welcome to arizona, home to the aspiring nascar driver training center

Here’s a story I forgot to share with you, until on my home yesterday I noticed something that jogged my memory.

It seems that every time I passed any cars on the way home, they were always in pairs. It’s like they were learning the drafting techniques that NASCAR drivers use to save on fuel before pulling some slingshot maneuver to pass the guy in front of them.

Well, two different instances ended up pulling me right in the middle of issues that I wasn’t interested in being in.

The first one, I was on my way out of town to work one morning. At the last stoplight before you leave town, the four lane road merges down to a two lane road about 100-150 feet past the intersection. I always gun it a little in those situations to stay out of people’s hair when I have someone in the next lane over, no matter what lane I am in. This particular time, the guy next to me thought it was a NASCAR race. He wanted in front of me. The interesting thing was, he never even pulled even with me. I finally had to give in. I slammed on my brakes, honked my horn so he knew what I thought of the situation, and then started to go again after he got past me. Just as I let off my horn, he slammed on his brakes. I don’t know if he was getting me to try and rear-end him, or if he was thinking about exercising his road rage and getting out of his vehicle. However, after a few tense seconds, he kept going.

The other happened last time I went in to the Phoenix area for a doctor’s appointment. I had stopped at the last major commerce spot before leaving to head back home because I needed to pick up a couple of things that you can’t get in the illustrious city of Globe. So when I left, there were three of us in the right turn lane to get on the ramp for the freeway. The first was a pickup with a trailer attached. I was second, and then there was a black car behind me. From the moment we got the green light and the truck started moving, I could tell that I wouldn’t have a chance to pass him on the ramp, where the dual lane merge happened in no more than 100 feet. (Side story: If you have never driven in a metro area that has a major rush hour, let me explain this one. The traffic oncoming to the freeway is metered during rush hours, so all ramps to the freeways are multiple lanes that turn only in to one lane as you enter the freeway.) Well, once this black car turned on to the ramp, it was behind me at first. Then I saw it move over, and quickly speed up to come even with me. I finally slammed on my brakes so she wouldn’t run me off the entrance ramp, all while honking my horn to express my dissatisfaction at her dangerous and narcissistic driving methods. This lady just gave me a beauty queen wave until I let loose of my horn. Unlike the last situation that had me slightly fearful, this one just ticked me off.

But, it’s not over with that. Once on the freeway, I moved in to the left hand lane after a vehicle passed by me so I can just get out of her hair. But as that car that was now in front of me in the left hand lane approached even with this lady’s back bumper, she started to float over to the lane line, and then with the slimmest of margins, change lanes in front of this guy.

Good news? There maybe more drivers like that in the state of Arizona. But I have only met two. Everyone else, despite their love of speed, are relatively safe drivers.

magnetic personality

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How many of you have seen something like this? Well, it is a little reminder for me of the day I found out my child will indeed be a boy.

After my wife and I were done at the Ob-Gyn’s office from getting her ultrasound, we had to go to another medical location because I was scheduled for an MRI. I specifically requested this one place because every other MRI tube I have ever been in, I’ve been squished in like a sardine. According to the MRI tech, apparently this machine is 70 millimeters across in the tube, while most others are only 60.

So we get there and there is a parking garage right next to the building. I pull this ticket as we enter, and then put it above my visor. However, at last second, I pull it back out and drop it in my shirt pocket so we can pay the ticket on the way out before getting in the car. I proceed to forget I did this, until mid-way through the MRI.

Magnetic strip vs. MAGNETIC resonance imaging.

When we left, I tried to put it in the pay machine. Nothing.

So, I was thinking there was a manned booth to sort this out with. Nope.

I had to pay the lost ticket fee. Rats.

commando operation

Commando Operation

This was the scene in my office this afternoon. I have these windows blocked off with felt material to try and insulate the windows. They are single pain windows. It lets in quite a draft in the winter. It makes it quite warm during the summer. It lets in a lot of noise one way or the other. It has flags hung over the felt as a matter of décor.

Rewind about twenty minutes…

I was talking to Tara for a few minutes, and then started looking for the cats. They were not in her sitting room. They were not behind the easy chair. They were not in the kitchen or the utility room. They were not in the guest bedroom. I looked under our bed and it appeared like they might be in the box springs. Ok. Fine.

I went back in my office. After a few minutes, I start hearing some noises that appear like they are coming from outside, and I think Tara stepped out for a second. Then out of nowhere, I see iCat between the computer and the TV down on the floor in front of me at the office door. I look back, and there is M sitting on the table behind me, having just come out of the opening in the window sill.

I guess that makes their commando operation a success. That also gives me another hiding place to look for them when they’ve disappeared and can’t hear where they are.

a tale of two kitties

Both of the cats were outside last night.

iCat was out wandering around and was on the sidewalk between my car and the yard retainer wall. My wife was taking pictures of the space station as it was passing overhead. At one point, she walked down to a point where it scared iCat. That crazy cat leapt the retainer wall in “rapture kitty” fashion, with at least a good three or four inches to spare, and back on the yard.

M, on the other hand, I was holding on to. He doesn’t do so well with outside. When walking back in to the house, M was over my shoulder, and Tara was coming in behind me with the camera and tripod. As she started to come in to the light being shone from the porch, M gradually got freaked out. Now I have four areas of scrape marks and puncture wounds. Hah! We think he was frightened thanks to the tripod.

nocturnal siren music

Before I’ve contemplated any move, I’ve always looked at the crime rate of the town I’d be moving to. Am I moving to a place which is more dangerous?

Frankly, the numbers say that, in general, Arizona is a safer place than Texas. But then again, I always hear on the news about so much dangerous stuff happening. However, that is probably a consequence of going from an urban center of 125,000 or 250,000, all the way to my nearest urban center being home to millions of people. I guess I would get the same result if I had moved to Dallas instead.

Globe, however, is a very safe town compared to most when you look at the numbers. The crime rates are very low compared to state average (which most state average numbers are at or below national averages). The only statistic that was higher was larceny. I figure that it is no big deal. Most we’d have to deal with is a busted car window and a couple of missing items. If you don’t keep anything of consequence in your car when you’re away from it, then just a busted window. But there is one thing that gets me…

Tara and I have discussed this recently amongst ourselves. When the sun goes down, the sirens come out. No, not the mythical creatures whose songs would lure sailors to steer their ships in to the rocks. The sirens that accompany the flashing lights on emergency vehicles. They go on ALL the time. What are they going to check on? A DUI? A domestic dispute? Or how about the mayor’s wife’s hangnail?

A few nights ago, I had made a run to the store after work. It was already dark on my way home to begin with. I end up seeing an EMT Fast Response unit, an ambulance, a state policeman, three local 5-oh, and a fire engine all running in the same direction. I happened to pass by the spot where the commotion was. All I could tell for sure was there was a flat bed trailer on the side of the road about 500 feet past the intersection. It was too dark to make out any details of what was going on. Why were so many units running to this? The fire engine and two of the local 5-oh were in the process of turning off lights and siren and turning back around to go home when I passed by them.

Can we say overkill?

the pain, the agony, the whatever…

Those that know me really well know about the medical issues I’ve been going through in recent years. I’ve had pain so much at issue, it sapped me of my strength at times.

I don’t make light of this because of anyone else’s issues. I just bring it up to share my story. Am I cured? No. Am I closer to being cured than I was a year ago? Most definitely. I have had pain in the left hand side of my body in a very definitive way for about three years. I’ve had some level of signs and symptoms for 15-18 years. I’ve learned to live with the pain. It is an every day occurance

When things flaired up to the bad level they’ve been at in recent years, I went back and visited my GP doctor that I had used since junior high. He was the one who inspected me after the hit and run I was involved in while in high school. A second doctor in advised me that it may actually be multiple problems causing one big issue.

At this point, I’ve been through about 15 doctors. I’ve learned to live with the pain, the tingling, and the numbness.

Should I have lived with it all these years? I don’t know. Based on the reactions of various doctors over the past few years, I am not sure any single doctor would have done anything for me prior to now. But now, I’ve had a release of the ulnar nerve at the cubital tunnel on both arms, and a fusion surgery between two of my vertebrae in my neck. The biggest thing I have noticed? I don’t have migraines developing anymore like they used to.

Anyone know what a feedback loop is?

Think about what happens when you get an audio feedback loop. That is a nasty sounding squeal. So imagine what happens when you translate that in to a headache. The pain in the head travels down in to the nerves in your neck. Because of the entrapment of the nerves, it causes your neck muscles to tighten up, releasing more pain back in to your head. If I took pain meds, it would never really clear up because the muscles kept the pressure on. If I took a muscle relaxer, the pain would go down in to my stomach, causing me to get nauseous, and eventually tighten my neck back up anyway. Only a combination of the two would help cure it.

Weird sinus stuff and other goings on in my head still cause weird pains/other feelings, but nothing like the debilitating issues I had prior to my neck fusion surgery.

Unfortunately, I’m still not done. But it is progress. They’re working their way down my left arm now. Currently the focus is on my shoulder. They will keep on down to my elbow, wrist, and hand if necessary afterwards. Good thing is it seems like my right arm is just fine after the one surgery.

I really can’t wait for all of this to be taken care of. I look forward to being able to actually work out again. My arms used to feel like they were kinda like this:

However, lately, they feel more like this:

I would like to be back to normal.

Meh…

Thankful

Ya know, a lot of people have been doing something they are thankful for every day. I’m not one that keeps up with doing things like that very often, but let me give a few highlights…

First and foremost, I am thankful for God, who loves me and takes care of me, even despite some of the most royal (albeit unintentional) screwups.

I am extremly thankful for my wife. Even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye (not always possible given our 14 inch height difference), she loves me and stands by me in everything I do. She’s a gift from God to help in those unintentional gaps I mentioned above. She keeps me fed with the most wonderful tasting meals. She keeps the house clean over and above anything I would normally notice. And she just generally keeps me in line.

I’m thankful for my move to Arizona. It’s provided me with many good things…

I’m thankful for the job I have, which has helped me realize I have a passion for a certain kind of work that I just need to stick with.

I’m thankful for being out here and in this job, because it is giving me a chance to complete a Masters degree in the next couple of years which will be very helpful to the direction I hope for my career.

I’m thankful for the physicians I have access to. They have cured some of my ailments, and are continuing to work on the rest. While I’m not 100%, I am doing much better than in recent years (no dehabilitating migraine headaches since my neck surgery!!!!).

I’m thankful my wife has rediscovered her love of the work she does. It is wonderful to see that spark in her eye each day.

I’m thankful to have the chance to explore a different part of this wonderful world.

Ummmmm… I’m sure I will think of more things. Just be forewarned, it maybe March 17th before another comes to mind. But just because I can’t think of it right now doesn’t mean I’m not thankful!!!!

A Great Man

Earlier this week, the world lost a great man.

Stephen Covey wrote a little book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. 20+ years later, that one book has had a profound effect on so many people.

I am one of them.

I was first introduced to the idea of leadership as an academic school of thought and learning when I returned to school to complete my degree a few years ago. We started with “The 8th Habit”. It was a basis for the leadership course we covered. It drew me to “7 Habits…” and other related material.

Just working on organized thoughts in this field inspired me to want to continue to pursue my education through the graduate level. My wife thinks I enjoy school. I don’t. But any subject that makes me want to go back for more must be holding my interest. It is something I could take and run with.

Later, after getting married and accepting a job teaching, I realized it wasn’t just about leadership. It was about being a good person. It was about being responsible. I petitioned the second year I taught to get my school to purchase a set of the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”, a publication from Covey’s son. I felt that the teaching contained within the book would be a positive experience for my students.

Today, in a leadership position in my current job, I seek to take the same approaches I’ve learned from Covey and others in this field.

While there are plenty of academic minds in this area, no doubt most, if not all, would consider Covey the godfather of this train of thought. While he may be gone, he’s left a wonderful example for everyone to follow that wishes.

speed demons

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Once again, my other part on drivers in Arizona. Overall, they are better drivers than in Texas. But besides their brights in rural areas, Arizona drivers REALLY love their speed.

Now, these drivers normally control their speed fairly well. I’ve only felt in danger twice. Once was heading to work on an early morning. A construction company worker was staying no more than a half a car length behind me, both at 45 mph and 65 mph. I couldn’t shake the guy. He finally sped by me after about 3 miles.

Then, just the other day, I was in a work vehicle heading to take care of a customer. My technician and I were about to pass a car and a semi truck traveling in the opposite direction. This semi was in such a hurry to move on that he started moving over AS WE WERE EVEN WITH HIS CAB!! Dangerous!

The question is: Where is law enforcement?

There is maybe three state troopers that patrol that road semi-regularly. But if they aren’t around, people break this law. Tribal police rarely, if ever, patrols this.

It is almost like the wild west out here!!

Who’s the #SupeRugby powerhouse? Not the #Australians…

I’m writing this as I sit and watch the test match between the Bulls and Brumbies. I’ll give credit, the Brumbies are playing good rugby this year. So are the Waratahs. So are the Bulls and Stormers (from South Africa). New Zealand is the exciting conference all around this year.

However, I was watching a test match between the Force and Reds earlier prior to this current test. It was boring rugby.

Except for the Brumbies, I fight to not fall asleep during the Australian test matches. This is no matter whether or not they are playing in our outside of their conference.

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