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Remembering

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This is a day I will never forget.  Two years ago, my mother passed away.  I am sorry to lay this heavy topic on you, but it is not to bring you down.  It is to remind everyone that there are still causes that need your support even in the bad economy.

My mother was only 56 when the cancer took her life.  It was a long year starting with her diagnosis in August 2006, which we found it had returned.  She had originally been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in the 90's and fought it off.  After the recurrence, months of chemotherapy, doctors appointments, and two trips to San Francisco to visit her ailing mother, and then attend the funeral, then we had to a face a terrible week.  On the weekend, we went to the outlet mall and had a great Sunday brunch.  By Tuesday, she couldn't get out of bed, and the following Sunday we lost her.

She was a hard working person who worked many different jobs.  Finally, her last few years, she worked in retail and had time to spend on her hobbies.  One she was really good at and that was Chinese art/calligraphy.  She had intended to sell most of these paintings, but we decided to keep them in our family.

These are some of the places that deserve support in the fight against cancer.


I'm sure there are many others, but these get my support every year.  Some places do not just need money.  Many hospices will be happy to get your volunteer time or even a box of tissues.
I don't like to brag.  Wait, I do, but I don't have a lot to brag about right now.  Back to the subject.  Since I was 18, I've had money in the market.  No, I'm not Series 7 licensed, or a screaming (rich) lunatic like Jim Cramer.  I was a poor kid working his way through college and decided to ride the .com financial wave.

And I did it well for years.  Mutual funds at first, then I graduated to dividend reinvestment programs direct from the companies themselves.  I owned Dial Corp, you know, the company that made Dial soap.  Soap!  Finally I got a real investment account from E-Trade.  I became a high flyer with my $1,000 account.  A funny thing happened along the way.  Stocks soared, I earned more and invested more.  All of a sudden, I'm watching stock prices every five minutes. Arrive at work, check messages for a bit, then check My Yahoo page for latest 15 minute delayed quotes.  Run a report, check the prices again.  Go to lunch, come back, check stocks before getting back to business.  4:30 rolls around, check for any end of day deals.  Finish work, head to happy hour and go home to check closing prices.  Repeat.

Then 2008 came around.  Does anybody but the media and those that work in the market check prices anymore?  I just realized I haven't looked at my dismal portfolio since Thanksgiving.  Sure, I hear or see prices in passing, but I'm not hung up on it.  What's the price of Apple today?  Who knows, who cares.  Sure the recession sucks, but it helped me in one aspect.  I saved time checking stocks.  Unfortunately that time got filled pretty quickly with Twitter and other time-sucking activities on the Internet.  Market please come back.  At least that obsession earned me money.
OK, no not really.  First, apologies for the long time between posts.  From work and other obligations, I've only been able to use Twitter too much.  But now on to this story.

Like many men, I'm a big sports fan.  Hockey is not at the top of my list, but playoff hockey is some pretty good stuff, that I'll actually watch on TV or in person.  As I turned on Game 6 of the Washington Capitals vs the New York Rangers on Sunday, I saw the Caps Donald Brashear take a penalty on a hit against a Ranger.  It was determined he elbowed him and Brashear was suspended for 5 games for that incident.  More about that on the other blog I write for, The DC SportsPage.

That incident reminded me of one I had years ago.  Coincidentally, yet again at CVS, but not at the one with the dumbest person, nor the one with my TMI story.  I have to ask myself, why did I leave that job?  So many good stories I could have for blog entries.  Anyways, the reason why I was gainfully employed at CVS from senior year in high school until a few months after getting my college degree (and even PT for another 4 years), was that my bosses liked my loss prevention skills.  I had both the accounting background to detect paperwork errors, as well as the "gut" feelings and hunches on detecting shoplifters.  Easily in one week, I could catch a shoplifter every other day.  On great weeks, a daily shoplifter was not unusual.

So on a Friday off one day, I went to my store to do some shopping and pick up my pay stub.   I did have direct deposit, but back then I really wanted to pick up my pay stub for some odd reason, even though I was salary and not hourly.  I was in the upstairs security office with one of our supervisors, a woman we'll call Elle.  Elle was a woman I'd be scared to meet in a dark alley because she'd beat the crap out of me.  Even though I was higher on the food chain than her, I generally let her have her say because I didn't want to be on the wrong side. In any case, we looked out at the store, which we could see about 75% of from the office.  We noticed this teenager in the personal appliances section who appeared to be a crack addict.  I say appear because I don't know if it was true or not.  He slipped a hair cutting set into his backpack and proceeded to the back of the store and turned back up to head out the front doors.

Elle and I decided to take action.  She would go to the front of the aisle and block him from exiting, while I would come up from behind and grab his backpack.  Our intention was to take the bag and let him go.  As I walked up behind him and grabbed it, he screamed out.  Then I felt a sharp pain in the right side of my face.  The asshole elbowed me.  Back then I was wearing glasses only and they flew off my face onto a shelf.  By then Elle had caught up to us and she blocked his exit.  Through it, I held onto the bag, and apparently it was important enough to him for him to hold onto it, even though I was yelling "Just let it go!".

Since he would not, I for some stupid reason decided putting him in a headlock was the next logical step.  So the crackhead started yelling at me, "Let me go!", as I dragged his ass from nearly the front of the store to the back.  I had to think of the customers...we couldn't let them witness the beatdown I was going to inflict on him.  Apparently adrenaline kicked in as crackhead bit down on my wrist while he was in the headlock.  I never felt it, but Elle told me that I was bleeding.  He managed to cut through the skin and caused me to bleed.  So with my free arm, I gave him non-stop elbows to the head until he stopped.

What seemed like hours later, the cops finally arrived and dragged crackhead off to jail.  I found out later that crackhead pled guilty so we didn't have to go testify.  I proceeded to go to the ER to get checked out.  Asked for an HIV test, which they gave me, even though they said that unless I got it elsewhere, this incident would not show HIV immediately.  The cut they said was minor, but since I had not had a tetanus shot in awhile, the nurse gave me one right in the waiting room, which pleased a bunch of sick waiting patients there.

So I may not be able to skate or take on steroid raging behemoths in the squared circle, but I felt like a hockey player or wrestler that day.

I am a member of the board of a local not-for-profit.  We had our monthly meeting last night and through the course of the evening, I found out I've grown up.  Well, I've always figured I'm old.  A friend of mine said he has an old soul.  I somewhat agree about my own, but I'd like my soul to be a Toyota Prius than a Model T.

So last night was disheartening when at discussing financials I said "I've been using that software for...OMG, over a decade."  A decade... that's more than two presidential terms.  Yes, I've been using that since the end of the first Clinton term.  Nobody else blinked an eye.  See, out of the 20 or so people on the board, and based purely on outside appearances, I think I'm the youngest there.  There is a guy who I think might be hovering on my age, but if I had to bet money, I'd say he's got a couple of years on me.  As the meeting went on, we discussed some pretty high level topics.  As an accountant, numbers don't bother me, but the theories become muddled, and that's where some of the discussion went.

I've always been older mentally than my actual age.  I'm the eldest sibling.  I started working full-time at 17 years old, while going to classes full time.  At work, I'm generally conservative which tends to show much more maturity.  Also, personally, I've held the thought that I got old at about 28.  That was part joke, but part truth.

It's bad when the truth hits you in the face like it did to me last night.  But everyone has to grow up sometime.  I thought I did years ago, but I was reminded differently last night.

Causes to Support

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When I started this site last year, it was meant as an outlet for the interesting things that I see or do.  Entertainment, politics, restaurants or just plain old goofing off.  But seriousness has to settle in occassionally, like my open discussions regarding investments and money.

Today, I am reminding everyone who has a regular job to donate if you can.  In this recession, people tend to hunker down and stop spending on many places, including charitable donations.  Some of those places end up hurting badly for funds to continue their cause.  I am providing a list below and will put it up in some fashion as a permanent fixture on this site, but if you have a place or places to donate money to, please don't forget them.

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