Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Checking In

Hey team! I know I've been silent for a couple of weeks. Between work work and school work and my for some reason very happening social life, I've been too busy to blog.

Last weekend Dan and I headed up to the Texas Renaissance Festival. As with all things, Texas does Ren Fest bigger than any I've ever seen. There's a whole permanent fairground north of Houston (with traffic it took us 2 hours to get there). Last year I bought this beautiful purple and black corset, so I bought this dress on Amazon to go with it.
I think I look pretty hot. Corsets are certainly not something I would like to wear every day, but you can't deny it gives your waist (and boobs!) a nice shape. The weather was pretty great on Saturday and we spent the whole day drinking and eating and wandering around before making the 2 hour trek back home.

Sunday I did some homework (my second paper is due next weekend) while Dan cleaned the house... his parents are coming to visit next week for the long Veterans Day weekend, so it was time to ready the guest quarters.

In other news, we signed up for a half marathon on Feb 16th in Austin and training begins tomorrow...16 weeks to go! So that's what's new around here! Some things for your reading pleasure...
  1. My daughter got pregnant at a house party and I want the house owners to pay for it
    Wowwww. I mean, really? I suspect that this "blame everyone else" guy didn't teach his daughter about safe sex. Newsflash: Teens have sex. Life finds a way. Give your kids condoms.
  2. New last name, old email address
    I did discuss, in the context of my own name change, how terrible computer systems are at handling the married name change despite name changes long predating the existence of computers. However, for a personal email address, does it really matter so much that it doesn't match your name? As someone who still uses her old Gmail address (maidenname.firstname@gmail) even though she has a new last name, I suggest that this is a fake problem. What do you think?
  3. Six decades of the most common baby girl names
    I have a very common name- 6th most common for my birth year, with 22,000 other girls also named Stephanie (check out the stats from your birth year at Social Security administration). My mother did that on purpose, because she hated her unique name (well, a normal name, with a less common spelling). My sister (14th most common) and brother (4th most common) were named likewise. These days it seems that people are obsessed with finding a "unique" name for their kid, but somehow everyone "independently" and "uniquely" thought of naming their kid "Olivia" at the same damn time. 
And that's all for now. Have a good week!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tales from a Government Shutdown, pt 2

As I said in my last post, the hubs and I are teleworking since we are unable to go to the office except for critical operations until the shutdown is over.

It isn't exactly a picnic, but it hasn't been all bad. Here's 5 pro's of teleworking...

1. Elastic!
My regular workday wear of real bras, real shirts, real pants (or at least jeans), and shoes has been temporarily replaced with yoga pants, sports bras, Lululemon workout shirts, and happy bare feet. I'm so flipping comfortable I don't ever want to wear real pants again.

2. My favorite cubemate
Hubs and I have been working at the dining room table together all week. While I do like seeing other humans, getting married is basically admitting to the world that if you had to be trapped on a deserted island (or stuck in a house) with one other person, you'd want it to be that one. He is pretty cute!

3. Commute
My 35 minute commute has been replaced with a 35 second commute. Not to mention, I don't have to shower, and dressing takes about 5 minutes so I've really streamlined my mornings (and am turning all those time savings directly into sleeping in!). On that note, we're also saving gas... my husband and I each usually go through about a tank a week!

4. Nice weather
Houston has been hit with a spell of pretty nice weather. We have left the windows open in the house until lunchtime every day to take advantage of the cool breeze, which we wouldn't be able to enjoy if cooped up in an office all day.

5. So long 'To-do List'
I had a growing to-do list at work of "nice to have" updates to products that I was saving until I had time. Well guess what? Without meetings, sims, or marathon software testing sessions, I suddenly have time for it! Is it the most thrilling work? Well, no, but it will make our procedures all shiny and new when we get back to the grind!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tales from a Government Shutdown

(Disclaimer: These views are my own. These experiences are my own. I don't speak for my company, NASA, or the federal government..)
 
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably already know that as of midnight on Monday, the federal government shut down due to lack of a budget to begin the new fiscal year.

I could go on and on about politics, but instead I thought I'd tell you about our lives while the government is shut down. Though Dan and I are contractors, not civil servants, we support a federal agency and therefore are definitely impacted by the shutdown.

For civil servants, there is a complete work stoppage. They are not allowed to come to work, not allowed to work from home, even answering an email is against the law. They are also not getting paid, although Congress is able to pass a resolution to back-pay civil servants for the time they were furloughed (which they are already considering doing).

As part of the shutdown, people are only allowed to report to the physical space centers for critical operations. Civil servants are already forbidden from work, but for contractors (which are the majority of workers all across NASA centers) there's a mixed bag... from furlough and no pay, to mandatory vacation, to paid telework, etc.

As luck would have it, I was regularly scheduled to be on console last week. Everyone scheduled for console (civil servant or contractor) is allowed to report on-site for duty and work as normal. Console is considered a critical operation: we have 6 astronauts/cosmonauts and a space station to keep alive and well, and we fly 24-7-365 regardless of the shutdown.

For the contract Dan and I are on, we cannot go to work except for critical ops, but are allowed to telework using NASA assets (our NASA-issued laptops and the VPN system) as much as we can. However much of our jobs involves being on-site- sims, crew training, flight controller training, and testing software. There's only so much paperwork we can do, probably enough for a couple weeks before we would need either help from a civil servant or a JSC facility to do our jobs. For the hours we cannot make each week, we are able to charge either vacation or no pay. Dan doesn't have a lot of vacation, so he will be taking a reduced paycheck rather than use his vacation hours. Dan already teleworked all last week while I was off being "critical," and we both will be teleworking starting next week until the shutdown is over.

And Dan and I are the luckiest among my contractor friends. Some of my coworkers on other contracts are getting paid still, but are not allowed to work. They are forced to use their vacation time, which could be a big impact for them if they were trying to save their vacation time for the holidays or other plans but have to use it now instead. Another friend on another contract is also in the telework wagon, but they are not able to use any NASA assets (including their laptops and even the government-owned servers!) so are basically unable to work very much. And all contractors are only this lucky until their contract's forward funding runs out- anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months. Then they go on indefinite furlough as well.


On the bright side, since we have been home more than usual, we have had a chance to clean the house and I spent all Friday (since Thursday was my last console shift) working on my first paper for grad school that's due tomorrow. So it's not all terrible, but we certainly can't go on like this forever. Besides, we came here for a job, and we'd really like to do it!