Runners Are Bad! Dogs are Good!



WEEK 6 – APRIL 20 > APRIL 26, 2020


Keeping in step with my new motto from last week, I gave myself a day to think about what to write today.  My personal desire was to have a somewhat angry counterpoint to a few articles in the Chicago Tribune this past week or two shaming runners for their behavior during the coronavirus outbreak.  (If you want to read them, I posted some links at the bottom of this post.)  But I have decided to address them and then move on.

In essence, the beef with runners is that we are not following the social distancing rules in the minds of those that have swarmed to the places we run to take up space where we had plenty of room to exercise before.  When the stay-at-home mandate took effect, we were told that we could go outside and exercise but only if we maintained social distancing.  So what did non-exercisers do?  They came in droves to the trails with their families and pets.  The almost immediate effect of all those people now joining the regulars on the bike and running paths resulted in the complete shutdown of some of those places.  Thanks to the non-regulars, we regular users of the paths were forced off.

I read another article about rats starting to move away from their normal hangouts behind restaurants and groceries where dumpsters normally overflow with tossed food scraps in search of food that is no longer being tossed.  Funny how animal behavior changes when they are fighting to survive.  And just like the rats, runners had to find other places to run since the non-runners ruined our ability to exercise away from the busy streets and sidewalks.  And now they don’t like us anywhere.

When did we runners become villains?  For the most part, we are some of the most healthy people on the planet.  We run for charities, raising millions of dollars for worthy causes.  We support new runners attempting to reach their running goals.  Many of the running and cycling clothing companies have switched their focus to making masks for healthcare workers and frontline personnel.  Some runners and cyclists even do their activity as a way to commute to and from work, helping reduce the impact of driving on the environment.  For the most part, we are good, upstanding citizens.

Maybe it’s envy.  I get that from time to time.  Because I enjoy running or biking mile after mile and they don’t, they want to make sure that they think it is a dumb endeavor.  “That’s crazy.”  “I wouldn’t even want to drive that far.”  “What’s wrong with you?”  “Run, Forrest, run!”  (That’s a put-down, not a cheer most of the time.)

Who knows really why there’s a division being drawn?  I certainly don’t know.  I think people just like to bitch about stuff.  What I do know is that I’m not going to let some non-regulars keep me from doing my activity.

Anyway…  here’s a picture of our new family dog!  He’s a good boy!  And he takes my mind off of the stuff that gets me riled.

He likes sticks.  And leaves.  And fingers.  And rocks.  And anything that moves.


  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  4 rides  /  70.2 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  22 miles

Here’s the links to the articles.  What are your thoughts?

Are we having fun yet?


Give It A Day



WEEK 5 – APRIL 13 > APRIL 19, 2020


While on my 27-mile bike ride on the local bike trail Saturday I had constructed a profanity-laced diatribe for this post about the idiots out on the trail, complete with f-bombs and venting that would make a sailor blush.  Although the windy day was the main reason I opted to ride the trail, I usually avoid it.  Too many people not being considerate to others by not following the simplest trail usage rules is what really gets me ticked off.  And now that the self-isolating, stir crazy, cabin fever locals have decided to head to the trail it’s become overrun with people who just can’t seem to think about anyone but themselves.  Then I gave it a day and now I’m writing a completely different weekly wrap-up than what I had planned.

I have found that when I get upset about something if I just give it a day’s rest, I often feel less angry and more forgiving.  I’ve also read that those who have been wronged in some way or another, being forgiving often leads to feeling relieved.  So one day after feeling like I wanted to run over people for walking on the wrong side of the trail, and punching pet owners letting their dogs roam free while holding their leash in their hands, I chose to let it go.  And I feel better about it.

I have a local runner friend who developed a running-related injury and from his Facebook post, you could tell it was something that he was upset about.  So far this year, the work he had been doing as an ambassador for the Illinois Marathon had been for naught, as the race has been canceled thanks to the viral pandemic.  He was also planning on running the race, too.  And now one of his coping mechanisms was letting him down.  Give it a day, my friend.  Maybe give it a week or month if you have to.  But in time you will be back to running, and your marathon will return too.

This week was a wild one.  We had two accumulating snow events this mid-April.  A day after each one the snow was gone.  The week ended with a beautiful 60-degree sunny day.  Give it a day and things get better.

Lots of changes have been occurring to our lifestyles in 2020, and sometimes I think we just need to give it a day.  And maybe another day.  Or a week.  In some cases a month.  But we will return to normal.

I might make “give it a day” my new motto.


  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  48 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  21 miles
5 weeks down – 25 to go

It’s A Sign!



WEEK 4 – APRIL 6 > APRIL 12, 2020


Happy Easter!

Spring is here and there are signs everywhere!  As a runner who spends the majority of his time running staring at the ground 5-6 feet ahead of me, I’m surprised I notice anything going on around me.  But lately, I have noticed a lot of signs out on the trail.  From the little flowers that are blooming right along the edge of the path to the painted rocks that people are placing in public places and along the trail to brighten everyone’s day.  The grass is greening up and judging from the hayfever I’m experiencing, I’m guessing everything is about to go from winter grey to a very colorful spring.

I have also seen some new signs out on the trail.  Signs measuring the six-foot safe passing distance and reminders to please pass others in a single file way.  Someone has placed a reflector sign on the unofficial path that I maintain that’s used to access the nature preserve to help them remember where to get on the path.  Not sure it needed a sign because it’s really the only path like it on the abandoned frontage road, but it’s definitely a sign that someone else is utilizing my little path.

Another sign I’ve been seeing is my buddy John texting “Day Done” in our group chat that he’s completed the day’s workout.  Could that be a sign that he’s joining the Gunners in Louisville this year?!?!  That would be quite a sign!


  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  2 rides  /  32.5 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  23 miles.
I’m a Libra, what’s your sign?

My Search For American Muscle – Part VIII


I’m back after quite a hiatus from posting about my search for a classic car to buy.  My last post was last fall and I realized that the search would probably take a little break for a while over the holidays and through winter.  Fall and winter can be an enticing time to buy a car because the owners that want to sell generally do so after the summer cruise season.  But living in the Chicagoland area I didn’t want to have to displace my regular driver from the garage to the driveway and deal with scraping snow and ice off it and the rest of the misery of leaving my car outside.

But I was and am looking every day for cars that I am interested in.  It seems like the market for these cars has dried up somewhat though.  When I first started looking a year and a half ago it seemed like there were plenty of great cars out there for sale.  I’m not seeing quite as many good options.  Part of my problem is my narrow search scope.  I keep saying that I haven’t ruled out any make or model from the muscle car era, but I certainly have my favorites.  Number one and two on my list is still the 1967 Plymouth GTX and Dodge Coronet R/T, the two high-end B-bodies from Mopar from that year.  I also still have an interest in the Olds 442 from 1967 as well.  I caught myself studying 1968 – 1970 Roadrunners, too!  I’ve shied away from Chevelle’s, GTO’s, Camaro’s, etc. because they tend to be very popular with collectors and that drives up the cost.  I love those cars, but I want something a little more unique than what you see at every car show or cruise-in.  I’m also wanting to own a convertible if possible.  Wish me luck with that.

I was very busy last summer and fall and missed out on the blue Coronet R/T that was for sale.  I kept checking on it often and then one day it was no longer available.  I regret that I didn’t pull the trigger on it.  I regret not pulling the trigger on most of the ones that are no longer available.  You can read about that car in this previous post:  My Search For American Muscle – Part VI  – It kind of explains why I was reluctant to jump on that one.

The two things that I have repeated in these posts before is one, I am a little picky (see above) and two, the hunt for the car seems to be the part that I enjoy the most.  Maybe secretly I don’t actually want a muscle car, just want to satisfy my interest in them by acting like I do!

One thing that intrigues me about the cars I am interested in is their past history.  I find the provenance, as they say, to be an important part for me.  With that, here are three cars that are currently on my watch radar and what I know about them.


1967 OLDSMOBILE CUTLASS 442 W-30 CONVERTIBLE – Volo Cars listing link


Very high on my wish list right now is this beautiful 1967 442 W-30 convertible from the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois.  The very first car I looked at in my quest was also a drop-top ’67 442, but after driving it, I felt like that particular car just wasn’t the one for me.  It had a few little issues that I wasn’t happy with.  (Read about it here:  My Search For American Muscle – Part I)  This one looks to be a lot nicer than that one.  This car has an awesome blue paint job that is pleasing to my eye, is super clean, is a four-speed, and – drumroll, please – it’s a W-30 optioned car!  What’s a W-30 option you ask?  It’s basically a forced air induction system that funnels cool outside air into the intake through inlets under the turn signals and through some tubes attached to a dual-snorkel air cleaner.  Also included was red plastic fender wells to reduce weight and to announce to everyone else that this car was no sleeper.  

So what’s up with this one?  The W-30 option was pretty rare in 1967, with approximately 500 of them made.  From what I can gather, the W-30 option that year was not limited to just factory installation and the dealer could install it as well.  While Volo doesn’t say that it is a true W-30 optioned car, they kind of leave it up to you to decide.  Time to check it out.

I searched the VIN of this car and found it to have traded hands a few times.  It appears that it was in Moline, IL in the early 2000s, then made it’s way to New Jersey where it was sold for $48,500.  But it was this photo that told me that it probably had the option added to it within the last two decades:


The air cleaner and air hoses are present but the red fender wells are obviously not in this photo from a previous listing of the car.  Plus, the ad listing doesn’t mention the W-30 option anywhere in the ad.  Another ad had this quote: “THIS IS HOW A 1967 W30 EQUIPPED CONVERTIBLE WOULD’VE ROLLED OUT OF THE FACTORY HAD IT BEEN MADE.”  That clears things up somewhat.

The car is an award winner, winning at a few Oldsmobile based shows, and it appears in a poster of 442’s, so it is a super cool and well-admired car, but the W-30 option probably wasn’t added on the car in 1967.  That’s just my guess.

Another tell-tale sign that it’s probably not a true W-30 is that it was sold earlier for around $49,000.  A true 1967 442 W-30, if it could be validated as real, would easily list at over $100,000 I would assume.


  • Definitely a head-turner
  • 4-speed
  • I love 442’s
  • It’s local, about 1.5 hours away


  • Current asking price is $65,000, which is on the high end for me
  • W-30 option was added on later to this car
  • I didn’t like the first one of these I drove and I am a little worried that this one would leave me feeling the same way.


1967 PLYMOUTH BELVEDERE GTX – Volo Cars listing link


Next up is this awesome 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX.  There’s really nothing wrong with this car that I can find.  It’s been restored to factory specifications and just looks awesome.  It’s been certified Concourse Gold at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, which means it appears to be 95-100% original to its factory condition.   Here’s a picture of the car at the MCACN’s:


One fun fact that I found about this car is that it was originally sold new for $3365 to a guy in Idaho.

There are two things about the car that are keeping me from buying it immediately.  First, it’s listed for nearly $67,000.  That’s a lot of cash.  The other thing is the car is so nice I would be afraid to drive it!  It’s a super nice car.

Another thing that is a head-scratcher for me is that the guy from Volo Cars knows his stuff, and really knows the value of these cars.  I’ve seen lots of lesser quality, non-Hemi 1967 GTX’s being sold for a lot more.  What’s up with that?  Maybe I should jump on this one!


  • A super nice GTX, one of the best I have come across
  • Another Volo Cars vehicle, which would be easy to go see
  • Car has lots of paperwork including build sheet and original Certi-card


  • It’s a trailer queen!  I’d be afraid to drive it anywhere
  • Expensive
  • Not a convertible, but I could live with that
  • I’d prefer the Magnum 500 wheels over the steel wheels with hub caps


1967 PLYMOUTH BELVEDERE GTX – Pacific Classics listing link


This GTX is in my wheelhouse!  It’s being offered at a decent price, it’s painted Turbine Bronze metallic (one of my favorite colors), and is a 4-speed.  The problem is that it’s in the Pacific Northwest, which is way too far for me to travel.  I do know someone in that area though – maybe I could talk my wife’s cousin into going to see it!

Here’s what I found out about this particular GTX.  A previous listing for this car revealed that it was sold in another part of Washington state just prior to this listing.  The pictures show it undergoing a frame-off restoration, which I believe was done before the seller bought the car.  The ad states that the car was a 2012 Mopar Nationals Silver awarded car.  So I looked that up and found a name for the owner:  Randy B. from Hebron, Kentucky.  Turns out Randy was typical of the car guys from the 1960’s.  He was a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran serving in the Marines.  Medal of Honor recipient.  Impressive.  I learned that from his obituary.  He passed away in 2016.  One of the condolences mentioned, “At least 1/2 of our conversations were about cars & his pristine ’67 GTX.”  I am kind of saddened to hear all that.  I found a listing of the car for sale for $45,000 with Randy as the contact, so he sold it prior to dying.

If my buddy John takes the time to comment on this post he would say “JUST BUY THE DAMN THING ALREADY” or something like that.  Of the four cars in this post, I would definitely be proud to own Randy’s car.


  • A very nice GTX in Turbine Bronze Metallic paint
  • 4-speed car
  • Price is good – $54,000


  • It’s out in the Seattle area and I’m not sure I want to go see it
  • The only flaw I can see is a small little indentation in the hood near the “M” in Plymouth
  • Not a convertible, although I do kind of dig the black vinyl roof


One last thing:  The current state of affairs in the world concerning the pandemic associated with Covid-19/Corona virus may dampen my search for a while.  Even the listing for the last car above said they are temporarily closed.  Although my wife and I are still working and have the money set aside to purchase a hobby car, I’m not sure how things with the economy are going to turn out.  It seems a little risky to make such a purchase right now.  Time will tell.





What’s the Deal with Calf Cramps?



WEEK 3 – MARCH 30 > APRIL 5, 2020


It’s a really strange time in the world right now but I am doing my best to keep some normalcy in my life, and training for my fifth Ironman is helping a lot with that.  Many races scheduled for spring have either been canceled or postponed to the fall.  Fortunately, my race is scheduled for mid-October and hasn’t been affected yet but I am training with crossed fingers and doing each workout with the thought in the back of my mind that if things don’t improve with this virus, I may be training for naught.

But since I’m Mr. Optomist, I’m keeping a positive outlook and will keep training for Ironman Louisville until I’m told otherwise.  I’d be doing some kind of training anyway, regardless if I was signed up for a race.

The weather has started to turn a little for the better and with the warmer temps, I find myself riding outside more and relying less on the spin bike.  This has reminded me a couple of things.  First, a spin bike is a decent workout but it’s no substitute for riding outside.  Secondly, riding outside is killing me!  My butt is sore and hates me for making it sit on a bike saddle that was clearly not designed for comfort.  And my calves have decided that cramping up while riding is a fine thing.


Maybe only triathletes will find this funny.


As a longtime runner, I don’t remember ever having cramps from running.  It’s only when I started doing triathlons and in particular training for Ironman that they became a thing.  I would get cramps in my feet when swimming, which is really weird because you aren’t even using them much.  I knew when the foot cramps came on it was time for me to get out of the pool because they would get worse before they got better.  Plus it gave me an excuse to quit swimming because I hate it.

Most of my rides are short enough during the week that cramps aren’t a problem.  It’s the longer weekend rides that cause them.  Specifically, I am referring to calf cramps.  I’ll be spinning along doing just fine and then I will get that first warning twinge.  I’ve gotten pretty good at backing off the intensity and avoiding the dreaded “Charley Horse”.  Severe cramps really don’t occur while biking.  No, they save themselves for when you are in bed trying to sleep.  Move your foot just the wrong way under the covers and BOOM – Cramp City.

In all honesty, though, the cramps were a much more frequent occurrence when I was first starting out in the sport.  That first year training for Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 I would experience them much more often after a long ride.  But I am much more experienced now and they don’t seem to bother me as much as they used to.

Other triathletes are always looking at the reason behind the calf cramps.  Some say it’s due to being dehydrated.  Or not enough salt, potassium or other minerals in your diet or hydration drink.  I don’t disagree with those reasons contributing to calf cramps, but I don’t think it’s the main reason.  I have found a correlation to getting calf cramps with an increase in a certain activity that you haven’t been doing and/or the intensity of the new activity.  Calf cramps for me are always at the beginning of a 30-week training cycle when I stop spinning an easy gear on the spin bike indoors and actually have to work when I ride outdoors.  I always want to jump right back in where I left off in the late fall and ride with the same intensity that I had built up over the course of the summer.  That’s a silly mistake that I always make and relearn every spring.  Cramps also generally occur towards the end of a ride, when you have been spinning your legs at 90+ rpm and haven’t given them a single break.

Some athletes will also treat the symptoms of a cramp rather than why they are cramping in the first place.  Somewhere someone decided that pickle juice is the wonder drink to prevent cramps.  What a horrible thing to drink.  And there’s a company out there that produces a drink product that claims to stop cramps as soon as you feel them coming on.  This drink has a combination of ginger, cinnamon and a strong pepper in it that is supposed to re-wire your nerves to stop the cramp.  That seems dumb, but the science behind it kind of makes sense.  The theory is that when you over-stimulate the nerves in your muscles they go haywire.  When you start to cramp you take a drink of their product (or something very strong tasting, like pickle juice) and that strong taste of it refocuses your brain away from the over-excited nerves in your cramping leg.  People swear that it works.  But wouldn’t you rather not cramp up than have to treat it with some crazy drink?  I would.

I do find that after a few weeks of retraining my legs for the workload and backing off how hard I push myself will result in the cramping occurrence to fade and be a lot less of a problem.  By the end of the training period and when race day comes, cramps will pretty much be a non-issue for me.

So I truly believe that calf cramps from cycling come from an increase in the activity from being off for a long period and then working them too hard when restarting your training regimen.  It’s overexertion, plain and simple.  So hopefully I will never need to carry pickle juice with me on a ride.


  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  53.5 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  20.5 miles
I’m not really an optimist.



I have become a fan of listening to podcasts recently.  I’m not sure why I avoided them before, but my son is a fan and puts out a podcast with his girlfriend that I enjoy listening to, so I started looking for other things that might be interesting.  I stumbled across a podcast called Heavyweight, where the host Jonathan tries to help people resolve something from their past that has bothered or troubled them.  Sometimes it results in getting the answer the person is seeking, but often the process just helps them find peace with whatever their issue was.  One episode dealt with Jonathan trying to patch up a relationship with his father and uncle.  Another dealt with a woman who was kicked out of her college sorority without any real reason and numerous years later she wanted to know why.  I really like the vibe of the show as well.  You get a sense of virtual hand-holding or a virtual hug being given.  I guess it makes you feel good.  If you’d like to give it a listen, I’ve included a link to the web page at the bottom of this post.

After listening to a half a dozen or so episodes I started to wonder what my heavy weight might be.  I have a lot of things that I wish I could change or go back in time and fix.  But it was a dream I had the other night about an old friend that made me wonder why I lost touch with this person.  It was troubling enough for me that I grew tired of thinking about the dream after waking up and got out of bed a half-hour early just to clear my head.  If I had the opportunity to be on Heavyweight I guess it might go something like this:

HEAVYWEIGHT – Today’s Episode:  Chris and “My Friend Joe From Work”

In 1986 I was fresh out of college and by August I had started my first ever real job as a forensic scientist trainee for a small, private crime lab.  The internship I had completed in my last semester of college had given me some confidence and I thought I was prepared for the job.

The boss’s name was Andrew, and he would not suffer any fools.  I was a fool.  I had no real idea of what was expected of me or how to take initiative and it showed.  My internship had provided me structure and gave me tasks to perform as I learned how to analyze the minute details of stuff that is evidence.  At this lab, it took me a while to figure out that I wasn’t there to learn stuff, I was expected to know stuff and apply it.  I was learning the ropes as a trainee, except I wasn’t really a trainee in matters of scientific analyses, but rather a trainee for a period of time to see if I had the stuff to do the job.  Andrew once told me that he didn’t expect me to know everything, but he did expect me to try to find an answer to things I needed to learn.  That was good to know, but I got the feeling that if I didn’t start applying myself I was going to be gone.  I just didn’t know how to accomplish being more productive.

One time I got scolded by Andrew for having my hands in my pockets.  He said it made me look like I wasn’t doing anything.  Thirty years later and I still avoid putting my hands in my pockets unless they are really cold.  I wasn’t given a key to the building at first and it took me probably at least a half year before I finally mustered enough courage to ask him for one.  Andrew seemed like he was testing me, to see how much I could take.  He set the tone for how I would approach my bosses in subsequent jobs – avoid them as much as possible.  When Andrew gave me something to do, it was more like a command rather than a request.  I was slow to find my purpose there, but there was one saving grace – Andrew’s son Joe also worked there and Joe and I hit it off from day one.

My first day on the job I pulled into the parking lot and parked my tired 1971 Oldsmobile 442 in one of the spots and knocked on the door.  Joe had been given the task of guiding me around the lab and showing me the ropes.  Joe was a couple of years older than I was and it was clear we liked the same things.  He saw my 442 and said he was into old cars too.  He had owned a 1974 Camaro that was stolen from Six Flags in Gurnee and he really missed it.  We talked about cars and music.  We both had older siblings that provided us with similar musical tastes.  He took to calling me Skippy for some dumb reason and we became buddies quick and had a lot of fun.

I gradually started figuring out how to at least look busy and productive and avoid having the boss screw with my mind.  I eventually grew to gain some of Andrew’s trust and I came to respect the man.  He was a tough boss, and I benefited from that.  I learned to figure things out and to take initiative.  But I might not have lasted very long without connecting with Joe.  Having the trust of the boss’s son was definitely in my favor.  Andrew eventually promoted me from a trainee to a Forensic Scientist 1, gave me a raise, and I felt like I had won him over.

Some of my fond memories of working with Joe were centered around our lunch break.  We would go grab something to eat or take our sack lunches outside to the picnic table in the grassy area near the parking lot and have lunch with a couple other coworkers.  Joe and I would finish eating and then grab a football or baseball and gloves out of our cars and play catch until it was time to go back inside.  I had a bocce ball set that I kept in the trunk of the car and we would have a great time putting our own spin on the game.  We often came back inside somewhat sweaty after a hot lunch break.

We talked a lot about our childhood.  We shared stories about friends and family.  Joe took pleasure in learning about my Kansas family background and I secretly wished I was Italian after hearing his stories of his family.  His uncle Rocco was a great source of stories.  Rocco played for George Halas and the Chicago Bears briefly in the 1940s, and would occasionally visit Andrew at the lab.  He was a character.

I would spend the weekends back home with my longtime friends, often telling them about what Joe and I were up to.  I always referred to Joe as “my friend Joe from work,” which made them roll their eyes.  I think they grew a little annoyed hearing about my friend Joe from work.

We did a lot of similar things in our respective childhoods, but he had more of a motley crew of friends.  Joe’s story of a buddy named Clifford, who’s dad would yell “Dammit to Hell, Clifford!” whenever he was frustrated with the kid, which I found amusing and still sticks with me today.  I catch myself uttering it still, even though I have never met Clifford or his dad.  He had this other guy he knew that seemed like that guy from the movie Sling Blade, and Joe would use that voice and say “Mmm…  I don’t know what all or what of it, or something.”  Such a corny saying, but funny to him and to me as an outsider as well.  Another kid Joe would talk about had a speech impediment and would say his phone number as “pipe-six-six-o-pour-pipe-seven,” that’s 566-0457 if you are wondering.  I heard that story so many times remember it like it was my own phone number.  I catch myself asking my kids to pass me something at the dinner table with the added instruction to not touch it, a nod to Joe’s story about his younger brother getting ice cream from a guy he didn’t like.  And I still occasionally will say “shep-up” for ketchup and “eegoot” for yogurt because Joe’s kids said it that way.

In the nine years that Joe and I worked there together, we had a lot of fun.  I eventually got acclimated to my purpose there and became productive.  Andrew was nearing retirement and was softening somewhat.  I think the prospect of retirement and his growing number of grandchildren were taking his mind off of work stuff.  Andrew did eventually plan to leave the lab, but before doing so he brought in his oldest son Charles to be the assistant director and learn the ropes.  I think his goal was to groom Charlie to take over, but I’m not sure that pleased the board of directors that were in charge of this little regional private crime laboratory.  They had let Andrew manage the lab his way and maybe they were looking for a change.  To Charlie’s credit, he had a more gentle and likable style, and with what little time I got to know Charlie, we got along quite well.

Andrew started spending less time in the lab and it wasn’t long before we learned that he had cancer.  Charlie took over the reins of the lab in an interim capacity as director and we soldiered on.  Andrew passed away in December 1992.

Then along came the Brown’s Chicken Massacre in Palatine, Illinois in January 1993.  Palatine Police contracted our lab for general crime lab duties, but we also assisted with crime scene processing and they requested our help.  I spent seven days there doing my best, assisting in the preservation of evidence that would eventually convict two guys of seven homicides.  But before the case was solved, it had turned cold as they say, and blame was starting to get cast our way for the lack of progress in solving these deaths.  Eventually, the laboratory board decided to make some changes and replace Charlie with another coworker he had trained.  First to go was Joe, fired by the new staff and Charlie was also let go.  The era of Andrew and his kids was over.

Even though I was upset that Joe and Charlie had been let go, I stuck around because I was a newlywed, had a mortgage and no other options for employment at the time.  Joe was kind enough to get me an interview with another laboratory in DuPage County and I was offered a position, but having to move and leave something that I had worked hard to earn my place at was hard to leave.  I felt like I had lost a battle but was given a reprieve and allowed to stay even though it was no secret I was fond of Joe and Charlie.  I wanted to be loyal to Joe and stand up for him and his brother, but I was scared.  I often wonder if Joe might have thought that I had betrayed him by staying.  I really don’t know.  I swallowed my pride, opted to stay and tried to become a team player with the new lab management.

My career at the lab would last only a couple more years.  I  like to blame OJ Simpson for me losing my job.  The murders essentially put the forensic science field under its own microscope as OJ’s defense team tore apart the experts and made them look inept.  The board of our private lab didn’t want our lab to be scrutinized, so they decided that pursuing an accreditation status with a lab governing body was the way to go.  One of the accreditation requirements was that anyone working in the lab had to possess a natural science degree, and my major in law enforcement and minor in chemistry didn’t cut it. The official wording was “your position was eliminated and replaced it with one needing different educational requirements” or something like that.   I was told thanks and good luck and escorted out.

I phoned Joe right after that and informed him that I had been let go.  We chatted briefly and he seemed like he was moving on with life.  I think that is probably the last time I spoke with my friend Joe from work.

In the mid-2000s, I ran into Charlie when we were subpoenaed to testify at the Brown’s Chicken murder trial.  We were being deposed and spent a couple of hours together sitting on wooden chairs in a sterile old courtroom office.  We chatted about how our lives had changed for the better since being gone from the lab and I think we were both relieved to hear each other say things were going great.  I asked about Joe and he said that Joe hadn’t really talked much with him.  That was a big surprise to me because they were all such close-knit siblings.  I could sense that Charlie had the same feelings and concerns about his relationship with Joe that I had.

When Facebook came along and I finally jumped on board, I searched for him and did not find him.  That wasn’t surprising to me as Joe was a pretty private guy.  But I did find that his son was there.  I sent him a private message, telling him who I was and asked if he could tell his dad that I had been thinking about him and tell him hello.  He replied that he would.  I didn’t really expect it to evoke a response from Joe, and I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive one.

And with that, I moved on from thinking about Joe unless something triggered a memory.  I stopped dwelling over a lost friendship until the dream that I had once again rekindled my curiosity.

So here’s where Jonathon from Heavyweight would ask what do I want to accomplish.  Do I want to reconnect with Joe?  I’m not really sure.  I guess I am more prone to let sleeping dogs lie.  But I do have questions.  Did I do something that made him mad at me?  Did he just decide to walk away from the past and look ahead to the future?  Is he doing well?  Does he ever think about me?

I was curious about my old lab and a search for information on them found that they had changed their name and moved from their original location.  As I looked through the website I discovered that a couple of employees that I had previously worked with were still there and looked to be doing well.  And then I found an article about a celebration of the lab’s 50th anniversary, and there was a picture of Joe.  I was a little shocked.  I never would have thought that he would reconnect with them after the history of what he and his brother had experienced.  He was there to receive an honor in memory of his father Andrew and Andrew’s contribution to the establishment of the crime lab. I guess Joe felt that it was a sign of respect and important enough to honor it.  He had a lot less hair (as do I!) but overall looked great.  That kind of gives me hope that maybe he isn’t avoiding me on purpose.

Maybe seeing his picture is enough.  I guess I will honor his privacy and let it be.  I still have fond memories.  I don’t want to ruin them.  Writing this was pretty cathartic for me.  So, to my friend Joe from work, if you are out there, I still think of you and hope you are doing well.

Your old friend, Skippy.


Heavyweight – by Gimlet Media