Use it or lose it

It’s March now, and I’ve used up almost all of my vacation time that I accrued in 2020.  At my workplace, they have a policy of ‘use it or lose it‘ in terms of how vacation time is managed.  I’ve earned four weeks of vacation a year due to how long I’ve worked at this particular company, along with a codicil that was agreed to in the union contract when my fellow employees and I were absorbed into this company from our previous one.

Basically, it said that employees that had 10 plus years of service with the absorbed company were due 2 weeks of vacation, rather than having to ‘build from the ground up’ with the new company.  Though that’s all well and good, by this time, had the old company still been in business, I’d have accrued FIVE weeks of vacation, so I’m getting stiffed by one week, not that I tend to use all of my allotted time for the purpose of going anywhere. That being said, I guess I’m grateful for having the time given at all, when by this time I’d still be at three weeks in the current company system.

Where’s all this going?”  I’m sure you’re asking yourself.  Well, nowhere actually, only emptying my brain on a Monday evening, in the midst of my vacation time.  Then again, I haven’t written in awhile, so I thought I’d throw out some things while my brain was interested and my fingers were nimble.  Yes, lucky you dear reader, lucky you.

By my recollection I’ve started any number of entries since my last tome hit the interwebs back in October of last year.  I wrote for a little while and then set them aside to mildew and fester, and finally tossed them into the rubbish bin as they were no longer either viable, or current.  For whatever reason my blogging jones just doesn’t seem to be able to get off the dime to finish an entry before it becomes dated.  Even this one is now 2 days after when I started it.  Go figure.  Procrastination, thy name is me.

We’re quickly winging our way down from the end of winter to the beginning of spring in about 2 weeks.  While I’m writing this, it’s snowing outside.  This after a day of 70° weather on Sunday.  Yeah, really.  A good amount of the snow that had accumulated over the winter melted, then was pummeled into submission by the rainstorm we had Sunday evening.  Naturally after that the temperatures went down to more seasonable 30s and 40s culminating with the snow that’s currently falling here at Casa Leathers.

The remainder of the week has appointments, and a visit from the local plumber/electrical repair guys, to do some work that has been needing attending to for probably the better part of a year.  What has been needing fixing are assorted electrical and plumbing issues, though one became very immediate on Sunday evening when the kitchen sink developed a clog.  I tried getting rid of it with the usual remedies (a plunger then noxious chemicals) but neither of them worked.  Time to call in the experts.

Suffice it to say, I have other reasons for this last week of vacation, the house is in dire need of cleaning and sprucing up.  It’ll be interesting to see if I can get that accomplished.  Wish me luck!

Longevity

These days in our ‘throwaway’ society one doesn’t really think about longevity in products. Other than appliances like dishwashers or laundry equipment which are designed to last 10 years or so, typically your average appliance may last 5-6 years if you’re fortunate.

A month ago my Boom speaker stopped charging. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled speaker I’ve had since 2013 when I bought one because it did all the things I needed a BT speaker for and it was water-resistant so it could be used in the shower.  Seeing as this is 2021, it managed to live for 8 years of use.  Pretty good for nowadays, IMO.  Unfortunately, the business that made it is no longer IN business, for whatever reason they went bankrupt, and their products are now made by another company.  Not this particular speaker, however, since I can’t find any reference to it on the new company’s website.  The only references to it I can find are reviews that were published in 2012, and someone is selling backstock on eBay, for a ridiculously low price compared to the $150 price point it was originally.  Me being me, I bought two of them from the eBay seller, just in case the ‘newer’ ones aren’t as sturdy as my old workhorse.  Can’t be too careful, right?

Naturally, this incident has caused me to think about all the other appliances and doodads I’ve had over the years that have managed to overcome their anticipated demise date.

  • The Kitchen-Aid mixer that I inherited from my mother-in-law, that was probably made in the 1950s or 60s and is still going strong.
  • The box fan that my parents bought in the 1970s and still works just fine.
  • The Conair hair dryer I got for Christmas while I was still in high school that still runs fine, though more likely it still works because I use it so infrequently.
  • The metal power strip that my parents bought for me when I went away to college in 1983 and has outlived and outlasted dozens of plastic ones we’ve had since.
  • The wood and canvas director’s chairs that I inherited from my parents.  Canvas seats last nearly forever if you don’t allow them to get wet, or if you do, you make sure that you don’t leave them wet so the canvas rots.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  The old adage “they don’t make things like they used to” is spot on anymore.  Certainly one will find solely American-made products seem to outlast their contemporaries, for the most part.  Yes, I know there are many American-made items that don’t last very long, but I challenge you, dear reader.  Go to an antique store and find something that was made in the USA during the period of 1920 to say 1975.  I’ll wager if you were to plug it in (or not if it wasn’t electrical) or use it, it would, by and large, outdistance its 21st-century replacement.

At least it wasn’t COVID

I’m back to work again after having about the worst case of the flu I’ve ever encountered.

It all started the Thursday before last, I was feeling pretty blech upon coming home from work, I remember going to bed earlier than usual, but ended up sleeping almost 16 hours into the next day. Not all at once, mind you. I woke up after a full eight hours and just felt tired, and my body was achy. I mean, all over achy. I got up but didn’t stay up very long. Went back to bed and slept for another eight hours. Of course this sort of screwed up my sleep/eat/up schedule for the next workday, but I didn’t end up eating all that much anyway. My wife asked me what I wanted for dinner and after thinking about it, I said “waffles”.  It’s quick, easy and I hadn’t had them for a while.   Made the batter, got out the iron, and bing bam boom had them done in pretty short order.  Now normally I can polish off two and be back for more, but that evening, I barely finished one.  For whatever reason, I just wasn’t hungry.

At this point, my wife was concerned, but not so much that she thought I ought to call off of work for the next day.  Which for me is a huge undertaking.  I just don’t do that normally.  I’ve gone to work with a broken toe before.  Bad cold, feeling like death warmed over, doesn’t usually matter.  The only things up to now that have kept me from work are my gallbladder surgery, kidney stones, and one hellacious tooth abscess.

I went to bed early and slept nearly nine hours.  Got up for work and didn’t feel well at all.  I certainly had more than one thought of “I really, really don’t want to go to work today.” but I couldn’t bring myself to call the store and beg off.  It’s just not in my nature.  Even writing this, after going through what I did, if I had the same symptoms tomorrow morning, I’d hesitate before picking up the phone.  How weird is that?  I have co-workers that don’t agonize about calling off from work, they just do it and take the day.

Upon arriving to work, I knew it was a mistake having gone.  I tried, but after 30 minutes I knew I had to go back home.  Which to me felt like a failure.  But I could barely stay awake, let alone put in a full day of hard work.  I told my supervisor, who, to his credit said what he always does when someone needs to go home for a medical issue “Do what you need to do for yourself.”  That’s it.  I went home and went back to bed.  I would have called my Dr. for an appointment, but his office isn’t open on weekends.  I didn’t feel it was so dire that a trip to the ER was necessary, or even Urgent Care.  I figured more sleep would do the trick, even though it hadn’t up to that point.

Sleep didn’t work, except I was quickly becoming slept out.  By Saturday evening, I was trying to justify going to work again.  My wife was convinced that calling in was going to be the best option, and a good friend of mine was attempting to do the same when it came right down to it.  I had a feeling if I called in, I was going to get the store manager, who wouldn’t be very understanding when it came to me asking for Sunday off.  Of course, I was spot on.  When I called the store and talked to him at 9:30, first he blew me off “Oh, come on…” and then when I attempted to explain, he muttered “Whatever” and hung up on me.  Wonderful.  Not only was I feeling physically ill, now I was feeling like a failure for calling in.  That feeling didn’t go away for a while.

Sunday was a blur for the most part.  Starting Saturday night, I was taking my vitals, beginning to think I might have COVID.  I was wearing a mask around the house, trying to be circumspect around my wife and my cat, hoping that I wasn’t inadvertently infecting them with my very presence.  Too, I wasn’t eating all that much, but I was drinking copious amounts of water, but I was cognizant that I was losing weight as well.  Over the course of the weekend, I dropped ten pounds (4.5 kg).  My vitals for the most part were normal, the only thing that was a little off was my pulse, which varied from 90-120 bpm.  I think that was more due to nervousness and dread, but by Monday that came down.  I was checking and re-checking the CDC and Mayo Clinic websites, looking for COVID symptoms and ticking off the ones I had (fatigue, body aches, dry cough) and the ones I didn’t (loss of taste or smell primarily).

My plan at this point was to call my Dr. on Monday for an appointment and get the answers I needed.  Seeing as I called off on Sunday, and went home early on Saturday, it was possible that I required a Dr’s note to return to work on Tuesday.  It just so happened that I had Monday scheduled off as we were having a washing machine delivered.

I called the Dr’s office in the morning and got an afternoon appointment.  When I asked the nurse if I needed to tell her why I needed the appointment, she said no, I could tell the doctor when I arrived.  A little odd, since usually they ask.  In preparation, I sat down at my computer and typed out a synopsis of everything that had happened over the weekend so that he had a full accounting and I wouldn’t forget anything.  Came in handy later on, I think.

At the Dr’s, I gave him the synopsis, he read it and then gave me a cursory exam, along with weighing me (confirmed that I had lost 20 lbs since the last time he saw me in May) and quizzing me about any other symptoms I might have forgotten.  When he finished, he said he wasn’t positive, but he was pretty sure I had the flu.  Even so, without my prompting, he gave me one of the ‘quickie’ COVID tests, the nasal swab ones that only take about 10 minutes to determine positive or negative.  I had heard second-hand that the swab was the worst part of it, in that some people have reported that they ‘felt’ the swab tickle their amygdala when it was shoved up their nose.  This wasn’t like that.  It was a quick swabbing of both nostrils, and then in the swab went to its little home to percolate before it came to a conclusion.

Bottom line, it said I didn’t have the coronavirus.  Which in one way was a relief, but in another, it gave me pause because I still felt like a truck had run over me in a bad way (is there a good way to have a truck run you over?).  I asked him for a note for work, as well as one for possibly getting another day off for medical reasons.  He gave me a generic one that said I had been seen in the office and allowed me Tuesday off, returning to work on Wednesday.  Which was ok in my book since in my work schedule, I had Wednesday off.  So by good fortune, I didn’t have to go back to work until Thursday.

The kicker?  On Thursday, when I was back to work, the store manager said to me ‘Welcome Home!’  Eh?  You dismissed me and then hung up on me you bastard!  He then said “you never call in.”  Duh, I know that!

Maybe he can have it.