Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting old...

I had a pleasant 30th birthday despite not being very excited about the occasion. I spent the bulk of the day at work and that was uneventful. However it was much better than last year when I had to spend the day training replacement workers. That was probably actually my worst birthday ever.

Katie and I had a nice dinner at the Bitter Creek Ale House. I got the stout battered trout and chips which were excellent. In addition, I chugged a couple of glasses of my new favorite beer, the nitrogen charged Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I also tried the Dogfather and Black Butte XX Porter, neither of which were as good but still worthy.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes and gifts!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Alert the media! It's Katie's first blog post!

So, now that this blog has aged like a fine wine, I figured it was time for me to actually post on here. Zach has been amazing at keeping everyone in the loop, muuuuuuch better than I could ever do (obviously!). Given that my work environment is currently in in state of upheaval, I thought that would make an exciting first post!
So, here we go! I apologize in advance for the length & the rambling tone!

Zach mentioned in a previous post that all of the temporary people in my department were being let go, for cost-cutting reasons, and that by the end of February, all temps employed by all NYK offices in North American would be gone. We just found out on Monday that the final day had been pushed up, and that all temps will in fact be gone by this Friday! This will be a huge blow to our department, since it's basically 50% temps, 50% full time Monday morning, 8 people will be doing the work of 16. The idea of this is a tiny bit more manageable right now, given the fact that the shipping industry is quite slow, and our workload has decreased considerably over the last couple of months, but when the volume picks up again, this could prove problematic!

As background, and in seemingly unrelated news, our department has had 5 extra bodies helping us with our workload since October, in the form of NYK employees from our office in Manila, Phillipines. When they arrived, we were simply told that they would be helping us with production, since, at the time, we were slammed with work, and it was cheaper to bring employees from overseas to stay in hotels than it was to hire more temps locally. More on this development shortly...

Yesterday (Tuesday) the full-timers were pulled into a meeting with our management team & their boss. We were told that, due to the state of the economy, NYK would be outsourcing the documentation process (document creation & rate application) to the Manila Documentation team...some of whom have been helping us out since October. Additionally, the Regional Documentation offices in Chicago & Vancouver will be closing in May, leaving the Boise Documentation center (or centre, for our Canadian readers!) and the Toronto Documentation centre as the only Doc centers in North America. Apparently NYK is the last carrier (shipping company) to outsource the Documentation aspect of the process. Our job descriptions will be changing completely, and my understanding is that our main purpose will be liasing between the customers and the Manila Doc team.

So, the times, they are a-changing! This is the 2nd job I have had where my job has been outsources (when we lived in Tumwater, the medical billing company I worked for outsourced my job to India). I have definitely been lucky, since I haven't actually lost my job either time, I've just been "repositioned" to something different. In this particular situation, the outsourcers are at least of the same company, and are used to working with the same programs and procedures...hopefully this will make the transition a little smoother than Zach's experience with Micron.

I have yet to be told exactly what my new position will be, and will update when I find out. It's been a crazy couple of days, and I'm sure the next couple of months will be interesting (to say the least), but I'm just glad to be able to say that I have a job. In this economy, that's definitely something to be very thankful for! As Zach said, when I told him of the latest developments, "I guess we're the new American model - a two income household with both jobs having been outsourced in the span of a year". Sad but true...and like I said, at least we've both been lucky enough to keep our jobs (or find new, better ones, in Zach's case).

Well, after that lovely, uplifting blog post, I'm sure you'd all like me to never post again! My apologies for the length of the post...I'm not known for my conciseness! I will try very hard to be a more active blogger & help keep everyone informed.

I think that's about all the news to report from here!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Squaw Butte Hike

The weather was supposed to be decent this weekend so I figured I would try to go on a solo hike somewhere close to home. I settled on Squaw Butte, a peak I climbed in 2003. I had never hiked its east side, so this choice even allowed seeing some new terrain. Of course I didn't read the weather reports well enough because on the drive over there it became apparent the peak was shrouded in fog. I didn't bring a map either because I figured I could see the peak from the road and easily find my way. Fortunately someone else was hiking the peak that day also, so I parked by his rig and just started hiking uphill.

From the drive over, it seemed clear that I would probably break out of the fog once I got high enough. Sure enough, that's what happened (right as I was starting to wonder if I was anywhere near the peak...). I ascended the southeast rib, the intended route which is popular due to class 3 rock climbing options it provides. I generally avoided the rock, though it was solid and made the route a little less boring. The entire ascent was uneventful, although up high it was rather slippery because above the clouds it was warm and the melting snow had turned much of the ground into mud.

The lookout on Squaw Butte isn't actually the highest point. The highest point (about 20' higher) is over two miles away on the ridge. Because I got such a late start (leaving the vehicle at about 11:40am) going over there was out of the question. I descended via a different ridge which was both less slippery and less rocky than the one used for ascent.

Despite being good exercise, this wasn't a very rewarding hike because much of the ground was muddy, the terrain was totally torn up by cow grazing, and the peak itself is covered in radio towers. I'm probably developing brain cancer as we speak!

Trip stats: 4.1 miles, 4.5 hours, 2200' gain

Squaw Butte Pictures!