Well the Christmas tree is up and looking good. All the ornaments are hanging in there, as the dogs know realize these are not toys for them to play fetch with. Last year, the first several feet of the tree were denuded by Cami pulling off the ornaments and presenting them to me.
As the year wraps up, it is time to look back on all of it. This past year has been packed with all sorts of events and happenings.
Aside from continuing as ever my commercial real estate brokerage business, I have been up to all sorts of other things.
My great aunt, Hattie, has been doing well since she went to the nursing home, Budd Terrace. Emory Healthcare does a great job, and with the added support of 24 hour sitters, we have some peace of mind that she will not have much opportunity to fall for a 5th time. She fell last November in 2006. Piedmont admitted her into the hospital on a fishing trip. She was livid, and so the nurses drugged her without our permission with Haldol. This sent her into a 15 hour seizure where she squeezed the blood out of my hand for hours. The floor had contagion protocol signs on the other doors, so it was not long before she caught eColi, in addition to pneumonia. The Haldol "burnt" her brain up, so she was transferred for special care. So.. after 2 weeks of intensive care at Emory Wesley Woods neuropsyche.. she managed to regain her faculties, as well as fight off the illnesses. Amazing.
She was dropped by her sitters on the floor, so she had to go into the hospital this past summer. Emory did a great job. The ER, the OR, the hospital care, all of it was top notch. She received 3 pins and a plate in her hip, and she is back up and at them these days. I have to say, Emory's service and level of care was superb, and a welcome change from the careless and rude manner of the staff at Piedmont Hospital.
As for day-to-day stuff, I try to stop by to see her every 2-3 days. We are encouraging her to use a Nintendo Wii. The director of nursing agreed that it would be good for her exercise as well as maintaining her mental sharpness. She likes watching us, not actually playing herself, play golf and tennis. She seems to enjoy the Brian Age game. I hope she will get up the pluck to try playing the tennis and bowling.
In any case, between bingo, Turner Classic Movies, smuggled in Chik-Fil-A nuggets, frequent, nearly daily, visits from all of us, including the dogs, daily activities at the home, and the constant presence of sitters and other staff, she has a reasonably busy life. Ironically, she has a busier life now, than before she fell and broke her hip to begin with 2 years ago. Turner Classic Movies has been a huge thing for her, as she is calm and entertained by the old movies they offer for free and without commercials. She really likes the classics with Jimmy Stewart, Claude Rains, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, etc. She always makes me look up all the details about the movie on the internet to remind her of all the actors names and the other movies they were in.
My brother, Drew, just passed the bar as well as earned his JD degree from Ga State Magna Cum Laude. He threw a big dinner party near Grant Park in Cabbage Town at Jack Sobel's restaurant, Agave. It was a lot of fun. The food and service could not have been better.
About the same time Drew graduated, I finished up a new degree from Georgia Tech, an Executive Masters of Science of Management of Technology, a modern day MBA program involving Venture Capital finance, entrepreneurship, technology change management, globalization trends, marketing, and best practices. I hope to put it to good use by pursuing business plans I have been working on involving Hydrogen fuel energy systems and another that is closer to home in real estate.
A professor from the program encouraged me to pursue a PhD in Economics. I am very interested in Free Market economics, and have several ideas that I have been researching that may offset some of the consequences we are facing with China, outsourcing, and the decimation our country has faced in terms of all of our production going off-shore. We are just now starting to feel these consequences, and I felt it was time to really consider how to go forward. The article is further down in this blog if you want to have a look.
Back in February, I resumed playing rugby with the Atlanta Renegades. I do not know how so many years got away from me, but it will not happen again. It is like having the most favorite thing in your life return and to find it even more fun than the last time around.
This past May, the Old Boys traveled to the Bahamas to play the Freeport Pendragons. In September, we went to Newport, Wales to watch the Rugby World Cup matches in Cardiff. Our team is twinned with the Newport Saracens. Rugby is the Welsh national sport, and World Cup is a very big deal there.
Since the mayor of the city and the chief of the police are both former Saracens.. we had a "fun" time. They threw a huge party at Terra Nova on the wharf in Cardiff. The interior was decked out as a 3 story high frigate ship. To give some idea as to how cool this was, this would be like being hosted at at the nicest and largest place on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.
While visiting, we also played against Caerleon RFC and Newport Saracens RFC on the Roman drilling fields in Caerleon, King Arthur's true backyard and the original site of Camelot. King Arthur's round table was supposedly across the street from the pitch, in a roman amphitheater.
We also watched the Newport Dragons practice, a professional level team.I became pretty badly injured when I decided to pick up the ball in front of a 300 lb. man, who leveled me. However, the good news is the British National Health System, which is grossly under-rated, did a great job. It is just going to take time to heal.
After the lads returned home, I hired a car and drove up to Thirsk, Yorkshire.
As if I stepped through the looking glass, I literaly stepped into the world of James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, the basis for the popular TV show on the BBC. The people would not let me buy my own pints, replacing mine so quickly, I was never without a full and fresh pint of Yorkshire Bitters. The landscape is unchanged from the TV series, and I can well imagine little has changed much since the 1930's when the books was set. The characters in the books still live in the area, as do Tristan and Sigfried Farnon's real life counter parts. I was regailed with tales from the books from the children of the characters or the characters themselves. What a trip!
So.. in lieu of being able to actually play.. I underwent training as a Rugby coach, and am now certified by USA Rugby as a coach. I have been helping out at Kennesaw State, Lassiter HS, and Ga Tech.
On other fronts, I rescued about 10 or so dogs by working as a foster with the Georgia Humane Society. I now have 3 dogs, Chip Conner and Cami.. 2 black labs and a half pint version of a Golden Retriever. They are great, get along with each other, and seem to make a great pack.
After banging on it for about 3 years, I was thrilled to receive an approval from the City of Atlanta qualifying our street for speed humps. You imagine that I was thrilled. Now, we have to get 75% of the property owners to sign the petition, and we will have some measure of safety. Personally, I can't stand speed humps, but they are really the only thing to get people to stop doing around 50-mph in front of our houses, especially since all the traffic tries to use our street as a cut thru. To give some idea, 3 of the 10 worst intersections in Atlanta are next to our neighborhood. We have had one house on the 5 o'clock traffic report, as it was hit by a car.
On the topic of cars.. Last month, I bought a new car, trading in the Volvo.. the Volvo has lived at the shop, so this time I went for something foolproof, a Toyota. I wanted the Subaru Outback, but I test drove the FJ Cruiser, which is a totally different sort of car, and did not look back! the dogs love it, and it is a great off-road vehicle. Check out the video on the Toyota homepage where the FJ literally crawls over huge boulders. It is a descendant of the first car to ever summit Mt. Fuji, so appropriately named "FJ", the modern version of the old Land Cruisers. It is a blast to drive. I named it "Yona".. Cherokee for Little Bear.
On other fronts, I have been trying to help at the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, serving on their board to help raise funds ($2m) for the renovation project. Also, I've been busy serving on the board of directors for the Grant Park Conservancy (donate) with similar goals and where we have secured a Memorandum of Understanding from the City to manage and fulfill the goals of the Master Plan which hopes to restore the park to its original beauty.
Last year, after the Master's program residency in Europe concluded, I went over to London to help my friend with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (Donate). The happy news, in a truly tale of ruthless extinguishment of the animals in the name of palm oil and biofuels, is that the new TV program, Orangutan Island, has been critically acclaimed and generated loads of awareness here at home in the US. The rest of the world has been hard at owkr helping for a few years now, so we here are behind the curve. The best thing you can do to help is to send them some cash, avoid food products containing Palm Oil (10% of the products on the shelves), write some letters to the Indonesian government if you are really plucky, and not wear Patchouli.. the hippies will love that! (The plant this oil is harvested from is also grown on plantations that cause forest fragmentation.)
I have also cooked up a plan to transform a 14 acre area, otherwise known as the Gulch, into the Atlanta International Sports Gateway. I could use a hand this whale of a project, so let me know if you want to help! The project basically involves the following..
• Professional venues would be inserted
into a parking deck that extends from the current
facility under the surface park at the dome.
• The parking deck would hide beneath a park that would entirely cover the top level of the deck structure, similar to the park between the Dome, Philips Arena, and the Ga World Congress Center.
• Each venue would rise 2-3 stories above the level of the
• Tennis for Davis Cup, Track & Field by the AUC,
Football-Soccer-Rugby-Lacrosse multi-use venue- host
to future GSU Football team, Atlanta Silver-backs
Soccer, Georgia’s Div. 1 National rugby teams, and
college lacrosse tournaments.
• The deck would house covered basketball courts, tennis
courts, velodrome, criterium track, and a ground level skate/bmx park.
• Visually, it would blend with Centennial Park as well as
the existing park at the Dome.
• Connect to GSU via underground viaduct following
Wall St. Connect to Centennial by redevelopment
of Spring-Marietta-Techwood garage -
the Gateway to the site. Wide pedestrian footbridges
connect to the AUC.
I was also trying to get a better solution implented for our traffic problems. They have been using, literally, designs from the mid1980's to the early 1990's to alleviate the snarl we exist in. I am pitching a two block "round about" that would completely improve the gridlock in our nieghborhood. Here is a diagram.
Besides that I have been doing CrossFit at my friends new gym, reading some books, and trying to stay on top of my life!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
All the best..
aka.. Samwise “Lizard” Gamghee, el mosquito bandito del pescadors..
Sam really was the only reliable Hobbit.