Dave's Column

Dave Richards for April 24th..............

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for April 24th…………….

 

--School is back in session and special events are popping up like dandelions.  Soon, even the dandelions will be popping up like dandelions.  In fact, except for a quick stop on Mother’s Day next month, it’s full speed ahead now until the unofficial start of summertime (Memorial Day weekend) and then summer school vacations. 

 

--One of the many events this week is scheduled for the St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center on Cumberland Street this Sunday afternoon.  The Rhode Island Wind Ensemble will perform a spring program in the grand hall with the acoustics performers yearn for and audiences come to hear.  

  For those not familiar with this type of music, don’t misunderstand, you’ll hear tunes both beautiful and familiar.  If you’re expecting stuffy classical music, you’ll be surprised to see no violins, no chelos, no big string basses.  You’ll find all the woodwind instruments, clarinets, flutes, saxophones, and more of them.  You’ll see the brass instruments, trumpets, trombones, baritone horns and tubas.  In fact, the only instrument with strings there will be the piano.

 The point I’m making here is this concert is for the average person who just likes nice and familiar music played in a relaxing atmosphere by talented people who truly love to play for you. 

  Let’s show these folks that Woonsocket appreciates good music by turning out in large numbers.  Tickets are available at The Honey Shop, Excel Salon, Pepin Lumber, Vose Tru-Value Hardware or on line at the St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center website. 

 

--It appears all the screaming about the FCC’s repeal of “Net Neutrality” hasn’t caught on.  I’m sure it’s because the average person has no idea how it will affect them.  They’ll start screaming again when their streaming TV service starts skipping and stuttering.  They’ll scream when their Internet provider tells them they need to pay extra money to watch streaming TV because they use “too much Internet” for the plan they have.  I predict it will be the start of one of the biggest scams of this decade and will be a boon to over the air broadcasts station.  The group we now call “Millennials”, so proud they live on the Internet and reject all previous forms of media will suddenly become activists when their Hulu and Netflix is no longer cheap. 

 

--Here’s another thing the Internet Generation will hate.  Congress is re-authorizing the Federal Aviation Agency, or F.A.A.. These folks regulate the airlines and aviation industry in general.  You’d think that is fairly routine and rather boring until you hear the whining and screaming from the companies who run computers that help you to buy airline tickets and hotel rooms, and general travel stuff.  

  The way I’m hearing it, the airlines would rather you buy tickets directly from them instead of shopping for the lowest price with computer companies like Captain Obvious and KAYAK and such.  So they’ve convinced the people at the FAA to change the rules governing large ticket selling operations in such a way that those computer companies can’t do it without additional information.  Information the airlines will not be required to provide.  

  I’m sure there’ll be plenty of whining and screaming about that.  But, if you’re smart, pick up the old 20th Century telephone, call your favorite local Travel Agency, and have them book your flights.  You’ll still save money, and you won’t have to worry about Net Neutrality getting in the way of your shopping, either.     

 

--I must end this week on a sad note.  A friend of mine passed away last Friday morning.  Her name was Jackie Boudreau.  It’s hard to write about Jackie’s passing without expressing a feeling of frustration.  Before I tell you why I’m frustrated, I need to say that I am not in the medical profession and what I’m about to write is purely my opinion, I don’t claim anyone did anything wrong. 

 Here is why I am frustrated.  From what I’ve been told about Jackie’s final illnesses, it seems clear to me that she didn’t have to die.  I am sure that if Jackie had been able to get certain tests done earlier her true illness would have been discovered much earlier.  Discovering cancer early is the best defense.  But the cancer fooled the doctors, masquerading as an infection and the tests which would have discovered the cancer could not be justified to the insurance company. 

 If this were 20 years ago, the insurance companies wouldn’t have been able to discourage the tests for financial reasons.  But……and this is the big “but”……..20 years ago medical science may not have been able to find the cancer and cure it.

 That’s the terrible frustration about all of this.  The medical science breakthroughs which can save people’s lives today that couldn’t have been saved before are denied because they are too expensive.  What good are advanced medical procedures if they are denied to those who need them?  It’s just so darned frustrating.  Medical professionals I speak to share my frustration.  They are forced to deal with these realities every day.  Some realities in this world are just an awful shame.      

  Jackie Boudreau was one of the kindest and most caring people I knew.  I will hold my memories of her close to my heart as long as I live.  I just wish she hadn’t suffered so at the end.

 

 --That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. 

 Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dave Richards for April 17th........

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for April 17th…………….

 

 

--State Senator Roger Picard visited our morning radio show yesterday.  His visit prompted me to think about a number of things I’d like to comment on here. 

  First, I’ll set up the situation.  We asked Roger about the new “truck” tolls on the highways, the budget process, “scooping” (when the legislature raids the private accounts of departments for money) and new legislation he has sponsored at the request of Attorney General Kilmartin.  It’s always fun to talk to Roger because he’s a man who keeps his passions within due bounds and agrees with you that things could be better in the state house.

  When asked why things are so messed up in the legislature, Roger explained, as he has before, that there’s a simple solution for every problem everywhere EXCEPT in the legislature.  Someone can have all the common sense in the world and it is of no use there.  In fact, there is no way to survive in the General Assembly except by politics and compromise.  But somehow Roger manages to survive, keep his temper, and plod along in slow but determined steps.  

  I don’t think I would survive there.   I think I would have become frustrated years ago and stepped down.  But Roger told me yesterday he will run for re-election this November.  He’s a better man than I.

  I teased him about the supposed “truck tolling”, telling him it was just a ruse.  I told him it is now conventional knowledge that once the first toll is taken, the truckers will take the state to court and the state will lose.  They will end up under court order to either abolish the tolls or to collect tolls from every vehicle, not just trucks.  Since they have already budgeted the toll money, abolishing the tolls will not happen.  I said it with some cynicism, but Roger didn’t join me in that attitude.  He told me that if what I said comes to pass, it would be the start of big changes in Providence.  He didn’t say what changes, but I got the impression that what he wasn’t saying was that all heck would break loose.

  Roger explained that the “scooping” phenomena, while it seems so wrong to so many people, is not as evil and money-grabbing as it appears.  He said that many state departments and agencies have ‘squirreled-away’ huge sums of money in special accounts.  These special account monies are not used for the department’s mission, but for others things like new cars for staff, etc.  Then they come to the legislature for more money, crying poverty and that they don’t have enough of it to complete their mission.  These are the accounts the legislature is “scooping” to balance their budget.  

  Well, when you put it THAT way, it doesn’t seem so evil, does it?  It actually sounds more like somebody’s trying to save the taxpayers some money rather than drunken sailors robbing people for more booze, doesn’t it?   

  “The budget process is all about priorities”, Senator Picard said.  Explaining “that’s where the real work happens.”  Everyone has their hand out.  Some are sincere and honest and will use their appropriations wisely to do the most good for the most people.  Some are playing the game.   Those are the people who will either ask for more than they need or less than they need knowing they can do better with an adjustment later in the year.  You have to figure out which ones are not honest and by how much.  It’s not easy.

  Regarding the legislation Roger introduced on behalf of the Attorney General, it addresses a problem where health insurance companies treat children differently than adults and will legislate a fairness that will save a lot of money for certain Rhode Island families.  Although I personally dislike when the state government compels insurance companies to cover certain medicines or procedures because it raises the cost of health insurance for everyone, I can see the validity of this request by the A.G. because it will serve to protect families.  Anyone who has raised or is raising a family knows how precarious finances can be during those years.  One sickness or injury of a child can send the entire family into a desperate state.  It makes sense to me.

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading.  

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Dave Richards for April 10th

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for April 10th…………….

 

--I want to open this week with a big hat tip to Woonsocket’s Parks and Recreation Director, Liz Kerrigan.  

  As I wrote last week, this past Sunday was the day of the Children’s Egg Hunt in Woonsocket.  This event depends almost entirely upon donations and volunteers.  Well, something went wrong with some of the volunteers Sunday, and we were missing a number of them.  Liz accepted the reality of the situation with grace and poise and somehow made it all work out.  Hundreds of kids and their parents or guardians still had a wonderful time.  What a professional! 

 

--This coming Saturday is the first day of trout fishing season in Rhode Island.  On this day each year the Woonsocket Elks organize the annual Children’s Fishing Derby at the pond at Cass Park.  Over the past week the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has transplanted hundreds of young trout from the hatcheries to Cass Pond.  These little critters are swimming around out there just waiting for the youngsters on Saturday morning.  

  It’s a great day of fun family memories every year.  In fact, I show up each year and snap pictures all around the pond and then post them on the radio station’s website in such a way that the moms and dads can download a full size copy of their pictures to have for free.

 The stories these youngsters have to tell each year.  The excitement of getting their first ‘bite’ and the triumph when they land their first fish.  And, of course, all those who fish have a story about the “one that got away”. 

  Some years it is wet, cold, and uncomfortable.  This year the forecast is for moderate weather.  In my experience, even on those years when it has snowed on the morning of the Fishing Derby there have been many families waiting to drop their lines at the official starting time of 6am.  But when the weather has been mild, like this year is expected to be, anglers will be lining up well before 5am, for sure.  That’s just a little friendly advice for those who haven’t been there before.  

  You need to register and get an angler’s number to fish during the Derby.  You can register the morning of the Derby at Cass Pond with the Elks, or you can pre-register at Pete’s Bait and Tackle Shop, 341 Burnside Avenue, Woonsocket. 

 The Fishing Derby is dedicated each year to the memory of the late Ernest Carignan, who lead the Elks in the Fishing Derby effort for many years before his passing, and is open to all Woonsocket children aged 12 and under.  A parent or guardian must be present and responsible for each angler.  Prizes will be awarded throughout the Derby, and trophies will be awarded for the biggest single fish and heaviest string of fish for both boys and girls, with the awards ceremonies broadcast on local radio. 

  You may wonder why I have spent so much time writing about a children’s fishing derby in an opinion column.  The reason is the point I wanted to make about memories.  I recently celebrated a birthday and this occasion is often one in which a man takes stock and examines how he has spent the gift of time thus far.  I noted that I have spent much of my lifetime looking forward, so busy running toward tomorrow that I often forgot to savor the day I was presently living.  I can’t do anything about how I have spent my life so far, but I can resolve to slow down a bit now.  And just like the man who learns to chew their food more slowly and carefully, I am enjoying the experience more.

  Please remember to slow down, folks.  Give this advice to the young people you know.  Take time to make good memories.  When we pass from this earth, memories are what we all become. 

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

  

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Dave Richards for April 3rd................

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for April 3rd…………….

 

--Three of my favorite Springtime events are either here or almost here.  First, the month I’ve been waiting for since November, April is finally here!  Next, the City of Woonsocket Children’s Egg Hunt is this coming Sunday!  All children of city residents are invited to Rivers Edge Complex off Davison Avenue at……well, better make it 12:30pm this Sunday.  Dozens of prizes and cratesful of candies and eggs will be available on the three soccer fields literally for the taking when the horn sounds PROMPTLY at 1pm (no matter where you are at the time). 

  Note the location.  Rivers Edge Complex is the park with the Bike Path, Putting Green, and Soccer Fields.  Parking is located INSIDE the Park.  You must pull into the long driveway and drive to the parking area.  You do not see it from the road.   It is NOT the Veteran’s Park. 

  You’ll notice I told you to get there at 12:30pm.  There’s a reason for that.  Years ago when we had the Egg Hunt at another location it was easier to get to the fields for hunting if you arrived almost at the last minute.  Not so at Rivers Edge park.  You’ll be walking a bit further, and that takes time, so please plan for it.  All the other kids are not going to wait for yours to get there.  When the horn blows, the fields are stripped bare in a very few minutes! 

  The third event is the Children’s Fishing Derby coming up on Saturday April 14th at Cass Park in Woonsocket.  I’ll have more on that next week.

 

--Time now for our weekly rant.  I sometimes use this time to take a light-hearted look at a problem.  This is not one of those times.  This subject is just too serious to joke about.  

  I am increasingly disturbed by the sheer number of police shootings we are seeing in the news.  These horrible events must stop.  The solution is simple.  The deaths are totally needless and are, from what I can see in the reports, caused by somebody not following the rules.  Often they could be avoided if the suspect simply complied with the orders of law enforcement officers immediately and without argument.  The shooting of the unarmed person who reached for his cell phone INSTEAD of complying with the orders of police was a perfect example of this.  

  Every citizen of this country should, and now that I think of it, every non-citizen should also learn one simple fact which some of us have been and all of us should have been taught as children.  “When a police officer gives you an order, you comply immediately and without argument.”

  There will be plenty of time and opportunity later to explain yourself or offer proofs of your innocence.  But.  And we cannot stress this point too strongly……..BUT if you fail to comply immediately with the order of a police officer YOU ARE ALREADY WRONG!   Even if you are innocent of any crime, you have now broken the law for having failed to comply immediately.  It is called “obstruction of a police officer in the conduct of their duty”.  

  Comply first.  If you didn’t do anything wrong, you will be given every chance to explain it later and all you will have lost is a little of your time, not your life.  And if you did do something wrong, you will avoid tacking additional charges onto whatever you have coming.  By the way, if you think you can get away from the cops…….c’mon…….in the 21st Century?  You have a better chance of being hit by lightning than not being caught eventually (with evasion and flight charges added)……hey, they caught Bin Laden, you know. 

  Yes, I realize you may not be thinking rationally when one or more police officers make you the focus of their professional attention, perhaps with guns drawn, so now is the time, as you read this, to resolve that if you ever find yourself in such a situation you will not turn it into a death sentence.   

  Right now, while you have your wits about you, think for a moment.  You’ve got to realize that police officers are people just like you and me who are trained to take control of a situation quickly and completely and to protect themselves and others, yes, with deadly force if needed. 

  If you think you’re nervous in such a situation, police officers are, too.  They are on edge and tense, as anyone would be, when they draw their weapons.  They don’t know if you are hopped up on drugs.  They don’t know what crazy thing you will do which might prevent them from keeping their promise to come home from work to their family safely.  They are trained to take control………..and if you are not within their control, they will put you under their control.  Don’t challenge it, this is not a game. 

  So once again it’s not that we need any new laws.  We have the laws we need.  But we do not yet have the compliance with existing laws we need to make everyone safe.  Let’s make sure everyone gets this message that you are always wrong if you fail to comply with the order of a police officer.  This isn’t TV, you know.  This is real life.     

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

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Dave Richards for March 27th..........

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for March 27th…………….

 

--It can be done!  Stage entertainers still can, even in the 21st Century, be successful without using bad language and abusive jokes. 

  I have often told stories of my Uncle Jim who was a performer on the live performance circuit they call Vaudeville.  He told stories about his years on the road.  Several of his stories centered around the difference between the finest theaters and the…..er……theaters you performed in which you didn’t put on your resume, shall we say.  Of course, the best places, the ones which paid the best and lead to the best jobs, required that you have a special talent.  If you weren’t special, you just didn’t get booked there.  But aside from that he told me the biggest difference was the language.  

  In those days there were bawdy ‘dance hall’ style places which sometimes included brief nudity and off-color jokes.  Not as far down the politeness ladder as burlesque, but certainly not a place you’d take your mother, either.  In actuality, most performers worked in such places.  They were just naughty enough to be fun for the masses, but not bad enough to be raided by the cops. 

  And then there were theaters like The Palace.  Every performer wanted to work there.  It was the 1920s version of network TV.  First-class.  But there were rules.  In fact, I read in a book by another vaudevillian, George Burns, there was a sign back stage at The Palace posted on the brick wall where all the performers would see it.  George said it read, “If you do not possess the talent to entertain our audiences without offending them, you do not possess the talent to take this stage.”  And they meant it, too.  One ‘slip’ and you got the hook and were handed your photos.  And being “handed your photos” in vaudeville was being fired, never again hired, and you could never say you worked there.

  I don’t know what the attraction is for foul language.  In my years I have worked with performers who claim their marketability decreased by a third and they lost money when they “cleaned up” their act for a while.  Pay-cable TV and more recently streaming media on the Internet are often said to be more popular because Over-The-Air broadcasters cannot allow offensive language in their programming.  I don’t get it. 

  Last week I had the surprise opportunity to go to a show in Providence.  We had given away tickets to a listener who found later they couldn’t go and turned them back to the station.  The Fabulous Denise and I decided to use them to see the famous comedian Jay Leno’s stage show. 

 I have always admired Jay somewhat.  He’s only about five years older than I am and we share some similar experiences, as he grew up in the Boston area and was working there when I was also working in Boston.

 I also admire Jay for having the strength of character to work on national TV for more than 15 years and still stand up to the terrible pressures a job like that will bring to challenge a person’s ethics, essentially unchanged.

 Unchanged, but improved.  Yes, Jay worked comedy clubs in Boston’s infamous ‘Combat Zone’ in the 70s, and he has, in places like that, told all those jokes you’d never tell your grandmother.  But hundreds of other people and I sat in that theater last week and listened to Jay Leno tell joke after really funny joke for 95 full minutes, non-stop, and it was all rated PG.  What an amazing talent it takes to do that!

 My admiration for him has soared since then.  Jay Leno has confirmed in real life what I have always believed.  When you are really and truly talented, you don’t need to use bad language to be successful.  

 Bad language is a crutch for lesser-talented performers.

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. 

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dave Richards for March 20th..........

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for March 20th…………….

 

 

 --Happy Spring!  In recognition of the optimism this season brings, we will reverse our usual order of business this week and begin with the rant………

 

 --We all know the Rhode Island General Assembly, short of money and even more short of common sense, has been for years indulging in a favorite guilty pleasure of punishing people who smoke tobacco with new laws and “sin taxes” rising higher and faster than a rocket at Cape Canaveral.  It’s gotten to the point now that one needs an additional part time job just to fund their smoking habit.  

  If you think I’m being unkind to the General Assembly, or unduly kind to smokers, read this and judge for yourself. 

  Hardly a year goes by that state legislators don’t increase the size and cost of state government.  It’s wrong, and they know it, but it is what they do.  To pay for this expansion, they identify expected sources of income.  More than once they’ve increased the tax on cigarettes to pay for something new they wanted to pay for because all the cessation assistance funds from the tobacco companies were diverted to pay for expansions to the government they instituted still more years before that. 

  They start this procedure by figuring out how many packs of cigarettes they expect will be sold in the state next year.  They do the math and raise the tax to produce the income they need for their new project.  They’ve done this so many times, now, that the tax is many multiples more than the actual price of the product.  The only thing I can think of which is more crazy than all of this is that now there is a proposal in the General Assembly to raise the legal age to buy and use tobacco products.  The intent of this bill is obviously to discourage smoking.  

  Well, even an idiot can understand that, rightly or wrongly, the reality is that if you raise the age and decrease the number of people who can legally buy tobacco products, the tax revenue you can expect from those sales will be lower.  The result will be none of the projections made heretofore will be accurate and projects previously funded by the tax will go under-funded.  This will contribute to a deficit which is already, to put it kindly, ominous. 

  I think it is a shame that taxes on tobacco products and profits from casino gambling are two of the major sources of revenue we use to run our state government.  I can’t do anything about it, but I think it’s a shame.  However, I can say with certainty that if you’re going to earmark proceeds from the taxes to fund projects in the budget and then you pass a law to reduce the expected funding……..well, that’s just crazy in my book.  And I think it’s a dangerous kind of crazy.

  

--The preceding paragraphs notwithstanding, we will end our deliberations this week with a compliment to that same somewhat dysfunctional body.  Time for a tip of the hat for at least attempting to rid the General Laws of our state of useless and outdated statutes.  I’ve said for many years that there are just too many laws and we should remove one old law for every one we want to add.  They’re not going quite that far this time, they want to remove only three, but I say it is a step in the right direction. 

  I felt sure there were a few laws on the books we would not miss if they were gone, but even I was surprised to hear that there was a law making it illegal to test the speed of a horse on Rhode Island highways.  I don’t know why that was ever such a problem that it required a law to prevent it, but I’m thinking that law is a good candidate for extinction. 

  Others up for official removal are the law making it a crime to be a ‘second’ in a duel, and the law making it a crime to enter a building with the intent to steal poultry. 

  When you look at the matter closely you’ll see that ‘gentlemanly duels’ were replaced generations ago by ‘drive-by shootings’.  Therefore, being a ‘second’ or an assistant to a participant in a duel went out of style a long time ago, I suppose.  We won’t miss that law, will we?

  I do expect that it will still be illegal to steal poultry in our state, it just won’t be a separate crime when you enter a building intending to steal poultry.  Even the chickens aren’t likely to miss that law.  Well done, I say! 

  Sure, you may say that these three laws represent the “low-hanging fruit” of antiquated legislation, but I think even this triflingly little bit of common sense displayed in a place where common sense is in such short supply should be applauded.  Maybe now that they’ve tried it once and it didn’t hurt much……..they might do it again?  I hope so.

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

  

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Dave Richards for March 6th..........

­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for March 6th…………….

--For many years we have listened to doctors, clergy, or other officials lecture us about how almost anything we might wish to do that tastes good, feels good, or is otherwise desirable is “bad” for you and will lead to terrible consequences.  I’m like most of you, I listen to the warnings and I realize that sometimes these experts are right and sometimes they’re wrong.  

  I remember when my family was using real butter in our house.  Then came the experts telling us we’ll all die of heart attacks if we continue this horrible practice and we had better use Margarine, if we knew what was good for us.  Unfortunately, some years after that a new set of “experts” were telling us switching to Margarine was a big mistake and if we knew what was good for us we’d either switch back to butter or use nothing at all.

 I’m sure both of us could add a dozen more separate times the “experts” were wrong.  This kind of “crying ‘wolf’” scenario emboldens us all to disregard the warnings of “experts” more and more with each year.  But every now and again those “experts”, the “people-who-suppose-they-know” actually do get it right.  I was witness to this over the past week.

  A dear friend of mine, Bill Lally, who grew up in the Sheldonville section of Wrentham, died a miserable death last Saturday.  Bill succumbed to skin cancer.  The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and when you’ve lost the battle for your skin, you’ve lost your life.  Some of you may remember Bill.  We were young guys starting out in the radio business in the early 1970s together at what was then WWON radio.  Bill had far more on-air talent than I.  A well-articulated, deep voice, even in his late teens and early twenties, with a sharp and painfully dry wit.  Bill early in his career moved up to responsible positions in New York and then Los Angeles. 

  I said some of you may remember Bill for the brief years he worked in Woonsocket radio.  Whether you do or don’t, if you ever met Bill, you’ll remember his sun-tanned skin.  Bill nurtured that tan for many, many years.  I noticed it like everybody did, but it was none of my personal business, so I said nothing to him about it, except once to jokingly ask him if he were taking a “reverse Michael Jackson treatment”.  It wasn’t funny then, either, but Bill laughed.  He appreciated even a bad attempt at a joke.

 It seems clear today that getting too much exposure to the sun (or tanning lights) does nothing to you that you can detect while it is happening, except maybe a sunburn.  But 40 years later, when you’ve finished your career and are looking forward to a nice retirement is when it hits you. 

 If you are like me and got plenty of sun when we were kids because our parents honestly believed it was a healthy thing for kids to do, keep an eye on your skin.  Warts, moles, or birthmarks will usually give you early warning.  See a doctor.  Weeks and months could make a difference. 

  

--There is much discussion about President Trump’s announcement that he wants to protect jobs at home by placing substantial tariffs on steel and aluminum.  This is a matter of policy and a delicate balance of imports and exports and how they affect employment in any country.  I don’t think I understand these complexities well enough to comment on their merits.  But there was one remark the president made about these tariffs which did send up a red flag for me.  I didn’t catch it all, but the upshot and part of the quote was that he wasn’t concerned about starting a Trade War because “Trade Wars are easily won.” 

  Let me tell you why the thought behind these words concerns me.  The way I read the history books, in the years leading up to the second world war, a key causative factor behind Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, which thrust our nation into the world wide conflict, was steel, and a trade embargo.

 The United States, as I read, had agreed to sell massive quantities of scrap metal and steel to the Empire of Japan.  However, when Japan joined Italy and Germany to form the so-called “Axis” powers, the U.S. cancelled those contracts because they knew the scrap metal and steel was being used to build armaments and make us morally complicit with countries which were at war with our friends. 

 History describes the discussions between representatives of Japan and the U.S. as negotiations which were designed to camouflage preparations for Japan’s sneak attack.  Whether they were or not, the talks were supposed to actually be trying to get the U.S. to reverse our decision of cancelling the contracts to sell Japan the metals it sorely needed.  In hind-sight, it is clear that Japan was angered by our refusal to honor the contracts and they felt justified in attacking us. 

  If you look back in the history books you will see many military conflicts which had their start in trade disagreements.  Not all the time, but often enough to make me feel very uncomfortable when a world leader seems to think little real damage will come from a trade war.  I think any disagreement between sovereign nations has a potential to get out of hand and should not be taken lightly.

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dave Richards for February 20th...........

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for February 20h…………….

 

--I hate to sound like a “here we go again” on such a serious subject, but I suppose I must.  Professional agitators are now engaged in exploiting and manipulating those who are affected by and those who feel affected by last week’s school shooting in Florida.  I advise you not to take too many things you hear said on the subject seriously.  First, people with hurt in their hearts are capable of saying almost anything.  Second, the pros are fanning the flames and they are good at it.  Last time they manipulated regular people into the protest marches after President Trump was elected.  This time the National Rifle Association has been selected to play the part of the evil target of the group’s anger.  

  There’s nothing which can be done legally to eradicate these professional agitators, but we can deal with them effectively by ignoring them and not buying into their hatred.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hate when they try to portray hate as love and caring.  Do your best. 

 

--I feel we are now far enough along in this winter season that I can admit I was wrong.  Back last November I looked at the mild winters we had been experiencing in recent years and I said to myself, “We’re due for a real stinker.”  The subject was brought up by that venerable publication The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which predicted a hard winter.  I figured I didn’t have the ammunition to win an argument with them, so I agreed this winter could be a hard one.  We were both wrong.  And, considering there’s only 4 weeks left to astronomical winter, it’s time to admit I was fooled.  

  However, in my defense, you cannot really lose when you predict a hard winter.  If you’re right, you’re right.  If you’re wrong, everybody’s happy.  Lucky me! 

 

--I wonder if anyone agrees with me about Parking Bans.  I recognize the real importance of municipalities banning on-street parking during snow storms.  It’s absolutely vital the plows and other apparatus can navigate the streets to do their work.  However, what I don’t care for are municipalities which announce a parking ban to start at a certain time and “until further notice.”  To me, this creates confusion.  And confusion complicates compliance.  I think a time the ban starts and ends should be announced at the start of the storm and, if the wrong ending time was estimated, simply make another announcement with the new end time.  Of course, if the municipality actually gave public notice via the media when their parking ban ended, that would be fine, too.  Woonsocket does this.  I hope all communities will adopt the same policy.  

 

--Okay, I’ve had a few critiques today, but now it’s time for my rant.  This week it’s what I call “Club Pricing”.  It’s when a store, mostly chain stores, have one price for people who sign up so their purchases can be tracked, using a little card or tag for identification, and a much higher price for anyone else who isn’t “in the club”.  

  Yes, they are private businesses and they can do anything they can get away with.  I’m not claiming they’re doing anything illegal.  But I do question their ethics.  My position is simple.  If I run a store and I can, for example, buy white seedless grapes for 59 cents a pound, and I can make money by selling them at 89 cents a pound to my friends who let me electronically monitor their purchases……….where is the efficacy of selling the same grapes to people who don’t join my club but come into my store for $1.29 per pound.  I feel this is wrong.  I feel this is predatory marketing.  

  I have personally experienced at the checkout of these stores that you need to watch the prices on the machine carefully because every now and again they don’t give you the “club price”, even if you are a member.  Another thing to watch is when you are choosing your products in their aisles, you don’t always know if the price shown on the item is the “club price” or not.  

  I think transparency in the market place is good for everyone.  And it is in increasingly short supply.

   In my sincere opinion, our General Assembly should not be busying themselves with special interest legislation and should instead be passing broad-based laws which protect all consumers.  There is a wrong which is needing to be made right.  And, if you’re reading this, my dear legislators, I feel sure mandating honest pricing will be worth many votes this November, in case you need some motivation.  

  You’ve done it before.  I am proud to say you made it illegal in Rhode Island to mark a price on an item reflecting the discount of a manufacturer’s rebate.  Because of that law, retailers in this state must show the price the customer will pay at the register because that is honest pricing. 

   To sum up, if anyone tries to convince you that “club pricing” is offering a discount to the public, they are not being honest.  “Club pricing” is just another way to charge innocent shoppers whose only “crime” is not joining “the club” predatory prices.  We can do better in Rhode Island.  Get with it, General Assembly!

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

 Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for February 13th................

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for February 13th……………. 

 

--I’m glad to see the Woonsocket City Council realized the damage being caused by the two vacancies on the Woonsocket School Committee and took the high road, giving the Mayor the appointment of Steven Lima she wanted.  They were hoping she would join them on the high road and offer an appointment for Donald Burke, but that didn’t happen.  I’m still feeling a certain satisfaction bordering on pride that even in a highly charged political atmosphere, the City Council as a group refused to play a game of “Chicken” at the expense of others.  I applaud the council’s action last Thursday. 

 

--I’ve been in the broadcasting business for a lot of years.  And because advertising messages are such a big part of my business I’ve seen a lot of commercials over a lot of years, too.  Sometimes I’ve written commercials myself.  We do work very hard to accurately describe the product or service of the advertiser.  It is not our intent to “trick” anyone into making a purchase they wouldn’t be happy with.  

  Some think that the federal government has a department whose job it is to insure that advertising is always fair and honest.  Well, there is such a group, but they don’t go around checking out everybody’s ads, they usually wait until somebody complains before they step in.  For a very long time this has been good enough.  But I’m not so sure it is anymore. 

   Over the years commercials have tried to be clever, memorable, and informational while still suggesting a solution to a problem you may have or maybe a nice place to eat.  Sometimes this is done with memorable jingles or phrases like “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” or “Where’s the beef?! “ or “Good To The Last Drop.”  I’m sure most of you can even tell me what those ads were selling.  But today, an alarming number of ads are so poorly aimed or so intent on making the viewer “feel” something which has little to do with what the sponsor sells that they become ineffective.  In addition, many have resorted to out and out misleading the audience about the offer being made.

   The very expensive (to put it mildly) ads in each year’s Super Bowl broadcast have over the years been the place where the best and most creative ads are broadcast.  However, this year a panel of ad experts rated the ads seen during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast as the worst ever in terms of sponsor recognition and message retention.

   My concern is that as more and more bad commercials flood the airwaves, that fewer and fewer people will be scrutinizing the ads they see because they are either considered predatory, false, or just plain uninteresting. 

  Predatory?  False?  Well, here’s where I express an opinion because I don’t want to be sued by the companies involved.  You make up your own mind if the people trying to get you to invest in silver who show a graph on the screen where the price of silver at one time was higher than it is now are misleading you when they tell you that if you buy now and the price goes up to that high level again that you will make a lot of money.  This is, of course, true but completely misleading because nobody knows that the price will go up to that level or why it dropped, but they imply you will make a ton of money if you do as they say.    

 Then there’s the insurance company which tries to make themselves look friendly and caring by saying if you bought automobile insurance with them and had a wreck with your new car that the full replacement cost will be given to you with no depreciation.  They make it sound as if they are the only company which offers this feature and all their customers get it.  The truth is every insurance company I am familiar with offers such coverage but at additional cost and they have for many, many years.  No laws were broken in those ads, but in my opinion a false impression was clearly given to the viewer.   

 So where am I going with all this?  I’m trying to tell you to be careful and to be vigilant.  Scrutinize advertising messages.  If they don’t add up for you, either ask questions until they do, or disregard the messages.  Do not be a victim of less-than-forthright advertising.  If everyone did this, the number of advertising messages which employ these methods would be reduced, as the advertisers come to realize they’re not fooling anyone.

  

--A long time ago I used to write comedy.  Sometimes we actually wrote fake commercials meant to poke fun at that real ones.  The trouble is today’s ads sound so much like our fake ones from years ago.  See if this sounds familiar to you.

 “When you stand, do your feet touch the floor?  When you smile, do your teeth show?  Take our new pill, and be sure to advise your physician if you die.”  Be careful out there.

  

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. 

 Thanks for reading. 

 

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Dave Richards for February 6th.................

 ­­­­­­­­­Dave Richards for February 6th…………….

 

--Here are a few random thoughts.  Mardi Gras in Woonsocket was really great.  A super party and a lot of fun and it’s all the result of the work of the Northern Rhode Island Council on the Arts.  Of course, Woonsocket celebrates our Mardi Gras one week early each year.  Some people thought it was so we could get our choice of the best bands one week earlier, but I think it was so we can celebrate twice.  (wink) 

  Mardi Gras in New Orleans and most other places is this coming weekend, just ahead of Shrove Tuesday, the 13th.  I thought it was a rather bum deal that Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year.  I suppose there will be a run on ‘heart-shaped fish’ at the markets. 

 

--Before the week is out the Winter Olympics will begin in South Korea.  I’ll tell you the Olympics have been taking it on the chin over the last few years.  Some people in my business who are often called to operate the TV and radio equipment used in covering the games for the world-wide audience are skipping it again this year because of the threats of North Korea and last year because of the Zika Virus issues in South America.  

  I’m not at all looking forward to the Winter Olympics, myself.  I do enjoy watching the curling and ice hockey, but the network buries those sports at 3am is seems.  Primetime TV viewing is reserved for the ladies.  Figure skating will take front and center, I am told, and the folks at the Hallmark Channel are preparing for a huge loss of viewership.  Hopefully they made enough money with the kittens and puppies on Super Bowl Sunday to tide them over until after the Olympics.

  

--Speaking of Super Bowl Sunday, I heard some sports fans discussing the Patriots loss to the Eagles in that game.  Like true sports fans, they lost sight of the big picture, preferring to analyze the minutia.  I don’t suffer from such myopia.  I consider that NFL football is a spectator’s sport for most everyone.  All they owe us is a good show and I thought the Pats put on one heck of a show all season long.  They played ‘over their heads’ in most games and found a way to dig deep and come back to win games to the point that by the end of the season they had home-field advantage for the entire length of the playoffs.  Considering the way they looked at that start of the season, they made a remarkable recovery.  

  So, in the Big Game, the breaks just weren’t going in the Patriots’ favor.  They were playing a team which had been watching the Pats for years and were taking and executing plays right out of the Patriots’ Play-book.  Emulation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

  Okay, I do understand that the one goal for every NFL player each season is to end the season wearing a Super Bowl ring.  I get it.  But they did.  Yes, they lost the Big Game, but you need to remember there are 32 teams in the NFL.  There are about 53 guys on each team, all told.  That means that 30 whole teams, almost 1,600 NFL players, some of them very good players, didn’t get a ring at all this year.     

  It seems to me that if you start off stumbling, and then you end your season with a Super Bowl ring, you should be proud of that accomplishment.  Yes, you want to win that big game, but I say being beaten by the only other 53 guys who got rings is still a compliment to your team.  Not what you’d want, but a clear accomplishment anyway.  

  New England Patriots fans should not feel badly.  They should be proud their team was beaten only by the best team.  They played well, never gave up until the clock ran out, and were beaten by a team which was better that day.  No shame in my book.  I say to the gang from Foxboro, “Thanks for a Great and very Entertaining Season!” 

 

--Before I go I need to say something about our state’s busses.  I’ve been a supporter of RIPTA for many years.  My heart goes out to them as they struggle to be relevant in the 21st century.  They now have a fleet of very ecologically-friendly busses, no more black puffs of smoke choking other drivers.  They even went out and added these new devices which announce in an almost human voice when the bus is turning, just in case a blind person should be nearby.  

  Well, from our “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” Department comes word that RI Representative Lauren Carson of Newport is leaping to the aid of her constituents who live along bus routes and consider these audible warning devices a nuisance.  She wants them turned off in residential neighborhoods.  Hmmmmmmm……Seems to me that blind people live in residential neighborhoods, too.  

 

--That’s what I think.  What do you think?  Comments to: dave@onworldwide.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.  

Thanks for reading. 

  

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