Monday, June 23, 2008

Life Updates

Whew. It was nice to take a little bit of a breather on Sunday. It’s been a crazy little stretch for the Kraft clan, but we seem to be weathering it nicely.

After a quick trip to LA the previous weekend for Elizabeth’s wedding reception, we managed to spend Father’s Day with both of our Dad’s which was nice. Keds had a random illness pop up on Monday – including a 103 degree fever. That curtailed our activities through Thursday. Unfortunately, it also meant we needed to cancel dinner plans with our friends Vegas Princess and her husband Charming, her folks and my parents. We tried to make it up, but more on that later.

Thursday was a really tough day. It appears that my new company likes to have “cutting the fat” exercise about once a quarter to twice a year. It started with the VP who hired me getting let go first thing in the morning. Having just started, and losing my last job in a “financial restructuring,” I did get a little nervous. OK, I was a lot nervous; especially when two people that I worked closely with were let go. But in the end, it looks like there was a strategy to cuts and there will be some good things that come out of this. We seem to be banding together as a division and are focused on service our customers.

Friday was highlighted both with a night out at the 51s game and getting out of work early. We were all ordered to leave at 3:30 as our office was being sprayed for bugs. From there, Keds and swung by and grabbed Dad then picked Mom up from work before heading to Cashman. Our plan was to try and watch the game with Princess, Charming and their families, but we weren’t able to get tickets close to them. Plus, it was like 100 degrees in the shade and the 51s got their butts kicked.

Saturday was a little crazy. First, I went canvassing for Dina Titus and Andrew Martin as part of the coordinated campaign. I was paired with a relatively pessimistic retiree, and knocking on doors in 100 degree heat was not all that fun. But we were able to leave some literature and spoke to some people who had never heard of Andrew, which was pretty cool. The lunch afterwards was pleasant, but it was reinforced that I need to keep my mouth shut when I start listening to idiot conspiracy theorists. After babysitting my favorite toddlers for 30 minutes (OK, they were both napping), Keds and I got ready for a dinner party at our favorite loan officer’s house.

Mind you, prior to last week we hadn’t received the invitation, and if I had checked our mail it may have been in there, but we were both a little miffed when we realized the point of the evening was not exactly as advertised. It was billed as a birthday party for our friend’s boyfriend to be catered by a professional chef. Turns out, it was actually a financial planner’s marketing event. At first, I was really annoyed and felt like we had been duped (I’m sure Princess knows how this feels J), but it ended up being a nice evening. The Financial Planner actually didn’t even try and push his services on us. We happened to have a couple of questions, and he answered them. We may end up using him for somethings in an effort to diversify. Also, our current guy, while good, is in LA so any deposits need to be mailed to him. Plus, since he was Leni’s guy, my concern is that he is almost like an uncle, and not in the good way – especially with money. Plus, we made friends with the field manager and his girlfriend, and the financial planner’s wife is actually a Registered Dietician. So, it ended up being a productive evening.

Sunday was much more laid back. The lesson learned, though, was to keep an eye on the pool temperature. No matter what the temperature, 96 degrees is not refreshing. Mom made stew meat and gravy for dinner which was uber-yummy. But it ended up being a much-needed relaxing day. Plus, the A’s won, which made it even better!

So what’s new with you?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nevada’s Budgetary Issues

So it’s official. The nation’s least-effective governor has finally called for a special session of the legislature to deal with the state’s fiscal crisis. On the front-end, I really do believe that the reason the Governor finally called for a special session was due to the Textgate Scandal and the fact that the RJ published a poll showing the Governor’s approval ratings in the sewer. He wants to change the story. However, given that our Governor has not done anything substantive and has literally danced while Rome (or Reno, I get the two confused) burn, a special session is necessary to create sound fiscal policy for the next fiscal year so that things aren’t any worse by the time the budget is ratified.

The agenda, as I understand it, is specifically to talk about suspending Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for the upcoming year. Also on the list is how to stabilize the budget for the next fiscal year. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. There may be legal ramifications to this, as contracts with the various labor unions may guarantee that the raises go through, forcing the money to come from somewhere else.

While suspending raises is not popular, I’d rather see raises suspended than see layoffs in vital services. Having worked in the private sector my entire career, suspending pay increases is not uncommon. When I worked at ClientLogic, annual increases for salaried employees were suspended or deferred for three years during financially lean years. In addition, they suspended matching funds for our 401(k). Sure, it is a demotivator, but at least you still had a job.

What I would like to see is some sound fiscal policy come out of this special sesson. I’m not holding my breath that it will, but I can still hope. These are tough times for Nevada. Real leadership is needed. I don’t care that it’s happening in the middle of a campaign or if the Governor is calling the session just to change the subject. My call to Speaker Buckley and Sen. Majority Leader Raggio is to do what is difficult and do what you were hired to do – legislate in the best interest of the State of Nevada.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Tom!

In past years, today would have been an awesome day. Sure, we'd both have to work, but we both knew what was in store for us after work - drinks (Crown Royal for Newman, Beer or Jack Daniel's for me) and dinner either at Santora's or Nikki Lee's. After that, we'd most likely head to the nearest PT's for a few too many games of GoldenTee and some more drinks.

However, this is not past years. As many of you know, Tom passed away on September 16th. The picture above was the last time I saw him and the last time we spoke was via e-mail the following July. I regret that working together caused some friction between the two of us, especially once he went out on leave and the way he ended up leaving town left a little bitter taste with both Keds and I. That didn't change how I felt about him. It was more of an annoyance.
I find myself thinking about him more and more lately. Mostly because it's baseball season. Tom was an avid Braves fan. It would annoy him to no end that the Braves aren't on TBS that much anymore. After baseball came football, as we both were huge Bills fans. I occasionally feel guilty for not being a better friend, but the reality is that he pulled away as he got more sick and was in increasing amounts of pain. His communication was more erratic, I'm sure partially because of the amount of pain but also because of the way things were going with Slash for him.
Tom would have been 33 today. That is simply just far too young to die. I take some solace that he was in a lot of pain, having endured double hip replacement, a shoulder replacement and had some back problems along with the severe asthma that plagued him his whole life. He is in a better place now. I'll do a shot of Crown for you tonight...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Where's Ken?

I know. I know. It's been a while since I've posted a little comment out here. I've been a bit busy and nothing too exciting has happened. Work is phenomenal. I'm really digging this new job. The only issue I have is the commute. Going from no commute to a cross-town commute has been a little bit of an adjustment. Plus, there have been some adjustments at home. Going from being able to do my own thing, to leaving the house at 6 a.m. and not getting home until between 5 and 6 is an adjustment for Keds - and that's assuming I ONLY go to the gym after work. A meeting or an event or something really kills the rest of the evening.

Getting more and more involved in local politics. We hosted the local Assembly candidate for a Meet and Greet with the neighbors, which was a lot of fun. Right now it is all about organizing, most of the "get out the vote" efforts won't start until September or so.

I'm really focusing on staying focused with my nutrition and the like. It's hard when there are office birthdays, lunches and breakfasts going on, not to mention not really caring sometimes. But I'm confident I'll get it back together here soon.

I apologize for not being better about commenting on other people's blogs. It's amazing what happens when you don't have time to goof off at work...

Anyway, expect a more thoughtful and organized post later in the week.