Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Can you hear me now?

Yesterday was a bit of a struggle with work. New things to learn. First, I needed to get my new email "signature with new logo" attached. An IT guy logged into my work computer and did that. Then I needed to have access to the new phone system. That one is a bit of a challenge. A different IT guy called me and walked me through various steps.

Since I get my work calls through my cell phone, I had to download an app for my phone. And pay for a years subscription. (which I will get reimbursed for). The app I had to pay for comes with a free weeks trial. I then got an email from Apple confirming the subscription and payment method was the last 4 digits of my old card. When I got my new debit card, recently, I did not think about updating it with Apple. I never buy apps, so didn't even think of it needing to be updated there. I went to Apple and updated my payment info, so hopefully, in a week, it knows to charge this new card now and not the old one.

Then I had to open a program on my work desktop via the internet. This is basically our "phone system". It's confusing. It takes up a whole screen to view.  Our old system was a separate program (not a web browser deal) that we could open as kind of a side bar size format and see a vertical list of staff, if they were in/out/vacation/lunch, etc. It was easy to use and you could just leave it open on your desktop to access when needed.

This new system integrates with the app I had to download. It basically has it's own screen for making/taking calls, separate from my cell phones regular calls. A feature this new system has (the old one didn't) is that if I am on a call I received at my work extension and I need to transfer it to a co-worker, I can now do this. I don't know how to do this yet, but I can. LOL.  I also need to have my phone app open to have it working and be able to take calls. We did a couple of test calls. One worked and one didn't, so I'm not feeling confident it actually works.

This morning, with my status set as still "gone for the day" I used my landline and called my direct work line. Got my vociemail. Then I set my status to available and called. Got my voicemail, which was correct, as I had not opened the app on my phone yet.  Opened the app and called and the call came through. Set my cell phone down for a minute, where the phone went to "sleep" or whatever it's screen...and called my direct line. Call went to voicemail.  Wrong. Apparently, the app disconnects once my phone goes to sleep. I figured out all on my own to turn on "enable push notifications". Let my phone go to sleep and tried again. It went to voicemail. But this time I did get a "notification of missed call".  No, I want to be able to answer the call. Grrrr! I was going to email the IT guy, but decided to try calling one more time and it worked. I guess we'll have to see if it works on a regular basis.

I'm sure it's a much better system. It's just new and confusing. Now, if I want to call a co-worker, rather than having to dial their direct line from my cell phone, I can be logged into this desktop webpage, click on the person I want to call and my cell phone will call them. Also, if I have a voicemail I can click on it and send it to my phone and my cell phone will call me and play the voicemail. Plus, now when my cell rings I can tell if a call is for work or not. Most of the calls I get are out of state mfg's calling me, so various area codes. I also get those pesky spam calls, which I end up answering because I don't know if its a work call or not. Now I can ignore those ones coming through.

It sounds like there is some grumbling with those trying to use it, especially the ones that are on the phone a lot. Some headsets/ear pieces work, some don't, the program sometimes freezes up, etc

That being said, from some pics I've seen the new office sure looks nice. Very modern and open. All the cubicle walls are low, like a foot higher than desktop. I'm not really sure I'd like that. I like my privacy LOL. Plus, higher walls cut down on all the noise of people talking on their phones.  The office location is much nicer than previous area. The parking lot/street aren't surrounded by homeless rv's. There is a bike path along a river. Bikes available to ride during lunch. A coffee bar and espresso machine in the kitchen area. If I had still lived back there, my commute to work would have been about 12 miles less each way, saving a bit of time. I'm still very glad I am here at my home office, able to work remotely.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Money items

One of our monthly bills is water/sewer.  Last summer the city raised the rate and we went from about $60/mo to about $72/mo average.  Summer months over $100, with watering our lawn and plants/flowers. When we build our  home we will be on well water and septic system, so I won't have that monthly bill any more. That will save over $1000 a year.

Will the health insurance ever go down some? I'm watching Idaho with interest, as they are soon allowing insurance companies to issue policies that don't follow all the Obamacare guidelines. Supposedly in the next month or so. Interesting to see what rates the plans will be, though an article I read said Blue Cross/Idaho's new plans they are going to offer show them at quite a bit cheaper. Interesting to see if the Fed gov't will do anything about it or let them go ahead with it.

Remember DH's buddy, who's wife keeps her money separate from him (but not his separate from her) and he pays some bills and she pays others? One of his bills is their auto insurance. He told DH he is paying $4500 a YEAR for 3 cars! They must have the highest coverage on each vehicle. None of their 3 cars are new either. Two are older and one is a newer used car they bought last summer. The most I ever paid when we had 3 cars and 3 drivers insured was like $3300 a year. He told DH he can't afford it anymore and had to cut down on their coverage. Well, ya...duh.  We have 2 cars/drivers insured right now. Full coverage on my car (but not at the highest levels or lowest deductible amount) and collision on DH's truck (that sits in the garage 99% of the time anyway).  I pay less than $1000 a year.

We're been really good about not going out to eat lately. It's tempting, especially since I get so darn tired of cooking, and that nice restaurant in the next town over has such good food, but going there is $50. We used to go about once a month, but haven't been for 6 or 7 weeks, since we took our neighbor friends across the street out for a birthday dinner. I shouldn't even talk about it.  The fresh warm french bread and butter is making my mouth water just thinking about it.  I get to make tuna casserole for dinner tonight instead. Oh yay!

I'm saving a few dollars a month by ordering my dog food and treats to be delivered once a month by Plus saves a trip to the feed store in the city. 

I ordered a few food items from yesterday and then looked at to see if prices were still high. It appears (at least for the regular items I used to purchase through them) that they got smart and put their prices back down. I'm sure a lot of people stopped ordering when many of item prices almost doubled! I still see some prices too high, but overall it looks much better.  But, since I started ordering from Target, I'm a bit happier anyway. I get an additional 5% off with my Red Card, shipping is free and takes about 2 days. One order it got here the very next day! Here! In Timbuktu!

Monday, February 26, 2018

If it ain't broke.........

I've been doing my mom's tax return for quite a few years (since my dad passed). Last year, since I have moved, she just mailed me copies of her tax documents. I just use TaxAct or TurboTax. It really never takes me too long to do her return. She has her retirement income/investment account and social security. It's pretty easy, especially with the tax programs.

So, the other day I realized we hadn't talked about her tax return yet, so I mentally reminded myself to ask her next time I talk to her. In the meantime DD told me grandma told her she was going to have her neighbor do her tax return this year. She figured it would be easier than having to send me copies of her documents.  My mom just recently handed over the treasurer job of their homeowners association club to this lady. Apparently she's a retired accountant.

So, my phone rings this morning. It's mom. She had that lady do her taxes and in looking it over (after she submitted it to IRS electronically) she thinks it's wrong. She left off reporting one of the items on her investment/retirement tax forms. She had her boyfriend look it over too, and he agreed. Can she send it all to me now? she needs it fixed. LOL. Of course. LOL. Just send it all to me, including the tax return that was done, and I'll figure it out and have to file an amended return for you. No worries.

Starting the week

It appears the move to the new office and setting up the computer system went smoothly. I honestly figured I would not be able to log in remotely yet this morning, but it works :)  The office is "closed" today, but all the employees are arriving there in a bit and all getting to see the new office for the first time and celebrate. One of the pics a manager shared yesterday was a fridge stocked with some champagne and OJ - ready to celebrate. Then they will get to spend the day getting their desks set up, etc.  The only thing I don't have access to is the new phone system. Our old system had a program on our computers where we could put our status (at lunch, away from desk, etc) and forward calls to our cell phone, etc. I don't have the info/access on how this new system works yet.

We got about 6 inches of snow last night in about 2 hours. We were watching some tv and after about an hour or so looked out the window and had like 5 inches of snow we didn't have before. It sounds like we may get a bit off and on this week, but nothing major. Of course our crappy renter neighbor has to shovel his driveway at 1am. He's so thoughtful of his neighbors sleeping, you know.

I did make a loaf of banana bread yesterday. It always smells so good when it comes out of the oven. And I like not throwing old bananas away.

That's about all I know so far this morning. I'm anxious to see some pics of the new office. I'm sure someone will send me some eventually or share some on our work message app.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Weekend with no plans

I had Friday off, due to the office being shut down and moved. Thursday afternoon was hectic, even for me here remotely. The server was being shut down at 5pm so everyone was trying to get last minute emails, orders, etc done. I had one of our employees call me to ask if there was time to get a sample order in (about 4pm). I said sure. Got it done and 15 minutes later she calls back and says now the customer wants to change the items, she will have to get me info to revise it. I hung about my desk, waiting. They shut down the server at 5:30 (6:30) my time, but she wasn't able to get it to me in time. Not the end of the world by any means, but I'm usually done working at 4:30 my time so it was an extra 2 hours and I finally got to start dinner at 6:30. I just made us a quick meal of scrambled eggs and hashbrowns.  That morning I had decided to skip book club that night due to the weather and roads. Glad I did, because I wouldn't have been able to make it anyway.

FIL called the other night. He got another car....of course it was the one SIL wanted him to get. He seems happy with it. Its the same kind of car he had before, just two years newer, so at least it's a car he's very familiar with driving.

DD's BF texted DH and I yesterday. A picture of the engagement ring he just picked up! So pretty. She will love it.  About 10 more days until he proposes to her :) 

It's been a pretty boring weekend. We were going to go meet with the cabinet lady again on Friday, but she canceled on us. Then we thought about taking a drive to this waterfall place (probably a 1 1/2-2 hour drive) but the road conditions up there looked bad and icy. So, we've just been home all weekend pretty much doing nothing. Today we are supposed to get about 8 inches of snow. I doubt that will happen. The weather reports are usually wrong.

I at least can get back into my work emails. They had the server hooked back up by Friday afternoon. But my workstation is not hooked up, so I can't access my desktop. We have an app we use at work called Slack. A few pictures were sent by management of the move on Friday. But no one else has seen the new office. They all get a big "reveal" Monday morning. One photo was a picture of boxes and boxes of monitors stacked against a wall. At least 50 boxes that I could see.

I also know now why boss asked everyone for favorite things awhile back. A box of goodies showed up at my house on Friday. Our company changed it's logo and it was a bunch of stuff with the new logo on it. Two coffee mugs, an insulated water bottle, a knit winter hat (with warm fleece lining), a baseball cap and some of my favorite candies. I think everyone will get stuff picked out geared toward what they like. I'm sure she picked out the hat since I live in zero degrees, haha. And the water bottle will be good for our hikes.

I'm making banana bread today and waiting for the snow.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The new drone

DH enjoys taking photos and video. Nothing fancy - just with his phone. A couple of months ago he wanted to get some aerial pics/video over our property, so he found a young local guy who has a drone and could come out. It would be $80. DH wanted him to come out several times over the course of our building process to record it. So the kid met DH out there to do a "before".......only as soon as he got his drone up something happened and he crashed it. So, no pics or video.  $80 (or more) times several visits was going to be costly. I told DH he might as well get his own drone, then he'll have the pics and video AND own it!

For our anniversary present last month we bought a drone for him. He had researched them for awhile and decided on the brand he wanted. There is one for about $600 (with all the accessories) and one for $1000. Apparently the main difference in price was due to the $1000 drone having 4k video. Which apparently if you don't have something that plays 4k, what's the point? He doesn't need professional videos. He'd also seen several videos people have done with the $600 one and for what he wants it was fine quality. The battery life is about 5 minutes less on the cheaper one, too, but it comes with 2 batteries.  I also did not want to spend $1000 on something he might crash and destroy! I didn't want to spend $600 either, but oh well.

The drone was $580-$600 on every website I checked. But in my checking prices I did notice that Kohl's sells it, also $600.  I couldn't use any Kohl's coupons towards it (darn!) but I could earn Kohl's cash at the time. $10 per $50 spent, which earned me $120 back in Kohl's cash. I also earned another $30 in Kohl's Yes2You rewards cash, so $150 total. Basically that brought the price down to $450, which I felt was a good deal. I was able to use the $150 Kohls cash for things I needed for clothing for myself and things for the home. I was also supposed to earn 2% Swagbucks, but of course didn't get that, and I'm trying to resolve getting that $12.

He's been practicing with it the past few weeks. Fortunately we live in a rural area, so lots of space to fly it. He's starting out in "beginner mode" and getting the hang of it. When the battery gets low or if it loses its connection with your phone, it automatically comes back to it's starting point, which is cool. He's taken several videos here at our house and several out at the property. He took it out to the property Tuesday because he wanted to capture all the snow we got. He's up high enough with it that you can see the river floating by off to the side of the videos. Yesterday was a blue sky sunny day and I said he should get brave and fly the drone over the river and capture that, especially as the river has ice chunks floating down it.

It was about lunch time when he decided to go and asked me to go with, to keep an eye on where the drone is going, since it's hard for him when he has to look at his phone screen most of the time. I took a lunch hour and we traipsed through the foot of snow on our property to get towards the river bank, so he could start from there. Once he got up high I lost sight of it! I could hear it, but couldn't tell where it was. Eeek! But we kept hearing it, so we knew it was still flying. It was so sunny he was having trouble seeing his screen on his phone and then he realized he lost connection with the drone. Shortly after he said that I could hear the drone coming closer. It was on it's way back to it's starting position. Whew! Each battery only lasts about 12 min or so. He still had battery life left on this first one, so tried again. This time he went and stood in the shade and only watched his screen, while I tried to keep an eye on the drone. But once he went up really high with it I couldn't see it anymore. It's a tiny thing, not much bigger than a cell phone. But he brought it back and all was good. More practice with it under his belt.

On the way to our property we pass a one lane bridge and I said he should try it off of there and video the river, so on our way back we stopped and he used his second battery for that. He ended up walking down to edge of river (it's not as steep there as our property) and I stood up on the bridge to watch. He did really good, even flew it under the bridge a couple of times and over the top of it.

                                       Picture I took, with my phone, standing on the bridge

He's also learning how to use Windows Movie Maker for editing. It's great - it's giving him something to do and keep busy with. I'm loving that. LOL. He's a perfectionist, so he'll spend hours editing the videos and finding songs to put with them.  It was a great purchase, I think. Now - if it will just last long enough through our build, without crashing! LOL

Here's an amazing picture he got yesterday, over the river, next to our property.

I think we live in the absolute perfect place :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Mid week this and that

So, over the weekend we decided to watch that movie I got (free through Verizon rewards) on Vudu. If you recall an earlier post I was pleased that I figured out how to add Vudu onto my Firestick earlier last week. Well, it wouldn't play! Apparently it's in "hdx" format and Firestick doesn't support that, it will only play SD format. So, that was a disappointment. Neither of us want to sit at a computer or tablet and watch it.

Then, while dinner was cooking in the oven last night, I had another idea. Our blu-ray/dvd player has wi-fi and while I haven't used it in quite awhile (since we got the Firestick a few years ago) I thought it had Vudu as one of the apps. Maybe, just maybe, it would play on that? I hooked it back up. It's not plugged in because our tv only has two USB slots - one has the Firestick in it and one for satellite box. I only plug it in if we want to watch a dvd. It took a few tries, for some reason, to get the internet to work, but once it connected there was Vudu as an option. I logged into my Vudu account, clicked play on the movie and YAY!! I honestly did not expect it to work. That blu-ray player is pretty old. It worked. We were able to watch "Only The Brave" last night. A really good movie, but very sad, of course.

Tomorrow night is a book club meeting. From the emails, it appears only about 4 or 5 are going. I think I'll be skipping this one. We had a foot or more of snow over the weekend and the meeting is at a house about 16 miles from me, in an area that usually gets more snow then we do. Plus I'd be driving home in the dark on snowy roads and almost zero temps, which I don't want to do. I would be ok with driving if it was during the day. I didn't really enjoy or even finish the book anyway. It was a long book and I had to return the e-book to library before I could finish it and still haven't gotten to borrow it again, and I already saw the tv version of it.

I do not have to work this Friday. The office is closed, due to the move and no server access will be available until Monday morning, so I won't even be able to log in remotely and work. We are going to use the day to go visit the cabinet lady again. We made some changes to the layout of our kitchen. The plan originally had two islands. A center one with stove top and an outer island with sink and outside barstool seating. We decided to just go with one island. That should make the flow of working in the kitchen much better and save some money, too. We will probably also go into the city and get another flooring quote with the place our builder recommended would probably be cheaper. If time allows, we'd also like to go visit another granite place.

DH is kind of in a crabby mood this morning. I've got too much work to do (year end/tax stuff for both jobs) to be bothered with that today! Oh well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The ideal work culture

I finally got through the work questionnaire yesterday. Ugh. Each question, requiring 4-16 sentences was worse than the prior question LOL.  I ended up googling "work culture" to try and get an idea of what exactly that means. Are they talking about pay and benefits, or the "fuzzy warm feelings" from a good environment? It's kind of both. Most of the articles I could find used some of the giants in excellent work culture as an example, working for Google. The perks seem to be an important part of work culture, as well as attitudes towards things like work life balance, family leave, etc.

Hmm...well, I think overall we have a darn good work culture. I guess the only thing I think that could make it where I'd want to get up two hours early and can't wait to get to work would be regular little perks. Even better if they were geared more personally towards the individual.  That could be why a few weeks ago an email went out to all employees asking us to answer the list given of our personal favorite things.

I sent my boss an email back that the link I was finally given worked to do the final questionnaire and I would get it finished. I told her I had mentioned to my DD I was working on this and trying to figure out answers and cut and pasted my DD's reply to me:

Your work culture is like the coolest environment ever so what the heck are people complaining about. Half days too short? Jeans too comfy?!

My boss replied back: 

LOL…. I really needed that.     Thank you so much 😊    XOXO  to  you both!

From the couple of sneak peaks I've gotten of our new's going to be awesome. Very hip with a Pottery Barn feel, I think. Lot's of wood. That's where a lot of the furniture was purchased. I can't wait to see it. Sounds like lots of new technology to use, too. I'm still waiting for my new office chair, LOL. I'm sure it will get sent to me sometime soon, as they obviously have the furniture by this weekend.

When the office culture is already a great one, I'm not really sure what could improve it, other than even more perks. Back in 2007-2009 our bonus program was 20% of our salary and paid out monthly, if we hit our sales goal each month (which we always did). I would like to see that brought back. Right now we are at 10% and it's paid out twice a year.  Making sure we make those sales goals is really more important to me than little perks at the office, in all honesty. But, if the management wants to keep improving, there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

I think they are just experiencing some growing pains related to adding more employees in the past couple of years, along with a bit of turnover (not much at all). Our departments are so intertwined in accomplishing our tasks, that I think they are having some issues all being on the same page.

Monday, February 19, 2018

How would you answer?

My company is doing a "culture" re-evaluation type of thing. We've been required to answer several questionnaires. The first two being multiple choice type.  This last one is a bit more difficult, in that it wants questions answered in sentences/paragraph style. Here's the first question and I'm already stumped!
If you could describe a culture where everyone involved felt so excited, energized, and passionate about coming to work and doing their jobs that they woke up two hours early every morning and could hardly wait to get to work, what would that look like to you?

My DD and I had a humorous message exchange about it.

DD: Breakfast made and ready at desk. Personal puppy to play with all day. Ability to then leave 2 hrs earlier. Lol

ME:  HAHAHA! that's exactly what I was thinking......and Starbucks LOL

DD:  Everyone stays silent for the first 4 hours. No one is allowed to answer the phones. Personal back massager. And little chocolates on the keyboard.

ME:  a chauffeur to the office

Kidding aside, how does one even realistically answer this and sound serious? I don't even know what to say.