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Archive for March, 2007

QOTD: In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail

Monday, March 26th, 2007

“In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”
— Vince Lombardi

“I’m 70… I’m not interested in whatever.com.”

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Today, I took a complaint from a 70-year-old woman.

The woman was completely level-headed and polite in her call. She wasn’t lodging a complaint against me or even against the paper, per se. She was mad about our Web site. She was mad that our Web site existed. And she was really mad that we are always referring to it in the print edition.

“I’m 70 years old,” she began. “I don’t have a computer. I’m never going to get a computer. I’m not interested in whatever .com. I just want my news.”

She referred to a specific column that always runs online as what put her over today. There was a blurb from it in the print edition with a refer to the site to read the rest.

I wasn’t sure what to say, really. This complaint was so counter-intuitive to my training and thinking. I just explained to her that what we put online is supplemental to what runs in the paper. There is still just as much news in the paper as ever before — more, actually, following a complete overhaul of the paper last summer. And I told her that what the Internet allows us to do is add more information that in the past we wouldn’t have been able to fit in the printed paper at all.

Her reply? “If there isn’t enough space to run it in the paper, it shouldn’t run at all.”

Sigh. I don’t know if I made her feel any better, but I think she just wanted to make sure she vented her frustration (and that of her “friends who are also elderly and aren’t interested in the Internet or computers”). Not that it will impact anything, but I did tell the managing editor after I hung up. I figured I should at least let her point be known.

But, this really struck a chord with me. I wonder how many people there are out there like her? In our rush to get more, faster, online… who are we actually leaving behind? Does a 70-year-old reader mean any less than a 27-year-old one? (If you ask the advertisers, yes. But that is beside the point.) I don’t know. True the 27-something has much more potential for future readership, and the 70-year-old has already established a lifetime reading habit she’s unlikely to just quit now. But should we punish her for being old-fashioned or uncomfortable with technology? Should we punish her for being loyal to the dead-tree edition as we lament the declining circulations?

There really isn’t a solution. And unfortunately, this woman and others like her are on the losing side of a battle that’s going to continue for a very long time. The woman’s argument that “computers will be the downfall of us” isn’t new. But for the first time, she made me actually think that there was an opposite to the movement toward online journalism. It doesn’t change my views or opinions, but it has made me more aware and sensitive to the fact that there is a whole facet of the world, including my community, that can’t or simply doesn’t want to “check out more at jconline.com.” It’s worth considering.

QOTD: I would rather be ashes than dust

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark would burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
— Jack London

A free book? Sweet.

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

About a month ago, I stumbled upon this Web site, The Great American Book Giveaway.

The basic premise is each week they pick five random (but often) popular/best-selling books. You choose which one you’d most like to receive, type in your e-mail address, and if you’re chosen, they send you the book.

They send an e-mail when you submit your entry each week and then, if you don’t win, a reminder at the end of the week to check out the new crop and enter this week.

So, this has been going on for several weeks. I figured there was no harm in entering. I love reading, and I spend entirely too much money on books. (One day I will take a photo of just the two dozen or so books in my backlog. And yes, I am aware that it’s cheaper to go to the library. Thank you to the dozen co-workers and friends who’ve told me that. One of these days, I’ll get around to signing up with the Tippecanoe County Library or West Lafayette Library. But for now, I kind of like being able to see my personal stacks and reading a good book that I can then pass along to someone else who might enjoy it.)

So, the idea that I might actually win one of these books seemed impossible, or at least highly improbable. I’ve only ever won one thing over the Internet. Incidentally, it was a book also, and it was for correctly identifying the author of some quote on a quote-a-day listserv I subscribed to. But that was way back in high school. Therefore, when I got an e-mail tonight from the site, I figured it was the weekly “you didn’t win, but enter this week’s contest.” Instead, it said, Congratulations! You’ve been randomly selected to win …

Apparently the book I chose last week when I entered was “How Do You Work This Life Thing?” by Lizzie Post. Sounds like it could be interesting, though I’d never heard of it before the contest. I think that’s part of the point, to expose you to good books you might never hear about. If you want to see a list of the books they’ve featured in the past, they keep an archive with links to book/author information.

We’ll see if the book actually arrives. And when it does, it’ll go in the stack — right next to the books I bought at Border’s tonight. Yeah. I know. I need to stop going to Border’s/Barnes & Noble/Used Bookstores/Amazon.com. I can’t read the books as fast as I buy them. Some people buy shoes. I buy books. (OK, I have a lot of shoes, too. But a lot more books.)

QOTD: Live to the point of tears

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

“Live to the point of tears.”
— Albert Camus

I saw this quote on the wall in one of the classrooms I was in today. It pretty quickly sums up how I think you should approach life. No use holding back anything, no point having reservations. Give it everything you’ve got and be willing to take all the emotions, triumphs and disappointments that are inherent in doing so.

I decided this is the quote I’m going to have engraved on the next iPod I buy. My current iPod has Gandhi’s words along the same theme, as a reminder of how I want to live: “My life is my message.” My 4th generation iPod had, “For some moments in life, there are no words.” enscribed on the back.

Some people put funny quips. For me? I figure any device that’s going to hold my life’s soundtrack ought to bear a message about how I want the years to unfold.

QOTD: Be prepared to adapt, willing to risk, eager to dream…

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

“Be prepared to adapt. Be willing to risk. Be eager to dream. If you are, your dreams will surely come true.”
— Bill Frist

I’m a picky eater, what can I say?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

J&C staffers rotate writing a weekly column called “The View From Here.” My first column ran in today’s paper. I talked about my weird eating habits. And yes, I know they are weird. Anyway, here’s a link to the column, and here’s the text:

Picky eating habits weird to some


I’m weird. At least when it comes to food.

That’s what Brian, the Purdue reporter who sits across the aisle from me, says every time he brings in a new food I don’t like.

It’s not that he’s adventurous and I’m not. I’m just picky.

First it was the dark chocolate M&Ms he offered me. But lots of people don’t like dark chocolate. I’m more of a peanut M&M girl.

On that note, I like peanuts but not peanut butter, which given the recent salmonella outbreak is probably a good thing.

I also don’t like popcorn, my mother’s favorite food. It has the consistency of Styrofoam when you bite into it, and the kernels have a tendency to get stuck in my teeth.

Brian says that’s the best part. I think he’s weird.

Other “normal” foods you’re unlikely to find me ingesting include fried chicken, lunch meat and pizza. Yeah, pizza.

OK, hating pizza is kind of weird. But I have my reasons. It’s greasy. Plus pepperoni, sausage and whatever else all kind of mix and sit in my stomach.

And if you ever invite me over for breakfast, you should know I don’t do bacon or scrambled eggs either.

My picky eating habits haven’t stopped me from trying new foods. As with everything in life, I have to try something at least once before I’ll write it off.

I’ve forced myself to put the idea of raw fish out of my mind and tried sushi. It was OK, but not an experience I’d go out of my way to repeat.

I’ve crunched my way through dried seaweed that went down like salted toothpicks. I’m not quite sure what ever prompted me to try that delicacy.

But those aren’t the types of things you eat every day.

So, that leaves the question Brian always asks and which my mom tried to answer every night as I echoed the sentiments of the little girl in the Pediasure commercial, “I don’t like broccoli.” That is, “What do you like?”

My favorite food is hard shell tacos, but Mexican of any variety is usually a good bet.

I also love Italian food. My grandma’s spaghetti and meatballs rank a close second on my favorites list.

My mom’s spaghetti isn’t bad either, and it’s the only thing I’ve ever had that actually tasted better as a leftover.

I also love vegetables, but mostly in the raw form. Cooked carrots or string beans, no thanks. But please pass the celery and raw broccoli.

I haven’t found an incarnation of potato I don’t like, yet. But mashed potatoes must be homemade, don’t waste my time on flakes from a box.

Likewise, I love mac and cheese. But if the cheese started the meal out as a powder, leave it off my plate.

This isn’t to say I’m a snob for home cooked meals. Ask my roommates; they use my pans more in one day than I do in a week.

I got through college on half-hour commutes home, Chipotle burritos, Southwest chicken wraps from the cafeteria, cinnamon dolce lattes at Starbucks and ramen noodles — lots of ramen.

Now that I’m six hours away from my parents’ home cooking, and God only knows when the next time I’ll get to sample grandma’s meatballs will be, I may have to take up cooking myself.

In the meantime, where can a girl find good Mexican or Italian food in this town?

Following this, I was made fun of for a good five minutes for not liking popcorn. Apparently, I just haven’t had it made right. Though, as I told them, I didn’t know there was a wrong way to make popcorn.

My editor says he has a pan dedicated solely to popping popcorn, and it’s pretty amazing. He said the microwave stuff is all junk. To which I replied, “Didn’t you read to the end of the column? I don’t cook.”

I used to work at a bowling alley. Part of my job on Saturday nights was to make popcorn. We had this huge popcorn machine — it actually electrocuted me once, which is funny in hindsight but at the time seriously freaked me out as my right arm was numb for several minutes — and I had to you know measure the kernels, measure the oil, put in the right amount of butter. It wasn’t an exact science, but I made pretty good popcorn. I never ate it, but we always sold out, and everybody loved it. I can’t imagine it would have been the “wrong way” if so many people really liked it.

It really is less about the taste of the popcorn and more about the texture, and the fact that it gets stuck in my teeth. Please. Give me some chips and salsa, and I’m more than happy.