A Reporter's Life

— Thursday, August 24, 2006 —

Poor Pluto

My grade school science lessons and the mobile I made of the planets have just had a rude shock: Pluto is no longer a planet. Except for Earth, Pluto and Jupiter were always the easiest planets for me to remember because Jupiter was the biggest and Pluto was the smallest and furthest from the sun. But now it's been downgraded to a "dwarf planet."

Next thing you know, they're going to tell me that the quadratic equation is bunk, too. That would be easier for me to get over, though, because when they started throwing numbers in with letters, my world got goofier (no pun intended, regarding Goofy and Pluto).

Edited at 8:49 p.m.: A certain bloke (word used appropriately), who might be named Ross, has corrected me. The reasoning for declassifying Pluto as a planet is a bit different than I'd posted. He referenced this link.

Posted by Layla at 8:26 AM

— Sunday, August 20, 2006 —

Camping photos

For those interested, here are some photos from the camping trip to Point Reyes:

Posted by Layla at 10:48 PM

— Monday, August 07, 2006 —

Mel Gibson, anti-Semite

By now, if you don't know that Mel Gibson was arrested for driving drunk and then let loose with a bunch of choice anti-Semitic lines, you're probably never going to hear it. I followed a lot of the aftermath, including things like whether it would hurt his career and whether he would speak at a synagogue in an attempt at atonement.

Personally, I find it interesting that Gibson's blood-alcohol content level wasn't that far above the legal driving limit, especially for someone who has personally admitted to having battled alcoholism for years. Yet, when alcohol loosened his tongue, his instinct was to start ranting aginst Jews and blaming them for all wars.

So, now that the story has passed its news peak, the columnists are still at their own opinion peaks. For one thing, they point out that there's just no way Gibson needs to worry about his career. Anyone who can put something like $25 million of his money into "The Passion of the Christ" clearly is at a secure place in his life. Plus, anti-Semitism allegations arose during the making of that film, and were fueled by the fact that Gibson's father denies that the Holocaust even happened. And you can see how that affected Gibson: His movie grossed more than $370 million.

The other point, perhaps best made by this Boston Globe columnist, is that Gibson's DUI got a whole lot more attention than did the story of a man who went on a rampage through a Seattle center, killing one and injuring five.

Posted by Layla at 10:35 PM

— Sunday, August 06, 2006 —

Pt. Reyes camping

Did you miss me? OK, probably not, but that's OK because I didn't miss you. No, I'm not that mean. It's just that I had a good weekend camping at Olema Ranch near Point Reyes on the coast. Two friends and I headed out Friday, and we were joined Saturday morning by a fourth person.

Much fun was had, and the Pt. Reyes lighthouse and beach were wonderful. Parts of me are currently the color and feel of a very bright pink, painful thing because I left my sunscreen in the car for the trek to the lighthouse. Then I didn't apply it until we got to the beach, and it takes about 10 minutes for sunscreen to start working (hence the reason the directions say to apply it before going out in the sun). And I'd been so good this year about avoiding sunburn, too.

OK, now that I've read up on the goings-on in the world this weekend, I think I will get off the Internet and go read.

Posted by Layla at 10:06 PM

— Thursday, July 27, 2006 —

Impatient MySpacer

I had a friend request on MySpace tonight from a guy whose page background consisted of South Park, which is fine on its own but made me a bit skeptical when combined with large, red font and a friends page of chicks in bikinis.

However, I tend to treat MySpace people the same way I treat telemarketers: I want to either find genuinely interesting people or I want to make them hang up on me. Or, in the case of the Internet, make them never send me another message. It's just so much better when they make the choice. So I sent the guy a message, saying, "Give me a reason why I should friend you." He replied, "im just trying to do something nice for you by sending you a friend request."

That response wasn't exactly promising, and then I got distracted on other more interesting things. An hour and eight minutes later, he was back with this: "never mind the request im tired of waiting for you to make a decision it is your loss not mine dont bother to try to contact me you have been blocked from trying to do so."

It looks like he really did block me (one down, millions to go!) but just to make sure I had the last word, I replied, "Thanks for giving me blog fodder." Sometimes I just love the world.

Posted by Layla at 11:41 PM

— Monday, July 24, 2006 —

Still hot

There's no end in sight to the heat wave that is roasting Californians to death -- literally. Somehow, I've managed to stay alive despite having no central air and living upstairs on the side of the building that gets afternoon sun. My window air-conditioning unit only does so much, and only in one room at most.

I'll come back to me in a moment, but I must highlight one insane line in a weather-related story. Power shortage is one of the main worries, and that extends to St. Louis, where 200,000 homes still have no power after days. From the article (toward the bottom) comes this line: "The power company has been running TV commercials asking people to be patient." Um, if people have no power, how are they going to see the TV commercial? I think the company should fire its public relations people and find ones who will consider things like giving out food to the people who lost everything in their refrigerators.

To those of you who say the heat is no big deal, let me give you an idea of how hot it has gotten in my apartment. I take a cool shower that borders on cold. I open the shampoo bottle and dispense hot shampoo into my hand. When I get out, the floor is hot to the touch. My towel is hot. By the time I escape to the carpet in the living room, the shower has proven pointless.

P.S. - I recant the statement in my previous entry about July typically being this hot. Five days later, Mother Nature has whole-heartedly made a blazing (in more ways than one) liar out of me.

Posted by Layla at 7:16 PM

— Wednesday, July 19, 2006 —


As most Americans know, it's been really, really, really hot lately. Of course, this is July so we shouldn't be especially surprised -- unless you're my slightly off-balance neighbor who insists that July has never, ever, ever been this hot.

This is when reporters cringe because they're probably going to be assigned the dreaded weather story. I had one editor who loved those things so much that I could actually recognize his "I have an idea for a weather story!" look. And then I could run, mumbling something about breaking news on the police scanner.

As it turns out, that editor was not the only one. Such things happen to Philadelphia reporters, too.

Posted by Layla at 9:26 PM

— Tuesday, July 11, 2006 —

Fun obit

Every once in a while, a not-so-normal obituary makes news and reminds me that I really should sit down and at least write out a few basic requirements. The latest interesting obit appeared a couple days ago in a Virginia newspaper, in the form of Frederic Arthur Clark's self-penned obituary. Among other things, he "loved to hear and tell jokes, especially short ones due to his limited attention span," and "was deprived of his final wish which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a double date to include his wife, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to crash an ACLU cocktail party." And his ashes will be shot from a cannon.

The obituary is legitimate, and became the subject of an article in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch. Family members had received a lot of feedback, and they seemed to appreciate it. (After all, they filled in a few details of the obit and then submitted it to the paper.)

That's how I'd like to be remembered. I don't want to be the cause of any more sadness than necessary, and I'd much rather have people remember me with a grin. I've heard that even at age 2, I was trying to cheer people up, so why should that change? So maybe I should get around to that will and obituary. It seems like I'd thoroughly enjoy writing them, and there are a few things I should make clear in writing.

For instance, there will be no separate services for different sides of my family; everyone must be invited, and if they don't show up because they're afraid of seeing someone, that's too bad. Any part of my body that can be saved is to go to transplant patients. No expensive caskets and flowers are to be purchased -- unless an insurance company is paying for them, in which case I don't care. If any lawsuits are filed as a result of my death, all money must go to charity, specifically to legitimate pregnancy resource centers and adoption organizations. Because of this, the lawyers handling the case should be willing to take a lower-than-average cut of the money. If not, take the story to the media.

See? I'm having fun, and that's just the beginning. I'm sure any family members reading this are now worrying about what's next. But that's OK, because many of my family members were born worriers.

Posted by Layla at 10:59 PM

— Saturday, July 08, 2006 —

Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas is incredibly cool. The Ironstone Vineyards ampitheater is also quite cool. Put the two together, throw in a beautiful night under the stars with no city smog, then add good company. The result is a very good concert.

And a tired Layla.

Posted by Layla at 2:06 AM

Welcome to the life of a reporter — a journalist's weblog, if you will. My name is Layla Bohm, and more information about me can be found at my site, theSmudge.com.
That's one of my hobbies, but my full-time job is as the police and courts reporter for a small daily newspaper in California's Central Valley.
My life as a reporter is quite interesting, and a lot of things do not or cannot make it into the articles I write. Here you'll see some of those things, and you'll also find some thoughts related to news, media and my life as a reporter.
The only limitation I've given myself is that the things I post here must relate to reporters or news. Since that basically encompasses the universe, the sky is my limit.
Comments are more than welcome, though I do reserve the right to delete them.
The things written on this page are in no way representative of my employer or the place at which I work, and it is all done in my own time.
Recent Entries
Poor Pluto
Camping photos
Mel Gibson, anti-Semite
Pt. Reyes camping
Impatient MySpacer
Still hot
Fun obit
Rob Thomas
MySpace arrest

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Special thanks to Don for the burning plant analogies that helped me understand CSS positioning.

Thanks also go to Sarah, the idea giver and finder of errors.

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