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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Lessons learned from spring break

By Jason Sanders

March 27, 2009 | Spring Break's been over for a week, but it's still on my mind, or at least on my hand. Why's that? Well, my hand's still suffering from my not-so-typical Spring Break. You see, there was no lounging by the pool this year. There were no fancy margaritas and there certainly wasn't a cruise. Well, I take that back. There was no cruise-liner but we did cruise—by bike. And after biking through 250 miles of California Bliss, my "lefty" is still recovering. It was all worth it, though, for the Pacific Coast Highway taught this inexperienced biker a few lessons.

Lesson #1: When the journey gets tough, look to the beauty in life to pull you through. This lesson barreled into my mind while cycling through the hills of Laguna Beach. It was the end of the day. I was trailing so far behind that the other bikers were out of sight, and just when I wanted to quit I looked to the ocean. The blood-orange sun was slowly falling into the sea. I got off my bike, took a moment to enjoy the sunset, and from there I found the inspiration to finish strong. The beauty pulled me through.

Lesson #2: Life's only painful for a bit, so just keep on trekking. I was reminded of this every single time I hopped back on that bicycle, to endure more of what bikers call "saddle soreness." No need to go into detail of exactly what area of my body was sore. You get the idea, but thank heaven that just after a few minutes of riding the pain would subside.

Lesson #3: Life's an adventure, enjoy it. Our trek was only five days, and like life it was too short. Luckily, we did our best to soak it all in. We explored new beach towns, made friends, stopped in at great cafés and slept under the stars. Oh we had our troubles, too—bike failures, gigantic hills, and accidents—but we laughed through them and it made all the difference.

And if you're wondering about my left hand, for some unknown reason, it's been a bit tingly, almost asleep, since the trip. However, that's OK with me, because it's a unique souvenir to a unique Spring Break.


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