A trying Facebook day: Have we taken leave of our senses?

Has the world always been, largely, certifiably mad (as in insane) or is it just that Facebook has made us look that way?

I actually posted a nice note to my FB friends yesterday about how amazing a tool it is, by and large, to keep in touch with friends old and new.

Then, as if to smite me, we had a really bad crash in Redmond – and a few dozen of the folks who passed by and took photos of the pretty dramatic if not horrific (OK, the victims were gone by then) scene shared the photos, in public, within minutes, on our Facebook page – long before any family members were notified, much less identified to the public.

What were they thinking? Or not thinking?

I posted a fervent plea of “please don’t do this,” which at least sighting had over 500 likes. But while that’s something that can be appreciated and humbling, I’m not “like”-fishing – I’d rather not have something to prompt such a finger-wagging post, “liked” or not!

When folks have said over the years that our Website’s comments would be more civil if we required real names, not screen names, I automatically reply: “Have you seen what people post to Facebook with their real names attached?”

Then, in a 1-2 punch of “fun,” I post a rewrite of a news release on a Crook County crash of an ATV and SUV on a forest road that thankfully did not lead to any deaths, but involved two juveniles, so the sheriff’s office did not identify them, only the SUV driver.

Well, within an hour or less, that posting turned into what I call “trial by Facebook,” led by one of the ATV riders who made some serious allegations about the driver — who, deputies said, was not cited. (There were some, well, holes in the news release, which I have inquired in hopes of filling, but it seemed to be enough to get it out there.)

So again, I had to go in — if only over my extreme fear of litigation and related headaches — and remove dozens of back and forth comments over who what when where why that went way beyond what the sheriff’s office released.

Some consultants have told me/us, “don’t worry – it’s only Facebook.” Heck, there was a ruling last week that again absolved folks who oversee Facebook pages of some legal risk based on what folks say on them.

But we have Terms of Service for the comments on our Website – ones I get to make sometimes-tough judgment calls on 100s of times a week – and I really do try to hold to the same TOS on our Facebook page, when I can, however I can.

It feels at times like a lost, hopeless cause – that today, with everyone having the ability to say whatever they want, wherever they want, that “censorship gene” of civility, sensitivity, decorum, taste and all those old fuddy-duddy old-fashioned words that most of us used to abide by has just gone out the flippin’ window entirely – young or old, rich or poor, male or female, we just let it all fly, and if the folks reading it don’t like it, that’s their own tough luck!

It’s not just about fear of lawsuits – although there’s that. It’s a gnawing feeling that for the vast majority of us, we either engage in reckless word-tossing without fear or thought of consequences, or we silently endorse it by not objecting to it.

I’ve joked, sort of, before about wanting to create a “Nicebook,” where folks basically are told: Be civil, or be gone. Why this is necessary becomes more evident with each skirmish I find myself in, as I try to refereee the un-refereeable.

Am I making too much of this? Perhaps. But the old adage “think before you speak” seems to be going the way of the buggy whip and hoop skirt. And you don’t have to be a kumbaya Pollyanna to lament it, and fear where it’s all going to take us.

(Postscript: I am unhiding the photos of the crash on Facebook and using them on the story now, hours later, because police have released details and plan to use one of their own. Also, all the photos shared I’ve seen were after the car’s occupants were removed.

Like this one – by Edna Ibarra – note the officer in vest, the paint markings by the wheels; clearly some time had passed.)

Hwy 97 crash Edna Ibarra web 67

Novelty songs and variations of such

Years ago, I loved when morning rush hour radio shows – usually called the “Morning Zoo” – did novelty songs, usually about current events and people in the news, sometimes which even turned into actual records. I may still have a few 45s (remember those?) stuck away.

There was one about the Rajneeshees’ main spokeswoman, a shrill lady named Ma Anand Sheela, and she inspired “Shut Up Sheela” (to the tune of Tommy Roe’s “Sheila.”)

There was also one I memorized called “We Want Lava” that came out after Mt. St. Helens started to rumble but before the big May 1980 eruption (had quite the festive, jazzy melody – but be glad I’m not singing it for you;-)

We want lava, we want lava
Is that too much to ask?
What kind of volcano only burps up gas?

You know we’re not asking for Krakatoa
Even thought it would be nice
What kind of volcano
Throws up five-foot blocks of ice?


So I like to do the same thing some time. And one came to mind this afternoon, after the Belmont Stakes brought the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. So here’s a smidge, feel free to continue it if you know the tune;-)

(To the tune of ‘American Woman’ by Guess Who)

American Pharoah
Won the Triple Crown
American Pharoah
Never let me down

Don’t go thinking he’s got no class
Or that your horse is gonna pass
He’s got more important things to do
Than hang way back in the pack with you

Now Pharoah, what a mighty steed
American Pharoah, got it yes indeed

(And I also recently thought of one about an event many look back on and lament in Bend’s history about 15 years ago, the demolition of the Brooks-Scanlon Crane Shed – I was there, and was covering all the soap-opera drama as the owners tried to get the county planners to let them do what they wanted.)

(To the tune of ‘The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down,’ by Joan Baez)

The night they tore the Crane Shed down
And all the people were cringin’
The night they tore the Crane Shed down
And many hands were wringin’,
They said

No, no no no, no!
No no no no, no no no no…


Oh and then there’s some old stand-up comedian who used to take parts of well-known songs over the years and give them a twist, and a punch line.


Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
(Get it? They are very hot, so if you put it in your pocket, well, aaaahhhh!;-)

Or (imagine the guy marching)
76 trombones led the big parade
There was nobody else…

(March a few more steps in silence to get the point across)


Let a smile be your umbrella
And you’re bound to get all wet


I’m looking over, a four-leaf clover
Because they are so darn small!

Okay, this has descended into juvenile.. okay, maybe it’s all juvenile.

We all have our coping mechanisms, right?;-)

No special hotline: a guide to finding out what’s up

I do all I can to clear up misconceptions among folks about what we do in the media – be they grand or simple.

One thing I think many presume/assume is that if we hear something wild on scanner or are made aware of police converging on some spot or another, that we have some special hotline to gather the details.

Granted, there are some agencies with public information officers, but not all — and they aren’t always on duty, and they don’t always know what’s going on, either.

So we do have the non-emergency dispatch numbers for each county – in Deschutes, that’s 541-693-6911 (then hit 5).

Sure, you can drop us a note on Facebook or at stories@ktvz.com – but at 3 a.m., for example, that’s not going to bring a rapid-fire response.

Listening to a scanner all day, we can hear folks who call 911 for the most inane reasons — kids being rude, etc.

And I’m sure many contact us instead of them because they don’t want to bother busy dispatchers or misuse 911.

But what I tell people is, 9 times out of 10, what they tell you on the phone if you call the non-emergency number is what they’ll tell us — and it also eliminates the middle-man and speeds things up, to your benefit — and sometimes ours, too..

Because then, if you learn what’s going on is important — you can tell us and make sure we know! We appreciate that!

Yes, some times when it’s busy, the 911 folks will put you on hold for emergency calls. You’d want and expect that.

And also, some times they won’t tell you or us what’s going on, for tactical, confidentiality or other reasons. But we have no special hotline, no special “in” with police to learn what they can share.

And to learn something was “just” a medical call (not that that’s not sad for whoever’s involved) can let you go back to sleep without worry.

Want us to check on it? Great, no problem. But just wanted to make sure you knew there’s another way.

Of Quark, Trello and the Endless Sea of Things

Some times, when you’re grocery shopping, you try something new simply because they are out of the familiar.

Like it or not.

So since the shelves at Safeway were laid bare of most Dannon Light and Fit Greek yogurt flavors, I grabbed a hodgepodge of interesting options – like so many things lately (1,000s of cat good varieties! Etc.) – you could probably live most of your life without trying the same thing twice.

One I tried today wasn’t even a yogurt at all, but something different — elli Quark, “a spoonable fresh cheese with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt but with a richer, less sour taste.” It’s pretty good!

But stumbling upon it reminded me of a couple things. (Well, three things – one is Quark XPress, a desktop publishing program of 20 years ago. But I digress, as usual.)

One is Trello – an interesting, visual project or process manager – life organizer – that our company is trying out. Like so many such systems, it looks promising – and simple, and powerful and flexible — and free. Nice! But not perfect – what is? Still, there’s a lot of potential to help organize both work and personal life – if one invests the time in learning it. Some times I think you have to learn all the bells and whistles to use something like this, when I should know better – that to ease in gracefully has its strengths.

But again, I’d never heard of it until one of our group’s other TV stations started using it.

And that reminded me of how we have these new, amazing powerful tools at our disposal – I’m reminded of that often – and yet we far too often still can’t seem to find the things we’re looking for.

Way back before Google and its ilk took firm root, but after the world began to go online, I said that online world seemed like “the world’s greatest library — with all the books on the floor.” More and more great things were out there, but how to find what you’re looking for? Now, of course, search is not only incredibly handy, but becoming ubiquitous – if you know what to ask and if the search engine really does know everything going on and can find that needle in the proverbial haystack. Two very, very, very big ifs. At times, though, it seems like all those books are back on the floor, and Google (or Bing or…?) feel as limiting in their own ways as the old Dewey Decimal System – again, it’s all there, but finding it is the challenge.

On a related note, I have decided to take a half-written book, “The Now Edition,” and probably create a Website instead – as a reporter, I value immediate distribution and feedback on my ideas, and the interaction that goes along with it. This one is full of interesting elements in my humble opinion (subtitle gives a clue: “The Social Future of Writing, Reading, Content and Conversation.”)

I’m writing this set of ideas and visions because the tool I wish existed doesn’t – it’s not a blog, but a dream of a platform to share, collaborate upon and discuss long-form content on a topic of interest or passion, one that’s as easy to use as a word processor and easy to lay out and … well, I’ll get into it more there. I imagine subscribing to topic communities, with a lot of content that fuses/mashes up the long-standing today-news of journalism and the history of other forms of literature.

I mean, why should I get an electronic version of a 3-year-old book, or a magazine that isn’t wedded to its Website/app for a seamless reading experience? I don’t want to buy a book, I want to subscribe to it – or better yet, to a community built around that book-like content. They could be a collaborative process, or just to interact with the author(s), who can wed the latest news on Topic A with the rich history on that topic that they have written about. A true e-book, not a replica of a dead-trees book from 2, 4 or more years ago.

But again, I wonder, does such a platform/program already exist out there, and perhaps my many various searches just haven’t turned it up? I have indeed found many bits and pieces, but nothing that really connects the dots as I envision. Perhaps if I write up my vision in enough detail, I’ll learn someone else is thinking like me – or it will inspire others to go in that direction.

So all that musing brings me to one of the newer buzzword trends, the Internet of Things – where everything will be wired and aware and connected, not only making everything “smart,” but also creating an even huger (not a word, I know;-) sea of data and answers and info that one must wade through to find the answer or thing you’re looking for.

Add in the needed security elements – a scary 60 Minutes piece tonight about how a hacker could take over the controls of your car! — and we could have lots more scary things to worry about than whether the Google Self-Driving Car will know to parallel park or take that left turn at Albuquerque (as Bugs Bunny does;-)

But just maybe, the supermarket shelves will get smart enough that they won’t run out of what you’re looking for. Not that I mind trying new things like elli Quark, but we all like to be creatures of habit about some things, like our morning yogurt, right?

If “the Internet is Not the Answer,” what was the question?

A new provocative book entitled “The Internet is NOT the Answer” is generating a lot of discussion before it comes out, thanks to articles like this.

And as always, the comments are as interesting and enlightening as the article itself. (Score one for the Internet! Heh.)

One of the sayings I say so often I’m a broken record: Every tool is a weapon, every weapon is a tool.

If the book title had been posed as a question, I’d be asking: Is it the right question? As it is, the thought that any one human trend, development or area is “the answer” to anything is specious at best.

There have been several authors – I once saw Clifford Stoll speak at Tektronix, over 20 years ago – who over the years have bemoaned what our lives lived largely online now have wrought – and how far from the noble goals they have strayed.

But noble goals always run headlong into the reality of fallible, often rude, nasty or worse humans. Not that robots would be any better.

Of course the media, the government and businesses large and small have “embraced” the Internet (like they had much of a choice) – and in doing so dealt it something of a “death grip” in some people’s eyes.

But with all its faults, weakness and impact on everything from the family staring at screens rather than talking to school plays that are now a sea of smartphones and tablets recording (rather than people actually just watching their kids perform) – is this a genie we’d really want put back in the bottle – even if we could?

Perhaps the “mindfulness” movement highlighted Sunday night on 60 Minutes is more the bit of an antidote, from the legacy of the ’60s book with the deceptively simple name: “Be Here Now.”

Our connected tools should free us to get more done in less time – then to turn away from them to be with our children and friends and family, or other pursuits that still involve the mind, the hands and no screens in site.

But is that wishful thinking? Are we being consumed by our technology, so dependent that the fears of cyber-war becoming more than an inconvenience or embarrassment to — well, the possibilities are endless.

We should critically review and be … mindful of the impact of any technology, good or bad. But be cautious about giving this huge, world-altering development too much blame or credit for its impact on our lives. Right?

New journalism or old, ethical quandaries get no easier

For all the changes in journalism – and all the white-hot focus the social media world puts on our work (and everyone else’s) – some things are just as tough to decide now as they were in the days of grizzled editors with green eyeshades and a trusty red pencil to scratch your story into a proofread, marked-up puzzle.

Prime example: Late last night, after we posted a story with the names of those involved in an awful crash, someone posted a comment that linked to our story from six months ago about the arrest of one victim.

Do you add that to the crash story or not?

I did, in the last paragraph, without any new attention drawn to it via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

A firestorm erupted (so easy to do now with anything one does online) – how dare we, what does it have to do with the crash etc.

So I removed it. And all the comments, 99 pct. criticizing us for doing that.

It’s never an easy call. Do we have the right to report the background? Of course. But is it right? I honestly don’t know.

The call, either way, leaves me frustrated. You don’t want to let the “mob/horde” dictate judgment calls, but even a mob can have a point worth considering. Such as: the seeming hypocrisy of putting such info in a story in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy when at the same time I/we constantly plead for folks to have sensitivity to family and friends when posting comments on tragic news items.

We have no idea if the victim’s alleged crimes 6 months ago are germane to the fatal crash. That could come weeks, even months down the line. Will it be “less wrong” to make the connection then? Will we be under just as much fire?

I tell folks in our profession – and any, really — the trick, the balance is to not have too thick a skin or too thin a skin, as either can get you in trouble.

A corollary of that is: If you consider the scenario I just laid out an “easy call,” you need to rethink things. Because it should never be an easy call. And while it could be a great discussion topic in a Journalism Ethics 101 class, you’re probably never going to convince everyone (or necessarily a strong majority) that one way or the other is the right call.

Some say, “Well what if it was your family?” And I say, who’s family doesn’t have tragedy in it? My half-brother died in a car crash 30 or so years ago. What do I remember about the two brief items in the daily paper, tucked back toward the classifieds? That each misspelled his name, in different ways.

We’re all human. There are no obvious, perfect paths in such ethical dilemmas. The struggle is worth it, and yes, I waver back and forth, seeing both sides (or in some cases, the many sides) of the tough calls.

It’s not and never will be what some claim: That the decisions are made based on what will stir folks up and “grab ratings.” That’s a basic misunderstanding of what we reporters as flawed humans do every day. Do we try to do interesting stories? Of course. I have never seen a reporter who wants to hurt people and makes that the goal of a story or decision.

Some times it’s so obvious the right path we don’t have to think twice. Then there are the ones where we can second-guess ourselves into paralysis. I can argue each side of this morning’s ethical question just as fervently and passionately. But that doesn’t make the judgment call any easier.

My year of Fitbit Flex, tasty flax brownies — and a fitter me

Oh boy, I gained a pound or so!


Well, if you’re ever blessed to hear a doctor say “DON’T lose any more weight!” you know that it can be hard to change habits again and put the brakes on weight loss.

OK, that’s not something everyone can reach, I understand.

But having lost over 40 pounds since first putting a Fitbit Flex on my wrist – which now feels naked without it – one year ago today, I know it was just the right motivator (along with a $ motivator by my employer – a lower insurance premium!) at the right time to get me to a better place, diet-wise. My wonderful wife Deb has lost over twice that much in far less time, and it’s been a blast.

We haven’t starved ourselves, by ANY means. We still go out to east – Applebee’s, Olive Garden and some local spots have worked on lower-calorie still-tasty items – but the No. 1 thing I’ve eaten over the past year? The sumptuous Flax4Life chocolate brownies at our new favorite food store, Natural Grocers. They are SO tasty, and satisfying in that chewy chocolatey way. You don’t need more than one!

Many a time I’ve walked or driven right past Burger King (yeah, I’ve had enough French fries for two lifetimes) to the Subway near the TV station, and I’ve also learned that every meal doesn’t have to be washed down by pop. Water is actually satisfying! (And without getting gross, eat one of those great brownies and have some water with it and it becomes… chocolate-flavored water! If you catch my drift;-)

I can’t say processed foods never make it past my lips – that’s not realistic for me, maybe it is for you. But while trendy Wendies may go for kale and edamame, I love returning to good ol’ romaine lettuce, lil tomatoes, low-fat yogurt-made dressing and also my favorite fruits — so now, blueberries with that banana on the Cheerios, grapes green and red, apples (yes, sliced in packs like the ones in lunchboxes for schoolkids who can’t handle a knife eet – so sue me;-)

But while my wife has been on the Medifast Take Shape for Life program, dietician-overseen at Bend Memorial Clinic — and loves that food, which you eat five times a day, along with one “lean and green” meal — we grocery-shop differently now. Sure, we still read for the calories and sugar and fat and sodium, etc. – but the crucial thing is … carb-protein balance. Check that out on the labels of your favorite foods – so many are WAY higher in carbs, and we’ve learned that’s the wrong way to do. So alas, a lot less bread and pasta – but again, not swearing off anything.

Atkins (and now Safeway, for example) have great low-carb, balanced frozen foods. I also like plenty of protein bars, which can be high-calorie and taste like a candy bar but are mostly balanced in that crucial carb-protein element.

Oh, and twice a day, I take a walk down, then back up the block in my neighborhood. It may only be about 10 minutes each, and the overgrown weed-infested lot near me (grrrr) still grates, as do the barking dogs behind the half-height fence that jump up and say, um, ‘hi’ – but through a year of walking, sometimes accompanied by music via Spotify (I didn’t realize how many of my favorite songs are so fast-tempoed!) – not by earbuds but my phone in my shirt pocket, volume just right to not blast the neighborhood but envelop my ears — I know I’ve found a good break, a lovely sight, sound and smells respite for a racing brain of a lifelong reporter who rides the tide of the daily news, often feels chained to the keyboard and is never, ever caught up.

The rhythm of the seasons is nice – from warm to cold to warm then hot again, the Big Dipper and the smoke (!) and the threatening storm clouds – it’s not exactly a wilderness area, but just getting outside regularly helps. You probably already knew that.

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention My Fitness Pal, the great free smartphone app we both use to track everything we at – food logs used to be such a chore, but these things have a huge database of recipes, prepared food and restaurant items. It syncs with the Fitbit, as many such apps do, and if you get more steps in, you can eat a bit more;-)I don’t hit 10,000 steps a day – the goal — all the time, but easily top 5,000 a day just doing typical stuff.

And if you don’t find a good match for your meal, you can always add the recipe’s or food item’s numbers in yourself. It has a bar-code scanner that lets you beep the box of the, say, frozen dinner, and if you have pretty much the same thing each day for breakfast, you can copy one day’s meal to the next and tweak it.

I have a feeling I’ll be logging my food for the rest of my life – if only to slow me down when eating and let the ol’ hypothalamus catch up with my mouth:-)

One of the most fun things for Deb and me has been “shopping in our closet” (okay, buying new clothes too) and fitting into smaller clothes – the smallest for me probably since high school. And to hear folks say we look great. And to feel better – sharper, more focused … (if not more caught up/less stressed:-)

And to have to buy a smaller belt!

I’m definitely thinner and somewhat fitter, but … we still have a ways to go in that regard. Nevertheless, I’m so glad my employer opened the door by providing us the Fitbits (and a financial incentive to use them), and that we’ve taken advantage of them to fix our “fuel mixture.” My doctor says all my numbers are better, and I sure can take the steps faster than I used to (there are benefits to a two-story house!;-)

You’ve probably heard many go “If I can do it, so can you!” And you can. It doesn’t take saying no to tasty food, or killing yourself with sit-ups — just adjusting the makeup of your food menu and finding new things to enjoy (tonight, a zucchini pizza casserole! Finding great recipes with more protein than carbs is fun!)

I often say there are 1,000s of ways to eat right, and 1,000s of ways to eat wrong – you just have to find what works for you on the right side of that line. And proof that God has a sense of humor is where I lost weight at first – the part of the body one sits on. So chairs aren’t as comfortable, as if to say “Get up! Get moving!”

I get the message…


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