Thursday, May 29, 2008

Giffels book reviewed by PD's Karen Long

The headline for a review of BJ columnist David Giffels book in today's Plain Dealer reads:

Giffels' home-renovation memoir a delight

Book Editor Karen R. Long writes:

Like a lot of writers, David Giffels hopes to make readers laugh and cry with his new memoir, "All the Way Home." His publicist hopes to see it sell as briskly as another domestic tale from a witty newspaperman, "Marley and Me."

We can see the parallel: charming narrator tells story of bad dog/bad house. In each book, bad carries its standard meaning and its street connotation: baaad, as in "formidable, not to be trifled with."

For Giffels, a puckish columnist at the Akron Beacon Journal, and his wife, Gina, a former teacher, it was game over in 1996 from the first glimpse of crystal twin chandeliers, still dangling in a Gilded Age mansion that was more wreck than remnant of anything habitable.

Except that inside the pair discovered a decrepit owner, huddled in a few rooms without running water or electricity, her osteoporosis forming her spine into a question mark, her orders strict that nothing be touched.

How the Giffelses come to buy this "absurd, stupendous place" for $65,000 is a suspenseful story in itself. The attic was "exploding with vegetation and wildlife," the Akron Department of Health had condemned the property, and the former owner refused to vacate.

The way the Giffelses resurrect this structure without sinking their marriage forms the struts of "All the Way Home." It's a pleasure to follow the author around the side and across the only working threshold.

Long adds later:

It's fun to think about LeBron James building his Sagamore Hills castle even as Giffels, a former Cavs ball boy, throws his 150-pound frame into restoring his own version nearby.

Click on the headline to read Long’s review

Read our earlier post on a New York Times Review of the book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Iraq War no longer gets big play

Los Angeles Times foreign editor Marjorie Miller gives three reasons why the Iraq War no long ers big play:

  • The cost of keeping correspondents in Baghdad is trimming the roster of journalists;
  • The economic downturn and the contentious presidential primaries have sucked oxygen from Iraq; and
  • With no solutions in sight, with no light at the end of the tunnel, war fatigue has set in.
Click on the headline to read the story in the Columbia Journalism Review

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On 225th birthday, are newspapers dying?

Plain Talk by Al Neuharth in USA Today

"The report of my death is an exaggeration."

Mark Twain to the New York Journal, 1897

The first daily newspaper in the USA was born 225 years ago next week. The triweekly Pennsylvania Evening Post in Philadelphia became a daily on May 30, 1783.

Since then, most cities or small towns across the USA have had their own daily or weekly newspaper. Currently, 1,422 dailies and 6,253 weeklies are being published.

Sure, the slumping economy has made times a little tough for them. But most still have profit margins well above most other businesses.

Exaggerated "obits," à la Mark Twain's, are being peddled mostly by newspapers themselves. When semiannual circulation figures were released recently, newspapers headlined slight losses among eight of the Top 10. But little or no attention was given papers that are growing. Examples:

* USA TODAY, the nation's largest, increased to 2,284,219 daily circulation. It has shown gains every year in its 25-year history.

* The No. 2 Wall Street Journal gained to 2,069,463. Under new owner/boss Rupert Murdoch, it's the most improved newspaper in the country and likely to show significant sharp future increases.

* A dozen other newspapers with circulations of 50,000 or more had gains ranging from 1.21% to 7.61%, including in Baton Rouge, Cincinnati, Mobile, Ala., Munster, Ind., San Jose, Calif., Seattle and Trenton, N.J.

Importantly, newspaper owners and editors have embraced the Internet and now are 24/7 providers of news, information, entertainment and advertising. The hunger for all that is greater than ever in history. That's why newspaper-oriented media companies have a bright future.

So, if you're a news junkie, you'll probably continue to get everything you've been getting from your newspaper. And more.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering Polly Paffilas

In Memoriam:
Polly Paffilas 1921-2005

Memorial Day is an appropriate time to remember our dear friend and colleague, Polly Paffilas. Polly died just three years ago on Thursday, May 26, 2005. The best tribute to Pollly is probably a story written for the May /June 1983 issue of Tower Topics by her friend and co-worker, the late Fran Murphey, to report that Polly had been presented the John S. Knight Award of the Society of Professsional Journalist. Click on the headline go to our Memorial page for Pollly. And then, if your like, add your own comments here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

George Read Murray dies at 69

George Read Murray passed away May 11, 2008 at the age of 69.

He was loved by the Kent community for his writing, story telling, and his generous spirit. He was a founding memb
er and worked for the Kent Natural Foods Cooperative. An accomplished writer, George wrote for the Akron Beacon Journal and then as a freelance writer who explored diverse topics including the nature of consciousness. An active participant in the education of his children, George was also a mentor to young writers in Kent. George loved to tell stories and weave tales from his life experiences.

George is surv
ived by his wife, Cindy Bissell; daughters Saille, Holly, Hannelore (husband Andrew); and granddaughter, Michaela; and sons, Athen and Alder.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, May 25th at Tannery
Park in Kent at 3:00 p.m. - please bring a chair. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Standing Rock Cultural Arts, 257 N. Water Street, Kent, OH 44240.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH, Friday, May 23, 2008, page B7, col. 2]

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Leo Osmar dislocates shoulder

Here’s an email from BJ composing room retiree Leo Osmar:

On April 1 I dislocated my right shoulder and tests indicate I will be immobile for up to a year. I have no use of right arm or hand. Anyone who has had shoulder rotor surgery knows my recuperation prognosis. Fortunately I've no physical pain, but also have bladder troubles. Can no longer carry coffee hour at St. Bernard's nor work hot meals. Can no longer visit Peter Maurin Center at will. I cannot drive and have to compute with one hand. Many prayers are welcome. Regards to all retirees who visit the blog.
Leo Osmar
composing room

How McClatchy got Seattle Times shares

How the Blethen family lost 49.5 percent of the Seattle Times Co.

Last week, minority shareholder McClatchy, the Sacramento newspaper chain, said it was willing to sell its not-quite-half slice of the Seattle Times. So how did a locally controlled Northwest newspaper company wind up with a national partner to begin with? The story starts in the 1920s. Click on the headline for an interesting story.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mail from the daughter of the late Ben James

Here's a nice email from the oldest daughter of the late Ben James, a retired college professor in Lorain, OH:
I was surfing the net this afternoon and found a story about my dad Ben James. It was the story about Benny's Blue Room and his famous practical joke with the telephone in his pocket.

[Go to the post mentioned above]

Thanks for bringing Benny's Blue Room back to my memory.

I don't know if you have any history of Ben's family, but his son Dave Jr. died in 1990 in Cuyahoga Falls, his son Dick lives in Kankakee, IL, his daughter Susan in Temple, TX, Ann in Irving, TX and Trudi, his oldest in Lorain, OH.

His grandsons, Dave's sons live in Macedonia and Parma, Dick's children live in IL, and Trudi's daughter lives in CO.

I am a retired college professor and still think of my father fondly as well as the BJ family. Thanks again for bringing back a long forgotten memory. I will be sure to send copies to my siblings.

Trudi James-Parks
Lorain, OH

Friday, May 16, 2008

PD reporter among Nieman Fellows

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard has named 28 journalists from the United States and abroad to the 71st class of Nieman Fellows. They include print reporters and editors, online journalists, columnists and editorial writers, broadcasters, a photojournalist and a filmmaker.

Bob Giles, Nieman Foundation curator and a 1966 Nieman Fellow, chaired the committee. Giles is a former managing editor of the Beacon Journal.

Established in 1938, the Nieman program is the oldest midcareer fellowship for journalists in the world. The fel
lowships are awarded to working journalists of accomplishment and promise who come to Harvard University for a year of study, seminars and special events. More than 1,200 journalists from 90 countries have received Nieman Fellowships.

Among those chosen was Andrea Simakis, Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, who will study U.S. immigration and refugee policy and its impact on how newcomers learn and navigate American culture.

Also selected was
Hannah Allam, Cairo bureau chief, McClatchy Newspapers, will study sectarianism within Islam, focusing on Arab-Persian relations and Sunni vs. Shiite doctrine on governance, armed struggle and family law.

Simakis graduated from New York University with honors and a degree in journalism. She worked as a freelancer for The Village Voice and Glamour magazine. Her work for the Voice earned her an award from the Newswoman's Club of New York.

She joined The Plain Dealer in 1999 after completing a year-long Kiplinger Fellowship in public affairs reporting at The Ohio State University, where she honed her investigative reporting and non-fiction writing skills and earned a master's degree in journalism.

Within a year of her arrival in Cleveland, Simakis became the first social services writer for the PD. During her tenure covering the beat, she earned a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for her profile of a court-appointed guardian who championed abused and neglected children in one of the most overcrowded juvenile courts in the country. .

In 2002, she moved to the Sunday Magazine, where she specialized in long-form narrative journalism. In 2004, she chronicled the case of Robert Kreischer, whose single well-placed punch landed him in prison for two years. Her two-part-series, "Road to Ruin," exposed injustices that happen in America's courtrooms every day but rarely make the news: botched police investigations, inept legal representation, prosecutorial misconduct, and judges who disregard clear constitutional violations.

The piece moved 2,000 readers to demand -- and win -- Kreischer's release from prison and won her a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for "distinguished service to the American people and the profession of journalism."

In 2006, Simakis joined the Arts & Life staff as a feature writer and authored a series of articles questioning the conviction of Tyrone Noling, on Ohio's death row for gunning down an elderly couple. Her investigation uncovered new and long-buried evidence that pointed to another killer and prompted his attorneys to request a new trial. The articles won her a first place award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists for Best Social Justice Reporting.

Recently, she investigated the legal entanglements that plagued a family of Somali refugees trying to navigate life in America. Two members -- girls barely out of their teens -- faced deportation and death if convicted of multiple counts of child abuse for burning children in their care. Simakis discovered that differing child rearing practices, not sadism, led to the crime and that such cultural misunderstandings and collisions are common and continue to dog refugee resettlement across the country.

The U.S. fellows were selected by Amy Nutt, a reporter for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., and a 2005 Nieman Fellow; Marshall Ganz, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School; Sam Fulwood, Plain Dealeer columnist and a 1994 Nieman Fellow; J. Richard Hackman, Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology, Harvard University; and Giles.

Click on the headline to see details of the fellows.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

DelMio to provide content for MSN shopping site

DelMio, the online magazine created by former BJ staffer Diane Evans, got a plug on's (Microsoft) shopping site. Delmio will provide expert advice for the site;

DelMio was formed in 2006 as a new media company that is a "merger" of the old-line newspaper business with the new multimedia capabilities. It provides avid readers with a place to join like-minded people on "book explorations" that go beyond the written. pages. DelMio is distributed through public libraries, as a service to their cardholder patrons. DelMio is also a valuable distribution channel for authors and publishers to expose their new books to influential of readers. is a vibrant online magazine that specializes in books, authors, publishing and library interests. DelMio has a team of experienced professional journalists who dig up information about books and other things so you don’t have to do it. DelMio has daily news feeds updated in RSS, as well as a group of edited blogs. DelMio develops high quality, multimedia content at its home web site and as well as exclusive content for

DelMio experts include founder Diane Evans, consumer writer Mary Ethridge and acclaimed food writer Jane Snow, all three veterans of the former Knight Ridder Newspapers; Anne Brennan, a former Chicago Tribune writer and editor; and Chuck Bowen, international correspondent. DelMio is committed to providing end users with credible, well-researched information they can count on for accuracy.

Click on the headline to see the promotion.

Knight News Challenge 2008 winners announced

LAS VEGAS — Sixteen ideas to fund innovative digital projects around the world were awarded $5.5 million dollars Wednesday from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, accepted one of the awards for a project that will create a technology to give users more information about the origins and sourcing of digital content.

Berners-Lee's project is a partnership between the Media Standards Trust and the UK-based Web Science Research Initiative, of which he is a director.

This is the second year of the $25 million Knight News Challenge, which funds digital information innovations that transform community life.

Announced at the Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas, this year's projects will touch people in rural India, the townships of South Africa and on college campuses across the United States, among other places. The winners' ideas include:

* Using the Web to solicit funding from the public to pay for investigative journalism projects
* Creating software that allows a computer to become a digital radio transmitter, significantly reducing the cost of setting up community news stations in India
* Blogging to discuss the idea of interactive games where students measure and track their personal demand on natural resources.

The prizes ranged from $15,000 to $876,000, and were given to individuals, philanthropic organizations and for-profit businesses, including the Bakersfield Californian newspaper. Ten winners were from the United States, and six were from Canada, England, Lithuania, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Russia.

"Just as the Knight brothers used their newspapers to help create the conversations about improving life in their communities, we look forward to these projects that use new information tools to inform and inspire community," said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation.

In 2007, the Knight News Challenge awarded $12 million to 25 digital innovators.

This year, several projects focus on bridging the digital divide, such as one to deliver news by text message to inexpensive cell phones used in developing countries. Often these mobile phones are the only modern communications devices in a community.

Other projects sought to develop tools that make it easy for anyone, not just technology specialists, to join the digital conversation.

The number of applicants for Knight News Challenge increased 82 percent in its second year, to 3,000. The percentage of foreign applicants increased to 40 percent from 15 percent in 2007. The contest was advertised in 10 languages. It also featured a special "Young Creators" category to reward the ideas of those who are 25 and younger.

Six of this year's winners were "Young Creators."

Click on the headline to see winners and other information about the Challenge awards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Even dozen BJ retirees at monthly lunch

Click on the headline to see photos of the lunch bunch

There were so many at the monthly gathering of BJ retirees at Papa Joe’s restaurant – 12 – that everyone had to move over and squeeze in late arrivals at a round table that usually has a half-dozen or so. The 12 ties the September total. There were fewer attendees at all the gatherings in between.

At the 1 p.m. second Wednesday of the month lunch were Cal Deshong, Don Roese, Gene McClelland, Armand Lear, Al Hunsicker, Carl Nelson, Watson Blanton, wife Rosetta and their friend/driver, Lonnie Thomas, Bob Pell Sr. and his son, Bob Jr., and John Olesky.

You're welcome to join the laughter at Papa Joe's, where Portage Trail and Akron-Peninsula Road meet. 1 p.m., second Wednesday of each month.

New Guild Prez says 'too much pessimism'

Report by Joe Strupp, Editor & Pubisher

NEW YORK Challenger Bernie Lunzer, whose election as Newspaper Guild president is expected to be certified on Thursday, said he wants to have the union "actively involved in the direction of the industry."

Lunzer, who made his first comments about the election to E&P, said he was "pleased with the numbers" that appear to give him a sizeable victory, adding "we think it gives us what we need to go ahead and do some of the things we promised in the campaign."

Lunzer's comments followed the release of ballot data on the Guild Web site that indicates Lunzer had at least 3,630 votes out of 6,367 cast, with incumbent Linda Foley taking 2,737. In accordance with Guild rules, the election is not final until it is certified on Thursday. But with a nearly 900-vote lead and only some 600 ballots outstanding, Lunzer's victory is all but assured. His running mates, secretary-treasurer nominee Carol Rothman and international chair candidate Connie Knox, are also expected to win.

"I based my campaign on the fact that we need to have a change in approach stylistically," Lunzer said. "We are confident there is a future here and that we can get guild members involved in that future." Lunzer added that "there is way too much pessimism in the industry. We still have various products, the brands, the things we stand for. We've got more readers than we’ve ever had before. It is not about increasing eyeballs, it is about increasing revenue."

Foley had no comment on the election.

McClatchy open to sell Seattle Times

This report from the Editor & Publisher staff:

McClatchy Co. Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Pruitt said the company is open to selling the 49.5% share of the Seattle Times Co. it acquired as part of the purchase of Knight Ridder Inc. in 2006.

The revelation came in a Sacramento Bee story covering Pruitt's Tuesday remarks at McClatchy's annual shareholders' meeting in Sacramento.

"Long-term, we would be open to selling" the stake, Pruitt said in response to a shareholder's query, noted Dale Kasler's Bee article.

Pruitt said he has told the Blethen family, which owns the rest of the Times Co., that McClatchy is interested in selling the minority share at some point. McClatchy has repeatedly written down the value of its stake in the firm -- it now values its share at $12.1 million, down from $19.3 million at the end of 2007.

Also, Pruitt tried to reassure shareholders Tuesday that the company is on the right track despite falling profits, revenue, and stock price. He said McClatchy, by focusing heavily on Internet operations, is poised for recovery once the economy improves.

"We are confident we will work through this transition," Pruitt added.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jennifer's story is a Mother's Day story

Jennifer’s story, well written, occupied a large portion of page A1 of the Beacon Journal on Sunday.

The story by Beacon Journal staff writer Kim Hone-McMahan, however, was as much a Mother’s Day story as it was about the adoption of Jennifer. It was a Mother’s Day stor
y written by a mother (Kim) to tell how her son’s mission trip to the Ukraine brought Jennifer to a new life in Green.

In the summer of 2006, son Alex returned from a two-week mission trip to Ukraine. He and a group from Canton's Malone College had gone there to work with children living in some of the orphanages.

In tears, he vowed never to forget the boys and girls he left behind. Most would have very short lives.

A staggering 70 percent of orphans, according to one report, will die on the streets within five years of aging out of the system at about 16, victims of such things as suici
de, violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

He ached for the children. The memories of their giggles made him chuckle. But their eyes, filled with longing, haunted him.

''The poorest of the poor here are rich to those kids,'' he said, dropping his head into the palms of his hands. Though Alex didn't know what it was like to be orphaned, he understood loss.

Three years earlier, he had unsuccessfully tried to revive his sister, Brooke, who had died during a seizure. The experience will forever be etched in his memory, the love for her forever imprinted on his heart.

''I just don't know what to do for them,'' he said of the orphans, his voice shaking. ''I'll be back there someday. If not before, it will be the day I adopt.''

For months, Kim and husband Chris discussed the children Alex had visited. In a country the size of Texas, there are some 100,000 children in institutions. Though we felt we were too old to adopt an infant, we agreed to bring a 10- to 12-year-old child into our family. Most youngsters that old don't find their forever families.

''We can never replace our sweet Brooke, but we feel we have more love to give,'' ChrisI wrote in a journal two days before Christmas 2006.

For the first few months in the U.S. , she grieved terribly for her Ukrainian friends, who were like siblings to her.She has turned 14 since arriving and had a party with her peers to celebrate.

At Green schools, she is one of about 150 students in the district whose native language is not English, and one of 50 receiving ESL services (English as a second language). While adolescents usually take longer than younger children to learn English, Jennifer is something of a star in her linguistic abilities.

It seems the folks at the orphanage were correct: She is very smart, and funny. And troubles like reactive attachment disorder, commonly found in orphaned and abandoned children, are nonexistent.

She's busy perfecting her English while learning about the Italian Renaissance and deep-ocean trenches. She's struggling to make sense of middle school social dramas. And, like many other young teens, she takes dance lessons, goes to movies and text-messages her pals.

In a word, she is a joy.

You will want to click on the headline to read all of this moving story by a mother on Mother’s Day. God bless you, Kim

Friday, May 09, 2008

Bob Abbott on Rx situation

Re exploring another lawyer's view of the situation:

As of yet I personally haven't searched to get another legal opinion of our situation with the BJ. And, at this point it will probably be a month or so before I get back into it. I feel I need to take a break from all's been rather a chore...but I don't regret having explored our options (or lack of) to this point.

This message is to suggest that anybody that does make a contact with counsel to keep me up to speed, and I would even go so far as to suggest that I possibly could give you some ideas for your first initial contact in regard to this matter. I do have a pretty good idea of what they (counsel) might want to know at that first meeting...and if it's a free session you definitely would want to present everything that's possibly relevant.

And I can put you in contact with some individuals that have a different situation than I had...this could make all the difference in the world.

Feel free to pick my brain and get any information that could be of use.

Those that were part of our "slush" fund be aware that I finally have cleared all the paperwork, bills, etc. that were relevant to our probe of the Rx problem. The good news is that the lawyer didn't charge us for the latter phone calls and his counsel on different approaches that we might have been able to take. Doing most of the legwork myself and then bouncing ideas off him definitely worked out well...with no charge to our account. He was very sympathetic to our situation...and said it wasn't right (the way we were being treated) but the BJ was pushing all the loopholes as far as they could and they are keeping in mind how the courts have been handing down decisions. And it hasn't been to the advantage of the working man.

And of course when I was ready to make copies of all the paperwork you will be receiving my scanner/copier decided to quit talking to my computer (Murphy's law). But the problem was finally resolved and the checks (small though they be) will be in the mail early next week. Where have I heard that before?! And, as promised, you will have an accounting of every penny.

This effort wasn't in vain...we learned a lot and the BJ is aware that we aren't going to just roll over and let them get away with anything they desire to do. And I hope this might be just a start to maybe getting them to finally own up to their promises to their retirees and former employees.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

All the news that's fit to click

It had to happan. ABC News is announcing a new broadband service which allows streaming video of the news.

So what's the onlline equivalent of the famous New York Times motto? Why it's ABC's

All the news that's fit to click

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

PD gets 220 e-mails on rape story

When Joanna Connors of the Plain Dealer agreed to tell the story of her 1984 rape in the paper's pages, she expected strong reaction, Joe Strupp reports in Editor & Publisher.

But even she was surprised at how many of the 220 or so e-mails and voicemails responding to the special section in Sunday's paper about her experience were from women who had been raped, but had never told anyone.

"Two people at the paper came up to me and said they had been raped and one had never told anyone," Connors, 54, told E&P.. "So many of the people in the voice mails and e-mails said so, too. We really absorb that message [as victims] that it is uncomfortable for everyone." Connors was actually raped while on the job during her stint as a Plain Dealer theater critic. She writes in the first of several stories that ran Sunday about being attacked at the student theater of nearby Case Western University by a man who cornered her in the empty backstage area.

The story and a video can be found on or click on the headline to read all of Strupp's account.

Keeping up with Mark Dawidziak

A striking photo of Mark Dawidziak in the Beacon Journal prompted this update on the former BJ staffer who is now the Plain Dealer TV critic.

This is about Mark’s serious writing which is largely theatrical and literary.

His next book has a June publication date. The title is "The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Dracula," and the publisher is Continuum, a New York-London company that
specializes in literary studies. The first half of the book focuses on Bram Stoker and his Dracula novel. The second half looks at the character's cultural impact, examining the plays, movies and everything from Count Chocula cereal to the number-obsessed Count on "Sesame Street."

It is 192 pages. The list price is $19.95 but yo
u can find it online for $16.95

And now, on to Mark Twain. Dawidziak fans have followed his Largely Literary Society for six years as they performed the three-person presentation of
of 'A Christmas Carol' at Stan Hywet Hall, Coach House Theatre, Greystone, the Kent Stage and various other area locations.

The next performance of the society is what prompted th BJ publication of the Mark Twain photo. A Largely Literary Evening dinner and play fund-raiser in support of Copley Township residents Hilda and Kurt Bromley's Books for Africa Library Project is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at the St. Bernard Catholic Church social hall in downtown Akron.

The event, hosted by the Largely Literary Theater Company, will feature a program of Mark Twain sketches and poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Admission is free but donations are encouraged to support the Bromleys in their effort to establish libraries in Ghana and Liberia.

For information, call 330-666-6816.

In the meantime, the Bromleys would like to remind you of a Mark Twain quote:

''When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also . . . books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.''

Dawidziak keeps in touch with many current BJ folk, and former BJ staffers, many in the PD newsroom.

Note: The photo used by the Beacon Journal was cropped for emphasis. The uncropped version is shown here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

46 trips and counting

I finally got around to compiling a list of my trips since my 1996 retirement from the Beacon Journal.

The total? 46 trips.

Trips with Monia before she died: 18.

Trips with Paula: 23.

Trips with other family members: 5.

As many of you know, the trips vary from West Virginia to Florida (a lot of each) to China to Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, some more than once), Hawaii, Canada, and cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean (Mexico and the usual blue-water nations). We've also taken week-long trips through California and Michigan and New York State and Virginia and New England and enjoyed stays in Fripp Island, SC, and Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA, and a 3-week journey through Arizona and New Mexico.

And, of course, had reunions with former Beacon Journal co-workers Terry and Cecily Dray, Don Bandy, Dave and Gina White in Florida, and made week-long vacations out of flights to West Virginia University football games (the Colorado game will be the 2008 season's Rockies vacation week or so). The Mountaineer games in Mountaineer Field are not included in the 46 trips (6 or 7 home games per season).

We're looking for another trip (with the economy so bad, the prices are tumbling rapidly, almost by the week) to take as soon as my knee rehab makes it possible for me to get around easily (a lot of these places have hills and lots of steps). I'm doing my PT without an instructor now, but using the same equipment at Akron General's Tallmadge PT place as I did with an instructor. I just follow the sheet she gave me and set the same equipment on the same settings as before. Paula and I also try to walk 1 to 1.5 miles on days when I don't go to the Tallmadge PT, on North Avenue just off the Tallmadge Circle.

I'm determined to enjoy my life till the day I join Monia at Northlawn Memorial Gardens in Cuyahoga Falls. Thanks to Paula, my personal travel guide, it's been a great run.

Have most forgotton May 4? Ritter asks

Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector, said Sunday he wonders why the observance of May 4, 1970 shootings of four Kent State students was not packed. with people.

The shooting deaths 38 years ago of four students by the Ohio National Guard need to be seen as a gift — a lesson — to the entire United States, Rtter said. But if the May 4 commemoration continues to have low attendance — the event was attended by about 400 people — and Americans refuse to read and understand their U.S. Constitution, then those lost lives will have been for nothing, keynote speaker Scott Ritter said.

''While I applaud those who are here today, I have to ask, why isn't this hillside covered with the citizens of this country?'' Ritter asked. ''Where are the students of Kent State? Where are the citizens of this community? Where are the citizens of Ohio? Where is the media?''

The program in which Ritter and others spoke started at noon on the campus commons, near the university's memorial and markers that show where four students were killed and nine wounded on May 4, 1970, as they protested the Vietnam War and presence of the National Guard on campus.

While the event is based on the shootings 38 years ago, many of the attendees also were protesting the ongoing war in Iraq.

Ritter said whatever their feelings about the Iraq war, people should never denigrate the service provided by the Americans fighting there because they are willing to die for us.

''These are men and women who have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,'' he said.

''Have we done everything we can to ensure the sacrifice that they are prepared to make is in a cause worthy of the sacrifice?'' Ritter said. ''And I will tell you, no, we have not.''

The rights of American freedom of speech and assembly were trampled ''on this very spot,'' shortly after students buried a copy of the U.S. Constitution near where the memorial stands to protest their government's actions, Ritter said. Those protesters were defending the Constitution, he said.

Click on the headline to read the full Beacon Journal story by Jim Mackimmon.

Blogger Note: May 4 has not been forgotten by the BJ retirees blog and website. You can go to the Commentary section of our website anytime and read the section on Remembering May 4. There you will find links to hundreds of photos by BJ photographer Paul Tople, photos and cartoons by retired BJ staffer Chuck Ayers, a Chronology by the Kent State University Library and a list of collections in KSU archives, the great John Filo photo and a link to Al Canfora’s website.