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New Year’s Day 2002

Mike and Jeff stopped in, but Susan couldn’t make it.  Merry cooked turkey with all the trimmings.  As Christina always says, over here every day is Thanksgiving!  And maybe it’s because of the big Y2K celebrations, but the turnover just wasn’t any big deal this year.

UPS dropped off the Christmas package sent from Vegas yesterday.  After midnight, I called my Dad (a few hours away from New Year’s still).  He said the blankets used as “packing material” were made by his mother, Grandma Stuczynski.  They had a bunch, and we’ll use them more, he said.

The ball dropped about a half-minute off in Buffalo, or at least the clock was off, and after the cheering, they had to reset is and give it a second try.  Buffalo just can’t do anything right anymore — they’re practically a non-entity economically, politically, and financially.  I can’t with ’til they hit all-time rock bottom so heads will role and new leadership or organization will be forced into effect.

I’m seeing Christina today … they finally plowed the street.  Ironically, if she wants to play in the snow, I’ll consider it!

Tuesday, January 10th

I gave Susan a crash course on how the internet works, along with all the basic terminology.  Then we realized …

Several years ago, in the “handicap” student office at UB (SUNYAB), Susan showed me this cool think called “Netscape Navigator” (yes, it WAS cool back then) that let you see stuff on the “Internet”.  The little “N” with comets streaking by was the neatest part of it, but going from one text page to another by clicking on “links” wasn’t so bad, either.

Wednesday, January 11th

Seeing XP in action at a Microsoft event at the Buffalo Hyatt was the clincher.  The “Big, Bad, Evil Monopoly” changed its ways in terms of engineering goals and large scale quality control, yet created a more stable and advanced system that ANYONE could use.  Unless, of course, you just can’t get along without a command line, but I for one am NOT a DOSosaur.  (If you are reading this months or years from now, please note *I* coined the term here.)

Window Me is loosing stability, and so is a lot of my hardware.  It’s time to ante up and get a new system.

Friday, January 18th

Christina finally got to cheerlead, and it was at OLSHOP!  St. Martin’s played STA — I guess they don’t have an adequate gym for basketball.  They had to stop the game to let the cheerleaders by, and they kept being told to stop during free throws, and at the end of the game.  They did a good job otherwise.  The STA “Eagles” lost by almost twice the points.  They made a lot of great passes — to the other team.  There were some good players on both sides though.

The painting in the plaza is finally done, though a few touch-ups on the touch-ups may be in order.

Last-but-not-least, my office is NETWORKED.  Mike sort of moved in (at least his computer) and along with the old computer, draws a connection off the new one, a P4 (1.4 Ghz) with 256 Mbytes RAM.  Windows XP all around, there’s no need for a Linux box for a firewall or file sharing!  Sorry Linus!

Oh, one more thing — Ernie Reid, a business acquaintance (from a client that went out of business) is making sales calls from the office on behalf of Kentropolis.  If it works out, the world will change quite quickly.

Monday, February 4th

Everything happened at once.  I was on the phone with someone from Ghana, irate new tenants at bay, while Susan, Eddy, and Mike were in.  Then, of course, Lady has to go out and poo.  Everything came out alright in the end though.   :^}

I still don’t know what to do about Easter.  I found out the Sunday before yesterday that Christina’s mom booked a cruise and vacation that would stop me from seeing Christina on both Easter and Good Friday, which I try to do every year.

Tuesday, February 5th

I woke from a dream this morning.  Christina and I were sitting and talking at Disney World.  Immense peace washed over me, and it didn’t seem to matter if it was real or not when I woke.  In some strange way it brought me comfort from recent stress.

We had pork chops and “miniature cabbage” for dinner today.  I then realized — it was the first time I had Brussel Sprouts!  Not bad at all.  If it wasn’t fro my wife, I wouldn’t even know half the vegetables out there existed except in books.

On another note, I can’t get over the experience of this immersive, 3-D, role-playing video game I started playing last Saturday night — Deus Ex.  It’s a whole ‘nother world of conspiracies and intrigue, with a diversity of life-like characterizations.  It’s so immersive, it’s almost TOO real.  Half-Life was good, if disturbing at times, but this is a whole new level, where you can play the game so many different ways and have different outcomes — more like real life.  What’s best about Deus Ex for me is that you can sneak around or knock out “the enemy” without having to kill them.  Finally, a game for pacifists, too!

Wednesday, February 6th

Christina called me today to tell me about her tutoring.  She’s helping 2nd graders to read.  She said it’s strange for her because she could read well before that age.

Friday, February 8th

Everything is settled for Christina’s Easter vacation.  I will miss out on Easter with her, and the time I like to spend with her on Good Friday.  Instead, I have some extra time on many of the weekends I see her during the year.  Starting on Friday night instead of Saturday morning will make our life with Christina seem more normal.

Sunday, February 17th

Today was Christina’s cheerleading competition at Canisius College, with their team taking 2nd place out of three.  At her school, she became the first student ever to submit a project in PowerPoint.  It was on the seven sacraments.  Too bad the pastor never returned the viewer to the school so that she could show it that way!

Thursday, March 21st

Things have been busy, good and bad, this month.  On the bad side, one of the new tenants has been found to be less than well mentally.  At first, I was angry, almost hateful about it all — the lies, harassment, ridiculous complaints and accusations.  I had to step away from it and let Sid (the landlord) handle it.  I just don’t respond as politely as I’d like to manipulative intimidation, and my stress from it was beginning to make Merry want to move.  The Tai Chi class tonight was small, and ultimately therapeutic more for me than anyone!  One of the students, who I would easily call friend, helped me realize I had to stop reacting, as that was only encouraging them like a shark smells blood.  I knew I had to take a breather to absorb all that happened over the course of the day (and last few weeks), process it, and make peace with myself over my own attitude about it all.

On the good side, all of a sudden I have people actually paying invoices.  I even have some new work, and more in the works!  Of course this means I got to pay all my bills up to the end of the month and beyond, but only after late charges on some of them. 

I talked to Christina on the phone the last few days.  She cried when we said goodbye, dropping her off on Tuesday.  I already miss her.

Good Friday, March 29th

I did the usual personal tradition today, but without Christina.  I really needed this breather to really look at my life and how I’ve been dealing with things.  I really need more time out for the sake of my soul.  I’ve also gotten the urge to write again.  My autobiography?  Maybe a few bits and pieces, but not a journal like this.  Life isn’t a timeline, but more like a mesh of interacting people, places, things, feelings, and thoughts.  Most of all for me thoughts.

My upline provider has been less than satisfactory in handling the server upgrade, forgetting this or that, or omitting letting me know of specific things that needed to be watched.  Not doing the upgrade itself, time and again when they said they would, was the worst.  If I could afford the trouble of switching servers, I would seriously consider it.

Thursday, April 11th

Yesterday we went to Borders by the Galleria Mall.  I finally got to spend a gift card I got for Christmas.  I bought the CD “Ground Zero”, a collection of miscellaneous modern international music.  On the way out, I saw Julia (and old friend) and her boyfriend Tony (an old Nine Dragon student).  They pretended not to recognize me (as I them) and they all but ran out the door.  She put a little weight on (and could use it) and he still had somewhat Einsteinian hair.  I wish I knew how they were doing — I hadn’t spoken with them since a few common friends betrayed me back in 1995.

Wednesday, April 17th

A Fish Story

I’ve been working my butt off between painting and cleaning the gulley next to C Building.  It was nothing short of a landfill, and now it’s almost back to its natural state, awaiting future generations of litter.  I asked Sid if he would finance an expedition to have it cleaned, and we agreed to slowly eat away at it as weather and ground conditions safely allowed.  However, a few tenants have called the Town of West Seneca, who in turn blamed us for the mess and threatened a fine if it wasn’t cleaned up  in one week (although it’s actually county property).  Fortunately we received a week extension, although it was almost done on time anyway.

In the process of going up and down a ladder (left behind by the painters who did the halls and basements during the holidays), often times in the rain and mud, I noticed something “flopping” in the wetlands below, a few yards away.  The water level went down from the previous day and trapped a whale of a rainbow trout.  I tried moving it to a larger puddle in the drainage stream, but it flopped too much.  Then I got the brilliant idea of putting it in the bathtub to show Merry when she got home.  (I recalled a story when Merry was a child asking if she could keep a fish caught in a fishing trip that was temporarily kept in the bathtub.  I can just see her licking their lips when they broke it to her that it was dinner.)

I hardly fit into the 5-gallon pail, and seemed alright in the tub, but when I returned from the wetlands to check on it, I realized I had forgotten their proclivity toward jumping.  I tried stimulating the gills by dragging it back and forth in the water, but it had been out attempting perambulation too long.  It was the first big fish I caught in my life, and with my bare hands (and without a license), so like any other fisherman, I had a picture taken of me with the fish smiling.  (Well, I was the one smiling.)

Choir practice

We had choir practice today instead of Saturday due to church availability.  I love the music we practice in the “Schola Cantorum” (a nickname along with “Musica Intima” for our mini-choir at church).  More and more, especially singing Lallouette (French Classical), I can hardly believe my voice is coming out of MY mouth.  I never thought I would sing (or be able to sing) such beautiful and complex music.

Soup Kitchen

Christina is trying to catch up on community service hours, so we’ve been doing the soup kitchen at her school/church.  It’s not as organized as the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, and a lot smaller, but I am grateful it gives Christina a chance to experience the reality of the needy in some small way.  I take her there, even on days I don’t have visitation.  Most people she knows are too uncomfortable to work with the poor, and I don’t want her to end up that way.

Thursday, May 9th

Today, I saw my first white-out since winter … and it was RAIN!  For a few minutes, traffic was at a crawl with nearly no invisibility.  There have only been sporadic more-than-a-day dry spells hear, but at least it’s comfortably warm otherwise.

I’m finally actively seeking help in my business, starting with more sales people on commission.  I confirmed this with my Dad and he agreed it was what needed to be done.  Everybody claims they gave me the idea, when in fact most of them are right.  The best idea was my Dad’s though (go figure), which is to hire seniors.

Thursday, May 23rd

Josh called — he got back from Afghanistan two days ago.

Saturday, June 8th, 2002

Monday I went on Christina’s class field trip on the Miss Buffalo (boat tour).  A few days later, one of the bridges fell, slamming the top of the boat.  Fortunately, no one was badly hurt.

Last night was the Miranda’s Dance Academy recital — I came in during intermission because Christina’s part was later in the show.  It was better than last year I thought.  From where I sat, Christina really was the prettiest girl there.

This morning / afternoon, I held two Tai Chi demonstrations at a convention for Girl Scout leaders at Seven Hills Campgrounds in Holland, NY.  I ran into old high school classmates, including Judy Nowak, who didn’t look a day older than the last time I saw her at graduation.  She said I “really looked good” and I explained that I gained weight and then lost it over the last few years.

This evening, I went to Niagara Falls with Mer-Mer.  We ate at the restaurant overlooking the Canadian falls from Goat Island.  We went near there last fourth of July to see the fireworks, but she never saw the falls from there, or that close.  The food was incredible — the most perfectly, evenly cooked, thick hamburger I ever had.  We took the tram back after dark to the parking lot we were in, and the driver was entertaining.  He sounded like he had done this route non-stop for 16 hours or more every day his whole life, and at one point announced, “Now stopping for Three Sisters Island.  They’re … very dark.”

Tuesday, June 18th, 2002

Christina made smoothies for project on Guatemala.  Only three classmates barfed and she got a good grade.

Last Saturday, Christina and I went to Dunkirk to look at the graves.  They don’t need much work this year, as we put in planters and perennials.  We stopped by my Grandparent’s house on Roberts Road before leaving town.  I told the old gentleman on the porch, Ted Murphy (who had recently bought the house) that it was in my family for over 100 years and wondered if he found any “Jumping Jacks” (sort of miniature pansies).  Everything had been tilled over too many times.  Even the raspberry bushed in between the garages taken out.  However, he had been getting calls for a “Tom” (I think) Szopinski.  I said they might be related, but I wasn’t sure.  Then he handed me two temporary grave markers he found in the garage laying against the wall — those of my Great-Grandparents (Walter and Antoinette Szopinski).

Talking to my Aunt Bobbie (and my Godmother), I just found out my second cousin Robbie died, leaving a teenage daughter behind that I didn’t know existed.  I don’t think I ever met him.  I wonder how uncle Tony (his father) is doing.

June 21st – 1st Day of Summer

It was the D’Youville Alumni “Bash” at the Buffalo Bisons‘ game this evening.  The got beaten by the “Toledo Mud Hens” — I love that name.  I really had a good time with Merry, especially watching the mascot antics and fireworks.  Mer bought me a really nice Bison’s hat (beige)

Thursday, June 27th, 2002

Little by little, I played through the entire game Halo on Legendary (suicidal) difficulty, finishing the end today.  I went back to try the last part on easy, and it was a joke — I didn’t get killed at all, and didn’t even need a single health pack!  I Love Mike’s Xbox!

Yesterday, I didn’t put on shoes.  I know this sounds crazy, but this was a first.  Everything I needed to do was around here, so I didn’t bother, and it felt both good and strange.  Merry insisting I get sandals and not wear socks with them (against my Polish heritage, I might add) inspired me, I suppose.  Maybe I’ll be able to walk barefoot on a stony beach by end of summer!

This week’s Am-Pol Eagle featured me in their weekly profile of local Polish-Americans.  A few errors, but it was neat — it reminded me of all the articles about my Dad over the years regarding promotions and stuff.  I used a 5-year-old picture — it was all I had where I looked professional.  I need a new portrait with a suit!