2014 – Year in Review: Livin’ the Dream

IMG_4063The year 2014 was a marvelous year for me.  As with all years of life, there are always ups and downs, and this year was no exception.  But, I always strive to take a positive vent on things (as much as possible) and there was much positive that happened this year.  Following is my retrospective view on 2014…the Good, the Bad and the Wonderful (no Ugly here…sorry!).  I really was living the dream!

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

Celebrated my 35th Wedding Anniversary

35 Years of "Merried" Life

35 Years of “Merried” Life

July 15, 2014 was a momentous day in my life as I celebrated the 35th anniversary of wedded bliss with my sweet eternal companion Julianne. Even now I am awestruck at how she has put up with me all of these years.  My quirkiness, my playfulness and yes, my more often than occasional thoughtless foot-in-mouth disease.

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

Julianne has been a wonderful example to me and, in the words of my favorite musician Antsy McClain, I truly “Married Up, my life is sweet as a daydream”

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

First grandchild baptism

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

In late May we got to go to Montana to attend the first baptism of any of my grandchildren. This was a wonderful event as Kade Matthews was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am proud of this little guy with a big heart and wonderful spirit.  There will be more baptisms coming in the future, but the first is always wonderful

Seeing ALL of the children and grandchildren

Our family has spread out across the United States (literally coast to coast!), thus making it difficult to see them all at one time.  Not since Christmas 2012 have we all been together.  However, as of Christmas 2014, we were able to spend time with all of the children and grandchildren at one point or another.

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

  • Amaree – Our oldest was living in Shelby, Montana the last time we got to visit her and her family (including husband Aaron and four children – Kade (8), Charlie (7), Olivia (5) and Benson (3))  We were blessed to visit them in May for Kade’s baptism and also spent some time traveling in Montana with them.  It was a wonderful time. In October, they moved further west to Port Orchard, Washington in a job transfer for Aaron. They are loving their new place and I am hoping to be able to go out there and visit in 2015 for Charlie’s baptism.
  • Grampz with Amaree's children.  Fun to see Livvy, Charlie, Kade and Benson

    Grampz with Amaree’s children. Fun to see Livvy, Kade, Charlie and Benson

  • Marissa – Our second daughter Marissa still lives nearby in Lexington.  It is always fun to see her sweet family (including husband Adam and three children – Joselyn (7), Landen (6) and Lyla (3)). It has been a blessing to have them nearby and have the opportunity to hang with those sweet grandkids! Marissa’s wonderful talent as a photographer and videographer always continues to impress.
  • Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Fun with Lyla

    Fun with Lyla

  • Chelsea – Our third daughter Chelsea also lives in Lexington and we get to see her and our oldest grandchild Autumn (9) quite often. Chelsea recently became engaged to Jorge Mendez and is excited about the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit his family in 2015. She continues to do well on her job as a manager at a local Wendy’s restaurant.
  • Seth – Our oldest son Seth lives in Vernon, Connecticut.  He and his wife Holly and son Rockwell (4) have been busy in life, Seth with his engineering job at GE and Holly with her business “Cutting It Cute.”  We really had lost hope of seeing them in 2014, but, they surprised us in late December with a Christmas visit and it was amazing to see us.  They shared some other exciting news (coming soon).  With their visit we finally got to see ALL of our children and grandchildren this year.
  • Three Generations of Kravetz...David, Rockwell and Seth

    Three Generations of Kravetz…David, Rockwell and Seth

  • Solomon – Our youngest son Solomon moved out to Colorado to join some friends in a joint business venture.  Though times have been challenging, the business seems to be picking up steam.  Sol visited us earlier in the year for a couple of days.  It was good to see him and hear of his progress.  He has remained upbeat and seems to be finally finding his pathway in life.  We are proud of him.
  • Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

    Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

Kravetz Family Reunion

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Another great highlight this year was a Kravetz family reunion, held in Galveston, Texas in late June 2014. Though not all were able to attend, I was happy to meet with my sister Sherry and her family, my step-dad Joe, my Uncle Lou and his wife Toni, and many of my cousins.  It was a wonderful four days on the beautiful island of Galveston.  On the way back home I spent an evening at my Uncle Lou’s house in Houston and then a day with my cousin Lewis in Austin, finally finishing up in Keller, Texas with my sister Sherry and her family and my dad, before heading home.

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry's daughter)

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry’s daughter)

Extensive Travel Opportunities

Welcome to Louisiana

Welcome to Louisiana in 2014

As noted above, in 2014 I was able to travel to Montana and also to southern Texas. As is typically the case, I drove and made a vacation/blogging trip out of these.  During the year I visited 18 states and drove close to 10,000 miles in road trip travel (not counting local Kentucky travel).  Detailed blog posts on my travels can be seen on my Less Beaten Paths blog (see actual post HERE). But, I will note below some of my “Bucket List” locations that I was able to check off.

Visiting Oklahoma

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014

  • Paul Bunyan Statue in Bemidji, MN – I have wanted to visit here since I was 8 or 9 and first saw it in a LIFE travel book back in the 1960s. Finally made it in May 2014! (see blog post)
  • Beartooth Highwayon the border of Wyoming and Montana – Supposedly one of the most spectacular mountain drives in America, it has been on my list for many years.  I made it (just barely) on Memorial Day weekend in late May 2014.  I got there a couple days after it was opened for the season and there was still piles of snow. It will leave me with everlasting memories of the beauty of this earth. (see blog post)
  • Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska – One of the “Car Sculpture” places I had hoped to visit, I was able to get here on my way from Montana in late May. It was a fabulous visit! (see blog post)
  • Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

    Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

  • Traversing US Highway 2 across northern US – Though this is still a Bucket List item (since I have east coast to Michigan and then western Montana to Washington coast remaining), I was able to knock off a big chunk of the 2,571 mile highway as I drove from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Browning, Montana (about 1,171 miles) (see blog post)
  • Didn't matter which way.  Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

    Didn’t matter which way. Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

  • Travel the “Blues Highway” in Mississippi – Another of my “Bucket List” trips, I had hoped to someday travel US Highway 61 north to south in Mississippi.  I was able to do this (see blog post)
On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

Meeting New Friends and Old Friends

This past year provided me with the opportunity to visit a couple of old friends from the past and also opportunities to meet a few “new” friends from Facebook and otherwise. Also wonderful and fun to continue old relationships and to also create and foster new ones!  Here are a few:

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs' fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs’ fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Building My Own Business

As reentering the work force has gotten more difficult for me due to my age and extensive experience, I really dug in hard this year to build my own business, Sumoflam Productions, and really strived to make it on my own (coupled with Julianne’s work at University of Kentucky). After learning WordPress through my blogging, I have been able to expand my expertise  and indeed was able to build the business throughout the year with new clients and partnerships. I worked hard to learn more skills and have successfully built a number of sites this year in the WordPress platform. Following are a few of the sites I have done and manage now:

There are a number more and all can be seen listed at My Sumoflam Productions Site

Also during the year I was contracted for website work and broadcast monitoring for Blue Million with monitoring internet broadcasts of the PRCA Rodeo and other broadcasts on the Wrangler Network.

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

And America’s largest marketing producer of high school rivalry football games, The Great American Rivalry Series contracted me to manage their social media, arrange and monitor broadcasts and also manage and update their website during the 2014 high school football season. We did 100 games this year and that made for a busy few months at the end of the year. It was a wonderfully busy time.

Sumoflam in the News

In 2014 I was asked to write a couple of articles for local press.  These were both fun adventures.  The first one was about the playground at Jacobson Park. (See Entire Article here).  I wrote the article and also provided the photos.

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014.  My article about Jacobson Park

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014. My article about Jacobson Park

In November I was asked to write an article about the murals and wall art in Lexington for Ace Weekly magazine. This article was posted online in December and may appear in their end of the year issue.  They also included a complete photo gallery of my photos of Lexington’s amazing street art.

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Also, in December, I was involved with Lexington Nativity Festival, which was sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I managed the website and the media relations for the event. The Lexington Herald-Leader photographer Pablo Alcala out to do some shots and I was included in this and the newspaper gallery in late December.

NativityFest

Nativity Festival Gallery featured in Lexington Herald-Leader. Photos were by Pablo Alcala

A Few More Odds and Ends

I got to visit with my cousin Lewis Goldstein a couple of times in 2014.  Once was a sad affair at the loss of my uncle Jay Goldstein, who passed away in Louisville.  I also got to spend some time with Lewis at his home in Austin after the family reunion in Galveston.  Always good to visit with one of my favorite cousins!

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

In 2014 I really kicked my blogging and photography into full gear.  I had 38 posts on my Less Beaten Paths blog (and over 50,000 page views during the year).  I also posted 20 posts on this blog and have had nearly 5000 page views this year. Between my travel photos and local photos, I had nearly 500 selfies (HA HA….I love these iPhones!).  I also took well over 5000 photos of travels, family, sunrises and sunsets, birds, squirrels, bison, antelope, murals, wall art, sculptures and more. I had nearly 3700 views of my photos on my SmugMug Photo site. I will be doing a post about my favorite photos of 2014 in early January 2015.

My SmugMug Photo site

My SmugMug Photo site

Overall, this was an amazing year.  I am grateful for all of the blessings, all of the adventures and all of the family and friends.

Life is Good

Life is Good

 

The Internet and Me on the 30th Birthday of the Mac

Apple Logo 1984

Apple Logo 1984

Today is the 30th birthday of the Mac computer.  When it first came out in 1984, I was a senior in college in  Flagstaff, AZ. Little did any of us truly understand where we would be 30 years later with computers, the internet and mobile devices.

Indeed, 1984 was NOT like George Orwell’s 1984.

As I write this today in 2014, the computers and the Internet have become major factors in my life and the life of millions of others in the world (but I am still using a PC at home….can’t afford a Mac….). But I can recall when it wasn’t always that way. Indeed, I can recall when there was no such thing as the Internet. There was no such thing as networked computers either.  Even before I knew much about it, there was already some discussion.  Here is a news video from 1981 (from wimp.com) about what would later become known as the World Wide Web….

My first real interaction with computers didn’t occur until1986 when I was working on my Masters Thesis at Arizona State University. I was connected to a large mainframe (which had less memory than my iPhone today) and wasusing a black screen with colored text and using a program called WordStar which was only attached through the network.  I had to save everything to the network.

WordStar Screen

WordStar Screen

In the midst of my work on it, the first portable computers started arriving at the school. I can remember when a Compaq portable computer arrived at our computer lab. iI was kind of bulky, but it was portable nonetheless. Back in those days, we had to use DOS commands to move around and do things. With the new Compaq computers, we were able to save our content on a floppy disk. It was one of those real floppy disks…they were big, about 7 inches, and floppy.

Compaq portable computer

Compaq portable computer ca 1985

A 7" Floppy Disk that we used to save data on the Compaqs and other machines

A 7″ Floppy Disk that we used to save data on the Compaqs and other machines

This certainly revolutionized how school papers were written, for we no longer needed to use a typewriter (such as the IBM Selectric shown below) with auto correct on it, I could use a computer and never have to print anything out until I was ready. Boy was that cool back then! (As a side note, I never dreamed at that time that I would eventually work at Lexmark in the 1990s, which was born out of the IBM Selectric group!!)

IBM Selectric II

IBM Selectric II

By 1987 I was on my way to Japan to work for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Programme).  When I got there, they were still not using computers, but they did have a couple of “WaPro – short for WordProcessors” with convoluted keyboards. for all the Japanese characters. By the time I left in 1991, the “Internet” was available, but it was more like a bulletin board and I had to go to the local Nikkei Shinbun (Japanese version of Wall Street Journal) office in order to search anything. Looking back I can certainly see that it was a precursor to the Internet.

A Toshiba NWS-800 1987 "WaPro" as I saw them

A Toshiba NWS-800 1987 “WaPro” as I saw them

My first real experience with the Internet came when I got a membership to America Online (now known as AOL). (See AOL today) Yes, those people that were around in the 1990s probably remember seeing America Online floppy disks and CDs everywhere in every store and everywhere you went. (I wonder if anyone has kept one as a souvenir??) Seems like at that time everybody became an AOL member and they were able to send email back-and-forth to each other. We were starting to see online apps available and the Internet started to come of age.

AOL Logo circa 1990s

AOL Logo circa 1990s

AOL Floppy - 50 hours for free

AOL Floppy – 50 hours for free

AOL CD 100 Hours free

AOL CD 100 Hours free

Of course, we didn’t have high speed connections back then either.  We paid a high premium to the telephone company to get a 56K modem to hook to the telephone line.  When we were online, we couldn’t receive calls. Initially they were boxes we plugged in, but eventually you could get one added into a slot in the computer and then plugged the telephone line into it.

56K Modem Box

56K Modem Box

56K modem card for plugging into computer

56K modem card for plugging into computer

I can remember how cool it was looking up information on a browser through AOL. I even use the Internet for the first time in the 1990s to plan a trip when we had Barbara from France staying with us. Not everyplace was on the Internet at that time, but I was able to get maps and able to find some information about some places.

AOL Screen 1993

AOL Screen 1993

Windows developed Internet Explorer and a company named Netscape soon provided an alternative to the AOL browser. And search engines were born as well. Back then, before Google, there was AltaVista, which made searching for things on the youthful internet so much easier. I remember using it when I worked for Green Gates Farm as their office manager. Keeneland had just gotten their website up and running at that time. And we were able to look at the schedules and some of the other things. But Internet browsing was still a bit sketchy and things would go down.

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

By the late 1990s I was working as a contractor at Toyota and I experienced my first job working as a computer tech. I was originally hired to manage the printer configurations for Toyota’s Japanese printers, due in part to my work at Green Gates where I had to learn to configure our Lexmark printer to work with an HP Printer Driver (once again, at that time I had no idea that I would eventually end up at Lexmark!!). I soon started learning networking and at the same time the Internet started getting more and more capable. Internet Explorer had became the main browser as Windows grew. By this time AltaVista had been purchased by Yahoo!. Google wasn’t even really much of an entity at that time, though it had been created in 1998.

Despite all of this growth, it seems to me that the main use of the Internet at that time was still being able to email back-and-forth. AOL was still a big thing and everybody loved to hear that “you’ve got mail” whenever they would check their mail.

Since then, the Internet has blossomed.  It is everywhere.  We have mobile devices that access the internet.  I eventually worked at Lexmark, which was borne out of IBM.  I was basically working on the forefront of InkJet printer technology, which boomed in the 1990s but has since faded away.  Lexmark no longer manufactures inkjets and there are only a few companies that do.

Lexmark Inkjet - I actually oversaw the Software testing for this printer

Lexmark Inkjet – I actually oversaw the Software testing for this printer

Today Yahoo! still thrives, but is no longer the “big guy” out there.  That is now Google…indeed, the world seems to have become a GooglePlex….

YahooGoogleAnd of course, what of the 30 year old Mac? Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world and from the invention of iPods (for music) to mobile phones and now “mobile devices” such as an iPhone and an iPad, Apple too has come on its own.  I have a Dell laptop with Windows, but also have my own iPad and iPhone and can’t live without them….

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

Apple iPhone 5s with Internet Screens showing

Apple iPhone 5s with Internet Screens showing

We have come a long way in 30 years!!

David in 1984 at NAU Graduation

David in 1984 at NAU Graduation

David at Lexmark office after losing a bet on a high school football game

David at Lexmark office after losing a bet on a high school football game

David 2014 - Grandfather of nine and photo taken with mobile device and posted to the internet without a modem!

David 2014 – Grandfather of nine and photo taken with mobile device and posted to the internet without a modem!

Today, I work as a WordPress specialist and an internet Broadcast specialist.  I write three blogs.  I worked for a DotCom company (iHigh.com) for four years. I worked for a Printer Company.  I have done Network support. I have worked in a call center providing technical support for Mac users and iPhone users. Indeed, I eat, drink and sleep with the internet and derive 100% of my income from internet related work.  Its amazing what a History degree and Political Science Master’s degree will get you.  I never imagined I would be where I am today….but I am still a geek!!

Apple Logo 2014

Apple Logo 2014