Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Cried Tonight

Usually people cry at weddings. I did not yesterday. I did not think about it at the time, but a little later I guess it came to me that it was a wonderful thing to be witness too and an honor to be invited to share the experience. Jeff and Val's wedding was the second I've been to, but the first I was only a guest at, since I married Amy five years ago. I digress.

We got home and were discussing the schedule Amy got for her job for November and with five years seniority she has Thanksgiving and Christmas off this year. We were talking about who to have over and could we get my mother to come up from Orlando. I had talked to mom yesterday driving back to Jackson from Millington, but we lost signal out there in the cotton fields.

So we called her back tonight and then we got the bad news. One of my mother's cats, one of MY cats died yesterday. While I was in college I brought home three cats over the years that became Mom's when I married and moved out. They were more attached to her and Amy and I had adopted a pair of kittens 3 months before the wedding. So there are Nittany, Rascal, and Jasmine. That's their order in age and the order in which we adopted them. Nittany came from the humane society and was 2 when we got him, as a replacement for Smokey who got feline leukemia and was put down. He's now about 15 or 16 yeaqrs old and is skin and bones and throws up a lot of what he eats, but he has a cool personality and still has a lot of energy to play with Mom's youngest cat, Rusty, who she found outside her office in December, 2000.

Rascal is a problem as he used to weigh about 20 pounds and has lost a lot of weight and poops runny poop all over Mom's house. He has no diagnosis, but obviously has a problem. Mom has talked about having him put down in order to save the value of her house, but it is hard when you have loved this big fluffy thing for 11 or 12 years, as he is that old because I got him from a co-worker when I was a driver for Pizza Hut. I expected him to be first, out of mercy if not Nittany out of old age.

Jasmine is the one who was put down yesterday. She was never a very sociable cat, but she was pretty to look at with a blended patchwork of orange, black, and white. She's the only cat my Mom never had declawed because she found out about the process right about the time I brought her home from the Humane Society. I remember doing it on a whim and lying to Mom that they had called and asked if we would take another cat due to overcrowding. Jasmine was loyal to Mom and would sleep with her each night and during the day Jasmine would nap on Mom's pillows or under the covers of the made bed at the base of the pillows. This Friday, Mom noticed she was listless and sitting on the floor in the open of the living room which was out of character. As Mom works, she hadn't been home to see Jasmine eat or not eat, and she brought her water and discovered she had lost a lot of weight. Saturday morning Mom found Jasmine hanging from the bedspread, her claws stuck as she had not had the strength to pull herself up on to the bed. Mom called and took her to the vet and held her for over an hour while they ran tests. Evidence pointed to cancer which had caused kidney failure. One radical treatment was available, but the vet had only seen it succeed one time in her career. Jasmine never liked to be held or touched unless it was on her own terms. She purred a bit while Mom held her that hour and never fidgeted, and here I am in tears again as I recount this story, hoping it will be therapeutic to share, and thankful for God allowing us to enjoy the companionship of domesticated animals, but sorrowful for the emotions we feel when we lose one like this. I don't even have a working scanner to be able to find and post a picture.

Home Again

Well, it's 6:45pm in Atlanta and we are home from the event of the year, the Howell/Rushing wedding in Millington, TN. Special thanks to those who made it possible, Jeff and Val, the happy couple. Sarah Barnett for providing the place to crash in Jackson, TN (and the movies and the rum). Jenny and Kevin Hinton for the opportunity to see Leeann Brigman and her kids as we lunched at the Hinton's before the wedding. By the way, the Hinton's are Christians and they pray before their meals so be careful not to be on the fourth bite of your sandwich when you realize this factoid.

We had a good drive home, having left Jackson at 11am Atlanta time and getting to the Red Lobster in Kennesaw for Endless Shrimp at 5pm Atlanta time. This included stopping for about a half an hour outside Chattanooga to see my father who was driving NW as we were heading SE and happened to cross paths. He had some ideas to offer for the name of our coming daughter including Diana, Alexandra, Sarah and Maria.

Not much is planned other than work tomorrow through Wednesady and then Friday and Saturday. We need to go buy Halloween candy tomorrow and we have our first visit with our social worker for the adoption on Thursay night and we have to find a new place to play trivia for when Jeff and Val get back from Jamaica. Click on the title of this post and it will get you to some pictures from the wedding.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The 1980 World Series, Phillies over the Royals in 6 Games

Let me put things in perspective and a small bit more of the story.

We won two tickets. My father drove us to Philadelphia and let us out in front of Veteran's Stadium (now gone). This was 1980, so the risk and mindset of a 9 and 12 year old on their own in the crowd was not a big problem. Peter and I went in to enjoy the game and Dad went to a bar to watch it, returning to pick us up after the game. (this was also the time in America where kids had free reign to roam the entire town on Halloween without fear of how many sexual predators lived in the zip code or who would poison our candy)

In perspective, I was 9 and a half. I still remember the starting line-up of that team 26 years ago. I can't tell you half the names of the starters for the Atalnta Braves (where I now live).

1b - Pete Rose (gambling aside, his play merits Hall of Fame residence)
2b - Manny Trillo
SS - Larry "boom boom" Bowa (been employed twice more as a coch and manager)
3b - Michael Jack "Mike" Schmidt - best third baseman ever and a member of the 500 HR club. He retired when his game dropped off, though he could have stayed on 5 more years and pushed his numbers, classy guy)
RF - "Shake and" Bake McBride
CF - GAry Maddox - Multiple Gold Glove Winner - The Mighty Burner
LF - Greg Luzinski - The Mighty Pole (as in Pollak)
C - Tim McCarver and Bob Boone shared the duties
P - the satr was "Lefty" - Steve Carlton, who did not like the press
P - the ace reliever - daddy to Tim, dad-in-law to Faith, it's Tug McGraw, sadly died of cancer a few years ago, but not before establishing a great relationship with his son and grandbabies.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thursday Thirteen 10/26/06

Thirteen Things about Michael

Thirteen Random Memories from my Childhood

1. September 1980 - Having moved that summer from Coatesville, PA to Hatfield, PA, my brother Peter and I each worked on a paper route and won a contest for getting new customers. Our prize was 2 tickets to game 2 of the WORLD SERIES! For a 9 and 12 year old to get to see their hometown (Philadelphia) team in a world series was just an awesome Americana moment. Where was Norman Rockwell when we needed him?

2. Summer 1976 - My father was on the city council in Coatesville and eventually becmae a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention. As a result, I have a clear memory of meeting then Gov. Jimmy Carter just months before he was elected. I also remember about 4 years later my father becoming a Republican after Carter's order to rescue the American hostages in Iran lead to the deaths of many special forces troops who died due to poor intelligence.

3. February 1985 - My first concert, I went with Peter to see Hall & Oates on the Big Bam Boom Tour at the Omni in Atlanta. It was a 14th birthday present for me.

4. December, 1977 - I remember being woken up in the middle of the night and taken to my cousins house because my mother was having a baby, my brother Tim. Peter and I went to school the next day and the principal announced it was now the My Three Sons for the Christopher Family.

5. Summer, 1976 - I have a picture from the Coatesville Record of me watching another student and his mom sweeping up glass that was on our playground. Mom was President of the PTA and organized a clean-up for the beginning of the school year.

6. Summer 1980 to Summer 1982 - Video Games. That's where the money from the paper route went. Some to the PacMan and Asteroids at the 7-11 near the town pool, some to the arcade near the Clemon's Supermarket in Lansdale, and a lot to cartridges for our Atari 2600; Pitfall, Freeway, PacMan, Defender....

7. 1983-1984 - 7th grade in school. As Dekalb Co. GA then had K-7 and 8-12 for the schools, seventh grade was considerted integral for our social development so much that I got in trouble for bringing a novel with me to the lunch room because I was supposed to be talking with classmates and not developing my intellect by reading.

8. 1976-1980 - Allergy shots. We had a small medical office across the street from our house in Coatesville. I used ot have to go once every two weeks for a shot. it was also convenient because I was able to go for help when I lodged a piece of screen door window in my finger after putting my fist through it because Peter had locked me out of the house.

9. 1976-1980 - Outside play - We had a 2 story brick house and in the side yard it was great for throwing a baseball against the wall to bounce off and catch. We also played baseball with a tennis ball in the grass parking lot behind the funeral home and went sledding in the side yard of Mr. Harley who had some extra land two doors down from us.

10. 1980-1982 - Super Minnow! In Hatfield there was a nearby creek and we would go fishing with friends. We never caught anything big, some perch, some sunfish, the odd eel, but mostly minnows which we would leave on the hook, cast downstream, and reel in as fast as possible so they would speed along skimming the surface of the water.

11. Spring, 1982 - Fire. Our best friend was John Short, who lived across the street from us. His house was hit by lightning and burned badly. We were about to move to Georgia, so the Shorts rented our house while it was on the market to sell and while waiting for thier house to be repaired. They later moved back to Elkton, MD and we lost track of them. It was the second house of theirs to get hit by lightning.

12. 1976 to 1982 - Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts - My father was in the special forces in Vietnam which made for a "different" experience with him as our scout master. While other kids slept in store-bought tents and cooked on Coleman grills, we slept in tents made from two ponchos that snapped together and ate military C-Rations. A LONG cry from today's MREs.

13. 1976 to 1980 - Teti's and Cavuto's, Santi's, Al the Barber, and Drey's. Mr. Teti (tee-tie) had a general store/pharmacy on main street in Coatesville that had an actual penny candy counter with things like tootsie rolls, swedish fish, and other sold by the piece candy. Cavuto's was the town bakery where just about every cake came from and every Saturday after delivering papers Peter or I would bring home donuts (fresh glazed, a Northern Krispy Kreme if you would). Santi's was an actual family-owned pharmacy with general shopping and a soda fountain coupled with a florist. Al was our family barber, a neat Italian guy. I remember once we went in, Dad, Peter, and I and he joked he had to call his wife and tell her to order the roast from the market because the Christopher's had come in for haircuts. Finally, Drey's. The last time I was in Coatesville, October, 2000 it was still there at 8th and Main selling awesome Philly cheesesteaks and Tastykakes.

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What I do for Chick-fil-a

Since Steven M Russell asked...

I am a manager (in general). Most stores have a General Manager in addition to an Owner/Operator. My owner/operator has a team management approach where we all have certain responsibilities in addition to the general task of running the store to the best of our abilities making sure the quality of the food and the experience exceeds the guests' expectations.

I am currently in charge of the Accounts Payable and Catering business we do. Other things that rotate include inventory and truck orders, kitchen supervision, and maintenance of the facility.

Now, as I hope to one day be an operator myself, I am doing all the extras that I can in order to be noticed by those at home office who will need to know me. I have been a Grand Opening Trainer for 4 units (travelling) to these units to help for 1-2 weeks as we model the behavior and teach new employees the Chick-fil-a way. I have been to Fredericksburg, VA, St. Petersburg, FL (this was the first store operated by a grandson of founder S. Truett Cathy), Owasso, OK, and now Madison, GA.

In late November I will likely be working a grand opening in Oklahoma City, OK but as a marketing grand opener rather than a grand opening trainer in operations.

I will also likely work the 1st Chick-fil-a Bowl on December 30 at the Georgia Dome (formerly, or formally if you are in Jeff Rushing's wedding announcement) the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, where last year I won 1st place in sandwiches sold during the Fanfest and came in third on my floor (as well as third overall) in sales in the dome during the game.

I have a degree in Communications (Advertising/Public Relations) and that should be a helpful tool as I continue to learn and do for the 2nd highest volume chicken chain in the USA (and we're closed on one of the 3 highest revenue-producing days!)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oooooooooooooooklahoma where the wind comes something on the plains

OKay, not much going on today, but I might be heading to Oklahoma in two weeks for another Chick-fil-a grand opening, in Stillwater (maybe get to go to Eskimo Joe's, seen the t-shirts). This would be different and important because it would be to work marketing rather than operations.

Also, called my friend Matt today (from my days with Family Christian Stores) and he says the new Newsboys album (street date 10/31/2006) is GREAT!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bad News, Good News, and Something to Mitigate the Bad News

Bad News - the days of battling the Old People are over. We received an email from Patrick today announcing his receipt of a phone call to tell him that his venues for Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelling trivia affective today, so no more Tijuana Joes in Roswell or Alpharetta. He says they cited budget cuts.

Good News - Babies, babies everywhere - My friend April (closest thing I'll ever have to a sister) IM'd me this evening mildly upset about not seeing me online in a week to announce that her daughter Rachel is going to be a big sister in May! Congratulations Charles and April. In addition to that, her brother Eric and his wife are expecting about two weeks before them. Also, Mike and Kristy, two more friends of mine from college are due in mid December, They are having a girl and Kristy is 33 weeks right now. Also, our trivia friends the Hough's had their baby girl Emily a week ago today.

Mitigating facts to offset the bad news - Patrick still has one weekly venue, a sister restaurant to Tijuana Joe's called Mexico Lindo and it is about 5 miles (if that far) from the new home of Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Rushing, so it could be the Thursday night option (being the ONLY option) may be the way to continue the legacy with Jobu (still needing a refill).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Casting Crowns

Something to think about and enjoy.

$5 and 2 hours wasted

So this morning I woke up at 4:30am to start the bread machine and again at 7:30 to be ready to make breakfast for my returning Amy. It really didn't pan out as I waited for her to get home fearing she might bring breakfast and then we'd have two, so I waited and she got home and she went more or less straight to bed.

I read the paper and watched some television. I started some laundry, took a shower and went out to waste some time and money going to an 11:25am showing of The Marine. It sucked. PLus it didn't actually begin until 11:45 after the previews.

Don't wait for DVD or the dollar theatre, save your time and your money.

On the way home I did some grocery shopping for the next 4 days and filled Amy's car with gas for her.

Tonight : crabmeat stuffed tialapia and bay scallops with broccoli and 4 cheese risotto.

Tomorrow : spaghetti with garden salad and Texas toast.

Tuesday : Trivia and dinner at Tijuana Joe's

Wednesday : Beef roast with red potatos, baby carrots, onions and muchrooms done crock-pot tender by Amy.

Thursday: leftovers or something simple because Friday and Saturday we'll be on the road.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Taco Bell Express - Not

So, in Madison, GA there is no Papa Johns (20 miles away), there is a Domino's but they put you on hold forever and then hang up, and the button on the hotel phone marked Pizza Delivery rings a Pizza Hut that does not deliver.

So not wanting to leave the hotel, but having no choice, I don a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and prepare to hit a drive-thru. Alas, my sneakers are in my gym bag which is in the Jeep because I took casual stuff to work in case I needed to be COW again. SO I grab the work shoes and go sockless (a weird feeling for a normally socked guy).

The easiest looking thing is across the street on the same side of the INterstate I am on, it's a TravelAmerica truckstop with a diner, Popeyes, and Taco Bell in it. So I drive across the street and go inside (ther's no drive thru) to the fastfood counter. The menu at Taco Bell Express is about 1/3 that of a standard Taco Bell, and the prices are about 50% higher. The odd part is the name Express which implies speed, yet it took longer to get an order composed from a simpler-to-assemble menu than the standard Taco Bell than it takes in the drive-thru OF a standard Taco Bell. Sigh.

So I overbought (as Amy does at Taco Bell), sacrificed my good parking spot at the hotel and returned to my room with a chicken quesadila, 4 hard tacos and 2 bean burittos to find nothing of interest on TV other than a 2 hour Dateline NBC special (airing on the USA Network and not renamed Dateline USA) where once again they got 20-30 sickos ranging from 20-45 years old looking for sex with a 13 year old girl. I turn it off to come down and check email and in the process see the Atlanta news that John Mark Karr (the sicko who said he was with Jonbenet Ramsey) has moved back to Atlanta to live with his dad and the parents of all the kids in the local area can do nothing about it.

Anyone wanna form a commune with safety from the outside world and nothing but trivia, video games, 80's music and 80's movies while we await the Rapture? Or would that commune signify the rapture? Or is this the Taco Bell talking. Time for bed, up in 6.5 hours for Day 3 of Chick-fil-a in Madison, GA!

Rsponses to recent comments


Yeah, it's tough to support the Phillies, but I grew up there and I have been with them for all these years. Besdies, you can't like the Braves. All they do is take up perfectly good playoff spots.


She's a nurse on the night shift, so she gets paid a lot of money to fight off boredom by reading blogs and doing things to "cheat" in her terms to get people to read hers!


Since you asked, Mike "MacDaddy" McNamara gave me the name Valtool. In my early days online ('93-'94) I was a new fan of Les Miserables and used the screen name Valjean on a number of sites. Mike was an online friend from the Debbie Gibson International Fanclub who had created the Tool Party, an online political party centered around guystuff, sports, beer, buffalo wings etcetera. He was MacTool, his frine Rob Polansky was PoTool, and I was ValTool. They campaigned as presidential and vice presidential candidates for the purpose of annoying our online community and I was the Party Press Secretary and Social Representative which meant I was in charge of communication and party arrangements. There was the DebCon of '96, and the FL State/Clemson roadtrip tour through Florida in '97. Mike wound up as one of my groomsmen when I got married in 2001 and became most-likely to not make it home from the rehearsal dinner in one piece.


Amy and I both like Grey's Anatomy. We tried taping it in the first season but never got around to them, so we have been watcing the DVDs and trying to get Amy caught up on LOST at the same time. As it is, we have about 20 episodes of each to be caught up and neither of us have watched any of season three of either show as we have had very little time together for TV in the past 2 weeks.

Amy Drops the "B-Bomb"

In this media-crazed world in which saying the wrong word will get you villified for "dropping the F Bomb," my wife has jumped online and created the B Bomb, the Blog Bomb which is ill-advised to use on someone who might not blog daily, or even weekly. asically, without telling me, she did some very effective (and appreciated) marketing for my blog and the result is a lot of people finally reading and commenting on my musings, which, for the most part, are meant to entertain and invoke response. It does not work that much.

So, as it is, I am out of town. I left on Monfay to ead to a small town in East Georgia, Madison to be exact. Here I am spending a week and a half helping to train employees and perform other duties at the grand opening of a new Chick-fil-a! Yeah!

I have helped team members learn the register, I have made lemonade, I have run errands like making keys and buying and wiring outdoor lights, I have taken out trash, I have taken a lot of photos and allowed others to use my camera (thank you Amy) to take pictures for the grand opening, and most fun of all, I have been COW. Not a cow or the cow, I am COW. I have received many, many compliments and I can thank GA Tech because I attribute my COW success to wanting to be like the much-loved Buzz, the Georgia Tech Yellowjacket mascot.

I'll be here til next Thursday (so likely no TT) and then I have to go to some wedding or something.