Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tammy's Project, Various Stuff and FAA Frivolity

Tammy spent a good part of the last month reupholstering our sofa, love seat and ottoman. I didn't realize how badly they needed to be redone but the sun had definitely taken its toll on them. She'd mentioned a while back that she'd like to do it and I know she's done that sort of thing before but to be honest, I wasn't sure she could pull it off. Was I wrong.

We've got a microfiber material on our sofa in the basement and we're really impressed with its resilience. Tammy was able to find the same fabric in a different shade for this job.

She did the ottoman first to practice her skills and make sure she wasn't getting in over her head. She had it done in a day. She began work on the love seat next and was careful to note how the fabric was spread across it. She took photos in case she got lost during the reupholstering phase. She never had to refer to them. She's a natural at this sort of thing. I joked with her that when we retire and open our stained glass business we'll have to advertise ourselves as not just Grapevine Art Glass but rather, Grapevine Art Glass and Upholstery. I like the way it flows...try it again, Grapevine Art Glass and Upholstery. See what I mean? Yes, I'm joking.

Anyway, I'm so impressed that Tammy would take the job on and how quickly she got it done considering she worked on it sporadically fitting it into her schedule where she could. We couldn't have sent it out to have it professionally done and expect it would be done any better.

I've spent the last couple weeks working on the photo pages for our website. I'm still in the process of replacing all the photos with larger, heavier weight files to give the photos much better resolution. I used to worry that there were too many dial-up users who wouldn't be able to download the larger files so I kept them small...too small. They're actually worth looking at now if you're family and want to revisit some long ago times in addition to some current stuff. Most of the photos are 700px wide and around 100k. Here's a few quick links to what I've been working on...Rachel's photos, Tammy's family and my family.

Keith's lady friend, Tracee, is the manager for a few stores which go by the name The Afternoon. Her store has always been a place I make a point of stopping by whenever I'm at the Mall of America. I don't often buy much there...I just mostly browse. Tracee has been trying to sell her home for the better part of a year but not much is moving around here...so much so that she's dropped the price by around $140k and also dropped her Realtor. I stopped by last Sunday on my way to work to see her home and the deck Keith built. It's a beautiful home and if I were in the market I'd be all over it. Keith's handiwork on the deck is typical for him...Here's a couple of opposing views of the deck. View 1 and View 2. I told them that I can't imagine them going much lower on the price but the forecast for home prices in this area is to continue to drop so they may not have a lot of choice. It's a tough market to be selling in.

I don't suppose I could post this blog entry without saying something about my employer, the FAA, as I've been prone to do in many of my previous entries of late. I came into work on Sunday afternoon and noticed a large 60" plasma screen mounted for all to see as you enter the control room. For you to understand where I'm going with this you have to first know that FAA management has slashed salaries for newer Controllers and instituted a 5 year pay cap for the rest of us while continuing to allow raises for all of management. They call it a contract but there's no such contract/agreement at all. If there is such a thing as an imposed contract then that's what we have.

This shiny new 60" plasma screen for the purpose it serves is so over-the-top and unnecessary. Frivolous. It's got about a dozen messages which cycle through it and we'll maybe get a glance at a couple as we walk past it. Messages congratulating so and so for whatever it is they've done, birthday wishes and some motivational messages to make us all feel good about our employer.

I asked my former supe if he'd thanked my trainee and the other new hires for the new plasma screen. He didn't get it. "Where do you suppose we got the extra money for such a frivolous expense?" I asked. He said "the agency is flush with cash". "Really? And why is that...do you suppose it has anything to do with the pay caps they instituted and the low pay they're forcing on new hires?" He commented that "nobody is forcing them to work here." He went on to tell me that there's no lack of people waiting in the wings to be hired as Controllers. I asked him if that was why they're no longer requiring a college degree to be hired. I also mentioned that it's a bit of a kick in the teeth to people such as my trainee who have $70,000 or more in college debt which apparently wasn't needed after all. He told me that my trainee could find a different job if he didn't like it here. Great...I'll be sure and not tell him that. I don't want to diminish his hopes any more than they already are.

I went on to tell him that there's a lot of resentment toward management with just about all of us. We'll smile at you and be pleasant with you but just below the surface we're not so warm and fuzzy. We resent what is happening to the agency. He told me that he didn't get wrapped up in the politics of it all. I told him he didn't need to but that he should at least open his eyes to what's happening and not claim ignorance.

I told him that I enjoy my job but I'm troubled that because I didn't do the 'traffic dodge' years ago and get into management I'm going to be punished for that. I'm the one in the sector day in and day out who is only one clearance away from losing it all but that those in management who watch from a safe distance are the ones who continue to see increasing rewards.

He went on to tell me that I'm paid a lot to do what I do. I agreed but I told him I'm a big believer in leading by example and asked if they ever taught that approach in any of the management classes he's been to. He said they did but reiterated that I'm paid a lot. I understand that but I'd just like to know that we're in this together and that you'll lead and show me the way to go. Funny how management could hitch their wagon to Pay Re-class in '98 which Natca negotiated and from which they as well benefited substantially. No way are they going anywhere near this new pay idea. They protect their own.

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