Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ooops! Still here.

Actually, we will be in Buffalo until Monday night, so there may be some light blogging until then. I put up that previous notice a few weeks ago before our plans were completely set.

Last night we went to Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub, it's the place made famous by the frequent visits of Tim Russert and his dad.

In a city where every restaurant boosts "the best fish fry in town" the Blackthorn can actually mean it.

The eclectic atmosphere, a collection of 1950s-1960s style tables and chairs not all that match, fill the place and everyone seems to know everyone else. We were there only about 5 minutes and struck up a conversation with the hostess and pretty soon we felt like we were in our living room talking to an old friend.

If you are ever in West Seneca, make sure you stop at Blackthorn's.

Blogging vacation

The housesitter is in place, our flights are approaching and a two week cruise to Hawaii is on tap.

Even if I had a wireless signal, for the next 2 1/2 weeks I will be out of touch. My wife is retired from teaching, my part-time job gives me the flexibility to take some time off and we are out of here.

There will be some pre-scheduled posts going up in my absence, in fact something new each day, but I won't be monitoring the news business for the next two weeks or so.

Enjoy the World War II posters that will show up here everyday, leave a comment if you like, but it won't be posted until I get back around Oct. 1. Feel free to take a vacation from Free From Editors and come back all refreshed and ready to go when I get back.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Missing the newsroom today

Maybe it was the 9/11 remembrance or the huge breaking national news out of Owosso, but it is big news days like this that make my fingers itch just once more to be chasing a big story.

Major kudos to the Flint Journal staff for their work today on the anti-abortion activist shooting in Owosso.

It may sound heartless and even harsh, but for reporters a major story like this one is often looked at as a "good" story. Not because reporters wish for harm on anyone, but because a story like this taxes every source, every skill and every nerve ending you have.

It's a rush like no other and today, just today, I'm envious of those laboring in the field.

I know a couple of the bylines working on this story and the story is in good hands. It's just too bad they don't print on Saturday anymore.

9/11, eight years ago today

Most of us will never forget where we were the morning of September 11, 2001.

For me, it was at my desk in the back of the newsroom at the Flint Journal. Up until about 8:45 a.m. it was a pretty routine morning in the newsroom. The paper was basically done and most of us were leaning back thinking about what we were going to do the rest of the day.
Then the first plane hit the towers. Brooke, who handled the actual production of the newspaper in the mornings, realized that everything would have to be changed. A large business feature was scrapped and the rest of us went to work to find a local angle to the story.

We were on the phone to sources, looking for anyone who might be, or know someone who might be close to the tragedy.

All I remember is being on the phone from about 9 a.m. until noon. My recollections of the event were of work and talking to local people, or former local people, who were watching the event unfold in front of their eyes.

People would stop by my desk and give me the play-by-play, but I didn't really feel the complete effect of the terrorist attack until I got up from my desk, about 11:30 a.m., and found a television and watched the replays of the attack.

Then, and only then, was when the realization of the enormity of the act hit me. People had told me the towers fell, but when I saw it with my own eyes on the replay, I wept. Knowing that many, many lives were being lost at that moment was too hard even for a hardened reporter.

Today, let's remember all those, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and civilians who lost their lives in this attack. Let's also remember all those who have fought in the cause to make sure it will never happen again.

It is a good day to fly the Flag.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The "door shakers"

Back in my Oakland Press days, the editor of the paper frequently tried to catch the photo staff off guard by bursting into the photo department unnannounced.

The hallway into the old photo department was narrow and there was little warning if someone was coming through the door.

So the photographers came up with a signal so that folks inside would know that the person coming through the door was a "friend" and not "foe."

The rule was for everyone, but the editor, that when you entered the photo department you were to give the door knob a long and loud shake so that folks inside would not jump to attention when the door opened.

The "door shaker" rule survived for a long time until one day the editor confronted the photo staff with his belief that people were shaking the door to announce the entry of anyone but himself.

He was politely told that he was wrong, that the door shaking was done to warn anyone coming down the narrow hallway to look out so they wouldn't get hit by the door opening.

Not sure he bought it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Harold Phillips, 82, former "hot type" printer, RIP

Harold W. Phillips, age 82, of Traverse City, passed away, Monday, September 7, 2009 at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.

He was born in Owosso, MI, August 11, 1927 to Harold, Sr. and Jessie (Perry) Phillips. On April 2, 1949, he and Janey Rust were married in Angola, IN. They lived in Owosso until 1958, then Flint and in 1996, came to Traverse City.

He graduated from Corunna (MI) High School in 1945 then went into the Navy. He was at the Atomic Bomb Tests at Bikini in 1946 then went on destroyer duty in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. He was honorably discharged as Radarman 2/C in 1948.

He was a printer at The Owosso Argus-Press until 1955, then the Flint Journal until 1987 and retirement. He was a so-so golfer but enjoyed the camaraderie. He was a member of Corunna Post 4005 VFW.

Survived by sons Jerry (Helen) and Denny (Courtney) and daughter Penny, all of Traverse City; grandchildren Kristy Phillips, Jamie Phillips, Ben Phillips and Benn Overholt; great-grandson Joshua Phillips, brother Gene (Donna) of Tawas City and Yuma, AZ., sister-in-law, Carol (Jack) Holmes of Elk Rapids, grand-dogs, Hunter, Polar and Cuppy, cousins, nieces and nephews and long-time friends Jack and Jeanne Boursmith of Corunna.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Janey in 2003 and his parents.

Cremation has taken place and inurnment will be at Traverse City Memorial Gardens. A memorial service will take place on Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm at Faith Reformed Church, 1139 E. Front Street, Traverse City. Memorial contributions may be directed to Munson Hospice, 550 Munson Avenue, Traverse City, MI 49686.

(I never worked with Harold, but did work with his son, Jerry).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Inside Out: More on the Conde Nast censorship controversy

Inside Out has been collecting links and items on the Conde Nast attempt to hide its own story on Vladimir Putin.

Looks like the Advance corporate lawyers, with whom many of us are all too familiar, are at it again.

For what it's worth, the attempt to kill the story has only given it new life and spread it to an audience that otherwise would have likely missed it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A mouse in my white house

All summer I have been in a battle with a little mouse who keeps insisting on building her nest in a recess of the mower deck of my riding lawn mower.

I don't like to hurt or kill little creatures and I have a rule about mice. Come in my house and you get trapped. Stay outside and we'll try and co-exist.

But the stubbornness of this little mouse is really stretching my patience. It has been necessary to mow every ten days to two weeks all summer due to the rainy weather. But even with only ten day intervals the mouse insists on returning to build her next, always in the same place.

My mower is lodged in a little white metal shed - "the white house" as we call it - in the back yard.

So all summer I go through this little ritual where I pound on the walls of the shed and then slam some tools around to let her know I am in the house. Sometimes she pops her head out and looks at me and then dashes back under the mower deck.

To keep from harming her or her babies I don't start the engine or blades until I push the mower outside and lift up the deck to make sure she and any little ones have departed. I feel kind of bad because she never quite gets the nest finished before I need to mow.

Twice now I have moved her nest to a corner of the white house where I would be happy to let her raise her young, but always she returns to the mower deck.

Finally today, she came out from under the mower deck kind of looked at me, walked away a few feet stopped and looked back as if to scold me for once again spoiling her work.

Any suggestions (please don't suggest murdering the mouse) that might convince her to move elsewhere will be appreciated.