The Mysteries of Bureaucracy

So I stop into the school’s transportation office to let them know that again this year my kids will be getting on the bus at my house, but off at their mom’s. I explained to the lady why I was there, and she promptly handed me two thick forms and told me I needed to complete a form for each kid, and take them to the office next door. She reminded me that these are 5-copy forms, so I needed to press hard with the pen.

I stared at the forms for a second while my mind tried to reconcile a world that includes so many databases and photocopy machines with one that still manufactures quintuplicate carbon forms. But no matter.

I then asked if it was possible to just write that this was exactly the same as last year and sign the form at the bottom. But I was told that no, I would need to fill out the whole form as all 5 copies were needed. I wondered briefly if last year’s 5 copies had been ground up for use as meatloaf filler for the cafeteria, but the bottom line was that my most expedient path was to just start writing. And I did.

Upon completing the forms and shaking off the nascent writer’s cramp, I proceeded to the next office where I found a helpful lady behind a desk. I said, “Hi”, and handed her the forms. She scanned them quickly and then began leafing through a large computer print-out that was on her desk. She located my two boys, glanced back and forth to the forms a couple of times and asked, “This is the same as last year?”

“Uh huh”

And I see her take her pen and write “same” next to each kid’s name. She thanks me, and as I’m going out the door I see her take the 5-part forms and slip them into the recycle bucket.

The next time someone asks why the quality of public education has gone to hell, I’m going to blame it on the fact that their graduates work there.

Deadly Immunity

If you have children or grandchildren born since 1989, you really need to read this article. The issue of thimerisol laced vaccines is slowly getting more press, and the story is more than a little frightening. And the truly scary part is the government cover-up combined with industry’s quest for dollars at the expense of human lives. Arguably, this is much the same story as with tobacco, but no one is forcing infants to smoke.

Things That make your go "Hmmm"… or "ARRGHHH"

So a couple of years ago my uncle added me to his email list. Mostly it’s ribald jokes and pictures of topless women, but hell, my Mom’s on the list so it must be okay. And on occasion he forwards right-wing propaganda. For his sake, I’ll assume he’s just mindlessly forwarding the stuff and this is not an advocacy position.

Either way, today this arrived.

From Mary Jo Kopechne

I would have been 65 years of age this year. Read about me and my killer below.

When Sen. Ted Kennedy was merely just another Democrat bloating on Capitol Hill on behalf of liberal causes, it was perhaps excusable to ignore his deplorable past.

But now that he’s become a leading Republican attack dog, positioning himself as Washington’s leading arbiter of truth and integrity, the days for such indulgence are now over.

It’s time for the GOP to stand up and remind America why this chief spokesman had to abandon his own presidential bid in 1980 – time to say the words Mary Jo Kopechne out loud.

As is often the case, Republicans have deluded themselves into thinking that most Americans already know the story of how this “Conscience of the Democratic Party” left Miss Kopechne behind to die in the waters underneath the Edgartown Bridge in July 1969, after a night of drinking and partying with the young blonde campaign worker. But most Americans under 40 have never heard that story, or details of how Kennedy swam to safety, then tried to get his cousin Joe Garghan to say he was behind the wheel.

Those young voters don’t know how Miss Kopechne, trapped inside Kennedy’s Oldsmobile, gasped for air until she finally died, while the Democrats’ leading Iraq war critic rushed back to his compound to formulate the best alibi he could think of.

Neither does Generation X know how Kennedy was thrown out of Harvard on his ear 15 years earlier — for paying a fellow student to take his Spanish final. Or why the US Army denied him a commission because he cheated on tests.

As they listen to the Democrats’ “Liberal Lion” accuse President Bush of
“telling lie after lie after lie” to get America to go to war in Iraq, young
voters don’t know about that notorious 1991 Easter weekend in Palm Beach, when Uncle Teddy rounded up his nephews for a night on the town, an evening that ended with one of them credibly accused of rape.

It’s time for Republicans to state unabashedly that they will no longer “go
along with the gag” when it comes to Uncle Ted’s rants about deception and moral turpitude inside the Bush White House.

And if the Republicans don’t, let’s do it ourselves by passing this forgotten
disgrace around the Internet to wake up memories of what a fraud and fake Teddy really is.

The Democratic Party should be ashamed to have the national disgrace from Massachusetts as their spokesman.

Let’s ignore that the literary genius who drafted this forgot about half way through that he was supposed to be writing in Kopechne’s voice and drops into the third person. It would be petty to dwell on such minutiae. Rather, let’s analyze the deeper meaning here to see if we can discern the larger theme.

What I learned from my uncle’s email:

– Murder and rape are excusable as long as you are just bloating around.

– Anyone with a substantive message must have his past examined and be haunted by it. Ummm, unless you’re the President

– Being drunk and stupid when young is inexcusable regardless of what else you accomplish in life. Ummm, unless you’re the President.

– Committing vehicular homicide and lying to try and cover it up is BAD

– Lying about the case for war and sending 1700 soldiers to their death and killing tens of thousands of people in the process is GOOD.

I guess I was wrong. It was educational!!

We All Scream for Ice Cream

So it’s a hot Saturday without too much to do, nor the energy to do it anyway. The humidity has apparently turned my body inside out so that the solids are on the inside. When unexpectedly, a call comes in from Webster – a dinner invitation with three girls. I’m gonna need a shower.

But even the cold water can’t quench the heat. It was one of those days where even toweling off uses enough energy to cause you to break a sweat. Okay, extra deodorant, shorts, take the shirt with me. The truck is air conditioned. Maybe it’ll be better when I get there.

So I head out with the blower hurling mildly cool air at me. I’ve been putting off getting the A/C in the truck serviced for over a month now. Procrastination doesn’t pay. Grumble, grumble.

Arriving there, I decide to don the shirt before exiting the truck. No point in scaring the neighbors. Although one does sees me dressing in the truck. I’m hoping he’s conjuring up a better story to tell his buddies than was really going on. Anyway, up to the door and inside where more hurling of mildly cool air is happening. The wall mounted A/C just can’t quite keep up with the load of cooling the whole place, but it’s way the heck better than my house.

After a fashion, we head out to dinner. We all pile in the Kia. Now this thing blows cold air. Score one for Korea. My core temperature is finally starting to fall. We arrive at the restaurant to find it’s even colder still. My mustache frosts slightly as we enter. This is now my favorite place to eat, and I haven’t even seen a menu yet.

As dinner winds to a close, the topic of dessert comes up. There are some tasty pastries available, but I suggest going for ice cream. After all, there’s still a spot on the inside that’s running a bit hot. So we head back out into the cryo-Kia. It’s starting to rain a bit, but it’s kind of refreshing. The day is looking up.

As we pull into the ice cream stand the lightning is starting to put on quite a show. Big thick chains are grounding in the distance and the thunder is rumbling like my tummy after nachos. But not everyone thinks that’s so very cool. In fact, everyone agrees that it would be best if I go get the ice cream and bring it back to the car. Can do ladies. And I hop out and walk around to the far side of the building where the window is.

The lightning continued to crack, and it worked to my advantage because the line shortened quickly as less determined people starting running for their cars. But dammit, I came for ice cream. So as I’m placing my order the skies open up and it begins to rain cats and dogs – and goats and sheep – and a couple of chickens. Awww, it can’t rain this hard for long. So I take delivery of the dishes and pay the tab. I stare out from under the protective awning – barnyards of water continue to fall. The mighty Kia is out of sight behind the building. I’m contemplating my options. It’s not like it would be the first time I’ve been soaked today, so I could just run for it. But I have to carry multiple uncovered ice creams and negotiate a door. I’m likely to wind up with nothing but partial bowls of soup. That’s no way to treat ice cream. And I can’t think about this for too much longer as things are starting to melt.

But I guess I’m not the only one who cares about the sanctity of ice cream. Suddenly, a flash of headlights catches my attention and the Kia noses up to the end of the sidewalk. Assuming there must be a plan, I scurry out with my load. As I approach the front of the car, the passenger door bursts open. I weave around it to find three hands waiting to grab bowls. In a flash I’m in. The ice cream is safe. I’m reasonably dry. The day just keeps getting better.

…and I haven’t even had the black raspberry ‘scream yet.

Godzilla Sighting

Fellow ranter Chuck returns with the following:

I find myself pondering what I consider the role of government to be more and more these days – but that could just be part of the aging process (what I am starting to characterize as my ‘loss of apathy’). After reading the article linked below, and sifting through the verbiage to separate the facts from the spin, I don’t find an answer to what I consider the some of the primary questions – although I do like the Godzilla reference…

Why does the city of Maplewood feel the need to develop part of this area?
Were the residents/business owners of the area consulted in any way?

I guess my major problem with this whole issue is the relationship between the municipality and a property owner. Property owners have been trying to do things with property that cities/towns/villages have not permitted for years – but the owner would submit a plan/proposal to the authority for approval, pay the permit fee (assuming the proposal was acceptable, met zoning ordinances, building codes, etc.) and proceed with their plan. This whole idea that a public entity could essentially transfer property ownership between private individuals or organizations is not only a role I don’t consider appropriate for OUR government, taken to a logical extreme it calls into question what the word ‘owner’ means.

(I didn’t think I was ‘ranting’ the first time, but I’m starting to pick up steam now)

I like to think if I ‘own’ something one of the things I have a measure of control over is not only who to sell to, but if I even WANT to sell. When I can’t ‘just say no’ where do you go from there? In many ways it seems like the assessed value of a property is a price tag with the county clerk acting like the cashier…

Where you’ve had a recent history of beginning with questions, I’ll end with one.

Is the primary role of government to promote the public good or protect individual rights?