Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nurturing your little introvert

Now, I don't want to panic anyone - but...

$4 a gallon gas.


Let's break this down - almost a year ago, people were complaining about $2.25 fuel. Now, it's $4 due to the hurricane. No doubt there're some greedy bastards who are profiting from price gouging. And anyone who bitches about having to fuel up their SUV's because of this storm and turn on the news to view the devastation. You still have a house, a-hole. Shut up and donate to the Red Cross.

Yes - if you were to adjust to inflation, fuel would be about the same price as it was in the '70s. But wages have not increased enough to match inflation for a long time. And It's our own damn fault. If milk were still fifty cents a gallon last year, then all of a sudden, the price jumped to $3.00 a gallon, you would have people freaking out as they are now. If it were a gradual increase, say 25 cents a gallon for the past few years, we most likely wouldn't blink an eye at this $4 a gallon tag. But now... like it or not - our lives are changing faster than we can prepare.

They are changing because people are starting to factor in fuel as a cost. It used to be that a lot of people would take a trip to a city 50 miles away to try a restaurant or even drive across town to see a movie at a better theatre and not bat an eye about filling up their car. Now... fuel is a factor in that decision. "Am I willing to spend $20 on gas for a 110 - mile round-trip trek from Lincoln to Omaha?"

As you can see, this is going to likely result in more and more people staying indoors or closer to home. Thank god for the Internet - at least that tool has a bit of human interaction tied to it. But otherwise, you're going to find more and more people opting to stay in and watch TV. I'm hoping this price shock will result in cities going into crisis modes and devising far better public transportation systems, but we'll see. I'm also hoping this will result in more people walking and biking places. But we'll see.

The thing that we will definitely see is more and more people are going to become introverted as a result of this spike. Subscribe to Netflix, start reading more books and get a few buds online, because this gas crisis isn't going to go away anytime soon.

Diving head first

My roommate just threw down about $150 for bike shorts, a helmet and bike shoes. He's starting to get into mountain biking again.

My other friend - who has a blog here is planning on immersing herself in a creative writing program. This will require putting together a 50-plus page portfolio and getting three quality letters of recommendation in two weeks.

Me - I'm stuck.

I'm working 50 hour weeks, but everywhere I turn around, I see another reason why I want to get back into the journalism world on a full-time basis. The camaraderie in the newsroom, the rush you get when you have a tight deadline and you meet it - the feeling of pride you get when someone you don't know emails you a compliment on a story.

I can't fully immerse myself in technical writing. There are some people who can. I can't. I can partially do it because new technology (Dreamweaver, RoboHelp, FrameMaker) excites me to no end. But in essence, technical writing is a lonely field. You usually are the only technical writer. And everyone else in your company is too busy to give you adequate feedback.

I guess I'm one of those folks who needs to fully immerse themselves in a job or occupation or career to feel fulfilled, alive, etc. But I'm making a decent wage, and I haven't totally given up on the freelance gig - a way to indulge this passion and still be able to afford stuff like a house payment. The phrase "you are not what you do" is true. I just wish I could believe it.

Current listening selections

OK Go - Oh No

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

Kanye West - Late Registration

Friday, August 19, 2005

How I spent my summer

Well, Summer is coming to an end. I used to rank my summers much like how I rank albums now. I think starting at age 10, each summer had to top the next summer - sort of like how the Hollywood box office has to top the year before. Obviously, I was crushed when I was 11, I had to spend the majority of my summer in my grandmother's radon-rich, moldy, decaying house with only a paper sack full of GI Joes and Transformers to entertain me (the neighborhood was heavy on elderly, unemployed and college students and light on kids). No way that summer was going to beat the summer when I was ten, when I saw Ghostbusters about five times and Gremlins about 15 times and played basketball until it got dark - and watching MTV's "Friday Night Video Fights" and calling in to vote for Duran Duran's "The Reflex" (it worked, I think "The Reflex" was one of the only videos to get retired from MTV's "Friday Night Video Fights").

I think it was in college where I stopped comparing summers. They all sort of started to blend into one another. Sure, I had a summer soundtrack for each summer, but I gave up trying to rank one above the other. Nowadays, with a full-time job, it's getting even harder to identify any album that defined my summer. So, here's my recap of the summer I'll use only as a reference -

Movies I liked: Good question - Not too sure. Wedding Crashers was really good. Star Wars - Episode III was good solely based on the fact that it wasn't a total cinematic abortion like the previous two. Still, there was no Spiderman 2 in terms of great overall entertainment, no Fahrenheit 9/11 to piss people off or no Sideways or other movies you can honestly see yourself watching again and again.

Music: Despite what my friends say, I like Bloc Party's Silent Alarm. Oasis's Don't Believe the Truth can 'almost' be declared a return to form and I'm crossing my fingers for the New Pornographers latest, due August 23. But I guess my favorite album of the year has to be System of a Down's Mezmerize (even though for two weeks, I thought the album was called 'Mezmakize' because I just glanced at the album cover - the 'kize' part just sounded so intense, heavy and totally appropriate for System).

Books: Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat and Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down. Freakanomics is on my purchase list.

Concert Highlight: Wilco in Red Rocks with the Roots opening for them. Not perfect, but I'll definitely take it.

Summer soundtrack: It's an older album, but I can't think of anything else - it pretty much summed up this summer -

Congrats - Wilco's Summerteeth

My jeans are purchased. I want to make chili again and watch college football and eat wings and down bloody mary's with my friends. Bring on autumn.

Current listening selections -
Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Radiohead - OK Computer

Thursday, August 11, 2005

RIP - Peter Jennings

I almost feel intimidated by writing a Blog eulogizing Peter Jennings. He was that commanding of a presence. If you are looking for a definitive summation of what we lost this week, go to Salon's article about Jennings:

Jennings's death comes at a time when the mainstream media needs Jennings more than ever. Sure, ABC News focuses on stuff like Natalee Holloway, OJ Simpson and tabloid marriages, but Jennings was an anchor that was determined to focus on international coverage. I saw ABC's tribute last night and I was struck at how even when he was tackling an easy target (big tobacco), he grilled his reporters when he heard that ABC news was being sued for the report. "What did you mess up?" Jennings reportedly asked a reporter. It turned out nothing, but he was that determined to get both sides of the story.

ABC also replayed the early hours of September 11, 2001. Jennings's stoicism in the face of chaos is something that should be played for all prospective broadcasting students. Still, he wasn't a robot. My stomach still sinks when I see the replay of the Towers collapsing. And when they replayed Jennings's reaction, to which he said in a shaky voice "Oh God...", you couldn't help but be moved and marvel at his composure - holding up in a time where the unimaginable kept happening while probably 100 million people were watching his broadcast.

Switch to FOX News - another easy target, but that does not mean they should get away with such journalistic travesties as Brit Hume's sarcastic remarks during his so-called newscast "Special Report with Brit Hume" or the talk about Gretta Van Sustran's ratings coup for her on-the-scene reporting of Natalee Holloway's disappearance. One example shows how Jennings's cool composure and objectivity (which he, of course, sometimes failed - but you could tell he at least made a good attempt at objectivity for every story he reported) is going out of style and the sad truth that as much as the American public complains about it, tabloid journalism sells.

Much has been made about the loss of Jennings reflecting the loss of the 'big 3' media. But that's doing a discredit to Jennings. His loss reflects a loss of the suave, matter-of-fact, newscaster, replaced by barking pundits, which NBC is already veering dangerously close toward.

RIP - Peter Jennings

Current music selections

Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise

The Verve - A Storm in Heaven

Marjorie Fair - Self Help Serenade

The Streets - Original Pirate Material