Sunday, January 11, 2015

Punxy Phil told me that it's winter and it will snow and be cold.

Almost two weeks ago J and I spent a few days at my mom's while my older brother and his family (as well as my little brother's oldest) were there. My older brother is all about doing something fun and/or different when we are together, whereas I am just happy to hang out, since I tend to see him about three times a year. His suggestion this time was a trip to the Punxsutawney Weather Discover Center, which was about 45 minutes from Mom's.

It was a small, but neat, place, and I learned a few things (nothing that I can remember, unfortunately). The kids, who ranged in age from almost 7 to 11, were mostly enthralled with a slide that ended in a bunch of foam blocks; the idea is to feel as if you are in a tornado.

I thought doing a mock weather forecast was kind of cool, but the kids were less impressed.
Representing my two favorite Pittsburgh sports teams while on air

When were finished, a woman working there gave us a directions to see Punxy Phil. Even though I grew up about an hour and 10 minutes from Punxy, I had never seen Phil, so this intrigued me, and we made the short drive there. I was surprised Phil lives in what I can best describe as a storefront, complete with awning proclaiming his dwelling place.


mmm, granola bars

When we finished watching him (and on 4:15 the Monday between Christmas and New Year's, we were one of several groups who had the same idea), we headed to Gobbler's Knob, where all the excitement occurs every February 2nd.

The entrance

The stage

Where, presumably, Phil's handler pulls him out to check for shadowing

I find it odd that thousands make the trek to Punxy every February 2nd, to stand shoulder to shoulder with many people in (what is typically) the freezing cold. I am just happy to have saved myself the crowds.

Oh, and here is a sign that talks about the movie. I was too cold at this point to get out and read it. I think the five minutes we spent at Gobbler's Knob was plenty.

By the way, Punxy Phil told me that it is winter and we can expect cold and snow. I did not ask him how many more delays J's school can expect, but I am pretty sure when you are delayed 4/5 days of the first week back, you can safely bet that we've only just begun. :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

This too shall pass.

I am a worrier. Many nights I purposefully stay up late in the hopes I will be too tired to think. Some worries are small, some are big, and most I have little to no control of. But worry, ponder, and debate I do.

During my nice Christmas break, I spent more money than I should have. I am normally careful about my spending, but I decided to let loose a little, and not feel guilty for every dime I spent. (That is not to say I did not feel guilty for many of the dimes I spent.) And in the back of my mind, I pondered the what-ifs. What if our old roof went? What if one of our vehicles needed a major repair (I did replace four tires on NY's Eve)? And what if one of us lost our job?

I think I can go ahead and make this generalization: Once you have been laid off, you know it can happen again, so it never leaves your mind completely. It may be tucked away, under some older memories or perhaps next to a to-do list. But it is there. And when your husband has had two pay cuts and no raises in six years, and neither a holiday party nor any type of gift the past few Decembers, you wonder how much longer that company will last.

Well, I think we are getting closer to an answer there. No one got paid last week. 

When one of the hub's coworkers realized his direct deposit did not go through, he emailed the sort-of HR guy about it, and was told he was not sure when it would happen, because the PT payroll person was let go. The fact that that PT person and another were laid off sent a slight panic through me, but anytime she had taken off in the past, their paychecks were inevitably late, so I was not too worried. 

The next day or so when there was still no paycheck, the same coworker sent an email to the owner, who replied (just to him) that things were not good, and although some things were in the works, he did not know when paychecks would come, but hopefully soon. My husband, however, received no email about this. If he had not talked to this coworker, he would have had no clue how bad things were (are!); husband, the coworker who sent the email, and one more guy work from home; the other 10 or so employees work out of the office several hours from Pittsburgh. Maybe they were told something.

I am trying not to panic, but I am not entirely succeeding. When you get laid off, you can at least collect UC. But I have no idea what you do in this situation. I like to think I would be on the phone or sending multiple emails to the owner, but the hub thinks there is little point. Yes, I know it would not change anything, and I would not expect much from a guy who could not even buy his in-house employees a pizza on Christmas Eve or send a (free) email thanking his employees for their work or wishing them a happy holiday. But I just don't think I could accept the complete lack of communication in a situation like this. 

In the meantime, I will try to take some deep breaths and be glad we have some cushion in the bank. I will, however, probably continue to worry and be angry (in case you could not tell from my previous paragraph, I am pretty peeved). 

And I will remind myself that like so many other things, this too shall pass.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Neither a year in review nor a bunch of resolutions

Happy 2015, everyone! I wrote my first check of the year just two minutes ago, and I used the correct year. Already 2015 is off to a good start! :-)

Regarding the check, I have to give a shout-out to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. For only $13, I can get 52 weeks of the Sunday paper. Yes, the Trib leans right. So do I, sometimes (I lean left about as often nowadays, much to the disappointment of my family and a few friends). Regardless, once the P-G raised its rates to something like $60 every quarter to get the Sunday and Thursday papers, I bailed. I do think the PG has a good product, but I could think of many other things I would rather spend that money on. With the great Trib price, I can tip my carrier, donate to the NIE, and save myself several hundred dollars a year.

As is typical, I did nothing for New Year's Eve. Well, I did get a lot done during the day. I dropped the kid off at a friend's house. I got four new tires (my third replacement set since I bought the car almost 8 years ago) and an alignment. While waiting for that, I did about 1.5 hours of work. (Since we are on winter recess, I will get credit for any work I do, and I will be able to leave early one day.).

I got my glasses adjusted and wasted an additional 15 minutes at Lens Crafters because two different people told me I could get free sunglasses lenses (and just pay for the frames) with a birthday coupon I had. Did not find out until the woman rang me up that I would also have to pay for part of the lenses. I left. I plan to write a complain email about that. 

I spent another chunk of change on our crazy dog Bailey. Apparently she is immune to the no-biting spray (it just makes us gag), but I decided to try a third, more natural brand. I also replaced the Kong that Sadie had for 12 years which Bailey managed to destroy in two weeks. Sigh.

After picking up J from the friend's house, we did some grocery shopping, then had a nice dinner (minus the bacon that went up in flames on the grill), and I enjoyed a margarita for dinner and chocolate egg nog for dessert. The Pens finally won a game; I like to think my wearing of the third jersey (Recchi) helped, but that article of clothing has been inconsistent at best.

I was in bed by 11:30, still trying to make up for three nights of little sleep at my mom's. But I did awake at midnight to the sound of distant fireworks. Or maybe gunshots. :-)

I have no expectations for 2015, other than I resolve not to spend to spend much money on my car. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago my new mechanic passed my car for inspection without my needing new brakes. Since I typically replace those every other year, and this was the year to do it, I am guessing new brakes (and probably rotors) are in my 2015.

I would love for a couple of my teams to come away with some post-season victories, but I can't do much about that. I will just try to enjoy whatever ride they take me on.

Here's hoping 2015 is a good ride for all of you.