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April 28, 2006

Punny, Silly, Snarky and fun

Over the Hedge! Go see it!

And I'm not saying that just because Greg worked on it. Really!

It's a lot of fun, especially if you love animated films, like I do!

Posted by sedda at 10:48 AM

April 27, 2006

The business of the newspaper business

Carroll addressed ASNE in Seattle yesterday about how quickly the print industry is tanking, and why, and why it matters. It's a popular topic, but Carroll always sums things up acutely. (Found via Romanesko.)

We have seen a narrowing of the purpose of the newspaper in the eyes of its owner. Under the old local owners, a newspaper's capacity for making money was only part of its value. Today it is everything. Gone is the notion that a newspaper should lead, that it as an obligation to its community, that it is beholden to the public.

This phenomenon he illustrates is one of the main reasons I wasn't sorry when the LAT gave me the boot in a ploy for higher profit margins. Companies with this philosophy staff departments that have to live by this philosophy, even if they don't believe it themselves. The result is fewer staff, overworked staff, vicious inside politics, increasingly low morale, and often a diminishing product (albeit with occasional rays of light sparked by the kind of creativity required to accomplish Good in a limited situation).

He goes on to point out that due to capital gains tax laws, it's more advantageous for corporations to trade large companies for stock, than for an individual buyer to buy outright and get hit up with hefty tax.

Carroll recommends The Elements of Journalism, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, as a clarification of journalists' beliefs, in the face of impersonal corporate moneygrubbing.

By the way, have you ever wondered about the diversity of journalists and newsrooms? They aren't. A recent ASNE study puts minorities at 13.87% of newsroom staff, with one quarter of US newspapers staffed wholly by white journalists. On the upside, this is up from 3.95% in 1978. (Also via Romenesko.)

Posted by sedda at 12:04 PM

April 09, 2006

Biplane Ride

Greg's dad gave us a biplane ride for Christmas this year. I think it's the one thing we didn't already have!

We got an hour in the air, and I didn't even start feeling sick until about 40 minutes into it. Luckily I was able to barf on the loaner jacket they gave me to keep warm.

Hey, it's not my fault they didn't have any sick sacks.

The views of San Diego were great, and I recommend the trip to everyone—especially those with a strength of stomach that will last the full hour. For those of you with a real sense of adventure, you can even participate in "air combat."

It was really fun, and really memorable (even the part without the barfing).

Posted by sedda at 05:28 PM

April 04, 2006

Cheryl Tiegs on air travel

Cheryl Tiegs hates Northwest Airlines so much, that she's researching taking the train from LA to Minnesota for regular trips.

"I remember when getting on an airplane used to be a really nice thing to do. The airlines used to be so pleasant, they seemed like they really were glad to see you when you came on board."

Hey, China Air still gets my vote for having Actual Service like this.

But I love how even though she has the byline in this NYT column, the ital at the bottom notes: As told to Joe Sharkey. (link via laobserved.)

Posted by sedda at 09:35 AM

April 02, 2006

The Hilkeys WON!!!

Cecilia and Jason are one of three winners of the Kiplinger's Dream Job Contest!!! They were chosen out of 3500 entries, and 25 semifinalists!

Jason says: "We did it all for fun. We love our work and our balance with family. We would like to take it to the next level."

See their entry video about their jobs here. (small version)

Posted by sedda at 10:45 PM

24 hours of solid travel, five meals, three airplanes, four taxis, one Ag check

We left Puno yesterday around 11:15am by mini-bus, to the Juliaca regional airport. It's nice to be headed toward secure food and familiar faces, but we all agreed the trip was ending too soon. Only an extra day or two and we could have made it to La Paz, Bolivia. Guess we'll have to keep it on the tick list.

Greg, Margaret and I flew to Lima via Arequipa, then met Andy at home for a lovely dinner out at their favorite restaurant. By 11pm we were back in a taxi to the Lima airport to fork over our Improbably Heavy bags for the next flights home (via Atlanta) and the classic Ghetto Delta Airlines service.

In Atlanta, our customs cards were marked "A" with a green grease pencil, which I thought was Awesome until we were redirected into the "Agricultural reinspection" line. Well, our plan worked—hiding our strappy backpacks in beat-up, nasty canvas mail bags made our luggage look so crappy, they thought we must be farmers trying to smuggle in some raw meat or something. Luckily this only meant an extra trip through X-ray. The guy in front of us, who had declared a lot of beef, had a more thorough inspection, in sort of a Guess What I'm Importing style of conversation:

Romulan-looking inspector: "Sir, do you have anything else to declare? (pause) Cheese? Queso?"
Innocent-looking Peruvian passenger: "um...(pause)....Oh! Yeah! Queso! I have some cheese."
Romulan-looking inspector: "Anything else? Sir, please don't open the bag now. Do you have anything else to declare?"
Innocent-looking Peruvian passenger: (pause. Staring at three very large suitcases.)
Romulan-looking inspector: "Potatoes? Vegetables?"
Innocent-looking Peruvian passenger: "Yes! Potatoes! and chocolates!"
And so forth. She was a pretty good guesser.

It was sheer luck that we didn't get fully searched because it would have been mathmatically impossible to restuff my backpack in any way that it would have latched closed again, if they had decided to open it. As it was I could barely lift it, with the camping gear and heavy manta cloths I'd brought back.

Greg's mom picked us up at the airport so we could hang with his two uncles and aunt who are in town from St. Louis, and we showed some photos and talked about the trip. Nice to eat a real, homecooked meal, not to mention Greg's aunt's flourless chocolate cake! And shrimp cocktail! A far cry from the simple soups of the Andes, and a supersonic leap back to cell-phone-studded LA.

Posted by sedda at 10:01 PM

April 01, 2006

Still more things you learn by traveling

—In Peru, all the black rubber welcome mats to the shops and restaurants say, "Wilkomen."

—Llamas have long snouts and Alpacas have short snouts.

—In Peru, "jelly" is Jell-O but "marmelade" is jelly.

—No matter where you go in the world, postcards are three or five for a dollar.

—Cream cheese in South America is just called "Philadelphia." As in: "A bagel with salmon and Philadelphia."

—Soda bottled at low altitude, then purchased and opened at high altitude, will indeed spray all over the place as you open it. Every time.

—There are thatch roofs all over the world. Most of them are topped with old tires.

—In Peru, most people live with their parents until they are married. So the parks are filled with couples lounging and gazing at each other, because the only place they can get any privacy is in public.

—They eat guinea pigs in Peru.

—If you send rain-soaked trousers to the hotel laundry service that charges "per kilo" they will weigh your 5-lb. trousers while wet and charge accordingly.

—Some tasty treats are hard to find, but even in the smallest towns, you can always find a Coke. And often a Twix bar.

Posted by sedda at 08:56 AM

Machu Pizza

You can get pizza in just about every restaurant in Peru, it seems (spaghetti, too). Well, at least in the tourist towns. I´m not for this kind of least-common-denominator cuisine, but I have to say when your stomach isn´t right, it´s great to have a simple option to keep yourself fueled.

Winner for best pizza and best restaurant name on the trip goes to Machu Pizza in Puno, a place around the corner from the hotel crammed with locals. Their pizza comes with a hot salsa for dipping, as well as a "creamy garlic" dip—basically a garlic ranch dressing. Not bad!

(Machu Pizza is at Jr. Tacna No. 279 at about Jr. Melgar, only about 5 blocks from the Plaza des Armas in Puno...and only about three blocks from the Hotel Hacienda, a proper hotel where we stayed for about $40/nite for a triple, including breakfast.)

Posted by sedda at 08:47 AM