I’ve said it hundreds
of times: “the Messenger newspaper was the BEST
job I ever had.”
But I began to wonder. Perhaps it was good because previous jobs were difficult, sometimes awful.
I was always encouraged at the Messenger, like what I was doing was worthwhile.
But occasionally I’ve heard comments about the Messenger, that don’t apply to me, yet make me wonder.
Like perhaps the Messenger was cutting me slack as a stroke-survivor.
They were amazed at some of the things I came up with, especially my time-savers.
“You’re doing that stockbox in five minutes?” they’d say. “That’s not possible!”
“Is too,” I’d say. “I have a Quicken portfolio of the stocks we run. All it is is a copy/paste. I don’t type anything.”Sit back and watch ‘im fly!
Long ago they started me doing the “Weather-Almanac” information: sunrise, moonrise, sunset, moonset, etc. I was doing it from the Farmer’s Almanac with a fudge-factor.
Then one afternoon I walked out of my garage at home after work. “What’s that moon doing up there?” I said. “I had it setting four hours ago.”
I always questioned my procedure for Weather-Almanac information. So my wife and I got on our computer and discovered the “Naval Observatory Site
.” I could plug in “Canandaigua,” and it rendered sunrise-moonrise-sunset-moonset for Canandaigua.
So much for my Farmer’s Almanac — in the trash.
“You did that?” the Executive-Editor crowed. “That’s amazing!”
“Yeah, I said; “at last our Weather-Almanac info will be correct.”
A while after I started at the Messenger I was drafted into proofing ads. This went fairly well, until one day a local car-dealer gave us an ad for a special offer: a used Ford-Explorer for $30,000.
That seemed reasonable to me; it was low-mileage, and had a lot of options. So that is what we published.
The car-dealer went ballistic,
as did our Executive Vice-President, Andy Kavulich (“kuh-VEW-litch”), a staunch REPUBLICAN
and our newspaper’s hatchet-man.
No matter the car-dealer provided me with erroneous information. As a stroke-survivor I was clearly incapable
of proofing ads.
Kavulich sought to get even. He would lay me off.
But the Executive Editor intervened: “What do I wanna lay him off for? He’s providing me with at least four-to-six ‘Letters-to-the-Editor’ every day, plus he has the best attitude of all my employees.”
I had learned how to scan “Letters-to-the-Editor,” Optical-Character-Recognition (OCR), to turn a typed or printed letter into a computer text-file.
I was one of the few that could do it, and it was something the average low-level Messenger employee poo-pooed.
So I wasn’t laid off, and Kavulich eventually was fired.
He made too many enemies, and valuable employees were lost.
Then also were my honor-rolls. Local schools would provide their honor-rolls, which we published. Long lists of page-filler.
But typing up an honor-roll took weeks.
So I developed ways of processing them in Microsoft Word©.
My Word was an antique;
6.1, installed from eight three-inch floppies.
But it would do what I wanted. And if not I’d e-mail the honor-roll home to process with my Word98.
For printing in the Messenger an honor-roll had to be just so,
last name last, comma after the name, alphabetized.
Some I had to OCR scan, some were sent e-mail. I never typed anything, although my job-title was “typist.”
I’d open my text-file in Word, then fiddle. If it was last-name-first I’d “convert-to-table” so I could reverse columns. After that I would alphabetize, a Word function.
Sometimes the honor-roll would be all capital-letters. Word had a decapitalize function that skonked that.
I also had a trick for inserting commas en masse. Converting back to text there’d be a paragraph-return after each name. All I did was a find/replace, find the paragraph-returns and replace with “comma-space.”BAM! Ready-to-publish!
I kept my completed honor-rolls as Quark© files. Then all I had to do was paste my new honor-roll file over my old honor-roll listing.
Under appropriate headings already there; like “Grade-Nine High-Honor,” etc.Boom-Zoom!
I could crank an honor-roll in about two or three hours.
And the page-editors loved it. A complete honor-roll might blow almost an entire page.
And our readers loved it. “There’s Johnny in the Messenger,” Granny would say.
Honor-rolls ended when I retired.
Editors required “ready-to-print” honor-rolls in the format I used, and the schools refused.
The schools continued sending honor-rolls as they had in the past, and all the Messenger could do was type them. Back to completed honor-rolls taking weeks, if ever.
I offered to teach a typist my Word-tricks, but nothing came of it. They probably decided what I was doing was beyond
the ability of the average Messenger employee.
So they were often amazed
at some of the things I did.
“Give ‘im a ‘pyooter, and watch ‘im fly
But I think the fact I had a stroke played into it.
“This guy had a stroke?”
I was doing my tricks on what was left of my brain. Everything works. It didn’t at first. My recovery is based on what was left — apparently enough to pass for never having had a stroke.
My left side, which was paralyzed at first, is no longer paralyzed.
Listen carefully and you can hear it in my speech.
One’s speech-center is the first thing to go in a stroke, so what is generating my speech is a part of my brain that wasn’t designed for speech.
I often have difficulty finding words, so there is hesitation and stoney silences.
So I think they were cutting me slack at the Messenger. “He had a stroke, and he did that?”
“Beep-beep-beep-beep;” the sound of one of my magic macros used by someone else on their computer.• The “Messenger newspaper” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger, from where I retired over nine years ago. I worked there almost 10 years (over 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern.)
• “Canandaigua” (“cannan-DAY-gwuh”) is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.
• My wife died April 17th, 2012. I miss her dearly.
• I had a stroke October 26, 1993, and it slightly compromised my speech. (Difficulty finding and putting words together.)
• “Quark” is the paginating computer-software, essentially a glorified word-processor, we used to generate the newspaper in our computers.
Labels: mighty Mezz