A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This is a story about religion, technology and governmental bungling. And Greed. On Tuesday February 17th television as we have known it for 81 years will change forever and not necessarily for the better. You may have seen the crawls on your TV screen or the commercial featuring Bob Barker touting the big switch to digital TV. What it means is the old analog transmitters are now scrap and will be turned off forever. For most it will make no difference. If you get your TV from a cable or a satellite connection you are all set. But if Wheel of Fortune comes to you via antenna or rabbit ears you have to get a converter box. My in-laws needed this so I took care of it. It works fine but it adds an unwelcome layer of technology to their lives and another remote control. And now that they are digitized they can’t see the Catholic Mass anymore. Why? Because Catholic TV produced by Catholic Television, Diocese of Scranton, is a Low Power TV Broadcast Station using Channel Seven in analog. If you are using a digital box you don’t get analog so my in-laws are bereft. I spoke to the Manager of Catholic Television, James Brennan about this. No plans to go digital, he said but unlike other outlets they can keep the trusty analog running. He also remarked that my query was not the first he had received. His suggestion? Cable. Or a switch to bypass the new-fangled digital box so my in-laws can see the miracle of transubstantiation in the comfort of the front parlor. Just what they don’t need. Another switch. Why this big switch anyway? Is it progress marching on? Or is it the 20 BILLION your government raised selling off the old analog spectrum to the highest bidders? Mostly cell phone companies and wireless internet providers. Add to this the fact that the program to provide coupons to help defray the cost of buying the converter boxes RAN OUT OF MONEY and the whole thing is beginning to sound like it’s being run by Luzerne County judges. It’s so screwed up that President Obama tried to push it off till summer. No dice said the House of Representatives. Recently radio went digital but left the old analog method alone. TV could have been handled the same way. But not when you dangle billions in front of they guys in power down in Washington.
It’s somehow fitting that Bob Barker is the guy the government picked to tell you about this. It’s not a big jump from “having your pet spayed or neutered” to castrating TV as we know it. Or then again I could be wrong.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let's do lunch

I know that times are tough. I see it in the news. Unemployment at its highest rate ever. Big companies like Microsoft laying off 5,000. Stores closing. But I am having a little trouble here understanding a couple of things. First of all those store closings. Two big ones for me lately. Walden books in the Wyoming Valley Mall and Circuit City not far away. I visited both last week. They were so packed it made black Friday look like a ghost town. I am always sad to see a book store close. When the Tudor Book shop on the Ave. shuttered its doors I felt like I was losing a friend. Now Walden’s? But the three lines to the registers were 20 deep! People were climbing over each other to buy books. Now I know everyone loves a bargain but this was impressive. And the shelves were nearly bare. It was more than a little sad. I also will miss Circuit City. Being a gadget techno geek sort of guy it was always a fun place for me. I hate to think of all the dollars I left there. But like hordes of locusts the crowds of bargain hunters were busy picking the carcass clean. I went with the idea of picking up a cheap monitor. One had a price tag of $120 but there was a sign saying that because of the closing it might not be correct. Great, I thought. It’ll be cheaper. I asked a harried clerk about it and he checked the price. No it was really $180. Huh? That’s when it dawned on me. After checking a few more prices it was obvious there were not any bargains there that day. But that didn’t stop the line to the checkout from taking 45 minutes from end to end. So let me get this straight. These two stores couldn’t sell enough stuff to stay in business. But put a sign up that says liquidation and stand back. Where were all these people who were buying those huge LCD TV’s before the going out of business signs went up? And the other small observation? We like to lunch on Saturday. We tried three of our favorite spots. Twigs in Tunkhannock, The Olde House Bistro and J&J deli in Dallas had not a single empty spot. At Twigs you couldn’t even get in the door. So even with the economy in tatters, people not working and gas prices inching back up the Saturday lunch bunch is still more than healthy. Am I missing something here or what? Evidently the key to making it in this brave new economic world? Go out of business or sell lunch. Or then again I could be wrong.

Monday, January 26, 2009

For Audio Geeks Only!

So I have longed to upgrade to Pro Tools at Huntsville Sound for a while now. At LCCC I teach Basic Music Recording which does not include Pro Tools (have to leave something for Advanced Music Recording!) but I want to be able to answer questions about it and gosh darn it I want to learn it just…just because. So I began looking for a Digi Design 001 on EBAY a while ago. My goal was to get one that:

A: Had all the parts, cards, interface, cable, doc’s and software for a PC install.
B: Was around $100.

It took a while but I finally landed one for $120 plus $17 shipping that met all the criteria. Plus e-mail’s back and forth prior to the sale convinced me that the seller was a good guy.
I have been using a Layla 3g for about a year now. Before that a Layla 24 for about a century. The 24 shit the bed but had worked flawlessly for a long long time. Used Cool Edit Pro then Adobe Audition and made hours and hours of music, voice overs and other projects. Very happy with this arrangement.
But now I am going to rock the boat. Is this wise?
The unit came as we had the worst ice storm in years. Studio is second floor, outside stairs. Not worth visit to the ER to play with the new toy.
Read the manual and got real confused. I am the sort of person who needs to read and do, not read so I put it aside.
When the WX improved I put the Sound card in and ran into my first snag. The cable to the interface is about four feet long. I need about 6’ to get to my rack. Bummer! So as you can see the interface is laying next to the monitors until I get a longer cable or figure out something else.
Powered it up and went thru the install. Password wouldn’t work for anything.
Tried other numbers the seller had written in the docs, no joy.
Took it back out and tried again and for whatever reason it installed and the password took. Whew!
Learned enough to start a session ( see Pro-tools for dummies in front of the console? Amazon for $4.) and recorded a portion of a CD through the Mackie.
It works!
I pulled up a new session with 8 tracks and fed all 8 from the CD. It worked fine. Played around with the effects and got them to work but with some lag.
I know the more ram the better. The Layla had worked fine on my bottom of the line E-machine with 512mb but I knew I could go up to 2gb. Or I thought I could.
Found a deal on EBAY for 19$ a GB-shipping $5 so went for it. Bought 2 GB.
Meanwhile I played with the rig and learned a little about editing. It is to me a very clunky way to do it but then again I have been using Adobe Audition for a very long time.
Memory came in and was installed.
Worked fine for five minutes and then the machine shut down and rebooted.
Uh Oh. Did this about five times. Hmmm…
Put the old 512mb back in everything ok.
Put one of the 1GB sticks in worked ok. Swapped and put the other in worked ok.
Hmmm. Both sticks work.
Put the 512MB in with a 1GB works ok. So I guess it’s meant to run 1512MB or 1.5GB. The seller will take the other stick back.
Ran a CD and recorded on eight tracks for almost 45 minutes. Played back great. Saved session and opened it up several times no problem.
Put the Layla card back in with the Digi and Adobe locked up real fast. So I guess I run one or the other.
Here is the bottom line. I can hear the difference in the Pro Tools. It sounds…quiet. Not that the Layla was noisy but the Pro Tools is like a needle running through velvet.
The learning curve on Pro Tools is very steep. It works nothing like Adobe in most functions and there seems to be about a hundred different ways to do anything. I will need lots of practice. Since I start teaching again this week I really don’t know when that will occur.
Pro tools lacks the ability to rip a CD. Bummer.
Pro tools (at least this version, LE) has no MP3 capability but you can buy it for who knows how much. If they even support it in this version.
My seller recommends Switch Sound File Converter but brings us to next problem. I have never had this machine on the web. So to download I will have to make a connection. I have in the past put stuff on a thumb drive and sneaker networked it but I wanted to see if my Linksys upstairs in the house would bounce a usable signal to the studio, maybe 100 yards away.
I have a wireless 2.4 GHZ on my Tivo so I got the driver on my thumb drive and installed and got a surprise. My home laptop has been configured for so long that it doesn’t look for other connections but I found two neighbors with unsecured connections! Wonder if they know I am here too? Wonder if I should secure mine? Bear in mind I live in the woods. These neighbors are along ways off, out of line of sight. WIFI has long legs!
I haven’t dl’d the mp3 converter yet. And to be honest if I get any session work I will for now put the Layla back in as I don’t want to experiment with a paid gig.
Just by the way I bought a LINKSYS WIRELESS-B NETWORK ADAPTER 2.4 GHZ USB 802.11b for the studio. It was cheap, just $9 plus $5 shipping (EBAY, where else?) It works fine but did it stink of cigarette smoke. I wrote the seller back and nicely suggested that he be aware that some people are sensitive to this. He took it well. It’s in the studio now and will probably air out after a while.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Inaugural thoughts

I wasn’t able to watch the inauguration of the 44th president last week. I did get to hear it all on the radio. Hearing but not seeing was interesting. A couple of things stick in my mind about this history making event. First of all Aretha Franklin had a bad day. The Queen of Soul has lost a lot of her range but give her a break. It was cold and all. But her phrasing of the song “My Country ‘tis of thee” in the first line was a tad bit unfortunate. Check the video. Just not the right place to pause there, ‘reatha.

Then the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts got in a muddle as he swore in Barack Obama with the 35-word oath of office - and the new president repeated the mistake.

The oath includes the phrase "I will faithfully execute the office of president" but Roberts put the word "faithfully" at the end. Mr Obama stopped reciting the words, realizing they were out of order. Roberts then said the phrase correctly. But Mr Obama then repeated the incorrect version. It was such a cluster of errors that later on that day they did a do-over in the map room of the White House. Is it just me or is sort of not a good sign? If they can’t nail 35 words to install the leader of the free world in office what else will they mess up on?

Obama’s speech was flat. Sorry but it was. Having no video I listened hard for the passion and fire of his campaign speeches. It was gone. A very much more serous and restrained man, this one who had just messed up his oath of office. I have a theory about this. When a man is elected President of the United States of America he is briefed by the FBI the CIA and tons of other alphabet soup agencies. Generals and Admirals sit down with him. He is privy to all the secret stuff that is carefully kept under wraps.

I think that Obama learned the truth about UFO’s and the aliens who live among us. It was information that made Jimmy Carter cry once. Seriously.

One such incident occurred during one of Jimmy Carter’s book signing sessions after he was no longer in office. A man pressed the UFO issue after arriving at the table with his book. He made eye-to-eye contact with Carter and said, "President Carter, you promised to tell the American people, when you were campaigning, that you would find out about UFOs. What happened?" The man reported that Carter stopped cold, and tears formed in his eyes. For a religious man like Carter who promised to help, and to tell the truth, the UFO secret had to be a hard one keep.

So after hearing that kind of truth who wouldn’t be a little more sober?

But for me the real show stopper was the benediction by Joseph Echols Lowrey a minister in the United Methodist Church and leader in the American civil rights movement.

Lowrey is no stranger to being a lighting rod for civil rights. His home was seized by the State of Alabama in a Libel suit that was reversed by the United States Supreme Court. Joseph Lowery was among the first five African Americans to get arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington D.C. during the Free South Africa movement. In 2006, at Coretta Scott King's funeral, Dr. Lowery received a standing ovation when he remarked before four U.S. Presidents in attendance:

“ We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor!”

Conservative observers claimed his comments were inappropriate in a setting meant to honor the life of Mrs. King, especially considering Mr. Bush was present at the ceremony.

But his work at the Obama inauguration has to be his finest hour.

The speech was a stirring one. Check the video. But here are some highlights.

“Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

“Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.”

“Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say amen --


REV. LOWERY: -- and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)”

Ok so last things first. I will go on record here that I thought the call and response at the end was a first for a presidential inauguration. It sounded like a gospel church service.

Secondly I really liked the lines about beating tanks into tractors and fig trees and all that. Well said.

But that bit of rhyming? And especially where he said when white will embrace what is right? How was that not racist?

I did a little research on that little verse.

It may have come from Zora Neale Hurston's story “In Harlem Slang: Jelly’s tale” The passage in question is this:

one pimp says to another: Man, I don't

deal in no coal. Know what I tell 'em? If they's white, they's right! If

they's yellow, they's mellow! If they's brown, they can stick around. But if

they come black, they better git way back!

Or it may have been lifted by Lowrey from the Song “Black, Brown and White” by Chicago Bluesman Big Bill Broonzy which includes the lyrics”

“This little song that I'm singin' about,

people, you know that it's true

If you're black and gotta work for livin',

now, this is what they will say to you,

They says, "If you was white, you'd be alright,

if you was brown, stick around,

but if you're black, oh, brother, get back, get back, get back"

So I just find it interesting that once more Obama has been associated with a man who is not afraid to be a little bit racist.

Remember this guy?


Chinese curse. “May you live in interesting times.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The New Cell Phone

So I bought a new cell phone yesterday. I have written before about new cell phones. I had a very bad experience with a model called the “Treo” which among other things would randomly dial people in my address book. Bad phone! So for about the last seven years I have used a Blackberry 7520. It has a big QWERTY keyboard, a good clear speakerphone and I knew its features like the back of my hand. But it was on the Nextel network and it was web browsing capable but only in the sense that if you like to watch glaciers move then it’s perfect for you. So I have for the past few months been looking around, asking and generally moving in the direction of upgrading.

My first instinct was to stay with a Blackberry. After all I know it and I am comfortable with it. Only now you can’t get a Blackberry with a track wheel. So if I was going to have to learn a new interface why not open up my options? I knew I wanted to wait till post Christmas as I was sure stuff would be on sale. So while in the mall yesterday (we visited the closing Walden bookstore. So sad. A subject for another day.) I stopped at the Sprint kiosk.

The lone service rep (Alex) was busy with a family of three upgrading all of their phones to unlimited service and new phones because in Mom’s words “These goddamn text bills are killing me!” More on this family later. But Alex stopped long enough to take a display Blackberry “Curve” out of the cabinet. I played with it for a while. The keyboard seemed small and how much can you tell from a dummy model anyway? In another break from the action I showed Alex my 7520 and his eye’s opened wide. “A brick” he said. I asked about web surfing and he told me Nextel’s network was not so good, but that I could switch over to Sprint-no harm no foul and no extra charge. He pulled his own “Curve” out an invited me to play with it. The web came right up and I was able to sign into EBAY and check my auctions in less than a minute, something I was never able to do on my7520. Ok, I guess I am sold. But when Alex was able to give me his full attention I asked to look at the Samsung “Instinct.” My boss at the college has one and raved about it and he is a techno geek like me. Long and short I bought it. List price was $499 but it cost me $99. It is on sale, last week it was $150. I was right about the post Christmas. Alex had me set up and running in very short order. The only things he couldn’t do were transfer the contacts from my 7520 but the store down the street could, no charge. He also was unable to get my email up and running and thought I needed to use my computer at home to load the software to do so.

So we went down the street and guess who was at the other store? Yup. The family of three was getting all their data transferred. Only one person at the counter and she was trying to answer phones, questions and transfer the data all at once. I learned a lot more about this family than I need to: “Do these jeans show my butt crack?” and lost half an hour of my life that I will never get back. But the very nice, overworked girl took only five minutes to get mine done. She looked at me and said “These are usually tricky.” But it sure beats typing in all that data!

Got it home and worked on setting it up and learning the interface. It’s a touch screen and takes a little getting used to. I still am not very good at typing and often get a “P” instead of an “O” but I am getting the hang of it.

Voicemail set up was screwy. Followed the instructions carefully but couldn’t get it to work. So my first call to tech support. I got the usual New Delhi accent but he was helpful in the extreme. The phone wasn’t ported to Sprint yet and once he took care of that VM setup was a snap. Now to set up my email. Alex back at the Sprint store had mentioned he was having trouble getting a second email account on his Curve. I wanted to have my EPIX Pop 3 and my Hotmail on the Instinct something I knew was doable because my College boss had done it. Downloaded the software and got the EPIX working. Sort of. The configuration I set up was activated through my lap top. It shadows the machines Outlook. So in other words if your laptop is down or off you get no email. That’s no good for rock and roll!

After further investigation I found out how to add a Pop3 account. Got it working and was able to do the same for my Hotmail. I sent messages back and forth for a while testing it out. Then the Pop 3 (Epix) just stopped working. Another call to tech support. This time I landed in Oklahoma and got Rob on the phone. I was so stunned to hear a non foreign accent that I was speechless for a bit. I said as much, just that way to Rob and he chuckled. Had me delete and re-input the parameters for the Pop 3 and today as I write this its working fine.

I need to mention here that the first time I set up my 7520 for email I was employed by a large corporation with an enterprise server. The protocol for setting up email was to fill out a form (of course) fax it to the IT department head and wait for a call. Being a little higher in the food chain in that company (I was an operations manager) I bypassed the fax form and got the IT head on the phone. As I recall it took a few hours.

When I left that company I kept the phone but needed to get my Pop 3 on the 7520. This took, and I am not exaggerating, three days of on and off tech support calls, averaging about two to three hours each.

So getting this “Instinct” up and running in what amounted to about an hour seems like a miracle to me.

It’s still very foreign to me. Last night it notified me of every email with a soft then not so soft ring tone. So today I figure out how to get it keep it to itself at night. I managed to get the music player working and I know how to use the camera. Here is a picture, taken by “Instinct” of my old 7520. Bye bye old friend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Baby it's....

So yeah. It’s cold outside as I write this. My little indoor outdoor thermometer says ten. There is a small minus sign on it. The long suffering wife looks at it and shaking her head says “No.” But yes it’s true. The old fashioned analog model on the porch confirms it. It’s ten freaking below!
As I headed out in sub zero weather the other day I stepped on the wooden steps leading to the garage. They made a noise like rifle shots. The garage door was very slow to open. It struggled for a while and finally groaned up complaining loudly all the way.
My windshield washer reservoir needed to be filled. The half full bottle from warmer days was now a block of blue ice. I find this out when I turn it upside down to pour it in and it makes a “clunk” sound. Didn’t know that stuff could freeze. So glad I found it out with a dirty windshield, an empty washer and minus ten.
The first person through the door at work said “I think my dashboard thermometer gauge is broken.” “Why?” I asked. “Because it says minus thirteen.”
Welcome to the winter of our discontent.
How cold was it? So cold I had to pry a dog off a fire hydrant. Rim shot please. How cold was it? If Flick from the “Christmas story” had planted his tongue on the flagpole today it would have never come off. It would be there until spring, a pink flag reminding us of the darkest days of winter.
At this temperature the milk of human kindness freezes solid in seconds. If I am outside for more than 30 seconds I want to kill. Not anyone in particular. Just everybody in general. Get out of my way, I’m cold!
The expensive oil in the tanks downstairs is evaporating like a cold beer on a hot summer’s day after cutting the grass. How I wish I was cutting the grass on a hot summer day. I look at the gauge on the oil tanks and envision the marks on the side in terms of 100 dollar bills. Look it just went down another $50! Our drafty old house is not energy efficient. At this time of year it’s energy deficient. I do know that it could be worse. I have family in Vermont.
25 below there. The other night my sister called. Seemed she had left a bottle of wine on the porch. Frozen so solid that the cork was forced halfway out.
I made a joke about ice wine but her concern was not drinking but would it explode if brought in the house? 58 days till spring. But then again I could be wrong.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Boulevard of broken dreams

Read the news today Oh Boy.

I often scan the classifieds. Looking for misspelled words and sometimes a bargain or two. But just noticed something that points to economic distress more than anything I can imagine. Counted 13 Harley's for sale.

That’s a lot of broken dreams, don’t you think?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The race is on.

I used to drive fast. Very fast. I was the type of guy who had the latest radar detector and knew how to use it. Along with consistently exceeding posted limits I was an extremely careless driver. I had a friend ride with me once and when he got out he characterized my driving skills as comparable to “Mr. Toads Wild Ride.” And not in a good way. Everyone thinks they are good at two things. Driving and sex. I have empirical evidence that I am not good at one. I used to crash. I got enough moving violation fines to buy a Ferrari. I speak of all of this in the past tense because now the radar detector has been replaced with a GPS unit. I am more interested in getting where I want to go then how fast I get there. What changed? Possibly years of reading stories in the newspaper and seeing mangled cars on TV. Probably the real turning point was when my son twisted up a car, tore it all to pieces as Brooks and Dunn would say, and how he managed to live for sure God only knows.
So now I go slow. Sometimes slower than the posted limits. This drives
drivers behind me into red faced, eye popping, frothing, spitting paroxysms of road rage. I couldn’t give a bowel movement less. Here is some news, speedracers. If you go 75 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone you save just over a minute every ten miles. 75 in a 55? About 3:00 minutes. Let’s look at this another way. Most NEPA commutes average 10 minutes. Most side roads are posted 35 miles per hour If you drive 35 you will get there in 15 minutes. Go 55 MPH and you will get there in 11 minutes. Do you think the four minutes is really worth it? The moving violation for 55 in a 35 is around $135. That’s 33 bucks per minute. Setting the alarm clock a little earlier sounding good? But the real cost? I point to the newspaper the other day. In three pages there were stories of a horrific hit and run leaving a body so badly mangled it was hard to ID it. A 16 year old hit a tree and died. An 18 year hit an old lady and killed her. And someone hit a school crossing guard who ended up in the hospital. Now I am not saying speed factored into these accidents. I am not trying to blame anyone as I am not privy to all the circumstances. But I can say without any fear of retribution that speed kills.
I don’t think I am wrong.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year

If you started your New Year with resolutions you are today on day seven.
I started my program of self improvement for 2009 on Monday so I am three days in.
It sucks.
According to several sources these are the most popular New Years resolutions. Most popular? There is nothing popular about any of these ideas but none the less here they are in more or less order of “popularity”:
#1 Lose weight-Yup that’s me. And 63% of the rest of the country. Have a salad!
#2 Gain weight-Nearly 50 million of us need to. I am not sure if they count Paris Hilton but you get the idea. It’s as hard for those who need to as # 1 is for the rest of us.
#3 Get out of debt-First, kill all the credit cards.
#4 Save money-See above
#5 Get a better job-Better is relevant. And a better job often has less to do with more money than you might think.
#6 Get fit-Me again. I need to “fit” back in some pants. There’s a goal!
#7 Eat right-See the first resolution
#8 Get a better education-This may sound trite but I have learned more by teaching others than I ever would have on my own.
#9 Drink less alcohol-That glass of red wine a day? Downsize it a bit? Like my doctor once told me. A glass….not a bucket.
#10 Quit smoking-Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! Did that. Hardest thing ever, by the way.
#11 Reduce stress-Nice work if you can get it. Remember you don’t have to become the problem. Only solve it.
#12 Take a trip-Instantly I think of airplanes and bags and large hotel bills. But you could just go to a park. If they open any this year.
#13 Volunteer to help others-Donating time to a worthy cause makes you feel worthy. Give it a try.
#14 Be Less grumpy-Me? Grumpy? I’m not “Grumpy” I’m…I’m… independent!
#15 Be more independent-See, I told you.
#16 Watch less violence-No city council meetings for you!
#17 Learn something new-Sort of ties in with #8 but I think it can also be a skill. If I can achieve #’s 1, 3 and 4 I want to learn how to fly an ultra light plane. Since I am far from ultra light myself this may take some time. See # 1.
I had a boss once who said “measurement improves performance.” He was right and I think about it this way. To have a goal of “losing weight” is not as good or as doable as “lose a pound or two a week.” I can do that. Or then again, I could be wrong.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Before I hear “Auld Lang Syne” tonight I wanted to take this time to think about the past year and give some thanks. Yeah, it’s been a tough year. Many many bad things have happened this year but I can’t help but feel that in most ways the equation of bad to good still falls down on the positive side.
#10 on my list of things to be thankful for in “09” “
I don’t work at one job I can get laid off from, downsized from, fired from or lose in anyway. I work at bunch of different things instead. It’s interesting and rarely boring.
#9. In spite of # 10 I have made it through the year basically debt free. When the phone rings it’s someone I want to talk to, not a collection agency.
#8. The cars start. They take us where we want to go and don’t leave us stranded. And they are paid for.
#7. The roof doesn’t leak. Well a little in my office.
#6. The oil tanks are full. The man who brings the oil is paid.
#5. There is always more food than we can eat. Lot’s more.
#4. I have enough money in my pocket that I can put some in every kettle I pass. A side note-to those who stole from the Salvation Army in Pittston. I hope that the money burns you in some way. And I have to wonder, why didn’t you ask for help instead of robbing the poor?
#3. I am healthy enough to shovel snow for four hours and not end up in the emergency room. Of course I feel like I have gone ten rounds with a twenty year old and not in a good way.

#2. My oldest son gifted me with the news that the Rising line will continue. Due date is March 2009. I always thought being a grandpa would make me feel old. It doesn’t. Those are my grandsons' feet to the right. His name will be "Haven" after a dear Uncle.

#1. The long suffering wife has once again stood by me in a year that could have been much worse than it was. That alone has made all the difference.
When I was in my salad days the song and the feeling “Give peace a chance” were both very popular. We were mired in war that was un-winnable and there was a great divide in the nation between the people in power and the powerless. Funny how things in 1969 and 2009 seem to be the same. The people spoke last year with a loud roar and the message was clear. Change.
So if there is a mantra for 2009 maybe it could be “give change a chance.” I hope I am not wrong. Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.