Dust settles

Keyboard I use with my phone

Omoton Bluetooth Keyboard

Now that the dust settled (somewhat) and we got into a routine of things, I will be posting more. I do have a few Gs of data per month, and I’ll be using them to post more on my blog.

No, I won’t be on Facebook, much. While the app and messenger are horrendous data hogs, the website isn’t much better. I suspect it’s the large images and ads, but I blow through a lot of data when I’m on there.

Take heart, I will be on when we go to the library, although I use that opportunity to post to my story blog (here, if anyone is interested). However my time is limited so even though I do check my notifications and stalk a few friends, I still won’t be posting there much. 

It will still be crazy for the next few weeks as Mike starts working tomorrow. Financially, we are still very tight, but with someone helping with the house payments (thanks, Jon) and the fact that we no longer have a car or camper payment, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Our Next Goal to get Ahead

37 Carver St, Brandon, VT

37 Carver St, Brandon, VT House for sale

We need to sell our house.

The problem is, the people who have looked at it are in VT and are not exactly committed to buying a house. They look. They hem and haw, then they decide that maybe next year.

The people who are really looking to move to Vermont are those ready to retire or to find a home that they feel inspired to paint.

There are a lot of art galleries here.

The other group of people who will be willing to buy our house are “snow birds” or people looking for a summer home. Actually, our house is ideal for a summer home. It’s literally right down the road from town.

So my target “market,” are people who live in California, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Lower New York (like NYC, Manhattan, etc). In a few days, I’ll have a single page “ad” for the house.

In the meantime, for those of you who are friends with me on Facebook in these state, if you could share this link: http://on.trulia.com/2c42Bq4, that would help a lot!



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Don’t do this at Home – Especially if it’s Mobile.

It took a while for us to get it here. For some reason, the Auto park wouldn’t release the brakes. For those who were as clueless as we were when we first saw the light on the dash after realizing we weren’t going anywhere, I’ll save you the hours of researching. It’s like a fail-safe for the parking brake. On normal cars, you have the regular brake and the parking brake. The auto park turns on the parking brake as soon as you shut the engine off.

This supposedly is for those people who refuse to use the parking brake. You shouldn’t rely to heavily on the engine as the brake, as it allows to vehicle to rock. What’s more, the engine brake isn’t as good when it comes to heavier vehicles and sometimes it will not work.

We found this out just before we headed out to Massachusetts when Mike put it in park and when to the side door to see if he could check if he was too close to the garage. The motor home started to roll back and both Michala and I yelled for him and he got back to the driver’s seat to stop it with the parking brake.

We have to re-enable it soon. It would be interesting to see if the problem we’ve had with the batteries is what caused the auto park not to release. So first thing we will be fixing is the electrical system. Then try reconnecting the auto park, because it wouldn’t be too pleasant if we lost our home again, this time to a mishap due to an easily preventable human error.



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Stranded in the most annoying way possible.

It was a dark and lonely night…

We had quite a day Sunday. In spite of the few hiccups a bunch of newbies would have, the trip started out just fine. The kids didn’t fight and enjoyed the fact that they were able to sit at a table on the entire trip and played their version of Pictionary with the whiteboard that we bought.

Mike and I discussed on what we could change while I wrote a “wishlist” of improvements to make.

My kids are burying Benjamin

Courtesy of Kelly Hamilton

The kids enjoyed their day. I missed it, but I was told Nathan had rescued a few runaway tubes from the center of the lake.

Benjamin spent most of his time in the sand – literately and the girls had fun using the Kayak.

In the end, everyone was exhausted and ready to go home. Instinctively, I thought that we shouldn’t be driving in the dark. The running lights were broken and we weren’t sure if all the lights worked.

However, we were convinced to stay for cake and I rounded up the kids. I suspect herding cats would be much easier if you had catnip, but even with promises of cake, it took a few tries to get everyone in one place.

We left about an hour later than we had planned.

For most of the trip, it was uneventful. Mike was used to driving by now and it seemed that we would be home in no time.

About 3/4 of the way, I noticed that when we would go up hills, the motor would downshift, but it seemed to have a different tone.

We both dismissed it as we were unfamiliar with the motorhome driving, and I was still a bit hyper sensitive from our accident. Everything sometimes seems to sound like a disaster waiting to happen.

A little while longer, Mike noticed that the engine light turned on. Then the Autopark light made itself known. Fortunately, the autopark was disabled, so the motorhome didn’t skid to a stop suddenly. Something that seemed to be a problem with older ones like ours.

While I was waiting for my phone to load a search page on why the engine light is on, Mike noticed that the speedometer was off. The transmission was started to shift randomly. This whole time, we were speculating what it could be.

Finally the Motorhome backfired and we decided to stop at a gas station in Whitehall, NY. Mike left it running, since we knew that batteries weren’t charging anymore. He was afraid that it wouldn’t start.

Thinking that the transmission might have been overheating, he cooled it off with some water from one of the gallons I had filled earlier.

We pulled out of the station, and it was already too dark to go without lights, so he turned it on.

We had already pulled out of the gas station when the engine started to die. About a mile down the road, we stopped at an antique place and that was it. everything quit.

We were 7 miles away from home. That’s right. If we were to walk very fast, we could make it home in less than two hours. I used to bike that distance to work every day. We were so close!

I was about to text Jonathan so that we can give them a heads up that they might have to come out and help, but Mike insisted that we troubleshoot first.

It took about 5 minutes for us to realize that he didn’t have his tools. At this point, Nathan had already texted Jonathan anyway. Mike relayed that he needed his meter and some basic tools that were in the garage.

After tinkering a little and determining that the belt to the alternator wasn’t broken. All we could do is sit and wait for my brother and father to arrive.

It wasn’t long.

Jonathan couldn’t jump the motorhome with his plug-in hybrid. It was just the way it was designed.

So we hooked up dad’s car, and it ran for a while.

My phone battery was getting low. I did have the battery bank, but I already used it twice to charge the camera, so I wasn’t sure how much power I had left. If we were to stay there overnight, I would need my phone for an emergencies.

I did take some video, using a flashlight that I should have had fresh batteries for and it wasn’t enough. So I have a lot of footage of blackness and some darkness… and maybe a little of nothingness.

Here’s what I salvaged:

In the end, Mike ended up going to Walmart and buying 1 starter battery and two deep cycle batteries. Deep cycle batteries are usually used on motorhomes, homes with alternative energy and a lot of small vehicles that run on batteries like electric golf carts and forklifts. The batteries can withstand being drained all the way, but the starter battery is meant to stay charged. If it drains too much, you can lose some of it’s functionality.

We are not sure what happened. It’s an old motorhome and I figured there would be problems. It’s a good thing we saw this happening now instead of somewhere between here and Texas.


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Well, it finally happened.

Untitled

“No one is more beautiful as intelligent as me”

Mike was fired again and this time it stuck. Apparently, “Fred”, his former manager tried to fire him before, but was too incompetent to even do that right.

From what Mike had described to me and from what I have found out (yes, I went there), he sounds like a classic case of a psychopath/sociopath.

We knew this for a long time and I tried to convince Mike to go to HR quite some time, but Mike is patient and doesn’t like to make a scene. Then, after he was fired the first time, er, I mean suspended… Er, I mean take a forced vacation (all according to “Fred”, by the way), he didn’t really care anymore and only stayed for the insurance.

The good news is that he gets a severance package that lasts for a month. So this will give us some time to find some work. I don’t doubt he’ll find a few electrical jobs in the next few weeks (ahem… anyone in Texas need some wiring done?). He does have his provisional license, finally.

The other good thing is that now I can blog about this unrestrained. I stopped short of a complete rant last time because for some reason, I had a feeling that it wasn’t over. Now it’s official – and yet, I’m too nice to mention this person by his real name.

This isn’t the first time someone like this has caused problems for a company. Mike had to deal with the same type in GE. Management in large companies like Pepsi and GE rely too heavily on office politics and flattery rather than quiet productivity. As a result, it’s a playground for sociopaths – psychopaths who try to weasel their way to the top. As a result, good workers lose their jobs and companies loses millions as these sociopaths try to cover for themselves though blame, undermining, sabotage, and blatant lies.

Usually, when you realize the person is doing all that I described, It’s too late. Many people have already lost their jobs, and some may have even committed suicide (this happened at the GE plant in Rutland.)

Now that “Fred” had been demoted to mere maintenance manager, the talented, already skilled crew are already looking for new jobs because he’s already giving them grief (that didn’t take long, did it?). This will cause the Pepsi plant in Mesquite to lose millions of dollars more in training and lost productivity. But it won’t be “Fred’s” fault. It’s never a psychopath’s fault.

Note: Before you say that it serves the company right, keep in mind that a psychopath is very good at keeping up the charade. Many of them know how to walk the walk and talk the talk but only . Even the most socially intelligent and competent manager can be fooled if they have never encountered one. Check these sites out:

http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html
http://www.sociopathworld.com/
http://chericola57.tripod.com/infinite.html

This post is in the realm of “TLDR” so I’m breaking it down into parts. Stay tuned.

My New Phone

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Mike's phone on the left (same as mine), Michala's on the right (same as Nathan's)

Mike and I went shopping today. The two oldest needed a phone and Mike really wanted to replace his old phone. The two oldest kids needed phones for school (yes, it got to that point), and I needed a decent phone to do most of my blogging, research, and home courses.

So we got two LG Powers for the kids and two ZTE quartz.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly technology improves relative to the price. The LG phones are $10 cheaper than my LG fire, and yet it has many more features, including a larger screen, front facing camera, and a flash.

I still have my old phone. I will be using it as a house phone. Since these new phones will be used in lieu of internet service, which usually includes phone line, I won’t have something for Sarah to use when she decides to stay home when I drive the other kids to their many activities.

So for family members and a few in-person friends, I’ll be calling or texting in the next few days. They can keep my old number as it’s still valid, but if they want to get a hold of me, it’s likely they’ll have more success if they call my new number.

I have no complaints. I just finished blogging from this phone.

This week so far

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The electrical technician came in this morning and finally got our power up and running. 

It was kind of difficult. We had to rotate though all of the power hogs. I would start the generator and plug in all of the rechargeable devices first, but I wouldn’t startcoffee maker for a half hour.

The fridge and freezer would take all of the power trying to catch up from being off for a few hours. Then the water heater would take all of the power, so for the most part, I would boil water for cleaning and dishes to save the trouble of running the generator for forty minutes, just for a few gallons of hot water. We did run it all day Saturday for showers.

The lights work just fine thanks to the fact that like all campers, the lights ran on battery… the very battery we just replaced a few months ago.

The lights would charge every time the generator was on, but I convinced the kids that we should use the lights only for emergencies.  They went to bed early. I guess this was a good thing, considering I would also go to bed early, as even time on my laptop was limited to battery power… and Ethan would use most of it.

Anyway, that particular crisis is over. On to the next one. This one may not be avoided, but I get into more details when I have more details.

Posted from WordPress for Android

History Repeats itself–sort of.

(Alternative titles: “How your privacy really isn’t that private online” or “I wonder if this will make you paranoid”)

Incompetent people who has Dunning–Kruger

My mouse hovers over a name on a linkedin account. How on earth did he make it this far? I knew his name, and I knew where he worked, and now I know where he lives. I could do a background check. Some would even do some social engineering to find out what happened in last jobs. I’m not much into cold calling. I could check to see who worked with him and use Facebook to make some contacts.

Mike told me that there was a problem with lack of personal responsibility with his boss. When problems occur, he immediately points fingers at everyone else and tries to scapegoat everyone. Moral was down, efficiency was down,  a few supervisors already resigned, and  Mike himself was showing signs of stress.

Then two weeks ago, Mike told me that for some reason, his immediate boss at Pepsi started to harass him over petty stuff (which I won’t get into details here). Alarm bells went off and I said that it’s likely that they are going to try to fire him. He should talk to one of the higher-ups about it. He didn’t think his boss was that dumb, and I said (to the extent of) “If he’s harassing you over stuff like that, then it’s likely he’s fishing for a reason to fire you, regardless on how well you work.”

People like that have no real logic – like his previous boss was similar but didn’t harass him as much. I think GE didn’t care about that plant as much as Pepsi cares about this one. If GE had been breathing down the neck of his last boss to try to get his numbers up, It’s likely both him and his competent friend would have been fired sooner.

Pepsi on the other hand, was probably breathing down this guy’s neck and he is desperately trying to find scapegoats. Using every means necessary including coercing workers who have a lot to lose to appear as witnesses.  Apparently he thinks that firing the very people who could help solve the problems will make the problems go away, somehow.

Like I said, no real logic.

I highlighted the name on the page to do another search. I could find more information. Usually the wife (I knew he was married) has, statistically speaking, a Facebook page. It’s only a matter of using a “people search engine” to find her. It’s likely she doesn’t use her Facebook much but I could trace their friends. I suspect that it would only take me a few hours to go through them.

I move my cursor over to the tab I was on and center clicked. This closed the tab. As tempting as it was, what would I do with that information? The last boss I dug up a lot of info and decided not use it. Why? Because it’s not like me, I guess. I’m not much in destroying people’s lives,  How did he end up as number two over more qualified people in the plant? He was previously an IT manager. I didn’t look into it, but it’s likely that he had all kinds of “interesting” information on the people of importance who would suffer greatly if he wasn’t promoted.

What happened to that last guy? Mike’s friend finally quit and he had an exit interview. Let’s just say that soon after that, everyone involved were suddenly looking for an early retirement.

As for this one, you can’t fire competent people and expect everything to go well. After all, they were the ones who kept the plant running. They’re the ones who can solve the problems to make the plant more efficient. This guy will eventually be fired. Unfortunately, not before more people like Mike lose their jobs. There’s another one, Mike said. It’s likely she was fired or suspended as well.

Mike at the moment is “suspended”. Interestingly, This guy didn’t just fire him. It’s likely that he hasn’t coerced enough people to side with him and by suspending Mike he buys himself time to convince the plant director to fire him. At the same time, Mike won’t be able to defend himself, although he does have all the email addresses and the data necessary to make a decent case for him to stay.

It’s not like Mike wants the job back. I’ve never seen him happier, almost relieved. After all, who would want to work for someone who creates more problems than solves then blames you for them.

Unfortunately, things are already tight. He thinks he might already have a job in line, but we won’t find out for a couple of days. Unlike last time, we had about a years worth of savings. This time, we have about a month. Not sure what will happen if this job doesn’t pan out.

Soon…

Laptop fixed with duct tape

There, I fixed it!

My laptop is on it’s last legs. Somebody finally paid me back and I finally bought a replacement. It won’t be here until next week because I was too cheap to pay for expedited shipping.

Yeah, I’m that type of person who hesitates buying a 99 cent app after paying a couple hundred on a tablet.

In the photo: The charging port successfully remained in tact after being yanked out by the kids millions of times… until last week. The duct tape is to keep the plug in place so that the charging circuit doesn’t flake out.

My laptop survived 5 years with six kids so I purchased a Toshiba again. I have this one on order.

Posted from WordPress for Android (then edited on a computer).

Movie Night

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Popcorn container from Cinemark

The library had a hunger games marathon with the potential to win tickets for The Hunger Games, Mocking Jay Part 1.

They had 10 tickets for 10 potential winners. Less than 10 people showed up, so the three oldest went to the 11 o’clock showing.

I made Stephanie and Benjamin popcorn and since I couldn’t get the internet to work, they played Minecraft past their bedtime.

They were in bed long before the others came home, which was after 1:30 am.

You would think they would have slept late, but no. They were up at their usual time, a bit touchy due to lack of sleep.

Everyone goes to bed early tonight!

At least I hope they do.