Monday, May 28, 2012

Post 2008 - 2008 In Review!

Welcome to 2008, folks.

It's amazing how, as we get closer to the present, the details of individual years become less clear to me.  But we will give it a whirl anyway.

A nice fat overtime cheque I'd earned at the end of 2007 went, every cent of it, to pay for the installation of a new window at the cottage. Wonderful.

On the Blog front, I made my first foray into what I am best known for today: The interviews, most of which are with radio people.  My first interview was with Deb Smith, currently of C100, but back then, still with the CJCH morning show.  As I have stated over and over, I did a very poor job of it.  I used my BlackBerry to try to record the conversation, only to find that the built-in microphone picked up more of the ambient noise in the pub rather than what the lovely Deb was saying.  I jotted down a few things that she said, and tried like heck to make out what I'd recorded, and cobbled something together that was an abomination of what she actually told me.  100% my fault.  I take full responsibility, and I still plan to interview her again to make it right.

The early blog posts are embarrasing for me to read today.  I remember writing about not wanting to go to the gym, a lot.  Years later, I could do the same thing.  I wrote about being tired all the time.  It's not that I'm not tired today, but the whiny tone of those early posts makes me want to cringe. 

Around post 100, I began to find a voice, and have spent the last 1908 posts trying to refine it.  You can decide whether I've been successful.

I used my BlackBerry to take pictures of the radio folks back in the day.  The only usable picture I have of Jeff Cogswell is from the 2mega pixel BlackBerry camera.  The digital camera I had bought for myself in 2000 wasn't much good to me any more, as I pointed out in the 2007 post.  I needed a new digital camera!

I also needed a better voice recorder than the BB.  I bought a panasonic voice recorder, but the user interface was so abstruse that I couldn't figure out how to use it.  I took it back and got an RCA recorder.  It was much cheaper, and sounded so.  It didn't produce mp3 files or wma files or any other recognizable format of files.  It came with an app that took the proprietary audio files and converted them to ... wav files, I think.  The rca recorder turned out to be a piece of crap and I was delighted to get rid of it and get the one I still use, 3 years+ later.  It is the one I wish I had bought from the get-go: An Olympus. 

I wasn't sure what digital camera to get, but I knew what one not to get.  I didn't want a digital camera that used proprietary batteries.  Those batteries are expensive and only work with the charger that comes with the device.  Break the charger, you have to get a new one, which costs who knows how much.  When the battery croaks, you have to get a new one, costing more than you'd want to pay.

When I interviewed Dawn Sloane in '08, she took some pictures of us that are still up on the interview associated with her.  I liked her camera.  I was happy to learn that it ran on AA batteries, available everywhere.  Later on in '08, I wrote her to ask her about her camera.  She wrote me back, telling me how much she liked it.  I was even happier to learn that the model of camera she had bought was still available.

In late December, maybe even the 31st, I bought that model of camera.  There was not a single SD memory card in the store, but this model also ran on XD cards, an unusual format.  I bought a 1gb XD card and some AA batteries and took the camera home to play with.  In '09, I would buy a good camera bag and a better strap, and invest in rechargeable batteries. 

I still have the camera.  It still works perfectly.  I still love it. 

What else happened in 2008?  As I had done for the better part of a decade, I continued to take my parents to doctor's appointments here in the city.  Over the years, the procedure had been refined to the point where they would take the bus to Halifax.  I would hang around after work to pick them up at the depot. We'd go out for dinner somewhere.  We'd go to my place and we'd all turn in early.  The next day, we'd drive to the appointment.  If there was time, Mom would go to one of the used clothing places in town (Value Village was always her favourite), we'd get some lunch, and then I'd drive them to the bus depot for their return home.  This happened several more times in 2008, including the weekend of the Q104 25th anniversary party at the Cunard Centre.  Sigh.  I couldn't go to it because I was busy driving my mother around.  I hope it helps get me into Heaven.

Also in 2008, 920 CJCH went away.  The writing was on the wall.  I'd listened to the station since I was a teenager in the Annapolis Valley.  I listened to it through thick and thin, and there was a fair amount of thin over the years.  But the station was practically threadbare by the late '00's.  By the time of the application to flip to FM, where it would become The Bounce, the music was tired and uninspired and not even voice tracked.  They were live from 6am to 1pm, when Rick's Hotline signed off for the day.  As much as I loved the station, I didn't love what it had become.

The few staff who remained tried really hard to make things interesting.   They had much longer news hits than other radio stations.  Rick Howe's Hotline regularly interviewed the top news people of the day with little fanfare and even less advertising.  Brian Phillips was off the air due to health reasons, and Deb Smith and Chris Mills were doing their best.  But the music was their downfall.  That, plus the general neglect that station management accorded this heritage station.  It's just a damn shame.

When the end finally came, it was with a whimper and not a bang.  In the middle of "Sweet City Woman", the sound just stopped, and the station went dark, at 10 in the morning on May 30th.  It was a sad day for me, but not an unexpected one.  It felt like the death of a beloved uncle. 

The demise of the Hotline on May 29th made the news that evening.  It was front page news the next day.  And Peter Duffy wrote a very good piece in the Herald about the end of the show.  At one point, he referenced my proposal to Patricia from 2006, which I appreciated. 

I was angry about the demise of CJCH and not appreciative of the FM station that took its place.  I was hard on The Bounce, and I regret my words of the time.  The music is still not my cuppa, but I ought not to have stated the things about the station that I stated.  I have met a few people from The Bounce, and they're hard working, passionate folks.  JAX is a delightful person, and Patricia and I loved meeting her last year.  K8, of course, was at The Bounce, but moved to C100 last year. 

What else happened in 2008, anyway?

Patricia got sick.  People have asked me why we haven't got married.  We were going to in '08, but she got sick.  The nature of the illness is not important to you, but she was off work for some time.  Of course, she is much better now.

On December 5th, I bought a new car, a 2008 Grand Prix.  I wasn't planning to buy a car; it just turned out that way.  Dad and I went over to have my 2002 Malibu undercoated.  That place was across the street from a car dealership where a long-time car salesman worked.  We had known him for years and years, so long that Dad had done a lot of business with the guy's father.  To kill some time, we decided to go over and talk to Richard.

Dad was still able to get around decently back then.  We talked to Richard who said that he had some newer cars for sale and did we want to look at them.  Once again, to kill some time, we did.  They had the '08 Malibu, the so-called Car of the Year.  Given the problems I had with the '02 Malibu, I wasn't interested in buying another one. 

We walked up to the '08  Grand Prix.  It was a nice solid dark gray, and I liked how it looked.  "You two go for a spin, and when you're back, we can talk.",  Richard said. 

Dad and I went for that spin.  I liked the car even more.  When we got back to the dealership, Richard and I chatted and agreed to a selling price with a suitable trade-in on the eff-ing '02 Malibu, still across the street gettting undercoated.  I agreed to buy the Grand Prix.

I got Dad back home.  I cleaned out the Malibu and called my insurance agent to tell her I was buying a new car.  She insured me over the phone and was going to put the papers in the mail that day, to arrive the following week.  Remember, it was a Friday, and this was a spur-of-the-moment decision. 

I returned the Malibu to the dealership and signed more papers.  I got the vehicle and drove to the TD Bank to register the loan and arrived not long before the place was going to close. 

I called Patricia to tell her about the new purchase.  She told her co-workers and congratulated me on the new car.  Everybody knew about it.

It was a nice weekend, and I loved driving my new car.

Monday morning, December 8th, we are heading to work.  We are approaching the intersection of Robie Street and Jubilee Road.  We are just going through the intersection, almost to the other side, where Jubilee becomes Veteran's Memorial Lane, when a car that ignored the corresponding red light slams into us, spinning the car (and us), in a clockwise fashion.  We ended up facing the opposite direction.  Other cars behind us stopped to avoid hitting us. 

I pressed the On Star button in my car to summon emergency services and told them I'd just been in an accident.  They immediately called the ambulance.  Someone motioned for me to open the door.  In my confusion, I couldn't do so, because the car was still in gear it turned out.  I managed to get the driver's door open, undid my seat belt, and literally fell out of the car.  A woman comforted me while a man, perhaps her husband, got in the car and identified himself as a doctor to Patricia. 

The truck had hit us around the right passenger wheel well, just inches behind where Patricia was sitting.  The doctor spoke with On Star and with Patricia to see where she was hurting. 

The police came.   They separated me from Patricia (they were nice about it) and had me stay in the back of the police car.  I ventured back to my car only to be shooed away by the police.  After a few minutes, one of the police officers verified with me that my permit was in the glove department, and I confirmed that it was.  His partner came over a few minutes later and asked me why the vin  # and make and model on my insurance and permit did not match the actual vehicle I was driving.


I told the officer that I had just bought the car 3 days before.  The insurance papers were in the mail.  My agent would fax to them anything they wanted to prove I was insured.  The penalty for non-proof of insurance in Nova Scotia is very high.  The officer believed my story, probably thinking I was having a crappy enough day as it was. 

The ambulance came and spirited us away to the hospital, which was literally across the street.  The ambulance ride cost over $600, by the way.  

After a couple of hours, we were released.  My insurance company was very helpful and told us to go to a nearby rental place to pick up a temporary car.  After more waiting, we got a '08 piss pot, with 4 cylinders and no power.  I hated the car.

I was in a foul mood.  I had tweeted about the accident.  People at my work were upset for me.  People at Patricia's work, whom I had written about the accident, asked how Patricia was and whether this was the car I had bought on Friday.  They didn't ask how I was, just how she was and how my car was.  My sister saw the FB status updates and called on the cell as we were driving home in the piss pot.  Patricia took the call and explained that we were ok, just going home for a couple of days to rest and recover from the trauma of the accident. 

When I got home, I called my parents.  Mom was upset, and Dad was too.  He called the guy I'd bought the car from, who told me that I had every right to insist that the car be repaired by an auto body shop of my choice.  Out of pique, I chose a place in the Valley. 

The next day, we drove to the junk yard where they'd towed my car to pick up my personal belongings.  I took some pictures of the car with my BB camera and emailed them to the sales guy.  He, in turn, called Dad, who drove over to the dealership and showed them to Dad.  Dad was impressed that this was something that could be done, emailing pictures to someone. 

I drove the pisspot for nearly the rest of the month, until December 30th, when I was told that the work was done on my car, and they would therefore refuse to keep paying the rental on the pisspot beyond December 31st.  I booked off the day on vacation and drove down there and returned the pisspot to a rental place in New Minas.  From there, my sister drove Dad and me to the auto body shop.  I returned to the city in the middle of a snowstorm, arriving early in the evening, nerves frazzled, white-knuckled, frustrated, exhausted. 

A sucky December, huh? 
2008 was a transitional year for me.  It was the first full year in my job.  The blog began to find its own voice and become known for what it's best known for.  And I said goodbye to my favourite radio station.  Leads nicely into 2009, where family illnesses began to take a toll, more interviews were in the offing, and trespassers began to assert themselves.  I will tell you about that, tomorrow.


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