Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kate Smith: "God Bless America"

I'm a sap for old movies and this clip from one brought back a story I heard at my U.S. Navy ship reunion. In 1965, a year before I came on board, the USS Cogswell (DD-651) was station ship in Hong Kong. That meant she was acting as the U.S. Naval command for the ships in port for about a week.

While the ship was there, some of the officers met and invited Kate Smith on board for dinner and she came. Later, she invited some of the ship's company to an entertainment venue in Hong Kong for a little partying.

At 4:21 of the clip you will see a familar actor.

Thanks for all those 2010 e-mails

Something funny for the holidays:

Subject: Thanks for all of your 2010 emails!!!

Well this has made my day ~~thanks for reminding me of all the reasons I should be dead!!

As we progress through year 2010, I want to thank all of you for your educational e-mails this year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel.

I can't have the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can't use the remote in a hotel room, because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.

I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread, because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of Trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.

I MUST SEND MY SPECIAL THANKS to whoever sent me the one about rat poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's Novena has granted my every wish.

I can't have a drink in a bar because I'll wake up in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys gone.

I can't eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.

I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

THANKS TO YOU I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

BECAUSE OF YOUR CONCERN, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer buy gas without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Fanta since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put ‘Under God' on their cans.

I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.

AND THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face. Disfiguring me for life.

I no longer go to the movies because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS when I sit down.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex since they are actually Al Qaeda agents in disguise.

And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

THANKS TO YOU I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big black snake could be lurking under the seat and cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

AND THANKS TO YOUR GREAT ADVICE I can't ever pick up $2.00 coin dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over.

I no longer drive my car because buying gas from some companies supports Al Qaeda, and buying gas from all the others supports South American dictators.
I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician . . .

Oh, by the way.....
A German scientist from Argentina, after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.
Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

P. S.: I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because I was told by e-mail that water splashes over 6 ft. out of the toilet

Monday, December 20, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

The new journalism: Taking money for your opinion

Guess the ethics policies have changed at some newspapers along with the pay.

One young, underpaid journalist had a profane rant to go along with the story. Please be warned the language is harsh and as I already said, profane. If you are offended by that kind of language, please avoid the link.

Some thoughts for a cold 'fall' day

Was listening to a story about deadly wooden, drop-sided cribs this morning and I started jotting about how incredible it is that I am still alive and old enough to collect my pension.

Here's why:

I spent my infant days in a crib with drop sides.
I rode a bicycle without a helmet.
I rode in cars without a child restraint seat.
I lived in a house with lead paint.
I broke thermometers and played with mercury with my bare hands.
I owned a b-b gun.
I was spanked when I was bad, at least once by a teacher. My parents approved.
I played sandlot hardball with no helmets, pads or uniforms. Gasp.
I played tackle football in the park with no pads or helmet.
Somehow I survived. Oh, by the way, we had lots of fun.

Feel free to add your own....

'Aggregation may not be everything" after all

An interesting note from Poynter. Seems like some of the online sites are now going for 'content' who knew?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lions win: Hell freezes over

We knew it would happen when hell froze over and today the Lions won a game and as you can see, it was frozen in Hell. (That would be Hell, Michigan, a real place in Livingston County.) They have a chapel there for twisted folks who want to start married life in Hell.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Government bailouts: Finally explained

As loyal readers will know I have been skeptical of gov't bailouts since W started them a couple years ago. It made no sense, but my father sent me an explanation this morning that sort of clears it all up:

"It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a 100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the 100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the 100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the 100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the 100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the 100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the 100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the 100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to FFE

Hard to believe by Free From Editors is three years old this week. I am amazed, especially considering the drop off in posts recently, how many people come here each day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Journal-Register Co.: Give it up to the IT and digital folks

This is a long and interesting read from the CEO of the Journal Register Co. on a company that has taken a ruthless approach to journalism. It has turned a lot of its coverage over to upaid, or lightly paid, freelancers and sent production, editing and pre-press functions to gosh-knows-where, but by golly they are making money again.

If the folks being beaten in the galley to row the boat, go with the program they are in line this year to receive an extra week's pay. Wanna bet the officers on deck are getting a lot more?

The one thing I agree with him on is that the industry was slow to see the impact of online. Unfortunately in the company I am most familiar with the people responsible for that lack of vision remain high on the payroll while those under their command are largely on the beach through no fault of their own.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crain's: The ups and downs of Advance Publications

An FFE reader brought my attention to the following Crain's New York article I missed while I was away. An interesting read about the current status of the Advance umbrella of companies.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting caught up on the new round of Booth layoffs

Just back from our trip and catching up on all things newspaper related. I have obtained the following information from a variety of sources and while it is still not complete, we're getting closer.

Grand Rapids – Eight editorial layoffs, including an IT guy laid off a couple weeks before the latest round.

Layoffs were on the copy desk, sports, photo, graphics, metro, entertainment.

Additional layoffs may be coming as the west Booth newspapers reorganize – Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids plan to consolidate sports, entertainment and web content under one umbrella apparently similar to what happened in Flint, Bay City and Saginaw.

Still no coverage of the layoffs and a story about the GR publisher talking to a local organization had a graph or two about the layoffs edited out of the published story. Nice.

Total layoffs at Grand Rapids was about 20 employees.

Unlike previous layoffs, the editor didn’t deliver the bad news personally, but through the department heads. Looks like the “open door” policies the company always prided itself on have slammed shut.

Muskegon lost two editorial employees, I don’t have numbers on the rest at Muskegon. Also I’m not aware of the severance packages offered at any of the three papers.

Lower revenues are being predicted for 2011 for Grand Rapids anway.

Still interesting is that in Kalamazoo, the purported reasons for the layoffs had to do with creating a stronger online presence and yet two of the employees and the managing editor who had the strongest online responsibilities were let go. Apparently there is a push now for editorial employees to post their own work, which would explain the sometimes crude condition of online copy.

One of the reporters laid off at Kalamazoo was the City Hall reporter which at least one source said will likely kill any chance of any responsible reporting on the city’s attempts to recover money lost when it gave tax breaks to the Gazette in exchange for creating more jobs.

Also gone from the Gazette are the religion writer/editor and two hometown editors, including one who had been on medical leave. The circulation manager was also sent packing.

I've also received a report that what remained of the Flint Journal accounting department has also been terminated. No further information was offered.

One of the most troubling parts of all these layoffs and decisions is the lack of transparency and coverage on the pages of the newspapers. Newspapers should set the standard for other companies in being open and honest about what is happening. If not, they should quit calling other businesses for the same information.

All is not well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

All's quiet on the Western (newspaper) front

The only new reports out of the Booth west Michigan cuts was some information that the cuts at the Gazette spared the editor and her husband, also an editorial employee. There have been additional reports that some employees not laid off have taken additional pay cuts, but that is not for sure.

Unfortunately, I will be away from my computer for a week and unable to post. Feel free to send me any information at the e-mail address on the profile for this blog and I'll follow up when I return.

With each round of cuts, I have fewer and fewer sources within Booth. Still waiting to see some coverage or reports out of or the local broadcast media. If you see those, please send me links.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Still no word on layoffs at MLive

Not sure if the printed newspapers are reporting the new downsizing, but Sunday's column by the Grand Rapids Press editor mentions a new "Health" section, but fails to mention the employee diet the papers have gone on.


In checking local news sites for other reporting about the cuts I found this article from earlier this year about the Kalamazoo Gazette and its problems with the local city over tax breaks it got for a new printing facility. Nothing yet on the recent cuts, however.

The only mention I could find (and admittedly MLive is nearly impossible to search) from the Gazette about the tax issue with the City was this one, which was published two days after the television report. Wonder how they got scooped on their own story?

Friday, November 5, 2010

More information on new Booth layoffs

Here's some information on layoffs at Muskegon Chronicle and Grand Rapids Press at the Paper Cuts website. Still waiting for further information on the cuts at the Kalamazoo Gazette. Feel free to send info to jlsmediaservices(at)gmail(dot) com.

Late update. It looks like at least 7 layoffs at the Kalamazoo Gazette, including a popular managing editor. No word on the security of the editor and her husband, who is also an editorial employee.

Interesting that just a short time ago employees at one of these papers were told that they "had turned the corner" and that the newspapers were in the black.

Also ironic that while employees were told that newspapers would be transitioned to online publications, at least some of the layoffs came to employees working online. Also mentioned at Paper Cuts site.

Still can find nothing at

New layoffs at Booth

I'm receiving initial reports from a mandatory staff meeting in Kalamazoo this morning that more layoffs have been announced and that the newspaper is transitioning to an 'online first' publication along with some staff restructuring.

As more detailed information arrives, it will be posted.

At the moment, no announcement on M Live.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Big news for Channel 12 in Flint

This will be huge news for my friends at WJRT-TV (Channel 12 in Flint). Disney is selling them, which in my opinion is not a good thing. As a Disney retiree (Oakland Press) they were a good company to work for.

Major changes coming in West Michigan?

There are rumblings that major changes are coming to Booth in West Michigan. No hard facts yet, but apparently some consolidation and staff changes may be on the way.

If you have information and are willing to share it, feel free to e-mail me at the address in my profile.

As always, for your own safety, do not do that from the office.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Making the case for majoring in journalism

Why would anyone major in journalism? Here's an NPR answer. I think it is still a hard sell to convince young people to go into a profession that has a salary structure in reverse. Especially with the cost of higher education today.

Between rent and student loans there won't be much left over for a concert or two, but there may be a need for a second job.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cancun 2010: Travel blog post up

For our family and friends interested in our recent Cancun trip visit Grandma's Recess for the info.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Red Wings open with win, a great night for hockey

Went to my first Detroit Red Wings opener in 25 years and it turned out to be a 4-0 rout over the Ducks. The following video clip includes a segment with Pavel Datsyk who showed a real good sense of humor. Go Wings!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

MSU 34 - Wisconsin 24

Joan and I went to the MSU-Wisconsin game. Two ranked teams (Wisconsin 11th and MSU 24th) and the Spartans came out on top. Perfect! Quite a few Badger fans there which made it even sweeter.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why California may be in a little financial trouble

Here is a list (not sure it is complete) of the current agencies funded by the State of California. While some obviously have merit, some of them boggle the mind. Can you say out of control? And this is just one of the 50 states and one can only imagine the list of federal agencies.

California Academic Performance Index (API) * California Access for Infants and Mothers * California Acupuncture Board * California Administrative Office of the Courts * California Adoptions Branch * California African American Museum * California Agricultural Export Program * California Agricultural Labor Relations Board * California Agricultural Statistics Service * California Air Resources Board (CARB) * California Allocation Board * California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority * California Animal Health and Food Safety Services * California Anti-Terrorism Information Center * California Apprenticeship Council * California Arbitration Certification Program * California Architects Board * California Area VI Developmental Disabilities Board * California Arts Council * California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus * California Assembly Democratic Caucus * California Assembly Republican Caucus * California Athletic Commission * California Attorney General * California Bay Conservation and Development Commission * California Bay-Delta Authority * California Bay-Delta Office * California Biodiversity Council * California Board for Geologists and Geophysicists * California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors * California Board of Accountancy * California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology * California Board of Behavioral Sciences * California Board of Chiropractic Examiners * California Board of Equalization (BOE) * California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection * California Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind * California Board of Occupational Therapy * California Board of Optometry * California Board of Pharmacy * California Board of Podiatric Medicine * California Board of Prison Terms * California Board of Psychology * California Board of Registered Nursing * California Board of Trustees * California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians * California Braille and Talking Book Library * California Building Standards Commission * California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education * California Bureau of Automotive Repair * California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair * California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation * California Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine * California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services * California Bureau of State Audits * California Business Agency * California Business Investment Services (CalBIS) * California Business Permit Information (CalGOLD) * California Business Portal * California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency * California Cal Grants * California CalJOBS * California Cal-Learn Program * California CalVet Home Loan Program * California Career Resource Network * California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau * California Center for Analytical Chemistry * California Center for Distributed Learning * California Center for Teaching Careers (Teach California) * California Chancellors Office * California Charter Schools * California Children and Families Commission * California Children and Family Services Division * California Citizens Compensation Commission * California Civil Rights Bureau * California Coastal Commission * California Coastal Conservancy * California Code of Regulations * California Collaborative Projects with UC Davis * California Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth * California Commission on Aging * California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers Compensation * California Commission on Judicial Performance * California Commission on State Mandates * California Commission on Status of Women * California Commission on Teacher Credentialing * California Commission on the Status of Women * California Committee on Dental Auxiliaries * California Community Colleges Chancellors Office, Junior Colleges * California Community Colleges Chancellors Office * California Complaint Mediation Program * California Conservation Corps * California Constitution Revision Commission * California Consumer Hotline * California Consumer Information Center * California Consumer Information * California Consumer Services Division * California Consumers and Families Agency * California Contractors State License Board * California Corrections Standards Authority * California Council for the Humanities * California Council on Criminal Justice * California Council on Developmental Disabilities * California Court Reporters Board * California Courts of Appeal * California Crime and Violence Prevention Center * California Criminal Justice Statistics Center * California Criminalist Institute Forensic Library * California CSGnet Network Management * California Cultural and Historical Endowment * California Cultural Resources Division * California Curriculum and Instructional Leadership Branch * California Data Exchange Center * California Data Management Division * California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission * California Delta Protection Commission * California Democratic Caucus * California Demographic Research Unit * California Dental Auxiliaries * California Department of Aging * California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs * California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board * California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control * California Department of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) * California Department of Child Support Services (CDCSS) * California Department of Community Services and Development * California Department of Conservation * California Department of Consumer Affairs * California Department of Corporations * California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation * California Department of Developmental Services * California Department of Education * California Department of Fair Employment and Housing * California Department of Finance * California Department of Financial Institutions * California Department of Fish and Game * California Department of Food and Agriculture * California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) * California Department of General Services * California Department of General Services, Office of State Publishing * California Department of Health Care Services * California Department of Housing and Community Development * California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) * California Department of Insurance * California Department of Justice Firearms Division * California Department of Justice Opinion Unit * California Department of Justice, Consumer Information, Public Inquiry Unit * California Department of Justice * California Department of Managed Health Care * California Department of Mental Health * California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) * California Department of Personnel Administration * California Department of Pesticide Regulation * California Department of Public Health * California Department of Real Estate * California Department of Rehabilitation * California Department of Social Services Adoptions Branch * California Department of Social Services * California Department of Technology Services Training Center (DTSTC) * California Department of Technology Services (DTS) * California Department of Toxic Substances Control * California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) * California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVets) * California Department of Water Resources * California Departmento de Vehiculos Motorizados * California Digital Library * California Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Certification Program * California Division of Apprenticeship Standards * California Division of Codes and Standards * California Division of Communicable Disease Control * California Division of Engineering * California Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control * California Division of Gambling Control * California Division of Housing Policy Development * California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement * California Division of Labor Statistics and Research * California Division of Land and Right of Way * California Division of Land Resource Protection * California Division of Law Enforcement General Library * California Division of Measurement Standards * California Division of Mines and Geology * California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) * California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources * California Division of Planning and Local Assistance * California Division of Recycling * California Division of Safety of Dams * California Division of the State Architect * California Division of Tourism * California Division of Workers Compensation Medical Unit * California Division of Workers Compensation * California Economic Assistance, Business and Community Resources * California Economic Strategy Panel * California Education and Training Agency * California Education Audit Appeals Panel * California Educational Facilities Authority * California Elections Division * California Electricity Oversight Board * California Emergency Management Agency * California Emergency Medical Services Authority * California Employment Development Department (EDD) * California Employment Information State Jobs * California Employment Training Panel * California Energy Commission * California Environment and Natural Resources Agency * California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) * California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) * California Executive Office * California Export Laboratory Services * California Exposition and State Fair (Cal Expo) * California Fair Political Practices Commission * California Fairs and Expositions Division * California Film Commission * California Fire and Resource Assessment Program * California Firearms Division * California Fiscal Services * California Fish and Game Commission * California Fisheries Program Branch * California Floodplain Management * California Foster Youth Help * California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) * California Fraud Division * California Gambling Control Commission * California Geographic Information Systems Council (GIS) * California Geological Survey * California Government Claims and Victim Compensation Board * California Governors Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons * California Governors Mentoring Partnership * California Governors Office of Emergency Services * California Governors Office of Homeland Security * California Governors Office of Planning and Research * California Governors Office * California Grant and Enterprise Zone Programs HCD Loan * California Health and Human Services Agency * California Health and Safety Agency * California Healthy Families Program * California Hearing Aid Dispensers Bureau * California High-Speed Rail Authority * California Highway Patrol (CHP) * California History and Culture Agency * California Horse Racing Board * California Housing Finance Agency * California Indoor Air Quality Program * California Industrial Development Financing Advisory Commission * California Industrial Welfare Commission * California InFoPeople * California Information Center for the Environment * California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (I-Bank) * California Inspection Services * California Institute for County Government * California Institute for Education Reform * California Integrated Waste Management Board * California Interagency Ecological Program * California Job Service * California Junta Estatal de Personal * California Labor and Employment Agency * California Labor and Workforce Development Agency * California Labor Market Information Division * California Land Use Planning Information Network (LUPIN) * California Lands Commission * California Landscape Architects Technical Committee * California Latino Legislative Caucus * California Law Enforcement Branch * California Law Enforcement General Library * California Law Revision Commission * California Legislative Analyst's Office * California Legislative Black Caucus * California Legislative Counsel * California Legislative Division * California Legislative Information * California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus * California Legislature Internet Caucus * California Library Development Services * California License and Revenue Branch * California Major Risk Medical Insurance Program * California Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board * California Maritime Academy * California Marketing Services * California Measurement Standards * California Medical Assistance Commission * California Medical Care Services * California Military Department * California Mining and Geology Board * California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts * California Museum Resource Center * California National Guard * California Native American Heritage Commission * California Natural Community Conservation Planning Program * California New Motor Vehicle Board * California Nursing Home Administrator Program * California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board * California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board * California Ocean Resources Management Program * California Office of Administrative Hearings * California Office of Administrative Law * California Office of AIDS * California Office of Binational Border Health * California Office of Child Abuse Prevention * California Office of Deaf Access * California Office of Emergency Services (OES) * California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment * California Office of Fiscal Services * California Office of Fleet Administration * California Office of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Implementation (CalOHI) * California Office of Historic Preservation * California Office of Homeland Security * California Office of Human Resources * California Office of Legal Services * California Office of Legislation * California Office of Lieutenant Governor * California Office of Military and Aerospace Support * California Office of Mine Reclamation * California Office of Natural Resource Education * California Office of Privacy Protection * California Office of Public School Construction * California Office of Real Estate Appraisers * California Office of Risk and Insurance Management * California Office of Services to the Blind * California Office of Spill Prevention and Response * California Office of State Publishing (OSP) * California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development * California Office of Systems Integration * California Office of the Inspector General * California Office of the Ombudsman * California Office of the Patient Advocate * California Office of the President * California Office of the Secretary for Education * California Office of the State Fire Marshal * California Office of the State Public Defender * California Office of Traffic Safety * California Office of Vital Records * California Online Directory * California Operations Control Office * California Opinion Unit * California Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN) * California Park and Recreation Commission * California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) * California Performance Review (CPR) * California Permit Information for Business (CalGOLD) * California Physical Therapy Board * California Physician Assistant Committee * California Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services * California Policy and Evaluation Division * California Political Reform Division * California Pollution Control Financing Authority * California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo * California Postsecondary Education Commission * California Prevention Services * California Primary Care and Family Health * California Prison Industry Authority * California Procurement Division * California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) * California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) * California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) * California Real Estate Services Division * California Refugee Programs Branch * California Regional Water Quality Control Boards * California Registered Veterinary Technician Committee * California Registrar of Charitable Trusts * California Republican Caucus * California Research and Development Division * California Research Bureau * California Resources Agency * California Respiratory Care Board * California Rivers Assessment * California Rural Health Policy Council * California Safe Schools * California San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission * California San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy * California San Joaquin River Conservancy * California School to Career * California Science Center * California Scripps Institution of Oceanography * California Secretary of State Business Portal * California Secretary of State * California Seismic Safety Commission * California Self Insurance Plans (SIP) * California Senate Office of Research * California Small Business and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Certification Program * California Small Business Development Center Program * California Smart Growth Caucus * California Smog Check Information Center * California Spatial Information Library * California Special Education Division * California Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Board * California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) * California Standards and Assessment Division * California State Administrative Manual (SAM) * California State Allocation Board * California State and Consumer Services Agency * California State Architect * California State Archives * California State Assembly * California State Association of Counties (CSAC) * California State Board of Education * California State Board of Food and Agriculture *California Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) * California State Children's Trust Fund * California State Compensation Insurance Fund * California State Contracts Register Program * California State Contracts Register * California State Controller * California State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) * California State Disability Insurance (SDI) * California State Fair (Cal Expo) * California State Jobs Employment Information * California State Lands Commission * California State Legislative Portal * California State Legislature * California State Library Catalog * California State Library Services Bureau * California State Library * California State Lottery * California State Mediation and Conciliation Service * California State Mining and Geology Board * California State Park and Recreation Commission * California State Parks * California State Personnel Board * California State Polytechnic University, Pomona * California State Railroad Museum * California State Science Fair * California State Senate * California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) * California State Summer School for the Arts * California State Superintendent of Public Instruction * California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) * California State Treasurer * California State University Center for Distributed Learning * California State University, Bakersfield * California State University, Channel Islands * California State University, Chico * California State University, Dominguez Hills * California State University, East Bay * California State University, Fresno * California State University, Fullerton * California State University, Long Beach * California State University, Los Angeles * California State University, Monterey Bay * California State University, Northridge * California State University, Sacramento * California State University, San Bernardino * California State University, San Marcos * California State University, Stanislaus * California State University (CSU) * California State Water Project Analysis Office * California State Water Project * California State Water Resources Control Board * California Structural Pest Control Board * California Student Aid Commission * California Superintendent of Public Instruction * California Superior Courts * California Tahoe Conservancy * California Task Force on Culturally and Linguistically Competent Physicians and Dentists * California Tax Information Center * California Technology and Administration Branch Finance * California Telecommunications Division * California Telephone Medical Advice Services (TAMS) * California Transportation Commission * California Travel and Transportation Agency * California Unclaimed Property Program * California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board * California Unemployment Insurance Program * California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Commission * California Veterans Board * California Veterans Memorial * California Veterinary Medical Board and Registered Veterinary Technician Examining Committee * California Veterinary Medical Board * California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board * California Volunteers * California Voter Registration * California Water Commission * California Water Environment Association (COWPEA) * California Water Resources Control Board * California Welfare to Work Division * California Wetlands Information System * California Wildlife and Habitat Data Analysis Branch * California Wildlife Conservation Board * California Wildlife Programs Branch * California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) * California Workers Compensation Appeals Board * California Workforce and Labor Development Agency * California Workforce Investment Board * California Youth Authority (CYA) * Central Valley Flood Protection Board * Center for California Studies * Colorado River Board of California * Counting California * Dental Board of California * Health Insurance Plan of California (PacAdvantage) * Humboldt State University * Jobs with the State of California * Judicial Council of California * Learn California * Library of California * Lieutenant Governors Commission for One California * Little Hoover Commission (on California State Government Organization and Economy) * Medical Board of California * Medi-Cal * Osteopathic Medical Board of California * Physical Therapy Board of California * Regents of the University of California * San Diego State University * San Francisco State University * San Jose State University * Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy * State Bar of California * Supreme Court of California * Teach California * University of California * University of California, Berkeley * University of California, Davis * University of California, Hastings College of the Law * University of California, Irvine * University of California, Los Angeles * University of California, Merced * University of California, Riverside * University of California, San Diego * University of California, San Francisco * University of California, Santa Barbara * University of California, Santa Cruz * Veterans Home of California

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For my copy editor friends: Why we don't need them anymore

The Poynter Institute took a look at the current trend of reducing copy editors at newspapers. Gene Weingarten at the Washington Post also takes a humorous look at it.

This from the New York Times.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the road again. Destination: Ludington

First post is up from our current trip over on Grandmas Recess. Also picked up a copy of the Ludington Daily News. Two small sections for 75-cents and no TV section. Sheeesh.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the road again, Grandma's Recess to fire up

We will be heading out Wednesday for a two-week camping vacation now that all the kiddies and their parents are back home. That means Grandmas Recess will be up and running tomorrow night. I will also include some photos and a brief story on our trip to Indianapolis last weekend. The delay in that had to do with me leaving the digital camera home and having to use a disposable film camera. Film is at the store and should be picked up today.

With an American Legion blood drive that I oversee today and an all-day Family Literacy Center Board retreat, I won't get to it until tomorrow.

If I come across some newspaper news while we are on our trip I'll put that up on Free From Editors.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Off topic: Something funny for today.

With our frequent visits to a Buffalo nursing home this was a delightful prayer that has more and more meaning as I get older and older.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The future of news: Print or palm device?

Here's what the New York Times said about a new newspaper avenue in USA Today. (Hat tip to my sister-in-law, a great newsie in her own right for sending this along).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Under the category: Bad News

Not sure I agree with the assessment that newspapers will be gone by 2022, but here's the article.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Newspaper warning labels

How about this idea: Warning labels for newspapers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A word from the President

A friend forwarded this to me and I thought it was pretty funny. It would apply to most Presidents, by the way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just a quick post for my Dad

This is the incredible video from the 2010 Oshkosh fly-in. My Dad's favorite airplane, the DC-3, is in here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

House painting on tap - blogging to slow

My wife uttered the words that every husband just loves to hear: "I think it's time to paint the living room."

I tried to convince her that we had just done that (7 years ago) and maybe we could just wash the walls instead.

Didn't work, so I'll be working on household chores the next few days. We all need a vacation from me anyway.

By the way, the Flint Journal home delivered version has been particularly good lately. Sunday had an excellent story from a former colleague, now with the Grand Rapids Press, that took a look at school consolidation. They didn't include my county, but it was a great look at an issue that really needs to be addressed.

The local coverage of the arrest of the serial stabber has also been excellent. I'm hoping they will give one of the reporters a chance to fly to Leesburg and/or Atlanta to do remote follow ups from those locations.

Not sure where the paper is being putting together, but even the general look of the paper has improved from what was happening immediately after it went to three days a week.

My out-of-town trips to cover stories were some of the best learning experiences of my career. You can learn more about your reporting ability by being dropped into a faraway city and fending for yourself than anything you can do locally.

One of these days, when I'm not painting, I'll recount some of those trips to Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio (three times) and some others that are escaping me right now. They were fun, but challenging assignments that pressed my skills to the limit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stabbings, murders unconnected for more than a month

Many of us who used to cover crime in Flint are trying to wrap our heads around a series of crimes, five of them murders, that went unconnected for many, many weeks. With the arrest of an Israeli citizen in Atlanta for this series of crimes, it is time to ask some hard questions.

This series of crimes, and there were many more than just the homicides, began in May, but it wasn't until a couple weeks ago that two and two added to four.

There was a time that the Flint Journal sent reporters to the police station every day, two and three times a day, to check on crimes. Not sure if that is still going on, but trust me that a series of five men being murdered, all by the same method, in a short period of time would have created a media firestorm much earlier than this one.

I am far from the newsroom, I don't know if those two and three times a day visits are still being made to the detective bureau at the police station. The reporters who are there are good, competent folks, but again, I don't know how much time they have to dedicate to a beat, or even if there are still beats.

Back in the day, the day police reporter would make an early visit to the detective bureau (7 a.m.) and check on overnight activities and go through police reports for serious activities or accidents over night.

The night cop reporter would stop back at the police department about 5 p.m. and repeat the process for the dayside. Several times during the day and evening calls would be made to the police department to check on current investigations and to see what is going on.

And the police scanner was on in the newsroom and in our cars all the time monitoring police and fire radio traffic. Often to the irritation of the non-police reporters and editors in the newsroom.

There were nights when something would happen as I was leaving at 11 p.m. and I would stay many hours into the night. A few times I would still be there at 5 a.m. when editors began showing up for work the next day.

Editors demanded that crimes be covered like a blanket. That began to erode even during my last years at the Journal, but there was still a commitment to aggressively cover crimes.

I have no idea if crime coverage is still heavily emphasized. I do know there are far fewer reporters to do the job of gathering news than when I was there. Whether this helped lead to a lack of oversight and the missed signals of these crimes is only speculation.

But I do know this, if we had noticed even two men killed in a short time by the same method, someone would have been asking questions. By the time it got to three, four and five men, we would have been running daily and Sunday stories on the "trend." We loved trend stories back in the day.

There is no question I spent many, many hours hanging around the police station, developing relationships with all the detectives and I had the time and freedom to follow stories. That, I am sure, is different today.

Many times, reporters would notice crime trends from one community to the other and we became the conduit that put together similar crimes from those communities.

A running list of traffic accident victims and homicide victims was kept religiously in a computer file at the paper. Those lists were critical to tracking and discovering disturbing crime trends in the area. Those of us who covered crime used to hate the year end wrap up stories we were required to do on each and every murder that occurred.

The old beat method allowed reporters the time and space to develop sources. To be clear, I don't know what happened in this case, but the days of the local television and newspaper media leading the way in coverage is apparently gone.

With the newspaper only printing three days a week, maybe that has had an effect on the daily coverage of the police department. I just don't know. Much of the early online coverage of the arrest was simply links to other news outlets. That would not have been allowed in the "old days."

The reporters now working on the story are doing a good job, I have no argument with that.

Also, the Flint Police Department has taken a heavy hit due to budget considerations. I don't know the status of the homicide bureau and what effect that had on the failure to connect the dots for so long. But it is a question that needs to be asked.

Sorry, just lots of questions and few answers today. It just appears that the watchdogs, public and private, were asleep.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What he said (on immigration)

For those who disagree with me about immigration enforcement. This sums up my feelings pretty well.

The "Summer of Recovery" fizzles, both parties get the blame

My Libertarian and third party desires are well known here, but I love it when my instincts prove somewhat correct. The Wall Street Journal and NBC News did a poll that show that people are mad at Democrats - and Republicans - for the miserable efforts to fix the economy.

Let's be honest, the government rarely fixes anything. It does some things well, we have the finest military in the world even though politicians have frequently misused it. But when a bunch of politicians who have never worked a real job a day in their lives try to fix the economy the results are predictable.

Two-party partisan bickering and posturing is ruining this country and those of us longing for a real change, a departure from the two-party system, continue to hope others will come along. And as long as the Tea Party is somehow aligned with Republicans, I don't want them either.

The country needs a true independent party, one that reflects the attitudes of the vast middle voters and not the fringe left and right who dominate all the conversation.

Otherwise we'll continue to have congressional representives who write tax laws and then ignore them in his own life and others who talk about fixing the deficit while approving bridges to nowhere in bills that have nothing to do with bridges.

The President can keep saying it's the "Summer of Recovery" and that "things are getting better, really" and all we can point to is that the jobs he is saving are government jobs. Wishing the economy well will not make it so.

So while the private sector shrinks, the government gets bigger.

The original idea was that government would work for us. What we have in turn is that those in the private sector are now working for government to keep it going. Just live in New York for a few days and see what the excessive taxes are doing there.

Our children will someday get this deficit bill and I don't think they will thank us for it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Illegal immigrant kills nun, had been released pending deportation

The Washington Post is reporting that a man arrested for drunk driving and killing a nun in Virginia had been arrested previously for drunken driving, discovered to be an illegal immigrant and was released pending a deportation hearing.

And this one is on President Bush's administration, but it makes my point that Arizona is not the only place that currently checks folks for immigration status on folks arrested for other crimes. The fact the federal government's enforcement releases these folks back into the population is what is at issue.

If you are interested, follow the links at the bottom of the story that show that in this one county 13 percent of those arrested on crimes are also illegal immigrants. Please keep telling me how this is not a problem.

There's also an interesting note about the federal government's endorsement of this local enforcement in Virginia, which is in contrast to its current stated and legal battles with Arizona.

From the WP story: "Prince William is one of a few dozen communities in the country that participate in a federal program that deputizes local police officers to act as immigration agents and check the immigration status of people they arrest."

Maybe illegal immigration is more of a problem if the issue is in the D.C. backyard and not somewhere way out west. Check out pages 15-16-17 of the pdf of these local police statistics.

If the feds are going to sue anyone, it should be the cities who declare amnesty for illegal immigrants, that is truly an issue the federal government should sue over.

As to deportation hearings, how long should that take.

Judge: "Are you here illegally."

Suspect: "Yes"

Judge: "You're gone."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Detroit Lions one big highlight film

The Detroit Lions don't have many highlights of their own (they are featured in many other teams' highlights, however) but this was the one game that gave fans hope for the future.

Sunday, August 1, 2010 A year later, another perspective

Online readers are up, but Advance is silent on whether the venture is profitable according to this new article about

What is still not arguable is that the print product of is the biggest revenue generator. Be sure to follow the links in the story to the Chicago Tribue column and others.

Does anyone know if the 35 newsroom employees include unpaid bloggers and interns?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Suspicions confirmed: Internet handy, as long as it is free

A loyal reader, Jan, sent along a link that has a lot of good information about how people feel about the Internet and newspapers.

People love the Internet, but they are not willing to pay for much. That does not bode well for those who believe that a sustainable and lucrative model for online news gathering is anywhere on the horizon.

Maybe years down the road, but people want their information and they want it for free. I have a Twitter account, a Facebook account and use the Internet daily. But when someone asks me for dough, I say no. I hate tip jars, as well.

Also notice if you want the full report you'll have to pay for it. I'm not.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gene Weingarten: On digitial media and Lady Gaga

In case you missed this Gene Weingarten column in the Washington Post (thanks, Dad) it is a funny and very apt discussion of the state of journalism and news today.

Once again I put myself out there as a self-confessed journalism dinosaur, but even those who have reigned over the current journalism state of affairs should get a good laugh out of this. They probably won't because they will actually think this all makes sense.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

From A to Zowie: A reporter's reflections

Reporter Richard has a blog of his own. Here are a couple of his recent columns.

On writing opinion columns about issues you cover.

A day in his life, which includes getting to bed early so he can be rested for his second job at the gas station.

One really has to have passion to be willing to work two jobs so you can do one that is important, but not paid that way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More sloppy newspaper checking

This time from afar. Thanks to a reader for sending along this link to Regret the Error.

Old colleagues, new business

Some former colleagues have launched a new business, Ohno Design, and I'm pretty excited for them. The innovative website and the crisp, clear writing there shows why they should never have been dropped from the Flint Journal to begin with.

If had 10 percent of the creativity of what I have already seen on this website, well someone besides me would probably be talking about

Congratulations Ohno Design, give 'em heck.

I know a lot of folks from different disciplines who check in here. You could do worse, a lot worse, than checking out Ohno Design if you are in the market for that kind of thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010 A year later a review by someone else

Having lost all interest in (I still visit there every six weeks or so to see if it's still there) I received a message from Ruth, a blogger who has done a look back at the site after one year. She looks at the good and the bad, and it's in three parts.

Part I

Part II

Part III

As for me, the site, which promised to be this revolutionary "new" way to deliver online news was just warmed over without all creativity. That was a joke. For me the site from its inception was boring, and has remained so. But they do have a well furnished lobby. But if it is providing a high paid living for some working journalists then I'm all for it. For sure it is probably providing a high paid living for a few non-working, non-journalists who run the place.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flint Journal: Punked

A sometime poster here, Kevin McKague, has admitted that he is the real author of a letter from "Nona T. Reilly," which if you say it fast (or slow) comes out "No Not Really."

Don't know how long the letter will be up at the site, but Kevin's blog has a screen shot of the letter to prove it was there.

I saw it tonight. Used to be that the editors would call and actually talk to a letter writer to confirm the authenticity.

It's happened before and likely will happen again. Kevin, a pretty prolific letter writer, may have published his last letter to the editor in The Flint Journal, but you have to admit, it was a wild one.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blogging to slow

I know, blogging has already been slow. Not much going on in journalism land and we're off for a short vacation within our retirement to Indiana and then Up North. The house sitter will be here shortly and we are out of here.

For the next couple weeks you can follow (if you care) our adventures on my other blog We'll check in from there.

By the way, a friend took us to Port Huron for a ride on the Huron Lady II last Sunday. It was really enjoyable. A nice trip up and down the St. Clair River and a little excursion on Lake Huron. Cost was only $15 for a two-hour trip and it was well worth it.

Of course, any time I spend on the water is always worth it.

Also spent a little time enjoying watching the shipping lane from Vantage Point.

Sometimes you find little jewels right near home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

BP and fisherman at odds

The oil spill in the Gulf has exposed another major issue in this country. The underground economy is alive and well. As taxes increase, many folks are simply avoiding the problem by working in cash.

Now a bunch of fisherman in the gulf are having a problem getting paid because BP wants to base payments on tax forms and they simply don't have them, or have seriously underreported their income.

This could get ugly as fisherman demand payments for income they can't prove, but likely earned. I feel sympathy for the fisherman, but can also see BP's point that they simply won't pay out based on verbal statements. Heck, I could say I was a fisherman who lost money.

There are reports that some fisherman are making $3,000 a day skimming oil, which eclipses what they would make if they were fishing.

So, what to do? If you come clean that you have under reported your income will that sic the IRS on the fisherman.

Don't really know where I come down on this because I feel no sympathy for BP, but if you have been working for years under the table you have reaped an incredible benefit for not paying your taxes.

I'd be interested in what you think.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What is illegal?

I guess what the President and the Department of Justice are saying in the lawsuit against Arizona is that it is illegal to enforce laws against illegal aliens. The lawsuit is not based on the law being prejudicial, which is what they have been talking about, but rather challenging the law based on the fact that the State is not allowed to enforce federal law.

Wonder who is allowed to enforce federal law? Second question, why aren't they doing it? Now that would be a good lawsuit.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Carnival Cruise Fail. November cruise is high and dry

A family reunion cruise on the Carnival Pride in November is apparently off. Not the end of the world, not even close, but the response of the Carnival Cruise Line company is a little upsetting.

My wife and I love cruising, we have made four previous Carnival cruises, one to the Western Caribbean, one to the Eastern Caribbean, one to Alaska and one to Hawaii. They have all been great fun.

Over the years I have recommended Carnival to many folks and still could depending on how this all turns out. We booked this thing early to take advantage of great rates and a week that allowed six members of our family to all cruise at the same time.

Last night our travel agent and Carnival sent us an e-mail telling us that the ship was being sent to dry dock in early November and that our cruise was cancelled. It even rated a story in USA Today. As part of that, the cruise line was going to give us a $50 on board credit (that about covers my wife and stepdaughter's one day Mojito bill) and would find us another cruise, but could no longer guarantee our cruise price or cabin location.

Further, they would not make up the difference in the travel costs to a new port. So the trip is off. No huge deal for Joan and me, we're retired and can reschedule another time. But for the other four members of our party it's not so easy. They still work and vacations are not so easy to schedule.

My suspicion is that the dry dock dates were swapped with the originally planned January schedule because our cruise was under booked and January is a much more lucrative time to fill a cruise to the Bahamas. All that is understandable. What is not understandable is the lack of concern by Carnival as to making and taking care of other arrangements.

For members of our party who have already booked airline tickets, Carnival is offering up to $200 in an on board credit to repay any airline cancellation charges. How about paying those folks back in cash? That is, after all, what they paid.

If you ever sail on Carnival they keep emphasizing that they "want to exceed your expectations." In this case, not even close. As I said, this is not the end of the world and there are many people with much more important problems and issues than this, but it always amazes me when I see how tone deaf some corporations are when they disrupt people's plans.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Civil War story worth hearing

This is a year old, but NPR ran a good story last July recalling the 75th - and final - reunion of soldiers of the North and South at the Gettysburg Battlefield. The Civil War is a particular interest of mine and World War II is close behind.

It is interesting to hear the recorded voices of men who actually fought at Gettysburg meeting for the final time in 1938.

If you are not interested in the Civil War you probably won't want to listen.

Monday, July 5, 2010

RIP Bob Probert, the original Red Wing #24

I love hockey and I especially love the Detroit Red Wings. Back in the "old" days when hockey let guys fight a little more Bob Probert was the main enforcer for the team. He would always take on the bad guy from the other team and never backed down from a fight. Well, don't take my word for it, here is a little montage. There are plenty more at the site if this isn't enough. Sad news to hear of his death at the relative young age of 45. He lived hard and played hard.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

After 50 years, time to stop and play

When I accepted an early retirement from the Flint Journal in December 2007 I knew in my heart I was not done working. My internal clock still yearned to work and produce. So I started a little business and contracted out some writing and communication services, which resulted in one main client, a local school district.

When I did my taxes last year, I realized I was working 25 minutes of every hour to pay Uncle Sam and decided that the fire to work had gone out. If you are curious about the tax math: 25 percent federal income taxes, 15 percent (the employee's 7.5 percent Social Security contribution and the employer's 7.5 percent Social Security contribution) and Michigan's 4.1 percent income tax.

In other words, it no longer made sense to continue getting up early, put on a tie and make my way to work. I loved the school work, but it was no longer worth it.

Also, a person wiser than me once said that "you'll know when it's time to retire." At some point this winter, while Joan and I were away on vacation, a clock went off in my head telling me it was time to stop. Not wanting to quit in the middle of a school year I decided that when the school year ended, so would my employment.

That was yesterday. June 30. For the first time in 50 years there is no paid work now or in the future. It feels great this morning.

As mentioned previously, my life has been blessed. Not once have I had to apply for unemployment. In the 1960s I was laid off from a sandblasting job in San Carlos, California on a Friday (my paycheck bounced by the way) and hit the bricks on Monday and found a similar unadvertised job with a competitor about three miles away. My pay at the time was $2.35 an hour. The work was hard.

In August of 1970, the Foster City Public Safety Department hired me and between then and July 1977 I worked for two Bay Area police departments. Most of that work was in communications and dispatching, but I was also a sworn officer and rode shifts alone and with other officers at the Atherton Police Department. It was great fun. During that time I also served as a paid on call firefighter at Foster City.

But I yearned to write and in the mid-1970s I went back to college to study journalism and eventually gave up the police work and moved to Michigan to attend Michigan State University to study journalism. I picked up a job as a bouncer at the Coral Gables bar on Grand River Avenue to make a little extra money. At that time we were living on the GI bill and money we had taken from my police retirement account.

Somehow I ended up as editor-in-chief of The State News, which at that time was the nation's largest daily college newspaper, leading a staff of 56 editorial employees. That experience left me with many lifelong friends and the knowledge that this was what I was born to do.

In the late 1970s, after leaving MSU, I was editor of a local weekly newspaper and a change in ownership forced me to quit when the new publisher demanded editorial changes that ethically I was not willing to make. For six weeks I hauled 80-pound bags of soft water salt to Lansing apartment complexes to make 35 cents a bag for each one I dumped. That kept me going through Christmas 1979 and then I took a job in January 1980 doing internal communications for a large Styrofoam cup manufacturer in Mason, Michigan.

A good friend who was working as a reporter at the Oakland Press in Pontiac let me know of a police reporter job opening in December 1983 and I started there the first week of January 1984.

My 23-year daily newspaper career was more fun than could be possibly described. Every day was a gift, most stories were a wonderful adventure and except for the occasional incompetent editor, it was a great ride. The bad editors are a source of constant amusement, even now.

There were days, like the one where my assignment was to fly on a World War II B-24, Liberator bomber, that I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. I was paid overtime to attend the clinching World Series game at Tiger Stadium in 1984. Life was good.

So I thank God for leading me to such a rewarding career.

My very first job I landed at 12. I did yard work at $1 an hour for my church and pastor in La Crescenta. Each Saturday, I rode my bike two miles to the church and rectory (which were next door to each other) and trimmed bushes, raked pine needles and mowed lawns.

Later when $8 a week was not enough to pay for my school lunches and Los Angeles Dodger baseball games (my brother and I had to buy our own school lunches if we didn't want bologna sandwiches every day and also pay for our own amusement) I located another yard work job at "The Brass Tree," a woman's clothing store on Foothill Boulevard within walk/bicycle riding distance of the church.

Between the yard work jobs, some babysitting work and other odd jobs I was making about $100 a month, which was plenty in the 1950s-60s. I could take my girlfriend out for a night on the town (dinner an a movie) for about $15. When I was old enough to drive I was expected to pay for my gas and insurance when I used the family car.

When I left Los Angeles after high school and moved in with my father and stepmother, I worked as a 'fly boy' for Pacific Lithograph, a printer in San Francisco. I loved commuting to work in the city and all that went with that.

When my first try at college failed I joined the Navy and spent some time growing up in the service. That included two tours of duty in Vietnam.

I have worked as a gas jockey, back in the days gas stations had "service." I was pretty much willing to do anything to make money, as long as it was legal. During my years on the police department I often worked special details and also worked an outside third job as a temp using my typing skills as a teletype operator at a Silicone Valley company to make extra money.

My police department pay when I started was about $500 a month and we were paid monthly. Without the extra work we would always fall short by the end of the month. Sometimes even with the extra work we still fell short of money.

I've probably had 40 different jobs in my life, each came with its own lessons and rewards. Each taught me something I could use for my next job. To me there is no dishonor in honest work. I respect folks who work hard and get their hands dirty.

My children and stepchildren have never been afraid to work either. I'm proud of them for that.

Retirement, at least to me, doesn't mean being idle. I have plenty of volunteer jobs that I am already involved in and, there's a big travel trailer in my driveway that wants to take me to the far reaches of America.

And I'll have the blog to keep me writing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Connor Doran, a young man with a talent

A former colleague and his wife, Tim and Amy Doran, have raised a remarkable young man that some of us knew as an infant. Following is a that a friend posted on Facebook.

A great post for a Sunday.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life after Booth: Bay City Times environmental reporter leaves, starts website

Jeff "Mr. Great Lakes" Kart, the former environmental reporter for the Bay City Times has started his own website.

As readers here know, I'm not what you'd call an environmentalist. I believe in recycling, conservation and protecting the environment. While I don't subscribe to popular man made global warming theories, I'm always willing to listen and consider real evidence.

So stop over and see a former Booth colleague who is now out on his own. We wish you good luck and good fortune Jeff.

He has some great suggestions on how to find out if your beach destination is safe. We do disagree on Larry King, who I believe may be the worst interviewer in the history of television.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When Generals attack

Apparently General Stanley A. McChrystal, President Obama's main man in Afghanistan went off the reservation in a big way in, of all places, Rolling Stone magazine. By now, you've heard all the soundbites and controversy, or can easily find it, but as much as I disagree with much of what President Obama has done and continues to do, he doesn't have much wiggle room here.

The only choice President Obama has is to fire the general. Anything else would be weak and would hurt not just his Presidency but future ones. Generals, especially ones in charge of a war, must serve only one master, the President.

If General McChrystal was unhappy with the progress of the war or the support, or lack of support he was getting, he had the option to resign and then make those complaints as a civilian. To do it while still under the authority of the President was simply wrong.

So like another famous General (MacArthur in Korea), McChrystal is on his way to explain himself to his boss. This can't go well. In fact, if the President's advisers had any savvy they've fire him now before he has a chance to resign.

McChrystal had to know the impact these comments would have, especially since he was talking to Rolling Stone (good for them, by the way in achieving a huge scoop).

The problem for Obama, of course, is once McChrystal is a civilian he will be free to unload on the President, his staff, the war strategy and anything else without any brakes on his opinions.

Like President Truman, President Obama has no choice but to try and weather the storm of firing a general. The alternative is too destructive to the good order of the service.

I feel badly for the morale of the troops serving in an already difficult conflict with all this fighting on Mt. Olympus.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A smile at the expense of Congress

*The Haircut**

**One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut.**

**After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot
accept money from you , I'm doing community service this week.' The florist
was pleased and left the shop.**

**When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank
you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.**

**Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill,
the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you , I'm doing
community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.**

**The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you'
card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.**

**Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his
bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing
community service this week.' The Congressman was very happy and left the

**The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen
Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.**

**And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the
citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.**


Well, that was fun

No one will ever feel sympathy for BP, certainly not me, but you had to love yesterday's hearings which resembled a Roman Coliseum event with the head of BP being thrown to the lions.

This was not about getting answers, it was about getting votes. From the idiot Republican apologizing, to the angry posturing of everyone else it was pure theater. These public floggings are great television and who can turn away from watching a bad accident on the freeway, but what did we learn after all the questions yesterday.

Bupkis. Zero, zip, nada, diddly squat.

When you threaten a company and their head with criminal sanctions, what do you expect? The guy is never going to come clean (pun intended) with a federal criminal investigation hanging over his head. Better to do the investigation and charge them and find out the answers in court. But there's no sound bites and votes if you do that.

So no thinking person, which leaves out Congress, would expect that someone would show up and actually tell the truth or give a frank assessment of what they know. But the cameras were on and the lions were loose. Like I said, it was fun, just not very enlightening.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gulf Oil Disaster, revisited

Six weeks ago I wrote a post that drew some criticism from supporters of President Obama because I criticized the federal government for a slow response (again) to a disaster in the Gulf.

Bush and his administration were slow to react to the disaster in Katrina and again, in my humble opinion, the Obama administration and red tape have snarled efforts to contain and clean up the spill in the Gulf.

I agree with those who say you can't blame President Obama for the spill, anymore than you could blame W for a hurricane. But the response to both is what is in question.

Apparently we have declined foreign help to clean up the mess and it took six weeks for the Army Corps of Engineers (think levees) to approve a small part of the Louisiana governor's plan to dredge a protective barrier to protect the coast.

Last night the President gave a speech that left me scratching my head. The plan to clean up the gulf is apparently rooted in the effort to pass an energy bill. What?

Tough talk is one thing, constructive action and leadership is another. Please Mr. President, get on the phone and tell the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to get the lead out.

For those who argued with me that the President had no role in this disaster (what can he do?, they said) let me remind you that the President himself said he was in charge. If he is in charge, then we have the right to criticize.

Maureen Dowd, no conservative apologist has turned suddenly very critical. This from Salon .com.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Going it alone for news: Not as easy as it seems

Reflections of a Newsosaur has some reflections on journalists trying to go it alone. You may have to scroll up from the comments to read the article. Couldn't get a direct link to the article.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another "not-so-green" house for Al Gore

Now that Al and Tipper are breaking up (and I do feel badly about that) you'd think he'd use that as an opportunity to green up his living quarters. According to USA Today, not so much. Those profits from "Inconvenient Truth" are helping finance a pretty "Convenient Lifestyle."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Some 'new' media ideas

My friend and former colleague Mary Ann, who knows as much about online news stuff as anyone I know, is participating in a weekend conference in Detroit called "Journalism That Matters." Not my cup of tea, but at least some folks are trying to figure out a new journalism model, which puts them far, far ahead of the 'old' thinkers in the business. Mary Ann has posted her thoughts and a link to pictures of the event at her blog, Inside Out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A word about comments

OK, time to revisit the comment rules. After bragging a couple days ago that I had not rejected a comment for over a year I was forced to do just that today. Feel free to call me an "idiot" or any name you like, but I will not post any comment that refers to a third party in a derogatory way.

So to the anonymous poster who called a former colleague an "idiot," look in a mirror, I think you'll find an idiot there. So my unbroken string of no rejections is now over, but I'll take a good debate here anytime, but keep it civil.

Monday, May 31, 2010

FDR's prayer on the invasion of D-Day

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's prayer on the night of the D-Day Invasion. (Guess FDR didn't get the memo on separation of church and state - thank goodness).

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.


A small man, but a big life

This made me think about all the ridiculous complaining I do. It also reminded me of a story I once found at a school board meeting in North Branch about Jessica Parks, a young woman born with no arms who did more with her life than 90 percent of the people I knew. The night I was there she was honored for her school spirit. Because I was swamped with work I handed off her story to a feature writer - Carol - who did a magnificent piece on the girl after spending many hours with her and her mother. Eventually it ended up as a segment on ABC's 20/20 as a result of Carol's initial story. I could not find the video, but there is plenty of video of Jessica on Because of the ridiculous archiving system I couldn't find the 2002 feature, but this link will take you to some video.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A reporter and a goat, another great Saturday story

Sometime back I wrote about former reporter Ken Palmer (I don't think he'll mind me mentioning his full name here) and his famous Saturday shift with assignments to a goat milking exhibition, followed closely by a clogging exhibition.

Today, I found this goat story that some reporter had to file, Ken would be happy to know that others have not been spared.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some thoughts for Memorial Day

It is the
not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is
not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the
salutes the Flag,

It is
who serves
under the Flag,


Please fly your flag today in honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm living in the Land of Tomorrow

When I was about 9 years old my parents took me to Disneyland in Anaheim on the second or third weekend that it was open. It was a drive of a little more than an hour from my home and my head nearly exploded when we arrived in the expansive parking lot and I could see the beautiful park approaching. (Photo is a view of Disneyland from the air on opening day)

Everything about the park seem unreal, but very exciting. At the time I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world to actually be at this magical place.

One of the things I remember was the "Land of Tomorrow" exhibit, which I believe was sponsored by General Electric. Moving displays showed the dreams and future inventions that GE believed were on the near and far horizon.

The one I was especially intrigued with was the display that showed two people talking on the phone and yet being able to see each other on television screens at the same time. That seemed so fanciful as to be impossible at the time.

At that time a long distance phone call was a big deal. They cost a lot and we had an egg timer by the phone so that no one would talk too long and run up a big bill. We planned and anticipated making a long distance phone call to the point that everyone would gather near the phone so we could pass the phone quickly from person to person to save time. It rarely happened more than a couple times a month. Handwritten letters were the communications staple of that day.

Last night, I downloaded Skype (I've had the computer for two years and didn't realize I could do this) and within minutes was talking to our daughter in Boston looking at her wonderful face on my computer screen as she watched me pick my nose on her end. I even got to meet her new cat, although I mostly saw its butt.

My son Tim apparently has the same connection and I tried to reach him unsuccessfully.

It's kind of cool to have lived long enough to be in "The Land of Tomorrow."
"To all who come to this happy place: -Welcome- Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past ... and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America ... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."
—Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955 4:43pm