Bedtime Stories

I read to my kids at bedtime…  Most nights.

I’ll admit that a lot of times I’m too tired and I simply dial it in.

Tonight was one such night.

Having entertained some friends this evening, it was past our bedtimes when I decided to drop the hammer.  “KIDS GET TO BED!”  I shouted (in my mind).  You see, friends, I’m tired as hell.  I’ve been up since 5:45 this morning, running all over the place for work.  The only person who’s probably more tired than me is my wife.  She took them to the pool for an hour while I managed to grab a nap this afternoon.  Still tired.  That nap earlier?  I fell asleep with an episode of Unsolved Mysteries playing on my laptop.  The last thing I remember is hearing Robert Stack say “Before she disappeared, she was a woman with many friends and a good job…”  I blurted out something to the effect of “Many friends?  And not one of them told her about the atrocity that is her hair?”

I said I was tired.

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No, we didn’t read anything THIS exciting. Also, I love this shot from “Airplane!”

I really do love reading to my kids.  They’re 8 and 10 years-old now.  So, necessarily the books are getting more in-depth.  For the girl it’s Quantum Life: The Story of Max Planck and for the boy it’s Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.  Got to start them young…

My daughter and I just finished what has become – thanks to her willingness – a new tradition in our family.  I completed The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe with my little darling.  I had read it last year with my son.  With him I went on and read all seven Narnia books.  With her?  I’ve noticed that she’s a bit more cerebral…  Case in point: while reading a section to her the other night she stopped me mid-sentence and said “Daddy, when did Lewis die?”  “November 22, 1963, Sweetheart,” came my reply.  Yes, I do know his date of death off the top of my head.  Hint: he died the same day as JFK but it was completely overshadowed in the news.  Completely ignoring my savant-like grasp of trivia (which hurt) my daughter then proved to me that her brain operates very differently from most people.  In fact, her brain operates a lot like mine.  “Daddy, then who wrote this book?”  I explained to her that Lewis had written the book.  “But it’s so neat,” she said, “almost like it was typed.”  “Well, sweetheart, it came off a printing press.”  “Wait, Daddy, they had them then?!”  “Babe, we’ve had presses since the fifteenth century.”

When I unpackaged it with her (for I never let an opportunity to teach pass me by) we discovered together that, absent the certain knowledge that printing presses are instrumental in producing mass printings of just about every book on the planet my daughter made the logical assumption that someone must have typed each of the pages in her book.  Since Lewis wrote the book she assumed he had typed the pages in her book.  Huh.  Go figure.

For my son we’re starting another classic.  I’ve never read this one so it should be interesting for both of us.  Last night we started Dickens’ David Copperfield.  What an uplifting endeavor and a beautiful way to end a day which sees me already falling asleep by dinner.

Actual line from the first two chapters: “Please Mr. Murdstone, I pray thee, don’t beat me!”

I really miss the days of Corduroy.

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Inspired

Tonight I feel particularly inspired for several reasons.

For the past three weeks I have been inspired to visit Our Lord in Adoration more.  This is something that should require no prompting.  As a Catholic I certainly believe Him to be present in the Eucharist.  Our parish offers daily Adoration.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  That is, unless you’re me.  Yes, I have been working like a dog the past few months, putting in long and sometimes unusual hours between two jobs.  Outside of that I like to make my priorities my family, my health (in the form of working out), and rest.  It is foolish to cut God out of that equation.  I have been using the time in the car while running jobs for an increase in my prayer life.  A five hour drive to Houston, for instance, yields many rosaries prayed.

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It’s a Catholic thing…

But a few weeks ago I headed to church on a Monday night for some quiet time before the Sacrament.  I knew that a friend of mine would be there as well and was hoping for a chance to say hi.  We hadn’t properly caught up in a while.  We did get to exchange a greeting afterward.  It was what I saw while in the chapel that inspired me.  Here was a man, about my age, with young children, in the chapel, not there to see his friends but rather to lead his family in prayer.  Discipline.  That’s what it takes to be a leader like that.  I could end this by saying “he’s got it and I don’t.”  But I know I could have it too if I just committed to do what he’s doing.  It’s doesn’t just materialize.  It has to be acquired through practice.  It’s just like building a strong body.  I may have mentioned previously that this friend has that part down like nobody’s business.  It’s easy to see how he could transfer that discipline to other areas of his life.

I’ve been going every Monday for just a half-hour, bringing my copy of Sheen’s Life of Christ with me to read.  Next step: I want to start bringing my kids along too, though I’m sure they wouldn’t be nearly as quiet and reverent as his.  In time, perhaps, they will learn.  And he probably didn’t even know he was being used by God to inspire someone else to come to Him.

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Both of my friends crossed paths.  The one friend’s puppy assaulted me while I was doing an ab routine trying to get jacked like the other friend.

I also just returned from a trip to Colorado where I was inspired by another friend.  I got the opportunity to spend a good deal of time with him (we’ve known each other since college) and his teenage son.  The interaction between the two of them was so wonderful to see.  He’s a great dad and his son’s a good kid, too.  What I saw was a man filled with patience, humor, good cheer, and love for his wife and kids.  He works harder than I do yet still found the time to 1) hang out with me, 2) cart his kids around town, 3) act like a human ATM when they came at him asking for money, 4) mow his lawn, and 5) teach his son about caring for their new puppy.  On the dog front, the “puppy” is a 15 week-old St. Berdoodle.  Yep, you read that right.  The thing was one giant fluffy ball of energy.  She was only missing the brandy keg.  I thought of my own dad while watching these two (and the pup).  I returned home inspired to be more “present” to my kids and to do it with more of a smile.  I hope his kids appreciate how awesome their dad is.  And I bet he didn’t even know he was being used by God to inspire someone else to come to Him.

Finally I was inspired late last night.  While waiting at the airport in Denver for a flight that was delayed over four hours I encountered a man wearing a tank top.  I at once determined that no matter how big or defined my arms get, men should always have sleeves on their shirt.  There’s just something dignified about it.  I was inspired to good fashion.  Now I know that man definitely had no clue he was being used by God.

The Results are In

Well friends, I finished my Body for Life 12 week challenge!

Before and after pics?  Hell no!  You all know by now that I am far too insecure and emotionally fragile to subject myself to that kind of ridicule.

So here’s a description…  I started out at 197 lbs.  If you’ve never seen me, I’m 6’2″ tall with a medium frame.  After 12 weeks of eating right (6 meals a day, lots of protein, veggies, and good carbs), working out like a dog (strength training and cardio intervals), and one cheat day a week (that typically started Saturday night and lasted 36 hours) I finished at… 197 lbs.

Crazy, huh?

Well, I can say that this 197 is a whole lot different than that 197.  How do I know?  My waist, for starters.  That’s about three inches less than it was.  My entire upper body is a lot more defined than it ever was.  I can lift way more.  My arms are bigger – shoulders and chest too. Where I’m really impressed?  My legs have always been naturally muscular so I never worked them at all.  With this plan I had to work them equally.  To my surprise, even they’ve gotten bigger and more defined.

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I truly enjoyed lifting.

Where I’ve really noticed a difference is that I’m more confident in myself.  I had a conversation with a friend once and he insisted that every man should have been in at least one physical fight in his life in order to call himself a man.  About that…  I’ve never been in a fight.  And I’m too old to start that nonsense now.  I imagine myself walking into a bar and trying to start something just for fun.  I could kind of see the guy’s point.  I suppose there would be a confidence that would come from knowing that you had actually defended yourself and stood your ground.  But for me it just never happened that way.  But I think I can say that I could do it now if I had to.  Of course, there’s a certain confidence that comes from being 40 and seeing yourself transform like this and then knowing that just about everyone you’ve known your whole life transformed into… something different.  So maybe I didn’t look too great when I was a teenager or in my 20’s.  I might have had a few extra pounds.  A friend saw me recently and remarked: “Whoa man, you look great!  I remember when we met ten years ago.  I was a rail and you were flabby.”  He was drunk so he was most likely telling the truth.  He is also not a rail today.

Anyway, long story short: I am happy with my results.  I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a change.  Follow the link for the details.  You just have to be committed and want it.  As for me, I’m taking a few days off to recharge and rest and then I’m starting the next 12 weeks!

Thanks for following!

Why I Am Blessed to Teach: Three Vignettes from My Montessori Experience

Not long ago I took a job as a teacher.

That being said, I have been a teacher for well over a decade.  But, wishing to expand my portfolio and branch out, I accepted a position in a new school.  Now I can say that I have the following variety of teaching and/or administrative experience: large school, small school, co-ed, single-sex, diocesan, private-independent, mid-sized, teacher, vice principal, secondary, and elementary.  Why not toss Montessori into the mix?  It couldn’t hurt to learn a new way to teach and beside, my own children attend a Montessori school.  This could be both beneficial to my resume and fun!

That entire last paragraph could be rewritten thus:

But, having temporarily walked away from the insanity of working in “industrial” schools I had accepted my new life delivering blood samples and lab mice for a courier company.  One Sunday night the director of the school where my children are students texted to say: “Look, dude, I’m desperate.  Your daughter’s teacher quit.  I’m not entirely convinced it isn’t the girl’s fault.  Since it’s nearing the end of the year we’re scraping the barrel, pal.  Can you handle a dozen 1st-3rd grader’s?”  Also, she texted right after I had consumed a few gin and tonics so there’s that.

There is a line in Scripture that says “You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from an abundance of corn and new wine.” (Ps.4)  I don’t know who “they” are but I do believe Our Blessed Lord has infused me with a great love for teaching and for the children (and sometimes adults) I get to teach.  It’s twisted, really.  I don’t know many other people who get excited about working with children and teenagers and yet I can’t help myself.  And you know it must be real when it’s a greater love even than wine or an abundance of corn for that matter.  By the way, the New American Bible translation from 1970 sucks.

And since it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t share some of the scenes of this life with you; here now a brief sketch of this past Friday morning and my interactions with three particular students.

Student X, boy, 7 years-old

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Sure looks like a “Thunderclaw”, doesn’t he?

The morning was off to a smashing start.  One of the families had brought rabbits to school.  As in, they brought actual bunnies.  And the bunnies were to remain at school.  “We’re donating them!” the mom said lovingly.  “It’s a great way for the kids to learn about stuff and it’s very Montessori.”  Perhaps I don’t know enough about this Montessori method.  And “stuff?”  Yes, it’s a fabulous way for them to learn about reproduction.  Come to think of it, my son’s getting to be about that age.  This might be more straightforward then having “the talk” with him.  I’m getting rabbits for the house.  Anyway, one young man rushed me on my way in the door.  “Hey look!  It’s Thunderclaw!” he shouted as he tossed a black dwarf rabbit in my face.  “Ack!” I shouted in return as Thunderclaw almost took a mug full of black coffee to the face.  It’s a good thing I have the patience of a saint – St. Augustine, pre-conversion.

A little while later I found myself sitting at a table that was about two feet off the ground across from Student X.  We had just covered a lesson on honeybees.  X was diligently tracing a hexagon over and over onto a sheet of paper.  He had already composed five sentences about these insects (in cursive) and was now illustrating the hive.  Burning the heck out of a yellow colored pencil he put the pencil down momentarily in order to suck his thumb.  The teacher in me stepped aside and the dad moved in.  “Son, you don’t want to do that,” I said gently yet firmly.  “Um, yeah I do,” came his reply without glancing up.  He was still admiring his honeycomb.  “No, no you don’t.  Do you know what will happen?” I asked.  “Yeah, um, it calms me down.”  I had to fight with everything I had to stop from saying “So will a Xanax” but I managed instead “First, you answered a question I had not asked.  I asked what is likely to happen in the future.  You responded with what is happening now.”  Crickets.  “But I like it,” came X’s reply in the cutest high pitched voice.  “You’ll need braces, son.  It’ll mess your teeth up.”

I thought I had won the argument based on my stellar logic.  Unfortunately I was arguing with a kid.  “I’m already getting braces.  My dad told me so.”  Well, you can’t beat that reasoning, I suppose.  “Plus, um, plus…  Uh… Oh yeah, my orthodontist told me I was a very lucky boy and I would have to get headgear!”  “Sounds like your orthodontist is the lucky one,” I shot back.  I smiled at X and marveled at his certainty and confidence.  He, of course, picked up his pencil in the other hand because apparently he’s ambidextrous and continued his masterpiece.

Student Y, boy, 8 years-old

A short while later I had just stepped out of a tiny bathroom where I had gone to scroll through Instagram and generally catch my breath when Student Y ran up to me.  Where he came from I could not say.  The kid’s a ninja.  He’s about the size of a capuchin monkey and just about as wiry.  And I love this kid.  That’s why I almost didn’t mind when he practically pulled my 200 lb. frame down to the floor by trying to climb up my leg to tell me something.  “HEY!  Can I read to you?”  This is one of the most rewarding aspects of working with little children.  He’s just learned to read in the past year and is still inching toward a milestone they call the “reading explosion” or something like that.  I may have made that term up but the point is he’s teetering on the brink between sounding out some words and racing through a paragraph.  And he’s excited.  And he wants me to be the object of his new-found skill.

We sit on the reading carpet (invented by a Nazi, for no adult ever said “Yay! Let’s get down on the floor for this!”) and he proceeds to a thin, purple-covered book.  It’s a leveled reader.  It is not his level.  His is red.  The purples are for a different stage, like two stages above him.  But, I admire his pluck.  Go for it, kiddo.  The stories in these books all follow a phonetic theme.  Unfortunately that means they sometimes give the characters names that have never been used by real people.  This was the story of a terrier named Sollie.  Y struggles with this.  “Solo was a timid puppy.”  “No, son, not Solo, Sollie,” I correct him.  “Sally was a timid puppy,” he tries again.  “No, son, not Sally, Sollie.”  “Sully was a tim-”  “Oh for God’s sake.  Sully was the Miracle on the Hudson pilot and, you know what?  Yeah, let’s just go with Sully.”

He continues.  I come to learn that Sully was indeed a timid puppy.  His owner Shiela had to carry him around.  He wanted to be brave like his dad.  He liked to eat meat.  Except, Y read that as /mat/.  “Y,” I said gently yet firmly, “in English, when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking.”  Crickets.  “OK,” he said, “/meet/”.  Good.  This happened a few more times.  The theme here was vowel clusters.  Then Y came to this sentence.  “They went to the pier.”  He read this as /pyre/.  “Y,” I said, “that’s /peer/.”  “But did the first vowel not go walking that day?” he asked most sincerely.  “Damn English,” I thought to myself.

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When two vowels go walking, a terrier eats a toddler.

Finally Y reached the climax of the story.  “When Sollie ran down to the beach, a toddler held out her hand with some cookie pieces.  Sollie ate them.”  First, Y read that as “cookie /pi-cees/” and I did not correct him.  Second, I noticed that Y was looking most confused.  “Why would he eat them?  He must be a mean dog.”  “What are you talking about,” I asked.  It turns out Y thought Sully ate the toddler, that rat bastard.  I clarified the story for my young friend.  And then I laughed at the thought of a terrier eating a toddler who would obviously be three times his size.

Student Z, boy, 6 years-old

I have saved the best for last.  Student Z is a young man who has only recently joined our class.  He had previously been in the “younger division”.  He was starting to outgrow that classroom so I agreed (happily) to let him come over to my class.  I’m friends with his parents and he’s such an awesome kid.  When I’m at their house he’s bouncing off the walls, full of energy, typical little boy.  In school, he is studious, reserved, almost shy.  I can tell he is eager to please and to do a good job.  Z is on the cusp of getting the hang of reading.  And hats off to anyone who has ever taught another person to read.  It is NOT easy.  Sidenote: In complete seriousness, the lady who runs this school is truly gifted.  I watched her sit down with a child last week and, in the most loving and gentle way, teach that child, encourage that child, and celebrate that child’s accomplishment.  It is a gift.

Thunderclaw?!  Who named that bunny?  Crazy Horse?

I extricate myself from the reading carpet and head to a ledge that reminds me of a bar only without alcohol.  Z follows in tow holding onto one of the manipulatives we use in Montessori.  It is a wooden tray containing flash cards with three and four letter words.  Other than the wooden tray I’m not sure how this differs from other schools.  Our goal is to pull six cards and sound them out.  Then Z will write those words in his notebook.  “Z,” I say, “Let’s toss in a few four letter words!”  Then I laugh at what that sounded like to my own ears.  He was game.

First word: “puh… ahh… puh.  POP!”  He smiles broadly.  He got it.  “Great job, Z!  And that was super fast!  Let’s do another one.”

Next word: “luh… ahh… tuh.  LOT!”  Another huge smile.  “Yay!  Amazing!  Ready for the next one?”  He nods excitedly.

Third word: “juh… ahh… muh.”  Only this time I must stop him.  “Sorry, Z,” I say holding my hand up.  “Not every A sounds alike.”  He looks puzzled.  “Let’s try it again.”  I hold the card up.  “juh… ahh…”  “Nope,” I say.  “Um,” he asks, “How does this A sound?”  “I’m glad you asked, Z.”

“Juh…aeyh… muh.  Say it with me.”

And in that moment I realized I was teaching him New Jersey English.

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You gotta’ problem wid dat?  I’ll see you on Bloomfield Ave.

When his mom and dad start wondering why he’s suddenly started speaking like Joe Piscopo (or me for that matter) they need only look at my upbringing.  Garden State’s finest spreadin’ the Jerz.

Proud to be spreading my heritage in this sleepy Texas town, I turned from the bar with no booze, put the cards away, and clocked out for the day.

My work here is done.

Closing the Goal

Today I entered Week 12 of the Body for Life Challenge.

This isn’t so significant in the sense that I’ve completed a few other fitness programs/challenges in the past few years with varying degrees of success.

First there was the Insanity Max:30 Challenge.  That one focused on cardio and the goal was weight loss.  I got super skinny but still looked fat.

Then there was the Body Beast Challenge.  That one focused on heavy weight lifting and bulking up.  I packed on muscled but still looked fat.

Then there was the La Leche del Sol Challenge where I had to use a mule to take daily shots of the illegal Mexican beauty secret of the stars.  That one focused on getting ripped but only for certain cameras in precise lighting.  I finished and looked like Austrian opera singer Maria Jeritza.

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Too bad ol’ Chuck isn’t still considered a fitness icon.  Sure he’s got a “V shape” but he’s also wearing a diaper.

I was beginning to think I couldn’t win except that I did have a sense of accomplishment at finishing all of these programs.  And for a guy in my condition – no will power, loves to shovel food into his mouth, works 23 hours a day, and missing all of the DNA receptors that promote muscle building, fat loss, and scalp hair – that’s saying something.

I have a friend who patiently tried to give me training advice.  Believe me, it’s a compliment to say what I’m about to say.  He’s super ripped.  He’s also super dedicated and on a level I doubt I will ever see.  He works out every day.  He runs long distances three times a week.  When he’s not doing that he does resistance training using only his bodyweight.  We’re talking muscle-ups and hand stand push-ups.  Even if I had the will power I don’t think I could be successful like that.  I’ve come to the point of forcing myself to believe that maybe I’m just not meant to be “jacked”.

But something in me keeps persisting that I could get there given the right program before I’m dead.  And believe me if my loved ones are standing over my rotting corpse in a casket and saying “Damn he looks good” I’ll be happy with that.

So tonight I reach the final week.

I texted my buddy to tell him how excited I am and to ask for some prayers this week that I don’t give up with the finish line in sight.  I think he knows where I’m coming from.  Even for a guy like him there’s got to be some sense of how hard this is to accomplish.  I mean, even the best probably still remember a time when they were starting out when the goal seemed impossible.  Granted, for him that time was probably in infancy.  Dude, it’s called “baby fat”.  Babies are supposed to have it.  And again, I kid because I admire his dedication and the results he’s achieved and maintained.

I like to have something solid to back it up so I tell him a little statistic.  “I got the tape out and did some measurements,” I say.  “I started with 14″ biceps and tonight I’m measuring 16″.”  I honestly don’t know if that’s supposed to be impressive.  I also do not want to boast or come across as bragging.

He replied that this was bigger than his arm.  Now I know I measured wrong.  That couldn’t possibly be the case.  So I got the tape out again.  OK, this time I measured my arm at just shy of 16″.  But not much.

Holy cow!  Could it be that I might have finally found the right program?  This one (Body for Life) has been amazing.  It’s just the right mix of cardio and weight training.  My only regret as I stare in the mirror and see my transformation is that I didn’t do more.  Now I keep thinking “If I had just done 30 minutes of cardio instead of 20 on those days…” or “I could have lifted heavier and pushed myself more…”  “I would like him to see my gains (and losses),” I think to myself, so I put on the tightest white tee shirt and head over to church where he’s doing a Holy Hour.  This oughtta’ be fun.

We catch up afterwards in the parking lot.  In a way that only one guy can say to another, he compliments me.  “Dude, your calves were already bigger than mine.  Now you gotta’ have bigger arms too?!”  Believe me, my friend, you are definitely the motivation.  Still not sure my arms are any bigger than his (and sort of still feel like they’re not much bigger than when I started) but there’s a whole lot more definition, that’s for sure, and not just my arms either.

I’m happy with this.  Happy where I am.  Do I want way more?  Yeah.  I’m never satisfied with my results and I’m always harsher on myself than anyone else ever would be.

Will I do another 12 weeks?  Well, either that or 12 weeks of something else.

I’ll just keep collecting challenge tee shirts every three months until I finally reach my goal.

Then I’ll finally be able to say that I did it.

Until then, keep the prayers coming.  I’ve still got a week to go.

And take it from me, La Leche del Sol is crap.

Closing In on the Goal

It’s raining.  It’s raining pretty hard.

I like the rain normally.  But…

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Sometimes when I train I wear a diaper as well.  If only Charles Atlas was still the standard of male jacked-ness.  I think I’d stand a chance.

The only thing about the rain I don’t like tonight is that it kept me from doing my cardio workout.  I lack a treadmill or elliptical machine so I either go for a run or do 25 minutes of jump rope in my driveway.  Driveway’s flooded and the streets are a mess.  Since I’m only four weeks out from recording my final results in the Body for Life Challenge that just means I’ll do the cardio first thing in the morning and then a lower body workout (leg day) in the afternoon.  If you read this, say a prayer for me please.  I’ve never been this close before to achieving a goal I really wanted this badly.  For eight weeks now I’ve put in the hardest physical work of my life.  I followed a really good diet to an almost-micro level.  I did every set, every rep, every major muscle group at the appointed time.  When it was cold in my garage and the steel plates were hard to grip, I gripped ’em.  When it warmed up and I put the garage door up to let in a breeze and I wound up giving my neighbors a show as I pumped iron without a shirt on, I, well wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, I swatted mosquitos trying to suck the blood out of my near-bulging veins.  When the idea of hitting the pavement to run 20 minute intense intervals sounded like a death march, I forced myself to go faster and faster hoping that this would actually start burning fat.

I’m 40 years-old and in phenomenal health for a man half my age (if I do say so myself).  But there’s something about being able to visualize those results…  You know what I’m saying.  My body fat percentage is dropping but not fast enough for me.  I’ve gained 7 pounds of muscle since I started and that’s great but not good enough for me.  I’m finally starting to see the kind of definition that would turn heads and that’s awesome but not good enough for me.  My former-one time-actually never in reality trainer who remains an acquaintance of mine despite the way I’ve abused him in print over the years told me yesterday that with this particular program the results from the last four weeks are expected to be as good as for the first eight weeks.  “You’ve no doubt gotten a lot stronger now and can force more out of yourself.  Lift heavier because you can!  Run faster, jump rope more intensely.  You can either quit now and be happy or you can double down and be really happy.”  It was cool to hear him say that he really believed I could do it.  But if that’s the case and I stick with it (as I fully intend to) I should be a chiseled man in a month.  As shallow as it sounds but for the reasons mentioned above, pray for this.  I’d like to be happy with my appearance once in my life.  And if not, well, they say it’s good to possess good health.  Yeah.  Great.  Whatever.  I want to be ripped.

Good night, folks.

Diary of a Hotshot Medical Courier

I am slowly getting back to finding the time to record my life for both of you to read.

I’ll start easy…

Tonight it rained.  Rain is great.  Except when your night job is picking up large boxes containing human specimens and you have to cart them to your car and then to the airport.  Then, rain sucks.

What kind of specimens, you ask?

Well…  The kind of work I do is referred to in the world of logistics as “hot shot courier” service.  Basically, a company or an individual needs something shipped yesterday.  They call one of about fifty companies who are clients of my boss.  My boss’ company is a small operation consisting of herself and four drivers.  She takes the orders from the client company.  Their conversations go something like this.

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In olden days, couriers came in packs of four and wore nifty motoring caps.

“Can you get someone out to X location for a pickup by 1600?”  That’s 4 PM.  For some reason in logistics we always use military time.

“Let me check what drivers I have available.”  She then calls me, for instance.  “Do you think you could be to X location in the next 25 minutes?  They have a pickup.  It’s ready now and it’s 3 boxes at 45 lbs. total”

To which I respond “I’m good to go,” as I grab a quick snack and a bottle of water, my binder containing all of my TSA forms and partially filled out airway bills, and double-check that the hand truck is in the back of the car.

I then race to the location, pick up the packages, and call it back in to her so she knows I’ve got them and this can be tracked.  Along the way she will have given me flight information.  Why’s that?  Well, my next step is to race them off to the airport (in this case a HUGE international airport with many cargo facilities) and “tender” the packages, making sure they get on the appropriate flights without a hitch.  The boxes generally contain human blood samples and the like and are almost always packed in dry ice.  That last bit means that the packages cannot be x-rayed so I had to pass a background check establishing me as a “known shipper”.  I also have to be able to quickly convert kilos to pounds as the dry ice is measured one way and the total weight another.  If an animal is already booked for travel on that flight he or she takes priority.  Animals and dry ice cannot both occupy the cargo hold as one isn’t making it out alive.  Hint: it’s not the ice.

Anyway, all of this is both fun and exciting.  I truly enjoy making these deliveries happen.  Sometimes it’s a delivery in reverse of the above where I pick something up at the airport and deliver it to a client.  Sometimes I get to drive long distances like up into Oklahoma or down to San Antonio.  Those jobs pay very well.  I like the mental challenge of placing myself in different places at different times in order to complete the job when needed.  I never realized how good of a logistical planner I was until I started doing this.  But then again, I could see it clearly during my day job when I noticed one day last week that I was simultaneously cognizant of 12 children between the ages of 7 and 8 who were all doing different tasks in different parts of the classroom and who all seemed to need my help at the same time.  I got this.

So the rain…  Yeah, carting these packages around in the rain is not as much fun as you’d think.  The boxes get wet, the paperwork gets wet, I get wet.

But we need the rain so I’m not complaining.

 

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.