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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Contrasts

Saturday was the beginning of our 'longish' weekend.....we don't go back to work until Monday night, so it feels kind of like a 3 day weekend.  I know I have been tending to repeatedly compare our Fernley Amazon experience with our Campbellsville Amazon experience.  Frankly, the contrasts between the two are so dramatic and my feelings of elation over our current experience compel me to talk about them.  

Don't get me wrong.....overall we enjoyed our prior Amazon experience.  First of all, the Camperforce staff in Campbellsville was wonderful from beginning to end.  We would see Kelly and Jen (the HR Camperforce folk) walking the floor making contact with us during our night shift, even though their normal work hours did not encompass the night shift hours.....that impressed me.  They were very encouraging, and concerned about how we were doing, and that support, and concern helped us get through the first few weeks.  Here we have not seen our main contact, Joni, since our daytime training shift back on November 4th.  However, overall, I would say the Fernley Camperforce Scouts (Bruce and Art) have been wonderful at keeping up with us and checking on us several times a week during our night shift. Bruce and Art are Camperforce folk like us, and do relate to our experience much more directly.

In Campbellsville we were dealing with a 1 million square foot building with four story pick mods.....here in Fernley we are dealing with a 750,000 square foot warehouse with 3 story pic mods.  It has been easier to get familiar with a smaller facility more quickly.....in Campbellsville I felt 'lost' the first 3+ weeks, and had to keep asking directions.  Here in Fernley that 'lost' feeling was gone after our first few days..

Of course, the biggest difference I see every night is our actual jobs......we were 'pickers' in Campbellsville, and here in Fernley we are 'stowers'.  I don't think one job is necessarily harder than the other....both involve a lot of walking....picking a little more.  I think 'stowing' is a better fit for the way my brain works, and, therefore, I feel much more comfortable and less bored than I did as a 'picker'.  For me 'picking' was like looking for the proverbial 'needle in a haystack' a thousand times a night......here I am just looking for a space to 'stow' the item(s) in my hand.  On most nights those spaces are not as difficult to find as a 'needle in a haystack'.....I repeat.....most nights.  For what ever reason I do not get bored 'stowing', and was bored out of my freakin' mind 'picking'.   Still, I would not want to do either of those jobs on a full time, year round basis, but on a short term basis at Amazon I'll choose 'stowing' every time.

Obviously, there are many other jobs a Amazon, and picking and stowing are just two of them.  The other jobs available to Camperforce folk are 'packing' (boxing up purchased items for shipping) and ICQA......packing has no appeal to me whatsoever as you basically stand in one spot all night long doing what must be a boring, repetitive task.  In ICQA you are doing inventory control......taking items out of a bin, counting them, recording that result in your scanner, and then repacking the bin.....again, for me anyway, that seems like the ultimate boring job.

Of course, just like in Campbellsville, TLE is way better at this than I.  She has already won a gift card, and routinely appears on the 'All Star' list a few times a week.  I, however, have won 2 'perfect attendance' awards (as has TLE....after all, we ride together....lol).

Even though we do commute 60 miles round trip every night in contrast to our 5 minute walk to work in Campbellsville, we are happy with our choice to stay in Sparks for all the previously iterated reasons I have written about.  The biggest reason though, for me, is the lack of dirt, gravel, dust, pine needles, leaves, and sprinklers here.  The inside of the car and coach stay much cleaner now.

All that being said, I still look forward to our days off work, and Saturday was the first of what will feel like 3 days off, even though we do go back to work Monday at 6 pm.  As is my 'want' on Saturdays I watched a few NCAA football games......my USC Trojans played well thumping Notre Dame 49-14.....it wasn't really that close.  There was one upset seeing Ole Miss defeat Mississippi State which will most assuredly knock them out of the number 4 spot in the rankings.

Saturday felt like a 'let's got out to dinner' night so around 4 we headed out to Great Basin Brewing Company.....this time we went to the one just a few blocks from where we are living.  We actually liked this one better as it had more of a 'homey' feel, and was way less noisy than the South Reno one.  


Based on the beer flights we had sampled the prior time we both ordered the 'Outlaw Milk Stout'.....we added an appetizer of 'Willy Dillys'.....essentially deep fried dill pickles.......YUMMY!

'Willy Dillys'

For our main courses I ordered the Bacon, Beef and Barley Stew.....a perfect entree for a cold, blustery evening.  TLE ordered the 'Brueben'.....yes that is the correct spelling with a side of their turkey/rice soup.

We stayed up kind of late watching a couple of movies I had recorded.....'Ronin' (1998 with Robert De Niro, IMDB rating, 7.3 stars), and 'White House Down' (2013 with Jamie Foxx & Channing Tatum, IMDB rating 6.4 stars).......they were both interesting, but we were both glad we had not paid money to see them on the big screen.

We were in bed by 2 am........thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

RNO1 - Day 17 - Looking for a hole

Two years ago I had a lot to write about regarding our daily experiences at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY......the aches and pains, the boredom, the 12 hour work days, the 6 day work weeks, how slowly the work hours passed, etc.  This time around, for me at any rate, there are no aches and pains.......there really is no boredom......time seemingly flies......there are no 6 day work weeks, or 12 hour work days.....only the occasional 5 day work week.  It's all good.......well, it's almost all good.....if only we could escape from the Utah 'Pick Mod', and specifically, if only we could escape from the second floor of that 'Pick Mod' where we stowed 3 of the 4 days we worked this week....the 4th day we were on the third floor of Utah.  I've had this recurring dream that I can't find a 'hole' in which to stow a large, heavy item.......no, wait, that's not a dream......it's a wide awake nightmare that is revisited by TLE and I every night we are assigned to stow in 'Utah'.  "Heavy" items can only be stowed in bins that are at what I could call 'waist level', which means the number of bins available for heavy items is reduced by 60%.  Amazon does not want their workers bending over too far to 'pick' heavy items, or reaching too high to do the same......it is a practical precaution designed to avoid injury. The problem is there are not many 'holes' left to stow anything large, or small, let alone large and heavy......like toaster ovens on the second floor of the Utah 'Pick Mod'.  Last night (really about 3:30 am) I had four large, heavy toaster ovens to stow......after wandering up and down every row of the 2nd floor over the course of 45 minutes I was only able to find one hole large enough (and I had to spend time re-arranging the bin to make it fit) to stow one of the toaster ovens.  I finally took the remaining three toaster ovens back to the staging area and 'dropped' them, advising the 'Problem Solver' they were unstowable.....at least at that time, and picked up another cart.

I know........in the over all scheme of things this complaint is quite minor......it's not like we'll be doing this for the rest of our lives, right?  There are only about 13-15 work days left for us over the next three weeks, and I know we'll suck it up and just keep plodding up and down the countless aisles in Utah doing what we can do to stow the unstowable.......that is what we get paid for after all.

Another big difference between our 11 week experience in Campbellsville, KY and our 7 week stint in Fernley, NV is it has been a little more difficult to make new friends.  Most of the people in our shift (6) arrived here in early October, and most of them are staying in RV parks in Fernley.  We have begun to make a few friends in spite of it all, but our main focus has just been mostly working, driving back and forth, eating, resting and sleeping.

On the weather front it has dipped back into the 50's, and has become windy the past two days.  The weather guessers predict that we'll have rain several of the next 5 days......just hope it doesn't freeze.  I was telling TLE as we drove home Friday morning that every day we can make that 60 mile round trip drive with no ice, or snow on the road is a blessing, and so far we have gotten through a month with good driving conditions.  Nevertheless, the next 5 days could see our luck change.

We're off now until Monday night at 6 pm....probably our last 'long' weekend, but that really depends on whether, or not they give us an additional 5 day week after the one next week.  Frankly, we'll be quite content if we only work 4 days a week the remaining two weeks after next week.

Life is good....we're healthy, warm, and dry.....thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 28, 2014

RNO1 - Day 16 - TD and HP!

Worlds are colliding as I write.....TLE was up an hour before me on Thanksgiving.....for me this is very disorienting.  I am used to having the 'place' to myself for an hour, or so, but there she was sitting in her recliner reading a book when I got up around  11 am.  I sometimes forget what a 'creature of habit' I am until I am reminded by something like this.  I think it took me a good hour to re-orient myself.  

One of the benefits of spending weeks in one place as we are now is the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and loved ones, and it is that one thing that has been the primary motivating factor for our last few sojourns.  

We headed over to the home of Chris, Cousin Lois' son, for Turkey Day (TD) dinner around 3 pm.....everyone was there....Uncle Bob, Aunt Jane, Lois, John, and Chris' kids, Bailey and Brady.  John, the chef of this clan, was responsible for most of the food we ate......the fare, in my opinion, was very non-traditional, but right up my alley.....our appetizer was chips with great salsa, and bean dip.  The star of the dinner was braised beef ribs that were so tender.....omg!

Back row from left to right: Lois, Aunt Jane, Uncle Bob, John, Bailey, 
Chris & Front row left to right: Moi and Brady

In all we spent 3 more hours with relatives who arefast  becoming good friends again.  Both Elaine and I are so grateful for the time we have been able to spend with then, and are excited that we still have three more weeks to get together a few more times.


Of course, there is always our next shift at RNO1 looming out there, and Thanksgiving day was no exception, but there was a wrinkle.....instead of our normal start time of 6 pm, we did not have to report for duty until 10 pm this day.  On top of that we get Holiday Pay (HP) which results in us getting paid for 10 hours even though we only worked 6.  After we got home from our holiday dinner we both took long naps, and then were in the car headed east to Fernley about 9 pm.  Our shortened shift passed quickly and we were on our way back home by 4:30 am.

I'm sure many of you have noticed the falling gas and diesel prices these past three months.  When we are rolling our wheels the cost of diesel is very important to us.  The lowest retail price we have paid for diesel in almost 3 years was in El Paso, TX the first month we were on the road back in February of 2012 at $3.59.  When I went to gas up the VW the other day I noted that the diesel price had fallen to $3.56 at the local Maverick station, and I have seen it as low as $3.49 at a Sinclair just down McCarran Blvd. south of I-80.   With a barrel of oil closing at just over $66/barrel today I would expect that within the next few weeks we may see diesel at under $3.00/gallon!  A drop of $1.00/gallon saves us $180 when we fill up our 180 gallon tank.....that is significant!


The weather continues to be much warmer these past few days.....when we got off work at 4:30 am it was 54 degrees........quite the contrast to a week ago when it was just 26 degrees at the same time.'

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Being Thankful

One of the down sides of working at Amazon this year is we are far away from home for Thanksgiving.....this time last year we were arriving at my daughter Kate's home for Thanksgiving dinner, and spending time with kids and grandkids.  That has been the only time we have been home for Thanksgiving since 2011, and this year we find ourselves 500 miles from home once again.  In spite of that I am thankful for so much........


I am thankful that we do have family here in Sparks to share this special day with, and in a few hours we will be with them doing just that.  I am thankful it has been much warmer the last two days, including today (Thanksgiving) when the 'guessed' high will be 68 degrees!  I am thankful my body is reacting well to the rigors of the Amazon experience this time around.  I am so thankful for my wonderful friend, partner, and wife Elaine who is sharing this nomadic journey with me.  I am thankful for falling oil prices (down to $69/barrel this morning) that will make our travels the next few months a little less expensive.  I am thankful for all the wonderful nomadic friends we have made along the road.  I am thankful I don't have to go to work until 10 pm tonight.  I am thankful my mother, Virginia, is still going strong at 85.  I am thankful I have, for the first time in decades, a good relationship with all my siblings.  I am thankful our five children are thriving, and that they genuinely like, and love each other.  I am thankful we will be home for Christmas.  I am thankful for all the enduring friendships we have with many other Newell owners.....we knew we were buying a well made coach, but we did not realize how many new friends would come along in the package.  I am thankful that Friday is payday once again.  Of course, I could add to this list endlessly, as there is so much for which to be thankful.

Wednesday seemed so short......we both got up between Noon and 1 pm.  We had only two modest goals for Wednesday....get our collective hair cut, and go to Trader Joe's down in south Reno.  Around 2:30 we got our acts together and headed for the local Supercuts, which is just a few blocks from the park....we were in and out in less than 30 minutes....then we headed for Fuddrucker's for a rare hamburger.  I had forgotten how good their burgers are!  

Then we were off driving south on McCarran Blvd. to Trader Joe's as the sun began to set......time is flying by quickly and week four at RNO1 will soon be in the books with only 3 weeks to go.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

RNO1 - Day 15 - Running downhill

After our Tuesday night/Wednesday morning shift we have officially reached the half way mark of our time here in Sparks, and now we we are 'running downhill' to the completion of our contract with Amazon and our launch date for our dash south to be home  for Christmas.  I'm sitting here looking at the calendar and find it hard to believe Monday will be December 1st.....in the last six months our home on wheels has moved just a shade over 1,000 miles.....our slowest pace since we began our nomadic journey almost 3 years ago....in fact, this Sunday will mark the beginning of our 34th month of that journey, and 46th month living full time in our Newell Coach.  Compared to the journey's of many of our nomadic friends we are still just 'babes in the woods' when it comes to this lifestyle, but it feels like we are 'light years' away from that first day on the road back in February of 2012.  Neither of us can imagine living in a 'sticks and bricks' home again, and, in fact, it gives me a slight case of claustrophobia just thinking about the possibility.  It does not matter where we are, because when we close the curtains every night we are home....it seems so normal and natural to be living in a little over 200 square feet with occasional changes in scenery.  

Tuesday was as warm as it has been for a couple of weeks.....mid 60's during the day which is the equivalent to short pants and t-shirt weather for me.  I had to run over to the local Maverick fuel station to put in a fresh supply of premium unleaded in the VW, and just enjoyed being able to stand out side without a coat on while I pumped the gas.....it doesn't take much to make me happy.....:-)

Our night shift at RNO1 was uneventful....both TLE and I were assigned once again to stow in the Utah Pick Mod, only this time I got to work all night on the 3rd floor.....a new location for me within Utah, and I did like it.  TLE was on the ground floor all night.  We took our two 15 minute breaks in the 'Utah' break room, and lunch in the 'Nevada' break room.  The overnight temps got down to 32, but we escaped any frost on the windshield.

So, three and a half weeks to go in our Amazon 'stint' as TLE refers to it......I wish I had more to offer about Tuesday, but that is about all there was to it.

Thanks for stopping by!

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!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

RNO1 - Day 9 - MOT, VTO & VOT

We found out last Friday that this week we will have our first Mandatory Over Time (MOT) day this coming Saturday (11/22)......there is also VTO (Voluntary Time Off), and VOT (Voluntary Over Time)......neither of which we plan to accept this year.....when we were in Campbellsville we took everything, including the VOT 6th work day, as well as the extra 90 minutes......ultimately it was exhausting to work 6 straight days, and be on your feet for 12 hours, so this time around we decided in advance we would not do that again.  At any rate, this week we will work our first 5 day week with each day being 10 hours.  

Monday I was up by 8:40 am, but TLE did not appear on the salon area of the coach until close to Noon time, so I had the 'place' all to myself for several hours.

Sunday I discovered the fluorescent light over my work bench had quit working.....well, at least the ballast had quit working, so Monday I decided to make a quick run over to Lowe's to pick up a new fixture.....why not replace the defective ballast you ask?  Well, I would have, except Lowe's did not have a replacement ballast in stock, which I looked upon as 'serendipity'......serendipity?  Yep, I was never quite happy with the 2 foot long fixture I had originally installed over the work bench area 3 years ago, and took this opportunity to buy a 4 foot fixture, thereby providing much more illumination over the full length of the 4 foot workbench.  Then I went online to order a new ballast, which I found on eBay. When the new ballast comes in for the old 2 foot fixture I'll take that fixture and replace the rear fixture in the trailer, which I have also not like for a long time......so it's all good!  I had the new fixture installed within an hour of returning home, and I am loving the result!

Other than my brief foray into the cold outdoor temperatures to acquire the new light fixture I remained inside all day reading a good book, and napping......the weather continues to be very cold......of course, I know there are those of you out there who live full time in much colder regions of our great country who refer to this as 'short sleeve weather'........not I though.....I am a SoCal boy, and when it gets into the 50's I put a coat on, and stop wearing 'flip flops'.....when it gets into the 20's I put pants on, and I wonder while the hell I'm still where it gets this cold when I have wheels underneath my home.

We left for work at our usual 5 pm time, and arrived at RNO1 around 5:35....there was a little traffic on the eastbound side of the Interstate, but that is why we leave an hour before our start time.  Once again the night shift literally 'flew' by.....I know I have said it before, but I must reiterate once again that I love the spacing of the breaks and lunch time.....once you get past the first 4 hours the rest of the night seems like you are running downhill, and just really goes by quickly.  Another good piece of news is that neither TLE, nor I are having any 'barking feet' this year.  We are now in our 3rd week, and I rarely think about the condition of my feet.....they just do not bother me at all!  Just as in Campbellsville it tends to get quite warm inside the Fulfillment Center and I do only wear shorts, shoes and a t-shirt.....I tend to run 'hot'....I see many others wearing hoody sweatshirts, and wonder how they can stand wearing so many clothes.

We were home around 5:10 am, but did not go to bed until after 6 am.....we watched a couple of Fraser's on Netflix, and they were literally laugh outloud hilarious.....I love going to bed with a smile on my face.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's talk about the weather.....

Yup, indeed, let's talk about the weather......it's not raining......it's not snowing......it's just plain cold!  When I arose this morning (Monday) it was just 22 degrees......that was at 8:15 am, so I can only imagine what the low was last night.  Right now all three electric heaters, plus the electric heater in the water bay are humming along chewing up about 40 amps of electric power......thank goodness I have a water bay heater, and thank goodness I have access to 100 amps of electricity!  The forecast seems to indicate the lows for the next 10 days will be mostly in the high 20's and low 30's with a few days up to high 30's.....feels like winter has arrived here at 4400' elevation.

I had sort of planned to take a bike ride Sunday, but with the day time temps barely surpassing 40 degrees by late afternoon TLE an I opted for indoor activities which mostly consisted of me watching NFL football, and TLE reading, plus at some point early afternoon she actually got dressed, got in the car and went shopping.  I got out side one time.....that was to go into the trailer and do my semi daily workout, which takes about 30 minutes, but that was the sum total of outdoor activity for me.

Since we arrived November 1st the weather has actually been pretty moderate with lows in the high 30's, and low 40's, but the past 5 days things have gotten much colder, and has been a constant reminder to me why we prefer to live where it doesn't get below 50 degrees.  Nevertheless, it does become necessary on occasion to spend time in weather that may not completely suit your fancy, such as now.  Some of the money we earn here at Amazon will go towards replacing our 'drive' tires when we get home to SoCal.  The rear tires are now 6 years old, and it is time they were retired from service.  And there are other things that need to be done service wise......have the brakes checked, lube the drive train, change the oil, change the filters (oil, tranny, fuel and air).  Anyway, short term jobs like this help remove these types of expenses from our regular operating budget giving us more disposable income for the rest of the time when we are rolling the wheels, plus put a little into savings.

There is nothing else to report.....it was just that kind of day.....a kind of day when you and your spouse comment frequently about the weather.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Saturday, how I love thee......

Saturday was, as one would expect if one follows this blog on a regular basis......spent watching college football, and then many more episodes of The Blacklsit.  The weather outside was not conducive to outdoor activities with temps in the low 50's, and a stiff wind blowing most of the day so we spent the bulk of the day indoors with our feet up and just enjoying not being at work.  We have now finished our first two weeks at Amazon (RNO1) with approximately 5 weeks remaining and, frankly, kind of enjoying it.

Around 5 pm we decided to go out for dinner and chose to 'sup' at Great Basin Brewing Company located in the South Reno area.  My cousin, Lois, and her son Chris had both recommended, knowing our fondness for micro breweries, that we check out their brews.  As it turns out I had already had one of their beers, Ichthyosaur IPA, or "Icky" when we were in South Lake Tahoe this past summer.  It was one of the first IPA's I had liked.  Well, as you can imagine, that was one of my choices when I ordered a 'flight' of their beers.

My 'flight' choices

TLE's 'flight'

After sampling 6 of their beers I ordered a pint of the 'Outlaw Milk Stout' to go with my meal, Sonoran Style Fish Tacos......not as good as those we loved at Tony's Crab Shack in Bandon, but very, very good, nevertheless.  TLE ordered the Honey Jalapeno Chicken Salad.  We both enjoyed our entrees, and the beer.....Yelp gives them 3.5 stars on 211 reviews, but we would give them a solid 4 stars.  For whatever reason we did not realize there was a Great Basis Brewing just a few blocks from us here in Sparks....that one gets 4 stars on 142 reviews.

We were back home by 7:30 where we watched the end of the FSU vs. Miami Hurricanes football game won, in the end, by FSU by 4 points....we really thought the unranked Hurricanes would hang on to win over #3 FSU.

We ended up watching a few more episodes of The Blacklist......yeah, go ahead and say it......we're hooked!  I finally went to bed about 1:30 am, and TLE followed a little while later...we're trying to avoid confusing our 'body clocks' too much.

It was so nice to just sit and enjoy 'real Saturday'......while we are working at Amazon there will be very few 1st, 2nd, 4th, or 5th Saturdays.....just 3rd Saturday and Real Saturday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

RNO1 - Day 8 - TGIF!!

I woke up Friday entirely too early.....10:45 am.....I went to bed around 7 am.....this is not good......3 hours and 45 minutes of sleep.  In order to console myself I thought back to our Campbellsville days when this happened on a regular basis   After a while I became philosophical about it.  At some point I figured I would get tired enough that I would sleep, and eventually I did.  Another interesting thing I found out back then was that I could get by for extended periods of time with 5, or 6 hours of sleep.....sometimes less.  Well, Friday.....and seriously, thank goodness is was Friday......all I had to do was get through Friday night and I would have a few days to catch up on my sleep with actual sleep and naps.


We woke up to a partially cloudy, wind swept day, and it was beautiful, even if it was viewed through sleep deprived eyes.  Ironically I tried to take a nap, but sleep was illusive, and before I knew it 5 pm, our departure time, was looming and it was time to get ready to drive to Fernley.  TLE did make a very good dinner of Chicken Taco soup chased with cheese bread.....yum!

TLE and I were assigned to work in the 'Utah' side of the building, which is where we have both spent a lot of time.  We found out pretty quickly that the 'ICQA' (Inventory Control and Quality Assurance) people had been busy during the day straightening the bins out, and creating more space to 'stow' the stuff that keeps coming at us hour after hour, night after night......just like the U.S. mail.

One thing I forgot to mention is that after years of using the same type of Motorola scanner.....large, heavy, and a devourer of batteries (usually I would have to change batteries at our 'lunch break' because one battery would only make it about 8 hours, Amazon has switched to a smaller, lighter Motorola unit that will run all night using only about half the power of one battery.  They scan faster, and from almost any angle.......and mostly importantly......I like them a lot.  Many of the workers continue to use the older, heavier, clunky ones, but not I....and not TLE.  The old ones will go away in a few days, so I'm glad I switched over the first day they were available, and have worked my way through the learning curve.

Once again Friday night (well really Saturday morning at 12:30 am) Amazon treated us to a catered Thanksgiving dinner in the break room......nothing like stocking up on tryptophan when you need to stay awake, huh?  Especially when one gets only 3 hours and 45 minutes of sleep the day before.  Needless to say I drank a few cups of coffee on our breaks, and during our 'lunch' break.

We were home by 5:15, but didn't go to bed right away....we watched a couple more episodes of a TV show we were kind of late to the party on.....'The Blacklist'.  I am really captivated by this show.....thank goodness for Netflix, which enables us to go back to season one and work our way forward to the present!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 14, 2014

RNO1 - Day 7 - Pay Day and TBT

I have mentioned several reasons already why I like our stint here at Amazon here in Fernely, NV much better than 2012, and, as of Friday, there is one more reason I like this time better.....we get paid every single Friday, instead of every other Friday.  When you begin to see money flowing into your account on a weekly basis it makes it a little bit easier to be awake at "Twenty-five, or Six To Four" (a well known Chicago, the band, song) in the morning.....especially this Friday morning, since it was our first pay day. Amazon is quite efficient in this department.....we only filled out our 'direct deposit' paperwork last Tuesday morning, and there was our paycheck, in our checking account a little after midnight Friday morning.....but I get way ahead of myself once again....what happened to the Thursday half of Day # 7 at Amazon....or even better what went on Thursday?

There is not much to report about the early part of Thursday other than it rained for about an hour, or so in the early AM hours.....quite a surprise.....I got up around 9 am, since I had gone to bed about 11 pm Wednesday night.....TLE stayed up late reading to keep her body clock on 'Shift 6 time', so she did not get up until around Noon.  It was time to empty the black tank.....oh, I know, it could have gone a couple more days, but why take a chance on forgetting to do it, and then realize it's over flowing....not a pleasant thought.  I usually make a point dumping it when it hits 3/4's full.  As I think back to Thursday that seems to be the most noteworthy thing I accomplished......the biggest thing missing from Thursday was my daily 'nap'......I just forgot to sit down and relax.

Two years ago TLE and I both heard our feet 'barking' at us for the first three weeks in Campbellsville, but this time around neither of us is having any foot pain whatsoever.  Having the properly sized footwear makes a big, big difference, and probably not walking 10-12 miles per night is the other half of the 'no foot pain' equation.  

We left for work at our usual 5 pm, and were in the break room on the Nevada side of the building by 5:35 getting our 'game faces' on for day # 7 at RNO1.  TLE and I were both assigned to 'stow' on the Utah side of the massive Fernley Fulfillment Center, but she was on the third floor, whilst I was on the first floor.  This made it easy to take our 10 pm break together.  The first four hour stretch of our shift seems to pass by pretty quickly, then the next stretch until lunch at 12:30 am is only 2 hours and fifteen minutes.  After lunch it is only 2 hours until our 3 am break, then our last stretch until quitting time is only 1 hour and 15 minutes......it feels like we are 'running downhill' once we get to the first break, and the time just seems to melt away....another big contrast to our 'picking' days in Campbellsville where the hours seemed to pass every so slowly.

I noticed it was quite a bit warmer on the Utah side Thursday night/Friday morning, and when we exited the building at 4:30 we were not met by a blast of near freezing air....it was actually almost 50 degrees!

We were home a little after 5 am......day 7 at RNO1 is now in the books, and we eagerly await day # 8 before being off once again until Monday evening!

Thought I would start adding a 'Throw Back Thursday' (TBT) picture every Thursday, and here is a picture of our first RV...a 1970 VW 'Westy'....taken sometime in the early 80's.....yep we were into bicycles then, too.

1970 VW 'Westy'

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Donut Holes, UDP and MIA

Those 4 day shifts at Amazon which have a day off sandwiched in between day 2 and day 3 are known affectionately as the "donut hole shifts"......shift 6, our shift, is one of those donut hole shifts.  We work two days, then have off one day (Wednesday for us), then work two more days, and then have off two days more.....at first we did not think we would like that, but in retrospect we love it now that we have experienced our first 'donut hole' day off....Wednesday was our first "donut hole" off day, and what a day it was!

As I wrote previously, this past Saturday night we had dinner with our nomadic friends (Chris, Cherie, Paul and Nina) who were spending a few days near Washoe Lake as they worked their way south to warmer climes.  During dinner I asked Chris about an article he and Cherie had published about the Assumption of Liability of an existing Unlimited Data Plan currently owned by someone else.  UDP's (Unlimited Data Plans) have no limit on the amount of 'data' you can use on your cell phone.  Most of the civilized world labors under monthly data limits.  When TLE and I first hit the road we had a total of 6 gigabytes of data we could use per month without paying overages.    That worked well for a long time, but technological advances also bring higher data use requirements, so we bumped our limit up to 10 gigabytes.  Then, when all the wireless companies went crazy a month, or so ago offering essentially twice the data for the same price we went a little crazy too and increased our monthly data allowance up to 40 gigabytes.

Before the past month I hardly gave a thought to our 'data usage', but was kind of aware that some people had a UDP plan (unlimited data plans)......no monthly limits on their data usage.  When I partially read Chris and Cherie's article explaining how one could assume someone else's UDP for probably less money per month than they were spending now for a limited plan I was intrigued.  So, in response to my question, Chris replies that through some sort of 'loophole' people have bought up a lot of these UDP plans and then were selling them off at a profit.  Unfortunately, Verizon (my carrier) had announced that as of 11/13/2014 the ability to take over these plans would end.  All four of our friends virtually insisted, in the most loving way possible, that I get one of these UDP's.  Of course, Saturday was November 8th, and it was a Saturday....so I had, essentially, 3 business days to get this done.

First I had to get my hands on an inexpensive Verizon smart phone to which the number could be assigned, then find someone who would either sell, or give me their UDP plan.  Naturally, since the drop dead date of the 13th was approaching, and all of these plans are on 2 year contracts these guys who had bought up these plans were under the gun to divest themselves of these plans, otherwise they would be on the hook for two years of payments for UDP plans they did not need.  As a result many of these guys were literally giving away the plans to anyone who would take them over.  I found such a guy on a site called Howard's Forums that had 7 to get rid of before the 13th, and was giving them away.  I sent him a text message saying I was interested in one of the seven, and he texted me back within 30 minutes.  By 2 pm we had reached a deal (free for me), he called Verizon to give them my information, and then I called them to take over the UDP line.....the process took about 40 minutes on the phone, but I got it done!


"UNLIMITED!" (NOT a screen shot of my phone)

The next step was for me to drive over to a local Verizon store to buy a "SIM" card for this new phone I had purchased on Amazon.com Sunday afternoon, and had received Tuesday morning, the 11th.  Since we had worked Monday night and I didn't get up until after 12 pm Tuesday there was no time to get this done before we left for work that night, so I had to get this all done on Wednesday, the 12th (our day off). I headed over to the Verizon store around 3pm, got the new "SIM" card installed (for free, also), and was home by 4:30.  The bottom line is we are now the proud owners of an Unlimited Data Plan, and our monthly costs for data will go down a net of $30.....I was paying an extra $70 for the 40 gigabyte plan, and now I'm paying $40 for the UDP!

I have to say that the entire process went way smoother than I thought it would.  The CSR lady at the Verizon Assumption of Liability desk was amazing.....she went above and beyond the call of duty to get my deal done.  Then the guy at the Verizon store gave me the "SIM" card for free.....he probably spent an hour getting it done, including downloading the software to my new phone that was needed.

In conclusion, I wish I had been more aware of what was going on sooner so I could have avoided all the last minute 'fun' I went through Wednesday, but I would recommend you subscribe to a website run by Chris and Cherie called RV Mobile Internet Resource Center and become an MIA (Mobile Internet Aficionado).  I wish I would have sooner....the article (to which I referred to above) Chris and Cherie published provided a step by step process for getting one of these lines....without that information this process would have been almost impossible for a neophyte like myself to figure out.  They continually update this site with all the current wireless internet news, and belonging will keep you abreast of all things wireless.  If you would like more information you can "click" on this link to go to the membership page that explains how the MIA program works.

So, that was our Wednesday.....well almost all of our Wednesday.....one of the benefits of owning a UDP plan is that you can stream content without fear of going over your data allowance.  The TV we bought last October has the ability to stream internet movies, and other internet content, but we had only been able to use that capability a few times when we had access to WiFi hotspots (not our own).  Well, we spent a few hours watching season one of the "Black List" (starring James Spader) using Netflix.  We had begun to watch near the end of the most recent season, but wanted to start from the beginning to catch up.....now we can!

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

RNO1 - Day 6 - Aqua

Just in case you thought it was a fluke, the answer is a resounding "NO!".  After 6 days working as a 'stower' in RNO1 I have to say I really, really like being a 'stower'.  I managed to sleep in until Noon, so that's 5.5 hours of sleep.  My first week, or two in Campbellsville I would be wide awake by 10:30, or 11, and then end up taking a long nap in the afternoon. To help motivate me to stay in bed I set the coffee to come on at Noon, and then it takes about 15 minutes for it to be ready to drink.  I know.....I could just get up and turn on the coffee maker manually, but hey, I'm a little bit lazy, and I really like to get up with the coffee already made.  

I woke up with a little bit of a headache and it took me a little while to remember it was not Monday anymore, but Tuesday afternoon!  That's one of the things about working the night shift at Amazon, or anywhere for that matter.....you go to work one day, and come home a day later....afternoon always feels like morning, and you catch yourself greeting people with "Good Morning.....errrr....Good Afternoon".  The nice thing about working nights is you get to see the sun every single day.....well at least every single day it is not raining, or cloudy.  When you work days this time of year the sun is still down when you leave for work (from Sparks) at 5 am in the morning, and it is way past sundown when you head home at 4:30 pm.  You begin to feel like a troll when you don't see the sun, and that is one of our primary motivating factors for choosing to work at night.

Tuesday Thanksgiving day came early at RNO1.....that is the day Amazon provides an 'all the trimmings' Thanksgiving dinner (for our 'lunch' break at 12:30 am), and gives us a 45 minute lunch, instead of a 30 minute lunch.  It is just one of their ways of saying 'Thank You' to their workers.

We left for work at our usual 5 pm time, and were walking through the front door of RNO1 at 5:35.  We can't clock in until 5:55 pm, so TLE and I usually hang out in the break room until about 10 til.  Once we clock in we head for the 'Stand Up' area to await the daily barrage of announcements, and then do our stretching exercises.  Believe it, or not, but I really enjoy these exercises, and they do loosen me up.  New this time around, for us, is a medication dispenser in the 'Stand Up' area with free pain killers (Alieve, Ibupropen, Tylenol, etc.).  This is a nice touch.....plus it's free!  I used to have to carry my own supply of Alieve, now I don't have to worry about remembering to bring my own!  

Another thing I'm doing differently this year is not carrying a water bottle around with me.....it's kind of a pain in the butt anyway, and often I end up losing the bottle because I set it down somewhere, and forget it.  There are water stations everywhere in Amazon with paper cups, so every hour or so I stop what I'm doing, walk a 100 feet to the nearest water station and get a drink of water.  This works better for me because it gives me 60 seconds to kind of clear my head, and then continue on stowing.....like a mini break every hour.

Tuesday night I was assigned to 'Aqua' to stow (on the Nevada side of the building).....say what?  Yep, here in Fernley Amazon designates the various 'pick mods' using colors instead of numbers.  Since 'Aqua' begins with an 'A' it is the first 'pick mod' as you work your way from west to east in the building, and so, naturally, 'Blue' is the next 'pick mod'......all the colors used are used in alphabetical order, which makes it more intuitive from my perspective, and way easier to find my way around.  Another thing I am liking about 'stowing' is you basically are assigned to a given 'pick mod' for your entire shift.....when we 'picked' we were all moving over the place continuously as the computer randomly assigned you your next item to 'pick', and a rarely spent more than 20 minutes in a given 'pick mod'.  By spending hours in one 'pick mod' I am getting to know my way around, and where the good areas to 'stow'.....the places that provide the most number of empty, or near empty bins to stow stuff in.

Since TLE was assigned to the Utah side of the building, which is quite a long walk from the break room on the Nevada side where I was taking my breaks, she took her two breaks there, and met me for our turkey dinner at 12:30 in the Nevada break room.

Once again the hours passed by quickly......my feet did not bother me, and my only side effect was my eyes were tired from staring at ASIN's all night.....ASIN stands for 'Amazon Standard Information Number.....their own unique 'bar code'......this is what we scan hundreds of times each night.

TLE met me at the exit just after 4:30, and we were in the VW headed home after our second 10 hour day.....Wednesday is our day off, and then we will work two more days (Thursday and Friday) before having the weekend off once again.....so far, so good.

Thanks for stopping by!