Census foul-up

Well, I got my statement from my first week in WV. And they are trying to short me. My pay rate is not what was promised and my per diem is not what was promised. I called the Detroit office and was refered to the Columbus office which sent me to the Charleston office where they took a message and promised to call back. No call back yet. If I don't hear back tomorrow I will stop mucking about with regional offices and simply call the main office in DC. I have found over the years that the only way to deal with trouble on a local level is to go as high as I can in the organization. What are they going to do? Fire me? Mess up my pay?

Good news is that son #1 got the news that he passed all of the parts of his Ohio Graduation Test on his first try. Now all he has to do is finish high school.

cat addicts and stuff

It looks like we have a new cat. A large tortoseshell has been hanging around for a while and has just waltzed into the house like she lived there. She is clearly accustomed to living with people and gets along with the other cats. I think she is pregnant but may just be fat. However I can not find any trace of a scar from neutering. If she is pregnant this willingness to move in may reflect a desire to make a home before the kittens arrive. She may be from a home in the area or might have been dumped.

There are troubles over my pay from the Census. I was told, just before I left WV, that my pay rate was not what I had been quited when I was recruited for the job. And the per diem was lower. I have not gotten a statement yet. I have had checks deposited in my bank account but unless I can see the deductions I can't figure out what I was paid. I also heard that the difference was supposed to be made up by the Ohio office but things are pretty much shut down in Ohio and I can't find anyone to answer the phone when I call.

I have migrated to Ubuntu on my laptop. Thanks to Jrittenhouse for the CD. Vista was a pain to use and kept acting up. So far I am finding Ubuntu much easier and cleaner to run.

I had a call today letting me know that the mother of Kathy Gallagher, a friend of mine, died this morning. I am at the age where the parents of my friends are passing and some friend are too.

I may be out of WV but I plan to write a little more about my time there. Too many good snippet not to pass on.

From the Western Land of the Virgin Queen Through Penn's Woods and Over the Shining River to Home

Whew. The subject line sounds like the end of an epic fantasy cycle. Suffice to say that I have come home from WV, via Pennsylvania, and am resting up. We still had 3% left to do but HQ was not clear on what that means. Was an estimated 3% of the houses left to be counted, were 3% of the Assigned Areas (a division used by the Census) left, or was 3% of the land left to be checked? I was offered a chance to go south towards Beckley and beyond but declined. I was worn out and did not want to venture into the southlands and have to spend time dealing with the clan structure all the time. (Say, aren't you my 3rd cousin's second wife's 5th cousin's 1st cousin?) Besides, I think most of what was left was in the areas that had flooded and I did not want to face more washed out roads.

I will be posting some snippits and observations and maybe a link to some pictures later. First I have to rest up a bit and deal with stuff at home.

Good to be back.

a day lost in the fog

Today was a loss. We finished the assigned areas yesterday and sat around for a few hours this morning waiting for new assignments. Eventually we were sent out to the general location only to find, once there, that we were assigned to a place over an hour's drive to the south. Rain and fog most of the day. Ever drive a WV freeway with 100 feet visibilty over a mountain? Better than having an aerobics class to get your heart rate up.

More rain and fog once I got to my area. I started at one end and spent 45 minutes getting to the top of a ridge to verify one address and, once there, finding that the narrow, twisting, one-land rutted road I had driven was not the only way there. it was the only way on the map I had and the nice, 2-lane paved road on the other side of the ridge was not listed. I then found that someone else had worked the rest of the addresses I was assigned. I checked other blocks and they were being worked. It looks like 8 or 9 people had all been assigned the same area to work and none of us knew about the others. And my cell phone could not get a signal. My hand-held computer was likewise out of touch. I could have tried finding a pay phone but since all I had were cell numbers I figured that it would fruitless to try.

Tonight we are going to have a meeting and see who is doing what. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

On the other hand, I did get some nice pictures. If you like foggy ridges, foggy fields, steep drops and rocky streams with fog.

still in the hills

I am still in WV, doing Census work. We wrap-up soon. Maybe. I went home for the long weekend, came back Tuesday and will be getting overtime today. Those 12 hour days add up fast.

Storms yesterday and a lovely rainobw, reaching from ridge to ridge, afterwards. I got photos but can't post them yet. I can't connecto the the free wireless at teh hotel due to problems with their equipment and am reduced to using the free computer in the lobby to post. Lots of folks want to use it so I don't have much time on it.

I did have the FBI called about me by a suspecious person. They did not think the Census was real and checked with a friend of theirs while I was on the porch. They weere a bit upset to find that I was authentic.

Fun in the mountain state

Lots of fun down here in WV. Yesterday a woman warned me about the cottonmouth snakes around her house. Today a fellow worker seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. (I think she lost or turned off her cell phone and has not checked her messages on her hand held computer, but our boss worries.) And I hit my 40 hours for the week at lunch today and am on overtime for the rest of the week. (10 hours Sunday & 12 each on Monday and Tuesday. It adds up fast.)

I am in WV because they are behind due to the flooding. In fact, 2 counties (Mingo and Wyoming) are now federal diaster areas and the National Guard is telling people who do not live there to get out. Usually they prefer to have local folks do what I am doing, but they do not have enough people to do it.

I have been stuck on dirt roads, offered all sorts of drinks (some not entirely legal), lectured about how bad the local government is, and worn out each day. I have also found some roads out in the sticks where locals told me not to go. As in YOU. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. GO. THERE. I think the meth labs, pot farms, stills and maybe the remains of the last couple of census workers can be found down these roads. I always follow local advice in these matters and accept their reports of "no house there". The other folks from Ohio have been a bit freaked by the locals. One of my co-workers actually ran into a guy sitting on his porch playing the music from "Deliverance" on a banjo. I am just glad she never saw the awful "Final Destination", a film about WV cannibals.

There have been a lot of big, new houses atop ridges. Land is cheap but putting a 6,000 square foot house in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road that washes out with every spring and is impassable with every heavy snowfall strikes me as a bit odd. Great views but I think being stuck there, or at work, in bad weather is not a fun feature.

Tick, tick, tweezers

Part of yesterday evening was spent in tick removal. A few members of the crew came back from the field, changed clothes and found unwanted passengers. Enough people had tweezers, and experience in tick removal, to handle things. This is not something covered in the handbook.

I have been told I can stay for the duration. They need the people. I plan to be here through Thursday. If need be I can return the next week.

(no subject)

I saw a sign today on a minor road advertising ramps. And, while address canvssing, I made a friend for life when I noticed a little old lady's ramp hoe on her porch. She has about 100 square feet of ramps in her garden. We swapped recipes and she told me everything I needed to know about the addresses of the folks in the area. I also endered myself to a crusty old guy at the end of a dirt road when I commented on his ramp patch. He told me about 15 houses on my list that no longer existed, having burned down back in the 1930s. This saved me the effort of trying o find them. Allium Triconium fans have a powerful a

I spoke the language and did not need any shots...

I am in WV right now, doing address canvassing for the Census. It is, in theory, what I did in OH. In practice it is harder. Today I was working some semi-rural areas and spent a lot of time trying to find houses, and roads, that no longer exist. And I spent 3 hours stuck in the muddy ruts of a seldom used road. (It looked OK for 100 yards or so but once around the first bend it went down hill in literal and figurative ways.) You know things are bad when it takes 3 calls from the tow truck driver to find the road you are on.

I had a meeting at 8 AM, headed out and did not get back to my hotel until 9 PM. It was a tough day but I did see a lot of beauty. Light rain and rainbows on the ridges, lush greenery, tranquil streams, deer, wild turkeys and, as I was heading back, mist rising from the hills. Tomorrow I will finish my assigned area and get another one. Hopefully I will keep off the rutted dirt roads nobody can find.

migration pending

I have been having trouble with Vista. Crashes, failure to identify my wireless card, printer woes and all the other stuff the fine family of Microsoft products is know for. Accordingly, I am moving to Ubuntu. Right now I am making sure I have all my data backed up (multiple times). Then I will remove some junk from the hard drive, defrag it, and install Ubuntu. I think I will need a few days before I am comfortable with the change and up to speed with the new OS, but I expect to have fewer woes in the future.

I have been using the Windows versions of Open Office and The Gimp for some time, as well as Firefox and Thunderbird. It will be nice to be able to play with them in their native operating system. I think they will be a bit better that way.

I am currently waiting for a Ubuntu CD from a friend. I could download it but I am having troubles with my connection to the web. It is unstable and not suitable for much of anything but email, especially downloads.