Friday, September 07, 2001

I've been spending a lot of my Web time on Plastic this week, having initially been sucked into the discussions over Garrison Keillor's departure from Salon. I post as T. Earl Grey over there, if you want to check out my ramblings in an environment where others can shout back at me.

I'm closing in on a name for the House of Cheer mascot. Of the dozen or so suggestions that have come in, the field has narrowed to three or four. I'll probably make a final choice this weekend; so if you've got any last minute entries, send 'em in now.

There are two "visual blogs" that I've started visiting regularly. includes just a smattering of commentary to accompany its three or four new black-and-white images each day, while lackadaisical posts a lone, comment-free color shot. Both seem to be based in or around New York City and both are inspiring the hell out of me to buy a digital camera.
12:46 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Damn. Now I have to go change my acknowledgements page.

Today Garrison Keillor's last Mr. Blue column was posted over at Salon. This turn of events, while not previously announced, wasn't entirely unexpected either. His recent heart surgery, which caused him to suspend the column for the month of August, gave him time to reflect on his commitments and workload. As Garrison put it, "Winter and spring, I almost capsized from work, and in the summer I had a week in St. Mary's Hospital to sit and think, and that's the result."

With that, Mr. Blue hangs up his smoking jacket. I can't blame him, and I wish him well in his now somewhat less hectic lifestyle. However, Garrison's gain in time and freedom is for me the loss of a cherished weekly ritual, so I'm going to be glum about this for a short while. The column was a wonderful read every week. It was also a potent, eye-opening educational experience to observe this writer who had honed his craft on a typewriter venture into wild new world of Web publishing.

Maybe I should write the man and convince him to start his own blog. I'll have to think about that.

Meanwhile, it's not as if he's leaving the public stage anytime soon. There's his just-published book, with hopefully many more to come. Writer's Almanac seems safe for now. Most importantly, a new season of A Prairie Home Companion will soon be steaming our way, heralding the arrival of autumn as surely as turning leaves, NFL football and the TeeVee Dead Pool.

So if the sun-dappled waters of Lake Woebegon at dawn glimmer a little less brightly now, I must content myself with the notion that the man put the glimmer there in the first place may finally have a few moments to enjoy the view for himself. At least until his adorable little daughter requires his attention elsewhere.
12:24 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

Sunday, September 02, 2001

I'm proud to announce the opening of a new HoC room: The Gallery. It's a nice, neat place for me to keep any pictures I might want to share with the world.

As with any good gallery, I'm starting this one off with a special exhibit: Jack's Costume Parade. It's comprised primarily of me in various Halloween costumes I've worn over the years. There is one exception. See if you can pick out which one of the five pictures shows me shamelessly shilling for a former employer. This is an easy one, class, and will not appear on the final.
7:58 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

A few months ago, when Mir was set to make its final, fiery plunge to Earth, Washington's Fox 5 News took their typical alarmist spin on such stories to new heights. They reported the infinitesimal chance of the space station coming down in an inhabited area in such breathless, hyperbolic terms that viewers could have reasonably assumed the vehicle was going to fall right on top of their children!

This was so egregious, I did something I'd never done before: phoned the station and called them on their fear mongering. While I got nothing but soothing platitudes and an assurance that my concerns "were noted and appreciated" from the woman who answered, the tone of their Mir stories changed considerably the next night. Either I'm a very powerful speaker or, more likely, I wasn't the only person who called.

This morning, the Associated Press bursts the bubble of this summer's big media-hyped fallacy that shark attacks are on the rise. AP's story on the first fatal shark attack of the year closes with some statistics that put the situation into perspective:

Of the 40 shark attacks worldwide this year, none had been fatal... Twenty-eight have been in Florida waters.

Last year, there were 79 shark attacks worldwide, 51 in the United States.

In other words, with eight months of the year under our belts, we're currently on pace for about 60 shark attacks worldwide in 2001. That's nearly a twenty-five percent decrease from last year. Further, just going by the averages, I'm sixteen times more likely to be struck by lightning while in a coastal state than to be bitten by a shark while swimming off the coast of one of those states, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Remind me again why I'm supposed to be afraid to go in the water?
10:55 AM  < To return to this entry, save this link

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