slyvermont: (ritaskeeter)
On Wednesday, I covered my second funeral for The Times Argus. Here it is.

I realized as I sat in the pews that covering funerals is not something I learned in journalism school. What is appropriate? Do I wear black? Do I interview people? Do I sit up front, or toward the back?

This particularly troubled me when I went to the reception afterwards. I mean, do I interview people – or just write about the memorial service?

The couple that died – what a sad story. They died last week. Their house caught on fire, they were in the basement, and couldn’t get out. The stairs were burning. There was no outside door.

The guy I had met a few times – we both took a Hebrew class through the synagogue. It turns out that he was a really interesting person. He was the state auditor of accounts in the early 60s, the first Jew to win a statewide office in Vermont. He was also a Democrat who won, which was very rare in Vermont back in those days. He served on a ton of statewide organizations, and was a professor at a local college.

In the end, I did interview people at the reception. I stuck to either people I knew, or people I was introduced to by people I knew. And politicians – I knew that former Vermont Gov. Phil Hoff would talk. (There were 2 governors at the funeral). But I didn’t interview any family members.

The rabbi left a message on my voice mail this morning saying my story was good, and well-received by the family. Whew.

In other article news, here’s another story I wrote recently, a book review and interview with Julia Alvarez. I loved this book, so if you’re looking for a fun read, consider it.

And I am not, repeat, not, looking forward to the nor’easter coming on Sunday and the 10 to 20 inches of snow it will bring.


Sep. 15th, 2007 11:10 pm
slyvermont: (Default)
Lobbyists can be obnoxious.

Every year, Montpelier High School students spend a few hours one day in September cleaning up the river that runs behind the school. Because of the dozens of abandoned tires they take out every single year, the students started working years ago on a tire deposit bill as a way to solve the problem of tires being dumped in the river.

The cleanup was yesterday (Friday). The Burlington Free Press wrote a story about it. What was different this time -- when the students came back from the cleanup with all the abandoned tires they fished out, they were greeted by tire dealers and lobbyists who examined the tires, and noted their model, make and other information – all to prove that the bill is not necessary, of course. That's the first time they'd done that, and it just seems, well, yucky.

And I just went to the Free Press website for the story, and decided that readers can be obnoxious too. I'm just speechless at their comments:
When these students become productive tax paying VOTING members of society, they can lobby for stuff like this however, a lot of us are tired of these "still wet behind the ears" nimrods pushing for this tax and that. Fire that teacher.
Why fire the teacher? The teacher has done a very effective job of brainwashing the students and indoctrinating them to liberal extremism. These kids will never be productive members of society.
This is a good thing that these kids have been doing, and their good deeds are being undermined and criticized instead of being appreciated.
The whole story is below the cut, just in case some former MHS students want to read it.

slyvermont: (readingmagic)
I'm still in NYC, leaving in about 90 minutes, but back at the Apple store. We had no Internet in our room ($17 a day!), so I couldn't post this link sooner.

On Sunday, the paper ran an essay by Caroline called "Growing up under the spell of Harry Potter," on the front page of our "Perspective" section. I think it's pretty wonderful, but then again, I'm biased.

You can find it here:

(I can't do the highlight - link thing for some reason on this computer; I'll fix it when I get home.)

Enjoy. I'll post more completely later.

PS: There are absolutely postively no spoilers in this essay. I am now officially afraid to read anything on the Internet, so I may hide in a cave for the next 5 days other than quickly surfing selective LJ postings from friends.
slyvermont: (Default)
Books: After reading "The Sleeping Beauty Proposal" (and then writing this review of it in the Times Argus), I decided to read all of Sarah Strohmeyer’s books. She’s a local author who writes chick lit. I’ve never read chick lit before, but decided to make an exception since she’s local, (and a really good interview). I had read the first two Bubbles books before writing the review, and last week tackled the remaining four. They are mysteries, the sleuth is a hair dresser/journalist/floozy named Bubbles Yablonsky. Then I read her "The Cinderella Pact." All good fun – good books if you want to do anything but challenge your mind.

On Sunday, after dropping Rich off at the airport in the pouring rain, I went to Barnes & Noble, found "Sacrifice," curled up in a chair and read the entire book at the bookstore (OK, skimmed or skipped all the Fett/Mandalorian stuff and some of the politics). Came home and finally read the endless emails on the “big event” on the CJ list. It’s nice to finally be au courant.

I’ll avoid spoilers, and just say I thought the book was well-done and tastefully written, and I was much less upset than I thought I would be.

Oh -- I've successfully re-read all the Harry Potter books.

Speaking of HP:  I MUST stop reading Harry Potter stuff. I’ve been trying very hard to avoid everything, but then something will catch my eye – in the newspaper or on the wires – and I’ll read it. And then feel like hitting myself, like Dobby. Like I just read in the NY Times what Rowling said about the book’s last word. I didn’t need to know that. I do not want to be spoiled for this book. I want to get it at 12:01 and then hibernate (with friends) in my house and read, read, read.

Today I went shopping with my friend Abby, again in the pouring rain. Bought stuff I didn’t need -- mainly shoes. Had fun.

Last week I had a dexoscan, which is an X-ray of the spine and hip bones. Unfortunately – although not surprisingly – the doctor’s office called to tell me I have had some bone density loss. I’m seeing the doctor tomorrow, and so will learn more.

This is scary. For the last five years, I’ve been trying hard to eat calcium, started lift weights, stopped swimming and instead walk/run. Other than eating more calcium, I’m not sure what else I can do. I don’t know how bad it is; I assume I will learn all about the various drugs I could start taking. I started reading about osteoporosis online, and stopped when I saw the statistic that 50% of women over 50 have a bone break because of osteoporosis. It was just too darn depressing. (On the positive side, all my other annual tests showed nothing wrong.)

Movies: We’ve joined the rest of the civilized world and now have Netflix. In the last few weeks I’ve seen Citizen Kane, About a Boy, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and others I can’t think of. Even after watching Citizen Kane with two different commentary tracks, I’m still not sure I get why it’s the best movie ever.

Fourth of July: I had to work, so no parade or fireworks.

Articles: Caroline had this front-page feature on Saturday, and this one on "Geek Week" a couple weeks ago.

Life really is dull. The big excitement a couple Saturdays ago was helping Caroline pick courses. The new online Brown course selection process is like Amazon, where you browse the courses and put the ones you like in your shopping cart. Instead of prices, it creates a cool graphic that shows you when each class meets. Caroline had said she had signed up for too many, which I thought meant 10. Nope, she really meant too many – she must have had 50 in there. We first suggested she eliminate any classes meeting before 10 a.m. and anything meeting after 3 p.m. on Friday. That eliminated a few. Then she got rid of ones needing prerequisites and the upper level graduate courses. She zeroed in on two courses (one was a prereq for about five other classes she wants to take and the other the prereq for Environmental Studies), and will figure out the rest of her schedule when she learns which freshmen seminar she gets. It was fun browsing all the classes I'll never take. The bill came today ... gulp.


Jun. 15th, 2007 01:57 pm
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
Graduation is tomorrow. The weather forecast includes chances of thunderstorms. How much risk is the administration willing to take? Because if they play it safe it’ll be indoors, which would be sad -- not to mention hot and sticky.

Caroline got sick Wednesday. She felt better this morning, so went on an outing, but just took her temperature and she has a fever. The next 48+ hours include two graduation rehearsals, a graduation party, graduation and Project Grad, an overnight alcohol-free party, and a work shift. Being sick just isn't in the plan.

The Burlington paper has been running little shorts on local valedictorians, including asking them what their speech is about. As I took my walk today, I realized that none of them are talking about Harry Potter, which would seem to me to be an appropriate topic. After all, Harry is (in theory) graduating from Hogwarts in this last book, and that quote of Dumbledore’s that “it is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” seems spot on for a valedictory speech. Anyway, I wonder how many valedictorians in the world talked about Harry Potter this year.

I had a nice little story in the paper today.

And since I've talked about the yearbook in the past, I'll note that this year's is pretty disappointing. There were some real oddities -- like the seniors were not listed in alphabetical order, only a handful of senior superlatives were included, no picture of the class officers. Lots of things were left out, including the ad that I designed and paid for. 
slyvermont: (ritaskeeter)
While I was being a geek in LA, the Times Argus published another article of mine, on authors who connect with readers on the Internet. To most of my friendslist, the most significant aspect of this story is at the end, when I quote one of our favorite Star Wars authors.

Click here for the story.

Another article I wrote is here, on how blogs are being used by college professors. It's not that great of a story, but I am trying to keep a record of my articles here on LJ.

In other Vermont news, the 802 rap video made the New York Times. For a while it was the lead story on the Times' Web site; as a result, hits on YouTube are up to over 84,000. Some of the reactions, though, are disturbing. People need to get a life and a sense of humor. There were a number of people who derided the Times for writing this story: “a clear sign newspapers are a dying bread...when the New York Times fishes around YouTube for this stuff,” said one; “Utterly boring. Thanks for nothing, NYT,” said another; “i just lost some respect for the new york times,” said a third.


Apr. 29th, 2007 06:05 pm
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
Here's my article on one of the most amazing kids at Montpelier HS. (Some on my flist will recognize him as the potential honorary member I wrote about earlier.)

Unfortunately, his sketches didn't make it onto our Web site. I hope we can correct that tomorrow.

For everyone who read my Wikipedia story -- thanks so much for the positive feedback. I've gotten some very nice comments on this article. I even got blogged! One of my sources praised me profusely in his blog.

Edited to add: I wanted to put a link to this story in the New York Times about Wikipedia. The article describes how the Wikipedia entry on the Virginia Tech massacre was updated so often that people were treating it as a news source. Another fascinating aspect to Wikipedia.
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
[profile] kataline and her friends have gotten involved in this really interesting protest at school. A new student organization which is spreading the word about genocide in Darfur put up posters around the school with “testimony” from victims, including rape victims. A teacher complained, saying that the testimony might be upsetting to rape victims at the school. The administration took down the posters.

[profile] kataline and [profile] sylvei (who weren’t even members of the group before) decided this squashing of student expression and the issue could not be ignored. They went to the group organizer, and suggested putting the testimony onto T-shirts, that kids will then wear at school. This morphed into a general rally and march with kids to wear the T-shirts. The kids spent the whole week making these shirts. [profile] kataline was in charge of media relations. The TA had a story today.

Then, they wake up this morning to find 6 inches of snow on the ground (don’t even get me started) and a two-hour delay to the start of school. The rally has been postponed to tomorrow.

I just love it when students become activists.
slyvermont: (ritaskeeter)
If you've been wondering why I haven't been writing here lately, it's partly because a lot of my energy was directed at this article, which was the cover story in our Sunday magazine last week. It's all about Wikipedia, a topic I found absolutely fascinating to research and write. My favorite part came at the end, when I describe the Vermont WikiProject and the Vermont Wikipedians. I also loved talking to professors at Middlebury College, who made headlines this winter when they decided to ban Wikipedia. And not because students were citing it in their research papers -- but because they were using it as a study guide for their exams instead of reading their assignments.
What I have become more aware of now is just how omnipresent Wikipedia is. Just last night at work, we had to look up a few things (double checking Libera in reference to a funeral mass; the plural of crocus). Every time we googled something, Wikipedia was the first link. It's unavoidable.
slyvermont: (Default)
Assorted things I clipped in the last couple months from the New York Times:

1. A book review of "The Physics of the Buffyverse," by Jennifer Ouellette. Ouellette (although I feel I should be on a first name basis with someone who writes about Buffy) used episodes from Buffy and Angel to teach physics principles. I think I am more impressed that the Times reviewed this in its Sunday Book Review than that the book exists. Since the nonscientists out there tend to think that learning physics is hell, and Buffy explored the idea that high school is hell -- is this a mixed metaphor?

2. An iPod karaoke device called -- of course, what else -- iKaraoke. Seems like the perfect accessory for filk night at JadeCon, and for only $50! This is a microphone that plugs into iPods and processes the music you own, muting the vocals.

3. For my knitting friends, an exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC called "Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting" that runs through June 17. There are various panel discussions, lectures and workshops in knitting, lace-making, crocheting, etc. "the exhibition ... devotes most of its space to art that mimics the look or logic of knitting and lace and translates it into different materials." It looks cool.

4. A story on a Web site that ended up being somewhat disappointing, but a great idea. Called, it allows you to buy the clothing worn by characters on TV shows and movies. Since neither Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars was represented, I was disappointed. Not that I can wear any of the clothing on those shows ...

5. A list of 2006 buzzwords and buzz phrases. Decider, dwarf planet and macaca I knew about. But I am clearly very out of it, since I never heard of sanctimommy, food miles, impossible is nothing, zeteophobia, vice mail, spaghetti bowl (which is about economics, of all things), Fox lips, hubby-sitter, Hummer house or Internet courage.

(Still snowing, btw, although it stopped for awhile this afternoon so minimal accumulation.)
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
It’s rare that I think I’d want to be a student again. But I’d love to go to Middlebury and take classes with Jason Mittell.

He teaches film and media culture; courses like Television and American Culture, Theories of Popular Culture; Media Technology & Cultural Change; Narration Across Media; Media & Childhood in American Culture. I first interviewed him when I did my Star Wars article, and he made some of the more interesting points in the story.

I interviewed him on Friday, and learned that he is a sysop for the Lost wiki site. Which is really cool. (I confess, I was almost speechless. Not sure why, since I think [profile] snarkel works on Wookieepedia, but I was impressed.) He also has a blog, and if I can ever figure out how RSS works, I’ll get it to show up on LJ. (I definitely need a tutorial in RSS.) Anyway, I think he'd be a cool teacher.

The story I’m writing has to do with how the Internet has changed the interaction between authors and their readers. I stumbled onto this idea when I wrote a review of “The Double Bind” by Vermont author Chris Bohjalian. Chris has an amazing website – he hosts discussion boards right on his site, where readers can ask him questions about character motivation and symbolism, etc.

I started thinking about authors having online chats, being on Internet discussion boards, having blogs, email lists, etc. That’s just amazing. Authors used to be so … remote, mysterious. Now, authors who want to can break down the wall that separates them from their readers and open up the creative process.

So, question, flist: As a reader, how does interacting with an author (through online chats, blogs, discussion boards) enrich your reading experience?

(Oh yeah, I think the first thing Mittell mentioned to me was the Harry Potter presence on the web, and Rowling’s website and interaction with fans. Been there. Do that.)

([profile] josephine14: if you get into Middlebury, you must take a class with Mittell!)
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
My paper doesn't get obits like this one. I doublechecked-- it really ran. There are some very funny things in here, and I wanted to share. Mr. Porter had a wonderful sense of humor:

Daniel R.  Porter

[  Originally published on: Monday, November 27, 2006, in the Daily Hampshire (Mass.) Gazette ]
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.  - With trumpets blaring, Zeus, god of gods, called Daniel Reed Porter III to  His Heavenly Pantheon on Nov. 21, 2006.
He (Porter, not  Zeus) was the second White child born in the new maternity ward of Cooley  Dickinson Hospital in Northampton on his father's birthday July 2, 1930. His  mother Eleanor (Parsons) needed all the help she could get.

Porter was reared  on a small farm with his siblings in Worthington. Sickly as a child, his  parents often contemplated drowning him in Watt's Brook that flowed (trickled  in summer) behind the house into which (the brook, not the house) they  deposited other trash, sewage and cow manure.
After being  partially educated in local schools, Porter matriculated in the class of 1952  at UMass, formerly Mass Aggie. Here he failed to distinguish himself in any  meaningful way, and managed to alienate a number of his classmates and  professors. Upon graduation without honors, Porter was drafted into the Army  and served in Korea before and after the armistice. There he learned more than  at college - never volunteer, be cowardly to survive, don't circulate  petitions and keep away from indigenous females.
Returning home  ill-prepared for an occupation, he was strangely accepted by the University of  Michigan Graduate School where he tried to prepare for an acceptable if not  respectable occupation.
A 35-year career  as a museum and historical agency administrator and museum director followed.  He moved from state to state five times to keep ahead of his reputation. He  completed his career ignominiously in Cooperstown in 1992. On his demise, he  was a member of no organization, club or charity.
Porter was not  survived by his parents and sister, Janice Leroux. But surviving him are his  relict, Joan (Dornfeld); a daughter, Leslie, her husband, Edward Easton III,  and their daughters, Erika, Caitlin, and Allison, of Coudersport (God's  Country), Pa.; his son, Andrew, and his wife, Amy (Pens), and their heir,  Reed; a brother, Edward, and his wife, Shirley (Smith), on Watt's Brook; a  brother-in-law, Al Leroux, and his Buick sedan of Northampton; and numbers of  nieces and nephews.
There will be no  final rites or any mumbo-jumbo. He will not lie in state at the The Farmers'  Museum. His cremated remains will be scattered on Watt's Brook. Memorial gifts  will not be accepted and cards are a waste of money.
slyvermont: (ritaskeeter)
Here's my favorite cop brief of the night (and there is a Berlin in Vermont):

Man stopped with $30,000 in cash
BERLIN – Vermont State Police found $30,000 in cash and a small amount of marijuana on a Berlin man after they stopped him while driving to New York City.
Police said Anthony Larosa, 20, of Berlin was stopped on Friday Nov. 24, while he was on his way to New York with two New York residents. Trooper Vincent Dimauro discovered approximately 3 grams of marijuana which, police said, Larosa said belonged to him.
Dimauro said Larosa told him he was headed to New York City for a family celebration. “Then after we found the money he said he was going Christmas shopping in New York,” Dimauro said.
According to Dimauro, Larosa explained that the money was his life savings, but Dimauro said Larosa does not have a job. While police continue their investigation, the money is being held at the evidence room at the Royalton barracks, and Dimauro is preparing an affidavit for a federal forfeiture of the money through the US Drug Enforcement Agency, because, after consulting Montpelier Police, Dimauro believes Larosa is a drug dealer.
“Those dealings lead us to believe that he sells marijuana for a living,” Dimauro said.
Montpelier Police said Larosa has not been arrested for drug activity, and declined to discuss their knowledge of Larosa.
Larosa was cited into court for possession of marijuana for early January and the two New York residents who were with him at the time of his arrest were released, according to Dimauro.
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
This past week must have been very boring, because I can’t think of a single thing that happened. I watched Project Runway and mourned Kayne’s auf’ing. I watched Survivor. I worked. I felt yucky and so didn’t go to the health club. I discovered the project rungay blog (thanks to CJ chat, which amazingly focussed almost entirely on Project Runway).

Yesterday was senior portrait day at our house. The weather was good, I didn’t snoop that much, and Stefan the photographer took 550+ photos of five girls in two hours. Then we went to Jessie’s house, ate Chinese food that her dad made (amazing stuff) and sat around and talked for several hours. I got to know Flaminia, the Italian exchange student, a little better.

I finally finished “The Book Thief,” which Kelly had recommended. Very good, if extremely strange because the narrator is “Death.”

And I had an essay run in Sunday’s paper. I'm not sure I like the final edit, but in the end just decided to go with it.
slyvermont: (ritaskeeter)
I feel a need to talk about the pig and the drowning incident. Or, how our small-town police chief may need to find a good PR person.


Aug. 31st, 2006 12:43 pm
slyvermont: (fieldofdreams)
Here's a link to the newspaper story I wrote about Annie's memorial service.

The service was very well done. Annie's mom did an exceptional job. Her comments, humor touched with poignancy, were wonderful and hit just the right note. I saw people from Annie's child care center and elementary school and our neighborhood. It was overwhelming that about 500 people showed up for this.

Her sister wrote and read a beautiful poem that I am putting behind the cut, along with the story behind it

slyvermont: (POTC)
At work; browsing the wires. This story reminds me of both [personal profile] hollywdliz and [profile] lexsara predicting the box office take of movie opening weekends:

This ’action’ is off the set
c.2006 St. Petersburg Times=

Hollywood high rollers always gamble on making movies. Now the way those films perform at the box office is a game of chance for moviegoers, too.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures wagered an estimated $250-million to create and market Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. ....

Some online gambling  „investors“ made money on Capt. Jack Sparrow’s adventure much sooner. Others are kicking themselves for underestimating the film’s appeal, an example of a new wave in proposition bets on entertainment chances.

Members of were offered an over-under line of $110-million for Dead Man’s Chest’s opening weekend box office total. Those who bet the over, believing the movie would earn more than $110-million, won $100 for every $120 wagered. Members who took the under lost their investment during Sunday matinees.

At, the over-under line for Dead Man’s Chest was even lower at $96.5-million but with a higher buy-in ($170 to win $100) for winners. That rate of return is far less than what Bruckheimer and Disney will likely reap from the pirate flick.

In recent weeks, enterprising Internet gambling sites have added box office predictions for high-profile films such as The Da Vinci Code, X-Men: The Last Stand and Superman Returns to their wager boards.

slyvermont: (omgwtflol alias)
This story running on the wires cracked me up, so I'm sharing some of it:

slyvermont: (POTC)
Cleaning up, and came across this New York Times article that I saved several months ago: Ken and Barbie are back together, and the "new and improved Ken" has been restyled by a "celebrity primper" who dresses Johnny Depp, among others.

Some possibilities here for 12-inch vinyl fans. Ken's new wardrobe includes cargo pants and a motorcycle jacket (has anyone seen this yet?). He also got plastic surgery, so he looks like "Matthew McConaughey meets Orlando Bloom."


And yet another clip, this from the Wall Street Journal. The headline: "The Hunk Shortage," with a photo of Michael Vartan. Vartan is in demand because "he represents a commodity for which demand has grown to outpace supply over the last few years: sexy, rugged-looking guys who can act."

(hmmm ... wonder who's generating that demand??)

The sought-after type is "30-to-40 charismatic guy with some testosterone -- someone that women want to sleep with and men want to drink with."

Ah yes. A good man is hard to find...


Feb. 26th, 2006 02:14 pm
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
After immersing myself in MySpace, I moved on to the college level. I wrote a story for our paper about the college social networking Web site Facebook. Here it is; it was the lead story in today's paper.

My boss has decided that there needs to be "Geezer Space" -- the networking site for old people.


slyvermont: (Default)

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