As 2023 comes to an end, Lonna and I have realized we're homebodies! Who knew? It seems as if we go somewhere and about half way through our visit, we're thinking about getting home and back to our normal day-to-day routines. This is not saying anything negative about who we are visiting, we just like being home. Weird, huh?

Maybe it's because we did so much more traveling this year than ever before. We were away for three weeks in January (Burbank, North Hollywood and Seal Beach, CA), one overnight stay (Oxford, OH), and eight days in October (Memphis, TN). More on all this further down the page.

The picture below was taken at our 27th Wedding Anniversary Dinner, May 10th.



Okay, it might not be a "thing" for others, but for us, it's a big deal. We both retired on Friday, October 29, 2021. We always celebrate our retirement on the first Monday after October 29th, each year, at the same place, but usually much later in the morning.

It's supposed to be breakfast, but it ends up more like brunch. As usual, I look like I'm half asleep (musician's hours) but Lonna, who was starving by the time we got there, looks like she would happily devour half the menu!



Vienna is now eleven years old (Sep 28) and Cameron is 10 years old (Christmas Day). That we now have two grandchildren in double digits is surreal.

Adam and Talya's fingers represent how many years it's been since the day they met at this Starbucks in Sherman Oaks.




We left for California on January 5th and returned January 26th. We wanted to have plenty of time to spend with Adam, Talya and the grandkids in North Hollywood, visit Lonna's brother David, and his family in Seal Beach and to have a couple of days for her to visit a good friend in Santa Barbara.

One of the reasons we decided to visit in January was because Talya's mother was traveling to Antartica and offered us her home. It was a win-win because she didn't have to worry about leaving the home empty for nearly three weeks. It's a very nice, comfortable home in Burbank, close to the grandkids' school and to their home in North Hollywood. Adam and Talya gave us their car to drive while we were there, and they drove her mother's car.

During our visit, California experienced its worst rainfall in 150 years. This caused massive mudslides in Northern California, including Santa Barbara. Eventually, half of Santa Barbara's downtown district had to be evacuated. The trains going in and out of the city and surrounding areas shut down which ultimately cancelled our visit with Lonna's friend.

Even with inclimate weather, we still enjoyed the trip. We visited the Getty Center.

Later that day, Lonna had the opportunity to sit in Adam's time machine from "Back to the Future" for the first time.

We traveled around in Talya's mother's SUV quite a bit during our trip. Lonna and Talya road up front, Cameron, Vienna and I rode in the back seat, and Adam squeezed into the storage area. Lonna took the pics without me knowing about it, but Vienna was certainly aware.

On some of the rainy days, everyone joined Lonna and me for dinner and we also played "Apples to Apples" many times.

Because we were staying in Burbank, we were able to see a few landmarks.

We watched Vienna play basketball. She's on the Blue Team, number 14.

We watched Cameron work on basic skateboarding skills.

Lonna and Talya had an opportunity to do some walking and "catch up."

On January 15th, we headed to Seal Beach to visit Lonna's brother's family for the day. We wanted to meet "the boyfriends" before one of them (and Abby) had to go back to college. Left to right: Brandon, Sara, Abby and Ethan.

Left to right: David, Nancy, Sara, Lonna, Abby and me.

Back in North Hollywood, Lonna experienced some VR video on a Quest Headset.

We visited The Griffith Observatory.

Lonna, Talya and I visited the Americana Mall in Glendale, CA one evening. In the center of the mall was a beautiful fountain.

And of course, every shopping spree deserves to end with a nice meal. This one was at the Cheesecake Factory in the mall.

On January 21st, we said our goodbyes to Adam, Talya, Vienna and Cameron and headed south to Seal Beach to spend a couple of days with David and his family before returning to Columbus. (Pt. 2 Below)


Meta (Quest) is now offering their third version of the the Quest VR Headset.

Apple will soon be offering their own headset called "Apple VIsion Pro."

So how does Adam figure into this scenario?

He is the only videographer producing content in Immersive VR 180 8K at 60 frames per second. For those who know anything about video production, this is video at a scale that no commercial computer can process, 3GB per second. Adam had to build one for this type of video production.

Adam has more than 70 videos now posted on Meta Quest and DEO VR. The best way to see his work is to (in a headset) download the DEO VR app. Then subscribe to "FirstVlogger." This is Adam's name in the app. If you remember, he is the Guiness World Record holder for being the first ever video blogger.


He may soon achieve another first, this time as the first VR 180 videographer to garner a major deal with a multi-billion dollar entity.

Google hired him as an independent contractor to do a video in New Zealand about the original inhabitants of that country. It took about a week of spontaneous recording and many, many hours to produce the final five videos.

Then came... the NFL.

Here's what he can reveal. If you want to see how it was originally shot - VR 180 - you'll need a headset.

Here he is on TV at a RAMS game. He was allowed on the field during the warm-ups and then on the sidelines during the game. The footage can't be released to the public yet, but since I am, after all, his father, I had the privilege of seeing the videos. Words cannot describe them.

Now that he has shown the NFL what he can do, he has been asked to shoot the Superbowl in February, 2024. The future looks very promising for Adam's new venture.

As for the rest of the family, how's that saying go: "A family that VRs together, stays together?" Well, something like that...


Vienna entered a video that she made in a contest at school and won First Prize in that category.


The rains had subsided by the time we got to Seal Beach. Though it was unseasonably cold, there were still some beautiful evenings to be enjoyed.

Our niece, Sara, is the assistant manager of a Gorjana jewelry store at a mall in Newport Beach. On the way to her store, we were traveling on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). After a few minutes, we noticed water in the road and cars making U-turns to get away from the water. As it turned out, PCH was closed shortly thereafter because of what is known as a King Tide. This is a tide that is so high, it goes over the retaining walls and into the streets. This was on our second day in Seal Beach.

Later the same day, we traveled to Corona to visit with Nancy's parents, who own a condo there. On the way, we had a great view of snow-capped mountains from the highway.

Any visit with Dan and "Dodo" is never complete without a good meal.

Our last day was full. We walked the pier in the morning.

Sara and Brandon caught up with us in Brandon's 1964 Buick Riviera.

Later that afternoon, Sara and Lonna made the famous Blasi White Chocolate Pretzels that are sent to everyone in the family during the Christmas Season.

Our last evening in Seal Beach was spent dining outside at a very nice resaturant and then walking the beach one more time.


To recap, we spent 3 weeks in California, in January. During this time, besides the rains and mudslides, there was an earthquake, a King Tide, and on our way out of the state, we experienced yet another weather anomaly.

At the airport, there was a pre-boarding announcement that anyone who needed to use the restroom would need to do so before they boarded because the plane's restrooms would not be functioning until we reached 16,000 feet or higher. As we boarded and before the plane took off, the pilot made this announcement (paraphrasing): "Hello everyone. This is your pilot. If you need to use the restroom, you must exit the plane and use the ones in the terminal. Please take your luggage with you if you do exit, because once we are ready to take off, we will not be waiting on you. For those of you who are staying on the plane, please know that the restrooms cannot be used until we reach 16,000 feet so suck it up." The entire cabin roared with laughter.

We learned the reason for this was that there were Santa Ana Winds in the area and apparently airplane toilets don't "flush" correctly (use your imagination) when there are extreme crosswinds in the flight path. Who knew?



Brooke & Kenny have been together nearly seven years. They still live about five minutes from us in Clintonville (North Columbus), just south of Worthington, OH. This picture is from last year.

Brooke's two children are Aleena (age 11 in December) and Grayson (age 10, February 2024). The pic is from Father's Day when we all walked from our house to G.D. Ritzy's for some ice cream.

Kontras Performance is now in its fifth year and doing very well. Whenever I visit, I see the amount of work being done on such a variety of cars and it makes my head spin.

I got a call from Kenny one day. He said, "Hey there. I've got a car in the shop that I think you would love to see. It's a 1969 Plymouth Barracuda and it's beautiful!"

Needless to say, once I got that call, I made it a point to go to the shop. Kenny was right.


When Kenny was about 12 or 13 years old, his love of cars and especially working on them, started to emerge. Fortunately, our next door neighbor, Kirk, had the same passion. He worked on cars in his garage not just for himself, but for others as well. He is defintely a top-notch mechanic. Kirk took Kenny under his wing, educating him on all facets of automobile mechanics. Kenny soaked up the information like a sponge.

Now, Kenny is not only Kirk's part time employer, but a teacher as well. Kirk is learning new things from Kenny about the ultra high performance car business. What makes Kirk such a valuable asset to the shop is his meticulous attention to detail and his work ethic. Anyone that knows this business will tell you that finding qualified mechanics with the skill sets needed to work in this environment is very difficult.

I had the opportunity to visit the shop in November. Kenny was changing the top portion of my stage keyboard stand, which required removing welds, cutting tubing, and then re-welding the parts in their new location. It had to be precise, or the top keyboard would not sit level on the stand. Needless to say, he did an excellent job. While I was there, Kirk and I caught up on family and friends. And of course, we needed a good selfie!

This year, Kontras Performance became a proud co-sponsor with M2 Racing of a competition fuel dragster.

The shop is now dyno-tuning motorcylces, which has brought in a new group of customers and further enhanced the business.



Nick and I still make it a point to get together about once a month for coffee, and... sometimes... a small pastry. After all, we do meet at coffee shops and I don't think one exists that doesn't serve pastries.

I'm convinced Nick has the only "Bad Ass Edition" White Chevy Silverado 4x4 in the world.

This year, we decided to talk about our upbringing in a Greek household in the 1950s and 60s on camera. I set up a couple chairs and recorded everything for nearly three hours. The result was something far better than I could have hoped for. In fact, I turned it into a nine part series called "WEISHEIMER." Here's an excerpts reel from the series. You can watch the entire series here.


Nick has always wanted to play guitar well enough to perform with me on stage. I have always wanted to play guitar on some easier songs that I used to do in my solo act years ago. As an epilogue to the "WEISHEIMER" series, we decided to work up a couple of tunes, with both of us playing guitar. To be sure, neither of us are guitarists by any stretch of the imagination.

First comes "Brown Eyed Girl." Then, Lonna enters the studio just as we are listening to the playback, and livens things up a little. We then try the Luke Combs tune "5 Leaf Clover," which I was not very familiar with but we got through it. In between doing these songs, we talk a little more about our upbringing.



On a side note, it seems that Nick and Linda, his significant other, are major Luke Combs fans. In fact, they traveled to Nashville on a Friday, went to his concert that night, and came back on Saturday. I am also a fan of Combs, but not anywhere near the degree they are.

As great as the concert was, their accommodations were not. They texted some video about the "priceless" hotel room they enjoyed at the "Hermitage Ritz Carlton" which does not exist. The only hotel in Nashville with the word "hermitage" in its name is the Hermitage Hotel. I can absolutely guarantee you they did not stay here.


I'm fairly certain they stayed at the Hermitage Inn in Hermitage, TN, based on the video you just watched.


I can't move onto the next segment without mentioning "Goofy." This Disney character completely encapsulates Nick's personality. This year, Nick and Linda went to Disney World in Florida and Nick finally met his hero.

Now that his "Goofy" cap has been signed, I'm sure it will never be washed again.

Here are Nick and Linda with Nick's oldest daughter, Andrea.



My brother David is the bailiff for Judge Michael Holbrook and will probably maintain his position until the judge retires, which could very well be at the conclusion of his term in 2028.

Judge Holbrook is a Republican with mixed reviews. He and David are aligned politically which means that much of David's thinking revolves around politics. This is understandable because politics determines whether or not he has a job. He has worked in the Franklin County Court System for nearly 30 years. In the last election, David nearly lost his job because Judge Holbrook was re-elected by only 50.3% of the vote, which was about 2,300 more votes than his Democratic opponent, Zach Gwin.

If you've read any of my pages over the years, you know that David and I are not aligned politically. This has never been a problem in our family because there are many different political views among us. Mom and Dad (may they rest in peace) would not allow any conversation about politics during family gatherings. And they were very verbal about it, as Greeks are prone to be.

But after Mom passed and Dad got much older, David would sneak in a verbal jab about "those liberals" without Dad hearing it. This usually happened regardless of the topic of the conversation. It irritated me, not because I'm some far-left liberal - I certainly am not - but because there was no need for the jab to begin with.

But that's his life, and that's fine. I however, choose not to take the bait when he does this, because I really don't want the quality of my familial relationships to be determined by political views.

With one exception.

A few days after the election in November of 2020, David called to discuss something about Dad, who was not within ear-shot of the conversation. We talked for a few minutes and then, true-to-form, he interjected some comment about Biden not winning the election because there was "...fraud that needs to be investigated."

I stopped him before he could go any further and said, "David. Those claims are a smoke-screen. There was no fraud. Trump lost and not only that, he is going to be indicted." That put an end to the conversation and it was the last time we spoke about politics. I don't know if he would vote for the man again, but I do know that David is a reasonable person. As one who works in our criminal court system, my thinking is he would respect the findings of the courts - many of whom have Republican judges that were appointed by Trump - and not vote for a criminal who will be convicted.

On a lighter note, here he is with the family on vacation this past summer. Only three of their six kids could make it. Left to right: Carly's boyfriend Charles, Carly, Beth (in back), David, Billy and Gracie. Nick, Jacob and Meghan were not able to go.



My sister Renee, and her husband Aaron, who originally co-owned the RnR Bar & Grill in Hilliard, OH...

...are now working with a new set of partners and have completely revamped the bar. It's called The Black Swan Bar & Grill.

According to Renee, about $150,000 was spent to renovate the bar. Hopefully, things will continue to boom for them. They work seven days a week and they certainly deserve the success the bar is now experiencing.

Recently, the local NBC station did a quick promo on their business.



Our niece Abby, graduated from Miami University (OH) on May 14th.



This was defintely the year for seeing the grandkids, and for Adam to expand his VR 180 video posts. It was a very busy fifteen days.


You'll notice in many of the shots in the video, Adam is carrying a very strange looking camera. This is the camera he took to the Rams game in November and to New Zealand before that. This trip gave him many opportunities to use the camera and increase his presence in VR world.


Lonna and I have a rule about not eating in the basement suite, where everyone stayed while they were here. But Adam, not thinking, or maybe thinking he wouldn't get caught, decided to take a quart of ice cream downstairs and eat it while the family was playing video games. I saw him do this and immediately knocked on their door.

"Come in" said Talya. I stepped just inside the entry way, looked straight at Adam, and with my index finger motioning him to come to me, I said, "Come out here for a minute. We need to talk." Needless to say, he knew he was busted, and put the remainder of the ice cream back in the freezer upstairs. He then sent me a text. (Note the time)



My Aunt Stella was married to my mom's brother, Gus Kontras, for 42 years, until he passed. They had 3 children (my cousins), Connie, Greg and Kathy. She remarried a few years later and was married for 24 more years until her second husband passed.

Throughout her life, her focus was always to help others through her work in medicine. Her level of accomplishment in this field was astonishing. Below is just a portion of her obituary.

I have a very personal story about Aunt Stella. I've never written about it in all the years I've been writing Year End Pages. I doubt that any of my family members know this story.

On Thursday, October 9, 1975, Adam was born prematurely with Hyaline Membrane Disease, which is the lungs' inability to produce enough oxygen for the blood. It is relatively common with premature births. Because of this, Adam was put in an incubator with additional oxygen being pumped in to help him breath.

That evening, I was performing with Reflection at a club called The Sangria North. I had a terrible infection in my right ear, which completely incapacitated it.

Three days later, on Sunday morning, Adam's right lung collapsed. Thanks to an older, very experienced nurse who noticed this right away, a doctor was called in immediately. He made a small hole in Adam's chest and inserted an oxygen tube into the lung to keep it inflated. Once the procedure was completed, Adam was rushed to Children's Hospital. My Aunt Stella was notified of his condition and was there when he arrived to make sure everything was being done to keep Adam alive. Adam's mother was still in the hospital under sedation due to these circumstances.

My father-in-law at the time, was trying to call me, but because I was laying on my left side, my "good" ear was buried in a pillow and I could not hear the phone ringing with my "bad" ear. After several attempts to reach me by phone, he drove over to our townhouse apartment. He saw that my car was there so he assumed I was asleep. He started throwing pebbles at our 2nd floor bedroom window. I finally turned over, and heard the stones hitting the glass. I looked out the window, and there he was, trying to explain what was going on with Adam. Needless to say, I immediately got dressed and drove to Children's Hospital.

To this day, I have no idea who contacted Aunt Stella. All I know is that her assistance with Adam's care, both medically and administratively, saved his life. He was in the ICU at Children's Hopsital for eight days. Once his lungs were able to function on their own, he was allowed to come home.

This was Aunt Stella's MO. She cared deeply about all the patients she worked with and went above and beyond to help thousands over the years, not just family members.

Not only did the family lose the final chapter of our parents' generation, but the community lost a medical giant.



I was cleaning out files on old devices and ran across this video from 2012 on Lonna's parents' iPad. I remember the evening because Lonna was trying to show her mom how to use it.




Lonna's sister Linda, and her husband Gary, experience VR for the first time.

They were visiting their grandkids in New Jersey and the family decided to have some fun with a Meta/Quest headset. It's always fun to watch people from our generation try this, even if you can't see what they are seeing. You can hear their daughter Kristin, and their one grandson, Matthew in the background giving advice. I believe Kristin is handling the camera duties. Now if I could just get her to hold the phone horizontally...



Lonna's niece Angie, was the Athletic Trainer at Marion High School in Celina, OH. After years with NASCAR, and then about two years in Celina, she decided she did not want to be "on the field" anymore. She now works for OSU Physician's Inc in Dublin, Ohio, in their Outpatient Phjysician's Clinic, but lives in Marysville.

Just before moving to Marysville, Angie invited us to Celina on Easter Sunday for dinner and a tour of the town. Of course, there's video...


Angie joined us for Thanksgiving Dinner on November 23rd. As always, Lonna's cooking was great and I handled the bird-cutting duties - not so great.




Unity has been around for well over 100 years but many people do not even know of it's existence. Here are some FAQs about Unity that will give you a basic idea about our beliefs.



This was a remarkable find after I had already published the 2023 Year End Page. I plan to keep it as part of this segment for many years. Speaking with Oprah Winfrey in 2013, Maya Angelou reveals how she discovered Unity and how the knowledge that God loves her can still bring tears to her eyes.


This is my 11th year performing at Unity, playing piano and singing once a month and for the past two years or so, handling the live streaming duties once a month.

We are a small congregation (20-30 people in attendance and 10-15 online). Our church is a Unity Church, based primarily on the teachings of Jesus. We focus on the New Testament and how to apply what Unity calls "Practical Christianity" in our daily lives. There's no fire and brimstone, talk of us being sinners, or punishment by God, etc. God, in whatever name or form you believe, is the spirit within all of us to do good, not some white-bearded man in the sky judging you when you get to the "pearly gates." We don't believe in Heaven and Hell. We believe that each of us have all the tools we need within us (God) to be the best we can be. Whether we chose to use these tools is up to us. But they (God) are there.

Please visit the church's YouTube Channel and view messages from our Minister, Joanne Blum. They are short, succinct and very beneficial for everyday living. Her husband is Joe Lambert. Together they provide the music on some Sundays and Joe handles the live streaming duties on nearly every Sunday. Sometimes, he has to do both! To learn more, please visit the website.

Unity Church of Delaware holds two big musical fundraisers a year. A summer concert, which is usually held outdoors on a large stage, in the back of the church.

And a Fall Coffeehouse Concert usually held in early November, in our fellowship room.

Both are well attended and all are welcome to perform - pros and amateurs alike. It's a "warm" audience and this encourages people to go beyond their comfort zones and have a little fun.


This year however, our community experienced a once-in-a-lifetime performance by none other than my wife, Lonna. She's been a huge Jimmy Buffett fan throughout his career. When Jimmy passed earlier this year, an album of all new material was released. The first single release from the album is called "Bubble's Up."

Lonna decided she was going to introduce the song to our congregation by singing it.

We practiced for several days before the concert.

When the magical evening finally arrived, she wanted to back out, just as the act before her was finishing up! I said something like, "Not on your life! You're here, your name is in the program, you're more than ready to do this, you're going on next. Don't worry, they'll love you!."

And they did.


I had a debut of sorts this year as well. During the summer concert, which was held indoors because of the heat, I played guitar and sang for the first time ever in public. I was very comfortable playing guitar and singing in the studio, but doing this in front of a live audience, with musicians who were not that familiar with the song, was a whole new experience. Once again, having a "warm" audience always helps.



Len Loraditch was a co-worker at MAPFRE Insurance for several years. His cubicle was across from mine so we had many opportunities to talk for a few minutes throughout the day. He was a paralegal who drove from Lancaster, Ohio each day to our location on the far west side of Columbus in his bright yellow Saturn 2-seater sports car.

As much as I knew about Len, what I didn't know is he's a car buff. I learned this only after both of us were no longer working for MAPFRE, when we met for lunch in Lancaster in June.

He pulled up in a 1965 (the year he graduated from high school) Mercury Monterey that was in pristene condition. It has the original drivetrain, interior and paint job! For you car buffs out there: all the numbers match! This is a rare gem of a car.

Len told me about a major health issue he was experiencing. He was very up front about it and answered all the questions I asked. That's his way. Direct and to the point. (Sometimes I think he should have become an attorney rather than being a paralegal for our attorney at MAPFRE.) In any case, I hope he does okay through this rough patch in his journey and maybe we can get together again soon.



Another co-worker from MAPFRE Insurance, John Gardner, and I continue to meet for lunch. We always invite the other two "Gang of Four" members, but they are not always able to join us. In March, one of the two did stop by. Left to right: John Gardner, Rich O'Hara and me.

In September, we sent out another invitation, but Rich and Steve (Reffitt) were not able to attend.

Rich still works for MAPFRE and is usually stuck in meetings and Steve's start-up insurance company is doing very well which keeps him really busy. Oh, did I mention his three young children? That might also be what keeps him busy. His wife is Samantha, who owns her own insurance agency.

And the MAPFRE Insurance building? It is no longer. All the current employees work from home. The building and land were sold, then the building was torn down. A couple of years ago, storage units were built on the property.

Rumor has it, our former boss (Senior VP Greg Clark) may very well join us on the next lunch. Here he is with his wife, Lana.



...orders a beer and starts talking to the bartender. He soon learns that the bartender is also the owner and that he too is a musician - a keyboard player. The guitar player was Doug Smith. The keyboard player/bar owner was me. The year was 1987.

Little did we know then that Smith 'N' Kontras would go on to write dozens of songs and perform live for nearly five years, including two performances on national television - with the vocal help of Ryan Smith, no relation to Doug - on The Nashville Network (TNN) and three performances at the National Writers' Night at the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN.

Doug and his wife Cindy, moved to Nashville in the mid-1990s, putting a period on the Smith 'N' Kontras chapter of their lives. They lived in Mt. Juliet, just outside of Nashville, for about 25 years. Early this year, they moved back to Ohio and now live in Marysville. We've visited with them on many occasions over the last several months, but the visit everyone wanted was the one where Doug and I get together and perform some Smith 'N' Kontras songs.

On November 17th we did just that. Doug and Cindy had never seen the updated studio. After a quick tour of it and our downstairs guest suite, Doug and I got "down to business" trying to see what songs we remembered after not performing together for 28 years. Our wives were our audience, cheering us on for nearly three hours. However, the video below is highly condensed.



After 48 years since our first performance, three of the four members of the band "Reflection" had lunch together this year. (The fourth member is no longer living in Colmubus.) The last time the original members performed together was the spring of 1978. Needless to say it was a long and entertaining lunch. Left to right: Pete Goldhardt, (Drums & Vocals), David Show (Bass & Vocals) and me.

Here's our promo pic from 1975.

Dan Westbrock (Guitar & Vocals) is pictured below back in May with his favorite bartender, Allie, at Rooster's Bar & Grill on Olentangy River Road in Columbus. He now lives in Florida, but when he heard about the lunch and realized he could not attend, he sent us a pic.



Marla Flewellen and her wife, Michelle, have been friends of ours since the mid 2000s. They were attendees at the Unity Church of Columbus during the time I was the administrator there under Rev. Linda Poole Kennedy. At the time, they were in the process of adopting two young boys and were seeking counseling from Rev. Linda. Marla was especially interested in Rev. Linda's words because she too wanted to become a minister someday.

Fast forward 17 years. Both boys are finishing up high school and Marla has realized her dream. She was installed as the minister of the St. Paul United Church of Christ on Sunday, December 10th. Although she had been ministering the church for a year prior to this day due to health issues with the current minister, this day made it official that she would now be the church's leader. They couldn't have asked for a better person to officially assume the ministerial duties. She is absolutely one of the kindest people we know and her empathy knows no bounds. She's exactly where she's supposed to be. Congratulations Marla!

In the top right corner of this next picture is Marla's wife, Michelle, the lady in the black coat.




The studio was busy this year and also had a few personal projects. You'll see some of these videos throughout this Year End Page. The "WEISHEIMER" Series with my brother Nick. A video of us playing guitar on a couple tunes with me singing. A "Smith 'N' Kontras" Reunion of sorts, with hopefully, more to come next year. I was also busy with some smaller outside projects, including our church's first time ever Christmas Memorial Video, which is slated to be an annual event.

I've worked with companies and individuals for more than 30 years, producing quality video and audio recordings. In addition to these production services, I provide small website building and maintenance, graphic design, analog-to-digital transfers of reel-to-reel, cassette and VHS tapes as well as vinyl records and photo restorations. Please visit my website at www.StudioArtistsColumbus.com where all the services are discussed as well as prices and testimonials from customers.

Feel free to contact me directly: michaelkontras2009@gmail.com or 614-561-8577.



2023 marked TGL's 16th year on stage and my 12th year with the band. On Friday, October 27th, we celebrated our 700th performance. Here's a taste of what we sound like today.

THESE GUYS LIVE has over 30 dates booked for 2024 already. Come out to one of our shows. We promise, you will not be disappointed. Here's our Schedule.





Millions of overweight people all around this country are suffering from mid-to-late-life poor health due primarily to bad eating habits. More than anywhere else, I am reminded of this everytime I go to the grocery store. Even with everything we now know about the health issues caused by consuming processed foods, including alcohol and soft drinks, we still do not see the obvious: that foods like what you see being purchased in the pictures below are slowly and prematurely, making us ill and killing us.

I am the last person to judge those who are overweight. I spent over forty years in their shoes. I am saddened when I see others suffering from this condition. It's heart-breaking to know that they could be willingly jeopardizing their health in their later years.

As for me, being overweight was never a problem when I was younger. I did anything I wanted to do with no physical restrictions. I performed music two to three nights a week (carrying my own gear), hand-washed my cars all the time in all kinds of weather, had no problem climbing 30 to 40 stairs at a time, etc. I was blind to my condition, ignoring the soon-to-be-obvious signs that my health was deteriorating. And although I would have preferred being thinner, there was no need to do anything about it because I felt fine!

Then one day, I was 59 years old and weighed 260 lbs. I was only 5' 8" tall.

My knees, back and hips started aching. During one of my annual physicals, I complained about this to my primary physician. He determined that most of the problem was due to my failing knees, but before he would recommend a good knee replacement surgeon, I had to lose weight.

I lost the weight twice in years past, in less than a year each time, only to put it back on soon after. Trying to lose all the weight in a short period of time was not the answer. Bad eating habits that took 20-30 years to accumulate cannot be eliminated in one year.

It was time for a different approach.

Beginning in 2010, I realized that I had three major areas around food that needed to change in my life with several bad habits in each area: WHEN, WHAT and HOW MUCH. I tackled each of them separately, making sure that each step taken became a habit that stayed with me. In the past, I tried to take on all the steps at once. Obviously, that didn't work.


(2010-2011) This was the hardest to tackle. When I was a full time musician, (up at 10:00-10:30am and in bed by 2:00-3:00am) I didn't eat breakfast. I started eating at about noon. I had dinner around 5:00pm and then a large snack late in the evening or after a gig. In between, I would snack. Once I was off the road and working a full time day job (up at 6:00am and in bed by 12:00-12:30am), my eating schedule was similar, only I started with snacking mid-morning, had an early afternoon lunch, ate dinner around 6:00pm, and then snacked late into the night.

To begin with, I realized that my metabolism, slow as it was in my younger years, was even slower in my 60s. I learned that eating late in the evening did not give my body enough time to digest the food before going to sleep, and this made the first half of my sleep less beneficial. My digestive system was working when the rest of my body wanted to rest. I started cutting off my food consumption at 6:00pm. But this change did not happen quickly. It took nearly a year for me to keep from eating late at night. I lost 20 lbs in that first year.

Once I had this under control, I then realized I was hungry in the morning. (Duh) I started eating breakfast. By doing so, I was kick-starting my digestive system early, and this also helped me do less snacking during the day.


(2011-2012) This was not far behind "WHEN" in difficulty. In my younger years, I did develop a taste for vegetables, which I still eat to this day. But I ate them with large portions of beef, chicken, pork, fish, pasta, potatoes, bread and cheese, not to mention potato chips, corn chips and salsa, Fritos, Cheetos, and the occasional Milky Way or Snickers candy bar. (I still eat a York Peppermint Patty at least twice a week.) Plus, I was eating pizza regularly. Breakfast consisted of sweet rolls, doughnuts, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, etc. So even though I was changing when I ate, I needed to change what I ate. On September 16, 2012, I started logging my weight every morning and I still do to this day, along with notes on what I eat and when. Here's an example of my daily weight/intake sheet. It took nearly a year to make small changes in what I ate. And even after that year, my food selections still needed to improve drastically. I lost another 25 lbs by the end of 2012.


(2013-2023) This is the constant struggle that I will have until I no longer inhabit this earth. My appetite is still very large! I LOVE to eat. (What Greek person doesn't?) What I had to do was learn to eat foods that I could consume in large quantities without concern about my health. Fruits and vegetables, along with quality greens, made that possible.

At the beginning of 2013, I weighed about 215 lbs. Over the last 10 years, I have weighed as little as 163.4 lbs, but I found myself being hungry, especially on days when I had performances and didn't have time to eat my regular foods. My best weight seems to be about 170 lbs. My clothes fit well and I can control my portions without too much effort.



Lonna helped me by being an example of healthy eating. She did not pester me about my weight. She simply went about her daily eating routine. I learned a lot by watching her prepare food for herself, which, to my surprise, actually tasted good. Here she is trying a new recipe. (Note the ingredients she's using.)


Occasionally, she would send me an article, or ask me to watch a movie, about healthy eating. Slowly, I started to understand what the above mentioned foods were doing to me. Even though it took years for the information to sink into my thick-headed skull, I eventually came to my own conclusions about the foods I was consuming.


Supplements designed to curb one's appetite have been shown to have many side effects, including harm to the cardiovascular system. This is also true for pills that "block" carbohydrates so your body does not absorb them. Trying to alter the body's digestive process is a horribly stupid idea and very dangerous.


Exercising solely for the purpose of losing weight is futile. The weight will return. The priority needs to be good health, not weight loss. Once good health is truly achieved, weight loss is automatic. Your body will eventually find its ideal weight and stay there, if the foods you consume give it that chance. I'm not saying "don't exercise," I'm saying exercise is part of being healthy.


I posted this picture back in 2019 and I think it's worth showing again. It sits framed on the credenza in my studio/office as a reminder of why I am now able to write about this issue. My hope is that maybe someday, someone will read this and be inspired to help themselves or others who are headed towards a slow suicide.





Lonna's sister, Lissa and her husband John, came to Columbus for a few days over the summer. John is a Vietnam War Veteran who was an Air Force Pilot. In private life, he flew as a commercial pilot for Northwest Airlines for decades.

On August 14, we all went to the National Museum of the United State Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.


This facility is sprawling. Because of John's knowledge of aircraft, both military and commercial, he was able to guide us through much of what we did see. One plane that interested me greatly was President John F. Kennedy's Air Force One.

The interior was protected with plexiglass, but I was still able to get a few decent pics.

This was President Eisenhower's private plane.



As many times as Lonna and I have driven to Memphis to visit Lissa and John, we never do much of the "touristy" stuff when we're there. This time, however, we made plans to meet our friends, Don & Linda from North Carolina, in Downtown Memphis. They had never been there before and apparently, a tour of Memphis was on their Bucket List.

You don't go sightseeing in Memphis and not see the world famous Peabody Ducks.

A bus tour through the city also gave us a chance to see Sun Studio. The young lady singing and playing guitar made for an enjoyable bus ride through Memphis.

The Stax Museum was one of the highlights for me during our visit to downtown Memphis. So many great memories of the musical artists of that era. Being a keyboard player, Booker T. and the MGs was obviously an influence early in my career. And then there's that gold-trimmed Cadillac of Isaac Hayes'...


Straight from England, The Mersey Beatles are by far the best Beatles tribute band I've ever seen or heard. And apparently, others feel the same way. They packed this auditorium in Memphis for several shows.

History, as it is written today, does not begin to cover the complete story of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. This museum goes a long way toward correcting the record. We were asked not to take photos in certain areas of the museum, for security purposes. Obviously, there's a lot of people that don't want the whole story told.

But what we did see and read shook me to my core. It is painful to now know how we treated our fellow Americans simply because their skin was a different color.

Just for identification purposes, here are Don & Linda FaceTiming with us on December 17th.



We have some young families now living in our neighborhood so Beggar's Night is fairly busy. To say there are some cute kids coming to our door is an understatement.

First up: Lucy (left) and Maddie. They live right next door to us with their mom and dad, Lauren and Bo, who are both cardiologists.

Directly across the street, we have Mabel, along with her mom and dad, Laura and Dennis, who are both teachers.

Grayson and Aleena always stop by with Kenny and Brooke.

Not to be outdone, on the other side of the country are the grandkids, Vienna and Cameron, along with Adam and Talya.



It's still there at the corner of North High Street and Morse Road in North Columbus, Ohio, and it's still not working.

The lot has looked like this since the summer of 2021. But it looks like there is a future life for this iconic landmark. Chick-fil-A has started construction on the site. The pic below was taken October 24th.

This is the most recent pic, taken January 4, 2024.

Chic-fil-A promised they would not only keep the sign, but would completely renovate it to its original condition and that it would work like it did in the 1950s, when it was first built. We'll see...



Lonna and I were overdue for new bikes. Hers was every bit of 50 years old and mine was at least 40 years old. There was no need to spend a lot of money because we just ride around the neighborhood. So we went to a used bike store nearby called "Once Ridden Bikes."

After spending some time looking at bikes, sitting on bikes and then test riding them on the sidewalk in front of the store, we found a couple that suited us well. Oddly, the bike I found was actually a new bike but cost only $100 more than Lonna's choice. Bottom line, with our trade-ins, we spent less than $500 for both bikes. Perfect!



We've had many guests to our back porch for lunch and dinner, but never for breakfast. This little guy decided it was time to change that.



A couple of videos that helped me celebrate my birthday this year. The first one is from my good friend and former songwriting partner, Doug Smith. The second is from my cousin Denise, who is apparently making this an annual event.



I often say "If I never see snow again, it wouldn't bother me a bit." But as the seasons start to change from summer to winter, I have to admit that the month of October is a pretty special month in our neighborhood. The colors of the trees are magnificent and just a quick car ride through the area puts a smile on your face. It really is beautiful.


Back in April, I put together a quick video of people walking their dogs and babies through our neighborhood. What you see is from just one quick bike ride. I call it "The Dog and Baby Tour."



Observing the national political landscape has always been a passion of mine. I am interested in who is running for the presidency, what we learn about them, what they tell us about themselves and how they see the future of our country. This year, there is only one party's candidate running for president that has the right to do so. And although we have a two-party system of government, the other party wants us to believe that a person who has been indicted four times, with over ninety charges against him, is somehow a viable candidate to be the leader of the free world.


This scenario would be laughable if it wasn't so dangerous. And as much as I would like to blame all of this insanity on the candidate, the truth is, it's us, the citizens of this country, that is allowing this danger to once again try to become our president, or should I say, "Dictator." We are the problem, as Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. of Princeton University, so eloquently told us back in October. (Sorry for the poor video quality, this was a screenshot video. If anyone can find a quality copy of this, please contact me at mkontras@aol.com Thanks!)


In what has to be one of the best commencement speeches I've ever seen, Tom Hanks gives these graduates a lot to consider about their future and the future of our country.


Often times we hear, "Young people nowadays have everything handed to them. They have a sense of entitlement, as if the world owes them something. They don't know what hard work is. They have no sense of urgency." And while this may be true for some of today's youth, there are those who work hard, have the courage to speak their convictions and stand up for what they know is right, even when their life is being threatened, forcing them to move to a different state, in an undisclosed location that even their parents can't know, with security guards, just to be safe. All this, for telling the truth.

Cassidy Hutchinson is one of these young people. Her story is certainly not one of privilege. She was raised in a middle class Republican household who was very supportive of Trump, as was she. So much so, that she worked her way up the Republican internship ladder and ended up on Trump's Whitehouse staff as the Executive Assistant to Mark Meadows, who was Trump's last Whitehouse Chief of Staff. Her testimony before the January 6th Committee was riveting.

So is her book.


Former Republican Representative Liz Cheney is not someone I would vote for if she was running for a House Seat in my district. We have nothing in common politically, that I know of. But when she agreed to be a part of the January 6th Committee, I was elated. She is a conservative's conservative who risked everything politically to do the right thing. This ultimately cost her her seat in the House of Representatives, yet she has not waivered from what she knows is the truth. This book is a very detailed accounting of all that took place behind the scenes in the months leading up to the 2020 election. It then takes you through all that went on leading up to January 6, 2021 and finally, through the committee's investigation. There is no reson to think for one minute that she is not telling the truth. If she wasn't, there would be dozens suing her for liable and defamation because she does not hold back names. To date, there have been no lawsuits filed. Let's face it: it's hard to sue the truth and win.

The walls closing in may be exactly what feeds him, but please know that many who voted for Trump in 2020, will not vote for him again in 2024. It would require him gaining those voters back and closing the gap on seven million votes, in order for him to win. In fact, with (1) major legal issues in several states where at least one conviction will be rendered before the election, with (2) the possibility he could be jailed for not keeping his mouth shut after being ordered to do so by more than one judge, and with (3) some mental cohesion and physical health issues, I don't think he gets all the way through the Republican Convention as the nominee. But God knows I've been wrong far more often than I've been right.

Even if the former President manages to secure the nomination as the Republican Candidate, I believe President Biden will definitively win the election. I say this believing that most mainstream Republicans will either not vote at all or, vote for Biden just to keep Trump out of the Whitehouse.

After reading both of the books above, that were written by Republicans, I am certain of this: Republicans won't attack him publicly, but privately, they want him out of the way.

As for all four of those people mentioned? They fall equally on both sides of the political spectrum, but most of all, they are people who love this country. They show us that the road ahead is controlled by us. Either we make the choice to preserve our democratic republic, or throw it away.


After President Biden starts his second term, I think there's a strong possibilty he will resign before his term is up, and hand the reigns to Vice President Kamala Harris. This, of course, would make the history books. She would be the first woman - and a Black/Asian woman at that - to become President.

Honestly, I can't think of any reason why he wouldn't want to do this. At his age, does he really need the headaches that another four years as President would bring?



Another "gift" from Doug Smith. It seems my former songwriting partner likes SmashUps.



Lonna and I have been doing Year End Videos for many years. It's a time for us to reflect on the closing year and the blessings it brought. This was recorded Christmas Day.





Thanks for taking the time to read and watch my year end page.

Have a great 2024!