"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Deans

It's Christmas and we have had little time to do do our usual Christmas Card and letter so in the interest of doing something we are posting it here on the blog and emailing it to family because many of them don't read the blog. It's been a wild ride this year. We worked more than usual: summer for the Kernels (baseball team) and fall for Amazon. We bought a new truck, hence the working thing. We spent the summer spending time with our kids and beautiful grandaughter. A splash of travel in there too and now off on new adventures with a cruise mixed in. All in all a good year and one that as usual has us counting our blessings. Included in that are all of you out there in blog-land, friends, family, and all who take the time to catch up with us once in awhile. Our lives are enriched by your presence in them. So to all we wish you a very Merry Christmas and the best of the New Year. We have a new favorite Christmas song this year and as a small gift we want to share it with you. After that enjoy John's annual Christmas Letter, his wit never ceases to amaze me and he is truly the biggest blessing in my life.

Christmas 2014: Greetings from Gulfport Mississippi

I'd forgotten how much fun Mississippi is to spell. Kinda like banana. We were happy to leave Louisville (Loo-vul) on the 21st and even happier to work our last day at the enormous fulfillment center Amazon has across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana. We were Amazon minions for about eight weeks to help out with all the extra online shopping this time of year. You're welcome. The work can be hard, but we look at it as a combined job/fitness program that pays you to get fit. Our job was to find the items being ordered and put them in totes for packing and shipping. Amazon scores you on how well you do by tracking your pick rate in items per hour. You also get a quality score for not screwing up your picks but it's basically how fast you can put stuff in your tote.

Finding anything would be a hopeless task if it weren't for your handheld scanner that tells you where other minions have hidden it. The game is played on a three dimensional grid of four floors. There are varying degrees of difficulty with opportunities to both advance your pick rate or destroy it, depending on random chance and various traps set by the stowers, the people whose job it is to hide the stuff you're trying to find. Like Chutes and Ladders, the board game that children of a certain age love to play. A Ladder can be a multiple pick or an obvious pick. Chutes send your pick rate plummeting by requiring you to unpack a bin or drawer to get to an item in the back (and then repacking it), or placing little items on top of larger ones such that you have to use your Jenga skills to get the one you want. One my favorites is a missing item that requires you to scan everything in the bin to prove to the computer that the item it sent you to find is really not there. If your pick rate falls low enough, the pick police find you (the computer shamelessly rats you out). But if you don't hit too many chutes and maybe find a few ladders, you could qualify for gift cards or at least the admiration of your peers. Not sure about that last part, but I've met the pick police. I've seen some fiendish traps, including drawers that were locked shut by their contents, small items hidden among larger ones or identical looking items that differ in subtle ways and you have to find the odd one in a large group.

So we've been camped out next to the Louisville airport since Thanksgiving, and by next to I mean the planes on final approach are so close you can count the number of wheels they have as they fly over your site. On the 21st, we scraped the frost off the truck's windows and made a sprint south to Gulfport Mississippi where it is much warmer.

So Merry Christmas y'all. We're doing fine and hope you all are too. Best wishes for the new year.

John and Janie

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is in Santa’s bag this year?

Our time with Amazon is almost over, our assignment here at Jeffersonville will end this Saturday. I am so glad.

Now for Santa’s bag. Having worked at two facilities, one with everything under the sun and one with mainly clothes and jewelry I think we have a good feel for what’s high on everyone’s list. Little girls will be getting everything Frozen, from toys, to clothes to jewelry and watches. For little boys, Legos, Legos, Legos. They have the blocks, watches and t-shirts. For the guys, lots of tools, particularly DeWalt ones, lots of electronics. Women have the biggest market and it’s hard to say for sure but the most common clothing we pulled was leggings, lots of different brands. Then there is jewelry. Necklaces with all kinds of sayings are really big. The one I picked the most is “Love you to the moon and back”. I also saw some of the ugliest jewelry I have ever seen, sorry for those gals. 

There are also the things everyone is getting: boys, girls, men, women. What are those? Warm puffy coats, clothes from Carhart, and watches. Watches, watches, watches. There are Timex, Citizen, Seiko, Ann Klien, Michael Kors, Disney, Lego, Casio, Marvel, Swatch, and others. I can now pick most of these out by just looking at the box . But my all time favorite (or not so favorite) is Invicta, particularly the professional divers watch. Lots of professional divers out there? This watch is huge and the box it comes in is a yellow indestructible hard tackle box. I picked more of these than any other watch and that says a lot. They were everywhere; some in bins, some in drawers (even though they weren’t suppose to be in drawers) and some in pallets.

So there you go, my take on Santa’s pack. I’m looking forward to leaving this behind and heading south. We have decided to drive straight south and make an overnight stop in northern Alabama and then a long day down to Biloxi, MS. Then just a week to kick back and relax before we move to Livingston TX and prepare for our cruise.

We want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. It had been a busy and interesting year for us and we count our blessings. Two wonderful sons, a beautiful and loving daughter-in-law and the most beautiful granddaughter in the world (we are a little biased) and her wonderful mom. We are also thankful for wonderful friends who have stayed close in spite of our wandering ways. And the biggest blessing we have is each other. How we found each other in this crazy world is amazing and 30 years later we are still together, enjoying each others company and still in love.

So from our house to yours.........Merry Christmas.