Saturday, September 05, 2009

And The Celebration Continues...

Florida Hospitality

After a smooth two hour car ride across southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle we found ourselves sitting on the marina waterfront in Destin in time for lunch yesterday.

The first blackened fish sandwich of the trip was then consumed just in time to do a little wandering around the docks looking at fishing opportunities later in the weekend, then by mid afternoon the temperature and humidity managed to run us back inside the car for a journey over to my friend Roy's place to drink gallons of frozen margaritas and to witness enough food for a small army being prepared for small group of 9 in attendenance.

By 10:30 PM (way past me and Missy the Turbo Pup's normal bedtime) I had to excuse myself and crash for the evening. Oddly I managed to sleep for SEVEN HOURS IN A ROW for once...a testimony to being old I guess as twenty years ago I'd have probably just shifted gears and stayed up past midnight and slept in to 9 AM.

Today finds us visiting with some extended family members in the morning before moving on over to the coast for "Phase III" of the never ending 50th celebration.

I guess last night was sort of the "pre-season game" for what is going to ensue over the next couple of days.

Stay tuned to this channel for further updates...

Friday, September 04, 2009

The First Day Of My Second Half Decade

The Celebration Continues...

I'm pleased to report that the Lower Alabama portion of my 50th birthday festivities concluded as a great success...with Thursday afternoon having been spent poolside and an early Mexican dinner with Mom and the girls.

Now later today the CHS Class of '77 group 50th birthday party begins down on the Florida Gulf Coast.

I mention this publicly so everyone in the immediate vicinity of Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach will have time to remove all of their elderly relatives and small children from harms way.

We're not sure of the total attendance, but people are flying in from as far away as Utah for the "unofficial" event which has been planned by my fellow "Mancamp" members for about 6 months now.

I sure hope that the weather holds up for us.

Pat and the Turbo Pup and I will be heading south later this morning...stopping overnight at my friend Roy's home where we're threatened with being plied with Margaritas and a Low Country Shrimp Boil.

I also just learned that Missy the Turbo Pup will be participating in what I'm calling the first annual Shalimar Mini Dachshund Races and Rodeo (SMDRR).

It should be interesting watching four little dogs with a total weight of probably something less than 50 pounds spar and joust for dominance and attention.

Then Saturday morning we're jumping across the bay to Santa Rosa Island and our final beach front Condo destination on Saturday.

There one could witness the glorious spectacle of a bunch of middle aged guys standing and laying around drinking and telling lies stories and competing in strenuous events like farting and belching competitions.

And the girls will probably spend their time sitting around by the pool or on the beach looking disgusted at us while whispering things under their breath like "what was SHE thinking when she bought that bathing suit?"

Do I know women...or WHAT?

I was going to bring my Frisbee along with me but had second thoughts because I didn't want to risk having to have someone call 911 for me after about 15 minutes trying to run and catch it.

Things have sure changed over the past 33 years, but it will be fun to see everybody again...and I can't wait to show the girls how good I look in my new Speedo...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Big "Five Oh"

Reflections On The Past Half Century...Resolutions For The Next...

Oh...I don't knowwww...

Where to start writing this morning. There's so much to say.

(And even more to keep to myself...I might add.)

I guess you could say that my life thus far has fallen into more or less four very distinct phases. As a matter of public record, I feel like enumerating them for you this morning before I forget any more of the details.

All of this stuff leads up to a little after midnight here on the morning of September 3rd, 2009 when the calendar says I've been breathing air for FIFTY YEARS.

So lets get down to details...To begin with, the first 17 years of my life we'll call my "Embryonic phase."

The characteristics of this phase of my personality and antics were shaped and moulded under the stern hand of my dear Mother and evil eye of my departed Father.

A solid dose of primary education in the southern part of George Wallace's 1960's/1970's Alabama delivered with a generous portion of "fire and brimstone" at the local Methodist Church should have had me well prepared to go forth into the world as a sold American citizen and moral example for generations to come.

If you think'd be pretty much WRONG by many peoples' standards.

Not only did I corrupt myself and aid and abet in the corruption of those around me, but in moving from LA to Atlanta under the guise of attending college at Georgia Tech and start an engineering career, I have to admit that the next 16 years represent what I today call my "wild buck phase."

Roaming the streets and interstates of Hotlanta in a Firethorn Red Chevy Camaro in the days when the City was still really a giant small town on steroids, I hate to admit that my education suffered under the stresses of making time to throw Frisbee in Piedmont Park and attend various sporting events and concerts.

Sleeping took up a good deal of my time also...usually during the day rather than at night. There was also a two year stint in the part time Navy Reserve where I got to ride a Helicopter Carrier around the South China Sea and the Philippines---but that's another whole story for another day.

I somehow managed to survive all that and finally stumble through getting a degree and by late in the 1980's I found myself with a wife and a mortgage and two car payments and a couple of cats and God knows what other stuff the American Dream causes you to think you have to have.

I was working for the owner of an OEM company in Buckhead which I had helped triple in size of to over $3 million in annual revenue, but then he went and hired his son...fresh out of college with a "Communications Degree" come into the "Engineering" business, and miraculously there went my VP of Engineering promotion (The son is still president of that company today.)

So I walked out the door shortly thereafter never to return.

Thus, reaching some level of full blown raging insanity self-assured ego mania, after taking a year off and working as an independent consultant, I entered my "staggering entrepreneur phase" in the fall/winter of 1990/1991 as I filed my first Articles of Incorporation documents with the state of Georgia and bought my own Desk, Giant barrel assed leather "Executive" chair and first Laptop Computer. (I paid near $4K for that set-up and saw the value climb to over $100K when my business partner got through screwing me....but I did keep the chair when we dissolved the Corporation)

That first independent businessman "staggering entrepreneur" phase (there's a second one...just wait a minute) lasted for another eight and one half years with the formation of yet another company...until late 1998/early 1999 when I had the misfortune to have to abandon ship to bankruptcy when a couple of people decided they needed my money to pay their vendors and employees more than I needed it to pay mine.

For some reason the Federal Bankruptcy courts agreed. Of course the wife went away some time before the money did so she could take her fair share of my earnings.

I pretty sure that I must be some kind of bankruptcy expert by now if anyone wants to hire me--having personally set through the paperwork of no less than five different firms and individuals including my own...

All of that mish mash finally brings us up to the late 1990's/early 2000's, where you'd find me beginning my first of ten years of what I call my second childhood phase "Pirate Phase."

I unabashedly report that the "Pirate Phase" is the ultimate culmination of and implementation of years of research conducted in taverns, bars, restaurants, jails, boat stores, marinas, whore housesstrip clubs, churches, shopping malls, courtrooms, and water front properties all over the planet from The Philippines to the Caribbean.

Don't get all up tight about some of those listings, I say you got to see everything before you can say you've seen everything and I probably have a shorter to-do list in that avenue of intellectual endeavor than most people these days.

That said, it's hard to explain to people exactly what my job description was during that period and continuing almost to this very moment.

Some might call it "unemployed" which has actually been true for short segments of that time...BUT...generally it's been VOLUNTARY UNEMPLOYMENT i.e. "semi-retired" as I like to call it.

I have developed the unique theory that when there's no paying work, simply find the closest large body of water, pack a suitcase, and then do this...


Works quite well for me.

Oops...I forgot to mention earlier my idea of instead of just going on VACATION, of actually moving to the Beach and putting most of my money in a piece of coastal property...nothing fancy...just whatever can be afforded for safe keeping of the funds. I did that for about a year back in 2002(unfortunately the investment was better in 2002 than it is today.)

It worked for should try it when things turn around in the real estate market.

The bottom lines for me is to say "Why sit around worrying," as long as your resume is hanging out there on the Internet and in a bunch of Head Hunter/Recruiter's hands.

Another idea I've tried is to take a giant chunk of my last liquid dollars, fly to South Florida, then buy a big old boat with a kitchen and a head (bathroom for all you Land Lubbers), THEN JUST LEAVE for a while.

But Virgil..You ask: "As opposed to VACATION, how is LEAVING different?"

And further "Just WHERE would I leave to if I were so inclined?"

The answer is to simply leave where ever you are right now and go ANYWHERE else.

You don't have to know where you're going or make any reservations that way. It's really pretty simple. On a boat you just end up where ever you are when the sun sets and as long as there is water under your hull(a very fundamental detail on a boat) you toss out our anchor and fire up the blender.

I tried it for a while in the Florida Keys, and it worked reasonably well when my engines weren't malfunctioning (for all you land lubbers...boat engines are always malfunctioning), but then some assholes decided they needed my boat more than I did and made it disappear while a was back visiting Atlanta.

Fortunately I didn't spend everything I had on the boat but I did have to come back to the real world again and attempt to try to figure out what to do with myself...


I knew I hated the traffic and what Atlanta had grown into...and I had to get back to the water in order to be a Pirate...I know...I'll MOVE TO AN ISLAND, they can't STEAL and entire island.

So I did...

But this time I didn't go solo. I managed to con my girl Pat into going along with me. We packed everything up in a truck and had it hauled south to the Georgia Coast, and while she flew back and forth to Chicago and telecommuted from our Condo on a Golf course (I don't play golf) I spent my time wandering the Island on a bicycle and wondering If I shouldn't get back into the engineering business again.

One thing led to another, and after nearly five fabulous years on our little Island I was ready to come back to my chosen profession. Thus the beginning of my "Second Coming as an Entrepreneur" Phase.

After a false start with a company that moved us away from the Atlantic to the banks of the mighty Tennessee River, today finds Pat retired after 28 years with the same company and me scrapping and marketing and managing to sell enough of my time to keep the financial engine of our household running. Some weeks I make enough to last three months and some months I don't make a penny, but that's the way things are when you're in business for yourself and that's something people like our Politicians refuse to understand.

We're still looking at trial starting a Tailgate Catering business this fall to test some concepts and the menu, and I've also got another couple of irons in the fire with old college friends' companies and looking into incorporating a specialty company serving a unique manufacturing enterprise I've been asked to serve.

Things aren't perfect, but each day brings improved health (I'm avoiding talking about several near death medical experiences here this morning), a reasonably stable emotional and financial existence in spite of "the economy" and the current political climate, and most importantly I'm surrounded by the women in my life that love me...My Mom, my partner of eight years Patricia, my Sister Virginia, and my Little Missy the Turbo Pup.

I guess the main thing I've learned in my research over the past 50 years is that when a man has a family like mine, he's wealthy no matter what the balance sheet says when it's all said and done.

I am truly blessed and I know it.

That said, it's time to go take a nap I guess.

Regards Y'all

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Strange Quite Car...New Computer & Phone For Mom...

Tired As Usual...

Well folks, we made it to LA in what turned out to be a surprisingly uneventful high mileage trip (34 MPG) in the battery powered Camry.

I took along some extra C Cells but didn't have to get them out of the suitcase.

Of course it started raining within 24 hours of our arrival so I'm glad we spent yesterday afternoon at the pool rather in front of the dying computer Blogging.

I almost have Mom's flashy new monster HP laptop registered and configured and we got her into a cell plan that doesn't end up costing her $50 per call (she never uses her phone) and now it time to whip up a batch of chicken and skirt steak Fajitas before crashing for the evening.

I have no idea what's happening on the news or in the internet/bloggosphere but if I can get the wireless connection on this thing working with the router I'll probably produce a good late night rant tonight.

I feel the steam pressure building in my head right now...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Eco-Friendly Beach Bash

Touring The Gulf Coast In A "Hybrid"

Well, we tossed the old Chrysler 300 into the shop at the local dealer today and agreed to give them something near a grand to replace some important parts in the power steering system under the hood.

I guess that as painful as that $1K sum is it's also the first money we've spent in 2-1/2 years except the purchase price and oil changes/tire rotations so that's pretty good in my book.

Did I mention that we just paid off the loan a year and a half early last week so we now live without a car payment?

After handing over the keys and signing the papers we had the courtesy driver haul us over to Hertz where we expected to pick up a "full sized" Chevy Impala.

Instead we drove off their lot with what I call a "mid sized" Toyota Camry.

The trunk space is surprisingly small because instead of suitcases this "Hybrid" has at least 25% of the available space taken up with giant batteries covered with plastic and carpet.

Has anyone seen and actually drove one of these things?

It took me five minutes to figure out how to start it, because when you "start it" instead of a key all you do is waive the little plastic lock button thingie at the dash and push a button.

Then you set there scratching your head the first couple of trys because the gasoline part of the "hybrid" drive system doesn't actually "start" when you push the "start button."

Then once you manage to shift into gear and start moving forward or reverse it feels sort of like driving a golf cart until you hit about 3-5 MPH when the engine fires up and the computer switches into over drive and off you go making Owl Gore and his tree hugging hippy followers smile knowing smiles of approval.

I swear it's pretty disconcerting at first to get used to, but we have eight days planned to enjoy the advantages or disadvantages of the latest modern automotive technology I guess.

Our route takes us south tomorrow to my beloved family farm home in Lower Alabama to celebrate my 50th birthday with my mother, then on to the Western Florida Gulf Coast for a group 50th birthday party with a bunch of my high school classmates over the long Labor Day weekend.

Of course Internet access will be slow and/or sporadic at best so please excuse any lapses in blogging between now and our return to the banks on the Mighty Tennessee River on September 8th.

And wish us safe travel...if you will...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"My Grace Is Sufficient for You, For My Power Is Made Perfect In Weakness."

1 Corinthians Chapter 2, Verse 3

Please excuse me, because I'm not preaching.

I don't even go to church regularly these days, but still I like the Apostle Paul's words there...

When you look at all the crap going on around us it's somehow reassuring to hear that someone might actually be in charge that isn't elected in politics by the morons I saw walking around the local Mall this afternoon.

I, personally, am fortunate to have made it back home from our shopping trip without having been arrested for tearing some idiot's arm off and beating most of their entire family to death with it.

The older I get, it seems the less tolerant I am of "crowds" and "the general public." I'll probably never set foot in an amusement park or a NASCAR race or most football stadiums ever again because I can't help having laser beams exploding from my eyeballs and out of my butt when I witness the stuff you're forced to witness these days.

It's either because I just keep getting smarter and smarter else the aforementioned "general public" is continuing in a gradual spiralling descent into moronic pop cultural behavior which makes me want to kick the shit out of them knock some sense into them when they get in my way and waste my time with their inane endeavors spending money they don't have to spend.

I guess it's best I just stay home and let them all self destruct, except that the government keeps coming to my door asking for money to help buy houses and cars and health insurance and retirement while I continue to insist on living within my means.

Is it just me???