Rictile unleashed

About a month ago, my old radio pal Ric “The Rictile” Cengeri was unceremoniously dumped from his Vermont Public Radio gig, after 12 years of faithful service.

Full story is here.

I worked with Ric for three years at 97X. We were roommates for much of that time, and morning show co-hosts for a year. So we spent a ton of time together. You won’t find a nicer guy, or one more passionate about creating great radio programs.

His energy was off the charts. His sense of humor was keen. His joie de vivre was contagious. His ability to remember listeners’ names was Rain Man-like. The way he mentored our college co-ops was admirable.

You could drop Rictile onto an uncharted desert isle (not Gilligan’s Island) and come back in three weeks to find a full blown party with hundreds of people. (He earned his Dirty Mayor nickname from his local pub, where he made so many fast friends that they called him “the Mayor.” He even has a cider named in his honor.)

After such a shock, Ric could’ve chosen to wallow in self-pity. But that’s not the Way of the Rictile. Instead, he’s doing what he’s always done. Going to concerts, to museums, to sporting events, to restaurants, to the symphony, to poetry readings, to the pub, to farmer’s markets, and volunteering in the community… The Man stole his livelihood, but he’s not going to mess up his life.

The Facebook post below from a former co-worker — and Ric’s reply — speak volumes about the kind of person he is.

Ric’s VPR job ended on a sour note, but the Dirty Mayor’s life is a thing of beauty. I can’t wait to hear about his next adventure.

California is fired

Last Thursday morning, my lovely bride and I boarded a plane bound for San Francisco. We were supposed to run in a 12-person Ragnar relay race covering 200+ miles from San Francisco to Napa. One of my co-workers organized the team, just as he had done in 2017. That year, raging wildfires caused the cancellation of the race about a week in advance.

Shortly after we arrived, it was, as Yogi Berra would say “Deja vu all over again.” We received notice that this year’s race also was cancelled due to raging wildfires in Sonoma.

It was a bummer, dude, but we managed to make some lemonade out of the lemons we were given. The entire team met at the starting line at Golden Gate Park on Friday morning, when the race was supposed to begin, and we ran to (and across) the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then we had lunch on the bay in Sausalito. Then Muir Woods. And sunset back at Golden Gate Park’s beach. And we still did the winery tours that we had scheduled for Sunday. So don’t cry for us.

Nice shirt…

But do cry for California, which has been devastated by wildfires over the past few years. It’s a beautiful piece of the globe, but idyllic has turned dystopian. Infernos are the new normal.

Source: CBS News 11/1/19 at 9 a.m.

And cry for the residents who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their businesses, their power… their way of life. (Check out this NPR article for more.)

Photo credit: Lesley McClurg/KQED from this NPR article

The Golden State has lost its luster. Climate change is real. Now it’s up to us to change.

The poor get poorer

Nick DiNardo is a fellow parent of Walnut Hills High School kids. Our sons played on the same junior high soccer team, and our daughter participated in the Ultimate Frisbee club that he leads/coaches.

(Photo: Jeff Dean/The Enquirer)

Nick’s day job is Managing Attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. He was featured in a Cincinnati Enquirer special section a couple of Sundays ago. The Enquirer is doing a four-part series on the lingering effects of the Great Recession, and it’s well worth the reading investment. You quickly realize how the economic collapse of a decade ago created an even greater divide between the haves and the have nots, and how the cards are stacked against the poor.

The article that featured Nick is about payday lenders. After reading it, the term usury comes to mind.

The article is a great example of how hard it is for the poor (including the working poor) to keep their heads above water. All it takes is a single, solitary, unexpected expense — an urgent care visit or car breakdown — to crush you.

Most payday loan customers are poor, earning about $30,000 a year. Most pay exorbitant fees and interest rates that have run as high as 590%. And most don’t read the fine print, which can be unforgiving.

Cincinnati Enquirer article

Read the article to find out how a working single mom wound up paying $3,878 for an $800 loan. And she’d still be on the hamster wheel if not for Nick’s intervention.

Payday lending may not be illegal, but it sure as heck is unethical.

DiNardo hopes the new Ohio law regulating the loans will mean fewer cases like hers in the future, but he’s not sure. While mortgage rates go for 3.5% and car loans hover around 5%, poor people without access to credit will still turn to payday lenders for help.


And when they do, even under the new law, they’ll pay interest rates and fees as high as 60%.


In DiNardo’s world, this is progress. 
 

Cincinnati Enquirer article

It’s not “just business”…. and it’s not anywhere close to being just.

The Marty Party ends today

Marty Brennaman, who has been the Cincinnati Reds play-by-play radio announcer for the past 46 seasons, will step away from the mic following this afternoon’s “titanic struggle” (that’s a Marty-ism) with the Milwaukee Brewers.

When I was 6, my family moved from New Jersey to Arkansas… sparing me the ignominy of being one of those obnoxious fans of the Yankees or Mets. With no geographic allegiance to a particular team, I was an MLB free agent fan.

In those pre-cable dark ages of the early 70s, all we had was the NBC Game of the Week (Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola) and the radio. I quickly latched onto the Cincinnati Reds, also known as The Big Red Machine. Rose, Bench, Morgan, Perez, Concepcion, Geronimo… they were my heroes.

The Reds flagship radio station was — and still is — 700 WLW-AM, a 50,000 clear channel station. The station’s signal covered dozens of states at night, including Arkansas. So I would tune in nearly every game. Marty joined in 1974 (replacing Al Michaels), teaming up with former teenage major league pitcher Joe Nuxhall.

Marty & Joe were the soundtrack to my baseball life. Marty’s signature victory cry of “… and this one belongs to the Reds!” has been the source of thousands of smiles over my lifetime.

Marty’s last call is today. They’re giving away transistor radios to kids who attend, which is certainly anachronistic in the streaming media/smartphone era, but it’s totally fitting for the generation that grew up with him.

Illustration: Clinton Reno (clintonreno.com) from this cool article from a fellow Reds fan

I can’t attend the game (don’t you hate it when work gets in the way of play?), but I’ll be sure to tune in for one last party with Marty.

Source: Cincinnati Reds

Nature’s air conditioners

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree

Joyce Kilmer

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation has a great program that offers free trees to city residents if they plant them in their front yards. Pretty up your plot and suck more carbon dioxide out of the air… win-win.

It’s called the Fall ReLeaf program, and you can request a tree (or trees) online. They have several varieties available, from small trees such as Serviceberry and Royal Raindrops Crabapple to towering ones like the Dawn Redwood and Northern Red Oak. And you don’t get some tiny twig of a tree that has a slim chance of surviving. The trees they dole out are typically a few years old and approximately five feet tall. As long as you plant them in the right place, they’ll thrive.

Trees Without Hats

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation used to offer the program in the Spring, but realized that Fall is better for transplanting. Five of the trees in my own front yard are from this program – a Yoshino Cherry, a Black Plum, a Frontier Elm, a Queen Maple and a Kousa Dogwood.

There are so many environmental and social benefits to trees.

Source: the great 30 second video embedded below

And they’re fun too… well, after the raking is over.

It’s a program I really dig. You will too!

Saved by the sun

Kudos to Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank for committing to renewable energy in a “yuuuge” way. As in 350,000 solar panels on 1,400 acres at a solar facility in North Carolina. (Read more here.)

(Photo: The Aulander Holloman Solar Facility. Credit: Fifth Third Bancorp)

This will allow Fifth Third to reach 100% renewable power, as part of RE100.

Companies in the commercial and industrial sector account for approximately two thirds of the world’s end-of-use of electricity. Switching this demand to renewables is transforming the global energy market and accelerating the transition to a clean economy.

I hope more companies get on board, and fast, as the glaciers melt and hurricanes, “100 year floods”, droughts and extreme temperatures increase across this globe we all share.

Solar isn’t just for corporations either. We have 23 panels on the roof of our house. Here’s how much juice we grabbed for free last month:

That’s roughly half of our electric usage. We installed the panels in September of 2017… we should reach full payback seven to ten years from now. We got an Ohio “green” loan with an interest rate of 1.35%. There’s a 30% tax credit on the cost of solar installation projects, too. (Hurry, it starts phasing out at the end of this year… thanks Agent Orange!)

few presidential administrations have been as antagonistic to clean energy as the Trump White House

Source: this Wired article – https://www.wired.com/story/a-tax-credit-fueled-the-solar-energy-boom-now-its-in-limbo/

There are a lot of empty spots across this country, where silver solar panels can co-exist with amber waves of grain under spacious skies. Let’s boost renewable energy projects, before we all get burned.

%d bloggers like this: