Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Stuff That Spills Out ep. 2

My brain and my inbox seem to be full, so stuff is starting to spill out again.  Part of the reason for that is there's quite a bit on my plate these days.  Which is the usual case for me of course.  I don't complain about it much anymore (except here!) as I realize that this is just my lot in life.  And it's all self induced- I've mostly  brought it on myself.  A few years back I accepted a position as an assistant within a charitable organization.  It's not difficult, just time consuming.  I despise people who say they'll do something, but don't, so once I took the job I had to give it my all.  That performance led to an almost inevitable leadership position a year or so later.  I didn't really want to, as I had already served in that capacity 10 years earlier, but I felt a little obligated.  For the last 4 months of my term back then, the Navy sent me off to Operation Iraqi Freedom so I wasn't able to see it through to the end.  We weren't expecting to go so early, but the deployment got moved up because of the war.  My unfinished commitment then, and the fact that it was a fellow Navy retiree who was asking me to be his assistant, pushed me over the edge to accept.  I may also have some sort of medical condition which makes me unable to say "no," but that's a story for another time.

Doing the job you were hired to do.  That's pretty damn important to me.  Nothing irks me more than when I go into a business in which service is their business, and I get lousy service.  For the government agencies, that isn't always the case.  Everybody jokes about the DMV and how they dread going there.   The Teenangster wanted to see the Disney animated movie Zootopia a few weeks back, wherein all the characters are animals.  In it, the DMV clerks are all sloths.  Perfect imagery for how we sometimes see the DMV.  That might be a bit of an unfair interpretation seeing how they are providing something that nearly every adult needs, and there are only so many clerks, so many hours in a day, etc.  They could hurry it up a bit though.

When the VA scandal broke a few years ago, I partially attributed it to another overworked and underfunded agency, providing services to needy vets, but facing challenging, if not impossible odds. Now however, it seems that it's not just a few bad apples, but a systemic problem that is circulating within the heart of the VA, if not imprinted in their DNA.  The latest issue, outside the covering up of wait times and backlog of patients, is that the VA has been shredding documents needed for veterans' claims.  I could give them the benefit of the doubt again, chalking it up to poor record keeping, but I now think they just don't care, and that's with an almost criminal sense of apathy.

"Good Enough for Government Work" used to mean the exact opposite of what we think now.  It once stood for quality; work that could pass the most rigorous of standards.  Now it only refers to poorly executed work, and almost as a joke.  The reason Socialism and Communism will never endure is because these systems, stripping the person of their individuality, eliminate the incentive to do better.  In the US, with our bloated government salaries, Congressional earmarks and an acquisition system that favors jobs over defense requirements and the public good, coupled with the reality that a government job is a job for life, we've created our own socialist society within the US.  The incentive to make it better is just not there anymore, and patriotism and a sense of duty seem to be limited.  Other than the Defense Department, I thought the VA would hold those ideals more than any other agency, but apparently not.

Yeah, the older I get, the more opinionated and curmudgeonly I seem to become. As I grow older, balder, wider, and more white (because I'm staying out of the sun due to bouts with skin cancer), I am more irritated at the way some on the left like to categorize the GOP as a bunch of angry old white men.  Besides being a gross overstatement and reducing me to a sound-bite vice an ideal, I would rather characterize those of a similar mind as the grown ups in the US.  We understand fiscal realities- everything has a cost.  We value and provide hard work, believing that unless you're physically or mentally incapable of giving it yourself, you shouldn't benefit from the hard work others put in.  We understand human nature- that people will always look out for their own self interest, politicians first and foremost.  And that if bad behavior isn't put in check, it will continue, here in the US and around the world.  So a strong defense is vital to freedom and our way of life.  We also understand parables and scripture and how they are good life lessons even if one isn't Christian. 

Remember when Obamacare was being debated?  Outside the left, it was almost universally slammed for being poorly written, rushed through committee, and almost doomed to fail.  I equate it to the parable of a house built on sand that will surely fall. 
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.                                                                                                                                           Matthew 7:26-27
The Affordable Care Act was supposedly put in place because healthcare was too expensive and insurance was unavailable to those with pre-existing conditions.  But that's because healthcare was and still is governed by an inefficient and horribly expensive insurance industry.  So the ACA was a system being built on an already crumbling foundation- sand, not rock.  I and many others like me, knew it was only (poorly) treating the symptoms, but not the illness. 

While I am slowly turning into an angry old man, I also seem to be less concerned with things that used to get to me.  Traffic doesn't bother me much, as I have learned to accept it as an inevitability.  I've become more courteous on the road, letting more aggressive drivers merge in front of me without question, even if they aren't using their blinker!  I realize that the idiots on the road aren't going away and all I need to do is watch out for them.  And besides, sitting in traffic gives me more time to listen to talk radio.

Some other stuff that has been rattling around in my noggin:  I'm irritated by the fact that other than my mortgage, my biggest bill is from my cellphone company?  It's even more than cable and I've got every station on the planet.  And that bill is bundled with my internet and phone!  Every year it seems to go up too. 

More signs that I'm getting old- I find simple pleasures in a power or water bill that is lower than the month prior.  I also take more pleasure than I probably should when I find a coupon for something I regularly buy.  Even more so when it's a BOGO (Buy one, get one free!)   I also kind of like it when the parking lot at work is full and I have to use the overflow lot.  You see, my wife got me a FitBit several months back and the further walk gives me more steps.  A business I'm visiting is on the 4th floor?  Yay, more floors! 

Other joys include finding a full or partially full coffee pot in the morning or afternoon.   If it's fresh, even better, but I have no problem drinking from yesterday's pot.  It's still better than the swill I drank on the boat.  My wife drinks more coffee than I do so if she doesn't happen to drain the pot I made earlier in the day, I'm almost overjoyed.

I am almost embarrassed by how much fun I get out of hearing a baby laugh.  Seen this?  How about this one?

I enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon, vegging in my recliner.  A month ago I was flipping channels and I came across a movie I really wanted to see but had missed in the theaters.  Usually I find those gems already in progress, but this time, it was just about to start.  Simple pleasures.

And of course, a good sunset can put me in a good mood for the rest of the evening. 

By the way, the pictures you've been enjoying have nothing to do with the post, other than it's stuff I've been collecting for a while and it's clogging up my "stuff for Sarge" folder.  They're all taken by a man named Jas Mander who grew up in the same area of Southern Oregon as me, which is where all of these were taken.  He's quite generous with his pictures as his Facebook page is public.  We have many mutual friends, although we've never met.  He's quite the gifted photographer and finds the beauty of the region that sometimes gets overlooked when one considers the terrible economy (no jobs), drug culture (meth and pot), and the high crime rate (see previous two items). 

I will now leave you with a joke. According to the source, this is from is an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry mid-term, and an actual answer turned in by a student.

The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet, which is, of course, why you all here at The Chant have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Anabella during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct..... ....leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Anabella kept shouting 'Oh my God.'

The student received an A+.

Jerks in traffic?  They barely pass with a C minus.  The VA and Congress get an F minus.  And if Hell does exist, there's a special place there for some of them.


  1. I really noticed the photographs in this post Sarge. I found myself stopping at them just to enjoy the view they shared. Very nice indeed.

    Agree that we most assuredly do change as time progresses. Being as healthy at the end of the day as when it started is a positive, and not one to be taken for granted.

    The student deserved the A+. He shows perseverance!

  2. Wow, that was epic. You covered a lot of ground Tuna, I think we're in concurrence in most things. (Surprise!)

    Your stuff is always worth waiting for!

    (Almost forgot, those photos are breathtaking, Jas has an awesome talent!)

    1. Agree, those photographs almost make me want to go out and buy a "real" camera again. Alas, circumstances require that the monies be spent on more prosaic items.

  3. Well worth the wait, Tuna, awesome!

    1. Thanks. Can't see myself finding time to be a regular contributor, but every 2 or 3 weeks I will put something together I suppose.

    2. Hhmm, "I suppose"?

      Reminds me of the Man's Prayer from The Red Green Show, to wit:

      I'm a man,
      But I can change,
      If I have to,
      I guess.

      (Seriously, whenever you get the urge, we'll be here...)

  4. Before the health care bill, my SS more than covered my health insurance, now it is several hundreds short of paying my insurance. Some things only government can handle, however in NJ they privatized the DMV and it is not only very efficient, and painless to visit, but the workers are polite. Friendly and genuinely nice.

    1. I'm not sure what the government can do better than Private Industry.

    2. I was thinking of the Military for one, but you would know better than like times 100.

    3. Ok, other than breaking stuff and killing people! We're awesome at that.

  5. Thanks Tuna, this was the most feel-good post I've read this morning. Your post flowed seamlessly with the photos requiring a "stopping to smell the roses" moment for each photo.

    1. Thanks Ron that's exactly what I was going for. Something nice to look at to counterbalance the negativity that I was writing about.

  6. Replies
    1. Actually Tuna wrote this one, but I'll accept the kudos on his behalf. (Minus a 10% charge for "shipping and handling.")

  7. Thanks Tuna. SWMBO and I are still chuckling over the kiddos laughing and reminiscing about our (soon to be) 39 year old son's laughing as a toddler. A great way to start the day.

    1. Thanks. I think I like baby laughing videos more than I like cat videos.

  8. Posts such as this make Tuna acceptable any day of the week.
    I'm not even sure we could have too much Tuna.
    What is most scary about this post is how close our thoughts parallel.

    1. Thanks. I must caveat my point about the GOP. I'm conservative but I can't say that the GOP is anymore. At least not above self-interest.

    2. Doesn't that seem to be what most pols are about?

  9. I am certainly in the minority but the local VA hospital I have gone to has been fantastic. When the HMO I had belonged to raised my premium $150/month, just for turning 60, the VA saved the day.

    Nationwide I believe a problem they face is heavy unionization and good job or bad nobody can be fired.

    1. I'm sure my assessment of overworked VA employees is still valid, and the few times I've been up to the VA site in La Jolla, I've only encountered true patriots wanting to do a good job. At some point however, that's lost by some folks.

  10. Great pics! Thanks for posting, Tuna! Makes one realize just what wonderful things to see are within our own national boundaries. Just looking at them makes one understand why our ancestors thought we were an exceptional nation gifted by God with nature's bounty. And also those pics serve to remind one of what really insignificant creatures are men in the grander scheme of things..


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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