That would be me. Rick's the name. I've gone by others, but Rick is it for now, and probably will be till my demise.
I live in the fabulous Florida Keys, having moved down here in April of 2001 after spending three years in The City of Eternal Gray, Rochester NY. Prior to that stint, most of my life had been spent in and around Boston MA -- a very cool city, I might add -- with short sojourns to Hilton Head Island SC and Key West FL (which I finally and appropriately resettled in in 2002).
So. I returned to the Keys after a seven-year hiatus. I currently run Local Awards & Engraving, wielding a very coolo laser engraver and a workhorse rotary cutter to make the best plaques, signs, name tags, acrylic awards, and keychains in the Lower Keys. I get to be creative with the laser, especially, doing elaborate and detailed designs and cutouts and logos and text in 5000 different fonts. Acquisition of sublimation equipment added the element of color photography to the gig -- burning full-color pix onto shirts, tiles, coasters, koozies, yada yada fun. It has even spawned my own line of Crazy Cribbage boards. Nice.
AND the further acquisition of a sign company brought a fine art, large scale printer into the shop. I hugged it the day it arrived. Huge-ass photo prints in high-rez, on glossy, matte, or even canvas. My living room wall has an awesome 42" x 49" print of one of my best Crater Lake photos. And it just keeps getting better.
Outside of work, I run, bike, and swim a lot, work out fairly regularly, enjoy good quality malt beverages, LOVE taking cross country roadtrips in my van -- which is largely what all those damn Blings are about -- and have been, hmmmm, let's see if I can remember them all, in reverse chronological order:
Distributor, Nectar Magazine: This was an odd, but good-paying part-time gig. A friend had started her own high-end, ad-driven magazine, and she recruited me and my van(s) for distribution. I dropped 20,000 copies of this mag -- yes, you read that right -- off at 300+ locations throughout the Florida Keys in a 4-day span every month. It was hot and sweaty work in the summer, and had some very odd moments ("What? We didn't order these" -- So what? They're free. Take 'em, lady. Toss 'em if you don't want 'em; I just have to deliver 20K of these things.). Economy went south right after Nectar launched, though, and the editor had the good sense to pull the plug before she lost her house.
Front Desk, Key Lime Inn: checking in/out the tourists who came to nestle into walking distance from Duval. Easy job, good co-workers. Nice pool for a discreet after-work dip. Phone rang way too much for my liking, but otherwise it was a mellow gig. Might still be there if not for the LA&E offer.
"Graphic Designer" (more like "Forms Designer", but that sounds so bland), Lower Keys Medical Center: This was a perfect gig for me, using my esoteric knowledge of MS Word and my proofreader's eye to design and produce the hundreds of forms and documents that clutter and clog the files and folders and charts of the health care industry. I received orders and processed them forthwith with alacrity and precision. Staff and administration were all delighted with my work, but ... a new department manager deemed that less expense, greater accuracy, and immediate response to needs were not useful considerations, and she used some up-the-ladder corporate pal to bring LKMC into line with the rest of the HMA family by eliminating the Graphic Department and outsourcing the forms. Then she left town. Stayed just long enough to eliminate my job, and not long enough to have to deal with the subsequent chaos and budget catastrophe that ensued. Ignorant bucking fitch.
Property Manager, Price Rentals (Key West, FL): I spent four years working for a local property owner, managing several dozen of his mobile homes and cottages. The office was air-conditioned, almost all windows, and the view of the canal, boats, and palm trees under the tropical sun was really relaxing. As long as the tenants behaved and the domiciles didn't get swept away in a hurricane, it was a pretty casual job. The downside, of course, was the interaction with the occasional crackheads and drug dealers who occasionally made life at the mobile home park more, well, colorful.
Boys Cross Country Coach, Key West High School (Key West, FL): Three years at the helm of the Fighting Conchs and three trips to the State Finals (the only trips there is school history). Good to know that I hadn't lost my touch after all those years. Roadtrips are long, though, when you live on an island 125 miles from the mainland, and three years of traveling 4000+ miles to and from a dozen 20-minute CC meets was enough for a guy who had "retired" from coaching several years before.
ramack enterprises; President, Founder, Grand Poobah (Key West, FL): That's what those other links on my front page are all about. It's a hobby more than anything, but I've made some really nice business cards, brochures, t-shirt logos, awards, and web pages for different people, groups, or companies. It's ongoing, part-time, on-my-own-time, and it gives me justification for all the fun I've been having with digital photography.
Document Production Administrator, Capricorn Jewelry (Key West, FL): I printed Certificates of Authenticity for jewelry made with rare coins. I have no doubt that they were authentic, but what do I know about coins? Again, I was only hired because I knew how to make good looking documents on the computer, and the owner didn't. Think about that next time you get Certificate of Authenticity somewhere; it may look official, but it was probably just typed up by some schmuck like me in some back office somewhere.
Bookkeeper, Hogue Art Gallery (Key West, FL): Basically, I entered numbers on a Excel spreadsheet for a few hours a few nights a week. It was laughably easy, but none of the artsy types had a compu-clue, so they paid me to do it. Then the gallery shut down and packed up in the dead of night, and that was the end of that. No subpoena for my (deleted) files yet.
Key West Golf Club, weekend grill cook (Key West, FL): this was a one-summer gig that evaporated when The Powers That Be opted to use a full-time chef on weekends, instead of just having me sitting on the deck, flipping burgers on the propane grill. It was a sweet deal, mainly because one of the perks was FREE GOLF, and I utilized it well. I even worked as a Ranger during one tournament. That might just be the best job ever: something I will aspire to in the autumn of my years.
Resort Manager and Personal Trainer (Sugarloaf Key, FL): relocated from NY to the Keys to run the gym there, got promoted and promoted again until I ran the whole place, then after ten months the 75-hour weeks and an inscrutable boss led to my departure. I am DAMN glad it did: this was the kind of gig that sucked you dry. Best part of it was floating in the pool after work, noodles under my legs and shoulders, with a pitcher on Key West Sunset Ale in an ice bucket on the pool ledge, and chilled cup on my belly. Fell asleep more than once in that position.
Personal Fitness Trainer (Rochester NY): fun job, at a great gym, but it was too hard to compete with the other 22 (!) trainers to get/keep clients, and once I got my clients in shape, they didn't need me anymore. Talk about planned obsolescence...
Proofreader (for a marketing research company, Rochester NY): tedious work, but I had the back corner desk, and I got to wear my walkman and listen to tunes all day, otherwise I woulda walked on Day 2.
College Track Coach (University of Rochester, NY): thought it would be my dream job. The guys on the team were excellent, but the budget battles were exasperating, and the interminable winter weather of western NY SUCKED!!!!! Fittingly, there were snow flurries during my final meet there -- on May 1st!
College Physical Education Instructor (MIT, Cambridge MA): This is the very best line on my resume: "Ultimate Frisbee Instructor at MIT". Also taught badminton, archery, golf, tennis, jogging (tough class there) and weight training. Got to wear cap and gown at MIT graduation ceremony with Bill Clinton as guest speaker. Kinda cool.
Bartender, Uno's Restaurants (Woburn and Waltham, MA): tipping the taps and dishing out the deep dish, and doing verbal sloshery after hours with little sis Lea till the sun came up. Wonderfully irresponsible lifestyle.
HS Assistant Administrator (Westport MA): whatever that means. Basically, it meant dealing exclusively with the recalcitrant miscreants who got their asses tossed outa class, and keeping them in a corral until the VP could deal with them. I lasted a semester, then sprinted outa there. I only took the job so I could coach CC (we went 10-5, their best record in years) ;-]
Major Appliances Sales Counselor, Circuit City (Dedham MA): made very good money, because I wasn't truly a salesman and didn't act like one. But spending a 14-hour shift in a room full of blank white appliances will steal the soul way too fast.
T-Shirt Presser/Floor Salesman, Wings (Key West FL): lived for 5 months in my faithful van Max, and life was GOOD. Thoreau talked about "Simplify, simplify, simplify..." and I did just that. I had 1 -- count 'em, ONE -- key on my keychain.
Bartender, Westin Resort (Hilton Head Island SC): tended to the bibulous needs of well-to-do guests at numerous posh parties at the East Coast's only five-diamond resort hotel, all booze in nip bottles, wore tux to work. Our banquet manager once referred to me as "our fifth diamond". Thank ya, Bill. :-)
Clubhouse Bartender, Indigo Run Golf Course (Hilton Head Island SC): had the morning shift, which blew, but I was done at 3:30 and then that ultimate perk -- FREE GOLF -- kicked in. Steamy sultry summer afternoons, empty golf course. just me and my free cart; I'd get 36 holes in by sunset. Too bad my golf game SUCKED most of the time I was there. And Betty Raley is lucky I didn't jam her damn lunch down her damn snotty bitchy throat. But anyway....
HS English Teacher and Head Coach of CC/Track (Xaverian Bros HS, Westwood, MA): ten years of correcting comma blunders and dangling participles had left me disenchanted with the teaching profession, so after fourteen years, the only regret I had was leaving coaching. Blessings in disguise, though -- if I had not departed, I surely would have had a meltdown. Funny how things sometimes work out, even when they don't seem like they are. I still hoist a glass in fond memory of the State Champion harriers of 1990, 1985, and especially the undefeated All-State Champs of 1984 -- the Beast Of The East , and the Balls Of Them All: Artie, Tod, Patrick, Sean, Doug, Jamie, Joe and their huge and talented supporting cast. I'll never forget that snowy day at Northfield Mountain. Or that rainy day at Franklin Park in 1990, when the team that only placed third in our league -- Pete, V-Man, King, Moyny, and Cal -- astonished mighty Lexington and CRL with a 10-second gap and claimed the crown by 78 points! In all, the X-lads won 19 Conference titles in CC and Track in my 42 seasons, and placed second to SJP (no disgrace there) in many of the others. Rock on, ALL you Hawks!
Third shift, Lanco, Inc. (MA): washing floors and windows at the various White Hen Pantry stores around eastern Mass. Fresh outa college, and putting my BA in English to wonderful use. I would meet my indefatigable boss Harry someplace at 11 p.m., and we would mop and squeegee our way from store to store to store until he dropped me off at 5:30 a.m. or so. I think I gained a little perspective on life that year.
Barback, Harp & Bard Restaurant (Norwood MA): best job to have in a restaurant/bar, because I didn't deal with pain-in-the-ass customers, the waitresses all loved me because I was always there with everything they needed, I never pissed the cooks off, and the bartenders taught me the tricks of their trade. Too bad the owners were such bad drunks and gamblers; that place was waaaay too much of a goldmine to go Chapter 11.
Bob's Texaco (Needham MA): typical gas jockey, back in the days when somebody actually came out of the building to pump your gas for you. (Yeah, I'm old, fine.) Froze my teenage ass off many a night. I remember a customer freaking out when we raised our price for Premium gas from $.399 to $.409 per gallon. Yeeeesh.
Joseph F. Corcoran Shoe Company (Stoughton MA): assembly line work for the summer -- always meant to "thank" Dad for using his leather industry connections to land me this sweet job. Ugh. Overheated in a room full of no-habla Portugee all summer, slopping glue onto the upper side of shoe soles, and putting little plugs into pointlessly plugless holes for 8 hours a day and about $3/hour. But such was life in 1971...
Caddy, Needham Golf Club (Needham MA): from rough beginning as a scrawny 10-year-old, I can credit my muscular thighs to the toting of two golf bags up and down the rolling hills of NGC every in-season Saturday and Sunday for six years. The smell of sun-scorched skin on my arms will forever remind me of those hot summer middays on the wide-open 9th fairway, waiting for my latest duffer to hack his next divot. My passion for golf was born here. If I could have stayed a caddy all my life, I think I would have.... [Ironically, there is a book out called A Wee Nip At The Nineteenth Hole, which chronicles the history of the caddy at the Royal and Ancient at St. Andrews in Scotland, and it is written by (truly) Richard MacKenzie.]
Well, this was supposed to be a three-paragraph howdy. Typically, I digressed. Oh, well.....
But anyway, this webpage is not really about anything business-wise (hence the ".us" suffix) despite the links to my modest enterprises. It's just a place where I share some of my modest writings, post a few of my favorite photos, and help you all relax a bit from your daily grind.
Please kick back for a few minutes and feel most welcome....
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