The Jackson Herald
June 27, 2001
The hazards of
My first mother-in-law, Claire Shannon Smith, and my first wife,
Mary Smith Adams, used to tell me that a lady should have her
name in the paper only three times: when she's born, when she
marries, and when she dies.
Mary didn't like it even a little bit when I occasionally mentioned
her (always in a favorable light, of course) in one of my columns.
I guess there are two kinds of women - and men - in the world:
those who are trying to stay out of the news and those who are
trying to make the news.
Making the news is fairly easy. All you have to do is be elected
an officer in the Pilot Club, attend a convention somewhere,
teach Sunday School, get involved in some cause, visit a relative
in California or Arcade. Just do something. Our team of crack
reporters and correspondents has got you covered.
I don't have much encouragement if you are trying to stay out
of the paper. The fact that you are trying to stay out probably
means you are trying to hide something (this was not true in
Mary's case), and our team of crack reporters and correspondents
will track you down and find out what it is. And your name will
be in the paper.
I am fixin' to go off on a tangent now.
Has it ever occurred to you, dear reader, that The Jackson Herald
is our greatest contributor to the area's high moral and ethical
standards - not to mention our safety?
I am persuaded that the newspaper you are now reading keeps more
people on the straight and narrow than all the sermons preached
in all the churches last Sunday.
This is not to put down preachers, sermons and churches; it's
just high praise for the press.
The electric chair and lethal injections are not the only deterrents
to crime. The very thought that your name will be printed here
if you steal, cheat, abuse, drive off without paying, kill somebody,
etc. causes second thoughts. Rest assured that if you do these
things and get caught, you'll make the news.
The list of DUIs is too long every week, but just think how long
it would be if the Saturday night drunks didn't know The Herald
was looking over their shoulders. They don't want their names
showing up here, so they sober up or designate somebody.
By the way, have you noticed that most of our DUIs are from out
of town? They haven't heard about our paper. Somebody tell 'em.
I'm getting off the tangent and back on course now.
There are many definitions of news. One I like is "News
is a report of anything new that interests people."
But nowadays it doesn't necessarily have to be new. A lot of
old stuff has a way of showing up in the paper. As long as you
keep buying a dead horse, somebody will keep beating it.
Take Elizabeth Taylor. I'm not saying she's a dead horse, but
her past behavior - her movies, her marriages, her divorces,
her illnesses, her celebrity status - makes whatever she does
in the future interesting (to some people) and newsworthy. That's
just the way it is.
And that is why, Mike, that your suggestion two weeks ago, "Let's
give it a rest," will never happen. (Stay tuned.)
Back in the good ol' days old editors told the dog-man story
to their rookie reporters. "Dog bites man, that's not news.
Man bites dog, that's news." But that doesn't work anymore,
either. These days it's not unusual for man to bite dog, cat,
canary, goldfish and anything else he can get his teeth into.
(Sorry about that. I know it's not politically correct.)
Now, back to Mike's column of June 13. What Mike wants to give
a rest is news of the Bush girls' drinking habits. What happened
was, one of them used a fake ID in an effort to buy alcohol.
No doubt, in this case, she would like to stay out of the paper.
It ain't gonna happen.
"If she hadn't been the daughter of a Republican President,
it wouldn't have rated a mention in most media outlets,"
according to Mike.
That is true.
"But you have to wonder if it had been What's-her-name Clinton,"
Mike continued, "would the media have had such a feeding
The liberal, tree-hugging, bed-wetting press probably would have
played down the story, but the Washington Times (as opposed to
The Washington Post), Fox News and Neal Boortz would still be
Why? For the same reason Jenna Bush couldn't stay out of the
paper when she used that fake ID.
Both Chelsea (that's her name) and Jenna are daughters of famous
politicians - U.S. Presidents, no less. So they are fair game.
Not fair, but that's the way it is.
Who, what, when, where, how and why are the ingredients of a
good news story. Oftentimes the who carries more weight with
editors than what, when, where, how and why combined. Not fair,
but that's the way it is.
By the way, Chelsea was still making the news last week. She
graduated with honors from Stanford University and will follow
in her father's footsteps and study at Oxford University in England.
("Will follow in her father's footsteps" is not a good
choice of words.)
I imagine when the Bush girls graduate from college and announce
their future plans, they'll make the news, too.
Such is the fate of the famous and families of the famous. Sure,
there are perks. But there are hazards in equal measure.
Question: Why in the world does anybody want to be famous?
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
June 27, 2001
Everything breaks down at the same time
An astrologer friend of mine used to say, "Mercury's in
retrograde" whenever things went wrong or stuff broke down.
Well, I don't know if Mercury was in retrograde or not, but,
I do know that things had gone "from a better to worse state,"
just like it says in Webster's definition.
Early in June, my satellite dish was hit by lightning. No TV.
Not that I have a lot of time to watch TV. When I do, I like
to surf the stations in search of intelligent life on this planet.
Well, OK, I can go without TV for a while. Besides, I'd been
thinking about going to the little dish anyway and dumping the
eight-foot behemoth in the yard. This would just make things
happen a bit quicker. Or at least, I thought as much, trying
to look on the bright side.
Then a few days later, another storm took out the extension outlet
of my fax. I'm still not sure how this happened without blowing
out the whole thing and my computer modem. One of those quirks,
I guess. Hmmm. Well, I can either run the fax with no answering
machine or run the answering machine with no fax. That presented
problems though, because I needed to have both operating at the
same time. I could take it in to try to get it fixed, but then
I'd have no fax. That wouldn't do.
Now, there's two things I have to search for, find the best price,
go get, etc. Had to get the dish and the fax, but how to find
One evening, as I was placing a load in the washer, I noticed
oil on the floor. I thought a can had spilled or something. So
I looked around on the floor, figuring one of the cats had been
hunting spiders or beetles under the work table next to the washer
and knocked something over. But, no, nothing lying on the floor.
When I tilted the washer back, I saw drips of oil coming from
the motor area. It never occurred to me that there was oil in
a washing machine. So, that's why it had been making these weird
sounds. And I thought it was just its old age (21 years and never
a problem). No parts available for it. Just what I needed, another
item added to my "get one quick" list.
Now, I had no TV, no fax and no washing machine. And, of course,
there in a pile lay a week's worth of laundry.
I look in the fridge to get Rosie's (my diabetic dog) insulin.
Almost out. Oh, no! Hard to find the kind she uses. A quick call
to the pharmacy. Whew! At least something is going right. I remembered
she was also out of her special dog food. That meant a trip to
the vet. Look at the time! Thirty minutes until the vet closes!
I jump in the car and race to the vet's. As I pull in the drive,
a little dog jumps out of the bushes. I swerve to avoid hitting
it and smack into a brick wall with the rear of the van. H-i-i-s-s-s-s!
Uh-oh! I got out and looked at the rear tire, which was merrily
deflating while whistling the tune of a busted tire. This can't
I look at my watch. I have 10 minutes to get the dog food. Thirty
to get to the tire shop before they close to buy a new tire and
get it put on. That would leave me with only 30 minutes to get
to the afternoon assignment, which, of course, was at the other
end of the county.
A tap on my shoulder! Hello?! Before me stood a mammoth of a
man, offering to change out my tire with that thing they call
a spare nowadays. Sandy, the giant, was my guardian angel that
day. He put on the donut while I got the dog food.
The guys at the tire shop went right to work when I got there
and I had a new tire on in 15 minutes. Had just enough time to
stop for the insulin, put it in the cooler and head for the assignment.
Wow! I hoped my luck had begun to change. Maybe this was a sign.
Maybe I could cross NASA off my list of calls. Maybe I wouldn't
have to ask to blow up Mercury.
The next day, I managed a few calls here and a few calls there
and found a fax - inexpensive, no bells and whistles this time.
When I get the new one hooked up, I'll just take the other to
be repaired, if possible, then I'll have a spare. Be prepared,
just in case.
Also called a few companies about a dish, looking for the best
deal. I had no idea that monthly pricing could be so different.
When I did choose a provider, I found the little dish would pose
some problems since I don't have a clear line of sight to the
south. But, the company assured me their installer would be "inventive."
OK, that's out of the way. Just have to wait two weeks.
A few days later, went to get the fax, stopped to look at washers,
and actually found one after much researching to find the best
deal for the money. Loaded it into the van and headed for home
feeling much, much better about a certain planet.
I unloaded the washer when I got home and hooked it up. Had a
minor problem of the PVC drain pipe falling apart. But, wouldn't
let it get to me. A bit of glue and it was ready to go.
I hooked the fax up. Yes, back on line!
Things had turned for the better. I could definitely take NASA
off my list. Mercury is safe - until the next time.
Shar Porier is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers Inc.
Jackson County Opinion Index