Five Years? Really?

Wow – I knew it had been a long time since I visited my own web site, but I didn’t realize it had been almost five years. A lot has happened since then. Just to bullet-point the high points:

  • We moved from Missouri to Mississippi in May 2015. I took a position as Quality Manager with an outsourcing facility (read pharmaceuticals, sterile injectables) for hospitals and clinics. A big driver in moving was to escape the frigid north and the requisite snow. Got tired of shoveling that stuff. Another motivation was to leave the world of medical devices and get back to pharma, where, I believed, the culture was less money-oriented and more quality-oriented. I was successful in finding that culture.
    • While Mississippi was not going to be our “forever” home, and we knew it not long after arriving there, the job was lucrative and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Getting into clean room activities and once again being part of solutions rather than just standing on the sidelines while the bean counters and penny-pinchers drove decisions was satisfying and I thought that job would be my last before retirement.
    • Not to be, as it turned out. The company laid me off in June 2017, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I refused their tepid severance package and its terms and went to work for a competitor, this one located in the Little Rock, Arkansas area. This area is more to our liking and I took my new position as QA Manager with relish, enjoying the people with whom I worked. A big relief was the lack of snow.
    • But things changed again when I realized that the commute (anywhere from 35 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the amount of idiocy on the roads) really soured me on the daily grind. Again, the people and the circumstances were great (though I had to absorb a significant salary reduction in the moving from Mississippi to Little Rock), but I just could not get past the commute. So after discussion with Margaret and a pending annuity that was scheduled to kick in, I made the decision to retire from full time work in September 2018.
    • I continue to work part time for the same company, but in an hourly role in an entirely different field, but one in which I have a very healthy background – Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) which is yet another aspect of regulatory scrutiny that most companies have to endure. OSHA was very aggressive while I was at Cardinal Health in Missouri, and I had personal experience in setting up EHS-compliant systems, which is a critical need for my current company. So I work 16 hours per week and have significant flexibility with working at home and/or at the office, pretty much on a schedule that I choose. Pay isn’t that great, but I’m delivering information and systems that are needed, so I have quite a bit of job satisfaction in that.
    • At this juncture, I call myself “semi-retired.” It’s a very nice feeling and I enjoy what I do and the amount of freedom I have.

On the music front, things have shifted over several different areas. Again, my favorite bullet-point list:

  • I found myself playing much more tuba than I really wanted to. And the opportunities just continued to occur, despite my preference for playing the euphonium. So I stopped playing tuba altogether when I shifted to euphonium from tuba in the North Little Rock Community Band, a collection of lots of local musicians who enjoy a schedule of rehearsals every two weeks, rather than a weekly commitment. Nice. I like that. Rehearsals are on Sundays. Again, very nice, as weekday night rehearsals are a struggle when you’re an early riser, which I am.
  • I was invited to play tuba in the Natural State Brass Band, which is a genre that I absolutely love – and I did until my hearing loss precluded my being able to hear the conductor and her instructions. In a word, it was frustrating. I needed an interpreter to tell me what she was saying. That, and my desire to get back to the euphonium, meant that after a season with NSBB, I stepped down.
  • Piano – I have been neglectful in this area. I started working out of a method book for beginning adults, but it’s been stop-and-start with mostly stop. I need to get with the program in this area. When I work on the assigned task, I find it works and I’m able to rely on muscle memory to do what’s needed. The theory and the aspects of reading music are not at all an issue, of course.

Other endeavors:

  • Association of Military Musicians – I am still Treasurer and Webmaster of this august group. And I find myself the Reunion Host for the 2019 reunion to be held in Little Rock in September 2019. That wasn’t planned, but it developed that way due to problems with the event that was slated to be held in Savannah, GA. I’ve hosted one other reunion in 2014 in Branson, MO, which by all accounts was a success. I hope to do well in this one too.
  • Berlin U.S. Military Veterans Association – I was elected Secretary for this group of veterans numbering about 775 veterans (most of whom are older gentlemen with very definite opinions on most matters) in July 2018. Since then, I found myself doing the following:
    • Creating, writing, editing, and publishing three newsletters. This was no small feat due to the fact of the amount of content needed. For example, the December 2018 newsletter consisted of 16 pages of content. No, I didn’t write all that, (quite a bit, yes, but not all) but I had to set it up, design the jumps, and otherwise make it spiffy.
    • Developing a brand-new web site, which includes a member forum or bulletin board. This one was most definitely time-consuming and difficult, due largely to the politics and restrictions of the actual transfer process between the old site (unchanged since 1999) and the new site. Apparently, old dogs don’t learn new tricks and while there were but a few (perhaps a couple dozen) members who frequented the old bulletin board, it was a like a pair of old, comfortable shoes and when those shoes were tossed in the dumpster and replaced by the product that I produced, well, there was some resistance to that. But, things do change and those who choose to change with those things will do so — those who don’t, won’t.
    • Proctoring the annual election. This one was another eyebrow-raiser. Having to do a mail merge of some 634 letters/ballots and hand-stuffing all of that in an envelope is drudgery we don’t often see anymore. Thank God for Margaret, who helped me through this time-sensitive process.

Pets:

  • We lost our beloved Phoebe (Congo African grey parrot) in June 2018 due to a fungal infection to which we simply responded too late. She was 11 years old, far too young for a parrot to die. That broke our hearts. She was a joy and was very much a part of us. We were her flock, and she responded accordingly.
  • But we are bird people and we adopted Jackie, another Congo African grey parrot, who struggled with the situation she had been in, and is since learning how to socialize with people as part of her flock. She had done wonderfully well with an adoptive “parront” in the Kansas City area, and she has continued her development with us. No longer afraid to perch on a hand, she is communicative and vocal, especially in the morning.
  • Zoey – she is a purebred yellow Lab, who is an absolute delight. She’s 5 years old and full of life, and is eager to please, eager to learn, and very focused on her humans. We adopted her through a neighbor, who couldn’t be bothered with her. Zoey routinely escaped the back yard jail she was in, and found herself in our area. Who woulda thunk?

So now that you’re thoroughly bored, and if you made it through this post without falling asleep (kinda reads like a Christmas letter, don’t it?) lol, maybe I can be a little more attentive to this thing.

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