Furlough Stories

Well there goes my security clearance, thanks!

Air traffic control trainees were furloughed, but we get to go back to work. The lady who called me today said we would be re-funded by then and that someone would be in touch with me to provide further details.

I just saw this- GOG is offering free games to the folks who got furloughed- so you can play something less aggravating than DOTA ^_^.

I think this is a conspiracy. This has got to be a conspiracy, right?

The republicans are withholding fussing and shutting down the governement because they don’t want to fund “Obamacare”. In the process they have dragged the stock market down 3-10%, depending on sector.

Gee, sure seems like a good time to short sell first then buy a lot of stock of you are a rich Republican. I’m not even in this conspiracy and I’m buying as much GOOG, NFLX and SPY (S&P Index fund) I can. All of those stocks/funds are down over 5% this week. When this ends they will certainly rally as their fundamentals are good. The SP500 in particular was doing awesome this year.

I mean, really? One week losses on a whole year’s gain? What a time to buy. It’s almost like they set it up this way.

Also, when this thing is over, remember to be positioned to short sell any publicly traded, large health insurance stocks. They will take a small hit the first week too. Then recover. The market is a crowd of morons.

This is like playing real life GTA V where the Republicans are the assassins. Profit off of chaos caused by a known player.

Given that we have some Republican congressmen outright saying “maybe defaulting wouldn’t be so bad,” I’m not sure that buying stocks right now is the smart move. You’re operating under the assumption no one wants armageddon, so things will recover as soon as we pull up from the dive, but the co-pilot is insisting that hitting the ground will be OK.

True. If that actually happens stocks wont matter anyway. We’ll all be cheap labor for the new Chinese consumption market.

Tin Wisdom’s Unwelcome Vacation Journal: Day 7

Wednesday, October 9. Nothing major to report today in terms of furlough-related news. I guess there is a cautious optimism about the “talks”, but to me they seem more focused on the debt ceiling than the Shutdown. I have dubious hope. I guess I’m just generally an optimistic pessimist.

One of the guys I oversee at work called me for some assistance/advice. He’s out of vacation tomorrow and he’s really freaked out about the possibility of not being able to pay his mortgage. I talked him down off the ledge a bit (at least I hope so… my “people skills” are not exactly legendary); many of the banks around here are cutting deals with government workers to skip payments on mortgages and cars, and I’m hoping that this extends to contractors as well. I have to assume that the banks aren’t stupid (2008 notwithstanding) and that they would rather forgive a late payment than go through expensive legal crap when they know the guy is good for the money. If this goes on for another five weeks I’ll be in the same boat.

The Wife dispatched me on a mission today – my widowed mother-in-law had a number of handyman-like things she needed done that would have been too difficult or expensive for her to take care of on her own.

Actually, that’s decent furlough-related point: my mother-in-law’s late husband was an Air Force officer, and he arranged things pretty well for her before he died about a decade back. She’s got his military pension as well as a federal pension from an FAA gig he did as a second career. These two income streams plus his insurance payout has allowed her to live… if not comfortably, then at least not with the specter of pennilessness hanging over her. But of course all of her expected payments will either be absent or late this month – Social Security, Air Force pension, government service pension. She’ll be fine, but she’ll probably have to dig into her market accounts to get enough cash to make her house payments… and with the market down, she’ll lose out on more money than she should have.

Anyway, I spent most of the day hiking out there and back. I power-washed her front walk which was covered with mold, bird crap and some old stains. I also did some (literal) heavy lifting around the house, and I repaired an outdoor water line that had burst last winter. I enjoyed the last part – sweating copper lines together is fun. Perhaps I’ll consider a second career as a plumber. Perhaps I’ll consider it pretty soon.

No lunchtime furlough DOTA due to my MIL-helping, and the evening was spent helping my eldest daughter on a history essay, so no evening gaming either. Still hacking my way through the audiobook version of American Elsewhere; it’s good but not excellent.

Tin Wisdom’s Unwelcome Vacation Journal: Day 10

Thursday, October 10. I had been numbering these entries according to the number of vacation days that I’ve had to burn due to this congressional irresponsibility, so today would be Day 8. But the news media has been selling it as the number of days since the shutdown started and since Monday is available as a “floating” holiday for me, I figured the whole thing was just requiring too much math on my part, so I will go with the common nomenclature from here on out.

There is a low-pressure zone that is sitting immobile over the Washington DC area, making everything muddy and miserable; it’s not expected to move until after the weekend. Also, the weather is crappy.

More of the same today. Lunchtime furlough DOTA. Some Eador: Masters of the Broken World.

I misplaced my venerable iPod Nano that I use to listen to my audiobooks, so I was forced to do chores without listening to my book. Most annoying.

Today was all about steam-cleaning. See, it’s raining and muddy and the dog’s massive, furry paws bring in water and mud every few minutes. The logical thing to do would be to wait for a few days until it’s dry and then steam-clean the carpets, but The Wife’s friends are coming into town, so I am waging a losing war against the mud.

Can I make that furlough-related? Eh, I could go for the mud metaphor again, but let’s just do some anecdotes: it’s my wife’s 25-year high school reunion this weekend. Her graduating class was 1008 strong – at the time, it was the largest single graduating class in Virginia history from a single school.

So this should be a pretty big deal for the local businesses – lots of folks and maybe their families coming into town; hotel reservations; dinners; tours; you name it. Well, not so much. Since the Shutdown, the vast, VAST majority of the attendees have pulled out. If DC is shut down and you can’t bring your kids to see the Air & Space Museum, why the hell would you fly them to the Capitol just to sit in a hotel room all weekend? And for those still living in the area (like us), chances are that you are not working at the moment; the $100 per-person cost of the reunion dinner (plus drinks) starts to look a little steep when your bank account isn’t going to be re-filled on your next payday.

At last count, there were 30 people still coming. That’s less than 3% of the graduating class.

But, The Wife’s friends are 10% of that 3%, so I am tasked with getting the house in order, and that means steam-cleaning and giving the dog dirty looks whenever she comes inside.

Just found this thread. Thanks for sharing and best of luck. Sounds like you are coping with it the best you can. As a parent, I feel your loss of vacation keenly.

Tin Wisdom’s Unwelcome Vacation Journal: Day 11.

Friday, October 11. Not much furlough-related to report. Lunchtime furlough DOTA has become a bit of a fixture now… so much so that some of my other buddies who are still employed but work from home have carved out a little time each day to play. Mystifying to me, but whatever.

On the home-front, today was spent in a haze of cleaning: The Wife’s old friends arrived and she wanted everything spotless. It poured down rain all day (and I mean that literally – I was looking for a break in the rain to take the dog for a walk and it didn’t come until about 9:30 at night), and the humidity and mud conspired against me, mocking my ability to do laundry, mop and steam-clean. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a house-husband, The Wife’s opinion notwithstanding.

In between chores, I obsessively refreshed Google News to see if there was any progress on the negotiations. The day ended with nothing concrete, and I gather that it’ll be Tuesday at a minimum before congress is even in session to consider a bill. These guys really suck.

It’ll be interesting to see if there are any signs of voter discontent next month here in Virginia. It’s an off-year, but Virginia is weird and there are local elections for the Virginia House of Delegates and the governorship. I don’t think the Republican candidate for Virginia’s governor had a ghost of a chance even before this mess, but I kind of suspect that the GOP will see their majority in the Virginia House significantly eroded over this nonsense.

Tin, still no calls about coming back yet?

I just got an email. We’re funded but they can only pay for 1/2 of our lodging expenses. Oh well, still better than nothing. I have to redo a ton of testing here pretty soon, and I’m not looking forward to it, as it takes all day. Then when I’m done, I get to go through a high-pressure scenario…blegh! : )

No, not for me. I’m a program manager, and the projects I oversee right now are all forward-facing… meaning we’re building stuff for future use. It’d be tough to label that as “Essential for the continued safety of the American people.”

Oh, I have some half dozen applications in my area of responsibility that are operational right now… but the damnedest thing: apparently we actually built them well, because they seem to be humming right along. If some of my stinking programmers had just cut some corners, maybe they would have failed by now and I could have been called in for a day or two to lead some forensics efforts. But no.

No entry for Monday, I’m afraid: it was a Federal Holiday that my company gives us, so technically it wasn’t an Unwelcome Vacation Day. Plus, little of note happened. I’ll have a decent one for today though.

Well that really sucks. : ( They’re trying to integrate us now rather than later, simply because of the ATC demands and hiring schedule that are secondary to the Reagan firings in the 80s.

When I read that I thought you meant catching up on your Steam game backlog, lol. I guess part of it is we never do steam cleaning since we don’t have any carpet left in the house.

Good luck at the reunion. I really wish I went to mine which would have been 3 years ago, but it always seems like something comes up and this time I believe I was behind on a work project and couldn’t travel. 1008 in a class, though, eh? That is quite a bit. I thought ours was fairly large and it was about 520 or so.

Tin Wisdom’s Unwelcome Vacation Journal: Day 15

Tuesday, October 15. So I didn’t write one of these up on Monday since it was a federal holiday that my company observes (or at least the company gives us a “floater” that is semi-scheduled for Columbus Day). I didn’t do much of anything furlough-related Monday since the kids and wife had the day off too.

Tuesday, however, was yet another shutdown/furlough day for me and I had a number of job-related things going on.

First, several of the people in my program are not with my company, but as the program manager I am often called by their companies to give input into their yearly assessments and I got one of those calls. Obviously I won’t go into the discussion, but the lady calling me was actually at the government site since she had been deemed “essential personnel”. She described the place as a virtual tomb where pretty much nothing was getting done – there was no one available to initiate anything and those who were there had their hands full just keeping the lights on. I guess that’s what is supposed to be happening, but it depressed me to hear it.

The second thing was even more dispiriting. It’s the fifteenth, and for my company that means it is timesheet day. I’d been avoiding filling it out in the hope that maybe this insanity would end and I could put in some 12-hour days to offset the vacation time. No luck, obviously, so my timesheet was 80 hours of vacation time and eight of “floating holiday”. That’s less than half my accrued vacation time, so I am in no danger of not being paid this month even if this nonsense goes on through November. Still, it stings.

The far worse duty was going through and “approving” the timesheets of others in my firm. A couple were able to burn two weeks of vacation like I was, but most did not have that much built up and there were a lot who had to charge the better part of a week to “LWOP”… that is, Leave Without Pay.

Now, these are civilian contractors on hourly contracts with various agencies – that means that the bill that congress passed the other week that guarantees back-pay for government employees does not apply to them/us. They are, for all intents and purposes, unemployed. A fair number of them are pretty young guys with little in the way or savings, and a couple of them asked me about how they could go about applying for unemployment benefits. Answer: it’s complex and annoying and you can’t do it until you’ve gone a full week without a paycheck.

And as I understand it (I might be wrong about the date), today would also have been payday for the government folks. They ARE guaranteed their pay eventually, but they’ll go with no paycheck (and thus no money in the bank) until congress turns the spigot back on.

The whole thing left me feeling depressed and angry. Put that on top of the annoyance I felt while reading a bunch of articles on the House GOP’s impotent efforts to actually come up with a cynical “solution” to this mess while trying to wring some Obamacare-related concessions out of the White House, and you end up with Tin Wisdom in a simmering rage most of the day.

I seemed to be incapable of really accomplishing anything other than those timesheet-related tasks… which really shouldn’t have taken up much more than a couple hours of time. Oh, I did laundry and actually managed to wash the (filthy) dog, but I came back from coaching my youngest’s volleyball team to find Ms. Wisdom cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming. This made me feel terrible since she had to work late to start with – if I can’t even keep the house clean, what the hell am I doing with my day?

Not playing video games, at least for the most part. The only thing I really did was lunchtime furlough DOTA2 with my similarly-idled buddies. I think I booted up Eador once. I listened to more of American Elsewhere as I folded clothes.

[Edit: moved my outburst to P&R where it belongs. Sorry.]

Tin Wisdom’s Unwelcome Vacation Journal: Day 16

Wednesday, October 16. Obviously I am writing this on Thursday, so today’s entry is colored a bit by the fact that the Shutdown is actually over. That said, I’ll try and give my honest impressions of the day in general.

I spent most of Wednesday feeling sick. Nausea, headache, cramps, and… oh, let’s call it “intestinal distress”. Even at the time I recognized that I wasn’t actually ill, but rather stressed out over a shitty Tuesday. I get that way sometimes if I am forced into inaction – I sit around and stew, working myself into “intestinal distress”. So Wednesday was spent feeling generally shitty and reading the news, which of course was pretty optimistic and good.

Feeling like it was the last day I would have “free”, I spent much of the day running errands. I picked up my youngest daughter’s bike from the show where it was in for some medium-repair work. This was key, since as you may have gathered, we’re big proponents of cycling rather than driving here, and the youngest was borrowing her older sister’s bike while the latter is still hobbling around on her sprained ankle. I also went food shopping, got a haircut, etc.

In the evening after dinner, I dragged the family off to a picture studio to get a family portrait done. My parents have been after me to do this for a couple years now, and I decided it was high time. I also wanted to get some of those photo holiday cards done this year since I appear to be the last person in North America that still sends out plain, store-bought cards. It’s been so long since I have gotten a professional portrait done that I was utterly unprepared for the speed of modern digital printing. We actually went home with all the photos and the holiday cards… I had planned for this session in October because I figured it would take six to eight weeks to get the cards back from the printers. I’m old.

Arriving home, I found that the Shutdown was over. Hurrah!

So a total of twelve or thirteen days of unplanned vacation. This pretty much means that I won’t be able to take off any time over the Holidays like I usually do… although I have three weeks left in my “account”, I like to have at least a week’s worth to use as sick time, and of course the bill they passed last night means that come mid-January there is a good chance we’ll be in the same boat again, so I definitely want to have three or four weeks saved up again.

Postscript: Unwelcome Vacation Day 17.

Even though the government is back up, I am actually still stuck at home. I gather that the agency that I support wants the government folks to come back in and get the house in order before calling in the contractors. That’s understandable, but what’s going to happen in my office is the government lead is going to call me and ask what should be done before she can call in the contractors. And I won’t be there, obviously. Vicious circle.

I suspect I’ll be back in by noon.