Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why Do People Say...

I always find the English language an interesting creature to study - especially under the literal lens. Here is an observation I made only recently, although I've encountered this phrasing many a-time:

"That's not a bad idea."

My boss told me the other day that an idea I had wasn't bad. The inflection in his voice added a little something to the statement - it sounded almost like surprise.

So. What we have established is that my idea was not bad, and the fact that I had an idea that wasn't bad is a surprise to those I work with.

I know that this is not the message my boss was trying to convey. I know that (at least in this case) my boss believed my idea was not ONLY "not bad," it was good. So why not just opt for the affirmative: "good idea"? That would be better for morale if you have employees who dissect your statements and take them literally.

But seriously.

Why do people even say, "Not too bad" or similarly backhanded compliments. I would have to do some research on this, but I have a theory. Whoever first uttered these words probably did so at a time in history when paying compliments seemed to show a sign of weakness. This sort of philosophy still has some weight in small towns where "the women are strong and the men are good looking." Strong, silent types often have farms, milk cows, drive tractors and say, "Not too bad."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Small-town Journalism

Minnesota is divided into two geographical locations that clearly establish the "us" and the "them" of the state. There are the "Twin Cities" or even "The Cities" (Minneapolis and St. Paul) and the rest of "us" - also known as "Greater" Minnesota. At least this is my understanding of the term - I am a foreigner (originally from Wisconsin) so I could be misunderstanding something - if that's the case, bear with me.

"Greater" is not intended to be an assessment of the quality of the state beyond the Twin Cities, but rather the quantity of land and people beyond them. It's a tidy, yet meaningless blanket term applied to everyone and everything not associated with these two densely populated areas of the state.

Since there is so much MORE of Minnesota than "The Cities" it's unsurprising that I ended up working for an agriculture newspaper in one of the many small communities that make up the "Greater" part of the state. The county where I live has a special claim to fame, because there are more cows than people here.

During my short but shining career as a small-town journalist, I have worked in three different communities for three different papers; I interned at another during college. I have learned a lot since I graduated in 2003.

When I was a journalism student, there were several miscommunications that took place during my Mass Communication education: 1) Most journalists work for large daily papers and cover fascinating topics; 2) Journalists get a decent salary -- eventually; 3) Weekly papers are inferior and for sissies.

What I have learned since then: 1) Most "average to good" journalists work for small daily papers, or even weekly newspapers. There is only ONE Star Tribune and ONE Pioneer Press and they are EVER downsizing their staffs! Most large markets are controlled by tyrannies - lorded over by one massive paper that is more than likely a merger of many papers over many years. This is just the way it is. Competition (at least in the traditional sense of newspaper vs. newspaper) is dead in most markets. 2) Journalists sacrifice more than they make in time, money and lifestyle. 3) Weekly newspapers rock. Thank you weekly newspapers - for keeping me employed even when we have had our differences.

Bring on the Cheesy Goodness

In only a few short days I will be making the 445 mile-trip to the "old country." I can't wait! As usual, the next few days will be dreadfully busy with packing and other preparations. Ella's reservation at the doggy boarding house has been made, more dog treats have been bought, and she will be ready to go! On my end, I have plenty of laundry to do so I have some clothes to wear when I am at home and my lawn will probably need to be mowed twice before I leave! Fat chance that will happen. Oh how I wish I could cultivate a yard full of Minnesota native prairie grasses.

Friday night I plan to visit with my moniker-squared BFF Trish in Madison. I cannot wait to see her short hair cut! Unfortunately, it was cut super short a month or two ago, so by the time I am seeing it, it will not be as dramatic; I am still excited though. I love to see Trish and hang out and the cool farmhouse where she lives. She has been working on a flower garden, which will be very cool to see, even though it will be at night. I will take photos if possible.

Saturday TBM and I are going on a pre-birthday shopping trip, which will enable me to acquire some new clothing in a no-holds-barred scenario (i.e. many merchandise are "gifted to me" so I will actually get more than one item, and it will probably be something other than a black or white T-shirt). Stacy and Clinton would be so proud of me! I am looking for two pairs of dress shoes/boots in black and brown; a pair of new tennis shoes that have never seen cow-shit would also be nice. I already have two nice pairs of dress slacks, so some tops are in order. I could use a good Khaki pant, too, but nothing too light.

Sunday is the "family BBQ" formerly known as my Grandma W's birthday celebration. We are all so special in my family...

Monday through Wednesday I will be in Door County! I am excited because it is my first trip to Cherry Orchard Town!

Wednesday I will be stopping in Green Bay - my first trip to that town that is not work related. I hope I will get to see something more interesting than the inside of a newly built hospital that requires construction clean-up!

Thursday thru Friday I want to TAKE IT EASY! Leave me alone to bond with the family and the new doggie - Goliath. I will see if he is as amazing as TBM would have the world believe.

Saturday back to MN to get my boo-boo from the boarding house and back in her own bed!

Fun fun!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lord Help Us All

I changed my blog! All by myself! Granted, I accidentally deleted my links and will have to fix some stuff, but right now, I am pretty proud of myself. It took me many hours because I am new to all of the programs but I am satisfied that I could make-over one aspect of my life relatively quickly. Yeay.