Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday Fun

It's Saturday and for us that means a play day. Today we started out at the ArtFair in nearby Williamston (it was pretty much a YAWN). From there we headed out for the small town of Elsie (yes, there is one) to see the cow pictured above. Ben has been spending time on Roadside America finding all the oddball attractions in the area. It was fun -- weird, but fun. From there we headed east and a bit north to Frankenmuth -- first to Bronners for our regular dose of Christmas (Yes, Lemuel, it is coming!) and then into town for lunch, sightseeing and shopping. I managed to get a good shot of the covered bridge while the paddleboat was coming under it. We headed to the mirror maze which was mindblowing. Notice the picture of Ben (and his evil twin LOL). We came back hone tired but somehow recharged as well. Ben preaches in the morning and on Monday it's back to work for me -- with a new boss and a new contract employer -- so having this play day was excellent therapy. Hope your weekend is going as well as ours. Hug someone special.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Get Ready

Today is July 25 which means there's just five more shopping months til Christmas. Time to clean your acts, everyone and get busy shopping. Merry Christmas in July.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Trip to Hell

Ben and I headed out to go to the annual (our 2nd) Ann Arbor Art Fair today. The festival was great and crowded, and the weather cooperated nicely. On the way to Ann Arbor we made our second trek to HELL -- Hell, Michigan that is. The last time we went to visit, the town was awfully quiet and the souvenir shop was closed. Today everything was open and I managed to get Ben's photo in his true light -- the tour guide from Hell (Just kidding -- he's really an angel). I guess you could say that we went through Hell to get to the art fair LOL.

As a side note, I saw the height of gutsiness in the parking lot at the fair. We parked and headed toward the shuttle bus stop when I realized I left my hat in the car. I went back to get it and there was a young woman standing there leaning on my car chatting with her friend. She looked and stood up saying, "Oh this guy is leaving." Just to be chatty, I let her know that I was only getting something out of the car. As I turned to leave, she was back leaning on my car again. My passive agressive nature came out as I remarked, "Why don't you just go ahead and lean on my car a while?". If I were leaning on someone else's car (highly unlikely), and they came back, I would straighten up and apologize, and I for sure wouldn't go back to leaning against the car. This woman, however, didn't seem to have any problem hanging out on my car. She didn't hurt anything, but there is a principle of respect for other peoples' property here. Ah well, people will be people.

The greatest part of the day was coming home and finding an email letting me know that I don't need to go to work tomorrow. If you read my previous post, you will know what a relief that email was for me. Of course, the realtor called and is having an open house tomorrow afternoon -- good grief, time to clean and hide stuff in closets. I sure hope that someone shows up to look -- and maybe make an irresistible offer. Who knows? It could happen. Hug someone and have a great day.

Another Week From HELL

It's been a week from Hell at work == again. I have found myself pushed to tears of anger and frustration a couple of times, sometimes even feeling unable to even function for several minutes at a time. Now, the work I am doing is not particularly difficult and the physical environment is acceptable. The money isn't bad either. However, the management (?) philosophy and practice leaves much to be desired. The management of the company in general (as I have said before and Ben has mentioned in his posts) is problematic, but the management of my current project is beyond organized chaos -- the term "torential turmoil" comes to mind. We are processing work for our European clients. This has involved several conference calls and webmeetings for "training", adding access to several software applications, and more. Of course, the training and the software never seem to coincide, so that by the time we get what we need to do the work, the work has changed. We are being called on to work 10 hour days and weekend hours to catch up the European backlog. The interesting (and ironic) thing is that European labor laws severely limit the number of hours workers can work and weekend work is nearly unheard of. So -- we are being called to work excessively to complete the work of people who aren't allowed to do extra. Go figure. Now, if I were a permanent employee, I might have some interest in the success of this endeavor. However, being a temporary contract employee, the future of this company means little or nothing to me. However, if I refuse the extra time or complain about the work, I could be gone in sixty secconds. I think what is so horribly upsetting is the feeling of powerlessness. Short of quitting -- and losing needed income -- there is nothing I can do to change the situation. To top it off, we learned this week that all of the temps are being transitioned from the agency we've been working through to a different temp provider. Again, what is the choice? I can either sit back and accept the stuff being thrown or I can quit. The upside of this is an increase in my hourly wages. However, there is no holiday pay or vacation pay or anything extra. I suppose it's a fair trade off but it's all a decision in which I have no say. Hmmm! Do I sense a pattern?

On top of all this, I received a rejection for the fulltime position that I was hoping for in the Boston area. As with most rejections, there was the "Thank you" and the "we've selected a different candidate" statements with no explanation or suggestion as to what might be lacking or how I might improve my resume or my skill set. Go figure. I am dying to see who got this position. My guess is that it will be a woman -- this is a position that I have been following for a few years -- I have applied for it twice and been rejected. Interestingly, over the past six years, there have been either five or six people in the position. It's either a horrid job or the employer doesn't have a clue as to how to hire people. I offered to sign a two year contract to provide some stability, but that fell on deaf ears.

Anyway, it's time to end this rant. Suffice it to say -- this week has sucked on many levels. Hopefully, next week will be better -- we shall see. Thanks for listening to my tale of woe. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What a Weekend

Well, the long awaited trip to Iowa is now history, and I am pleased to report that a good time was had by all. Ben has posted some of his pictures and here's a few of mine. Pictured to the left is the farmhouse featured in the movie "Field of Dreams." It was a real thrill to visit the location where most of this timeless classic was made. I got to walk the ball field and out into the corn just like those in the movie.

Ben hung out for this shot with Shoeless Joe Jackson. The primary purpose of the trip was to delived the stained glass piece that Ben made for his parents. It was also my opportunity to meet the family -- parents, siblings, some of the spouses, kids, and others. Everyone was great and no one made me feel like an oddball (any more than I already am LOL)
After the Field of Dreams we went to Galena, Il (also featured in FOD as Chisholm, MN) to visit the home of President US Grant. I find Presidents and their homes and museums fascinating and Ben, his sister and nephew, and a good friend were kind enough to indulge me. After visiting the home (and falling in the front yard) we wandered around downtown Galena and shopped and ate and just had a fun afternoon. Then it was back to the house for a cookout with the family.
It was great to be able to see the city and the Mississippi River by night. This picture was taken from one of the many bluffs overlooking the river. The picture quality isn't all that great, but you get the idea of the awe I felt at seeing the sight. Ben drove me up hills and over ridges and it was more fun than a roller coaster.

On Sunday we went to Ben's sister's home which happened to be on the route of the local "July Festival" parade. The rose pictured here is growing in her yard, and I was struck by its beauty. The parade was full of fire trucks and tractors, and tractors, and tractors...... It really good to spend time just relaxing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What Kind of Liberal Are You?

Here's my results; how about you?
How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Independence (?) Day

The land of the free and the home of the brave! Is it? As we sit here on the eve of Independence Day I wonder how free we are and how brave we are. Freedom exists in this country for some, but not for all. I am not free to go to work and talk about Ben as fully as others talk about their other gender partners or spouses. I would likely lose my job -- not for being gay, but for some obscure or unidentified and unspoken reason. We cannot walk down the street hand in hand or arm in arm or sit in a restaurant touching one another in any way -- you know, the way hetero couples do without even thinking about it. If they do it, it's natural. If we do it, we are throwing our perversion in their faces. Freedom? NO. People of different ethnic backgrounds don't have the same freedoms as the rest of us. Some are assumed to be thieves or worse, some are painted as terrorists. Freedom? NO. However, we do enjoy more freedoms than folks in many other parts of the world. There is great inequity as well. If you are connected to those in power, you don't have to do the jail time for your crime. If you are a celebrity, you end in jail for three weeks for DUI's and somehow are miraculously transformed upon your media blitz release. Hmm.

As to bravery, there are too few people today with the bravery that was inherent in our founding fathers. They risked their reputations, their resources, and their lives to stand for the ideal of freedom for all. Today, it seems to be everyone for him or her self and every one else be damned. What a sad commentary of 231 years of the celebration of freedom.

Tomorrow as you eat your hot dogs or steaks and watch the fireworks, stop and take stock of your own life and ideals. Are you free? Are you willing to stand for the freedom of your neighbors regardless of their gender, class, race, economic standing or anything else? Are you brave enough to speak your mind when your government does stupid, wrong, unethical things? If so, celebrate and rejoice in freedom. If not, what better time to re commit to the ideals that birthed these United States?

Have a happy and safe fourth of July.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Kind of Gross I Thought


Well, folks, today was the first day live on the new phone support project at work. I had a whopping two calls in eight hours. The first was from the second level team seeking additional information on a case. The second call was cut short when somehow we were disconnected while I had the customer on hold. The day was fraught with "bugs" and "blips" in the system. The "Do it this way, not the way we told you before", and "Don't select that option" comments were a little wearing. I expect that as we get through the holiday week and the plant shutdown and as we get the bugs out of the system, it will be fine -- more calls and more sense. My shift was moved an hour earlier starting today, but thankfully I was able to trade with a co-worker who wants the earlier hours. So my work schedule hasn't changed much. What I need to do though is take a book or something for those times between calls. I sure hope I get more calls tomorrow than I did today. We shall see.