Category Archives: My Life

Happy Birthday!

Tempus fugit — Most often we translate this as “time flies” but the literal translation is “time flees”. The idea is the same, our lives, and the events that mark them, go by quickly — often surprising us when we do take notice.

Kristy and me Thirty years ago today I received the greatest blessing of my life when my daughter Kristy was born. It is hard to believe that it has been that long (and that I am that old). I can sit here and bring back many memories in my mind — big, important events and small, seemingly insignificant moments. I can remember a little girl still in diapers helping me work on our old Volkswagen and the beautiful young woman walking across the stage to receive her high school diploma. I remember long trips, just the two of us, and the movie we wrote in our minds. I am so proud of her and feel so much love for her that I want to express it here.

Kristy,

I cannot think about you without feeling overwhelmed with joy and love. You are the brightest point in my life and I want you to know that I love you and think about you every day. I am so very proud of you. When I look at your life, the love you show your family and friends, the things that you’ve achieved, and the person you’ve become, it makes me happier than I deserve. I hope and pray that you are happy and that you know how much you are loved.

There is sadness, too. I have made too many mistakes and allowed too many missed opportunities. The blame for that is all on me. I hurts to think about the many things I could have done better, but today isn’t a day to dwell on those thoughts. I can only hope that you can forgive my many shortcomings.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I hope that you have as much joy, happiness, and love in your life that you’ve brought to mine. Cherish every moment of your life and let those you love know it. Take pride in who you are, but be humble and thankful for how God has blessed you. You might remember talking about what I call my philosophy of life — “Always be content, never be satisfied.” I hope you remember what that means; be happy where you are now, but always strive to be better. Know that I pray for you, think about you, but most of all love you more than anything.

All my love, Dad

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

It’s back to work I go!

After ninety days as an unemployment statistic I am back at work! In fact, I started with orientation on Tuesday. After being off yesterday my regular training starts today.

LEGOLAND EntranceI will be working in the call center for Merlin Entertainments at LEGOLAND® Florida. Our center, as I understand it so far, takes calls for all of the Merlin venues in the US.

I have a few observations regarding my time between jobs.

  • Most of all I have to say that looking for work is harder than working. One simple fact is that there are more people applying for the positions I was interested in then there are openings. I am very upbeat regarding my skills, work ethic, and qualifications for any position for which I applied. To submit the dozens of applications and inquiries that I did and not even get a response was very eye opening. I had to remind myself that many qualified people were also applying for these jobs.
  • Being unemployed is not a vacation. When I wasn’t scouring the internet for available positions I was building my contacts and networking. When I wasn’t doing something job hunt related I felt like I should be. It’s hard to relax when you are thinking that there may be a job out there that you could be missing by not finding it soon enough.
  • I wrote that being unemployed was going to make me a full-time blogger. Well, it didn’t. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on blog topics. I found it difficult to write or research, or even read what others were writing, mostly for the reasons mentioned above. I dreamed that having all that free time would allow me to post several times a day, but every time I tried to start, the job search demon came out to play with my mind.
  • My first job was working at the plant nursery of a family friend when I was about ten. We weeded, planted saplings, and tried to tell elephant and knock-knock jokes to the immigrant workers using a mix of English, pidgin Spanish, and hand gestures. I think they were laughing at our efforts, and not the jokes. In the nearly 50 years since that time I have rarely been out of work. I held jobs while I was in High School and College. I had a new job lined up before leaving an old one. I would estimate that I have been without a job less than twelve months since leaving college in 1977 until now. And that includes a stretch of seven months when I stayed home on purpose and the current three-month period. That’s around 10,000 days working even if you subtract days off, vacations, and unemployment!

    I take pride in my work ethic. I’ve rarely missed days (when I was employed) for any reason. That’s a hard habit to break. Sure, the first couple of days are great. You can sleep in (I still woke up around six), get projects done around the house (until guilt pulls you back to one more job search), and take some time to relax (see previous comment). In short, after the first week I was stir crazy. I can only hope that retirement, without the specter of, “I should be doing something,” will be more enjoyable.

One of the most exciting things about my new venture is that LEGOLAND was one of my top three employer choices.

I’ve followed the progress of the park since they announced in January of 2010 that they were coming to the former Cypress Gardens – twenty-two months before they opened. And while my job will involve all of the Merlin attractions in the US (did you know they run Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquariums, and three “Eyes” – you’ve seen the London Eye, I’m sure) I will go to work every day surrounded by millions of LEGO bricks. What kid, even a 58-year-old one, wouldn’t love that?

Writing this has been easier than any attempt of made in the last three months. I’d love to write more, but…I’VE GOT TO GET READY FOR WORK!!!

Full Time Blogger

For the first time in almost seven years I’ve gone from Monday to Friday, and while I’m not sick, it’s not a holiday, and I’m not taking a vacation, I haven’t gone to work all week. I guess that means that, until something changes, I’m a full time blogger.

Over the past several months, since the last election actually, I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging regularly. Not because I’ve become any less passionate about the greatness of our country and the unlimited potential of our experiment. I have grown weary of the people, our fellow citizens, who have descended into a mindset of “What are you going to give me?” And to be honest, there is a part of me that questions whether there are enough people left who care about our country or if we’ve reached a critical mass of looters.

It’s not merely the economic looters, those wanting the government to provide their every need. What bothers me more are the social looters; those who feel entitled to offend but never be offended, to dictate to others but never be held accountable for their own actions. Are we too far gone?

Yes, this is rambling. I’ve got a lot on my mind. Perhaps I can put some more coherent thoughts down soon. After all, I am a full time blogger now.

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Does this pink slip make me look old?

If you’ve read this blog for any part of the eight years I’ve been doing this you probably don’t remember very many posts related to my day job. It’s not that I’m ashamed of what I do, or that I feel that my blogging would have a negative impact on my career. Truth be told, while I enjoy my job and I’ve never really had a day where getting out the door was a chore, most people would be bored to tears to find out about my typical day. Here’s the short version. Emails, phone calls, enter who’s not coming to work today, grant or deny time off, lather, rinse, repeat. The exciting part is the daily discussion of what we’re going to do for lunch. Not the stuff of great and interesting blog posts.

Well, that’s about to change.

pinkslipI’m about to be a statistic. The company that I’ve worked for since 2002 is moving our work (there are six of us in my department) off shore. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not bitter. From a business standpoint I understand what they’re doing. I think it’s a mistake, and I think they’ll be less than pleased with the results, but I do understand how it will impact the bottom line.

I’m not even all that concerned. I’ve always been a “the glass is half full and there’s another bottle in the fridge” kind of guy. Still, looking for work when I was looking at retirement in less than ten years isn’t the most exciting prospect. I do have a bit of a wish list that I posted on my Job Hunt Facebook page.

There are a few things that are on my job wish list. For seven of the eleven years I’ve been with ICT/Sykes it’s been a 30 minute commute each way. I really hope to find something closer, or at the very least no further than that.

Money. I’d like to find something that pays in the neighborhood of what I’m making now. The “good” news is that what I’m making now makes that a relatively easy hurdle to clear.

Secure. I know there are no guarantees with any company, especially in the current business and political climate. Still, it would be nice to find something that can sustain me until 2021. Is eight years really too much to ask?

Fun. I know, I’m supposed to be looking for work, but this is a wish list after all. Maybe enjoyable would be a better word. Just something where I don’t need a stick of dynamite to get myself out the door in the morning.

So, if any of you reading this are in the Polk County, Florida area, and you are looking for a great worker, I would love to hear from you. Everyone else – I’ll let you know how it’s going.

Busy Boy

You may have noticed that I haven’t been updating this page very often. Even less than my usual lackluster standards. Well, there’s a reason.

I am still at my same day job (10 years and counting, minus a short hiatus. 6 years plus since I returned) and I still enjoy what I do there. If that and all the demands of family life weren’t enough, I’ve decided to branch out into something I am very passionate and excited about – Travel.

I had explored becoming a travel agent about 6 years ago. I even dabbled in it for a while, but for a variety of reasons never moved forward. For the past few years it remained just an idea. Then, a few weeks ago, I moved ahead with my plan and started Getawayngo Travel. As you can imagine, starting a new venture can be quite time-consuming. Training, marketing, and basic set up have taken quite a bit of time over the past few weeks. There’s more to do, but the foundation has been laid.

banner960x200I want Getawayngo Travel to be your source for outstanding service on exciting travel deals. Visit us to receive personalized service, attention to detail, value, and selection when you are making your travel plans. My focus is going to be Family Travel, Cruises, and Groups.

I invite you to visit my website linked above, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

I’m not abandoning bRight & Early by any means. It’s just going to take a little better time management on my part to integrate both into the rest of my activities.

One Year

One year. ONE YEAR! I have made it one full year smoke free.

At 12:15pm on 2/22/12 I started with my V2 ecigs and now, a year later, I couldn’t be happier about the results. Let me tell you about it.

It has been a great year, but there have been some challenges along the way. In spite of those challenges I would recommend switching to anyone who smokes.

Now, when I say “smoke free” that’s not technically 100% true. Over the past year I have bought, as closely as I can remember, about four packs of analogs. When my kit arrived I had three or four analogs left which I smoked over the course of my first two weeks. I also bought a pack there in the beginning as a kind of crutch. As anyone who has smoked can attest, one of the worst parts of smoking is the urge to have a pack with you at all times. You are planning to buy one before your last pack is gone. So I bought one “just in case”. I smoked some of them, even though I quickly had come to hate the taste. That pack lasted me over the next few months. My next (and last) two packs were purchased due to power issues, one of the downsides to ecigs, which I’ll describe later. The first time was pure user error – I forgot my charger at work on a Friday. An ecig battery without a charger is about as useful as a car without gas. You ain’t goin’ nowhere. The last time was when my charger, for some reason, didn’t seem to want to charge. But that has been it for the past 365 days.

Before I weigh in with all the positives, let me be honest and describe a few negatives.

  • Power – as I mentioned above, when you are out of power, you are out of luck. You need to have enough spare batteries, and the means to charge them, to make this work. Which leads me to the next negative.
  • Standardization – There isn’t any. The number of configurations is amazing. It makes finding something that suits you easier, but that is countered by the incompatibility of one setup with another. There are three major components to any ecig system, the battery (or power source), a place to hold the liquid, and a heating element to turn that liquid into vapor. The parts are not interchangeable from system to system. There are inside threads and outside threads, and threads of different sizes. There are containers of different sizes and heating elements that require different ohms and watts and things that make you think that you need an EE degree to operate. That’s before you even start talking about DIY mods.
  • Availability – Currently the majority of ecigs and accessories are purchased online. While the option to purchase ecigs from retail stores is increasing rapidly, there is nowhere near the options that are available for analogs. When you can find items you are faced with the standardization issue and quality that can be all over the map.

The overwhelming positive is the utter lack of desire for an analog cigarette. As long as I have a charged battery and a filled cart I have never thought, “I’d rather have an analog instead.” Of course there are many more positives.

  • I feel better. Reputable ecig companies make no claims about the health benefits of switching from smoking. I certainly don’t have the medical background to say that I am healthier, but I can tell you with out a doubt that I feel better. The first thing that Cindy noticed was that my persistent coughing had stopped. I noticed that I didn’t tire as quickly. In short, I just feel better.
  • I Smell. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I can smell things again. That can be good and bad, especially when you have an eight year old boy living in the house. I am still struck by this when I smell a freshly mowed lawn or orange blossoms.
  • Things taste so much better. That may not be the best thing for a fat old guy like me, but I sure do enjoy tasting food again.
  • I’m a rebel! It’s kind of fun to vape in a store or restaurant. I’ve received some strange looks, but in the entire year not one person has said a word. That was probably the hardest thing to overcome, vaping away in the aisles of Wally World.
  • Variety – For the most part I stick with my menthol flavored liquid, but I love trying all of the many options that are available. Fruit flavors, food flavors, more flavors than you can imagine, and even a few that are too weird for me.
  • $$$ – One of my prime motivations for switching was financial rather than physical. And the savings have been tremendous. I wasn’t the heaviest of smokers, probably a little under a pack a day. Even my cheep-o brand was costing me $25-$30 a week. When I realized how much that added up to in a year, I was motivated! I have a spreadsheet that tracks my costs and calculates my savings. I don’t have it here at home, but the last time I updated it my projected savings for the year was about $850. That’s huge.

That’s my first year wrap up. If you are a smoker and your looking for a way to stop I really recommend giving ecigs a try.

Going forward I want to continue to educate others, and work to keep the government from doing anything stupid with regards to vaping. As I wrote in my comments to the FDA,

The positives of electronic cigarettes are many, and I ask that you cautiously and honestly consider their benefits when adopting any policies related to their use. Please do not regulate them out of existence, or make them difficult to obtain or less attractive to use. I don’t want to go back to smoking, and electronic cigarettes have made that possible.

On to year two.

Cross-posted from My Vapor Life.

This Time It’s Personal

On February 22nd I get to celebrate my first anniversary of being smoke free. That was the day my electronic cigarette starter kit arrived. I had try to quit before, on my own. That didn’t work at all. Switching to ecigs has worked, and it’s worked amazingly well.

So, leave it to the government to want to screw that up.

Section 918(b) requires that the Secretary of HHS, after consultation with recognized scientific, medical, and public health experts, submit a report to Congress examining how best to regulate, promote, and encourage the development of “innovative products and treatments (including nicotine-based and non-nicotine-based products and treatments)” to better achieve the following three goals: (1) Total abstinence from tobacco use, (2) reductions in consumption of tobacco, and (3) reductions in the harm associated with continued tobacco use.

Many people will react with a “so what?” Well, it’s government regulation, and we already have enough of them, and this time it’s personal. Here is what V2, my distributor, has to say on the subject:

This added regulation could have a negative impact on the availability, accessibility and cost of V2 Cigs and other e-cig brands’ products.
But you can make sure that your opinion is heard!

If V2 Cigs electronic cigarettes have made a positive difference in your life, please share your story with the FDA. Ask them not to implement additional regulations which would limit your ability to obtain V2 Cigs.

Read the notice of public hearing on the FDA website. You can click on the blue Comment Now button in the upper right corner of the FDA’s site to submit your comments through Wednesday, January 16, 2013.

Your opinion matters! This is your chance to make a difference for the entire electronic cigarette industry. Visit the FDA Website today and encourage your friends to do the same. Together, we will be heard!

Quite frankly, I don’t trust the government to get this right. Some of the advantages of vaping include

  • Being able to vape where you can’t smoke.
  • A near endless variety of flavors. Everything from tobacco and menthol flavors, to coffee, chocolate covered cherry, fruits, mints, and some that I wouldn’t even want to try. I mean, I love bacon, but I wouldn’t want to vape it.
  • A big, big money savings. Of course the government is going to want to tax these products even more than they want to regulate them.I saved nearly $1000 so far. I’m sure the government wants a part of that. A BIG part.

All of this is on top of how much better I feel. Ecigs are not marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, but the pure fact is I feel 100% better since I switched. I can breath easier, walk further, do more without feeling exhausted.

If you’re a smoker I do encourage you to give ecigs a try. I suggest V2 (Use the code MyVaporLife at checkout for a discount!) because that’s what worked for me, and I’m an affiliate. You can also search for ecigs, but I urge you to do your homework. There are a few scams out there. Be very cautious with “free trials”.

Here is the comment I left at the FDA site:

I am a 57 year old male, and I don’t know when I started smoking, other than it was sometime in my thirties, but I do know when I quit – February 22nd, 2011. I had tried to quit previously on my own, using the patch, and with gum. None of those methods worked.
On 2/22/11 my electronic cigarette starter kit arrived. Since that time I have smoked two and a half packs of regular cigarettes – the half pack I had left when the starter kit arrived, one when I was still starting with the e-cigs, and the last one when I forgot my battery charger at work. All of that was within the first month, so I can honestly claim to have been smoking free for more than 10 months.
I can personally tell you that I can breathe easier, exercise and work around the house without getting so easily winded, taste and smell better, and I greatly enjoy the nearly $1000 that I’ve saved. I am convinced that e-cigs have improved my quality of life and that I would not have quit any other way.
I urge you to take a thorough and honest look at the science, and to include in your evaluation the positive impact electronic cigarettes have for so many people. In my office alone four (out of five) smokers have fully replaced traditional cigarettes with electronic ones.
Most of all I urge you to NOT remove or regulate the positives that I, and others, find so attractive about e-cigs:
• The variety of flavors that are available
• The low cost relative to traditional cigarettes
• The ability to vape whenever and wherever I want
• The ability to use a product that has, in my personal experience, allowed me to stop smoking
In my opinion, removing these incentives will do greater harm than good. I am convinced that should e-cigs become harder to obtain, or less attractive to use, I would in all likelihood return to smoking. I am sure I am not alone in this belief.
The positives of electronic cigarettes are many, and I ask that you cautiously and honestly consider their benefits when adopting any policies related to their use. Please do not regulate them out of existence, or make them difficult to obtain or less attractive to use. I don’t want to go back to smoking, and electronic cigarettes have made that possible.
Thank you.

Cross posted at My Vapor Life.

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My Geeky Side

Did I ever tell you I’m a gamer. If not, let me reveal my geeky side.

I grew up when Pac-Man and Asteroids were taking the place of pinball machines at the places we hung out. I dropped quarter after quarter chasing ghosts through a maze and blasting big rocks in to smaller ones.

I played text adventures on my Commodore 64 and games on my first PC.

I like to play online games. I’ve played some of the casual, Facebook kind of games, some strategy type online games, and some of those games where you do something and nothing happens for two days. I despise those. I had to stop the Facebook games when I realized I was more concerned with my crops than the height of the grass in the yard.

But one of my favorites has always been WoW. I tried it on my stepdaughter’s account years ago, and added my own account a couple of years back. I only have one level 85 so far, but a big reason for that is that I’m a bit of an altaholic. It’s only in the last six months or so that I’ve really settled in.

One of the things that I’ve always wanted to try was running a guild. Not any guild, but a casual, drama free guild aimed at the more mature among us. As I wrote on my Geezer Gamer site:

Geezer Guild is a World of Warcraft guild on the Greymane server. It’s aimed at players who are not tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. In other words, those who remember when Pong was amazing and new, and who dropped quarter after quarter into Pac-Man and Asteroid machines.

That doesn’t mean we won’t accept younger players, but we will be focusing on players who have been playing since before Y2K (and who remember what that meant).

Additionally, this is going to be a friendly, social guild, and a learning guild. That doesn’t mean we can’t do some serious damage in game, just not to each other.

If you’re interested, drop me a note at lakelandjim at gmail dot com or whisper Patreaquila, Breekhouse, Deekayeagle, or Blueagle in game.

School Starts Back Today!

It’s the day that kids hate and parents love, the beginning of a new school year. And to be honest, kids are looking forward to it too. It’s tomorrow and the days after that they dread.

This is going to be a very interesting year for us. We are heading in three different directions. One is in High School, one in Middle School, and one still in Elementary School.

Sleep patterns (including mine) have to change and some other habits need to be modified. Time to get ‘em moving.

A Rare Wednesday Off

Normally, I’m a Monday to Friday kind of guy. It’s one of the many things I like about my day job. Every 5th week I have to work Saturday, and typically get the following Monday off. I worked this past Saturday, and this week I asked for Wednesday instead of Monday as my day off. More about why in a moment.

I could probably count on one hand the number of Wednesdays I’ve not been at work over the past five plus years, and yet this is the second time this month. Independence Day was just two weeks ago and the office was closed.

Anyone who is accustomed to working Monday to Friday and having a two-day weekend, a day off mid-week is a bit disconcerting. I worked six days last week, Monday to Saturday. I was off on Sunday, worked Monday and yesterday, off today and then I’ll work two more days before I get my normal two-day weekend.

So, why did I ask for Wednesday off this week?

In just over five weeks the Republican National Convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Nearly 4,500 delegates and alternates, around 15,000 credentialed media, and other visitors whose numbers will approach 50,000 will be in the Tampa Bay area the week of August 27-30. They will be traveling from their 16,000 rooms in 105 hotels on 400 motor coaches to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the adjacent Tampa Convention Center. 1

To help pull this off, around 7,500 volunteers have been recruited. I am one of those volunteers, and tonight is our orientation. I am really looking forward to being involved with this convention. As of now I don’t even know what my role will be. I’m pretty sure my job won’t be escorting Mitt Romney, his VP pick, or other speakers to the stage. If they go with my talents I’m sure I’ll be standing in a hallway somewhere, pointing, and saying, “the public restrooms are that way.”

My dream job would be to work with the “Special Media”, those who, “do not fall into a category represented by the Congressional Press Galleries.” It would be great to meet some whose work I’ve only read online.

I’ll know in about 12 hours just what my role will be. I’ll share it with you, if I can, tonight. Until I leave for Tampa there’s still a yard that needs mowing. I’ll get on that now. Enjoy your Wednesday. I know I will.