Monday, April 10 – Thursday, April 13

At least I’m finding some gym time

This was supposed to be a semi-vacation week for me, but naturally enough things didn’t work out quite as planned. They never do. Instead of having the week off from my regular job, I only had Wednesday and Thursday off. On Monday and Tuesday I had to go in to make up for the snow days from the Storm of the Century (all two inches of it) in March. At least I had two days off, which is better than nothing, and in truth Monday and Tuesday were not bad days by any means.

As for the Major Home Improvement Retailer, I had 6 to 10 shifts on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Tuesday wasn’t bad, but Thursday featured a whole lot more of heavy freight work than I would have liked. This week including Saturday and Sunday is “only” 24.75 hours, I’ll be doing 28 hours in each of the following three weeks. That’s almost more than I can bear. I’m going to have to speak to the store manager and see if somehow she can reduce my hours. Of course I tried that last spring, and it went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

Even with my schedule the way it is I worked in gym visits on Monday and Wednesday. Monday I did some bench pressing, getting a total of 17 reps at 225 (no, not in the same set, I can only wish). Wednesday was back work, mostly machine-based. I’ve figured out that keeping a regular gym schedule is the best way of coping with the avalanche of MHIR hours. I can’t let work dominate my life.

Published in: on April 17, 2017 at 2:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, March 18 – Sunday, April 9

Fun and games will be ending soon

One disadvantage of the Major Home Improvement Retailer’s 3-week-ahead scheduling system is that it’s become harder to live in a fool’s paradise. If I’m in a spell of reasonable schedules, 16 hours a week or thereabouts, but can see that in a few weeks I’ll be bombarded with 24 to 28 hours a week, I cannot enjoy the leisurely present. Of course, in that I’ve been working at the slave galley, er, store for over three years by all rights I should be well aware that spring is a brutal season.

After working more or less reasonable hours, with most 4-hour weekend shifts, I was able to see that I’d be up to 23 hours for the week beginning March 20, would have a 16-hour reprieve for the week of March 27, and then would be slammed with 26.25 hours (!!) on the week of April 3. Ugh. Double ugh. Yes, the fact that I’m writing this on April 10 mean that I did survive, but barely. There were a few shifts during this spell when I was barely able to function. Thankfully, my main job has been reasonably non-hectic, only once during this time period did I have to stay past normal quitting time and then for only a half hour. Also, which I guess is another benefit, I seem to be coping okay with the hard physical labor that working at the MHIR so often entails.

As for stuff that’s more fun, I made another trip to the range with my Maverick 88 shotgun and this time fired off some slugs. I used the 3-inch magnum Foster style slugs, and while the recoil is very hard it was most satisfying to see the big holes those monster projectiles punched through the targets. If I were using them out in the field rather than on a range I’d be able to feast on moose burgers. As I noted about my last range trip, there’s something fun in a primitive sense about using a hard-recoiling loud gun. In fact when I fired my first slug the noise scared the daylights out of two teenagers who were getting shooting lessons at the next bench. It sure wasn’t like the modest “crack” of the .223’s most other shooters were using.

I’ve also tried to keep a semi-regular gym schedule, though what with all the work at the MHIR it takes some doing. I’ve really gotten into dip and have resumed deadlifts after too long away, though the weights are still modest. What I figure is that if I can manage three sessions a week, which should be do-able, I’ll be able to at least hold steady until my busy work schedule eases up and I can go more often.  Hopefully.



Published in: on April 11, 2017 at 1:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 13 – Friday, March 17

Other peoples’ panic was my gain

What with the dire weather forecasts sending everyone into a panic (as you may have guessed, I’m always on the skeptical side), I found out very early Monday morning that my regular job was cancelled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, though I’d be working Friday which isn’t usually the case. Exactly why the Powers That Be decided to cancel for Monday was a mystery. Snow wasn’t forecast to begin until late Monday or the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday. But hey, I took advantage of the weather panic and went off to the range with my new Maverick 88 shotgun. On the way there I stopped at Wal-Mart for ammunition. I picked up 100 rounds of standard shells, 2 3/4 inches, #7.5 birdshot, and 25 rounds of 3″ magnum shells, #2 steel waterfowl shot.

When I got to the range I realized that I had forgotten to get any ear plugs, and the trailer that sells ammo and supplies wasn’t open. My solution? Let’s just say that duct tape is highly useful 🙂 As for the shotgun, it performed admirably well. It cycled easily and I had no trouble with shells failing to feed or extract.  I fired off 50 of the standard shells and all 25 of the magnums. It was cold out, I was wearing a thick sweater and a fleece jacket, but all that padding came in quite handy when I fired the magnums. According to an online recoil calculator I found later, the shells produced about the same recoil energy as a .375 H&H magnum rifle, which is literally an elephant gun. Compared to them the standard shells felt like nothing, even though they’re equivalent in recoil to a high-powered hunting rifle such as a .300 Winchester magnum. I actually like strong recoil, it sounds strange but somehow it makes the shooting experience more authentic. Next time I bring the Maverick to the range I’ll try some slugs.

Oh, the dreaded snowstorm? It naturally turned out to be much ado about almost nothing. While areas farther to the west got some substantial snowfalls, we got just a few inches, definitely not enough to bother about. I enjoyed my days off, especially as I didn’t even have to shovel. I’m not going to be so boastful as to claim I predicted the storm would be meaningless, but suffice to say I didn’t share in the panic, for which I’m rather proud. Wednesday evening I had a 4-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, and it was basically as dead as a doornail (an expression I’ve never quite understood).

However easy Wednesday’s MHIR shift might have been, my main job was most assuredly not easy on Thursday and Friday. The latest work cycle is an utterly brutal one, really a case of more work than anyone can hope to accomplish in the allotted time. Even with taking only minimal lunch breaks and staying over an hour late each day there was much I simply couldn’t do. That’s not a big deal, as it can be done some other time, but I really don’t like it when I have to leave some tasks undone. But I did my best, guess that’s all that really matters.

Published in: on March 27, 2017 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, March 10 – Sunday, March 12

I had a pretty decent day off on Friday, didn’t do much but that’s fine by me. Saturday, now that was a more interesting day. There was a gun show being held not far away, the same semi-annual show at which I bought my vintage Mauser rifle six months ago. Initially this looked like bad timing, as I was scheduled to work full shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer both days. What was I supposed to do? Call in sick on Saturday, that’s it. Guilty about doing so? Not in a million years!

I arrived at the very crowded show looking to buy something, but without anything specific in mind. Whatever caught my fancy, in other words. One dealer had a very cool-looking Benelli Nova 12-gauge in camo for $400, I was all set to buy it, unfortunately they didn’t take credit cards. So much for that. Another dealer had a Remington 860 shotgun for $350, but someone else had just put a deposit on it. As things turned out, this dealer also had a Maverick 88 shotgun for $199, I offered $185, and it was mine. The Maverick is a variant of the well-known Mossberg 500, but is about $150 cheaper because it has a synthetic stock rather than the 500’s wooden one and although built in the US has mostly Mexican-sourced parts. But it’s a perfectly good shotgun and you can’t argue with the bargain.

Being miraculously recovered from my “illness” I did an 8-hour MHIR shift on Sunday. With a late-season snowstorm in the forecast for late Monday into Tuesday, there was a constant stream of customers looking for snow shovels and ice melt. The latter was a bit of problem as we soon ran out, and though there was a truckload on the way no one knew exactly when it would arrive. Being busy made the shift go by quickly, so I can’t complain.

Published in: on March 27, 2017 at 12:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, February 20 – Thursday, March 9

Okay, I know I should have been more careful about update

Well you know, better late than never, and all that stuff. These actually were a few fairly eventful weeks. On the 22nd I had to drive down to North Carolina to assist a family member who was having car trouble, a mission of mercy that involved a couple of trips through the highest part of the Appalachians to the nearest dealer in Tennessee. It was my first real experience with mountain driving in many years, and I’d have to say it was quite fun. Terrific scenery, in fact if I weren’t tied down here I’d definitely consider East Tennessee as a place to live. Just something about the area. As for all the driving I did, something like 1,500 miles in total, my main observation – once again involving scenery – is that while I-81 through Virginia may pass through some very picturesque landscapes, it still somehow manages to be boring. Oh, and the fogs in the southern Appalachians can be wicked.

Work at my main job was pretty easy for most of this stretch, no time pressures and on a few days I was able to leave early. My hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer are starting to pick up, though still manageable. Job turnover has gotten so high that I see new faces every time I go in to work. There’s even a new head of my department. While all this turnover can be disconcerting, at least I can take some solace in the fact that I’m now one of  the more experienced workers in the store at less that three and a half years!

Published in: on March 14, 2017 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, February 17 – Sunday, February 19

After the horrible week I had at my main job it was quite a relief to have a pleasant Friday. We went into Manhattan, via train, to do some shopping and have dinner. Very enjoyable, and it allowed me to unwind in a way that doing nothing wouldn’t have allowed. Saturday was basically my do-nothing day, while on Sunday I had a full 8-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Not a bad shift, just long.

Published in: on March 1, 2017 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, February 13 – Thursday, February 16

What a (non)-lovely Valentine’s week!

It was horrible. Just horrible. The new cycle at my main job, I mean. I can’t quite say that it was the worst one I’ve had in almost five years (has it been that long??) on the job, but it certainly was one of the top contenders. The company piled on a workload that was way beyond the bounds of reason. No, I don’t know why. Each day I had to work about 60 to 90 minutes past normal quitting time and take only a very short lunch break. It was all so exhausting I couldn’t even think about going to the gym. If there was any silver lining it was that I hadn’t been scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer during the week. I truly don’t know how I could have managed if I had been scheduled. Yes, it was really that bad.

Published in: on March 1, 2017 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, February 10 – Sunday, February 12

Another do-very-little weekend for me. With the Major Home Improvement Retailer being in the midst of the seasonal slowdown, after my day off on Friday I had 4-hour shifts  on Saturday and Sunday. As there weren’t many customers in the department I spent much of both shifts with a few other workers clearing the snow from the outside garden area. For the most part, this was rather pointless work. Other than clearing a few pathways there wasn’t any reason for removing the snow because there’s nothing going on in the area. All of the display sections are empty until the first shipments arrive. But of course, store management wants things done their way, logical or otherwise. I really can’t complain too much as all of us on snow removal detail worked at a nice leisurely pace and it made the shift go by quite quickly. I just wish there were at least some point to it all …

Published in: on March 1, 2017 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, February 6 – Thursday, February 9

Thanks Mom (Nature) for a short workweek!

It was not an auspicious start to the week. While I wasn’t sick, per se, I definitely wasn’t at full strength. That sort of unpleasant drag-yourself-around feeling. It didn’t help that both Monday and Wednesday were tough days at my main job. While I was at a worksite that usually isn’t too bad, there were some leftover chores that had to be done in addition to the normal assignments. They weren’t the sort of days where I had to stay late, but I had to work at a pretty fast pace and take shortened lunch breaks. Normally I wouldn’t have minded, not much, but being under 100% made it a bit of an ordeal. Fortunately Wednesday was easier, even though it was at what’s usually a more challenging worksite.

One thing about me is that I generally pay very little attention to weather forecasts. If for no other reason than that they’re often wrong. Even so, the forecasts for Thursday were rather bad: forecasts that originally called for maybe six inches of snow kept getting worse, to the point that 12 to 14 inches were looking likely. What’s more, the worst of the snow was supposed to come in mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

When my alarm went off just before 6 on Thursday morning there was only an inch or two of snow on the ground. I very easily could have made it to the workplace. Knowing the forecasts I figured discretion was the better part of valor and decided not to go in. Sure enough, by the time the snow began to taper off around 2pm there was about 14 inches on the ground, though the heavy drifting made it hard to measure. I can just imagine that getting back the 40 miles from the day’s worksite would have been, ahem, amusing. It took hours to shovel, which at least made it up for the lack of gym-going this week!

Published in: on February 13, 2017 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, February 3 – Sunday, February 5

I wasn’t scheduled at all this weekend at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, which was a very fortunate thing. After doing four lot shifts in a row I was pretty much devastated. No joke – on Friday I could barely do anything at all, and Saturday and Sunday weren’t a whole lot better.  Granted, I had a lot of stuff to do on Saturday, and on Sunday I somehow mustered up enough energy for a gym trip, but all and all it was lazy weekend. But that’s fine.

Longform mystery: The European/Canadian/something woman of Chautauqua County.
On December 6, 1983, a utility worker found the body of a woman off the side of eastbound NY-17 (the Southern Tier Expressway) in Chautauqua County, in the westernmost part of New York State. Dead for less than a day, she had been shot four times, in the back, mouth, and twice in the chest. There is no information online as to the caliber of the firearm, I do not know if the police ever released that information. She may have been raped, though this is unconfirmed, and similarly unconfirmed is a sighting at a Pennsylvania truck stop the day before her death.
The woman was white, 5’4″ and 128 pounds, apparently in her 30’s, with brown hair just starting to become gray. Some moles but no tattoos or piercings. She had dental work that was both expensive and in a style usually performed in Europe. She had given birth at least once, probably 15 or more years earlier. She had an intrauterine device of European manufacture which unfortunately did not have a serial number, the brand had been available in Canada but never in the United States.
Another European connection is that the woman’s expensive trench coat was in European size 40 and the brand had not been exported to the United States or Canada. Another item of clothing, a camisole, also was a non-exported European brand. The woman had no shoes or jewelry.
What is most mysterious is the only document found on the body. It was a handwritten note, on stationery from the Blue Boy Motor Lodge in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was a rather downscale motel that has since closed. No one who worked at the motel recognized the woman. There were only three lines on the note, all in some sort of code:
Sas.k.R.h. 24233
K.R.Ba. 68301
Sarg. 74261
So far these codes have defied all attempts at deciphering them. Leaving aside the letters, the numbers may be a match for internal telephone lines at JFK Airport in New York, telephone area codes for cities in Germany, or postal codes in Austria. All of these remain speculative, however. One more thing of interest in the the number 7 on the note is written in the European style with a horizontal line, though there’s no way of knowing if the writing is the woman’s or someone else’s.
The woman does not fit the profile of any missing persons from the United States, Canada or Europe and there have been no matches on her fingerprints.

Published in: on February 13, 2017 at 12:37 am  Leave a Comment