Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let Me Distill That for You

I'm old school enough to still enjoy reading a newspaper rather than getting my news online when I can, although I only get the Washington Post these days.

I can attribute this partly to having newspaper-loving parents and partly just to my love of the written word.

But I also once worked for the R.J. Reynolds Lobbying office in D.C., where one of my daily responsibilities was to read the papers and pull out any references to Reynolds or any of their other interests (Seagram's, SeaLand, Delmonte, and others) for the lobbyists.

This meant I started every work day by reading the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the L.A. Times.

For a devoted newspaper hound like me, it was an enviable task to call work.

Years later, a boyfriend half-jokingly suggested that I'd be the ideal person to read the papers, culling the choice articles and saving him the trouble of reading the less interesting bits.

That way, we would have the same starting points for a lively discussion of the day's paper.

Although I don't have any particular person to glean for any more, I still have a habit of reading for the best parts, if only in hopes of finding someone to discuss them with.

So it was that I headed to Tarrant's tonight for dessert and to finish today's Post.

There was a whiny piece about leisure time and time management, apparently a huge issue for many people.

But the part that grabbed me was the time-use studies done by John Robinson, a sociologist at my alma mater, the University of Maryland, and a man who says finding leisure time is an act of will; accordingly, he set out to build leisure time into his own life.

But I wanted to embrace this 74-year old man when I read his philosophy of a) not allowing yourself to be rushed and b) his insistence on going out nearly every night.

Or, as he put it, "A day without live music is like a day without sunshine." I bow to this man's brilliant thinking.

Another excellent piece was about Benjamin Latrobe, known as America's first architect.

He would be the architect of the U.S. Capitol and the unbelievably beautiful Baltimore Basilica.

But his first project in the U.S. was the State Penitentiary here in Richmond which embraced some of the newest ideas in penal reform being espoused by Thomas Jefferson at the time (and who was clearly influenced by Latrobe in designing UVA).

Unfortunately, his Richmond work was not even acknowledged in the article, but it was fascinating stuff nonetheless.

His later years were spent in New Orleans (where he eventually died from Yellow Fever), making me wish I'd taken the time to do a Latrobe tour when I was last there.

I'd also recommend the How To Deal article on how to explain a job search when you've moved to a new city simply to be with your boyfriend.

The health care reform piece on how blood tests and weigh-ins to determine individual health care costs work naturally caught my eye, as did the article on Obama's pet speech phrases.

Personally, I'm a sucker for language articles, but I think anyone would enjoy this one.

So if you're one of the rushed majority and need to get right to the good stuff, there are your recommendations for what to read in today's paper.

And most importantly, remember the live music rule.

Of course, I already knew it.

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