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Archive for the 'Akron' Category

Definitely an inspiration…

Monday, January 15th, 2007

So, I just stopped at Ohio.com (The Beacon Journal) to see today’s stories. The top local story stopped me dead in my tracks. The photo above it was a familiar face. It was Andy.

Andy was injured — well that word doesn’t quite begin to cover it — two years ago today, apparently, in an industrial accident. He lost the entire bottom half of his body, pretty much from his waist down. Today’s is a follow-up story about how he’s doing now.

I graduated from high school with Andy and shared several classes and activities with him. What makes the entire event so sad for me is that Andy was this ridiculously bouncy, spirited person. He and Dan used to rap Dr. Seuss rhymes and break dance to them in the cafeteria and hallways of my high school. He used to jump around doing cartwheels and back flips as the school’s mascot. He was also pretty much the funniest guy and never missed a chance to make a joke.

I have followed his progress a little since the accident. We were never great friends, but still it’s one of those topics that pops up when you run into other fellow grads. Plus, the Beacon has done several stories on the incident/his recovery. This article stopped me because it puts the world in perspective. How much he lost and yet how much he still has and gives. I hope he gets the help he needs.

What could possibly hurt more (than a toothache)?

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Dr: “On a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being not at all and 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced — how would you rate your pain?”
Mer: “Pretty close to 10.”

I used to think an earache was the most painful ailment possible.

I based this on my two decades of accidents, injuries and illness. I’ve fallen from the top of trees and been run over by a lawnmower. I’ve broken arms, legs and fingers, torn ligaments, sprained my ankles a dozen times and pulled my shoulder blades out of place more than once. I had the chicken pox twice. I am and always have been accident prone.

But this week I discovered the worst pain in the world is nothing I’ve experienced before. The crown had previously belonged to the two ear infections I had my freshman year of college, but even when coupled with the respitory infection I had simultaneously, they don’t compare to the pain throbbing in my head right now.

The worst pain I’ve ever experienced is a toothache.

It started hurting last week, and I tried to ignore it. Took some excedrin and tylenol and wiped on some abesol hoping it would go away. I don’t have the money or time to deal with it. You see one of those lovely things that happens when you graduate from college is that you’re no longer covered by your parents insurance. Great time to get a toothache, wouldn’t you say?

Well my ignorance is bliss method didn’t work. By Sunday night I was in so much pain I couldn’t even eat dinner. I tried to go to sleep. I couldn’t. It hurt so bad I thought my brain was going to explode. Seriously. I don’t know if it’s possible. But that’s what it felt like, as if any moment the throbbing would become too much and my brain would just explode from the pressure.

So, after a few hours of listening to me cry, my mom forced me to the ER. The doctor gave me a few shots of what I suspect was just novicaine (which barely worked anyway because that stuff has no effect on me) and a couple prescriptions for antibotics and painkillers.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I HATE taking medicine. It’s like admitting defeat. It’s admitting that it hurts so much that I can’t reason my way out of it. But it hurt so bad I didn’t care what I was admitting; I couldn’t handle the pain. Unforunately, I had forgotten how much Vicodin knocks me out. (The last time it was prescribed after surgery, I took one and flushed the rest because it made me so out of it.) SO this week — when I need to be packing and preparing everything for my move this weekend, when I need to say my goodbyes to everyone and wrap up loose ends everywhere — instead of doing what I need to do, I’m so dead I can’t do anything but lay in bed and sleep and think about everything I don’t have enough energy to do.

My appointment to have the tooth removed (because anything that hurts this bad doesn’t deserve to be in my mouth, and because the Dr. said it was probably my wisdom tooth coming in that caused the tooth to break) is first thing tomorrow morning. Hopefully this pain will dull or die after that. Otherwise, my head may explode. But it also sucks because any follow-up appointments will mean I have to find a new dentist asap because I’m moving Friday.

Has anyone else noticed how I have the worst luck and timing ever? Anyone?

Family gatherings, conversation

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Perhaps it’s because my family is so big (my parents both have lots of siblings and lots of children), or maybe it’s because we all like to talk — a lot… But we have some interesting and hilarious discussions. To hit a few points of conversation at last night’s Christmas Eve gathering and tonight’s Christmas gathering:

  • Internet dating tips from my 40-something uncles, including “Don’t even consider anyone without a picture,” “If they’re obstructed by a peice of furniture, don’t waste your time,” “There’s something wrong if they’re waaaaay in the background, and you just see a tiny dot,” “Always meet for coffee or drinks during the day… Meeting for dinner is just asking for trouble,” “Anyone with like 20 photos of themselves thinks they’re hot stuff…,” “Everybody lies,” and more.
  • Spanish lessons for the whole family from Brandiann, including apparently saying “Yo” as in “Yo tengo” or “Yo necessito” or “Yo anything” only serves to emphasis the “I”. It’s redundant/unnecessary. It also makes you sound self-centered.
  • The finer points of Spanish insults from Brandiann and my dad (who picked up some terminology during his stint many years ago driving cab in Southern California). Since you couldn’t be there, I’ll point you to the comment left by my sister a few weeks back.
  • The trade secrets of selling meat from a truck, courtesy of my little brother. Need I say more?
  • My younger cousin telling us that apparently if you shoplift from Wal-Mart and the value of the items is less than $25, you get to keep it. I don’t think I’d take my chances, but the discussion prompted by this kept us laughing.
  • Now that the youngest “kid” among the cousins is well into high school, we have resigned ourselves to the kitchen kids table, leaving — for once — empty seats at the adults table in the dining room.

That’s just a sampling of the random conversations that occurred. Also, much discussion focused on my career/job prospects, my cousin’s new camera (which I literally spotted from across the room with my innate “new technology sensor”), and teaching my grandpa to use his new DVD player.

Tomorrow is our annual “Christmas Dinner” at Papa Joe’s in the valley. That means three consecutive nights with the extended family. But it’s fun, especially this year as I realize soon I won’t be able to attend our regular Sunday night dinners. (Not that I made many this year because I worked from about noon to 2 a.m. on Sunday’s supervising the Stater.) Nor will I make it home for every Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc. holiday to see them as often as I do now. So it’s nice to kind of round out the year spending lots of time with them.

I just hope I don’t make a repeat of the year before last, when I had to leave to go to the emergency room for stitches because I, apparently, can’t cut a roll. I still have the scar on my finger.

I thought my family was big

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

In today’s Beacon, there’s a column about a family with 16 children and how they deal with the holidays. Can you imagine how crazy that would be?

I thought my family — seven kids… five older sisters and one younger brother — was too big to manage. I can’t even imagine being one of 16.

Hyper-local is the future? Yeah, no sh…

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Apparently, the Beacon publisher has a vision for the future of the paper, and *cough* surprise, it’s local, local, local. Welcome to the rest of the industry.

The newspaper will roll out its “Neighborhood Express” initiative in January, which includes a full page devoted to bites of news from as many communities as will fit.

The new community-news page will appear on Page B3 five times a week, Moss said, with the editorial and op-ed pages returning to the newspaper’s A section. There will be related advertising and circulation efforts as well.

“It’s a block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach to growing our readership and growing our advertisers,” he said.

This is the right move. It is a necessary move that every paper needs to make if it wants to continue to be relevant. What is considered news will continue redefining itself and perhaps regressing in the months and years that are ahead. News is, always has been and always will be what people want to know. And lucky for newspapers who pay attention to this trend, people really want to know about their communities.

I think the one undeniable strength papers like the Beacon and others have is they can cover their community in a way nobody else can. I can read about the latest presidential decree on CNN or NYTimes.com, and in fact, I probably will. They’re going to have it first and with better access than the other papers who are waiting on an AP story to come through. However, nobody else is going to tell me about the new buildings being built in my school district or about the cab flying through the window of a popular downtown restaurant. The only sources I have for that news are local. And newspapers are good, and getting better when coupled with the Web, at getting out such stories with context and relevance that make them compelling enough for me to pick up the paper and read.

I’m glad my hometown paper decided to join the hyper-local party the rest of the industry recognized months (or perhaps even longer) ago.

How young is too young for a cell phone

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

I got my first cell phone at 15. I wasn’t the first kid with one, but I certainly was in the minority at that time. My brother got his when he was 14, even younger than me. My sister Brandiann had a pager in middle school. (Wow, remember when pagers were the cool thing to do?!)

At the time, having a cell phone in school was a very definite “don’t,” and teachers regularly confiscated them from students. My cell phone only ever rang in class one time. AP Calculus senior year. I remember diving at my bag and grabbing it to hit ignore so fast that I almost fell out of my seat.

Today, high school and college students are almost expected to have cell phones. I don’t know anyone in college who doesn’t have one. I also don’t know anyone in college who has a landline. It’s just a cultural thing.

But still, when my sister bought my 11-year-old nephew a cell phone for his birthday in June, I raised my eyebrows. Certainly 11 is too young for a cell phone. But then my sister told me recently, she thinks she’s going to get a family plan and put both my nephews on it with her. My nephews are 11 and 7. What 7 year old needs a cell phone?!

I was reminded of this when I read David Giffel’s column in the Beacon. He brings up the current/possible cell phone ban the Akron Public Schools is considering:

… this is also an opportunity to teach a larger and more basic lesson: What you want is not the same as what you need.

Children want cell phones. In order to keep them during the school day, they will try to convince grown-ups that they need cell phones. Most adults can see through this argument, and most adults understand that children can’t have everything they want.

If you are climbing the Alps, you need a cell phone.

If you are in fourth-period algebra, you do not need a cell phone.

If you are driving cross-country, you need a cell phone.

If you are having lunch in the cafeteria, you do not need a cell phone.

If you are an embedded reporter in Iraq, you need a cell phone.

If you are making a pit stop at your locker, you do not need a cell phone.

Grown-ups know this. They went to school in the 20th century, when children somehow managed to get through six hours of classes without a constant wireless connection to the outside world. They talked to the people around them without interrupting the conversation to talk to someone else who was not in the room.

It’s true though. There is a huge difference between wanting and needing a cell phone. And I can say from experience, cell phones are distracting, and high school students really don’t need any more distractions (what with hormones, college, parents, work, friends, life… to keep them perpetually occupied). Plus, there is the concern over cheating/passing answers to each other. If the instructor is diligent and pays 10 seconds of attention, he’ll notice a kid looking under his/her desk at a phone or heaven forbid the more obvious taking a picture of the test with his phone.

I never had a problem with cell phones or pagers being confiscated in class. They are distracting and unnecessary in class. But let high school students have cell phones. Why not in the hall ways or cafeteria at lunch? Who cares if you choose to talk to someone else then? You’re not distracting from education. As long as you get to class on time, put the ringer on silent and pay attention, who cares who you talked to between classes/at lunch?

There was mention of the cell phone ban issue in Al’s Morning Meeting, including a story from The Milwalkee Journal Sentinal about students cheating with cell phones.

What it really comes down to is this, ban them or don’t it won’t matter. As the MJS story says, “it is obvious to anyone around a high school or middle school — and sometimes even elementaries — that a vast majority of students carry them and use them frequently.” The trick will be balancing the students desire to carry them with their need to stay focused on the task at hand. Making them a forbidden fruit is not going to achieve the desired outcome.

The Beacon…

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Obviously, as anyone who actually reads my blog can tell, I love the Beacon Journal. The Beacon is my “hometown paper,” and even though it’s technically a metro, it has always felt like my local paper (a vibe I definitely don’t get from the Plain Dealer). I read it every day. When I have time to stop and buy it in print, I do. But even when I can’t, such as all summer when I was in Findlay, I still read Ohio.com throughout the day to keep up with the latest Akron news.

All that said, I just want to comment on a few stories from today…

First, I saw they gave out the monthly Do the Right Thing awards yesterday. This program is always great, and it holds special meaning for me because when I was in 8th grade, I was in the very first group of students to receive the award. That was a decade ago. I wonder if the officers who organized the program ever saw it taking off as much as it did. This is also the type of story many reporters dread, but it proves my mantra of “everything’s important to someone.” It’s not about corruption or about telling the untold story. It’s just about giving little kids and their families something to smile about because everyone can read about them in the paper. How do I know? Well, somewhere around here, I still have the clipping with my name and headshot that ran with the article the day I got the award.

Second, although I don’t understand the headline, this was a cute story… However, I am left wondering… what Wal-Mart at the Stow-Kent Plaza? There of course isn’t one. There’s a K-Mart that’s going out of business. There’s a Wal-Mart in Stow, which is what he’s talking about, but it’s at least a 10 minute drive from the Stow-Kent Plaza. I don’t recognize the byline. He is apparently a BJ business writer, which is probably why I don’t know the name as well as the metro reporters. But he could be new and from out of the area, which is the point of bringing this up… A local would have (and several beside me probably did when they read the line) scratched their head and said, that’s not right. But if you weren’t from the area, you probably wouldn’t have had occasion to know the particularities of what makes up the Stow-Kent Plaza. But still, an editor or someone in copy should have caught that; for all I know, one of them could have inserted it, creating a fact error by trying to give more context to the location. So, how did it get through? Because, chances are they’re new, too, or just plain busy. (I know several students who’ve been hired PT for copyediting. All of them good, but none of them are Akronites.) It definitely makes me hope that wherever I take a job, I’m able to pick up on these little nuances about the city and that I have editors who know the town well enough to do the same.