Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mrs. Hodge Podge

After the coordinated chaos of the holidays, you’d think I’d be raring to get myself together in the new year. Instead, my January mindset keeps jumping around like a one-legged rabbit on a trampoline.

Since I’m operating on snippets of intellect these days, that’s all you’ll get in this space today.


Sometimes, the English language (or, more accurately, the U.S.-ish language) just tickles the daylights out of me.

A friend told me about a San Luis Obispo cop who was trying to haul someone to jail so the inebriate could sleep it off. The wobbly detainee protested loudly, “You can’t arrest me. I’ve got my arrestitutional rights.”


I hate buying a new cellular phone. But this time I’ve been told — rather peremptorily, I thought — that I don’t have a choice.

I won’t get into the pro or con debate about putting disguised cellular towers on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. I love trees, I believe in safeguarding protected property. I rely heavily on my cell phone.

‘Nuff said.

But I believe it’s a given that cell reception and broadcast quality in Cambria are the pits.

How bad is it? In order to do my job on the North Coast, I have to carry two phones, one each from two different carriers. Even then, I can only connect to a network about half the time.

So, when a cellular provider — unfortunately, it’s the one with the best signal in most areas — tells me I’ve got until Feb. 18 to switch phones, it does get my attention. But the situation makes me want to stamp my feet and shake my fists like a petulant 4-year-old.

My “old style” cell phone is about to go the way of running boards, dodo birds and carbon paper. The carrier is disconnecting from the analog network that shuttles calls to my phone.

Grump, grump.

As is the case with most people in Cambria, I hate being told what I must do or what’s going to happen, without me being able to put in my two-cents worth before the decision is made.

I don’t want to go to San Luis Obispo to buy a new phone. I don’t want a new phone. I especially don’t want to go through the angst-ridden decision-making process again … especially when it’s not my idea.

In this case I just want a phone that always connects to people I call or who call me. Is that too much to ask?


Overheard on a San Francisco street corner, one enthusiastic fellow to another: “I just can’t believe you’re walking around with no underwear on!”


Several readers asked how The Cambrian got your news to The Tribune during the big storm earlier this month.

The short answer is: from my kitchen.

Nearly all of Cambria, including the newspaper’s offices, was without power for quite a while. No lights, no phones, no desktop computers, no Internet.

That doesn’t, of course, mean no news.

Fortunately our house has several old-fashioned, hard-wired telephones that function during power outages. If you don’t have one in your home, I strongly recommend getting one.

During the storm, when I wasn’t out in the rain and wind dodging falling branches and taking photos of scrunched homes and vehicles, I was standing at my kitchen counter, taking notes by lantern light and using my chin to clutch the prehistoric phone against my shoulder.

Because I had no way to send the latest news from my battery-powered laptop computer to the City Desk in San Luis Obispo, I’d call in the updates.

It was like being in an old Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movie. I kept expecting someone to run through the dining room yelling, “Rewrite! Stop the presses.”

Later, The Tribune went through much more serious travails with the nightly print deadline looming.

They had no lights, no regular phones, no electricity and a malfunctioning generator. Even so, the team managed to put out a paper anyway by relying on remarkably stubborn ingenuity, the help of friends and several far-flung offsite locations.

They’re amazing. My hat’s off to ’em.


Sticker seen on the back bumper of a big, big brute of a four-by: “Get over it, guys. Trucks are for gals!”

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