Time magazine celebrates 100 years in business this month. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
The belief that print publications are dying has been trumpeted for decades.
But publications are not going away. And that’s a good thing.
This month Time magazine celebrates 100 years. That’s quite an accomplishment.
I haven’t always been a reader of this news magazine. I used to be a Newsweek subscriber. I’m sure this choice was because my parents read Newsweek. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bought me my first subscription.
There were times when I didn’t get Newsweek. It probably mostly had to do with money, and little bit with not making the time to read it. Finally, it ceased publication in 2012, going to an online only format. Though it did rebrand itself and is back in print, I haven’t looked at the new iteration.
I switched to Time several years ago, then stopped my subscription for a few years when I wasn’t living in one place; having resumed my subscription since putting down roots again.
Since 2020 it comes out every other week, whereas before it was a monthly periodical.
What I like about news magazines is that they go deeper into topics than most newspapers. That’s the luxury of a longer deadline compared to the daily grind. It’s not just hard news that is covered in those pages. It’s profiles on people, pop culture segments and shorts about topics I didn’t read elsewhere. I like the variety and comprehensiveness of Time.
I also like holding the magazine.
My favorite place to read any magazine is in the hot tub. Yes, a few have become unreadable when I’ve dropped them in the water, which is why books are seldom taken to the tub. Somehow the relaxed setting takes the edge off even the most serious topic.
Being informed is critical. Where you get your news matters. Publications—print and online and those that do both—need subscribers and donors because businesses are spending their advertising dollars other places. It takes money to gather, write and publish the news.
Subscribe to real news publications, big and small—it’s how our democracy will survive.
Often it’s the people (or animals) of a film that are the star attraction. Not the filmmaker.
But without filmmakers there would be no film.
After watching one of the two night of the Banff Film Festival at Chico State University last weekend, I was left wanting to know more about the filmmakers. I would love to have had the opportunity to listen to them speak about their craft, about how technology has evolved, about the editing process, about the storytelling.
Unfortunately, that’s not what you get with the traveling film fest. Those, the Banff one included, are all about watching the films. And they were great, don’t get me wrong.
To get the full experience I am going to have to travel to an actual festival, be it Banff, Sundance, or Cannes to name a few of the better known locations. At the actual festival filmmakers and sometimes actors give talks, there could be Q&A sessions and so much more besides movies.
What I liked about the Banff movies was the variety.
Joanna Croston, director of the festival and world tour, wrote on the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity website: “The film competition, this year, saw record numbers of submissions, and the quality of storytelling and production reached an all-time high. Filmmakers have shown us that they have transformed too. They are spending more time with their craft, dealing with challenging subject matter differently, and they have decided that the voices of underrepresented communities need to be heard. This year’s program amplifies a new world, rich with alternate narratives and viewpoints.”
Three films in particular touched me the most, in large part because they focused on women. The first was The Fastest Girl in the Village. Khothalang Leuta of Lesotho (a small country surrounded by South Africa) taught herself how to ride a bike on the pump track that was built in her village in 2017 as part of the Pump for Peace Project. She didn’t even own a bike.
She competed in the 2021 Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships after winning the Lesotho National Pump Track race in 2019.
Another inspirational film was Wild Waters; about Nouria Newman, who is touted as “the most gifted kayaker of her generation.” Note that it doesn’t say woman kayaker. She’s the most gifted kayaker. Period.
What she does on the water is breathtaking. She challenges the whitewater, descends waterfalls, and is redefining the boundaries of her sport.
In Free to Run the story is as much about Stephanie Case and her endurance running as it is about the organization she created (Free to Run) to get the women of Afghanistan to lace up their shoes and start running. It’s truly captivating.
Three years ago today the governor of California shutdown the state by issuing a stay at home order because of COVID-19.
Nearly every state issued such a mandate. The exceptions were Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Kentucky issued an advisory as did Massachusetts. Oklahoma issued a partial advisory. Regions of South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming issued advisories. Wisconsin’s order was declared unconstitutional six weeks after it was announced.
In one way or another we all have been changed because of the pandemic. Most affected are the families of the millions of people who died from the deadly virus. According to Worldometer, 6,819,416 people had died from COVID-19 as of March 19, 2023. Of those, 1,151,279 were residents of the United States.
That’s a whole lot of people.
Sure, some had underlying issues that were ultimately going to kill them. That’s why there are people who take issue with the number of deaths. But look at it this way, if a person had a terminal illness and died in a car accident, what is going to be listed as the cause of death? Injuries related to accident; not the terminal illness. Same goes with COVID. Cause of death is the last thing that struck you, so to speak.
We all know the federal response was a cluster. I want to believe the information coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the contradictory, ever-changing statements without explanation made it all feel so political. Politics should not be part of public heath decisions.
I believe in science. I know science changes as more information comes in. Research brings knowledge. It’s a basic fundamental of how science evolves.
I have said for a while now we are all involved a great scientific experiment—everyone—those who are vaccinated at some level, those like me who have received every available inoculation, and those who are adamant to never get that needle near them.
It still amazes me people are skeptical of the vaccine. The Messenger RNA, or mRNA, was discovered in the early 1960s. Want more info, John Hopkins is a good resource.
I realize we are still learning so much about this virus—the mutations, who is affected most, why some people like me have never had COVID, and why others get long COVID.
What I’m still wondering about is was shutting things down the best way to stop the spread. Maybe if it had been done universally and if everyone who could get vaccinated had (and still would), then the virus might have disappeared by now.
Let’s just say closing businesses and telling people to stay home were the best options. I maintain the government then is obligated to make people whole. Not by having business owners apply for loans (even if they are eventually forgiven), nor by sending stimulus checks, but by actually paying people their wages. This works for those (unlike me) who get a W2 form. It’s going to trickier for those of us who are self-employed, who are contract 1099 workers. But it could be done. That would have kept the economy going.
I am sure there are plenty of people who will say this is an oversimplistic solution and shoot holes in it. Well, what we did wasn’t so brilliant, so I hope the powers that be are looking for better outcomes for when the next global crisis hits.
This pandemic also exposed the fragility and inequities of so many systems—from schooling (how about all those kids that didn’t have internet access at home) to health care workers (why did medical personnel not have enough protective equipment?) to government ineptness (where was the plan for such a catastrophe?).
I was in Todos Santos, Mexico, when California shut down. I could tell it was only a matter of time before the same became true for Baja California Sur. I was on the road north by the end of March 2020.
But I never felt like my world truly shut down in South Lake Tahoe. I still snowshoed and hiked. We took more vehicles to the trailhead and we walked farther apart. But we were still in nature.
At first we played tennis with each player opening a can of balls. That was inefficient. We actually socialized more by staying after to have an adult beverage (we brought our own). Chairs were spaced out.
I have never been one who goes out a lot, so I wasn’t missing much. I found ways to see my friends. I was out on dog walks.
And then I headed back to Mexico in fall of 2020 until the following March. Life in Baja is lived outdoors even without a pandemic, so again, not much changed compared the previous two winters I had spent there.
Life is always about making adjustments, compromising and adapting.
I’m still cautious because of COVID, but I’m still living my life to the fullest.
But I wonder what could have been done so the 6.8 million people who have died from COVID and the ones who will die in the future didn’t have to. That’s the lesson I’m not sure we’ve learned. I don’t think we’ve learned what to do in the next pandemic or other crisis. That’s what scares me the most.
It had been a long time since I hugged so many people.
Reunions do that; they make you want to physically connect with people. Only this reunion was actually a celebration of life.
Kirsten Johnson Loy was 59 when she died last year. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of when she was first diagnosed with cancer.
That same month she started her blog, which she called Consider It Joy. Who titles it that when they are diagnosed with stage four cancer? Kirsten. That’s who.
She didn’t sugar coat her life, but she also kept much of the nitty gritty out of print. We knew of hard days, but only those who were there knew how hard they really were and how many there were.
Her love of family, friends and god sustained her all those years.
Kirsten Johnson Loy touched more lives than probably even she knew.
On her Instagram page her bio says, “Mom, writer, teacher, mentor, friend, wife, but to sum me up is to know I am a flawed woman who loves a flawless God.”
On Facebook she has 1,289 friends. My guess is they are all really friends.
After all, about 500 people were at her celebration of life on March 11. And it definitely was a celebration. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at an occasion like this.
Kirsten would have loved it. Of course, she did orchestrate it all. Honestly. She readily admitted she was a control freak. She could laugh about it. But it didn’t temper the controlling.
The service was full of stories, some scripture, music, and more stories. It’s always hard to encapsulate a life in a short essay or a couple hours.
I knew Kirsten for nearly 50 years. Her younger sister is one of my dearest friends. I was instrumental in writing their dad’s obit; a bit daunting considering they are both terrific writers. Her mom is one of my mom’s best friends. We knew many of the same people from having grown up in Concord. Many of them were there on Saturday. It was a mini-reunion of sorts. Unfortunately, it’s deaths that now bring us together instead of weddings.
We really ought to plan a party so we can all be there.
Kirsten reached out to me and others a few years ago wanting help with writing a book about her journey with cancer. I don’t know where it stands now, but I hope one of her friends puts all the pieces together and gets it published. Kirsten was an inspiration. Her words should live on so more people can know her.
While pictures may be worth a thousand words, drone footage is practically making ordinary camera images seem antiquated.
Drones are redefining real estate videos by flying through houses. They are saving lives by reducing the time for search and rescues. They document capital improvement projects in ways standing on the ground with a traditional camera can’t. For some businesses they are saving time and money.
While the use of drones goes back to World War I, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have come into their own in the last few years as the applications for them continue to grow.
“I think the future for drone photography is limitless. I think we are in the embryotic stages for what we can use it for,” Valerie Walston with the Napa Valley Transportation Authority Walston said. “When I first started looking for a drone photographer it was not easy to find one because most were focused on real estate and agriculture. I needed to find someone focused on construction.”
As the marketing and information specialist for the county transit agency, Walston is tasked with figuring out the best way to showcase infrastructure improvements from beginning to mid-construction to completion.
“These are projects that have three dimensional stories to tell. Without drone video, we would lack that important element,” Walston said. “Everyone appreciates the story being told in ways I cannot with a camera on the ground.”
Jake Bowman, founder and pilot of Napa-based Flutter Shot Media, uses drones in his work in a variety of ways. (Image: Jake Bowman)
Expanding drone uses
Jake Bowman, founder and pilot of Napa-based Flutter Shot Media, has traveled all over the state to help Bob Peralta document fire damage.
For years, Peralta of Bob Peralta Arbor Consulting in Napa walked endless miles to appraise the condition of trees following wildfires. The firm’s clients are often attorneys and insurance companies.
“I take his images and am able to do my work instead of walking 80 to 100 acres. This has only come about in the last couple years,” Peralta said. “It definitely changes my work. (Jake) has taken me out of the field. It saves me time. It’s probably changed 40%of the way we collect data. It’s pretty remarkable.”
What Peralta likes is that Bowman does not merely do a flyover. The flying cameras can zero in on fences, sewer lines, and septic systems.
Bowman creates an orthomosaic image, which is done by stitching together photos to create a seamless, larger detailed image.
“So, now when I’m in a meeting we incorporate ‘Do we need drone on it?’” Peralta explained. “I worked on the (2017) Tubbs Fire (in Sonoma County) and spent a ton of time in Paradise (after the 2018 Camp Fire), but didn’t have these tools back then and they would have been helpful.”
Drone use isn’t limited to things on land. Fishermen are also finding uses for them.
The Fisherman’s Marketing Association of Bodega Bay enlisted Jim Nevill Productions of Bodega to create a 10-minute video to educate people about Assembly Bill 534, the 2021 legislation that would have mandated ropeless fishing gear among other things.
In one day, drones swooped over 10 locations, mostly in the Bodega Bay area. Shots were preplanned to get sunrise and sunset images, the abundance of boats in the harbor, fisherman out at sea; all shown as the narrator tells the fishermen’s side of the story.
For law enforcement, drones are able to replace helicopters. They are quicker to deploy, go places helicopters can’t, and the expense of charging a battery is negligible compared to jet fuel.
Marin County sheriff’s deputies deployed one of their 11 drones in January to assess the flood damage along Highway 37. This was at the request of Caltrans and fire officials. Such mutual aid agreements are common.
Marin County Sheriff’s Office has been using drones since 2018, with the department having created a specific drone team. It was the first law enforcement agency in the county to create a UAV program.
Since the inception of the drone program, the sheriff’s office has acquired drones that are small enough to fly indoors. They would be used to fly inside buildings in which someone has taken hostages or has barricaded themselves.
“If a person can’t go in somewhere, we would not send a drone in there,” Sgt. Brenton Schneider, who runs the drone team, said.
Some drones have loudspeakers and spotlights attached to them. Other drones have infrared tools.
“Because our drones have thermal capabilities we are able to detect hot spots for the fire department,” Schneider said. “In the (2020) Woodward Fire we utilized a drone to get a look at how big the fire was. We could see where they could send resources. Anything we could do from a helicopter we could do from a drone.”
The thermal device is perfect when looking for lost hikers or even missing persons. Drones can cover a larger swath of land faster than people, so they are a vital tool in search and rescue missions.
Another marketing tool
Indoor footage is becoming more popular and almost the norm when it comes to real estate listings.
“If you want to be a good agent for sellers, you need to add value and bring people in and I think drone video is a huge asset,” Dylon Baker, owner and Realtor at Baker Estates in Vacaville, said. “When it comes time to market a property its three-pronged: still photos showcase the house itself, your drone video that is a teaser trailer, and using drone video through the house on social media and other websites.”
Bowman, the drone pilot who shoots charred trees, spends 90% of his time on real estate work, with Baker being one of his clients.
He has specifically rigged the drones that he uses to fly indoors. The key he said is to have flawless video, so it’s like a person is walking through the home, not getting stuck somewhere—which can happen if a pilot isn’t well versed at his craft.
Randy Knight, who owns 5StarVR.com in Sebastopol, also needs to market real estate in an appealing matter. For him, it’s luring people to his vacation rentals.
Sometimes Knight does his own shoots, other times he hires people. He said the first drone he bought about seven years ago cost $1,700. The wind took it and it was never seen again. The last one he bought at Costco for about $400.
“The picture quality is incredible, it’s easy to use, small and compact,” Knight said. “It’s a wonderful thing to have. It displays properties in the best possible light. Photos say so much more than words in the world of vacation rentals.”
Note:A version of this story first appeared in the North Bay Business Journal.
I’m often asked what my next book will be about. I smile and say I have a couple of ideas. Which is true.
It’s also true that being an author is not the route to becoming wealthy except for a handful of people. It doesn’t matter if you go the indie route or a publishing company.
That’s why I haven’t started the next book. The bills are getting paid with my freelance and massage work. In other words, the book writing is extra work after everything else is done. And that’s fine. It’s my choice. It’s not a complaint.
What would make things easier is if I had more book sales. That goes for all authors. So, I have a couple ideas for how you can help every author that you know. And this goes for ones you don’t know, but like and want to support.
Write reviews—and make sure they are 5-star reviews. Reviews help drive sales. They influence other readers. In fact, write those reviews for people who are selling anything. It helps them, too.
Cut and paste what you wrote and put it on every applicable site—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and every other place you can think of.
Those negative reviews you like to write. Stop. Or at least stop and think before you hit post. Maybe a call or email directly to the person or business would be more effective than public condemnation. This is true for opinions about books, restaurants, and other purchases.
There are snarky people out there who want to hurt those of us selling products online. The day my latest book (Sleeping with Strangers: An Airbnb Host’s Life in Lake Tahoe and Mexico) was available on Amazon—so before anyone actually had the book in hand—someone left a 1-star rating. No words accompanied the rating, so no actual review. I’m guessing it was from someone who doesn’t like me. (Still plenty of those people in Tahoe. Such are the hazards of being an honest journalist.) Nonetheless, it drags down my overall rating.
If someone really thinks the book is worthy of only 1 star, that would be different. After all, when I was in a book club I gave a book all zeros. So, I understand not everyone is going to like every book. But I didn’t post my thoughts online. I understand the work involved to write a book and applaud anyone who does so.
Speaking of book clubs, that’s another way to help authors. Choose your friends’ books. Or maybe once a year choose a local author.
Last year a book club in Todos Santos, Mexico, read Sleeping with Strangers and then I was able to be the guest author. This was so much fun for all of us.
A club in Chico is reading the book this month. I know because I hand delivered the books. I’m hoping other clubs are reading it, too.
If I can’t attend in person, I could do so via Zoom if you wanted. It never hurts to ask any author to be an integral part of your book club.
Oh, and it comes to sharing books. Well, I understand that helps you financially, but it does nothing for the author. Sorry, just had to put that out there.
The most important thing is to keep reading books. Support authors. Support bookstores.
The irony in writing the last sentence is that sales through bookstores is where I make the least amount of money, unless I’ve supplied the store with the books. But they are who I want to support. A society without bookstores, well, that is a depressing thought.
So, after you buy your next book at your local bookstore, go write a 5-star review about the store and then another 5-star review about the book.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is a staunch fighter for Lake Tahoe. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
Growing up in the Bay Area it would be hard not to at least know of Dianne Feinstein.
I was in eighth grade in 1978 when she became mayor of San Francisco after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
I’m sure I didn’t know who she was until then even though she had been a county supervisor since 1969. I wasn’t following San Francisco politics even though I read our local paper (Contra Costa Times) regularly while in high school.
The first story I covered involving Feinstein was in summer 1986 when I was an intern at the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. (It ceased publication in March 1993.) What I remember is that she was christening some vessel.
I didn’t find anything about it on a Google search and don’t have clips from then, so I can’t share any details. What I vaguely remember is being a bit awed by her. That’s what happens when you are a 20-year-old on her first paid newspaper job. (I use paid loosely.)
It was in Tahoe that I got to know Feinstein better. By this time she was a U.S. senator, having first been elected in 1992. The 89-year-old announced this month she will retire when her term ends in 2024.
If you assume she’s a raging liberal from The City, then you don’t know her history or her votes.
What I want to remind people is her love of Lake Tahoe. Until 2021 she owned a large compound on the West Shore. It sold for about $31 million.
She had intimate knowledge about the lake because of that second home that other politicians would not be privy to.
Feinstein helped bring more than a billion dollars in federal money to the Lake Tahoe Basin. Some was allocated for the lake, some for the forest. While that’s an oversimplification, it boils it down to the two environmental aspects of the basin that matter most—water and land.
She has been in a regular rotation with other California and Nevada lawmakers as host of the annual Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit since they started after President Bill Clinton’s visit in 1997.
In 2021, she received the inaugural Dianne Feinstein Lake Tahoe Award at the environmental summit. The recognition was created to honor “exemplary leaders with a proven track record of several decades of work to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity, natural beauty, and overall environmental health.”
(Last year Charles Goodman—considered the godfather of limnology, the study of fresh water—received the honor.)
I’m not sure what more can or should be done to honor Feinstein as a steward of Lake Tahoe, but I for one am glad she has been such an integral part in trying to preserve the environmental health of Lake Tahoe.
A substantive upgrade from a Jeep Wrangler. (Image: Kathryn Reed)
I should have known better. I should have known I was buying and not just looking. Well, I knew I was buying this month. I just didn’t know I would be putting down a deposit on my looking day.
Like any vehicle shopper I had a few criteria about what I wanted in my new ride. Albeit mine were rather simple. I wanted four doors and all wheel drive. I also wanted it to fit in the garage next to mom’s car and for it to fit my massage table without having to fold down the back seats.
The last time I test drove vehicles was during the height of the pandemic when you could go without a sales person. So, naively I thought I would be able to drive the car to my house and actually see if it fit in the garage. (It’s a narrow and short garage.)
Ut-oh, I liked this second vehicle. A lot. But I was concerned about the measurements.
Behzad was accommodating and said let’s just go your house. And so we did. Table fit with a fraction of an inch to spare. He drove it into the garage. Not a ton of space, but it will work.
Until this week I had only owned manual transmission vehicles. I learned to drive with a stick shift. Those were some embarrassing moments stalling on my hometown streets as friends honked as they drove by; pointing as I lurched and sputtered.
Instead of a stick shift to keep my right hand occupied I have a navigation system. I have windows that go up and down with a push of a button instead of crank. I have heated leather seats instead of torn, stained fabric that required seat covers.
Wow, so modern. It’s like going from a rotary phone to an iPhone overnight. I’m overwhelmed with what she can do. I need to sit with her a while with the manual in hand to figure her out.
It was hard trading in the Jeep. This month marked 21 years since I bought her. AJ’s nose prints were still on the windows. That’s what made it hard to leave the Jeepy at the Nissan dealer.
Now I’m driving a Nissan Rogue Sport SL. Let’s hope she’s as good to me as the Jeep was. I loved that little red thing. I hope to love this slightly bigger black mobile just as much. I know she’ll get to Tahoe soon enough. Maybe one day she’ll be a Baja car, too.