Author: Pete

2011 Christmas Letter

January brought a milestone… my first trip to the dentist in 12 years. Not for any particular reason, but because I figured everyone should see a dentist at least once every dozen years. The result, one tiny cavity. And a nice deep cleaning. And replacing all of my silver fillings with composite. I also upgraded my PC in one last attempt to make it not suck. After $3,000 in upgrades, it still sucked. In January, we also made a presentation at the University of Kansas that led to licensing of two exciting medical devices.

In February, since the 5 buinesses I was already managing weren’t enough, we launched Epic Finishing, a plating/anodizing/engraving business. I also made the switch. Finally. Bought my first Mac… an iMac 27″. To say that it changed the way I work would be an understatement. I would spend the next 10 months replacing every computer I come in contact with to a Mac. I enrolled in a Final Cut Pro class that lasted about 18 hours, and then immediately realized I now had yet another skill that I would be expected to use on the job.

March brought all sorts of fun stuff from a business standpoint. The consulting company I work for got an eviction notice (the building was purchased and new owner wanted everyone out), and within a couple of days, the medical device company got an FDA recall notice. This presented all sorts of interesting things. The eviction notice gave us 30 days. If you’ve ever looked at commercial real estate, you know that’s simply not possible. Even if you find a new space the same day, it takes more than 30 days for the buildout, not to mention the move. The FDA recall was not our fault, but we had to clean up the mess. A mess we’re still cleaning up as of the writing of this post.

April was very expensive. I went out and bought a BRAND NEW Jeep Unlimited for about $40,000. 6 days later, we had the biggest hailstorm I’ve ever experienced, which is something considering I live in Kansas. My truck, the Jeep, and the roof, windows, deck of my house were smacked. I used the check for my truck to pay taxes, and we got the Jeep and house fixed. But it was a pain, and it cost a lot. While all of this was happening, we were securing a new location for the consulting company, and I was managing the FDA recall. To say I was stressed would be an understatement. The move into the new office happened the last week of April. The new landlords are awesome and the space is actually much nicer than the old one.

In May, the church moved into a permanent building, after 7 years of meeting in schools. Sadly, the location we had to share space with a Jewish group so that meant the entire sound system had to be put up and torn down each week. Christen and I did the setup until I melted down and told the pastor I couldn’t do it anymore. Late in May, a tornado went straight up the road towards were I work, leading us all to hide in the stairwells like we were hiding from Nazis. Fortunately the storm took a detour and destroyed some of Kansas City Kansas, instead.

In June, we hired two new assistants at the consulting company, which meant lots of help, and… lots of training. As is my tradition, June was a month filled with gardening. I’m very proud of my front yard gardens, and I spend way too much time and money on them. Between work and weeding, that’s about all I had time for.

A much more disturbing trend started to develop in June and July. I started losing my ability to remember things. Like, in a scary way. It started happening often, I’d have someone come and say “remember yesterday when we talked about X” and not only could I not remember talking about X, I couldn’t remember having a conversation with that person at all. I started logging my conversations as they happened, and sure enough, I was losing big chunks of every single day, within a day. I high-tailed it to the doctor, who promptly ordered a sleep study. My apnea/hypopnea index (AHI) was 83. An AHI of 30 is considered “severe apnea”. 90 minutes into the study they put a CPAP mask on me because they were afraid I was going to have a stroke. August brought CPAP, which brought sleep to my life. For the first time in at least 20 years, I started dreaming. My blood pressure dropped 30 points. I didn’t spend all day yawning. I could remember things. My anxiety went down. I took a vacation with the family to Arizona. My first time there. It was 106 degrees and comfortable. When we got back, it was 116 and humid in KC. Go figure.

August also brought change on the church front. When I arrived back from vacation, I found that I and my fearless cohort, Christen, had been replaced in our absence. We’d been leading the music for about 11 months, so imagine our surprise. I felt like I should write 95 theses and nail them to the door. We both stayed for a few weeks but things got a little ugly and we ended up moving on. For me, that meant moving on to Bedside Baptist…

In September I got to do a comprehensive quality audit of the medical company operations. If you have ever audited a quality system, you know that it’s completely riveting. September also marked the biggest purge of Facebook friends I’ve ever done, culling more than 40% of my total number. Go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated. At the end of September, David Koechner rubbed my head. Really. Also in September, Jenna and I decided to part ways. She decided she wanted to move to Colorado and spend time in the mountains. Naturally I’m staying in KC. It’s home.

I filed at the beginning of October. Did I mention that Liz moved in to be my roomie? I can’t remember what month, so we’ll say it was October. That way I have something to say for an otherwise uneventful month.

In November, we finally moved Liz’s storage-locker-o-crap into the house, and she turned the man room into the girliest room on the planet. We also said goodbye to Chasey the cat in November. She was not young by any stretch, but lymphoma is never a happy thing. Tragedy struck on the 14th of November, when one of my oldest and kindest friends died in a head-on collision, along with her oldest daughter. I was Heidi’s date to her senior prom, and bought her first cigar for her on her 18th birthday. Her other two daughters survived the crash, but Heidi will leave a big hole in the universe. She was larger than life.

Finally in December, I gave up on the iMac. I needed more power. I went with a Mac Pro 8-core, put 64GB’s of RAM in it along with 4 512GB Solid States. Needless to say, it’s fast. Sheriff had to get a facelife. He kept getting MRSA infections in the fold above his nose. After the surgery, he was like a puppy. He could smell, taste, and see properly for the first time in his life. I’d never seen him salivate over a new scent before. It’s been so good to see him behave like a normal dog. It was a year full of ups and downs, but it was a year of change. I expect 2012 to be a year of new beginnings. Here’s to you all.

2010 Christmas Letter

And yet another year is in the books. It’s Christmas once again and for some reason, this year seemed to fly by faster than any previous year. Here we go: January started like any other January… cold, dreary, and completely boring. Except for the surgery. As most of you know, in 2009 a “orthopedist” broke my wrist “on accident” which left bone fragments that were tearing everything up in there. My new orthopedist decided I needed surgery to take out the bone and damaged cartilage. They let me to it under a “beer block” (which despite the name does not involve alcohol) which is basically a local where they numb your arm. I got to watch my arthroscopic procedure live and in person. A bit freaky, but very cool.

This brought February, which was still cold and dreary.

March was filled with… a complete blank. Must not have been important.

April, however, brought my least favorite part of the year… the part where I take all of my income from the previous year and send it to Obama to spend on putting a chicken in every pot. After being relieved of $23,000 (that’s in addition to the withholding from my paycheck), I realized I needed to ramp up IHS even more or risk having to start selling adult services on Craigslist.

Sadly, in May, Craigslist closed their adult services section, meaning my only option was to ramp up IHS. So I started pimping my web ninja skills and adding new services. That led to a flood of new business (which will undoubtedly result in the Feds taking even more money next April).

In June, a bad call stole a perfect game which made me much madder than it should have. That’s literally the only notable thing that happened in June. June sucks.

July brought our annual family vacation, and this year we went to scenic San Diego which was 20 degrees colder than normal and was completely overrun with purple jellyfish. Needless to say, I went swimming anyhow in spite of the 40 degree water and overwhelming risk of stings.

August was idiotedly hot in Kansas City, and I spent the entire month sweating in the fetal position.

October was fairly uneventful except for our worship leader’s announcement that he’d be leaving at the end of November. He was the reason I had started attending the church, so I considered my options and ultimately decided I liked the church even without him. I told the pastor and soon found out he wanted a team to take over the job, so he asked me and two other folks.

November was spent being understudies for the worship leader, getting reacquainted with my piano, picking songs, going to practices and trying to learn the ropes.

In December, me and the team officially took over the music at the church. Naturally I dislocated my bad wrist right before our first service by pulling to hard on the laundry that was stuck in my washer. It sucks not to have cartilage…. I was also promoted to COO and VP of our company, my loftiest title yet. Christmas Eve we had a special service at the Interncontinental Hotel rooftop ballroom overlooking the Plaza, where 90% of the people that said they’d be there didn’t show up, but dozens of people I wasn’t expecting DID. All in all, the year was good. I had less anxiety than I’ve had in several years, partly due to the miracles of modern science. 2011 is looking promising as well.

2009 Christmas Letter

And so it begins, the much-anticipated annual Incredi-Christmas-Letter. And by “much-anticipated” I mean “no one will read it.” Regardless, here goes. January brought cold weather and Savior Obama. With promises of worldwide nirvana and economic equality, the world hailed him as such. In the face of overwhelming odds, I boldly stated my opinion that he was a socialist boob intent upon recycling all of the bad ideas his liberal predecessors had already failed at. In spite of the hordes of uneducated masses sending me hate mail and threats, I stuck to my guns, until a few months later, when all of them had forgotten they supported Obama and decided they had “always thought he was under-qualified.”

In February, I lost my damn mind when I decided to announce I would update every day for the rest of 2009. For those of you who blog, you know this is not an easy thing to do, especially not to do well. I can’t say I did it well, but I can say, with pretty good certainty, that I accomplished the goal. For those of you who still read here… I apologize for all the crap writing.

Most of March was spent mocking Obama and the tax-evadercrats in Washington. I found it hilarious to see how everyone he appointed to a cabinet position was a lying scumbag with documented tax fraud in their past. Meanwhile Biden says it’s “patriotic” to pay taxes. I’m still not sure why Obama wanted to appoint non-patriotic people. Oh yeah – I almost forgot Obama is a Chicago Machine Politician.

In April, I finally decided to get some happy pills to help with my anxiety. This was something I probably needed to do three years ago, but it seemed wimpy so I didn’t. The downside to starting on anxiety medicine is that you spend the first 3-5 days in a cold sweat, nauseated, suicidal, and 100% apathetic, to the point where I nearly died of starvation and dehydration 5 feet from my kitchen full of food and water. Granted, you’re supposed to tell your doctor if you have “thoughts of suicide” but I figured all he’d say would be “don’t commit suicide.” I also figured I didn’t need psych counseling since the only reason I was contemplating offing myself was due to the side effects of the stupid anxiety pills. Fortunately, things started to improve after a month or so, and I once again started bathing, eating, and speaking.

In May, I received my first death threat related to a blog post since 2005. In it, I implied that George Tiller (the late-term abortionist) got what was coming to him. And by implied, I mean I couldn’t have been more happy that someone finally put a stop to his work. Yes, it should have been the government, but the government is filled with liberal bed-wetting wussies who can’t stand up for principle. The person who sent the death threat turned out to be an old high school friend, and he was quickly arrested for making “terroristic threats” which is apparently a felony. Lucky him. Looks like this blog is responsible for a very dumb guy serving a hefty sentence. Woot Woot. For the record, I’m still glad George Tiller is out of business.

In June, I developed a ganglion cyst which was causing me a lot of pain in my wrist and hand. I made the mistake of going to a wrist specialist for treatment, and he promptly shattered the bone in my wrist. On accident. After 6 weeks in a cast the main chunk of bone healed up, but there are still 3 small fragments floating around that I may have to get cut out eventually. Here’s a tip. Don’t let a doctor break your wrist without anesthetic. It hurts.

July started a flurry of Barrett Graphics activity, meaning I was spending a great deal of my time at the studio shooting quasi-attractive people. The bad news was I had no free time, but the good news was I was finally inspired to upgrade the website and improve my portfolio. July was also the company picnic at the lake, by which I mean it was in the proximity (but not within sight) of a lake. And by proximity, I mean in the same sense that the Sun is in proximity to the Earth.

I spent most of August developing Black Sky Radio’s websitewith Mike Walker (aka Nightmare). This was a joint venture between him and another local DJ (who lasted all of a month before quitting). It was a pretty major project because it has a lot of features. Most notably, it has streaming audio 24/7, which requires lots of fun software and configuration on the web server. It also has a premium content section by subscription, so there were plenty of kinks to work out. August is all a blur to me…

Jenna and I celebrated our first anniversary September 5th. September was also when I decided I finally needed to form an LLC for my independent enterprises, IHS Web Solutions and Barrett Graphics. I did it on the cheap by using LegalZoom, and I made Barrett Graphics a DBA of IHS so I wouldn’t have to pay for two LLCs. The bad news is, now I have to deal with all of the IRS crap that comes along with running a business. I can hardly wait for tax season. Oh yeah, Jenna lost her job with the chiropractor in September as well. Let’s just say it was NOT for cause and leave it at that.

In October, I put two and two together and realized that Jenna should apprentice for Black Sky Radio. I floated the idea to Mike (who happened to be looking for a co-host) and he decided to let her try it as an intern. It was clear from the beginning that they make a good duo, and within a couple of months, Mike promoted her from lowly intern to lowly co-host. You should check her out, every weekday from 2-7 PM Central. While she was an intern and we were waiting for unemployment to kick in (which took ELEVEN weeks thanks to her old employer trying to screw her over), I had to work my ARSE off doing photo and web gigs to try and make up her income. I was working my regular job, then at night and all weekend I was shooting photos, then after I got home from those, I was doing web design.

November is a complete blank for some reason. I’m sure I did something, but I must have been drunk.

And of course December brings Jenna’s birthday. This year she got a snazzy microphone for her birthday to use at her job. Practical but also fun. I think. Hey, she said she wanted it. I also spent some time and money upgrading the ole’ IHS computer at my house, because it’s tax deductible! Stick it to the man, I say! (If you’re the IRS, I’m totally kidding!) Except for the broken bones, unemployment, over-work, death threats, anxiety meds, and liberal takeover of the government, 2009 was a great year!

Christmas Letter 2008

It was a gala day when we ushered in 2008 by banging pots and pans.. And as Groucho said so eloquently, “A gal a day ought to be enough for anyone!”.

Of course, that was only the first 5 minutes of 2008, and if I write an entire paragraph per 5 minutes, this post is going to be WAY too long. By which I mean it will be even LONGER than my typical Christmas letter, which tend to be verbose anyhow. And now I’ve spent and entire paragraph talking about how I don’t want to be too verbose. Go figure.

In January, I began teaching for the first time ever. I was approached by the faculty at UMKC and asked to teach BMA 540 – Service Operations Management. It’s an MBA elective course, so I was hoping only a couple people would sign up. However, as luck would have it, there was a waiting list to attend. After the first lecture, I came to a very important conclusion – I am incredibly dull and boring. Since my future as an adjunct lies partly on student evaluations, I felt that I needed to ramp up or risk being run out of town. After a few weeks, I hit my stride.

In February, I angered all of the liberal wussies and other social wienies by suggesting that “fairness” is a silly concept. My point was that if you try hard, even if things AREN’T fair, you will ultimately be better off than someone who is a lazy lout. This was demonstrated by the students in my course who had the misfortune of taking my first exam, which was roughly the same difficulty as performing a lunar landing. Those who studied hard and attended class were rewarded with my gracious curve, and those who were lazy bums were left to ponder what they would do if they flunked an elective.

In March, I shocked the world by endorsing Hillary Clinton. Granted, this was done out of a sense of morbid curiosity, not out of actual support, but the affect was the same. People freaked. Then, shortly thereafter, I realized I hadn’t yet made any of the travel arrangements for my wedding. I freaked.

In April, my fair weather team, KU, won the championship. This was fortunate since our other two Kansas City teams are the Royals and the Chiefs. I was also interviewed for the Kansas City Star, which was undoubtedly my fifteen minutes.

May was a very special month. I turned 30. I spent much of May spraying weed killer on my neighbors’ yards, because they decided to grow crops of dandelions instead of grass. I also revamped IHS Web Solutions and jacked up my prices, much to the dismay of my many blogging friend customers, all of whom emailed me asking for a discount.

The only important thing that happened in June was the Supreme Pizza Court striking down the D.C. handgun ban, ruling that the 2nd Amendment was an individual right (duh) not just a militia right (duh). This was obvious to those of us who TOOK 8th grade history and knew that the founding fathers wanted people to be armed so they could overthrow the government should it ever get out of control. This would be difficult if only the government had any guns.

July marked my 500th post, which was celebrated by 5 whole comments from readers. You all suck. And of course, the other thing that happened in July was that Chuck Schumer personally torpedoed the hanging-on-by-a-thread financial industry, sending the economy spiraling into a Jimmy Carteresque tailspin. Fortunately, the government (against the public’s will) passed a ginormous bailout which greedy corporations promptly spent on hookers and coke, and on writing themselves ginormous bonuses.

In August, McCain announced that Sarah Palin would be his running mate, and would also be the target of massive attacks by every Democrat and every media outlet in the world. While being mercilessly attacked for everything from not knowing the ins and outs of econometrics and how to stabilize the Middle East, she still reminded true conservatives that Ronald Reagan lives on. We may have to endure a few terms of socialists to remind ourselves what that means, but at least it’s still out there somewhere.

In September, much to the amazement of my ex girlfriends, I got married.

Then October arrived, and my doctor informed me that I am fat. He based this opinion on two factors – my blood pressure, and a stupid chart that was clearly created by Ethiopian doctors. It says that I’m 30 pounds overweight. Now, I’m not saying I couldn’t afford to lose a few pounds – but I mean 5, not 30!

Finally in November, the second coming of Jesus happened. People were weeping in the streets over the election of Obama. Chris Matthews actually passed out and peed his pants with delight. During his victory speech, he immediately began lowering expectations, by promising a lot of bad times and trauma over the course of his first term. This came as no surprise to those of us who DON’T watch MSNBC, because we all knew that his campaign promises were silly and impossible. I still shudder when I think about the woman who was at his victory speech and was interviewed. She said “I’m just so happy that Obama is president. Now I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage or for gas anymore.” That pretty much sums it up.

In December, the economy continued to tank thanks to the clueless bungling of the pulsating blob of morons in Washington. Despite reason and contrary to the will of the voting public, congress continued to pump money into large corporations (while letting small business die) so that executives could continue purchasing private islands and personal slaves.

All I want for Christmas is a government bailout!

Christmas Letter 2007

As is my tradition, I will now grace you with my lovely Christmas letter.

Per usual, I brought in the new year in downtown Philadelphia at Everett’s party. If you don’t know who Everett is, then frankly, you’re just not cool or hip. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Granted, I merely know him because he’s a friend of a friend of a friend, but hey – that’s better then YOU. HA. The penthouse party is always quite extravagant, and I try to make the most of it, social anxiety disorder notwithstanding.

January began a long, boring semester at school, studying the fascinating topics of Leadership & Change in Organizations and Strategic Staffing. I had taken the first 75% of the Leadership course and dropped it, so it was especially exciting having already learned most of it. Staffing and HR stuff are not my favorite, but were required for my double emphasis.

Perhaps more importantly, in January Kansas’ concealed carry law went into effect. As soon as I got back from Philly, I went to the DMV and got my permit. I immediately began trying to carry a full size Beretta, which was a bit like trying to stuff a Volkswagen down my pants. I quickly gave up and purchased a Glock 27 “mini” which was about half the size. However, even that, it turned out, was too big to conceal in my “business casual” attire, so I purchased a Kel-Tek P3AT, a microscopic .380 Auto single action. It’s smaller than my Blackberry, and easily slips into a pocket, a sock, or a waistband and just disappears. Beautiful. I guarantee, you’ll never be able to tell whether I’m carrying or not.

In February, I started out with a bang when my stupid Intrepid decided to stop working. $3,500.00 later, I was going again, but my bitterness about driving a lame sedan began to steadily increase as a result. For Valentine’s day, I went to school and took a test. Then that following weekend, I took Jenna to my favorite restaurant in KC, the Plaza III.

As usual, in March, nothing happened.

Strangely, nothing happened in April, either!

In May, I celebrated the final “pre-over-the-hill” birthday, and at the ripe old age of 29, I can honestly say I feel much older. I don’t mean maturity-wise, I mean, I literally feel old. I have aches and pains I never had before, I can’t eat spicy food without getting ill, and if I sit down on the floor, I need help getting back up. That explains why I had my midlife crisis at age 16, though…

May also brought a much anticipated financial “windfall.” Technically it wasn’t a windfall, because I worked 9 years to earn it, but it still felt nice to get a big check. After much debate with my financial advisor, I decided NOT to simply spend the check, in spite of my intention to fix my house and pay off debt. I realized that I’d end up paying almost $60,000 in taxes if I went the spend route. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty crappy. So instead, I rolled the money into my 401k, and then took a humongous loan from my 401k. Most people would say that’s the worst thing you could ever do. However, if I had spent the money, I would have had 0$ of the money in my 401k 5 years from now. As it is, I’ll have the entire balance of my “windfall” plus interest at the end of 5 years. You see, on a 401k loan, you pay the interest to yourself.

In July, I purchased a ring. Unfortunately, the first girl I asked to marry me said no, so I decided to save it and give it to Jenna instead. I had a new heat pump installed, had the house painted, and purchased 1400 square feet of flooring.

My brother married his long-time sweetheart, Heather, on 07/07/07. If you know them, you know that’s completely appropriate. I was the best man, both in title and in actuality. The bride’s brother was one of the groomsmen, so at the bachelor party I made sure to give my brother gifts that would mortify her brother. Their wedding went off very nicely, and they are now living happily ever after in Colorado.

In August, not a lot happened, except we had the Lucas family vacation at the lake. Mostly, I slept and watched CSpan. It was great. As is tradition, we got stuck in a massive traffic jam on our way home, which causes me to nearly come unglued. Note to self: STOP praying that God will make me calm in traffic. Don’t you know that all God does is give you ample opportunities to BE calm in traffic!?

In September, I once again started back to school, this time for the final time. I signed up for Total Rewards Management and Competitive Strategies. Had I known how difficult and time-consuming Competitive Strategies was going to be, I probably would have just quit school.

On a personal level, September, October, and most of November are just a big blur. Between work and school, I was tied up for about 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Throw in my newfound church responsibilities (playing bass in the band), and you have the recipe for stress. I also decided in October to take up my old avocation – photography. I invested in some new equipment and started shooting. A lot. Then I set up my new website. But I really didn’t need that added stress, I’m not sure what I was thinking.

That’s ok, because in November, I added to the stress by throwing in home improvement projects and a trip to Philly. Supposedly it’s “really easy” to install wood floors…if by “really easy” you mean “really time consuming and back-breaking.” It took us 2 weeks of evenings and weekends to get it done. Oh yeah, the trip to Philly – that was to see Rachel get married. Marriage is cool.

In November, I also started an orgy of acquisition, and purchased a new computer, new Plasma screen, and a new bass amp.

In December, it was time to buckle down and finish school. In the midst of buckling down, the department chair asked if I’d be willing to teach at UMKC next semester. I agreed, and then came the excitement of choosing a book, writing a syllabus, and laughing hysterically at the lameness of the pay. It’s not a job you do for the money, that much I can tell you. I finished out my last two classes on the 11th, and graduation was on the 14th. My folks took me out afterwards for some great food, and then my various family members lavished extravagant gifts on me. Kids, go to school, even if just for the graduation gifts!

With the cash from graduation, I decided to be irresponsible. I bought a 40″ LCD HDTV for my bedroom and a 750GB hard drive for my new computer. And the scary thing is, I had money left over. Like I said, kids, go to school!

All-in-all, the year was a better one than 2006. I had much fewer health problems, in fact, basically had none come to think of it. A combination of healthier eating, less caffeinated beverages, and more stress management really helped a lot. 2006 was completely overshadowed by frightening health problems, and some days, I still worry that they will return. But as that gets further away, it’s becoming easier to accept that everything’s gonna be just fine.

So here’s to a 2008 that’s healthy, happy, and at least towards the end… married!

Merry Christmas!