With last week’s appearance of “SECOND THOUGHTS” on “http://ridenbaugh.com” my byline and picture have been given resident status and will appear regularly in this spot.

Ignoring years of fine journalistic training and experience, Publisher-Editor Randy Stapilus has, at some possible jeopardy to his professional career, decided the assorted musings and mental gymnastics he’s witnessed from me over the years should continue. Regularly. More or less.

For me, the changed status is small. My weekly income has gone from nothing to nothing-plus, hardly a profitable career move but exciting nonetheless.

So, since we’re going to be seeing each other in this blog, maybe I should introduce myself and tell you what you can expect.

I was raised in Bend, Oregon, when Bend was a nice place to live. “Go Bend High Lava Bears!” My folks had a home on the banks of the Deschutes River across from downtown. Lawyer lived on one side of us and an Episcopal bishop on the other. I had no chance for a normal life.

Fleeing from the growing community of 9,500 in 1954 to seek my fortune, I spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force, discovered radio and television, gave up the stripes and spent the next 30 years wandering in the worldwide wilderness.

In some ways I’m like Forrest Gump and his 72 I.Q. Mine is a bit higher. Only difference, really. Because, like Mr. Gump, I found myself being dropped into moments in history and into the presence of a lot of famous people and situations that continue to amaze me to this day. I made many career and employment choices that could have been terminal; made many moves seeking the other side of the mountain that a more reasoned person would have rejected.

None of these adventures came from special wisdom on my part. They were, in most cases, incidental to an itinerant career in radio, TV and an occasional newspaper. I was crazy enough to go from a TV station in Boise, Idaho, directly to Washington, D.C. with $180 in my pocket. DC was … and is …the number one news market in the world with the toughest competition. In doing so, I ignored the very long odds against success. I was very, very lucky.

Most of my Bend classmates went to work for the phone company or the bank or the mills, spent
40 years with secure incomes and retired to buy the camper, the boat and fish the Paulina’s. Not me. I spent those years writing and rewriting my resume and never getting too settled.

But, after several years and some amazing encounters, I decided to leave once-in-a-lifetime employment and come home to the Northwest. I’ve never looked back; never regretted the choice. It gave me a chance to take on a whole new set of career opportunities that have been rewarding and allowed me a better understanding of both the world and myself.

Barb and I settled in Roseburg after our retirement travels partly because I was vaguely familiar with the area, having played high school football and basketball here in the ’50s.

As for the blog pieces, I’m a “generalist”.

There is no formal journalistic education for that. Nor is there any successful cure for it. It’s also something difficult to acquire until after the age of 60.

A “generalist” does not have to know how to fly the plane but he is expected to have strong views on how well the pilot does. A “generalist” doesn’t have to run for public office but has absolute license to critique and criticize those who do. A responsibility, really.

So, what can you expect here on an irregular basis? I really don’t know! Depends, I suppose, on what sets me off. I have an outsized sense of curiosity and a lifelong interest in what makes things work. Or not work. With these character traits and my Gump-like life of experiences, topics are likely to be all over the map. Literally.

Special thanks to my long time friend and new editor for helping to get the creative juices going again and for giving me a place to let them flow in what passes today for old newspaper “ink.” Feels great!

Come on back, ya’ hear?

One Response to “A misspent life or, how you and I got together”

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