Happy Canada Day – July 1, 2020

Hello, everyone., and Happy Canada Day!

It’s been more than a minute since my last blog post, so for those of you that still bother to keep up with reading it, the both of you, I figure it’s past time for an update.

I’ve been back to work for nearly a month and a half and things have settled into the “New Normal.” We still have to go through the screening procedures before entering the plant I described in my last post, but like everything else, it’s become less surreal and just another minor annoyance we have to live with now. I still have to “aggressively” remind people to wear their PPE (masks) properly, as, like anything else, normalization brings complacence.

They ended up extending the life of the 3rd shift at my plant again, though it’s just a case of delaying the inevitable. The extension is for the Union to organize the movement of everyone who will have to switch jobs when we do go down to two shifts. We have two more weeks of three full shifts, then we drop down to two shifts with three shifts’ worth of people, to help facilitate re-training. That will last one week.

After that, we have our annual two-week summer shut-down, for plant re-tooling and model-year change-over. When we come back from that in August, we will be on a two-shift operation, and 1300 fewer people will be walking into and out of that plant every day.

It is what it is.

They did offer the senior members of the plant a retirement incentive package, to see if they could get a good portion of the people at the top of the seniority list to opt to leave and to keep many more of the junior members in the plant. With a good chunk of people leaving from off the top, many of us in the middle of the pack now get the opportunity to move up to better jobs.

So, after twenty-five years of chasing the assembly line, I’m finally taking a position “off the line.” I took a job as the “Team Leader” of my “Cell.” A Cell is a grouping of eight to ten jobs in the same general area, overseen by a “Leader” who makes sure all of the jobs are manned for each shift. The Leader also makes sure that all tooling and equipment for the jobs are available and in working order, and any needed repairs are done in the area or properly reported to be taken care of further down the line. Leader’s also cover jobs for people who need to go to the restroom or to first-aid.

While there is a lot more responsibility and paperwork that comes with the new position, there is also a bit of a (tiny) pay-bump, and from what I’ve seen over the years, a lot more free time. It will be a big change for me, but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, it will be a bit of a break after “humping the line” for twenty-five years.

I had to take a test in order to get the position, and everyone went out of their way to warn me about it and give me pointers and advice. According to them, many people were failed for “political” reasons, as there is an interview along with the written test that you have to pass as well. I wasn’t given very much time at all to study and had to take the test at the start of the following shift.

I didn’t really study, though I did take a small bit of time to look over the study material that my union steward gave me once or twice. It looked pretty straight forward and common sense based, so I wasn’t worried. The two people giving the interview, one from the company and one from the union, were both women, so when I got there and had a chance to look over the test, I decided to just wing it and turn up the charm a bit.

I ended up acing the test, getting nearly perfect, and the two ladies kept tripping over each other to compliment me on how well I did. It’s good to know that even after all of these years, my bullshitting game is still on-point.

Besides work, life has been chugging along as usual, with the addition of the changes we’ve all had to make because of the pandemic. All of us in the house are back to work except for my son. He’s back at his one job at a local comic-book shop but is still laid-off from his other job at a sit-down chain restaurant.

I’ve spent most of my “free-time”, whatever there is of it, working on finishing all of the many on-going projects around the house. My Hot-Tub/Movie Theatre project is almost done, just the cabinetry is left to finish and then I think I’ll be able to call that project complete. I’ve been busy mostly tidying up the back yard, and building some new bar-stools for the bar on the deck. The “Grey-House” greenhouse project is ongoing and coming along nicely, and it’s got some very lovely plants growing within.

During my upcoming shut-down, I’m hoping to install new rain-gutters on the house and to replace one of the old basement windows. Hopefully, the weather will co-operate.

Last weekend was Father’s Day, and though I really don’t know if it’s a good idea talking about this here, I’ll say I didn’t have a very good day. I lost my dad about four years ago now, and though that is one reason for sadness, it wasn’t why my day was particularly bad. My kids, both in their 20’s now, but both still living at home, got me a thoughtful card and a copy of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, which I very much appreciated. But then, they just kind of disappeared. They were both in the house, but I didn’t see much of them for the rest of the day, which is what upset me.

It would have been very nice if they had wanted to at least spend some time with me, talking, hanging out, anything really, but they were both shut away in their respective rooms, doing their own thing, with no real desire I guess to spend some time with their old man on Father’s Day.

They’ve since apologized once they’d figured out why I was bummed, but I’m still a little sad about it. I mean, I get it, they’re not kids anymore, and they have their own lives to live, and we have spent the last three months on lock-down in the house together with only each other for company. Still, it would have been nice to have my kids want to hang out with me for a bit, to go for a bike ride or a walk, or out for ice cream on Father’s Day, especially after the health scares I’ve had recently.

It’s over now, and I guess I’ll just suck it up and move on, but I’m still rather hurt by the whole thing.

I’ve been trying to spend a bit more time polishing my Dungeon Master skills for my ongoing D&D /Zoom game, which is why the Player’s Handbook will come in handy. I don’t’ think I’m particularly good at DM-ing, as I haven’t been doing it for very long, which is something I want to work to change. I want the friends I play with to have a good time.

For those that don’t know much about D&D, the “DM” is the person that tells the story, describing to the players what’s going on around them so that they can choose what to do and how to react. The DM comes up with the bones of the adventure and then tailors it to reflect the player’s decisions and reactions. If the adventure is too easy or too hard, or if it’s not interesting or makes no sense, then the players may not have as good a time.

We had another of our game sessions the other night, and though I did nearly kill off several of my friend’s characters, I think it went relatively well, and no one seemed overly bored. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and watching a lot of YouTube videos about how to better run a game, and I think that’s been paying off. Everyone that I play with are friends of mine, so I worry that even if they weren’t enjoying themselves, they’d be hesitant to tell me so as not to hurt my feelings.

Well, the only thing I can do is keep trying, and hope I continue to improve. I just hope they’re all having a good time.

Health-wise, apart from now having to be on insulin, (a Canadian invention, btw) which I described in my last couple of posts, I think I’m doing well. I’ve been keeping up with my low-carb/no sugar diet, working out four to five days a week, and doing my cardio six to seven days a week consistently. I’ve cut back on the beer, and though I stopped taking Champix over five weeks ago, I haven’t had a cigarette since January.

I was worried that once I stopped taking the Champix that all of the cravings I’d managed to avoid would come rushing back, tempting to light up. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened, yet. Even though I have to walk through clouds of cigarette smoke every day when walking into or out of the plant I haven’t felt any temptation to start up again. Here’s hoping that continues.

So, how’s the writing going? Well, I’m glad you asked.

It’s still going rather slowly. With the nicer weather, I’ve been putting off writing at times to work on projects in the yard and around the house. The weirdness at work and my worries about my health have also had me seeking other distractions, keeping me from writing as much as I should. I’ve still been writing, and the story is moving along, but not nearly as quickly as it should be. Last year, around this time, I experienced a bit of the same problem, also while trying to write the ending of my last novel project, so there may be a bit of “writing fatigue” contributing to this current procrastinatory bout.

I finished last year’s project during my work’s summer shut down. This year’s shut down is less than three weeks away, so I’m going to make it a goal to finish this novel attempt by the time my shut down is over five weeks from now.

Story-wise, I’m just getting past the first “Downfall” of the climax, the first time things are looking grim for the hero… he’s on the precipice of failure while the villain is on the verge of success. Obviously, fortunes will be reversed, and then reversed again a few more times before the story concludes. Adventure stories can be a tad predictable.

Recently, I stumbled across Dan Harmon’s podcast, Harmontown, and have been listening to the older episodes from when it began. He occasionally expounds on Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”, as well as his own take on that which he calls “The Story Circle”. Listening to his points on both has made me feel like I should take some time to re-visit Campbell and read up a bit on Harmon’s method before I attempt a second draft of either of my novel projects. It couldn’t hurt, so I may finish out the summer doing that.

Well, that’s my update. I hope you’re all doing well, and enjoying the good weather. If the pandemic restrictions have been relaxed in your area, I hope you’re safely managing to enjoy that as well.

Remember to stay safe, social distance when you can, wear a mask when you can’t, and wash your hands frequently.

Be Well.



Final NaNo Word Count – 56,095

Current Word Count – 105,578

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