Next Tuesday I will have been married to Faye for one year. We were married on our family's boat on the Pacific Ocean and the ceremony was interrupted in the middle by a few different pods of dolphins that circled the boat. It was a perfect ceremony on a perfect day. But honestly…the past year has been better than that day. I'm so lucky to have found her and even luckier that she is still with me!
I mention that today because next week I will be on vacation and I most likely won't be updating this blog…
From Kathy (6/25/13):
Underemployed is bad enough and too high a number, but just as bad are the millions of Americans that are out of unemployment benefits and can't find any type of job at all.
True enough, Kathy. That's why I do not get excited about the falsely-inflated stock market. The stock market is about the 1%, not the 99%. I'm no economist…but the REAL economy is in worse shape than we are being told, in my opinion. And don't even get me started on wealth distribution, which is at levels that are usually seen just before revolutions.
From April (6/26/13):
Hello Greg, My hubby and I were just discussing the percentage of people who live paycheck to paycheck. It's a sad number, but not surprising. I know a number of people who fall into this category. Many of them make decent salaries, but they just live well outside of their means. Big houses, fancy cars, etc. As Dave Ramsey says, "Learn to act your wage"! Hubby and I became debt-free in March of this year when we paid off our mortgage. We had to sacrifice a lot to get there, but it was well worth it! Now we are taking it easy and we rest well knowing that no matter what happens, we will have a place to live. Our next step is to buy a newer car (with cash!). So I encourage you to keep working towards you goal, Greg. Being debt-free is amazing, and I also encourage others to make goals like this as well.
Like Kathy just mentioned above…the employment situation is still horrendous. I've heard rumors around here about more job loss for this area in the coming months. My guess is it isn't going to improve anytime soon.
Like you said…everything points to getting your own house in order. Not owing anyone money will get most people ahead of the game. And those that are able to get an "emergency fund" will be in very good shape to weather what could be coming, financially speaking.
And congrats on paying off that mortgage!
That's it for me this week. Next week I will be on vacation! I will likely be checking in occasionally on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I've mentioned here before that I have had a subscription to the Illinois Lottery for a few years. Some call it a waste of money. But to me it has been entertainment at the cost of $3 a week with a chance to win back some of that money. I've never won more than $3 at a time…but I've won $3 several times. It is something I enjoy and it doesn't cost me very much. So every year I fork out $150 to play the game.
A few years ago the state turned over the primary maintenance of the lottery to a private group that handles other lotteries. I noticed a difference almost immediately, and it wasn't necessarily a good change. But I kept up my subscription because I enjoy it. Over the past couple of years a couple of big changes have been made. First the new company revamped the website. That was fine with me. It made it a little more complicated to get to the numbers I needed to see 3 times a week…but whatever. The website looked slicker than what the state was doing.
Then the company started changing the way that payouts were made. They no longer sent checks. They gave everyone an account and your money could accrue until you decided to do something with it. Whatever…it actually gave us a few options and options are almost always good.
But then the company added a bonus number to the Illinois State Lottery. It was basically an extra number that would give you a small payout if you hit it. I tend to be a purist when it comes to the Illinois State Lottery. I like six numbers and that is it. If you want to get funky with the numbers you can do Little Lotto, or Mega Millions, or whatever else games they have created in the past several years to improve business. But leave my Illinois State Lottery alone! Just the same…I kept playing because the bonus number wasn't mandatory for all that played the lottery. So I chose to keep my six numbers the way I always have.
Enter last week when I received an email from the Lottery people saying that they were completely changing the game. Even more so…they were cancelling all current subscriptions and if you wanted to keep playing you would have to sign up for the new version of the game and buy a new subscription. I didn't even really study the new rules to the game. Frankly I am not really interested. From what I could tell they are adding more balls and more bonus games and completely getting away from giving me 6 numbers and playing the game straight. And they are even changing the days of the drawings.
The email said that effective July 13th the old game was over. All subscriptions would be cancelled and if you had games left on your subscription they will mail you a check for the balance. Well that is fine. It is their game and they make the rules. But I have decided that I will take my money back when they send it to me. And I will not be subscribing to the Illinois State Lottery any longer. They just lost a long term customer because they couldn't just leave the game alone.
Maybe the new changes will have the impact that they hope it will. Maybe it will spike interest in the game. I don't know…and I don't care. I am done playing the Illinois State Lottery. I will miss it…but the extra $150 a year in my pocket will be nice. I'm sure I can find another way to get cheap entertainment with that money.
I've mentioned here before that Faye and I decided a while back to check out what Dave Ramsey has to offer. For those that are not aware Dave Ramsey is a financial counselor that has been doing a radio show for about 20 years. He has started what is called "Financial Peace University", and has a multitude of products designed to help people with their financial lives. It is true that he has made millions doling out information that used to be commonplace. But he has also helped millions of people get their financial house in order.
The main principle behind Dave's ideas is that people should be debt free. Pretty basic, I know. But look around. Ask your friends and neighbors. Most people in this country owe other people or institutions money. Whether it is student loans, mortgages, car loans, or credit cards…this country has a serious debt crisis. When the economy is thriving and everyone is making money that isn't such a disastrous problem. But when the economy is in the tank and the country isn't working at full capacity it isn't good to owe anyone money.
That is the biggest reason that Faye and I decided to bear down and get things done in our house. Looking around at what has happened to this country in the past decade we just decided that we would vastly improve our chances in the future if we didn't even have a house payment. While we do not prescribe 100% to everything that Dave suggests, like cash envelopes, we have gone above and beyond to improve our financial standing. And in this past year we have made great strides. By the end of next year we will be almost done, provided nothing really bad happens. Honestly…it will be nice to not even have to send out a mortgage payment.
News came out yesterday about a new government survey that claims that 76% of households in this country live paycheck to paycheck. Think about that for a minute. Three quarters of this country will be out on its collective butt if they lose their job. Bills won't get paid if they don't get their next check. That means most people owe someone else money, and most people don't have proper savings. That is a scary high level of financial stress.
The stock market has been artificially inflated for a few years now. Last week the Fed announced that they will begin easing back out of the incentives, etc, that they have been doing since 2008/09, and since then the market has started correcting itself. Unemployment numbers are still stagnant, especially when you factor in those that are underemployed. There are just a lot of reasons for Americans to get their own houses in order…especially since our government is apparently out to lunch and not really looking out for us.
I'm not blogging about this to try to get you to do Dave Ramsey's stuff. Dave is making enough money. I guess I am blogging about this because it is on my mind this morning and I wanted to share what Faye and I are trying to do. More importantly I guess I wanted to tell you WHY we are trying to do it. Getting into any kind of shape, physical…financial…whatever, isn't easy. But it is so totally worth it.
It is officially Summer! At 12:04 this morning the new season began. And this weekend we are in for very "summerlike" weather. Temperatures will be around 90 and we may see a storm tomorrow. Not bad at all!
This morning on my way to work I ran over an opossum. He shot out into the middle of my lane and I had that brief moment where I realized that I could miss it…if I were willing to crash. I wasn't willing to crash so the little dude went right under my car. My guess is it is dead. I really feel it when that happens, although some would argue I don't feel it as much as the animal. I just feel bad when it happens. But when you drive 500 miles a week on country roads that time of the morning you are bound to hit some animals.
This morning, for whatever reason, I saw many animals. There were a few cats, a raccoon, several deer…even in town in Sullivan, and of course the ill-fated opossum. Fortunately for me I only hit one of the animals this morning.
From Kathy (6/19/13):
It could have been worse it could have been Dark Side of the Moon!
True enough, Kathy. Although my favorite Floyd album is still "The Wall". I love the movie, too. I can actually watch the movie, unaltered, and understand what the story is trying to say.
That's it for this week! Thanks for sticking with the blog. While you are here you might take a second and check out some of the other blogs around here. "The Reel Opinion" is a great movie blog. Of course you can check in with the baby mommas around here with Dawn and Stacey's blogs. Paula Thornton keeps you up with some of her investigations on her blog. And I am not sure if he has been checking in from his European trip…but JC has been in Germany this week and at some point he may give you an update on his blog. Good stuff happening around here in the WAND Blogosphere lately!
Yesterday the world heard that James Gandolfini died. If you aren't aware, Gandolfini played Tony Soprano in the HBO series "The Sopranos". I didn't know James Gandolfini. But like millions of other people I feel like I do. "The Sopranos" is arguably the best drama in the history of television. I certainly consider it to be one of my favorite shows of all time, just behind MASH. And Gandolfini was PERFECT as Tony Soprano. To millions of fans he was so good at the role that he WAS Tony Soprano.
Obviously he wasn't really Tony Soprano. By some accounts of those that knew him he was actually fairly shy and quiet. That would be almost the opposite of Tony Soprano. That speaks to how well Gandolfini played Tony.
I'm not personally impacted by his death. Like I said…I didn't know him personally. But isn't it funny how we can feel about someone we've never met when we hear that they die? I will admit it. I am a little sad about it. The thought occurred to me, in that detached way we think about "celebrities", that it is sad because now we know for sure that there will never be that "The Sopranos" movie that was always talked about. Obviously a human being has died way too young and that is sad. But not actually knowing the person somehow allows us to feel it is okay to focus on the fact that this guy dying will negatively impact my entertainment going forward.
I don't want to ramble about it at this point. But I did want to mention that the guy died. I was thinking about it this morning so I blogged about it.
This morning on the way to work I was still aggravated by the radio situation. I'm not sure what it is but lately the stations I like to listen to haven't been coming in very well. I'm torqued a bit by the whole ESPN Radio issue I described yesterday. But even the station in Taylorville hasn't been coming in very well lately. Maybe it is my aging car or something.
When you boil all of this down it is really complaining about superficial stuff. Many moons ago when I was driving the first car I bought my radio was stolen. I didn't have much money back then so I couldn't afford a new one. Most of my drives were pretty quiet! So I realize that I am complaining about a luxury. But isn't it amazing what we can get used to and take for granted?
Speaking of the stolen radio…it didn't work anyway. I heard a few weeks after it was stolen that the guy that stole it sold it to someone. Well…it didn't work. And I knew the kid that stole it. As it turns out the kid sold it to another guy that quickly found out that he was sold a radio that didn't work. So he tracked down the kid that stole it from me/sold it to him and beat the crap out of him. It may be wrong…but I felt pretty good about that at the time. The big issue for me wasn't that the radio was stolen, because it didn't work anyway. But when the kid stole the thing it still had my Pink Floyd "The Wall" cassette in it!
For those of you concerned…my blood test went swimmingly well. Sure…I was on 10 mg's of a generic Valium. But my wonderful nurse drew my blood and I did not pass out. I also had my oil checked and had to cough…but that likely puts us in the territory of too much information. I will get all of the results back in the next day or two. Chances are I will just keep those results to myself. I don't want to violate any privacy laws!
Mostly mornings on my way to work I've told you that I have three or four radio stations I flip through depending on my mood. Lately I have been catching the Dave Ramsey Show on the station out of Taylorville. I started listening to that channel because for some reason my beloved ESPN Radio out of Champaign doesn't come in as well as it used to. The channel is 93.5 and now I don't get very far on Route 121 before some Cromwell station out of Decatur takes over the frequency.
So great. Now instead of listening to ESPN radio to catch up on what I missed while I was sleeping I get to hear yet another "Jack" station that gets its stale music list from some computer in Nashville. Those "Jack" stations, or "The Chief", or whatever else name they use, claim to "play anything". But if you listen for more than a day you soon realize that they operate the same way as any other radio station that gets a corporate music list. Within a day or two you start hearing the same over-researched songs. And now for whatever reason Cromwell Radio has decided that their 17 radio stations in Central Illinois are not enough. Now they have to blow out the only FM ESPN radio station in the area. It's almost enough to make me want to boycott.
When I was five I had to have a blood test. It was one of those "baseline", let's see if there is anything seriously wrong with this kid, kind of things. I did not have another blood test until I was in my twenties. It was for a life insurance policy and the nurse came by my house to draw the blood. We never got all the way through that blood test because I passed out in the middle of it. That was not the first time I had passed out because of needles. There have been several times in my life that I have passed out from getting shots, or having a blood test. Needles are not something I enjoy very much.
It is a weird thing for a kid that grew up in a funeral home. I've seen dead bodies my entire life. I've seen the insides of dead bodies many times. I've watched as my Dad drained the blood from countless clients. I've cut myself more times than I can count. Blood and gore do not bother me in the least. Yet I can not handle needles. I've even passed out watching other people and even animals get shots. There is just something about needles that completely shut down my system.
There have been times when I have triumphed over this completely irrational fear. When I was thirty I had another blood test and I did not pass out. Of course that time the doctor gave me a prescription for Valium…so I was a little drugged. Last year I had a cyst removed from my back and took four shots to the back without passing out, although I came close. Once in a while I can take a shot without getting the all too familiar sight of snowy vision closing in on my field of view just before I lose consciousness.
I am turning 40 years old in a couple of short months. To me that means it is time to run this aging body in for another check up (every ten years!). Later this morning I will be sitting in my doctor's office waiting to have blood drawn. Yesterday I went to Dale's in South Shores to have my prescription filled for my anti-freak out pills. So I am ready. If I survive I will give you an update. If I pass out again I will probably accidentally forget to tell you!
From Jim (6/12/13):
I respect your hard core ideas regarding the flag code, but I must point out that my leather Navy flight jacket has a sizable US flag in it's interior liner. 41 years later my American Legion uniform has an embroidered flag on one sleeve, with the other sleeve carrying the Legion icon. Since both the Navy and the American Legion were established by acts of congress, I would assume that our dress codes were and still are permitted.
Last week it took 8 of us veterans to change the flag in front of our Legion. You have no idea how much an $800 dollar 30' X 50' foot flag can weigh… especially if there is any wind. Annually we properly burn well over 1000 flags that people bring us from far and wide. It's a very official somber ceremony, and you'd be surprised at how many families show up to respectfully watch. Our chaplain still offers our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, and we never omit God's name while saying the "pledge". I suppose we are now breaking some new liberal laws… but our attitude is very simple: Just come and TRY to arrest us if you want to experience a REAL fight!
I'm not in the least offended by subtle flag lapel pins or hat pins, because the bearer has proper intentions. I'd draw the line at more casual and commercial misuses of our national symbol. I usually wear an embroidered US Navy ball cap, with 4 pins on it depicting the squadrons and carrier I was on. There is no flag on it however, because (unlike our current President) nobody will ever mistake me for anything but a true red blooded American born citizen.
One point I forgot to make on the Flag Code blog was that I NEVER consider anything a military person does in regards to the flag a violation of the Code, within reason. Personally I feel that if you have served under that banner you earn a lot of leeway in regards to it. A flag patch or emblem on a uniform or military hat is completely within the Code. That extends to the Commander in Chief, too…whoever is in charge at the time. I'm even okay with a President NOT saluting or putting a hand over the heart during the Anthem. And despite what some would have you believe...you can find a picture of ALL recent Presidents not putting a hand over the heart during the Anthem.
From Kathy (6/12/13):
I went to school in NJ which starts summer vacation late in June so Flag Day was the last holiday we got off, but the day before had people from the VFW and American Legion come and talk about how to take care of the flag. The correct way to fold it, store it, and display it. They also showed how to honorably destroy the damaged flags burning by a military or approved group. I disagree with you about the tee shirts and lapel pins to me they are more permanent displays of the flag. I don't like the paper plates and disposable items using the flag. Happy Flag Day and stick to your beliefs.
Tee shirts are disposable. The lapel pins I don't feel are a direct violation of the Flag Code…but I still refuse to wear one. Like I said in the blog, though, I have no issues with anyone else wearing one. I just choose not to wear one.
From Jill (6/13/13):
Thanks to both of you for the siren help. I guess your best bet is to not rely on sirens and have a plan of your own. If we lived down the street and didn't make it down to the basement in time, it could've been a pretty bad ordeal!! Next time we will just stay in the basement till we know for sure the entirety of the storm has gone.
Yeah. You should have a plan of your own anyway. Honestly if you didn't have kids I would give you a different answer. But with kids you probably want to lean towards a much more conservative approach. Staying in the basement a bit longer is a pretty good idea. Those radios are wonderful and helpful tools…but no technology is perfect. And any machine can break down.
That's it for this week! Thank you for the feedback this week. The weekend could get pretty wet for some of us. Happy Flag Day!
A cap is a layer of air in the atmosphere that limits the ability of the air below it to rise. In other words…it is a layer in the upper atmosphere that is more stable than the air below it. In order for storms to really develop the air has to be rising. It is the rising of warmer, moist air into cooler air above that creates the energy to get storms really brewing. When a strong cap is in place the ability of the warm air to rise is limited…which inhibits the growth of storms.
Sometimes the rising air is strong enough to break through that layer of stable air. Some call this "popping the cap". There are other phrases that some use…but the basic point is that the cap, or stable layer of air, is made unstable and the thunderstorms are able to continue building and developing.
I told you all of that to explain what happened to us yesterday. There were some pretty strong storms to our north yesterday. There was a good chance that those storms would move through our area. However…we also had a fairly strong cap. It can be very difficult to predict if/when the cap is going to be popped so storms can develop. And yesterday the cap over us was strong enough to not pop…and we didn't really get storms, with the exception of the northeast corner of the viewing area…places like Champaign, Vermilion, Ford, and Iroquois counties.
In a nut shell that is what happened to our storms yesterday.
This afternoon into this evening will likely be fairly busy. We are expecting storms and there is a decent chance for a sizable damaging wind event. It is a great day to use all of our tools at your disposal to keep an eye on what is happening.
I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I don't use any weather graphics that use the image of the American flag. I also mentioned that I am pretty hard core when it comes to the Flag Code. We've talked about this before here on the blog. The Flag Code is an official guideline for how we are to treat our national symbol. It is a federal document…but it would be unconstitutional for the code to carry penalties. So you won't be arrested for violating the Flag Code…but it is about respect.
One of the Codes dictates that we are not to use the image of the flag on anything temporary, like tee shirts, paper plates, car magnets, or in my mind…weather graphics. Another item that I consider a violation is lapel pins. I realize my interpretation of the Code is fairly hardline…and because of that I don't begrudge others for what I would perceive as a violation. I just personally choose to stick to my beliefs in regards to the Code.
At times it has actually been an issue at my job. Do you remember shortly after 9/11 when everyone you saw on TV was wearing an American flag lapel pin? It started with our elected representatives but it wasn't long before anyone on any news station was also wearing them. Our General Manager at the time decreed that all of our on-air people were to wear these pins. I found it is be disingenuous to wear a pin just because we were told we had to. And of course I also considered it against the Flag Code. So…I didn't wear mine. Not once…ever. I caught some heat over it at first but once I was given the chance to fully explain my position The Suits backed down.
Friday is Flag Day.
Last week someone sent me a link to a blog. On that blog were two video clips of a woman in New Jersey that says some things very well to a group of elected officials. Part of what she said was a great breakdown of what our elected officials were put in office to do. These clips are also good for anyone concerned about the Constitution.
Hope your weekend was a good one! Mine was alright. I've mentioned before that Faye started a fantastic job at the beginning of the year. The job has been everything she hoped it would be. Her current employers know how to treat employees, which is something her previous employer still hasn't figured out. She is well compensated. And this is a company she sees herself finishing her career with down the road. It is all in all fantastic. The one downside to her gig is that she has to work every other weekend. She worked this weekend so I was pretty much on my own. I got a little bored but I was able to get a lot of stuff done around the house.
Over the weekend I got some feedback from last week's feedback. I thought I would go ahead and post it this morning since it was answering a question from last week.
From Josh (6/7/13):
Hey Greg, for your Feedback Friday comments. http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2011-05-24/emergency-officials-issue-reminder-storm-sirens.html
Thanks for the info, Josh!
From Devin (6/7/13):
I have useful information on the tornado sirens (also known as outdoor warning sirens). I can say that in Logan County, our E.M.A. that is located in Lincoln sets off all the sirens in the county. And they are only activated when winds hit 60 MPH, and/or when a funnel cloud or tornado is spotted. They are not activated when a tornado warning is issued like I have seen in Decatur's case. But looking into Jill's feedback, I would have to say a tornado probably hit her area and the sirens did not sound because there was no confirmation of a touchdown or funnel cloud sighting at the time. If a rotating wall cloud, funnel cloud, or even a tornado was reported that night, those sirens would probably roar back to life. I hope this helps.
Thanks for the info, Devin!
This morning on the way to work I was about two miles north of Bethany on Route 121. It was a fairly cloudy morning with some low hanging clouds. As I was driving along the sky started to flicker. Towards the top of my windshield it looked like someone was turning a light on and off somewhere up in the sky. Sometimes that will happen when there is a tower nearby and the lights on the tower go off and on. So I didn't think much of it until I realized I was on a part of my daily commute that didn't have a tower nearby.
So I leaned forward in my seat so I could get a better look at the sky. I looked to the right and saw the tail of something burning. My first thought was that it was a meteor. I followed the tail of light tog et to the core just as the core fizzled out. Most of what I saw was below the cloud line…which was a little close to the Earth for a falling star. It happened pretty fast but I can still see the event clearly in my mind.
I'm still pretty certain it was just a meteor that went low before it burned out. But I really want to investigate a little bit just to make sure. The only problem is that I am not sure where to begin! There are websites that tracks meteors, and meteorites…which is what they call meteors that actually make contact with the ground. So I will be checking those websites out to see if anyone reported it. Aside from that…I guess I will just watch the news to see if I saw something that was actually a bigger deal than I realize.
Did anyone else see this thing? If so I would love to hear from you. Hit the feedback section below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Jill (6/5/13):
I live in Argenta and I'm sure you know we had a lot of damage from Friday night's storm. Here is my burning question...the sirens went off and my husband and I got our 2 year old out of bed and went to the basement. The sirens turned off and things seemed to calm down so we headed back upstairs and I laid on the couch with my daughter to make sure the worst of it was over before taking her up another flight of stairs back to bed. The sirens never came back on, but we heard the wind pick up and the classic "sounds like a train coming" (I am also a witness/survivor to the Home Park tornado of '96, so I for sure know what that sounds like). I panic and grab my daughter and run back down the basement stairs just in time for the worst part of the storm that caused the damage. I don't understand why the sirens weren't going at that point? I've tried letting it go, but it makes me angry. I would have rather listened to sirens for an hour straight and stayed in the basement, then to panic and run down rickety steps 8 months pregnant carrying a 2 year old. So, how do these sirens work? Do they only go off if a tornado or funnel cloud is spotted and it was too dark to spot one? And yes maybe I'm a bit traumatized from running away from the Ravina Park Rd. tornado, but still it doesn't make sense to me. I would appreciate any enlightenment, thanks!!
That train sound isn't one that I think most people would forget, Jill. Kudos to you and your husband for having a severe weather plan…or at least for knowing what to do in case of severe weather!
Those sirens are run by the city, I think. I'm not the most knowledgeable when it comes to those things. Maybe someone that reads this blog will know and can shed some light on the situation. I've heard of the sirens going off for no reason and I've heard of them not coming on when they should. Maybe it is a programming issue, or human error. But again…I don't really have a lot of knowledge about those things. If anyone else can help just hit the feedback section below or send me an email.
That's it for this week! Tomorrow looks great but Sunday should be wet and stormy! Have a great weekend…
People often make the joke that being a meteorologist is the only job where you can be wrong half the time and still get paid. I would amend that just a bit to say that it is more important in this job to be liked than it is to be right. It's a given that meteorology is still an inexact science. There are simply still too many variables to have 100% accuracy. However…the science is so much better now than even ten years ago and it keeps getting better and better.
I've said before that this really is a great job…and not just because it is acceptable to be completely wrong once in a while. But I will tell you…the job I would really like to have is that of a gas company executive. If we mets are allowed to hedge our bets so much with a forecast just think of the perfect situation a gas company exec is in. Their entire system of pricing gasoline is built up on so many variables that they always have a good reason to raise the price of gas.
Most of the time we are told that the price of gas is tied to the price of crude oil. I think most of the time that is fairly accurate. Although if you really watch the price of crude compared to the price of gas you will notice that they do not always go up or down together. I know this because I watch both gas and crude just about every darn day. So when oil goes down yet gas goes up we always ask why. Sometimes we are told it is simply supply and demand. Then we are told it is because of some event that has gas companies worried about the cost of crude futures. If a hurricane starts forming over an ocean it can drive the price of gas up because it "might" drive crude prices up.
Gas in this area this week has gone up around $0.35 in many cases. But if you look at the price of crude it hasn't really gone up much, certainly not enough to justify the huge jump in gas prices. I've heard recently that this time our gas went up because someone was concerned about refinery issues in the States. So now in addition to the price of crude, potential storms in the Atlantic, or the overall global demand for gas…we are told that how the gas is handled at the refineries will also impact the price of gas.
And they say meteorologists can't commit to a solid answer! At least our hedging doesn't cost the country countless billions of dollars a year…
Yesterday morning we had some guests from the Macon County Fair in the studio. Yes…it is already fair season. The people that came in brought a crown and a tiara with them. Of course those are for fair pageant winners. But naturally Mark and I had to use them during the news. After one of my weathercasts when I sat with Mark at the desk he put the Queen's Crown on my head and we had a little fun joking around about it. The next time we were on Mark put the tiara on his head. It was a fun moment that I am not sure some people quite understood!
Part of our jobs during the morning news is to try to have fun. Somewhere on some promotional piece it states that we are "The Most Fun You'll Have Between 5 and 7". So there is a little pressure on us to provide not only information…but a little entertainment as well. And sometimes in order to entertain you have to be willing to be the butt. Today's atmosphere and culture is fairly sensitive. That basically means that it is much safer to poke fun at yourself than it is to go after other people. That is what I mean when I say sometimes you have to be the butt. Mark and I both have what I consider to be great senses of humor. We understand how the process works…so we are not afraid to put ourselves out there even if it means people are laughing AT us instead of with us.
Someone asked me how it felt to wear a woman's head dressing during the news. And that is basically my response. It is the fact that it is something made for a woman that makes it so funny. I'm the first to admit that I am not the most masculine dude on the planet. I mean…I wear makeup most days of the week. I have skinny limbs and joints so I don't come off as a butch guy. But I know who I am and I have no issue with what we did during the news yesterday. It actually seems odd to me that there are still people around that think that me or Mark putting on a tiara or crown would mean anything more than we were trying to have fun. And maybe the more important question at this point would be…what if it did mean something more? Who cares?
Yesterday we reached a big milestone on the Facebook page. There are now over 5000 fans on there. In gratitude for the support this morning we will be doing "Phrase of the Day". For those that aren't aware…POTD is a game where you have the chance to dictate what I say during a weather cast. We haven't played the game in a long while now...but back in the day it was a lot of fun and often hilarious. I hope you can catch it live…but if you can't you will be able to watch it on Facebook/YouTube/etc later today.
Wednesday in Indianapolis we decided to walk from our hotel to a Star Wars exhibit at the Indiana State Museum. It was a bit of a hike but we were completely up for it. The exhibit was fantastic and even included a four and a half minute Millennium Falcon simulation. On the way back to the hotel we walked by the Indiana State Capital building. Faye's grandma told her once that she should never pass an opportunity to visit any state's capital building. For one…they are usually one of the more beautiful buildings in any state. And two…they are free!
So we decided to walk through the building. As we were walking towards the building I realized that we would be attempting to enter through a back door…which isn't easy in today's much more cautious atmosphere. We walked up the many steps and got close to the entrance. I saw a sign that read "Employees Only". So we both turned around to walk down the steps and begin the trek around to the front of the building.
Before we got to the bottom of the steps a guy approached from the parking lot. When he hit the bottom step he noticed us walking down towards him. He looked us up and down and said, "I can let you guys in. You don't look like terrorists." Although I am not sure his choice of words was politically correct…it was certainly a nice offer that we were not about to pass up. So we walked back up the steps with out new friend. We started chatting with him as he used his swipe card to key into the building. Faye told him about her Grandma's advice and he replied that she had a smart Grandma. He also mentioned that the capital was the most beautiful building in Indiana.
We walked into the building…and it was beautiful. Our new friend was actually fairly chatty and that was fine because he was giving us all kinds of information about the history of the building and pointing out some very cool features. At one point he asks, "So do you guys want to walk onto the Senate floor?" Faye and I looked at one another and simultaneously responded "of course!"
It was then that I noticed our new buddy was wearing an ID badge on one of those necklace looking things. On the necklace part was the word "Senator". At that point I figured it was an aide of some kind. He was just too nice and seemed to have too much spare time to be anything more than a helper. But this guy walks us over to a large door…opens it…and the two security officers sitting inside the door begin joking with our tour guide. I look to the left and see the Senate Chamber…and he walks us right in. So here we are standing with our new friend on the Senate Floor of the Indiana State Capital, where for a couple of centuries the state's policies have been decided. Maybe I was overplaying it in my head a bit…but I was very much taken by the sense of history in the room and thinking about the men and women (although not enough women) that have spent time in that room.
Our tour guide knew a lot about the room and was telling us more history and stories. He told us that in the Senate they were very much about tradition and formality. The Senators have to wear a jacket onto the floor, while the Representative in the House are much more relaxed. He also mentioned that for the first time in a while Indiana was far majority Republican in both the House and Senate. I could hear Faye under her breath whisper "Oh good". I chuckled. At some point our guide mentioned that he was from Lafayette, Indiana…but never mentioned his name. And we didn't introduce ourselves, either.
We finished our tour with the guide and walked around a little bit more inside the building before deciding it was time to move on. We were impressed with the serendipitous nature of our chance meeting on the steps of the building. It was a lucky break to catch our very own tour guide while visiting another state's capital. When we got back to the hotel I Googled some of the state capital workers. I found our tour guide very quickly on the state's website.
Well here we are. Back from vacation…recharged…rejuvenated…relaxed…and ready to go. It was certainly a busy week while I was gone. The weather was pretty crazy…not only here but around the region. The poor people of Oklahoma have had a rough go of it. And of course we had a couple of bouts of nasty weather here while I was gone. We will have a couple of days for storms this week but overall it should be a bit calmer this week compared to last.
Vacation was terrific. For some reason Faye and I had not taken a vacation with just the two of us since we've been together. We've always traveled with friends/family…or traveled to see family/friends. It is always nice to spend time with other people but obviously it is even more important to spend time together alone as a couple and we just haven't been good about doing that. I will shoulder most of the blame on that one. My family is pretty stretched out so when we get time away it is just easy to plan a trip to go see someone. Almost four years later we realized that we had never just gone somewhere together with no one we knew at the destination.
We decided on this vacation to go to Indianapolis. Of course I have family and some friends in Indianapolis that we could have seen. But this trip we decided to just keep it the two of us. It was a fantastic little trip. I won't give you details right now but probably through the week tell you about a couple of the more notable moments from the vacation.