Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Value of a Good Hangout

It can be hard to find a good hangout, especially for us underemployed creative types.
What you need is a place where, for the price of a few cups of coffee you can sit for hours and work on your laptop, or strum a guitar, if the mood should take you.
A good hangout is somewhere where it's quiet enough to work but busy enough to be sociable when you're in the mood.
The problem with this kind of model is how hard it has become for cafes, the usual locations for such ideal circumstances, to keep in business.
I've had several favorite coffee shop/tea rooms in my life, and most of them are closed now. My current favorite, and my "office" is Friendly Grounds in Flemington. The owners are cool and community-minded, the vibe is relaxed and the patron are generally friendly and respectful. It's a good place. Oh, and the wifi is free with your coffee.
Sadly, though, like everyone else, the owners of this fine establishment are struggling. When people tighten their belts, they tend to skimp on the little luxuries, such as coffee. The problem is, cafes are a nickel-and-dime business, and when people start pinching pennies it hurts these businesses pretty bad.
I worry about the future of my current home-away-from-home. I hope it survives this recession/depression/economic clusterf***, whatever you want to call it.
If it goes under, there isn't another place like it for miles. Ah... I wish I could come up with a good idea or two to make both the cafe and myself a few bucks!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's totally random Daily DeBlass: Boat Shoes

There comes a time in the career of a journalistic jobler like myself when he must consider his professional appearance.
Now, I'll be the first to admit I have no fashion sense (OK, I'll actually be about the twelfth to admit it), and my own sense of personal style tends to resemble nothing more than an ad for Eastern Mountain Sports (trail ready!).
Of course, I learned a few things in my all-too-brief tenure as a staff reporter.
One- dress nice, but not nicer than the people you're interviewing or working for.
Two- in one afternoon you may find yourself going from a corporate luncheon to a cow pasture
Three - you can't afford really nice clothes that are going to get destroyed anyway, sturdy and versatile are the way to go.

Which brings us to today's kind of random topic: Boat Shoes.

Footwear tends to take the worst beating out of anything in the wardrobe (at least since I stopped wearing ties, you'd be amazed what you could get caught in!). They get wet, they get muddy, they get scuffed, and they still have to look vaguely presentable. Boat shoes seem to work best for me. First, they can dress up or down. Worn with khakis they look presentable, worn sockless and with shorts they look casual (in a sort of preppy way, but it'll do). Most importantly though, even though custom has made them a "smart casual" apparel item, they are at heart athletic shoes. They're sturdy, waterproof and have nonslip soles, at least if you buy boat shoes that are actually designed to see the deck of a boat, or at least a fishing spot.

My personal choice of late has been a pair of Timberland Annapolis shoes (I actually prefer Sperry's, but it's hard to find my "boat" shoe size in the local outlet stores). They pass Matt's utility test. Dress them up, dress them down, wet floor, mud, buff out the scratches and grab the briefcase.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, but I read something recently that said a man's choice of footwear reflected the care and thought he put into his outfit. Therefore, I though I'd share the care and thought that went into my choice of footwear.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Neologism needed... for words that are the opposite of neologisms.

I'm a big fan of words for their own sake. I like neologisms a lot (for those of you not familiar with the term, neologisms are literally "new words," which become accepted because they are useful, "blog" is an example).

But I also find underused existing words fascinating, or words that have all but fallen out of use. I was amused, therefore, to come across this site, Save the Words.

The words on this site, some of which are just incredibly fun to use, are all ones that have been dropped from dictionary because they were not used. One can "adopt" words, by promising to use them whenever possible. I have, so far, adopted three, snollygoster, ptochology and jobler.

Snollygoster, which is a wonderfully Dr. Suess-ish sounding word, describes "a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician." We certainly haven't run out of unprincipled politicians, so it's a word worth hanging on to, if you ask me.

Ptochology is the study of pauperism and unemployment. Well... another timely word, and one that speaks to me personally at the moment, which brings us to the third word: jobler.
A jobler is one who does small jobs, which, as any ptochologist will tell you, is a popular way to earn a living when the snollygosters in the government and finance industries have got us into tough times.

I wonder, however, if what a jobler does should be called "jobling" or "joblering." I haven't been able to find a usage for either one online. I'm inclined to say, for example, that I'm a joblering writer, because "jobling" sounds like either a very small job or somebody's last name.

So, I expect to be digging up long-unused words and trying to slip them into my writing here and there. But if I'm going to make this a practice, how should I describe it? Saying "the use of near-obsolete and long-forgotten words" is O.K... once. What I need though, is a good, shiny neologism to describe these words.

A few thoughts: Retrologism, paleologism or archeologism. I'm leaning towards retrologism myself, because it implies a revival of something that had fallen out of fashion, such as in the sense of retr0 fashions.

So, dear readers, what do you think?

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Name, New Mission, New Biz

OK, for those of you who haven't heard, I am no longer a full-time newspaper reporter. I have, like so many others in my field, been downsized. Being the "glass half full" type, I figure this is the time to get my rear in gear and go full-time as a freelancer.

As part of that, I'm going to commit to a daily blog. This will serve a few purposes. On one hand it will keep my momentum going... I'll have to write something every day, on the other, it will give prospective clients the chance to see what I do when I'm writing casually... whether that's useful or not, I don't know, but there it is.

My daily posts may not be long or involved, but I will commit to putting them up every weekday. Maybe it'll be a book review, maybe it'll be a bit about something in the news, but it'll be something.

Of course, the re-name reflects my post-a-day intentions. I'm counting on all you to call me on it if I skip out.