I Want to Buy You Flowers

August 15th, 2013

I want to buy you flowers. Even if you don’t like flowers, I’ll still cherish the option. I want to hold your cold hand as we walk barefoot through the park. I want to lace my fingers about your tentative grasp and assure you without words that I’m not going anywhere.

I want to drive two hours to spend ten minutes with you because this is priceless. I want to hear your voice whispered on the wind when the leaves start to die. I want to walk in the rain without music so my thoughts of you remain unjaded by love songs. I want to sing my own love songs in the darkness of an August night.

I want to see you fly because I know you can. I want to be with you at your proudest moments. I want to set you free, with wings upturned and eyes fixed on the stars. I want to be there when you finally introduce your naked body to the world.

I want to get drunk on cheap wine and say too much without regret. I want to show you who I am because no one truly knows and that’s a shame. I want to kiss your forehead while you sleep. I want you to call me baby because that tells me everything.

I want our first kiss to be awkward and beautiful. I want to make memories we can laugh at just because they are real. I want to miss you. I want to show you pleasures that no one else can. I want to get lost in chilly afternoons and care about little else. I want you to sleep in my arms.

When my wisdom is enhanced by wrinkles and I’ve forgotten the pain of my youth, I want to admire you from across a room of strangers. I want to retrace parts of our journey with fondness. I want you to know without question that I have always been yours.

I want to remember everything.

A test

August 15th, 2013

I’ve stumbled into the 21st century, kicking a little but keeping the screams to a minimum. I’ve finally downloaded the WordPress app for iPhone. This is a test entry.

There will be more updates soon. You might want to stay tuned if you have an inclination toward romance and dating, which has been a theme in my life for the past 18 months.

I’ve not disappeared. I’ve just been lazy. But everything is about to change.


October 22nd, 2012

Before I begin, I must make a confession; I am addicted to texting. I rather hate to admit it, but it has become my preferred method of communication. I suppose I’m a somewhat willing slave to technology, and when I look back at my life before cell phones, I really don’t know how I managed to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Perhaps that’s a sad commentary on life in 2012, but it’s true. And I’m not alone. Many of my friends can’t live ten minutes without their phones at hand. I’m not quite that bad. If I’m with my girlfriend, or with my son, or doing anything else that I feel obligated to give my full attention to, my phone is on silent or just put away.

In the past year or so, I’ve noticed some rather annoying tendencies in other people regarding texting. So annoying, in fact, that I feel compelled to write this entry in the hope that many will read it and perhaps make a few small changes in their texting etiquette—or textiquette, as my good buddy North Shore Mike dubbed it. And so, I present to you a few simple rules (OK, call them suggestions if you must) for courteous and effective texting.

1. Always reply if you can
If I were to set aside one rule as the most important, it would be this one (thus, it’s listed first for those who are easily bored and won’t read much beyond this). When someone sends you a text message, they usually want (and expect) a reply. Of course this isn’t always the case. An answer to a question you asked may very well be the end of the conversation. But in most cases, texting is the method of conversation itself. I have had conversations over text message that have lasted eleven hours. With that in mind, it is only common courtesy to send a reply. Even if it’s a simple, “Hey, I’m tied up right now. I’ll txt you later,” it’s better than no reply at all. If it is a serious conversation that requires some thought, send something like, “I’ll have to think about that. Give me a few minutes.” Don’t leave someone hanging. At the very least, let them know you received their message. Texting brings about a slew of new challenges in communication. No reply could mean many things. Don’t make your texting partner guess.

I want to add here, in bold, that it is never a good idea to text while driving. Yeah, you’ve heard this countless times before, but it always bears repeating. If you are in the middle of a texting exchange, always let the person on the other end of the line know that you will soon be driving and will reply when you can. There are several smartphone apps that will convert speech into text. If you must text while driving, use one of these apps (or Siri if you have an iPhone 4S or 5). At the very least, pull over, or wait until you are at a stoplight. People (mostly teens) have died in auto accidents because they were texting. It is best not to do it at all.

2. Be clear
Text messaging has birthed a language of its own. From “LOL” to “STFU”, many internet abbreviations have found their way into texting. This isn’t an issue when your texting partner understands these sometimes cryptic notations, but if you’re texting your mother, “WTF mom, IDK about that. TTYL,” is most likely not appropriate. Also, and even more important, are typos. Granted, these are often caused by “fat fingering” or auto-correct if you have it enabled, but they can twist your text message into something you never intended to say. Whenever possible, proofread your message before sending. Texting is meant as a convenient way to communicate when you can’t or don’t want to actually call. If your messages are unclear, the purpose is defeated, since now your partner must attempt to decipher what you were really trying to say. They may even have to ask for a clarification. This wastes time. Oh, and one more thing; “LOL” is not punctuation. Resist the urge to use it at the end of every message you send (this is more common than you might think). In fact, if you can refrain from using it at all, so much the better.

3. Don’t be too wordy
Test messaging is nothing like writing a novel. Your friends and family don’t want to spend ten minutes reading a single message. Unless it’s a serious conversation where you both have a lot to say, keep your messages to a sentence or two. Some carriers will break up long messages into parts, and often these parts are not delivered to you in order. One particular friend of mine has a propensity to send text messages of epic proportions. Her record so far is a 26-part message—sent to me while I was driving. Needless to say, it was quite a while before I was able to read and reply. Be concise and clear, and your conversations will flow as they were intended.

4. Don’t drunk text
As we all know, alcohol reduces inhibitions and causes many of us to say all sorts of outlandish things. If you know you are going to be drinking, it may be best to leave your phone in the car or on the charger. Don’t face that Saturday morning regret when you realize you sent a text to your ex-girlfriend at 3 A.M. informing her of your intentions to undress her and “do that thing you used to do.” For that matter, stay away from Facebook and Twitter as well. Nothing good can come of it, and you will most-likely find yourself in a world of embarrassment as you try to explain the previous night’s behavior. Trust me, I speak from experience here.

5. End the conversation
If you are engaged in a conversation over text message that is more than just “Hey, I’ll be there in 5″ or “Where are you?”, it’s simply another matter of courtesy (see rule 1 above) to end the conversation in a manner that informs your partner that you are finished. If he says “good night” to you, reply with the same. If you’re tired and ready for bed, say something like, “Hey, I’m beat. I’m gonna hit the sack. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Even if you’re going to be tied up for a few hours, let her know that you are going to be busy for a while and you will contact her at a later time. No one wants to be left wondering what happened to you. If you simply stop replying in mid-conversation, your partner may fear the worst, and that’s just plain rude. Ease his mind and let him know you can’t talk at the moment.

Simple texting courtesy will go a long way in improving your communications with others. Following just a few of these guidelines will make it much less likely for someone to misunderstand or be angry with you when it wasn’t intended. I try to follow these rules daily. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone did? This is an exciting time. Communication methods have evolved quite rapidly over the past ten years, and often we find ourselves neglecting common courtesy as we utilize these new ways to talk to each other. Don’t lose sight of the fact that talking to one another is essential in everyday life. If you constantly abuse the technology, you may find yourself wondering why no one sends you text messages any more.

I Wish I Would Have Counted – A Brief Look Back

December 3rd, 2011

How many miles have I walked? How many girls have I kissed? How many times has someone told me they loved me? How many hours have I spent driving?

On my Friday evening commute home this week, these were the thoughts floating around in my head. Deep in  nostalgia, with Cutting Crew playing that song I still love on the satellite radio 80s channel, I began to wonder about the statistics of my life. What if I had counted . . . everything? I could look back and instantly know how many Taco Bell burritos I’ve eaten, how many times I truly cried tears of joy, and how many pennies have passed through my hands.

Others may not care, but me; I constantly judge myself. I thought about how wonderful it would be to quantify everything in my life. A month away from turning 44, I’ve had an amazing life. I’ve achieved much (though I have so much more to do), I’ve failed more times than perhaps I care to remember, and I’ve tasted victory—sometimes so sweet I could have died happy, right then and there. But how well have I really done?

I have a house and a good job and a future that is becoming brighter every day. I have a wonderful son and an amazing wife (more on her in an upcoming entry). I have the best Golden Retriever on the planet and my list of friends often seems endless. But if I look back on my life thus far, would I be happy with the numbers?  Would I be pleased with how many doors I’ve held open for strangers? Would I be shocked at the number of beers I’ve consumed? And how disappointed would I be to discover that I’ve paid far fewer compliments to others than I could have?

And how cool would it be to look at a video record of any moment of my life? To relive the birth of my son; my first 300 game when I was 18; the first time I had sex (well, maybe not that one). It would be invaluable to me to be able to generate strong reminders of what I am capable of, both in success and in failure. I can think of no greater motivator.

I am on the verge of some serious changes in my life. It feels as though a brand new chapter is about to begin. A career enhancement that I hope will turn into a brand new career itself. My re-entry into bachelorhood (as I said, more on that later). New beginnings and big plans. And with that outlook comes this retrospective. Have I learned enough not to make the same mistakes?  Have I discovered keys to success?

I don’t know.  If only I would have counted.

A Dream from the Parking Lot Siesta

September 17th, 2011

I work in a cubicle.  Eight hours a day, five days a week.  Escaping the confines of those 1-inch walls, even if it’s only for an hour, is a priority that I rarely sacrifice.  A few days a week, I find myself at a secluded and shaded parking spot.  I will often nap for perhaps 40 minutes here.  It is quiet and peaceful and I awake feeling somewhat recharged and ready to finish the day being relatively productive.

On Thursday of last week, I was taking such a nap when I was visited by the dream that I will recount for you now.  Although I don’t usually retain detailed recollection of dreams, this particular dream affected me so much that I wrote down what I remembered upon my return to the office.

In the dream I was in my car sleeping. I awoke to the sound of laughing children. I opened my eyes to see two boys, about 12, and a black girl who was the same age but slightly taller. The boys were gathering pebbles and throwing them at the girl; not out of malice but in fun. The girl was trying to avoid the little stones but didn’t seem to mind too much either. We were on an abandoned road similar to where I often nap, but it was wider and longer and somehow drier but with more trees. The trees were very tall and colorful.

I got out of the car and stood still with my hands about 8 inches from my sides. I was lifted slowly into the air. It wasn’t a forceful thing, but I wasn’t in control. It was effortless and slow. The girl watched as I rose higher and higher, lightly brushing the leaves as I went. My body was slowly rotating and then slowly turning and flipping as well. I descended and came close to the ground but I was facing upward. When my back was parallel to the ground, I started to rise again. As I did, my body went upright, as if I was wearing a jet pack.

This time I went much, much higher. Above the trees. There was no town or anything, just woods and fields and ponds. I was propelled forward and started flying above the landscape at a fairly high speed although I remained completely relaxed and in awe of everything. I flew over small mountains just below the clouds. I saw animals and plants and beautiful colors. Big fluffy clouds and the sun was shining. It was like I was being shown everything, as if I was being controlled by a silent tour guide. At one point during my flight, I glided past three hot air balloons.  I don’t recall seeing people in them, but they seemed to be a natural part of the environment I was drifting through.

I covered a lot of distance and kept turning and twisting as I went. Finally, I began to approach the ground and I thought I was going to crash. Immediately I was slowed down. I glided over a galvanized fence with small chain links. It was surrounding a marshy swamp area. My feet were brushing the reeds that were pushing up out of the water everywhere.  There was something sticking up out of the water that looked like a four-foot long knife with a black handle and a shiny blade. As I reached for it I saw that it looked more like something torn off of a car. Once I touched it, I was lowered all the way down until I was standing in the water.

I was very near the fence. I looked down and saw a tag on a stick that was coming out of the water. It was the same kind you might see in a public garden. The kind that labels the plants and trees. It said “AIR”. The fence went on as far as I could see. I didn’t know where I was but I knew I had to get over the fence. As I approached the fence I realized I was wearing black aqua socks, and I didn’t really feel much of the gushy bottom. The fence had been bent and pushed in many places as if people before me had managed to climb over it. Before I tried to climb over the fence, I could feel my wedding band start to slip off but Ii managed to keep it on. (Note that this is very odd because I’ve not worn my wedding band for years as it is now too small.) As soon as I touched the fence, I woke up.

This dream has been on my mind for days.  Everything in it was so calm and peaceful and beautiful.  I don’t know what it represents (or even if dreams actually represent anything at all), but I thought it was something I could share with friends.  So, here you are.  All comments welcome.

The Seasons Simplified

June 1st, 2010

I have been saying for a long time that a much simpler definition of the four seasons would benefit those of us who care about such things.  And fortunately, today is a perfect day to explain my theory of how the seasons should be, because, eh hmm, it’s the first day of Summer (by my theory anyway). Granted, I doubt I’m the first to come up with such a simple scheme, but I’ve not read this stuff anywhere else, so I’ll just claim authorship of the idea and hope I don’t get sued.

There are twelve months in a year.  There are four seasons in a year.  Four divides into twelve evenly (how convenient).  Thus, each of the four seasons should be exactly three months in duration.  Let’s start from the beginning.

Spring – March 1 – May 31
In Ohio, Spring can be  (and usually is) finicky.  I’ve seen 70-degree weather, as well as snow, in all three of these months during the 42 years that I’ve lived in the Midwest (and dammit, I wish they would stop including Ohio in the Midwest.  This is the lower end of the Northeast, and now I think I might have material for another blog entry).  Still, Winter has usually come to a close by March, and one starts to feel refreshed and alive–or at least, the feeling of urgency to clean out the garage.  Why wait until all the snow is gone?  Start now!  Perhaps our reluctance to continue Winter will force the bad weather to subside.  And to quench your thirst on these warm Spring days, try Magic Hat’s Vinyl Spring Lager!

Summer – June 1 – August 31
This is self-explanatory, don’t you think?  Don’t tell me Summer doesn’t start until the 21st.  That’s crap.  I don’t really care what the planets are doing and where the sun is and all that scientific stuff.  All I know is that I’m hot when I’m outside, the air conditioning is on inside, and the local grocery store is stocking Pyramid Curve Ball Blonde Ale It’s Summer.

Autumn – September 1 – November 30
The kids in schools public and private are now back in class.  This is the first and most-important indication that Summer is now over.  Sure, it might still be warm out, but the leaves are just waiting for color change and eventual death by falling.  No one is taking vacations in September.  We are all back to work and getting ready to enjoy the greatest tradition of Autumn; football.  This is my favorite season of the year in Ohio.  It’s not too cold, the colors are beautiful, snuggling is no longer a sticky mess, and soon, The Great Lakes Brewing Company will release the new batch of Christmas Ale.  It doesn’t get much better.

Winter – December 1 – February 28 (or 29)
Ah yes, the season of ice, slush, sniffles and auto accidents!  The snow is in full force, and no one (except for our crazy children) really wants to go outside for any reason.  Wait, skiing is fun.  As is sledding if you do it right (that’s a whole different topic).  Oh, and ice skating.  And hockey.  Come to think of it, there are a lot of reasons to go outside during the winter.  Promise me something, though.  Be a man and use a snow shovel.  Do you really need to drop $500 on a snow blower?  Burn off the winter weight and get your lazy ass to the driveway.  And bring the kids.  I mean, why did you make them if they can’t help you with the chores?  And when you’re sitting in front of the fire later, watching football and munching on Combos and Ruffles with French Onion dip, be comforted in the fact that Spring will arrive less than two months after the Super Bowl.

And there you have it.  Could it be easier?  No more pondering the Vernal Equinox.  No more concern over when the Winter Solstice might take place.  Four simple seasons, well-defined, simple to remember, and hey, they make sense.

Now go forth and pass this along to friends and family.  Never mind the confused looks of derision you might receive.  You know this is the way it should be, and that’s all that matters.

Fork In the Road

April 21st, 2010

Today was an excellent day for opportunity.  Yet, these opportunities created a unique type of confusion.  It’s a confusion that I’m not accustomed to.  I may finally have a choice of work and career.  This could be life-changing, and I am at a crossroads on how to handle it.

Let me start with this.  I have been unemployed from a regular job since June 1st of last year.  Aside from the occasional freelance writing or editing job (very few and far between), my only source of income has been my weekly unemployment checks and whatever money I make at dart tournaments.  Something must change, and change soon.

I have been working on a new freelance client, and I believe I will be awarded the contract shortly.  I also hope that this contract might lead to more contracts from the company, or perhaps even a full-time position.  Alas, the company is in Florida, and there is no possibility of re-locating there.  Still, it is a nice opportunity, and I look forward to the work.

While checking my email this morning, an old friend of mine popped up on Facebook chat.  Turns out he owns his own company and may well be looking for a freelance writer soon for technical documentation and marketing materials.  We’ve just begun talking, but I believe there may well be a future business relationship there.

So far, so good.  But wait, there’s more.

On my drive back from lunch with a friend, I received a phone call from Melissa, my account manager at my old contracting company.  I had been contracted to EDS and Symantec through this company for three years before my last contract was not renewed last June.  She told me of a technical writing opportunity that just became available  in Austin, TX.  It’s a six-month contract with the possibility of extension, and the client is EDS (now an HP company).  Having several years of technical writing experience with EDS, I’m pretty much a lock for this contract if I choose to take it (and if they like my resume and want to talk to me).  There are logistics that need to be evaluated, of course.  I’m not able to spend six months in Austin away from my family.  But the pay is very good, and most of the expenses are covered.  The time and travel can be worked out if the company is willing.

Still more . . .

A close friend of mine is an Enrolled Agent (tax professional).  He owns his own business and has become successful.  So successful, in fact, that he now has more work than one man can handle.  He is ready to bring on a partner, and he has asked me to be that partner.  This is a complete career change for me, but one that offers–as long as the IRS doesn’t change the tax code to something simple–a virtual lifetime of employment.  The plan is to re-locate the company to Las Vegas (there are many good reasons for this, but I will not mention them here).

After living in Las Vegas for two years, and then moving back to Ohio, my wife and I have agreed that Las Vegas is truly our home.  We are comfortable there, and we feel like we belong.  Thus, it has been our goal to move back to Las Vegas for good.  Of course, this takes financial stability, and right now, that is something we certainly do not have.  The move to Vegas wouldn’t be necessary until early-to-mid 2012 (possibly even later with some back-and-forth travel), so we do have time.  There is much to accomplish in this time, however.  I will need to continue my studies and pass all three parts of the E.A. exam (grueling to say the least)  I will also need to acquire more freelance work, or a permanent position with a company through which I can gain stability and be able to fully prepare my family for the move.  This is of the utmost importance to my wife, and it is something I don’t take lightly.

So here’s the confusion.  What, exactly, do I do?  Until I talked to my tax accountant friend today, I was set on becoming a freelancer permanently.  With enough clients, I will be able to make a steady and comfortable income.  I’ve been told there is plenty of work out there, and I have taken steps to find it.  And a freelance career would be nice, but the thoughts of moving back to Vegas, working for one of my very best friends in a career full of unlimited growth and income, is simply too good to pass up.

Yes, the confusion.  I realize this post has been a rambling mess, and for that I apologize.  So many thoughts and possibilities are running amok in my brain this evening, and unfortunately, the quality of tonight’s entry has suffered.  I thank you for sticking with me this far, and I certainly appreciate any suggestions or insight anyone might have to offer.

With that, I’m going to go rest my brain with a James Bond film.  (And the irony of that is the title, You Only Live Twice.  Is this a sign that a career change is in my future?)

Mr. Popular

April 19th, 2010

Well, not really.  But I did get my first spam comment today.

That counts for something, right?

I suppose it’s time to update.  Perhaps after my son goes to bed tonight I will write something worthy of comment.  Or, at the very least, more spam.

Stupid Things People Do – Part 1 The Coinstar

March 25th, 2010

I have said before that I pick up pennies.  I do.  Parking lots, the floor at the mall, on the ground while taking a walk . . . discarded pennies are everywhere.  It seems that we stopped caring about the penny long ago.  Poor neglected penny.  I have been known to give these copper orphans a nice home whenever possible.  In fact, my son and I sometimes go places just to find change on the ground.  No wonder the dollar is declining; people enjoy throwing money away.

Speaking of change and throwing money away, there is a very strange breed of individual emerging.  Imagine this–there are actually people who save and collect all of their pennies and change “for a rainy day” in an old container of some type.  (Pickle jars work nicely.)  But when that rainy day comes, these misguided souls give away nearly ten percent of their mad money for no good reason.   Poof! It’s gone.  Just like that.  Who are these crazy people you ask?

These are the people who bring massive amounts of change to the local grocery store to dump it into the money-grubbing green monster known as the Coinstar.

As an avid metal detectorist, I find hundreds of dollars in change every year.  I’m not kidding.  Tons of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and even the occasional dollar coin.  And after cleaning the coins, I dump them in my own version of the pickle jar.  It’s an antique glass jar with a glass lid atop which I’ve nestled (OK, I had to jam it on there) a miniature Miami Dolphins helmet.   This jar is also where I deposit all of those pennies and other assorted coins I find neglected all over town.  Oh, and every few weeks, I take a bunch of change out of the little change container I keep in my car and dump it into the Dolphins jar as well.  And it adds up.

Believe me.  It really adds up.

The first time I emptied this jar, rolled the coins, took them to the bank for cash and went out to buy something, I came home with a Sony DVD player (a big deal back then).  Since then, I have made purchases from large to tiny from this “found money”, and it has been a delight.  In fact, my son spent his own pickle money on an xBox 360 last fall.  Of course, he didn’t give away ten percent of it either.

Is it so difficult to roll your coins and take them to the bank?  Really?  Does it make sense to dump massive amounts of change (amounts of which, I might add, the total value is completely unknown to you) into a machine that counts it for you then spits out the green?  Does it make sense to a) trust the machine to give you a completely accurate count, and b) to let this machine take 9.8% off the top before giving you a more portable form of your orphaned coins?  That’s right, I said 9.8 %.  Just for counting your money!

About a month ago, I saw a middle aged man and his significant other wheel a grocery cart into the local store.  This cart was loaded to the top with small boxes.  It appeared that the man was struggling, so I assisted him in moving said cart.  Let me tell you, it was heavy!  Once in the store, he thanked me for the help, and proceeded to push this gargantuan load of little boxes right up to the Coinstar.  He then started to pour change out of these boxes, one-by-one, into the hopper of the machine.

Well, I wasn’t about to stand there and watch the entire process, fascinating as it was.  I went about my business of picking up dog food and beer.  When I checked out, the man was barely a third of the way through his box dumping.  In my best estimation, he had literally thousands of dollars in change piled into this cart.  Yes folks, he struggled to make his way to the grocery store, load up the cart with his change boxes, then unload the cart into this coin-hungry beast.  And his reward for all of this work?  He gets to leave the store with 90.2% of the money he came in with.  Brilliant!

Listen, don’t be stupid.  Roll your change and take it to the bank.  Even if it takes a week or a month to organize (and count) your massive collection, it’s the best method.  Unlike the kids who like to feed stale bread to the carp at the park, your time will be well-spent.  Not only will you know exactly how much money you have, but you will leave the bank with all of it.

That 9.8% you saved by not letting a machine do your work for you might be enough for a six-pack, a steak dinner or even that new Garmin Nuvi you’ve had your eye on.  Think about that next time you see some poor, unwashed creature throwing his money away at the Coinstar.  Oh, and after he leaves, check the floor around the machine.  Chances are,  you’ll be walking out with a free pack of gum.

Contemplating Darts

February 21st, 2010

This morning I have been considering going to the Sunday night blind draw (small dart tournament where you basically draw your partner at random).

My problem is that I have been sporadically up and down in my game as of late, often to extremes.  This has caused a great lack of confidence, and I have been trying to find my way back to my “A game” for quite some time.  My personal record this season has been less than stellar.  My win rate is just slightly above 50% in the Gold Division, and that is unacceptable to me.

Earlier in the season I was spending many hours on the practice board, yet my results in league were not what I’d expected.  For some reason, I seem to experience performance anxiety when it really counts, and I throw in a timid fashion.  My follow-though is lacking gravitas, and I am not throwing confident darts.

I took some time off from my rigorous practice schedule, playing just a little each day, but that was just a temporary fix.  I’ve also changed some things in my game to improve accuracy, but I’ve not practiced enough to perfect them.  Thus the conundrum of my practice routine.  Do I increase practice to break through this?  Do I take some time off?  The answers elude me.

This week is our annual charity tournament.  We have a blind draw on Thursday night (in lieu of league), then events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The tournament draws many good players from all over, as well as some pros.  I know I’m not at the level to beat many of these players, but I really do enjoy these events, and it is wonderful practice to play against players who I can learn from.  I played three events last year, and although I never made the money, I learned quite a bit and sharpened my game.  The tournament also left me feeling confident and determined.  Yet somewhere along the way I lost that.  Perhaps this year’s tournament will help me regain what I’ve lost.

So I guess I’ll play tonight.  I’ve done very well in blind draws over the past 12 months.  I make the money more times than not, and with the right partner, I’ve won quite a few.  And the money is always nice as well.

Apparently, pondering decisions aloud is helpful.