Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cleaning the Attic III

I should really be at the gym. 30 minutes on the treadmill. Maybe 45. Instead, I'm looking at what appears to be an intoxicated Harry Connick warbling "Close to You" on the Ellen show, with the rabble lapping it up. I'm now to the point where I risk more injury by going to the gym and lifting a weight than by staying and home and lifting the remote. It's been awhile since I've done this so please pardon me while I serve up there innocuous observations;

To the argument that their can be no good news reported without a steaming pile of feces being dumped upon it: GOOD NEWS: Burglaries are down nationwide, by double digits in some areas. BAD NEWS: "They" surmise it's because there are more jobless, and these jobless are staying home. Thus, it's less tempting to the burglar. Why, then, would those of us with jobs want the recession to end? I'm not going to want to be held responsible for supporting a nationwide crime wave.

I'm not sure what product they're advertising, but there's a spot that focuses on a family called the Buttertons. Clever. They're presented in black and white, "Leave it To Beaver" -style. The woman does all the cooking and does so with (gasp) real butter, oils, and ungodly amounts of fat. The problem is that the Buttertons have a normal body weight. Mom, Dad and son look like they all have normal BMIs, in spite of the fact they're consuming lethal amounts of dairy. In contrast, the people (filmed in color) who are using the advertised product are slightly overweight. I don't think the point of a commercial is to get you to use the exact opposite of the product that's being advertised, so in this case I have to salute the makers of the ad for getting it so wrong. Pity that I can't remember the products, which also is a sign of how ineffective the spot is.

My dog loves Golden Grahams cereal.

As soon as we stop treating schools and the military like social experiments, we'll be much better off. Both are jobs, places of employment. Are far as schools go, let's just hear that kids (no, not yours. Yours are brilliant) aren't as smart as they used to be and move on. That would be my first statement as superintendent.

I don't understand the phrase "help people help themselves". Is that even possible?

Heard from a guy today who was griping that Las Vegas' growth should be curtailed. Interestingly enough, the gentleman lived on Flamingo and Hualapai, in a comfortable home that's four years that only exists because of the expansion he despises. Hypocrites tend to skew older.

Safeway's generic diet cola is just as good, if not better, than Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke, and it's half the price.

Read an article yesterday about how new talk shows by George Lopez and Wanda Sykes are playing to an "underserved" television audience. Latinos and blacks can't be entertained by anyone other than their own kind? The Caucasian of European descent is the only one who's not allowed to show pride in his heritage, just as the American who shows pride in his country is simply labled as a gun-loving redneck, while those carrying flags of any other country are seen as "prideful".

Well, this was fun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Money For Nothing

I recently read that the Clark County School District spends an estimated $12,500 per student. Per student. Test results continue to run below the national average (which isn't all that impressive in its own right) and it's not like the students are getting any smarter. If the school system is equated to the farm system that a baseball organization has, CCSD is destined for futility on par with the Pittsburgh Pirates. No hope is in sight.

I'm not going to go into great detail about why I think that is, but it just goes to show that money doesn't make you smart. You could hand The Man on The Street $100 and you can be sure he's going to do something stupid with it. He may buy food, but that food will probably be a horrendously overpriced dinner at Postrio. Maybe he'll run down to Rose's Den and buy Powerball tickets. Or maybe he'll stay closer to home and play the Megabucks machine- or the 10-teamer that looks like an absolute lock. You get the point. Opportunity wasted, and you can bet on it.

Like anything else, school is something that takes work, and if the principles (students/teachers) don't want to do the work, it's over. From what I've seen in the CCSD, the teachers are equipped and ready to do the work, while the students sit there and form one giant middle finger. I guess on the bright side, we'll never hear about a dearth of fast food workers. Our french fries are safe.

Anyway, I'm awaiting a check from my dad. Both sets of grandparents did a lousy job of taking care of their personal affairs, and my parents both had the power of attorney function. Weeks of headaches led them to the realization that they didn't want to do this to their kids, so as they get on in years they're spreading their assets around. I really don't know if my parents have a ton of money, but one of my dad's cds (certificates of deposit, for you kids dropping by for a read today) is coming due, and he'll throw that money around to the kids, money I'll happily accept. It eases the burden on my parents and fattens up my accounts. Win, meet Win.

The money won't go toward a cruise. Or a new washer/dryer. Or a remodeling of the kitchen cabinets that the wife has been on me for since I moved into the house. It will probably just be spread around to various investments. I'll get the check and spin it off like a monetary hot potato. Ok, maybe we'll go to Outback Steakhouse, but only during Happy Hour for half-priced appetizers.

I know it's boring and won't stimulate the economy, but as long as it leads to a more comfortable hammock in which to lay in the future, I'll happily grade myself an "A" for the effort. Class dismissed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No News is Good News (Literally)

I've stated here a couple of times that no news story that contains positive information seems to be allowed to stand on its own nowadays.

NOTE: Channel 8's Denise Valedez just mentioned "these tough economic times". I wonder if there's a mandate from the news director to throw that phrase in several times a broadcast. I've even heard it during a weather segment. "War on Terror"? No thanks. "These tough economic times"? Yeah, baby. Can't get enough.

Ok, anyway...go and read the first sentence again, then come back.

There have been a couple of examples this week that again led me to think that you can't get an ounce of positive without having a gallon of crap poured all over it:

Exhibit A: The Project CityCenter development has begun hiring and staffing. Yay! Some touts said that "in these tough economic times" such a monstrous project would never move forward. It was simply a case of too much ambition, and not enough dough to bring those dreams to fruition. Whether it's 100, 75, or even 10 percent successful remains to be seen. Still, it's a badly needed shot in the arm for an area seeing record unemployment. There can be no downside, right?

Downside: With part of the project completed, there will be construction jobs lost. Ouch. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Then again, if you watch the news, I'm sure you did.

Exhibit B: The Clark County School District's student enrollment is decreasing for the first time in years. The district will have approximately 1,500 fewer students this school year. In past years, large increases in the number of students have stretched resources thin, led to critical teacher shortages, and forced students and teachers into much less comfortable portable classrooms. The district was sinking under the weight of Las Vegas' population boom. If increases in students caused such problems, reductions must alleviate same, right? Logic dictates so.

Downside: Fewer students means the district will have to cut programs, especially in it's arts departments. There's been a layoff or two. A future cellist is at risk. Enrollment didn't meet projections, so cuts needed to be made. None of these cuts came from any of the amazingly bloated school district administration. After hearing all these years about how the school district was unable to realistically sustain itself with such rapid growth, I thought that a drop of approximately three students per school would be welcome relief. My lesson: I'm a fool.

NOTE: Channel 8 on scene at a neighborhood where a man has barricaded himself in a home. I'm waiting for someone to say how much we've seen of this behavior "in these tough economic times".

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back In Session

As summer turns to fall, it means the temperatures dip (eventually), the Packers lose at home to an unheralded opponent, and the fall television season begins. Tonight, it's the season premier of "Two And A Half Men". While no "Barney Miller", I enjoy "Men" and have seen every episode. It's not overly smart, but it's consistently funny. These days when "30 Rock" is thought of as the best comedy series going (would that it were as funny as it thinks it is), that's enough.

Still, as the season premiere looms, part of me doesn't want to watch the show anymore. I'm not telling anyone else not to watch it. It would be my decision only. It all stems from recently learning that "Men" star Charlie Sheen is part of a conspiracy group that believes that the Bush Administration was behind the attacks of 9/11/01. A couple of weeks ago, Sheen went so far as to request a meeting with President Obama to discuss his theories. Thankfully, Obama was prepping for his appearance on "Tyra" or Jay Leno and didn't have any time to have his ears bent. The story didn't get much play in the media (surprise), but when I found out about it, my enthusiasm for "Men" tanked. I usually don't watch it during the week anymore (it's on twice nightly), but yesterday I caved and set my DVR for a season pass for "Men"

I'm not a boycott guy, because what I do doesn't matter on a large scale. Me not watching it this season won't keep "Men" from consistently rating in the Top 10. It will continue to run until well past the title changes to simply "Three Men". I don't agree with people who try to organize boycotts of artists they don't see eye to eye with. I think Woody Harrelson is a first-class chump, but I can't wait to see "Zombieland". Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are as opposite my political spectrum as possible, but I'll still gladly watch "Bull Durham", "The Player", "Atlantic City" or any other quality work that they produce. I'm sure the list of people in Hollywood that I share great ideological differences with is vast and wide. I guess I'm surprised that the Sheen story didn't get much play (except for Fox). Maybe I'm not. And again, what I think only matters to a very, very small circle of people.

I told Pumpkin about the whole Sheen affair, and while she thinks the whole "truther" movement is asinine, she wants to watch the show. I just don't think it's going to be as funny to me as it once was. Few things are.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chapter 15, Page 1

I watched a cockroach die yesterday.

It was in the bathroom at work, next to the urinal. It was on its back and in obvious discomfort. Each time I can in, I thought it had died, only to see it wiggle its legs again. It just would die. It's kind of scary to think that a cockroach can survive a nuclear blast, yet something in the bathroom at work was powerful enough to kill it.

Anyway, today I feel like the roach that just won't die. Again yesterday, more people lost their jobs and I survived. I'm now taking the place of the person responsible for getting me the job in the first place. I'm back to waking up before the sun. I'm back to getting home in time to catch a few innings of the Cubs' game. I'm back at home for an afternoon nap with my dog. I used to love all those things but now I just want things to be as they were last Friday. I want people who only look at the bottom line to realize the simple fact that getting rid of good people to save a few bucks leads to a subpar product, then a poor performance, followed by falling ratings and dwindling  revenue. Then more firings. But they'll never understand, will they?

What's particularly frightening from a radio aspect is that there isn't any good talent rising up to take the place of those who've been let go. A baseball team can shed its high-salaried superstars to save money in hopes that their farm system prospects pay cheaper dividends down the road. In radio, there's no farm system. Good people are sent packing and there's no one in the minor leagues ready to take their place. The industry will eventually die. cause of death: suicide.

Today, I'm just sad and concerned. That's the bottom line.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Like Ross and Rachel....

I've just been taking a break from this. Everyone seems to take a vacation in August, so I've done the same with this blog. Many a time, I've thought about sitting at the keyboard and hammering out something rife with rapier wit, only to be overwhelmed with indifference minutes later.

I like that I've been getting positive feedback about this page, but that also comes with a small price; Expectations. I'd come to feel that just a small sampling of opinion wasn't sufficient enough. Every entry had to be a column worthy of a leading newspaper or it wasn't worth posting. Thus a lot of potential entries were scuttled (yeah, scuttled. Aargh!). Today, that doesn't matter much. 

Today I'm puzzled as to why stocks continue to rise right along with unemployment (though I'm not complaining). I'm confused as to why leading economic experts say we're seeing an end to the recession when the only signs they're using are that more FORECLOSED HOMES are coming off of the market. Why be optimistic about the future of the economy when the nation's debt is projected to quadruple? Or are we up to quintuple now?

Certainly, if my personal debt was to increase four-fold, I wouldn't describe myself in a better financial state than before- unless I was a complete fool. Yet, somehow, the economy is getting better as the debt grows by leaps and bounds? Kids always have more trouble with math than any other subject. Too bad elected officials seem to struggle most when the subject is Logic.

Ok, back to the cabin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Booze For Thought

One of my favorite shows is "Intervention" on A&E. The show follows along an addict down a road of destruction fueled by their own addictions, be it alcohol, drugs, obsessive compulsiveness. The show has the intended consequence of making me feel better about myself while at the same time making me yearn for a drink. I'm pretty sure that's not the purpose the producers had in mind.

Anyway, last night's show focused of a woman whose life was ruled by vodka. Her marriage, her kids, her career- all lost because of her inability to quit drinking. I was not bothered by this. I felt no sympathy. What irritated me the most was the way that she drank. She would go to the liquor store and pick up several little bottles (the ones flight attendants dole out) of vodka, bring them home, then chill 'em and swill 'em. My anger stemmed from the fact that she could've saved more money by buying a huge jug of the stuff over individual sized bottles. I wasn't worried about her liver- but her wasteful spending. Ah, but she's a woman, so...

Come to think of it, I've never seen an "Intervention" episode about wasteful spending. I'm guessing that would air on Lifetime: Television for Women

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Don't Blame Me

I haven't posted very much lately. I've got things to say, but seeing as part of my job entails pounding away at a keyboard and constantly clicking a mouse, my home computer hasn't been a regular stop during non-work hours. Still, as I sat watching the Padres/Nationals game and realized there has to be a better way to spend my time. So...

I read an article this morning about the whole Erin Andrews affair. Ya know, the looker from ESPN who was videotaped while primping, nude, in her hotel room. It's in all the papers. Anyway, that's the problem. The whole tone of the article was what a voyeuristic society we've become and how "all of us" are to blame for the Andrews fiasco. Yep. You and me. We're at fault. I haven't seen the video and really don't want to. I'm a 43 year old man who's seen naked ladies in all shapes, sizes and colors. Seeing another set isn't going to turn into Bud Bundy. It's just not a big deal. I feel bad for Ms. Andrews and hope the punk that taped her gets his just desserts.

What bothers me the most is the media moralizing over how "we're all to blame". I first heard about the story while watching Channel 13's late morning news. They were appropriately horrified that one of their own had been exploited in such a way. I'm guessing their righteous indignation lasted close to three minutes. Then I saw stills from the video on the NY Post website. Every day, print, electronic, and viral media were all over it, and they were all uniform in their disgust. 

I'm still trying to figure out how the blame somehow lies at my feet. My exposure (for lack of a better term) to it came from the same media now lecturing me for my voyeuristic nature. I would not have known about the video's existence without them. They provide the sweets, then scold me for eating them. Nice.

I'm guessing a Doris Burke video wouldn't get nearly the same coverage.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yes You Did

I didn't sleep very well. The dog got me up in the middle of the night, after after he was done with his business I just laid in bed and thought of how things have changed in the past 8 months. A "stimulus package" passed, voted on by people who didn't read it. We're on the way to passing clean energy and health care overhauls. Not reforms. Complete overhauls. Huge stories with ramifications for generations to come, if we even get that far. The international situation is as tense as ever. We may get nuked, but at least I'll die recycling.

It doesn't seem like many people know what's going on. None of the "Most Read" stories on have to do with stimulus, cap and trade, health care, Sotomayor, or international tensions. The most popular story is about the murder of a Florida couple that had 18 kids. There are a couple of Michael Jackson items as well. Interesting stories if only for their macabre value. The show hosts I listen to atwork constantly pontificate about how the people have to do something to stop what's happening before it becomes law. I think lawmakers know that the people aren't going to do that, or they would've become lawmakers in the first place. People only care about their own little kingdom, and I get that, but I'm scared about how our indifference is going to finally come back to bite us.

In times of recession, people are always given advice to cut back on what they spend. Instead of having a couple of months reserve cash on hand, try to have as much as a year's worth. Save. Yet, our government continues to throw money around like they're Rip Taylor tossing confetti on the old "Gong Show". The deficit has tripled (or has it quadrupled?) since BHO took office. Imagine more massive spending on the health care overhaul. Industries will have to spend more to work "cleaner" and who do you think the costs will be passed to (BHO's comments that energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket" somehow got past everyone) ? Farmers will have to charge more for the goods they produce, and who's going to have to bite down on that nut? Me. And I've asked for none of this.

The whole concept of letting "the rich" pay for everything is a topic for another time (maybe). Lying in bed last night, not only was I worried, but angry as well. Not at BHO and his cronies. They're only doing what they said they would do. I'm angry at the voter who put him in office, who fell for the rhetoric, who decided that BHO should be President because "It's time" a minority took office. The Presidency has become yet another Affirmative Action job, with predictably disastrous results coming down the road. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hot and Bothered

It's been almost two weeks since my last posting. I used to do this 3-5 times a week. Now, I barely have the energy for two middling entries per month. It's not that I don't have things to say. It's that everything lately just seems so uninteresting. I'm stuck in the cycle of the endless re-run, where nothing is fresh anymore.

Major celebrity dies a drug- related death and the fight begins for his estate? Seen it. A public figure who's heavy into family values admits to a nine-month affair? Seen it. Bickering politicians, cheating athletes, teachers laying the wood (or rolling out the carpet) to their students, senseless shootings, dumb car wrecks that leave innocents paralyzed, dying too young, living too long, and the Brewers folding like a tent. All have the distinct smell of a basketball locker room after a triple-overtime game. Nothing arouses much passion in me lately. Not sports. Not world affairs. Nothing. Maybe I can only have passion for those things I can directly control (my marriage, my health, my cooking). Otherwise, it seems like a waste of a good emotion.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a happy guy. Solid relationship, a "normal" family, a strong core of pals, and a job I don't hate. I'm just seeing a little more clearly why people don't get involved. Being appreciated amongst the small circle of people that are involved in your daily life is hard enough. Making a difference? Changing the world? Not for this cat. I've seen many a saintly do-gooder fall by the wayside after giving it a go for awhile. I'll take care of myself, thanks. Some may call that selfish, but by not depending on others. I call it my little way of giving back.

Meanwhile, on Fox- Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Democrats love her. Republicans don't. Seen it. Sigh

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Love Kids. Really. I Do

Pumpkin said something interesting the other day. She said that for her next job, she's going to say we have kids. Kids are a great excuse not to work a full day. Rare is the day where she comes home and doesn't say that so and so had to take Caleb/Jenny/Loqueesha to the doctor, or pick them up from detention, or just do something kid-related that allowed them to get out of work a couple of hours early. And who has to pick up the slack? Pumpkin. She's tired of it, and I don't blame her.

If you think about it, the perfect employee is a non-smoker who doesn't have or doesn't want kids. They're generally healthier, more productive, and don't have other obligations that will pull them away from their hired task. If I were in a position to hire, that's what I'd look for. In this day and age, though, I'd be taken to court faster than Maverick wolfs down a Milk Bone. Today, offices are more "communities" than workplaces, with day care for the little ones, and contests for the most nicely decorated cubicle. The proliferation of PDAs means more and more of a blurring of the lines between home life and work life, which leads to lesser creativity and productivity. 

Pumpkin and I text each other several times a day, but that's it. I have a job to do and so does she. Nothing gets in the way of that. As a result- in Pumpkin's case at least-  this means shouldering the extra load of those (women) who have allowed their home life into their work space. Once again, responsibility is punished.

I'd go on, but my chest hurts and I'm sweating. That's not good. Still, I won't call off work. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Day, Another Drama

I really thought that with the election of Barack Obama that the news media would present things in a more positive light as far as this "recession" goes. You know, pointing out that our unemployment rate is the envy of the world, how more people have the opportunity to buy homes, start businesses, etc, than anywhere else. All of that crap. It hasn't happened. Rarely does a day go by that you don't see a family that isn't suffering through hard times (Note: the people profiled will always have kids, thus getting you to "feel more" for their situation.).

Thus I found it interesting that in USA Today last week, there was a sympathetic profile of a woman who has to work three jobs to get by. Three. As I'm reading this, my sympathy chip did not go off. Instead, I'm wondering why it is that she's not being portrayed as lucky, what with how the job market is these days. Three jobs? Tell those 2,000 poor saps who sat for an interview for a position with the Hard Rock Hotel's housekeeping department how much sympathy they have for that gal. Not much, methinks.

Can we feel equal amounts of pity for both the unemployed and the over-employed? The woman in the article brought home an estimated 40k annually. That won't get her a winter escape in St. Tropez, but if she plays her cards right, it's more than enough to keep her head, neck, and sizable waist above water. What bothers me the most is how these situations are always portrayed as unique, and how every crisis is the worst - until the next one comes along. People have always been fired, had to relocate, took on a paper route, battled (always courageously) a killer disease, dined out less, vacationed less, and generally made sacrifices. Today is just another day, with the same old stories, told in the same old way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lights, Camera, Lipstick

Has anyone else but me noticed that the news game has been overrun by women lately? Last night, I'm watching one of the local newscasts, and there are two women anchoring. For the top story they throw it out to...another woman. None of the channels here are "chick-free" at the anchor desk. In fact, I'm much more likely to see an all-gal newscast then to see a couple of dudes go back and forth. What happened?

If you took the average woman and gave her a quiz on current events, I'd bet the mortgage that her score would be closer to zero than it would to 100. So why are we inundated  by female news personalities all of a sudden? The nightly news has become much less of a re-cap of the day's events and more of a "watching out for me" mentality (to borrow the motto of another local news outlet). A story on a family that is filing for bankruptcy isn't news to me, but a feature designed to make us feel something. There! Feeling something! Maybe that's it. As the news becomes less about the news and more about getting you to "feel something" maybe it's thought that a woman can deliver the goods better than a man can.

Or maybe it simply boils down to serving the hottest dish to read the teleprompter scroll because the prettier the gal, the more of the actual people who watch the news (guys) will tune in. Sometimes the obvious answers apply.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Cell of My Own Making

There's one time every day where I feel unsafe. It's a two block stretch on the drive home, southbound on Tamarus from Tropicana to Hacienda. Every night, there are dozens of people milling about. Some are barbecuing. Some are fixing their cars. Others are simply hanging around. So many kids. I'm always afraid one is going to dart out into my path. Does all this scare me simply because I'm so not used to seeing it anymore?

I live in a gated community.  The very style of the development screams "Leave Me Alone". If (as a visitor) you're lucky enough to gain access through the front gate, once you get to your desired home, there's another locked gate you encounter before you get to the actual front door of the house. If you're planning on moving in, forget about getting to know your neighbors. Ain't gonna happen. There are benefits, though. Example? Halloween. Very few trick-or-treaters, which means more fun size Twix bars left for your author. On the down side, ordering a pizza is much more of a hassle than it needs to be.

Still, the privacy which this house affords is one of the reasons I was attracted to it in the first place. I don't want to be bothered, and I rarely am. Still, as I drive that seemingly dangerous three blocks each night, I also think that what I'm seeing reminds me of what it was like growing up on North 95th Street in Milwaukee 30 years ago, when you knew the names of everyone on your street and an impromptu game of Whiffleball could break out at any moment. 

As I sit and sip my coffee, my dog is chewing on his bone. The TV is off. My gal just told me she arrived safely to work, and I'm so damn glad it's not 1979 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fixed and Fine With It

Hardly a week goes by that you don't see or read stories about individuals or families that have been hit hard by this "recession" we're in. 12 year old Tiffini had to give up her cell phone. Bart? Well, Bart can't take French horn lessons anymore because he has to go work at the mall since his dad was laid off. Hey, we're all feeling the pinch. Especially those on fixed incomes. Like me.

I started thinking about that after watching a report about how the elderly are handling things nowadays. It's always brought up that retirees are living on a fixed income but really, outside of salespeople whose commission can vary wildly from month to month, who isn't? Pumpkin and I work 40 hour weeks. My paycheck doesn't change. Neither does hers. That's a fixed income, right? So where's the profile on me? The advantage to having a fixed income is (unless you're a moron) you know what you can and can't afford. Pumpkin and I have tossed out cruises to the Bahamas and trips to Australia off the vacation possibilities list. Our trips this year look like they'll be to Wisconsin for family visits. My new Wisconsin motto is "Where the accommodations are always free, and there's always coffee a brewin". Not very catchy, but the point is that living with a fixed income should be easier than living with a variable one. Kind of like how having a fixed-rate mortgage gives peace of mind that a variable rate can never hope to provide.

It seems simple to realize what you can and can't afford to do, but even the simplest of concepts seem to escape more people. A red light means stop, a lighted elevator button doesn't need to be pushed a second time, and you never, ever need to buy a boat. Yet, as you read this, someone just ran the light and caused an accident, someone is feverishly pushing that button thinking it quickens the speed of deceleration, and some poor sap is turning to his wife and going "Aw, let's just do it. Live a little!". In the meantime, I'm going out to dinner with some friends on Sunday night, and to me that means we'll have the rest of our weekend meals at home to save money. Fine by me.

That's another advantaged of a fixed income. The ability to plan ahead. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I have a canker sore in the back of my throat, and it's making me cranky. Too much information, I know. Anyway...

Tough to be a white guy these days. As I read endless articles about the new nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor (who's name I've heard pronounced seven different ways now), it's plain to see that a white judge with similar or better qualifications was probably never even considered. Such a decision was thus based on race, which by definition makes it racist. Why does no one say this? All too often now, people are chosen based on what they are, not how they'd do. And that hurts the white guy. We've got to have women on the board of directors. We need to have minorities represented in law enforcement. We need a female voice on the radio station. It never stops and it's just getting worse. And at the end of the day, it's the white male of European background that's taking it up the you-know-what. We're not wanted anymore.

Ask yourself this; in an age where "diversity" is the big buzzword (Thomas Sowell says the word "diversity" is the new "racism"), are things better since we've become more "diverse"? Of course not. Name one professional field that is considered better now than it was even ten years ago, before the madness really started in full force. If your child needed life saving surgery, do you want the best doctor to work on them, or do you want the doctor who was hired because the hospital needed more minority representation? If your house is burning down, do you want the best "hosemen" (sorry), or the 120 pound girl who can't even change a tire? Don't even get me started on the military, please.

In an age where the U.S. has elected a minority as president, we're now more racist and sexist than ever. Those most deserving of the job rarely get it these days. Thus, companies simply aren't as well run as they used to be. We're much softer as a nation as well, at a time that demands more toughness than ever.

Hispanics can be proud of their heritage. So can blacks, women, Asians, Indians...anyone but the white guy. Someone who says "I'm proud to be white" is painted as a redneck hick ready to be fitted for a KKK hood. In a delicious irony, isn't it funny that the people considered most racist (white guys) are really these days the least racist of all?

No, not really.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Happens in Vegas

I worked the morning shift today. 4;30am-Noon. My old hours for 13 years. I've always looked forward to working that shift, but that's starting to fade. The only reason I'm typing is that I'm monumentally bored. I don't take middle of the day naps anymore, and my attempt today was disappointing. It's too hot for me to do anything outside for an extended period. It's also too hot for the dog to be outside for any more than ten minutes at a time, so a trip to the park is out. I don't feel like going to the gym, and since I went on Saturday and Sunday, today should be a day of rest anyway. The selections on television are abysmal. Say what you will about TV, but those who program it more than realize that those who watch between 1pm-4pm must have brains mushier than a cup of Golden Spoon peanut butter chocolate.

The old routine meant a nap from 1:30-3:30, followed by feeding the dog, catching up on news and waiting for the wife to get home. Today I gave up on the nap at 2:15. The dog was fed at 3. There's nothing to watch, and the news is all old to me. Obama's coming. I know this. There's a new Supreme Court nominee (more about that later). I know this. 90s all week. Oh, God, how I know that. I can sense my dog's frustration with my boredom, as my frustration makes me understand his. I'm leading a dog's life this afternoon. Sometimes that's good, but right now it's paralyzing. Pumpkin won't be home for at least an hour.  I consider myself an independent, but have I become so dependent on her company that I'm starting to lose the ability to enjoy my time alone? I had the potential to do almost anything I wanted this afternoon and the choice was to change the channel.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Ride Home

Steve died Tuesday night.

I had a feeling it was coming. My last post talked about the guilt I felt for not calling Steve since February 9th. Yesterday morning I took to Google to search under his name. The purpose was to check the obituaries in the Madison newspaper. Instead, I found that Steve had created a blog to diary the goings-on at his hospice. The entries were pretty regular, every second or third day. The last posting was three weeks ago. Something wasn't right

Not more than 15 minutes after looking at the blog- and the obituaries- Steve's stepmom called to say that he had died on Tuesday night, surrounded by family. The passing was peaceful, the pain finally gone. I learned that during his final days, Steve achieved his two dreams. One was to have an art fair, showcasing his work. That was held at the hospice. The other was to record a cd of original music. Both events were hits, with both the artwork and the cd (25 copies) selling out. Steve finished life with the same passion that I had seen in him when we hung out in Madison. Mission accomplished. Time to catch the bus.

Steve's stepmom told me how much he had appreciated my calls to him, even though those calls stopped three months back. Ironically, the blog entries would allow me to write Steve and comment on what great things he was doing. Even if I couldn't talk with him anymore, I was going to re-establish that line of communication. I feel terrific that he was so active in the time that led up to his death, but there'll be no shaking the guilt I feel for not being there toward the end. Funny how death is the hardest on those who haven't yet died

One more thing: Steve had told me that during the presidential campaign Barack Obama gave him a phone call. Steve was a big supporter and organizer for Obama in Madison. Word of Steve's condition made its way to Obama and the phone call was placed. Steve said Obama asked him how he could work so hard with such a debilitating condition. Steve told him that it was because Obama inspired him. Obama's response: "No, Steve. You inspire me". I'm not a fan of his policies, but that was a pretty cool thing to do. I just wish I had Steve's passion and drive. His reward? A one-way ticket North

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Friend Or Coward?

I last called Steve on February 9th. I knew it had been awhile, but not that long. Three months ago. Steve is someone I hung out with when I was living in Madison back in the early 90's. Steve's been fighting brain cancer for the past couple of years, and it's recently advanced to the stage where he's now in hospice care. Three months ago he was given six months to live. I've stopped calling. What am I afraid of?

The last time we spoke, Steve had gotten himself a bluetooth earpiece, as he was only able to use one arm. The bluetooth freed him up to do things like sketch and eat. It also meant a whole lot of background noise. It was tough enough to understand him before the bluetooth but with it, it became a much more difficult conversation. As I said goodbye, I said what I always said- "I'll give you a call next week". I haven't called since, and it eats away at me every day. I could pick up the phone right now and call, but I don't. Why?

(I've been sitting here staring at the word "why" for three minutes. No answer.)

I knew Steve had been as active at the hospice as a person can be. He'd been able to get around, had the biggest room in the place, and was living in his hometown, which meant constant visits from friends and family. Maybe I took heart in thinking that he's not alone and that I wasn't his only link to the outside world. Or maybe I'm just showing that I can't be a good friend to someone when they need a good friend the most. The easiest thing I could do today would be to call him. It would also be the hardest. 

See? There I go again. A friend of mine is dying of brain cancer and it's all about my problems, not his.
Steve passed away on May 12th. And I never called

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Radio Killed the Radio Star

Imagine that you're on a ship that has taken on water and has begun to sink. That's ok, you think. I'll just get on a lifeboat and I'll be fine. They have lifeboat drills on cruise ships before you sail for just such an occasion. You gather only your most prized possessions and make your way to the lifeboat station. To your horror, you discover upon your arrival that the crew has begun cutting the lifeboats away and setting them adrift. "What the f**k are you doing?", you scream, incredulous about what you're seeing. "Relax", says the crew member. "The lifeboats are weighing us down so we're cutting them loose to lighten the load. We'll sink much slower then". You're now certain to die. It will only take a little longer and there's nothing you can do to escape certain death.

In other words, you're in radio.

600 more Clear Channel employees were fired this week. Since the beginning of the year, CC has fired 11 percent of its workforce. Has it improved performance? No. Increased revenue? No. Made them more respected as a radio leader? No. Made anyone with any sense want to go work for them in the future? Hell no. CC is more concerned with cutting expenses than creating revenue, so once again a lot of good radio people who have suffered through the whims of the company have, like useless lifeboats, been set adrift. Meanwhile, at least locally, upper management that has presided over recent periods of historically low ratings continue to get a free pass.

CCLV rolls out something this week called "Premium Choice". On the surface, it sounds like something that Cox Cable or Dish Network would offer, not a radio group. Listeners don't get to choose a jock that they want to hear. The station (KWNR) that has bathed itself in the motto "Vegas Country" will now be importing jocks from all over the country to fill in weekend time slots with taped shifts. All the while, someone perfectly capable of doing the same thing will be monitoring the board just in case (how could it?) something goes wrong. So far the only person I know of who'll be on KWNR this weekend (besides Country Chuck on Sunday morning, thank God) will be a guy who goes by the name Broadway, sent to us courtesy of that radio hotbed of - Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Man the lifeboats before they're gone, my friends

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Real Rib Tickler

I don't know anyone with the Swine Flu. I don't know anyone who knows anyone that has the Swine Flu. In fact, I don't even know anyone who's sick right now. Sure, I know a few who've been hit hard by allergies, but no one who's bedridden. I just heard there's a Swine Flu pandemic, so that should mean that I should panic. You can't spell "pandemic" without "panic". Okay, that's a reach.

Why am I so unconcerned? Maybe it's because I take above average care of myself. I just ingested a multi-vitamin, 1000mg of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), 360 mg of echinacea, and 80 mg of Ecotrin (the equivalent of taking a baby aspirin). I did it all with two glugs of skim milk. I can't remember the last time I was sick. I've taken two sick days in 21 years of employment. I've survived the previous swine flu, SARS, avian flu, and whatever other health "scares" that have been foisted upon us and have emerged unscathed and unscarred. I even had the gumption to make pork chops last night. On that subject.....

We had an extra chop so Pumpkin has taken it in for lunch today. I would love to be in their break room as she sits down to eat it and someone (a woman) will undoubtedly say, "aren't you afraid of getting swine flu?". It's guaranteed. (FOLLOW UP- Yes, it happened)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Anonymity Breeds Confusion

Strange night on Saturday. It was the day of the Kenny Chesney show at the Hard Rock and Coyote was broadcasting poolside. Nice gig, right? Well, sure, if not for the fact that my old employer happened to be doing the same thing directly across the way. Now if I was girl, this would have meant fleeing in tears and being coaxed back into the venue by co-workers confused as to why I was having a meltdown. But I'm a guy, damn it. I gut these things out.

I had a mix of feelings about the whole experience. I have no problem with not being on a morning show, with all the responsibilities that go along with that job. I don't need everyone looking to me for answers. Still, I want to feel like I'm a valuable part of the operation, something I didn't feel when I heard from a co-worker, "I didn't expect you to be here tonight". I was at a place where I felt like an outsider, and I guess maybe that's normal considering that I'm the new guy on staff. I wasn't important to the whole operation, something that I never felt at the old place. I don't want the responsibility, yet I miss the responsibility. Ah, there's the conundrum. 

I don't miss the old station, but I miss hanging out with those people. My friends. The new batch are merely co-workers. I never once thought about wandering over to their tent. I saw the person who fired me (and still holds down a job in spite of bringing that station to its nadir, ratings-wise) and thought it was best to stay at my post as opposed to holding his head under water until he stopped breathing. I sent a couple of text messages instead, and considered floating an offer out to go grab a beer when our respective duties were done. Instead, I went home and watched "Zack and Miri Make A Porno". It was a good choice. Absurdity is best viewed from my recliner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wistful Thinking

Just getting back from walking the dog. It's the first time in months that I didn't need to wear a jacket at this time of day. It's the type of day where you wish the temperature would just hold right where it is, but the sting of the sun on your face tells you otherwise. Gonna got hot. 95 degrees hot, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. For whatever reason, the conditions of the day reminded me of not having a job. Today's the type of day I most associate with being unemployed. A beautiful morning that leads to a hot afternoon. A day of endless possibilities and a feeling of confidence that masks full-scale panic

If there's any other proof needed about the dangers of nostalgia, it's that I sometimes miss being unemployed. Maybe I'm feeling like that because it's Wednesday, the day where $336 would be deposited into my unemployment account, like clockwork. I miss the freedom of not knowing what I'm going to do that day. Nothing was out of the question. I could watch movies with the dog, gamble a little bit, have a cocktail and watch the world go by, sit on my patio and read, meet Pumpkin for lunch, blog...and do it all again tomorrow. Mind you, all of this was done to keep me from thinking that I might not find another radio gig and be forced to leave town. Still, those weren't bad times.

There's uncertainty in staying employed these days, just as there was being unemployed. It's just not as much fun.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Give Up

I don't laugh easily. My sense of humor is on the dry side, so don't expect a hearty guffaw from a spritz of seltzer to the face, a golf ball into the nads, or a "kick me" sign delicately placed on the back of some poor sap's shirt. That said, I howled with laughter over a new initiative from my former radio employer. Read it here. Ok, if you don't want to read their release, let me boil it down for you. What's the hottest thing that radio has going for it  now? Localism! Yep, my old company is now directing its stations to be more local to better serve the community. This means more local public service announcements and programming. This mean airing of music from local bands. In all, it boils down to going back to what always made radio successful and unique in the first place. 

What's funny (in a most tragic sense) is that the very same company that is pushing the initiative for localism is the one that blazed the trial for voicetracking in shows from other markets. KWNR's new slogan- "Vegas Country". Gee, I wonder if they'll be playing "Vegas Country" sweepers during the night-time show...that's taped in Phoenix. CCLV also possess a machine which allows them to grab voicetracked shows from anywhere in the land and simply plop them into one of the dayparts, a machine they could put into action today, if the order came down.  The very company that was instrumental in killing live and local radio now has this brilliant idea that localism is the way to go. Ain't that a hoot?

In the meantime, CC station managers have gathered down in Texas, and the rumor is that the result of these meetings will be dismissals of on-air talent, many with years of goodwill accumulated in their respective markets, all in the name of cost-cutting. If none of this confuses you, you may have a very bright future in radio.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Death of Me

The social networking site Facebook has taken lately to offering little games like "What State Should You Live In", or "Five Greatest Rock Frontmen". There seems to be a new one every day. Most of it is fun, all of it innocuous. It kills a few minutes during some slow periods at work. I recently noticed this one- "What Is The Most Likely Way That You Will Die?". I passed on finding out. I already have a hunch on what the front-runners may be. The one person I saw had the result of "electrocution". I don't think mine will be nearly as glamorous. My picks are

1) Heart attack


2) Skin Cancer

My family has a history of heart disease, and I have far too many moles for one not to be cancerous. I occasionally think that I'll get snuffed out driving to work. That someone will run a red light, or I'll get rear-ended and pushed into the flow of traffic. Maybe it'll be while I'm eating at a restaurant. I always try to sit near the exit and am constantly scanning who comes in the door. Maybe a plane will drop onto my house. Those three have a remote chance at best of happening, I realize. Maybe a disgruntled listener will smash their way into the station, guns a' blazin'. I don't know. For thousands of people who'll die today, death will truly be the last thing from their mind. 

I've never been one of these "live life to the fullest every day" types of people because that phrase has different meaning to different folks. To some it means scale mountains, jump out of airplanes, travel the world (funny that this version of "LLTTF" is more likely to shorten your life, but I digress). To others it means spend time with family, eat what you want, play with the dog. I'm spending a beautiful Thursday morning writing about death while eating a Fiber One pop tart, and I really don't know at this exact time what I'd rather be doing.

Smoking causes cancer. Fatty foods cause obesity. Living causes dying. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Female Friendly

Heard it again yesterday. In order for (insert station here) to be successful, they have to be more "female friendly". I fought the urge with all of my might to ask the simple question, "what does 'female friendly' mean?" Really, I don't know, but that's been the buzz phrase for the past couple of years for what it takes to make a radio station successful. 

The three women I know the best- Pumpkin, my mom, and my sister- are all drastically different. They all get along, but they don't share common interests. Shannon hates kids and is a fan of the NHL. She doesn't watch "Dancing With The Stars". She watches "Rescue Me". My mom drinks gin every afternoon (for her health). My sister changes by the day...and that's the key here.

Radio's listenership and revenues have taken a dive ever since the goal of "female friendly" radio was first established. It's an indisputable fact that women are harder to figure out than men. Men are simple, women are complicated. So why does radio chase "female friendly" when a woman's mind changes by the hour? It's much easier to make the fellas happy than it is the gals, but that whole section of the audience is being sacrificed to reach the impossible dream- to make radio the equivalent what's on TV between 9a-3p. God help us.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Gigs III

Before I list the top 5, I should say that none of my 10 radio gigs have been bad. I've enjoyed each of them. It's like a pizza. Even then worst pizza I've had (Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee) wasn't all that bad. I learned from each gig and was influenced to a positive degree by each of the show partners I've worked with. Anyway, Top Five time

5) KDWN Traffic Guy 1/5- present

Positives: I'm pretty much left alone. It's not an easy job, so the fact that I don't have to have a meeting with the boss every week is a big positive. It helps to realize that those above have confidence enough in what you're doing to leave you alone. 

Negatives: The uncertainty of the job market, and of radio as a whole. There have been two purges of employees since January, and there's no guarantee that another won't happen, like, today. That's not a slam on the job itself, but it certainly makes it less fun knowing your number could be up because you "only" do two jobs

4) KWNR Mornings with Mark and Brooks (2006)

This was kind of an awkward time and the first time I had ever worked a morning show with three people. It always felt like Brooks was being shoved out the door, which is what eventually happened. I've laughed more with Mark than all my other hosts combined, though, maybe I should swap this with the Mark and Mitch portion of the show. Two is always a better number for morning shows anyway. Once three get in, everyone's fighting to be heard, stress and strain build, and the end product isn't as good as it could be. 

3) KWNR Mornings with Glennboy (June '97- Oct '00)

My first legitimate morning show shot. I was perfectly comfortable being the sidekick, since I still had no idea what it took to make a morning show good. I learned from Glenny that you really needed to work at it, not just show up. Not everything the GB did worked, but when it didn't, I was there to pick up the pieces. Negatives: Glennboy constantly battling with the boss, who was never a fan. That put me in the middle of quite a few spats, and led to Glenn's eventual departure

2) KWNR Mornings with Brooks (and Stunt Runt) 

Six years of success when I really felt like I was at the top of my game. When Brooks became the boss, it almost became easier. There were never personality conflicts between us. Stunt Runt was in a groove and really made some great radio, stuff people will always remember. I really thought we could write our own ticket, but management had other ideas. The ratings never recovered after Brooks was moved out of that show (and from what I hear, it wasn't her choice). I didn't like what happened to Brooks but she works in San Diego now, so my sympathy has been tempered.

1) KAAA/KZZZ, Kingman (1993-'94)

 Maybe nostalgia is getting the better of me, but I have more fond memories of my first real gig, so that tops the list. Everything was new. This was me taking a huge chance, moving halfway across the country to live in a town of 11,000 and make $4.50 an hour. It was "before" everything. Before consolidation, before automation, (mostly) before consultancies. It was before I knew what a horrible business radio could be. It didn't matter that it was market 500. It was radio, baby, and it was cool to be a part of. And we were good. The board ops knew what they were doing. The jocks knew the music. Everyone was loose and everyone was real. Simpler times, and deserving of a whole blog entry some time

It's funny, but I think if you ask any radio guy what their best gig was, they'll never say the one that they're doing right now.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Gigs II

Not that really anyone but me cares about this list, but here are my gigs, from worst to best

(NOTE: I'm just going to keep this a Top Ten list by substituting the Mitch and Mark show for the Mitch and Roy show. Ok, on with it)

10) Mitch, Mark and natalie, KWNR Mornings, (late 2007)

It made no sense for KWNR to bring in a producer for the show, especially one that had no experience producing. Trying to include natalie in the show led to awkward breaks and tense exchanges. Of course, it never helped to think that they had brought in a girl to eventually replace one of the boys- namely, me. No good came out of it for anyone involved, and that includes the KWNR as a whole.

9) KWNR part-time on-air/production/runner/ etc etc (9/95-2/97)

My first job with KWNR was working on air on Saturdays from 7pm-12a and Sundays from, 2p-6p. This was back in the day when all radio was live and local. I had just moved up from Kingman to follow my girlfriend and it was a) nice to be in a big city again, b) incredible to actually be living in Las Vegas, of all places, and c) great to be on the radio in a big city like Las Vegas. Living next door to the station made a difference for me in that I was available at (almost literally) a moment's notice. KWNR was a giant back then, and to be part of that team was special. Plus, in Mark Stevens, Bob Bishop and Stunt Runt, I made lifelong pals. Not bad

8) KGMN, Kingman AZ, morning guy (8/94-8/95)

A job where I was truly out of my league. In fact, as I type, I can't even remember why I was offered the job. KGMN was a family owned station with a very small staff. My job was simply to helm the morning show from 6-10 every day. I had no idea what it took to do a morning show, and if I had any tapes from that era, I'm sure you'd be able to tell. If I discover any old tapes, I'll never tell. I dated a girl who was a meth addict, but that's a whole other entry or two.

7) KDWN Part-Time news reporter/anchor 

After a brief stint as the KDWN Super Commuter, I was offered a job in the news department to take the place of a reporter/ anchor who was leaving. I wasn't crazy about the job that was offered, but these days you have to show your versatility, so I took it. It led to such things as sitting in the jury box as OJ was sentenced, being on scene for a murder suicide on Thanksgiving morning, and being one of the first in the nation to report on the kidnapping of a local boy by a Mexican drug gang, a story that soon after went all the way to "America's Most Wanted". There were some cool moments to the job, but I always knew I wasn't a reporter type. I'll still wear the reporter blazer on occasion when one of them is away, but it's just not me.

6) KWNR Mornings with Mark and Mitch
I'm sure I laughed more than ever during this gig, but there was also almost an equal amount of stress and negativity. Yet, I'd work with the Big Fella again in a heartbeat. I think. Still, I felt more reactive than proactive during this phase, and after 8 years in the morning didn't feel like I should be standing on the sidelines watching. natalie was brought in next and it was the shove that followed the push. 

Ok, Top Five gigs next time. Cantcha just hardly wait???? 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Gigs

My best ideas seem to come to me either on my walks with Mav, or in the shower (alone). Considering how out of control and unpredictable radio has become lately, it got me to think (in the shower) of which of my gigs was the best. All gigs aren't created equal, and I realize that some of those times might be tainted by nostalgia. My list of gigs is as such, with the most recent first

1) Full Time Traffic Reporter, KDWN (1/09- present)
2) Part-Time News Reporter/Anchor, KDWN (6/08-1/09)
3) KWNR mornings with Mark and natalie (9/07-12/07)
4) KWNR mornings with Brooks and Mark (dates fuzzy)
5) KWNR mornings with Brooks (10/00-late '06)
6) KWNR mornings with Glennboy (6/97-10/00)
7) KWNR mornings with Roy West (2/97-6/97)
8) KWNR part-time DJ/production (9/95-2/97)
9) KGMN morning DJ (8/94-8/95)
10) KAAA/KZZZ jock/board op/production/engineer (2/93-8/94)

Ten gigs over four different stations. Gotta think about this one. Rankings to come. Isn't this exciting????????

Note: I forgot about the time that I spent working with only Mark Stevens on KWNR mornings, so that'll be included as well. Ok, that's 11 gigs on four stations over 16 years. Got it

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Riddle Me This

I'm trying to wrap my head around something. A story came out this week that noted the unemployment rates of blacks and hispanics is much higher than whites since the beginning of the economic downturn, thus implying that there's racism involved. So...stay with me here;

Those that are getting let go at a faster rate are companies that have had to downsize or close...because the economy is down... which was started by the mortgage meltdown...which was caused by banks and lending institutions being forced to give home loans to those who didn't qualify, namely....minorities. 

I love a good vicious circle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bonus Babies

The Bonus. It's something we all want at the end of the year, and most of us have the attitude that we deserve one. In radio, the Christmas (sorry, "Holiday") Bonus has been a hit or miss proposition, and more often than not the bonus has equaled $0. This was always met with disappointment at how a big money company couldn't even slide a few bucks down to the hard working employees working down in the company hull. Damn it, we deserved it, even if the company had a lousy year. The bottom line didn't matter. You're supposed to get a bonus, right?

The big flap this week are the bonuses given to AIG, the company at the epicenter of the bailout bonanza. Employees got bonuses? Why did they get bailout money, then? Look, I don't know if those who got bonuses were responsible for the ruin that AIG became, but that's really not the central issue. What's seemingly being glossed over is that these same bonuses were okayed by the same administration that is now trying to tax them. The so-called "stimulus" package contained language that said it was fine for bonuses to be paid to companies who received bailout money. This was the same bill that the Obama administration said was vital to prevent the American economy from completely collapsing (talk about fear-mongering).  Do we really need anymore proof that our lawmakers didn't read the biggest spending package in the country's history before voting to approve it?

I'm not against the bonuses. Those that are screaming bloody murder are just masking their jealousy that those bonuses won't be directly deposited into their Wells Fargo accounts. We always want what we can't have, and are always jealous of those who succeed and (gasp!) profit. I just find it one part funny and three parts sad that those screaming loudest from the highest mountaintop about how wrong it is are the ones the actually created the "problem". Our elected leaders, ladies and gents. 

Me? I'd be happy to get some food trade this year. Can't tax that........yet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rescue Me

Post 155. I had no idea I had so much to write about. I know that a lot of the posts are similar in nature, but that can be said of anything that goes such a distance. My favorite columnists repeat themselves. My favorite shows have similar plot lines the longer they go. Same with this little detour from my everyday duties. It's almost impossible to write coherent, thoughtful expression on 155 different subjects. I'm fairly confident in my ability to discuss maybe three things. Sports, radio, and Wisconsin. This stuff, I know. Most of my thoughts are gathered on my morning walk with Maverick. It's always around 7:45, and it's the time of day when my mind is the clearest. By the time I get back to the house, I have things I need to do before going to work. Then I go to work. Then I work. So, breaking it down, I devote a mere 15 minutes a day to clearheaded thoughts outside of my comfort zone.

Anyway, I was going to write today about

1) How I'm less important to the world because I haven't had children


2) How it's funny how there's a push for increased government regulation of financial institutions while at the same time, the people we always say we trust the least are politicians. That makes me smile

Then I realized that this is about the only time of day where I can choose to avoid a seemingly endless rush of bad news, pomposity, posing, absurdity, arrogance, incompetence, and all around misery. 

Time to go play with the dog 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not Cool At School

In August, my 25 year high school reunion will be held. I'm actually considering attending, even though I lost touch with most of my high school buddies one day after graduation. I'd go because 1) I always take a summer trip home to Wisconsin, 2) The Wisconsin State Fair is going on during that time and 3) the Brewers are playing at home. I realize that with all those other things going on, that I may not actually have time to attend said reunion, but who knows?

Anyway, my class has a website, not only to detail the plans for the the re-union party, but to check out a "then and now" section, updating fellow classmates' status. I've checked out some girls that I fancied (Sue Kreckler really turned out well), and some guys that I hung with (Scott Jensen grew, like, 6 inches). I don't really have any high school memories good or bad. I just attended, went to class, got decent grades, graduated, and went to college. There's a section on the reunion page where alums can write about their favorite high school memories. I'm hard pressed to remember anything at all. 

Fear ruled me then, just as it seems to now. I didn't join any clubs. I played JV baseball but rode the bench. I never went to any dances. I never asked any girl out on a date. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. It's said that fear is a driving motivator, but in my case, fear drove me to do nothing, to take absolutely no chances. 25 years later, I regret that I approached high school this way, but it's also the way that I seemed to have embraced life in general. Every job or challenge I've been given, I've approached it with an "I don't think I can do this" attitude. More often than not I've been wrong, but that hasn't stopped me from continuing to think that way. I've been both a success professionally, as well as in my married life, yet fear remains my dominant emotion.

If I go to my reunion, I'm sure I'll hear the requisite, "you haven't changed a bit". They'll have no idea how right they are



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Round, Please

A rare evening post finds my in a decent mood. There's baseball on TV, the temperatures outside are pleasant, I just got back from a walk. Somehow a fly got in. I can hear it, but I'm having a tough time locating it to go in for the kill. Enjoy taunting me, fly, for it will be your last event.

It's amazing how, in two weeks time, America went from going to hell in a handbasket to on the turnaround. The Fed Chairman this week said he expected the "recession" to be over by the end of the year. He said things would start to get better. I have no idea what that means. You could ask ten people how things could get better, and probably get seven different answers (at least two would complain about their wife's constant nagging). I don't know what "better" would mean to me. I'm in a job (radio) that's never been known for job security, not even in the best of times. My favorite thing to do- twice each month- is turning my time sheet over. I'll be getting paid again.

The stock market has been up five out of six days, the longest such run in months. With it comes renewed optimism. This just goes to show how, if Americans lack anything, it's the ability to see beyond the past 30 days. We have a collected nearsightedness. The stock market is down in total points by 50 percent in the last year, but it's up this week. Whee! So what if most folks don't actually invest outside of the ever- rarer employer 401k? If the market is up, things must be getting better, right? Eh. Since 9/11/01, we've suffered exactly zero attacks on American soil, so I guess it's time to leave the doors unlocked, right? Certainly the Obama regime so far has given every indication that national security is a secondary (or less) concern when compared to, you know, building trenches or creating solar powered baby strollers.

The Salvation Army saw a ten percent increase in donations is spite of a "recession ravaged" economy. I wonder how that's going to be spun. Maybe it will be reported simply as the good news that it is. That would be a nice change. Change I can believe in.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Starting To Sweat

I hate it when I'm in a bad mood on a Sunday. A beautiful Sunday, no less. I've been in this mood all day. I have a couple of reasons to be a little bit sideways, but none so big as to stick a cumulo-nimbus cloud over my head. Pumpkin is over in Boulder City, celebrating her mom's 60th birthday. She most graciously told me to stay home, as the time spent in B.C. would consist of, 1) Church, and 2) knitting. So, it's just me and the dog, a quiet neighborhood, the heat off, and the windows open. Things should be good but they're not.

Maybe it stems from a letter I got last night from my homeowners' association. We had received a note a month or so ago that our outdoor drip system was leaking through our backyard wall, and an unsightly stain about the size of a football can be seen on the outer half. We shut off the water supply, but never cleaned the stain. The letter last night informed me that I now have to attend a meeting before the board to address the situation. The stain itself will be easy to clean, but I guess I mistakenly thought my $132 in monthly dues might go toward, you know, actual cleanup of my neighborhood. How foolish of me. I'll just get a wire brush and some CLR and get to scrubbing. It's good exercise, actually, and it's something I can use as an excuse not to go the gym.

My problem is that I just don't understand the hassle. Why do I have to attend a meeting? I've owned this home for six years now, and I'd like to think I'm a prime example of an exemplary homeowner. Yet, I'll be the one in the klieg lights. Why not just a phone call from them? I realize that the board of my HOA is probably made up of retirees or people who either get ignored in their home or in their workplace. This is where they take out their frustration. I'm just pissed about it.

Pissed because I see and read everyday stories of people who plea and people who skate- people who've done much more serious things than leave a limestone stain. Lives are ruined and the the person responsible gets house arrest. Bribes are accepted, and the person receiving the money gets sentenced to a facility where they (if they wish) can get a free trade school education (paid for by me). Ironic that on the day you're supposed to show your faith, mine is nowhere to be found.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You

Not a good time to be in the broadcast business. Like waves that erode coastline, people keep being swept away. More this week. On-air, sales, promotions. No departments are immune. Yet, I'm still standing. In fact, as more people are cut loose, my opportunities are expanding. And it's not like I'm taking someone's job. I'm merely filling an already existing vacancy. People haven't lost their jobs based on any decisions that I have made.

If I'm still in the broadcasting business two years from now, it will be interesting to see its reaction when the economy turns around. What exactly will they be selling? Personalities sell radio, not music, and now that's true more than ever. Lots of talent has been let go. More people are doing different jobs and that's hurting the overall quality and the ability to service the listeners. This has been going on for awhile, and I don't think it's just a coincidence that radio revenues have fallen with the advent of voice-tracking and rent-a-jock services. It's like going to any other place with customer service. When the quality of the service starts to drop, you'll go elsewhere. We're seeing that in radio.

What do you sell when you have nothing left to sell? That'll be interesting to see, if I'm still around to see it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fan-Tastic (or Love Story, One Period At A Time)

Recently, Pumpkin became a rabid fan of the Boston Bruins of the NHL. She's always been interested in hockey, but in more of a casual sense. Then we watched the events of NHL All-Star weekend and she was taken by the personalities of a couple of the Bruins' guys, and she decided she would be a fan of the Bruins, then and there. She had no idea at the time that they had the best record in the league. This wasn't the case of a newcomer becoming a front-runner. Just like that-BOOM!- she was a big time fan.

She has the schedule up on the refrigerator. She listens to the games online when she gets home from work. She goes to the Bruins' website for the latest news and notes and- showing that at heart she's still a gal-  she ordered a shirt with her favorite player's name on the back. Yep. She's all in.

Why is this innocent new fascination so important to our relationship? If there's one thing that very few women understand about men, it's their passion for sports, and an undying loyalty to their favorite teams. Women just don't get why we're so happy when our teams win, and so crushed when they don't. "It's only a game". How many fights have started because some poor, uninformed woman who simply can't identify with what a sports fan goes through throws out that question? Pumpkin now knows what I go through, and I couldn't be happier. Baseball season is a couple of weeks away. Every night from April through September my guts will be tied up in knots. Pumpkin said something yesterday after watching the Bruins lose to the Rangers- "I don't know how you do it". It sounds to me like she's starting to understand the madness, instead of simply tolerating it.

Buy another shirt. Send away for a commemorative mug. Listen online instead of joining me at the dinner table. Pumpkin finally understanding what it means to be a sports fan (both good and bad) brings us more closely together than any flowers, chocolate, or trip to Hawaii could ever hope to achieve

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Greatful vs. Grateful

I'll leave for work in an hour. I never dread going. I like the gig, and I think the gig like me. There is one thing that's starting to wear on me, though. It's the programming. It's no fun.

I'm not saying that balloon animals have to come out of the speakers, but my station just isn't very much fun to listen to. There aren't very many lighthearted moments between 10a-6. First, Dr. Laura gets listeners who she's known all of the length of a phone call to change their lives. Then Jerry Doyle complains about Obama for three hours. Then Michael Savage complains about Obama (and pretty much everything else) for three more hours. At least Savage can talk topics other than politics. By the time I'm walking out at 6, I'm convinced there are going to be riots in the streets. I'm thinking the next logical move is to drive down Tropicana to the Gun Store and load up. I consider switching all my assets to gold, and turning my house into a bunker to protect me and Pumpkin from the inevitable war to come.

What's funny is that even though I agree with these guys ideologically (and with Dr. Laura's caustic approach), listening to this 8 hours a day can easily break one down. It hasn't done so with me, yet. Then again , I've only been in the traffic chair for two months. I'm grateful for what I have, but if all the predictions and postulates of the hosts come true, I (we) won't have anything much longer. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stuck In The Middle

I don't think I'm going to make any more investments. No, it's not because the market is down, not because of the relentless pessimism about the economy that I hear like a drumbeat day after day. I just don't think I want to be wealthy anymore. I started investing so I'd have a nice pile of dough to support me as I got on through life. It was fun for awhile, but I think I'll stop now. 

See, if I achieve "wealth", then I'm going to have to give up most of what I earned. My taxes will be much higher, that's a certainty. In fact, the climate sure seems to be that "the wealthy" are to blame for what's going on with the economy right now. The wealthy and those who create wealth are constantly taken to the preverbal waterboard, while those that are poor and needy and always sympathized with. Those same poor and needy now have more ways to exploit the system than ever before, due mostly to contributions from the wealthy. Isn't that something?

An honest day's pay for an honest days work? Not anymore. If an employer doesn't offer a health plan or life insurance, they're seen as unsympathetic. I'm going to go out on a limb and say roughly zero percent of workers know what it costs to run a company, and all the factors that go into said cost. I don't know either, but I can only guess that it's incredibly expensive. I've never understood why it's felt that the workplace has to insure you. You work for them, and you get a check. With that check, you can set up an insurance plan of your own that's customized to your liking. How hard is this? What's scary is that those in the White House have never run a business either, and their actions and the stock market's reaction to those actions bode poorly.

I got away from my original point. If I become wealthy, by the time I finish with all the hands that are being held out for their slice of the pie, it will have become an effort that's hardly worth it. Being middle class or lower is where it's at these days. Failure is rewarded, while success is funding the failed. What's funny is the hope that with that help, the needy will turn it around and become successful. Maybe even (gasp!) wealthy. I guess that would be their punishment 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Gig's A Gig

As I read almost on a daily basis of layoffs, format changes, and the general disarray that has become the radio business I sometimes think that I got into the business 25 years too late. Those who were in the business back then are fond to tell stories of those times, always coming back to the theme that things were so much better "back then". I don't not believe them. They were there, and I was not. Still, it got me to think about other lines of work and how they would respond if asked if things are better now or were better back then..

I'm sure those working in the health care industry would say things used to be better. Sure, technology has improved, but has patient care? As the population ages, beaurocracy grows. It used to be that if you were sick, you got in to see a doctor. Sick these days? By the time you get an appointment, whatever was wrong has either left you or killed you. Score one for "Back Then"

Education? My parents taught a combined 70 years, and even though they jumped at early retirement, they still look back fondly on the students they taught and have nothing but sympathy for those in what passes today for a public school system. If you want a room full of kids to not listen to you, start a family. Don't teach. "Back Then-2, Today-0"

Law Enforcement? A no brainer. I'm sure the crusty old cops would go on about how they were more respected "back then" and could get away with more stuff when it came to, you know, arresting a punk. Nowadays, everything's on some sort of camera, so if you twist a perp's arm you're staring down the barrel of a lawsuit. 3-0

I'm sure that if we went back to 1979 and asked those that worked the same gig in 1949 if things were better now or then, they'd probably say "then". Nostalgia always has a pretty strong hold on us. I look back kindly on my three years in Kingman, failing to remember how excited I was when the day came for me to move to Las Vegas. I'll sometimes remember nice things about an ex, selectively ignoring why she became an ex in the first place. Does all this mean that in 2039, I'll be looking back at 2009 as a wonderful time in my life? Hell, I can do that this morning. Still, if time is any indication, 30 years from now, I'll be looking back through rose-colored glasses on a time of continuing undiagnosed pain and construction defect lawsuits, cracked stucco and crowned teeth. Ah, those were the days.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Quarter To Three

I went sleepless this morning between 1:30 and 3. I awoke to the sound of Maverick having what could best be described as the dry heaves (as we found out later, it wasn't all dry, but that's another entry). We had taken him to the vet a couple of weeks ago to get it checked out and he was pronounced healthy, so I'm not too concerned about it. Remember- I'm Sully now. Nothing panicks me. Still, as both Mav and I laid back down, the multiplex in my head was just firing up. I believe the ability to think of multiple things at the same time helps me in my job, but hurts me elsewhere. I don't know what other people are like, but when I started to flash on different memories, I could only think, "uh oh". Further sleep would be difficult to achieve.

I start thinking about my old job, and how it all went down leading to 12/03/07. I still get angry, and always will. Some call it bitterness, but I say if you're not angry about getting let go, you probably knew you had it coming. Then I move to songs. I have Rush in my car's cd player, so a few of those songs are in my head. Not whole songs, either. Just the same lines, over and over. I start to think about my health, Pumpkin's health, Maverick, my parents, what to do if a parent dies, how I need to get my own house in order. Then it's back to music. It's almost like there's a feature showing of my own insecurities, bordered by songs I can't get out of my head.

I look at the clock. This never helps. I only try harder to expel things from my mind, only to let more in. Not good.

Suddenly I feel like someone is sitting on my chest. How does someone describe having a heart attack? "It felt like someone was sitting on my chest". Brief panic only makes it worse, and I don't want to wake up Pumpkin. Back to the music (still Rush. Same song. Same line). I need to listen to classical on the way in to work today. It's relaxing and doesn't stay in my head. I decide to get up and surf the net for a bit but quickly stop, realizing that surfing and reading will only put more things in my head. Watching TV might wake up Pumpkin, so that's out. So I sit in my recliner, in the dark. This seems to work. It's cool in the house. 72. It's 2:45. I've been at this an hour and 15 minutes, but sitting in solitude is helping.

I decide to go back to bed, which is met by more of the dog's (not so) dry heaves. Any movement I make in bed seems to wake Pumpkin up and I apologize to her. She's not angry at me. She never gets angry at me. This seems to calm me down. The dog seems happier that I'm back where I'm supposed to be, and he calms down. The music stops in my head. I have to call a law firm about a construction defect lawsuit against the builder of our community. They have more questions. Not worried. National Pancake Day is today.

Off goes the alarm. It's now 6am. That was fast.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Good Mornings and Goodbyes

Sunday's are always more introspective for me, especially when the skies are cloudy and Pumpkin is off at her parents' house. Just me and the dog. As I was walking Maverick around and had yet another "good morning" greeting returned with stone silence, I got to thinking about something Pumpkin had said.

She really wants to move away from Vegas. I think that's her number one wish. Ok, that and no more car payments. She's always looking at where she wants to go. San Diego, Wisconsin, Boston (yeah, that's a new one). It's almost to the "anywhere but Vegas" stage with here. Her main reason for wanting to leave is that people just aren't nice here. That's it. She wants to move to a place where people are nicer. 

As I was blown off by my fellow Central Park Estate-ian this morning, I got to thinking- I bet this woman isn't from here. In fact, the last answer you'd ever expect to get when asking a Las Vegas resident about where they're from is, "I've lived here all my life". The few I do know that are natives are pretty nice people. Decent, sociable.  Nice. The people that I seem to have a problem with, the people that act like jerks, the people that drive like maniacs- all seem to have moved here from somewhere else. Therefore, it stands to reason that moving away will not solve Pumpkin's quest of finding people who are nicer. For all we know, people moved to Vegas because wherever they lived prior, the people weren't nice. I've never heard of a case where someone moved from one city to another because people in the old city were just too darn nice. Thus, moving away to find someplace "nicer" is a pointless pursuit.

Good thing this is introspective. Telling this line of logic to Pumpkin might lead to a quiet Sunday of a much more uncomfortable sort.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Live It Up

I'm sure I'll watch the Oscars on Sunday, even though I haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominees, and the show is usually perversely bloated. Watching the Oscars is just something you do. I don't watch the 23 other times that Hollywood salutes itself, but I'll be in my insanely comfortable recliner come show time. And they damn well better live it up.

I can't explain how tired I am of hearing how things need to be toned down because of "these tough economic times".  "Confessions of a Shopoholic" got horrible reviews, not because it wasn't funny, but because it was deemed so cruel to release a movie about rampant consumerism....everybody now...."in these tough economic times". Christ on a Harley. This is precisely why Hollywood should just say "shove it". Movie ticket sales are up. People still love going. If anything, Hollywood should be more boastful about itself this year because it's been a celluloid shoulder to lean on "in these tough economic times". I want to see Rolls Royces. I want helicopter drops. I want Jack Nicholson to sit on a throne of real gold. I want to see Scarlett Johansson sitting in a spa filled with caviar. And I want to see every damn celebrity lighting incredibly expensive stogies with fresh hundred dollar bills. Every damn one of them. They don't even have to smoke them.

Sure, there'll be some guy watching who's heating his beans up on a hot-plate muttering, "must be nice". You're damn right it's nice. The people at the Oscar party busted a rump and a hump to get where they are. Live it up to the extreme. If they can do it, I- we- can do it. Hell, I may even get extra cheese on my pizza pie. Moral- don't ever be ashamed to flaunt what you've got. I'm guessing you've worked too hard to hide it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Emotions In Motion

My parents were in town over the last week, one of their 3-4 yearly visits. The economy isn't slowing them down. In fact, they're taking full advantage of all the retail discounts that recessions tend to offer. 

I had an interesting conversation with my mom. She's a little annoyed with my sister which, if you know our family history, is nothing new. My sister's father in- law was recently diagnosed with some form of cancer, and pretty much given no more than a year to live. It's not a good situation. My mom said that the last time she talked to my sister (Sue) about it, Sue was sobbing. My mom found this an interesting reaction, since Sue never cried about her own mother's cancer. At least to my mom, she never seemed all that upset- more businesslike than anything else. I told my mom that maybe Sue's reaction comes from the fact that her father in- law will die from cancer. That's a certainty. My mom's was caught early enough to be treated and defeated. Maybe my sister would've been more emotional had she been faced with the reality that my mom would die.

It's funny what triggers emotions. My dad had quadruple bypass surgery around the same time my dog was having an operation to repair a torn ligament. I was much more worried about my dog than my dad. Maybe it's because bypass surgery has become as routine as brushing your teeth. I can't really explain it. My dad could've died on the operating table, but that really never occurred to me. I was much more emotional when Maverick's vet called to say the surgery went well.

I guess Sue and I are just more comfortable showing emotion from a distance. We'll cover it up for those we're closest to, yet cry like babies at "Marley and Me". Is it weird to be more emotional over things we can control than over things we can't? Or- scarier thought- is it normal?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God, I'm Boring

The USA has 93 percent employment. Nevada has 91 percent employment. That sounds better than 7 and 9 percent unemployment, respectively. Anyway, compare that to what we see and what we read. It seems like 100 percent of the stories are about those 7 or 9 percent. Incredibly unbalanced. Still, I find myself drawn to those stories because I want to find out why these people are in the situation that they're in. I consider myself a "normal" guy, so I would think that these hard luck stories would be something I'd identify with. After reading my fair share, the only conclusion that I can come to is that I'm incredibly dull. The evidence?

I own just one small house. Ok, the bank owns it, but you know what I mean. I own no other land or property.

I've only been married once. Still am.

No kids. No kids out of wedlock. Just a dog.

I've driven the same car for 10 years, and don't have any plans to trade it in. I'm at the age (43) where I'm supposed to be shopping for my "midlife crisis ride", but I don't feel that type of pull.

I don't own a boat, personal water craft (is that supposed to be one word?), ATV, motorcycle, etc. In other words, I don't have any "toys". I do have a really nice bowling ball, though.

I don't have a workshop in my garage

The last exotic vacation I took was to Wisconsin- to see my parents.

I'm so boring, I can't even think of more things to add to the list.

I can't fault people for wanting stuff, but I've never had a need for too many things. I still think it's it's great that I have a washer/dryer unit inside the house! As I sit and type, it's a quiet morning, laundry is drying, Pumpkin is just getting up, Maverick is laying around somewhere, and the biggest thing we have on our schedule today is a trip to the grocery store. It's good to be dull, I guess- certainly better than what's considered "normal" nowadays.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Facebook and Friendships

I have a page on Facebook. It's a fun little site for me. I have 66 friends. I probably stay in semi-frequent touch with five of them. I've seen some people with over five hundred friends, which is both fraudulent and ridiculous. Nobody has that many friends, at least according to my definition of what a friend is. I can see how people get hooked on pages like this, but for me, it's merely a welcome diversion from mapping out where the accidents are. Plus, I've re-connected with a couple of people who I've genuinely missed, so I guess I'm glad I'm a Facebook guy. 

There's a list that's making the rounds on Facebook entitled, "25 Random Things". I guess 30 was determined to be too many. Anyway, you get an invite from one of your "friends" to write 25 things about yourself. I've been asked four times now. Don't expect to see it. I've read some lists and there's some really personal stuff on there. Others just use it as a joke, and I think that's how it should be. I've gotten personal in this blog, but I consider this more private than a Facebook listing. On days I'm really down, it's been a nice outlet to release my frustrations. It was a perfect way to vent after getting fired. Still, I don't want everyone in Facebookland to know every little thing about me. This may sound arrogant, but I don't think the Facebook community deserves to know 25 things about me. You learn more by listening than by talking, and with Facebook, you learn more by reading than by writing.

I really think I have Adult A.D.D. There, you got a freebie.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Trip, Interrupted

So the big story yesterday was Well Fargo bank booking a big trip to Vegas to reward their biggest sellers of 2008. Rooms were supposedly booked at the Wynn and Encore for the stay, something that WF does on a yearly basis, and by all accounts it's a pretty swanky affair. Thing is, WF got 25 billion dollars in so-called "bailout money", so cries were quickly heard about how wrong it was to take such a trip, even though WF was one of the few banks that wasn't teetering on the banks (so to speak) of closure. I'm sure those people who were supposed to take the trip had something to do with that success. Long story short, the trip was canceled.

We're now into a frame of mind where no one can do anything even considered remotely lavish without being made to think that it's wrong, all because times are so tough. True, 92 percent of people are working, but that's not good enough. Forget for a minute that it's ALWAYS been this way. Some people have more, some people have less. Taking an expensive trip? How dare you! Buying a Hummer? Thoughtless bastard! 

What was lost in the WF brouhaha were the positives that would have come from the trip: 1) Wells Fargo must be doing well or they wouldn't have scheduled a trip. This may have created confidence, both in the baking and consumer sector, something that's been missing for a while. 2) It's would be a boon for Vegas, which has seen visitation rates plummet faster that a U.S. Airways jet with birds in the engines. People were coming to spend money. 3) Whatever airline being used would have benefitted greatly from the sale of first-class seats. Again, helping out the bottom line. Well, shame on them for that. And here's the truth, kids:

Spending money is good. very good. It benefits you, it benefits them, it benefits all. 

Unfortunately, what we have these days is a two-fold problem; people are scared to spend, either because they're constantly told how bad things are, or they're ashamed to buy a big ticket item because they'll be made to feel badly while others are suffering. The economy can't bounce back unless people invest in the businesses that make the economy go. WF should have been hailed instead of assailed. Maybe next time, I'll put a "thank you" note in my deposit envelope.