Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2002

Black-eyed peas may mean fewer black eyes

January 3, 2002

In what my mother calls "a southern thing," I ate my fill of black-eyed peas New Year's Day. Laura serves the dish every Jan. 1 to assure good fortune in the year ahead. It is tradition she learned from her Texas grandparents.

My years have improved since I've been sharing the meal with Laura, so I eat the peas with relish.

In a workplace New Year's tradition, I broke my 2002 desk calendar out of its plastic shroud Monday. It gave me the excuse to clean everything off my desk to the point where I wiped down the surface.

Thursday I will start filling the new calendar's date boxes with deadlines and appointments, but it now sits on my desk free of coffee stains and idle doodles made during phone conversations. Like the year ahead, it is full of possibilities.

Newspaper columns I've recently read were more concerned about looking back than looking ahead.

Last week, syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman fessed up to calling a vaccine a cure rather than prevention and like discretions. Goodman, one of the best columnists now writing, could confine her errors to 15 paragraphs.

My editorial black eyes would make a richer source of column material. I remember the rebuke I received from above after I used stationary when I meant stationery. Some equally dumb mistakes fortunately didn't make it to print, but shared their obscurity with other memorable gaffs I heard but didn't report. I didn't quote the woman who said she was coupling with when she meant partnering, nor the official who worried about "setting a president."

Alternative media sources yearly select their top stories they accuse mainstream outlets of ignoring. While I don't have a list of under-reported stories, I was forced to leave out elements from stories because they didn't fit for one reason or another. This fall, I did a story on the De Soto USD 232's new science curriculum. I was following the sound-amplification experiment of five four-grade students from Woodsonia Elementary when another group presented their efforts, which they named Earator and the Ear Wax 2000. It was so clever I tried unsuccessfully to write it into the story.

At another elementary school for another story, I asked a first-grader if she had a home computer. With perfect innocence, she replied, "My mom's poor. We don't have anything." It would have illustrated the story, but I knew I had to omit the quote.

Another column I read last week amounted to nothing more than a long list of names as the writer thanked all who helped him over the past year. It may have been heartfelt, but I think only those named in the column bothered to read it.

At the risk of making the same mistake, I would like to thank De Soto City Clerk Lana McPherson for being my unofficial research assistant for De Soto names and places.

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