Archive for October, 2013

IA Le Claire 2


A few years ago, a public television station produced a show called “The Land Between Two Rivers” — a show about Iowa (between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers).  The picture above is the view from my hotel yesterday morning of the Mississippi River.  But my tale isn’t about Iowa.  My tale is about the land between the Mississippi and Ohio RiversIllinois.

I’m in Oklahoma City.  When this rotation started, I was going to drive to Wichita and work my way here for a job that starts tomorrow.  That didn’t happen.

My plans were changed.  I found myself flying to Saint Louis instead, then driving to Decatur, Illinois.  After finishing up there, I drove to Moline, Illinois for another job.  I spent the night in Le Claire, across the river, thinking I would be working in Muscatine, Iowa the next day, yesterday.  But just as I started for Muscatine, I was instead told to drive to Newburgh, Indiana.  Turned out to be a seven-hour drive through Illinois.  Newburgh is on the Ohio River.  I was tempted to stop and take a picture, but was pressed for time.  Had to get to a job.  Today I drove back to Saint Louis, also on the Mississippi (if you didn’t know).

During the last three days, I traveled on familiar highways and on new ones.  I saw the farmers out in the corn fields in their combines.  I saw orange and red trees, more than two weeks ago when I crossed from Detroit to Chicago.  Autumn has fallen on Illinois, for sure.  I ate at an awesome Chinese restaurant in Decatur and an even more awesome Japanese food restaurant in Moline.  Unfortunately, I’ve worked late hours and had big dinners, so I haven’t worked out the last three evenings.

This evening, I flew into Oklahoma City, where I’ll be spending the rest of my rotation.  Guess I’d better get to bed.  Maybe I’ll have a chance to work out some while I’m here.




Posted: October 26, 2013 in Random Thoughts
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So, I checked out the DNA website tonight after receiving another e-mail listing all the distant cousins they’ve matched me to.  I posted the above picture based on the DNA results they gave me when I first joined up with the site.  Back then, I was mostly Scandinavian, according to them.  A descendant of Vikings!

But tonight I discovered the site has a 2.0 version of my DNA ancestry, which now says I’m 85% from Great Britain and only 1% Scandinavian.  According to the Ancestry website, the average person living in Britain today is only 60% British.  How can I be, in a country of mutts, be more British than the British?

By looking at the genealogies on for the last few years, I would have thought I’d at least have a little African and German Jewish blood, but not according to the DNA site.  For these regions, my ancestry is 0%.

Now I need to reset my self-image.  I am descended from this:

holy grail



I was dreaming I was at a dinner party, talking with several coworkers and I began having a heated discussion with one of the women at the table.  She said I’d missed my skinny chance to ask her out once, and I challenged her to tell me when she’d ever given me a skinny chance….

Then I woke up.  It was 7am, but I didn’t want to get up yet.  I thought a while about the dream and my thoughts drifted to the movie Searching for a Friend at the End of the World.  I thought about who I’d want to spend my last few days with.  Of course I would want to be with my daughter, but what grown woman?  I know who I’d choose, and wondered who she’d choose.  Based on how our relationship had developed after we’d met, I figured her choice wouldn’t be me.  It was depressing to think that at the end of the world, I’d be on my own.

I fell asleep for a while.  When I woke up, it was time to get up for church, but I lay there in bed, refusing to crawl out from the covers.  When I woke up again, it was time for my daughter to get up for church, but I still lay there.  For a change, I decided I wouldn’t be waking her up.  Someone has sold her on the idea that Jesus’ story has no meaning for her life.  Lately I’ve wondered how forcing her to get up to sit in a pew and listen to something she’s closed her mind to would help her appreciate Jesus.  I hope she’ll realize one day how beautiful His message is, but for now, she’s listening to someone else.

I got ready for church and left her a note saying where I’d be.  At church, I had my usual two cups of coffee, so I was all jittery (as usual) by the time the sermon started.  This Sunday, one of the congregation talked about the importance of community.  He talked about how he’d remained part of the church community because he didn’t want to end up alone.  Sigh — didn’t really make me feel any better about being on my own, but his sermon was a good one that made me think.

Well, I went home and woke up my daughter.  We had lunch and I took her home to her mom’s.  I took a long way back to my apartment — one of the things I like doing when I’m feeling down is driving.  I watched the Chiefs game at home.  Their victory made me feel a little better.  After the game, I worked out.  And then after showering, I started watching the Denver game.  At half-time, I drove to Applebee’s and had the Fiesta Chicken Chop Salad, one of my new favorite dishes.  After dinner, I drove to the grocery store and bought a few things.  Then I returned home to finish watching the Broncos lose their game.  By bedtime, I was back to my cheerful self.

Usually, being on my own doesn’t bother me  — I’ve even arranged my life so my chances of meeting and spending time with new friends would be nil.  I’d rather deal with the occasional pang of loneliness than the recurring beat-down from rejection or even worse, never being able to tell where I stand with someone.  Relationships have caused me pain, and they’re something I just don’t want in my life right now.  I’ve written earlier, posing the question whether I was a rock and an island.  I think for the time being, I’ve become both.


Head in Hands


I remember when I was a kid spending hours reading Guinness Book of World Records.  I was inspired by the people who achieved greatness through ability and practice, reaching the pinnacle as the world’s greatest.  Sadly, the only time I hear about Guinness any more is when they’re in town to certify a world record as a huge crowd of people does something simple and silly to get into the book.  I think this is an indication of how our civilization has evolved — rugged individuals to a lazy flock of sheep.  Why work hard toward a goal when you can carry a guitar into a stadium and strum the strings when an Elvis song is playing on the loudspeakers?  I can understand feeling good about being in the crowd, screaming when the Guinness folks certified the stadium as the loudest stadium in the world — maybe that’s just it — in the past, there were winners and losers.  Winners feel good; losers feel bad.  Nowadays it’s important everyone feels good about themselves, about everything.

I don’t feel good about myself about everything.  I’m good at some things, but obviously not the best, since I’m not in the record book.  And I’m bad at some things.  I take pride in doing things well when I can, and I feel bad when I fail.  Guess I’m old-school about that.  You are always better than someone else at doing something, but there is always someone better than you.  The idea everyone needs to feel good about themselves all the time disappoints me, because I think it leads to losing touch with reality, to a false sense of entitlement.

Take this blog for example — it’s a masterpiece!  But there are better blogs.  😉


Last week, I landed in Detroit.  I worked there for two days, then moved to Owosso, then Kalamazoo.  Then, in a move that occurs often, the decision was made by my supervisor to take me away from Michigan and send me to Illinois for the rest of my work rotation.  I first worked in Wheaton, then St. Charles, and finally Chicago.  I’m spending my last night of this trip at a hotel near O’Hare airport.

I’ve worked in these areas before.  Last time I was in Detroit, it was the middle of winter, and it was snowing.  It was snowing last time I was in Kalamazoo.  i don’t remember what the weather was like the last time I was in Chicago, but I have been here in the winter several times.  I’m glad the weather’s been a little warmer on this trip.

Since July, I’ve spent so many nights on the road, after this trip, I should reach the top level of my rewards program.  Normally I would need to spend plenty more nights in my club’s hotels, but they give you a break on the number of nights needed if you stay at five of their hotel chains.  Before this trip, I’d only stayed at three.  This trip, I stayed at the other two.  The next time I go on the road, I should be at the top level.  One good thing about reaching the top tier is it’s easier to maintain that level with fewer stays.  Why do I care about being in the top tier?  Now I can reserve the cheaper rooms at hotels and get free upgrades to the nicer rooms, and I get more points as a reward for each night’s stay.  I love points!  I pay for my rooms while on vacation, using points.  The more I have, the more free nights.  Right now, I have enough points for 3 to 5 nights, but by the time I’ll be taking my next vacation, I could have up to two weeks’ worth of points.

This is when I get excited, and begin to think about all the places I’d like to go.  Before my money ran out, last spring, I’d wanted to bring my daughter here to Chicago.  Had to cancel those plans.  Maybe this spring….

In a way, I’m glad I’m here in Chicago the night before going home.  Guaranteed direct flights home — no layovers.  I’m hoping to get back home in the afternoon, so I can attend the going-away party for the guy who trained me when I started with the company nine years ago.  I went on the road with him on my very first rotation.  He was the senior guy and showed me how to maintain my company’s robots, and showed me how to take care of all the paperwork we had to fill out.  Later, he became a technical trainer, and I went to a few of his classes and watched a few of his training videos.  Well, he’s decided to move on after ten years with the company, and I’d like to help see him off and show my appreciation.