Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One Man's Trash

Trash pickup days around here are Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can tell a lot about a house dweller by what they leave at the curb. I'll never understand why some people buy see- through bags. I don't want people to see what I've thrown out, even if there's nothing incriminating inside. I may not want it or need it anymore, but I don't want anyone to see it, either.

Several houses around my 'hood either threw big parties over the weekend, or they have major drinking problems. Some families seem to exist only on a steady diet of Pizza Hut and Hungry Man. A few busted open some cool new gizmos or appliances. Exciting for them, though I'll never understand in this day and age why you'd leave a huge box out on the sidewalk announcing you're the proud owner of a new Sony 55 inch 1080 LCD HDTV. I wonder how many home invasions are a result of a garbage man telling his friend, "hey man, I know a house that just got a Wii.." or something like that. More than a few, I think.

I always walk the dog thinking it'll clear my head, but I always arrive home with more questions than clearing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Two Walks, 24 Hours, and 13 Different Moods

Sunday, 7:30am...

Sometimes little things can just ruin my whole day. I love Sunday mornings. Maverick and I always go for a walk around 7am, rarely seeing anyone along the way. We'll hear the occasional dog bark in the distance, but the most excitement is when Mav finds the exact right bush on which to pee. This only happens about 20 times every walk. Anyway, this morning is different in that we encounter two people: a  young Asian woman on a power walk and a yuppie-ish lady who's not enjoying the walk to the mailbox through the stiff northerly winds.

Maverick is a very friendly dog, but because he's a rottweiler, people mistake his enthusiasm for a budding attack. I don't blame them thinking this. Still, if he were like that, I certainly wouldn't take him for walks around the neighborhood.  I encounter the Asian gal first. I give a nice "good morning". I get nothing back but a small crap-eating grin. No verbal greeting is offered back. maybe she didn't speak English., but "hello" shouldn't be that hard to understand. I'll take a nod of acknowledgement over a stupid grin. My mood starts to turn blue, just like that

Monday, 7:45 am

Got interrupted and couldn't finish yesterday's post. 24 hours later, it's impossible to re-capture exactly what I was feeling at the time. Just got back from another walk. No one out. Strange because it's Monday. Yesterday felt more like a workday than today does, yet there are no signs of life. Somehow, I'm in a better mood because I didn't see anyone. Who's problem is that? Mine, because I'd rather be alone, or theirs because they've seemingly made me this way?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seashells and Balloons

As the Obama administration gets going, it seems like everyone's major concern is the economy. What people seem to be forgetting is that if you've got a regular job- 93 percent of Americans do- a recession can be a wonderful place. Examples:

The waits at chain restaurants like Chili's, Friday's and Appleby's  used to be 30 minutes. Now that wait is down to 15 (on a weeknight, anyway).

Fewer people working mean fewer cars on the road, translating to less rush hour traffic and an easier commute. 

Stores closing mean more "going out of business" sales, which means you can pick up incredible deals.

People are turning to E-Bay and Craig's List to sell items needed to afford basic necessities. Again, a huge money saving opportunity over buying retail.

Stocks are incredibly cheap. Buy now, benefit later.

Those are just a few examples from a brain that's only been awake for less than an hour. I'm sure you can suggest more. Just trying to stay positive here.

Oh, and just the fact that the economy is far and away the number one concern is a credit to how well the Bush administration did in protecting the country from another terrorist attack. I really don't think any of us understand how difficult that must have been.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hail To The Losers

If you're in the broadcast business it should come as no surprise that my old company did their mass firings yesterday. Roughly 1850 employees in all. Read how some of it went down here. It was the worst kept secret in the industry- the firings would happen on Inauguration Day to keep the news off the front pages and closer to the comics, where it truly belongs. Truthfully, a layoff of "only" 1,850 doesn't sound like a lot these days. Still for the people who got their walking papers it was a pretty crappy day. I spent of lot of yesterday texting and talking to those that lived and those who died. It's confusing, but I think that those who are still employed may have it worse than those who were released.

See, it's going to happen again. Maybe next week, next month, next Christmas. It's going to happen again. Here's why: the company in question has simply made one ill-planned move after another. One bad move begets another bad move and so on. Much of the KWNR promotions staff was gutted yesterday. KWNR's ratings have been at an all-time low. Would the ratings be at such a low if John Marks hadn't quit because he could no longer handle drinking the brew of the witch? Or if Brooks O' Brian hadn't been jettisoned? Or Stunt Runt relegated to weekends? Or yours truly fired for being "too newsy"? I'm guessing not. Higher ratings would've meant more revenue, and that would've meant more people would be going to work today. The colossal mismanagement by the biggest radio ownership group in the land is directly responsible for yesterdays firings of 9 percent of the company's workforce. I'm sure it never occurred to them that firing good people to save money will only do that- save money. It won't increase revenue, and that will lead to more firings down the road. Don't call them layoffs. Layoffs imply there's a chance to come back. Not so here, kids.

So for those "on the beach", enjoy your nine month severance, try and clear your head and remember- good things can happen for bad reasons. My thoughts today aren't with you, but for those in the next line of fire. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Hope I'm Wrong

Inauguration Day is today. I don't think I'll be watching. Sure, maybe a little here and there, but it's like the political equivalent of a parade, so my interest is mild. Even if the candidate I voted for had won, I'd feel the same way, so it's not sour grapes. It just doesn't mean much to me. I'd rather watch "The Price Is Right"

People who say that this inauguration is historic are correct only in the every presidential inauguration is historic. To single Obama's as historic means that the designation is based on his (mixed) race, which would then be racist and wrong. A new president is being sworn in, and for that reason it is an historic day. But that's all.

I hope that I'm wrong here, but I feel like there a lot of people who are really going to be let down. Those who assume simply because Obama is in the White House that everything is going to be magically better are in for a hard landing, something even Sully couldn't pull off. Unfortunately, there's an ever increasing group of people who think that it's up to the government to make their lives better. Their hope is that an Obama administration will do just that. Government can help by allowing an environment that is favorable to business development, and job creation. They just can't commission B-29s to do money drops over areas hardest hit be the recent downturn in the economy. Money doesn't make you smarter. Those depending on government to help them out of the hole are going to have a longer wait than G&R fans did for "Chinese Democracy" (and that was hardly worth the wait).

That said, I like that people are optimistic about the future of the country, and I truly want Obama to succeed. That's selfish, of course. If he succeeds, I succeed. Still, optimism is something badly needed right now. Bad news stories piled upon bad news stories only leads to pessimism, not productivity. Perhaps the optimistic frame of mind that I'm seeing and reading about will help turn things around a little, and that's a good thing. Or, people will just be in a better mood while they wait for their government handout.

In the meantime, hats off to those who have already profited off the new administrations. In last Sunday's paper, there were ads for "commemorative" Obama plates, glasses, stamps, books, magazines, mugs, flags, etc. Today's Review-Journal is also a so-called "collector's edition". It kind of reminds me of the people who were selling t-shirts as the Berlin Wall came down. Making history is great, especially when we can cash in from it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oscar Worthy

Sorry for the lapse. I've got a couple of things that are taking up the majority of my time, making postings harder and harder to accomplish. In the interim, enjoy the finest performance of Ben Affleck's career to date. Viewer discretion is advised

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sudden Death

I got a call last night from my old friend Steve's stepmom. I was roommates with Steve's twin brother when I lived in Madison in the early 90's. I wouldn't say I was buddy-buddy with Steve. When we hung out, it was always with a small group, usually not just the two of us. Steve lived in Las Vegas for awhile in the late 90's and we would get together from time to time to watch Packer games. Like I do with most of my friends, I lost touch with Steve after awhile. I move somewhere, or they move somewhere, and before I know it I haven't talked to the old friend in years.

Steve paid me a visit a last year. Ok, he didn't come to Vegas just to see me. His dad and stepmom live in Henderson. We got together for lunch down at the Fiesta and had a good talk. Steve had brian cancer, but he was optimistic at the lunch that it was under control. He looked good, not much different than what I remembered. Steve was 130 pounds soaking wet, so weight loss that's normally associated with cancer wasn't as apparent as it would've been on one of heavier proportions. Steve talked about the cancer, how he lived with it and dealt with it. We talked politics and policies. On this, we'd forever disagree, but both of us always respected the others' opinion. That's they way it should be. If someone thinks exactly like I do, it's impossible to learn anything. We talked about the Packers, the fate of Brett Favre and our mutual hatred for Al Harris. I picked up the check. Steve didn't eat much. Cancer patients are no threat to the buffet.

Steve's stepmom told me last night that he's going into hospice care tomorrow. His tumor has doubled in size and there's not much more that can be done. He has 30 to 60 days to live. When someone goes into hospice, that's usually the final stop on the ride, a ride all too short for my friend. I have his number and I'm going to call him today. I'll congratulate him on Barack Obama's victory, yet in the back of my mind I'll be sad knowing that Steve won't be a part of the Obama years. I'll talk Packers with him. I don't know what else. Truthfully, with brain cancer, I won't know if Steve will know who I am. I don't know the damage that's been done. I have to call, though. God, what do I say at the end of the call? How do you say goodbye when it's really goodbye? 

The 2nd half of the Giants-Eagles game just started. Who cares?


Friday, January 9, 2009

You Gotta Eat

Being  in traffic full time now means not having to read every story in the paper to see what's going on. I don't feel obliged to watch every newscast or dig deeper into a local story. If a story interests me, I'll read it. If not, I'll pass. I'm somewhere between being blissfully ignorant and overly well-informed.

One of the stories of interest to me is the new president's economic stimulus package, and how this stimulus package is going to "create" jobs. I don't understand how a government package is going to turn millions into wage earners. I don't see how it can be done. If it's so easy to do, why isn't it done on a regular basis? Jobs aren't created through government action. If anything these days, it's harder for the so-called "small" businessman to make it because of the goverment's policies. Look for taxes on these "small" businesses to go up, even though these are the last people who should be carrying more of a burden.

The problem with the economy is this. We continue to hear how dire things are. The news is bad every day. Things are bleak, times are tough. We need to save now more than ever. People heed these warnings and save. Except in bad times the word "save" is turned into "not spending". People aren't going to spend if they continue to think that times will be bad. Spending is needed to stimulate the economy, not another government package. Yet, why would people spend if they keep think they're going to be the next one's looking down the barrel of a gun? Just five days ago, I believed that I was going to be a victim of layoffs. That didn't happen, and I even got a job more to my liking. All last weekend, my thoughts were how I could make my existing savings go farther, not when we were going to paint the house or get a new dishwasher. The last thing I thought about was spending. Reading radio websites and hearing what's going on with the company that my friends work for has me in the mindset that I've only dodged the bullet temporarily. I'm circling the wagons a little more than usual, not looking to spend.

If ten people say "you look awful today" and one person says "you look great", you're going to believe you look awful- even if the truth really is you pretty much look like you do all the time. A non-stop flow of negative news can only lead to more negative results.

I drive home around 6:15 every night. My travels take me along a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that includes a Buffalo Wild Wings, Chilis, iHOP, and an Outback Steakhouse. Every night this week, all those parking lots have been filled. I've seen people waiting outside for a table. Every night this week! After a full day of hearing about bad economic news, that's the good news I take (figuratively) home. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Great Escape

One of my favorite movies is "Traffic". One of the scenes shows Benecio Del Toro's character, Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez, and his undercover partner digging their own graves after being taken by some drug thugs, When they're done digging their graves, they stand up, and the two thugs in turn stand behind them. The killers draw their weapons and put them at the back of cops' heads. A shot fires. Del Toro's partner falls dead, into a grave of his own making. Del Toro's character is still alive. He has won the drug runners' trust. He survives.

Today, I felt like Javier. While others around me were terminated, I was retained, even given a job more to my liking. Half of the staff was either let go, or had their hours reduced. I was officially given full time status. It was (if there is such a thing) a minor miracle. I went to work today thinking that this was my last day. My last day in radio. The beginning of the end of my stay in Las Vegas. Instead, it may be the beginning of something that I'd like to do for quite some time. Or at least until the next round of budget cuts.

The pipes also thawed, and are working fine. I stood in the shower for 15 minutes, just thinking about the events of the day. Hot water feels amazing after you've been on ice


You would think that if you live in a place that gets to 115 degrees in the summer, that your pipes couldn't freeze in the winter. Not in Vegas, baby. I'm dealing with some frozen pipes this morning. I'm getting a little dribble of water out from time to time, so I don't think it's going to be disastrous, but it's still an added burden that I just don't need. 

I'm pretty sure I'm getting laid off today. I'll be a budget cut victim. Several members of the station, including me, have individual meeting with the boss this morning. This is followed by a general staff meeting at noon. My meeting is scheduled for 11:30, yet I'm supposed to start work today at 10. If I'm right, this means I will be waiting for my meeting time while employee after employee goes in to get their walking papers. I'm the lamb being led to the slaughter, the cow that stands in line to be butchered.

Sure, there's a chance that something else could happened. My hours could simply be reduced. I could be offered someone else's job, albeit in a lesser capacity. Still, I think today's the day my radio career in Las Vegas comes to an end. My pipes aren't the only thing that's frozen. Right now everything is on hold and nothing is out of the question

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Quick Hit

Update: My friend has not been fired yet. Rumor has it that his company will come down hard with the axe tomorrow. Coincidentally enough, by this time tomorrow, the person out of a job could once again be me. I had written as much a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't expect to be so right, so soon. Funny (in a not so funny way) how the things we're most right about are more often the things we don't want to be right about.