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Today I am a 10 Year Fool.

Wow, 10 years since I registered at Fool.Com.

To be honest, I was probably Foolish well before I became an official Fool. I actually met the Gardner brothers once when they came to give a talk at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta. They were selling books and doubt they remember the trip let alone me. But when I think about where I am now compared to where I was 10 years ago, whoa. If I knew then what I know now, I would have sold my employee-purchased TWX stock before the AOL merger.

So every year about this time I do an introspective shtick where I examine the year in review and look forward to the next. Kind of convenient this coincides with New Years, I guess. But there you go, it is time to take a dive into the world of Fuskie, to see what I've learned, what maybe you can learn, what I am thinking, and at my age, what I can remember.

An Appreciation

I am grateful for a number of things over the last year and past 10 years of being on TMF. I started out as a paying subscriber to the general discussion boards and became a premium customer since the waning days of the Foolish 8 service which was folded into the Hidden Gems premium newsletter. I took to the discussion boards like a duck to water, offering my thoughts grounded (I hoped) in common sense with a dash of humor. At one point I saw another user, wildgirl, post a tag line on her post. I decided I wanted to be a little wild myself and a trademark™ was born. I sometimes spend more time on the tag line than on the post itself, which is probably noticable in some posts.

As I said, TMF has been very good to me, not just in terms of my Foolish Friends (I am loved by 470 Fools, an astounding 24th on the Favorite Fool list), or lifetime Rec to Post ratio (nearly 1 rec per post), invitations to help TMF launch new services, such as CAPS, Greenlight, Foolsaurus, and other forms of appreciated generosity that have made me want to commit even more to contributing to the TMF services to which I am a member. Of course, I am handicapped. Aj485 would be the first to tell you I usually have no idea what I am talking about, but that never stops me from trying to be of service.

I am a computer engineer by trade, a Crystal Reports Developer by profession and reading financial statements is a skill that still eludes me so I am more dependent on Fools like TMF1000 and TMFFrankatFool to help explain what was meant by the excelent posts from rpanton or 2001Cobr. Of course there are also the inspirational posts by Fools like ShireHobbit and determinedmom and so many more. I admire and respect most of you (at least those of you with whom I have conversed either on the boards or in private email replies) and can probably recite Kahunacfa's resume from memory and thank you for enriching my Foolish experience.

Finding the right place to post my thoughts has not always been easy and I have frequently taken advantage of TMF by opening my own discussion boards, from the road less traveled, Fuskie's Town Hall Exhibition to Diabetic Fools. Some have been more successful than others (It's So Easy Living Green) than others (The Foolish Consumer, Getting A Child Into College), and yet others are very niche (Braves Fools, Big Brother Fools) and some I probably forgot were mine. Please visit these boards and help continue the Foolish conversation.

The Year In Review

2009 actually started well for me. Shortly after the new year I was offered a Crystal Reports development contract by a consulting company who I had spoken with nine months previously at a job fair. The work lasted for nearly 9 months at a rate that allowed me to recover somewhat from previous FUL™ cycles (I had 5 different employers in 2008, 3 W2 and 2 1099) and allowed me to take GF to one of my favorite place in the world, Walt Disney World, for her 50th birthday celebration and a final chance to say Kungaloosh at the Adventurer's Club. I was able to rebuild a small eFund, save for property taxes and return to Washington University in St. Louis for my x0th college reunion. Unfortunately I was unable to hold on to that eFund after having made a serious professional error in agreeing to a fixed rate, pay upon completion contract which sadly has taken me about 3 times and 3 months longer to complete than I had expected and probably won't pay off until 2010 and even then for much less than the per hour value of the work I will have put into it.

I was privileged to be able to accompany my family for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary on a trip to Copper Canyon, Mexico (we returned just ahead of the H1N1 virus and skirted the Mexican tourist destination of Juarez) but was immersed for a week in the culture of the Tarahumaran. I became more involved in social media, tweeting for the Morty's TV web site (http://mortystv.com) with over 8000 followers as well as launching the Morty's TV Facebook page nearly 350 friends of Morty Port and over 600 members of the Morty's TV group. I have my own twitter account, of course, FuskieBP and Facebook page but I am most proud of my LinkedIn network. With over 200 direct connections, my network has grown to nearly 6,000,000 and my Crystal Reports group has grown to over 1750 international members, spurred in part by SAP (parent company to Business Objects, which owns Crystal Reports, having linked to it on their web site as their unofficial group on LinkedIn).

And of course there is the Fuskie's Foolish Support Network group on LinkedIn to which EVERY Fool is invited to join (posting your screen name is optional). In this day of scarce employment, it would be very Foolish to levage the power of Fools to expand your professional network. So please consider becoming LinkedIn and joining the Fuskie's Foolish Support Network (and thanks to those of you who have already joined) by going to http://bit.ly/8KJtXO. If you are not a member of LinkedIn, you can easily register and then join the group. LinkedIn is a very valuable tool for being able to find other professionals in a particular company in which you are interested, look up the name of an interviewer or help share employment opportunities which come your way. Fools helping Fools. What a concept!

On the Eco side, I helped launch my synagogue's first ever Earth Festival, bringing together dozens of exhibitors and vendors, serving a kosher-organic luncheon, entertaining kids with a green message, and singing out (not literally) the message of recycling and living green. The event was the cap on my two years serving as chair of Shomrei Adamah, my synagogue's committee on the environment for which we won an award from Georgia Interfaith Power & Light. I have also cut my own energy consumption enough to reduce my energy bill by $87. And of course I continue to drive by gas stations in the FuskieHybrid™.

I have also taken advantage of numerous rewards programs to turn water in to wine, so to speak. As an avid Coke Zero drinker, I have been collecting My Coke Rewards Codes and have exchanged the points for products ranging from a cooler on wheels, a backpack, free movie tickets, and of course free Zero. I am also a Stouffer's Dinner Club Member, using those points for free meals and movies. And I have helped feed my fetish for all things Disney by collecting Disney Movie Rewards for DVDs and movies that I have seen. Anyone who has extra codes they want to unload (one person sent me a bag of 500 bottle caps their daughter left in their house), please see me via private email reply.

Investing-wise, the year has been a mixed bag. I have been so busy I really have not had the time to read up on and follow the action items of the premium services to which I am subscribed (maybe if I spent less time reading and posting on the boards...) but hope to improve that in the upcoming year. Never-the-less, I am grateful to TMF for the opportunities offered at The Motley Fool. In any case, some of my companies have performed dismally throughout this recession (AIB) , while others (yeah, Netflix) have thrived. My net loss is still about 10-15%, but I think the most important thing is that I have not panicked, have not sold off all my investments and jumped into the deep end of a pool filled with gold. Some of my companies will probably never recover - a couple are worth so little that it would cost more to sell the position than I would get from the sale - but others are hopefully positioned to take advantage of a long term economic and market recovery.

Health-wise, its been a bit of a struggle. I have been working out with a personal trainer for a couple years now, though I have had to cut back over the last few months, and am probably in the better physical shape than I have been in a long time. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my type 2 diabetes (if you are someone you know or love has diabetes, please come find Foolish support on the Diabetic Fools board) as I have had to take on more medication as my A1C levels have not been as aggressive as I would like them to be, but I continue to exercise, watch my diet, and work to fend off the degenerative nature of this disease for as long as I can. Fortunately I have been able to maintain group insurance and am currently enjoying the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act's subsidization of 65% of my COBRA costs. Every year I Walk to Cure Diabetes and invite my Foolish Friends to sponsor me a dollar here, a five-spot there, and look forward to a day when a cure for both type 1 and type 2 can be found. If you would like to help, send me a private email reply.

Other than that, the past year has been plagued by projects and goals not achieved. I have not done as much digital video editing as I had wanted. I have plumbing and other repairs that I have let slide, piles of junk sit around my house and I have not been able to get started on an interior remodeling job that is 14 years in the making. Yes, that's how long I have been in the FuskieDomicile™. Its hard to believe that my mortgage is now under $50k, with only about 9 years to go. I have been sick more often than I would have liked, but hope to leave the bug back in 2009. I have so many other things I keep saying I will do some day, start my own Disney video podcast, expand my personal web presence with a professional blog I can tweet about, finish digitizing all my photos and vinyl. But I guess there is always next year.

You can tell that Father Time is an entertainer because at the end of each year, he always leaves them wanting more.

The New Year

It is hard to believe that Friday will not only be a new year but a new decade. It seems just yesterday that I was still performing Y2K checks on my information systems at Turner Broadcasting. There are some exciting knowns about 2010 and plenty of unknowns to discover as the months roll on. For one, I start a new contract in January. It is only for 2 months but its a good start to the year. In March I will pay off the FuskieHybrid™, a car that Consumer Reports once said would never pay for itself but already has in spades. In 2010 I will continue to spread the Morty's TV brand throughout the world of Twitter & Facebook and maybe even make a name for my professional self in the cyberverse was well. I plan to continue my streak of no negative marks on my credit history for a 7th year, continue to carry no credit card debt and hope to boost my credit score to over 800.

I will get the upper hand on my diabetes once again although I accept that at my age I will never have six pack abs, will continue to shore up my physical and mental well being. I will edit more video and start that podcast. I will see my retirement savings not only recover but grow. I will make new friends and treasure the ones I have. I will be a better steward of the environment in 2010. I will find a way to save and I will find a way to pay for the thins I most need. I will hold my head up high at my 25th High School reunion (ugh) in the face of classmates who have exceeded my accomplishments and/or still have their hair and be gracious to those who forgot they wouldn't give me the time of day once upon a childhood but know want to know how I am doing. And I will never post an incorrect statement again.

Well, maybe not.

But I will work to earn the generosity of The Motley Fool and awesome responsibility placed on me through Rec's and Favorite Fool ranking by continuing to post common sense responses with just a touch of humor, and will continue to learn from all of you as well.

The State of Fuskie is pretty darn good. I hope your New Year starts off on an equally good foot. Just remember, sometimes the you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you, but always dress for the hunt!

Kungaloosh!

Fuskie
Who asks that if you have actually read through to the end of this post that you reply with your own New Years Foolish and personal resolutions...
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