Sunday, December 29, 2013

Almost five months in...

I started my new job at the beginning of August. Overall, it has been great. Something I noticed after I'd been in the new job for a while was that my Sunday night depression went away. For a long time, I'd noticed how I got down in the dumps practically every Sunday evening--but that was when I was in the old job.

I did good work in the old job, but I was dealing with one person in particular who... well, let's just say I could count on no support from one important quarter. I realized, in hindsight, that I was feeling down because I had to head back to a job I didn't like anymore. Happily, the new job is good, and I am happy to be working there.

So since the new job, I feel fine on Sunday. As I sit here and type this, I'm content. Granted, a day of work isn't as much fun as a day of leisure, but it's good work with good people.

The change was good! I'm glad it happened!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A weekend without things we have to do? Wow, that's a treat!

I sit here on the eve of a free weekend, and it's almost too much to believe. I always feel like I'm not one of the cool kids (and I'm not). Not the kind of person with a busy social life, or at least I've always thought. Still, it has been a long time since we last had a weekend with nothing planned. No commitments to go anywhere or do anything.

I do have to go to the dry cleaner, and we have plenty of chores to do here in the house. But there are no parties to attend, no shows to see, no work events to go to. I might even get to sleep late tomorrow!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Truly honored

Almost ten years ago, I learned that a friend played rugby for a gay rugby team called the Gotham Knights. The "gay" rugby team really is an inclusive team, open to all, but the main idea was to have a place for gay athletes to be accepted.

I started out taking photos of matches, and over the years we've made many new friends through the team, any number of whom are friends of ours to this day. We've even traveled with Gotham to tournaments as far away as England and Ireland. Still, neither of us ever played. If I'd ever considered playing, it would have been at a younger age than when we first joined Gotham. Even so, the team came to consider us part of the family, and they said quite clearly that I'm a full member of the team a long time ago.

Fast forward to this fall. I was talking to a friend from the team, and I suggested that he run for team president. He said he'd been talking to another dedicated member of the team and was going to support him for president. Then he proposed something I hadn't even considered: "If I were to nominate you for the Board, would you accept?"

I know these volunteer positions can be a lot of work, so I asked him to give me a couple of days to think about it. In the end, my love for the team won out over the possibly-thankless work. Still, there was an election, and more people were running than there were seats available. I felt like there was an excellent chance that I, as a non-player, would get blown out of the water. After all, these things can be popularity contests. Well, I should have given my teammates more credit!

The election results came in. Guess who won? And then we had the first Board meeting. We're all elected as at-large Board members, and then the Board works out who will fill what particular role.

My role? Chairman of the Board. Me? Chairman of the Board of the Gotham Knights Rugby Football Club? I'm so honored and, frankly, blown away that my rugby mates have put such trust in me. I won't let them down!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The was amazing!

Amazing stuff today. When Dodger found me on the street in Brooklyn, 12 years & 1 week ago, I was standing there with my boss, Raquel. Raquel and I haven't worked together in years, but I've seen her now and then. Dodger, on the other paw, hasn't seen her at all since that day.

That day, September 28, 2001, was a momentous day in Dodger's life. He went from struggling to survive on the street to having a safe place to stay, food in his bowl (even having a bowl!), and people who care about him. Still, he met Raquel for maybe 5 minutes and hasn't seen her since, a lifetime ago.

Today, Raquel came over to the house. And Dodger remembered her. It was clear. He reacted to her like he reacts to no new guests. It was amazing! I guess it's one of those amazing dog things--maybe her scent reminded him of that day. Whatever the case... it's like an 80-year-old remembering a one-time, brief encounter from when he was 5. Wild!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Here we go again!

I try not to complain about work. What's the point? We all have our headaches and challenges. But if you're wondering about the title of this post, it refers to something I've been through once or twice before in my career.

My job is soon going to disappear. It's a long story, but after over 6 years with this hospital network, they've decided they need to do cutbacks and they can live without me. I was just promoted from my hospital VP job to a corporate position a few months ago. At the time, I knew that might not be good. They have a well-known history of moving people to corporate and then moving them out. In my case, the position was brand new. So when they decided to make cuts (because they're losing huge amounts of money), I figured this was a major risk. "We didn't have that job before this year. Do we really need it now?"

So I have a couple of weeks left, and then off I go. Knowing it's coming, I've been reaching out to contacts and floating my resume for jobs that look interesting. I have one place that actually looks like a good place to work with a job I'd enjoy. I've been through a telephone interview and an in-person interview by a panel of five management people from that organization. It seemed to go well, and I hear I'll make it to the next round. But I also have no idea how many other candidates are going to that round, too, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

So maybe I won't be unemployed for long, or maybe this will go on for a while. But this is why Marc and I are careful with our money. Yes, we have our trips and enjoy various fun things, but before we get to such "disposable income" things, we set aside money for savings, make extra payments on our mortgage, etc.  Friends may think we spend all we get, because we try to splurge on friends (like the barbecue we're doing for our Gotham rugby mates this weekend), but we actually are pretty careful. So if I'm out for a while, we'll cut spending and be even more careful, and we should be okay for a while!

With that said... think good thoughts for me!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Skidding in sideways...

There's a saying that life isn't about finishing in a well-preserved body. Rather, the smart way is to go skidding into the grave sideways, thoroughly worn out and finishing with the thought, "wow, what a ride!"

That's a wise view. When we were at my alma mater for my 25-year reunion (and where did those years go?!) a few weeks ago, our last event was a lovely brunch on Sunday morning. We sat with two older couples. They were from the class of 1958, so 55 years past their graduation.

These people were busy, engaged in current events, active (they were talking about going kayaking) and seemed to be living life to the fullest. They really were inspiring. No one can say how long anybody's stay here on Earth will last, but these people were a reminder that age is just a number. If you have good health, then the rest is up to you. Live your life! Enjoy the days you have, and at the end skid in sideways, exhausted and marveling at what a ride you had!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Internal clocks

I know people who can wake up at a certain time without an alarm. I've seen all kinds of excellent grasps on time that didn't require a timepiece. But what really amazes me is how a dog--Dodger, in this instance--without cues that I can see, is able to tell time with pretty good precision.

He will ask for certain things to happen at the same time every day. A few minutes ago, he went over to Marc and made clear he wanted something. Marc and Dodger can go through a question-and-answer thing where Marc will ask if he wants things and he'll bark when Marc gets to the right one.

Marc was starting the question session, but then Marc turned to me and asked, "what time is it?" I told him it was 9:09. At that, Marc knew Dodger was ready for his treats. Dodger calls for biscuits at 9:0something every night. Most nights, the demand hits at 9:03 or 9:04, but it can vary a few minutes.

How can he tell? Nothing else he does is anywhere close to this time, so he's not judging one off the other. And we don't watch the same shows each night. In fact, lots of nights, we don't even watch TV, and tonight we'd put in a DVD.

We make a mistake when we underestimate the skills and intelligence of non-human animals. Dodger reminds me of that often enough!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A new hobby

If you know me at all, you know that I love photography. In fact, I've loved it since I was a little boy, and I continue to consider it my main avocation.

But recently, I've felt the itch to try something new. I love music. I can't sing to save my life, but I love music. In school, I played the alto saxophone, but that was long ago. More to the point, I don't want to try that again. Instead, I got the idea that I might like to learn how to play guitar. That's why the item you see below (at least I think it's below--I'm doing this from the iPad app, and I'm not certain where the photo will appear) is on my desk at work. I know, that's not a guitar. Just as well, since I doubt playing the guitar at work would be considered productive.

No, that's a device to exercise my fingers when I'm on calls or doing something else that would leave my hands free. It seems one must press down rather firmly on guitar strings to make chords sound right. They have to be pressed all the way to the neck of the guitar and contact the wood. Believe it or not, it's not as easy as it sounds. So I'm doing finger exercises.

Other challenges include pressing one string without touching the one next to it. Again, unless you have skinny fingers, this isn't easy! Also, it seems I need to develop calluses on my fingertips. Soft fingertips don't work too well for guitar playing.

I just started, so I have lots to learn, but I'm trying! At some point, I'll need to take lessons from someone. In the meantime, I'm trying to learn some basics. Hey, it keeps me off the streets at night! ;-)

Such a bad blogger!

I keep telling people that blogging is a superior format, at least in terms of quality, to things like Facebook. Blogging allows for the recording of more thoughts and a far easier way to look back and review life events.

With that said, I intend to make a real effort at being a better blogger. I do enjoy my blog, and I need to share more!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

More snowstorm photos

So let's go to the morning after the storm. Having been out in the Explorer the night before somewhat limited the amount of snow built up on it...

Well, the clean windshield is because I'd used the remote start before I walked outside. That let it warm up some, so the snow could be pushed off easily.

I usually clean the walks in front of our house and our neighbors' houses, but a neighbor down the street did the first pass with a large snowblower he has. I still had plenty of work to do, but that first pass helped! This is after I'd done more work...

Then I had to clear the way to the front steps...

See someone supervising the operation? Here's a closer look...

Our street was a mess, but everyone was out, cleaning around their homes. The plows got around to the street later!

The main street got cleaned sooner, fortunately...

I guess that's it! I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Some storm photos

I took some photos during and after our recent snowstorm. I thought you'd like to see a few. First, I'll post a few from when the storm was first starting...

That's what it looked like on my drive home. Yes, I took a photo while driving! I had the DSLR on the seat next to me and picked it up to snap a quick shot through the windshield at a relatively calm moment.

Later, after I got home, Marc and I went back out to do a little shopping before things got really bad. We cut through Eisenhower Park on the way back...

It was getting a little messy. The snow was even starting to stick to the signs...

After we were back home, we watched the storm's progress. It picked up slowly, but by late evening, we already could see more coming down...

That's in the back yard.

But business must go on...

It may be easier to tell the rate of snowfall from the evidence left on someone after his quick visit to the yard...

That's it for now!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Weighty matters

I got a recent reminder that I haven't posted in a long time. So let me get things back on track and share an interesting development.

I've battled my weight for most of my life. I'd lost a lot before I met Marc, and this poor saint I married is stuck with a fat guy now. Luckily for me, he loves me, and it seems to go beyond my appearance! Still, for him--and for my health and personal happiness--I continue to try to lose weight.

I'd have my bad days, of course, but I'd also have lots of good days. On those good days, I'd stay below about 1,950 calories. I got that number from an online site, where I'd entered my height, weight, age, body type and activity level. Of course, that's a guess at best.

Fast forward to last Monday. I went for my annual physical with a new internist. One of the things she offered was a test, using a machine called the ReeVue Indirect Calorimeter. I spent about 10 or 12 minutes breathing into a tube, while the machine made its measurements. I gather it's watching how much CO2 I produce, but that's just a guess. In any case, it gave a reading of how many calories I burned just sitting there, as well as giving eating ranges for maintaining weight or losing weight. It also said what level I shouldn't go below.

That's what was really interesting. The machine said I shouldn't eat less than 2,167 calories a day. The doctor explained that eating below that level would cause my metabolism to slow down, so my dieting would be self-defeating. I might lose but only slowly, and so I'd be certain to get frustrated and stop trying. So I learned that my efforts--and yes, this fat guy really can buckle down and be disciplined--were for naught.

The doctor and her machine said that my proper weight loss range would be a daily total between 2,167 and 2,707 calories. Seriously, doc? That seems almost too good to be true. But who am I to argue? So I picked a number about mid-range. I set my daily target at 2,450 calories. Could this possibly work?

It's a week later, and I'm four pounds lighter. Well, what do you know about that? I guess I'll keep trying!