Tuesday, September 28, 2004
At about 4 PM, I noticed a police car pulling up to the entrance of the building. Not long afterward, the announcement was made over the PA system that traffic was being directed away from Brace Road (a nearby street that I used to use to commute to work before I found a shorter route).
When I left for home, the traffic wasn't heavier than usual. I thought roads I use might be more congested, if people were detoured away from Brace Road, but no. However, the drive was still murder because the visibility was abysmal. Once again, the rain was coming down faster than the full-speed windshield wipers could clear it away.
I had KYW News Radio on, hoping to get advance warning of any other detours or road closures. Instead, I got a pretty major surprise from one of their news reports. It seems that the problem on Brace Road had been caused by a suspected TORNADO that touched down at about 3:40, less than a mile from my workplace. Good freaking grief! No wonder the sky was so dark this afternoon!
I came home to another weather-radio-alarm marathon, as flash flood warnings were being issued for creeks and rivers throughout the region. I think it's time to call the Philly Zoo and see if the animals are attempting to line up in pairs. This is insane.
The cloud cover was so dark, streetlights were on for a surprisingly large portion of my drive to work. And although the rain was negligible when I first got in the car, that quickly progressed to a drizzle, a shower, a rainstorm, and a downpour so heavy that visibility was terrible even with the windshield wipers working at full speed.
Of course, said downpour abated only minimally by the time I got OUT of the car. The parking lot's surface was literally running with water about an inch deep (and ankle deep in some places).
I hope we don't see much of THAT level of rain today. The ground in this entire area is pretty well saturated. Prolonged heavy rain is going to put some roads under water, for sure. Some basements might end up the worse for wear, as well.
Thank God we had a sunny, dry week or so following the visit from the Hurricane Ivan remnants. At least it gave us more time to process the water that came down from THAT weather pattern.
Well, this is proving to be an interesting day.
H is out sick. I came in to an email asking me to process the submissions in the Departmental inbox today. And at last count, there have been about 40 of those so far today, with gosh knows how many more on the way before the day ends.
That's at least twice what a normal day would bring, in my experience. In fact, there are more submissions in that inbox right now than there were ALL of last week (it was a slow week).
Gee, I'm glad I didn't call out sick today, too. I didn't feel well (still don't) and was sorely tempted to call out when I got up this morning. Now I get to demonstrate that I can, in fact, handle megatons of submissions that come avalanching in on the same day. ;o)
Monday, September 27, 2004
Today, the departmental procedure was tweaked. This week, it's H's job to check the Departmental Inbox for incoming submissions and process them, not mine.
Color me non-ecstatic.
If we have a busy week, it should be interesting to see how that goes. One thing I pride myself on is getting EVERY submission done on the day I receive it, unless a group of them arrives a few minutes before the day ends. That rarely happens, but when it does occur I take care of those as my first task the following morning.
I hope we get a lot of work coming in (via the inbox and via other channels such as fax and snail mail). I'd rather it become obvious sooner, rather than later... and hopefully, ONCE AND FOR ALL... that this job serves a function that they'd rather keep right on paying for, rather than eliminating it.
Friday, September 24, 2004
The lady whom I assist in the file room for part of my day told me something that I'm not sure too many other people are aware of yet.
She might be leaving. Her husband is interviewing for a position which would involve relocating. If he gets hired, it would also mean that she leaves here.
If she goes, I'll apply for her position. Even though the file room's lights hurt my eyes and it's always too hot in there. And even though the people who go outdoors to smoke tend to stand too close to the building's air intake, resulting in the smoke coming back into the building via the ventilation system.
Hmm... ya know what? I actually haven't run into that last problem in several months. That would be ever since I mentioned to my supervisor that, for the third time in two months, I smelled smoke from something other than tobacco coming into the building while I was working in the file room. Magically, ALL the smoke stopped coming in, tobacco-based and otherwise, soon afterward. I guess nobody wanted to get caught smoking something illegal, or getting blamed for doing so if they happened to be out there at the same time someone else was getting high, so they ALL moved away from the air intake.
It still irks me that people with a permanent job would be idiotic enough to risk it by getting high on the job. GEEZE. They should trade places with me and see what it's like to be LOOKING for a job... while seeing other people who have one not seem to care or appreciate it.
But anyway. If she goes, I'll apply for it. And this time I had FREAKING WELL better get at least some consideration, because I DO the job she does for part of every day.
OK, getting off the soapbox.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Oh, well. I wasn't in the greatest mood anyway. I might as well be inundated with job search conversation now. Better that than having me be in a GOOD mood that gets deflated by the Unending Job Search Conversation from H*ll.
I know people mean well. Really, I do. But there comes a time when they need to STOP HARPING ON MY JOB SEARCH, no matter how much they want to see me find something permanent.
Like when my parents or other relatives or friends enquire if I've found anything, and I tell them "no". If they make one or two suggestions or ask a few more things, that's fine. And I know they care and they mean to be encouraging.
But when they go on and on and on and on and ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON about it, it's not encouraging. It's depressing.
Especially when they suggest two or three places in a row that I have ALREADY APPLIED TO. I wish people would stop asking me if I've tried Ikea, Blue Cross, Temple, the University of PA, and Drexel. They all have more freaking copies of my freaking resume than an army of HR directors would know what to do with.
I wish they would stop asking me if I've tried to get a job at the place where I'm doing temp work. YES. FOUR TIMES. They keep choosing employees from other departments or people from the outside who have specific experience with the stuff their department does. YES, I've been with this place nearly a year, and NO that doesn't appear to give me a foot in the door, or even a toe in the door. If it did, I'd have gotten one of the jobs I applied for by now.
I needed to get this out of my system, after a too-long phone conversation with a family member who just Wasn't Getting It that I needed to have the topic changed to something else after about ten minutes of discussing job hunting.
I do kind of think the light bulb glimmered on for him a little bit sometime during the NEXT ten minutes, though, when he was talking AT LENGTH about his friend's son who had a great job right out of college, but quit to start his own business and he's making a ton of money, he's doing this, he's doing that, he's doing the other thing...
... and I interrupted to ask, "Is he hiring?"
"Well, actually I don't know if he has any employees, it might just be him working for himself".
"I'm glad for him, but unless he's hiring, it doesn't help me much".
And then, "You know what you should do? If you had some political connections, you could apply for a government job. If you worked for the state or the city, they have great pay, great benefits, plenty of days off..."
As if you can just go out and get political connections at will. Yeah, I'll pick up a few political connections the next time I go to Pathmark. No sweat. I'll just add it to the shopping list.
Instead, I said: "But I haven't got any political connections, so it's no help to me that state jobs have great pay and great benefits".
I know they mean well. I KNOW they mean well. But sometimes they drive me crazy.
[RANT MODE = OFF]
I just got the companywide e-mail about the next employee outing to a local restaurant/arcade, including a dinner buffet and a game card so employees can play in the arcade afterward.
Just like last week, I got the companywide e-mail describing the time that the buses would be there to pick up the employees who were going to the company-sponsored Camden Riversharks (minor-league baseball) matinee game.
The only problem is that I'm not an employee, though I've tried to become one at least four times in the past year, and temps don't get to GO on these companywide outings.
I really didn't need another reminder today that as far as the company is concerned, the people here consist of "nearly everyone else" in one group, and then there's me. Well, me along with whatever other temps are around, but I don't think there are many. And since I don't know who they are, it's not like there's any moral support to be gleaned from knowing they're around.
At least the PEOPLE here are decent. Not a bit like Harridan Hall, where I was at this time last year, where most of the employees rather enjoyed dumping on the temps every chance they got. Then again, most of them dumped on the other employees, too. Geesh, that place was horrible... I look back and cringe at what it was like to be there. Thank God that working conditions here aren't like that at all.
Enough venting. I have work to do.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
This would be the birthdate of the one person I could honestly have called a friend, from my job at the bank.
I've long since lost contact (he was downsized right before I got engaged and, at the time, had no personal e-mail address). I have *a* snail-mail address somewhere but after six years, who knows if it's still accurate? For all I know, he wants to put the whole "worked for that @#$&@(#*$& disloyal bank" experience behind him... and after being downsized by them myself
a few years later, I could easily empathize if that's the case.
But anyway -- whatever JJR is up to these days, I hope it involves having a nice birthday. He was a decent sort and deserves it.
Oh, and while I'm at it... so far this week, I've gotten to ALL the submissions in our departmental inbox first, except for two. And while I was in the midst of printing one out today, H apparently found it and started printing it, too. But I did get the submission entered before her printout finished, so she discarded the extra copy she'd printed.
But that means that H is looking in the inbox for submissions again. Have I mentioned recently that I don't intend to sit back and be rendered "redundant", without trying to demonstrate otherwise?
I hate this freaking economy where people can work their tails off and feel, at the end of the day, as if no one who matters to their job longevity cares about their efforts one way or the other.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
So far, I only had to medicate for a headache on Saturday, when I woke up feeling like there was a boulder sitting on the back of my head.
So along comes today... trouble waking up was the first warning sign. By the time I arrived at work, headache and upset stomach (one of the markers I use to determine if it's a regular headache or a migraine) were in progress.
Thank God for the first-aid cabinet here. When I worked for the bank, I had a bunch of OTC meds for headache and stomach trouble in my desk drawer. But that job's long gone, and those meds are long since added to the home supply and used up (or expired and discarded). But thanks to the first-aid cabinet in this place, even if I was a permanent worker I wouldn't need to use up desk-drawer space to store my own meds. They have a stock of just about any over-the-counter thing that a person would need. So, a dose of headache and stomach relief stuff later, here I am.
I hope to heck this clears up soon. I have the Phan Club general meeting tonight. I need to take minutes while battling a migraine like I need a dozen holes in the head. :oP
Monday, September 20, 2004
This morning's news showed a map of where the Delaware flooded. It looks like most of the PA side of the river in Bucks County went beyond flood stage. There were fewer problems on the NJ side, but Trenton and Lambertville (across the river from New Hope, PA) are among the flooded areas. If I find any links describing what happened and where, I'll add them in my next post.
On my to-do list is to check a map of New Hope and see if the part of Main Street we visited is the part that experienced the flooding. Officials there were concerned that the entire street would go underwater, but instead only part of it did.
I have an ominous feeling, though, since we spent our time within walking distance of the bridge between Lambertville and New Hope, and both of those towns got flooding. If I find out that THAT'S the area where the river expanded past its banks, I won't be surprised. :o(
Sunday, September 19, 2004
It's refreshing to know that there's good in the world, in the face of so many daily headlines that trumpet the world's evils and disasters far and wide.
Date: 2004-09-17 14:09:45 PST
I haven't much to say, other than thank you. The flowers were overwhelming, the notes were beautiful.
I read Pam's first letter, and her last. And I also have the services on tape. If anyone would like to hear the letters to Eve being read, I can rip that to an MP3 in the next few days.
I have hesitated to mention this because it's been a very private thing. But we do have a lurker in our midst folks, one who has been with us for a couple years. And as far as I know, she's never made a single post to our group. But Tuesday night, the family was notified Eve's funeral has been paid in full, to the last penny by this person.
Our decision (when we find her address) is to visit this lady in person and give her a hug. That's been Jody's wish. Mine, one that I requested during the services as I read Pam's welcome letter, is to match this donation in Eve's name to an animal shelter/SPCA/organization. Roughly Eve's costs were $2800, I know we're putting at least half towards a pet charity. I haven't set it up, I haven't even researched the groups and organizations I'd consider but in time, I will.
Secondly, Jody's message board has picked up the cost of her memorial stone. When we decide what we want, it's been settled up. All we have to do is pick it out. I'm just.... overwhelmed by the support. There were additional rooms opened just to contain the flowers. So many that they flooded the cemetary and half of my living room is full of live plants and floral arrangements. They're surrounding my baby, and placed on top as deep as I am tall. Our local florists ran out, shipments running all night from two and three hours away just to get new roses in.
In time, I'll share what happened. I need to share that. From what I know at least.
Love all of you dearly.
Grace and family
Bear in mind, as I wrote a few days ago: the vast, vast majority of the people in RPCA have never met face to face. Ever. We communicate primarily via newsgroup posts, emails, chat room (though I've never managed to get on the chat yet), and in some cases, snail-mails and phone calls. I have a feeling that the same can be said for the people on Grace's husband Jody's message board. But if there's a group that's a tighter-knit community, I'd like to see what group that would be.
And now someone who doesn't even POST to the group has shown their generosity like this. God bless whoever it was.
In other news... the fallout appears to have begun from the accusations made against our (currently on leave-of-absence) pastor. Today was the first time that the children's choir sang at a Mass since our pastor was accused of molesting several boys in the 1980s. Only 6 kids were in the choir. Last year, there were at least three times that many.
I wonder how many of them left due to graduating, vs. how many of them were pulled out by irate parents? Since I don't think that's an appropriate question to pose to the choir director (who also manages the adult choir), we may never know the answer to that question.
I guess we'll see if the children's choir gains members as the year progresses. Particularly, we'll see what's up once the NJ shore's post-Labor-Day season truly comes to a close in a few weeks. Then all the families who spend time at the shore on weekends will DEFINITELY be home on Sundays, and it'll become more obvious how many people are returning to sing and how many are gone.
Since Fr. S is not in ministry ANYwhere at the moment, nor will he be for the forseeable future, it would be a shame to see the active programs that this parish has for kids and teenagers go down the drain. Personally, I doubt we'll ever see Fr. S. again -- the only thing I wonder is how long it'll take for an official replacement pastor to be named. Right now, Fr. John C has been transferred here from the parish where I grew up, as an administrator. But a parish can't run with an administrator forever -- someone's got to have the official job of overseeing the parish eventually. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how things pan out.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
I hate this. We're getting the remnants of Hurricane Ivan now. And even though it's no longer a hurricane, tropical storm, or whatever, it's still creating a trail of damage wherever it passes. The only difference is that instead of wreaking havoc with high winds AND flooding, now it's just causing floods. I have a feeling that anyone who suffers property damage thanks to this weather system isn't going to care much whether Ivan was still a hurricane or not when the damage occurred.
I'll have to keep an eye on things, and see if I can find any news reports of the aftermath of this storm. I hope there won't be too much damage to write about.
Monday, September 13, 2004
I've been a regular reader and poster off and on... mostly ON... to the Usenet newsgroup rec.pets.cats.anecdotes since 1995. (Well, for the first few years, it was rec.pets.cats; then RPC was split into separate newsgroups. But I digress.)
I haven't met the people on that group in real life, but I've discussed things with them via the newsgroup, exchanged emails with some of them, and basically view the other regulars as friendly acquaintances whom I hold in high regard. There are a lot of genuinely good people who take part in that group, and I'm glad I "know" them, even if all we know one another by is printed words on a screen and digital pics in online albums.
So when I received the e-mail this morning that Grace from RPCA's two-year-old daughter Eve was killed in an accident, I sat frozen in shock and grief. Everyone at RPCA went through Grace's pregnancy with her, sharing her prenatal concerns, rejoicing at Eve's birth, celebrating landmarks like when Eve began to sleep through the night,and so on.
Now the whole newsgroup is GRIEVING together, posting about our tears and shock, trying to get a group effort together so we can send flowers to the funeral home from RPCA.
So anyone who sees this, would you please spare some prayers and thoughts for Grace, her husband, and her other daughter who recently began first grade? They're good people and it breaks my heart that they're going through this kind of suffering.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
It was relaxing except for the one brief moment when we were on our way back to the starting point... there we were, slowly floating along the canal in a boat being towed by two mules, listening to canal folk songs being sung by our tour guide... it was sunny, it was breezy, the scenery was lovely, and all was right with the world. You could almost feel like you had gone back in time a few hundred years.
Until the shrill TWEEEEDLE-EEEEDLE-EEEEDLE of some guy standing on the bank's cell phone pierced through the peace and snapped us all back into the 21st Century. Geeze, mister, way to ruin the moment. How loud do you *need* the dang ringer to be, anyhow?
Aside from Mr. Cell Phone, everything was great. Did I mention it was a GORGEOUS day? Which made our rides on the steam-driven railroad train and the boat that toured the Delaware all the nicer.
Mark and I had to leave earlier than the rest of them, because we had tickets to Saturday's Phillies game. We took Betty home, also, as she had to get back and make dinner for her sick dad. The Phillies were nice enough to give us a 7-0 win to enjoy, PLUS my favorite Phillie, Pat Burrell, was back in the lineup after being on the DL for the past few weeks. Can you ask for more? :o)
Sunday was another busy day... this time, four of us (Betty, Joe M, Mark, and I) headed up to the PA Renaissance Faire. Another EXCELLENT day... the only drawback was that because it was a Sunday, in order to see as much of the Faire as possible, we had to go to Mass at the freakin' crack of dawn so we could get on the road early. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, though -- and I got a ton of pictures, including Betty's and my ride on the elephant, Betty's ride on the 'war horse" (actually it looked more like a War Shetland Pony, if you want my humble opinion), and the live chess match. We definitely have to make this an annual event... but preferably on a Saturday next time, so we can avoid the issue of having to find the earliest Mass possible in the morning.
The only real bummer of the weekend was that Donna H had to cancel her trip down. I was looking forward to seeing her. But I hope she'll get down here for some hockey weekends once the season starts. The way the talks are going between the NHL and the players' union, "hockey weekend" is probably going to consist of AHL games, but hey. PHANTOMS fans will still be watching hockey this season. Long live the minor leagues! ;o)
In other news, this might be minor in the scheme of things, but it's a Good Thing for ME. I've hit on a solution to avoid problems when I use the pill splitter.
My prescription involves taking 1.5 pills per day. Fine. Except for the days when I actually have to SPLIT the freaking pills. The pill splitter I use has no problem holding the unsplit pill steady. Unfortunately, AFTER the pill has been split, when I open it up to take the half-pills out, it frequently loses its hold on the split pills. It acts like a slingshot and sends them flying gosh-knows-where in the kitchen, resulting in my having to play a game of Find the Pill at ungodly hours of the morning.
Well, last weekend, I had an idea. I went and got a plastic sandwich bag and started splitting the pills with the splitter IN the bag. Now when the pill halves go flying out, as they still sometimes do, they go into the plastic bag. End of problem, and no more games of Find the Pill. Hooray for inspiration. :o)
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
I spent the morning in the file room, since Joan (the person who's primarily responsible for the file room) is on vacation this week. H was supposed to spend the afternoon there, or so I thought. I just went back there to take care of one file, and there is a BOATLOAD of stuff that is waiting on the shelves to be filed. Good grief.
Fortunately, tomorrow we're doing a switch -- tomorrow, H goes to the file room in the morning, and I go in the afternoon. Because honestly, there is no way I want to be saddled with ALL of that filing when there are supposed to be two of us sharing the duties. Fair is fair. If my supervisor had told me that I was going to be the only one working in the file room while Joan is out, that would be a different story. But if I'm supposed to be splitting the filing with someone, I want to do exactly that: divide the workload with that person.
If there's not at least a DENT made in the tons of filing by the time I get in there tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to sit down and clafify with my supervisor how we're handling the file room duties during Joan's vacation. Just so I know. And just so my SUPERVISOR knows if there's too much work for H to do if it means doing her work, the parts of my work that they're trying to shift over to H, and half of Joan's work. I get the impression that my supervisor would rather NOT see my job end, because my being here keeps the workflow moving faster. But she needs ammunition to bring to her boss and prove that we need someone. If we get a backlog this week, that might be something my supervisor can use the next time she talks to her boss about how things are progressing in this department.
H is back down here, in this department, now that the person who replaced her in her old job/previous department is back from medical leave. However, she's still doing some work for them, as there was a project she was assisting on while the lady who replaced her was out.
But instead of giving H my data entry work to do, this week she's going to get some of my FILE ROOM duty. *This*, I don't mind. The file room is always too hot and I always manage to get cut on protruding staples and gosh knows what else. (I think I've drawn blood during work hours more times in a year, in that file room, than in the entire previous 18-odd years of work life combined.)
There'll be plenty of file room duty to go around, too, since the person whose PRIMARY job is to work in the file room is on vacation this week. Chances are they'd have been vectoring at least one more person in that direction anyway, so the file room doesn't end up looking like a disaster struck it before the week is out.
Speaking of which, off I go to said file room.
Friday, September 03, 2004
I saw another flock of starlings/cowbirds on my way to work this morning, only this time it was on the PA side of the river. I'd love to know if this is because the mama cowbirds in this area tend to target starling nests.
My little campaign to retrieve ALL submissions from the departmental in-box, and print them and enter them before anyone else does, seems to have worked. I don't think H is supposed to check the inbox anymore. First of all, last week when she and I both accessed submissions and tried to mark them as printed, it caused file conflicts. Second of all, in this entire week there were only FOUR submissions that someone else printed before I could get to them. How's THAT for providing a quick
turnaround? :o) So I'll still keep an eye on the inbox and print things as soon as I see them arrive, but I don't think anyone else will be reviewing the inbox for the time being.
LOL... I just saw a submission for a company whose name was typed "____ BUSINESS BORKERS". Borkers? Who's the CEO? The Swedish Chef?
After that little episode a few days ago, when I saw the "What the heck color is THAT" Jeep while driving on my way to work, I've pondered this little rant. I can't imagine a more visually bland place these days than a parking lot full of cars. During the past few years, car makers have gotten away from the very pleasing (to MY eye, anyway) hues of bold metallic blue, teal, green, and purple. They've substituted colors that, for the most part, are nowhere near as appealing.
Currently, if you want to buy a car that doesn't have a metallic sheen, you can purchase a car that's white, black, or bright candy-apple red. That's pretty much it. If you like the metallic-sheen paint colors -- and fortunately, I do, since they comprise the vast majority of car colors these days -- you have your choice of about 10,000 shades ranging from silver to grey, any one of a variety of pale earth tones, dark shades of blue, green, or purple that are SO dark that they appear black in anything less than full sunlight, or maroon.
First of all, I'd love to know WHO in heck picked some of those pale earth tones. Some gold and champagne shades are pretty, but others... well, if they didn't have the metallic sheen, they'd match the color of things like cork, rubber bands, wet sand, dry soil, or tree bark. No offense to anyone who HAS cars of these colors, but to me, it's just bland. As for the multitude of silver-through-grey hues, many of those tones are actually kind of nice. The trouble is that the most eye-catching shades of silver and grey don't get the chance to stand out and BE eye-catching, not with so many other variations on the silver/grey theme on the road with them.
To be fair, my own car is an unusual tomato red that one never sees anymore (except on other cars of the same make and model, lol). Then again, the car is also 15 years old -- changing fashions (plus a decade and a half of exposure to sunlight) are probably what rendered my car the infrequently-seen shade of red that it is today.
Anyway, I place the blame for all these nondescript hues and colorless colors squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of the car manufacturers. Once upon a time, you could see cars of every color imaginable while driving on a highway or passing through a full parking lot. Now, that's all gone. And doggone it, I want that visual variety back!
Anybody got a feedback address where we can start sending protests to car manufacturers, and tell them we're tired of the highways looking like one big black-and-white movie? BRING BACK COLORFUL CARS! :o)
Thursday, September 02, 2004
While I waited for the traffic light to turn green, I noticed a BIG flock of starlings in the grass next to my car. The first thing I noticed is that the
starlings all have their winter plumage, consisting of plain brown, white spots, and brown bills (as opposed to their summer plumage of iridescent black feathers and yellow bills).
Then I saw the three cowbirds mingling with the flock. At first I thought nothing of it besides, "Ah, I see cowbirds live in the area".
But as the light turned green and I pulled away, I remembered that cowbirds reproduce by laying their eggs in other birds' nests. If the foster parents don't detect the intrusion and abandon the nest altogether, the invading chicks hatch first and push the other eggs out of the nest. Then the foster parents raise the cowbird chicks as their own.
That left me wondering if the three cowbirds were not simply mingling with a flock of starlings. I wondered if the cowbirds had been raised among, and by, said starlings. Food for thought on a Thursday morning.