A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
The other day I was grappling with bill paying, and one of the envelopes I'd been ignoring drifted to the top. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel home delivery invoice arrives quarterly, and sometimes I don't get around to paying it right away. I know they'll keep delivering for awhile, and someone will call eventually to remind me. Then I sift through the piles, find the statement, add in the tip, contribute to the education fund to get papers to school kids when I'm flush, and write out the check. Or go online to pay: more about that later.
Without a job, I question every penny I spend. Why buy the paper when I can get the electrons for close to free? I check WauwatosaNOW.com daily, and I can do the same with the online version of the Journal Sentinel.
But then the Thursday paper arrives, and I open it looking for the Wauwatosa NOW issue. It's true that I'm looking to see whether one of my blogs "made" the hard copy. But that's not the first thing, really. I read in depth what I may already have skimmed online. The online version lets me know what's happening closer to real time. I read a paragraph or two to get the who-what-when-where-why. But the hardcopy version seems to develop the content--even when it's the same--and reading there allows the information to stick.
The often excellent photos are bigger, and they tell the story better. Ads pop: I find myself unable to avoid reading them. Tosa To Go and What's New are interesting columns that only appear in the paper. And frankly, it's much easier to find and follow the calendar of community and civic activities there.
I even read the sports in hard copy. Something about having all the pieces--swimming, girl's basketball, hockey, boy's basketball, whatever--all together that makes it approachable.
Some say the preference for hard copy is a generational thing, and it will pass. Maybe that's true. But I suspect even the e-generations will come to understand the need for slow-media in addition to the faster variety. Aside from the ability to absorb slower media better, there's something about everyone being "on the same page" that creates opportunities for civic and personal conversations.
This week, I had coffee at Alterra on 92nd and North and at Cranky Al's. I know: that hardly sounds like "counting every penny." But people need to be in the company of other people sometimes, and cafes are one of the places we do that.
Alterra's a laptop community, and many tables were occupied for a long time by individuals--even couples--staring at their own private screens. (Buy another cup of coffee, would you?) Al's has a few of those, but it's also a newspaper community. And when you know someone at the next table is reading the same front page you are, it's easy to lower the paper, raise your voice, and say something seductive, like "How 'bout that Blagojevich?" Providing you know how to pronounce it, that is.
Being short on checks (if you're too young to know what those are, write me and I'll explain), I went online to re-up my Journal subscription. Alas, the company is slow to learn that computers can be their friend. My account had a defunct e-mail address, and there's no way to change your own profile or e-mail support for help. So I called the customer service department, waited about 10 minutes through persistent prompts to go online to manage my account, and finally talked to a real person. She gave the system permission to re-register me, I did, and all was well.
But you'd think a business in trouble would want to make it easy for people to buy their product, wouldn't you?
Normally I'd be reluctant to suggest that you do as I do. But reading online lets you know fast, while buying papers helps protect real journalism and gives you good garden mulch, not to mention chances to flirt with strangers. Though come to think of it, a spiffy new piece of hardware also does the latter job. . .