Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year in review

2011 was a huge year and it has been one hell of a ride. After starting the year working for my dad and barely scraping by, my cousin called me with the opportunity of a lifetime. With his help and the love and support of a beautiful woman, I end this year on a completely different tack. Since May I have been an instructor for Red Hat and have taught Linux all over the US, Australia, and the UK. I both look and feel better than I have in a decade. I have hung on to the second longest relationship I've ever had and I love her more every day. I am 33 and happier than I have ever been. I have spent most of the last 7 months on the road. I gave up my apartment in October and now live out of my big red suitcase. It is strange waking up one day in Newcastle upon Tyne on the northeast coast of England and the next day being back in Texas on a ranch near Paducah. Forget remembering the city, I am often lucky to remember the time zone in which I find myself. It is tiring but I would not trade my experiences on the road for the world. Looking forward to 2012 I see bigger things on their way. Opportunities abound as new certifications open new doors. I finally broke down and bought the domain where I will chronicle my advances in technology as my studies prepare me to revolutionize how the world uses technology. I will continue to write here, hopefully more often. 2012 will be a huge year and if the Mayans were right, I will be going out on a high note.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Birthday wishes

I woke up this morning to a bunch of birthday wishes. Throughout the day they have been pouring in. It still sucks dining alone on my birthday but knowing I am loved, and more importantly how loved I am, makes this much easier. To everyone who sent their birthday wishes, texts, ecards, and text messages, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Another year older

33 years old. I'm in my hotel in Martinsburg West Virginia. I never thought being alone on my birthday would affect me. Ok, I'm not alone. I'm just 1,600 miles from my little girl, the woman I love, and all of my friends. It doesn't help that I will only be home for 24 hours on Saturday and then it is back on the road again. I'm ok and it only gets better from here, but here is just a bit lonely tonight. Off to bed now. Things will look brighter in the morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Roads

“If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.” -Anthony Robbins

Over the last year I've changed so much in my life. I finalized my divorce. I lost 70 pounds. I fell in love. I quit working with my dad and with the help and support of the woman I love and my cousin Karl I have completely changed my career outlook. I am now a Red Hat Certified Engineer, Red Hat Certified Instructor, Red Hat Certified Examiner, and will soon add Red Hat Certified Architect and Security Specialist (aka RHCASS). I travel all over the country teaching Red Hat Enterprise Linux. On this wild and crazy journey I have learned a few things.
1. If you are dissatisfied with where you are, look at the road that put you there. Make note of the landmarks so you NEVER PASS THEM AGAIN!

2. Personal responsibility takes away the power from those you blame and gives it to you. When things are done to you, you have no control. When things are done as a result of your actions, or inactions, you take back that control. By changing your action, you control the outcome.

3. There is ALWAYS a choice. The difficulty of the choice does not negate the fact that a choice is still there. When you claim there is no choice, you give up the power to change.

4. Take the time to take the back roads every now and then. Life is too short not to take in a bit of the scenery. No one has ever had a deathbed proclamation of, "I should have spent more time at the office!"
I know, all of these lessons should be obvious but it took me almost 33 years to learn them. In 6 days I will be 33. I won't proclaim 32 to be my best year. I'll proclaim it to be the year I learned the most. Because of the year I was 32, the year was 33 may well be my best.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Death of the American Dream

There was a time a generation ago when I could, through hard work and ingenuity, change my fortune and find a piece of the American Dream. Now that dream is in its death throes.

Every day I am bombarded by images of the affluent life. Pro athletes, reality shows featuring rich people, get rich quick schemes, and nonstop commercialism reminding me to "buy this," "vacation there," and "use that." The good life is what I am told to seek. Who has the good life? Do you? I know I don't. In a paper titled, "Wealth, Income, and Power" G. William Domhoff, Professor of Sociology at UCSC, talks about who has a hold on the good life.
"In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America."

10% of Americans hold essentially all of the wealth. Worse than all of that, the top 1% of income earners, who average over $1 million a year, actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them. In the same paper Domhoff goes on to cite E. N. Wolff's 2007 paper, "Recent trends in household wealth in the United States: Rising debt and the middle-class squeeze."
"Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s.

How can this happen? Isn't this a government by the people, for the people? In a world where money is power, how can so few hold all of the power? Distraction, distraction, distraction. I've spent so much of my time following the dangled carrot that the glorification of the "good life" creates, I've never stopped to examine why I don't have my piece of the good life. I slave at horrible jobs, do demeaning things, and fight for the crumbs falling from the tables of the high and mighty. Generation X, my generation, will be the first in American history to fail to improve on the quality of life of the previous generation. I, like many other of Generation X, am lucky to keep a roof over my head and food on my table. The educational system is abysmal, preventing an upward mobility afforded previous generations. Many around me believe whatever nonsense fits their world view without checking facts and then attempt to foist their flawed views on society, incapable of being swayed by logic or reason. Fear mongers beat down my door with talk of the end approaching, all while setting in motion the very harbingers they prophesy against.

I know I am not alone in this. How can people like me recover the American Dream? Is it recoverable at all? We must start by speaking up. Start by boycotting companies where CEO salaries are not reasonable, such as banks that paid bonuses to the very CEO's that drove them into the ground. We have to speak out to anyone who will listen about the truth of how little of the tax burden the rich actually bear. We must write our Senators and Congresspersons to the point their boxes are full. Let them know they were elected to represent all Americans, not just the top 1%. Where possible we must stop working for corporations and instead go to work for small businesses or start new business. We must lobby for legislation enforcing salary caps for companies bailed out by our tax dollars. We have to elect officials who will look out for the American people, and, lacking any of those, run for congress. It is time to take back our nation. Let the revolution begin here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Addictions

I step out into the cold night air. I have a new addiction and it must be fed. The road stretches in front of me as my muscles twitch in anticipation. My breath rises like steam and only the stars and an occasional street lamp light my way. As I move more quickly, I feel my heart race. Heat rises off my skin as my feet strike the pavement, with each stride I come closer to filling my need. I can almost close my eyes as it sets in and feel myself transported to an ancient forest, hunting my prey, running with the wolves. I am sated. I climb my stairs and kick off my running shoes. It's been another excellent run.
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