<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Update for April 6, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>April 6, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update For the Week of April 6, 2001

Iíve cried wolf and told you I was going to give you a short update before, but this time I really mean it.

Sunday Jill and I took her father to the emergency room. Although he slowly made his way in under his own power, heís weak, sluggish and disoriented. He fell in our driveway two weeks ago, when we were out of the country, and we assume this is perhaps some side effect from that. He took eleven stitches to the head, and our neighbors had to get him stabilized while waiting for the ambulance. Bert is 83 years old, a good union man, and he poured steel for thirty years. Heís grizzly like a bear, tougher than steel wool and meaner than a bucket of snakes when he wants to be. He can also be the kindest, sweetest old man you ever knew.

Monday I decided to remain in Cleveland to help Jill look for either assisted living arrangements or full time nursing care. Although her Pa likes to drive, his days of independence are rapidly drawing to a close. Over at the hospital the testing continues, with nothing conclusive to report. I retrieve email and cell phone messages all day, and do touch and goes in and out of my home office to keep working. I grab the six oíclock flight back to DC.

Tuesday was another action packed day at the NATCA National Office. As always I began my day with email at 6am, followed by a briefing with Adell. Mike Hull, our new ATX liaison, toddled in around seven, and we discussed his new assignment. Mike reported that heíd only put in 58 hours his first week. What a slacker! Seriously, though, I think Mike will be giving me a run for my money in the productivity department. Heís a fantastic addition to our National Office team.

I spoke with Ed Phipps, our new network administrator, and I also jawed with Ruth on a whole host of issues. Catching up with Ruth is pretty easy, it seems. We both stunt our sentences into controller shorthand, and we get an hoursí worth of information done in about ten minutes.

I discussed a few other issues from the Western Pacific Region with Mike, and then met with Dale Wright. Daleís been helping me fill the myriad of positions the FAA comes up with for our activists to get involved in, and he has been more help to me than I can possibly describe. In addition, Dale has helped keep our Safety and Tech Department focused, and he assisted them greatly with the most recent crashes in Aspen and Charlotte.

I worked with Courtney on the March-April newsletter, and retreated to my office to write my column. It took me an hour or two, but I was able to sit down, rip through the subject I had in mind, and give Courtney something to work with. I was overly verbose, though, and she ended up cutting a couple hundred words from my submission to make it fit!

In midafternoon I took a cab over to the FAA for a meeting with Bill Peacock. We discussed the new consolidated pay rules and how to apply them, NCT, the joint ATMT/NEB meeting scheduled for May, a new Traffic Flow Management User Team the FAA is creating, the Training Failure and Withdrawal MOU, WAARP, LASHO, and a few other hot topics. Our meeting stretched until after five.

Leaving the building I retrieved a page from Jill. Her fatherís preliminary blood work was back, and the results are devastating. A normal white blood cell count is between four and ten thousand. Her fatherís was 210,000. Leukemia. I took the Metro to my car, drove to BWI, and flew back to Cleveland, arriving just before midnight. Iíve been here ever since.

A bone marrow biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, which is acute myelogenous leukemia. The prognosis is not good. The only treatment for this type of blood cancer is chemotherapy, but due to Bertís age and overall health it would in all likelihood kill him. If chemo is not administered, heíll be gone inside of seven weeks.

My thanks to Ruth, Adell, Jeff Walukonis, Dale, Mike Hull, Wade, Doug Church, the RVPs and all the dedicated employees and activists who have kept the NATCA machine humming in my absence. Iíve saved a couple dozen messages or so, and I intend to get to those when I get a free moment. If youíve called or written me and havenít gotten a response, hopefully youíre in that group.

I plan to return to DC on Sunday night, and IĎll be in the office bright and early Monday morning. Jill might be out for a while. The four days off this week felt like I was cheating on my lover, in spite of the circumstances. I think the work will do me good. Thanks for your patience during these trying times, which seem to be coming somewhat frequently nowadays. I suppose itís like my sister told me: Weíre at that age where weíre going to be going to a hell of a lot more funerals than weddings. I hope this finds you all healthy and happy. God bless you, and weíll talk to you all next week.

John


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