Thursday, May 26, 2016

And, now, for something different...

Me with Granddad Stradling, 1981
I'm still a little dumbfounded by how seemingly quickly I lost interest in blogging.  I guess I can chalk it up to several factors: (1) I became "written out" on most of the topics that prompted me to start this blog in late 2007; (2) my constant mal de debarquement-related cognitive fatigue has made it much harder for me to think, much less to write; (3) various subjects, particularly domestic politics, have become so depressing to contemplate that I choose not to think much about them; and (4) I always felt like I needed to write about at least four or five topics to make a decent post.

The attached photo is from January 1981.  I had just returned from my church mission in Chile (which explains the tanned face and arms, as it had been summer in the southern hemisphere), and my parents were taking me up to BYU.  En route, we stopped off to see my maternal grandfather B.H. Stradling in Farmington, NM, and it turned out to be the last time I saw him before he died the following year.  Risibly, I was still wearing the "John Travolta" disco 'do that I'd managed to acquire from one of my missionary companions.

My struggles at work are ongoing, although I'm amazed that I've managed to scrape through a few more months since my "funnel" post (below).  I've investigated my retirement options.  I could start the process now of filing a long-term disability (LTD) claim, taking all my accrued sick leave and getting all the records and documentation ready for the insurer.  I've hesitated to take that leap, however, at least until I approach my 25-year service anniversary (in July 2017), because (a) I know the LTD claim represents a minefield (and the only real advocate I will have, barring my hiring a lawyer, will be my primary-care physician), and (b) there are significant financial advantages to reaching 25 years of service with the company, regardless of the outcome of my LTD claim (whenever I choose to submit it).  I can't shake the feeling that I'm totally "whiffing" in my current position, however, and thus I keep looking for a way out.  Even a "conventional" buying position in another Procurement department would probably reduce my distractions, and the insufferable level of minutiae that I now face, sufficiently for me to get through another year or two.

We were disappointed to learn that our daughter-in-law Cait decided to divorce our son Darren.  Cait apparently determined that she didn't believe in the LDS Church, and that, since her relationship with Darren was based almost entirely on church membership, she no longer had any reason to stay married to him.  Thankfully, Darren has managed to keep himself above the waves of despondency, quickly concluding that his future happiness depends on having a faithful Mormon wife (and that there are plenty of good prospects out there in that regard).  Darren and Cait have decided to part on amicable terms -- which makes Darren a much better man than I -- and thus he will be able to make a clean start when he comes back to Albuquerque to begin his doctorate studies this fall at UNM.  Kiley and Sam will almost certainly leave Albuquerque, and end up doing an ophthalmology residency in San Antonio, after Sam graduates from medical school next spring; however, it will be fun to have all our kids here for a while, anyway.

I still go to the gym, although I haven't been as good about it this year, partly due to my church calling.  Also, it seems to get harder all the time, although I doggedly stick to my "30 minutes at 5.5 mph" routine on the treadmill.  Dorine's church calling has likewise seemed to sap her interest in the gym, so she goes even less often than I do.  I thought I'd finally rounded out my complement of shorts and running shoes after I found a pair of nice teal-colored Nike knock-off shorts on Aliexpress; however, I recently ordered a pair of "frost blue" Adidas shorts, and a pair of gray-and-black Adidas running shoes, on a website called "6pm."  I hope that "frost blue" turns out to be the bluish-white color it looks like online -- and not a variation on Argentina/Carolina blue -- but I've been burned multiple times in the past when putatively subdued colors turned out to be much brighter than they appeared.

I'd like to do some hiking this summer in the Sandias; maybe Darren's being here will get me off the couch once or twice.

Monday, January 11, 2016

El embudito de una vida

For some time, I've sensed that the circumstances of my life have been forcing me -- funneling me, if you will -- to a choice between retirement and suicide.  When I first became ill six years ago with mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS),  I couldn't have imagined continuing to work for that long in the state I was in; however, things have in fact become steadily worse in the interim. Consequently, I'm convinced that there is no job I can do well enough now at Sandia National Labs that is worth the salary I draw; and, frankly, I'm tired of making the pretense that the opposite is the case.  Whereas my native intelligence is more or less intact, my MdDS has essentially destroyed my ability to juggle complex tasks, and no job change is going to hide that fact.  I don't really want to leave a legacy of suicide for my children and grandchildren, so retirement is the only viable option left open to me.  The question is whether it will leave me with enough to live on. I'm not sure I can get by without taking a menial job, perhaps in retail, to supplement my pension payments; however, perhaps I can assert multiple disability-based claims against pension, long-term disability insurance, and/or social security.  Make no mistake -- I am disabled -- but the overwhelming effects of persistent MdDS, while documented in my case, are not outwardly apparent, which is the biggest obstacle I face in trying to supplement my retirement income.  The profound depression that I've felt recently, however, has drawn me further into the funnel, and I must take action soon.

[Update 7/20/16: It wasn't long after I posted this article that I found out that Sandia National Labs no longer offers a pension "kicker" for people who have to retire early due to disabilities.  Rather, long-term disability insurance is all Sandia offers in that regard; effectively, Sandia has washed its hands of having to make any kind of determination of disability, which unfortunately is typical of Sandia corporate behavior these days.]