Thursday, November 25, 2004

As Expected

I got a phone call at 8:45 this morning to inform me that my medical certificate was being pulled pending a review of my condition. I was expecting that to happen but maybe not so quickly. It's a bit odd going back into the control room and having to explain to those I work with that I can't plug in and work traffic with them. Everyone is very respectful of my privacy but I know they're curious as to why I've lost my medical. I've gone into some detail with a few and expect the word will filter down to the rest.

I came into work tonight on the mid-shift. There isn't much for me to do so I put up some new nav charts which go into effect tonight. I had to I'm putting up the charts, John is coughing so bad he can barely get his composure to give clearances to the planes on freq. And I'm the one who isn't fit to work traffic?

I came home from work and finished putting up Christmas lights outside. They look nice. As I was working on them last night Rachel came out to have a look. "Oh, pretty," she said. That's all I needed to hear to make the whole effort worthwhile.

I think I'll go find a couch and catch a couple hours of sleep. I'd like to get out on a ride tomorrow before heading over to Moms for dinner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Real Waiting

I had my meeting yesterday afternoon and it went about how I thought it might. Garry couldn't say much but did say that decisions would be made outside of our facility and it is most likely out of his hands. No doubt he will have some input but just how much I have no way of knowing. He did mention that I will most likely lose my medical and will be assigned other duties until I get it back. I'm relieved but I'm still concerned about my future. The tension between management and workers is at an all-time high for the nearly 23 years I've been doing my job.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Waiting

Tomorrow is an important day for me and my family. It's the day I disclose at work my headache condition and leave myself totally exposed for whatever repercussions management may have for me. I'd first mentioned the headaches on my physical in the mid-'80s. They asked for specifics and I told them whatever I felt would help them to understand the headaches and how I coped with them. There wasn't any medication then that I was aware of (none of my doctors thought to prescribe prednisone for me). It's probably more the use of medication the past several cycles and my failure to disclose that than the failure to mention the headaches on subsequent physicals which will cause me problems. I met with my union president this afternoon and we discussed a bit about how we'll approach Garry with this news tomorrow. Garry is the number 2 man at our facility and we've known each other for nearly 20 years. I'm somewhat confident Garry will go to bat for me but I'm afraid this whole issue will quickly be elevated out of his hands and into the hands of somebody who doesn't know me.

I've been working with a Flight Surgeon out of Colorado the past few months in an attempt to try and gain immunity for me from the FAA but we've gotten nowhere. The FAA isn't interested in granting amnesty/immunity to anyone because they fear the precedent it may set. I somewhat understand that but at the same time they're in effect forcing many people like myself to remain underground and that's not a good thing.

I considered remaining underground for the remainder of my career but should my condition be found out by means other than me disclosing it I would likely be fired with no grounds for appeal. That simply isn't an option anymore—not that it ever was. It's a different FAA today than it was 5 years ago. There is no love between controllers and management and I don't think I could've picked a worse time to try and resolve this.

Anyway, that's what's been on my mind for 90% of my waking moments for the last few months. I really have to get this situation resolved and tomorrow is a big step in that direction. I lay at the mercy of the FAA courts and hope that they will find some compassion within them and direct it my way.

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Last Warm day?

I'm afraid yesterday may have been our last warm day of the year. The temp got up into the upper 60s. I started doing some yard work and then I figured that was pretty stupid with my bike begging me to ride. I had a good ride. The wind was pretty stiff out of the west so I headed out 169 south toward Shakopee. I crossed the Minnesota River a couple miles north of where I usually do on the bike path in Bloomington. I picked up Old Shakopee Rd and followed that to where it turns into Homeward Hills Rd. There's a nice hill which was registering 7-8% and had my heart rate pegged for a time. There was a car behind me not wanting to pass and I was trying to keep the speed up. It felt so good to be working so hard and feeling fine. The feeling you get when your heart is beating so hard must be an addictive thing. I have to have it and I get anxious if I haven't experienced it in a while. That's usually not a problem for me. I picked up Flying Cloud Dr and followed that past the airport and took that to whatever the road is which I took back across the river to pick up Hwy 169. As I was crossing the river I spotted another rider at least a half-mile up ahead. I worked hard and managed to catch him just before he turned off.

Dan called me on my cell while I was riding to say that neither he nor John are happy with the way the arches are looking in the basement. They want to meet with me tomorrow and discuss a different solution. Tammy and I talked about a couple of options and this morning I drew up a design which I think gives it a nice look. I talked with Tammy on the phone tonight and she likes it too. I'll show Dan tomorrow and see what he thinks.

Friday, November 5, 2004

22 Years Ago, Carla and Nate Anderson

I got on the road this morning at 8:30 and headed into Minneapolis to stop at a lighting store which I didn't know if it even existed anymore. I came up Lyndale and turned right on Lake Street but didn't find it. I circled back and headed west toward the other side of Lyndale. Sure enough, there it was just before Colfax—Moen Electric, just as I remembered it the last time I was there about 8 years ago. I needed to buy a canopy and some fixture parts for the lamp we're making which will go above the pool table in our basement. I got there at 9:00 but they didn't open till 10:00 so I took a drive and headed toward where Noy and I used to live together 22 years ago. It was a little sad to see the house again as it hasn't been kept up well. The wood trim needs paint and it looked like the front porch was sagging and in need of maintenance. I got out and stood at the fence looking into the back yard and shot a photo looking toward the back of the house and the garage. I reminisced about the days I lived there and how fast the time has gone. It wasn't until I was walking away that I noticed the house next door was gone. Carla and Nate Anderson lived there and had it looking so nice. Nate was a natural when it came to home improvement stuff and he put a lot of time into his home. They were such good, Christian people. I know it was their prayers which brought Noy and me together all those years ago. I remember going with Noy and their family to their church in South Minneapolis. I can still hear Nate's booming voice singing so clearly above all the others. They left for a home in the country up toward Duluth sometime around '83 or '84 and I never heard from them again. I was always hoping to take a trip up there and see how they were but I never did. I'm sure they would be sad to hear that Noy and I are no longer together. They had a daughter, Naomi, who would be in her late 20s. I wonder how she's doing?

I drove back toward Moen Electric and stopped at a light on Lake St and Park ave. There were 3 brothers on the corner just as there were on nearly all the street corners. I glanced over toward them and in an instant, one of them made eye contact with me. I don't want to jump to conclusions but I'm sure they get good at picking up on people in search of what they sell. Sorry, I'm not looking. I used to walk my old dog, Sparky, along those streets at night never worrying about trouble. I'd never do that today—it's a much different world and I don't belong there.

I got the stuff for my light and headed for home. Ran downstairs to see how John and Dan were doing then I took the pups for a quick walk before work which is where I am now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Election Day 2004

Tammy got us four tickets to see President Bush last Saturday at the Target Center. We began our day early as we headed out at me, that's early on a Saturday for us. We caught the light rail at the VA center and took it into Minneapolis where it dropped us off within a block of the Target Center. The train tickets were reasonable at $3 each for a round trip. I'm not sure I like the way it works though; it's on the honor system and there is absolutely nobody to check and see if you paid. By December the light rail will run all the way to the Mall of America and what's to stop anyone from jumping on the train and not paying. Maybe this would have worked 30 years ago in a different town but not today the way it's set up.

We got to the Target Center around 10:00am. Large crowds don't do much for me but I was enthused to see such a large turnout so early in the morning. The lines were over 3 blocks long outside. Theresa (Tammy's sister) noticed that there were also people waiting in the skyway above to get in. We opted for the warmth of the skyway and I think a much shorter line. After 45 minutes the lines began to move. We had to pass through security similar to what you would find at the airport. Theresa had to leave her fingernail file behind as that was a no-no. We found some nice seats just above the main floor. It was actually nice to be among so many Bush supporters. The one thing which struck me and kept coming back to me, again and again, was the diversity of the crowd. It wasn't a bunch of middle-age white guys in suits. There were so many young people who gave me a lift to see. I'd like to have seen more people of color but still, there were many. Rachel was pretty psyched to see the president.

We had to wait a few hours before he made his appearance. He wasn't expected to speak until 1:30 but we had to wait until 2:00 as he was running a bit behind. The crowd was there for him and I doubt there were many undecided voters there.

When he finally took the stage he spoke for 45 minutes. Rachel had the great idea to stop into the public services office earlier and get earplugs for us. They came in handy as it got quite loud at times. There isn't really much new being said at this late stage of the campaign and today offered nothing I hadn't already heard. Still, being there and sharing that with family is something I'll never forget. Here's a panoramic view I stitched together taken from our seats.

As we were leaving the rally there were very vocal Kerry supporters lining the street across from the Target Center. It didn't take but a moment to notice them and you could tell that they weren't happy with us or President Bush being there. We gave them the thumbs down signal and shouted back at them as they shouted at us. As it turned out we walked the wrong way for a block and had to double back in the direction of the protesters. We approached them from behind and when we got right next to them I yelled 'Hey everybody, how about a big cheer for President Bush? Four more years, four more years!' Several of them quickly converged on me and I went toe to toe with them. We were all shouting our support for our man and it went on for several minutes. One guy, in particular, got right in my face and I reached forward to blow him a kiss and decided that a photo of him would be nice for the archives...

I departed the area with a big grin on my face but that was mostly because of Rachel. As I was confronting and being confronted she went running by me yelling 'Hey everybody, I'm a right-wing nut job!' It was the funniest moment of the day and one I'll never forget. We jumped back on the light rail and headed south out of the city.

I noticed a couple Kerry supporters on the train and I felt a bit bad for them as they were surrounded by people who don't think very highly of their man. It was all friendly though and nobody had any cause for concern. We all enjoyed our little road trip and got home around 4:00pm. It's going to be an interesting Tuesday night. Let's all say a prayer that God will guide whoever is elected to do what is right and give him the wisdom to know.

I wrote the above for our family forum a few days ago. Now to today...I stopped by our church, Hosanna, to vote after getting off work this afternoon. There was no line to speak of and I was in and out in just over 5 minutes. I'm growing a bit weary of all the politics and I'll be very glad to have this election over with.