The immediate cause is staff turn over. One colleague who recently finished his MS in mathematics for finance went off to work for E*TRADE. Some of my other cow-orkers were shocked. I was not. What else does one do after earning a graduate degree in a field that is far more lucrative than IT? He is missed. He has a fabulous work ethic and was insanely competent at what he did. Other colleagues were either fired or left for family reasons in lieu of being fired. They needed to go. I cannot even begin to say how nice it is to work at a place that fires people that need to be fired.
So we have a couple of new guys that look like they'll be keepers. But it's going to take a while for them to come up to speed. This would make me optimistic but even if they turn out to be insanely great, the company is growing. Once the new hires come up to speed we'll be where we were almost a year ago staff wise and these days there is more work to go around.
The training race I did last weekend was great. I learned a few things, chiefly that I need to do more open water swimming. Towards that end, I'm trying to find good places in the DC area for that. There don't look like many options. Many (perhaps most) of the traditional local swimming spots have been closed down for various reasons (toxic chemicals, unsafe currents, et cetera). Judging by the map and a bit of casual googling, it looks like the closest places are Gunpowder Falls state park which is about an hour's drive away and Sandy Point which looks to be closer to 90 minutes away.
I also learned that if I'm going to do triathlons seriously that I need a more serious bike. That's probably not going to happen. But I will probably get a set aerobars before the summer is out. In fact, I'll probably get a set next paycheck.
I don't know if I'm going to do triathlons seriously though. Depending on how the Olympic distance one I'm training for in the fall goes, I may do one or two a year. But I don't have the thousands of dollars and the oodles of extra time to train competitively on the right sort of equipment.
We bought a new minivan, a Toyota Sienna. Despite having had it for three weeks, I've only driven it three times: home from the dealer, to the shop to get a trailer hitch installed and to a friend's house to pick up a bike rack, there and back to Lorton for the triathlon training event. Being in DCia there's just not much use for a car. I ride my bike or take the bus to work. Mostly our current van gets used to drive to Church on Sundays and for vacations.
We'll get more use out of the van once we get it modified to hold my wife's wheelchair. These modifications will likely cost the purchase price of the van over again. Hopefully, my wife will qualify for some financial assistance for the project from the state department of rehabilitation. It turns out cripples that work get help from the state for transportation to and from work. If we do get that help, it will bring down our cost for the modifications to the neighborhood of 5k.
We've been needing a new van for a while but the primary motive for buying a vehicle is that so my wife could stop taking the local paratransit service to and from work. The stories she has from riding paratransit are nuts. Sometimes it takes her two or three hours of riding around town to get home. The same trip by bus or train would be just a bit over an hour. By car it's about half an hour give or take. Unfortunately, my wife can't take the bus or train alone unassisted and she has trouble when the temperature falls. If it's below 60 degrees or so and she spends more than 5 minutes outside, what's left of her muscles freeze up and she can't move for the rest of the day. That kind of takes the point out of going to work.
We're hoping she can find someone to car pool with but if need be, I can drive her in the morning with my road bike on the rack and then ride to work.
Recently, I went with my daughter and one of her friends to see Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Adèle Blanc-Sec reminded me very much of that except without all of the parts that I found irritating and pointless. I guess that at heart I'm just not a Wes Anderson fan. I am, however, a Luc Besson fan and Adèle Blanc-Sec seems to me to Besson on top of his game.
Any movie that has a pterodactyl terrorizing 1920's Paris and , ancient Egyptian mummies gets my attention to start with. Besson romped through with the sort of fun that I enjoy most in a film.
It also has one of the best lines spoken by a millennia's old mummy in a major motion picture, I'm not a doctor. I'm a nuclear physicist.
Let the Bullets Fly is also a period piece, set in the same era as dèle Blanc-Sec except in China. It's not quite as absurd as dèle Blanc-Sec but it is definitely a absurd send up of the Asian action picture yet one that has an actual plot and good acting. Among others it has one of my personal favorite actors 周潤發.
My daughters are both doing exceedingly well and both off for the summer. The eldest is working at a summer camp in Mercer, PA. She seems to be doing all right and recently texted me to ask how to make tofu. I texted back that she needs to start with some soy beans. She wasn't impressed. Turns out that among other duties, she was tasked with cooking for the kids at the camp that were taking the Apostolic Fast seriously. (Orthodox Christians abstain from all meat and dairy from the second Monday after Pentecost to the feast of the Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.) She wanted to know how to cook it without it falling apart.
The youngest one is presently in LA at a leadership retreat. Once she gets back, she'll be heading to Guatemala where she'll be doing some volunteer work. Her travels are funded by the Young Scholars program of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
If you know any bright kids in sixth grade whose parents don't have a lot of money, urge them to apply to the JKCF Young Scholars Program. If they get in, it's kind of like winning the lottery.
College choices are also looming for the youngest. But she's made her life more difficult than it has to be. Despite having stellar SAT scores (the likes of Princeton and Harvard are inviting her to apply) she slacked off this last school year and her grade aren't as stellar. And, being her junior year, it's the last full year that schools will be looking at. She'll still do fine. But she probably lost any real chance at a full ride, even one through the JKCF foundation. (Many of the Young Scholars go on to get full college scholarships through the foundation.)
So yesterday, I'm walking to stop by the gym to see if I can pick up a guest pass for a friend coming in from out of town and I pass a crowd of young black men just chilling in front of the Discovery Channel's world headquarters. An older black man who looked to be about six and half feet tall was rapidly pacing to and fro around them berating them. I didn't think much of it and kept walking.
After picking up the pass, I stopped by Subway to get dinner for my wife and decided to take the scenic route home. As soon as I turned the corner I passed the same group of men now slowly walking away from the buy who was berating them. He continued to shout at one individual in particular about his punk bitch ass and how if he ever saw it around again he was going to kick it. The group of men just kept walking and eventually the tall dude wanders away.
So one of the group turns to me and gives me a little speech.
Go home and tell your wife that you saw a man of empathy, that you now know what true empathy is.
You saw a group of niggers that had a chance to fuck a guy up and they just walked away instead.
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