Monday, December 31, 2007

Ending 2007 with a Few New Records

The seven inches of additional snowfall we received overnight has given December 2007 the distinction of being the snowiest December on record.  We got somewhere around 44 inches of snow this month - yes, that is 44 inches of snow in 31 days.  

As someone who still considers herself a bit of a Southerner, this snowfall amount is amazing to me.  For those of you from the south who are wondering what we do with all of this snow -- we use something called a snowblower - a loud, gas powered machine that looks a bit like a roto-tiller - to pile the snow up next to our driveways and sidewalks.  In our household we determine how bad a winter it is by looking at our lamp post in the front lawn.  If we can still see most of the post, it's a pretty mild winter.  If the post is buried, I am counting the days until we escape to somewhere where the only 'white stuff' we have to walk through is sand.  Well, as of right now there isn't much of that post showing, and I'm counting the days (53) until we fly south for the winter (okay, for a week, but one can dream.)  Oh yeah, tomorrow's forecast?   Snow.  Followed by frigid temperatures for Friday.  I'm reminded of an old commercial -- "Calgon, take me away...."

Another record was set today at our household when I went to the mailbox.  There were six -- count them, six -- Presidential campaign ads reminding me to vote next Tuesday.  Barack Obama is offering me a ride to the polls.  Hillary wants me to know that she has the endorsement of 13 NH unions and three newspapers.  The Alliance for a New America (who are they anyway?) wants me to support John Edwards.  And three unions are sending me materials telling me how great Hillary is.  Apparently the Republicans have missed the fact that there is a registered independent in our household - or they don't care.  Aside from John McCain, they've ignored us.  In NH if you are registered as an independent (undeclared), you CAN vote in the primary, you just select which party you want to vote in at the polls.  

I'm still undecided.  All of the candidates are selling their ability to effect change, and heaven knows we really need some changes in this country - but I'm not convinced any of them can do that much.  

The most recent poll I answered asked "what are you most concerned with in this election?"  My answer "reducing the federal deficit."  There was silence at the other end of the line.  I don't think the script included this as an option - it appears from looking at the ads that I was supposed to say healthcare, or education, or energy independence, or the Iraq War.  Yes, I care about all of those, but if we don't get our spending under control how in the world will we address any of them?  When I want something I can't afford, I have to save up for it, or give up something else, or work harder to earn more money.  Why can't our elected leaders learn to do the same? 

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Your Estimated Hold Time is....

There are some really great benefits to working from home.  My favorite of these is that, most of the time, I can dress however I please.  My uniform in all but the hottest months typically consists of jeans and an appropriate number of layers to keep me warm without running up the equivalent of the national debt in heating bills.  

The downside is, that here it is Sunday evening at 7PM, and I'm working.  With an office in your home, you are never really 'off.'  True, you can close the door, turn the ringer off on the phone, and try to ignore your office -- but it is right there.  The temptation just to go in for a few minutes to catch up on paperwork always looms.  I was never tempted to do this when I had to drive 20 minutes to the office...  

So tonight I had to make a call to a supplier, who has employees that are actually stuck working on Sunday evening.  Apparently not many of them though... the lovely recorded message told me 32 minutes ago that my estimated wait time was 64 minutes -- what???  

Working from home means I can roam around the house - grab a snack, chat with the family, start a load of laundry - all while I listen to the lovely hold music, interrupted periodically by an annoying voice telling me that my patience is appreciated.  There is a downside to this freedom - on one occasion I forgot why I was holding, and, after holding for 45  minutes  had to ask the person who finally answered to hold while I ran into my office to refresh my memory on why I was calling!  There was a feeling of justice when I said "Can I put you on hold for just a minute while I run back into my office?  I've been on hold so long I can't remember what I was calling about."

If hold times continue to be this long, I can see great possibilities for incorporating my annual resolution to exercise more into hold times - the music will be great to listen to while I walk on my treadmill.  I wonder what the person on the other end will think when they hear my heavy breathing?  


Saturday, December 29, 2007

My View from NH - Counting Down to January 8

Earlier this year, I discovered a high school friend was blogging, and I've followed her adventures with delight, thinking "I should be blogging too."    For the last couple of years I've been considering blogging, but seeing her blog pushed me to go ahead and do it.  There is certainly no time like the present, especially since I live in NH -- and we are mere days from our Presidential Primary.

For readers who don't live in NH - and let me add that I am not a NH native - this is a fascinating place to be during the primary season.  Of course, it seems that season never really ends.  We've already been hearing from potential candidates exploring bids for 2012, and the current crop of candidates is still very visible on every street corner (I live just outside Manchester, one of the states largest cities.)   

When my husband walks in the door from work, for the last couple of months the first words out of his mouth have been "how many pollsters called today?"  You see, I work at home most of the time, so we have three residential phone numbers, one business phone number, and two cell phone numbers.  The pollsters have lots of ways to reach us, and reach us they do.  I must have done something to get high on their list (could it be that I'm still undecided about who to vote for, but I'm 100% certain I will do my civic duty and vote?)  For the last month, we've averaged a poll a week.

Unfortunately, all polls are not created equal.  Recently I participated in a UNH/AP poll that was very professionally done, and took about five minutes.  A week later, I got a call from a polling organization I didn't recognize - that was my first warning.  It started out as a standard poll, but when I said I was undecided the person on the other end of the line started pushing me for a commitment to some candidate (Honestly, I'm really undecided right now.)  Then she started reading all these statements about "if you heard a candidate says he will do this, but we could show you he did this instead, would you be less likely, somewhat less likely, more likely, or somewhat more likely to vote for him?"  And it wasn't just a few statements, I made it through about ten of them before I told her I was not completing this particular survey.  

So while the rest of the country is counting the hours until the New Year, we're counting the hours until January 8, when all the CNN trucks and candidates pull out of our state.  Of course, the primary is incredibly early this year, thanks to attempts by other states to move forward in the process.  So we've had to deal with politics over the holidays, not a particularly jolly topic.  

But in just ten more days, our state will return to normal - as we welcome all the 2012 contenders.....