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» Family

Family


Ups and Downs of the week.

 Sarah’s home – She’s been away at a conference. No fun being alone. The kitties didn’t like it either.

  MLB umpires – It’s time to expand instant replay in baseball. Too many totally missed calls by the umps. I’m not talking about balls and strikes, although that’s bad enough. But the missed calls for baserunning and foul/fair is changing the natural progression of the post-season games. If the umps like CB Bucknor continue to badly miss calls, it’s time to bring technology into the game.

 Weekends – Gawd, I need this one.

  Red Sox – Great time for an offensive slump. They look pathetic.

  AAA – Talk about a great deal. For a few bucks a year you get towing, travel advice, and you can walk in and get an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in about 10 minutes. Good deal all around.

 

My father passed away last Monday, August 10th at about 1AM. I had been expecting the call since early Sunday morning when he was taken off the respirator, but he rested quietly for nearly a full day before passing peacefully. My mother and brother were with him at the end. I am only now able to write about him without losing all semblance of control.

My father set the standard for fatherhood. The driving force in his life was the welfare of his family. He was a truck driver and later dispatcher and supervisor at a large trucking company. The same company for 28 years. Despite rather meager earnings, he made sure my Mom and we five kids had a home to live in, clothes on our backs, food to eat, and whenever possible, a vacation to the campgrounds of New Hampshire and beyond. I thoroughly enjoyed my younger years. We lived in a nice neighborhood full of kids our age and spent every minute possible outdoors either playing sports or exploring the woods surrounding our neighborhood. When we were old enough, my Dad scraped together the money to buy us an aboveground pool for the backyard. We had a pop-up tent trailer camper we used as our home away from home on countless camping trips. After winter storms Dad would come home from a long day at work and spend hours digging out bobsled runs down the hill in our backyard. He’d drag out the hose and ice the runs for us so we could have a ball racing down them for days after the storm. When we started to outgrow our house, he had an addition added to accomodate upstairs rooms. He had the addition framed and roofed professionally, but did all the interior finish work himself, again, after long hard days at work.

My father also set the standard for employees. He believed you gave a full day’s work for a full day’s pay every single day. He had no patience for anyone who slacked off or had a bad attitude at work. His feeling was, if you don’t like it, go work somewhere else. The following quote is from a truck driver who worked with my Dad for many years. He wrote us a letter last week to tell us how he felt about Dad. He related a story of how he was angry with management one day and intentionally failed to finish his route. My father jumped all over him:

He then told me that this is a company and you’re being paid to do your best work every day regardless of what differences you might have with certain management. He said, if you want my respect you better go out and do the job you were paid to do!

That was my father’s work ethic. Do the job you get paid to do. If you didn’t know how, he’d show you. If you were doing it wrong, he show you the right way. If you were goofing off or had a bad attitude, he’d show you the door.

Despite being tough as nails at the office, my father was gentle and quiet at home. When he had to occasionally work weekends, we’d sometimes go to work with him to give my Mom a break and to have fun pushing each other around the docks in freight dollies. One day I overheard my Dad talking with one of the mechanics and I was shocked to hear him swear. I had never heard so much as a “damn” from him. Later in life I met folks who had worked for him and they told me of his fearful rants at people who were screwing up. It was an image of my father I had never seen. My father was the guy who gladly allowed himself to be hauled up on stage at Disney World so the performers there could dress him in a tutu. He was the guy leading the chain of air mattresses down the Saco River in New Hampshire. He was the gentle giant who would always be there to protect us. He was the man who never raised his voice to my Mom.

My Dad was also the consummate driver. He started driving in his early teens, moving trucks around the yards for a local trucking company. After enlisting in the Marines and fighting in the Korean War, he returned to trucking and drove for years until a loading dock accident resulted in a badly broken leg. He drove us all over the country on camping trips and made a dozen round trips to Florida from Massachusetts to visit my sister. And in 64 years of driving, he had no accidents and his only ticket was a parking ticket. During his convalescence from the broken leg, we earned extra money to make up for his lack of overtime by assembling those black pens that come with most desk sets. We’d sit watching Batman on TV and eating popcorn while we screwed together those pens. To this day whenever I see a black pen pointed on both ends with a silver band in the middle, I can smell the plastic and hear Batman. Fond memories, though.

Once my Dad retired he and my Mom would spend their time with the Swim With a Special Child program. They’d spend hours every week helping disabled or autistic kids learn to swim. My Mom had already been doing it for years and spent 15 years in all helping kids; often the same kids. She saw many of them grow to adulthood. 

Last October my Dad started having problems breathing. His heart valves were failing and were unable to remove the water building up in his lungs. They needed to be replaced. The surgery was difficult and he nearly died in the OR, but he fought the odds and survived. For a while it looked like he might be able to return to a less active lifestyle at home, but infections and pneumonia teamed up against him. He fought a valiant fight. No one who knew him would have expected anything less.

On the eve of their wedding, my Mom read a poem to my dad that she had written earlier in the day. It was about their future life together. Exactly 54 years later, on the eve of their 54th anniversary, my sister read that same poem at my Dad’s funeral. It was the saddest day of my life.

Ups and Downs of the week.

  Dad – Another setback. Serious this time. Things are day-to-day now.

  The Economy – No raises this year, possibly 12 furlough days (equating to a 5% pay cut), and continued unemployment everywhere. 

 New Laptop – Dell Latitude E6500. With lots of horsepower, it runs Flash programs a thousand times better than my old laptop. This image is MLB.TV’s Flash-based video of the Sox game. This picture really doesn’t do it justice. The full screen image is clear and crisp and the motion is very smooth. Like having a new TV in the house.

Full screen video

  Red Sox – Playing like the 2006 Sox. No offense, limited pitching depth, no spark. They went 15 innings against the Yankmees tonight and couldn’t score a single run. They wasted outstanding pitching by their entire staff. Pathetic. Time for hitting coach Magadan to go. They need a fresh start.

Ups and Downs of the week.

  Dad – Home again. Hopefully for good this time.

  The Gates Affair – Will it ever end?

 Vacation – We just booked a trip to Germany for October (after Oktoberfest). We’ll be doing the Munich, Nürnberg, Prague, Vienna loop. I am so looking forward to it. 

Meh   Red Sox – Playing a little better. They picked up some talent today with Victor Martinez and Casey Kotchman. I felt bad for poor Adam LaRoche, who barely had time to unpack and probably didn’t dirty a single Sox uniform. I know he was psyched to be on the Red Sox and now he’s in Atlanta. Still, it’s his former team, so he’s come full circle, I guess. Sox are now just one and a half games back (1 game in the loss column).

 Decent Summer Weather – July has come and gone and not one day above 90. I can deal with 80s all summer long.

  Illinois Highway Department – I guess I shouldn’t expect much out of a group who believes the best way to repair a highway is to pour some tar in a hole and then fill it with peastone. It keeps the same crew employed filling the same holes week after week and it helps keep the windshield and autobody folks busy repairing glass and paint. Still, today I had to deal with stop and go traffic for 9 miles because they closed one lane of I-57 for that distance even though there was only one small crew working at the very end of the stretch. Why they needed 9 miles of lane closure for a single work crew is beyond me, but I guess I shouldn’t be looking for intelligence or consideration from this bunch of morons.

Ups and Downs of the week.

 Dad – Not doing too well. He’s still in the hospital with a fever and pneumonia. We were hoping he would be home for his birthday this Sunday, but it doesn’t look like that’ll happen. I visited him tonight and will be here over the weekend, so at least we get to spend some time together.

 Mom – Simply the strongest woman I know. How’s she’s managed to keep it all together through my Dad’s health issues is beyond me. I’m proud of her.

Meh   Red Sox – They won tonight (barely), but they’ve been losing steadily while the Yankmees have been winning steadily. Sox are now a couple games back. The pitching has been decent, but the offense has been pathetic. Something better change soon or we’ll be thinking about “next year.”

  The Gates Affair – Every facet of this bizarre story has been poorly handled, starting with Gates’s neighbor for failing to recognize him as he was entering his house. Then Gates himself for refusing to identify himself to a cop doing what cops do. Then the cop for losing his cool and arresting Gates. Then Obama for passing judgment before having all the facts.  This is how a very minor misunderstanding mushrooms into a huge racial/political brouhaha. Everyone needs to stand back and accept that they’ve all screwed up and then move on.

  Air Travel – It keeps getting worse, not better. Today we landed in the pouring, blowing rain in Boston and because the jetway couldn’t reach down to the tiny airplane we were crammed into, we had to disembark in the rain and wait in the rain while they unloaded our planeside checked bags in the rain. This is progress?

Ups and Downs of the week.

 Dockers Stain Defender pants – Now this is technology at its best. This past Monday a waiter spilled a full glass of Diet Coke in my lap. I stood up and brushed off the DC like it was crumbs. The pants were clean and dry immediately after the spill. No stains, no wetness. The waiter was far more relieved than I.

 Dad – Back in the hospital again. Short stay this time for some blood and a mild case of pneumonia. He should be home when I get there next weekend.

 Red Sox – Clay Buchholz looked great tonight as they beat the Blue Jays. Lugo has been released finally and Lowrie and Lowell are back. All is good.

  Walter Cronkite died today – Ok, he lived a long life that most of us can only dream about. Still, he was the last of the news folks you could really trust.

Baby Deer – Mama brought them by for some seed and peanuts, but they were more interested in Mama’s milk. She was having none of it, though, much to their chagrin.

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Ups and Downs of the week.

 Chicago, IL – Great city, except…

  Chicago, IL – Lots of obnoxious people here.

Dad – Home for good it seems. Going to visit in two weeks.

Meh  Red Sox – Still stumbling along, but they’ve lost the offensive spark. Maybe the All-Star break will help.

 Baby Raccoons – All kids love a pool. Baby coonies are no different. Just before I was able to snap this picture, this guy’s sibling was fully into the bin and splashing around.

Pool Time!

Ups and Downs of the week.

     Red Sox – They kicked butt for a bit, then blew a 10-1 7th inning lead in one game, then came back from 5-1 in the 9th to win the next game, and then blew a chance to win tonight at home. Typical Red Sox roller coaster. I’d sure would enjoy another 10+ game winning streak about now.

  Michael Jackson Coverage – Enough already. You can’t escape the hype over every snippet of tape the newsies dig up. CNN (Celebrity News Network) is one of the worst.

 Dad – Home since Thursday and doing better.

  The Sanford Saga – Infidelity is nothing new. Why do we treat every occurrence like it’s the first time it ever happened? If Sanford abused his position as governor or misused public funds, then can the bastard and move on. Personally, I couldn’t care less what his wife thinks about the whole thing. It’s not my business.

  Cool Weather – This week has been a nice break from the heat and humidity of recent weeks. I can deal with mid-to-high 70s and low 80s.

Ups and Downs of the week.

 Red Sox – Actually winning consistently on the road. I like it. Beckett had another great game tonight and Papi is to be feared by opposing pitchers again. All is well in The Nation.

  Celebrity Coverage – Do we really care that much? Or does the media just tell us we do?

 Dad – Coming home again on Thursday.

  Paving by gravel – I know I complain about it every summer, but this damn gravel is lethal to car paint.

 My Sister – Trekking up to MA again (third time) to help Mom take care of Dad when he comes home. Glad she’s there to help out. I know my folks really appreciate it. As do I.

 

Ups and Downs of the week.

 Home again – After being on the road nearly non-stop for three weeks, it’s good to be home. I have no school work and no place to be this weekend. I intend to enjoy my lack of things to do.

  Greed and self-importance – ‘Nuff said.

 Dad – Stronger every day. Hopefully he’ll go home again this week.

Meh   Red Sox – Big Papi seems to have recovered somewhat from his epic slump, but Dice-K is just awful this year. They’ve got some issues to work out.

 Ragtops – Top-down driving is awesome. My Thursday commute was perfect. Sunny, warm (ok, hot) day, top down, a/c blasting cold air at me, Bob Marley cranking on the stereo, and near empty roads going to and from work. I thoroughly enjoyed the 110 mile round trip. 

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