Friday, February 2, 2007

No Monkeys on My Back

I came really close to shooting our new washer this week...not really...but I wanted to. We replaced our old washer and dryer about a month ago and lately I've developed a strong dissatisfaction with the washer. When it's in the spin cycle it shakes a lot and moves around to where I have to relocate it after every load. That's not right. I called the folks at Whirlpool and they were quick about getting a tech out to look at it. He decided that the tub was out of round and ordered a new one. A different repair man came by yesterday morning to install it...so far so good. We've done three loads and each time the washer stayed put. I can't tell you how much that made my weekend. The last thing I wanted to do on my days off was mess with it any more than I already have.

I've got no monkeys on my back and it's nice. Usually I've got at least one or two projects which need my attention but not at the moment. I spent my weekend laying around and being as lazy as I've been in years. I couldn't even ride as the roads are too ice and snow covered. I did manage to get out last Tuesday in 9 degree weather for a 25 mile ride. Once I get moving I'm fine...in fact, I'm quite sweaty when the ride is done. I really do need to take some time away from my bike though. The high temp for the next 5 days is at or below zero. I don't see where the roads will get any better in those temps so until they do I'm side-lined. No, I'm not even thinking about setting up my indoor trainer. I'll enjoy my time off...I've earned it.

Rachel is very excited about going to Tanzania this summer with a mission group from Prince of Peace. Her dad came by tonight to pick her up and he let us know that he doesn't support her going there as he has concerns for her safety. I can't blame him as both Tammy and I also have concerns but after looking into it we realize she's probably safer in Tanzania than she will be when she goes with the same group to Hollywood in April. She got the green light from her dad but is fully aware that he's not happy about her going. She was bouncing off the walls yesterday when we began filling out paper work to get her signed up. She has such a heart for helping others and spending time with people from a third world country would play to her strengths as well as give her a perspective of this world that Tammy and I never could. She's experiencing so much in her life. We're doing our best not to get in the way but at the same time we have to make sure she's not taking on too much.

Life as a controller has become a bit of a joke the past couple months. We're no longer a service oriented profession...we're now a business with customers...so we're told. I'm not sure what we produce but apparently it's heavily tied into our time on position according to management. My typical day for the past 25 years has been one where I spend half my day in the sector and the other half on break. We could get by with fewer controllers on many days but the nature of the beast is that you can't plan for the days when you'll need a full compliment. The airlines frown on being directed off their intended routs away from areas which aren't fully staffed and can't handle the demand. So, in an effort to make us more productive they're plugging us into sectors which don't need our help and opening up sectors which don't need to be opened. That's not good for a couple reasons. First, if they've got us doubling up on sectors where we're not needed we'll no doubt spend a good deal of our time talking together and not focusing on what we're really there for...that's just the way it is. Second, you'll be left with controllers who aren't as sharp as they would normally be when it gets down and dirty had they been away from the sector and are more fresh. Another negative to splitting up the sectors is that management is dumbing down the workforce by not allowing controllers to work busy. They can get away with what they're doing while the traffic is light during the winter months but when it gets busy this summer and thunderstorms are thrown into the mix along with reduced staffing due to vacations we'll be in a much less desirable position. The most disconcerting aspect to all of this is that we're training new controllers in this environment which doesn't allow them to work busy. We're checking them out on limited traffic and that's not the way it's supposed to be done. Sooner or later the newly certified controller is going to find themselves all alone in a busy sector with limited help available and they're going to be expected to swim with the rest of us who have been doing this for years. I don't like that we're painting ourselves into that corner...but what do I know? Those who can't or aren't comfortable in the trenches find management jobs and sit in judgement of those who can.

Do you know anyone in management in the FAA? I'll bet they've got a ton of stories about their days in front of the scope. Don't believe them.



An update. Rachel came back from her dad's tonight (Sunday) and told us that her trip to Tanzania is off. Her dad doesn't want her to go. There isn't any use arguing with him when he's made up his mind and she knows that. She's disappointed but already making plans to go next year. Ever the optimist.

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