perimeter, and there were six bambi-the-deers, and a fox den, with a freshly gnawed bone visible in it.  Yes, and dandy place.  Now I know why they call her street "Deerhaven".  Yeah, really.  Living out there, you have to like yourself/your partner, as it is 15 minutes to town, drive in to get your mail, garbage only every other week, and the UPS you have to pick up in town.  They do fly jets into the airport, and FedEx bases one of their planes there.  Friday Harbor Freight is your friend, if you need a refer delivered!

The other interesting thing about this trip--the joys of being uh, mature.  I get on the ferry in Anacortes, 20 cars, maybe, go upstairs, and there are not one but TWO fellows I know on the ferry.  Amazing that this is such a small place.  One I had not seen since I lived in Shoreline six years ago.

Speaking of Shoreline, I was down visiting my safe deposit box, and noticed that the old trailer park I managed is now flattened, including the fourplex.  Bare ground, save for the trailer pads, and in-ground infrastructure.  Good thing El Gato adopted me, eh, or he would be homeless again.  Golly, I do miss that cat.  I was thinking the other day, given that he lost his canine teeth a good while ago, I bet he was even older than I susupected.  Yup, miss that cat.

So, doing pretty good on the lack of political rants so far, but I cannot resist.

In my volunteer work with other volunteers, presenting plans and paths that are good for kids and parents, I notice that the room is full often of folks who my fellow sheyt-distruber, Chris Hupy, calls "folks who are not our friends".  Now, that is not just about opposing viewpoints, but vitrol-filled haters, paid to attend--often with public money--folks who are not about addressing problems, but about advancing a political agenda.  Heck, I wouldn't even mind that, but they are not honest that that is indeed the case. 

Worked on one state senate sponsored workgroup where the subject was using evidence in some hearings that have the effect of separating children from their loving, good parents.   Now, when I took civics in high school, we learned you get to confront your accusers, present evidence, and all sorts of high minded and fair stuff like that.   But nooooooooooo......those who oppose us want to preserve the ex-parte (you are not at the hearing) hearings, with not only no evidence required, but not even allowed because it is "too hard" for their constituents to present.   How can you propose/defend that position in our great Republic?  Well they do, and they attend on government grant funded paid time.  Nothing like lobbying against the interests of the broad public, with my money.  Makes me crazy.  And of course, they love to throw out the "you are just a bunch of angry men".  Hell yes, we are angry.  It is a war on men (and children when it suits their purpose) waged by Wimmin's Industries, Inc.

Ok, enough.

Can I say something nice about public servants?


Just as there are "state slugs", (what is orange, and sleeps three---a state truck) there are lots of fine folks who are in the gub'mint's service.  They are forthcoming, will engage with the sheeples, don't spin, will honestly accept your input and ideas, and just occasionally, may implement them.

Now, with the elections completed, some of these high level folks will have to re-apply for their jobs, and of course the new crew will want their own peeps working, even though the folks there, and who have served admirably, don't have a personal agenda, and could switch just fine.

Here is a shout out to some of them:
  • Janelle Guthrie--Rob McKenna (outgoing AG)'s spingoddess, as she likes to call herself, actually Communications Director and Deputy Chief of Staff.  Besides being a Coug, is always forthcoming, understands our issues, and even seems to try to turn the ship, ever so slightly. 

  • Chris Johnson--Another AG guy, this time policy.  A lawyer, geez, I hate saying nice things about lawyers, who "gets it", understands it, and does a great job listening to all and suggesting reasonable paths.  Rejects "bullshit", and is honest enough to know when he is being triangulated.

  • David Stillman, Assistant Secretary for DSHS Economic Services, and supervises the child support guys too.   This one is a two-fer, as I not only have to say nice things about a lawyer, but about a DSHS guy too.  I am certain to go to he-double-hockey-sticks on this one.  Stillman knows how to run a bureaucracy, knows how to turn the ship, again, ever so slightly, how to be PC when he needs to be, but can speak frankly to the likes of me.  When his took this gig, I told him of my concern about being basically a political appointee, and now of course is at risk.

  • Jeremy Bertrand--web guy at WSDOT, on the list not because his favorite thing is to say "go pound sand, Geezer" when I share my perfect wisdom with him, but because he delivers up what the sheeple (read: me) wants, often.  Gave me access to the Alpha traffic page, let me see how much snow is actually at Sherman Pass, and let me view the VMS (variable message sign) so I can tell how long it will take me to get to Northgate/Seattle without leaving the house.  Good job, youngster.

Above is said Jeremy with the Geezer, when he went to Olytown to lobby.
  • On the county level, two guys, Jim Bloodgood, Snoco roads guy, and a court guy, whose colleagues I generally excoriate, Bob Terwillinger, Snoco Superior Courts Administrator.  You call-- they listen, and not only that, actually deliver, without giving you chapter and verse about how there is no money in the budget, blah, blah, blah.

  • Lastly, a non-government guy, but someone who does a really good job for his team, write in an entertaining style, and has a hinky sense of humor, like me.  Spinmeister for the Washington State Labor Council, David Groves.  I get his daily newsletter, and frequently respond, and he is always gracious, and understanding, and willing to spar with me. 
Ok, what else. 

Re-imaging an old laptop that Pat gave me for young Scott, so he doesn't play with his momma's machine.  Don't you think 5 year olds should have one, these days?

Watching the garden and flowers decide it t'aint winter yet, Artichokes went down in their pots to the man-cave, but insisted on growing, so moved them back out in their pots, and they are turning green.  The one not in a pot, well, I put a flowerpot over it, stuffed with shredded paper, but twice it knocked the pot off growing so much, so took it off.  These things don't understand it is winter.  Still have carrots, beets, green onions and broccoli growing in the garden to eat.  Ate the last raspberry on Thanksgiving, and the mums are still blooming, and putting up new shoots, which they usually don't do until the 4th of July.  That long spell with no rain made for a fine garden this year.  And we still have the 7th wettest year on record, 45 inches or something like that was the final total.

The future--well, I sure like where I live, big, convenient, the lady-couple next door are good neighbors.  Workin', furshure, though I have to figure out how to keep the income under what I can earn without giving back.  Volunteer work, sure, can do with working half days from home.

Gotta get up to Whistler this summer, didn't go last year.  Did make it out to High Rock with Jennifer and Sam, the rottweiler, pix below.  Love that hike, you can see where you are going from the parking lot. 
Here is why they call it High Rock

But here is the reason you go up there, Rainier, up close and personal.

Aforementioned doggie, on his first hike.

And the doggy momma, who didn't have to work much going up, since the dog pulled her most of the way.

Ok, that is it for this year.  Comments invited and encouraged, if you made it this far.

Best to all, and remember, make it a great day.

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