Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night Potpourri

It's the dead of winter here in the Midwest and I've been pretty much cocooned in our home for the past couple months with the exception of an occasional trip to the mall. Usually this time of year I'm out on my bike but I've been content to do my training on my rollers in the basement. It's probably a better workout anyway. I got suited up Thursday morning to hit the roads for a couple hours but after putting one foot onto our driveway I found that the light drizzle which had been falling was freezing to the surface despite a temp in the mid 30s. Maybe next week.

I'm not sure if it's a phase of life I'm transitioning into but I've taken to feeding birds this winter. Along with the birds we've got a bunch of squirrels too and if I do like most people I'll get caught up in the game of trying to keep the squirrels from the bird food but that's not me. I probably enjoy seeing squirrels out there as much as I do birds so I feed them as well. I noticed an albino squirrel a couple months ago and thought that having it around would add an interesting wrinkle to the animals that frequent the spot on the side of our home because I can actually differentiate it from the others and it will be interesting to see how long it makes its home here.

I had a suspicion that there may possibly be another just like it because it seemed to be able to get around so quickly. One moment I'd see it in the upper branches of the tree and the next it would be on the ground below the bird feeders. I dismissed the idea because what are the odds of that? Maybe not odd enough. I got a confirmation to my hunch one morning this past week when I opened the blinds to see this.

Tammy and I made a break from our routine last night and went to Mystic Lake Casino. Neither of us are much for gambling but it can be an interesting diversion for a couple hours on a Friday night during a Minnesota winter. $22 into our venture among the smoke and noise Tammy hit on a $140 payout. We played until we lost $10 of that then decided to take our winnings and quit while we were ahead. She'd taken her mother to one of the local casinos when she was in town a few months ago and they managed to walk out with over $400 to the good. I see no reason for me to be putting money into the machines when she does this well.

While we were out Tammy got a text from Rachel, "im at fmsc" and she wondered what it meant. After thinking about it for a moment I figured it out. She was at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan. She's been going there for the last year on occasion with groups of kids from church and school. She has a heart for the less advantaged and the down and out and I like that she has an outlet for being able to give of herself the way she does.

Tammy and I were downstairs when she came home and she brought up Haiti. She mentioned how disappointed she was with the way we as people don't give a moments thought about such places until something terrible happens. A friend of hers was mentioning how she got to talk with some celebrity on the phone as she called in a donation to the live telecast last night. Is that what it takes she wondered? While it's good that people are stepping up to help now, there has been a need going way back. She said that at FMSC they have a status board that shows where the donations have been going. In the month of December during a ten day stretch, 4 of 10 shipments had gone to Haiti. FMSC get's it.

I'd hoped to get the 3rd of 6 panels for our entertainment center done this weekend but it'll have to wait another week. I came close. All the glass it cut and in place. All that's left to do is solder and patina the window; a few hours work if all goes well.

I hope to maybe get two more panels done before winter is over and I close up shop.

We've got a contractor at work that handles much of the training in the FAA and they employ probably a couple dozen people in our facility alone. Most of them were given layoff notices this last week. I was told by one of those laid off that the reason given was the recent contract negotiated for air traffic controllers. It was apparently too rich. [sarcasm]We all should've done the right thing and accepted the additional 2 years of pay freeze management wanted for us to go along with the 3 we'd already endured and no layoffs would've been necessary.[/sarcasm] Whether or not it's true what this person told me with respect to the reason for the layoffs I can't be sure but would it surprise me? Not at all.

Here's an idea for any controllers out there. How about we all take a few moments this week and write letters to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt suggesting it's time to look at freezing management's pay for a similar amount of time as a way of reducing costs. We should at least be calling for a study of the numbers to see how much savings can be generated by such a proposal.

Management had a catchy phrase they were throwing around a few years back called 'leading from where you are'. We can call this 'leading from behind'.

My guess is his email address is randy.babbitt@faa.gov

I'm in.


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