Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Panel: Managing a newspaper

So it turns out this panel I’m going to be apart of in San Diego is not as big a deal as I originally imagined. Instead of standing in front of hundreds of young junior college journalists with an eye-popping PowerPoint slideshow showcasing all that makes The Sentinel amazing, in all actuality I’ll probably just be sitting at a table with two dimwitted managing editors from lesser schools.

Nevertheless, my unyielding effort of instilling a respect from those in attendance toward NIC has yet to waver. Although, considering I’ll be next to the editor from Spokane Falls Community College and another no-name from Ohio, it won’t take much to impress the room.

Hopefully that’s all I need, as I have yet to begin my presentation.

Frankly I have not one bit of advice that would work for another paper – where The Sentinel succeeds is in our ability to come together as a cohesive, name-calling, derogatory group of editors and writers and photographers under the dictatorship known as THE JAKE. Maybe that should be my speech?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mexico? Here I come!


When all seemed ill-fated as my birth certificate proved harder to find than a minority in Coeur d’Alene, alas, it appeared!

What does this mean?

While I won’t be getting jaw-dropping drunk in Tijuana as originally planned, I will, at the very least, make my way across the border for the sole purpose to say that I’ve been outside the US. And, who knows, maybe if I miraculously improve from the impoverished money-lacking self that I currently am, I might just pony up for a shot or two of tequila and make my rounds through a dirty bar and see something my eyes were not meant to see.

Either way, I still plan on making facetime at the convention (although only few of the sessions interest me, aside from the one I’m speaking at!).

You must be this tall to ride

Lately, it seems, my life has resembled that all-too-cliché rollercoaster of emotions moreso than not. You see, between my rollercoaster obsession in producing the perfect perennial publication for San Diego’s journalism convention and my sheer passion for everything Ken Griffey Jr., I’ve been flying high and crashing low more often than a senile, menopause-laden transsexual.

When the news broke that Griffey was signing with the Mariners over a week ago, I boisterously displayed my unrivaled excitement – no lie, I literally trembled, with a single tear transcending my cheek: The prodigal son was returning to where he belongs!

Then the Atlanta Braves had to crush my dreams with a tomahawk.

They tried to reel in my main man, my childhood hero and the sole reason I played baseball as kid away from the Emerald City. My heart was literally ripped from my chest and squeezed into a bloody pulp. 0517_large

But then Chuck Armstrong (M’s president) made a few phone calls, and it seemed Seattle was still in this thing!

But then an Atlanta newspaper announced Griffey signed with Atlanta.

But then it was noted that Griffey denied those rumors.

But then Griffey didn’t sign with Seattle.

But then Griffey DID SIGN with Seattle, making it official! He was back, baby!

This time I was timid, however, for my dreams had already been crushed once before in the prior week.

But then there was a news conference.

And I cried those same tears of joy when I saw Junior in my favorite baseball cap, and I knew it was real. I pinched myself to make sure, but I knew it was real. March 17 is when single game tickets go on sale, 070622_Griffey_hmed_10p.hmediumand I guarantee I will be purchasing one of the closest seats in Safeco Field to witness the return of the original architect who singlehandedly saved baseball in Seattle en route to “The House that Griffey Built.” (See picture at right: Mariners’ poster boys Edgar Martinez – holding the frame – and bald Jay “The Bone” Buhner presenting Griffey a frame proclaiming just that, during his first game back to Seattle with the Reds last summer).

Ben Lee will be there with me, and we will cry as the announcer once more beckons: “Ladies and Gentleman, for the first time in a Mariners’ uniform since 1999, here comes No. 24 on the field, No. 1 in our hearts: Kennnnnnnnnnn Griffffffffeyyyyyyyy, Juuuuuuuuuunior!”

It gives me goosebumps just imagining it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My house smells like burnt pizza


Friday night got a little crazy… I got home around 2 a.m. and threw in a ready-to-bake pizza that I had been craving all night. The oven set at 400, my golden deliciousness covered in pepperoni was set in place while I would only wait for 20 minutes.

I hit the couch, threw on some South Park, and the next thing I notice is a house full of smoke! Whilst my mind wandered about feverishly trying to comprehend the cause of said clouds, I noticed the clock said 8 a.m.!!

That pizza pictured above was harder than a hockey puck after spending the better part of 6 hours in my oven at 400 degrees! While I thought I was shutting my eyes but a few seconds after surfing to some South Park, I fell fast asleep.

There was good news and bad news to be taken from his diabolical deed of debauchery. The Good: As much smoke as filled the house, there was no fire to be had in the oven! Thank heavens… That could have been bad.

Well, the bad news is such that shall be remembered for days: That smoke filtered its way into every room in the house, and thus I now have a bedroom reeking of burnt pepperoni pizza.

I’m now 2 bottles of Febreeze and a cinnamon candle away from a pizza-free house!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why? Because I can

I might decide to run for the president of my school's student government this semester for the sole reason of dispersing fliers such as this across campus...

Monday, February 16, 2009

San Diego = Last Chance to Take it Serious

Long story short, the past week was one to remember. Not only did everything that could possibly go wrong concerning everything Sentinel-related, but we came through in the clutch and produced a newspaper worthy of the grandest award San Diego has to boast.

Indeed, my only goal this term has been to win San Diego. What’s more, now that I am going to be speaking at the convention, I decided that instead of frolicking amongst the throngs of frat boys in Tijuana enjoying a Donkey show and drowning myself in a tequila (my steadfast dream since 9th grade), I will now be attending the vast majority of this convention.

Maybe it’s because I’m speaking at this one, or maybe it’s because we’re on the West Coast, but something tells me that maybe I should buck up and act a bit more professional: network with other papers, meet future employers, etc.

Past conventions have been but mere drunkfests for me and my fellow attendees. But not this time: I can get drunk anywhere.

Two things happened in Kansas City during the October convention: (1)- I got tremendously intoxicated most of the time and blew off the convention almost completely; and (2)- I made an ass out of myself to all other attendees.

Not this time.

Week of hell was worth it

Over the past week, I spent more than 80 hours working on The Sentinel, including a stint until 5 a.m. this morning where I only slept for 2.5 hours before returning to the office at 8. While that virus proved to be nothing more than a mere hindrance, it still evoked a sentiment from me concerning all those involved with the paper: Most people – in all their splendid glory, their greatest successes and most brilliant moments – are no more than friggin’ retards.

As a staff, we are the greatest in the country. Individually? May God have mercy on our souls.

At certain points I wanted to throw computers from windows, toss people down stairs and very sincerely beat the living shit out of every single person within 100-feet of me and my computer. Alas, I obliged to the whims of what my advisor would undoubtedly wish (me not doing any of those things), and instead tried teaching.

Holy hell, it actually worked.

I soon realized that perhaps the reason for my disdain was my lack of communication. Nevertheless, every soul with a by-line in MY paper (I say “my paper” because I treat this thing like it’s the fruit of my loins) literally improved in one aspect or another last week.

But – while I seemingly address this very statement following each new Sentinel – we became a better college newspaper than the previous issue, and in the process created the most visually stunning masterpiece North Idaho College has ever known.

Here are some of my favorite pages from this issue (see all of my favorites here).

Nils (our advisor) disagreed on the importance of the male and female figures underneath the headline “Enrollment Explodes…” And, just like most issues, I went with my instinct and ran the design as I imagined it, rather than succumbing to Nil’s advice. I know he’s right – they should actually mean something – but I still think they look good the way I eventually printed, and if a paper looks good, people will pick it up. But, who knows, Nils is usually right.

condom week

When Noah told me his idea for the headline concerning this article (Octopussy), I originally said, “No dice.” When he informed me it was a play off a James Bond movie, however, I instantly realized the design possibilities. With the help of our talented staff artist, we produced what has now become my all-time favorite page design. And the article – about a lady who birthed eight children through in-vetro fertilization – is quite humorous.



I toyed with the design on this page for almost four days. I had roughly five or six different ideas, but on Saturday decided to go with this. I would have much rather not use John as the “model” in the page simply because he is on the Sentinel staff (and Nils was, again, vehemently against the idea of using a staff member’s photo). But overall, it works. Sure, his head grew a little upon seeing his huge picture on page A2, but he posed perfectly for the exact photo I wanted. The best part about the photo illustration is that I photoshopped it to look like NIC’s science building is in the background: Since guns are illegal on college campuses, we would undoubtedly get in major trouble had we taken this picture for real.



Now this little ditty was busted out originally over two hours on Sunday night. Although, for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I accidentally saved a blank page over the file. I spent the subsequent 45 minutes combing the internet in search of a remedy – there were none. The nice thing, though, is that I only took 22 minutes to recreate the page from scratch; thank God I had a printout to go by.



Obviously there were more (18 more pages, to be exact), but these are by far my favorite of the issue. And the greatest solace I have is knowing we should be 100% error-free. After last issue’s botched abortion of a typo-ridden paper, we spent countless hours the past few days screening printouts for problematic prose.

While we obviously spent the extra effort to make this baby perfect for San Diego’s competition, it feels good to offer students a phenomenal paper. Hopefully they’ll actually read it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day?

It definitely sucks not living with (let alone not living in the same state with) the woman I’ll be spending the rest of my life. It especially sucked during V-Day when I couldn’t see her, and seeing how all those little retards around me took for granted their significant other.

Anyways, I just thought I’d post my favorite picture of my favorite woman who ever granted me the time of day. My buddy just proposed to his girl last night, and I must admit I’m jealous.

I’m pretty pathetic, I guess, as I cannot wait to be a husband and pop out children like I’m running a YMCA. Soccer dad? You better believe it!

This is what she looked like for the birthday party thrown by that same buddy who just proposed. It was a ‘70s theme, and she was the best-looking babe in the building (like usual).


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gene’s Truck

Just found this little guy I made for my cousin during hunting season. 

I think it looks pretty sweet.

Look closely and you'll notice a figure holding a gun out the driver's window....

gene's truck copy

Monday, February 9, 2009

The agony continues

So it’s been 12 hours since that raging virus destroyed my hopes and dreams of a best in show (read about virus here). Alas, I am not freaking out as much as I figured I might, as things went freakishly well this afternoon. Of course, It took a 12-hour day to get things set up for this upcoming week of hell.

We bought two 4 GB flash drives to help transfer photos, pages and stories between computers, thus enabling us to cope with no server. I explained to all on staff our current dilemma, and feel confident we can actually bust this baby out.

Now, maybe, I can actually start working on the three major feature articles I so willingly decided to pen by myself.


"San Diego, we have a problem."

Of all the days and all the weeks that a disaster on campus could have happened, the diabolical newspaper gods chose the week I am set to create my Sentinel masterpiece. Why did the server crash this week? Why, oh dear God, why did a computer virus spread through our campus like AIDs through Africa?

Is it my fault? Was my last hippy-condemning opinion article too much for you? I literally felt it was a rich, compelling piece worthy of much admiration. 

No, it could not have been that. Was it the typo-ridden issue as a whole? I swear, it wasn't my fault -- we have but one copy editor!

Needless to say, this issue must to be absolutely perfect, as it will be our submission for the "Best of Show" awards in San Diego. So, indeed, it makes perfect sense that everything capable of going wrong thus far has done exactly that: With no server, reporters cannot save their articles into the normal space for editors to edit; page designers cannot save over templates for their current design; nor can photographers share photos with designers and editors.

In a word: catastrophic.

If I can somehow pull this issue off without any more glaring mishaps (which will probably require about 100 hours from me before we print in a week), then I am officially amazing. Stay posted, as I'm chronicling this entire issue -- so if I die in production, at least somebody will know why.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Anabolic A-Rod

According to a Sports Illustrated article, my second favorite baseball player of all time tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003. While this certainly comes as a raging surprise, it should be noted that there were no o_arodgriffmandatory drug tests or punishments back in ‘03, the same year I graduated from Junction City High School (see? No matter the topic, I can always spin it to involve me!).

So what if Alex Rodriguez was on the juice when he batted .298 and led the league in homers en route to his first MVP award? He technically wasn’t breaking any rules since there were none involving steroids.

However, this makes me wonder: What if Griffey had juiced up during his injury-prone earlier years? Might he have 700 homers already, maybe reaching 756 before Bonds? The world will never know. Fortunately, at least, he will go down as a steroids-free purest of players and first ballot Hall of Famer.

Let’s just hope he goes down AFTER a final stint in Seattle.

Friday, February 6, 2009


My camera came with a pretty sweet program called PhotoStitch. It merges multiple images into a panoramic photo that turns out pretty sweet. You can also do this in Photoshop, but since I have only CS2, it’s not as seamless as in, say, CS3 or CS4.

No worries, as I’m pretty stoked about some of the panos I’ve already made. They’re not so much awesome pictures, but the views are what I love.

(They look better if you click on them to make them larger).

Backside of Mt. Fernan where we set up Hunting Camp in ‘05/’06



Lake Coeur d’Alene in November



Lake Cd’A from the freeway (not high quality, I’ll redo this one later).


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Good thing I love my voice

Obviously I’ve never been one to keep to myself. My opinion is a very great one, and I love bringing awareness toward my cause to all who offer an open ear. Indeed, you probably couldn’t say I’m just a humble kid from Coeur d’Alene, as I very much love to hear my voice.

Nevertheless, when it comes to public speaking, I’ve always been a fan. Whether giving speeches in high school and college, award ceremonies with the Little League teams I’ve coached, or even announcing the awards I judged to a very large conference room of high school newspaper staffs, I lean a little more into the spotlight than away from it.

However, I recently spent quite a while deciding whether to be involved in a panel discussion in San Diego this month discussing my role in running a college newspaper. Sure, making a room full of soccer moms laugh is one thing, but coming across as a serious journalist – nay, a real life editor-in-chief – to an entire room full of those who consider themselves as such is quite the jump from Park and Rec!

But I accepted.

My only qualm comes in the scheduling of the speech: Saturday morning at 10 a.m. That’s a good spot as far as the convention is concerned, but not so much when I had planned on spending the night before in a Tijuana bar. However, I must realize that an event such as this doesn’t come around all too often. How many times will I be in position to actually talk about all things newspaper-related that I love (from Front page design to feature writing, managing a staff of 40 to selling ads in a paper that doesn’t need them) to an entire room full of people who are actually listening to me?

I have a hard enough time talking to most people about anything and having them listen to me.

So if I must move my Tijuana dream back a day, that is perfectly fine. I can go to Mexico any time (although this will be my first), but the experience at this convention will last a lifetime.

And by that, I mean people will forever remember me. You know, because I’m just a humble guy from Coeur d’Alene.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“A Whale’s Vagina”

“Discovered by the Germans in 1904,” says Ron Burgandy, “they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina.”ron_burgundy

Since the movie Anchorman came out in 2004, I have yearned to visit the home of the Chargers. And now, only five years later, I have my chance: The Associated Collegiate Press’ Spring Journalism Convention.

Now, as much as I wish I could say Ron Burgundy is my greatest inspiration to visit this glorious city just minutes from Tijuana’s famous donkey show, alas, I have other motives: My ego.

You see, my greatest satisfaction from a similar convention held in Kansas City last October came when The Sentinel won “Best of Show” (the only school to win that in TWO categories, thank you very much…). Yet that was to be expected, as the paper won one of those same awards the previous year. Not to mention, a pacemaker (only three papers in our division were named that prestigious honor).

I’m used to the paper winning awards. What I’m not used to, however, is The Sentinel sweeping every award they can. And that is my only goal this year. But to enter the spring west coast convention “Best of Show” contest, somebody from the school must be present. Who better than the managing editor?

imageThe only problem: Last issue of The Sentinel (as much as I praised it’s design/layout earlier) was friggin’ horrible! There were more spelling mistakes and typos, even blatant screw-ups that should have been caught my copy editors – not me! – to make this issue a no-go for SD. That means the upcoming issue, next week, must be absolutely perfect!

I have no doubt we will succeed. We always seem to come together when it matters most.

So if we take home gold in Southern California, the next competition is New York with the College Media Advisors annual convention. I won’t be attending that convention, however we’ve won for a decade straight (with MUCH worse papers), thus I am not worried.

San Diego, moreover, is my only concern right now. We take S.D., then the Big Apple, then all that’s left is the Idaho Press Club, SPJ Region 10 Mark of Excellence and then Pacemaker this fall.

The best year of the Sentinel (as far as my research shows) is winning all but two of those. So as long as we take all but one – the SPJ is my only true concern, although the issues we submitted were incredibly superior – I have faith in closing this year on top. I’m not cocky, just confident.

You stay classy, San Diego.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cool photos (for me, at least…)

Lake Cd’A from Cherry Hill


Lake Cd’A: Silver Beach


I-90 near Mullan Trail



Mullan Trail Overpass

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Best Sentinel issue ever? Perhaps…

No lie, this may be the most creatively diverse Sentinel issue I have ever been a part of. We’ve got awesome winter sports photos canceledfrom a certain Mr. Tim Sorenson (see skier on top of front page). Not to mention stellar opinion pieces (see mine on blogging), well-written news articles, impressive sports coverage (beating our rival men’s basketball team at home for only the second and third time in 5 years – by a 60-foot buzzer beater to win, no less!! – doesn’t hurt) and our newest editor is filling some pretty big shoes (after Eli bolted for India) quite simmingly.

Needless to say, having the biggest staff on record doesn’t hurt, either. But it takes a whole team of editors to pull this bad boy off, and the sky is literally the limit for this semester.

There were also some pretty sweetly design pages, if I do say so myself. Check 'em out.

I damn near guarantee the best 5 issues of The Sentinel (ever) will be produced between January and May 2009. Call me goofy, call me cocky, just don’t call me in the morning. I need some serious sleep after putting this bad boy together all weekend.