Winter has worn out its welcome.
The brief spell of spring-like weather at the beginning of last week drove home that my body is ready for winter to be over. A couple of days after the high temperature peaked in the 60s, we had high temperatures in the 40s and lows in 20s. In January that would have felt positively temperate. Not now.
“The paper is mainly full of bad news.”
A reader, or maybe by now it’s more accurate to call her a former reader, included that in a letter this week. News, as defined by what most news organizations write about, was at the very bottom of the list of things she wants in a newspaper.
It’s a complaint that editors have heard at times literally for decades. It’s not true, though.
The Girl Scouts frown on selling cookies in front of liquor stores, tattoo parlors, pawn shops and Hooters.
Or so I’m told by a friend with a daughter in the Girl Scouts.
If at least one of those places would take up selling groceries, I’d stand a decent chance of achieving my goal of entirely avoiding Thin Mints.
The past year has been a whirlwind.
On Jan. 20 last year, I moved into a garage apartment in Oak Hill. The next day I started work at the News-Topic.
Now I’m a homeowner in Lenoir, and I have been working here four months longer than I did when this place gave me my first reporting job in 1987-88. It doesn’t feel like it has been a full year.
You can go to our Facebook page and share some of your favorite winter stories. I’ll share a few of mine today.
Lies, bigger lies, and statistics.
That, or a variation on it, is among the first replies we hear at the News-Topic each time we have a story about the local unemployment rate dropping, as we did in Wednesday’s paper.
Probably few people are as aware as I am that highly opinionated people can be irritating.
I know this because I rarely meet anyone with more opinions than I have.
Early in November we made a significant change to the News-Topic. Editor Guy Lucas, Circulation Manager Mike Lambert and I have spoken with many of our readers since. While we cannot bring back the Saturday edition, we have tried to be flexible and attentive to your suggestions.
Facebook’s death has been announced, though the obituary hasn’t been written and funeral arrangements remain incomplete.
News of Facebook’s demise comes from England’s University College London, where a study on social media, who uses it and what they use has found that among current teenagers in Europe, “Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried.”
Only a few days away and all of the festivities will be over, including the shopping, family get-togethers and great meals. The carefully wrapped presents will be opened and the paper tossed. A few days after that the tree and decorations will be stored away for another year. Then we’ll race into 2014.
But there is always something magical about Christmas. People are a bit friendlier. The lights are bright and beautiful. The singing is more powerful.
I was able to get an early peek at local kids' letters to Santa because one of the little-known duties of local newspaper editors is to serve as a temp administrative assistant for Santa, sorting his mail and typing.
I haven’t written to Santa in something like 45 years, but all together, the letters inspired me.
Think about how dependent we are now as opposed to generations ago, when people survived by growing their own food and didn’t even imagine televisions, much less computers, iPads and iPhones.
The world of worthy endeavors is wider than the pages of this newspaper.
When the News-Topic ran a story on Tuesday listing what the story referred to as “a few” of the nonprofits serving Caldwell County, that’s just what it was, “a few” and “a place to start.”
We could not begin to list all of the charitable organizations serving the county.
Christmas surrounds us in Caldwell County. For instance this is parade weekend (and here’s hoping that much-talked-about rainy weather stays away). Friday night was the City of Lenoir’s parade, with several more parades scheduled for Saturday.
If you’re on the Internet much, it’s hard to avoid coming across cute videos of cats or cute pictures of cats with cute captions on them.
The Internet also is full of things like a stop-animation video from Bricktease.com in which someone restaged the police chase inside a shopping mall from “The Blues Brothers” but using Lego toys. Seeing it is one of those truly mind-blowing experiences that leaves you thinking, “There is so much silly stuff on the Internet.”
And that is a positive development, according to Clay Shirky, who studies the effects of the Internet on society.
Well the Thanksgiving eating and football marathon is past. Black Friday is just a memory of massive crowds all fighting over the same $5 video. The largest part Christmas shopping season is ahead of us, including Cyber Monday on Dec. 2.
It made me think about where all of these shopping days originated.
What’s in a name?
It might be true that, as Shakespeare wrote, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
But we probably wouldn’t smell it much if it were called a horsebutt, or a vomit.
Which is why you can bet the name Heritage Home Group did not just get picked out of a hat or at the last minute, out of nowhere, when KPS Capital Partners chose it for the new name of what until last Monday was known as Furniture Brands International.
The heavens are exploding above you, every day.
Whether that equals vast interstellar carnage and the snuffing of civilizations or it’s just interesting science trivia, we may never know.
Reflecting on Thanksgiving is good for the soul.
This year I will spend Thanksgiving with my brothers and sisters, their spouses and children in Illinois. It’s rare that we all ever get together, as we are scattered from east to west, north to south. But our dear, sweet mother has entered the final stages of her nearly 13-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and we want to spend the holiday with her and each other.
My parents’ generation never forgot where they were that December morning when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and less than four years later when World War II was over. My generation and our children’s generation will never forget where we were when the Twin Towers were hit and collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.
And finally, it is doubtful anyone of my generation will ever forget where they were the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and later died.
There is nothing new under the sun, but now there are people with advanced college degrees to label everything.
You don’t need a college degree to know that this is a conservative, religious area. But maybe you need one to assign Caldwell County one of 15 labels, putting it neatly into a demographic box, the better for consultants and journalists in big cities to understand without having to visit.
This weekend the News-Topic is also changing. As you know we have combined our Saturday and Sunday News-Topic into one publication that we have renamed the Weekend Edition.
Now, you can curse me as an old fuddy duddy — and maybe I am starting to look like one, since the first thing my new doctor asked me was how many flights of stairs I can climb — but didn’t autumn used to come before Halloween and last longer than five days?
So Daylight Saving Time will end Sunday, and most of the country will return to standard time, which means for most you’ll now leave for work in a little light and return to your home in the dark.
So why does DST exist, and who does and doesn’t conform?
It’s not always the father, but often it is, who gets upset when someone turns the air conditioning down low in the summer or turns the heat up high in the fall and winter.
At least, that’s how it was at my house.
It must also be how it was for most of my friends growing up because at this time of year, almost all of them hold off turning on the heat. They see how long they can last without it.