Ice cream… by Dan Hines

Guest blogger, Dan Hines hopes you enjoy the warmer months. Savor his words, and maybe a vanilla cone, dipped in butterscotch.

Ice cream isn’t just ice cream.

Right? Follow along… you know this.

A scoop next to your slice of birthday cake? Joyous. A scoop at 1am, watching reruns of shows that were awful the first time around while sleeplessly pondering life choices? A little sad, a little soothing. It’s nearly a weapon, the power ice cream holds for me. A weapon with Hershey’s syrup. As a kid, we rarely had ice cream in the house. Ice cream was birthday food. But then summer would arrive: ice cream season! For me, ice cream has always been about people, places… and Dad.

I spent most of my life in Southern PA. But for 4 long, dark years during middle school, I lived in Bath, Ohio. It was a beautiful area with great friends, but I was bullied. A lot. I don’t know if my folks knew, but was it a coincidence that during the bleakest times Dad would suggest, “Miniature golf?” Ice cream included was understood. My father is a man of few words. He’s a man who speaks through actions. But he’s a magician. He just knows. You don’t need to say a word, he just knows. He knows when ice cream needs to appear.

Yesterday, my father came to town. He visits twice a month to offer assistance, given my current condition. We visit the doctor, run errands, get haircuts… I’m 10 all over again. 10-year-old Dan. Only the 47-year-old version with the cane can’t keep up. Across the parking lot we see it at the same time. Dairy Queen.

“Want some DQ?”

“Yes!”

I won’t lie, it’s been an especially rough patch lately. But there it was…ice cream. And so I’m sitting across the table from Dad, and we’re talking. But I don’t hear a word he’s saying. His lips are moving, but my mind is somewhere else. I’m having ice cream in Bath, Ohio. I’m licking drips from a cone at a picnic table at Lake Winnipesaukee. I’m ordering a Blizzard at the DQ in Kennett Square. I’m in the parking lot eating ice cream in Winchester, VA. I’m 10 years old with Dad and a new haircut. And I know how lucky I am.

Ice cream is just ice cream. Right?

Nope. Just like Dad….it’s always there, and it’s magic. (You know this.)

wdq

 

News Without Noise…by Steve Safran

Remember what it was like to get the daily news back before it was terrifying or held in your very hand? Before the wrong combination of likes or dislikes or posts or comments could brand you as UNCLEAN for billions to mock or deride, even though you might have only accidentally landed on cut/paste/post while searching for car keys or spare change? Remember when an essay masking as “news” couldn’t be immediately discounted by snopes.com, or when journalism itself was a noble profession assumed to be grounded in a search for truth?

This is my life right now, and I completely enjoy it.

There’s very little I like about Life Without Screens, mind you. My DVR is bloated with episodes I’ve missed, and is now groaning with repeats of shows gone by. My fault. I never envisioned a two-month hiatus from must-see TV. But I am actually improving: up to about an hour of screen time a day now, nearly as much allotted to a well behaved first grader. While moving video will still hurl me into dizzy fits and land me back in my bedroom cave, to Britt’s enormous relief, I’m not sending badly-typed copy either.

I broke my typewriter. And this wasn’t in a fit of frustration. I really meant well, and threaded a c.1930s style ribbon quite expertly, I thought. But maybe not so expertly since all of the keys to the left of “V” now strike the paper in concert, sticking there like so many commuters stopped at a locked turnstile. I may be excellent at fixing electronics, but I’m a hopeless handyman.

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What I have discovered in my forced vacation from screens is the news. A journalist discovering news? Yes. The news that lured me into this field in 1992 is back, at least the way I consume it. I have an Amazon Echo (“Alexa? What’s the news?”) which gives me frequent national and local updates from NPR and WBUR. I read honest to God newspapers when I can tolerate the light. I discuss current events with Kim and kind friends who have been coming by to visit. It’s 1989 up in here.

I’m a digital media guy, and I wouldn’t like to live this way forever. I’d prefer to get news from a variety of sources around the world. Due respect to our city’s newspapers, but I prefer many different points of view. And I’ve always been the social media guru, traveling from station to station to lecture the importance of a strong social media presence. Photophobia kept me, until this past Sunday, from more than a minute in the light without severe pain. But one glance at a simple news story after a two week break, and I was reminded why I don’t read Facebook comment threads anymore.

News has become, in large measure, a kernel of truth surrounded by outer shells of noise. The networks are all the same:

CNN: TRUMP SAYS A THING, COULD END HIS PRESIDENCY

FOX NEWS: TRUMP SAYS A THING, HILLARY STILL NOT IN JAIL

MSNBC: TRUMP SAYS A THING, HERE’S A MEANDERING HOUR THAT WILL NOT MAKE IT ANY CLEARER IF IT’S A THING AT ALL

I love digital media. But I have to tell you, it’s like I’ve been chasing a runaway ticker tape for 20 years, and I finally just get to linger over some clean copy in Courier. Take my advice. This summer, even for a few days or a whole week, do this:

Go dark.