The absolute worst job of any in North America? A lumberjack. CareerCast.com just rated it dead last in desirability out of 200 different vocations. I grew up and lived in the great Pacific Northwest for nearly 30 years. It was the land of lumberjacks, at least during the heyday of the timber industry. As a kid, lumberjacking was certainly never last on my list of what I wanted to be. I used to go to the county fair and loved watching them compete in competitions. You know, the fastest to saw or chop a log, climb up and down a pole, or balance on a spinning log in a pool of water.
“Hey dude, just trippin’ out”
Later, as a young reporter covering, at the time, Oregon’s biggest industry, I got a taste of how dangerous logging (they don’t really call it lumberjacking anymore) could be. Dodging heavy machinery, felling giant trees and wielding chainsaws is dirty work, and extremely risky. And it doesn’t help when environmental terrorists oppose what you do, and even try to kill you. I covered countless protests by a group called Earth First! and their efforts to stop logging in Oregon. Their members would chain themselves to trees or set up camp in the branches 100 feet up. More than once I would race to some remote spot in the forest where one of these radicals was holed up, halting a multi-million dollar timber operation. Here’s how many of my interviews would go:
- Me: (shouting to a protestor 100 feet straight up) “What are you doing up there?”
- Protester: “Hey dude, just trippin’ out.”
- Me: “You do know you’re holding up a big tree clearing operation.”
- Protester: “Bummer isn’t it?”
- Me: “Why?”
- Protester: “Don’t really know. Guess I’m just tired of them raping Mother Earth. How would you like it if they did that to your mother?” (I’m not making this up)
- Me: “How long do you plan on staying up there?”
- Protester: “As long as it takes.” (They usually came down as soon as reporters left)
- Me: (ready to get out of there) “Gotta go. What’s your name?”
- Protester: “Ima”
- Me: “Ima what?”
- Protester: “Ima Wood.”
- Me: “Watch that first step,” I would mumble.
- Protester: “What?”
- Me: “I said have a nice day. Dude.”
- Protester: “Gnarly!”
Those were the mis-guided, but harmless ones. Then there were the dangerous ones. Many a time, they would secretly drive a spike into one of the big trees that was to be felled. The tree would be taken to a mill to be cut into lumber. There, one of the big saws would occasionally find that hidden spike and kick back into one of the workers. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight. Logging (lumberjacking) is a dangerous job.
Breaking news: Broadcasting near the bottom
Not surprisingly, math and sciences dominate the top of the list. The top job on this year’s list is mathematician. I’m not a math whiz or a lumberjack. Curious, I looked for my profession among the 200. I made a mistake and started at #1 and moved down the list. I would’ve saved a lot of time starting at the other end. Broadcasting is in the bottom five, at #196. Gnarly dude!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
*Caution: Both photos may have been tampered with a bit (either that or I get around a lot)!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Top ten most popular dogs in the U.S. for 2013 (I have two of the top five breeds)
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Yorkshire Terrier
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.
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.
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!
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!
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):
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.