August 10, 2008: The Blissful Life of the Unemployed

Our high stress weekend continues.  Nothing has changed – and that is the source of the stress.  On Friday evening, when talking to real people with real influence, you get the sense that everything is fine and that come Monday morning we will be able to work things out and have a good resolution to the issue at hand.  But then spending the weekend with no communications (even though we were not expecting any communications) gives ample time to sit around considering all of the things that could go wrong and to worry that things won’t go well Monday morning.  Inaction, at least for me, is a huge source of stress.

Oreo had a great time at the party last night.  He had a whole yard and house in which to run around freely and two dogs to play with.  The one collie was eleven and very aged so they could not play but was very friendly and looking for attention from everyone.  It is very sad seeing a sweet dog get so old.

Dudley was there, Katie’s dog, and he and Oreo spent a lot of time running around together.  Oreo does not often get wide open space so it was a nice change for him.  They played pretty well until some kabobs were given to the dogs and some territoriality came into play.  In a surprise move, Duds, who is close to three times Oreo’s size, and a little argument with Oreo and in a flash Oreo was flipped over on his back and panicking.  We had to pull them apart pretty quickly.  That was the end of the fun night for Oreo.  After that he just wanted to be held and to relax.

We had to sleep in a bit this morning just to make up for getting in so late last night.  It was around ten thirty when we finally got out of bed.  I did a little work in the office but only a tiny bit.  Today is my last official day with a contract so I figured that I should at least do something, even if it was only symbolic.

We found out this morning that the Mazda PR5 is not going to be purchased as we had hoped.  We have been waiting for the final approval of the purchase for two weeks, or so, thinking that everything was pretty much finalized and then today, in the midst of everything else, found out that they weren’t actually interested in it.  Of course, bolstering my already hearty dislike for people’s concepts of “vacations”, we would have known this quite some time ago but people went “on vacation” and stopped communicating to the outside world – ignoring obligations because somehow some parts of society have approved the idea of a “vacation” as exempting the vacationers not only from their work obligations but from their personal ones as well.

I think that this concept is probably quite old.  When I was a child (and obviously any time before that) going on a vacation (one that involved travel, at least) meant going to a remote location where postal mail and telephones were impossible to get or unreasonably expensive for anything less than a full emergency.  But that world has past and today with the Internet, mobile phones, BlackBerries, etc. you are no less accessible while in a remote location than when sitting in your living room.  Today, having a telephone that doesn’t reach you everywhere actually costs you more, usually, than one that does not reach you everywhere.

Basically, we live in a world when the traditional concept of escapism in vacations is no longer an intrinsic feature of travel but now requires active, intentional ingnorance (in the tradition, true meaning of the word as a derivitive of the word ignore.)  You have to ignore people trying to reach you.  You have to avoid responding to people.  It is a completely different animal these days.  And this phenominon is not new.  Mobile phones have been making this shift occur since the early 1990s and the Internet has been changing it since the late 1990s.  It has been roughly eight years now, a decently long time, that there has been little to no excuse to ever be out of reach for more than half a day or less.  And now that most people use instant messaging and text messaging via mobile devices all day long any breach in ongoing communications because of a “vacation” has to be completely intentional.

I am not suggesting that people never stop working and never take a break from work.  Moreso I am saying that personal responsibilities are not curtailed in any way by a claim of “vacationing” or being out of town.  People have traditional used the idea of vacationing as a way to avoid responsibilities and communications because it was a difficult claim to dispute.  No one would be able to know if you were truly stuck in a situation without communications or not.  Today that is not true and there are so many, free or nominal cost communications modes and so little change between home, office and hotel in relation to those modes that not responding to responsibilities while away is exactly the same as not responding to them when standing face to face with someone.

If you want some sympathy from me in reference to you being helplessly out of reach you had better be backpacking through Kyrgystan and even there you will likely have intermittent phone and Internet access.  There are very, very few places left on earth where you are truly out of touch and fewer and fewer people who are comfortable being in those situations.  Most people today desperately want to keep in contact via email, phone, web, etc.  Recently I even had a conversation with my friend David while he was hanging out in a cafe in Tunisia.  He was just checking up on his email, FaceBook, etc.  It’s far more interesting, I think, vacationing in places when you can still communicate to the outside world instead of just “disappearing” for a few days and then returning with some pictures.

All of that aside, we are rather happy that we are not selling the car as we think that we will most likely want to have it once the baby arrives in November.  We need a car that can haul some things and will easily fit the baby’s car seat, Oreo, both of us and the baby’s things.  The PR5 also gets good gas mileage and has amazing snow tires.  It just had a bit of work done to it and has been sitting all summer not getting any older so its value to us is probably much higher than its street value and we had been planning on selling it at rather a bargain.  So, other than a certain desperation for cash right at the moment because of the house, we would prefer to hold on to the car.

My afternoon was spent writing a very large BASH script that will take our newly built Castile Christian Academy workstations and turn them into fully ready desktops.  It has to remove all of the unnecessary and inappropriate packages, change repositories, add in needed educational packages, change system files, detect the system’s identity and do all of our standard customizations.  It is rather involved.

I got some word, finally, from the consulting firm this afternoon but it wasn’t encouraging.  Basically, they claim that their hands are tied and they have no contracts to protect them.  It would appear that doing the “right thing” is way too much effort and so instead they see me as a scape goat and are just passing the cuts on to me… including massive monetary gains for themselves.  The original cut was just 7.5% but it escalated to 15.73% by the time that it reached me.  That means that while there was a cut (which was at their discretion and they opted to take) at the beginning I am taking more of a cut than anyone and the only person losing here is me.

In fact, everyone else is making a fortune on the deal – coming completely out of my pockets.  In addition, I took the furlough earlier in the year which was an additional 3.5% or so.  So my total cut, between March and August comes to 19.5%!!  This is insane.  And they wonder why I won’t even discuss the possibility of accepting the cut.  To make things even more stressful I have a very large amount of comp time and 401K money on the line that could very easily be taken away.  At least things look promising to have my contract moved to another pass-through vendor, but who knows what all impacts there could be along the way.  I think I need ulcer medication 😉

For dinner we ordered in Brazilian Pizza again.  It was awesome.  We ate pizza and watched two episodes of Frasier.  We are on the third season still, I think.

The weather is cooler today than it has been in a while so we decided to open the windows and let some fresh air into the apartment.  The apartment has gotten musty and stale.  The air conditioning units did not get cleaned like they are supposed to be because our bed takes up the entire room and there was no way to clear space to do the cleaning.  Or at least we imagine that that is the reason.  Nothing was said to us so we are giving the building the benefit of the doubt that the cleaning process even occurred.  It might easily have not taken place at all.

I was doing some shopping on eBay and discovered an amazing price on a high effeciency Hewlett-Packard DL145 G3 rack mount AMD Opteron based server.  It even comes with the rack mounting kit which is nice.

Andy called and we talked for an hour or so this evening.  Then it was time to walk Oreo, wrap up SGL, do a little work for the office (in the minutes running up to the end of my contract), answer emails, update Twitter and head off for bed.

No wonder it is hard for me to ever actually make it to bed!

This coming Saturday, Dominica and I have Nadine and Clarence’s wedding to attend.  So we will be gone for most of the day.  Every moment that we are not gone I am scheduled to be working – although that is obviously in some question at this point.

Leave a comment