Wednesday, January 28, 2009


this and that, seen and heard

-- What kind of fool would take a job right now with an American automaker?
New role to lead a fast-paced internal news operation/content development team at a major global automaker.

It goes on to say it's in Detroit.

Honestly -- that's about as much job security as working for a newspaper these days. (Another one somewhere just laid off 29% of its newsroom staff. Don't get me started.)

--Sticker on top of an M&Ms vending machine -- you know, the put-a-quarter-in, get-a-handful kind, like gumball machines:
For information or service on this machine, call Candi

Candi hawking candy. Gotta love it. (And yes, I *have* heard all the "do you want some candy, Candy?" and "candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker" -- Devra actually wrote that in my yearbook one year in HS :-D -- and the cracks about how I should marry someone named "Barr" or "Kane" jokes, tyvm.)

-- Kids these days: WHY do they not think about what they post online? One of my acquaintance (not my kid, luckily!) decided to post half-naked photos of himself on his Facebook page as part of his "modeling portfolio." Be that as it may, I'm afraid it's going to bite him in the butt at some point and that he should just put the pix in a binder like everybody else and take them around to agents or whatever. I don't know why they don't understand that the Internet -- unlike youth and beauty -- is forever. They're semi-"artsy" pictures, not gross ones, but it's still disconcerting.

Or, maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy. It's entirely possible.

-- I just went cosmetics shopping for the first time in -- oh, geeze, possibly this decade. Only wear it for special occasions. Had NO. IDEA. how expensive it's gotten! And a pox on the manufacturers who decided to make the packages as hard to open as shrinkwrapped CDs. It's a miracle I got the farkin' things open and on my face before I had to leave for this event.

And I'm all a-twitter because I get to meet a childhood hero, and how many people ever get that chance? The only thing is -- I haven't seen a recent picture. I know how *I've* aged in the last 30 years, but no idea how he has! LOL (For those of you who remember my obsession with Royals left fielder Tom Poquette, he's being inducted into the Eau Claire baseball hall of fame tonight -- he grew up here.) My ex-boss is on the board of this organization. We've chatted and emailed, but not seen each other since "The Day," so I don't know how awkward that will be. Not much, I hope.

Anyway, I'm bringing the camera and will post pix as soon as I have them and settle down some! :-D

Sunday, January 25, 2009

why small towns suck, part eleventy-billion

So this morning around 11:30, I'm camped out on the couch under about 900 blankets -- my living room is freezing. I have some tunes on and am happily plowing through the Sunday crossword. And the doorbell rings.

Now. Hardly anyone but my landlady ever comes over here, and she's seen me in everything from my nightshirt (summer) to 3 layers of sweats and socks (today), and she couldn't care less.

Mind you, I had yet to shower, so my hair was a disaster, I still had morning breath, etc. But assuming it was my landlady, I went ahead and opened the door.


The Chippewa Falls city attorney is campaigning for an open circuit court judge seat. Primary's in Feb., election's in April. I interviewed him for his last run, and ran into him at city council meetings and the like.

Remember: Sweats, morning breath, greasy hair, open the door. And there I behold Bob Ferg. Who looks at me and says, "Oh, hi, Candy!"

He split pretty quickly after handing me some campaign lit, so I suspect he was as embarrassed as I was.

I think I've blushed fewer than 5 times in my whole life, but DANG that was humiliating.

Now playing: Eric Hutchinson - Back to Where I Was
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, January 24, 2009

depressing stat of the day (newspaper edition)

Or, why I and about 700 people in the first 3 weeks of this new year no longer have newsroom jobs. (That's in addition to the 16,000 who lost them last year.)

The $5.6bn Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp paid in 2007 for Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal and several local papers, would now be sufficient to buy Gannett, the New York Times, McClatchy, Media General, Belo and Lee Enterprises, even at twice their current share prices.

Le sigh.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

i ate a donut and i liked it.

...and other random musings.

--Sugar addiction sucks.

Just sayin'.

My now-deceased dietitian told me it was OK to splurge on something sugar-laden once a week. (Apparently it didn't work for her...!) The trouble is, once I get the taste for it, I have a hard time stopping at once a week. Like, I would give body parts for cookies right now.

Yesterday my splurge was a large-ish cream-filled donut. Once upon a time, not so long ago, after doing the whole sugar detox thing, I was able to take a bite out of a donut and throw the rest away because it was too sweet and didn't taste good to me. But I am heading back down the slippery slope, it seems.

--Why do random people decide A) they know me from somewhere or B) I'm interested in having bizarre conversations with them? Yesterday at the grocery store, some old guy insisted he knew me. And a couple weeks ago, waiting for my therapist, another guy in the waiting room thought I would be a good person to spill all his very personal information to. I tried not to look shocked when he reported to me his dose of Risperdal, which was large enough to kill a horse. It certainly would have put me in a coma for a week or two. 2 mg was all I could ever handle. (BTW, it's used for schizophrenia and bipolar. If you don't know which one I have, you don't need to know.) My therapist was late, natch, proof that ESP doesn't work, because I was sending her mental telepathy to come rescue me.

--It's official: I'm old. I know this because technology has completely passed me by. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to set it up on YouTube so that only people I specified could see the videos I posted. I also have no farkin' idea how to export my address book from Yahoo to Gmail. These are the sorts of things that cause my 20-something nieces and nephews to grumble about "old people" and their stupidity.

Oh well. I can type. I know enough HTML to get by. It's gotta be good for something, right?!
Now playing: The Cure - Just Like Heaven
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lou Grant, reimagined for the 21st century

I've been catching up on my LG episodes today (there's a new channel on our cable system that runs them), and this seemed apt.

Thanks to The Paley Center for Media.
Development season—that time of year when writers and producers start pitching new shows to the networks for the Fall lineups—will be going full force soon. Since remakes are never out of vogue, I took it upon myself to watch an old episode of Lou Grant, the newspaper drama starring Ed Asner that ran on CBS 25 years ago. I wanted to see how it stood the test of time and what updates I could make to bring it into the 21st century, perhaps with a new title—Sam Zell.

For starters, there is a lot of waste at the fictional Los Angeles Tribune. There are three senior editor types on the show—Lou Grant, Charlie Hume, and Art Donovan. They all seem to duplicate each other and, I'll be honest, I can't figure out what Art does other than wear three-piece suits and make the occasional wisecrack. He's gone. Hume is getting up there so we can phase him out, too, with a nice buyout. That'll put a lot of work on Grant's back, but we all need to do more with less.

I've also been looking at Rossi's expenses. Sure he's a hot-shot investigative reporter, but does he have to keep meeting sources in parking lots? For starters, that's so All The President's Men, and secondly, if he's not going to bother validating while he's there, then we're not covering his costs anymore. And I'm still not quite sure how to translate breaking a story on some city council member taking kickbacks into ad dollars, and that is, after all, the business we are in. I'm reassigning Rossi to the entertainment beat. Gossip and celebrities are what moves papers off the shelves. We can let the AP handle local and national news.

Furthermore, reporters have to be able to multitask, which means no more staff photographers. With cell phones and digital cameras, anyone can be an Annie Leibovitz. The very idea that we need some expensive professional like Dennis "Animal" Price is absurd.

Now I see there is a cafeteria at the Tribune. It's not enough that we're paying these writers and giving them insurance, they want to be fed, too? Don't think so. There's no revenue to be made in having a mess hall for a bunch of prima donnas, especially with that taco truck parked right down the block.

Also, no more company cars. We're going green here. From now on its mass transit for all stories unless prior approval is given.

The culture of newspapers has also changed and this new series will reflect that as well. In an episode of the old Lou Grant, Rossi becomes the paper's unofficial ombudsman, monitoring other reporters for potential conflicts. He uncovers a bunch. An editor is married to someone who works for someone running for office. The food reporter is reprimanded for taking junkets, and the metro editor is too close to the owner of a local sports franchise.

Maybe some of this would have raised eyebrows in 1980, but this is 2009! We want our staff involved with the movers and shakers. These are the kinds of walls we need to be tearing down. If you're not inside, you're outside.

As for the junkets, how else are we going to afford to have a food correspondent unless someone is picking up the bill? Do we want a food section above reproach (whatever that means) or one that turns a profit?

There is also going to be a bigger focus on our web operation. Rossi should be blogging. The web is where our future is, even if we are giving away product we used to make money on. It's about traffic, and the dollars will follow.

And finally, much of the cast on the old Lou Grant wasn't exactly...attractive. We're going after the 18-34 demographic—is it too much to ask that our stars have more hair and less paunch? Except, of course, for the owner. I think we should see if Ed Asner is available, but only if he'll work cheap.

Now playing: 'Til Tuesday - Everything's Different Now
via FoxyTunes

Friday, January 16, 2009

caveat emptor.

You know that old saying, "you get what you pay for"?

It applies to $4 haircuts, too.

Uff da.

Oh well. It'll grow back. And maybe someday again I'll be able to afford $30 at an actual salon with actual trained stylists. (Did the cosmetology student thing today.)

Now playing: David Bowie - Suffragette City
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

things of which I am mega-mondo-mucho tired.

-- spending 3 hours every Tuesday night at the free clinic because they only take walk-ins and it's invariably packed. (It's not that I'm not grateful to have the resource, and all the volunteers are very friendly, kind and helpful. It's just that I never know how much time to budget for sitting there. Plus, the other folks in the waiting room can be kind of scary. Tonight there seemed to be an unusual number of big, hulking guys holding envelopes stamped "RETURN TO JAIL NURSE!")

-- "High" temperatures that are not only below freezing, but below zero.

-- Unemployment.

-- Competing with 16,000 other people in my field who are also out of work.

-- Asshats with degrees in some crap like "American studies" who get the good jobs at the national media outlets, not to mention book deals. Glad I wasted that time and money on a J-degree!

-- High school dropouts who make more per hour than I did with a master's.

-- Freezing. Did I mention freezing?

-- The cost of meds when you lack insurance.

-- Not being able to get insurance because you are "high-risk" in a million ways.

-- The fact that the state will throw zillions of dollars at unemployed, teenage mommies with 18 kids, but none to responsible, hard-working folks who have paid taxes for decades.

k, I'll stop whining now. Just needed to vent.

Now playing: Frank Sinatra - My Funny Valentine
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, January 11, 2009

only in Wisconsin.

Let me preface this by saying our HIGH temp Wed. is supposed to be -6 Fahrenheit. (In other words, ice-fishing season is in full swing.)
Runaway ice shanty ties up I-94
By Tom Held of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 10, 2009 8:47 p.m. | An ice shanty - or the remaining parts of one - slowed up traffic on westbound I-94 near Brookfield for a short time tonight.

The shanty being hauled on a trailer fell onto the highway about 7:20 p.m., according to Waukesha County Sheriff's Lt. Neil Dussault. Several motorists swerved to avoid the runaway hut, but one caught a side of the building and overturned.

Dussault reported that no one was injured in the accident.

Deputies closed the left lane for a time to clear the debris.

Friday, January 9, 2009

inventions: the good, the bad and the WTF??

Electricity: Good.
Nuclear warheads: Bad.
Top 2 contenders for WTF:

-- As I was walking through a parking lot, which was coated in probably an inch of ice, I nearly got run over by a little kid in Heelys. If you haven't had the pleasure, they're kind of a cross between tennies and roller skates, but with only one wheel -- in the heel -- ergo, Heelys. Kids love to rear back on the things and scoot, but I keep waiting for one to end up paralyzed or dead from it all going wrong....

-- Mug hotplate with USB ports Just bought one at Goodwill, because it was between that and the Packer crockpot, and I drink a lot more coffee and tea than I cook. ;-) But honestly: How big of a geek do you have to be to even think of the need for something like that?! :-D

it's all about taking the easy way out for you, i suppose....

Believe me, I understand trying to come up with a column topic on deadline. Lack of ideas generally leads to things like this, where you insert yourself into the story and make a couple quick phone calls (maybe) so that you have "other" viewpoints.

Here is today's from the second-in-command, editorially speaking, at my former employer. Please raise your hand if you find it clueless, tactless, thoughtless, or all of the above that he could bitch about something this trivial when he A) still has a job, unlike a number of his colleagues and B) said job pays him well enough to be able to afford it.


Now playing: Elliott Smith - I Better Be Quiet Now
via FoxyTunes

yeah, this is fair.

For the record, my "buyout" was less than $500 and the "privilege" of continuing my health insurance at the employee rate through the end of 2008 -- which came out of my less-than-$500 "buyout."

If Buffalo has that much cash, why are they canning people?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I needed a little cheering up, so I went and read all my positive Ebay feedback.

It really has come to this.

Just call me Eeyore..... :-\
Now playing: Eric Hutchinson - OK, It's Alright with Me
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, January 1, 2009

that says it all, doesn't it?

sorry -- I've just been really gloomy all day. Hope it goes away soon.
Now playing: Duncan Sheik - That Says It All
via FoxyTunes