Monthly Archives: January 2017

The classless Man With The Orange Face leaves his wife behind … a retirement soiree and Realtors come out of the woodwork


It seems the whole nation is consumed to some degree with the first 10 days of the Trump regime. ‘He’s done more with the stroke of a pen than the prior eight years,’ say some. “He’s a dangerous blowhard and a bully and a narcissist,’ say others. I fall firmly with the latter view. From ‘what the …?’ cabinet picks to ill-selected advisors to manic tweets to just plain dumb decisions, he’s a flat-out bad man.

I’ve said before that Ellen and Reid are free to make up their own minds. That doesn’t mean the weekly letters won’t point out what’s on my mind. 

Next week: executive orders does not a leader make.


January 23, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Well, we have a Trump in our White House. A sure sign American civilization is going to hell in a hand basket. This whole ‘alternative facts’ thing he’s driving/authorizing is utterly bizarre. Beyond belief and any sense of rationality. His base seems to dig it, however, and that’s all he gives a damn about. One of the more telling inauguration day photos is of Sir Bluster storming through the White House doors just ahead of his wife while the Obama’s both have their hands on her back deferring to her to enter before them as her clueless, socially inept, self-absorbed hubby barges ahead. He is such a dick. Sorry to devolve to gutter language but that’s the best that dumb shit deserves. We are in for one helluva four year ride and it’s going to be real bumpy.

While I’m thinking about it, your uncle will retire on our 67th birthday (Feb. 8) at an evening soiree in Grand Island and I may well make the drive up there to surprise him. It would be kind of fun. Might swing by and see you in Chicago, Reid. Ellen, I likely won’t make it up to the Twin Cities but you never know.

I have a Medicare appeal with the local Social Security office next week. Wish me luck. I’ve got my ducks in a row and hopefully they’ll see the softer side of things from my perspective. It’s a really big deal for me since otherwise I’ll be sunk without insurance through the end of summer. Also under consideration is taking full Social Security now since it would take pressure off reliance on my investments, which are fine and okay but with interest rates continuing to lag that pipeline isn’t as ‘robust’ as they used to say at the bank.

The first week of March I’ll be down in Florida to have fun with Bob F., David Dahlquist and Dave H. We’ll fish and golf and cook and laugh. Miss Emma may make a cameo appearance atop the Camry (geez, 38,000 miles logged since Nov. 2015) since the lure of Charleston on the way home will be too hard to resist.

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I get in my paddling while the getting is good. The clock is ticking louder and louder and our days on the salt water are numbered.

My fishing has gained a little spark as my skills creep upward toward respectability. I’m catching fish in watery hideouts that previously had been unproductive (perhaps it’s just a sign that the blind squirrel does indeed come upon an acorn now and then). The physicality of it is just a challenge and so much fun, my buffoonery aside. Glad you like the videos, Ellen. My new blades came in last week and they’ve been great, too. I wonder who’s enjoying the paddles I inadvertently left behind in Hilton Head?

Reid, it sounds as if the job search is continuing apace. I dunno, but there’s something about a job with benefits that might take center stage for you. Not that the allure of start up kinds of things with your friends wouldn’t be a gas but there’s stability in other sorts of paying work. You can always get back to entrepreneurship when the time is right and you have more business skills under your belt.  Your LinkedIn page is up to snuff, isn’t it? I don’t use that very much but people seem to be true believers in it. Man, when you land something, I’ll be out the door and up your way.

The house will go back on the market with another Realtor later this week. It was hard to jettison my prior agent since she was nice and pleasant enough. But it was time to mix the approach up a bit and give some hungry, new blood a chance at the top commission. I’ve literally been hounded by other companies who were chasing my tail once my listing agreement was up. They came out of the woodwork in hordes. It’s a tough biz.

Alrighty, time to wrap things up from Charlotte. Got some golf and a bit of live music ahead this week. Plus the weather is moderating a bit, which is more than we can say about The Man With The Orange Face.

Love, Dad

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When both sides of the coin are tails … getting real about housing, a close call in Charleston and presidential politics …


Man, there’s just no relief from one week to another these days. If it’s not housing it’s job seeking and if it’s not a close call in Charleston it’s distressing presidential politics. There are no breaks in the action.

But it’s all in a day’s work as far as the weekly letters are concerned. That’s one of the nice things – the real, down to earth things – that I like about letters. Ellen and Reid see both sides of the coin. Even if sometimes both sides seem to be tails.


January 16, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Well, I’ll have a come-to-Jesus meeting this afternoon with my Realtor. Since the listing expired 10 days ago, I’ve been flooded with 25-30 calls and a like number of mailings from other agents knocking on the door. She wants me to re-up but at a lower price point. I’ll need her assurance that more agents from the big company will troop through here. But I won’t automatically re-list with her. Another Realtor from a very small company will meet with me tomorrow and he has some intriguing ideas while not dropping the price nearly as much. He thought the Oct.-Nov.-Dec. timeframe was the absolute worst period of the year, what with the holidays and all. One thing I’m not willing to do is sink a lot of bucks into the place just for some sort of makeover. I want them to sell to the inherit strengths of the place, not just the decor. Otherwise they’d be asking me to spend money in what amounts to a guessing game as to what someone else prefers. Ellen, Tim makes a point to just lower the price and get the hell out of here. Let’s hope it happens.

Reid, no doubt you see your mom and I as thorns in your side about work. But don’t let us put you automatically on the defensive about it. There’s got to be some employer out there that would value you. All it takes is that first step, that first resume out the door, that first phone call or get-to-know-me coffee, etc. Give yourself a goal of two contacts/resumes sent per day. It’ll move you off the dime and give yourself a sense of progress. You’ve got that spiffy MS under your belt. Make the most of it. Hell, I’d camp at the DePaul job office if that’s what it takes. Since you’re now a DePaul alumni, does it make sense to attend some alumni gatherings to circulate among the faithful? Chicago probably has some affinity to take care of its own, doesn’t it?

Close call last week in Charleston. The anchor line that trolleys the anchor back and forth along the boat broke and there was no way to repair it without retreating to the shore. So I paddled over to the broken up dock at the barge, Reid, and the boat suddenly slid out from under me as I scrambled awkwardly to get atop the wood. All of a sudden I’m chest deep in 10 feet of water while clinging to the dock. I was wearing rubber boots and without my PFD I would’ve gone down like a stone.

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My anchor was a lifeline attached to an oyster-encrusted stanchion on the barge where only moments before I thrashed in chest deep salt water when Miss Emma slipped out from under me.

I worked my way around the dock to an oyster bed and was able to get onto the angled dock to empty my boots and take stock of what the hell just happened. Miss Emma drifted over to a nearby tidal creek otherwise I’m in for a long, long walk back to the put-in spot. So I retrieved her and was back in the saddle. Mercifully it was a warm day so this drowned rat dried out pretty quickly. What a moron. But it’s further proof that the salt water, not the kayaker, rules. It was quite the sticky predicament when I first went under. A couple of nice size black drum made the trip home with us. Otherwise, not much was boated.

I guess there’s no denying we’ll be in for adventurous next four years, and that’s not said with a lot of optimism. He seems to see the U.S. as one big deal making opportunity. Yeah, he can badger some firms with his tactics, but where’s the strategy in that? Already the Europeans are thumbing their noses at him. Even if I had a TV I wouldn’t turn on the inauguration. He’s really a punk but he’ll bring a new, harsher definition to the term ‘bully pulpit.’ Hopefully, he’ll offend a larger and larger circle of people to his detriment. What’s particularly worrisome, however, is his ‘screw you’ approach to health care. How can he and the heartless GOP shove tens of millions of people out in the cold and effectively abandon them? I’d like to think the electorate will eviscerate these hoodlums at the mid term elections but somehow their spin machine will be in full-spin mode. I won’t be holding my breath.

Love, Dad

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A snow event that wasn’t … re-thinking a house sale … and a really sharp knife


 I stopped riding Ellen and Reid some time ago about harsh, harsh winters in the South. They didn’t see the humor in ‘bitter cold’ 40-ish degree temperatures here that passed for a deep freeze since they live up North where the cold is real and bitter and unforgiving. 

But it is funny when people make frenzied runs to grocery stores to stock up on necessities and schools close at the mere hint of snow. 

On the other hand, perhaps this time next year I’ll be the one wishing for the ‘harshness’ of Charlotte’s arctic freezes.


January 9, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Our panic-inducing snow event passed without incident over the weekend. We got, at most, a skiff of snow in my part of Charlotte although in the northern ‘burbs they did get a few inches. Still, the whisper of snow in any amount literally threw the town into a major end-of-the-world food buying tizzy. I went to Harris Teeter last Thursday to get the usual and normal supply of bananas and lettuce, and without exaggeration the checkout lines were 7-10 deep, including the self-service lines. It was utterly bizarre to see carts filled to the gills with staples such as milk, bread and – bottled water? I can understand people wanting beer and wine, but water?

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Uh, here’s an unretouched photo of my impassable driveway the morning after Charlotte’s snow event. The city can now stand down.

Schools down here also closed at the drop of a hat. At the mere mention of snow, kids were out of school. It’s hilariously crazy. Can you imagine what an inch or two would do to Minneapolis and Chicago? That’s not even a good start to a storm. It would be business as usual. But not here. Here’s what’s really weird: folks down in these parts drive the same SUVs with the same tires and four wheel drive as you guys motor around in up North. The one thing that isn’t normal are the bone-chilling temps. So I did break out the fleece and such and made a big pot of chili. Perhaps that just got me ready for the weather I’ll face up in Des Moines.

Speaking of that, my listing agreement expired at midnight on Saturday. My Realtor, Laura, sent me several messages about re-upping the agreement. I’ve yet to respond. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what direction to take since the only bids to walk in the door were when I listed the house on Zillow. It doesn’t seem to be a price issue; indeed, the home across the way just went on the market last week at a higher listing price per square foot. No other Realtors have balked at what we were asking so I’ll likely stick to my guns on it. My option is to find another, perhaps hungrier Realtor or stick with the big dog, Allen Tate Realtors, although I’ve honestly been disappointed Continue reading

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Welcome to 2017 … FLA drivers, an error in judgment and time for a mentor


Not a whole lot to say here. Another week, another letter.


January 2, 2017

Ellen/Reid: 2016 seemed like a bad dream/nightmare, and then I woke up this morning wondering if 2017 will be even worse. You know what I’m talking about. I didn’t bother to concoct any resolutions, other than keep-on-keeping-on since none of the others seem to stick anyway.

Reid, it was really great to join you and the Kigin’s and Betty for Christmas. Please relay that to Liz. Their generosity was over the top. I’m sending notes to Donna and Tom and Betty today. I went online last night to send them some wine (pinot noir) through Vivino as a ‘thank you’ but since there was no facility to mix and match bottles before the checkout phase was reached, I can only hope they like the six of the same vintage that will be on their doorstep in short order.

The drive from Marco Island to Hilton Head can only be described as onerous. Never, ever, have I experienced so much heavy traffic. Not that there was anything more than spotty slow downs here and there. It was just bumper to bumper and staying alert and on your toes for that long is just a drain. Floridians seem to drive by a different set of road rules which could be likened to a mixed martial arts match: anything goes. No use of turn signals, lane changes on a whim, and ‘The posted speed limit does not apply to me.’ Hilton Head, however, was great. It was cooler than normal but still great fun. The timeshare was one of the best in recent years in terms of style and newness. My friends Luke and Lynn stayed with me while Sondra and Jody got another unit at the last minute since there would have been too many men in a single location.

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Hilton Head the week after Christmas was great fun with friends (from left to right) Lynn, me, Luke, Jody and Sondra. I had one (okay, more than one) error in judgment but a box of chocolates (two for Sondra) for each helped me atone.

Jody also had a family obligation on the island so we didn’t get to see a whole lot of them but it still worked out pretty well. It didn’t take long to realize, yet again, there’s not a helluva lot to do unless you like golf or tennis or stroll the beaches. We did play golf several times and the courses were great. Too bad my sorry game was all-too-easily exported from Charlotte to the island. The low point was a very poor decision by me (after some extended revelry) to walk back from a night spot to the timeshare at a very late hour. I thought I told them I was leaving but since they had no clue where (or why) I split they sent a literal search party by car and bike to find me. What was estimated as a 20 minute walk was really an hour. Most of the next day or two was spent in atonement for causing them so much unnecessary worry and angst. New Year’s Eve was fairly mundane. For the record, Miss Emma and I caught Continue reading

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No letter and fatherly ‘advice’ …


Owing to my extended time on the road for the holidays, there was no letter sent to Ellen and Reid last week. I suppose I could’ve settled into a chair in front of a computer and printer at some roadside hotel business center but that attractive option didn’t dawn on me until the car pulled into the garage. Chalk it up to another ‘… why didn’t I think of that?’ moment.

Today’s letter is finished and will be printed and mailed shortly. It contains some fatherly content – job search advice – since Reid just earned his MS in Digital Information at DePaul University in Chicago. Part of my counsel is fairly straightforward: don’t just shotgun resumes, but network and meet folks face to face since that could likely be the best source of solid leads.

To that end, if you have business contacts in Chicago – even if they’re not in information technology but might know someone who is – please, please, please pass their contact information on to me. I’ll relay it to Reid.

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