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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Lucky for Life

Uploaded: Jan 7, 2015

Many years ago I opened a fortune cookie with the message "You will be lucky for life." I always trust fortune cookies as the most reliable predictor of the future. The Lucky for Life message was already mostly true, since I had been very lucky in my life up to then and up to now.

There are two kinds of luck ? big luck and small luck. Small luck is winning a million dollars in the lottery. I admit I buy lottery tickets every week and mail back entries from Publisher's Cleaning House to win the $5000 a week for life, but I have not won anything from them yet. I'm lucky for life because I have "Big Luck."

Big luck means having a good life, a smooth life without anything terrible happening. I was born and raised in New Rochelle, NY in a nice suburban environment. My parents weren't perfect, but they did their best for me.

I moved to California in 1972 to attend graduate school. I was accepted into the MA in Cinema at UCLA and USC. Both schools had and still have a great reputation for film studies. I chose UCLA because I was more interested in film history at the time and UCLA had an excellent program in Film History & Criticism.

I received my MA in Theatre Arts (Film History) in 1974 and looked for a job in educational or independent films. I wrote film reviews for a magazine startup called, "Yesteryear," but it didn't pay and it didn't last. The closest to a movie job I could find was handing out tickets to Preview House, which recruited audiences to review pilots of new TV shows.

I couldn't find any other opportunities in writing, production, or archival work, so I crossed town to USC and started a Doctorate in cinema there. My first class was a seminar in film research and testing. I wasn't sure what this would be but it was about measuring the effectiveness of instructional films. That's how I wound up getting my Doctorate in Instructional Technology, which is about the use of film, TV, even computers (as primitive as they were back then) in education. Believe it or not, I consider this blog to be an application of instructional technology.

After I completed my Ph.D. I took a job as a technical writer for a small company in Canoga Park called Xyzyx. One day someone brought in a corporate newspaper from Hughes Aircraft. I thought it would be great to work for Hughes.

A year later Hughes spun off a branch from Radar Systems into the new Electro-Optical and Data Systems Group (EDSG). I answered an ad in the LA Times for a new IT Training Dept. in this new Group. I was hired and I worked in EDSG for about two years. Then I transferred to Space & Communications Group as Supervisor of a new Training Dept. in the Program Management Department.

I worked for Hughes from 1980 to 1992 when the Groups were broken up and sold off to different companies. Most of us over 40 were laid off. So I decided I wanted to get into radio. I took broadcasting classes at Santa Monica College and in 1994 I sold my house in Culver City and bought an AM/FM combo in Morro Bay.

I moved to beautiful Morro Bay and ran KBAI/KWWV for a year and a half. I was close to running out of money supporting the stations when my luck came through again. I found buyers for both stations and tried starting a gourmet food business. I made fruit sauces and fruit catsups with recipes from old cookbooks.

I took the money from selling the stations and had Running Deer Ranch in Paso Robles make sauces for me to take to a crafts fair in San Mateo. The San Francisco Chronicle had a booth at the show. I took a copy of the paper and there was an ad for Customer Service Consultants for Relevant Business Systems, a software company in San Ramon.

I wasn't sure where San Ramon was. I thought it might be up near the Oregon border. I looked at a map and saw it was near Walnut Creek; so I faxed my resume to the company when I got home.

The Vice President, Dave Thayer, phoned me half an hour after I faxed my resume. Relevant Business Systems turned out to be a very small company with a very big Enterprise Resource Planning system. I drove back up the next day to meet with Mr. Thayer. He needed a Technical Writer to write the documentation and help for 18 modules in their ERP system. That was in March of 1997.

I worked for Relevant until the end of 2002. The company was sold or merged into a bigger software company. Fortunately for me in I started teaching part time for University of Phoenix in 2002. So every time one thing ended something else popped up. I have been lucky for life.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Scott, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 8, 2015 at 11:05 am

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You have been prepared when each of these opportunities presented themselves and you were astute enough to recognize it.

With a Phd I am sure that you understand that your chances of winning the lottery are less than getting in an accident to go buy the tickets. I hope you don't go out of your way to get the tickets! Good luck with the PCH entries!!

I remember a Dilbert comic strip where Dogbert was selling day-old lottery tickets. He said that they were only 1 in 17,000,000 less likely to win than brand new tickets.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Hi Scott,

Thanks for your comment. I use the same lottery numbers every week, so I buy a 20 play ticket every two months. It's not that I believe I will win, but I would hate for my numbers to come up when I didn't have a ticket.

I did have an accident two years ago on January 24, 2013. A kid ran the light on Bollinger and Alcosta and T-boned my car. I was lucky that he hit my car just ahead of the driver's window post, and not directly into the driver's door where I was sitting. My 2009 Focus had side airbags which probably saved my brain. So now I am more alert driving through major intersections.


Posted by not just luck, a resident of Downtown,
on Jan 11, 2015 at 9:33 am

Scott has it right when he says "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You have been prepared when each of these opportunities presented themselves and you were astute enough to recognize it. "

Don't belittle yourself by thinking that luck is responsible for your successes. It is insulting to me when people tell me how "lucky" I am when the reality is that I have worked more than one job for decades to be able to afford the lifestyle that I now enjoy. Luck is responsible for my lack of random cancer, my being in the right place to void being hit while crossing the road, and many other things. Luck is absolutely NOT responsible for my retirement savings, my paid off homes and my ability to travel the world because I PLANNED for it and SAVED for it.

You worked hard to be able to take advantage of your education and opportunities. to attribute that to luck is to short change yourself and your efforts.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 11, 2015 at 2:58 pm

what a lucky dog!

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 11, 2015 at 9:36 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Not Luck,

How are you insulted by my luck? You say, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." My luck was having opportunities. Many people never do. You worked hard to make your own opportunities. I was lucky to have opportunities and worked hard to take advantage of them.


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