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December 2011

Fire strikes new bridge in Vladivostok

Vladivostok's new bridge over the Golden Horn Bay. (More videos and photos found here. Provided by Ilya Kuskalo)

A fire broke out on the new bridge in Vladivostok last Monday night.  The bridge is still under construction so there was no traffic during the time of the incident.  It happened in the evening after workers were done for the day.  Unfortunately, due to the height of the bridge and the on going construction, firemen had difficulty containing the fire.  It was reported that they eventually attacked the fire from below the bridge.  I haven't heard if anyone was injured or how much damage was done.  Hopefully, the fire was limited to the temporary construction areas and not the bridge itself. 

Govt employees' cold hard cash may suffer freezer burn

Cold hard cash

Last year, the salaries of two million federal government employees were put on hold with a two-year pay freeze.  Today, Congress will vote on whether or not to extend that freeze an additional year.  Senators Lieberman (I-Conn)  and Collins (R-Maine) say the move is necessary and part of proposed federal budget cuts.

I am happy to sacrifice my fair share as a government worker.  However, where in Congress is this reciprocated?  The current pay freeze does not apply to the following:

..military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.

If the third year goes into effect and includes the parties mentioned above, than wouldn't it be fair to all if members of Congress also froze their pay for the time they were not included?  You can't jump into the last half of a marathon and claim you ran as long as everyone else.

Here's are some of the proposed spending cuts listed on the Speaker of the House's blog.

  • Extends the current pay freeze for federal workers (including Members of Congress) through FY 2013 (saves $26 billion).
    • Congressional members added. Good, that's a start.
  • Better coordinates with states and localities to prevent Social Security over-payments (saves $3 billion)
    • This happens often enough it has to have a line item in a bill?
  • Ensures that illegal immigrants who are not eligible to work in the U.S. do not get checks from the IRS (saves $9.4 billion).
    • Can we get someone on this?  Maybe an IRS office memo needs to go out or something.
  • Prohibits millionaires from receiving unemployment insurance and food stamp benefits (saves $20 million).
    • Ok, you're just making this up now.   Did they not notice the monocles and top hats at the Unemployment Office?

Comm chest card

Park and Read

Your message

   To: Parking Office
   Subject: RE: Parking Application Submitted
   Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 9:16:58 AM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

 was read on Monday, December 12, 2011 12:43:01 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).

I think that's the longest I've seen an email go unread.  In all fairness, the Parking Office does respond quickly to emails.  I think this was one in a thread that was skipped since they went on to read one of my subsequent emails.

But when it popped up in my in-box today, I laughed as I thought of a Parking Office reading emails on a computer.  No human being is present, just a vacant office, with a blinking fluorescent light overhead, and some distant muzak heard in the distance.  The Office sighs as it slowly goes through one parking application after another.  Obviously, it has a four month backlog of emails, so either there are a lot of requests or it's just having trouble using the mouse/keyboard.