Friday, December 30, 2005

fishy times

Wednesday was benchmark day for one of the less-serious new year's resolutions, which is to swim faster than before (should be doable, eh?). So I swam a mile in 37 minutes, which is, I see to my amusement, extremely s l o w.

But you have to start somewhere. Or, I was actually swimming faster and couldn't read the clock. I seriously doubt that, however.

So that leaves a big question, which is what to set as a goal. I'm thinking that maybe not the 2008 cutoff of 15:53 or whatever it is. TBD, I suppose.

in stagnum quies est

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

back in the pool

for a very lonely workout.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

convergent features reporting

Random thoughts collected while pondering the number of bolts in the Tyngsborough Bridge.

With all the yip-yap (I think that's also a brand of dog treats) about convergence, I think it's time to get on board. I don't have audio gear, I'm not sure the camcorder I've got is up to the struggle and there're only 24 hours in a day, but hey, ya works with whats ya have.

That said, I've come up with a couple of subjects that can be handled with relative ease:

One is strolls in the city, which was the idea behind this blog in the first place. The print piece would be cake - a map, a photo or two and a short feature, maybe focusing on one piece of the walk. The podcast could be an edited, voiced-over video stroll. It could be a slide show, I guess, but zzzzzzz. I suppose it would be possible to have audio-only, too, but that seems passe.

Another would serve as partial culimination of a long-term project that involves cooking, and would be essentially a TV show writ small. Its print potential is high, too. Ironically, or maybe just coincidentally, I think the model for production of print & video of the cooking show is the same as what cooking shows get compared to all the time these days.

Of course, for a full-time features reporter, the possibilities are at least as great for converged reporting as they are for traditional work.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

just clunking along

Well, the water seems normal - rather than too warm - at the Y, so I'm wondering what's in store when the school's back in session - brrrrrr.

Other than lovely swims, pretty scarves and the usual collection of activities, I whipped up a batch of Christmas cookies. Sugar cookies is what the recipe claimed they are, but I think they could be called butter cookies or maybe just less-leavened, cream-free scones. Delish for sure!

three and a half cups flour, one teaspoon baking powder and a quarter teaspoon salt, mixed.

two sticks (a cup) unsalted butter, a cup and a half white sugar, two eggs and a teaspoon and a half vanilla extract, creamed.

the dry added to the damp and worked until the dough is smooth (takes a little bit, but not too long or it'll be tough). The dough's scent reminded me of Christmases past.

The recipes says divide the dough and refrigerate, then roll out and cut. I say phooey and rolled and cut the cookies, then refrigerated for 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before baking at 375 for about 12 minutes, just until the cookies' edges brown.

Cool 'em off for a while on the sheet so they don't break when you try to remove them, then cool and decorate. I opted for homemade mint icing (two cups powdered sugar and three tablespoons of hot whipping cream whisked until homogenized, then heated in a bowl over hot water for 10 minutes to eliminate the corn starch flavor - I used half for mint icing, with a capful of extract and half was used for almond), and decorated with blue and pink sparkly sprinkles.


seal the cookies up in an airtight container - waxed paper may be used to separate layers of cookies.

the recipe above made 20 good-size (three and a half inch rounds) cookies, but could have been stretched to two dozen or maybe thirty smaller cookies. Which is what I'd do next time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

multi-front progress

Well, after a much better swim than some in recent memory (not a record breaker, but a 500, 1000 and cooldown - and that's meters, baby), I sat down to the penultimate scarf in Warp I. After toying with chenile vs. other wefts, I opted for other and I'm quite pleased so far. I'm too much of a slacker to have photos posted, but maybe I'll get on that someday soon...

I have high hopes for the next warp, too :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

the new venue

the local Y, which turns out to be all right.
The water is a bit warm, and there are only two lane dividers, so the going's a little rougher, and the pool is 25 meters (rather than yards, at the school pool). But hey, no big deal.
So I did a couple of 500s, plus the usual cool-down routine. Not great, but better than nothing and something to build on. The revision to my turns is still a little bit of a work in progress, but that's no big deal either. I mean, it is all just swimming :)

On a weaving note, I'm near the end of Warp I, a plum-to-purple warp with shots of green and off-white. I tried a variegated chenile from Webs that runs red, green and blue (roughly, they're definitely gem colors, not namby-pamby types), and it is quite nice - at least for someone who likes horizontal stripes!
In general, I'm torn: The chenile is really quite nice in terms of color and softness but I also have good results from silk/cotton combos.
Well, I guess that's why people put on lots of different warps. Hmm. Maybe I should add an image sometime.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

an observation on my trade

So, I work at a newspaper.

I saw this Steve Klein piece at Poynter (, in which he tackles the changing face of print journalism. He makes good points, a lot of them. We do need to change how we do business. But I don't think that journalism schools are the best place to look for tomorrow's pathfinders.

I can agree, from the safety of the armchair, that a good journalism school is a place where the hardened vets can instill in young journos certain values that we all hold dear. And no doubt Klein's simple trio of journalism basics - having an ethical compass, knowing your audience and clarity in communication (yegods, he doesn't use consistent bullets) - can be handed down in such places.

But after 11 years of hanging around newspapers, I have to say our system is broken. What do we really get from journalism schools? A mixed bag. Sometimes you get gems, other times you get plagiarists. Worst of all, you (OK, I) often get people who got into journalism in part because they "don't like numbers," people who will tell you: "hey, you know about science, right? I have a question" - people who aren't epistemologists. I hate to say it Minnesota, but I think journalism programs tend to attract these non-detectives, and what could possibly be worse? Even if all you want to write are god damn features, you need to be a detective, a news hound.

And that's first, not second.

Look: Who really broke the story of Oregon's former governor being a fundamentally awful human being? Not the Statesman Journal and not the Oregonian, but Willamette Week. In other words, not the establishment - with its horde of dyed-in-the-wool journos, but the upstart, with its trader-turned-writer.

What's that say about the establishment? Not much, but what could you expect from a machine that believes the best way to go forward is to select its front-line workers on the basis of a decision they made when they were in their late teens or early 20s.

Good reporters don't learn the craft in college. Hell, they don't even learn AP style there. They learn it on the job.

If you want better or better yet transformed print journalism, make the case to newspapers that they need to become the J school, that they need to invest (and I do mean that literally) in assignment editors who are teachers, not just middle-management thugs charged with squeezing an ever-smaller collection of turnips for the daily blood.

Make the case that the responsibility for journalism's future lies with the executives whose companies stand to go broke if they don't figure out how to change with the times.

That being a journalist is a career-long learning process that doesn't end when the W-2s are filled out but requires a long-term commitment from management AND employee.

Enough of this. Time to swim.

Monday, December 12, 2005

sick pools, alternative venues


Chemical troubles plague the pool; wonder if this is part of the justification routine for the cool new pool in the works at the college. Scuttlebutt is that the big cash headed toward a rumored 50-meter pool is making waves amongst some factions on campus, who think the money should be used in some other way. Of course, same scuttlebutt is that a donor anted up the dough for the pool, so there you have it.

I'm thinking the ruffled types would not have used the money for need-based scholarships, so I can't say they cut a lot of ice with me. Besides, if the school plans to be "a national liberal arts college" - the dean of faculty's bullshitty press release statement, not mine - then I guess a good pool is a start.

What rubbish. I didn't go there to attend "a national liberal arts college," I went for a good education, which the dean in his former life as a calculus prof. certainly helped provide. But he and the "dean of admissions" have since decided the best way to achieve their peculiar goal of improving the school's standing in the national magazine rankings is to further Mercer Island-ize the place, not that it needed any help in that arena.

Enough of that. I need a good swim. At least.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

happy to be part of this club

Saw this study referenced at Al's Morning Meeting (at

which claims 17 percent of people who bought wireless phones in the last 90 days do not use a landline.

My concern, I guess, is that some idiot push will be on to make cell numbers part of directories and direct-marketing rosters. Which of course isn't really a big deal b/c you don't have to answer the thing but would be annoying. I like my anonymity just the way it is...

fleepin' super

A kind observer helped me refine the ol' flip turn, so naturally everything was harder for a couple of 500s on Wednesday (pool was "sick" on Tuesday, the lifeguards said in a prepared statement - aka a sign outside the lockers). The turn fix ought to pay off once I get it fully integrated... hopefully soon!

Busy times at work have kept me off the loom bench, but I'm optimistic that the weekend's full slate of freezing fog will give me plenty of time to crank away. Must get a head of steam soon!

What else? Nothing much. Wishing the steak fairy would drop by my desk...

Monday, December 05, 2005

solid, squared away, and also a-ok

Well, after the post-Thanksgiving week of slow & inefficient, today was just fine. Not that it wasn't slow in the objective reality sense - I think it always is, from that point of view - but got in a 500 and 2,000, so I'd say things are back to normal. thank goodness.

also, both warps are on (only about 4 hours, really, on Saturday), so now all that's left is to git ur done :)

Uh, what else? Not much to report...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

out of the blue

and into the pool!

If you had asked me three months ago, I would never have guessed I'd miss swimming so much. But I did, and I'm also now feeling out of shape, which is ridiculous because it was only a week and change off. Monday and Tuesday's swims went fine, however. Short, but fine.

Took last night off, to wind bombs (my mom, who also weaves, taught me to call the carboard tubes that) for one of the warps I plan to put on the loom Saturday. These warps - a pair of 30-yarders for scarves - will be my first, which after weaving on and off for 28 years seems a little long in the making :)

Here's to snow (which it is doing right now)!