Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The End of An Era

Many of you get your newspaper delivered every morning. Most of you never really give it much thought.

I work for one of those newspapers, and ours is being "regionalized". It's not a big city paper, it's certainly not the "Times" or the "Washington Post", but.......to the people who live here on the our little bit of sand, this has been their newspaper for as long as they remember, or as long as even their grandparents remember.

I want to give you all a glimpse into what this is. I will do this in two parts. The first part, I will show you the mechanics, the second half..........I will let you know how this effects YOUR community. That paper that you get on your stoop every morning starts here:

Thousands upon thousands of pounds of paper (click on the pictures and you can enlarge them). Rolls so big that the awe you just to look at them. Different sized, some for the daily paper, some for the inserts that you get, or your weekly entertainment section. But they are huge!

Moving on, the ink.

These are the small vats of ink. The colored ones. Blue, Red and Yellow (all your primary colors). these vats are so big that tankers have to refill them by hose. I didn't get a pic of the "black" ink tank because it's HUGE and in a corner that is very dark.

Onto pre-press. Pre-press is what happens when the creative services department of the paper does their thing, and they send it to this GINORMOUS machine to make the plates that go on the press, that actually prints the paper. These plates are laser scanned. Let me show you.
All the way to your right is where the metal plates are stored. Immediately to it's left, is the laser. It finely etches the plates. As it comes down the line, ultimately it end up to your far left, where the metal plate (the size of a full unfolded newspaper page) is notched on the ends to fit on the tumblers of the press.

This would lead us to the press.

It's a truly ugly machine. Sometimes, walking around it, it reminds me of a Stephen King novel. I swear that the thing breathes and has thrived on it's share of human blood.

But, before you look at it just as an ugly machine, I have a small tale to tell:

One day, because the machine always made me nervous, I was walking thru this very long room....all alone. Hearing the noise of my heels on the concrete, I decided this GREEN MACHINE was not going to freak me out. Thinking there was no one around, and listening to the rhythm of my heels on the floor, I started to sing..........IN THE JUNGLE THE MIGHTY JUNGLE, THE LION SLEEPS AT NIGHT.............before I knew it, (they are actually two presses) out of the belly of the beast, I saw three pressman's heads peek out. They got a good laugh out of it, I was embarrassed, but it was all good.

Back to the beast.
Yes, that long strip of white in the front, is the newspaper about to be printed.

Cool, huh?

You know those inserts that you get in your paper? Coupons, Entertainment issues? Those are processed here:

This is a machine that inserts all those things into the paper. An attendant stands at every station. What looks like scales to you, is actually a shaker. It makes sure that all the inserts are aligned so that when you get your paper, it's all nice and neat.

Here's how those inserts get into your paper:

Yes, it's another machine! But it takes a lot of personal labor to make this work right.

For those of you that read your comics on Sunday.......I read your Sunday comics on Tuesday.....almost a whole week before you do. Here's what they look like while they are awaiting insertion into your Sunday paper!
When you are awaiting your horoscope, I've already read it! Just kidding, I don't peek.

You know those grocery coupons that you get in your Wednesday paper, and those coupon books you wait for on Sunday? Here is how they come..........and we can't even peek at those before the date that they get into the paper (yes, not even employees get to see them). But this is what they look like on days before they find themselves in your paper:
The reason I am telling you all of this, and showing you this, is twofold.

First, my paper is closing. The press will be gone by December. We are regionalizing our press operations to a "hub" location with a new digital press. It is more efficient.
And second, because if people continue to get their news on line, all the people that work these fabulous machines, are out of work.

There will be no more local news, we will all eventually turn into a "USAToday" forum.

It just isn't practical for us to produce newspapers anymore.

In a era, and an election year, where we blame our government for loss of jobs, we never do look to ourselves.

Something as simple as buying a newspaper can keep the people that live in your community employed. Some of those people have been working hard to bring you your news for most of their lives.

When we talk about economy, how do we see ourselves? Canceling our newspaper subscription may be our own personal revolt against the editorial staff. Little do we ever think about the ramifications of our actions. That our very own neighbors might work on the press, or be a carrier.

Do we ever think about how this mass exodus from the printed word affects our neighborhood? Our neighbors?

It's simple things like this that we miss, when we all live in a "global community"

If we continue to look to our "government" to save jobs, maybe we ought to look to ourselves and how our daily purchases influence the jobs in our neighborhood.

***Disclaimer*** All of our waste paper and metal plates are recycled. We also donate $500,000.00 a year to Newspapers in Education

Participants in NIE donate their newspapers to the students in local schools. Through special features like Kids Scoop (a half a page of activities for kids), to special stories, and an online curriculum for kids, parents and teachers, children learn to use the newspaper as a learning tool.

Please check with your school system to see if they subscribe to NIE.

2008 START! Heart Walk

I am keeping this on top for awhile, because it's an important cause. Donate if you feel the urge, but please do not feel obligated.

This year, the girls and I will be raising money and walking in the START! Heart Walk.

Our goal is to reduce coronary heart disease, stroke and risk by 25% by 2010.

If you would like to donate to our efforts, please use the link to the right of this page. If you would like to participate, start your own team, please click HERE to go to the American Heart Association's Heart Walk Page

Disclaimer: All donations go directly to the American Heart Association's official Site.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My dear friend (and most beautiful soul I know) Nancy, Meme'd me.

As much as I love her, these always require so much thought. Only, because it's Nancy, will I comply dutifully.

1. What were you doing ten years ago:

Ten years ago, I was caring for a four year old, and was pregnant with Taylor. My life wasn't perfect, but it was pretty close. My dearest friend and I were excited about the new baby. We had no clue that my friend was dying of cancer yet and were doing well. I just settled a lawsuit for $10,000 against the employer who fired me for having the nerve to get pregnant and we had gone out and bought all new appliances.

2. Five things on my to do list for today: (tomorrow, today is over)

1) Get ready for the end of the month (accounting at newspapers is always deadline driven)

2) Finally get on the spreadsheets that are going to force a major nationals client to pay their bill

3) Take Ashley to school before sunup and come home to take Taylor an hour later.

4) Pay my water bill

5) Take that hot batch I keep telling my friends to take, that I never do.

3. What is your favorite snack?

You don't really want to know. I eat strange foods. I love Herring with onions in sour cream, baked brie on a cracker, or spicy chorizzo with melted cheese and a little cayenne pepper!

4. If I were a millionaire, I would:

Buy A HOUSE with all the windows and light I want, on the water! Put money in trusts for the girls, prepay their college...

Donate the first million I ever get to Hospice care.

5. Places I have lived:

1) Bremen, Germany

2) Margarita, Panama Canal Zone

3) Ft Lauderdale, Florida

4) Niles, Ohio

5) York, Pennsylvania

And on and on and on.

6. Five people I'm tagging:

Heh Heh Heh......

This is where it gets fun.

1) Pam @ Pam's Ponderings ( I love ya Pam and all your hugs just got you pegged!)

2) Bronie @ Team Victory, because she needs a giggle

3) Didi @ Meyers on the Hood....just because she is the most inspirational person I have ever met.

4) Megan @ Fried Okra, because I don't ever get to her blog enough

And Finally:

5) Diane @ The Do Drop In, because she needs to get off her duff and post already!

Have fun All!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shameless Critters

It never ceases to amaze me that animals are so shameless.

I mean, take Oliver for instance. He is the most shameless creature I know.

He spends all night terrorizing us in our sleep. Then he does his due diligence every morning, sunning himself on the window ledge, or by the storm door. God forbid that another cat should enter his haven, he bristles and raises his fur, growls, like the ferocious beast that he is. Only to get back to the work at hand. SLEEPING.

He does that so well!

He does have his good qualities though. He guards the laundry that needs to be folded, OH SO WELL!

Look at the look...aren't YOU scared?

I wouldn't mess with that laundry.

He makes sure that there are no dust bunnies under the furniture.


But, at the end of the day, he's shameless.

He doesn't much care who watches, or what he's doing.......

But at least he's sweet, and we love him. Antics and all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life In Hurricane Alley

They are truly a force of nature, a beautiful, potent reminder that there are forces stronger than any man.

This is our busiest time of the year. When you live in Hurricane Alley, you learn to be part meteorologist. You learn to read trends in the High and Low Pressure systems. The Weather Channel is one of your favorites.

There is nothing more frightening that having one of these monsters set his sights on where you live.

Ike was one of those.

I have lived in Florida my whole life, but until Ivan, I had conveniently always been somewhere else when the big ones hit. I only saw the aftermath of Andrew. I had been at a convention in Orlando that weekend, and drove home to a 180 sq mile ghost town. It wasn't until weeks after that I saw, first hand, what destruction one of these suckers can do.

Ivan was a different story. I had never actually had one bearing down on me and I was frightened. Allen and I were together than, and I was safe, but proceeded to hide in my bed. I did peek outside once in a while and saw some of the oddest things. Rain, moving sideways, trees completely bent in half.

I still wouldn't live anywhere else in the country. Crazy? Perhaps.

You really get a feel of what kind of community you live in after a disaster strikes. The bond, the neighbors that you rarely see other than waving hello occasionally....rolling up their sleeves to rebuild. Sometimes time and time again. People with generators, who have power, sharing those with people who don't. Meals shared on grills on a cul-de-sac, because it's cooler outside the house than in it.

Today, in the aftermath of Ike, we see that spirit. That great, All American spirit.
The spirit that moves mountains (or very large trees). The churches fill up, because as awed as we are, we know that without spiritual guidance, some things are just too hard to bear. And then......comes the donations.

The church hallways that absolutely fill to the brim with any thing anyone can give, to those who lost, sometimes everything. People who have so little sometimes, that they give until they can't give anymore. People who dedicate time. If a family needs a mother to go help clean up, another neighbor, who may not be able to do physical labor will take all the kids..feed them, play with them. People who offer everything from vehicles to transport what needs to go, to those who need it, to people who take time off of work when they cannot afford to, because someone needs their help more.

The storms are horrible, but never as tough as the human spirit.

Today, as Galveston and Houston dig out, those same people are already ready with aid. just waiting for the notice that it is safe to bring all these things to the people who need them

Is there a greater expression of how God works in all of us?

I don't think so....What do you, my bloggy friends think.

I love you all and think of you often.