Category Archives: SBDC

Reeling in the Years

I know historians banter about the most significant years in a given period, as do others. I’d have to pick 1917 (Russian revolution), 1945 (end of WW II), 1968 (unrest in US, Mexico, Czechoslovakia), 1989 (fall of Berlin Wall), among others, for the 20th Century.

But did you ever rank the years in your life? 1977, when I lived in three cities in two states, was pretty awful, but 1978, when, not coincidentally, I moved to Schenectady, NY, was pretty good. I was up in the attic this week, sorting stuff, and I came across a 1998 calendar, 100 Years of American Comics from the International Cartoon Art.

My, that was a good year.

I went to the movies. A lot.
Jan 16-Jackie Brown
Jan 19-Good Will Hunting
Jan 25-Titanic
Jan 31-Fast, Cheap and Out of Control
Feb 1-Amistad
Feb 10-The Tango Lesson
Feb 14-Mrs Brown; L.A. Confidential
Feb 15-Afterglow; Ma vie en Rose
Feb 16-The Apostle
And that was just the first two months.

I took JEOPARDY! test #1 on April 29.

I went on a two-week vacation in May. I don’t know that I’ve been on a two-week vacation since. I went to the Motown museum and a Tigers game in Detroit; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on one train trip. I visited the Capitol and other landmarks and took JEOPARDY! test #2 in Washington, DC on a second train trip. I love the train.

Saw LOTS of music in the summer. Many are local band (Burners UK, Hair of the Dog), but I also saw Maddy Prior, Cyril Neville, the Glenn Miller group, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Rickie Lee Jones. Then on August 9, I went to SPAC for the Newport Folk Festival, featuring Lyle Lovett, Joan Baez, Nanci Griffith, Bela Fleck, Bruce Cockburn, Alison Krauss, Marc Cohn, Lucinda Williams, and others; a great day.

I had two conferences in September. At the ASBDC conference in Savannah, GA, my father drove down from Charlotte, NC and hung out with me and a couple of my friends the first two days. THE best time I ever had with my father. Then the SBDC conference was in Niagara Falls; I love the falls. And I walked to NF, Ontario.

The JEOPARDY! broadcast party was November 9. Later that month, my attempts to re-woo Carol, which began in earnest in August, proved successful, and we got married the following May.

Music, movies, travel, love. Even a modicum of fame. That was a great year.

May your 2010, and mine, be as fruitful.


JEOPARDY!, Part 11 (and last)

Continued from Saturday, July 30.

Some people from my church, with assistance from folks at work, were planning a JEOPARDY! watching party for Monday, November 9. I could have refused, but it seemed ungracious. For some reason, I am almost as nervous about this as I was as I was being on the show; totally irrational, I know.

Unfortunately, two of my co-workers were laid off on the Friday before, and they were understandably not that interested in the party. Luckily for me and three of my colleagues, our jobs were saved. (Two others had already found new jobs.)

Sunday morning, the day before the show aired, I called Amy Roeder in Merrimack, NH. She was very helpful in putting things into perspective. Her friends who had been at the taping gave her a hard time about giving Saigon rather than Hanoi as the Final response, but I thought it was impressive that all three of us got the right country. I told her she was a great opponent, and that if she weren’t so close in score to me, I wouldn’t have bet so much, and therefore wouldn’t have won so much.

We also talked about the consolation prizes. Tom had ended up in second place and won a trip to a resort in New Jersey. (No commentary needed.) Amy, in third, got a credit card with $2500 on it. She and I agreed that she got the better deal.

The day of the show, I went to work for a half day, then went over to the Channel 10 studios to watch the feed for the show that comes in about 1:30. I had arranged this beforehand, but no one seemed to know I was coming, though they eventually did let me in. I was SO glad to have seen the show before the party.

At the church, there were about 35 people. I was seated in the front, just to the left of the set. At the first commercial break, I made a point to “go to the bathroom”, and not make it back until after my gaffe in OT Women.

After it was revealed that I won, I could answer all of those questions people had wanted to ask, many of which I ‘ve addressed, but also questions I thought were odd, such as:
“Did you know the categories beforehand?” “No.”

By the time I got home, I had over a dozen messages. My sister Leslie in California must have sent a huge e-mail distribution telling people that I was going to be on (and apparently suggesting that I lost, from my non-committal response to how well I did.), for she forwarded congratulations from people I did not know.

The next day total strangers talked with me on the street about my JEOPARDY! win. And this went on for the next 35 days.

That second night I was on my mother called me at 7:30, letting me know that she was sorry that I lost. The shows aired at 7 pm in Charlotte. The show aired at 7:30 in Albany. I never saw the second show until several days later.

Even after that 36th day, when no one commented, I got lots of comments, especially at a January 1 wedding I DJed, a Midwinter’s party I attended.

Almost immediately after the show aired, I received letters, at least six, wanting me to buy their 45s and LPs; I must admit that I never wrote back. One guy, though, wanted me to identify some half-remembered songs from his childhood. I didn’t know most of them, but I did give him a lead to “the song with the lyrics “Open up your heart and let the sunshine in”.

Oh, I can’t forget the parting gifts I received, over a two-month period: a case (12 large cans) of sweet potatoes (they were quite good, actually), OTC vitamins and other products including Centrum, a rather lovely lap blanket, a US Search coupon to try to find anyone in the United States, Pop Secret popcorn, and TWO hair curlers (!), which I didn’t need and gave away. I also got a home version of…Wheel of Fortune, not JEOPARDY!

In January 1999, I got engaged to Carol. On St. Patrick’s Day, I received a check (FINALLY!) for $17,600.

A couple days after we got married on May 15, Carol and I flew to Barbados via New York City. I never realized how far south Barbados was. We spent money to park the car at the airport, spent money on the speeding (Are we gonna die?) cab ride from the airport in Barbados to the resort, and we spent $26 to get out of the country (some sort of fee.) Everything else we needed to do was paid for: the hotel, the food, the drinks, the ride back to the airport; all courtesy of my second place finish on JEOPARDY! For some reason, we even got bumped to first class on the return flight.

Since that time, JEOPARDY! has abandoned the prizes in favor of $2000 to the second place contestant and $1000 for third place, I believe because of the logistics involved with the prizes; I had to call a few times before our trip was booked..

For a time, I made a point to call Albany-area winners. I talked to one guy named Greg who had won $3400, and he was disappointed; he thought he’d do better. I said, “You won, and that counts!” But I stopped when I called another guy and I got the sense that he thought I was a stalker.

I was amazed that people continued to recognize me, no more so than in October 1999, 11 months after the show aired, and I was at a conference in Florida when some folks I had never met from the Department of Labor in DC recognized me.

My pal Dave, used to head the Albany YMCA before he got kicked upstairs to the administrative side, went to a comedy club in Boston in 1999 or 2000, and in the entryway was a picture of three people, one of whom was me. It turned out that the performer was Amy Roeder, my worthy opponent on the show.

Winning on JEOPARDY! is a peculiar phenomenon. It’s epitomized in this story:
I was at a party talking about my work as a librarian. I had recently done a question about alpacas and I noted that they are much nicer in temperament than llamas. However, a woman I knew said: “You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About!”
I believe she thought I was suffering from Male Answer Syndrome, where a guy will ALWAYS have an answer to every question, no matter how little he actually knows, often stating opinion as fact. Then wife Carol let it be known that I was on JEOPARDY! “Well, maybe you DO know what you’re talking about!” Answering a question as a librarian, someone with a Masters degree in Library Science didn’t cut it, but an appearance or two on a game show did.

There are people to this day who expect that I know stuff, even if I don’t, which is definitely a double-edged process. All in all, though, it’s good to be able to put on the resume: “JEOPARDY! champion.”

Hope you enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane. Now when people find out that I was a JEOPARDY! champion, as they did at a reunion last month, I can tell ’em, “Just go check out my blog!”

Star librarians

As I’ve said somewhere, I am a librarian. I’ve been working at the same job for over 12 years, the second longest tenured person in my organization (but #1 has me beat by about eight years.)

Last week, I went to a morning training session about the Economic Census. I thought it was interesting. Anyway, one of my former colleagues, Sheldon, with whom I worked for over five years, was there, as was one of our former interns, Fran, who was here for several months. Our current intern, Frank, also attended, but I knew HE’D be there.

Then I get to work and get an e-mail from my former colleague of nearly four years, Anne, asking me about a reference source. She only writes a couple times a year.

Also I get an e-mail from my library boss for my first two years here, Michele. She’s living in Bermuda, but she’ll be in upstate New York for a little while and wants to get together.

Obviously, I had hit on a former SBDC librarian constellation that day. It was quite wonderful to reconnect with people who I’ve had a fruitful shared experience.


Continued from Saturday, June 11.

It was five weeks from the time I was notified that I would appear on JEOPARDY! until the taping of the show.

One week later, our office received some devastating news: the contract that all but one of the librarians was working under for the last six years was going elsewhere, meaning the very real possibly that most of us were going to be out of a job! This was VERY disappointing because, by all accounts, we had been doing very good work; we were apparently underbid. So much for relaxing.

Meanwhile, I run into a woman who works in my building. She and her sister are about to appear on Wheel of Fortune. There’s a nice story about them in the August 17 Times Union. I talked with her a few times. (If memory serves me, they won, but they got lots of prizes instead of cash, and had to sell a car they got so that they could pay their taxes.)

One of the semi-cool things about the show being taped in Boston is that there are certain things JEOPARDY! will pay for that they would not otherwise. When the show is in Los Angeles, you pay to get there and back (which is why there are so many Southern California contestants), and you pay to stay there and eat there. (Tournament play, though, has different rules, I’ve been told.) In Boston, I had to get there and back on my own, but it’s easier and cheaper to get to from Albany, of course. However, JEOPARDY! was putting up the contestants for this special “thirteen colonies week” in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel for two nights, September 17 & 18 – sweet! And while dinner was on our own, the show did provide two breakfast vouchers for September 18 and 19. This is because the SHOW is “on the road.” This makes no real sense to me, but I am not complaining!

I went out with my friend Lori and bought a suit and a pair of shoes to wear on the show. (I seldom wear shoes unless they’re required, and at the time, it was Chuck Taylors of various colors that was the footwear of choice.)

I get a Federal Express package on September 4 with further instructions that include:
Wardrobe : Bring with you two changes of clothes for a total of three outfits.
Men : Dressy casual, suit, sport coat, sweater. Any of the above looks are fine. If possible, bring an additional sports coat or sweater (with tie) to see what looks best on camera…
Please no jeans or sneakers (men and women.)…no black/whiteprints, no busy prints.
All in CAPS. (Of course most of the sheet was in caps.) But this jumped out at me- one more way I WON’T make it on the show? Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland.

Around this same time, I developed what can only be described as the worst toothache in the world. I went to the dentist three times in a week and a half. He prescribed pain medications, but I still felt lousy. Worse, I felt logy and dopey and in no condition or mood to study. Whatever last-minute cramming I might have done – I used to be good at last minute cramming – went out the window.

I went to work that Monday and Tuesday before the taping, but on Tuesday, I asked to take off the next day, Wednesday, September 16, so that I could pack and rest, and perhaps even study. My boss, the Hoffinator, was usually pretty good about these requests, but on this particular day, she became slightly blanched. “OK”, she said, “but you have to come in at 3 p.m.” 3 p.m.? Then I figured it out.
I came in at the appointed hour, and there was a “surprise” send-off party for me, complete with cake with wording like: A: “The next Jeopardy champion.” Q: “Who is Roger Green?” Someone made me a sheet that said “ROGER GREEN, JEOPARDY! wants YOU!”, with Alex Trebek’s visage on it.

The next day, my friend Judy Doyle and her son Max picked me up. I knew Judy from college in New Paltz (c. 1977), and she briefly worked at the SBDC with me some 20 years later. She was then living in Corning with her son Max. She drove from Corning to Albany, some 210 miles, and picked me up with my requisite three suits (including the new one), five ties, two shirts, and my new shoes. After a brief respite, we traversed another 175 miles to the Massachusetts state capital. (“State capitals:” a popular JEOPARDY! category.) Even before I got in the car, I pulled out my World Almanac, hoping to read something that might come up, assuming that it would stick to my brain. For some reason, I focused on the levels of the atmosphere: stratosphere, ionosphere, and so on.

We get to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, a very nice hotel. It was oddly shaped to fit the space that was available, I gather. (The alternative is that it was already oddly-shaped and they built the streets around it!)

There are several television trucks from different stations in front of the building. Since JEOPARDY! is only on one station in this market, something else important must be happening. What the heck is going on?

Continued on Saturday, June 25.

Handicapping the Already Challenged

High on the list of very enjoyable presentations at the conference in Lake Placid a couple weeks ago was “How to Work with Differently-Abled Clients”, given by the NYS SBDC’s Mike Soufleris, who I warned I might put in my blog. Mike’s a great guy, but he’s had trouble holding on to vehicles; they tend to get stolen from him. Don’t ever park next to him.

One of the exercises involved listening to a tape where certain sonic qualities were lost. People asked to have it turned up, but it didn’t help much. It was a great demonstration about how the hearing-impaired have to deal. Another activity involved putting a headset on one person so that she couldn’t hear at all, and for two others to try to figure out how to communicate with her. (Hint: getting up close and yelling doesn’t work.)

The discussion about the barriers that those who are physically impaired have to deal with was also intriguing. But when I participated in the discussion, it touched off a very raw nerve. I’m sure it was because it reminded me of the inconsiderate things I see in my neighborhood almost daily. They’ve been bugging me for a while.

There are a couple people who park their cars so that it blocks the sidewalk. I can get around if I’m on foot. But if I’m pushing a baby carriage or a cart for transporting groceries, I have to go back to the PREVIOUS driveway, ride in the street, and come back the NEXT driveway. It CAN be a busy street. And what of someone in a wheelchair or a walker? Or a blind person?

Another regular irritant involves the people who stop at the local bagel shop “for just a minute” and stop in the crosswalk, because “there’s nowhere to park.” I’ve seen this when there was a good spot two or three car lengths away. One time, I saw a blind man walk across the street; his cane hit the car, and he was totally disoriented. (I was too far away from him to help.) Fortunately, someone closer came to his aid. But it oughtn’t to have necessary.

Fantasy #1: I “key” them. The reality: I was raised too well – Mom and Dad’s fault, no doubt. Also, I don’t know if that would be commensurate with their rude act. Also, I believe that it’s illegal.
Fantasy #2. The reality: Oh wait, I may DO Fantasy #2 someday. It doesn’t cause damage, and I don’t THINK it’s illegal. It’s definitely commensurate with their behavior. Yeah, maybe I will…

Winter Games 2022

I’m in Lake Placid, NY right now, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Even if you were BORN in 1980, you may know at least one thing about that latter Olympics, the Miracle on Ice, called by Al Michaels on ABC, when the US hockey team beat the Soviet Union, in spite of the Soviet’s seemingly superior talent. Obviously, it had Cold War implications as well.

You would have thought the US had won the gold medal with that game, but that came a couple days later against…

It’s a lovely little town, with really fine food. It is really in the middle of nowhere. That is a desirable trait for a lot of things. It’s easy to get caught up in too much busy-ness. There’s a wonderful walk around Mirror Lake that I take every morning. (Carol and I were here a couple years ago.)

When I was last up here, there was considerable speculation around here about applying for ANOTHER Winter Olympics. Don’t think it’ll happen because it’s really is IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, and, far more importantly than in 1980, the Olympic games need enough hotels and venues, something that would be difficult to build and then sustain in this little town. Indeed, on this trip, there’s a lot less talk about it, at least with the people I’ve met, so perhaps they’ve drawn the same conclusion.

The upstate New York kid in me thinks it would be great to have a trifecta of Olympics in this beautiful spot. The boring, grown-up me thinks it’s nuts.

…oh, yeah, Finland..SCORE, 4-2.

And I’m here for the conference of the NYS Small Business Development Center. The SBDC has about two dozen centers across the state offering business advisement at no charge. We get together once a year for educational enhancement, and for the opportunity to actually put faces to people who may have been acquainted only by phone or e-mail. The centers are assisted by the administrative office, within which resides the Research Network, the library of which I am (by a few months) the longest tenured person in the group. There are other SBDCs around the country offering similar services, though not all of them have a librarian, let alone four.

There’s no such thing as an average question. We might be asked about alpacas or home-based jewelry retail or the record industry. We’re asked to find demographics or industry trends or state regulations.

Time for that walk.