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July 3, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

Year Of The Cat

Happy 4th of July! This is my favorite holiday weekend for so many reasons. A year ago I started this new home page format, then started off on my Summer Siesta until September 2004. This season is a working Summer, I chose the 1976 Al Stewart song, Year Of The Cat as the theme for this message.

I always like listening to that song. It makes me think of Summer seasons past and how each one was enjoyed to the fullest. The year 1976 was a significant year in my life. Many economic challenges impacted me that year, hard lessons that would come in handy later in life. It was the year my daughter was born, a blessing of the best kind. The song is based upon one of my favorite movies, Casablanca. It stars my favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart, and also has Peter Lorre, whose character from another film helped give our daughter her name. 1976 was a strange year for me and has other indirect connections to me--stories for another time.

Last year at this time, I was just starting my term as President of Twin Oaks Toastmasters. The organization's year starts July 1st and ends June 30th. My term ended on December 31, 2004, and in that time our club had gained about ten new members, advanced four members to Competent Leader (CL) and two members to Advanced Toastmaster Bronze (ATM-B). Together with the accomplishments of the next term of officers, we easily achieved for the second year-in-a-row, the highest club award Toastmasters International offers, Presidents Distinguished Club. I enjoyed serving during my term and feel good about the club's accomplishments. Last December I earned my Competent Toastmaster (CTM) and CL awards simultaneously (shown below), a first in our club. I'm already working towards my ATM-B award, maybe earning that by this time next year.

I started my Digital Passages PodCasts site in October of 2004. With 30 podcasts published to-date, they have been downloaded almost 30,000 times. This past week, Apple starting offering podcast support in its iTunes Music Store. I was surprised to see my podcast site was one of the podcasts included in the Top Podcasts listings.

Google has become a huge asset for me. My name is often on the first page of their listings. Many of my pages are at the very top in their result lists. I recently typed Time Out Of Mind in Google and was astonished to discover that out of 73 million results, this site is in the top five! I can only thank all my readers and the various search engines that track popularity of my site for those rankings.

The Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park has become a big part of my life this past year too. I presented before several senior groups since last September as a volunteer Park Ambassador. Each of those experiences was a wonderful chance to exercise my storytelling skills before large audiences (see image below). I received some very nice letters from the management of those senior facilities for my presentations.

Last February I was asked to volunteer my digital talent to the creation of a video for the City of Carlsbad (title slide shown below). I worked for several weeks on that project and in the end provided a product that delivers what was promised.

I've met several new people this past year. Some affect me very strongly, that is a good thing for me. Almost everyone in my life: past; present; and future affect me one way or another. I'm a romantic at heart making the most of what every relationship brings. Many of the readers here took some time to write me their thoughts. Thank you.

I live in the best place in the world--America. I have the most freedom of choice available. I love this country and always will. My ancestor, John Honeyman helped give this country its start. I owe it to him and every other person who sacrificed and will sacrifice to keep me free, to appreciate what they did or will do.

What I have done in the past year is in part, my giving back to my country, part from me directly to you. Hopefully it has been worthwhile to those that once knew or know me today. To those I have yet to meet, I hope it is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Don


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