The roar down below

once-upon-a-midnight

The wind roars up from the bottom of the hill behind our house

– or is that the bay shouting out its lungs?

water crashing into white caps of fury, or

a beast roaring at the heart of the world,

bouncing off itself joyfully to scream “Life! Live! Love!”

Be angry or be alive.

Laugh or cry.

The choices present themselves every day.

Choose life.

Choose joy.

It’s lighter on the soul.

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A day that will live in perspective

dejah and shoeJack was a crusty old guy, mostly sweet and with a wicked sense of humor. He had retired but still did an afternoon sports show at the small-town radio station where I worked.

I only remember one time when he was seriously angry. It was the day John Lennon had been shot, and everyone was in a state of shock. Jack wasn’t so impressed.

One of the younger disk jockeys tried to put it in perspective for him by saying that to our generation, the killing of John Lennon might have the same jarring impact that the bombing of Pearl Harbor had had the previous day, Dec. 7, 39 years earlier.

This did not sit well with Jack, who erupted with fury. We had no idea what that day was about, he said, if we really were going to compare that day with the shooting of some young punk on a New York street. Oh my, Jack was mad. And he was right. And, in a lesser way, so was our ill-advised colleague. It was a big deal. Just not that big.

It’s hard to believe that it’s now 37 years since that day – nearly as long as Pearl Harbor had been for Jack when the conversation took place. Now I know what it feels like to remember something that happened almost four decades ago when I was a young adult. If I dig into the memory deep enough, I can still feel the shock, tempered by the passage of time, with the biggest shock perhaps being how much life has happened in the meantime.

The Kewaunee County Comet: One year down the road and still chugging along

Kewaunee County Comet 2It was Nov. 30, 2016, that I opened a blog called the Kewaunee County Aggregator to fill what I believed was a gap in local news coverage for the community.

That first day I posted a little introductory column titled “What Have We Here” and links to news releases for the fourth annual Kewaunee Memorial Food Drive, the Kewaunee Grade School Holiday Extravaganza, the Algoma Public Library’s public declaration that the rumors it was closing were balderdash, and Lee Kinnard’s appearance as a speaker at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Atlanta.

After a while I started doing some of my own reporting in addition to aggregating news and information from other sites; I met Todd Lohenry and he constructed the site for the renamed Kewaunee County Comet – so named to harken back to the old Casco High School teams and give a nod to the county’s rich history. This page launched in February, and the rest is becoming history.

The site has slowly but surely gained acceptance as word gets around that there’s someone doing good old-fashioned local news coverage focused solely on Kewaunee County. Although I did snag myself a day job to help pay the bills as the Comet grows, I do aim to see significant enough growth in 2018 to make the Comet more sustainable. (Boy, have I heard that word “sustainable” a lot in the last 12 months …)

More about that in coming days and weeks. For today, I just want to thank everyone who has supported the Comet with your kind comments, your sharing the news that this project exists, and your agreeing to make an investment in local independent online news with a voluntary subscription.

Kewaunee County deserves its own news outlet, and with your help the second year will make the Comet bigger and better. Many, many thanks.

The Incredible Shrinking Blue Book

incredible shrinking blue book

The venerated Wisconsin Blue Book is the latest victim of downsizing print products, be they newspapers, magazines or reference books.

Iconic Wisconsin Blue Book sheds 300 pages, blue cover

“Compared with its predecessors, the tome is much slimmer – 677 pages compared with 973 pages in the 2015-16 version – has noticeably larger type and poorly cropped photos of legislators.”

So, significantly less content – partially disguised with larger type so that the reduction seems to be a mere 300 pages when the word count cut is much deeper – and less attention to detail. Where have we seen that before? Continue reading

Burying the sports lede/lead/whatever: a pet peeve

vintage TV

One of the seven major sins that reporters were once told to avoid is burying the lede.

(Tangent: It is a mystery to me when journalists started spelling it “lede” to differentiate a news lede from, say, the lead paragraph of a news story or the leader of the free world. But there it is.)

To bury the lede means to tell the most important part of a story deep inside the story. For example: The Megacorporation has announced a major advance in its manufacturing process that will take the company to the next level of wonderfulness. The process allows the corporation to fulfill its mission of making the world a better place while pleasing its shareholders and investors bigtime. “This is a fantabulous moment in human history as Megacorporation moves into the brightest future imaginable,” said Todd Bogguss, president and CEO. The company is laying off 30 percent of its workforce as part of the major restructuring.

What’s the lede? What’s the most important fact? What should have gone first? Continue reading

Paranoia strikes deep

I went to the basement to empty the dehumidifier and saw my recently reassembled stereo system there. I pulled a record off the shelf, set it on the turntable, and played Judy Collins’ classic recording of “Both Sides Now” while I did my little chore.

The Smart TV sat quietly on the other side of the room.

Three hours later, I picked up my smart phone and turned to Google to look something up. Under the search bar was a link:

Watch the Tallest Man on Earth Cover Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides, Now

Coincidence? I think not. Somehow the device knew that particular song was on my mind.

Our electronic toys see us when we’re sleeping, and they know when we’re awake. I’m pretty sure they know when we’ve been bad or good, so …

 

Brands of my kid-dom

Brands of my kid-dom web

I looked at the logo on the coffee cup I use a couple of times every week and started thinking about how some brands and people take me back to being a kid every time.

That elongated S for Studebaker transports me to the days I always rode in the back seat with my two brothers. Dad bought a succession of Studebakers through the 1950s and mid-60s, sold on the company and the trusted Werner dealership he favored. I remember how foreign the back seat of that 1965 Ford Galaxie felt.

There are few brands that feel so linked to my childhood – but there are a few. Continue reading