When At My Worst


I know the blog has been a bit quiet recently, but there’s an excuse to be made for it.  Had a hard week last week.  Not in a ‘hard week’ like I tried to overcome some great life challenge.  In fact, some of you will probably laugh at me to call my week ‘hard’ to begin with.

Heck, all I really had to do was get over the common cold.

But it was a summer cold.  Summer colds suck!

I should know, I am a bit of a summer cold expert.  I get summer colds nearly every year — ironically right around the end of Drum Corps season, as if a call back to those days when I left months on the road in the hot sun to finally get some down time and get walloped by civilian life.  In a year when I swear everyone I knew took some time off for one cold or another since the start of the year, I made it pretty clean right up until last week.  Then got beat around good.

It wasn’t an easy week of work either.  I’m not shy about my high count of supplier audit’s I’ve performed this year.  In my 13th as an auditor – I am on pace to break my old record for audits in a calendar year.  My record (which I achieved twice) is 45, and by the end of July (only 7 months in) I will have performed 41 audits.  Last week was an extra double doozy.  Five audits performed last week.

That includes two … count them … two trips to San Jose; hours of driving around LA; all these audits in cleanroom gowns that are incredibly uncomfortable when you are sweating out diseases; and I can even claim last week includes the first time I called in sick to work since the early 2010s.  It was going to be a brutally busy week anyway; and the cold just compounded it.

What gets interesting to me is a skill set that I somehow picked up to manage myself in those conditions.  In a way, it feels like I compartmentalize my thinking.  Most the time, I am multi tasking – allowing my thoughts to shift with the wind, and analyzing multiple things at any given time.  It’s not that I am unfocused, I’m more soft focused – able to see the forest, as well as the trees that make the forest.  As a cold wraps around my brain, I don’t seem to be able to do that as easily — so I lock in on one thing at a time.  During my 4th audit of the week, I found myself in that condition; and standing off to the side while my colleagues were asking a series of questions on a process – I locked in on a situation.  To be honest, whatever my colleagues were asking about I had to ask them to repeat later so I could catch up; but when I compartmentalized, I caught some issues that raised some flags – and will eventually lead to some strong improvements at that supplier.

Not to break my arm patting myself on the back, it’s these kinds of situations that leave me saying “when I am at my worst, I am at my best”.  I started saying that back when I used to teach drum corps; and the days when I was the most effective instructor were days I was a little under the weather (read as:  “hungover”).

Maybe that’s why it takes a fair bit for me to call in sick.  Maybe I just have this false sense of being able to work through whatever illness I have.

Or I could be just stupid … I’m going with stupid.


Need to Work on My Staycations


I need to work on my Stay-Cation skills; this one had some room for improvement.

Since starting at JPL, I hadn’t taken much time off … especially this calendar year.  With the 4th of July landing on a Wednesday, and our bi-weekly off Friday, I had the opportunity to put in for 3 days of vacation, and go 9 days without work.  It used to be that a chance like that meant I would go somewhere and do something.  I walked into this run with one intention … to not do anything.

Honestly, I wanted to enjoy just being home.  That included meeting up with my friends here & there, getting in a lot of World Cup Soccer, cleaning up the yard, being lazy, and more than anything – not spend money.  You know, just let the savings grow while not getting thrown all over the country.

If you saw the post earlier this week, the pup changed my plans .. mostly in the ‘not spend  money’. What is now diagnosed as a degenerative minerialization (aka bone chip) in his front shoulder; he spent a drug induced lazy week of recovery under my watchful eye.  Six days into his recovery, and I can report he is doing pretty well.  Last Sunday, he suffered in pain so badly that he wouldn’t stand up.  Today, he almost never limps, and seems to not have any worries about putting weight on his paws.  He’s still recovering, and should be for a couple more weeks, but things are going pretty good for now.

Watching over the pup made being lazy pretty easy.  The pup slept in his kennel nearly 24/7, stepping out to do his business now and then.  The soccer was good, so it was easy to sit at home and watch him.  Then the weather lent a hand.

We had a freaky heat spell come through this weekend.  The night of the 4th was near perfect; it creeped into the 80s during the day but hovered in the 70s for most the night.  Thursday was no different.  Then someone turned on the heat.  Like, literally it was a switch.  By Thursday night, the 80s were heading upward even after the sun went down.  By 6am Friday morning, it was in the 90s already.  By 10am, it broke 100.  High on Friday was 115 Degrees …. 115!!!!  With the Wednesday low of 65; that means temps were up 50 degrees in 48 hours.

So, that was all the excuse I needed to not get up.  I mean, I still got together a few times with friends – including reciting our favorite line from Jurassic Park 3 until that dead horse  was eaten by talking velociraptor (“Alan”).

But that’s a Staycation for you.  It’s nothing more than a reason to get away from the usual routine of your life.  That and remember why you need the routine.  I got way too lazy this week.


Pupdate: Moved to the DL for Rehab


I decided to spend the week of Independence Day off of work to rest, relax, watch some soccer, and possibly clean the house.  Auggie the Doggie made me change my plans … not on purpose mind you, but it’s all his fault.

The pup is now on the disabled list, set for drugs & rest.  He has some degeneration in his shoulder leaving a bone chip to dislodge and cause him some significant pain.  Diagnosis is pain meds to see if it works itself out or heals itself over the next two weeks – and if it doesn’t they may need to go scope it out.

This likely was something that has been coming, but only recently did it become a problem.  In fact, it came on pretty fast.

Friday night, while playing around, I noticed he yelped a bit more than normal when I fist bumped his right paw.  Saturday morning, he had a limp.  That right paw specifically was giving him problems.  I told him to rub some dirt in it and he’d feel better.  He just stared blankly.  Sunday that limp got worse, and it looked as though something was hurt in his paw.  He could barely put any weight on it, and complained everytime I touched it.  I promised him we would go to the vet on Monday, though that made him just stare blankly at me … but that night things seemed to get a little more worry some.   See, he eats standing up.  He drinks water standing up.  He even does his business, surprisingly, standing up.  He didn’t want to stand, because it clearly hurt him tons to do that.   He could move around generally, but … just didn’t want to.  Worried, I spent Sunday night feeding him by hand, or putting water next to his snout.  He wasn’t in life threatening shape or anything, but it was clear things weren’t right in his world .. which you can guess meant there wasn’t much right with my world.

Monday came, and he looked better, but more like got a good night of sleep and tried to hide the pain better.  We got an appointment at the vet.  A few x-rays, some reviews, and the diagnosis came in.

The plan right now is to keep him drugged up for the next 5 days, and possibly up to 2 or 3 weeks.  If his condition improves, we’ll back off the pain meds to see if it’s healed up.  If it doesn’t, then we start talking surgery.

Part of the problem, though, is he can hide the pain pretty well.  Stoic, strong breeds like him will try to muscle through the pain … until it gets too much.  I am spotting it pretty well, but right now it’s at a heartbreaking level.

But then again, he’s a tough dog.  He’s put up with me for nearly 6 years, he has to be tough.

I’m of course dealing with it differently.  First of all, I am using this as an excuse to may my staycation extra lazy … I won’t miss a single World Cup soccer match thanks to him.  I don’t even have to leave my couch to watch him during this time.  Pain pills means having some way to make sure he will eat the pain pills — so there’s tons of cheese in the house (way more than is needed for the pills, so that’s one in my win column).  I am sleeping pretty well at night, because I don’t get the 2am wake-up call that comes when someone sniffs a raccoon in our yard and has to bark excessively at it.  I may even be able to clean the house without paw prints … if I get off the couch.  Then again, it’s probably better that I stay at home; because rehab-ing a dog is frickin’ expensive.  I mean, you can’t buy love but keeping it around breaks the bank.

Then again, you could just say I am dealing with the heartache of the situation with humor and sarcasm … yeah, you could say that if you wanna be a jerk.

That’s the way we are spending our time off, being jerks.  Here’s hoping, however, that this is in fact temporary; that this heals and he returns to his usual annoying, farting, self.