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!


Christmas Letter 2006

It was a gala day when Incredipete invested in redundant web servers in January. And as Groucho Marx said so aptly, “a gal a day should be enough for anyone!” Yes, after a year of trying to run a hosting business using cobbled together shared hosting on massively overworked servers, IHS invested in quad Xeon dedicated servers, and put one in Maryland, one in Chicago, and one in California. That pretty much covers all the bases in case of natural disaster, too. I tell of this not to advertise, but because it’s the only thing that happened in January. I know, scary.

Of course, February, in an attempt to keep my Christmas letter from totally sucking, brought challenges I could not have imagined. It all started on Valentine’s day… ok, technically it started the day before Valentines, but MY involvment started on Valentines. A local manufacturing business had a total walkout. 100% of employees from the plant manager to the floor helper… all walked out. I work for a consulting company, and we were asked to come and bail the business out. It was personal because the owners are, well… not strangers. Should we fail, they would be in trouble, and that just wasn’t an option.

The company was manufacturing high-tech electro-mechanical devices and had certifications from… well, some very strict regulatory agencies. Needless to say, the people who walked out “tipped off” the regulatory agencies that we were all new, and so we were audited… 4 days after the walkout. To say that those few days were “stressful” would be liking saying that Ebola is “slightly contagious.” I think I wrote during that week and said I was looking forward to the week being over. HA. I’m still working out there at least one day a week. 10 months later.

HOWEVER, the story, although not yet complete, has a pretty happy ending. In late March, we were shipping product again (a lapse of just a month in a highly regulated high-tech industry in which there was ZERO documentation on ANYTHING). In September, we had officially shipped more product in our short tenure than the previous team had shipped the entire year before. Everything we’ve shipped since then has been gravy. We’ve upgraded every person, process, work cell, and planning capability in the entire company… we even doubled the size of our facilities… and it’s running like a well oiled machine.

As the last person walked out in February, he walked up to me, handed me his key, looked me square in the eye, and said “You’ll be begging us to come back within two weeks, you have no idea what you’re doing.” I looked him back in the eye, and said “When you drive by 6 months from now and there are cars in the parking lot, I hope you’ll remember that you walked out without notice and won’t be eligible for rehire.” He laughed.

Who’s laughing now, cretin?

Ok, so February was a long one. Sorry. March was another snoozer. I was spending so much time at that company that I invested in a TREO 700w from Verizon. I was quite enamored with it at first, but then it began crashing regularly. I should have known a Windows powered phone would crash. When it crashes, it doesn’t really look different… it just doesn’t ring when you have a phone call. You finally realize it’s crashed when you try to make an outbound call. Hopefully an upgrade to the Motorola Q will be in my near future.

In April, I payed my taxes. I also got to take an exciting trip to beautiful Dayton, Ohio, motto “We’re just like Kansas City only we’re smaller, colder, and we don’t have professional sports.”

In May, I wrapped up the two classes I was taking, Supply Chain & Logistics Management, and Service Operations Management. Service Ops was stupid, boring, and worthless… I skipped so many times, I ended up with a B, while I got an A in the hard class. Go figure.

In June, absolutely nothing happened whatsoever.

July, on the other hand, was pretty exciting. July third (Jennyanydot’s Birthday) Jenna and I drove to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding. He was marrying a girl, I kid you not, named Jenna. But that was not the interesting part of the evening. When Jenna was passed out, a drunk girl came to the hotel room and frenched me for no reason. I would have invited her in, but I didn’t know how I would slip that by on Jenna. A once in a lifetime opportunity, thrown away. Later in July, my family and I went to beautiful San Diego. We stayed in a timeshare 50 feet from the beach, and pretty much did nothing but swim. It rocked.

August started out with a bang, when I accidentally wounded myself with my gun. It didn’t feel great, but it did give me a cool story and a nice scar. In spite of my open wound, the state of Kansas still decided to let me pass concealed carry class that same month. Later in the month, I did consulting work in Sherman, Texas.

In September, I didn’t do much, but I did end up in the police station getting fingerprinted. Apparently they want to know all SORTS of stuff before they allow you to carry a gun. Who knew!? Still, I don’t plan to kill anyone, so I should be alright. Thanks to their careful instruction, I understand the limits of using deadly force.

In October, I drove back to Sherman Texas, and on the way home was profiled by the police in Oklahoma City, and then nearly died in a flash flood driving across the flint hills in the middle of th night. About a week later, when I finally pried my fingers from the steering wheel, I spoke to the rest of my family about how much I hate going to Chiefs games, and we found out we all hated going, so we ditched our season tickets.

November was mostly spent writing a massive paper for my forecasting theory class. I did finally get it done, and I got an A. In addition, it looks like it has paved the way for taking an independent study class in 2007 on artificial neural networks, so it was worth the effort. I spent a little bit of time goofing off and created a scientific way to match people with my dating classification matrix, which frighteningly enough, several people took seriously. And, on a more personal note, my grandfather passed away after a long fight with ALS.

We can’t forget the midterm election, when the country “demanded” a change by electing a 51-49 democratic majority in the Senate. Since it appears that the republicans plan to operate as democrats anyhow, it doesn’t really matter. I also had the scary electrical gremlins in my house eradicated.

December meant the end of classes once again. We’ll be spending Christmas in town with my family, and then flying out the 30th to visit her friends and family for New Year’s.

2005 Christmas Letter

As is my tradition, it’s time for my 2005 recap. This year wasn’t as much of a pain as 2004, so I don’t expect this entry will be as long as last year’s. Let’s see. January began with the start of my MBA. I took two classes, one called “Leading Teams,” and the other “Project Management.” I particularly enjoyed the leadership class, much to my surprise. It sounded like it was going to be a touchy-feely class where we sat in a circle and sang.

However, in reality I learned a great deal about my own leadership strengths and weaknesses, and was able to use the classroom as a laboratory of self-examination. I know that sounds bizarre, but let me explain. I was thrust into my first supervisory experience when I was 22. During that time I managed as many as 45 people, and I thought I did ok. I always knew I was a bit of a control-freak, but I had trouble turning it off and chilling out. I never knew why.

The first week of this class, we were broken into teams, and I was fortunate enough to be put into a fabulous, hard-working, intelligent group. It was my first positive school team experience. As we laid out our personal goals for the semester, I asked the group to allow me to take a back seat and let others lead the team. I wanted to figure out what the problem was in a setting where I wouldn’t be held accountable if the team failed. As the semester continued, I began to realize that my problem wasn’t that I am a control-freak, it’s that I have fundamental problems with trusting other people to do what they say they’ll do. If I trust the people, I have no problem letting them do their thing.

It may not sound like much of an insight, but I can tell you it’s changed my entire leadership style. It’s helped coming into this new position in a new company at that same time, because I have been able to assemble my team from the ground up… no “hand-me-down” employees. Anyhoo, that was a lot on one silly class. I apologize. My other class was Project Management, which was mostly review for me, but it’s required, AND the professor for that class is my best candidate for advising me on my Ph.D. should I choose to continue after the MBA.

Ok, finally on to February. In February I started having sinus problems and at the same time, my gall bladder decided to start failing. This resulted in plenty of pain and unhappiness on my part.

Absolutely nothing interesting or important happened in March, so I’ll just skip it and go right to April.

In April, Jenna and I officially announced that we were an “online couple.” Dozens of other online personas sobbed uncontrollably as possibly the two most eligible singles on Diaryland were now spoken for. This was quickly negated when I dropped Diaryland and chose a host that actually works on a regular basis. Yes, in April I left D-Crap for greener pastures. This resulted in my having to learn a completely new script language, and finally learn how to write style sheets, but in the end it was worth it.

The summer months were filled with travel. I took a trip to Colorado where I met the Juddhole. Mere days after Jenna arrived here, my classes started once again. I enrolled in “Leadership and Change” and “Enterprise Resource Planning Systems.” They may sound completely unrelated, and you’re right… they are. I have two emphases in my MBA, Leadership and Operations Management.

My sickness that had really technically started in February now was getting much worse. I ended up with a monster infection that wouldn’t die. I missed work, I missed school, I couldn’t function. I would get used to the fever at 103, and it would go up higher. There were a couple of times I wanted to call 911 (and was talked out of it for budgetary reasons). After missing as much school and work as I had, it was time to drop my classes and give myself a chance to recover. It sucked after the investment of time, but it was needed.

I went on to complete 3 rounds of Amoxicillin, 2 Z-packs, and finally 1 round of something they wouldn’t even tell me the name of… That knocked it out, but my immune system was shot. I continued to catch everything that came along.

Alright, so where are we? November? Uh… In November I took my web hosting & design hobby to the next level by becoming a hosting reseller. That sucks up a lot of free time now, and I’m a nerd so it’s lots of fun.

And that brings us to now… Christmas is right around the corner. We’ll be in Kansas for Christmas, and then we’re flying to Philly for New Year’s Eve. That brings us to the end of the year. Hopefully next year will bring continued success and happiness, and much less sickness. Oh, and some new garage door openers. Merry Christmas to all!