Trying Not To Abuse A Metaphor

Today is the 60th birthday of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA TV went off its regular schedule today. With bumpers featuring the current Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, plenty of “history films” have been shown. I had a bit of a realization while watching narrators like Peter Cullen and William Shatner tell the tales of Apollo and the Shuttle’s Return To Flight respectively.

Shatner’s film on Return to Flight noted how we would have something new for the USA to ride to space in lieu of the space shuttle. The problem is that in the years from the film’s creation, we never made such a new system. As a country we made a sad trade-off. Rather than explore low earth orbit and perhaps the stars, we threw money at a monstrous new health care bureaucracy that has yet to work right. We traded dreams of exploration for realities of an even worse health care experience that cost even more money.

As much as people freak out in DC over Russia, we must not alienate our only ride to the International Space Station that we helped lead building. Since our wings for space were basically clipped during the Obama years, SpaceX has far too slowly tried to build commercial capacity instead while re-learning lessons we already went through as a nation from 1958 to now. Until Mr. Musk gets it together, the US space program is reduced to hitchhiking now just as much as it was during the Obama years.

Some days I end up wondering where we could’ve been without the clipped wings we’ve had. Our big advances have been in mobile phone apps and in creating vast surveillance structures like Palantir Gotham. Turning as insular as we’ve had hasn’t been a good thing for overall scientific innovation seemingly.

Where is the spark we need to wake things back up? Where is my moon base? Why isn't Canonical on the moon instead of London?

more ...

About Work

Okay, this is getting to be a bit insane. When I have octogenarians yelling at me about how they don't have time to read correspondence from my employer and yet want me to fix stupid things they did contrary to instructions in said correspondence...why am I still trying to save them? My job description is a bit more narrow than "superhero".

My job is turning into a national reading comprehension exam. The problem is that too many people are failing that exam. The concepts in the letters have been simplified as much as possible. Unfortunately I have people calling who are literally illiterate and need me to read the letter to them because they don't know how to read. I'm not allowed to suggest Adult Basic Literacy Education to any caller but some of them need it. I cannot fix that problem over the course of a single phone call no matter how hard I want to help.

The fraud problems are getting worse. While NTA keeps saying that we have a massive false positive rate, I am just shocked that that many employers could screw up that many information returns on that many employees. We should be nickling and diming those employers with the relevant fines for failing to file proper information reports. That is a $500 fine per person per report.

The last doctor visit wasn't a positive one. She wants me out of the job. The local hiring market isn't bristling with jobs. Ashtabula County has an unemployment rate higher than the state average but at least we aren't in the dire straits of Monroe County with 8.5% unemployment. Anything on offer in Ashtabula County either has minimum requirements that I don't meet (i.e. medical degree, five to ten years experience in welding, experience as a head waiter, experience as a vintner) or requires me to take an over 60% cut in hourly pay.

That I need help is probably an understatement. All of us in my cubicle row said roughly the same thing at different points today: "I'm going to hell for this." There simply comes a point where things break. Unfortunately the entire 25 site enterprise of call sites is straining hard to hit a very hard performance measure and may miss it yet.

I'm still doing what church work I can. Sacerdotal functions are being performed a minimum of twice per month as part of the Domestic Mission Field Activity at West Avenue Church of Christ. People wondering about the corporate existence of said church can check its Ohio registration with the Secretary of State at https://www5.sos.state.oh.us/ords/f?p=100:7:::NO:7:P7_CHARTER_NUM:209029. The pro-rated buyout amount to have me work full-time for the church is apparently $2,125 per month based upon the congregation's basic ministerial pay that hasn't varied in years.

While I am trying to hang on, I am getting sick from work. Psychosomatic symptoms are unfortunately very real when you can't handle the overload of emotion flooding at you from so many angry and upset people. In these times of Resistance the knob has been turned to 11 compared to how things were prior to President Trump's inauguration even though nothing's really changed with how taxes are administered.

If you've read this, I offer thanks. Sadly the story isn't changing. If you want to help it change, contact Elmer Ford at West Avenue to see about raising tax-deductible funds putting me on full-time for a couple months for domestic missions work. If you want to help it change, please help me find a way to break out of the rut I'm in with this employer. If you want to help it change, please help me rearrange things for the better in this corner I've seemingly painted myself into.

more ...