What a way to start the year…

Where to start, how about the fact I have still not been to work this new year. Nothing wrong with that, right? I was going to complain that I wasn’t going to get a vacation this year. LOL. Thank God for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). While I was approved for it at work in order to take care of my wife, I had only accrued about 100 hours of sick time (from when I had my ACL surgery 3 years prior). I had used my 60 hours of vacation during Christmas week and a few days the weeks before. So while all of this time away is “paid” I will basically be left with only some floating holidays when I get back to work.

As for my wife, she is doing much better, compared to this time some 2 weeks ago. We visit the doctor for her second follow up on Monday. Not sure if he will be recommending physical therapy at that time or not. She does seem to do very well in the mornings when she first gets up. As the day wears on, depending on how much time she has been on her feet, her pain will vary. Since we still have stairs in the house, she is up and does those a few times each day. She walks with a walker, we have a temporary handicap placard for parking and many ventures out have taken more time, for obvious reasons.

I continue to wait on her daily, thus the reason I have not returned to work. She has been able to do more and more as the days roll by, but still has many limitations when it comes to what she cannot accomplish without assistance. There is still a long road ahead, but I do think the worst is behind us. She still cannot drive, but that should pose too much of a problem with me being scheduled to start work again on Thursday.

As for the house, we are more settled in than we were 2 weeks ago. Is that really saying much? Most of the boxes in the garage have been emptied and I can now count the remaining boxes on one hand and some of those won’t be emptied. I am still amazed at the amount of “crap” I continue to carry with me. I have thousands of baseball cards and countless collectibles I have collected over the year. While I haven’t followed baseball or any sports (outside of soccer) I still continue to cling to these possessions, debating if I should sell them. Currently they sit in a storage unit, along with other possessions and stuff from our old house.

I am maybe a few steps closer to getting my amateur radio on the air, but just came to the realization I won’t be mounting the hex beam on the roof. I made a venture up there the other day and was very surprised at how slippery the Spanish tile were. It was all I could do to mount my weather station to the facia of the roof without falling off. While I spoke of buying a 55′ tilt-over, crank up tower, I am now having second thoughts as to just what it would take on my part to get it to Oakley. Even if I got it home, there is no guarantee I would get it erected. That is something I would need to check with the city first.

WPX Canceled!

Yesterday I had started composing a post discussing the downturn in the solar conditions from those 28 days ago. I learned just a few hours ago I won’t be able to put much of an effort into CQWW WPX this weekend. Call it an oversight on my part, but also a lack of communication on the part of “other” individuals.

Instead of having “BIC” time for WPX and working towards my 1 million point goal, I will be “BIC” at work, moving trains instead of moving a key, sending CW. Depending on my desire level, I will possibly have 10-15 hours to participate. Not sure I will take advantage of it or not. There is a good chance I will put in 2 hours at the start of WPX tomorrow, but don’t believe it will extend much into the night time and the low bands.

So much for 3 months of planning. What actually happened centers around my accrued “off time” at work, which is vacation time. For the past 2 years I have been working on rebuilding my bank, but with contesting and family responsibilities I have not been able to get more than 15-20 hours in the bank before using 8 hours a pop to take a day off from work.

Unfortunately I took a day off in April and another in May (for 7QP) but I forgot to subtract those 16 hours from my total off time. So while I thought I had enough in the bank to cover 16 hours (2 days off) for WPX, the truth was I only had a bit over 10 hours. This means I need to surrender one or both of the days. I decided to work both days and not put in sort of effort.

That’s life! I am suffering from a bit of a let down right now, especially with all the preparation I have put in to achieve my goals. Nonetheless, this means I start refurbishing my station this week, as opposed to next week. It should give me enough time to add some cabinets and extended the raised platform I currently sit at.

Back to Work

It has been 12 days and I am back to work again after taking more time off because of post operation problems with my right knee. Actually, the knee is healing well and physical therapy has been great. The flexibility is almost back to normal, minus some lingering pain that still exists. The strength is slowly coming back with continued exercise, I might actually connect the Wii back up since WiiFit, as I was told by my PT is a great way to strengthen the knee. Hmmm…who would have thunk it?

The problem still resides in my foot, where the tingling persists on a 24/7 basis. The pain is much worse at night when I go to bed, but is with me all day. If I have been on my feet all day or walking, sitting with knee bent (like today at work) I know by the time my punch out time rolls around I am going to be in more pain.

I posted a message on another message board (Teton Gravity) under their “Gimp” section pertaining to my ACL tear and surgery. Someone mentioned to find a homeopathic ointment call Trauma Oil. I have not been able to find it locally, but do see it sold on the Internet. Trauma Oil consists of Calendula flower, Arnica flower and St. John’s Wort in a small 1 oz. bottle. As described, “Indicated in injuries, strains and inflammations of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints: fractures and dislocations, sprains, bruises, contusions, arthritic joints and rheumatic pains.” Can’t hurt to give it shot since the numbness on the right side of my knee is not going away either.

I have 2-3 months of possible FMLA/Short Term Disability available to use, IF needed. Hopefully I won’t miss any more time at work, but if needed it is there. The chance for a second surgery is still there, but not for at least a month of so. I return to the orthopedic surgeon on May 20th, for a two month follow up. We will see what he says at that time, as it stands now I don’t see any improvement in the sensation.

Access Denied by SmartFilter

“Access Denied by SmartFilter.” This is becoming a more and more common response when I attempt to access web sites from work. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that the filtering of web sites is probably a common practice at places of employment. I read a statistic, “almost 40 per cent of internet use in companies is non-work related.” So does that mean users are spending more time on the Internet and being less productive? That same story goes on to say, “most visits to pornographic web pages occur during working hours, with two out of every three visits to pornographic web pages occurring during working hours (source). Wow! I would NEVER consider trying to drop in on a porn site at work, even by mistake.

Some of the other common responses from SmartFilter have been due to; Mature, Extreme, Chat and Gambling. I understand that many companies monitor Internet usage. I heard a stat, but I can’t recall where that something like 71% of employers monitor their employees. Now, honestly, I don’t care if I am monitored. I don’t go to web sites I don’t belong at. Some of the sites I attempt to access, like www.urbanterror.net has been filtered for ‘Extreme’ or ‘Mature.’ I assume that is based solely on the word, “terror.” I am slowly loosing access to forums I accessed on a regular basis because this is not considered, ‘Chat.’ Just the other day my access to www.mercurycougar.net was taken away for this reason. Prior to that the Urban Terror Forums and Above Top Secret were both taken from me.

I am sure your uninformed Internet user accesses Ebay on a regular basis, wouldn’t you think? I know it happens pretty regular at my employer. When will that web site be filtered for God knows what. Shopping? I admit, I search Ebay now and then for Cougar parts and cars, but don’t spend all 8 hours of work there.

More recently there has been a crack down on streaming media sites. I am sure this is the last thing employers want are users sucking up all the bandwidth watching YouTube.com or any of the other video sites out there. Now, I will admit I still stream audio at night. One by one my radio stations are being filtered out, such as KRXQ in Sacramento. Currently I listen to KOMP out of Las Vegas. I even sat here one night on NASA TV waiting for the arrival of the space shuttle.

I have been approached by some IT guy who told me that streaming audio eats up “serious bandwidth” and not to do it. I did not want to argue with him, when he does not have his facts straight on how little bandwidth is actually used. Not to mention, this was being streamed in the middle of the night, where I will venture a guess that Internet usage is probably very, very low. Again, just a guess on my part, maybe it was the principal of the whole thing. Bring a radio you say? I did, unfortunately it gets no reception in our office, situated on the ground floor with all sorts of interference.

It becomes more frustrating every day when you try to access a favorite site and it has been filtered out. Is this supposed to make me more productive as an employee? Probably, but the fact of the matter is, when I am on the Internet, I have very little work to do. Considering what I do for my employer there is time to dabble on the Internet while doing my job. Multitasking is something I can do, but again, I don’t think my employer, or any employer really gives a shit when it comes to tasking my job responsibility and the Internet.

If they do not want me on the Internet, then you better take my access away, because honestly that will be the only way to stop me. I would not know what to do with myself if I did not have Internet access, that is the age we live in. We need information at our fingertips. And I can honestly say that I have used the Internet for work related items previously. Since our office is no longer has cable television, it’s kinda of difficult to get up to the minute news. God forbid we have a serious crisis, like a terrorist attack or earthquake and no cable television.