Happy birthday to my mom…

On a snowy, cold day like this, Betty Fish would’ve been sitting on the marble slab atop the radiator in our ancient house in Collins, Iowa, reading a book, looking out the window, keeping her butt warm!

And i guess not a lot else would have happened. i don’t recall ever making a huge fuss about her birthday, turning 40 (i’d have been 5) or 50 (me, 15). Today, she’d be 86 (me, 51, tho that’ll change in a couple of months). If you’re reading this, take note that i was my mom’s oldest of three children. Back in the day.

Betty Fish was a stitch. She had great sayings for her kids. “Kiss my feet” was an all-around slam. “People in jail are wantin’ out” was the response to “i want….”. 

She was the only one of four children in her Gordonsville, Tenn., family to graduate from high school, then she went to Nashville to attend business school. She was working as a keypunch operator at General Shoe Co. when she met my dad and eventually married him. i was born, someone had to go to work, so they moved back to my dad’s family farm in Iowa. It was colder there, for sure.

Mom was a great reader, a liberal in the Al Gore mold (his family is from the same county she’s from) and a feminist, encouraging me to work and get a career. i know from the clothes she kept and the pictures i’ve seen that she always looked lovely and dressed wonderfully in her working days. 

i owe my mother more than i can say here. i know i disappointed her in some ways, marrying at 20 (tho she later saw the good in this), dressing like a slob most of the time. But i think she liked following my journalism career and adventures (except for maybe the motorcycles). 

Mom died too young, at 73, in 1997, of cancer. Every day, i wish she were still here.

Latest knitting achievement!

It’s cold in my basement! Especially when typing! So i made these fingerless gloves! Very easy, free pattern. i didn’t use the two yarns mentioned in the pattern, instead used beautifully soft Suri Merino alpaca blend from Plymouth Yarn. (And i gotta get that scary polish of my fingers!)

Tablets, e-readers and content, oh my!

This should be a big week (and maybe month) for new reading/watching technology.

At least two new e-readers will be announced to compete with Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Sony’s Reader at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

Plastic Logic is introducing the long-awaited Que. The Skiff will be sold (and wired) by Sprint with content cooperation from Hearst Corp. Both are billed as larger and sleeker than the other e-readers, with touchscreens.

Meanwhile, Apple plans an announcement later this month that many believe will be a new tablet computer that will include a touchscreen and video. As David Carr mentions in his New York Times column today, Microsoft and HTC also appear to be developing tablets. But Freescale apparently will get there first this week with its $200 tablet device.

Ironically, back in the early and mid-90s, the late newspaper company Knight-Ridder funded a Boulder laboratory that predicted the tablet and its use for news (check out the vid above! priceless!). The technology just wasn’t there at the time.

Now, the technology is beyond what Knight-Ridder imagined – millions interact with friends known and unknown via facebook, twitter, etc. We post and view videos on everything from guitar instruction to humor on youtube. The ability of consumers to create their own product now competes with newsrooms, which once experienced a bit of a content monopoly. The music moguls, too, suffered when Apple’s iPod and iTunes took over.

David Bennahum tweeted yesterday that the new technology may threaten television most of all. He makes a great point, as does Bono in his Sunday Times op-ed, where he questions whether consumers will be willing to continue paying for video content as it becomes more easily downloadable.

Meanwhile, advertising remains a question in the world of media. Warren Berger posits that the era of advertising is ending in his great book on design, Glimmer. Instead, businesses are looking for ways to interact with consumers, instead of simply broadcast one-way messages to them.

What does all this mean for content and content producers? 

One of my questions as a journalist and one interesting in politics is this: Who will provide content that brings community together instead of polarizing different sides, that answers difficult, complex questions, that points out potentially unpopular concepts/ideas? 

Other questions: Are consumers willing to settle for mediocre content as long as it’s free? Will creators be willing to produce quality content for free or for goodwill offerings?

As always, i don’t have answers. Just questions i’m mulling.

About that sprawl…

My grandmother liked to recall that when she and my grandfather bought this house, it was on the north edge of Tucson with a view of the Catalina Mountains. But unlike Boulder, which adopted a “blue line” in 1959 to prevent development in the foothills, Tucson and Pima County have allowed plenty of development at the base of the Catalinas and in other mountain areas.
Still, this neighborhood is close-in these days. The University of Arizona Medical Center is just a block away (my grandparents liked to eat in the cafeteria!), and the rest of the city stretches out every which way. (i remember sleeping in the front room, behind the car, with the window open one autumn and hearing the sounds of the Wildcats playing football.)
It’s cool to see their home, sold in 1996 (i think) after my grandmother died. The fence in front is new – my grandfather had a Midwestern-type hedge out front that one of his neighbors mocked, i believe. Despite the fence, i took a little not-great picture over it:

A toast to Aunt Anne…

from the Arizona Inn. She knit the teal, chenille jacket i’m wearing here for my mother, maybe 40 years ago. It’s still lovely.
And without her, we likely wouldn’t be in Tucson. My grandparents bought a house here in the ’40s (yes, the 20th century!) because she was getting her master’s degree in math at Arizona. From the late ’80s to mid ’90s, we visited here for Christmas with the extended Fish-Charlier family.
When i talked with her today, Anne said she’d still love to stay at the Arizona Inn, which is a few blocks east of the family home. We had dinner in the lounge there. And earlier today, hiked partway up Ventana Canyon. There, a man can find his cactus. Is it more prickly than others?

Today in the desert…

OK, unlike my girlfriend, Sexy Mary from Florida, i am not riding my bike 100 miles a day for seven days straight.
Instead, we hiked to Bridal Wreath Falls in Saguaro National Park, the east side. It’s about 5.5 miles (depending on who’s counting) and maybe 1,100 feet of vertical (see prev parens).
Continue to mull the decade thing. Ten years ago, i didn’t contemplate mortality. But a close friend, barely 30, died in 2001. Many friends (oh, and i) had cancer. Family grew older (oh, me too!).
Will i be here in another 10? If not, i plan to have a good time before then.
And really, they should have put more hot fudge on this ice cream that i ordered!!
Oh, then there’s sunset from last year:

A whole new decade?!?

OK, technically, maybe not… but it’s good enough for me.
On this evening in 1999, i was stuck in the Daily Camera newsroom waiting for the end of the world or some such. Six years ago, i was about Boulder Community Hospital, watching college football with Dixie-cup covered needles through my boobs, waiting for what turned out to be the first of my cancer surgeries. (Yes, there were more… but i recommend lumpectomy on a good sports day if that’s what you like to watch on the TV.)
This weekend, we’re in Tucson. We love the desert. We realized flying in (bumped to first class, thanks United!) that we hadn’t been here together since the early ’90s, when my family used to come for Christmas to visit my grandmother.
Soon, we’ll go for a hike to watch the blue moon rise, then come back, shower and go for dinner. We’re fortunate to be here and to have the means to do such lovely things. i feel a little guilty about that.
Like many, i’m looking forward to putting parts of the past 10 years behind us, especially the cancer part. Other, more global things – war, contentious elections, economic disparities – are not so easily dispensed with.
So for 2010 and the decade to come, i’m thankful for my good family, my good friends and my good fortune. And i hope to do more to make sure the disparities between those of us who have such things and those of us who don’t become far narrower in the next decade.
Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!

Martha Stewart is trying to kill us all!

And, by extension, i tried to kill my graduate students and myself at a Thursday night party. 

That bowl in the middle is this squash dip that i loved when i visited a friend’s knitting night last month. So i thought i’d make it and test it out on the 17 students in my fall newsgathering class. i laughed when my friend sent me the Martha Stewart link

It was the first time i’d ever cooked squash (go ahead, laugh), and that seems healthy enough. The chipotle chilis add a great kick. But then there’s the 10 tablespoons of butter, the 8 ounces of cream cheese, the 2 cups of sour cream (i only used 1 cup and it was lite). This isn’t the first time i’ve cooked with Martha – her mac and cheese is also great tasting, but potentially heart stopping.

That morning’s New York Times inspired my other new party dish (past students know i always test out a couple of new things on them):  Chex Mix, the new contest winning Buffalo mix to be specific. This was not the greatest success, but it was OK. Guess i need more Chex Mix practice, and that’s entirely possible since i have all these leftover ingredients.

There was some healthy food: Indian peanut butter dip and salmon mousse from a Jane Brody book. Plenty of veggies (they ate them all!). The prosciutto rolls in the foreground, well, maybe not so healthy. There’s also chocolate fudge (with marshmallows adding to the richness) and chocolate truffle cookies – and strawberries!

And i’m still munching on that leftover squash dip. The recipe makes way too much.

Text-messaging word cloud…

So i thought i would quantify the text messaging during a week of vacation with a particular nephew. As you can see, there’s a theme here. i used Wordle, and the asparagus color theme seemed apropos (tho i can never get these kids to actually eat asparagus, even tho i emphasize the green pee). i find this hilarious. Keep in mind, half these texts are from me to him.

Fashion backward….

It’s cold here.

And yesterday, a young student (OK, they’re all young!!) mentioned that her winter clothes are all in storage and the only jacket she had was a jeans jacket. She’d gotten it out to wear to an ’80s party.

Meanwhile, i too am wearing a jeans jacket. From the ’80s. Started out with a button that read, “Thought i’d be dead by the time i was 30, but things didn’t work out.” Lost that one and replaced it with “Middle-Aged and Proud of it.”

Probably should replace that one at this point. Thinking something like “Grannies for Health Care Reform!”