November 13, 2011

Future Tense

Here we are gently creeping into 2012. The year that will inevitably be the end of the world. According to the Mayan's, or even Harold Camping. I used to listen to Art Bell a number of years ago when my shift work made his overnight radio program easily accessible. He used to talk about what he called "the quickening". It was his impression that technology, world events, political change, etc. were changing faster than ever. Whether this was actual or perceived was difficult to quantify but none the less interesting. I find that my perception of the world is changing as well. I'm not going to give it a moniker like "the quickening" but it does seem that events are moving at a more rapid pace. That may be due to the increased access to information and information delivery. The twenty four hour news cycle and all news cable channels give the impression of constant "breaking news" and "alerts". Natural disasters can be viewed in real-time like the Japanese tsunami. 9/11 was essentially a live event. I recall getting ready to leave for work as the second plane plowed into the towers live on Fox News. News headlines are fed to our phones and displayed on monitors in coffee shops, restaurants and gas pumps. Twenty five years ago I had no thoughts of retiring from my current job. It was just the next best job that came along. I'm now three short years away from being eligible to retire. My frustration is mounting daily with the economic situation of this job. The feeling of being "trapped" here until I retire. I could actually leave now and have the same pension benefit that I would in four years. The reason for staying is the dang retirement medical coverage. That in itself is a HUGE reason for staying. My actual wage has diminished to where I am earning a mere fifteen cents an hour more than I did when I got hired twenty five years ago. I am tempted to forego the retirement medical coverage and get a job with a wage I can survive on. Working overtime is not the way I want to increase my income stream. I treasure my days off. Having a job with lousy hours and ridiculous days off used to be offset by a decent wage that made it worth the sacrifice. No longer do I see it being "worth" anything. The company has stripped us of our hard earned benefits under the guise of keeping the doors open. Yes, this is an industry in it's death throes. I hope it can cling to existence for just a few short years.

October 11, 2011

Shameless Embedding

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September 05, 2011

Racing Towards the Future

Nearly three months having passed since I last wrote, I return with trepidation. I skimmed over my last few blog entries to get an idea of where my head was in the last quarter. In the midst of my father's passing was where I found myself. In the time that has slipped by since then there have been a number of events that have given me pause. They deal with daily life, work, family and future.

A new union contract at my place of employment has put a new perspective on a great deal of my daily life. The changes from the previous contract are significant. Top of the list would be a nine percent pay cut coupled with a completely new health care package that involves new costs and restrictions. There was also the loss of a week of vacation and the elimination of the job I currently perform. That doesn't mean I lost my job, it means I have to bump a less senior person off their job and take that one. While this has happened numerous times in the past, the current incarnation of the procedure lends itself to a paradigm shift in my overall perception of my job and near term future.

I have an opportunity to get a class A commercial driver's license with this change. I have had a class B license for about twenty years and have had the occasion to use it on the side for part time employment to supplement my income. Obtaining a class A license that will accompany me when I retire from the company in a few short years will provide an additional opportunity for work once I actually do retire. Wait...doesn't retirement mean ceasing to work? Well, at most times and in most economies it does. However, living in the San Francisco Bay Area the cost of living is astronomically high. I have been fortunate enough to earn enough so that my wife has been able to stay home and raise our kids and be a homemaker once they were old enough to fend for themselves. Now that the kids are (mostly) out of the house, my pay has descended to levels slightly above the rate I was making twenty five years ago when I started here. That does not bode well for the future. I want to be able to retire and live comfortably on my pension and whatever income I may need to earn to supplement that.

The new health care package involves changing from a PPO with little or no restrictions on who or where we went for care as long as they were in the network to an HMO. Previously we had no co-pays for office visits or medications. Great coverage you say? Yes it was. We paid dearly to maintain our coverage. Our contractual pay raises were diverted to pay for the rising costs of our health care coverage. Our new HMO has co-pays for office visits and prescriptions. We are able to stay in a Teamster plan so we retain our retirement healthcare benefit. That is essentially the only reason I stay at my current job. Sad but true. The few years I need to reach retirement are what keeps me there.

Years ago I could say that I actually enjoyed my job. We still had the worst schedules of anyone in the valley but in the past we earned enough to make it worthwhile. We had five weeks of vacation that was well deserved. This job takes it's toll on your body and your home life. You essentially live on the opposite side of the clock from the rest of your family. The middle of my work day is the middle of their night. I'm punching out and heading home when their alarm clocks are ringing. If one makes it to retirement they most assuredly posses numerous surgical scars from repairs of rotator cuffs, knee ligaments or replacements, back surgeries. The list goes on. I earned a good wage and had good benefits so subjecting myself to the rigors of the job seemed worth it since I kept a roof over our head, food on our table and we seemed to have a decent amount of disposable income. There was also camaraderie with the other guys I worked with. We could have fun, work hard and earn a good living. Fast forward to the present day.

I recently found out that I qualify for P.G.&E.'s low income rate assistance. That was an eye opening moment. I realize the industry I work in is breathing it's last gasps of breath. I know for sure that the company I currently work for does not care one bit for the struggles of it's workers. It's their bottom line. Cut, reduce, consolidate. Whatever needs to be done so the profit margin maintains some elusive level. At the moment I'm reevaluating the basic services that we bring into our home in order to see which are necessary and which are luxuries. I find us shopping more at Dollar Tree and looking for bargains in even more earnest. Juggling bill payments between paychecks seems to be my part time job now.

I don't want this to sound like I am whining because I honestly am not. I am trying to frame my current point of view and how it affects my perception of the future. I can't hardly stand the wait until I can leave this place. I know I can get an exponentially more satisfying job than this one doing something I like to do for a company that appreciates my efforts. We are currently viewed by management as overpaid. The same way they view the contractors who actually deliver their product. They are trying to cut the rate of pay to just above the point where a contractor would want to quit because it's not worth their time and effort. Here's a thought...reward your workers for the hard work they do and make them want to work for you. I know that won't happen so I've resolved to "make it through" the last few years I have to put in. Sad commentary on twenty five years of life.

The silver lining is that once I leave here, "my future's so bright, I gotta wear shades"!

June 11, 2011

My Father's Memorial Service

Just feeling the need to preserve the words I tearfully spoke at my father's memorial service Tuesday June 7, 2011. I had it all together while my brother was speaking. I read these words a dozen times. I was comfortable seeing them, hearing myself say them. I was pleased with the final product. I believe I made it past thanking the more than 400 people who attended before I started the blubbering.

How can you encapsulate your father's impact on your life into a brief statement? I can only think to use words like "profound" or "immense".

To me my father was a towering figure of knowledge, strength, wisdom and energy.

When I needed insight into what my next steps should be, his knowledge pointed me in the right direction. When I needed encouragement working towards a goal, I drew from the strength I had witnessed in him. When I needed his experience his wisdom was there to guide me. If I grew weary his unfading energy inspired me.

While my father's Earthly body has been taken from us by the ravages of cancer, that disease could never diminish the lasting impression his spirit has left on each of us.

I have said to friends and family that I can't help but have a silly grin on my face. My father is healed, walking pathways more beautiful than we can comprehend and hearing the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant." You can't ask for anything better than that.

June 03, 2011

John David Evans

I'll miss you Dad. Look for me when I get there so we can sit and have some iced tea with lemon and talk about old times.

February 19,1932 to June 3, 2011

April 26, 2011

Ticket Home

That was the subject line of the email my Mom sent out after the doctor appointment for my Dad where he was told there wasn't much that could be done for him other than try to make him comfortable. His cancer has spread to his liver and a kidney. The cancer in the lymph glands kn his legs is making mobility extremely difficult. The swelling of the lymph glands affects the circulation in his legs and they are collecting fluid. They feel like telephone poles. Thick, heavy and the skin is very tight. He is very constipated from pain meds. Just another issue to pile on top of all the others. I know both he and my mom are not afraid to die. They are both confident with the promises God has made. They are however concerned at times over the manner in which they get there!

April 16, 2011

Ethan's First Amusement Park Ride

This shot was from back in April at Funderland in Sacramento, Ca.

March 02, 2011

February 23, 2011

Fortunately I was filling up the company car. Oh, and it was only $3.67 a gallon for regular!

February 16, 2011

Sleepover for Ethan

Picking up the grandson to spend the night. These will be few and far between once they move to Sacramento. We will take full advantage of the time we have left with them being less than fifty miles away! I only wish it wasn't a work night for me. I have to sleep all afternoon and get up when it's Ethan's bed time. Still, every moment is precious.

February 15, 2011

Mobile Blogger Post

I just downloaded the official version of Blogger for Android and thought I would take it for a spin.

I'm on my luchbreak hogging the wi fi at Starbucks and pondering the increasing speed at which technology is changing the way we live our lives. That sounds like a strong statement but is certainly backed by truth.

A brief year ago I would need to be sitting at home on my computer to post to my blog. While there were ways to post by text message they were rudimentary and lacking functions. Here I am seated (albeit uncomfortable) in a Starbucks writing a blog post from my phone. Certainly not a Silicon Valley first. For me it is light years ahead of previous methods. Who knows, this may lead to posting more often than biannually. I must admit my blogging has suffered quite a bit at the hands of Facebook. The short status update was easier to do than write a tome of unkown origin or destination.

Facebook was simply a lazy way to "interact". I think I became more of a lurker than anything. I would read most friends status updates and just move on to the next. Voyeurism I suppose. Leaving a comment or a "like" would require some amount of effort with possibly a needed follow up. I guess I'm just not that interested. My own life has it's own myriad of intricacies. Why would I want to be subjected to more, let alone someone elses.

Boy does that make me sound shallow. I think there are a lot of folks who can relate to the general idea but don't nessecarily publicize it. I guess the saying is true..."give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves".

January 27, 2011

Decaf? Really?

Ethan keeping his Papa's job alive by "reading" the paper.