Saturday, August 30, 2008

Choke Job (aka Dropping The Ball)

I'm in a decent mood right now, based largely on the fact that I've taken the dog for a walk and I'm guzzling fresh coffee. That always seems to boost my spirits, no matter how down I get. Boy, was I down last night.

Last night was my debut as a sideline reporter for KDWN's high school football game of the week. We'll be broadcasting a game every Friday through December. Well, maybe I won't, but the station will. I was awful last night. Horrible. Want another? OK. How about abysmal? That works, too. I can't remember an assignment or a job that went as poorly for me as my "reporter" job went last night.

Part of the blame goes to technical problems: There was a slight delay in my headphones, meaning that when I spoke, I heard myself a second later. If you've ever experienced this, you know how distracting it can be. For me, it leads to a thing called "mushmouth". I have a hard time getting words out. I always plan ahead what I want to say, and all those thoughts were colliding at once, leading to indecipherable gibberish. Still, after I realized the delay would be with me all game through, I wasn't able to adjust to it. I felt like a rookie, out of place and in way over his head.

At game's end there was the typical round of "good game, fellas", "nice job, Mitch". That kind of thing. The guys I work with aren't the types to get in your face to tell you how much you sucked. I can't imagine them saying in private that I did anywhere close to a respectable job. What bugs me the most is that they were genuinely excited to have me as part of the broadcast team, and I came up empty. I'm still a little down on myself this morning, but you can't fix what's already broken....wait. Sure you can. That's why there are repairmen. Bad analogy. I can't change what happened. That's better. I've gotta shake it off.

Still, leaving the stadium last night, my first instinct was to drive right off the beltway, but I passed. I had a dog to walk this morning.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Face(book) Time

I'm not proud of it, but I now have a page on the website Facebook. Facebook is a phenomenally popular website were people create their own pages and stay in touch with people they usually see everyday anyway. My page is modest at best, with a photo, a brief profile and a listing of my "friends". Believe me, you'll get more of the good stuff here than there. I'm 42, but yet I've joined something that appeals more to an age group 20-30 years my junior. I got an e-mail from someone who used to listen to KWNR and they invited me to join, so I did. No charge. Though I associate sites like Facebook and My Space with kids, it's remarkable to see the number of adults that populate these pages. The woman who invited me to join happens to be older. I've visited some pages where the number of "friends" people have number in the hundreds. My number of friends?


One of them happens to be Pumpkin.

I'm fine with that. It seems to me that when you're younger, you want to have as many friends as you can so you can show off how popular you are. As you get older, the circle of friends tends to dwindle down to a precious few. People previously cited as friends become acquaintances, and previous acquaintances merely fade away. I'm in no rush to acquire more friends on Facebook, as that will then obligate me to correspond with them. I'm starting to sound like a crotchety old coot, aren't I? Many friends and wild nights out have been replaced by a handful of trustworthy friends and quiet evenings at home. That's perfectly ok with me.

Off the subject: It's been three years since the levees broke in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. How can the town continue to claim economic misery, yet still get 70,000 to come to the Superdome for an NFL pre-season game?? As far as I know, those tickets aren't free. A head scratcher.

Tonight I begin another assignment for KDWN, that of sideline reporter for the high school football game of the week. It's something I've never done before, which means I'm obsessing about the certain failure which is to come. I feel more comfortable in a booth than on site (yes, I consider the SuperCommuter van a booth, of sorts). I've had several nervous visits to the bathroom already today, and we're still six and half hours until kickoff.

Anyone else think it's ironic that we celebrate Labor Day by getting that day off? Shouldn't we still labor? Anyway...

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Days and Flip- Flops

It's the First Day of School so, yes, I have been "extra vigilant" on the roads. Funny how they make the FDoS sound like it's the first time in months that kids will actually be outside, like they're all getting out on work release. My streak of days seeing kids has to be in the thousands.

Gotta flip-flop here. In an earlier post, I wrote how I wouldn't mind seeing the USA basketball team lose because it would mean much, much more to the country that beat us. Watching the gold medal game against Spain changed my mind. I was actively rooting for the U.S., and at no time was I happy when Spain accomplished something positive. It just looked to me like winning the game and the gold meant a tremendous amount to Team USA, and the smiles on the gold medal stands proved it. It was actually moving to see the sincere amount of joy in their celebration, and I was proud that they were representing me.

Flip flopping isn't a bad thing, as long as your final flop lands in the right place.

NOTE- I would write a little about the Democratic convention, but then I would get sleepy, nod off, hit my head on the desk, knock myself out, fall, bleed all over the rug (though it's a Stainmaster), and Pumpkin wouldn't be home to summon medical help for five hours. In other words, I'd probably die doing it. So I won't.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden My Time

Barack Obama chooses Delaware senator Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate. Biden has been a senator since 1973. Obama's buzzword throughout his campaign? "Change". Funny how when push comes to shove that Obama chooses a running mate from the exact same Washington establishment he claims to so much disdain.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Well said, Pete.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Knowing When You're Going

Today, a small plane plunged into a house in North Las Vegas. The pilot and two people inside of the house were killed. They literally never saw it coming. And they're gone.

Former NFL great Gene Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer this on Wednesday. He was initially diagnosed with the disease only four days prior to his death.

This isn't going to be one of those entries that says how you need to treat life as a precious gift, that every day is special because it could be your last. I realize that a gas line explosion could destroy my house before I finish this entry. I won't bore you with cliched observations about life's journey. Instead, it's all about a hypothetical. Interested? Here it is.

The central question is: if you had the option of finding out when you're going to die, would you want to know? Bear in mind, the answer could be "next Tuesday", or it could be, "July 17th, 2041". Whatever the answer, that is definitely the check-out date for you. There's nothing you can do to prevent your demise on that day.

Advantages? Well, you could get your house in order, literally and figuratively, mend fences with those most important to you, and live the life you want until time's up. For example, if I knew I was going to die in five years, I'd probably empty my accounts and do everything that Pumpkin has wanted us to do, things that we had planned to do at our retirement. If I'm living until 90, I'd realize that I'll need to work longer and save more.

The disadvantages are obvious. The answer could be much, much sooner than you want. You will also not be told how you die. It's could be a traffic accident, cancer, car wreck, drowning, natural causes. You won't be told. Plus, you won't have any idea when your spouse will die. Pumpkin has said that even if her date of death was 40 years ahead, she would be obsessed with the date and thus unable to enjoy her long remaining days. She chooses not to know.

Opting not to know your date of death means that life goes on as it normally does, full of uncertainty and unanswered questions.

So what's it gonna be?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Un-Easy Riders

There was a fatal accident for me to cover today. The least surprising aspect? It involved a motorcycle.

In my job as SuperCommuter, this marks the 5th time I've been dispatched to the scene of a fatal accident, and the 5th time it involved a two wheel vehicle. Again, not surprisingly, the person on the two-wheeler was the person under the sheet.

I don't know the circumstances behind today's accident, so I don't know who's at fault. I'm getting to be a pretty good judge of who the safest drivers are, as I now spend 6-7 hours on the road each day. Topping the dubious class of dangerous drivers? The motorcyclist. Not a day goes by that I don't see them weaving through traffic thinking, "ooh, that was close". Certainly, you've been involved in a freeway jam only to see a motorcycle or scooter drive between your vehicle and another. Considering how little protection they have, choosing to use such dangerous tactics has given the motorcyclist a runaway lead in the race to die.

The thrill of driving a motorcycle is a fever I never caught, and is something I continue not to understand today. Especially in this Vegas heat. It looks incredibly uncomfortable. You need to wear pants. You have to wear a helmet. It's loud. You have to floss bugs out of your teeth at the end of the journey. Where's the thrill? It's just you and the open road? Nonsense. When I'm out there in my Nissan Maxima, and "Summertime Girls" from Y&T comes on my iPod, I'm able to shut out the world just as well as any biker. And it's all in air conditioned comfort.

Plus, chances are I won't be involved in the top story if I get in an accident. Unless I hit a motorcyclist.

UPDATE: The motorcyclist has been ruled at fault for running the red light.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cuisine Routine

Much has been made lately of Olympic champion Michael Phelps' 12,000 calorie per day diets. it's quite a scene, man. It's more like a weightlifter's diet than that of a swimmer. Phelps says he swims 5 hours a day, six days a week, so he's built up the metabolism of a long-time meth addict (Ever see a fat meth addict? Me either) and can get away with eating a whole pizza every day. I've never done this before, but I want to see how my typical diet rivals that of a record-setting Olympian. Here goes:

5:30am- My first meal of the deal is a cup of instant oatmeal. Today's flavor? Maple and Brown Sugar, which actually sounds better than it was. I didn't use enough water, so it was like ingesting wallpaper paste. Low sugar wallpaper paste, at that. 110 calories. I also had a half a cup of coffee, which I call my energy drink. 0 calories.

7am- I hit the red light at Summerlin Parkway and 215, which makes it a perfect time to wolf down a Trader Joe's strawberry breakfast bar. It's got a delightfully fruity flavor, and it's sturdy enough not to break apart upon first bite. I finish it before the light turns green. The red light is unreasonably long at Summerlin Parkway and 215. 140 calories.

8:30am- I dig into some fresh cut cantaloupe after getting back from walking the dog. I don't know what the calorie count is for fresh melon. I think fresh fruit is the last thing you can buy that doesn't have a nutrition label on it, which is a good thing. I'm drinking a bottle of water right now, and it has a nutrition label on it. This makes no sense to me. Zeroes across the board. It's not a significant source of anything, yet it's called the "stuff of life". Go figure. Anyway, I'll say 150 calories for the melon

8:40am- More fruity stuff. I have a cup of Yoplait Digestive health yogurt. Pomegranate Blueberry. On the product box, it says if I don't see results in ten days, I can get a full refund. Considering I go through a roll of Cottonelle toilet paper per day, I think it's working just fine. 110 calories

Total breakfast intake: 510 calories

11:30am: Lunch time! After a not so successful nap, I decide to create a nice little lunch for me. I want something more than my usual microwavable meal (even though those have markedly improved), so I make a turkey pita with caesar dressing, and have some sour cream and onion Baked Lays chips with it. With the turkey and the chips, I'm estimating what their "serving sizes" means. Serving sizes are almost always unreasonably low, so I'll go like this: Pita: 160 calories, turkey 100 calories. Caesar dressing, 15 calories (it's one of those spritzers, not from a big bottle). Chips, 150 calories. Topped it off with a sugar free pudding for dessert. 60 calories.

Total lunch intake: 485 calories
Total breakfast /lunch intake: 995 calories

If Michael Phelps takes in 12,000 calories a day and can swim for five hours, if figure I'd be good for about 20 minutes in the pool before requiring medical attention. I'm still hungry, but I don't know what to eat. I know what I want....this is the part of the day that I want that whole pizza, but we don't have one, and I don't feel like getting one. My admiration for Phelps grows by the meal. Eating a lot may sound easy, but it's not.

1:45pm: Having a little snack, as I need to be back at work in two hours. Today's snack is Pop Secret 100 calorie Kettle Corn (100 calories. Duh), chased with a glass of caffeine free Diet Coke. This should tide me over until dinner. Looking at how many kernels didn't pop, I'm guessing my intake is closer to 80 calories, but I'll keep it at 100.
_______________________________________________________________ Watching Olympic baseball. Remarkable how boring baseball really is when you don't have a rooting interest. Quick note on Michael Phelps. No, he's not the greatest Olympian ever. I don't even think he's the greatest swimmer. He barely won gold in two of his races, and no one is talking about how his greatest advantage is his height. He's 6'4". If Michael Phelps maxed out at 6'3", he's would've finished 2nd in two of his races. Without the anchor leg that his teammate swam in one of the relay races, that would've been another silver. Spare me the "greatest ever" nonsense, especially if you're just using it (NBC) to sell dvds.

Eating makes me spunky. I need to do it more often _____________________________________________________________

5pm: A Quaker Chewy Granola bar. Peanut butter and chocolate chip. It's just enough to take the edge off as I'm 90 minutes away from dinner. I successfully manage not to get any chocolate on my shorts. It's been a good day. 100 calories

6:30: Dinner time, or as they call it in the Midwest: Supper. Tonight, Pumpkin and I enjoyed linguine with browned butter and mizithra cheese, ripped off from the dear departed Spaghetti Factory. I can only estimate the calories for the cheese and the butter, and I figured that I had two servings of pasta, so I'm going to put the total for the plate at 700 calories, give or take. oh, and a small slice of french bread. 100 calories more? Desert consisted of two fudge bars, 120 calories total. I'm not hungry right now, but i feel a snack coming later.

Total Dinner Intake: 920 calories

I've gotta hand it to that Phelps guy. 12,000 is hard enough to do for just one day, but when you're bringin' it day after day after day, that's something special. I'm something like 10,500 calories behind his pace and, not surprisingly, I don't have any energy. A planned trip to the store was cancelled because Pumpkin and I are having a hard time lifting ourselves off the couch.

7:35pm- One last little snack, a root beer popsicle. 35 calories. I have a small sore throat so it's the perfect balm. I want another, but pass. Why pass? I really don't know. It's not like I'm having a second piece of pie.

Total calories consumed today: 2150. It seems like I've had less than that. Still, I trail Phelps by 10,000 or so. Looks like I'll never be a world-class athlete. Then again, McDonald's is an Olympic sponsor and supplier, so maybe I should include more of their cuisine into my daily routine.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pencil Me Out

Let me just qualify this little nugget by saying that I don't have children, and it's looking less and less likely that I will. I can't identify with much that goes along with raising children, except to say that I once was a child (and still behave like one sometimes, according to Pumpkin) and I remember how my parents used to deal with things. Ok, now onto the subject at hand. Back to school

Back in my days of going through the Milwaukee Public School system (1971-1984), going back to school was no big deal. You went out and shopped for some new clothes, got a haircut, and you were ready for day one. Now it's a full blown Event. No doubt the local TV stations will have "team coverage" of the first day, which will include interviews with nervous parents, tired kids, and already exasperated teachers. Drivers will be reminded to observe school zone speed limits. This coverage will be repeated in the 4, 4:30, 5, 6, 6:30, 9, 10, 10:30, and 11pm newscasts, just in case we missed it the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh time around. Back to School is big business.

Another part of the whole BTS (back to school) thing are the increasing numbers of "school supply" drives. They go by clever monikers like Stuff the Bus, and involve television and radio stations begging their viewers/listeners to bring "badly needed" school supplies so that students won't go without this year. Of course, the Bad Economy is being cited as to why supplies are in need now more than ever. It's our duty to stuff the bus, or our kids will be dumber than ever (and judging from the most recent batch of standardized test scores, that would be some feat). Though their hearts may be in the right place, a drive for school supplies has to rate amongst the dumbest ideas ever, right up their with the decision to make beach volleyball an Olympic sport. Let me list the prices on certain BTS items that families can buy at Office Max today, courtesy of the Sunday advertising flyer...

Pencils (12pack)- .10
Spiral notebooks (70pg)- .10
Crayons (24 ct)- .20
Folders- .25
Glue- .01 (not a typo)
Rulers- .10 each
Scissors- .25 each

I can't find a price for Bic pens, but I imagine them to be under $2.

So, let's say I have three kids, all elementary school age. This means they'll need the works, even glue. I might even toss in a compass or protractor, just for fun....even though in today's climate, a metal compass might be seen as a dangerous weapon. Let's tally how much I'm out of pocket buying all these supplies for my three kids.

It's anywhere between $8-$10, depending on how many pens I think they need. $10 tops.

For three kids....for the entire school year. Am I missing something? Why is there a drive for things that cost the average family no more than $10 a year? Please, if I'm missing the bigger picture, clue me in. This doesn't seem like a crisis to me. If anything, BTS is one of the more affordable times of the year. I'm badly in need of more notebooks, and what other time of the year are they going to be .10?

Meanwhile, let's go down to the Salvation Army food bank, where by mid-August you're down to families fighting over the last cans of creamed corn and strained carrots. Spend (and give) wisely, my friends

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Taking The Lead

Watching the Olympics again. Serena Williams is battling some French chick. I don't like the fact that Serena Williams is in the Olympics. I'd rather have amateurs across the board. I hate watching tennis. Off it goes. Well, this post is off and rolling.

I made the decision last week to stop posting to this blog, and as you can read, I'm having second thoughts about it. The reason I decided to stop was that some of my opinions on the state of radio and my place in it were getting read by people who might have a reaction to it that would be counterproductive to my endgame. Vague enough? Good. Still, I like to write, and the writing is done more for my entertainment than for anyone who might happen to find this page. By closing the blog down, I was only punishing myself for things I shouldn't have been punished for in the first place. It was the literary equivalent of taking my ball and going home. My keyboard, in this case. So here I sit.

Bernie Mac died last weekend. Sad, to be sure. I thought the guy was funny, but I thought nothing more than that. He was a bit player in the "Ocean's" movie series to me. He was the inexplicable choice to take over the Bosley role from Bill Murray in the second "Charlie's Angels" movie. He had a sitcom I never watched. He was an entertainer to me, no more than that. Yet I knew that upon his death, we'd be reading about what a leader he was in the black community. It took about a day, but it happened. "The black community lost an important voice". Hmm? When your important voices are actors and stand-up comics, you're in a quicksand of which there's no escape. Will Mexicans collapse in grief when George Lopez passes on? I can't think of one white actor/singer/comic whose passing would bring the "what a blow to the Caucasian community" talk. Sure, I'll be sad when Paul Newman goes, but it won't be a crushing blow to me and my race as a whole. The entire concept is ludicrous.

If anything, Isaac Hayes, who also recently passed away, had much more influence. Think of how many illegitimate children were fathered with the help of side one of "Hot Buttered Soul" or "Shaft". Can you dig it? The cultural impact of that can't be overstated.

Bottom line is this: If you're not your own leader by the time you move out of your parents' house, maybe you should stay there a little while longer. You will work for bosses, but that doesn't mean they're leaders. I've never been the boss of anyone (even my dog seems to run me), but I'm at the place I am now because of the choices that I've made, not the choices that have been made for me. When you quit looking for someone to lead you, you'll be surprised at how much you can get done.

Some people get $5,000 a pop for telling people what I just wrote. Maybe I'm in the wrong business.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Funny how a re-run on television is now presented as an "encore presentation". To me, an encore is something that is asked for, like a crowd asking Van Halen to come back because they didn't play "Panama". I titled this post "Encore" even though no one has asked me to write, if only because it makes me feel better.

At the moment, I'm watching badminton. I've never typed that sentence before, but it's true. The mid-day portion of the Summer Olympics offers little in the way of sports that would be considered, you know, even marginally entertaining. This is why we're served up loads of badminton, archery, canoeing, and judo. Still, I can't help but watch it. It's not because (mostly anyway) I have nothing better to do than watch television. It's because I feel obligated to watch the Olympics. I feel it's a duty, and I'm struggling with why that is. When Pumpkin comes home, one of our screens (yes, we have a TV with side to side screen capability) will have the Olympics on, while the other will have whatever we TIVo-ed or "Two and a Half Men" on. The Olympics are on, and I must watch. Very few of the events are shown live, and if I wanted to know the winners, I could just go online. But I don't want to.

I watched the Latvian team beat the Americans in beach volleyball and was happy for the Lats. I'm not anti-American, but it sure means a hell of a lot more to that country than to ours. Beach volleyball in Latvia? Every Olympics, we are subject to a litany of stories, some that sadden us, and some that lift our spirits. The greatest upsets come from the smallest countries. I'd rather see someone from the Solomon Islands up on the medal stage than someone from America just because it means so much more to that person and to their country. I think when our athletes win medals, their next step is to sign an agent and shoot a Wheaties commercial. That doesn't exactly warm this cynical old heart.

I think I'm getting off track, so let me double back around to my central point: I think I watch the Olympics not for great performances, but for compelling stories. If those stories involve them beating us, that makes me happy. If the U.S basketball team falls flat on its face, I'll find that kinda funny. The U.S. just beat Italy in Water Polo. I can live with that.

An encore presentation of "Judge Judy" is coming on. Gotta go.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Closing Shop

When I first started writing this blog, it was meant as an outlet for me after getting fired from KWNR. I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings because I didn't have anyone to bounce them off of, other than my dog, for most of my days. I let a few people in on what I was doing, and now I find myself regretting it. I can no longer feel safe in thinking that my written thoughts are going to be private, and perhaps I was silly to think that way in the first place. I enjoy throwing my thoughts out there, but it might be time to retire this. I can't be surprised that it turned out this way. In some ways, I'm surprised it's taken this long.

Time to go back to talking to the dog.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I got paid today.

Should be good news, right? So why is my mood in a tailspin?

Over the past nine months, I think I've done a pretty good job at keeping my chin up, but today I'm in a funk. A deep, deep funk. The paycheck I received today will likely be the highest I'll receive in my current situation. They're very watchful of their part-timers' hours over at the new place. Anyway, looking at the latest check, and putting it up against typical bills and expenses it means that I'm now living in the majority.

I'm now living paycheck to paycheck.

I don't expect sympathy from anyone reading this, nor do I want any. I've been able to put away some money through the years, but I didn't plan to tap into it at 42. Kind of like the strategic petroleum reserve. It's there, but the last thing you want to do is use it. I look at the money in my checking account as the only money I have, and it's figuratively circling the drain. What put me over the edge about this? I need my rear brakes replaced. Nine months of convincing myself things were good, and one car repair pushed my fragile psyche over the brink.

I haven't taken the car in for an estimate yet, but after doing so well the past couple of months, all it takes is one brake job to wipe it all away. Between the cost of the brake job and rent, the entire paycheck I received today has been wiped out. By the time I get paid again, that check (which will be smaller than today's) will go toward groceries, electricity, phone, gas, water, and maybe the occasional sandwich at Quizno's. Then the cycle repeats itself.

Repeating: I don't expect/want sympathy. What depresses me the most is that as you get older, you're suppose to be moving away from the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I'm going backwards. I saved when I was younger, and am barely staying afloat into middle age. That's not how they draw it up. I saw a feature on Channel 8 about how Nevada Job Connect is figuratively (I know I just used that word earlier, but indulge me. I'm hurting) bursting at the seams with people looking for work. I've never identified more with those people as I did this morning, not even when I was unemployed. My paychecks aren't much, but I do have a job and it's a job that I like. I guess in that way, I'm ahead. Ok, starting to feel a little better.

At least until I get the estimate on the brakes.