Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On News War

Having just visited Grand Central Station a few days ago, thought I would reacquaint myself with the inside of the Amherst train station off Main Street (photo). In a word -- spare.
Great Frontline, last night, on the "News War" and L.A. Times as an example of a newspaper in the middle of the maelstrom. I'm definitely going to read the extended interviews online at as I particularly liked some of the things Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media, and John Carroll, former editor of L.A. Times, had to say.
Just about everything that could be called journalism online has its start with experienced reporters on the ground; if they go, everyone is in trouble, Carroll said.
Kramer is really good on the benefits of having stories online -- you can link to all kinds of supplemental and background material. News on paper, on the other hand, gives readers a context depending on where articles are placed. Also thrusts in front of us news we wouldn't necessarily seek -- and therefore not be exposed to online, where we can zero in on just what we're interested in. Love this Kramer quote:
"The ratings issue is an interesting one, because this is the chicken-and-egg problem. Do you do stories that taste good, or do you do stories that are good for you? And will people view and read stories that are good for you, or will they read the stories that taste good? It's a never-ending problem. "

Monday, February 26, 2007

Really Big Show

Had to work yesterday. Sunday. G-r-r-r-r. But as often happens, got to check out something I probably never would have seen otherwise: The Really Big Show, in Northampton, an annual Ed Sullivan-inspired extravaganza. Turns out Amy Johnquest, a former Gazette co-worker was Ed (photo)and her dog played Ed's mouse friend Topo Gigio. (Not being a Sullivan expert, I only learned yesterday about Topo Gigio.) Loved Amy the BannerQueen creation hanging above ticket counter at Academy of Music where Really Big Show transpired, a sign hung about 7 feet high, saying, "You must be this tall to ride the wild mouse." (Amy's nicknamed BannerQueen for great circus-inspired banners. She said it was only the second time she has performed in public. First time was Karaoke after a few margaritas.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pillow fight to potatoes in NYC

Happened upon a large urban pillow fight at Union Square in NYC Saturday. Turns out it was the second annual one. How had we missed the first one? Here's what I found online at on it:

Kevin Bracken and Lori Cherilyn Kufner are the duo Newmindspace, which promotes free pillow fights, subway parties, capture the flag games, bubble battles and more in New York and Toronto.
In the spirit of turning the city into a giant playground, this favorite slumber party activity has been placed in an urban setting and the number of participants has been multiplied :)

Lots of different kinds of potatoes on hand at the Union Square farmers market too (photo).

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Room with a view

Grand Central Station as seen out our hotel room window.

New York City: just like we pictured it

Here's Brian looking kind of -- what? Wistful? Says he was wondering what the chances were he'd get to see live music in NYC Friday night. Likes to spend less time in hotel room than I do. Says things like, "It's 8 p.m. and we're in NEW-YORK-CITY" just as I'm getting my pajamas on. We're staying at Grand Central Hyatt with Dad, Paul, Nicky and Eddie et al. Right below our window is the fabulous statue at the entrance to the station. Here we are, Grand Central Station -- the veritable synonym for busy hubbub and we're tucked away in our ultra-quiet suite, I keep saying. (Eddie, a hotel sales manager got us a great deal.) Dinner at the atmospheric Grand Central Oyster House. And as it turns out, Brian DID get to hear live music -- with Eddie.

Friday, February 23, 2007

On the beat

I was a camerawoman, albeit not very quick one, for Amherst Democratic Town Committee production on impeachment (you know who) last night. Met for the first time Carl Doerner, a fellow reporter, filming the 90-minute panel discussion with a hand-held camera. I see he was born in 1932, so he's 75 years old and a dedicated small-town scribe. Said he's also been filming things for 40 years. Now he wants to learn one of the new programs.

Enter people like me for whom technology is getting user-friendly enough that I think I can try to try (as Bart Simpson would say) to learn something I used to think was too technical. I see Carl has written a book with a beautiful cover (see photo).

Speaking of impeachment, does seem that power corrupts absolutely. Didn't realize it could start messing with people's minds so fast, though. I refer to the recent missteps of Gov. Deval Patrick, including asking the People to pay for $10,000 office curtains and $46,000-a-year leased Cadillac. To his credit, says he'll pick up the tab himself but suggests he doesn't know what the fuss is about.

Dad, Brian, Paul and I are off to NYC for a couple of days to see Eddie, Krista and William.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Found a lucid, and, I think, comprehensive summary of forces affecting journalism at Inegrated Media Association site (see link and excerpt below). Mentions online retail expansion as a factor. Funny, I was just thinking of expanding into retail yesterday, after my sister Kathy said she loved the "To-day is the to-morrow you were worried about yesterday --and all is well," picture I posted a few days ago. Said it sums up our mom's family's world view. I said, "It yours," because she clearly loves it more than I do. Prompted reflection that I could post photos of things to give away and/or sell here. Hmmm. Maybe a contest.

Lately, I am thinking of things I should rescue from the road to oblivion in the basement, while on the Nordic Track. DEFINITELY, this photo I SO treasure of me interviewing Ted Kennedy and Richie Neal in 1999. Gazette photographer Gordy Daniels (speaking of treasures!) took it in Springfield and Kennedy's then press secretary, a saintly guy named Will had Kennedy sign it for me. LOVE the wry message: "To Mary Carey -- Keep those tough questions for Richie and give me the easy ones -- Warm regards Ted Kennedy Dec. 99"

Here's an excerpt from Integrated Media on the state we're in: As we reach the end of 2006, the "Echo-Boom" in online service continues unabated--and from what we can see, the processes may actually be accelerating.
Most of the expansion can be traced directly to four basic factors:
First, the continuing roll-out of broadband connections, allowing increased use of complex online applications;
Second, the emergence of massive communities, involving both interaction and individual expression; and,
Third, increasing acceptance of and confidence in online financial transactions, allowing for a steady expansion of online retail; and
Fourth, the movement of online marketing dollars .These advances are interwoven with a sweeping change in approach, often called "Web 2.0," which views "The Web [as] a platform, a foundation upon which thousands of new forms of business would emerge." This shift in thinking focused practitioners on the inherent power of networks where radical decentralization and "the wisdom of the masses" could produce impressive results--like Wikipedia or open source software--that rival the products created within traditional proprietary, centralized systems. For more on this see
Ellyssa Kroski's excellent analysis of the "Hype and Hullabaloo of Web 2.0".)
The combination of all these factors have profound implications for the management and conduct of all forms of digital media, including public broadcasting as we have known it.
For one thing, all media is taking a digital form and "public service publishing" has expanded dramatically--if you extend the definition of public media to any individual or organization creating and distributing media "in the public interest." Technical advances and innovations have eliminated barriers to entry. The cost of audio and video production has spiraled downward. Podcasting and media aggregation sites, where you don't need a license to distribute audio and video, now reach millions of desktops and iPods. With ubiquitous blogging software, everybody can be a journalist, a critic, a pundit at a cost of no more than $20 a month.
The speed of this change has been nothing short of revolutionary.
For example, in 2003 blogging hardly existed. Two years later in January 2005
Technorati was reporting 27 million blogs. By mid-October 2006, that number hit 55 million, with the number of blogs doubling every five months.
The same can be said of podcasts....

The most powerful element of the Internet is not it's capacity to deliver individual streams or podcasts. It's the network.
Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace and many other decentralized sites are demonstrating the power of networking--which is reshaping the fabric of media."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dogs Plus Fun plus AlphaSmart = great story

Charming story by Nick Grabbe in the Daily Hampshire Gazette yesterday on the most popular dog names in Amherst, Easthampton, Northampton and nationally. Max is the national favorite and in Easthampton. It's No. 5 in Amherst and No. 8 in Northampton. Top Amherst names: 1) Buddy, 2) Maggie and tied for 3) Bailey, Daisy, Max. Northampton favorites: 1) Maggie, 2) Molly, 3) Lucy, followed by Sadie. Easthampton's Top 3 names: Max, Mollie, Maggie (4th is Jake).

Reporting this story was an incredible amount of work for Nick. Getting the Northampton data involved him transcribing over a thousand names handwritten on separate pieces of paper with his vintage AlphaSmart.

Photo is one my sister Maureen just happened to post online yesterday of her dog Butter and friend. She calls it Dogs Plus Fun.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nancy Drew

Question. Is there a Cat Bloggers Association of America (or World)? I ask because Media Bloggers Association EXPLICITLY says its ranks aren't open to bloggers about their cat. "Cat blogger," I take it, stands for all the lonely bloggers out there reflecting on their sad little lives. A person apparently has to write about something grounded in objective reality if anyone is going to be interested. Best to have a niche like politics and a like-minded group of fellow bloggers linking to each other. But if you must write about yourself and cat best to have a lively mind and be a good raconteur. Aye, the rub. So is there a cat bloggers association?
Speaking of lonely pursuits, reflected today on Nancy Drew after catching sight of my collection of a half dozen books about the teenage detective from my childhood. Wish I could remember how old I was when I was reading them. Maybe 10 to 12. Keep forgetting that these were probably the most formative books I've ever read. Author is Carolyn Keene, a pseudonym for a group of writers, I see: The Williston Children's Theater is actually presenting a series of plays based on the books. Shows are Mon.-Sat., Feb 12-24, at 3 p.m., each day. Info at 529-3434. Hmmmm.
Realize this morning that reading Nancy Drew books is why I would have wanted to be a detective when I grew up. Here's the first few lines out of the first of the series, "The Secret of the Old Clock": "Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible. She had just delivered some legal papers for her father. 'It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday,' she thought. 'And it's fun to help in his work.'"
Perchance there is a Nancy Drew Bloggers Asssociation?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Home town

Here's how much snow there was in Pittsfield yesterday -- about twice as much as in Amherst. Saw Altan, a fantastic Irish band at the beautiful, recently restored Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

Once a national-class venue for the likes of Sarah Bernhardt, it had been largely boarded up and was kind of an art, framing, wallpaper shop when I was growing up in Pittsfield. I was a frequent customer. Then, on July 14, 1998, I and a huge crowd see Hillary Clinton, who had designated the theater a national treasure prior to its restoration, on its front steps. Truly moving, even though I'm not a fan. Here's a link to her speech. Love this part: "I'm so grateful to be here, and I cannot tell you how I felt as I was traveling down the road on my way to Pittsfield, and some of your friends and neighbors were out in their yards, or in front of service stations, and I think there was a place called Jimmy's on the side of the road. Some of them were waving flags, they were holding up their babies, and I thought, "Boy, have I come to the right place."
Wrote one of my favorite stories that day, an interview with four 11-year-old girls who had waited for hours to see Hillary. Her coming made them feel like "Pittsfield is good," one of them said. It brings tears to my eyes to think of that.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Womenly things

I keep thinking about Maureen Dowd column Saturday semi-making fun of Oprah and “The Secret,” a self-help book by Rhonda Byrne, an Australian reality-TV producer.
"A main tenet of The Secret," Dowd writes, "is learning to avoid the chain reaction of churlishness, which begins with a single thought: “The one bad thought attracted more bad thoughts, the frequency locked in, and eventually something went wrong. Then as you reacted to that one thing going wrong, you attracted more things going wrong.”It’s an apt description of Iraq policy. A bad thought that led to more bad thoughts, and the negative frequency is now locked in on Iran, which is responding with its own negative frequency.With The Secret, W. will realize that all he needs to do to change his current reality is admit that it’s fake. " Would like this more if she didn't rag on Oprah because as we know O gets the last laugh. On Leno a couple of nights ago, he has one of his Jaywalking quizzes, in which he identifies three seemingly clueless passersby and asks them questions about history etc. None of the contestants recognized a photo of Nancy Pelosi who Leno described as the most powerful woman in America. The face and description don't match, says one of the contestants -- "That's not Oprah." Photo is of chocolates with rose water, a Valentine's Day present from Brian with chocolate rose tea I bought at Atkins. Tea doesn't have the same exotic flavor the chocolates do. Oh, since this is all about womenly things like Oprah, chocolates and roses, here's Hester, my CAT.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Brian in orange

Perfect day. Jog up Notch followed by shopping at Aktkins.

Scenes from my jogging route

I always like to take the same route every time I jog (Brian always likes to try something new, another way we're different). Tried to get some photos of people in here too, but they can be so much more difficult than landscapes and inanimate objects which don't talk back. See co-worker Scott Merzbach outside the Jones Library. Refuses to let me take his photo, even though I say, "Please, Scott, Please, Scott, PLEASE!" Almost run into Selectwoman Hwei-Ling Greeney a minute later but she is walking so fast I never would have gotten the camera out in time. Says she'll call me. Wonder if my blogging mentor Tom Devine will record the beautiful day with his camera today. Check out his scenes from downtown during the Valentine's Day storm. Says he bought someone special something for the occasion at Silverscape and reflects a little on his romantic history. Good luck to you Tom, just don't stop blogging!!! First photo is view from Strong Street heading to North East Street . 2) is 83 Strong St. I'm very intrigued by this compact new house; suspect it's energy efficient. 3) barn on North East Street 4) gravestones for sale on Main St. Was going to snap ginkgos on Amity Street but batteries run out.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pelosi for president and the gargoyle within

Heard an interesting theory last night: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while officially on record saying impeachment of Pres. Bush and Vice Cheney is "off the table," has actually been refining her appearance -- new hair-do, teeth, face lift -- to look presidential. After the VP, the House speaker is in line to assume presidency if president is removed. She doesn't want to be seen angling for the job, but wouldn't try hard to derail impeachment effort. An Amherst Dem floated this idea at ACTV last night, where I was getting crew experience operating the camera. Brian impersonated "talent," by walking around to audience members with a microphone so they could ask questions. I filled in for the entire audience by constantly switching seats. Had a revelation while watching the resulting tape: giggling gargoyle inside of me is constantly breaking out. Pray I never tire of trying to keep the gargoyle within. Photo is of an old picture from my late aunt's house.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ode to the Bulletin

A pipe dream I have is that someone will read all the local blogs including this one along with Amherst Bulletin stories and other representations of Amherst and write a book somewhat along the lines of "Home Town," Tracy Kidder's book about Northampton. In this pipe dream the author writes a chapter about the Amherst Bulletin and its staff including the colorful Nick Grabbe, Phyllis Lehrer, Scott Merzbach and others. Or maybe there could be a movie.

Anyway, Patty Appelbaum, a scholar of religion and a great Bulletin office manager until injuries to her hands forced her to leave, came back for a little office party in her honor today with her husband Bill. To our surprise, she read some verses she had written about the paper and staff. Note to future author of book about Amherst: see Patty's self-described doggerel below. P.S. Saxotech is the name of our new computer system. Photo is Patty and Bill at the party.

God bless you, Amherst Bulletin!
May nothing you dismay;
Not budget cuts, or Saxotech,
Or contractors at play.

Here on Nick's opinion pages
Hear the words of local sages.
Every controversy rages.
Nick, impartial, disengages.
How can he maintain his balance?
Must be his amazing talents.

Mary guides our movie choice
And elegantly does her job.
With honest eye and deadpan voice,
She skewers Robie, Anne and Rob.

Whatever people do for fun
We'll play along and laugh with Dunn.
Sometimes he is even witty
Reporting on the School Committee.

Scott's reporting range is awesome:
Amherst cops to Alexandra Dawson.
Agriculture, school kids, art,
Pierogies, politics, Wal-Mart.

Judy sees who comes and goes
And keeps Dave Marley on his toes.
She's accurate, and fast, and sweet,
And very, very, very neat.

Allie, Allie, I don't know you:
On the B-Board they bestow you.
May it bring you much delight.
Get the times and places right!

My Bonnie is over the river,
She's laying out text and design,
She's dealing with space limitations,
Don Cerow has missed his deadline.
Bring back, bring back,
Oh, bring back our Bonnie to sanity;
Bring back, bring back,
Oh bring her back all in one piece.

Three Haikus for Phyllis
The telephone rings.
Someone with news to share says,
"Phyllis Lehrer, please."

She's out. "Will Bob do?
Or Mary, Scott, even me?"
"No, no -- who are they?"

Wherever she goes --
farmer's market,. town hall, club --
people know Phyllis.

Everyone I haven't named:
Jim and Noah, widely famed,
Sherry, Rachael, Sandi too,
Dan and Bobby, passing through,
Marty, Paris, David Russell,
All who join the daily hustle:
rest assured I won't forget
The days I worked for the Gazette,
And when you wonder if we need it,
Remember that I also read it.
--Pattly Appelbaum

Beautiful day

Find myself singing lines from song that didn't win at Grammy's, "You're beautiful, you're beautiful, you're beautiful." The other line I remember is "It's true." Song is by James Blunt, a cutie from England. Wikipedia on what the song's about: Reminds me of the pair of anti war demonstrators singing on the steps of Northampton City Hall on New Year's Eve. Repeated "It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small, small world" -- for over an hour! Said they were the only lines they could remember from the song. As it happens, I remember that song -- only those lines, too -- from a World's Fair ride I took in, I think, 1967 Montreal (I would have been 10). Wikipedia on the ride:
In the
"it's a small world" attraction at the Pepsi pavilion, animated dolls and animals frolicked in a spirit of international unity on a boat-ride around the world. The song was provided by the Sherman Brothers.
Loved NYTimes story today about "brainman" diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. He sees numbers in 3-D with colors and personalities. "The number four, for instance, is shy, and reminds him of himself; nines are scary and imposing. Ones are shiny and bright, eights are blue, fives are loud and 333 is beautiful."
Photo is shadows on snow in the front yard today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day 2007

First major snow/sleet storm of 2007. Tried to get cat to pose outdoors. She declined. Photo is scene out back door. Neon tooth not quite perceptible on building in back courtesy Dr. Pastorello, the dentist also responsible for Amherst's most famous Christmas lights yard show on Whippletree Lane.

Gazette reports judge rules UMass plant and soil sciences professor Lyle Craker should be allowed to grow high quality marijuana for medical research. He's been trying to get permission for six years! U.S House of Representatives discusses non-binding resolution on Iraq.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Breakfast with Beyonce

Photo is Brian and aspen trees by Gold's Gym Saturday. Ten inches of snow expected tomorrow. G-r-r-r-r.
No, I didn't have breakfast with the fabulous Beyonce. UMass student Georgia Kelley did while interning with the Today Show in NYC. Told the class about it at an internship workshop Monday. Was also Meredith Vieira's personal assistant for two weeks. Ho-hum to that part. Will ask the students if they were impressed as I am that she ate breakfast with Beyonce, though. Love the name Beyonce -- and Georgia, who gave a great little talk. People at places like Today appreciate UMass students because they often try harder than Ivy League types, she says. "You don't whine," says Journalism prof. B. J. Roche, adding for good measure, "Don't whine." Too bad more UMass students don't apply for internships like it, says Jeff Silver, of UMass Career Services. No UMass students doing NYC internship this semester. "It's disgusting," says Georgia.
For my part, I was oblivious to Beyonce until I saw her in "Dreamgirls." Saw her again on Grammy Awards Sunday night. She was good, Christina Aguilera, very good. Not crazy about Dixie Chicks song, "Not Ready to Make Nice." Canned, hokey. Also bugged by the way Justin Timberlake didn't look at the winner of the viewer's choice contest to sing a duet with him. She looked at him. I'll see what the experts have to say.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Scenes from Pittsfield dog show Sunday

Dad and Mary show Mary's mild mannered Shar Pei, Gwen, at 6th annual Not Your Average Dog Show at Berkshire Community College . (Wikidpedia says about them, "The Shar Pei breed comes from the Guangdong province of China where it was well-known as a fighting and guard dog. It is suspected that due to the laid-back nature of the Shar Pei, the dogs had to be drugged to induce them to fight." Look like land manatees.) Brian and I also spend time with therapy Chihuahuas Chalupa and Chloe. They visit visit Alzheimer's patients with The Human-Animal Health Connection. I try photographing other dogs, but they move FAST!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Aspen trees by Gold's Gym

Asked Brian to point out Aspen trees (much on my mind with Scooter Libby trial). They're practically in our back yard.

Brian and I on rail trail Feb. 10

Rare photo of Brian and I in hats jogging on rail trail yesterday. I rarely wear a hat, having thick hair such that people called me Nefertiti in college. Brian: frequently in a hat even indoors in winter despite retaining all his hair. Although an ecologist (at Hampshire College) likes to make corny jokes like "Global warming? Bring it on." Or, "What's not to like?" Also likes to make jokes refuting endangered species advocates who say a little pesticides OK if it allows farmers greater yield from smaller amount of land, so endangered species can live in unfarmed, undeveloped space. Species eventually go extinct, jokes Brian. (Pesticides long term consequences likely bad, the point.) Spends most of his free time researching sustainable energy, especially windmills. My joke? "If only we could harness energy spent reading about windmills and convert to cash."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bulb shows in 21 days

Borrowed photo of cosmos in front of Emily Dickinson's house from unnamed photographer in wondrous blogosphere. Got me thinking about when the Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges bulb shows are this year.
Answer is March 3 - March 18, 2007

Joe's pizza, chocolate, Anna Nicole

Brian and I finally get into Joe's, formally known as Joe's Cafe Spaghetti and Pizza House, in Northampton. We're there early, 5 p.m. or so after dropping Nicky off at Pearl Street for gig. Not invited to that. Salad and pesto primavera pizza does not disappoint. Later, we buy chocolates at Ben & Bill's and at Cornucopia Foods gourmet chocolate annex at Thorne's. Commendations to the charming salesman. Today, I read in Times about the luxury chocolate market. Article suggests giving high -end chocolates is ego-boosting for the giver at best. Mentions highly regarded, 10-part piece of "investigative blogging" on $2,000-a-pound Noka chocolates. Checked it out. at Really well done. Love this little snippet in which author imagines what goes on in head of overpriced chocolate purveyor's mind before getting rich:

"Katrina Merrem has often spoken of the epiphany she had on a Swiss mountaintop--the moment in which her career goals turned from accounting to the world of chocolate. What must that inner monologue have sounded like?
You know, accounting's a drag. It's time to pursue something genuine and fulfilling.Maybe I could buy some French-made chocolate, trick people into believing I made it myself, melt it down and mold it into tiny rectangular tablets, stick them in over-sized boxes, slap on a ridiculously high price tag, and sell to that segment of the population who fallaciously believe that price is necessarily commensurate with value.Or I could join the Peace Corps.Nah, the chocolate thing sounds way more fulfilling."

And, his point?

Enlightening conversation with co-worker Scott Merzbach about Anna Nicole Smith yesterday. HE brought it up. (See his comment at previous post.) I say she's a rags-to-riches icon (the Times today says she is NOT). OK, if not, then she was the closest thing to living Barbie doll. Magic.

Brother Eddie, by the way, said he and wife Krista saw Prince a few days ago at the same Hard Rock hotel where Anna Nicole died. Was great, except Prince at some point says something like, "Love you, Vegas."


Friday, February 9, 2007

ACTV, Anna Nicole RIP

Whew! Emotional day yesterday beginning with news of Anna Nicole Smith's death. Reminder of how suddenly assumed fixture can be taken away. Story in the NYTimes today stinting, mean spirited, noting in the lead that she "was famous, above all, for being famous, but also for being sporadically rich and chronically litigious." Please. She was an American rags-to-riches icon. At least, writers note at end her generous attitude towards the media. "I love the paparazzi," Times quotes Smith saying. "They take pictures, and I just smile away. I've always liked attention. I didn't get very much of it growing up and I always wanted to be, you know, noticed."

Later, at Amherst Community TV board meeting, interim executive director Jim MacAllister delivers scathing report, noting he wouldn't take the permanent job if they offered it to him. Board creates an environment "many times more unpleasant than anything I have ever encountered in my 30-plus years as a working scriptwriter and video producer," he notes.

Board puts a stop to MacAllister's reading aloud of report. Members, we learn, were to have signed a 10-year contract with Amherst. "Thus the cake," board member Paulette Brooks says gesturing to said cake in the middle of the table. Signing didn't happen because colorful board president Isaac BenEzra had been rushed to hospital with heart palpitations earlier in the day. Brooks and board VP Ernie Urvater try to make lemonade out of a lemon and cut the cake anyway (see photo).

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Did not check out OK

Love the NYtimes mini-editorial "The Tragedy of Lisa Nowak," about astronaut who drove cross-country to attack her romantic rival in an airport parking lot with pepper spray. Would not be out of place in Bulletin cop log. (More ominously, she was also toting an air pistol, steel mallet, knife, four feet of rubber tubing, latex gloves and garbage bags. Told police she was going to use the pistol to "entice" her rival, an Air Force captain, to talk to her. Object of both women's affection -- married astronaut named William Oefelein. He seems to have eluded scrutiny so far, but then again, I slept through the late night comedians' analyses last night.)

"The incident makes one suspect that NASA needs to provide more support for astronauts than the usual employee counseling programs," Times says today. "Captain Nowak's drama played out in an airport parking lot. Imagine a comparable scene at a base on the Moon or on a spaceship to Mars."

Speaking of space, heard with class UMass Prof. Jospeh Goldstein give a Distinguished Professor presentation on asteroids about which he divines much using his metallurgy skills. Has an asteroid named after him. Advised students to find out how much of a distinction this is. Presentation, as UMass Chancellor John Lombardi noted afterwards -- abstruse (I paraphrase). Wished someone had asked Goldstein to suggest real-world implications of "controversial" conclusion that some asteroids were perhaps 30 times larger than suspected. Nobody did.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Detecting, creating, reporting

Phyllis Lehrer, my esteemed co-worker, and I check out the latest Amherst Bulletin Police Log-inspired art exhibit at the UMass Student Union last night. Very nice illustrations. I was impressed by some of the reflections they provoked. "Let's say they border a fine line between illustration and a very subjective exploration of fantasy and memory," Young Min Moon, a UMass professor of art said. "I just think it says a lot about our society's perception of right and wrong," art student Sara Wildavsky said. "People have different perceptions of what to be afraid of, and when they report something to the police there's a huge gamut."

Police reviews of the log itself: mixed bag over the years. But without doubt, reporters are intrigued by the police. We're both trying to establish what the facts are, verify them and prevent the spread of misinformation. It took a visit by co-worker Rachael Hanley to the class for me to realize I'm not only the only reporter who wanted to be a detective when I grew up. Many or most of us probably did! Link to the Bulletin police log: and to art exhibit info
Photo is of Phyllis entertaining and enlightening Journ 300 students at exhibit.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Windy day yesterday, sky-high gas and electric bills to pay today

Brian and I get into big energy debate this morning, after $568.91 propane gas delivery and monthly electric payment accelerating toward $100 mark. "We've got to start turning off the lights when we're not using them," says Brian. "We should focus on dryer and computer," I retort. Clash ends in stand-off.
Meanwhile, at Select Board last night, Peggy MacLeod (See photo) of Center for Ecological Technology, explains that if about 100 more Amherst residents contribute $100 to New England Wind Fund by March 31 (bringing Amherst residents participating to 3 percent of total population), the town receives $27,500 to advance renewable energy efforts. This, through a Mass Energy Consumers Alliance Program promoted by CET. I know Brian is going to sign up -- at
Bet we could have generated some electricity if we had a windmill in the yard yesterday!

Monday, February 5, 2007

The best cheese sandwich I ever ate

Isn't it a bit of a challenge when someone asks you what your favorite movie is, say, or your favorite actor, restaurant or song? I used to say my favorite movie was "Paris, Texas." Lately, I've been saying it's "Sideways." I always feel like I'm taking a vacation, when I watch it, which has been about four or five times and I usually don't like seeing a movie more than once. Even so, to say it's my favorite is kind of a canned answer. I feel more sincere when I say my favorite sandwich was the Swiss cheese on wild rice bread I ate once at The Old Creamery Grocery on Route 9 in Cummington. Yes, the one with the cow on the roof. Photo is of Brian there on our way to Pittsfield Saturday.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Down with war; bring on the voluptuous women

Saw "Volver" yesterday. Loved how sensual it was and interested in women's lives. What a great character Penelope Cruz plays. Cruz is fantastic ! Also a nice change of pace from war movies, which I've seen a lot of lately -- and war. I was interested in Times columnist David Brooks observation today about young people who've come to political consciousness "amid impeachment, jihad, polarization and Iraq." They tend to be pragmatic, centrists, he said. Reminds me of people who live with alcoholic personalities. Non-extremism is good and yet I can see how someone would get drawn into extremism by circumstances. "Volver" offers a way of thinking about that dynamic, as the Cruz character takes some pretty bold actions after being backed into a corner, so to speak, but mostly she's pragmatic and life affirming. After the movie, Dad, Brian, Mary Andrews and I went to a Mexican restaurant in Williamstown, Coyote Flaco, (see photo) worth a visit for the excellent mojitos.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Snow comes to Amherst 2007

No snow is fine. Snow in moderation, not out of line. (Dick Cheney a swine.) Groundhog said yesterday it would be an early spring. Photo by me on a morning jog.

Franklin M. Loew's excellent tombstone

First significant snow accumulation of the year and a bea-u-tiful, sunny day. The town manager was shoveling his walk on Amity Street about 8-8:30 a.m. or so. If he'd waited a little bit longer, looks like the guy on the sidewalk snowplow would have taken care of the whole street. I got out of the operator's way, as he was going a lot faster than I was jogging. Jogged into the Wildwood Cemetery for the first time ever.

Seeing a beautiful brick house at the entrance, I was a little nervous that someone would say I shouldn't be there. ( I dread negative interactions of any kind -- not a great attribute for a reporter. Thought of Dick Cheney telling CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer he was "out of line" for mentioning to Cheney that his daughter Mary is having a baby while being lesbian, something Cheney's base frowns upon." Blitzer should have asked the question again. Cheney probably would have said the interview was over; CNN could have shown THAT and it would have been very instructive.)

Anyways, I was happy to see a sign on the house that it seems to be a public building in asmuch as it is called a chapel and has a plaque naming Fidelia Dickinson as a benefactress in 1897 on the side. Thought about a memorable tombstone I'd seen in the cemetery my aunt Barbara is buried in, a huge rooster. Wondered whether there might be any unusual tombstones here. YES! I discover about a minute later. Franklin M. Loew is buried beneath an running horse. He was president of Becker College, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University and dean of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, according to wikipedia and "a leader in pushing the boundaries of veterinary medicine forward."

Friday, February 2, 2007

Trials and tribulations at ACTV

Completed the Amherst Community TV workshop last night by producing two 5-minute practice segments. Class members include two Town Meeting members named Alan -- Alan Root and Alan Powell; three Amherst Democrats -- David Boyer, Kimo Lee and Emily (she was absent last night); two Tango teachers -- Jaime and Alexandra Alvarez; Nicky and me. Instructor is Sean Kinlin. Nicky, Alan Powell and I were camera people for the first spot. Root and Jaime were the "talent," with Root interviewing Jaime on the history of Tango. Went great. For the second spot, Nicky was a sound person; Root, Alexandra and Kimo were camera people; Jaime directed with Powell doing the titles. David and I were the "talent" talking about presidential candidates. David, who the titles kept identifying as Mary Carey: great. Me: overtaken by giggling fit followed by tears I had to wipe off my face while waxing on similarities between Howard Dean's and Barack Obama's early prospects. Took me back to uncontrollable giggling fits from grade school. Note to self: maybe rethink me as "talent" in movie review show I'm proposing.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Kitschy Amherst

See comment from Cave man's girl -- does she mean THE caveman? -- on Gazette Talkback today in response to a story about parking in town. Ditto on how long you have after the meter runs out before getting a ticket (10 seconds). Wonder which stores she finds kitschy. (Photo is of a painting that hung in our house in Pittsfield that I rescued from oblivion. My brother Billy said I disrespect it by finding it kitschy. But the real motivation for liking it is nostalgia.):

Parking in Amherst is a joke. We waited how many years for a parking garage and all it did was relocate about 20 above-ground parking spots to underground parking spots. And the ticketers are on your car within ten seconds of the meter running out. Then Amherstonians wonder why businesses fail, and their schools have no money because there's no business tax revenue. I'll do my shopping in Hadley, thanks. The stores may not be avante grade and kitschy, but they have heard of parking lots in that town!
Cave man's girl Thursday, Feb 01, 2007 at 02:07 PM

On Death

Instructive exchange in class yesterday. A Taiwanese student said a famous TV star named Hsu Wei-lun had died in a car accident, a sad occasion that might be of comparable significance to, say, if Britney Spears had died. Suggested she interview fellow Taiwanese students at UMass and write about their reactions for the Daily Collegian. Reminded me of the animated discussion Brian, Nicky and I had after seeing "The Queen," about Princess Diana's death. Whose death would cause a similar outpouring of grief, we wondered. (Nicky said maybe Bono.) Class reaction to Britney Spears was mixed, most scoffing at the comparison to Diana . But they still seemed surprised when one student suggested Britney's death would be better compared to Saddam Hussein's.

Photo is of Hsu Wei-Lun, I think!) and link to story: