Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Snap, A Set and a Song - River

It's time once again to join Thea at A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of River.

The Snap

The first image that came to mind when I heard the theme of River was a paddle wheel riverboat ... such as the Liberty Belle in Walt Disney World ...

The Set

Here are some of the things you might see along the river while cruising on the Liberty Belle  ...

The Song

Since we are on that riverboat (from Showboat) ...

(Same song from an earlier movie version of Showboat - but a less "sanitized" version.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can't Stop Progress - Print vs. Online

Last night I was watching Modern Marvels on TV. It was a show that they called "Retrotech" though I think that might have been somewhat of a misleading title. They were showing the old technology, what it has been replaced by and what that means to today's world. At least the world of 2009 in which it was originally aired.

One segment stood out as particularly meaningful to the world of June 2012, and to me personally as a retired page layout designer who worked with print magazines for the last 20 years of my working life.

The segment showed how print newspapers where having to adapt to the changing habits of an increasingly online world. It showed that with so many other options available to get your news today that traditional newspaper publishers are having to find ways to keep people turning to them among so many new choices. They featured one newspaper who was starting to integrate an online version with the traditional printed version. They utilized the same reporters and editors, though they needed to learn new skills and often new ways of reporting. Reporters were becoming bloggers and editors were becoming producers. Management seemed to be very upbeat about the changes, but remember that this was 2009. The world has gone even more to an online paradigm since then. At that time, management reported that 30% of their readers did not have access to the internet, and there was no chance of the print version being totally replaced.

However, the technology revolution continues to speed up, and today not only can you get your news on your computer or smartphone, but tablets have entered the mix, and have become a major factor in the last few years. Many of the major newspapers which used to allow you to access their material for free online, now are using schemes whereby you must pay for it. Some, like the NY Times, allow a certain amount of free content before you need to pay, but more and more you are now finding that - like a newspaper on the newstand - if you want to read your favorite newspaper online, you will need to subscribe for a fee. Print newspapers are losing advertising to the online versions - the price you pay for that newspaper does little to offset the cost of publishing it ... that has always been the role of advertising. Advertising rates have always been controlled by certified circulation rates, and those can be determined quite easily in the online world.

So, is this a good thing or a bad thing? As I said, I spent the last 20 years of my career working for a publisher of print magazines, but as they started placing content online, more and more that became a major part of my responsibilities. Designers and layout artists shouldn't necessarily lose their jobs. (In my case, my retirement came a bit earlier than planned as my publisher decided to go offshore with all production work for cost reasons. I was lucky enough to be able to retire, and all of the others in my department found work before the last day.) Printers and their employees however could find themselves in a situation of possibly losing work.

Yet, how do you stop progress? The genie cannot be put back into the bottle. To be honest, while we still get home delivery of our local newspaper, and my wife looks forward to reading it when she comes home from work, I have always been an early adopter of new technology and have been getting my news online for many years now. Even that local newspaper which we get every day has an online presence, and I have read it before our print version is delivered.

No longer do we have to wait for the newspaper to be delivered to read the latest news, or have to wait until the next edition for late breaking news. The radio and then TV started the trend away from newspapers and online editions continue that trend. In fact, since newspapers can have their own issues online - unlike with radio and TV - perhaps this will be less harmful to those who work in the publishing arena.

Another advantage is that I can now read news articles from local newspapers across the US and the world, and read about things that happen without a NYcentric or UScentric slant. And yes, I will admit, that when one of the local sports teams that I root for beats an out of town team, I enjoy reading about it in the other team's local newspaper.

I used to have a regular column in a US magazine and one in a UK magazine in the 1980's. I would think that my US readers might have enjoyed reading my UK column (and vice versa) if there were an online world in those days.

I have mixed feelings here as you might expect, having worked for so long in publishing. You can't stop technology or progress. What is happening to newspapers is also occurring with magazines. To be honest, with the quality of today's tablets, I find myself buying - and subscribing to - the magazines I read regularly from my tablet and enjoy the convenience of not having so many lying around the house. I love to keep many of them around for future reference. So yes, I am among those who prefer my magazines and newspapers online.

What about you?

(Related: E-books: Devil or Angel?)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Jewel

It's time once again to join Thea at A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of Jewel.

This was the first theme that had me scratching my head. I came up with an idea, but since I had set myself a rule of only using my own snaps, rejected it. Then it struck me that I actually did have a snap which I could use for this theme and for the idea that popped into my head. What better way to present this theme but through a movie which features an Emerald City, Ruby Slippers and (for Thea who lives in Australia) a Wizard of OZ!

The Snap

The Set

The Song

And it all comes together with (who else but) Jewel singing
Somewhere Over the Rainbow from
the Concert Performance of The Wizard of Oz.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Yes, This Really is New York City

When most people think of NYC, they think of tall buildings, traffic, throngs of people and all of the things related to a big crowded urban center. New York certainly has those.

But hidden in the forgotten borough of Staten Island there exist large tracts of woodland in its natural state. This is the Greenbelt. Not the beautiful, manicured spaces of Central or Prospect Parks, but rather what you might have seen here before the arrival of European settlers. You can walk along any of its many trails and completely forget that you are still indeed within the city limits.

Yesterday I took such a walk ... allow me to share with you a little bit of what I saw. (Click on each photo to see it larger. For more information on some of these photos, click here.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Urban

It's time again to link up with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Urban. It's all about the city ... or should I say The City. That said, welcome to my hometown! (Note that all photos used here and in the video are my own.)

The Snap

The Set

(Make sure to click on the set below!)

Interesting factoid: The 1977 "I Love NY" tourism campaign (as seen - and heard - in the background here) was the origin of the now common use of a heart for the word "love". The campaign was to promote tourism in New York State, but has become associated solely with New York City these days.

The Song

Keeping it homegrown ...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Jubilee

It's time again to link up with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Jubilee

Webster's Dictionary defines Jubilee as:
  1. often capitalized : a year of emancipation and restoration provided by ancient Hebrew law to be kept every 50 years by the emancipation of Hebrew slaves, restoration of alienated lands to their former owners, and omission of all cultivation of the land
  2. a special anniversary 
  3. a celebration of such an anniversary
  4. a period of time proclaimed by the Roman Catholic pope ordinarily every 25 years as a time of special solemnity  
  5. a special plenary indulgence granted during a year of jubilee to Roman Catholics who perform certain specified works of repentance and piety 
Synonyms: carnival, celebration, fest, festivity, fete (or fĂȘte), fiesta, gala, festival

We will focus on definitions 2 and 3.

The Snap

In 1996, Walt Disney World celebrated it's 25th anniversary and as part of that celebration, decorated its most recognizable feature, Cinderella's Castle, as a birthday cake. People either loved it or hated it, but for 18 months, it stood at the center of The Magic Kingdom.

The Set

The theme this week was picked because of the U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrating 60 years on the throne. Our set this week will show you things relating to 1952.

The Song

Then we head back to Walt Disney World where we began this week, for a look at Tiana's Showboat Jubilee.

If you have enjoyed this - why not visit A Snap, A Set and A Song and join in the fun.

I Am Not A Smoker - Don't Punish Me!

It's time for me to say something.

Now don't get me wrong, I would be happy to see everyone who smokes give it up and live a longer life, although I believe they have the right not to do so. However, in the past few years, there has been a TV campaign to graphically scare smokers into quitting.

The first TV commercial urging users to quit smoking here in the US was aired after the death of Yul Brynner who died in 1985 from lung cancer due to smoking. It was sponsored by the American Cancer Association, and was quite appropriate and acceptable.

But in the past decade, anti-smoking commercials have reached the proportion of horror films, showing the most dire consequences of smoking short of death. And not only have we been producing our own horror clips, but we have even been importing them from overseas as in this one - just one of many which we have taken from Australia. (Warning - this clip contains graphic images!)

And what you see below is typical of the latest round that has started to appear on US television ... during the dinner hour!! Do I really need to see this before, during or after a meal? (Once again, this clip contains very disturbing images.)

My mother passed away due to the effects of a lifetime of smoking, and I am all in favor of people being educated about the side effects and long term consequences of smoking, but I don't smoke. My wife doesn't smoke. My children don't smoke.

I feel as if I am being taken to task and suffering the consequences as if I were a smoker, and I resent it! I don't feel I need to be subjected to these constant (and they are shown often!) images in the sanctity of my own living room!

What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Or do I have a right NOT to be subjected to this? Even if you have never commented on a blog before, please take a moment to comment below on this issue. I need to know if I am the only one who feels this way.