Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RNO1 - Day 14 - 'Tranship'

After sort of catching up a little on my lost slumber time....and before I get 13 messages saying "you never catch up" on sleep, I am aware of that, but it makes me feel better to think it.....I was up at 7 am Monday.  So, instead of my usual 5 hours of lucid consciousness I had 10 Monday before it was time for our daily commute to RNO1.

The temperature at 7 am was 28 degrees, and the VW was coated with a thick layer of frost that didn't melt off until almost Noon time.  As luck would have it the black tank needed to be dumped after 11 days......that's actually the longest we have gone without dumping in quite a long time.  Part of that can be attributed to us using someone else's restrooms for most of our waking hours.....it does make a difference.  Nevertheless, I was outside about 9 am doing the deed, and thankful it was a sunny, windless day on the driver's side of the coach.

After that I spent time in the trailer sorting through the packages I received over the past week......I received the two gallons of waterless wash/wax solution from Firecoat My Truck so I can now proceed, maybe this weekend, with cleaning and waxing the drivers side of the Newell.  I also received the replacement ballast for the 4 foot fluorescent fixture I removed last week, so I installed it and then confirmed by plugging it in that it works again....YAY.  I'll try to install it near the rear of the trailer this weekend also.  Finally there were new bicycle tubes, and patch kits ordered from Amazon Prime.  

By the time I was finished with that it was early afternoon, and TLE needed to do some 'small' shopping at Target, but before we stopped there we drove over to Scheel's to walk around again, then stopped off at the local Subway sandwich shop to get one of my favorite foot long 'Club' sandwiches, then it was over to Target to pick up a few staples before heading home.

For our 14th night/day at RNO1 we were assigned to 'Blue, P-3' (third floor of the 'Blue' Pick Mod), which is where most of the 'tranship' stuff arrives for 'stowing'.  Each Amazon Fulfillment center ships products to other fulfillment centers to be stowed, and usually 'picked' within a few hours to ship to online customers.   Tranship gets priority, and that is where a big chunk of our Shift 6 gang toiled the night through.  By the time 4:30 am rolled around we had made a significant dent in stowing the tranship stuff, and it was time to hand off the task to the day shift, which arrived at 6 am.

We have about 18-20 days of work left here at RNO1 before we are released and head south for Christmas with our kids, and then our daughter's wedding. Time is flying by, life is good, our health is good, and we are excited about what awaits us in the new year.......we have a fuzzy idea of where we will travel, and what we will do, but it is just that....fuzzy....right now we are just living in the moment, and not looking too far ahead.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 24, 2014

What family means....

One of the main reasons we chose to spend roughly 7 weeks here in Sparks, NV while we worked at Amazon was the proximity of family.....not only the proximity of our kids just a few hundred miles away in SoCal, but the immediate proximity of my Uncle Bob, Aunt Jane, and cousin Lois (all on my mother's side) who live right here in Sparks.  Regretfully, circumstances over the years kept us apart (geography, etc.) and we just did not see each other until last November when we were passing through on our way home.   I wrote about our lunch with them in Carson City here.  After spending a few hours together both at lunch, and then back at our coach....Uncle Bob really wanted to see the Newell.....TLE and I began discussing the possibility of coming back to work at Amazon in Fernley....I should say I began discussing it.....TLE was not interested in spending 7 weeks in Fernley.  Over the few months we were home she began to warm to the idea and ultimately we submitted our applications to Joni (Camperforce co-ordinator at Fernley) requesting a start date the first week in November, 2014.

Just after we arrived here in Sparks for our tour of duty at Amazon we were able to have dinner with Cousin Lois, her husband John, and Chris, their son.  We had a lovely time with them, and made plans to get together again, and that was Sunday.  Around 1 pm we drove up to Lois and John's lovely home in the hills above Sparks where they have lived for 30 years.  We spent a couple of hours just talking about life, down sizing, living in an RV full time, etc. before heading just a few blocks down the hill to Uncle Bob's gated community home for an early dinner.  My cousin, Liz (Lois' sister) whom I had not seen since my grandmother's memorial service six, or seven years ago had flown up with her husband (Rick) that morning to spend a few days with  her father, Uncle Bob, before Thanksgiving, so that was an added bonus.  Additionally, Chris (Lois' son) came over with his son, Brady, to join us.  We spent a few hours talking and enjoying a great meal.  The afternoon just flew by, and before we knew it 5 pm had come and gone, and it was time to head home, knowing that we will repeat this performance in just a few days (Thanksgiving) when we meet again to give thanks, and share some turkey.

As I sit here this morning (Monday) writing about our time with family Sunday I am still basking in the warm glow of self satisfaction.  We had a lovely, wonderful, delightful time Sunday spent with family.  Do I wish all those years with almost no contact had not happened?  Of course, but we can only do better today, and today we are spending time as often as possible with each other, and that is all that can really count in the end.  My father was fond of saying "Clarke, it doesn't matter how you start out....it only matters how you finish".....so I'm not going to spend today regretting what happened over the years....I'm going to spend time being thankful for what is happening now....today.  At the end of the day, especially as we are living in the autumn of our time on this earth, family becomes more and more important, and to a large degree our ability to live this mobile, nomadic life is enabling us to spend time with family whenever the opportunity presents itself.

We were home by 5:30 relaxing, and watching some more football (Cowboys vs. Giants) during which I took a long 90 minute nap (only got 5.5 hours of sleep Sunday morning), and then another nap from 9 pm to 11 pm before actually just going to bed and sleeping another 8 solid hours.....not caught up by any stretch of the imagination, but feeling much more coherent, and lucid.  Near the end of the game Odell Beckham (receiver for the Giants) made a one handed catch for a touchdown that was the most amazing catch I have ever seen, and apparently a lot of people more knowledgeable than I think so too......here is a picture of that catch, which does not really do it justice, but here it is....

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

RNO1 - Day 13 - Fast 50

Sleeping and working....yep, that's how it feels.....a little more each day....this part reminds me of our Campbellsville experience.  The great news is, and we did not realize this when we were given our stowing jobs......our 'Peak Season' is just about over, and 'Peak Season' for the pickers is just beginning.  In other words, these past few weeks we have been stuffing the bins all over RNO1 so the pickers can go nuts beginning this coming week as the orders begin arriving online.  We will still have stuff to stow, but it will not be as intense, and we will not have 5 day work weeks every week....probably only every other week.  The pickers, on the other hand, will be working 5 and 6 day weeks with the extra 1.5 hours thrown in for good measure between now and Christmas.

A few more Amazon acronyms for your reading pleasure:

TEHKO - Toys, Electronics, Home, Kitchen & Outdoor
HVA - High Value Area
PMV - Process Map Visual
FFP - Frustration-Free Packing

There is literally nothing to tell about the hours of Noon to 5 pm that I have not already written about before.....wakeup, pour coffee, type blog, sit in the recliner and stare into space, eat, get dressed, drive to work.....that's our 5 hours of non-work pleasure every day we work.....except around 4 pm the wind came up....first time we have had significant wind here since we arrived, and this wind was rocking the coach at 26-30 mph.....that was our excitement for the day.  Certainly not up to Cape Blanco standards, but interesting none the less.  There was a high wind alert issued by the National Weather Service that lasted until 4 am. 

Our MOT day (Mandatory OverTime) is Saturday, and Saturday was our first 5th day week.  In a nutshell, that was the fastest 50 hours at Amazon I ever experienced!  Saturday's are not that busy right now on the night shift, and we had the place pretty much to ourselves.....much quieter with half the regular number of people working.

The hours flew by, and before we knew it our first 50 hour work week was complete and we have off until 6 pm on Monday......my feet and eyes need the break!  By the time we exited RNO1 the winds had abated, and all we had to contend with was ice on the windshield, which was dispatched quickly using the spray I purchased at AutoZone a few weeks ago.....no ice scrapers for moi!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

RNO1 - Day 12 - Camperforce brings it!

The weather has warmed up a bit at night with overnight temps staying in the high 30's, and day time temps in the low to mid 50's, and it has been quite overcast with a few rain showers here and there.......the local mountains are showing snow again.

On days when we work we don't do much else besides get up, drink coffee, take showers, do a little laundry as needed, and that's about it......life gets very basic, and we are just moving from one work day til the next.  One piece of good news is that we will not have 'MOT' next Saturday, so we'll have off Saturday and Sunday....YAY!

We were off driving to Fernley at precisely 5 pm and, once again, arrived without incident around 5:35.

It's easy to tune out during 'stand up' to the daily barrage of announcements, and 'ra ra' cheerleading in which our managers, of necessity, participate.  They need to get us pumped up each evening to meet arbitrary, but necessary goals set by home office in Seattle.......but last night one proclamation stood out.....the night shifts (4 and 6) are the only shifts that routinely achieve the aforementioned goals.  Of course, these two shifts are made up primarily of 'Camperforce' folk like TLE and I.   Okay, I admit it......my chest briefly swelled with a hint of pride.

Our Friday/Saturday shift was our 12th, and it bore a remarkable resemblance to many other shifts recently......TLE and I once again found ourselves in the Utah 'Pick Mod' trudging up and down ever familiar isles in pursuit of the increasingly rare spot to insert the goods we have been given to stow.  This was how things went until just after our 10 pm break......I was just starting a new cart with a bijillion things to stow when I got a message on my scanner telling me to 'drop' my cart and move over to "Aqua"......one of my favorite 'Pick Mods' here in Fernley......YAY!  TLE also got the message along with a few other of our Camperforce friends, and we all made our way over to 'Aqua' in the Nevada side of the building.

What we found were cavernous holes in which to stow stuff......the items were flying off our carts as we inched along each isle......it was like being let loose in the candy store and given carte blanche.....I was able to empty my first cart barely moving a few feet down the first isle.  In 'Utah' I might have to move my cart the entire length of the 'Pick Mod'  just to empty it.

The rest of our shift flew by, and hardly seemed like work at all.....it's wonderful to leave work and realize it is not 'Groundhog Day' anymore.....

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 21, 2014

RNO1 - Day 11 - Utah and Ground Hog Day

It seems to me that in travels over the past almost 3 years that we have spent a lot of time in the great state of Utah, and barely scratched the surface......the same cannot be said for the 'Pick Mod' called Utah here at Fernley Amazon.  Out of the 11 nights/mornings I have spent stowing I believe I have spent 5, or 6 on either the first, or second floor stowing my brains out......stowing until last night it feels like I am using 'smoke and mirrors' to empty each cart.  There really is very little room left to put stuff, and yet I, and those other unfortunate souls who call themselves stowers find ourselves in this perpetual 'Ground Hog Day' scenario where we wake up every evening living the same day over and over again in the Utah 'Pick Mod' trying to find space to stow things where it appears there is none.  While I am looking forward with great anticipation to returning to the Canyonlands in Utah this Spring, I am not looking forward to spending one more day stowing in the Utah 'Pick Mod'......I say that knowing full well that I will be back there again and again over the next 4 weeks.  One would think there would, indeed, be no more room to stow when a 'Pick Mod' reaches 100%  of 'virtual capacity'.....'virtual capacity' being when the computer models would indicate each bin has reached its capacity to hold the items stowed therein.  But, no, the modelers aim for about 110-115% of capacity, meaning that every single bin is literally crammed full, and then some.  I wish I could take a picture of what a bin at 115% capacity looks like, but that would result in me losing my job, and being shown the door.....no phones, cameras or recording devices of any kind are allowed past the security entrance.

Great You Tube video of  the inside 
of the Fernley Fulfillment Center

Since I had gone to bed around 2:30 am I was up around 10:30, and trying to complete the installation of the new DirecTV standard receiver (we don't have HD, which is cool).  For the first time in all the years I have had DirecTV I was able to install a new receiver without getting on the phone.....it was all done via their online site, and took less than 30 minutes.....most of that time being spent hooking all the cabling up to the new receiver.  One problem I had run into Wednesday evening was that the new receiver no longer uses the standard coax cable to send the audio visual signal to the TV......you now must use either RCA type cables, or HDMI cabling....both of which are quite expensive.  I opted to use an HDMI cable......8 feet at $39, but there is only one connection, and amazing picture and sound quality.....it's not HD, but the picture is definitely much sharper.  Eventually I plan to run HDMI cable to the back TV, but I'll need a newer TV switch box to combine with the existing coax only box I have now.  At any rate, we have DirecTV once again, and life is back to normal.  Another thing I discovered is that our TV has 4 HDMI inputs, so I bought an extra cable to connect my laptop to the TV on the rare occasion we might be watching a movie, or TV show on the laptop.....by connecting an HDMI cable from the laptop to the TV we can now watch the show on the TV via the HDMI cable.....cool.  To make the 'run' back to the bedroom TV will take about 30+ feet of HDMI cable at a cost of about $140 dollars....whew.....that much money would buy a few hundred feet of coax cable!

As it is most days, 5 pm came very quickly and we were on our way to our 11th night/day stowing at Amazon.....we got a little rain on the 3o minute drive to Fernley, but nothing too daunting.  The shift passed quickly as has been the case the other 10 days we have been stowing, and we were home by 5:10 am.  Friday is payday, and the money is always in our account a little after midnight.......seeing the new deposits each Friday also helps the time to pass more quickly....only 4 more weeks until we are once again released to roam freely about the country.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hump Day....

Unlike the workaday world where 'hump' day means it is Wednesday and you are officially half way through your 5 day work week, 'hump' day for us shift 6 folk just means an off day, and you still have 3 more work days before you get your second 'off' day.  I was up shortly after 12 pm, and TLE by 1 pm.  Back in our Campbellsville days we would spend our day off just trying to recuperate and get ready for the next work day.  This year we don't feel like we are in recuperation mode on our off days.  We are mentally and physically sound, so that means we have time to get out and do things like go and see a movie, which is what we did Wednesday afternoon.

We had wanted to see Interstellar, and found out it was playing at the Sparks Galaxy theaters right over next to Scheel's.  This theater is something new for us.  Each theater in the complex features power leather recliners, and you actually get to choose your seats at the time you purchase your tickets.....

Let the movie begin!

After watching a movie at this theater all other theaters will be a disappointment.  We loved the almost three hour movie, but be warned, it is very intense, and thought provoking.

After the movie we strolled over to O'Cleary's  for some appetizers and a couple of pints...

Recliner section

Bowling lanes

This is kind of a combination (as you can tell from the pictures above) Irish Pub, bowling alley, and pool hall.  A very cool place.  They have a section of recliners sitting in front of several large screen TV's where can watch sports in comfort, a bar, a bowling alley, and a pool room.  Yelp only gives them 3.5 stars, but we would come in at a solid 4.

We retired home for the evening where I began the installation of our new DirecTV standard receiver that is replacing the one that went bad last Friday, and then we watched a couple of movies on Netflix and were in bed by 2:30 am....trying to keep our night time cycle alive!

And our TBT (Throwback Thursday) picture for today....our son, Chris, was 6, and our daughter, Meredith, was 1 month old....we only had 2 kids then.

TBT - At the beginning of our first motorhome trip in 1978

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RNO1 - Day 10 - Workin' and Sleepin'

As was the case two years ago at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY there is a point you come to where you feel like all you are doing is working and sleeping, and that point has once again arrived for me.  Essentially, here is our schedule on work days.....

--At 3 pm I begin thinking I have only 2 hours until we get in the car to go to work
--At 4 pm on work 'days' we eat 'dinner'
--At 4:30 we get dressed
--At 5 pm we are in the car on our way to RNO1
--At 5:30 we sit down in the break room waiting to go clock in
--At 5:55 we clock in and proceed to the 'Stand Up' area for announcements and stretching
--At approximately 6:15 we head to our designated 'stowing' areas for our night's work
--At 10 pm we take a 15 minute break
--At 12:30 am we have lunch for 30 minutes
--At 3 am we take a 15 minute break
--At 4:30 we clock out for the night, and drive home arriving just after 5 am
--From 5 am to around 6 am we unwind then go to bed for about 6 hours (for me)
--At Noon I am usually up drinking coffee and writing my blog

So essentially here is the breakdown......21 hours of either thinking about working, getting ready to work, driving 60 miles round trip, actually working, and then sleeping (for me) and just about 3 hours of consciousness when I'm not thinking about Amazon before it starts all over again.  On our days off, such as today, I get up at Noon, and before I know it the night has arrived, and I am once again thinking about work the next day....even on days when I am not working.  Hence this vague feeling begins to settle in that all I am doing is working and sleeping, or thinking about working.  This time around, however, I feel more detached from those feelings.....kind of like I am a third party observer of someone else's life....weird, isn't it? Time flies by.....almost like I am watching a TV episode where it only takes 22 minutes to see an entire day pass by in someone's imaginary life.  When we walk out the Nevada entrance to Amazon at 4:30 it does not feel like 10.5 hours has just elapsed....it feels much shorter.

Do I regret our decision (I use 'our' because it was a joint decision, not unilateral) to work at Amazon again?  Not one bit......this is a short term obligation, and the reward is several thousand dollars flowing into our savings.  After we are released sometime just before Christmas we will have no work obligations again until May, or June, and it can hardly be called work to spend the summer at South Lake Tahoe with good friends, with more money flowing into our accounts, as well as making new memories, and more good times with good friends.  We have about 5 more weeks of mostly 5 day work weeks after this Saturday, so that means we have been here almost 3 weeks now.....my, oh my now the time flies by!

During our first 'Stand Up'  at 6 pm it was announced that those on the night shift will not have to report for work until 10 pm on Thanksgiving.....woohoo! That will give us more time with my cousin and uncle as well as their families.

Our Tuesday night/Wednesday morning shift was rather routine.....we are both settling into our 'stowing' jobs quite nicely, and making some new friends along the way.

Thanks for stopping by!