30 January 2008

Decided: The Economic Stimulus Plan Is Dumb

I like money and I have no problems accepting free money from the government. I will not hesitate to deposit my rebate check when it comes. I've even planned how I am going to spend it. But I don't think it's a good idea. And I shake my head at people who do.
The idea is that the government will give us all money. We will then use that money to go shopping, creating a demand that will keep manufacturers manufacturing. It's a desperate view of reality.

Most people (Jesse excluded) have bills.Millions of people have defaulted on their mortgages and are facing foreclosure. There are people with children who are in danger of being homeless. It sounds dramatic but everyday we in the newsroom hear the stories that prove it's real.

Those people are not going to the mall. They are going to pay off anything outstanding and use the rest to buy groceries. The fact is: we're in a recession and the stimulus plan is too little too late.

Whenever I talk to my parents or friends in other parts of the country, I ask them how much they're paying for milk and orange juice. The answers are creative. And they've shown me that disaster cannot be averted. A recession is here. And $140 billion of borrowed money is not going to help that. I think it will help people, by giving them extra money for bills. I do not think it'll help the economy, by sending people shopping. It's a planning oversight by the federal government. Unless I'm thinking too highly of the American people. But my way just seems logical.

The federal reserve cut the interest rate today to just three percent. That means (for certain loans) any payments made will go further, as they will not be spent on interest. Sending tax returns and rebate checks to credit balances is the most fiscally responsible thing to do. Good for Americans, yet bad for America at the same time.

Yet the United States will save some though. This afternoon Nevada Senator John Ensign stopped illegal immigrants from getting rebate checks. This morning I was audibly appalled (read: fired up) that rebate checks were even an option for illegals. It was a loophole that closed this afternoon, thanks to Senator Ensign. He introduced an amendment to stop it, and it was incorporated. Ensign said "It rewards illegal behavior." I agree. It's a statement I wish I heard more, namely as a reason illegals are denied services. But that's another rant for another day. Today, it's about the economy.

Rebate checks will help people, but they will not help the economy. I say we all grab our checks and hold on tight, as we plunge a little deeper.

Adios John

John Edwards is giving up his 2008 bid for the presidency. I had really thought he'd be in it through Tuesday, when I still thought he would lose every state. Edwards is not expected to endorse any other candidates when he drops out today, which I think is a little selfish.
Edwards has supporters. And he knows more than they do about Clinton & Obama personally. I think he owes them an alternative. I mean I guess they can make up their own minds, but I think he should at least provide a suggestion.
Either way. I still think Edwards will run with Obama. And I think we're about to see a whole lot more ugly from the Clinton camp.

28 January 2008

The Waterfall In The Desert

It's been raining here for a few days in a way that I haven't seen in a long time. Usually, it rains, it floods, the sun comes out. And that usually takes less than an hour. But this week it's been gloomy. The rain has fallen off an on but I haven't heard of any flooding. Add to that, it's been chilly. Gloom, plus rain, plus a chill in the air equals a perfect reason to go outside.

Jesse and I had planned to go up to Mount Charleston yesterday. But instead chose to go to Red Rock Canyon. It's closer and we have a season pass. It's one scenic loop with dozens of possibilities for climbing and hiking. And on Sunday, we went in search of waterfall. What we found, was fog.

The fog was thick enough to hide bright red rock formations, and we could only see what was immediately around us. As we got higher we left the fog behind, and discovered clouds and hits of sunshine.

We drove to Lost Creek Trail and started our little hike. It wasn't difficult but there are spots where the creek crosses the trail. And where we had to hop across on rocks. Jesse described it like being in The Goonies.

It didn't take long for us to find the waterfall, and explore everything around it. In one area, there was sand, snow, and ice. It was really refreshing. I expect we're less than a month away from hot weather. So we're going to have to do a lot more winter exploring over the next few weeks. I've posted a link to pictures from our hike on the right side of your screen. Enjoy.

26 January 2008

South Carolina Primary

It's a wish. It's a feeling. Now I think it's close to being a reality.

I was supposed to be in Phoenix today visiting my mother, who works for the NFL. However, the league's labor practices are not allowing her enough time to sleep, let alone have visitors. Instead I'm home, watching coverage of the South Carolina Primary. I didn't watch and of the Republican coverage because I was busy being awesome. Today I am addicted to South Carolina and excited about the outcome. And from what I'm seeing, I could be a fortune teller. My Obama - Edwards ticket is en route.

The Candidates:
Obama either will win or has won South Carolina. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox all had that the minute the polls closed. The real race (and the real excitement) tonight is for second place. John Edwards needs to be number two in South Carolina. He needs the delegates and he needs the attention. Edwards did come in second in Iowa. But he was whipped here in Nevada, with less than four percent of the vote. Winning second place would give the Edwards' Campaign a huge boost. At the same time, a third place finish would send Hillary Clinton into a downward spiral away from a return to the White House.

Clinton's been nasty anyway. She and her husband have been attacking the other candidates (yes, even John Edwards) as much as they have been promoting her experience. I think it's traditional politics and that Bill & Hillary can't get away from it. Unfortunately for them, John Edwards has made such a point to be polite. Obama tried, but he's thrown in plenty of tat for the Clintons' tit.

The Clintons will say Obama got the black vote, which he did. The black vote is not what interests me in this primary. It's the reaction to the votes for the black candidate. CNN had fantastic graphics showing results from the exit polls. Bill Schneider & Soledad O'Brien then explained them. Interesting. More interesting: the barely concealed surprise that white people did vote for the black candidate. As much as the analysts want to say Bill Clinton interjected race in the campaign, they now have to take some onus. Bill & Soledad were surprised, that in South Carolina, white people voted for a black man. I guess it proves some of the racial progress touted every third Monday in January is real.

The Coverage:
I've been bouncing from channel to channel and I have to say CNN has the best coverage, but MSNBC is a very close second. I feel like Fox News is treating today like any other day, and thereby belittling the importance of the primary. Aside from graphics and overall preparation, CNN & MSNBC are doing a great job of looking at the issues being represented by exit polls. CNN has the biggest political team I've ever seen. And somehow they all have something different to say. Fascinating.

23 January 2008

Official Presidential Endorsement

Here's what I hope to see from the Democratic party come the national convention in August. I think an Obama - Edwards ticket can win and more importantly, I think an Obama - Edwards Administration would be good for the country. I think if you really study these candidates (instead of just listening to the media) this is the best combination. First, I'll tell you why Obama - Edwards. Then I'll tell you why not Clinton.

As part of our caucus preparation, Kate and I picked five issues and made bullet points on the candidates' positions on those topics. First of all, John Edwards has the best website -- and not just among the top three candidates. We looked at Rep. Kucinich and Fmr. Sen. Gravel as well. Edwards has his entire plan in a download-able .pdf as well as linked throughout his site. He goes into great detail (as if someone spent a lot of time on his plan) and presents his ideas in an organized and aesthetically pleasing format. Organization always gets my attention.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on Kucinich & Gravel, so let's get them out of the way. Dennis Kucinich wants to spend more money on Iraqis than Americans. I think his plan would leave Iraq in a better position than the United States. I'm all for ending the war -- but sending people back to rebuild the entire country and paying restitution to Iraqi children just seems like a bit much. Links from Mike Gravel's page lead to youtube.com postings, instead of fact sheets. Plus, it's disorganized. Kucinich wants to spend more on Iraqis than Americans. Gravel does not have his ducks in a row. Neither are what the Democrats call "viable."

As we discussed, Edwards is organized. It's actually the foundation of his candidacy. John Edwards believes in workers organizing and he's big into unions. Unfortunately for him, most people don't belong to unions. They have 401k's, not pensions. That's why Edwards is trailing and that's why Edwards won't get the nomination.

At the same time, Obama has mass appeal. Organized workers would stand behind him if John Edwards stood next to him. Obama & Edwards also have similar plans for Iraq, the environment, education and other issues. Both seem sincere, although Obama has gotten caught up in a lot of squabbling with Clinton. I applaud Edwards for staying above the fray, even though that fray gets the other candidates more face time.

Hillary Clinton, despite her best intentions, is too divisive. Women like her. Women who do not condone extramarital shenanigans do not. There are those who think she stayed will Bill to further her own agenda -- and that that shows strength. It could also show weakness though, and a lack of pride. Clinton cannot not count on women.

Also, I was not a fan of her Iraq exit strategy or environmental plans. She seemed more concerned (on her website) with meeting deadlines than with meeting benchmarks. There's something about her I just don't like. If she's president, that something will still be there. I'd rather have president who makes me feel cautious optimism than slight distrust.

The Highlight Of My Career So Far

Two weeks ago, I was assigned to produce five hours of coverage for the Nevada caucus. To give you some perspective, most producers produce 30 - 60 minutes of news during a nine hour shift. I still produced my show for all but two of the days leading up to the caucus and used all of my other time to think about the show. My results (in my humblest of opinions) were fantastic.

I wish I could convey the whole process to you right here, so it would be forever remembered. But the truth of the matter is that few people can really appreciate everything that went into the caucus coverage. Once it was handed to me, I probably spent half a day finding the people I would need during the coverage, and discussing their assignments and expectations. Kate was crowned second in command for all things caucus. I ran all of my ideas by her and I really think that was a key to the show's success.

As producers, we're each challenged to take the same stories and tell them in creative (read: different) ways. We take pride in that and often go into the deep recesses of our minds to find different ways to do things. We rarely give opinions on each other's work and we're rarely asked. Having two minds working in the same way on the same show helped make sure nothing (or at least very little) slipped through the cracks.

So I wasn't alone. I had Kate. And Kate and I weren't alone either. It felt like every person commissioned to be a part of this production brought high energy and good suggestions. It was like -- along the road to the caucus -- Kate & I picked up an army of hard workers, dedicated to putting on the best show possible. And in the end, it really wasn't as daunting as I expected.

A big difference between an everyday newscast and the caucus coverage is scripting. Most of the caucus coverage was not scripted. Once the show started, I just had to decide to which crew we were going and alert the right people. The majority of the stress came from the preparation.

We had no frame of reference. Everything we knew about caucuses was in theory only. Kate and I had never been a part of one and I never asked anybody else if they had. Based on the definition and the explanations, it sounded quite boring. We didn't know what there would be to show and we spent hours -- several hours -- preparing information that could be used to fill time. In the end, we had it all wrong.

The caucus was extremely active and vocal. I spend so much time thinking all politicians are the same, that I was genuinely surprised when people yelled in support of their chosen candidates. It truly was great to watch. It was another one of those infrequent times when I am positively impressed with the caliber of people in this town. Even Las Vegans chipped in to make the show a success.

Of course I have plenty of suggestions if I should ever get this opportunity again. There were plenty of things I saw that could have been better. But I was handed a huge task which was to be completed in a small amount of time and I did well. Not many people can say that, and I am proud that I can.

10 January 2008

Ron Paul: Never Really Had Me, Lost Me, Got Me Back

Not that I need a qualifier (I'm the one running this show) but I love politics. I'm following Campaign '08 with nearly obsessive fervor. This race is unlike any other -- and not just because of the Democrats' woman or the black guy. The Democrats also have the pretty former senator, who got snubbed by his former running mate.

The Republicans have their menagerie as well. There's the Mormon, the weight loss success story, the former mayor whose only experience is tragedy, the POW, and the Libertarian. It reads like a bad reality show but it's making for great politics.

Take Ron Paul (the Libertarian) for example. The GOP can't stand him. He's not even a real Republican. But there he is, taking their donations, swaying their supporters, and giving people another viable option. Paul is infectious. He has conviction and mass appeal. Even the most liberal of Democrats has to wonder about voting for a Ron Paul Future. That's made him into a threat and proof of that came today.

CNN dug up newsletters from Ron Paul's office after reading about them in the New Republic. They date back to the 80's and 90's and make offensive statements about black people. Paul says he didn't write it and doesn't know who did. Of course, he couldn't say much else. Nonetheless, after watching his interview with Wolf Blitzer, I have to say I believe him. No only that, Paul did a good job of taking the question (of his potential racism) and using it to raise an issue (racism & the war on drugs).

What I liked most about Paul repudiation (aside from the word repudiation) is that he explained why a Civil Libertarian couldn't possibly be a racist. Paul said racism takes a group-think, the likes of which are not Libertarian in nature. It's the kind of argument that is final. If the world can agree that Ron Paul is a Libertarian, then the world must agree Ron Paul is not a racist.

Paul also brought up the timing of these documents, and the fact that he's willing to pardon people (black or white) imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses. The whole interview is worth watching. I applaud CNN for giving him the time to clear his name. And I applaud Ron Paul for turning bad press back toward his competitors.

Golf Channel Has At Least One Ball

Kelly Tilghman has been suspended.

The Golf Channel said "There is simply no place on our network for offensive language like this," (referring to that lynching thing) and gave her two weeks in the rough. The Golf Channel's statement is remarkable, considering no disciplinary action was planned just a few hours before. I blame Al Shaprton.

Personally, I am not a fan of the Reverend. However I applauded his consistency in calling for Tilghman to be fired. Until I read that he said her comments were the same as Don Imus'. If you read below, you know I think Tilghman's comments were considerably more offensive. Sharpton's statement proves he's a glory hound, more concerned with his getting his face out there than with the cause he's supposed to represent. On the other hand, I can't blame him, it works. He's become an integral part of this whole debacle for no apparent reason.

So Tilghman is suspended and she could still be fired. Stay tuned. This will not be going away. According to the Associated Press: The suspension ends in time for the Buick Invitational on Jan. 24, when Woods will make his 2008 debut. I'm sure Tilghman and woods will hug and smile for the cameras, and we'll all be talking about this again.

09 January 2008

In All Fairness, Kelly Must Be Fired

I don't know two things about Kelly Tilghman. But the one thing I do know -- is that she must be fired. I did not say (nor do I believe) that she should be fired. Nonetheless, she should be updating her resume.

Tilghman (as I have learned) is an anchor for the Golf Channel. During an interview on Friday, her guest suggested young golfers needed to team up against Tiger Woods (news, pics) if they were to ever have hopes of beating him. With that statement (and sentiment out there), Tilghman said Tiger Woods should be lynched. It was obvious she wasn't being literal. She's apologized profusely. Tiger Woods himself has called it a non-issue, saying he's known Tilghman for years, and that he knows she meant no harm. It was an admitted mistake, and she's probably genuinely sorry. I doubt it will enough to save her job.

Kelly Tilghman is the Don Imus of 2008. Yes, there are differences between them and they all work against Tilghman. She doesn't have a following near the size of Imus'. She doesn't have the name recognition. She doesn't have the history of philanthropy. She's not in a position where she can make her own rules and live by them. She's a woman in the world of sports.

Add to that, Imus implied bad hair & promiscuity. Tilghman suggested a lawless execution, reserved throughout American history for one group of people -- to which Tilghman does not belong. On paper, there's no question Kelly Tilghman must go.

No, it's probably not the right thing to do. We all make slips of the tongue and we all make bad decisions. No one's perfect. She's in a tougher spot than most of us, because she's watched and recorded and critiqued and judged every day that she goes to work. She (like Don Imus) just made a mistake. But as big as this country gets, there's still a "lynch mob" mentality. Letters and emails are probably flying into the Golf Channel, calling Tilghman a racist, and demanding she be fired. And since the example has already been set, they'll probably get their way.

07 January 2008

A Celebration of Me

Sometime after the first day of the year, and sometime before the first week of the year, is my birthday. On the first Monday, after the first weekend, after the third day of the year, it's business as usual. But before that day (this day in fact) I take full advantage of my birthday.

I enjoy getting older. There's something about being alive that trumps gray hairs, wrinkles, a slowing metabolism and/or a more Buddha-ish belly. I view my birthday as a marker. I ask myself 'what were my goals last year?' and 'am I where I wanted to be?' I look at where I went wrong (because I've never lost enough weight or saved enough money) and at what I can do to improve for my next year. I think of new ways to meet those goals (do more weight training or find an additional income source) and I move into a new year with some additional tasks and more than 350 opportunities to complete them. Once I feel my birthday ducks are in a row, I call in my friends to celebrate.

I turned 26 on Thursday. I technically celebrated for three days and four nights. The night before the big 26, Jesse and I had dinner at the Claim Jumper. It's one of my favorite places that we rarely visit. While we were waiting for our food, Forrest Griffin sat next to us. I was in direct view of his cauliflower ear. Griffin was there with two women. They ate and he didn't. Although I'm pretty sure he got four salads to go. Rich Franklin also came in to the Claim Jumper that night. Apparently it's the preferred restaurant among ultimate fighters.

On Thursday, I did very little. Lucy bought me a scrap booking kit for Christmas and I developed some pictures I'll be using of the cruise. I even assembled one page. And that's really all I accomplished before happy hour. I went with Joel, Lizbeth, Melissa, and her friend Erin to Maggianos. It's my favorite happy hour spot and has my favorite waitress, (Danielle, do you want a lemon drop?) Stacy. She's swell. After two hours of fried cheese and gossip, I went home to open my presents.

A lot of people have asked me what Jesse got me for my birthday -- not 'what did you get for your birthday?' but 'what did Jesse get you for your birthday?' I gave those people vague answers. I don't know what they're hoping to hear, but I do know they're hoping to read into it. I won't knowingly walk into conversation that leaves me making qualifying answers, thank you very much.

On Friday, I did more relaxing. That evening I traveled up north, to watch Dirty Dancing with Kate and Melissa. It's my favorite movie, you might recall. Put it on a big screen, add some pizza, wine, and ice cream and it's a glorious evening. I have great friends.

On Saturday, it was Cinco De Taco, also known as cheap drinks and cheap appetizers. We stayed at the Pink Taco for a few hours, before going to Ellis Island. We tried to just witness the nightly karaoke... demonstration. But the place was packed. There was nowhere to sit and it's not the kind of place where one would like to stand. We called it a night after that, or so I thought. We were one block from home when Jesse changed his mind. But that's another story.

Celebrating 26 was nothing like the extravaganza of 24, (all six parts on this page) or the gala of 25 (which all fit in one post). But I didn't want anything more. I just wanted to have good times with my good friends, and I did. Happy Birthday to me.

01 January 2008

Welcome To My 2008

It feels good to be back.

I was on a blogging sabbatical born of laziness in the face of adversity, but I've decided to get over it. I was reluctant to write without pictures. And once I got a new camera, I was reluctant to post events out of order. Once I had the pictures and the events, I was reluctant to sit down and take the time to do what I felt needed to be done. I was also reluctant to paraphrase because I think every story deserves the same amount of detail. But for all the the things I don't like to do, I refuse to start a new year with unfinished tasks. That brought me a new problem: how do I minimize two and a half months without trivializing what we did?

The answer -- I have just decided -- is to just write it out. So let's get to it.

October 11 - October 13

Ryan & Kelsee came to visit from Fargo. The night they arrived, we walked around the strip until Kelsee and I gave the boys the green light to go play poker. We watched ER and went to bed.

The next day, we ate and slept while Jesse went to work. That night we walked through downtown Las Vegas, saw the sharks at the Golden Nugget, and ended up watching Karaoke at Ellis Island.

I don't remember what we did the following day, but I'm sure it was fun.
We are moving right along aren't we?
October 26

Nora & Jason were back here with the NHRA. The hot rods come here every six months and every 6 months, we paint the town. On that Friday, we went to the Heart Bar at Planet Hollywood, the Carnival Court at Harrah's, and to a "gentleman's club" -- where the cab driver paid my $30 cover (I certainly wasn't going to pay it) and gave me $75 in drink coupons. I guess that' how they get girls to go to clubs for "gentlemen." It worked for this girl.

Nothing exciting for nearly a month, and then Thanksgiving.
November 21 - November 26

We spent Thanksgiving in Devils Lake, North Dakota We flew into Fargo on a Wednesday, shut the town down, and left on the first train heading west. It's sounds a lot more accomplished than it was. In Devils Lake, we ate like kings and queens -- and greedy little pigs. I bought a new camera on Black Friday even though I didn't want to be out shopping. I met Jesse's father's parents and we all went out to the farm. There, I not only sat in a tractor, I learned what's what in a seeder. Exciting.

We stayed out west for four days before going back to Fargo. We stayed with Ryan and made his front door revolve with all the visitors we had. I had to exchange the new camera because of a circle that appeared in almost all of the pictures. Disappointing, but the new camera works just fine. I got to stop at my old job and see the friendly faces. I even got to see a quick blizzard, before we flew back to the desert. Thanksgiving was fantastic.
Don't stop reading now -- we're already in December.
December 2

My friend Kate and I (along with dozens of other people) volunteered at the Las Vegas Marathon. We handed out water to the runners, walkers, and cyclists. It was cold; we were out before the sun and even when it rose, it was hidden behind tall buildings. Even though there were a bunch of people there, as far as I'm concerned, it was an event for me and Kate to enjoy. And we had a fantastic time.
December 8

Two friends of mine decided to have their own Christmas party, ahead of the really busy part of the season. We watched the Mayweather - Hatton fight and Kate's fiance Ross and I made up a game while not playing the Friends trivia nonsense that had captivated most people. It was a relaxing way to start the holiday season.
Then it was Christmastime.
December 15

My company Christmas party was December 15th, and as a member of the Booster Team, I think it was a success. A lot of people (Jesse & Lizbeth) complained that it was boring. But they did not offer any suggestions for improvement. I think they just wanted to find a way to complain about delicious food and free drinks. You just can't please some people.

After the party, we went up to Red Rock Casino Resort Spa. Most of us went to dance, but Jesse and Joel went to play poker. Either way, we were all pleased. Jesse and Lucy just had a luncheon for their Christmas party. I was not invited and I don't even know if there were any prizes given.

December 21 - December 28

Jesse bought tickets to bring his parents here for Christmas. Once again, we ate like kings, queens, and pigs -- but not as much as Thanksgiving. We had a great Christmas, where we all got what we wanted. I did have to work all five days of that week, but I came home to food, wine, & Phase 10. So I really could not complain.
And finally:
December 31

All I wanted to do to end 2007 was watch fireworks. I did not necessarily want to be among the 303,000 people on Las Vegas Boulevard, but it was really the best view. Also, I work close to the strip, so we had a good parking spot that did not require too much walking. There was only one point during the night when I thought there was serious possibility if being crushed. I don't mind tight spaces but I do mind people with strollers blocking pedestrian traffic. And I do mind people thinking they're the only ones who have somewhere to go. Those people are dumb.

Anyway, we did find a spacious spot to watch the fireworks and afterwards we went to a local bar for $2 quesadillas and $1 mini-cheeseburgers. We were out until about 2:30 in the morning. And I woke up in 2008 inspired by the promise of change.
There you have it. October to December, abridged. I have a birthday coming up on Thursday and after that, I am promising to write five times a week. I've decided I want to be a writer. And I'll only get better if I write all the time, so that's what I'm going to do.