- If I were to describe this
year in one word, I would have to call it "creative."
- More on a big event this
year, after some catching up.
- My Day Gig
- I'm still working for American
Commerce Insurance Company
and my job continues to go well. I completed my second year with
the company and I look forward to many more. Our parent company,
purchased in June by MAPFRE,
the largest insurance company in Spain. It was a $2.2 billion
acquisition by the company, whose global reach is worth well over
$20 billion. The only changes we've seen at ACIC involve
the I.T. department, which will get consolidated into MAPFRE's
I.T. department so that all companies within the MAPFRE group
will be working off of the same platform, called TronWeb.
- My Family
- My youngest son, Kenny,
is now looking to move into race car engine building. He's looking
at a couple of different companies. He continues to date Amy,
who now attends college.
Amy has recently decided
she would like to go into law enforcement and is transferring
to a different school. She plans to enter the police academy
as soon as she is of age.
- Lonna continues
to work at Greenleaf
JTS. She now
attempts to complete her forty hours in four days so that she
can have more time for herself, and still help her parents with
their needs. She has joined Facebook, which really helps her keep
in touch with so many friends she hasn't heard from in years.
Here she is with Adam
- My Dad, Bill,
is hanging in there.
- Although Mom's passing was
over three years ago, he still misses her as much as the day she
passed. Here she is with her youngest grandaughter, Gracie,
early in 2006.
As always, I spent every
OSU football game in his living room. except for the Iowa game,
when I was in L.A. watching it with Adam,
sitting eight feet from his ten foot widescreen TV system.
- Speaking of Adam:
he's had quite a year. Besides having traveled to Kenya,
Paris, London, Athens and Venice,
he also had the opportunity, on November 12th, to perform "Adam
and the Egos" for Comedy
Senior VP of Development and Programming (West Coast) exactly
eight years - to the day - from his debut at The Comedy Store.
As was true eight years ago, I was able to fly out for this event
as well. His hopes were that Comedy Central would pick up his
show for a half hour, six show series, but because he is really
unknown in the world of comedy and/or television, they
decided to pass.
It was still a great experience for him and he met some people
who I'm sure he will run into again at some point in his career.
- Social Networking
- I became one of the millions
and millions of people who are members of social networking websites.
I'd like to say I'm an active
participant with daily postings but the truth is, I'm lucky
to get on either of these sites even once a month unless someone
sends something to me. As you read further down this page, you'll
understand why. One thing that I did learn: there are TWO OTHER PEOPLE with
the name MICHAEL KONTRAS on Facebook. One is in Buffalo,
NY, and the other is in Montreal, QC. This is highly unusual,
because the name Kontras is straight from the old country (Greece)
and I have researched the family tree back far enough to know
that both of these people must be distant relatives. Maybe I'll
find out someday.
- Not a Big
- ...I'm the first Kontras
At least, I think so. When I do a Google search, mine is the only
one that comes up. I can thank Adam for getting me started. The
first time I was out in L.A., in April, Adam commented on my very
lengthy review of the 2008 Presidential Election, Faith
and noted that I would probably enjoy blogging. He helped me set
up my blog. I also registered a domain name for the blog so that
it could be searched more than one way. www.RantsandObservations.com.
- I'm sure this will come as
a shock to everyone who knows me: I mostly blog about politics.
Other categories include "Automobiles,"
a series on being a musician called "So
You Wanna Be A Rock Star,"
a series on the stupid things people do called "Cranial
a series on comedic things called "Time
and one on Adam called "Oldest
Son of an Oldest Son."
I just started one on Kenny called "Youngest
Son of an Oldest Son."
- Of the nearly 100 posts I've
written since March, one seems to stand out because it was not
written in the typical documentary style of most blogs - it was
written from the heart about my passion for music: "Weekend
Another post was a very interesting back-and-forth with a very
angry blogger: "Why
Are People So Angry?"
One other that was well-received is "Are
- So why write? Who cares what
- Beyond the fact that it is
very cathartic and does require a certain discipline, the reason
for writing is the same as the reason for playing music: because
it feeds the need to express myself. Each post also includes the
creation of a title graphic - some of which you can see here
- which is also a form of self-expression. So often, especially
in gatherings with family, attempts to have conversations about
"delicate" issues usually lead to arguments, not civil debate.
After having "talking points" and religious rhetoric thrown in
my face for years, with nothing substantive to back up the statements,
I decided to no longer take the bait. Instead, I voice my opinions
on the blog and send links to posts to family members and friends.
If they want to read and respond, fine - if they don't, fine.
- An historical reason: I wanted
to video tape me interviewing my mother on her life story - which
is extraordinary by any standard - and we never coordinated our
schedules to accommodate the project. I felt she had so much wisdom
from her life experience that could have benefited future generations.
- I doubt that I will ever
have her wisdom, but I don't want to leave this earth without
conveying my thoughts on issues that are important to me. I have
never been concerned about others' thoughts on my vocation in
music, and I'm not concerned about their thoughts on my avocation
along with a lead guitarist named Kenny Neff came over one night,
late this year. Both are very talented and have great personalities.
We decided to start looking for additional members." These
were my words last year as I started to write about the formation
of a classic rock cover band.
- We knew our musical direction
was going to require some very talented performers. One
year later, after God-knows-how-many auditions, we've completed
the membership. The process was exhausting but well worth the
- Powerline is now in rehearsals.
We're currently half way through our song list and have started
recording our promotional demo, which will be available not only
on our website, but on MySpace, and eventually, YouTube, as audio
to some rehearsal video footage and slides.
- We are "covering" some of
rock's greatest hits - not an easy task. This is the first time
I've ever been involved in a band learning material note-for-note.
We're selecting from many different artists with the same musical
attention-to-detail you would expect from a very good "tribute"
band, which typically does material from only one or two artists.
- We plan to "go live" in the
spring of 2010. If you would like to be notified of upcoming engagements,
please send me an e-mail.
- Thanks for taking the time
to read my 2009 page.