Often how the Journalism profession is portrayed in books and movies is usually a kin to equating them with ambulance chasing lawyers or paparazzi. It’s a somewhat earned reputation by a percentage of the profession but not anywhere near all. Most journalists are hard working for low pay, even a lot of people working in broadcast with the exception of anchors etc. Print journalists these days, well I can’t imagine anyone making a living as a print reporter. They could do a story on what the government lists as the poverty line and wish they were making close to that. Plus, it’s not an easy job. Unless you’re working for a tabloid you can’t just invent stories. People have to do something, something has to happen, then you can write about it.

Enough of my defense of the thousands upon thousands of good hard-working Journalists. My thought at the moment is about two examples where a book series and a tv series is finally showing the good and ethical side of the profession.


First the book. The Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson does just that. (though admittedly I’m only at the end of the second book). Most people will know it for the first book “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” (Don’t see the movie read the book.) Mikael Blomkvist is how I think most investigative journalists want to see themselves. Strongly principled, highly observant, loving a mystery but more than that, loving to put all the pieces together and present it to the masses in a clear and easily understood format. Blomkvist also has something else good journalists have. His principles no matter how strong are not inflexible. Sometimes things do not need to be known to the public if they don’t concern them. “Dirty laundry” is not the same as steaming piles of public dung.

Each of the books is a mystery, and sometimes there are small mysteries within the mysteries. And it’s not just the journalistic integrity of the staff of Millennium Magazine that is the example but Stieg Larsson himself. He was a Journalist first then a novelist. So when you really see the story through his eyes. For example (no spoilers) in one of the chapters there is a group of police persons sitting in a room. The people are described in the same manner as if a journalist was taking note. The “narrator” introduces each person with a very compact bio taking note of the most obvious observation and just enough history as so the reader can identify the person later in the story. Maybe those who have never interviewed a room of people won’t see it. But I did. In fact the entire series so far has to been like reading something I would hope to write (if I ever dared to write fiction which I won’t). What I mean is there are no obvious questions that are not asked. Those that are not answered you understand that the non answer is in itself and answer.

Sadly, Larsson died in 2004 at the age of 50 so when I finish the third book, I don’t anticipate anything else like it ever being published.


As to the TV Series. That would be HBO’s The Newsroom.  It’s the first show that truly says some things that really need saying and understanding.

1) That there is more pressure to gain ratings than there is to get a story right. Now I know most people are thinking, yeah duh…but have they really thought about the people that are feeling this pressure. Does anyone really think that people leave journalism school saying themselves I want to make my living spoon feeding one-sided/money-censored news to the public? (And that’s both sides by the way and corporate and government money). No, every young journalist dreams of the big breaking story, that’s true, that’s pure, that will change the world. Walter Cronkite covering the moon landing. Peter Arnett covering the bombing of Baghdad in 1991…

2) The realization that the public today doesn’t want unbiased news. Just like it doesn’t want the traditional radio station. It wants podcasts, playlists, DVRs and Video on-demand. It’s entirely possible to consume a ton of news, entertainment and music these days and never once hear anything that isn’t what you like or from a shared opinion.

3) And this is purely personal but for me it captured the emotion of a newsroom. The quibbles and the camaraderie. The furor when something goes wrong, the personal issues, personality clashes and the overwhelming joyous exhaustion when they get the story right. Journalism is one of those professions where you can be right. Not kind of right, not good enough for government right. I mean 100% right, doing a public good, warning of dangers (the real ones) and making a record of history. There aren’t many other jobs that offer a chance to preserve moments in time.

Now I could talk a lot about the show’s plot and whether I do detect some political leanings but it really tries not to and I don’t want to put in any spoilers because it’s really worth watching, especially if you’ve ever spend time in a newsroom of any kind. I think what I love about The Newsroom is not that it’s completely unbiased but it celebrates the effort of trying to do what’s right, even if they sometimes get it wrong.

One of the things I do, even though it often makes me sad, is read the obituaries in the newspaper. I feel it’s my way of showing respect to lives lived by those in the community I live in. For me it’s like I’m acknowledging lives that have passed in what, no matter how long the person has lived, is like a blink of the eye of the cosmos.

Good days are those when no one represented there is under 50. Maybe because I am under that age myself I feel that 50 years are at least time enough to get some things right, to have some impact on the world. Any age less than that seems far too short.

The second thing I look for is if the person has children, grandchildren or great grandchildren. This is often the first sign of a legacy that the person has left to the world. But, that’s not the only measure. I also take heart in those that list the number of accomplishments, as children are not the only measure of a person’s legacy. There I run into the sad state of newspapers.

I remember a time when obituaries were different. When cause of death was often listed, now it hardly ever is. When you see, Jane Smith, 27, died…you have to wonder was she ill, was it a car accident? What would take the life of someone so young. Then you have to wonder about the person’s wishes. Now that obituaries are charged by the line or column inch…is a person with the free 3-4 line obituary unaccomplished? Unloved? Did they not too have family that will miss them? Here I’m torn…what is more important paying for lines and lines to memorialize a loved one or using that money to fund the living.

Of all the changes in the newspaper business this one bothers me the most. I would be one, and I’ve told my family, they are not to spend the money for the long obituary. The few lines provided for free are enough for me. But, should a grieving family be “scalped” in a sense to show their love? I am all for a limit on obituaries, of  I don’t know 200 words even, but to limit it to the short 3-4 lines which says Name, age, died. So and so has charge…it seems sadder in fact that the person dying. Did they have no loved ones? Or did they have those who mourned who couldn’t afford the fee? Or did their wishes, like mine strictly express that money could be better spent elsewhere…

And what of the newspapers? They aren’t the one to “collect” these fees. Often times they have arrangements with funeral homes that suggest the writing of an obituary that they will place with the paper(s) and then the charge is placed in what has become the exorbitant fees that are charged to take care of our dearly departed.
Has death become prey? A friend of mine told me recently, as she was mourning the death of a grandparent, that if she had her wish she would want to be carved up and fed to sharks at sea. At first I thought it silly but then I found it so wise. It’s a circle of life kind of thing she explained. Burial at sea plus becoming part of the food chain, it is truly brilliant; except for the fact here in the US it’s illegal.

Sometimes I wonder about our “evolved” society that takes away more and more freedoms every day. Yet, somehow through those laws allows companies to prey upon us. Everyone at some point in their life is going to pay to die. Well their families or the US taxpayers. It’s the final payment on our lives…our memories our memorials, our obituary, once a matter of public record…informing people not only of someone’s passing but the cause. In a way a public service, so and so died of small pox (avoid their home). So and so died in a tragic car accident (you can’t catch anything go and comfort the family as much as you are able).

Now it’s all business…So I read every single obituary, most days. And I’m always glad of the long ones that recognize a life whether short or long, whether parental or not, whether accomplished or not and the ones that are the “free” 3-4 lines…I read them 3-4 times. There is a story in everyone’s life and I miss the days when it did not cost to tell it…

Tech note of the week: Draw Something, I’m addicted, I bought it. Proof that the free model for apps really does work…I gladly bought it. I don’t mind paying for an app, once it’s proven to me that I can’t live without it.


There are some things as an adult you should just know. 1) Your social security number, it’s used for almost anything to do with money you get, you owe etc. And while many may list a lot of things as number 2 like, your bank account balance or your spouse’s cell phone number (by heart because who wants to be in that situation where you don’t have or lose your cell phone and can’t call anyone to come help you in an emergency). But, those are all tertiary compared to my secondary must know. 2) Know your operating system. We live in a world where we use so many computer devices we have to use two hands to count them. There is always going to be a time, even for the most experienced of us, that we don’t know something or how to do something and we have to ask for help. Help comes much easier if you know some basic things about your pc, tablet or phone. If you’re not very computer literate when you buy any one of these ask the salesperson or check the item’s description and memorize this.

If you have an iPhone, you most often can get away with saying “it’s an iPhone” or iPad, iPod, iPod Touch or such, because chances are you are always running the latest version of iOS.

If you have any other smart phone chances are you can get away with saying you are running the Android operating system. Yes, yes, there is a Windows based mobile phone OS, but anyone using a Windows Phone is going to know enough to communicate this.  (Mostly because if they are using a Windows phone they are probably an employee of Microsoft or a subsidiary or related company because really why else would you use a Windows phone?)

If you own a computer, and who doesn’t, it gets a little harder. There are several versions (or I think they call them flavors) of Apple operating systems. Most of them are named for felines (Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard..etc.) Just ask when you buy the computer or buy an upgrade and remember that one kitty-cat word.

If you’re using a PC (and you’ve bought it in the last 8 years) chances are you are running one of the following: Windows 7, Windows Vista (I hope no one is still running this!) or Windows XP. Heck forget the “Windows” and just remember 7, Vista or XP. Not that hard, really I promise.

Ok, before someone says there are also Unix based machines, really again if you’re using a computer with Unix you know what version of Unix you’re using. Unix people are the people you’re always calling to help you with your non Unix machines, the ones that always say ‘You should run Unix’ but know that if you can’t manage a windows or apple OS device there is no way in heck you’d do well with Unix.

So after all this, why is this so important? Because chances are any well intentioned geeky friend or family member willing to answer your computer questions will need to know this information to help you help yourself and the least you can do is remember what operating system you are running because we have a lot of people who rely on our geekinees but we’re not willing to go to the lengths of making a database or Excel file listing everyone we know and their computer specs (no matter how good an idea that is!)


For my non-techie note this time, I just want to say that if your vacuum cleaner or anything else in your house has an unpleasant smell, use coffee grinds. My vacuum smells like dark roast now but vacuuming up about ¼ cup of coffee grinds got rid of the smell of cat puke.



Ok, so everyone has had that moment when doing the dread loads of laundry when you find the stray $5 or $20, or even a $1 bill that has been washed so many times in a forgotten pocket that you wish your tee shirts were that soft. But, laundry money and change in the sofa cushions (rarer these days since fewer people carry cash) are nothing compared to actually cleaning out drawers. Last week, I even now forget what I couldn’t find in my bathroom drawers, I realized I needed to do a much overdo cleaning out. Ok, as far as I know it’s rare to find actual cash among hairbrushes in a drawer, though I have often found change in hairbrushes in a purse, what you can find can you save you $50 to $100. For example, it seems I’m always buying dental floss. In the first drawer were several small and even some full size dental floss containers. Oh and I’ve been buying tooth brushes, forgetting that I get one every time I go for a cleaning resulting in 2-3 decent quality toothbrushes in the drawer still sealed in their packaging (Seriously we just bought more to take to vacation last month in cute travel packaging we could have just grabbed some of the ones we had.) Oh and travel size shampoos (I found 6) and travel soaps (another 5-6) then let’s get to trial size things. About 10 different packages of try this shampoo and conditioner and hand lotions and lots of stuff from Mary Kay (btw, their micro-derm abrasion crème is wonderful and at $55 a pop, I really wish I had more free samples. Going to have to remember to sweet talk my Mary Kay friend!) I also have lipstick samples and eye shadow samples…This is really starting to add up in my head, I mean I haven’t even gotten to trial tooth paste…and I’m telling you it’s over $100 of stuff plus not having to buy any of this stuff for weeks if not months, if I only had cleaned these drawers more often I wouldn’t keep buying things like dental floss that always appear on my shopping list because it’s lost in these drawers. Oh and Band Aids? You know when you consolidate all those myriad of boxes that make the drawers not open into one box you actually can find a bandage when you need one!

I’m not ready to tackle the kitchen drawers yet but I bet I won’t be buying decks of cards, pens, thumb tacks, paperclips, tape and glue for a while when I do!


On this week’s techy note, I want to brag on my decision not to get an iPhone 4s with my last phone upgrade. For one, I’ve learned from my friends it really doesn’t speak “Southern” well. Secondly, no one I know still talks to Siri. I mean the first day it’s non-stop and even the teens I know with it get tired of making it say stupid crap or my geek friends trying to find the easter-egg comment responses, like “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” So I feel fully proud that in November I got the iPhone4 not the 4s, because I know I would have even been uncomfortable talking to siri for a day, I kept wondering hell please can’t I just text her? I mean I love txting not to have to concentrate on speaking to people, so wouldn’t it be much easier just to txt Siri to get her directions and sarcasm? Fourteen years ago I had a Mac with a mike that you could say “Open Photoshop” etc..ok so the commands were limited unless you took hours to set them all but really after a month, “open program” got a bit old. Siri is unlimited (you know unless you say things like “text Steve ‘all y’all come over I’m fixin to grill’” and I still wouldn’t be talking to her as soon as the novelty wore off.

Anyway, those who read this if you actually talk to and use Siri like on the commercial please prove me wrong. Could be I’m just proving my tech age…hell I don’t even talk to our Kinect but I moving my body to use it, of course I’m one of those gamers that moved my body with the game even when nothing was tracking it.

I set my own work hours. This affords me the kind of luxuries that many do not have. For example, I grocery shop on Friday mornings around 8 am. The shelves are being stocked for the weekend shoppers but hardly anyone is up and shopping at that time. I can get out of Walmart (yes, walmart,) with my full week’s groceries in just about an hour on budget and that often includes at least 10 minutes of wandering in departments that hold nothing on my list. However, there are a few times I don’t shop at Walmart. 1) Weekends. Going to Walmart on a friday night or Saturday, let’s just say even I might tear out all my hair and stick a plastic fork in my eye for more fun. The exception, where I live, is early mornings on Sunday when people in my area are getting ready for church. If I worked full-time M-F Sunday right before church time is when I’d shop. Church time is iffy because some people have the same idea running up there when all their friends should be at church figuring no one even if they weren’t going to church that day would dare be seen at the local Walmart when they were supposed to be at church. 2) When there is somethign I really love that Walmart doesn’t carry. I will go to another store.
There are a few products I do this for, I’ll drive 30ish miles round trip into the larger city to get Annie’s Natural’s Woodstock Dressing but only on occasion because it’s the best salad dressing on the planet and it’s not very good for me (not as bad as Ranch Dressing of any brand though. Ranch dressing is I’m told the single most death causing thing in anyone’s refrigerator.) The thing I’m talking about is Lipton Spiced Chai tea bags. It’s a simple product. I use to just have to go to a different grocery store (or if you don’t consider Super Walmart a grocery store–a grocery store) to get it. I use to go to a store called Schnucks. But a funny thing happened a few months back all Schnucks (who years back were Seesels) and all Schnucks were bought by Kroger. Now, Kroger which has many lovely things, doesn’t carry my tea. Once the Schnucks inventories were all gone, while they kept some brands Kroger hadn’t had before my variety of tea was not one.
In Addition to the Walmart and the Kroger, the nearest grocery store to me is The Fresh Market, which has many variety of teas, none that I love like my Lipton Spiced Chai and none for the $2.5 a box that makes it even better. (My top favorite tea is Harry and David’s Hot Cinnamon Spice but it’s not an every day tea. And I can still get it locally at Barnes and Nobles so it’s not relevant here.)
All of this to say that when Kroger took over Schnucks and with Walmart only carrying the regular Lipton, a lemon and honey and a green tea, but not the Spiced Chai. I was searching for options.
Luckily when one tea supplier is bought by Kroger another tea option arises–Amazon.com. Yes, we’ve all known Amazon has groceries but really who is going to order weekly groceries by mail. I just don’t eat that many dry goods. However, it turns out the have my tea. It also turns out they have a subscription to grocery delivery. AND when you have groceries over $25 delivered by “subscription” even though you can set your subscription to fill up to 1 time every 6 months and you can cancel anytime, you an get free shipping and 20% off. So here I am sitting here drinking my tea that cost me 2.45 a 20 tea bag box, and one time every 4 months I get 12 boxes (they ship in boxes of 6) free shipping, delivered to my door…
The point of all this is that never give up on something you love, unless the manufacturer discontinues it…and heaven forbid…I can’t deal with tea testing again…I just can’t, I mean it’s one thing to try loose blends but when it’s first thing in the morning you just want your tea (or substitute the word coffee here if you want to get the effect.) You want it there in your cabinet when you need it…


Oh and tech note of the day…Buy a Western Digital solid state external hard drive, the one that takes two usb ports to power. A friend of mine dropped the one she was loaning me (full of data) in a asphalt parking lot today…still works like a dream, casing doesn’t even have a mark on it.

Those who know me would tell you I’m often the person they turn to for help with Photoshop or with a Photoshop task. That being said, I really should have opened up Photoshop and made a logo or image for this blog…maybe next week.

This is the first post of what I intend to be a series of things I learned each week in both in my professional and personal lives. I’m starting this on a Thursday but I plan to write it whenever something comes up, that I think is of interest.


1) First a techy note: mobile.me e-mails do not play nice with Microsoft Outlook. I’m not sure why people would want to use their mobile.me e-mails (predominantly and iPhone/iPad thing) on their PCs with Outlook but some do, or have attempted to. And I’m not sure why it hangs not only checking that mailbox on but all the mail being checked by that version of Outlook, but it does. Bottom line, if you’re reading this any time close to the date this was published, just don’t do it. And if you’re going t do it don’t call me asking me to fix it, at least not for the next few weeks.


2) A bit more personal:  I admit it Pinterest is a kind of heaven for women. I’m not a big shopper but women in general (I’m told their are studies) love to browse. Not just to buy but to browse methods, tricks, tips, recipes and even yes all those meme photos. This week I came across and money and time saving tip post: Use Coke to get rid of those rings that always form around the toilet bowl near the water level. Now clearly this tip was for people that don’t always try to kill one bird with two stones because the message in the light bulb over my head immediately said, “Use half-full cans of flat Pepsi that collect in teenager’s room to clean toilet!” I know it works for cleaning car battery connectors so this is going to work!

Let me add, I hate when people waste 12 oz cans. Predominantly because the price of a 12-pack of Coke or Pepsi products seem to have gone up a $1.50 in the past 1-2 years. But, also because it’s just wasteful. I don’t open a can unless I’m 99% sure I’m going to finish it. But my son and my husband, seem to open them willy nilly sometimes drinking only a few sips before leaving them around the house or putting them back in the fridge (covered or uncovered) and refusing the drink the remainders and choosing instead to open another one. All this to say in an average week there are a ton of half-full soda cans at my house.

Back to the cleaning tip, so I go into the teen’s room and get a half-full Pepsi One can and proceed to pour it in the bowl of his toilet. First note, this looks rather nasty. In fact get a mental picture of the color of watered down Pepsi and you’ll know exactly what it reminds you of. (I make a mental note while letting this sit to be sure and flush this before he comes home. I don’t want to know what kind of comment it would elicit!) So I return about two hours later ready to see some cleaning action and nothing nada, the ring is just as before except now it has “&%$%” water in the bowl as well. Result? Flush and clean normally.

Then I realize, I’m not being fair. I mean it was Pepsi not Coke and it was a diet drink not full of all the fun corn sugar that is in Coke. And ok, it was flat so no great fizzy action. It so happened I had a half-full (are we seeing a pattern) Coke (regular coke) in the fridge! And…to top it off it’s in a plastic bottle not a can, so it still has fizz, not full-on makes that sound when you open it fizz but yes it was still quite carbonated. So I grab it, this time going to my bathroom poor the coke into the bowl (still looks…but anyway) there is fizz in the bowl. I walk away. I come back later and low and behold it has had some effect on the ring! I give it a few hits with the brush, ring gone! See if you follow Pinterest posts correctly they do often work! But here’s the problem. I rarely if ever have real Coke in the house and I can just as easily buy toilet cleaner as a fizzy fresh Coke…and of course I’m still stuck with all these half-full Pepsi One cans. 😦