Friday, February 25, 2011

Sick Day Funny

My friend, Amy posted this on her facebook page. I'm stealing it cuz it is hilarious.

It may or may not be true.....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boys of Summer


Today the Brewers pitchers and catchers report to Maryville, AZ for the start of spring training. This makes me happy.

It signals the turn of winter.  The promise of warm weather.  Sitting in the sun with a cold beer. Watching the game.

With football over, there is now the anticipation of a new sporting season.  A clean slate. With only upwards to go hopefully. 

The Brewers have made some significant upgrades to the team. Especially in pitching.  Let's hope that they all stay healthy. 

So take that, Old Man Winter.  Spring is here. Or at least spring training is. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

State of the State

So this has been bugging me for the past few days.

I'm tired of seeing facebook comments from people who think that Gov. Walker is trying to ruin their lives by taking away some of the collective bargaining powers of the unions for state workers.

Here are a few of the posts:

Post 1: "Taking away Collective Bargaining Rights only stifles the Voices of The People and holding politicians accountable for their actions. This has nothing to do with wages, it is Union Busting plain and simple. Certainly you fine folks can understand that?"

Post 2: "We don't have a new governor. WE HAVE A KING. And he is destroying the freedoms of the peasants. Wisconsin may have a few new jobs AND THEY WILL ALL BE MINIMUM WAGE! Fasten your seatbelts folks. It's going to be a BUMPY ride......"

Post 3: "They are willing to make the concessions and pay for the pensions and insurance premiums. This is about BUSTING the UNION. Every state facility operates on a contract that serves as policy and procedure for that place of employment. It is a guideline to how things operate, and helps those in management as well. Wages and benefits have very little to do with collective bargaining. Your hospitals, nursing homes and institutions are safer because of the union and the legislation it has created to help the people, clients and staff alike. Walker wants to end unionization. Period. That is the issue here."

Post 4: "The governor's people are still saying it is about bringing wages current with the private sector. How come all my friends in the private sector make more than me? Anyway, not the issue. Made all my phone calls and not ONE republican legislator will tell me what throwing the unions out of Wisconsin has to do with the economy. Except of course the 2 state employee unions that SUPPORTED his campaign. Hmm"

Response: "
this is simply a deversion tactic. If they distract people with this issue then we might forget that there are no jobs, no new business moving into Wisconsin, etc. Aparently, they think everyone is as stupid as the people who voted for Snotty Walker"

So, here is my take on this.

At one point in time, unions were important in protecting the lives and welfare of workers. Nowadays, I think they are obsolete. We have local, state and federal regulations in place to ensure the safety of workers. I think that unions protect the poor and somewhat average worker. With some unions it is almost impossible to get fired unless you open fire on someone. Even then, the union would defend you.

Now my workplace has rules in place to dictate how I get paid, the job that is expected of me, what my work environment will be like, etc. If I fail to abide by these rules I will either get fired or suspended.

A perfect example is the worker who is barely average. They show up 1 minute before they are supposed to start, do their job with a minimum of effort, never going out of their way to put the extra effort in to do a better job. Why should they?? They are getting paid the same amount if they work hard or are hardly working. So if I'm a worker who goes the extra mile and does more than is asked of me, I would be pissed that the slacker, who started the same time I did, is getting paid exactly the same wage I am.

If I am the good worker, in a non-union shop, I may get merit raisers based on how well I did. Not how well the union negotiated for me. If the union negotiated 2% for everyone, that's all you get. The non-union worker may now get a 3-4% raise. The slacker... maybe he only gets 1%.

Moving on to one of the other topics, Gov Walker is hot on. Making the state employees pay more in health care and pension costs. I just looked at my last pay stub. I paid $36.59 for my insurance. The company I work for paid $106. That makes me paying about 25% of my insurance costs. Add to that my deductible of $3000/year. Yeah $3000 that has to come out of my pocket before insurance will even kick in. Granted the insurance will cover things like routine yearly girl exams but anything else, I'm paying for that. Now the company does kick in some money towards your HSA, if you make below a certain wage. I don't. So I get nothing. I am now putting extra money each paycheck into my HSA. I did enough this year to be able to cover my deductible. That is a big chunk of coin coming out of each paycheck. Next year, I will drop that amount down a bit and maybe consider using it. I have no plans to touch that unless I have large expenses. At least Gov Walker made my contributions to my HSA non taxable.

Full disclosure: I have a pension and don't contribute anything towards it but the amount I would get is barely enough to fill my gas tank up in the 4Runner. That was a legacy benefit that I was not around long enough to really be invested in. I have a 401(k). The state is asking workers to now contribute 5.8%. That's not alot folks. That would be pre-tax money. So the amount people would see from their checks would be not alot. I contribute 10% of my wages to my 401(k) each pay period. I plan to raise that up another percent or two this year. I usually bump it up about what my raise is each year. I wish I could get away with only 5.8% and be able to retire on.

I hope that people look seriously at Gov Walker's proposal and realize that if the state goes bankrupt, you are probably out of a job anyways. In order to get the economy to turn around you have to make some hard choices and sacrifices. Asking state employees to step up to the plate is not asking alot.


Ok, time to step off my soap box now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thinking


Today at work much of my job is consisting of thinking.

Thinking issues through and trying to determine the best way to solve them.  Running various scenarios using different ideas. Seeing which one will make sense in the long run of this phase project. 

I like doing this type of stuff. It makes me think outside the box and not be so concerned with my portion of the project but how this will impact the project down the road. One or two years out when the process has matured. 

To the average person it may look chaotic or messy but to me it is a way to lay things out and see them visually instead of only in a soft copy format.

Thinking. ...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011

Holy shit!

That is kinda all I can say about the weather the past few days.

When Scott Steele talked on the news and said that this could be a storm of historic proportions, I kinda laughed. Yeah, right.... we will get some snow, be a bit windy and life goes on 6 hours later.

Uh... that wasn't quite the case.

Here is the video from last night. I took this about 10 pm from my side door. I could get out the door no problem and had a bit of a drift over the driveway where the house ended. Cold, snow that stung when it hit your face. Windy like all get out. Crazy, I tell you. The dogs were none to happy that I made them go outside before we went to bed at 10:30 pm.

Fast forward a few hours....

3:30 am. I get up to pee. Wind is still howling like crazy. I try to look out the front windows and realize that there is snow stuck in the screens so I can't see out. No big deal. I go to the side door. I had to really push hard to get it open a few inches. I see the snow is right up to the house. Crap! Now I have been a home owner long enough to know that the furnace vents need to be clear so that the carbon monoxide can be discharged from the house. I realize that the vent has snow covering it.

Ok, I'm fully awake now.

What to do. My mind starts kicking into overdrive. I can't really get out the side door to get to the vent. Think... think. Ok, wait. My bedroom window is just about above the vent pipe. Sweet. I'll go grab the step ladder I just bought on Sunday (Thank God!) and lean out the window and clear the snow with the shovel. I was smart enough to remember to bring the small shovel inside before I went to bed.

I open the window and all the snow that was between the window and screen falls in. Shit. Go to the bathroom and grab a towel and throw it on the floor. I can worry about that later. I step on the ladder and lean out the window. The snow is still coming down hard and it stings. Close window. Go grab jacket and gloves and hat. Open window. Lean out again. Realize that my arms are a bit short. Slide out the window further. Ok, I can move the snow enough to clear the pipe. It is warm air that comes out so parts of it are sorta melted and there is empty space around it. Get it so the pipe is once again exposed.

Whew. That was hard work.

Hop back in and grab my phone for a photo opp. Post to Twitter. Chat on Twitter with a few people. Yes, it is almost 4 am. Turn the tv on for a few minutes. Hear that there is a "Civil Danger Warning". What is that?? Ask Twitter and find out that it means if you are stupid enough to be out in this weather and get stuck. Too fucking bad. You are on your own. No one is going to come and rescue you. This is kinda freaking me out so I go back to bed. I turnt (sp) off the alarm knowing that when I get up, I get up and start working.

I get up about 7 am. The wind is still wicked crazy out. Knowing that the furnace vent may be blocked I go grab my jacket, hat and gloves again. Move some more snow away from the vent from the window. Not the best but it should suffice. Realize the driveway on either end of the house is drifted pretty good. From my vantage point I could not tell how bad it really was.

Start working. I have a snow guy. He can deal with the drifts.

About 30 minutes later I hear beep, beep, beep. WTF?? At first I thought it was Ollie. It kinda sounded like the microwave which he imitates alot. A minute later it beeps again. I look in the living room and see Ollie sleeping. Shit. That's the CO (carbon monoxide) detector. There has to be a substantial build of gas for it to go off.

I sorta panic a bit. I make sure Ollie IS sleeping and not dead. Being a bird they are sensitive to that stuff. He is alive. Give him a green pepper. He's happy.

Now what do I do. I have to get that vent cleared. FAST! I realize the only way out is thru the window. I open a few windows in the house and turn the furnace off. I put some clothes on, grab the ladder and shovel and stick them out the window. I crawl out the window and sort of roll down the snowbank to the driveway. I'm happy that the snow is soft. I get the vent shoveled out. The snow was a good two feet over the top of the pipe. I just clear the snow as fast as I can.

I clear the side door since I'm already out there and don't want to have to crawl back in the window.

I grab the dogs and make them go out. They are not happy about it but do what they need to do. There is only a drift along half the driveway. The other half is clear.

Get back in the house and in dry clothes and work for a few hours.

My neighbor's boyfriend stops over to make sure I can get out. He shovels the front porch off a bit for me. I go out and realize how deep the drift really is over the front of the driveway.

How the fuck am I going to clear that?? It is up to my shoulders. About five feet!!

Think that I am glad I have a snow guy and go back in to work.

Now for those of you who know me. I tend to be a bit anal about things. I am fussy about the snow and its placement around the house. It used to drive Randy crazy! having all this snow sitting around is making me nervous. So about lunch time, I head out and start clearing a path from the driveway to the front door. The drifts are so tall I have to swing the shovel like a catapult to get the snow over the drifts.

A couple of neighbors come out and help me by clearing a path on the sidewalk. I have no way of getting to it. A few more neighbors are walking by. Surveying the damage and taking pictures. My house is now the freak show of the block. Everyone else has 2-3 foot drifts. I had to knock down the drift so I could see them at the end of the driveway! They all ask if I have to shovel the entire thing. No, I have a snow guy coming. Just not sure when. They all offered to help me if need be. I am touched by their generosity.

I go back in as I have a 1pm meeting which I am now late for. After my meeting, I call my snow guy. I tell him he can come out anytime now. Warn him that a snowblower may not be enough. I may need to have a plow open the driveway up. He says that he won't be able to get here until tomorrow. Shit! It is supposed to get cold out and that snow will freeze and be a bitch to move.

I work until about 3:30 and head back outside. I am going to try and make it to the garage and get the snowblower out. There is a drift about 4.5 feet tall from the edge of the house to about 5 feet in front of the garage. That is a good 20+ feet. I start shoveling the top layers off. Finally I can get to where I can wade thru the snow.

I start snowblowing. It is slow going. I have to stop and knock the snow down every few minutes. The neighbor kid comes over and helps me by knocking snow down while I blow it. We finally get that end of the driveway to where it is clear and I can get the truck out. Whew!! I have Nic help me clear the side door and furnace vent a bit better and call it a day.

I will be at home for a third day tomorrow. Thank goodness I can work from home. Missing three days of work would suck otherwise.

I kinda want to spend the day making a fort in the snow drift before it goes away. Doesn't that sound like fun?? Who wants to come and live in it with me??

A side note. I am kinda still a bit scared to go to sleep tonight. Even though I know the house is fine now I'm still worried about the CO and not waking up. I told my neighbor that if she did not see the curtains open by 7:30 tomorrow to call or come over to check on me.

PSA: Make sure you have a working CO detector in your house. As of yesterday, they are required to be in all one and two family homes.