Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Native son shares a pen tale with new ‘blogger’

Hey there, all you loyal readers from South of the Border.

Saludos, Amigos!

That’s all the Spanish I know. I learned it watching an old Walt Disney movie when I was in knee pants.

But it’s good to hear from all of you following the recent announcement that this weekly column is available by way of blogging.

It now is, as we speak, a blog site — which I pointed out a few weeks ago, much to the joy of readers South of the Border.

It means they can now read this effort in blog form rather than going through the discomfort of holding a newspaper at arm’s length — or whatever distance you find comfortable.

I think what you do is sign on to a computer, go to and click on the link that is attached to my name and photo.

I have not yet learned how to do that, but I have been assured it is simple.

I also understand that blogging, or blobbing as we called it in the Army, is a two-way street. That means that if you communicate with me, I will communicate with you.

I don’t guarantee that I will ever respond to a blog, however. It seems almost uncivil. But if you send an e-mail, then I will get back to you for sure.

For today’s lesson I have chosen to respond to a letter from South of the Border which arrived as an e-mail. I immediately answered it because I don’t like to keep people waiting when they e-mail me.

As far as responding to blogs is concerned, it is an art form I may never get the hang of.

I selected a letter from South of the Border because it was so concise, so relevant and so direct.

It may, in fact, be the only letter from South of the Border that I will respond to today. The others will have to wait.

The letter began, simply, “Jim:”

It said, in part:

“You can count Ajijic, Jaslisco in Mexico among the places your readers reside.”

It doesn’t matter that I have never heard of Ajijic, Jalisco in Mexico because I am quite sure it is there.

I always felt that local news is the best news to report, because you can always get worldwide news by listening to a short-wave radio, or by smoke signals from the other side of the reservation.

This letter from Mexico definitely had a local flavor, which is what I liked about it.

“I was born in Painesville,” the writer said, “and went to Harvey High School and CWRU.”

That is an abbreviation for Case Western Reserve University.

“A fraternity brother was Mickey Kapostasy (now it’s really getting local) whom you’ve mentioned in your column in the past.

“My in-laws live in Willoughby and Kirtland (how local can you get?) I read the home-delivered print edition of The News-Herald whenever we visit Lake County.”

I am glad to hear that. Since we don’t have home delivery in Ajijic, reading my blog is the next best thing to being here.

I checked with the Circulation Department to find if they are planning to have home delivery in Ajijic anytime soon.

The response was: “Where?”

I found out that if you keep saying Ajijic louder and louder, it doesn’t help much. Talking to people is like talking to dogs: Talking louder doesn’t do any good.

I learned much about Ajijic in that e-mail.

For example, “Ajijic, if you don’t know, is on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. It is about 35 miles south of Guadalajara.

“We moved here in September after 27 years in Tampa,” the e-mail continued. “We will spend the summer in Willoughby. Judging from what I read online in The News-Herald, it is about as dangerous there as it is here – which is to say, not very – with the use of common sense.”

My correspondent then zoomed in on a subject near to my heart, and one upon which I expounded upon recently.

“I fondly remember a dark blue and silver Paper Mate pen that a customer of mine in Akron lifted (er, borrowed) from me. I liked it so much that I went back to her office the next day, but of course, it was not there.

“It was my favorite pen, which has been unsurpassed in the 35 years since. I now use a Cross pen (probably the manufacturer you refer to in gifts from Dr. White and Paul Anka) my wife had engraved for me a long time ago.”

(Good guess. Exactly right!)

“It has great sentimental value but is not better than the old Paper Mate.”

I am delighted that he thought so much of his Paper Mate. As I pointed out before, I am so fond of mine, and I use it so much, that the words “Marous Brothers Construction Co.” have completely worn off the side — which has no impact whatsoever on its performance as a writing instrument.

My correspondent concludes with, “Good luck as a blogger. I will continue to read you even though you think you have slipped on the journalistic/literary scale.”

I don’t think any such thing. I am sorry if I implied any slippage, because I didn’t intend to. But I can see how that conclusion might be drawn, given my disdain for the world of blogging.

But since we don’t home delivery in Ajijic, or even in Guadalajara (that may be coming next) Bob will just have to continue reading me in the only medium in which I am currently available in Mexico – the blog.

Oh, I almost forgot. I didn’t introduce you to Bob.

My correspondent in Ajijic, Painesville native, Harvey High graduate and friend of Mickey Kapostasy (that in itself should be enough of a recommendation in my book) is Bob Smith.

If find it odd that Bob and I have never met.

Perhaps when he is here in Willoughby for the summer, Bob and Mickey and I can get together and compare ball-point pens.

But Mickey should be forewarned — he’d better arm himself with a good, reliable Paper Mate or he will be unable to compete.


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