I should be sleeping, but instead I’m writing

  • It’s been crazy around here. I should be heading to bed, but everybody else is posting today, so I figured I’d join in.
  • Last week I worked 52 1/2 hours
    • I was told on Thursday that I’d have a big thing done by the following Friday
      • And then on Monday, I was told I’d have it done by Wednesday
    • It got done well enough, but it’s a mess and I have a lot of work yet to do
  • This week and next week, I’m covering the morning meeting for my coworker who is out on vacation
    • I have to be at work at 6:30 tomorrow
      • And Wednesday
        • And next Monday,
        • Tuesday
        • & Wednesday
          • Remember how I was so excited to not be awake at 5:00 AM anymore?
            • Yeah
              • This stinks.
  • I haven’t got my morning work out in since Friday before last.
    • I didn’t exercise at all last week, to be honest
      • I also didn’t eat well last week
        • My weigh-in this morning was not encouraging.
    • I did exercise this afternoon after I got home
  • Justin’s allergies are trying to kill him
    • Mine aren’t so bad … yet
      • Our grocery store sells 90 packs of generic allergy meds that we can both take for about $15
        • They also sell 15 packs for about $12.
          • They’ve been out of the 90 packs every time we’ve checked for the last 2 weeks
            • We have 3 pills left
      • Costco also sells allergy meds for cheap, but it’s an hour away
  • We saw Zootopia over the weekend
    • It was adorable
  • We are watching season 2 of Daredevil
    • It is almost as violent as season one… :(
      • The plot line is not as interesting as season one
        • I wish I had Karen’s hair
          • Also, her waistline because dang that girl is slender
  • Justin is still doing well in school
    • We have about 2 weeks before he has to focus on getting ready for finals and all his big end-of-the-semester projects
      • I’m going to have to make dinner more often when that happens…
        • I see a lot of pasta and frozen dinners in our future.
  • It’s our 8-year wedding anniversary tomorrow!
    • We have no plans
      • Besides going to the chiropractor
        • Because we are old and boring
      • I think dinner is probably going to be pasta
        • Because it’s quick, easy, and goes well with the broccoli going bad in the crisper
  • And now I have to go to bed so I can get up again in 6 1/2 hours.

Keeping busy

We had a nice weekend around here. Saturday was kind of busy. We had chiropractor adjustments up in Bluffton. From there, we went down to mid-town Savannah and I donated platelets at the Red Cross donation center.

It had been six months since my previous platelets donation! I don’t know how so much time passed! I know that for a streak there I wasn’t feeling well. And then the holidays hit and things got busy. And then I wasn’t feeling well again. And then they changed my schedule at work and I couldn’t schedule donations on Friday afternoons anymore. But a whole half a year?!

After donating, and getting some food, we went back home and I took a power nap for an hour or two because in the evening I went out to a friend’s birthday party. She was having her third or fourth annual 49th birthday and it’s always a lot of fun. She invites a handful of women and we sit around eating and drinking and playing games for prizes that she’s bought for her guests. This year I brought home a yoga mat and a lovely piece of wall art. I’m not sure yet where to hang it.

Sunday was relaxing after all the excitement of the day before. And that was needed because I was up very late on Saturday and this week has been busy and stressful. I’ve had a lot going on at work, trying to get caught up on a mess that’s gotten out of control and requires an insane amount of detailed research to clear up. And Justin had a test today, has a paper due on Friday, has another test next Wednesday, plus another paper due that same day. Plus his other class is starting and that’s going to add more work and reading. And it’ll extend his days so I’ll have to be responsible for making sure we eat dinner on those days.

On top of that, we’ve started training for the 5K race we have coming up in April. So we’re running up the street outside our apartment complex and back. It’s a nice place to run, with wide grassy strips, and we see a lot of people who are also out running or walking.

There’s this one guy I’ve seen several times who walks with his three dogs. I’m not sure what kind of dogs they are, but they’re biggish, like Labradors, but skinny with smooth coats. One of these days I might ask him what they are. Anyway, he walks them off leash and they are the most well behaved dogs I’ve seen. They stay right beside him all the time. And when someone approaches him from the other direction on the sidewalk, he’ll step off the sidewalk and tell his dogs all to sit. And they plunk their bottoms down and look up at him, not at the people who are walking past. And then once the sidewalk is clear again, he’ll give a command and they’ll all get back in heal with him walking.

I saw a Yorkshire Terrier try to pick a fight with his dogs and they all just sort of looked at it and kept on walking. I was worried the Yorkie would try to bite me, it was so badly behaved. But not these three big, muscular dogs who are just the best behaved things on the street. I’m very impressed.

Anyway, nothing terribly interesting from me today. But I’m trying to remember to write more often. So this is the babbling that happens.

Things that have delighted me lately

The city has started working on the intersections at the top of the north and southbound ramps for the interstate that I have to go over to get to and from work. They’re going to install traffic lights! They’re also going to start widening the road that goes from my work campus up to that road, I believe to add a dedicated right-turn lane, which will also help speed up traffic to the one currently existing light. When they finish the lights, traffic will have to slow down enough on the section of road that worries me so much that I’ll be able to walk it to get home. The shoulder is really very large on that road, so as long as people aren’t driving like maniacs, it’ll be fine. I’m thrilled!

We made chili for dinner Friday and instead of making corn bread or mashed potatoes to go with it, we put it on top of mashed SWEET potatoes. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. The flavors were very complimentary and absolutely delicious! If you make chili with mashed potatoes, I’d recommend you give sweet potatoes a try next time.

Yesterday was fantastically beautiful. We went to our chiropractor adjustments, and then went for about a 4-mile walk on the beach. The wind was a bit chilly, but it was still really lovely. From there, we went to Atlanta Bread Company, but I got to chat with Erica for a while before we went in for a late lunch/early dinner. And then we wandered around Barnes & Noble before heading home. It was a delightful afternoon.

I am losing weight! I really don’t want to talk about it much, but the stuff I’ve been doing is apparently working and that is delightful.

Also, this beautiful little elephant:

View post on imgur.com

2016 is starting with lots of new & exciting changes for us

I just counted up how many times I wrote on this blog the whole of last year and was a little surprised that there were 14 blog posts for all of 2015.

Surprised partially because I really didn’t think I’d made it past a dozen, if even that many. And surprised because I’m not really sure why I haven’t been writing. I know why I didn’t write when Kay was here, but she’s been gone for a long time now, and I still haven’t been writing much.

So I figured I’d pop in here and see if I couldn’t come up with something to babble about for a few dozen words or more. :)

And really, it’s been an interesting start to 2016 for us!

At the end of last year, everyone in my department, actually everyone under our senior VP (there’s about a dozen different Sr. VP’s, but each one covers quite a few people in a company of about 9,000 people), was told that instead of working the Monday through Thursday shift for 10 hours a day, we’d instead be working the Monday through Friday shift for 8 hours a day.

This is a huge deal for a lot of people because for YEARS we’ve been working Monday through Thursday. Friday was an overtime day, a day to catch up on things, when people didn’t call meetings so we could come in and crash through some work without getting a lot of distractions and then go home as soon as we were done. Or we could choose to not come into the office at all and instead set up a lot of appointments during that day and not need to take time away from the office to go to the dentist and the doctor and the DMV and all those other time-consuming things.

But for several reasons that we’ve been told and hashed over quite thoroughly until determining that none of them make a whole lot of sense, we’ve been told to work 5 days a week and to add overtime, if necessary, on Saturdays or make longer days of the weekdays. And a lot of people really don’t like this, for a whole lot of reasons.

I am, so far, kind of on the fence about it.

Parts of it are really awesome. For the past several years, I’ve been getting up at 5:00 am. I was getting up at that time when we lived in Bluffton because I had to be out of the house by 5:50 to be at my desk by 6:30 and it takes me about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. When we moved to Pooler, I kept getting up at that time because I kept telling myself that I should get up and exercise in the morning now that my commute is so much shorter. Instead what I did, however, was get up, make myself a cup of coffee and some breakfast, sit and eat breakfast while doing some reading, and then get ready to go to the office.

Starting the first week of January, though, I’ve mostly been getting out of bed at 6:00, so I’ve been able to get more sleep on average than most nights prior to this — it also means I’m not so prompt about getting to bed by 10:00 at night, but I wasn’t that good about it before, either, and I do try to get there before 11:00, so I’m pretty sure I’m still getting more sleep than I was before this.

Plus, getting up at 6:00 still means that I have 2 hours before I need to be at my desk, so I’ve been doing really well about getting up and exercising for about 30 minutes in the morning. And then getting dressed and ready and still having time to eat some breakfast. This is exciting for me! I feel really awesome exercising in the morning before I go to the office and sit at a desk for hours and hours.

The thing that’s difficult is that we’re supposed to leave at 4:30 and if all of us leave the office at 4:30, it has, on average, taken me about 20-30 minutes to drive the 2 miles from the parking lot at work to the parking lot at our apartment complex. I could, in fact, WALK home faster than it’s taken me to drive home. Unfortunately, the route that I need to take to get home is over the interstate, past the north and southbound exit and on-ramps, in a congested area (see the 30 minute commute problem) that’s also a popular trucking route. There are car accidents on the small stretch of road over the interstate every week because there aren’t any traffic lights on the exits and people are reckless, cutting each other off, jumping through tiny gaps in the flow of traffic, not paying enough attention to the other drivers. I’m nervous enough just driving through it in my car some days. And there’s no sidewalk or pedestrian path, so walking along the edge of the road is, quite frankly, TERRIFYING.

I am still thinking about riding my bicycle once it’s more light in the morning, but I’m not sure if I’ll be brave enough to do that.

The other thing that I’m struggling with, stupidly enough, is just plain the number of hours. See, for a while now I’ve been working between 40 – 45 hours every week. I’m salaried and the company has a policy that the first 5 hours of overtime for salaried employees are not paid. The 6th hour is paid, and the hours after that, at straight time pay. (It’s generally called “take 5″ around here. And while it’s an annoying policy, I’ve heard of other companies where salaried employees don’t get paid over 40 hours PERIOD and then are told that they have to work 50 hours in order to keep their job.) I’ve been of the impression that it was expected of me by my direct boss, because of the work that my department is doing (and getting behind on doing), that I work that unpaid overtime to make sure that I am helping my coworkers get their work done. Now, he never came out and said it directly. What he said, during a staff meeting, is that if we feel like we’ve got work that needs to get done, for the benefit of ourselves and the department, then we should make sure to work the hours that we feel are necessary to get that work completed. And that overtime has to be approved before it’s worked. So, since overtime doesn’t apply until I work 46 hours, I’d work 45 hours.

Now, it came out in a conversation just prior to Christmas that my boss didn’t know that I’m salaried. Also, that our department is considered to be working “mission critical” which means that every hour over 40 hours would be paid. I’m really not sure what hours he thought I was working, when I was in the office from 6:30 until 5:00 Monday through Thursday and then again in the office Friday morning for several hours. If he thought I was hourly, it seems like he would have needed to be concerned because hourly people get paid time and a half every hour that they work over 40 hours.

Also, he’s been the gentlemen doing my employee performance and pay review for the last two (three?) years and it’s very clear in my pay review paperwork that I’m not an hourly employee.

But whatever the case, I find myself now trying to stick as close to my 40 hours as possible, since apparently I’ve been going above and beyond what’s actually expected of me. In the conversation before Christmas, my boss (while looking surprised and embarrassed) said that he very much appreciates the work and effort that I’ve been putting in, working those hours between 40 and 45. But since it was clear that I’m not going to get paid now for having worked those hours and if I’m not expected to work those hours, then I might as well NOT work those hours.

Of course, sometimes extra hours will happen, like this past Wednesday when I was at work until 6:00 working with the engineering Lead on a scheduling situation. And, from what it sounded like when I asked my boss about what I should do about those extra hours (leave early Friday, put in for overtime, or “take 5″), unless I’ve requested and been approved for overtime ahead of time, I’m still going to end up “taking 5″ anyway.

While I’m on the topic of frustrating use of time, I’ve also apparently not been making proper use of Personal Time Off (PTO). No one ever explained it to me and reading the policy about it didn’t clear things up much, either. So when ever I had to be out of the office for an appointment or if I went home sick, I would usually just make up the time on Friday. It’s not often that I need to be out of the office for more than a full day being sick or anything, other than when I intentionally am taking a vacation. When I wasn’t able to make up a sick day later in the week, I’d put it down as a vacation day.

I guess that’s not what other people were doing. This came to light because the company recently changed the PTO policy and now I’m even more confused than I was before. And the people who were using it (I guess) properly, are really upset. Because if they take PTO and then end up working overtime, then the PTO will not get paid until they reach 40 hours of pay. So, if someone took a sick day Monday and clocked in 10 hours of PTO, worked 30 hours Tuesday through Thursday, and then came in on Friday and worked 5 hours, they now will get paid for 35 hours of work and 5 hours of PTO = 40 hours of pay. I guess before, they would get paid for 35 hours of work and 10 hours of PTO = 45 hours of pay.

Unless it was me, in which case I’d take 5 hours of vacation and 35 hours of work to get paid for 40 hours. And no one ever told me that wasn’t the way to do it. In fact, if I put in a request to my boss to ask if I could take a day off, then he would email me back and say that I was okay to do so, but that he’d expect me to make up the work. Now, in hindsight, I guess he’s saying specifically the WORK and not the HOURS, but seriously, it’s not very clear.

So people are freaking out about not getting paid for the hours that they thought they should get paid and I’m over here going “Wait… You could get paid for that?! And for working more than 40 hours?! Dang it!!”

Which really just clarifies to me that I need to figure out how to communicate with my boss more effectively.

So, I’ll be using PTO now when I go to my doctor’s appointments that are going to have to happen during my regular working hours instead of on my “off day Fridays” and not working more than 40 hours as much as I can possibly help it. And not working so much is good for me anyway.

So it’s been an interesting start of 2016 for me. I’m happy about getting to work later in the day — both for the extra sleep and the opportunity to exercise in the morning, which combined are helping to make me feel really good about myself. I’m happy to know that I’ve got this PTO thing that I’ll be learning how to use properly in the coming weeks. I’m happy that my boss knows that I’ve been putting in more hours than he expected and that he says he appreciates that, even if he’s not going to pay me for it. And that’s frustrating, but I’m going to stop working so long. And the traffic is frustrating, but only for a short distance every day. And losing my free Friday afternoons is frustrating, but the extra time in the morning makes up for it, as well as knowing that I’ll use PTO to go to my appointments.

I think it’s going to be a very interesting year and I’m excited to see what happens!