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, Commerce Group, was 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 this summer.
 
  
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 Central's 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 Deal But...
...I'm the first Kontras blogger. 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 Trumps Fear, 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," "Religion," "Media and Pundits," "Electronics," a series on being a musician called "So You Wanna Be A Rock Star," a series on the stupid things people do called "Cranial Flatulence," "Current Events," a series on comedic things called "Time to Laugh" 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 Warrior." 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 You Sure?"
 
So why write? Who cares what I think?
 
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 in blogging.
 
  
 "Ron, 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 effort.
 
Meet Tom Shields, Paul Bernard, Ron Plumley, Jonathan Garcia and Kenny Neff
 
 
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.
 
Sincerely,