Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, September 23, 2013

See, There's Yer Problem

I've only been to Denver twice.  The first time I was a kid.  Well, an older kid, pushing 18  and checking out colleges, but still, a kid.  My dad and I checked out CU Boulder, and it was quite the little adventure.  We went to a restaurant that served shrimp cocktail like some Mexican places serve chips and salsa (naturally I'd remember the food, yeah, I know).  And there was a pillow fight on the airplane.  Remember when there were pillows on airplanes?  Oh, and we checked out the college,  too.  And I ended up not going there, which was fine.  If I'd gone there I'd have graduated with a huge amount of debt, like everybody else, and one of the few things I did right, financially speaking, was to get out of college scot-free.  (I wonder what the Scots think about that expression.)

Anyway, in Boulder, you're right in the Rockies.  I mean you're right on the side  of them.  But to get to Boulder, you have to go to Denver.  And I remember landing in Denver and looking out the window at the Rockies, which are some distance away and covered with haze, and thinking they looked like something out of the Lord of   the Rings and wondering when Frodo would show up, holding a ring and looking seriously tired.  Then there's my more recent trip to Denver, which took place, uh, today.  And I landed at the airport (different airport) and looked out the window (same old round window) and I could hardly see the Rockies.  I mean, forget being covered with mist.  They were just like not even there.  And I realized it wasn't  "mist I saw the first time, but smog (Smaug?), and if Frodo was going to show up with a ring, it was going to say "Standard Oil Co." on the inside instead of "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Put This On."  (That's what it said, right? Only in Elvish?)

Which brings us to the subject of peak oil, global warming, hydrocarbons in the atmosphere and, oh, the end of life on Earth.

See, hydrocarbons in the air, besides being ugly and bad for us, are also bad for lots of other living things.  They trap heat, which makes the overall temperature of the planet go up. It's already gone up about .6 of a degree Celsius since the mid-1800s when we started burning oil.  This is important, because most scientists think that we can only afford to let the planet get 2.0 degrees Celsius warmer than it was then without risking major weather changes, coastal flooding, desertification of farmland (which is exactly what it sounds like) and plenty of other things that wouldn't be any too pleasant.  And all of which would damage crop futures, cause the commodities market to crash, drag the stock market down with it and create financial chaos and mayhem on a global scale.

So, again, we're already up .6 of a degree. Also, all the hydrocarbons we've put into the atmosphere to date, even if we stopped today, will raise it another .6 of a degree. So we have .4 of a degree left, and that means we have to stop burning oil, coal, natural gas and every other fossil fuel you can think of by...2028.

Yep. About 15 years. And here's yer problem with THAT.  Oil companies don't have value because of the oil that's in the tanker ships, on its way here, or the oil that's in the pipeline and is on its way to the port of Riyadh. (Does Riyadh have a port? Somebody get me a map.)  No, that stuff's already paid for. Oil companies have value because of the oil they'll be pulling out of the ground next  year, and the year after that.  It's called "mineral rights."  Mineral rights go with the land they're attached to, and they're sometimes much more valuable than the land itself.  Tell oil companies that they can't pull any more oil out of the ground after 2028 and not only do they  go after you with every lawyer they can find, they lose value so fast that they race the stock market to the bottom.  And there's financial chaos and mayhem on a global scale.

But: If we let the oil companies pull the rest of that oil out of the ground, and burn it all, we'll raise the temperature of the planet about 10-12 degrees Celsius.  And that would be an extinction level event--for us, anyway.

I've more or less got the whole global-warming denial thing figured out.  It's really pretty simple.  For one thing, it looks like an unsolvable problem. So if you don't believe that temperatures are rising all over Earth, or if you believe that they're rising but it's not the fault of humans, just a natural process, then you don't need to change anything.  We can go blithely on, doing exactly what we're doing, and everybody can continue to make money and there won't be any financial chaos or mayhem. Er, until  the desertification and the global flooding and so on.  Which will happen after we're  gone, so that's okay, and anyway, technology will solve all of our problems.

Uh huh.

But: We have until 2028. Wind power, solar, nuclear and so on aren't practical right now because oil is still so cheap, but if we took that 15 years and developed  those technologies, we could bring all of them online when we need them.  Individually none of them will be enough, but together they might be.

Course, we might need to lower our standards a little. Have one car instead of three. Commute by train instead of driving. Change our cities so that we live close to our jobs, so we can walk to the supermarket.  In short, live more like they do in Europe and Japan. We could throw in socialized medicine, too, while we're at it.

We have time.  We just need to do it.  So we don't have to look back at our kids and grandkids when we're 75 and answer the Big Question, "Why did you do this to us?" with something like, "To make a quick buck."  Because, honestly, that's a lousy reason to destroy a nice habitable planet.  They're kinda rare, ya know.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Out of the Closet. (And Into the Freak Box.)

Well, this was bound to happen sooner or later.  It's hard to keep a secret from people you work with every day.  Besides, four can only keep a secret if three of them are dead. And I made it through three and a half years, which is considerable.  But the cat's out of the bag, the classified file is open on the desk, the skeleton  just came bumbling out of the closet. And so did I.  It's been a long strange trip, but I'm Out At Work now.

No, I didn't tell them I'm gay.   They know that. I told them I'm bipolar.   THAT they had no idea.

I might add I did this Against Medical Advice.  Well, against some medical advice.  Not every bipolar person/mental health professional subscribes to the same magazine, but the General Agreement among my gang of friends is that One Does Not Tell One's Place of Employ anything they don't absolutely need to know.  And honestly, I wasn't planning to tell anybody anything, until either my symptoms became obvious or I needed a Reasonable Accommodation of some sort or other. [Reasonable Accommodation.  Remember that phrase, kids.  Your workplace doesn't  have to do everything it can to make your life easier if you're disabled, but they do have to be Reasonable.]

See, last year at Christmas I got a glowing employee review.  Seriously.  Glowing.  I think it was mentioned that I needed to work on my prioritizing and try not to get sidetracked quite as much as I was, but other than that, Employee of the frick'n Year.  Practically.  And I got a nice raise and a bonus.  Well, I just got another employee review and it wasn't nearly as glowing.  Not nearly. My boss said he was basically having to micromanage me, that I seemed to have no idea how to prioritize my work, that I'd lost track of all my cases and lots of other stuff you don't want to have written about you when your job is to be conscientious, accurate, thorough and, well, manage lots of stuff. Not so much people but stuff.  Information.  Items.  It's hard to do that when you're not prioritizing, being micromanaged and you've lost track of all your cases.  Tends not to be good for your clients, either, and since the clients are the only reason  you exist, well...

Now, I could go through this review point by point and argue with a lot of it, but there's really no reason to.  And I can't complain that it was a news flash because it wasn't. For the most part it's true, and for the most part, it all stems from the same source.  That part of my brain that's just a little bit more interesting than most.  Practically every single darn thing on all three meticulously typewritten pages is a symptom.

Which leads me to wonder, why now, and why didn't I see this coming?

Well, I'm not sure about the why now, but I did see it coming.  Have seen it coming for a couple of months, in point of fact.  Look, I've been ridiculously lucky. And I had this idea that as long  as I took my meds when I was supposed to and did everything my doc (s) told me to do, I'd be Perfectly Normal.  Alas, I am not and never will be normal. I wasn't even normal when I was normal.  And, yeah, things happened that could have alerted me that all was not well.  But I guess I didn't know they were this bad.  Or were getting this bad.  But fundamentally, it doesn't matter why this happened. What matters is how to fix it.

(That's always my first instinct.  Fix it. I heard an appropriately September 11-themed story about a mom who, on that day in 2001, was watching TV and crying, like many of us were.  Her four-year-old daughter came in and asked her what was wrong.  Not wanting to lie to this child, but not really able to convey what had happened to a child that young, she said, "A lot of people have died.  It's a very sad day."  The four-year-old said, "I'm a big girl, Mommy. I'll fix it."  Yeah. That sounds like me.)

 Anyway. I saw Doc#2 yesterday. He can certainly help Fix It.  Changing behaviors is kind of his specialty.  I see Doc #1 tomorrow, to see if something medicational needs to happen.  And in the meantime, I experiment with alternate strategies. I make lists.  I ask a bunch of what seem to be stupid questions.  I  try very hard to get more sleep. And I try not to let down the side at home, because according to Joan, the symptoms of whatever-this-is are showing up there, too.  What she said was, "It's like you're more and more willing to just let things slide."  And in the name of clean cat boxes, that can't be good.

The hope, here, is that things will improve enough by December that I can get back into the Good Employee box, even if I also have to reside in the Freak Box.  And that the news of my Delicate Condition doesn't spread beyond the manager and my immediate boss.  I know, I know.  Four can keep a secret if three are dead.  Hopefully I won't deck the first well-meaning fool who asks me, "It's not like you're Napoleon, is it?"

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Postmodern Traveler's Almond Gelato Diet

You guys, I'm sorry I'm not doing a better job with this blogging thing. My Thursday nights keep getting absconded with (with which get absconded?) and it's darn hard to get away from my desk some days. Still, I do show up, which is something, and I have fond hopes of getting back on a regular Thursday night posting schedule. I just have to figure out which  day is Thursday. Not the easiest thing in the world in a short week when you're also jet-lagged.

(Yes, I know the time difference between here and Utah is all of one hour. It doesn't matter.  I'm jet-lagged, I tell you. I didn't get to sleep on the flight home because of the screaming child behind me and I'm an hour and a half behind now. I'm not sure how I will ever catch up, though sleeping all day Saturday sounds like a good start.)

So, yes, I spent the long weekend in Utah with my folks and my sister. Which was actually pretty cool.  Like we used to do when we were kids, everyone was on their best behavior and we all played nice together.  Only one thing went catastrophically wrong: The baseball game.  I forgot I hurt my back recently and that stuffing myself into one of those little plastic chairs for 3 1/2 hours was probably not the world's greatest idea.  I'm very sore now, despite my  massage therapist meeting me at my house practically the second I got home from the airport. (No, you can't have him, but his Web site is here.)

So I get back to the office and everything promptly explodes. Well, not literally, but ever since I started taking  one of those wonder drugs that work wonders, my short term memory has been Having Issues. I've tried to build in all these fail-safes to remind me about this and that, but for some reason they took this week to all crash and  burn at the same time.  So I've been yelled at a couple of times (and one of them, at least, was not my fault, either) and I got into a tiff with the assistant manager that actually led to my complaining to the manager.  (Yes, you read that right.  I complained about something. And yes, that was the earth you heard cracking asunder.)  So I have not had the world's greatest week.

To top it off, the other fat person in the office announced that she was Going On A Diet. I managed not to say, "What? You want a medal?" or something equally sarcastic, but really, do I need to know this? Does anybody, besides the person and his/her doctor? Why do people announce this stuff?  To me, it's only a little less obnoxious than announcing, "I've just been diagnosed with syphilis and boy am I hungry." What you eat, or don't eat, really isn't anyone else's business.

Yep, I am not big on Dieting as a National Sport.  I realize women use this sort of chatter to bond (James Bond) with each other, but I won't do it.  Can't do it, in point of fact. I keep thinking how it's all some sinister plot, to keep us distracted with calorie counts and food plans while they busily take away our rights to safe abortions and birth control.  Besides, if we all lost weight and disappeared, there would be no more women and then they could take away all our rights with no outcry whatsoever.  Don't tell me Governor Goodhair hasn't at least thought about it.

By the way, I posit that Governor Goodhair is a psychopath. The only symptom he doesn't have is the criminal record, and all that means is that he hasn't been caught.

Anyway.  I know things will improve. I'll get everything caught up at work and get all the fail-safes back in place (just in time to be gone two days for my cousin's wedding).  I'll get the blogging back to a regular schedule for my legion of screaming fans (both of you).  And I'll snarf down a cup of almond-flavored gelato at Afrah when nobody's lookin' and give the dieting industry a sloppy El Birdo.

Oh hey, here's a little cup of almond flavored gelato.  Bloody marvelous.