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False advertising

September 24, 2014

It just occurred to me- right about a year after the fact- that I am now guilty of false advertising.

This blog was originally all about my being a stay-home dad since 2007. Granted, I have sort of fallen off the pace with posts a few times, but I talked about things like how great it was to be able to go to baseball games, school functions, and cross-country events now that I am no longer working.

Only thing is, I am no longer no longer working.

In late 2012, our good friends Rob & Tammy from across the street (the parents of Adam’s best friend) bought out the inventory of a uniform shop that was going out of business. They purchased a location in a little strip mall behind the Toys ‘R Us store here and spent a couple months getting the store ready to open. On January 3, 2013, Bright Star Scrubs & Uniforms, Inc., became a living, breathing thing.

Bright Star Scrubs & Uniforms- or “the Star”, as Dawn and I call it- sells nursing uniforms, scrubs, shoes, stethoscopes, and almost any accessory a nurse may ever need, as well as lab coats, chefwear, aprons, and police/fire/EMS and tactical shirts and pants. Cherokee, Wonder Wink, and Barco’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ lines are the more popular brands they sell. But enough of the sales pitch, pathetic as it was. Back to the story.

Every so often, Tammy would ask me if I could give her a hand at the store, seeing as how I usually had the time to do so, once I got the boys off to school. I’d help with inventory, be the muscle for moving some things around, or various other random tasks. Then one day she asked me if I would want to go with her to the MTI school here in town for a fitting for the incoming nursing and dental assistant students. I thought the same thing I imagine you are thinking right now- “Am I really the right person to do this?”- but I agreed to go, and it went very well, so I was asked to do a couple more here and there.

Then, in late summer 2013, Tammy made the leap and bought an embroidery machine, so she could do embroidery in-house, to keep the cost of embroidery from going to a third party. She asked me if I were interested in learning how to do embroidery. I just sort of laughed, seeing as how my sewing prowess pretty much begins and ends with sewing on buttons. She, apparently, was serious, because shortly after Tammy purchased the machine, I’d spend anywhere from 2-6 hours a day trying to figure out how to mark and hoop a garment straight (i.e., not crooked). That right tharr is the key to successful embroidering. The machine does all the actual embroidery work in just a few short minutes. The only thing I really have to do during actual embroidery is maybe an occasional thread change on a multi-colored design, or to be there to minimize issues should certain anomalies occur. (Things like the thread and/or the bobbin running out or snapping; the needle breaking; the garment getting bunched up and sewn to itself– all of which happen far too often.)

Needless to say, I was not good at it. At all. I ruined way too many tops. How many exactly, I don’t know, but any more than zero is too many, as far as I am concerned. Well, like anything else, as I did it more often, my ability increased (however slowly), and I would eventually earn the unofficial title of “embroiderer”. Okay, I think I actually gave myself the unofficial title of “embroiderer”, but still.

Finally, one day last September (2013), Dawn had been visiting at Tammy’s house. She came home and announced to me, “Tomorrow you need to go in and sign tax documents. You’re working for Tammy now.”

As one could imagine, this was my reaction.

HUH?!

Well, I went in and signed the papers the next day, as instructed, and long story short, I officially became the embroiderer for Bright Star Scrubs & Uniforms, Inc. I still go on the nursing school fittings and, while I am still on Facebook- for now- I help maintain the store’s Facebook page and Twitter feed (under the totally made up title of Executive Vice President of Social Media), but my main gig is embroidery.

If I may say so (Tammy might say otherwise), I actually am getting better at embroidering. Tammy will still typically mark and hoop the garments and give them to me to throw onto the machine (it’s just kind of a mojo that usually works for us), but just a couple weeks ago, I took the lead on a rather large batch of shirts for a dental office. I marked, I hooped, and I embroidered every single shirt- probably a couple dozen or so. And, whether I may say so or not, they all turned out pretty damned sharp. I haven’t heard from Tammy as to whether the dental group liked or disliked them, but since I haven’t yet heard they disliked them, I’m assuming that means they liked them.

Shut up- it’s my logic, I’m going with it.

So anyway, the point of this post is that the “spfldilstayhomedad” is no longer a stay-home dad, but he will still try to keep up with this blog. As always, sometimes the posts will be meaningful, insightful, or at least entertaining, and sometimes they won’t. I’m not a real writer. Hell, I’m not even a real embroiderer, but I actually get paid for that now!!

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SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: If you or anyone you know is in the market for scrubs, chefwear, or police/fire/EMS/tactical wear, please come in and see Tammy and Ally at Bright Star Scrubs & Uniforms, Inc. They are very knowledgeable about scrubs, and even if they don’t have what you’re looking for in stock, chances are extremely good they can order it in. Alterations, patching, and, of course, embroidery are available.

Come see us:

Bright Star Scrubs & Uniforms, Inc.
2625 W. White Oaks Dr. (located behind Toys ‘R Us, just south of the Gold Center)
Springfield, IL 62704
217-546-7310
217-546-7311 fax
Facebook page here.
Twitter: @BrightStarScrbs

Winter advisory advice

February 16, 2014

I have a good friend, Dan, who is a very good writer. His columns are featured in our local paper. They are often at least semi-autobiographical, in that he often writes about his wife and kids, be it about school, soccer, their version of the Food Network show ‘Chopped’, or what have you. I love his columns and each time one runs in the paper, I look that much more eagerly to the next one.

His column in today’s paper is about winter. Specifically, it is about complaining about winter. This article may well have been written with me firmly in mind- Dan and I are, after all, friends on Facebook, where I do a LOT of grousing about the weather- or, on the other hand, it may well be extremely conceited of me to think I ever even slightly entered his thought process when he conceived of and wrote the article. Regardless, I saw a lot of myself in his article, and it actually kinda hit home pretty hard.

Here in Illinois, it gets hot in the summers and cold in the winters. That’s just how it is. I accept that. But what I just don’t like are the extremes to which they occur. One hundred degrees with 90%+ humidity is unbearable and dangerous. Conversely, -10˚ temperatures with wind chills close to -40˚ are just as unbearable and equally as dangerous. Plus, the last few winters here have had what at least seems like far more than normal snowfall. Tonight and tomorrow, we are being blessed with freezing rain. I think what makes the last few winters so particularly hard [for me] to deal with are the preceding dozen or so winters were extremely mild in comparison, with respect to both temperature and snowfall. Whatever the reason, winters have been very, very hard for me to get through the last few years. Hence, I have been extremely vocal in my contempt for the weather.

I agree with Dan in that directing one’s ire at the school superintendents for cancelling (or not cancelling) school, or at the street department workers for not plowing the streets you live and drive on quickly enough to suit you, is completely misguided. However, I also agree that complaining about the weather itself, regardless of how many weather-emergency days it creates, or how many flights or basketball games it cancels, or how many times it forces me to shovel my and several neighbors’ driveways and walks, or how many times it has caused me to spin out in my car or fall on the ice and further deteriorate my tailbone, or simply how friggin’ cold and nasty it is, is pretty ridiculous as well.

No matter how much better it makes me feel, if only temporarily, to [literally] curse Mother Nature.

As I type this, it doesn’t help that my eyes are bugging out of my head due to a good old-fashioned cold, but I can’t blame my last two months’ complaining on this cold. I simply don’t deal with weather extremes well.

Therefore, even though a few days back I posted on Facebook that I do not apologize for my very vocal dislike of winter, after reading Dan’s column, I really feel I must. There are only a few more weeks until spring- at least, as the calendar is concerned, anyway- and they say that we could come close to 60˚ this week some time. I am not going to ever be able to “enjoy” or even “like” the extreme weather, but I do accept it simply because I can’t do anything to change it until it changes itself. So, I am on record as saying I am sorry for being one of the insufferable clods going on about the weather.

All that said, I am also putting it out there that I will be watching all of social media as the weather warms this spring and into the summer, and will be calling some people out. The people that told me I should either “move or STFU.” The people that threw the ridiculous, snarky, quasi-religious platitudes at me. The people on Facebook that have been so adamant that I quit complaining about winter, because “Meh, that’s just how it is in the Midwest. Get over it.”
You are all on notice: if I see one complaint about heat or humidity, I’m calling you out. If I see one Instagram picture of your car’s temperature gauge, I’m calling you out. If I see one tweet or Facebook post about how hot it is, how the humidity has ruined your hair, how much you sweat the instant you walk outside, how badly we need rain, or anything else having anything even remotely to do with the weather, I’m calling you out. You will ALL need to be reminded of how you wagged your fingers at me all winter for my complaining about the cold and snow and ice.

Finally, to Dan, I just want to commend you on yet another brilliant article, and I promise I will try to curtail my hatred of winter weather- or, at least, the vocalizing of said hatred of winter weather. Now if you’ll excuse me, as per your friend Poss’s advice, I have a bottle of Gentleman Jack that requires my attention.

Or, perhaps more accurately stated, I require its attention.

R.I.P. Coach Flohr

September 3, 2013

The faculty and students of Franklin Middle School, as well as the entire Springfield School District 186 and the middle school sports community in general, lost a great man yesterday.

Mr. Flohr coached the cross-country team for Franklin MS, and was a 6th grade World History teacher. From everything I have seen, the students loved him. My brother’s daughter goes to Franklin, and she adored Mr. Flohr as a teacher.

Ian, my oldest, is an 8th grader at Lincoln Magnet School, one of Franklin’s “competitors” on the cross-country courses. Coach Flohr was at virtually every meet Ian has had, as Ian’s Leopards were chasing Coach Flohr’s Falcons in almost every meet.

I go to every meet I can- I think I’ve only missed one over the last two years- and at most meets, I spoke briefly with Coach Flohr. While his school and Ian’s were “competitors”, he always took the time to speak to me, he was always very kind and respectful to me and, toward the end of last year, even started addressing me as “Coach” (I’m not LMS’s coach). Coach was simply one of the kindest-hearted and most genuine gentlemen I’ve ever met. Naturally he was preferential toward his runners, but Coach always very strongly and vocally supported each and every single kid on that course, no matter who they were or what school they attended.

I was extremely saddened to hear of his passing this morning. Ian’s first meet is today in Chatham, and I will be thinking of Coach Flohr today, as well as this Thursday- Lincoln’s first meet against Franklin- and every meet this season.

(photo taken from Franklin Middle School’s website)

Into the ‘Sunset’

July 14, 2013

In the spring of 2012, I saw a blurb on Facebook (or maybe it was Twitter) that a local theatre here in Springfield was looking for volunteers.

I know virtually nothing about theatre or musicals or tech work or anything like that, so I really didn’t know of what use I would realistically be. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I do play several instruments but none of them well, and I know nothing about lights, props, set design, wardrobe, or sound. But I decided to go ahead and toss my name into the proverbial hat. I wound up going intermittently, whenever I had occasion to get away for a few moments, and shadowing my friend Jeff, who is the lighting guy [extraordinaire] for the Legacy, as he installed lights for various shows. I was both mentally and physically trying to take notes, in the hopes of learning… SOMEthing, or at least not looking like a total doofus. I eventually got to where I was climbing ladders and scaffolds, hanging and aiming lights, things like that. It was really pretty cool. I “helped” Jeff with an effect for the Jennifer Holliday concert that wound up being pretty damned amazing. He has also tried to show me the lighting board through which he controls all the lights, and I remain to this day very deer-in-the-headlights when it comes to that thing.

It frightens me.

So about a month and a half ago, Jeff somewhat reluctantly texted me with an opportunity. He said that they would be putting on nine shows of ‘Sunset Boulevard’ over three weekends, and asked if I wanted to run a spotlight for the show. He added the caveat that, due to the rather involved nature of the job, he really needed me to be able to commit for the entire run, but that he understood if I couldn’t commit to the whole thing. Family obligations and all.

I talked with Dawn about it. She was in a couple shows in college, and ran lights for several others, so she knows the theatre experience, and she was all, “Absolutely! You should do this!” So I told Jeff, I’m in!

Being as this would be not only my first venture at the Legacy, but also my first into theatre period, I was very, VERY self-conscious and was really wanting to become a piece of the background so I would hopefully have less of a “NEW GUY!!” blinking neon sign on my back. My first day, I just kinda hung back with Jeff in the booth and watched the rehearsal, to get somewhat of an idea of how the story goes. I then spent the next couple days up in my light tower, listening to Jeff give me cues over a headset, and trying to make it look like I know what the hell I’m doing. I think I fooled them.

Last night was closing night. It wound up being one of the most incredible three weeks I’ve ever spent. It was such a great production. I had no idea what a blast I would wind up having. Sure, I screwed up a few times, but I realized that I wasn’t going to get my head thumped in for doing so. Jeff gave me a great pep talk before opening night, saying that I will screw up. It’s going to happen, and there is nothing I can do to prevent it. But when it happens, what I have to do is own it and move on. If I stew over it, it’ll snowball and I’ll screw up the next 10 cues. I’m SO a stewer, but I took his advice and soon discovered that he was exactly right. I made some mistakes, but a few of them he said he didn’t even notice. And I’m grateful for the little white lie.

I had THE best time. This final weekend especially. Everyone was loose, having fun, and cutting up. Great cast, great crew, and the set was seriously awe-inspiring. The closing night party last night was a blast. Wendy, our outstanding props magician, gave each of us a photo collage of Cotton the dead monkey (you had to be there) in various poses on the set and backstage. Scott, our director, gave us a Radko-type ornament of  a monkey. Again, you had to be there.

It suddenly occurs to me that if I were to talk about my entire range of emotions, the ups and downs, and everything else that happened during the last three weekends, it would take about four hours for you to read it. So I’mma just sum up and say some thank yous.

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To Cynda, Jeremy, Sara, Mark, Ashley, Missy, Greg, Dorothy, Emilie, Jim H., Jim N., Grant, Rachel, Allison, Joe, Nathan, Frank, Ed, and Sarah: It was my honor and privilege to light you up these last three weeks. I am absolutely stupid jealous of what incredibly talented performers you all are, and I hope to at least watch you perform again soon, if not to work with you again. You guys all rock. And some of y’all crack me right the hell up.

To Hillary, Emerson, Xander, Nancy, Wendy, Ron, and Nick: You guys are awesome. From the second I walked in the door, you all instantly treated me like part of the family- and the Legacy clearly is a family- rather than the FNG that I am. It was a blast working with you all, and I hope to do so again as soon and as often as possible. One more thing: You are ALL friggin’ nutjobs, and I love that about you.

To Scott: I greatly appreciate everything you do and have done not just for the Legacy, but for the performing arts scene in Springfield in general. I’m also grateful for the chance to come in and help out once in a while. I only wish I were able to do more.

And last but by no means least, to Jeff: What can I say, Homie? You have no idea how overwhelming it was for me walking completely green into this ‘Sunset Boulevard’ gig. Yet you believed in some abilities that you had no idea I even possessed- hell, *I* had no idea I possessed those abilities- and you turned me into a bona fide spotlight operator. You’re an incredible teacher, mentor, guru, sensai, whatever word you want to use. I could follow you around and listen to you spout technical jargon all day long. Granted, I wouldn’t understand a damn word of it, but by God, once you explain it in English words of five letters or less, I’d do my best to do it and make you proud. I hope I did a good enough lighting job these last three weeks that you actually felt comfortable putting your name on it. And, if you’ll have me, and as long as I can work it out at home, I’d be honored to climb a light tower for you again. Or hang lights. Or run cable. Or all three and then some.

I’m just not ready for that goddamned board yet.

Anyway, Jeff, thank you for giving me the shot and for believing in me. You’re the best. And thank ALL of you, again, for welcoming me into your world.

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“MAX!” ["What?"]

“Call me a taxi!” ["You're a taxi!"]

Today is not a “happy” day, ‘Merkans

May 27, 2013

I’ve made it abundantly clear in the past that there are certain holidays for which I have little to no use- Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, to name three- because they are either ridiculous and unnecessary, and/or have been Americanized (i.e., the reason the day exists has totally been forgotten or ignored, and the day now exists for no other reason than to drink to excess). But folks, we can’t even get our OWN holidays right.

FYI, “Mexican Independence Day” is celebrated on September 16th- IN MEXICO. Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. Neither has anything to do with Corona overindulgence and half-price tequila shots.

[crickets]

Obviously, Independence Day commemorates the day we became a nation independent from the “evil tyranny” of the British empire. (See also: Declaration of Independence.)

Today is Memorial Day. The name should be enough to know why today is a “holiday”, but clearly, people still don’t get it. Memorial Day is not a “happy” holiday. It is a day meant to reflect upon the men and women that gave their lives to protect our freedom. Actually, it was originally a day meant to honor those that lost their lives in the fight to abolish slavery. (Hat tip to my good friend Kelly for that article.) Regardless, wishing people a “happy” Memorial Day is a bit twisted. And to be perfectly honest, thanking the currently serving men and women is incorrect. That is what Veterans Day is for.

But here is the rub.

There shouldn’t even be a Memorial Day OR a Veterans Day. Now before you go bombarding me with curse-riddled comments, hear me out.

I’ve often mentioned how Valentine’s Day is stupid worthless unnecessary, in that one’s love for their significant other should mean no more- nor less- on one day than on any other. And in my mind, if one day IS more special than all others, it should be an anniversary, whether of marriage, of the day the couple met, of the day of their first date, whichever. At any rate, my point is that every day should be “Valentine’s Day”. Exactly the same idea with Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Instead of taking one day to recognize those that lost their lives, and another to recognize those who are currently serving- and, in the process, bastardizing both days into nothing more than a day off from work/cookout/excuse to drink to excess- we should remember the deceased servicemen and women EVERY day and remember that they died for us to be able to get shitfaced and fall into swimming pools and burn hamburger patties. We should shake the hand of a veteran, whether currently serving or discharged, EVERY day. Buy them a coffee. Hell, just say “thank you”. Veterans deserve a hell of a lot more than what they’re receiving, but that’s another post for another time.

But until we can all learn to treat every day as though it were both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, can we at least correctly distinguish between the two? Veterans Day, November 11, is to honor the current, discharged, and retired living servicemen. Today, Memorial Day, is a solemn day to reflect upon the millions of men and women that died in battle protecting our freedom. So stop wishing people a “happy” Memorial Day. Today is not meant to be a “happy” day. Learn how to at least be correctly patriotic.

Oh, and brush up on your knowledge of the actual origins of Memorial Day.

Friday 5

May 10, 2013
tags:

A few weeks ago, while reading other blogs on my RSS reader, one of them posted something from a website called Friday 5. Every Friday, they ask 5 questions and have you post the questions and your answers on your blog as, perhaps, a means of getting discussions started. At any rate, I decided I’d try it myself, so here goes.

My Friday 5 for May 10, 2013.

  • What’s something you know about constellations? Next to nothing. The stories and legends intrigue me, but I’m relatively ignorant about them. I DO know that the Big Dipper and Little Dipper are not constellations unto themselves, but rather are parts of constellations: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, respectively.
  • What’s something you know about bugs? That they are vital to the planet to thrive. Yes, folks, even those !*!&#% mosquitos serve a purpose. Although, I have to say, I’m very appreciative for bats, for they eat thousands and thousands of mosquitos each night. Circle of life and all.
  • What’s something you know about a car’s engine? That they are wonderful until they stop working correctly, and that their care is best left to qualified individuals. I know how to check and add oil, and that’s pretty much about it.
  • What’s something you know about wine or beer? Wine: that the mere smell of it can trigger a massive migraine. Beer: simply that it is the nectar of the gods. I love beer. Not all that long ago I drank nothing but the mass-produced, slightly (and I do mean SLIGHTLY) flavored water that comes out of St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Golden, CO, and viewed people that drank craft beers and micro-brews as “beer snobs”. How wrong I was. Three years or so ago, I finally started trying different brews and styles, and now I am on a mission to try as many different beers and styles as I possibly can. But as far as what I “know” about beer, besides that it tastes good, not much. Other than that hops smell delightful.
  • What’s something you know about the Pacific Ocean? That it is larger than all of the Earth’s land area combined. The ocean has had me captivated since I was a kid. I love everything in and about the ocean: sharks, whales, dolphins, rays, fish, eels, jellyfish, you name it. However, I have a recurring dream that I am out on the ocean, with no land in sight, and it is an absolutely terrifying dream.

How nice that they picked five things about which I possess virtually no knowledge. Luckily, I have Ian and Adam to teach me things. I can never say my kids don’t pay attention in class. Ian spouts off facts and figures about historical events and, especially, science-y things and I’m simply in awe. Most days, Adam (2nd grade) comes home and informs me of something I didn’t know I didn’t know.

Moral of this post: Don’t ever be unwilling to learn. We never stop learning unless we so choose.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes 2013

April 9, 2013

It is that time of year in central Illinois again.

Time for the annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes walk. The walk in which men strap on women’s shoes (REAL men wear high heels!) and literally walk a mile through downtown Springfield, ending up on the steps of the Illinois State Capitol for a rally.

This walk benefits the Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault, an organization that provides assistance to ALL victims of sexual assault- men, women, and children- and seek to prevent sexual violence all together. This year’s walk is Saturday, April 20, 2013.

This is a very good cause that means a lot to me. In today’s economy, I realize there is not much extra money aside for charity donations, but if any of you has even $5 to spare, I’d greatly appreciate anything you can give. My donation page can be found here. If you don’t donate, that’s fine. If you live in the Springfield area, I’d love for you to come out along the route and support me and the rest of the walkers, and then join us all for a party afterward at Donnie’s Homespun at Vinegar Hill Mall on Cook St. in Springfield.

Or, if you live in Springfield and are man enough, get yourself a pair of heels, sign up, and join me.

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