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This week at work starts the beginning of our furloughs.  Twice a month we have two unpaid days off. It equals about 10 percent of our pay being reduced.  It was either this or massive layoffs- and even though I have over 10 years of time where I work,  I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t be laid off.  So I figured lesser of two evils is to have a job at less pay- so when the union vote came down- I voted for furloughs. The fact that we had a massive budget reduction had been made abundantly clear and it was something I worried about, fretted over, lost sleep over- for months and months. I would go from a “whatever, I really have no control, make lemonade out of lemons” attitude to a “fuck! what will I do if I am laid off?” panic-a-tude/depression-a-tude within the span of a day for months and months.  I still go through this- because they have been drumming into our heads that furloughs do not mean there will be no layoffs- just not massive ones- only it’s more lemonade and less panic…for now.

Anyway- in one of my panic-a-tude moments I started researching (read: googling) on things like:  polishing resumes, applying for unemployment, how to stand out in an interview, and what to do if you are furloughed/laid off.  etc.  In my research I came across an article and I really wish I had bookmarked it but alas I did not, it had to do with what to do if you were furloughed/laid-off.  And one of the top pieces of advice in this article was to “Try not to take it personally.” Um ok. At the time I thought well- you know that is stupid. Why would you take it personally unless you were fired. Then you might take it personally.

I have to say though, that now that I am officially furloughed, I can see how someone can take it personally. I like my job and I think I give it a pretty good effort.  It was kind of hard to sit through my annual performance review and hear that I am doing great and that my review was outstanding- only to know that I am getting paid 10 percent less than I was before.  Cost of living increase? How about a cost of living decrease…my pay goes down while things like the sales tax in my city goes up. Yeah…It’s depressing and really sucks. Our furlough schedule while fixed isn’t really regular so it’s not like I could pick up a second job to try to pick up more income.  I am glad it’s just me and Roxy that depend on my pay- because if I had a family this could be a serious blow (see that…I just made some lemonade there- look at me juice!)

I tend to obsess and panic about things like this- and I am trying REALLY hard not to. I am trying to be a “hey yey for me I get an extra day off this week” person instead of the “great- I am getting less money can I really afford to do xyz this year” person.  And while I know the decrease in my hours and pay is NOT my fault, it is not due to my performance or the person I am, I can see how you might associate the two. So I am going to get through this…by trying not to take it personally.

Last weekend was our annual Rodeo (the 99th year believe it or not). Rodeo is one of our big events here and is celebrated the whole week before (often called BIG WEEK). So some years I am more into Rodeo than others. This year I was definitely not into rodeo. So much so that I was actually able to forget about it for the most part except for the one time I accidentally got caught in event traffic in front of the rodeo grounds because I had forgotten and driven that way. Dumb me.

One of the FREE things that come with Rodeo is the Horse Parade. They start on the south side of town and parade up Main street all the way into the rodeo grounds.  Pretty much you have seen one horse parade though you have seen them all. Seriously its just a bunch of people on horses, some dressed up some wearing regular clothes.  However my dad decided it would be great to take his grandson (my nephew) to the horse parade. I went along to play porter (my main job? Carry chairs and push empty stroller). Luckily I also got to take three pictures and hold my nephew for three seconds.  I was surprised that he seemed to really love the horse parade.  My mom was worried the horses would scare him. He didn’t seem scared by them at all.  He watched the horses and waved to a couple. But what fascinated him the most? The Motorcycle cops that preceded the horses.  The motorcycle cops zoomed back and forth prior to the parade and then were at the front of the parade…and he LOVED them. He waved and waved at them. It was so cute.  Here is my nephew and I at the parade for the three seconds I got to hold him. You can’t tell but he was waving at a horse:

15 months old

15 months old

BTW- it looks like we have the same color hair doesn’t it? We don’t. His is natural. Mine is decidedly not.

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Just a reminder I am not here this weekend- I am in Vegas. If you leave a comment and you haven’t done so before…it may take until Monday or Tuesday to show up. Keep coming back while I am gone though- I have some good posts lined up.

I was at Infineon last Friday and I have just been too busy to get this up any sooner…but this is a double the MI-5 post:

First up is Bill’s Vacation MI-5 from last friday:

1) Tell us a memorable vacation story you have from your childhood. For awhile during my childhood we would rent a cabin up in DeSabla near Paradise, CA that was owned by the company my father worked for. It had a little teeny lake you could fish on a pool and an expanse of woods that we would hike around in. Well one day we went hiking and GOT LOST! As in REALLY REALLY lost. It was VERY scary and we were lost most of the day. We finally came across what was either a fire break or some sort of access road or trail and followed it but by this time we had been lost for at least 8 hours or so..we were dirty hungry and tired.  We eventually ended up on a street and asked one of the men sitting in front of his house if we could use his hose to get a drink and he let us and my dad told him we were lost and asked him how to get back to where we were from…and he told us but it was a pretty long walk.  A couple minutes later the guy came in a huge ancient Suburban and gave us ride back to the cabin. We got there to my grandparents sitting on the porch drinking a beer. They told us they had been there several hours and were starting to wonder where we got off to.

2) Tell us a memorable vacation tale from your adulthood. Well every adult vacation has a memory attached to it. This last one when I went to Infineon- was meeting and having my picture taken with Darian – Tony Stewart’s Crew Chief. My friend and I always figure out a way to have some sort of adventure!!!

3) Assume you and your mate/significant other/best friend are going on a dream vacation. You don’t have to pay for any of it. Where do you go? Why?  We go to Charlotte for the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 and the week in between. We are gonna do it one of these days.

4) Now, come back down to Earth, and tell us about a “dream” vacation that you think might actually happen some day. Where is that? How long until you think it becomes reality? The one I mentioned up there will happen. I know that because we are planning for it. We have an ultimate goal of visiting EVERY track on the NASCAR circuit and that one is one of the big hits.

5) There are some missionary students on “working vacation” coming to my house for dinner tonight. If someone came to stay with you for vacation, what would you feed them that was really considered a “local delicacy”? What regional food would be a “must have”? A local delicacy? Calamari I guess. Ooh and Artichokes. Yum.

And next is G’s Life’s Journey M-5 for this week:

G sez:The idea is to name the book which is your life.  Give your book (your life) a title.  Or, if your life were a book what would the title be?  Next come the chapters.  Some of these chapters will be uglier, funnier, better or worse than others.  For each of the time frames listed, try to name that chapter in your life.  You don’t have to, but if you wanted to expand on the reasoning behind your titles, that would be great.  Also, if you have a chapter in your life that isn’t represented here, please feel free to add it.

Your Book Title – Late But Worth The Wait?

Chapter Titles:

Birth to 5 Years – Mostly An Only Child…until 4 Anyway
Elementary Years – Just A Normal Kid.
Jr. High Years- Meeting My BFF And Nearly Getting Suspended
High School Years – Kicking Ass And The Great Bus Coup of 1992
College Age – Coming Out Of My Shell…Kinda
Present Age – Where I am Today

Dear Mr. Red, Lowered Silverado Driver:

Good morning.  I don’t know you Mr. Red, Lowered Silverado Driver…so I don’t know how much you drive in a week. My weekly work commute is only a little over 100 miles a week. However I do know a little something about merging two lanes into one- as my daily commute requires this on both ends of my drive.  Its much like a zipper being zipped- if you can picture that.  Never do you see, when zipping up your hoodie, one of the zipper teeth running down the edge of the zipper in the emergency lane and then FORCING its way into the zipper at the very end. That being said- the emergency lane is not a “I can pass everyone and force myself in at the light” lane. It’s a lane set up for people who are having valid emergencies- like flat tires. It’s not legal to pass someone on the right, which you did- a whole line of cars because apparently you think you are special and don’t have to merge with all the other cars.  You nearly ran me into the oncoming lane…Jerk. I should have just let you hit me I guess. Thanks. AMY

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Dear Peppy Little Morning Birds:

ARG! Are you freaking kidding me? Why must you sing EVERY MORNING at 4:30am? You, little birds, are the bane of my exisitence right now. You think your damn cheery little songs are so cute and want to share them with the neighborhood. All you make me do is want to strangle your little feathered necks.  At 4:30am I like to be well tucked into my bed and slumbering away…not laying there plotting the demise of two birds (or a hardy eviction notice from our neighborhood). Can’t you at the very least go sing to someone who is normally up at that hour? You are evil little feathered minions and….yeah just go sing somewhere else please! Thanks AMY

Remember when I was recapping the DOVER race early this week and I mentioned off-handedly that I had read Tony’s transcript from the Friday media session and I deemed him “grumpy”? Well my turn to be “grumpy” was this last Thursday.  It was a day long event and I will spare you most of the details but here are some highlights just to give you an idea as to some of the grump-making:

  • Woke up after a full night’s sleep even more tired then when I went to bed. Why did I feel so unrested? I had a night FULL of vivid yet fairly stupid dreams.
  • Someone ate one of my lunches and my yogurts out of the work fridge.
  • I locked myself out of my office. Again.
  • I spilled a nearly full bottle of water all over my desk- including on some paperwork.
  • My keyless entry clicker thing that unlocks and locks my car? Decided not to work temporarily. It’s only a year and a half old or so- seriously no reason to not work.

Anyway I could lengthen the list but that gives you a small snippet into why I happened to be on the grumpy side on Thursday. I am pretty sure if you had run across me out and about on Thursday you would have been able to take just one look at me and know that you should probably just steer clear.  I envision myself looking like a cartoon character with a distinct and pronounced frown and a dark cloud following me and maybe even a little steam coming off my head. But I digress.

Needless to say- someone would probably say I could have used a serious attitude adjustment. And they wouldn’t have been too far from the truth.  And that evening I got that attitude adjustment I needed.  It was two part. Part one was chatting with BFF-M at the end of the day. That is always a nice little pick me up.

The other was from a song. A Shooter Jennings song to be exact.  Now I have to tell you that I really have no experience listening to Shooter Jennings but I recently aquired one of his CDs to review for Amazon.  And it happened to be in the care on the way home and it just happened on Manifesto No. 1. And it was like an instant attitude adjustment. I have never heard the song before but I LOVED it. So here is a live version on Youtube. I hope you like it too.

First we will start with G’s Eclectic MI-5:

1.  A new planet has just been discovered.  And you get to name it.  What name do you choose and why? Well Amy is a good name don’t you think?

2.  What would be your 3 main laws (rules) if you ran your own country? (mine are evidence why I should NOT run a country or probably even a household LOL) Treat others like you want to be treated, Respect Authority, and NASCAR would be the national sport.

3.  What villain from literature or history do you relate to the most?  Why? Kate from Taming of the Shrew.  Because we both have wicked tongues and a rebellious streak a mile long. Although I don’t know that you could call her a villian.

4.  What, if any, is the value of optimism? It’s something I really have to strive for because if I lose my optimism then I just wanna fall into a depression. So I really try to be optimistic…it doesn’t always work because a lot of times the glass looks a lot more empty than it does full.

5.  What annoys you most about technology? That it has turned me into a NOW person. I want to be able to have the world at my fingertips and can get grumpy when I can’t find what I am looking for online.

Bonus -  What is your favorite “special feature” on a DVD? Behind-the-scenes footage

And now for Friday Fill-in #127

1. After work, I am looking forward to going home.

2. My favorite thing for dinner lately has been Fajitas made with leftover steak- quick, easy and delish.

3. Every freaking morning Roxy goes bark! bark! bark!

4. A nice long walk is the best exercise I get.

5. I want to hear some good news.

6. When all is said and done, I want to write a book.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to a nice long walk just me and my ipod, tomorrow my plans include general cleaning and household chores like laundry and Sunday, I want to watch TONY win at LONG POND!!

First The Friday Fill-In #125

1. Moving sucks.

2.The best things in life are free.

3. My best quality is my ability to obsess.

4. Heaven is in the details.

5. In nearly 10 11 years, I have worked for the same company.

6. Reassurance is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to my walk, tomorrow my plans include cleaning and Sunday, I want to watch Tony win the Coca-Cola 600!

And Bill’s Quicky-Roo MI-5

  1. Motorcycle or Jet Ski? Why? Well if I have to pick one I would say motorcycle only because it is something could drive more often.  It would have to be a nice Harley or one of those bitching choppers with the bad-ass paint jobs though! But a jet ski sure sounds like a ton of fun!
  2. Fruit pie or cream pie? Which kind? Why? Hmm I just like pie so it really doesn’t matter…but if I have to pick I guess I would pick fruit pie because there are more combinations and I would be less likely to get sick of one (current favorites of fruit pie are apple and cherry). My favorite pie to make is Buttermilk Pie though.
  3. Book or magazine? How come? Book because there is more to it.  More to digest. I am a reader. I love books. I can not go into a bookstore and leave empty handed.  I have read one book so many times that I can recite the entire first page from memory. Six billion brownie points and my undying respect and love if you can figure out which book it is.
  4. Hot beverage or cool drink? What’s your fav? Overall I tend to drink cold beverages more than warm. I am NOT one of those people who needs coffee (I tend to get my caffeine in chilled form). I usually only pick warm ones in the winter or when I am sick. So definitely cold beverages. I guess my favorites would be water, ice tea and diet coke for the non-alcoholic variety. On the rare ocassion I swill the alcohol? I am a margarita on the rocks kinda girl (none of the frozen stuff for me).
  5. What’s on the grill on Monday–beef, pork, or fowl? What’s the specifics? Beef! Tritip. Maybe some elk sausage if we have any left.  Dad’s grillin’ and I am eating! Oooh and maybe my mom can make that salad with the cornbread in it. I forget what it is called but we don’t eat it that much cuz it is decedent and I LOVE IT!

It is not cheap being a NASCAR fan.  Race tickets, driver memorabilia (especially if your driver changes teams), transportation, hotels etc can all add to the cost of being a fan if you go to a race.  This is not to say it is not possible to be a fan without going to races- but I don’t think any fan will argue with me that going to a track doesn’t enhance the experience of fandom by about a hundred gazillion times.   Case in point: for the race in Las Vegas in February/March- our tickets alone were $450 and yes that is per person. Granted we did get weekend passes and we got them for the Richard Petty Terrace (those terrace seats? They kick ass- great view!) and we splurged and got one day in the Neon Garage (only one day- Friday- which is the cheapest of the three days). And we sprung for preferred parking (probably won’t do that again- it wasn’t really that big of a savings and their signage on how to get there sucked and we ended up driving around in a big circle and we had even been to the speedway before so…not worth it really).

So I thought to myself, is possible to go to a race without dropping $500 (per person) or more for the entire weekend? I found out that the answer is: Yes! I just did it myself. If you read with any regularity you probably know that my friend and I decided, kind of last minute (or it was last minute to us- the obessive trip planners) to make a dash to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) last month to watch the Subway Fresh Fit 500K live and in person.

Part of the reasoning for that quick trip? It had to do with the fact that we found out that some of the tickets at Phoenix were down to $25 dollars each (yes I am that Amy, in the stands in her Tony Stewart gear). Granted these tickets were in the first 8 or so rows- but we were told by someone who had been to Phoenix that you would pretty much have a good view no matter where you sat- so no need to spring for the expensive tickets. I will be the first to admit I was a little unsure sitting as far down as we were sitting (in the AJ Foyt Grandstands in row 8- which because of the stairs was really more like row 4) but I am telling you that we had awesome seats. Our whole experience at PIR was awesome really. The trick here- as I mentioned before is waiting as long as possible to buy your tickets.  We waited until a month before.  You want to wait long enough that some of the better tickets are lowered- but not so long that they might be sold out.

Next comes the hotel- because it was Phoenix and it was about 800 miles one way for me (and 300+ for my friend in vegas) we defintely needed a hotel.  We decided to use hotwire.com to book our room.  We have never used it before- frankly the idea of not knowing exactly which hotel I am staying at BEFORE I PAY scared me so I have never used it before.  But I decided to bite the bullet and try it. We found an awesome hotel at the airport for $50 a nite.  It saved us over 40%! It was a major chain and the hotel was extremely nice!

Those are my two major tricks. Here is how the weekend broke down monetarily (and I rounded up and this would be for me- who lived farther from the track):

Hotel: 50 (per night- there were two of us and we stayed two nights so that’s 50 per person)

Trip Insurance: $4 per person

Gas: 150.00 (rounded up- based on driving 1700 miles round trip in a car getting 25 mpg with gas being 2.20 a gallon- my trip through three states had gas being anywhere from 2.35 to 1.89)

Ticket: 25.00

Track food: 10.00

Track drink: 20.00 (and yes I took in a beverage- but I didn’t want to get dehydrated- it was the desert)

Merchandise: 65 (I bought two hats and a plastic backpack)

Food (travel food off track): 75.00

Splurge of the trip (pit passes): 50.00

For a total of $449.00 a person for the entire race weekend trip. About the same price I paid for just my race tickets for the Vegas race. So not exactly CHEAP but there are a lot of things you could pare down from my list…if you didn’t splurge on the pit pass that knocks 50 bucks off right there.