The 28th

challengerphoto

A lot of you who read this blog presently have probably been following me for less than a year. January 28th is not one of my favorite days. One is a reason shared by this country, one is a reason shared in my family. All of which I’ve spoken about before on this blog over the years, so I will be referring to previous entries here.

Most of you my age or thereabouts know what happened on January 28, 1986. On a rare cold midday in Florida, Space Shuttle Challenger was launched with a crew of seven, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Slightly past a minute later, a rupture in the orange external fuel tank caused its explosion along with that of Challenger. The crew cabin of the shuttle detached from the rest of the vehicle, and if the astronauts were not killed by the sudden loss of air pressure after the explosion by not instantly finding emergency oxygen masks, the impact into the Atlantic Ocean (reportedly at 200 G’s) likely did.

The real tragedy of it all was that one man, Roger Boisjoly, a mechanical engineer for Morton Thiokol, tried to warn NASA that the O-rings on the bottom of the soild rocket boosters his employers created would not work in such extremely cold (for Florida) weather conditions. That day, NASA wouldn’t heed a review of new evidence for whatever reasons they had, and tragically went ahead with the launch anyway. I always felt bad for Boisjoly, as NASA didn’t treat him kindly nor with any sort of public apology. He was a man who was right at the wrong time, facing a bureaucracy convinced it could do no wrong.

It was the one event when I was in high school that you remember where you were when it happened, and in the house I grew up in, only the 1983 Americas Cup (where the Aussies stunned the Americans to end their 132 year reign as the top yachtsmen in the world) comes close in terms of an event that carried such gloom, and that event was a well distant second.

Little did I know that five years to that very day, I’d lose my dad to cancer.

Christmas 1973 or so...
Christmas time, either 1972 or 1973.

I’ve talked about this back in 2012 and 2014. Tomorrow (maybe Friday if predicted rain continues to hang around), I will once again be paying him a visit at Serenity Gardens over in Largo. All I have to say for now is that cancer sucks, and it always has. Maybe someday in my lifetime there will be a cure for it, and I hope for everyone in the human race that the day cancer is cured for all time will come soon.

Talking about it is how I cope, so thanks for reading. Hope I’m not depressing you too much, but what’s the point of a personal blog if you can’t share what makes a person tick?

(Note: Originally when I posted this entry on January 28th, I erroneously said that one of the solid rocket boosters hit the external tank, causing it and the shuttle to explode. On February 1st, I read an article on Space.com that correctly points out that the two SRB’s remained intact after the explosion, thus the need to have to auto-destruct each of them, and I thus made the necessary corrections.)

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Beginnings And Endings

Visiting Serenity Gardens in Largo, Fla. where my father is buried, January 25th, 2014.
Visiting Serenity Gardens in Largo, Fla. where my father is buried, January 25th, 2014.

It’s an interesting time in my life right now where things are beginning to improve.

Back in December, I looked into getting various transcription jobs. I wound up getting one company that wanted to hire me but couldn’t employ me right away and a company that hired me right away that didn’t have any work.  So, I went back to writing books (with another book coming out Saturday) for a bit, and then Thursday, I got the good news.

The company that couldn’t employ me, Rev Transcriptions, did.  I started work for them that night.  The only problem is my transcription speed absolutely blows.  I listen to a few words, type them out, listen to some more, type them out, and so on.  Plus, I do not have the foot pedal yet, and doing transcribing without is like a doctor without a stethoscope.

Overall, I kept a good attitude about things, and I consider this “rough patch” I’m going through now as a “paying my dues” period. We all have to go through that, no matter where we work.

On Saturday morning, I was off to Largo with my mother to visit the grave of my father who passed away January 28, 1991. We had a discussion about what to do if either of us was ill to the point where either me or her were on life support.

I told her that if I was in a situation where I am on life support and my chances at recovery where next to nil, that I would want my life terminated. I don’t want to suffer like my dad did with his cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and my grandparents each had Alzheimer’s.

I also want to be cremated when the time comes.

Have that talk with someone you love. It’s not like there’s a clock over your head and you get to know when your time is up. Have that talk before you can no longer have that talk.

Mention A Date You Will Never Forget

A popular hashtag on Twitter right now is: mention a date you will never forget.

I figure a lot of people will never forget September 11, 2001.

But I chose January 28, 1986.

A lot of you remember the day for what happened on that other Florida coast that very cold (for us) morning.

Two other things happened to me (or would happen).

It was the first day I gave flowers to a girl, and I did it in high school. Was the high point of my friendship with this girl, and it went all downhill from there. She was a drug addict that didn’t graduate with our high school class. Had the brains to be much more than that, chose not to be. An identical situation I’d run into once again in my last few months of high school in 1989, although I didn’t know it fully until recently. The only difference: I was smart enough NOT to give that young woman flowers.

It was also a unique day in my life, and I had no way of knowing. Five years to the day, I’d lose my father to cancer.

We all have losses, and we all must move on from them. Such is life.

Cigarettes And A Death In The Family

It was 21 years ago today.  January 28, 1991, a Monday.  I was 19.

I was going to northern Clearwater to visit and entertain my girlfriend at the time. My mother had won a contest Kash n’ Karry held where if you won, you got tickets to go to the Super Bowl.  Except my mom couldn’t go, my dad was very sick…he had cancer.  And the cancer had gotten to his brain by this point.  So, I went with a friend of my mother’s, an avid Giants fan, happy to see the New Yorkers eek out a 20-19 win.

So before I left for Clearwater, my Dad had asked me for smokes.

Christmas 1973 or so...
Watch the birdie..

“Hey P.J., could you find me some cigarettes?”

Continue reading “Cigarettes And A Death In The Family”