Saturday, September 5, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up - September 5, 2015

As I wrap up this week allow me to first remind and encourage you to take the very brief survey I asked you to respond to a week ago Wednesday. I continue to receive more responses, but since this is an unscientific survey, the more responses I receive the more accurate the information I'll be able to compile. You only need to respond one time. So, if you already have, thank you for your participation. If you haven't yet responded, here's the link to the survey post Survey Link. After next Wednesday I won't accept any further responses. The survey is short and simple. It shouldn't take you longer than 1 minute to respond and it's completely anonymous. Please respond now, if you haven't already.

An Event-ful Week

It's been an interesting and eventful week. As I noted in an earlier post, I was actually attending the Veteran Speakers Retreat from Thursday through Sunday, August 27-30. This is an event I actually coordinated and ran from 2002 until 2013 (12 years) for a group of 50 to 60 professional speakers, mostly friends, but always some new people. I passed the baton to a new coordination team for the 2014 retreat. So, for the past two years I've attended as a "civilian" participant, again. The retreat began in 1987 and I've been to about 26 of the 29 retreats to date.

This event is a very informal and laid back function. There are some structured sessions, but they are always interactive and they have nothing to do with business or earning a living. The rest of the time is about getting reacquainted with old friends and getting to know new friends and sharing what's happing in our individual lives. Of course, everyone is interested in my "living free" lifestyle and they've been following it since 2009. It's a very energizing, therapeutic and often cathartic four days. As always, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and left the hotel in Chantilly, Virginia very uplifted at about 3:00 PM on Sunday.

I have to admit, though, I do miss coordinating and running an event. It was time for me to pass the reins of the Veteran Speakers Retreat. But, I still miss it since coordinating, planning and running events like this is something I always enjoyed doing during my earlier career. Perhaps I should start an annual or bi-annual Living Free Retreat for anyone who loves and seeks to live free or already does and wants to share their experiences with others. It could be for folks who live the mobile lifestyle and for those who prefer living free from a fixed location. What do you think? Should I start putting something together? I could do one somewhere out west and another one somewhere back east to cover all the bases. Are you interested? Comment on the blog or drop me a note via email or on the "Living Free" Facebook fan page.

I actually began this year's retreat a little early by driving up to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to visit my friend, Tracey Jones and her staff including Jason, Mary and Dixie and the three furry staff members, Ruby Red, Indigo and Roscoe (the rascal of the bunch). Tracey is the daughter and now publisher and president of Tremendous Life Books, a publishing business started by her father, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones. Charlie and I shared a very close working and friend relationship for about three decades. He passed away in 2009.

The Veteran Speakers Retreat owns a very sophisticated, portable sound and video system I designed and built for the retreat. It has been stored at the Tremendous Life Books warehouse since we hosted the retreat at the nearby Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania for a number of years. I went up to visit the gang and pick up the system and bring it to the retreat at the new venue in Chantilly, Virginia.

I spent Sunday and Monday evenings visiting with and sleeping over at my Air Force buddy's place in Falls Church, Virginia (near the Pentagon). You may know my buddy as Mickey Bo who hosts a vintage 50's and 60's Rock & Roll Revue on local cable channels in the Fairfax County, Virginia region and also on several Internet radio stations. His show is heard around the world. If you enjoy 50's and 60's rock & roll (doowop, rockabilly, blues, R&B and rock & roll), I encourage you to tune in some time. The link to his show is on the blog to the right of the main body of the blog text. It's a fun show and Mickey is a real pro with over 50 years in on the air radio.

I sleep in Mickey's studio when I visit him. Interestingly, when I had my recording studio at my ranch in the Shenandoah Valley, Mickey slept in my studio when he visited me.

On Saturday, I learned that I was going to be doing some on-camera voice-over work on Monday with my long time friend, client and the founder of the Veteran Speakers Retreat, Dave Yoho, at his office in Fairfax, Virginia. I still have an office at my disposal in Dave's complex anytime I need one. This wasn't part of my plans for this short trip. But, since I've been doing off camera voice-over work and producing audio products for Dave's professional speaking, seminar and consulting company for about 30+ years, it wasn't an unusual request.

I had planned to be at his office anyway to complete some repairs and upgrades to another sophisticated, portable audio and video conference/seminar system I'd built and maintained for him over the past 10 or 12 years. The plan was to be done with the system by Monday afternoon, but with the added voice-over project, that didn't happen. So, it was Tuesday afternoon when I completed my work there.

I then headed for Winchester, Virginia, my hometown for 26 years until 2010 when I changed my home of record to Box Elder, South Dakota. I needed to stop at my CPA's office and pick up my 2014 business tax returns so I could file them before my filing extension expired. I made it back out to my base camp in West Virginia by about 8:00 PM on Tuesday night and have been playing catch up ever since.

It was hot week this week with average temperatures between 90 and 95 and some relatively high humidity. I had prewritten all the posts for the blog through Tuesday, but needed to jump back into writing action on Wednesday. So, now it's back to routine, such as it is, to keep up with the blog, continue upgrading it and working with Craig's List, Ebay and a few other sources to complete the last stages of my downsizing I began in 2008.

This may be the toughest part of the process due to the stuff I need to go through and the nature of the professional audio and video gear I need to liquidate. This is the only thing holding me back from being on the road right now, so I have to focus on this project.

So, that's been my last week and a half, actually. I hope yours has been eventful and productive in whatever endeavors you've undertaken.

The Week That Was

So, in the news this week, the Donald continues to piss people off. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina continue to rise in the polls, as does Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile HRC continues to swerve and spin as she pisses more people off. And, a new twist, her former and current staff members seem to be prepared to exercise their 5th Amendment Rights and not answer any questions about, well, anything, I guess. I think we may see Alfred E. Neuman and Crusader Rabbit (for those old enough to know who they are) toss their hats in the ring one of these days.

The debate over the Iran (so-called - my editorializing) "Agreement" is still very controversial, but looks like our "fearless" (again, my editorializing) leader may have convinced, conned, coerced (pick one) enough people in Congress (which, once again begs, the question who pays their salaries and who do they "actually" work for) to pass this issue. You make your own judgments as to the values and ethics of this "Agreement."

It appears as bad as the bad guys (ISIS) are, Assad, is a badder guy. The headline I read sort of read (paraphrased) ISIS has killed many, many people, but Assad has killed many more. Question . . . is this a contest for the award of "Baddest Baddass in the World?" A pretty dubious distinction at best.

And, over in Europe, the Hungarians are trying to squirrel cage the Middle Eastern, mostly (from all appearances), Muslim refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan into refugee camps. Germany has offered them safe haven (maybe not such a great idea in the long run). Why not just help them pass through and go where they're wanted? Another issue that seems like a no-brainer to me, but . . . nobody asked me.

China is still all f**ked up in the economy department as they're sliding downhill. So, between them and the weak European Union and Euro (with special help from those who brought us Zorba and Jimmy, The Greeks), the U.S. stock market has looked like a hair raising roller coaster. Interestingly, the U.S. economy produced less jobs this past month than they have for several preceding months, but the unemployment rate declined to the lowest point in seven years.

I had to study "New Math" in college 50 years ago. I never did catch on. I guess if I could have grasped it back then I could understand how all this stuff works now. Less new jobs and less people getting jobs means a lower unemployment rate. The hedge fund operators must have this all figured out. People lose their jobs, life savings, homes, retirement pensions and the hedge fund guys and gals get to buy another Rolls Royce, Bentley or Lamborghini. Wish I'd studied a little harder 50 years ago. Of course, I don't think this math even existed back then.   

Okay! Here's one bright spot in the news for us living free, simple, minimalist and mobile lifestyle folks. Gas prices this Labor Day Weekend are at the lowest in 11 years. I've had several people tell me they paid less than $2.00/gallon over a week ago. I paid $2.059/gallon this past Tuesday in Winchester. And I just checked my Gas Buddy app on my OnePlus One smart phone and prices are around $1.85/gallon in Roanoke, Virginia and Columbia, South Carolina. Oil is still below $50.00/barrel and apparently, this is all bad?

Well, Yeah! The new King Salman of Saudi Arabia will probably have to lease one less floor in the Washington, DC Four Seasons Hotel (he has the entire hotel currently). The hotel has been entirely carpeted (including outside where the King and his family may walk) with red carpets and all the coat racks, fixtures, etc. have been changed to gold. This isn't to mention the 1,000 person entourage who are traveling with the King nor what appears to be a fleet of 100 or more black Mercedes luxury cars with drivers to move all his "minions." (And we think the Prez f**ks up traffic wherever he goes.) And, just remember, all this is being paid for and has been paid for with "oil money" the OPEC cartel has lined the Saudi Royal family's pockets with. Some of that money came from your pockets and mine.

So, there is The Week That Was.

Enjoy your Labor Day Holiday Weekend. I hope you don't have to labor this weekend, but if you do, I hope you don't have to labor hard and you're paid well.  

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