Monday, March 23, 2009

Still in Exile

I wrote this post a year ago on a florida-related blog, shortly after moving alone to Huntsville, AL.

"The only thing wrong with Huntsville is that it is surrounded by Alabama"

- Something I read in some newspaper

I'm missing my kids. You never realize how much you need physical contact like a hug until there's no one around to give you one.

Ah well, slowly but surely I'm getting back in my routines. Spending the weekend doing laundry and cleaning and organizing and getting set to move into a real apartment at the end of the month was a big weight off my shoulders.

Some observations about Huntsville;

  • The worst. drivers. ever. And I've lived in Orlando, with tourists. I mean, I'm a guy that drives 80 mph as a rule, but this place is like the training grounds for Talledega. And everyone has a cell phone in their ear while driving. The faster they drive, the more they talk. Weird. But it's not just the speed, it's the weaving and cutting in and out. If there ain't rubbing, it ain't racin' right?

  • There's a morning news anchor that holds up various local and national newspapers and reads from them. WTF? I could do THAT.

  • I ate breakfast at a restaurant called "Waffle King". It's exactly like Waffle House, but cleaner. I mean, every single bit is exactly like Waffle House. The whole time all I could think of was Coming to America.

"Look... me and the McDonald's people got this little misunderstanding. See, they're McDonald's... I'm McDowell's. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds."
-Cleo McDowell

  • Being in the Central Time Zone sucks. Who wants to watch Lost at 8 p.m.?

  • Oh, the big news on the morning and evening news today is there's a Bass Pro Shop being built over in Decatur!

  • Old-school Publix, a mile away. Floridians know what I'm talking about.

  • I've been watching way too much TMZ.

  • I'm pretty sure Huntsville has the most Walmarts per capita in the world.

  • I saw Bill Clinton having breakfast with a Brunette at the Waffle King yesterday. I think.

  • The number of Meth-Treatment billboards around town was unexpected.

  • But, in the ten days I've been here, I haven't seen a single report of a murder. Jacksonville can't made it 24 hrs without one.

  • For someone that once owned a 4 bedroom home, it's shocking to see how little of what I own is actually mine, and how little of my "things" I really need. It's all here in one room.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Annie Goes to Space Camp for Free

annie-the-astronautSo, right when I post about republishing content from my other sites, I wind up with some news that deserves an original post.

My oldest daughter just won a full scholarship to Space Camp! She has wanted to go since we moved to Huntsville a year ago, and even started a website to beg for money from the friends and relatives raise the funds to go.

We've been on vacation in Florida all week and arrived home to find the message on the answering machine. We'll get more details this week, hopefully, but what we know is that this is a competitive, merit-based award, and it is good for one year. She had to write an essay about an astronaut she would like to meet and what she would ask them (answer: Buzz Aldrin), design a mission patch that reflected her personality, and get letters of recommendation. Her teacher and gifted instructor provided letters, and the principal from her last school in Florida wrote the best letter of recommendation I've ever seen, which I am sure put her over the top.

Exciting times, indeed!

Recycling and Repurposing

recycleSo what do you do when you've been a blogger for about 5 years and you have thousands of words written and spread across a couple dozen blogs?

Well, following the 80/20 rule, most of what you've written is crap, but there are always a few nuggets that have come out along the way. I've heard that you can sit a monkey at a typewriter and it is statistically possible he will eventually write a novel just by pressing random keys. So, that's me. I'm a monkey.

Anyway, I've decided that the few nuggets I've produced will be republished here. Just the stuff to which I don't mind attaching my name. The crap can stay where it lies.

So, look for more frequent updates (yeah, yeah, I know) that start with the tag line "Originally published...". I warn you, my interests are pretty broad and the posts will range from how to present a forecast to management, to eating grouper bits in the Sea World employee cafeteria, to how to run a semi-bluff in a medium-stakes poker tournament.

What can I say, I'm a renassaince man.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Paying it forward

I've been on both sides of this - a son whose father was looking for a job, and as a father with kids that just want to help. Check it out and pass it on:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Pro's and Con's of Being a Sole-Breadwinner

When my first child was born in 1999, my wife and I made the decision that she would stay home from work, at least for a while. My wife worked for a major bank of America (ahem), working in human resources. When the layoff notices associated with a merger came out, she volunteered to go on the list. With almost 15 years service, her severance package was really nice. At the same time, she had a network of consultants that hired her to do a couple projects that kept a nice side income running.

But life being what it is, the side jobs petered out and the lion's share of our income soon came from my job. In the intervening years, a second child was born and my wife has decided to work a variety of work-from-home jobs for a little extra money. We've also experienced a nice run in my career that was followed by a dramatic layoff and career-renassaince (you can't keep a good man down!).

So, we've EXPERIENCED life on a single-income and I thought you might be interested to hear a few thoughts aboout it if you're considering the same:

Pro: My wife is always there for anything the kids need.

Con: There is no money for extras, most of the time.

Pro: I never have to take time off for things like taking the car to the mechanic or meeting the cable guy.

Con: There is no money for extras, most of the time.

Pro: When my daughters are sick, they stay home and go the doctor rather than go to school and day care where they will infect everyone else because there was no adult in the house ablt to take time off from work.

Con: There is no money for extras, most of the time.

Pro: My kids are able to participate in any and all after-school activities that we can afford.

Con: There is no money for extras, most of the time.

Pro: I have had the opportunity to explore a variety of ways to earn a side income and enriched my life in more ways than just monetary.

Con: There is no money for extras, most of the time.

Pro: I'm the guy that people at work can count on to stay late and do the work that needs to be done because someone I love is taking care of other people I love, freeing me to do what I need to do to get ahead.

Con: There is NO MONEY for extras, MOST OF THE TIME!

The tradeoffs are different for every family. What is right for mine may not be right for yours. But, as hard as it is (and it is HARD!), I sleep well at night knowing that my wife and I prioritized our children over money and material items.