Monthly Archives: July 2012

Run! Hide! Fight!

Some tasks only seem Herculean at first glance.  Then they become impossible.  Take the one I got this morning.

“You gotta help me with this, Elyse,” said Robert, our Human Resources Manager.  “I spent the better part of a year editing and improving this, and still nobody will read it.”

“It’s our Employee Manual, Robert.  Of course nobody will read it.”

“But they need to read it,” he said.  “Otherwise the staff  won’t know when they’re breaking rules.”

I stared back at him blankly.  “I’ll see what I can do,” I said, thumbing through the four-inch binder for the first time myself.

“Give it some pizzazz, make is shoot off the page.  You know, Jazz it up!”

“Robert,” I said, holding up the tome, “this is the written equivalent of Muzak.  Elevator music.  It cannot be jazzed up!”

He looked so pitiful that I added, “I’ll see what I can do.”  Guilt gets me every time.

Robert left my office, and I plopped the Manual down on my desk and ignored it.  It was an impossible task.  So I clicked on the internets to gear myself up for drudge work.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear?  Someone else was working on their office manual and making recommendations!  Seriously!  I couldn’t believe my luck.  I knew that all I had to do was add this information to the front of the Manual and it would certainly capture everybody’s attention.  Yes, I can follow the lead of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security!  That’s how I can jazz up our company manual.  I’ll include information on “Surviving an Active Shooter Event!” 


That
will certainly catch that unsuspecting new employee’s interest!

Whoo-hoo!  “I am so underpaid,” I thought.

Don’t you think this is a wise prep for life in today’s workplace?  Shouldn’t we all be trained to “Run.  Hide.  Fight”?  I don’t know about you, but “Duck and Cover” served me really well way back when.  And nothing at all happened to me then.  So clearly these Public Service Announcements work.

That’s all you need, isn’t it?  Isn’t it?

Or did I get that moral wrong?  I’m trying to remember what happened.  Let’s see.  Duck and Cover.  Duck and Cover.  Oh yeah.  That came out after the Soviet Union developed its first nuke!  When they could hit us with one too!  Me, I got my exposure to it during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962 when the threat of nuclear war was real.  Funny thing, though. Duck and Cover was actually way less effective than President Kennedy’s blockade.

And what has happened since?

Hmmm.  Let me think.  We and the Soviet Union (now Russia, in case you missed something) have been behaving ourselves, more or less.  Nuke-wise, anyway.  Because a nuclear war?  That’s unthinkable.  We all know that.

You know what else is unthinkable?  Random gun violence every day in America.  It is unthinkable that we have to worry every day that some crazy person is going to come into our offices, our schools and our movie theaters and start shooting.  And that others will defend their “freedom” to do so.

Just like governments have learned how to co-exist with nuclear weapons, we need to figure out how to get along with guns (because they, sadly, ain’t goin’ away) but without gun violence.  To me that means we need fewer guns, especially fewer of the sort that can shoot and kill lots of folks without much effort. But I am willing to compromise.

Because these other precautions?  They are closing the barn door after the horse has run out; and I for one am tired of beating that dead horse.

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Damn Straight

I just read that the Washington, DC, metropolitan area is tops!  As in Numero Uno.  Better than second and third place winners, Denver and Chicago.  We are the Champions!

 

In what category?  Swearing at work.

Shit, yeah!

Who says Washington can’t do anything right?

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Primal Scream

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  PTSD.

I have it.  Yup, it’s true.  And these days I can hear Lost In Space’s Robot saying “Warning!  Danger!”  And he’s talking to me.

What is it that sends me back, brings on the flashbacks, makes me scream “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”?  The Olympics.

I blame Mitt Romney.  I blame the Olympic Committee.  I blame the Raisin.

Yes.  The Raisin.  That is the name John and I gave Jacob’s teacher for 6th class (which is Swiss/British for 5th grade.  Go figure.)  It was a slight bastardization of her real name.  We gave it to her because we hated her and also because she was the cause of the “Trauma” in my PTSD.  And in our family, it was contagious.  All three of us had it.

It started on Back to School Night in September, 2001, when she told us her plan for the entire school year.  John and I exchanged skeptical glances when she told us that they would focus on the Olympics. She was a big sports fan and what do you know, that very winter, the Winter Olympics would be held!

It wasn’t my cuppa, but I figured that a few exercises around the Olympics might be interesting for the kids.  And after all, world HQ for the Olympics was just down the road in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Lausanne, Switzerland, Lake Geneva (Google Image)

But instead of a few things, though, everything the class did involved the Olympics.  Everything.  For the entire year.

Google Image

Learning about the human body?  Let’s learn that the leg bone is connected to the hip bone by looking at skiers’ physiques.

Learning about numbers?  Calculate and compare the speed of each winning downhill skier and divide it by some ratio or other.

Learning geography?  Make a diorama of the flags of the gold medal countries from the previous Olympics and your hopes for this one.

As the parent of a reluctant student, I had to try to convince my son, who had no real interest in things Olympian, to do one more assignment/task/project on The F’ing Olympics.  He hated it.  I hated it.  John hated it.  None of us thought it was interesting; none of the other kids in the class or their parents did either.  It made homework painful.  Boring.  Something to be avoided at all costs.  It made learning misery.

And after beating that dead horse for the entire school year 2001-2002, just realizing that the Olympics are coming makes me break out in a cold sweat.  I hope for a weeks-long power failure.  I stick my fingers in my ears and hum loudly whenever a commercial comes out about TV coverage.  I cry a lot.

There was more.  Much more, but I have, happily suppressed those memories.  The idea of trying to retrieve them makes me believe that there may be something to Primal Scream Therapy.

So if you’re posting on the Olympics over the next couple of weeks, that scream you’ll be hearing is mine.

Nooooooooooooooooooooo! (Google Image)

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You’re Nuts!

We’ve all seen them.  They seem to be on every commercial vehicle these days.

Google Image

But have you ever called one of those numbers?  Have you ever reported somebody?  I didn’t think so.

Recently, my son was stuck in traffic behind Truck No. 47.  So he called the number on the back of the truck.

“Hello, this is Nancy,” said the voice at the other end of the phone. “How can I help you.”  (She didn’t sound very happy to be getting this call, Jacob later said.)

“Hi,” Jacob said.  “I want to report Truck No. 47.”

“Yes sir,” said Nancy.  “What seems to be the problem?”

“Oh, I just wanted to let you know that the driver of Truck No. 47, well,  he’s doing a really great job.

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Yeah.  The driver of Truck No. 47 is a terrific driver.”

“Would you please hold for a moment sir?  I need to find a form to record this on.”

Meanwhile, traffic started moving again.

“You need to hold on, please.  Traffic is moving, and I have to pull over,” Jacob allegedly said to Nancy.  (I know, I don’t believe him, either.)

“Now, how long were you observing Truck No. 47, sir?”

“Oh, I’ve been following him for a while, all through Northern Virginia.  He’s amazing.  He stays on his side of the road, obeys the speed limits, always uses his turn signal.  Really, this guy is a model driver.”

“Ummm, thank you for calling to let us know, sir.”

“You’re welcome.  It’s just nice to see such a great driver on the road these days.”  Jacob hung up, smiling.

I am pretty sure that this qualifies as a random act of kindness.  It was definitely random.

Cool Kid, 1994

Today is Jacob’s 21st Birthday.  Happy Birthday, Jacob!

By telling this story, I just wanted to let you know, today, how very proud I am of this crazy man cub John and I raised.  Because you see, Jacob is one of the funniest, nuttiest people I have ever known.

It’s true.  Hey, Jacob?  You’re nuts! ;)   I couldn’t have found a sillier birthday song for you:

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Unexpected?

Tuesday evening, just before 7, a huge tree fell half a mile from where I once lived.  A man, who seconds before had been simply sitting in traffic, died when the tree crashed down on him as he sat in his car.  It was a tragedy that could happen to any one at any time.  Unexpected.

Photo Fairfax Police courtesy of The Washington Post

What happened next?  Well, the tree’s twin across the way was cut down.  Arborists are looking at nearby old, big trees, checking their health, determining if these trees, too, are dangerous.  If so, they will be cut.

Of course that’s what they’re doing.

They are protecting human life.  It’s the logical next step following such a tragedy.  Of course, there will be traffic snarls and hassles as the old diseased trees are culled.  It will be a huge pain for commuters.  But, you know, that’s OK.  I and just about everybody accepts a bit of inconvenience if it means that someone else won’t die.  (Which doesn’t mean we won’t all grumble, natch.)

It’s the same with other stuff, too.

In the 60s and 70s, it became clear that fatalities in automobile accidents could be prevented by using seat belts.  They became mandatory after a series of Swedish studies demonstrated that fatalities were dramatically reduced when car occupants involved in an accident had buckled up.  Seat belts protect folks.  Last year in this post  I provided some statistics on the benefits of seat belts:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics state that 15,147 Americans survived accidents in 2007 that would have been fatal without seat belts.  That’s a lot of people saved by a law that doesn’t really inconvenience us all that much.

We do a lot of things to keep ourselves and our families safe.  Of course we do.  And when the danger comes from the unknown?  Well, that’s when we ratchet up our actions to protect ourselves.  It’s common sense.

Remember the Tylenol Murders?  Twenty years ago, Tylenol, laced with cyanide, killed seven people in the Chicago area.  The murders were never solved.  But they did change our lives.  Every time I struggle to open a package of virtually anything purchased in the United States, I think of that bastard, those murders.  I hope he/she has a horrible case of rheumatoid arthritis in his/her hands and therefore has even more trouble opening those damn packages than the rest of us.  I also hope they catch him/her.

It’s common sense to react protectively, isn’t it.  It’s what we do as a species.  It’s part of our evolutionary trajectory.  It is the manifestation of the problem solver in all of us.  Stay alive.  Protect.  Survive.

Well, that’s usually true.

Unless, of course, there is a random lunatic with a gun.  Then, well, logic and common sense are suspended as we all enter the Twilight Zone.

 

Yes, when a guy (and they do all seem to be guys) who gets a bunch of guns (as in lethal weapons) and kills people, randomly, or by specifically targeting individuals, well then we double down on the 2nd Amendment.  WE PROTECT HIS RIGHT TO DO IT!  We let it happen again.  And then, when it happens again, we are shocked, shocked.

Yup, when we should be shouting “STOP THIS MADNESS!” we instead cow-tow to the National Rifle Association and to the cowboys who are oh-so-sure that if they had only been there with their gun, well, then the outcome would be way different.  If only ….

Bullshit.  It is a fantasy.

Remember when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot?  Nineteen people were shot that day at a local grocery story when a crazy person opened fire.

Did you know that seconds/minutes after the shooting, a man carrying his own gun came out of the store and saw somebody holding a gun on a man?  Yeah, it’s true.  Here’s a smidge of the story:

[Joe] Zamudio was in a nearby drug store when the shooting began, and he was armed. He ran to the scene and helped subdue the killer. Television interviewers are celebrating his courage, and pro-gun blogs are touting his equipment. “Bystander Says Carrying Gun Prompted Him to Help,” says the headline in the Wall Street Journal.

But before we embrace Zamudio’s brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let’s hear the whole story. “I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!’”

But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.

Yeah.  A big, fat mess.  Mr. Zamudi would have added to the carnage, not helped.  BECAUSE HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.

When a tragedy like today’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado, happens, there is only one person who knows pretty much what’s happening – the shooter.  Yeah, the bad guy.  Everybody else is reacting.

And no matter how cool, how brave, how well meaning a would be hero is in a situation, the sane gun owner is unlikely to shoot first.  And if he/she doesn’t, the bad guy will.  And unlike in the movies, in real life, you can’t just get back up.

It is really time that we all just accept the passing of the Cowboy Era.  We have accepted other similar passings:  The Middle Ages, The Age of Kings, The Age of Exploration.  The Teen Years.  Besides, the last gunfight at the OK Corral happened already.  You missed it.  Get over it.  Move on.

How many more massacres are we going to allow before we stop folks from buying assault weapons, multiple guns that can kill multiple people?  How many more deaths will it take?

We changed how every item we use every single day is packaged.  Because of SEVEN deaths from tainted TylenolWe took action to prevent the eighth and the eighth didn’t happen.

What’s the death toll from these random acts of violence with guns?  At last count, it was, ummm, more than twelve.  And that’s just for today.

What will it take for us to come to our senses?

Mr. Saturday night special
Got a barrel that’s blue and cold
Ain’t no good for nothin’
But put a man six feet in a hole

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