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J-Red's Ramblings

Saturday, April 12, 2014

12:34PM - I say we let him go!

And now, we're assured that 2014 will not pass without me making at least one LJ entry. Whoop-de-damn-doo.

As is generally the case, I'm posting this from work. Doing a Saturday double since we're a little shorthanded at the moment. Our part-timer moved back to Chicago (actually he's not from Chicago, he just went to college there and recently accepted a full-time job in that area) a couple weeks ago and his position has not been filled as of yet. It should be by the end of the month, or so we hope. In the meantime, we're a three-man department again. It's tough making the schedule for a three-man department, but a little easier when the three people in the department have flexibility with the hours they can work.

So a little over a month ago, we had my parents' 40th anniversary party. As I'd mentioned on here, I had my doubts about how well it would turn out, but it went fine enough. We managed to keep it a secret the entire time and my parents were blown away by both the event itself and the turnout. Shortly after we got in, some of my concerns came back to the surface as my mom had a little beef with the DJ. See, the way they set it up at Edgemont Caterers is the DJ booth is a level above the main floor. The DJ leaves a business card on the table with his number so you can text him song requests. Well, he evidently played a song my mom didn't like (I believe it was "Always and Forever" by Heatwave), so she sent him this real long text about what to play and what not to play. In other words, she only wanted to hear Elvis and the Beatles the whole night. Now, I love the Beatles and have no problem with Elvis, but I really don't want to hear them exclusively for four hours in such a setting. Kayla and I then decided to bombard the DJ with texts for songs that could actually be danced to (not that there aren't Elvis or Beatles songs that can be danced to, but you know what I mean), since the dance floor was dead for much of the first hour or so. People did eventually get up and dance, myself included, which isn't necessarily a common occurrence. As my mom said, she hadn't seen me dance since "Tequila" at my cousin Vicki's wedding*. The DJ's name, by the way, is Ralph Antonelli. He did an excellent job and I definitely recommend him if you're looking for a DJ.

One of the big highlights of the night was something I didn't know was going to take place until a day or two before the party. My parents both turned 64 last month, so my sister had a cake made with the cover of the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" record on it. She hadn't told me ahead of time because she wasn't sure how doable it was going to be. I'm not sure where she had the cake made, but it got made and was quite tasty as well (banana caramel). We then presented the cake while the song played. It was really cool.

*- This took place in 1987, a few months shy of my seventh birthday. I went to the wedding wearing a gray suit with a red bowtie a la Pee-Wee Herman. At the reception, "Tequila" was played, so I took to the floor and did the "Pee-Wee Herman dance" much to the delight of everyone. If you're not familiar with the dance, I suggest you stop reading this at once and watch a clip of the biker bar scene from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. To this day, I can't go to any family gathering and not have someone say to me, "I remember you doing the Pee-Wee Herman at Vicki's wedding..." Footage of me doing the dance evidently still exists as well. I've obviously never seen it or else it probably wouldn't still exist. The song was played again at my parents' party, but fortunately, I was catching up with an old family friend at the time and didn't have to give an encore performance. I'm sure one of these years I won't be able to avoid it anymore. I know you are, but what am I?

Current mood: working

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2:58PM - These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside

Every moment I'm awake, the further I'm away??? Um, riiiight. Anyway...

I didn't go six months between posts this time. More like three and a half weeks. When we left off, I was going to see Elf at the Walnut Street Theater. It was an excellent show. Not as good as the movie, but still very enjoyable.

Significant snowfalls two of the last three days after not really having any the past couple years. Well, actually we did get some snow right before Halloween a couple years ago, but the unusual time of year made that event more noteworthy than any big accumulation. Sunday, we were supposed to get an inch or two and got eight. Which made for a memorable Eagles game at the Linc. The Eagles have had very few "snow games" in their history, and aside from the 1948 NFL Championship at Shibe Park, this was the most notable. The Eagles defeated the Lions on Sunday, 34-20 thanks to a 28-6 advantage in the fourth quarter. With the Cowboys losing last night, the Eagles have a one-game lead in the NFC East with a record of 8-5. With the way things have shaken out, it'd be disappointing to see the Eagles miss the playoffs (particularly since the Cowboys are the only other NFC East team that is still in playoff contention and they're the Cowboys, add to that the fact that the team who doesn't win the division probably will not have a good enough record to get in as a wild card), though this season has gone much better than I anticipated. I'm on record as picking them to go 5-11 this season. Needless to say, I'm happy to be wrong about that. The Eagles making the playoffs would also prevent 2013 from being just the third year in which all four major Philadelphia sports teams missed the playoffs in the same calendar year. It previously happened in 1972 and 1994. Yes, the 1994 MLB postseason was wiped out because of that godawful strike, but the Phillies were 14.5 games out of a playoff spot with 47 remaining on the schedule when the season was halted.

In other sports news, Roy Halladay announced his retirement yesterday. I've never been someone who has had a lot of favorite individual players in sports, but Halladay would be way up there. I always liked watching him when he was with the Blue Jays, and his 2010 and 2011 seasons as a Phillie were an absolute pleasure to watch. It's a shame he never did win a World Series with the Phils, but that doesn't take away from the pitcher he was while healthy. Fortunately, he knew when to walk away and not hang on too long.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there. Back to the snow, not nearly as much accumulation today, but early morning conditions warranted schools to be closed. That was a good and bad thing for Kayla. Good because obviously it's a snow day and snow days are good, especially when you haven't had one in three years (though she did get two days off due to Hurricane Sandy last year). Of course, too many snow days can be bad, as you get holidays taken away and pointless days tacked on at the end of the year and yada yada yada, your eighth grade graduation isn't until June 29. But it was also bad because she was only supposed to go a half day today for report card conferences. Kayla made second honors, so no conferences were requested, but it would've been cool to have a half day. I have to work a double today (this is that week where I'm only working three days but am still here 40 hours), which is also both a good thing and bad thing. Bad obviously because I'd rather be out sledding with Kayla or playing in the yard with Maggie in the snow. Kayla didn't come over today as far as I know, but probably would have if I was off. Oh, well. I'm sure there will be more snow days for us in the future. The good thing is that I didn't have to come in until 10 today. Normally if I have the early shift, I'm in at 8 or 9. While conditions for the commute in weren't ideal, things had greatly calmed down for me to get in at 10 as opposed to an hour or two earlier. Working late, the snow will have long since ended by the time I'm gone (although as I'm writing this, the snow does appear to have stopped). Hopefully there isn't a whole lot of ice out there, as the next few days are supposed to be quite cold. Saturday, we have tickets to see A Christmas Carol at the Walnut Street Theater. Saw it last year and liked it, though it's more directed towards kids. Kayla is going this time around, so that's a good thing. We weren't sure if she'd like it last year, so we didn't get her a ticket. She said she wanted to go this time. Fun times.

Speaking of Kayla, she turns 12 tomorrow. Time really flies, man. Been a great first dozen years with her. Hopefully many, many, many more to come. Everything good or bad the last 12 years has been worthwhile because she's been around. I really don't know what I'd do or where I'd be without her.

[And now for something completely different. (No life-changing news or anything like that, but I never use spoilers and this entry is kind of a long one)]

I've been having this really weird recurring dream. It happened again the other night, which makes roughly half a dozen times give or take over the past year or so. It's pretty much the same every time, with maybe just an insignificant detail here or there changing. I'm back in high school, or at least I assume it's high school because I recognize some of my classmates from both Frankford and Masterman. Anyone who is seeing this is probably aware that I attended both high schools for two years. I'm not sure if I am my current age in the dream or my age from back then, though everyone else seems to be high school-aged. Anyway, I'm walking through the hallways flanked by two friends. I'm not certain of their identities, as I never see their faces, though I would later know they were male. The hallways, by the way, have characteristics of both schools. In particular, I remember seeing one of those little ramps near the gym from Masterman's third floor and the angled wall/bulletin board from the main hallway of Frankford's first floor. It's late in my senior year, though that specific detail isn't immediately known. I'm extremely nervous, almost to the point of having a panic attack. Apparently, I'd been skipping science class the entire year, but had otherwise gotten straight A's. This fact became apparent because one of my friends (whose face I never see, but I do hear a male voice that I can't identify as belonging to someone I've ever known) said to me, "I can't believe you're not going to graduate because you never went to science!" And I'm like, "I know. All A's and an F." Another voice (a different person, but same deal as the one before) then says, "You still have time to pass if you start going." We walk into the classroom, which I recall having black-topped tables, a sink, and I think some plants. You know, your basic science classroom. I sit down for a couple seconds before deciding to walk out. I don't remember seeing a teacher. There were other students in the room, but I don't recall them reacting one way or another. I just quietly got up and left.

Where I went from the science room is unclear. I either wander around the school and/or jump ahead in time, because at one point I'm holding a report card in my hand, I believe near a stairwell. Those same two unidentified friends and I are staring at my report card in disbelief. I view each grade one by one. All A's...but then I realize my thumb is covering my science grade. I mutter to myself, "Might as well look and get it over with." I remove my thumb to find that I've gotten a B in science. In fact, I've gotten a B in science all four marking periods. For whatever reason, I was not previously aware of this. The two friends have also gotten B's and ask with a bit of disgust how I managed to get the same grade they got. Then a third male voice (same thing as the first two, except this didn't seem to be a person I was particularly close with) suddenly comes along and says, "Don't you remember? She (evidently "she" was the teacher) said everyone gets a B." I don't remember myself or anyone else saying anything further, but felt a tremendous sense of relief.

That's basically where the dream ended, at least as far as I can remember. What it all means, if anything, I'm not sure. This entry has gone on long enough, though, so no time to analyze now. Maybe I'll get a chance to do so in a few days (I do have another one of those infrequent early Friday shifts coming up this week, so that's a possibility). Maybe not. But I would like to get something out by next Tuesday, which will be the tenth anniversary of my first LJ post. Hard to believe, Harry.

Current mood: curious

Friday, November 15, 2013

4:30PM - Smiling's My Favorite

Make work your favorite, ok? Work is your new favorite.

Seeing Elf at the Walnut Street Theatre tonight. My sister had gotten tickets a while back and I guess I never exactly said no, so here we are. I do enjoy the movie, and the show has evidently gotten some good reviews, so I'm at least intrigued by it. Obviously there's no Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, or James Caan in this version, but I'm sure the cast will do a good job.

I hadn't realized it's been six months since I last posted on here. I could've sworn I did one over the summer at some point. Or maybe that was last summer. I suppose they all kind of blend in together when you start getting old!

Speaking of getting old, Kayla is now in sixth grade and will be 12 in slightly under a month. Good Lord. MaST has really been a welcome change for her, as her grades have been fantastic to this point. Her first official report card of this year doesn't come for another three weeks, but she did very well on her interim grades last month. We had another great summer together. Thanks to her mom's job, she came over every weekday including Mondays (in past scenarios, she'd come over Tuesday-Friday). Although she doesn't come over every day after school like last year, I still get to see her about the same amount of total time when Friday nights are included. Tonight will actually be a rare Friday where I don't see her, as I have the aforementioned show and she has other plans as well. Due to some construction, her school will be off all of Thanksgiving week. I rigged up the work schedule where I'll only be on two weekdays that week, and both of those will be late shifts.

Work has seen some changes. When I last posted, a new guy named Carl had just started. He actually wasn't new to the company, as he'd been here in the past and most recently had been an assistant to our Division II and III coordinator (who works in the same office) during college football season. He's worked out well and not surprisingly picked up on things quickly. About a month or so ago, Josh, who hails from Tucson, moved back there as his wife accepted a job in that area. When it was known that Josh was going to be leaving, we were informed that his position may not be filled right away. Having worked in a three-man injuries department for the better part of nine months back in 2010, I knew this was going to be less than ideal. Fortunately, our boss agreed (especially after seeing the schedules I was e-mailing) and decided to send us a part-timer named Charlie. Good guy, gets right into his work to the point we sometimes have to tell him to step back and take a little breather. We're hoping he eventually gets bumped up to full-time, but we'll take what we can get for now. Scheduling is still a bit of a challenge with a part-timer. We can all pretty much count on working a double shift or two per week, which of course is offset by a short day or two to make up for it. In fact, there's a week coming up where I have a scheduled fourth day off thanks to working my 40 hours over three days. This coming Sunday, I'm scheduled for 9am-1am. Of course, the chances I'm actually here (as usual, I'm posting from work) that late are pretty much nil, but that's gonna be quite a grind what with NFL and all. But again, there are many worse things I could be doing.

As far as I know, everything is still on for my parents' 40th anniversary party in March. It will be held at Edgemont Caterers in Bridesburg. My sister has gotten the "save the date" memos out and I've booked the DJ. I was kind of hoping to use a guy I worked with at FYE, but his agency's rates were a little bit more than I was willing to spend. The house DJ at the caterer comes fairly cheap, so that was the choice. He likes to meet up with his clients, so I guess I'll eventually have to do that when it gets close to the party. I don't even know what I'd tell him to play. I'm not very good at this party planning stuff, especially for people who don't really seem to like parties to begin with. The best I can do is probably not make it a complete train wreck. I wish I could be a little more enthusiastic about this whole shindig, but I can't help but envisioning 50-60some people just sitting around and barely even talking for four awkward hours. Maybe that's a little extreme, though. My dad's retirement party was enjoyable, and nobody was exactly cutting a rug there, either.

If all else fails, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Wait, what? Anyway, I'm due to leave work in a half hour, so best to be wrapping this up. In the event that another six months pass before I post on here again, I'll let you know how the party went

Current mood: contemplative

Saturday, May 18, 2013

11:48AM - Altogether fitting and proper that we should do this

...and we're back. Now, you might be wondering why I have a quote from the Gettysburg Address for the title. No, I didn't get smart all of a sudden. Kayla had her class trip there this past Thursday, and I was a chaperone. It was a lot of fun, and also quite the experience to stand on the same ground where such an important battle in American history took place. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to accompany her on more class trips as she gets older.

If there was one negative to the Gettysburg trip, it was dinner. We ate at General Pickett's Buffet. It's tough to complain about a free meal and you have to be thankful for the school for picking up the tab. Unfortunately, the food was not good at all. The popcorn chicken bites were decent (and for all we know may have even come from the KFC next door) and the mashed potatoes were passable. And they have some pretty good sweet tea. But...their green beans were tasteless, roast beef was tough and fatty, what was supposedly stuffing tasted like paper, and the barbecued pulled pork was so bad that I lost what was left of my appetite. The desserts looked good, but by that point I had no interest in eating anything else. For about the first 15 minutes or so on the ride back home, I had serious doubts as to whether or not I was going to be able to keep it down. Which, of course, would've sucked for everyone since it was about a two and a half hour ride. Fortunately, it stayed down despite a couple close calls and disaster was averted. Still, even that couldn't ruin what was a great day overall.

Speaking of close calls, I had another bout with my eosinophilic esophagitis a couple days before the Gettysburg trip. Interestingly, it occurred as I was eating pork chops like last time. This time, however, I did not end up in the hospital. It should also be noted that pork chops were not the culprit this time. I was eating rice, and it evidently clumped up on the way down and got stuck. Unlike last time, a hospital visit was not required as I was able to work the situation out on my own. It was still kinda scary for a little while, though. Hopefully these were just a couple of isolated incidents that happened to take place during a very short time period. I'd rather avoid hospital visits and endoscopies for the time being.

Went to the Phillies game last night, part of our ticket plan. No notable fan stories came out of it, which was a little surprising considering they blew a 3-0 lead although they did ultimately win the game, 5-3 over the Reds. Anyway, coming home from the game, my sister told me she'd like to do something for my parents next March for their 40th wedding anniversary. I agreed that it would be nice, but as we got to talking about it, I started getting this feeling in the back of my mind that it could end up being an exercise in futility. The first things my sister mentioned were a party or a trip. We more or less shot down the trip idea right away because they really don't like to travel and there doesn't seem to be anywhere they'd like to go that they haven't already been. We're both a little hesitant about having a party because outside of our family, we have absolutely no clue as to who we'd invite. I also get the feeling it would pretty much be a repeat of my dad's retirement party. Not that his retirement party was lame or anything like that, because it wasn't by a long shot. In retrospect, however, I also realized it was basically four hours of everyone sitting at their tables and not really doing much else (Of course, that may have had something to do with the music selection. See, I was originally in charge of that aspect since I had a six-disc CD changer. Unfortunately, it broke about a week or two before the party and I was unable to get a replacement in time. I also did not have a working MP3 player at the time, so the duties ended up falling to my sister. Now, I love my sister, but let's just say her taste in music is very limited. When you have a party where the age range of the attendees is large, you're best served with a diverse playlist. Needless to say, that wasn't the case. The dance floor was empty the whole night. I did feel bad, though, because she at least tried). We also kicked around the idea of simply having a catered dinner, which could end up being the most sensible option and likely the one they'd be the most receptive to. Of course, my parents don't really go out to eat, save for once in a great while with myself and Kayla. And even that generally requires some persuading.

Geez. I know I'm basically a homebody myself these days, but trying to coordinate something for two people who don't travel, rarely go out to eat, and don't really have any friends (at least not any that they go out with) is going to be a challenge. Guess I'll have to check back in about ten months to see how their two score and zero years ago anniversary turns out.

Current mood: okay

Monday, April 15, 2013

11:58PM - Wake up, Maggie, I think I've got something to say to you

I know I always seem to go a long time between posts and say I'd like to post more, but I honestly didn't realize it had been as long as it was this time. My last post came shortly after the New Year, and I could've sworn I'd updated since then. Evidently not...

There's a new dog in the house, a black lab puppy named Maggie. We got her during the last weekend of February. Her given name was actually Zina, but that is also the name of one of our next door neighbors, so that was out. My mom thought she looked like a Maggie, so Maggie it was. She's four months old now and has been great. She has some occasional biting issues, but they've slowly been going away. House training was a breeze, Maggie was basically fine in that area after a couple weeks. For her safety, she has a crate that she goes in when nobody is home, but she's cool with it. She sometimes goes in there on her own when she's tired. When she gets a little bigger, the crate probably won't be necessary. Of course, the cats enjoy going in there when Maggie's not, so maybe we'll just keep it around.

To be honest, I wasn't certain about adopting another lab so soon after Hunter died, but I think it'll all work out. I had been looking into getting a greyhound, as the clinic on Dutton Road (where Hunter was cremated) runs a greyhound adoption at very reasonable prices. Before I could really get serious about it, everything with Maggie fell into place. Needless to say, that's perfectly fine with me, though I still may revisit the greyhound thing in a couple years when Maggie is fully grown.

As far as the usual stuff, things are basically the same. Kayla made honors once again as her school year starts to wind down. Next month, the fifth grade in her school will be going on a trip to Gettysburg. I put my name in to be a chaperone and sure enough, I got picked. The trip is on May 16, so that should be pretty cool. I just have to remember sometime beforehand that I need to get security scanned at the school in order to be allowed to chaperone. Probably not as complicated as it seems, but it's the world we live in.

Speaking of which, two bombs were detonated at the finish line of today's Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring many, many more. Just horrific and as always, you really wonder what drives a person to do such a thing. One of the deceased was eight years old. What could they have possibly done to hurt anyone? Sick, sick, sick.

Here at work, we'll soon have an opening. Luke is leaving to take a youth counseling (I forget what exactly it entails, but it's along those lines) job in Newark, NJ. Hate to see him go, but obviously it's a great opportunity that he'd be crazy to decline. Not sure if his position will be filled internally or if there will be a full search. Interestingly, if it is filled internally, it would mean I'd be the only person in the injuries department who was an outside hire. Yesterday, Luke and I were joking that maybe Z will call to get his job back. I was probably tempting fate there. Seriously, I'd straight up quit on the spot if that happened regardless of if I had another job lined up or not. I'd work overnight at Wawa and look for jobs during the day if I had to. Absence has not made the heart grow fonder in this case. The further removed I am from working with Z, the less I miss working with Z. It's a shame, because deep down he's a good guy, but it just got to the point where it was insufferable having him here. Of course, our boss felt the same way by the end, so I'd highly doubt we'd have anything to worry about even if he did try to come crawling back again.

One kind of random thing happened about a week or so ago. The funny thing is it involved Facebook and an ex-girlfriend from high school. Don't worry, I think I've learned my lesson when it comes to that. Suffice it to say, there are some aspects of that very brief, but strange period of my life that I miss (I worked out like an absolute demon for about two months, lost a bunch of weight, and felt better than I had in over a decade. I still try to take care of myself now, but I guess that pace was unsustainable. I wasn't even doing it to impress her, but I guess the whole thing gave me tons of pent-up energy that I needed to release. I'd like to have that spark again without the whole other thing). Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. So this girl sends me a message on Facebook asking how I've been, the usual. I thought it was weird, because we've been friends on there for a couple of years but have had very few interactions. Not only that, but we haven't seen or talked to each other in person in about 13 years. I checked her page, and sure enough, her relationship status had changed. Part of me felt like replying with "It's not 1998 anymore, you can't just come looking for me whenever things don't work out with your boyfriend" but I decided to be civil. Haven't heard from her since, so perhaps she came to the same conclusion. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Ah, never a dull moment. Or more accurately, many dull moments with intermittent weird ones mixed in. Whatever works.

Current mood: complacent

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2:12AM - Hunter's Last Days

Unreal how things work out sometimes. Unfortunately, it's in a negative way this time around. In my last entry, I noted how Hunter was having some health problems that I wasn't certain were fixable. Well, it turns out as I was writing that, he was in the process of having what we believe was a stroke (or more likely the most major in a series of them) that would ultimately take his life two days later. It's been three weeks since Hunter passed away, and it's been a tough go without him around.

As I'd mentioned, in the week before my last entry, Hunter had some good days. Though obviously still struggling to walk, he seemed a bit more alert and had gotten some of his appetite back. He sort of took a step back that weekend, but not to the point where he was gravely ill or anything like that. Then Monday, December 17 came around. I was working the early shift that day, and as was usually the case, I went to see if Hunter wanted to go for a walk. When healthy, you wouldn't even have to ask him. As soon as he saw me with my cap and jacket on, he'd start looking for his leash. He'd get especially excited if Kayla was there. That was the case on this particular day, but when I asked if he wanted to walk, there was no reaction. He just didn't have the strength. Kayla and I sat with Hunter a while, but all he could do was rest his head in our laps. The reality was starting to sink in that he wasn't going to get better. Later, I told Kayla that after the holidays, we'd probably have to take Hunter to the vet and there might not be anything they could do for him. I never said what the end result would be, but she knew. We both agreed that the best thing would be for Hunter to not be in pain anymore. We never did take him for another walk. That night, my dad and I let him out to go to the bathroom. He could no longer walk on his own and could barely even stand up. We more or less had to carry him in and out. A month earlier, he'd been perfectly fine. It was absolutely heartbreaking. After letting him back in, he laid down in front of the main living room couch (the room that had been my sister's now serves as sort of a second living room, which is where the TV and stuff are kept), one of his favorite spots in the house. I laid down next to him, rubbing his head. With tears in my eyes, I told him, "You did the best you could. You don't have to stick around just for us. You'll always be my buddy."

During that difficult last month, Hunter often yelped in pain through the night (during the day wasn't always so bad, but it seemed to intensify at night). The yelps were fewer and further between that night. On Tuesday, I worked the late shift and thus slept a little longer in the morning. Hunter had moved into the secondary living room and spent most of the day lying on the floor. I don't recall him crying out in pain at all that day. When it was time to get Kayla at school before heading to work, I gave Hunter a biscuit and told him the customary "Be good. I'll see you when I get home" with "Your Kayla's coming" added on. (Kayla and Hunter were extremely attached to one another, to the point where Kayla was always "Your Kayla" when we mentioned her to him). I got home from work around 1:15 AM that night. Hunter was more or less in the same spot as when I left, with a blanket covering his midsection. Normally, he didn't like to have blankets on for more than a few seconds at a time. He seemed much more peaceful than he'd been in a while. In fact, anyone unaware of the situation probably wouldn't have been able to tell that he was in any pain at all. Nala, who of our five cats is the one we've had the longest, spent the night sleeping on a blanket next to him. My parents had alternated nights sleeping downstairs (my dad on the couch in the main living room, my mom on the secondary one) the previous week or two in case of an emergency. On this night, my mom stayed downstairs. I went to sleep sometime around 2:30. Hunter was quiet that night. I figured he'd exhausted himself from the previous night, which had happened a couple times before after a particularly rough night. My sleep would be interrupted twice, but for the standard reasons. The first was my 4:30 AM alarm that I no longer have any use for, but keep on for psychological reasons (There was a time when Kayla would occasionally have to get dropped off at 4:45 AM. No longer the case, but now I keep it on so I can get pissed at the alarm going off then be happy to realize I still have at least three hours of sleep left. I'm not sure it really helps, but I do it every morning). The second was my 7:45 alarm, which is for when I have to be in work at 9. I've turned it off and forgotten to turn it back on a couple times too many, so now I just leave it on. As I was off that Wednesday and the two days that followed, I could just dismiss the alarm and go back to sleep. I wasn't able to go back to sleep right away, but did eventually doze off a little after 8. I wouldn't stay asleep for very long, though.

At approximately 8:35 AM on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, my dad knocked on my door. Although he's a pretty quiet person, my dad is rarely at a loss for words when he does speak. This time, though, all he was able to say was, "Jack...if you want to come downstairs...Hunter just died." I quickly sprang up and let out a hushed "NO!" I could see my dad had been crying, and he explained to me that Hunter was laying there they couldn't even tell he'd stopped breathing until they got close to him. I went to see him, and it was exactly as my dad had described. From a distance, it appeared as though he was sleeping on his side. Even looking at him from the front, it looked like he was just laying on the floor. His eyes were open. But the unmistakable moving of his belly up and down had stopped and his tongue was sticking out on the other side of his mouth. I knelt down beside Hunter, put my arms around him, my head on his and said, "It's OK, bud. You're better now." A couple stray tears rolled down my cheeks, though that was oddly all the crying I did that morning. Between bouts of tears, my mom told me Hunter had tried to get up earlier that morning but just couldn't make it. He'd fought until the very end.

The next decision we had to make was what to do with Hunter. My dad initially wanted to bury him in the backyard, but Hunter was simply too big for such a burial. My parents found an animal hospital on Dutton Rd. that also does greyhound adoptions and has a crematorium. My mom said her last goodbyes (Hunter took up the whole backseat of the car, and I don't think she could bear to go with us anyway) and we took Hunter on his final journey. The animal hospital did the cremation and gave us Hunter's ashes in a box the next day.

The time eventually came to pick Kayla up from school. I'd already determined that I wouldn't tell her on the ride back, that I'd have to do it face to face. I'd have to do it quickly, though, as Kayla would often go check on Hunter when she got in. Hunter seemed to save up a lot of his energy that final month for when Kayla was over, there was a noticeable difference when she wasn't around. I'm convinced that he would not allow himself to die in her presence. When we got in, I told Kayla to sit on the couch in the main living room for a minute. I'm not sure if she had any idea what I was about to tell her next. I wasn't sure if I'd even be able to get the words out. It's never easy to say something that you know is going to break someone's heart. I sat next to Kayla, turned to face her and said softly, "Hunter died this morning." After a brief pause to digest what she'd just heard, Kayla buried her head on my leg and cried uncontrollably for several minutes. This was when I lost it as well. I put my head on hers and tried to whisper anything I could think of to comfort her. I told her Hunter was no longer in pain, how much he loved her, how she was what kept him going, to think of all the great times we had. She told me Hunter was the best dog ever and that nothing would ever be the same again. I told her she was right and that this will hurt for a while, but that's OK. It hurts so much because we loved him so much. I said there were a lot of tears in the house that day, but I also reminded her of one of my favorite quotes: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." After all, there were a lot more good times than bad with Hunter. Kayla picked up a red blanket that Hunter liked to lay on the couch with and cried some more. I told her she could keep that blanket. My mom offered to wash it for her, but Kayla wanted it as is. She keeps it by her bed at home now.

We picked up Hunter's ashes on Thursday. Kayla had no homework, as it was the next-to-last night before Christmas vacation. We'd decided to spread some of the ashes in Hunter's favorite places in Burholme Park. We gathered those, then took some of the residue and rubbed it on the cats, so Hunter could live on through them in a way. Spreading the ashes through the park was a very therapeutic experience, as we remembered all the fun we had and funny things that happened. We made sure to take enough of the ashes to spread around throughout the park, including the creek that runs through the back woods. I told Kayla that as long as Burholme Park is there, Hunter will be a part of it. The remainder of Hunter's ashes are still on the mantel. I've left it up to my parents to decide what they're going to do with them. They'd initially planned to bury them in the backyard, but I'm not sure they've worked up the nerve to go through with it yet.

Three weeks later, it still seems weird not having Hunter around. It's the little things that you miss. No more tossing a biscuit or two when I'm going out or to work. Nobody waiting for me when I get home. Silence when the doorbell rings or the oven timer goes off. That sort of thing. It really hit me the other day how much exercise I've lost not having Hunter to walk anymore. When the weather was nice, we'd go on some epic walks that covered three to four miles round trip sometimes. There's a track outside Jeanes Hospital that we walked around occasionally. I may start running around it now. I was never much of a runner even when I was in the best of shape, so that could get interesting.

I've always been someone who is able to get over things and move on quickly, so it probably would shock many how difficult this has been for me. Hunter's not the first dog I've had that's passed away, and in all likelihood won't be the last. I've loved all my dogs equally as much. If you're a pet of mine, no matter what kind, I consider you part of the family. They do say Labrador Retrievers are one of the easiest dogs to form a bond with, and I believe it. Hunter was in my life for only five years, but it felt like we were lifelong buddies. His death was going to be devastating regardless of what time of year it occurred, but happening a week before Christmas only magnified that. As far as dogs go, Labs are generally middle of the road when it comes to lifespan. Hunter was by no means a puppy, but about a month earlier it seemed as though he had at least a few good years left in him. Six, seven weeks later, he's gone. It all happened so fast. My first dog, Murphy (a sheepdog mix who was actually three years older than me), died suddenly when I was almost 11, but we were able to take some comfort in knowing he lived a full life. My other dogs, Phoebie and Casey (both Basset hounds) died at the ages of 12 and 13, respectively. In their case, both had cancer among other health issues. Even though you're never really prepared for it, you knew their time was coming. With Hunter, it just felt like he had so much life left in him that was ultimately taken away. But, as I told Kayla, you can never take anything for granted and we can be thankful we made the most of the time together that we did have.

When the time is right, I'm sure we'll get another dog. When that time will be, I don't know. It could be a few weeks, a few months, it could be several years. He/she won't be Hunter, nor will he/she be expected to be Hunter. Nobody can ever be Hunter, just as nobody can ever be Murphy, Phoebie, or Casey. All were special in their own way. All are missed, but the memories last a lifetime. Kayla's been struggling through this, too, thinking she could've done more. I told her not to be silly. Without Kayla, Hunter probably wouldn't have lasted as long as he did in the end. I also told her it turned out there wasn't anything anyone could've done. Ultimately, Hunter saved us from having to make a decision that would've broken our hearts even more, even if it was the right thing to do. Maybe he's up there somewhere playing with Murphy, Phoebie, and Casey.

Kind of a long and somber first entry for 2013. But time heals all wounds. I miss Hunter terribly. We all do. I also know that nothing can take away all those great times we had. After all, five years of smiles outweigh one month of tears. Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened? I've done quite a bit of both, but something tells me I'll be doing a lot more of the latter as time marches on.


Current mood: calm

Monday, December 17, 2012

2:53PM - Number 9, number 9, number 9...

...and we're back for the random LJ cameo appearance. Actually, this one isn't so random. Looking through my calendar the other day, I noticed that I made my first LJ entry on this particular date nine years ago. Geez. That's kinda crazy to think I've been at this for that long. Of course, I only update this thing a handful of times a year anymore, so it's not like anyone has really missed anything lately.

As for the "how's everybody doing" update, it's going well. Kayla took to MaST very quickly and made honors for the first report period. She turned 11 last week, which of course is pretty crazy itself. I'm doing OK myself. Had a little credit union mishap the other day (no fault of my own or the Credit Union). Evidently, some online scam joint called got a hold of my checking account number and withdrew $99.95. How this happened, I don't know. I noticed the charge late Friday night and called the credit union on Saturday morning. They're putting in a fraudulent transaction claim on my behalf, so hopefully it gets taken care of soon. Although my Christmas shopping is more or less finished except for a few minor things, it isn't the greatest time of year to be losing 100 bucks for no apparent reason. Our dog, Hunter, has been having some health problems lately. A lot of the problems seem to be in his hips and back legs. It's tough for him to get up and walk sometimes. He did better the past week than he had the previous two or three, so that's at least encouraging. Still, I imagine he'll have to get checked out at some point after the holidays if he can hold out that long. Just hope whatever he has is fixable.

I've generally tried to avoid social, political, etc. issues on here. That said, what happened in Newtown, CT this past Friday absolutely rocked a nation to the core. It really seems like the straw that broke the camel's back on many issues, and hopefully further action will truly be taken on them. Though I am a parent, I don't think you need to be one to be heartbroken for the parents of those kids. The pain and grief they are going through is not something I can ever imagine wishing upon anyone. May they find strength and comfort in any way possible.

So nine years, huh? Kind of cool to look back and see how I've evolved over that time. A brief summary of each year? Don't mind if I do!

2003/04: Will combine these two, as I didn't make my first post until very late in '03. A time of great turmoil in my life, as I started the account while in the beginning stages of a divorce that became final during the summer of '04. Kayla had just turned two, and the hardest part of leaving was the knowledge that I would not be seeing her everyday. All these years later, that's still the hardest part. As I've mentioned numerous times, though, I am fortunate that still I get to see her on a somewhat regular basis.

Elsewhere, I was hired as a gameday employee for the Eagles and Temple football. Unfortunately, I was never called to actually report to work and repeated calls to them went unreturned. In November, I made my first trip to Disney World, going with Kayla, my mom, and my sister. I'd return there three years later. Both trips were fantastic.

2005: Looking back, this may have been the most difficult year of my life. Yes, there was the whole divorce thing that took up parts of the previous two years. That had long been settled by the time 2005 came around and it was kind of a case of "OK, now what?" The problem was, I didn't have any answers. As a result, I started to feel lost in life, an outsider if you will. For the most part, I've always been a bit of a loner, but I was extremely distant during this time. In the unlikely event anyone who had any kind of relationship with me that year is reading this, sorry about that. It wasn't you, it was me. Fortunately, I had Kayla to reel me in and stop me from being too far gone.

On the plus side, the Eagles played in the Super Bowl (it was the 2004 season, but the game itself was played in 2005) for the first time since I was five months old. It didn't turn out the way I'd hoped, but it was still a fun ride.

2006: Much of the first half was a continuation of 2005. In fact, things were getting much worse until a change that I never saw coming happened. I was pretty much at my wit's end when a friend messaged me on MySpace (yeah, remember that?) letting me know about a job opening I may be interested in. With nothing to lose, I applied. Sure enough, I got called for an interview and was hired on the spot. The next day, I gave my notice at FYE. On June 19, 2006, I started at The Sports Network, the job I currently hold (and where I am writing this from). It was tough to leave the guys at FYE, but it was a no-brainer to accept the Sports Network position. At any job, there are good days and bad days, times when you wish you were anywhere else in the world. That's no different here, but it's still a largely enjoyable job and even on days when things don't go well, it doesn't take long to realize there's a lot worse stuff in the world I could be doing.

Money has never been particularly important to me, but it was at least reassuring to know I could comfortably take care of Kayla and have a little left over for myself when necessary. In previous posts I mentioned how late in my FYE tenure I once had $10 to get me through a week. Granted, that was an extreme circumstance due to multiple factors, but still. I like Lance crackers and Rosenberger's iced tea, but they're not things one should live on!

2007: While "content" might be too strong a word, I would say 2007 was a very comfortable year. At the very least, I lost that dreadful dead end feeling and saw myself moving in some sort of positive direction for the first time in quite a while. Kayla entered kindergarten at St. Timothy's. In early November, on a whim, my mom adopted a four-year old Yellow Labrador Retriever who answered to the name of Hunter. His recent health issues are concerning, but it's been a great five years with him. He's been about as great a pet as you can have.

The Phillies rallied from seven games back with 17 to go to win the National League East in '07, their first postseason appearance since 1993. Of course, the Phils were swept by the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS, but much better times were not far away.

2008: A big year that saw some significant changes. After 34 years, my dad retired from the Philadelphia Fire Department shortly after the New Year. Over the summer, it was time to say goodbye to Juniata for a second time as we moved to Fox Chase. The move was a gradual process. Settlement on the house was in late July, though I didn't officially move in until early September. My parents took even longer, they weren't at the new house full-time until February of 2009. Kayla entered first grade in the fall, which meant helping out with homework on a regular basis. It was much easier to do that then, I will occasionally get stumped on some stuff now!

The big story in Philadelphia in 2008 was, of course, the Phillies winning the World Series on October 29. To that point, the last major Philly team to win a championship had been the Sixers in 1983. I was not quite three years old when that happened, so I'd never experienced anything like that before. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. My only regret was not thinking to record my reaction when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske for the final out. It's not something one can ever re-create. To put it in words, as soon as Hinske swung through the pitch, I jumped off the couch, jumped up and down while hugging my dad, rolled around on the floor a couple of times, laughed hysterically for a little bit, went out front and screamed some nonsense at the top of my lungs, then went back in to watch all the ceremonies. Haven't gotten to experience it again since, but hopefully that'll be rectified sometime in the not-too-distant future.

2009: With all that went on in 2008, 2009 was more of a settling down kind of year. It could easily be described as complacent, perhaps too much so. If anyone followed my LJ posts from the beginning, they'd notice my updates became far less frequent in '09. Basically, it was because a lack of interesting things were happening on a personal level. One thing I did feel was a lack of energy. I'm still not sure why. I never felt depressed in any way, nor did I go through anything remotely like I felt in 2005 and the first half of 2006. Maybe I had some undetected illness or something. We may never know.

Kayla's interest in sports really took off in 2009. She liked the teams and stuff before then, but in '09 she started to sit with me at Phillies games (before then, she would stay with my mom in the family lounge). She'd already been to Flyers games before, but she started becoming aware of what was happening on the ice at this time. We went to some Sixers games, too, and she was hooked. The Phillies went back to the World Series in 2009, but lost to the Yankees in six games. Early in the season, Harry Kalas died suddenly before a game in Washington. To me, Harry was like a family member. I wondered if it was OK to feel like that, since I'd only met him twice and interacted with him a grand total of about 30 seconds. But then I realized that so many others felt just as I did and were never lucky enough to have met Harry.

2010: This year was all over the place. It was the snowiest winter on record in Philadelphia, which led to a lot of great snow days off with Kayla. A change at work (and some controversy shortly thereafter) left the injuries department with just three people, resulting in each one of us working almost exclusively in isolation for eight and a half months. For the first time in a while, I went through some financial hardships, some of it my fault, some of it not. The only time I really felt the strain was in the summer, when Kayla was over every Tuesday through Friday but I couldn't really do all the stuff I wanted. The realization that I'd be turning 30 that summer led to me really trying to get into better shape, something I'm still working on now. It has its ups and downs, but I knew going in it was going to take a while from the decade of damage I did to my body in my 20s. On November 23, my Grandmom Redfern passed away at the age of 83 due to complications from Alzheimer's Disease. She was my last surviving grandparent, and the only one who was still living when Kayla was born. It's a shame that she never really got to know Kayla due to her condition. I know she would have enjoyed being around her. After needing a shootout victory on the final day of the regular season just to reach the playoffs, the Flyers ended up making it all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Included was overcoming a 3-0 deficit against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. What a wild and crazy run that was. Kayla also started playing hockey, street hockey that is. Her team won the championship. Very rewarding to experience that from a parental point of view, I must say.

On another personal note, I reconnected with a girl I'd had a short but very eventful relationship with during my senior year at Frankford. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say she was the first girl I loved. Much like when we were together before, there were times when it appeared things would turn up a notch. But much like when we were together before, it seemed like every step forward was followed with two steps back. What we came to realize was that despite whatever similarities remained, it was the 1998 version of each other that we loved and that version wouldn't really work in 2010. Even though things didn't work out the way we'd hoped, at least there was some closure once and for all. I wish her well, but am glad to leave her in the past for good. I have to laugh looking back on it now, as I really did allow her to drive me nuts all over again even after I swore I wouldn't. Thankfully I had Kayla around, as I was still able to keep my priorities in order. I might've gone off the deep end without her. Although this girl and I weren't in a relationship this time around, I also came to the realization that "Relationship Jack" is not a guy I'm ever going to be very fond of.

2011: I think everyone goes through periods of depression in their life, though some are obviously much more extreme and prolonged than others. It got me for a time in 2011. To be honest, I'm not really sure what triggered it. Just kinda happened, I guess. Wasn't the first time it happened, but it was a little more severe this time. Though it took a little longer, it did pass, and I was able to get on with things. I saw Kayla even more than the previous summer. I avoided the mistakes of the previous year and we had a really great time together. I think I was even more sorry than she was about school starting again.

I did have a little (fortunately as it turned out, very minor) health scare in October of 2011. It all started one night when my dinner got lodged in my esophagus. There was no choking involved, but I had to go to the hospital and get an endoscopy to remove the obstruction. I was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, which is more or less an allergy that causes my esophagus to swell and leads to difficulty swallowing. It's nothing too severe, but something I'll always need to be mindful of. An interesting thing that came out of this is that I can no longer drink soda. That wasn't a doctor's order or anything, but whenever I tried to drink it, I felt sick immediately afterwards. I've been soda-free for about a year now. In the long run, that should be a good thing.

2012: Minus the depression and hospital visit, 2012 has been similar to 2011 in many ways. Nothing really monumental happening on a personal level, just making the most of my time with Kayla. Her visits weren't quite as frequent as the previous two years, but it seemed like we got a lot out of them. As mentioned earlier, she left St. Tim's and started at MaST, a move that has really agreed with her to this point.

I guess I can't say too much more about 2012 since we're still living in it. Maybe in another nine years, I'll have a more thorough recap. Maybe.

Current mood: contemplative

Sunday, July 8, 2012

8:37PM - Learned Stickball as a Formal Education

Well, well, well, whaddaya know? Another Sunday double, another LJ entry. Obviously not a coincidence. Two of the guys were unavailable this weekend, so that's what happens. It's all good, though I wish I'd gotten a little better night's sleep last night. Kinda lost track of time, then had a little trouble falling asleep once I tried to do so. My room doesn't have the best ventilation, which isn't a problem most of the year, but we've been stuck in a massive heat wave for about the past two weeks and unless you sleep on the floor, you really don't feel much central air. I do have a fan, but that only helps a little.

Kayla has been away since Saturday of last week, as she's down the shore. She comes back tomorrow and I'll likely see her again Tuesday, but it'll end up being one of the longest periods of time I've ever gone without seeing her. Anyone who has ever read this journal knows me and being apart from Kayla for extended periods of time don't go together so well. This time wasn't so bad, I guess because she has a cell phone that she shares with Thomas and I was able to text her from time to time. The worst part has been the past couple days. I think it didn't really hit me until Friday, when I was at the Phillies game and she wasn't there. During the school year, she doesn't go to games that fall on school nights, but obviously a Friday night during the summer does not fit that category. I told her I'll get tickets to another game to make up for her missing that one. The way the Phils have played, that won't be too difficult. Which is a good thing in a way but also a very bad thing at the same time.

The title of this post is due to the fact that Kayla has joined a stickball league at the Lower Mayfair Rec Center, where she also played hockey (not sure if she will be able to continue hockey now that she isn't going to St. Tim's anymore). And by stickball, I don't mean Wiffle Ball. Actually, I have nothing against Wiffle Ball (except maybe for the hipster/frat boy element that it's taken on in recent years), I've just always been more of a stickball guy as the facilities growing up in Juniata were more conducive to it. Anyway, they play on Thursday mornings through August 9, or August 16 if her team reaches the championship. The league was open for grades 3-8, so it's bouncers as opposed to speed pitch. Kayla was 1-for-2 in her debut, legging out an infield single to the general area of shortstop (I say general area because everyone on the team plays the field at the same time and there's a dozen or so players per team) in her first at-bat. In her second at-bat, she hit a little blooper between the pitcher and first base that initially landed in no-man's land but kind of egged back to the first baseman, who stepped on the bag for the final out in what was a 1-0 loss for Kayla's team. Had it been a little further away from the bag, she would've beaten that one out because it would've been too far away to step on first and there wouldn't have been enough time to throw to the mound for the call out. But hey, that's stickball.

An interesting development is that Thomas also signed up to play. I'm not sure that he's necessarily the most willing participant, but it's good to see him getting out once in a while. He batted once in his first game and struck out using one of those little bammer bats. It was entirely too small for him, so I told him I'd make a regular stickball bat if he wanted. So I fashioned a bat out of one of Kayla's old hockey sticks and also cut open a Wiffle Ball bat and stuffed it with newspaper like we used to do back in the day. Maybe he'll give them a try when he plays again on Thursday.

Regardless of how their season plays out, it's cool to be around stickball again. I have I played organized baseball for 13 years, but played in countless stickball games in Hopkinson's schoolyard. The way Hopo was set up, there were a couple "fields" where we could play bouncers (that was what we called that version, though I'm sure there are many other colloquialisms) while drawing up strike zones on the walls of the school for speed pitch. I always pitched very well in "speed," but interestingly I was a much better hitter when it came to actual baseball. I never could quite figure out why. I mean, in baseball you can never be 100 percent certain which pitch you're going to see. In stickball it was basically straight fastballs with a tennis ball (occasionally we'd play halfball, but usually opted for speed pitch and the whole ball). Dunno, maybe I just saw baseballs better than tennis balls.

Whatever, it's all cool. Maybe somewhere there's a wireball league. Or maybe sockey or bike polo. Probably a negative on those last two. Learned the hard way those really don't work very well. But that's another story for another time, if it hasn't been told on here already.

Current mood: thoughtful

Sunday, June 10, 2012

8:47PM - Here's my number, so call me maybe

Ahhhh, just a sleepy Sunday night here at The Sports Network. Working a double shift today, which isn't something we normally do this time of year, but a couple guys were at the Phillies game in Baltimore today and it was tough to make a schedule that made any sense otherwise. It hasn't been so bad, got in at 10 and will be out as soon as the Sunday Night Baseball game ends. All the other games have finished, so naturally I hope this one goes by pretty quickly.

The Phillies, well, they've been having a rough time of it so far this season. It's been frustrating since most of their losses are close, but hey hey what can I do? Still a whole lot of season left to turn things around, though it would be nice if they got something going soon or as Yogi Berra might say it'll start getting late early.

In nine days, I will officially have been working at The Sports Network for six years. As you might expect, in some ways it feels like I've been here forever and in others it seems like just yesterday I gave my notice at FYE. We have a good group in the injuries department right now and I don't wake up dreading having to come here, so I think I'll be sticking around a while longer. It'll be tough finding something else I'm more qualified for, would enjoy as much, and would provide the flexibility I need to see Kayla as much as I do.

This coming week will not only be Kayla's last in fourth grade, but also her last at St. Tim's. Emotions are mixed, as she's exicted about what the future at MaST holds but sad about leaving her friends. This summer will be a little different than last, as Kayla won't be coming over every Tuesday through Friday morning (Dawn has been out of work since early January due to a couple of neck surgeries), so we'll just have to make the most of what we've got. We're taking this year off from the Phillies road trip thing, although if their series in Minnesota this coming week had been played next week, we'd probably be going. Still, there's a whole summer ahead of us and it'll be cool to be able to do things a little more spontaneously for a change instead of seemingly having everything planned out in advance.

One thing that definitely wasn't planned was my glasses breaking, which is exactly what happened this past Friday. Not sure how it happened, but I took them off for a few minutes and when I went to put them back on, the right lens popped out. When I went to put it back in, I noticed the frame was broken. I tried to Super Glue them back together, but they kept coming apart when I would put the lens back in. So I had to tape them together. Right now, I look like a Hanson brother or something. "Hey Ogie, buy you a soda after the game?"

My glasses breaking made me realize I'm way overdue for an eye exam. So I called for an appointment on Saturday morning, but there was nothing available that was compatible with my schedule until Friday. Now, I could just go and buy a new pair of glasses, but I think that would be pointless to do before my exam since the prescription will likely change. Guess that means I'll have to go with the nerd look until then. Maybe I'll invest in a pocket protector. I do know that I went into Wawa this morning and had a sudden urge to buy a pack of hard boiled eggs. Surprisingly, I've been out in public and have yet to be asked what happened to my glasses. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe people are just minding their business, haven't noticed (which is basically impossible since it's pretty hard to miss), or just think I get beat up a lot. The tape can be a little distracting, but I think I'll survive a few more days. Just have to be gentle with them, I suppose.

For now, though it's back to work. Or more accurately, inventing ways of staying busy the next couple hours. Where you think you're going, baby?

Current mood: geeky

Friday, May 4, 2012

1:50PM - Good luck with alllllllll THAT....

Yes, LJ lives on. Took quite a bit of time, but here I am with the first post of 2012. Don't know how much more I'll be making because, let's face it, very few if any humans besides myself have seen these entries over the past two or three years. Like they say, it is what it is.

Some things have changed in the six months since I last posted, some have not. Kayla will no longer be attending St. Tim's after this school year, as she will head to MaST Charter (not to be confused with Masterman, the school I attended from fifth to tenth grade) in the fall. Like myself, she'll be attending a new school in fifth grade, although in her case she'll be going to a school that is K-12 instead of one that starts in fifth grade. There will be no tuition payments anymore, which is a break. I wouldn't have had a problem with her still going to St. Tim's, but it was starting to get a little expensive. I think that was the determining factor with Kayla's mom, as the whole MaST thing was kind of sprung on me out of nowhere.

Ultimately what matters most is how Kayla feels about the whole thing. She is excited to go to MaST, but understandably a bit apprehensive. I told her it was difficult for me when I started at Masterman because I didn't know anyone, but I eventually got settled in. I think after the first report card came out was when I really started feeling comfortable there, but there were some rough days before that point. Not rough safety-wise (this is Masterman we're talking about), but it was tough on an emotional level. I was making new friends, many of whom were going through the same thing I was, but I guess it took some time to build up enough trust to open up to any of them with that sort of thing. I don't think my parents quite grasped how difficult the transition was for me, so it kind of left me without any outlet. The result was multiple occasions when I would get home and suddenly burst into tears. Ugh, just terrible feelings of loneliness. Looking back, of course it wasn't really so bad, but try telling that to someone who is 10 years old. So I've told Kayla if she ever goes through anything remotely like that, she has someone who can relate.

Had a couple jury duty excursions over the past month or so. The first one was in federal court the last week in March. This was the third straight year I received a federal summons, but the first in which I actually had to show up. Not only did I show up, but I was selected to serve on a jury for the first time. I had a feeling that was going to happen when they brought the prospective jurors in, as most of them were older guys.

It was a police misconduct case that had been thrown out in criminal court, but the plaintiff was still seeking damages. It was pretty clear early on he didn't have much of a case. The guy mouthed off to police after getting a parking ticket and eventually mooned them (yes, you read that correctly). The cops told him to go in his house, which he did, but later he saw them on the street and made a scene which eventually led to him being arrested for disorderly conduct. At that point, he accused the one cop of throwing him up against a brick wall, punching him, and kicking him in the chest. Despite supposedly being brutally beaten, the plaintiff did not seek medical attention until two days later and attended a barbecue the same day. He did have his friend come over and take pictures, which showed only a minor scratch on his face. He had no pictures taken of his chest. Then he went to some quack doctor who determined the incident left him with a back injury (despite the plaintiff supposedly having no medical records to speak of and working for several years in a furniture moving service), leading to a $7000 physical therapy bill. The two witnesses who testified on the plaintiff's behalf offered nothing, either. Although I do believe there was a little more that went on than what the cops led us to believe, it was nowhere near to the extent in which the plaintiff was accusing. I think it took us roughly ten minutes to deliberate on this one, obviously siding with the defendants on all counts. They pay you 40 dollars a day for service plus 51 cents per mile on your commute. I got 96 bucks and a free lunch the second day out of it, which was nice. It was a somewhat rewarding experience, though I'm not sure I'd want to be a juror on a trial that goes on for weeks or months at a time.

Last week, I had city jury duty, which is always adventuresome. This was the fourth time I've been summoned to 13th and Filbert, and the third time I had to report (previously went in November of 2001 and November of 2005, was summoned in December of 2009 but did not have to report). As has been the case each time I've reported there, I was not selected as a juror. Having served on a jury just a month earlier, I went in pretty confident I was going to be excused pretty early in the process. I really didn't mind serving on the federal jury, but really wasn't interested in serving this time around. Turns out, I caught a break as I knew who one of the defendants was, albeit not on a personal level. It was Raheem Brock, the NFL player, who was being taken to court for supposedly skipping out on a $23 bar tab. I'm not sure how such a thing makes it that far, you don't even go to Judge Judy over that small of an amount. Anyway, knowing who Raheem Brock is and having a sports-related job didn't make me a suitable juror in counsel's eyes. I would've been impartial had I been selected, but I can certainly understand why I wasn't wanted. No skin off my hide. Brock, by the way, was acquitted.

In other dramatic news, remember that girl from a couple years ago that I spent about a month and a half going batshit crazy over? Yeah, I heard from a mutual friend that she's pregnant and engaged to some dude she's only known for like six months. Well, good luck with alllll THAT...

Current mood: content

Sunday, November 6, 2011

9:48PM - Hard to Swallow

Back for another LJ cameo. Doing this one from work, which I haven't done in quite some time. Interesting, because for the longest time there weren't too many that I didn't do from work. Guess that sort of thing goes in cycles. Anyway, no particular rhyme or reason to this entry. Just felt like it is all.

The Phillies season ended with a loss against the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. Very disappointing, but life goes on. Next year's team figures to look a little different, but should be among baseball's best. The Eagles have won two straight after a 1-4 start. They've shown some flashes of the team they were expected to be in those two victories, but still have lots of work to do without much of a margin for error. The Flyers have been a bit of a mixed bag, but their 8-4-2 record indicates they've been good more than they've been bad. The NBA is locked out for who knows how long, so nothing to report on the Sixers for now. And that's your obligatory local pro sports recap.

Kayla is doing well in school, though she hasn't been enjoying fourth grade as much as she enjoyed third. It was the opposite with me, as I liked fourth grade a lot more than I liked third. Different strokes for different folks. Her hockey season finished with a tough 4-3 loss in the semifinals, a game in which the deciding goal was scored with 59 seconds left. So a second straight championship was not meant to be for Kayla, but you can't win 'em all. Guess you don't want her to get too spoiled, anyway. Kayla will be 10 next month, which is just amazing to think about. It's been a whirlwind decade to say the least, and I can't imagine where I would've been without her during that time.

Had a little health scare a couple weeks ago, though thankfully it turned out to be very minor. It started one night at dinner when I had some difficulty swallowing my food. This was not the first time it had happened, but in previous situations I would drink a glass of water and the food would go down without further incident. No such luck this time. Not only would the food not go down, but I couldn't keep the water down either. After trying pretty much every remedy possible for about two hours, I decided there was no choice but to head over to the ER at Jeanes Hospital. They gave me a couple doses of medicine and muscle relaxers to see if the food (I had eaten pork chops, corn, and mashed potatoes for dinner that night) would move on its own. If that didn't work, then the next step would be to call a gastrointestinal doctor in to perform an endoscopy in an effort to remove the obsrtuction. If that didn't work, then I would have to have the obstruction surgically removed.

I was given some good news and bad news when they ran me through the process. The bad news was that the medicine usually doesn't solve the issue. The good news was that surgery is rarely necessary. Predictably, the medication didn't work, so the GI team came in to stick the tube down my throat. Fortunately, that did work, though the obstruction actually turned out to be much larger than they'd anticipated. The procedure normally takes about a half hour, but it took them close to an hour and a half to get everything cleared out. They also took a biopsy during the procedure. The diagnosis ended up being eosinophilic esophagitis or EE, which is an allergy that causes the esophagus to swell. It can be caused by asthma or general allergies, which of course I have and generally have trouble with during the early spring and fall seasons. Judging by the size of the blockage, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. I was very sore for a couple days after the endoscopy (which was performed entirely in the ER), but haven't had any issues since going on three weeks later. I have to be a little more conscious of what I eat at all times, but especially when my asthma and/or allergies are bothering me. I was also officially diagnosed with sleep apnea, which was something I was always pretty sure I had. It was recommended I go in for a sleep study, which I'll have to get around to eventually.

Aside from that, nothing else really exciting going on at work or home. My laptop blew out another battery, which sucks. My internet access when I'm not at home basically comes via my phone for the time being. Of course, I can use my parents' computer, which has seen better days but at least works. I'm debating between buying another battery or just buying another laptop. I don't need anything with a lot of bells and whistles, really just something that will turn on when I turn it on. If I buy a new one, it'll probably have to wait until after the holidays but I think I can hold out. If I can't, then a new battery it is.

There are a couple interesting scheduling dilemmas at work that I'll have to figure out when the time comes. Those dilemmas would be Christmas and the Super Bowl. Usually Z would go away for Thanksgiving and in turn volunteer his services for Christmas, so we never had to worry about that. And he'd generally get the late shift on Super Bowl Sunday. It remains to be seen if there will be NBA games, so the sticking point we have for Christmas right now is the fact that it falls on a Sunday this year and there is one NFL game at 8:00 that night. But I'm sure we'll work something out in both cases. I'll just try not to bite off more than I can chew.

Current mood: working

Sunday, September 25, 2011

10:51PM - Things are OK with me these days

Yes, the obligatory LJ cameo. This one's a little different, as I really do mean when I say I've been trying to get on and post some but never quite got around to it. I do have some time to myself for the moment, so what better time than now?

Hmmm, so where to begin...I'll hold off on the obvious until the end. Been doing OK, despite a nasty head cold that had taken a lot out of me the previous day or two. Yesterday was the worst of it, but I managed to get my ass to bed by 11:00 to wake up for an early shift today. Actually, I realized that coming in at 8:00 wasn't going to happen, so I decided to come in at 9 and just work an hour later one day next week. Hey man, whatever works.

Fourth grade has started for Kayla, and judging from her first three tests, it's going quite well. Those three tests produced two 100s (both in spelling) and a 93 in math. This past Friday, she had tests in religion and social studies, which she said were easy. So that's good. Also underway is her hockey season, which started a month earlier this year. The length of the season is the same as last year, but I think they wanted to start earlier so they would be playing in warmer weather. It wasn't an issue last year (they finished during the second week of November), but whatever floats their boat. They don't keep the teams intact from year to year, so Kayla's championship squad of last year is no longer together. In fact, she does not have any of her former teammates on her current team. Their season opener was this past Thursday, an 8-6 loss. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but eventually fell in a 7-3 hole before a late rally came up just a little short. Kayla's defensive play impressed her coaches, so she's got that going for her. She's really taken to playing hockey and may soon take ice skating lessons to see if her skills can transfer over. My ice skating is, how you say, inelegant, so I couldn't be of great help in that department. But it would be pretty cool if it's something she decides she wants to give a whirl eventually.

The Phillies wrapped up their fifth straight National League East title last weekend, and for the fourth time in those five seasons, I was in attendance on the night they clinched. The last two times have been ticket plan games, so that's pretty good luck there. Unfortunately, the Phils lost eight straight games immediately after clinching before breaking that streak today. Of course, that's to be taken with a little grain of salt considering they were playing with about half of their regular lineup or less for the majority of those games, but the fact was they weren't playing sound baseball and you never like to see that no matter what kind of a year they're having. The real downer about the losing streak was that it could end up costing the Phillies a chance to set a new franchise record for regular season wins. The existing record is 101, set in 1976 and 1977. Right now, the Phils would have to sweep their final series in Atlanta to surpass that record. It would be nice to do that, but the ultimate goal is obviously winning the World Series. If that ends up being what this team ends up doing, I don't think you'll hear too many people complain about a bunch of losses in meaningless games near the end of the regular season denying them the franchise record. No matter how far the Phillies go or don't go in the postseason, I don't believe it will have anything to do with that losing streak. But time will tell.

The Eagles...ugh. They're 1-2. Solid win over the Rams in the season opener, followed by two pretty disturbing losses, both of which followed the same basic pattern. Poor first quarter, dominant second and third quarters, collapse in the fourth with Michael Vick having to leave with an injury. A concussion last week, broken non-throwing hand this week. And so it goes.

But the big story on J-Red's Ramblings actually something that happened a couple weeks ago, but had been brewing for a little while. First off, we were kicked upstairs from our old room, which has nothing to do with where this is headed, but I don't believe I'd mentioned that before and felt it deserved to be noted. Maybe I did mention it before. Anyway, they combined us with the odds department in one room (though we are still both separate departments and run our own schedules as before) while using the room we were in for extra scoreboard personnel. We weren't too crazy about that at first, but it's working out OK so far, I guess. I say I guess because they moved really slowly as far as getting equipment up there, so we were kind of roving. But a spot did open up for me to settle in after a huge move was made and another "new era" began.

The "new era" I speak of is the firing of Z. It was something that I don't think our boss really wanted to do, but was ultimately left with no choice. It had gotten to the point where Z was no longer reliable with being able to make it in to work due to a myriad of ongoing problems with health, car, and "freelance" jobs. Z had our inhouse work system loaded on to his home computer at some point and would occasionally work from home, but our boss had repeatedly said that was only to be used as a last resort and didn't work all that well to begin with. But it also turned out Z wasn't always doing the work from home even when he said he was going to. Our boss was becoming increasingly frustrated with this, as well as the health problems. It wasn't so much the health problems themselves that were frustrating, but the constant lack of a diagnosis or anything conclusive. While I was in Denver last month, Z supposedly checked in to the Mayo Clinic and left without doctors knowing what the problem was. I don't want to say he was faking it or anything like that, but he's been having issues of this nature for about as long as I've known him and it was getting to the point where you would just roll your eyes whenever they came up again.

The final straw came on a Thursday a little over two weeks ago, which also happened to be the first night of the new NFL season. Sometime around 4:00, I get a call from our boss (I was the only one from our department in at the time) saying that Z wouldn't be coming in that night or the rest of the week. Evidently, he was doing some part-time work at a golf course and had a bad reaction to some bug bites. At the end of that call, our boss told me that if I knew anyone looking for work to give them a heads-up because he couldn't do this anymore. So I get off the phone, and then realize our boss didn't say for sure if he was firing Z on the spot. I went down to talk to him and he said he'd wait until we hired someone else to make the move, so as to not leave us shorthanded. I recommended this guy Josh, who happened to be the guy we thought was getting the job back in January until Z was ultimately hired back. By the end of the weekend, Josh was hired and Z was let go. It seems like it's going to work out just fine. Still, we weren't rejoicing over Z losing his job and hope he finds some kind of peace with himself eventually. There were some good moments with Z, though they'd become increasingly rare over the last couple years we worked together.

Now, one thing that I found very peculiar was that when our boss was notifying Z of his termination, Z took it upon himself to complain about having to always work nights, which I suppose was among other things. Our boss quickly replied that he worked nights because he requested to do so and that I would've been more than happy to schedule him for day shifts during the week. I actually considered calling him to ask what that was all about, but I decided it was best to just let it be and move forward. The vibe is much more positive, as you can imagine, though the key now will be avoiding complacency. I think we'll be cool there. Savor it.

Current mood: hopeful

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

11:52PM - I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky

Back for a rare LJ appearance. I know, I'd like to post here more often. Blah, blah, blah. We know it probably ain't gonna happen. Anyhoo, a lot of things are the same and some things are different since the last time I was here. That depression stuff came and went. It's funny, I kinda started to feel better about things after I made that last post. Really

Been a good summer so far, an improvement on last year. Not that last summer was bad, but I just wasn't able to enjoy it quite as much as I would've liked. As I mentioned, some of it was my own doing, some of it wasn't. One of the reasons this summer has been better is because I've seen quite a bit more of Kayla. She comes over the same days (Tuesday-Friday) as last summer, but for the most part she's been staying longer. Last summer, she generally went home earlier in the afternoon, whereas this summer she stays for dinner at least twice a week. I usually know in advance which nights she's staying, so I'm able to plan accordingly. I'll always want to see Kayla more, but at least it seems as though I'll feel like we made the most of this summer when all is said and done

Did the annual Phillies road trip last week. This year's destination was Denver. We'd wanted to go there the last few years, but the Phils had been there real early in the season and we weren't able to plan a vacation around it. Like last year, Kayla made the trip. We had an absolute blast in Denver, and the fact that the Phillies swept the three-game series only helped things. We also checked out the Downtown Denver Aquarium, Zoo, and Elitch Gardens amusement park. Great stuff. We frequented Sam's No. 3, which is a great diner. Their breakfast quesadilla is one of the greatest things I've ever eaten. Coors Field has some quality ballpark food as well, notably the Todd Helton Burger

Although we've been back from Denver since early Saturday, this is the last day of my vacation. Well, technically it's just a regular day off, as I used five vacation days, a comp day, and had six regular days off. That's right, I've been off for the last 12 days. I've been continuously employed in some fashion since July of 1998, and that's the most I've ever been off in a row. Not sure if you're ever really ready to go back to work, but I think I've gotten as much out of my time off as possible. Guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow

Birthday coming up in 13 days. Will be 31. Giddyup

Current mood: calm

Saturday, June 4, 2011

1:39AM - Ain't Life Grand?

Yes, back after another extended LJ absence. I'd been holding off on posting again, as I knew after my last one I was stuck on 999 entries and kind of wanted to do something special for number 1000. But then I couldn't think of anything special to do, so I figured the hell with it

When I left off before, Z had been rehired to work at The Sports Network not even a month after quitting. It was a decision that didn't sit well with the rest of the department and one that I didn't think was going to be made based on a conversation I had with our boss the night before it happened. I really beat myself up over that for a while because I felt I could've been more adamant about Z not being brought back, but the more I thought about it I came to the conclusion that he probably would've been rehired regardless

It was a bit of a surprise when Z came back at first, because for the about the first month he was downright chipper and even showed up reasonably close to his scheduled times. The rest of us in the department were still a little skeptical though, knowing the other shoe was going to drop at any moment. And it did, when Z and Luke had a little dustup over a misspelling a little over a month into his current tenure. A couple weeks after that, Z informed me that he'd taken a part-time job and would only be able to arrive at 6:00 for the night shift. As I mentioned before, in that scenario we rarely see him but it makes writing the schedule a real pain in the ass. In roughly two months since going to that schedule format, I think I've seen Z maybe three times. The last couple times I've worked with him, there's been no conversation with him other than the usual hello and goodbye. It's basically been like that for Jay and Luke, too. It's amazing how much tension builds up when he's there. Dunno, nearly five years working with the guy and even though I'm one of the few people he's never had any kind of blowup with, we just have nothing to say to each other. Hey man, that's the way it goes sometimes

Well, enough of that. School is almost out for the kids. Kayla is wrapping up third grade and had her best year yet, making honors for the first time after just missing a bunch of times in first and second grade. She and Thomas still come over in the morning Tuesday thru Friday, though basically it's just Kayla coming over after school on days I'm off. If she continues to come over in the summer, it'll be good seeing her each day. Even on days when I'm working, I'll still get to see her for at least a little while. Which is good, because once again I'm kinda going through it, which may be why I'm writing on here in the first place. Seems like I find some kind of comfort on here whenever I'm a little down about things. Hell, I started this account shortly after Dawn and I split up. It's always been a good place to vent, especially in those times when it seems there no one I can really turn to. Not that I don't have anyone to turn to, I just suck at actually putting forth the effort in turning to someone

Dammit, I don't know what it is. I mean, I always feel a little less complete when Kayla isn't around, which I think is perfectly understandable and something I'm sure every divorced parent goes through. Over the years, some times have been more difficult than others for a variety of reasons. To be honest, I'm not really sure how long I've been going through this particular spell, but it seems to have really hit me the past week or two. I'm perfectly fine when Kayla's around, but the second she goes home (not so much when she goes to school because I know I'll either be seeing her again that day or I'll have work to keep me occupied for a while) the mood changes. Lately, I've been downright mopey. If I'm eating dinner at home, I barely say a word. I have trouble focusing and seem to procrastinate with everything. I don't know if subconsciously I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job as a parent and am thus punishing myself in some way. I guess maybe there's a part of me that is afraid she'll start drifting away from me as she starts getting older (she'll be 10 in six months if you can believe that), even tough there's been absolutely nothing that should lead me to believe there's the slightest chance of that happening anytime soon. Just gotta take it one day at a time, I guess

It's weird, even though I've been through my share of stuff like this, I never really felt empty before now. I hate that feeling. Like, I don't feel as though things are out of control and I can no longer go on, but aside from Kayla I keep getting that feeling there's nothing else to look forward to. Ah, whatever. Maybe I should see a shrink or something. Or maybe not, since I can probably analyze myself and come to the same conclusions. That's not a slight to anyone who works in that field, by the way. Just saying I don't think my problems are as complex as those of other people. Maybe I need a girlfriend. Or maybe not, since that might only make things worse. There is this one girl at the moment who isn't making much of a secret of the fact she likes me and I'd be lying if I said I haven't been strongly considering it, but I'm just not sure if it would be a wise decision to move forward at this time. We'll see. For now, I'll try to keep the lines of communication open without leading her on

Well, this was kind of weird for a 1000th entry. But it's always good to be back on, maybe I'll do it again sometime soon

Current mood: weird

Sunday, January 30, 2011

5:27PM - So Much For That

The "New Era" at work didn't last long. Just over a month, actually. The "New Era" I speak of was of course the post-Z era. For a while it looked as though we were moving along fine and were set to have a replacement in the near future. But then, there was a sudden change

It all started this past Thursday night. I came in at 6 pm for a closing shift, the late start time due to my working a double today. Not too long after I got in, our boss came in to tell me that Z called asking for his job back. What had apparently happened was Z's brother got transferred to Michigan or something of that nature. Z had been planning on moving in with him in North Carolina, but wasn't interested in moving to Michigan. Our boss really didn't seem too enthused at the thought of bringing Z back. I suppose he'd just gotten too unreliable by the end. Anyway, we both agreed that it would be better to hire someone who was reliable and who you knew was going to commit to being here. The thinking was that Z was only doing this as a last resort. That same night, the other guy who was interested in the job came in doing scoreboard work. I told him to request a meeting with our boss to discuss coming over to the injuries department. I thought that would put an end to any Z return, because it really did feel as though we were all ready to move on from him. Our boss told me Z was going to call again Friday, which was when a decision was made

I was off on Friday, so I wasn't around to hear the news in person. But early in the afternoon, I got a text from Luke, who was working the early shift. I deleted the text, but I believe the exact wording was, "this joker gave him his gig" I believe my initial reaction was to sit and stare at my phone for a couple minutes, during which I also got a text from Jay saying "Well that sucks." I replied wondering what Z said during that phone call, because based on my conversation with our boss on Thursday, I didn't really think he would hire Z back. Maybe I was being naive or it was just wishful thinking on my part. After I got those messages, I noticed my blood pressure shot up. I didn't say anything out loud, because Kayla was with me at the time, but it was just incredibly disappointing

When I got to work yesterday, I made some new schedules with Z's name on them. He apparently starts again next Monday, February 7. The schedule was posted through the week ending February 13, with the February 14-20 schedule finished but not yet posted. I had to make two versions of the new schedule for those weeks, since I am still not sure if he is going to want to work five 8-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts. We could hope that he'd be a team player this time around, but that doesn't seem like a realistic thing to hope for at this point. I'm kind of torn on what schedule I'd prefer him to work. On one hand, if he goes with four shifts, it will be very easy making the schedule. On the other hand, if he goes with five, it'll be tougher making the schedule but we'll hardly see him. None of us are really in the mood to see a whole lot of him at the moment

It should go without saying that Z's return has other implications. Mainly, there's the feeling that Jay, Luke, and I will revert to being the "silent majority" while Z gets his way at all times. Jay pointed out that Shawn had asked about possibly getting his job back last year and was denied, mainly due to the fact Z had lobbied for a three-man department. If I had any idea this would've been the end result, perhaps I should've done the same. Selfishly, I kind of enjoyed being the "elder statesman" of the department so to speak. You know, having personnel matters discussed with me and seemingly having my opinion valued

So the "New Era" comes to a premature end. I savored it while it lasted. Another new, probably weird one will be starting. Hey man

Current mood: frustrated

Thursday, January 20, 2011

6:10PM - Thursday night your stockings needed mending

Ah, Thursday night at The Sports Network. Still a three-man department for the time being, though that may not be the case much longer. Our boss might be sending one of the scoreboard guys our way. He'd originally targeted the end of this month for that to take place, although there is one little complication. The potential hire in question has an expecting wife, who is due to give birth sometime in early/mid February. While I'd prefer to have someone in sooner than later, I can understand waiting until after that's over to make the move

Needless to say, we're still in the process of adjusting here. With Z, you already had the majority of the week's night shifts already penciled in. With three of us, I'm trying to evenly distribute the night shifts as much as possible. That could get a little tricky with four. Maybe whoever the new person is will prefer to work night shifts. As for me, I try to work my schedule around seeing Kayla

Speaking of Kayla, some interesting developments seem to be taking place. Still taking her and Thomas to school in the morning Tuesday-Friday, but lately it seems as though Dawn has been able to pick them up after school, then dropping Kayla off on days I'm off. The only problem with this is that she usually doesn't let me know until around noon, so I'm kind of left hanging sometimes. Prior to that, she'd been able to pick the kids up from school a couple times a week, with them coming over on the other days. Whenever I notice patterns developing, I try to tweak the work schedule accordingly. Seems to always be a work in progress. Last week, the kids didn't come over after school except for a couple days when Kayla got dropped off. She was dropped off again yesterday, and when I was looking over her homework I noticed her assignment book hadn't been signed on any of the days she wasn't over. I was a little annoyed, but not with Kayla as you can imagine. And Thomas, well, let's just say his best schoolwork is done when he's coming over on a consistent basis. If that stops, I just hope he can survive the rest of the year

Coming up on my 1000th post on here. This is number 998. I will have to get a "Best of Z" post done soon and maybe number 1000 can be an overall "Best Of" compilation. Hey man, it's a milestone. Savor it

Current mood: working

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

3:56PM - I don't know why you say goodbye...

...I say hello? Anyway, here's the "Z Chart" for lack of a better term. I'll list each day, what time I was due in or left, what time Z was due in or left, and the actual amount of time we saw each other. Here it is. Savor it

Monday, January 4
Me: Scheduled until 6:00
Z: Due in at 6:00
Z's approximate arrival: 5:55
My approximate departure: 6:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 5 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 5 minutes

Sunday, January 24
Me: Scheduled until 6:00
Z: Due in at 4:00
Z's approximate arrival: 5:00
My approximate departure: 6:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 1 hour
Approximate yearly amount of time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Thursday, February 11
Me: Volunteer shift until 4:00, arrived approx 1:00
Z: Voluntarily arrived at 3:00, originally scheduled for 6:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 1 hour
Approximate yearly amount of time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Note: Due to heavy snow, nobody from our department had been able to make it in the previous two days. I was not scheduled to work on this day, but voluntarily came in to help clean up. Z was due in at 6, but came in early to assist in some cleanup

Saturday, February 27
Me: Due in at 5:00
Z: Scheduled until 6:00
My approximate arrival: 4:55
Z's approximate departure: 5:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 5 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Sunday, March 28
Me: Due in at 5:00
Z: Scheduled until 5:00
My approximate arrival: 4:50
Z's approximate departure: 5:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 10 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Note: I entered this shift expecting some kind of blowup between Z and myself. A few weeks earlier, he'd left me a very condescending voicemail over what turned out to be a minor issue. A few days before this shift, he'd left one of his infamous "notes" after spotting a mistake on the site. However, when I got in, Z was in a good mood and none of the previous issues ever came up again. I believe I also mentioned there was usually quite a difference between "Day Shift Z" and "Night Shift Z"

Sunday, April 11
Me: Due in at 5:00
Z: Scheduled until 5:00
My approximate arrival: 4:45
Z's approximate departure: 6:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 3 hours, 35 minutes
Note: Z left late to watch the conclusion of the Flyers-Rangers regular season finale, which the Flyers won in a shootout to advance to the playoffs

Saturday, April 17
Me: Due in at 2:00
Z: Scheduled until 3:00
My approximate arrival: 1:30
Z's approximate departure: 1:45
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 15 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 3 hours, 50 minutes

Saturday, May 8
Me: Due in at 2:00
Z: Scheduled until 4:00
My approximate arrival: 1:45
Z's approximate departure: 2:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 15 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 4 hours, 5 minutes

Saturday, May 29
Me: Due in at 4:00
Z: Scheduled until 4:00
My approximate arrival: 3:45
Z's approximate departure: 4:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 15 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Saturday, June 19
Me: Due in at 4:00
Z: Scheduled until 4:00
My approximate arrival: 3:55
Z's approximate departure: 4:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 5 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 4 hours, 25 minutes

Saturday, September 4
Me: Due in at 6:00
Z: Scheduled until 6:00
My approximate arrival: 5:45
Z's approximate departure: 6:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 15 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 4 hours, 40 minutes

Monday, September 27
Me: Scheduled until 6:00
Z: Due in at 6:00
Z's approximate arrival: 5:55
My approximate departure: 6:15
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 20 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 5 hours
Note: Our department had a meeting with our boss at 6:00 on this night to discuss some scheduling issues and an incident that had occurred between Jay and Z over the previous weekend

Saturday, November 6
Me: Due in at 12:00
Z: Scheduled until 4:00
My approximate arrival: 11:45
Z's approximate departure: 2:45
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 3 hours
Approximate yearly amount of time: 8 hours

Monday, November 8
Me: Scheduled until 8:00
Z: Due in at 6:00
Z's approximate arrival: 6:15
My approximate departure: 7:00
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 45 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 8 hours, 45 minutes

Saturday, November 20
Me: Due in at 12:00
Z: Scheduled until 4:00
My approximate arrival: 11:30
Z's approximate departure: 4:00 (also took one-hour lunch break at 2:00)
Approximate amount of time seeing each other: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Approximate yearly amount of time: 12 hours, 15 minutes

Total number of shifts worked together: 15
Approximate total time worked together: 12 hours, 15 minutes
Approximate average time seeing each other per shift: 49 minutes
Longest shift worked together: Saturday, November 20 (3 hours, 30 minutes)

Kind of interesting that more than one-quarter of the total time I saw Z over his final year here was during the last shift we worked together. I'd probably have to say the 3 hours and 30 minutes would actually probably be one of the longer shifts I worked with him period. I didn't keep track of the amount of time I worked with Jay while there were just three of us, but it probably wasn't a ton more than what I worked with Z. In fact, before that September 4 shift, I think I'd worked exclusively alone for about the previous six weeks. I'd rather it not get to that point again this time around. Right now, I'd say it won't. One can only hope, anyway

Current mood: amused

3:05PM - And a New One Just Begun

Yes, my first post of 2011, five days into the year. I didn't make my first post of 2010 until the end of February, so I've got that beat. Can't really say how much more often I'll post, though there will be considerably more solo shifts in the immediate future, but more on that later

So 2010 is in the books. Kind of an odd year for myself on a personal level. Wouldn't classify it as a bad year at all, nor would I say it was a particularly good year. It just was what it was. Seemed like I had a lot going on early, but then things sort of tapered off in the middle/later part of the year. Some of it was my own doing, some of it wasn't. It was what it was. I turned 30, which was interesting. I don't feel any different at 30 than I did at 29, 28, etc. I will admit it still does feel a little strange when I say I'm 30, however

A big story at work occurred just this past week. Z quit. The past few weeks, I had a feeling things were headed down that path, but I was not expecting it to happen so soon. His car had died on him around Thanksgiving and it had become a major hassle for him to get in. He evidently got our system at work loaded on his computer at home and was able to work from home whenever he couldn't make it in. That worked out OK for a while. We actually thought it was better for Z, since it's clear he prefers his own company. However, a week or two before Christmas, the rest of us (Jay, Luke, and myself) would often arrive in the morning to find the work from the previous night hadn't been done. None of us were able to get in contact with Z, and we became concerned, since we all know he's had his share of health issues. Apparently, our boss was finally able to get to him. Last week, he finally came back in, but when I arrived at work last Wednesday morning, I found his shifts for this week and next (as far out as the schedule had been written) were crossed off with vacation time put in for this week's shifts. I kind of put two and two together that Z was quitting and our boss confirmed it to me that morning. Z's last day was this past Sunday, though I didn't see him at all the last six weeks he worked here

So we're a three-man Injuries Department once again. The interesting thing is it occurs at the exact same time we became a three-man department last year. That means some scheduling headaches, no flexibility, and double shifts for a while. The good thing, though, is that it in all likelihood won't take until September to find a fourth person. When informing me of Z's departure, the boss asked what direction I felt we should go in. I told him we can survive temporarily with three, but we function much better with four. He said there was a guy he had in mind for the opening, but wasn't sure if he could work nights. That's going to be the major change in making the schedule, regardless of how many people we have. Z worked mostly all nights, so the rest of us have to fill in the blanks there. We obviously had our ups and downs with Z, and even though we didn't see a whole lot of him, it'll still be a little weird not having him around, not writing his name on the schedule. I suppose the atmosphere will be a little more positive, though he could be very entertaining with his quirks and quips. As for Z's immediate future, he's likely to move in with his brother in North Carolina, which is actually something he'd been considering for quite a while

As I've mentioned before, I had a running tab of the amount of time I actually saw Z for what turned out to be the final year he and I worked together. I guess there's no better time than now to finally share it, which I will do immediately in another post. So be right back soon

Current mood: contemplative

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12:00PM - When there are few words I can choose

Yes, making another LJ cameo appearance. I would like to do it more often, but you know how that goes. Looking at my stats, this is my 995th entry since I started my account nearly seven years ago. Maybe I'll get up to 1000 by the end of the year

I'll start off on a rather sad note. My grandmom (dad's mom) passed away on November 23 after a seven-year battle with dementia and Alzheimer's. She was 83 and was also my last surviving grandparent. Though there's the obvious sadness, there's also solace to be taken in the fact she is now in a better place. It was hard, as the disease got progressively worse. Only my dad and aunt Terry could really go see her the last few years, as she would get overwhelmed if there were more than a couple people in a room with her. By the end, she couldn't remember who my dad and aunt Terry were. It was so painful and heartbreaking to go through, at least we know she is OK now

My grandmom wouldn't have stood for any kind of lingering sadness over her, so on to more happier things. Kayla will turn nine on Saturday. I can hardly believe that myself. She told me she didn't really want anything for her birthday or Christmas, but of course I didn't comply with that. She completed her first season of foot hockey at the Lower Mayfair Rec Center last month, resulting in a championship for her team. Very exciting to experience it from a parental perspective. I made sure she enjoyed it as much as possible because it's not something that happens every day. It got me thinking about how long it took me to win a championship in the sports I played. In baseball, it took me seven years to get to the championship round and eight years to win it. I was on the losing side of a basketball championship the first year I played, though I was on the winning end two years later. My one and only year in organized roller hockey resulted in a championship game loss. My fourth year of league bowling resulted in both first and second half championships. The winners of each half would play for the league championship, but since we won both halves, it was obviously not necessary. Ah, what a team that was. Three of the top four individual averages in the league and overall record of 90-30, including a 27-game winning streak at one point. Arguably the most dominant team I played on in any sport, which sounds like a list I can make in the future

At work right now, as I usually am when I write on here. Kind of a strange day for a couple reasons. I'm here on a Tuesday, which is strange because looking back at the schedule, I have not worked on a Tuesday in exactly three months. There were a couple factors that went into that. The one guy Jay has a class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that has made him unavailable for the morning shift on those days the last three months. Also, I'm still taking Kayla to school Tuesday-Friday but not Monday and I try to schedule myself off as little as possible on days I am unlikely to see her

Another reason why today is strange is because I'm by myself. Now if you read my entries from earlier this year, you'll know it was very rare that I WASN'T working alone, which in turn got me to writing a bit more on here. Or at least until I got used to it and was no longer finding a bunch of stuff to write about. So to recap in case you missed my entries from earlier in the year, from January until the middle of September, there were only three of us working here. Shift overlaps were rare to the point where we were pretty much by ourselves the entire week. Then we belatedly added a fourth person and it's close to how it was before, meaning we'll usually have at least one overlapping shift most days. Unless of course Z is the late shift and there's no mid, as is the case today. I'm out at 6, he's in at 6. Yeah, I ain't seeing him. That'll also be the case on Friday. I'm off tomorrow and Thursday, so it turns out I'll be solo for my next two shifts. After that, all my shifts at least through December 26 have an overlap. So maybe I'll be back on Friday. I still have that chart I mentioned before marking down when I've actually seen Z this calendar year and for how long. Perhaps I'll share that next time. As it currently stands, I haven't seen him since November 20. Next time I see him should be next Wednesday, December 15 as I have the mid shift. Two of the last three overlaps I've had with Z have been the longest of this year, which is a product of having four people in the department again. Saw him for three hours on November 6, as Z was 8-4 and I was 12-10, he left around 3 that day. Then on November 20, it was the same schedule, only I got in at 11:30 and Z stayed the duration. Prior to that, I hadn't seen him for more than an hour during any shift in 2010. Looking at the schedule for the remainder of this year, in addition to next Wednesday it looks as though I'll see Z one other time. That'll be Monday, December 20, when I work the mid and he has the late shift. We're also both tentatively scheduled to work on Sunday, January 2, but we'll have to see how that goes

That'll do it for now. Good to be back on. Hope I'm here again soon

Current mood: chipper

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

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