Performance Evaluation Meeting: The Six Month Job Review

It totally caught me off guard, I was asked to come to the office by my manager on Wednesday. He grabbed me just after my lunch break, asking me to droop everything and follow him for a meeting. Then he jokingly said, “this is your six-month review, and after this you can pack your things and just leave–just kidding, we need you” as he laughed. This was the second time that I was called into the office since I have been employed here, so I was feeling a little nervous as this was a one-on-one meeting, just me and the shift manager. All prior meetings from the supervisors and mangers were just informal talks out on the floor right where you are working.

The review was not what I expected. In fact, I was surprised at just how informal it was, comparing this event to all past employer’s that I have dealt with. Usually there would be more than one manger in the room, and the conversation short, right to the point, dealing with the positive points at the beginning, and then the rest of the time is spent hashing out what they feel are my “need improvement” areas of my performance. Generally I use these appraisals to determine what my evaluation is on the employer performance and conduct in return–once even using this evaluation as the documented reason for tendering my resignation–just flipping the title from employee to employer. It leaves an everlasting impression. This review was much more liberal than what I expected. It started out with a summary, or generalized overall standing, and then went into detail of what the employer was looking for in as employee performance covering a number of areas prime to my job position. Overall I was graded very well.

The language of the review was much more for me to grasp. First the title, “Performance and Development Summary,” which started to make senses once I started reading the document becuase it also focused on development in areas where the “employee” needs improvement as well. Next came the ratings columns that went as follows: “O” for Top Performer, “V” for Valued Associate, and “I” for Improvement Needed, not Above Average, Average, and Below Average. So again the language was quite different from what I expected. Lastly in the “Future Development” section of the review was where the employer focuses on areas where the employee needs to excel, and the overall rating. Oddly, what were my “Valued” points, were also included into the continuation rating, so for example, I was strong on seeking “leadership knowledge resources,” this also became a goal to set for stronger development looking forward. Also, learning the details of my job–an ongoing aspect–becuase I have not completed one full year, I have not experience many of the seasonal stock that we handle. These points are sort of moot becuase the first six month assessment could not possibly qualify for every account of a year round operation in retail, there is still much to learn.

Over all, I had all V’s with one O. The one point of praise ( the “O”) was given for my “Team Player” performance, as I am always willing to help when asked, for example, help with lifting heavy boxes, going out of may to help others, and communication. I am not making this up. Also included with this praise was my willingness to learn other departments and use of all tools and equipment on the work site, and keeping my work area clean, plus cleaning the building overall during clean-up.

So I was quite pleased with this performance evaluation. I thanked the manager, and the supervisor, and then asked, “I guess I can put my things back in my locker now, eh?” They laughed.

Mid December Frosty Photos

When I got home this morning the sky was crystal clear with only a few clouds towards the West. The stars looked so bright that I felt I could reach up and touch them. When dawn approached, I had my camera ready, waiting for the Sun to shine over the valley, to capture the morning frost. Everything was covered in a thin film of frosty ice crystals outside–it looked like an alien world.

Frost Dec 15 2014 - Weblog Image 01

The wood beams outside sparkled when the sunlight reflected from off of the frost layer.

Frost Dec 15 2014 - Weblog Image 02

Yes-I do not think the plants were enjoying the frost as much as I was today.

Frost Dec 15 2014 - Weblog Image 03

This was one of two bottles that were left out on the patio and had cracked from when we had the last major freeze up just two weeks ago. Oddly it was not that cold outside today, only minus 3C, but enough to keep everything coated with frost. The glass bottles were frosted–a neat effect when the sunlight lit them up. I could not get the camera to capture the sparkling effect of the sunlight being reflected from off of the frost, but as the sunlight warmed the glass up, the frost crystals started to change making the sparkling light dance over the surface.

Yay! Power is Back On After the Wind Storm

It was around 11:00pm when the power finally got knocked out, but the wind storm was roaring on since about 8:00pm before then. Our power was finally restored this morning around 7:00am, but it still flickers and dims for a few seconds at random intervals. I have not looked outside yet, but I can only imagine that there will be a little bit of a clean up to do. I just turned on my PC after my room warmed up, so I am still getting ready to start the day.

The winds from last night’s storm were unusually strong comparing to past storms I have seen here while living on the farm. Even with the hill that over shadows me to my West, the wind from this storm was coming straight from the South where I have little natural barriers of protection. Normally I escape storms that ether come from the East, or the North, but this storm ripped right on through my yard like I was in a wide open field. Trees snapping everywhere. All night I could hear branches hitting my roof, and the wind hammering my windows.

There was little I could do to keep my mind off of the storm as the power was out, and the battery on my “Ereader” only had enough power for about three hours, so I just laid down and listened. Sure I have a box load of candles and a bunch of battery powered lamps, but they hardly cast off enough light to read a paperback with (for me at least). What a night!

Media:

” BC Hydro power outages affect thousands after windstorm” Dec 12 2014.

Added: December 15 2014

Here are two photos I took while walking into town from the debris from the trees blown down from the wind storm.

Wind Storm of Dec 12 2014 Weblog Image 01

The above photo (taken from my point and shoot camera) is the driveway just before my home. A few wheelbarrows loads here.

Wind Storm of Dec 12 2014 Weblog Image 02

Taken from my point and shoot camera at the corner of 88th Avenue (River Road) and Mavis Avenue in Fort Langley, BC. Every street has litter on it from the wind storm.

Another Busy Week–Do I Really Need This?

Well, storms, work, auto insurance, bills, plumbing Issues…, the list keeps on growing, so right now I feel like I want to hide under a rock and wait for everything to pass by until the it all blows over. OK, it is not all that bad. I will have four days of work, mixed in with four days of off-work time, so that is good news. Time is not a factor with me this time, which is something unusual becuase “time” is usually something that I never have enough of. Nope, this time it is money to pay for all the stuff that needs my attention.

A Pile of TOM - GRAPHIC Dec 9 2014 Weblog Image

My biggest hangup is car insurance. Still catching up on debt from last summer’s short spell of unemployment, I am just one pay period from catching up with 90 percent of my outstanding bills. The bill that I will have to suffer for one day will be my auto insurance. I just do not have enough to pay for another term–missing the payment deadline by just 24 hours. So this means that my vehicle will turn into a pumpkin for 24 hours until I get paid. One whole day! Yes, you guested it, Friday morning I will have two very longs walks, to and from town, to pay for the three month’s worth of auto insurance. Awe, life as a Canadian working poor person! At least it will be warm outside when I do the great trek.

It seems that I did not go unscathed from last week’s sudden winter freeze, as one of my water pipes did not endure the frost. The pipe that runs water outside had split open from the frost, and has a 2cm slit across it right where it connects to the outside wall. When I went to fill up a bucket full of water, the pressure was weak, and I notice a good size leak underneath. So, I am looking at a about a $50.00 bill to replace the pipe and insulation; something I cannot ignore.

We are getting a triple round of winter storms, starting today. The first storm started last night. A little rain, but there were some good gusts of wind. Then things went quiet. But as of 8:00pm today, it seems the second storm has arrived, and the wind and rain has picked up; even knocking the power out for a few seconds today. The third storm may arrived by Wednesday night, but it is the total amount of rain that had everyone concerned. With the air warming up, currently 11C, the snow on the mountains is melting, with the ground already saturated, some places may see up to 100-400mm of rain fall in this 72 hour period on top of that. This could get interesting?

The graphic is made with Blender.

Success! They Passed!

Success! The three I tutored over the last four weeks have written their finals, and received their marks for the full term. All passed; they seemed very pleased at their accomplishments. The Statistics final exam took them the better part of 90 minutes to complete, well with in the time limit, but they all said it was a tough exam.

Grades Graphic Dec 8 2014 Thomasso 01 Weblog Image

It was impossible, from their past performance, to reach stellar marks, but the deal was to get them passed within the time remaining in their course. Statistically, this was possible, and they achieved that goal. Their marks varied from a letter grade of C+ to B-, which are academic passes, a far cry from their projected C- to C grades that they were aligned with from before.

I am happy for them, and I wish them well as they take their winter breaks.

As for future tutoring gigs, well, that is hard to say at the moment. I did put in a huge amount of energy and time with them, and sacrifices were made on my part. Their prof at SFU has not gotten back to me since he requested my reference letters, so I guess he has moved on. So, it is hard to say whether this will lead into something. In the mean time I am happy that my students passed. Success!

Further Readings, see Post “Me, Tutoring Behavioural Statistics? Gasp!” November 22, 2014

I’d Like to Thank OPEC for the Cheap Gas!

I am just stunned as the price of our gasoline keeps falling at the pumps, going from over a $1.50 per litre a few of weeks ago, to a whopping $1.17 this morning, and it appears that we may see a litre under the one Loonie mark very soon at this rate. So, $20.00 works out to just over 17 litres when I filled up. Thank you OPEC!

The savings may have a direct impact on our local economy, even when our “petrol” loonie takes a dive in the Money Markets against the U.S. dollar, as more money is being saved from the cheap gasoline. I certainly will take my extra $20-$30 bucks per week saved and buy something more than I normally would at the stores.

Of course this spells disaster for the Harper Government, and those Provinces who sell their own oil and enjoy that revenue. But hey, all I care about is what happens to my wallet, and right now it seems a little more fuller than it did last month.

Yearning to Walk Through the Clover

It is cold outside. We have been in this frozen weather pattern for nearly a week now, and it may warm up soon, but only back to our normal winter weather of rain and grey skies. Today while at work I was day dreaming about how much I missed walking through the grass in my back yard during the summer with no shoes on. My toes touching the clover, as I complained about how warm it was. All this, while shivering one moment changing price tags and grabbing stock from outside, then sweating by a huge roof top heater blasting super hot air on me while I stock shelves inside.

Clover in the Back Yard Aug 17 2014 Weblog Image

I was going through my photographs from last summer, and I came upon this one, a shot looking directly down at a patch of clover (though I could be wrong as to what type of weed this is), and thinking to myself how I would loved to take my socks off and walk barefoot through it today. Right now my feet are cold. Yes I am wearing super thick wool socks, but that still does not warm them up. I am not used to this dry cold that seems to go deep into my bones. Wishing summer would come back soon!

Dicey December

Going into December with a second cold snap in less than two months, and an unprecedented shift in oil prices, I can only imaging what is in store for us in the coming weeks leading into 2015. Since I virtually no longer celebrate x-mass in that I work through the holidays and pay no homage to the commercial aspects of it, the economic rage that usually ensues this time of year is missed, but only my wallet stays intact–not the increase at my work. Already my time is sucked clean as my hours at work are scheduled to each week’s limit, and side jobs are more plentiful, meaning that what time is left over is barely enough to catch up on a proper night’s rest-period. The only significance of December for me is the Winter Solstice celebrations that I like to attend, only becuase this is when I get to meet and mingle with other back yard astronomers around my area.

I am still shocked as the world oil prices slide into four, five maybe six year lows since the OPEC cartel decided to suck the same amount of oil out of the ground in November to oversupply the markets, rather than holding back like they usually do. If there was ever a time when relief in my daily budget was needed badly, cheaper gasoline could not have come sooner. While inflations seems to be on the rise again, this cheaper gasoline could off-set my income enough balance it out. The joke is, as Canada tries to jump on the U.S.A. Black Friday sales event by retailers, OPEC itself was joining in the event with the announcement of its offering of hugely discounted petroleum for the whole world. I welcome the price war–bring it on! It will be nice to see the wealth redistributed.

Source: “Oil price falls below $70 US as OPEC leaves output unchanged

Working for cheaper wages, putting out more labour and more expected time for it, seems to be the new shift for the working class. Yes, my wage to labour ratio has shifted to what I saw back in the 1980s. All ground has been lost with earnings evaporated as 2014 seems to be the year for me when the labour market here in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia seems to be saturated with labour. From a job that used be valued at $15.00 per hour five years ago, now sits with many applicants at just over $11.00 per hour. It took me a while to see this, but now I see so many moving to the city that employers can easily find cheaper labour when the cost of living in the city is twice the needed cost. The North East end of British Columbia has unemployment rates lower that the National average, while Vancouver rate sits just above it.

Mingling with the astronomers will be the highlight of December for me. Even though most of the time the weather never cooperates with the longest night of the year for telescope viewing, we still gather to see the latest teck-gear and photographs that people have taken of celestial bodies from out into deep space. Yes, some like to dawn their cosplay Warecraft garb to add a little bit of silliness, but it is all in fun.

Cool to the Touch – Photographs

The Sun was shining, making for a good day to get out and walk around the block, (taking my camera of course) before going back inside to snuggle up by the furnace with a cup of hot tea. The day was deceivingly cold out with the unobstructed Sun beaming through at full power. The air was, and still is, frigid. A sweater and winter jacket a must to venture out around 8.00am today. Feeling the Sun on my cheeks was worth it, even with the cold, I could feel the warmth–it felt nice after being cooped up all the time inside.

Cold November Day - NOV 30 2014 Weblog Image 01

Remember, we here in the Fraser Valley are not accustom to long bouts of freezing cold like this. We actually call this extreme becuase most of the time during the year we enjoy very mild temperatures. But, think of the homeless and those who live in poorly built homes–this is extreme for them.

Cold November Day - NOV 30 2014 Weblog Image 02

These bottles (from the 1950s) are destroyed now becuase the ice cracked them open. What I think what happened is that it got so cold out, so fast, that the water turned to ice before it could squeezed through the opening. None of these bottles had their caps on them.

Cold November Day - NOV 30 2014 Weblog Image 04

The last plants to still have their leaves, were looking terrible as the Sun shine beams through them on this frosty morning.

Cold November Day - NOV 30 2014 Weblog Image 03

And lastly, the iconic winter look photo. Really, this is ice snow, mostly ice pellets that fell from last Saturday’s weather system. We may not have warm enough temperatures to melt this until next Friday, so I have a few more days to photograph the ice before then.

Not Another Cold Snap! Arg.

I knew it was going to be a cold day when I went into work last night. The news was warning us, and the Weather Website had warnings on it, and you could smell the cold in the air, but it was raining, warm out when I went inside at my work. When I came outside, it was a totally different world: still, cold, frost everywhere. There was a 1 cm layer of ice-snow, but underneath it was a layer of rain that had frozen to every surface–including our vehicles. Yes, my truck had this mass of ice on it too, and I found that my keys would not fit into the locks!

Not Another Cold Snap - Nov 29 2014 Weblog Image

As we were leaving, the building manager was walking about, stopping to talk anyone was on the night shift. As I passed him, he said that I may want to invest in some lock de-icer, and window cleaner that will help dissolve the ice and snow. He said to me that it was a mess outside. I thought he was being a little over dramatic. He was not.

When I tried all the front doors with my keys, I was getting worried, the locks were frozen solid–they would not turn. I have been locked out my car before from ice, the Frazer Valley is famous for this type of weather, but “not today of all days,” I thought to myself. With my Pathfinder, I had one chance left to get inside: the hatch door. My key worked, but only after ten attempts turning the lock back and forth, but it finally opened. When I went to lift the door open, the rubber seal along the inside edge came off with it. “Oh well,” I said to myself. Now was the hard part, climbing inside over the seats to get to the driver’s seat. This was a twenty part process, moving one leg, a arm and then my torso, at a time, to slither through the obstacle course until I got to the sitting position. Moving around the the steering wheel was the hardest part, with a gear-shift handle stuck in my kidney, and trying to remove the steering wheel lock bar with one hand, then the tilt lever for the steering wheel to pull it up so that I could fit in the seat.

Once seated, starting the vehicle was normal, but warming it up took nearly fifteen minutes. I had to wait for the cab to get warm enough so that lock button would unlock the door. The locks were completely frozen! Once I could open the door, then came the task of chipping the ice from off of the wind-shield. It was over twenty minutes before I actually left the parking lot.

It was not the cold that mattered, but the combination of rain, then freezing rain, and then a sudden-fast freeze up in less than a few hours. The layer of ice is what did it for everyone with their cars. The roads were in perfect condition to drive on, and once I got through Fort Langley, BC, the ice-snow seemed to never have happened there. This cold will be with us for the next week. Something I am not looking forward to. Oh well, at least I do not have to shovel it! LOL