Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Capitol Punishment
So there I was, about to get my drivers license renewed in record time, when …you know what happened, don’t you? Sure you do, the power went out. That of course brought the whole process to a grinding halt.

Careful research had indicated the correct day and hour to make that trip to BMV so the line would be at its shortest. With the proffered renewal application firmly in my sweaty grasp I was off walking to the Guma Hustisia building next door to pay my now-doubled fee and to get a traffic clearance from the Department of Justice computer. I walked. I paid. The recipient smiled.

I walked on over to room #1 and lined up to get that computer generated, hand-stamped-with-the-big-official-seal document that proved I had not been caught doing anything wrong while driving. I made it to the front, handed over my receipt and my application with the old license now dutifully stapled to the top. The nice man smiled. He hand entered the info into his computer console and just at the moment when the printer was about to spit out my form……….bzzzzt bzzzzzztt, zap, click,….dark.

A few seconds later the back up generator came on and …. flash, bzzzzt, bzzt, lights on, blink off, flash again, lights on. Funny clackity noises emanated from around the room as fax machines and other electronic gee gaws reset themselves. It’s pretty familiar to all of us now. It usually happens just when the shampoo is running into your eyes, or when the soufflé is just about to reach maximum altitude.

Now comes the fun part. Some 10 to 15 minutes pass while the now punch drunk DoJ computer tries to reboot and bring itself back to full electronic consciousness. In the embarrassing silence I talk to the now not smiling man about the state of the long suffering populace and the much abused computing machines. I ask the obvious question, why should that computer have to reboot….isn’t it hooked to a battery backup and surge protector? Yep, sure is, but the back-up is broken from so many black-outs and no longer functions. I ask the next obvious question the answer to which is that there is no money forthcoming to replace the battery back up boxes. Hmmmm. Let’s see, a computer costs $1500 and a battery box that keeps the computer from melting down costs $100. So the answer is…you guessed it.

Further queries around the Guma reveal that most of the building’s many computers are not properly surge protected. The IT staff wants and asks for the proper machinery, the DoJ working staff wants and needs their computers to function properly so they can help provide judicial services to the people of the Commonwealth. No money arrives, no batteries are bought, the computers and other gear go unprotected until the day arrives when they go up in flames from neglect. Your tax dollars are not at work, they are on vacation.

After a decent mourning period, the machine comes back to life and grinds out the needed form. The friendly but frustrated man stamps it and hands it over. I don’t need the form just yet as the main BMV building has no generator so is in darkness until CUC removes the handcuffs and lets them get back to work. Once their power is back on the friendly, smiling folks at BVM process my papers, snap my photo and produce the brand new license quickly and efficiently. All is well for 3 more years of driving by which time the topic of conversation in the license renewal waiting line will be Article 12 land alienation and why we are still having power outages for the six people left who can afford $20 per KwH electricity.
Some observations: First, let me say that while I could certainly use the exercise that short walk provided, it seems a bit counterproductive (as in slide the dollars over the counter) to remove the Cashiers Window from a known revenue generator like the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It would also make a great deal of sense to have the BMV computer be able to talk to the DoJ computer located right next door since it contains the information they need to renew your license to motor-vate. A simple piece of coaxial cable and voila!

Second, it seems the old adage “penny wise- pound foolish” never got transmitted to the good folks who dole out the ill-gotten government cash to the subsidiary agencies. To withhold a hundred which is almost certain to cost the eventual expenditure of $1500 is not the action of a rational human.

So unsqueeze that purse string Mr. Scrooge and let go a few pennies to buy those battery backups for each necessary government computer. One less round trip first class airfare aught to pay the bill nicely.
* * * *
Performance gap

While we are talking about airfares, let’s call up Philippine Airlines to come and take over that empty office at Saipan International recently vacated by Continental. I’m betting they would be happy to fly some full airplanes back and forth between Manila and Saipan. They might even be persuaded to make hops to Honolulu or Seoul or Hong Kong or Narita or Shanghai or Hagatna or Houston from here too. Maybe PAL could use Francisco Ada Saipan Airport as its US entry port and near Asia hub for flights to and from the US. These callous connies aren’t the only kids on the block.
* * * *
Blue Lagoon?
Has anyone else noticed that in the Outer Cover Marina there are no trash cans? There are plenty of new signs telling you not to litter, but no trash barrels to put the litter in. Maybe the enforcement arm of the US Parks Department got its check from Uncle Sugar before the maintenance department. There are plenty of tourists that use that docking facility and there are plenty of local boaters that use it to accommodate the tourists. All could use a place to toss the day’s trash. Form the signs into a trash bin??
* * * *
Quote of the week:
Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not the one ahead. Bill McGlashen


Anonymous said...

Is it legal for a non-US flagged carrier to depart from a US airport and arrive in country other than where it is flagged? Maybe from one US destination to another US destination?

bigsoxfan said...

Anon, probably not. Check the jones act.

Bruce, notice some difficulty getting to your favorite blogs this weekend? Check out Simon's post at BBN. Worthless buggers.
Cheers to you, hi to Olive and the naked boy. Mark

A G Gatto said...

Hey, Bruce...

Hope all is well.



Bruce A. Bateman said...

Mark, I haven't been on in a few days so didn't notice whether I was blocked or not.

Hope you can find a cold one there in OM now. Hi to the Pumpkin and Erdine too. The naked galavanter is doing well. It's back to school for him soon.


Hi Andrew. Yep, we are doing fine.

How are things going for you two now that you are back in the States?


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Not sure Nony, but I would not discount the possibility given the anti competative nature of route restrictions.

bigsoxfan said...

Back to the Noni, I never checked it out, but the "blue skies" movement may be designed to get around the foreign flagged air carrier restricts and US destinations. If it makes sense and is economical, it probably is illegal.

Protectionism you asked for it, you got it.

School. I'll tell Erdene there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Anonymous said...

You're the one that suggested the routes, Bruce.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

...and I think it is a pretty good suggestion too, nony, including the two US destinations on the list (Honolulu and Houston).

There is a way around the competition stiffling policies of the FAA, but can we afford it?

As to the other destinatiions, we don't know if they will do it unless we ask.