Saturday, December 31, 2005

Smells You can See

This essay was originally written and broadcast on Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousand of miles and all the years you have lived.
--Helen Keller

Isn’t that an amazing statement?

Of course, some of the most profound thoughts were expressed by Helen Keller… born without the senses with which most of us are equipped, and yet despite those physical shortcomings, she developed an incredible capacity to perceive, understand, explain and express herself, in many ways far better than “normal” people around her. I think Helen Keller is one of the most inspirational personalities in American history.

Isn’t it funny how a smell can transport you to another time and place?

Fried chicken does that to me. Crispy, crusty, salty, crunchy fried chicken from my grandmother’s stove top in the house my grandfather built with his own hands. I can still see that kitchen--the splashboard behind the sink trimmed in white and black ceramic octagonal tiles, and a floor that creaked and squeaked when you walked across the flowered linoleum. Grandmother Clanton's kitchen always carried the aromas of Sunday dinner cooking, supplied by a pantry brimming with home-canned jellies and jams, and usually a quick treat to bribe me to leave.

Patchouli is another fragrance that can send me spinning back to high school in the ‘70’s, with the rich, warm musky smell of a gentle girlfriend’s perfume, daubed at the nape of her neck, and sweetly wafting from her hair with the feathered bangs.

I can still hear the slam of the locker doors, the echoes of voices shouting, laughing, and calling out to one another in the commons before classes. Remember the sharp tang of the mimeograph machines? Purple on white pages, lined with fill-in-the-blanks, multiple-guess questions, and essay challenges. We’d take one and pass it back, pressing the stack to our faces to inhale the traces of whatever it was that made that machine work.
Today they’d throw you in detention for that—isn’t that like sniffing glue? What did we know then?

Do you remember what a newborn baby smells like-- just home for the first time from the hospital, all swathed in yellow flannel: The smell of clean linen and baby oil. Picture that memory, and you can also hear the gentle sound of unencumbered slumber, see the subtle flickers of the eyes beneath the tiniest of eyelids, not yet accustomed to seeing light.
Sometimes I can see my children as I saw them for the first time—each one—and all it takes is the lid left off a box of baby powder. The smell of innocence and promise, hope, and perfection.

There is an overpass on the highway I drive each day that passes behind a candle factory. I never knew this until I took a detour one afternoon, when the freeway was clogged in a rain storm, and I discovered the wholesale candle factory outlet store, tucked away on a street still boasting a rounded asphalt surface, and lush, green bar ditches on either side, brimming with rain water run off.

In the early morning hours as I passed by on my way to work, I would drive through a zone of air so rich with the aroma of the previous night’s candle making, that it would drive my senses wild: seductive roses, warm and friendly vanillas, and sweetly thick magnolia scents. Each one a flavor of a memory, unlocked in my subconscious until resurrected by a unique twinge in my olfactory…the smells of childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and last year--just a delicate sniff away from instant recall.

You’re passing through a memory right now—what is it?
Roll down the window: whether it’s a newly-mown field on the outskirts of your commute, fresh tar poured over a new stretch of pavement down town, or a new batch of doughnuts popping out of the machine at the corner... savor the smells. Savor the moments, and someday, years from now, when that chemical combination again tinkers with your nose, you’ll remember what you were doing, right about now.

May the new experiences you share in 2006 be the foundations for wonderful memories in the years ahead.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005


This morning I mentioned today's show conlcuded the third week of originating from The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda, and that I would shortly be cleaning up the room before my Bride decides to trade me in on a less-messy model. Somewhere in that soliloquy, I made a vain promise to publish before and after photos of how this remote broadcasting outpost could really be tidied up.

Silly me.

Someone actually dared me to put up or shut up. So, I am putting up on the site for your viewing pleasure the ugly inside look at the scene behind the scenes here each morning. This is what my Bride wakes up to--except it's worse: I am usually sitting before these glowing screens, unshaven and be-robed. I usually need breakfast, she is gently reminded. This goes on each weekday morning.

Today after the show, I did follow through on my promise to tidy up, and here is the photographic proof you demanded. I realize the rig on the left ain't no piece of Queen Anne furniture, but hey, it is an improvement over the former, don't you agree?

I don't think anyone is going to be hiring me as an interior decorator anytime soon. Which is why I will see you on the Radio!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happier New Year

This morning we backed into a discussion about the merits of education and its impact on levels of success. A University of Chicago survey published this week suggested We the People are a bit more stressed and a little less ebullient about our prospects in the coming New Year.

It is not surprising that the number of those reporting at least one significant "negative life event" since 1991 jumped from 88% to 92%. The storms this past summer alone would account for that. September 11, 2001 also fell into that window, so the jump in negativity is plausible...

But wait, there's more.

The U of C survey provides several interesting metrics about the people who answered their phones to participate, including the fact that 15% had been unemployed for a month, four points higher than in 1991. That might be an inherent flaw in the survey: Who better to answer the phone than someone who's not at work?

The part of the poll that got me really cranked up on education was the observation that troubles were greatest among those with low income, poor education levels and among unmarried mothers. I think that the first two factors are defintely connected, and reversing the second factor is a key to solving problems for those in categories one and three.


Education is the key to a better income.
Education is the key to a better way of life.

A listener sent an e-mail to share that she teaches at the inner-city campus of a major state university, and she sees a pervasive attitude that students feel they are owed a diploma if they've paid the tuition. She wrote that mind-set is even more pronounced for those who are attending on someone else's tuition dollars--i.e. through state or federal programs paying their way by virtue of their "disadvantaged" social status.

Anyone getting their college paid for by someone else is at no disadvantage, unless, of course, they squander the opportunity by failing to apply themselves. But that's not the mentality, according to our listener, who's in a position to know: she is in the college classroom, where the rubber meets the road, or in this case, where the chalk scrapes the blackboard.

Not happy with how 2005 panned out for you?

Make 2006 the year you do something about it...and if your path to success leads through a classroom or two, more power to you! You'll pay for the priviledge to learn, you'll work for the recognition of your achievement...and you'll be a richer person for the experience.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Houston, We have a Problem

Today is the start of my third week doing my radio show from my home.
I could get used to this.

Hot breakfast served by the prettiest woman I know...newspaper brought to my beverage glass is constantly freshened. And when I finish the show, I either crawl back into the rack (pre-warmed by the aforementioned woman), or read the paper cover to cover while soaking in a sitz bath--Doctor's orders.

This morning's show was marked by our first audio interruption in three weeks. I connect from The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda via a Comrex Matrix POTS codec.

That's fancy talk for what we call a "blue box," which encodes analog audio into digital "one's and zero's," ships it down a Plain Old Telephone System line (my house phone) to the Radio station, where a companion POTS codec de-codes the one's and zero's back into analog.
The magic comes out your speakers.

This morning the Blue Box failed me in mid-sentance.
Just stopped working.
Cold turkey.
Dead air.

I did not curse. In fact, I continued talking, hoping against hope the box was still pumping my one's and zero's into the ether. It wasn't.

My Producer, Buddy, nimbly hit a piece of audio in the studio and went to a break, while we scrambled to get the circuit restored. Just in time to stop for our pal, Lou Dobbs' report.

Fortunately, the Blue Box behaved itself the rest of the morning.

See you in the morning on the Radio.

Monday, December 26, 2005


‘Tis the week after Christmas,
and all through the house…
The decorations and tinsel and lights
all have been doused.
The stockings that had hung
from the mantel with care,
Once plumped with anticipation,
are now deflated and spare.

They’re all boxed and labeled and put away for the year,
Along the with new stuff: 50%-off really spreads lots of cheer!
And the old year is waning, the new year on deck—
That’s how we keep track on this rock (we’re just a speck).

The idea of Christmas all year has some merit—
Not for the gifts and the giving and getting—I couldn't bear it.
But I’d vote for an annual season of Thanksgiving
To put in proper perspective the spirit’s true meaning.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

ANWR: Bah! Humbug!

If I could send a lump of coal to each U.S. Senator for Christmas, I would. Some of them might find a lump of lignite handy in light of their vote Wednesday night to deny development of energy resources in Alaska. For people who are smart enough to keep getting re-elected to office, they sure seem like a dense bunch.

The proposal to allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve was dropped from legislation that also included funding for defense spending projects. If it weren’t so tragic it would be amusing to see this amazing disconnect between the two issues.

Why are we so interested in what happens in the Middle East?
Why are we helping foster democratic reforms in Iraq?
Okay—it is the right thing to do, but there’s also that Oil thing.

America needs secure sources of energy, and the Middle East has it in abundance. So we’re willing to spend money to send U.S. troops to that corner of the world to bleed and die for democracy, freedom...and the pursuit of oil.

Meanwhile back home, America is being overrun by a philosophy of “not in my back yard.” Everyone wants cheap gasoline, but no one is willing to allow more drilling on the West Coast, East Coast, or in Alaska.

(Actually—the people of Alaska have no problem with ANWR drilling—it’s the environmentalist elite in Washington that’s blowing enough hot air to melt the Polar Ice Cap)

(Hmm…interesting corollary to global warming theory.)

So we’re left with most of America’s petroleum production clustered along our Gulf Coast, where it can be (and has been) ravaged by Summer Hurricanes, and the price we pay is not just in higher costs for motor fuels, but also in the level of dependence we still have on foreign oil sources.

I really don’t want to hear some Democrat Senator honking in the next campaign about how the Bush Administration has no energy policy, when Congress guts legislation to turn us back towards more domestic production. So long as we’re beholden to imported petroleum products, we’re going to be in double-jeopardy, dealing with the problem of national security and energy dependency on people for whom U.S. interests are not a priority.

Too bad politics took precedence over prescience this week in Washington.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Totally Tubeless

This is the next in a series of pieces on my post-op progress following prostate cancer surgery two weeks ago (12/5). If you’re squeamish, go to the next blog.

Yesterday they took out my catheter. Some people call this a foley—I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure the department store doesn’t appreciate the word association. From now on, “let’s go to Foley’s” will not have pleasant connotations for me.

Actually, after hearing all the dire predictions of how uncomfortable it was going to be to pull several inches of rubber tubing out of the end of my penis--and remembering what the doctor said just before he removed my abdominal drain tube (“you’re not going to like this much”)--the moment was almost anti-climactic.


There was one, last sharp twinge, deep inside, as he said, “I’ll just twist this (the catheter) to loosen it up first…” followed by a distinct burning sensation as the horrid invader snaked out of my snake. I could almost smell the burning rubber…

It also helped that my bride and World’s Greatest Nurse had doped me up with sufficient levels of doctor-recommended Vicodin, Motrin, and Xanax prior to the procedure. Don’t laugh; I had asked the nurse if they happened to have any Nitrous Oxide on hand.

So I no longer feel like a three-legged piano stool. Now, I’m into indoor field & track and water sports: Can I make it from the bed to the bathroom before my weakened, tortured sphincter loses the battle with fluids that have built up in my bladder in the past three minutes--when I last leaped towards the Great Ceramic Pedestal?

My next challenge is to regain control of those magical muscles in my nether regions that control such things. (A visitor tonight commented I looked like a King, propped up in bed, writing this piece.)

Given the content, I feel more like the Prince of Tides.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Time Well Spent

My convalescence has resulted in an abundance of Time to Get Things Done on the Phone. I mentioned last week a series of successes with various entities. Happy to report that my patience on the phone resulted in a 99-cent natural gas bill this month, a $10 gift card from the newspaper subscription department, and a win while tilting at windmills with the County Appraisal District.

I believe in telling good stories about people who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty in doing their job.

Cynthia Gray is one such individual.

Cynthia spent a lot of time with me on the phone last week from her cubicle at the County Appraisal District. The County managed to ignore my valuation protest this Summer, and certified my home value way higher than it should have been. Cynthia’s job is to unravel those kinds of things, and she had her cut out for herself with me, especially since I am unable to travel about town right now.

But she persevered—on my behalf—even going into the office last Saturday morning to finish up several cases like mine. Within ten minutes in our final phone call together, she was able to verify the actual sales price of our home when we acquired it last March, and certified the price as the correct valuation for the taxing authorities. She also promised that her office would contact the other tax offices and our mortgage escrow department with the correct figures.

Lots of dirt is flung at the County Appraisal offices around the state. Some of it may be justified. But at the Harris County Appraisal District, Cynthia Gray is worth her weight in gold. Or at least a tax deduction!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Nothing but Time...

One of the lesser-known benefits of being under post-operative “house arrest” is that you can get a lot of personal phone work accomplished that is just impossible to do during the day at the office.

Normally, you get home in the evening, and in the day’s mail is a letter you must respond to right away, which is impossible. Business hours are past.

But when you’re laying up in bed, captive in your own castle with a wireless phone at your elbow, there’s little you can’t accomplish. All it takes is a commodity of which you’ve got plenty—time.

For example, last week I began to see statements from the various school district taxing authorities arrive in my mail box. Ho hum, boring, I thought.

Woops—the county appraisal district failed to honor my protest, and certified an obscenely high value upon which to base my property taxes for the next year.

No problem…with time on my hands, and a mouse at my fingertips, I accessed the property information on line, and called the County Appraisal District. Spoke with a very helpful employe named Bertram (like the yacht, she said), who took my story, verified my information, and agreed that the appraisal office had, indeed, erred in certifying my values without a hearing. She’d have someone get back to me by the end of the next day.

That call took 55-minutes, including the hang-up when they dropped my call on accident, and Bertram called me back. Could not have possibly accomplished that during a regular workday.

The very next day I received a call that normally would have been left on my answering machine. One of the doctors we use has had a terrific time collecting from our health insurance company. That’s the germ of a whole other piece. Seems there’s a disagreement on what deductibles had been reached this year, which calls for a call to the health insurance company.

Ever call your health coverage provider at work? It’s technically business-related, right, since your employer provides you with the benefit, right? But try to get anything like that done on the phone from the office…forgettaboutit.

I began to punch in digits on the phone…and 43-minutes later, I’d negotiated three voice-activated, automated calling trees, spoken with two customer service representatives, and had extracted an e-mail of the records I needed from one entity, and a fax number to which I could send them to the other entity. And a partridge in a pear tree.

No way I’d have gotten that done at the office.

Today, I got a piece in the mail from our newspaper route salesman telling me I owed back subscriptions for two months, and asking for the next three months to be paid ahead.
Say what?
Thought my paper subscriptions were debited monthly…

I got to thinking about this. If the paper route I am on includes 1,000 customers, and only half of the subscribers pony up that kind of cash, this will be a very merry Christmas for the paper person, despite the fact she has to throw her route Christmas morning. Couldn’t she have just worked out a co-op with Santa the night before?

So, with the morning paper already comfortably crumpled at my feet on the comforter at the foot of the bed, I smiled and dialed the toll-free number to the newspaper subscription department.

I know what the music will be like in Hell. They’re playing it on hold at the newspaper.

Mercifully, I only had to hold for 13-minutes before a seasonally-cheery telemarketing/customer service operator came on the line. Not only did she confirm I’d been paying monthly, but something had gone amiss, she brought the account current through the end of the year, set me up for monthly auto drafts, and dropped a $10 gift card in the mail to me.

No, there’s no way you can get that kind of follow through on a phone call from the office.

You know, the county never did call me back about that first issue. Good thing my calendar is clear for tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda

Some of you have asked how I am doing, and why I am doing the show from home this week. The next question that always pops up is HOW we’re getting the show from The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda onto the airwaves and to you.


And lots of luck.
And even more patience and accommodation by my bride.

We arise at 4am, which is sleeping late for me! I start three computers booting, and take care of the unique plumbing requirements of my recovery from surgery (you really don’t want to know those details.)

By 4:15, I am “re-plumbed,” and sitting in a soft cushy chair, on a softer, more-cushy pillow, which by the end of the show might as well be a piece of granite. Mit Tai, my Producer, has sent me a list of my guests the day before, and I begin to assemble the notes and thoughts that I want to include in the day’s show.

A glance at Matt Drudge’s website, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Ft. Worth Star, all make up part of my routine “beat” each morning. I filter through the various e-mails that have arrived overnight, too. FYI, comments from this Blog are automatically routed to my e-mail inbox.

By 5am I have a working outline for the show, and Buddy Cantu, my Studio Producer, arrives at the station and we link up first by Instant Message. At that point the magic really does begin. My bride gets up and cooks me breakfast.

But there’s more.
The companies that operate the BizRadio Network have created a private fiber network that connects offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. From my home, I tap into that network on a secure, encoded line, and link the house with the station.

If you’re into technical stuff, I am using a Groove Tube GT-55 mic, fed into a Eurorack 1202FX mixer, which feeds into the computer that’s making the link from here to there.
It’s deceptively simple.

At the station, Buddy sets a few switches and sliders, and feeds back down the line to me an audio stream from the station. We usually listen to Jazz CD’s while we’re prepping for the show.

At 5:30a, Buddy and I re-confirm our connections, and Tim Wolfe links up from his news center. At that point it’s a race against the clock. At 6am, more magic—a computer deep within the bowels of the broadcast complex switch our control room to “live” status, and we begin our broadcast day.

Buddy fields the phone calls, cues the orchestra, and brings my guests and the feed from the house up on the master console in the control room. For three hours, we take calls, coordinate guests, feeds from Tim, and IM’s and e-mails from you.

By 9am, I am spent.
I need more meds, and Buddy is already working ahead to Michael Norman’s show, fed in similar fashion from his secret lair on Wall Street. And that plumbing issue needs to be tended to.

I will return to the doctor on Monday, when the “plumbing”will be removed, and I can begin the final phase of healing from my operation. I get stronger each day, but still tire easily. I am one of the lucky one’s. I will not require chemotherapy or radiation. Besides, the show must go on.

See you in the morning on the radio.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Letter

I receive hundreds of interesting tidbits of information and pieces via e-mail each week from lots of different sources. You may see some of these in an e-mail forward weeks or months from now. But every once in a while, one will drop into my lap that is so astonishing, I have to share it with you right away…

One of the lists I am on is from Rubel Shelly, because I believe that your success in business and in life is, in part, a direct connection with your level of spirituality and how you are able to apply those aspects to your secular life. There is a connection…it does matter…and I suppose most of us are a bit more attuned to such an aspect at this time of year.

Mr. Shelley has illuminated an interesting movement starting to pick up steam across the country. Those of you who have received e-mail replies from me with a scolding attachment correcting some mistatement of the facts (I love know that I am more than a little cynical about some of these "movements"…because they tend to be knee-jerk fads that come and go. They are often shallow.

But this one shows real promise.
Churches across the country are offering workshops to teach people how to write love letters.


Love letters.

Not soft porn, re-worked Barry White lyrics, or wooing-letters to the love- besmitten. Honest, from the heart letters written in true love and appreciation of the relatonships that make up the tapestry of our lives.

And all denominations are picking up on the importance of this idea of writing love letters…Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, and Baptists have participated. From California to Florida, Texas to Alaska, people are enrolling.

An initiator of this movement is a 57-year-old man who found his late father's banged-up tackle box while cleaning out his garage. It dawned on him that the tangled, rusty fishing lures in that box were all he had left from his dad's hands. And he was suddenly angry at his father for not leaving him something more personal and substantive from his heart.

Then he wondered if he was doing any better by his own children. Wouldn’t you wonder that, too? How many of you have, or know of those you have in the last year undertaken the process of going through the “stuff” of a loved one, and reflecting upon our own situation. If you dropped dead, what would you leave your loved one’s?

On a business station, at this point, we generally like to talk about estate planning, and making sure all those important financial, fiduciary bases are covered. That’s important stuff, alright, but there’s more to it than that.

Greg Vaughn, the man left with little more than his father’s tackle box, resolved that day to leave his children letters-- documenting joys he had shared with them, his hopes for their future, his pride in their achievements. Letters about his faith in them as persons. And so it was from that event--and Vaughn's experiences in sharing it with some friends--that "Letters From Dad" was born.

Stop and think honestly for minute, when was the last time you sat down and wrote someone a real letter – as opposed to text messaging or just signing a birthday card? A letter that did not involve a sales call follow-up, a demand for accounts due, or any other business function.

Isn’t it amazing that we can crank-out mind-numbing business epistles, memos that run for paragraphs and paragraph, and subject our peers to Death by Power-Point…but sitting down and putting onto paper what’s inside your heart for those closest to you—without the therefore’s, where-of’s, and what-so-ever legalese – that’s hard.
That requires focus and concentration.
Writting a letter calls for a certain minimum-level of creative energy to communicate clearly. And it almost always pulls up feelings along with mere facts and memories.

That's why it is so hard for men to write one.
Ladies, you’d benefit from putting things on paper too.
But guys seem to have a tougher time with feelings. We struggle to put emotional content into conversations with people who mean the most to us.

So an occasional "Love ya!" in passing, or "Love, Bob" at the bottom of a greeting card is all some wives, children, or parents ever get from their husbands, dads, and sons.

So I am joining with Rubel Shelley in recommending an idea to you: Whatever else you give your mate or your offspring or your parents this Christmas, write them a love letter to go with it.

There's still time to write them.
There are 11-days until Christmas.
Write the letters.
Sleep on them.
Revise them and make them better.

Just put some of your heart on paper to them.
Tell her how important she is to you.
Let him know you are proud of him.
Thank her for what she does to make your life better.
Forget literary flourish.
Put some love on paper.
Offer it shamelessly.

Continue the practice next year – on an anniversary, birthday, or special event. Or just write one out of the blue.

The people you love both need and deserve to know it. What a wonderful legacy you can begin today—for Christmasses in the future.

Friday, December 09, 2005


If it’s been a while since you were a patient in a hospital, you may be in for a few surprises. In recent years there has been more emphasis placed on allowing family members to become a more integral part of the treatment and healing process. My brother, who is a doctor, jokingly remarked he might want to “scrub-in” for my recent procedure.

Having family and friends with you in the hospital makes a world of difference in the recovery process. Sometimes, it’s the difference between life and death, when alert relatives are able to recognize problems and summon help in time to avoid fatal mistakes in patient care.

I had a great nursing staff waiting on me during a four-day hospitalization for prostate cancer surgery. The nurses and physicians’ assistants were excellent in their responses to my needs, and provided a quality environment for my post-surgical care. It also helped that there was a lead advocate for my care right next to me, every step of the way, each day and night of my stay. Slept in my room, in fact.

The best caregiver I have ever had is also my helpmeet, my soul-mate, the mother of my children, and has been by side for the past 26-years. It’s fortunate that hospitals recognize the enormously healthful bond between husbands and wives, when one of the partners is in their care. I can’t imagine how my recovery would have been without my bride by my side. She can’t imagine being anywhere else.

I am a fortunate man, indeed.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Prescription for Appreciation

Bedside at The Clanton Hacienda--There is an un-sung corps of workers today that deserve far more attention than they receive, are vastly underpaid (I suspect,) and without whom, many of us would literally not survive some of the things life throws in our path.

For the past four days, I have been the joint responsibility of a cadre of healthcare professionals at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. These dedicated men and women doted over me with fresh sheets and towels, collection and disposal of various bodily fluids, and endured my lame wit and absence of dexterity in handling simple electronic tools (like hospital TV remote control boxes). I never knew there were so many different ways of presenting a “clear liquid diet.”

When you go to the hospital, you check a lot of things at the door: Personal freedom, your sense of style, all modicums of modesty, and to an extent, personal responsibility—all bagged and tagged for when you leave.

Clothing is replaced by what must have been Mao’s wet dream in fashion advances: one-size-fits-most gowns, that are equally revealing coming or going. Modesty is practiced only by the nursing staff on themselves. Once the admission forms are completed, there’s very little in the way of personal responsibility with which you should trouble your head. They even give pills to make you poop.

I found the nursing staff at St. Luke’s to be kind and professional , going above and beyond the call of duty, whether it was for pain medication in the middle of the night, or working out the correct sequencing of events ("Why don't you shower before changing that dressing?," etc.)

I don’t think I will miss getting my vital signs checked every two hours the night following my operation, but knowing they were going to be close by and were checking on my wellbeing that first, pain-fogged night, was a comfort. And they knew all the answers.

So, my heart-felt appreciation, admiration, and thanks to Bill, Diane, Christine, Shelia, Shaneeka, and those who were but nameless faces in the pain-haze of that first overnight shift.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Program Notes and Looking Ahead

T-minus three days and counting…about this time on Monday morning, I will be feeling no pain, thanks to the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals. I will be off the air all next week, following cancer surgery scheduled for early Monday morning. We’ve done a pretty good job of lining up some interesting guest-hosts for the show that we hope you will enjoy and appreciate listening to…

Monday and Tuesday former congressman Chris Bell will be discussing the business of immigration, and how immigration affects business…health insurance reform, and a few other surprises and connections from his sphere of influence from Austin to Washington D. C.

Wednesday, Jack Warkenthien and C. J. Coolidge will get you pumped up and ready for the middle of the week with some strategies for working through the rough spots in office politics and getting ahead in your career.

Thursday’s guest hosts will be our special version of the Three Amigo’s—Jon Vaughn as ringleader for Bill Payne and John Bott…a weekday morning version of "What’s Working Now," and things you won’t hear about anywhere else but here on The BizRadioNetwork…

Friday’s show will feature three special guests with Jack Warkenthien: Financial guru Rick Friedman, Wilka Toppins, Latin American business attorney extraordinaire, and the man who created bottled lightning and uses it every morning as a hair tonic, Harold Gunn. All in all, an interesting blend of characters and content next week…you may not want me back!

Many of you may not know I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer—I’ve not made a secret of it—have discussed it at length on my blog several times—but I’ve also intentionally not made my cancer a personal crusade of any type.

This show really isn’t about me—it’s about you, it’s about how you can have a richer, more successful life, and about how you can leverage your success for the good of those around you. But you’ve got to stick around a few years for that to happen, so I will be a more strident advocate for the concept of early detection, and the methods available to you for that, because that’s how we caught mine.

I have cancer.
I have friends with cancer, and theirs is much more serious than mine—although the procedure I will be having Monday morning is the closest male equivalent of a hysterectomy, so far as I can tell.
Hence the non-recreational pharmaceuticals.
I’m working on really bonding with my anesthesiologist--kept asking his nurse, Lei, for samples at the Pre-Op appointment.

Cancer is serious stuff…but it need not be a death sentence, especially if you catch it in time. Guys, I know we don’t like to talk about this stuff in polite company…the but truth is, we don’t like to talk about it, period, whether company is polite or rude, crude and socially-challenged. Get over it. Since my initial announcement in late October, I have had more and more people (men) confide that because of my comments here, they have heeded the message and gotten their PSA levels checked. That’s a no-brainer.

Starting the process earlier is pretty straightforward, too. Do it today, you’ll feel better tomorrow—at least you’ll derive some peace of mind that these kinds of things are being monitored. Again, early detection is the key, and you must have a base line from which to determine your status from year to year.

I would also like to thank those of you in the audience who have been so thoughtful in expressing your good wishes and support for me and my family as we begin what will surely be a challenging time in our lives. I personally appreciate so much you who have shared with me your own experiences with cancer, especially those who’ve gone through this particular procedure.

On paper this looks pretty straightforward; they tell me the radical prostatectomy procedure is fairly routine, with the usual risks associated with any abdominal surgery, with one or two unique twists thrown in, just to make things interesting.
Look, it may be routine for the docs who do this for a living, but not for me.
Have I mentioned my gratitude for modern pharmacology?

So that’s it. I have cancer, it’s been discovered early, we’re addressing it appropriately, and the prognosis is excellent for my recovery. It’s just going to take some time, and I believe we’ve assembled a credible cast of players to keep you stimulated and informed next week.

When next you hear my voice, I will be broadcasting from the solarium at The Clanton Hacienda. Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and support.

Now, where’s that Xanax sample…?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wright Turns

The latest wrinkle in the Wright Amendment War was creased and starched yesterday when President George Bush allowed an exception to the rule, enabling flights from Love Field to Missouri…and American Airlines announced plans to resume some flight operations from the in-town airport.

Apparently, Missouri loves company, and American knows it.

American also knows that it could lose market share without a presence at Love Field—which would seem to be a departure from the hard line alliance with D-FW airport, and another mark on the tote board for rescinding The Wright Amendment.

Missouri is the 9th state to nail down service from Love Field. The new market includes lucrative connections to St. Louis and Kansas City…and this might be the nail in the coffin for the restrictions imposed by the Wright Amendment.

Isn’t it interesting to see competition at work?

For a company that was such a staunch ally of the Dallas-Ft. Worth airpot, American will be going after the new market in a big way--literally--flying its larger 710 jets out of Love Field. American is going to match Southwest's ticket pricing, too.

Amazing what unfettered competition can do.

Here are the next questions—who’s next at Love Field? Continental?
And what about Dallas’ master plan for development around Love Field? What of the politicians who were so vocally against rescinding the Wright restrictions (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson) as well as suspiciously silent either way (Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson)?

It may take a tower full of air traffic controllers to coordinate lawmakers' flight plan revisions as the windsock of change seems to be doing a Wright one-eighty.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Risky Imagination

Outsourcing seems to be the way to go. Think of it as global sub-contracting. On paper it makes sense to farm-out a job you can get done more cheaply…unless there’s an unhidden cost or risk.

One of the things that keeps the Homeland Security people up at night is wondering how the next bad guys are going to get into the country to do their evil deeds. If it can be imagined, it can be done. The movie, “Red Dawn,” is based upon the premise that the US could be invaded from Mexico, the continent divided up the middle, and essential conquered in two. They dreamed up that scenario twenty five years ago, long before the appearance of Al Qaida.

President Bush will make stops in Arizona and Texas this week to address an issue that has divided some members of his own Republican Party -- illegal immigration.

What if the bad guys were to dress like the good guys, and get into the country in disguise? What if the bad guys were to dress like Border Patrol agents, and just let the rest of their friends in?

The main supplier of uniforms for US Border Patrol Agents is a company based in Nashville, Tennessee, VF Solutions…which subs-out some of its work to other garment manufacturing plants in Mexico…Canada…and The Dominican Republic.

Here’s another thought for you: We all know that the major networks would love nothing more than to see a female US President. Geena Davis’ role in “Commander in Chief” is how The Media would have you think you’d like things to be. Same rationale behind "The West Wing"—it’s how the creative intelligentsia wanted things to be.

There’s a new crop of shows in development now that makes you wonder what these people are thinking…or smoking. According to Variety Magazine, some of next year’s hits will be based upon the premise of the demise of America. ABC-TV’s vision of a post-apocalyptic realm is portrayed in two shows, “Resistance,” and “Red & Blue,” CBS is going the plague route with “Four Horsemen,” those apocalyptic wranglers, and another imagines life might be like a small town named Jericho, after the walls fell down.

Variety quotes one TV exec observing that “the creative community appears to be really inspired this year.” Sounds to me like they’re all off their meds. What’s even sadder than TV shows built around the destruction of our country is that people will watch them…and advertisers will support them.

If art is imitating life, 2006 will really suck.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thankfully posted...

Sometimes I'm so grateful for things my knees go weak.
In a world in which everything counts, when's the last time you tallied your count?
The totals are staggering.

As I look around the table today, surrounded by my bride's people (I am the outlaw), it's an amazing amalgam of philosophies, occupations, even shapes and styles:
A Gospel preacher...
A glazer...
A sportscaster...
An animal husbandrist (is that a word? He breaks-in horses...)
A hair stylist (technically, counting my bride, there are two present...)
A retiree...
A pair of housewives, one of which is also a teachers' assistant...
A hardware store employee...
A college student...
An airframe mechanic...
A third-grader...
...and yours truly, able blogger to some, Talk Show Host to many, father to two, and one and only husband to my bride of 26-years next month.

I am thankful, indeed, for the blessing and priviledge to be invited into your car radios and desktop computers and who knows how else you listen each day. I am grateful for your support, appreciative of your suggestions for improvement, and fascinated by what fascinates you.

I am more than glad for my job--I am indeed fortunate to work for a fair and benevolent employer who values my skills and grants me the freedom to use my God-given talents.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful cast of colleagues and support staff who are every bit as passionate about their jobs and their contribution to the stations' success as am I.

We have much to distract us this Thanksgiving 2005, with cleanups from storms, extra people in town, the war, the border, the price of gasoline, and the cost of eggs in China--especially with Avian Flu. But there is much for which we can truly be thankful, living as we do, where we do, with whom we are blessed to be living.

I hope your Thanksgiving Day is festive, full of friends and family, and is festooned with the reality of all the blessings we enjoy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Be Ye Filled and Warmed"

Houston-- Politics makes for strange bed fellows and business partners…Would you believe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is shipping cheap heating oil to the Northeast to help less-fortunate Americans weather the winter chill this season?

The Chavez administration is not a big fan of the Bush administration, so Venezuela’s state-owned oil company is supplying oil at 40% below market price through it’s US subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum, to be distributed through a couple of non-profit groups, Citizens Energy Corp and the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance.

Under an agreement brokered by Democrat Representative William Delahunt with the Chavez government, low-income Massachusetts residents could receive discounted home heating oil this winter. Remember the Chavez government is a political adversary of Mr. Bush. Remember, too, that most Northeastern congressmen have staunchly resisted development of petroleum reserves along the East Coast over the years. So, apparently, it's far less difficult to negotiate for cheap oil from one of America's "least-favored" foreign neighbors than it is to develop and provide energy domestically.

Is this a blatant grab for positive PR by the Chavez government, or a literal illustration of the political theory of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” It obviously is a pitch for headlines for the Democrat Representative of that fair state, apparently willing to go to any lengths to embarass George Bush. Makes you wonder…

It’s pretty embarrassing for Congress, however, which supported Venezuela’s previous, "new" government after a coup in 2002. That leadership was subsequently booted out of office--which was re-taken by Chavez, who is now addressing an issue that the US leadership has failed to adequately manage in this country.

Hugo Chavez’ style of governancet is two-fisted: one of velvet, the other of steel. He buys loyalty from his constituents by providing the necessities of life cheaply, while repressing any form of dissent. Chavez believes America’s poor are the result of rampant Capitalism.'s interesting to note the per capita GDP for Venezuela last year was about $5,800...while the US GDP was $40,100. You do the math. Where would you rather live?

Perhaps the perceived trend in this country towards a mentality of looking to the government for sustenance from the womb to the tomb is being exploited by Venezuela as an opportunity to embarrass President Bush and the Republican Leadership, while currying favor from poor (and relatively naive) Americans in the Northeast this winter.

And so the dilemma for Massachusetts’ poor shapes up to be a question of whether you have enough patriotism—and income—to stay warm this winter, or accept the charitable discount from a despotic country willing to turn up the heat on President Bush, at 40%-off. Representative Delahunt seems to have already made up his mind.

While the US government’s operating theory appears to be “be ye warmed and filled,” Hugo Chavez’ message is more like “be ye filled and warmed.”

Monday, November 21, 2005

Two To's Too Many

The Clanton Hacienda-- My daughter sent me an instant message this morning. Short, to the point. I thanked her. She IM’d me back, “your welcome.”

I sat there for a minute, staring at the screen.
Your welcome?”

I just put her through 14-years of public school (including Cosmo school), and I get “your welcome”?

So, I IM’d her back, “you’re.”
“(contraction of you and are)”

She IM’d me back, “r u kidding me?”

Before I could respond that as her loving parent, it was my responsibility to provide these gentle corrections, and that I didn’t want her to appear an ignorant reflection of her Dad and Mom, she typed another line to me, “I don’t have time for this.”

So there you have it.
You can IM to your heart’s delight, or in many cases, “2 yur hartz d-lite,” and I guess the normal rules of the grammatical road don’t apply.

Your vs you’re.

That’s one of those minor English conundrums like To, Too, and Two.
Hey, I’m no William Safire, but I, too, like to use the right word, especially when there are more than two ways to spell a similar-sounding word, a.k.a “homonymn.” Notice how I cleverly worked all three into the same sentence?

Here’s another one that sort of gets my goat in a minor way:
Their vs they’re vs there.

The possessive pronoun vs the contraction vs the adverb.

Then, there’s their’s vs theirs vs there’s.
Pick which word isn’t really a word.
You won’t find their’s there in the dictionary.

Minor stuff…like then and than…used to vs use to…who vs whom. Merry, marry, Mary.
You get the idea. No wonder California public schools would just as soon teach Ebonics.

But the one that really sends me over the edge on the grammarmometer is regardless vs irregardless. Regardless of what some may think or say, “irregardless” is a double-negative, and really not a word.

Fo shizzle.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Checking-in from Utah

Salt Lake City—I have been here since Thursday evening, attending a Leadership Conference for Volunteers in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Salt Lake City is one of the cleanest cities I have ever visited. Maybe it’s the Mormon influence, or maybe it’s because Salt Lakian’s (is that the proper term?) are among the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered. I suspect it’s both.

By night, the city is laid out in a matrix of electric jewels, ringed by snow-capped mountains gleaming under a November full moon. By day, it’s a charming combination of westward-ho ruggedness and sparkling contemporary applications of aluminum and steel in angles and arcs. Mountains peek between the skyscrapers like silent sentinels of progress, reminders of the city’s origins. And it’s so clean.

I attend these leadership conferences once a year as part of my responsibility to the local chapter. But what I gain from the personal stories, news ideas, and talks with the doctors and researchers who are using LLS-generated fund is beyond measure.

There are basically three kinds of cancer: Bone, tissue, and blood. Since 1960 the survival rates for blood cancers have doubled, and in some cases, have tripled, thanks to the research that has been made possible by funds raised by the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society.

I used to attend these meetings with a comparatively detached form of interest; I did not have leukemia, although I had lost friends and family members to the disease. This year’s meeting has been different, because I have attended for the first time as a cancer patient. Having cancer can really crystallize the mission and the message of what this organization is about.

Like the Pig and the Chicken discussing making breakfast for the farmer, the chicken is interested in contributing…the pig has a different level of commitment at stake.

Funds provided by LLS were a large part of the success in bringing Gleevec to market, which has been a miracle drug for people with CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia). Now doctors at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah like Katherine Ullman, Ph.D., and Paul Shami, M.D., are working on research into cell nucleus structure and operation to find a key to stopping rapid cell division—a hallmark of cancer cells. Dr. Shami is figuring out how to use Nitric Oxide (NO) to kill Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) cells.

Also in the labs right now is a new pill for CML for patients resistant to Gleevec, enzyme inhibitors for clinical trials for AML treatment, and more filling the research pipeline with lots of possibilities for finding cancer cures. Here’s the cool part about Leukemia research: curing blood cancers is the key to curing the other two kinds of cancer, bone and tissue.

Shameless plug #1—go to for complete details.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education, and patient services. For my cancer today, the best option available is surgery with a painful, protracted recovery. I go under the knife December 5. But as the work of the LLS continues, there’s every reason to believe that as we find cures for blood cancers, we will also learn the cures for my type of cancer.

There are an estimated 747,000 Americans living with blood cancers right now. I don’t know the figures on how many are afflicted with bone and tissue cancer. I know one guy, though, who is.


Shameless Plug #2—when you go to, find the place where you can make a contribution to the work of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The families we serve and the doctors we fund will appreciate it.

So will I.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Some days this show just isn’t long enough to get in all the important stories that should be discussed. While we are all about the business of the day, we’re also all about the business of life, and life has its turns and twists that make you stand back now and then and say, “ahh...!”

In Oklahoma City, a mother got fed up with her 14-year old daughter’s poor grades, chronic tardiness to class, and sass-talking to teachers…so she made the little brat stand at in intersection last weekend with a cardboard sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."
I think it’s brilliant.
I think it’s bold.
I think it’s made a difference, because the mother has already seen a change for the better in the behavior of the teenager in the past few days.

It’s also opened a real can of worms…as reactions range from "Hoo-aah's" to condemnation for the public humiliation of the daughter by the mother.

Public, yes.
Humiliation, perhaps.

How about a life-lesson teaching the cause and effect of a lack of education.
How much less embarrassing is it to be 44 instead of 14, and stand on the side of the road holding a sign that says “will work for food.”

Did you ever ask yourself who are the parents of that bum?
Why is it necessary to now beg for work—or food?
Where was the mistake made?

Is this an instance of "killing a kid psychologically," as alleged by a writer to The Daily Oklahoman op-ed page, or a great example of a parent taking extraordinary measures to keep her teenaged daughter from making a colossal mess of her life with poor decision-making skills?

Is it psychological abuse to point out the shortcomings of a kid in the formative years?

When my son was very young—just a few months old—our pediatrician diagnosed a condition in which his legs and feet were turned inward, and he prescribed casting his legs with the feet turned outward over several months to correct the defect. So we had his legs cast in plaster at the age of 6-months…and for weeks, carried around this blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy with a smile for everyone…and ten pounds of plaster encasing his legs.

Was it cruel to add the extra torque and extra weight to our infant’s legs?
Was it psychologically damaging to correct a problem early in his life so that he would be able to function like “normal” people later in life?
Was he emotionally scarred because we took steps to fix something that was headed in the wrong direction?
You oughtta see him play basketball now.

We as parents need to do the hard things that result in the right outcome for our kids. So we put their legs in casts…we put braces on their teeth so they won’t look like Mister Ed…and sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to expose them to the realities of life affected by poor choices.

It’s interesting to see the outcome of this “extreme attitude make-over:” The student was getting C’s and D’s in school…now, attendance has been perfect and her behavior has done a one-eighty. Humiliating? Perhaps, at 14, the lesson plan was a little embarrassing…but how humiliating is it to be holding signs, begging on the street corner at 44?

The academic experts are also weighing-in…Donald Wertlieb, a professor of child development at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, says, "such punishment could do extreme emotional damage."
He thinks "rewarding positive behavior is more effective."

"The trick is to catch them being good," saith the Professor, who theorizes the mother "has not had a chance to catch her child being good, or is so upset over seeing her be bad, that's where the focus is."

No, professor, the trick is not to “catch them being good.”
The object is to turn mis-behavior into opportunity for correction.
If you don’t provide positive guidance, how will a kid know the difference between right and wrong behavior? For that matter, without a standard against which to compare behavior and provide correction, how will a kid know the difference between right and wrong?

Maybe if more parents took the initiative in correcting their children—instead of relying on daycare or public schools to apply a politically-correct, sterile standard of performance of behavior—we’d have fewer 44-year old failures.

Like casting twisted feet in plaster to re-direct their correct growth, sometimes a weekend of humiliation can provide the proper guidance to straighten out developing young minds.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Name's not Earl

My daughter just received her cosmetology license. Don’t worry, my likeness at left is not a result of her training. While she was in school, I would serve as a practice pad for various phases of her education, like haircuts and pedicures. Gotta admit, getting one's feet softened and nails clipped without bruising one's chin on one's knees has a certain appeal when you’re north of 50. Last night she treated me to a treatment, and I was a captive audience to the TV for three-quarters of an hour.

I learned a couple of things sitting in the chair last night: My daughter has a bright future ahead of her so long as people want someone else to clip their toes. And network TV is pretty bleak in the evenings. Are they connected? I hope not, because while my feet felt great, I felt a little dumber after watching TV.

“My Name is Earl” has been running trailers in the movie theaters the past few weekends…looked like a pretty entertaining plot line: Loser tries to reverse mistakes he’s made in his life, and in the process, gets into some socially-challenging situations, featuring the wrinkled moronics of Jason Lee. This is NBC Putting the “sit” in sit-coms.

So I watched last night’s show in which Earl’s ex-wife gets married and invites everyone but Earl to the wedding… which he, of course, crashes, and then tries to make up to his ex-wife, at which he also fails miserably, and tries to make up for… You get the idea.

This show does for the lower-middle class what “blaxploitation” films did for that demo in the 70’s—made all those who were taken in by the genre just a little less intelligent for the experience. The sad thing is that this is what some network TV entertainment has devolved to—poking fun at people who are too stupid to know any better.

I liked the premise—karma is a funny thing, which is an obvious play off of John Lennon’s “instant Karma’s gonna getcha!” The disappointment is that the writers went for the cheap and easy gags instead of developing the story line into something with more return for your investment of a half hour of viewing.

During “Earl” the network ran an ad for the program to follow, called “The Office.” I figured it was a take-off on “Office Space,” and with Steve Carell—a.k.a. Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman,” and “The 40-year old Virgin,” there might be some funny gags. It was like a bad mockumentary, with Carell’s character obsessing over a failed fling with his female boss in the parking lot of a Chili’s. I honestly felt dumber for the experience.

Guess I forgot—these shows aren’t on The Discovery Channel for a reason. At the Peacock Network on Tuesday nights, check your brain at the door.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Focal Points

We received several requests for the transcipt of my comments yesterday on the value of "focus," so we decided to post them here for your convenience.

Our friend, Jason Bernstein at Morgan Keegan, is fond of saying “no one plans to fail, they simply fail to plan.” That’s not just true of financial planning…the theory covers any area of your life.

I was thinking about this over the weekend, talking with guests at a wedding in San Antonio at the Mission Espada…it boils down to one simple word: Focus.

The bride and groom planned that wedding for two years. They had a goal, and they had a plan for achieving it…working extra jobs…doing much of the preparations themselves…creating a special day that was uniquely their own. They had focus, and they never let their eyes wander from their goal.

When you sharpen your focus on accomplishing a task, reaching a goal, or fulfilling a promise, you achieve completion quicker with less wasted time and energy, ready to go to the next item on your list.

Shawn Belding’s e-mail blast on “Winning in the Workplace” begins with a simple question too few of us really ever address effectively: Where you would like to be in your career two years from now? Five years? Ten years?

The truth is that if you don’t have a good answer for those questions, you don’t have a plan, and you have very little control over your career path. And if you think “career planning” is only for people at the top (and why shouldn't you be one of them??)--you’re wrong. If you’re the mailroom supervisor, you’d better have a plan, or you’re going to be delivering mail to the corner office instead of receiving your mail there. I know—I was a mailroom supervisor at one point in my checkered past.

This is the time of year when we all like to look back over the wins and losses of the past ten months, and begin to think about what 2006 has in store for us. This kind of thinking generally crystallizes on New Year’s day, when we resolve to eat less, exercise more, quick smoking and start living the rest of our lives better than we lived the past.

Sadly, most of those resolutions are broken by the end of the first month. That’s not a plan. That’s a cultural tradition.

So you don't want to be CEO. Even if you just want to maintain the status quo, it's a good idea to know how you're going to achieve/maintain it. That’s how successful people to it.

I knew ten years ago I wanted to be a radio station general manager. I knew three years ago that I wanted to take the Business Radio format to the network level. If you can dream it, you can do it…but you’ve also got to have a blue print.

Shawn Belding’s advice has five parts:

1. Set your goal: Figure out what you would really like to be doing. Write it down. Meditate on the words and their meaning. Draw up a job description for yourself: how do you want to spend the productive hours of your life—and how many hours are you willing to devote to that? And is your goal realistic?

My son and my nephew were discussing their dating experiences lately (nil), and one said to the other, "maybe we need to lower our standards to raise our averages." No disrespect intended to future prospects, but the point between the lines is to make sure there's a realistic goal in place.
We can't all be CEO (unless we start our own company); my son and my nephew likely aren't going to be dating the Olson twins. If your goal is unreasonable, reset to something more realistic. But keep your standards!

2. Find a mentor: Find someone who has already achieved a similar goal, and ask them what it takes to get there. You'll find most people quite willing to help out. And in time, be a mentor to others. What goes around, comes around. Bob Hopkins, the publisher of Philanthropy Magazine, is fond of saying you have to give to get. That's also true in the Help Dept. Don't forget those you mentor you...and return the favor when asked.

3. Set a timeline: Set a 'deadline' for achieving your target, then set timelines for all the steps on the way. That’s sound planning. Measure and re-measure, too, to make sure you’re plan is realistic.

The beauty of this is, it’s your plan, you’re the author—it’s your creation, and you have the flexibility to alter it to suit your needs and changing environment. Build-in flexibility so that your dreams aren’t dashed by the first set-back that comes your way---and there will be many.
4. Set the wheels in motion: Take action right away - don't procrastinate!

"Procrastination isn't the problem, it's the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off."
--Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen Generes is a funny lady. A successful lady. Obviously, making sport of a mistake too many coulda-woulda-shoulda people commit each day. And each day that you do that—each day that you play that game, make excuses for not starting (“I’ll have more energy tomorrow…I’ll be better prepared tomorrow…I’ll have more time tomorrow) you steal from yourself one more day’s experiences you could have at the level you desire, instead of expending it where you are now.

Get started, and then…

5. Monitor your progress: Whenever you hit a bump in the road, or are unsure as to a decision, talk to your mentor. There are going to be set backs. Don’t try to bear it all yourself. Share. Delegate. Direct.

Too many people on the way up find themselves on the way out because they werent’ more inclusive of their peers. You’re not the only up-and-commer. Just as you’re following the lead of someone you respect…recognize there are others following the trail you’re blazing. If you’re the mail room supervisor…consider, one of your helpers just might be the right person to fill your shoes, as you move on ward up the ladder.

That’s a truth regardless of your role in your organization.

And remember…while any of us can be replaced…the key is to make that happen at the place and time of our choosing. The best way for you to move up and out is to groom your successor…get’s back to that mentoring thing.

Make that plan. Focus on each aspect of that outline to build your own success.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Behind the Scenes...

My partner for the final 30-minutes of the show each day is Kristina Ramirez, who provides live updates while the stock markets are open. Kristina is a lot like my wife, in some ways. She puts me on my best behavior, and she makes me laugh.

Kristina went to the Black Eyed Peas concert last week.
She said it was cool beans.

Kristina called her friend between market updates with a live report of another stripe.

“Girl, there’s a 70% sale on shoes at New York & Co!”

We captured the moment for prosperity…and posterity.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Congestive Thinking

Have you heard of congestion pricing? That’s where a city charges drivers for entering the most heavily-trafficked parts of town at the busiest times of the day. By creating a financial incentive to carpool or use mass transit, congestion pricing is thought to be a means of smoothing traffic flow be reducing volume.

Congestion Pricing is not yet reality, it's not even a proposal – but the concept is bouncing around in Manhattan, where it would mean big changes for New Yorkers and anyone visiting the city by car. It’s been considered in other cities, too—Houston and Harris County have spoken of a variable rate fare for tolls on the Sam Houston Tollway system…

I think imposing congestion pricing for access into Washington, D.C. would be an educational experience for some of our nation’s lawmakers. Not that they’d be paying the fares out of their own pockets—you and I would be doing that, you can bet. But the concept of prices going up with increasing demand—something you and I deal with on a weekly basis—might be an interesting notion to grasp for senators and representatives wrestling with the complex theory of why fuel prices went up following this summer’s hurricanes.

Because the storms shut down production, oil companies were forced to raise prices to retain supplies. That’s a novel concept for some lawmakers, apparently. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden found it to be an “astounding theory of consumer protection” during the recent Petroleum Inquisition of the CEO’s of America’s larger oil companies.

The more cars on the road, the less lane space, and the higher the cost to drive: Congestion Pricing…by any other name, it’s still just Economics-101.

Friday, November 11, 2005

One Man Made a Difference

Today is Veteran's Day, set on the date the world ended the "war to end all wars." Somehow, I suspect everyone lost that war. Separate the politics from the personnel. Sanctify today as a day to remember and remark the service rendered and the lives sacrificed by others for the freedoms we enjoy.

I am not a Veteran. There is no way I could ever relate to what our fighting men and women are going through. But I can--and do--admire them for what they're doing and why. One of our staffers, Ray Whitworth, a producer for our Dallas affiliate, KMNY/ BizRadio1360AM, wrote the following trbiute, and has graciously allowed us to post it here.

Read and appreciate.


In our recent history, we shall never forget the brave Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11,2001.We shall never forget the brave service personnel who are currently risking their lives in service of our country, so you and I live to be free.

Sixty-four years ago another sneak attack on the shores of America was performed, we know it today as Pearl Harbor. Allow me to tell the tale starting with that fateful day how one man started to make a difference that affected many lives.

It was December 7, 1941--a Sunday. The weather in Hawaii was partly cloudy, the temp hovered in the mid 70’s, and the winds were calm blowing out of the west. The night shifts at one of the docks of Pearl Harbor were gathering for a pick up game of baseball. Though it was football season, baseball was considered America’s national pastime. The Yanks and the Dem Bums, The Brooklyn Dodgers were still being talked and argued about. Church bells clang of many denominations sounded for its members to answer the call for prayer. Radio KGMB in Honolulu was on the air playing the latest from The Dorseys, Sinatra, Miller, and Ellington plus traditional Hawaiian music.

Across the island inlet was an army air force base named Hickam Field. The troops were answering the call for breakfast at the mess hall, except a few who were manning a small radar site watching for airplanes in their vicinity. One of them was a short 23-year-old corporal Named George. He was a native of the farming community of Bonham, Texas. His friends gave him the nickname of “Whit”.

The radar station was instructed to be on the lookout for a small flight of unarmed B-17’s arriving from California. Rumors had circulated that early morning of contact with a mini-sub off the beach of Oahu. The radar crew showed numerous blips approaching the islands. The Chief master sergeant told the crew to ignore them. They were false echoes due to the weather conditions and they were picking up sea birds.

At 7:54am Pacific time, the last minute of peace for the next three years and nine months was fading away. The clock struck 7:55am;swarms of green planes with red circles flew out of the rising sun of that Sunday morning. Through the Hawaiian valleys and up over dormant volcanoes, over the scattered fields of macadamia, and pineapples they flew. Over the houses of its inhabitants came the deafening roar of their Mitsubishi engines were the sons of Banzai.

The Pearl Harbor Naval base stood in their path to history. They dove onto the ships sleeping in their berths extending a deadly satanic invitation to war. Black plumes suddenly covered the bright sunlight that once was covering the landscape. Screams of brothers in arms pierced the air then quickly silenced, as the death knell of ships heaved with artificial thunder.

Japan was attacking and the United States once again was at war.
Service personnel scrambled for machine guns, anything to answer back these cowardly betrayers of peace. At Hickman Field, George and his comrades in arms jumped into a sandbagged machine gun nest and opened fire on the red-circled planes. We don’t know to this day if he and his buddies downed any, but they tried--and stayed manning the machine guns for three days without relief.

America was awakened, never to sleep again.

As the war in the Pacific was underway George was transferred to India. There he was assigned to guide planes over the Himalayans mountains, commonly referred to as The Hump, so that our British and Chinese allies would receive necessary munitions and supplies in Burma.

September 2,1945: VJ day--Victory over Japan.

Allied forces steamed into Tokyo Bay. Among them were Pearl Harbor veterans who could be spared to witness the defeat of the enemy. George was among them.
Peace was again in session--though shaky.

In 1948, the Soviet Union broke the agreement with the Allied countries and closed the gates to West Berlin. President Truman ordered US military transports to begin airlifting supplies into the fractured city. George was sent to help bring those planes in so that the citizens would not starve.

The planes flew, each man aboard wondering whether they might be shot down, triggering another war. The flights were steady and frequent, and George would find himself at times being flown in and out of Germany for rest periods, traveling in hostile Soviet skies.

When George flew back in, he and other service personnel noticed the faces of the German children. Some were scared. Orphaned, their clothing was tattered. Their eyes were blank--no smiles--just a quiet plea to be released from the barren bombed out city of Berlin.

The servicemen took it upon themselves to hand out Government issued Hershey Bars that were given to them. The children quickly snatched them, ate them in a fury, or as George wrote in his photo album, “ broke off as many pieces as they could to give to smaller children who couldn’t be more than 2 or 3.”

A few days later, small white-handkerchief parachutes floated to the ground for the children as Allied planes were on their final approach for landing at the Berlin airstrip. Dangling from the parachutes were Hershey bars. The airmen would soon be called “The Chocolate soldiers”. George was one of them.

Some parachutes “accidently”strayed into the Soviet Occupied zone, and the Soviet authority complained to the Allied Command. The Allied Command told the airmen to cease the droppings, but the crew personnel ignored the order and the Allied Command looked the other way. Soon more “parachutes" would find their way into the Soviet Zone, “accidentally.” A few months later the gates to West Berlin were open and the German citizens were then free to travel.

A couple of years passed, and George was transferred to Yucca Flats, Nevada, where he was “volunteered” to fly into and around Atomic Bomb tests and their menacing mushroom clouds. He was assigned to run and participate in many tests for radiation levels.

In 1951, George got married and sired a son in Dallas, Texas a year later. He was so happy that there was another Texan in the family. He was soon transferred to the Alaskan Territory as the cold war was heating up with the Soviet Union once more.

George was assigned radar duty to watch for possible approaches of bombers from Russia. He and his wife had another son while stationed there. A year later, Georege's health was declining and he was transferred to San Antonio, Texas where the Air force had the beast hospital facilities. The diagnosis was lung cancer. He passed away on Christmas morning,1956.

He was Tech Sgt. George Arnold Whitworth, my father. I am Ray Arnold Whitworth, a proud son, a proud American, whose father made the supreme sacrifice. I was only 1 when he died, but I know him all the same.

For all who served, thank you. For all who are serving, thank you. One person can make a difference.


In 1973 in St. Louis, Missouri a devastating fire heavily damaged the National Military Records Depository. Every military record with names that began with “H” thru “Z” that were enlisted before 1964, were destroyed. This included veterans from the Civil war to Korea.

In 1982, days of heavy rains pelted the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, flooding the city. Some cemeteries were demolished, with caskets floating into the adjoining rivers. They were all retrieved but valuable paperwork for identification was lost. The remains were buried in a mass gravesite as “Unknowns”.

My Father and Grandfather were among them.

Ray Whitworth and granddaughter, Deja.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Drilling and Grilling

The Big Guys of Big Oil got drilled by the Senate yesterday in a joint hearing of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees. There lots of questions, primarily looking into whether or not their companies were guilty of "price gouging" during the 2005 Hurricane Season.

Big Oil turned in some Big Profits in the third-quarter, a 62% jump to about $25.9 billion; ExxonMobil’s quarterly profit was record setting. The other side of that story is that Big Oil’s profit margin—the difference between what they earned, and what it cost them to operate—wasn’t so big, just south of 10%.

Big Banking had a profit margin of 20%. When does their congressional inquisition begin?

Some members of Congress have called for a return of the Windfall Profits Tax, funneling the money to lower-income consumers to help them with energy costs. Holy Communism, Batman, Joe McCarthy is spinning in his grave!

Unless the Oil execs had spoken up in defense of their profits, the fact that the industry invests billions in developing new sources of energy regardless of the market price of oil or the level of the industry's profits, would be lost in the murmers of the gathering crowd.

That’s just another example of Washington’s myopia when it comes to realistic planning, and their shallowness of thought on the matter. That’s a gentle way of stating that these guys are pretty stupid. Not to mention hypocritical.

Forgotten in the pompous circumstance of Congress’ current witch hunt in the oil patch is the fact that this same august body has lacked the spine and foresight to stand up to environmentalists (who use electricity, too), effectively neutering Big Oil’s ability to do in this country what it does best: find and produce sources of energy domestically.

There are special interests everywhere you look.

Big Oil has been tarred and feathered before because of its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. There should be an equal amount of pitch and bitumen to go around for the environmental lobbyists, too.

Just as pork is the other white meat, environmental lobbyists represent the other special interests in Washington. And it is those special interest groups who have successfully thwarted efforts to drill for oil off the east and west coasts of this country for years, as well as the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

Last night House leaders scuttled opening the Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling. Why? Fear overcoming resolve in addressing America’s energy issues… They also dropped from the budget plans to allow oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

So the irony is that the politicians pandering to the wishes of “Tundradites’” are now complaining about supply-induced pricing…when they are just as much a part of the problem.

What you’re seeing and hearing in the comments of people like California Senator Barbara Boxer and others on the panel is their knee jerk reaction—not to the price of gasoline, because really, they can well afford it. Their beating the brow of oil execs like Lee Raymond is in response to the shrillness factor in the voices of their constituents.

And they don’t get it.

In response to suggestions for a federal price gouging law, Federal Trade Commission Chairperson Deborah Majoras said it "likely will do more harm than good. While no consumers like price increases, in fact, price increases lower demand and help make the shortage shorter-lived than it otherwise would have been," she stated in yesterday’s hearing.

Oregon's Democrat Senator Ron Wyden responded by saying, "that's an astounding theory of consumer protection."

Not really.
It’s supply and demand. And whether you’re discussing the price of oil in America, or the price of eggs in China, that’s a fact,, Ron.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lightning Strikes Twice

Never ask, "What's next?"

Over the weekend, third-rate scap merchants appropriated a length of communications cable from the line feeding audio and telemetry from the KMNY studios to the transmitter site in Hurst.

Engineers worked all day Sunday to splice in a new set of cable, and the service was restored late Sunday night.

Apparently, the copper addicts found this just too irresistable, and overnight absconded with the spliced-in cable segment.

We are presently working on a wireless solution...

...I'd settle for a Dobermann and a loaded AK-47.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Today is Election Day in Texas.

Back in 1864 on this date, Abraham Lincoln was elected to his second term as President of the United States in an election that helped ensure the preservation of the Union. It was one of the only times in history that an election was held by a nation in the middle of a civil war. Another such event took place just a few weeks ago by the people of Iraq, voting on a new constitution for that war-wracked country.

In that election, more than 60% of the population voted, dipping their finger in purple ink to signify their participation in the process. Some were shot on their way to the polls. In Texas, today is the day for the Constitutional Amendment election.

It is estimated only 16% of registered voters will take part in today's polling. No one is shooting at voters.

Today we're deciding the fate of several constitutional amendments for Texas. Secretary of State Roger Williams is estimating only 16% of registered voters will participate in today's polling. No one is shooting at Voters here. No one leaves the polling booth with fingers stained purple.

One of the issues on today’s ballot is Proposition 2, the Marriage Amendment, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. This issue is being hotly contested by both sides. With a 16% turn out, this and other issues could easily be decided by a few voters.

Secretary Williams is encouraging voter turnout by a new campaign which will recognize two counties in Texas with the highest voter turnout as the Stephen F. Austin “Champions of the Republic.”

We at the BizRadio Network believe that voting is not only your right, but your responsibility. Take time today to place your vote on issues of importance to our state.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Copper Cache

Sometime over the weekend, Saturday night/Sunday morning, copper thieves sliced through a multi-strand cable at the point from which it emerges from the Trinity River Bank at the KMNY-AM (Dallas affiliate BizRadio1360) transmitter site in Hurst.

The copper crooks not only knocked the station off the air, but also severed phone service for many residents and businesses in the area. Cable repair crews are working frantically to restore service in the area.

We'll have the station back on the air as soon as possible. In the meantime, log onto the BizRadioNetwork website to listen to live streaming audio...which in some cases, is live steaming audio.

Too bad the cable wasn’t carrying a few thousand volts of electricity.