Friday, June 09, 2006


If you haven't noticed...I'm no longer "Here".

I'm ****HERE**** <~~~ instead. Click on the link to visit my current Blog, and update your links :~) Thanks for droppin by, and I'll see ya in the funny pages!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Round Robin Photo Challenges: Round Robin Challenge: Holy (for 4/26/06)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Doin the Gypsy Thing Again

Mornin all ! Hope your yesterday was wonderful. I'm in the process of getting my new photoblog set up on my new domain....y'all are welcome to stop by and leave your thoughts ideas suggestions or rambling comments :~)

The New QuickSilverDreams

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bright sunrise full of promise...

The sweet sound of morning song as I wander the path by the lake behind my home....

Hands in the dirt, head in the sun...

Memories of one no longer beside me, bringing smile not tears this morn...

Sunlight glittering through the bathroom window turning rows of neglected polish to shimmering jewels...prompting the urge to primp for the first time in a lifetime...

Irresistable urge to burst into the sunlight strong and true...

I hope you all have as glorious of a day as the morning I have had...I am off to wallow in the glorious beauty of a Southwest Florida spring day...

Sending you all sunbeam wishes and warmbreeze smiles.

Feline Friday

It's Feline Friday Time!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Morning in the Garden

Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise.
Henry Mitchell

Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.
William Wordsworth

The glory of gardening:
hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.
To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.
Share the botanical bliss of gardeners through the ages,
who have cultivated philosophies to apply to their own - and our own - lives: Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.
Alfred Austin

A little too abstract,
a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.
Robinson Jeffers

Follow the wisdom provided by nature.
Everything in moderation - sunlight, water, nutrients.
Too much of a good thing will topple your structure.
You can't harvest what you don't sow.
So plant your desires, gently nurture them,
and they will be rewarded with abundance.
Vivian Elisabeth Glyck

It is one of the first days of Spring, and I sit once more in the old garden
where I hear no faintest echo of the obscene rumbling of London streets
which are yet so little away. Here the only movement I am conscious of
is that of the trees shooting forth their first sprays of bright green, and
of the tulips expanding the radiant beauty of their flaming globes, and the
only sound I hear is the blackbird's song -- the liquid softly gurgling notes
that seem to well up spontaneously from an infinite joy, an infinite peace,
at the heart of nature and bring a message not from some remote Heaven of
the Sky or Future, but the Heaven that is Here, beneath our feet, even
beneath the exquisite texture of our own skins, the joy, the peace, at
the Heart of the Mystery which is Man. For man alone can hear the Revelation
that lies in the blackbird's song.
Havelock Ellis

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Obstruction ~ Round Robin

In memory's telephoto lens, far objects are magnified.
John Updike

The Round Robin Challenge for today is "Obstructions."

I have yet to ponder what it says about me that I immediately had the general idea of what I was going to shoot for this challenge. That may just be a tad bit TOO much introspection for me...and for my readers. First my "Fourth Estate" post and now this one, I think I'm treading the thin line.

But with as strong as the impulse came to me when I read the subject of this challenge, I pretty much knew that this was how it was going to turn out. Not the particulars, those came later, but the main idea.

When I think of "Obstruction" it translates automatically to "in my way." Now as a Taurean, things in my way are not something that I normally tolerate. When I am headed somewhere, be it in my daily travels or my life plan, detours and road construction are a frequent occurrence and normally a challenge I take head on. One of the reasons I own both a 4 wheel drive and a motorcycle is to add one more level of assurance that I will be able to best those obstacles.

There are many different obstructions that I - that we all - face ... traffic, finances, other people, gates...whatever. I am not known as a "diplomatic" problem solver in most cases (though in my job I have Made myself learn that tactic) but left to my own nature, I will push aside the boulder in the road, climb over wall, cut down the fence and pick the person up and set them aside.

The only problem with that is, the main Obstruction in my life - is me. Or, to be more specific, my past. Now yes, I get in my own way in the present too, stumbling over my own efforts and own insecurities, but when I look closely at those, they all have their roots in my past. And a fairly definable timeperiod of my past.

I spent most of my childhood shy and awkward around the majority of people, preferring my own company or that of the horses to the yapping girls that occupied adjacent seats at school. I was also an incurable tomboy - the only Barbie dolls I had were given to me by unknowing relatives and were quickly used as prisoners of war - and imminently EXPENDABLE p.o.w.'s at that - for the G.I. Joe battles my brother and I staged.

I was taller than most guys my brother's age (18 months older) were were for a number of years, until that age hit them where they shot up. By 16 I had reached what was to be my "figure" for the next 14 years. 5'9", 135, curves but oh so in-shape.

I rode horses, worked on the ranch, was on the swim team, the softball team, was a member of the ski patrol, and by the time I was in my 20's I had started riding motorcycles and had found out through aching muscles and a few close calls that I needed strength to ride, so I also became a gym-rat.

At 17, through a strange quirk of fate and an unlikely friend, I became a "model". Now I'm not some great beauty. In fact I always thought I was goofy looking, but my height had a lot to do with it I guess. It wasn't anything fairy-tale like. No diamonds and furs and stuff.....just modeling for a few Seattle shows, J.C. Penny’s catalogs....that kind of thing. But it helped me break from my self-imposed isolation a bit. I always knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my did so not fit my personality but it was fun and a confidence booster.

With a suddenness that still staggers me, my life ran into a brick wall the year I turned 30. It was September. I was living in Reno with my boyfriend of 7 years. I had spent the last 3 years putting him through college and he had just graduated. I had just bought a 75 Firebird (with the 455 under the hood!) to go with my Suzuki 1000 and was working a good job, loving life.

One night, after leaving a friends house, I pulled away from a stop sign and was struck in the driver's door by a Chevy 1-ton going 57 mph in a 25 mph zone. The next 4 weeks are gone from my memory, but the record goes something like this - - - I was dead when they cut me out of the car. The driver’s door was sitting at the stick shift and they had to cut me out of the passenger footwell - my spleen had ruptured. They kick-started me back up, tossed me in the ambulance, where I promptly flatlined again. Once again the paramedics did their magic. After 4 weeks in the hospital, a scar from breastbone to pelvic bone and a complete blood transfusion, I was sent home in a wheelchair and told I would never walk again without crutches (My hip had been crushed).

I arrived home to find the man I loved - bereft of my company (and my income) - had up and moved in with another woman. Needless to say this was a rather ...difficult ...time in my life. A physical therapist that walked on water showed me I could prove the doctors wrong, but it was a time of pain and frustration and loneliness.

Into this void walked a hero...a knight in shining armor...a lifesaver. There for everything I could possibly want need or desire - for 4 months...Then I made the mistake of disagreeing with him on something. After I regained consciousness - 3 years of terror, blood and broken bones followed. Long story short, with some help from high places, after 3 1/2 years I was able to walk away from hell (make that crawl).

Now, 7 years later, I have put myself through college...again...I have made a life for myself, found a wonderful job, and paradise to live in, and promise of brightness laid out before me.

And yet...and yet.....Every day, I look in that mirror, and see what is behind me. I see the hurt and pain, and it stops me from taking risks to get what I want. I see the mistakes, and it makes me doubt myself. I see the difference between what I was then and how I am now and I beat myself up worse than he ever did...

his words his voice... "you're ugly, you're worthless, you're nothing" replay as I stare behind me in that mirror and see the added years, the added pounds the added lines and the diminished "spirit"......and it stops me dead in my tracks. Nope, cant go on that date...he might hit me...nope, cant speak in front of that group, I don’t look good enough, nope cant play on that team, I still limp. The litany is endless, the mirror ever-present and the tick tock tick of time past, opportunities wasted and mistakes chosen grow almost deafening - crashing together to form a barricade, an obstacle, an obstruction to the future I have only now again begun to dream of.

The rest of the Round Robiners - Check um out, there are some great photos and great entries!
Nancy - Nancy Luvs Pics Posted!
Karen - Outpost Mâvarin Posted!
Carly - Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly Posted!
Dorn - Through The Eyes Of The Beholder
Julie - Julie's Web Journal Posted!
Sara - Animated Seasons
T.J. - Photo Inclusions: Every Picture Tells A Story
Tammy- My Life As A Warrior
Steven - (sometimes)photoblog

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Fourth Estate

Recently I have vacillated between anger, contemptuous amusement and true concern after reading the spate of blog entries regarding the profession I Proudly claim as my own.

I stress proudly because regardless of the results of my introspection and close look at the state of journalism, I am PROUD to be a journalist. I am proud of the work I do, proud of myself for making the mid-life change I did, proud of my paper and secure in my integrity as a reporter. Perhaps so much "pride" may come across as snooty or egotistical to some of you. Believe me, those of you who know me know that egotistical is a word that is at the opposite end of the spectrum from my reality, and snooty…..well, one would have to have a sense of detachment to be snooty, and that is something I have never managed to cultivate.

That being said, I am nonetheless not only proud of my career, but a staunch defender of the profession and what I see as its invaluable place in society. That is not to say there are not the "bad apples" as far as practitioners nor problems within the industry overall. It is sometimes easy to put on those blinders in knee-jerk defense of what one has chosen as their path in life. And some comments I have read on here bring about that instinctive reaction more than others do. I find that the comments usually fall into one of three broad categories.

For the most part, upon first reading, most mentions of "journalism" combined with criticism fall into one of the following.

One: Blind mob-mentality parroting of "blame the worlds sins on the journalist…the modern equivalent of "shoot the messenger" and usually spouted by those who do not even bother to pursue or peruse any media deeper than People magazine and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Two: people who see the humor in some of the more ridiculous of media’s snafus and play off that in a humorous vein, without specific true insult or intent against those of us who call the newsroom home.

Three: those who are seriously concerned, who have put thought into the shortcomings of the profession. Who approach the concerns with sincerity not spewed insults – truly seeking answers improvements and input. It is people like the posters of this last category...people like Carly at Ellipsis, that encourage the true critique of an institution, industry or status-quo which brings about change instead of mere carping.

The topic is so extensive that it is hard to know where to start. In total repudiation of my training and my editor’s red pen, I am shunning any journalistic format or rules for this post and will just ramble…..again those who know me know how in-character that can be for me and hopefully most of my readers will bear with me.

With purely selfish motivation, I will start with Carly’s opening quote in her entry on journalism. "We can’t decide if the world is growing worse, or if the reporters are just working harder." The answer to that question is a simple one-word statement: BOTH.

Human nature has always given "reporters" – be they a Neanderthal named Uhg who travels from cave to cave grunting out syllables of distress or the pouffed and powdered news anchorette on the local news, plenty to talk about. But the advances in technology, knowledge and the simple refinement of the worse tendencies of man (and woman) have made the atrocities so much more immediate it seems. But at the same time, those same reporters are struggling……..fighting a decline of an industry we give our lifeblood to and for… and sometimes that lifeblood is reality, not symbolic. Paying for our dedication to the words we write and the pictures we take is not unknown, or even specifically rare. Statistics show that "kidnappers in Iraq, political assassins in Beirut, and hit men in the Philippines made murder the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide in 2005, a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. Forty-seven journalists were killed in 2005, more than three-quarters of whom were murdered to silence their criticism or punish them for their work, CPJ's annual survey found. That compares with 57 deaths in 2004, just under two-thirds of which were murders. " (Statistics taken from a CPJ report…click here to read the full report)

I myself work seven days a week, often ten hours a day. That is not a complaint. I LOVE my job with a passion. But that does not mute the tick tick tick of the clock, nor am I by any means in a minority.

Carly’s next question - whether the media would rather report news that keeps the public fired up instead of reporting news that has a positive aspect to it – is a short sentence introduction to an extensive subject. What is news? What is a journalist? What should newspapers, radio, television cover?

"News" serves a number of functions. By definition, the function of the news is to inform people about social, political, cultural, ethical and economic issues so that they can vote and otherwise express themselves as responsible citizens. News also serves as a historical record of society, documenting humankind’s whos, whats, whys, whens and hows.

"A free and independent press is essential to human liberty. No people can remain sovereign without a vigorous press that reports the news, examines critical issues and encourages a robust exchange of ideas." Such was the definition of Journalism decided on by a group of worldwide journalists gathered together to address the issue of journalism as a public trust.

Today, however, it no longer seems to make a difference who is right or what is true…it only matters who is loudest. Two key components of any definition of journalism are that journalism involves "verifiable fact" "relevant to the serious issues of society." Daily, however, we as reporters are buried by events that overshadow the larger issues. Photo opportunities, sound bites, hot-button issues and staged political "news" provide the opportunity and stumbling block to both intentionally and unintentionally neglect the hard news.

"Pressed by deadlines, hemmed by the size of the news hole and isolated from research facilities, daily journalists are frequently forced to ignore the stories behind the news. In doing so, journalists can be seen to fail to make politicians accountable," said Alan Knight. And as a working journalist, that sentence rings with the unmistakable tenor of truth.

That brings us to the issue of what hard news vs. soft news and what is the place of each in the media. Before stepping into that morass, a quick mention of the subject "who is a journalist."

There seems to be much hullabaloo lately about whether blogs count as news. I see this in a number of ways. As a reporter, with a honest-to-goodness degree (and the associated student loan debt) hanging on my wall, and the 4 years of learning, researching, studying and improving, I balk at the idea that some Joe Blow can plop down at his computer and spew out some words and be considered a journalist with as much credibility as I. The pride thing……but only in part. It goes back to that verifiable fact. I have a responsibility, consequences and repercussions if I betray the ethics and standards my paper…..and I…have determined essential.

Now many people will point out the scandals that have rocked the journalism field lately. To that, I say Yes…..journalism has its shameful practitioners, its scoundrels, its embarrassments, and its bad apples. But so does every other profession on the face of the earth. And those scandals, no matter how widely touted…change the fact that the vast majority of journalists are guided by the strongest sense of duty and responsibility to the underlying and vital purpose of journalism.

Just as no doctor would say anyone could do a cardiac bypass without the training and knowledge to be officially a "doctor"……or a mechanic would recommend a neophyte attempting a carburetor rebuild (yeah yeah, I know, nobody has carbs anymore, I’m dating myself) neither is the profession of journalism just a bunch of scribblers who had nothing better to do. Contrary to popular belief, a fedora with a white label suck in the side that reads "press" does not a journalist make.

It is the journalism that defines the journalist, not vice versa. Also, blog writers, even the ones who give their writing the veracity, seriousness and consideration of true journalism, owe much of their inspiration to the raw material served up each day by conventional news organizations. That being said, the world of blogging is not an ephemeral, transitory phenomenon. It would behoove the industry to not only accept and acknowledge it, but to turn to it for clues and keys to what is required from the media.

Indeed in his excellent article in WIRED Kevin Kelly writes:
In fewer than 4,000 days, we have encoded half a trillion versions of our collective story and put them in front of 1 billion people, or one-sixth of the world's population. That remarkable achievement was not in anyone's 10-year plan. "No Web phenomenon," he writes, " is more confounding than blogging. Everything media experts knew about audiences - and they knew a lot - confirmed the focus group belief that audiences would never get off their butts and start making their own entertainment. Everyone knew writing and reading were dead; music was too much trouble to make when you could sit back and listen; video production was simply out of reach of amateurs. Blogs and other participant media would never happen, or if they happened they would not draw an audience, or if they drew an audience they would not matter. What a shock, then, to witness the near-instantaneous rise of 50 million blogs, with a new one appearing every two seconds."

Why, I ask, would we as journalists, journalism professors and members of the news media in general turn our back on this public power? This bigger brain, that Kelly persuasively argues, will, by the year 2015, help us do so much of our thinking that if users are cut from it, it will feel as if they have had lobotomies.

So what is news? Is it what we as journalists determine it is? Is it what the conglomerates that have bought the majority of media outlets say it is? Is it what the shopper at the supermarket says it is? Is "soft news" news?
"Hard news" refers to coverage of breaking events involving top leaders, major issues, or significant disruptions in the routines of daily life, such as an earthquake or airline disaster. Hard news has traditionally been considered essential for an informed and participatory citizenry. "Soft news," on the other hand, is news unrelated to public affairs or policy, and is typically more sensational, more personality or celebrity oriented, less time-bound (meaning that the traditional journalistic norm of "timeliness" does not apply), and more incident-based than hard news (Patterson).

It is clear to anyone who opens their eyes that soft news has taken over not only television but also print media. News stories lacking public policy content jumped from less than 35% of all stories in 1980 to roughly 50% of stories appearing today. Stories with a moderate to high level of sensationalism rose from about 25% of news stories in the early 1980s to a current tally of 40%.
The leading example of newspaper soft news journalism is the USA Today – the print equivalent of Hard Copy.

Common sentiment is that immediacy is more important than either accuracy or applicability, and humor is more important than that and profit overrides all.

Ok, so money seems to be determining news content. Ah-hah..someone to point the finger at! How dare the journalism industry place monetary gain over the sacred responsibility of their charter?

But then comes the chicken-and-egg blame game. What about the responsibility of the news consumers? Is the industry of journalism to blame for supplying what is demanded? Newspaper circulation dropped 1.9 percent in the last year. Young readers are scarce. Just 23 percent of people under 30 said they had read a newspaper the day before they were interviewed according to the Pew survey. The same survey says young people aren't very interested in news from any source, electronic or print. The time spent watching or reading the news by adults under 30 has dropped by about 16 percent in the past decade.

Newsroom budgets are tight, and the competition remains unrelenting. Even Nightline, one of the most respected news sources through the years, has lost almost 40 percent of its audience over the past decade. Competence and prestige are no longer guarantees of survival on network TV . Sustaining profit growth often requires reducing the resources for news gathering, thereby diminishing the role of the news media as a public trust. Business priorities are encouraging the blending of news and entertainment as a strategy to build audiences and ratings.

As one pundit put it, is it possible for journalism to both do well, and do good at the same time? What justification is their for demanding that the business ventures that media outlets are should neglect profits, that journalists should forfeit the meager wages they do make, that editors and publishers and media moguls should be the one sector of private industry that should disregard the business of making money to satisfy their obligations? Should it not be, at minimum, a mutual burden of both the industry to maintain a level of quality, and for the public to support that quality with the dollars they are now dropping on The National Enquirer, American Idol and WWE Wrestling?
Is there any doubt that if views and readers used their pennies, dimes and dollars to express a preference for a return to the hard news as opposed to a minute-by-minute documentation of a slow-moving white Bronco and the latest runaway bride- that the journalism industry would gladly follow?

I do not know a single fellow journalist that does not admit and acknowledge there are concerns within the profession. "We" sometimes get facts wrong and have trouble admitting it. "We" sometimes includes incompetent or ignorant or even downright dishonest reporters. "We" tend to concentrate on the bad news and gloss over the good. "We" lack diversity at times and all fight the natural inclination to allow editorial bias to sneak into news stories…and are not always successful in that fight. And sometimes we refuse to admit…..there just is no story. However, I’m betting 95% of the journalists working today believe they are fulfilling the true calling of their profession, providing fair and independent news in the public interest.

In answer to Carly’s question "Why is he not being challenged by members of the media about his assertion that it is media to blame for his low approval ratings?" I can only answer for myself and assume I am not unique. Personally, I am busy writing about the latest zoning ruling of the county council, the election of a new Sheriff, the loss of the state championship by the local high school’s football team, the effects of new immigration policies on local workers, the size of Cousin Jimmy’s bass that got away and the killer chili that won the cook-off. I don’t have time to worry about what the President has accused us of. If I care to worry about accusations, I’m sure I could lift my hand at the local Starbucks, ask for input, and get all the accusations I could possibly want. Then again, I could also just log on and skip through my bloglines and skip the Starbucks altogether with the same results.