Saturday, August 8, 2009

"That's the way of that!" Sayings by Red Uleskey

In the month since my father-in-law's death, my sister-in-law, Patricia, has been going through one of the many journals kept by Red. While Red was a simple man, he was a deep thinker and often surprised us with his quips and wit.

So we are getting more of an appreciation of him by reading the daily notes he made in his journal. Not all are originals, but sayings that he decided were important enough to write in his book.

Patty hasn't gone very far through the books, but here are a sample of some of our favorites from his most recent writings. Some will require a paragraph or two of set-up so the reader will understand the context.

Some have a hint of poetry, some of great wisdom and some are just funny. Here's a partial early list. More to come.

In his last year, Red was mostly in his wheelchair. One day his three daughters were sitting around him talking with each other about household issues, shopping lists, etc. Suddenly after a long period of time of him listening to the conversation (and wanting to be wheeled into bed) Red, with a wry grin, said:

"Does anyone care about my problem?"

In discussing his future funeral plans Red was talking about the involvement in his plans of his nephew, Patrick, the funeral director.

"We want to see Patrick eye to eye"

In his last year there were many times that family, lots of them, converged on the small Uleskey household. A 900-square-foot tract home with one bathroom things could get crowded. At times groups would leave for shopping trips or to get away. One time Red said this and later wrote it in his book:

"I am glad they are all here but somewhere else."

During his last year, he had a "pic" line inserted into a vein for use in giving medicine and taking blood samples, or something like that. He offered this gem when told he was getting the line.

"We hope the pic line is not in 'vein'"

Sometimes Red took a break in a nice recliner chair in his Ham radio room, a spare bedroom on the first floor, which he called his "shack." One day his three daughters were searching for him and couldn't find him momentarily in the small home. The women were calling out to each other "Where's Dad?" A man's voice called out from the room:

"Where is your father? He's in the shack to be exact."

Red was undone about all the fuss that had to go on around him in his last year. You could tell he often tired of having people running around getting him things, helping him with his clothes, etc. This was what he wrote in his journal:

"There's only one of me and maybe that's one too many."

Another thing he got fed up with was the many pills and medicines he had to take. Thus this little note penned into the book:

"I am all pilled out."

Some of the items need little or no explanation.

"We're lost but we know where we are"

"There's no place like home"

"Mom's late for mammogram - I think we can squeeze it in"

"I can't afford to get frisky, I've got too much money in the bank"

"Only cry when it hurts"

"What's the difference between a yam and a sweet potato, who gives a yam!"

"Too late we get smart"

"Don't follow too close" a quote from a cemetery stone ("I'll live up to it")

"Iraq - frought for naught" (I believe the misspelling was deliberate - a combination of fraught and fought)

"I can fix anything that works"

"It's a women's prerogative to change her mind, that's why the asylums are 90% full of married men!!"

"That's the way of that"

"Love takes sincerity"

"Life is but a matter of time"

"Don't waste your time unless it improves your mind"

"Enjoy the moment, everyone"

"My body got so old it doesn't tell me anymore about aches and pains"

"No one is exempt from being polite"

Ken Doctor: 800,000 unwritten news stories this year

Paul Gillin over at Newspaper Death Watch has a 33-minute interview with Ken Doctor about the recent newspaper travails. The audio player is at the end of the story.

Much about the interview I have disagreements with, but there is also much that where he is right on. By his math, with the number of newsroom layoffs there have been 800,000 fewer news stories written in 2009 than in 2005 before the newspaper downturn began.

The fact that he cites Jeff Jarvis as some kind of guru, considering his work on the pathetic MLive.com site is troubling, but he has some decent thoughts about new online ventures.

About 13 minutes into the interview he admits that even with the downturn, 85 percent of a news organization's revenue still comes from the print product. This dirty little secret always gets a passing mention by the folks who tout the online product, but it is still significant that the cuts come in the print product to support the online product and the revenue support is exactly the opposite.

For all the support of online, Ken Doctor rightly points out that an online subscription model probably will not work either.

But he has some good points about how media must move forward. If you have a spare 33 minutes it might be worth your time, especially if you are a news junkie like me.

Chevy XVIII


Friday, August 7, 2009

Congress plans to spend $550 million for private jets

Are these Washington clowns serious? After making a huge issue over the auto execs flying into Washington, D.C. on corporate jets, comes this story in the Huffington Post.

So Congress wants to spend $550 million to upgrade their fleet of private jets so they can fly their pointless butts all over the country, on our dime while they tell us we need a health care system far less than what they currently enjoy.

The arrogance of Congress (Republicans and Democrats), in my humble opinion, is everything that is wrong with this country. Let these lawmakers fly sandwiched into coach class on a Northworst (Delta) flight and maybe, just maybe, they might get a taste of what it's like to live in the real world, the one they know nothing about.

We need to throw all the bums out. They defend legislation they haven't read and can't explain, and then criticize and demean the citizens who question them. This is Alice in Wonderland time.

And now another round of billions to help my neighbor buy a new car, also on my dime.

All this and they are surprised they are greeted by a tar and feathers mob at their meet and greet forums when they come home. What a bunch of toads.

I thought protest, organized or not, were a part of what we call the First Amendment. To paraphrase Harry Truman: "If you can't stand the heat, quit trying to burn down the house."

Here's the deal: People want you to explain to them clearly and honestly what it is you are proposing for health care. Until you have read the bills and can do that, don't vote on it.

Pendragon: Camelot - Booth version

A poster named Pendragon spent some time writing this version of "Camelot" for a comment. It was too good to keep buried.

CAMELOT (Booth Newspapers version)

Back then we never worked too late on Friday
At 37-and-a-half we stopped
The benefits and pay were sweet in my day
In Camelot.

All layoffs were forbidden till forever
They never had to fear a union shop
Our health-care would be paid for, ending never,
In Camelot

Camelot! Camelot!
I know it sounds a bit naïve,
But in Camelot, Camelot
We wanted to believe…

Our pay came three-and-fifty times a year here
The other shoe, it seemed, would never drop
There never seemed a cause for anxious fear here
In Camelot.

Camelot! Camelot!
We always thought we were immune
But in Camelot, Camelot
It ended all too soon.

The pension, we were told, would keep on growing
We’d fill our dippers from the brimming pot
In short, we felt, there’s not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
in Camelot.

(Reprise, sung by last surviving Content Director to wide-eyed young intern:)
Each evening, from December to December,
Before your bedtime Twitter post you jot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.
Ask ev’ry person if he’s heard the story,
And Tweet it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
Now say it out with pride and joy!

“Camelot! Camelot!”
Yes, Camelot, my boy!

Where once we never worked too late on Friday
At 37-and-a-half we stopped…
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.
06 August, 2009 18:00

Chevy XVII


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tigers Win!

A couple old (emphasize old) friends from my Journal days - Kim and Dave - came up with tickets to today's Detroit Tigers game. So I left work after an hour and played hookey all day at the game. Dinner in Greektown and then home. Tigers beat Baltimore 7-3 and Kim caught a fly foul ball off Carlos Guillen's bat in the second inning.

The bare handed catch, which was a ricochet off a nearby patron's stone hands, came just 30 seconds after Dave said we should have brought a mitt because we were sitting along third base in box seats.

Then Kim, holding the ball for maybe 3-4 minutes tapped the young man (10-12) sitting in the seat in front of him and handed him the ball. The kid lit up and I'll bet he never forgets the old geezer who gave up his first and only foul ball he ever caught at a baseball game. Kim is that kind of guy.

That will explain the lack of blogging today.

The game and weather were great and the company was perfect. Somedays should have a frame around them. This was one.

More Advance news over at Inside Out

If you are starved for Advance/Booth news head over to Inside Out today for links that will easily keep you busy for an hour or more.

Chevy XVI


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A New York Times mega correction

For my friends still laboring in the newspaper vineyard, here is a correction - out of the vaunted New York Times - that will make you feel like you should be working there and not the reporter who wrote the story. This was widely circulated so you may have already seen this.

The corrections were made July 22nd to a story written about Walter Cronkite's death. The mistakes are mind numbingly stupid.

Here's the text of the correction:

An appraisal on Saturday about Walter Cronkite’s career included a number of errors. In some copies, it misstated the date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and referred incorrectly to Mr. Cronkite’s coverage of D-Day. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, not April 30. Mr. Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane; he did not storm the beaches. In addition, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, not July 26. “The CBS Evening News” overtook “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” on NBC in the ratings during the 1967-68 television season, not after Chet Huntley retired in 1970. A communications satellite used to relay correspondents’ reports from around the world was Telstar, not Telestar. Howard K. Smith was not one of the CBS correspondents Mr. Cronkite would turn to for reports from the field after he became anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in 1962; he left CBS before Mr. Cronkite was the anchor. Because of an editing error, the appraisal also misstated the name of the news agency for which Mr. Cronkite was Moscow bureau chief after World War II. At that time it was United Press, not United Press International. (Go to Article)

Here's what the Ombudsman said.

(Hat tip to Newspaper Death Watch for the links)

Ann Arbor News alums check in about AnnArbor.com

A person who once worked for the Ann Arbor News checks in from California about AnnArbor.com.

The column captures what a lot of us have tried to express about the over-the-top expectations hyped by its management.

AnnArbor.com: Wringing hands over cheerleading

First time over at AnnArbor.com in a couple days. Lead story: Is Cheerleading too dangerous?

It's based on a U-M study.

Also the murdered swans? Turns out the investigation shows they were most likely hit by a car. No crime, unless the driver was intoxicated.

Editor and Publisher confirms end to lifetime job pledge

Thanks to Inside Out for posting this link to the Editor & Publisher article.

This is an interesting contradiction as I just heard that the Flint Journal recently hired a new reporter with a familial link to its former editor. So, at the same time they are lining up targets for layoffs, they hire back a FOB. (Friend of Booth)

Trust me, they need more reporters, but what message does it send to the many people you just sent out the door that you hire back someone who lives in Lansing for a job you just had to give up because you were no longer needed.

I'd love to know what the diversity of the various Booth staffs are right now?

Jack Lessenberry chimes in on AnnArbor.com

Jack Lessenberry has his own thoughts on the new AnnArbor.com website and print product at this Detroit Metro Times article.

Job for Life pledge: Either the pledge, or your life, just got shorter

This morning I've been inundated with a series of comments and off-line tips about the announcement of the end of the lifetime job pledge at Booth papers. That would be the papers who haven't already flushed the pledge through more draconian measures.

Word from Grand Rapids is that it was announced that the job pledge would end in February 2010 and reportedly the publisher of the Kalamazoo Gazette, in a surprise employee meeting, announced the same thing.

If those two papers have dumped the job pledge, you can bet it has ended for the Muskegon Chronicle and Jackson Cit-Pat as well.

This has to be a precursor of more layoffs and salary cuts.

Not really a big surprise. We were always "at will" employees anyway and there have been firings of a questionable nature. In one case the Flint Journal didn't defend a firing of a colleague on its merits, but on the basis that all employees were "at will" and could be let go at any time.

The "lifetime job pledge" was never worth more than the paper it was written on anyway. It was worth something in those years when you could believe "the word" of the people running the company. Today, not so much.

How to fix the deficit: The Onion


U.S. Government Stages Fake Coup To Wipe Out National Debt

Journalism prof gives sneak peek at the next semester

The professor in the next term is teaching the Seven Laws of Journalism.

He doesn't mention the 8th law of Booth journalism: To get hired without any competitive process be related to someone at or near the top of leadership.

Chevy XV


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Inside Out: More inside stuff

Inside Out has several new posts worth looking at, including the news that Newhouse has again appointed the son of a former leader to take over his late father's CEO position at the company.

Newhouse/Advance/Booth have become a glorified employment agency for the children of its leaders. Ever wonder why their fortunes have sunk?

Chevy XIV


Monday, August 3, 2009

More on the online universe and copyright

A debate is ongoing about the use of reprinting large parts of articles (versus simply linking to them) on Internet sites.

This article has plenty of links and information about the present controversy.

This response to the above from Atlantic Monthly.

David Simon: Newspapers must charge for online content

A frequent reader sent along a link to a column by famed cop reporter David Simon about the future of newspapers, journalism and the need to charge for online content.

A brief review AnnArbor.com

It's been a little over a week since AnnArbor.com made its entrance online. Late last week a friend dropped off copies of the first two print editions and I had a chance over the weekend to go through them.

The print product is graphically very attractive (except for the stupid Frenchman with a beret logo that is supposed to be an acorn). The layout is pleasing and the photos and graphics very nicely displayed. It is a much more attractive product than the Flint Journal, in my opinion.

Where it suffers is that its content is much the same as what we've already read on the online version of AnnArbor. com. But at least in the print product it's all in one place and easier to find.

Anything I say about the online version of AnnArbor.com will likely be discounted by my comments in the run up to its debut. The product is weak, I don't think any reasonable analysis could conclude otherwise.

There have been breaking news stories, but I have yet to see a decent follow up (interviews with victims or their families, etc.) to any of them. The news stories disappear rapidly and unless you get out you mining tools to dig into the site you won't see them again.

The killing of two swans had the potentially to light up the website, but the original story disappeared off the blog roll quickly. It did reappear later again, but if I were in charge, that swan story would have been up front for a day or two. Like any animal abuse story it was attracting a lot of attention and comments. It has rolled off the top of the page (above the fold in dead tree talk) again this morning.

Many of the stories appear to be rewrites or expansions of press releases from the City of Ann Arbor or the University. That may change as time goes on, but for the first week, the one where you are trying to convince people you are the real deal, it looked pretty trite.

If there is a strong point for AnnArbor.com it is in the sports department. The sports writing seems good and they are covering the run up to Michigan football pretty well. I have enjoyed the articles and if anything helps the online traffic, it will likely be sports.

As for the site itself, it has a boring appearance and looks much like my Facebook page or any number of feeds, except it has a lot more wasted space. Again, my perspective is from one who likes a newspaper format where the best story is on top and the rest is inside.

I tried linking to a quirky video produced by Jordan Miller and got flak from her about not giving her an additional written credit (Her name was already listed in the credits for the You Tube video posted). I won't make that mistake again. In the world where bringing traffic to your site is the name of the game, a simple "thank you" for posting something that brings people to your site is sufficient. You will not see any more links to items on AnnArbor.com here at Free From Editors.

So I like the print product appearance and am kind of 'meh' about the online product. It certainly was not the ground-breaking site promised by the chief content czar. I'll check in there from time-to-time to see if they have improved. But for now, I'm not going there on a regular basis anymore.

You don't have to take my word for it, just look at the comments about the site at the site.

Chevy XIII