Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I spent 30 years working as a broadcast journalist. That's a fancy term for a news reporter on radio and/or television. I started out as a disc jockey in my college days, then worked for a newspaper for about 6 months, then went back to radio in the same town: Minot, North Dakota. A couple of years later I found a job at a television station in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I did everything there - news, weather, sports, MC'ed the weekly Polka Party, and broadcast our live coverage of a bowling tournament. I had bowled a bit in my youth but I was extremely bad at identifying the splits in this tournament. I'd say "well, it looks like a 4-8 split for him," and a spectator sitting right next to me would murmur "no, that's a 7-10," and I'd make a correction on air. Mortifying.

When the Fischer quintuplets were born soon after I had taken over the one-man news department, I was awakened by a call from UPI in Chicago asking me for news about them. It was the first I had heard about the multiple births. Later, NBC called wanting film of the new kids and I had to confess that our television station didn't have a movie camera! Regardless of all that I managed to parlay the massive (for Aberdeen, South Dakota) news onslaught into a job back in my home state in Bismarck, North Dakota.

I spent six years there and became news director when the guy who had hired me found a new job in San Francisco. Nice advancement I thought: Bismarck, North Dakota to San Francisco, California. But my turn came later, when a disc jockey friend of mine from the radio part of the radio and television combine I was working for got a new job in Indianapolis, Indiana. A few months later he called me and said his new station was looking for a newsman and I should apply. I was concerned about the move to a 50,000 watt radio station in a market of a million or more from my job in a market of maybe 50,000 souls. Would I be good enough? What if I couldn't cut it? My friend assured me that if I didn't I could always go back to a station in North Dakota or Minnesota with the Indy experience on my resume. I thought about it for awhile but finally sent off a tape and resume and forgot about it. Several weeks later I received a call and a job offer. With some trepidation I said yes.

When I arrived, I quickly learned that I was the only person on the staff who could write a complete sentence. And quickly. So I stayed for three years, had a great time, met the lady who became SWMBO, and also made a friend I've hung onto for 45 years.

Later I moved to Phoenix and worked for a television station there for 13 years before taking a break of 16 years before winding up with several years at a tiny AM radio station in Prescott, Arizona.

Well. I've bored you all with that lengthy story in order to explain something about yesterday's blog post. I was checking Facebook in the morning and saw that it was the birthday of a former news director of mine, Jim Willi, and also the 70th birthday of Eric Clapton. Somehow, in my first-cup-of-coffee-of-the-day mental meanderings, I reasoned that BOTH men were turning 70. Oops! I later learned from the somewhat outraged Mr. Willi that he was only 67!

One of the first rules of news gathering is: get it fast and get it right. The old reporter had failed that rule. "They" say: once a reporter, always a reporter. What they don't say is: everyone makes a mistake occasionally. But needless to say, I was embarrassed.

I've been wondering for some time how to use this photo. I think this is the time and place.

"...This is Bruce Taylor, reporting from oblivion."

Monday, March 30, 2015


The sands in the hourglass keep drifting slowly downward. Actually it seems like the older I get the faster that darned stuff runs through. Today marks the 70th birthdays of a former news director of mine, Jim Willi,* and one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Eric Clapton.

Here's a victorious picture of Jim on a lake near Dallas, Texas where he now lives.

Jim had black hair when I worked for him.

That other guy celebrating 70 today has had a remarkable career. Here is a list of some of the bands he played with.

The Yardbirds
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
Blind Faith
Delaney and Bonnie and Friends
The Plastic Ono Band
Derek and the Dominos

He has played guitar with virtually everybody, from B.B. King to Bob Dylan to the Allman Brothers to John Lennon and George Harrison.

We wish him and Jim happy 70th birthdays with this performance by Clapton of one of his hit songs, Layla.

* Now I don't know where I got that but Jim Willi tells me that he's only 67. And he's continuing his "remarkable career" in broadcasting. Sorry, boss.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Some plants I found on a short hike recently.

I have no idea what this stuff is but it's pretty. I'll bet one or more of my commenters can identify it.

These leaves look very defensive.

Speaking of defensive. One of the first things one learns on moving to Arizona: keep a distance from the cacti.

These are called prickly pear in the Estados Unidos. Down south of the border the pads are harvested, de-thorned, cooked and eaten. They're known as Nopales there and, when pickled, are quite tasty.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


As you enter the development where we live you come to a stop sign where you can either go straight ahead or turn left or right. Straight and left are homes in StoneRidge. To the right is a gravel road which leads to some scattered homes outside the development.

The other day I was driving around, exploring, and decided to try that rough road to see what I could see. I was amazed to find it turn back into pavement a mile or so in and then to see what I saw.

The road turned out to be the Old Black Canyon Highway which before the Interstate Highway System came to Arizona was the way one drove to Phoenix. The land, as does StoneRidge further south and east, backs up to the Bradshaw Mountains.

But what really got me was the immense size of many of the houses in this "back of the beyond".

Notice that one second from the left even has its own planetarium.

This next one, sitting high atop a hill, was my favorite.

It's hard to believe that is a home. It looks more like a mountain chalet or a country club of some sort. It must have a massive fireplace, judging by the size of that chimney.

One can often be surprised by what one finds by just a little looking around.

Friday, March 27, 2015



Thank God It's Franklin.

Er, wait, that's not right.

Oh, never mind. Rev up your chuckle cortex.

Yup, Spring has definitely arrived. The temperature is forecast to hit 94 in Phoenix this weekend. And it's still March!

Still, there remain a few science deniers out there.

I'll just ignore the "flat earthers" and pet my cats. 


Have a great weekend, folks. Thanks to my contributors and always remember . . . (what was it????) . . . oh, yeah, keep laughing!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

ThrowBack Thursday

From 1996 to 2003 Judy and I owned and operated a new and used bookstore called BOOKENDS in Prescott Valley. This first picture was taken near the beginning.

The next picture was taken some time later. The stress is beginning to show.

It was fun but also incredibly frustrating. Bookselling sounds like an easy way to make a living. 

It isn't.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


After talking to one of my neighbors recently I learned about the existence of a series of trails in the development in which I live. I had scoped out a trailhead last week and yesterday I decided to go try the trail out from there. It covers a wide area and a large part of it is a broad sidewalk that parallels the golf course that is the center of StoneRidge.

It's very scenic. There are many people who use the trail daily, like the dogwalker in the above picture. As I watched, she actually ran a short distance, pushing a pram in which her little dog royally rode.

It's hard to make out in this heavily cropped version of the photo above it but take my word for it. I had never before seen these little carriages designed for small dogs but apparently they've become quite de rigueur as this is not the first one I've seen.

This nearby McMansion has an unparalleled view of the golf course but with all the scrubland surrounding it I think I'd be wary of snake invasions when the weather heats up.

But back to the trails. I found one asphalt trail that wound through some of the same scrub- and boulder-covered land and I took it only to find some rather steep elevations. I struggled a bit as my days of hiking rugged trails have disappeared along with my sense of balance. At the end (and beginning) of the trail loop I found the very best part of it.

A nice covered bench on which to sit, recover and watch the passing parade.