I Do, But I Don't

I Do, But I Don't

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veteran's Day

Here's my Veteran's Day rant from a few years back...back when I was on Supertalk 930 WKY.  Enjoy.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kids Are Weird

Our parents never really understood us, or at least that's what we believed "back in the day."  We enjoyed our music loud, blaring out of our high-tech cassette players or for some, even those clunky 8-track tapes seemed to get the job done.  Interestingly, kids today aren't that much different - though the music and delivery systems are remarkably different.  And more expensive.

I remember when I first saw the movie, "The Exorcist."  I still believe it to be the most horrifying movie ever made for numerous reasons.  I didn't sleep for days after seeing it and watching it today, it still gives me the creeps and makes me sweat.  For our generation, those types of outlandishly made movies had a sense of realism if you believe in the supernatural and it is that sense that scares the stuffing out of us. 

(Note:  It was hard for me to even post that picture to the right.)

But kids don't find "The Exorcist" so scary and it befuddles me.  My teen daughters actually laughed at the movie, considering it humorous.  Yes, you read that right...humorous.  Of course, these are the same teen daughters who consider sampled music with thunderous bass to be "good music," mind you. 

Kids are weird.  Kids who don't find that movie scary are super weird.  That is all.  Tip your waitress. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mission: Missions

Which is more attractive to you?
1.  Going to South America for a month.
2.  Spending a month working in your community.

For most of us, the inclination is to jump at the opportunity to see South America, experience new culture, new cuisine, perhaps even some beaches and sunshine.  It simply appeals to hedonist side, our desire to enjoy ourselves.

Missions work for a lot of faith communities promote travel to exotic locations and the work is always worthwhile.  Meeting need, regardless of the geographical location is absolutely necessary as part of the faith experience.  Yet, it does make one wonder why more efforts aren't pushed in our local communities.  Certainly there are people within our reach, close by who need a helping hand or even a visit just to check on them.  But that isn't as "sexy," as appealing to the wayfarer spirit within us.

In some ways, it's rather like the legendary "Red River Rivalry" between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas.  Rather than having a home/home rivalry which would generate revenues for each of the respective communities, the rivalry is held in Dallas - a halfway point between the two colleges.  This affords fans an opportunity to travel from their home cities, act crazy, then return to their homes with memories.  Dallas benefits, the schools benefit, but then what?  Lather, rinse, repeat next year.

Don't take this the wrong way - I do believe that mission trips to far off lands has value and particularly so when humanitarian aid is provided.  However, I believe that there is a mission field ripe for the picking within our own communities.  We are to help the "least among us," and those are individuals who are right in our own neighborhoods.  It could be the elderly shut-ins, it could be the single mom or dad down the street, it could be the new family in town, it could be someone with whom we work...getting the picture?

We can do a better job of helping those around us.  We live in the greatest country in the world, with the most giving and caring people in the world and much of that reason is because of the influence of faith in our daily lives.  We don't have to be all "preachy," just caring.  We can do it, and we should do it.  Faith communities should spend more time meeting need, and less time involved in politics.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Show YOU the Money - New App

Gone are the days of scouring government websites to determine just how much money a presidential candidate has raised.  We remember the days when it was anyone's guess whether funding came from individuals, PACs, or from a candidate's own pocketbook.  According to a story on Mashable today, there is a new iPhone app in town that can, and will, break it down for you.

From the story:
Politicash 2012, a new mobile app from non-partisan research organization MapLight, aims to track money’s influence on this year’s presidential election in an easy-to-read way.

When you open Politicash, you’re greeted with a series of screens showing the money raised by either candidate, whether thaPoliticash 2012, a new mobile app from non-partisan research organization MapLight, aims to track money’s influence on this year’s presidential election in an easy-to-read way.
Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Brand Me, Baby

What are the most engaging brands in social media?  While it may not be your small or medium-sized business, there is something to be said for using social media to engage your clients, to establish a relationship with them that transcends mere transactions at the cash registers.

Digiday has a very interesting article about some of the top brands in social media.  From the article:
The secret to Disney’s success in social media is that it places a tremendous emphasis on pictures that every American can feel nostalgic about. One example would be a photo of Cinderella walking down the master staircase in the palace on the way to meet her prince for the very first time.
An excellent example of small business, small-town branding is that of a little pizza shop in Goldendale, Washington named, "Hometown Pizza."  First, the name of the location is absolutely brilliant for obvious reasons.  Second, they have an aggressive social networking presence even going so far as listing employment opportunities on their Facebook page.  And it doesn't hurt that their pizza is fabulous.  While a little more expensive than what one would expect, the price does in fact match the quality of the food served.  

Getting your brand out there isn't that difficult, nor do you need the budget of Bud Light, Disney or Harley-Davidson.  All it takes is a little help, a desire and a commitment to making your business grow...and thinking outside the box a little. 


Saturday, September 22, 2012

9.22 Week In Review

The third week in September has proven to be a bizarre one, to be sure.  Muslim outrage, bizarre happenings in Seattle...we live in strange times and yes, it seems like things are reaching a climax in this weird existence that makes even Tarantino blush a little.  So, here's my rewind for the week!

Muslim Riots.  Embassy's are attacked and destroyed, American citizens killed abroad just because they are American and then the deplorable video of a murdered Ambassador being dragged through the streets.  It defies all logic. And then there's the President's tepid response.  What happened to the days when this country just didn't put up with such shenanigans?  I miss those days.  Perhaps they will be restored sooner rather than later.

Ratpocalypse.  Apparently, some of the construction in Seattle is "displacing rats and cockroaches," making city leaders anxious and residents, well, creeped out.   Oklahoma has tornadoes, Seattle has rats and cockroaches.  I'll take the rats and cockroaches any day. 

Fires.  Lake Chelan, Yakima Valley and the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State have firefighters from across the state hard at work containing wildfires.  The fires have largely been started by lightning storms, and unfortunately, they are bracing for another round of storms that could produce even more fires.  Thousands of acres have been destroyed. 

Presidential Dead Heat.  Rasmussen polling indicates that Mitt Romney and President Obama are tied at 46% which means that the campaign commercials will be coming hot and heavy over the next couple weeks and it should prove to be wickedly entertaining.  Romney released his tax returns, with little or no push back from the DNC.  Truth is that Romney donated a huge some of his income to charity, which explains part of the reason he is in the 14% tax bracket.  But with the $14 million annual income, giving over $4 million to charity barely scratches the surface of his total net worth.  Again, we're forced to choose between the evil of two lessers.  Tragic.

And now, for some interesting local and national news stories that I admit I read diligently...

'Go Rogue'  (Confession:  I think Sarah Palin is amazingly cute, though not bright, so I read far too many stories where she is quoted.)

There you have my weekly rewind.  Next week looks to be even more interesting. 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Commitment: Not Just For Couples Anymore

Creating and developing a small business marketing plan takes real commitment.  Whether it be a small business or a multinational firm, marketing, public relations, branding and advertising are more than catchy phrases used to make employees feel good about themselves.  They are all an integral part of business success, or, they can contribute to business failure.

On average, businesses set aside 7-10% of their gross revenues for "advertising/marketing."  When the economy gets tough, however, that percentage drops dramatically and is often the first line item to be slashed in a corporate budget.  Successful businesses and true entrepreneurs believe their external marketing plan to be a communication tool to reach existing customers as well as prospective customers and to cut off that line of communication is tantamount to a married couple refusing to talk to one another - the aggregate result is always disaster.

The bottom line is that there are three primary reasons to create a marketing plan and to stick to it:
1.  To bring in new customers.  If a business owner can't understand this concept, he/she probably shouldn't be in business to begin with.
2.  To encourage existing customers to return.  Once the relationship is established, it's critical to maintain that relationship, nurture it and treasure the relationship.
3.  To increase employee/brand confidence.  Employees can be one of the greatest marketing tools in a marketing plan.  Happy, confident employees are productive employees.

To illustrate a point, let's see if you can recognize the following and identify the corresponding company:
"Eat Fresh"
"I'm Lovin' It"
"Have It Your Way"
"Like A Good Neighbor..."
"Taste the Rainbow"
"Think Outside the Bun"
"The Quicker Picker-Upper"
"I Don't Want To Grow Up, I'm A..."

The companies above committed themselves to a campaign for just that reason - for you to remember them to create top-of-the-mind awareness.  And yes, these campaigns were expensive, but the aggregate result speaks for itself.  These companies have learned early on that a commitment to a marketing plan requires sacrifice, diligence creativity.  They have established a synergy between their radio, print, television, Internet and social media networks in such a way that even the smallest business in the smallest town can emulate.  While your company may not have millions of dollars for an advertising budget, you can still be creative and get the most out of your marketing budget and increase your bottom line.

All it takes is commitment and a willingness to take a few small risks.  Are you committed?
Email questions here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What Goldendale Needs...

Goldendale, Washington is a great town, the county seat for Klickitat County, nestled just north of the Columbia River.  One public high school, one public middle school, one, primary school, two grocery stores, a pharmacy, a couple coffee shops, handful of churches, a public swimming pool, a little league park...you get the picture.  The town has pretty much all you could ask for, but in keeping with the American spirit, let's ask for more, shall we?

Recently moving back to Washington State, I remember spending summers here in Goldendale and there are a few things I would like to see return, or perhaps added.  

1.  Bring Back the Drive-In.  I remember my uncle and aunt taking all of us kids to the J&R Drive-In, enjoying a feature film and what was, at the time, some of the best pizza anywhere.  As I recall (mind you, it's been a few years), the screen was held up with what looked like old telephone poles.  The feel of Goldendale is such that it would be only appropriate that someone would have the courage to bring back the theater.  If anyone remembers why the theater was closed, send me an email here.  

2.  Taco Bell.  Yes, we have a McDonald's, a Dairy Queen, a Subway, awesome pizza from Hometown Pizza and the deli at Sentry Market isn't too shabby either.  However, every community needs a place where cheap indigestion and a plethora of hot sauce packets with catchy phrases can be found. 

3.  Apple Store.  Perhaps the population density is quite what Apple would prefer for locating one of their locations, however, it seems like everyone has an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.  Just seems to make sense to have a place to service these fancy gadgets.

4.  WiFi Community.  Goldendale would be an excellent choice for one of the monster Internet Service Providers to experiment on a completely wireless community.  Whether it be hanging out in Okone Park, or the WWII Memorial Park, or waiting at the Klickitat County Courthouse, everyone could have wireless Internet access on their laptops or smart phones.  This is not to say, however, the current Internet providers aren't getting the job done, but it would be a pretty interesting selling point for the Chamber of Commerce.

5.  Local Live Music Venue.  Well, there is the Maryhill Winery down the road where some pretty names play, but every town needs a place where there can be some live music featuring local talent.  A couple of the bars in town have some live music every now and again, but a local outdoor venue where families could come and listen to local talent would be incredible.  Of course, the parks could be used, but it's yet to be seen whether that sort of thing is allowed in Goldendale. 

Bottom line:  Goldendale and the whole of the Columbia River Gorge is an incredible place to live.  Still, it would be interesting were any of the above to arrive on the scene.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It Could Be Worse

Taking freedoms for granted has almost become a national pastime in this great country of ours, forgetting the immense sacrifices made by our forefathers and our men and women in uniform today.  Life in America is hectic; friends, family, work and the ever-present political hoopla bogs us down, forcing us to take our eyes off the prize.

Blogging, for example, is a great freedom we have in this country - a place to express thoughts and ideas to the world and do so in an uncensored manner.  People across the globe see us, admire our freedoms and often are punished for their desire to have the freedom our Creator has given us. 

This, from the Washington Post:

MUSCAT, Oman — A journalist and blogger in Oman has been sentenced to one year in prison for alleged anti-government writings in a widening crackdown on political dissent in the strategic Gulf nation.

The official Oman News Agency says Mukhtar bin Mohammed bin Saif al-Hinai was convicted on Sunday of slander and violations of media codes, but gave no further details.

Al-Hinai works at the Azzaman daily, which came under pressure last year for coverage that angered some officials in the tightly ruled nation.
And lest we forget, Oman is a supposed ally of America.

Whether it be rural communities or big cities, our access to the Internet and our freedom of speech is priceless and should be defended aggressively.  Our government has taken a turn for the worse, going so far as to seriously consider taxes on the web and even using the Internet to investigate individuals who are what they deem to be derisive.  It's truly sad, but always remember:  It could be worse.

We could live in Oman.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Small Isn't So Small (Rural Social Media)

The conversation went something like this:

"Did you hear about Jimmy Smith?"

"Oh, my Lord, yes.  He has been in trouble his whole life."

"And can you believe that his sister is actually defending him?"

"Not surprising...she's piece of work."

"Well, I'm going to be keeping an eye on this one - everyone is talking about it."

This conversation takes place, not at the town square or even the local coffee shop or grocery store aisle.  Much like big cities, these conversations take place in living rooms, dining rooms, front porches throughout rural America while the participants are glued to their mobile devices or computers.  Technology has changed how we communicate with one another and this blog is but one of many examples of how rural communities stay in touch...when there's Internet, of course.

Through the use of social media, families can stay in contact with loved ones, watch the news and see what's happening around town.  Even local papers have created an Internet presence in the smallest of towns in the hopes of maintaining cultural relevance they once held.  Gone are the days of the local diner being the focal point of town gossip, trends and interactivity.  Rather, even these diners and coffee shops have wireless Internet and the person-to-person conversations are typically relegated to the exchange of money at the cash register for a beverage.

Recently, a horrific fire ravaged much of an area of White Salmon and it was the use of technology - the Internet largely - that kept surrounding residents abreast of what was taking place.  It was an excellent example of the positive aspects of both social media and the use of smart technology to keep people aware and safe.  Ultimately, it saved lives. 

Facebook has become much larger than even its founder imagined.  Ignoring the drop in stock value, Facebook has served to reconnect family members and loved ones, friends from youth and is now a pivotal aspect of rural life.  In some cases, Facebook serves as a town crier, a bulletin board of sorts where events are posted, videos are watched and conversations about hunting, fishing, jobs, politics and illness are learned of and resources shared.  Say what you will about social media, one thing is certain:  It works well in big cities as well as rural communities and the argument can be made that the impact is greater in rural communities than in areas with heavy population density.

It's exciting to see the changes in attitudes toward the use of social media, technology and how rural communities stay in touch.  At a recent Goldendale High School football game, the opposing team had set up a webcam, was broadcasting the football game via the Internet and providing play-by-play commentary.  While the negative side can be a downturn of real human interaction, residents of rural communities who perhaps were unable to attend could participate in their own way - from the comfort of their homes as they rest from a long day at work.  

Change can be a good thing and the growth of technology and the increased use of social media to communicate will serve to grow communities, to enhance the quality of life for many in rural America and as a consultant to the same, this development of technology has been an enormous blessing. I've had the opportunity to help others use social media to their advantage, to increase name recognition and give some insight as to who they are.  Businesses, candidates for elected office as well as folks like you and me can use technology to our advantage to share ideas, thoughts, promote business and communicate effectively and quickly.

We live in a great country.  That's all there is to it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Journey to WA (Part Deux)

We traveled through what was left of Utah, enjoying the sights, talking endlessly about the family who had been so unmistakably kind in helping us out.  That brand of kindness truly is rare in our society today, but welcomed nonetheless.  

The sun was bright, not even a hint of rain was to be found anywhere, and we were determined to make it to Goldendale that evening.  When we hit the Oregon border, we called Uncle Cliff and let him know that we were well on our way, excited about reuniting with him and his wife Patty and the chance to see Matt, Paige and Rylan made us absolutely giddy with excitement.

Stop Two
Oregon is not known for being a flat state, rather mountainous in areas and the Explorer's legendary engineering flaws came to bear not long past the border.  As we were driving up one of the rather steep hills, the "O/D" light began to flash on the instrument panel and the transmission started to sleep.  Yes, we had awakened the demon that possessed generations of Ford Explorers previously.  Somehow, however, we were close to an exit and exit we did.  We found a little town where the mechanic put his computer module on it and explained that it was a shift solenoid in need of replacing - and no, not something they have lying around.

Mindful that we all three were pretty rough looking, Shawn looked up the problem on the Internet from her phone (finally had cell coverage enough to do that) and we determined that the problem with the Explorer was one that could be dealt with once we arrived in Washington - as long as we didn't get the speed beyond 60mph, adding at least an hour to our drive time.

Sidebar:
Those of you who know me, know that at times, I can be somewhat "anxious."  I had gripped the steering wheel with such force during this leg of the trip that the steering wheel cover had begun to rub off on my hands, making the palms black.  To say that I was uptight and nervous would be the understatement of the century - knowing that we were not only on a tight budget, but that nothing would be worse than to be stuck in Oregon somewhere or worse yet, to have the transmission simply fall out of the legendary Ford Explorer.

The sight of the Columbia River was a welcomed one.  Majestic and soothing, the sun setting in the West glistened along the river.  The highway travels east and west along the river, providing some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.  Shawn and Anna took pictures furiously, enjoying what was a first time experience for them.

Stop Three:
Biggs, Oregon is due south of Goldendale on the Oregon side and the bridge across the Columbia River marks the final leg of the trip.  A mere 15 miles from Goldendale, on the map it seems an easy enough trip, but the grade is exceptionally steep.  Not wanting to cause too much panic for the ladies in the vehicle, I simply gunned it, ready for the hill.

We made it 2/3 of the way up the massive grade when the transmission decided to not only slip, but virtually stop propelling the vehicle.   Fortunately, there was a little driveway we could pull into to let the vehicle rest long enough to try one last time to make it up the last 400 yards of the grade.  You see, from there on, it would be an easy trip to Goldendale and a little jog down Cliff and Patty's driveway.

We gave it our all and yes, we made it (three hours late).  The Explorer intact, we unloaded and was greeted by the open arms and warm smile of Uncle Cliff.  We had reached our destination after what was a trip never to be forgotten and certainly something to tell the grandkids about.  

Epilogue:
The Explorer still limps around, and if you're real quiet, you can actually hear the vehicle chuckling under its breath...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Journey to Washington State

Living in Oklahoma was an incredible experience.  Working in radio, working with folks in the medical supply industry, consulting on numerous campaigns, working with the Oklahoma Rifle Association on legislation...the list goes on and on.  Which is why moving back to my home state of Washington was a tough decision to make, but after long hours of discussing the move with my wife and my kids, it had become clear that now was the time.

My uncle Cliff has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terribly debilitating disease wherein a lung transplant is necessary to ensure a long, productive life.  Being in Goldendale, Washington with him and his family is important at this stage of both our lives and will also give my children the opportunity to see where I grew up and to experience a little of what I did "back in the day."  My oldest son, Matt, lives in Washington as well and being closer to him and my grandson is a joy.

Of course, the journey was an eventful one - a trip that will go down in history as one of the funniest and dramatic travels of my lifetime.

Departure
We worked on the Explorer for about two weeks prior to leaving, fighting with the "blower motor control" unit which was expensive and a classic pain in the rear.  Fortunately, we got the thing going and yes, the AC was working just fine...until we loaded the vehicle with essentials and hit the road.  Suddenly, the air was just air and driving in the Oklahoma heat was rather like cruising down the highway in a fully loaded sauna.  But, undeterred, we were on a mission to get to Goldendale, Washington and there wasn't a whole lot that was going to stop us.
Shawnnessy and my daughter, Anna, had packed all of the necessary road trip snacks and were surprisingly upbeat (a couple pounds of beef jerky tend to make one smile), though saddened about leaving Mason, Madison and Samantha behind - knowing that eventually, they would be coming to visit and that Samantha would be moving out to Washington after the school year.

Stop 1
We drove through the evening, finally exhausted, we stopped in Hays, Kansas for the night.  The next morning (Tuesday), we had some breakfast, feeling confident that we could make it through Colorado, perhaps even drive through the night and hit Goldendale in the morning Wednesday.  The AC still not working, we headed out, showered and fresh, anticipating some amazing scenery.  Then, later that night as we hit the middle of Utah, orange barrels (a familiar sight in Oklahoma) crowded the darkened highway.  Suddenly, when the brakes were applied, a terrible sound came from the right front wheel - initially, I thought it was a flat tire...but it is never that easy.  One of the bolts that holds the brake pads onto the rotor busted and the whole darned thing was smacking up against the wheel.

Stuck for the night along the side of the road, we were fortunate to be at an off-ramp and away from the highway.  The following morning, we made calls to little towns nearby for the replacement bolt and the auto parts dealers weren't really sure if they had one.  The Ford dealership had one, but of course, it would take a couple days to arrive as it was located in a warehouse somewhere in Siberia.  A kind gentleman came by, asked if we needed some help, and we were still calling around to see if there was a part somewhere.  A little while later, the gentleman returned - he happened to live just about a quarter mile away.  We limped the vehicle to his house and he and I went off to the auto parts store, Anna and Shawnnessy stayed behind speaking to his wife and daughter.

Since we were in Utah, he told me all about the history of the area, shared that he was LDS.  I learned about the town, the community, his faith and to be perfectly honest, it was immeasurably enjoyable.  We got the bolt, headed back and repaired the vehicle.  Before long, we were back on the road.  We won't soon forget that incredible family in Utah who helped us out in a very tough patch.

More to follow...

*Transmission issues and the long hill up from Maryhill.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THC, Scattered Hamlet and Shotgun Rebellion...

Every once in a while there comes the perfect storm - a time, place and environment where everything just "clicks."  In the music industry, it's not always that way but coming up on January 28th at Thunder Alley in Oklahoma City, the musical perfect storm has arrived and it has done so with a vengeance. 

Madd Maxx productions has outdone itself on this one. 

Texas Hippie Coalition (THC) is headlining what will be a show that no one in attendance will soon forget.  THC is a unique hard rock band with an exceptionally unique sound that isn't just some "screamo" kind of groove.  Fans of hard rock, metal are flocking to THC shows because, well, there just aren't any like them.  I had the opportunity to see them perform on the Hard Rock Stage at Rocklahoma last year and in my honest opinion, they should have been playing the main stage.

Scattered Hamlet is a band whose sound is unique as well, traveling from Los Angeles to Oklahoma to get their feet wet in the Southern Rock scene and it makes perfect sense since that is really their groove.

Of course, my favorite band on the ticket is Shotgun Rebellion.  Not taking away from the headliner or SH, Shotgun Rebellion is an Oklahoma-based band, preparing for a tour of the Gulf Coast and their sound is not only intense, but filled to overflowing with soul.  Each original song has meaning, is designed to invite the listener into the very personal and very diverse lives of each of the band members.  I have come to know these guys personally and have to tell you that their commitment to awesome performances and original music is really second to none. Rick Davis (vocals/guitar), Steve Parnell (vocals/guitar), Jon Parr (bass) and Jared Adams (drums) have created a sound, a feel that is phenomenal.  And these guys were willing to help out the Hugs Project by performing at no charge for a benefit concert held in Edmond last year. 

The doors open at 7pm at Thunder Alley and tickets are still available - contact my friend Jon Parr for tickets.  They are only $12 and $20 gets you the VIP treatment.  With this show, you have the opportunity to experience national talent in a relatively intimate environment, up-close and personal.  There will be nothing like it.

Here are some selections from the bands for you to enjoy:

THC


Scattered Hamlet


Shotgun Rebellion

 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thinking About It

The new year, for me, lasts through the month of January and it is a serious time of introspection.  New year's resolutions, the clean up from the party, plans for the future - they are all part of the American pathos and I drink deep from the pitcher of contemplation this time of year.

Looking at some of my friends' photo albums on social networking sites as they post the places they've been and the things they've seen, it got me to thinking about some of the things I've seen, the people I've met and thought I'd share a few of them with you.

Ted Nugent.  Back "in the day," the Motor City Madman was a regular guest on my talk show on WKY and I was fortunate enough to go on a pronghorn antelope bow hunt with him in Marfa, Texas.  The pronghorn I bagged hangs on my wall in my office, overlooking my madness and certainly laughing.  I also got to introduce him at a concert he did in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  It was a fascinating time, and for those of you who wonder whether or not the Nuge is just an act, well, I'm here to tell you that with Ted Nugent, what you see/hear is what you get.  He's the genuine article. 

Oklahoma Rifle Association Media Award.  I won the Mike McCarville Oklahoma Rifle Association Media Award back in 2007, and though it feels like a lifetime ago, I remember it quite fondly.  It was a total surprise to win it, having no clue that I was even in the running.  It sits proudly on the mantle over the fireplace, and every now and again I glance at it and grin...remembering the hard work on 2nd Amendment issues so many people back then put into legislation.  It truly was an honor.

Australia.  While serving in the United States Navy, I was blessed to travel to Singapore, Africa, the Philippines and yes, the big island of Australia.  It was everything everyone said it would be and while I don't know that I'd ever go back if given the opportunity, I do know that it was an amazing place - though the Outback has plenty of snakes and I'm not big on snakes.

Blackened Blues Band.  The first band I put together here in Oklahoma, included the late Bill Frank who is greatly missed.  He wasn't the greatest musician, but damn, that boy put everything he had into every song.  Our first gig was a Blues Jam and Wail that just seemed to work.  The turnout was good, the people were fun and it was an opportunity to play with a bunch of different musicians and different styles.  Today, I play in my band (Organized Chaos) and with Wild Heart - a classic rock, progressive country band. 

Campaigns.  I've worked on a number of different campaigns - some in the forefront, others in a behind-the-scenes capacity and I have won most of the campaigns I worked on.  Campaigns are tough and without thick skin, can tear away at your very soul.  Sometimes the good guys (and gals) win, sometimes the bad guys win.  The process itself is taxing, difficult and requires the ability to babysit candidates and deal with some purposefully negative garbage.  It isn't for he faint of heart and while I have worked with the Trinity Foundation who investigates fraudulent televangelists, I must say that many within the campaign world make televangelists look like Saint John.  All of that being said, I admit that the few straggler friends I have kept as a result make it all worth while.

Oklahoma Legislative Committees.  I have had the honor to make presentations to two Oklahoma House of Representatives Committees in the last few years, the first being the Wildlife Committee in pitching the Constitutional protection of hunting and fishing in Oklahoma which was a huge success.  The second was at the invitation of Representative Joe Dorman wherein I had it out with two criminal defense attorneys over the issue of DUI legislation.  We did, however, make some progress in legislation and Dorman is to be commended for his work.  It was intense, to be sure, but wouldn't have traded the opportunity for anything.

Creed.  Creed is a band whom you either love or abhor.  I happen to love them and for my birthday a couple years ago, my wife surprised me with tickets for their show in Dallas and it was incredible.  They are wickedly talented musicians who really know how to put on one hell of a show. 

There are just a few that have come to mind and I am sure my mind will wander and stumble on to more repressed memories of things I've done, people I've seen and I'll share them with you.  In the interim, have fun and be safe.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Keeping Up

2011 is gone, 2012 is upon us and I have come to the realization that I don't have the informational multi-tasking capabilities I once possessed in my younger days.  For example, I watched the returns of the Iowa Caucus last night, flipping between news channels and found myself confused, befuddled and wondering how so many "professional pundits" could have such remarkably different takes.  Unless of course, they are on the take, as it were.

Trying to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle is a daunting task to be certain.  Change is everywhere and every other day, the news channels are fussing with their graphics, changing their lower thirds, their sweepers and now, even Mike McCarville has changed his website.  What is this world coming to? 

Last night at band practice, drummer Bob Griffiths made some comments to me about this blog, asking if I planned on getting after it more aggressively with the campaign season bearing down on us.  He mentioned a few news stories that I had only glossed over and I kind of told him that I blog when the mood strikes me, not republishing every stinking press release I get but rather when I feel like talking, I do.  He laughed and told me he appreciated it - probably because there is just so much to filter these days.

This is an election year and yes, there is a lot at stake, but there is a lot at stake every election.  In 2006, every congressional candidate ran with an agenda, one with a sense of urgency because either the illegal immigrants or the Islamic terrorists would soon take over America.  Of course, it didn't happen, but don't tell them that.  In 2008, we realized that nothing promised in 2006 would come to fruition and we pretty much accepted it.  In 2010, more of the same.  In 2012, we're probably going to get exactly what we ask for - anyone but Obama.  But at what cost?

It's hard to keep up these days because there are far too many information resources available.  I make no bones about the fact that this blog is, always will be, little more than one man's opinions about issues and some commentary on life.  I'm not trying to change the world through press release redistribution or hyperbole.  I'm just running my mouth when I should probably just quietly go somewhere dark and damp to die.

But I'm not ready for that yet.