Let's clean out the folder ...
• I won't kid you; I am nervous as I type this because, well, you are now starting to receive a Daily Mountain Eagle that is being done on new systems that are being phased in this year. What that essentially means for those of you who don't deal much with computers is that there is new software on the computer that changes the way we type and layout our stories and photos.
Now, this is not being done just on a whim. A number of reasons are being instituted for this change. The first being is that we got a little tired of laying out a page on the computer and, well, it just shut down on its own, losing everything. I do mean everything. A big blank page after 20 minutes of work. It is very frustrating, maddening and depressing, all at once. On the other hand, it builds all kinds of language skills for those over the age of 21 — which is a shame because you can't use those words anyway for the stroke you've just had.
In the end, I am understanding that this will be very beneficial for how we deal with the web site. I think it will help in other ways, such as helping make sure the photos are eventually attached to the stories early in the process. It is really a matter of learning the steps in the process.
My problem is learning the steps in the process — again. As you recall, I just got off the boat in February 2017. I should have stayed on the boat and sailed around the lake a couple hundred of times so I only had to learn one system. This will make three systems for me at work in the course of 14 months. I have a hard enough time putting the names with faces. I've warned those at work they are dealing with a 55-year-old guy (as of March 25) with a family history of Alzheimer's but everyone sounds like they are patient with me. Next week they may be screaming out the door, but this week they have been patient with me.
However, it is clear that reporters and editors will have to learn some extra steps to make the system work, so be patient with us as we work this out in our memory banks. It should make a better process as the year progresses. Stay tuned.
• Not straying far in the next subject, I will point out that it appears all the local candidates showed up on Monday night when the Eagle invited the candidates to come for refreshments, tours of the building, snapshots that can be used and a presentation of what the newspaper can do for that candidates. What I didn't realize was how the candidates appeared to just enjoy getting together socially and in some cases meeting each other for the first time. If you think about it, I can't see where it is wrong for candidates like that to have a small event to just get together and greet each other at the start, learn a little about each other. I think it humanizes them all in the process.
I know one thing — we have some tall candidates. I was going to just have people stand against a white backdrop. Soon I saw I needed to borrow a chair, as some of their heads were creeping above the top of the backdrop. (For those who were not dressed, I can always take the photo later or if you have a high resolution photo you can send, that would be good, too.)
• Congratulations to my neighbor, Matt Dozier, who was promoted Tuesday at the Jasper Police Department from detective sergeant to detective lieutenant. He does a great job, and he is a good neighbor, too.
• I am glad the Walker County Commission is thinking of going to mandatory garbage service. I can't imagine a county government that wouldn't go to that these days, not just for the revenue but certainly to deal with the illegal dumping that is so widespread these days. There is no reason under modern health standards that someone shouldn't be enrolled under solid waste services. District 2 Commissioner Jeff Burrough estimated the number of county garbage customers would increase in Walker County from 7,000 customers to 17,000 customers with mandatory service, which is just mind boggling. (More firm figures are likely to come at the March 15 work session.) We should step up enforcement and ticket writing, although I hear that is already going on now. I am also happy the commission is looking at more efforts at combatting litter, including one education effort in the schools that District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt is undertaking.
Of course, the more worrisome aspect of the commission involves the fact commissioners are still talking about the Sheriff's Department and the county jail trending over budget with their spending. We are already in court about funding the departments and dealing with the feeding of prisoners, and the end of this month means we are halfway through the fiscal year. Thus, the wiggle room gets smaller and smaller, while the sheriff primary is now, believe it or not, three months away. Since it is Oscar week, I will drag out the old Bette Davis line from "All About Eve": "Fasten your seatbelt. It is going to be a bumpy night."
• Since I've landed on that subject, let me say how sad the Oscars have become. Many of the films are R-rated, so I have no intention of seeing them. "The Post" is PG-13 and may be a good film; "Darkest Hour" is also PG-13, and has a great performance by Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, which shines better understanding of the days leading to his becoming prime minister. But most of the other live action films are not exactly going to reflect my values, meaning I have little to cheer for. Fewer and fewer films are from the mainstream films seen by the general public. (I'll lay bets the movie audience interrupted by the Oscar delegation Sunday night was delighted, as they probably were less entertained by what they were seeing on the screen.)
Worse, the ceremony is more and more becoming a political convention. Whether you agree or disagree with the ideology, it is supposed to be a celebration of films. Only the film montages from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences even pretended to celebrate the awards' 90th anniversary, while every other political subject or social movement under the sun got mentioned — some of which are very much worth mentioning, particularly the "me, too" movement, but which nonetheless drowned out the purpose of the ceremony. Is is no wonder that TV ratings are at an all-time low?
• Finally, let's wish Publisher James Phillips a happy 40th birthday today. There is no telling what this free spirit will do today, but he certainly deserves a salute for being our fearless leader and helping to build up our brand over the past few years. He had a nautical birthday party Saturday where he had a captain's hat, Hawaiian shirt, white pants and sandals. He looked like the Skipper entering a Bing Crosby look-alike contest with the Professor. But he was in his element somewhere in "Margaritaville," and you can't do more for anyone entering their 40's. Hope he has a great birthday today.