Back Up Gig

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The morning team for my local sports radio is out in Scottsdale this week covering all the Spring Training fun.

This morning they observed the groundskeeper hosing down the infield and remarked that could be a possible fallback gig if this whole radio thing didn’t work out…

Hmmm….groundskeeper….not bad. I could pull that rake-boxey thing around the infield between innings. I could make those straight chalk lines. I could roll out that big ass tarp and unfurl it on the field. Yeeahhh.

I think I’ll add that to my list.

What list, you ask?

The list of “things that might pay less but would be a lot more fun” or also known as “what else I could do if this job doesn’t work out.”

You know, good, noble, hardworking gigs that don’t pay enough but also might let me sleep soundly at the end of the night.

Let’s see…what else might be on the list…

Rinse out girl at the hair salon. Sure, my hands would get a little worn out, but hey, all you gotta think about is lather, rinse, repeat.

Gate agent at the Kona International Airport. I think that explains itself.

Guy who stands there with a “slow” sign, waving traffic past a construction zone. Not that I want to actually *do* construction, just be that guy in the orange vest with the disaffected look waving at cars. I hear it pays pretty well!

Run the Ferris wheel at the amusement park. Sure, there is the occasional barfing incident, but mostly you bring people joy. Collect a ticket, strap ’em in and let centrifugal force do the rest.

Cocktail waitress at a Vegas casino. I may not have the legs for it anymore, so it might have to be one of those “off the strip” and rather dark casinos. But I could so wear a spangly dress and wander around saying “Drinks? Anyone need a drink? Drinks?” I imagine you meet some interesting folks with that gig.

Bartender. You know, back in my twenties, even though I had a pretty good office job, I often thought about going to bartender school so I’d have that as a backup. Bartending is more than pulling a tap and washing glasses if you do it right.

Of course, I’d want to be the kind of bartender who could make pretty much any drink you call out without looking at the book. It would be a point of pride. Good bartending is a lost art.

For a while, I thought I could be a Starbucks barista, but after hearing the tales from my New Mexico friend Natalie, I decided maybe not.

When I’d screw up at work, my boss at Sandia used to say I’d be perfect as slurpee machine maintenance man at the local 7-Eleven. Mainly because I’d matriculated at NMSU (as did he) I’m sure.

But being a 7-Eleven employee has often crossed my mind. In my early days in California, when my money was very tight, my local 7-Eleven had a sign up for a night clerk. I *seriously* considered applying.

Sure, it’s one of the most dangerous jobs you can have. But it’s not so bad, I think. You get to vend many of the most vital food groups in life like beef jerky, 40 ounce malt liquor and day old donuts. This is a key element of the running of our society in a smooth fashion!

Then there is always the ball washer at the local golf course (a job that sounds naughty but isn’t). If I also get to scuba dive in the water traps, that’s a TOTAL bonus!

Long haul trucker. Weirdly, that’s always appealed to me. I suppose that says something about my personality.

Anyhow…there’s a lot more on the list. This is but a sampling. But yup, I’m adding Spring Training ballpark groundskeeper.

I’d have to work my way up to nozzle girl, huh? I’d likely have to apprentice as hose holder first.

The things that stick with you

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Yesterday, in celebration of my mom-in-law’s fabulous birthday, the three of us (The mom-in-law, The Good Man and me), loaded up for a trip to a museum.

It’s become our tradition on birthdays. We have a day of culture in celebration. Memorable days are the best presents ever.

Yesterday’s destination was The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

I was unsure what to expect when we got there. Would it be Jewish artifacts? Would it be art made by Jewish artists?

But I love museums, so I was totally in.

I was fully unprepared for what awaited me. There were just three main exhibits, as the museum itself isn’t that large.

The first exhibition we visited was called: “Our Struggle”: Responding to Mein Kampf

I’d read online how French painter and photographer, Linda Ellia, took on a project to have artists and non-artists alike transform the pages of Hitler’s nasty tome.

From the website:

“The book’s weight in her hands embodied the heaviness of the Holocaust; she felt compelled to respond. After personally altering a number of the pages to express her anger, she invited hundreds of people from all over the world to paint, draw, sculpt, and collage directly on the pages of the book.”

I could not have begun to imagine how tragic, and beautiful, and life affirming the exhibit would be.

There were over 600 altered pages on display, each one with a unique voice, a unique pain, a unique promise.

There were pages done by professional artists and pages done by random people that Linda met in coffee shops and on the street.

The works were sometimes simple and elegant, like the page where every word was carefully excised, leaving only a page of small rectangles. Or a page where every letter was made into a small figure of a person.

In some cases, the works were very extravagant, a train, in exquisite detail, done in watercolors, completely covering the page. Or an intricate felted and painted heart that was then sewed and stapled to the page.

Each page transformed the words of hate into a work of art. Truly, deeply, reclaiming those pages.

I don’t know if my description or the websites description even does the exhibit justice. It was one of the most profound things I have ever witnessed.

And this one will stick with me for a while.

(image of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, from their website)

Sometimes, the cranky old man is the smartest man in the room

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Back in the good ol’ days, that wild time known at the 1980’s, I was full of youthful optimism, and I was attending New Mexico State University.

My undergraduate major was Finance.

Ooh, those were heady days when I wanted to be a stockbroker when I grew up. This was back before I realized that “stockbroker” and “salesman willing to sell underperforming securities to your family in order to make commission” were synonymous.

While the dream was still alive, I took courses at NMSU from some really fine professors with a lot of experience.

Among them, several courses with Dr. Lowell Catlett, now the Dean of the College Of Agriculture, and a noted experts on futures trading.

There was also Dr. Clark Hawkins, a man who had actually worked as a commodities trader on the NYSE floor. In his words, he had tried pretty much every investment vehicle out there…and lost money ’em all.

Dr. Hawkins was a strange little man. Wiry, small of frame and nasally of voice. He referred to himself as “Uncle Hawkey.” He often told us that, as Finance students, we should have our Wall Street Journal under one arm and our financial calculator under the other.

And this was to be done while wearing a tshirt imprinted with “Uncle Hawkey’s Ten Investment Rules”.

At the end of each semester, he gifted us with a copy of the ten rules.

Recently, I was searching around in all the old boxes under my house, picking through my crap looking for things I can sell on eBay.

How ironic, then, that I should come across my framed copy of Uncle Hawkey’s Ten Investment Rules in my search for something to sell for money.

Well, I sat down and read the rules.

Goddamn if Uncle Hawkey wasn’t right. He was right then. He’s right now. Right is right.

Now…snap your Wall Street Journal in place, place your finger over the “future value” button on your calculator and get set.

Here are the rules:

1. Don’t invest in things you don’t understand.

Ah, every single customer of Bernie Madoff…take note!

2. Remember the fundamental mathematical rule of finance.

You know what? I don’t.

I suspect this was about future value and present value of money. He was a stickler on that.

Because I understood and could calculate time value of money, I kicked the salesman’s ass when I bought my first car.

I got that salesguy demoted because he was such a dunce. Thank you Uncle Hawkey.

3. Know the difference between investment and speculation.

Oh I remember this one. I rant about this one. A lot.

Let me just say his own words, with the same shouting nasal tone…

INVESTING IN THE STOCK MARKET IS THE SAME AS GAMBLING!

If you do not think putting your money in the stock market is gambling, then you need to re-examine yourself and your money.

Sure, it may return better odds than Vegas, but not always.

For those of you wailing and gnashing your teeth in the current economic downturn because you had all your money in the stock market, I suggest you get this rule tattooed on your arm and look at it daily.

4. Don’t invest or speculate in financial securities that you can’t easily find quotes on.

Dangling participle notwithstanding….Uncle Hawkey was right.

Once again, I’m calling friends of Mr. Madoff….paging investors of Mr. Madoff….

5. Don’t buy a closed end fund on initial offering.

Oh yes, everyone gets oh so very excited about IPO’s. Especially during the dot com boom of the early 2000’s.

Look how well that worked out for most people.

Right.

But Uuuuuncle Haaaawwwkkkey, people in his class would wail…what about _____ and they’d name some company.

And by tracking the history of the stock price, he’d show them how they were wrong. How the price would be driven up on IPO and would, over time, settle back down.

He recommended waiting out an IPO for a company you liked, and buying the shares after you the initial flurry of IPO wore off.

6. Be skeptical of people who say they can forecast the future.

Well, if more folks did this, then people like Jim Cramer would be a lot less interesting, wouldn’t they?

7. Don’t do business with a man you can’t trust.

Too true. I would also substitute “man” with “company.”

And yet…how many of us do anyway? (*coff* AT&T *coff* Comcast *coff*)

Honestly…it’s getting a lot harder to find honesty these days.

8. If the brokers are pushing it hard, it probably should be avoided.

So simple. So true. Yet….

Paging followers of Mr. Madoff!

(seeing a trend here?)

9. Long range planning gives the dangerous notion that the future is under control.

Oooh, this one hurts.

Remember how great things felt in, oh, say mid-2008? When we all had some money and maybe a big mortgage on a great house and the financial future looked, well…bright?

Yeah.

I broke this one. Uncle Hawkey, wherever in the world you are now, I give it up to you.

You knew. You always knew.

10. Don’t lose money.

Well sh*t. I broke this one too.

However. Slowly but surely, it’s coming back.

Because Uncle Hawkey warned us about short term and long term.

My wise investments will, eventually, find their way home.

And finally….

11. (Bonus rule) Remember Rule 10

Fair enough.

And so…as we now dive headlong into a financially muddled 2010…

May we all remember Rule #10

Thank you Uncle Hawkey.

As a post script…

In my senior year of undergrad, Uncle Hawkey decided to go on a sabbatical from teaching.

He invited us, the students that he had so tortured, to join him for happy hour at El Patio. Ah, that venerable old bar (former home office of the Butterfield Stage).

Uncle Hawkey slapped down a credit card and said we could have all the beer we wanted. Nothing else. Only beer.

Oh, the pitchers flowed that day, and Uncle Hawkey paid for it all.

Maybe all of us college students were, on that day, a good investment.

More from photography class

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So a little over a week ago, I posted a few photos I’d taken from my photography class. We’d been on a day field trip to the cactus garden.

Over the weekend, we again had a field trip. This time it was an evening into night shoot in a town called Redwood City. We started at the CalTrain station and worked our way through downtown.

Hooo boy did I struggle with this field trip. But the good kind of struggle. When the light is changing that fast, you have a lot of technical things to keep in mind. Since I’m just learning the technical things, I’m still pretty slow, so many of the photos didn’t come out worth a dang.

But I learned A LOT, and that’s the point.

Anyhoo, I put up another gallery of my favorite photos from the night, there are just 27 in this collection.

Here’s a few to get you started. Click any of the images to see a bigger size.

Assignment here was to play with the light of sunset as it bounces off objects and buildings.

Assignment was slow shutter speed, I *love* the ping effect of the droplets! Look at the big size to really see it!!

Also a long exposure, I was trying to catch the purple light on the tables and also got some passing tailights on long exposure. I liked the effect!

I have learned so much from actually being hands on out in the field. My assignment now is to keep practicing!