Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Not exactly like riding a bike

Yesterday was the end of the semester and the children didn't have school, so I sent Child 2 off on a trip to Florida with her band and they promised they would not set the bus on fire this year. Although, technically it wasn't their fault last year. Sweet Child 2 that she is, she asked me if I wanted anything from the parks, I said no, just drink some butterbeer and take lots of photos. So she sent me two pictures. Of a duck.

Because Child 3 would have been home all alone, I took the day off and we did her favorite thing ever which is to go to the mall and go ice skating. Now, I haven't been ice skating in a few years, but I was pretty good back in the day and even took lessons as a kid. I have a big scar on my lip to prove it. However, this was before all the ankle breaking and I had forgotten just how strong your ankles need to be in order to ice skate, which is to say, ice skating is no fun when you have weak ankles. Also, it was so windy outside at the rink that if you stood in the center, a gust of wind would come and push you into the wall. So that lasted about three times around the rink and then we went back inside and shopped.

I know, you are thinking, why would I spend my day off shopping when it is torture to try on clothes, and you are right except that my favorite pair of jeans, OK, my ONLY pair of jeans is wearing out and I needed to replace them. But, I had a strategy which involved going to the same store I bought them in two years ago and buying another pair. It actually worked, and I now have two whole pairs of jeans that fit! I know. It's some kind of miracle. Then I tried on about 30 pairs of pants for work, none of which fit at all, so my shopping karma is in tact.

So now I want to talk about the clearance process. For those of you unfamiliar with government work, you might not understand that every single thing that gets written and is seen by the public, or even stuff never seen by the public, must be cleared. That means that everyone has to agree on every single word or it won't get published. Many, many very good ideas die a slow and painful death during clearance and sometimes what you end up with is completely unintelligible and doesn't even mean what you meant anymore. I've mentioned before how I had one manager who every time I wrote "beginning on" would change it to "effective" which drives me crazy. No one in the real world says effective tomorrow we will now have dinner at 6:30 instead of 7:00. Ugh. But that is only one small stupidity and what happens during the clearance process is even worse.

Let me give an example that isn't an actual example. Say you work for a company that makes motorcycles and you have been tasked to write a safety manual for a particular kind of bike. So you talk to the engineers and some safety experts and you look at previous manuals and you start writing and after a few months, you have a very clear and user friendly manual. So then you send it to clearance. And someone changes the word speed to velocity. Every single time. And you think, ok, speed and velocity kind of mean the same thing, so alright. And then someone says you have put the section on the accelerator next to the section on brakes and they should be separated by the section on pedals. And you say but motorcycles don't have pedals and the accelerator is on the handle bars and they say they won't clear it until you move it. So you move it. And then someone says you don't have a section on how to properly wear a helmet. And you think, ok, so that's not exactly about motorcycles but you can see how it's related so you write one, but you draw the line at including a section on how to wear your hair under the helmet, even though you totally get that one could be distracted enough by bad helmet hair that one stops paying attention and crashes. But still, this is a motorcycle safety manual, not a fashion manual.

And then, someone says I don't see a section here on hybrid engines. And you say, this company doesn't make hybrid motorcycles. And they say that you should and you should include in your manual how they are better for the environment. And you say yes, but we don't make them and I can't write a manual for a motorcycle that doesn't exist. And they say a Toyota Prius is a hybrid and you say yes. But we are not Toyota and a motorcycle is not a Prius. And they say I won't clear until you show me the section on hybrids. Which you can't write, because no one in the company knows anything about hybrid motorcycles because they don't exist. So your manual doesn't get cleared and now no one knows about motorcycle safety and people still keep asking when your manual will be finished and the answer is never. Never ever because it was cleared to death!

So that is what the clearance process is like. And don't ask me again because it's still far to painful because that stupid motorcycle safety manual is one of my work requirements and now I have to explain in my EER that clearance killed it and I will never ever get promoted. Ugh! And that is how the rest of my week went and why I had a migraine yesterday and why my eyebrow keeps twitching.

Not smiling for 40 years is not better than a brownie. Apparently, to avoid wrinkles, this woman hasn't smiled or laughed for 40 years. To be sure, she does look younger than 50.

But no matter how many wrinkles you get, eventually you will still die. And when I die, it will be after having lived a life full of smiles and laughter. I kind of love my crow's feet because they are evidence of happiness--laughing with my children and friends and smiling when Husband tries to help Child 2 with French (he doesn't speak French) and letting my face light up when I Skype with Child 1 so she knows how happy I am to see her, and laughing with Child 3 when we got blown into the side of the ice rink on the windiest skating trip ever. I earned every one of those little lines and I love them. Plus a smile takes off 10 years anyway, so those wrinkles get canceled out and I still get to look younger and happy. It's a win/win!

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