Wednesday, 14 March 2012

My Magic Unicorn Story

This is a sad story of sort....about the US government.

We have a property game.  Whenever you buy equipment of a certain value.....someone has to sign for it and assume responsibility.  If you lose the equipment.....then it turns into a mess.  So, let me tell you this story.

Last summer, I had a person in my organization who came to admit that she'd lost a Dell switch.  The original value when purchased in 2005?  $1000.  We have to fill out a fair amount of information on this and then it gets sent up....where someone will make a decision to do a Report of Survey.  This is something that bothers folks because they could say that you screwed up and have to pay some or all of the cost involved.

Eight months later (it's supposed to be shorter, but this just didn't work that way).....the investigation guy calls this week and wants to come by to ask questions and see where the item was previously located.

I sat down and decided to help this gal a little on this....getting the story in my mind.  There are some open spots on info....so I dig into the episode a little.  My database says it was bought in 2003, but I don't trust it.  So I check and find that we only have two of these Dell switches....same model.....both bought at the same time.  So the one that is ok and existing?  I pull up the serial and check the Dell warranty site.  It'll tell you some things.

Dell's site says.....it was summer of 2005 when bought, and the warranty ran out by 2008.  The lost serial number?

Well....it's a curious thing.  I put this number into the Dell system.....and it doesn't exist.  That means....IT NEVER WAS MANUFACTURED OR SOLD OR DELIVERED.

I sat there for a while....pondering.

Some idiot property dimwit in 2005....added this to their property account in the organization.  They made some dimwit sign the paperwork for two of these, but in reality, there was ONLY ONE bought.  They made up a totally bogus serial number for the second one, and the dimwit signed for two.

A year likely passed, and the inventory was re-done....with the dimwit freaking out because they couldn't find the second one.  They didn't want to admit this, or be required to pay for it.  So they simply said that it was there.

Another year passed, and they somehow talked a new guy into signing for the account....and he accidentally signed for the non-existent $1000 item.  A year later, he likely freaked out....thinking he'd lost the item.

So 2011 came, and this gal freaked out....doing the right thing.....reporting a lost item.

The truth is....there is nothing lost.  The item was never manufactured or delivered or sold.  So the government is spending twenty man-hours looking over this whole episode.  I can't really tell the guy the complete story, because it makes the gal look pretty bad....she signed for the item two or three years ago but never grasped what it was or that it didn't exist.  So I simply laid out a perception.....maybe they bought two but I can't understand how you'd use the second item.  I'm kinda hoping he will ask this over and over, and eventually realize that there just ain't such an item in existence.

This kind of bothers me.....because now I'm wondering.....how many other fake items exist on my organization's account?  How many other fake items exist throughout the US inventory of equipment?  We might actually have a billion dollars worth equipment, that simply was erroneously put into a database, but it just doesn't really exist.

The bottom line.....there's a non-existent piece of equipment missing, and someone might have to pay for it.  It's like owning a digital sword, a magic unicorn, or an imaginary pony.  You can sense my frustration with this.

The ID Story

This is what we know....the NAACP has gone off to the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland. They'd decided that only the UN can come and save America.....on the topic of photo ID's being required to vote in certain American states.  The emphasis here....is that suppression of the vote is going to be caused, and only the UN can stop the madness.

I sat and pondered over this.  Usually, the last folks on the face of the Earth that you'd go to....to help you out.....would be some UN organization.  You 'd be better off asking retired NFL players, the NCAA football folks, or eight guys from some bar in Amarillo, Texas to help you.

The curious thing about this meeting....most of the European folks sitting around at the table of the Human Rights Council....didn't really say much.  You see, they require you to vote with a picture ID.  The vast number of countries in South America?  They all force every individual to have a national ID by age eighteen.  Most countries in the Middle East?  They mostly all require a state-ID by age eighteen.

The countries without a required ID?  Roughly ten.  Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Norway, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, India, and the US.

So you can imagine this council meeting with the NAACP guys all smiling and grinning over this big trip to Geneva.  The travel budget for the group?  It pretty much shot all of the travel allowance for 2012, but they know it already.  They likely stayed at a fairly nice hotel and will squeeze five days out of this deal, with some meals charged off onto the NAACP credit card, and a Mercedes and BMW to be shared amongst the members of the group.

What none of the NAACP guys really grasped....almost everyone at the table....requires a national ID, and requires you to flash it....if you go and vote.  This trip was a fairly big waste of time, but it did help to put them onto various national newspapers.  And who knows....maybe the nations of Tonga, East Timor, and Solomon Islands might support their agenda.

Toilet Paper of Wrath

This is what we know....Trenton, New Jersey has a health department that is in turbo mood tonight....about to shut down a couple of city buildings.  Usually, when you bring up this kind of topic.....it's a pretty serious topic....like disease, or faulty construction.  In this case.....a lack of toilet paper.  The city hasn't prioritized purchases to such an extent.....to buy rolls of toilet paper.

According to the best estimate.....they've got one box (15 rolls) of toilet paper left.

Most folks in town admit that the town is down to nickles and dimes....and this is mostly why no one will agree on buying more toilet paper.  Adding to the frustration....people are going back and forth....talking about legal concerns, which invokes lawyer opinions both within the city council and amongst the public.

How bad has it gotten?  Well....some of the city workers have put in complaints with the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  They've claimed it's a safety problem now....without the toilet paper.

I sat and pondered over this.  Life is a pretty simple thing, with common expectations.  When you go to a theater, you expect popcorn and sodas.  When you go to a bar, you expect beer and booze.  When you go to a creek infested with copperheads.....you expect snakes.  When you go to Wal-Mart, you expect greeters.  When you go to a casino, you expect to lose money.  And when you go to a bathroom....even a government bathroom.....you expect toilet paper to be sitting there at the key moment, when you need it.

Maybe America has finally slipped.  Maybe the negativity comments have finally come true.  Maybe our generation will not be as well off as the previous generation.  Maybe we are entering the modern dust-bowl generation.  Maybe we will all be carrying a roll or two of toilet paper to work....keeping them in a locked desk....refusing to share....sitting there in a toilet....thinking of the golden days, when the city or town had real toilet paper, or the boss actually spent money on the little things like soap, light bulbs, or toilet paper.

Yes, we've likely slipped.  We will all sit back and be patient now....waiting for better days, and toilet paper to arrive.  Someone will come around to say that they've heard of towns out west where they have toilet paper in every stall.  Then our modern-day Joad family (from Grapes of Wrath), will pack up the Ford F-150, and travel out west in hopes of finding the mythical land where you can still walk into a public toilet and find free toilet paper.

We were once a mighty nation, with excess toilet paper, and today?  The mighty have fallen.

(Course, this is Trenton, New Jersey, and it's like traveling to Paraguay if you go drive within the city limits....so maybe we ought to relax, sip some more Mountain Dew, and rest assured that a mighty nation has yet to slip or fall....just Trenton).