Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday Grab Bag Leftovers

One of the (many) things that irks me about my current gig is that the civilian employees and the contractors really operate under very different rulesets, for various logistical reasons. As a result I will often receive e-mails which are completely irrelevant to me; they will address something specific only to the civilian government employees and yet will be blasted out to everyone, civilian and contractor alike, because we are all part of the "Agency - All" e-mail distribution list. I don't know if there is a "Civilian Agency Employees Only" mailing list in existence or not; maybe there isn't, or maybe there is but no one bothers to use it.

Regardless, I got an e-mail last week which, as usual, spoke only to the civilian workforce, specifically addressing the fact that an unacceptably large number of people were not up-to-date on recording their time and attendance in the official government payroll system. Time. Attendance. Got that?

The subject line of the e-mail was "Missing Civilian T&A" which ... man, I just wish I had thought of that as the subject for my post about La Grande Illusion. Hardships of war and all that.


Tuesday of this week I was pretty late getting home because my usual train suffered an engine breakdown and they had to hook up a second engine to the front of it at L'Enfant Plaza, to pull the busted engine and all the cars down the line. All told the delay was about 75 minutes, which was unpleasant but could have been worse (e.g. longer, or it could have been raining or freezing cold or both, &c.) and I really didn't have much of a reaction to the whole thing. The VRE is usually very reliable and a comfortingly sane way for me to negotiate the distance between home and work five days a week. Every once in a blue moon, something catastrophically disruptive happens, but that's life.

The most noteworthy thing about the whole incident was that I had to stand on the train platform for close to an hour and a half. And as old and out of shape as I am, just standing with no support for more than 20 minutes or so is a kind of physical exertion I'm unaccustomed to suffering. At various points I thought about bailing, but where would I go? I could take the Metro as far as Vienna, but in addition to loathing the Orange Line I would then need my wife to load all the kids in the car right around dinner time and fight 66 there and back to pick me up. Or I could foot the hefty fare for a taxi. But I waited it out. I also thought about giving up my spot on the platform's edge in order to lean my decrepit bulkitude against the rear wall of the station, but I resisted the temptation out of fear that if I didn't stay put and guarantee my position as one of the first people on the train, I might not get on the train at all, because the delays had allowed at least two trains' worth of riders to assemble in waiting.

There are actually two rail lines that run through the Crystal City station, and the way the delay recovery worked they sent through a jam-packed train on the line I ride, without stopping in Crystal City, then they sent through the train on the other line that would normally follow mine, and then another train on my line that did stop at our station. So when the other train arrived and opened its doors, because I was standing right in front of them I had to find as non-awkward a way as possible to keep my spot while letting other riders board their train. It was not graceful, but I managed it. Then the train on my line arrived ... and overshot the usual stopping point so badly that rather than standing in front of a set of doors I was at almost the exact midpoint between two sets of doors. All for naught! (cried my aching lower back) but I still ended up getting a seat on the train, so no harm no foul.


Follow-up to my post on Thursday about my children and their exposure to gender parity and whatnot: so the other day the little guy and the little girl were playing and, as usual, the little guy was directing what was supposed to happen at every turn, though he does deserve some credit for at least hearing out what his sister wants to do, even if he does at times (read: frequently) overrule her. I was in an adjacent room listening in as the little guy explained that he was the superhero and the little girl was the princess. (I am not being coy and avoiding brand names of characters here, the little guy literally was using the archetypal terms.) Atone point the little girl said she wanted to be a superhero too and the little guy said, "No, princesses can't be superheroes!"

I of course did not miss a beat and called out, "Wonder Woman is a princess!"

And again, credit where it's due, the little guy's response was, "Oh yeah, that's right, she's Princess Diana!" Which is something he learned from a Wonder Woman board book that my Little Bro gave my daughter as a gift one Christmas. So, he may forget sometimes in the heat of the moment, but at least he's paying attention during the study sessions as I try to impart my heritage on the children.

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