Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time to Say Goodbye

Its 7:51 pm

  My dearest Lorikitty,

        Its now been over 12 hours since you have left for heaven. And as much as I am at peace that you are in the most perfect place,my heart is completely broken. This day has been the longest,saddest day of my life.
   I got the call from Arbor Hospice at 7:10 am that you had passed away. I called Al and asked him if he could take me as I didn't trust myself to drive,hard to drive the freeway when your eyes are full of tears.
We got there at 7:45 and they directed me to where you were laying. They had laid you in out so you look even more like a angel. I cried so hard....even now,I can't stop. Just how many tears are in a human body anyways? I told you how much I loved you,how blessed I was that you agreed to share a life,house,cats and dreams with me. I held you so close,I never wanted to let you go...I don't want you to go....my life is empty,you are my life.
   I gathered your belongings,including the lovely little angel Theresa gave you and went to the desk I had called McCabes Funeral home before I came,that is where you told me you had called. The hospice nurses said how brave and cheerful you were and we were a great and loving couple. Yes,we are,aren't we?? People have been telling me how much in love we really were,that you can see in our words,deeds and touch.
  As we started to leave,I just had to go back....Al understood and waited. I cried some more,kissed your cherry lips once again and left.
   Al took me to breakfast and we just talked...small stuff,stories about us mostly. Afterwards,I came home to a empty house...Derek greeted me with a "meow ?",he really knows what is going on....
  I called St. Thomas and arranged to meet Debbie,who talked with me and helped me arrange your Mass. I am the one who will be speaking for you because no one knows you like I did. And yes,your "secret" will be finally be revealed...but honestly,I think everyone already knows it.
 After many more tears,I went over to the funeral home. There I met Matthew and found out that you had pulled my leg a little bit.
  You see,Lori didn't really want to go to the funeral home to plan out her own Mass,she felt it would hasten her day,make it happen faster. She was a little scared of that....so in reality,when I found out she hasn't called,I wasn't surprised.
  Matthew and I went over every aspect of your Mass....he was very kind and professional. Its going to be a beautiful funeral,I can assure you of that. What is very disheartening is its going to cost more then I thought,way more. I admit,my chances of holding our house,our dream,is fading. No yard sale or consignment sale is going raise the money needed. But I am going to do this my love. You wanted this summer to be a "beer and burger" summer,well before I have to leave here,I'm going to throw you that party on July 25th in our backyard. I'm inviting anyone who can read this and wants to come....to come celebrate Lori's birthday at our house. Its going to be a joyful event,full of love,laughter and even a beer and a burger.
  After signing the contract...Matthew let me visit you again,you looked lovely and so tiny. I cried again...and finally left.
   Marlene and Dylan called and offered to take me to dinner at the Red Can Opener. I bought Dylan a Dairy Queen and came home...as you saw,I had made a ton of phone calls to your friends and family. Sherry came over and we talked some more,I'm going to do as you asked and keep a eye on her the best I can.
  Brenda called and she was just heartbroken....I don't think she realizes what I'm feeling here. I can't help but feel once we lay you to rest,they are going to walk away from me. Maybe they don't feel I tried my best by you during this three year. You know I did whatever I could to keep you with me,you are my light...why wouldn't I fight? But as folks can see,for the vast majority of time,it was just you and I against this ugly monster called cancer.  But the allies we do have!!!! Wouldn't trade them for the world! So completely blessed to have such amazing friends!

May God watch over you all and thank you for coming along on this journey.

I love you so much Lori!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Guest blogger Susan Smiley:An Amazing Journey (Or How Putting One Foot In Front of the Other Changed My Life)

 Its 10:34 am
Its a cold snowy day in Michigan. And its finally time to run one of my favorite person's guest blog. Because nothing equates getting ready to run then looking outside at snow on the ground!
  This will be Susan's 2nd guest blog here,her first was a beautifully written eulogy for her beloved dog,Hercules. Lori and I met Susan when we (along with Carolyn Caves) rescued a huge grey kitty named Oliver. He ended up finding a wonderful life with Susan and that is how our friendship started. 
Susan has turned into a running machine and this column explains how that happened. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave a comment.

An Amazing Journey (Or How Putting One Foot In Front of the Other Changed My Life)
Last week as I was running over the Ambassador Bridge at sunrise in mile three of my first-ever half marathon, I thought about something my friend Garett said to me a couple of months ago: “It is like you woke up one day and decided to become a totally different person.”
I prefer to think of it as me getting back to being the person I was meant to be and, in this case, finding my inner runner. Finding the inner runner led me to bring other things to the surface that had likely always been in me too: confidence, grittiness, persistence, calmness. You don’t get better at running just by running and in turn, running is not just about the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other. It is about acquiring a mindset and attitude that permeates other aspects of your life.
Now, running a half marathon may not seem like much to those of you who are naturally gifted runners or to those who have been running since you were a freshman on your high school cross country team. But for a long-time non-runner like me, this is a huge accomplishment and something I had never previously visualized for myself. I didn’t take up running until I was 53 years old and recovering from a serious, near-fatal strep infection.
I’ve always enjoyed things like biking and hiking, kickboxing, weight lifting and yoga. But running eluded me. It seemed hard. It seemed like something for skinner people. But it also seemed like the people I knew who were doing it were really enjoying it. I decided to ease into it using the Couch to 5K app in the winter of 2011. Two of my younger, faster cohorts at Wayne State found out what I was doing and invited me to run with them a couple of times a week at the WSU indoor track. As I was struggling to work up to running three miles – one mile even – without walking I blurted out: “I SUCK AT RUNNING!” to which my cohort replied: “No you don’t. No one sucks at running. We’ve all been doing it since we were little kids so really, we’re experts.”
That was, as we say in the world of psychology, a total reframe. I stopped thinking of running as impossibly hard and started thinking of it as something I could get back to doing on some level. I visualized myself as a child running through the grape arbor in our yard and laughing.
I participated in my first 5K in May of 2012 – just a week after getting out of the hospital with what the doctor described as “the worst infection of this type that I have seen in 30 years of practicing medicine.” I walked almost all of it as I was still feeling somewhat woozy but the metamorphosis was underway.
By the time September rolled around, I was working on my fourth career 5K although still unable to allow myself to run full-throttle for all 3.1 miles. Although I had, at that point, lost 30 pounds and would eventually lose 60, I was not quite visualizing myself as a legitimate runner. As luck would have it, the day of that 5K I woke up with a pounding sinus headache but was determined to complete the race regardless. I was running to the beat of the pounding in my head, then walking, then running, then walking until with a half mile or so left in the race, my friend Erin, who is an accomplished tri athlete, ran back to find me on the race course after she completed her 5K and paced me at a brisk run from there to the finish line.
I should have taken this as a sign that I was becoming a runner because although it was not pretty, I gritted out the race and never thought once about NOT doing it.
Erin invited me to start running with her at the hospital where she works. It is one mile around the building and we would loop around three times alternating running and walking. I barely noticed that she was gradually increasing the time we were running until one day after we had run once around the hospital she looked at me and said: “This is where we usually walk a little but it seems like you want to keep running. What do you want to do?”
Of course I kept running – for three miles. And since then I have never walked during a 5K race.
Thus far this year I have logged 13 5Ks and in April completed by first 10K and proved to myself that I could commit to a training program and stick with it. It was a moment of truth when the week of that race I postponed a first date with a handsome, young gentleman because I had to get in a three-mile practice run in the rain.
“Look, it might rain on Saturday for the race so I want to make sure I’m ready! I need to take advantage of these weather conditions!” was my explanation to the poor gent. He probably thought I was nuts but agreed to push back the time for our rendezvous and scheduled a second date anyway. The old me would not have had the confidence to postpone a date with someone I really liked; the new me can do that and more.
In the afterglow of the successful 10K I committed to a duathlon at Stony Creek, the 10 mile Crim winding through hilly Flint, MI and finally the International Free Press / Talmer Bank Half Marathon last week. In all three events I managed to do more than I imagined possible. I’m not by any means saying I’m challenging the likes of U.S. Track and Field top-ranked distance runner Mary Cain in terms of time and pace, but that is not why I run.
I run to enjoy the beauty of a trail or country road. I run to feel free, to defuse stress, and to stimulate creativity. I run because I have committed to a goal, because it makes me feel good, and because I like myself and think of a six-mile trail run as a reward.  The lessons of endurance, perseverance, working through a situation with the tools at hand have all affected other areas of my life in a very positive way. I am more able to take things in stride (no pun intended). And despite my “less fast” pace, I am a bona fide runner!
It’s all about the joy, my friends.

Michael here.....
  Thank you Susan for this excellent blog and to you,the reader,for stopping by and supporting it.
I'll be back shortly with another entry of my own.

If you are on Twitter....feel free to follow me @Jinzo_2400

Friday, December 6, 2013

Of volunteering,Nelson Mandela and a Christmas request

Its 5:51 pm

     Shivering my ass off upstairs....had to borrow one of Paladin's fleece blankets to help keep me warm. He is curled up on my bed with his two other blankets. Not turning on the heater as of yet. Not because I am a tough guy but simply can't afford to run it unless I truly need to. Doing more with less is my new normal. I have on a pair of socks,a heavy sweater,sweat pants and that fleece blanket. Maybe its the iced coffee that is chilling my bones more then normal.

 I had a good week all things considering,got a good start on the basement,completed a volunteer shift for the Goodfellows and decided to try and write a book. I got the idea from cleaning out my basement and now I'm in the early process of sorting things out. I know many people have suggested I do this and now I think its actually a good idea. I need something to jumpstart me again...its not easy to simply do that but it is maddening to know you control your own fate in regards of how you let a life changing event define you.

   I need to get back into doing the good habits I had developed since going back to work. My diet is so screwed these days what with not cooking very much but I have a idea about that as well and I am going to share that with you come Jan 2014.
  Its not a new idea but when you consider who is going to be undertaking it,I think you'll want to see how it goes.
  The week wasn't perfect however as we had a unpleasant incident happen at the job. The ASM (assistant store manager) who hired me in was suddenly fired. A co-worker said it was pretty strange as the ASM started her usual store duties when she was called into the back. A while later,she was escorted out the building. Our store manager told several employees that she wasn't with the company anymore and to respect her privacy. The last part is easy as the company has discouraged social contact between store management and the rank and file worker. In other words,we don't know how to even say "hello" to any of our upper management outside of work.
  Of course everyone was talking about it...I felt bad for both her and my manager,what a position to be put in...but there had to be a  reason for what happened. I know she is very talented and she will be missed!

 The big news this week - Nelson Mandela has passed away at age 95. Mandela,who languished in a South African jail for 27 years before not only winning his freedom but also becoming his nation's President,was a true champion for his people and fought hard to overcome the incredible damage that apartheid had ripped South Africa apart for many decades. As I have been fond of pointing out,we need only to be willing to look at history to see how to avoid making the same mistakes. Even as I write this,this country is going through apartheid in a economic and cultural ways that are very subtle and insidious manner. The top 2%,Wall Street and the so called political leaders are quietly working very hard of dividing and denying the average American the same chances for a quality life that they themselves have at our expense. Sadly we have no Nelson Mandela to boldly arise and help end this injustice. Instead we have mainstream media types whipping us into a feeding frenzy of hatred and mistrust. But I do know there are those of us who will continue to do the right thing and embrace our fellow human beings.

  Last night was was a great example of this. I got a call from Paula Kosbe who works in the Park and Leisure section of my city. She also is the leader of getting folks to volunteer at various events. Lori and I met her when we were among the first to volunteer for the emergency food bank,she is a sweet lady and works very hard. Well,I was one of the folks she called to help with the Goodfellows intake this week and the next.
The Goodfellows work very hard to help families who are struggling and have kids to have a normal Christmas. The family makes a request per child and then generous people pick the name and basically buy what the child needs as close as they can.
  Its really humbling at this time of year,the local newscasts always show different groups taking a small groups of kids shopping for Christmas gifts. What has always struck me is what these kids DON'T pick. They don't go for the "in" thing but for the simple things or perhaps a item of clothing they need.
Many shop for family members before themselves. The same thing goes for the families that submit a request through the Goodfellows. No PS/4 or Xboxes here. The folks that support a chosen family are given a guideline to shop by,warm clothes,up to 4 small toys and the Goodfellows also donate a book or two from various book drives throughout the year.
  This is where I was at last night...I was with a nice young man named Karl and a city employee named Tom. Karl and I would help the folks who were dropping the bags off. We would load them on carts or carrying them downstairs where members of Goodfellows who check them in and put them in the sorting rooms.
  In the past,the gathering would take a week and then the sorting and wrapping would take another before they delivered the gifts to the families. But they made a wise choice starting this year. Now they ask the sponsoring family to include wrapping paper. This allows the parents of the child to see what their child gets but also to wrap to gifts themselves,to partake of what Christmas joy there is in wrapping gifts.
  It was pretty slow at first with trickles coming in but as our shift went on,it got busier.
But between the cars coming through,we three talked college football,city politics and the like. Tom,whose job was to moniter the front lobby of the city hall at night,said it was a quiet job for the most part. He said local HOA meetings take place and once in a blue moon,things get heated. He has a button to the police station which is next door and if he can't help smooth out the problem,he presses the button.
  I said "They will get a chance to meet Brian and his new partner". I have blogged about Brian and his K-9 partner,Poncho,who used to eat lunch at the hotel I worked at. I went to Poncho's retirement a couple of years ago. Tom laughed at that and said that his daughter had been an Explorer for the police department and had influenced her to get into law enforcement. She is a campus officer at a local college.
  45 minutes after that discussion,Tom's phone rings and he starts talking....he moved away as another car came up and Karl and I jumped into action. As we came upstairs,Tom was shaking his head. I asked him if everything was okay and he said that was his daughter on the phone. Wednesday night,Poncho had passed away. We were just talking about him and now he is gone. We then told Karl about Poncho and showed him his picture in a poster that the city still had up.
  I remember when Brian said that when K-9 retire,they generally only live two years after they do. Its because they work so hard that the dogs seem to age prematurely. So while it was sad news,I wasn't too shocked,just that it happened and I was able to learn about it.

(This isn't Poncho,just gives you a idea of what he looked like)
  The night went one and and 25 minutes before the end of our shift,a truck pulled up...the lady and her group were dropping off 31 bags for 31 kids. It took her three trips to drop off everything. We helped carry it in to be checked off. And then it was over...and I started home.
   I decided to take a flyer and stop by the Blockbuster store that is going out of business. I wanted to see if my gift card that I got as a birthday gift would be good. The store had a few people in it and as I started looking for some DVDs for my stack,I was engaged by a friendly employee named Jason who noticed my U of Detroit sweater. We talked about Titan basketball (which is extremely rare out here in the burbs) and how its going to be a rebuilding year. Turns out not only is he working at Blockbuster,which will stay open for another month or so,but he also works at Calihan Hall where the Titans play. I told I had went through this when Farmer Jack closed its doors and if he had any luck finding another job.No luck so far (don't I know it) but he was plugging away. I thought it showed real character to hang in there at Blockbuster which is 25 miles from home for him and couldn't be paying him all that much.

 His spirit was hopeful and it was encouraging to see as most folks whose company is closing are bitter and upset. Its hard to stay professional when people make cracks about why your company is going away. The good news was my gift card still worked and I was able to get 4 DVDs out of it. Pretty happy about that because my Dollar Tree stash is getting low.
  Now for something weird.....while I can't really afford a Christmas this year,is it okay to ask for a Christmas card from any reader who would like to send one? I don't know if its tacky but when I hear about crowdfunding/sourcing...I am willing to take a chance and say I would like to get a simple card or two.
  At least I can keep one tradition that Lori and I had alive. We would wait until Christmas morning to open our cards (except from our families,those we had to open when we got them). It made for a fun build-up and we always re-read the cards from the year before as well.

So,if you are so inclined....here is my address:

Michael Sullivan
45249 Lemont Road

And thank you of course.

I'm listening to the MAC Championship game on ESPN2 between Northern Illinois and Bowling Green. If the Huskies win,they are headed to a huge payday again by playing in a BCS bowl game. Bowling Green will also go bowling again.
   I am holding my breath as I don't know if San Jose State is going to get a bowl bid. While they did beat 16th ranked Fresno State,they still finished a mere 6-6. A terrible 3 game losing streak forced the Spartans to have to beat Fresno just be considered. While many sites have UNLV and Colorado State going before SJSU,I don't see that happening at all three schools finished 5-3 in the Mountain West and more importantly,the Spartans beat the Rams and Rebels head to head. That plus a explosive offense has me thinking they will be heading to the New Mexico Bowl as I wrote last entry. But instead of Oregon State or Washington State,the experts have SJSU either playing Arizona or Buffalo. If we had a defense,I would love to play the Wildcats but since we don't (we DO have a defense,just not a defensive coach worth a damn),we would be better off matched up with Buffalo. Come Sunday night,we will see if and where the Spartans will land. Then the critical off-season starts.
  2014 is going to be a monster year in terms of schedule strength as San Jose will play on the road,Auburn,Minnesota and Navy while hosting FCS North Dakota. This is why playing in a bowl game is so important,we need all the recruiting help we can get!

  Okay,so who watched the live broadcast of "The Sound of Music" last night? I stumbled across the last half of it and I watched with a mix of horror and a NASCAR race. It was so bad yet you didn't want to change the channel because wanted to see if someone would flub up. Well they did....when NBC actually decided to pull this off this trainwreck. Don't get me wrong,I think Carrie Underwood is a decent singer but she was just overmatched in this type of setting.

  This was one of Lori's favorite films and I got the DVD for her for a gift. It truly is a classic film and seriously,who else but Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer could we see as Maria and Captain Van Trapp? I know the network tried to put a positive spin by saying the public gave it a "B-" if you looked at Twitter last night,it got more like a F+. Not exactly a shining moment for NBC.
  And in a twisted case of irony,they kept showing the previews for "Saving Mr. Banks" which was the story of Mary Poppins.....which of course starred the same delightful Julie Andrews! Sometimes you just can't improve on perfection!

Well that is it for me tonight.....thanks for reading! Feel free to drop a comment or two.

If you are on Twitter,add me @Jinzo_2400

Shout outs

Lisa B- thanks for giving me a chance.
Nelson Mandela - For showing the world that one can keep their humanity,no matter what may come.
San Jose State Football - thanks for a great season
Suzanne West - For such a lovely picture!
Anthony Cardno - For such a awesome interview with Win Scott Eckert!
Dr. Bonnie - Courage!
E.G. -Pleasant......dreams??
Alana - thank you for the bread again!
Barb - as always,thank you for the dinners.
Tom Leyden - Curtis is a Met? Holy crow,we are in deep doo this year!
Pat Caputo - Thanks for always answering my SJSU tweets to you,you are a true gentlemen
Candye - Hope you are home soon!
Tiffany - Hope Dallas is ready for the Sanctuary of Style!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rolling Blog

It's 10:35 pm

  It's another bitterly cold night here in SE Michigan. Paladin and I are watching "American Ninja" on YouTube. My brother Phil loved this movie so much,we wore out the local mom and pop video that had this on VHS. 
  Its two days before Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is the memorial service at St. Thomas a Beckets. It's going to a sad night for a lot of us who lost our loved ones this year. I am sure tears will be shed,memories shared...even some good times will be recalled.
I will write about the night on Thursday....but now I want to bring attention I saw on my Facebook wall from a very earnest young music lover named Dan Herman who lives in Pennsylvania.
This is clear proof that despite what some may say and think,the recession is still out here,still causing much pain and havoc.

This is what Dan posted publicly on his wall.

Spoke to landlord earlier today and decided to put up pretty much the remainder of what's in my bank toward the back rent. It's all I can do to keep from being evicted. I'm now pretty much broke, and I still have bills incoming. I'm still seeking work, going below my means to find work that doesn't fit my background.

Even if I find work this week, I can only hope it's local and that I don't go penniless because I can't get the bus or the train. 

Once again, I must ask for your help. Regardless of the fact that it's a holiday season (which is the better part of 6 weeks), I can't function without any income. I know, just about any of you probably can't either. This situation is dire. I don't know how short the eviction process is here in Philadelphia. I just don't know where or how I'd move at this juncture if I had to leave. 

I'm not ashamed at typing all this. It's better than keeping it all in and praying for the end to come quickly. It's almost like in poker, the idea of existing with a 'chip and a chair'. That's about the best way I can analogize this scenario to something else. 

So what am I doing? I've applied to jobs in any number of websites for the local area, including 10 miles out. I've started to reach some local stores re possible seasonal employment. I've also reached a few friends and relatives across the country who may have leads for work in their necks of the woods. At this moment I've no interviews pending, but a ton of applications are out there with my humble name on them. 

I am aware of some rental assistance agencies in the city. I don't know their reputation, what the process is, or anything. I just know they are there, and I'll resort to them if I must. Any insight on this would be appreciated greatly. 

Also I do have the Paypal button on the website as a possible means to build income. You can contribute as you will. 

I have my resume all polished, too. Contact me at cblue456 @ comcast . net if you want this file. 

Well, that's all I got. It'll take a lot of pain to bring me down. I'm hurting, but not so much that I don't have hope.

As I told Dan and I am writing this....that took a lot of courage to write. I know that I am not that far away from being in Dan's shoes. The economy is still in the pooper as jobs are getting harder to find that pay a decent wage. If you wish to help Dan out,you can contact him at the email address listed above.
  As I blogged before,I volunteer at a emergency food giveaway in my city. While the number of folks doesn't seem large (103),its still over 30 people up from where its normally at. I saw two different posts on my FB wall about huge crowds in San Jose (2,500) and Stockton (4,000!!) waiting to get a Thanksgiving meal. I don't know about Detroit this year but we chronically have a large turnout for a free hot meal or having a free turkey and all the fixings.

1 Dec
9:27 pm

Still writing this in fits and starts. Its another chilly day in SE Michigan. We are both in the den,I'm writing and Paladin is curled up on his fleece blanket. 
  Going back to last Tuesday night. Had the day but kept busy. I had already talked to Susan to let her know she didn't need to come down. Turns out she couldn't have anyhow as her new dog has a case of heartworm and she had to take him into the vet. I also talked to Marlene (Crash's mom) to also let her know she didn't need to come. She said she would try but as it was her late day...
  I was going to meet Michael and Deb at Antonio's for dinner at 5:45 before heading to St. Thomas at 7 pm. As I was getting ready,my neighbor Kathy came over. I hadn't seen her in over a month and I saw I had 20 minutes...which went into 35 before I managed to get free.
  It didn't matter,my stomach was too tied up to worry about eating so I made small talk as Michael and Deb ate (and thank you again for dinner). Pretty soon it was time to go and we drove down to St. Thomas where there were a lot more folks then I had imagined. People were slowly walking inside and we made our way in as well. I went to the men's room to get a little composed and saw a few other guys doing the same.
  I was a little perplexed as to why was St. Thomas having this service only two days before Thanksgiving? I mean,its rough already during the best of times but adding this to a big typical family holiday? I was wondering about that as we sat down.
  A priest who I had never seen before stood up and announced that St. Thomas's regular Father was going through some trials and "personal problems that he is struggling with" and that he had decided to "resign" that very day! Based on the snatches of talk I heard afterwards,this wasn't a huge surprise to the church members. 

  But as they made other announcements ,my eyes went to the back of the wall and I counted 52 crosses hanging there with a small candle burning.They did a Mass and then Debbie Miller (who I talk to as a grief therapist) read off the names quietly. After a song and a prayer,they invited a family member to come pick up our crosses. I was overcome with tears and Deb sat with me and we cried as Michael went up for me. I miss her so very much. The service ended and we made our way out where we ran into Marlene who had raced from Detroit to the service. We talked for a few and then I sent them on their way because they had a long drive ahead and worked in the morning. 
  And that ended this part of my life....

Thanksgiving was quiet...I had some very nice people offer to have me over to dinner including a young lady from my job whom I would have never guessed would have invited me. I was touched but I said "no" and just had a small dinner that Barb had gotten me. Paladin and I watched a 10 part series on World War II which Lori had gotten for me as a gift and I had yet to watch it....until now. It was very well done and I kept putting it on pause as I read about a key battle on my iPad. 
   At 4:45 pm,I drove to Target as I thought they were going to be open at 5 pm....turns out it was at 8. I wanted none of that and drove back home. 
   Black Friday went on in my work and while the business was heavy,it wasn't anything stupid as they showed in various Wal-Marts. Which cracked me up because there isn't any need to bum rush,Walmart has enough product to handle the early bird shoppers. But of course you can see what kind of people are acting a fool and ruining it for everyone else. Cops were out in force and were brooking no foolishness from anyone. 
  So my friend Kerri and her husband Andy are a hosting a Photo Challenge on Facebook. Every day has a theme and you have to post a picture that you took that relates to the theme. Its been pretty rough to figure out a few of them and very painful ones as well but I am posting nearly everyday. On some days,especially the theme that was "Fur",has been been a lot of fun. Lot of folks have a lot of furry friends that they showed out. I posted a few shots of Paladin. 
   The college football regular season ended last Saturday for the San Jose State football team. The Spartans were at one point 3-1 in the Mountain West and 5-3 overall before hosting San Diego State. The Spartans had a 30-20 lead in the 4th quarter but couldn't handle the Aztecs running game and lost 34-30 which started a 3 game losing streak and ending their bowl chances at they were 5-6 and hosting the 16th ranked Fresno State Bulldogs. The Spartans had dropped a 58-52 triple overtime game to Navy while Fresno was blowing up New Mexico,69-28. This game was going to be ugly....and it was. My buddy at worked stood there in shock as I asked him for the score...when he said 42-41 SJS at the half,I thought he was poking fun as me but he wasn't he was telling the truth! Not only were they winning,they played with great defensive will the second half and won,62-52,ending Fresno's chance to play a major bowl. 
  As for the Spartans,suddenly they are 6-6 and with their Top 10 passing game,will be a attractive team in a smaller bowl game. I am guessing they will end up in the New Mexico Bowl playing either Oregon State or Washington State. We'll know for sure by next Sunday. 
   Actor Paul Walker died yesterday in a brutal car crash....he was a passenger in a high powered Porsche when the driver lost control,hit a tree or a pole and blew up the car. Both men never had a chance as the car burned out of control. Walker rose to fame playing a former cop named Brian O'Connor in the "Fast and Furious" movies.
   Finished my Jack Reacher novel and started in on a autobiography by Army Ranger Captain Scotty Smiley called "Hope Unseen" in which he became to first Ranger to serve who also was legally blind. Should be a great book full of hope and courage. I'll let you all know how it turns out.
  Again,sorry my writing has been in spurts and starts. I am very grateful to you all who keep coming by and seeing if I have posted anything new. Well,now you know that I have indeed!

Guest blogger Susan Smiley (hmmm,wonder if she is related to Scotty) will my next entry and my interview with Brad Beneke will follow....

You can follow me on Twitter @Jinzo_2400

Shout outs:

Sue and Liane- thank you so much! I need a diet now!
Christine H- Next time,I promise.
Deb and Michael- Thank you for always being there for us!
Marlene- Same to you!
Alana- Dude,that bread is beyond good.
Morgan - Thanks for talking geopolitics with me and for also knowing who Paladin was named after.
 Kerri and Andy - Loving the challenge!
Scorpion - are you getting ready to relaunch the pirate radio station?
Jimmy - I still crack up remembering your encounter with David Blaine,I knew there was a reason I stayed upstairs!
 Tom Nelson - Happy birthday!
Sydney - Happy birthday!
and to whoever uploaded episodes of Mystery Theater on YouTube,you rock!
Dan Herman - hang tough...
Brad B. - Phil Hughes will be a steal for the Twins!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Neverwhere (aka Randomness)

Its 12:54 am

    Back again...its very cold here in SE Michigan and we are expecting our first real snow tomorrow,about a half of inch is expected to fall tomorrow. Just enough to make traffic rather hairy getting home.

 Paladin is sleeping on our bed,he really is a hoot...he loves to run and play. He has started to make his scratch pad into a tent but better be careful when petting him,he gets really serious about defending that tent! But he and I are doing much,much better. He slept next to me under the covers for six hours,warm as can be. I think being a short haired kitty,he will be affected by the cold winter much more then Derek Jeter and Ginger were.
  My week has been pretty vanilla...we didn't make our volunteer project as last Wednesday night saw our store's department heads having to stay very late to do a major floor set. I actually ended up working two extra hours (thanks Rich and John) helping out in lumber. I left at 10:30 and told my two volunteer partners if it got too late to scrap the trip...and at 12:45 am,I got the call....its wouldn't be right to expect these guys to bust their asses for 12 hours only to be get up at 6 am to do the volunteer project. But there will a lot of chances to contribute somewhere soon.
   Today is 11 November....21 years ago my family lost my brother Peter when he was killed via the most American way...the gun. Still hurts all these years later,still can recall everything about that fateful day. The disbelief,the trip to the airport...the having the same empty hollow feeling knowing his death will be just another of case file sitting in Bremerton Police Dept.
Photo: Another year passes but always yesterday. I can count on both hands how many times the Lord has blessed me with my brother in my dreams but I want to thank the Lord right now for blessing me last night for allowing me to hang out with my brother once again. The beautiful part about it is when he is in my dreams we talk about life right now as I'm living it. I love you Pete!
  I can still see Peter playing baseball,chilling with my other brother,Philip and glad to be alive up in Washington. It was all taken away from us and I find it bitterly ironic that on the day we remember our soldiers in the armed forces who gave all to protect us from enemies foreign,it was a fellow American here on our soil who killed my brother.

   Saw the news this week that Blockbuster is closing its last 300 stores by 1 Jan 14. Wow...at one time they had over 2,000 stores and were considered too big to fail...but once streaming and Netflix hit,it just crushed them flat. I have a store that I have written about before about a half a mile away from the house. I cruised by a few times to raid the 4 for 20 sale they would run once in a while. Its sort of weird but that store was actually pretty busy,especially at night and during the weekend.

  It will be a real shame as a lot of folks will be losing their jobs at the worst possible time. Just like the used music and bookstores,both seem to be fading away...I know that Barnes and Noble took a major earnings beating last quarter which was a shock considering they are the only real bookstore chain left. Its getting harder and harder to find places to simply get a affordable CD,book or movies. Guess I make one last run over there on Tuesday because I have a gift card I better use before I can't anymore.

  Detroit has a new mayor in Mike Duggan....he is the first white mayor in 40 years. He is walking into his city being run by a emergency manager because of the severe debt the city is in. His city council will be a mixture of decent returnees to the typical Detroit voter voting for a "name" instead of the best person suited for the job. Is Duggan the answer,nope..I personally am dying to know why he ran for the office. I could understand it if you really had a chance to make a real impact but I just don't see it happening for him. You already know there will be sharp clashes with Duggan and the city council,the crime continues to rise...we had two terrible shootings this week....a 19 year old woman was shot by a homeowner when she knocked on his door after being in a car crash. He shot her in the back of the head and didn't bother to call the cops,his neighbors did.
  And at a barbershop,some illegal gambling got outta hand and one player decided to settle up with the house by shooting 10 people,killing two. The new police chief seems rather lost in trying to gain any direction in which to try and slow things down. I think the only thing that may slow things down is the weather. Generally here in Detroit,the colder the weather,the less static because no wants to go out and be cold in committing a crime. Summer means warmer weather and more restless youths that can acquire a gun and get into trouble.
  But a glimmer of hope does beckon for the future,former police chief Warren Evans is gearing up for a run as County Executive for the county I live in,Wayne. I think he will be a force to be reckoned with,just as he was as police chief.

   Been watching the ACA stumble out of the gate with the website crashing and the White House not seeing that the insurance companies would be dropping millions out folks. This is the second major misstep the Obama WH has committed in rolling out this reform,the first allowing employers to abuse the intent of reform to gut the hours of a part-time employee to 29 hours or less and not taking any steps to correct it.

18 Nov

1:49 am

Listening to a massive storm tearing through our town. Last week we had our first snow and today feels like April with a spring like storm bring rain,high winds and over 80 tornadoes down south. I heard there was a tornado in Ann Arbor and a huge gust of wind hit Ypsilanti at 70 mph. As I am typing this,I can hear the wind and rain bounce off the house,our large tree on the NW corner of house...its branches are scrapping the siding. So far,we have done pretty well in terms of not losing power as so many have had the bad luck of doing so. Paladin is curled up on his fleece blanket on the floor.
Incredible home video of a couple whose house was hit by a tornado. You gotta love this dude,he sees his house is all done but he is talking how he hopes his neighbors are alright. We all should be so lucky to have him as a neighbor.

22 Nov

5:34 pm

As you can see,this is a rolling blog as I have been feeling pretty hollow as of late. The holidays are in full swing now. Our store has its live Christmas trees in stock and yes,someone bought one even as we were rolling them out. I saw actress Shanna Moakler posted a picture of her tree already up and raring to go...

  I am staying quiet this day. I was kindly invited to several places but I just am in no mood to give thanks this year. I know...selfish and self-centered but I couldn't really give a damn what others think. Right now,I am just trying to make it through this period of the year.
  The lack of activity on my part is starting to be felt. I have so many good intentions but again,just as in June,once I get home...I am done. I check Paladin's bowl and his litterbox,fix dinner (thanks Barb!) and just retreat within myself. I think about our past Thanksgivings,what we did,what we ate and who came over. I thought maybe I would host a orphan's night for some of my co-workers but maybe next year.
  My insomnia is wicked and is getting worse,twice this week,I was up until 6 am...and I had went to bed at 10 pm both nights!!I even read a book...I finally got a Jack Reacher novel that my dad has highly recommended. I saw clips of the movie on YouTube,the character looks pretty bad-ass as portrayed by Tom Cruise.

  As I started reading the book,I got a sense of deja vu even though it was my first time reading any Reacher books. It wasn't until I came across a bar fight scene in the book that I figured I was reading the novel they based the movie on. When I went back to look at the fight scene,it clicked...that Tom Cruise was 6 inches too short and about 80 pounds too light compared to Jack Reacher in the book.

  Nonetheless,its a good fast read and I will have to tell my pops that he picked out a good writer.
Normally when I read,it tires me out and helps me sleep...but when I found myself halfway through the book,wide awake,I knew I was in trouble.
 My phone has too answering services...an answering machine that comes on when I am not home and a one that kicks in when I'm on the phone. Last week,I decided to check out those messages and clean the box out.
  Imagine my surprise when I heard messages from before May. The doctors,hospice,friends all leaving messages. And one that has totally left me so hurting...Lori calling me from downstairs the night I had been up so long I needed to sleep. It was the night that her fistula has caused her so much grief and I had spent all day trying to keep her clean. Her message was "Michael,where are you. I need you". Jesus Christ...to hear that today...I am just so hollow and so ashamed. I really did try my best...I swear to God,I did. My poor Lori...
  Needless to say,I am not so well this week. I keep seeing her in the bed...and I just weep. I can't help it...I just do.
  This Tuesday night,St. Thomas aBecket is having its Memorial service for the church members who have passed away the past year. Why two days before Thanksgiving,I couldn't tell you but there you have it...so I will be going once more to get a little cross that hung on the wall. Lori's best friend,Deb and her boyfriend Michael will be going with me to the service. That will be nice as I won't be going alone.

 I went grocery shopping today after clipping my coupons. I paid off my mortgage (thank you God for letting me stay here another month) and then went out onto the floor. The store was busy but not quite as busy as it will be come Tuesday-Wednesday night.Harking back to my Farmer Jack days,Thanksgiving was always a source of amusement to us because normal sane people would get all crazy come the last two days...looking for the last minute deals on turkeys and complaining about prices. You would just smile and nod your head...taking the heat for things beyond your control. But once in a while you get a chance for sweet revenge...like when some dude would ask how to defrost a turkey the DAY before Thanksgiving. My favorite was telling them to use a blow dryer or put the turkey in a sink full of water overnight. The real challenge was to keep a straight face when suggesting the blow dryer and hope the cashier next you wouldn't start laughing.

  Ah,to have that laugh today....but it was just me and my coupon book hunting bargains while watching the many families shop for the big day. Couples holding hands,kids asking for cherry pie instead of apple while teens wanted popcorn for a movie night. The sounds were festive and joyful. I walked up and down looking for the items I had coupons for and any good deals I may have missed or the store hadn't pushed.
  An hour later I was done and I saw Debbie,our regular cashier. I commented I hadn't seen her very much as of late and she said "They gutted our hours". She went from working 40 hours to 22 and was feeling it (no kidding). She asked how I was doing,she said I looked "haunted". Aye....and then she shared she herself was a widow at age 31. She had a eight year old boy that kept her going she said. She was going to share more but her line suddenly became busy and she had to go.
  Got home and put away the few things I had gotten and then nuked my dinner.
I started to read my book...but started to think about the news I had gotten this week. I got a email from my friend Michelle in North Dakota. She said her husband had been in a terrible crash. Brad drives a semi for a living and he was on his way either going to or dropping off a load. There was a slight snowfall as he drove down a two lane road.
 As he was driving,a Army convoy was going the other way. In between the military trucks was a car. The driver of the car was going too fast for the weather,wasn't paying attention and saw they were too close to the Army truck ahead to be able to stop safely. The driver,instead of going on the shoulder of the road,dashed into the other lane and with Brad only 15-20 feet away,it was too late. They hit head on...

Brad's skill,truck size and his guardian angel saved him. The driver wasn't so blessed and died from the impact. The passenger was critically wounded. The picture above is what remains of Brad's truck. Michelle wrote and said she planned on holding him very tight when he got home.
 I am just so happy that he is okay and I hope he knows there wasn't anything he could have done to avoid this. I know he will have sleepless nights but pray that he finds peace and know that we love love him very much...even if we haven't met.
  My den is a mess. I haven't been into coming up here as much as of late. I don't know why as I actually like the room quite a bit. I am planning to have my pal and fellow fan boy,Dominic,come over and help me hook up my wireless printer. That will happen after Thanksgiving. I am thinking of combining it with a movie night here. It would be my first social interaction here at the house since Lori. I mean,I have had people over but helping me sort thru Lori's things and burying Derek Jeter doesn't rate very high on the "so much fun" meter.

 As many of you know,I don't watch much TV these days. I generally sit downstairs with a DVD on and play with Paladin. But I do watch on Tuesdays (everything else,I catch up with on the iPad),especially my favorite show,"Person of Interest". The show is in its third year and has been very good this season. The writer's decided to wrap up a arc that has been play the first two seasons about a group of corrupt cops called "HR".
  They decided to end it with a 3 part story called "Endgame" and in which they said a member of the regular cast was going to die. The boards were rife with who was going to die. The feeling was Fusco or Shaw was going to die and the previews pretty much looked bad for Lionel.
 So imagine our shock and dismay when the writer's killed off Joss Carter...never saw it coming in the slightest. I was just staring at the screen as Carter slowly died in Reese's arms. Its pretty rare to to see a strong black female lead on TV and to say I'm bitterly disappointed is a understatement. While I like the Shaw and Fusco characters,I would have killed either one of them off before killing Carter. The fallout and the end of the arc ends this month before POI goes on a 3 week hiatus. It will be interesting to see what they come up with...

Sorry this has taken so long to get here and I am thankful you all are still with me.

I can be found on Twitter @Jinzo_2400

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Shout outs

Cheryl - Thanks for dinner!
Peter T - Enjoying the tea! What a nice thing to have on a cold day.
Sheri - thanks for having my 6
Barb- For everything
Brad and Michelle - You are blessed.
Maren- Sending warm thoughts your way concerning your grandpa
Denise - inside and out,always a jewel
Carl,Susan - #ninjafarts
Melanie and Terrie - just because.
Sue - Thanks for the coffee and friendship. I still owe you a bag of sunflower seeds

Monday, November 4, 2013

Safe Passage: Improving End-of-Life Care

It's 1:30 am

I like to thank Marianne for this entry,I copied it from her blog. It's a very strong article that you need to read.

A leading doctor has devoted his life to helping the terminally ill–and their families–face their mortality with honesty, dignity, and compassion

Excerpted from The Best Care Possible by Dr. Ira Byock, published by Avery Books, an imprint of Penguin books (LISA) Inc. Buy the book.
"Tell me about your father."
Ira Byock, MD, director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, waits attentively for the answer, elbows resting on his knees.
Seated across from him on a floral sofa in the quiet conference room at DHMC, 59-year-old Julia Dillard* takes a deep breath and launches into a litany of the dire medical problems besetting her 83-year-old father, who was referred to Dr. Byock's palliative care team after it became clear that his condition was grave. Inoperable aneurysms hide in his brain and aorta. Lymphoma lurks in restless remission. The rusty hinges of his heart stay barely cobbled together after bypass and valve replacement surgeries.
His eyesight is failing; nerves in his legs are slowly dying.
Dr. Byock takes in this clinical laundry list without interrupting. Then he says again, "No, tell me about your father. Tell me about the man he is."
As though his words suddenly release her from the tense, jargon-filled hospital world of worsening symptoms and grim prognoses, Dillard's face softens, and she shares family stories: how her father met her late mother at MIT and always said it was love at first sight, never failing to mention how incredibly gorgeous she and her red hair were. More memories follow: a carousel ride; visits to the public library; his generous, kind presence in his daughter's adult life; his stoicism even now–not complaining or admitting that he's in pain. Finally, her stories stop. But it's clear that she feels this is the right answer: This is who her father is.
In an age of specialists and aggressive medical protocols, people who've reached the end of their lives can get trapped in a frightening and frantic maze of tests and technology. Doctors and the families of the dying may lose sight of the person within the patient and see him as a series of medical battles to be won–until they can't be won any longer. Dr. Byock's mission is to help everyone involved find meaning, dignity, and peace in these final months of life.
Few would argue against the idea that end-of-life care in America needs an overhaul. Patients typically undergo aggressive treatments for the conditions afflicting them, ending their days in a semiconscious haze of pain and pain-killing drugs; often, no one addresses the fact that they're dying. In large part, this is because doctors are taught that their primary goal is to fight disease and injury. "Physician training reinforces a denial of dying, death, and grief and emphasizes combating the disease over helping the patient," Dr. Byock says.
Take pneumonia, he explains. The human body is hardwired with a variety of ways to shut itself down naturally, and pneumonia is one of its least painful exit strategies. It's also one of the most treatable, so doctors rush in to intervene, and each regimen–antibiotics, ventilators, surgery – forces the body of a critically ill patient to find a more painful way to die.
Dr. Byock wants to make that a more thoughtful process. He believes that for each patient, a loving, frank, and compassionate collective of doctors, family members, and, of course, the patient herself should discuss what her prognosis is, what's medically possible, and what trade-offs she may want to make between her remaining time and her quality of life.
Dr. Byock's philosophy has been honed over the 34 years he has spent working in hospice and palliative care and advocating for the rights of end-of-life patients. If we accept death as a normal stage of life, he believes, it goes against both nature and common sense to approach a dying person as merely a series of medical problems to be solved. "Difficult decisions are often made in moments of crisis and based on nonmedical factors, such as a patient's fear, a doctor's ego, or a family's unresolved issues," he says. "Face the fear, set ego aside, and address the problems–that creates a space in which to ask the hard questions, listen to each other with respect, weigh options realistically, and make decisions responsibly."
Thus, the palliative treatment that Dr. Byock has developed for patients facing the end of their lives includes elements of the hospice care it grew from. "Our first priority is to alleviate suffering," he says. But palliative care also means "being honest with patients about their illness, treatment options, and life expectancy. This does not destroy hope," says Dr. Byock. "On the contrary, by communicating fully and honestly, doctors enable people to choose how they want to live their last days and focus their aspirations on things that are achievable, which is the very definition of hope.

End-of-life counseling was derided as "pulling the plug on Grandma" during recent political debates on health care reform, and its practitioners were vilified as "death panels." But the research strongly suggests otherwise. Although palliative care is a relatively new field, having been introduced to US hospitals around 20 years ago, numerous studies of critically ill people receiving hospice care (in which patient comfort is emphasized over treatment of the illness) have found that these patients live weeks or even months longer and feel better, physically and emotionally, than those who receive only conventional medical treatment. The most important study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, revealed that lung cancer patients who got palliative care in tandem with standard oncological treatment enjoyed a "significantly better quality of life and lower rates of depression," according to lead author Jennifer S. Temel, MD. What's more, those patients lived an average of 2.7 months longer.
Although patients' welfare is Dr. Byock's primary concern, the overstrained health care system would also benefit from adopting his ideas. In 2009, Medicare paid $60 billion for hospital and doctor bills during the last 2 months of patients' lives, and between 20 and 30% of those costs may have had no meaningful impact on either prolonging or improving the patients' lives. Patient-centered care, it has been estimated, would save the system between 30 and 40%, in addition to its many benefits for patients and their loved ones.
Nonetheless, although approximately 5,000 hospice programs are operating in the United States, there are only 73 palliative medicine fellowships. No hospital is eager to advertise itself as a great place to die, but Dr. Byock's high profile, busy speaking schedule, and best-selling books have helped put DHMC on the map, and a special few who have a calling for this important work find their way to him.
"People know a certain style of palliative care is being taught here," says Dr. Byock. "We respond to every facet of each individual patient's well-being. What we're doing is intended to change the world, but we're always feet on the ground, seeing the next patient."
And the concern encompasses the patient's loved ones too: "The patient experiences his death momentarily; the family lives with it permanently," Dr. Byock says. But grief doesn't have to be the family's only response. He credits this insight to his early career in emergency care. "Often people would tell me that the end of a loved one's life had actually been a time of precious value for them and their family," he says. From then on, he decided to try to give every family that opportunity to come together in support of their loved one.
That's why Dr. Byock and his palliative care team offer everything from explaining and advising on treatment options to providing psychological counseling when needed–or just a compassionate ear at any time of the day or night. They can also assist family members in negotiating nonmedical concerns, such as transferring legal obligations, and help both them and the patients gain the perspective to feel a sense of closure and say good-bye.
Dr. Byock's intensely caring, focused attention on every person he treats may seem unique, but his influence touches all DHMC doctors. His team's morning huddles include staff from every department of the hospital–oncologists, social workers, massage therapists–to ensure that everyone treating a terminal patient is aware of and sensitive to all aspects of her condition, frame of mind, and decisions.
Three months after Dr. Byock's first conversation with Dillard, her father decides to decline any further surgery for his cancer, preferring to forgo the debilitating pain so that he can savor the time he has left. But he has been going to physical therapy and attending DHMC exercise programs. His balance has improved, his strength and stamina are growing, and he feels more confident in his body. The end could be a hundred days away. Or 5 years. Or it could be tomorrow. But today – today he is doing well.
Dr. Byock and Dillard sit down for another in their series of talks. He asks her how the story of her father's life ends.
"Well, if we're lucky, an aneurysm would go, and he would die in his sleep."
"That's the pathological ending," Dr. Byock gently interrupts, "for a story in a medical journal. How does the story of your father's remarkable life end for your dad, but also for you and your sister?"
Slowly, Dillard tells him that her father has taped a "do not resuscitate" order behind a portrait of her mother on his bedroom wall–something Dr. Byock needs to know to honor his wishes. And discussing her father's death calmly and sympathetically, before the final crisis, helps Dillard start to come to terms. "He'll be okay," she says, "and so will I."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Let me tell you how funny cancer is...(and other stuff!)

Its 12:32 am

    Another cold grey day here in SE Michigan,its been a week since we have seen sustained sunshine here. Guess Fall is rapidly pulling out and old man winter is come to visit.
Photo: Guardian Cat.....
 Paladin is doing extremely well and is behaving like a boss. Yesterday,I opened the blinds in the living room so he could scope out the birds hiding in the shrubs,they were trying to stay dry from the all day rain we got on Halloween. He jumped up and was extremely animated,making chattering noises. Now before,he would be really tense and ready to growl if I touched him...but what I did was sit down and watch him...when I said his name,he jumped over and asked for a pat on his head and some sugar...impossible two weeks ago. Now I didn't open the window itself so he wasn't overwhelmed with the noises and smells. We'll have all winter to work on this issue and see if he can't find a happy medium come spring time. 
  I got some great news this week for a change.....our co-worker Justin is home today or tomorrow. He was our store's HR person and also a Naval Reservist who trained men to fight fires. Through some unholy reason,he was selected to go to Afghanistan and serve as a soldier manning a high risk security checkpoint. 
Before he left,Lori asked me to give him a cross of hers as a way of asking God to keep him safe and sane during his posting. I know he is home safe but until I get to talk with him and see for myself,I just hope he didn't see any combat or have to shoot in anger. The stress level he must have been under must have been immense. The good thing is he going to be able to come back to our store,in what position we don't know as we have a new scheduler since he left. I haven't spoken to him since he left,I know he talked to three other people but I can understand that,we have 110 employees and trying to stay in touch would be next to impossible. Just overjoyed he is home...
  The kitchen project is coming along well enough...Howard came by and applied another coat of mud to the crack and will be grouting the crack in the tile come this Monday. That will be part one of the house project,next we will be weatherproofing it before it really gets cold.
  Last Saturday saw me home and following the Wyoming-San Jose State on ESPN.com. It looked ugly as the Cowboys jumped to three 16 point leads before the Spartans came roaring back to stop Wyoming,51-44 as quarterback David Fales passed for 482 yards and 5 touchdowns and scored the winning score on a 1 yard rush with 8 seconds remaining. Leading the defense was ball hawk CB Bene Benwikere who had a interception and a fumble recovery. San Jose State is now 3-1 in Mountain West play and 4-3 overall. Today they will be at UNLV who is a surprising 3-1 and 5-3. This game is for 2nd place in the West Division and a must win for the Spartans before they come home to battle a much improved San Diego State team. 
  As for me,I will miss the game as I am going on my first social gathering since Lori's leaving. My coffee friend Sue from work is hosting a party at her house for the Michigan-Michigan State game. She is a die-hard Wolverine fan (I know,I keep trying to convince her she is rooting for the wrong team!) and she invites a ton of folks for a huge feast and to watch the game. Afterwards,if the weather allows,she is going to have a bonfire in her huge fire pit. I have to say,I am looking forward to going,even if I get there after the game. I am sure it will be a good time for everyone. 
  I was looking at my old entries...it was October of last year that we learned Lori's cancer had come back. That in six months,she would be gone. I get told all the time not to look back,not to have regret,not wonder "what if"...but its never that simple. It is what happens when you have nothing but the memories of a long struggle. I know that eventually that the good memories will come back...I look at our wedding pictures and the other signs that marked 14 years of being a couple.
  I have a friend on Facebook named Nancy Gershman,we have chatted a little but this week was a little different,she posted a interview on her website. Its part of a series called Tragicomedia in which she asks different people on how they deal with the death of a loved one and how humor plays a role.
  Its a bold idea and I grant Nancy that,its a subject I wouldn't approach and that includes if Lori was alive.
Well the interview I read was by a woman named Sandi,who calls herself "The Irreverent Widow" after her husband died of pancreatic cancer.
   What Sandi thought was humor merely comes across as crass and disrespectful. The crap about wearing sexy clothes,the grief group not having enough "good looking people",the doctor telling her husband that his wife has a nice ass...what a crock of horseshit. And that is what I wrote in my comment (I was very nice on Nancy's page but since I'm on my ground here,I can cut loose). 
 At my store,we have at two widows,a woman whose husband is very sick with kidney problems and a man who transferred from Florida to Michigan because his wife was dying and they wanted to be near family. Well his wife died four days ago....but I asked the three ladies if they saw any humor during their husband's ordeal and deaths. I shared the story on the website and they were pretty offended. I didn't tell them anything but what the interview said and I was neutral in the telling. The humor is found in the warm memories of the relationship,the days when you were lying in bed or on a blanket watching fireworks and made a joke of some little event. Small things like Derek chewing up a slipper or Lori burning a dinner so bad and I sat there telling her how good it was while my face said "what the devil is this"? 
  Watching someone you are in love with is not funny. There are some gentle moments,like drinking contrast before a MRI or watching Terrie and Melanie fuss over Lori. But there isn't anything funny at what cancer does. Sandi's idea of humor reminds me of what Chris Rock said about homelessness. He said if you see a homeless person with a funny sign,there haven't been homeless very long. 
  And that what I felt when I read her interview,she could use humor so easily,not so much as a coping mechanism,but I feel because there was a lack of a true love there...maybe they were more friends then soulmates,I don't know. I just found her to be a sorely lacking in the compassion department. Overly sensitive? Maybe....but I don't think so...
  You be the judge....here is the link to the interview.  Read it and then come here and let me know what you think. I did notice one thing about Nancy's series....the lack of comments. Not because she isn't a good a writer because she is but I think people are too taken back at some of the flippant answers that are so easy to say but maybe not easy to actually experience.
 So yesterday was Hello Kitty's birthday. She turned 39 years old and looks the same as the day she was born. I have written this many times but since there are always new readers just joining the party...Hello Kitty was pretty big in our house. Not crazy big but I always bought a Hello Kitty calender as Lori's first Christmas gift every year. I also got her one small Hello Kitty item as well...be it a pen set,a pad of paper,Christmas Tree ornament. It was one of my favorite things to give her,she would always insist on small items because she didn't want anyone to come over and see a house full of Hello Kitty.
 I spent the day at my store reminding folks that it was her birthday. It made me feel close to Lori today,she would have called me "goofy" and she would have been right.

My next entry will be on Sunday night and it will be by guest blogger Susan Smiley. I am looking forward to seeing what she has to write about this time 'round. And I am glad to say that its a much happier column then her first one.  
I worked on Halloween night this year. It was a miserable,rainy day and night. It pretty much washed out the kids in my sub from going trick or treating. I had written that many folks here had once again cut back on the displays that had been abundant that past three years. When I rolled in my sub at 8:30 pm,there wasn't a single kid out but that wasn't the case elsewhere.
  It seems like some subs are now posting signs asking that only those neighborhood kids who live there to be to go door to door. Too many churches from dangerous places (Detroit,Inkster) are loading kids up and heading to the suburbs to go trick or treating. We saw that happen three years ago and in fact we ran out of candy and Lori had to dash out for more. 
  One of my co-workers said 90% of the kids she saw were not from her neighborhood and that she ran out of candy far faster then normal. She was upset about this and said it wasn't fair to her own kids. What do you think? Would you be willing to pass out candy to a bused in group of kids?

Doing a 30 Day photo challenge this month with Andy and Kerri Appleton....we have a theme that we have to shoot a picture that best describes the word of the day. For Day One,Picture One....the word is "truth"

Photo: #photochallenge I am going to try and do a 30 day photo challenge that Andy and Kerri are doing with a different theme each day. Day 1 is for Truth. There is a lot going on in this shot.

I will post the rest of the month as I blog along. 

Shout Outs!

Barb- Thank you so much!
Andy and Kerri - What a great idea!
Gretchen Peters - Not missing your show this time!
Nancy G.- Thank you for allowing me to comment on your page
Sue - Go Blue! (for this Saturday at least)
McFly - 3 World Series in 9 years? Break up the Red Sox!
Steve and Jimmy - Thanks for not blowing us out too badly
Maren- It was nice meeting you this week.
SU2C- That was so overwhelming this week,so very touched!
Brad and Michelle- Wish you were here to see number three with me!
Bene - Have another great game!
Noel - Get that knee better,we need you #23!
Susan- Going live on Sunday!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Of home,writers and other fun stuff!

Its 3:31 pm

    Its a cold grey day here in Michigan. Yesterday we got our first snowflakes of the season. The snow season is going to be a heavy one I believe if we are getting it this early. No,we are not getting any real snow as of yet (pipe down there O mighty Queen of Snow) but its coming.
  Which is why I am happy to see that my house is finally getting fixed...Howard and his new worker came over today and worked very hard at getting the roof fixed and starting to fix the crack in the kitchen. It would have been a real disaster if it had gone unrepaired through the winter.
  Because they were coming and going,Paladin had to stay upstairs and out of the way. He was pretty miffed based on the scratching and meowing that went on. But I moved him upstairs and he was happy I opened his window.

  Well he was until he felt how cold it was,then it was all about getting on the bed with Derek's old polar fleece blanket. That is where I left him as I went back downstairs.
Howard works pretty quick and they fixed the roof and sealed the crack and put a first layer of dry wall mud down. Howard will come back out and hit it with a 2nd coat come Saturday. I will post a couple of pictures after its said and done.
   Going to be featuring two guest bloggers in the very near future,writer Rebecca Scarberry and the returning Susan Smiley who wrote a beautiful eulogy to her dog Hercules. Of course I am lagging well behind my interviews which I need to step up. Time to get to get going!
 So I am quite hooked on British writer Sarah Pinborough. She is one of the sharpest writers I have read to date and that is just her blog. I met her while surfing Twitter and had very lightly talked with her until last week when I started reading her blog and watching her win several writing awards in the United Kingdom.
She writes horror,Young Adult and hard hitting short stories. I have put her on my "Must Read" list and am keeping a sharp eye out for her books. You can discover her blog and her writing by clicking here.

 In keeping with my writer theme,local writer Mike White,who exposed Liane Spiderbaby (QT's main squeeze's plagiarism) and writes  Cashiers du Cinemart and hosts the podcast "The Projection Booth" has just launched a app for the podcast for the iPad. The app is free to download and is very highly recommended. A long time ago,Mike gifted me with a copy of his excellent zine and this is my way of saying "thank you".
The Projection Booth

To find out more about Mike White and his excellent podcast,click here.

Got some news this week from back home in San Jose. Seems like the building where the live music venue I helped booked,the EDGE,was torn down this week in downtown Palo Alto.

Man, they work fast!

This was where some of the best bands played,booked by Jacek Rosicki and later on by Jimmy Arceneaux  and myself. Jacek did so much for the San Jose music scene,having the EDGE,attempting to rescue the Club Oasis and the Ajax Lounge. Buying the old Marsugi's building and converting it to a excellent restaurant named Agenda,trusting Jimmy and me with his venues. Meeting and working with the best staff ever in Monte,Geoff,Coach,Bonz,Jimbo,Pat Bagg,Melvin,the mighty Jimi Dave and sound guru Rees. Many others also helped make the EDGE the place for the best live shows plus the dance nights were pretty popular as well.
  Its sad to see such a historical building being razed for most likely condos or maybe a expanded parking structure..but I hold on to my memories in my heart and the friendships that I still have today. One thing that I still have from the EDGE? The Jimmy Cup....that is what Lori called the huge mug I used to drink my iced coffee from in the office. I used to drink 2 of those a day during shows and was always had lots of energy. I still drink my coffee from a huge drinking cup. Just one of those things. As always,I am so grateful for Jacek and Jimmy for throwing down with me for such a great ride.
  Happy to discover that I have a chance to do another volunteer project for the Home Depot after I missed the one last week. We are going back into Detroit to work at the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial. It most likely will be doing the same thing as we did for the VFW Hall a couple of weeks ago,landscaping,painting,deep cleaning and light replacement. My two partners in crime have also volunteered so we three are going down there together again,this hopefully in the right direction!
 But speaking of volunteers,my friend Kerri and her husband Andrew took part in the AidsWalk in Los Angeles this past weekend. They walked with a team the entire 6 mile route bringing attention that AIDS is still a deadly threat and that research must go on to find a cure. Her team raised an amazing 20,000 dollars!! That is so Wicked and so very kind that they were able to do this! This is very inspiring to say the least.
  I love hearing stories like this...it's what makes going forward is all about.We have a local pizza place called Vizzy's here in Westland who has been into recognizing local folks making a difference. They put the person on their Facebook page with a background story of what they did and thank them by buying them dinner.
  The latest story was about a 8 year old boy named Buster who one day decided to sweep and clean his street up. He called his effort "Clean Your Street,One Bag a Week" because he got tired of seeing the trash on his street. Vizzy's heard about this and honored him for his volunteerism. And I am thanking Paul V. and his Vizzy's Pizza for making a difference by honoring people like Buster.
  I started a new FB group page to promote only good news,I am sick and tired of the negative energy around me. I have had more then my share and so have many of my good friends. I want some light in my life and I really am going to work hard at getting there. I know I will have my bad days and nights but I don't want them to dominate my every waking moment. I will hold on to my Lori but that is all I want to handle right now...and I have a feeling many people reading this will agree. That is why I walked away from several toxic people as of late and embraced those who really are trying to make that difference.
  Pretty amped up for this Saturday as my San Jose Spartans (2-1,3-3) are celebrating Homecoming by hosting the University of Wyoming.I admit, three weeks ago,this game had me worried at Wyoming's offense was putting up huge numbers in getting a 4-2 record,including a very close game against 25th ranked Nebraska. So when Colorado State,the same Rams squad that SJS had beaten two weeks ago,played Wyoming,I thought the Cowboys had their 5th win in the bag. Boy,can a week of hard practice make a difference (I know,a recurring theme). Not only did Colorado State win,they destroyed Wyoming,52-22. Now Wyoming is 4-3 and fighting for a potential bowl spot.

   This Spartans have a six game season...I think they need to go 5-1 to get a decent bowl bid. I don't know if they can beat Fresno State but every other team on the schedule can be had,including a suddenly subpar Navy team.  The Spartans can finish 8-4 and get a nice bowl against a BCS team this year instead of a MAC team. Bowl projections have the Spartans facing the USC Trojans in the New Mexico Bowl...love to play SC but not in the first bowl game of the season and the lowest paying one to boot. Like to see a bowl slightly closer to home against SC so that both school fans can travel to the game. Somehow I just don't see a ton of USC fans going to the Land of Enchantment.

Okay then....time to wrap this up. Thanks for reading and please feel free to share/sign up/drop a comment

If you have Twitter,add me @Jinzo_2400

Shout Outs

Barb - Thank you for the dinners
Cheryl - Thank you for the Arizona Tea
Scorpion - Thanks for reaching out to Gunny. You are a true gentleman
Gunny - Hope that leg heals ultra fast and cleanly
Ann- My thoughts and prayers are with your mother..I know she won't go easy and without a fight!
The EDGE - Thanks for letting book some awesome talent on your stage
Howard Burkeen- For your hard work and Christian soul
Daryl and Justin - Time to saddle up again!
Bene and Noel - Own the Cowboys!
Kerri,Andy and jessica - Well done!
Paladin - Thanks for a great week
Lacye- For the hug
Brad - For the Five Good Things list you post every day. One day I hope I can do that.
Frank Bella - Sorry about your father.
Robin - All hail the Queen of Snow! (Go Cuse!)
Tiffany and Aaron - Good luck in the Big D!