Category Archives: Life Stories

Christmas Shopping

I did all my Christmas shopping online this year.

I have to say, while it’s incredibly convenient and time efficient, it took some of the fun out of the season for me.  That’s not a bad thing (we didn’t decorate, either) because of the move and renovation we really weren’t able to do much.  We didn’t entertain either, we’re still not quite ready for that.  The Feast of Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinner will be off site, I’m sure Aldo’s won’t disappoint.

I normally enjoy toy shopping for my six nieces and nephews (and two second cousins – I’ll stick to calling them a niece and a nephew, too, if that’s OK with you); I connect with the kids, and that’s really what it’s all about.  I also like to support local business where I can, and while I often end up at a Toys ‘R Us (in Delaware, to avoid sales tax), I usually get a few things at local shops (Amuse in Fells Point is awesome).

So, I’m not all Christmasy.  Maybe I’ll go to the mall Monday and just walk around.  I’m leaving if they play that Christmas shoes song, though.

Still Here

I’m still here, just too busy to blog much.

I’m looking at getting training back on track next week, I might be switching gyms and timing; Dumbarton Barbell is very, very close to my house (in the basement of Dumbarton Middle), but they have limited hours (3-9 weekdays, 10-1 Saturday).  Word is it’s a very cool old school place and the home of the Baltimore Weightlifting Club.  While not a weightlifter, I’d imagine that’s a well equipped gym for a powerlifter.

Anyway, that would change my expected AM training to mid afternoon.  From a performance standpoint I much prefer mid afternoon, but it’s not as business friendly as mornings.  Good thing, my business/everything partner has encouraged me to figure it out because of how close the gym is.  One possibility is to just shift my normal day later and train/work later in to the evening.  Not much happens in Real Estate before 9AM anyway.

Otherwise, life is good.  Things are coming along at the new house, with just a few things undone other than getting all of our furniture.  Thus far, not at all impressed with Greenfront Furniture in Virginia.  We’ll see if they can make things right, but as of now, they have been non-responsive.  Nearly everything we got from them arrived damaged, and they didn’t order any of the items that were not in stock until the in stock items were delivered (??).  After spending more than $10k on furniture, I would expect at least some follow up.  Thus far?  Nothing.  So don’t go there to buy furniture.  I’ll let you know if that changes.

Slowly integrating in to our business, still building the business plan and marketing.  We need to come up with a name.  So far, we’re just at Mason/Stagg Home Sales and Staging, but we think replacing our names with a single word that sums up our mission, values, and service would be better for branding.  “Awesome” sounds a little presumptuous, though, right?

Once the business is up we’ll have a web presence.  We may point this domain to our business site but we don’t know for sure.

Also, if you haven’t yet, check out which is a new venture for me.  Just tested it out with some tasting note posts a while back, but I’m going to do much more work in the new year on local wine events, profiles of people in the Maryland wine, food, and entertaining industry, and of course on Maryland wines and wines available from Maryland retailers.



I’ve hinted a few times here and on Twitter that some big change was coming.  So it did.  After 11 years with the Coca-Cola company, I resigned from my position as Market Unit Director, Field Service.  I gave notice on June 13, and my last day was Friday, July 6.

I am going to partner with my lovely wife, Jamie Mason, in the real estate sales and staging business, as well as spend more time on our personal investment portfolio.

I am very proud of my accomplishments in the corporate world.  For nearly 20 years, I added value to what is now Farmers Insurance, ADP, what is now a part of Northrop Grumman, and Coca-Cola.  Coke does business differently because of work I did to develop new, more meaningful, measures of customer satisfaction.  I was also part of the team that developed capability of our service network for Coca-Cola Freestyle.

But during the last 18 months, there was a great deal of change, both within the company and in my personal life.  The company purchased the largest bottler, and created Coca-Cola Refreshments.  As part of that integration, I got a new job (a promotion) that I considered a developmental opportunity to get me where I wanted to really be.  After 18 months in the new organization, however, I decided that what I thought I wanted… well, I didn’t.  I didn’t want to move to Atlanta, and I didn’t want to do what I always thought I wanted to do.  It happens.  The culture of the new company was also a significant change; and I didn’t feel like I fit in any more.

This isn’t a bad thing.  It’s got nothing to do with Coke, which is a great company.  It has everything to do with me figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.

So, instead of adding value to corporations (which is noble), I want to add value to individuals; I want to keep the value closer, so I can really experience it.  I want to engage with people, not on conference calls or meetings, but in living rooms or over meals.

I also needed to regain control of my life.  I was working too much and had completely lost the work/life balance that Gen Xers find so important.  I need to lift.  I need to cook.  I need to blog, to write.  I need to enjoy life.  My weeks had become 50-70 hours Monday-Friday working, leaving only time to eat and sleep during the week.  Then on the weekend, I would need one full day to do nothing, then by 5PM on Sunday, my head would be back to work, thinking about what I needed to do Monday.  (Assuming I didn’t have to work  on the weekend, something that happened pretty regularly).

In my new life, what day it is doesn’t matter.  There will still be hard work.  I will still hustle.  But I won’t get stressed out on Sunday night because I have to go to work on Monday.

I’ll post more on how I was able to walk away from the corporate world, and some of the challenges my wife and I may face as entrepreneurs.  I’ll also be back to regular posts about whatever strikes me as interesting, everything from sports to politics to food and wine.  And the training log will return as well (I’m taking Monday and Tuesday of this week as days to do nothing; tomorrow I’m going to go to the gym.)

I will also be back at The Grand Crew to get some action going there as well.

I’m really looking forward to living again.

I can’t believe it’s been this long

Just been so busy.

We did spend the last two weeks in Japan, which was awesome.

Blogging and training shall resume in earnest in the next few days.


Over the last two months, my dad spent about 7 weeks in the hospital/rehab after a major heart attack (he arrested in cardiac ICU), and my mom, who had been battling cancer for 5 years, entered hospice care and passed away.

So I haven’t been blogging much.

Good stuff coming soon though.  Gonna take my life back.

Blogging Update

It’s been a rough few weeks. I’ll post more on it later maybe. For now, blogging will continue to be sporadic.


2011 was one of the hardest years I’ve had.  A tragic death.  Overwhelmed at work.  Unhealthy.

But with all the negative, there’s still a ton of positive.  My wife remains awesome.  Our relationship held up just fine to some serious strain this year.  I have a good job with a great company.  I got to Napa, NYC twice, and continue to enjoy the finer things.  We got two new (to us) cars.

I’m ready for 2012, because I’m motivated to get things back together.  To have balance.  I love to work hard, but I need to have time to cook, to talk, to engage socially.  I need to get back in the gym.  Sure, there will be days that work is all I do, but I need far more days that work isn’t all I do.

I need to be better.

And I will.


Yes, I’ve been quiet.

Working hard, earning my keep.  Completely lost control of my life; it’s time to get it back.

Went to Savannah, GA for a long weekend.  We could live there.  At least 9 months out of the year, anyway.

Changes are coming.  Balance will return.  Got some goals, one of which is a total at the 2012 MD State PLing championships.

Take a Stand

Once known as a holiday to give thanks for family, friends, and the opportunities we share, Thanksgiving is the beginning of our six week long celebration of the end of one year and beginning of the next.

The beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Tomorrow is “Black Friday”, the busiest brick and mortar shopping day of the year.  Not that long ago, it was simply just a very busy shopping day, not fraught with sales and incentives.  (I always thought it would make more sense for retailers to intentionally spread out the holiday spending over a longer period, but what do I know?)

What it’s become bothers me, and I think it’s time to take a stand.  Those who know me know I’m all for people spending money on whatever they want, whenever they want.  While I may not share the populations desire for constant consumption, I am a big fan of getting the things I want and that make my life easier for a good price.

But the day after Thanksgiving blitz has gotten out of control.

I remember a time (and I’m not that old) when you had to make sure you got gas on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, because all the gas stations were closed.  20 years ago, I worked in one of the first McDonalds to open for breakfast on Thanksgiving – we opened from 6 to 11 and served breakfast.  We weren’t all that busy.

Today, McDonalds are open 24 hours.  Convenience stores and grocery stores have normal hours (which I think is more a demand issue, which is fine).  Beltway Fine Wine?  Open.  Wal-Mart is open 24 hours.

And tonight?  At midnight, Target, Toys R Us, HH Gregg, Macy’s, Ace Hardware, Kohls, and many, many more retailers will open their doors.

Old Navy is open today!  120 Best Buy locations will open at 9PM tonight.

What happened?  Do we really need to start shopping 10-12 hours earlier?  How many families jump up from Thanksgiving dinner and rush out to go shopping?

You know who can stop this?  We can.  Start a movement.  Don’t go shopping until tomorrow.  Better yet, don’t go shopping this weekend at all!  Make this weekend about something other than the sale, other than the price drop.  Retailers will listen and adjust.

Maybe I’m getting old, but my Thanksgiving remains about family and friends, about a large meal and lots of wine.  This year, it’s about Ravens football, too.  All with my wife, parents, siblings, aunt, cousins, nieces, and nephews.  Not with some crowd trying to save $40 on a big TV.  Time with my family is worth more to me.


In case anyone is wondering…

I started growing my beard in October.  I’m not growing it for man cancer awareness, or for the playoffs.

I’m growing it because it was time to put on the man pants.  It is a message to myself to man up, face itching be damned.

And it will entertain my nieces and nephews.

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