IMG_0848

I emceed two events last week. If I was counting, that adds to the hundreds of work, community, school, church and charitable events I’ve done in my career. But something stood out at one of the events last week above all the others. Most have become a blur in my memory. This one I’ll always remember. It’s the first one I’ve emceed with my wife, Michelle. Oh boy!

I’ve joked for years that I’ve had many “wives”. I call them my TV “wives”. Some are quick marriages, other lasted years. All of them are arranged marriages. We work together for a while, appear in promos together, anchor the bizarre and big stories together (at the desk and on-location), and our pictures have even been on billboards and satellite trucks together. And of course, we’ve emceed countless events together over the years.

IMG_0875

I really can’t remember all their names. Sorry. I know. Bad “husband”.  However, I can remember a few of the crazy on-air moments with some of them. Although I can’t for the life of me recall the name of one co-anchor in particular (one of many during the 80′s), I’ll never forget what happened at the beginning of our first newscast together.  A brand new news team about to be unveiled. There was plenty of  hype leading up to it.  But the marriage was doomed from the start. As the news open is running, the announcer punctuating the names of the newlyweds, and right before it comes out to us to say “Good evening”, and deliver the hard-hitting news of the day…. my co-anchor goes completely under the news desk to find or retrieve something (don’t read into that).  I mean, she completely disappears.  Our viewers see just me for those first few seconds, then see her head pop up from under the desk.  What do you say when something like that happens?  I can’t remember.  Maybe a good thing.  That “marriage” didn’t last long enough for a divorce. It was annulled.

Michelle and I will be married 25 years in a few months. My job has moved us to cities all over the country, from coast to coast.  One place we loathed (and escaped within a year), another place we called fantasy land (Las Vegas). Along the way, we had three boys (all in different states).  With a quarter of a century under our belts you’d think we’ve experienced everything together.  But there was something missing. We had never worked together. I’ve been a news anchor and reporter for nearly 35 years, she’s been a successful realtor the past 15. Professionally, she did her thing, and I did mine. That changed last week.

IMG_0849

When Michelle mentioned to me a few weeks ago that we were asked to emcee a fashion show together, I thought, “That’ll be interesting.” The fashion show was put on by a Tulsa realtors group so at least Michelle was among people she knew. But she was still sweating bullets. Once the event got underway though, she acted like a real pro. In fact, we looked and sounded like we’ve been performing together for years … which we have, come to think of it. Without any rehearsing, our act didn’t miss a beat. Here’s a few  exchanges while waiting for the next model to walk down the runway:

  • Me: I’m so excited today.
  • Her: Why’s that?
  • Me: I’ve done hundreds of these types of events over the years, and this will be the first one I get to take my co-emcee home with me.

Or this one:

  • Me: Many of you know we’re nearly 11 years apart in age. Bet you can’t tell who’s older.
  • Her: I think it’s fairly obvious.
  • Me: Okay, I’ll admit I’m older.
  • Her: You sure are.
  • Me: We met on a blind date while I was in college.
  • Her: I don’t think that’s how it happened. That would be impossible.
  • Me: Maybe I’m a little confused.
  • Her: Or old. One thing I’ve never had to worry about during our marriage.
  • Me: What’s that?
  • Her: Running out of make-up. I always know I can borrow some from you.

IMG_0850

She can really dish it out. Of course, she has 25 years of material to work with. Uh oh. That could spell trouble the next time we work together. T-R-O-U-B-L-E indeed!

Here are a couple raw video clips from the fashion show:

 

 

Ortiz Selfie: Spontaneous or Stunt?

 

 

 

IMG_0502

Was the leader of the free world duped on April Fools Day? Tricked by a baseball player and cell phone company? On Tuesday the Boston Red Sox visited the White house to get congratulated by President Obama for their 2013 World Series win. During the ceremony Sox slugger David Ortiz whipped out his phone and shot a selfie with POTUS.*  An impromptu moment or promotional stunt? Yahoo Sports is reporting that Ortiz claims it wasn’t a paid stunt.

But Samsung, the maker of Ortiz’s phone, said it was part of an ad campaign. Ortiz had just signed a promotion deal with Samsung, before his White House visit. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Was the president suckered into appearing in his ad? The White House press secretary says Obama wasn’t aware of the marketing stunt. Ortiz tweeted the picture to his followers. It was then resent by tens of thousands on Twitter. Samsung retweeted the photo as an ad.

Remind anyone of Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity-happy selfie from the Oscars?*  Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones, just happened to be an Oscars sponsor. See a trend here?

IMG_0064

*Caution: Both photos may have been tampered with a bit (either that or I get around a lot)!

A Boatload of Pranks!

Before we thought we got punk'd

Before we thought we got punk’d

April Fools Day is almost over, and so far I’ve avoided any cruel jokes. However, I did think I was getting punk’d twice on our recent vacation. I kept looking for the hidden camera, or Ashton Kutcher and Allen Funt to show up.

Cruisin’ along

Michelle and I took our youngest son, Tommy, on a spring break cruise for his high school senior trip (along with about a dozen other seniors and a few of their parents). We’ve discovered that cruising is a great way to travel with teenagers. They don’t always want to be seen with you, and vice versa. But you kind of always know where they are … somewhere on the big ship. Perfect! Dinner at 8. See you then. That’s all we ask.

DSC_1442

 

“Hair” today, gone tomorrow!

The day before we got off the ship, I decided to get a haircut. “Bad idea,” cautioned one of my friends. “You never know how it’ll turn out. Best to wait until you get home.” I was fully aware that a bad cut wouldn’t be very good for my job. “No problem,” I told him. “I’ll be very careful to tell the ‘stylist’ what I want.” Which, of course, is exactly what I did. Unfortunately he didn’t listen. Or couldn’t understand. He was from the Philippines or Russia or possibly Mars. Someplace like that.

Before I could yell out “Nyet!” he had buzzed the back of my head. Then the sides, and top.  “You like?” he asked. What could I say? I guess I should’ve looked at his haircut first. Mine turned out looking just like it.  And no, Ashton Kutcher didn’t show up in a hair stylist cape.

"Hair" today, gone tomorrow!

“Hair” today, gone tomorrow!

 

Stranded at sea

I also thought I was being fooled on the last day of our cruise. You may have read or seen on TV that an oil barge collided with a ship in Galveston Bay, spewing a bunch of fuel into the bay. The accident shut down the Houston Ship Channel and stranded some 100 vessels at sea, including several cruise ships. One was ours. So we spent nearly an extra day stranded at sea, just a few miles off shore.

Just a few of the dozens of ships stranded at sea near Galveston

Just a few of the dozens of ships stranded at sea near Galveston

 

Pennies from heaven

The weather was foggy and cold. So with nothing to do while we waited to dock, my wife sat down in the casino, at the penny slot machine. We don’t normally gamble. We used to live in Vegas. There’s a good reason why the resorts there are so big and beautiful and expensive. They build them with the money you lose. It’s as simple as that.  So Michelle played the pennies, where ten bucks can buy you 30 minutes of cheap, mindless entertainment. But less than five minutes into our thousand pennies, the machine paused, and began making funny noises. I’ve heard those noises before in Vegas. We couldn’t quite understand the strange order of symbols it displayed, but we knew it meant something out of the norm.

Here’s how our conversation went at that point:

  • Her: What’s going on?
  • Me: I don’t know.
  • Her: I can’t read those numbers on the bottom (of the machine).
  • Me: Let’s see. There’s a 2, a 5, and a lot of zeros.
  • Her: What’s that mean?
  • Me: Beats me (as I tried to figure out where the comma and period was in that number).

You would’ve thought we’d be more experienced with something like this being from Vegas. Under the number, it said “Please see an attendant”. Yeah, sure. And that attendant would look a lot like Candid Camera’s Allen Funt (if he was still alive). But he didn’t, and Michelle was told she’d just won the $25,000  jackpot. Not bad on just a few pennies.

Yep, that says 25 grand!

Yep, that says 25 grand!

As of today, that big, fat, fake check is the closest we’ve come to seeing the money. They say it’s in the mail. So we could still be getting punk’d. Oh well, at least my hair will grow back.

IMG_0463

 

 

Help! My Cat Is Holding Me Hostage

IMG_0201

Don’t you just love cats? They’re so independent and weird. Our kitty, Butters, loves to do “drive-bys” on us in the middle of the night. If the bathroom faucet isn’t at a trickle she’ll make us pay for it. She’ll launch herself from the highest spot above our bed, pounce on my wife, bounce as high as she can and crash-land on top of me, then escape before I can grab her. Believe me, at three in the morning, dead asleep, it’s not a pretty sight. If we ignore her, she’ll wait a few minutes (just long enough that we’re almost asleep again), and then repeat. Until I get up and turn on the water.

IMG_0096

Yep, our cat certainly is a little eccentric, but she’s never held our family hostage (unless you call “I’ll keep jumping on top of you in the middle-of-the-night until you do what I want” holding us hostage). And I’ve never called 911 on her. Not like Lee Palmer did on his cat. Read More

IMG_0063

The Oscars were on ABC last night. I work for an ABC affiliate, but did I get invited? Well, maybe I did. Move over Jennifer Lawrence. I’m getting in that selfie!

IMG_0064

Ellen DeGeneres grabbed a bunch of celebs at the Academy Awards show for a record-breaking selfie. At last count, the picture (with Jude Law instead of me in it) was re-tweeted three million times. The previous record was held by President Obama’s “Four More Years” tweet on the night of his re-election.

th

Speaking of POTUS and selfies, remember the one he took at Nelson Mandela’s memorial with the Denmark prime minister? Doesn’t look like FLOTUS was amused. But apparently, the president is on to something. A new study found that women take more selfies than men, but only to a point, or age-point. After 40, it reverses, with men over that age snapping more selfies than women over 40.

Surprised? Thought selfie-ing was more of a female thing, no matter the age? I’m not. I’ve always loved to do those arm extended photos because I usually have the longest arm and it’s the only way I can get in the picture. You know what they say, photographers never get their picture taken.

Here are a few of my recent selfies. Feel free to tweet them out. I’m looking to break Ellen’s record.

IMG_8716

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_0060

IMG_0053

IMG_9400

IMG_2841

IMG_4959

IMG_2634

IMG_0051

15561330_s

A few months ago I was at a high school football game watching my youngest boy play. A couple of my good friends (husband and wife) sat down next to me. We usually watch the game and talk a little football. You know, the normal stuff at football games. But that night our conversation was anything but normal. It was downright eerie.

UFO sighting

I tried to watch my son play, but all my friends wanted to talk about was the UFO they recently saw in the skies above their home. They swear they spotted a light that appeared to be hovering above the trees. At first, they thought it must have been a plane on approach to Tulsa’s airport, but then it dipped out of sight, re-appeared, then shot forward. They got in their car and tried to follow it, but eventually lost sight of it. But not before they snapped some photos of whatever it was they saw.

“What are you smoking?”

By now I gave up trying to watch the game. I was hooked. My son could have intercepted a pass and ran it the wrong way for a touchdown and I wouldn’t have known it. I asked my friends, “What have you two been smoking?” In reality, I can vouch for their character. Both are reputable, well-respected members of the community. That doesn’t prove though that there are UFOs, but I do believe them when they say they thought they saw one. And here’s what surprised me. They are not alone. Not alone at all.

Deny, deny, deny

I did a little research and found several Websites where people can report UFO sightings. Think there’s just a few here and there? How about thousands of reported sightings every year. In Oklahoma a dozen or so every week. They can’t all be crazy, can they? I’ve never thought my friends were. So I pitched the story idea to my news director. To my surprise, he said, “Go ahead, but only if you find someone who’s spotted one AND captured it on camera. No problem, right? Wrong!

I text one of my friends with the good news. Here’s how the conversation went:

  • Me: UFO story is a go. Do you still have the pics?
  • Her: Ha! I don’t know what you are talking about!!!
  • Me: Both of you were sober when you told me about it! I think.
  • Her: I told you nothing.
  • Me: The story is for sometime in February. Would you and (her husband) be interested in helping out a poor reporter do his job? No pressure!
  • Her: Haha! Not no, but hell no.
  • Me: Chicken!! Those little green men will come looking for you in the middle of the night. Let me know if you change your minds.

They never did. Payback will sure be sweet. So my search was on to find someone else for my UFO story. If not, there would be no story. And I kept looking up until a week before the story was to air. That’s when it practically fell into my lap. I came across a YouTube video made by a Tulsa kid a couple of years ago. It was perfect! It showed something strange in the night sky, the boy in the video was beyond excited, and it was in Tulsa. That’s all I needed. One problem. I couldn’t find him, until I came across some Facebook info that he might have been a busboy at a local restaurant. I’d been to Mondo’s Italian Restaurant on Brookside with a couple of my work buddies. Great place to eat. So I called, asked if the kid worked there, and was told, “Sure that’s the son of one of the owners.” Bingo. I had a story. And here it is:

By the way, I won’t name my “friends”, but you know who you are! And those little green men know who you are too. And someday, they’ll come looking for you.

Labrador Retriever Top Dog Again

Yay!! I came in first again!

Yay!! I came in first again!

For the 23rd straight year, the Labrador Retriever is top dog! The American Kennel Club says that’s a record to be #1 on the most popular breed list.

What? I came in 3rd??

What? I came in 3rd??

Top ten most popular dogs in the U.S. for 2013 (I have two of the top five breeds)

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Beagle
  5. Bulldog
  6. Yorkshire Terrier
  7. Boxer
  8. Poodle
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Dachshund

The biggest jump in the ranking? The French Bulldog came in at #11. The breed has skyrocketed in popularity since 2002 when the Frenchie was in the 58 spot.

For more notable dog trends in 2013 check out the AKC website here.

IMG_7731

13503400_s

I usually make a promise to myself to see most of the Oscar nominated movies before the Academy Awards. I like to keep up on what people are talking about. But every year I usually break that promise because I hate seeing a movie in the theater.  There are two reasons why I’d rather see one at home instead. Now, one of my complaints is being addressed.

ANOTHER trailer? When’s the movie going to start?

Moviegoers who hate those long trailers before the feature film may get some relief soon. You know what I mean. You’re forced to sit through all those previews forever on top of having to get there way early so you don’t have to sit in the front row. It can all add an hour to an already three-hour long flick. Your giant popcorn is gone before the movie starts. The trade group representing major theater chains says it’s clamping down on the duration of movie trailers.

You have two minutes to reel me in

The National Association of Theatre Owners wants to limit the length of those trailers to two minutes. That’s down from the standard of 2 and a half minutes now. That’s not much, but a step in the right direction. I think two minutes is plenty to figure out if it’s a movie worth seeing. Unless of course all the funny lines in a movie are in the trailer. I’ve been fooled far too many times with that dirty trick.

NATO (not that one, but this one) is also asking that studios limit their trailers to no more than five months before a movie’s release. “That’s going to be a great movie. I can’t wait to see it! Oh, hold on. It says ‘Opening in the summer of 2025′” I can wait five months, not 10 years.

They get paid to write this stuff?

Shorter trailers addresses one of my complaints. That alone though won’t get me back into the theaters, however. My other beef? Wasting my time and money on poorly written movies. At home, you can turn a horrible flick off after a few minutes and turn to something a lot more interesting like vacuuming or mowing the lawn or scrubbing the toilets.

Sad thing is while a trade group’s recommendations can help shorten the length of trailers, it probably won’t do anything to encourage studios to stop making bad movies. That might take more people like me watching from my favorite chair at home.

15820575_s

23710538_s

See that 10 cent stamp? That’s how much it cost to mail a letter or bill in 1974. A dime. Starting Sunday, it’ll cost you 49 cents! Yep, the price of stamps is going up again, another three cents this weekend. Not the normal penny hike. Three pennies. That’s the largest increase in postage prices in more than a decade for the U.S. Postal Service.

Stamps cost how much?

The increase was brought up in our afternoon editorial meeting. And most didn’t even know how much postage stamps cost today. It shows fewer Americans these days use snail mail to pay their bills and keep in touch. And that’s one big reason why those who do are paying more. During the recession (and even before), so many people drastically cut back on mail, instead communicating through email and text, and settling their bills online. That’s put the Postal Service in a world of financial hurt.

Forever is a long time

For those who still mail stuff, the post office suggests you’ll want to stock up on Forever Stamps now before Sunday’s increase hits. Buy a Forever Stamp at the current price, and it’s good, well …. forever. You may want to think about doing that if you do a lot of mailing.

Too bad they didn’t offer the Forever Stamp back in 1974. Stocking up on 10 cent stamps would have been a great investment!

1479753_s-1

I usually don’t need to hold a finger up to the wind to feel which direction the housing market is blowing. Or read the latest stat sheets to see if homes are selling or not. No, I have my own barometer to the health of the housing market. If my wife is constantly on her cell phone, it’s good. She’s a realtor. And her phone has been glued to her ear the past year, buying and selling houses for clients. A far cry from the recession years when she actually had the time to talk to me!

Best in 7 years!

So it came as no surprise to me when the latest housing market numbers came out. After taking quite a beating for several years (some parts of the country worse than others), 2013 turned out to be a big year for housing. How big?  The strongest in 7 years!  Nationwide, sales of previously owned homes topped the 5 million mark last year. That’s the highest level since 2006. The National Association of Realtors says 5 million brings sales back to a level that’s considered healthy. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun cites “job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand (for) driving the market.”
Tulsa too
The news is similar in the Tulsa area.  Nearly 13 thousand homes sold last year, a jump of almost nine percent over 2012 and nearly 27 percent from 2011. These stats are from the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors.  “The real estate sales of 2013 are very similar to the numbers that were posted in 2005 and 2006,” Pete Galbraith, president of Coldwell Banker Select, tells me.  Why was 2013 such a good year for housing? Galbraith: “In 2013, we saw the return of the job market and most of all a significant rise in consumer confidence. That coupled with historically low interest rates created a very favorable scenario for home buyers and sellers.”
How about 2014?
Can this rate of growth be sustained in 2014? Hard to tell. Many economists are forecasting more modest gains. Mortgage interest rates are up, and according to Galbraith, “the shrinking inventory of homes for sale that is leading to a fair amount of buyer frustration,” are a couple of reasons why we may not see double-digit gains this year.
I’ll be able to tell you more as the year goes by with my own in-house housing market indicator. Hang on … oh, forget it. I thought my wife was finally off the phone, but she isn’t.
DSC_7067

IMG_9408

Good news for those who use the word “password” as their password. It’s no longer the worst password. “Password” was dethroned last year. It’s number two, but still not the worst.

SplashData, which makes password management applications, is out with its 2013 list of the 25 worst passwords. It bases the list on files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online in the last year. Topping this year’s bonehead worst password list is “123456″. Not much better is it? 

Here’s the full list (see if yours is on it):

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. 123456789
  7. 111111
  8. 1234567
  9. iloveyou
  10. adobe123
  11. 123123
  12. admin
  13. 1234567890
  14. letmein
  15. photoshop
  16. 1234
  17. monkey
  18. shadow
  19. sunshine
  20. 12345
  21. password1
  22. princess
  23. azerty
  24. trustno1
  25. 000000

If any of them are yours, it might be a good idea to change them.  SplashData CEO Morgan Slain says, “As always, we hope that with more publicity about how risky it is to use weak passwords, more people will start taking simple steps to protect themselves by using stronger passwords and using different passwords for different websites.”

It’s as easy as 123456.

I’m not ashamed to say, “I love my iPhone!” It goes everywhere with me, and does just about everything. But I never realized just how much it can do until I read a TrendingBuffalo.com story (via consumerist.com). It opened my eyes to just how valuable my iPhone really is.

The author of the story found a nearly full-length ad by Radio Shack from a 1991 edition of The Buffalo News. Of the 15 electronic gadgets on the page … 13 of them are now crammed into my iPhone. Back in 1991, buying everything in that ad, according to the story, would have cost me …. wait for it … more than three thousand dollars! More like $5100 in today’s money, it goes on to say. Here’s the ad:

590x810xradioshackad.jpg.pagespeed.ic.P-m_lvMblD

Here’s the list of items the iPhone has rendered obsolete:

  • All weather personal stereo, $11.88. I now use my iPhone with an Otter Box
  • AM/FM clock radio, $13.88. iPhone.
  • In-Ear Stereo Phones, $7.88. Came with iPhone.
  • Microthin calculator, $4.88. Swipe up on iPhone.
  • Tandy 1000 TL/3, $1599. I actually owned a Tandy 1000, and I used it for games and word processing. I now do most of both of those things on my phone.
  • VHS Camcorder, $799. iPhone.
  • Mobile Cellular Telephone, $199. Obvs.
  • Mobile CB, $49.95. Ad says “You’ll never drive ‘alone’ again!” iPhone.
  • 20-Memory Speed-Dial phone, $29.95.
  • Deluxe Portable CD Player, $159.95. 80 minutes of music, or 80 hours of music? iPhone.
  • 10-Channel Desktop Scanner, $99.55. I still have a scanner, but I have a scanner app, too. iPhone.
  • Easiest-to-Use Phone Answerer, $49.95. iPhone voicemail.
  • Handheld Cassette Tape Recorder, $29.95. I use the Voice Memo app almost daily.
  • BONUS REPLACEMENT: It’s not an item for sale, but at the bottom of the ad, you’re instructed to ‘check your phone book for the Radio Shack Store nearest you.’  Do you even know how to use a phone book?

Now you see why I love my iPhone? It’s a whole lot cheaper than buying all that stuff. Plus I doubt I could fit it all in my pocket.

Everything from 1991 Radio Shack ad I now do with my phone

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,134 other followers

%d bloggers like this: