Sunday, March 18, 2007

Aging Parents, Driven to Succeed and FAA Mismanagement

Tammy spent the weekend up north with her parents. Her father, Morey, experienced a few dizzy spells earlier in the week and fell a couple times. The last fall required an ambulance ride to the hospital in Ely. He's now in a nursing home in the city of Virgina, about 45 minutes from their home in Babbitt. We've known this day would come sooner or later and to be honest, I'd say it's later. We haven't felt comfortable with him driving for years with the exception of short trips to get groceries. He gets confused easily and has noticeably lost a few steps in the last couple years. I'm not sure how long it'll be before he returns home or if he ever will. Tammy is an RN working with the elderly and I can't think of anybody better to have working on my behalf if I were her father. Their relationship has been a bit strained for several years but none of that matters now.

My mother also had some health issues during the week...possibly a mild stroke. I phoned her to see how she was doing and if there was anything I could do for her. We mostly spoke about meaningless stuff. I'm still on the outside looking in and don't expect that will change anytime soon. I feel that she's still so caught up in Claudia's drama and negative view of life while I remain on her do-not-call list until I come around to believing that hatred and ridicule of my cousin Deborah is the path to follow. Stalemate. Tammy and I used to regularly take her places and be there for her. We're distant from her now and I'm sorry about that. I call her but it's no longer a two way street. If I don't call her we don't speak. I've heard she says unkind things about me. I could confront her but doing that would only be a return to what went down last summer. I'm disappointed in her actions and my sister's actions and that this continues but life goes on.

I got to play chauffeur for Rachel in Tammy's absence and got a renewed appreciation for all the running around associated with that. She's a busy kid. You could almost say too busy but she thrives on it. Friday morning her day began at 6:15. She came home from school and did homework for over an hour before we had to leave to get her to dance class where she was filling in as the lead instructor for one class and assistant for her class. Some of the kids she's instructing are older than her and I think that speaks to her maturity. We got home around 7:00pm and she got right back into the books as she has a huge assignment due on Monday. She's writing a paper on the lack of media attention the crisis in Darfur has been receiving. Actually, the paper is written...she's working on the speech which she'll present to her class on Monday. A part of the speech requires that she has two visual aids. I was so impressed with what she put together for one of her visual aids. She pretty much did this all on her own after I showed her how to set it up using our Pinnacle software. I think she did a great job with it. She next turned to drafting her speech and didn't put the books away until after 1:00am. As I was saying, she's a busy kid.

Keith stopped by on Wednesday. We've been kicking around the idea of doing stained glass for his clients who would like that in their cabinets. It's something we've been talking about for years but I've been reluctant to warm up to the idea. Stained glass has been something I've always enjoyed doing and I'm concerned that it will become something I have to do rather than want to do. I want Keith and his shop to be able to depend on me so I either make a commitment or we continue to put the idea off. Tammy would really like for us to move forward with it. I suppose we should pray about it. Why is it that something so obvious is too often an afterthought?

Anyway, I spent a good part of the weekend working on a design and turning it into an actual stained glass piece which will fit into a sample cabinet Keith will have as part of a display. It's a Frank Lloyd Write style design with some nice lines and places where the client can add specific colors to suit their needs. I'll finish it tomorrow and get it over to him. I also want to come up with some simpler designs which we can quickly knock out and which won't be as expensive. I told Keith that I wasn't interested in appealing to a very large percentage of his customers...just a niche market who don't mind paying for our time. He understood.

I was sitting at a sector at work one day recently pondering the direction the FAA is going. I look at the hypocrisy coming from management and all I can do is shake my head. In 1998, our union, Natca, negotiated a good contract for controllers. It was also a good contract for management because as our wages increased so did theirs. Our latest contract talks ended in an impasse which allowed management to impose their last best offer on us. Anybody with any sense realized that their intention all along was to not negotiate and send the talks to impasse thereby neutering the union. We've got collective bargaining but for it to work both sides have to approach it with good intentions. That didn't happen. The hypocrisy which disturbs me most is with respect to pay. Management says they need to get costs under control and I have no problem with that. Our wages have been effectively capped for the foreseeable future but not managements' pay. The FAA is lopsided with management types who were never very good at being controllers and ran for the cover of a supervisor's position. If they're so concerned with getting costs under control they have to do their part as well and lead by example. That isn't happening and won't unless an act of congress causes it to. Considering management, I was struck by this thought while I sat at the sector pondering the hypocrisy...is it worse to become what you despise or to despise what you've become? Either way it's not a good thing. I'll be eligible to retire in another ten days...not that I'm going anywhere but it will help some of the nonsense to roll off my back a bit easier.

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