Dave

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work...

I'm sure it isn't necessary to write a long explanation for limited postings and excuses for not filling the pages with images of Tasty Treats and such; you get it that I'm a busy, busy guy. But I will tell you that the transition into my new job has been quite a hoot.

You would think this would be really easy. I swapped from being a defense contractor working for the Air Force to being an Air Force Civilian working in the same office. I literally picked up my coffee cup and moved from a cubicle into an office sitting 5 feet away. I can sit at my new executive style desk and see my old modular furniture work station. The point being, this isn't rocket science. I work in the same office, and while my duties and responsibilities have changed, I am doing pretty much the same thing for the same people as I have been doing for the past almost decade. So why is it so hard?

On my last payday with my former employer (a worldwide telecommunications corporation that I would gladly work for again without hesitation) my wife called up our bank to see what the final deposit was. There was no final deposit. Nice. A few phone calls later, I learned that they actually send a check versus making a final direct deposit into your account. And this is convenient for who? And they were going to tell me this when? So we got the check the next day. No biggie.

As you can imagine, there is a procedure for in-processing into a new job. Just like people who work in big corporations or medical facilities, you have to have identification cards. The military uses a CAC or Common Access Card. I like it when people say CAC Card. Anyway, this CAC allows you access to the military installation as well as access to your computer network to get e-mail and such. The CAC also serves as a way of signing your signature electronically. So when you have to do training for instance, by inserting your CAC into a reader (just like you would push an SD card from your camera into your computer), the computer prompts you for your PIN (I like it when people say PIN Number) it knows that you are you.

Now you would think that as soon as you in-process, fill out all the insurance paperwork, complete the direct deposit forms, taking an oath to support and defend and such, they would march you right over and get you one of these fancy CAC's so you could be identified as an employee and log into the computer to do the required training and such. I know, this is easy stuff. But it took me a week of calling and prodding to get an Airman who felt sorry for me and helped me get my CAC. By the way, my picture looks extremely slim compared to the one I took 35 pounds ago.

When I excitedly went back to my old computer at my old modular furniture desk (because the new computer in my new office was not up and running yet), I inserted my CAC, entered my PIN and like magic my old e-mail account in my role as a defense contractor came right up. So I got that going for me.

Meanwhile, I had a lot of required training to complete and new accounts to establish. Unfortunately, if my CAC identified me as a defense contractor, I could not do the training or sign -up for the accounts. Are you starting to see where this is going?

It took me from the 12th of October until the 26th of October in order to get my computer account established. They keep logs of these things so they can track issues and by the morning of the 26th, over 30 different people had been involved in the creating of my e-mail account.

Now consider this: If you called Time Warner Cable or AT&T or any of the other Internet Service Providers and you ordered yourself up some Internet, do you think you would sit around and wait for two weeks to get e-mail before you called them and said, "No, thanks. I'll go with your competitor."? Oh, and to top it off, a co-worker of mine called a friend of his who works where they create the accounts and gave him a heads up that we were about to get the whole e-mail account issue brought up to the General; magically, my e-mail worked in less than 10 minutes.

I guess I could go on and on about this like a big whiner and even tell you about yesterday, my first pay day with the government where once again, I did not get paid (and we got that resolved too), but I think the bigger point is this: Why in the world would you trust the government to handle something as big as health care when they cannot effectively create a freakin' e-mail account without 30 different people getting involved and the threat of a General being called? You know I don't do political here, but really, it does put things into perspective.

On the up side of things, I find the new job to be very hectic and I feel like I'm on the receiving end of a fire hose. I seriously can go three or four hours and realize I have had to pee the whole time and just couldn't find a stopping point to get up and go. Perhaps I'll order a coffee can installed. This does make 8 hours zoom by. And the next 2 hours as well. Yea; my wife has not been as pleased about the longer work days, but eventually I'm sure it will level off.

I work with a lot of real geeks. Friday I was grabbing a quick cup of coffee and there was a guy in the lounge asking me some questions and we had at least a three minute conversation. As I was walking back to my office, it occurred to me that I was just standing there talking to a guy wearing a Star Trek uniform. The feared red shirt - you always know that if a guy joins Kirk and Spock on a mission to a new planet and he is wearing a red shirt, he will be killed. It's a rule. Anyway, I got back to my office and it occurred to me that with Halloween coming up on Sunday, perhaps this guy was in costume. I actually got back up and went and found the guy and asked where he got his costume. Dude had no idea what on earth I was talking about. Talk about phasers on stun.

That's it for now. Lot's of stuff to do this weekend - perhaps there will be a picture or two of some good vittles to post.

9 comments:

Four Dinners said...

We now have pumpkins and trick or treat in England.

I should hate you but I don't.

Anyone throws eggs at my window as I fail to give them a treat will die painfully.

If they happen to be American - which is unlikely - I will settle for kneecapping them...;-)

Dave said...

Just be glad if the trick or treaters are little kids. Here, Halloween has turned into an adult event with people dressing up as Antoine Dodsen!

As I recall from my time in the U.K., didn't you have a Halloween-like day called Guy Fawkes Day or something?

Mike Yager said...

Re: Health Care
I take your point, bureaucracy sucks and military bureaucracy really sucks (rather curious that we are always trumpeting how our military is the best), but, knowing what we know now, would you entrust something as big as health care to the entrepreneurial, free enterprising, business knows best folks who gave us the healthcare system we have now? and also the banking system, so-called customer service, and much of the corruption that pollutes our government. Just asking. Not looking for an argument

Dave said...

That is a fair question. A simple yes or no response by itself is "Yes." The more accurate answer though would take way too long and cross that line of getting all political which I just don't want to do.

Suffice it to say, I think there are problems with the existing employer paid for, insurance based system. However, it is my belief that much of the problems we have today are a result of two things: Government paying for medical treatment - an opportunity for fraud, waste and abuse, and defensive medical practices based upon frivolous law-suits gone wild.

It is easy for someone like me who has medical coverage to say that everything is fine the way it is; I don't. I just don't agree that the government taking over the entire medical system is the way you fix the problems.

Of course, if I had all the answers, I'd be in charge; not a guy who takes pictures of hamburgers and posts them on the Internet for fun.

Sabra said...

In all honesty, I have met very few people who were ever on the receiving end of government healthcare who support the concept. It's mainly people who have private insurance and who grew up with private insurance who think the government can do better.

I had two kids at Military Treatment Facilities and one at a civilian hospital. The MTF was breathtakingly behind the times. They still did things like routine episiotomies (which the ACOG spoke out against in 1997--this was '02 & '04). I lost count of how many different doctors I saw while pregnant with my first child--I only ever saw one twice. I had THREE different doctors during my labor and delivery. When I had my youngest daughter in a civilian hospital, I thought I had died & gone to Heaven. People were nice to me. I was handed my daughter as soon as she was born and the nurses were actually knowledgeable about breast-feeding.

I've had civilian experience with government-supplied healthcare too. I had a doctor tell me when I was 16 that I had arthritis. That was it. I had hip problems later that year, & no one was able to figure out what the heck the issue was--but man was I the entertainment of the day a few times!

See, I don't support government-run health care because I know first-hand what it's like.

frankvw said...

Great. I just retired from the AF and start my govt civilian job on Monday. Looks like I have a lot of buffoonery to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Dave: Yes you are whining. And you have a very inefficient computer support area! (supported by Lackland no doubt, they are the worst) We just got a new contractor (not even govt) and they had a computer in 2 days.

My favorite is, you have to do Information Assurance Training (which is online) before we can give you computer access.....ummmmmm

Brian

Deb said...

After I read your blog, I had to check the headlines to make sure the new health care laws hadn't changed. They hadn't. It's not "government-run health care." "It's a system that builds upon the private health care that's already in place" (Factcheck.org). Ironically, most of the good ideas involved in the new health care plan were Republican ideas to begin with--back when it was just an idea that everyone was begging for. (I'm an Independent, but I have more faith in fiscal decisions when they are Republican. It's just my own bias.)

I also fear the huge beaurocracy that will emerge, though. I think the closest I've been to experiencing military health care was being involved with Kaiser-Permanente several years ago. It was indeed sucky, but, like you, I'm just glad I was covered.

Mike Yager said...

Dave, thanks for your measured, sensible reply to my question. You make good points. My answer to my question as you probably can guess would be "No," but like your "Yes" it is a qualified no. I am alarmed by the unrestrained rapaciousness of our current health system, its widespread lack of adequate, affordable care,and its all too common inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Since I see no willingness overall of the system to reform itself I look reluctantly to the government to ameliorate the consequences of our corporatized system. Far from an ideal solution I know.
As Sabra's comment shows, personal experience influences our thoughts on medical care. She has received substandard care at military facilities and good care at civilian facilities. My experience has been mixed. By and large I and my family received adequate to very good care from military facilities although the bureaucracy was no better than the civilian system. I currently have a wonderful civilian physician. My elderly mother on the other hand has in the last few years often received care that I can only describe as callous, uncaring, and unconcerned--every bit of it from civilians. For example, readmitted to a hospital within a month of surgery in the same hospital, the hospital had no record of her surgery thus complicating the care she needed on her readmission. Some of the personal indignities she has suffered are too humiliating to mention in a public forum. So, I understand Sabra's feelings and I thank her for sharing them. I hope she and others like her can understand why I might feel differently.
Thanks to Deb for pointing out the origins of much of the recent health care law's provisions.
Finally, thank you Dave for letting me presume upon your good will in making my comments on your site.

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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