25 March 2007


I think I'm pushing my multi-tasking skills to the limit as I'm coming up on some big deadlines in the next few days... a newspaper, a 96-page school yearbook, stories for the summer issue of Sandpoint Magazine, the collection of auction donations for the Festival at Sandpoint, a project to build new bleachers at Clark Fork High School, taxes...

And this morning, I read that even the New York Times thinks I can't do it all.

Still, isn't that just the politically correct thing to say?

In an article called Slow Down, Multitaskers, and Don’t Read in Traffic by Steve Lohr,
he says that four Vanderbilt researchers reported on the efficiency that's lost when someone attempts to do two things at once. "... researchers found that response to the second task was delayed by up to a second when the study participants were given the two tasks at about the same time."

I can actually read a book, and sing along with a song on the radio, at the same time. Through the years, that ability has driven my family nuts. (Most people can read and listen to a song, it's the singing it that stops some folks.) I'm sure I read slower when I'm doing that, but does that really matter if both things need to happen during a certain time frame?

Of course, what really got to me about this article was the old "cell phone in the car argument."
"But one implication of the Vanderbilt research, Mr. Marois said, is that talking on a cellphone while driving a car is dangerous. A one-second delay in response time at 60 miles an hour could be fatal, he noted.

“We are under the impression that we have this brain that can do more than it often can,” observed Mr. Marois, who said he turns off his cellphone when driving."

Let's have a little scientific rigor here. Because the inference isn't that talking on a cell phone is dangerous... it's that talking is.

So before we run out to make more laws banning cell phone use while driving, let's go ahead and deal with the real problem, and ban any talking at all by a person driving a car.

And now it's back to work. 'Cause while I can multi-task, my computer keyboard can't. Typing here means I'm not typing on pages that need to be completed.

See ya later

14 March 2007

Sneak Peek 14 March 2007 River Journal

It's out, kind of, and it's amazing that it is. None are delivered yet.... I had to come home first and get some work done before heading back into Sandpoint for a 7 pm meeting. And I also wanted to come home to print off a flyer to stick in the Clark Fork papers based on a telephone conversation I had with an attorney on my way back from Spokane with this issue. (I was in Sagle, actually.)

I talked with the attorney because I had raised the question at the Clark Fork city council meeting on Monday night whether they had conducted a legal meeting. Here's what I'm sticking in the Clark Fork papers (and will print in our next issue of the River Journal).
Clark Fork Residents:
Please note: the story on the continued controversy over proposed new ordinances for our city notes that at Monday night’s city council meeting, the question was raised as to whether it had been a legal meeting or not.
I was able to speak with an attorney who represents cities on my way back from Spokane with this issue of the paper. I shared with this attorney my recollection of actions taken on the night of the meeting, and the response was that nothing in what I shared suggested it had been an illegal meeting. This attorney, it should be noted, was NOT offering legal advice, merely an opinion based on the information I provided.
It is my belief, therefore, that the actions taken during the 12 March meeting of the city council were fully legal and I apologize to the Mayor for raising the question of legality in the first place.
Trish Gannon, Publisher, The River Journal
That's where it stands at this point, and I'll keep you posted if that information changes.

12 March 2007

Recovering from Alumni

Why does alumni weekend always fall on my deadline? I've been working 12 hours straight so far today, trying to catch up and have a paper I can send to the printer tomorrow. On the bright side the twelve hours haven't been too awfully bad because (1) I'm relatively sober (after drinking Friday and Saturday night, I managed one beer last night before falling asleep - WAY early - in the bathtub) (2) I had already laid out most of staccato notes, the one part of the paper I truly hate laying out and (3) I didn't have anything in this issue that I had to write myself. Yet. (City council meeting in about 20 minutes, so we'll see what comes up.) Maybe there's a (4) as well - as I can't talk today. Between this horrible cold/cough, drinking, and very little sleep, I've lost my voice. So I've avoided answering the phone. It's not only hard to hear me, it hurts.

I don't play alumni, and every year, as I watch the volleyball, I regret it. Maybe next year. But I spend the entire weekend taking pictures of all the players, and it's a job I love. Most of it's basketball, and I sit pretty much right under the net in order to get good shots. It looks more dangerous than it's actually been throughout the years - the worst I was ever hurt at a basketball game came when a player landed on me in the bleachers. This year, I only got hit once and, believe it or not, it was my own son who crashed into me. Beezer Ruen came pretty close, and I did a beautiful zig while a guy from Noxon did a beautiful zag that kept me from some painful injuries this year.

If I load these pictures correctly, however, the first one looks like Alan Potter was just about to take me out at the neck. He actually missed me by a good three inches. My reflexes are pretty good. The second pic is just to show you guys that it's not just kids who play alumni - we get returning players of all ages. I think Bob Hays, at 70, is our oldest.

I heard this great story from someone who shall remain unnamed but this person, let's call her "C" flies home to Clark Fork every year just for alumni. She meets up with her sister, "T" and they rent a room and make a weekend of it. C was telling me that she knew they were going to give a bed in their room to their old friend (a male) "M" because he didn't have a place to stay. So she gets to her room late on Saturday night, and here's T in one bed, M in the other, and some guy sleeping with his shoes for a pillow on the floor. C tells me she wakes up T and asks her, "who's the guy on the floor?" T says, "I don't know. It's some friend of M's who didn't have a place to stay so I said he could sleep on the floor." In the morning, C asks M who the guy is and M responds, "how the hell would I know?"

Welcome to Clark Fork - and welcome home, alumni. It was another blast of a year.

08 March 2007

Alumni Weekend

I don't want to even think about how busy this last week has been and how busy the days ahead of me are going to be. On the bright side, however, one of the reasons my upcoming days look so frantic is that this is alumni weekend in Clark Fork. Yay!

This is my second-favorite holiday, coming only after the 4th of July.

If you've never experienced alumni weekend, then know this - guys over 50 can still play basketball. Boy, can they!

Every year in Clark Fork, on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, alumni and others from all over the area show up at the gym at Clark Fork High School for some of the hardest-hitting basketball and volleyball you've ever seen. It's a community party, and I love it!

I think these "old guys" are just dying for the kids to graduate so they can meet 'em on the floor at alumni - and I'll tell you this, as a watcher, I think they believe you get extra points for fouls.

You've never had this much fun before. Here's a link to a commercial we cut last year for the radio with Clark Fork alumnus George Thornton that tells you what it's like.

The action starts this Friday night (March 9) at 6 pm. Three games kick off the tournnament.

It begins again Saturday morning with two basketball games starting at 8 am.

From 10:30 to 3:30 it's volleyball, then basketball again from 4:30 to 7 pm

On Sunday, Basketball playoffs start at 8 am. Volleyball playoffs begin at 10:30 am with the championship game played at 12:30. Then it's free throw, 3-point contests and "old guy" 3 on 3 for the spectators, before finisihing up with the consolation and championship basketball games starting at 2:25 pm.

It's a great weekend at Clark Fork and I'll be right there in the thick of it - tired, but happy that I live in the best place on earth.

04 March 2007

More Options for River Journal

This issue of the River Journal just out highlights three ways in which new technology is expanding the capabilities of newspapers.

The first, I've already talked about, is the issue of new ordinances for Clark Fork. Through free blogs like this one, we were able to set up the ordinances online, and allow for any and all to comment (good or bad). As city council stated it would be too time consuming to hold a public meeting and go through the ordinances one by one, allowing for citizen feedback, this approach gives a way for public comment that doesn't place an onerous burden on city council members. The only way this could have been better is if city council had done it first. So there's the first "yay" for technology.

The second "yay" is in Marianne Love's Q&A with Sandpoint city councilman (yeah, I'm not always politically correct) Helen Newton. The story is a fascinating one, and not all of it is in the pages of the River Journal. Marianne has posted a continuation of the story both on the River Journal's website and at her own blog.

Finally, Sherry Ramsey has issued a challenge to RJ readers to pay-it-forward, and let us know how you're doing it, with a promise to publish some of the most innovative and simple ideas. (Yeah, it was Sherry Ramsey who wrote that story, NOT Cassandra Cridland. And that's another story.) Technology doesn't really play a huge role in this challenge, though readers are asked to email their information to Sherry. But it is one more way that the paper is opening itself up to the readership.

In fact, the 9-11 Mysteries story even includes a link to an online version of the movie - so you can not only read about what people saw in Sandpoint, you can go check it out yourself.

I'm not sure where the future of the RJ will go in terms of technology, mostly because of the very steep learning curve in front of me whenever we do anything that's different. But we're exploring ways we can expand what we offer while still keeping this a "newspaper worth wading through."

By the way... I'm thinking our new font (Dutch) is a vast improvement over our trial font in the 14 February issue. My apologies to anyone whose eyes were hurting after that issue came out.