Tag Archives: Quay County Sun

Teachers are a cut above many of the rest of us

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

I made a confession today to someone I didn’t know before we met at Street Toyota, where I work part-time as a service department concierge.

This woman is a retired public school teacher and counselor. She served as a counselor in Spearman and Borger, Texas. We exchanged pleasantries and then I told her: “I am not wired to be a teacher.” I then saluted her for her years of service in public education and told her that I remain convinced now more than ever that teachers have a special wiring that enables them to do what they do.

I doffed my imaginary cap to her and we continued chatting about this and that while she waited for her car to be serviced.

Since¬†I stopped working full-time for a living — in daily print journalism — more than four years ago, I have tried my hand at a number of gigs. Some of those gigs involved journalism: blogging for Panhandle PBS and for KFDA NewsChannel 10 and helping produce a weekly newspaper, the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari, N.M.

One gig involved working for about six months as a juvenile supervision officer for the Randall County Youth Center of the High Plains.

Still another was as a substitute teacher in the Amarillo Independent School District. I learned right away about one of my many shortcomings as I entered a classroom full of students who began sizing me up right away.

That shortcoming is this: My DNA does not allow me cope well with students who know how to play substitute teachers like fiddles; it becomes something of an art form with these individuals

The Amarillo school system would send me to one of its four public high schools fairly regularly; I will not disclose which one. I did not do well¬†dealing with the youngsters with attitudes, man. It was particularly stark right after lunch. The students would come back from their lunch hour after having consumed — more than likely — copious amounts of sugar and¬†caffeinated drinks (such as, oh, Red Bull). They had difficulty settling down.

Some of the little darlin’s thought they’d test me. They wouldn’t do as I asked. They would mouth off. They would disrespect the ol’ man — yours truly.

I was empowered, of course, to summon help from The Office if I needed it. I chose not to exercise that power. I just didn’t want to admit to the administration at this high school that I couldn’t handle the little pukes,¬†I mean¬†students.

So, I let ’em trample all over me.

After a while, I came to this realization: The Amarillo ISD didn’t pay me enough to put up with the snark infestation.

I quit accepting assignments at that high school, which apparently was where the need was greatest. The rest of the school district didn’t need my services regularly.

I walked away from that gig.

Which brings me back to my point. I salute teachers the way I salute first responders — such as firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics.

They all do things I am incapable of doing.

I’ll stick with what I know, which at the moment continues to be writing about politics, public policy and life experience on this blog and greeting customers at the auto dealership.

I will cede the hard work gladly to public school educators.

Full-time retirement inches a little closer


This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

One of the many¬†joys of my post-daily journalism life has been in telling folks that I work four — count ’em, four — part-time jobs.

Well, I can’t say that any longer.

I’m down to three.

Actually, you can call it two-and-a-half.

What does this mean? Well, I figure it means I’ll have a bit more time to start looking forward to the full-time retirement gig that is looming ever larger on the horizon.

Two of my remaining jobs are of the self-employment category. I work from home to do one of them, which is to edit news copy and proof-read pages for the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari, N.M. The other job requires to pile into a motor vehicle and interview subjects for stories I write for NewsChannel10.com, the website for KFDA-TV NewsChannel 10.

A third¬†job came to an end this week when Panhandle PBS’s general manager informed me of the station’s plans to move in a new direction. I’m OK with the decision, although — as I admitted to my former boss — I am disappointed and, frankly, a little sad that my time there as a public affairs programming blogger has come to an end.

Still, I wish them well. The station is run by a good crew of energetic and (mostly) young staffers intent on producing public television programming that matters to those who watch it.

I made a decision a while ago to work at the automobile dealership only when needed: vacation or sick relief, those kinds of things. My employer agreed.

What’s left for yours truly? Well, my hope is to stay busy writing and editing for as long as I can.

My wife and I believe we are moving toward the best of our life together.

We are eternal optimists. Not a thing that has happened since we entered this new phase of our life has changed our outlook about the prospect of full-time retirement.


Yes, I am 'living the dream' … honest

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

You hear it all the time.

“Hey, how ya doin’?”

“Just living the dream, man. Just living the dream.”

You both laugh. It’s kind of a self-deprecating expression — usually — meant to make good-natured fun of one’s lot in life.

I don’t say that to folks because I don’t want anyone to confuse what I mean with what I say. Which is to say that were I to declare I’m “living the dream,” I really and truly mean it.

I’m happy to make the declaration here. Please know that in all sincerity, life is good.

I now am working four — count ’em, four — part-time jobs. They all activities that give me great pleasure.

Three of them involve journalism: blogging for Panhandle PBS (panhandlepbs.org), the Amarillo College-affiliated public TV station; writing news stories for NewsChannel10.com, which is the website for Amarillo’s local CBS-TV affiliate, NewsChannel 10; and helping a friend publish a weekly newspaper, the Quay County Sun, based in Tucumcari, N.M.

My wife reminds me that I am getting paid “to have fun.”

The fourth job is as a concierge for Street Toyota here in Amarillo. My task there? To chat with¬†service customers and to make their experience at Street more enjoyable. That’s what they asked of me when they hired me. I thought, “Heck yeah, I can do that!”

I’ve heard others say as they enter semi-retirement that they “busier’n ever.” I get it. My wife and I are taking time as well to enjoy our life, to travel a¬†bit here and there and to get ready for the day when we can move into full retirement.

My daily grind in print journalism ended more than two years ago. It was a stunning development. I’ve recovered nicely, I’m happy to report.

You won’t hear me say I’m “living the dream.” I don’t want you to think I’m making fun of my lot in life.

The dream is quite real.


Growing old is turning out OK … so far

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

The older I get the more I learn about myself.

One of things I am learning is how adaptable I have become. Actually, I’ve know about the adaptability for some time. My family and I moved from Oregon — where I grew up and spent most of my first 34 years on Earth — to Texas. I adapted just fine.

My journalism career brought tremendous change over the course of 37 years. In August 2012, when I started sensing my days were numbered at the¬†Amarillo Globe-News,¬†where I worked for more than 17 years, I fell back on my last line of defense in an effort to keep my job in the face of a¬†reorganization scheme. I told my employer: “You’re asking me to make changes in the way I do things. Well, my craft today bears next to zero resemblance to what it was when I began, so the changes you’re asking me to make amount to a tiny fraction of the change I’ve already gone through.”

That pitch didn’t work. They assigned my duties to someone else and I walked away.

Adaptability: That’s my middle name, yes?

Well, I have found a whole new world of new things to which I can adapt.

I’m still writing. This blog is one outlet. I also am writing for Panhandle PBS — the Amarillo College-based public TV station formerly known as KACV-TV. I blog about public affairs programming: PBS documentaries, news specials, Panhandle PBS’s “Live Here” public affairs program. It’s a blast, man. I’ve taken on another writing assignment, for KFDA-NewsChannel 10. I write for the station’s website — newschannel10.com — and they use those news stories as the basis for weekly on-air broadcasts. That, too, is big-time hoot.

Now I’m taking on another task. Let’s call it “managing editor in absentia” for the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari, N.M. I’ve been asked to assist in producing the paper each week — from my home, using my laptop, cell phone and e-mail communication with a reporter who’ll produce the text. I’ve implored my friend, David Stevens — who works as executive editor¬† for the parent company that also publishes daily papers in Clovis and Portales, N.M. — to please keep looking aggressively for a permanent managing editor. He assures me he will.

But you see, what I’ve discovered is that there really is a market out there for old guys with (lots of) gray in their hair.

I still am looking forward to retirement, although it’s looking less likely that I’m a candidate for The Pasture any time soon.

My wife and I still have plans — eventually — to relocate closer to our granddaughter and her parents, who live just a bit north of Dallas. I hope to take much of my work with me, if it’s possible. The Internet Age has made that kind of transition available, even to old guys like me.

They have that saying about hindsight’s perfect vision. Our foresight remains quite fuzzy.

Neither my wife nor I ever could have imagined this stage of our life together turning out this way.

Hey, everyone needs some surprises in life.

Adaptability makes it easier to cope with them when they show up.

Opportunity knocks … once again

Old men do have a future, even if it could be fleeting and temporary.

How do I know that? A new door has just opened for me and I’ve decided to walk through it.

I’ve accepted a challenge from a friend and former colleague who’s asked me to help him produce a weekly newspaper in eastern New Mexico. My friend, David Stevens, is looking aggressively for a managing editor for the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari. For the time being — and hopefully not too long — he’s going to rely on yours truly to help him with the task of publishing the Sun.

David — a recent inductee into the Panhandle Press Hall of Fame — edits the Clovis News-Journal and the Portales News-Tribune; the papers’ parent company also owns the Quay County Sun.

Here’s how it went down.

David sent me a text message today, asking me to call when I had a few minutes. I called.

“I’ve got an opportunity for you and you won’t have to leave the house,” David said.

“OK, what’s up?” I asked.

The opportunity provides me with a chance to work with a young reporter in Tucumcari, who’ll send me news budgets weekly. We’ll agree on stories he’ll cover for the next edition of the Sun. The reporter then will draft the stories, he’ll e-mail them to me, I’ll edit¬†the¬†raw copy¬†and send the files back to him.

The Quay County Sun goes to press each Tuesday and is distributed the next day. During the day Tuesday, I’ll receive PDF files of the pages — again via e-mail — from the reporter who’ll build the pages at the Sun’s office in Tucumcari. I’ll proof-read the pages, call the reporter on my phone, recommend changes to the pages. My young colleague will make the changes and then put the pages, in newspaper jargon, “to bed.”

The Quay County Sun publishes about 16 pages weekly. I’m told we’ll be producing eight to 12 pages with news copy on them.

That, as they say, is the new opportunity.

My friend, David, is well aware of my other commitments: the blog I write for Panhandle PBS, the special projects reporting I’m doing for¬†KFDA-TV’s NewsChannel10.com, and my¬†part-time job at¬†an automobile dealership in Amarillo.

This new gig is going to be a first-class blast.

My daily print journalism career may be over, but I keep turning these corners and running smack into unexpected challenges.

As I keep telling my friends and strangers I meet on my daily travels through life … I am having way more fun than I deserve.