Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25: The Council of Elrond

October 25

The Council of Elrond. The fate of the One Ring is determined! (My favorite chapter in the 'Fellowship of the Ring.')

"`And after these words Isildur described the Ring, such as he found it.

'It was hot when I first took it, hot as a glede, and my hand was scorched, so that I doubt if ever again I shall be free of the pain of it. Yet even as I write it is cooled, and it seemeth to shrink, though it loseth neither its beauty nor its shape. Already the writing upon it, which at first was as clear as red flame, fadeth and is now only barely to be read. It is fashioned in an elven-script of Eregion, for they have no letters in Mordor for such subtle work; but the language is unknown to me. I deem it to be a tongue of the Black Land, since it is foul and uncouth. What evil it saith I do not know; but I trace here a copy of it, lest it fade beyond recall. The Ring misseth, maybe, the heat of Sauron's hand, which was black and yet burned like fire, and so Gil-galad was destroyed; and maybe were the gold made hot again, the writing would be refreshed. But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.'

'When I read these words, my quest was ended. For the traced writing was indeed as Isildur guessed, in the tongue of Mordor and the servants of the Tower. And what was said therein was already known. For in the day that Sauron first put on the One, Celebrimbor, maker of the Three, was aware of him, and from afar he heard him speak these words, and so his evil purposes were revealed...

...`And if that is not proof enough, Galdor, there is the other test that I spoke of. Upon this very ring which you have here seen held aloft, round and unadorned, the letters that Isildur reported may still be read, if one has the strength of will to set the golden thing in the fire a while. That I have done, and this I have read:

'Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi
krimpatul.'


The change in the wizard's voice was astounding. Suddenly it became menacing, powerful, harsh as stone. A shadow seemed to pass over the high sun, and the porch for a moment grew dark. All trembled, and the Elves stopped their ears.

`Never before has any voice dared to utter the words of that tongue in Imladris, Gandalf the Grey,' said Elrond, as the shadow passed and the company breathed once more.

`And let us hope that none will ever speak it here again,' answered Gandalf. `Nonetheless I do not ask your pardon, Master Elrond. For if that tongue is not soon to be heard in every corner of the West, then let all put doubt aside that this thing is indeed what the Wise have declared: the treasure of the Enemy, fraught with all his malice; and in it lies a great part of his strength of old. Out of the Black Years come the words that the Smiths of Eregion heard, and knew that they had been betrayed:

'One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them.'" The Council of Elrond, Book II Chapter II.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24: Healing

October 24

"Lasto beth nîn. Tolo dan na ngalad." Frodo wakes in the House of Elrond.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22: Frodo passes out

October 22

Frodo blacks out. "With his last failing senses Frodo heard cries, and it seemed to him that he saw, beyond the Riders that hesitated on the shore, a shining figure of white light; and behind it ran small shadowy forms waving flames, that flared red in the grey mist that was falling over the world. The black horses were filled with madness, and leaping forward in terror they bore their riders into the rushing flood. Their piercing cries were drowned in the roaring of the river as it carried them away. Then Frodo felt himself falling, and the roaring and confusion seemed to rise and engulf him together with his enemies. He heard and saw no more." Book I; Chapter XII.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 13: #!/bin/bash\declare birthday


Ten-Thirteen 1973


21:29: I was born in Wilmington NC at New Hanover Memorial Hospital.  For some reason, I don't remember it, just some stories about a Bridge being up or down near Southport en route to the hospital, lol!

"Aragorn, Frodo and the Hobbits safely cross the Bridge of Mitheithel."

Meanwhile, on that same night...
22:56: "The Alien Colonists and the Syndicate form an Alliance and Truce at El Rico Airbase.  The 'Cigarette Smoking Man' forges the alliance with the American Flag.  Each member in the Syndicate (former members of the State Dept) pledge one of their offspring to the Alien Colonists.  Bill Mulder originally had Fox Mulder in mind, but later, his daughter, Samantha was chosen for the pledge." [X-Files, Episode 6x12, "One Son"]

X-Files -- Episode 6x12 "One Son"

A CONTRAST IN 2011 AND 2012

Last year, I was fired from a job and I admittedly "hit the bottle" that night and drank myself to an inebriated sleep.  I spent my entire birthday sleeping all day.  Around 4pm, I finally got up when my Mom called me to wish me happy birthday.  It was probably the worst birthday I ever had.  I never told my Mom, but now that it's public in the blog, SORRY MOM!  And, just to add here publicly, I'm NOT an alcoholic!

 
"ERIC FAILING DELETIONS"

«   »

Крокодилье время.
Даже если крокодил съел вас у вас есть два выхода.

This year, I started the first two weeks of October with Job Training in Canton OH.  It was very tough, but I got through it and passed the training on October 12 with a 91%.  After checking out of the Hotel, I drove back to my folks place in Hinckley OH and stayed the weekend there.

Diebold Education Center (DEC)

Friday night, Todd Florian took me Downtown Cleveland to the Lake Erie Monsters game in which they won against the Oklahoma Barons 2-1.  My hat is off to Todd for mustering the courage and task of driving Downtown, although I helped navigate him on I-490.  "I feel like I'm going to Broadvox!" I told him, since that was the way I went into work at the time.  I must say, but it felt awfully weird getting off at E.14th Street and passing the Halle Building!

Quicken Loans Arena


 
Lake Erie Monsters Game: Part I
Lake Erie Monsters vs. Oklahoma Barons at Quicken Loans Arena.

 Lake Erie Monsters Game: Part IV
Lake Erie Monsters vs. Oklahoma Barons at Quicken Loans Arena.

The game was lots of fun, including some of the fights that broke out between the two teams.  I learned what "Icing" was as well.  I'm not usually a big fan of hockey, but something about sitting in the Second Row behind the action made it all worth while and enjoyable.  The people behind us were true diehard hockey fans and regular season ticket holders.  As enjoyable as the game was, I still think the Half-Time show tops is all!  How can a guy pass up cheerleaders?


 Lake Erie Monsters Game: Cheerleaders
Lake Erie Monsters vs. Oklahoma Barons at Quicken Loans Arena.

Saturday afternoon, I took a nice walk at Hinckley Lake, walking part of the Buckeye Trail and the Loop drive back up the All-Purpose Trail and Boathouse.


When I got back to my Mom and Dad's, my Mom made a very delicious Birthday dinner for me.  We had Wine and toasted to health, family and success!  Mom's cooking is always good to come back to when your stomach misses it!  Before heading out for the night, my folks talked about coming to visit me in Chicago for Thanksgiving.  Let's hope the weather is friendly.  I told them that when I was in Chicago in January, it gets REALLY cold and windy between the buildings.  It was also nice to hear Mom tell me the famous story about my birth, which is always a nice treat.  MOM: "Yeah, I was hoping that bridge [into Wilmington] would be down the whole time on the way to the Hospital," and the story about Dad cleaning the AC and being all dirty.

Saturday night, Todd drove us all up to Bar Code on State Road and Pleasant Valley Road in Parma OH to celebrate the night.  It was good to hang out with Crystal Bogdan and Dena Brockwell!  We enjoyed some drinks and company.  Thank you for celebrating my birthday this year.  I had a great weekend with you all.  It was fortunate to be out on business in Ohio around that time, so I could linger afterwards and celebrate with some Ohio folk!  I was hoping Jackie LaPonza would be there to autograph my copy of Revolver Magazine, buuuut maybe next time I visit.

Jackie LaPonza #25 "Hottest Chicks" in Revolver

Bar Code


Crystal, Dena and I.


Dena and I.


Crystal, Todd and Dena.

I even got a special birthday card from Crystal and her "bird troupe."




On Sunday, before driving home, Crystal took me out to see her beautiful horse, Lovenote aka Snoot.  I also visited Joanne Svoboda's horse, Dillon!   It was a beautiful, Autumnous day.  Lovenote let me brush her.  She wasn't fond of the vitamins though.  Luckily, Crystal "tainted" them with a peppermint flavor to get her to eat them.  Dillon was a beautiful horse as well.  Thank you, Joanne for the new friend!

After visiting the horses, Crystal took me over to Worden's Ledges near Ledge Lake on the Fall Festival Tour around Medina County.  The Wordens were one of the first families to settle in Hinckley Township.  The event included a nice tour of the Worden homestead and some historical artifacts of that century like the Civil War.  It's amazing (to me at least) how awesome something is preserved through the years and kept today...preserved in a case even.  Just seeing it displayed behind glass gives you the chills (me at least).  So much history behind those artifacts!

Hinckley Township

There was no check-in for Worden's Ledges. Ledge Lake was the closest. 

Joanne and Dillon.

 This was the first time Lovenote wasn't photogenic for me. She was a hungered instead.

Pole Arms and Bayonets from the Civil War at the Worden's Homestead

Civil War Artifacts: Uniform Buttons and a Bullet Mould Maker

Nature Walk of Worden's Ledges -- Ledge Road. Crystal on the right.

"Do you mind!? We're busy here chewing a fence!"

After the tour, I packed the car and headed home.   Thank you for the great birthday to my folks and Ohio friends!  This will be a year to remember with you all!  I had a boastfully boisterous and better birthday bash this year!

Westgate Toll Plaza - Ohio Turnpike




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Mark 0, 0, 0, 0. The last 0 is for the time parameter
Keeping a train of thought and keeping on track.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 18: Frodo meets Glorfindel

October 18

Gandalf reaches Rivendell early. At dusk, Aragorn and the Hobbits encounter Glorfindel.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Keeping a train of thought and keeping on track.

"...next stop, Westmont!"

Westmont Train Station - 1 W Quincy Street.

LEONARD: Three of us voted for airplane. Sheldon voted for train, so we're taking the train. 
SHELDON: Don't say it like that, Leonard, say it like: we're taking the train!
[Big Bang Theory: Episode 2x17 "The Terminator Coupling."]


Metra - Westmont


"Confucious say; he who high fives oncoming train make good impression on track."

THE VILLAGE OF WESTMONT

The Village of Westmont is an incorporated area of Downers Grove Township.  Downers Grove lies west. To the east is Clarendon Hills (another incorporated area of Downers Grove).Westmont  is north of the city of Darien.


The Town Center of Westmont - Quincy Street and Cass Avenue

THE METRA SYSTEM

The Metra System is a commuter rail which services the Chicago and Chicagoland Area.  It is part of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority).  The availability of this method of transportation has made travelling downtown very accessible and zen-like.  There is no hassle spending hours on the expressways.  You drive to the train stop, park, and get on a train.


 
 Zone D Ticket (Back and front)
 
Depending on which zone you catch the train, the price is reasonable.  The Zones start with A being closest to downtown and go to Zone E being the farthest out.  The train I catch is the BNSF in Zone D (Burlington North Sante Fe).  I catch the train at Westmont (1 W Quincy Street).  It is 5 miles from home and an easy 10-15 minute drive up Cass Avenue through Darien.

BNSF Train Schedule

At the train stop, pay attention to the lobby hours if you want to purchase a ticket.  They are usually 5am - 1pm on weekdays, so there are various ways to purchase a ticket.  You have the one ride option which is $9.25 (buy two for a return trip).  You can purchase the 10 day ride for $43.00, which is usually the one I pick.  You also have a Monthly Pass.  The trains are efficient and most always on time, unless there is track maintenance or action at the switchtracks.  Bring a book to read, bring your MP3 player, computer, or whatever, and relax!  Here are a few tips to take with you when catching the train.

TRAIN CATCHING TIPS!
  • Always Arrive Early!  There is no doubt about it.  If you're catching a train, more than likely the Metra shares the same rail with regular commercial trains.  Being stranded streets away at a train stop is never good.  So, leave early.
  • Parking your vehicle.  Park in public parking or in front of the train where it is permitted by the train stop.  A word of caution though.  If you're parking on the north end of the rail and your train stop is on the south end of the rail, avoid getting stranded on the other side of your train stop, if there is a passing train.  It's happened to me, and there is nothing you can do about it.  You're screwed.  So, again, leaving early to catch the train is key.  It'll insure you don't get stranded on foot or when driving into town.
  • Buy your ticket ahead of time.   The regular lobby hours are 5am - 1pm.  Have your ticket ready when you board the train.  There is usually a spot on the seat in front of you to put your ticket for the conductor when he comes by to click it.
  • Stand behind the YELLOW LINE and wait for the train to stop before boarding.  That speaks for itself.
  • Pay attention to the stops!  Pick up a train schedule in the lobby during normal hours or go online to download a PDF version.  Each train has different stops and they don't have the same schedule.  This is especially true if you take a train BACK to your point of origination.  The BNSF does not always make the same stops.  Read the schedule and look at the Train Scoreboard at Union Station.  If you're still unsure ask a CTA officer.
  • Plank at your own risk!  If you feel the urge to plank in the tracks or across them, please be careful and do it at your own risk.  It can be a fun experience but it could be your sudden death!
  • No high fiving the trains please!  Even if you have the strongest urge to do so, it's too dangerous. "Confucious say; he who high fives oncoming train make good impression on track."

MAIN BNSF STOPS FROM WESTMONT --  INBOUND
(Vary accordingly) 
  • Clarendon Hills
  • West Hinsdale
  • Hinsdale
  • Western Springs
  • LaGrange/Stone Avenue
  • LaGrange Road
  • Brookfield (ZOO)
  • Hollywood (ZOO)
  • Riverside
  • Harlem Avenue
  • Berwyn
  • Cicero
  • Western Avenue
  • Halsted Street
  • Chicago Union Station


References:
Metra Rail Website, "http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home.html"
Best Overall Managers (chart), "http://www.shekinya.net/pliagge/images/managers.PNG"
"Birth of Twins," an excerpt from "Book of the Morning" by Eric Chatham, "http://shekinya.net/pliagge/twins.html"


"ERIC FAILING DELETIONS"

«   »

Крокодилье время.
Даже если крокодил съел вас у вас есть два выхода.

"...Metra commuters, an inbound metra train will be arriving shortly at the Westmont Station in 3 minutes.  Please stand behind the yellow line, and wait for the train to come to a complete stop before boarding." 

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."

I lived in Wisconsin for a year in 1996.  Before that, I lived in Chicago (1994-1995).  I went through some really low points when I moved to Wisconsin.  I ran away from some problems I was having and instead of working them out, I packed up and left for Ohio.  In September 1996, I was in a big car accident on W Main Street and Cottage Street in Whitewater WI, right in front of the University of Wisconsin.  It was pretty bad.  I was driving a Hyundai Accent (Accident) and the problems began.  The accident was my fault.  Yes, I was sued.  The driver who caused the accident was a driver who made a COMPLETE stop at the intersection before turning onto an adjacent road, hence the term I later dubbed, "A Wisconsin Turn." or a "whiskey turn." Yes, they had their turn signal on to turn right.  I had a passenger in the car and we were returning from Madison that day.  We were both uninjured.  I saw this type of turning previously before the accident; the driver stops completely then turns, and I was often forced to make a annoyingly full stop with no STOP sign.  At this time of the accident, I didn't pay attention to full stop at the intersection, and there was no stop sign.

A BNSF Carrier Train passing through Westmont.

Hyundai Accent (Accident) after the accident in Whitewater WI -- September 1996

I payed that person back eventually and legally; I did have auto insurance, but I was never reimbursed an amount for damages to my car which the insurance company (State Farm) called a loss.  So, I was stuck with an unpaid amount on the car FOR YEARS.  The job I had there was becoming medial and I wanted out.  I was making very little money, not enough to pay off the debts from the accident.  I moved back to Ohio on November 15, 1996.

Westmont Train Station

Track Maintenance on Rail

Driving off into a crisp, Autumn sunrise that morning in a U-Haul truck, I knew then that I failed and that I interrupted my life.  I knew it then subconsciously, I shouldn't've moved back to Ohio.  I believe that my "life clock" stopped that day!  I remember that drive back to Ohio, driving through Chicago one final time, and the drive to my new home in Brunswick OH.  Driving through Chicago one last time, I even remember one SONG that stood out on that journey to Ohio, and for some reason it was imprinted on my soul: "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac.  Maybe it was the lyrics, maybe it was my soul, maybe it was God, but 'can you hear me calling out your name' beat inside my heart.  I think my soul knew at the time that my spirit was weak.  I don't know for sure, but it spoke to me on a spiritual level.  Driving back to Ohio though, when this song played, it would stay with me the next 15 years, deeply imprinted on my heart.  Once again, I knew then I was running away from my life, and I believed time froze from that point (even moved backwards).

"Can you hear me calling
Out your name?
You know that I'm falling
And I don't know what to say

I'll speak a little louder
I'll even shout
You know that I'm proud
And I can't get the words out

Oh I...I want to be with you everywhere
Oh I... I want to be with you everywhere."

For years after this day, I would be in debt.  Not until 2006 did I start paying off my debt and in 2008 would my Credit Score begin to improve.

Dawn over Prairewood in E. Troy WI.  Last day there.


On November 15, 1996 a chapter in my life would end, and a new one would begin.  A new journey would be in the making.  Now boarding the train at Westmont.  "...The doors are closing.  All aboard!"

 "...next stop Hinsdale."

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."

When I moved back to Ohio, I went back to a job I had previously before moving to Chicago in 1994.  I talked to the manager and he hired me back at a pay-rate which, at the time, I thought was enough to help me get out of debt.  I was working at Ponderosa Steakhouse as a Shift Coordinator and Regional Training Coordinator.  I would be working in a line of restaurants up until the 2006 (10 years).  I went through some moments with various managers at Ponderosa.  I worked for for this company at two locations (Center Road and Snow Road) and this job, to this day, has been the longest job I ever held in means of time span (February 14, 1994 - May 2003).  One general manager there in 1997 really impacted me and got me involved more into the Shift Coordinator role, trusting me with keys and placing the food orders from GFS.  Ray Arnone and Steve Kindel still remain two of the most influential managers I've ever had the fortunate privilege to work for. Still accumulating debt in 1997, Steve Kindel actually sat down with me one day and asked, "Can you show me your budget?  I want to give you a raise."  He knew I was struggling and he actually helped me work out my budget and gave me a pay raise to help offset my debt.

Pondo #629 - 3901 Center Road (SR 303), Brunswick OH - 1996

RIP Pondo #629 - As it "stands" today

During my employment at Ponderosa at the Brunswick OH location, there was a regular customer who would come in each day.  Since I handled the guest relations and sometimes service positions, I knew the regular customer.  His name was Lloyd Florian.  He would always have interesting stories and he always ordered the same thing; Salad bar with Iced Tea.  Working there, knowing people came down to their drink orders and food orders.  So, we all knew Lloyd there and some of the other regulars.

"...now approaching Hinsdale."

In March 2000, I bought a Pentium II HP Pavilion Computer with Windows ME on it.  I was looking for someone to help me set it up.  This year was also the first year I owned a vehicle again.  Up until this day, I walked everywhere! One day, Lloyd Florian came into the restaurant and I told him about the new PC I bought.  He suggested that I reach out to his nephew for help.  I had a pen and paper in hand and asked Lloyd who his nephew was.  He said his name was Todd Florian.  I asked him what his address was.  As Lloyd started dictating the address "1468 S. Carpenter Road..." I was taken back.  "Hey wait, I LIVE THERE."  So, I asked Lloyd which apartment Todd lived in.  Fortunately, Todd lived on the first floor; I was on the second floor.  We were both living in the same building at Pinewood Apartments in Brunswick OH.  Small World!!!  Lloyd suggested that I call Todd to get my computer set up.  He went on to say "...to pay him back, just order him a pizza.  He won't charge you."  Lloyd was true to his word.

I called Todd that night for the first time.  I told him I was new to computers and needed assistance setting my new PC up.  When he got around to asking where I lived, I said, "...one floor above you."  Hehe.  Todd was an influential person who armed me with knowledge of computers and he was one person responsible for making a change towards a new career in Information Technology.  My Dad and Brother will always be the primary. Todd helped me set up my PC and he grounded me with some good IT knowledge.  He will always remain a good friend who pointed me in the right direction, never steering me astray and always an IT goto person. "...The doors are closing.  All aboard!"

"...next stop LaGrange Road."

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."

In 2001, I was now working at Ponderosa on Snow Road in Brook Park OH. Around this time, I fell in love with a woman who moved my world!  She was the first person to love me on every level possible.  It was just after September 11 (5 years later).  I thought at the time it was the right direction.  Unfortunately, my heart went before my head (for the first time) and we broke it off on July 7, 2002.  She went one direction and I went another.  I was avidly writing fantasy stories this year especially the "Book of the Morning" series.  She made an appearance in one of those mythological accounts in the "Book of the Morning."  When that account finally ended, this was the final text I wrote for that.  Up until this time, I even completed one line of fantasy stories (The Chronicles of Tristan), basing the main character off aspects of my own life at the time.  I even tried getting published in this time.

The Birth of Twins (Book of the Morning):

"The Lady trembled with a fear, and she spoke truthfully to her King one last time in this age. “It’s not forgotten. It’s still there. It won’t leave, and it’s hurting me. I think you know what I mean, but if not, ask me later.” Speaking the last truthful promise to her King, the Lady abandoned all goodness of her heart and relinquished by shedding tears; they fell onto the forehead of the King. The falling tears of her soul sealed her fate.
        “Why anoint me with your tears?” The King wondered. “You have abandoned me.” The King looked deeply into her green eyes for the last time. He saw through the window of her spirit but she was lost to the evil in her heart. The good that was left in her was now gone with the last breath of her tearful words.
        Finally without any care or concern in her heart or any thoughts of love, the Lady Cíarra Ellaphnoír withdrew from the house at Úr away from her husband. She did not know him anymore. She moved on towards her home in Sriór. The King did not follow her, but returned to Vall a day later. He forgot that he knew her. At Vall, the King resumed the throne."

This break up really made me fall down hard for years.  That 'journey back to Vall' took a very long time for me emotionally, and 'finally forgetting her' came more recently in my life.  I lost something part of me inside in July 2002.  This really affected me more than just emotionally but it diverted my attention and to what I needed to do in life.  It was a distraction, and the wrong switchtrack.  Maybe one day I'll find love again, true love, not a distraction.

Tales of the Last Guardian (Vol II: Seg II)

Ushèul waved his hand and Time rippled in front of them like water rippling on a lake. Then, an image appeared amidst the starry Celeste and the image coincided with the stars of Ràvinya. In front of them, the god of dreams saw what his friend was trying to explain. The Celeste revealed a secret, a hidden truth to the two friends. It showed them peace, harmony, tranquility, and a kingdom of a new beginning. It was a Utopian Kingdom of some sort with golden colors spread as far as the eye could see! Beyond the other end of the Celeste, towards the realm of Plíagge, Ràvinya took heart in what he saw. He saw a group of Children playing in water, a lake of some kind, and it brought joy to his darkened spirit. The children he saw, were not the Children of the Morning, but the Children of the Dusk. Somehow, these children playing in a vast lake of purity, brought back the one element the god of dreams lost: His Goodfortune. This was his motif for the Elemental Point of Uran.
           Standing up for the first time, Ràvinya embraced his friend with tears of relief. It was like two brothers exchanging love. "My dreams will prosper after all!" Ràvinya delighted. I did not realize the depth of my Goodfortune and dreams, for it was Sadness who pointed them out to me.
           Then, something amazing unfolded as Time was restored. The starry sign of Mazzaroth, the son of Ràvinya, began to return to its bright magnitude

On November 14, 2001 (5 years later), I was writing the "Tales of the Last Guardian" and I was sending the stories out to an e-mail group.  I wrote this story for a friend (Shelley Theman) whom was going through a REALLY difficult time, but I remember there were so much ominous inspiration behind it, and when I'd resend this story or share it, it was always when someone was going through turmoil or difficult time..  It spoke to me to at the time (and I did not make a connection of the 5 year mark either).  Ravinya is the Archief of Dreams and Goodfortune.

Dunccían go berfhórech Lhígh-Gra!

"Sadnesss proceeds Goodfortune." The translation of the word sadness here is more close to 'despair tears.'  It's the same 'sadness' used for the 'falling tears' of the Lady in the first section.  I should also point out the name "Cíarra Ellaphnoír."  I had to look it up.  Cíarra translates to "fiery form."  Ellaphnoír translates to "cleansing breath."  Her name turns out to be ironic at the end of the story.

"...now approaching LaGrange Road."

My debts were still increasing after this and I later lost a job.  I was sinking to my lowest in all ends by the end of 2002, but on November 19, 2002, I made a choice with my career direction.  After a bad day at work with a terrible manager at Bob Evans (Tracy Swarthout), I went to ITT Tech in Strongsville OH and sat down with Mr. Jones, a career counselor at the school.  I started expressing an interest to change careers at this time.  To this day, I maintain that he (Tracy) was one of the worst managers I ever had the misfortune to work for, BUT it led to some good.  It got me finally making a choice with what I wanted to do for a career. Mr. Jones introduced me to the school and to the "Computer Networking Systems" course at ITT Tech.  I began the paperwork and tried to get financial help to go to school.

In 2003, Crystal Bogdan was a great friend who literally gave me a "kick in the ass" to get moving with my life.  I finally took her words seriously in 2006 and started going to school at ITT Tech.  I started putting my past behind me for the first time since November 15, 1996.  I was succeeding at school.  For a time, I moved back with my folks and got three jobs by 2006.  Crystal really impacted me and expressed how much she didn't want me to fail.  To this day, I still hold her up as being a true friend with a big HEART!  We still  maintain a good long distance friendship to this day! "...The doors are closing!  All aboard!"

"...Metra commuters, due to track maintenance near Hollywood, there will be a lengthy delay into Chicago Union Station."

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."

By June 2005, I had hit bottom mentally and emotionally.  I moved back with my parents for a time in Hinckley OH.  I was going to school, working a job at Tony Roma's in Brunswick at the time.  I was paying off debt for the first time.  I look back at this and just remember how low I sank, but yet how I stayed in a forward direction with school and job(s).  Also, that year, I learned that my identity had been stolen, so there was some legal activity that year.  It took me involving the Attorney General of Ohio to clear that up, but this ended up on my credit report and stained it even more.  Luckily the bank who reported the outstanding balance finally let it go after the Attorney General got involved with this.  I still don't know who stole my identity, but it really worsened my predicament even more.

One year of school, I took a "Programming Class" and missed many classes.  I was doing the homework at home and taking the tests online.  I remember when I went in to take the final exam for that class (and passing it).  The instructor, Mr. D'Amico, graded the test before I left and pulled me aside afterwards.  "What did you say your major was?" He said.  "Computer Networking and Systems."  I replied.  He looked at me plainly, almost with intimidation and stated, "I watched you this quarter; you missed many classes..."  My head sank remorsefully a bit.  "...but you passed all the homework and tests with good scores.  You've grasped programming very well for someone who wasn't regularly here.  You ought to consider Programming as a secondary career."  It really struck me later how that would later come into play for my life.  He showed me my final grade as being an "A."

"...now approaching Hollywood."

In January 2006, I was hired at my first IT job through ITT Tech at LifeBanc, which was located in Shaker Hts OH at the time.  Tom Krempa was my manager and I remember how he was always supportive and filled with knowledge.  I started there as a Help Desk Analyst and had some involvement with the main systems there.  It was a Windows shop, so there was one platform to work with. Tom pointed me in the right direction for my career.  I was still working many hours at Tony Roma's at the same time.  I remember how I was beginning to have "no life."  On June 6, 2006, I graduated School.

Csilla Rasa and Me on Graduation Day

I kept regular contact with some of the classmates I had  for my Capstone Project.  Most of all them began working at Broadvox Communications through the Career Services at ITT Tech.  I expressed an interest in Broadvox in July 2006.  Richard Bragg hired me on July 17, 2006 (10 years later).  I consider 2006 a convergence in my life.  Instead of sinking into a pit; I began climbing out of the pit I was in.  I was paying off debt and I now had THREE JOBS!  I remember how much money I was spending on vehicle gas and maintenance.  Driving to Strongsville (School), Brunswick (Tony Roma's), Shaker Hts (LifeBanc) and Downtown Cleveland (Broadvox).  Yes, I even remember a few times sleeping in my car between jobs, and parking one place and taking the Rapid to Tower City (Broadvox).  There were many times I wanted to get out and do something, but I couldn't because of jobs!  I was also paying rent at my parent's place too, so it wasn't a free ride!

Old Work Schedule from 2006

In November 2006 (10 years later), I left LifeBanc and assumed more hours and responsibility as a Systems Administrator at Broadvox.  I was still working at Tony Roma's as well for extra money.  I stayed on with Tony Roma's well into 2007. "...The doors are closing!  All aboard!"

"...next stop Western Avenue."

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."

After graduating school and working three jobs, life was pretty precarious and it was tough to get where I needed to be.  There was some praying and some support from friends as I climbed out of a pit.  I was paying off debts steadily and working full time at Broadvox.  At Broadvox, I had the GREATEST MANAGER who topped Steve Kindel in "best overall manager."  Erik Hinderer was not only a great team leader but very involved with my success.  He wanted me to succeed in life and he always encouraged me to reach my goals.  To this day, Erik Hinderer remains a very important person in life who impacted me and who taught me my career! On April 24, 2008, I finally moved out again on my own to Oak Brook Gardens in North Royalton OH.  I had paid off my debt entirely by this time which allowed me to find a place again.  I even started my own home network (Oakbrook 17-102) and I leased a domain with DynDNS (shekinya.net).  My credit score was getting better during this time.  That old Pentium II HP Pavilion would soon be converted into a Linux Server at home (So long Windows ME).




Erik left Broadvox in October 2008 and I began reporting to Sergey Galchenko, the CTO, up until the time I left.  Sergey was another manager, who admittedly said he was not a manager, that taught me something very important: SELF RELIANCE!  Find answers!  Research!  Learn for yourself!  No manager is going to teach you how to do your job.   Sergey Galchenko was one of my most favorable of managers, although admittedly saying he wasn't one.  I give him credit because he was very smart and insightful with my work projects and managing your dollar-time wisely.  I just remember the one time he looked at my code and said "...what is this?  The Pentagon?  Comment your code!"  It was just a really funny moment, because Sergey is Russian and for him to mention Pentagon got me a good laugh.

"...now approaching Western Avenue."

Self Reliance though? This was evident when Sergey came to me in 2009 and said, "We're doing ESX and ESXi from VMWare."  I didn't have any knowledge of it.  I had to learn it.  We had a few ESX servers already but I needed to build a new environment.  Sergey did not give me an option as to whether I wanted to do it.  He said, "We're doing it.  Figure it out."  I eventually learned and researched VMWare and learned how to set it up (and the ESXi environment).  By 2010, my desktop on my PC was overloaded with projects and things to do for work.  Every department of that company worked with more than what they were hired for.  Everyone wore more than one hat, including me.  So I was doing Programming, managing a Windows environment, a Linux environment and a Virtual environment -- very busy.  Looking back at that, I'm really glad I did all those things.  It filled my resume and made it more diverse!

A normal day as Sysadmin at Broadvox!

In February 2011, I purchased a brand new car and for the first time I was able to finance something of my own without having a co-signer.  I learned then that my Credit Score was 719.  I was overjoyed, but I had new expenses in my life now: a monthly car note.

2010 Honda Fit aka Blackbeak.

I still maintain that Broadvox kept me on track and in the right direction for my career.  The main lacking part of this was income.  I chose to leave Broadvox in August 2011.  I enjoyed what work I was touching and what I was working on there; I enjoyed working with the staff there, looking back now.  Sure, there were a lot of stressful times, but there were a lot of good times there.  Income was lacking.  Broadvox was a LIFEBOAT for me!  It carried me through a depression in my life and an economic depression at the time. "...The doors are closing!  All aboard!"


"...Metra commuters, due to track maintenance near Halsted Street, there will be a lengthy delay into Chicago Union Station."

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."

Leaving Broadvox, I thought I was keeping on track.  Watch out, switchtrack up ahead!  When I left Broadvox in August, I took a job which, at the time, was where I thought I where I needed to be for my career.  I was wrong!  It's not even worth mentioning the name of the company here, but the manager I reported to there ranks the LOWEST on my chart of "best overall managers."  That chart still has Erik Hinderer and Steve Kindel in the top ten.  This manager ranked lower than the crappy manager I had at Bob Evans in November 2002.  This manager ranked nearly as low as the two, awful, I-would-rather-have-a-root-canal managers at Steve's Dakota Grill, where they spit on your steaks!  [Even today, that Steve's Dakota IS STILL HIRING!  If only the customers knew what I know about what the manager does to the food there!]

Getting back on track, with no clear explanation, I was fired from that one job on October 12, 2011 (15 years later).  It was one day before my 38th birthday too.  Herein would end another chapter of my life!  I never understood what failure was with no explanation, but I felt failure in my life again after I had started moving in the "right direction" with my life.  I was being honest with life, paying my bills, helping friends out.  What was missing?  Well, on November 15, 2011, I cried out to God for help!  I had not prayed with such depth and heart for a long time, or had I talked openly with God in years!  On November 13, 2011, I had the dream about Chicago; on November 15, 2011, I had the in-depth call with an IT recruiter in Chicago; on November 15 (and early morning on the 16th), I cried out to God, and...

Clickity Clack.  Approaching Downtown Chicago near Halsted Street!

...I truly believe God showed me starting my life over in Chicago at that time!  A new chapter in my life would begin!  It was exactly 15 years later and I only recalled this series of events later and not at the time, including the dream, the talk with the IT recruiter AND the praying!  They say you only recall your dreams precognitively.  This was true, because I put all this together after the events.  The Dream of the Lake, Willow Tree and the Wind is Chicago.  That was my dream.  That wind shifted towards me because it's up to me now to make things happen.  I hate to sound selfish, but I look at that dream again.  First the wind was blowing at a crowd of people near me in the dream; then that wind shifted at me.  It's MY time!

"...now approaching Halsted Street."

On February 27, 2012, Diebold brought me on as a Contractor and they allowed me to relocate to work the Northern Area for the company, which included Chicago, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  I believe that several of the dreams I had between November 13, 2011 - February 26, 2012 all had to do with Chicago!  They all seemed to fit with a lot of praying and soul searching.  In March 2012, I went to Dublin CA (San Francisco) for job training with Diebold.  It was a start of a new direction and keeping on track with my life.  No derailments!  I passed Halsted Street, the last stop on the BNSF before Chicago Union Station!  "...The doors are closing!  All aboard!"

The soul knows what it needs to thrive.  God hears you.  November 13, 2011 (Psalm 43:5)

"...next stop Chicago Union Station."

"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can."
On August 13, 2012, Diebold hired me full time.  I was previously working as a Consultant (CT)!!!  Even with a lot of soul searching and praying, I still don't exactly know what it is about Chicago and why I am here, but there is a reason, and in time I will learn.  I truly believe that and, most of all, I feel HOME and I am HOME!  There is no question about that in my heart.  God will eventually show me why I am here.  In my previous blogs, you can read about my choices and decisions to moving here.  There is still a lot of things to learn and there is still a lot of patience to learn I'm sure.  Nothing happens overnight unless it's a miracle. Making new friends and acquaintances will all be a part of this path, and staying on track and remembering the journey that brought me here is also important.  We all learn from our own mistakes and I believe the journey is still ongoing; patience, relax and enjoy the ride.  Life is too short.  Maintaining our lives is a daily feat and task.  Sometimes maintenance teaches us patience and to remain true, because eventually that maintenance allows you to reach your destination.  The 15 Year Ohio Gap was that for me.  I look back at that journey and see what life has taught me and what mistakes not to make again.

"...now approaching Chicago Union Station.  Please be sure to take your ticket and all other items with you when you deboard the train."

I am deboarding the train.

Train Scoreboard at Chicago Union Station.  Pay attention to the stops!

Chicago Union Station.  Pay attention to which Track you need to be at!

Important lessons indeed! 

PAY ATTENTION TO THE STOPS!

The journey has its moments.  Remember where you stop on the way or where you are going!  When I was on Ohio Unemployment in November 2011, I kept an Excel Spreadsheet with all the jobs I applied at (this was a Sheet I originally started for my own job searches back in 2003).  I made one separate sheet for the State of Ohio, so each week, I put down TWO EMPLOYERS I worked with each week; this was required for the benefits each week.  When I designed that sheet, I made the borders and the columns on the fly.without considering how many employers I would put on the sheet each week I would file.  Well, when Diebold brought me on a Consultant in February 2012, I made my weekly filing for Unemployment benefits and updated my Worksheet.  Ominously, DIEBOLD FINISHED THE LAST ROW OF THE BOTTOM BORDER!   I did not have to remake any borders for any new employers.  I planned the sheet out perfectly when I started my Unemployment.  Chicago was it.  Diebold was it!  Those were my stops.


I inadvertently knew where to make the borders when I started my Unemployment Benefits!

PAY ATTENTION TO THE TRACK!

One lesson I've learned is about my once, liberal money-spending habits.  "Why don't you buy stuff?"  Any friend that knows me well enough now knows that I hate spending money and I think part of that is because I look at the big debt I was in before.  Yeah, maybe my lazy spending habits are too conservative, but I'd like to think that I just hate spending money if I don't have to.  I put off buying anything it seems.  I don't spend money liberally -- anymore!  If it's important enough, than I'll spend the money!  I admit, but I get criticized by friends for my "boring" spending habits now, lol!

This worked to my advantage after October 12, 2011 when I was fired.  A lesson learned while I was employed!  All that money I saved from my job GOT ME THROUGH MY UNEMPLOYMENT!  Not once did I call anyone -- friend or family -- for money!

Another valuable lesson learned in this time was humility and patience.   I remember what three jobs was like and I remember having "no life."  I had one friend say to me once. "Why put yourself through three jobs and school like that?  Why put yourself through that stress now?  Happiness now or happy later?"   I don't know if he was asking me to assert myself or if he was really asking me to make a choice, but I plainly told him.  "Happiness later.  I want to pay my debt off and get on with my life, so I don't have to worry about this later.  Later on, I'll be at peace, but for now it's going to be a struggle."  Sometimes having multiple jobs is the only way to get things done.  In the past 15 years, I learned patience, perseverance, better driving habits (heh), forgiveness, money management, romantic love (even if yet the hopeless kind), and even some heartache.  Has it made me stronger!  YES, because I've endured it and persevered through it.  No one gets a free ride in life.  There was a lot of stress in that time, and like I mentioned earlier, when I was living at home, it was not a free ride there.  I was paying rent.  I'm at peace now and not worried about the debt that started back in September 1996.  I'm free of it -- all of it!

Am I free of all my worries?  No, new issues arise, including some new medical ones.  What have I learned in the past 15 years? How do I take that with me as I continue on the journey?  I have reached my destination, but this is a big city!  There is a lot here to explore and new things to learn!  New ventures!  New memories!  New loves as well!  Remembering what I've learned on the journey here will get me around the city, and perhaps soon God will show me and reveal to me why I am here!

There is an Electropop song performed by "World Wide Message Tribe," called "Where are you going?"  I often attribute that song to my life. One day it will be my closing credits!

"I pray you will be with me again.  I hope you will find what you are looking for.
Where are you going? Where are you going in your life?
When it's all over. When it's all over you'll see.
How your life was meant to be.
Will I see you there in God's country?"

And, by the way, I first purchased this album by them (Dance Planet) when I lived in Chicago the first time!

"...I have just exited the station at the East Door near Jackson!" 

Where are you going?
World Wide Message Tribe
"Dance Planet"

Philippians 1:6

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Chicago Union Station

De Station (Chicago Union Station) - East Door at Jackson and Riverview Plaza

"Wesley" aka "The Sears Tower" -- 233 South Wacker Drive





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