Frontier Former Editor

December 21, 2008

Workplace sanitation and Russian military aircraft

My current employer (‘a leader in solutions for the business community’) apparently hasn’t a clue when it comes to solutions for its community of workers.

Case in point: Restroom facilities.

On Friday, we had staffers from our client (‘a leader in solutions for bank customers that ISN’T getting bailed out yet’ – not a bad selling point these days) visit the site to see how well we can do the job at about 75% of the cost of the client’s regular employees. Of course, so as to not show the visitors what heathens and savages we are, we were barred from using the front restrooms so they could mess them up, have illicit sex in private, etc.

Perhaps more details is required here. The building has four restrooms: a mass facility each for male and female and each capable of handling about 8 simultaneous excretors (I don’t frequent of surveil the ladies room, so maybe Chuck Berry could come in handy here), and a one-holer for male and female up front. During daytime hours, the building has about 300 people working.

To add to the normal hilarity, maintenance will shut down one mass facility – usually during peak break times – for cleaning.

I won’t begin to address the age-old ‘potty parity’ issue here except to say that our corporation needs to revise its standard floor plan for new call centers.

Back to Friday.

In the midst of trying to impress our client, our computer link with the client’s customer service software crashed for three hours. I was on my extended midday break and missed that fun, but they saved some for me for my evening shift.

A sequence of two e-mails announced that the men’s mass facility would be shut down that day since the single water shutoff valve handled both mass rooms. Since the visitors had left, the two front one-holers would be men-only.

Five minutes later, the internal e-mail service announced that both mass facilities would be shut down for construction, leaving one one-holer for men and one for women that evening. Even with about 100 people on evening/night shift, the front plumbing was running pretty heavily.

That arrangement persisted all day Saturday., when about 250 people were on duty.  Now, applied probability and statistics pretty well guarantees that, even with just adults in the user group, someone’s going to have some sort of catastrophic or extended incident during their visit. And even more application makes it likely that someone having such an incident will not have the decency to clean up after themselves.

That held true. In euphemistic terms, if Lee Harvey Oswald had dropped about two or three mils on his sighting on John F. Kennedy, the lower interior of his limousine would have looked much like the adjacent floor and wall tiles of the men’s toilet.

Saturday was an interesting day. When the computer system crashed again across our building and our client’s main facility, it was a relief when several of us were given early outs. Missing two hours pay was worth it to get the hell out of there. Otherwise we might have been assigned in shifts to burn diesel oil on drums of human waste.

What of Russian military aviation, you might be asking? The site manager had sent out another e-mail Friday, congratulating us for suitably impressing the client delegation  and for the wonderful military-themed bulletin board honoring our client’s main customer base. As I was heading out the door, one photo on the board caught my eye since I’m a bit of  an aviation enthusiast.

Amid all those photos of American servicemembers sacrificing themselves and defending our freedom was a photo of a Sukhoi Su-27.

Do svidaniya

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October 17, 2008

Guess what I got to do before work?

I miss living near air bases and I miss my old line of work. It gave me reasons to get out of the office and do this under the guise of reporting:

I could give you the pedantic planespottter spiel, but I’ll leave it to these folks . . .

It helps when the airport manager remembers what you’ve done before and gives you only one warning.

“Don’t walk near anything moving or sucking.”

Might have been good advice for Bill Clinton.

April 3, 2008

Of great white hopes . . . .

Filed under: ancient history, Cold War, dumbasses, history, tragedy — Tags: , , , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 3:54 pm

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As my Canadian acquaintances will note, the Avro Arrow was a world-beater of a design which died an abrupt and painful death because the United States had something cheaper and supposedly better available.

And so did something American, cheaper and supposedly better help kill the TSR. 2.

The TSR. 2 died its rather brutal, quick and typically British bureaucratic death because of a combination of factors, although the promise of the American F-111, a clapped-out modification of the F-4 Phantom, and leftover Royal Navy S2 Buccaneers helped push along the process.

Granted, the TSR. 2 probably would have suffered its share of technological teething pains if the project had stayed alive. But those problems would not have been any worse than those suffered by the F-111 or many other contemporary military and civilian aircraft.

And if its development had continued . . . . what a world-beater it would have been.

Sadly enough, the gentleman exiting the cockpit at the end – Roland Beamont – helped preside at the gestation of two legendary British aircraft: the Hawker Typhoon and the English Electric Canberra and was poised to the be midwife for another if the TSR. 2 had survived. 

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Google some of the histories of the TSR. 2 or, better yet, go find some books on the subject. If one compares it to the development and acquisition of the Hawker Hunter and other postwar British types, it makes one wonder if Britain as an institution was aiming for technological suicide.

On a lesser scale, my personal disgust for Dick Cheney began long before that scumbag declared himself vice president. As Secretary of Defense in 1988, he helped scuttle the F-14D Tomcat – what the Tomcat could have been 15 years earlier and what could have kept the U.S. carrier fleet a viable instrument of power as opposed to a deck full of short-ranged jets. 

It would have been a bargain, since the cost of remanufacturing more than 400 Tomcats and producing about 200 new F-14D’s would have been, per plane, about a third of the cost of a now-new F-18E Super Hornet. But Cheney pushed for its demise and for the development of a new fighter which, in one of its big selling points in advertisements and literature by McDonnell Douglas, could bring back more underwing stores than could the F/A-18C Hornet.

 But I digress . . .

“All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right.”

-Sir Sydney Camm, designer of the Hawker Hart, Fury, Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest, Fury, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk, Hunter, Kestrel, Harrier . . . .

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