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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sharc's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, December 21st, 2016
11:11 pm
2016 & Self Discovery
2016 has been a unique year. My only employed has been Killer Woodson, myself. I've spent a lot of time on ancestry.com and researching who I am. Just a few years ago I didn't even know my great grandfather. I always wanted to know more about the Woodson name. Now I can trace my Woodson lineage back to to Dr. John Woodson, but that journey is only one of hundreds in my lineage.

I've discovered I'm not just Woodson. I'm Lobato. I'm Gill. I'm Young. I'm Neal. I'm Binkley. I'm Bynum. I'm Withers. And Taylor, Crowley, Sanchez, Pacheco, Munoz and so many many many more. Woodson is the only name passed down from male to male to male and so on.

There are so many stories. Right now I am trying to complete my research to every relative to the sixth generation. Once I do that, I'll keep on.

I completed a DNA test as well. It's no surprise that I'm 91% European and 6% Native American. Forty percent traces back directly to Great Britain. That's exciting, but knowing that I have a trace of African Bantu and Central and Eastern Asian is quite fascinating as well.

For Christmas I bought a test for my grandmother. I'll quickly know which side of the family some of these traits come from!

I've also learned that my direct Woodson descendants owned slaves. I've even seen their unmarked gravestones in far-to-reach cemeteries in Brush Creek, TN. I find it so fascinating and am very excited to share this with Liam once he is older.
Friday, December 11th, 2015
10:23 am
Liam & Christmas
It's been slow lately. Liam is growing by leaps and bounds and is amazing. I live for that little guy, but my business is slow getting off the ground. I'm getting there, but it takes time.

I've been reconnecting with old friends and it has been fun. I've seen Doug Sells, Jeff Powers, John Pryor, Butch Groves, Mike Foust, Brian Jones, and several others. It's good to be home!

Liam's going to get a grill and table and chairs for Christmas as well as a ball pit. He's spoiled but still a good boy. Lately he's been waking up and sleeping with his mother. I don't like it, but he won't stop crying until he's appeased. We've recently taught him to say, "I love you." It's precious.

Last weekend we went to see Santa Claus. He was sleepy, but his picture was cute. Ashley has a very pretty Christmas tree. It's all her doing, though. At least I'm almost done with shopping.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
4:28 pm
Rest in Peace Foxy Woodson 2011 - 2015
The hardest thing in life is to see a pet die. Like a friend recently said to me, the only thing an animal can do to hurt you is die. We lost sweet little Foxy girl last weekend (9/5/15) and I'm hurting a lot. It was sudden and we had no warnings and we are heart broken. THe world is a little less bright without his wonderful soul roaming it.

Yes we have two boy cats and a son but Foxy was our baby kitty. She was absolutely gorgeous and the sweetest thing you've ever met. She was the fun loving type who would make your day by hopping in your lap for a rub, or going to bed with you so she could get ten minutes of love before bedtime. There's a hole in our house right now because there will never be another Foxy.

They found Foxy at Ashley's work in Conyers and she brought her home, about 6 weeks after we adopted Phoenix. She was 1.8 pounds and too small for Lifeline to take in, and that gave her just enough time to wrap herself around my heart. She grew to a fluffy size and eventually began bullying the boys around.  Killer never wanted her and they never really bonded, but they used the same litter box and functioned as a 3 kitty colony.

Foxy also mewed like a shrill little bird, thus earning her the nickname Foxy Bird. And man she had a soft, loud purr. Her favorite pastimes were unrolling a toilet paper roll and eating Q-tips. Where ever she may be, I know she's chewing on one right now! If Foxy was happy to be loved on, you knew it because she had a wet nose that would drip. In bed this caused some gross moments, but over the last four years they became endearing.

This was such a shock and surprise. She went down inside of 12 hours. When I took her to the vet I knew something was wrong, but I never thought we'd lose her. I was lucky to come back with Ashley or she would have died without us. It was hard. We grieved all Labor Day weekend.  She may have not meant much to anyone else, but she meant the world to us and I know that some how in this wonderful universe we will see each other again, in some form, or power. I am good with that. Maybe she'll adopt me one day when I come back as a cat. Who knows? I know I'll never have a cat as beautiful as Foxy. She was a honey and she knew it too. Especially when we lived in the condo and other cats were outside. She'd prance and sashay in front of the windows like she was showing off for the other cats.

When we first adopted Foxy we had a running joke about her having a job. I had received a catalog from BudK and for about a year we pretended that Foxy was a telemarketer for BudK. "Thank you for calling BudK. This is Foxy. Meow may I help you?" She worked so hard she even won the employee of the month award, which I drew on our whiteboard on the refrigerator. This was probably the funniest inside joke Ashley and I had going in the condo. I even drew her with a headset. We would tell the boys they needed to get a job like their sister.

RIP Foxy WoodsonI'll also miss her 2am howls at the outside window, alerting us to other cats, but not much. And Ashley has vowed to never fix the blinds she broke even though it drove her insane when she did it. I keep looking around the house thinking I'll catch a glimpse of her, but it's just me.

Meanwhile Phoenix looked for Foxy for several days. He would even lay in her special spots, waiting for her. He is getting a lot better and  has really bonded with Killer as of late.  Foxy was always a lttle bit of an outsider - the female who didn't take any bullshit from the boys. When she hissed at you, she meant business. She never hissed at a human, but she didn't mind letting Phe or Killer have it.

It's been over a week and I can't believe she's gone. Charlie was old and sick when I put him down. Most of our other dogs disappeared or died. Foxy is the first cat that died on my watch and it's tougher because we were so much closer.

We like the dynamic that the two boys have now so I'm not sure when we'll get a third cat, but it will happen one day, and it will be a female kitten on honor of Foxy. I'm a cat lover and part of the reason is because of wonderful cats like Foxy.

I also found out the Blackie disappeared from her feral colony last week. I can hope that someone adopted that sweet little girl cat, but I'm a pessimist.

Rest in peace sweet Foxy! I'll see you again one day my furry friend! Goodbye for now, but not forever!
Thursday, August 6th, 2015
11:33 pm
Making Lemonade out of Lemons!
I don't think I would have ever done it on my own. Oh, I've talked about it for years, but the need for a steady job and salary kept me from jumping off the  cliff of entrepreneurs.

So I've interviewed in Nashville, and almost took a job, but since we learned the news about my job position I have focused on building my own business. I may not make as much at first, but my workload is already steadily increasing! I just secured a big job today that will keep me busy.

In order to make $100k I'd have to work a 40-hour work week at $48.08 per hour. My hourly rate is $70/hr so I'd only have to work 1,429 hours or 28 hours a week.  That may be dreaming, because if I could reach that point, I don't see myself quitting at 28 hours. Why not dream big and work a 50 hour work week and in 2600 hours in a year, make $182k.

Dare to dream. No one is going to hand it to you! Besides, I like stuff too much. I want more superhero statues, a pergola on our back deck, and a new diamond for Ashley's wedding band! Just savign back in preparation has been fun, to me. I'm not sure how much Ashley likes to save, but she's the momma, she can spend!
Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
8:38 pm
The Day That Almost Crushed Me
Today is one of those days you mark. I was hit in the gut today, blind sided by the CEO of our agency when she told me that she had sold the company to another agency and that they would no longer work with telecommuters. The good news is I have until Halloween before I'm completely out of a job. But the bad news is the Nashville market isn't like Atlanta. I'm at the high end of the salary stick here and that's not good.

I've been down this road before. I'm in a better position than I was so I'll get through. Losing your job is hard. It adds so much stress to your life, if you let it. But I'm putting on a positive attitude and I'm going to get a promotion and a raise out of this! It's the first time I've dealt with something like this where I have more than myself depending on me. Besides, Ashley and I budgeted tonight and we're in good shape, but we'll be on a spending freeze until I find a new job.

I'm also pissed because I feel like the CEO cut bait on herself. She stopped selling months ago. When you don't eat your own dog food, it hurts.

Oh well, I'll still give a full effort to the new company. It will be hard but they're givign me three months, so that's something. In the meantime, I'm going to re-certify my skills and keep plugging away.

I knew things were too good for life not to throw me a curve ball. Well, guess what, I'm gonna hit that curve out of the park!
Monday, July 20th, 2015
10:38 pm
My State of Comic Collecting - Summer 2015
Comic book collecting is the progenitor to some of my other collections - comic book art and comic book hero statues. I’m sad to say that I’ve been thoroughly underwhelmed with what my favorite companies have been producing for the last year.

Since my last update in the Fall of 2012 I have picked up a relatively small amount of SIlver Age comics; mostly some Amazing Spider-Man issues, the first X-men appearance of the Juggernaut and some latter Tales to Astonish issues (issues #50-80). I have purchased a few more hard cover books at steep discounts on the dcbservice.com website, and 95% of my current comic purchases are made online.

The move back to Tennessee has allowed me to find new comic book shops in the region, but my favorite stalwarts are still the Great Escape, Rick’s Comic City, and now Grand Adventures Comics in Murfreesboro. The latter is owned by an old high school friend.

Tor the past several months more time has been spent collecting Bowen statues than chasing certain comics. I’ve picked up two Juggernaut statues, a Flash and a Peter Porker Spider-Ham bust. I’ve also purchased original comic art from Olivier Coipel and Humberto Ramos from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.

Marvel has really laid an egg with their Secret Wars storyline that affects all titles. It’s hard to follow, incoherent, and most of the titles related to the storyline are garbage. Stan Lee is probably crying somewhere...all the way to the bank, but he’s still probably crying.

I’ve foregone the big crossovers as much as I can. I am skipping DC’s Convergence because I’m no longer interested. I'll wait for Batman and The Flash to return to continuity. I'm tip-toeing through Secret Wars as much as I can.

Comics I’m Currently Enjoying

Sandman Overture - Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller and this six-issue storylien revisits many favorite characters from the Endless family. I’m eagerly awaiting the final issue #6 to see how this storyline ends.

Amazing Spider-Man - Before the Secret Wars storyline the Spiderverse storyline was funa nd entertaining and gave us some great dynamics as it pulled all the Spider-people in all of the universes together to fight a singular battle. The jury is still out after one issue for Secret Wars Spiderverse storyline as well as Renew Your Vows.


Batman - They killed Batman?! Ok. I’m still reading. I’d love to see Damien take over as the youngest Batman and leave Bruce Wayne dead in this universe. It won’t happen, but I can hope. I also enjoy Scott Snyder’s writing. British artist  “Jock” has a style that reminds me of Sam Kieth, one of my faves.

The Strain: Night Eternal - I loved the books. I love the TV series and I love the painted covers . E.M. Gist is a wicked artist! It’s a shame this series will be over with issue #12 of this trilogy.

Spawn -  Al Simmons is back! I needed a new old comic to read and have found it in Spawn. I am also enjoying the art of Jonboy Myers. I may try to acquire a piece of this for my collection in the near future.

X-O Manowar - I’ve collected this series for almost 50 issues and I neither love nor hate it. Some storylines are quite boring and others surprise. I’m not a Robert Venditti fan, but this is written worse than his work on The Flash, which I’m also picking up, mainly because I love the TV series.

All New X-Men - Is this series over after the Secret Wars event? I think so, but that is fine. It has become a bland story and it has mischaracterized several supporting characters. If it’s not over, then I’m dropping the title from my hold box.

Uncanny Avengers - I had high hopes RIc Remender would continue with his storylines from Uncanny X-Force but this serires became a lunching board for Axis and some other crossovers. It was good, but this latest storyline has me on the verge of dropping it before it's canceled.

Comics I’ve Dropped Along the Way

The Walking Dead - This series felt like stale chips. I may pick up the TPBs later, but for now I’ll stick to the TV Series.

Others: Green Lantern, Thief of Thieves, X-Men Legacy, Wolverine & The X-Men, Batman & Robin

I anticipate reducing the number of monthlies to just a few over the next few months. I enjoy the free comics on Free Comic Day just as much as any.
Thursday, July 16th, 2015
11:35 pm
Dear Liam
I write these for you. No one knows how much time they have on this planet and I want you to have something that lives beyond me one day - my words. They may not make perfect sense, but they are mine and mine alone.

Hopefully these blog posts will help shed light on who your father is at different times of his life. Deep down, I haven't changed much. Your mother made me settle down. I'm still immature on the inside though, even at 42, but I can hide it welll when necessary. I lean a little to the left, but I'm pretty moderate. When I was younger I was an idealistic socialist. Then I got a job.

Many things have shaped my life and made me who I am and Im not sure all the blog posts in the world can truly explain who I am or what I've done, where I've been, but it's fun to recollect. Heck, one day I may have to read these stories in order to remember them. I think about stuff like that - memory recollection. Do our memories disappear or fade? Then why do we suddenly recall them when provided a icture or someone else tells us a story to help us remember them?

My favorite thing in the world is you. I don't need to write that down to let you know, but it doesn't hurt.  I'm so excited now that you are about to walk and talk. The sky is the limit. I love reading to you. I can't wait until you ask me to read your favorite bed time story We're going to have fun.

Another reason I write is because I'm overweight and I have  a history of heart disease on my father's side of the family. You'll have to watch out as well. I want to make sure that I can tell you as many fascinating things as possible because I'm an older father and suddenly  I know that I'm mortal. I'm not sure what my legacy will be to you yet. I just want to be there with you as you grow up and love you - hold your hand when you want me to, teach you how to swim, recommend a good scifi book or what to say to a pretty girl. On the pretty girl thing - compliments are ok, but the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing is a game. I didn't play it well when I was in my teens. I did better once I was in my mid-twenties. Neil Strauss published a book called "The Game" and it's about how to successfully pick up women. I HIGHLY recommend it. It will take your game from a D to a B+. But the key to all of that is to be confident!

OK, enough about that stuff. This is just one of those silly posts where I'm upstairs whiel you are asleep downstairs and I'm thinking about what a lucky guy I am to have a son like you.

Love,

Dad
2:04 pm
Foods I Don't Like & Pet Peeves
We all have pet peeves and things we don't like. I'm the same way. One of the most despised things in my life is tomatoes - I hate them. You would figure that after farming them as a child, I'd have some appreciation for them, but I don't. They are slimy. I do not like the way they taste or fell in my mouth. Even their seeds can ruin a burger for me. I like ketchup and tomato sauce because they aren't the raw tomatoes. I'm iffy on salsa.

Cucumbers are not enjoyable to me either, but I can tolerate them if I have to eat them. Yes, my salads may be a bit plain, but that's fine with me. Give me lettuce, a little cheese, and throw in some dressing and I'll be fine. I do like pickles, though, but not directly on a burger.

I also don't particularly care for cantaloupe, grapefruit or spicy foods. I don't enjoy sweating while I eat. Hell, I'm not real sure I enjoy sweating ever, to be honest. Nashville may be known for hot chicken, but I wouldn't know, because I ain't eating none of that shit!

Guacamole used to be another food I didn't like but as I've gotten older I've learned to enjoy it. It started with me eating pieces of avocado in my sushi. Over time it has developed into a mild want for guacamole, especially if it's home made, on my Mexican foods. Speaking of Mexican, I have a hard time stomaching Taco Bell's "beef" if that's what you want to call it. It tastes like wood pulp half the time. The other half it tastes greasy and bland. It is Taco Bell, after all.

Beer is a good thing, but there's nothing worse than bad beer. I'm not a fan of American beers like Bud, Bud Lite, Miller Light, etc, but what I really don't like is a beer that is high in hops. I discovered several years ago when i was brewing my own beer that I didn't like hops, and I prefer wheat or witbiers. I'll drink just about anything - I'm not a snob, but between you and me, I don't like them. That said, I like Blue Moon and Shock Top as well as many German beers.

My greatest pet peeve is bad drivers. I lose my cool. If you are on your mobile phone, I lose my shit. My biggest gripe is people who are trying to beat the system or get ahead by driving in the median when there's a line of traffic. I want rip their head off and piss down their throat.  And then there's the driver who, when in traffic and they know another ane has to merge, won't let you over. I'm still steamed over the broad in the SUV who did that to me on I-40 East last week.

And while we're on the subject - I  also can't stand Ashley's back seat driving. She's not the world's greatest driver, but you'd think she was super safety girl when she rides with me. It makes me not want to drive and for years before Liam was born, I opted to just let her drive. We would joke that I must've had my license revoked. Luckily she's better than my mother's driving. I think she has her own blog dedicated to her driving deficiencies  though.

Jeans that are too tight are another pisser. Same for shirts. These usually go hand in hand after I've gained a few pounds. Nothing like a shirt on a 300 pound man that looks like skin in a weinie.  And skinny pants on dudes. I'll just expand this to hipsters. Yup, they've ruined my vision of Nashville. Keep you PBRs guys (see above rant on bad beer).

I also hate politicians, especially the far-right and far-left ones. I can't stand political discussions on Facebook because everyone believes they are the smartest person in the world.I take a combative role, regardless of whether I support it. Why not? Stir the pot! Make them hate me for a belief I may not even have!

Other things I don't like are typing errors, of which I have many and animal abusers. I  also don't like UConn, Georgia, Alabama, or Florida fans. I put them in the same category with animal absuers and terrorists.  It comes with the territory when you graduated from Tennessee and live in the middle of the state.. Go Vols!
 
Monday, July 13th, 2015
12:04 pm
Liam - Almost Nine Months!!
Liam at 6.5 monthsIt's hard to believe Liam is almost nine months old, but her is! He is such a good baby, I love doing anything for him. He's crawling and pulling up on everthing so he should be walking soon. It's truly amazing how much a baby changes your life.

I regularly get up at 6am to take care of him. Normally I'd hate being up so early but it's hard to be mean when he's smiling at you and playing. Last week before my business trip to Atlanta he was up at 4am, in the bed with Ashley. Without being prompted he reached up to me, grabbed me and kissed me. It was an a amazing feeling. Liam has a special way to denote his kisses, he make a big O with his mouth and that's his way of kissing you. It's precious. And when he says, "dada" it just melts me!

Ashley's brother's family came to visit us this past weekend and we had a great time. I wanted everything to be special since Ashley doesn't see then that often and Sophie and Hayden hadn't met Liam yet.  It was so cute to see the cousins playing together. Liam and Hayden wore matching outfits. We drove them to the Opryland Hotel Friday afternoon and they loved it. I wish they were closer, but they love the country life in Lynchburg and that makes sense.

This morning I took Liam to daycare as I always do on Mondays. Ashley first put him in the bed with me, then we played in the living room and I put the TV on the Baby Channel, and then I put him in his bounce before taking a quick shower. He bounces so violently it's hilarious. He'll outgrow that thing in no time, much to our chagrin.

Part of me wishes he'd stay a baby forever. I was having a business lunch with my CEO at Big Drum and a client, and they both have children who have graduated high school.  They say it will be gone before you know it. I think about parents and how I never truly knew how much they ove me until Liam was born and now it all makes sense. It never occurred to me that "baby Liam" is a short short time and we better enjoy ever second of it. He's already so big and he's changing every day. I'm amazed at how quickly and what he learns from us.

I don't care what he wants to do in life, as long as he's happy and as a parent I'm going to make sure he has every opportunity to be just that! All those "dreams" and ideas I had before are gone. I want him to be himself and do what HE wants, not what I project on to him. He ponders a lot of things already so I think he's going to be pretty sharp. A parent can hope, at least!

Once Ashley is out of school in November we are going to try for a second child. I want Liam to have a sibling - something I never had but if he doesn't then we're ok with that outcome as well. As an only child I think it's important and it's a good balance. I see how Sophie and Hayden are together and I believe it teaches sharing better than anything youcan do for an only child.  
Monday, July 6th, 2015
10:49 pm
Collecting Smurfs
When I was about seven years old I went over to my friend MIckey Ethridge’s home for a birthday party. While I was in his house, I was allowed in his older sister’s room. I was fascinated by these little blue creatures that lived in a mushroom house that she had. This was my first experience with smurfs and over 35 years later, I’m still collecting them.
The Smurfs cartoon wouldn’t come on NBC for another year, but once it did and Smurfs hit America, they became my hobby. They were cheap enough that my other would buy one any time we were out, and my aunts contributed a lot of my collection. When Uncle Gerry and Aunt Pat moved to Germany while he was in the Army, I received smurfs from them all the time; some were even in German. The smurfs originated as a comic out of the Netherlands. The company that made Smurfs, Schleich, was German.

I collected regular smurfs and super smurfs and all of the buildings and cottages. Once year my parents even bought me the Smurf Windmill. I had so many smurfs we put up special shelves in my bedroom to house them. I had over 100.  I collected everything as a kid - comics, sports cards, books, wrestling memorabilia, records, Star Wars and G.I. Joe action figures and smurfs, but my smurf collection was the most unique.

Our house burned down when I was thirteen and it taught me a valuable lesson about material things - they are just that. They can easily be replaced. They are for personal enjoyment but part of me has been and always be a collector of things. I put a much higher value on pictures now than before, but due to this digital age, almost everything is recorded. I have more pictures of Liam after 6 months than I have of the first 25 years of my life.

My roommate Matt Kelsey introduced me to ebay somewhere around 2000. he collected Transformers and had found a lot online. I began to buy a handful of vintage smurfs here and there, but as I was young and still moving around, I had no where to really display them and I wasn’t as interested.

Fast forward to this year. After we bought our home, I bought a nice glass display case at an auction for next-to nothing.Once we moved it into the rec room, I discovered I didn’t have that much to display in my “special display case” and that’s when I began to pull all of my smurfs out of their storage boxes.
I’ve dedicated two shelves of five to Smurfs and I’ve even acquired the Smurf windmill as well as the “angry smurf” that my family dubbed a racial slur 35 years ago. There’s so much information out there about smurfs now that I almost feel overwhelmed. But now my collection has purpose and focus. I know the difference in the $2 smurf and the $150 smurf.

Liam may not give a care about these smurfs, but they’ll be his, or his brother or sisters one day. I hope that we can make this a family collection, or that one day I may have to use the entire display just for my smurf collection. The problem is smurf collecting gets to compete with additional collections I now have: original comic book art, super hero statues,  and firearms, but now I know what the “golden grails” of smurf collectors.
I now know how to look for muster, or proof, smurfs as well as certain variations. I also know to look for fakes! My current goal is to collect all of the historical smurfs that were released in 1984. There are six and each one is around $25 each. That’s easier than a $1500 original comic page, or an $500 statue. Ashley already thinks my collecting is out of hand.
Maybe when the new animated Smurfs movie comes out in a couple years it will help drive values up, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ll still continue to collect smurfs as long as I can.


Current Mood: smurfy
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
10:09 am
Clifford Dingle - 3/25/1928 to 5/31/2015
If someone tells you that their step grandfather passed away, you probably wouldn't give it another thought. After all that person wasn't a real relative. I would disagree. On May 30 "Pop" passed away. He was my grandmother's husband and the only man I'd prefer to ever call a grandfather to me. He wasn't perfect, not by a long shot, but he was a good Christ-loving man who had a big heart.Clifford married my MeMa when I was very little and moved in to her home which was my second-home as a youngster. As the first grand child, I spent many nights at MeMa's home. Her phone number was the first that I memorized, something that is practically forgotten in today's cyber age of mobile phones.

One day I might write about Clifford's misgivings, but not today. The family was always torn over Clifford. But he did his best by Mema and was known for his love of woodworking. When I was in college he built me a solid oak desk that was gorgeous. The only problem was that it was nearly immovable and for a young man in his twenties, that posed some major issues.

I'll always associate an old brown truck with Clifford. It was the one he drove the longest, while I was still a kid. Clifford also bought me my first wallet, a silver vinyl Battlestar Galactica wallet that was about 2 sizes too big, but it was my first!

I'm glad Clifford got a chance to meet Liam, and Guy, and his great grand daughter by blood, Brooklyn. The last time I saw him was at our family get-together at Christmas, but I did call him about 6 weeks ago when I found out he had cancer and wished him well. We weren't as close as some of my other cousins, but he knew I cared.

Pop treated me like his own. In fact, he treated me better than either one of my blood relative grand fathers. He may have not been wealthy, but he was a good soul. He was very active in their church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and maybe for that ole St. Pete was waiting for him at the pearly gates earlier this week. I will be a pall bearer at his funeral tomorrow and we will celebrate his life and be there to console my MeMa who loved him dearly. I knew him much differently than others, but he was loved by his congregation, a grandfather to everyone.


Thank you Pop and God rest your soul,

Brandon

Current Mood: reflective
Saturday, May 30th, 2015
11:06 pm
Collecting Comic Book Art vs. Comic Books
  Lately we've had a lot of upheaval and change in our lives. We're doing it for Liam, but it has been so much fun to decorate my office and the upstairs rec room. I finally have the space to organize and place my comic books together. My "collector's closet" consists of a gun safe and all my collectibles over the years. Now, mind you, many aren't worth much, but all have a story. I have coins, comics, guns, sports cards, smurfs, CDs, books and trinkets from all over.

The other night while we were out, Rob said something to me that rang true and I've been thinking about it since he said it. "Barney, there are no more collectibles in the world. We have ebay to thank for that."  Well no more collectibles that will appreciate like those items pre-80's.  The 80's and 90's ruined sports card and comic book collecting due to so many speculators flooding the market. As a kid I didn't understand this. I always figured my comic collection would pay for my kid's education one day.


While that's still possible, it's highly doubtful. I'm fine with that because I read current comics because I enjoy them, not because I feel the need to collect them. If I want something to retain its value or increase, I will buy the inked original comic book art. Although it won't appreciate it as much as my Disney stock, it won't lose value either, and it looks amazing! To go with a page of X-men by Salvador LaRocca, I have also purchased pages of Amazing Spider-man by Humberto Ramos and Olivier Coipel. Coipel's page is of several Spider-men from the Spiderverse and it KICKS ASS. All of these required a substantial investment, including the framing, etc, but now that I have them in my office, I think there's too much black and white.

I've commissioned one of the best comic artist/painters in the business, Esad Ribic,  to paint Marvel's Apocalypse, my favorite villain. That should add a new depth to the office. I may never own one of his original painted covers but I can have that quality in my office. Once I acquire this, the only other artist from which I would truly like an original is my all-time favorite Sam Kieth. I've recently discovered he does commissions as well, and he a most unique style for HUlk that I want on my walls.

Back to Rob, and his comment. Rob spends a lot more on his art than I do, but that's another conversation. He's also in a much different tax bracket than myself. But why buy a print or copy when you can own the ORIGINAL. I agree but I have to spend within my budget. Maybe one day I'll own a Todd McFarlane Amazing Spider-man page. Maybe not, but I can always dream!
Sunday, May 24th, 2015
11:03 pm
Back To Tennessee
We did it! Ashley and I moved back to Tennessee! She took a new position at RockTenn and I am working remotely. We sold the condo and bought a new home in Lebanon in a new subdivision called Hearthstone. Ashley's job is two minutes away, and the house is about 4 miles from Liam's daycare.

It's wonderful. I see someone I haven't seen in 15+ years at elast once or twice a week. All of my fraternity brothers live in the Nashville area as well,  and I'm so much more active.  Liam will get to grow up in the same county where I grew up, and we have family that can help. Mom watched Liam last night while Ash & I went out with Rob Arreola and his wife Melissa.

Our condo sold in eight days once we put it on the market. When I bought the condo in 2007 I bought it for $145k. It sold for $131.5k. We had to take $7k to the closing, but you can't truly put a monetary figure on quality of life and happiness. This move cost a lot at every angle, but it has been our goal ever since we married and knew we wanted children. We cashed out some of our 401k to make this happen, but our home is beautiful and we see ourselves growing old here, raising a family.

I have my own office upstairs in our house and I have a special closet for all of my collectibles. We even bought a gun safe so we can keep the firearms safe and away from Liam.  It will take a while to completely furnish the house, but we are getting it done and having fun doing it. Having your own garage is awesome, especially after not having one for almost my entire adult life.

Growing up, I hated mowing the yard. It was one reason I wanted a condo when I bought in Atlanta. But this little yard is cathartic and I enjoy taking care of it. The  lawn has been mown twice already and I have watered it regularly during our mini-drought. The lawn has already been watered, seeded, reseeded, and fertilized in the three weeks we've been here and I'm slowly filling the garage with useful tools.

Ashley has focused her efforts n decorating the downstairs while the upstairs is my domain. It will take a while to do the rec room the way I want, but we'll get there, eventually.

I had to make a hard personal decision about the move, though. I had planned to bring Tennessee and Blackie with me to Lebanon, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it would be a bad decision. Ferals don't do well in new environments and they are safe at McGill Park. I also found a wonderful woman who has also been caring for the animals. Ultimately I gave her their cat house and left the colony there. It was hard, but the whole reason I took care of this cats was because no one else was. Now they have a wonderful crazy cat lady mom named Lori looking after them, as well as about 4 other residents. So far our threee kitties love the new house. Foxy has a black and white friend that comes to the back door at night.  I might have to call that one "Georgia."

All in all, life is good!




Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
11:38 pm
Early Childhood Memories of Comic Books
How far back do you remember?

My oldest memories go back to when I was three or four. How do I know? By the comics books I had and what my Dad read to me. I remember!  Most of my childhood memories revolve around comic books. Many of my later memories also recall where I was when I picked up a certain comic book. Right or wrong, I can tell you where I was when I received The Incredible Hulk #300. There’s also no question in my mind from where Web of Spider-man #1 came. I also know that most of my early G.I.Joe comics came from Shiloh Drug Store in Shiloh Plaza.

Show me an old back issue and it will usually trigger a memory of where I was when I purchased it the first time. Most of these memories revolve around the gas stations and drug stores that carried the comic book racks when I was a kid.

I’m not sure how old I was when I received my first comic book but I have learned that a lot of my first comics books were printed before I was born. They could have been hand-me-downs, but from whom? I am still unclear on that but I think Uncle Clyde was involved somehow, or cousin Cary or Kevin.
I’ve re-purchased a lot of the original comics I owned since our house burned down in 1987. All of my memories pertain to the first time I bought the comic. I don’t have all of them, but the good ones are in my collection.

Marvel dominated my latter years as far as collecting is concerned, but  I had a lot of early DC comics from the 70’s thanks to the Super friends cartoon. As I grew up in the mid-eighties, my first love was G.I.Joe. Secret Wars helped change that.

The first DC comic book I remember is Superman #335, with Mister Mxyplyzyk. There were others but I was too young to remember them. They were mostly Justice League and Batman.  Back then I had more DC comics than Marvel, but that would change shortly. I do remember Uncle Clyde buying me a Batman comic at Nanny Woodsons one time. It featured Man-Bat and was scary as shit for a little kid.

The first Spider-Man comic I remember was ASM #133, which I remember my father reading to me in our living room. It featured the Molten Man. That comic was published in June 1974, so I don’t know how long I had the comic before Dad read it to me.

Uncle Clyde also brought me some Incredible Hulk comics. My very first was disappointing. It was a Doc Samson solo story and I couldn’t understand why my Hulk comic didn’t have the Hulk! Incredible Hulk #218 from December 1977. This was around the time that the Hulk TV show (1978) was on and I wanted to be the Hulk...or Aquaman.

When my parents drove to Colorado with Mema and myself I was little, about 4 or 5. I remember they bought me a stack of comics. Some were Star Wars, which I was too young to appreciate yet. One of them was Amazing Spider-man #181. I was four and a half. In that stack I also had ASM #113 which was published the year before I was born, in October 1972, so I have no idea where that comic came from. Another Star Wars note about that trip - my mother gave me my first two Star Wars figure in a motel on the way out to Colorado. R2D2 and C3P0 would soon become my favorites.

Some of the comics I collected were real duds. I loved Rom, Spaceknight and the Savage She-Hulk. For She-Hulk, I would ride with Dad to the dump and if I had been good, he would let me buy a Slush Puppy and a comic. That’s where I would pick up the She-Hulk comics. The first issue I picked up was issue #3 (April 1980). I also picked up issues of The Handbook of the Marvel Universe and a few Spider-Woman comics. Another cruddy book  I loved was Dazzler.  See the female hero trend, here? I just noticed it for the first time. Add that with my Wonder woman fixation and this is probably telling about me.

When I was in first grade my father would pick me up from daycare on his motorcycle. We’d stop at SDI mart for a quart of beer and I’d get a comc which he would slide in his jacket and give to me once we were home. Dad will never know how much I enjoyed doing that. He would later tell me he was scared to death to have me riding on that motorcycle with him.

1984 was a big year for me and my comic collecting. I spent most of the year a ten-year-old. That August my parents took me to Knoxville to see the Jacksons Victory Tour. On the way there, we stopped at a gas station where i picked up G.I.Joe #26 - it was all about the story of Snake Eyes and it bound me to the comic for many years after that. I might not have enough money for two comics but the first comic I always bought was G.I.Joe.
In Mount Juliet there was “The Country Store” which had adult nudie magazines and comic books. I remember finding my first Hobgoblin issue, Amazing Spider-Man #250 and buying it there because the front cover actually tells you to steal it. In the top left, the Hobgoblin says, “It’s great! Steal It!” It was only $.60.

The first time I saw Spider-Man in his black outfit was just a few months later when we were in my father’s blue Mazda B2000 Sundowner truck. Mom and Dad were going to the lawyers office in order to sign paperwork to buy the plot next door to our house. Amazing Spider-man #253, from June 1984, was purchased at a gas station up the street from Mema’s house in my parents effort to keep me busy while they did the adult stuff.

Chris Atwood and I were forever changed one Friday night at Shiloh Drug Store when one of the kids working there told us about The Great Escape, a store that sold only comics books and sports cards. We couldn’t believe it! Once I found that store, my life changed drastically. Here I am 41 years old and usually every time I go back to Nashville for Christmas, I stop in their Madison store and buy something. I didn’t start bagging and boarding my comics until  around this time.

I was sick at home one evening in October 1984 with the chicken pox when Billie Belew brought me some comic books. One of those gems happened to be Incredible Hulk #300. I was hooked after this, and Mike Mignola’s Crossroads storyline immediately following this issue is one of my all-time favorite runs of comics.

I’ve already started collecting comics for Liam, mostly the free comic book day comics, but ones he can understand. I tried to read him and Batman & Scooby Doo adventures comic yesterday. He’s 3 months. I can’t start him too young, can I? I hope he likes comics. One day all mine will probably be his.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
3:00 pm
The Homemade Street Luge Incident
Jeremy and I had been drinking profusely one night in Knoxville when I was a junior and we decided to go to a block party in the Fort hosted by Mike Roth’s brother John. The entire street was blocked because everyone was partying in the street.


These little scrawny guys were hopping on a wooden cross-like device and riding it to the stop sign about 75 yards down the street. They probably didn’t get over 20 mph.  John said it was a street luge…not just a street luge but a homemade street luge.  My drunk ass decided that I wanted to do that.  So my 230 pound frame hopped on the homemade street luge with no instructions or training and it was on.


Now, I didn’t go to school for physics or math, but I was pretty damned sure when I passed the stop sign that I was doing 30 mph. I wasn’t worried, yet. I still had about a quarter mile until the road dead ended into the main road, a four-lane highway. I had gained too much momentum that I couldn’t just “stop” the street luge. Fear was beginning to creep into the back of my mind.


No one had ridden as far as I had, nor had they built up the speeds to which I was on the brink. Once the luge began to descend down the declination of the street the shit really hit the fan. The street luge wasn’t built to handle these speeds, especially not with someone as big as I was and it began to wobble. Every time it teetered, it burned my fingernails into the pavement.


There was only 125 yards left to bail out or I was probably going to be run over in Cumberland Avenue. At the last second I made the executive decision to bail. As I rolled down the pavement, I managed to wrap myself underneath a Jeep Wrangler and come to a complete stop. The street luge broke in half and went in two different directions.


Most of my fingernails were burned off and I had road rash all over my body. The alcohol in my system thinned my blood allowing it to pour down my arms, and drip off my nubs. I slowly regained enough wits to get up and I found the pieces of the street luge and began the embarrassing walk back up the street to the party, who had just witnessed the whole thing.


It took me a while to make it back to the party. Luckily no one had seen my wipeout since it occurred so far away that no one bothered to conitnue watching.


A couple of the scrawny guys came running up to me. "Dude, that was AWESOME!"


The other guy noticed was the broken street luge. “Aww man, you broke the street luge,” he whined.


“Street luge?” I asked as I held up my bloody nubs. “Fuck your goddamned street luge.” The first scrawny dude then threw up on the spot.


I still have the scar on my left pinky finger, as a reminder of the stupid, drunk shit I did in college. 
1:04 pm
New Big Drum Blog Post: Defining An Assisted Conversion
My third blog post for Big Drum has posted today.  You can read it at https://bigdrum.io/blog/defining-assisted-conversions.
Monday, January 26th, 2015
10:34 am
College Hang-outs: Out of Bounds & Rocky Top Market
My favorite watering hole while at UT was a hole-in-the-wall called Out of Bounds. It was on the southeastern side of the Strip, where all the bars and restaurants are located and was where we wasted many hours throwing darts and drinking cheap beer.

The place was owned by a pig-headed fat old man named Hugh and his Vietnamese wife name Pawn. Hugh was a blow-hard but he treated us right for the most part because we weren’t unruly and spent a lot of money in the place. One of my closest friends, Jeremy Williams,  loved to play darts and introduced me to the game at Out of Bounds.

Out of Bounds was also notorious for selling booze to underage students, so it thrived in the college atmosphere. Since the walkway into Out of Bounds was about 30 yards, you could see the cops walking in a mile away and it gave everyone time to either drink your drink or had it to someone 21 and over.
We even played in a traveling darts league with Out of Bounds as our home location one season. it was fun, but Jeremy carried our team. I was hot and cold when it came to darts. Some nights I was on, some nights at I was off. Jeremy called me the Cris Carter of 16’s because that was the one number on the board I could hit just like all Carter could do was catch touchdowns.

We were friends with all of the bartenders - Brant, Al, and Janie, a white-trash hottie who was sweet as could be but had more issues than the Knoxville News-Sentinel. The bouncers came and went, but none of them were worth a shit. We usually had to pick up their slack for them.

One night while we were throwing darts the shit hit the fan behind us. The bouncers were losing control of a mini-brawl and Hugh decided to pepper spray EVERYONE. That’s when things took a turn for the worse. Jeremy and I continued to throw darts - it wasn’t OUR fight, after all. Finally Hugh yelled, “Barney! Help!” so I casually put my darts down and walked over to the door and began to grab the fighters by the scruff of their neck and started throwing people out one at a time. By the time I was done, I had thrown about 5 people out and single-handedly broken up the fight with the bouncers, never throwing a punch or being punched. It was one of the most graceful fight break-ups one has ever seen.We locked the front door for about 3 minutes to let things settle down and people disperse. tIt didn't take long for things to return to normal, except for  Hugh’s pepper spray had a residual, ungodly smell taste throughout the building.

I walked back over to where Jeremy was thoriwng darts. he had finished my game for me while I was occupied. Hugh didn’t charge us for drinks that night, but after about 20 minutes had passed one of the new bouncers whom I didn’t know walked over and “thanked me.”

“Yeah, thanks for your help. We had it under wraps when you came over.” Jeremy just busted out laughing.

“By under wraps do you mean you were letting them wail on you until they wore out and left?”


Al was one of our favorite bartenders/bouncers. He was a small red-headed guy with thick glasses who you could aggravate easily, especially if you beat his at darts. One night he was bouncing and throwing darts at the same time. A ruckus had started on the other side  so he ran over to the fight, broke it up,  threw two idiots out and was back for his turn at darts before anyone had missed him.

Things weren’t always copacetic at Out of Bounds. One night while I was drunk Hugh offended me after hours. My drunk ass ended up in the middle of the Strip at 4am mooning Hugh while telling him to kiss my ass. Like most drunk cases I have no earthly remembrance of what he said, but that earned me a 1-month ban from the location.
The food at Out of Bounds was surprisingly delicious. Pawn made a form of shrimp toast on an English muffin, with peanut butter sauce that was amazing. To this day, I’ve never eaten better shrimp toast than what she made.

On another night as I was getting close to graduating in late ‘97 I witnessed a younger guy disrespecting his girlfriend. Being the genltman that I was, I asked the girl if she was ok. The half-pint jackass got up in my face, bowed-up like he wanted some. What he didn’t realize was I had about 10-12 fraternity brothers sitting around me and it was a fraternity drinking night. I knew he was at a decided disadvantage and I didn’t want to really start anything with the guy. I just wanted him to respect his woman more than he had shown.

After he had run his mouth to me near the end of the second minute, I bent over and whispered in his ear, “Dude, I shit bigger than you.”


The guy, who had a couple friends with him, thought they had his back. "Where are YOUR friends?" he kept asking, to which I chuckled.
"Look around the room," I said. "I then pointed out all of my fraternity brothers. "Are you sure you still want to go through with this?" He immediately backed down, but Hugh had already seen what had transpired, walked over and asked me if everything was ok.


"Everything is good, Hugh," I said. To be safe Hugh threw the douchebag out anyway and bought me a pitcher of beer.

Many nights we would shut down Out of Bounds and then go to Rocky Top Market, a Shell station where Birdie and Fluffy worked. Since Knoxville wouldn’t allow the sale of alcohol after 3am, we would call ahead and have them set aside a 12-pack for us and ring it up so we could pay when we came in. They also served the world’s greatest chicken sandwich, the “Rooster,” which I lived off of for about 3 years. At some point Birdie and Fluffy just stopped charging us for the food, making it a weird-yet-fun dynamic. Most of our friends didn’t believe us so we’d bring them with us and order their food for them and still get it free.

Since we were such regulars, everyone from the homeless people (Vincent, the Astro-man) to the cops knew us. May nights if we were too drunk to stagger three blocks back to the fraternity house we’d get the cops to drive us home. It would always freak out our fraternity brothers to see a cop car with it’s lights on, drive the wrong way up a one-way street to stop and let us out while we carried a twelve-pack of beer, but it happened semi-regularly. We felt like we owned the town when that happened. It also helped further our legend around the fraternity house.

One night, Rob, Jeremy and I  stumbled home to the fraternity house where someone had left a football on our lawn. We knew that the penalty for a broken window in the house was a $5 fine and you had to replace the window, so we agreed to take turns throwing the football at our veranda and whoever broke the first window, the other two would pay the fine and replace.

Unfortunately a new campus cop on a bicycle happened to pedal by while we were missing horribly with the football. He pulled up and told us to stop. We asked why? He then wanted to see our IDs. We pointed out that we lived there and it was our house and we had every right to knock a window of our house if we wanted.
it was during this fracas that John, aka Ookla opened up the door to the house and started yelling for us to come inside. In unison the three of us yelled back, “Fuck you Ookla,” and continued to argue with the cop.

Once the cop determined that we indeed did live at the house and were not breaking any laws, he had to leave us alone, but he did not like it one bit. Nor did we make his life easy by arguing with him. If it was our house and we lived there then we had the RIGHT to break the window if we wanted. After all we would have to replace it. We did make an executive decision once he left to NOT break a window. It was more about our lack of precision and aim and need to retrieve the football than the cop or fraternity brothers urging us not to.

Out of Bounds and Rocky Top Market were our second homes. During my last semester of school I didn’t go out as much because I was busy studying and trying to graduate. Out of Bounds went out of business a few years after I graduated but Rocky Top Market is still operating today. I had some great and not-so-great times there with my friends. Out of Bounds was my version of Cheers and Rocky Top Market was my kitchen. And you just never knew what might happen at either one.
Saturday, January 24th, 2015
11:52 pm
West Palm Beach Spring Break '95
"Stay at my aunt's place in West Palm Beach," Weasel said. "She has plenty of booze. It's free!"

Brent Seelmeyer is a fraternity brother and his wealthy aunt lived on the PGA National Resort in West Palm Beach, Florida. The mere mention of a free place to stay and free booze was enough to get at least eight of us down there for a week of R&R. When you are in college, your prepetually broke, so this was a cost-efficient alternative to Panama City Beach or Daytona.

I chose to drive my Miata down with Jeff Hickey, another fraternity brother while the rest took off in two other vehicles. This was a big mistake. While driving through Chattanooga I rear-ended a turkey truck and destroyed the front of my vehicle. We had an external CD player and Jeff was messing with it and wouldn't stop. When I looked down to fix it,  I hit the back-end of a large truck carrying a couple live turkeys. The truck was uninjured. My Miata was fucked.  I had to duct tape the head lights up so they would work.  We then managed to turn an 8-hour trip into 12 hours. We couldn't wait to get out of the car!

Once we arrived we immediately went inside the house and started drinking from the booze.  Weasel’s tune had changed, though. He had gone from, “drink! drink! drink!” to “Are you gonna replace that?!”  The house was gorgeous and immaculate and not as place where our sorry asses needed to stay. It was so nice that the homeowners association called to inform Brent that the truck Alex had driven could not be parked in front of the house. We had to place it in the garage! Brent had gone from inviting brother to crazy house keeper. In hindsight, he was doing the right thing or else we would have trashed his aunt's place, but we reneted the change.

We were drunk hoodlums unloosed on a place unbefitting our unruly kind and we spent most of the week at the beach, or in Miami or dodging Seelmeyer’s demands that we restock the booze. We were horrible house guests. One night I got so drunk I was drinking (free) rum straight from the handle.  I even borrowed Brent's Vitalogy CD without asking and lost it, all the the span of one evening.

Some of the guys event went to the Florida keys for a day or two while the rest of us stayed local. The problem was the PGA NAtional Course and Resort was mostly for retirees and rich folk.  One night we out to a West Palm Beach Irish bar and a n adjacent club and Alex managed to purchase acid and lose it in a fifteen minute span. It was probably for the best, but I remember being totally pissed! Plus, I was a broke college kid so we were counting every dollar we had.

spirng-break
In the middle of the week I had gotten piss drunk one afternoon and had found a pink girl’s bicycle. I have no idea where I proliferated the bicycle. It just appeared before my drunk ass. Now I have never been known for my riding prowess, but on this particular day I was trying to channel my inner Evil Kinevil. However,  everyone knows that alcohol and riding pink bicycles do not mix. I had a pure redneck moment with my “Hey ya’ll watch this” moves.
Adam was on a regular bike and he says he had no idea what I had planned. I had told them to watch then proceeded to get up some speed and did a front launch on a manhole cover on my face, with the bike landing on top of me. I literally ripped an inch of flesh under my eye and had cut marks all over my arms and chest.

I staggered back to the house, leaving a trail of blood as it dripped down my elbows. My blood was really thing from all of the booze I had been drinking so it was pouring out of me.  I walked in, not saying a word to anyone in the house. Everyone had a look of shock on their face. I walked straight into the shower where I washed blood off for fifteen minutes.

There was no hiding that I was physically fucked up. Once I  had sobered up, I bought the largest pair of sunglasses I could find to hide my facial gash and I started wearing long-sleeve shirts. But I never stopped partying, even with Brent being completely anal about his aunt’s place.

When we left we did pitch in a little. I think we replaced top-shelf liquor with Natural Light and Old Granddad. We stopped on the way back in Daytona Beach and took photos with the busted Miata on the beach. It was pathetic.

Insurance covered the car, but I had to drive it to Nashville from Daytona and catch a ride from Nashville to Knoxville with another fraternity brother. We were never asked back to Weasel’s aunt’s home. I know why.  And somewhere a little girl grew up without her pink bicycle. I know that why as well.
Sunday, January 18th, 2015
11:09 pm
Helping The Ferals
Now that I'm 41 my life perspective has changed a lot. It's funny what life events shape the rest of your life. This afternoon I had the most wonderful time with my wife watching five feral cats eat and play with each other. Besides the time I spent with Liam, it's the highlight of my weekend. We've been taking care of these five ferals for over seven months even though we have three indoor kitties. You wouldn't be wrong if you called me crazy cat guy but I accepted that moniker months ago.


Tennessee inspects his new cathouseKiller changed my life after I punched my one-way ticket to hell with the pet rabbit. Time won't allow me to go back and change what happened, but I've made it my focus to help those animals in which I can make a difference. These five ferals first came to our condo patio last summer. The world may not see a difference, but it makes a world of difference to these cats.


It began innocently enough. A hungry cat showed up on our patio and I fed it a bowl of food. Two days laters another showed up. These were the kittens parents. As we continued to feed them, eventually the five kittens appeared. We didn't know how many there were for a while. Two look so similar you have to know the differences.

Ashley and I were about five months pregnant with Liam, and with three cats indoor, adoption was never an option. I began to look into the Catlanta Trap-Neuter-Release program through Lifeline Animal Project and discovered that they would neuter/spay the animals for free...if I trapped them.

The TNR program informed me that they had no extra traps so after a quick visit to ebay, I purchased two feral animal traps. The process was simple and I had trapped my first two within 45 seconds of laying the traps out on the patio. In my mind, the process was as simple as the kittens would be spayed/neutered and I would release them once we returned home, but the vet techs informed me I had to watch the kitties for three days. So, I took them to work with me where my office smelled like a hamster cage for next two days.

And then I did it again the next week. I trapped a total of four. The first two were a male and female. The all-black female we dubbed Blackie for lack of a better name. The male was a tuxedo cat which I named Tennessee after the old cartoon penguin from the 60's. Eventually each one earned a nickname - Stormy, Pepper and the one I couldn't catch, Wiley, not because he was a wily one to catch but because he had wily ear hair. He/she is also the most beautiful.

Over the summer days the cats and I began a ritual where I would put food out for them in the mornings, and a bit more in the afternoons. Over time Tennessee and Blackie because my daily regulars, knowing my schedule as much as I knew theirs. Blackie would only get within a few yards of me, but Tennessee became less and less fearful with each passing day. Eventually Tennessee allowed me to pet him. This occurred one morning after about 3 months. Within three days he was rolling on his back, letting me rub his belly.

Tennessee is the only one who will let me pet him, but he has become my buddy. Tennessee and I spend extra time on the patio when he's out there. Special trips are made outside in the middle of the night to "check on him." It's been a slow but rewarding process which is very different than with our indoor cats. They were friendly from day one. The feral cats require that I work with them almost each and every day.

Once the winter came, I began to worry about the welfare of the cats so I bought them a doghouse to replace the cardboard shelter I had put together. With the nice insulated pine dogcathouse, the patio has been transformed into feral cat central. We even get random additional ferals and strays which I look out for, if only to make sure they aren't sick or a danger to my feral five.

There are a few perks - no more squirrel issues, and no rodents and someone usually always greets me when I come in from work. We also have fewer insects, but it gives me a purpose. Taking care of them is a bit of a chore, but it's rewarding. There's no denying that I'm emotionally attached and if something were to happen to one of the cats, I'd be devastated, but I know the life of a feral is not easy and it's possible, so I make theirs as fun and enjoyable as I can. So far, so good.

Since we're not very active in our community, it's also another way to show Liam you can give back and make a difference. If we had more time we'd volunteer more regularly with Lifeline. Once Liam is older, I plan to do something like that. I think it is important to teach your children the value of life.

We've already discussed what might happen once we move. Some of the ferals may not be "feral" any more. I am taking Tennessee and Blackie with us where ever we move, and will build them a nice area in our garage, complete with cat door. Ashley and I have also discussed the animals with my neighbors who enjoy them as well so there is a contingency in place.

All of this rang special to me tonight when Ashley got involved, putting fresh wet cat food out for all of the cats. Normally they stream in at two at a time during the day, but tonight all five were competing for a turn at the wet food. So we filled up another bowl, and watched as they played and carried on. It did my heart good to know that they've had a good life so far and while I may never be able to pet all of them, that they have a benefactor who will take care of them if they are sick or injured. Helping them has also eased my soul regarding the rabbit. I don't know if my karma debt is paid in full, but I'm happy to do it.

Current Mood: satisfied
Friday, January 16th, 2015
4:13 pm
What Would I Tell a 12 year old Brandon?
People often wish they could go back in time and change things in their past. I’m no different than anyone else. Everyone has a story they’d like to re-write. But if you could make one change, how far would you go?

I already catch myself wanting to live my life through Liam’s. I want him to love sports and collect comics and coins and love everything that I have loved. I also want him to do the things I never did like learn to play the piano or speak Spanish before he’s in school. I want to maximize his opportunities in life, just like my parents maximized mine compared to their lives. I also just want him to be happy.

Did I capitalize on all the opportunities afforded me in life? Hell no! I didn’t know it was knocking most of the time. Going back in time and talking to a younger version of myself would do no good but I'd at least like to try. How do you convince your younger self that while football may be fun, you should be wrestling. You could be an awesome wrestler if you get more experience and practice. Football can be hard, but it takes more dedication to be a wrestler and while wrestling is a team sport, you are the only person out there on the mat.

Dear 12-year old Brandon, you’re never going to have the height to play college or pro football. You are absolutely pathetic as a basketball player, you can’t hit shit on the baseball diamond. Focus on wrestling. Join the Nashville Police Athletic League and wrestle in the summers. Start now! Run five miles a day while you can. It will pay off. Don’t go to Friendship Christian School. Convince your parents to go to a school where wrestling is king. Ride with your Dad every morning and let him drop you off at Father Ryan.

Don’t wait to start DJing at 28. Save up and buy turntables as soon as you can. Vanderbilt’s college radio station is a good place to start hunting Chicago house records. You love the music at 12. You just don’t have an outlet for it because neither you nor your parents know about it. Vinyl won’t live forever, but it’ll provide you hours of enjoyment over your lifetime. When all music becomes digitized you can look back and know you can beat match by ear. No one will ever be able to take that away from you.

While you’re at it, take all your comics and prized possessions out of your house on September 7, 1987. Your house will be struck by lightning the next day. Keep all those Marino and Montana cards as well as your Hulk comics. Be sure to save your mother’s picture albums because those are irreplaceable. And move the 4-wheeler out of the garage and put it out by the garden. Do the same with your dad’s rifles. It’s just stuff, but it is stuff you will enjoy. Your wardrobe can burn. Don’t wear all those sweaters. They are horrible.
Stay in private school and study. Do your homework. You have a talent at writing. In the future there won’t be nearly as many sports writers or news editorial folk. You’ll have to follow your love and do something else in your life. You should learn how to write comic books but whatever you do, just write! Write five pages a day and when you’ve written 10,000 pages you might have something good. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to find out how. Comic book writers make a good living but they don’t start out doing it!

You’ll go to college. Your parents will make sure of that, but it’s at a cost. As an only child your mom and dad will pay for most of your school and you will be unappreciative. You’ll do what you can to prolong the experience. Don’t. You’re killing your parents and every dollar they spend on you is three they won’t have when they are old enough to retire. There are no words of wisdom I can give you to make you mature. That will come on its own, but use college as a springboard. Get something out of it, not just a degree in journalism. A degree in management may be tough so be prepared to study harder math in high school to lighten your load. You love computers. Computer science will take you far if you learn to code. Management will help you prepare to manage others, and one day your own business.

Rhubarb is spelled R H U B A R B. Brandtite is B R A N D T I T E. Pocket that or else it will cost you at the spelling bees.

Don't buy new cars. You're wasting money, jackass! A new car isn't a substitute for the person you are.

Travel while you are young. Go out of the country if you can. It gets harder the older you get. Also, love often and as much as you can. Be safe though. You’re a good looking guy and you’re fun. Be a gentleman and not a moron and it'll get you places. Read Neil Strauss when his book The Game comes out.

You’re a good kid so I don’t have to worry about you doing something dangerous or stupid…very often. Keep up the good work. Your parents are proud of you and will do everything they can to help you realize your dreams. Also, Nashville isn’t so bad. It may feel lick Hicksville to you right now, but there are worse places in this world that you could live. One day you’ll miss the hell out of that place.

Don't be confused. I love the route my life has taken and wishing is just that. I am happily married and have a beautiful son that I wouldn't have had my life taken a different route. My career is great. Maybe the best conversation with my twelve year old self is no conversation at all. I got it right all on my own!
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