Monday, October 05, 2015

Not Exactly Living the Good Life at the Moment

Welcome to you from a comfy bed in The LINQ in Las Vegas. It is mid afternoon and I have been in bed for about 18 hours. And no -- I did not find some hooker with extended stay rates!

The precursor to the trip was a challenging day Saturday. After going to the local Humane Society with my family to pick up our new puppy, I had lunch and then went into work to take care of several tasks I needed to complete before heading out of town: writing a blog post for my employer's blog, reconciling financials for September, approving time cards, doing operational planning for 2016-2017 ... Sometimes the hardest part of taking a trip is all the crap you have to do at work to allow you to go on the trip!

I got home and, since my wife was out, got to re-experience some of the real fun of having a new puppy: cleaning up pee and poop! I then had some home tasks to take care of, and began to pack, leaving myself virtually no time to sleep before my 7:30 a.m. Sunday flight.

I most often fly Southwest out of Midway airport in Chicago -- about 150 miles away -- but this trip was on American Airlines, which allowed me to take a short commuter flight to Chicago O'Hare. The five mile drive to the airport was certainly appreciated! However, I had to deal with travel on American. American has always treated me well, but because it has a charge for checking bags (which Southwest does not), many of the travelers on board bring outrageously large carry ons onto the plane. And ... American has a First Class section, and I was forced to watch those passengers being treated like royalty while I suffered in Coach with the other schlubs. I was reminded of the excellent Seinfeld episode when Jerry was in First Class and Elaine was in Coach (first four minutes of this video):

Of course, now people in Coach don't even get the crappy meal they once did many years ago.

I got into Las Vegas and checked in at The LINQ. The LINQ's former "VIP Registration" area, where we lowly Platinum members could register, is now called "Diamond Registration." I went in to register and was politely directed to the regular registration area. It looks like Caesars Entertainment continues to crap on members below Diamond status.

I had lunch with Pete P Peters at the Yard House and then went with PPP to play some poker at Harrah's. What a crappy table! One guy was running off his mouth non-stop and speaking very loudly the entire time. V blogger The Trooper sat down to play at the table and got into it with a Patriots sports fan sitting next to him. Nothing went right and I started the trip on a losing note. I also started feeling kind of sick, but I figured it was just the accumulated fatigue from the past few days.

I went to the work conference I had come for that was at Caesars Palace, then left as I was feeling terrible. I am pretty sure I got minor food poisoning from my salad at Yard House. I went to sleep at 9:00 p.m. (YES - 9:00 p.m.!) and had a terrible night consisting of many things that would be graphically gross to put in print.

So ... I have not had anything to eat or drink except water for the past 24 hours. I hope to get some dinner in a few hours, although I have no idea what  I might be able to eat. I missed a full day at my conference and hope to be able to go tomorrow.

But ... I am in Las Vegas and hope to have some fun before heading home on Friday. I just hope the ol' sea legs return quickly.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ready for Las Vegas

In less than four days I will be back in Las Vegas at The LINQ. This trip is part work related, as I will be attending the NACADA (look it up, biotches!) convention at Caesars Palace.

Speaking of work ... I am losing another member of my staff. This one hurts as it is my assistant director. What I thought would be a somewhat easy transition from her current job to a new one has been anything but that. I can't wait to get out of town for a bit and leave the job (mostly) behind me.

Although I will be spending time in educational workshops at the convention, I will still have plenty of time for some poker and miscellaneous gambooling. I trust that I will run into a friend or two ... or three ... or four. I should get into town on Sunday right at about kickoff time of the early games. If you have my phone number and want to see about meeting up, send me a text when I get in. Otherwise, a tweet should do the trick.

Till we meet again ...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Married ... with Children: A Different Kind of Existence

As I look at many of my friends and acquaintances on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, I am struck by the many different lifestyles we have. For whatever reason, many of my poker friends tend NOT to be in the same type of situation I am in: married with children. Actually, within the past couple of years, two of my three children moved out of the house but still live in town. All three kids are currently attending college (cha-ching!).

What does this mean? Well, most of my friends have heard me whine about money recently -- that it is only something conceptual to me anymore. It comes in, it goes out. If I am lucky, I catch a glimpse of it before it goes. It almost begins to lose any real meaning. Not that that is such a bad thing, perhaps?

So what happens when you have a family? Yesterday I purchased five cell phones. Five. Doesn't that sound ridiculous?

I guess that sometimes I just think of the responsibility that lies on my shoulders. Most decisions, which tend to almost always be well thought out, are made with several people and several factors in mind. It is certainly a different way to think and to live than the days of being single, which seem so long ago.

I have now been head of my department at work for the past 3 1/2 years. I think some of the people I supervise would be surprised at all that I deal with. I recently got some closure on a situation with a now former employee. Ahhh, if only my staff knew half of what went on. Some things just seem to suck the life right out of you. I sometimes struggle with keeping work stuff at work. I guess that is because when you are the person in charge, there is always some type of difficulty on the horizon.

But ... there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am leaving for a professional conference in just over a week. Destination: Las Vegas. How convenient! Funny how things work out like that sometimes.

And in the category of life always changing ... the lightning36 family looks to expand by one. Ummm ... no, it is not what you think! Readers might recall that we lost our long-time family dog, Ginger, this past summer. Mrs. lightning has been jonesing for a new dog, and today we think we found it.
Unless something unexpected happens, we will be welcoming Fredo into our home. I thought it was pretty cool that a female dog named Kay had puppies, which were then all named for characters from The Godfather.

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ruthie June

On the cusp of the anniversary of 9/11, I found myself rather introspective. The day started out with some terrible news: the boyfriend of Sandy, one of my co-workers, had a stroke and died instantly the day before. I've know Sandy for over twenty years. Despite being extremely attractive, bright and personable, she always seemed to attract "different" guys. This last boyfriend had been her steady for about three years. I recalled meeting him a couple of times at work-social events. It seemed that Sandy, after years of searching (she was divorced many years ago), had finally found "the one." They were apparently planning a future together. So sad.

I was cruising around Facebook when I came across a woman I knew back in high school: Ruthie June. Ruth was a year older than me and was, for lack of a better description, quite a package. She was cute, had a great figure, was smart and extremely funny. To top it all off, she had a funny nasal voice which just seemed to make her even more adorable.

Ruth graduated from my high school and I immediately lost track of her. I spotted her a year or a few years later and could not believe my eyes. The girl who had the long, tapered killer body was gaunt beyond belief. Upon seeing her I immediately felt like crying. She had been one of the first women I knew that appeared to have anorexia nervosa. We are talking about the late 1970's here -- a time when the disease seemed to expand among women in the United States. The death of pop singer Karen Carpenter in 1983 really brought the disease to national attention.

Anyway, I have not seen Ruthie June since that horrible day in the late 1970's. However, earlier this evening I was able to track her down on Facebook. The good news is, she has had a successful career in the medical and teaching professions and appears to have lived a good life. I felt pretty damn good seeing a picture of her that reminded me more of that beautiful girl I knew in high school and not the dangerously thin girl I saw a few years later.

As I wrote this post, the September 10 morphed into September 11. With so much sadness surrounding this day, I am glad that I found something tonight to remind me of the good part of this life -- and to remind me to not take each day for granted, for as we know, our life can change in an instant.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Ummm ... it IS September ... right?

It has been more than two weeks since I last posted in this blog -- a rather long time for me, in general. What have I been doing? What is going on in my life?

1) Work. In my profession (student services - higher education), August is the nastiest time of year due to the beginning of the academic year. Add in the fact that I am the head of my area and you open up an even more interesting bag of challenges.

2) Work. As the head of my area, I also deal with any and all personnel issues. Some significant challenges this summer and particularly in August have taken an inordinate amount of time and energy. With September beginning, however, I believe that things should clear up a bit. Since the issues are personnel related, however, I am not able to mention them in this blog. Trust me, though -- I earned my money this past month at work!

3) Family. The start of the school year has been more challenging this time around since my youngest is adapting to college (although she has already earned a semester's worth of college-level credit through dual-enrollment classes taken while in high school), my oldest is returning to college to complete the last two years of her bachelor of arts degree and my son is hoping to finish his bachelor of science degree this coming May. My wife spent a ton of extra time -- evenings and weekends -- getting the computers prepared for the school at which she works. My mother continues to struggle with heath issues, which also weigh heavily on her care giver, thundering36. But, as always, we meet challenges head on, do what we need to do, and hopefully come out okay on the other side.

I am thankful for social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, for allowing me to occasionally leave my busy, regular world and get caught up in the fun SOME people are having. While I have been dedicating myself to work, cokeboy99 has been to Las Vegas not once, but twice, Flushhdraw moved there, Koala visited there all the way from Australia, TBC added to his list of Las Vegas 86's (due to some things from the past) and some of the Las Vegas locals (I am not calling out anyone in particular here) have been embroiled in contentious interpersonal situations (how is THAT for making things sound nice!) that provided for interesting reading.

However ... I am ready to begin counting down the days until I will be in Las Vegas for a professional conference (32), and will possibly -- POSSIBLY -- find some time to get in a few poker sessions, meet up with old friends, and have a little fun.

So ... life has been busy but is starting to get a little more reasonable.  Happy I made in through one more August.


Monday, August 17, 2015

If you are up for a little fatherly reading ...

So today, aside from being a really challenging day at work, is also the 11th anniversary of my father's death. I'd like to say that it just seems like yesterday that he passed away, but the reality, at least for me, is that it seems so long ago...

I started this blog in 2006. Over the past 9+ years, I have shared stories about my dad, usually around significant times, like his birthday, the anniversary of his death and Memorial Day. I posted some of my favorite stories, including memories from going to his bowling night when I was in junior high school, my dad and cars, going drinking with my dad at a local VFW hall, my dad and the Rolling Stones, and more sobering stories like dealing with a father with dementia and watching my father die.

In a mood for some funny stuff interspersed with sad stories? Check out this link:

I hope that after I croak, my kids remember some fun stories about me.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dog Days, Part Two

This past week was one mutha of a week for me -- that is for sure. I wanted to drive to the Chicago suburbs tonight but might have to wait until early tomorrow morning since I feel listless and exhausted. These truly are the dog days of work for me in my job and with some particular situations the past few weeks. However, they will soon be over -- in about another week or so.

So aside from having a really busy and stressful week at work, luck and the life run good gods were also toying with me. For example, take Monday. Exhausted at the end of the work day, I immediately had to change clothes to make a softball game at 6:00 p.m. Whenever I have a really busy day at work I almost always suck in softball if I have a game that night. Monday didn't disappoint. I went 0-3 at bat and flubbed a play or two in the outfield. I grabbed a beer with a few guys after the game, then headed home only to get a flat tire. Unfortunately, my son apparently used my lug wrench to help a friend and never returned it. I called a towing service for some roadside help, but they were having a busy night and I had to wait almost an hour for them to get there. To top things off, I got home and found out I will have to deal with my health insurance provider over an upcoming minor surgery they say they won't cover.

Oh -- and did I mention that I started having automobile battery issues? And when I told my wife she said that she had one of her own? Geez. One week, one new tire and two new batteries. Life doesn't get any better than that, huh?

I just felt listless today and even passed up an opportunity to stop at Harrah's Joliet for some poker on the way up north. It's just one of those weeks -- what can you do?

Tomorrow thundering36 and I are going to watch the Cubs at White Sox game. thundering will be in his Cubbie blue and I will be wearing my traditional black and white. As you might know, I root for both teams although the Sox have always been my top baseball team. However, they appear to be pretty much dead in the water while the Cubs are smoking in their bid for a playoff appearance. It should be a great game as Chris Sale is scheduled to start for the Sox.

Oh -- and a quick shout out to my friends who are having a great time in Las Vegas this weekend. Alysia, Koala, Chris and Cokeboy are all playing in the Aria 1:00 p.m. tourney today. Best o' luck to them all except for the guy who busted in the first hour (ummm ... Chris)!