To the Point TV Show Topics for Jan. 6, 2009

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we last taped a To the Point TV show. I had been writing, co-producing and hosting this show for over three years when I decided to take a break last January. It was a lot of work for no pay. But it was always interesting and challenging.

Well, all good breaks must come to an end. We taped two back-to-back shows last night, and they will start airing in the Portland Metro area next week on channels 21 and 23 I think. They will be up on our website ToThePointTV.org in a week or two.

The panelists last night were:

State Representative Matt Wingard

Mike Riley, Riley Research

Richard Donin, Energy and Educational Consultant

and guest panelist Courtney Clarke, a local business owner.

International
The protests that began after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election in June have grown into what some say is the biggest challenge to the government since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Just this week the government banned all citizens from cooperating with foreign organizations such as the BBC, Voice of America, and various human rights groups, saying these groups were trying to destabilize the government.  Who will prevail, Ahmadinejad or the people of Iran, and what if anything can the world community do?

National
On December 25th a suspected al-Qaeda member, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, got on Northwest Airlines flight 253 in Amsterdam and attempted to detonate a bomb during the flight’s final descent into Detroit. British intelligence had been tracking Abdulmutallab for more than a year, and Abdulmutallab’s father had warned U.S. intelligence of his son’s radical behavior six weeks prior to the incident. The U.S. has already announced it will require additional screening for air passengers bound for the U.S. from any of 14 countries, including Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But will this work?

State
According to the Cascade Policy Institute (a free market think tank), Measures 66 and 67 could cost Oregon up to 70,000 jobs. Opponents of the measure say we shouldn’t be increasing taxes during a recession and the government hasn’t tightened its belt enough.  Proponents say the tax is only on the wealthiest Oregonians and corporations and that schools and health care services will have to be cut if the tax increases don’t pass. Let’s talk about the key points in these measures.

Local
He’s a former Portland Trailblazer, a financial adviser, and a sometimes basketball and lacrosse coach in Lake Oswego. He’s Chris Dudley and he’s running for Governor. Can he win the  Republican nomination with a lot of financial backing but no political experience?

International

The country of Yemen is being torn apart by a tribal rebellion, a secessionist movement, and the worst poverty and unemployment in the Arab world. And al-Qaeda has been quick to take advantage of the chaos, and create a presence in Yemen. How can the U.S. be most effective in fighting this terrorist organization?

National

Both the Senate and the House have put forth legislation to pass a behemoth healthcare bill. Some argue the bill violates constitutional rights. Others say it doesn’t go far enough. Assuming the bill passes, what will be the most significant impacts on the average U.S. citizen?

State

According to an investigative report published in The Oregonian newspaper, the administration of Governor Ted Kulongoski misrepresented the true cost of a tax credit created to subsidize renewable energy, in order to get it passed by the State Legislature. Is the Business Energy Tax Program still a good program even with the additional costs?

Local

Economists say the state has technically climbed out of recession. but tell that to the 11.1% of Oregonians who are still unemployed. Tom Potiowsky, Oregon government’s chief economist says it’s a jobless recovery and it’s going to be a long, slow road. What is it going to take for Oregon to dig itself out of the recession?

Kiss the Last Decade Goodbye

As I was sitting around the table at Starbucks this morning with my running buddies of 15 years, there was a common theme in the conversation. We were all more than happy to kiss the last decade goodbye.

When I look back at the last 10 years I realize that I have been through every major life crisis imaginable. I went through a divorce. I lost my mom. I had cancer not once but twice (I’m five years clear now, knock wood).  I had to short sale a house I owned in L.A. I had to take a business partner to court. I was underemployed, and then unemployed. I ended the decade with a very destructive relationship.

We all watched our 401k plans shrink by half.

But even with all of that adversity I still saw the glass as half full. Every time I wanted to have a pity party I thought about the people who were worse off than me. I had a roof over my head. I wasn’t sleeping in my car or under a bridge. I survived cancer.  In 2008 I won my court battle. And in 2009 I sold that house in L.A. and landed an awesome job. And in the Spring of this year I vowed to never again accept anything less than integrity, honesty and mutual respect in a relationship.

We all change over time, but I feel like I had a major life makeover. I truly believe that if you never know adversity and sorrow you can’t really appreciate joy.

May this decade bring us all an abundance of friends, family, love and joy. Happy new year everyone.

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Being Unemployed: Survival Skills 101

Originally published on MySpace on March 27, 2009

Being unemployed alters your world. I was constantly chasing the next
contract job when I was a consultant, and there were many times over
the past two years when I didn’t know where my next job was going to
come from. This was all fine and good when the economy was booming,
because I knew there would always be someone who needed a contract
writer. However, life changed when the economy crashed and the world
did a total reset.

All of a sudden I was fighting 125 other people for a single job, and
everyone was underbidding me because they were hungrier than I was. My
hourly rate was cut in half in a matter of months, and I started to
wonder how I was going to live on half of what I was making before.

Survival Skills 101

Reduce your Expenses

Eating Out
Stop eating out. Period. When I was looking for expenses to cut, eating
out was the first to go. I literally cut my Visa bill in half when I
stopped eating out.

Coffee
Brew your own! Just think about how many cups of coffee you can get
from a 1-pound bag of beans. If you must have a latte from a coffee
shop, cut it down to once a week as a treat.

Utilities
Get your utility company to average your gas and/or electric bills.
That way you know exactly what you have to pay every month. I got a
$358 gas bill after the winter storm we had in December, and that’s
when I decided to average my bill.

Avoid the Mall
If you’re a person who can’t walk out of Nordstrom or Macy’s without
being tempted to buy something, don’t go to the mall! I spent so much
less money by just staying away from the temptation.

Use the Library
Did you know that you can get DVDs and CDs at the library? If you are
cutting expenses, cut the rental fees and the late fees completely by
using the library.

Cut the Cable
When I was cutting expenses I cut my TV cable down to the basic
channels, which was about $10 a month. The unexpected bonus was we
didn’t get the Disney Channel anymore. The overacting and laugh tracks
on those kid shows is enough to drive a mom to drink. However, my kids
quickly discovered that they could watch most of their favorite TV
shows on the Internet whenever they wanted to anyway, so Hannah Montana
didn’t disappear completely. Sigh.

Find Free (or cheap) Fun
I am one of those people who is really good at being frugal. My
expenses are really low, and I can live on almost nothing. However, I
will not deprive myself of fun. Even when I was being really frugal I
would take my kids to the movies once a month (always to the cheaper
matinee of course). We always brought our own snacks, and asked for
cups for water at the concession stand.

Geocaching is free and fun for kids. We did it without the aid of a GPS
and still found caches. Good for an entire day of adventure.

Have Happy Hour at Home
Remember when you were in college, or even just living out on your own
for the first time, and you used to know where all of the best happy
hours were? You knew which bars had cheap drinks and free food, right?
Well, my girlfriends and I have organized happy hours in our homes.
Wine, cheese, crackers. Cheap, easy and fun. There are also plenty of
free wine tastings around town if you want to get out.

Needs Vs. Wants
Do you really need another pair of shoes, or do you just want them? Don’t buy anything that’s not an absolute necessity.

Clothes
I have three children. They grow out of clothes constantly. There is no
way I’m going to spend $40 on a pair of jeans for an 8-year old who
will grow out of them in three months. I have plenty of friends with
kids, and I asked them for hand-me-downs. I would get the clothes from
my friends and then just hang them up in my kids’ closets as if I had
bought them new. They never knew the difference, and they got some
really cool clothes!

Emotional Stability
You don’t realize how much of your emotional stability is tied to money
until you don’t have it anymore. There are many things that money can’t
buy, but it certainly buys you stability. I remember being consumed by
fear on a daily basis when I was between jobs. Fear, panic,
helplessness, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, are all emotions that
come to mind.

Which leads me to…

Emotional Reset
I would allow myself the freedom to have a complete emotional meltdown
(when my kids weren’t around) a few times a month. It was cathartic for
me to just cry and shout out loud whatever came to mind. Once I
released all of my fear and anxiety I knew I could find the strength to
pick myself up and keep rowing forward. It was my way of doing an
emotional reset.

Pity Party
If you’re going to wallow in self pity you might as well go all out and
throw yourself a party. Allow yourself to have the occasional pity
party, but put a time limit on it. Say, “Okay, I’m going to pity myself
for the next 30 minutes, and then I’m going to pick myself back up and
be done with that.” I even made myself a pity party cake once, because
it made me laugh, and humor really helps in these hard times.

Phone a Friend
I can’t tell you how many times I called friends just to ask for some
emotional support. Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me it was
going to be okay.

This economy is going to suck for a while. Just wrap your head around
that and accept it. Once you accept that you can be the river instead
of the rock.

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