Tuesday, October 31, 2006


3. (headline) Residents of Booger Mountain want name change
2. (large print in an ad for a nursing home) Leaves are falling ... so is Mom!
1. (another ad headline) Men: Are you suffering from menstrual cramps?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quick Question

Rumor has it that Blogspot (which I use to host this blog) has just been blocked in Shanghai. Are you still able to read my blog, Wuhan friends?

(If I get no comments, I'll assume the worst, so please reply!)

Food, Friends, and a Flash presentation

Among other things, our friends at our new congregation here in Columbus are keeping us well fed. Yesterday was another two-meals-for-the-price-of-none day for the Cook family, which is awesome when you're still waiting for THE Ohio State University to pay your wife.*

In the conversation before dinner, the subject turned, as it often does when we meet new people, to our time in China. We ended up talking about how some Chinese characters seem to have their origins in Bible stories. For those of you who aren't familiar with this, it is actually quite interesting and easy to understand even if you don't speak Chinese. This Flash presentation from World Bible School explains. (It takes a few minutes to get through, but it's worth it.)

Speaking of China, congratulations to our friends Kyle and Jingjing Meyers, who were married in Wuhan a little more than a week ago. We finally got to see pictures of the ceremonies (Western and Chinese) on his Web site, but that only made us wish even more that we had been able to be there.

*Tangent: They are very proud of their THE. I think you're kicked out of the state if you leave it off. For reasons that pass understanding, they're also very proud of their "Script Ohio." Who knew dotting an "i" could be such a life-changing moment?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

HU on Wall Street

It's been an extremely busy week, including a 13.5 hour day at work on Thursday because of an editors' meeting. Before I head back to work today, I wanted to share this interesting tidbit.

Those of you who claimed it was hard to find a man in Searcy just might have been correct. According to a census report on Page D2 of Thursday's Wall Street Journal, White County, Ark., has the lowest percentage of single men in the nation -- 17.8 percent. Here's the snippet that mentions HU and Searcy (I would link to it, but WSJ Online is subscriber-only):

"Come high-school graduation, White County, Ark., -- where only 17.8% of the men are unmarried and 17.6% of the women are unmarried -- sees a steady stream of young weddings, according to Mayor Belinda LaForce of Searcy, the county seat. At nearby Harding University, a Christian liberal arts institution, it is not uncommon for students to marry in the middle of their undergraduate careers. "We are a Southern community and a very faith-based community," says Ms. LaForce. Twenty-seven percent of the population has only a high-school degree, and just 6% have completed a bachelors degree, which is 21 percentage points lower than the national average."

Any thoughts? I, for one, can't believe HU's presence doesn't push the bachelors degree rate higher than that.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gerrymandering, sort of

Modern-day gerrymandering has become an art form in this country, and an Advocate article in today's edition made me think of it last night at work.

Apparently, some township residents just west of the current city of Newark boundary can't endure the thought of being annexed into big, bad Newark. Thus, they've filed a petition that would allow them to officially join the village of Granville, walling off Newark's western edge nearly in its entirety and making an extension of Granville that certainly evokes gerrymandering.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Sadly, Jay Leno was a rerun last night, so there are no headlines to report.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Odds and Ends

Lots of little things are on my mind today, so here goes:

  • According to this AP article on Yahoo! News, Dunkin' Donuts is apparently trying to make a move into Krispy Kreme territory. I'm a KK aficionado, but Katrina is a New Englander all the way and grew up on DD. The article does a good job of summing up the ultimate doughnuts debate. Any thoughts?
  • It's shaping up to be another great year to be a Bison fan, with the football team back on track, the cross country men and women dominant as usual, women's soccer and volleyball doing well, and the men's basketball team picked as the preseason No. 1 in the Gulf South West. The coaches even think the women's team has turned the corner, picking them fourth in the West. Even the quiz bowl team is looking good! (You'll note I didn't mention men's soccer ...)
    Reminds me of 2003, when I was lucky enough to be sports editor for The Bison. Much of the above paragraph was true then, too.
  • Our Texan friend from Harding and Wuhan, Sara Ann, expressed a longing for China yesterday on her blog. I think her post captures how Katrina and I feel, too.
  • Speaking of China, those of you who are there or have been there before will likely find this peasant-bag fashion funny. All of you can appreciate the cuteness of pandas, however.
  • Finally, if you're in the mood for a fun challenge and have an hour or two to waste (like Katrina and I just did), try this puzzle set from The New York Times. If you correctly solve the six puzzles (three fairly easy and three hard), you will get the funny answer to the question: "Why did the slumping baseball players decide to form a new league?" (If you just want the punch line without solving the puzzles, let me know.)

I guess that's enough for one post. Have a great week!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Men and Coins

One of my coworkers made an interesting observation earlier this week, and I wanted to get your take on it.

I was eating my dinner in the break room when he and one of the other editors (a woman) returned from picking up their dinner at a Chinese restaurant. She commented that he was so happy when his dinner exactly $5.40, as that left him 60 cents, which was exactly the amount he needed to get a can of pop from the vending machine. That left him with no change.

Megan said it's strange how men seem to have this strong dislike for change. I replied that the main reason I avoid change is the noise it makes in your pocket when it jingles; women have purses, but men have nowhere designed to keep their change.

Tom took it one step further, saying it might be a hunting instinct -- we don't want to make noise so we can move around without being heard and sneak up on people.

Any other theories on why men don't like to carry change? Any men out there who like change or women who hate it to disprove our premise for this conversation?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


When you're in the car commuting for about nine hours every week, you become much better friends with your radio than you ever thought possible. I've picked up two new habits -- ESPN radio and ... NPR.

For those of you who don't know, NPR is National Public Radio. It is a nonprofit national radio network that has mostly news programming. Until, today, I thought it was less than popular; one of those things that you didn't freely admit listening to. Then I found these statistics, which show that, in an average week, about 1 out of 12 Americans listens to NPR at some point.

Somehow, NPR has been tagged with a false reputation of being "liberal." In my listening, I have only found that to be the case occasionally. Most of the time, like most legitimate media outlets, they seem to try to show both/all sides of an issue.

I actually enjoy their programming, which helps me keep up with major national and world news. Even though I work at a newspaper, most of my work centers on local stories. So that is helpful.

Because of my commuting schedule, the two NPR shows I get to hear most often are "Talk of the Nation" every weekday and "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me" on Saturday. The later is a game show that I suppose can only be described as truly nerdy.

Ironically enough, part of today's "Talk of the Nation" is going to discuss increased commute times.

Any other closet NPR fans out there?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


3. (in an ad for a dentist) "Most of the work can be done in one or fewer visits!"
2. (a headline) "Chick accuses some of her male colleagues of sexism" (her last name was apparently Chick)
1. (a classified ad) "Two wire mesh butchery gloves, one with five fingers, one with three fingers"

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good News from China

Two pieces of good news involving China:

1. After about a year of unexplained blocking, the English version of Wikipedia is now apparently available again in China. When it became unavailable around this time last year, it was highly inconvenient (not to mention annoying). Sadly, it seems the Chinese Wikipedia is still blocked. For more on this subject, see this New York Times article (free registration required, I think).

2. Several of our friends in Wuhan recently returned from a weeklong trip to an orphanage in another province. For some of them, it was their third trip in what I see as an inspiring attempt to fulfill James 1:27 by taking care of orphans. I think hearing about their experiences should remind all of us to think about what we are doing to take care of those who are less fortunate than we are.

Here are some excerpts from their e-mail describing the trip:
... because of Steven's abundance of hair (especially on his arms) all of the kids took to calling him 'Jin Se Hou' or 'the Golden Monkey.' Very rarely did I hear any of the kids call him Steven Gege (older bro Steven). As if that alone wasn't funny enough, when Heather, Caitlin and I made up a scavenger hunt for the kids to do on our last day there, the first entry was a golden monkey hair. The reaction when the kids read their first item - priceless! They knew exactly what it meant.

Another of my favs from last time....for five days we were called Steven Gege (older bro) and Kelli Jiejie (older sis) instead of Uncle and Auntie! I'm glad that the grandmothers here in Wuhan teach their grandkids to call us something instead of just ignoring us or calling us 'foreigners,' but it sure is nice to be called Big Sis once in a while instead of Aunt!

On our first full day during the morning classes (taught by our Chinese college students that went) the local news crew came in to video what was going on! Apparently we were on the 8:00 pm news channel of a town that could be compared to Rogersville (the city, LongHui, has several hundred thousand...a village to them). The reporter asked why we came; Steven said "Honestly because God has been so good to us and we want to share His love." The reporter approved!

After a very, VERY teary goodbye which we hadn't experienced in the previous two visits and hadn't expected, our group of 17 was pretty quiet on the bus as we pulled away from the orphanage. I think everyone was reflecting over the past five days....the kids had warmed up to all of us so quickly. ... It was a lot harder for us to say goodbye this time, too. I guess it was the longer stay, maybe just more and deeper personal connections. We were definitely very proud of our Chinese friends that went. They all did a wonderful job of loving! It was definitely good hands-on experience, really understanding first-hand what J meant when he said take care of the widows and orphans and learning to pay attention to the people that the world neglects. Most importantly, these trips to the orphanage have instilled in them the desire to keep doing it!!! As His kids, we are blessed to be a blessing and our friends outdid themselves this week!

I just thought you all might like an inspiring story to start the week.

A Good Sunday

Sunday was a great day for us, as we got the chance to get to know several couples at Fishinger and Kenny (the congregation we worship at in Columbus) when they invited us over for lunch and dinner. It's always great to get to know other Christians by sharing a homemade meal and great conversation.

Monday is going to be laundry day for us. It will also be my dad's birthday, so happy birthday to him.

Did you all do anything interesting this weekend?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pirates in Iowa?

Was that headline enough to get your attention? I thought so.

Check out this AP article via CNN for a good laugh.

For the record, no, I did not live in Iowa's First District.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Safety and Irony

As most of you already know, today is Friday the 13th. (For those of you in China who might not know why this matters, it is often considered to be an unlucky day when the 13th day of any month is a Friday.) Now I don't put any stock in superstitions like this, but I do have an ironic event on my schedule today: I have to be at work at 2 p.m. for the monthly Safety Committee meeting ... on Friday the 13th.

Now before someone hits me with a comment along the lines of "I knew you were a nerd, but the Safety Committee?!!!?" I must say that it was NOT my choice be part of this group. I made the tactical error of being out of the office for five days in August to attend my sister's wedding in Iowa. During that time, my boss was told he had to get someone from the editorial department on the committee ASAP. As I was out of town, I was an easy target. Today, we're touring the press room (where the presses are, not where I work) for an inspection at the end of the meeting.

This means more overtime today. I've been at the office an extra hour each of the last two nights because our news editor (copy desk chief) is on vacation and we've had late-evening events like this and this and this.

Katrina loves when I get home at 2 a.m.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Buckeye headaches

It's been a busy week around here, which explains this -- my first 48-hour run without posting. I suppose I should pace myself anyway to avoid running out of things to talk about.

On Monday night, we had about a dozen people from the 20-somethings group at church over for a game night. (Our friends from Harding will remember our weekly game nights at our apartment after we got married.) It went well, and we're planning to do it once a month or so.

Since then, we've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get things done in the monstrous bureaucracy that is The Ohio State University. Let's just say that better organization and communication are needed to effectively manage 50,000+ people.

Katrina made an interesting comment that our reaction to OSU red tape might be some latent culture shock. For the last two years in China, there was lots of bureaucracy, no doubt, but we were insulated from it. In China, the simple universal answer to a problem was to call the waiban (the school official responsible for taking care of foreign teachers and students). Thus, we did not have to get overly frustrated -- that was left to Jia Jun or Cui Qing/David. We need a waiban here!

Did those of you who started out at a smaller university (like Harding) have similar experiences when you ended up studying and/or teaching in a larger environment?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The top headlines from Jay Leno on Monday night. (For more explanation, see this post.)

3. (tie; we couldn't agree)
- (a movie ad) "How to Eat Fried Women (PG)"
- (next to a photo of a 13-year-old Boy Scout carrying two 24-packs of Budweiser): "Scouts were busy Saturday"
2. (an ad for a Broadway-based show) "You'll Never Walk Again -- Carousel" (Jay: "Very popular in all the nation's hospitals!")
1. (a headline from the Lawton, Okla., newspaper) "U.S. told don't not to eat its spinach"

Monday, October 09, 2006


Dinner at McDonald's last night brought back some memories.

In case you've missed the commercials, they have brought back their Monopoly promotion. Whenever McDonald's does this, I can't help but think of my elementary school years. As there was a McDonald's near my house, there was one yard on the way to school where we would stop and look for game pieces that had been thrown out of cars. We never won anything more than a free hash brown or something like that, but it was a lot of fun for an 8-year-old!

Katrina and I are older now, but we're still suckers for a (miniscule) chance to win up to $5 million. And now there's twice the temptation with the ability to play online with each game piece you get at the restaurant. Don't look now, but we're just one railroad away from $25,000 in the online game!

Does anyone else actually collect those little pieces? And do you remember the Scrabble game they did once or twice back in the 80s?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Football Friday

As much as it pains me, I haven't been to a high school football game since 2003. As most of you know, I have been in China during the last two football seasons, which clearly kept me from seeing any American football game in person. Now that I'm back, however, I'm stuck in the newsroom every Friday night.

My newspaper covers about a dozen high schools, but my job keeps me in the office, having virtually nothing to do with the games. It hurts.

Speaking of hurting, my alma mater dropped to 4-2 last night with a depressing loss to cross-town rival Roosevelt. They were down 19-16 late in the fourth quarter and still lost by that score despite two made field goals. How? Let the Des Moines Register explain.

Friday, October 06, 2006

To Name or not to Name?

It's been an interesting week at the office, with two textbook ethical questions coming up. In my position as assistant city editor, neither of these calls were mine to make. But I did have input on the first question, so I will share it with you all.

On Monday, Newark City Schools were closed because numerous buses had been vandalized over the weekend. By Monday night, after reviewing surveillance tapes from the bus garage, authorities charged two boys, ages 12 and 10, with the crime. The question: To name or not to name?

Traditionally, many media outlets do not name juvenile suspects, but this often varies based on age and severity of the crime. As you can see, The Advocate did not name or clearly picture the boys. The argument that won the day was, in short, 1. They are so young and 2. Their crime was not violent. One other point for consideration: Many other area media outlets, including The Columbus Dispatch and NBC4, named and/or showed video of the boys in court.

What do you all (journalists and non-journalists) think? What would you do? And should what others were doing influence our news judgment?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Do I have to go Krogering?

Our apartment in Columbus is in a great location. We're a nice, quiet complex with a free shuttle to the OSU campus for Katrina, an exercise room for both of us, and a small commercial area right out front.

The good news: Convenient shopping, including a Big Lots and an Applebee's.
The bad news: The grocery store is a Kroger.

Thankfully, as long as you get a Kroger Plus Card, you're not paying the highest prices in the industry. But their offerings still leave a bit to be desired if you're not careful. We actually go to two other stores a few miles away to do most of our shopping each week and save Kroger for last-minute stuff and a few things that they're actually cheaper for.

Mentioning Kroger makes me think of two of my pet peeves of late:

1. People who add an errant 's to grocery and/or retail store names. (i.e., Kroger's, Wal-Mart's, etc.) I know this is a holdover from when many small stores were owned by one family and named after the family. Sadly, that's just not true anymore.

2. Annoying commercial jingles. Kroger's radio ads, while catchy, annoy me immediately with their made-up verb: "Let's go Krogering; a better way to shop."

But that's far from the worst offender. Has anyone else seen the TV ads for beepbeep.com? (From their endless ads on cable, I've gathered they sell cars. However, I wouldn't buy a car from them if they were the last car dealer on earth. Their ad is just too annoying.)

Any other nominees for most annoying ad?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October Holiday

As I prepare to head back to work this afternoon, I have to be a bit jealous of my friends in China.

For those of you not familiar with Chinese holidays, this week is October Holiday in honor of the founding of the People's Republic on Oct. 1, 1949.

Since 2000, the first week of May and October have been called "Golden Weeks" because the previous and following weekends have been adjusted to create a seven-day holiday week for almost all of China's 1.4 billion people. (If that's unclear to those of you in the U.S., check out Wikipedia's explanation for it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holidays_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China especially the calendars at the bottom of the page.)

During our two years in China, we only traveled during one Golden Week (to Suzhou during May Holiday 2005), because it's less than convenient to try to travel at the same time as about 1 billion of your closest friends.

This idea of moving weekends is hard for most Americans to understand until they actually see it happen. In fact, in the weeks leading up to the Golden Weeks, there is often some confusion until the central government announces exactly how the days will be rearranged each time.

So here's a question for my readers in China: How are you spending your October Holiday?

Headlines of the Week

One of our weekly traditions is to watch "The Tonight Show" on Mondays so we can see the Headlines segment after the monologue. For that reason, I think it's a great choice for a weekly blog tradition as well. Here are the top 3 headlines of the night, as selected by me and Katrina:

3. (from a menu) "Chicken of the Week: Turkey Pot Pie"
2. (headline on a real estate ad) "Buy now before price is reduced!"
1. (a supermarket coupon) "Free bag of sugar with the purchase of any diabetic supplies"

They're much funnier when you can actually see them and Jay Leno reads them. He does the segment every Monday around 11:45 p.m. Eastern if you want to check it out. (Or check in here on Tuesdays to see the best of what you missed.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Playoff hopes and dreams

As a Cubs fan, my passionate interest in the 2006 baseball season ended sometime in June. But other than the looming possibility of another nightmarish Subway Series, the playoff docket isn't too bad. There's even a (likely short-lived) underdog to root for in the Tigers.

As I review the teams in the postseason, it seems that I have friends who are fans of every qualifier except the Yankees. I guess I know better than to associate with the Evil Empire.

Here are my off-the-cuff predictions:
Dodgers def. Mets, 3-1
Padres def. Cards, 3-2
Yankees def. Tigers, 3-1
Twins def. A's, 3-2
Dodgers def. Padres, 4-2
Yankees def. Twins, 4-2
World Series
Dodgers def. Yankees, 4-3
(I can't bring myself to pick the Yankees. Sorry.)

But here's my dream 2006 postseason:
Dodgers def. Mets
Padres def. Cards
Tigers def. Yankees
Twins def. A's
Dodgers def. Padres
Tigers def. Twins

World Series
Tigers def. Dodgers

Let's hear your predictions and/or dreams for the postseason.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Journalists' Gold

Fine. I'm giving in. As seemingly the only 20something in America without a blog to call my own, I'm feeling left out. So here goes, with a post that will only confirm the nerdiness of myself and others like me:

I work from noon until around 8 p.m. every Saturday. Most of the time, I'm alone in the newsroom for the first few hours. Yesterday, I happened to stop by the mailroom and noticed a package for the news editor (I'm the assistant city editor). From the labels on it, I could tell this box held the journalist's equivalent of gold. ...

Associated Press Stylebooks! And not just any old AP stylebooks, either. These were brand new 2006 versions, complete with all the options (spiral bound, leather interior, sunroof, etc.).

I decided to give Megan the honor of opening them, as her name was on the box. She arrived about three hours later and nearly squealed with delight that they had arrived. She then began distributing them to all of the copy editors (I'm technically one of them.) and taking the old dusty 2005 editions to those who were previously without a stylebook.

Now, I always love the smell of a new book, but this was special.

Thankfully, the AP provides a page with a listing of all the additions, deletions and changes since the previous edition. Oddly enough, "blog" has been deleted, while "20something" has been added. I didn't have time to check why on either count. I'll try to check and let you all know after I head back to the office on Tuesday.

Are those of us at The Advocate really that strange for celebrating? What's your favorite/least favorite AP style point? And why did it take until Sept. 30 to get this year's edition?