As the three or four of you know, if you do the right thing and watch or listen to my morning show, I stood outside talking to you on Wednesday and Thursday when it was -20 degrees out and -45 wind chill. That was tough for me to do and you to watch. We’re all getting weary of the cold.
to run swiftly
comes in handy at times,
Like when you turn 50
in a motel.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the extreme cold. There’s something liberating about it. When I get the time, I JEDgolf during extreme cold. Yes, JEDgolf. That’s another of my cockamamie ideas. You take one club, usually a seven iron, and two golf balls (orange ones when there’s snow on the ground), and you run the golf course.
During the summer, it’s a relatively mundane exercise. You just look like a guy out there playing some form of running golf, which a lot of people on the West Coast do.
But in the middle of the winter, when it’s below zero and there’s snow on the ground, it’s a different story. When you drive down Indianapolis Boulevard over the big bridge between Hammond and Highland, you can look down and see me trotting up the seventh fairway of Wicker Memorial Golf Course. Since it’s covered in white, there’s not fairway to speak of. Just me, a seven iron, and an orange golf ball. The colder and windier, the better.
Shut your soul to
of the roaring voices.
Hear them, but don't listen.
They'll halt your dreams.
Since we were so freaking busy this week, I didn’t get a chance to JEDgolf, which is better anyhows. I’ve been carrying this cold around for weeks. A trot around a golf course in sub-zero weather wouldn’t help things.
The coldest town in America this week?
There’s disagreement. Embarrass, Minnesota, says they got down to -64 degrees Farenheit when their official thermometer cracked. They had to use a backup. The National Weather Service evidently doesn’t like backups.
The official thermometer in Tower, Minnesota, some 60 miles away in the northern part of the state, got to -60. They’re officially the coldest this year in America.
Yesterday, was an example of a typical snow radio day. I was driving to work on the Columbia Avenue bridge over the 80/94 expressway and saw that traffic was stopped in both directions below me. So I put my hazards on, got out and did a Facebook Live video about the three jackknifed semis at the Indianapolis Boulevard exit.
“I saw your video this morning. That’s not safe, Jim, stopping on a bridge like that.”
Guess who said that? Yes, the voice of reason who sleeps next to me every night. She was right. There’s usually plenty of room on the Columbia Avenue Bridge to pull over and do a Facebook Live video about traffic. I’ve done it before.
But these days there’s piles of snow on the side of every road, leaving one lane to travel on. To stop on the bridge, I had to block the one lane going north. A line of cars formed behind mine as I stood above the Borman and broadcasted.
Surprisingly, no one beeped or cussed. We’re different when it snows a bunch and it’s cold for so long. We’re nicer to each other, no matter how crabby we are inside our own skins.
A bolt of light
pierces my heart
for no real reason.
It glows, but it hurts me.
I can't say why.
Yesterday was a typical winter radio day.
1. I did the show from outside. It was below zero but not as cold. Like an amateur, I wore my three-season jacket and froze my ass off more than when it was -23 degrees out.
2. There was, as mentioned, the three jackknifed semis on the Borman. But that was only the beginning. All totaled, there were nine accidents on the Indiana side and none in Illinois. This has to do with the fact that they pay exorbitant taxes on the Illinois side and we don’t do that to ourselves in Indiana. Most of the time, you don’t notice the difference in the level of governmental services between the two states. But when it snows, you do. They have more plows, more salt and more drivers. Their roads are cleaner and safer.
When you're laying face down
in some tears and spittle
from deep inside.
3. I took a ton of phone calls about the accidents and texts with pictures of them. I also announced school closings, changes in the times of high school games, and gave the weather for the weekend. It was a busy morning.
4. In the midst of it all, Dawn McDowell came in as a scheduled guest. I juggled between coverage of the accidents and talk with Dawn about her unique situation. Her next-door neighbor reportedly stabbed her dog eight times, the last time leaving a knife dangling from its back. Dawn, who is black, is embroiled in a real hullabaloo with her neighbor, who is white. Dawn says he regularly calls her the “N” word and says the “KKK” will be coming. He reportedly goes to the camper he has parked in the backyard and shoots off his gun into the sky. Dawn is a single mother of three. The controversy started when she was five months pregnant. Her other children are a 14-year-old with cerebral palsy and a 17-year-old daughter. They witness the slurs also. I plan to get the other side – the one from the neighbor with the camper – if he’ll talk.
5. Five minutes to the end of the show, Alexis texted me. “Where are the keys to the car?” There was this moment of horror when I reached down and felt my pocket. Uh-oh. Waiting on the phone lines was the superintendent of Hammond schools, Dr. Watkins. I had to make a choice – rush through the call with Dr. Watkins, risking sounding rude. Or making my wife of 27 years wait longer. It wasn’t a difficult choice. I got off the air with Dr. Watkins in two minutes and hurried home with the keys.
6. After the show, I had an hour-and-a-half business breakfast down the street at The Wheel.
7. Then there was a bunch of work in my office.
8. At noon, some of the guys in the office held the first ever “Tony Panek three-point shooting contest” down the street at the Hammond Sportsplex. You’ll be able to watch the video soon. Ben Wood, the former Highland High basketball standout, won. I came in second. Five years ago, I would have won the whole thing. Oh well.
9. In the evening, my wife and our three kids and a few others got together for dinner at El Taco Real restaurant in north Hammond. It is rare that all five of us get together. Normally, when we do, it fills me with much pleasure. "It's our core, us five," Alexis would say. But I was so thoroughly exhausted from a radio week of ice and snow that I mostly spaced out during conversation. I thought heavily about getting into bed on the second floor and watching a movie with the wife, who's been gone at a conference for five days.
won't leave me be.
Blades of grass mix with us.
Moist moonlight beckons lust.
10. After dinner, I went back to the WJOB studios. We were running a tripleheader of girls basketball sectionals in video and on the radio. Sonny Santana was producing and Tony Panek was there editing video. It took a while to schedule, but it looks as if we have enough people to broadcast from five different sites today.
- wrestling Regionals at Hobart.
- girls swimming sectionals at Lake Central
- girls basketball sectionals at Bowman Academy
- girls basketball sectionals at Merrillville
- PNW basketball, men and women
To get all of this done, I had to reach for family. My brother Brian’s gonna try to help with a camera. My cousin Scott Francoeur is set to announce the PNW games. My uncle Danny Brown has agreed to take a camera at the Hobart wrestling regional. If not for family, we might not have been able to cover it all
Black crow flies by,
Morning newspaper on
a tablet made in Nam.
That movie with the wife? We watched ten minutes and fell fast asleep. I’ll attempt to visit at least five of the six sites mentioned above to check on if the guys need anything. It’s a beautiful thing, really, this transition from radio to streaming video. It’s a lot of good, hard work, by a lot of people, which is the most beautiful part of it all.