Dave is at home in Gainesville, resting.
His term ended at 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chicago, Aug. 26:
Tonight, it will be over. It seems hard to believe that my term as SPJ president is coming to an end so soon. Short: That's how it seems today, but there were plenty of days in the past 11 months when I thought it was a long, long term, indeed.

Being SPJ president is a wonderful and fulfilling experience. But it is a really hard job, at least it is for me. SPJ has quite a few more than 9,000 members, and quite a few of them would be happy to question an incontovertible fact as basic as what day it is. It is not an easy group to please, nor an easy group to bring to consensus.

I learned tremendously. I made a lot of mistakes. I had a few triumphs. I only hope I am leaving this 97-year-old institution at least a little bit better than I found it.
Chicago, Aug. 24:
This is supposed to be a travel blog, but I am going to violate my own rule just this once.

Today was a great, great day.

The SPJ board met for four and a half hours this afternoon, my last meeting as president, and we did something truly memorable, something great.

We voted to make the largest grant ever from our Legal Defense Fund to support a young, independent journalist who sits without bail in a federal prison outside San Francisco because he refuses to turn over to a federal grand jury outtakes of video he shot at a demonstration last year. (See http://www.joshwolf.net)

The amount, I guess, isn't very impressive, $31,000, but it will ensure that the young man and his family never have to pay a dime from their own pockets to cover legal fees in the case and that the lawyers will fight as long and hard as they can to prevent a federal prosecutor from turning a journalist into an arm of law enforcement.

It occurs to me only now that the 23-member SPJ board of directors passed every measure I asked of them this year. It's hard to imagine that any president has had greater support than that from his board. Thanks to each of you.
Chicago, Aug. 22:
We made the four-hour drive up to Chicago yesterday from the wedding in central Indiana. It was a beautiful day, and we arrived by early afternoon to spend Monday night with my older brother in Evanston on Chicago's north shore.

Tuesday morning I went to my brother's Rotary Club meeting, and then we visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens with my brother and his wife. After that we hit a laundromat to ensure that we had enough clean clothes to get us through the five days of SPJ meetings and convention. By 4 p.m., we checked in to the Hyatt Regency Chicago at 151 E. Wacker Drive. They gave us the VIP treatment and set us up in a luxurious, two-room suite.

For dinner, we almost ordered room service, but in the end we hiked a couple of blocks down Wacker Drive to McCormick and Schmick's for seafood. I had fresh Arctic Char from Alaska, a first for me. If I had to describe it, I'd say it is a cross between trout and salmon. Delicious.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kelly and Dana in the limo
Muncie, Ind., Aug. 22
Daughter Kelly has never looked happier or more beautiful than she did yesterday. Maybe it's just a stepdad's clouded eyes, but I thought she was an absolutely radiant bride. Here, she's shown with Dana, her matron of honor, in the limo just before the ceremony.

The wedding was in a gazebo set in a beautiful rose garden at a place called Minnetrista. The weather, which had been in question all week, turned out to be too good, if that's possible. It was very sunny and warm for the 6:30 p.m. service, especially for Kelly's two dads decked out in black, wool tuxes.

The reception was in a lovely banquet hall called the Carolina Room. Food and drinks abounded, and it didn't break up until after midnight. Four of Jeanne's five siblings were in attendance and my brother and his wife drove down from Chicago for the event.

We all wish the happy couple a lifetime of bliss.

Tomorrow, it's on to Chicago by car. We'll stay overnight with my brother and check into the convention hotel on Tuesday.
Indianapolis, Aug. 17:
Jeanne and I began our last journey as the first family of SPJ last night. We drove to the JAX airport and stayed overnight so we could catch an early flight to Indianapolis today. We will wind up in Chicago next week for the SPJ national convention.

First, though, I am attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention, visiting the staff at SPJ headquarters in Indy and going to my daughter's wedding in Muncie, Ind.

Despite all the hype about additional airport security and the new ban against liquids in carry-on baggage, I don't think it took more than about five minutes longer to clear it than before the latest threat. The Starbucks beyond the security checkpoint was a very busy place at 7 a.m. though, and there was a great deal more space available in the overhead bins on the planes because everybody checked nearly all of their bags.

NABJ's convention is larger than SPJ's even though the membership is much smaller. There are more than 2,000 journalists, exhibitors and recruiters here, they say. I've met several people who have told me they've been to every NABJ convention for 10, 12 even 26 years. They truly seem to appreciate seeing an SPJ president here.

The opening reception is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the convention sessions are in the Indianapolis Convention Center downtown. The exhibit hall is most impressive. It's packed with booths from dozens of newspapers and every major media company. Among newspapers, Scripps, McClatchey, Gannett, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and many more individual papers are recruiting. On the TV side, all the broadcast networks plus many cable stations including ESPN, the Weather Channel and Scripps Networks are represented.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Jordan Vineyards

San Francisco, Aug. 3:

I've been remiss the last few days in posting to the blog.

Jeanne and I arrived at SFO last Sunday and spent a couple of days up in the wine country -- Healdsburg, Sonoma County, to be exact. It was, of course, all business.

Some of you may not know that one of my part-time gigs is as a food and wine writer. I've been reviewing restaurants and writing about wine for more than 15 years now, so, I assure you, it was all research as we made the rounds of about a dozen Dave the the Golden Gatewineries, mostly pinor noir producers in the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. Our favorites this trip were Arista, J and Papapietro-Perry. We also had great meals at Dry Creek Kitchen and Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg and at Mirepoix in Windsor.

Yesterday (Wednesday) we drove back to San Francisco so I could attend to some SPJ business.

Today was an all-day meeting of the Council of National Journalism Organizations. The meeting was held at the San Francisco Marriot in conjunction with the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the primary organizaton for journalism educators. Terry Harper and I represented SPJ.

CNJO is an interesting group. It now comprises some 55 journalism organizations including SPJ, the National Press Photorgraphers Association, ASNE, IRE, NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, NLGJA, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Organization of News Ombudsmen and a lot more. The idea behind it is primarly to share information so that we all can benefit from the knowledge each of us has acquired, from the price of dues to what percentage of budget should go to salaries and what are the best cities for conventions.

The group meets twice a year, and most of the organizations send their president or executive director.

I'll be here the rest of the week attending the AEJMC meetings.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Washington, D.C., July 14:
Jeanne and I flew yesterday from Orlando to Washington, D.C., for the Sigma Delta Chi Awards banquet, which is tonight.

Today, we played tourist and climbed on a tour bus, the kind you can step off or step on at any of the stops around the city. Our primary goal was to visit the National Archives (we've already visited most of the major D.C. museums). We got off the bus near the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and walked through the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden. While there, we stopped for lunch in the Pavilion Cafe and then walked on over to the Archives.

Only one problem: There was a flood on June 25, and the National Archives are closed.

Tomorrow, we're meeting my brother and his family for a trip to the International Spy Museum and then the National Gallery of Art.

Friday, June 30, 2006

June 30, Vermont and New Hampshire:
Woo Hoo! I've now accomplished one of my life goals -- to visit all 50 states.

For years, I've been missing only two U.S. states, Vermont and New Hampshire, and today I had the chance to rectify that.

This afternoon, the sun came out for the first time since I arrived in northwest Massachusetts on Wednesday. So, after most of a day of sessions at the Media Giraffe conference at the University of Massachusetts /Amherst, I waylayed another conference-goer, Robb Montgomery from Chicago, and jumped in the car at 3 p.m. to drive the 35 miles or so up to Brattleboro, Vt.

I didn't know until we got there that I could knock off New Hampshire, too, simply by crossing the Connecticut River from downtown Brattleboro (Google map).

The drive up I-91 is perhaps the most pristine stretch of interstate highway I've ever been on. No billboards. No claptrap apartment buildings. No Wal-Marts. Virtually no houses visible from the road. It's as if they laid four lanes of concrete through an untouched forest. The only glitch was a construction site at a short bridge that backed up the northbound traffic for miles. It took 1:15 to get to Brattleboro and 35 minutes to get back.

My only regret is that I didn't get a picture of a "Moose Crossing" sign to add to the blog. I left my camera behind in the hotel room. (I snagged the picture above from a web site. Photo by Jason Ilyes.)

Upon our return, we visited a tiny Thai restaurant on an alley in downtown Amherst. Thai Corner it is called, and it is a family run sort of place right down to the pictures of the grandkids on the wall. The food was spectacular, and we had an entire meal -- soup, salad, chicken satay, rice and green curry, all washed down with Thai beer, for $20 each.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 28: Amherst, Mass.
Just when I think my airline luck has run out, along comes a good day.

Today's flight from Tampa to Hartford, Conn., was not just uneventful, it was non-stop and on time. I even got upgraded to first class.

At the airport, I met Steve Fox and Adrian Holovaty of the Washington Post and we drove the hour up to the University of Massachusetts/Amherst for the Media Giraffe Conference. It's a gathering of diverse groups involved in Internet publishing. There are about 220 people here including mainstream media types, pure-play Internet types, bloggers with ties to big media, bloggers with no ties at all (including neckties), and academics. It should be an interesting few days because there is no dominant faction, at least in numbers. I'm speaking on a panel at dinner on Thursday. Topic: "Can (media) ownership make a difference?"
June 26: Albuquerque, NM.
It's another day in airline hell.

I arrive at 6:30 a.m. for my 8:30 a.m. flight from Albuquerque to Atlanta. At check-in, I get the word that the flight is delayed three hours and will take off at 11:30. That means I'll miss my connection to Gainesville. The clincher is that all the later flights are full.

The only way to get home on Monday is to fly to Tampa, rent a car and drive two hours north to Gainesville. The flight to Tampa is on time. Avis has a car ready for me. So far so good. Then, half way back to Gainesville on I-75, traffic is stopped dead by an accident some miles farther north. Fortunately, I am able to get off the interstate and make my way around the wreck, but I finally arrive home at 10:30 p.m.

It was, shall we say, a long day.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June 21: Albuquerque, N.M.
I flew to New Mexico today to promote what we hope will be a new SPJ chapter here.

The flights, for once, were uneventful. Avis even had the rental car ready when I got to Albuquerque International, but I sure am getting tired of airplanes. I just got home Monday night from San Francisco, then had to wing it West again on Wednesday morning.

But I always love New Mexico. I lived here for 13 years before moving to the University of Florida. This evening I was able to indulge my constant craving for New Mexican food -- carne adovada enchiladas topped with green chile at Garduno's.

Tomorrow, I will meet with journalists here about affiliating with SPJ, eat more green chile, and then drive up to Southwestern Colorado for a few days of R&R near Durango.