Into the Wild and Today Into Canada

25 Aug Going up the Chilkoot Pass in 1995

If all goes well and according to plan, today my brother, brother-in-law, friend and I will be going over the Chilkoot Pass from Alaska into Canada. This will be my fourth time scaling the “Golden Stairs,” which is the most difficult part of the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail that offered quite a demanding deliverance to gold rushers of 1898 attempting to reach the Yukon Territory to stake their claims.

Just four Georgia boys enjoying the wilderness, the history, the camaraderie and a healthy resetting of the senses!

Going up the Chilkoot Pass in 1995

Going up the Chilkoot Pass in 1995

 

My Top 5 Favorite Mistakes

31 Jul

I’m the king of mistakes. Just ask my wife! [cue rimshot]

Not sure if it was a country song, a Sunday sermon or perhaps just a routine counting of my blessings, but I recently got to thinking about the missteps along life’s road and the good that can come from them — luck, character, patience, unanswered prayers, etc.

5. DOUBLE BREAKER: I was hitting my approach to the 3rd green at my father’s golf club and was quite sure I’d be trying again with a new ball as my shot was destined for the middle of the creek fronting the putting surface. Except luck, usually a stranger to my golf game, intervened. I watched in pleasant disbelief as my ball bounced off the bridge spanning the water hazard and then proceeded to carom off a pine toward the green.

4. SUMMERTIME BLUES: For the summer of ’94 all this college student wanted was to leave Georgia and Hotlanta behind for independence, adventure and a resort job out West. Instead I found myself working a poorly planned concessions stand at Tank Top Golf Club in Bremen, Ga., which was a brutal hour or so commute west of the city. I also had a hydroplaning accident and an interstate breakdown trying to get out to the job! The good man upstairs took pity and rewarded me with an Alaskan summer the next year and a Europe-Olympics-Bahamas season after that.

3. THE ROAD MORE TRAVELED: After getting my master’s degree in ’03 the last thing I wanted to do is return to Atlanta, but a job brought me back to town. And the new gig was where I met my beautiful wife.

1-2. SUGAR AND SPICE AND EVERYTHING NICE: Hard to believe that for both of our beautiful babies I was rooting for a boy (Full Disclosure: the Lee name is still in doubt for the next generation). Now that I’ve learned to think pink and play princess there’s no going back!

 

Say What?

13 Jun

I speak, therefore I am… entertainment.

So my boss likened himself to Michael Jordan last week. Yep…

After a good bit of head scratchin’, said noggin got to thinking of funny and far-out quotes down through the years. I love quotables and that’s not just the former/sometimes journalist in me talking. We hold up the legendary “quotesmiths” in politics (Churchill), literature (Twain) and sports (from Yogi Berra to Valvano and Bowden), but to me it’s really about anybody letting their guard down or giving us a look into their mind – beautiful or innocent, comical and/or off kilter – a sampling of their soul.

Not surprisingly, the following quotes fall into the funny category:

“Goin’ crazy don’t make no sense at all.”

My father to a good family friend as we rode a Colorado ski lift up the mountain and plotted the path of, well, most resistance down it. In other words, they wanted nothing of black & blue runs or physical toll. My dad, who still recites this one today given the proper context, has thanked me for catching it before the moment and comment slipped off into oblivion.

“I want my burger cooked well done. Red meat is bad for you.”

A fellow junior golf student had a precocious grasp of nutrition.

“Your car has strange breath.”

My 5-year-old commenting recently in her own very unique way on the aroma in my Saturn, a special blend of old gym towel, still-not-deposited recyclables, empty but unrinsed beer growler and other things not so savory.

“You are slow. I leave you now.”

A college classmate friend and I were hiking from Alaska into Canada in 2001 when we intermittently would come into contact with a lone, foreign male adventurer, who in all of his awesome German bluntness offered this one up when we Americans were deemed not up to his hiking standards. Later on that day, in classic tortoise-and-the-hare fashion we passed “Helmut” who had decided to set up camp a few miles short of our stopping point.

“Did you impregnate my card?”

Did my Uncle Bud mean swipe his credit card when he said this to a hotel front desk clerk? Or did he want his room key card activated? All I know is that Miller Lite was likely a factor.

“We apologize for any incontinence this may cause you.”

The close of a building-wide yet very personal memo from the facility maintenance team announcing a parking lot remediation project at my old office.

STAT OF THE WEEK: A for Advancement

23 May Atlanta

Young and looking to start your career? Look no further than Atlanta, GA.

The Big A takes the top spot in a ranking of best U.S. cities for recent college graduates. The ranking released this week by MarketWatch.com took into account starting salary levels, rent affordability and the presence of major employers (e.g., Coke, The Home Depot and Delta).

If your entrepreneurial spirit decides to stay, it’s good to know your home has staying power.

Biz2Credit recently named Atlanta No. 8 on its list of the 25 best small business cities in America. Ranking criteria included annual revenue, credit score, age of business (in months), cash flow, debt-to-income ratio, incorporation (C-Corp or LLC versus sole proprietorship) and business owners’ personal credit scores.

Just be careful if moving up in your profession or industry requires a lot of moving around town. Atlanta ranked behind only Houston for having the least courteous drivers in the U.S.

Atlanta From Piedmont Park

 

 

 

 

Honey, We Shrunk the House!

30 Apr

To reduce your living space, start with a small house. Add more and more stuff, another baby and winter. Mix in a family virus every other week and stir — crazy.

Welcome to our winter. To say the walls were closing in is like saying a trash compactor is a tad stifling.

With spring has come a brighter outlook and a clearer picture of our house renovation plans, i.e., we’re close to wrapping up the architectural drawings for our home expansion and starting the bidding process.

There should be a word that combines a euphoric, hallelujah-like expectation with the pre-exhaustion of facing a mountain of a major project. I bet the Germans have one…

My mother-in-law recently wondered aloud how we have managed to cope in this jam, cram and scram existence (the latter part mostly pertains to my daily thoughts about our dog, whose 19 lbs. or so really shouldn’t take up that much space). And she grew up in a smaller house with three to four more inhabitants!

We all have heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder. What happens when you go the opposite route, when your living space is akin to a can of sardines?! Despite the cabin fever, the lines for the bathroom, near-crippling injuries from stepping on kiddy toys, the ever-present fear of a single floor creak waking up the baby, bumping into bathroom doors and ducking cabinet ones, our family has almost emerged with love intact and good spatial values.

Just ask my real estate agent Leonardo Da Vinci about the latter: “Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.”

I’m certainly not aiming for weakening of the mind with our house expansion, just the easing of it. Really looking forward to that… after living out of a suitcase/apartment for 4 to 6 months!

Our house is not for sale, but you might say the family is more than a bit antsy for an upgrade.

Our house is not for sale, but you might say the family is more than a bit antsy for an upgrade.

9 Holes to Avoid in Your Master(s) Plan

11 Apr
This Phil Phan's choice of cups yesterday didn't help Mickelson much.

This Phil Phan’s choice of cups yesterday didn’t help Mickelson much.

Going to the Masters is like Christmas Day with golf clubs. It’s a whole nation of inspiration plus really good, inexpensive food & beverage. It’ll make you forget your boss, your aches & pains (redundant?) and your deadlines, just don’t forget about the following details:

• Don’t go unprepared: sunscreen, a change of shoes, clothing layers, etc. I have nearly frozen on the course in the morning and followed that up with a sunburn by late afternoon. Also, don’t forget your own personal mood enhancers: sausage biscuits & James Taylor are a favorite combo of mine on the way to Augusta National Golf Club.

• Don’t visit the apparel shop until the end of the day. You don’t want to lug around merchandise the whole day and if you take those items back to the car you’re only spending more time away from the glorious golf.

• Don’t leave Masters badges within view in your car… because there’s a good chance they’ll be gone when you get back! This happened to my aunt & uncle in 1993 — bless their hearts. My brother and I drove down from college in Virginia and North Carolina, respectively, only to find out that, as a result, there’d be no Masters for us that year.

• Don’t think you can be everywhere for every good shot. Plus, part of the fun and energy is hearing those distant roars booming through the pines and checking the scoreboard a couple minutes later to see who made birdie or eagle on what hole.

• The Masters is the greatest sporting event in the world, but don’t skip out on just any obligation to attend. My brother chose the tournament over his high school baseball duties and got more than a firm benching.

• When using the cross walk to get to the other side of a fairway, don’t get distracted. Looking up at the green during a crossing, my dad nearly trucked Curtis Strange.

• Don’t root too hard for a player/fellow alum. Just because you hear the “U da man!” yell all the time on TV doesn’t mean a marshal won’t dress you down for very vocal support. Or maybe I got pulled aside along the 1st tee box one year for rooting on Lanny Wadkins because “Go Demon Deacons!” is just not as familiar as cheers for Dawgs or Tigers.

• Don’t go on Sunday (if you have a choice). The best vantage point for the all-important final round at Augusta is from your couch. Our family tradition involved going to the tournament on Friday when you could see more players (i.e., before the 36-hole cut). Plus, why not make a three-day weekend out of the Masters! (Confession: I am more than happy to go on Sunday this year, especially here in the DVR era.)

• Bringing your cellphone through the tournament gates is a no-no. Oh, and don’t bring your putter either. I actually had a high school friend back in the day ask me if fans did the latter!

STATS OF THE WEEK: From Out & About to Down & Dirty

31 Mar

1) Atlanta has the most event-going residents.

Last week, Eventbrite released its list of “America’s Most Carpe Diem Cities.” Studying the number of events, including parties, music festivals, classes, seminars and more, that people attend (and other relevant factors), the event ticket sales company found Atlanta to be tops in the event-going category relative to its population.

2) Georgia is the No. 6 most valuable state in America by brand value.

According to the 2014 Brand Finance U.S. 500, there are only five other states ‘more valuable’ than the Peach State, which totals $106 billion. Georgia’s most valuable brand is The Coca-Cola Co., which totals $34 billion for the No. 10 U.S. brand overall.

3) Atlanta loves itself some sex!

According to a study by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, my city has the largest cash-based underground sex economy at $290 million a year. Can we Atlantans at least feel better knowing that only eight major cities were analyzed in the three-year research?

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