Let’s talk about work and the pandemic a bit more. Friday, word came down from on high that the guaranteed hours are going away. This was not unexpected. Most everything is reopening and everyone seems to want to get back to business as usual and the normal routines of life. Sure, the pandemic isn’t over, but it’s summer and nobody wants to be cooped up in the house. But that is neither here nor there. This is about me, work, and all those guaranteed hours.

What I’m wondering is, what with all my fiscal pondering last week, how did I make out on this deal? Doing the math, I come up with a total of 225 hours of guaranteed time that were made available to help during the pandemic shutdown. I went through my timecards and calculated up how much of that I took advantage of and how much PTO/vacation time I used to cover the difference. The numbers are interesting, to me anyway. Anything in my 40-hour week that wasn’t PTO or administrative would by simple deduction have to be actual time working. So how did I do?

Of the 225 hours offered up I took advantage of less than a third of the available hours, 70.75 to be exact. I was out working and earning money for the company the rest of the time. So, what does that work out to, like 31-32%. I think they made out okay and I certainly don’t have to feel like I took advantage of their generosity. But how much did I pay myself during that same time period?

Since my PTO started being impacted 3-weeks before the guaranteed hours, I’m going to calculate the possible hours for this period at 520. You take those 225 guaranteed hours away and you’re left with 295 that I was left to fill with paying client hours. What with all the closures, stay away orders, and emergencies only clients, I came up short. I used 133.5 hours of PTO to round out my timecard during this time. Some weeks there was more work than others, but on average I was using 10.25 hours of PTO a week.

The long and the short of it is that during this pandemic, which impacted my hours for the past 13-weeks. I took advantage of a third of their generosity and spent 56% of my vacation time. They’re telling me it’s over and I hope they’re right, but I’m pretty sure they’re not. I’ve still got appointment only clients, call first clients, and half my banks are still closed. But maybe that’ll change next week. Only time will tell. Later.

I want to vent a bit. I have a good job. My employer has done right by us, in my opinion, during this whole pandemic. They couldn’t lay us off, because that would most likely void their contracts with the clients who want maintenance services to be available when they need them. When something breaks, someone has to fix it, whether that building is open or not. So, while I may not be working, I’m always oncall for those clients. Even during the pandemic.

As I finalized my timecard for last week, I realized that I have reached a point where Covid-19 has taken up 2/3 of my available paid time off. All of that has gone to round out my timecard to the 40-hour mark. The pandemic started cutting into my workload on March 17th. I have managed to get some hours in each of the subsequent weeks, but I’ve only had one 40-hour week since then and that was only because of the Memorial Day holiday.

I used four days of vacation before the 20-hour guarantee was implemented by my employer, but still had to use 2.5 days of PTO to round that out to my 40-hour weekly paycheck. And even with the increase of that guarantee to 25-hours, I’m still using 15-hours a week of PTO to keep the lights on around here. My intention is not to whine or complain, but I’m just a bit frustrated.

That frustration comes, not from the fact that I’m not getting a 40-hour guarantee, but because I’m getting enough work to basically negate the “free” money implicit in that guarantee. I am working enough that they don’t have to give me any of that guaranteed money and I still need to use my PTO hours. The clients are benefiting. The company is benefiting. I’m getting screwed.

Sure, I’ve got lots of time off. But that time isn’t really mine. I mean, I’m using vacation time, but I’m most definitely not on vacation. Because all day long I’m basically waiting for the next call to come in and send me off with the van. And with the current state of things, those calls are mostly ‘urgent’ and ‘emergency’ issues that need to be responded to the same day. Even on the days that I don’t get calls, which is most of them, I’m still not out from under the shadow of work. Gotta be ready to go. Essentially, the worst of both worlds.

I’m glad to have the income. I’m glad to have a job. I’m very fortunate. But I also have other feels… like I’m screwing myself out of free money that another person would just sit home and soak in the benefit… like when I do get a call, emergency or not, I should go do that work as I’m getting paid to make money for the company… like there will be no short days, sick days, or vacations for the next six months…

I think things are getting busier and that we’re getting closer to business as usual. In the next week or two I imagine that a 40-hour week will once again be the norm. From that vantage I’ll be able to look back at the vacation I could have had with all that used PTO and free money and wonder, what was I thinking and why did I do things the way I did.

There you have it. Just venting my thoughts and feelings. Again, I think I’m coming out of this mess in great shape and wish that was the case for everyone. Still. I’m frustrated. Later.

I broke down and turned on the air conditioning yesterday. Looking at the weather page for yesterday says that we hit 84 degrees, but I seem to remember the outdoor reading being higher than that on the thermostat. And when the thermostat in the house hit 89, well, that was too much. I broke down and turned on the AC. Today, we hit 89… so, yeah. Summer has come to my neighborhood early.

Today, I received both my first and second legitimate air conditioning service calls. I had one last week, but that was a service disconnect that needed to be turned on, that doesn’t really count. The two I received today were legit, somethings broken calls. Of course they both came in in the afternoon, both in Lansing, and I could only get to one of them. And the one I went too, what with the covid stay at home orders, there was no one on the second floor to let me onto the roof. Don’t it just figure. Needless to say, I’ll be running the same two calls tomorrow. Along with another, lighting call, I scheduled last week.

When it rains it pours.

We tried to get over the heat by getting out the electric power washer we bought last year and cleaning the back patio. First time using it and I was a bit disappointed with the initial impressions. I was ready to write it off as a waste of $140. It was very inconsistent and spitty. But once it was placed on a nice level surface it performed a lot better. Apparently, it being level and upright is very important. In the end it worked pretty well.

it didn’t look that dirty… amazing change
level and upright is important
amazon deal of the day from last year some time

However, the o-ring on the handle failed when Lady Ronn went to use it today to finish the job. I’ll need to pick up an o-ring kit at the hardware store to get it working again. Or rather, to keep it from spraying water all over the user. Annoying, but not a terrible setback. Here is some pressure washer porn… that’s a thing I’ve heard pics like this called on other websites. Later

So, you try to plug in a USB plug and it doesn’t fit. You flip it over and still no luck. You flip it back to the original side and now it fits. Argh! I feel your pain. We all feel your pain. How many thousands of times has that happened? Here’s a helpful tip I learned over at CoolTools.com. The topside of any USB plug will be smooth metal and the underside will have a groove down the center. Keep the smooth side up.

If you were wondering what we decided to watch, we settled on Killing Eve on Hulu. Just finished the first season this morning at breakfast. It’s pretty good. I have not become annoyed with it and am interested to see where it goes in season two.

I picked up the new Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album, Reunions. I’ve given it an initial listen straight through and listened to some of the individual tracks a couple more times. I like it, though I would not say it was my favorite. But, it’s still growing on me. Favorite track so far is either “St. Peter’s Autograph” or “It Gets Easier”. There are at least 5 rock solid tunes on this album.

Menard’s finally refunded my cancelled order. Took damn near 2-weeks. I still don’t have any drywall, but the electrician has me worried about the inspector and covering up my wiring.

With this time card, I officially have less than 10 days of PTO remaining (9.88 to be exact). Just two more weeks of May to get through. I sure hope everything opens back up in June.

I did a bunch of paint work on my cave diorama. Built some rock walls. I made a waterfall out of cotton balls and clear resin using a technique that I saw on YouTube. It worked pretty well, but I may have used too much cotton, as the final waterfall is very white. I used the same technique on the rapids in the stream and they came out much less white. I filled the pond and river with resin. It looks great, but I realize now that I should have sealed the whole thing with matte lacquer BEFORE adding the resin. Now I’ll have to mask off the river and pond to keep the gloss. Live and learn, I guess.

resin waterfall

I think it looks pretty good. Still need to figure out what I’m doing for the briar bushes outside the cave and there’s some accessories I’m working on, but this part of the project is getting close to completion. I’ll do a full-on crafting post next week.

I recorded a musically themed Truckcast last week, but I still need to edit and get it uploaded… that’ll be another post next week.

I think that’ll do for now. Later.

It is the middle of April, right? What is the deal with this snow? If I were going anywhere this morning I would have needed my brush. Ridiculous. I don’t appreciate this. Don’t they know I just cut all my hair off? I want my 60 degree days back.

Wednesday has snuck up on me. It did not take as long as I thought to lose track of the days, despite the fact that I still get up and ready myself for any calls that might come in. I thought I had a few calls to do, but I did some follow up on them and they all ended up either redirected or in my ‘HOLD’ cue. I’m not enjoying my time off. Particularly the aspect of having time off, but not really being free to do what I want because the possibility of work appearing any moment. And since any work that might need to be responded to would be an ’emergency’, I still need to be able to meet my response times. So, while it probably isn’t as limiting as it feels, it feels pretty limiting.

My government stimulus/aid deposit showed up in the checking account this morning. My brother said he got his yesterday. It seems like the checks must be going out. I’m sure you’ll get yours soon, if you haven’t seen it already. But while it sounds like a nice payout, if you were out of work and having trouble getting through to the unemployment benefits, it sure would not go far. I worry that there are going to be a lot, I mean a lot, of folks hurting by the time this virus runs its course.

Finally got around to watching the latest Star Wars movie last night, The Rise of Skywalker. I purchased it when it went on sale digitally. What was that, March 29th? Two weeks later I decided to watch it. I was disappointed. This trilogy started with such promise, slipped in the middle, and then fell down in the last movie. Not a great way to closeout the Skywalker story. The visuals were amazing, but the plot, characters, and story were nothing but the typical Hollywood schlock. Any excitement I had about Star Wars has once again drained onto the floor to pool at my feet. I don’t think I can put it back where it belongs.

For me, probably for most of the fans, Star Wars has always been a thing built only partially by the movies. Star Wars has always been about the potential of the thing. They showed us so little and yet revealed that there was this universe beyond the Skywalker story. That universe was open to all the adventures I could dream up. None of the later movies did that for me. I’d go so far as to say that with each movie the possibilities seemed smaller and more constrained. I think I’ll stick with the parts I like, the parts that speak to me, and toss the rest away. Seems like that’s what they did in the movie. They pulled together what they thought we wanted, story be damned, and threw out all the imagination and potential.

Anyway, the movie was a mess. Also, why is it that the digital versions, with all the extras, don’t have a menu of some sort. I don’t want to have to fast forward through everything to get to the bonus content, or to figure out what the bonus content even is. So frustrating. Later.

Logged in to work this morning to check on things and found an email from somewhere up the chain. Apparently, we’re calling this scenario a reduced work schedule. Which is a pretty accurate, if you ask me. What with my workload having been reduced to nothing.

The good news, no layoff. The bad news, half pay. I’ll take that. It’s not the best situation, but it’s better than the alternative. Basically, we’re going to get 20-hours even if we don’t have any billable work in any given week. Which allows us to maintain our status as full time employees.

Obviously, this is temporary and is due to the pandemic crisis that is impacting everything. And they were very clear in the email that this could change anytime, at the sole discretion of the company, and that this does not guarantee continued employment. i.e. if this doesn’t work out, we’ll be going to layoffs. Which is completely understandable. It would suck. But, I get it.

I appreciate what they’re doing and it just goes to showing why I’ve been happy working for them for the last 12-years. They may or may not be a giant evil corporation, but they treat me well.

I haven’t done the numbers, so I’m not sure how this impacts my bills, but it will keep me from burning through all of my PTO. Well… It will extend the amount of time I can survive on my PTO.

Let’s get this pandemic under control, because, I’d rather be working. Later.

gif by google photo

Well, it was bound to happen. I may be considered an essential worker, but most all of my customers have instructed that I should only respond to emergency work orders, and there haven’t been any of those in a while. Today, two things happened. The first, was that I finished up the last three outstanding work orders that I had for the only customer who hasn’t imposed any restrictions on site visits. And the second thing was, the only customer who hadn’t imposed any restrictions on site visits imposed site visit restrictions. I’m both out of work and out of customers.

What does that mean? No answers for that, just yet. At this point they still want us to be available for emergencies, so layoffs are kinda out of the question, but paying us to stay home and do nothing but wait, is not a thing. I’ve done all my training courses, so that’s not an option. Until I hear otherwise I’ll be doing the worst kind of vacation. You know, the kind where you use your PTO hours while still making yourself completely available to go on a call.

I’ve got a good bit of PTO, so I’ll be okay for about 4-weeks. But then there will be no other days off for the rest of the year, the family vacation will get missed, and I’ll have to not get sick. It’s better than getting laid off, at least this way I keep my benefits. Oh well. Like I said, not ideal. But still, better than a lot of folks.

I’ll be very glad when this is over.

The pandemic finally hit home for me and my family. In her last semester of college, face-to-face classes at GRCC have been canceled into April, the campus labs have been closed, and as a result, Lady Ronn, no longer has a job. Which I’m sure will in a small way impact our financial situation, the amount of spending that we do, and as a result a small prick into the area economy. You can almost see the ripple effect going from local to state to federal to the world. Will this be the event that tips the balance and topples everything into a global depression? Let’s hope not.

The wife went shopping yesterday and got pulled into the hoarding panic that seems to be gripping so many of you. She had intended to just pick up the usual things, but seeing the empty shelves and the carts piled high tipped her into the, “I better get it now or it won’t be available” mentality. And she ended up coming home with far more stuff than the two of us have any need for. I’m not going to lie, I was annoyed.

I don’t deny that this is something that we’ve not seen in my lifetime. Or at least the reaction to it is something that we’ve not seen. I don’t think we yet know how serious this will be, and won’t know until after it’s over. Caution is warranted but this verges on panic and hysteria.

I have seen estimates that say as much as 70% of the population will contract this virus, but at this point there’s only 12 recorded cases in all of Michigan. And while I admit the lethality of this virus seems to be greater than that of the flu… it’s not a death sentence.

The advice seems pretty consistent. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Apply social distancing whenever possible. Probably, don’t lick the sneeze guard at the buffet or try to tongue kiss everyone you meet. Use a little common sense.

There seems to be some expectation, or possibly just a desire for a break from work, that everything should close down and that we should all lock ourselves in our homes. I get it. I too would like to not have to go to work. But, that seems like it will just make things worse, differently.

I mean, the government seems pretty worried about the effects on the economy so we should all probably keep working.

Who exactly has the luxury of staying home during this covid-19 pandemic? I would guess that, in the vast majority, it’s those in the upper 50% of the workforce. Anybody making less than $15 or $20 an hour probably doesn’t have the luxury of taking 2-weeks or a month out of work, and certainly won’t be getting paid for it.

Just like during cold and flu season, most people don’t have the luxury of staying home if they have a slight fever and a cough. They’ve got bills to pay and responsibilities to take care of. So, whether it be at a restaurant, the gas station, the grocery store, or the pharmacy these people are going to go to work.

In this group, I include pretty much everyone that is in the service industry. My work has made no mention of us taking any time off, because building maintenance doesn’t care whether or not people are sick, things just need to get fixed. I’m just traveling around West Michigan like a carrier vector.

It’s certainly hope that this is all being overblown but, again, we won’t know until it’s all over and we look back on the numbers. I feel pretty confident that this is not a modern day black plague.

Take care of yourself. Stay healthy. Pay attention to what the WHO and CDC are advising. We’ll get through this. Later.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m sitting at home today because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although, I don’t remember my boss actually mentioning that it was a holiday for us this year. But the banks are closed, and while I have other clients, if the banks are closed I assume I have the day off. If I’m wrong, well, it’ll come out of my PTO.

just barely awake

“Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I didn’t watch much football this weekend, or much this whole season if I’m being honest. I didn’t even follow the Lions, mostly because they were not good. Not good at all. I did see the Texans@Chiefs in the divisional round and last night I watched parts of the Packers@49ers. I think I would have preferred to see the Chiefs vs. Packers in the Super Bowl, but it was very obvious last night that the 49ers are the better team. So we get the 49ers vs Chiefs playing in the big game… that’s going to be a lot of red. Should be a good game. Looking forward to the commercials 😉

My plan for today is to do some writing, play some guitar, do some laundry, put together a new selection of music for the garage stereo, straighten the garage, and maybe write a blog post. Okay, so I’m working on that last one right now. The writing hasn’t been quite as prolific as I’d hoped thus far this year. Really, one day out of 20 is bad, but even 1 in 20 is better than my average. Still. I want to do better. I missed one day of guitar practice last week and am feeling disproportionately guilty about that. While Lady Ronn is not in school tonight, I still don’t expect to see her anytime before it gets dark. I guess what I’m saying is, the day is mine to do what I want with.

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Speaking of guitar, one of the biggest problems I’m having is keeping time. I can’t seem to keep time consistent. I can’t tap my foot and play guitar at the same time. I tried using a metronome and it was a disaster. I don’t understand why it’s 3/4 time instead of just 3/3 time, because I’m just counting three instead of four. I can’t seem to make my half notes twice as long as my quarter notes, or at least not consistently. And tomorrow we’re supposed to add eighth notes to the mix. I think my lack of any musical background at all is showing. But on my own and with the encouragement of my boss, who has played guitar for 30-years, I’ve tried to add some chords to my practice. I can’t do those either. My fingers are all over the strings, making a mess of things. But practice continues and I’m hopeful that improvement will come eventually. Any tips? I welcome any and all.

Jeramy says to learn A, G, & D

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

You’re probably sick of me talking about guitar. In my defense, it’s the thing I’m doing and I’m enthusiastic about it. Tomorrow I’m going to talk about audiobooks. Is that better or worse? I’d like to do my taxes today, but while I’ve received my W2 I’m still waiting for two others and some other documents. I did start the paperwork and, expecting a refund, I’ve started figuring out where that money will go. Most likely, it’ll go into the “pay off that new camera” fund. Which doesn’t sound like much fun, but is definitely the responsible thing to do. Being an adult is all about the responsible thing. It’s one of the main things I dislike about being an adult. It is what it is. What can you do.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I need to do a couple work-related things now. Despite the holiday. Just a few things that need to be addressed in order to make the coming week a more bearable experience. We’ll talk again. Later.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, I’ve pieced together a few shorter pieces to create a new and more entertaining Truckcast for you today. These pieces were all recorded in a two day span, but I couldn’t manage to record a single long file, because it’s just hard to be entertaining for any stretch of time. Also, some of the audio is full of garbage… not me, other garbage. Anyway, this one is about work, changes, chili, and it’s got music.
Music is by David Szestay, it’s the same thing I added to arohenTV last week. I like it. have a listen.
URL: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/David_Szesztay/Cinematic_Indie/Flash_1954
Comments: http://freemusicarchive.org/
Curator: Music for Video
Copyright: Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/