Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The nighttime coughing, sneezing, aching, stuffy head blog

There's plenty of material circulating around the home office of 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters this evening - the only question will be whether the writing staff can stay upright long enough to get through the narrative.

There's a cold circulating around the house - not an especially awful one, unless you're a 14-month old with no way of communicating that you have a sore throat, except to a) melt down on a semi-regular basis, and b) wait until mom and dad have the same cold and find out what a lot of fun the sore throat component is. (Of course, by then, you're mostly done with the sore throat, but mom and dad's suffering is a nice payback for their ineffectual parenting of the past couple days.)

The cold found its way here via a mom-and-baby group that my wife and Sylvi attend - more specifically, via a baby with a free-flowing nose and a mom in denial that there was anything wrong with her child. She attributed the green river descending from her son's nasal passages to "teething", which I'm sure medical researchers will be fascinated by, since that means there's now conclusive proof that teething is both contagious, and more prevalent in adults than previously believed.

Flagstaff has its fair share of people committed to nothing but holistic remedies for their ailments. Our feeling here in the 19 Minutes HQ is that if you think it works for you, that's terrific - just don't get on our collective case about loading up with Aleve Cold and Sinus, or Nyquil, or root beer-flavored cough drops, or hot and sour soup. "Oh, you're just treating the symptoms," these people invariably say to me. "My method [echinacea, dandelion oil, canneloni, franks-and-beans, whatever] shortens the duration of the cold." I have news for these people - without the symptoms, I don't case how long the cold sticks around. I'm not keeping statistics here. The cold is the symptoms. If I could get rid of the runny nose, the sneezing, the sore throat, and the headache, I might still have a cold, but I wouldn't care.

As I hinted, Sylvi was none-too-happy with her first cold of the season, which meant that I was up trouble shooting ("Do you want Cheerios? Are you thirsty? Do you want to listen to a reading of 'Don Quixote' on the BBC?") at 3:30 am. This gave me an excellent opportunity to get the latest on Hurricane Katrina, and how it was affecting cable TV reporters wearing ponchos.

The world will likely be a better place when the trend of TV reporters being buffeted by gale force winds is reeled in from its current out-of-control state. It'll probably take one of these guys getting clocked by an errant stop sign, but that'll be a small price to pay.

It is unquestionably a good thing that Hurricane Katrina has dissipated after unleashing its carnage on the Gulf Coast. Aside from the fact that it'll spare the region more flooding and wind damage, it also means we're no longer subjected to the tiny radar graphic the cable news industry inflicted on the screen as long as their coverage lasted.

In case you missed it, the networks generally threw this little radar picture up on of the lower corners of the screen, right above the scrolling headlines that also let us know that the Cubs had traded Todd Hollandsworth for a couple of minor leaguers. It featured an infinitely repeating scroll of the hurricane's progress as it moved toward the coast. The only problem was that unless you were watching on a 65-inch high definition TV, it was impossible to see the map the radar was superimposed on. And even if you could see the map, the little picture-in-picture insert gave no indication as about the length of time the scroll represented, nor anything about how fast the storm was moving, or how strong its winds were. My cynical suspicion was that the networks thought the radar picture of the hurricane was so vivid (all the oranges and reds!), so well-defined (look at the eye on that storm!), so cool, that it would be a misuse of technology not to have it on the screen at all times.

And finally, we note the departure of the Miss America pageant from its long-time Atlantic City home. The move coincides with its departure from network TV to the CMT cable network. The widespread theory is that the country music channel will move the pageant -- er, scholarship contest -- to someplace like Nashville (the 19 Minutes staff is looking forward to the lasso-twirling competition), but frankly we're pulling for someplace further south. We're thinking the contestants would look especially stunning in rain ponchos, standing in front of swaying palm trees on the coast.

[For whatever it's worth, the American Red Cross has a website set up to help Hurricane Katrina victims. Though this category does not necessarily include damaged TV satellite trucks.]

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