Monthly Archives: July 2008

Leveling college playing field

It seemed a bit ironic as I contemplated the existence of the content and the medium as I carried on an e-mail conversation with Martin Salazar, the former Optic reporter, now the education writer with the Albuquerque Journal.

People have been e-mailing one another for years, so that fact in itself isn’t unusual. The irony was that I was asking Salazar his opinion on an article he’d written this week on a topic I have trouble accepting: online college degrees.

Salazar’s front-page article is about two Albuquerque residents, Jenna Harper and Yvette Sanchez, who recently earned online bachelor’s degrees from Western New Mexico University without ever setting foot on the Silver City campus.

The irony is that I don’t fully accept the notion that degrees should be awarded that way, but as I was quizzing Salazar, he pointed out that at that moment, he was in a hospital waiting room in Albuquerque waiting for his father to be seen by a doctor. Continue reading

Laments about press remain the same

One of the justifications for terse writing is the supposed cost of space. An inch of space in the New York Times, for example, would cost a fortune.

So if the publishers of Gotham City’s leading newspaper can, they’ll sell the space for a premium price and try not to give too much of it away.

The notion of tight newspaper space came clear to me this week as I watched David Giuliani, the Optic’s managing editor, going through old files for his Back in Time feature that appears on Page 1 every day.

This month, Giuliani picked files from July 1942, about many people who have since passed on. Someone born in 1942 would be in the mid-60s. But more impressive are the appearance and the content of those old files.

The Optic looked like many other newspapers of that era, with screaming all-caps headlines in 2-inch type. A banner headline that read “FIVE SLAIN IN DRUNKEN BRAWL” invariably would carry a distant or even foreign dateline. Continue reading

Don’t flip off one’s flip phone

The second-silliest traffic arrangement in the Meadow City — second only to the welcome-but-stay-off-this-street messages on Seventh Street — is around the Old Town Plaza.

Let me explain:

There are five ways to enter the Plaza: from Bridge Street, North Gonzales, Hot Springs, West National and South Pacific. But in some cases, once you’re in that magic circle, you still need to yield to traffic coming from Hot Springs and from South Pacific.

The configuration — called a “circus” in other countries — is bad for traffic rounding the park and heading east, toward Bridge Street, or back around the park.

Most cumbersome is having to yield to traffic coming from South Pacific, in the area of Art and Stones. Why? Because the stretch is w-a-y too long, and by the time motorists yield for one car, there are more coming down the pike. Continue reading

Did anything work in olden days?

We were pulling out of the Lowe’s parking lot Wednesday, with two grandchildren, Arthur and Carly, in the back seat, when my wife reminded me to wait until they’d shut their doors before I drove off.

Point well taken. I’ve always been impatient once I get behind the wheel and people are still loading. Once, my wife says, when our own kids were the age our grandkids are today, I reacted to a slammed door and drove about a mile from where Bonnie had been loading watermelons and cantaloupes. I didn’t snap until Adam, our elder child, asked why I’d left Mom behind.

Over the years that story has been retold, with many details adjusted for inflation. So instead of having traveled a mile from the fruit stand without her, I supposedly forced her to walk five. Instead of a 14-pound watermelon, it grew to 328 pounds; instead of a comfortable 72 degrees outside, it became Phoenix-like; instead of a 10-minute delay, it grew to 40 days and 40 nights; and instead of comfortable walking shoes, Bonnie was wearing stilettos.

Except for the poetic license and the slight embellishment of the details, I plead guilty. I’m trying to learn that if a door closes in a car and I’m behind the wheel, the sound doesn’t necessarily mean all the passengers have entered and we’re ready to roll. Continue reading

Typewriter bell signalled coffee break

Lately, we’ve seen photos of gleeful students being awarded personal laptop computers: the reward for completing a course, program or workshop.

The prize, to be sure, is not really a freebie; students need to complete some course of study; nor is the windfall restricted to this area, as schools have for years lured students by offering them free computers.

Changes have taken place regarding the ages of the users. Remember when only Dad and Mom could use the behemoth Radio Shack TRS-80 computers of the past, and allowed Junior to touch it only under supervision? The mantra used to be, “Don’t touch it — you’ll break it!”

Our granddaughters come over often — surely it’s to visit their favorite paternal grandparents — but sometimes with the request to use a laptop to play games. Permission (usually) granted, much to their delectation.

Yes, things have changed. Continue reading