Well, we made it through the last of the six-part “year in review.”

Some people love those things, others don’t. Some people like to be reminded of the big events in the community, see where we’ve been, be reminded there could be more to the stories coming up in the new year. Others are done with it all.

Regardless, we’d just like to point this out (bragging here): We ran more than  400 column inches of review stories for 2019. That’s hundreds of stories reviewed for the entire year.

What are we bragging about? Those were our stories. And it’s just a portion of what we produced – the year in review stories were made up of lists of mostly one or two stories per day through the year. Those are stories that our small but powerful news team took on, witnessed or researched or learned about in interviews, and wrote. That is all our work. 

We didn’t repeat it all from the Internet. We didn’t copy it from someone else’s website and reprint it. We didn’t let other people just fill in the space with gabbing and complaining.

It was all our work.

Maybe we can do better... we’re always looking for a way to optimize our resources. But we’re darned sure that no one else is going to do better than we will at giving you the volume, and the quality, and the variety of news. 

And we’re just talking local news ... not including the opinion, the commentary, the wire stories, the comics, the advertising, not including the photographs, the public safety logs, the calendars ... 

Here are the names of the people on the newsroom staff who helped make this possible: Jake Abbott, Veronica Catlin, Ruby Larson, John Stevens, Lynzie Lowe, Jeff Larson, Nicki Schedler, David Wilson and Reanna Simmons. They are a great hometown newspaper news team.

OK, bragging over.

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Thumbs Down: This struck me the other day when my attention-addicted smartphone was running low on power and I had to leave it plugged in on the counter while I went about my life for an hour or so ... always one of the longest hours of the day.

We used to, now and then, do nothing. Just sat and did nothing for a little bit. Thought about things, maybe. Completely spaced out, probably. Just sat ... “daydreaming,” we called it. Who does that anymore?

Back in our poverty-laden younger years, we heated our home with wood stoves. There was a whole culture surrounding the use of wood stoves. Probably still is, but our lungs don’t appreciate the smoke anymore. But back in the day, we had a really nice Round Oak parlor stove. Pete Dell had dug it out of the earth in the old barn on his dad’s farm where they put stuff then didn’t use anymore. After some hours with a steel brush, a new tube fabricated by the old metal-bending guy in the old part of town and a couple pints of stove blacking and it was good as new. 

You could swing the side door open on that thing and dump some big chunks of oak in there and it was good for all night. 

And that’s where it happened. Sitting in a chair with your feet up on the foot rests around the bottom of the stove ... you just sat there listening to the fire, getting warm like you wanted to be all that winter’s day, and you did nothing for a while. Your mind might rest a bit, then run wild a while, but you just sat there and let it. 

That sort of situation is almost impossible now. You can’t sit still that long without reaching for your cell phone to see who has recently liked whatever you said on whichever app you use.

I wonder what that’s done to us ... the dearth of time to space out. How do you measure the impact? 

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Ugh. Cold Jokes ... for when you go somewhere cold ... because it doesn’t really get cold here:

– Why do whales swim in salt water? Pepper water makes them sneeze.

– Grandma’s been standing there, staring through the window since it started snowing. If the weather gets any worse, I guess we’ll have to let her in.

– What do you get from sitting on the ice too long? Polaroids.

(Readers: As you can see, we could really use some help refreshing the old joke cupboard... send them in to smiller@appealdemocrat.com.)

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