340: FRUSTRATION plus one, times infinity

I don’t KNOW any expletives of sufficient strength and quality for this, and I have an impressive vocabulary of both G and X rated cuss words. Cuss you never know when you’re gonna need ’em, and when you might just need to use all of them at once. Like now.

I have a sincere, abject apology to make to Morocco. I just thought they had their head up their a…….bums. Not so. I have learned that Morocco is astonishingly efficient and competent in handling government documents……compared to Panama. Now, Panama has had a long and intimate relationship with the USA, and you would THINK (and you would be WRONG) that the get-‘er-done American attitude would also have taken effect in Panama – oh, heck no.

I believe, honestly and sincerely, that the attitude in Panama for government employees (hell, spread that toe jam out to any employee in any business here whatsoever) is that the longer you can delay doing anything useful to help anybody, the more secure your own job will forever be, because the line of people waiting for your attention (read: lack thereof) NEVER, EVER gets any shorter, thus proving that you are a vital and necessary part of the Panamanian economy, and therefore, worth keeping in the position you currently occupy. I am not joking. I wish I was joking.

These people specialize in the art of delaying progress. There is another document you don’t have that is vital to completing this mission – and when you have it, it must be photocopied (and they don’t make copies here, thank you very much) and notarized first. When you have THAT one, then there is another one you also don’t have, that we did not tell you about when we told you about the first one you did not have, that you now do have – do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. And believe me, there is NO LIMIT to the number of times they can play this game out – I think there is an office lottery for stringing people along using this particular ploy………..

Then there are the “professionals” who you pay money to, who then just don’t show up – and then who call you AFTER the scheduled meeting which they did not make it to, to reschedule: MULTIPLE times. NEVER pay these mofos ANY money up front for ANYthing. That is the only way you have a prayer of getting anything accomplished before you DIE.

FML. Seriously.

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339: Bright Ideas

Where do ideas come from? Some of mine are reasonable and sensible, and some of  them come from the little green men from Mars who whispered into my ears while I was sleeping last night. I do NOT know where some of these things come from, and I most certainly do not claim authorship. Our son (my husband’s son) Tim has some  amazing ideas that are actually fairly logical, when you can stop laughing long enough to think about the situation.

Tim lives with his mother, and her new husband, Tim’s stepfather. As is typical in these  family situations, Tim was wont to refer to his biological father as “my real dad.” In his five-year-old logical little mind, that obviously made this other man, his stepfather, his “fake dad.” Boy, would I have loved to have been a fly on the wall when that one came out of his innocent and quite logical little mouth. I still cannot but help snickering when I think about “fake dad.”

I had one of those moments, when I was a small child, too. I was with my grandmother in the yard of her home, and “we” were working in her flowerbeds, weeding and watering her flowers. She had a waterhose, and I wanted to water flowers, too. So, I toddled over to the workshed and got  an axe that was laying with the other tools, and I went and chopped the hose in two, so I could have a hose, and she could have a hose. It made perfect sense to me – divide it in two, and we each will have a piece to work with. Until grandmama came around the corner to the house, seeking to discover what was wrong with her water hose that was no longer producing water.  She found me, happily watering flowers with my half of the hose, which was, of course, working just fine, thank you. The wrath of God might possibly explain what occurred next. My grandpapa chided her for her punishment of me (possibly the only time he ever took up for me) and  told her that it was a perfectly logical thing to do, even if the results were less than satisfactory.

I still get ideas like that, unfortunately.

338: Personal Motivation

People all over this world accomplish things large and small though their own personal motivation. Motivation can be a powerful force for both good and bad. Unfortunately, like a great many things that matter a great deal, personal motivation remains a nebulous, abstract concept that is fluid and flexible, and not remotely the same (inspiration or results) person to person. It’s complex, even though we all recognize it when we see it in action.

To make motivation even more confusing a concept, it is even fluid and changeable within a single individual, depending on  the circumstances.

I saw this in action in Harrison Ford’s movie “Bladerunner.” Ford’s robot-hunting police officer character is interviewing an individual in order to determine whether she is, in fact an individual (human), or if she is, instead a cleverly programmed human-imitating, life-like looking, android robot.

He asked her a series of questions that illustrate the changeable and sometimes contradictory notion of human motivation. He asks her what would she do if she found a neighbor’s child abusing an animal. She answers she’d report him to the authorities. Then he asks what she’d do if she discovered her own child pulling the wings off of flies, and she answers that she’d take him to the doctor to get help. Then he asks her what she’d do if she discovered a wasp on her own arm, and she instantly, with no apparent recognition of or concern for the inconsistency of the logic of her own motivation, answers “I’d kill it.”

People are like that. Which way I am gonna jump in any situation depends on a great many things, including the mood I am in at the moment, how others have treated me today (or even yesterday/last week/anytime in my previous life history), and even maybe what I had for freaking breakfast – let alone the enduring moral or ethical values I govern my life by.

Some of us make an honest and sincere effort to govern our lives by motivations of enduring moral and ethical behavior, grounded in a profound personal sense of ultimate truth and values.

Others go into politics, or become criminals – but then, I repeat myself.

337: El Ladron

One thing about moving to another country is becoming acquainted with culture and a new language. Panama’s language is Spanish. El ladron is one noun I’d rather not have become familiar with. It means “the thief.” Yep. I met a robber up close and personal – a whole lot more up close and personal than I would have preferred.

There is a settling-in phase anytime you move to a new location, even if you are not moving country. You must find all the suppliers for all of your various and assorted needs: haircuts, doctors, insurance, groceries, hardware, veterinarian (if you have fur children), and other necessities – including where the local police station is. That one, again, I would just as soon have put off finding out about. Like, oh say – for about 40 years or so.

Now, when you are in the actual process of being mugged, for those of you who have not yet had this delightful experience, let me assure you that it happens very quickly, and not quickly enough all at the same time. It is actually quite similar to a roller coaster ride. Short and violent. Unlike a roller coaster, though, you don’t get to keep your wallet or purse. Or anything else of value.

Because I react before I think sometimes, I found myself in a tug-of-war with this particular young thug, and because I fought back, jerking my bag between us until the straps tore OFF, my house keys (which had been clipped to the strap) fell to the road, and he did not get them, plus a few other essential items that got shaken out of the bag as well. YES. I KNOW you are not supposed to fight back, especially when it is just belongings that can be replaced. I KNOW, when my brain is engaged. It wasn’t engaged, it was pissed off that this punk kid wanted my things, and was willing to attack me to get them. I KNOW, I KNOW. I could be dead right now. I KNOW, and I realized that after the straps tore off the bag, leaving HIM holding the bag, and me clutching two ripped-off straps.

S$&*. S#@^. S^*@. And some more S^*#. I am coming to the conclusion that Panama might not be the retirement place I was looking for……..

336: Following Directions

As a teacher, I give my students directions to follow to complete assignments in class. The directions generally specify such things as hand-written or word-processed, what size font is acceptable, what formatting protocol is to be followed,  the expected length of the paper, and other such things. Along with this page or two of directions, there is a rubric that will be used to score the final product, so students can see what will be evaluated, and how the assignment will be scored.

I do this because there will be directions that they have to follow in order to complete many tasks as adults – this is real-life training. to get a license to drive, there are procedures to follow, documents to bring, and steps to complete. If you do not read the directions, you will make many wasted trips, and perhaps will never attain your goal, the license to drive you were working on getting in the first place.  When you visit the doctor, often you will be prescribed medication – and told when to take it and how much of it to take for however many days. If you do not follow the doctor’s directions, you may not get well, and may even have to go to the hospital.  Sometimes the directions are very important! If you do not mix the infant formula according to the package directions, and sterilize the bottles like you are instructed to do, you can make your baby very sick, and perhaps even kill your beloved child, all because you did not read and follow the instructions.  Sometimes directions matter VERY much.

Now, as to following directions for class assignments. Just because you did your papers one way last year, with another teacher, does not mean that this year, with a different teacher, things will automatically be exactly the same. It usually means that things will NOT be the same! Not reading your assignment directions is a very foolish thing to do.

I advised a co-curricular youth vocational organization for over ten years as a public high school teacher. This organization sponsored state and national competitions each year, and my chapters, in the schools where I taught, prepared carefully each year to participate in those competitions. I would run copies of each event’s rules and instructions and give that copy to the student or group of students who were competing in that event. I warned each group to use those rules as a checklist, and to literally mark off each rule and instruction as they prepared their competitive event display or project, to be absolutely sure that we did not forget or overlook any tiny detail that was specified in the rules.  As a result, my competition teams and students consistently scored very well in the competitions, and brought home many trophies. We actually won some events because other teams got disqualified for not following the rules of the contest, and our teams won because our students DID read the directions.

This was excellent training for my students – and we got used to winning trophies because we were very careful about following the rules. We were NEVER disqualified, because we read the directions!

Now, if I can impress upon my current students that this is the way to do things – we might get a better quality student, and better assignments! Perhaps I need to sponsor competitive events like we used to do for these students, too. This is an idea that might work!

335: The Green Monster

Fluff-man is insanely jealous.

My neighbor across the lawn rescued three calico female kittens from a dumpster, and I took photos, made up a flyer and posted it at our 400+ student school, hoping to help get them adopted out. No such luck. Not a single nibble. So, I took one.

kitties 002

She is a cute little seven-week old, frisky and loving little lady, who attacks my hand in play fights while I am reading on the couch, and then licks the places she play bites in apology. She’s such a sweetie I named her Dulce – the Spanish word for sweet. She and I are getting along just fine. Caruso, my man-kitty buddy, a chunky, handsome tiger-striped brown boy, is fascinated with her and wants to play – but he’s a little big and she is scared of him still. So, he contents himself with lying nearby and watching her antics. Fez, my champagne and white regal lady kitty, is disdainful, but she contents herself with growling under her breath, and occasionally hissing as she strolls majestically past the little interloper.

The problem is Fluff-man. He is INSANELY jealous. Whenever he spots her, he distorts his handsome kitty face with the evilest-looking hiss (issued repeatedly), and he growls so furiously and loudly at little Dulce that it is almost howling. You can hear his mental wheels turning loud and clear – that little s*&$ is getting pets from MY MAMA, and I HATE HER GUTS. I came home from work yesterday to find Dulce mewing piteously, sitting forlornly on top of the drapery rod, just beneath the ceiling, where she had obviously climbed to escape Fluff-man’s furious swats.  Fluff outweighs her 10 to 1, so this is a real issue for the little girl.

Today, I set her up with food and water bowls and a private kitty potty in the unused second bedroom, and I shut the door. Her ”I am abandoned” wails were difficult to hear, but I’d rather she be a little lonely than hurt. My unrepentant, furious Morocco boy kitty is acting like a Muslim meeting a Jew for the first time. It’s not pretty.

I am hoping that time will temper the fury and I can convince Fluff that this new little furry face does not mean I love him any less.

334: Movieland

I have movies I have seen that left  me wondering what in the world I spent nearly two hours watching that for? What a waste. And then, there are those magical ones that you actually search out to purchase. The good ones. The really GOOD ones.  My favorite ones are an eclectic mix of romance, science fiction, comedy, horror and drama. I used to enjoy going to the movie theater to see them, but not any more. There are  too many people who have cell phones and don’t mind at all having them go off during the movie, and carrying on long, involved conversations, usually right in the middle of the best parts of the film.

Much better to see them in my own home, where I can get popcorn that does not cost an arm and a leg, and I can pause the movie if I have to visit the restroom – and MY restroom is clean, thank you very much. And I don’t (usually) have to wait in line. Much better all the way around – I don’t even have to dress up! And the movie does not start until I am ready for it to start, and I can have a warm, purring kitty in my lap, all of which does not happen at the theater.

What are some of my good ones? Enemy Mine, Galaxy Quest, Cold Mountain, Tank Girl, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Sommersby, Gone With the Wind, Braveheart, Mad Max, Waterworld, The Postman, Road Warrior, Tim, The Thorn Birds, The Bad Seed, Titanic, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies,  Zombieland, Barry Lyndon, Ben Hur, Bull Durham, Dr. Zhivago, and a host of others I can’t recall right now, but they know they are my faves.

What are your faves? Which are the ones that come first to YOUR mind?