Friday, December 29, 2006

Heaven=Books

I was planning to write the typical year-end column - a backward-looking, wistful, mushy, learn-from-my-mistakes type of piece. But frankly, everyone does it and I generally skip reading them myself, so I'll save you the trouble.
My dear family gave me what I really wanted for Christmas - a stack of books. I have dug in eagerly to the first in the stack - the updated Freakonomics By Steven Levitt and Stephen J Dubner. I just finished an econ class (my last semester of graduate school - woo-hoo!), so I jumped right in expecting...I don't know what I expected. But what I have found are well-written stories, weaving together elements of regression analysis, urban myth, parenting lore and sumo wrestling into a study of micro-economics. Very interesting and written in Dubner's voice, which I learned to love in his soul-searching (and God-searching) book, Turbulent Souls.
Other books in the haul include Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts (of NPR fame), The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman, and Life Happens by Cleveland area Pulitzer Prize winner Connie Schultz. Life is good.
What are you reading (or intending to read)? I'm looking forward to the latest Martha Grimes book - I know it's out already, but I just haven't had time. Soon, very soon. 2007 looks like a good year for reading for pleasure, as opposed to my recent readings for school or work. Glad to be here, now, surrounded by opportunity to grow and learn, love and laugh.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Musings About Public Radio

I am an NPR junkie - I'l admit it. I have a two-hour round trip commute daily, so I have plenty of time to myself, and generally I fill that time with "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered," "Fresh Air," and other shows, depending on the hour.

Why do I spend so much time with Michele Norris (and isn't it interesting that her name is spelled Michele but pronounced Mee-shell?) and Steve Inskeep? In part, because I crave intelligent, adult conversation, quirky stories, and international views. I also squirm with discomfort when subjected to shock radio and goofy local radio hosts sponsoring call-in embarassment radio.

What don't I like about NPR? I don't like long, protracted stories dissecting and analyzing a story to death, or multiple stories about the same topic in the same half-hour segment. Maybe this is an anti-Headline News concept. HN recycles the same stories every 15 minutes, which is great if you have a limited timeframe in which to catch up on the news. In both "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," the listener hears fewer stories, but much more about each story than s/he ever expected. Much of it is interesting, occasionally even fascinating. Sometimes, however, the stories slog along, flogging the dead horse of interest, until I am desperate for anything else.

I also don't like reporters interviewing each other when they have run out of news to report - not that NPR has a lock on this one. CNN is by far the most aggregious offender in the interview-an-interviewer race. Most interviews are with people who play at least a tangential role in the news story being covered. There is at least something intriguing about eliciting a personal perspective with an occasional unexpected twist - a correction, a sharp response, etc. - from a person of interest. But, really. A reporter who is covering the story should never become the subject of the story. Report honestly, candidly, and fairly. Respectfully but persistently question, then let the interviewee speak for him- or herself. (It's okay, CJ. Breathe.)

When I have had too much of either of these annoyances, I switch to my CD deck for an ecclectic mix of music...but that's another post.When I travel for business, one of my first priorities is to locate and listen to the local NPR station, trying to find my "comfort" radio. It's a bit like bringing a framed photograph of loved ones to set on the desk in my hotel room - a familiar, friendly face or voice to remind me I'm not alone. So here's to public radio - let's support it, use it, and tell its keepers what we think of it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Welcome to the blogosphere

I write for a living - policies, booklets, benefits information, training presentations, PowerPoint slide shows, newsletters. I write very little for myself. That's the purpose of this blog - to give me a reason to write other than for work.

One of the ways I handle stressful situations is to declare, "That's going to be a chapter in my book!" Say it often enough, and you realize the eventual book will become a ten-volume set. Will I ever write it? Maybe. More likely I will talk about it for a few more decades. It's not that I don't think I can write a book. What holds me back is that I don't think what I have to say will interest anyone else. I could be wrong, and if so, I will write!