Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Why can’t people just do their jobs?

Today the family and I had to make a trip down the highway so that I could look at and test some self-service dog washing tables.  I’d really like to open my own self-service dog wash in our town but I don’t have the money to open the type of store I want.  Plus, I don’t want to take out a loan.  I already owe the government enough money on a bachelor’s degree and most of a master’s that I’m not using, so I’d rather not have any additional debt if I can help it.  The system I tried was nice but operated too much like a car wash with the timer clicking away at the same speed regardless if you had a teacup poodle or a mastiff.  You couldn’t judge how much it was going to cost to wash and dry the dog — and “dry” was only implied.  Air came out of the hose but if you expected a dog with short or long hair to be dried you just might as well put all the money in your bank account into the machine first because it was going to take a long time.  I’d rather have a self-service dog wash where there are tubs and professional dryers (that work) and the people pay per pound (of the dog, not themselves).  Then they’re not rushed and making a huge mess and the dogs are actually cleaned and dried well enough you wouldn’t be afraid of putting them back into your vehicle if you still had a nice interior.  However, self-operating machines like that may be what I’d have to get if I can save/raise the money.  But I’d certainly make the pricing a bit more reasonable and fair.

So, after getting Celeste cleaned, we decided we should grab some lunch.  We decided to go to The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) because (1) it was close and (2) it’s cheap.  Plus, the restaurant has carpet which would prevent Celeste from getting greasy or having whatever the last person swept under the table instead of actually cleaning stuck in her newly clean fur.  The restaurant was not crowded and we figured it would be a good place to pop in, grab a quick bite, and then head out on other errands before returning home.

I should have known once I walked in the door that it wasn’t going to be good.  The cashier and the hostess immediately began making “boo-boo” faces and voices at Celeste, trying to get her attention.  I ignored what they were doing, in the hopes that they would stop, and told the hostess that there would be three of us eating there today.  She asked if we wanted a table or a booth.  I said a booth because it’s easier for Celeste to hide out-of-the-way and she won’t accidentally stick a tail or paw into traffic (which can happen under some very small tables).  The hostess looked around and said, “Well, we have a table.”  I replied, “Then why did you ask me what I wanted if there really is no option?”  She looked puzzled and handed a wet towel to a waitress and told her to clean off the table at a booth in one of the sections.  We looked around the corner and noticed that she was cleaning off a table that was next to four other booths that were not occupied.  I chalked it up to the fact that the other section might not be staffed at that moment or that they’ve got some weird seating ritual at this particular IHOP and waited.

The waitress came back and said that the table was clean.  She looked at us as if she expected us to give her a gold star or something.  The hostess said that we were next to be seated (there wasn’t anyone else around waiting to be helped).  Then the two of them debated over who would take us to our seat.  The waitress grabbed the menus and asked us to follow her (like we’re going to go somewhere else).  As we reached the table, she looked down and said rather loudly, “Oh!  I didn’t see the dog!  I didn’t know you had one with you — I’m allergic to them!”  I gave Celeste the command to find her spot under the table and reassured the waitress that she wouldn’t be in contact with the dog at any time during our meal.  That didn’t appease her and she repeated that she was allergic to dogs.

Now, just for clarification, unless the other person is so allergic to dogs that it would send them into anaphylactic shock, typical allergies to a dog (fur, dander, etc.) which does not create a life-threatening situation is not an excuse to prohibit a person with a service dog from entering an establishment.  She could whine about it all she wanted, but I was well within my legal rights to have her with me.  As she continued to complain I interrupted her and told her that Celeste had just been bathed, would not be moving from the spot in which she was currently laying until I command her to when we’re leaving, and that we were staying right where we were to eat.  I wasn’t rude about it — I just spoke matter-of-factly and even heard someone from another table comment that I was right.

So, after this our drink orders were taken and we didn’t see the waitress again for quite some time.  Other people were finally being seated in the same section.  I began to watch to see if she was their server as well or if someone else was assigned to those tables and would we receive our items before the newcomers did.  After seeing her running back-and-forth between the kitchen and what I assumed to be the supply closet to get disposable cups, she finally brought us our drinks and took our food order.  Husband, Youngest Son and I began to secretly place bets on how long it would take two omelets and some pancakes to be made and delivered to us.

When after a while she returned with our food, we looked at it and could tell something was wrong.  Husband and Youngest Son touched their pancakes — cold and hard.  Even the scoop of butter they put on the top of them wasn’t beginning to melt.  My omelet looked done but the cheese on top of it wasn’t melted.  Youngest Son even touched his eggs and said they were cold.  We asked the waitress to return and told her that the food was cold.  She said that the plates were hot and couldn’t possibly understand how it could be cold.  Husband asked her to touch the pancakes, to which she replied, “We’re not allowed to touch the food.”  He stuck his finger into the stack and told her that they were cold all the way through.  When she began to argue that they couldn’t be cold, I reached over to Youngest Son’s plate and picked up his two over-easy eggs and held them up for her to see.  No yolk breakage.  No heat coming off of them to burn my fingers.  If you’d seen them you would have thought they were a practical joke piece.

She took the food back to the kitchen and then returned saying that she’d touched the food when she got back there and it was cold and she didn’t know why and that she would tell the manager.  She also said that within 10 minutes we’d have fresh, hot food.  We did get hot food — in less than 4 minutes.  And it looked as if it was slapped-together just to get it out of the kitchen.  Nothing was placed neatly on the plates or cooked the way we asked.

We took the food and started eating because by now we were starving.  Others in our section told us that the restaurant had been having issues and they weren’t surprised to see us sending food back.  The first question that crossed my mind was, “If you know the restaurant is having issues with people sending food back, why are you here?” but I didn’t ask it.

As we ate, we tried to stomach what we had and laughed when the pancakes that Husband ordered split apart as if they had been frozen previously and barely reheated.  I guess the “International” part of IHOP is imported pancakes because every one was identical, right down to the dark coloring you’d see if they’d been done on a griddle.  I’ve made quite a few pancakes in my time and I’ve never been able to get them all identical.

We continued to eat and a gentleman walked up behind Husband and asked if things were okay.  No name tag.  No identification of any kind.  Husband asked who he was and when he identified himself as the manager, Husband said he wondered when he was going to show-up to see why we were upset with our meal.  The gentleman looked puzzled.  He had no idea we were upset.  The waitress rushed over and told us that she had told a different manager and apologized to this manager for not making him aware as well and then began to describe all of the previous events to him.  He asked if we wanted new plates of food, which we politely declined and explained that we weren’t from that town and needed to get back on the road to finish errands and return home and waiting again for new food would put us even further behind schedule.

Husband and I have always joked that we’re just cursed to receive bad food and/or service at restaurants.  There was a time when Youngest Son was still an infant that we went to the same restaurant three times because they kept inviting us back for free meals after (1) I was poisoned by dishwashing liquid that had been spilled on the fish I ordered and (2) when we came back for the free meal after that incident a bee was found curled-up (and dead) inside a leaf of lettuce in Husband’s salad.  The manager of that restaurant admitted that they weren’t making a better impression on us and was soon replaced.  Sometimes we laugh when we’re out because a manager will walk by our table and ask us how we’re doing but not say anything to other diners.  We wonder if they’ve got big pictures of us up in the kitchen warning them that we’ve had crap service at other corporate chains and to be on the lookout for us.

The manager said that he would look into what happened and disappeared.  We started to eat as fast as we could because we didn’t want anything except to get the heck out of there and back on our way.  The manager returned and attempted to pick up the ticket that the waitress had laid on the table after bringing the second attempt at our lunch.  Husband slapped his hand down upon the ticket and said that we would pay for our food.  The manager looked confused and said that he wanted to pay for the meal.  Husband said that all we wanted were two things to happen — Number 1, for the employees to do their jobs and get it right because without customer satisfaction there won’t be customers and then they won’t have a job; and Number 2, for the employees to be advised on how to properly act around a service dog because they are working dogs and are not to be distracted when doing their jobs.  The manager insisted again on paying for our meal, but we weren’t going to allow it.  We ate the food, so we should pay for the food.  That always shocks them because a lot of times they’re used to someone just trying to get a free meal.  If we couldn’t afford the food, we wouldn’t be there in the first place.  Plus, the bottom of the ticket has the order number and the 1-800-number the corporation wants customers to call to answer a survey and give comments on our visit.

And trust me, we will.


You may be a winner? Not me.

No new information today.  No responses from my requests for information.  No scheduling of appointments with the low-vision center.  Nothing.  Not even a wrong-number phone call or junk mail in the mailbox.

A pretty dull day, if I do say so myself.  I’m not going to complain about it too loudly, though.  A dull day also means nothing bad happened and that’s a good thing.

Oh, and to those who follow this blog — I’ll still be posting tomorrow unless I’m deathly ill.  I didn’t buy a lottery ticket today.  I couldn’t see the sense in getting all fired-up over the surety that I won’t win the huge jackpot when compared with the miniscule odds that I could maybe possibly win it.  At least when I wake up in the morning I won’t be disappointed that I didn’t win.

Of course, if any of you do win, I can think of many good charities, research projects, and recently unemployed bloggers that could put even the smallest amount of money to very good use.  Just let me know how much you’d like to donate.

Let’s see what this gets me….

I’ve been trying to be patient about finding out why I wasn’t reappointed to my position with a federal government agency.  And, yes, I know that “at-will” employees can be hired or fired or can quit at any time for any reason (or no reason at all).  But the more I see other friends receiving their reappointment letters — and a well-deserved “Congratulations!” to them — it’s getting depressing being the only person I know so far who has not had their job renewed.  And it makes me continue to wonder why since no one has ever complained about my work.  Well, at least not to my face or through channels where something could be done about it.

So, today I took a risk.  I’m tired of sitting and waiting for something to happen.  I’m tired of always trying to “play it safe” and “keep my cards close to my chest” in matters like this.  This might help me at least get an honest answer or it might totally blow-up in my face and ruin any attempt I could ever have at getting another position like the one I had.  But I had to do something.

I contacted the Equal Rights Officer with whom I worked last year when I was obtaining Celeste and having issues getting reasonable accommodations for my service dog.  I even tried to explain to “the powers-that-be” that having her would help me become more deployable and help me with my work since she would help mitigate any problems my disabilities would present.  I never thought trying to get something I’m legally entitled to could be so hard!  All of the letter writing and arguing over whether or not someone with no medical experience believed that my prescribed service dog would be helpful to me and appropriate for an office setting.  It’s not like she’s going to do anything other than lay under my desk all day (except when I take her outside for walks).

Here’s some of what I sent to him today (edited for privacy):

I’ve recently received a letter of non-reappointment regarding my [employment title] status.  This is confusing to me because I’ve never in the almost-8 years I’ve worked for [Federal Agency Acronym Here] received a negative performance review and I am often requested for specific disasters.  I have not been available the first part of this year as I have been undergoing ophthalmologic  testing due to my inability to have my vision corrected above 20/50 with glasses.  I am currently awaiting an appointment with the Low-Vision Center at [name of prestigious university here] so that they can help me find adaptive equipment and techniques so that I can continue to work.  After the appointment, I’d planned to make myself available again.

Through friendships on social media sites, I’ve seen people posting that they’ve received their letters and so far I am the only one who’s posted a non-reappointment notice.  I have emailed my (now former) Cadre Manager, [Name], and his assistant, [Name], for additional information and have been given the following response:

[Insert copy of standardized response paragraph previously inserted into other related blog posts regarding “reason for non-reappointment”]

I even emailed [Name] asking if the reason for my non-reappointment was something negative because it would be fruitless for me to apply to another Cadre if there is something negative preventing my reappointment.  Again, I was sent an email with only that paragraph in it.  I’ve also seen the new FAQs for the NDRP transition and no new DAEs are being recruited or appointed, which makes the “free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre” statement moot.  Additionally, the NDRP program is not currently accepting applications either as they attempt to transfer reappointed DAEs to the new system.  However, I have sent my résumé to the IWMO liaison for [formerly employed location] who has stated she will share it with all other regions and HQ in the hopes that perhaps there might be an available slot somewhere.

I don’t want to believe that it’s because I now have a service dog that I’ve not been reappointed, but with phrases such as “a more nimble organization” in the paragraph sent to me it raised my suspicions even more.

If there is any information or advice you could provide, I would greatly appreciate it.  This has all come as quite a shock to me and many of my (now former) co-workers.   I do understand that as a [employment title] I am a temporary, intermittent, “at-will” employee — but to receive no feedback regarding the reason why I would not be reappointed and to see terminology as mentioned above only makes me feel that [Federal Agency Acronym Here] is not willing to accommodate employees with disabilities.  I hope I’m wrong, but that’s the message I’m receiving.

Maybe I’ve shot myself in the foot with this.  Maybe I’ll just be marked as a “troublemaker” because I won’t take “no comment” for an answer.  Maybe I’ll be a model for other disabled persons who have been indirectly discriminated against.  Who knows what will happen.

All I know right now is that I feel better just for having sent the letter.  And I’ve received advice/comments from family/friends on other steps I might be able to take if I still can’t get an answer after this.  Whether or not I get my job “back” is irrelevant.  What’s important here is knowing the truth.  When you’re the only person you know who’s not been rehired but you’re also the only person you know with a disability, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions — which is why I want the honest answer.

I don’t wanna post today!

With everything that’s been going on recently, the last thing I want to do right now is sit in front of the computer and try to be witty.  I went to my therapy session today and feel like nothing much came out of that.  My therapist is stunned that I wasn’t reappointed for my job and has the same outlook I have on me finding another job anywhere around here — grim.

It’s easy to look at the job services online listings and other search engines for positions and find things I’m qualified for or would be willing to learn.  It’s harder to go into the job location to fill-out an application, drop off a resumé or complete an interview with an 85-pound service dog with you that they weren’t expecting.  You can see it in their eyes.  They’re trying to figure out why you’re there with your “pet” or how you could possibly be able to do any work if you’re “that” disabled that you need a service animal, especially when you’re not in a wheelchair or showing any visible signs of a disability.  And the usual answers of “You’re qualified, but not qualified enough,” or “You’re overqualified for this position” roll off their lips as if they’ve had their mind made-up all along (which, they probably have).

Today has just been a sucky day and I’m not in the mood to deal with much else.  I had an idea for a business I could open that would help me as well as many others in our community, and then found that someone else is already starting one.  And even though I know mine would be WAY better and most likely more successful, without the money to start it up, it’s just not going to happen.

And now the “voices” are even arguing over which is more negative or depressive because that’s what they do when I’m in a funk.  It’s gonna be a long night.

Non-reappointment not making sense

So, some of you will remember the other day when I posted that my job had ended because I wasn’t chosen to have my position reappointed for another two years.  In the letter I received, this was the explanation given:

March 24th, 2012 marks the end of the current appointment period.  Per the Stafford Act and the Conditions of Employment, you have not been reappointed.  However, you are free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre.

I wrote to my (now former) supervisors to request an explanation on why I wouldn’t be reappointed, especially since I have almost 8 years with the organization and have never received a negative mark on any performance evaluations.  That was on Saturday (March 24th) and I didn’t hear anything back until today.  Here’s what I got:

March 24th 2012 marked the end of the current appointment period for all DAE’s.  We were asked to evaluate our current work force needs based on (insert Governmental Agency Acronym here)‘s mission. This required making some difficult decisions.  Clearly we had people who had contributed to our mission for a long time and were good employees.  However, our current and projected staffing needs meant we needed a more nimble organization, which required making some very hard choices.  At this time, it was determined per the Stafford Act and your Conditions of Employment, to allow your appointment to expire.  You are free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre.

I asked for the definition of a “more nimble organization” but only received the same paragraph in response.

“More nimble organization” — what the heck does that mean?  It’s not like we’re in the military having to carry packs of equipment on our backs.  Heck, some co-workers I’ve seen have barely lifted a ream of paper to refill a copy machine.  And if they’re talking about age, I’m only 41 and most of my dearest friends who work with this organization (for now at least) are much older than I am.

I also asked if I’m qualified to apply for an appointment within another Cadre and received no answer.  I then found the following information posted regarding the way all of the new changes are coming about:

Q: How will someone become part of the National Disaster Reservist Program?  A: More information on opportunities and the process for obtaining appointments to the NDRP will be forthcoming in the next 60 days.

Q: I understand that there is a hiring freeze of DAEs now, is this true?  A: Yes and no.  Any person who is not currently employed by (insert Governmental Organization Acronym here), current local hires, and those who are seeking employment as a new DAE are being asked to wait until the NDRP is fully functional.  Any Permanent Full-Time, Temporary Full-Time, or CORE employee who is transitioning to become a DAE will have their transition processed so that they do not have a break in service which would impact items such as their health care benefits.

As I read this — and someone please correct me if I’ve got it all wrong — there’s a new program that will be called the NDRP.  You can’t apply for it right now but they might have information on how to obtain an appointment in it within approximately 60 days (this is the government, you know).  And if you were a DAE but you’re not one now because you weren’t reappointed, you can’t apply for a new position in a new Cadre because there’s a hiring freeze.

This doesn’t make sense!  If you can’t reapply for your job or for a new one in a new Cadre, then why tell us we can?

Now, there is a clause in our Conditions of Employment that says they can release us at any time for any reason because we’re temporary intermittent workers.  But I smell something fishy here.  They talk about the type of “ideal” workforce they need, not simply that they have to reduce the number of employees.  And for a number of people, myself included, who might have unavoidable “difficulties” in meeting the “ideal” (I’ll let y’all work that definition out for yourselves), this doesn’t sound right.

Well, that’s all I’m going to say about it for now.  I’m waiting on a call from the low-vision center so I can be evaluated for adaptive technologies to help me continue to be able to work, in this job or any other one I might be able to obtain.  I’ve advised them that the rush to get me in isn’t as much of a priority at the moment since I’m not in a position to be employed soon but they’re still trying to help me speed-up the process.  We’ll see what happens.

Discovery’s Mythbusters: Duct Tape Island and Unchained Reaction episode 2

Yeah, I know.  I should have posted my reviews last night but I was really busy and the whole fence thing had me miffed.  Today it wasn’t any better as I found my decorative fencing around my precious morel mushrooms moved (looks like it was kicked), but I digress.

Last night was Discovery Channel’s night for the new season of Mythbusters and for the second episode of Unchained Reaction.  One was slightly impressive while the other was educational but way too hokey to believe.

I’ll start with Mythbusters: Duct Tape Island — a one-hour episode featuring only Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman as they attempt to survive on a desert island with only duct tape available to them.  I had a feeling the show was going to be silly because the announcer said they had “an endless supply” of it.  So, if you thought that the small pallet of duct tape that “washed-up” on the beach was all they had, think again.  And we all knew that they wouldn’t actually be in danger of starving or dehydrating because they had a camera crew with them.  It’s not like we’re watching Survivorman, y’all.

In the intro to the “story,” they show the outline of an island.  Anyone with basic U.S. geography skills would have immediately recognized the shape as the silhouette of Oahu, one of the Hawaiian Islands.  If you need more information, it’s the island where Honolulu and Pearl Harbor are located.  Oahu is definitely not deserted, but they were able to find a beach resort where they could film their show.

Oh, did I say “resort?”  Why, yes I did — and that’s an important thing to remember while reading the rest of this review (remember “Turtle Bay” and Lost).

So, the guys are “stranded” and have to figure out how to signal for help, find water, find food, make clothing, make a shelter, stay focused, and escape from the island.  Signaling for help was easy.  They created a huge “SOS” sign out of duct tape and rocks on the beach.  The down side to their attempt is that duct tape is gray and doesn’t reflect well when covered with sand, making it harder for someone overhead to see.

When they attempted to find water, they did stage a good explanation of how you can’t drink just any water you find lying around.  Jamie (the brains) and Adam (Captain ADD-man) were each given different tasks to find water.  Jamie used the shrink-wrap that covered the pallet of duct tape to make a solar still in order to collect water.  While it’s a good and scientific idea, a solar still would not make enough water for two people in a reasonable amount of time.  Evaporation and condensation takes a while and it wasn’t a plausible idea for them.  Adam, however, did find running fresh water and made a water-bag out of duct tape so he could return with potable water for them to enjoy.

Both of the guys created unique shoes using duct tape which made walking on the hot sand, grasses, and rocks more bearable.  Adam even made himself a hat since he is very susceptible to the rays of the sun on his fair skin, and so that people who are used to him wearing his Stetson while Jamie has his iconic beret (which was present) could tell them apart.

As for finding food, Jamie was rather ingenious and successful in spear fishing.  He used bamboo and wood shards to create a multi-pronged spear and even added a small duct tape retrieval string and marked the center of balance to make it easier for him to throw.  Once he got off the shore and into the water, he actually speared a small fish.  True, he’d need a lot more than that to feed both of them, but it was successful and fun to watch.  Adam, however, was running around in the jungle after feral chickens.  Realizing that he could not catch one on foot, he first tried a simple snare trap with duct tape “wire” (which didn’t work) and then made a net out of the duct tape with which to catch a passing chicken.  The first chicken “caught” escaped through a hole in the side but the second was successfully captured.  Then, Adam made the announcement that the chicken they would be seen eating in a later scene was store-bought and not the chicken he had just caught.  The part he didn’t explain is that feral chickens are protected as wildlife in Hawaii and cannot be captured without special permits/licenses.  And Jamie didn’t eat the fish he caught either.  Both sat on the beach with their duct tape bag of fried chicken and duct tape platter of raw tuna and discussed how proud they were of their hunting abilities.

Adam created a “permanent camp” out of duct tape with hammocks and even a small table and stools with a duct tape chess set (to help them stay focused).  It seemed odd that they’d try to make a “permanent camp” if they were trying to escape from the island, but it’s television and if you try to reason it out too much you’ll just give yourself a headache.  Jamie made himself a surfboard out of duct tape and took it for a quick float in the ocean (he wasn’t able to stand up on it).  Finally, the guys made an outrigger canoe that surprisingly weighed just over 100 pounds from bamboo and duct tape that carried them and their “6-week supply of rations” out into the ocean.  I was impressed that they were able to make it over the breaker waves without the boat twisting or sinking.  Jamie even noted that the only water he was having to bail was what Adam was sloshing into the boat with his poor rowing skills.  Finally, they “found land” and disembarked their canoe, only to find they were back on the same beach as before (cue comedic sound effects and rimshot).

And why wouldn’t they return to the same beach?  They never left it.  Well, except to sleep and eat and get refreshed before continuing the shooting for each of the seven days they were out there.  They did not sleep on their duct tape pads nor in their duct tape hammocks.  They stayed at the Turtle Bay Resort with the rest of the crew and used locations that were utilized in the filming of the show Lost.  That way, they knew where everything was and how easily to get their inventions built and useable.  In one of the outtakes Adam makes a comment that there are too many footprints in the sand for it to be a deserted island.  While it was fun to watch, it was quite disappointing to know that they weren’t really trying to survive at any point.  Sure, they showed how duct tape can work in many ways, but it still took all of the fun out of it.  I’m sure they did it that way because the insurance companies wouldn’t want Discovery losing two of their biggest stars.

And Discovery has used two of their biggest stars to hawk their new show Unchained Reaction.  I’m not sure how much of it really is/isn’t Adam and Jamie’s idea, but having them introduce the theme, pretending to watch the building of the chain-reaction gags, and then coming out to “judge” and announce the winner doesn’t really sell me that it’s their idea.  I wasn’t impressed with the premiere episode, but I thought I’d give the second one a chance.

In the “Fire and Ice” episode, a team of aerospace engineers went up against a team of special effects specialists.  They had to use fire and ice in their contraptions and had to have a minimum of five gags that would continuously set off the next as well as be innovative and entertaining.  Halfway through the build, Adam and Jamie “gave” each team a compact car that they had to incorporate into the middle of their machine and it all had to be completed within five days.

The aerospace engineers did some really neat things with the fire and ice and showing fire making steam and melted ice (water) conducting electricity after salt was added when it was tripped into a tank.  They even got the closest to a Rube Goldberg Machine concept because they stated that they wanted their machine to raise a flag at the end in a miniature moonscape diorama.  Sadly, the beginning of their machine didn’t work as planned but they did get the flag raised in the end, after nearly hitting Adam and Jamie and special guest judge Adam Sadowsky, president of Syyn Labs and creator of the Rube Goldberg machine for the OK Go video, with a rocket that flew across the room into a refrigerator to trigger the flag.

The special effects team didn’t get as technical but were a lot flashier with their contraption.  They used fire and ice in their gags as well as melting a huge block of ice in a cauldron of fire to turn a waterwheel underneath it to trigger another gag.  They had explosive results and it was a lot of fun to watch.  They won the contest because their machine worked and had no issues.

I think what I became the most tired of hearing throughout the show was how they were trying to impress Adam and Jamie.  It was always “Adam and Jamie would want” this and “Adam and Jamie think like” that but Adam and Jamie aren’t really in the show.  I’ll probably watch the next episode to see if the third time’s the charm on getting me to like it.  But at the moment, they could take Adam and Jamie out of it, make it about creating actual Rube Goldberg Machines (that have to complete a specific task) and it would be a lot more fun to watch.

I want another fence

What is it with stupid neighbors who don’t understand property lines?  The same ones we’ve been having issues with still haven’t removed the concrete they poured almost two years ago that’s on our side of the line.  They also still haven’t moved their bratty kid’s tree (which isn’t growing very well — not my fault, I’ve not touched it).

Yesterday, the gentleman who mows our yard came and made sure that everything looks good for the beginning of spring.  We even found some morel mushrooms growing in part of our yard.  They’re now surrounded by decorative wire fencing so that the stupid neighbors realize that (1) they’re ours and (2) to leave them the heck alone.  I plan on using them in something nice after they get a little bigger and I don’t want their kids coming over and killing them.  Our lawn mower even made sure to trim gently around them so they wouldn’t be damaged and finished the yard by also making sure to trim around the line of marking string we stretched between the two pins denoting the property line between our house and our stupid neighbors.

Today, the stupid neighbors decided to mow their yard and promptly cut the string.  Instead of attempting to repair it or letting us know (it is our string, after all), they threw it away.  And, instead of digging-up and moving the little tree, they tried to make it better.  Husband finally went out and spoke with Mr. Stupid Neighbor and informed him that we had agreed that when spring arrived, everything would be moved/removed/etc. so that we can expand our driveway to our property line as planned.  Mr. Stupid Neighbor thought for some strange reason that we were going to sell him the strip of land his concrete is over the line and where the kid’s tree is.  He wants us to sell it to him because his property line on the other side of his house is actually inside the house on the other side of his.  He never bothered to have a survey done and never knew that he bought a crappy plot of land.

Husband explained that we were not going to sell the strip of land and Mr. Stupid Neighbor said everything would be gone within the week.  We’ll see.  But after their conversation, the bratty kids came out and were playing baseball, using our new fence as a backstop.  And they nearly tripped over the metal “fencing” I placed around my mushrooms.

Maybe I can save enough money to have another fence built on our side of the line from where our privacy fence ends all the way to the pin at the front of the house (it marks the easement of the curb owned by the City).  It wouldn’t be a big fence.  Just something nice and decorative.  Something that wouldn’t block anyone’s view if they’re pulling out of the driveway.  Something that would give the stupid neighbors the idea that we take our land/house ownership seriously and don’t want their kids or friends or vehicles or dogs in our yard unless we invite them.

And I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Officially (via post) unemployed.

March 24th, 2012 marks the end of the current appointment period.  Per the Stafford Act and the Conditions of Employment, you have not been reappointed.  However, you are free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre.

Not exactly the letter I was expecting to receive today, but there you have it.  I’ve worked with the government since 2004 and as a temporary, intermittent employee, they can choose to reappoint or not at will.  I thought my work was strong.  I have never received a poor performance review.  And I have even had people request for me to be on their team(s) because they know about my work ethic and ability to get the job done.

In one sense, I’m not happy.  I don’t know why the appointment wasn’t renewed and I’m not used to having a job and then not having one without another lined-up waiting in the wings (it’s actually quite embarrassing).  In another sense, it now relieves the stress of what would happen should I be called-out to work in the immediate future before I finish my work with my doctors and therapists regarding my vision issues and how I’ll be able to keep working with them.  And, by not having to travel cross-country I don’t have to worry about trying to get on a plane with Celeste and having issues with other passengers.

True, the job has always been temporary.  It’s kind of morbid, when you think about it, being the only person watching The Weather Channel and rooting for the hurricane so that there would be work so I could pay my bills.  Oh, I’d always temper that with the hopes that no one would be killed or seriously injured.  Just enough damages so I could use my skills helping others and making sure there’s food on the table back home.

I’ve emailed my (now former) supervisors for a personal explanation — just so I’ll know whether or not it’s worth trying to apply with another Cadre.  If they’re saying something awful about me that I don’t know about, it would be foolish to put them down as a reference and apply with others who have or will hear the same things said.  With today being Saturday, I know I probably won’t get a response until Monday, if then (since everyone’s busy).  I hope that they’ll be able to give me the information needed and perhaps suggest other Cadre managers that I should speak with regarding applying to work in their units where my education, experience, and talents would be well-suited.

Am I angry?  No.  Am I happy?  No.  My feelings at the moment are mixed — which is not unusual for someone who’s bi-polar.  It’s weird to think that a lot of my friends will continue their careers without me and we won’t have those wonderful stories to tell together of the good and bad times we shared.  Many of my friends taught me what it was like to work in this field; many of my other friends I helped get started on their way.

If nothing else, I can look back at 8 years of employment with the satisfaction that I did my job.  I did it well.  People were helped because of me.  And even though I didn’t always receive a “thank you” or a “kiss my backside” (depending on the situation), I was there and did the best I could.  And knowing that my best helped others achieve their best, or at least attempt to get back to “normal” after what was possibly the “worst” time in their life, makes a big difference to me.

Final test result received!

My neuro-opthalmalogist just called with the results of my ERG test I had last Friday.  He apologized that he’d not contacted me earlier with the results.  He thought that I still had the test to take and not that the results were waiting on his desk (since he runs the lab for the university).

The ERG (Electroretinography) came back normal.  All of the little rods and cones in my retinas were firing signals to my brain during the test as they should, with the typical degeneration that would be seen in a 40-year-old patient.  And he reviewed the MRI results again and said that there were no signs of strokes, tumors, MS (Multiple Sclerosis), or anything else that he could see that would be causing my optical problems.

I’m very relieved.  At least we now know that there’s not something incredibly serious and/or possibly life-threatening happening in my brain.  The only down side (which he admitted as well) is that we still don’t know why I can’t see at night, why my vision cannot be corrected with glasses to better than 20/60 (bordering on not being legally able to drive at any time in our state), and why I have headaches so often every month.  But the best thing I heard come out of his mouth was this — that it’s not just “all in my head.”  He believes there’s something wrong and believes that I’m not making it up.  Finally!!!  Someone understands!!!

True, he did mention that all of this could just fix itself with time.  That would be wonderful.  How much time, though, isn’t known.  I can’t put my life on hold waiting for something to magically happen.  He also said that, technically, it could just get worse in time.  That’s not terribly reassuring either.  But, he’s got an idea to at least help me cope with it and make the best out of what vision I do have remaining.

He’s going to refer me to the university’s low-vision center/occupational therapy center.  There, I can work with them using what I can do and find adaptive materials/equipment to help me be able to work and continue a “normal” life.  Driving may still be an issue, but they can help me with that or at least help me get assistance with my employer for reasonable accommodation.  And, with them being part of the same university, any marked changes — better or worse — can be noted and directed to my doctor quickly so that he can see me if needed and help us determine a more definite “diagnosis” of what’s happening.

But, at least I know it’s not something genetic that could pass-down to my sons and I know Husband is feeling much better knowing that there’s not a ticking time bomb in my head.  He said he always knew that I was crazy, so now knowing that there’s nothing else wrong up there is fine with him.

I didn’t get all of the answers I wanted, but I got what I needed.  And, yes, I may be crazy — but at least now the “it’s-all-in-your-head diagnosis” can be laid to rest.

Youngest Son: Unplugged

Teenagers.  They think they know it all.  They think that they’re the first person to ever think of or do something in the history of everything.  They believe they’re invincible, physically and emotionally, and that they can do what they want, when they want, how they want, and that parents will never know the difference.

Where have I heard this before?  Oh….that’s right!  I posted about how Youngest Son tried to abuse his Facebook privileges and posted items that were not appropriate.  And that post was only two days ago!  And guess what?  He tries to pull another stunt like I won’t punish him twice in a week.

Today I allowed him to look at his Facebook page while I monitored everything he viewed.  I only allowed him 15 minutes of time online because he’s still on my naughty list for the previous infraction.  Today, however, he did use common sense and didn’t repost items from his friends and even avoided watching videos some had posted because he knows that the house rules say he’s not allowed to open documents or watch videos without prior permission (because of the possibility of viruses, etc.).

This evening, he went into where the family computer is and asked Husband if he could look at his Facebook page.  Husband was in the process of signing-in to a website and told him that he (Youngest Son) could not look at his Facebook page at that time because he (Husband) was using the computer.  Youngest Son stomped into the living room where I was watching television.  I had not heard anything from the other room and asked why he was so upset.  He told me that Husband had stated that he (Husband) would never supervise him while he looks at his Facebook page and was upset about it.

I went into the other room and asked Husband why he wouldn’t share the responsibility of supervising Youngest Son on the computer.  Husband said that he didn’t say that and called Youngest Son into the room.  Finally, I got to the truth — that Youngest Son had lied to me in order to try to get me to make Husband let him (Youngest Son) use the computer.

Wrong move.

My kids have known all their lives that one of the worst things to do is to try to play Husband and myself against each other.  Asking for permission from one and getting rejected and running to the other to ask the same question hoping for a different answer is not allowed.  And getting caught doing it, well, that’s just going to make any punishment worse.

So, tonight I decided that Youngest Son needs a good example of just how much he won’t die without Facebook.  Or the Internet as a whole.  Or his cell phone.  Or any other electronic devices.

That’s right.  I’ve unplugged a 13-year-old, much to his disappointment, and he can now learn for the rest of this week and all of next week (into the weekend as well) what it was like when his father and I didn’t have video games or text messaging or television (except when the news was on when our parents watched it).  Nothing electronic will be allowed.  Not even small toys that run on button batteries.  He can read, draw, walk the dog — lots of activities that generations of us did before every child seemed born with a Nintendo DS in their hands.

He’ll only be allowed to have his cell phone when we leave home (in case of emergencies) and when he’s at school (for emergencies only as well).  No portable game systems.  No console game systems.  No MP3 players.  He can use his calculator for math class but he won’t because he doesn’t need it.  And he can listen to the radio when he’s going to bed because he’s got the same problem I have — if it’s too quiet when trying to go to sleep, sleep never comes.

And Husband and I won’t be punishing ourselves through this.  We can use all of the electronics we want.  We can watch the only television in the house when we want (he’ll just have to go to his room).  And we can play all the video games we want, even though we won’t.  I’ve always hated it when trying to punish a child and ending up being on the receiving end of the same punishment (no television, etc.).  Now he’ll have to deal with hearing us going on with our lives while he contemplates the error of his ways.

Hopefully he will learn from this, even though it does give me an easy topic to blog about when nothing else happens during the day.

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