Thursday, July 26, 2007

A BestBuy Follow-up and the Project

I just got a call from Adam at the BestBuy corporate office stating that the letter I'd written them last November has come to their attention. BestBuy is apparently aware that they have many unhappy customers. They want to put together a training video to include those disenchanted with their store such as myself to try and educate their workforce about customer satisfaction. Adam wants to bring a film crew to our home and do an interview but they want to do it early next week and we're still in the middle of our flooring project. He suggested that we could possibly meet at their corporate offices in Bloomington. I said I was fine with that. I told him that my experience with them was frustrating beyond belief and that they weren't just words when I told them in my letter that they'd lost a good customer. I mentioned that we'd recently purchased kitchen appliances and never set foot in BestBuy whereas before we'd likely have at least checked out what they have. I mentioned that all I could do was speak with my wallet and that's what I intend to continue to do as well as take him up on his offer to voice my dissatisfaction through their training video.

Our flooring project made a lot of progress over the last few days. The guys finished installing the floor today and a different crew will show up tomorrow to do the sanding. This is where it gets messy. The sanding is supposed to take most of the day and just before they leave they'll put the first coat of poly sealer on. We have to stay off the floor for 5 hours while it drys...we're thinking of heading to the theater to see the Simpson's on opening night. Maybe that's not such a good idea. I have no idea how much demand there will be for the show. Maybe not much at all.

My riding has taken a back seat to our projects around the house. That's quite alright with me as it's nice to see the progress being made around home. I do hope to get out tomorrow for a quick loop into St. Paul. I need that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Project and Toby is a Hound Dog!

I came home from work yesterday to find Tammy busy ripping out the carpet in our family room. I love the way she's not intimidated by projects such as that. I thought we were going to leave the carpet removal to the crew from the flooring company but she thought it would be an easy way for us to save some money on the project.

I'm at work as I write this and I just noticed a message on my cell. Tammy called to say the workers arrived before 8:00 this morning to do the stairs...a day early. Fortunately, she was home to let them in as we weren't expecting them until tomorrow. She said they told her that Above All Hardwood Floors is a very good company. The guys doing the stairs are contracted through them. I did a search on Angie's List and found only positive reports.

Back to Tammy...when I first met her in the spring of 1999 she owned a townhome in Maple Grove. It was a nice quad unit with a basement and fireplace. She did a lot to renovate it in what spare time she had as a single mom working full time as a registered nurse. One of the jobs she did was to re-laminate her countertops. I don't think it's a job I'd have attempted for fear that it would come out looking like an amateur did it but she pulled it off. I'd have never guessed that she would or could have done that. She's not intimidated by those sorts of projects. I find it very sexy. I'm not necessarily intimidated by taking on projects either but the lack of time sort of stifles my motivation.

We thought seriously about doing our hardwood floors on our own but in the end, we opted to call in the professionals to let them do what they do. The original plan was to just do the floors in the kitchen and dining area but we decided to also do hardwood in the family room and den as well. I'm afraid that Toby and Allie aren't going to be thrilled with the lack of traction for their chases.

Last week Toby gave a rare public speaking performance. Tammy and Rachel have heard his occasional 'ruff ruff' when he wants attention but they hadn't heard his hound dog bark. I got the video camera out when he was a bit riled by Buddy across the street. Tammy now believes me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The End of an Era and New Found Video

Over 19 years ago I walked into A Wet Pet in Apple Valley and bought my first aquarium. It's what is referred to as a '45 tall'. I had no idea then that I'd make the aquarium a part of my home for all these years since that day. Today brought an end to my fish keeping days...sadly.

With our home flooring renovations, I had to dismantle the tank to make room for the workers to do their thing. Over the past year, I've been losing enthusiasm for keeping the aquarium going so I figured that now was probably a good time to find a new owner for it. And so I did. I posted it on Craig's List a few days ago and one of the calls I got was from Chris in Belle Plaine about 35 miles southwest. He called while I was out on a ride this morning and said he was very interested in my add.

I cut my ride short as I wanted to get some video of the tank before I took it down. I also wanted to get a photo of the Clown Loach you see above. I've had him for over 15 years and had no idea when I bought him that he'd live this long. His mate died a few years ago and I probably should have gotten him another as they prefer to be in pairs but I didn't. I feel bad about that. I stressed to Craig that I was looking to find a good home for him and he assured me that he'd provide that. I kept telling myself that it's just a fish but there's this part of me that has grown attached to it and wants the best for it. Chris said that he'd send me a photo of the aquarium when he's got it all set up. That would be nice.

All that's left now is a compressed spot in the carpet where the aquarium used to be. I doubt that I'll ever find anything as tranquil or satisfying to fill the void.

While dismantling our family room Rachel discovered some VHS tapes of her which her dad had recorded in 1996-97. One of the few regrets I have in life is that I didn't get into her life sooner than I did so it's extra special for me to see these videos to get an idea of what I missed out on. I thought this little bit of footage with her father was very cute.

Tammy and Rachel are at Sonshine Festival in Willmar this weekend. Tammy had planned to stay until Sunday but I think she's heading for home tomorrow and leaving Rachel to ride the bus back with the kids from Hosanna. I figured that two days would be enough for her. I think the crowds have taken their toll and she's looking forward to home. Rachel, on the other hand, is having a blast. She was so excited this morning to tell me that she 'crowd-surfed' for the first time and that 'it was a blast!' She said she lost her flip-flops but was able to find them later and that she was doing it again tonight. I'd love to have some video of that!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Projects, a Taste of Minnesota and Lousy Leadership

Things are going to get busy around our home in the next few weeks as we've arranged to have a contractor come in and install hardwood floors in our kitchen and dining area. Our home is 15 years old and although the linoleum isn't holding up too badly, it's time for a fresher look. I think we'll take it one step further and replace our aging appliances while we're at it. Not that they've given us any trouble but no doubt it won't be long before they do. Besides, it will make it easier for the guys to do their work if we can have the appliances out of there. We'd also like to replace the carpet on the main level. The thought of having to get everything up off the floor to do that job is a bit daunting. I'll need to get some help moving stuff as there's no way Tammy and Rachel will be able to help with the heavier things. I'm not looking forward to the job but it will be a nice feeling once the work is complete.

We made it out to Taste of Minnesota in St. Paul last weekend. The music acts weren't as good as we've seen in years past but it was still a fun way to spend the night. We thought about going back tonight for the fireworks but Tammy has to be up at 4:00am for work tomorrow so I think we're laying low. I've got a ride planned for when I get off work into a northwest wind.

I've been busy lately working on a project for my father-in-law. Morey is in an assisted living center 200 miles north in Virginia, Mn. When we last visited him a few weeks ago Tammy's interest was piqued by a poster he had on his wall from the 1950s when he played trumpet in a local band. She wondered if I would be able to make the poster like new again with Photoshop. I love challenges like that. I brought it home and did my best to remove all the tape which held it in place under the matting it was framed with. It wasn't pretty. I got busy and finally was able to finish it last night. I burned the image to a disc and brought it to Kinkos where they'll reproduce it to its original size of 12 x 15 on some heavier weight paper. Tammy is going to have it matted and framed. We think he's going to be happy when he sees it. He has two other friends from the band who would also like copies of it as they'd long ago lost their originals.

I just got out of a meeting at work where they're having us watch a 3 part video series promoting the idea of "making changes from where you are". We're to identify problems we see and draw attention to them so they can be looked at in hopes of helping the FAA to run more smoothly and efficiently...sort of like a business. I spoke up after the video and asked the supervisor if it's possible for me to communicate directly to Rick Day about a problem I've identified. Rick Day is head of the enroute portion of air traffic and he's been one of the most ardent supporters of the new work rules we're operating under as Air Traffic Controllers. Rick Day was a strong supporter of creating a 'B' scale wage for new hires and capping pay for veteran controllers in addition to some pay cuts. What Rick Day has been hesitant to do is support a pay cap for management in a similar way. I would think that Rick Day would be proud to lead by example and show us that everybody is being called upon to work toward a common goal of streamlining the organization.

Would you consider Rick Day a leader? Read the title of this post.

From the 'you just can't make this stuff up' category, I came across this post on our union forum today. This is from a veteran controller of 25 years at Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center who had finally had enough...

Yesterday, July 3, I called in not sick, not asking for leave, but I called in RETIRED. I told them I would stop in and turn in my ID and headset. When I arrived, I was asked to sign in my 3 year old son who was accompanying me. While doing so, the guard called the OM and verified it was OK. Permission granted, until 30 seconds later when the secretary of our facility manager called back and denied his access. When I talked to Mary Sandoval, she told me he wasn't allowed due to security reasons. I argued that he was only 3 years old, that I had been at ZAU for 25 years, and had known her for 20. I was told to bring him home and return at a later time (I live 2 1/2 hours away), to leave him at the guard shack, or leave him in my car outside the gate (85 degrees yesterday). I suggested he stay in the union office and not go on the control room floor, as that certainly can't be a security issue. Was told once again to leave him in my car or the guard shack. I hung up. I intercepted a controller coming in for his shift (thank you Mike Kunst) and he watched my son while I took care of business. My 3 year old son clutching on to my shirt, crying while I left him with complete strangers to him. No time to say goodbye to anyone, just hurrying to get things done so I can get back to my son.

Well, I got things done and upon entering the guard shack, was informed that while I was gone, Mary Sandoval, secretary, walked up to the guard shack from her office and met her young daughter, then proceeded to bring her into the facility. Not sure if she even signed her daughter in or not.

Good luck to all of you left who have to put up with this hypocritical, power hungry bunch of worthless excuses of human beings. I was once proud to say I worked as a controller for the federal government, not anymore.

Ray - RETIRED from ZAU

How sad. The folks who put their careers on the line each time they sit in front of a radar scope are treated as people to be disdained and looked down upon. The irony in all this is that the management people who are setting the tone are without question the ones who never had the stomach to control planes. They got their certifications, some just barely, then at the first opportunity they jumped at a chance to do anything other than separate airplanes. Nearly always it's a jump up the ladder into a supervisor position. A position which not only gets them away from a job they struggled to do but one which pays them even better. Trust me, I'm surrounded by them at work...supervisors with less than one year experience working traffic but a career worth of time telling other people how to do it.

Controllers just want to come in and do their jobs then go back to their families. There are many controllers who are bailing out sooner than planned rather than put up with the games. Ray from Chicago should never feel that giving no notice of his retirement is the only job satisfaction he can achieve. He should have been allowed his victory lap to shake hands with his coworkers and bask in the glow for a few moments with his son by his side.

I've got to run. I have a letter to write.