Friday, December 14, 2012

Last Day

The nice thing about last days is they're so steeped in the awareness of conclusion that they feel more like the first of something than the last of anything.  That's how I feel today.  With such a large amount of time to claim as my own, I'm already thinking beyond today.  And yet, I'm going to enjoy every hour as it passes, reflecting upon my time at Wendel and the great friends and memorable characters I've met.  Today will be fun.  20 years in the corporate world is a large chapter I'm happy to close.

Tomorrow I'm playing in the Toys for Tots Racquetball Tournament in San Ramon.  It's one of the best attended tournaments in the area.  I missed last year's event, so this one will be particularly enjoyable.  There's really no reason why every day can't be a perfect day.  That is so sweet! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

4 Days Left!

I have four complete days left of work.  What joy.  What incredible freedom.  To have the rest of my life to write stories, articles, screenplays and non-fiction pieces is about as satisfying as finding a check in the mail for $1 Million or having Obama win re-election or Hilary win in 2016.  Pure satisfaction is how I'm feeling right now.  It's hard to appropriately put into words how happy I am to see this phase of my life come to an end, a long 20-year stretch in which I needed time to mature and work through my issues while devoting so much time and energy toward other people's work.  I will not miss that for one second.  I'm grateful, however, for the skill set I've learned in the corporate world, the work ethic I've adopted and the effective life lessons and time management skills I've incorporated into my daily routine.  What I won't miss is the tedium and blandness of corporate life, the detachment from what matters most to me.  I don't believe I will ever have another boring day in my life, even though so much of the future will be spent in front of my monitor at home, banging away at the keyboard or taking a nap on the couch.  I have tomorrow and Monday off, then Tuesday-Friday -- my final four days -- until 7 p.m. on December 14 when it's all done. 

My first official day of writing will be January 14, 2013.  My 1,000 Days of Writing will go until October 10, 2015, the day before my 52nd birthday.  I'm eager to see what I can accomplish with 1,000 days of uninterrupted writing time. 

 From Dec. 14 - Jan 14 I'll connect with family and friends, clean, read, organize, prepare and play lots of racquetball. 

Sara told me to revisit Introducing Girls a few days ago and from that she gave me a great idea that I've been kicking around all week.  No Sweat:  an Elementary Memoir.  Before I write Austin15, I need to put on paper the source material for everything, the first 10 years of my life, my crazy wonderful childhood and all its secrets.  I knew there was a reason why I kept everything.  I'll need it all to write this book.  I'm ready to make so much noise. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

8 Days Left

I have 8 days left of corporate life.  How sweet is that!  This week I work Monday through Thursday, and next week I work Tuesday through Friday.  I'm already loading up my schedule with writing projects, books to read and family to visit.  This year is going to be wonderful.

Yesterday, Alice and I went to Emery Bay to exchange an ipod nano for Alice (hers stopped working).  I checked out new books in Barnes and Noble and bought three, plus I'm reading another about mentally ill leaders who excel in crisis when compared to more normal leaders.

The Thomas Jefferson book has been on my mind all week.  I'm glad I finally own it.  I don't know as much as I should about him.  After Martin Martinez, I find myself drawn to the histories of presidents.  Cowboys Full is great research material for Austin15.  I'll start that in January.

Yesterday morning it rained so hard there were two small rivers zipping down Erie and Mandana streets.  It was something else.  Today it's calm and clear. 

Dorian and I played Tiger and Glenn in racquetball this morning and we were clicking.  He made some beautiful shots and we were unstoppable. 

Jon Meecham is only 43.  That blows my mind!

Off to work for the eighth-to-last time!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Thanksgiving 2012 - A very relaxing enjoyable weekend spent in Oakland and San Francisco.  Alice and I spent Thanksgiving morning at her house preparing for our visit to Richard & Lisa's at 4.  We took our time preparing appetizers, cleaning, reading.  At the Youngs we feasted on delicious everything, cheese, nuts, crackers, hummus, then turkey, potatoes, rolls, green beans, more turkey.  It was the Youngs, Rodney & Spike and me and Alice.  I had three pomegranate champagne cocktails.  Wow, they were good.  We stayed until 10:30, the time I can barely keep my eyes open.  I've become such a morning person.  Friday was another Thanksgiving at Alice's with her family and another round of non-stop eating.  I feel heavy all over.  Saturday and Sunday have been leisurely and enjoyable.  Last night, Alice and I finished up our viewing of Pillars of the Earth.  This morning we played badminton until noon.  I went to the library later today and checked out Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending, which I've been wanting to read all year.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thought On the Election

Two weeks after the election, I'm struck by the various reactions from Republicans over the election.  Newt Gingrich said it best when he acknowledged the President deserves our respect over his great victory.  He was shocked that Obama won, as was Romney.  Romney's concession speech on election night was graceful and poignant; however, his remarks a few days later over the reason he lost -- the gifts Obama gave to his constituents -- has been criticized by everyone.  Apparently, he's still reeling from the defeat.  Did he really think he was going to win?  Still last year, I really thought he was going to lose.  Romney had one core conviction throughout the campaign:  I want to be president.  That's all he really believed in, and he would say anything to make it happen.  No one told him that strategy doesn't work in this country.  You have to believe in something and stick with it.  That's what we respect.  You can game the electorate, at least not on the national stage when running for president.  I'm glad we will no longer have to listen to another Romney political speech in our lifetime. 

It seems to me the problem with the Republican Party can be traced back to the Republican Primary debates and some of the extreme positions so many of the candidates chose to take.  The competition to see who was the most conservative candidate became a contest to see who possessed the most extreme hostility toward the federal government, women, immigrants and Obama.  If Republicans can remove their extreme hostility out of their primaries, they'll stand a better chance in 2016. 

Giving Notice

After 2 1/2 years at Wendel, Rosen, December 14 will be my last day.  After that, I'm writing full-time, starting first with a non-fiction book proposal with Chris called "Bad Uncle's Guide to Adult Life," followed by Austin15, an online poker novel.  My year will be very busy.  I plan to build my presentation PowerPoints to schools and write a few short pieces for magazines.  I'm excited at all the time I'll have to produce. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Got Your Back, Obama!

I'm in a GREAT mood today.  Really great mood.  Last night played out close to how I had envisioned back when I was watching the Republican Primaries last September 2011.  Team Obama is simply one of the most incredible political machines in American political history.  They played this game like clock work, running a campaign that exploited every weakness of their opponent and getting their voters to the voting booth.  It was amazing.  To have the race and Ohio called for the president at 8:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time is a testament to the trouble the GOP faces in future presidential elections.  They have a serious problem with their party.  Every one of those Republican Primary debates from last year is still on the internet for voters to listen to.  That's where Romney lost the election when he made the decision to become the severely conservative candidate who chose to go to the far right of everyone on immigration and women's rights.  Romney gave an appropriate and moving consolation speech last night.  It seemed genuine and heartfelt.  I wish him well in private life.  I'm so ready to move forward with our re-elected president and the rest of the country.  Fired up, ready to go!  Great call last night, America!  It's why this country rocks!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Martin Martinez is Almost Here!

I've been at work on a new novel since April while working a 40-hour/week job.  I will never do that again.  Not only have I been ungrounded for months, I've practically ignored all other aspects of my life.  Work, write, racquetball, Alice, work write, eat, write, work, racquetball, Alice, write, shower, write, work, write, brush Sandy, write, work, send an email to someone, write, work, write, work, sleep, work, write...Needless to say, I can't wait to finish this thing.  It's called The Arrival (and departure) of Martin Martinez, Future President, and it's all narration, most of it anyway.  I write in the mornings and evenings before and after work, and sometimes during lunch or between rushes.  Fifteen minutes here, an hour there.  It's no life, that's for sure, at least not for me.  It's not sustainable.  I'm not happy when I'm not grounded. 

All the chapters are on paper, all 36 chapters, each over 1,000 words long with the whole thing coming in at around 40k, but the last 12 chapters in particular need a few more passes, and the middle section is thick with explanation and short on excitement.  In other words, there's so much left to do. 

I was hoping to finish by August, then September, now October.  I really hope to send it off to Sam on November 7, the day after the election.  It's about a famous 21st century president who first gets into politics as a ten-year-old boy during the 2012 presidential election between Obama and Romney.  He comes from a Republican family, so he's rooting for Romney to win, even though Obama pulls it least in the book he does.  The race was looking so good until Obama's lackluster debate last week.  I still think Obama will win, but anything can happen.  I've learned a lot writing this book.  More than anything, I've learned I really do enjoy sitting down in front of a computer and banging out words all day.  I never thought that would happen.  It just sort of snuck up on me, like so many other things these days. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Our Man Joe

Vice President Biden looked into the camera last night and in so many words said, Paul "Voucher" Ryan, I am going to eat you up and spit you out in our debate!  If Clinton is the big dog, Biden is our big hearted attack dog.  His speech was Awesome!

What Biden said about GM's day of doom under Obama's Way versus the Bain Way was truly brilliant, truer than true, and the reason why Obama is the right choice for America.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Two Jobs

I've been writing a new novel since April called "The Arrival (and departure) of Martin Martinez, Future President."  It's 36 chapters long, around 40k words, and it's about board games, childhood and presidential politics.  Whatever spare time I have is given over to writing, research and revisions.  The first half is getting there, but the second half is still being revised.  It's the first novel I've written from beginning to end while working full time.  It's like working two jobs at once and logging in 80 hours of week each week.  Poor Alice.  She's been a writer's widow these past few months.  Next weekend we go to Bellingham for a few days.  I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The other day, I went to Mitt Romney's website and this is what I found on the front page:

How does this front page win an election?  Anyone can state what the answer is Not, but presidents are supposed to state what the answer IS.  What does Candidate Romney think the answer is, and why isn't it the first thing I read on his website?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I spent last weekend visiting my nephew Mathew in Pullman, WA.  I hadn't been back at WSU in a couple of decades.  A lot has changed.  The new wing of the main library, named after WSU President Glenn Terrell, is beautiful.  There's also a new rec center that has four racquetball courts, a field hockey court, badminton courts, four full-length basketball courts, a track, lots of cardio equipment, volleyball courts, ping pong, darts, and even a foosball table.  We went there four times.  I saw a few of my former residences (Scott Hall, Monroe Ave., and the Honda Shop).  The CUB is a totally new building.  It's hard to believe I was there 26 years ago.  Wow, that's nuts. 

One of my favorite hangout spots at WSU was the periodical section of the Holland Library.  I was here nearly every day, reading magazines and newspapers.  It was always busy, but now the hall is a ghost town.  The main doors of the Holland Library are permanently closed, which is really sad.

Bruised Books was one of my favorite used bookstores of all time.  And it still is!  I bought David McCullough's "Mornings on Horseback" (hardback) for $7.  Nice.

I walked past this park every morning in 1986 when I lived above the Honda Shop in downtown Pullman.  I'd forgotten how steep the hill was to the top of campus.

I remember seeing Hannah and her Sisters opening weekend at the Cordova.  Now it's a house of worship.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Luv my Sistas!

Then and now...we took this last weekend for Dad's 70th birthday.  We went through lots of pictures, many of which I scanned into a thumb drive.  I need to scan the whole collection.  There are some crazy this one from the 70s!

I need two pairs of sunglasses for this color combo.  Holy cow the that was one crazy decade!

Friday, March 30, 2012

I took Rossana and Daniel to Flipside Burgers Wednesday night, our new neighborhood burger joint on Lakeshore Ave. 

Our meals received a coveted Three Thumbs up for freshness, taste, and juiciness.  We were very satisfied.  Welcome to the neighborhood, Flipside!

I hit the racquetball courts extra early this a.m. to counter the effects of all those fries. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wolf House

Alice and I visited John, Sara, and Seth Donnelly in Sonoma over the weekend.  What a fabulous time!

We took a walk in the rain to Jack London's Wolf House in Glen Ellen. 

My Kindle's loaded up with Jack London novels, but I haven't gotten to them yet.  I should read one this week in his honor. 

My days are overflowing with work, writing, and endless little items that take longer than they need to.  I miss the balance of a writing life.  Writing while working has always been a great challenge to me.  One day at a time, that's all I can think about right now.  I do like how this new book is shaping up.  I still haven't come across anything like it out there in middle grade land. 

Haven't seen The Hunger Games yet, but plan to soon, maybe this coming weekend when I'm in Seattle for my dad's 70th birthday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

State Singles in Fullerton, CA

The California State Racquetball Singles Tournament was last weekend in Fullerton, California and my energy was zapped early in the tournament, which was something I was worried about in the weeks leading up to the event. My endurance has been an issue since November. After only two matches in Fullerton I was tapped out. My third match Saturday morning was against the eventual winner of the A Division, Octavio Medina, who made some incredible gets during our second game and managed to overcome a 10-4 deficit to beat me and take the match. I didn't win another game after that in my age bracket. I could barely move properly on the court and my focus simply wasn't there. I look forward to getting back to full strength next year and becoming more of a threat. The one bright spot for me last weekend was my come-from-behind win in the first round against a player named Frank who had a great drive serve. I was down 2-9 in the tiebreaker but managed to claw my way back and take the match 11-9. I didn't play well throughout the match, leaving balls up and missing my serves, but toward the end of the tiebreaker things started to click, especially with a couple of wall-hugging Z serves. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted after the match that two hours later when I faced Octavio I wasn't fully there. The walls on our court were also very wet, creating all kinds of sick spin on the ball. The organizers actually shut down our court after the match because it was so unplayable.

Two days later, I'm still very sore in my legs and right arm. I'll play again on Friday and definitely work on my leg strength in preparation for the Stockton Pro/Am next month.

While in Fullerton, I visited my nephew Tristan, who's a freshman at Chapman University. We had a great time together over a couple of delicious burgers at Claim Jumper and sandwiches at Watson's Diner in the center of Orange. Tristan's future looks very bright indeed!

Now that the state tournament is over, my attention has shifted to the new middle grade novel I'm working on about a future U.S. president who as a 5th grader believes he was a mighty king in another life. I hope to have this story finished by July.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top 10 Things on my Mind

1.  The Oscars...and The Artist, which gets my vote for Best Picture.

How does a silent, black and white film become the most talked about feel good movie of the year?  I have no idea, but the moment the lights dimmed and the music began I was hooked.  This was one of the most enjoyable movie experiences I've had in years!

2.  New YA Novel...middle grade groundbreaker for boys...readable draft ready by mid-summer.

While waiting for Julia Milan to find a home, I'm keeping myself busy with a new novel about a fifth grader from Oakland named Martin, whose uncanny insights about leadership and human nature propel him to national promiance during the presidential election of 2012.  Presented as a biography about the young life of a future U.S. President, this political page turner is unlike anything in bookstores for middle grade readers (especially boys!). 

3.  Julia Milan news yet...

Good things come to those who wait, and great things come to characters like Julia who must wait to find an editor who understands why she is the way she is.

4.  Vanguard Mutual Funds

I've been meaning to update my 401k situation with a new strategy and positional shift to Vanguard and its low-fee, strong-performance mutual funds.  I never seem to have enough time to read annual reports and prospectuses, but I'm getting my act together this week.

5.  Neal's Visit last week

w/ Neal @ Chapel of the Chimes

My longtime awesome friend Neal Fowler visited last week and we had a TOTAL blast hanging out, eating Zach's pizza, the new burger joint down the street, watching a few flicks ("The Descendants" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") and even giving 4th grade neighbor Sophie a violin lesson.  Can't wait for Neal's entire family to come visit!

6.  Inspiration Point with Alice

This morning, Alice and I took a wonderful 4-mile walk through Tilden Park in Berkeley, walking along Inspiration Point on a crisp, cloudless day.  As Alice would say, "This is living!"

7.  1776 and George Washington

I listened to the audio version of David McCullough's "1776" last week and parts of it again this week.  The Battle of Trenton is still swirling around in my mind.  I now understand why George Washington is so revered by historians.  He needed a total game changer before the start of 1777, and on Christmas night 1776 he totally delivered what has to be one of the most dangerous, gutsy, midnight surprise attacks of all time.  Stunning.  Truly awe-inspiring.  I love this founding father right now.

8.  Racquetball

I'm preparing for the A division of the State Singles Tournament next month in Fullerton, CA, and it's amazing to me how consistent I can be one day and inconsistent I can be 24 hours later.  Yesterday morning I moved around the court like an 80-year-old.  I could barely move.  Steve B., Brian R. and I have been playing singles a lot in prepartion for March.  Next week is the Club One Doubles Tournament.  Can't wait!

9.  Page Plus Cellular on the Verizon Network

Last month, I was all set to upgrade my orginal iPhone to an iPhone 4 with AT&T, but quickly learned that would mean an additional $30 in monthly fees, so I searched for a less expensive but reliable option.  This company out of Ohio is very good and uses the Verizon Network.  For $30/month, I have all the minutes, texting and data I need.

10.  Downton Abbey Season 2

 Not as tight nor compelling as season 1, but still an engaging program with many likeable characters.  Can't wait for season 3!

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year

Alice and I traveled to Hawaii for a few days after New Year's, just to get away and relax before embarking on the beginning of a very busy year for both of us.  We were in Honolulu five days and four nights, and we both had a sensational time.  The weather was perfect and the food was just as good.  We took a lot of pictures and I hope to add more to this entry throughout the week.