Lemont & Marilyn

Lemont & Marilyn
Lemont & Marilyn -- Anniversary Picture 2010

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31 Update

We didn't get any calls until 7:00 pm so we're headed out to Geneva Road again tonight to start at 9:00.  The call came through Strategic Staffing so it will be at the better rate.  Forecast for tonight is lows near 20, but the hourly forecast doesn't show us getting that low until 6:00 am and by then we should be  home and in bed.

We ran out to Walmart and picked up some hand warmers so our hands and feet should be be taken care of tonight.  I'm debating whether to wear my ski mask instead of my beanie to try to keep my nose warm.  I've been carrying the ski mask in the pocket of my snowsuit but haven't been uncomfortable enough to put it on, but it hasn't been as cold as tonight's forecast.   Not sure how it will fit with my safety glasses -- or how they will fit with it on.  I'll have to give it a try and see. 

We talked with the foreman the other night when we were sent home because they were closing down the site for the night about taking a break when his guys take theirs and he agreed that would be OK.  At least we can look forward to getting off our feet and into a warm car at least once during the shift.  And we have a thermos of hot chocolate for nutrition, hydration, and warmth once we get to the car. 

Better go get ready....

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28 Update

We were somewhat surprised and greatly pleased that we got called by Strategic again this afternoon to flag at Geneva Road tonight at 7:00 pm.  But when we got there, the foreman said they had some survey problems and they needed the crew elsewhere so they wouldn't be working tonight.  He called to see if they needed us anyplace else and they didn't so we were sent home.  Nice that we still get paid for 4 hours just for showing up. 

It gave us a chance to stop by Costco and buy some "toe warmers".  They didn't have any hand warmers, but we can probably use the "toe warmers" in our gloves if we need to.

We don't know if there will be any weekend flagging available, but we have let it be known we are available on Saturday if they need us.

January 27 Update

Today was interesting.  First off, we went to our railroad re-certification class at PRC.  Even though PRC is mainly concerned with the freeway, some locations involve RR crossings too, so all PRC flaggers have to be certified by the UTA (Utah Transit Authority) and the UPRR.  We had to do the PRC Orientation last year to start with PRC, but the UTA/UPRR had to be renewed for 20111. Our class this time also included training on rigger signals (the hand signs between the guys that rig the loads and the guys that operate the cranes.  So now we have added a rigger signals sticker to our hard hats.  Not that we're likely to be doing any signally, but knowing the signals may be helpful when we're flagging while they're moving loads with cranes.

Then we got called about 5:30 pm to see if we wanted to work Geneva Road again at 7:00 pm so we were flagging last night from 7:00 pm to 2:00 am this morning.  Not a lot of activity,just a few PRC work trucks in and out of the site and a few trips across the road with a Bobcat to move materials -- mostly metal grates that reinforce the concrete foundations for the retaining walls.

Weather wasn't too bad, all things considered.  Not much wind.  Started out about 31 degrees and dropped to 27 before we released.   We got a really good look at something I don't think I'd seen before:  freezing fog.  All the air around us glistened with ice particles.

It took them about 1 1/2 hours to get set up so we didn't even start flagging until after 8:30.  Two other flaggers showed up.  They had been assigned at 1600 N, which is usually the entrance for the trucks that exit at Geneva but there were no trucks running last night so they got sent home.  We had worked with one of them before when we flagged under the bridge overnight at 100 S in American Fork.  He offered to come give us a break if no breakers showed up.  We took advantage of his offer so we got a half  hour break about 11:00 for Mom and 11:30 for me.  Sure made the night more bearable.

We are finding that our cold weather gear pretty much does the job.  I've been wearing a snowmobile suit and Mom has been wearing her snowboard pants and coat.  Beanies under our hardhats keep our ears warm.  I have been bringing along a full ski mask but haven't had to use it yet, although last night my nose was getting cold.  I think I might add a scarf so I can wrap it around the bottom of my face and over my nose when my nose starts freezing.  We keep pretty warm for the most part -- but sometimes our  hands and feet still get cold.  We don't think our battery-operated electric socks do anything, but as insulated socks, they at least help.  The socks use a single "D" cell each, and that may simply not be enough to generate much heat.  I think my battery-operated gloves worked a little bit, but even they were disappointing.  The gloves run on 3 AAA batteries and are rated to last about 1  hour of continuous use so we have to use the sparingly for what is expected to be an 8 - 10 hour shift.   I'm thinking of looking into getting some of the "toe warmer" or "hand warmer" packets.  They are air-activated chemical heat pads.  I've seen discarded packets on several job sites.  Using them in gloves would be easy, but getting them into our boots is probably something  best done before we leave home.  That might be just fine since some of them are rated to last 6 hours.  Even reaching my boots to tie them is a chore when I'm all bundled up in the snowsuit.  It is very bulky and inhibits bending of arms, legs, and torso.

Mom called Labor Ready's "on call" number last night when we got home to let them know we wouldn't be available for an early morning assignment today, but would be available in the afternoon or again for night-time flagging.  We haven't heard anything yet, so, unless we get tagged for another night-time shift, we probably won't be working again until Monday.

Last night's call had come through Strategic Staffing.  Our class yesterday was also through Strategic Staffing  so all 11.0 hours we logged  yesterday (4 for the class,7.0 at Geneva Road) are are the better rate of pay.

PPS Update:  Steve and I have been on the phone and exchanging emails with the head of Omega Protection in Las Vegas.  They provide Executive Protection and run a training class we'd like to take one of these days.  He "accidentally" called Steve yesterday so Steve called him back today.  Omega is currently working on a contract in Utah and, if they get the contract, it will go to our team!  Of course, until we go "wheels up" it is all just talk, but there is at least another prospect for us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26 Update

We called in at 6:00 am this morning and were given an assignment for noon in American Fork.  About twenty minutes later, Lori from PRC called.  She  apparently had an earlier assignment for us but somehow it didn't get communicated to Labor Ready.  Later we found that they book most of their jobs through Labor Ready in Sandy and it is kind of the end of the list that makes it to Provo.  Lori suggested we sign up in Sandy -- but that would mean a whole lot more driving.  We are going to see if can get things worked out so we do most of our work through Strategic Staffing, whom we started with last summer.  With them we didn't have to stop by their office to get our "tickets" each morning and they did direct deposits.  All we had to do was turn in all our tickets for the week by the following Monday at 5:00pm.  On top of that, they pay about 10% more than Labor Ready.  But PRC has had some administrative problems with Strategic and reduced their  usage of them so we don't know if that is going to work or not.  A lot of times last fall, Lori or Cynthia at PRC would call us with our assignments and all we had to do was let Strategic know where we were going and then show up where PRC wanted us.  Hopefully we can get back into that mode.

We were scheduled to flag on the frontage road at 100 W in American Fork at noon.  We have flagged there several times before.  We actually got there about 11:30 and found out the foreman had called for flaggers to be there at 12:30, but Lori had changed the time to make sure folks could get there and had time to find the place.  We sat around waiting for the foreman and crew to show up and then Lori called us about 1:30 to let us know the crew had been pulled off on some other jobs and she sent us home.  So we 4 hours pay for sitting around for 2 hours. 

Strategic called us to see if we could attend a re-certification class at PRC tomorrow so we'll be there from 7:00 - 11:00 am tomorrow.  The re-certification is for PRC so it applies to both Strategic and Labor Ready.  We may or may not get any flagging tomorrow afternoon or evening.  We do get paid for the 4 hour class.  Labor Ready had talked to us about the need for re-certification but didn't have any openings in their allotment of spots in the classes -- and she described it as a 2-hour refresher course, so we might have lost a whole day's flagging for 2 hours, although we might still have gotten the 4-hour "short pay" minimum.

Weather was fairly pleasant, somewhere around 40.  Tonight it is supposed to be down in the 15-20 degree range with highs tomorrow around 40 again.   So far it looks like we sat out the really cold days at Walmart!
Lori said they were working on New Years Day and it was windy and 5 below zero!  Glad we weren't out in that!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25 Update

Well, today has been interesting.  First off, we were late getting to Labor Ready this morning (hit some unusual traffic on the freeway) and we had already been replaced.  So we left to do some shopping and go home.  When we got home we found Labor Ready had tried calling us and had another assignment for us to flag in Orem.  So we scooted back up to Provo in a snowstorm to pick up our "tickets".  The forecast for today was a 40% chance of snow.  We had seen a few flurries and a little "snizzle" but it didn't start to seriously snow until we were getting back in the car to go flagging.  By the time we got to Provo there was about 1" accumulation and cars and trucks were sliding all over the place.  Sure thankful for all wheel drive on the MDX!  There was one 6-car incident along the right side of the freeway just before we got to Provo.  Our assignment was at 400 South in Orem.  We had flagged the RR crossing on 400 S last fall (it was the one near the Hawaiian Ice stand!  Funny thing, no ice stand this time of year.).  Just about the time we got set up an "on station" the PRC foreman came over to tell us the trucks weren't going to be running because of the slick roads and we were released.  So we got "short hours" -- paid for 4  hours just for showing up.  We found out that Lori knew they were shutting down while we were still driving from Labor Ready to the site but let us go ahead and check in so we'd get paid.    So now we're home and the snow continues to come and go -- snow flurries are what was forecast for this afternoon.  We may light a fire in the fireplace and watch a Redbox movie.

We don't know what is in store for tomorrow.  If they get more snow, flagging opportunities may be limited.

We got an email from Mike with the URL for their new blog:  Southworthit.blogspot.com.  Check it out.  I think Heidi has written most of it and she has done a wonderful job.  I'm sure you'll all really enjoy it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24 Update

We finally got called for flagging again today.  We were on Geneva Road in Orem -- same place I was overnight a while back.  Turned out there wasn't a lot of activity, but there was some.  It was about 25 degrees out there when we arrived at 7:30 am and my feet started getting cold.  My left foot was colder than my right and I discovered the zipper on the left leg of my snowsuit was up about 3".  Wouldn't have thought it would make that much difference with  insulated boots and insulated socks, but it was noticeable.  I zipped the leg all the way and then both feet were about equally cold.  We could actually feel the difference when it warmed up a couple of degrees  and by the time it got up to 29 my feet weren't cold any more.  It eventually got up to about 44 degrees, almost too warm for the way I was dressed (snowsuit).  I think I actually felt better out there than I did on the blistering August days last summer.  And for sure we felt colder the day we got caught in the rain!   For one thing, I didn't ever feel sleepy like I did on hot days. 

We had two different breakers came to make sure we were getting enough breaks.  The breaks weren't long -- just bathroom breaks and lunch was only 20 minutes (by being less than 30 minutes we get it as a paid break instead of going off the clock for half an hour).  Larry was handling northern Utah County and Carrie was handling southern Utah County.  Turns out Geneva Road is the crossover point.  They came up with the idea of meeting in the middle so we could both get our lunch break at the same time.  Usually, there is only one breaker and we have to take turns.

Both the gals that schedule the flaggers for PRC drove by us today and waved and gave us big smiles.  I think we still have a good reputation with them.  Cynthia is the boss, and Lori, her mom, works for her!   They're both really cool to work with.

We think we'll be called again tomorrow, but it hasn't been confirmed yet.  We're supposed to just show up at Labor Ready about 7:00 am so they can hand  us out "tickets" (time cards) as soon as PRC calls in their requests for the day.  Lori should be asking for us by name.   One thing we found that is disappointing is that Labor Ready doesn't pay quite as well as Strategic Staffing -- almost 10% less!  But we may get more hours so the net may turn out to be better.   Labor Ready also pays every day so we immediately have funds for tomorrow's fuel and flagging supplies. 

Suffice it to say, we'd a lot rather be doing PPS someplace warm for good money than standing around in the cold for peanuts.  Still working on that, but nothing solid happening yet and we are grateful to have jobs at all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 22, Update

Nothing new to report.  No flagging over the weekend, but we're hopeful we'll be back on the list starting tomorrow morning.  Weather is looking pretty good if we do get called.  None of that 2 degree stuff in the near forecast!  Even overnight is showing in the 20s, so night flagging wouldn't be brutal, just chilly.  I expect we'll be on days though, 'cause that is the shift the gal who will be scheduling us works and days are showing 30s and 40s for  at least the next week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 21 Update

Still no call for flagging.  We learned that PRC has been having some administrative problems with Strategic Staffing and so is mostly using Labor Ready these days.  Lori suggested we sign up with Labor Ready so we did so this afternoon.  Hopefully we'll be back on the job next week.  One advantage to being signed up with both companies is that we won't get cut short as we approach 40 hours.  The contract each company has with PRC limits their flagers to 40 hours a week -- but when we get close to the limit, we can have them call us out through the other company and keep going.  When working only with Strategic we sometimes got cut off at 32-36 hours because they won't send you out unless you have at least 10 hours available.  One of the breakers we knew said he was logging about 60 hours a week by working through both Strategic Staffing and Labor Ready.  Not sure we really want to log that many hours an a regular basis, but at least getting in a full five days a week, even at 8-10 hours a day, would be nice on the paycheck.

Weather is still rather balmy for this time of year -- highs in the 40s and predicted to remain there for several more days. 

Guess you all read Jerry's update about his accident.  He is lucky -- or blessed -- to be alive!  Wait until you see the pictures, if  you haven't already.  It certainly could have been a lot worse.  He was hauling a tanker full of diesel fuel.  And people try to tell us PPS work will be dangerous!  I'd be willing to bet that statistically, flaggers are at greater risk than bodyguards, especially during the winter when the roads are icy. 

Speaking of PPS, there is nothing new to report there.  Steve and I are tracking the leads he found in Arizona and Nevada, but there isn't any news yet. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19 Update

Hi guys,

As we expected, no flagging today.  Hopefully we'll get a call tonight and be flagging tomorrow.

Weather has been unusually mild for this time of year -- in the upper 30s again today, in spite of a winter storm warning in effect  until 3:00 pm today.  High tomorrow shows 35 and 38 for Friday, so it shouldn't be too cold if we do go out flagging for the next couple of days.

In spite of several warm days in a row we still have snow covering most of the yard.  The paddock is getting pretty mucky where the horses tromped down the snow and it has melted.  A day or so ago we got most of the snow that was piled up on the yard side of the barn moved over onto the garden so it won't melt and run into the barn.

I got an email our Bishop forwarded from a gal who says her company has 18 IT openings so I submitted my resume.  Got back an acknowledgment, but it was little more than a form email. I'll probably be "over qualified" again.  The announcement email included an invitation for recent graduates to apply so they're probably looking for younger, less-experienced people, less-expensive people, even though I would gladly work for programmer wages if they would let me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18 Update

High guys,

No flagging again today.  Mom called Laurie, our contact at PRC but when she reached her today she'd already placed her order for tomorrow so we won't be flagging tomorrow either, unless something unplanned comes up.  However, she was pleased to hear we're available again and will probably ask for us for Thursday and Friday.  Weatherbug says it won't be as warm as it has been the last couple of days (darn!) -- it was 55 yesterday and 45 today.  There is a winter storm warning in affect until 3:00 pm tomorrow with 1-3 inches of snow expected, then highs in the 30s for Thursday and Friday.  Our friend, Steve Dellos, is back working on radio towers in Montana and said it was -3 where he is today!  Glad I'm not out in that!

Nothing new from Frontline.  Steve had a couple of new contacts, one in Arizona and one in Nevada.  Neither of them are as promising as Frontline, but we have our names out to a couple more companies and both say they have work coming up and are hiring.  Most of the east coast outfits we've talked to say have more agents than they can keep busy, so it looks like being out here we may be in the right place at the right time for a change.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17 Update

Hi guys,

We did not get called for flagging today.  I figure that is because it is Martin Luther King's birthday and since PRC is running on a government contract, they have to honor the holiday.  Just as well.  Mom needed at least one day off between jobs -- yeah, like she EVER takes a day off.  For example, this morning she was out shoveling snow away from the barn to where I could scoop it up and haul it away with the tractor.

Now that I'm learning to blog, I followed the recommendations some of you kids have made and started a blog for RVs and OHVs (http://rvsandohv.blogspot.com) and signed up with Adsense so Google and put ads on my blog.  If anyone reads it and clicks on the ads, I could actually get paid!  I doubt if I'll generate enough interest for it to be profitable, but it is kind of fun doing it and if nothing else, helps be remember and organize my knowledge of RVs and OHVs.

Hopefully we will get called tomorrow morning for flagging.  Weather wise it shouldn't be too bad. It was up to 55 here today (forcast high was 50).  Tomorrow is forecast for 40, so that isn't so bad either.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15 Update

I got called in again for flagging last night.  I had sent an email to Strategic Staffing to let them know Mom and would be available next week and got an almost immediate phone call to work last night.  They even called back to see if Mom could work too.
I was at Geneva Road/I-15 where Mom and I flagged last fall one time for moving a crane.  Last night we were mostly flagging for big double side-dumpers leaving the construction site.  Weather wasn't too bad.  It was around 32 when I got there at 7:00 pm and had only dropped to 29 when we were released about 1:30 am.  Never had to use the battery socks or gloves.  We had three flaggers so we were able to rotate, doing about 1 hour on and a half hour off, so we got a chance to get in the car and get warm after each hour standing around doing nothing.  No trucks showed up until about 11:30 and then there were only 2 of them.  We had another batch of 3 just before we were released so it wasn't exactly rush hour.  But the time does go kind of slowly when there isn't anything to do -- and just standing around in the cold isn't the best way to keep warm!  They were building a retaining wall and filling in behind it.  The retaining wall is made of huge pre-cast concrete panels.  Looks to me like the only thing that keeps the wall from falling over are long steel straps they bury in the dirt behind it.  The panels have notched edges so they lock together when put into place.  It as interesting watching "the boys play with their blocks".
Wildlife watch:  yeah, right!  In the freezing dark!  Not even pussy cat or a bird anywhere in sight.  And not even any pedestrians or even any interesting drivers.  One jerk blew his horn all they past both flaggers.  Never did quite figure out what that was all about.  We weren't even flagging at the time or in his way, just standing at our stations waiting for trucks or equipment to come.
Driving  home was a bit of a trip. It was VERY foggy!   I haven't seen fog like that in years.  I only hit one open patch for maybe a  half mile before I got to Payson, then it started clearing  up again just as I got to the off-ramp.  It was weird, looking back toward the freeway, the fog lay like a big roll of insulation right over the freeway.  It was deeper than the famous Tule Fog of the Central Valley in California, but still hugged the ground and was pea-soup thick.
Don't know if I'll get called in again tonight.  They do work on weekends, but not as much as during the week, so I might not be needed.  One thing in favor of my working is that I don't have very many hours this week, and those who have been working all week have probably hit their 40 hour limit.
Per Kristen's suggestion, I have created this blog.  This is a posting of the email update I sent out earlier today just to see what the "daily" updates are going to look like.
Guess that's about it for now.

Getting Started


Just getting started.  This blog will contain updates for Lemont & Marilyn Southworth, intended primarily for family members and close friends to share ongoing activities.  Hopefully we'll keep you up to date and we will try to keep it interesting.  Suggestions are welcome!