Friday, February 12, 2010

White Friday

Surprise!  It snowed over night.  It was a mild surprise to open the front door looking for the morning newspaper and see a fresh blanket of white stuff outside.  Our neighborhood snowpack had been looking pretty rag-tag lately.  This gives it a whole new paint job--at least until it melts off.  It's enough snow to have to shovel or snowblow.

The staff meeting yesterday lasted two full hours.  Luckily, I got to dodge out after only 50 minutes because of my meeting with the art bench person. I'm not capable of sitting through a two hour staff meeting--I know I would freak out and run screaming from the room about 90 minutes--maybe sooner.  An hour is excruciating.

I am getting out of there no a minute too soon.  The very day after I leave, I would have been pressed into service doing some local trade show for the agency.  I despise those things.  Yikes!  The new guy expressed some sympathy about everyone's budgetary messes.  He said there wasn't anything he could do about it until July.  Meanwhile, he's trying to tell our outfit that we're 8% overspent. That equates to about $5000. That's pretty amazing when we haven't even spent anything since the first week of September.  Will there be no end to that madness?  I will be so happy to have the howler monkey off my neck!

Susun and I spent a couple of hours running hither and yon on financial errands, tidying accounts and so forth.
Anytime you undergo a lifestyle change there's always copious amounts of paperwork involved.  A veritable blizzard, actually.

Here's some interesting stuff.  Some of you have probably clicked over to that other blog about Harriman State Park.  It's where we are currently describing the yurts.  Yesterday evening I became curious and went to Google's "Blogs" section and then began using various search terms to see how my blog would rank.  I was quite surprised to see that it ranks #1 with this two word term "harriman yurt."  It doesn't even rank at all with the search string "harriman state park."  Anyway, it's rare to even get on the first page of Google search results, let alone #1.  I don't think I've ever been #2.  Last summer, I got something bumped up to #2 for a short time before it fell back to #3.  I was quite proud of the #3 ranking.  This morning, I am basking in a little self-congratulations on being #1, even if it is an arcane topic and an even more arcane search term.

Some of you may know about Headwaters News.  Since this is a lazy snowy morning, I thought you might like to know a little more about that website.  Arguably one of the better schools of journalism in this neck of the woods is up in Missoula at the University of Montana.  They run a real good shop up there and it has a solid reputation for turning out yeoman journalists.

The internet opened a lot of possibilities for the academics in that school.  Quite awhile ago, somebody got the idea to use the journalism school students as "news aggregators."  When I went to journalism school in the mid-1960's, this meant that lowly grunts would be tasked to read stacks of "country papers" looking for an occasional gem that might merit wider coverage.  "Country papers" were those little tiny newspaper put out each week in some tiny little town.  Mostly, they are filled with obituaries and high school sports with a lot of gossip posing as news. 

Today's "news aggregators" simply sit and stare at online newspapers.  OK, but I digress.  The students up in Missoula are tasks to look for relevant articles regarding Western States natural resources.  This is a MOST excellent idea and task.  Those college kids do a great job and their work always gets better in the second semester when they are firing on all cylinders.  When they find a relevant article, they then have to summarize the article in a short and (hopefully) objective paragraph.  It's a marvelous teaching tool and an awesome public service.  Do you know how many hours it would take for Joe Blow to roam the internet looking for such articles?  Well, get a life because it would take a life to do that kind of work--it would be a full time life job for a single individual.  Meanwhile, those college kids make quick work of it each day and deliver a custom-configured presentation of news about public lands and natural resources.  They hardly ever miss anything--they are that good.  I highly recommend this website.  Friend Bryan B introduced it to us maybe 3 years ago.  With each passing year my respect for the service grows.  Here it is:

The efforts to create a "Friends of Harriman State Park" have really reached critical mass lately.  I think that last night was a real historic milestone for them as some of the informal steering committee sold raffle tickets at the local Banff Film Festival.  969 tickets were sold to the festival so a LOT of hip, fit outdoors people showed up in the same place last night and here's betting they bought boatloads of tickets.  I am listed as one of 13 people on this steering committee and I really should have gone down and done my part.  However, last night I was at a really low energy ebb and it was a lot better to stay invisible than to show up only half-engaged.  One of these days, I plan to write a long piece on how the "friends" group got rolling.  For now, it's enough to know that it's doing well and there's no doubt that it will be a major future factor there.

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