Waiting to cross the deadly intersection at Markham and Clinton Avenue minutes before starting time at the office, we were reminded once again of the terminal senselessness drivers often employ, especially during morning and evening rush hours. Factor slick roads and light fog into the equation and the plot thickens. Foxy brunette in a foxy brunette Maxima turns right onto Clinton Ave., staring at her right hand, which clutched her mobile phone like a vice, while her left hand turned the wheel from six o'clock to twelve o'clock — long after the pedestrian signal went into effect. Inches from being fender-jammed at the knees and damning her opposable thumb far south of heaven, we revisited in our mind the countless tragic scenarios that result from such brainless vehicle operation day in and day out, the world over. Marching onward, The Observer trudged through the raindrops and into a local diner to order some starter fuel before the morning shift and immediately noticed the lone patron, sports page opened on his lap, watching the morning news broadcast and maneuvering the required control panels necessary to deliver nourishment into his wheelchair-confined being. Attempting to rid the aftershocks of our own close call at the intersection, not to mention trying to regain the ravenous morning appetite that had immediately vanished, we couldn't help but give a nod of universal gratitude, as our own next visit to the greasy spoon could very well have been made in a similar wheelchair.
Observer's To Do List,
Empty rain gauge.
Empty rain gauge.
Empty rain gauge.
Search web for “Cubit-to-Foot Measurement Converter.”
Back in the office over the rainy weekend, to participate in the Boy Scouts' Merit Badge University. All over town, scouts were learning what they needed to know to get merit badges in various subjects. The Observer had been designated a Journalism Counselor. Why on earth they decided to seek the wisdom of The Observer — who couldn't tell you what a predicate is if you waterboarded us to death — may never be known.
We spent a good chunk of Friday getting ready for our scouts to descend on the Arkansas Times. By Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., when our charges were scheduled to arrive, we had all the booze bottles hid, had wiped the salty language and booby pictures from the dry erase board, and cobbled together a fairly good selection of photocopied handouts if we do say so ourselves. The gamut of journalism was represented: everything from man-bites-dog hard news stories from the daily paper, to fluffy features, to investigative journalism that would make Richard Nixon rise from the grave and cuss.
Ensconced like a bigshot in Max's chair at the front of the newsroom, The Observer waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, a lone scout, age 12, wandered in. At that point, it was clear that even the pre-teen set had got the news about the future of print journalism, and would rather learn about something more useful in the modern world, like white oak basket making.
Nevertheless, we soon got down to business and set to fulfilling his requirements for the badge. Discuss the First Amendment? Check. Discuss the good ol' five W's and H? Check-O. Discuss why the freedom of the press is essential for a healthy democracy? Yeah.
The Observer expected our scout to go catatonic after awhile — such is the awesome power of our charisma and oratory skill — but he was a credit to his creed, asking all the right questions and giving all the right answers. We felt sure that little old ladies for blocks around would be safe crossing the street with him in the neighborhood (except, maybe, at Markham and Clinton).
After about an hour of Q&A, review of examples and a final demonstration of his burgeoning journalistic prowess — using a Health Department news release and one of our computers, he wrote a short brief on the appearance of Swine Flu in Pulaski County, which must have made for some fun discussion with Mom and Dad on the way home — The Observer sent our new friend out into the world to gather his badge. Godspeed, young scout. Someday, we hope to see your byline.