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Politically Incorrect

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Grandma was right - you really should be careful what you wish for

Careful What You Wish For

Very few of us end up working at the professions we always thought we’d like to have. When I was a kid, I really wanted to be a veterinarian. Then a young filly I owned managed to cut an artery near her hock. As I held a tourniquet on it while simultaneously loading her into the back of a friend’s pickup to take her to the vet, I discovered that I really didn’t want to be a vet after all. Then, for a short period of time, I wanted to be a nurse - all those "Cherry Ames" books I used to read as a kid, I’m sure. But pretty quick I realized that the same reasons I didn’t want to be a vet - blood, pain, fear - would apply to being a nurse as well.

Then I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be just like Stevie Nicks. But for some reason, God didn’t give me Stevie’s voice. So then I wanted to be a writer.

Well, lookie here.

Of course, I’m not really a writer. A writer, in my mind, is someone like J.K. Rowling who sits starving at some coffee shop, writing the world’s next best seller on a napkin, and then makes a fortune. That’s what I had in mind. I certainly hadn’t envisioned publishing a newspaper and all that entails, of which, by the way, very little turns out to be writing, and very little of which turns into money.

So as an adult, when I would sit wondering what I would do if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I thought I’d like to be a professional student.

Wouldn’t that be the life? Spending your days learning new things all the time, lost in that exciting world of new information, racing through worlds before unknown and soaking it all up like a sponge?

You know, I never thought of my Grandma as a genius, but she used to say, "Be careful what you wish for." Guess she was smarter than I thought.

In many ways, my life in the last year or so has been that of a professional student, and I’m ready to climb off that train, so to speak.

It all started last summer, when I learned more about prostate cancer than I ever wanted to know. When I started, I didn’t even really know what a prostate was. I knew it was something that men had and women didn’t, but I couldn’t have told you what its purpose was and what happened when it quit working like it should. To tell the truth, I don’t think I could even have told you where one could be found.

I can tell you now. In fact, I can tell you so much about prostates and what can go wrong with them, you would run screaming out of the room before I even got halfway through.

Then I got to learn about cervixes. Now on this one, I started out with a slight head start. I knew what a cervix was and I knew where to find it. I just didn’t know anything else about it, particularly what you would do if something was going wrong. Boy, did I learn.

While I was learning about cervixes and prostates, I was also doing some studying about breast cancer, seeing that one of my best friends - and a person I admire more than I could ever express - seemed to have that growing like wildfire throughout her system.

At about that time, I was wondering if I could apply for one of those life-experience degrees to get my doctorate in medicine.

Then I got to study law.

Now I know why you have to go to school for so many years in order to become an attorney.

First, you have to learn the language, and that can be pretty difficult because the law uses English, but not like any English you and I ever learned in school. The words are the same, but what they mean is a whole ‘nother story.

Then you have to learn the other language - all those words that you never learned in English class, but they’re gonna kick you in the butt if you don’t figure out what they mean now.

And then you have to learn the process, and I don’t want to even go there. Because, after a first-hand look, I have to tell you, I have some serious doubts about how all this works.

I would love to blame this one on George W. Bush, but I must admit, most of it was around long before he ever was. All I can say at this point is, I hope none of you ever find yourselves in the position that you feel you need to study the law.

And I think I would fail the bar exam, despite what is now more than a hundred hours in research.

Doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief... well, I haven’t had to learn how to be an Indian Chief lately, but how about becoming a webmaster?

That wasn’t even a word when I was in school.

Back when I first bought the River Journal in 2001, I put a website online. I didn’t do it out of any sense that the Internet was the wave of the future or anything. I did it because other newspapers were online, and I just happened to have a wonderful resource in the incredible people at Keokee Publishing who I knew would help me out. They did, and the River Journal online version went up and was updated regularly, or at least when I could find the time to do so.

In the years since then, newspapers, in general, have gone way downhill. The Internet, in most of the country, has been killing what is one of the most colorful industries around. It’s a darn shame, ‘cause I, for one, happen to like holding on to the thing I’m reading, and I can’t take a computer into the bathtub with me. Not even a laptop.

I can’t say that’s happened locally, or at least, I can’t say it’s happened to me. I haven’t seen any recent demographics, so to speak, but I would be surprised if a very large percentage of our local population was looking to get their news online.

I would be surprised if a very large percentage of our population even had online access!

But yes, the times do change and we must change along with them or fall off into the deadwood, so I’ve been giving some thought to the RJ website.

Truthfully, as I look at the stats and see how many people are actually reading the River Journal online, I’ve been looking at figuring out a way to make it pay for itself.

Websites are not inexpensive.

Someone, somewhere, would probably like an ad on our website. But try as I might, I just couldn’t figure out how to make it happen.

So it was off to a discussion with my favorite mentor, Chris Bessler at Keokee, and after that I immersed myself in a study of Internet publishing tools for websites.

Again, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know. And I’m still learning.

I decided what it was I wanted the RJ website to do, then researched ‘tools’ until I found one that would match my specifications. Or at least most of them. I thought I was done.

Oh, no. That was only the beginning.

Now I’m learning how to use the tool, and that’s a whole ‘nother degree in the process.

Although I’ve figured out how to make the Internet do what I want it to do in a number of areas, the work is far from done. And that means I’m not even close to a ‘launch’ of a new website for this online paper. But I’m getting there.

That is, unless you tell me different. Because now’s your chance - if you read this newspaper online, or if you want to read this newspaper online but don’t because you don’t like how our current website works, I need to hear from you, so you can tell me what ideas you have you want me to incorporate in our redesign. Because once I’m done with this, I don’t want to go back and do it again!

I’ve already heard from some of you, and thanks to your input our new website will allow you (I think) to comment on articles; will allow you to upload information you want us to have (press releases, submissions, etc...); will allow for static article addresses so, when you link to an article and I later move it to an archive, your link won’t be broken (I can’t believe I even understand what that last means, but that’s how far I’ve come in the last few months); and if you buy ads on our website, we’ll be able to give you some demographics that show you the best placement for where to put them. Of course, we’ll have that information as well, so we’re gonna charge you accordingly.

If you have feedback for our website upgrade, send it to me. And use the new technology - send it via email to [email protected]

And if you know how I can turn the last year’s study into a (medical, legal, technology) degree, let me know however you can... email, write or give me a call! ‘cause I have to admit - I’m not really sure that I want to be a life long student anymore.

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Author info

Landon Otis

Tagged as:

cancer, technology, Chris Bessler, Keokee Publishing, law

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