I have completed the classroom portion of the locomotive engineer training (sadly, I passed). I will be flying back out to Calgary on Sunday to spend a week operating a switcher in the area that they call "the back 40" in our Ogden yard. From what I have heard from others who have spent any time operating that locomotive, the trainers love to throw kinks into your work. They will do the train equivalent of unplugging a sparkplug when you are not looking to see how long it takes you to figure out what is wrong an deal with it.
My thinking is that as long as I am busy in training, they are not going to be randomly sending me out to operate trains or drive crews. Yes... drive crews.
The company recently dumped the contract we had with a company that dead-headed our crews, and they've been pressing managers into duty as crew bus drivers. It is all very disorganized and disruptive. One will normally get a call in the afternoon to show up in, say, Brandon at Midnight and spend the next 8-12 hours driving people between Winnipeg and points in Saskatchewan. It's as awful as it sounds.
At first they were only grabbing people who had either managed to avoid the T&E training, or those who had flunked out. Now they are pulling people into driving service if they are trained conductors, but are not needed to run any trains at the moment. They also expect you to keep up on your regular day job in the midst of this. My earliest retirement date is the latter part of 2018. As much as I enjoy a lot of the perks that come with working for this company, I can't see myself looking to extend my stay much past that.
In other news... I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor today. He wanted another blood sample to see how my glucose levels were reacting to the medication. He was brimming with good news; my blood glucose is down to normal levels, he commented on the amount of weight I'd lost since my last visit, and my blood pressure was down again. I asked him about the possible long term goal of getting off this medication, and he said that there was no guarantee that my insulin levels would ever normalize on their own, even if I brought my weight down and controlled my diet.
I lamented the fact that I missed having wine with dinner, and he looked a bit confused and said, "Why can't you have wine with dinner?" I reminded him that when he had prescribed the medication, he warned me that it did not react well with alcohol , so I have not touched a drop of liquor in the four months since I have been on it. He back-pedalled a bit on his earlier warning and explained that he had been talking about chronic drinking. He said that I would be fine having wine or beer as long as I did not overdo it.
He warned that alcohol could have quite an impact on blood sugar levels, and he advised to watch for any side effects after drinking. I considered celebrating with a glass of wine when I got home, but I settled for an ice cream cone this evening instead.
In spite of my earlier waffling on the topic, I have decided to continue with the Picture a Day project (I think I mentioned that earlier). I celebrated the good news from my doctor by walking into town and treating myself to a cup of hand-brewed coffee. I lead such a wild life.
I have seen this character a the market on more than one occasion. This is actually quite a talented individual who is simultaneously playing four different instruments (the bare foot is clicking out a beat as well). atara dropped some change in the hat after I took this shot.
This is one of the shots I took up at the Pride Parade in Steinback a couple of weeks ago. There were a couple of people offering free hugs, and no shortage of people taking them up on it.
This was another picture from the same parade - rather, at the staging area for the parade. This young lady had spied a muddy rivulet running down the ditch beside the staging grounds, and she was contemplating some muddy playtime. Mom swooped in and rescued the pride flag and stuffed animal before the girl settled in for some muddy fun.
As you have probably noticed in the four shots I posted here, I am doing a lot more post-processing on my pictures before I upload them now. It's a phase - I'm sure I'll get out of it again. I tend to be more of a purist with pictures that I have taken with my good camera, but sometimes the snapshots I take with my phone need a little extra love.
Here's one more bonus picture: we put our bikes on the road again after leaving them parked all of last summer. They were covered in a pretty impressive layer of dust, and their tires were thoroughly flat, but they were up to the task.