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“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism– these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”— Obama

The strange looking animals pictured above are Highland Cattle, also know as Hairy Coos. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. But they’re kinda cute. I don’t know how they see where they’re going.

I wanted to write something after the inauguration. Something about how real it felt to me and how good. And about how I love Michelle’s comfortable glamor and Barack’s humble wait in the hallway. I’m excited to see what will happen and hopeful because I might actually have the chance/inclination to become involved this time around.

My parents gave me a subscription to Newsweek for Christmas, and this week I’ve read the issue nearly cover-to-cover, which has been a real treat. I’m for staying connected and informed without being pulled down into international pessimism. I’m hoping that reading well-written news will do better for this than too much TV or even radio.

Which all kinda leads me (in a very weird, indirect way) to what I am considering to be my New Years Resolution. Yea, yea… I know it’s been a month already so I’m a little late, but these things need to be considered. And in my defense I did come up with this at the beginning of the month. I’m just getting to posting it now, which you will come to see is the slightest bit ironic.

The word of the year is “intentional.” I want to live with my with more intention. Do what I say I am going to do, in a way that encourages curiosity and productivity. It’s not that I want to get more done, I want to do more with the full awareness of what and how I am doing.

So there. That is the big picture for 2009. A little late, maybe a little hairy. But hopefully a lot curious.

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Were you raised in a barn?!

First of all I want to say that the headline of this artcle is particularly interesting in that it implies that living in a barn would not be a unique experience for other people.

BlackMountainNews.com – Living in a barn is unique experience for local couple

Anyway, this column, which is part of this week’s Black Mountain News from Black Mountain, N.C., details the lifestyle of a Swannanoa valley couple who — you guessed it — live in a barn. It is a charming little place, and it is quite unique. Part of me would love to do something that unusual and fun, especially because it involves raising horses (and buffalo). The detail I like the most is how the stall doors for the horses are topped with wrought iron fencing from Lake Susan in Montreat, N.C., my home away from home. But this is not really the focus of my post, and if I say any more you won’t read the article.

During the past week and a half I have been compiling a list of possible blog posts. I keep it in a simple text file on my desktop where I keep quite a number of lists, both important and igsignificant. And there’s so much to say about all of the topics I’ve jotted (read: typed frantically) into this text file. I suppose the fact that there is so much to say and that I cannot decide which to write about is just an indication of the fact that I should post more often. Unfortunately, the second week of classes proved to be more difficult than I expected.

For example (talking about the list, not the difficulty), I came home one particularly restless night after a concert I went to. The concert featured Raplh Stanley and a local bluegrass band, and when I came home I composed four lines of that list. They read : “bluegrass; cultured; america (capitalized as such in my list forms) and; people watching.” These mean that I wanted to talk about bluegrass music and why so many people are so adverse toward it. People view it as uncivilized, old-timey twang. Well, maybe that’s what it is to a point, but for me, and for many people, I see it as a welcome respite in the face of increasing urbanization and globalization. I’m not saying I am against these two ideals, because I am in no way in opposition to them. Of course I take issue with a few of their facets, but that’s another issue for another night. What I’m saying is that amid all this up-and-out stuff there’s nothing wrong with remembering a past. A past that probably describes more of America than we care to think. The “cultured” part comes from the fact that I often feel more cultured by attending such events. Perhaps this sounds elitist, and perhaps it is. But that’s what I wrote down and I can’t remember my exact thought process at the time.

The people watching comes from me going to these events often alone — and enjoy it that way. I love watching these older couples meeting all their friends at these functions. Some of the friends they haven’t seen in months. Others they played bridge with last night and met at the Biscuitville this morning. They’re just all so happy to simply be in one place with people they love. It’s almost magical, and these events are the only place I can find it consistently.

The other things on the list involve certain recent discussions and events and will not be discussed further tonight. Suffice it to say that God puts people in your life for a reason, all of them. They make you see things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and they let you be you all over again. And for that tonight, I am truly thankful.

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First day of class — always exciting. I’m taking Business French this semester, which I think will be fairly interesting. It’s going to be a lot of vocabulary, but I think it will be helpful in the longrun — especially if the whole point of me having the French major is to make the language useful to me once I get out into the real world. I also had enough time to eat an omelet this morning.
So I don’t think I had really noticed how big this blog trend has gotten. I know we often discuss it at the newspaper I work for, and I know I’ve seen it on some new Web sites and everything, but it seems to be even more than that. I remember reading an article recently, I think it was for my international history class in high school, about how the different interfaces appearing in the media have shaped the way events are discussed and information is spread. I think it was from Foreign Affairs magazine, and it specifically mentioned the war in Iraq and a few other conflicts abroad. It talked about how the Web log has entirely transformed the idea of foreign reporting and had an example of this guy in Russia who was taken hostage in a movie theatre and set up a blog to let people know what was going on. No reporter could have gotten in there; no news company of any sort could have had that story.
I was messing around in the Washington Post website today (by the way, how about that British kid that made himself a millionaire by selling adds $1 per pixel on http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com???) and I noticed that next to each article they have this little billboard box that says “Who’s Blogging.” It has links to all these random people all over the world who have linked their blog to this article. For example, the article about the British ad entrepreneur has 14 blogs linked to it. I think it’s impressive that publications like the Post want to connect their readers that much that they make and effort to say “Want to read more? Come over there and see what Joe Schmo has to say about it.” It’s like in “Miracle on 34th Street” when Macy’s makes the books to tell their customers where to go to find what they want.
I think the Post, like any self-respecting publication, is really doing it for self-preservation. As much as I don’t like to think about it, the print media is becoming somewhat of an endangered species. Those of us who depend on it for work also tend to depend on it for other things like entertainment and the perfect mate to a hot cup of coffee. However, I have to make the point that a bunch of tired journalists aren’t going to be able to hold up the entirety of the print media industry on the paycheck that they give us. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle — but we do what we can.
Nevertheless, publications seem to think now that the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” strategy is what is going to work best here, and I happen to agree. While the blog phenomenon does provide a bit of a threat to traditional news, it also provides a bit of a supplement. Ignoring technological advances in this industry is professional suicide, especially because when it all goes down and the paper copy of the Times is only good enough for an elite few, the newsroom will not be big enough for all of us. Of course blogging does open the world of journalism to nonprofessionals. And while those of us on the inside might have mixed feelings about this, there is little question that having more reporters in the world is going to make us more informed.

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