Monday, January 19, 2015

Common Sense, and Other Classic Tales of Monotony

Much has been made of the new study that says 1% of the world will soon control 50% of the wealth. This seems outrageous until you realize how unsurprising it is. People don't do a lot of things well, but pissing away money sure is one of them

I had the bad judgment to choose radio for a career,  knowing full well that unless I was in the top 1% (!), it wouldn't be a high paying job. Not only was it low paying, but it was the antithesis of secure. Every radio newsletter contains an except about who lost their job that day. Thus, I went into it thinking how important it was to save. Save save save. My streak of days with a Buddig meat sandwich once hit 20 days. My weekly allowance from the ATM was $20. That was my fun money. Money spent? No more fun. It wasn't that hard to do.

Fast forward a few years. The jobs got better, the money got better, the approach stayed the same. Sure, my so-called "allowance" changed, but I've never lost the habit for saving and making moves that made economic sense. Married well. Chose not to have children. Bought a small house (no pool). Paid off my car 2 years early (NOTE; No car payments for 12 years is great fun). Again, these aren't things that are hard.

My parents were raised in an era with no handouts. Nothing came easy. Not making enough at your job? Get another job. Can't afford it? Don't buy it. That kind of stuff was passed down to me, and I thankfully married a gal that now also sees it that way. It didn't come easy for her, but she knows now how nice it is to have money in the bank (and the stock market). You can go to school for 20 years, but the lessons you'll carry with you as you get older are usually the ones you learn under your roof growing up.

Yeah, there's plenty of cool stuff to buy. Nothing's cooler than not living paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth. I'm not even close to the 1%. Never will be. That's fine. The view is plenty sweet in the Top 20.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


"When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer," Stuart Scott told the audience. "You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live."

Optimistic words from a man who had every reason to be otherwise. At the time he said those words, Scott, longtime ESPN "Sportscenter" anchor, knew that cancer was going to take him. He certainly couldn't have inspired anyone by going on stage at the 2014 ESPY's and saying "F**k it, this is BULL***t!", even though everyone would've understood if he had. So he went with the inspiring quote, even if it's one of the dumbest things ever said by mankind.

I lost my mom to cancer on December 17th at the age of 80. She had held off three cancers (breast, lymphoma, thyroid) over the last 6 years, but Number 4 (lung) got her.She went quickly, quietly, peacefully. She just stopped breathing. No last words, no dramatic speeches, no goodbye kisses. Poof. She was gone. Cells related to her lymphoma had "gone to sleep", and when they awakened it was like one army had grown into ten, ravaging her already weakened immune system. Beating cancer once is hard. Twice is incredible. Three times is unheard of. The reward? Here's Number 4. Goodnight.

Mom would always roll her eyes when people would speak of how brave she was. "What's brave about wanting to keep living? You have to do what you have to do". Her biggest concern was having to put too much of a burden on my dad, and too much worry on her kids. In our last conversation, she said "Don't worry about me", then asked how my dog was doing. When I asked if I could allot just 20 percent of my daily amount of worry (I am my mother's son, after all) toward her, there was a pause and she quietly said, "ok". That's when I knew things had taken a much more sinister turn. She was gone 3 days later.

My days have been foggy ever since. I think the healing may begin when I convince myself that I'm not okay. Then I can begin to grieve. Maybe I'm still in denial about never getting the chance to talk with her again. The hardest part has been seeing what it's done to my dad. They were attached at the hip for 56 years. It's funny how the person you thought was the tougher in the parental relationship turns out to be the more needy. In death, I came to realize my mom was the toughest person under that roof.

"When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer," 

Just got off the phone with my dad. The tone was anything but celebratory