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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Burlington Free Press "special section" on the guard

Time for yet another update on the BFP's constantly evolving website! I just couldn't make it through my vacation without one.

Looks like they've got a swell new graphic when  you scroll down their homepage that advertises a new "special section" for Vermont National Guard news. Except, um, when you click on it, there's just one article, sans pictures, and a tab on the sidebar that reads:

Welcome Home Vermont Soldiers. Thanks to those who have served their country honorably. You make us proud!

        Click here for a special thank you from local merchants.

And that, folks, is little more than a placemat full of ads that say "welcome home." What happened to the message board from everybody else? I can't find it. I can, however, find the giant ads surrounding the Dec. 27th article. Not that I'm opposed to web ads — my blog may have some soon, and we've certainly got them at Seven Days — but as a reader, I'm so put off by giant web ads that overwhelm the text. It looks like they've prioritized the ads over the actual content of the newspaper online. I think that's unfortunate.

UPDATE: BFP web designer Jeremi Lashua says he's working on the section. Read on in the comment thread.

December 29, 2005 at 10:06 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Citizen journalist on the scene in Montpelier

"She-gamer" blogger Gravity in Montpelier has this first hand post of the rock slide in Montpelier this past week. With photos and everything. Gravity says she was driving home from shopping with her girlfriend, mother, and sister, when they heard a loud, electronic sounding noise. And then...

The car ahead of us did a 3-point turn on the School Street bridge and the driver tried to get my attention, but I didn’t know what she wanted. Then we got to the stop sign at the intersection. I looked left. Then I looked right.

Elm Street was filled with smoke and dust, we couldn’t see much. Mostly just the snakes of downed power lines in the road, and the top 5 feet or so of a telephone pole, suspended above the middle of the road by its own wires, flamingly on fire and shooting sparks.

“Oh my god!” was pretty much my reaction.

Read more. Thanks, Morgan, for the tip.

December 29, 2005 at 09:30 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Winter Reading

There are few things I enjoy more than spending a few hours sprawled out in my living room reading a good book. My life is pretty hectic these days — whose isn't? — and I only get to read when I intentionally carve out the time, which isn't nearly as often as I'd like. I feel lucky this week to have time to read. I've got a bunch of other items on my to do list, but so far I've managed to get engrossed in several new books, some of them I actually have a chance of finishing before I officially go back to work on Monday.

So instead of adding a bunch of new blogs to my list, which I swear I'll do any day now, I'll tell you what I'm reading, and ask that you share what's on your bedside or couchside table (or bathroom shelf).

I'm plodding through The End of Faith, by Sam Harris. I got two copies of this for Christmas — ironically. I kept one, and returned the other for The Johnstown Flood, the first book by David McCullough, one of my favorite writers. I remember reading excerpts of this book in a Reader's Digest when I was probably 10 or 11. It made quite an impression. It's a great book, by a talented writer. It's timely, too, considering this year's surfeit of natural disasters. The Johnstown flood is eerily similar to the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Makes you wonder what the hell else is about to break in this country.

I'm also engrossed in Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Luov. I got this from my sister Karen, who works as an environmental educator in Charlotte, NC. A fascinating and frightening book that makes me want to spend more time in the woods and less time in front of my computer. I've also started Collapse, by Jared Diamond, and Everything Bad is Good For You, by Stephen Johnson, but haven't gotten very far in either. Also started Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell it Like it is, by Abigail Garner. Got that from my 7 Days secret santa. Thanks! And I have yet to start Home Land, by Sam Lipsyte, the only fiction book on my list.

I confess that, though I was recently able to read the 6th Harry Potter book for the second time, I am hopelessly mired in Post Captain, the second Aubrey/Maturin book by Patrick O'Brien. I'm disappointed. It's so boring that I don't think I can finish. Let me sum up what I've read in the first 2/3: Jack's broke, Stephen is a spy (uh, for the English?) and they're sailing in some boat that's not as good as the boat they were on in the last book. Also, they think they're in love with the same woman, when in fact they are in love with each other. Every time I pick up this book to read it, I feel like I'm on a boat that's sailing around in circles, going nowhere, making me vaguely seasick. I think it's time to stop.

And it's not a book, but this morning I finished the Dec. 2005 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which has this thought-provoking article by James Fallows about Iraq's army, or lack thereof.

So, readers — if anyone read this far — what are you reading?

December 27, 2005 at 02:47 PM in House Rules | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Friday, December 23, 2005

On vacation!

Expect light posting from me over the next week or so. I'm officially on vacation — Seven Days closes the office for a couple weeks at the end of the year and gives us all a break. We sent the Dec. 28th issue to the press last week, so I don't have anything to write until the first week of January.

I'm spending my time nesting, reading, watching movies, eating good food and tying up loose ends before our baby arrives in February. Sometime in there I'll be posting a new list of Vermont blogs. But not today. I've got furniture from IKEA to assemble.

December 23, 2005 at 03:55 PM in House Rules | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Weekly Post: Vermont Blogger of the year

This summer, Seven Days included a "Best Vermont Blog" category in its annual Daysies awards.  Readers chose Bill Simmon of Candleblog as this year's winner. Well now it's my turn to pick my favorite blogger of 2005, and I've chosen the late Patricia Hejny.

I was going to wait to post this — it won't appear until the issue that comes out Dec. 28th — but I just listened to the fantastic VPR piece on Pat, and felt like sharing this sooner than I'd planned. In its tribute, VPR includes an audio montage of recordings of Pat calling in to Switchboard. It made me smile. Very much worth downloading and listening to. The piece on Pat is the last segment of the program.

Weekly Post Dec. 28

From 802 Online

Vermont Blogger of the Year

This year’s winner is self-described “granny blogger” Pat Hejny. Pat, who died on December 13 at age 79, kept a blog called Pat Political

Pat inspired me. She started blogging at an age when most people are beyond caring about the newest new thing. I first spoke with her in February for Senior Surfers, a story I wrote about senior citizens and technology. "I enjoy the computer,” she told me. “I don't quite know what I'd do without it."

Pat was an enthusiastic activist. In her blog’s left-hand sidebar, she declared her support for universal health care, instant run-off voting and a renewable biomass fuel economy. A two-time independent candidate for governor, she was mulling plans for a third run when she suffered the stroke that precipitated her death; in her final post, on November 29, she discussed her possible platform.

The thing I admired most about Pat was her insistence on taking part in society’s ongoing conversation — about politics, technology, you name it. On her blog’s masthead, she wrote: “Plenty of bad things these days. I saw the start of a lot of them. Here's what I know. We'll talk
about what we can do.”

We’ll keep talking, Pat.

December 21, 2005 at 12:21 PM in The Weekly Post | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Weekly Post: from Candleblog

This week's post o' the week comes from Bill Simmon at Candleblog. "Pop Quiz" explores the other Christmas wars — the small, psychological battles we fight in the checkout line trenches.

This particular incident involves a customer who's a little too enthusiastic about a mechanical snowman that sings "Frosty" and farts. Writes Bill,

When we thought our torture was finally over and the evil snowman had been silent for several minutes, the bastard, having completed his purchase, walked back to the filthy thing and made it start again before leaving the store with a smug and satisfied look on his face. I hate that man's breathing guts.

I feel you, man.

December 21, 2005 at 12:13 PM in The Weekly Post | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Free Press blogging article

I meant to post about this Burlington Free Press front-page story on political blogging earlier this morning, but forgot. A comment from "tod" in another thread reminded me to get with it.

Not that I have much to say. I think Terri Hallenbeck got it right. I *was* surprised that they omitted The Carpetbagger Report, since that's probably the most highly trafficked political blog in the state, but it seemed like their focus was on statewide politics.

They're right to do the story now — when I wrote about political blogging last October, almost nobody was doing it at a statewide level. The field has definitely expanded.

December 20, 2005 at 04:12 PM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Give the gift of gem jams!

Leslie_1I did a phone interview with Leslie Hall for our December 28th end-of-the-year update in the paper, but it turns out we didn't have space for it. Ah well. Good thing I can shamelessly plug the remarkable Keeper of the Gems online.

Here's the scoop since last we saw her at the Art Hop in September — she's in Iowa. The mobile gem sweater museum broke down in Worcester, Mass, after a couple shows in New Hampshire and Boston. "We need a new radiator," says Leslie.

That's the bad news. Good news is that Leslie has a new video out, commissioned by design firm Space 150. They flew her to MN to film it. She's also got this Christmas rap e-card.

And the Gem Sweater lady has been interviewed by reporters from Bust, Instinct and a new magazine called Swindle. She thinks the stories will come out in January and February. In March, the CBS Morning Show might air a segment about her, and in April, her museum will be at the Museum School in Boston. She'll be competing for a $100,000 prize.

"'06 is my year!" she says.

December 20, 2005 at 01:50 PM in House Rules | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, December 19, 2005

Real VT: Christmas caroling Burlington style

I just came from a clever Queer Liberation Army protest. A group of the "queer elves" stood outside the General Dynamics building and sang Christmas carols. Er, sort of. They rewrote the songs for the occasion. Some lyrics from their version of "Jingle Bells":

Dscf3453Dashing through the snow
In leftie Burlington
Oh how much we want

The QLA sings
Making spirits bright
Oh what fun it is
To fight the radical right!

Jingle Bells, George Bush smells,
Make him go away.
The neocon empire is in its final days, hey!

You get the idea. More in Wednesday's paper.

December 19, 2005 at 06:13 PM in Real VT | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Real VT: Senator Leahy goes shopping

Reason # 347827859 why I love Vermont: from Hall Monitor's Darren Allen, who ran into Senator Patrick Leahy at the Hunger Mountain Food Co-op on Saturday. Leahy spent the weekend at home before returning to DC as the session winds down.

After a brief chat with the senator very much in the news lately for opposing President Bush's approach to renewing the Patriot Act -- and for angrily denouncing a domestic spying program that has Bush very much on the defensive -- he bade goodbye.

As he left the checkout line, a woman in the aisle spotted him, and started clapping loudly. Soon the entire store erupted into cheers.

I'll bet you that most senators in the country don't get that kind of a reception while stocking up on a few provisions.

I love it that it's possible to run into one of our two senators at the local co-op.

December 19, 2005 at 01:56 PM in Real VT | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack