Heather Brandon falls silent.
I'm sorry, but not necessarily surprised that Heather Brandon, author of the popular Urban Compass blog, announced yesterday that she is taking a hiatus from her blog for an undetermined length of time. The announcement culminates a year long fade for the blog, which never quite found a clear identity after she moved out of Springfield, the city which was the primary focus of her writing. At that time her departure, just months after I had chosen her and Charles V. Ryan for my top internet awards, prompted the headline Woman of the Year Leaves Town.
It's not that the quality of the blog in any way declined after the move. Brandon did an excellent job at providing the kind of detailed, researched and thoughtful writing that had made her in many ways the region's most professional citizen journalist. In fact, much of what she did was superior in both depth and insight to what many paid journalists for the local media were producing. However, unlike them, she was not getting full pay and benefits for her valuable work.
This underlines one of the stubborn weaknesses of the New Media revolution. How can you expect talented amateurs, some of whom like Heather produce work of enormous value to the community, to work for only small sums of money? Personally, I have always made money off my blog, but thank God for the taxpayers, who used to pay my salary at UMass and now underwrite my welfare benefits, because if I had to live solely off my website I would have to take up dumpster diving.
Much of this will change as advertising revenue continues to flee print media and go online. In the meantime it is no surprise if people like Heather Brandon, who is a wife and mother and is going back to college, have other things to do with their scarce time rather than write for what almost amounts to a public service. I'm certain we'll hear from Heather again, because she's far too talented to completely fade away, and it may even take the form of a revival of Urban Compass. But it will probably not happen until the revolution has evolved to the point when the money one is able to earn online more closely matches the time one must invest.
I was surprised to walk past the student travel center at UMass this morning and see that their signs were empty!
In fact the whole place was closed and all the office furniture moved out! On the locked front door was a sign indicating that from now on I have to go all the way over to the UMass hotel lobby to get my tickets to Springfield.
Gee, I wonder what happened? That place has been there since I was a student!
My cousin Larry who lives in Arizona had quite an adventure recently when a deadly rattlesnake suddenly crossed the path of him and his step-daughter. Here is a first hand account:
It finally happened. Marianne's daughter (Lori) and I walked down a couple of streets where we could get an unobstructed view of the Fireworks in Phoenix Friday night. On the way back, walking along the sidewalk, her in sandals and me in my everyday boots, she was walking ahead of me. The wind was blowing at least 40 mph and tree debris was everywhere. Small pieces about the size of your hand mostly. Our trees don't have big leaves like yours do.
So she said (as she walked past it) "Is that a Snake?" Even though we have streetlights, I took out my flashlight for a better look. Sure enough, it was a small Rattler about 2 feet long! I looked closely to check the species because we have 13 different kinds. It was a "Black tailed Rattlesnake." It was so windy it apparently didn't sense us approaching. It was coiled on the curb next to the sidewalk. It's tiny little "rattletail" was moving constantly. So I kicked it into the street and it came right back! I kicked it harder next time putting it out in the travel lane. Only one car came by in all the time we had stood there watching fireworks from the opposite direction. But it was wounded from my kick and bleeding. Better it than me! I don't kill harmless snakes, but a Rattlesnake so close to my neighborhood has to go.
I killed a big one back in 1976 and wore the tail on my hat for years until it fell off somewhere. Hope I don't see another one for another 3 years! But it was a great wake up call. I am and will continue to be more alert in the future. Having lived here before, I know enough to always be watchful where ever I go. You never know when or where one will pop up!
At least we have a cure called "Antivenin." All the hospitals stock it. I'd rather get bit by an Arizona Rattlesnake than a Florida alligator. It's a lot smaller scar! Frankly, I'll take my chances with a real snake compared to the ones they have "back-east" that carry guns and knives and would kill you for the fun of it.
Wow cousin, glad you and your step-daughter escaped unharmed!
Looks like The Captain's holiday bash out in Oregon was another big success!
Among those in attendance was Bruce Hornsby, who occasionally played keyboards with the Grateful Dead.
Check out the fun and festive photos by clicking here.