15 April, 2013

Flattery & Family

Category: Exercise,Family,Government,Politics,Queer,Relationships,Running — Moose @ 10:55 pm

I’m flattered by the number of friends who think I run fast enough to qualify for the Boston marathon. Not even close here, but I appreciate the sentiment. I’m safe, trust me.

That said, the boy’s sister was running it for charity. His family lives in the greater Boston area, and his parents were expected to be at the VIP seating near the second bomb. Thankfully they stopped, earlier, at another spot on the route where they found a better view, so none of them was hurt. My future sister-in-law was still out on the route, and got pulled before she could finish, based on the security concerns.

My first thoughts, after comforting the boy, was how we’d need to marry early, to make it official, so we could take care of his (soon ‘our’) niece. And while I’m happy we don’t have to do the legal shit earlier than the ceremony in late May, it was still scary as all hell to contemplate that his ENTIRE family would be out at something and be killed. Given his sister’s wishes we’d still have gotten his niece to raise, but the lack of legal protections scares this lawyer.

Also annoying is our utter inability to help with blood donations. Despite having a safe profile, despite testing consistently negative for communicable diseases, I can’t donate, because I’ve “had sex with another man since” the year I turned 5. Not before I was legal, but, y’know, the FDA rules don’t make rational sense, they just fuel prejudice rather than public health purposes. So, yeah, I’m gonna make this political; fuck you, FDA, and your stupid rules, and how dare you prevent me from helping my fellow citizens when they need it.

10 April, 2012

Reporting

Category: Family,Government,Television,Work — Moose @ 7:12 am

My Big Gubm’nt Agency (BGA) has fucked up something in its spending and internal controls, which means we get to report a violation of law. Was telling the boy about this yesterday evening, because it’s been dragging on for months now as we investigate, but we finally met with several senior managers and came to agreement that it is indeed a violation and so we have to report it per statutory and regulatory guidance. And somehow I got tasked with writing the first draft of the letters, which have to go to the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate (aka the Vice-President), the Comptroller General and the President himself, through the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Whee! Thankfully I’m not the one who will sign his name to the letters – someone much, much higher in the BGA gets to be that lucky stiff, but I have to write the majority of the story here.

The funny thing was that I didn’t consider this any big deal, it’s just part of my job. An annoying part, to be sure, but just part and parcel of working as an attorney for a BGA, practicing appropriations law. In mentioning that I had to write the letters, and who they’re going to, the boy did a double take, repeated the recipient list (with the phrase “you have to write letters to…”), and gave me a shocked look. I suppose it doesn’t help that he’s been watching the entire run-through of the show The West Wing lately, so he’s had politics on the brain.

It’s hard not to become jaded about such things, since they are part of my job, albeit a rare part. But it was interesting to see the reaction from someone who doesn’t live and breathe politics in his daily life.

18 October, 2011

Frustrated/Impressions

Haven’t updated in forever (duh). Been dealing with a lot of messes at work, and not felt terribly motivated to deal with most of them. It’s exhausting when you’re working your butt off, and at the same time (it feels like) the entire country is complaining about what it is you do, and your bosses (Congress and POTUS) are talking about cutting your pay & benefits, on top of already constructively cutting them by freezing your pay, but still piling on additional costs for things like health care and pensions. So, yeah, hard to feel motivated. I suspect there will be a lot more of that going around when and if they implement the plan to increase our share of our pension contributions, since that’ll mean a 5-6% (minimum) cut in take home pay. Blah.

So, yeah, frustrated at work.

Other than that, I’m gearing up for next year’s season for my newbies, and seeing how much more I need to be doing. Trying to catch up on reading (the list of materials never gets smaller!). Trying to tweak/fix my eating habits – I gained way, way too much weight over this past year, between bad eating and lack of regular, sustained training. I wish it weren’t so damned easy to eat badly in this country (and frequently so expensive to eat well, though the salad bar by weight at work has been a cheaper option than the local sandwich shop when I fill the large part of the plate with greens).

Things continue to go well with the boy. Met his family last month, made a good impression. I still spend most nights with him and his beagle up at his apartment, though not every night (do have to do laundry on occasion, after all). It’ll be interesting to see how I’m going to work this with training and my coaching stuff with the newbies. An adventure, as life should be. Made him a scarf, so he’s been deemed knit-worthy. If you want more details past that you have to check my Facebook profile.

15 April, 2011

Training

Category: Diet,Edumacation,Exercise,Food,Government,Stress,Triathlon,Work — Moose @ 5:42 pm

Left work, left DC, headed out to the midwest this weekend to get the training I need for my coaching certification from USA Triathlon. So far, it’s been really good. Lots of stuff to process and internalize, both for my newbies and for myself. The presenters have been good, though it was obvious the first was an educator as well as a coach, where the second was just a coach without so much of the educator vibe.

My back is complaining from the awful chairs they have us in, but some stretching tonight should help.

Getting to see my friend Troy this evening, part of the reason I chose this locale over Baltimore last month. He’s been out to see me a couple times in DC, so I’m returning the favor.

Debating a nap before we head out.

Work, with the shutdown drama, was absolutely nuts. The craziest I’ve ever seen it for my office. And it’s likely we’ll get to go through this in September/October again, unless Congress can get their collective act together and pass the bills on time, for the first time in well over a decade. Highly unlikely, so I imagine stress levels will rise again in 5 months. Plus we have to update all the old guidance we were forced to rely upon in the meantime, to reflect the new legal realities of the structure of the Big Gubm’nt Agency. Thank heavens we hired the 2nd appropriations attorney. I don’t think we could have done it all with just myself and my two supervisors.

Finished the 2nd book by Taubes, Why We Get Fat. More accessible than the first book, much less dense, but no less annoying in regard to bad dietary advice from much of the establishment. Not quite sure how to work in any of the changes, if at all, but I suspect I shall be modifying my diet a bit in the coming months. Again. In addition to modifying my training. Need to dial down my expectations, do some strength and flexibility work, and slowly build myself back up. Looking back now, I just wiped myself out with the IM, then backed off way too much without a recovery plan, didn’t modify my eating sufficiently, added all the work stress, and just killed my body. And then expected to pop back to “normal” runs and what not without any sort of base. Dumb, dumb, dumb. So, time to slow down, come back slowly, and build myself back properly.

23 February, 2011

Enough Already

Category: Government,Health,Mood,Politics,Stress,Work — Moose @ 10:16 pm

Hmph. I seem to have picked up another bug of some sort. This one just seems to be content with giving me a lovely sore throat. But only on the right side of my throat. No fever, no aches, just the one-sided sore throat. Most bizarre thing I’ve ever had. Went to urgent care on Saturday to see if it were strep, and I think I’m rapidly converting to the view that they’re practically useless, because both times I’ve tried them I’ve ended up going to see my primary care doc later anyway. Meh. Oh, and the quickie strep test came back negative. Ugh.

Other than that (which makes eating and talking loads of fun, let me tell you), work is slowly getting spun up with the possibility of a shut down after the current continuing resolution expires next Friday, the 4th. Both parties are playing chicken and government workers are stuck in the middle. You know, make some decisions, fund the damned government, be those levels up, down, or the status quo, but just fund us and let us do what we’re supposed to be doing – we’ll manage if you just give us some direction and let us run with it. The last time they did this back in 95/96 when large numbers of feds were furloughed Congress passed bills giving back pay to the workers sent home, but I just don’t see that happening this time around. Not a fun time, especially being the lead lawyer on fiscal issues. Oh, and bonus, it’s highly unlikely I’d be named as “essential personnel” so I wouldn’t be working or getting paid, either, if we shut down. Joy.

And all this is just a precursor to the fight over the debt ceiling later this winter/early this spring. That’s when the shit really hits the fan because even if an agency has multi-year or no-year funds and can keep operating without new money, the Treasury won’t be able to warrant out any funds to make payments, so it’s likely that at that point everyone will get shut down, period. No money to make tax refunds, to pay social security, make Medicare payments, etc. That’s when we’ll really see the shit hit the fan.

So, yeah, stress city right now. Can this winter be over yet?

25 January, 2011

Loosening Up

Category: Government,Habits,Health,Knitting — Moose @ 10:05 pm

The drugs do seem to be helping. They’re opening up all the little inflamed passages and all sorts of fun snot is breaking loose. Which I’m sure you were just dying to know. Sleeping should be fun this week, too, since several of these are stimulants.

It was good to get back to work, get out of the apartment, see real people again, etc. I did spend most of the day with my door closed so as minimize the risk to co-workers, but it was still nice to get out of the house. A couple weeks delayed haircut and dinner out topped off the evening away from the apartment, and now I’m settling in with knitting and the boss’ speech. I’d ignore the thing, but I’m long past the point where I need to be attuned to what the big boss is saying, even in broad terms, about what my BGA is supposed to be doing for him, so I tune in and listen. A shame I can’t drink my way through the speech this year, but at least I have knitting to keep my hands busy. And the sweater has been neglected for over a month now, so it’s time to put in a few more rows.

25 January, 2010

State of the Moose at the End of January

My new mortgage servicing company has made a fine festuche of the escrow statement on my PMI as I moved over to them. Sent them a doc on 12/10/09 to have them correct the error (they somehow assumed I wasn’t going to pay the PMI that was on the bill for December and January, despite never being late with a payment?!?!). Called today because the February bill shows an increase (which was threatened in the incorrect escrow statement) to collect the “missing” PMI. They did indeed get my letter via fax on the 10th, but no one ever bothered to send it to the escrow department to have the thing fixed. Oy. So, step one was having that happen today, and I’ll call to bug them in a week. In the meantime I have to pay the bill with the extra $17 and change on it and then deal later with getting that somehow credited to a future bill or to principle. Right. It’s not a ton of money, but frankly I don’t want to pay them a penny more than I owe them. I have little faith in this new company so far, though the reps I’ve spoken to in the two months I’ve had them have been fairly pleasant to deal with.

Oh, and my favorite part of dealing with them? For the first time since about my third mortgage payment back in 2006 I’m paying my mortgage via check. Why? Because they want to charge me to make the payment online, in an amount that adds about 1% to the bill. No thanks, I’ll happily pay the USPS to deliver it instead. Dingbats.

And there’s some question why people dislike financial institutions?

Anyway. Other than that, training is going okay. My foot began to bother me a little at the end of last week, but several nights of sleeping in the brace has staved off the ever-possible plantar fasciitis. Went absolutely nuts in making soup last week, so I have gobs of the stuff in freezer bags now for easy meals later (whip up some fresh rice and heat up the soup, voila, homemade meal in no time). Curried split pea soup and African bean soup (also slightly curried, but with peanut butter in the broth – yum). Mood is much elevated thanks to regular exercise again.

Mike is looking at condos in Beantown these days. It’s been fun to watch the excitement and apprehension that goes along with that process. In a lot of ways I wish I were up there to look at places with him and watch the possibilities unfold. I did have to admit to him that I was a bit apprehensive when he first said that he was going to buy rather than rent when he moved this spring (it does make the long-distance aspect of the relationship a bit more, well, lasting for the near future), but spitting it out and talking about it with him released that anxiety. Yes, we’ll be traveling back and forth for a while to come, but I think he’s worth it.

Work has been hellacious as we move toward budget hearing time with the President’s budget coming out on Monday. Today was spent going over mind-numbing anticipatory questions and answers (the programs guessing what the Hill is going to ask us, and then answering said questions). On the one hand it’s a good picture of the overall direction of the BGA. On the other, it’s tedious and time-consuming, and one gets tired of correcting grammar and statutory reference mistakes. Eh, as long as they keep paying me. Though I do look forward to getting the ad out on the street for the other appropriations attorney position we’re supposed to be putting out. Soon. I hope. (Help!)

NTP is in full start-up mode. The newbies register on Wednesday and then the fun begins. I have two docs to edit up this week, and then we’re good to get started.

Been thinking a lot about decorating, again. Mainly paint and some minor things around the apartment. It’s been 4 years-ish since I moved in and I’ve not painted a thing. Whoops. I did come up with an idea for the color (though not the exact shade) for the bedroom this afternoon. Looked around when I got home and I think it’ll work. Not saying much past that, but I’m hopeful. Need to find someplace to do some framing for me, too (oooh, and there’s an idea for the front hall. Hmmm…). Anyway, it’s a slow process (re: 4 years, no paint), but is good to get some more concrete ideas. Oh, and cleaning out of closets will happen shortly. Lots to do, lots to do.

11 October, 2009

National Equality March

Category: DC,Government,Politics,Queer — Moose @ 6:09 pm

I’m glad I attended the National Equality March (NEM). It’s hard to come up with excuses not to go to an event held in your back yard, though heaven knows I’ve begged out of other things. The last “march” in DC for GLBT rights was the Millennium March (MM), and that one felt more like an extended version of DC pride than an actual “march” (in contrast, the MM had a vendor area much like DC’s pride festival, down to the location). This one, at least for the march itself and the rally afterward at the Capitol, felt more purposeful than the generic feel-good atmosphere of the MM. Perhaps because this one was actually called for something, and didn’t feel like a corporate-abused bit of PR for HRC.

And yes, in case you couldn’t tell, I have an exceedingly low opinion of HRC. They got a lovely new building from all their fundraising, and the rest of us got saddled with DADT and DOMA. Not exactly a wonderful trade-off for paying for all their supposed “expertise” on lobbying.

Got down to the Capitol grounds as the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington was in the middle of their performance. I definitely could have done without the religious BS right after the Chorus sang, but I understand that it’s a necessary evil in our society. Popped out after a bit of the rally to go grab food, a very late lunch, but wandered back afterward to meet a Twitter buddy who’d come down from Pittsburgh, and managed to catch Kate Clinton, Urvashi Vaid, Cleve Jones and the cast of Hair (I left again as Lance Black was talking). Kate was funny, Urvashi was strident and allowed to go on for too long. Cleve was good, and the cast of Hair was amazing (Lance was good as well, but I wanted to get home before it got dark).

Hopefully some progress will come out of this, legislatively, and hopefully Cleve will get his (unspoken) wish – a better organized actually grassroots organization to counter HRC and company’s ineffective money pit, and actually get some work done. Were it not for the specter of how much worse a majority Republican Congress would be now (in the modern, nutso-driven version of that party), I’d like to believe we could do something like withhold donations until we got some progress on our issues, but I suspect that’s not practical. Not that I personally give to anyone other than my local politicos anyway, since I have no vote for Congressional representation as a citizen of the District of Columbia, but that’s a rant for another day. In any case, it would be nice to think that at least some of the folks here will go back and start talking to their representatives, Federal, State and local, and put more pressure on those same representatives to protect all of us.

2 October, 2009

Responsibilites

Category: Government,Law,Work — Moose @ 3:12 am

Let me spell out why I’m upset at my field office, the one balking at following the directions from headquarters.

When a contracting officer of the U.S. federal government signs a contract, on behalf of the government, he or she assumes personal liability for any screw-ups he makes in the course of letting that contract. If he orders a contractor to do something, without the funds or authority to compel the contractor to take that action, he can be personally liable for the debt owed by the government to the contractor. That’s a Big Deal, no matter how you look at it, given that a great deal of my Big Gubm’nt Agency’s (BGA’s) contracts are worth multiple-millions of dollars, well in excess of the typical federal government employee’s salary.

In my role as legal counsel, looking at the fiscal responsibilities of the federal government and its accountable officers, my professional opinion rendered in the course of my employment can relieve a contracting officer of personal liability. If I tell an employee to take a certain action and that action is later found to be incorrect by a competent tribunal, the employee who followed my advice will not be held liable for following that advice. He or she sought the advice of counsel, and followed it, for better or worse. That’s a big deal, because we’re dealing with the public’s money, and if someone truly defrauds the taxpayers, they should be held liable for that fraud. So letting someone off that hook is not something to be done lightly.

Obviously I have no desire to defraud the government of funds; this money is my tax money as well as the usual federal taxpayer’s, and I don’t want to see it misspent when I can avoid it. So it’s distressing to me, personally, when a field office of my BGA questions my integrity, implicitly, by continuing to question the opinion my office has rendered in a particular case. The idea that I would casually hang a fellow federal employee out to dry, or that I would place the finances of my BGA in jeopardy, is personally abhorrent to me, and it causes me a great deal of distress when our field personnel assume that I would be so cavalier with their and the taxpayer’s finances. I think that’s what stressing me out about this latest brouhaha with the field, that implicitly they are questioning whether I am acting properly in my role as counsel to protect them and the head of my BGA. And the idea that they think I’m acting against their and the taxpayer’s interests, whether overtly or subtly, is a smirch on my professional integrity, and not something I take lightly. Thus, I’m distressed over the situation, as much as they are likely distressed as they contemplate taking an action which might cause them a great deal of personal debt. I don’t want that for them, nor do I want something to go wrong for the taxpayer or the administration (regardless of party), so I’m stuck in a very difficult situation until I can convince them that we’re not going to subject them to personal liability, something they’re not quite ready to accept.

28 July, 2009

Back Into It

Category: Biking,Body,Exercise,Food,Government,Running,Stress,Swimming,Work — Moose @ 9:17 pm

Training, that is. Ran and swam yesterday, biked this morning, running a long run tomorrow. Definitely feeling it tonight; almost didn’t do laundry as planned, but managed to get off my butt and get it done (yay for clean sheets). It’s a good kind of tired though – good, honest physical exhaustion from exercise.

Work’s nuts, which seems par for the course these days. I wonder if all political transitions are this crazy or if the economy being in the crapper has substantially added to it. I’d prefer not to find out for a while. What would be nice is to stop stress eating (why couldn’t I be one of those people who can’t eat when they get stressed instead of the opposite? silly body).

Long run planned for the morning, first in a while. Was prepping things for it tonight (water bottle, etc.) and I think I need to hit Conte’s or the like and pick up nutrition this weekend – down to two gels and two things of shot blocks. Not enough to make it through training or the two races, by a long shot.