Four members every good writers’ group should avoid

image If you are at this very moment digging between the couch cushions for coins, or replacing the Tooth Fairy change under your child’s pillow for an “IOU,” then you already know it’s time for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing.

OK, sure. It could also mean you’re short on cash for a Starbuck’s, or trying to scrounge up gas money for your morning commute. Whatever the reason, please stop immediately because this week’s NWOW is on the house.

That’s right! You can save your nickel towards that next mocha Grande!

I realize some of you are looking at me as if to say:

Is this going to be like the time I “won” a free getaway weekend and ended up buying a time share in Rotgut, Alabama?

No. I assure you this week’s Nickel’s Worth is absolutely free. So don’t bother taping that nickel to a post card and sending it in. Why? Because last week many of you were left standing nickel-in-hand after I failed to get my post up. This has never happened to me before. Although many of you told me it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and that it happens to everyone from time to time, it’s never happened to me — and I felt the least I could do is offer an apology with a complementary look at my NWOW. Continue reading Four members every good writers’ group should avoid

Outlook for future of education looks just… Pee Chee

Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child's will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.
Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.
When I was a kid, our school supply list consisted of a Star Wars notebook and a Pee Chee folder. The notebook helped us organize our assignments; the Pee-Chee folder was used for entertaining ourselves during class by drawing thought balloons for the athletes on the cover.

Football Guy: (Getting tackled) “Oh sure — run the old L-42 play, THAT always works…”
Tennis Girl: “If my skirt gets any shorter, I’ll be playing Olympic volleyball…”

You get the idea.

Just about everyone remembers this folder because, like Al Sharpton’s hair gel, it has remained virtually unchanged since 1964. What has changed, however, is the growing list of items parents must provide throughout the school year. This comes in addition to rudimentary things, such as clothing, snacks and a recent urine sample. The reason is simple: The government is tired of wasteful spending, particularly in the educational system, where a special task force has discovered that schools routinely get bilked into spending thousands of dollars on paper alone.

“And, shockingly, most of this paper has turned out to be blank,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Continue reading Outlook for future of education looks just… Pee Chee

Geraldo Rivera can’t reach The Door fast enough

The Door in our newsroom: preserving journalistic history,  as well as restroom privacy.
The Door in our newsroom: preserving journalistic history, as well as restroom privacy.
As predicted, after posting last week’s edition of The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance), members of the media are once again hounding us for an exclusive to what Geraldo Rivera called “Possibly the most important contribution to journalism since I opened Al Capone’s Vault. Except this time we already know opening it will lead to the toilet.”

In short, things are back to normal here at Siuslaw News.

Morley Safer has resumed the relentless faxing of his booty, threatening to continue until “YOU CRACK and I am given the EXCLUSIVE! Or my next scheduled proctology appointment, whichever comes first.” Barbara Walters is once again leaving angry phone messages, including just a few minutes ago when she whispered, “I will Bweak you, and that’s a pwomise.

And as I mentioned, Geraldo Rivera is now after an exclusive and has been attempting to infiltrate our newsroom by using his investigative journalism skills. In one attempt, he disguised himself as a construction worker to gain access. He would’ve made it if not for “Misty,” our observant receptionist, who stopped him for an autograph when she thought he was one of the Village People. Since last Tuesday, we have thwarted no fewer than six attempts by Rivera to reach The Door — including trying to tunnel in from the sewer. Frighteningly, he made it to within only a few feet of The Door but came up short, breaking through the restroom floor while “Joe” was on the commode. Being trained journalists, we quickly surmised that two men screaming in the bathroom meant something was wrong. Continue reading Geraldo Rivera can’t reach The Door fast enough

Computer acting up? Backhand it with an anti-static wrist strap

It’s Sunday, which God reserved for rest, reflection and — I’m pretty it’s in the Book of… something — “Sunday Flashbacks on Ned’s Blog.” The fact that I am still typing proves He has a sense of humor. Or is quite possibly reading someone else’s blog. Either way, I’ll take it as an affirmation to reach back into the archives, to a time before Creation — at least in terms of this blog — when he looked upon what had been made and said in a mighty voice, “Meh.

Today’s post is a column from 2004, when I was having some computer issues on a regular basis. On an unrelated note, I also got my gun permit about that time…

As a last resort, you may chose to place you computer on top of a trash receptacle and threaten it at gunpoint. Remember: Threatening the monitor is a waste of time. (And yes — sadly, this is a current photo of my computer system)
Today, we will be covering basic troubleshooting techniques for your computer. By the end of this column, you will know how to identify a problem within your system, and then determine whether you can:

a) Fix it yourself, or

b) Save yourself the trouble by taking your computer somewhere and shooting it.

To begin with, most of us have absolutely no idea how a computer works. This is illustrated by the fact that, when there’s a problem, we get really mad and yell at the monitor. This is sort of like yelling at the refrigerator because the container we thought was “Cool Whip” actually turned out to be refried beans left over from last year’s Cinco De Mayo party. Continue reading Computer acting up? Backhand it with an anti-static wrist strap

… This Just In …



[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our news room…]

A few moments ago, democratic congressman Peter DeFazio left our newsroom following a 45-minute visit. Congressman DeFazio comes to our office two or three times a year with the intention of treating us to an informative, low-key press conference of sorts. And each time, my editor takes an audible gulp whenever I open my mouth to speak. On today’s list of topics was dredging of small ports, school funding and helium reserves.

That’s right: helium reserves.

Which topic do you think I chose to weigh in on..? Continue reading … This Just In …

Journalists drawn to mystery of… The Door

The Door in our newsroom:  History sentinel and commode shield.
The Door in our newsroom:
History sentinel and commode shield.
Though we have received a small respite from the constant barrage of angry Barbara Walters phone calls, emails from Brit Hume and booty faxes from Morley Safer seeking an exclusive on The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance), today’s post will undoubtedly change that. As regular readers of this weekly feature know, The Door is home to newspaper clippings posted by reporters here at Siuslaw News since the 1970s, highlighting the best and worst examples of print media moments for nearly four decades. It has been called a journalistic mecca; a reporter’s Rosetta Stone; or as Anderson Cooper so eloquently stated, “A sentinel with an impressively large door knob, waiting to be twisted.”

Today’s entry, however, is a first — and something that will undoubtedly have Barbara Walters putting us back on speed dial. But before revealing today’s entry, we must follow a protocol of tradition by joining hands and repeating in a monotone voice similar to Barbara Walters under hypnosis:

The Door is a beacon, dwawing us into the jagged wocks of journawism…

That said, let us get to this week’s entry!
(Keep holding hands of you want to) Continue reading Journalists drawn to mystery of… The Door

Steroid Investigation Expanded To Include John Henry

I had the distinct honor of writing a piece for the whimsical, yet hard-hitting folklore and fairytale news blog, The Grimm Report, where I will post from time to time as their “Chief Sports Correspondent.” I hear Anderson Cooper is pretty mad. As a fellow journalist, Let me just say: “Neater Neater!” (My sincere thanks to the folks at The Grimm Report for letting me be a part of their hilarious spot in the blog-o-sphere)

The Grimm Report

A Special Report By Grimm Report Chief Sports Correspondent, Ned Hickson | @NedHickson

TALCOTT, WV — While hammer-swinging John Henry’s triumph over the world’s first steam hammer has been immortalized in song and story since the 1870s, the steel driver’s legendary strength is being called to question as something other than the result of diet, exercise and God-given talent. As part of Major League Baseball’s sweeping investigation into steroid use, investigators have expanded their scope to include Henry, whose ability to swing a pair of 20-pound hammers “raised some red flags,” said Bill Schlependorf, head of the newly expanded probe.

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Snoring is just one sign of a seasoned journalist

Good morning and welcome to my first post-turning-47 Sunday Flashback! The fact that I’m even able to say “post-turning-47 Sunday Flashback” proves that 1) I am still quite dexterous, at least verbally, and 2) there wasn’t nearly enough tequila involved on my birthday. But one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that you don’t need a lot of alcohol to have a good time. In fact, I can experience that same lack of inhibition and disorientation just by getting up from the couch too fast, or having a Red Bull with my Twinkie. Speaking of being disoriented, I believe it’s time we get to this week’s Flashback. As always it comes from long ago, back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was a website for people with a fetish for naked dry cleaners; back when my only followers were WordPress sites I opened for my pets; back when the only comments I got were things like “Back to work, Hickson!” and “Honey, can you grab some milk on the way home?” Some of you may recognize the photo, which is from my “About” page. And yes, we do have flies that big in Oregon…

What may appear as sleeping to the untrained eye is actually the complex routine of a seasoned journalist focused on a Pulitzer … or possibly a Putziler.
Every journalist has a routine. For example, I always write my column early in the morning. The earlier the better. That’s because, generally speaking, I’m not awake yet. Sure, I may be drinking coffee and typing, but if you were to monitor my brain activity, it would register somewhere between an earthworm and the average American watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Admittedly, my brain doesn’t open for business until about 10 a.m. By then, I’ve been at the keyboard for three or four hours with no real memory of what I’ve been writing. I assure my editor this unique quirk is the sign of a seasoned professional.

And she assures me the reason we need to keep replacing my keyboard is because, at least once a month, she finds me face down drooling on the return key. That may be true, but I tend to do my best work under pressure. And there’s nothing like the pressure of trying to finish a column before saliva short-circuits your keyboard. Continue reading Snoring is just one sign of a seasoned journalist

It’s my 47th birthday and the excitement is tangible

As you can see, these kids who crashed my birthday party can barely contain their enthusiasm.
As you can see, these kids who crashed my birthday party can barely contain their enthusiasm.
This week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing is brought to you by a 47-year-old man! [Please note the exclamation point! (Hey, there’s another one!)] Why am I excited about this? And why am I not calling in sick while lining up shot glasses on the kitchen table?!? Because, in addition to my birthday falling on an NWOW Friday, I feel GREAT!

I’m in my PRIME!

And I want the whole world to know how, through positive thinking and the repetitious use of exclamation points, you can believe it too!!

To celebrate, I dressed in my favorite AC/DC T-shirt, jeans and smokey grey Vans. Oh, and Dos Equis underwear. Um, to clarify, those are underneath my jeans, not on top (I haven’t had that much to drink). I also took a moment to record the occasion for posterity by taking a photo. Which isn’t to say I took a picture of my butt. But I did stand next to the only other thing in our newsroom older than me (until my editor gets here), which is The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance). Continue reading It’s my 47th birthday and the excitement is tangible

Apparently, the laws of physics don’t apply to our family’s laundry basket

image My wife and I have been trying to come up with an explanation for the volume of dirty clothes that accumulates in our laundry basket on a daily basis.

In an attempt to explain this phenomena by utilizing mathematic principles, we went through the laundry, separated the clothes, subtracted how many days since the basket was empty, and then divided it by the number of children in our home — which lead to an important discovery:

We had become trapped in the bathroom after our pile of clothes fell against the door.

While it’s true we have four children between us, according to my calculations they are changing their clothes every 18 minutes. This includes through the night, when they apparently take turns changing EACH OTHER while sleeping in shifts. This would explain how they can have a closet full of clothes at bedtime, then wake up and have nothing to wear. It would also explain why their bed sheets are always untucked and strewn on the floor by morning; they are using the sheets to drag each other’s sleeping bodies back and forth to the closet. Continue reading Apparently, the laws of physics don’t apply to our family’s laundry basket