Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sweet Resignation

In a weird sort of way, I sympathize with Rep. John Boehner. Like a right-wing Icarus, Boehner saw opportunity in the Tea Party takeover of Congress following the 2010 midterm elections. Ultimately, he didn't realize that the position of Speaker of the House requires more pragmatism than his far-right allies anticipated. The group of congressman that he caucused with were accused (somewhat unfairly) of caving to President Obama and house Democrats, especially during the disastrous government shutdown two years ago. John Boehner was the adult in a room of children, the one level-headed voice in a clown car of crazies. He was loathed by Democrats for pushing a rigid agenda, and disdained by some Republicans for being too wishy-washy. In the end, you almost can't blame him for resigning.

My primary concern, however is whether the remedy will be worse than the malady. The assumed short list of possible candidates to succeed Boehner is a mix of establishment and Tea Party Republicans, and overall not that inspiring. Whether or not this person serves beyond the next 15 months isn't dependent upon the Democrats making any gains in the 2016 election (a long shot at this point) but the various fissures within the GOP. This person will have the Sisyphean task of forming a united front for two large and disparate factions of the party, one louder than the other, an area where Rep. Boehner tried many times and ultimately failed. In short, the GOP parents are going out to dinner, and they need a new babysitter.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Random Notes, September 2015

What's going on?

+ The second GOP presidential debate was not the eye-opening train wreck that the first one was. However, at over three hours in length it was an unprecedented marathon of bloviating, one that even I couldn't sit all the way through. Donald Trump did not apologize for remarks made about Carly Fiorina (remorse is not his thing) but the Hewlett-Packard CEO's steely, silent response was golden. The night was about all-or-nothing agendas; there will be no pragmatism for Planned Parenthood or illegal immigrants, but rather the same swift and close-minded platform that most social conservatives have held dear for decades. In the end, this was an 11-way dogfight and the democratic process lost.

+ Go Royals! I am really, truly hoping that our overworked bullpen has just enough left in the tank to make a second straight World Series appearance. The Bears' season is already over, Blackhawks training camp is being overshadowed by the Patrick Kane sexual assault case, and Bulls training camp is two weeks away, so at least I have something to root for.

+ Family Update: My mother is not undergoing surgery for her aortic aneurysm... yet. Apparently, only a handful of doctors are able to perform this type of surgery, but it is treatable and requires certain lifestyle changes (staying active, eating healthy, etc.). Worst-case scenario is, she would have heart surgery twice in one year, and it could be at the Cleveland Clinic two states over. However, at the moment she's taking the doctors' orders and doing just fine.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Responder

This has been, at least on a personal level, a lousy summer.

From March until early August, I held down a temp position at a company that does billing for ambulance services. In the five months I was there, I witnessed a 90% turnover by the staff, near-constant drama (both within the workspace and pre-existing) from certain co-workers, unprecedented managerial incompetence, and a general dearth of "book smarts" in a situation where "street smarts" didn't always suffice. From a personal perspective it was consistent work and challenging without being overwhelming, but the office environment uniquely chaotic.

I'm not sure if I could pinpoint an exact low point in this ocean of drama. Within two weeks of when I started, I had to take a personal day for my father's doctor's appointment. On the day I was gone, there was a catfight in the break room, the woman who trained me on a profanity-laced tirade, the ladies' restroom was trashed, and another woman went into false labor. I came back that next day to see 10% of the desks in the office vacated and a thick air of tension. The manager warned repeatedly before and after "The St. Patrick's Day Massacre" that the drama stays outside the office, but the revolving door of personnel never made that possible.

After about three months in the office, I was put on a special project. I had been working on billing, but they were shifting more people into processing insurance claims. There was a group of 12 or 13 of us assigned to work on three agencies in the Atlanta metro area; about a third of us had to be trained on how to do insurance. There were some growing pains, but in general the people who were transferred into this project were doing okay. The corporate office in Phoenix wasn't impressed, so we were summoned into a conference call meeting one Friday afternoon. They pointed out one mistake after another, some obvious and others that were close calls. One member of the team took an error personally and after the call ended she nearly started crying. Then another member of the team started talking about her troubled teenage son, and the whole thing turned into a therapy session. Suffice to say, it was uncomfortable and preposterous.

Then, on August 4th, it abruptly end. I was sitting in the parking lot checking my messages when I received a phone call from my temp agency. The fact that they were calling when they did was not a good sign, and my suspicions were confirmed soon after. Initially the company claimed that I had nodded off at my desk --a false and damning allegation-- but they reiterated I wasn't a good fit. I was now a free agent again, forced to budget my money while I was stuck at home with two sick parents. I had hoped to take a road trip or some kind of mini-vacation, but circumstances quashed that quickly. I adore warm weather, but this was one summer where the heat did me no favors.

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