Hell of a Guy
Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed. - George Burns

Sunday, November 27, 2011



What is next?  This is the question of the day.  This past week has been extremely an busy time for me.  Thanksgiving preparations took up most of the week, so I am really thinking of tomorrow as the birth of my retirement.  I am thinking I should to make a list of all the little projects and stuff I want to get done around my house, perhaps call it a “Honey Do” or maybe a “Me Do” list.

There are some home projects I have in my mind; of course, some of them have been lost in vastness of my innermost thoughts for nearly six years with absolutely no action taken.  If there is one skill I have honed over the years, it is the ability to procrastinate, and I will probably draw on it to put off making up the list for a while longer.  It might be the smart thing to do given the level of my inate mechanical ability.  I have told a lot of people the first days of my retirement would be spent sitting in my favorite chair doing nothing at all.  Thus far I have not done it.  Even now I am sitting in the lobby of the Hampton Inn in Bridgeport, WV with this contraption sitting on my lap (no wonder it is called a “laptop”) longing to be home doing absolutely nothing at all. Nothing at all!  What a nice thought. 

The Nancy and I enjoy asking young people “What is your dream?”  We want them to give it some thought because we find the vast number of our teenagers and young adults have not really thought about a dream job or dream career, much less how they intend to spend the rest of their lives.  We both know we sure did not and were never asked, and I spent the first 39 years of my life not giving it any thought at all. 

We once asked one of our favorite bartenders about her dream, and totally loved her answer.  Once asked, it didn’t take her long to respond.  She simply said “Not to have to do anything.”  At first we were taken aback by her answer, thought it unsatisfactory, almost flippant, but the more we reflected over it and talked about it, the more it made sense, perfect sense.

Just to think one might never “have to do anything” is a beautiful thought.  We believe what she was really saying was she wanted to do it all, to do everything but in her time, her way.  Hell, she could be Frank Sinatra.

So the question is “What is Next?”  Where do I go from here; what is my plan; what do I have to do?  And the answer is, I don’t have to do anything.  I do not have to plan a thing.  I don’t even have to think about it all.  It will happen, for the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.  I simply need to enjoy what is next.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011…


I should not have done it.  I should have learned the futility of it years ago.  I should have known there just isn’t anything to gain in the attempt, but then I have always been a little slow.

The Nancy and I arrived at her parents’ home about 11:30 yesterday morning.  Her mom and dad were there as was her brother Chuck and his wife Michelle.  The feast preparation was well underway and very much under control with none of the usual panic that ensues on the typical Thanksgiving Day.  Our portion of the meal was pretty much complete, needing only to be reheated.  All was well.

Chuck was playing bartender making Bloody Marys for anyone wishing one.  I am not a BM kind of a guy; something about red-colored drinks is totally unappealing to me.  Instead I headed for the back porch and the well-stocked cooler I brought long for the ride.  As I extracted one of the twelve Sierra Nevada Celebration Ales I brought for the weekend I knew I was about to do it again, my stupidity gene was now in control.

The Nancy’s brother has an insatiable beer appetite.  I have no idea where he puts it, but I knew when he finished his Bloody Mary and visited the cooler to get me another Celebration, the cruise to Buzzville was ready to leave port.  Chuck returned with three beers, one for me, two for him.  He opened one and downed it as he opened one for me – it is his modus operandi.  The game was afoot.

The big meal was served about 1:30.  So for an hour or so my body was able to process alcohol with the assistance of mashed potatoes and dressing and lots of other goodies (mostly of the dessert category), but then came an aperitif in a liquid form – more beer, one for me, two for him.  This scenario repeated itself numerous times throughout the afternoon, through a couple of football games and well into the evening.  About the time I began to giggle I volunteered The Nancy as the designated driver, a duty which she rigorously accepted without hesitation.  Thankfully and finally on this Thanksgiving evening the beer supply was exhausted as were those who consumed it.  I was (my opinion and not that of those around me) “nearly” wasted but fully in control of my senses, even though I was having some difficulty formulating complete sentences and some words containing more than three syllables.  It was time to go.

For some inexplicable reason as I write this little piece this morning, there seems to be some gaps in the time line yesterday.  I do remember getting into the car, with The Nancy fully in command of the driving duties, and then suddenly it was 5:14am.  Tempus fugit!

All and all, it was a stupendous Thanksgiving spent with people I love.  If some of it is lost within my medulla oblongata, it’s okay.  One day all will be remembered…and perhaps if I am truly fortunate it will not.
And that is all I have to say about that…

Monday, November 21, 2011

And Now It Is Done…


This is the first Monday of my retirement, and as corny as it may sound, it is the first day of the rest of my life.  I was conflicted for many months about retiring, but as the final day moved closer I embraced the idea.  This past Friday was my official last day as a working stiff.  I am a man of leisure now.

The first item on the “Bucket List” I made, which thus far has but one bucket, is to get a photograph of the sunrise on the first morning of my retirement.  Done!

Now knowing the vast majority of you have not been to The Farm, you may not visualize the topography of it.  Our property is in somewhat of a valley between two West Virginia mountains, the Sleepy Creek and the Cacapon – and slopes downward east to west.  Got it!

Friday morning I was up early (I am always up early), and one of the first things I wanted to do was to see the exact time the sun arose over the eastern horizon, after all it takes a bit longer for it to breach the summit of a mountain than it does the flatlands.  I checked the internet and found 7:13 as the local time for the sunrise, then watched very closely from my front porch to see when it would rise above the Sleepy Creek.  I first saw it through the trees about 7:25.  My next thought was brilliant: on Saturday my plan would be to leave the house about 7am and drive up to higher ground to a spot where I could get a clear shot of the fireball as it moved above the horizon, figuring it would do it about 7:20.

I positioned myself at a point with an elevation about 200 feet higher than that at our house and at least a mile closer to the mountain.  Coffee cup in hand, I sat in my car contemplating retirement as daylight moved over the mountain and with soothing New Age music surrounding my ears.  Eagerly, I awaited the arrival of Sol.  It was just 7am.  This was going to be too cool!  However, it soon became quite evident I am a dumbass and my geometry teacher, David Elenbogen, was right-on when he gave me a “D” for his class.  I was now closer to the mountain and had reduced the distance from the mountain to my location thereby greatly increasing the angle between my location and the point where the sun would become visible.  This fact finally hit me at 7:30 as the eastern horizon grew brighter and brighter but the sun was not yet visible.  Slowly, as the minutes crept by one-by-one, the eastern sky began to blaze and Her Majesty made her regal entrance.  The time, 7:38.


If you have ever witnessed the sun rising, then you know you can literally see it move, though it ain’t in a hurry.  As it broke the plane I began snapping photos; I must have taken a dozen or more.  It was awesome, and solidified the moment – I am retired.

This being my first Monday as a retired American and an official senior citizen living on a fixed income, I have decided to sit here in my favorite chair and think about a second item I can add to my Bucket List.  This will not be easy, but then I have all day to do it.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And Now the End is Near…


“And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way”

I flew into Los Angeles this past Sunday aboard Southwest flight 3651, ultimately heading to my company’s plant in Torrance, California for what is to be my last week as a fulltime employee of Virco Manufacturing Corporation.  Friday, November 18th will be my last day, and it, too, will be spent on a Southwest flight, but that one will be five hours of blissful relaxation (I think).

“Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way”

Five days from now I will be a retired Hell of a Guy.  No more meetings, no more appointments, no reports to write or phone calls to make, emails, except for private ones, will be a thing of the past, no letters to write, no employee evaluations to do.  I won’t have to do monthly itineraries, nor will my life be lived on a month to month basis, and, hallelujah, no more quotas.  This is the good side.

“Yes there were times I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way”

On the other side of this coin is all I won’t “get” to do.  This job has taken me to so many really neat places around the country.  I think there are only about eight states I have not visited, and I have met people from just about all 50 of them.  Over the years I have worked with some of the greatest people on the planet.  I have also worked with some wacky ones and weird ones.  I would not trade any one of them, all contributed to my success in one way or another and made my life complete.

“I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing”

Monday I began four days of my final meetings with my company’s managers at various levels in various positions.  We are discussing and planning our strategy for 2012.  My goal, even with my imminent retirement, is to make relevant contributions.  On my way out I have opened up discussions of some touchy subjects – hell, they can’t fire me now!  Along the way I hope I have taken some heat off my fellow managers.

“To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way”

All in all, as scary as the thought of retirement is to me, I am looking forward to it with a very open mind.  I am planning my “charted course” and my careful steps along the byway. 

“For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way”

And that is all I have to say about that…

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