Well, I made it home from the Olympic Trials in Denver, and back to the grind. Hard to believe there are only 2 weeks left in the season. Once again, the season flies by and spring should be near. Someone tell the weather that. Fortunately, my teams managed to make the playoffs in both the leagues I play in. We've made it to the semi-finals of the B division on Thursday night, and, well, we're the second-from-the-last seed in the Friday B division, but we have high hopes... to be out early and done. :) What will I do when the season ends? I'll have so much free time.
The Huskies finally made it back to the NCAA Tournament. We're a #4 seed in the West Region, but somehow must have drawn the ire of the selection committee with our matchups. Thursday we kick it off against Mississippi State, who made the tourney by knocking off Tennessee to win the SEC Championship. The Dawgs are 5.5-point favorites as far as the Vegas oddsmakers are concerned, but somehow I think this will be one crazy battle. If we get past the Bulldogs, we'll likely match up against the 5th seeded Purdue, followed by the potential rematch with top-seeded UConn... again. I predict that if the Dawgs can make it past Miss St. tomorrow, they'll clear all the way to the Elite 8. I'm not exactly certain how a potential matchup with #2 Memphis would work out though, but at that point, I won't care. Tomorrow's game is key... I'll be taking a late (and slightly long) lunch for the 2pm game. :)
In these difficult economic times, I have managed to find a fool-proof way to keep costs down. Of course, I stumbled onto this without realizing it when I opened my natural gas bill to find that over the past month I used exactly zero cubic feet of gas. A few interesting things with this... I still pay just over $10 for the privilege of having gas hooked up to my house. Furthermore, I am impressed by the fiery orange glow my fireplace provides when there's apparently no gas flowing into it. Doing a bit of investigation on my own, it's apparent that the dials on the gas meter haven't moved since sometime around the end of January. Sadly, I'm too honest of a person and rather than letting PSE finally figure this out on their own, I called them up. Of course, you get their customer service people who incredulously assume that you're calling up to complain about something and put up their rough exterior. I simply pointed out that "I believe my gas bill is too low." She looked up my account, and began with, "Well sir, it appears in the last month you used... uh... I see, let me transfer you to our meter department." They were of course closed for the evening, and I'll await a call back from them today. Personally, I'm in no hurry for them to fix it at this point, but I have done my duty to promptly inform them of the situation. I am however curious if they will attempt to estimate my usage and backcharge me for the prior month. More to come on that...
Work in the Down Economy
My company continues to coast along... just barely. Reducing fixed costs and financial liabilities seems to be the chief goal, in an effort to reduce or eliminate the need to lay off employees. As we recall back to December, we had a mandatory office shutdown for 1 week between Christmas and New Year's, requiring every employee to take 4 days of paid vacation, in an effort to reduce vacation balances and their associated financial liabilities on the books. Well, yesterday we were informed that in this and next quarter each we will have additional 1-week shutdowns. This time they are a bit more flexible, however, in that in lieu of actually taking the designated shutdown weeks, we have the option of simply using 5 vacation days anytime during the quarter and designating that as our "personal shutdown". (my words, not theirs) As it works out, this won't affect me too much, as I nearly had enough vacation already planned for the next 6 months, with a few days planned in April, and a week in Orlando planned for August. Others I work with are hit a bit harder, as some of them had extended multi-week vacations planned for the summer, and this cannibalization of vacation by the company is wrecking havoc on their schedules. I suspect they'll work something out, but it's a dangerous trend messing with employees' hard-earned vacation time. As it is now, those employees who earn 3 weeks of vacation annually have basically just been told (along with last December) when they must take all their vacation. We'll see how it ends up.
in on the P-I (website)
I leave with just a brief memory of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I've actually always been a Seattle Times reader myself, but the loss of a Seattle icon is always disappointing. Strangely enough, my fondest memory of the P-I is the plexiglass paperweight (I guess that's what I'll call it) that my grandpa made and enclosed the P-I headline and masthead from the day I was born. I've wondered where that is... I know I don't have it anymore, so I presume it's in some box or desk drawer at my parents' house. On the one bright side, the Times has assumed a few syndicated bits from the former print P-I, including some of the best comics around.