Sunday, February 17, 2019


I'm fortunate enough to live in an area that has not one, but two local newspapers. The Times Leader is the older of the two. The Citizens' Voice was born out of a strike in 1978 against the Times Leader in the wake of its purchase by a national newspaper conglomerate and subsequent anti-union activity.

I subscribe to both of them. I get the Citizens' Voice seven days a week, while I have a Friday-Saturday-Sunday subscription to the Times Leader. I pay for these subscriptions on a month-to-month basis. A charge is placed on my credit card on the same day each month to cover the next month's papers.

And every once in a while the papers don't show up. I'm sure there are reasons. Delivery people come and go. Delivering newspapers is a low-paying pain in the ass. Weather and other factors interfere with regular delivery.

Still, I'm paying for these papers. This is a dying industry. I'm supporting it. In exchange for my money, I'd like to get the product I've paid for. Sometimes when I call I am told a replacement paper will be on its way. Other times I am told I will get a "credit."

This weekend the Times Leader was delivered on Friday, but not on Saturday, and not today. Yesterday I called the "missed paper" number and spoke to a human who told me that re-deliveries are not done on weekends and I would get a "credit." I asked her what this "credit" meant and she told me that it meant that it would push out the expiration date of my subscription by a day. I pointed out that my subscription renews each month and my renewal date has never changed. This can therefore only mean that all the "credits" I've earned will pay off at the end of my subscription - that is, after I have said I no longer wish to receive the newspaper, I will continue to receive the newspaper until the "credits" are all used up.

I wonder if there's a tally of how many "credits" I've earned over the years? It must be several dozen, at least. I should be able to cancel my subscription and continue to get the paper for several months, assuming it is still delivered on a Friday-Saturday-Sunday basis. But I really don't think there is any such tally being kept. I really don't think if I cancel my subscription I will continue to receive a newspaper. And eventually, this paper will fold, and all my accumulated credits will fold with it.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Here we go, here we go, here we go again

So here we are at the start of another work week. Just five days this tie. Doesn't seem so bad compared to last week's ten-day marathon. The weather is much nicer, so the commute should be a bit easier.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Mission semi-accomplished

Today I got done most of the things I meant to get done yesterday. I picked up a new hydration kit for Thor, consisting of a bag of Lactated Ringer's Solution, an I.V. drip line, and some needle tips. I also picked up three and a half months of comic books from Rubber Mallet Comics in West Pittston - the last time I was there was the day before Thanksgiving. I bought a variety of cat food from Pet Supplies Plus using a 10% off coupon. I bought mostly non-essentials from Walmart and paid for them with a $25 gift card my sister gave me for Christmas, plus a dollar and some change.  I did a grocery run and kept the bill to just over $105.00. I bought some half-price day-after-Valentine's Day chocolate. I changed my door decorations from hearts to shamrocks. I made this week's oven-fried chicken lunches and did several loads of laundry. And I read a bunch of my comic books.

I didn't get an overdue oil change, nor did I return the empty bottle from eggnog I purchased during my eggnog shake quest to Hillside Farms. Those can both wait until next weekend.

And today Donald Trump declared a NATIONAL EMERGENCY because he didn't get his way. Fuck that guy.

Seriously, fuck that guy.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


Ten consecutive days of work - well, the last five days of training, on the 11:00 AM - 7:30 PM shift, followed immediately by my first five days of actual work, from 3:30 PM to midnight - have left me exhausted. It didn't help that the last two nights - err, early mornings - had me driving back in snowy, icy conditions, puttering along at 40 miles per hour for much of my nearly 15 mile commute home, or that I didn't get out of work until 12:49 this morning because of the complexity of my last call. But the alternative was to take one day off, work five days, take another day off, and work another five days. I think it's better this way.

I had plans for today. I didn't get most of them done. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A song of snow and ice

That's pretty much what we had Tuesday into Wednesday: light snow, coated with sleet, sealed in with freezing rain. Fun times.

The all-hands meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning is postponed, so I can sleep in a bit. Then I have to haul out the garbage, shovel, and head in for day ten of ten.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

St. Joseph's: demolished

St. Joseph's, October 18, 2018

St. Joseph's church was demolished today.

Demolition photos courtesy of Ann Emelett.

See also: St. Joseph's: Another church is coming down

Sunday, February 10, 2019

February 26, 2019: Poems at the Pub featuring Laurel Radzieski

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 will see the return of Poems at the Pub at Dugan's Pub, 385 Main Street, Luzerne, PA. The readings are held in the upper room and begin at 7:00 PM, and the feature will be Laurel Radzieski, author of Red Mother!

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Here we go

I'll be leaving for work in a little bit. Won't be back until at least 12:30 in the morning. First time I've done a shift like this in over five years. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, February 08, 2019


I worked from 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM today. Tomorrow, and for four more days after that, I will work 3:30 PM to 12:00 AM. I will have Thursday and Friday off, and then continue on the 3:30 PM to midnight shift.

I went grocery shopping after work. I had a fairly huge list, and added on a few things. As I packed my purchases into the car, I realized I had forgotten something. I went back in and bought it, and more than twenty dollars of additional groceries.

This shopping trip has to cover the rest of the week and beyond. I've gotten used to being able to pick stuff up as needed when I'm on my way home from work. But there are no longer any stores between work and here that stay open past midnight. The Walmart in Pittston is open twenty-four hours, but going there would involve a ten mile detour. Until I can come up with a better plan, I'll need to get any shopping done on Thursdays and Fridays.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Grim anniversary

In a week it will be Valentine's Day.

A year ago, a bunch of high school kids were looking forward to the day, doing whatever it is that is done by high schoolers for Valentine's Day these days. But someone else had other plans. And Valentine's Day was changed into something else entirely for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

You could fill a calendar with commemorations for the victims of mass shootings in America.  Virginia Tech, April 16. Columbine, April 20. Santa Fe High School, May 18. Pulse, June 12. Aurora, July 20. Tree of Life, October 27. Borderline Bar and Grill, November 7. Sandy Hook, December 14. Some of the days would commemorate multiple mass shootings.

And the hits just keep on coming. We thought after a white male U.S. citizen walked into and elementary school and shot a bunch of children, that would be it. Nope. When a white male U.S. citizen opened fire with a weapon converted to semi-automatic mode with an inexpensive plastic accessory opened fore on the crowd at a country music festival, surely that would move people to action? LOL, no. What would it take for Congress to act, someone directly opening fire on a bunch of members of Congress? It happened, June 14, 2017. (The shooter was once again a white male U.S. citizen.) And still the puppets of the N.R.A. in Congress did nothing.

There's a new Congress in town. A House of Representatives dominated by Democrats. more diverse and less beholden to the deep-pocketed gun lobby than ever before. Will things be different now?

We'll find out.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Third day

Wednesday. Once upon a time, this would have been "humpday," but today it's just day three of ten. Two more days of training, and then we hit the floor for another five.

As a bonus, right after we began training, payday was moved to Wednesday. Today's pay is already in my account. Time to spend it. Most of it, anyway.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Rescheduled Writers' Showcase, Saturday, February 9

REMINDER: The rescheduled Winter 2019 edition of the Writers' Showcase will be held this Saturday, February 9, 2019, from 7:00 - 9:00 PM at the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 West Market Street, Scranton, PA. Admission is just $4.00 for an evening of poetry and storytelling from Kimberly Boland, Aurora Bonner, Rachael Hughes, Laurel Radzieski, and Alyssa Waugh, hosted by Brian Fanelli and Dawn Leas.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make this one - my new schedule has me working every Saturday evening, and I'm not yet in a position to schedule time off. But if you can make it, you should definitely check out the Writers' Showcase!

 You can find the event page on Facebook here.

Monday, February 04, 2019

So it begins

The new shift started today. My "before work" hours rapidly filled up with things that needed to be done. Traffic was lighter going to work, but the parking lot was more full. I left work in the dark for the first time in a while - though when my old place closed at the end of September, it was already getting pretty dark at the end of the work day.

The new training class started today, and there are at least two people in it who used to work at my old place. I keep telling my co-workers that if they ever need travel advice, there are over a dozen of us there with experience in the travel industry.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Lunch time

I'm about to start a run of ten consecutive workdays. The first five will be my last week of training, while the next five will be the first week of my regular shift, which will run Saturday through Wednesday. Today, for the first time since leaving my old job, I made up a supply of lunches for the week. Just five, because I only had five chicken thighs set aside in the freezer. I'm all out of cracker crumbs, so I made a modified version of my oven-fried chicken. I incorporated some stuff from a recipe I found online, which suggested initially frying the chicken in an iron frying pan on the stovetop until it is brown on both sides, and then throwing it into the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for fifteen minutes. We'll see how it turned out.

What I'm going to do for lunch the last five days of this run, I'm not sure. I may stop and pick something up sometime before I switch to the later shift. There are very few places - possibly no places - around here that are open past midnight where I can buy lunch ingredients. This was always a problem when I last worked this shift, nearly six years ago. We'll see how long I stay on this shift.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Adezzo, one last time

I went to the Be Daring Open Mic at Adezzo in Scranton this past Wednesday, possibly for the last time for quite a long time. My new shift has me working late every Wednesday night, so unless I take time off, I won't be able to make any more until my shift changes. Hare are thumbnail-sized versions of the photos I uploaded to Facebook.


The Be Daring Open Mic is held the last Wednesday of every month at 6:30 PM (signups begin at 6:00) at Adezzo in Scranton, PA. Check it out if you can!

Friday, February 01, 2019


This work week is finally over. After this weekend we move on to a five-day transitional week, followed directly by a five-day work week on my 3:30-to-midnight shift. I need to get a lot of things done this weekend that I won't otherwise be able to do until Valentine's Day and the day after.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Poem: A poem of Los Angeles

I went to the Be Daring Open Mic at Adezzo in Scranton last night, mainly  to see a friend I haven't seen in over a year. I'm starting a new schedule in just over a week, and I don't know when I'll get to be there again. I decided I wanted to read, and scrambled to find something I hadn't read before. I found the rough version of a poem that I had put together a few weeks ago. Reading it over, I decided it was in good enough shape to present. So I did.

This poem was originally written Friday, January 11, 2019, and first read Wednesday, January 30, 2019.

A poem of Los Angeles

Almost wrote a poem of Los Angeles today
I was reading a story by Harlan Ellison
written the year I was born
a few pages in, it's a love letter to a Los Angeles that
isn't anymore
and probably wasn't even when he wrote it
like Ocean's 11
(the original, with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin)
when Danny Ocean rolls out a map
hidden in a magic cane
that shows the five main casinos in a Las Vegas that
isn't anymore
and probably wasn't even then

I was there over two decades ago
for a week
(in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas, I've never been there)
the Los Angeles I saw then is gone
Madonna doesn't live in a candy-striped house anymore
the division of our company we were there to work with
closed just a few years later
a train ran behind it, in the industrial area known as Commerce
the people there got a kick out of seeing our eyes get wide
when the rumble of it shook the building

I learned there that all it took to make any food
was to put a slice of avocado on it

While I was there the rings of Chicxulub crater were discerned
the long-hidden footprint of the ripples
left by the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

I got soaked on Hermosa Beach
we were on a tear as our time ran out
we had installed our database
taught them how to use the programs
and realized we had seen nothing of Los Angeles

so in one stretch we drove as much of the Pacific Coast Highway as we could
Hermosa had a steep beach
I stood well back on the shore, watching the waves roll in
not far enough back once they hit and climbed
and wrapped around my knees

The smog wasn't so bad on Monday
a little worse on Tuesday
horrible by Friday
and only gradually cleared over the weekend

that Los Angeles is gone
and I almost wrote a poem about it

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Snowy birthday

The weather forecast for the first day of my fifty-first year (or is it the first day of my fifty-second year? I can never remember) called for snow today, and it wasn't wrong. The snow was supposed to start overnight, begin in earnest around 8:00 AM, carry on through the afternoon, and stop in the early evening - and darned if that wasn't what happened.

When I looked outside early this morning I thought the snow had stopped already, leaving us with just a dusting. But when I listened closely, I could hear the sizzling hiss that indicated that a fine snow was falling. The ride in to work wasn't particularly bad, but the snow continued to fall throughout the day, and the ride back home was much more challenging. This was for the most part a "sweepable" snow, provided you had a strong enough broom. In the end, the total snowfall in Nanticoke was somewhere between four and five inches.

Now comes the next phase of the storm: extreme cold. We'll see how these next few days go.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Half a century gone

Tonight marks the end of my first half-century on Earth. It's been quite a ride. I've met many interesting people, been lots of places, had many adventures, and done a few things. I still don't feel "old" in any sense that I once imagined it, though the white hairs on my chin and above my lip mark me as such. Just a few years ago I was keeping pace with someone a quarter-century younger than me, during what could best be described as my "midlife crisis." Granted, I was generally getting three to four hours of sleep at that time, and was gradually dying from the strain, but I think it was worth it in the end. At least, I enjoyed our time together, and I think I made her life better in important ways. I've hinted at bits of that story before. Maybe someday I'll tell the whole thing.

So: off to sleep. When I wake five and a half hours from now, I will be another year older. And the next chapter will have begun.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Schedule changes coming

My training period at work is ending soon. After that I'll be moving to a new schedule.

This week will be my tenth week of training, and my last week of working Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. The following week, February 4 through February 8, will be the final week of training, still Monday through Friday but on a transitional schedule of 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM. After that, my regular schedule will begin: Saturday through Wednesday, 3:30 PM through 12:00 AM. This means that I will be working ten consecutive days, February 4 through February 13.

To make tings even more complicated, on the morning of February 13 we will be having an "all hands" meeting: upper management will be hosting a breakfast, pep rally, and meeting with all employees. Attendance is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged. So on the morning of the last day of this ten day stretch, sleep cycles will be disrupted by this early morning get-together. In the past when I have worked shifts ending around this time, I often wouldn't get to sleep until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. In the early morning hours of February 13, I will have to get to bed as soon as I get home, then wake up around 5:00 AM, head up to the breakfast around 8:00 AM, then be back by 11:00 AM and be ready to head out to work prior to 3:00 PM. That will be a bit of a trick.