It's certainly a difficult time in the United States. You can't turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing about bailouts and foreclosures, bankruptcy, and unemployment. In times like these, you have to just feel lucky to be employed!

But right about the time you're reading this, we will have achieved two things: LDI will be over, and we'll have a new president. Now, I realize one is just a tad more globally important than the other, but for many folks in our industry, a trade show during a financially volatile period can be a good gauge of the current (and future) economic climate in our niche industry.

Unfortunately, I think we are all aware that we have not seen the worst of this economic downturn — sad but true. I'm at least encouraged by the fact we haven't heard about huge layoffs around the industry, but none of us truly knows what the next few months will bring.

What is somewhat encouraging is that the folks I know who have maintained relatively stable positions don't seem worried about their jobs at the moment. Perhaps the cream just rises to the top, and maybe we're all kidding ourselves, but even the freelancers I have spoken to are still booking gigs, still on the road, still doing what they do. I suppose more time will tell.

I'd love to hear feedback from the tens of thousands of you who read our magazine and our website, to hear what your experience has been like over the last month or so. And I don't need a detailed account of your retirement fund. We all know where those have gone for the time being.

Wow! I'm sort of a Debby Downer this month, eh? Okay then, let's focus on the positive right now. We have seen a boatload of new products launched just before and during LDI. In fact, we saw so much new gear that we have another product news section dedicated entirely to products launched at our trade show. Check it out here, as well as on our continuing post-LDI coverage at www.livedesignonline.com. We're also glad to hear from a few new contributors this month, including lighting designer Steven Battaglia, architect at H3 Geoff Lynch, and stage operations manager for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Thomas Curtis. Thanks for your contributions.

As for the rest of you, I look forward to your feedback.