In a Word, Local

The concept of hyperlocal news seemed so small to me. Before I took on the task of reading and deciphering at least three hyperlocal news sites, I thought it best to determine what exactly is hyperlocal news.

Well folks that is exactly what hyperlocal is. News and information oriented around a well-defined community with the primary information directed at that community. It is your local community paper.

With my need-to-know satisfied, I began as suggested with Chicago Journalism Review. I  listened to some well choreographed podcasts, read some interesting articles. Nice work! I moved on to find some hyperlocal news sites.  I checked out Net News Check, which is all about hyperlocal sites all over the country, more like an information site about hyperlocal news sites and journalists. Then I read Patch. The AOL spin off, after it spun out, burned out and crashed because it was just too big to support itself. Though, some of the journalists that were laid off and/or fired went back home undefeated with a new idea. Start their own hyperlocal news sites. I read several of them and they were good, fun and informative.

I understand how it would be difficult to make a great deal of money by operating a hyperlocal news site if it were going to run like a large newspaper. That is just the ‘thing’, it cannot be. It is back to the ‘mom and pop store’ concept. A few good journalists and a revved up local sales executive who knows how to talk to the community. Hyperlocal news is the direction of your local News at 6 with whomever. Perhaps those big corporate run papers will soon be obsolete. Hyperlocal news just may be where we get all news, all the time. In a word, refreshing.

Sunday Brunch with the Monks

Rarely would I be this excited about a photojournalism piece. The reason, the words that accompany journalism is photo, otherwise known as photographs or pictures. These words immediately cause me to raise my left brow or sneer, sometimes both, at the same time. The why, my father. He decided upon retirement he should have a hobby, he chose photography. I was his chosen lackey. Many a Saturday morning I was roused from my cozy bed at 4:00 a.m. and I lumbered out of the house with camera bags, tripod and all his amassed camera paraphernalia. Looking back, perhaps this is why I am now the one behind the lens.

This is a whole new adventure and I am inspired. The Buddhist Monks at Wat Temple live on a beautiful piece of land just off Palm River Road. On Sundays there is an open-air market and anything Thai you might enjoy eating is prepared, served and sold by any one of the many vendors. There are vendors that sell plants, herbs, orchids, spices and a bottled drink for a mere dollar. The market alone is worth the trip.

The piece de resistance is the Wat Mongkolratanaram, also known as the Thai Temple., Wat Temple or just the Temple. On Sundays, from 12:00 p.m. until 12:45 p.m. a speaker gives a mini Buddhism overview, participants are encouraged to ask questions. This takes place just prior to the 1:00 p.m. service. During this service  the Monks chant, meditate and recite in Thai their prayers.

In actuality you cannot have brunch with the Monks,it is a sacred time. As a matter of fact, so much so that they are forbidden to make their own meals. Various groups of practicing Buddhists in the By area volunteer to bring meals to the house where the group lives, it too is on the Palm River property. My cat Lucy must be a Monk because she too has her meals prepared for her and she doesn’t care to have spectators either.

If you ever wondered Buddhism, or you are simply curious about what a Buddhist Temple looks like. I will do my best to tell the story in picture. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.


Aromatherapy: Healing or Hoax

Since as early as 2000 BC, the ancient Egyptians had an appreciation for essential oils in every aspect of their lives. They utilized it for both beauty, healing and in death. The story of Cleopatra cannot be told without discussing her narcissism, as she believed she was one of the most beautiful women, if not the most beautiful woman in Egypt. Her beauty was attributed to her use of oils. When an Egyptian was prepared for burial they were wrapped with linens soaked in expensive oils. When King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered there were alabaster jars full of various oils, though some had already been emptied. There must be something to it, the thieves left the gold.

Not to give Egypt the spotlight.  Greece famous for Hippocrates, the Greek physician, advised many that consulted him for healing, “The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage daily.” He probably could afford the expensive oils and had concubines to perform the massages, right?  India is known for the term Ayurveda, Sanskrit for ‘life knowledge’. The Vedas, India’s sacred book mentions more than 600 different herbs and aromatics.  The Romans used aromatics to extreme decadence and as many know the Chinese have been using herbs, plants and oils as their healing essentials since the Ruler Shennong, the “Yellow Emperor” ruled in the 27th century BC.

So where am I going with this, you may be asking. I am going to delve into the health or hoax of what has been going on since Adam and Eve. Yes, even the Bible has references to aromatics. As the story goes the three kings of the Orient brought frankincense and myrrh. Join me on this journey, it should prove interesting.

Please Wait…….Blow Now

Dempsey Page watches these words in red crawl across the handset of her Ignition Interlock device anywhere from five to ten times day, every day.  She states enthusiastically with a gleam in her eyes,” I only have 29 days to go.” She has had the device for 11 months.

Dempsey Page offers to demonstrate the routine she must adhere to before her car will start. “You press this white button” she says, “then you wait.”  While she taps her finger on the console she goes on, “I have often thought what if someone were following me and I frantically get into my car? Then I have to wait for this blasted thing (pointing to the handset in her hand) to get warmed up.” The device beeps and the crawl reads BLOW NOW. Dempsey’s cheeks fill like a water balloon, she lifts the handset to her mouth and tilts it sideways. She explains, “I have to be able to read it.” She blows for approximately five seconds. The handset reads HUM, she hums as though chanting a mantra. All the while her eyes stay focused on the handset, INHALE appears, she complies. She drops the handset in a small pocket in the console. Waiting she says with a humorous tone and sly grin, “When friends ride with me they each have their slang for my skills in pleasing a guy.” Not missing a beat she continues to explain, “You must wait for the special beep that means pass.” The word PASS crawls across the screen on the handset. Ready, Set, Go. She turns the key to the ignition. Dempsey is now on her way for the day.

Dempsey Page joins the approximate 9 thousand Floridians who do this every day. Not just for a week, a month, from six months, the very minimum to five years. In Florida since 2003, ignition interlock devices are no longer a discretionary sentencing option, it is a mandate for a blood alcohol concentration (BrAC) measuring 00.15 and above.

Dempsey concluded with, “This isn’t just about money, although you spend a lot of it. This is a major irritation daily.” In 29 days, she will be free of this ‘daily irritation’.


In the Chaos of Irma

Hurricane Irma was devastating to so many. I feel rather petty being upset that she totally mocked my enthusiasm and positive persistence that I would make my interview with Chaplain Major Don Smith of the Salvation Army, Pinellas Park, FL happen. I have such a good sense that the topic of the Salvation Army and who leads their march in Pinellas Park, FL, and the type of article that can come out of this interview.

Since this was my virgin interview I believe I quite possibly over prepared. Can you do that? I read from the web about the very beginning of the Salvation Army International .  I reached out to the Adult Rehabilitation Center office in Pinellas Park. With that in mind I researched the web for articles about the Salvation Army ARC. Right after Sunday worship service Chaplain Major Smith, his wife Major Ann Smith and their son Drew Smith, and I were going to meet for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Afterwards, I would meet with two staff that currently work for the program and proceed to meet with two or three current participants. So I researched the Salvation Army ARC, St. Petersburg, FL. I was ready down to the recorder. It was all set for Sunday, September 10, 2017.

My first disappointment in writing. Something had to be my first, simply sorry this was it. I am still quite excited to interview the Salvation Army personnel and participants it has simply been interrupted by the “worst storm, Irma to hit the US. EVER.”, quote from CNN on Sunday, September 10, 2017.

I will remain enthusiastic, positive and persistent. The interview will happen, it just may not be my first.

Irma is Teaching Me Something

As I sit here listening to the rain attack the window Lucy the cat at my feet, funny how animals seem to sense something, I ponder the outcome of the next 24 hours.  I have resisted going anywhere. As one of my dear friends pointed out, that I am quite a stubborn woman. I realize that is has only been in the last six to eight months that I have become stubborn. When it comes to doing what other people want for or from me I have begun to say no. Please note it has taken me 60 years to gain this attribute. I totally took a stand here. I said, “No I am not going to leave my new place! I feel totally safe”. I do, I am not doing this to prove a point. Perhaps I can attribute this to new attitude to Irma.

Thieves, Prostitutes, Gamblers and Drunkards

Hardly the ones expected to answer the cry of the Salvation Army. Yet they were the first converts to Christianity preaching and singing in the street. All in an effort to be a living testimony to the power of God. The Salvation Army originally named “The Christian Mission” originated in 1865 in London, England and was strictly made up of volunteers and evangelists.

The story of the Salvation Army and Chaplain Major Don Smith is beautiful and rich in both history and accomplishment. Just like William Booth and his band of Salvationists Chaplain Smith preaches to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.

Today, the Salvation Army is virtually in every corner of the world and serves some 100 countries. It continues to reach out to thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunkards.

I am so looking forward to interviewing Chaplain Major Smith. So far I have come up with the following questions, with possible revision. I would be interested in comments or suggestions. If you were going to interview him, what would you want to know?

  1. Who is your role model?
  2. What motivates you daily?
  3. When was the decision made to join the Salvation Army as a pastor?
  4. Where have you lived? Favorite? Least favorite?
  5. How does your family feel about this lifestyle?
  6. What is one of the most significant projects you have been involved with?
  7. If you could change one thing about the Salvation Army what would it be? Why
  8. What has been your biggest disappointment?
  9. What is something you would like people to know about the Salvation Army?
  10. What’s next?

Have a safe and lovely evening and here’s hoping Irma heads way east, out into oblivion.