Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Morale couldn't be lower

Sorry for being so absent of late. It's been, to be blunt, shitty at work and I haven't felt like doing anything when I get home. To illustrate how bad it's been, I haven't even felt like knitting! I "watch" TV (more listen) while playing Jewel Quest. It's been bad.

Last Thursday I was at Borders (I needed the new Eoin Colfer Artemis Fowl book) when I felt my purse vibrating against the side of my body. By the time I found my phone, I had missed the call, but my heart sunk when I saw the name of a coworker. I called him right back but it went into voicemail, and as I was leaving my message "You better not be calling me for why I think you're calling me," my phone rang again and it was him again. I answered it saying, "I just left you a voicemail saying 'You better not be calling me for why I think you're calling me.'" He replied, "I think I am. I just got the call." The Call is what happens when you work for my company but aren't a direct employee, but a contract employee. The contract people get calls at home on Thursdays (this Thursday is supposed to be the last) between 6:00 and 6:30 telling them not to go to work tomorrow, but to go to the contract house's office and turn their badge and whatever else they have. I was so upset, because this guy is a good engineer and a good kid (he's 23 and just got married, in fact, supposedly, it was to have happened the week before but he was on his honeymoon). I was more upset than he was. I cried all night, and most of the morning as I packed up his desk. He'd only been with us since January, but he had two boxes of stuff. That part was pretty amusing, actually.

He drove in that day for his stuff and we all went out to lunch with him. I asked him how his wife took the news (she's in grad school) and he said that she was pretty matter-of-fact about it. "So, I was the only one who cried?" "Um, yeah, sorry about that." I felt like an idiot, but I think he was the last straw. I had seen and heard of too many good people losing their jobs while everybody here has a list of useless direct employees who still have their jobs. I know nobody ever said life was fair, but really there is a limit.

News on the Grandma Front:

Turns out that her initial willingness to go to assisted living was short-lived, although she did change her mind again. She dilly-dallied so long that somebody else took the last 2-bedroom apartment. On Saturday she was going over to look at the one-bedrooms that remained and make her decision. Grandma is presently filling out the paperwork and my aunt is going to drop it off on her way to work. Then we have to work on packing Grandma up, and convincing my Mom to sell her POS cheap-ass, nasty condo and buy Grandma's, but Mom's objecting because she doesn't want a mortgage. *eyes rolling* While yes, I do understand that, to a degree, all my mother does is work! Constantly. She has NO LIFE whatsoever. She must have a boatload of money saved up. And this way, we still can have family functions at Grandma's and it would be like nothing has changed. Of course, someone pointed out that Grandma's style isn't exactly my mom's style and I said that's because my Mom doesn't have a style!!! My Grandma is so stylish and elegant and somehow that trait skipped my mother completely. But this way the aunts would have somewhere to stay when they come home, etc. It's just best for every one. According to my aunt, EVERYBODY is on board with the idea, except my Mom. You have no idea how hard it is to get my mother's siblings to agree on something. This is HUGE! I told my aunt to get the YS working on Mom, as she is the favorite child, and she agrees with the rest of us.

Okay, back to work stuff. One of my absolutely favorite people got walked out this morning. He had stopped by my desk earlier to say he heard "they" were doing his section today. It was obvious he was very nervous. My cubemate went to his desk to get him to sign a Get Well Soon card for another co-worker who is out on medical and when she was over there, she recognised the woman across from him as somebody she went to school with. A bit later, she got an e-mail from her ex-schoolmate saying, "I think the gentleman you were talking to was walked out shortly after. We were asked to leave." Cubemate got a look of horror on her face and I asked what was wrong. She forwarded it to me and I read it in disbelief. I had a brand new person (to our department) at my desk while we discussed getting a desk for her and I started to cry. I'm sure she felt uncomfortable, as we were all expressing our thoughts on this subject and how not happy we all were. I apologised to her for crying and she said, "No problem. I just had a baby, I'm used to tears."

A few minutes later we all got an e-mail from our former co-worker saying thank you for helping and teaching him, wishing us all (including the company) well, etc. It was a very nice e-mail – he was raised properly. This one hit hard. I saw someone he worked with program-wise come over and look for him (as Good Co-worker used to sit by me – I'm in charge of moves, so I put him by me on purpose because he's such a good guy). I called Program Guy's name as he turned around asking who he was looking for (although I pretty much knew). I gave him the details as I knew them, at one point, he looked to race away to find Good Co-Worker, but I stopped him and said, "He's long gone. They walked him out a while ago." PG was furious. "What is wrong with this place? Don't they realise these are human beings? We don't even get to say Good-bye."

I had been doing relatively better, after last week's stress and tension, but I'm back to Friday-mode. I can't stop crying, I have a headache and I just want to go home, take a valium and go to bed for a week. I don't feel like eating, in fact, I had to take an alka-seltzer because my stomach is so not happy. I want to throw up.

My brother sent me the following the other day, the first half consists of interesting facts about Michigan (even if you're not from here), the second half is old-time Detroit tidbits which probably won't mean anything to you unless you lived here.


From 1910 to 1920, Hamtramck, Michigan grew from 3,589 to 45,615 residents, leading the nation in growth for that period.

During the lumber boom era, the row of saloons that lined Water Street in Bay City was known as "Hell's Half Mile."

In 1936, Escanaba, Michigan harvested and processed 100,000 sq. ft. of bird's eye maple to be used in the English Luxury Liner, the Queen Mary.

When the territory of Michigan was created on Jan. 11, 1805, Detroit was chosen as its capital.

Bagley's Corner was the original name of Bloomfield Hills. (This is amusing because Bloomfield Hills is super ritzy, expensive…and Bagley's Corner doesn't really sound that ritzy.)

The world's only marble lighthouse is located on Belle Isle. (Livingston Lighthouse)

Hog's Hollow was the original name of Utica, Mich.

There are over 11,000 lakes in Michigan.

The home offices of Life Savers Candy, Beech-Nut Gum, and Squirt soft drinks are in Holland, Michigan.

In 1870, Detroit became the nation's first telephone customers to have phone numbers assigned to them.

Charles A Lindbergh was born in Detroit on Feb. 4, 1902.

The Stars and Stripes first flew over Michigan soil on July 11, 1796.

In Sept. 1908, William C. Durant organized several independent automobile plants into what was to become General Motors.

Michigan began charging an annual license fee of 50 cents in 1905.

Michigan 's first police woman began walking the beat in Detroit in 1893.

In 1942, the Davison Freeway in Detroit was completed and became the world's first urban freeway.

The first soft drink, (Vernor's Ginger Ale) was introduced by a Detroit Pharmacist, James A Vernor, in 1866. Note: There were several 'elixirs' on the market at that time, including what would later be called Coca Cola. These contained alcohol, whereas Vernor's didn't. Hence, the name 'soft' drink.

The intersection of Woodward Avenue and Grand Avenue in Detroit proudly displayed the world's first traffic light in 1915.

In 1688, Father Jacques Marquette founded the first permanent settlement in what would later become Michigan .

The world's first shopping mall (Northland Mall) opened in the Detroit suburb of Southfield in 1954.

The world's first painted highway center lines were featured in Trenton , MI in 1911. They were used in other towns and was how Centerline, MI got its name.

Michigan ranks Number #1 nationally in the production of dog sleds.

The nation's largest indoor/outdoor museum complex is Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village . (Right across the street from where I live.)

Opened in 1904, the nation's oldest freshwater aquarium is the Belle Isle Aquarium. (I thought this was closed a few years back.)

The onion is Michigan 's largest fresh-market vegetable crop.


You took a 'moonlight cruise' to Boblo with Captain Boblo or went to Edgewater Amusement Park . (The cruise was the only way to get to Boblo. It was half the fun as they had a dance floor on the ground level floor and as a pre-teen/teenaged girl, you'd dance your way to Boblo. My Great Grandparents lived near Edgewater and you could see the roller coaster from one of the 2nd floor bedrooms.)

You shopped at Hughes and Hatcher, B Siegel, Peck and Peck, Himelhoch's, Robert Hall, Crowley's, Shoppers Fair, EJ Korvettes or Federals. (Definitely didn't shop at Hughes & Hatcher as it was a men's store, but I got my baseball mitt from Federals.)

You rode the elevator at J. L. Hudson's, which was 'run' by an elevator operator. (Once, near the end.)

You remember a Winkleman's and Sanders store in your neighborhood. (Heck yeah! The greatest day in Detroit history is when the new owners of Sanders opened up Sanders stores in DTW again. YUM! Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puffs!!!!)

You remember the 'Big Snow', Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, Clarabelle, Phineas T. Bluster, Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring. (Not that old, although I didn't think they were just Detroit .)

You remember Twin Pines Dairy delivered milk and juice to the chute on the side of your house and Milky the Clown performed magic with the magic words 'Twin Pines. (I love Milky the Clown. We did have a milkman when I was growing up, but I don't think he ever used the 'milk chute." What I remember most about the milk chute was having to squeeze through it to break into the house on the rare days we'd come home from school and mom wouldn't be there. The Former Father was not thrilled with us then.)

You watched Johnny Ginger! (no clue)

You remember the Good Humor man in a white uniform, ringing the bells as he drove down your street. (Again, I don't think this was just Detroit , was it?)

You remember Olympia Stadium. (To this day, I look up at the spot where it was when I drive past on 96.)

You remember when Vernors was made on Woodward Ave. , and a bearded troll was on the bottle. (Definitely the bearded GNOME, but we never went downtown as kids, so I don't remember where it was on Woodward.)

Your Mom got groceries at Great Scott, Food Fair, Food Town , Wrigley's, Chatham or A&P. (We were a Great Scott or Wrigley's family, whereas Grandma usually shopped at Chatham or A&P.)

Your Mom saved Holden Red Stamps, S&H Green stamps, or Gold Bell Gift stamps, and you licked them into those little books. (Again, this wasn't just a Detroit thing, was it?)

Kresge's and Woolworth's were 'Dime Stores.' (Oh yeah, I had a BMW t-shirt from Kresge's before BMW was so hot in the States. In fact, my college ID picture was taken in that t-shirt.)

"You had an uncle in the furniture business (Joshua Door)". (I remember stopping in a Joshua Door's parking lot one year to watch fireworks.)

You know who Bill Kennedy is. (Of course!)

You saw the Detroit Lions play football in Tiger Stadium. (I didn't really pay much attention to the Lions back then, but I was aware of them playing at Tiger Stadium. I also remember the Pistons playing at Cobo.)

You remember Black Bart and the Faygo song. Or how about "Which way did he go? He went for Faygo, old fashioned root beer." (I think I remember this.)

You watched Rita Bell's Prize Movies in the morning. (We weren't allowed to watch TV during the day, but my best friend was always inside watching Rita Bell.)

You remember Jack LeGoff and Van Patrick. (Not a clue.)

You remember Milky the Clown, Soupy Sales, Johnny Ginger, Poopdeck Paul, Captain Jolly, Sagebrush Shorty and maybe even Sergeant Satko Salute. (Three out of seven ain't bad.)

You visited the Wonder Bread Bakery and got to take home a mini loaf of bread. (Nope, but I do know where the Wonder Bread Bakery is – even before it got turned into a casino.)

Your address had a two-digit 'zone' before there were zip codes. Detroit 19, Michigan. (This is vague, as I was pretty young when the "zip" code first came into being.)

You remember "Get on the right track at 9 mile and Mack, to get the best deal in town. Roy O''s the best deal in town."

You remember going to Detroit Edison with your Mom to exchange burned out light bulbs for new ones. (Oh yeah, we never got to go with them to exchange light bulbs, but we always had to save them, which I did up until about a year ago, because it was ingrained in me that we save burnt out light bulbs.)

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Haircuts & Grandma

Ah, life is, I have no clue if I'm still going to have a job two weeks from now, but I did get my hair cut. It's the little things, isn't it?

I was very bad last week about updating you on Grandma's condition, wasn't I? Last I left you Grandma had a blood clot in her lung. She didn't get transferred to the main hospital until Wednesday because there were no empty beds (which I find fascinating considering how the health insurance companies don't let you stay in the hospital for anything). It was actually late Wednesday (rush hour-ish) by the time she got to the main hospital and I think it was Thursday before she actually got a room. Insane!

The medical professionals performed a Doppler test on Wednesday which found additional blod clots in her left and right legs. She wasn't allowed out of bed, until these professionals inserted a screen into her vein(?) on Friday which apparently is to break up any clots that work their way northward.

Today she got released from the hospital and is going back to the rehab place where she spent however many months a little while back. She'll be there for a while, I guess, until her blood pressure gets under control. She won't be going back home, though, from what I can tell. She mentioned a couple of weeks back that she wanted to move to an assisted living place not far from her condo. I guess the time she spent at the rehab place made her realise that it was fun to be around people her own age, people to talk to, and have activities in which to participate. I don't know when this will happen or what will happen to Grandma's condo, but as long as she's happy that's what matters.

Other than that, not much is going on around here. I'm enjoying the Tour de France (yesterday's stage, the first in the Alps, was fabulous with a first time American going off in the breakaway and lasting, even if he did finish 3rd) this year. I was very upset with the few announcements of people being kicked out for doping, but it's good they're catching them. They're doing a great job catching the cheaters and eliminating them immediately. I don't understand why there are riders even trying to cheat anymore, but I guess there will always be people who think they're above the law.

Time to fix some dinner...wonder what I have in this house.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grandma likes to make us worry

This has been a crappy week so far and it's only Tuesday. I got absolutely no sleep on Sunday night, first the bars (which I could hear over the sound of my window fan on high) and then I was so pissed off that my brain wouldn't shut off. Last time I looked at the clock it said 3:54 with the alarm scheduled to go off at 4:17.

Work was work, except that an engineer stopped by my desk to share what he heard from a manager who lives near him with whom he talked over the weekend. What he heard was supposedly the criteria to be used to figure out who is part of the 15% who are going to be laid off. Oy vey...I'm positive, that come August 1st, I shall be jobless and job hunting in southeastern Michigan (not a pleasant prospect considering our unofficial unemployment rate). I felt like throwing up.

I left on time to get to my usual Monday appointment and had a crappy time dealing with morons incapable of driving the bloody speed limit. I got boxed out of making my turn onto the second highway and ended up taking the slow boat to China which had me swearing. I finally get to my appointment (not late) and notice that Maureen's car is not in the parking lot, nor the people who have the appointment before me. I don't really think anything of it, because it's happened before and she had just run to the library. When my appointment time finally came around and it was obvious nothing was happening, I called her cell phone and got her message saying she was called out of town on a family medical emergency. *sigh*

I wasn't able to make my usual trip to Trader Joe's (there isn't one near me) because I had plans to pick the YS up at the car dealership and then go for sushi (which somehow became Red Robin) and it was too hot to leave groceries in the car for any number of hours. This means I'm now foodless, for the most part.

I get to the car dealership and there's no sign of the YS even though she was supposed to be there. I go in and find my friend Irean who I haven't seen in a while (she used to live in my building, but had to move out when her hours got cut at the dealership). She hadn't seen my sister, but I wasn't stressed because we had some catching up to do. When a customer stopped by I called the YS and she said, "How did you know to call me? I was just texting you." Turns out that she couldn't get her truck started (it hadn't moved since January, so not really a shock), and therefore was still at home.

For those playing at home, I've now driven a good 30-40 miles for no reason at all, and I was a good 12-18 miles from home. The YS was worried about Grandma because she had been having trouble breathing and the plan was to get her a dr.'s appointment or take her to the E.R. I was more than ready to just go home with a stop at the beer store. I wasn't needed, so that's what I did. Occasionally I regret living 20 miles from everybody else, but if I'm needed I'll be there. There were at least four people hovering over Grandma yesterday, she didn't need me there.

A few hours later I got a call telling me that Grandma has a blood clot in her lung (apparently came from her leg, made its way through her heart and into her lung - LUCKILY) and they were going to transfer her to the main hospital. I called the main hospital today and they couldn't find her. Turns out there were no beds at the hospital, so she was still in the E.R. They finally got her admitted to the hospital at some point this evening.

Once again, please keep my Grandma (cute and elegant) in your prayers, thoughts, etc. I'm really not ready for her to leave.


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Sunday, July 06, 2008

July Books & Movies

This past week was what I call Forced Vacation. Now you'd think that meant I had time to read, comment and post, but I didn't feel like being anywhere near my computer really...and I did spend as much time as possible outdoors. I'm damn near golden brown...LOL! Okay, golden for me is more like off-white as a friend stated last night. Still, I won't blind you with the sun glaring off my legs right now and that's pretty darn good for me.

My tan would be even better if I hadn't had to spend Tuesday at a funeral. A dear friend's father passed away (or as people at my church say "had passed"), and she expressed a desire for me to be at the funeral when I was at the funeral home on Monday. I couldn't, in good conscience, miss it when I had nothing going on other than planning to sit outside.

The one thing I really wanted to do was get down to Hines and swing on a swing, but it didn't happen. You'd be amazed at the muscles you use to swing...and how old it makes you feel. ;-)

Thursday was a crappy, cold, miserable grey day, so the trip to Grandma's to sit by the pool and play with the Terror Children in the pool did not happen. I actually watched TWO Netflix movies that day. I don't even want to tell you that last time I watched a Netflix movie. I'm just hoping Netflix takes a note and doesn't throttle me the next time I watch 20 movies in one month.

Oh, that reminds June Movie and Book list! I had thought I'd post them on July 1 (Happy Belated Canada Day to any Canadians), but yeah, we all know that didn't happen.


Everest: The Unclimbed Ridge by Sir Chris Bonington and Dr. Charles Clarke - 199 pages - I told you last month that I was getting back into my mountaineering books and this month will prove it. This was a sad book because it was the 1982 expedition where Joe Tasker and Peter Boardman lost their lives. Nobody knows what actually happened, although Peter's body was found in 1991. To this day Joe's body is still missing.

The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston de Walt - 297 pages - I had read this book when it first came out back in 1997 as a rebuttal to Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air book. The link of the book is to a review which is brilliant and much better than I could do. Suffice it to say, that if you read Into Thin Air at some point in the past and came away thinking that Anatoli Boukreev was a reprehensible human being, then you should read this book. I own both and won't lend one w/o the other. Anatoli's link takes you to an interview he gave in 1997. Don't judge the man until you read his own words.

Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer by Anatoli Boukreev, Collected and Edited by Linda Wylie, Foreword by Galen Rowell - 232 pages - This book was mentioned in Ed Viesturs' book (from last month) and I felt it was necessary to read Anatoli in his own words (translated from the Russian), as opposed to him trying to put words into English (see: The Climb). This was a beautiful book, as it gives the reader insight into Anatoli's heart and mind. It's much too sad that he died on Christmas Day in 1997 getting caught in an avalanche while trying to climb Annapurna.

Fragile Edge: Loss on Everest by Maria Coffey - 183 pages - Maria Coffey was the girlfriend of Joe Tasker who died on Everest (first book read this month) and she tells what it was like to be the one left behind when your loved one is a high-altitude mountain climber. It wasn't all "woe is me" or anything like that. She told it how it was. And she tells of the adventure she took with Hilary Boardman (Peter Boardman's wife) to Everest in an effort to say good-bye, and perhaps, to understand what drew them to the mountains. Of all the mountaineering books I've read, this one comes closest to explaining why people climb 8000 meter mountains at the risk of their lives. She went there not understanding how Joe was able to leave her so often and for so long, but came away with a new appreciation. It was an amazing book.


6/1 - A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum - 1966 - I watched this on the free movie channel, you know, the one where you pick what and when you want to watch...what the hell is it called...oh yeah, On Demand. I thought I was going to do really well on movie watching last month since I watched this on the first day, but I didn't. It was funny, silly and completely ridiculous. I'm sure everybody in the world has seen this already, so I don't have to recommend it or not, but if you like silly and haven't seen it, go for it.

6/22 - Stardust - 2007 - Okay, I can see how, if you hadn't read the book recently, someone could like the movie. I watched it so late in the month that I had sort of (but not completely) forgotten the nuances of the book. However, bloody hell, follow the fucking book. I understand having to leave stuff out because the movie would last a week otherwise, but then don't add in shit that didn't happen. I was doing relatively well with the changes until it got to the very end and that just pissed me off. One of these days I will learn NOT to read (or re-read) the bloody book before seeing the bloody film. It was very action packed and fun. Oh, and for the record, Robert DeNiro's character in the book was not gay and did not prance around in a fairy costume...and his crew wasn't scary in the least.

I also watched Good Omen: Making of Stardust...sadly, I don't remember much of it.

Hmmm...Book of the Month: I'm going with a tie between Above the Clouds and Fragile Edge as they both gave me a different insight into mountain climbing.

There was no movie of the month, really, but I guess I'll give it to Stardust, in a default.

It is now time to go to bed, as I need a good night's sleep since I have to go back to work tomorrow. Supposedly, layoffs will be continuing throughout the month of July, so if you wouldn't mind praying, thinking good thoughts, lighting candles, crossing your fingers, etc. that I keep my job, I would greatly appreciate it.

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