Hip hip hooray. There is no jay.
Boo boo for you. You’ve lost your way.
In the morning there’s humor.
In the evening there’s food.
Whatever the season,
there’s always some good.
It’s 3:08 on a Sunday morning. We’re in the middle of an extended snowstorm. There’s more than a foot of snow on the ground and it keeps coming down. Yesterday, Alexis and I drove around looking at icicles.
I can’t remember exactly how the weather went, but it must have been that snow started to melt and then flash froze. There’s icicles hanging from church vestibules, off the gutters of houses in Hammond, from the carport at St. Thomas More and from the eves of one-story commercial buildings. Beauty can be right in front of your face. You just have to drive around and look at it.
…I’ve been thinking lately – coming to accept – that I’m not gonna get back to where I once was in term of money. It’s a working life now. The big win, the big hit, the jackpot isn’t gonna come. Accept it and move on. Just do your job and do it better.
I guess also that I’m just not as concerned with searching for a jackpot as I once was. I don’t have some esoteric talent that will someday be discovered. Nope. It’s just me. The local radio guy.
I don’t want to write this right now. I’m typing because I have to.
The weight around my neck is both lifted and gets heavier when I say this. There is no solace in losing. You don’t get more hope by realizing that where you are is where you are. Stop, children, what’s that sound, everyone look what’s going down… hmmm.
The push for poetry and the push for latency are the same. In one you wait for inspiration. In the other, you long for acknowledgement. There’s a period of delusion that you must go through. Prepare to get laughed at.
Without the will to look at icicles, you will never find beauty in a pile of paper clips.
Without a break in the day, you will never find a moment of stillness. You could run, run, run all day and never realize it.
When there’s a hug and a kiss, let it seep into your soul. When there isn’t, you’ll be wishing like hell you had.
Communion wafers taste like bleached white cardboard. The wine they serve at Catholic mass smells like uncle Frank’s breath.
The gum smashed on the bottom of your shoe has to come from somewhere. What do people do? Get tired of chewing and just spit out their gum? Do they spit it directly onto the sidewalk or into their hands first and then throw it? This is a question I would like answered before I die.
Will we die from nuclear war? Could we really blow up the whole planet? Is that how planets in the far parts of the solar system wind up not being planets anymore? It takes a while, but sooner or later the inhabitants of any planet figure out that they can blow themselves up and eventually do. You become really small the moment you start thinking about your place in the solar system. It goes way beyond an inferiority complex.
On the way to the store, a little girl stopped a woman pushing a stroller.
Do you know the way to San Jose? the little girl asked.
The woman scrunched her left eyebrow, rocked her baby, and said. –
I’ve got lots of friends in San Jose. Do you know the way to San Jose?
No, I do not. That’s why I asked you.
In middle of snow a couple feet deep, you wonder about icicles. When did they get there? A couple days ago, there were no icicles. Now, they’re everywhere. At certain points in the day, when the sun comes out or the lights of the night turn on, the icicles turn purple and sparkly. I don’t care who you are, you have to stop and look at them. It’s a Midwestern miracle. You can’t get away from it.
It’s been snowing for a few days. There really is more than a foot of snow on the ground. I know this because Gary Bell and I went JEDgolfing at Wicker Park yesterday. With every step, you sink up to your knee. Each step is a worksite. By the time you’re finished, you’re as tired as you have been in a long time.
We ran into a couple preparing to cross country ski. They live near Wicker Park and hope like hell all winter for snow. Another couple came up and started cross country skiing also. It looked infinitely easier to glide across the snow than it was to walk the length of Wicker Park without snowshoes. I mention snowshoes because Bell suggested that maybe next time when the snow’s this deep that we walk around on snowshoes.
Now I know what the three or four of you are thinking – JED, you look ridiculous enough coming up number 8 at Wicker as it’s getting dark and it’s one degree out. But if you were to add snowshoes to the equation, you might meet some people from social services at the end of your round. There they’ll be freezing their asses off at the picnic table in front of the clubhouse.
Use your senses, JED. Do not by snowshoes.
Too late. I’ve already done the research and by this time tomorrow Amazon will be carting snowshoes to my door. Roger that.
It’s 3:30 in the morning on a Sunday. Yesterday, Alexis and I slid our way on the ice to Bridges Scoreboard Lounge in Griffith, Indiana. Scott and Jeff Bridges run an honest-to-goodness hometown tavern and every once in a while when Purdue’s playing we go there to be around other Purdue fans.
It was quite the matchup. As the three or four of you know, Purdue was number 3 in the country and Michigan State number 4. The game went down to the final shot. A guy named Bridges – imagine that - hit a long 3-pointer with three seconds left to beat Purdue by three, 68-65. It was a very disappointing loss.
Couple that with the game on Wednesday that Alexis and I went to see in which Ohio State beat Purdue right at the end. It’s been a lot of disappointing basketball lately.
You want another one? Last night, we broadcasted on JOB in video an on radio the girls regional final from LaPorte, Indiana. Our own Lake Central was in the final and, guess what, they got beat right at the end just like Purdue did twice this week. I watched the Lake Central game on my phone lying in bed. That’s the new radio, by the way. Instead of pushing the snooze button on your nightstand radio to listen to regionals, you whip out your phone and watch it. Ryan Walsh and Dan Repay did a real great job announcing the game. You could hear defeat in their voices. I share it with them.
I came across an article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that I want to share with the three or four of you. It’s written by a guy named Carl Scrhamm. The headline says this –
“All the hype is about young innovators, but what if older entrepreneurs do it better?”
Schramm says that investors restrict their searches to youth for innovation.
“A super-bright college student…. drops out to pursue the big idea. Venture-capital funders chase after him. Sensational growth soon follows… and the youth-driven innovation economy notches another success.
“But what if we’ve got this story wrong? What if we’re looking for entrepreneurs at the wrong point in their careers?”
If you’re one of the three or four who follows My Radio Life in this blog, then you know that this article comes to me at an opportune time. Last week, Shamari Walker the 17-year-old software wunderkind and I found out that we didn’t win in the Burton D. Morgan Competition for new ideas. We worked on this competition with our HeyJED app for four months. We lost.
We drove down to West Lafayette for the fourth time last week and went in front of a panel of four West Lafayette people. They sat in the front row. And, I gotta tell you, from the moment we walked in, I knew we were doomed. I could see it in their faces.
“Where’s the young college student inventing things in his dorm room? You’re not him. And what’s with the high school student?”
That’s what I felt from these people. Never mind that the guy running the powerpoint didn’t advance our slides. And never mind that we have to improve our presentation. I could have been Steve Jobs coming in with the idea for the personal computer. If I was older Steve Jobs, they would have probably looked the other way.
Why do I say this?
As the three or four of you know, I have a burning desire to re-engineer radio into something that is meaningful to our local communities. Not that radio isn’t meaningful now. It’s just that it’s so darn good and pure and beautiful that I feel as if we gotta do something to unlock its full potential. It’s like the icicles hanging around the Calumet Region. It’s too much beauty.
I figure that if we give people a better way to interact with radio, they’ll do it. The HeyJED app is just a start. Shamari and I are still messing with its functionalities and design, but in the end we may be on to something. And then again we may be fooling ourselves.
Either way, when we walked into that room in West Lafayette, I knew right away that we were doomed. I am too old and Shamari is too young. We did not fit the mold. Game over.
And then I wake up on Saturday morning to read this article by Schramm.
“…. our focus on youth is a mistake. ... … midcareer entrepreneurs were nearly five times more likely to have a going concern five years later than those starting a business right out of college.”
Now that’s powerful data. Five times more likely? Yet when Shamari and I walked in that room at the Burton D. Morgan Center, I knew we were doomed. I could see it in their faces. They might have been able to accept a high school student, but not an aging construction worker. So why the bias from venture capital types against older entrepreneurs? According to a guy named Neal Patterson, who founded Cerner Corporation later in life –
“One reason is that they think only young people can start companies.”
So there. I got it off my chest. I’m disappointed that Shamari and I didn’t move to the next level, but I also realize my mistakes. One of them is following the playbook too closely.
In the Burton D. Morgan competition, instructors stress following this strict outline and chronology to come up with your final presentation and idea. Shamari and I went to all of the symposiums and followed the outline.
And then we came up with a lifeless presentation that could put your feet to sleep. Yes, you must validate your proposal. But where is the inspiration?
What we presented to the four West Lafayette people did nothing to inspire. If the reason that you enter the Burton D. Morgan competition is to learn, then it was a huge success. I learned:
There, I got that off my chest. It’s 4:00 am. I’m thinking of going back to bed for a while and then getting up to grade the presentations in my sports broadcasting class. There’s a couple of older students. I sure as hell hope I don’t hold that against them. Good night.