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 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!

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