Sunday, August 31, 2008

Live Streaming Gustav Watch: Hey Bras in Houma

A bunch of guys in Houma, La., right in the path of Gustav, are live streaming their storm watch, otherwise known as drinking beer and sitting around. One of them got up and wandered away, then came back to announce, Dude! There's 2,800 people watching us!

Man, it's interesting to see how people are using Twitter this time around to share info. Check out NolaDawn, YatPundit, MidCityGirl, and GambitWeekly (The altpaper in NOLA.)

Other handy links:
All the tv stations in NOLA, live streaming. (You'll have to turn down the volumes on all of them but the one you want to watch.)

Gambit's Blog of New Orleans

It's amazing to watch Bourbon Street live.

A guy who gives good link.

This list is so money


Or, anyway, that's how they might put in "Swingers" (No. 14), if the characters in that Jon Favreau/Vince Vaughn classic were discussing today's Los Angeles Times compilation of "The 25 best L.A. films of the last 25 years."

What makes a movie an L.A. movie? My fave, "Chinatown," isn't listed but that's only because it's older than the arbitrary 25-year cutoff. So what else would you look for: cars, beaches, babes, mystery, defining neighborhoods? You'll find a little bit of all of that in this excellent list.

Yes, the Oscar-winner "Crash" is here, but only ranked 25th of 25. And Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann and Paul Thomas Anderson all show up too, but probably not for the films you'd expect. There are surprises aplenty here alongside predictably deserving SoCal scene-setters.

"Mulholland Drive," "Boyz N the Hood" and "L.A. Confidential," sure. But "Friday"? "Valley Girl"? "Fletch"?

Check out the list, if nothing else, for a handy guide next time you're in the video store or managing your Netflix queue.

(Photo credit: Bruce W. Talamon, from "Devil in a Blue Dress," via Los Angeles Times)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

This week in politics


I’d barely formulated opinions about all the big Democrats’ speeches from Denver this week – my take: Clintons effective; Obamas disappointing – when I heard someone on the car radio Friday morning saying something that didn’t quite make sense. She was praising and thanking Hillary Clinton, and then speculating about how cool it would be this fall if “we” could break through those 18 million glass-ceiling cracks. Huh?

Who was this anyway? By the time I figured out that “we” meant she, it was clear too that the speaker was Sarah Palin, John McCain’s surprise pick as his Republican running mate. Brilliant, I thought! Or maybe stupid! I keep changing my mind.

For most of the week, my reactions to all the political news have been pundit-free. Which has been great. Michelle and I Tivo’d and watched the big speeches together after she got home from work, fast-forwarding through the glib insincerity of Brian Williams, the Botoxed filler of Andrea Mitchell and the inane spatting of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. CNN and PBS were slightly less annoying. We didn’t even try pathetic Fox or the over-matched ABC and CBS.

The big revelation for me, though, came on Wednesday. Somehow the Tivo had stopped recording Tuesday night before Hillary’s speech was over, so I went online to watch the conclusion. I found it thanks to a link to Huffington Post from Michelle’s Google Reader. That and Kaye’s excellent posts on the Nitenote, I thought, were just about all I needed to take in the news and color of the convention and form my own opinions.

M&M, HuffPo and Nitenote: Call it NNN, the Nitenote News Network.

I loved Kaye’s reports on being interviewed on the street by high school students – “Stay smart,” she advised them – and on Bill Clinton’s speech – “That’s right, Mr. President, go on” – but my favorite was her gut-wrenching yet funny admission of mistaking Willie Brown on the street for Jim Clyburn.

Argh, NNN’s very own MBP.

I can’t say I agree with Kaye’s high opinion of Barack Obama’s Thursday night speech, though. She was so smitten she couldn’t get out much more than a headline, “Wowbama!” I know a lot of people agree with that assessment. Even the conservative commentator Pat Buchanan called it the greatest convention speech he’d ever heard. I don’t think so.

What did you think? I’d love to see speech reviews or overall convention impressions here from the M&M faithful.

If you missed the speeches somehow, here they are.

Obama accepts nomination:



Bill Clinton:



Hillary Clinton:



Michelle Obama:



Joe Biden:





(Top photo credit: Flickr user rklau under Creative Commons Attribution license)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Franny's Bday

Happy 14th birthday Franny!!!



See Franny's birthdays past...

Correction o' the week

One of the all-time greats, from today's Seattle Times:

Business: The name of dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster was misspelled in a Wednesday story about Microsoft's spell-checker.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michelle Speaks















I realized half way through that I wanted to jot down the key words in the speech. Apologies that these notes are therefore incomplete:

in my own small way
see
that's why

i believe that each of us
has something to contribute
working block by block
help people
lift up their families
welfare to jobs
women get equal pay for equal work
fighting

see
that's why
to end the war
to build an economy that lifts
to make sure health care
too make sure
world class education
he'll achieve these goals
how alike we really are

you see

see

that's just not how he sees the world
he knows
he knows
one nation
neighborhoods in chicago,
hope to the mother
hope to the man
hope to the student
hope to people

barack understands
barack will fight
barack will bring finally the change

see

The barack obama I know
he's the same man
(chuckle)
(heh)
determined
determined
the affirming embrace
(sniffle)
as i tuck that little girl in
you see

this time
we listened to our hopes
dreaming
this time
a girl from the south side of chicago

single mother

white house

the world as it should be

my father's memory
my daughter's future
triumphs

everyday sacrifices
work together
hopes

See?

THX to Amy Jeffries for posting this photo under the creative commons license.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another M&M milestone

Don't look now, but we've jumped into the top 1 million blogs as tracked by Technorati. Number 966,270, to be exact. Now, 1 million isn't all that impressive, you may say. But it took a long time to get here. And it's not bad considering we have only the same seven readers coming back to visit.

I think what may have put us into the six figures was this recent link from WordCount/by Michelle Vranizan Rafter, a blog about freelance writing. She included M&M in a post about using an avatar or illustration to promote yourself. As Rafter says,

Michele Nicolosi, assistant managing editor at Seattle PI.com maintains a personal Website called M&M for herself and her S.O. Mark. The Simpsons-esque characters totally works because Michele really looks like that!

Leaving aside the spelling thing and the fact that we don't use M&M to promote ourselves as freelancers ... True that. She really does!

What genius created that picture anyway?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Taste of the Opening Ceremonies





The lighting of the torch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wii-lympics Night 1: update

Mark: I challenge Gina to a game of tennis.
Gina: Okay. But you're going down.

Thank you, little chocolate donuts

In honor of the Wii-lympics and the Olympics, this offering from a great American.

Let the Games Begin

video

Tonite we began a vast undertaking: Wii-lympics, pitting Mark, Franny, Gina and me against each other in an extended round-robin of tennis, ping pong, skeet shooting and bowling.

Updates to come ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three rules

Thirty years ago, at the end of that interminable summer following high school graduation, it was finally time for me to leave little Roseburg, Ore., and go start my new life at the University of Oregon. I packed up the few things I needed and my parents drove me to my dorm. As we approached Eugene, about an hour from home, my mom cleared her throat and said she had something to tell me.

College is a big change, she said, and you're going to meet a lot of new people and have a lot of exciting adventures. As you should.

"I've only got three rules," she said, "and I want you to promise me you'll follow them. Don't grow a beard. Don't buy a motorcycle. And don't get anybody pregnant."

Well, those didn't seem so imposing. I had no money to buy anything but textbooks, I wasn't even able to grow a beard on my peach-fuzzy face, and lord knows I'd been in no danger of making any babies, even if I wanted to, which I didn't, although I wouldn't have minded being in the vicinity.

OK, then. Good advice, Mom, and no worries.

But, you know, things change with time. A few years later, while still in school, I had wormed myself a part-time reporting job at the Eugene Register-Guard and one spring I did in fact let a scraggly little red-tinged beard grow in. And I had become friends with Mike Stahlberg, who served as my unofficial newsroom mentor and was, as he is now, my poker Sensei.

Stahlberg also owned a beautiful motorcycle -- a 1979 BMW R65 (now a classic, but at the time still a pretty new bike) -- and he let me ride it a few times. Soon he decided to upgrade to a larger BMW, an R100, and offered to sell me his old one. Done. I barely thought about it. I loved the bike, the feeling of power and speed and sensory awakening it offered, and I was thrilled to own it. Mike and I shared many awesome weekend rides through the mountains and the Willamette Valley farmland and I imagined myself to be about a hundred times badder than I ever was.

At the time I was dating a very cool and pretty woman I'd met at the paper, Sheila. Remembering Mom's three college rules I proposed a surprise weekend visit to Roseburg. Mom didn't know about the beard or the bike, so I asked Sheila, who was a much better sport than she had reason to be, to ride down to Mom and Dad's house on the back of the Beemer with a pillow under her shirt.

When we got there, I parked the motorcycle within view of the front door and left it running as we walked up and rang the bell. There we stood with our helmets, my beard and Sheila's "belly" when Mom opened the door. The look on her face is still one of my all-time favorite memories.

All this comes to mind because lately, for reasons I haven't really analyzed, I've found myself thinking again about owning a motorcycle.

I haven't had one for years. I took the BMW to San Francisco when I moved there in 1985 but it was stolen. I bought a crappy Honda off my boss, but it was stolen too. Later, after I moved to Seattle, I bought the same R65 model that Mike had sold me, but it didn't measure up to the original and I never loved it. By the time Gina was born in 1993 I felt through with motorcycles and sold the replacement-replacement Beemer to some guy on the copy desk.

The other day, though, browsing Craigslist classified ads, I spotted a "vintage" R65, which led to a vintage cycle site and finally, this click leading to that, to the Harley-Davidson site. I think I spent an hour reading all about Harleys and contemplating the differences between all the models.

When I mentioned this to Michelle she listed all the good (and true) reaasons I should have my head examined, not least that straddling an 800-pound machine at 60 mph would be a lousy time to have a seizure. She won't even get in the car with me.

Still, the Harley site brought back memories and relit a little pilot light. I noticed that a dealer located south of downtown Seattle offers bikes for rent, so this afternoon, with no agenda or commitment longer than midday tomorrow, I plunked down a few bucks to borrow the above-pictured 2008 "Softail Classic."

I haven't really spent much time on it this afternoon, just a cruise along the Duwamish River and Alki Beach, but I have to say it's an awesome ride. I'm not sure what's driving all this -- Death Wish 2008, maybe, or Rebel Without a Brain, or The Midlife Crisis That Wouldn't Die -- but it felt perfectly natural to be atop a motorcycle again. I like it.

Maybe that's all I needed. When I take the Softail back tomorrow, maybe that'll be that.

In other news, I shaved this morning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

All in, all out

All this poker talk lately has stoked my desire (like I need any encouragement) to go try my luck at the Muck. That and the $100,000 the casino is giving away this week to its regular poker players.

Every hour from 7 to 10 p.m., every night this week, the poker room manager draws names from a barrel until five players receive $1,000. That's $5,000 an hour, four hours a night for five nights: $100,000. Free money. All you need to do is be present, and have played at least 25 hours of Muckleshoot poker in the past three months. Nothing to it.

Well, the more hours you play the more drawing tickets you get, and we were on Pie in the Sky for two of the three months this quarter so my chances aren't so good. Still, I've got enough hours to qualify, with three tickets in the barrel. Deal me in!

With a mix of duty and hope I trundled out to Auburn on Monday -- and Tuesday, and tonight -- to mix it up with the degenerates and, on the hour, to listen for my name. I don't mean to sound bragadocious, but I've liked my chances. Since we've been home all the bad luck and the bad play from the road have receded and I've been enjoying a nice poker-room heater. Every time I've played I've booked a win; a hundred bucks here, two hundred there, a couple of tournament cashes. I'm up about $1,000 in the past month and feeling comfortable, if not cocky.

Somehow, though, through a combination of ugly cards, unprofitable decisions and unfortuitous timing, things haven't worked out as I imagined. After pot after losing pot, I found myself rebuying chips on both Monday and Tuesday. Not to mention, my ticket wasn't drawn from the free-money barrel.

Turns out my three tickets were quite the long shot. Some players have dozens of tickets. I heard there are about 3,000 in the barrel in all, meaning I'm about a tenth of 1 percent shot to hit any time a name is called. Those odds haven't stopped several players with fewer tickets than I have from scoring a thousand bucks, and some with only a few more than I have have been called two, three, four times. Gambling's so random.

Plus, all the free money in the room has brought out every crazy, money-starved wacko gambler who ever logged two dozen hours. The action has been crazy. Raising and re-raising with nothing. Drawing to two outs, or less. Betting blind. Every goofy play you've ever seen.

On Tuesday, the poker action wasn't enough for Edmund -- "not Ed" -- a 20-something, vodka-chugging Asian kid who sat down at our table. When another young drinker joined the game, Edmund challenged him to a game of rock-paper-scissors for $20. They argued terms of the bet for half an hour. "I don't know," the newcomer said, "I like to gamble on my terms. You're coming on all like some kinda a rock-paper-scissors master."

"I've got an idea," I said. "A three-way spelling bee for a thousand bucks."

That shut them up, but only for a few minutes. Eventually they went off to the bathroom -- no joke; gambling (other than poker) isn't allowed at the poker table -- to play rock-paper-scissors for $100 a pop. Edmund took him down, or so he said.

Meanwhile the hyper atmosphere seemed to have everyone on edge. One of the dealers told a story about a guy, a couple of weeks ago, who took a bad beat and literally spit on the woman who beat him -- a mouth full of chewing tobacco. Michelle and I happened to be there that night. That story prompted one about the guy who cold-cocked another player at Diamond Lil's, knocking him out with one punch (Michelle and I were there for that one too), and then I told about the guy in L.A. who, mad about a bad beat, walked out to his car, came back to the poker room and heaved a golf ball at the offending player, hitting him in the chest and knocking him down, leading to the summoning of police.

So the dealer Mario recounted the weirdest poker-table tale he'd seen recently, about a drunk young woman in Seat 6 who pulled a breast out of her lowcut dress and then, later, leaned back and plopped her leg onto the poker table, revealing a Britneyesque lack of undergarments. The way Mario told the story, three players at the table were older gentlemen with their wives sitting behind them; they concentrated on looking at the chips directly in front of them. But the guy in Seat 5 couldn't help looking at the display on his left.

"Action's on you, sir," Mario recalled saying. And, to the woman, "Please keep both feet on the floor, ma'am."

Who knows.

When I got to the Muck tonight I ran into Freddie, a 50-ish regular, who was also waiting for a game. "They draw your name yet," I asked. "Christ no," he said.

My goal, I said, was to lose less than a thousand trying to win a thousand.

"A thousand? More like two thousand," Freddie said. "I'm down 300 a night so far."

Poor bastard. At least I'm not that bad off. A couple hundred here and there, and tonight I won the first three pots I played, up a hundred-plus in half and hour. Nothing to it. But the cards turned, I yinged when I shoud have yanged, and by 8 o'clock -- the second drawing, but my fourth hour at the Muck -- I was down almost a hundred bucks, nearly $500 for the week.

Free money. But not for me. Time to go home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bedtime reading for the Raineys

At dinner tonight with my friend Jim Rainey and his charming family, I pulled out my camera to snap the above pic and Michelle mentioned that the Rainey clan soon would be appearing on M&M.

"So," Alison said after asking some questions about the blog, "we can read about you tonight until we fall asleep?" Sure, I said, that's what we do.

Ho ho.

The Raineys are visiting Seattle on a quick Pacific Northwest vacation from their home in Los Angeles -- South Pasadena, actually -- where Jim is a kick-ass reporter covering the presidential campaign and the media. Among his many excellent recent "On the Media" columns was this smart take on the "irony deficiency" in the hubub over The New Yorker's Obama cartoon cover.

Jim called in advance asking for Seattle tourist tips, which is kind of funny considering I never do anything here but go to the casino or the movie theater or the baseball park. But I mumbled some stuff about the outdoors -- kayaking, maybe, a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, a walk around Seattle Center, possibly a tour of the Hendrix-inspired Experience Music Project rock museum. Amazingly, they're fitting all those suggestions and a couple others into their short stay.

I think that impressed Michelle, who opined tonight that Seattle's a boring place to visit. "What could you possibly do here for three whole days?" Has she ever mentioned that she grew up in Italy?

Anyway, the Rainey mob seemed to like it here. The weather's gorgeous right now, for one thing.

We were all going to meet for dinner at our new favorite West Seattle restaurant, Matador, but when the Raineys showed up -- including Cole, 15; Libby, 14; and Hank, 8 I think -- we learned that Matador is an adults-only joint. Cole, endearingly: "Too bad for them, they just lost out on some business."

True that. We just walked up the street to Elliot Bay Brewing Co., where we ordered burgers and beers and caught up on LA Times gossip, the downfall of the newspaper biz, presidential politics, and music the cool kids are listening to these days. Cole's suggestions were all bands I've never heard of and already have forgotten. Libby says she's into Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell lately. (Fine, kid, but when you're done my mom wants her record collection back.)

The evening's only disappointment was that we completed dinner too late, by 15 minutes, to finish off with an ice cream cone at that West Seattle institution across the street, Husky Deli.

Still, a fun night was had by all, I think -- even Hank, who fell asleep on Alison's lap. The Lake Washington canoe race this afternoon may have worn him out.

Poker hall of mirrors

As Michelle's cool Google news reader pointed out this morning, Stuart "Pay The" Pfeifer's excellent poker story -- and, even cooler, M&M's backstory version of it -- were picked up on a site called Fishbowl LA, by editor Mayrav Saar, whom Michelle worked with back in the day in OC.

Mayrav mentions yesterday's post, and then does a quickie Q&A with Stu, in which he confirms (whew) that I did in fact introduce him to casino gambling. My favorite question: "Do you curse his name for having introduced you to this?"

It's all kind of fun. At one point Stuart says of me, "So I really owe all this to him." Cool, so where's my cut, sucker.

I had lunch with Mich yesterday. Her two-word review of the entire post: "He's cute."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hamlet and the queen are no longer friends



You so need to take 1 minute out of your day to read McSweeny's Hamlet, the Facebook news feed edition:

"Horatio thinks he saw a ghost.

Hamlet thinks it's annoying when your uncle marries your mother right after your dad dies.

The king thinks Hamlet's annoying.

Laertes thinks Ophelia can do better.

Hamlet's father is now a zombie.

- - - -

The king poked the queen.

The queen poked the king back.

Hamlet and the queen are no longer friends.

Marcellus is pretty sure something's rotten around here.

Hamlet became a fan of daggers."

More here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My vicarious life


I know the feeling. My friend Stuart Pfeifer got in his car in Los Angeles and headed toward Las Vegas, $1,500 in his pocket ("money that could be spent on something useful") and dreams of the World Series of Poker dancing in his head.

"The odds were so bad," Stuart writes, "that I might as well roll my window down and toss my hard-earned money into the blazing desert."

Except that he doesn't do that. He goes through with it, as I did last summer, entering a World Series event and taking his chances against 2,700 players including some of the pastime's biggest names. Happily, he fared much better than I did. He not only lived to tell about it, in an excellent first-person story in Saturday's LA Times, but he finished in the money, for a profit of about $7,000. Awesome.

I'm happy for him, and also unaccountably proud. I had nothing to do with his success, of course, but Michelle and I played with Stu in a home game a couple of times, and introduced him and another LAT colleague and friend, Joel Rubin, to the addictive, stressful (at first) fun of playing poker in a casino.

Safe to say they've both gotten over those early-days jitters. Stu and I played at the Commerce in April on an early Pie-in-the-Sky stop (he cleaned my clock; I snapped the above photo moments later), and Joel recently sent a hilarious recounting of his bad-beat exit from a tournament at Hollywood Park in LA. "My nemesis?," he said in an email. "I am told later his name in Sam Simon -- one of the creators of 'The Simpsons.' Worth, literally, a billion dollars. He cashed at the 2007 WSOP and was married to Miss January."

Anyway, I'm happy for Stuart. Great finish, great story.

Maybe next year Michelle and I and Stahlberg and McCumber and Sam Skolnik (our P-I friend now working and winning in Vegas) will meet Stu and Joel at the final table.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Week in Review

Show captions for the editorial comments ...




For a slideshow with larger images go here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wow

I can't believe that M&M is the No. 2 search result on Google for "behind the green glass door." That so rocks.

Here's our original post on that riddle, with riddlemaster Allison.

JOA bowling night

Last night Michelle and I met my good friend Jim Simon for dinner, beers and some good old-fashioned newspaper war gamesmanship at the Garage, Seattle's retro-cool hipster pool hall and bowling alley. Jim is city editor at the Seattle Times.

I forgot to take a picture of the nice lanes, but maybe Michelle will upload one later.

One thing I noticed: Wii bowling is much easier than real bowling.

Between gutter balls I heard Michelle and Jim cooking up some antitrust-breaking scheme to save Seattle journalism. They got as far as agreeing that one paper should continue publishing in the morning and the other should be distributed free in the afternoon, but I don't think they ever decided which was which.

Settle the whole JOA thing with three lines of bowling and a best of seven 9-Ball tournament, and I like the P-I's chances.

Way to go, M&Mers

A few more blogarversary photos rolled in this morning. Thank you. It's great to see what everyone's up to.

Michelle's mom Freda is thinking about buying this cool house.



And Gaby, daughter of our friends Donna and Ed in Seal Beach, just won a big tennis tournament on Sunday. Here she is, with a friend before the match, and with her trophy afterward. Good job, Gab!



Let's see. Hmm, Ronelle? Haven't heard from you for a while ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Blogaversary to us


Thanks to Kaye for the headline, which she used atop a nice note and the above blurry photo in response to yesterday's shout-out to M&M-ville on the occasion of this blog's first birthday.

Our second annual request for reader photos drew an infinitely better response -- three participants, against zero last year -- but we still got a lot of apologies in the forgot-my-camera, saw-the-post-too-late vein.

OK, my bad, we put out the call sorta late in the day. But come on, people. Be cool like Kaye and Val and Rita, who all are busy and/or technically challenged too and yet managed to send a pic.

You can do it! It's not too late!

Here are the entries so far.


From Kaye:
Hi -- here is what I am doing today:

First, I am pining because I sent Val off to Vegas today on his business trip -- training on a new platform for TIC -- that will last all week. Sigh. (Maybe he'll send you an iPhone pix of his day from there. I'll suggest it when he calls me later.)

I am keeping busy by adding new functionality to californiaauthors.com. Today, I am working on including a zip code search of independent bookstores, so users can buy books online from local indies. (If they're into that sort of thing.)

[Above] is a picture of me at the con, bristling with technology -- grabbed with my iSight webcam, hence the quality -- working on CaliforniaAuthors.com and feeling relived and happy that the thing looks so good on the iPhone. It is ready for the new new new world (Props to Val for the elegant css that makes that possible).

Happy blogaversary to us, my friends. I know it sounds sappy, but feeling connected to you two is actually one of the best things that happened to me this year. And the wider M&M world ... that's the cherry on top! Thank you for all the co-conspiracy, carping, stupid fun, inspiration and friendship.


From my mom:
As promised, here's a glimpse of how I spent my time on M&M's birthday:
I watered my beautiful hydrangeas and decided to pick a bouquet for my living room.
I spent a little time practicing a watercolor while listening to favorite music.
I browsed arouind Borders bookstore for a while before stopping at the market.
For dinner I fixed Michy's great pesto tortelloni dish, with my home-made pesto.


From M&M:

Michelle at the bakery:
From Val:
From the checkin line at Luxor...

(Val wins for coolest thing to be doing.)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Incremental Updates, Annual Edition


Glancing at my M&M Calendar I notice that, unbelievably, it was one year ago today we launched this stupid blog.

Michelle's first post, "One day I couldn't stop blogging," was about how we both felt something missing after the fun of blogging our big adventure earlier last summer at the World Series of Poker. So, Incremental Updates was born.

Since then we've built a small but regular community of M&M'ers -- our moms, Kaye & Val, Mich, Janice, Laurie, a few other lurkers -- and we've all shared a few laughs, stories and photos from our little lives. Like "Seinfeld," M&M is a show about nothing. And that's what I love about it. We're far from perfect: It's been noted that we're overly generous with our movie-rating gliomas; I also remember confidently predicting that Hillary Clinton would be president; and who could forget the awesome carrot fight?


But we've also found an excuse and a place to document some excellent meals with friends, watch Gina and Franny adapt to teenagerhood, appreciate the unexpected misanthropic fun of brain cancer and record highlights from our awesome Pie in the Sky II tour of America. Pretty good.

Flipping back through some early posts I ran across this genius idea by Michelle, A challenge to our readers: Send us a photo of what you're doing today. Unfortunately, due to laziness, technical problems or just low readership, no one participated. Here was the follow-up post: What we're doing today.

So now, all of us being a year older and more technically adept, let's try again. Send us a digital photo of what you're doing today, it doesn't need to be fancy, meaningful or even in focus, and we'll post a little M&M birthday album.

It's our blog's four-glioma birthday wish. And we blew out all the candles so it has to come true.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An August Night




For a slideshow with larger images go here.

More checking out of the camera, low light with no flash, trying out wide screen, sepia and B&W. ...

West Seattle @ Nite




For a slideshow with larger images go here.

We walked up to the junction last night for dinner at our new favorite Mexican place, The Matador. I took my nifty new little Canon SD 1100 with me to test out the no flash/low light capabilities of the camera.

I've pretty much decided that the 8 mp camera takes pictures in normal conditions as well as my behemoth Canon 20d, and have stopped carrying the monster around. It doesn't, however, take low light photos anywhere near as well as my 1.4 50 mm lens, but the light show is fun anyways ...

Friday, August 1, 2008

'I am a newspaperman'

"For some unexplainable reason, I am compelled to say that tonight."

That's how Steve Smith, my old Eugene reporting colleague and now editor of the Spokane Spokesman-Review, opened his elegiac blog post last night on the passing of the newspaper business as he and I once knew it. Some might find Steve's essay overly nostalgic or even treacly, but it struck me for its naked pining and undercurrent of frustration. I feel his pain. As Michelle and I talk about all the time around here -- too much, maybe -- how the hell do you rescue this stupid business?

Should Seattle-size papers turn into a collection of hyperlocal West Seattle Blogs? Can the LA Times be the LA Times without the half of its newsroom it has lopped off since I worked there? Do you really need a newspaper film critic when you've got The Cooler?

I found Steve's post while checking back to reread something I'd spotted on his "News is a Conversation" blog earlier this week, a report by the Spokesman-Review's "Task force for content evaluation," appointed by Steve. The report, available here, isn't particularly groundbreaking and I don't agree with all the conclusions -- "Have a dedicated Web re-write person" seems upside-down to me, for example -- but I like the discussion of priorities. It's a start, and something every newsroom should be doing if it hasn't already.

It's easy to get lost in all the industry's hand-wringing. Michelle's recent Google Reader pick, "Newspaper Stories We Tell Ourselves," by Ken Doctor, is a nice tour through the head-in-the-sand thinking that helped get us here. But it doesn't reach any brighter conclusions than Steve Smith's anxious newsroom committee.

Interestingly, while his "content evaluation" crew may have inadvertently spurred Steve's lament for old-time "newspapermen," his own paper is among those smartly bridging the new and old eras. The Spokesman-Review is a leader in newsroom transparency, for example, beginning with Steve's blog and including a daily look inside the paper's news meetings and other decisions. And it's still rockin' the house with some old-school shoeleather stuff like this week's investigative report naming the 10,000 people who bought counterfeit high school and college degrees from a Spokane diploma mill.

As a fellow dodo -- Steve's metaphor -- I read that and felt like I'm "still a newspaperman" too. Even if I'm really not one anymore.