Sunday, January 31, 2010


Today while driving around I noticed a vehicle with one of those window decals that advertise a business. In this case, the decal touted some sort of "Eco-Friendly Green Consulting" firm. Thing is, the decal was affixed to the window of a GMC Yukon... one of the biggest fuel-guzzling behemoths on the market. (And no, it wasn't a hybrid... I checked.)
Yeah. I think I'll pass...

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was watching the WCMU-controlled WFUM signal last night to watch the State of the Union coverage.
Except it wasn't on.
They were airing a pledge program instead. Not only that, but the pledge program was being aired in "postage stamp" format. (For those of you with actual lives, this means the video was a small picture in the middle of the screen with a large black border around it.) From a technical standpoint, this is inexcusable. The digital conversion took place nearly a year ago and these formatting issues should have been dealt with long ago.
There have been some who have feared the WCMU acquisition of WFUM was motivated less by a sense of wanting to serve the Flint community than by a desire to "carpetbag" the larger Flint audience in order to get as much money out of it as possible. What I saw last night, combined with reports I've heard that the only additional staff WCMU is planning to hire will be underwriting salespeople for the Flint market does little to calm those fears.
If WCMU wanted to impress the Flint community, they should have aired the State of the Union address live and in full HD.
But airing a technically substandard pledge show instead? I'm unimpressed.


I made no secret of the fact that I didn't care much for President GW Bush. In fact, about the only thing he proposed that I liked was Project Constellation: the NASA program to return to the moon and possibly, one day, to Mars.
Now, however, there are reports that President Obama is ending Project Constellation.
That sucks.
I had so been looking forward to the return of humanity to the moon and beyond and I had been following every development in the Ares program that was to have been the next step in that process.
I'm sure it will happen eventually and I plan to follow it... but if I want to keep track of the transmissions between these new moonwalkers and the Earth, I will likely need to learn Chinese.
Whatever happened to the daring vision of Kennedy and LBJ? It seems nowadays whenever a Democrat gets into office they soon turn into "Republican-lite". We have billions with which to bail out Wall Street, but nothing for bold exploration of worlds beyond out own.
America is turning into a second-rate nation. Some people don't like to hear that, but "facts is facts".
I'm afraid Obama's decision is short-sighted and part of the "legumocracy" that is taking control of everything.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Unemployment is Hard Work!

Silly me! I began my new experience as an unemployed leech on society thinking I'd be sleeping in and lounging around all day. No such luck.
Today, in fact, I had to wake up even earlier than I had to when I was working. I took the kids to the dentist, dropped them off at school, went to the bank, stopped by the Secretary of State office, picked up some books for my daughter at the library and went to my (former) workplace to fill out some paperwork.
I came home, did my daily job search, called the doctor, walked the dog, did some dusting, helped my daughter study for a test and cooked dinner. Then, I had to go to the local supermarket to pick up a prescription and a couple gallons of milk.
I hope I find a job soon... so I can relax!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I try to be a good husband and help out around the house. I even do a good share of the dusting, employing one o'those Swiffer duster thingies.
So when I'm done dusting for the week, there are two possibilities. Either the Swiffer thingie is covered in an ugly coat of dust or it isn't.
One time, when it was especially dusty, my wife said "You must not have been dusting very well or the Swiffer wouldn't have so much dust on it."
A few weeks later, the Swiffer wasn't so dusty. My wife's comment? "Why is the Swiffer so clean? Aren't you dusting?"
So... if the Swiffer is dirty, it's because I screwed up and let things get too dirty. If the Swiffer is clean, however, it's because I screwed up and didn't dust well enough.
And people wonder why I no longer give a shit what they think about me. :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Paid Vacation

From now until Jan. 29, I'm getting paid to sit around at home. Not that I'm complaining. One beneficiary of this new arrangement is Lily, our sweet but brain-damaged Maltipoo. (Actually, she's not totally stupid... when it comes to devising ways to scrounge food from family members, she's a genius.)
Now, since I'm home during the day, I no longer have the guilt of putting her into her cage for a few hours between the time I leave for work and when the kids get home from school. Now, instead of her laying around in the cage all morning, she can now lay around outside the cage all morning!
I do make sure to take her for a morning walk, which is actually nice (and will become more so as the weather warms). I figure I should be nice to her. Evolution being what it is, her descendents could morph into towering intelligent carnivores called Megapoos which will usurp primates as the dominant lifeforms on the planet. Hopefully, if I'm nice to Lily, her descendants will be nice to my descendants and let them live. A long shot, I admit, but one can never be too careful.

In other news, I did some cooking today. Baked ravioli. Leanne seemed genuinely pleased to come home to the smell of a home-cooked meal. Somehow, I even managed to do a good job of it. Perhaps I'll survive unemployment after all...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Fond Farewell

This morning, I posted this message to "PBS Connect", a forum for public broadcasters. I am posting it here as well since it sums up my feelings on this strange, emotional day...



After 26 years working here, today is my final day at WFUM. As some of you may have read, this departure isn't exactly voluntary. The University of Michigan has decided to suspend operation of the station citing financial concerns.
I will spend much of today packing away the remaining items in my office. The final item I will pack will also be my most treasured: a copy of the book "Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control" autographed by it's author, Fred W. Friendly. This book was given to me several years ago by my good friend, boss, co-worker and mentor Jim Gaver upon his retirement. I know this book meant as much to him as it does now to me, which is why I was so moved and honored when he passed it along.
For those of you who are perhaps not familiar with the aforementioned book, it is a chronicle of the author's time in commercial broadcasting, his eventual disillusion with it and the statement of his vision for a non-commercial television service that would eventually become public television. Although the book was written in the 1960's, the arguments it makes for the value of public broadcasting are, I think, as valid now as they ever have been. If I were the Supreme Ruler of Public Broadcasting, I would make this book mandatory reading for all PTV employees. (That and "Rich Media, Poor Democracy" by Robert W. McChesney.)
I feel I have a lot in common with that copy of Mr. Friendly's book. Our outer covers are a bit worse for wear, but inside we're still as full of idealism as ever.

During my time in Public Television, I have had the good fortune to work with a great number of amazing, hard working and talented individuals. I have worked here for so long and I have met and worked with so many fantastic individuals I cannot possibly list them all. I would, however, like to mention a representative few. First of all, the aforementioned Jim Gaver, who inspired me with the idealism, knowledge and desire to work in this wonderful field. My Traffic pals Marge Mooney at WKAR, Chris Fleming at WDCQ, Donna Deeb at WGVU, Tania Schripsema at WCMU and Suze Kanack at Wyoming Public Television. I also would like to thank Carrie Corbin at WGVU for her honesty, support and information. I also have been proud and privileged to work with Kirk Lawrence, George Corba and Mark Brown, three engineers who share qualities seldom found together in a single person: top-rate technical competence and genuine human warmth. Finally, I would like to thank my assistant and hard-working "partner in crime", Quentin Dahl for his tireless efforts in fixing my more-frequent-than-I'd-like-to-admit mistakes and his willingness to put in an extra effort in all he does. Working with all of you has been a highlight not only of my professional but also my personal life.

And my final words to my friends and soon-to-be-former colleagues who still have the opportunity to serve your communities via public broadcasting: NEVER forget how important your work is! What you do is valuable and needed in your communities. Always bear that in mind! I know from personal experience that sometimes when you're in the second week of a caffeine-fueled slog of a pledge drive you wonder why you do this, but then you get - for example - an emotional phone call from a viewer recently diagnosed with cancer who received comfort and information from a documentary you just aired. Or you read an article on a successful local artist who was inspired to pick up her brushes by painting shows on public television. (Both true stories.) That's when you realize what public broadcasting is really all about. Public broadcasting isn't about ratings. It's about people. It's about ideas. It's about knowledge and art and enlightening discussions and quality entertainment. Just forget what some pundits and bean counters may say. The work you do is still vital and important. It not only should continue; it should expand. What public broadcasting has achieved in the past decades has been amazing, but it is nowhere near what its potential could be if its true value were recognized and funded accordingly.

So now I bid you all a fond farewell. I leave here for an uncertain future, trying to find a job in the middle of a recession in the metropolitan area Money Magazine ranked as the worst in the nation in which to find employment.
But if, somehow, that future should again include a position in public broadcasting, I promise that the first thing I do will be to unpack and place proudly on the highest shelf in my new office my copy of "Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control".

So ciao, all! I'm off to make lemonade!

-John Vamossy
WFUM, Flint MI

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mmmmm.... Poutine!

So here I am at my penultimate workday at WFUM. (I'm working tomorrow to oversee our station's backup schedule and then I'm outta here until my exit interview on Jan. 29).

So what am I thinking about? The impending change in my life? The fact that I will be without a job for the first time since I've been 12?

No. Those would be the reactions of a normal brain. My brain may be many things, but normal it is not.

No, I'm sitting here at my desk dreaming of a huge serving of delicious poutine. For those of you whose lives have been denied this bit of inexpensive culinary heaven, poutine is an awesome dish served in Canada. The recipe is simplicity itself. You take French Fries and Cheese Curds and pour gravy all over 'em. That's it. But mmmmmmm... I want some SO bad right now. Thing is, I've never seen poutine outside of Canada.

Well, one of the things I was hoping to try with my extra time was to do some cooking. I think this may be a challenge. I may have to attempt to create some poutine on this side of the border!

I don't know if "I've made poutine" would go over well on a resume, (it would if I ran the world!) but it now sounds like something I must try!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Welcome Wagon Redux

Earlier, I posted a link to my friend's blog. Well, here's an update. It turns out that previously-posted link will be more for practical advice and for information about her more entrepreneurial pursuits.
She has, however, started a second blog with more of her personal musings.
Feel free to check out:

I look forward to some cool postings there!

Friday, January 15, 2010

WFUM 1980-2010

Today at 11:01 am, WCMU took over the broadcast signal of WFUM.
I've enjoyed my 26 years working at good ol' TV 28. It was a good run and I will remember it fondly.
I hope WCMU realizes the value of the resource it now has and will use it wisely to serve the community.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Martin Luther King Day: The Hungarian Connection - Or: Of Gandhi and Goulash

Next Monday is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. It’s a day on which Americans of goodwill reflect on the life and goals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his quest for freedom and equality through the use of non-violent direct action.
As an American of Hungarian descent, I feel an extra bit of pride in knowing the Hungarian roots of this non-violent non-cooperation strategy for the furthering of civil rights.
These Hungarian origins of the non-violence movement have been largely forgotten to the point where today many people may doubt their veracity.

I will endeavor in the following paragraphs, therefore, to demonstrate how the Hungarian non-violence movement, lead by Hungarian nationalist Ferenc Deak against Austrian rule, inspired the early Irish independence movement, the Indian nationalist movement of Mohandas Gandhi and consequently the civil rights movement of Dr. King.

The best way to do this, I think, will be to work backwards, using the words of those involved to state the source of their inspiration.

A good starting place will be with Dr. King himself. That he was inspired by Gandhi’s practice of non-violence was readily acknowledged by Dr. King.

So the next step is to determine where Gandhi got HIS inspiration to use non-violent means to achieve his goals. Luckily for us, Gandhi was very clear in stating where the movement got its start. In an essay in the newspaper “Indian Opinion” entitled “Benefits of Passive Resistance”, published on September 7, 1907, Gandhi wrote about the movement for Irish independence and how Irish nationalists were using non-violent means to stand against British rule. In stating that the Indian people should use similar methods in their struggle, Gandhi wrote:

This movement had its roots in Austria-Hungary in the south of Europe. Austria and Hungary were two separate countries. But Hungary was under the rule of Austria and was always exploited by it. To discomfit Austria, a Hungarian named Deak taught the people that they should not pay taxes to Austria, should not serve any Austrian officers and even forget the very name of Austria. Though the Hungarians were very weak, this kind of spirit enabled them in the end to assert themselves against Austria. Now Hungary is not regarded as subject to Austria but claims parity with it.

So there you have it. Right from Gandhi’s pen. Ferenc Deak’s non-violence/non-cooperation movement against Austria influenced the Irish struggle, which then influenced Gandhi which, in turn, influenced Dr. King and the American civil rights movement.

Although this connection is largely forgotten today, those of us with Hungarian backgrounds can take pride in the role our ancestors played in shaping one of the most influential movements in world history.

Time to Get Out the (Virtual) Welcome Wagon!

One of the quaint traditions of bygone days was the "Welcome Wagon", in which people would get together to welcome a new neighborhood resident.
In the internet age, some traditions may need to be modified but needn't be abandoned. And with that in mind, I would like to welcome a new resident to the blogging "neighborhood". This blogger has been a friend of mine for many years and I look forward to many witty and weird observations on life & junk & stuff.
She's just getting started so there's not much posted yet, but I know that will change shortly.
I hope you will drop by her little corner of the internet and take a look around. If her written contributions are anything like her snarky spoken witticisms, it will be worth checking out for sure!
Her blog may be found at:


Thursday, January 7, 2010

January Haiku

Snow deafens; fog blinds.
Unperceived, yet beautiful...
Winter world at night.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Conservatives Give Me a Headache

Recently, during a rather - uh, shall we say - "spirited" discussion with a very conservative family member, the topic of outsourcing manufacturing jobs to China came up. I argued that the practice of businesses shipping their manufacturing and service positions overseas in search of cheaper labor, though it boosted short-term profits, was harmful in the long run since it results in the decline of a stable American middle class. This, eventually, will gut the very economic base on which these businesses depend. Or, to put it more simply, who’s going to buy a company’s products if there’s nobody left in America making a decent enough wage to afford them? True, people can run up their credit card debt for awhile, but eventually, that bubble will burst as well.

Henry Ford understood this when, in 1914, he started paying his workers a wage of $5 a day, more than twice the going wage at the time. What is largely forgotten was that Wall Street types and other business owners were apoplectic at Ford’s decision, criticizing it severely. What Ford realized, however, was that paying his workers decent wages would enable those same workers to afford the cars his company was producing. Apparently, the idea worked, since Ford sales skyrocketed after the increase in wages. This bit of history seems lost on today’s capitalists.

Which brings me to the thing that melted my brain. A few days after the discussion during which I heard one conservative defending sending jobs overseas in order to save on labor costs, I heard some other conservatives decrying the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” program. Their reason? Most of the “clunker” money went to (gasp!) foreign carmakers!

This prompted me to invoke the initials of the Wisconsin Tourist Federation while slapping my face with my palm.

The same political philosophy that lauded sending money overseas when it benefited corporations was suddenly against it when it could possibly help middle and working class auto purchasers?

Hmmm… so I guess if corporations do it, it’s brilliant. If Obama does it, it’s stupid.

Come to think of it, I think I’ve just summed up the conservative philosophy for the past year.

I need an Aspirin.