Monday, January 31, 2011

Rumor Mill : Pt 2

On my day off I was headed to work for a mandatory meeting.  It was raining.

I was the first manager to arrive at the meeting and, for the first time in my life, I sat down about ten minutes early.  By one o'clock our group of seven were all seated and the door was shut.  The HR manager and our manager walked into the room.  We had all anticipated this speech for several weeks and he had our undivided attention as we looked to him for answers.  A month's rumors were coming to an end.  One person sold off investments to pay down debt in anticipation of the worst.  Another actually begged to be let go the week previous.  He really seemed to want that severance money last week, but on this afternoon, nobody looked like they wanted out.

There was no speech by our manager.  Instead he briefly explained how this process would work.  One by one we would be called to his office and given the information.  The rest of us would sit in the meeting room waiting.  He asked that we not text or call other managers as the process moved along.  I never thought it would have been like this.  Could he not tell us as a group what the new structure would be?  I couldn't believe that the Human Resource department would create the most stressful method to deliver the message.

They called the first person to the office and the six of us remaining sat looking at each other awkwardly.  We quietly joked about who would be next and what that might mean.  Then we all pulled our cell phones out and disobeyed the only rule of the meeting.  We were searching for answers but were getting silence. Fifteen minutes passed before we heard that first person leave the office out of a back door.  We couldn't see him leave and he didn't re-enter the holding room.  Another five minutes passed, but it seemed like twenty, and the HR manager came in and summoned the second manager to the office.  We laughed as it was the person we had just privately voted to be second.

The five of us sat in the holding room for the next fifteen minutes now discussing who would have to be last.  Who would have to sit in this room alone?  Someone spotted a poster on the wall that read, "This is a great place for a career!" and he commented that it should have been removed prior to this meeting.  At this point we still didn't know how many of us would be leaving the company.

I was the third called into the office.  My manager sat behind his desk, the HR beside him, and me across.  He had papers on his desk in front of him.  He told me he had a prepared statement that he wanted to start with.  Instead of reading from the papers on his desk, he opened the top drawer and pulled out five more pages.

At the end of the statement he offered me a management position in this restructuring.  He didn't give much detail about the position, just that I was being offered one.  I didn't answer, and after seeing my hesitation, he offered to continue reading before requiring an answer. Looking back, it seems kind of funny to me.  After the fear of losing my long time job, you would think I would jump at any offer.   He read more details of the new position and explained that my pay would not be changed for the worse and then he again asked if I accept.  I glanced at the HR quickly and back at him.  The HR caught my glance and pointed out that if I refuse, I would be resigning and not eligible for a severance pay.  Realizing that I had only one option, I quickly, and happily, accepted the offer.

I was asked to exit out of the back entrance and not to meet with the other managers until all had been met with individually.  At that point we would have a team meeting to answer questions.  After I called Cari to let her know I was still employed, I went back to my office and played Angry Birds while waiting for the team meeting.

During our team meeting we were informed that one person of our team was let go and offered a severance package.  It turns out that he is the same one that told me a few weeks earlier to work as hard as I always had worked until the last day.  At least he can leave knowing that he did his best every day and never gave up.

As I drove home in the rain, I was really happy to have a job to return to the next day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

sick day

I had every intention of telling you part 2 of the Rumor Mill story today, but I have spent all day Friday sick in bed.  Remember the zombie flu going around my house last week?  It finally caught up to me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rumor Mill : Pt 1

About a month ago rumors started circulating at work that the company is going to restructure the management team.  Initially, these rumors didn't effect me directly.  They were more threatening to my coworkers, so I didn't think much about it.

Two weeks go by, and the rumors continue.  We hear new rumors almost daily at this point and my boss tells me that one of the latest rumors threatens my job.  Now I was really interested.  All of us in our team of seven were unsure of our future in this company.

A few things happen when rumors of your job coming to an end is in your ear every day.  First, it's REALLY hard to stay focused.  Do you really want to come in and do your best work for a company that either doesn't need you or doesn't care about you?  One of the managers I work with said something that stuck with me over the past few weeks of rumors.  He said that you have to come in and work just as hard as you always had.  If you get fired on the last day, then you know that you did your best 'til the end.  Had you given up and then they fired you on the last day, they (the company) will not feel bad.  They may believe they did the right thing based on your poor performance in the last weeks.   He is right.  I fought - mostly - to stay on task.  Although, I admit, I have put one large project on hold until the rumors come to an end.

Another thing that happens when your team feels the end is near is an instant bonding. Guys that I had previously had a relationship with that never made it passed the "hello" stage, I was now having sit down meetings with daily.  We discussed our families, the rumors, and "what would you do" thoughts.   The team has been at its strongest over the past two weeks.  If you are looking for a great team building activity, try starting some career ending rumors.

One week ago we learned of another rumor.  Severance packages.  We found a document in the computer that outlined how the program would work.  This is a new program for our company and it strengthened our belief in the other rumors.  Part of me started to want one of those packages.  How exciting would it be to start something different?  How awesome would it be to leave the problems at work to someone else?  The other part of me had other questions.  What happens when the money runs out?  How easy would it be to find a replacement job?  Any job?  With these questions in my mind, I started to believe I would be disappointed with either outcome.  If I kept my job while a coworker was let go I might be jealous that he is getting a fresh start.  If I am the one to go, I'd be disappointed to end a long employment.

I got a phone call at home.  It was my day off and the human resources manager was on the phone.  She said we had a mandatory meeting scheduled at 1pm the next day.  That day was also a scheduled day off, but I knew this would be the meeting to answer my questions.  As I hung up my stomach instantly went into knots.

Four weeks of rumors are now coming to an end.

This is really happening.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

YouTube of the Week

I watched this video the first time in the native language.  I didn't understand much of it, but it was kinda funny after reading the description.   THEN I learned to turn on the text annotation in English!  I watched the ten minute video again and it is hilarious!

I definitely recommend the English subtitles.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First They Came. . .

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Friday, January 21, 2011

House of Zombies

It started two days ago with the baby.  She attempted to infect me, but failed.  She woke up late one night vomiting and coughing.  It was 4:30am and she was wanting in MY bed.

In the day that followed she attempted to cough on me and the rest of the family.  I drank a glass of orange juice and hid from her (at work).

The others would not be as lucky.  The next day the other daughter starts vomiting at 1am.  Meredith is about drama and she really put a lot of effort into her vomiting, crying, moaning.  She was turning into a zombie.

Later in the morning, Randy heads to school.  Before he got there he started vomiting. . . on the bus.  He's probably not going to get a "good behavior" token this week from the bus driver.  I went and retrieved my zombie son from school.

When I got home, Cari was still in bed.  She also had been Zombiefied.

I was scared.  It was my day off and I had no where to run.  I was in a house of zombies for the day.

The living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms had been infected with zombie cooties, so I ran to the office where I remained for several hours.  When I emerged from the office I made my way to the kitchen and prepared a special lunch for my zombie family.  For each, I prepared the antidote.

Saltines & Ginger Ale

Up to now, I believe I have avoided the cooties.  Only time will tell if I too will become one of them. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Android App Picks

I've had my Droid phone for over a year now.  One of the things I really enjoy is finding new apps that add to the ways I enjoy and use my phone.  Sometimes it's hard to discover these apps just by browsing the Market.  It helps if others tell you about the apps they have found and are using.  So if you have an Android phone, here's a few of my favorite apps at the moment.  I hope this helps you discover something new to enjoy on your device.

Mind Mapping  - I recently blogged about this app and I still find myself using it to organize my thoughts.  Sometimes I don't feel I have time to sort out the things floating in my head, but this app still gives me a place to drop the ideas and then sort them later.  FREE or pay version.

Pulse - I've only been using this free app for a few weeks, but wow.  It takes a lot of news sources on a wide variety of topics and puts them in one screen.  Each horizontal line shows you the headlines from that source (ex. CNN, FoxNews, Engadget, etc..).  You can scroll through those and click to read the ones that interest you.  Your sources scroll vertically and can be put into any order that you choose. You choose the sources that you enjoy reading including, if you wish, your Facebook status feed.  If you like news, this is awesome.  FREE. Try it.

Listen - podcasts.  I use in the car all the time.  I plug in a FM transmitter and broadcast these over my car radio.  A few of my favorite podcasts:  This American Life, The Moth, and Engadget.  Again, this app is FREE.

TuneIn Radio - I used to like Pandora, but their privacy settings are pretty sketchy lately, so I have stopped using it for now.  This app lets you listen to most any radio station on your phone.  Great for when you can't get to your radio or you are traveling away from home but prefer you home radio stations.  FREE.

Angry Birds - I don't play a lot of games on my phone, but this is certainly one that I keep going back to.  If you don't know about Angry Birds yet, you are missing out.  Oh yeah, this one . . . FREE

Word Feud.  Do you like Scrabble?  I hadn't played in years.  But thanks to Word Feud I play almost every day.  Play with friends or with random opponents.  The beauty of this is that you play at your own pace.  As each player takes their turn, the game notifies the other person.  Take your turn whenever you get a few minutes.  I currently have six games going.  If you try this, let me know your login name so I can challenge you.  This app costs FREE.

Hope this helps you find something great on your phone.  If you have a few favorites Android apps leave me a comment.  I'm always interested to find something new.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Great Ideas!

Last night at dinner we had a very interesting discussion.  It all started as one of the kids brought up [CENSORED].

Why isn't there a  [CENSORED].  After all, if it wasn't for [CENSORED] this wouldn't be what it is. At first we thought we should do presents.  But then I thought it would be easier if we skipped presents for [CENSORED].  To replace presents, we could do a simple dinner or maybe [CENSORED] at our house for the day as well.  Some might be feeling really [CENSORED] and cut the grass too.

Then again, not all ideas are great ideas.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sledding 2011 : the video

Here's some clips of us sledding during the past week.  We visited a few different places in search of a great sledding hill.  Because we couldn't get our car out of the neighborhood, all of our choices had to be within walking distance.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Days: Day 2

Day 2 of being "snowed in" was just as exciting as the first.  It was also the last.   Unfortunately, the road crews got all the major roads cleared on day 2.  Day 3 would have to be a work day again.

At the end of the first day of snow, we had a light freezing rain.  This put a nice crust of ice on the world.  It also created some great sledding conditions.  So we walked over to the park and found the biggest steepest hill.  Yeah, there were obstacles like man hole covers and fencing.  Yeah, there were also hidden obstacles on that hill that were hidden by the snow.  Stuff like piles of granite rocks.  But this was a huge hill that was demanding to be sledded. Cari sent the kids first to find a clear path before taking her turn.

 Walking back from the park made us all tired and cranky.  I was given the task of taking the "shortcut" to the grocery store and picking up some hamburger buns for dinner.  Then it turned out we didn't even need them for dinner.  I think I was just given the task of "the women are going to talk about you, go that way".

 One of the girls made Brenna a snow pig.  Called Mr. Piggy.  She held him as she was pulled along the snowy ground.  She even gave Mr. Piggy a kiss.  A kiss goodbye it seemed.  Immediately after kissing him, she tossed him into the snow where he was promptly run over by the sled. . . and she smiled.
This last picture is another friend that we met at the park.  Even the adults had a great time at the park.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Days: Day 1

We finally got the snow I've been waiting for.  People that have lived here much longer than I say that this is the first time in more than twenty years that we've gotten snow like this.  After snowing all night and then most of the day we have accumulated somewhere between 9-12" of snow.   That meant I wouldn't be able to safely drive to work and the schools had been closed.

It was time to get the sleds out!
We bundled up, got together with the neighbors, and headed for the biggest hill in the neighborhood.  I was a bit surprised at the small crowd that had gathered there.  Apparently, it really is the best sledding spot in the neighborhood.

 The hill was fast after being packed down by the few trucks that attempted to drive it.  Some made it down the curved hill with no problem.  Others wiped out and hit bushes and snow banks.

This was the best "work" day I've had in a long time.  After sledding and getting freezing cold hands, we walked back home and got some hot chocolate.  After a movie bundled up on the couch we went to bed early.  Tomorrow will be another day on the slopes!

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Welcome to 2011!  Happy New Year!

A list of the activity in the first week of the new year:

  • My computer crashed.
  • forced to re-install windows
  • spent half a day re-installing various software
  • just to find that windows still randomly crashes on start up
  • two days later I learn that I've been locked out of my external hard drive that contains all my family photos and videos!!!!!
  • I ran to the bathroom and vomited three times.
  • Enlisted Cari to try and retrieve access to the external and she succeeds!
  • Computer continues to randomly lock up on start up.  Takes two to three restarts before a successful load. 
Welcome to 2011!  Happy New Year!
F U Bill Gates!

(don't even think about putting a comment about getting an Apple computer because it ain't happening)

Now considering that this may be a hard disk beginning to fail.

Friday, January 07, 2011

This is Twisted!

The beauty of having an eleven year old in the house is having someone around that is learning the art of twisting your words.  Anything you say may not mean what you think it means in the brain of an eleven year old boy.  That young brain takes the information coming in, spins it like a cotton candy machine, and then spins the sugary goodness out the other end.

I recently came home from work on a day while my mom was visiting and was greeted by Randy.  "Grandma loves Nazi's.", he proclaimed.  "She thinks they deserve a trip to Disney World."  My mom quickly disputed the claim and tried to explain how this came about.  As she re-told her side of the story, Randy interrupted with his explanations.  What started as a simple talk that mentioned WW2 ended up being a talk focused on Nazi love.

It turns out she really does love Nazi's.  Who knew!  -- well, that's if you only listen to Randy's side, and who would do such a thing?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Hanging Myself

I got a text at work from Cari that said the dryer had stopped working.  I frowned at my phone but didn't immediately reply.  Is this something I could fix after work? Another text quickly followed, "I'm going to scream."

Then my phone rang.  Frustrated at my lack of response, she called and described the dryer issue to me.  The problem didn't sound like a broken belt or other seemingly easy problem.  She said that the motor wouldn't even come on.  When we got off the phone she was going to call an appliance repair company.

An hour passes and another text comes my way.  "How much is a new dryer?"  She was considering all scenarios.  This time I replied. "$5-10"

Then my phone rang.  Frustrated at my response, she called and asked me to explain my text. I told her that if the dryer was too expensive to fix that I'd be happy to bring her home a length of rope.

Cari quickly cut me off and asked, "Why, so I could choke you with it?"

Apparently, hanging clothes on a line was not in her list of "all scenarios".

Monday, January 03, 2011

Stitches or the Zoo

That's a tough call to make.  Do you want to spend a day at the zoo or head to the urgent care for stitches?  A decision had to be made so I announced it to the family, "Let's go to the zoo!".  It was around 11am on a cool day.

We started pulling ourselves together.  At least one person was still in their pajamas.  As people scrambled around the house to get ready I created a plan.  McDonald's drive through for lunch, the zoo, and then a short visit to the playground.

Within five minutes everyone was starting to gather around the couch.  I couldn't believe it.  Had I announced a hiking trip they would still be in pajamas.  Announce McDonald's and they are hustling to load the car.

As I was tying my shoes I heard a shrill from the girl's room.  Cari was the first to investigate.  Anytime that kind of noise comes out of kid, she's tough to beat to the scene.  It doesn't matter if she is in the bathroom, outside cutting grass, or in the kitchen with a hot pan in her hand.  She's going to beat you to that kid.

A bit of blood was on Brenna's shirt and face.  She had a small gash near the side of her mouth on the lower part of her cheek.  Cari took her into the bathroom and I went to Brenna's room to investigate.  Randy was with me and together we used our CSI skills to unravel the mystery of the deep cut.  In the closet was a small plastic stool laying on its side.  Nearby was a tall shoe rack.  This is the type of shoe rack that hangs on a wall or door with plastic pockets for shoes.  In one of the pockets was a giant pencil, pointy side out.  Maybe you're asking yourself why the shoes of a three year old are hanging so high in the first place.  Maybe you are wondering why a giant, pointy pencil was sticking out of a shoe pocket.  Then again, maybe you are wondering why we have kids to begin with.  These are the questions that CSI Randy and CSI Me had to answer.

Brenna must have been reaching for some shoes when the stool tipped over, and the pointy pencil grabbed her face on the way down.  I took the over sized pencil, showed it to my CSI partner, who agreed with my theory, and then I put the pencil back in the shoe pouch - pointy side DOWN.

The cut wasn't very wide, but it was deep.  Cari suggested stitches.  I suggested a band-aid.
A few hours, and four stitches later, we were headed to the zoo.

It was now dinner time for the animals and the air was cool.  The animals were very active.  All except the giant tortoises. I don't believe they get excited about anything.  We were hoping we'd get to see the lion chase down a gazelle or maybe one of the giraffes, but most of the animals were just eating vegetables.

Brenna was also very active at the zoo.  It would be hard to tell that just hours earlier she cut her face open and then had a doctor sew her back together.  If it were I, I'd still be laying on the couch moaning and crying.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Playing With My Balls

I sat in the office alone for about an hour yesterday and when I came out to join the family for dinner Cari asked, "What have you been doing?"

"I've been playing with my balls", I replied.

It can be fairly relaxing to sit and shape these magnetic balls into sculptures of art.  Relaxing until you try to shape them back into a cube.  That can be maddening!