The Junk Drawer: Totally Positive Edition

There has GOT to be a spare COVID test in here…

Welcome to this edition of the junk drawer. As we have outlined in previous junk drawer posts, this is a random collection of stuff that is important but didn’t fit anywhere else, much like that drawer in the kitchen of most of our homes.

Let’s get going:

LET’S BE POSITIVE: For nearly two years, I managed to dodge, dive, dip, duck and dodge COVID, thanks to masking, my predilection toward isolation and getting every shot the doctor would put into me.

Last week, the streak ended, when I “started feeling weird” and Amy ran a test on me. It was supposed to take 15 minutes to post a result. Mine showed up in 3.

I spent the next seven days hunkered down in the milk house, trying to keep my family from getting it, which turned out to be a futile exercise, as Amy got it two days later. The initial cough was followed by full body aches, dry cough, fever dreams and more.

At one point, I woke up after 8 hours of sleep and my body literally wouldn’t move. I couldn’t command it to do anything, which naturally freaked me out. I fell back to sleep for another 8 hours and when I woke up I could move. It hurt like hell, but at least I was ambulatory.

I’m still half a mess, although the main symptoms have gone away. My mind doesn’t exactly work the way I’m used to yet and I’m exhausted by things like unloading the dishwasher or walking to the mailbox. I suppose this is a long way of saying, this is why the blog has been quiet these past couple weeks and please give me some latitude if I say something stupid on here.

HOT “SAID” SUMMER: I’ve wanted to share this for quite some time, as it captures the perfect feeling I get in reading intro media writing pieces when it comes to attributions. Shout out to Steve Chappell for his brilliance and meme skills:


MURDER-TRIAL JURY IS IN! FOR RESULTS SEE PARAGRAPH 128: I often quibble with professional journalists when it comes to lead-writing or the inverted pyramid. Pros tell me it can get boring to just tell people what happened or that there are more ways to tell a story than cramming everything into a 25-35 word lead.

I often push back with, well, you’re not writing to amuse yourselves, but rather to inform the people. Sometimes, we just want to know what the heck happened. And, yes, there are other ways to tell a story other than the 5W’s and 1H, so long as you are serving the audience.

I think we’re both right in some cases, but as the friend who sent me this article noted, “You have to actually know what you’re doing if you’re not going to use the inverted pyramid:”

I get that the story’s headline does tell the tale, but that’s not an excuse to basically pull a “Johnny from Airplaine!” in explaining what is going on.


PLEASE TELL ME WE DON’T HAVE A VIDEO OF THIS: I get that not every headline can be perfect, but you have GOT to be careful in structuring these things when they touch on delicate topics:

There are several ways to read this, and most of them are not good…


WHEN A BAD BREAK MEETS A BAD PAIRING: I get that some “junk drawer” type columns mix a lot of stuff from various parts of the news, but it’s probably always best to keep serious news in the serious bin and the more feature-y stuff in the feature bin.

At the very least make sure your headline break doesn’t send people who wish to end a pregnancy to Milwaukee’s Big Gig:

And Finally…

THAT’S THE SPIRIT! At the end of June, I finished up the main writing and editing on my latest textbook, “Exploring Mass Communication.” It’s an intro text that took about three years and 1,942 revisions to get to this point. With that in mind, I figured I’d take a little break until the semester started.

Two weeks later, we lost one faculty member to a gig in the dean’s office, another to a private sector job and I’m suddenly teaching mass com law. Of all the things I didn’t want to do, teaching law came in second (Chairing the department came first, so that’s how I got law, I s’pose… Well, that and I’m sure my department realized sending me out into the real world to talk to academics on our behalf made as much sense as peanut-buttering your car…)

With two weeks left before school starts, I need to build an entirely online version of a class I never taught, powering through on the reduced mental capacity of a COVID patient, all while making sure I’m getting ready for the rest of the term. Oh, and did I mention we’re up for our accreditation visit this fall?

I have been told it’s important to have the proper spirit throughout this, so here you go:

Needless to say, we’re going on break until after Labor Day unless something really dramatic happens. If you control dramatic things, please make sure they don’t happen until then.


(a.k.a. The Doctor of Paper)




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