Drudging along

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Today marks five days of working from home while miserably sick. Telecommuting has it’s advantages, though I have debated whether or not this is actually one of them.

Sure, I have sick days I could have used. But after being away from work for more than a week because of vacation, taking additional days away because I am sick doesn’t seem fair to my team and for all intents and purposes it hardly seems fair to me…the work load after being gone for vacation was bad enough. Add more because of being sick? It would have been overwhelming!

Sure, working while sick is miserable…on top of already being miserable. But, someone has to make money in the house. Sitting around all day focusing on how miserable I feel doesn’t make me feel better. At least there is some progress being made at work, even though I am not physically AT work. Telecommuting has it’s advantages in that I can still work without being required to take those sick days off. In another setting, I would have had to burn these days. In another job, these days would also go unpaid. That would add a whole level of personal stress so I am thankful for what I have.

However, there have been several times over the last couple of days that I wondered if I was going to be able to keep drudging along. Coughing into a headset while working with a client isn’t a good idea. Constantly sniffling/snorting snot isn’t a good sound. The throbbing in the sinus region pounds out a reminder that says, “Don’t think you’re even close to relief…” The wheezing in the chest, the rattling of gunk down there in the lungs, well, that makes for a pleasant surprise when a cough actually produces something to dispose of. The light headedness after a coughing fit is enjoyable only in the sense that the desire to lay my head on the desk for a brief period of time might lead to a nap…only to remind myself that I am supposed to be working.

I have taken a nap nearly every day during my lunch break. Those are a pleasant reprieve. Only to be awakened by an alarm that says I need to return to work. Damn oppresive alarms….

Anyway, I might be starting to feel better. It’s only been five actual work days, and probably five actual days of being positive (I don’t really know since my symptoms got worse after my last test and I refuse to waste a test if I am nearly 100% positive I know what I have). I’ll test again tomorrow to see what the status is. That’s give me a direction about whether or not I can return to the office early next week. I’ll follow that up with another test on Sunday, just to be sure it is safe.

Keep your heads down.

Paper jam

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I’d really like to thank whichever co-worker(s) continually jams the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom. It takes talent to do it on a regular basis and make it so others can’t use it.

Pulling the paper out and away from the dispenser has proven time and again to be the most effective way to use the dispenser. The cutter inside the machine works best that way. It cuts the paper towels just like it supposed to.

But whomever is doing this jamming thing, consistently pulls the paper towels sideways thus gathing all the paper in the corner, bunching the paper into a wad and rendering the cutter ineffective because it isn’t in that part of the dispenser. The next time the autofeed runs (because it is a sensor) it rolls the paper up into a tangle inside the machine, further jamming the dispenser even more.

It’s a pretty simple design and the function is also pretty simple. So, making it complicated can only mean that the person doing this is a moron. Continually a moron.

Thanks, moron.

Perhaps they need to have a paper towel dispenser orientation in the bathroom during the building tour given to new hires. It seems silly but is likely the only solution to this problem.

Clueless Chris

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It’s interesting that there are people doing jobs for others and they have no actual idea what the person they are working for does. A while back I mentioned that I was having “retirement envy” and that I was starting to wonder how I was doing on progression towards that goal (an evaluation) and possibly planning for the future. I have an acquaintance/ friend that I have known for a long time and it was my understanding that he did financial planning, as well as insurance sales.

Well, I called and booked an appointment and talked with whomever was answering phones, a guy named Chris. He didn’t get a lot of info from me (didn’t even ask my last name) and didn’t really even ask what it was that I wanted to meet about. I let him know with the initial phone call I was looking at financial planning for retirement. He booked the appointment.

I got a call today to confirm the appointment and when I confirmed that I would be there, I again mentioned that I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to bring to the appointment. He said he would find out because he wasn’t sure. He called back and told me to bring documentation for insurance comparison. I let him know that isn’t what I was coming in for. That I wanted financial planning. I asked if I had misunderstood what services were being offered. Again, he didn’t know and was going to ask his boss.

Huh.

You would think that if you work there you would have some understanding of what your boss does and what services are offered.

Needless to say, the first impression of the office person isn’t a good one. Clueless Chris may be hurting the business if the communication is this clumsy about what services are offered by the office he works in.

I have a feeling the meeting this afternoon is going to get cancelled as I am not exactly looking for insurance (well, maybe some additional life insurance, but that isn’t high priority) at this point.

Just mediocre

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I have a meeting with my supervisor, or manager, later today. It’s kind of a “check-in” and not an evaluation or anything like that. It’s a time to just chat about how things are going, visit, and a time to voice concerns, suggestions, etc.

So, the meeting usually starts with the same question, or the same line of questions – “How’s it going? How are you feeling?”

Over the last several years, it been getting harder and harder to answer those questions. Do I really (I mean REALLY) tell the truth or do I just minimize what or how I am feeling and fudge the truth? In the past, it never felt like I needed to hedge the truth (much). I felt like I could be honest. But, as time has gone on, there isn’t the same feeling with my manager, isn’t the same feeling in the team, and isn’t the same feeling in the organization. It’s hard to pinpoint the change, but much of it stems from the feeling that management is no longer listening to what we need or want, isn’t willing to be work with people, and then really that translates to they don’t really care what the employees telling them. Granted, it’s a government job of sorts, so that hasn’t ever really been totally true but over the last several years it has not gone in a positive direction.

What do I say this afternoon?

Well, for one thing I will say that I don’t feel like I am doing the best job I possibly can. It has become increasingly difficult to do a good job.

Part of the reason is because our team has shrunk over the last year and it has been an incredibly slow process of bringing on people to replace those we have lost. There have been three new hires since the beginning of the year, but it takes time to get them up to speed (they have three years to be “proficient”) so they don’t contribute to an even distribution of the workload. Their knowledge base just doesn’t afford for that to happen. Additionally, because everyone has had to pick up extra slack, the projects we need to work on and the new knowledge we need to develop as experience software analysts can’t be done. Everything gets put on hold.

Another part of the problem is that we are supporting two different versions of the software at the same time. The migration process that was originally thought to take three years has turned into a disappointingly difficult process because of the poor development from the software creator. As such, there have been so many hurdles to overcome, software issues in the newer version of the software, that the process is now running on five years and there is at least another 3-5 to go before everyone is back to using the same software again. Learning and troubleshooting the newer version is slow, tedious, and unpredictable because when there are issues we are never sure if that is the way it was designed and supposed to work or if it is broken and needs fixed. Then trying to get the creator to make it work like schools need it to work (or at least similarly as the current software they already know and use) has been frustrating and tiring.

Needless to say, I don’t feel like I can give the clients the best of my efforts. I am spread too thin, can’t focus on much of anything without getting more duties, additional tasks, or trying to learn something new in either software. The best I can do is just mediocre.

Anyone feel like mediocre is a good thing?

I realize sometimes you just hang on and hope that things get better. It might. But how long do you hang on?

If my manager asks if I was looking for a different job, I probably would have to say that I am not actively looking but my eyes are open to other opportunities. I don’t have any at the moment, but if the right one came along I can’t say that I wouldn’t seriously consider it and jump ship if it was right for me. It’s not that I am unhappy, it’s just that I am not happy either.

Make sense? Probably not.

Mediocre.

I hate that.

Overly distracted

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It’s hard to focus today. There are so many things going on in the office today that it doesn’t help. They have been shuffling, reimagining, rearranging, moving, reorganizing, whatever you want to call it, the office space. Cubes are moving people are shifting noise is being made. Besides all that distraction, there is more going on inside me.

It seems like there are a hundred different things going on in my head at any one time.

I can think of 30 other places I’d like to be other than at work.

I have 50 things I’d rather be doing than working.

I can think of probably 5 (maybe more) people I’d rather be spending time with.

Can’t say that I am the ideal employee today.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Retirement envy

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It hit me this week that I am having a serious case of retirement envy. I don’t think there is an official diagnosis for this sort of thing, but I have found as I have co-workers retiring or coming up on retirement (one retired this month, one coming at the end of the year, and at least two in the next two years) that I am extremely envious of the life they are entering or going to be entering.

Having turned 50 near the start of the year, it has gotten me thinking about the future and what I want that future to look like. I have heard talk of those who are (or have) retiring that they hit the 30/62 threshold (30 years, age 62) and it made sense for them to step away from the work world. Immediately I have started thinking, “Is that an option for me? Could I really have only 12 years left if done right? Or, am I a 15-17 year person?”

There is, of course, a trade off with retirement. The obvious one is that you are trading age for income, unless you are extremely successful or independently wealthy. To retire earlier, you need money that will support your current lifestyle and last. To retire later, you have to age (get older) to a point where enjoying the retirement years could be jeopardized by the uncertainty of health. There is no perfect answer here.

I am just finding I want the life they are about to get. Envy. The life I would like to lead right now and enjoy seems so far off and I want to be young enough and healthy enough to really enjoy it!

I know I need to set up a meeting with a financial advisor and actually get a better, more complete picture of what needs to be done to make the picture in my head a reality. It is on the agenda for this month. The envy is causing me to get anxious to see what really needs to be done at this point.

Anyone with some experience have some helpful tips or tricks? Advice that would suddenly make the picture more clear and the path forward easier?

Horizon gazin’

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I am finding myself not being too productive these days. Admittedly, I have a crapload of stuff to do at work and the list of “to do”s are adding up at home. It doesn’t really matter though. I am looking forward to the future and I have been diagnosed with “short-timer’s disease.”

That’s right! Vacation is on the horizon and the short-timer’s disease is real. The rest of this week and a half day next week is all that remains to arrive at the 7.5 day vacay. It’s been a long three months since the last one and I can’t wait to knock some things off the list at home.

Concentration, gone. Focus, kapoot. Productivity, none.

Anyone feel me? Anyone else seeing a vacation on the horizon and just want to check out of everything before it actually arrives? Who’s with me? Who is struggling to get there?

It’s on the horizon people. There is light at the end of the tunnel and that ain’t no train.

Anyway, just thought you should know, and be envious…

Not really doing anything special. I was supposed to be soaking up the sun and taking in some baseball in AZ, but the late arrival of Spring Training cancelled those plans.

So, stay-cation it is. I’ll try to find some balance between knocking off list stuff and having fun. We’ll see how that goes.

Truth be told, I’d rather be riding off into the sunset with the whole work thing, but I’ll setting for a vacation for now. I have my eyes on the horizon though. Keeping my head up…

Suddenly sucks

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Work.

There is too much of it, so I write a blog post about it instead.

Seems fair.

I am actually procrastinating because I don’t really want to dive into the overwhelming list of things that needs to get done. It seems the list continues to grow every day and I am not taking many things off of it.

Work suddenly sucks. I never really thought it would get this way. Don’t get me wrong, I still like what I do and the people I work with, but there is generally a feeling of dread each morning before I go to work…and I am exhausted when I am done with it.

Our normal team of 17 is down to 14. Well, 14 and a quarter.

I say a quarter because we recently hired someone to replace a co-worker that left back in October. But, he thing with this hire is that the management went with someone who has no background, no history, no knowledge of the software at all. The new hire has a lot of technical skill from their time in the military, but no skills that actually help the team at the moment, and likely won’t really contribute to the team in a meaningful sense for probably a year. The new hire will be great once up to speed, but in the meantime it will be painful for the rest of us.

The reason we are so far behind in hiring is that we had two co-workers leave to go to other jobs in the same field at about the same time. One of those people had 18 years of experience and knowledge go with them and the other had about two years of direct knowledge and many years of ancillary knowledge go with them. We have only replaced one of them.

We also had a co-worker die recently from an extended battle with lung cancer. Again, there was many years of experience and knowledge lost as a result. We all felt this loss in different ways and we are all trying to pick up the slack since it happened. The co-worker had actually been working all the way up to two weeks before their death.

So, if you are keeping track, we are down two (basically three) positions and there is also an impending retirement coming up in the next several months. Then we will be down three (basically four) positions. They have just posted the position for one of the jobs…and we’re all hoping for some really outstanding, qualified, and experience candidates. The problem is that they are only going to be replacing one at this point.

I’m just tired. And overwhelmed.

It has to get better soon.

Do I really?

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It’s been a week and a half of vacation and today is back to work. I am sure if you have been on vacation over the holidays, or even if you just had some extended weekends because of the holidays, your morning conversation with yourself went similarly to mine.

ALARM

“Ugh…I don’t want to get up. What happened to vacation?”

ALARM

“Seriously. Do I really need a job?”

SHOWER

“Maybe I can call in sick for one more day?”

DRESSING

“Pretty sure the next 17 years to retirement are going to suck…”

COFFEE

“I might make it through the day.”

EMAIL CATCH-UP

“Why did I get up today? Do I really need a job? Is there ANY possible way to retire early with minimal effort?”

Anyone else have this conversation with themselves this morning? Am I the only one?

Must endure

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The next three days will be a slog…gotta admit. Why? Well, there is a vacation on the horizon and not checking into work for the better part of nearly two weeks has got me excited.

Thus, I must endure the next several days.

This will be the first real vacation for me in quite some time. The last week of February this year, in fact. There have been days off here and there in between, but this will be the first extended time since then.

Anyway, just thought I would put out there that I am feeling a little “short-timer’s disease” and looking forward to some time off.

Anyone else taking time off during the holidays?

**Interesting note: when you type in “vacation” for the free pictures in Pexel, nearly all the pictures come up as tropical, sunny, and sandy…I must be doing my vacations wrong…**