Saturday, August 8, 2009

Work, economy, preps, pickles, and gunpowder

Today marks 6 months to the day that I got layed off from work. I search every single day on every job listing website that I know of, and there is nothing. I have seen ONE ad for work in my trade in this whole time, and it was from a guy I know who started his own business. This particlar person couldn't pay me enough to work for him. He's a liar, a thief, and always looking for a lawsuit to get rich quick. I'm sure his only reasons behind starting his own business were 1-so he didn't have to do the physical labor, and 2-to make more money. I wouldn't trust this guy any further than I could throw him.
I look through each and every ad, looking for something in my trade or something that I can and would do. One today was for a job packaging and shipping horse tack. Loading and unloading trucks, sorting and listing merchandise, keeping inventory, ordering, taking orders, etc.........all for $8 an hour. I talked to someone months ago about a job listing for a horse ranch. Feeding, cleaning stalls, building maintenance, mowing, fence repair, etc; for $9 an hour. I don't expect to make my usual over $20 an hour doing this kind of work, but what quality of employee are they going to get for that money, plus, how is anyone expected to live on that? I can flip burgers for that measly amount at the local BK.
TOday I got a call from an old co-worker that I keep in touch with from time to time. He was a field supervisor for a fairly large company that did not only sprinkler work, but plumbing, mechanical and HVAC. The company wasn't making the profit margin that they had in past years, so of course, being greedy owners as they all are, they took it out on the employees. Cornbread ( I gave him that nickname lol) had a $7 pay cut, and they took away his company van. This is the guy who has taken no more than 4 vacation days in the past 2 years. He was one of those gung-ho company men, but that didn't matter. He was salary and gladly worked 60 hours, getting paid for 40, with no complaints at all. Now he is at home recovering from a knee surgery, one that he held off on for 6 months because of work schedule even though he was told to do it ASAP. He's no longer the smiling faced company man that he was, he is unhappy and left feeling used and abused. Now that he isn't the star child of the company anymore, he's worried that he too may face the chopping block of a layoff that many of his co-workers have in the past 6-8 months. Add greedy people to the rotten economy and lack of construction work, and this is what happens. The little guy loses.
Everyone I know in the same trade is layed off now but a handfull of guys at the last company I worked for and one guy and the one I left last year. Everyone else that I know of chooses between out of state work or a layoff. The material houses are barely making it, and the fabrication places are down to skeleton crews. Fitters, welders, office people, and drivers are all in the same boat now. It's awful out there, and shows no sign of getting better anytime soon. Even buildings I have installed pipe in over the last 5 years are now sitting vacant. One large auto thermostat company lost their major contract to a chinese company not 2 years after we did a large warehouse and production facility addition. A large appliance company moved their plant to Mexico. A small freight expediting company that was booming not 2 years ago is now selling the building that I worked on that is not quite a year and a half old. A major book distributor lost their main contract to a foreign company, forcing them to close a 3 year old warehouse. A shopping mall that I did many retro-fits in is now closed. A big, giant, vacant 2 story shopping mall. It's not just us guys in construction, it's everywhere. The only places I know of that I have worked on that are doing well are the big ugly china-marts, but I won't go there in this blog. I wish I knew what to do, but I have no idea.

I've decided on a few things to try for extra income though. First I want to make a chicken coop and a chicken tractor and see if they sell. Those things are rediculously priced through catalogs and websites, and more and more I see people starting their own flocks of chickens around here. It's worth a try, and if by chance they don't sell, well...we can always use it as an excuse to get more birds or put some at my uncles or my folks place. Second, I'm going to make a few walking staffs and wands to try selling at the local pagan stores. It's not like I don't have an ample supply of wood, lol. The orchard next door is always losing something, plus I have some trees that need trimmed. Those staffs are selling for $40 and up, and the wands for $10 and up. They're flippin' sticks with some leather and pretty stones for gods sake! I can do that in my sleep. No I'm not going to make my fortune selling chicken houses or walking staffs, but any extra income would be beneficial, even *IF* I manage to find work. I have no problems taking someones money that wants to pay big bucks for a purdy stick, lol.
In other happenings, Lisa has been doing a lot of canning the past 2 days. Last night she canned another 21 quarts of green beans, taking the total so far to 40, and today she canned 18 pints of bread and butter pickles. There will be more to do tomorrow when we get more pickling spice, and I'm sure more later in the week when this sunny weather arrives. (make that IF it arrives) The pantry is starting to look full again, and in fact so full that I am going to have to convert the closet in the spare room to another pantry. We do have storage open downstairs in the prep supply room, but we'd both rather keep as much up here as possible. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes, we may have no choice. That room will be getting a major cleaning and overhaul this week, and I'll have to check some items that we have neglected keeping track of. (strike anywhere matches, propane fuel,batteries, etc) I did have a nice inventory sheet for all of those items, but I just got lazy and didn't mark off items as they were used. It's time to get re-organized in a big way. Winter is fast approaching, and I want everything ready for that always just-in-case cold weather power outage. I do have most things ready that I want, though I still haven't gotten that camp toilet that I wanted to. It's not a real necessity in our preps, but I would like to have one handy in case of emergency so I don't have to worry about using stored water for flushing a toilet. Plus, I still want to do some primitive camping sometime again, and that would be a bonus to have.
Tomrrow I am going to that civil war reinactment again with my uncle. We planned on today but the forecast called for storms, so we decided to try for tomorrow instead. We never got the storms, but it did rain off an on all day. Both of us want to see the people and the battle reinactment again, but not bad enough that we would stand in the rain to watch. Umbrella are out of the question because...well...its a guy thing. Umbrellas are teste shrinkers like golf clubs, mini vans and deck shoes where I come from. We'll just go tomorrow lol. I'll actually remember the camera this time and get some pics of the battle and the buildings, especially the church that I talked about in a post long ago.(the one my same uncle helped move to this location in the 60's) For now I am sitting in the scent of pickles, but tomorrow it's the scent of black powder.........oh yea!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So much for helping the needy

Last week I mentioned another 4-5 carloads of stuff I got to haul out. 99% of this was baby items, clothes (LOTS!), strollers, toys, carseats, etc. I set up a yard sale on Friday and Saturday and made a grand total of $40. Again, not worth the effort.

I decided to do something good with all of this, and started looking up phone numbers to shelters. Battered women, homeless, all of them.........and not a single one had a way to come get them, and the battered womens shelter only wanted NEW clothing in the packages. I tried explaining that this stuff all looked like new,and some even still had the tags on them. Nope, no can do. "We don't want used", "We can't pick them up", " Just bring them here" is what I got. I told them ALL that this was a 4x8 trailer stacked 3 feet tall FULL of things, and I had no way to get it there. We share one vehicle now and Lisa has it to work. Of course, after she gets off work at 5, all of their donation windows or areas are closed. How is someone that actually works supposed to get it there anyway?????

I didn't know what to expect, but this wasn't it. I don't expect these places to all have big box trucks to spend gas and time picking things up, but maybe a volunteer with a pickup truck. I didn't expect to me made to feel like a nuicance because I had no way of delivering them free stuff. The one homeless shelter in Akron is the size of a large high school, yet has no way of picking up donations. I'm angry, dissapointed, and pretty disgusted with the way these places work. If it weren't for the internet and Freecycle, this stuff would probably end up at the street for the garbage man. Apparantly it's only charity if I take it to you.

Freecycle has become just as dissapointing. I posted this all yesterday morning and got over 40 responses. I handed out my address like it was candy, and FIVE have shown up, FIVE. Some have asked what brands they were,(are you serious???) some asked me to sort out all the certain sizes, one asked if I could hang onto everything till the weekend, and one (sorry but I found this funny) asked if I could hold everything till after 5 when her husband got off work. Not because she didn't have a car, not because she was watching the kids, but because she couldn't leave the house with the house-arrest ankle bracelet on. WHY would you tell a stranger that???? Was it some ploy to make me feel sorry for her???? I have no idea, but found it rather humorous.

After this dealing, I'll probably drop out of Freecycle. The no-shows are a pain in the ass, and the constant questions are annoying. I don't want to sit here all day and sort this stuff and make arrangements in my schedule so it's convienent for you, just come get the stuff, it's FREE. Their wanted posts get more rediculous by the day, I have seen them for cars, big screen tv's, laptops, newer furniture, lawnmowers...all kinds of things. Maybe it's the area, I dunno, but all of this just gives me more reason to lose faith in people in general. People, groups, charities, all of them.

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