Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I don't read newspapers nearly enough. Used to read them everyday before I got an iPhone and hooked up to Twitter. Maybe not intellectually sound, but I use Twitter as my main source of news because its all the news that fits my agenda, whatever that may be (follow me and find out!).

I haven't really missed reading a newspaper but I'll give Chicago its due: two great papers, two awesome perspectives. I'll go on record and claim the Sun-Times as my favorite because of the caliber of its columnists.

The Tribune simply doesn't have that columnist cache (but, wow, that delicious 'frat boy' mentality that blankets an oh-so serious rag - ha ha, I was once accused of having 'pedestrian' tastes when an acquaintance caught me buying the Sun-Times at a local White Hen - just as the clerk was slipping it into a brown paper bag. I confirmed his belief when I said I could barely read above the third grade level and the Sun-Times was my "Dick and Jane" primer. His look was one of pity - no sense of humor, those Trib snobs).

Anyway, I read the papers mostly on days off - mainly the Sunday papers or an occasional holiday. Since I'm no longer an avid newspaper reader and since Twitter is based on (conceptually) headline writing (maximum 140 characters, you know the score), I've recently found that I love the wordsmithing of headlines and see them as a literary form (serious or campy) that have purpose.

The Sun-Times on this Wednesday, November 21, had some nice turns of phrase:
  • 'Game-changer' from Vatican on condoms
  • Man's body found in recycling bin
  • Suburban orthodontist charged with fondling teen
  • Sheen's $3,500 date doomed from the start (actually a Richard Roeper column)
  • Dog-dropping charges against woman dropped
  • 'That guy who is in charge is crazy': local Korean
  • Grey powers through pain for the win
  • Athletes' jersey numbers used as code for drug amounts
  • Found bone not Natalee Holloway's
  • In Four Loko ban, logic is left behind
These headlines flow with a sort of poetic timbre, roll easily off the tongue and - surprise - do their jobs. They make you want to read every one of the stories below them.

But I love these headlines, the Sun-Times vs. the Tribune, over (basically) the same story:
  • Sun-Times: Gov, Brady chew the fat at 'corned beef summit'
  • Tribune: With election decided, a delicatessen detente
Now, be honest, which story would you rather read?

I can tell what kind of person you are by your answer.

Monday, November 22, 2010


"Bucket List" is a term copped from a really bad film released in 2007 that starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The term means doing all the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket." Its a glorified wish list that's designed to: 1) inspire you to live a more fulfilling life or 2) make you feel completely inadequate. I lean towards number two.

I was at a lunch when somebody asked everybody at the table to share one thing on their "bucket list." I cringed inside and hoped they wouldn't get to me...

Most everybody had some pretty simple wishes - visit all the baseball parks in the U.S., go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, jump out of a plane, etc. When I heard these, I realized that I didn't have a "bucket list" at all - nothing grand or extravagant. I was embarrassed by my lack of wishes.

It seems to me that people who spout their "bucket list" wishes are doing a kind of intellectual showing off, trying to one-up their peers by the outrageousness of their lists. As if a crazy "bucket list" indicates some kind of creative superiority over everybody else.

They got to me and I flat out said I don't have a "bucket list." People feigned shock at my lack of response. But I couldn't just make something up - that wouldn't be true.

In the weeks since that lunch, I gave "bucket listing" a long hard think. And I came up with one bucket item.

And that's to stop going to lunches where people insist on sharing their "bucket lists."

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I was out from Saturday through Wednesday last week with one of the worst bouts of flu I've ever experienced. Things got worse when it devolved into a major sinus/bronchial infection that now requires fist-sized antibiotic pills that I'll be on for two weeks. I was nearly comatose when I saw my doctor who readily wrote out the prescription when she laid eyes on me in my state of fever-induced delirium. She's not the type of doc who does this easily and needs deep reasoning for doling out drugs - and for this I'm grateful. The medicine kicked in quickly and I'm feeling quite normal now.

But I missed three days of work due to this illness - something that doesn't happen to me often. In fact, the most I've ever called in sick is once in the past six years. I don't ever use sick days to "play hookey." People who do that make me crazy.

I'm lucky. At my place of employment we get 15 days of vacation per year. We also get - I think - 8 sick/personal days (I think, because I don't use them) per year. That equals up to 23 days off. But for me, 15 vacation days are plenty and I usually don't burn all of them in a year. I tend to piggy back vacation days with holidays - time around the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Year. I'm not being holier than thou here, its just my nature and I'm certainly not "kissing up" to the corporate machine.

Sick days are insurance. Use them up for personal pleasure and things can get haywire when you really do come down with something significant. Using sick days to play hookey will bite you back and hard. Now you're left having to force yourself into work when you really are sick (and, trust me, you will be and you will need sick days), selfishly spreading your germs to co-workers because you wanted your day in the sun.

Now I know there are times when you absolutely need to go into work when you're too sick to think. But when I see somebody suffering illness at work frequently, I have to wonder how many days they spent doing that "hookey" thing.