Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
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Sunday, August 15, 2004

My new Knoxville living room is still a vast wasteland of half-unpacked cartons, bookcases that need to be reconstructed, and cardboard boxes that need to be deconstructed.

At least it is a relatively vast living room compared to the last one, so keeping the boxes open and shelving things little by little may help get me organized for the first time in 10 years. Wish me luck!

This weekend I'm putting the finishing touches on my syllabus for JEM 200, an Introduction to News Writing, along with finding my way around a new city and a new chunk of cyberspace -- but I'm also overdue writing a Tennessee-based entry in this weblog instead of letting someone else do it for me. So here it is.

(Speaking of taking time off, I'm glad to see that John Perry Barlow returned to his blog last month after a long break. His "time off" does live up to his headline: "Too Alive to Be Virtual." )

I don't know if I'll put something here more often than once a week (perhaps as "class notes"), but I'm making some style changes while I'm at it. First, I've decided to relax and write this blog in the first person -- relatively unpolished and unjournalistic, but more "bloglike."

I also may slip a few personal stories and snapshots between the course notes, rather than e-mail them to family and friends. Here's an example:

Brother Truckers

Bob's yellow van between big brother truckers

Driving that 15-foot yellow rental truck from Massachusetts to Tennessee was fun. The movers I hired to help load the 120 boxes of books, LPs and files packed things so tightly that they said the truck might be technically overweight. They cautioned me to be careful handling it and to watch out for weigh stations. Other drivers along the road said "household" movers probably aren't required to use the scales, but I took the "all trucks exit here" signs literally and drove through the three "open" weigh stations I came to. No "dodged all the scales" for me.

Maybe that hint of weigh station anxiety is what put Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road" into my head for most of the 950-mile drive: "I'm a little overweight and my logbook's way behind..." (I found another online source of the lyrics that transcribes that line as "my law books way behind..." Probably another ABD grad student with trucker fantasies.)

There's something about driving a truck, even an itty bitty yellow truck, spending nights on the road and drinking a lot of truck-stop coffee that probably makes any Penske/U-Haul customer feel like he's sharing the life of a professional long-haul truck driver. (I vaguely remember a minivan or SUV ad on a similar theme.) Despite some tense moments in late-night thunder storms, I came about as close to the "trucker" experience as my truck did to filling the semi-sized parking spaces in that picture.

I took another photo to celebrate the joy of napping in the driver's seat and waking up to an Appalachian dawn. Unfortunately, my eye and hands didn't wake up as steady as the picture deserved... but that's why I'm teaching writing, not photography. Nice colors, though...

A picture named vahwy-sunrise520.jpg
-30- for now

8:14:31 PM    comment []

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