Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Out west

 Wife and I were supposed to have spent the last week in Hawaii -- specifically, Maui. 

When Wife retired a couple years ago, her employer gave her a gift card good for air flight with all the airlines. It had an expiration date. 

(As an aside, because I have for 25-plus years worked in finance and banking, specifically banking law and regulation, I know gift cards cannot have expiration dates unless the issuer has met a number of disclosure requirements. I knew this issuer had not met those, so I thought, "aha, I've got them," and couldn't wait to let them know, and defer our use of the card until this *&^% COVID thing is done and we could use it for overseas travel. Alas, the issuer was from another country, and did not have to comply with such. The expiration date would stand). 

Since, due to COVID, we are still not comfortable traveling overseas, we decided we would be OK with Hawaii. We went there on our honeymoon 37 years ago and Wife has always wanted to return.

So we booked the trip back in the spring. Using the gift card was not easy, as travel had to be booked through the issuer, but Wife was able to make it work. 

Because we have accumulated a large amount of hotel points with a certain franchise, Wife was also able to book a place for us to stay using those. It would be a vacation with some great discounts. 

We did not give this a lot of thought until along about August when the delta variant was surging. We began to hear that Hawaii was reinstating many COVID restrictions, such as limited occupancy in restaurants and attractions. The governor of Hawaii asked visitors to reconsider and postpone visits to give them time to regroup a bit and hopefully get their cases down. 

We decided maybe it was not the best time to visit Hawaii, so we canceled. 

But not to be deterred, Wife quickly switched gears and began planning a trip we have been trying to take for years, to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and other national parks in Utah, as well as some other places in the area.

On Saturday morning, October 2nd, we flew to Las Vegas, where we got a rental car. We drove that morning to Hoover Dam, and later in the day to the Grand Canyon south rim.  

After a couple of days there, we drove to Sedona, AZ, then to Page, AZ, where we visited the slot canyons, then into Utah where we went to Bryce Canyon National Park, then Zion National Park. 

We flew back from Las Vegas, after spending one night there, this past Monday, October 11th. 

These were all places I had never visited, and had never even been in the states of Arizona or Nevada. The beauty was spectacular, and I will give more detail and post some photos in my next entry. 

Wife continues to plan great travel for us in our "golden years" and I continue to be grateful. I still have about eight states to visit to have made it to all 50, and I told her I would like to make that a priority. (Iowa is one of them, blog friend Ed!)



Friday, September 24, 2021

WFH Part Three (Final)

One more thing about the WFH environment. It has spawned massive quitting of jobs, so much so that it even has a name -- The Great Resignation. Do an internet search and you'll find all kinds of information about it.

It seems extended time at home got folks to rethinking a lot of things, including their careers. 

Some members of two-earner households decided they could get by on one income. 

Others decided life is too short to work for a toxic, narcissistic manager. 

Still others concluded, as I have mentioned previously, WFH is a good fit, and when their employer said, "Come back to the office," they said, "I don't think so," gave notice and found a job in which WFH is acceptable. 

It's fascinating stuff, and yet another example of how the pandemic has turned things upside down. 

Employers are in a dilemma, of course, as workers are quitting in droves. Companies are finding new ways to entice employees and I suspect some, who are harping on the "come back to the office" message, might have to back off a bit if they want to retain good employees. 

I don't ever remember it being like this, where workers have these kinds of choices. 

As for me, I'm hoping to ride my current train to retirement, WFH or not, although it's what I'm doing now and it looks as if it will last a while. 

I'm not ready to hang it up just yet. 


Monday, September 20, 2021

WFH Part Two

In my last post, I commented on some of the intricacies of the WFH (Working From Home) environment, specifically the impasse that seems to have been reached between some employers who want their employees back on site, and employees who would rather continue to work remotely. 

In some cases, employers will eventually say (and some have already said), "This gig is up. Come on back." 

But those employers who do that, do so at the risk of losing folks. As I previously said, right now good employees have the upper hand. 

And I suppose some employers are fine with that. Nobody is non-replaceable, they say. And I would agree with that. 

But then again, employers need good workers and even if they are saying they're not doing the WFH thing, how long will they be willing to see good employees leave and have to rehire and retrain? 

My blog friend TB had an insightful comment on my WFH post, explaining how he is a project manager and feels as productive -- even more productive -- working from home as he does if he were in his office. 

I am much the same way. TB also said, as part of the WFH world, we have had to become better communicators, and I couldn't agree more. But with everyone being available online, it is not overly difficult. 

Many companies were planning to bring folks back, at least part of the time, after Labor Day. But with the delta variant and increased cases, in many cases those plans were postponed. Some of us are now 18 months into remote working. 

If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it's that we don't know what we don't know, and I would not begin to predict anything. 

But I'll say this. If vaccination rates increase and we see a pattern of cases decreasing, say, over a period of 90 days, I think we'll see companies gearing up their "come back to the workplace" themes around the first of the year. But I've been wrong before. 

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Of course bad apples spoil it for everyone, and there will always be folks who try to game the system. 

There are instances where WFH folks are holding down two jobs! I no longer have the link, but there was a WSJ (Wall Street Journal) piece a few weeks ago that reported on about a half-dozen folks who are managing two different positions. In return for confidentiality, they described to WSJ how they do it. 

They say they are able to manage their calendars and phones and strategically manipulate days off, with neither employer being the wiser. And they, of course, pleased to be receiving two salaries. Apparently there a more than a few folks out there doing it. 

Although incredibly deceitful and dishonest (you have to lie like cray to make it work), supposedly it's not illegal. 

But even if I could sink that low on a moral level, I couldn't handle the stress.