Nine Set Sail

Weeks ago I posted about the downsizing at work. Tomorrow is the last day for five people who took voluntary buyouts.

There were nine positions to be cut. Two part-timers were let go and some proofreaders were switched to contract laborers, accomplishing some of it. Five people volunteered to leave and the rest of it was made up by asking and in at least one case requiring some to reduce hours. As it turned out nine full timers did leave. The announcement caused some to look elsewhere and a couple already had plans in the work. Four ended up taking jobs. They’ve all left already.

We had a little party for the main departing five tonight and at this event for a moment I had a sensation of real fear about what the newsroom will be like Monday. We’ve known this was coming for several weeks and have proceeded as normal. But life will be different Monday and it makes me kind of nervous.

One of the reporters who left had been with the company 38 years. I lose an editor who’s been a good boss. We lose a reporter who’s been a leader in standing up for the employees. And across the desk from me we lose an imaginative reporter and someone I would consider a friend.

The whole experience has caused me to take stock of my career choices. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I like being a reporter is I like being in the middle of all the community stuff. If I took on work elsewhere, I would miss that. The opportunity to get home earlier would probably more than make up for it. So would the money.

Today’s reality is there’s nothing in the works. And I still have an aspiration to oversee an editorial page one day. The whole point is I’ve had a moment to recognize that stability and security are largely mythical in terms of absolutes. I’m in a career I would love to do all the way up until the moment I die. Yet, I might one day, even soon, give it up voluntarily to discover joy in doing something else. It wouldn’t be just a new job, it would be a new me. And that might be, would probably be, OK.

Great Invitations

Dad got a letter and frankly I was crushed. It was an invitation to join a secret society and the letter was full of invitations to join the world of the wealthy. “It is really amazing how much promise we see in you,” they wrote. That’s what really set me off. They see promise in my dad? Not me? He’s 76, loves cop shows and makes monthly investments into the lottery. I’m 44, work spreading truth to the Kitsap masses have two brilliant children and one on the way and have lots more years left. I didn’t get the invite.

The letter smartly points out that it didn’t come by a mass mailing, that it came by first-class mail. Surely nothing bad can come in a letter that has an actual stamp on it.

The society is called the Nouveau Tech Secret Society. I guess since I read the letter, it’s not so secret anymore, now is it. You’re on my blog Nouveau Tech SECRET Society. You won’t be secret for long!

The letter says the members of the society analyzed my dad’s profile. Translated, that means they bought a mailing list my dad’s name was on. “you’d be unbelievably flattered if you knew who these individuals were,” it reads. Yep, I’m always thrilled when I find out the name of the telemarketer.

From what I’ve read, you get some materials, then you pay $140 for a big book.

On the bright side I got two free tickets to a full-day “celebrity conference,” with George, one of Trump’s gofers on “The Apprentice.” It came from American Fork, Utah. I’m thinking of going just to see if I know someone. Sadly I used to work for an outfit like this, and some of my former coworkers still do.

Paigeing My Past

In the winter of 1985 I was an intern for U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., when a group of us from BYU went to a Friday afternoon class with Lee Roderick.

http://www.idsos.idaho.gov/elect/bluebook/2002/callister.jpgRoderick was running Scripps League Newspaper’s Washington, D.C. bureau (where I would later do another internship) and was president of the National Press Club. Another intern, David Callister (That’s his mug on the left.) who later became a state legislator in Idaho, asked Roderick why reporters dressed so shabbily. I don’t remember Roderick’s answer, but the question stuck.

That was unfortunate, because for my last project in college in the summer of 1986 I chose to do a paper on how reporters dress. I could have chosen any topic – shield laws, public disclosure laws, ethics – but I went with the question of whether journalists should think seriously about darker socks. We were to submit these projects to five publications. It was no surprise I was rejected by all five.

For the project I interviewed the owner of a 1,000-circ. weekly in Iowa, an L.A. Times spokeswoman, a writer for the Herald in Everett, Wash. (she’s now at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver) a reporter from the Detroit Free Press and another from the Denver Post, Woody Paige.

http://espn-att.starwave.com/eoe/content/paige_small.jpgPaige gained national notoriety for his work on ESPN on Cold Pizza and Around the Horn.

That I had actually interviewed Paige about the summa important topic of how journalists dress was something I’d forgotten until a little over a year ago. I was helping my father move out of his house in Utah when amidst the old stuff I found the notes from my interview.

Consider also that Paige had passed through a tempest after slamming Mormons in a column during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Then he shows up on Cold Pizza and I still don’t remember him. It took finding the notes. And upon finding them it all fit.

The other sources I spoke with said the equivalent of “You have to dress appropriately for the occasion.” Paige said much the same thing, but also admitted “appropriate” for a reporter was a little different.

“I think there’s an image that newspaper reporters dress like slugs anyway,” Paige said.

http://www.bassweejuns.com/weejun.jpgSome of his views have changed some, based on his dress on TV. “I only own one tie. I don’t wear socks,” he said in 1986. He said he always wore Bass Weejuns with no socks. He said as long as a journalist didn’t look like a bum, it wouldn’t affect the work.

The next time they send out a memo at work about not wearing shorts on the job, I’m going to pull the Paige quotes.

A Case for Dale Murphy

As years progress, former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy’s chances of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame grow slimmer. It’s not just a shame, it’s an injustice.

His numbers begin with two MVP awards and two other times among the top 10. There were five Gold Glove awards and five times he was among the top 10 in on base percentage. Twice he led the league in slugging and six times was in the top 10. Seven times he was among the 10 best in run creation, leading the league four times. According to one site listing his accomplishments, a Sporting News survey of pitchers in 1985 ranked Murphy as the most feared hitter in the National League. I read someone saying the National League was weak when Murphy was dominant, but National League teams won the series five times during the 1980s, equal to the American League.

Aside from the numbers, let’s get to a couple of reasons he’s not getting into the hall and one major reason he should.

First off, he never played for a winner. Well, not a real winner anyway. The Braves did win the division in 1982 but were quickly dispatched in the playoffs by the Cardinals. Murphy was nice, but other than his height he didn’t stick out much with his personality. He probably would have had a better chance making it into the hall if he had punched a couple photographers or called a Met fan a flatus at least once during his career.

The second strike against him has been pretty well discussed, the fact that he hit his peak right before the pharmacists made it into the league. Murphy might have been feared in 1985, but by 1988 the Bash brothers, fueled by pin pricks in their buttocks, owned the long ball. They changed and ruined the game, doing damage to the chances guys like Murphy and Andre Dawson deserve.

If there needs to be a third strike, and Murphy did strike out a lot, it’s that Murphy doesn’t lobby for it. I don’t know that other guys do, but in the few interviews I’ve read or heard by him, he genuinely doesn’t seem too concerned. That, right there, makes me want it for him more. Nothing illustrates his selflessness more than the fact that he left the game two home runs short of a milestone.

My final point goes to Mark McGwire and Pete Rose. This week passed and it was Mac’s first time eligible for the hall. Because of the belief that he cheated, he got few votes. Rose’s exclusion has been going on for years. Both are being kept out because of things they . . . allegedly . . . did. Murphy was astoundingly charitable as a ballplayer, earning gobs more awards for his goodness off the field than for what he did between the lines. Murphy’s stats might be borderline, but if you’re going to keep someone out because of the negative things he did to the game, then you ought to let someone’s positive influence be a factor in tipping the scales in his favor.

A Celebration Fit for the YouTube Generation

On New Year’s Day I took a walk at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. It was supposed to be a bike ride, but the back tire on my bike arrived flat, so I walked. Because I was walking I took a route I wouldn’t have otherwise, and found evidence that someone had been there the day before.

On the ground were 10 discarded two-liter bottles of Diet Coke.

When I saw the bottles and saw that they were all Diet Coke, I looked for what I suspected would be the next piece of evidence of a show that had gone on the night before. There at the edge of the grass I found it, a Mentos wrapper. I found a couple more and knew what had happened.

If you’re not aware of what happens when you put Mentos into Diet Coke, watch this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up1DoY8Cfwg]

I’ve read that it doesn’t have to be Diet Coke, you can use the fully leaded version. It’s just that if you do, you then have to deal with a sticky mess.

‘ . . . society’s march toward eroticized adolescence’

Among the list of the New York Times most e-mailed stories last week was one I found frightening, being the father of a girl who in four years will be attending junior high school. Middle School Girls Gone Wild is the story of a parent attending a talent show. Some girls do a dance routine.

It is news to no one, not even me, that eroticism in popular culture is a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet, and that many children in their early teens are filling up. The latest debate centers on whether simulated intercourse is an appropriate dance style for the high school gym.

What surprised me, though, was how completely parents of even younger girls seem to have gotten in step with society’s march toward eroticized adolescence — either willingly or through abject surrender.

Go read the whole thing by clicking on the link.