Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of Firing and Fueling Up

One of my best friends in radio thinks he's going to get fired today.

He laid his case out there for me to see, and if I were him I'd feel the same way. If it happens it will continue my former employer's streak of making remarkably bad programming decisions. Good people who were instrumental in the station's success are being dismissed by people who have been instrumental in that same station's failure. Yet, those in management continue to keep their jobs. I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Hearing of someone's dismissal still brings back memories of mine, and you never get over it.

Just hearing that more people are expected to ring in the New Year here this year than last year, which puzzles me, considering our economy is "on the brink of total collapse". Rooms on the Strip go anywhere from $199-$799 a night. Not cheap. Everything's more expensive. Flights to Vegas this week cost more, too. Funny. I don't recall a huge rush to Las Vegas to celebrate New Year's during the actual Great Depression of the 1930's. Yet, 300,000 people will be on the Strip tonight. How can we actually have more people coming during the time of a huge economic downturn? Anyone?

They're coming to escape the realities of that same disastrous economy! At least, that's what we're led to believe. Again, it's all about turning a positive into a negative. That seems to be what the news media- of which I am a member- seems to do best these days.

Gotta go buy a tank of gas before work. Heck, it's so cheap now, I may even buy a tank for the guy next to me. He may just be one of the vast minority who doesn't have a job- though the odds are against it.

Monday, December 29, 2008


It's my birthday today, and from all indications, it will be a day like any other. My work hours are a little different (12p-8p), so there won't be any going out and celebrating- not that there would be if I worked 4a-noon. I'll hang out with the dog, grab some lunch, read about the Packers' game, and head into work. I'll get home at 8:30, watch a little TV with Pumpkin, and turn in. Day over. That's fine.

All things considered, I'd rather be 43 than 23. I remember what 23 was like. No money, uncertain future, crappy apartment (unless I was living with my parents, which was possible). 23 wasn't a lot of fun. I hadn't learned anything yet. Sure, I'd gone away to college, but anyone who equates college to a "real life" experience is a first-class moron.

As you get older, you're supposed to acquire a certain amount of wisdom, wisdom gained from one crushing defeat or heartbreak after another. I'd rather have wisdom than youth right now. The only thing that doesn't improve with age is potential. You have a ton of potential in your teens and 20's, but by the time you get into your 40's, you're supposed to have tapped into it. Get laid off when you're 45? Time to start over. You don't hear things like, " he has the potential to do.....". Nope. That's the only thing that scares me but, frankly, it scares me a little bit less than it did when I was jobless 12 months ago.

Should I become jobless again in 2009 (and earlier I predicted that would happen), there aren't a lot of 'potential' options for a 43 year old guy. Still, I'd rather be closer to retirement. Maybe I'm closer than I'd like to be. Here's to me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Day

I just came in from shaking a ton of snow off of my trees in the back yard. I don't know if they can be saved. You don't landscape a Vegas back yard thinking that six inches of snow is going to fall. Maybe I should do that next time. Who knew? Certainly not the weather people, who are great at telling me it's going to be sunny 7 days in a row, but totally miss the biggest snow event in 29 years (although they did say that areas above 3,000 feet would get at least five inches. Way to go, guys!).

It's still snowing as I write. It began roughly 5 hours ago. I now realize that my nostalgic feeling for snow was badly misguided. I don't mind it when I'm sitting inside the house, but otherwise there's nothing good about it. It took me an hour to get home from the dentist, a trip that usually takes 20 minutes. Pumpkin's car isn't designed for snowy travel, and I'm nervous about her drive home. My aforementioned trees are at risk of dying, meaning more money wasted on the backyard. The early drive tomorrow will no doubt be slick and dangerous. I don't know if what I've driven on today has damaged the under body of my car, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.
In the tradition of disgruntled Iraqis, I almost threw a shoe at the TV a few minutes ago. They featured a five year old kid enjoying the "joy and wonder" of the snowfall. Here's what that kid needs to do: Grab a shovel and get to work. Nothing takes the "joy and wonder" away from snowfall like having to clean it off, shake it off, dry it off, and pay it off. Look at the snowball he made!!! Give him a broom, for Kringle's sake!

I'm just cranky, and using the blog to get it out, instead of getting on Pumpkin for a dumb reason like her loving snow.

Breaking News: Southwest Airlines just canceled all their remaining flights out of McCarran for the night. I wonder how that kid would feel about the "joy and wonder" of snow if it caused him to sleep at the gate for the night.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Writer's Block

I don't know what to write about.

Most columnists are like the equivalent of Mexican food. They write basically the same thing each time, but they just package it differently. I'm not a columnist, but it feels like I'm starting to do the same two or three topics over and over again. Whether it's riffing on the economy, or the sad state of radio, you can only change up the phraseology so many times.

What's left? Just random thoughts and expressions about my day, my weekend, my life. I'm thankful that my life is so routine that I don't have any drama to write about. I go to work in 90 minutes, a bit of a departure from my regular shift, such as that is. Right now, Maverick (my dog) is sitting at my feet, staring at me like I've forgotten something. That, or he's wondering what I'm doing home at this time. He's very routine oriented, just like his master. He's still staring. There has to be something that I've forgotten, and it must be food related for him to be staring this long.

He just sighed. He must really think I'm some kind of idiot.

Even though I'll be anchoring the news for eight hours today, I don't want to watch any news prior to going in to work today. The big stories will no doubt be the weather, the auto bailout, and features about families whose Christmas dinner will be them splitting a can of beans over a hotplate. I don't want to know what's going on right now. I'm content watching Animal Planet. Maybe there's a good gossip show on E! Any break from reality is a welcome one.

One week from now at this time, I'll be sitting at a McCarran Airport gate, eating a Cinnabon, waiting to fly to Milwaukee. Today's temperature in Milwaukee? 6 degrees. Yet, it's a cold reality that I can't wait to face.

Maverick is still staring.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Inside The World of "Pessimistic Guy"

I'm having grilled cheese and soup tonight. I like grilled cheese and soup. I'm not having grilled cheese and soup because of the bad economy. I'm having it because I like it.

I was listening to an interview with Jay Leno on NBC's Nightly News show. In fairness , I came in late so I don't know the exact context of why this was said, but Leno will be doing a show five nights a week in prime time once his "Tonight Show" gig ends. He responded to some question from Brian Williams, saying that "people are going to bed earlier because of the bad economy".


That has to be the most preposterous thing I've ever heard, and I really wish I would've heard the full context of why he said it. Going to bed early because of the bad economy? I go to bed early because I have to get to a job in the morning. If the bad economy forced me out of a job, I could hang out at a 24 hour Dunkin' Donuts until they run out of crullers and never have to worry about when I turned in. Ridiculous.

Here's my day as seen through the eyes of "Pessimistic Guy"

Up at 3am- I'd like to sleep later, but fear for my job means I have to get up at such an early hour so I don't get canned.

Should I get gas? Not at 3:45am. I might get robbed by someone who lost their job....because of the bad economy

I pack my breakfast and lunch...because I can't afford to eat out ....because of the bad economy

I take a nap when I'm escape the pain of the bad economy

I walk my dog...because driving him to the park means buying gas that I can't afford....because of the bad economy.

The thermostat is set to keep my power bill down. Ok, that actually makes sense. Never mind.

The plan tonight: watch some TV....because going out to dinner/movie is too expensive... because of the bad economy (not to mention the drive, the gas, etc..)

I go to bed escape more news of the bad economy.

My reasons for doing all of the above are completely different from what I've stated, but it just goes to show you that every act can be framed in a negative way.

(after dinner)

My stomach hurts a little. Probably from the pangs of guilt that I feel from being able to enjoy such a fine meal while so many others go hungry....because of the bad economy. Either that, or my milk went bad.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A (Non-Essential) Bullet With My Name On It

I usually don't make bold predictions about the year ahead, nor do I put much stock in them. Nevertheless, I have one prediction that's been rattling around in my head, so let's just get it out there and say that I hope I'm wrong:

I'll be let go again in 2009.

There. I just see too many things happening to radio clusters to believe that I will be in the same company this time next year. I don't know when the firing will happen. I don't know the circumstances surrounding it. I just think that it's meant to be. Air staffs and so-called "non-essential" radio personnel are being slashed to the core. My old company, Clear Channel is taking the lead on this, and when CC takes the lead in something, thing are bound to end badly. Picture a flock of ducks whose leader has one wing. They're all going to crash.

When we look at something like education and where they have to cut to save many, the last people looked at as "non-essential personnel" are the teachers. They have the connection with the children. Without good teachers, schools and the education system as a whole will fail. What does everyone want to cut? Administrators. Big wigs. Not the troops on the ground. Same with the car companies. Washington says that to make the auto bailout a little more palatable to the public (whose tax dollars would pay for it), the CEOs of the Big Three auto makers should step down. Not the people who build the cars. No. Management. Radio's solution? Take away the connection the general public has with the radio stations. Fire jock after jock, the people who differentiate radio from the competitors that are taking (especially younger ) listeners away. Not a good business plan.

I've never seen anything that said that radio companies should whittle back its management, and I doubt that I ever would. Only in a business like radio would the "non-essential personnel" be the people on a level closest to the audience you covet. Picture going shopping at Kohl's this Saturday and all that they have is one cashier because everyone else has been laid off. She can't help you find something because she has to ring up a customer. You can't find anyone to help you on the floor. You're told this is the way it's going to be from now on. Do you return to that store? Of course not, you're not a dope. Yet that's what radio will become in 2009: the big box store with only a couple of helpers and a dwindling customer base.

I really don't think I'm going to be one of the helpers. I think there's plenty of room in the "non-essential" bin for someone like me, and I'm guessing that's where I end up. Clip and save.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Juice For Breakfast

For every 20 deathly dull assignments I get as a "reporter" (I only put in in quotes because I'm a reporter in job description only), there's a plum gig like tomorrow's: Covering the sentencing of O.J. Simpson. Simpson will be sentenced after being convicted of robbery and kidnapping charges from an incident at a local casino 14 months ago. The wheels of justice turn slow, my readers. I'm not talking about how this case took 14 months to adjudicate, either. It goes back much further than that.

If Simpson gets a harsh sentence, there's no doubt in my mind it will be because the judge felt that justice wasn't served in O.J.'s murder trial 14 (13?) years ago. He walked, of course. Not many agreed with the verdict, but there it was, and there was nothing anyone could do about it- until now. Methinks there's going to be little revenge tied to the sentence.

Undoubtedly, Simpson was stupid to burst into a room with his friends or hangers-on and do what he did. But is it worth life in prison? Of course not, yet that's what he's facing. He'll likely get less than that, but it still just doesn't rise to the level of a jailable crime to me, especially when other principals in the case have profited handsomely. Just think of how many people have developed careers over the whole O.J. thing. The first O.J. trial was the best thing that ever happened to Greta Van Susteren, Roger Cossack, Marcia Clark, Johnny Cochran, Dan Abrams, Nancy Grace, Dominick Dunne, Christopher Darden, Jeffrey Toobin, etc. They all made bank over the case, no matter what side they were on. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow will be my Big Chance.

There wasn't much excitement over the whole Vegas trial, just because it was so small time and involved many a low-life scumbag, certainly not the types that Simpson would normally associate himself with. That changes tomorrow. Tomorrow, we're at the finish line. Tomorrow, Simpson will go to jail for perhaps the rest of his life. Many will cheer, few will cry. I'll do neither. A hefty sentence tomorrow is no doubt a nod to yesterday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rear View Musings

There's just something about December 3rd that brings me pain. Today, I was in the dentist chair for an hour, as work began on a couple of new crowns for my teeth. Just another one of the perks that come with getting older and abusing Corn Nuts

Today marks one year since my dismissal for KWNR. It seems much, much longer ago. I still talk with my friends over there, but those talks are now once a week at best. That's expected. I still like seeing them, and I still like talking to them, but I will always be reminded of what happened and whatever fun I have with them will always be tempered.

If you've been with this blog from the beginning, you know the whole story of the firing. For a recap of December 3rd, 2007, click here

It's been 12 months of wild emotional swings, both on the personal and professional side. I could never have survived it without nights with Pumpkin, drinking days with Mark, the occasional Fellas' Night, and the company of my dog, Maverick. I still haven't had a cry about anything. I guess I know now that I can survive it if and when it happens again. December 3rd was a shock to the system, but I think I came out of it better for the experience.

I'll keep on blogging and keep on slogging. This has been a nice outlet, even if upon further review it appears that I sure do complain a lot.

I want this day to end.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Waiting and Wondering

I was surprisingly productive today. Not that I just sit around every day, but I was happy when the quality and the quantity of work I did today.

Regarding the matter of the November 19th entry: I've returned serve and now await the reply. One of the biggest cop-outs of all time to me has been someone quitting their job to "spend more time with family". When someone loses a job in media it's usually because they're a budget cut or an attitude problem. When someone quits a prime gig, it's usually because they don't get along with their boss, their workload increased without more pay, or their workload decreased and they're bringing home less. Yet you'll never hear someone say the real reason they leave. If they have kids, you'll always hear, "I wanted to spend more time with my family".

That excuse is always brought out because it can't be attacked. He/She wants to spend more time with their children? Awww. How can you criticize that? You can't. Well, you can, but you'd be described as a coldhearted bastard without any feelings. I always wondered what the dinner conversation is like for the family whose breadwinner quits to spend more time with them. Does the family resent that person because they're no longer bringing money in to feed, clothe and shelter them? What good does spending more time with family do if, by quitting your job, you've lessened their quality of life? Questions without answers.

My response to the request of November 19th was essentially that I need to spend time with my family. How about that? Nothing's been decided yet. The person who makes the final decision is out of the office and seemingly eternally unreachable. I know I'm doing the right thing, even though nothing's been done yet. I feel like I'm at a 4/6 table waiting for the player next across from me to make a move. And that player holds significantly more chips than me. Question is: depending on the move, do I fold or do I hold?

Monday, December 1, 2008


At long last, it's official,. We're in a recession. I guess we've been in a recession since last December. How is this determined? A bunch of economists got together and declared it so. So we've been in a recession for about a year. It's expected to last another year. This should be received as great news. Everyone knows that recessions are followed by long periods of success, so the fact the the recession began- a year ago-should be celebrated.

Apparently, consumers already knew this and celebrated by spending more on Black Friday than they did last year, before the recession began. This is remarkable. All signs have pointed to people spending less, eating less, huddling around fire stoked by torn up, useless want-ads. Instead, we got tons of people spending, a dead Wal Mart clerk, and an abundance of flat screens, Play Stations and Blue-Ray DVD players flying off the shelves and out the doors. Big ticket stuff.

Now I'm not saying that times aren't difficult. The mortgage meltdown is real. Unemployment is up. Businesses are cutting costs by laying off workers. Here in Las Vegas, both the slowdown in tourism and construction businesses has the town on edge. The fact that people went out and shopped should be heartwarming and reassuring....except for the family of a certain dead Wal Mart clerk.

Recession be damned and full speed ahead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rainy Days and Holidays

Nasty weather today, but it nevertheless put me in a holiday mood. I work tomorrow and Friday, but it feels like I don't. 3am tomorrow will harshly tell me otherwise. Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't supposed to be 74 and sunny. That was the dream scenario growing up in Wisconsin, but it's never taken as long as I've been out in the desert. You get accustomed to things being certain ways. Thanksgiving Eve and it's cold and rainy? I'll take it.

I tend not to patronize places that say they "treat you like family". I think I know more families that are dysfunctional than I do those that can be considered 'normal'. One of the TV websites recently had a survey about family get-togethers over the holidays. The options were A) I look forward to them, or B) They stress me out too much. "A" beat out "B", but the margin was frighteningly small: 52 to 48 percent. Almost half of those surveyed say their family stresses them out too much. I'm pretty sure that's how Pumpkin would've voted.

I look forward to family stuff, probably more than I used to. I know my parents are getting up in years and the number of holiday celebrations we have left are dwindling. I'll be going home for Christmas this year, then back for Thanksgiving in '09. yes, I'm in a holiday mood tonight, but that also means I kind of wish I was there instead of here. One month from now I will. I finally think I'm starting to appreciate things before it's too late and I realize I should've appreciated things more. Does that make any sense? I don't want to be the guy who starts the majority of his sentences with "I should've"..

"Show me a house serving a healthy Thanksgiving dinner and I'll show you a poorly attended gathering"- R. Grotbeck

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pumped Up

I haven't felt too inspired to write lately. It's just a slow time. For many, the holidays are the most hectic time, but the opposite seems true for me. Not a lot happening right now.

One of the nice things about being unemployed was that I didn't have to pay that close of attention to the news of the day. I would still glance at the paper and watch an occasional newscast, but neither Maverick nor those grunting over a weight stack (my two main groups for company during that time) were good audiences to talk about what was going on. Now that I'm back on the news side, I have to watch and read every item, piece, article and feature. It's not too much fun.

Particularly this year, watch for stations to go out of their way not to show too many favorable stories. Oh sure, you'll have your heartwarming stories of people helping people, but I think because we're in the middle of The Great Depression 2.0, God Forbid that TV actually shows us things to be happy about.

Example: Gas prices. I know I've written about this before, but indulge me. The average price of gas in under $2 a gallon. This was unthinkable, even as little as one month ago. Great news right? No. Instead of giving me a story about a family that can now afford to travel to see their ill parents, we have the tried and true Q&A of people at the local Gas and Gulp telling the plucky reporter that they can't go anywhere because they lost their job. The positive begets the negative.

Another positive about not working was- if I chose - I could have gone wherever I wanted. I went to San Diego for a whole week, and SD isn't exactly on the top of the list for cheap getaways. A whole week! And I didn't regret a minute. The fact that I didn't go more places probably had to do less with my reluctance to go, and more with Pumpkin not having any vacation time. That poor schlub at the gas pump should be happy he's not working. Combine that with the low price of gas, and that guy can go anywhere he wants! The irony is, because I have a job, I'm not going anywhere for Thanksgiving.I have to work.

I can see it now. "Tonight on News 3- Sacrificing Thanksgiving for money. One woman's story of how she's missing the holiday to provide for her family". That's right. It'll become bad news TO HAVE A JOB! Just wait for it.

Nice to be back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Offer I Can't (?) Refuse

I'm in a bit of a pickle.

On the one hand, it's a good opportunity. Not great, but good. On the other hand, saying yes would mean that I would see my gal (while conscious, anyway) about 90 minutes a day.

If I were to list the best things I have going right now, it would be my relationship with my gal. There is no Number Two. Last night, I bemoaned (!) the lack of time we spend together just hanging out during the week. I realize that that's how it is with most couples, but how odd is it that this new opportunity should arise the morning after such a discussion.

I can honestly say that I've never said no to something that has been offered me in radio. Many times, I've wanted to say no, but fear of what may happen if I did overwhelmed me, and I caved. Most of the time, it's been to my benefit. I'm trying to find a benefit to this, and other than a regular paycheck (which is a big factor, no doubt) I don't see one. Professional accomplishment minus personal happiness equals nothing to me. Simple math. So I don't know. I mean, I know what I should do, but I don't know what I'm going to do. Suddenly, working "regular hours" doesn't seem so bad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life and Death and Questions Without Answers

The best way to describe today was "strange". Technical difficulties. Surly co-workers. And, most of all, a co-worker dying. He worked weekends. I had only met the guy once, and seen him a second time. We barely exchanged more than a couple of words and he came off to me as kind of surly. Right now, I can't remember if his name was Dan or Don. He died in his sleep. Late 40's, I think. Even though I didn't know him, I've been affected by his death. I learned about it around 1pm and I've been feeling odd ever since.

Dying in your sleep. Really, the last thing I think about before turning in is the fact that I might not wake up the next day. The guy who died was only a couple of years older than me. What's to say my body won't just shut down in a few hours? I'm sure I'd hear from the deceased's family and friends that they never saw this coming. he wasn't the picture of health, but I've seen many in worse shape live much longer. I have aches and pains every day, and it's something that I simply chalk up to getting another day older. I never think that a certain new pain is the genesis of something that will eventually bring down the curtain. But, who's to say that it won't?

I might not sleep so well tonight. And I don't want to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spend A Moment

Economics 101 should really be a mandatory class. Not saying we wouldn't be in the "Great Depression 2.0" if everyone had aced the mythical class, but seeing as people think this is the most important event of modern times, certainly, it's something worth considering for future generations. Pumpkin and I had a little talk about economics the other night, as we watched a story about a single mother of five (!) who was having trouble making ends meet.

Me: "What's the key to a healthy economy?"

Pumpkin: "Spending"

Class dismissed. A +

Notice, she didn't say, "making money", she said "spending money". The wheel can't spin without the oil, and in the case of the economy, greenbacks are black gold. Right now, people are being force fed news on a daily basis about the "Economy in Crisis". Heck, all the channels have their own graphics for it (a torn dollar, a crying George Washington, etc). If people continue to believe the economy is toast, they begin to fear for their own well-being and circle the wagons. They cut back on spending. Less money is circulating, and when that happens, business suffocates. This isn't hard to understand. Here's what really sucks:

Saving money and spending wisely is always the right thing to do, but it hurts the economy when we do it. The economy functions best when people are buying. I'm not saying throw money around like the Monopoly Man, but if everyone all of a sudden gains money smarts, the economy may take longer to restart than we think. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. People are learning more about saving in the past few months than ever before, and that good habit is hurting the country's bottom line. We may get another stimulus check before too long. Why? Washington wants us to spend. I don't think we'd get it if everyone took a pledge to salt every last dollar away. Ain't that funny?

You thanked a Veteran yesterday. Go to a car dealer and thank a buyer today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Concession and Redemption

Like a lot of people, I thought John McCain's best election season speech was his concession. He looked tired. He looked weathered. He looked beaten. He looked relieved. It was relief that he could finally just relax and...get ready for himself.

Something the candidates have no shortage of are advisers to tell them what to say and how to act. There are briefings about briefings. Sports scouting reports have nothing on political ones. Every audience is different. Everybody wants something else. Political advisers are the shape shifters and the politician is the shape. They're coached, combed, and created. I don't know if John McCain wrote his own concession speech. I certainly hope that he did. Regardless, he was never more liked than when he had lost and had put his guard down. Why couldn't this have been the way the campaign was run? Because I'm sure the "advisers" had other ideas. This is where we segue to radio. Right after I get a soda, anyway..

Radio advisers, or "consultants", are a relatively recent invention. They've been around for about 20 years or so. I have nothing but contempt for them. They are the radio equal of the advice columnist. They give the advice and, no matter how disastrous the results are, don't have to live with the consequences. Radio's downhill spiral into irrelevancy is directly related to the rise of the consultant, as is the homogeneity. Satellite radio is an outgrowth of the disdain for terrestrial radio, whose downhill spiral is directly related to consultancy. Consultants have had a world of influence and that influence has been universally negative. And yet, they continue to exist.

Consultants will tell a station what to play. They'll tell the jocks what they should talk about. They'll tell the station how to position itself- all from hundreds of miles away. The advice will be an outgrowth of occasionally listening to the station they consult. Consultants destroy- sorry, "work for"- dozens of stations at a time, so the attention they spend on one station can't be very much. Yet, their advice is swallowed like Kool-Aid at Jonestown. Thus, stations don't develop their own personality. They're just one of many such clones across the dial. The songs are the same, the websites look the same, and the jocks are told what to do. Initially in the business you're told to "be yourself". In the end, that's the last thing they want you to be. It was a consultant's advice that I be let go, and KWNR's ratings have not been the same.

I don't know if Clear Channel had a major role in the McCain campaign, but I sure wouldn't be surprised if they did. That would explain a hell of a lot.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Being right isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Coming up- why the Republicans lost, and how it relates to the demise of commercial radio..or something like that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Change. That's the buzzword for the 2008 elections. We're gonna change things. We're gonna change the way things are done in Washington. Democrats are saying it. Republicans are saying it. Change, change, change. That got me to think about what's changed for me and Pumpkin over the past 12 months, both good and bad.

I lost my job, and was unemployed for six months: BAD CHANGE

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer: BAD CHANGE

I have two undiagnosed health issues: BAD CHANGE

My vision is slipping: BAD CHANGE

Pumpkin's grandma had to move in with her parents (Pumpkin's parents, not her grandma's parents) after breaking her hip in a fall: BAD CHANGE

Brett Favre is now a NY Jet: BAD CHANGE (for how it all went down)

My investments have taken a dump: BAD CHANGE
----though I'm buying a lot of stock on the cheap now: GOOD CHANGE

The value on my house has plummeted: BAD CHANGE

If you're scoring, that's eight "bad change" and one "good change", and the good change is an offshoot of a bad one. Point is, most changes are bad ones. Job loss, illness, divorce. People don't like change, but boy are they responding to that word this year. They want to change the changes that have happened to them. Or they want to change what hasn't happened to them.

I'm gonna go and walk my dog now. That's one thing I hope never changes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Obvious vs. The Oblivious

I spent the better part of the morning at a "Change We Need" rally featuring Michelle Obama. Five hours of hanging out with people I'm the ideological opposite of. It was an assignment for KDWN, go cover the "event", and put a report together. Media had to have their stuff set up by 9:30am, but the event didn't begin until 11:30am. Lots of time for little radio guy to kill. I walked around and asked the simple question, "Why are you voting for Barack Obama?"

The answers I got mostly mentioned the magic word "change". A couple mentioned how the US would be more respected if Obama was president. Some said Obama would help us heal as a nation, and that he'd be a better "consensus builder", whatever that means. In other words, no real specifics, only glowing generalities. Oh, one guy said McCain wasn't right for "these times". I don't know. If we're at war, which we are, don't we want someone with experience fighting (and winning) wars? No? If we're attacked again, the economy will tank to such a degree that it'll make this so-called "New Depression" we're in look like the Roaring 20's. The most important thing for a strong economy is a secure nation, yet because we haven't been attacked in seven years, most have forgotten. That's probably what is most frustrating to me; the biggest threat isn't seen as the most important issue.

Mrs Obama- who's lovely, by the way (really)- talked economics today. She said 95 percent of the middle class will get a tax break. Then, she went on to say that Barack will oversee great renovations in health care and education. "people can't be denied quality health care". "Everyone who wants to go to college will get to go to college". How all this is going to be paid for while the middle class gets tax breaks is gonna be some kind of trick. Another doozy will be if jobs can be created while taxes are increased on individuals and businesses making over 250k. Good luck with that. Maybe that's why people abroad are so Obama crazy. They'll get the jobs that will no doubt be going overseas.

Ah, it's fun isn't it? Tomorrow's assignment has me at Republican headquarters as the results come in. I fear that's gonna be one damn quiet room.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vision Quest

Six days and no new posts? Inexcusable. Sorry about that. Honestly, I thought about posting, but the topics would just be rehash of things I've stated before. I'm finding that I'm either tired of everything, or bored with everything. The only section of the paper I read today was the comics. I'm a news guy that's burned out on the news. Not good.

Anyway..something's going on with my vision. It's happened over the past day or so. I'm having a real hard time seeing things close up. Newspapers, text messages..I have to hold it arms length to read it. I told Pumpkin about it, and it may mean that I'm entering the phase of my life when I might night reading glasses. Either that, or I've had a small stroke. Even as I type, the keyboard seems blurry to me.

So far today, I've only received one phone call- wait...two- related to Election Day. One of the calls was to remind me that Election Day was Tuesday. Now, I've been as nice as I can with these people, but if you're going to choose to call me during the 4th quater of a close Packers' game, you going to get some heat. The gal on the other end seemed pleasant enough, saying "I just wanted to remind you that Tuesday is Election Day, and it's...." I didn't know which side she represented and it really didn't matter. Me- "Do you REALLY think I need to be reminded that Tuesday is Election Day? I've gotten 212 calls since November 1st reminding me of this. I know when to vote, I know where to vote and I know who I'm voting for. I got it. Don't you think that if you've registered to vote, you'll know when the big day is (ok, that's debatable)? Since you got my name off a voter registration list, could you not access the fact that I've voted in all primary and general elections since 2006? Tell ya what.. give me your number and I'll call you later when it's more convenient for me, ok?"

She didn't like that idea. Still, that was the last call I got. Maybe word got out.

I'm really worried about this vision thing. I don't think it's serious, but Pumpkin always comes home with tales of people who waited too long to visit the eye center, and the damage can't be reversed. Maybe I just need reading glasses. It's just getting blurrier. Too weird. Honestly, this has happened over the past 24 hours.

So Election Day is Tuesday. I think Election Day is the only major "event" day that gets less and less exciting the closer it gets. It's exciting when someone gets nominated. It's kind of interesting when the Vice Presidential picks come it. Then it's all spinning, and debating, and charges and rebuttals and ugly hats and the dull bell of boredom rings on and on and on. I'm going to be happy when it's over, but there's a growing dread that I'll regret it ever happening.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tanks a Lot!

Thanks to Rx for this little gem,

"Just filled up for $2.96 a gallon. Congress needs to investigate this. Big Oil is clearly using its might to lower prices & take in less revenue to pay vendors with"

Everyone needs sarcastic friends.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fascinating and Frustrating

So I'm sitting here in the newsroom, watching the wall of TVs. Early afternoon means that one TV is on CNN, another on Fox, and the rest are showing soaps. Sound muted on all. My attention turns to CNN and a recent poll they've done. There are so many new polls these days that they're almost rendered meaningless, but this one struck me.

97 percent of Black voters surveyed say they're going to vote for Barack Obama. 97 percent!! Never- neh-ver- is a story done about how blacks vote based on race much more than whites. If anything, the "old fashioned, closed minded, racist thinking" white voter is more likely to vote for someone outside of their race than blacks or Hispanics are. 97 percent. Staggering. Why isn't this talked about? OK, I guess CNN did talk about it, and that's why I saw the graphic, but I'm guessing it was spun as "more blacks are unhappy with the Republicans than ever" than actually addressing the obvious.

What's going to sweep Obama into the White House? White voters. What's going to keep Obama out of the White House? At least according to the media, white racism.

My head hurts.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The following video is five minutes of a French TV interview with John McCain, while he was a POW during the Vietnam War. Not a lot of fun to watch..

You know what people are up in arms about? That he smokes a cigarette during the interview. I'm not kidding. I wish that I was.

Now go enjoy your Starbucks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Phone Drone

"Hi, this is Jon Porter......"

"I'd like to talk to you for a moment about Steve Sisolak....."

"Good afternoon. I'm John McCain...."

"May I ask you a couple of questions about Election Day?"

"I'm Barack Obama. Please join me in changing the......"

"This is Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury...."

"Hey there, this is Sarah Palin....."

I'm not picking up my phone again until November 5th

Bad To Be Glad

OK, so as little as two months ago, people were jumping out of buildings because of the price of gas. Now, the price of a barrel of crude oil is half of what it was then. Regular unleaded is under $3 a gallon. So we're happy, right? No.

OK, so foreclosures are at a record level. People signed bad deals and lost their homes. Bright spot: the price of homes goes down as people scoop up cheaper foreclosed homes. More people get to afford the American dream of homeownership. In fact, the housing crisis may eventually turn around because of the foreclosure crisis. More homes purchased, less inventory, values rise. So, we're happy, right? No.

Maybe it's just me, but these days we go out of our way to be miserable, as if being happy is something to feel guilty about. Misery is the new happiness. The Smiley Face has been replaced by Mr. Yuck. Negative events shape the person we become far more than positive ones do. If you don't learn from the negative, you'll never be able to appreciate the positive. In the past year, I've lost my job and had my mom diagnosed with breast cancer. The new job is working out. Mom seems good. Rarely will you find me more relaxed, or happy. And I don't feel one damn bit guilty about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Vast, Serialized Wasteland

I pretty much grew up in front of the TV. It's gotten me absolutely nowhere, but I maintain an unhealthy amount of knowledge about shows that I used to watch between the years 1974 and 1984. Name the show, and I could tell you the day, time and channel it was on. I can name cast members, I can tell you cast changes, I can sing theme songs (poorly). Why my mind has chosen to hang onto this knowledge instead of, you know, how to change a tire, I'll never know. TV used to be one of life's joys.

I say "used to be" because almost every show on the prime time schedule has been serialized. There's no more discovering a show in mid-season. You better be there from the start or you may as well not even bother. Pumpkin is watching the show "Chuck" right now. It's a cute show, and she's watched it from Episode One. Good thing, too, because one show bleeds right into the next. I have not watched the show but for a few minutes here and there, so I can't get into it. I'd say there are more shows like "Chuck" now than ever. The days of 1) Conflict, followed by 2) Resolution-type shows are done. Instead of cliffhangers at the end of a season, we now get them every week, and it's exhausting.

The only new show I'm watching this year (ok, it's the second season) is "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". It's pretty much the same every episode. Robots from the future come to kill a young John Connor because John is the leader of the future resistance that beats the robots back. How can you go wrong? Yet, I don't know why I watch this show. There's no conflict/resolution. There's just conflict, and more conflict. An end can't possibly be reached. Still, it's fun to watch stuff blow up, so I'm there.

I'm not going to go on a crusty old guy rant about how TV used to be better. I really don't think that's the case. In fact, some of the shows on now are as good as anything TV can produce. I just don't have the time to follow a storyline week after week. Imagine reading a book, but you only get to read a chapter every week. Each week, you get a new chapter. You're never told how long the book will go, or even if you will suddenly stop getting subsequent chapters. Would you read it? Of course not, you're not a dope, right? Still, TV sucks us in. Why do we watch? I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it's simply because my recliner is so damn comfortable.

Sorry I wasted your time. At least this topic is one and done.

Overwrought and Underthought

The nice thing about being back in daily employment is that I get to have regular conversations with thinking adults. Of course, that can be a bad thing, too. Still, being at a news station means talking about the news ALL THE TIME. Nope, not even banal chatter on how it's still warm for this time of year. Even the humorous (?) musings are based on whatever stories are being worked up. ALL THE TIME. Thus, I'm very ready for some football.

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague today. Not about football, or coffee, or sports betting. Politics, naturally. Most of my news colleagues are 10 years or more younger, so I take my debates with them as more of a challenge than someone older, or of similar age than me. Anyway, we were talking politics and the topic shifted to the presidential election. I'd made it known that I was going to vote for McCain and has was an Obama guy. I'm not surprised he's an Obama guy, but I was disappointed in the reasons he was.

He discounts McCain's military service. "That doesn't make you qualified to be president". Yet, he didn't counter with a reason why Obama was more qualified. True, just because you survived as a POW doesn't put you at the front of the line, but military service for our Commander in Chief is invaluable. The president is the commander of the U.S. military, and we're two weeks away from electing someone to run the military who has zero military experience. I don't know, but to me that's kinda big.

I brought up the question "who do the Islamic Fascists want in the White House?". This got the response of "I don't care who they want, it's who we want". A lovely response, if you're talking about, say, France. I don't care who the French want. I do care who the people we're fighting every day want. If they feel they can do more damage to us through an Obama presidency than a McCain presidency, this is important. Isn't this simple?

My colleague likes how everyone at the Obama rallies are polite, and get along and, well, just be. Great. They did the same thing in Germany, circa 1933, and that didn't turn out so well for anyone. "Getting along" with everyone isn't important. People can't even get along under their own roof, so to expect it on a larger scale is nothing but a pipe dream. My colleague says there's too much meanness at McCain/Palin rallies. I don't know if I agree with that. Fights aren't breaking out. No one's been hospitalized. I think they're frustrated that their guy is probably going to lose. If that's the case, they're similar to the Obama supporters. But here's the thing. When talking about Republicans, emotion is called "anger". With Democrats, it's called "passion".

Obama talks a great game, his ads are tremendous, and I can't deny being extremely curious how President Obama would do. Still, the fact that more people are inspired by his words than his deeds tells me that a well financed salesman could win the office someday. Like, two weeks from tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Read it and Reap

It's always much easier having someone do the work for you, instead of having to do it yourself. That said, thanks to "Rx" for sending this rather lengthy editorial from Gregg Easterbrook regarding "The Worst Economy Since the Great Depression. Again, this is lengthy, but well worth your time. Feel free to use it the next time the person next to you complains they had to buy a Zune instead of an iPod.

"Financial chaos is sweeping the world," a New York Times lead story said last week. I didn't notice any chaos in my part of the world -- every business was open, ATMs were working, goods and services were plentiful. There are economic problems to be sure. But chaos? Collapse? Next Depression? Please, media and political worlds, let's stop hyperventilating and show some perspective.

What is going on is a financial panic, not an economic collapse. Financial panics are no fun, especially for anyone who needs to cash out an asset right now for retirement, college and so on. But financial panics occur cyclically and are not necessarily devastating. The most recent financial panic was 1987, when the stock market fell 23% in a single day. Pundits and politicians instantly began talking about another Depression, about the "end of Wall Street." The 1987 panic had zero lasting economic consequences -- no recession began, and in <2>

Politicians and pundits are competing to see who can act most panicked and use the most exaggerated claims about economic crisis -- yet the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are, in fact, strong. Productivity is high; innovation is high; the workforce is robust and well-educated; unemployment is troubling at 6.1%, but nothing compared to the recent past, such as 11.8% in 1992; there are no shortages of resources, energy or goods. University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan shows that return on capital is historically high; high returns on capital are associated with strong economies. Some Americans have significant problems with mortgages, and credit availability for business could become an issue if the multiple bank-stabilizing plans in progress don't work. But the likelihood is they will work. When the 1987 panic hit, people were afraid the economy would collapse; it didn't. This panic is global, enlarging the risks. But there's a good chance things will turn out fine.

Why has a credit-market problem expanded into a panic? One reason is the media and political systems are now programmed for panic mode. Everything's a crisis! Crises, after all, keep people's eyes glued to cable news shows, so the media have an interest in proclaiming crises. Crises make Washington seem more important, and can be used to justify giveaways to favored constituent groups, so Washington influence-peddlers have an interest in proclaiming crises.
An example of the exaggerated crisis claim is the assertion that Americans "lost" $2 trillion from their pension savings in the past month, while equities "lost" $8 trillion in value. "Investors Lose $8.4 Trillion of Wealth" read a Wall Street Journal headline last week. This confuses a loss with a decline. Unless you cashed out stocks or a 401(k) in the past month, you haven't "lost" anything. Nor have most investors "lost" money, let alone $8.4 trillion -- crisis-mongering is now so deeply ingrained in the media that even Wall Street Journal headline writers have forgotten basic economics. People who because of financial need have no choice but to cash out stocks right now are really harmed. Anyone who simply holds his or her ground with stocks takes no loss and is likely, although of course not certain, to come out ahead in the end. During the housing price bubble of 2003 to 2006, many Americans became much better off on paper, but never actually sold their homes, so it was all paper gains. Right now many Americans holdings stocks or retirement plans are much worse off on paper, but will be fine so long as they don't panic and sell. One of the distressing things about last week's media cries of doomsday is that they surely caused some average people to sell stocks or 401(k)'s in panic, taking losses they might have avoided by simply doing nothing. The financial shout-shows on cable tend to advise people to buy when the market is rising, sell when the market is falling -- the worst possible advice, and last week it was amplified by panic.

We've also fallen into panic because we pay way too much attention to stock prices. Ronald Reagan said, "Never confuse the stock market with the economy." Almost everyone is now making exactly that mistake. The stock market is not a barometer of the economy; it is a barometer of what people think stocks are worth. These are entirely separate things. What people think stocks are worth now depends on their guess about what stocks will be worth in the future, which is unknowable. You can only guess, and thus optimism feeds optimism while pessimism feeds pessimism.

There is no way the American economy became 8% less valuable between breakfast and morning coffee break Friday, then became 3% more valuable at lunchtime (that is, improved by 11%), then became 3% less valuable by afternoon teatime (that is, declined by 6%) -- to cite the actual Dow Jones Industrials swings from Friday. And the economy sure did not become 11% more valuable Monday. Such swings reflect panic or herd psychology, not the underlying economy, which changes over months and years, not single days. For the past few weeks pundits and Washington and London policy-makers have been staring at stock tickers as if they provided minute-by-minute readouts of economic health. It's embarrassing to see White House and administration officials seemingly so poorly schooled in economic theory they are obsessing over stock-price movements, which they cannot control and in the short term should not even care about.

If you had invested $100 in a Dow Jones Index fund the day after Black Monday, it would be worth $460 now, a 275% increase adjusting for inflation. Don't panic, just hold your stocks. And if you'd invested $100 in real estate in 1987, it would be $240 today, a 30% increase adjusting for inflation. A 30% real gain in 20 years isn't a great investment -- until you consider that you lived in the house or condo during this time. To purchase and live in a dwelling, then come out ahead when you sell, is everyone's dream. Not only do stocks remain a good buy, America on average is still coming out ahead on the housing dream.

Economic problems are likely to be with us for awhile, but also likely to be resolved -- the 1987 panic and the 1997 Asian currency collapse both were repaired more quickly than predicted, with much less harm than forecast. Want to worry? Worry about the fact that the United States is borrowing, mainly from foreign investors and China, the money being used to fix our banks. The worse the national debt becomes -- $11 trillion now, and increasing owing to Washington giveaways -- the more the economy will soften over the long term. It's long-term borrowing, not short-term Wall Street mood swings, that ought to worry us, because the point may be reached where we can no longer solve problems by borrowing our way out."


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Right Again

I recently wrote that if Barack Obama loses in November (which I don't think will happen), that his loss will be blamed strictly on racism, not on the fact that he has entry-level qualificiations. Friends, I give you John L. Smith's column from this morning..

Not to get too boastful about it, as my line of reasoning is the only possible way it could go. Racism by whites is rightly condemned. Racism by and for blacks is called Affirmative Action.

Three weeks until Election Day. Can't wait.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ta(l)king Stock

Saturday morning should always be the time of the week when you're thinking most clearly. OK, that may not be the case if you have kids circling you like you're a totem pole, but out of the seven days/three parts of the day scheme of things, Saturday morning seems the best time to get some thinkin' done.

I was out walking Maverick this morning and thoughts drifted to the stock market, the economy, and why this week happened. I may be wrong, but I think that this week saw the single biggest percentage drop in the Dow's history. I don't get why it's happening, but that's not important. The important thing is to take advantage of it while it's happening. Co-workers were a little puzzled as I cheered the Dow on to losses of 777 and 638 points on Monday and Thursday. I didn't cheer in a rah-rah sense, more of a quiet little, "yeah, alright" way of acting. Stocks go down and stocks go up. Those that don't panic always win. That's my way of thinking, so I'm not going to get all out of sorts. I'm certainly not planning on hanging up the mic and going fishing soon, even though I think about it every day. Still, I'm a little concerned. Why?

Because people as a whole aren't patient anymore. We now live in a society where we can get everything almost instantaneously. We want the reward, but we don't want the risk. Investing is not a game, yet in the age of E-Trade, playing the stock market has become equivalent to managing your fantasy football team. If something's not working, you don't wait for it to turn around. You dump it immediately. If you can make a nifty little profit, you quickly sell and move on. It's been shown for decades that a calm, principled investment strategy yields the biggest return in the long run, but in times where we want it all, and we want it now, will that strategy hold for the future? I'm banking on it.

In the meantime, here's a conundrum: Since more people seem to be buying foreclosed homes, such that the number of existing homes sold is on the rise, can the foreclosure crisis actually solve the depressed housing market? If so, things indeed will come full circle.

UPDATE: My mom seems to be cancer free. Excellent news. Now if she can just stop tripping and falling into the oven door while trying to pull out a frozen pizza (true event), things will just be the tops.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just Waiting...

It seems like a good time to post. Pumpkin won't be home in an hour, and I've got some down time. Laundry's almost done. I'm bordering on having a productive day.

I'm waiting for my mom to call. She was supposed to call by 3. It's almost 4:30. She's supposed to learn how bad the cancer is today. She was also supposed to learn yesterday. And the day before that. If the cancer doesn't get her, just the stress of what the diagnosis will be just might. I've tried calling her and the line is busy, so my concern is growing.

One of the advantages of having a blog is that you get to blow off some steam you otherwise might not have the opportunity to do. It was especially useful during my period of unemployment, where my dog was a good listener, but hardly an opinionated equal. I guess there's a bit of an advantage when it comes to personal stuff, too. My mom might call me and say her cancer is stage four and she has six months to live. That may happen this afternoon. Yet, I doubt that anyone can tell that I'm troubled, based on my outward appearance. That's where this helps.

It's kind of a private diary, but at the same time, it's open to anyone in the world that can connect to the internet. It presents my innermost thoughts in the most outwardly manner. Blogs make private moments public to all. Hopefully, those that read this can get all their updates here so I don't have to talk about very private things. I have no problems typing about things, just talking about them. In that way, this blog is invaluable.

Still no call.

That movie "Quarantine" looks pretty creepy, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Recession Obsession

I've been looking at my last few posts. Real cheery stuff. Sorry about that. It's a Sunday morning, it's 60 degrees, the coffee's warm and the air conditioning is finally off. All's well.

I was out for much of the day yesterday, just going here and there. Much of the news this week has been on the so-called "bailout" package that passed in the House and Senate this week. Many of the politicians and pundits are saying we're in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Some observations from yesterday;

The gym was packed. Obviously, people who are soon to be homeless via foreclosure still want to look good. That's a plus.

There was a healthy line at Fatburger. Most of the tables were occupied. It looked to me like everyone had their own meal. Heck, more people had thick, frosty shakes than didn't! Then I remembered a piece that I read that said the economy is making people dive into fatty comfort foods more than ever. They're eating to escape the bad economy. Obviously, except for me and Pumpkin, these weren't the same people I saw at the gym

After Fatburger, it was off to the mall. I wanted to get some nice duds for the new gig. It sure was hard to find a place close by to park. Bright spot: I walked off my Fatburger combo. Then I remembered that people are "comfort shopping" to take their minds off the.......anyone........? Bad economy, right!!. By the way, I got two pairs of shorts, a nice shirt, nice pair of pants and a belt, all for around $40. Gotta look where the deals are, my friends. Maybe people are waking up to the fact that paying $80 for a pair of slacks is simply asinine.

Later, it was off to Von's for some grocery shopping. Not many people there, which is normal for a Saturday night. Here's the thing. For being in "The Worst Economy Since the Great Depression", the store shelves were awfully full. I wanted for nothing. Total number of people begging for bread outside of the store: 0.

Just for fun, I drove past an Outback Steakhouse and a Buffalo Wild Wings on the way home. Both parking lots were packed. What the hell is going on? How can everyone be out spending money when I keep reading that they don't have money to spend?

Politicians and pundits claiming this to be the Worst Economy Since The Great Depression show an alarming lack of historical knowledge. There are no bread lines. There are no great migrations of people looking for a better life. John McCain has taken a lot of heat for saying that the economy is "fundamentally sound". What the critics conveniently overlooked in that sentence is the word "fundamentally". The basics of a free market economy are fundamentally sound, certainly more so than a socialist-based system. As is bound to happen over time, sometimes the system needs repairs, and that's when checks and balances are instituted. That's where we find ourselves today.

It's no different than when laws are passed following a tragedy. In light of the Metrolink train crash in L.A. last month that killed 25 people, railroad workers can no longer text or use electronic devices while piloting a train (the engineer was sending texts and missed signals that led to a head-on collision). A law developed from tragedy. The economy is similar but on a much larger scale. There are periods of good times, periods of great times, and periods of bad times. Bad times are needed to create longer lasting good times, as wars are sometimes needed to create longer lasting peace.

I've rambled long enough. I'd go to the Original Pancake House at Green Valley Ranch for breakfast, but I'm guessing at this time of day, it's something like a 45 minute wait. Damn economy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

News To Me

Pumpkin will be home shortly, so I've got a little time to kill before fulfilling husband duties. It's been a crazy two days. KDWN is moving me from traffic to news, and that means learning a whole new way of doing things. Quickly. The traffic gig was a snap, hit the roads and report what you see. Cake. Learning to report news is a whole new game, and at 42, I'm not sure I'm good enough for the starting lineup.

I've always said that the only day worse than the first day on the job is the second day. You're just happy to survive the first day, and there's a certain excitement that comes with a new gig, especially in your chosen field. On Day Two, you realize this is going to be your gig, and you're filled with second thoughts. If you're like me, anyway.

I've never approached something new with a confident attitude. Whether it was busing tables, bartending, going to college, losing my virginity, entering radio, coming back to radio, etc- I've always lacked confidence about my ability to do something well. Most of the time, I was wrong (tragically, the lack of confidence about losing my virginity turned out to be accurate). I picked things up quickly, and made the most of it. Perhaps it will be like that in the news game. They think I can do the job and I don't want to let them down. Few things bother me more than disappointing people who have faith in me. I don't know what Day Three holds for me, but it has to be better than today. I was overwhelmed and in way over my head. As always, the staff around me was supportive. I hope I can reward that support with a good effort. Tonight, I doubt that result, but that's par for the course for me.

Pumpkin's home. Time to whip up a good batch of lovin'!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Escape

Do you ever have so many things going on in your head that you can actually hear a buzzing sound from it all? I'm having one of those types of mornings. I usually love Sunday mornings for the peace and quiet, but I just can't settle down today. I'm thisclose to a monumentally large headache.

Today, there is a collision course set between sports stress and news stress. The Packers game is locally televised, so I'm obligated to watch. The Brewers game is televised, too, but I'm too terrified to tune in. I know I wrote earlier about filing for divorce from them, but the papers never went through. If the Brewers win, and the Mets lose, the Brewers will make the post-season for the first time since 1982. In just typing that sentence, the buzzing in my head grew louder. It's like someone is sawing a tree down the street. Today, I have twice the sports stress that I usually have. maybe more.

Then there's the news stress. Sunday morning is Opinion Central, with more pundits and prophets than you can swing a dead cat at. They'll analyze the debate, they'll analyze the bailout bills, they'll analyze the economy (there's even one show on CNN that analyzes how the media analyzes. I'm not kidding). At the end of all this analyzing, the consensus will be that this is the worst time ever to be on Planet Earth. You can either buy into that, or go get another cup of coffee. I'll choose the latter.

So today, or this morning at least, there is no escape from the two things that stress me out the most. I've already been to the gym, but my mind was all about sports stress there. I had a hard time focusing. Upon returning home, I brought the Sunday paper in, and that built up my news stress. I'm typing this to purge myself of that, and it seems to be working a little bit. The trouble is, I'm almost done. Funny how the more technically advanced we become, the more difficult it is to actually escape. I really want this day to be over.

But then it would be on to work week stress. Sigh.

Friday, September 26, 2008


It's one of those days. It wasn't supposed to be, but it is. It's a day when I watch an old movie and get nostalgic. It's a day when I watch a plane take off and wonder where they're going. It's a day where driving the freeway until you run out of road is an ever attractive option. It's a day where no amount of aspirin can cure the pain. It's a day where even if I don't say a word, my dog can sense something is wrong. It's a day when nothing sounds good for lunch. It's a day where I see everything, yet feel nothing. It's a day where I feel every moment of my close to 43 years of age. It's also my busiest day of the week, working split shifts on traffic, then going over to call the game of the week. It's a good day to be busy. Otherwise, I might become lost in thought. Today, that's the most dangerous place to be.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back to the Dial

I haven't written about radio for awhile, as my last post about it came back to bite me. It helped clarify what I can and can't write about. Personal moves: out. Generic commentary: in. Let's go.

The latest ratings trends are out and in the country race, such as it is, KWNR is soundly beating Coyote. My thoughts have already been written about why I think Coyote continues to flounder, so I won't bore you with those. KWNR's numbers are nothing to celebrate, either. They used to be a market leader, and now are a ratings afterthought. They can tout how they have a sizeable advantage over Coyote, but that would be like a pitbull boasting over mauling a poodle. It's meaningless. What's most noticeable to me this trend is how low the market share has become for country music in Las Vegas. Add up the share between Coyote and KWNR and you get a 6. A 6 rating for KWNR in the past used to be cause for concern. Now, it's the total share. Why are the country numbers dipping?

Country music has always done better with older listeners than younger listeners. Both suffering bosses at KWNR and Coyote are trying to recapture that younger audience and that's causing the older audience to go away. The younger audience WILL NOT come back to country radio. Radio needs to strengthen their base listeners and instead does everything in its power to alienate them. At 42, I don't consider myself old, but I would rather hear something mature from George Strait or Reba than some teenage angst from Taylor Swift. There's less and less out there that's identifiable to me, and for the new stuff that is, I feel like I've heard it all before.

We have more talent contest winners and prime time wannabes cutting music that they didn't write. And it's so predictable. If Carrie Underwood releases a "fun" song, you can bet the next song will be soft or sad. She's a sweet thing, but she belongs more on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine than on a concert stage. Don't get me started on Kellie Pickler or Julianne Hough (she was on "Dancing with the Stars", in case you forgot). Country music is choosing style over substance at the worst possible time and listeners are fleeing.

There's nothing wrong with radio that can't be fixed by simply serving the customer better. It works in every other business, yet only in radio do the bosses seem too stubborn or stupid to address the obvious.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Race to the Finish

This was too easy to predict. I wrote earlier that if Barack Obama loses in November, it will be attributed to the fact that he's (half) black. Nothing else will matter. It looks like that excuse is already being used now, as John McCain moves to the lead in some polls. A new study from Stanford University says that whites may be less likely to vote for Obama because of their negative views of black in general (no such study was done to ask blacks their opinion of whites, but I surmise it would be low, and somehow justified in the media). The study said that even if whites voted for Obama in the primary, they may not follow through with the same vote come general election time. So there you go. The only reason for an Obama loss will be attributed to racism.

What's never brought up is why blacks vote for Obama. It sure appears to me that blacks are more likely to vote for Obama because of the color of his skin than whites are to vote for McCain because of the color of his skin. In that case, the votes of blacks are more race based than the votes of whites. This is NEVER brought up. Anywhere. Plus, the fact that Obama is even the Democratic nominee has much more to do with the color of his skin than any legislative record. Ergo, his entire success is base on race. Fascinating to think that racism will be given as the cause for his defeat (if that happens), while at the same time, racism is directly responsible for his success.

Meanwhile. the ascent of Sarah Palin and the sheer amount of mean-spiritedness directed towards her only goes to further prove that there's nothing women hate more than...a successful woman.

Even though it's what they all strive to be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailout Fallout

Spare the rod, spoil the child, the old saying goes. More simply put, it meant if you didn't punish your kid for screwing up, he wasn't going to learn anything from it. I was spanked hundreds of times growing up, and I don't don't think I was left with any permanent scarring. The phrase can be twisted into a new variant for today's economic times. Bail the corporations, fail the public.

Ok, it's not nearly as catchy, but it's not bad for a (so far) coffee- free Sunday morning. In just the past few weeks we've seen government bailouts of mortgage lenders Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as a huge loan given to insurer AIG in order for them to stay afloat. Government seems to be taking over institutions, and no one really seems to be that concerned about it. Certainly, my portfolio has benefitted over the past couple of days, as the stock market rallied on news that the government was planning on establishing a commission to prevent failures of companies like Freddie and Fanny and Lehman Brothers. So what's the big deal? Only time will tell. In the short term, though, our already huge national debt has doubled. Who's going to be responsible for balancing that out?

Figuring out why everything got so out of hand is simple. Banks and lending institutions made too many bad loans. I know of several people who either bought a house with an interest only loan, or simply with no money down whatsoever. Buying a house was now on a par with buying a flat screen TV. Imagine if you were constantly loaning money to people whom you weren't sure could pay you back. What would happen? You'd eventually run out of money. Yet the lending institutions were only too happy to do this practice, over and over again. Do you think the government would bail you out for giving money away without knowing whether you'd get it back or not? That's what's happening today with Fanny and Freddie.

I'm not a student of economics, but I don't like what I'm seeing with this constant stream of bailouts. People who live in hurricane country know full well that a storm could throw their home into the sea, and they most certainly know the government will be there to bail them out when it they can build in the same place all over again. The free market will always work things out if given the chance, and we're not seeing that here. If the government continues to bail out the financial institutions, there'll be no need for them to change their practices, and we'll see a continuation of the problems that got us where we are right now. There's no punishment for the wrongdoing.

Commit the crime, do the time. I always liked that one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Separation Anxiety

(NOTE: If you're not a hardcore sports fan, this article will make no sense to you. It may as well be in some other language altogether. Don't bother with it.)

Divorce is painful. Divorce signals the end of something that you vowed would last forever. When you first entered into your relationship, you never imagined this day coming. You do everything in your power to keep divorce from happening, but in the end it sometimes has to be done. So it is with me. This has nothing to do with me and Pumpkin, who are rock solid. After 38 years, I'm filing for a divorce from the Milwaukee Brewers.

The non-Brewer fan would no doubt greet this with something like, "why quit now when they're finally starting to get good?". That's a fair question, but it fails to address the decades of suffering Brewers fans have endured. Many sports franchises have glory years, tremendous runs of success. The Brewers have 1982, their last World Series appearance, and their last playoff appearance altogether. Last season marked the first time since 1991 that the Brewers won more games in a season than they lost. They'll win more than they lose again this season, and improve on last year's record.

So why quit? Simple. They will never, ever achieve what a fan roots for. A championship. In a wild case of irony, the Brewers recent success has showed me that a championship is less likely than when they were losing games in droves year after year. As little as two weeks ago, Milwaukee looked like a lock to get into the playoffs. Then September arrives. September is a time when the good teams turn it on, and the bad teams fold. The Brewers are 3-14 in September. The bad teams fold. A team that was supposed to be good has showed its true colors (yellow), and folded like a newbie at a 4/8 table. I've given all I can. To paraphrase Brett Favre, I still have what it takes to root for the Brewers. I just don't think I want to.

They lost again last night (11-2 to the Reds) and I didn't get angry. I didn't get annoyed. I didn't even shake my head in mild disgust. I have turned the corner from Outright Fanatic Street on to Increasingly Indifferent Avenue, and it feels fine. If anything, this team betrayed me by allowing me to believe that after 26 years of frustration and foolishness, THIS was going to be the year things turned around. Then September came. It's akin to pursuing a girl for the longest time, and she allows this pursuit. Then she tells you she's married, or a lesbian. Either works. So much work for no reward, and in the end far too much wasted time.

I almost cried after a bad loss this week. That makes no sense to me. I don't cry for human tragedies. Why cry over an underachieving 70 million dollar payroll, right?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weights and Measures

There are certain things I envision doing once I'm no longer working. Going to the gym is not one of them

I started lifting weights in my parents' basement back when I was around 15. My big brother did it, so I did it, too. Girls didn't go for the flabby types, so I wanted to be in decent shape. I lifted through my sophomore, junior, and senior years, and the number dates I got was Of course, I was terrified of rejection and I never actually asked a gal out, so..Anyway, I'm off the point.

During my six months of unemployment I went to Gold's Gym pretty much every day. It was done more out of boredom than anything else. It was an easy way to kill 60-90 minutes, and I felt good about myself afterward. Now that I'm back amongst the employed, I only go on weekends. Sure, I have six hours of downtime between my AM and PM shifts, but I just don't want to go when it's this hot. I have a nice cozy home, and I'm more than comfortable occupying it until the time comes to head to work once again.

Approaching 43, I'm realizing there's quickly coming that point of diminishing returns where a visit to the gym is more likely to do harm than good. Muscle strains, bulging discs, strained necks and sore pecs..all much more likely from lifting weights than staying at home. I see both men and women of an advanced age working out, and I so don't want to be them. I realize, though, that they may be there for the same reason I was there during my downtime- it's something to do. Usually, the phrase "act your age" is applied to someone who's acting childish. It can also be applied to someone who's elderly trying to look like they're in their prime. I don't want to be "that guy".

I've been perfectly content watching baseball and doing laundry this afternoon. My parents are closing in on 80, are full of energy, and haven't lifted a weight in their lives. Entering the halfway point of this story, I've realized that it's more important completing the NY Times crossword puzzle than it is another set of curls.

Nap time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Worlds Colliding

One of my favorite scenes from "Seinfeld" is the one where George explains to Jerry the theory behind "worlds colliding". There's "Relationship George", and there's "Independent George". Independent George is threatened because of his fiance's new friendship with Elaine. The fiance (Susan) now is part of the group of George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer, a world that George had previously occupied without her, but now must share. His behavior is altered as a result. I now find myself in a similar situation.

Football season has begun and, between last year and now, Pumpkin has become a big Packer fan. She is wearing the apparel and watching the games. While I certainly appreciate her new found fanaticism for my favorite team, this could lead to trouble. There's "Everyday Mitch", who is pretty easygoing about everything, though slightly anal and neurotic at times. Few things bother Everyday Mitch. On the other hand, there is also "Sports Fan Mitch". This is a Mitch that Pumpkin rarely encounters, and can never completely understand. Sports Fan Mitch rants and raves. Throws things. Breaks things. Uses foul language. Simply put, Sports Fan Mitch is the complete opposite of Everyday Mitch, and this is a world my wife is choosing to enter.

We watched the Packers-Lions game at the Riviera last Sunday, and it was a typical roller coaster ride of emotions. The Packers got off to a great start and everything was well. Smiling, laughing, kissing. So much fun. Detroit played their way back into the game, even taking a one point lead in the 4th quarter. This lead to tense moments, and the muttering of profanities that are normally said at much higher volumes. I could tell Pumpkin was uncomfortable, but it was more about my change in behavior than the changing momentum of the game. I had to adjust my normal behavior or she would become upset. Sports Fan Mitch had to morph into Everyday Mitch, at the very point in the game where the Packers' fortunes seemed darkest.

Then the Lions became the Lions again and the Pack rolled on to victory. Still, after the game, I felt the need to apologize for my behavior when things were tight. Essentially, I was apologizing for simply being myself. One of my selves, anyway. She said she totally understood, but I don't think that's possible. When you've lived and died with a team for 30 years, it's impossible for someone just stepping on the bus to understand. You're not ready to race with Dale Jr. just because you've mastered the finer points of the ten speed bike.

"A George divided against itself, cannot stand". We'll see what happens to the House of Mitch. The Cowboys come calling this weekend.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coffee Talk

My parents are in town until Tuesday, so that explains the calm in my blogging storm. I'll tell you what, if you're ever feeling old, the quickest cure is to either visit your parents, or have your parents visit you. I'll be 43 in December, but my parents still treat me like I'm 14 (or younger). I don't feel comfortable having a beer in front of them. I feel bad if a profanity falls from my lips near them. In spite of the fact that I'm married, I'm a homeowner, and I have some money in the bank, I still have a hard time shaking the feeling that my parents feel I'm barely keeping my head above water. I had hoped that surviving six months of unemployment would've created more confidence in them regarding me, but if anything, the reverse is true.

Anyway, the plan today is to gamble, eat, and take them over to Mamma Mia. I got two -for -one tickets. No doubt they're proud of me for that.

EXTRA: Watching coverage of the "day after" Ike. Again, you can't help but feel that the news networks are disappointed at the lack of destruction. In fact, it could be argued that the train crash in Los Angeles was a bigger news story (CNN was covering that while Fox was all about Ike. Advantage CNN). The pictures that I'm seeing look like Florida on a typical summer day when storms fire up in the late afternoon. Or, for that matter, Las Vegas during monsoon season. Post Katrina hysteria has made the networks proclaim every hurricane that hits the mainland as the potential "storm of the century". Ike hit land as a Category Two, and since the storms are measured on a scale of one to five, claiming it as "storm of the century" only works (slightly) because the century is only nine years in. Remember though, Katrina and Rita were both only three years ago, and it's going to be tough for them to be dethroned. Still, you know the networks are rooting for it to happen. Maybe next time. Anything that distracts attention away from politics is fine by me.

Hurricane coverage has just been interrupted for...a political ad. Damn it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Paninis and Pablum

The whole point to this entry was supposed to have been how much I hated lunch yesterday. I was meeting up with a friend I hadn't seen in months, and she was bringing her newborn. Five months old. We had lunch at a restaurant I would qualify as something between Fazzoli's and Olive Garden. In other words, not a place you take your infant to. The lunch would mark the first time I'd ever had lunch with a baby since, well, that baby was me. My blog was all written out in my head. Then then damnedest thing happened.


The baby was cute, cuddly and, best of all, quiet. He (Luke) seemed to warm up quickly to me and everyone got along. I was allowed to catch up with my friend on our separate lives without the constant interruptions that I had expected. All in all, a downright pleasant affair. I left just before diaper changing. I know when to make an exit.

This in no way means means that I've having a fatherly "itch" or anything like that. The baby was very cute, and we had fun together, but it was for all of 75 minutes. I can't imagine 24/7/365. I know why my mom wants more grandbabies, though. She can get them all riled up, spoil the heck out of them, and then leave, letting my sister deal with the consequences. It's kind of what I did yesterday, without the spoiling. I got a lot of smiles out of the kid, which can only mean good things regarding his future intelligence.

See, a baby, and then another baby, etc....then teenagers...seem to take up all of your time and your energy, your concerns, and your wallet. It sounds selfish, but I want to focus my energy on myself and Pumpkin. And Maverick. I love the freedom I have. That's the thing. It's not the cost of raising a child that scares me. It's about losing freedom that I have. Yeah, that sounds selfish doesn't it?

A child has been described to me as both the best and worst thing that can happen to a person. I think the best thing for me would be to make funny faces and crazy sounds and make a baby laugh- every five months or so.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I, Scofflaw

Thunderstorms loom, so once again, I put my life on the line to type. For you.

Something happened to me for the first time in eight years today. Can you guess what it was?

a) broke a bone
b) stopped by a cop
c) bought a car

Correct answer: B

Yep. Stopped by a cop this morning. Thankfully, it wasn't in the SuperCommuter van. It was on the way to work. I made a right-hand turn and travelled up to the first light, which was red. While waiting for the light to change, a cop pulled up behind me. Moments later, on came the flashing lights. Really, I thought he had gotten a call to tackle something else, but when I pulled over to let him pass, he pulled right over behind me.

I knew my plates were legal, and that my insurance was up to date. I didn't have any warrants that could be used against me. I was going to be the least interesting person this guy was going to deal with all day. So what could it be? What could I have done to cause an officer of the law, an important soldier in the thin blue line defending the valley- to pull over someone like me. Thankfully, he didn't ask me if I knew why I was being pulled over. Honestly, I had no idea. He came right out with it:

"Sir, you did a rolling stop over there on Agate (Street) when you turned onto Las Vegas Boulevard".

A rolling stop? I had 100 different responses to that, but refrained from being the smart-ass guy. This had to be a warning, right? Getting a ticket for a rolling stop? I'd be the laughing stock of traffic court. C'mon, give The SuperCommuter a break. After taking my license, registration and proof of insurance he waked back to the squad, giving me a couple of minutes to stew about it. More tongue was bitten off as he walked back to my car. After he handed me back my stuff, he let me off with a warning. No harm, no foul. Still, I was a little annoyed by the experience.

When I made my turn, the cop had to have been a quarter to a half mile to the south of me. At no time was anyone's safety compromised. If there was an oncoming car, I wouldn't have turned. I know from years of experience that plenty of dangers lurk on the road before the sun comes up. Today, I was not one of them. I saw 500 violations on the roads this morning that were more serious than mine. I'll chalk today up to a case of a bored cop with nothing to do who decided to kill some of his time by wasting mine. I sure hope it wasn't at someone else's expense