Friday, August 10, 2012

Alfred Kelley 1913-2012

Granddad passed away this summer at age of 99. He had taken a fall, requiring surgery. And while showing signs of improvement in the days immediately following, the ordeal proved too much for him. He died on the afternoon of Jun 7th in La Jolla, CA, shortly after a visit from his son and grandson.

On June 22, Al was buried in Quincy, MA next to his wife Lillian, who has passed away 12 years prior.

Mom, Dad, Sean, Jack, Carrie, and I attended the funeral service on a warm summer day at the Pine Hill cemetery. Uncle Jack prepared a moving speech. It was a quick and simple ceremony... as he had requested.

We laid him to rest, and then did as we knew he wanted. We celebrated his life by spending time with family. We visited the neighborhoods that my parents grew up in. We all went out for lobster dinner in Nantasket. We spent the afternoon walking around Boston. Sean and I took in a Red Sox game at Fenway. We drank some whisky. We drank some wine. We toasted to his extraordinary life. 

I miss him so much.

Alfred Kelley 1913-2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wanna get in Shape?

It's really pretty simple... for most of us anyways. Unless you have an injury, a glandular disorder, severe disability, or some other physical hindrance, its as easy as diet and exercise. Sorry if you thought I was going to offer some sort of miracle workout plan. There isn't one.

The reason many people can't seem to stay in shape, is the same one that keeps them toiling at a job they hate, or trapped in a relationship they've grown tired of. They are lazy. They don't want to have to work at something continuously. The idea is distasteful. Our fascination with the lottery, games shows, jackpots, and get-rich-quick pyramid scams all hold to the same pattern of thought... which is, "I don't really wanna work..." at least not for long anyways.

The same holds true for one's own physical fitness. Every few years someone makes a few million off some new twist to a workout video, all based on that same mentality. P90X, Insanity, Jane Fonda, etc. There is nothing special about any of them. The reason people like the idea is because they fantasize that once they've completed the routine, they'll never have to exert themselves again. And therein lies the problem. Until a person changes his or her mindset, they will never achieve anything in the long term. Its the same reason why most lottery winners end up broke. They never planned for continuous success. They set themselves up for failure before they even begin.

Wanna get in shape? There are a million ways. Wanna stay in shape? There is ONE way. Comes to terms with the idea that you will have to continue exercising and eating a healthy diet FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. For some people this very idea sounds horrendous. "But I don't wanna work!" Sure you can take a week off here and there. But you're going to gain a few pounds of fat and/or lose a few of muscle. That's simply how it works. Its nothing more than chemistry. Think of your body like a garden: If you continue to water it, feed it and weed will generally stay pretty healthy. But if you go to all that work and then neglect it for a month, it will begin to wilt, rot, and become overgrown. Your body is not all that different. You are a composition of organic matter. While the systems that govern it can be fascinatingly complex, the material itself is fairly crude and simple.

So, are you ready? Wake up, drink some water, and do push-ups.  Do as many as you can. Rest for a bit and then do some more. That's enough for now. You'll build up your chest rather fast. I promise. You might even get better results than working out at the gym. You see, most gyms are gimmicks too. There a gazillion machines isolating each muscle, but 75% of them all do the same thing. Wanna build your legs? Your own body weight and gravity provide enough resistance. Do squats. Again, do them until you can barely do any more. When you first try this, you will barely be able to walk the next day. Want a six pack? Crunches work great. Back? Do pull-ups. Get a bar or use your own door frame. Arms? Chin-ups and dips. Cardio? Take a walk. Save your money. Save your gas. Save yourself. Just put in the work. It's really not that hard once you start. Understand that getting up and starting is possibly the most difficult part. But more importantly... understand and realize that you will have to continue this INDEFINITELY. Once you get into a pattern of exercise, your body will start releasing endorphin (the world's best drug) and you will start looking forward to it. It will become a happy part of your daily routine. You will start to feel kinda grungy on the days that you are unable to get your workout done.

Wanna eat burritos? That's fine, you'll just have to walk or run twice as much. Some people love it. If you don't like the sound of the extra work, then just eat right. If you don't even know what that means, you just aren't trying hard enough. Eat less food and drink more water. Eat carrots instead of potato chips. Cookies are bad for you. There is an entire industry built around keeping you fat, so that they can sell you more products designed to get you skinny again. Break the cycle. Wake up. There is no miracle. In fact, its actually very simple.

Oh... and yes... your metabolism slows down as you grow older, requiring you to work even harder to stay healthy. Sorry about that. It doesn't get easier.

This is life. Enjoy it.

I suck

Note to self:

What kind of shitty blog is this? It's updated every week for years on end, then suddenly there is a three month effing gap? You suck, Mr. Kelley. Get the hell out of bed and write something.

Response to self:

 Ok. I will. I promise. I will catch up.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


My schedule until further notice is 6pm til ~ 2 am... Saturday through Wednesday. Monday through Wednesday I act as Floor Supervisor for the cash games. On Saturdays and Sundays I work as evening Tournament Director. This generally includes overtime as I must stay until the contest ends. I am happy with this. The overtime is good money and helps me to maintain my average of +30 hours a week which I need to qualify for medical benefits.

On the downside, the only time I will see the sun is as it sets and rises...or as it peeks through the shades of my bedroom window. Milk will have to suffice as my source of Vitamin D for now. Life is obviously quite different when you wake up at 5:00 pm. The majority of those around you are finishing their days before yours starts. And when you are dragging yourself home after a long nights work, elderly folks are walking their dogs or headed off to McDonald's to sip on a scalding hot bucket of coffee, nibble on tater tots, and leaf through the latest edition of USA Today.

Police are ever-present during my commute home. This comforts me more than it annoys me, despite having been pulled over and harassed recently. The officer claimed that I was driving "suspiciously slow" and that he smelled alcohol in the car. He then asked me for permission to search the vehicle. I sighed and, using the most respectful tone I could muster, stated that he has no right to do that without probable cause, and that he would need warrant to continue. Anticipating the reaction that this would likely spawn, I volunteered to submit to the field breathalyzer test so that he could see I was sober and let me go on my way. This request seemed to surprise him as he went silent for a moment. I believe he came to the realization that his fishing expedition was a failure, and decided to abort. He mumbled something about being careful and that he would be watching me... and disappeared as quickly as he arrived. I continued home without the annoyance of some bullshit ticket to rationalize his attempt to violate my 4th amendment rights.

I have decided its not a great idea to try and adjust back to normal hours on my days off, as it will make those first couple days back at work that much harder. So, I have become a creature of the night. I won't go so far as to say it makes me feel isolated from society, (this is Vegas after all) but I cannot help but smile at the odd nature of encountering drunks and party-goers during the equivalent of morning. My heightened level of awareness at such an hour must make me appear as though I am seeking something out, as I have already been propositioned by working girls on several occasions. Either that, or I am swimming in testosterone.

Being around at late hours leaves me vulnerable to crime. As I was leaving the Wynn casino a couple weeks ago, I arrived at my car to find it had been broken into. They smashed my drivers side window, reached inside and opened the door. The stole my fanny pack (yes I have a fanny pack) that was sitting in the passenger seat. They made off with $40, two extra strength Tylenol, a magnetic name-tag, and small bottle of hand moisturizer. Fortunately they did not take the time to look for more items as they would have found my Garmin GPS, a bottle of Adderall, my passport, my checkbook, my work ID card, and an acoustic guitar. I've learned my lesson about leaving any items of value in my car. I got home around 5 and made the claim on my insurance website. I took a short nap and at 830 was in Henderson at the Safelite glass place, sleeping in a chair while the window was being replaced at $0 cost to me. Thanks Allstate... it appears I am in good hands with you.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dark Horses

My theme lately. I don't have to be a Christian to appreciate the message.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Getting on with Getting On.

     A few weeks after the Surgery, I came back out to Vegas to begin the task of digging myself out of a financial crisis. The cost of surgery and the lack of income during the recovery period had left me completely destitute. I had $0 cash, yet the bills continued to arrive. Funny how that works. My situation at the Mirage had not improved. Despite my willingness to put forth extra effort, pick up days whenever I could, I was not receiving enough work to make ends meet. The scheduling was totally erratic. From one week to the next, I had no idea how many days I might be scheduled, on which shift, or in what capacity. Coupled with a total lack of positive feedback from my manager, I found myself becoming very frustrated. But rather than go marching around verbalizing my complaints, I decided to make a simple choice; To either do something about the situation, or accept it and shut up. It didn't take me more than a moment to know that I was not going to do the latter. 
   I had been steadily applying for jobs both in San Diego and Las Vegas for months, but had little response thus far. All I could do was just continue to send out resumes every day. I was thrilled when, in early January, I received a phone call from a hiring manager at Aria. He was calling to let me know that I had been selected as one of 9 new employees out of an applicant pool of over 225. I made arrangements to meet and sign the job offer the next day. That afternoon I let my boss know that I would be leaving the Mirage. I took the time to thank him for the opportunity he had given me and to wish him well. His response was essentially non-existent apart from a few formalities regarding my exit paperwork. Not that I ever really had a doubt, but his cold-shoulder response only reinforced a confidence that I was making the right decision by leaving. Shortly thereafter, I was off to corporate Orientation for a few days and then some specialized training for the poker staff. I worked my first shift just a few days later. The room is generally busy, and that will only continue as we get closer to the summer. I have a regular schedule, five days a week with Saturdays and Sundays off. (REALLY!)
    Aria is a gorgeous property. I challenge you to find anyone that thinks differently. The facilities are sparkling and the staff is friendly. Their focus on customer service is what makes them stand apart. Positive attitudes are abound, friendliness is the norm, and most everyone seems genuinely happy to be there. It is such a welcome change.
   I work 5 days a week, however I am not a full-time employee. That means when things get slow, I (and my fellow new employees) will be the ones that get forced out first. So far that has never been before completing at least 6 hours of work. It seems that on the slower days of the week like Tuesday and Wednesday, I will usually work from 1pm until 7, and on Thursdays and Fridays until 9. MGM has a policy that if an employee averages 30 hours a week or more throughout a fiscal quarter, he or she will receive full medical and dental benefits... which are fantastic. I am told that I should have no problem meeting that mark... and in my first two weeks I have already exceeded it. So, here I am. Still in Las Vegas, doing much better than before. I will continue to make daily efforts to further my career and get back to that level of comfort and lifestyle that I had enjoyed for so long. Things are headed in the right direction.
     As far as my medical condition goes.... I am not sure whats going on. It has been 9 weeks since the surgery and I don't feel like my arm is getting much better. I have been told that recovery from nerve damage is a very gradual thing and that it might take as long as 6 months before I get all the sensation and strength back. But I also have to prepare myself for the possibility that the damage is too severe and that the nerve may never fully recover. Although I still hope for the best, I have accepted that even if I don't get back all the function in my right arm, I am still going to be just fine. I still have plenty enough ability to write, type, tie my shoes, open doors, carry things, and live a totally normal life. I may not ever be able to get back into the sort of physical condition I was in prior to the injury, but that's ok. I will try to do my best. It's just very difficult to do resistance training when one side of my body is significantly weaker than the other. Simple things like pushups, pullups, bench presses, dips, are impossible. I have to work each side separately. I will schedule a followup appointment at 12 weeks and try to get some more answers.
     The one thing I really miss is tennis. I haven't swung a racket since the injury. I'm not going to try for another few weeks as I have not been cleared for that kind of activity yet. I know its going to be some time before I ever get back to the same level. The weakness in my arm is going to present a major problem in striking the ball with any real force. I might have to teach myself how to hit lefty if I hope to ever play at an even remotely competitive level.