Sunday, April 05, 2009

Be My Fish Wife

I was poking around in some boxes of old papers when I found this letter written in 1992. Apparently I never mailed it.

Dear Louise,

I want you to be my fish wife.
This is very serious.

I'm going to buy you a pair of fish earrings.
Then I want you to leave your husband and run away with me to Kentucky.

They have wonderful fishing lakes in Kentucky.
We will open up a bait shop on Lake Cumberland.
We'll call it Louise's Bait Shop.

I will change my name to Buster.
You will do all the work, and I will hang out with my buddies and go fishing.

Louise, will you be my fish wife?


Maybe I should have mailed it. How different our lives would be if we had made other choices.

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY. It's spring in the Skagit Valley and we have an abundance of happiness and good energy. I have a gardening job this week, which means I can take time off from working at the hospital. I have so longed for this. Patient care is a very satisfying and rewarding experience, but it gets stressful on the unit, and my nerves need a break.

Also, my immune system needs to be restored. At the hospital, we are in the presence of some virulent, nasty microbes. The remedy is garden work. Contact with the soil is an excellent way to get on friendly terms with the good microbes that abound on our planet. I am sure this is a good thing.

LET'S ALL DO LIKE THEY DO IN EUROPE. We can be just like the Europeans if we establish national health care, adopt the metric system, and make soccer our most important sport.

Wouldn't that be wonderful? Not so fast. Let me think:

1. We have to change and I believe we're going to have a much better health care system in the United States. There are things we can learn from other countries about this, but it really has to be "invented here" if it's going to be accepted. We are a peculiar people, with our own habits. Any reforms need to be distinctly American. In fact, as a goal, we should aim for health care that is better than anyone else's. Let's be first in the world, why not?

2. Adopt the metric system. Almost everybody uses the metric system, all over the world. Scientists use it. Everything we measure at the hospital is in the metric system. Why not go the whole way, and become all metric, from top to bottom. I don't think this is an issue. Our traditional measuring system is not something we need to hold on to. Let's change and be like everybody else.

3. Make soccer our most important sport. Okay, hold it. This is so NOT going to happen. This is a bad idea. In America, we have the holy trinity of baseball, football, and basketball. I'm not letting go of this one. I will resist any effort to change that. No offense to soccer people, but it must remain an auxiliary sport in our great land. Let the rest of the world do whatever they want.

YOUR FROG HOSPITAL DOLLARS AT WORK. I have been working behind the scenes in continuous contact with media people -- editors, publishers, journalists, and bloggers -- to debate and discuss the tremendous changes overcoming established media.

It's true, I have been highly critical and unsympathetic toward the mainstream press. I have my reasons. My working life has been at community newspapers, of which there are thousands, in every small town, and in most urban neighborhoods.
These are important and essential publications, but the big newspaper people have a long, bad habit of thinking they are the special ones.

I have had too many years of hotshot reporters and editors at the Daily Planet not returning my phone calls. Yeah, it's personal, but if I may speak for others who work at community papers, this is what I will say:

We're still here. We're closer to the ground. And it's time for you big boys to learn from us.

It's a little bit insulting when people in Seattle say "we only have only one newspaper now." I was in Seattle a few weeks ago and visited the office of the West Seattle Herald, a solid weekly. They're doing fine. They cover West Seattle like a rug. A bug can't crawl across the sidewalk without them knowing about it. These people are seriously plugged into the local scene.

This is real journalism. And it's time to show some respect.

It does look like the news is disappearing right now. I predict it will fall by half again. That is, in a few years, we will have about half as many dailies as we have now. Then it will level out.

Meanwhile, Internet news will slowly begin to fill the gap. It will become more substantial, reliable, and accurate. New standards and rules will apply, and somehow people will make money at it.

So, if I can send a message back to Thomas Jefferson -- It's not over, not by a long shot.


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