Friday, December 28, 2007

New Profile >>>

Welcome to “The 25 Year Plan.” This, my first blog, was created on December 18, 2005 as a means to keep my writing fresh during the five week break in between the fall and spring semesters at California State University, Sacramento. Entering as a junior journalism major in September 2005 at 43 years old, I was considered a “non-traditional” student. On December 22, 2007, I was awarded my Bachelor of Arts degree in not just journalism, but the dual major of government-journalism. I graduated magnum cum laude just after my 45th birthday - more than 26 years after graduating from high school. This blog has evolved over its short life and now enjoys the flagship position among a number of other sources of my published work. It has become reflective, inspirational and purpose driven. It is living proof that anything is possible and it is never too late. There is no telling what lies around the next turn, but consider this an open invitation to ride along. It’s been a hell of a ride so far…

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ringing out the old...

Just about this time last year, I wrote a year-end review piece. It was a brief reflection on what the year had meant to me. In short, I had an amazing year. I even ranked it among the top-five best years ever - and indeed it was. It is important, I think, to qualify just what that means, however. There are some once-in-a-lifetime events that usually occur during the same period in everyone’s life. Coming of age… the first kiss (and other firsts)… marriage… the birth of children… and other similar singularly momentous events in each of our lives are the source of life-long memories. I have had those and the years in which they occurred were also very good years - still, even so many years later.

But I can’t say with any certainty what else happened in those years. In other words, it was a single event that identified the quality of the passing year. And, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t in the habit of documenting the quality or lack thereof of the passing years until very recently. Oh, sure I would take a quick look over my shoulder each New Year’s Eve, but I never gave much thought to what was - only what wasn’t. Usually I was only too happy to see the old year breathe its last breath. This year was a good year, and I can say that with a definitive measuring stick - my 2006 “Year in Review.”

If a period of time is measured for it’s overall quality, it must involve some element of consistency. Not every day was what one would call a banner day. Most, in fact, were more of same… diligently working through each day, accomplishing what needed to be done and sometimes a little more, and building upon the prior day’s work. Some days were exceptionally good, others not so much. Most were satisfying and complete. It has been a very long time since I have had a “bad” day. Although there were some singular, memorable events, this last year was the best ever not because of them, but because of the work that preceded them.

It has been a year - no, two years - of solid and consistent effort that was the means that created these ends. It’s not rocket science; one day at a time, day in and day out, I have done the simple things that have to be done and the results have far exceeded anything I ever dreamt possible. I’m not just talking about the academic achievements or the earning my Bachelor of Arts degree, but also the relationships I have built, re-built and reinforced. There are people in my life today that are genuine, authentic and all remarkable in there own right. Some are new friends, many are family and some are associations built through my writing - all are important.

That is what I am truly most grateful for. I’ll miss 2007 - but it prepared me for 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


It’s all done. The last word of my last paper for my last class of my undergraduate career has been printed. I am done. Not “done except…” or “all I gotta do now is…” or “it’s almost over now…” nope, I am done. Done-done. Over. Finished with college - just seconds before midnight on December 20th. I can’t quite get my head wrapped around it… all those papers, all that reading and the hours in class taking notes… it all comes down to a piece of paper that says I did it! I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree. It was a feat I thought was beyond my diligence.

But it wasn’t. It feels like just yesterday I started back down this path I had abandoned so many years before. It all comes down to a perfectly boring essay on political theory… 1,600 boring words about whether deliberation can promote cosmopolitanism. The short answer? Yes and no - like anything else in political science, it is wide open to argument. And it doesn’t matter at all - for me, right now, it represents one and only one thing. The end.

For now it is time to bask in the accomplishment. Soon it will be time to see what’s next. Stay tuned…

BTW: I am looking for work...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Will Work for Serenity

Two years ago today, the 25 Year Plan was born. Actually, the plan has been in the works for… well, about 25 years, but the blog was created on December 18, 2005. And when I say plan I don’t want to sound as though I had actually looked into the coming years of my life and came up with something resembling the past 25 years. If I knew when I was 20 what was coming, I would have run for cover.

But we don’t get to know and even the best-laid plans can go astray. Indeed, the only thing predictable about life is its total unpredictability. But that doesn’t mean one should just blow with the wind; that I cannot take steps toward an end; that everything that comes at me has to be met with an emergency response. If there is a theme for past four or five years, it has been about making my life more stable.

In this respect there has been a plan, but it is not specific with certain ‘benchmarks’ (I used to like that word, but it has become somewhat overused of late). Oh, sure, there are definitely milestones along the way… unmistakable signs of progress and recognition of the culmination of so much extended effort, but these are the ends - not the means. There have been a number of insights along the way and one of the most profound is the realization that nothing comes all at once. It used to be the magic formula I so desperately sought, the fountain of youth, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the buried treasure.

The problem with instant gratification is that it only lasts for an instance - and then it takes more. Working to do what is required on a daily basis rewards me with the knowledge that I have completed those tasks. The long-term benefit of sustaining this effort is not what motivates me - it can’t be. However, when those moments arrive, it has the effect of reinforcing this characteristic and amplifying my gratitude. Often they come in rapid succession, as they are right now.

Two years of sustained blogging brings me this two-year anniversary. It took exactly two years to get to celebrate it - go figure. My last post was the 300th such for this blog. It didn’t come without the 299 preceding posts. On December 6th I celebrated 45 years on the planet. Guess what? That’s right, it didn’t happen without surviving the prior 44 years - and that was no small feat. This coming Saturday I will graduate with my Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Sacramento. That took a long time, but it happened one day at a time.

I guess my message isn’t entirely revolutionary, although it might appear to be to some (myself included). It has to do with those age-old qualities… the ones my parents taught me and theirs taught them. Perseverance, patience, hard work, honesty, and all those other qualities that have been considered “good” for eternity still are. And they still work. Crime sometimes does pay and cheaters still often prosper, but I’m doing it the old-fashioned way; the right way and perhaps even the hard way; I’m working for my serenity…

And you can’t steal that.

Friday, December 14, 2007


It has been quite a while since I have written for the 25 Year Plan. It might even be, at eight days, a record respite for this blog. Its two-year anniversary is just four days away and it is about time I wrote something to post here. This piece also marks my 300th such post to be published here. Perhaps a little reflection is in order… back to my blog roots, as it were. Ahhh, but where to begin? As usual, there is no telling where this may lead, but if you will so indulge me - the rabbit hole is, once again, right this way…

December 18, 2005 was the beginning of an exceedingly long winter break after my first semester at California State University, Sacramento. I had transferred as a junior journalism major after completing three semesters at American River College - the local junior college. And 20+ years, on and off (mostly off), at various other schools. My more recent grades were exceptional and I was on fire. Waiting for five weeks until the spring semester started seemed like an eternity.

My beginning journalism professor introduced me to the blogosphere. Actually, all he did was mention that he had a blog… I found it and discovered how easy it would be to start my own. It’s not as though I had never heard of a blog - I had a vague idea of what one was and I knew that they were gaining in popularity at a logarithmic pace. I resisted for a while, but my need to continue writing, and more so, to be published pushed me to take what turned out to be a very rewarding leap of faith.

Today, almost exactly two years later, I have attended my very last class session as an undergraduate. Internally it was a profound moment, but externally it was just the last class of another semester. Strictly business. There was a lecture - I took notes. It was exactly the same thing I have done in countless other classes throughout the past several years. There is still finals week next week, but the only final I have this semester is a “take-home” test. It’s due Wednesday and the last essay in another class is due Friday. That’s it, I’m done. Saturday I graduate with lots of accoutrements adorning my gown.

I have written thousands and thousands of words here and elsewhere. Many have been published in ways other than through the blogosphere. Much of it I have been paid for. I am still humbled that someone would actually pay me for my writing, but I’m starting to get used to it. Soon my career as an undergraduate will be complete and I will be writing professionally full-time. Freelancing has been nice and interesting, but I’m looking forward to a regular paycheck. And as the great cycle of seniority completes yet another lap, I’ll be once again at the bottom of the heap working my way up.

On Monday, I will be announcing, hopefully, where my bylines can be found next. Until then, I am taking a much needed and well-deserved breather. I have two items - only two - with a deadline attached before I graduate next week. They are important and not exactly easy, but I have ample time and a track record that gives me the space I need to relax. Tomorrow the Harley comes out of the garage for the first time in weeks. For the first time in a long time, first I ride, then I write.

Write Hard
Die Free

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Ok, I’m up now. Almost 1:30 p.m., and I’m up and about. It is not the first, or second or even third time I have been up today, but this time I’m staying up. Sleep has been a dubious luxury of late… my time has been stretched to the limit, but for now I am caught up. There is more coming - there’s always more coming, but for now I can take a little breather. Maybe I can get my equilibrium back. Perhaps tonight I can get to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep all the way through the night.

It’s a rainy, gloomy and wet December day in Sacramento. I have only two essays, a take home final, a photography portfolio and a column (this column) left to complete before I graduate with honors from California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor of arts degree in government-journalism. December 22 will be the pinnacle of a quest that has taken me to places both far and wide - figuratively and literally. It has been a quest that has spanned no less than 25 years. Today I turned 45.

Milestones such as these are cause for reflection and these sleepless nights are due in part, I am sure, to some of that. However, with the rapidly approaching conclusion of my undergraduate career, it is also a time to look forward. It is a time for optimism, but with uncertainty comes a certain degree of trepidation. I have been comfortable these past few years. Indeed, I know how to be a student. (Some may say it’s about time, but that’s a story for another time.) This uncertainty isn’t limited to my own future and where my path will lead me next - indeed, there are a multitude of good ideas and only a handful of bad - but in many respects it is spawned by a general restlessness that can be felt throughout the world.

Closer to home, there is an upcoming presidential election. Our nation is in dire need of competent leadership. This time there are more candidates than I can ever recall running and I cannot say that any of them is giving me much hope. We are in the midst of a housing crisis the magnitude of which, the experts say, is unprecedented - and the worst is yet to come. The nation is polarized based of false ideology where the most significant difference between Republicans and Democrats is how they spell their party’s name. And then there’s that pesky little undeclared war that has claimed nearly 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and maimed countless others.

More than entering the work force to begin yet another career, I am asking myself what I can do beyond making a living. In 45 years, I have seen some bad times and I have seen some good. The nation and the world are at the same time both better off and worse. We have taken a thousand steps forward in places and in others our feet have remained firmly anchored in cement. The United States has grown more powerful and prosperous than any other nation in recorded history - and in record time. I have seen nations built and borders dissolve, heroism and tyranny, compassion and cruelty. The question still remains: What can I do?

Although the answer isn’t anywhere near crystal clear, one piece of it absolutely is - write about it. If not for those of us running the show today, perhaps for our children who will be steering us tomorrow. For our grandchildren who will be paying for our foibles and for anyone who is a seeker, thirsty for perspective, hungry for knowledge - the words, others and mine, will be there. We did not achieve what we have due to our own brilliance. It came from the generations upon generations of our predecessors. Where we gleaned their knowledge and wisdom, we have thrived and where we have failed to study their mistakes, we have failed miserable.

What can I do? Maybe it means nothing today, but perhaps my children, my grandchildren and countless generations of successive great grandchildren will benefit from my experience written here and elsewhere. By myself and by others. By the scribes, the philosophers, the thinkers and the journalists.

Maybe they will read what I wrote.

On this wet, rainy, gloomy December day in Sacramento.

On my 45th birthday, 6 December 2007.

Another Year Older

I am 45 years old today. I’m not sure how I feel about it… I’ll have to sleep on it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Small Hours

This is getting to be something of an annoying habit. I am not a morning person, yet here I am in front of my computer at 6 a.m. once again. I don’t really want to write, but apparently I need to. Actually, I know I need to… I always need to, but there is usually something specific looming. It could be an essay for a class, a term paper, a column, and of course there is always a deadline breathing down my neck. That kind of writing goes with the territory - that’s what I do and some of it I get paid for.

But none of that, or at least the vast majority of it, requires that I wake up before the sun rises. Even the news doesn’t usually happen this early… if I’m reporting and writing at this hour, it’s because the story is not finished from last night. Those covering last month's fires in Southern California were up reporting, shooting and writing at this hour not as the start of a new day, but the as the continuation of yesterday or, perhaps, the day before. Although I have only briefly experienced that kind of reporting, I know enough to know that I wouldn’t be complaining - that’s the stuff I live for.

But not this. This is an urgency of a much different kind. There is nothing exciting about it. Insightful? Sure. Introspective? Absolutely. Will I be proud of the output? Experience tells me so - the proverbial “creative juices” are definitely flowing. I just wish they would decide to secrete at a more reasonable hour. Sometimes. But perhaps this is how I am wired - not a morning person but still one who gets the call from… somewhere in the small hours of the morning. Today I didn’t resist - much. I’ve only been fighting it for about an hour. A couple of days ago, I was not so compliant. I didn’t give up - I stayed in bed. But I didn’t get to go back to sleep either.

The irony is that I do have some very pressing matters to get done. There are three assignments due in three of my four classes on Monday morning. None are particularly difficult, but all require some time to produce the kind of output I desire. I was up late last night writing the first of those assignments, a three to five page essay on St. Thomas Aquinas and his idea of “natural law.” It’s pretty deep stuff, but the assignment is too short to go into very much depth. The professor is looking for understanding of Aquinas and his philosophy - not groundbreaking analysis that will lead to a new theory of the nature of God. I can handle it - and finished about two thirds of it about four or five hours ago.

The other two are really not much effort for me, but both will require a little time to do the reading, research and write. As usual, I have left myself just enough time to complete them. Actually, if I have a 24-hour clock, there is more than enough time to finish. There are only a handful of assignments left between my bachelor’s degree and me. I can almost… almost coast through it. But there is still just enough rope to hang myself. I can still, even after the hours upon hours, month in and month out and year after year of not only doing the work but doing it exceedingly well - I can still screw it up. It is, or was, my MO, after all.

Fortunately, there is every reason to believe it will be different this time. Self-destruction wasn’t my only modus operandi, there were others and to say that everything is different now would be an understatement. The things I have done to get here represent major operation changes in not only how I do things (or that I do them), but also how I view life in general. As a result, I have been running this “lucky” streak for more than three years - even longer depending on one’s point of view. And to a large extent, it is this outlook that has made the difference. Even if the exact same idiot cuts me off in traffic today, I do not have to take it personally and it doesn’t have to ruin an otherwise perfect day. It really is that simple. As far as I’m concerned - it’s worth an occasional early morning or some restless nights.