2008 Retrospective – Part I (Events)

(Warning: This blog entry promises to be long and detailed.  Read on at your own pace.  I have tried to break it down into different subjects. As well, I am going to be brutally honest and forthcoming.  Those of you that know me well are fully aware that I am one who shares my feelings — good and bad. )

I have not been able to write any updates on the blog for a while.  The last two months have been very hectic.  But, for the last week my mind has driven me bonkers as I have reviewed the events of this past year.  The year 2008 sent me on a MAJOR roller coaster ride with massive highs and lows.  But, I am still on the right side of the dirt in 2009 and have lived to tell about 2008, so here goes…..
2008 HIGHLIGHTS

There were a number of highlights in 2008…(all will be detailed later on in this entry)
-I got a job after 3 months of unemployment
-Another grandson was born — a real Christmas present
-I survived a harrowing automobile accident
-Many new and wonderful friends were made up in Canada and I saw some wonderful sights while up there
-Got to go on a cruise with my darling sweetheart and the Trailer Park Troubadours to Cozumel
-Worked on the now released Antsy McClain CD “New Good Old Days” and am currently the publicist for this release
-Enjoyed many FABULOUS experiences with my family
-My son Seth returned home after serving an honorable two year mission for the LDS Church
There were some “lowlights” as well, but I will just mention them in the context of the document below
TOUGH START TO 2008
The year started out rough for us.  I was unemployed and receiving unemployment.  I was working as a pizza delivery driver for Papa John’s to help supplement our income, but it wasn’t much.  By mid 2007 I had lost quite a bit of weight and was doing well on my diet and exercise.  But, the stress of the job at Lexmark, the pending job loss at the end of November, worried about paying bills, and working at a pizza joint for the last three months of the year threw me off kilter and I began to gain weight again.  By the time 2008 rolled around, I was on the receiving end of hand to mouth disease….since I don’t smoke, I literally ate my worries away.
However, thanks be to my good friend Joseph Higginbotham for introducing me to a company in Georgetown called Consultant Solutions, Inc. .  CSI, as they are called, provides numerous types of services to Toyota, including Japanese interpreting and consulting.  Through this introduction, I made contact with thad Johnson, the President.  Like me, he had worked on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) in Japan as had some of his other employees.  Bottom line, after a couple of meetings with him and his partner Ko Kishi, I was offered an opportunity.  This was exciting, but there was a real downside — I would go to Canada and would be up there for an indefinite amount of time, with only a once a month or so opportunity to come back home.  Nonetheless, we needed the work and I figured that the experience would do me some good.  So, on Jan. 31, 2008, I was on the way to Woodstock, Ontario for an adventure far beyond my expectations.  I was to work as an interpreter at the new Toyota facility being built in Woodstock.  
ON TO CANADA

With a great deal of sorrow and sadness, yet also with some excitement and anticipation, I headed north up I-75 thru Detroit to Canada.  I obtained my work visa at the border, headed thru Windsor, ON and then finally into Woodstock.  Initially I stayed in the Super 8 Hotel there in town and then took the 7 minute drive every morning to TMMC.  Woodstock is a pretty non-descript little town.  It has some nice old churches, but is in the middle of farmland and is really an agricultural area.  At least, that was my first impression.  Most of my first few days were spent at the hotel.  After my first week, I caught the flu and had to miss a couple of days of work. Not fun.  Then, just three days into my visit, I dropped my laptop on the floor while it was open.  I was carrying it to the bed to deal with a phone call.  The monitor was shattered and so were my spirits.  I ended up going across the street to Staples to get a standing external monitor (which actually made things much nicer to look at.  But, after doing that, I got all set up and the hotel’s internet went down!! I was devastated!! All of my efforts and complaining seemed to be of no avail.  
It got plenty cold and snowy.  This was my van on the day before I left to go back home.

Fortunately however, about mid-February, I was able to return home for a week…per prior arrangement with CSI and Toyota.  I had made arrangements to join Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours on their 2008 Polyesterfest Cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. Nothing like going from the great white north to the jungles of the Yucatan!!!
CRUISE TO COZUMEL

It was nice to get away from the cold of Canada and get back with my sweetheart for a Valentine’s trip to Cozumel.  We drove down to New Orleans and then took the cruise (see this link for more on the cruise).  It was lots of fun, but I have to admit here that I did a great disservice to Julianne as I spent a great deal of time doing Troubs’ work and did not focus on her as I should have!!  

     David and Julianne in front of the Tulum Mayan ruins on Yucatan Peninsula

After the 5 day/4 night cruise, it was back home from New Orleans and then back to the reality of Ontario.  Once I got back to Woodstock, I determined to stay at the Quality Inn rather than at the Super 8 hellhole….  I had the internet and the hotel was much nicer.
By week 2 back in Woodstock I had gotten into a small apartment in Paris, ON that sat alongside the beautiful Grand River.  It was much more pleasant than the hotel and the internet worked!! (see this link for more about Paris).  But, it was getting cold and snowy there in Ontario.
WORKING AT TMMC

It had been a few years since I had worked in a manufacturing facility.  And this plant was still under construction, so I was learning many new things.  It was quite an experience. I began the work effort both interpreting for the safety classes and interpreting down on the floor, mainly for the trainers on the Komatsu Presses.  Since it was a construction zone, we had to wear orange vests, gloves, helmets, safety glasses and safety shoes. Dressed to the hilt!!
Work went well and I was learning a great deal.  It was still hard to be up without family, but I basically survived using Skype to video conference with Julianne.
DISASTER HAPPENS

In  early March, I had the opportunity to go see my good friend Aaron Boone play football in Cleveland.  Aaron plays for the Utah Blaze in the Arena Football League.  I had been planing to go see this game for nearly 3 weeks and had also planned on visiting my Laurienzo half-sisters while in Cleveland. It so happened that as the weekend neared there were warnings everywhere about a pending massive snowstorm, but I was determined to go, despite Julianne’s strong requests not to.  I even took off early on that Friday, March 7, to get ahead of the storm.  But, as I was about one hour west of Cleveland, the skies darkened and the roads began to get seriously icy and slick.  Long story short, I was knocked off the road on I-90 bya semi and spun out and then had a head-on collision with the I-90 barrier wall.  I really thought that this was how it was going to end for me.  I was scared to death. (see this page for the extensive details).  It turned out that the car was totaled, but, thanks to heavenly blessings, I was saved and without a scratch. 

               Turned out to be worst snowstorm in years!!

After spending 2 nights in a hotel in Norwalk, I finally was able to get away and did make it to the game to see Aaron.  ut it came at great cost.  I did end up getting a new vehicle, a 4WD Ford Explorer, the next weekend.  
In retrospect, I really should not have gone.  But it really was wonderful to see my sisters Nicole and Tina and to also see Aaron play, despite a last second loss.
I spent nearly 6 weeks away from home before finally making it home on March 20 for Easter weekend.  Julianne spoke in church that weekend as well.
From then on I went home once every 4 weeks until May, when my contract with TEMA ended.  I was excited to finally get to go home and looked forward to the possibility of working in CSI’s Georgetown office, but it was not to be….
BACK TO CANADA, PART I

As I drove home that May weekend and made my way into the Sarnia border crossing, I was called by Thad Johnson.  TMMC’s Assembly Maintenance Department had requested I return and actually wanted me on that next Monday. So, my stay in Lexington was short again.  It was a sad departure, but this time it would only be for a month or so.  I had closed out the apartment, so I stayed in the Quality Inn again.
The work in Assembly was a much different job.  I was on my feet alot and I had tons of documents to translate.  But, it was interesting.  I was fascinated by all of the construction and seeing how a big manufacturing plant is put together piece by piece.
This contract ended at the end of June, so I was back on the road to Kentucky again, only to learn, once again, that I would be going back to Woodstock after the July 4th weekend to work the Body Weld Department.  This would be a longer contract.
BACK TO CANADA, PART II

Since I knew I would be returning again, I arranged for Julianne, along with Marissa, Adam and their daughter Jos, to come up to Ontario for the 4th of July weekend. We drove up together.  It was nice to share the trip, but I also knew the long contract (through at least October) would be grueling.  Fortunately, we were able to arrange for me to return home every other week, which was much nicer.  I will mention this family visit more below.
Once again, working in this area was fascinating.  The extremely complicated process of teaching the robots and keeping them all in sync so that tey don’t collide — now that is a massive undertaking.  It was amazing to watch and I wish there were some way I would have been able to take video.
RETURN TO KENTUCKY

At the end of October I finally was able to return home to Kentucky…be with family…work in Georgetown doing document translations. It was yet another learning curve, but a challenge I was ready and able to take on.  But it was not to last.  Around the beginning of November, I found myself on the way up to Canada again for a stint with Paint, but ended up working again in Body Weld since I did not have a paint suit to wear (that fit me).
Unfortunately, after being there for two days, I was walking through the plant to take care of an interpreting issue on the line and I tripped over a pallet stopper (a long, two inch tall metal beam attached to the floor).  I banged up my knee pretty bad.  Initially, I thought I would be OK, but after sitting down and having lunch, I was not able to stand on it at all.  Thad told me to come home immediately.  I did so, saw the doctor the next day and had X-rays.  Fortunately, nothing was broken, but I was not to do anything on a plant floor for a couple of weeks.  So, it was back to the office in Georgetown.
SETH RETURNS

In mid October Seth returned from his two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He served an honorable two years in the Salt Lake Valley.  Many, including us, wondered what it would be like to serve as a missionary where the church was supposedly pretty strong, but Seth filled us in and let us know that it was a challenging place to serve.  
It was a joy to see his return at the Lexington Bluegrass Airport.  He was meeting some of his nieces for the first time and was seeing all of us after a long time.
A TOUGH DECEMBER

The month of December had very few bright spots.  The economy had been slipping miserably since mid-year and I had lost nearly 40% of the value of my IRA retirement account.  Work at CSI was starting to thin out due to some issues we were having with a compay we did translations for in Japan. By mid-December, I was pretty much out of work at CSI.  As of today (January 2, 2009), I have been off for more than 2 weeks.  When I don’t work at CSI I don’t get paid.  So, in many respects, I am back where I was in December of last year…the equivalent of unemployed and working a couple nights a week at Papa John’s delivering pizzas.  I was hoping that work may reappear by Jan. 5, but, as of today (Jan. 11), I am still not bringing in any kind of substantial inclome – it is a chanallenge.
The upside is that I have been able to spend time at home with family, sped time working on the release of the new Trailer Park Troubadours CD and get some things done around the house as well.
JOY AND PAIN IN ONE WEEK

One of the most anticipated events of 2008 was the birth of my new grandson, Landen Noe.  On Dec. 16 Landen was born, making grandchild number 5.  Red headed and cute, much joy came of this wonderful addition to Julianne’s and my posterity.  (Marissa details all of this, with wonderful photos, in her blog at http://www.missnoeitall.typepad.com/
However, some of the brightness of this great event was dimmed by news that took place earlier that week.  My oldest daughter Amaree, who was with her husband Aaron and their two boys Kade and Charlie in Salt Lake on a visit, had called us with the sad and shocking news that she had miscarried her third child.  Amaree details the pain and sorrow of this in her blog entry at http://www.photokami.com/blog/?p=732.
Overall, it really was a blessed year as we had what we needed.  Throughout the year, though there was a great deal of physical separation, we shared many precious moments and much time together.

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