Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I'm reminded of the old tale of the small-town editorial writer, strapped for subject matter, who clipped out a NY Times editorial and sent it to his composing room for typesetting. (This was in the Linotype days.) Before he gave it to the typesetter, however, he made one change. He jotted at the top of the copy, "What does the NY Times mean by this?!"
In the early days of newspapers, reprinting news clipped from other papers was a common and cooperative practice. (That's why they referred to them as "exchange papers." They exchanged subscriptions and exchanged news.) In a way, the practice continues today -- just without permission: You hear it virtually every morning on radio newscasts in Dubuque. But that's another blog.
Anyway, the columnist and I are discussing appropriate response to the liberal use of the column that originally appeared in the TH. Any suggestions?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The Telegraph Herald this week is marking a milestone of sorts. But we wish it weren’t necessary.
It would not be necessary if every child were sure to have a gift under the tree or a decent coat or gloves to wear to school.
It would not be necessary if all families had a roof over their heads.
It would not be necessary if folks had the money to cover their heating bills this winter.
Indeed, if there were no needy people in the community, there would be no need for the Santa’s Helper program. This is the 20th holiday season for Santa’s Helper, which is presented by the TH in cooperation with nine tri-state social service agencies.
Our program is simple: The TH shares the real-life stories of some our neighbors who could use a little help, details what that help might involve – payment of a utility bill, or food, or clothing, for example – and encourages you to contact the sponsoring agency, which has verified the needs as genuine.
Santa’s Helper is not intended to compete with the several other charitable agencies and programs that also operate in the area. Unlike most other programs, however, Santa’s Helper does not necessarily involve direct financial donations. In most cases, assistance may come in the form of merchandise, clothing or food – or gift certificates earmarked for those items. Donors might choose to cover one month’s utility bill for a family, or to help with a month’s bill for prescription medication. It is entirely up to the donor and the sponsoring agencies.
At the TH, reporter Erik Hogstrom does double-duty. Not only does he serve as our liaison with the Santa’s Helper agencies, he also takes the lead in coordinating the newsroom’s “sponsorship” of a Santa’s Helper family.
Erik says that delivering those gifts, on behalf of his newsroom colleagues, is a personal highlight of his year. If your family or office is looking for a new twist on the traditional gift exchange, here is a suggestion: Instead of trading gifts among yourselves, consider changing things up and putting those gifts toward a local family that could use a boost this time of year.
Santa’s Helper won’t eliminate poverty in our time. There will always be needs. But it is a small step toward bringing some smiles to the faces of children – and their parents – this holiday season.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Friday, November 25, 2005
A Cooper Family tradition (at least since 1997) is to start each Thanksgiving with the Turkey Trot at Wahlert High School. Parents, children, in-laws and even a grandparent have entered the 2.5- or 7.5-mile events. (One Thanksgiving, my father-in-law -- in his late 60s and a several years removed from heart bypass surgery -- ran and walked the 2.5-mile course. He survived.) On Thursday, the family recorded a couple of second places, a couple of thirds and a couple out of the money. (My son-in-law would have improved on his third place had there be a course marshal present at a criticial intersection; he missed the turn and wound up running an extra half-mile or mile.) Anyway, what will make Turkey Trot 2005 memorable for us was the weather. The temperature was 17, and a strong and steady wind put wind chills into the below-zero range. The icy crosswind, which fought us all but a one mile of the 7.5-mile course, cut right through us. About the only positive aspects were that it was sunny and there was no preciptation during the race. I've run hundreds of races over the years now, and I don't recall competing in conditions as brutal as those of yesterday. (At the other extreme, there was the Moonlight Chase near the Quad Cities in July 2001, when at 9 p.m. the temperature lingered in the 90s.) If you are a runner, what were the toughest conditions in whch you competed? Photo (c) 2005 Telegraph Herald. Posted with permission.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday's front page of the Telegraph Herald showed people camped outside Dubuque's Best Best store -- prepared to wait hours and hours -- just for the opportunity to buy the newest version of Microsoft's video gaming system Xbox. I'm confident that it was happening outside stores all across the U.S. It reminded me of what I observed in Russia 15 years ago. Only, then and there, the people lining up outside the stores were hoping to buy bread. And we wonder why people in certain parts of the world resent Americans? (Photo (c) Telegraph Herald, 2005. Republication or posting without permission prohibited.)
Monday, November 21, 2005
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
The Envision program -- or Envis10n, if you follow the logo -- is in the home stretch. This community visioning process, which started in July, has as its goal to identify (based on citizen suggestions) 10 "great ideas" for the future of the Dubuque area. On Thursday, I was among the 300-some volunteers who in various sessions voted on which of the 100 top ideas (initially, there were more than 2,000) should be kept among the final 30 suggestions. We convened in Dubuque Greyhound Park & Casino's meeting room, where Vernon Research Group conducted a series of meetings. Each participant had a hand-held device -- like an oversized TV remote -- to record his or her choices. Our 1 p.m. group had 60 participants. The 100 ideas were divided randomly into 20 groups. For each group of five, volunteers got to vote for one idea. To make the process statistically valid, the ideas were reshuffled and we did it again. The ideas ranged from the relatively modest (24-hour child care facility, for example) to the grandiose (monorail service between Dubuque and Chicago or Quad Cities). After the volunteers' 30 favorite ideas are identified early next week, the selection committee will go back and pick the final 10. When the list is release, the Telegraph Herald will report it. Even if none of the 10 ever comes to pass -- not likely, given this city's reputation for getting things done -- I believe that this process has encouraged more of us to keep looking ahead and "thinking big."
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
This will be the last installment of my Nashville "travelogue" (I promise!) The second (and final) night of our weekend in Music City included a stop at B.B. King's club, which Saturday night hosted a Sam Cooke tribute to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame. Among the performers were Bobby Hebb, who in 1966 took "Sunny" to the top of the charts. Also on the card was Billy Swan, whose "I Can Help" reached No. 1 in 1974 ( "It would sure do me good to do you good ..."). However, neither performed his pop hit. The show was all about Sam Cooke (pictured), and they performed only Cooke compositions. Nearly 41 years after his death, he is still celebrated. They had plenty of great songs to perform. What is your favorite Sam Cooke composition?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
There is something special about hearing a hit song performed by the composer (rather than the performer on the single). At The Bluebird Café near Nashville on Friday night, I had the experience of hearing P.F. Sloan, (pictured) one of the great songwriters of the 1960s, perform his protest song, “Eve of Destruction,” which Barry McGuire took to No. 1 on the charts. Sloan also wrote several hits for The Grass Roots and The Turtles. Now 60 years old, Sloan played acoustic guitar and harmonica and gave an emotional vocal rendition of “Eve of Destruction.” Actually, the entire event was a night of original compositions. As it regularly does, The Bluebird brought together four singer-songwriters to perform “in the round.” Joining Sloan were Don Henry, who was part of the “Freedom Sings” troupe that performed in Dubuque in April 2004; Gary Nicholson; and Russell Smith, of the The Amazing Rhythm Aces (”Third Rate Romance, Low Rent Rendezvous”). A great and memorable evening!
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Objective:To find a position within a company in my particular field.
Thanks. That narrows it down. But could you be more specific?
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Yes, I remember 1965. It was the year The Beatles released their "Rubber Soul" album. I've listened to Rubber Soul off and on for four decades, so I was intrigued to hear that contemporary artists -- people who weren't yet born in 1965 -- had re-recorded "Rubber Soul" with their own interpretation of the songs. It's called "This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to The Beatles' Rubber Soul." I had never heard of the Cowboy Junkies or any of the three Bens on the disc -- Lee, Harper and Kweller. I'm no music critic, but I will say that this 50-something Beatles fan loved the concept and liked most of the tracks. Some songs were faithful to the original -- which sort of seemed contrary to the idea -- and other tracks were barely recognizable as the cover of a Beatles song. My favorites: Ben Harper's reggae twist to "Michelle," Rhett Miller's "Girl" and "I'm Looking Through You" by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Least favorite: "What Goes On" by Sufjan Stevens, who -- let's face it -- was stuck with the worst song on the album. This CD won't go platinum, but for a Beatles fan interested in a change of pace, it's worth the purchase.