Monday, January 28, 2019

End of the Shutdown

On December 21, 2018, the federal government ran out of money to fund a portion of the government and approximately 800,000 federal workers were furloughed on Wednesday December 26, 2018 and the government shut down.  The President of the United States demanded money for a southern border wall, which was (and is) unneeded and wasteful.  Both houses Congress passed an appropriations bill, which the President refused to sign and the shutdown continued.

Finally 35 days later - as airports began to experience ground stops and flight delays (TSA workers were forced to work without pay), the President capitulated and reopened the government. A three week continuing resolution was signed; back pay was authorized for furloughed federal employees, and we can all breathe a little easier, until the CR runs out on February 15.

So what did I do with my time off?  I'm glad you asked.  I kept a log.  Mrs. BA began telling people that she believed that I may have touched every single item in the Launchpad at least once.  That is likely true.  I spent a lot of time cleaning, organizing, purging, rearranging, and redecorating.

Some specifics:
  • I sent a number of old winter coats off for new lives, courtesy of a coat drive, sponsored by the Cheverly American Legion and other donation spots.
  • I cleaned and organized all of our cabinets and closets throughout the house and lined the shelves with shelf liners (and yes, I alphabetized the spice rack).
  • Several months ago, I ordered two cartons of clamshell archival storage boxes.  As the last project I worked on during the furlough (really, who wants to deal with archives when you're not being paid to deal with archives), I reboxed the entirety of the Brave Astronaut Archives.  I did not get a chance to work on a finding aid.  Perhaps in three weeks.
  • As part of the archival project noted above, I have pulled together approximately 10 boxes of photographs.  That project, too, must wait for another time, when I will hopefully scan and preserve the photographs.  I know that some of you are dying to see some photos, but you're just going to have to wait.
  • Just prior to the shutdown, I revisited my LibraryThing catalog.  I spent a portion of the furlough re-cataloging the Brave Astronaut Library.  I was somewhat disappointed to learn that my book collection is only about 500 books (and some of them are not on the shelf - several of them are for sale - and many were donated to the boy's school MLK Day of Service project).
  • I de-Christmased the house, at least the interior.  I did not take the lights off the outside of the house.  It was too cold, then it snowed.  I made a decision to leave them up until the shutdown is over and am going to try and move forward with my invention (which actually may already exist) for "year round lights" that you can program to change color based on the season and/or holiday.
  • I organized the cellarette (which is a fancy, French word for bar).  I needed easier access for day drinking if it came to that, which luckily it didn't ever get to.
  • I got rid of an old sideboard that had been in the dining room since shortly after we moved into the Launchpad in favor of an IKEA Kallax shelving unit.
  • Despite the cold, I spent some time in the attic, cleaning and organizing (I had to put the Christmas stuff back).  I found artwork that had come to the Launchpad (there is other artwork in various closets and other storage places) and did make some changes to the gallery collection and am planning on hanging some new works around the Launchpad.
  • Bad Parenting Mistake #1 (there may have been more, but this was the first one and it got me into the most trouble): while cleaning SoBA's room, I may have deconstructed several Lego pieces in an effort to streamline the multiple boxes of Legos in SoBA's room.
  • I did some records disposal courtesy of the Launchpad fireplace.  In 2013, I did the same thing - but that was October and it wasn't nearly as cold as it was these past few weeks - so it helped with the heating bills to destroy some records.
  • I grocery shopped during the week, which if you've been to the grocery store on a weekend day - you'll know that is a joy unto itself.  On several occasions, I think the staff outnumbered the customers.
We were lucky than most folks, Mrs. BA works for a federal agency, but is not a federal employee and her office is in a non-federal building.  So she went to work every day, and got paid regularly, which was more than a lot of folks who are two income federal employee families.  She would come home in the evening and find things different than when she left in the morning.  I may have also made piles for her, which she very kindly went through, either with me or on her own.  As a result of me rearranging stuff, she has also gotten back into knitting and cross-stitching, while also giving away some of her crafting stuff, allowing me to sell some kits on eBay, and she bought a sewing machine.

Of all the residents at the Launchpad, it's possible that LBA may have been most relived that I was called back to work.  As the shutdown entered into its fourth week, I mentioned in jest, to the boy's principal that maybe I should come in and sub at their school.  In fact, one of LBA's teachers was preparing to go out on maternity leave.  The principal however, was completely serious and wanted to know if I would consider it.  I went back and forth about the idea and ultimately agreed that I would do it and was prepared to start next week.  I didn't agree to it until I had LBA's buy-in, which he thought about for a while and ultimately agreed.  So while I missed my chance to get back in the classroom, I'm ready to go on Day 1 if need be in three weeks.

I did manage to get out and do some fun things, I had a few furlough lunches with friends, two of my colleagues joined me at the boy's school to judge some National History Day projects, and I was able to spend the right amount of time on some of my other projects for which I wear a responsibility hat, including the pool in town, for which I am Treasurer, the boy's school Casino Night event, which will take place this coming Saturday, and leading our Parish Men's Club, for which we will be holding a furlough potluck supper on Thursday evening - because for many, this shutdown is still hurting and everybody needs an opportunity to have a night out and not worry about anything.