Saturday, July 29, 2006


No, it's simply rain-based-erosion 'mitigation' put in place by our land developer... without really talking to us about what it would be. What it would be is white rocks (I believe called Bull Rock) in maybe 150 foot strips, from our property onto the next lot which is undeveloped; rocks which were then covered in mulch.

The thing is, the Landscape Review Board would never approve such a thing. We are trying to have it taken away.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


2nd Quarter 2006.

Now just for a moment - think about standing there watching your pump top $30, $40, maybe $50 a fill.

Hold the feeling.

Hold it.



Profit. 2nd highest by a company ever. 1st was Exxon 4th Q last year.

But the high price is 'market conditions.'

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


...terrorists killed hundreds of thousands of people a year in the US? What if they killed about 400,000 in 2006? Would we pull out all the big guns, hunt them down and wipe them off the face of the earth? Sure we would. And those who did the dirty work would be heroes!

What if they also made many more sick?

What if they also addicted many more to a drug?

What IS a mass weapon of destruction anyway? Ten years or so, 4 million deaths, countless more sick, some very very sick, many addicted.

So exactly why is tobacco legal?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Austin is reportedly thinking about installing automatic cameras that catch red light cheaters. You get busted and are sent a picture of your car going through the red light and a ticket for same.

While sitting at the barber shop, I read a Car and Driver magazine. In the back was an ad for some stuff you spray on your license plate which makes it too shiny for the photo cop to see your plate. Right. I'll bet it works too.

Amazing how no matter what it is, someone's got the solution.

Except for war. AIDS. Cancer. Hunger. Poverty. Etc.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Something profound occurs to me once every ten years. And sometimes it's in disguise.

Think about this: Things that used to be expensive are becoming cheaper. Things that used to be very cheap are becoming expensive.

What's that mean? More importantly, where does it LEAD?

Okay - here are the examples that flashed through my mind: RAM. Good old computer memory... when I bought my first Megabyte in 1985 it cost me over $800 for my Apple 2C. Or IIC - I don't remember that, just that the Z-RAM ULTRA UPGRADE was that much.

Now you can get a Gig or two for, what? $20? (After rebates, no doubt.) Price went down as supply went up. Tech got better at making chips too.

Yet WATER has become very expensive. Not uncommon to pay $1 for 16 ounces or so. I've been in hotels (LA) where it was close to $5 for a quart! A stable supply (unless you count the melting icecaps.)

So I'm trying to figure out - what's going down, what's going UP - in the future? There's money to be made. My best guess so far: AIR is going to go up. You don't think so? Maybe ionized, oxygen rich, scented AIR will sell big in, oh, say, industrialized cities. The only problem is how it supports combustion, but there must be a packaging solution.

What's going UP? Gas-o-line. A bird farts and the price rises. Some fool leaves a valve open and a refinery launches itself. And the price rises. Somebody invents a car that runs on water, and the price of gas rises. I admit that I - mister V8 lust - have started to eye the hybrids.

Friday, July 21, 2006


This 'bar' is unopened. Maybe you can tell how little 'bar' is in there. I squished the air space to show you - the 'bar' starts at about the "S" of "Skippy."

Never mind that it tastes like peanut butter candle. This is simply another example of sinister packaging forces at work. The Rat Bastards!


Have you had your cute today?


I noted a brief story about a giant cruise ship "rolling" and injuring passengers. Wanting to know more, I paid attention, but was unrewarded. All I could find was a 'steering problem.' Hey, that's great damage control. You have this GIANT cruise ship with a wobbly rudder or more likely a serious computer problem, and the story just goes away... not in our paper... 5 seconds on tv. Well, heck, I guess I just missed the coverage... this from... The Taipei Times!

"A new luxury cruise ship that made its debut sailing last month listed heavily after leaving Port Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday, injuring dozens of passengers, two of them critically, when people were flung across decks and down stairways." Read More

''It seemed like a 10.0 earthquake,'' Sagastume said. ``People had blood all over them. There was glass everywhere. Children were screaming. Elderly people were crying.''

Sagastume said no alarms went off as the ship was tipping, but the captain made an announcement shortly afterward.

''His voice was jittery and in shock,'' Sagastume said. ``You could tell he was just as panicked as the rest of us.
More from this report

Speaking of news, day before yesterday Brian Williams cemented me to NBC news with what I would term a perfect newscast. He, for my money, is at the very top of the game (as are the reporters and writers). They brought the Israel-Lebanon conflict into sharp focus and did it with real humanity. Sorry, Katie, for me, the train has left the station and you are left back on the platform.

Nice to see something that good come out of television these days, even though the news was tragic. Believe me, they handled it very VERY well.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I have a lot to do today. Seriously.

But I am fighting the urge to go to Starbucks and overspend on a latte which would wake me up. I'll bet it wins. I am so sleepy for some reason.

This past weekend (whiplash subject change there) we sailed with friends, and amazingly, of all the sailing vacations we've had, I only steered once, despite many offers. But Saturday evening I steered for quite a while (do they even CALL it steering? I doubt it - there must be a nautical term.) Anyway, I was good at it, enjoyed it a lot, though the 38 foot Bavarian sailboat is very stable. I 'get' why people do this.


Okay, I can get to Starbucks and back in 20 minutes or less. I will be more productive.

Apparently sleepy doesn't reach into the center of rationalization.


A close friend (Geoff Fox - see his link to the right side of this page) suggests how hard it would be to name paint chip colors. I, on the other hand, think it would be fun. Not that they'd ever USE my sarcastic names for colors.

Pink: White Boy Accountant

You get the idea.

Yellow: 3 hour old Baby Diaper Stain

Now there are shades of shades and I'm being blunt for comedic effect. I do have certain sensitivity.

A delicate hue might be Kate Moss Freckle.

Or a bright color might be Cameron Dazzle.

You get the point.

I am unemployable.


You probably missed the latest radio news. Not news ON the radio, news OF radio. Just as well. It was more staff cutting - this time the blood bath at CBS stations. As you may know, my history includes 30 years plus in that biz, which has changed to a shadow of its former self. Someone sent me the item below. I think it's worth putting up for those who may care. The author, if it is the one well known, was highly placed in several companies along his career path, and was a good guy, highly talented.


by Steve Rivers
July 13, 2006


The other night I was walking through downtown Burbank and saw a homeless
guy sleeping on one of the benches. As I normally do, I stopped and offered
some money, which he gratefully accepted. I asked if I could sit and ask a
few questions. The guy said, "sure," and we struck up a conversation.

I asked him what his story was and how he ended up here. He told me he was
a Vet, a former Marine and he has struggled on the streets for many years.
He's tried panhandling, a task he finds demeaning and how he has to compete
with other day workers just to survive. He's tried temp-work until that
dried up. I asked him why he didn't just stay in the Marines. He said they
didn't want him. At the time he was in Corps, there was no major combat
going on, since it '75 and we hadn't seen the likes of Desert Storm yet. As
always, the truth is always somewhere in between. Who knows, maybe he was
discharged on a Section Eight., but I don't think so. He was lucid and

With over one million veterans homeless and on the streets you would think
America could come up with something positive for these brave men and women
who served their country. Think about it - one MILLION vets out there on
the streets, discarded like trash. Yesterday's news. That's certainly no
way to show respect.

It got me thinking about our business. Aren't we guilty of the same thing?

Because of companies gobbling each other up in a shark feeding frenzy, good
talented people have been displaced, forced to take some other line of work
and to leave the business they love, spent their whole life in. Sure, there
are some who probably deserved to be let go, but when I read about the cuts
going on in one of the radio stations where I used to program I had to shake
my head. Some of these people had been at that radio station for 10, 12,
even 20 years. It's that kind of stability that made that radio station
GREAT. Their knowledge of the market was an intangible that money couldn't
buy. When will this industry wake up?

Bean Counters

The bean counters are running the place and they make their decisions in
some cushy offices somewhere in Austin, New York, Atlanta or wherever
without giving any thought to the lives they are affecting. To them, the
cuts are not personal - just business. Bullshit. It is personal, and for
what? A few pennies here and there. What corporate radio doesn't
understand is that without special, creative people to man their stations
all they have is a shell of a radio station. If you don't believe that,
just scan the dial. There is nothing magical happening.

Growing companies larger has been good for the owners, but that's about it.
We've created some piss-poor version of a cookie cutter assembly line.
We're certainly not creating great radio. And HD Radio - what a joke. A
band-aid on a car crash victim.

I have to laugh today when I hear some of the same verbiage I used in
liners, sweepers and IDs over 20 years ago. The same formatics heard today
on many stations have not been updated for years. I don't get it.

The promos heard on these stations make me cringe, and I don't think the
fault lies at the station level. We're cutting staff and doubling or
tripling their workload. Programmers are asked to "oversee" two, three or
four stations. There is no way you can give any of those the proper
attention, so they go on autopilot. And they sound like it.

I gotta give Jeff Smulyan credit to have the balls to do what I thought
would never see happen - take his company private so he can better control
his destiny. I've always admired Emmis. They're great broadcasters and
truly care about their people, and they create great radio.

So, Mr. Corporate Radio, instead of worrying about listeners using I-Pods,
downloading music or switching to satellite radio, why don't you do
something about it? Give your stations back to the people who can create
magic. Radio is not dead - but we have placed it on life support.

Radio stations can be magical places if given the dedication and time to
nurture them so they can become part of the community they serve.

To that homeless Marine I found in Burbank this weekend, if no else gives
you the respect you deserve ... know I do. Semper Fi!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Google had rated this site nicely. It's a measure of links and depth of the site. Somehow I've lost it all. There's no appeals court. Maybe a server is down or maybe our 6 power failures tonight had something to do with it. It's disappointing to see it build and build then go right off the cliff.

I can't stop writing - it's IN me and I have to get it out. Still, it's nice to have some recognition!

PS: Google spell check doesn't know the word GOOGLE!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Just back from three days in the Houston area. Almost like a vacation - a great concert - Steely Dan PLUS Michael McDonald, great friends, an evening cruise on their fabulous sailboat, and just plain flat out fun. On the way home we detoured to look at a furniture store which we thought might have something to go with what we have here... driving right by the old places I used to eat lunch, a block from the old radio station (circa 1990).

More fun: seeing our old neighborhood and even a former neighbor! Her then 12 year old is now a DOCTOR. Time flies.

Houston is one seriously big city. You get used to the pace of Austin and forget... actually, it's pretty darn impressive. It does take a while to get used to the traffic again, though. And distances.

What a show! What a time!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Politics these days leaves a taste in my mouth like licking a zinc fence would. Or I think it would. I haven't done that.

It seems - and it may just be a bad mood on my part - that there are incredibly bad moves, waste and corruption EVERYWHERE these days. Even Brian Williams in the Brokaw chair seems to have an "I don't believe this!" edge to some of the stories.

Ethics in congress - an oxymoron.

Hey, Boston, nice Big Dig project there. Where do you want to start laying the blame - who managed that mess? The roof falls and crush-kills a poor woman in her car.

Speaking of the K card, Senator McCain wants to kill the F-22 (billions wasted in cost overruns.) Note, I'm not saying he's wrong. The thing is WAY over budget and likely unnecessary. Oh - each plane costs something like - oh - $260 MILLION a copy.

And those geniuses at NASA spent about that much on 'fixing' the foam that fell off the shuttle again. What on earth or any planet did they GET with that money?

And the billions of waste in Katrina.

The now-civil war in Iraq. More Billions wasted. The cost in lives. Rape, murder. Ah, we look good to the rest of the world, eh?

Who's in charge?

Can we get a 'do-over?'

Our legislators suffer from budget gluttony. Partisanship makes them all impotent most of the time. Leadership is a joke, is finger pointing and gesticulation without substance. Sound bites. Spin.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


A four foot snake was just spotted crossing our driveway. Actually, it had no feet and I couldn't tell if it was spotted. The good news was it was leaving these here parts. The bad news is it was IN these here parts in order to leave.

Sure hope it didn't leave some little 'uns.


A tooth walks into a bank and shouts, "Gimme all your money! I have a gum!" Followed by catcalls and boos.

I dreamt that as part of a dream about a commercial. Something about "Dentistry is no laughing matter."


Bush, on Iran: 'We might have to go to war over their nuclear program.'
Bush, on North Korea: 'We need a consensus of other nations.'
Do you think midterm elections are looming? This is all SO transparent.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I've read many books on success. My own theory, or perhaps someone else's I've copped along the way, is this: The ingredients for success are TALENT, TENACITY, and LUCK.

Under Talent we'd add education, curiousity, intelligence, skill... though actually talent transcends a list. If you've ever heard or seen or known someone TRULY talented, i.e.: among the very best at what they do, you know they are special. It's hard to quantify.

And Luck is "right place right time." Steve Jobs and the Woz screwing with a computer in the garage at that moment in time...

Tenacity, though, I think, is underrated and overlooked: many confuse desire with tenacity. Desire isn't a skill. Tenacity is.

And so as I was out weeding a patch that had already been sprayed with liquid KILL ANYTHING death twice, and I marvelled at the tenacity of some of the weeds... they even grow between slabs of concrete which must reach 120+ in the hot Texas sun, it hit me. I am in the startup phase of a new business. A close friend has started down his own path of HIS new business. It strikes me that for almost any venture, you need the tenacity of weeds. Stop at nothing. Adapt. Grow.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I just finished reading a book that convinced me I can't write. I always prided myself on my writing, but this author just blew me away (Tom Robbins). Okay, he's a big shot. But I do believe the fire has winked out in my muse. Or my pipe. Sadly, there's no pipe. My pilot light then. So I will try to jump start my metaphor mixer and ramp up the darn narrative of life which is the blog.

Your feedback is welcome.

Apparently you can post a comment just by clicking on comment.

The Rest of Life should be that easy!

Oh joy - the cleaning crew just drove up the driveway. I prefer to be left alone daytime. So the sound of the vacuums and sloshing and whatever they do is an intrusion. We need it, but I don't enjoy it. Wonder what Tom Robbins does?

You know, I did start to write a novel, which would be my second... the first went unpublished (I was co-author) and probably deserved to be lost (but it was the late 60s and you know what that meant!)

Unless you forgot, in which case you probably knew, but had memory loss.

See? I can get it back. This attitude de la wiseass.

I wonder if I should serialize the book (all 60 or 70 pages) here, or just set it aside till the time when I feel compelled to try to get it done. I think I fear it won't make any money and money drives me. Doing it for the exercise means little to me. Paydays do.

And so, there - ramblings on creativity, art versus commerce, and the Dyson vacuum's irritating sucking noise - all for you.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Parade of Homes allowed shoes and cameras. Darn. I wish I had brought back some pictures. The $5 million dollar home was "more like it." Actually, none of them were homes I HAVE TO HAVE (thankfully) but the grand one was neat in so many ways.

We couldn't afford the taxes or the electrical bill!

New HDTVs all over the darn house!

Infinity edge pool, was also a lap pool.

About 10,000 square feet. And already SOLD!

A new Porsche Cayenne in one of the driveways. $70k. For my (monopoly) money, better looking than the Carerra at 100k.

Some pretty impressive home theaters. But the fanciest audio rig wasn't as good sounding as mine, though I bet it cost 6 figures. Ha! I won't tell you what mine cost. You'd have me committed.

Some of the builders had very pretty models at the door, greeting people. You know a model is pretty when you are embarrassed to look her in the eye but for a fleeting second, lest you get stuck there, and be labeled a perv.

Others had, and there's no PC way to say this - short fatties on the same duty to less effect.

Hint: want to show off? Hire the models.

All in all, we do prefer the look of our neighborhood to that one, though some of those ENCLAVES were pretty darn extreme and you'd have to say, livable.

Monday, July 03, 2006


It seems our gas-fired hot water heater has lost its heat. I will now do the manly thing - crawl into a very tight space and try to read the instructions and even follow them. No messing around.

But I can't figure out why they don't put automatic lighters on these things. Maybe they don't go out often enough to make it cost effective.

Want to bet the warranty has run out?

That's how you can tell. When something stops, the warranty just ran out.


Later today we are planning to visit the Parade of (very expensive) Homes. Actually we live in a neighborhood of same, but they aren't on display.

It's fun to walk around and say, "look at that - that's wrong!" Or, "gotta get one of THOSE!" - a much more expensive exclamation.

("Exclamation - what happens if you eat a bad clam.") But I digress.

It's also fun to people watch at these things. Parade of Homes is a franchise, and from past experience elsewhere, usually they won't let you take pictures. Trade secrets I guess.

Here in the land of grand, it'll be interesting to see what excesses are on parade.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


... is a computer program several of the local weatherpeople use to forecast. I think it keeps the blame from them personally. These guys, including the predictor, cannot predict rain accurately. Time and time again they are wrong. They are lucky to predict daylight and dark and get that right.

I realize weather forecasting is an inexact science. But with my experience having lived in over 15 markets I have to say Austin has a weak tv crew.

Somewhere out there in radio and at the U, I believe, is Troy Kimmel, who did the weather when I programmed a radio station in Houston. I always thought he was among the best. The TV stations could use his expertise!


Encouraged by my first dose of weed killing (nothing happened, or darn little did) I mixed up another batch from concentrate and soaked the weeds. Now, days later, the orange dead grass for the most part surrounds nice green baby weeds. Looks like a dog with a bladder infection went for a drunken squat all over everything.

You will think I am crazy but I wonder why I couldn't BURN them out next time. A propane torch with a thin multi-thousand degree flame. Just pin point the damn weed and burn it down/up. As long as I am alert to possible fire spreading, shouldn't that do it once and for all?