Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Wichita Eagle lead on Gracia Burnham, published May 11:

The simplest things whisk Gracia Burnham back to the jungle. Most recently , it was picking up her daughter Mindy's backpack. She felt the weight on her shoulder and, suddenly, she was back - back in the humidity, lugging her backpack up a mountain, her armed captors ordering "Faster! . . . Faster!"

Just as quickly, she comes home.

"I told myself, 'You don't have to carry this up a mountain, you have to carry it to the car' " Gracia says. "Bad things can happen here during the day, but I'm just so happy because I'm not back there."

It's been almost a year since she was rescued from 376 days of cruelty at the hands of terrorists linked to al-Qaida.

LA Times lead, which moved on the wires May 27:

Gracia Burnham picked up her daughter's backpack and slung it across her shoulder. The memory hit with such force it knocked her back — back a year, back to the jungle.

For a moment, she was again a hostage, marching at gunpoint up a mountain — filthy, famished, hauling uncooked rice in an old green pack. The flashback dissolved. She was again in Kansas. She continued walking toward her minivan.

Gracia Burnham does not let her memories haunt her. But she cannot erase that year of terror.

For 376 days, she and her husband, Martin, were held hostage by Muslim militants in the wilds of the Philippines.

Interesting way to start a story. Was the lead stolen? Who knows? It could just be that Gracia Burnham recylces her anecdotes too much.

Friday, May 09, 2003

American Brandstand update on brand mentions in rap songs:

1. Mercedes 45
2. Cristal 33
3. Lexus 31
4. Timberland 22
5. Nike 21
6. Burberry 20
6. Bacardi 20
6. Puma 20
9. Navigator 16
10. Gucci 15

I find it hard to believe that the Ford Contour is not in the Top 10. (Sorry, Glitter N. You're still bling to me.)

Trying to make my profession seem worthwhile, I'm collecting bad headlines found while surfing the Web tonight:

Okla. cleans up from tornado, floods in Tennessee (So nice of Okla. to go so far)
MPs and senators gagged on Hollingworth (He tastes that icky)
Siebel Says Gets Inquiry From SEC (Huh?)
Shades Of Green (If they're going for intriguingly vague, they failed to be intriguing)
SARS-Affected Stocks Could Recover (Or they could get worse; the jury's out)
Heidi Takes A Hit (OK if she's a toker; not OK if she's a Survivor reject)
arthed, any size: The SARS challenge /or/ Keen on a SARS (Woops)

My tolerance test results on

Sexual orientation bias: slight automatic preference for Gay people

Gender bias: strong automatic association between male and science

Could this be the longest palindrome ever?

It starts with "Star? Not I! Movie – it too has a star in or a cameo who wore mask – cast are livewires."
It ends with "Same row, oh woe! Macaroni, rats, as a hoot, tie. I vomit on rats."

In between? Thousands upon thousands of words.

Looks as if "She's a Flight Risk" is the hottest blog in the community now. After a Wired news article, everyone's buzzing about whether it's real or not.

It's about a pampered European heiress who flees with her trust fund cash after her Godfather-like dad arranges a marriage for her. Now she's on the lam -- a rogue blogger.

I read some of it and find it semi-fascinating -- a good read and interesting to think about, but sometimes a little long in the tooth for fiction. Certainly excusable if it's fact, though. I do agree that it's a brilliant ploy if it's simply a hoax by an aspiring author to get a book deal. I'd even think it's cool as an unorthodox advertising campaign to build buzz about a movie, like the A.I. Web game. That was brilliant.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

When I read this story about a month ago, I realized that the Federal Trade Commission had a spam database that people could forward their spam to. The FTC gets about 120,000 e-mails a day, and I decided I should pitch in, too. I started forwarding my spam to two weeks ago. Since then I have forwarded 249 pieces of spam I've received at work, which averages out to be more than 19 e-mails a day.

Salam Pax is back.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

The importance of copy editors

Doing a little research today, I found this passage: "Because Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not participate in this idolatry the King had them cast into a fiery furnace but they were miraculously de-livered."

Delivered and de-livered have two entirely different meanings -- a distinction important in this context.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

This is the story I needed to cheer me up today:

Sav-A-Center cashier and crime victim Gennifer Robinson knew her customer was trying to cash a forged check. Robinson immediately recognized the distinctive Looney Tunes background from her own checkbook, which had been stolen from her car along with her purse five days earlier. On top of that: "She handed me my own driver's license," says Robinson. (New Orleans Times-Picayune via Romenesko)

God, I feel like I need to get out of this town. I'm tired of my landlord, I'm tired of my job, I'm tired of the view.

I feel like climbing mountains and taking pictures and shopping in kitschy stores. I want to drive for days to nowhere and put my bare feet on the dash and get a driver's tan. I want to sleep in tents and eat in foreign restaurants and hike to waterfalls.

I don't want to have to argue that actual news belongs in headlines. I don't want to explain to anyone why "relatives" might be better to use than "family members" or "loved ones." And I might scream if I have to attend one more "we don't think we'll be laying off" meeting.

It's unclear what's causing this malaise. I have watched some anti-establishment movies lately ("Igby Goes Down," "The Graduate," "Secretary," and "Confidence" come to mind). But that's par for the course.

These same feelings cropped up about two years ago. I decided then that I probably needed a hobby -- something to spend time on besides work. I think that's the case now, too, but I don't want to start something too big (like taking a class, for example). I could get a call from Philly and have a chance to be gone within a month. But I don't know what to do, what to throw my energy into. Pottery? Photography? Gardening? Crocheting? Yawn. I don't think that's the challenge I need.