Sunday, September 27, 2009

No. 9 (unedited)

Make it two in a row.

For the second consecutive year and my third time overall, I have completed the Headwaters 100.

The annual ride in the Park Rapids, Minn., area offers routes of approximately 45, 75 and 100 miles. I was prepared to bike 100 miles on Saturday, but like always, my ride is contingent upon the weather.

The drive up north on Friday afternoon was dogged by showers. Just when I started to think the clouds were breaking up or we were driving far enough north to escape the rain, down came another shower.

But things did clear up by the time we arrived in Park Rapids, and the forecast promised sunny skies and 70 degrees on Saturday, a gem of a late September day in northern Minnesota.

It's rare that a day of bicycling is perfect, and Saturday was no exception. First and foremost, it wasn't raining. Rain makes a day miserable, but not impossible. Should it rain in northern Minnesota in late September, however, there's little chance I'm biking 100 miles.

Rain is my biggest fear, followed closely by wind. Wind is nearly impossible to avoid most days, so you expect it. But if you have a breezy day -- a day with winds exceeding 10 mph -- you can be in for a challenge, depending upon how far you're going and how long you're riding against the wind.

Saturday turned out to be a bit breezy, unfortunately, but the route regularly changes directions, so it was never crippling.
The Headwaters 100 seems to stick to its time-tested routes. Some rides vary the route year to year, to keep riders from becoming bored with the route, I guess. I figure if you're doing an organized ride one day per year, having a familiar route isn't a bad thing, as long as the route is a good one.

I set out around 8 a.m., as usual. It was about 55 degrees, warmer than I'd ever expect in Park Rapids. While it was mild, it was overcast, and a bit humid. The air felt damp, and despite the actual temperature, it wasn't the most pleasant 55-degree morning, but I have no complaints. Within minutes of departing from the starting line, I was plenty warm thanks to my interior furnace.

For 100 miles riders, the route heads out of Park Rapids and heads north to Itasca State Park, home of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The park is about 20 miles north of Park Rapids, but for 100-mile riders, the route weaves off the main highway and past a couple of lakes on its way northward. By the time you reach the park, and the first rest stop, you've biked about 31 miles.

It's not a tough 31 miles, just your basic rolling hills now and then. It's a good start to a 100-mile day, and I did rather well.

The rest stop precedes a 13-mile loop through the park. It's a nice ride, albeit a bit challenging. There are no major hills to climb, but lots of rolling hills. If the entire 100 miles were as challenging as those 13, I might not make it to the finish.

I stopped at the rest stop on my way out to refill my water bottles. At that point I had biked about 46 miles, and was nearly four hours into the ride.

From there the route departs from the park and heads east. Every year it seems that the 7-8 miles east are the easiest of the ride. It's relatively flat and the wind never seems to be an issue. Turning south, however, provided more of a challenge than I anticipated.

The wind had picked up as the morning progressed, and it seemed to be coming out of the south. It wasn't crippling, but the route goes south for about 12 miles, with periodic hills. It was during this stretch that the clouds finally started to burn off. The weather report said it would clear by afternoon, and it was right. It was rather sunny by early afternoon.

When the route finally turned east, there was barely a mile to go to the next rest stop, where they serve lunch. Lunch is soup, but it's better than more peanut butter and bananas, which is a staple of every bike ride in the free world. No, you're not required to consume the two together. At this point I was two-thirds done with the ride.

After lunch it was another 22 miles until the final rest stop of the day. I figured it would take me about 90 minutes to complete the next leg, and considered it to be the final challenge of the day. The route winds every direction on its way to Nevis, an insignificant little town on a big lake, about 11 miles east of Park Rapids.

It probably took me a little more than 90 minutes, but I continued to do well. I tried to forget about the previous 67 miles and treat the next 33 as if it was just another average Saturday afternoon ride. Easier said than done. For the most part, however, I managed to avoid dwelling upon the ominous task ahead of me, from start to finish. I do find myself thinking about how proud I'll be to claim success in biking 100 miles. I don't make a habit of bragging to everyone I know, but occasionally I bring it up.

The last significant leg of the ride provided a rare occurrence for organized bike rides. Rather than riding the same direction as 75-mile riders on a stretch of road, I was riding the opposite direction. The 75-mile riders don't go to Nevis, and as I wound my way back and forth to Nevis, I ended up biking the opposite direction of those riders for a few miles.

I was both envious of them and slightly inspired by them. Part of me wished I was only doing 75 miles, as my day would be about done at that point. But part of me was inspired by the fact that when these riders saw me, they saw somebody who for whatever reason was biking more than they were. That doesn't make me superior or a better rider, for that matter. But it did make me proud, and that provided a bit of an energy boost. I don't remember crossing paths like that with 75-mile riders last year.

Nevis provided the final resting place. There were several riders there when I arrived, and several who came in behind me. I am not an elite rider, so most of them had come and gone. But I was happy with my performance to that point.

The final 11-12 miles of the ride are on relatively flat bike trail, as it's an old railroad bed. I was a bit tired, and didn't complete them as fast as I wanted to, but I maintained a decent pace. I won't blame my performance on the wind, as the trail was primarily westward, but I did notice that the wind was more of a factor traveling west than east. Thanks to trees the wind was a non-factor at times along the trail. I was tired, plain and simple.

I returned to the start/finish line a bit later than I anticipated, in part because I took photos and video during the ride, something I don't normally do. I didn't spend a ton of extra time working the camera, but it did delay the completion of my ride. Regardless, my average riding speed was 15.2 mph. I think that's typically of my past efforts, but I don't normally take note of my average at the end of the day.

There were no amazing tales from this year's Headwaters 100. I didn't set the course on fire, and I didn't suffer any gargantuan hardships.

If my calculations are correct, this is the sixth consecutive year I have biked 100 miles in a day, something I never would have imagined in 2003.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where did the summer go? (unedited)

I don't regret that I didn't blog this summer. I regret that I didn't do other things, but the missed blog opportunities during our too-short Minnesota summer is far from my biggest regret.

I could blog about a bunch of stuff tonight, such as the meathead at the L.A. Guns concert not so far back, the Bert Farve jersey phenomena, how the White Sox failed to win the lousiest division, by a landslide, in the American League or the near-death experience of Swamp's 4-year-old son. That story still amazes me.

No, none of that tonight. Instead I will remind myself, again, that life is short, and toiling at a morally bankrupt newspaper conglomerate, one that filed financial bankruptcy this spring, is sucking the life out of me.

In our new world order, (post bankruptcy,) we have even fewer people than we had following the late February layoffs. We're producing crappy videos for our website, devoting less than 1 FTE to papers covering cities with populations exceeding 50,000 and pretending we'll find a way to make money selling our product and remain a viable business in five years. (I highly doubt it.)

I get it, newspapers are suffering everywhere, and it's a lousy economy on top of the fact the Internet has raped us of our profitability, which is the reason they exist. Oh sure, it sounds nice, we're in the business of serving our communities with news and information. But that's not why we exist. We're nothing more than another vehicle for generating income. The problem is that the industry has lost advertising revenue to the Internet, and it's classic toothpaste out of the tube, we're never getting that revenue back. We're not.

We're not the only industry that's going to be rendered irrelevant by the Internet? The old folks may look forward to that big, cumbersome telephone directory, but I can't tell you the last time I used one to look up anything. That's ridiculous.

The need for news, like the need for phone numbers, won't go away. The commodity will move from dead trees to pixels on a computer screen, or mobile phone. But the vehicles that have delivered them are rapidly becoming outdated, just like the Ford Pinto.

With all the new wealth created by the Internet, all the new businesses and jobs that nobody could have imagined 15 year ago, something has to fall by the wayside. And there, ladies and gentleman, is your newspaper industry. Some people got fat and happy off the profits of the printed page. Those holding the bag today are likely to end up another casualty of progress. It's the American way.

Will papers cease to exist? I doubt it, but perhaps it's time for a new funding formula. Perhaps one day our newspapers will be nonprofit entities, commodities supported by the users, with no stockholders to be beholden to. That sounds like a lot of work by a lot of people with nobody getting fat off the backs of those toiling at meager salaries to deliver the product.

And after the past several years of hell I've endured at my newspaper conglomerate, I welcome such a day.

It's too bad I won't be around to see it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BulletBoys write! (unedited)

Ah, the Internet.

Allegedly I had none other than BulletBoys bassist Rob Lane reply to my review of his show from February at Pickle Park. Specifically, it was this post: Bulletboys Sing!

And he did so this past weekend, more than three months after I wrote it.

I have no idea how easily it would be to find my review of the show via a Google search, and I don't care. I write for my benefit. If somebody stumbles across a blog entry, that's great. If they respond...all the better. But that's not the purpose of my writing, as I have said many times.

Rob is the current bassist of the band. Of course I don't know who he is, I can't even remember the original BulletBoys, despite being a fan of the band back in the day. Somehow Rob stumbled across my review and read it. (Again, we're assuming it was Rob who wrote it.)

Rob appears to be rather busy in the music industry, so when he's not playing bass for Marq Torien, he's playing in other bands. Probably a good idea, as I can't imagine a dude can make a living performing with the BulletBoys in 2009.

Rob didn't say much. He thought it was a good set, even though I pointed out it was missing one significant song in the BulletBoys catalog.

I admire him for reading it and not judging my opinion. I was critical of the set, disappointed by the lead singer's effort, underwhelmed by the band as a whole and questioned why the band is still in existence. Despite that, he didn't suggest I was an idiot or a moron for my opinions. It's hard to be criticized for your work, even if you're just one piece of the puzzle, and not be defensive. That's rather cool, and I admire the guy for it.

While I'm not interested in paying to see the BulletBoys again, perhaps I'd go if the ticket is free. And last I read, the BulletBoys are touring with what passes for Faster Pussycat and Bang Tango these days. (Faster Pussycat is much like BulletBoys...lead singer and nobody else from the glory days. Can't say for sure if more than the Bang Tango lead singer is still around.) So perhaps I'll see the BulletBoys yet again, if this tour comes to town.

If it does, I'll go out of my way to introduce myself to Rob, and then hope it was really him who commented on my blog.

I have to think it's legitimate. I know a lot of people like to screw around on the Internet, but nobody can be so bored that he'd impersonate a replacement BulletBoy. Not even me.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Impatient fag (unedited)

Today I was told I am an "impatient fag."

I set out to bike, on a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon. I was using my typical bike trails, and plenty of other people were, too. I expected that.

I was in perhaps my third mile when the trail I was using winds through a park. There are plenty of people using the park, and I expect it to be a bit slow going through this area at times.

I came behind a couple of people riding single file. We were about to go slightly downhill. This duo, presumably husband and wife, were probably in the upper 50s or lower 60s. I was going to pass them as we were going to go down the hill, so I announced "on the left" as I was getting ready to pass. That's a common thing you do when biking, sometimes out of courtesy, sometimes out of necessity. Sometimes I don't announce my pass, and sometimes I just say left.

I announced a pass, but realized that it would be a bit tight, as others were coming from the opposite way, so I sat behind the dude immediately ahead of me, slowed down a bit and waited patiently, I thought, for a clear opportunity to pull around.

I heard the woman ahead of him asking a question. I didn't hear the question, but he said something along the lines of, "You're fine, it's just an impatient fag behind me."

So when I had a chance to finally pass clearly a few seconds later, I said something like, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."

He quickly responded with his fag comment again. I quickly responded with a "thanks homo" type response.

I swear his response was, "You want to stop right now and find out?"

Find out what? If I'm gay? What was he going to do, pull his pants down and see how I responded?

I think the guy was trying to suggest he wanted to fight. This fat tub of goo was like the belligerent drunk. He was angry at the world and wanted to fight anybody, over anything. And why was he pissed at me? Because I announced I was going to pass, but didn't because of oncoming bikers.

I should have stopped at the cross street. There was a softball game going and tons of people. I'd love to see what he would have done. And I'd love to hear his explanation for why I was a impatient fag.

I felt bad for the woman ahead of him. She tried to say something to me along the lines of "please just keep going and ignore him." I felt bad for her. I've been in that spot. I've been with somebody who wants to shoot his/her mouth off, seemingly unprovoked. You just want the other person to ignore the stupidity and move on. If she's married to this jackass, I can't imagine how she can tolerate him if he's prone to such ridiculousness, for no reason whatsoever.

As I was passing her by, I said something about how I thought my life was miserable, but he takes the case. He continued to rant about stopping or something like that and I heard her telling him something along the lines of having had enough of him and wanting to end the bike ride.

I just don't get it.

As I crossed the road and continued down the trail, the ridiculousness of his comments cracked me up. It was just so damn stupid. I started laughing, and laughing, and laughing. I was laughing rather loudly as I slowly biked along the trail. It was that stupid. As I slowly rolled down, I looked back down the trail, and there he was, slowly plodding along. I could see him gesturing somehow. I'm not sure if he was trying to waive me back, so he could find out if I was a fag, was waving his fist at me or was waving his middle finger. I carried on, rather amused by the episode.

If my life ever gets that miserable, seriously, I promise I'll commit suicide.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You're not that important (unedited)

It's a sad world we live in.

I get it, when you get a new toy, you want to play with it. As mobile phone proliferated, people were anxious to play with their new toy.

And as technology improved, people began using phones as cameras, Internet browsers and e-mail devices, via the popular, highly pointless text messaging service.

Sadly our dependence upon mobile phones has gone from novelty to necessity. It wasn't that many years ago that we lived without constant contact/updates from anyone and everyone, but we're a society of self-importance now. If we don't have people texting us every five minutes, our lives aren't that important. Now people can mass text their friends and random fans via Twitter. There's a time and place for texting and Twitter. Sadly too many people create times and places because they lack legitimate ones.

We've all seen millions of examples of the ridiculousness created by mobile phones. And it's probably too late to turn back. We've become a society of self-important nobodies. It really shouldn't be surprising. It's just another turn in the evolution of this toilet earth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

36. 36 posts in 40 nights (unedited)

I made 90 percent of the goal, and that ain't bad when it comes to blogging.

I struggled for ideas at times, I failed to write about the one topic I had been avoiding when I started 40 nights ago and my final week wound up chronicling the aftermath of a disappointing week that wasn't my fault.

I found inspiration in unlikely places, chronicled silly moments in my life that may otherwise never have found themselves in print and wrote too many personal reflections. Such is life.

Thursday night I'm going to be busy preparing for my Friday morning's the 20th annual spring camping extravaganza. Unless I witness something amazing, tomorrow is the first of at least three nights off.

I'm not sure to make a habit of forcibly writing blogs one night after another, but there was some value to doing so, and perhaps I will try this experiment again. Just not any time soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

35. Turn down the heat (unedited)

The Twin Cities shattered its record high temperature today. Last I heard, the high temperature was expected to be in the low 80s Tuesday.

The record high was something like 89 degrees. Today it hit 97. It was the first time it has been this hot since July 2007. And it's not even June.

Weather extremes are funny things. It's so rare to get this hot, then it happens on a date when the Twin Cities have never hit 90 degrees. I was in the office all afternoon, so I had no idea how hot it was. When somebody mentioned it early this evening, I didn't believe it.

Stranger yet, it hit 100 degrees in southern Minnesota this afternoon. At the same time, it was more than 60 degrees cooler in northern Minnesota. It's not unusual to see wide variances in the weather from north to south. And sometimes it's the opposite of what you'd expect. It's not that ridiculous for it to be warmer at the Canadian border than it is at the Iowa border. But typically that's not the case, and I don't think a variance of more than 60 degrees happens very often. Today was doubly odd in Minnesota.

Well, at least it wasn't humid. I went for my beginning-of-season bike ride about an hour before sunset. It was warm, but not typical of hot days in Minnesota. There's rarely dry heat in this state. When it gets hot, it gets humid. Today was the exception to that rule.

Too bad it was so damn windy. And of course the wind had to be blowing against me during the final miles of my daily loop, not during the opening miles. Such is life.

I may not remember the details distinctly, but Tuesday was one of those highly atypical days I won't forget any time soon. And I'd appreciate not repeating it any time soon. Although compared to an average day four months ago, I have no business complaining.

Monday, May 18, 2009

34. Lucky (unedited)

As I have said, I consider myself lucky.

I lost over $100 in cash, which will irritate me this fall when I go on vacation somewhere. Stealing my coins didn't hurt me in the pocketbook, but I'll be reminded of the burglary as I'm assembling my cash for vacation. Those coins were a little bonus for my next vacation.

And I probably won't have a new digital camera. Mine wasn't high-tech, wasn't the greatest camera out there, but it worked well for me. That makes me as sad as the cash, even though I could replace the camera for less than the cash I lost. Maybe I'll get lucky and find the exact camera cheap enough that I can replace it.

As for the stolen rum, I'm glad the moron took that rather than something more valuable, like my GPS receiver sitting near my computer.

But I'm lucky. I know several people who have lost far more than me.

Off the top of my head:

February 2008, a former co-worker had his car broken into. I seem to recall the window was smashed. Even if he lost nothing, the cost of getting the window fixed was likely more than the total value of what I lost. And it's not as if you can go without fixing the window for a while. I've seen people try, but in winter it's even more ridiculous.

Another former co-worker, Kim, has been through it twice. Her more recent episode was in the house she bought a few years ago. Like me, somebody decided the workday was the best time to break in undetected. The perp busted in through her back door, carrying out a TV, DVD player and a few other things to a vehicle parked behind her house. I think she lost jewelry, too. While it wasn't high-buck bling, some of it was sentimental, of course.

Kim's first episode was in an apartment she shared. I don't know the how and when of it, but it was before Christmas. I think both roommates lost Christmas presents they had purchased for others. I don't recall what all was lost, but Kim lost some jewelry, and clothes. She thinks that a woman went through her stuff, picking out jewelry she liked rather than just taking everything, which is odd, and taking select clothes as well. The perp(s) made quite a mess of the apartment in their search, evidently. Jennifer told me that it was quite the unsettling experience for Kim. I can understand that.

A college friend and her roommate were hit a year or two after we had graduated college. They lost electronics and a lot of other stuff.

My buddy Scott and his wife were hit a year ago or so. They live in a small town an hour outside of Minneapolis, and somebody hit their house during the work day, taking video game systems and games, not to mention some of his wife's jewelry. Again, the jewelry had far more sentimental value than anything else.

My aunt and uncle in Brooklyn Park got hit pretty hard a year or so ago. Lots of stuff taken, again during the workday.

Another aunt and uncle got hit a few years ago. I think they caught the perp(s) in that one. My uncle has a lot of valuable golf equipment, and much of that was taken. Some of it was recovered at either a secondhand sporting goods store or a pawn shop. The shop offered the perp(s) pennies on the dollar for his valuable equipment. Somehow the connection was made between the clubs and my uncle.

There may be something I don't realize is missing, but the purpose of my burglary was a quick cash grab. It was successful, but it could have easily been worse. I'm glad the jackass didn't have the time, or balls, to scour my place carefully. I am very lucky.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

33. His colors don't run (unedited)

Upon arriving home to my apartment on Wednesday I quickly made my way in to see if there was a mess, or anything was missing.

It was clear my apartment had been searched, and knowing I had $125 worth of coins in my bedroom, I noticed immediately they were missing. I hadn't grabbed my phone when I jumped out of my car, so I had to go back to the car to grab it. I called 911 immediately and began giving my report while standing in the courtyard of the two 12-unit buildings of my development.

The new guy upstairs heard me, and after I went to the opposite building to post an advisory sign of a burglary, I crossed paths with him. He's a retired guy, some sort of military veteran, and your classic racist.

He told me he was certain it was somebody in one of the two buildings who could easily watch who comes and goes, and when. There are minority residents in our building...heck, my city is like a mini United Nations, so there's no such thing as a "white" building. There are some nicer buildings with higher rents, I am sure, but this suburb ain't white bread suburbia. There are a variety of nationalities represented in our buildings.

And it has been a relatively quiet building for the year I have lived in it. There are a few families in the buildings, and kids irritate me when they're running around outside, trying to entertain themselves right outside my windows, in a courtyard that lacks any playground amenities. Unfortunately there's no semblance of a park nearby. Such is life.

I wouldn't rule out an "inside" job, but I could just as easily see somebody taking advantage of my buildings on a weekday because it's relatively easy. There are few cars in our parking lot during the weekday. Heck, I've come by on a weekday afternoon and there's not a car to be seen in our lot. That doesn't mean our buildings are empty, as some people park on the street, but I bet they're pretty close to empty some days.

Our building doesn't have secure outer doors. So you can come right in, walk down half a flight of stairs and give the door a good kick. If anybody in the building hears it, he or she doesn't immediately assume burglary, since we haven't had any problems that I know of in our buildings in the past year.

If it wasn't an inside job, I'd bet it's somebody who lives in the vicinity, has some knowledge of my building, has perhaps scouted it a bit to get an idea of what the likelihood is that anybody is around and then went to work. Unless somebody has been watching me, then if the dude was smart he knocked on the door first, as if he was looking for somebody, then kicked it in upon determining nobody was home.

Why me? Quick in and quick out from the door. Who's going to go up to third floor to randomly pick an apartment? And there's no way anyone could have known what I did or didn't have of value in here, so it was very random. The blinds are never open for long periods of time, and are only open occasionally when I'm here. And it's very rare that I bother to open them. I could have a nice TV, or no TV, and there would be little chance for anyone to make that determination.

It was random. But the racist doesn't think so. He even suggested it was probably a minority, and made some comment about wanting to kill him/them. He made this comment deliberately as a minority family walked past us into our building. He's a racist, and he's not afraid to show it.

He also mentioned he owns a gun, and wouldn't hesitate to use it. Anybody know the recipe for disaster? I think racist is going to stew a pot of it, if he doesn't get booted from the apartment first.

If there's any doubt, this is the same guy who passed out with his tub filling at midnight on Thursday night.

I like my Asian neighbor better.

And just today I noticed a little message penned onto the note I taped on the wall by the mailboxes. My note advises people to be alert and cautious as they could be next. Somebody wrote something about hoping the thief doesn't pick "us," as he/they have a .44 Magnum and would love to kill the culprit.

I don't know who wrote it, but I have a hunch.

32. Swing and a miss (unedited)

I thought about writing my blog last night, then I got distracted and never got around to doing it. Oh well, it's not as if anybody is keeping score.

So on Thursday night, after I wrote about my famous last words, I was getting ready to call it a night. I was still sitting at my computer when I heard a bizarre sound. It sounded like dripping in the bathroom. That made no sense, of course, because I hadn't been in the bathroom for over an hour.

Yes, there was dripping. There's a steam vent above my shower, and water was dripping out of it, into my shower. Not a good sign, I figured.

Not knowing what to make of it, I took a leak. The toilet was right there, after all, and I was due.

After washing my hands, I felt drips of water hit me on the head as I was drying my hands. Sure enough, water was now starting to drip out of the heat vent in the ceiling, too.

Within minutes I had a stream pouring out of the heat vent. I don't remember the sequence of events, but I managed to put a big plastic tub and my cooler on the floor of my bathroom to catch most of the water streaming down. I also called our emergency maintenance number and awoke one of the maintenance dudes, who probably wasn't happy to have to come to my building. I told him it seemed as if a pipe had burst. After calling it I figured it was more likely that something was overflowing in an apartment above me.

About 35 or 40 minutes later the dude arrived, took a look at what was going on and was a bit stunned by what he saw. I had already dumped the 30-gallon tub into my tub, as it was three-fourths full and I doubted I could have lifted it if I waited until it was completely full. Doing this meant that I had to get rained upon by the dirty water from the ceiling.

Within minutes maintenance guy returned from his investigation from the apartments above me. The person immediately above me had been asleep the entire time, and had no idea that water was pouring through the ceiling of her and/or his apartment. I was told the ceiling was in bad shape from all the water that had accumulated above it.

That's because the new guy, the retired racist who had just moved in at the beginning of the month, decided somewhere around midnight that a bath was a great idea. From maintenance guy's report, the racist had been in a fight and his face wasn't too pretty. He reeked of alcohol, too.

So it seems that he was rather drunk, wrote a check his ass couldn't cash and decided to take a bath at midnight. Yeah, when I'm drunk, a bath is the first thing I think of.

The only problem with his logic was that he hadn't banked upon passing out while his tub was filling. And there's the source of my precipitation.

I did some brief cleaning/drying/decontamination on Friday morning before taking a shower. Maintenance guy told me they'd be working on my bathroom, and the wet carpet outside it on Friday. Now I have holes in my ceiling, bits of plaster on the tank of my toilet and a musty smell in my apartment.

As maintenance guy pointed out at 1:45 a.m., it was a good thing I was still awake, otherwise it could have been a lot worse. He's probably right.

He also pointed out that the fiasco in my bathroom, a day after my apartment was burglarized, made for a pretty lousy week for me.

He was definitely right.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

31. Famous last words (unedited)

They weren't last words, and they aren't famous, but I said a couple of things that have come back to haunt me. Let's start with last night:

Instead I have a lot of thoughts to express during the next few nights, although it cost me about $140 in rum and coins. At least I hope that's all it cost me.

Turns out that it did cost me more. I'm 99.44 percent sure that my digital camera was swiped as well as my coins and rum. I can't find it, and it was likely sitting in its little black case on my kitchen counter amongst a ton of stuff. It likely stuck out as being a digital camera, and it was small, so it was easily swiped.

It was an older camera, the kind with the smaller view screen on the back. It was probably three or four years old. It was a Christmas gift from Monica on Christmas 2007, however, so it burns me as much as the $100+ in coins. I hadn't used it tons over the past 18 months, but it was the first digital camera I had ever owned. She bought it used, because she couldn't afford to buy me a brand new digital camera, but she bought if from her then-boyfriend's family, and it was in excellent shape. I didn't care that it was a year outdated or used, it was my first digital camera, and it was a highly thoughtful gift. That's what made it special, even if I wasn't taking tons of pictures every week.

The sad part is that not only did it have sentimental value to me, it is of no value to the jackass who took it. (I still think it was just one person, but obviously I can't know for sure.) It's old, so it has no value to anyone. And it has one of those goofy battery packs that needs a special charger. So to recharge the battery, the moron will have to buy a new charger for it, and of course you can't buy one at Target like you could buy AA batteries. Chances are that outdated camera is going to end up in a trash can. I guess it's better that the moron took that instead of the credit card sitting in a stack of cards on my counter, but it still stings.

Trust me, this plan is brilliant, just don't break into my apartment, there's likely to be $300 in cash in my dresser drawer.

I wrote that last summer, after being frustrated by ATM machines. I sat in line for several minutes behind a car where four people had to get cash out of the machine. In the meantime people who arrived after me were already out of the neighboring line. I was the only car in either line when I left, and I was pissed, as a couple of cars that arrived after me were already gone before I ever pulled up to the machine.

That's when I vowed to start taking out $300 at a time from savings and keeping it in my apartment. Each time I needed cash I would take $40 or $100 and then go online in the next day or so and transfer cash from checking to savings, so when it was all over, I had $300 in savings to withdraw. I've done that successfully several times no, with no regrets.

And true to my word, I've kept that cash in the top dresser drawer. I keep it in a bank envelope and take what I need when I need it. A week ago I took a larger than normal amount and emptied the envelope, in part because I knew I was going shopping for several things and decided I'd pay cash rather than have five separate debit card charges to deduct in my checkbook. (Because I'm old fashioned and still keep a checkbook ledger.)

As it turns out, the idiot never checked that drawer, and even had he done so, he wouldn't have found $20 bills, just $68 in small miscellaneous bills, (I counted before I moved them to a far less obvious location,) and two Minnesota Twins tickets. So even if I had been unlucky when it came to that drawer, I would have been spared a $300 loss.

Obviously the thief didn't read my blog before hitting up my apartment, not that he could have linked the blog to me anyway.

Despite the depressing realization this morning that the camera was gone, too, I still consider myself very lucky, given the situation. Details to follow in the next day or two.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

30. Welcome back to reality (unedited)

I have been living a low-key life, getting by, not worrying about too much, despite not accomplishing nearly enough to make my life better. I can't complain, and I won't. Many people would appreciate my situation.

Life is full of bumps in the road, and today I hit one.

Last night I couldn't fathom what to write about. I typically title a blog before I write it, which is ironic because for most news stories I write I save the headline until the end. So when I started the blog, I had no title, and didn't want to use something generic such as "the river has run dry." I ended up recounting how I made a Parkinson's disease joke to a guy with Parkinson's disease.

Today I got one of those periodic slaps in the face the we all experience at numerous points in life.

I received a cell phone call shortly before 5 p.m., but didn't hear it ring because I turn the ringer down to one beep at work, and had headphones on at the time of the call. I took them off just in time to hear a beep that I had a new voice mail message and checked the number of the missed call. It was local, and looked vaguely familiar, but I didn't recognize it. I didn't worry about checking the message, as I was getting ready to leave. I figured I'd check the message in my car, on my way home. It was movie night tonight, and I was going home to change clothes, set the VCR to record "Lost" and head to the theater.

That message was from the apartment management, and it was a call about a noise report. I tend to have my radio on sports radio late at night when I'm sitting up, and I thought perhaps somebody had called to complain the radio was too loud.

No, the noise that was reported was determined to be the door of my apartment being kicked in, evidently. It's unclear who called to report a noise, when they heard it, when they reported it or who determined my door had indeed been kicked in. But sometime between 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. my door was kicked in. Yep, I was burglarized. I didn't know that until I got home, but I was certain my door wasn't accidentally busted open by building maintenance workers.

The message said maintenance would be coming to work on my door so that I wasn't left with an unlocked unit. A maintenance guy came shortly after I got home and called police. The building manager mentioned in his message that he could assist me on Thursday morning in filing a police report if something was missing. He had no evidence that I hadn't kicked in my own door, but it would seem that upon confirming the door had been broken he should have called the police immediately.

While driving home I pondered what could be missing. Would my bulky outdated computer, large worthless television or 6-year-old bicycle, highly valuable to me only, be missing? Nope all was there.

But it was clear the closets had been opened, looking for anything of value. Golf clubs, perhaps? They weren't in the closet, and they're not missing. The only thing I'd think somebody would have wanted from my closets is some sort of safe or lock box. Sorry, nothing like that here.

Upon inspecting the bedroom I found my mattress out of place. Yep, they looked for an envelope of cash underneath it. Do people really do that?

They also searched several drawers from my two dressers, as they were left open. They searched the top three with no luck on the dresser closest to the door. They searched two drawers of the other dresser, atop which my TV sits. On that dresser was a large plastic container, they kind they use to sell yard drinks at Las Vegas pools and resorts. That's where mine came from, and I used it to collect silver coins for a future vacation. I had more than a year's worth of coins saved. By my estimate there was $125 worth of coins in there. That's gone.

But that's about it. I later determined one other thing was missing: two-thirds of a 1.75 liter bottle of Captain Morgan rum. Not sure why I realized it wasn't sitting amongst all the crap on my kitchen counters, but somehow it occurred to me.

So somebody broke into my apartment during the daytime, by kicking in the door, to look for a quick cash grab. Was $125 a successful take? I'd have to think so. How many people have more than that laying around their apartment? I have no idea, maybe everybody does.

My assumption is that it was a rather amateur thief, working alone. He grabbed a big plastic tube of coins and a jug of liquor and carried it out of the building to a vehicle somewhere. Perhaps he had a duffel bag of some sort and took something I didn't realize, such as one of my pay stubs sitting on the kitchen counter, unopened. But I doubt it. Any thief who makes a point to take a large, partial container of booze isn't probably collecting a lot of personal information. I'd have no way of knowing if he grabbed personal information, but it wasn't obvious that any such letters/documents were removed from any pile in my apartment. It was clear he went through a dresser drawer looking for cash underneath clothing, but I doubt he took the time to look carefully at envelopes to determine if they might contain valuable personal information without disturbing the piles in my apartment. I am sure he was in a hurry, given the noise he had to have made kicking in the door, even if there were few people in either building, as evidenced by the lack of cars in our lot most days.

So what did he miss? He went through several dresser drawers, but not the top drawer of the second dresser he searched. In there are a couple of bank envelopes contain petty cash. One has maybe $20 in $2 bills, the other contains $30 or so in mostly singles, singles I've collected for various reasons. Most because they were marked by others who use to track the movement of bills. A few just because they were old, including an old $10 bill. I'll bet there's at least $60 total there...I haven't counted. But he missed them. There were also two Minnesota Twins tickets in the drawer, valued at about $60. The contents of the drawer would have added another $100 to the take, so I am lucky.

Amongst the many things spread out across my kitchen counter was a pile of cards, such as gift cards and video store membership cards. In that pile was a valid Visa credit card with no balance due, meaning it had a few grand in available balance. I'm not sure how easily you could get away with fraud simply by having a credit card that says "Ask 4 ID" on the back of it, but it would be worth something in the wrong hands, I am sure. He was too focused on that big bottle of rum, lucky me.

Had a burglar broken into my car by shattering a window, it would have cost me more than the $125 in coins that was stolen. So I do feel fortunate that it wasn't worse.

But it was a rather sobering experience, literally. Had it never happened, I'd be drinking a rum and Diet Pepsi right now, writing about the chick flick I saw tonight, or something like that. Instead I have a lot of thoughts to express during the next few nights, although it cost me about $140 in rum and coins. At least I hope that's all it cost me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

29. (unedited)

Sometimes you sit in front of a blog page, and nothing comes to mind.

Sure, I never wrote about my walk up and down the beach while on vacation in Mexico, but that will take 30 minutes to write, and I'm not inspired tonight.

There were no surprise announcements today that a friend is getting divorced. There was no axing of talent at my once-proud newspaper conglomerate. There was no nifty prize waiting in my mailbox from a local radio station.

Today was a very boring, average day. OK, it was a bit windy, way too windy for me to entertain the idea bicycling before a city council meeting. I have biked under lousy conditions, but it's too early in the season for me to be attempting such a ride today. I don't have the leg strength yet. I hate the early-season rides. They're so painful, and humbling.

Oh, there was a memorable moment today. I said to a co-worker, jokingly, not to let his Parkinson's Disease affect his ability to hold a camera steady while shooting video. Turns out he has Parkinson's Disease. I had no idea.

I don't feel embarrassed about making the quip. The guy doesn't exhibit any signs that he might have Parkinson's Disease, so it wasn't like I was picking on an obvious physical flaw. But I felt bad because I just learned that one of my co-workers has early signs of a debilitating disease for which there is no cure. There is a guy in my company that I'd argue deserves it, but Charlie isn't him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

28. 1 becomes 2 (unedited)

I was sitting at a city council meeting tonight, bored, tired and sore. My spring bicycling is underway, and it's always painful. Thirteen miles feels like a chore at the beginning of the season. My ass is extra sore from the seat at the beginning of the year, and this year I'm getting pain in my neck and shoulder that I'm not use to. Of course I won't go to the doctor unless it cripples me.

So as I sat at the city council meeting, pitying my life, I wondered what I could possibly be inspired to write about tonight. then, as I was driving home, I had new messages on my phone. There was one from last night, that I didn't know I had, and a second one tonight from Chuck, a college friend. She's getting divorced.

This news wasn't a total surprise. Chuck saw this coming back in December, and was prepared for the end, right before the annual holiday pilgrimage to visit the families. As it turns out Chuck and her husband decided to continue to work toward saving their marriage. Well, that has come to an end.

I remember meeting Chuck for dinner one night several years ago. She had ended a long-term relationship with a real dufus. He was a likable guy, but he wasn't originally from our planet, I decided. He was 12 or 13 years older than Chuck, had never been married, if I recall correctly, and had a solid career as a school teacher. His life was pretty decent, and clearly he wanted a relationship. Chuck wanted to get married and have a traditional life. The ex-boyfriend didn't, evidently.

You'd think that a guy in his early 40s might be willing to make a few concessions if he wants a long-term relationship. I promise you this, if I meet a woman 12 years younger than me tomorrow who doesn't irritate me constantly and doesn't already have a litter of kids, assuming I'm attracted to her I'd consider myself one lucky son of a bitch. Maybe Chuck's ex never wanted kids, being a school teacher and all, and knew that it would never work because Chuck wants children. Whatever the reason, he wanted to maintain the status quo, but Chuck didn't want that in her late 20s. End of relationship. (The ex didn't handle it particularly well, I heard. He wasn't psychotic, but he was rather remorseful and regretful, but for Chuck there was no turning back.)

Enter her husband. Chuck and her husband were set up through mutual friends, having met a few years earlier. Chuck didn't like the long-distance aspect of the potential relationship, but against her better judgment she went on a date. Nothing really happened on night 1, evidently. But Chuck consented to a second go of it, and something happened on night 2, Chuck recalled at dinner. It was as if everything magically clicked in her life. She was quite happy, or so it seemed.

But there was the issue of distance, about 75 miles or so. Chuck lived in the Twin Cities, her husband did not. And to make matters worse, his employer asked him to transfer out of state indefinitely. Chuck and the husband decided he should do so, and shortly thereafter she would join him out west.

Within a couple of years they were married, and not long after that they came back to Minnesota. They ended up in the town her husband had lived and worked in prior to the transfer. That was great for him, but a bit tough for Chuck. Sure, she was 90 minutes away from her friends and family in the Twin Cities, a lot closer than she had been, but she had to adapt to a life her husband knew quite well.

Her husband did well for himself, and Chuck found meaningful employment in her profession(s) difficult to find outside the Twin Cities. The fact she didn't have to work 40 hours per week might make many jealous. But for Chuck it was a bit of a sacrifice.

What seemed to be a well matched pair wasn't quite the perfect match. Chuck still wants to spawn a child, (why are people drawn to that I don't understand,) but it hasn't happened. And clearly it won't at this point.

So after seeing multiple counselors and attempting to find a reason to stay together, they failed. And although I only have one side of the story to judge by, it's safe to say things are going to get a bit ugly.

Her husband proposed resolving the divorce without attorneys or a court battle. Chuck was fine with that. Something changed, because quite to her surprise Chuck wound up being served with divorce papers. So now Chuck is trying to find an attorney to represent her, (which isn't as easy as you would think,) trying to line up an apartment in the cities, preparing for periodic trips back and forth for a future legal showdown and trying to find any sort of a job in the worst economy of her life as she prepares to go it on her own after years of relative dependency upon her husband. I don't envy her.

And once again my meaningless life doesn't seem so bad. If only I could afford a massage or three.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

27. 37 blogs in 40 nights

I did it yet again. Ever since I forgot to blog, I am on an every-other-day completion rate. So if I was to write 40, it'd take me at least 43 nights. And given I'd miss a couple of nights due to being out of town, (which wouldn't count against me, per my rules,) it would technically take me at least 45 nights to get to 40.

Since I make the rules, here's the new plan. I won't get to 40 blogs in 40 nights, but when I hit what will be night 40, this experiment ends at whatever total I am at. At best I'll write 37 blogs in the 40-night span. But if recent performance is indicative of future results, I'm not going to get past 32. We'll see.

A lackluster weekend has come and gone. There are going to be a lot of them this summer. I wish my life was a thrill-a-minute plane ride, but it's not. Now more than ever.

But rather than dwell on the excitement that is not forthcoming, let me say thanks to my mother. She has worked hard to make ends meet for her children as we were growing up, sacrificed some things along the way and got far more than she ever bargained for when she married my father 40 years ago. Most people don't think about what their life will be like if they don't grow old with the person they marry, and my mom may very well have opted for a different route if she could have known how the chips would fall. But despite all the challenges life threw at her, she persevered, and is a far better person than I will ever be.

Today was a day to honor mothers. My family did that, but in doing so I was reminded of how fortunate I am. It's too bad I'm too lazy to count my blessings.

Friday, May 8, 2009

26. 40 blogs in 42 nights (unedited)

After 24 in a row, I have missed two blogs in three nights.

I have learned that it is hard to find the inspiration to blog every single night when it becomes an obligation. I always have an idea in the back of my head, but that doesn't mean I have the passion to write when the night comes.

And again last night I thought about the blog, but had brought work home with me, and thought I would do some of that first, then blog. Needless to say I forgot about blogging when 2 a.m. rolled around.

If I hadn't missed a night, and don't go out of town next weekend, I could have finished 40 blogs by the start of Memorial Day weekend. At this point, however, it will take until Memorial Day, at the earliest, to finish my 40 blogs. We usually head home on Sunday, so that means I should be able to blog on Sunday night. By then I'll probably be five behind 40.

This spring will be our 20th annual spring camping trip. If you would have told me back in 1990 that I'd be camping with JayHawk, German Bear and Doug 19 years later, I'm not sure I would have believed it.

Obviously there's no reason I would have thought about where I'd be in 19 years, but had I done so, I never would have imagined that four of us would be getting together all these years later, or that I'd be the only person to make it for all 20 trips.

So, when I'm sitting around a campfire two weeks from tonight, trying to stay awake, can I see myself sitting there for a 40th annual camping trip in 2029?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

25. God bless the Dixie Chicks (unedited)

I don't watch a ton of movies per year, and when I rent a bunch for a month or two during the winter via an online rental service I usually end up watching a decent number of documentaries.

Tonight I finally got around to watching "Shut Up & Sing," a documentary about the Dixie Chicks and how the lead singer's 12-word comment sent country music fans into a tizzy. When you look back on it, it was ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

Some hicks took exception to the fact that the comment was made overseas, as if saying it to an American audience would have made it OK in their eyes. Some people acted like they should be deported for daring not to support the president. And as usual, if you are against a war in any way, you don't support the troops who have no choice but to go to battle overseas. A death threat against the lead singer prior to a Dallas concert is chronicled in the film.

The Chicks didn't back down when it came time to record their first CD following the controversy, and the documentary shows them candidly at times, discussing strategies to maximize or minimize circumstances. The lead singer's response to President Bush's comments about their album sales is priceless.

And I forgot what an opportunistic redneck Toby Keith is. This movie reminded me.

I'm not a fan of country music, and I can't claim familiarity with their music, but the few times I've seen concert footage, I'm impressed with their material and performance. It may be country music at its root, but it can easily transcend the genre, which is perhaps why they did so well with their "Taking the Long Way" CD. That CD earned the Chicks five Grammy Awards. Damn impressive.

I'll never be a fan of country music, and I'll probably never own a Dixie Chicks CD, but after watching the documentary, I'm a fan of the Dixie Chicks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

24. 40 blogs in 41 nights (unedited)

I made it more than halfway before I forgot to write a blog.

I was actually thinking about it last night when I was sitting at my computer, but I didn't have a good topic to write about, and inspiration was lacking. So I started playing an online card game, and before you know it, I went to bed without thinking about it again. For some reason I realized my faux pas early this morning after I awoke. The mind works in mysterious ways.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day my worthless belongings were moved into my current apartment. I had hoped to move in before Cinco de Mayo, but I couldn't get it scheduled on the Friday prior to Monday, May 5, 2008, in part because it was threatening to rain, and the company handling my smoke damage didn't want to deliver my crap if it was raining. I couldn't blame them.

So here I am, one year later, and life hasn't changed much. I'm still drifting aimlessly, and the more I write about it on this blog, the more it sounds like my only skill is self-loathing. I need to start being more hateful with this blog. OK, I jest, slightly.

I am excited for what my short-term future has in store for me, even if it isn't glamorous. I look forward to September like I never have before.

Monday, May 4, 2009

23. I love a good scam (unedited)

Rush likes to call any deal I take advantage of a "scam."

If I use a coupon to get a free lunch, or take advantage of those goofy Walgreen's deals, it's a scam, according to Mr. Big Spender.

I went to the grocery store Sunday night. I noticed that there were instant "save $1 now" coupons on 24-packs of Pepsi products. I wasn't buying those, but that didn't stop me from peeling about 15 of the coupons off various packages. Rush and I had a discussion about this practice last summer. He mocks me for it.

I can't hold it against him. It is kind of lame. I spent five minutes discreetly peeling coupons off of packages, all for future use. In theory, the coupons are for use by those purchasing the product that day, but last I checked, I'm not committing any crime by taking them for future use.

As I have written before, coupons are kind of a disease. Some day I will have a six-figure income and no longer worry about stockpiling ill-gotten coupons. But until then, I need to save a buck anywhere I can, at least when it comes to Diet Pepsi.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

22. I missed 'em both (unedited)

There were two horses left last night when I got my chance to pick a horse. I picked a random number to select one of the two horses left. I had a chance to keep it, or to trade it for the remaining horse. Both were 50-1 in the morning line.

I traded the horse I picked for the remaining horse, Flying Private, because Flying Private was trained by reknowned trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The horse I gave up? Yep, Mine That Bird, the horse that won the derby.

I didn't lose out on much, just a Kentucky Derby prize package, such as a hat, T-shirt, etc., but it's amazing to know that I nearly won. That would have been a great story to tell had I won. Damn!

Of course I did win Queensryche tickets for Saturday night. Unfortunately the concert, planned in three sets over 2-1/2 hours, was to be done by 10 p.m. so the Myth Nightclub could have a disco dance party countdown spectacular for three hours. Since I was committed to going to the fundraiser, it didn't seem realistic to think I could get bail out after eating and make it to Myth with any significant time left. Doug may have went solo to take advantage of my free tickets, tickets Monica also won and couldn't use, but I couldn't make it.

Instead I sat through a prize raffle for which I bought five tickets. I walked away with nothing.

Somehow my luck ran out today. Damn!

Friday, May 1, 2009

21. Flying Private to Queensryche (unedited)

I'm usually sitting up doing something meaningless late Friday night, and when I am, I'm listening to ESPN Radio.

They have call-in contests most overnights and I have managed to win the "ESPN Sports Radio Match Game" a few times. I've lost once or twice as well, and once I was chosen to play as a guest celebrity rather than a contestant, which was a lot of fun. Given I'm a game show geek from way back, and love Match Game, I get a kick out of playing, whether or not I win the fabulous prize. (They always follow up references to winning a fabulous prize with the disclaimer, "prize is not fabulous," and they're right. For a nationwide sports radio network owned by Disney, you'd think they'd give you something valued at $25 or more, rather than something valued at $10 or less. The last time I won, I received a 99-cent ESPN Radio key chain. Seriously.)

Tonight they had a contest where everyone who got through on their toll-free line would get a horse in the Kentucky Derby. You pick a random number and get a random horse. If you don't like the odds of your horse, you get to trade it back. Then you're stuck with whatever you choose second. By the time I got in, there were two horses left, both 50-1 in the morning line. I ended up with Flying Private, which I preferred over the other long shot only because Flying Private is trained by the celebrated D. Wayne Lukas.

You receive a handful of Kentucky Derby gifts if your horse wins, but at 50-1 in a 20-horse field, there's virtually no hope of an upset, so I'm not going to win anything, but wish me luck!

I am a winner, however, thanks to the local "playing what we want" radio station. I have tickets to see Queensryche Saturday night. I've seen 'em in concert a couple of times, and they're a good band from the hair band era, but not the prototypical band of that era. They don't sing about cherry pie or staying up all night. Their songs, and musicianship, are a bit more sophisticated. A couple of buddies, including Doug, are big fans. So Doug and I are going, although the concert starts a bit earlier than I'd prefer, since I have to go to that fundraising dinner with mom. Such is life.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

20. Happy new year! (unedited)

New year's resolutions never made much sense to me. You decide because the calendar is flipping from the 2008 Betty Boop to the 2009 Marilyn Monroe that it's time to change your life. In Minnesota in the dead of winter, that's not such a good idea.

I hate summer. There's so much to do in Minnesota during the summer, and so little time. Yeah, there are plenty of outdoor activities in May and September, and even April and October, but they're just not the same.

Hell, by late June we're already starting to lose minutes of daylight at night. It's just not right.

Summer is too short, it's full of too many things I cannot find the time or money for, and it goes by so fast. Usually when the summer is over I look back on it and can take pride in what I accomplished. I try not to let it go to waste, much like the last several months of my life has.

I hate heat and humidity, I hate the fact the grubby kids in the apartment across the way are outside running around making noise and I hate I bike my ass off all summer and lose very little weight. I hate summer, and I'm going to hate it even more this year. It's going to be the longest, hardest four months of my life. And if my heart can withstand the stress, I'll be a better person because of it come September. One way or another, I'll be dead by Labor Day. I'll either collapse from exhaustion and die or the life I have known for 38 years will be dead. I'll be happy with either.

My new year begins on Friday. It's going to be the shortest year of my life.

19. I promise (unedited)

I am almost half way to 40 blogs, and I'm running out of good ideas.

I also came close, again, to forgetting to blog. I was in bed when I recalled I hadn't written a blog. I had thought about it earlier, but failed to follow up the thought, and instead did a bunch of nothing.

I am tired every day, and I'm going to be twice as tired in May, I promise. I keep busy most of the time, and I'm going to be twice as busy in May, I promise. I am going to accomplish as much this summer, if not more, as in summers past, I promise. I am going to enjoy many things this summer, yet it's not going to be the most memorable or exciting summer of my life, I promise.

Symbolically this is the last summer of my life, I promise.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

18. Bankrupt (unedited)

The mighty newspaper conglomarite is bankrupt!

Today it was announced we filed bankruptcy. What does that mean? I'm not sure. I guess we're owned by banks, although I thought we were owned by stockholders who had taken a bath on their investment. I guess we have some capital to work with, because the monthly income isn't enough to cover our asses. I am told it is business as usual on Wednesday, although who knows how long that will hold true.

A local media watchdog/critic wrote that it was surprising that it took this long to happen. I have no idea if it should have or not. All I know is that there's some bogus optimism about the fact we've acknowledged we're bankrupt. Call me cynical, but it was great news that we were being turned into a public stock barely two years ago, and how did that work out?

One day I'm going to show up to the office and find that the building is locked, and we're all unemployed. I'm sure of it.

As a co-worker pointed out, today we are publicly bankrupt. Too bad we've been morally bankrupt for years.

Monday, April 27, 2009

17. Double or nothing

If my salary doubled tomorrow, how would my life be different?

I'm not sure. I would immediately get a new vehicle. My Pontiac Grand Prix is about eight years old. It's looking a little long in the tooth, and it is loud. It runs OK, but the constant engine knock is annoying. It is paid off, however, and I don't really want to start a new series of car payments right now if I can avoid them. But I might need to bite the bullet and do something different this summer. Knowing any day that my car might blow up on the highway is a bit disconcerting.

How else would my life be different? I'm not sure it would change significantly, at least not initially. I'd start pondering if the time had come to buy a home instead of rent an apartment, but it wouldn't be a quick decision, I suspect.

Perhaps I would splurge on a few luxuries, like an occasional massage and a pedicure. Yeah, really, a pedicure.

After 38 years I have yet to learn how to trim my toenails without mangling them. I'd feel like a dork getting a pedicure, but I'd be far from the first guy to do so. And it would be nice, just once, not to have snarled toenails.

Yeah, I dream big.

16. Better late than never

I took a long siesta on Sunday evening, and nearly forgot to write a blog entry tonight. I thought about it a long time ago, and then got distracted.

The Halloween party was a bit lackluster in attendance, but several people made a cameo, and I got to see a couple people I seem to cross paths with less often at Halloween gatherings, so it was worth being there. I was really tired last night, however, which sucked, because I wasn't my usual upbeat self.

So what do I have to look forward to in the coming week? A long overdue visit to the heart doctor, a Twins game with company seats and a fundraising event on Saturday evening for my sister's workshop. My sister, being mentally retarded, goes to "work" each weekday at a special program where they work within her skill set to help her develop. Unfortunately she seems to be at the limits of her capacity.

Every time I think my life sucks, I try to remember my sister has suffered far more than I have, and I have the ability to change my life. She'd be lucky to have my empty, meaningless life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

15. Happy Halloween

Tonight features one of two pre-Halloween parties I'm going to this year. This one is half way to Halloween. (Six months from now is Oct. 25.) There's also a party planned this summer.

Both of these are gatherings of friends from the haunted attraction I am a three-year veteran of. Tonight will be a non-costumed affair, but the summer gathering is intended to be a costume party, I'm told.

My Halloween friends are a diverse group that I don't have a lot in common with, but we all have a love of the spirit of Halloween, and funny, sometimes we like the same movies, or enjoy bowling, or like the same video games. I guess we're no different than most groups tied by one common thread. All I know is that my life is better for knowing these people. Where will any of us be in five years? That's a good question. For now we have each other, and that's awesome.

Perhaps next year I can inspire my group to celebrate Hallowang on the last Saturday of April. What's Hallowang? Read all about it at Hallowang.

14. Meet me in St. Louis? (unedited)

With the conclusion of this blog I will have two weeks in the books and about four weeks left to go to hit 40 in 40. I'm impressed I've made it this far.

Monica invited me to her house for a Friday evening get together. She was hosting "game night" at her house. The players, a random collection of people, some of whom she had never met, yet they all convened at her house because she is now the queen of a group for social singles.

The idea of random people meeting to share a common activity is not a new concept, but the internet makes it that much easier to do it. You can find a wide variety of people for any common activity, and plenty of people use resources like to do just that.

Monica, ever the social butterfly, has been an active member of the singles group for a while, as well as a few other groups via, and she was recently recruited to take over leadership of the group. That means she plans a portion of the events. It's like a part-time job, I swear.

There are so many great people in the world that we'll never get the chance to meet. So why is it that I find contrived social gatherings such as Monica's game party or other group gatherings to be so odd? I'm not anti-social, but I'm not anxious to meet a random group of people for any of the billions of activities and discussion groups that exist. Is Monica weird for having a group of people over to her house for games, a group that includes people she has never met? Is she weird for planning gatherings at bars and events for a group of people that anyone can join, no questions asked? Or am I weird for thinking is weird?

Evidence seems to point to the latter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

13. In memory of Karen? (unedited)

There's a woman I know, met several years ago, her name is Karen.

Karen and I are not great friends. Quite honestly we're not friends. We got to know each other, but we're not friends. We don't call each other, don't e-mail back and forth, and until a little over a year ago, we had pretty much ceased all contact with each other. Then she sent me an e-mail out of the blue, and we chatted a bit. Then a year went by without any contact between us. Then a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from her.

This afternoon I received an e-mail from Karen's old e-mail address. It didn't say who it was from, but it sounded like it came from a parent. (She lives with her parents, which sounds pathetic, but she helps take care of her ailing father, which is a big sacrifice to make.) The e-mail informed me that Karen had died in a car accident the night before. I was shocked.

I haven't seen Karen in years, and I had been meaning to e-mail her for about a week, as I needed to clear something up from our recent e-mail exchanges. I sent a reply to the e-mail, offering my condolences.

A few hours later I received an e-mail from Karen's primary e-mail account. Her old account had been hacked, and the hacker sent that message out to everybody in her old address book.

As far as hoaxes go, it was well executed.

But even me, a guy who likes to post profanity on a message forum and irritate people who are too stupid to think critically, didn't find there to be humor in the hoax. Sure, it was a relief to learn she was alive, but for a few hours my life was dogged by the thought of having lost somebody I have known for years. Not a relative, not a close friend, but someone I just had contact with a week ago.

Karen is a bit shaken by all of this. I'm usually good at sniffing out internet bullshit, but this one was unlike anything I had seen before, and as I said, well executed. The message was completely believable.

There are a lot of lousy people in this world. Karen is not one of them, not even close. The fact somebody would do this to her is all the more perplexing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

12. Welcome back, Regis (unedited)

Just read that it's official, Regis Philbin will be hosting two weeks of prime time "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" this summer.

It will have been 10 years since the show debuted in prime time on ABC. The show has never went away, but it has changed/evolved since that initial limited run, and for the most part, it's still entertaining. It was a surprise ratings success at a time when networks still viewed summer as a graveyard for prime time television.

It returned for additional limited runs and eventually became a weekly prime time fixture, being broadcast multiple times per week. That overkill is sometimes blamed for its demise as a prime time attraction.

That may or may not be true, but its demise in prime time coincided with its launch as a daily syndicated offering, a program that has survived for several years in the nebulous world of syndicated programming. It seems to be harder, the daily show, with less viewers, doesn't seem as eager to give away $1 million as the prime time version was, from what I have read. And like most shows, the formula has changed a little bit over the years. The pay structure was altered slightly, the lifelines have changed, too. And this season they've installed a clock on each question, keeping people from dwelling too long on one question. That's both good and bad, I think.

It's not the best quiz show on television, that title still belongs to Jeopardy! But WWTBAM is typically entertaining and I'm glad to see it returning to a format that served it well in the past. I will be interested to see what rules they use for its return in August and if they up the ante. The show returned previously as "Super Millionaire" with a $10 million prize for two short stints in 2004, (a fact stories I read today seemed to forget,) so it's quite possible that we'll see something on a grander scale than what's being done on the daytime show.

In a world where the only prime time hit game show the past few years has been the overly dramatic, simplistic "Deal or No Deal," I say "Welcome back, Regis."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

11. Public service (unedited)

Yep, I'm a jackass.

There's a Facebook application that I use to work for once upon a time. For all of five months I was paid a small monthly fee to create content and handle some miscellaneous tasks. I didn't have the power and authority to do any real damage to the program, but I had some responsibility, and the creative part was fun. The monthly paydays were nice bonuses in my Paypal account.

My five-month tenure ended because of some changes that were made to the application, changes that somewhat diminished the need for people like me. There were several of us doing similar jobs, and some of us were cut a month or two after a major change. The rest were cut four or five months later. I wasn't surprised.

I don't know the first thing about how Facebook applications work. All I know is that the dudes who created a knock off of Scrabble were making $25,000 per month, if you can believe the media, before Hasbro shut them down.

My application, which yes, is remaining nameless. All I know is that if you believe stats kept by Facebook, the application had about 55,000 unique users during a 30-day period last summer. Today that amount is less than 3,500.

The application was growing weekly, in both content and users, and seemed to be loved by most who used it. The problem was that the developers made a couple of major miscalculations in the application. They worked hard to meet the demands of the few, but I think one of their decisions was a major blunder. Add to that several smaller miscalculations and you have an application that could have been one of the biggest on Facebook. Instead it is all but dead.

The developers don't comment on the state of their application, but all signs point them leaving the application as is, to die on the vine. That's fine, expect one or two morons have taken it upon themselves to patrol the various message forums in the application and delete comments. That doesn't seem like such a bad idea, but the problem is that the idiot isn't just deleting comments that have profanity or attack other users, the idiot deletes other stuff. The first time it happened was when there was disagreement about a topic of discussion and people commented in ways that were not insulting, but in a few cases were judgmental, and more importantly, wrong.

I questioned why comments were being deleted, and never got an answer. A few weeks later I helped perpetuate a day long April Fool's Day joke. A few people made themselves out to be a bit of an ass, since the joke, started by me on March 31, was rather damning of another user, who was in on the whole thing. By Wednesday evening we spilled the beans for all to see. Hours later 95 percent of the posts were deleted, although not all of them containing my (false) accusations about another user. Again, no rhyme or reason for why most of an April Fool's Day prank was deleted.

Again I asked for an explanation for the deletions, and of course didn't get a response from anyone in charge.

So that's when I took it upon myself to start providing my public service. If some rogue moderator had an insatiable appetite for deleting, I was going to give him or her something to delete. I started by posting profanity. Eventually I realized I could post thousands of characters of text in one post, and would do so, by using a simple website that would generate truckloads of words, in numerous languages, in a matter of seconds.

And people hate it!

I don't blame them, it clutters up the page and makes it inconvenient to quickly ascertain if anybody has posted anything new regarding the topic of the moment. Many people criticize me for being annoying, childish, etc., and I respond by comparing myself to Jesus Christ or telling them they should be thanking me for protecting their comments from being deleted.

A few people have commented, publicly or otherwise, that they aren't going to get irritated about it. Sometimes my thousands of characters and the half-dozen posts within which they're contained are deleted in short order. Other times they remain for hours.

What I'm doing is known as "trolling" in internet speak. And I'd have tired of it, no matter how irritating some jackasses deletions of comments are, if not for the rubes. It is often said you need to ignore a troll for the troll to go away. It certainly doesn't take long for me to post a bunch of annoying messages, but the negative feedback I get is hilaroius, and certainly energizing.

I shouldn't be surprised, there are too many idiots in this world, and most of them, at least in developed nations, have internet access. So they're hypocritical, ironic comments about me are bound to show up on the message forums.

The application I once fondly worked for is all but dead, yet it is providing me with a wildly hysterical new source of entertainment. And it's worth it, even if 10 rubes think I'm an idiot. (Yeah, it's really that small of a group.) The joke is on them, but nine of them are too stupid to know it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

10. N36 (unedited)

It's late, again, so I'll just throw a bunch of stuff out there to keep the streak alive. At least I'm not in bed yet.

Following up the bingo talk, I found my way to the bingo hall about six years ago because I wanted some part-time income, but really didn't want to work at Target or some crummy retail job like that. There's an inherent coolness factor to being a poor journalist who works at a bookstore, evidently, but that didn't seem very appealing to me.

I have long been in love with the sound of my voice. I doubt I'm going to make a living off of commercial voice overs, but you could do a lot worse than mine. Years ago I worked as a deejay at bars. Not cool, trendy bars where you mixed the latest hipster dance tunes. Typically the bars I worked at were a bit lackluster when it came to the size, and sophistication, of the crowd. Eventually I wound up at a sports bar where I was a glorified channel jockey, changing the cable television feed for various TVs around the building while playing rather bland music. I worked some Thursday nights, and those were kind of fun, because we had a big promotion that was dependent upon a little creativity and personality behind the mic.

Eventually I tired of that and took a break from part-time work. When I decided it was time to make extra cash, I was reminded of a trip to a casino where I had played bingo. The work was kind of dull and repetitive, but it beat dealing with morons at Super America, I figured.

I have earned progressively less as I have moved from part-time job to part-time job, which is stupid. It's not the lucrative hourly wage that keeps me going back to the bingo hall, it's the ability to have a part-time gig waiting for me from November through April, based upon my availability. Hard to argue with that.

The employees and customers of the bingo hall come in all shapes and sizes, literally. There are the requisite little old ladies, and the not-so-little people. Holy cow, no pun intended.

You get nice people who enjoy talking to the employees, and then there are the grouches whose lives are so miserable that if they won $1 million, they'd bitch about having to wait so long to win it.

I've had a few memorable run-ins with complete morons, but when the day is over, I don't go home to a life as miserable as theirs, so it doesn't bother me much.

I work with an eclectic cast of characters. Some are parents, some are young and potentially have their whole life ahead of them. Some are tragic figures, like Al, who has a college degree and was once married, but a car accident has left him a shell of his former self. He worked there for years, but was fired about a year ago, although I'm not sure why. He use to get irritated about the way things were run around there. He must have hit the breaking point.

I won't soon forget John. He worked full time elsewhere as well as part time at the bingo hall. One night after work a bunch of us gathered for beers and he explained how he ended up in the U.S. He was from England, was married once, ended up married a second time to a woman from the states. He eventually became a shift manager at the bingo hall, and sometime after he quit he was indicted for skimming something like $65K from the books of a nonprofit group he served as treasurer of. I seem to recall he was convicted, but got off with a seemingly light sentence.

I'd love to see a biopic about some of my coworkers. I know a few odds and ends about their lives, but I'd really like to get a closer look. I'm not going to start asking probing questions, but I can't help but wonder how or why things are the way they are for some of my co-workers.

It's a weird, weird world out there. Bingo helps me keep in touch with the weirdest of the weird.

9. N35 (unedited)

I nearly forgot to write my blog. I was laying in bed two minutes ago when it occurred to me that my online poker playing kept me from taking care of business.

Given how late it is, this will be short and sweet.

I have to stop working at the bingo hall.

I have worked at an area bingo hall for nearly six years. I started by working two to three times per week, and nearly quit after a couple of years because I was irritated and figured I could easily replace the chump change I earned at the bingo hall.

They offered me the opportunity to stay at the bingo hall on an on-call basis, and I accepted. Within a year or so I realized I had the perfect winter job. I decided what months I would work, asked for the number of shifts I wanted on a weekly basis, and life was perfect.

Except for the fact that I don't ever get a raise from year to year, and the novelty of dealing with the riff raff that patronizes the bingo hall, and there's plenty of it, wears off in a hurry.

Last spring, just before I departed for the season, the bingo hall fired the overnight cleaning guy. I think it was for a combination of reasons. End result: the evening shift workers every night have to do cleaning at the end of the shift.

That's not so bad on a weeknight when you'd otherwise work four hours, but on weekends, when there's a matinee and evening session, the after hours cleaning can be a bit much.

Last winter I was working both shifts on Sundays, about nine hours a week, through the winter. It's not backbreaking work, but after nine hours at a bingo hall, you don't really want to hang around. And after two sessions, an extra 30-45 minutes of cleaning is of no interest to me.

And that's a lot of the reason why I decided to come back this winter for one shift per Sunday: the afternoon shift. I could use the extra cash, but the idea of being there for up to 10 hours, and finishing off my evening with vacuuming and other such crap held little appeal to me.

On Saturday I got a call from Rachel, one of the sweetest girls I know. She has asked me to pick up a shift a couple of times this winter, and I have had to turn her down for one reason or another. When she called yesterday, I had no reason to say no. Given I didn't work the past two weekends, and wanted to work one double shift this winter, for old-times sake, I said yes.

I was sore and tired from 10 hours of working on Sunday.

My Sunday marathon reminded me I don't want to work double shifts any time soon, and given I never get a pay raise at my lousy paying job, I have to do something I promised myself I'd do last spring, walk away from the bingo hall.

Yep, another part of me has to die in 2009, the part of me that works at the bingo hall in the winter.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

8. Economics (unedited)

I've seen three performances by artists from the hair band era so far this year. Increasingly I wonder how the economics of their live shows work.

We'll start with Mr. Hair Plug, Bret Michaels. His band, Poison, sold a ton of records and had a lot of MTV hits back in the day. After spending much of the 90s out of the spotlight, they reunited and found a way to market their nostalgia act. They do a good job of it. They limit their gigs to summer concerts and have packaged their product in different ways over the years, and wisely so. Michaels has taken to performing as a solo act in recent years, and thanks to some VH1 genius who saw the potential of Michaels as the star of a poor man's version of "The Bachelor," his solo show is generating more cash than ever, or than it should be.

A few weekends ago I saw L.A. Guns at a glorified bar in the far north metro. This band has made a habit of playing gigs in Minnesota more than once per year, thanks, perhaps, to the fact that their management firm is based in St. Paul. L.A. Guns did okay back in the day, but they're not nearly as memorable, or weren't nearly as beloved, as Poison.

Let's pretend that their show from a month ago sold out all 500+ tickets at $12-$15. To keep it simple, we'll assume 500 tickets were sold at the "door" price of $15. That means the bar sold $7,500 worth of tickets. How much does the bar pay the band to play? Given the band doesn't tour the country like it back in the day, it typically books weekend tours, playing two to three shows over a weekend in one area. The band is based in Los Angeles, so a three-night stint anywhere else in the country means travel. I have no idea how the band travels, but it has been suggested the band flies into an area, then travels be vehicle to each destination before returning to the airport.

You have airfare, car rental, hotel and food costs for that weekend. And although the band doesn't have an entourage traveling with it, there are support people with the band. And where does the equipment come from? Assuming the band received the $7,500 in ticket sales as its performance fee, (therefore leaving the bar relying upon drink sales for its income that night,) is that enough to make it worth all the time, effort and expense to travel for a three-day run in the midwest?

By the way, even if the bar "sold out," as I was told, there weren't 500 people there. And as is often the case, there were likely a percentage of people in the bar who did not pay $12 or $15 to be there. So I doubt the bar took in $7,500 in ticket sales, and I doubt the band was paid that much. I'm a bit puzzled by how the economics of that show work.

And if you think that's perplexing, let's look at the BulletBoys. L.A. Guns has a small, but loyal fan base. I'm not sure there are more than five people in the country who would call themselves die-hard BulletBoys fans.

So on a Friday night in late February, the BulletBoys headlined a show at a venue that would have been laughed at by the Bulletboys back in the day. That show would have cost me $10 had I not "won" tickets from a local radio station.

If more than 200 people paid $10 to see the band, I'm surprised. That means the bar sold $2,000 worth of tickets. I can promise you the bar wasn't delusional enough to expect the BulletBoys to generate $5,000 in ticket sales, so I can only assume they didn't pay the BulletBoys $5,000. The BulletBoys just can't command that kind of money, so how can they afford to tour?

Not only did they play in the Twin Cities on a Friday night, they played in Mankato the night before. Mankato, a college town about 90 minutes south of the Twin Cities. The youngest of those college students weren't even born when the BulletBoys released their first CD. Most of them probably couldn't tell you one thing about the BulletBoys. And while there are probably a few tired, aged headbangers from back in the day lurking around Mankato, I can't honestly think the BulletBoys are drawing more than 100 people in Mankato on a Thursday night.

And unlike L.A. Guns, BulletBoys are on an extended tour of clubs around the U.S., as if they're a hot commodity with a product to sell. They have no new material, they have no die-hard fans, they're lucky to playing anywhere in Minnesota. A good local band will draw more than the BulletBoys will in Minneapolis, I guarantee it.

Yet 20 years after their debut, the lead singer and three anonymous dudes are getting paid something to perform in Minnesota. Somebody please explain that one to me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

7. The week that was (unedited)

I made it through my first week of blogging. I've managed to avoid writing the long-delayed final chapter of my trip to Mexico, but I honored the Dancing Queen, which is something I wanted to do.

Thanks to Bob Barker's cameo on The Price is Right I was finally inspired to write about Bob's fraudulent "best of" DVD collection, something that has been on my mind for about a month. I may not have done the best job of making my point, and I shouldn't have tackled the topic in the wee hours of Thursday night, but that water is under the bridge.

I certainly didn't expect to end up writing about the loss of a friendship for two consecutive days, or how meaningless my life is, and how I plan to die trying to find a meaning to it, but life isn't all hearts and flowers. I wish it was, but it's not.

I had hoped to go to the bar with Doug and catch up on life, but that didn't happen tonight, and that's fine. I am tired, I had a busy week at the newspaper. That's not a bad thing, but my satisfaction because of it is tempered by the fact I work in a dying industry. Oh well.

I went to my first game at the Big Inflatable Toilet on Wednesday night, and watched the Twins get destroyed by Toronto, 12-2. And I didn't get sick off of the $1 hot dogs.

It was a good week.

6. Bob Barker is a fraud (unedited)

Yeah, I'm a "The Price is Right" fan. I've been to tapings of the show, I've watched it since I was a youngster and although I'm not an expert on TPIR trivia, I know plenty about its history.

While I can't say it authoritatively, I can say confidently that Bob Barker is a bit of a fraud.

Thursday was a day that was surely celebrated by many TPIR fans. Bob made a cameo during the showcases of Thursday's show to promote a new book he wrote. I have no idea what the book is or isn't about, but I'm sure it leaves out the lurid details of his life.

Bob was married for many years, and he has a charitable foundation named in honor of his wife. That's all well and good, but most of us who have watched the show for two decades or more remember that in the years following his wife's death, he ended up in a relationship with one of the models on his show.

That relationship wasn't common knowledge, I don't think. It seems to me that the reason it became a hot topic was the fact he was being implicated in some sort of discrimination or wrongful termination action by the model who he was diddling.

I can't say as I blame him for hooking up with a babe 20 or 25 years younger than him, and it's not like he was married, so there's nothing wrong with the relationship. But in the last 15 or so years of his TPIR career, he was accused of several punitive actions involving the models on his show.

Bob became rather powerful as host of TPIR. He became more than just a host, he became an executive of the show, and that gave him leverage to fire people at will.

But his powers weren't limited to hiring and firing models. In the 1970s there were plenty of fur coats given away as prizes on the show. At some point Bob became an animal activist. Eventually the show stopped giving away furs.

For a while in the 1990s the fledgling Game Show Network broadcast old episodes of the show, but not those where furs were given away. Bob made sure that didn't happen.

For whatever reason the Game Show Network's license to rebroadcast the show was withdrawn several years ago by the ownership of TPIR. I'm not sure how much Bob had to do with it, but I can only suspect that there's no chance the decision will be reversed as long as Bob is still alive. Will Bob's death change that? Hard to say.

While the old shows have been archived, again, for several years, a small collection of them surfaced in the past two years. This collection was billed as a "best of" collection, but it's not. It's not close to a "best of" collection.

The collection has a couple of gems, including black-and-white episodes from the 50s, when the show was very different than Barker's version, and was hosted by Bill Cullen. Those shows aren't that exciting, but it's interesting to see the first vision of the show. I had never seen the show in its original incarnation.

The rest of the collection, however, is predominantly from the early 1970s. The episodes are mostly from when the show was a 30-minute presentation, and it provides a look at a few pricing games that ultimately failed. It's a lot of fun to see people playing games for new cars valued at less than $3,000. There are lots of subtle difference between the shows of 1973 and the shows of 2009.

Yet for all the great moments and games that appeared between 1976 and 2006, there's no sign of them in the collection. It jumps from 1975 to 2007, and features the final five episodes of Bob's tenure.

Why do you suppose that is? I'm not sure if there's any financial benefit for the models who appeared in those episodes, but Bob has made a conscious effort to erase Janice, Dian, Holly and Kathleen from TPIR history. Do I know that for a fact? No, but I'd be stunned if the effort to exorcise them from TPIR history has been driven by anyone else on the staff.

Janice was the longest-tenured model on the show, starting with its launch in 1972 until she was dismissed in 2000. She, along with Kathleen, the first African-American model who was hired in 1990, were dismissed. Allegedly they were going to be reassigned within the parent company of TPIR, but it is commonly believed that they were pulled off the show in retaliation for their testimony in legal wranglings involving Bob.

Because Janice was there on day 1, she is featured in all those early '70s shows, alongside Anitra, a model who left in '76. It wasn't until '75 that Dian was added as a third model. She does appear in the first, regular hour-long version of the show, included in the collection, but she's otherwise left out. I'm surprised she even appears once given the fact she's the model that Bob had a consensual relationship with for some period of time prior to her dismissal and the beginning of Bob's legal wranglings.

It's obvious that the DVD collection is avoiding the longest-tenured models on the show as much as possible. It wasn't the only time the quartet was snubbed, either.

Toward the end of Bob's reign over TPIR there was a special prime-time tribute show that featured flashbacks between pricing games. Shockingly the foursome was snubbed during that tribute, too.

Everybody loves Bob, and he was a great emcee. And when it comes to animals, his heart is probably in the right place. But his lovable emcee persona was tarnished in the final 15 or so years of his career, and it seems that he's a petty man who holds a grudge because a group of women dared to defy him.

I don't care what his book is about, I will be skeptical of the content if I ever bother to read it, because Bob is a bit of a fraud.