Thursday, November 30, 2006

We're not the only one

The recent mayoral election featured lots of talk about attracting and retaining young professionals. According to the New York Times we're not the only ones.

Competition for us is particularly fierce, the story says, because "by 2012 the work force will be losing more than two workers for every one it gains." And they really want folks before they turn 35, when they become much less likely to move.

One of the most interesting points the story makes is that young people choose cities like Austin, Atlanta and Portland less because of what the city has done and more because ambiguous attitudes and word of mouth.

So instead of asking what can we do as we've done so many times before, my question for y'all is why are you here? And what keeps you here?

Shreveport-Bossier has some great and often overlooked assets like low cost of living, limited traffic and friendly people. Maybe if we promoted those things we could find ways to attract young adults.

Why talk when you can e-mail?

Sounds silly, but that's the way a lot of us end up if we work in an office. I know most members of this blogging group loves to send e-mails: to make lunch plans, to pass along funny notes or to occasionally make a cutting comment that would seem less appropriate if blurted out in the newsroom. We do this with text messages, too. Obviously.

Now that we’re such an e-mail friendly culture in the office world and beyond, some are starting to rethink our use of it. It used to just be a convenience. But is it a crutch?

A few months ago I got chastised by an editor for sending out an e-mail to the whole newsroom asking if anyone had Super Glue. I didn’t think twice about it because I figured it would be the quickest form of communication to fix a broken part of my cubicle.

The editor did not think so. He told me I should have gone around and individually asked my coworkers to find the sticky stuff because it would help me get to know them.

I see his point, but I wasn’t trying to avoid human contact. Granted, I would certainly not ask for something more important, like an organ donation or anything, over e-mail. But I have to wonder if I might know a few more people better if I wasn’t able to just send out questions like that to the masses.

What about this? When I was a freshmen at LSU I lived in a dorm. Every now and then, when my roommate and I would both be signed on to AIM we would actually send instant messages to each other from 10 feet away in the same room… Now this was usually as a joke, but it just goes to show how little two people who live together or across the hall or street would actually have to communicate verbally if they so chose.

On a freezing night like this, though, I might not cross the hall -- much less the street -- just to chat.

Any thoughts?

A call center in suburban Atlanta has actually institued a no e-mail rule for Fridays. Whoa. Sorry about this long link, but blogger's link function is not working correctly right now.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Say cheese

Here's some more pics of Link222 and fellow Times staffers glitzing it up at Tuesday night's inaugural ball:

The Times "Power Team": Rod Richardson, managing editor; Pete Zanmiller, publisher and Alan English, executive editor.

Link222 girls: Janelle, Ashley, Me (Donecia) and Stephanie with Mayor Cedric Glover.

Pic 1: Link222 members Adam, Janelle, Me(Donecia), Ashley and Joel with The Times pre-press manager Clarissa Harris.
Pic 2: Link222 with legendary Times journalist Margaret Martin a.k.a. "The Face of Scene & Heard."

Here's a quote from good ole Faulkner

Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner (1897-1962) gets a lot of credit for his fiction. Today I want to praise him for his philosophy.

Here's a quotation from him that was reprinted on the Nov. 29, 2006 entry of the First Amendment calendar from the Freedom Forum in Arlington, Va.

"Man is immortal... not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance."

Faulkner hits on what is most beautiful about us. As a crime reporter, I get to see and hear about the ugly side a lot. It's nice to have a reminder of what's good now and then.

This Southern master of the written word made this statement in 1950. If "Light in August" and his other works didn't show us, words like this should prove he really knew something about himself and the rest of us mere humans.

Dancing feet

I knew it was coming.
It had to.
There’s no way an inaugural ball for the first black mayor of a city can go by and not have it.
The electric slide.
As I was getting dressed I kept thinking, “I hope they play the electric slide. They have to play the electric slide.”
And they did. Here's Donecia, Ashley and I enjoying the line dance.

Why am I so hyped on the electric slide, also known to some as the Harlem shuffle? I mean, what other dance that came out more than 10 years ago can still be performed today with no shame? It’s a dance that everybody can do, regardless of how much rhythm and coordination they have.
I mean, the electric slide is like the universal family reunion dance. I thought it was very appropriate for the occasion of ushering in a new mayor and maybe a new beginning for the city.
I had a great time.
Most of Link222 got dressed up and headed out to the event, either for work or play. We mingled, we networked, we developed some sources and we even hit the dance floor.
The highlight of my night, other than the electric slide, was seeing our executive editor join the dancing crowd with moves only he could make work.

Welcome to office Mr. Mayor and thanks for throwing an awesome party - complete with my favorite dance.
Here are some other folks who showed their fancy footwork for Mayor Cedric Glover...

Last night ...

If you ever wonder what journalists are like after hours, today you'll see.
Many of us are dragging in this morning from last night's Inaugural Gala celebrating Shreveport's first black mayor Cedric Glover.
Shreveport got all dolled up, the food was plentiful and so were the drinks - if you had cash. And boy did everyone get down with their bad selves.
So, stay tuned. There's much more to come today, including posts and pics from last night's affair, along with our regular rants and anecdotes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All prettied up and no where to go but in a casket

A girl from Bossier City died in Memphis over the weekend.

She wasn't just any ol' regular girl either.

She was pretty.

And the news of her death has been all over the news in Memphis and in Shreveport. Maybe its because police think her husband may have killed her. Maybe it's because she makes another local person who the local community is having to grieve among the many soldiers, airmen, and other victims of random violence.

Or, maybe it's because she's a pretty girl.

At least that's how the people that knew her described her to me. When they remembered their lost friend, all of them said the same thing: "she was so pretty--a beautiful girl."

She was a beautiful, blond-haired girl with blue eyes. (Blond hair and blue eyes automatically makes you gorgeous, right?) She was a good student and had a winning personality, say those that knew her. She had a lot in common with me, we have the same name and we even have the same college major. She lived less than three hours away from my hometown. She even had the job of my childhood ambition.

But because people that look like me--dark, solid, reasonably attractive--die everyday I don't think I'd make news in Tennessee and Louisiana even though people say I've got a great personality and winning smile. My mom would even say I'm the most beautiful girl she's ever seen. I still don't think I'd make the news in both states, even if my non-existent husband bludgeoned me to death.

What does this say about us? What does it say about my job? Hundreds of people die everyday all over the country and very few of them make the news, let alone news in two states. Tamika Huston or LaDarius Smith and even Keshia Lewis get shot, killed, beaten, robbed, stabbed, bludgeoned and even come up missing daily. Where's the outcry for them? Where are the news articles with people remembering them? Where are the folks that say they're "beautiful" too?

Check this out for another perspective:

Think about it: Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, and now our friend here were all pretty folks. And guess what? They keep on making news.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In memoriam: Bebe Moore Campbell

I just stumbled across this in an email and am just floored. Shocked. Heartbroken. At the risk of sound like a tired cliche, Bebe Moore Campbell truly was one of my favorite writers.

I've read so many of her novels including "Your Blues Ain't Like Mine," "Singing in the Comeback Choir," and "Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad." However, it was in college when I first discovered her. I read "Brothers and Sisters" a fictional story set in the aftermath of the L.A. riots in the early 1990s that explores the internal and external struggles of several characters in corporate America who vary in race and class. I was immediately captivated by her ability to humanize each of these complex characters and how they were affected. It was that book that got me hooked on her novels.

When I wasn't reading her fiction, I was enjoying her stories and profiles of celebs in the pages of Essence magazine. I was even surprised to learn that she was a sorority sister of mine and that her daughter is the young actress Maia Campbell from the defunct sitcom "In the House."

I know it's a reality that people die everyday. However, it seems like we're suddenly losing a lot great ones at an alarming rate.

But maybe there's something that can be gained. If you haven't heard of Bebe Moore Campbell, this is as good a time as any to get familiar with her contributions to the literary world. Visit Amazon and check her out.

Til death us do us part?

OK, so I'm skimming the entertainment news and I come across this and all I have to say is "Are we really surprised?" Even the question feels redundant.

I honestly don't understand the machinations of Hollywood marriages and relationships. In fact, actually, to me Hollywood marriages see more comparable to real-world courtships/relationships at the rate many of these celebs seem to change out partners.

I mean, Pamela Anderson was only married to this dude for 4 months. They dated longer than that. And, honestly I could care less, but it's just always funny to me to see the formation of such unions and measure the length of time involved in their demise.
I mean, remember, this is the same couple who not only had one wedding ceremony, but decided to make it a traveling show of sorts, holding several more ceremonies around the globe. If that isn't a divorce in the making...

Anyway, to each its own. However, it is kind of baffling to me when folks like Pamela Anderson are able to continuously wear and discard marriage after marriage like the latest designer dress while some folks never even get the chance...

I know we don't have all the answers yet, but this story just doesn't leave a good taste in my mouth at all. And it's so heartbreaking. I mean can you imagine all the dreams, anticipation, preparation and celebration that went into their Big Day, only for it to end in a nightmare before it even began? What do y'all think? Is this another case of racial profiling and police brutality at its worst? Or do you think the police were merely protecting themselves? Or was it a wrong-place-wrong-time kinda thing? Who's at fault? I hope at least the family gets answers and soon.


The hard work is done. With much difficulty, I finished my 11 mile run yesterday (turkey must slow you down), and I'm ready for the real race. Saturday I will join thousands of other folks in the Memphis Half Marathon to run 13.1 miles.

It feels pretty good for this non-athlete to say that. I've got all my gear: just broken-in shoes, new leggings and a super-cool GPS watch (yes, my arm is connected to satellites). I'll do a couple of short runs this week, and then I'll tack on 2 miles to what I've already done. As a friend likes to say: "I can spit two miles."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Clearing my head to remember

Shreveport-Bossier City may not be quite the bustling scene that is, say, New York, Chicago or D.C. But roadwork, traffic and crazy holiday shopping are not reserved only for big cities.

That’s why I was so glad I got to kick back in rural, south Arkansas for Thanksgiving (and my birthday). And believe me, when the nearest town in the county is Smackover – I love this place, by the way – the greater Port City area will seem a lot bigger.

My mom’s side of the family gathered at my aunt and uncle’s camp at a gorgeous bend in the Ouachita River. The camp sits atop a bluff with a great view. You can only get there (by land, at least) by taking a narrow, gravel road through a hardwood forest. This is the kind of road where you have to creep along – say 15 mph – even in a truck or SUV.

Getting to and staying at this place is not for the impatient. Along with its isolation, you can’t drink the water from the pipes (so we carry it in) and cell phone reception is sketchy.

So we did what you should do at a camp: Told stories around a fire while eating potato casseroles and apple pies brought in from the outside world. You drink straight out of the can, which comes out of an ice chest. For me, there is nothing like being with my extended family of about 50. Even when we’re repeating stories that might have been retold to us for years and our parents for decades, they still feel vital.

We talk about how my great uncle used to help my grandmother sneak out of her mom’s house on Hawai’i (before it was a state) to meet my grandfather when they were both young. Or how my mother and her seven brothers and sisters used to sleep on pallets in the back of Papaw’s truck on long rides from northwest Louisiana to his West Texas hometown.

They might seem boring, but they’re about where we’re from. That helps make us who we are.

I often have a slight worry in the back of my mind that our generation will see the end of this kind of family connection. We’re so driven to get jobs and make more money that I feel like we lose sight of what’s really important.

But maybe I’m wrong. I mean, look at these blogs. They may not be quite like campfire gatherings, but they are stories. I hope they’re at least sometimes about significant stuff – the kind of stuff our parents and grandparents would want us to remember.

Now, if only we can get wireless Internet at the camp so I can write stuff like this from out there.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Trying to be better

The other day my friend and I were watching TV when we heard the news that six Muslims had been put off an airplane for praying.


Put off a plane for praying? What would happen in school board meetings in Bossier Parish if everyone were kicked out for praying? They wouldn't even be able to hold a meeting--no one would be there, except for me.

My friend cheered when he heard the news. "That's right," he said. "If I'd been on the plane I would have wanted them off too. I would have thought they were planning to bomb the plane."

I sat and stared at him quietly. I didn't know how I really felt about the situation. "Don't people of that faith pray seven times per day?" I asked him. He said it didn't matter. He'd be suspicious.

"I'm stereotyping," he yelled. "And I'm black. I know it's bad but the world is too messed up to take chances."

If put in the same situation as those folks on the plane, I hoped I wouldn't act that way. I hoped I'd be understanding. Cultured. Considerate. Compassionate. But would I?

My friend, who is terrified to travel to New York, thought it was no different than what some people do to him. When they see him on the street ladies clutch their purses and lock their doors. And, he's a businessman. But some folks still get scared when they see his tall, black, figure.

He said, "If you went to Walmart at night and saw six or seven black men with their pants hanging down, you'd park on the other end of the lot and go into the entrance furthest away from them. If you saw a bunch of praying Muslims hanging around a Walmart at night you'd park your car and go in with no thoughts about it.

"Change the situation," he said.

"If a group of black men had their pants sagging in an airport, you would keep it moving. You wouldn't worry about them. But if you saw a bunch of them hanging around an airport, praying you would start crying and get scared."

I told him I wouldn't do that.

He called me a liar.

Maybe I am. I don't know. But I'm going to try to not feel that way. It's not fair.

My grandmama says you can find out a person's true character when put in compromising situations. My friend would have flipped out if he were on that plane. I guess his character is that of a racist.

I sure hope mine isn't.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A sign of the times

It's almost noon here in Alexandria, Va. and I've already wished every last one of my friends well this Thanksgiving without talking to any of them. How? Through the wonderfully convenient text messaging tool on my cell phone.

Around 10 a.m. my phone started vibrating on the bed side table about every 15 minutes, indicating I had a new text message. I got messages that ranged from "Happy Thanksgiving, I miss ya'll." to "Are you ready for Black Friday?"

I know some people feel that things like text messaging and e-mail aren't personal and take something away from the human experience. I don't think so. I guess you have to balance it out. I sent a text message to about 15 of my friends, but there are some of my best friends that I'll be sure to call before the day is through.

How many of ya'll sent out text messages today?

So, on to the turkey. And if I haven't sent you a text already...readers, fellow the words of my nephews Elijah and Bryan, "Happy Turkey Day!"

On a side note: I want to send a happy birthday shout-out to fellow blogger/co-worker/friend Adam Kealoha Causey! Happy 24th!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The real reason to be thankful

Well, it’s 5:51 p.m. and like a miracle that takes place only a few times a year, the newsroom is silent.
Or, rather, it’s as close to silent as it will ever be in this place at this time of day, on any given day.
Most of us have already begun the long trek home either by plane, car or just a few minutes away.
The remainder of us - three reporters, and about six copy desk staffers and editors - are still sitting here, still pecking away on the typewriter, still editing copy and still making those last-minute phone calls.
Some will be returning to work tomorrow to tell y’all all of the action that popped off on Thanksgiving Day. (Yeah, it’s the only day of the year that someone choking on a turkey leg might be considered for 1A.)
But anyway, as we all said our goodbyes, many of us took a moment to reflect on the many things we’re thankful for.
Sure, there’s the little stuff like life and health, and I mean family and friends are nice too, but there’s nothing like DVR, PlayStation 3, a week-old piece of pie that still looks fresh, or even finding an old pair of jeans you can still fit from 10 years ago to remind of you the important things in life to be thankful for.
So read below to see what we at Link222 are especially grateful for this year:

“For the third time in my life, I get to celebrate my birthday on Thanksgiving! It's great to hear Granny say that sweet potato pie is, oh yeah, also Adam's birthday cake. I mean, how can you compete with holiday about gratefulness?

But in a real winning move, I did tie for second place in The Times newsroom's potluck competition. I made my mom's potato casserole. I was tempted to give an acceptance speech. Instead, I quietly accepted my passes to Regal Cinemas!”
-Adam Causey

“I am thankful for having loud, obnoxious, bossy, and confrontational co-workers with whom I can report and blog. I am also thankful that I haven’t gained 20 pounds of fat this week while going from home to home and desk to desk searching for holiday goodies! But I am most thankful that I have the whole world for which to share what I am thankful for (sarcasm) :D.”
-Ashley Northington

“I’m thankful for straightening irons, keyless entry, alarm clocks backed up by batteries and a host of other things that make my life easier.”
-Diane Haag

“I'm thankful that I have been unleashed from the police scanner for the holiday and will get to spend half of my time off enduring the frustration, hustle and bustle of holiday travel. Yay!

On a serious note, I'm thankful that my youngest nephew Elijah, 4, was released from the hospital Tuesday after he went in with a high fever and really bad headaches. (I'd be even more thankful if doctors could figure out why he gets these high fevers and has had to make trips to the emergency room two other times before.)”
-Janelle Rucker

“I’m thankful to once again claim the seat next to my grandmother at the Thanksgiving table. Nana’s always full of life and fun, but you have to keep a watchful eye on your plate. She’s not bashful about taking the turkey right off your plate to feed her black and white spotted Shih Tzu Cookie. I know where I stand in the family ranks and that’s what I’m most thankful for.”
-Stephanie Netherton

“I’m thankful just knowing that my fantasy boyfriend John Legend will performing just hours away in Dallas and Houston this Friday and Saturday, respectively. I’m also happy to have two copies of his latest CD (and two copies of his first CD, not to mention his earlier recordings) to cling on to in case it’s the closest I get to seeing him perform this weekend. I'm glad that, thanks to my sister, I will be taste John Legend's special recipe for mac and cheese that he made on the Martha Stewart show. And most of all, I’m thankful that I’ll always have the memories of his first two concerts I attended last year. I love you John Legend!

I’m also happy to be filing my final business brief and story for the day with only visions of turkey and dressing, banana pudding and sweet potato pie – instead of deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines – dancing in my head for the rest of the week!

And even though my family will be experiencing one of the weirdest Thanksgiving Day settings ever - in a hospital room visiting my grandma who’s still looking fabulous and on her way to feeling that way too – I’m so thankful that it will be, once again, a day we will all share together.”
-Donecia Pea

“I’m thankful that it's football and not baseball season during the Thanksgiving holidays.

I’m thankful that the Houston Texans didn’t draft the highly overrated Reggie Bush.

I’m thankful that my girlfriend brought me into the 21st Century and bought me an iPod Nano, TiVo and Sirius Satellite Radio. She also bought me a book by one of my favorite pop culture critics, Chuck Klosterman.

And, in all seriousness, I’m thankful for the opportunity to live in a place like Shreveport-Bossier City. The people, more than the place, have made it a wonderful experience.”
-Joel Anderson

Happy Thanksgiving E’erybody!

Grown and Sexy, No. 1

To the fans of Link 222 or people who stop by just to take anonymous pot shots at the blog:

This is the debut of a weekly feature on the blog, somewhat childlishly dubbed "Grown & Sexy." Every week, we'll feature some of Shreveport-Bossier City’s most “desirable” young professionals, both men and women, on the blog. We plan to rotate weekly between the men’s and women’s picks, running the item on Wednesdays.

There’s not much of a selection process here. Just whenever one of us sees someone who would make a good G&S model and we happen to have a digital camera, we'll take their picture and a few notes.

Here's our first victim, er, choice. I met Melissa Dameworth through mutual friends, particularly since she used to work here at The Times. Unfortunately for us - particularly me, she's moved on to a better-paying job with better hours. But we still think a lot of her in here. Certainly, I do.

Name: Melissa Dameworth.
Age: 30.
Hometown: I claim Albuquerque, N.M., but I was a military brat.
Occupation: Financial Aid Counselor at Louisiana State University-Shreveport.
Relationship status: Engaged.
What's your sign? Cancer.
If I Had A Superpower, it would be ... the ability to mind read. I think that would be an interesting power to possess.
My dream vacation would be ... to spend a few months traveling around Europe-Spain, Italy and Greece in particular.
How does a guy get your attention? I'm impressed by a man with tenacity. A man who isn't afraid to approach me on his own and hold a conversation with me is going to get my attention. If he has to send in his wingman to establish contact with me, then he shouldn't even bother.
Reality Show You'd Want To Be On: I think it would be fun to compete on one of the Real World-Road Rules Challenges because they get to compete in a variety of crazy physical and mental events.
If I'm on a deserted island, I'd have to take ... food. I don't want to have to hunt and gather my food.
Favorite Cereal ... Right now it's Raisin Bran Crunch.
I've Never Been Able To Say No To ... New Mexican food. I love it!
On a Saturday night, I'll Be ... going to dinner and a movie with my fiancé.
I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for ... my mom and dad. They are both retired from the Air Force and we moved a lot during my childhood. It's made me into a person who can adapt very easily to new people, environments and cultures.
My best friend would say that I am ... loyal, fun and like a sister to her.
Favorite childhood memory: I have so many... but we moved to Germany when I was in 5th grade and my sister was in 4th. Our house was three stories and she and I used to ride down the stairs in my mom's laundry basket. I remember getting in trouble for breaking the laundry basket, but we had fun.
If I had one more hour in the day, I would ... jog. It's already getting dark by the time I get home from work and I'm not interested in joining a gym, so I don't get to get outside and work out very often.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Richards has forever tainted memory of Kramer

My heart sunk and my stomach churned a little when I listened to Michael Richards racist rant taped at the Laugh Factor in West Hollywood. I heard reports on what Richards, who played the popular character Kramer on "Seinfeld," said this morning. But when I watched the video for myself, I was sickened.

Part of being a stand-up comic is being heckled. I've seen comedians fire back at audience members and it's just uncomfortable for everyone else. After all, we go to comedy shows to laugh. Richards, as a long-time professional, should have been able to handle the hecklers. Instead, he fires off the "n-word" over and over again and with enthusiasm remarks about a time when blacks were victims of civil rights abuses.

Since the outburst, Richards has apologized saying the attack was fueled by anger and not bigotry.

"For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," Richards said during a satellite appearance for David Letterman's "Late Show" in New York.

As much as I love "Seinfeld" and Richards' character, Kramer, this changes everything. In this day and age, there really is no reason for such comments.

Times columnist Monica Carter also wrote about the incident, which you can read in Wednesday's Times. Or watch the video at your own risk, at

Happy Birthday to me

Today marks 28 years of life for me. 28. That's like a no-kidding, real responsible adult. Crazy.

You know who's really cool?

Jay-Z is cool. Really cool. Probably cooler than Miles Davis, who might have invented the concept of being cool in the early 1950s.

Today, Jay-Z released his ninth hip-hop album, "Kingdom Come" after a self-imposed, two-year retirement. And while it's a subpar album - by his standards, of course (it would be a masterpiece for someone like Lil' Boosie), Jay-Z could probably care less.

Maybe he got bored of directing the careers of no-names like Memphis Bleek and Freeway.. Maybe there's only so many times you can vacation in St. Tropez. Maybe he's really inspired by the challenge of knocking dudes like Unk from the top of the rap charts.

Or maybe he just likes making music, and doing so allows him to make guest appearances in the "Monday Night Football" booth like he did last night. That's cool.

He's the third-best selling rap artist of all time (behind 2Pac and Eminem), makes the kind of money that would have kept Hammer out of bankruptcy, owns part of the NBA's New Jersey Nets and gets to see Beyonce naked semi-regularly. That's really cool.

This is where I find myself feeling like a 13-year-old loser again, like Kevin Arnold in "Wonder Years." I like to think of myself as cool, but judged against Jay-Z standards, I might as well be the Screech to his Zack Morris. If its even that close.

This is inherently a sad thing. Being cool shouldn't be an issue now that I'm 28, but who am I kidding: everything I do is aimed at being considered cool. From the clothes I wear, to the furniture in my apartment, to the gym shorts I recently bought that hang to my shins, to the four-door sedan I bought in 2003. Cool is important, not just to me, but also to you.

Anyway, here's the point of all this rambling: who's the coolest person that you can think of? I mean a celebrity, too, not your 40-year-old uncle who still goes to Black-Eyed Peas concerts and drives an Escalade.

Someone asked me this a few years ago - very seriously, I might add - and I said Michael Jordan. But having seen him come out of retirement to play with the Washington Wizards and his corny Fruit of the Loom ads, I'm now ashamed that I ever thought that.

So, for me, it's Jay-Z. Long live the Hov. What about you?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stay tuned...This is not a test

It's been four days.
That's right four...whole... days...since we've talked on here.
No, it's not because we've abandoned this ship. Nor is it because this was just another one of those fun experiments that has begun to wane. (Much to our critics dismay I'm sure.)
And it's not because we don't have anything to say, because BELIEVE ME, there's plenty on all of our minds right now.

The main reason it's been so long since any of us have posted on here is because, believe it or not, we have lives. Very, very, VERY busy ones.
Like at this very moment, all you'll see around here is the frantic pace of folks trying to cram in five days of phone calls, interviews, photo assignments, stories, etc. into two or three days.
It's stress in the worst way because, unlike schools or businesses that shut down for a week or two during the holidays - this baby is a 24/7 operation.

That means even though some of us are preparing to fly, or drive home in a day or two and be off for maybe a day or two (if we're lucky) the news still goes on. The stories still have to be there for you all to read or sit your food on top of on Thanksgiving Day.

We're just like the name of one of my favorite po-boy stops in New Orleans - We never close.
But the good thing is since we're always here, that means we will be back. Sooner than you think.

So don't abandon us - keep checking us out daily, heck, hourly for that matter.
We're planning on delivering some fun (and funny) treats to tide you through the holidays and beyond.

And if you got a problem with it - let us know! We LOVE feedback (yes, even the mean, anonymous kind!)

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

See Janelle in action!

Just in case you wonder if we just sit around at a computer all day long... check out this photo of Janelle!

She'd be the first person squatting and holding up a camera on the right. This is at the groundbreaking ceremony for Safety Town today. (Thanks to the Caddo Sheriff's Office for the pic.)

Check out her story tomorrow!

Now I know some of you have some thoughts on Safety Town, too. So tell us!

Blue Man for Valentine's Day... sort of

Come on. You know you are ready to see the Blue Man Group in February at the CenturyTel Center splashing paint all over the place and beating on trash cans. Maybe they could fill the whole joint with toilet paper for us to dance in!

Now that would be some Valentine's date.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No Planes, Just Trains and Automobiles

I usually take Clyde Fant Pkwy. into our offices here at 222 Lake St. and lately it seems like I always come up against a freight train on the Commerce St. tracks.
As you know from an earlier post, I’m not the most patient when behind the wheel and today I was running late for work so I was really on edge.
So instead of getting off the parkway at Lake I continue on down to Milam, where I’m usually able to get across. Nope.
I sat there for a minute before turning around and going further down Clyde Fant to Market Street.
Imagine my dismay, anger and complete irritation to find the beginning of the train just making its way across the tracks through the construction site of the new hotel.
I sat there for 15-20 min while the train slowly, oh so slowly, made its way across the intersection.

Note: I do see how my impatience worked against me here…had I just waited at Lake or Milam, I would have been able to make it to my destination a little quicker.

Anywho, what’s the deal?! It seems like the train tracks run across many major roadways in this city.
Market, Lake, Milam, W. 70th at its intersection with Hearne Ave. Also in Benton Road, Airline Drive and Texas Street in Bossier City.
It’s craziness. So if you miss a train on one route, you’re sure to catch it on another.

Via Bossier City P.I.O. Mark Natale, I found out that freight train companies don’t communicate with city officials as to the comings, goings or stoppings of their trains. He said Bossier City Police Chief Mike Halphen has even tried to talk with them about changing their schedule so as not to come through the city during rush hour. He got no response.

It seems that the railroad tracks and the trains that use them are just a part of Shreveport living. So, I’ll continue to be impatient and race to beat the train, keeping my fingers crossed that someone will try to find a solution to a problem that is felt by many in the community.

Confessions of a 27-year-old dinosoar

I may be risking my job by admitting this, but technology does not excite me.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm no Luddite. I appreciate the convenience and communication that has come with modern life: cell phones so I can connect with friends at a crowded festival, the Internet so I can keep track of news around the country, PDAs with my whole life in one convenient gadget. But that's not what gets me up in the morning.

I like people. I enjoy meeting face to face with a person, hearing their stories and telling them. That's what gets me excited to come to work.

But the news business is changing, and my "need to know" approach to technology is about to get kicked up a notch. Telling stories doesn't mean just a notebook anymore. It might be digital recorders, a still camera or a video camera. I'm sure I can learn the skills, and we as a newspaper already told some pretty cool video stories that never would have worked in print. It's just a little overwhelming.

Please tell me I'm not the only one...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pimping Jesus

Tis the season…to pimp Jesus.
Is it just me or does it seem like every year retail promotion of Christmas starts earlier and earlier?

I understand that businesses have to make money and owners will manipulate whatever they have to to make said business successful. And what event can make more money than the start of the school season and regular sale events put together? The birth of Jesus.

I was just in some malls and stores last weekend and they were playing Christmas songs and had decorations all over the place.
For that matter, if you drive down any downtown street you can see holiday decorations just waiting to be lit.

For once, I’d like to get through Halloween before hearing Christmas carols, seeing holiday advertisements and decorations.

What would Jesus say if he were here today?
I know I can’t speak with any type of authority on this, but I think to celebrate His birth, He’d rather we do something priceless like get along, stop the wars, help others…see where I’m going with this?
How does me getting a new pair of boots and a digital camera celebrate the day Christ was born?

Am I thinking too much into this?

Also, are businesses the only ones at fault or are they simply supplying what we as consumers demand?

Census Bureau reports the obvious again

Looking at the staggering differences in income and education between whites and minorities is certainly a significant issue, but since when is that anything new?

The U.S. Census Bureau has just reported gaps in salaries, diplomas and degrees, but when is this going to change? More specifically, who's going to change it?

Race matters to me and a lot of other people. It defines who we are and often who we hang around. But when do we really become WE?

When does motivating young, black men to finish high school become important enough to middle-aged white dads to do something about it? Or how about a black teacher learning Spanish to communicate with a Hispanic student's parents? Why is it always someone else's problem?

Obviously, parents or other responsible adults in young people's lives aren't doing something to change things.

I get tired of reading the same reports, too, but I think we have to do something to make them change. Ideas please?

I'm independent but I can't change a tire

I was driving Sunday, enjoying the sunny skies and listening to Ryan Adams when my car started to wobble. At first, I thought it was just the wind tugging my vehicle back and forth across the road. But then I was hit with that feeling of dread -- I had a flat tire.

There's not really any good spot to pull over on Interstate 20, but I found a little cubby and parked. I did what any hometown girl would do in case of an emergency and called my brother. Chris, familiar with my damsel in distress routine, seemed a little irritated but hurried over to fix my flat.

I have to admit, I know there are nuts to unscrew and a jack you have to lift your car up with, but beyond that I'm just left scratching my head. I had to retrieve the instruction book just to find the tools. Then there's the whole issue of what you do once you've found them. I consider myself to be extremely independent, but when it comes to fixing tires or moving furniture I'm helpless. I figure this is why I was blessed with two brothers and no sisters.

Now, $440 and four new tires later I'm a little bitter about life's unpredictable moments. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not really at the point in my life where giving up $440 doesn't sting just a little bit, especially around the holidays. Looks like I better find a good recipe for fruit cake.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

One last look at the week that was ...

As I get ready to face a new week, I can't help but reflect on the events of last week.
I mean wow, what a week of historical proportions.
There was the good news (at least as I see it):
Shreveport made history by electing its first black mayor. The Dems took back Congress. Nancy Pelosi became the first woman speaker of the House ever, making her third in line as president in case something ever happened to Bush or Cheney. Massachusetts elected only the second black governor ever in American history. And all of this was literally in one day. Wow.

Then there was the bad:
Longtime, trailblazing journalist Ed Bradley died of complications from leukemia. Man, I didn't even know he was sick. I still remember seeing him in person about six years ago. I was a senior at Dillard University and a group of us mass com students flew to D.C. to attend Howard University's annual mass communications fair. Bradley and Mike Wallace were two of three panelists at this CBS workshop. To see the same man I'd grown up watching on television since I was a little girl was just simply incredible.
I remember he was so intelligent, yet chill, laid back and even had a sense of humor throughout the panel discussion. I came out of that brief experience with even more admiration and respect for him than the huge amount I already had. What a loss.

R&B lovers like myself are still reeling from the sudden death of R&B crooner Gerald Levert, son of O'Jays singer Eddie Levert. I realize many of you out there probably don't even know who he is. I mean, it's not like his death has gotten much national mainstream press beyond BET, which I find simply amazing and somewhat offensive, considering this man had a 20-year career in the business that included many R&B hits like "Casanova," "Just Coolin'" "Baby Hold On To Me" and I literally could go on and on and on. But like I said, real R&B lovers for sure knew who he was and ultimately that's all that matters anyway. Not only was he a vocal powerhouse, but he represented for the grown and sexy plus-size men out there. And what fan out there can ever forget the energy and fiery passion he put into his performances?

Next, to complete the set, (because you know celebs always die in threes) there was death of longtime actor Jack Palance. I'm just really clueless right now as to who he was, especially considering that he was 80-something and the only thing I'm familiar with that he was in is "City Slickers," but still I'm sure it's a huge loss for his fans all the same.

It's still hard to believe all of this drama popped off in just one week. It kinda makes you wonder "Gee, what in the world could happen next?" Still not sure if I want to know the answer ... I think I'll just wait and see.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shameless promotion

Janelle and I got the surprise of our blog lives recently: Johnny Q. Public actually knew about Link 222.

Granted, our new pal Goodwin thought the name was Link 122… but man, it was kind of exciting to find out people are reading this with basically no advertising so far.

We met Goodwin at Stray Cat (which also happens to be located at a 222 address) through my dear little (but grown) sister. She told him we were Times reporters and he immediately asked if we blogged on … “122 or whatever it's called.”

But we knew what he meant. (Goodwin also thought it important to remind everyone Hootie and the Blowfish is playing at Sam's Town next Friday, Nov. 17.)

Thanks, Goodwin. Keep reading, and tell your friends!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

That's amore... or more, eh

I had the good fortune today of eating at what I would say are two of Shreveport-Bossier's best Italian restaurants, AND someone else paid! (And no, I'm not ashamed of that as a just-out-of-college twentysomething. I've got plenty of years ahead to buy my own and others' meals.)

The first was on The Times' bill, since I got take a job interviewee to lunch. And it was at Olive Street Bistro. I had the spinach-stuffed cannelloni, and I have to say it was delicious. I'm a fan of almost anything with cheese and the non-contaminated green stuff, but it was really a great combination with the tangy tomato sauce.

Then tonight, I got a surpise call from my parents to meet them at L'Italiano Restaurant in Bossier City. This one seems kind of lost on people on the west side of the river, I guess it's because it's in that foreign place we call Bossier and it's not a chain... Anyhow, since I was still stuffed like cannelloni from lunch (and I am a busy night crime reporter), I just scarfed a piece of tiramisu. It was excellent. (Another nice surprise: my aunt and uncle were there and they footed the bill.)

So I love Italian food, but is it really a good idea for a (somewhat) health-conscious guy like myself to eat it twice in one day? Would you? And anybody out there got thoughts on these restaurants?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To speed date or not

I have about an hour to decide if I'm going to a speed dating event tonight. It sounds like fun -- or funny, I should say -- but I'm thinking no.

Clearly, the event would yield itself to a good laugh or two, but I get the feeling Shreveport is too small for something like this. I can just imagine sitting through an evening of five-minute dates only to end up sitting across the table from an ex-boyfriend. Or even worse, one of my dad's friends!

The concept of getting to knowing whether or not you like someone in five-minutes is ridiculous, but it may save me some heartache and time wasted. Usually it takes me five months to take an ax to the relationship. Knocking 4 months, 3 weeks, 6 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes off my typical rejection cycle could be convenient and beneficial.

Umm ...

OK, Michael Jackson is undoubtedly, inarguably the King of Pop. I'll give him that.
Though many have tried (i.e. Usher, Justin Timberlake, heck let's even throw in Chris Brown.) nobody can match his show-stopping dancing skills. I'll for sure give him that. And even despite the embattled star's terrible fall from grace and inexplicable, physical metamorphosis, he was getting on up there in age anyway and well, we'll always have his hits to jam to.

In other words, sitting out for a minute really didn't seem like a bad idea to me.

So, upon reading this today, my first reaction was: Ummm, I don't know, Michael... I just don't know...

What do y'all think? Is a comeback really possible at this point?

By the way, bump all that weirdness that he's become now, this is the Michael Jackson, the one of MY childhood, that I'll always remember:

Granddaddy Fields would be proud

My great-grandfather was a smooth-talker and a lady killer with his large frame, light brown eyes, and dark skin.

He lived poorly and barely finished high school. He went to the Air Force and was worldly, proud, funny, and hardworking. He also smoked incessantly. But Carl Edward Fields was more than just my crazy-acting, cigarette-smoking granddaddy--he was also a genius, a Nashville activist who called me on my 18th birthday to remind me of the importance of voting.

He told me that I'd better exercise my right to vote because too many people, especially black people, don't. He emphasized the importance of black votes and told me that it was my job to care about the issues. He told me that he and too many other people before him had died, fought, and struggled to gain this simple right and it should not be taken lightly.

He said, "If you don't vote, you can't complain. Everyone can make a difference."

And now after years and years of blacks not voting in Shreveport, they came out in record numbers to elect the city's first black mayor, Cedric B. Glover.

That's a big change for this city.

Nobody thought Glover would win because the ideology in Shreveport is that blacks don't vote, whites do vote, and blacks and whites only vote for skin color. Therefore Glover wouldn't win.

But he did. By over 4,000 votes. And blacks and whites voted together for who they thought was best to lead the city. According to voting precints, blacks came out in record numbers to vote when they hadn't before. An 88-year-old woman cast her vote Tuesday for the first time in her life.


My grandfather would be proud of Shreveport.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CNN no news updates

CNN Breaking News: "Britney Spears files for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline, citing irreconcilable differences."

First of all, didn't we all know that was coming? And secondly, since when does that (I refuse to call it "news") deserve to be urgently shipped to my inbox with headlines such as Saddam Hussein's death sentence or a plane crash in New York? Last I checked, Britney is a used-to-be pop star and her husband was only famous for being Britney's husband.

Every day young men and women give their lives in Iraq and that never makes it to my inbox.

Need a sample ballot?

Click here for Shreveport candidate profiles and links to other local election stories and polls. There is also a funny cartoon of Jerry Jones, Cedric Glover, Liz Swaine and David Wright, who drew them.

Don't remember what the eight amendments are about? Click here for short descriptions and the The Times editorial board's predictions for today's elections.

And here's a cool special report on the growing importance of young voters. That'd be you!

Polls close at 8 p.m.! Now go get on it!

Walk this way, shop this way?

Man, weather like yesterday just really makes you want to stay bundled up under some covers. The last thing you feel like doing is getting up early on your supposed vacation day to go stand in the rain, which is exactly what I did.

I admit, it was my fault. That's what I get for being so freakin' nosEy (that spelling is for Joel who insists that the correct spelling for nosey is actually 'nosy.' But ahhh, according to American Heritage Dictionary, I'M RIGHT!) Anyway, skipping half of a vacation day to voluntarily get the scoop on the latest retail coming to southeast Shreveport just made sense to me at the time. I mean I LOVE being the first to know stuff and then telling it. That's just how I am. It's why I RUSH to get the CD the day it comes out. (Yes, I still buy CDs!) Or, if I'm lucky, I'll magically have a burned copy of it BEFORE it comes out. To sum it up, I just like to know stuff and I like to know it first. But yesterday morning, as my alarm was going off waaaaay too early in the a.m. and I heard the heavy downpour, I wondered what in the world was I thinking?!

Anyway, so if you read the paper today, you saw we're getting a DSW Shoes, possibly a Borders bookstore (yeah, like Youree Drive really needed another one of those) and a host of chain restaurants that we've heard of forever, but never been able to get to without traveling at LEAST 3 hours away to Dallas or some other major city.

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping for something a little more in retail offerings like, I don't know, maybe a major clothing store like Urban Outfitters or something. But the shoe store is definitely a gain because we just do NOT have enough of those in this town at all.

As someone who's from here, went away to college and basically lived in New Orleans for 4 years and returned after graduation, I have to admit, this place has definitely grown when it comes to retail, but I still think we've got room for more.

This is what I scratch my head about though and lately, I've heard alot of people ask the same thing: Why is all the retail growth in Shreveport mainly going to southeast Shreveport instead of other areas? What do y'all think about it?

Two words

Go vote.

Find your polling place. Drive there. Exercise your constitutional right and moral duty to have a say in your government.

Especially in Shreveport, the mayor's election is extremely relevant to young adults. Both Cedric Glover and Jerry Jones have talked about what they would do to keep us here. Check it out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ten miles

I was never an athlete of any sort. But yesterday, under beautiful sunny skies along the river I ran TEN MILES! It took me nearly two hours, but physically, I felt pretty good when I was done. And mentally, it's a huge hurdle. I know this sounds like shameless, self-congratulations -- it is to some extent. But it's also to say if I can do it, anyone can.

Four weeks to go before the half marathon in Memphis, and I actually think I'll be able to handle it, no problem.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sunny skies...

Man, I've figured out my favorite thing about Shreveport so far - the weather.
I love it.
I talk to my friends back in Ohio and Virginia/Maryland and they've been dealing with Old Man Winter pretty consistently already.
I didn't know how I was going to deal with a place that residents warned only has one season, but it hasn't been that bad. Though it did get pretty hot this summer, it has cooled off without getting too cold. But I will admit, there were a few days last week that had me wondering if I was back up north.
I guess I'll have to wait to see what weather winter brings, but for now it's gorgeous outside...sunny, kind of warm, a slight breeze...what am I doing in here on this computer?
Hope everyone's enjoying their day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The price of being an adult

Today I signed up for my job's insurance. Since I moved from Nashville to Shreveport, my insurance providers naturally changed. I thought it would be no big deal.

I was wrong.

My insurance costs doubled. Literally. Instead of paying $30, I'll now be paying $60 for the same type of medical insurance. And, this isn't a once a month deal. This is $60 every two weeks--for one person! I'm not married. I don't have kids and I don't even smoke OR have any diseases.

What's the deal?

And on top of all of that, my parents call themselves teaching me to be responsible. What does that mean? I've been responsible my whole life. I've always been responsible enough not to do anything too stupid and I know how to get myself out of a jam. I graduated from college, with honors no doubt, and even got my own apartment and bought my own furniture too. But recently my parents made me start paying my own cellphone bill. I didn't mind that much, it was my phone. They had also paid for two cars of mine. I got my mom's hand-me-down Nissan Sentra when I turned 15 and when I graduated from high school they bought me the somewhat sporty Ford Escort ZX2. They even paid for my car insurance. I was so thankful for their generosity--I thought it would never end.

But, as many folks know Fords aren't the best cars. Mine broke down many times and eventually had me on the side of the road in tears. I started lobbying for a new vehicle to my parents. They weren't biting. They told me, "the next car you get you'll buy it."

That's fair, right? I figured if I bought a car, they'd still pay my insurance, right? Wrong again, Ashley. So in July, right before my 23rd birthday I had the pleasure of buying my first brand new car (I'll never buy another brand new car, the deprecation value is insane) and it marked the start of me paying my own insurance. Crappy.

My car note is around 320 and my car insurance is around 110. My cell phone bill costs an average of $70 (unless I get too chatty). That's $500 bucks my parents just got out of paying and shifted to me, on top of the $30 increase in insurance. It's amazing how I'm expected to pay all of this and have a life. My mom says I'm being a responsible adult. I say it sucks-my expenses increasing $560 in a matter of months. Who knew life would be this hard?

My dad always said I look back on my childhood years and wish I was a kid again. I thought he was out of his mind, but boy he was sure right.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Would you live at a 666 address?

The address gods must really frown on such things.

My reason for asking is sort of cheating, I guess. I just came across a 6666 address on a Shreveport street. A co-worker tells me the fourth 6 probably cancels out the evil powers of the other three.

I realize home owners probably don't get to pick the actual digits in their address, but I think I'd have to look on another street or beg the city to renumber my plot.

Either way, the multitude of 6s is just kind of creepy.

Why do I even care? I suppose because when I was little, my family's P.O. box was 777, and I thought that was so cool. But any address (especially a lucky one like that) would be better than any combo of the triple 6!

Cable as a means of communism

Not to be a shill or anything, but I love my DirecTV. Really.

As such, there's really no good reason for me to be forced to switch cable TV services simply because my apartment has formed an evil alliance with some cable company called Sudden Link (apparently, it's the descendant of Cox or something).

With the lease at my Bossier apartment complex coming to an end on Nov. 1, I was informed that to re-sign, I'd have to agree to a rent increase of $80 a month to include the costs of cable and Internet access.

Now, I don't have to actually use these services but I do have to pay for them - of course, each of them are more expensive that the services I get through DirecTV and Bellsouth. And, on a journalist's salary, I can't afford to pay for two separate cable services. This is a problem.

And this, my friends, is akin to a form of communism: all of us subject to weekday nights without ESPN Classic, MTV2 or TVOne as a means of social control.

So, if you're interested, help me rise up against this mighty political force that is threatening my TV-viewing habits in Bossier. Preserve my right to have a satellite on my 2nd-floor balcony.
How can a guy get by on Wednesday nights without a replay of the 1985 Michigan-Ohio State game?

If you don't agree with me, not only are you wrong but you're a commie.

You be the judge

OK, I don't know if it's because I'm a journalist, naturally observant, just plain ol' bored or what, but I often have my own theories about certain things in life.
One of my latest theories involve two celebrities that seemingly have no connection at all, but if you just took a moment and looked at them together, the answer is obvious.

What in the world am I talking about? Well, think about those movies or TV shows where every person has a twin somewhere in another part of the country or even a whole 'nother country. Like The Patty Duke Show. (Ok, I know I took it back with that one.) Or even Sister Sister. (Think about the premise: Twins separated at birth who didn't didn't even know the other existed until they were brought together by chance.)

Where in the world am I going with this? OK, here it is. After much observation, thought and consideration one day I had an epiphany: "GGGG-UNIT!" rapper Lloyd Banks and UK pop/R&B sensation Craig David (You may remember him for that annoying song that for some reason was a hit several years ago "Can You Fill Me In?") are half-brothers, cousins to say the least.

I've known this for some time and although my colleague and Lloyd Banks aficionado Janelle completely disagrees with my theory, I know it's true. But to end this argument, why don't you all be the judge:

(NOTE:Pic 1=Lloyd; Pic 2=Craig)
Exhibit A

If that doesn't convince you, keep scrolling ...
Exhibit B

Coincidence? I think not.

Finally Exhibit C

Come on, admit it - it's uncanny.

Yea for the time change!

I know it happened over the weekend, but this morning was the first day in weeks that I ran outside and could actually see the sidewalk. This is critical since the sidewalks in my neighborhood are dangerously uneven in places. Better yet, cars on the road could see me!

It almost made up for having to get out my gloves and headband.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Now I'm Adult-ish

After using everything from milk crates to rickety wooden tables to prop up my TV, I now have an entertainment center. It involved a trek to IKEA in Dallas that has been eight months in the making, but I finally have some “adult” furniture.

Hopefully, the days of borrowed and donated hideously ugly hand-me-downs for my apartment are over. My couch came from some girl in Texas, my armchair from my dad, my kitchen table from my grandparents. But even those things are relatively new additions. When I interned in South Carolina, I didn’t own a TV, I slept on an air mattress in the living room for awhile and I put my computer on the cheapest desk I could find at the dreaded Walmart. Visitors had to sit on my stylish blue camp chair, complete with cup holder and foot rest, the replacement for the one I think the neighbors stole on my first day in town after I let it sit outside for too long. But that’s another story...

Surely y’all people understand where I’m coming from. Everybody knows that person with nothing in their living room but a stereo and/or a TV sitting on floor and a mattress without a box spring stuffed in the corner of the bedroom. Or maybe that person is you.

Slowly but surely I’ll replace the couch, chair, etc. with stuff that I like, but right now I’m happy with the entertainment center. Besides, I have a string of colored Christmas lights permanently strung up in the living room, a blue lava lamp in front of the window and I still eat Ramen noodles from time to time.

I guess I’ll never be, and really don’t want to be, your typical “adult.” But if you don’t mind, I’ll look at my entertainment center and pretend from time to time.

Adult Abstinence?

Apparently, 90 percent of unmarried young adults have had sex. No real surprise there, but it's now raising some eyebrows in church and government circles.

1. The Barna Group, an evangelical Christian research group, studied the moral attitudes of folks in their 20s and 30s and compared it to Baby Boomers and older adults. On the not surprising level, it found that younger people find more activities (such as cohabitation and sex outside of marriage) to be morally acceptable than older adults. More telling though, were the statistics about born-again Christians. For instance 59 percent of "born again" young adults said its OK for unmarried couples to live together, while 33 percent of older born again Christians agreed. Study Director David Kinnaman said, “The research shows that people’s moral profile is more likely to resemble that of their peer group than it is to take shape around the tenets of a person’s faith. "

2. The Federal government is now saying that abstinence education money can be used for folks aged 20-29. Previously, it almost exclusively targetted teenagers. Their rationale is that the money is supposed to help prevent out-of-wedlock births. According to the Associated Press, the highest rates of such pregnancies occur among women in their 20s. In 2003, there were 549,353 births to unmarried women ages 20 to 24; 287,205 births for unmarried women ages 25-29; and 337,201 births to unmarried women ages 15-19.

Both these items crossed my inbox in the last 24 hours, and seemed to provide some interesting commentary on our generation. Is it that sex really isn't that big of a deal? Or has no one ever given us a good reason to think otherwise? What do y'all think?

Trick or treat? Have costumes gone too far?

The other night I watched "How I Met Your Mother" -- a new favorite of mine -- with some friends. In the Halloween episode, Neil Patrick Harris' troublemaking character, Barney, stole the words right out of my mouth.
The show centered around Ted's hope of reuniting with a girl he met at a costume party dressed as a pumpkin. Barney, boasting of the glory of Halloween, said he loves the holiday because girls use it as an excuse to dress skanky. I agree with Barney on the skank factor but don't see the appeal.
Over the weekend I saw it all. Eve in her fig leaves and nothing more. A wet T-shirt contest winner. Snow White minus the dwarfs. The one common thread being little thread at all, which left me thinking "Come on girls!?"
I didn't dress up this year. I joked with a friend, claiming my excuse was I didn't know how to make my sheep herder costume look skanky. To me, the holiday is a good reason to have fun but you don't have to bear it all.