Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey has died.

Harvey's voice is synonymous with radio and instantly recognizable by anyone. Nearly every AM radio station I ever worked at carried his "news and commentary", not to mention his "Rest of the Story" program.

He was one of a kind. His delivery was unmatched. He didn't just read the news...he told a story. He plugged advertisers the old-fashioned with a personal spin. He was the elder statesman of radio news...and commentary.

I've long since said goodbye to radio, but Paul never did. I honestly thought he'd outlive us all.

Thank you Paul...Good day!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Rocky Mountain Blues

Place: Planet Sub
Lunch: Beefeater, Lays potato chips, Coke

Denver is now a one-newspaper town. The Rocky Mountain News, one of Denver's two operating newspapers, published its last issue today.

Scripps, the paper's owner, broke the news to staffers Thursday. They were advised to clean out their personal effects that day, though Reuters reported Scripps is being good enough to keep them on the payroll through April 28.

The Rocky's website is full of stories, columns, and blogs by their writers saying goodbye, talking about their love for the newspaper, and as you might expect, overstating the paper's importance in history.

In the days when I would buy papers while traveling (who NEEDS newspapers with the Internet anymore), I preferred the Rocky over the Post. Can't remember why, but it was a pretty good paper.

This is happening in a number of cities that have two main newspapers. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is likely to be the next victim.

It's not surprising. Even before the Internet, cities with multiple dailies were bemoaning viability. The most common cost cutting measure has been "JOA's" (Joint Operating Agreements), sharing printing facilities and/or even some of the advertising...classifieds were often one edition stuffed into both papers.

Today, one has to wonder why printed pages are needed at all. You can make the same paper in the same layout online and publish it for far less. And you can do SO much more, with links to additional resources and video and audio. Plus you can do it all instantly. No more publishing deadlines to get stories together in time to print a paper copy and send the "latest news" to subscribers a day later.

Strip down your staff to writers and an editor who can publish the article to your server with the click of a mouse and support the whole thing with advertising (because, let's face it...paid online news subscriptions is a proven disaster of a business model.) You don't even need offices. Everybody could work from home. I don't know why I don't work from home. I'm a fax machine short of having every resource my sad little office cubicle offers.
Sure I might miss my crappy uncomfortable office chair and the smell of burnt microwave popcorn from the break room, but I'd survive.

That's pretty much true about ANY white collar desk job. We could have easily solved the (completely phony and manufactured) oil and/or gas "demand" price hike scam, not to mention slashed auto pollution levels, at any time in the last five years with the advancement of high-speed internet by simply stopping the work commute and dialing in from home.

Still, it's a bit of a shock to the system to see a paper like the RMN, which has been in business since 1859...150 years...go down the drain.

Best of luck to the RMN's writers and employees. I'm sure the writers are already starting up blogs to fill the hours, if they haven't done so previously anyway...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

National Chili Day

Place: George the Chili King
Lunch: Chili cup, onion rings, Pepsi

George the Chili King is an old narrow shack with 14 stools, 2 tables, and a drive-in canopy. Total dive. Totally awesome dive. Excellent tenderloins.

It's National Chili Day. I know this because it was on the radio. You remember radio, right? Maybe not.

In an "earlier this week" coincidence, I was rolling my shopping cart down the candy aisle at Walmart looking for Andes mints. Remember when Chi-Chi's was awesome? It was in the eighties when they gave you Andes mints with the check. Then they quit. Now there's no more Chi-Chi's. The entire restaurant industry should learn from this.

Meanwhile back at Walmart, I'm wandering the candy aisle and I spot a chocolate bar from Lindt that I had not seen before. The flavor...Chili.

Are you nuts? Of COURSE I got one. And then the Easter candy is out so I had to get some Cadbury eggs and some Whoppers Robins Eggs know what's dumb? I don't really eat all that much candy to begin with.

Meanwhile, I head home with my Andes mints, Cadbury eggs, Whoppers Robins Eggs, and my Lindt Chili bar. And Ravioli-O's. I got a few cans of those too.

So I get home and open the Lindt bar.

It's dark chocolate, but has a sweetness to it that...yes...may come from a red chili pepper.

And it's spicy! Not TOO just has a nice kick to it.

That's totally neato.

I would make a Steak n Shake dinner run after work to close out National Chili Day properly, but the weather forecast includes freezing rain tonight and there's a new CSI on anyway.

But I have some Skyline in the pantry.

Chili 3-Way it is.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm Thinking Stupid

Place: Arby's
Lunch: Large beef n' cheddar, potato cakes, chocolate malt swirl shake

So I order a "medium chocolate malt swirl shake" and the counter girl says "It only comes in one size", killing all momentum in the ordering process.

"Fine," I say.

Then I order potato cakes. "What size?"

Moment of pause..."I don't care."

She doesn't push the issue.

So why is this shake so special that it can be ordered only in one size? Because it's sold in a special clear cup, unlike their other shakes. Why is it sold in a special clear cup? So you can see the chocolate swirl that looks so nice in the advertising pictures. Because that's all the swirl is...decoration.

They take a chocolate sauce, squirt a pattern around the inside of the cup, and put a milkshake in it.

There's no swirl within the milkshake at all.

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen.

Oh...And you'd think if they're going to lay out the name with all the ingredients listed, they might have included "coffee" in the name, since there's coffee flavor in it too.

But they didn't.

Bottom line...If you want a malt, go to Dairy Queen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Simply Oscar

Place: Fazoli's
Lunch: Tortellini Robusto, side of meatballs, Coke

Holy CRAP this is good. This may be the best thing Fazoli's has ever come up with...and that's saying something.

I don't get it. Why don't more people eat here?

I watched the Academy Awards last night for the first time since...probably since American Beauty was nominated, actually. Beautiful set. Lousy musical productions. Hugh Jackman did...okay as host. When they did the tribute to those who passed away in the last year, I wondered "Wait...When did HE die" probably a half dozen times. When Jerry Lewis came out, I wondered "Wait...He's still alive?" And whose idea was it to prop up Sophia Loren? And why was Tina Fey there? Has she ever been nominated for anything? Why do people even like Tina Fey?

I didn't see a single one of the movies nominated for Best Picture. Not a single one. "Slumdog Millionaire" was the big winner of the night. They threw so many Oscars at it, I'm surprised it didn't win "Best Animated Feature".

I didn't care for the way they had five actors/actresses come out and pay tribute to each nominee for Best/Supporting Actor/Actress. These are previous winners...supposed masters of their craft, and with the exception of Robert DeNiro, none of them were even remotely capable of acting natural while reading a teleprompter.

Same goes with most of the rest of the presenters.

So I was complaining a week or two ago about Simply Limeade disappearing from local store shelves. Now the shelf labels where it was stocked are disappearing least for the large bottles. The individual ones are still around. But I found the large bottles to be in plentiful supply in Minnesota over the weekend, so it must just be the local distributor that's abandoning it.

I can deal with that.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Farewell Larry H

Larry H. Miller died today.

The guy came from basically nothing to build an empire in Utah and the west. Car dealerships, the Utah Jazz, a race track, and my favorite place to watch movies anywhere.

He was one of the few people in this world I really would have loved to meet. He was a hero to me.

God be with you, Larry. And thank you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Radio HDTV

Place: Burger King
Lunch: 6-pack BK Burger Shots, fries, Dr Pepper

SIGNS YOUR LOCAL BK LETS THE FOOD SIT AROUND TOO LONG: My order of fries had a hash round at the bottom of it. You know...those mini tater tots they sell at breakfast?

These Burger Shots are pretty good. But I still wish they'd bring back the BK Tacos here.

On February 17, some of the broadcast television stations across the country shut down their analog transmitters and became full-time digital stations. This was supposed to happen with ALL stations, but the government decided not enough poor people were ready for the transition and asked (in some cases forced) stations to delay the transition to June 12.

My argument against the delay was simple...There's a certain level of the marketplace who are never going to switch until they absolutely have to. Make the switch. They'll suddenly find the $40 it takes to get a converter box if they haven't already gotten the coupon.

But I digress...

Two of our local stations converted on the original date. This morning, I overheard a conversation at the office about this. Co-worker #1 was telling Co-worker #2 that she couldn't listen to our NBC affiliate anymore because of the digital switch.

Notice that I said "listen", right?

Because she's not talking about watching the channel at home...she's talking about listening to the channel on a radio with a TV tuner at work during the day.

Some of you may have not even known such a radio existed. But it's true...There's companies out there who make real radios with AM, FM, and TV bands so you can listen to TV stations just like you would a radio station. They've been available for years.

That got me thinking. Is anybody making a portable radio with an ATSC tuner that can hear high definition TV broadcasts yet?

So I scanned the web. I Googled, I checked Amazon, I checked C Crane.




The market is wide open for somebody to take advantage.

I am genuinely surprised nobody thought about this.

So note to the electronics industry...Get your act together.

And note to the local television stations...Get YOUR act together and start broadcasting local HD news, commercials, and graphics. We have ONE station in the market with HD switching and full graphic insert capability...and it's our CW affiliate.

You cheap lazy bastards.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fat Portland Bastards

Place: KFC-Taco Bell
Lunch: Triple layer nachos, nachos supreme (no tomato), Pepsi

I've probably ranted previously about the price some Taco Bells are charging for the Cheesy Double Beef Burrito, which is advertised at 89 cents. But this location takes the cake...A BUCK FIFTY NINE. That's ALASKA level gouging.

While getting my drink, a couple is admiring the nutrition facts document. "400 calories!" the woman exclaims about some chicken item. Like she should be surprised.

Apparently, some state governments think you should be forced to know better. Multnomah County, Oregon (that would be Portland, basically) just passed legislation requiring calorie content of food items be listed right alongside the food on the menu board, in the same font and same font size as the menu item itself.

IMAGINE what menu boards will look like now.

Yet another reason to be embarrassed of my hometown.

I am REALLY getting fed up with the food Nazis.

The funny thing about this calorie deal is who it's really going to hurt...The Panera Breads in the world. When you see the calorie count in THEIR fancy sandwiches and salads, you'll be running to McDonald's for a healthy McDouble.

Speaking of unhealthy, what's the deal with Simply Limeade? I was going to pick up a bottle in Target last week and they were out. And, as I found out later, so is Walmart, Cub Foods, and a second Target I went to the other day.

This too annoys me terribly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Are you LEAVING me?!?

Place: Taco Time
Lunch: (Well, dinner, but...) 2 crispy tacos (no tomato), crispy chicken burrito, Coke

Ten minutes to get my food. I know this because they have a computer monitor that tracks the time it takes to fulfill an order. Ten minutes. It had better be hot and fresh. (It is. It always is.)

So I'm sitting there eating my food and across the dining room I see a young couple talking. They both have their arms folded on the edge of the table and they are leaning over the table. They are talking quietly, but intensely. The girl, in particular has a lot to say. The guy occasionally retorts. But it's the girl's last words that are unmistakable...

Are you LEAVING me?!?

He is. He totally is. He stands up, makes some gesture with his finger like he's pulling a ring off, but I don't actually see a ring.

She's sitting there, mouth wide open. She gets up, takes the food tray, dumps it, and walks out. He walks out behind her, they get in separate cars and leave.

That was totally awesome.

The most awesome part about this is that it's only the second time in the history of the world I've seen a girl dumped in public...and the other time was ALSO at a fast food taco stand.

That was in 1986 at the Taco Bell in Albany, Oregon. They were teenagers. He said everything. She sat there and stewed. She showed tears. He left her sitting there alone. It was really mean.

Moral of this story...Ladies, if your boyfriend invites you to meet him for tacos...don't go.