Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'm taking my toys and going home....

I'm moving this blog to Wordpress.

My new address is

See you there!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I don't like saying goodbye...

There comes a time in everyone's life when we must say goodbye to someone we love.

Today, my Grandfather Paul passed away at the age of 88. I know that Grandpa had some health struggles the last couple of years and I'm relieved that he is no longer suffering.

This is what I love the most about Grandpa....he loved to laugh. I think he told the corny jokes all the time just so he could laugh with someone. He was always in the company of friends, whether they were lifelong or newly made.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Operation No Pop

It's 1am, and I'm sitting on my patio enjoying a beer after a night at work.

I've decided that I need to cut back on my soda intake. I drank five, yes 5, sodas at work tonight and it caused my alleged ADD to go berserk. Around 9:30, I couldn't focus on the two machines I was running, so I only really focused on the machine with the longer runtime, and ran the other machine when I was done deburring the parts from the first machine.

I'm going to take the next seven days and not drink any soda. Only water and milk. And beer, since beer is also natural. Hopefully, once the headaches are gone, I'll be more even keel throughout the day in terms of how I feel and energy level. Yes, I'm also giving up energy drinks.

I can tell I'm getting into a groove at work because my fingerprints are almost gone, my hands are calloused and I've got several small cuts on them from handling and deburring parts. I actually don't mind it; between the hardened hands and the sore back, I'm glad to be back working. Holly and I made progress on some debt we had acquired the least two years while I was under employed and it feels great to be making some headway.

Friday, February 3, 2012


What you see on the left in the picture below is what happens when you do not properly clamp a casting into the fixture prior to machining.

I woke up crabby on Thursday. No real good reason, other than the 10 hours shifts we'd been pulling at work. I managed to shake some of the crabbiness off when I punched in at 3, but still felt "meh". I had emailed Holly before work about my day, and she emailed back saying that she appreciated how hard I was working.

When I punch it at work I look for one of two people who can tell me what I'm starting the night on: my supervisor Joe or Bill, the 1st shift mill setup man.

Bill had me running one of our newer mills, running the job you see above. In this operation, we mill the flat on the bottom and drill 4 holes. 

I was shown how to load the part and how to deburr it once it was done. About an hour or so in, I loaded a part wrong, just a bit angled and it took more metal off than it was supposed to. Scrap piece #1.

I mentally noted what I had done wrong, determined not to do it again. I *hate* making junk parts.

Another hour goes by, and after I hit the start button and turn to deburr a part, I hear the machine make a sound it shouldn't. I hit the stop button. Part of running a machine is listening to the sounds it makes, and the unholy sound of a part loaded wrong and a tool doing more than it's supposed to let the whole shop now something's wrong. I had loaded the part too high in the fixture, and the mill was trying to remove too much material. What you get is the part on the left in the picture above. Scrap piece #2.

Joe comes to check on me and the tool in the machine and deems all to be fine. He mentions that this happens and not to let it bother me, that it happens to everyone. I shake it and continue.

Another hour passes, and once again, the machine makes the unholy sound, and once again, I hit the stop button. I have now made Scrap piece #3. Now, my confidence in my ability to run this job is broken. It's simply a matter of making sure the part is properly loaded and I haven't been able to do that. Joe comes to check on me once again, and asks if I want to keep going and that if I scrap one more piece, he's going to have to put my on another job. I ask him if he wants to move me and he says it's up to me. I tell him that I want to finish the job. He nods and gently reminds me that I am out of screw ups on this job.

Now, I'm gun shy. I begin obsessing about clamping the part right, and watching the millhead make contact with the part before deburring the last part run. I run the rest of the order without issue, albeit very paranoid.

I head into the lunchroom to get a soda and grab one for Joe as well. I walked up to him to hand him the soda and thank him. He tells me that he can see that I take pride in my work, and that he knew I wanted to do the job well so he gave me the option of sticking with it or bailing out. Everyone has a shift like this, he says.

Both Holly and Joe were a boost to my confidence when I needed it and that made the difference in my night at work.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thinking things through

So often I want to write, and yet nothing comes out. Consider this post a drain cleaner of sorts, to get things moving.

I'm enjoying my job. Second shift makes things interesting schedule wise; actually, it fills up my calendar Monday through Friday. I've decided to not work Saturdays, unless we are crazy busy and need to get the work out. It was too much to work five nights a week, and then give up 5 hours during the middle of my Saturday as well. Financially, we'll be ok; I made sure to run the numbers several times before I committed to that decision.

I've been able to some people who's face I had been missing lately: my friend John and his wife Jen at dinner Saturday night; the guys in my Men's group at church that meets Saturday mornings; my wife.

I'm finding that I've been something of a nomad for many years. I don't feel particularly connected to almost anyone in my high school class since I moved into town my freshman year. I have a few people I still keep in touch with, but by in large, it's the people I went to grade school and junior high that I feel closer to, and even then, I don't feel terribly close to many of them.

I find it ironic that as much of a social person as I am, I'm horrible at keeping in touch with people I consider friends. It's not really that hard to shoot off a quick email, Facebook message, text, carrier pigeon....whatever. I just don't do it for some reason. I have people I hold dear to my heart and I haven't tried to contact them.

Family's different. I'm generally in touch with my parents and my sister. With my Mom and sister, it's generally text tag or phone calls after a text that says "you busy?" With Dad, it's usually a phone call or text saying "hey, we're staying at your house, ok?" with many hands of Shanghai Rummy played.

I have my Drinking Right friends, but even that was a monthly "hey, how's it going" for most of them.

Do I simply gloss over people and assume friendship, or do I isolate and insulate myself without really intending to?

There was a time in my life, about 10 years ago, when we had a group of young adults at church, in a group call The Gathering. I seem to recall about 20 of us that generally hung out together outside of our Tuesday night meeting. Catching movies, grabbing coffee....just hanging out. I miss that time so much at times it aches.

Monday, January 9, 2012

of Tebow

Had a chance to watch a good chunk of the AFC Wild Card game from Denver. I had a couple of thoughts cross my mind:

1. Tim Tebow is human. I don't think this necessarily a big revelation, but people have lost their minds this year regarding Tebow. To be honest, I find his story inspiring, but as a quarteback, he's been asked to resuscitate a weak Denver offense. Denver's coaches have played to Tebow's strengths and, teamed with a solid defense, Denver started to win games.

2. The National Media is making a big deal about Tim Tebow. It's not that Tebow is some extraordinary quarterback, it's his faith in Christ and how up front he is about it. I think that Tebow is a solid athlete, but at this point in his career, he's no Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. I do think Tebow can improve in his throwing; he had to throw to beat Pittsburgh and he did just that. The Steeler's were stacking the line, daring Tebow to throw, and throw he did. However, is this had been Kyle Orton, who lost he job and roster spot to Tebow, or some other middling quarterback, the hype simply would not have been there.

3. The Tim Tebow coverage is polarizing.  Tim Tebow, from all appearances, is a model citizen motivated by his faith in Christ. It's not that there aren't other Christians that have ever played football (Kurt Warner and Troy Polamalu come to mind), it's something about Tebow that makes people either love him or hate him. It's not any scathing comments or coarse opinions; it's he's outright vocal proclamation about his faith in Jesus Christ. People either love Tebow for it, or want him to shut up about it.

Lastly, I don't know how far the Broncos will go in the playoffs. Their next opponent is the New England Patriots, who are very rarely caught off guard by an opponent. I hope the Tebow's effort, win or lose, is a solid enough effort so that after the game, people can sit back, take a breath and applaud his effort, not criticize his faith.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Transition

My transition from unemployed to back to work hasn't been too bad. I think the harder transition has been working second shift.

The company I'm working for starts second shift at 3pm and we've been working ten hour days, getting done at 1am. The tougher part has been getting going the day after work. My knees, ankles and back are generally sore, making it harder to find the motivation to get out of bed. However, I promised Holly that I would not stay up all night, so I come home and go to bed, trying to be out of bed by 9am so I can enjoy something of my day before work.

For the most part, it's working. I'm not always out of bed by 9, but I have had a good chuck of daylight to enjoy before work.

If I could get my body to stop aching, I wouldn't mind so much :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And Here. We. Go.

Tuesday afternoon, I accepted an offer of work. I start Wednesday at 2pm working 2nd shift in a machine shop running parts. The pay won't set the world on fire, but it's better than unemployment.

Holly and I talked about it, and I've set up a schedule for myself to stick to so I don't get too far out of whack with the rest of societal norms. My work schedule is 3p to 12am or 1am, so I'll be home shortly after that with bedtime at 2am. The alarm will go off at 8:30am with a "get out of bed you lazy bum" time of 9am.

The goal is to pay down our debt, send one or both of us back to school and generally improve our station in life.

I'm looking forward to getting back to work.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Time to be Thankful.

When this post hits, I will hopefully be on the runway at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston about to take off for Milwaukee.

I've spent the last week in Lake Charles, Louisiana, working on a contract job that was supposed to start in Milwaukee on October 10th but has been delayed. I was contacted by the staffing agency holding the contract on Wednesday, November 16th at 3:30 in the afternoon asking if I could fly out to fill in at another site.

I conferred with Holly and, with her blessing, said I could go. Travel plans were quickly made by the agency and at 1:30pm on Thursday the 17th, I was bound for Lake Charles via Houston.

Both flights went well; the connector from Houston to Lake Charles was delayed about an hour, but by 8 pm, I was in Lake Charles.

I had contacted the local lead for the project and was told that Friday would be a partial day due to travel by the company guys. I had flown in just in time to cut out early...

I had the weekend in Lake Charles. I watched alot of TV, and Sunday made it a point to hit the local BW3s to catch the Packer game, and then returned to my hotel room to finish watching the Nascar race.

Monday night I was able to sample some local cuisine with the company guys at Steamboat Bill's. Shrimp never tasted to good! Fresh from the Gulf, breaded and fried.

Most evenings, Holly and I have either played text tag or Skyped to keep in touch. When Skyping, Holly would show her phone to Lumos and he would cock his head to one side, then the other trying to figure out why Daddy was in the phone.

I'm thankful I took this opportunity to travel and not only earn a paycheck, but also see a part of the world I had never before visited. I was able to spend Saturday in Houston catching up with a dear friend as well.

My friends, never take anything for granted, and be thankful for what you have, even if you don't think it's much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I haven't felt much like writing these days, either here or on my ranting blog, but I figured I may as well sit down and get some thoughts out that I have.

I had to restart the job search. The contract I was supposed to be on was delayed due to a parts shortage. I gave it six weeks of waiting past the original start date before saying screw it. I've been in touch with my recruiter the whole time and she understands my frustration.

At this point, I'll do just about anything for work. I have IT skills, but no formal education, so IT seems like a longshot to me. I have warehouse skills, but I've been out of that game for five years now. A staffing agency called me yesterday about a resume I sent regarding a warehouse job and the recruiter asked me what my dream job was. I jokingly said centerfielder for the Brewers, but I was past my prime, so just about anything at this point.

Anymore, my days go something like this; Wake up, make Holly her lunch and see her off to work, walk the dog, shower, watch the Price is Right, catch the noon news, walk the dog, eat lunch, listen to Belling, start dinner, welcome Holly home, hang out for the evening. Now I've added "look for a job" to that list as well.

My days bleed together and I constantly look at my phone to remind me which day it is. I'm doing my best to maintain a daily schedule of some sort so I can fall asleep at night.

I know it will get better, but when?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's not supposed to end this way.

Today was a bit of a jumble for me.

I should be happy that the Packers won, but I'm not.

I should be happy that the Brewers went deep into the post season, but I'm not.

I'm terribly saddened by the death of Dan Wheldon, a racecar driver in the Indycar series. Why? To be honest, no idea really, other than my love of auto racing in any form, and the Wheldon seemed to be a truly good man by all accounts.

Today started out like any other Sunday with church this morning and football at noon. I had dozed off on the couch, dog on my chest, during the game, and awoke shortly after 3. I flipped the TV over to ABC to catch the Indycar race, only to see it had gone to caution. I noticed a large amount of debris on the track and waited for a replay.

Fifteen cars were collected in an accident coming through turn 2, with at least three going airborne. Wheldon's car took flight and made tremendous impact in the catch fence above the outer wall, crashing cockpit first.

I've been watching racing for over 25 years, and when they covered Wheldon's car with a tarp, I said to my wife "that's never a good sign."

Almost two hours later, Wheldon's death was announced publicly, and I was so overcome with emotion, I started to cry. My wife was startled by this, and seemed a bit stunned as she came over to console me.

I'm not sure why I was so overcome; I'm so much more of a Nascar fan, and only casually follow Indycar these days. The only explanation I can come up with is that racing is a community, no matter what series or car.

Dan Wheldon, you were taken from us too soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dateline: San Jose

I've been a little lax about keeping everyone in the loop on my job hunt. Time to fix that.

As most of you may know, I was laid off February 2010 and since been looking for something long term. I've had a couple of short term contracts and a failed attempt at full time employment this spring, but kept digging and digging.

About two weeks ago, I get an email from a staffing agency asking for a copy of my resume in Word format. Reply to the email with a copy of my resume in Word format and make a mental note to follow up one day later.

 One day later: I call the staffing agency and leave a voicemail with the recruiter who had requested my resume. Recruiter calls me back and begins a phone interview with me regarding the position I had applied for. After about 20 minutes or so of questions, I was asked to come in and fill out paperwork for employment.

 I fill out my paperwork, and schedule a drug test screening and tuberculosis screening and consent to a background check. A few days later, everything is groovy and I am given the go ahead to make travel plans for training. Plans are made and Monday the 26th comes. I fly out of Milwaukee, change planes in Dallas and get to San Jose, California.

The flights in went well; we were delayed in Dallas but about 90 minutes, but otherwise, travel was pleasantly uneventful. Catch a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, where I meet my new coworker, also from Milwaukee. We grab dinner and basically discover that we are the same person in different bodies. Scary, I know. It's now 11:35 PM PST, which means it's 1:30 AM CST, so I should go to bed. Goodnight everyone :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

somebody wake the rooster

Since I'm up early today, I may as well write, right? Lately my sleep patterns have been all over the map. Most nights I don't fall asleep until after midnight, and then don't want to get up the next day. Monday night, I took a sleeping pill and crashed by 10:30. I still didn't get up until 10:30 Tuesday Morning. Last night, I was in bed by 11, laid in bed for a while, and eventually fell asleep. I woke up at 5am without an alarm. You know that feeling of knowing you won't fall back asleep right away? Yeah, I had that, so I got out of bed, headed for the living room, turned on the morning news and had a bowl of cereal. The worst part of the wacky sleep schedule is that it knocks everything else out of order as well; my metabolism is goofed up from the irregular schedule and I've got no motivation. All that being said, I'm still looking for work. I've contact four different recruiters about various jobs, and posted countless resumes to online job boards. It enough to make me crazy...I JUST WANT A JOB!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tonight, I took some time to sit out on my patio, bug candle lit, to just enjoy the break in the weather. Since we all complained that it was too cold in May and into June, Summer showed up and gave us the finger and turned the heat up to 11.

Last night, Holly asked if we could turn the air off, and after checking the forecast, I did so. The apartment is a bit warm, but with a fan in the living room it's not too bad.

I got to spend Wednesday at the ballpark with my mom, my sister and my nieces and nephew. They drove up from Western Illinois to support their Cardinals, and I was left to defend my Brewers in my own ballpark. It was a bit warm, but we made the most of it and had fun anyway. Too bad they had to drive home having witnessed a 10-5 Brewers clubbing of the Redbirds.

Holly and I celebrated 2 years of marriage on Monday and went out to dinner with her parents. We had a great time chatting and just spending time together. That's one of the things I love the most about my wife; just spending time with her. Her folks have something planned for us on the 14th, but won't tell us what, just have a light lunch and dress business casual and then get in the car and go for, ok. :)

Work continues to go well. I've got at least another week at the temporary gig I'm at, and I've basically applied for a permanent position there in another capacity. We'll see where that goes.

My wife indulges me a bit much, not that I mind at all. She bought me a four lap ride along at the Milwaukee Mile as an anniversary gift, and most nights this past week we've listened to the Brewer games on the radio instead of watching TV.