Monday, August 22 – Thursday, August 25

A week that will live in infamy

Okay, that’s my historical reference for today. This was a just-plain-awful week at my main job. I knew that this work cycle would be tough. I did not know just how tough. The number and extent of the tasks I had to do were way beyond what could even remotely qualify as reasonable, and it’s not as if I could omit any. Monday, ironically enough, was the best – okay, least bad – day out of the four, even though the first day of a cycle is usually a challenge. I was able to take a lunch break, albeit a somewhat abbreviated one, and only had to stay about 15 minutes beyond normal quitting time. I can deal with that, right?

It got worse. Much worse. Tuesday I worked almost nonstop for an hour past the usual time, with only a very short break or two. Wednesday and Thursday were both 90+ minutes overtime and of course no meaningful breaks. I’m hoping against hope that next week will be easier, which may indeed be the case as I’ll be at less problematic sites.

Despite working extra time on Tuesday I had to work at the Major Home Improvement Retailer in the evening. Fortunately it was only a 4-hour shift, 7 to 11. In an unusual step, I got sent to a different store, not too far away, as they were swamped with freight. It made for a decent change of pace. Most of the actual work was garden freight packout, which of course is hardly uncommon for me, but being at the different store made things more interesting. I was supposed to work on Thursday evening but ended up calling out sick. I was just too physically beat out from the main job. I have my limits.

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 2:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 19 – Sunday, August 21

I hate eights. Let that be proclaimed throughout the known universe. After a pretty easy, calm-before-the-storm Friday, I had to work my first 8-hour shift in weeks at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Saturday. In what might be an example of how the human mind blocks out terrible memories, I had forgotten just how miserable it is to work an eight. Time slowed down to a point where the shift went on for an eternity. When I’m working a four and I get to my first 15-minute break after two hours, I know that I’m at the halfway point. On an eight, I’m only quarter of the way through. Ugh.
Sunday was a six-hour shift, slightly easier but still a long haul. What made things worse is that I knew the upcoming 2-week cycle at my main job was going to be a tough one. Hard to enjoy the evening.

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 2:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 15 – Thursday, August 18

I can’t let myself get used to this

Last week was a pretty easy week at my main job. One of the easiest I’ve had, in fact. It’s usually the case that the second week of a two-week work cycle is easier than the first. Well, this was the second week, and the usual case prevailed. Everything went so quickly and easily it hardly seemed like I was working at all. Monday was the easiest day of all, I was done in only three hours, and the other ones weren’t much worse. All in all I worked about 20 hours all week compared to my scheduled 28. And yes, I get paid for all 28.

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately this schedule may be among them. I got a look at the next work cycle, and while it doesn’t seem too bad it won’t be as easy-peasy as this one. Really, though, that’s okay. Having a very easy cycle come along only every so often makes it a special treat. Would you want to have Dom Perignon champagne and beluga caviar every day?

I had only one Major Home Improvement Retailer shift, a 5-hour on Wednesday. Due to some sort of computer error the store had gotten about double its usual freight shipments, and the receiving area was almost completely full. This led to a major campaign to pack out freight, and as there weren’t too many customers in the department I spent almost the entire shift on freight. Doing so is basically a good news/bad news sort of deal. The good news is that the shift went by very quickly, the bad news is that it was often exhausting work. I’d better get used to it, as the extra freight shipments are likely to continue for several weeks. Why the computer error can’t be fixed, I have no idea and asking management probably would be a bad idea.

I made three gym trips, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Monday I did chest and shoulders work, and for the first time in too long did some reasonably serious bench presses. I managed four reps at 225, several less than I’ve done in the past but a step in the right direction. Tuesday was back work, with cable rows having more or less become my exercise of choice. Even though the cable station is a machine, cable rows are basically a form of free weights as the cable is very similar to dumbbells in its effects on one’s muscles. Thursday was leg work, something I’ve sorely neglected for too long, and for that reason I stuck with machines.

True-life Mystery of the Week:
It’s well after midnight on May 14, 2008. Brandon Swanson of Marshall, Minnesota (home of Red Baron frozen pizza) is driving back home after a social gathering in a nearby town, having celebrated his graduation from a solar energy training program. He’s driving on an unlit dirt farming road rather than the main road, probably because he’d had a bit too much to drink and feared getting stopped by the police.

Brandon’s car gets hopelessly stuck. In what must have been an extremely awkward conversation, he calls his father and asks him to pick him up outside a restaurant. Brandon must have thought he was in the restaurant’s vicinity when his car was actually stuck 20 miles away. This isn’t so surprising as the land around Marshall is flat, largely featureless farming country with no landmarks.

For the next 47 minutes, Brandon stays on the phone with his father, describing the route he’s following (“I’m crossing a fence line, now walking along  dirt road”), that sort of thing. Then Mr. Swanson hears Brandon exclaim “Oh [bowel movement],” the call gets cut off, and there’s never been a trace of Brandon seen ever since. The police launched a massive search, with no luck. Given that it’s open country that’s easy to search, and that Brandon must have been within a 47-minute walk of the spot where his car turned up, you’d think he would have been found quickly dead or alive. But no, it’s as if he vanished into thin air.

Searching for Brandon


Published in: on August 22, 2016 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 12 – Sunday, August 14

Friday started off with a bang. I mean literally. A family member and I went to an outdoor shooting range to try out a couple of his rifles. I hadn’t been shooting in at least two years and had forgotten how much fun it was. We used two rifles, a Ruger 10/22 in .22 caliber, and an SKS, a big heavy Eastern European military surplus rifle firing 7.63×39 ammo. The Ruger was so quiet and recoil-less it hardly felt like you were shooting at all, which was definitely not true of the SKS. To my surprise, I was a lot more accurate with the SKS than with the Ruger. It was definitely a fun outing, and as I noticed the last time you’ll never find a friendlier bunch of people anywhere than at a shooting range.

Other than that, it was a quiet weekend. I worked four-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on both Saturday and Sunday. They were easy enough as shifts go, because it was very hot out I stayed in the inside part of the garden department as much as I could. On Saturday I made a gym trip, still doing mainly machine work but it went fine.

Published in: on August 22, 2016 at 1:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 8 – Thursday, August 11

Well, that was (mostly) easy

Monday marked the start of a new 2-week work cycle at my main job. I had been rather concerned about it, as the sheer volume of what I would have to accomplish each day looked really, really daunting. When I went in on Monday morning I was expecting to have to skip breaks and still have to stay late. Not a happy prospect on a Monday.

I certainly was wrong. Everything went much quicker than I would have dared to hope. Even with normal breaks I was done 45 minutes early on Monday, two hours early on Tuesday, and a nearly unprecedented three hours early on Wednesday. I actually had to call a higher-up to make sure that I’d still get paid for a full day. Thursday was a day off, as I had to attend to some matters.

I had a 5-hour Major Home Improvement Retailer shift on Tuesday and a 4-hour on Thursday. They were distinctly less easy than my main job had been. Tuesday there was a mountain of freight, which usually makes a shift go quickly, but for reasons I can’t explain it was interminable. Thursday would have been easier, but I had a lot of stuff to do in the outside garden area and it was very hot and humid.

Monday and Wednesday were both gym days, still doing mostly machine work but making progress. What I’m thinking is that maybe I’ll stick with machines for another month or two before transitioning back to free weights. I know, free weights are generally better, but it’s not a huge difference despite what some people claim.

Mystery tale: the case of Lori Erica Kennedy Ruff is truly baffling. After she shot herself in 2010, following a long spell of very strange behavior, her husband found to his shock that the woman he had married and with whom he had a child was not whom he thought she was. In fact, despite extensive investigations, her true identity, age and birthplace remain unknown. Here’s a somewhat mediocre Wikipedia article with links to better sources:


Published in: on August 15, 2016 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 5 – Sunday, August 7

I am annoyed – ever so slightly annoyed – at myself for wasting Friday, in the sense that it was my day off yet I didn’t go to the gym. It sure wasn’t like I had other pressing things to do. What a blown opportunity. And yet, upon further mulling of the issue, maybe that’s just fine. While going to the gym is something good, it should not be mandatory. I’m not one of these people who must go every day. Being so rigid about the gym would take the fun out of it and make it more likely that I would keep skipping sessions.

Saturday and Sunday were both 4-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, easy enough what with the season being mostly over. For some reason (sunspots? Zodiac?) there were some really annoying customers on Saturday, thankfully Sunday was much better.

Published in: on August 15, 2016 at 1:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 1 – Thursday, August 4

It’s over, but not really over

Tuesday was the much anticipated/dreaded annual inventory at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Based on last year’s timing I knew that a preliminary result would be available by 7pm, when I arrived for my 4-hour shift. When I walked into the break room and saw a big spread of food and cake, I knew right away that the results were good. Bad results = no food.

Something I also found out pretty quickly is that the end of the inventory did not mean that my work was going to get any easier. It turned out that a Big Boss would be making a store inspection tour later in the week and of course there’d have to be a massive cleanup and organization before he or she arrived. What that all meant, as you’ve undoubtedly deduced by now, is that I had to spend my shift running around like crazy cleaning and organizing. It was bad enough on Tuesday, when I worked from 7 to 11pm, and worse on Wednesday when I was there from 5:30 to 11. And did I mention that my work was in the outside garden area, fully exposed to the steamy heat? Again, that should go without saying.

Still, these days weren’t all bad. My main job was easy, what with it being the second week of an easy cycle, in fact I was able to leave about an hour early each day. I also went to the gym on Monday and Thursday evenings, still getting back into the swing of things with mostly machine work.

Today’s link:
Victoria, British Columbia was one of the ports of call on our cruise last May, and it was a very nice city. Definitely one I’d like to visit again. Yet in November 2012 Victoria was the site of a baffling disappearance, when 26-year-old Emma Filipoff vanished right after talking with two police officers. Here’s the Wikipedia article on the case, with links to other sources:

Published in: on August 9, 2016 at 1:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 29 – Sunday, July 31

Even though I only worked two 8-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer this was a busy weekend. There were a number of non-work-related things I had to do, and naturally enough they took much more time than I had anticipated. The bad news is that I never made it to the gym, I had really wanted to do, the good news is the everything finally got completed. That’s fine by me. As for the MHIR shifts, both were moderately busy, with final preparations for Tuesday’s inventory in full swing, but they went by quickly and I have no complaints.

Longform read: ever since I began frequenting the Unresolved Mysteries forum on Reddit I’ve discovered more and more cases that are not merely mysterious, but utterly baffling. One of the oddest of all is the Springfield Three, enjoy this captivating writeup:

Published in: on August 7, 2016 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 25 – Thursday, July 28

I really wish Inventory Day would arrive soon

Monday marked the start of a new 2-week cycle at my main job. It isn’t among the worst I’ve had, not by a long shot, but is a lot more difficult than what I had been anticipating. It’s a case of things that didn’t look too challenging in advance turning out to be tougher than anticipated when I actually started doing them. It’s somewhat annoying because I really had thought it would be a respite from the tough cycles I’ve been doing. Guess that’ll have to wait.

Now, my work at the Major Home Improvement Retailer has become focused on next Tuesday’s annual inventory. Everything had to be cleared out of the receiving area, which meant endless freight packout. I don’t mind doing that, but not when it’s a near-monomaniacal focus. It’s not like we were being timed on how fast we empty out freight carts, but management still knew how much we were hustling (or not). Given that it’s usually a very low-pressure job this has come as a somewhat unwelcome change. It also made my shifts on Tuesday and Thursday, four and five hours respectively, seem way too long. I’ll be very happy when the inventory’s over.

I made gym visits on Monday and Wednesday, still making incremental progress.

Published in: on August 2, 2016 at 2:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 22 – Sunday, July 24

What to do with all this time on my hands? Friday was my day off as usual, and on both Saturday and Sunday I only worked 4-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Which, as I’ve noted many times, are almost like nothing at all in comparison to an 8-hour marathon.

It was a challenge to keep myself at least semi-busy, but I managed, more or less. There were chores to be done, and I made a couple of gym visits. As for the gym, I’m still keeping things fairly light as I get back into some semblance of normalcy, but on Saturday I did manage two reps of 225 on bench press following the single last Wednesday. It would  be an exaggeration to say it was easy, but it’s nice to see some measurable progress however slight.

Oh, one last thing, on Sunday evening we went out for sushi. Always a terrific way to cap off a weekend.

Published in: on August 2, 2016 at 1:54 am  Leave a Comment