(Somewhere near Slippery Rock, PA. Photo by Robin. October 2007)

We had a hard frost last night. The temperatures plummeted into the 20’s. There is snow in the forecast for next week. It’s officially November here in the Bogs.

I have a dreadful cold. I feel awful. I’m pretty sure the pressure in my sinuses has built up to the point where my head will explode any minute now. I suspect this sinus pressure is going to be a problem once we’re in flight tomorrow.

This cold has got to go away by early tomorrow morning. That’s all there is to it.

I’m having lunch with friends (and former coworkers) today. I’m looking forward to that. I don’t want to make anyone else sick, but I’ve heard that the best way to get rid of a cold is to pass it on. 😉

I don’t have time this morning to get into our next hiking adventure so I’ll leave you with one more photo from that trip.

(Somewhere near Slippery Rock, PA. Photo by Robin. October 2007)

I’ll be back tomorrow once we’re settled in San Diego (provided the wireless works!).

Stormy August

(Night storm. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

We’ve had a series of strong storms move through the Bogs over the past two days. The rain has come down in all manner of ways: sheets, buckets, drips, drabs, deluge, and everything in between except the proverbial cats and dogs (leastways I didn’t see any cats and dogs dropping from the sky).

The photo above was taken on Tuesday night when the lightning was creating a strobe-like effect. Unfortunately, my timing is not good enough to catch the lightning, just the brightening of the sky. I was playing around with the manual settings on the camera. I have a long way to go in learning how to use the camera for night and storm shots, but I thought this one turned out to be kind of interesting. A little surreal, perhaps.

I should add, as if you hadn’t figured it out already, that the photo was taken from indoors, through a window. The wind was lashing the rain against the windows (saves me the trouble of having to wash them on the outside). Between the wind, the rain, and the lightning, it was not a good night to be outdoors taking photographs.

All the recent rain has brought the pond almost back up to normal levels. I haven’t watched the weather report on the news lately, but I’m guessing we’re almost out of the 3-inch deficit.

The house is still a chaotic mess. M and I should have it pretty much in order within a week or so. Then begins the big project: 27 Things. I read about it at gratefulness.org. The idea is to commit yourself to move, give away, or throw away 27 items a day over the course of 9 days.

Having taken a good look at the clutter in our home, I think it might take longer than 9 days to simplify the way I’d like to see us simplify. It might take months. Years, even.

I hope to make a trip up to the farm tomorrow to buy some more vegetables. In between the unpacking and reorganizing, I have to start canning and freezing so we’ll have in a good store of stuff for the winter months. Hopefully this will also save us a few dollars when it comes to grocery shopping. I don’t expect it will make up for my decision not to go back to work, but it will help.

I wasn’t making that much money anyhow, working part-time. For Wal-Mart. They’re not known for their generous hourly wages, that’s for sure.

Speaking of the Evil Empire, I went by the old store today to visit with my ex-boss and ex-co-workers. It was, as always, good to see them. I’m hoping to spend more time with them on a personal basis since we won’t be working together anymore.

And that, folks, is about it from the Bogs for now.

More April showers

(Rainy day. Photo by Robin. April 2007)

More rain for us here in the Bogs. Snow is in the forecast for later this evening. I’d forgotten how cloudy and gloomy it can be in this part of the world. Don’t get me wrong. I still love being at home. But we do get more than our fair share of cloudy days.

I went by Wally World today (finally!) to visit with old friends/coworkers. It was really good to see J again and, since I know you’re reading the blog J, congratulations to you on quitting smoking! I’m very proud of you.

M and I are getting together with friends this evening. I’m looking forward to it. It will be the first time we’ve gone to a local bar since the state of Ohio went smoke-free. The bar we’re going to tonight has a good selection of draft beers (including one of my favorites, Brooklyn IPA), but it was always so smoky in there that I would often take a pass on going. Now that public places are smoke-free, I can go and enjoy myself without hacking a lung out or the need to take a shower afterwards.

The public health authorities never mention the main reason many Americans have for smoking heavily, which is that smoking is a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide. ~ Kurt Vonnegut

You know, it’s been a long time since I read Slaughterhouse-Five. Or anything by Vonnegut.

So it goes.

One of the interesting things about WordPress is that I can look at the blog stats and see what search engine terms have led people to my blog. Lately people have been looking for the 800 number to call in sick at Wal-Mart. I thought I might still have the number around here somewhere (for sentimental reasons or something, heh) and I was going to post it since it seems to be a popular search (presumably by Wal-Mart associates who want to call off from work). However, I must have decided I’m not so sentimental after all and tossed the card with the number into the trash bin.

I did a search of my own to try to find the number, but had no luck. I’m surprised it’s so difficult to find the number. You would think Wal-Mart would want to make it a little easier for their associates to call in.

Well, enough slackmongering. I’ve been sitting here instead of spring cleaning and I really should get back to it.


Yesterday I read this article: At Wal-Mart, Lessons in Self-Help

To be honest, I’m not sure what to think about it.

When I first started working in the pharmacy at Wal-Mart, I vowed to myself that I would quit work if I ever developed what I call “the Wal-Mart shuffle.” The Wal-Mart shuffle is something you see a lot among the older and/or overweight associates (for those not in the know, Wal-Mart calls their employees “associates”). It’s a way of walking, or shuffling, that gives off the message: I am in pain. Physical pain is a large part of it, but there’s also the mental and emotional pain of working for a company whose management style, in my experience and opinion, is designed to beat people down, sucking the life, the confidence, and the self-esteem out of them.  I’ve even see a few members of management acquire their own version of the shuffle due to Wally World’s trickle down policy.

I’m pretty sure I was doing a version of the Wal-Mart shuffle when I quit. The back pain and sciatica were heavy contributors, but in hindsight, the job itself was wearing me out. I was lucky in that I’d had some good bosses (pharmacy managers and pharmacists) throughout my almost six years with Wally World. I also had the misfortune to have worked with some loony toons who had no business working in a pharmacy and/or with the public.

The thing about this new plan of Wal-Mart’s is that I can’t help but wonder if the associates would be better off in the long run, healthier and happier, if Wally World would take the money used to fund their new program and give it to the associates in the form of higher pay, better benefits, and compassionate work schedules. With their open availability policy and erratic scheduling, Wal-Mart makes it difficult on their associates to build healthy habits (such as regular exercise). Maybe it’s just me, but I find it much easier to maintain an exercise habit if I get into an exercise routine where I work out at the same time every day. It’s difficult to do that if your work schedule varies from day to day and week to week.

It should be noted that when I worked for Wal-Mart I did have a fairly regular schedule which varied according to the comings and goings due to a high turnover of techs and pharmacists. I was lucky in that I was hired in to work week days between the hours of 9-5. I didn’t work nights or weekends unless I was asked to fill in for another tech. That said, I do know that most associates are not so lucky. Back in the 90’s I worked as a cashier for Wal-Mart and my schedule was so erratic that it was impossible to plan anything. It was also exhausting in that I’d often be scheduled to work until closing (“closing” is when the store is clean and tidy as declared by a member of management which means that a particularly sadistic manager might keep everyone there until 1, 2 or 3am) and then scheduled to open the next day at 7am. That sort of scheduling, in my experience, is more the norm than my own schedule while working in the pharmacy.

The program sounds, in theory, like a great idea.  Self-improvement and environmentalism.  Who could argue with that?  And who knows… perhaps many of Wal-Mart’s newly self-improved associates will self-improve themselves into better jobs.