Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow fell

Just getting to the computer after a day of sleeping in, playing with the dog and putting on some chili -- the perfect way to spend a snowy Saturday.

I wrote about a day like this back in 2000, and it turned out to be one of my most popular columns. Here's a video of me reading it at StorySlam a couple of months ago... the text is below.

Snow fell.

Flakes floated. Clumps stuck. Drifts formed. Mounds rose. Grass vanished. Trees sagged. Birds hid. Whiteness ruled.

Shut-ins watched. Slackers slept. Couples smooched. Singles wished. Natives compared. Newcomers scoffed. Babies dozed. Elders remembered.

Computers crackled. Pagers beeped. Newspapers thudded. TVs flickered. Radios blared. Callers chattered. Critics grumbled. Weathermen apologized.

Workers drove. Roads iced. Sidewalks crunched. Tires skidded. Cars crashed. Drivers cussed. Cops muttered. Survivors exhaled.

Snow fell.

Skies darkened. Sleet spattered. Rain froze. Fog swirled. Buildings dissolved. Landmarks retreated. Perspectives narrowed. Cities shrank.

Schools closed. Parents shrieked. Work halted. Employees departed. Interstates clogged. Buses crawled. Teachers high-fived. Kids rejoiced.

Hills beckoned. Slopes summoned. Sleds careened. Toboggans flipped. Snowmen towered. Snowballs soared. Bodies flattened. Angels appeared.

Tongues extended. Snowflakes landed. Hands molded. Feet stomped. Ears reddened. Fingers tingled. Mittens dampened. Noses ran.

Snow fell.

Wind whistled. Chimes tinkled. Limbs groaned. Dogs barked. Ground hardened. Ponds glazed. Snowdrifts crusted. Temperatures dropped.

Closeness mattered. Kinfolk called. Friends connected. Neighbors shared. Volunteers gave. Strangers helped. Clerks assisted. Cashiers smiled.

Wires popped. Transformers exploded. Power blinked. Clocks stopped. Fridges defrosted. Victims shuddered. Linemen mended. Candles burned.

Operators dispatched. Trucks towed. Mechanics tinkered. Engines cranked. EMTs rescued. Firefighters hosed. Officers probed. Doctors healed.

Snow fell.

Heaps collected. Piles enlarged. Masses expanded. Clearings faded. Angles rounded. Edges smoothed. Shapes blended. Colors disappeared.

Shovelers heaved. Runners puffed. Skiers schussed. Skaters searched. Hunters crouched. Fishermen shivered. Flasks opened. Bellies warmed.

Poets scribbled. Artists sketched. Photographers focused. Singers hummed. Inventors dreamed. Grifters schemed. Counselors soothed. Preachers prayed.

Coffee perked. Tea steeped. Cocoa foamed. Bourbon swirled. Soup simmered. Casseroles baked. Marshmallows roasted. Popcorn popped.

Snow fell.

Clouds parted. Precipitation ended. Sunshine emerged. Icicles melted. Water puddled. Eaves dripped. Snowbanks sank. Plenty remained.

Dark came. Slush solidified. Ice blackened. Highways slickened. Students hoped. Travelers worried. Storms poised. Forecasts wavered.

Midnight ticked. Peace settled. Sounds quieted. Movement stilled. Light reflected. Darkness shined. Thoughts overflowed.

Weather changed. Challenges abounded. Humanity won. Kindness prevailed. Hearts lightened. Memories accumulated.

People learned.

Nature taught.

Snow fell.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Somebody unplugged the e-mail machine

The Observer's e-mail has been down since about 10 this morning. If you need us, give us a call. If you need me, tweet away at @tommytomlinson.

It's interesting how much e-mail has become like tap water -- something we expect to just be there all the time. E-mail's not as good for interviews -- face-to-face is always best -- but we still use it a LOT. Being without it reminds me of this ESPN commercial from a few years ago.

Espn Sportscenter Y2k Test via

Especially enjoyed the Angry Mark McGwire cameo. (Insert steroid joke here.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Questions for readers, part 2

Lots of good responses, here and on Facebook, to yesterday's questions about how to make the paper better. Now for the natural follow-up:

How do we pay for it? Would you pay more for the printed paper? Are there things we do (or could do) that you might pay for online? How about other things that might be natural offshoots of what we already do?

Again, all ideas welcome...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Some questions for readers

I posted this on my Facebook page just now... would also love to hear from those of you checking in via the blog.

So I need some advice from y'all... I'm part of a group at the Charlotte Observer that's trying to figure out better ways to reach out to readers (and survive as a business along the way). So what do we need to do better? What stuff should we NOT be doing? What would make you a loyal reader? And if you're not reading us, what might make you start?

I'd say we're more open to changes now than at any other time in the 20 years I've been here... for economic reasons, of course, but creative and journalistic reasons too. We're playing around with a bunch of things; if you've got ideas on how we should change, in big ways or small, now's the time to speak up.