Category Archives: My Life

Renewal and Redirection

Everyone and everything goes through cycles and periodic change. It’s what life is all about, Poomba. One bad habit of mine (if it is bad) is to announce these changes in my writings here every time they occur. Well, I’m doing it again.

Although I have faced some difficult challenges over the past few years an honest assessment is that choices I have made, good, bad, and indifferent, have impacted my life in ways I didn’t, and don’t want it to go. Change, as I’m discussing here, has to occur. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “if nothing changes, nothing changes,” and I believe that is true. A similar saying is, “if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” and who wants that?

Like most bloggers, I started bRight & Early to discuss things that interested me and because I thought (accurately or inaccurately, it doesn’t matter which) that I had something to say about those things. That is still true. Even so, there came a point recently when I thought I would just give it all up and close the blog. For some reason I just can’t do that. Even if no one reads what I put here, or when there are weeks (months?) between posts, I enjoy knowing that I still have this outlet available to me. If I’m not going to close shop – and I’m not – I need to make a few changes.

The biggest changes need to be in my life, but they will be reflected in my posts. Let me start by describing where I am so you (and I) can see where I’m going.

Here is a synopsis of my work situation. A little over a year ago I was laid off from a job I enjoyed. My every intention was to work there until I retired. Unfortunately I didn’t get that option. After several months of looking I took a job with Merlin Entertainments. I liked working there, but there was a serious downside. My position was considered “seasonal” and I had seen others have their hours drastically reduced over time. I knew that my fate would have been the same. In anticipation of that fact, and with a hope for more income, I took a job with Hilton Grand Vacations. It was a mistake. I don’t have anything bad to say about the company, in fact the potential was as I saw it. What I failed to calculate correctly was time it was going to take to achieve the income I was looking for (months rather than weeks), and the cost involved in such a long daily commute.

That cost was significant. One day I realized that I didn’t have enough gas money to get to work, and pay day was still several days off. I had no choice but to quit. Either that, or walk 44 miles each way. So, now I am looking again. I have several very good prospects, two in particular, but currently no income.

Naturally having no income impacts your life in a lot of ways. It changes what you can do and have. There’s been a lot of belt tightening. Eating out is a thing of the past, yet God has never let us miss a meal. We have have given up cable (not the greatest loss), and the internet (that hurts a bit more). We also returned a computer we were purchasing on a rent-to-own plan, a stupid and expensive way to purchase such an item. We are left with two computers, a very good one that has several issues making me wonder how long it’s going to last, and the other we purchased for $25 with a Celeron processor, 1024 M RAM, and Windows XP. That’s the one on which I am writing now. Oh, the “B” key is also missing on the keyboard.

For a while I couldn’t even get online at the library due to a years-old, forgotten lost book. Just a few weeks ago I went to pay off that obligation and happened to do so on a day they were offering amnesty for old fines. Now I can get online for an hour or two a day when I can make it to the library, making job hunting and other online activities, including posting here, a lot easier.

What I am doing for bRight & Early, starting with this post, is writing at home, putting it on a thumb drive, and then copying it to the blog at the library. That sure isn’t going to speed up the posting schedule, but at least it will allow me to post something. My plan is to even write a few posts at a time and then schedule them over time. We’ll see. As I said, I started this site to write about things that interest me. Those things change over time. My focus for now will be on the following areas:

I. My Christian Faith

Of all the things I’ve written about, this is the one I have neglected the most. That’s probably due to the fact that I’ve neglected it way too much in my own life as well. I accepted Christ nearly fifty years ago. It has been a constant part of everything I am and do, even when I have neglected it. What I will be writing about will by my continuing journey and the renewal I am praying and striving for.

II. Growing Older

I am only thirteen months away from turning sixty. You youngsters won’t believe it, but growing older changes things. There are many topics related to this that I can touch on – health, finances, retirement, and many others. One that I hope to write about will be getting in shape when you’re older. Let’s see if I can overcome “lazy”.

III. Conservative Politics

While this has been the primary focus here from the start it will move further down the list of importance. I will still write about political subjects, but the frequency and focus may be less. Of course one of the things that is true about politics is that it interacts with nearly every other aspect of our lives.

IV. Whatever else strikes my fancy

As always, there are things that interest me that don’t fit into any other category. Doesn’t mean I can’t write about them. Odd news, sports, and a host a different subjects could find their way in here.

That’s it. My hope, as it always has been, is that you find something interesting to read and comment on here. Unlike the past, I make no promises regarding the frequency of future posts. Just check in from time to time, and let me know if you see anything interesting.

Change

Mike SchmidtI teased the other day that there was news coming. Now I can let you in on that news, but first a little background. When it comes to work I have always thought that it’s better to be Mike Schmidt than Mike Morgan. Schmidt played eighteen years in the majors, all of them for my Phillies. Mike MorganMorgan, on the other hand, played twenty two seasons pitching for twelve different teams.

My view of life growing up was that you got a job and worked for that company until you retire. Now that’s not to say that was something I was taught, observed, or practiced. My dad had four or more jobs that I remember, and he died young. It’s also not the way things have gone in my career. Since leaving college I have held eight different jobs in fields ranging from radio announcer to lab technician to fast food restaurant manager. I have spent that past dozen years in the call center industry, a field I started in for the simple reason that they were hiring when I was looking for a job.

It has often taken a lot of outside force to bring about these career changes. My first post-college job was working as a radio announcer working the overnight shift. Management suggested that I find another line of work because, and this is something I will never forget, I “never get to work until it’s time for you to start, and you leave as soon as your shift is over.” I wasn’t aware that was a bad thing. I must have been young and naive.

I did work for a chemical plant for eighteen and a half years. I enjoyed sixteen of them. That alone should tell you something about my attitude toward sticking with a job. Two plus years of working at a job that you really don’t like is about two years two long. On the other hand not every job change has been at my choosing. I would have been perfectly happy retiring from the job I held at Sykes. I liked workforce management, and I liked the company, but the economic decision was made to ship my position offshore, and I don’t think I would have been able to do the commute. So last fall I found myself, well into my fifties, looking for work. In all of my different job changes this was the first time that I was out of work without something else already lined up.

Legoland FloridaBut I did find job that I have enjoyed. Working for Merlin Entertainments at Legoland Florida has been a real pleasure. They are a great company and the job has been great. The only down side is the money that I find myself making. To be quite frank, I am bringing in now what I was making back in the early 90’s. My ingrained reluctance to change translated to a corresponding reluctance to look. In spite of that something new found me.

I have given Merlin my two week notice and I will be starting a new job with Hilton Grand Vacations at the end of this month. I am excited about this new opportunity and look forward to getting started. My new job has the potential of being more financially rewarding – possibly much more. There’s an upside for the blog as well. It is a late evening position, which is something I’ve always enjoyed. That means that I will have all day to be home and, if I can get back in to the habit, writing more here on bRight & Early.

So, wish me luck and stay tuned. Who knows, I may have more here in the coming weeks.

And that is…the rest of the story.

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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