Friday, 15 August 2008

Twilight Zone for Kwame

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has finally fallen as deep he can...into the Twilight Zone.

With various charges now popping up....in city court and county court.....he is now dealing with two differing judges.

The city judge apparently has told Kwame he can remove his electronic monitoring device and travel over to Denver for the DNC convention as a special state delegate. The county court judge has said that he can't take off the monitoring device and must remain in the local area. Neither judge can rightly overrule each other.

Kwame has to be standing there.....with an attorney charging by the hour....to get advice which differs from court to court.

Then the governor came out today....saying a "pardon" is practically impossible to be given to Kwame....which means he has to beat the rap in court....or face jail....on either charge.

Adding to this mess....the DNC really doesn't want Kwame to even show up. The anticipated thrill here is that Kwame will bring his entourage with him.....with a potential "event" to occur where some citizen will be beaten or killed, while Kwame's security folks pretend to be "Detroit-tough". Another potential threat is Kwame ends up in some bed with a couple of Denver hookers.....which someone catches on video.

I'm thinking Kwame better start thinking of how things might be if his political career here fails. The state just isn't going to accept the guy....and other than playing city councilman....thats the virtual end of Kwame's career.

Russians, Purely


The odds of a fella from Bama actually meeting up with a Russian, is like one in a thousand. You just don't find too many Russians in Bama.

So I'm kinda on the different scale, because I've traveled a good bit and actually met Russians. I have yet to go to Russia....and probably never will.....but I've met a fair number here in Europe while on vacation and just out in the local area.

So my first story on Russians. I had gone to Turkey in 1996 for two weeks of sun at some resort on the southern part of the country. I figured it'd be mostly Germans there...since a German tour deal. It was a nice enough place....4-star....but half the residents at the hotel were Russian. For those who didn't know....Russians and Germans don't mix well. It was a buffet style hotel (like I'd go to any other, you know), except drinks were NOT free. For dinner, a coke or beer....ran around $2 each. What made this a joke was that you could walk out of the hotel to a nearby store and buy a six-pack of coke for $1.50. Beer wasn't much more.

So as I sat there the first night at the buffet area....enjoying my meal and drinking a beer.....a Russian couple came in....and they slipped out from their backpack.....a coke each. Rather than pay the $2 per soda.....they bought the cheap stuff. It took the waiter dude about 30 seconds to sweep by and grab the drink....quietly reminding them that no drinks were to be brought into the place. You had to buy their stuff. I sat and watched a dozen Russians attempt the sneak-in deal....half got away with it and half got caught. Every night, the same thing.

I gradually came to the conclusion after two weeks that Russians were cheap bastards.

The other thing I learned during this trip was that they dress ten to twenty years behind the times. Every leisure suit....every swim outfit....everything....was gaudy and in bad taste in terms of color and style. They wouldn't even wear jeans and t-shirt like me....the typical American.....which I was probably more acceptable in Turkey than these guys.

So lets move on. The Russians I met around Kaiserslautern....are all clan types. They hang out and socialize with only other Russians. Germans don't like them....neither do most Turks. I sat one day at a restaurant and chatted with a Russian who'd been here in Germany for four years. His German was good, but his English was even better. A friendly sort....but he had a totally negative opinion of Germans.....feeling they were never striving to make a profit or get ahead. They weren't good businessmen....like himself.

Around base these days, we have a number of Russian wives now. It was an amusing thing about ten years ago to note various enlisted guys and officers were now marrying Russian women. The added joke was that most of them dressed like models....were barely 130 pounds on a six foot one inch body. We used to joke that you could recognize a Russian woman in the commissary by fifty feet. If you said the word "tramp"....I'd immediately associate the word and a visual appearance of a Russian in the commissary.

The German cops made a big deal about young Russians last year....and actually got a bill passed to limit knives on anyone. If you have any kind of knife and are 17 or younger....you're in big trouble. If my leatherman were another inch longer.....I'd be in trouble. They probably stop dozens of kids these days and apprehend them....at least until the family or social department gets them out of jail.

Heavy drinkers? Yes. Without any doubt. Russian men in Germany are huge drinkers. They don't just have a dozen shots of something and quit. They will go through all their money and their friends money....consuming as much as possible.

The German elite of public TV love to show the faraway lands of Russia....where small villages exist and no one ever makes more than $100 a month. These docu-shows come on....and everything looks so nice. The amusing thing is that few Germans really care to watch this stuff (I'm guessing less than 5 percent). Sadly, I'm one of those guys because you really get to observe alot of unusual stuff and crap while watching these. Russians can live in poverty and pretty much accept that.....if they have to. Russians don't' really dream of faraway places to travel....because then they'd have to leave....and thats just not their style. They aren't real adventurers or people with vast desires to travel.

Naive, yes. Closed-mined, yes. Accepting to any real change, not really. Russians just aren't the kind of folks that a Bama fella would really feel comfortable around. Russians don't have that moment of humor like a Bama dude would have. Russians don't care for any real compassion or wit, which is the basis of every single Bama dude. So I'm not really painting a great picture of Russians. On my list of folks from other countries to socialize or meet with.....they come pretty much before cannibals or Katie Couric....and thats pretty low on my priority list. So for those of you in Bama....sitting around today....thinking of inviting a Russian dude over to the front porch for some ice tea....settle for a Baptist minister....if you really got to have some awful company....and be happy with that.

My Company's Leave Program

I work for a company that shall remain nameless. It is sufficient to say that they bought our little company two years ago, and six months ago, they dumped us into a new division which has issues.

In July, the new division moved us to a different financial program. In July, when I did take a week or two of leave….there should have been a total of sixty to seventy man-hours of LV deducted. The new database now says (as of today), that I used up 2,747,166 man-hours of leave. I sat there and contemplated the 2.7 million man-hours used….and wondering if an alien species aboard a UFO had kidnapped me and kept me some period of time. My co-worker says she doesn’t remember me being gone that long.

Four weeks later, the company credited me with 686,791 man-hours. This was awful generous of them. I could have used that….for the next forty years….to just pick up a paycheck and sip ice tea. At the very top of the entire statement….they had corrected most of the issue (I said “most”, not “all”). So I reckon I’m back into the plus column again, and more happy than what I should be but I won't say why.

I once worked with a guy in the Air Force who had saved 45 days of leave up. He went back to Puerto Rico and spent a month there. He arrives back on a chaotic day when the entire unit was to pack up immediately and leave for four weeks of hurricane relief duty. When they returned from that, he got a new supervisor. Then a month later, he discovered that the entire month that he spent in Puerto Rico….was never annotated in the records. It simply disappeared. So six months down the road, he came up and took another four weeks of leave in Puerto Rico. They did deduct the leave that time, but by then , he’d already built up almost 60 days of leave. Barely another six months passed before he took his third “month” of vacation to Puerto Rico…within a one-year period.

A guy can get too much leave….which is never good. And anything over 300,000 days of actual leave, would just be way too much….even for me.

Additional Duties

At one point in the Air Force, if you were lucky, you had a maximum of three additional duties. These usually consisted of building custodian, security chief, or copier monitor….with a possible list of thirty-odd duties throughout a squadron. Each had a primary and a alternate. Most of these barely took up three hours of work a month. One or two took maybe twelve hours per month. And the majority took fifteen minutes of effort per month to maintain….with a once-a-year surge of three hours to clean the book up and show a 4-star effort.

For years, this was the norm and everyone was accepting of this situation.

Somewhere around 1990 there was a “click” and then the growth of additional duties started. As a billet here and there in each unit went away…their official function didn’t really disappear….it merely transformed itself into an additional duty instead, which added another thirty man-hours per year onto someone else left in the squadron. As each year passed….more duties were handed out.

At some point four years ago in my shop….the four NCOs finally woke to realize that they had around eight additional duties each. Some of these actually took twelve hours per month (PT-fitness unit guru). By the time you figured the primary and alternate duties, it was starting to become a joke. They sat and measured their entire effort and realized that their additional duties now took up fifty percent of their entire month. They were actually doing less real-work, and mostly doing additional duties that the unit didn’t have real manpower to accomplish.

This week, the Air Force came out to admit that a recent survey brought this issue to the top of the problems list. The AF says they are now checking into this massive additional duty list. They are thinking of applying common sense and actually dumping a number of the duties down the tubes. While they wrote of the things that might come…..I quietly reflected upon the end result….that none would really go away. It’ll be hard to make these gone….and unless they make them real jobs for certain shops within a unit….it’ll just become part of your real job….thus making you think its lesser additional duties but its actually listed as your primary job now.

For a brief moment, I could see the future of the Air Force….if they hadn’t done this survey. In such a imaginary world….all of the functions in a organization would be additional duties. If you were the commander of a unit….it would be an additional duty. If you were the first sergeant, then it would be an additional duty. If you were the chaplain, it’d be an additional duty.

Eventually you’d just get a new assignment and get a listing of the various jobs you’d need for the new base….and go spend four months at some special school to learn how to accomplish their additional duties. The whole Air Force could go this way….pilots could be additional duties….generals would learn additional duties….even the chow hall cook could be a nurse on the side. Our world, and welcome to it.