It's supposed to be a big deal, a milestone, the "You did it!" moment.
 
I haven't decided if I agree with all that - ask me when I'm eighty. At that time, my youngest son will be half my age, and still twenty years younger than I am now.
 
(I'll give you a minute to work through that.)
 
 
I vividly remember fifty - when my oldest son was half my age - because my wife planned a surprise party that entailed getting me booked on a faux engagement an hour out of town, so she would have time to fill our small house with over 40 people. (No, I didn't perform. The manager apologized for the "double-booking," fed me a steak and sent me on my way.) Back in Columbus, those attending the party strategically parked away from the house so as to not draw attention to it. When I arrived, I backed the trailer up the driveway, walked in the house and… well, you get the picture. It was a great evening and one I'll remember forever.
 
It's been over a decade since that night.
 
FAMILY
A Feeling of Completeness
 
Lonna continues to work at Greenleaf Job Training Services. She still works four-day weeks, albeit, very long days. She continues to be her parents' primary caregiver, handling their financials, grocery shopping, doctors' appointments, etc. How she holds up through all of it is beyond me.
 
Adam is still living in LA. He's going on acting auditions and working on wrapping up his ten-year project, "The Journey." From what I've seen, it will be a great story to tell. He does video editing to keep afloat financially and also has a roommate, who rents out the garage/apartment, which obviously helps with the monthly expenses.

Kenny is doing well. He and Amy have been together for over three years and currently have an apartment together. Both are working - Kenny as a diesel truck mechanic for Hill Distributing and Amy at Advance Auto Parts. They seem to be very content.

My Dad, Bill (sitting here with two of his grandsons, Billy & Nick), finally sold the house he and mom lived in together, which certainly took a huge financial burden off his shoulders. He seems to be handling living alone okay. He's renting a large condo not even five minutes from where he used to live, so he's still close to my youngest brother and my sister. His health is good. He'll be eighty years old in January, 2011.
WORK
Good Fortune Continues
 
During the last three years at American Commerce Insurance - now MAPFRE Insurance - I've worked with many very nice people. In fact, I haven't found one "difficult" person in the entire building of 175 - and I've encountered all of them at one time or another.
 
Late last year, I was offered a position with Marketing. This is the team that makes the operation run and I feel very blessed to be on it. I'm using my skills as a graphics / web designer far more than ever before (thank you Adam for the push to learn the programs) and I feel like I'm really contributing to the country-wide effort to bring MAPFRE Insurance to all fifty states. Working with very skilled and highly motivated people I continue to grow in my new position and I'm learning a great deal. Although MAPFRE is a 25+ billion dollar company, it does not have the big corporation "feel" of many large companies. People across the enterprise are friendly, polite and very appreciative.
 
BLOG
A Passion on Hold
 

Rants & Observations has been sidelined for now. As much as I love to write, I haven't had the "think time" needed to stay fully engaged. I will someday go back to writing again, but I can't say when that will happen. Until then, there's plenty of material to browse through. Click here to go to the site.

 
This brings me to the reason I started the blog…
 
POLITICS
Change is never easy but always inevitable, and ultimately for the better.
 
Unlike many who have become disenchanted with our President, I for one will be wholeheartedly voting for him again in 2012. For those who don't understand why, please stop watching cable news shows (all of them) and read both of his books. While you're at it, try reading news from legitimate sources like Reuters, The Associated Press, Newsweek, Time, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. (They are all online.) You will then understand that we have the smartest, most knowledgeable man holding the office in my lifetime.

Any president attempting major social change in a diverse country like ours will always be met with strong opposition from all ends of the political spectrum. While those unhappy with President Obama are screaming that he's not being politically smart or is doing the wrong thing with this or that issue, he's slowly correcting the course of this ship we call America, much like Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson and Clinton did before him. All of them were demonized by their political opposition, but history proved the opposition wrong and history will once again prove the current detractors wrong. This president has been working hard from day one. Here's a list of all the legislation he has signed into law since he's been in office.

I purposely did not include Reagan because although he was a very popular president, his domestic policies hurt our country. George Bush Sr. is a very likeable man, but was strapped to his predecessor's policies and therefore ineffective as president. His son's election was the unfortunate result of an intentionally misinformed electorate and a Supreme Court that should never have injected itself into our electoral process.
 
Okay. Rant over.
MUSIC
Here's where many of the "firsts" are for 2010.
 
(1) I'm in a true rock group for the first time in my life.
 
(2) Nearly all of the music we perform is material I have never
before played with a band or as a solo artist.
 
(3) The overwhelming response by those who hear us for the first time is way
beyond anything I've ever experienced before with a local band.
 
(4) We are experiencing exponential favor - from being asked to play at high level
private functions to being one of only 6 bands selected from nearly 100
to perform at a Talent Showcase for over 1000 people - all in just
the first few months of performances.
 
(5) The level of compassion, acceptance and understanding among the members is
unparalleled. Note that some of us have been involved in this project since
November, 2008. All of us have been involved for nearly a year and
there seems to be as much excitement now as there was when
we first put the band together.
 
(6) Another family member is part of the "entourage." My youngest son, Kenny,
is now working with the band to load, unload, set up and tear down
equipment. He and one of his long-time friends are our official
roadies. Their contribution means a lot to us "aging" rockers.
You can't have a great band without people of great character and talent. I'll leave the talent portion for observers to discuss. As for their character, allow me to introduce five musicians whose character and personalities are second-to-none:

Kenny Neff brings direct, concise but understated thinking to the band. He is a plumber by trade (over 30 years in the business). He played music many years ago then gave it up for nearly 15 years to pursue another passion: competition body building. Through those years his love for music started to resurface and that passion became strong enough to again get involved in putting another band together. He and the original drummer approached me in November, 2008. Through all of the auditions and changes, Kenny's conviction to stick with it until we had the right combination of talent and personalities never diminished and to this day, he'll tell you that his best days are when we're gigging and his second best days are when we're rehearsing.

Steve Sayre is originally from Zanesville, Ohio. He's been in Columbus for over 15 years, playing in a variety of groups until he joined the band. He works as the manager of a multi-million dollar parts department at Lane Aviation. He originally auditioned with the group in March, 2010. The decision to not go with him had nothing to do with his talent or his character. We simply went with someone we felt more familiar with. As fate would have it, that drummer decided to bow out in July and we immediately asked Steve if he was still interested. "I never lost interest," he said, stating that he had been "following the band's progress…" since his audition. His instinct to keep an eye on us was a good one. His personality and wit were a perfect fit from day one.

Paul Bernard's contribution to the group is multi-faceted. He's the motivator - always pushing to learn more material, to get the best gigs, to be the best we can be. Paul owns Bernard Company, an ultra high-end clothing business that he has operated for over 20 years. His no-nonsense approach to that business made him the best candidate for booking our gigs and he's doing stellar work. He's high energy and high on this band. On a personal level, you would be hard pressed to find anyone with a better sense of humor.

Jonathan Garcia hails from Los Angeles, California. He's been in Columbus for over seven years. He owned a Karaoke company for several years in California and Ohio and now works for W.C. National Mailing Corporation. His congenial warmth and subtly-stated humor make him very easy to work with. Sometimes exhausted from a long work day, he will come to rehearsals and still sing with the energy of a live performance. He is the rare combination of giftedness and humility, always putting the welfare of others before himself.

Tom Shields prefers staying out of the limelight, but certainly does not go unnoticed. He brings a common sense approach to the band. Tom is the Franklin County Municipal Court's Jury Commissioner and has worked for the county for 30 years. His calm demeanor and firm grasp of the realities of life make him a glove fit for our group. He came to the band in January, 2009 and has never once questioned his decision to stay. He truly loves music and performing, and although he's not fond of drawing attention to himself, has been known to - on rare occasions - join Paul, Jonathan and Kenny at the front of the stage.

As for me, I can't overstate how thrilled I am to be a part of this great group of people. As all of you know, music has been the saving grace throughout my life and to still be involved in the industry after over forty years is exhilarating.
It cannot go without saying that the significant others' of each of the members are also exemplary and in full support of this project. They have actually named themselves the "Powerline Princesses." In fact, all of us have often socialized outside of band functions and have thoroughly enjoyed each others' company. Here, most of us were in attendance for a concert by Kansas in July.
 
 
I must say a special thank you to Lonna for being so patient with all the rehearsals being held at our house. It's not easy putting up with all that "noise" twice a week - not to mention unloading equipment back into the rehearsal room at 2:00 or 3:00am after a gig, while she's trying to sleep.
 
 
My 60th Birthday
A Three Day Celebration
 
The day before (Thanksgiving) we all went to David's (my youngest brother) home for a wonderful meal and Lonna baked a cake for me. Fortunately, she did not attempt to place sixty candles on it.
 
 
 
On my birthday, Adam and I recorded one of his tunes from beginning to end in the studio - all the instruments and vocal tracks and even finished a rough mix. This was in the midst of a trip to Nick's (my other younger brother) home so Adam could see his cousin Andrea, who is a big fan. He videotaped the day and put a 15 minute version of the 52 minute video on YouTube.
 
 
On December 5th, I completed the mix which you can listen to here.
 
The following day, Lonna arranged for the four of us plus Amy to go to dinner. It was a great evening beginning with hors d'oeuvres and wine at home then a superb meal at Brio Tuscan Grill.
 
 
 
A Christmas Family Portrait
The Best of Intentions
 
"Go get your tri-pod. honey. I'd like to get a picture of the four of us."
 
"The four of us? You mean with the dog and cat?"
 
"Yeah. "

"Did you think this through? " I asked, knowing the answer.
 
"No, but you're a smart guy. You'll figure it out."
 
"I'm not so sure that's a ringing endorsement."
 
Koal (the cat) was sleeping comfortably in front of the fireplace, but needed to be moved in order for me to set up the tri-pod. His irritation was beginning. Kelso (the dog) was so shocked that he was allowed on the furniture that the first time he got up there and cuddled up next to Lonna, he looked at me and jumped down, assuming he was going to be scolded.
 
Finally, Lonna and Kelso are in place and Koal is watching from the sidelines. I set the timer, scoop him up in my usual manner, only faster, and sit down next to them. He's tolerating these rapid movements, but is not happy.
 
As we gather ourselves, preparing for the camera to make the usual click, I notice the timer's light is not flashing. No picture. In my haste to grab Koal, I pushed the on/off button.
 
Trying again, I set the timer and then go to scoop up Koal who is just out of view in the kitchen. The camera takes the picture with Lonna and Kelso in place. No Koal. No me. I set the timer for 2 seconds instead of 10.
 
 
 
By now, our usually very calm and loving, people-friendly cat is justifiably irritated, especially since this process started with me waking him from a blissful nap in front of his favorite winter spot. Kelso, on the other hand, is enjoying every minute with a look of absolute contentment from his newly-allowed perch next to Lonna on the love seat. It's as if he's thinking, "I  won."
 
With the camera's timer set correctly, I make a third attempt at this "Family Portrait." I'm able to scoop up the cat one more time, keeping him on my lap with a near death-grip on his shoulders and neck. He's no longer irritated. He is now officially pissed off. As I quickly put a not-so-natural smile on my face, Koal voices and illustrates his disdain for being held against his will. His outburst attracts Kelso's attention (who suddenly looks a bit concerned) which forces Lonna to get a firm grip on him and an "oh-oh" look on her face as the picture is taken.
 
 
I'm blessed beyond measure.
 
Sincerely,