Memory LaneI started blogging years ago. I was single at the time and it’s quite possible that blogging was a substitute for conversation. Perhaps that shaped my writing style a bit. My wife says that I always write as if I’m talking with someone. To me, my writing sounds more like the ramblings of a nervous soul in a confessional booth, although I’m not Catholic and have never, at any point in my life, even sat in one.

Maybe I’m trying to figure out how to properly tell a story. Maybe I’m simply trying to get something off my chest. In either case, I’ve always written in this narrative fashion, as if someone was actually listening, although I keep the comments closed and don’t even know how to check my website analytics. I haven’t a clue who, or how many, may read a particular post, nor do I guess that it much matters. This confessional booth is purely for my own off-putting. Were the priest to fall asleep, his dreams might take him to better places anyway.

With each blog, I picked out or designed a piece of artwork. Nothing elaborate, mind you, but it gave me another creative outlet, an instrument of expression. Perhaps it was my way of trying to summarize the content, which seems entirely backwards. In the case of most art, the picture (or portrait) is worth a thousand words and I’d suppose that rings true because few, if any, of the onlookers chose the same words to describe what they see in the painting.

I laugh when I hear someone explaining art because I can’t get that comment from Sigmund Freud out of my memory and hear him voicing over their elaborate commentary with, “and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”  Wouldn’t it be funny if someone interviewed da Vinci about his work and found out that Mona Lisa was just his effort to silence that over-talkative waitress who poured his coffee at the neighborhood pancake house on Saturday mornings and laughed at his napkin drawings? I’ve often wondered why no highly skilled photoshop wizard has taken the iconic painting and given her a change of hairstyles down through the years. Maybe someone has and I’ve just never seen the gallery. My apologies for the rabbit trail.

As I said, my artwork was nothing elaborate. I’m neither highly skilled, nor particularly talented in that area. Nonetheless, I sought to dream up something that complimented the posting. Since I’ve nothing else on my mind this morning, other than prepping for next week’s Super Bowl Party and editing the author interview I recorded with M.J. LaBeff on Thursday, I thought I’d offer up a sampling of past design ideas, along with some commentary as to what I liked and what, in retrospect, leaves me wondering what I was thinking.

Let’s start with something that became my “Facebook Header” before there was a Facebook:

Original Header

Yep… that thing is hideous, but it was the first image seen when someone landed on my WordPress blog page. I don’t remember where I found it or what I keyed into the search engine that caused it to pop up (I think I was YaHOO-ing at the time). From what I remember, it is an actual location somewhere and I was instantly drawn to its creepy Cyclopsian stare.

EYE-conThis other little square eyeball graphic was lifted from a Hubble Telescope image of a nebula known as The Eye of God. I can’t remember why I thought it was appropriate, but like bell-bottom jeans in the 60’s, it seemed to work.

I started blogging sometime in 2008; let’s say that it was late summer, as that sounds about right… August, maybe September. You’d think that I could go back to the original files, but I’m not quite that organized, nor nostalgic, when it comes to when things happened. I do remember that it was after I had started my career with AFLAC (September 2007) and that the person who introduced me to the social media world did so with the help of a format known as Yahoo-360. That’s where I posted some of my first efforts, although I couldn’t tell you what I wrote and posted at the time. However, I do remember being somewhat introspective, as I was going through some life changes. A 12 year relationship had come to an end and I’d made a late-in-life career change. In 2007, I would have been 46, which seemed late-in-life by all definitions in those days; it was a fresh start for me (which I managed to fill with plenty of missteps along the way).

I think some of my earliest posts had to do with business actually. Having started a new business as an independent AFLAC agent, I needed clients, but I soon came to the realization that I didn’t know any local business people. Networking seemed to be the first step towards meeting the long list of potentials, but I’m basically a shy recluse and going to a networking meeting is difficult on every level for me, to say nothing of the foul mood those things put me in (which sometimes lasts for days). Kathy, my wife since April of 2015 and girlfriend/fiancé for the 4 years prior to that, helps me immensely in this area.

puzzle-pieces combo

Anyway, whereas I found attending networking events to be a nightmarish waste of time, establishing and moderating a networking group was not. If I had a purpose and reason to be there (and as the moderator who organized the monthly meetings, I did), it wasn’t nearly as traumatic. The puzzle piece graphics were a part of a pair of early blog posts about the nature of business referrals. The posts were totally my slant on why referrals worked and why they didn’t, and they served to set the tone for the development of what would become, through the hard work of many dedicated members, the largest networking group on Amelia Island. I think we topped out with a monthly attendance somewhere in the 70’s, while the local Chamber of Commerce was still playing host to a dozen or so people at their Speed Networking events. That’s a credit to the members, not me.

goldfish-pond combo

Another pair of blogs addressed more personal issues. The goldfish pond photo is actually a snapshot of a small goldfish pond that came with the house and resided in the backyard, just outside the windows of the breakfast nook area. That blog post was about acclimation and featured the trappings of become so accustomed to our surroundings that we fail to realize the slow, but steady, deterioration. That may have had more to do with my failed relationship than anything else at the time. It was a given that I had played a major role in it becoming the disappointment that it ultimately was for both parties. That’s not to say that it was salvageable, nor should it have been salvaged. It was quite possibly a relationship that I never should have been a part of in the first place and parting ways was in the best interest for each of us. I know that for me, even though there were some crappy times in the years that followed, I never for a moment regretted moving on. That pond image eventually morphed into the two tigers in the snow. That blog is about something completely different, but somehow it grew out of the original thoughts. I still have the original text from each and couldn’t begin to fully explain how they are related.

Red Sox Combo

Baseball has long been a love of mine, so it’s only natural that it got me through some solitary times. Again, personal issues were in play… the feeling of what really mattered and what didn’t. The original posting came with just the baseball in hand photo; later on a quote, some fancy text for the title, and that creepy Cyclopsian Eye logo graphic was adopted. This blog grew out of some dialogue from one of my all-time favorite movies, For Love of the Game. The 1999 flick, starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, and John C. Reilly, just spoke to me. Say what you will about IMDB giving it a mediocre 6 point 5 stars, I think it’s a classic and, although I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, I still tear up in certain sections. The movie is magic. The blog is about responsibility in the moment and probably far less than magical.

Before this blog becomes a book, and literally it might over time (I’ve got 10 years of blogs from which to work) let me offer up one last flashback. This too was one of my early blogs and it was actually built out of my experiences as the manager of CompUSA’s Tech Service Center in the final year of my run with the company. Having stood complacently by as the carpet was yanked from beneath my feet by the corporate restructure of Circuit City, I opted to take every promotion offered in my next gig, CompUSA. In just a short number of years I moved from computer salesman, to shift leader, to assistant sales manager, to accepting a position as the manager of the Tech Shop in the store across town (I mean Jacksonville not Fernandina, which isn’t big enough to even have an “across town” area, but that’s another blog entry).

I was told that the store to which I had pledged my allegiance was the place in which CompUSA careers went to die, but when I interviewed with the new store manager and was offered the job, there was something about what I heard that made this sound like a good opportunity. Ultimately, my instincts were right. The tech shop of a CompUSA was a store within the store. It had its own P&L and basically operated more as a business partner of the main store than just a department.

In the five years prior, this tech shop had consistently finished in the bottom 15 of CompUSA’s Tech Shop financial rankings out of hundreds of stores. For five years they had never surged even for a brief moment above the bottom 15? What in the world was the issue? Having looked at the generic business profile, I wondered how any tech shop could possibly lose money, yet this one had… for five straight years.

I spent the first two weeks looking at nothing but the processes and realized very quickly that I had inherited a very talented crew of techs who were loaded with personality. I loved working with these people. They were smart, creative, and very entertaining. This was an incredible opportunity. At issue wasn’t so much what was done, but rather how it was being done. It was an attitude issue.

The attitude wasn’t foul, it was more complacent. The work environment had become stale and as such, business suffered. The apathy had developed naturally because no one was invested in the potential for the business to thrive and the indifference led to a disastrous P&L that was nothing short of terrifying.


Every member of the crew I inherited stayed on board. Over the next year, only 2 new people were hired. They weren’t replacements; they became needed as the workload increased. The only thing I changed over the course of that year was a short group discussion and the poster that you see above which says, “Everyday you can choose your attitude.” The message in the group meeting was simple, “If we’re going to do this together, I want to go home at the end of the day and feel like I’ve had a good time doing it. Bring me all of your personality each day and the absolute best attitude that you can muster. My door’s open any time you want to talk about anything.”

Gradually, people began paying attention to every detail of their job and enjoying the discovery. In 12 months, that same group went from bottom 15 in the company to top 5 in the company, leapfrogging hundreds of stores in the process. The poster dates to 2006 and I took it with me when I accepted my next promotion, but never used it again. The second logo was inspired by the poster but dates to the wonder years of Windows XP. I still plan to put that one on a coffee mug at some point because it reminds me that every day when I wake up, the choice of direction is always mine.

On a side note, I gave no thought at all to the image that I posted with the opening paragraph. I’d finished my last cup of coffee and just opted to roll with the first thing that popped up when I typed “Memory Lane” into Google Images. My apologies for the laziness. I’ll make it up to you another time; I promise.

Family Read

to preview my latest book

Comments are closed.