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24 January 2008 @ 02:12 pm
work's a beast; 2008 FX Show this weekend!  
So... yeah.  

Work's been a bitch and a half the last few weeks - more so than usual - since I've been back from the holiday time off. That's essentially the main reason for lack of posting and my general all-around M.I.A.-ness with flist stuff.  I'm still not caught up from that time off, but frankly, none of us here in the office ever will be. 

For those on my flist who aren't aware, I work for the U.S. federal government in civil service, specifically with the Social Security Administration as a claims representative/disability insurance specialist. (Most of) my duties involve the taking of new claims and processing of post-entitlement cases through appointments and unscheduled walk-ins, and adjudicating medically approved claims, in order to get clients into regular pay of federally approved disability benefits - both for those based on financial need, and for those insured through qualifying quarters of coverage on their work record, based on taxes paid into Social Security.  And as a federal employee, I take issue with the often-thought stereotype that government employees get paid for sitting on their collective asses.  My reasoning is as follows:

The Orlando SSA office used to be the largest in the nation, in terms of staffing, and in the top 5 in volume of visitors served daily/weekly/monthly. The reason for that is Orlando was/is the only major city in the nation with no branch offices to go with the main district office.  Other cities like Atlanta, Miami, L.A., Chicago, New York, etc. all have a half-dozen or more field offices each, to cover the metropolitan areas they service. Orlando's never had that.  Three years ago, another field office opened in Kissimmee, which is about 30 minutes south of Orlando, but our office's traffic was hardly affected. There was an ever-so-slight downturn for about three months, as newly-zoned clients found heir ways to Kissimmee, but then the numbers just crept back up - and up, and up. 

Compounding the difficulty of ever-increasing public traffic, the staffing issues are becoming critical. Retirement, transfer to smaller areas, and general resignation across the board has led to nationwide shortfalls in staff replacement. For about 4-5 years now, there has been NO replacement of lost bodies, and the budget for fiscal year 2008 MAY allow a ratio of 1 hire for every 2 people lost - but who knows how long that may last, or which areas will get help the most.  Basically, that largest-in-the-country staff we used to have: about 130 total employees 4 years ago - including claims reps, service reps, clericals, supervisors, and other management - has dwindled to around 60-65 now.  Advances in systems automation has helped to streamline some workloads for greater efficiency - individuals can do more processing in the same time - but not nearly enough to offset a reduction in employees by half.  More shit is just being thrown at everyone, with no real time to catch up on any backlogs. Treading water and putting out the most severe and immediate fires are about the only ways to cope and maintain some sense of organization. Going on vacation or taking any kind of extended leave almost punishes you, for the mountain of crap one has to face upon returning - because nobody is going to sift through your mess while your gone, when they can't even conquer their own.

And to top off the chaos, the Orlando office is being relocated to a new building about 10 miles east of where we are now. After over two years of planning and development, construction is finally complete, and the official "moved-in" opening date is supposed to be February 12th.  And the office will not be closed for a single day to help with organization, because "the public must be served". So the movers physically breaking down workstations and employees packing shit up - while differentiating what's personal and what is still needed for daily pending work - has to be done in the midst of still taking claims and dealing with walk-in traffic - and that means 600-700 people served, on average, per day. So when I say I have no down time, it is  absolutely in the most literal sense. When I take a moment to even briefly update here, I'm neglecting something else. 

Anyway... I kinda just wanted to get that out of my brain. Sorry to bore those who are completely disinterested (everyone, probably).

In better news, though, the 2008 FX Show is finally here this weekend, and I'm ready be there all three days. As of right now, I've already made plans for pics with Nick, Nathan, and Greg. I may be a typical male and see Laura Vandervoort, too. Depends on my cash flow. There's supposed to be a short panel on Sunday at noon with the Whedonverse people - Nicholas Brendon, Nathan Fillion, and Elisabeth Rohm.  Looking forward to that, along with scoping out deals on any fandom-related collectibles too good to pass up (as if I need any more geek-worthy crap).

Since this is a new year, I'm also gonna try harder to keep up with birthdays on my flist from now on. Very belated wishes to wsasianboyand tdog0105, both on the 5th, wrthy2bluvdon the 7th, and mari_guerraon the 12th.  I hope your respective days were good ones, and I'll try to remember in a  more timely fashion next year. 

And I have taken way too much time as it is, brain-spewing all of this.  Back to work. 

Kristen Bell is awesome.
houseshouses7177 on January 24th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
I hope you have fun with FX2008! I agree re: stereotype, as most people work very hard. However, the few bad apples often ruin things for everyone.
Jeff: stressed out - bonesj_mac179 on January 25th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)
You are definitely right about a few giving a bad rep to the many. As busy as my office is, there are still a handful of individuals who seem barely competent most of the time, yet they remain employed. It almost takes an act of Congress to get fired from federal employment.

And perhaps I'll post another write-up of my weekend experience.
ancient_immie: Kreuk: Looking 1ancient_immie on January 24th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
Aw Jeff that sucks kind like at the hospital. Everyone's worried about budgets and have no want to hire the amount of people they really need.

So have fun at FX! I envy you. course my conning is about two months off.
Jeff: Heroes - Kristen & Jack goof 1j_mac179 on January 25th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
I read your own recent rant about your work situation, too - so I also sympathize, Ro.

Is your two-months-from-now conning going to be at MegaCon? 'Cause I'm seriously thinking about going to that one again, too - at least one day, if not all three. Adrian Pasdar, Mark Sheppard, and Erica Durance are the primary draws for me there.
ancient_immie: Kreuk: Smile 1ancient_immie on January 25th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
It seems like everyone's work situation sucks of late.

Yeah, MegaCon is going to be it for me for the year. I too am drawn by Adrian, but also drawn by Dylan Neal and Kyle Schmidt. lightz_474 is going so she talked me into it. She's the one the told me about it. I'll have to keep an eye out for ya. :D
(Deleted comment)
Jeff: SR - smirkj_mac179 on January 25th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
Duuuude... A Superman Confidential arc with a Kara Zor-El based on KBell? *geekgasms* That's fantastic news. Can't wait to see that.

I'll be wandering in and out of the comic artists/writers booths all three days probably, so I'll keep an eye out for you.
~ CinJudes ~: ff - cast - the message - funeral fun_cinjudes_ on January 24th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
I'm saving my 'restoration to lj' post for your b-day tomorrow. Be ready for your yearly dose of Cindy love. *muah*

I know about your job, but I'm glad you laid it out for those that don't. You know I sympathize and understand completely as we discuss this often enough. I had no idea the move into the new building was imminent. We have been talking about it for so long and it was always so far away I guess it's just bizarre to me that the time is finally here. I can't believe they are expecting regular appointment times to be kept up. What happens when they are moving your computer? That totally sucks.

I'll be talking to you this weekend - of that I have no doubt. Are you still going to try to video the panel, we talked about it before we were even sure their was going to be one - and now that I know I reallllly want you to do it. You know it will be worth it. :D
Jeff: Firefly - Mal & Inara - shindig1j_mac179 on January 25th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
Our current office will have a few workstations left running and operational on the network in the front end interviewing area, while our regular cubicles and work areas on the non-public side are taken apart. A skeleton crew of about 20 claims reps and service reps will be around for the two weeks designated for the complete office move - beginning Monday the 28th, through Friday the 8th of Feb. - in order to deal with the public and take the leftover appointments. The rest of the staff will be farmed-out to either the Longwood, Kissimmee, or Leesburg offices to take teleclaims and work some other walk-ins at those place. But all of those offices are even further away for me than the new Orlando office will be, so I volunteered to stick around while things get packed. Supposed to get final word on who goes where by tomorrow, so we'll see.

And I'm bringing my 4GB memory stick for my camera, to try to get video of the Whedon-people panel on Sunday. Not sure how the image and sound will turn out, though, so I can't promise anything. But I'm gonna try.
Emijynehla on January 26th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
As I'm also late on birthday wishes, I'd like to not have to add you to the list. So, Happy Birthday!! Hope you have lots of fun at the FX show.