Category Archives: Times Union

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I’ve been in conversation with this guy from the local newspaper about putting my little bloggy on the Times Union newspaper blog site. The paper would not exercise any editorial control over my work, and they could move the nearly two years of my back stuff onto the site.

The upside:
Potentially more readers, as the TU would support my/their blog

The downside
No bloglinks (though I could, I suppose, keep a blog with links)
These transfer things always seem to be more complicated than they’re sold on being
I’d get grief from someone about selling out to the evil Hearst corporation

But I’m thinking about it.I imagine those oof you who have strong opinions will share them.

Meanwhile, friend Judy sent me a link to “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us”:

From an unsolicited e-mail:

Dr. Benjamin Wiker has summarized the background of the popular phrase:

“The story begins with Mr. George Hull, a student of archeology and paleontology who contrived a famous hoax to make money. Hull had a ‘giant’ carved out of stone, and buried on his cousin’s farm in Cardiff , New York . Why? Because evangelists of the time were preaching about lost giants that roamed the earth, and Hull knew he could make a mint if the buried giant was ‘suddenly’ unearthed and put on display. And he did. Things went so well that he was able to sell two-thirds interest in the giant for $30,000 to a group of men, one of them being banker David Hannum (who believed the giant real). P.T. Barnum tried to buy the giant, but Hull and Hannum wouldn’t sell. So, ol’ P.T. had one carved of his own, and claimed Hull and Hannum’s was a fake! Seeing the streams of visitors flowing in to see P.T.’s ‘giant’, Hannum, still believing his own giant to be real, declared: ‘There’s a sucker born every minute.’ROG


I’m recalling that the guy who did the In the News segments on Saturday morning s for CBS died last year. What WAS his name? He had a great voice.

Anyway, an extension of a recent Lefty question.

1. Where do you get the news?
Local newspaper? Yes, I read the Albany Times Union, more for the local stories.
National newspaper? Yes, the Wall Street Journal, even though their editorial policy is obnoxious. I do like the cool sabermetric stuff they have on the Friday sports page, their movie recviews are usually spot on, and I like the wine, small business and and technology columns. I USED to read the NY Times daily; those were the days, he sighed. Someone tortured me by getting me a free NYT last Sunday; still haven’t read the book review or the magazine.
Local TV news? I used to, back when this guy was anchoring. But now, I might get “News in a Minute” from the Time Warner folks, unless some major story has broken, when I’ll usually tuirn to the NBC or ABC affiliate.
National news? ABC in the evenings, ABC and CBS on Sunday morning; the ABC show does a best of the late night comedians segment. Also 60 Minutes, for stories such as Brundibar: How The Nazis Conned The World by using a children’s opera to deceive the International Red Cross, which, frankly, made me weep; and GIs Petition Congress To End Iraq War, which frankly gave me hope – check out The Appeal for Redress website for more information. The Today show on those rare times I watch in the morning.
Radio news? About four minutes worth on NPR at 6 a.m., usually. If I’m in the car, I’ll sometimes catch NPR.
Internet news? I tend to note the pieces on Google or AOL, but don’t tend to read them unless they’re breaking stories, usually a storm (Alabama, Florida), a death (Molly Ivins), or a rampage (Utah mall). Occasionally, I’ll check out the local paper’s website, usually when the weather’s dodgy, and I want to know about school closings.
Internet commentary (e.g., Daily Kos)? Rarely, unless someone sends me a link.
E-mailed news? I get a notice from Hispanic Business, which often has news elements.
Most of the above I do NOT watch in real time.

2. Why do you get, or don’t get, the news?
As a librarian, I’ve found it useful context for future questions. Someone reads about a new tax policy and wants to know the implications for themselves. I COULD look it up when asked, but I have found it easier to answer when I have some idea what they’re talking about. Besides, I have that JEOPARDY!-champion-know-it-all burden to maintain. Everyone assumes I know everything (except about cars, where they KNOW I haven’t a clue).
That said, sometimes, I tune out certain stories: another helicopter going down in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the next car bombing that kills scores of civilians, out of self-preservation.

Sports and Race QUESTIONS

Unrelated forward-
Note to Tom the Dog: Now that you are a game show maven, perhaps you can be a source of pithy quotes on other cultural matters. For instance, an Albany-area woman made it onto the next round of American Idol – a show I’m not currently watching, BTW – but had to keep it a secret for a few months, until the program aired this week. Hey, let’s find other folks who’ve had similar experiences, like that guy who was on JEOPARDY! eight years ago! Voila!
1. Here’s an excerpt from Boss Talk: ‘Welcome to My World’; NBA Commissioner Stern Gets Kudos for Expansion But Has Share of Problems
Russell Adams and Adam Thompson. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jan 17, 2007. pg. B.1
WSJ: It’s often been said that when brawls break out on the court in the NBA, everybody makes a big deal out of it, even though other sports frequently have fights among players. Why?

Mr. Stern: My own take is the burden of the fans being so close to the stands. Because of the spectacular view of our game from courtside — which is the closest to the action of any game, and it’s replicated by a camera, and increasingly by high-def, the prospect of players, in any shape or form, crossing the barrier between them and the fans — that’s a problem that we have and no one else has.

WSJ: Do you believe it also might have something to do with racial attitudes in this country, that the NBA is judged more harshly for that reason?

Mr. Stern: Well, I choose not to dwell on it, but you may be on to something. We were the first sport to be identified as black. And, despite the fact that the starters in other sports like football could be equally, percentage-wise, black, our guys are [visible] out there. We can see them, they don’t come encumbered by hat, helmet, long sleeves and pants. You just touched on the global conversation, which is the role of race, and certainly, I would not be fully honest if I didn’t say it’s always there, in some shape or form.

Yes, the NBA is 80% black. But the NFL is about 70% black. Is race a factor in perceptions of NBA players, or is it the proximity to the stands, the fact that, unlike football players, they don’t wear helmets, and that changes the dynamic?

2. Much has been written about the two head coaches in the Super Bowl being black. What’s your reaction? This is my take on firsts in everything: Firsts are important when they get us to the point where it doesn’t matter anymore. Doug Williams, the first black Super Bowl quarterback was important, but I couldn’t tell you the second or third. Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby were important, but one doesn’t make note of every black baseball player, as Ebony magazine did in the 1950s and 1960s; interestingly, black baseball players at the major league level is declining.

Once upon a time, I could tell you the name of every female U.S. Senator, but now there are 16, and I can’t; it’s not enough, but it’s a start. However, I can name all of the black members of the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, since there have been only three: Brooke, Moseley-Braun, and Obama.

Progress is measured when you stop having to measure.

Unrelated postlude;

From May 4, 2004 WSJ

A Better PDB?

Jessica Mintz writes in the Wall Street Journal:

“The presidential daily brief titled ‘Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US’ triggered a political firestorm. But for Greg Storey, what was most striking about the document was its lack of style.
“‘Why is it that the president puts up with these horribly written and laid out documents to assess the threat against our nation?’ wondered Mr. Storey, a 33-year old Web designer.
“So he set out to do something about it.”

Here’s Storey’s blog item explaining what he did and why.


Continued from Saturday, June 11.

It was five weeks from the time I was notified that I would appear on JEOPARDY! until the taping of the show.

One week later, our office received some devastating news: the contract that all but one of the librarians was working under for the last six years was going elsewhere, meaning the very real possibly that most of us were going to be out of a job! This was VERY disappointing because, by all accounts, we had been doing very good work; we were apparently underbid. So much for relaxing.

Meanwhile, I run into a woman who works in my building. She and her sister are about to appear on Wheel of Fortune. There’s a nice story about them in the August 17 Times Union. I talked with her a few times. (If memory serves me, they won, but they got lots of prizes instead of cash, and had to sell a car they got so that they could pay their taxes.)

One of the semi-cool things about the show being taped in Boston is that there are certain things JEOPARDY! will pay for that they would not otherwise. When the show is in Los Angeles, you pay to get there and back (which is why there are so many Southern California contestants), and you pay to stay there and eat there. (Tournament play, though, has different rules, I’ve been told.) In Boston, I had to get there and back on my own, but it’s easier and cheaper to get to from Albany, of course. However, JEOPARDY! was putting up the contestants for this special “thirteen colonies week” in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel for two nights, September 17 & 18 – sweet! And while dinner was on our own, the show did provide two breakfast vouchers for September 18 and 19. This is because the SHOW is “on the road.” This makes no real sense to me, but I am not complaining!

I went out with my friend Lori and bought a suit and a pair of shoes to wear on the show. (I seldom wear shoes unless they’re required, and at the time, it was Chuck Taylors of various colors that was the footwear of choice.)

I get a Federal Express package on September 4 with further instructions that include:
Wardrobe : Bring with you two changes of clothes for a total of three outfits.
Men : Dressy casual, suit, sport coat, sweater. Any of the above looks are fine. If possible, bring an additional sports coat or sweater (with tie) to see what looks best on camera…
Please no jeans or sneakers (men and women.)…no black/whiteprints, no busy prints.
All in CAPS. (Of course most of the sheet was in caps.) But this jumped out at me- one more way I WON’T make it on the show? Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland.

Around this same time, I developed what can only be described as the worst toothache in the world. I went to the dentist three times in a week and a half. He prescribed pain medications, but I still felt lousy. Worse, I felt logy and dopey and in no condition or mood to study. Whatever last-minute cramming I might have done – I used to be good at last minute cramming – went out the window.

I went to work that Monday and Tuesday before the taping, but on Tuesday, I asked to take off the next day, Wednesday, September 16, so that I could pack and rest, and perhaps even study. My boss, the Hoffinator, was usually pretty good about these requests, but on this particular day, she became slightly blanched. “OK”, she said, “but you have to come in at 3 p.m.” 3 p.m.? Then I figured it out.
I came in at the appointed hour, and there was a “surprise” send-off party for me, complete with cake with wording like: A: “The next Jeopardy champion.” Q: “Who is Roger Green?” Someone made me a sheet that said “ROGER GREEN, JEOPARDY! wants YOU!”, with Alex Trebek’s visage on it.

The next day, my friend Judy Doyle and her son Max picked me up. I knew Judy from college in New Paltz (c. 1977), and she briefly worked at the SBDC with me some 20 years later. She was then living in Corning with her son Max. She drove from Corning to Albany, some 210 miles, and picked me up with my requisite three suits (including the new one), five ties, two shirts, and my new shoes. After a brief respite, we traversed another 175 miles to the Massachusetts state capital. (“State capitals:” a popular JEOPARDY! category.) Even before I got in the car, I pulled out my World Almanac, hoping to read something that might come up, assuming that it would stick to my brain. For some reason, I focused on the levels of the atmosphere: stratosphere, ionosphere, and so on.

We get to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, a very nice hotel. It was oddly shaped to fit the space that was available, I gather. (The alternative is that it was already oddly-shaped and they built the streets around it!)

There are several television trucks from different stations in front of the building. Since JEOPARDY! is only on one station in this market, something else important must be happening. What the heck is going on?

Continued on Saturday, June 25.


Continued from Saturday, June 4.

So, all that effort to get on could come to naught, even though I passed the test?

I thought to keep a journal of my JEOPARDY! experience at the time, but, as it turned out, I made only one entry. Rob Owen was the TV/radio columnist for the (Albany) Times Union:

5-22-98: Read Rob Owen’s column about the successful Boston JEOPARDY! tryout contestants. On one hand, I was pleased that the Capital District fared so well. On the other hand, I regret not having made the T-U web page list. [Apparently, the people who passed the test in Boston were listed on the Times Union web page.] Also, the greater number of contestants (50) from the area minimizes my chances of getting on. (How generous of spirit, eh?) I believe the 50 contestants who passed were out of 150, rather than 75, as listed in the original ad, but it didn’t change the math.

After I got through the DC test, I tried to keep a good thought. I called my office, and told the folks that I had passed.

That was a mistake.

Nearly every weekday in the rest of the month, someone (and there was one person in particular) asked me whether I had heard anything from JEOPARDY! I had not. The same thing went on for all of June.

Meanwhile, WTEN did a story on a couple people who tried out at Crossgates Mall, went to Boston and passed the audition. The station went to their respective places of employment and surprised one man and one woman with the news that they would be on JEOPARDY! (Unfortunately, I do not remember their names or their JEOPARDY! fates.) I get through July and I hear NOTHING.

Thursday, August 13, I’m sitting at my desk, when our secretary Jeanette buzzes my phone. “It’s JEOPARDY!” The next thing I hear is: “Roger Green? ” “Yes?” “I’m Grant Loud from JEOPARDY! This is the call!”

“This is the call.” What an interesting choice of words. It was almost like he considered it a metaphysical calling. And maybe it was.

Grant explained that this would be a special series of programs filmed in Boston. They were taking only people who resided in the original 13 colonies for this week of programs. Would I be available on September 17 and 18? Yes! Would I be available for October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles? (If I had won the Friday game, I would need to continue in LA. I had to check. I was scheduled to be in a conference in San Diego sometime around then.) “Call me back in five minutes.”
OK, the conference was on October 6. I could fly to LA and have time to get to San Diego. OK, call me back, Grant.

And I waited. OK, it was only 22 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity before he called again. Grant and I talked about the logistics, how I would need to get myself to Boston on the 18th.

OK. I’m going to be on Jeopardy! I’M GOING TO BE ON JEOPARDY! I sat my desk, wanting just to savor the moment, absorb it, perhaps wallow in it a bit. This wallowing lasted perhaps four seconds.

“Well? Well?” hollers my colleague Anne, almost before she got to my office door. Undoubtedly, Jeanette had told her about the two calls. I told her the news. Rejoicing ensued.

Soon, I got in the mail a thick contact. (I’m sure I made a copy, but I can no longer find it.) It said stuff like they can use my likeness in their promotions, I can’t market the fact that I was on the show before it aired. I gave it to my friend Janna, who is a lawyer. She said it was standard release language.

I receive tickets for the show tapings. (I think I asked for three; I could have gotten six.)

I also got the JEOPARDY! Information Sheet that asked for five items that they would use for their “chat cards”. I wrote:
1. I own 1200 LPs, 1000 CDs, a few hundred cassettes, (but zero 8-tracks.) I had a 33 1/3 birthday party.
2. I introduced Rod Serling -almost. I met Earl Warren.
3. In our office, we used the JEOPARDY! calendar for team building. [I figured they might glom onto this one. They LOVE JEOPARDY!-related stories.]
4. I need to avoid mountains – I tore out my knee on one mountain and almost got blown off another.
5. The Heimlich maneuver works.

I return the form.

And now, I figure, I’ll just relax, study and wait.

But the next week, something happens quite distressing, which made relaxing nearly impossible.

Continued on Saturday, June 18.