An inch wide and a mile deep, or a mile wide and an inch deep: those are the two kinds of knowledge and background journalists bring to their jobs.
Me, I've spent time using both. Got my first gig after I walked into a suburban Seattle newspaper office with a bottle of pre-phylloxera Ch. Lafite Rothschild in hand. I was there to promote an auction of rare wines being conducted by the chain of wine shops where I taught wine-appreciation classes.
The newspaper had been looking for a wine writer and there I was. Spent the next several years holding forth on such issues as the qualities oak barrels from different species of oak trees bring to red wine, the emergence of the Willamette Valley wine industry, the non-vinifera grape varieties with which Japanese vintners were experimenting, and the reasons that cabernet sauvignon wine made from grapes grown in some regions of California could have an unpleasant hint of bell pepper aroma.
My most recent job was with what I call the Very Big Media Company, where I wrote a daily report of the developments in intellectual property law. The Very Big Media Company serves the global business community, and my job was to cover developments in patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret law, and write about them in a way that is understandable and interesting to non-lawyers. In other words, I was writing about what could be perceived as very wonky subjects that, nonetheless, could make huge differences in corporate bottom lines. Most of what I've written over the past few years can be found on the Internet if you Google my name and``intellectual property.''
In between? I've written about everything from legal issues around the AIDS epidemic, the menus served at offshore drilling rigs, potato exports to fuel McDonald's worldwide french fry sales, Norway's witch persecutions, Cajun music, wearable devices to monitor blood-sugar levels, the rise and decline of an employee-owned regional airline, and even profiled some of the captains of the Mardi Gras carnival clubs known as krewes. A couple of years I doubled as a performing arts critic, and oh how I miss those two seats on the aisle in the 10th row for ballet and opera performances.
It's been a great run and I've loved every minute of it and hope to continuing laboring in this vineyard until they have to pry my cold dead hands away from a computer keyboard. I mean, what's not to like? I get to learn new things every single day, and then can sit down and write about them.
Writing has always been the easy part. I've never understood writers' block. In fact, the tips of my fingers almost start to itch when I am away from the computer and start thinking about something that I could write about. Once someone asked me what was the favorite present I ever received as a child. He was taken aback by my response. That best present was a box of stationery I got at my seventh birthday party. Here was a whole box of blank paper I could fill with whatever I wanted. And I think I wrote my way through that box within two weeks, sending letters to family and friends.
And before I joined the Very Big Media Company, I wrote often in this blog, which has been somewhat neglected of late. The title, ``Driving Audhumla,'' was chosen when I took off, in the summer of 2005, on a round-the-nation trip in my then-Taurus with a personalized license plate It referred to the name I had given my car. Audhumla is the great cow in Norse mythology, so I chose that name for my car, figuring she'd get me here and there on many adventures.
I'm now driving Audhumla II and we've had some grand road trips, too. This photo is of me and a friend's Australian cattle dog riding around in Audhumla II from about three years ago.
These days, given the ubiquity of wi-fi and Internet access, I can write and post to this blog from anywhere in the world. It's all so much easier with today's technology. I can remember when portable computing was a new thing and I'd be sitting in a hotel room, trying to hook up one of those little portable computers we referred to as ``trash 80s'' to an acoustic coupler so I could send in a story at the slower-than-crawling speed of 300 bauds.
I suspect I'll be writing here more often for a while. Want to keep my writing chops up while I'm on a quest for great new work. And I'm sure I will also continue posting on Facebook regularly. Job-related suggestions and connections are more than welcome.