Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Toxic Coworkers (Or My Thoughts on the Trump Putin Press Conference Yesterday)

We’ve all had them.  The coworker you know better than to trust.  Oh, they may appear nice to the rest of the company.  Or they may not.  Either way, you know that no matter what you do, it will provoke them and the end result is you will be in trouble.  Maybe they will tattle on you to your boss.  Maybe they will passive aggressively react in such a way that you look like a heel.  Maybe you’ll be lucky and it will be both.

Here’s the thing – you know better than to provoke them.  You know the only way to deal with them is to smile to their face, keep your head down, do your job, and then go home and complain to your friends/roommate/significant other about them and their behavior.  If things are bad enough, you look for a new job.

These thoughts have been going through my mind since I watched and read the transcript of the press conference yesterday after the meeting between President Trump and Putin.  Yes, I can see what people are upset about.  But I think there is much more to the story.

Before I go further, I realize that I am really wasting my time with the following words.  Those who disagree with me right this second are going to think I’m an idiot.  Those who agree with me right this second are going to click away nodding their heads in agreement.  All I ask is that you read the following with an open mind and think about it.

First of all, we need to have a good relationship, at least on the surface, with Russia.  They are a major power in the world.  Unless we want to go to war, then we can’t embarrass them on the world stage.  And I for one don’t want to go to war.  We also need their cooperation with other situations in the world.  Given that, what would have been gained if Trump had stood next to Putin and said what everyone is claiming he should have said.  Putin would have gone home and done everything he could to make the world unstable.  Granted, he will probably do that anyway, but it would have been worse if Trump had attacked him at the press conference.  It would have ruined our relationship with them for a generation or more, and the entire world would have paid the price.

These press conferences are nothing but theater.  Everyone knows not to believe a word that comes from them.  Again, now back to the situation with the toxic coworker.  You are tasked with presenting something to your company’s board with said coworker.  When the time comes for you to stand up and make the presentation, do you act like you get along, or do you start complaining about everything this person has done in the past?  You act like a grown up and pretend that you get along.  The truth may be very different, but you smile and act like you are a team working for the good of everyone.

That is what we saw yesterday.  Trump, a businessman, knows this.  What he directs our country to do in the weeks and months to come will be much more telling than an hour in front of the media.  That is what he truly believes.

I get it.  I read mysteries.  I love the moment when the main character confronts the villain and says “Here is the smoking gun.  You are guilty.”  Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well in real life, especially with so much at stake.  We still have plot holes and/or red herrings in this investigation, and Trump brought some of those up in the press conference.  One thing we learned yesterday that got drowned out in the cries of treason was that Putin has agreed to allow us to interview the Russians who have been indicted.  That is HUGE!  Yes, it will be on Russian soil and he isn’t turning them over to us for trial.  But it is much more than I ever expected us to get.  I doubt we will learn anything useful from it, but it is something.  And it is something that Putin would have backtracked on in a heartbeat if Trump had acted differently during the press conference.

In some ways, Trump’s statements during the press conference remind me of Mark Anthony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  Caesar has just been murdered, and Mark Anthony gives a huge speech in which he turns the mob from believing Brutus that Caesar deserved to be killed to riling them up to kill the assassins.  And how does he do it?  “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke.”  “Brutus is an honorable man.”  The truth was, he was speaking to disprove Brutus because he felt that Brutus had acted dishonorably, but he knew he couldn’t do it outright.  He had to be subtle and work behind the scenes.  That’s the situation that Trump is in.  Yes, that means he attacked the FBI, but there are still holes and flaws in the investigation.  How is it bad to acknowledge them?  He said one thing.  Only time will tell if he truly believes it or not.

There are other reasons I am having a problem taking this all seriously.  First is the fact that many of the people who are upset about this and calling for major action against Trump are the same people who have been calling for this for almost two years now.  On a scale of one to ten, the fact that Trump woke up this morning is a twenty-five, and any time he opens his mouth on anything we should be impeaching him.  In that climate, it is hard to take them seriously when they get upset by the latest thing he does.

These are the same people who were acting like Chicken Little just last summer when Trump got in the Twitter war with Kim Jong Un in North Korea.  Yet somehow, we didn’t get into a real war with them.  In fact, there was that infamous summit in the spring.  No, we haven’t gotten much out of it, but it makes me roll my eyes when the exact same people are now acting like Chicken Little over what happened yesterday.

Another reason is the history.  For the last 20 years, we’ve had Presidents who I’ve felt have treated Putin better than he deserved.  Please follow this link and read it carefully and thoughtfully.  I’m not going to retread all this well documented history.  But look at how Presidents Bush and Obama treated Putin and then read the comments quoted from Trump at the press conference yesterday again in the context of that history and the questions that were asked.  Again, those quotes in context are at the same link.  It provides a different context, one we aren’t getting on the news right now.

As long as I'm providing links, this essay says what I'm thinking better than I'm saying it.

Do I think that Russia, under Putin’s direction, attempted to meddle in the last election?  Yes.  Is this something we should take seriously?  Yes.  Is this something that could have been stopped by one press conference yesterday?  No.  As the cliché goes, you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.  If Trump is going to deal successfully with his toxic coworker Putin, he can’t attack him on a public stage.  It’s what he does behind the scenes that tells the real story.

Do I like what he said yesterday?  No.  But then again, I haven’t liked what Presidents have said in Putin’s presence for the last 20 years.  Trump is no different than them.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Up, Down and Dirty for a Cure

I did a last minute mud run this weekend.  Okay, so I had heard about it a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t sign up until this last Thursday.  I just couldn’t resist signing up when I heard about it since it was raising funds for the American Cancer Society.  Obviously, that is very near and dear to me now.

The mud run was over in the Riverside area, and their latest wave was earlier than I normally like when driving that distance, but I went.

It was okay.  There is no way it was the 5K distance they promised me since I was done, cleaned up, and changed in an hour.  Okay, so there was hardly anyone there, which made it easier, but still, I don’t feel like I would have finished that quickly.

Then again, there weren’t a ton of obstacles, which usually slow me down.  And what they had wasn’t that challenging.  There were really only three muddy spots, and they were more liquid than thick mud.

However, I know if I were to ever organize a mud run, it would wind up looking at this, so I can’t complain too loudly.

The best part of the trip was getting to have lunch with Julie, one of my Trixie friends who lives in the area.  I haven’t seen her for a while, so it was fun to chat.  We probably could have talked for longer, but I wanted to get home.  It was about a two hour drives back, and it was Hallmark’s ornament premier, and I wanted to go spend some money and get home to rest.

I got an e-mail today that they are working on doing it again next year.  I’m not sure if I will be back or not.  It will depend on many other things.  I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t set my calendar around it.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Two More Losses

Yep, my summer league team is continuing our losing ways.  We had another blow out two weeks ago.  We did well in the second half, but with the hole we’d dug for ourselves, it was still a 7-15 loss.

Last week, our game was on Tuesday, so we had a lighter turn out.  That also means I played much more than I usually do.  I did fairly well at that.  Actually, I’m feeling pretty well about how I’m doing in summer league overall.  I think it’s because I’m not feeling super pressured each time I’m on the field.  I’m relaxed, so I’m doing better.  What a difference the team makes, right?

Anyway, even though we were low on numbers, we did well.  We still lost, but it was 13-15.  We tied it up multiple times, and we were even ahead late in the game by one point.  It would have been wonderful to pull off a win, but it didn’t happen.  There’s always this coming week, right?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Anniversary Party

Exactly one week ago was my parent’s 50th anniversary.  So I went home this last weekend.  I actually headed up on Thursday and came back on Monday.  And Saturday, my brother, sister-in-law, and I threw them a party.

It was a fairly simple thing, an open house type of party but many of the people stayed much of the time.  That was a good thing since some of the actual events didn’t take place until the second half since some family coming from way out of town got stuck in traffic.  But no one seemed to mind since they were having fun talking to each other.

We had put together a quiz, and we had some fun going over the correct answers to that.  The my uncle, a retired administrative judge, put my parents on trial for being in love.  Yep, we all found them guilty as charged.  He called up family and friends to be witnesses, and it was a lot of fun.

We used a multi-purpose room at my brother’s church for the event.  It looked great thanks to the decorations my sister-in-law had made and a few I had bought as well.  And we had Cheesecake Factory cheesecake for dessert, which was a huge hit.

Most importantly, my parents had a wonderful time.  Mom was grinning the entire time, and I could tell Dad was enjoying himself as well.  Everyone seemed to think it went well.  I’m just thankful for my brother and sister-in-law in all of this.  They live in the same town as my parents, so a lot of this fell on them, and they did a great job of pulling all of it off.  Not to mention they have much more experience with this kind of thing than I do, so they were able to use that expertise to make sure we had the correct amount of everything.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer League Game 3

Monday night was the third summer league game of the season, and the only one not an hour drive away.  I was pumped since I didn’t have to spend so long fighting traffic.  We had another great turn out, and the other team was small in numbers.

Unfortunately, they had great players, who played very well.  It was never really super close, with them beating us 15-7.  It’s hard to point at any particular thing as several people seemed to have off nights.  I know I was about average.  I connected well on a couple of points, and completely threw it away the last time I had the disc.  However, I appreciate the fact that I am getting the disc when I am on the field.  For too many years, I have been ignored, so this is a very positive development.

Our next game is Tuesday.  I think we are due for a win then, right?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Irvine Lake Mud Run 2018

Yep, back to back mud run weekends in June.  Saturday I was down at Irvine Lake for their mud run this year.  They were proudly talking about it being the tenth anniversary.  Sadly, I missed the first one, so I’ve only been going there for nine years.

The weather was cool.  Not so cold that I was cold before or after my shower at the end, which is wonderful, but much cooler than it was the week before at Camp Pendleton.  Usually, it’s the reverse.

The crowds were once again smaller than they used to be.  But that meant the cleanup time at the shower was easier since I didn’t have to wait as long.  And it meant I had less of a walk to and from my car, which was a blessing since the people who were supposed to run the bag check never showed up, so I had to stash my stuff in the car.  I was not happy about that at all, believe me.

But the run itself?  Fun as always.  I love the mud slide, which I went down twice.  They don’t have quite as many mud pits as they used to have, but they have plenty to get us good and muddy.  And the setting is beautiful even if the lake has gone down due to the drought.

Afterwards, I went to hang out with some family friends.  I actually took some back roads to get there, and they were only 20 minutes away.  We grabbed lunch and then watched a couple of movies.  It was a lot of fun to hang out with them.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Win!

My wish actually happened.  We won our second summer league ultimate Frisbee game, which means we are 1-1.

I actually showed up lateish since I got distracted running errands in town and didn’t leave on time.  I was about 20 minutes late, but we were just getting started.  The game was super close.  We were only behind a couple of times, and then only by one point.  We were ahead at the end 12-10, which was the biggest point gap we had all night.

Yes, games are to 15.  But the lights went out right at 10PM, so the game was called on account of darkness.  A win is a win.  I’ll take it.

There were some truly epic points that went on and on and on.  I wasn’t on the field for any of them, but they were tiring to just watch.  I can only imagine if I’d been on the field.

I played my four points, all of the in the first half this time.  We scored when I was in, and we were able to take advantage of them leaving me poached to get the disc and pass it on.  I don’t remember being involved in any turn overs for a change, too.

All in all, it was a great game.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Camp Pendleton Mud Run 2018

This past Saturday was the Camp Pendleton Mud Run for 2018.  It was a blast!

The weather was warm.  I really can’t believe it was only upper 70’s because it felt hotter than that.  Yes, I was running, but even just from walking beforehand, I was very hot.  Still, it was better than last year when I froze the entire time I was waiting to start.

The course itself was pretty much the same as always.  They did add a couple of new things that prove I’m not good at hitting targets, at least on the first try.  We were supposed to through fake grenades in a box, but I came up short.  And I missed at the targets they set up in combat town.  Oh well.

My left hamstring has been bothering me some off and on for the past few months, so I took it fairly easy.  I walked more than I might have, for example, especially since my desk chair at work is giving me fits.  I didn’t want to push it and wind up injured.  Still, I finished in roughly 1 hour 45 minutes, which beat my time last year and is fairly average for me.  I’m quite happy with that.

And, honestly, I’m thrilled I was able to do it at all.  I had signed up before I got my cancer diagnosis, and I spent a couple of months thinking I wouldn’t get to do it at all.  When they confirmed I had stage one, I immediately put this back on my calendar.  I didn’t feel I was as trained as I wanted to be, but I guess I was wrong about that.

This was year nine in a row.  They’ve already announced that next year it is on June 8, and registration is open.  I need to jump on that to get the lowest price.  I am going for 10 years in a row.

Friday, June 08, 2018

First Summer League Game

It’s the first week of June, so that means it is time for summer league to start up again.  Can you believe it?

And I bet you can guess how my team did in our first game.  Yep, we lost.  7-15.  Seems like I’m going to be in for another long season.

It does sound like we have several women who weren’t there who are very good.  Nothing against our women who were there because they were very involved, but it was obvious that the majority of them hadn’t played much before.  Again, this is how you learn, but too many new players on the field at the same time makes things a little difficult.  Still, as I said, they played very well.

And overall it seems like it will be a good team.  Which is a good thing since there was some drama getting me on a team this year.  Even though I requested Mondays off, I got put on a team that had the majority Monday games.  Fortunately, they were able to switch me to a team with a majority of Tuesday games.  We have just one Monday game, and it actually works perfectly with my schedule.

I just would really like a winning record.  Is that too much to ask?  Or even a break even record with enough victories at the end to go out on a highish note.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Bowling for Rhinos

A month ago, back at the beginning of May, I got to go bowling again!  My friend Angelique recruited me to be part of her team at a fundraiser for rhino care all over the world.  The only down side was that it was the final week of beach league, so I had to race home, shower, and then race down to Glendale.  Otherwise, I might have hung out at the beach.

That aside, I had a lot of fun.  It was crowded with other things going on like raffles and a silent auction.  I didn’t participate in any of them, but I had had fun bowling.

We only got two games in during our assigned times.  The event is so popular they have three different shifts, but a group of kids bowling earlier.  My scores for the two games were 134 and 109.  Once again, started out well and then dipped.

But I had a blast.  I got to meet a few members of Angelique’s family, and they were very nice.  And it convinced me I needed to find a way to bowl again on a regular basis.