Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Tuesday and here we go again

Hello. Thanks for looking in.

As I said last week, it's been a long time, about a month, since there was something written in this space. A lot has happened, and some of that has to do with why it's been a long time since something had been written in this space.

So, let's get right to it.

First of all, thanks to all of you who have checked back from time to time, even though the same old, same old was here.

In fact, since this blog began in December, 2006, there have been more than 10,000 hits on it. Now, some places get that many hits in a minute or less, but this is one guy's blog with nothing to sell or no ax to grind. So, not bad.

Thank you all.

Speaking of that, I just got an e-mail asking me if, for money, I wanted to review others' blogs and products. No, thanks. It's not that I'm too precious, it's just that I want to be able to say what I want to say, when I want to say it.

The only criteria to which I want to adhere is that it's really my opinion, it's hadn't been bought and paid for, and (hopefully) the logic makes some kind of sense. That's the goal.

So, let's start out with the second 10,000. By the way, the counter doesn't count me. I have a way of making that happen. Isn't software wonderful...when it works?

So where ya been?

Many of you know I free-lance for the New Haven Independent, a Web-only news site that covers New Haven. I had a few stories to cover. More about that later. My daughter also had a boy. I talked about Aaron and his b'ris in a previous posting.

Well, when that was written, it looked as if he was headed to a full recovery. No so, at least not
then. He was taken back to the hospital, and, of course, we had to be there to help. He seems to be on the right path now, thank God.

Add a bit of personal illness, some other concerns, a bit of plain laziness and that's where the time went.

The Annie Le caper

As I said, I work for the New Haven Independent on a part-time basis. Those guys did a great, wonderful, marvelous job of covering the Annie Le tragedy, breaking lots of stories and angles but not giving out the name of the suspect until he was arrested.

Some news organizations could only say they were the first to give out the suspect's name when he was little more than a twinkle in the cops' eyes. Others messed up the coverage altogether. And then there are the cable channels, the headline channels, with their "experts," shrinks who knew little about the case but said the motive for the slaying of the Yale graduate student, must be unrequited love, class jealousy and a dozen other things on the part of the young man who has been charged in her slaying.

By the way, the crime has been called murder. It's not until a jury says it is. It's a homicide. The prosecution says it was murder, but haven't said which kind, whether murder, capital felony, or felony murder. It couldn't be arson murder.

If the defense can convince the jury that there was extreme emotional disturbance, then the verdict could be manslaughter. Unlike Law & Order, in Connecticut, extreme indifference to human life is manslaughter in the first degree, not Jack McKoy's ubiquitous murder in the second degree. So, for now, it's a homicide. You want to know more? Look it up.

By the way, I had little to do with the coverage. It wasn't planned that way...it just worked out that way. My old boss at the Journal-Courier of New Haven, Bob Granger, used to say that even the biggest story is still only one story out of many. I covered some of the rest. Some were pretty exciting, others routine.

Therefore, I feel I can comment about the coverage without patting myself on the back. Just so you know.

Marcia Chambers, who runs the Branford Eagle, which is part of the Independent family, broke the story about the suspect's former girlfriend telling the cops he made her have sex.

The story was well-documented and sourced. But the next day, it became "Yale hell-raiser's sex shocker" in the New York Post, complete with photo of the suspect dressed as the devil taking up Page One of the tabloid.

The latest is that paper's story saying that the victim's bones were crushed to get her into the utility space where her body was found. No basis in fact, the cops said.

The definition of a newspaper story I've always used is: The best possible version of the truth.

Getting it on the street first is good; getting it right first is better, getting it first and right is best.

That's what the Independent folks did. First and right. I'm as proud to be associated with these folks as any I've dealt with in my long practice of the craft of journalism.

That's saying something.

Apologies to New Jersey, New York and Maryland

Often in the past, l have excoriated drivers from New Jersey, New York and Maryland for being selfish, unskilled, witless -- you get the idea. I feel I have to apologize.

They have nothing on New Haven drivers. I'm not sure if they always have been this way and I hadn't noticed, or if some spore from the planet Stupidity has come to Earth and infected drivers around New Haven.

The light turns red. Traffic stops, but only after four cars have flown through the intersection. The light turns green. You had better count to five slowly before proceeding. Cell phones...sorry, Dick Roy, but yours is the least obeyed law in the state, including that against adultery. Dick Roy, by the way, is a Milford state legislator and former newspaperman who campaigned for years to get the cell phone ban enacted.

Stand at any corner. If the number of drivers not talking on cell phones exceeds the number gabbing while driving, you are witnessing a rare event. Phone in one hand, sandwich in the other. Wheel being grasped by two fingers, or perhaps one. Or that one is reserved for other drivers.

State law says pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks. Ha!

Just stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk. You're lucky if all you get is a klaxon blast from the car in back of you. And, of course, the dolt trying to cross the street takes his or her sweet time talking -- you guessed it -- on a cell phone.

Drive along Whalley Avenue east of Westville Village. Crossing of the street is done everywhere EXCEPT at the crosswalk. Walk a few feet along the sidewalk to the corner, dear pedestrian, and YOU have the right of way. Cross in the middle of the block, and you don't. Laziness or stupidity. Or both.

Speaking of stupid

We have been entertained in the past few weeks by a flock of wild turkeys in our yard.

Five turkeys live nearby and spend a couple mornings a week in our garden.

Today was especially entertaining. Two of the turkeys -- I think they are all hens -- got into our garden and couldn't figure a way to get out. They strutted down one length of fence, maybe 10 feet, and when they hit the corner, they reversed course, oblivious to the opening in the fence perhaps five steps away.

I thought I'd have some fun, so I got my wife's duck call (used in office pranks, not hunting) and sounded off. Now they really got nervous and they bumped into each other, walked along the fence opposite to the opening. My wife finally want out onto the deck and pointed to the opening.

No sale. But two others came along and must have said something like, "Hey, did you forget you could fly?" One flew over the chicken wire fence, which is all of three feet high. The other paced for another minute, then flew off.

The flock was last seen heading for another yard.

I guess they come to our yard because the word is out we don't cook or eat meat at home (or anywhere else if we have a choice) and they know we're not eyeing them for Thanksgiving.

Or maybe they just don't want to take a chance cross the street. After all, this is New Haven.

Until next time, soon...

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