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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Getting physical in avoiding candy dish

It’s a new strategy, and I’m hoping it works out for me.
None of the others did, so I’m not sure what makes me think this one will. But I’m willing to give anything a try.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreads the arrival of Halloween, not because of the struggle to select an appropriate costume, but because of the gluttony brought on by the omnipresent bags of candy.
Every store has them on display. And they’re so darn affordable.
Being a little bit cheap, I can find a way to avoid buying them.
But I wish other people would, too.
Here at work there are two candy bins stocked to the heavens every day. One sits next to Paula, our wonderful receptionist and my lunch partner. When I walk back to my desk, a trip that takes me past hers, my hand inevitably finds its way into the candy pile on her desk.
I rationalize it by saying it’s dessert. But how many people eat a handful of malted milk balls or Milk Duds for dessert?
Not the ones with willpower, I can tell you that.
The other candy dish — which actually rests in a hole on top of a skeleton’s head — is managed by sportswriter Theresa Neuhoff Audia.
Theresa is every bit as diligent as Paula, keeping it stocked to levels visible throughout the newsroom. Luckily, this one is way on the other side of the room from where I normally walk, so I haven’t hit it that often.
The way it works out is that day shift frequents Paula’s stash, while the night crew is the clientele for Theresa.
I’ve been able to maintin my willpower once I leave work, though, resisting the call of the colorful packages of chocolate treats in Giant Eagle, Walmart, Super Kmart and other stores where they’re stacked to the ceiling.
And, because Halloween falls on a Monday this year, I have a built-in excuse not to buy any.
I’ll be at the gym for my normal, end-of-shift workout on Monday night when trick-or-treat is going on.
So, not only won’t I be doing the
traditional “one for you, one for me” dip into the bowl, I’ll also be trying
to sweat off what I grabbed from
Paula’s bowl on my way back to my desk.
If you’re looking for an excuse, like I am, it feels like a good one.
It sounds good too.
“No, I’m not going to be touching any candy. I’m going to be sweating at the gym.”
You can borrow it if you want. I’ll back you up.
The only thing I ask for in return is a couple of little boxes of Milk Duds. Because then I can leave Paula’s alone.
Twitter: @Lauranh

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who needzzzzzz the new TV shows?

All television shows should be reruns.
Apparently, that’s the only way I’ll see any of it.
I used to tell people that my favorite shows are “Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.” I can’t really say that anymore, though, because I’ve yet to make it completely through an episode this season without falling asleep.
It’s a strange phenomenon.
My husband and I sit and watch TV while we eat dinner every night, and a series of shows get laughs and I pay attention to plot twists and make it to the end without a problem.
When dinner ends, however, and I sit down to view the new stuff, it’s zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Maybe I should blame it on the digestion process, which causes most of the body’s attention to be focused on the stomach. As I sit there, my brain’s not allowed to be engaged enough to pay attention to the shows, because my energy is attacking the food I just ate.
I guess it’s possible. I’ve heard a bunch of times that the blood rushes to the stomach to aid in the digestion process.
Or maybe it’s that when I watch TV, I lie back on the couch under the blanket I like to call “The Devil.” It’s one of those fleece blankets that you make by snipping the edges and tying them into little knots.
I actually made it as a Christmas gift for my husband, in Ohio State colors. I used the heavy fleece, and it’s two layers. So, when I climb under it, I don’t stand a chance against its powers to render me comfortable enough to fall asleep.
We actually have two of the blankets. The other one is known as “The Little Devil,” but only because it’s made with the lighter fleece. I had made that one for my sister-in-law, but when I finished it and picked it off the floor up to fold it, noticed it had a huge black mark down the back of the fleece. So, it became our “little devil.”
It could also be that I’m just tired. People try to get me to admit that one all the time. They hear that I wake up at 5:30 every morning and assume that after I’ve been awake for about 15 hours, worked for eight and gone to the gym and worked out for a 45 minutes to an hour, that I’m just tired enough to fall asleep.
Hogwash! How could all that make me tired?
A possible fourth reason I might not be able to watch any of the TV shows I intend to see could be the shows themselves.
I have no problem with reruns of “Seinfeld,” or “M*A*S*H,” or “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” or even “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
But give me a “CSI:” or “House,” and I’m a goner.
I blame it on the formula. I just know it now.
If it’s “CSI:,” I know that unless it involves certain criminal, the crime will be solved in about 44 minutes of show. Sure, there will be twists and gorey moments and witty dialogue, but they’ll know the answer. I can count maybe five patients who died in eight years of “House.” So, yeah, I know they’re gonna live.
I tried to get into some of the other shows, but something always stands in the way.
The lead character in “The Good Wife” will always be Carol Hathaway, the nurse who stole George Clooney on “ER.” I just can’t forgive her for that.
Nothing against Joe Mantegna, but “Criminal Minds” was better when Mandy Patinkin was leading the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit that is the center of the show. I just can’t watch it anymore.
I had high hopes for “Unforgettable,” a police drama that stars Poppy Montgomery, who was on “Without a Trace.” But her formerly beautiful blonde hair is now a weird reddish brown, and it distracted me for the first half of the first episode, then I fell asleep, and I haven’t been back since.
So, you see my problem. And you see why I’ve started clinging to the reruns that I can now recite along with the characters.
Sure, it’s embarrassing, and a huge waste of time.
But if a show about nothing can keep me busy for a little while, is that so wrong?
Twitter: @Lauranh

Friday, October 14, 2011

Little tweet does wonders for the mood

A long time ago, when I was first starting my career, someone gave me sage advice.
“You’ll never hear about it when you do a good job.”
A co-worker at a previous job said he never got a pat on the back about good work from his higher-ups but heard about every mistake he’d made.
A few years later, while taking a management class at Lakeland Community College, the teacher pointed out how easy it is to tell someone they made an error and admitted that giving praise is the hardest thing we have to do.
That’s why every time I get an email or a phone message that includes a compliment, I tuck it away for safe keeping.
Then, on the inevitable bad day when I’m feeling as though I can’t do a thing right, I dial up my voice mail or dig into the “read mail” folder for a little bit of a lift.
That plan worked great until a couple of months ago when an update to my email program erased all my saved messages. It also erased all my saved email addresses, but that’s a column for another day.
Gone were all those notes that kind readers had sent to let me know that they liked something we’d printed or a program we’d started or even something I’d written.
I still have a different kind of written evidence that people like me, they really like me — a few of the letters that have found my mail slot over the years.
Luckily, though, there are other places to get this feedback that I obviously crave.
Facebook and Twitter are the most immediate. You put something out there, and people will offer you their opinions.
Whether it’s a joke or a story or a funny little cartoon, your friends and followers are more than happy to weigh in.
These social media sites also give you the chance to offer your take on others’ posts.
For the first few years I used Facebook and Twitter, it was mostly Comments Out, Comments In. I rarely offered my opinion on what others were doing. But, over time, as I noticed more and more of my friends doing it, I dipped my toe in the pool to test the waters and came back unscathed, so I did more and more of it.
A few weeks ago, after hearing stories for a while about his interactions with the public, I decided to try to win Browns tickets by answering a question posed by the Browns’ Josh Cribbs.
He’s incredibly active on Twitter, frequently posting comments about his personal life and how the Browns are doing. He’ll say if practice was difficult or if they had a bad game or even if things are home aren’t going all that well.
Cribbs frequently responds to his followers’ suggestions for places to visit, often stopping by at parties or fan gatherings just because he’s asked.
So, on a recent Friday night, I gave his movie quiz a shot. The first to answer the question correctly would win tickets for the Sept. 25 Dolphins game. I had the right answers, but was a little late getting them in.
But, sending the message to Cribbs gave me a lot of confidence that famous people aren’t going to attack when you reach out and touch them, electronically speaking.
A few weeks later, on Sunday night, while sitting home bored and waiting for a television show to come on, I was reading through Twitter posts and suddenly let out a laugh at one from CBS “Early Show” host Chris Wragge.
He’s a huge New York Giants fan, and after Sunday’s upset loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Wragge took to Twitter to express his displeasure and also lash out at other games he happened to be watching.
Apparently, at one point, he turned on the Denver-San Diego game, and he offered an assessment of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
“I have a quicker release than Tim Tebow. #bigwindup #QB”
Because of my non-traumatic experience tweeting Cribbs, I felt comfortable sending a note to Wragge, letting him know he was cracking me up with his NFL analysis. For fun, I included a hashtag, #thenewmadden.
Obviously, what followed left me a bigger fan of Wragge than Cribbs.
He laughed out loud! At me!
Chris Wragge laughed at me!
Because I’m not confident in my ability to keep anything stored safely on my computer, I decided to write about it here. Hope you don’t mind. Sure, it’s more for me than you, but I’m celebrating.
You would too!
To leave a comment on this column, go to Or you can send Kessel a note on Twitter. You can be sure she’ll see it.
Twitter: @Lauranh