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The Times Have Changed – A Belated Thanks May 30, 2011

Posted by Bill in atheism, Family Values, Personal, Uncategorized.
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I am rather behind the times in writing this.  But then that is hardly surprising.  Normal day to day living can put a person behind on so many things – from the mundane such as yard work and learning Spanish to the more important such as telling loved ones that they are loved. 

This falling behind the times is even more pronounced when the times themselves are changing drastically.  Even if those changes are good and wonderful as well as scary and concerning. 

This is my attempt to catch up on one of the more important items that I am behind on – about six months behind in fact. 

I was updating my profile today to reflect some changes that occurred over seven months ago.  A mundane update.  However in starting this I realized that I really needed to do something more.   This change demanded something be done more important than just updating my profile.   

This is the something more.

In my blog profile I mentioned working as Operations Manager at a production facility.  I also made it clear that while it brought in some good money it was not one of my passions.   It was, however, OK and I didn’t hate it.  I did well, receiving good evaluations, promotions, nice raises, and had the respect of my people and peers. 

Things changed though a few years ago when our then Plant Manager left to take a new position with another company.  I was made interim Plant Manager and asked if I wanted to be among those considered for the position.  Given my lack of passion for it, the fact that I already was working more hours than I really cared for, and the fact that I did not wish to travel as much as the position would require – I declined and thanked them for seriously considering me.

After about four months of being interim Plant Manager they hired someone to take the position permanently.  Two months later I was beginning to regret my decision not to go for it.  As were many at the plant. 

I will not go into the details here other than to say that the man had good and innovative ideas, was very knowledgeable about the budgetary details and processes so important for Plant Managers, had extensive experience in setting up data bases that were useful in tracking the Plant’s process.  However his people skills and management style were abysmal.  He made the workplace very difficult to work for and, for me, turned what was a tolerable situation into one that was a nightmare.

He tended to accuse first and if you successfully defended yourself there was no apology.  He came across as abrasive, so much so that I had two or my people within the space of a month burst into tears under his questioning – and he wasn’t even in full chew out mode.  He either did not know or did not care to compliment people on what was done right, only chew on them.   He also was a poor communicator on his expectations and although he made the right noises about being willing to help if asked, his help was not really helpful.   

However, despite these flaws, he did make sure that the Plant was profitable and turned out a quality product.  As long as he did that no one at our corporate office was going to do anything about the manner in which he accomplished this. 

Given our financial situation at the time I did not feel that I could just quit without having another job with comparable pay in the hand.  And it needed to be in the area since Dindy had a nice job making the same amount of money I was.   I was looking but not having much luck in finding anything. 

So often the word “change” is a scary word.  Something to be avoided if at all possible.  Many, if not most, people usually use the word change in reference to bad things happening – such as my new Plant Manager.  However something happened then that proved that change can also be a good thing.

My wife changed jobs. 

Dindy had been looking for a few years for a different position in her chosen career.  Given what we were both making she could afford to be patient and she did like both her work and her employer.  Her patient looking paid off.  She found her dream job. 

It was in her career field, it was a promotion, the work atmosphere was great, the job more challenging and responsible – in short it was the best job she could imagine.  And what was even better, in terms of my situation, she was going to get a substantial raise.  One that would allow us to again start taking vacations to spots further away than the Texas coast or the Oklahoma parks.  One that would allow us to make some needed repairs on the house and even to improve it.  One that would allow us to build up our very low savings account.  One that would allow us to make investments and really start saving and preparing for a possible early retirement. 

Substantial enough where I no longer had to worry about getting a position that matched my current salary.   That was wonderful enough for me in and of itself. 

However the changes were not finished yet. 

In the middle of October 2010 I had taken two days off for a four day weekend.  I did so because I was about to lose a key person for maternity leave and I would have to help fill in and do a substantial amount of her work since we had no substitute who could do all of her functions.  Given that I wanted a few days off before starting on 70 hour weeks. 

I received a call from my work on my first day off, Thursday.  They told me that I needed to come in Friday because my worker was going to be starting maternity leave then instead of the scheduled Monday.  I knew that this might happen, so while disappointed was not surprised.  What did surprise me was the fact that my Plant Manager told me this came about because of my bad management decisions and then also questioned my ethics, implying that I had been hiding some information.   I was not given specifics on the phone.

After hanging up I spent a few moments ranting and raving to myself.   And cussing my Plant Manager.  After calming down a bit I decided that I needed to go talk to him and find out what management “mistakes” I had made and what information had I hidden.  First though I talked to Dindy.  Well, actually I ranted for a bit more.

I had made mistakes before – who hasn’t.  Although in this particular case I could not see that I did make any mistakes.  But I had never – never – never – had my integrity questioned by any Plant Manager (and I had been under three others before the current one) nor at any of my other jobs.  

After I had started to calm down enough where I felt I could go talk calmly with my Plant Manager Dindy then surprised me.  She told me to quit. 

She told me to quit even though I had no job lined up or even one on the horizon.

She told me to quit even though we had not had a good vacation in years.

She told me to quit even though we had not built up our savings or even started on our investments for retirement.

She told me to quit even though we had not done any of the repairs or improvements on the house. 

I was dumbfounded.  Delighted.  And scared.  We talked for quite a while about this.  She told me that she wanted me to enjoy myself again.   She told me that I had been difficult to live with – moody, short tempered, and not laughing as much as I used to – ever since this new Plant Manager had come on board.  She told me she was greatly concerned about my health and happiness.  She told me that my happiness and our happiness together mattered more than the money. 

She told me that she wanted me to look and pick a new career that I would enjoy and not worry about the money. 

After a great deal of assurances from her that she meant this I hung up and went to talk with my Plant Manager.  I did not go intending to quit.  I did go though to find out what he thought I had done wrong and why he was questioning my integrity.  And if I did not agree with the answers, then I would quit.  If we could work it out, then I would stay.

Needless to say I did not agree with his answers.  And so, when he told me I had to make a decision in regards to continuing to carry on the conversation we were having and making things more difficult for me or to just shut up and just deal with it I made a decision that he did not expect.  I quit my job of 15 years on the spot. 

Now I have decided, for various reasons, to take up a new career in medical technology – specifically radiology.  Although it will pay about half of what I used to earn once I attain my degree (in a couple of years) it will be enough.  And it will provide me much more satisfying career than the one I had.    

I have completed my first semester at TCC (all A’s – hoozah!) and as I write this am getting ready to start my first summer semester. 

Dindy’s salary is large enough to keep us going, along with whatever I bring in from a part time job.  Our house still needs repair.  I have a car with about 120,000 miles on it.  We will not be taking any long, exotic vacations.  We will not be retiring early (although we will not have to work beyond attaining our social security either). 

I am though much more relaxed and happier now.  Dindy and my daughters find me to be more fun to be with than I was before.  My life is not centered around my work and how to deal with the problems therein – problems made worse by having the most difficult boss I have ever had in 40 years of working. 

Both Dindy and I account this trade off a total win for ourselves. 

It is interesting that we are told that we live in a materialistic society.  To a great extent that is true.  Further, one of the charges that is often leveled against atheists by believers is that we are materialists and value only the material things of the world. 

This is further evidence, if more is needed, that many theists really do not understand atheism at all.  Humans are humans whether atheist, theist, or pantheist.  We share the same needs and desires, many of the most important of which – personal connections and satisfaction – go far beyond just the material.

Dindy’s support for me is just one example of this truth.  And one that I am and will be forever grateful for.

Thank you Beautiful. 

 

How Do I Love Thee? September 28, 2009

Posted by Dindy in health, Personal.
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Would I be okay if my husband had an affair with someone else? Most definitely not! That’s the quick, easy answer, however, it appears that things are not always that easy.

In the movie Away from Her, Julie Christie plays an Alzheimers patient who falls in love with another patient. Her grief stricken husband tries to reunite them after her new beau is taken away.

To be honest, I don’t know how well I would be able to deal with it if Bill were to become ill with Alzheimers or dementia and were then to find comfort with another woman. Rationally, I understand that it would be part of the disease process and that it would not be a rejection of me or of the love we’ve shared for almost thirty years. Emotionally, however, I don’t know how I would be able to deal with it.

Sandra Day O’Connor left the Supreme Court in 2006 to care for her husband after he was diagnosed with Alzheimers, and she eventually had to give her blessing to his love affair with another resident in the nursing home.

I’ve never really felt comfortable with the idea of another woman loving my husband; I thought that if something were to happen to me, I would not be one of those selfless wives who tells her husband it’s okay to find someone else. I’d be more like Lazar Wolf’s wife in Fiddler on the Roof, you know, the crazed ghost who comes back from the dead in a made-up dream to keep Tevye’s daughter from marrying her husband.

I never thought of how I would deal with such an issue if I were still alive. With Alzheimers diagnoses on the rise, more people will be dealing with this issue in the years to come. Do I love Bill enough to let him find pleasure with someone else? Hopefully I’ll never have to find out.

http://www.slate.com/id/2199606/pagenum/all/

http://nsrc.sfsu.edu/article/sex_mind_forgot

http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/features/

Love Moments September 12, 2009

Posted by Dindy in Audio Books, Books, Memories, Mystery Books, Personal.
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I’m listening to Step on a Crack by James Patterson on audio. I’m enjoying the book- I almost always enjoy James Patterson. It’s a pretty good thriller about a group of celebrities that are taken hostage and held for ransom in a New York church a couple of days before Christmas. The main character is New York City Detective Michael Bennett, who unwittingly finds himself cast as the Hostage Negotiator at a time when he is dealing with his own personal tragedy- his wife and the mother of his ten children is in the hospital dying of cancer.

It is the scenes of Bennett with his wife and children that I find the most compelling as he tries to grasp the reality that his wife is dying and that he will soon have to face life without her. Her death is not some distant specter in the future- it is here. It is now, and any time he leaves her it is entirely too possible that he may never see her again.

As he is thinking about his life with her, his memory returns not to the milestone moments such as their wedding or when he proposed to her, but to the memories of times they spent together doing what were, to them ordinary things, but were done in such a way as to define their relationship with each other.

(Oh man, I started this blog intending to write about one thing, but I see it is heading somewhere else. Okay, Guess I’ll see what happens with it- but I’ll probably have to change the title.)

Bennett remembers how, in the early days of their marriage, he and Maeve would go on junk food runs to the grocery store and would come home and watch old movies and eat junk food. He reminds his wife of this when he smuggles a cheeseburger into her hospital room and they sit and watch an old movie.

When Bill and I were first married, I was still in school and we had no money. (Of course, we have no money now, even though we’ve been married almost 30 years, however I’m not in school anymore. ) Since we only had one car, he would run home at lunch, pick me up and drop me off at my workplace, then come back at the end of the day and hang around waiting for me to get off work so we could ride home together.  On the way home we would stop at McDonald’s and go through the drive through and buy ice cream cones. At the time, McDonald’s sold them for five cents each so for ten cents, Bill and I would have our dessert– and depending how close to payday it was, our evening meal.

Those are love moments– times that a couple shares together that are special to them and that would not have the same meaning for anybody else.  Most couples have lots of love moments because those are what build the framework of the relationship. When we were dating, Bill and I used to go to the Denny’s by my apartment and order french fries and a chocolate shake. We had the same waitress every time, and she always thought that was the weirdest thing to order, but it made perfect sense to us (and still does actually!)

So I can really identify with the Bennett character in Patterson’s book because I can see that Patterson, too, understands the concept of love moments. Occasionally Bill and I relive those love moments by running through the drive through at McDonald’s and ordering ice cream cones. Although they cost more than a nickel now, they are still a pretty good bargain– and nowadays they come dipped in chocolate too!