Monday, September 29, 2008

Line between compassion & personal responsibility

So today on Oprah (I have not yet tired of Oprah or the View in my almost 2 weeks of unemployment) they had these women and families on where they were addicted to heroin.

The point of the show was to make you feel sorry for these people and I don't know if I just lack compassion, but I kinda didn't have much of it for these people. In fact, I had anger. The parents who got addicted to heroin and led their teenage children down that same path. They also had a 1 year old baby. I simply don't understand why if you are addicted to heroin and homeless why you would not put that baby up for adoption so that child can have a chance at success at life. He was beautiful and I can only imagine the nightmare that is ahead of him with such irresponsible, selfish parents.

Then there was this other girl who was 5 months pregnant and addicted to heroin. Again we the viewer were given a sob story about her addiction. Now, I know this is harsh, but she has a choice. She chose to take heroin. She already had a little girl. She is 5 months pregnant and has done nothing to get off of it. She announced she was sober for 2 weeks and looked around at the audience in expectation of applause. Hello? Who makes a choice so selfish? I simply do not understand.

I guess what is most infuriating is that these people acted as if the reason they are in their position is because there is not enough help out there for them. This is the problem of a bailout culture. No one wants to take accountability for where they are with their lives. I don't think we are doing these people any good by catering to their victim mentality. If we are honest and open with them and tell them - look, you are the only one who can choose to change we are doing them a favor rather than agreeing - yes, there should be more programs out there for you.

I am all for charities helping people out of situations like this. We all make mistakes - I get that. And we all need a helping hand from time to time to help us out. Thank the Lord that there are people out there that provide that. I have benefitted from that and I have been that helping hand as well. I think it is all of our civic responsibility to help those in need who are truly asking for help and are taking steps forward to turn their lives around. But that doesn't diminish personal responsibility and owning our mistakes. I don't think catering to this victim mentality is doing anyone any good.

My Stud of a Husband

So Andy had surgery today for his deviated septum. I have to admit, I kinda thought a septoplasty was a made up surgery, but if you saw Andy's septum, you would be a believer. He has (I guess had) a really crooked one and two doctors said that it was one of the worst they had ever seen and really affected his breathing. So anyways, he had that fixed today.

So he was just so cute and sweet. When he was coming to as the anesthesia wore off, he immediately started asking for me and saying all these cheesy things in front of the nurse. It was pretty cute :-). He was also pretty funny pre-surgery showing the world his jewels. Those hospital gowns don't really leave much room for modesty.

He was pretty out of it and then we came home and I put him to bed where he basically passed out until 2:30 today.

But then, he checked his work email and started working and it is 6 pm and he is still working! He is so funny. I tell him he needs to rest, but of course he is still going to town.

In any case, I am very grateful he is okay. I know I am a bit paranoid to worry that anything could happen with such a simple surgery, but the whole anesthesia thing freaks me out. Thank you, Lord, for keeping my wonderful husband safe and healthy.

His nasal passages look quite a bit larger, so I am hopeful this will help his breathing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So sounds like a big reorg is going on at Verizon today so I think we should know our fate soon on whether Andy will be moving to Austin for his work. I am happy just to know that soon we will know. I am not very good with limbo! I had a job lined up here in Dallas but didn't take it because it sounded like we were going to move to Austin any moment and then a freeze was put in place pending this reorg. So we will see. I have mixed feelings either way and feel like either way we will be happy :-).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Government Bailout

I cannot even express how apalling I think it is that the government is about to hand over $700 billion in yours and my hard earned dollars to these banks which have been completely irresponsible. I completely don't understand it. I will grant that I am completely clouded by my experience at Citi, but I will tell you my experience... (And they will be one of the banks to benefit from this bailout).

They are the most bloated and irresponsible company I have EVER seen. CitifinancialAuto had layoffs, but no other area has had any substantial amount of layoffs. I have heard this might change, but I tell you this. There were TONS of people sitting around doing nothing all day every day. I know this was true of my experience and yet supposedly the company is struggling to make ends meet. The CEO Vikram Pandit has done nothing to stop the insanity and cut down the bloat after having been there almost a year. I would sit there and see people literally twiddling their thumbs while I would be working 80 hour weeks. I would voice my frustration and because management is so incompetent and does not care about the good of the company but making sure they are not seen as a non-team player nothing productive ever got done about these situations. They have matrixed every function and what this means is people are matrixed away from you and so they no longer have any accountability. They report to a manager in a different office who has no idea what they are doing and doesn't do anything when you escalate an issue to them. Your management will not escalate b/c if they do, they fear they will not be seen as a team player. So you end up with a small core team that does all the work and a ton of matrix functions that literally do nothing. You will even ask these people, what do you do and they will tell you that they are looking for work to do. It is a classic b-school case study of how NOT to run an organization but apparently no one in management went to b-school.

Financially all these functions are also matrixed away, but they then send an allocation back to the core business group with no explanation or accountability of those numbers. They have no obligation to keep their numbers to what was budgeted and when you ask for some transparency you are literally told, oh well I have to allocate all these costs out so sorry. If you try to get detail it is like pulling teeth and again when you try to escalate, nothing happens because management doesn't want to be seen as rocking the boat and so the incompetence continues.

Last year when Citi was struggling and cut their dividends to shareholders, we were handing out bonuses equal to 10-20% of employee's salaries. What company have you ever been at that has functioned like that? How irresponsible is that to their shareholders?

And now they want us to give them money? When are they going to pony up and suffer? That is my question b/c they have yet to suffer. And I have seen my boss at the CIO level talk about how the government should bail them out despite them being the ones who were completely unethical and aggressive in their lending practices. Before ANY of my tax dollars should go to these companies, I want to see a reduction in expenses of nothing less than 20%. Right?

These banks AND their employees have been reaping the benefits of their risky lending for how many years now? And we are supposed to feel bad for them now? Oh no, they might be out of a job for 6 months. Where was your and my paycheck when the internet bubble burst? I don't remember us getting 700 billion for all the startups that were over bloated and over valued. You know why? Because we are a free market economy.

I truly believe Paulson coming from Wall Street is trying to help out his buddies there. He and Pandit probably go to the same dinner parties. This is robbing you and me. I encourage everyone to write their congressmen and tell them there is no way they should spend your dollars to support these incompetent companies. It is WAY too early for any talk of such a bailout. I cannot even believe this is what he is proposing. Let everyone tighten their belt for a year or two and let these companies suffer! Let them sell some of their many assets for a loss to survive? The BofA purchase proves that.

And just like I don't think the banks deserve a bailout, I don't think the people who lived beyond their means and got into mortgages they could not afford deserve it either.

It makes me so mad when I have always lived way beneath my means to ensure I was always able to meet my financial obligations. And to have these people who think they are entitled to a house they could never afford and cars they couldn't afford whine to me is ridiculous. You bail them out, you penalize honest hard working people who lived their lives right. Why should we have to pay the price for their risk? We shouldn't.

That said, I think the #1 lesson from this entire mess is that we really need real financial education in our schools. I have always been a big proponent of Junior Achievement because they provide the type of education that every child needs and that a lot of children do not get from their parents. Teach children about credit cards and interest payments and what that means. Teach them about loans and the different ways they are structured. Why is this missing from our schools? I am even okay with mandating education whenever people enter loans. Banks can whine about it, but they put themselves into this position.

Okay, that's my rant for the day. If my taxes go up to pay for these dumb banks, I am going to be so angry. Get Bush out of there. He is the most liberal President ever.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 5!

Okay, so I am pretty excited. I am on day 5 of the diet/workout plan and I have been awesome! I have not stuck to a diet for this long since before I got married, so this is good news. I would start a diet and would be really good and then have a stressful day at work and would fall apart. I know plenty of people lose weight despite having stressful lives so I know that isn't an excuse, but it IS easier when you don't have that stress and have time to cook and work out.

I had signed up for Weight Watchers with my girlfriend, Janet, about 6 weeks ago, but of course I didn't actually stick to it for very long. But the good thing is I already have their online tools and so I have started as of Wed documenting everything I am eating and my activity. I will weigh in this Tuesday to get my starting point for WW. I weighed at home of course and so I have faced the reality of how much I have to lose.

It is funny how my life now currently revolves around food prep, grocery shopping and working out. Not a very substantial existence, but I feel like I am lucky enough to have this opportunity, I should take advantage of it. Also, the last time I went to the doctor (which was the first time in forever), he found that my cholesterol was high! Can you believe that? I have never had high cholesterol. It wasn't off the charts, but definitely way higher than it should be. And keep in mind, I have gained weight but I am still not overweight by doctor charts, I work out 5 days/week normally, etc... Of course, I did have a high fat diet even though it might be low in calories so that might have had something to do with it. Eating those bite size chocolates all day at work could not have been good for the cholesterol. :-) You think?

SO, hopefully, not only will this time help me to get back into my skinny jeans but will also help me health wise.

From all of this I think I have a good business idea for which I am going to run a business case.

I quit!

So, this week - Tuesday to be exact - I did the craziest thing I have ever done. Anyone who I have spoken to lately knew how much I hated my job. It literally was an environment where everyone was mean to each other. I had a boss who was a jerk. I had absorbed 6 people's jobs in addition to my own due to layoffs or employees leaving for which my boss refused to approve a req. And I think the worst thing about it was even though I was appreciated for being a hard worker and doing excellent work, I didn't feel like senior management had any interest in doing what was best for the company but in making sure they didn't rock the boat. I definitely don't suggest buying Citi stock :-).

In any case, I quit. And I am glad I did. My only regret is that by the way I quit, a girl at work who I am friends with is getting blamed for my quitting which is ridiculous. Funny how people believe what they want to.

So I don't have anything lined up yet. I am waiting for Andy to find out about whether we will be moving to Austin and then will line something up. I plan on taking 1-2 months off to get healthy again. So get ready for lots of posts about Sharon's fat farm - yay! My job officially now is to work out and eat right. I literally gained 20 pounds while at this job which I think is just another sign of how miserable I was. I am pretty excited about this as we are trying to get pregnant and I simply hate the thought of getting pregnant having 20 pounds already to lose. We also have our family vacation the week of Thanksgiving so I am glad that I have some time to get in shape before that!

I also am just going to get our lives together and do all those things you never have time to do when both of you work demanding jobs like cleaning out the garage, hanging up those pictures, etc...

Luckily, I have an amazing husband who has been so supportive. I am really blessed :-).