Saturday, April 30, 2011


Taking my high school senior daughter Gabrielle on visits to college campuses brings me back to my own college days.

Whenever we take these tours, certain stops along the way take me on a flashback to my four-year tenure at St. Bonaventure University from 1982 to 1986. Visiting their campus libraries reminds me of my work study job at the Friedsam Library front desk (I defy anyone to have ever had a better work study job!) Their bookstores take me back to the days of shopping for the best bargains in textbooks and rarely finding anything I would consider a "bargain." Seeing their dorm rooms beams me back to our own "Sickbay," manned by three nerdy Star Trek (The Original Series, since it was the only one they had back then) fanatics who watched the 1 a.m. repeats from our triple bunk beds every night.

The campus media was a great experience, and in many ways more strict than the real world soon to come. Over the years I wrote stories and drew pictures for the newsletter for incoming freshmen, the yearbook, the newspaper, the alumni magazine and the poetry publication -- plus a work study position my freshman year as managing editor of something called the Biblical Theology Bulletin that I barely remember at this point other than that the title looked good on my resume.

The newspaper was probably my biggest claim to fame, as the editors were renowned for their harsh rewriting of our work. I remember when I finally got to the status where they would run my stories unchanged -- I really thought I made something of myself then! And when our advising communications professor had a story he wanted covered, he told the editor to assign it to me. That was quite a pat on the back ... maybe not as cool as getting paid, but rewarding never the less.

Seeing today's students' modern computers brings a chuckle as I think about the antics we employed as some of the earliest "hackers" on our own stone age-yet-state-of-the-art-for-the-mid-1980s machines. Nothing malicious, mind you ... just in good fun, like the time we sent a non-ending spooled greeting to our buddy that flashed over and over on every screen in his computer science room during his class. It's a good thing my kids don't read my blog because I always tell them I didn't do anything but study in college.

Of course, the most important part of college is broadening your social skills. When it came to meeting the ladies, there wasn't anybody on campus with a better vantage point than myself manning at the library front desk. That's because I had that magic button  that could instantly lock the exit turnstile so I could play security guard and check backpacks for possible stolen books. And then prod for a name and number. I also had control of the PA system, so it wasn't unusual for Seymour Butz to get paged to the front desk for a phone call. And we really did have a Mike Hunt in our class, so we often had fun at his expense.

It was a lot of good times, some not-so-good times, a lot of work and a little fun now and then when I could sneak it into my busy schedule.

And the college visits will continue as I get to do it all again with my youngest daughter, high school junior Samantha. I would have thought it would get easier as time goes on, but it actually seems the other way around ... it's harder as I get closer to that empty nest day. But I see other people living through it, so I know I will too, even if the girls refuse to let me go to college with them.

I think it would be fun, except for the going to classes and taking tests and writing papers parts. I'm getting too old for that stuff.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Now that we are nearly to the half-way point of the year, let's take a look at how those New Year's resolutions I made for 2011 are doing.

Hmmm ... not so good.

There really wasn't too much out of the norm on my resolutions list for 2011. Basically they were all the same old resolutions I've broken every other year, just with a new, although short-lived, commitment at the start of 2011 to actually persevere and accomplish them this time around.

Luckily, there are still seven months left before the year is over. Still plenty of time to lose my age in pounds by my next birthday (I'd be there already if I was a few decades younger, but hey, at least I haven't gained any weight this year. It was a trying winter). I can still work on cleaning out more of the clutter from the bachelor cave. I can still try to keep a more positive attitude in the workplace.

It seems like there were a few more, but I guess those already have me overburdened with striving for personal improvement.

Stay tuned as the year winds down to see if I can reinvigorate myself to stick with my goals for 2011 ...

Friday, April 8, 2011


I was feeling pretty old the other day.

As I was checking Facebook to keep up on the antics of my FB friends (some would call it stalking; I call it staying informed), I saw the birthday announcement of one of my beloved coworkers, a peer and a friend who has both motivated me and inspired me in our time working together.

Then I noticed the announcement included her age ... and it was half of my own. So as I'm feeling like the old man at the office, at the same time I started thinking about the things she, as well as the rest of the mostly younger crew I work with, have missed out on.

Way back in the day -- we're talking 1983 for anyone keeping score -- I started working at a newspaper so different from the one we have today that we might as well have carved our stories on stone tablets. I submitted freelance stories to the Oneida Daily Dispatch while attending college, and back in those days we had no computer word processing apparatus, no Internet, no digital photography, no electricity (just kidding there, folks). For the young people of today who take this for granted, I say to appreciate what you have because it hasn't always been there! I've been through those dark ages and we didn't know what we were missing.

I often chuckle when I click either "cut" or "paste" as I write and edit. Back in my formative days, we actually had to cut using an Exacto knife and paste using, well, paste. There wasn't any of this clicking a magic button to accomplish the chore like we do now. I always love highlighting a headline or paragraph and clicking a force-fit key or commanding the type size leading to shrink, because we used to have to actually calculate the exact length of a headline by multiplying the number of characters by their sizes and write it to fit that amount of space. And letters aren't all the same size, so that always was a trick.

Our classes at St. Bonaventure University circa the early to mid 1980s offered the cutting edge of technological opportunity back then ... knowledge that right now has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the methods of today. But I suppose there is no such thing as a worthless experience (at least that's what I tell my daughters as they prepare for their own college careers) because that training was invaluable at the time, and did set the ground work for the never-ending learning that continues. Heck, I just finished editing pages for tomorrow's paper, and I still learned new techniques tonight.

It seems like every time I learn something new, it's outdated shortly thereafter. It's like a new car that depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. I've gone from the manual typewriter and typesetting with leaden letter pieces to computer-generated pages; from rolls of black and white film that held maybe 24 to 36 pictures to a digital camera that can hold darn near 4,000 color photos and even videos. Who would have thought when I was a kid filming those silly 8 millimeter home movies that today I could shoot a news or music video, post it on the paper's website, and have it potentially seen by people all over the world. And that does happen ... because I can track where they are being seen and it's incredible to find all the foreign lands listed as audience sources.

I thought I was quite the modern writer when I started this Internet blog, but then we started Tweeting shortly afterwards. Even before that cooled down, we started texting breaking news. The newspaper's website is now the first place to look for the news, and the actual newsprint edition is second. Every time I learn something new, it seems days later I have to learn something else newer -- but the educational opportunities the new technologies offer is also something I don't take for granted. Don't tell my bosses, but there are a lot of people paying good money taking classes to learn the stuff they teach me here for free. Plus they pay me!

Of course, as I marvel at the technological advances of today, I have to wonder what my kids will see when they are out in the working world in a few more years. How long will it be before they look back on the wonders of modern science we use today as old fashioned machinery of times gone by?