Ball State photojournalism professor Tom Price, wife, injured in house fire

Noted Ball State photojournalism professor Tom Price and his wife, Pam, were critically injured in a fire that destroyed their Muncie, Ind., home early Saturday.

Photo by Jordan Kartholl/Muncie Star Press

The fire broke out in the garage, where Tom reportedly does woodworking. The couple called 911 to report the blaze and told firefighters they were leaving the house.

Evidently, something happened to keep that from happening. Firefighters found them in an upstairs bedroom after part of the house had collapsed.

Keith Roysdon of the Muncie Star Press reports:

The two were transported from the fire scene to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and then to Eskenazi Health Hospital in Indianapolis. An Eskenazi spokesman said Saturday afternoon that both Tom and Pam Price were in critical condition.

Their son, Fletcher Price, contacted The Star Press Saturday afternoon to say that his parents’ injuries might be mostly limited to oxygen deprivation. He said they were sedated and being intubated to get oxygen into their systems.

Ball State senior Jordan Huffer launched a GoFundMe drive to help raise living expenses. As of 8:30 a.m. CDT Monday, a total of 61 people had contributed more than $3,510 of the targeted $4,000.

Go here to add your donation.

A 1972 graduate of the University of South Carolina, Price spent 21 years as director of photography for the News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla. He earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University in 1997 and joined the faculty of Ball State shortly thereafter as sequence coordinator for photojournalism.


Many of you may know him, however, as the guy who operates the internationally famous Kalish visual editing workshop. This year’s workshop is scheduled to begin June 12.

In addition, Tom works as a soccer referee, crew assigner and referee instructor for the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Find Tom’s official Ball State profile page here.

Stories from the Ball State Daily:

Virginian-Pilot’s Robert Suhay going for a world sailing record

As you read this, Robert Suhay — who has designed so many of those Virginian-Pilot front pages we’ve all drooled over — is alone, smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

And, most likely, he’s loving it.


Robert is spending this week in pursuit of a world record for the unassisted solo sailing of a dinghy. To break the record, Robert must complete 300 nautical miles. He’s aiming for a 317 nautical mile — that’s 365 statute miles — trip from Norfolk to Pooles Island Light, just past Baltimore. And back.

What is a dinghy? This little guy, on the right:


It’s only 14 feet, 5 inches long and it’s made by a company called Laser. Therefore, Robert’s wife, Lisa — a freelance commentary writer and author — is promoting the trip as a Laser sailing record.

In the wee hours of Sunday, Robert prepared his vessel…


…and launched into the Elizabeth River that runs west of Norfolk, near the Suhays’ home. Lisa snapped this next picture at 5:08 a.m. Sunday — Robert launched an hour or so behind his original schedule.


Note the interesting contrast with the humongous container ship in the background.

The plan was for Robert to sail under the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, past the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse near Hampton and then enter the Chesapeake Bay proper. His route, again, will carry him north past Baltimore and back.

So, how’s he doing? Lisa spent much of Sunday unsure, and it was driving her crazy. Robert’s equipped with an Android phone and a Magellan GPS, which he bought after his last attempt at the record. Paul Pierre-Louis of the Baltimore Sun reported:

Last year, he successfully made a 170-nautical-mile trip to Annapolis in 31 hours but feared that strong winds would slow him on the way back to Norfolk.

This time, however, Lisa stopped hearing from Robert after just four-and-a-half hours after he departed Norfolk.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, she was alerted that he had been sighted in the shipping lane north of Matthews, Va. He was spotted again at 5:30 this morning by a container ship near the mouth of the Potomac.

She notified the Coast Guard this morning about the communications blackout — y’know, just in case. She writes she has received

…reports from mariners who have sighted Robert Monday that the Android phone got wet, despite the waterproof case, and has been rendered inert.

That means no communication via tweet, text, or the GPS locator chip that our carrier, T-Mobile, could otherwise access to locate my sailing spouse.

Lisa wrote elsewhere that the Coast Guard…

…is still looking to make a visual confirmation with no assistance rendered that would affect his record attempt.

Around noon EDT today, Robert was seen near Tilghman Island — meaning he was getting pretty close to Annapolis. So he’s making decent time.

Just before I posted this item yet another update rolled in. Lisa writes the Robert was…

…spotted by Maury Niebur off Thomas Point, Md.


Standing to stretch.

That would have been around 4 p.m. EDT today.

A 1985 graduate of New Jersey’s Monmouth University, Robert Suhay spent 15 years as a reporter and for the Asbury Park Press before moving to the Beaver County Times of suburban Pittsburgh.


Robert moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 2003. He was promoted to assistant director of presentation in 2011. He also spent eight years teaching as an adjunct at Norfolk’s Old Dominion University.

Robert turned 51 on Friday.


Lisa tells us:

Since his communications are out, we have initiated a Spot the Sail challenge. Anyone who spots him wins a signed Norfolk Mermaid book!


This would be Lisa’s book, There Goes a Mermaid! A Norfolktale, illustrated by the Pilot‘s legendary Sam Hundley.

Sail #168317. Send us news & photos too! Tweet:


or Email to:

Lsuhays3 [at]

A visitor from the Great Plains

Hey, I know that guy!


Unfortunately for Ian Lawson of the Omaha World-Herald, it looks like he knows me, too.

Ian is in Southern California for a few days. Last night, he joined us for dinner.

It was very cool, finally getting to meet Ian face-to-face. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long, long time. Ian spent three years as an editor and designer for the tiny Ledger Independent of Maysville, Ky…


…before moving to the Gannett design studio in Louisville in December 2011.

He moved to Omaha last summer.


Even Poynter did a story on him once.

Find Ian’s portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Baltimore Sun editor Jon Fogg recovering after attack

Jon Fogg, the sports/lacrosse editor for the Baltimore Sun, was attacked, beaten and robbed as he was leaving work in the wee hours of last Wednesday.


His family seeks assistance with his medical bills. Jon’s sister, Melissa Castone, explains at GoFundMe:

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, during the early hours of the morning, Jon Fogg was walking to his residence from where he parked his car after working his job at The Baltimore Sun.

During this walk, he was brutally attacked by a man wielding a brick. Jon was robbed of his wallet, laptop, and car keys. The attacker then stole Jon’s car, a Toyota Prius, that still had many of his gifts and gift cards from Christmas in it. The attacker also used Jon’s credit card to make fraudulent purchases.

Worse than the loss of his possessions, Jon suffers many physical injuries. He has 6 skull fractures, broken bones in both hands (which are splinted)… He was discharged from the hospital after 2 days and is currently in a lot of pain. The assailant has not been captured and there have been no leads on the vehicle.

The road to recovery will be a long one for Jon, and that is why we are creating this page for him. He will need a lot of medical attention, and because he has both arms in splints, he will not be able to work for some time.

If anyone would like to donate to help Jon recover, it would be greatly appreciated.

As news spread of Jon’s attack and donations began to pour in, his sister raised the goal at least six times. She added Saturday:

The newscast incorrectly reported that he lost his two front teeth, however, it is estimated that he has lost at least eight front teeth. He will be consulting with an oral surgeon, but early estimates show that dental implants will cost at least $15,000 and would not be covered under insurance.

As of 11:30 a.m. ET this morning, the goal was at $13,000. 313 donors had pledged $12,260.

Please make your pledge here.

A 2005 graduate of Susquehanna University, Jonathan freelanced for the Daily Item and the Reporter, served as a student editor for U-Wire and earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. He spent two years as a copy editor for the Morning Call of Allentown and then spent a year-and-a-half at the Washington Times before moving to the Sun in 2010.

This cute story will just make your day. I Kidd you not.

Some days, we struggle with deadlines and outdated equipment and balky front-end systems and balky managers.

And some days, it’s a pleasure to be at work.

Craig Schaffer of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle had one of the latter last week. He produces a weekly graphic column-like snapshot for his paper’s business page.

Last week, his topic happened to be famed book designer Chip Kidd. Click this for a larger view:


That ran in last Tuesday’s Eagle. Craig shared on Facebook:

I did a graphic in today’s paper on Chip Kidd, Berks native and probably the most famous graphic designer alive today.

This afternoon I find the sweetest thank you note from his mom and dad on my desk.

Is that cool, or what?


A 1998 graduate of the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Craig spent several years as an archaeological illustrator before joining the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa. He moved to the Reading Eagle in 2005. In addition to Snapshot, Craig also produces a “hand-drawn nature column” called Sketchbook that appears every Wednesday in the Eagle‘s Berks Country section.

Find his Snapshot gallery here. Find his Sketchbook gallery here.

I most recently wrote about Craig’s work this summer on the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Find Craig’s online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

UPDATE – 9 a.m.

Craig tells me the business cover story that day was on Kidd. Find that here.

And then there’s this:


Longtime visuals editor Bill Dunn fighting cancer

Bill Dunn, longtime visual editor and, for the last 12 years, editor of the Grand Island Independent in Nebraska, is battling cancer.


A mutual friend got the word today directly from Bill’s wife, Barbara:

Bill has esophageal cancer.

At first they said it was operable, so they could do chemo radiation and surgery. Then they found it had spread more so they are doing aggressive chemo to kill all the cancer in him. The plan is chemo every three weeks and also chemo pills every day.

He is going to go through hell but our plan is to kill the cancer and get on with life.

He’s not going back to the paper.

Bill says it’s okay to spread the word.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Bill was graphics and visuals editor at the Orange County Register and associate graphics editor at the Los Angeles Times before spending eight years as assistant managing editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Bill served as site chair for the 2000 SND annual workshop in Minneapolis before moving to Nebraska the next year.

Bill at his drawing table last month.

In addition to editing the paper, Bill also draws his own editorial cartoons. A few quick examples from this past year:

1311BillDunnSample01 1311BillDunnSample02 1311BillDunnSample03

Find his online archive here.

I credit Bill as one of the forces that helped guide my career over the past decade-and-a-half or so. I had done only a few minor speaking engagements in my career when I was asked to speak as a last-minute fill-in at a quickcourse in Rockford, Ill., in early 2001. To my surprise, the session went much better than I had expected.

Not long after I returned home to Des Moines, Bill called and invited me to speak at the big annual workshop that fall in Minneapolis.

I was stunned, to say the least. And most definitely not worthy of such an invitation. But Bill insisted I come speak. He also insisted I not sweat it. “Just give the same presentation you gave in Rockford,” Bill told me. “Don’t change a thing.”

Well, in fact, I rewrote the entire presentation. More than once, in fact. But somehow, I didn’t screw it up too badly. Although I went to Minneapolis feeling like such an outsider, Bill saw to it that I was invited to just the right dinner parties and that I was introduced to just the right people at the various receptions.

I often tell young people that I’m only trying to pass long kindness that was shown to me over the years. It’s people like Bill to whom I’m referring.

Bill: Get well soon, man. Get well soon.

A fun read. A great keepsake. And a very worthy cause…

While visiting family in Florida last March, legendary publication designer Robert Newman suffered a seizure, severe head trauma and then a brain hemorrhage. He was in a coma for weeks before he was able to breathe on his own.


As soon as he could be moved safely, he was sent back to New York City, where he’s continued to recover. You may recall his friends held a fundraiser for him because, as a freelancer and consultant, Bob has no health insurance these days.

Bob wrote us over the weekend:

My recovery is going well. There have been setbacks, but it’s probably a miracle that I’m even walking around. I’ve got months and months of physical and swallow therapy ahead of me, and my days are still filled with doctors and tests.

The good news is that the thinking part of my brain is OK (or as OK as it ever was), and my hands and eyes are as sharp as they were pre-accident. On other fronts, I feel like my body and its parts aged about 15-20 years overnight, and that’s what I’m struggling with right now.

Some parts are definitely broken and most likely will never return to normal, but overall the outlook is bright, and I’ve recovered enough to dive into reading and watching movies and spending as much time as I can with my two young daughters (who manage to wear me out very quickly). I’m walking madly all over the Upper West Side, building back strength and endurance.

There’s no prognosis on when (or if) I’ll be able to return to work, and I’m avoiding jumping back into my online life for at least another month.

Which, of course, brings up the next point: The medical bills continue to pile up.

Robert’s pals Jeremy Leslie of and Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post have teamed up to publish a 64-page benefit publication called My Favo(u)rite Magazine.


Eighty-eight designers, editors and photo editors from magazine and newspapers around the world, contributed to My Favo(u)rite Magazine. As AdWeek explains, the project is…

…a “love letter to print”—is a collection of essays in which creative directors from titles like Wired, Elle and Fast Company (and digital companies like Pentagram and AOL) reveal their all-time favorite magazine issues, plus an addition by Newman himself.


The highlighted titles range from mainstream (there’s the iconic Harper’s Bazaar cover featuring Jean Shrimpton shot by Richard Avedon) to indie (Craphound, Hard Werken and The Germans — not quite household names).


Robert tells us:

The printing was donated, some folks contributed generous advertising, and there’s no overhead, so all the proceeds are going directly to help pay those nasty bills.

It’s a great project, with very inspiring content, something worth saving and savouring.

A print version of the magazine is available for ₤15.99 ($24.98 USD), plus ₤6.00 ($9.37 USD) shipping. A PDF can be had for ₤12.99 ($20.30 USD) — with no shipping charge, obviously.

PalPal is accepted. (Those currency conversions were as of Sunday evening PDT.)

Go here to order a copy.

Read more about this project — and see more sample pages — at:

Find my earlier post about Robert here.

Find the Friends of Robert Newman Facebook page here.

Virginian-Pilot editor has a friend in Randy Newman

Longtime Virginian-Pilot editor and grammar columnist Bernadette Kinlaw got to meet one of her heroes, Randy Newman, after a concert last week in New Jersey.


Bernadette (above, right) and her sister (left) gave Newman a box of homemade cookies and then learned something interesting about him. She writes:

I confessed to Newman that I sometimes mention his songs or his name in my grammar column, and he started to tell me his late father’s grammatical pet peeves.

…His dad, Irving George Newman, hated when people would say “the reason why.’’

The phrase is considered redundant, but it has been in use since the 13th century. Grammarians recommend that people say “the reason that” or “because.”

Wrong: One reason why I love Randy Newman is his lyrics.

Right: One reason I love Randy Newman is his lyrics.

Newman’s imitation of his father’s carping voice was hilarious. I could hear the disdain that the father felt.

Find Bernadette’s entire column here. Find all of Bernadette’s grammar columns here and her Twitter feed here.

Visual journalist Bryan DeVasher isn’t the man he used to be

And that’s a good thing.

Bryan — a longtime copy desk staffer and designer  and currently a multimedia producer for the Times-Dispatch of Richmond, Va. — was up to nearly 500 lbs.

Or, as he likes to say: A quarter ton.


But then, 15 months ago. Bryan underwent bariatric surgery, in which 75 percent of his stomach was removed. As opposed to lap-band surgery like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had recently.

Now, Bryan is down to 310 lbs. and a number of chronic health issues have dissipated, he wrote in a first-person story in Sunday’s Times-Dispatch:

The best part of my new life has been throwing off the shackles of my old one.

At my previous size, it was difficult to fit into most cars and I couldn’t buckle the seat belt unless I used an extender. Now my height poses more problems than my weight. I can comfortably buckle up and have plenty of seat belt to spare.

Seats at concerts and sporting events used to be a problem. I would squeeze my girth into the seat and be miserable as the arms of my chair would poke into the rolls of fat on my sides. That doesn’t happen anymore.

Bryan tells us the story…

…was the cover of Sunday’s Flair section in the print TD. I also put together the video that accompanied it.

I had decided to have the surgery about two years ago because my weight had gotten totally out of control. Dieting and exercise weren’t working, so I decided to explore medical options.

I had to jump through a year of hoops before the surgery. While my insurance paid most of the tab, I first had to undergo six months of counseling with a nutritionist and also was required to meet with a psychologist. Once those criteria were met it took another few months to get final approval.

On Feb, 28, 2012, I underwent surgery at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News.

Pauline Clay, one of our feature editors, knew that I has the surgery, and she suggested that it would make a good Sunday read.

So after some initial reluctance on my part — I always hate writing about myself — I agreed to do the story.

I drew a lot of inspiration for my story from Nicole Bogdas‘ story on her struggle with bi-polar disorder. There was a lot more at work than just wanting to be thinner, and I wanted to lay it all out there for others who might be considering weight-loss surgery.

I’m glad the story spoke to you. Judging by my Facebook comments and emails, it seems to have so to a lot of folks.

Here’s another excpert, because I know you’re curious:

The biggest adjustment after surgery is discovering how much food your new stomach can handle. Mine can hold about 4 ounces, which is roughly a half-cup. That’s not much. If I overdo it, up it comes.

I’m now on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet similar to the Atkins plan. I avoid breads, rice and pasta, mainly because they swell in the stomach and can make eating uncomfortable.

I cannot drink liquids during meals because there’s just not enough room. Generally, I drink something about a half-hour before a meal to cleanse my stomach, then drink something again about 30 minutes after eating.

I also must take vitamins and supplements every day to make sure I get the proper amounts of vitamin D and calcium.

Find the story here.


Very soon now, Bryan will be half the man he used

to be. Less than half, actually: His goal is 230 lbs.

Photos by Joe Mahoney of the Times-Dispatch.

A 1986 graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Bryan spent a year as a copy editor for the News-Democrat of Bellevile, Ill. and then three years as the same for the Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind. He was promoted to assistant features editor in 1992 but then left two years later to become a copy editor and designer for the Daily Press of Newport News, Va. He worked there 13 years, most of that as the primary A1 designer. In 2007, Bryan leaped to the Richmond paper as presentation desk editor. He slid over to the multimedia team in 2009. He also teaches as an adjunct at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Find his blog here, his Tumblr blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Let’s help a friend of publication designers everywhere

Do you know Robert Newman?

You should. He’s downright legendary as a publication designer.


A 1974 graduate of the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, Robert spent more than 26 years in visual leadership positions of a number of publications: Guitar World, the Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, New York, Details, Vibe, Inside, Real Simple and Fortune.

A few samples of his art direction over the years…





Find more at his web site.

Robert spent four years as a consultant, working with clients such as AARP magazine, JCK magazine and TV Guide. He got into iPad design, helped set up an iPad app for Reader’s Digest and then was hired as that magazine’s creative director. He worked there for a year before going back into consulting last summer.

In addition, Robert is a member of the board of the Society of Publication Designers. Perhaps you saw Robert’s presentation at SND/Denver in 2010. He also attended SND/St.Louis in 2011, which is where I finally met him face-to-face for the first time.

And what a swell guy he is. He’s been a strong supporter of my work here in the blog and has a knack for knowing when to send a little encouraging note my way. From what I’ve heard over the years, Robert has done the same for lots of folks out there in the publication design world.

So, why do I mention him today? Because Robert took a spill this spring.

In late March, Robert was visiting family in Florida when he suffered a seizure and then severe head trauma in what, I presume, was a fall during that seizure. He was rushed to a hospital but then suffered a brain hemorrhage. He was in a coma for weeks. He’s off the respirator, conscious and he’s been moved back home to New York, his friends write:

Bob is working hard to bring himself back to his strong self and will have to work on this for several months. His speech is improving and he is receiving a lot of physical therapy.

…Bob and his family are facing a major financial crisis due to his injury. As a freelance consultant, Bob has no salary. So he has no current income, and will have no way of working for many months. To add to the financial headaches, Bob’s most recent employer, Reader’s Digest, went bankrupt, suspending his expected severance pay. Meanwhile, the family’s bills are mounting daily.

You see where this is going, right?

His friends set up a page to take donations via credit card or PayPal. Here’s what the tote board looked like just after 8 a.m. today here on the West Coast:


Let’s help the man out. Find the Friends of Bob Newman donation page here. And make a donation, please.

Find the Friends of Robert Newman Facebook page here. “Like” that page, please, and pass along the link to your own Facebook friends.

Thanks much.

An off-topic question from a young journalist

While you’re doing favors for me today, how about answering a question for a young female journalist?


Rachel Schallom of the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., asks:

Working women — especially working mothers — have been all the rage on the blog scene lately.

This has prompted some great conversations among female journalists. Some young female journalists and I were discussing this post on women changing their last name when getting married.

One of the arguments to keep the maiden name has been maintaining a byline that readers are used to, which got me thinking: Do any newspapers run something cute when a reporter gets married along the lines of, “Notice something different? She got married!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that, so I’d think not. But admittedly, I come from this from a 51-year-old male perspective. Meaning I’m oblivious.

Any thoughts? Comments? Experiences to share? Megan Lavey-Heaton, I suspect you have an opinion on this, right?

Also: Rachel wrote back a short time later and asked me to edit in a note that makes it clear that she is not engaged. She’s just curious.

I’m too lazy to do that, so I’ll just add that here.

The reason I follow tornado stories — and weather reports — so closely

From time to time, folks ask me: What is this strange fascination you seem to have with tornado coverage?

Sure enough, I post a lot of tornado pages here in the blog.

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110417SanfordHeraldFront.jpg 110428TornadoBirminghamAla 110428TornadoTuscaloosaAla


110430TornadoALAhuntsville 110523TornadoJoplinMo01

And I‘ve even been known to get involved directly with some of these stories.


I’ve written from time to time — by way of an apology — that one day, I’d have to tell you why these storms fascinate me so.

Today is that day. Because my interest in — and my considerable fear of — tornadoes started exactly 40 years ago today, when my house in Abbeville, S.C. was hit by a tornado.

My mother’s prized red Dodge Charger was flipped upside down…


…and our roof was ripped off.


The color pictures you’ll see here today are my own snapshots from a week or so after the tornado. That black-and-white pic is a screencap from a video shot the day after.

In fact, we were not at home at the time. I was staying the night with my grandmother, a half-hour or so up the road in Anderson. I was nearly 11 years old. My parents, my nine-year-old sister and my brother — who was just over three months old — were visiting friends in McCormick, a half-hour or so in the other direction.


Here, workmen are putting a new roof on the house. The room directly beneath where the roof was ripped away was where my sister and brother slept.


The tornado struck just before 10 p.m. Saturday night, March 31. Most likely, we would all have been downstairs in the den, watching the Bob Newhart Show. But Artie would have been in his crib. And, most likely, he would have been injured badly. Or worse.


In all, 165 homes were damaged or destroyed that night. Seven people lost their lives, including one child in our neighborhood, the 16-year-old son of the editor of Abbeville’s weekly newspaper, the Press and Banner, and five residents at a motel in nearby Calhoun Falls.

Here’s a map from the National Weather Service showing the path the tornado took on the ground.


I lived in nearly the center of that black stripe, near where it reaches its thickest point. Interestingly, that map was generated by the University of Chicago’s Ted Fujita, who also created the F-scale by which all tornadoes are now measured.

Fujita estimated the Abbeville tornado was an F4 or F5 and that the path measured 24 miles long and stretched from 0.2 to 0.5 miles wide. Click that map for a larger view.

My mom’s prized Charger was a total loss. What you can’t see here: My mom has been known to have a wicked sense of humor at times. The day after the tornado — after noticing the heavy traffic of gawkers driving through the neighborhood — she pulled out a piece of poster board, made a big sign that said “house and car for sale, as is,” and taped it to the side of the car.


That sign received a closeup on the NBC Nightly News. I sure wish I had a picture of it.

Oh, and see that little brown trailer? That was a popup camper. Despite the tornado tossing it around and blowing out its tires, we still managed to take that all the way to California and back the next summer.

These were our next-door neighbors to southwest of us. They lost their carport, but their large trailer/camper was only slightly damaged.


Directly across the street from them was this tri-level house. One woman — six months pregnant — was trapped in that front bedroom. She had to be rescued.


Here’s a closer look at that same house, from the video. Note the mattress barely clinging to what’s left of the bedroom floor.


Back on our side of the street and just two houses up from us was this one. The tornado picked it up, split it in half, and then dropped it. Minus the roof.


Here’s that one the next day. The owners were in the process of salvaging what they could from it.


The next house up from them was intact. But offset from its foundation by a good 10 or 12 feet.


There wasn’t much damage on up the hill or around the circle. But at the top of the hill on the other side of the circle, the damage was quite bad. This neighbor lost his roof.


There’s nothing left to this house at all but the front steps and porch and one tiny corner. You can see the pieces of what’s left jumbled in the back yard.


Here’s a better look at that jumble, from the video.


This was another one in which a pregnant woman was at home, by herself, when the storm struck. That’s her, with the light-colored hair in the far background.


She clung to the carpet as the house flew apart around her, she says.

Here’s a house that was only slightly more lucky. Looks like one room was left standing.


Notice how slanted the yards are in all those pictures. Our little neighborhood of MacKenzie Acres was built in a big circle along the side of a steep hill.

What you’re not seeing in my snapshots are the power lines that were down in our neighborhood. Again, from the video that was shot the next day:


My dad tells stories about passing through National Guard checkpoints the next day but then having to step over live power lines.


You can see the hill pretty well there.

The tornado stepped on a number of homes at the top of the hill and just pushed them all the way down. I didn’t shoot a picture of this field of cinder blocks spread down a hill, but here is a frame grab from the video.


The reason I couldn’t bring myself to shoot a picture of this: A child died here.


If memory serves, the mom and dad had gone to a dinner party that night, leaving the kids — ages seven and five — with a baby sitter. When the tornado hit, the sitter grabbed both of the children.

As the house disintegrated, the sitter managed to hang onto the five-year-old boy. But she lost her grip on the seven-year-old girl.

The sitter and the boy were seriously injured but lived. The girl was killed.

It might sound silly to you, but having this stuff happen in your own neighborhood — to kids just a few houses up the street from you — can really mess with the head of a ten-year-old. And his nine-year-old sister.

These were a couple of houses at the bottom of the hill. We’re now coming back around to our house now on Hodges Street.


This house lost most of its roof. This was two doors down from us.


I mentioned earlier a motel in Calhoun Falls, just to the west of Abbeville. The tornado picked up the motel and tossed it aside, not unlike Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.


Except in the movie, Dorothy’s house stays intact and she survives a trip to Oz. In real life, not so much of either. The official Weather Service report on the storm says that five died there.

It took about a month to get our house livable again. In the meantime, we lived in a small hotel on the edge of town.


The small structure in the background is Yoder’s, a Mennonite restaurant. We hardly ever ate there, because the food was too good for us. If it didn’t include french fries, neither my sister nor I would want to have anything to do with it.

Here’s the picture I led off with. You can see our little slice of the big hill, behind our house. When we moved there, that hill was heavily wooded. As you can see, the tornado took down most of the trees.


After the debris was cleared, the stumps were pulled and the hill was sodded and seeded, this was what our back yard looked like.


And Google Maps shows us that many of the trees have grown back in the 40 years since.


Just so you can get your bearings, here is that map again, with the Apple home highlighted.


My little walking tour went around that circle counter-clockwise.

I showed you a number of screen caps from a black-and-white film that was made right after the tornado. The day after, the filmmaker, Joe Cheek, says. That film is available in two parts on YouTube.

On part one, listen for the state patrolman who describes how he shoved his wife and kids into a closet just as the storm ripped the roof off of his house. It’s a chilling story. Until he describes the noise as “a masonic boom.”

Here’s part two, in which they go into MacKenzie Acres. They show my house only briefly, at about the 5:20 mark.

So all this happened Saturday night, March 31, 1973.

I watched my TV shows at my grandmother’s house and went to bed. My parents, sister and brother noticed the strength of the thunderstorm as it passed over McCormick but didn’t think much of it until they arrived at home after the tornado had hit.

Police had blocked the roads. My dad asked for permission to pick his way through the downed power lines to retrieve supplies for the baby. What he saw shook him up.

They called us in the middle of the night to explain what had happened. I didn’t make it back home for another day or two. My first clue of how bad we had been hit was spotting my mom’s handmade sign on the side of her upside-down car on the national news.

But every time clouds grow thick and tornado watches are posted, I get nervous. Even now, 40 years later. To this day, I consider a tornado one of the most frightening things in the world.

This year, the weather folks are telling us, has been one of the quietest years ever for tornadoes.

Great. Let’s keep it that way.

The Great Apple Transcontinental Migration, part two

Some of you have been following along via social media during my drive from Virginia Beach to Southern California.

For those of you who haven’t and would like to read a good soap opera: Find Part One — which covered Friday, Saturday and Sunday — here.

When we ended that installment, Sharon and I were holed up in a Hampton Inn in Abilene, Texas, with a giant windstorm bearing down on the area…



MILE 1,603, Abilene, Texas

6:33 a.m. CST


We got up as early as we could, ate breakfast, loaded up the rig and hit the road. The idea: Get as far as we could west, knowing that we were headed directly into the southern tip of the same storm that was dumping a lot of snow and tropical storm-force gusts in north Texas and Oklahoma.

MILE 1,611: Abilene, Texas

6:52 a.m. CST


…and stop calling me Shirley.

MILE 1,655: Sweetwater, Texas

7:45 a.m. CST


The day started out nice and sunny. And breezy. Clearly, this large wind farm not far west of Abilene didn’t mind the huffing and puffing.


MILE 1,718: Big Spring, Texas

8:47 a.m. CST


But we didn’t get very far before the storm caught up to us. The wind was incredibly strong and incredibly cold, making it increasingly difficult for Sharon to keep our big Penske truck and trailer on the road.

Eventually, our luck ran out. A strong bit of the storm lay directly in front of us.


We saw quite a bit of snow, but with winds gusting to 45 and 50 mph, there was no chance of anything accumulating on the roads. Just keeping the truck on the road was the problem.

MILE 1,736: Lamesa, Texas

9:43 a.m. CST


Dust was everywhere. At times, visibility was affected. Eventually, it all became too much for my wife. By the time we reached Odessa, she called for a time out.

MILE 1,776: Odessa, Texas

10:20 a.m. CST


So we parked our rig, sat down in a McDonald’s at a Love’s truck plaza and bought a couple of hours of wifi time.

For what it’s worth, Odessa is where the original documentary movie Friday Nights Lights was based. The TV series by the same name was about a fictional town with a fictional name. But that was basically a sequel to the movie, filmed here.

After an hour or so, we were both itching to get back on the road. I dug up some wind speed forecasts and plotted them for towns along our path on I-20 to give us an idea when we might expect to drive out from under it all.


It didn’t look good. When I plotted it out, it became clear that a) we were in the thick of it, and b) Winds wouldn’t drop down below 30 mph until late afternoon. Winds wouldn’t drop below 20 mph until well after sunset.

Rested a bit and with lunch in her, Sharon decided she was ready to give it another shot.

MILE 1,800: Just west of Odessa

Just after noon CST


Keeping the truck straight in all the wind was about all Sharon could handle. The winds subsided as we traveled westward. But soon, she was ready for another rest.

MILE 1,850: Pecos, Texas

1:15 p.m. CST




So at a gas station in Pecos, Texas, we cleaned the crap off the truck as best we could and we switched drivers. For the first time since we left Virginia Beach, I took a turn behind the wheel.


Several folks asked me why I was making Sharon drive nearly the whole way to California. The simple answer: I can navigate, find hotel rooms and tweet our entire journey via my iPhone. But Sharon can’t read a printed page or a computer screen in a moving car: It makes her carsick. Which means she gets terribly bored as a passenger.

Therefore, she drives and I’m the navigator and social media publicity manager. We made a great team this week.

MILE 1,894: Junction of I-20 and I-10

2 p.m. CST


We had been following I-20 since Fort Worth. In Early afternoon, I-20 ended and we merged onto I-10, which would take us the rest of the way into Southern California.

MILE 1,940: Van Horn, Texas

3 p.m. CST


We made a quick refueling break in tiny Van Horn, Texas. My mother spent a couple of years here as postmaster.

I was awfully tempted to stop and buy a book of Forever stamps. But we pressed on.

MILE 2,000: A half-hour short of El Paso

4 p.m. CST


In late afternoon, we hit another major milestone: The 2,000th mile of our trip.

As we posted these pictures via Twitter and Facebook, a few of my friends back in the South remarked about how similar they looked. Yes, indeed. Once you pass Fort Worth, the terrain can look awfully similar — along our route, at least — until the very end of our trip. Lots of desert, lots of sky, lots of scrubby bushes and lots of mountains in the distance.

MILE 2,055: El Paso, Texas

5 p.m. CST


After 200 miles behind the wheel, I pulled over for dinner in El Paso. Sharon chose a nice parking space for our rig. You can’t see that sign to the left, above, but that’s a “gentlemen’s club.”

Our dinner choice was Texas’ famous Whataburger chain.


I’ve had Whataburger before and I love them. But I wanted Sharon to try one.


Despite the look on her face there, she says she liked it quite a bit.

At dinner, we talked about where we wanted to spend the night. If we wanted to get to Southern California before too late Tuesday, we really needed to put a few more miles behind us. So we decided to press on into the night and aim for Tucson. I made online reservations at a Days Inn in downtown Tucson and we resumed our journey into the night.

MILE 2,184: Rest stop near Deming, N.M.

8:15 p.m. MST


Let me tell you, my friends, New Mexico is very empty and very lonely at night.

As soon as we crossed the state line, we noticed the strong smell of cow patties. Not the greatest of impressions on my wife.

In fact, we crossed the entire state in the dark. Which is a shame, because I’ve been to New Mexico. I know how beautiful it can be.

MILE 2,220: Lordsburg, N.M.

8:55 p.m. MST


This was our last refueling stop of the night. Sharon had misplaced one of her shoes in the cab of the truck and was standing on one foot here.

MILE 2,378: Tucson

11:15 p.m. MST

We arrived at our hotel very late and very tired, only to find we had moved into a complete dump of a place. The room smelled bad and was in dire need of maintenance.

We just shrugged, climbed into bed and fell asleep. What else could we do?



We were so exhausted that I decided to let us sleep in a little later yesterday. It was nearly 9:45 a.m. before were packed and ready to go.

But not before Sharon gave one final salute to the folks at Day’s Inn.


We didn’t bother to get up at the crack of dawn because the crack was already supplied by the hotel… in the form of the giant ass on this inflatable promotion.


Apparently, gemstones are big in these parts. Big enough to attract the attention of 15-foot-tall, four-armed women.


We loaded up the rig…


…and went next door to Carl’s Jr., a restaurant chain that is a corporate sister of the Hardee’s we have in the South. We had been told that Carl’s Jr. didn’t serve Hardee’s style breakfast biscuits, but, in fact, they’ve started.


As we enjoyed our biscuits at 9 a.m., we realized the day was in danger of getting away from us. But we also knew we had only 500 miles — and some change — to go. The idea was to get to our hotel — in Yorba Linda, Calif. — before sundown. That should be doable, especially we expected no mechanical failures and no freak windstorms to slow us down.

We took a moment to shoot portraits of each other.


Because that’s what you do in a Carl’s Jr., right? Shoot pictures of each other?


It was close to 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time before we were on our way.

MILE 2,400: Just west of Tucson

9:50 a.m. MST


The area of Tucson along I-10 west of town is nothing to brag about. I’m sure Tucson is nice. But you’d have to venture away from the interstate in order to prove it.

And then, once you get out of town, you go back to seeing the same type of stuff you saw in West Texas: Sand. Shrubs. Not much else.

MILE 2,414: Pichaco Peak, Ariz.

10 a.m. MST


This, in fact, was one of the most memorable sights along the road from Tucson to Phoenix.

MILE 2,489: Phoenix, Ariz.

11:20 a.m. MST


Phoenix itself was massive. Much larger than I had expected.

We had 345 miles to go.

MILE 2,500: Glendale, Ariz.

11:30 a.m. MST


Back home in Virginia, exterminators advertise their services using pictures of roaches, ants and mice. In Arizona, they advertise with huge drawings of scorpions.

MILE 2,618: Quartzsite, Ariz.

1:30 p.m. MST


By lunchtime, we were truly in the middle of nowhere, Arizona. Rest stops and refueling joints became further and further between. And my trusty 3G service began crapping out.

So when we came to a town called Quartzsite, Ariz., we decided we’d better eat while we could. We had Subway.

However, I was struck by the town itself, which — except for a couple of truck stops and restaurants — seemed made entirely of campers, trailers and RVs.


Sure enough, it turns out that Quartzsite is where thousands of gem traders and dealers gather in the months of January and February to sell and trade their wares.


So what looked like a “tent city” essentially was a “tent city.” Go figure.

Shortly after, we finally made it to the…

MILE 2,636: California state line

2:30 p.m. MST


There was a lengthy line for trucks to be inspected. The little guy asked us of we had any fruit, pets or houseplants aboard. No, no and no. So he sent us on our way.

We had just under 200 miles to go.

MILE 2,707: Joshua Tree National Park

2:32 p.m. PST


Again, we drove for hours with the scenery constantly changing. But never really becoming different. We were surrounded by desert and mountains in the distance. In the case of the photo above, however, those mountains are part of the Joshua Tree National Monument.

A nearby fueling stop included an additional attraction: A museum devoted to Gen. George S. Patton, who was originally from near here.


Wow. I’m going to have to go back over there one day and check that out.

MILE 2,729: Coachella, Calif.

3:20 p.m. PST


After staring at a gorgeous — but nearly unchanging — scene for about a day-and-a-half, we finally were treated to a change of pace when we followed I-10 over a ridge and came face-to-face with a smoky row of mountains. Southern California features several rows of mountains and I’m looking forward to learning the names of these mountains.

The little town just before that mountain, however, is Coachella. Just past that is Indio, Palm Desert and then Palm Springs.

We were now down to less than 100 miles left.

MILE 2,750: Palm Springs, Calif.

3:44 p.m. PST


“Is that snow on top of that mountain?,” Sharon asked me. “Or is that a trick of the light?”

That’s snow. And at the foot of that mountain is Palm Springs.

What I didn’t know about Palm Springs is that it’s home to an enormous array of windmills.


This wind farm put to shame the one I had photographed the day before in Texas.


There are more than 3,000 of them, I’m told. An amazing sight.


But this was to be the first of many amazing sights. In a very brief amount of time.

MILE 2,790: Moreno Hills, Calif.

4:17 p.m. PST


As we drove over the next ridge, I noticed the scenery was completely different from what we had been subjected to over the past several hours. These hills were rounded and covered in grass. And they went on and on.



And they were beautiful. Because we were heading into the afternoon sun, I had a very poor angle with which to shoot. So these iPhone pictures really don’t do the hills justice.

These were quite unlike anything I had seen in England or South Africa.

MILE 2,809: Riverside, Calif.

4:39 p.m. PST


On the other side of the hills lay Riverside. I’m a little familiar with Riverside — it’s one of the cities in which I’ve been online shopping for apartments.

It, too, looked very nice. At least from the freeway.

However, Sharon found it hard to drive directly into the setting sun. So she borrowed my hat.


We were now less than 25 miles from our hotel.

MILE 2,803: Corona, Calif.

5 p.m. PST


West of Riverside is Corona, Calif. And I’ve named it as one of my target areas. You can see the heavy traffic crawling away from the metro area. Naturally, we were headed into town. We ran into backups only once or twice.

Presently, we circled this large mountain…


and emerged on the other side just in time for our exit. Because we had reached the end of our journey.

MILE 2,835: Yorba Linda, Calif.

4:15 p.m.


The Extended Stay America hotel in Yorba Linda.

Sharon was nearly giddy that her ordeal was over.


Our room is huge, with a king-sized bed…


…as well as a small kitchen area.


Once we unloaded our suitcases, the next task was to unload the Deerslayer from the trailer on which it had traveled across the continent.


My PT Cruiser nailed the dismount.

So we cleaned up and went out for a fast dinner. Much to my amusement, I got the perfect fortune.


A day like Tuesday just couldn’t end any better, could it?


The plan for the rest of this week: We’re going apartment hunting. With luck, we’ll find me something suitable and get me moved in.

I start work at the Orange County Register on Monday. Sharon flies back to Virginia Beach on Tuesday.

I need to dump a lot of my stuff

Speaking of old newspapers and tearsheets…

I have a problem on the horizon but approaching rapidly: I need to downsize the massive amount of stuff I own.

I might be relocating soon. It’s become clear that I will no longer have the fairly large amount of storage space that I now enjoy. This means I will need to get rid of an awful lot of stuff.

Q: Why are you relocating? Have you finally found a job?

A: Perhaps. Perhaps not. If the need for an announcement becomes necessary, you’ll see it posted here in the blog. Even if we don’t move now, however, we will need to one day. No matter what, I expect it’ll be to a smaller place. So downsizing my stuff is a smart thing to do.

Q: What kind of stuff are we talking about?

A: Most of it will fall into three categories:

  • a) Tearsheets and newspapers
  • b) Books
  • c) Action figures

This video should explain much of the issue.

Now: Let’s take those in order, shall we?



I have a garage full of tearsheets that I’ve collected over the past quarter-century. Many of these are sorted into file folders labeled something like: “Timelines” or “Maps” or “Features” or “Illustrations.” I kept a lot of these files at work. When I’d assign a timeline to an intern, I might hand her the folder. Inside, she might find 20 or 30 great examples of timelines in various styles by various papers around the country.

I’m guessing that maybe two-thirds of my tearsheet collection is categorized in this way. I’m guessing that a third of it is not — basically, in boxes that should be labeled “to be sorted.”

Q: What do you mean, “guessing”? You’re not sure?

A: No, I’m not. Because there are so damned many boxes of this stuff. Earlier, I was estimating about 15 to 20 boxes of newspapers. But the real count might be greater.

I shot these in my garage this weekend. This is a stack, two-deep, that sits atop a row of filing cabinets. There are 22 boxes in all here.


When I pivoted to my left, I shot this stack of boxes up against the side wall. There are 15 boxes in sight with more behind them.


Not all of this second batch are tearsheets, however. Some are actually files that I need to keep or throw away. In order to be sure, I need to pull these boxes out and go through them.

But a few of this second stack are tearsheets, however, and are labeled as such.


That one is a box I bought at a local office supply store. The “VP” on the side tells me these were papers I indeed kept during my years at the Virginian-Pilot. I always thought I’d get another management job at another paper, so I kept the files.

I’m guessing there are between 25 and 30 boxes of tearsheets in total.

Q: So why are you telling us this?

A: Because I think these files are a valuable resource — especially to someone who’s still learning visual journalism. Or, perhaps, in the business of teaching visual journalism. Somewhere out there is a journalism school or a newspaper that could make use of these files. If that’s the case, then it seems a shame to send them all to the recycling bin.

Q: If they’re so damned valuable, then why don’t you keep them?

A: I’d like to, believe me. But I won’t have room for them. And I won’t have time to sort them any further. Like an astronaut trapped by the Theory of Relativity, I’m out of space and time.

Therefore: If you’re possibly interested, please contact me. There’s way too many boxes — and they’re far too heavy — to ship long-distance. So don’t bother unless you have the resources to send someone over with a truck.

If money were no object, I’d hire a team of interns to go through every box, shoot high-resolution pictures of each worthy page and then create a resource where educators and visual journalists could download PDF images. But that ain’t gonna happen.

So help spread the news around, if you will.



The very first thing to go will be my collection of National Geographic magazines. I have nearly every issue between 1969 to 2008. Seriously.


I love my Geographics and, from time to time, I go in search of a specific article or two. But, as you can see, they take up a lot of space. So out they’ll go.

Q: Wow. You can’t sell those on eBay?

A: There’s a pretty good secondary market out there for National Geographics, in fact. So perhaps I can. Obviously, I’ve not yet tried.

And then there are the rest of my books. We’ve never been formal living room kind of people. so when we moved into our place in Virginia Beach, we converted the living room into a library.


You see the National Geographics on that back wall. The unit on the far right in that picture contains books about cartooning, cartoonists and collections of cartoons by both strip and editorial artists. I spent several years as an editorial cartoonist, but those days are long gone. I really hate to, but I might have to let that entire collection go.

The unit in the middle is mostly graphic novels: Softcover and hardcover collections of comic books. I’m guessing that I can part with about half of those. Maybe.

Along the left wall is an even larger set of shelves.


On the left are books about newspapers and journalism, including an entire row of journalism biographies. I intend to keep those.

The second set from the left holds political science books and political biographies. The third shelf holds history books, including a shelf-and-a-half of Civil War history. The set of shelves on the far right holds books about NASA and space history, including an entire row of astronaut and space program biographies.

Along the bottom of some of those units are books about science, engineering, travel and geography.

Getting rid of these books would be like pulling my fingernails out. But a space crunch is a space crunch. I need to be open to selling or giving away any of this.

Q: Why is there a cage in front of the bottom rows of each unit?

A: Sharon has a pet rabbit. Rabbits like to nibble, especially on paper goods. After a few near-disasters, Sharon put up these little shields to keep her out of the books.

Q: Yikes! That’s not good.

A: Don’t get me started.

Against the front all of my library is a short stack of shelves that contains humor — my entire collection of Dave Barry books, for example — plus reference and fiction. Up against the far wall, here, is a huge shelf of sports books.


That includes an entire shelf of Green Bay Packers books and a half-shelf of Clemson books. I’d like to keep those. Everything else might have to go, including a large set of Street & Smith’s and Sports Illustrated football yearbooks going back to the 1980s.

One set I will not let go: My small collection of books autographed by the authors or illustrators.


Those are most definitely keepers.

We hardly ever get visitors here at the House of Apple, so we converted our guest bedroom into a bit of a junk room. We refer to it as “the upstairs library,” however, during winter, it really is more of a place for Sharon to store her house plants.

This double unit holds my collection of Star Trek books.


I’ll keep all those, except for the large collection of Star Trek magazines at the bottom right (partially hidden by some of Sharon’s junk). I suspect I can find a home for those.

The unit on the left here holds overrun from downstairs. The top shelf is nothing but books from Africa — mostly South Africa. I’d prefer to hang on to those. Although clearly, I bought way too many books in my trips there.


The top shelf of the unit at right is my reference section. Below that are my books on graphic design, visual journalism, infographics and nearly one-and-a-half shelves of books and magazines from the Society for News Design.

I’m planning to keep all that, if I can.

Q: OK, so you’re thinking of getting rid of two-thirds of your books. How do you plan to do that?

A: I’ll probably put them on eBay. Unless someone steps forward and would like to look over what I have here. I can draw up a detailed list, if necessary.

Q: Aren’t you going to miss your books?

A: Absolutely. Sigh…



Wow. Talk about painful.

I’ve collected hundreds and hundreds of action figures over the years — mostly Star Trek and super-heroes — that I’ll no longer have room for.

In fact, most of my figures have been in storage since 2006, when a proposed move fell through. That’s one of the reasons I feel like it might be time to get rid of these. I’ve missed my collection a good bit. But if something’s been in deep storage for six years, that’s a sign that you might possibly can get by without it.

But I have tons of Star Trek and superhero action figures that I’ll need to get rid of. What makes this even harder: I don’t have pictures of most of my collection. A guest once shot these pictures of some of my Trek figures when we lived in Iowa. That would have been ten years ago.


This maybe a half to a third of what I have, total. You get the idea, right?

Q: Oh, my God. You’re insane.

A: I know. Tell me about it.

Q: Aren’t these worth something?

A: Collectible toys aren’t worth anything if they’re opened and out of their packages. And I never expected to get rid of my collection, so I opened them.

Q: You don’t even have pictures of most of your stuff?

A: I do not. All I have is that one, a picture of some of the figures I used to have in my office at the Virginian-Pilot


I’d like to hang on to the largest ones. But the smaller ones might all have to go. Sigh.

Q: What are you NOT getting rid of?

A: I hope to hang on to most of what I have currently displayed in my office, which are my favorite pieces. Those would include the figures currently perched on the shelves over the futon…


A handful of my Star Trek collection…


…my collection of 11-inch-tall figures — like, for instance, Bill Clinton, who’s found some cheerleaders to party with…


…these super-hero and Star Trek Barbie dolls…


…and maybe even this set of 1960s-style cartoon Beatles.


I’d prefer to keep those. But I’m not sure how much room I might have in the future. I really need to get rid of everything I can.

So you see the magnitude of my task, right? It’s simply time to reduce some bulk.

Any ideas? Suggestions? Let me know.

For her offensive language, interactive designer wants to help Ann Coulter “climb Mount Retard”

Celebrity pundit Ann Coulter is at it again, referring to President Barack Obama as a “retard” and to his supporters as “retarded.”

And special-needs advocates are fighting back. Including former Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel artist Daniel Niblock, the parent of a Down Syndrome son. After he made an impassioned plea for her to knock it off with using that offensive term — and was given a platform by NBC News and the Today show — Coulter did it again during the debate Monday night. Twice.

Counter is “offended” that Obama makes what she says is a cancer reference. But she doesn’t mind making fun of special needs people.

So Dan is taking another swing at the problem, but from a new angle. He writes tonight in his blog:

I’m not going to fight that fight. In fact, I hereby withdraw my request for an apology, because I no longer want one from her. Instead, I’ve decided to link arms with dear Ann Coulter and help bring her the notoriety she craves.

Yes, the woman who has proudly left her footprints across mountains of people – people who don’t share her political or religious views, skin color, sexual orientation or financial means – has ascended a new peak. I’m honored to help plant her bright red flag on the summit of Mount Retard.

And Daniel — doing what he does best — adds this illustration:

Daniel continues:

I want Ann’s name to forever be linked to the taunting of special needs children. May all those who look upon her face be reminded of the bully at the bus stop. The dismissive cashier. The group of kids who point and laugh and stare. From this day forth, let the “Ann Coulter” brand be synonymous with the shameful and callous treatment of those whose voices are too often ignored.

Thank you, Ann Coulter, for lending your face to the cause. A more appropriate symbol for cruelty I can’t imagine.

Find Daniel’s blog post here.

Go here to find more coverage of this tonight from NBC.

See my earlier post about this here.

A 1996 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Dan spent eight years as a graphics reporter for the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before leaving newspapers to work for his Sun-Sentinel colleagues Don Wittekind and Scott Horner at Swarm Interactive of Chapel Hill, N.C., which produces medical-oriented illustrations, graphics and whatnot.

In addition, Daniel created a news site and an advocacy group for Down Syndrome. Find his portfolio site here and his poetry blog here.

Visual journalist Daniel Niblock to Ann Coulter: Knock it off

Celebrity pundit Ann Coulter is in the habit of calling folks she doesn’t like — usually liberal-minded folks — “retarded.”

And longtime visual journalist Daniel Niblock — who happens to be the father of a son with Down Syndrome — wants her to knock it off.

Daniel writes today via Facebook:

Hey everybody — this is important! Ozzie and I are featured in the national media, and we need your help!

You know that F-bomb-laced rant I wrote about Ann Coulter? [An amusing Facebook timeline post a while back.] It morphed into an opportunity for me to write about the issue for a much, much larger audience.

Please visit the link below to read the post I wrote for one of the Today Show‘s blogs. And after you read it, share it with your friends.

But, Daniel says, please share it directly from the Today blog site. Because, after all, his Facebook wall isn’t public. And, he says…

…I want it to go viral. I want Ann Coulter to read my words.

Daniel’s post is most worthy of your attention. An excerpt:

In the most recent example, conservative firebrand Ann Coulter, tip of the Republican spear, posted a tweet insinuating that President Obama is pandering to the “retarded vote.”

Here’s Ann’s tweet:

She could have insulted Obama’s base with other words, but she didn’t. She settled on “retarded.” And she felt comfortable doing so, and that’s a problem.

I know Ann makes a living in the “shock and awe” arena, and I know she’s famously abrasive and callous and mean, but I’m still mad. I’m mad that my son and others like him are collateral damage whenever someone feels like firing off an insult. I’m especially mad when celebrities do it, because they influence society at large. For her fans, Ann just reinforced the notion that “retard” is a go-to insult.

Thanks, Ann. I’ll remember that on some random Tuesday in my future when I come home from work and Ozzie is sobbing because some snot-nosed kid called him a retard on the playground.

Read the entire thing here. And then, don’t forget to share it via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

UPDATE – 3 p.m.

Earlier today, the piece Daniel wrote for the Today Show parenting blog was promoted to a spot on the Today Show home page. And now, it’s been bumped up another notch: The piece is now plugged on the NBC News home page itself.

A 1996 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Dan spent eight years as a graphics reporter for the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before leaving newspapers to work for his Sun-Sentinel colleagues Don Wittekind and Scott Horner at Swarm Interactive of Chapel Hill, N.C., which produces medical-oriented illustrations, graphics and whatnot.

In addition, Daniel created a news site and an advocacy group for Down Syndrome. Find his portfolio site here and his poetry blog here.

Passing through town tonight: Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis and his wife, Jane, came to Hampton Roads this weekend to do the tourist thing. They were soooo bored this evening that they took Sharon and me out to dinner.

Yet, this was the only picture I took.

Richard, of course, is the founding managing editor for graphics and photo at USA Today. He worked there for 75 48 27 years before retiring in 2008.

It’s always a pleasure to see Richard. A few years ago, he drove over to Dulles to have breakfast with me during a layover on my way to South Africa. A few weeks later, he did it again when I was making my way back home.

He was kind of like a one-man, personal TSA. But without the patdown.

Richard is one of those guys I’d love to see write an autobiography. He’s been in the business so long, has done so much and has so many great stories to tell. Idea: I should write a series of books on greats of visual journalism. I could start out with a biography of Richard, hit on George Rorick next and then take on Karl Gude for volume three.

Hmm. If I ever win the lottery, that’s what I’ll do.

Anyway, we tied up a table tonight for probably way too long. Yet, the management at Red Lobster didn’t say anything snippy to us or kick us out. So, in return, let me say: Red Lobster has an all-you-can-eat “endless shrimp” special going right now that is truly decent.

Disclaimer: Many, many shrimps died, I’m afraid, in order to bring you this message.

Des Moines’ Nicole Bogdas taking time off this week to make a donation

Nicole Bogdas is taking a little time away from her job as senior news designer for the Des Moines Register in order to work on a side project.

She’s donating a kidney to her father. Seriously.

This is happening this weekend — right now — at the VA hospital in Iowa City. The reason we know: Nicole is live-tweeting as much of it as she can.

A few items from today, so far…

She sent out that last picture and tweet around 12:30 p.m. CDT — not quite 40 minutes ago, as I write this. Unless I’m mistaken, she’s scheduled for mostly meetings and prep work today. The actual surgery itself doesn’t happen for another day or two.

Follow her journey via her Twitter feed and the hashtag #farewellkidney2012.

Naturally, her colleagues are being very supportive. They held a small party for her Tuesday at the Register.

She reports one of her co-workers sent her e-mail that said:

Don’t let them take both kidneys. If you wake up in a hotel bathtub full of ice you’ll know this was all a long con by your “dad.”


This sort of bravery doesn’t surprise Nicole’s friends at all. Back in February, she wrote a brave — and somewhat shocking — first-person account of her battle with bipolar disorder. Read that here.

A graduate of the University of Missouri, Nicole was news projects designer for the Palm Beach Post and also spent a couple of years at the Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale. She worked at the St. Louis Post Dispatch before joining the Orlando Sentinel in 2008. She was news editor of the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels, Texas before moving to Des Moines two years ago.

Find her portfolio page here.

How a visual journalist gets married in 2012

A little over two months ago, I brought you the story of Larry Buchanan, visual columnist for McSweeney’s, and the way he graphically proposed to his sweetie Erin Wright.

Erin was represented by the glasses; Larry by the flip-flops.

Very cute. So how does one follow up a proposal like this?

By getting married on Leap Day, of course. Larry tweeted this morning:

That’s one way to make sure you never forget your anniversary. And to save a lot of money on flowers over the next few decades as well.

Sure enough, the wedding happened. Larry posted this on his Facebook page this afternoon.

Larry (right) is a 2011 graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and a columnist for McSweeney’s magazine. Previously, Larry served as art director for the Indiana Daily Student newspaper and for Inside magazine. He has interned for the Hartford (Conn.) Courant and the school’s office of creative services. Find his personal web site here, his McSweeney’s work here and his Twitter feed here.

Erin (left) is a 2009 graduate of Indiana. She served as arts editor of the Indiana Daily Student and worked internships at Leadership Greater Hartford and in the university’s office of creative services. She has worked as a project manager for the university’s public affairs and government relations office and serves on the board of directors of the Bloomington Community Orchard. She’s applied to grad schools and is hoping to get involved with Teach for America. Find her Twitter feed here.

Read more about their engagement here.

UPDATE – 8:10 p.m.

Larry tweets in response to this post:

News designer Nicole Bogdas writes a brave first-person piece for the Des Moines Register

Nicole Bogdas — senior news designer for the Des Moines Register in Iowa for the past couple of years and now a designer for Gannett’s design studio there in Des Moines — did something today I consider to be extremely brave.

She came out today as a sufferer of bipolar disorder. In a first-person column on the editorial page of her newspaper.

Here’s the top of Nicole’s column:

On New Year’s Eve 2007 I arranged the pill bottles in a neat row and considered my options.

I could take one brand at a time. I could swallow them all at once. I could take them individually or by the handful. With wine or beer.

My neighbor was having a party and I could hear laughter and music through the shared wall. How could anyone have fun when I felt like this?

The orange bottles loomed. The names of the drugs I was prescribed for bipolar disorder stared back. Cymbalta. Lamictal. Xanax.

I marveled at the power we place in the hands of our most at-risk patients. The power in my hands.

I took a deep breath and called a suicide hotline.

Wow. That’s terrifying. I’ve known Nicole a long time and I’ve known she’s had some issues. From time to time, I’ve even tried to lend a hand — via long-distance and not with a terribly high degree of success, I’m afraid. But I’ve tried.

Yet, Nicole has always reached out to help others. I’ll never forget how candid she was when I was writing my “Survival Guide of Laid-Off Visual Journalists” that appeared in an issue of the Society for Design’s quarterly magazine and still resides — and, hopefully, lends aid — over at my old VizEds blog.

So part of me isn’t surprised Nicole was brave enough to write this piece today. What I am surprised about is just how low she’s felt from time to time. I had no idea it was that bad. The lesson here, folks: We all need to take better care of each other. At all times.

Nicole took a few minutes today to tell me how the story came to be:

Last year, a man with bipolar disorder shot and killed a state trooper. In the interviews with his family afterward, they said they had been trying to get him help, but the public response seemed to be “crazy people shoot cops.” I’m not saying I’m crazy, but I do believe if the man had gotten the help he needed, he could have managed the disease.

I wanted to offer up this piece then, but wasn’t sure. Shortly afterward, I was put on some new medication that’s working wonders. When I heard about this new series we’re running and finally had some confidence to tell my story, I suggested it to the editor. I offered it on the condition that he not tell anyone (in case it never ran) and that he be my editor. He obliged and I got to work. As the story notes, it was a similar piece written by someone at the Free-Lance Star, where I worked 10 years ago, that gave me the courage to look for help then, and I kind of wanted to return the favor.

It has been a long time since I wrote anything, but the editing process was pretty painless. I had the full support of the editor and he liked what I had to say. We complain a lot about long stories and stories coming in overbudget (and I won’t stop doing that!), but writing short is hard work. I think this piece clocked in around 50-55 inches. I’ve heard great feedback already this morning and last night from folks who proofed the pages.

They keep saying I’m brave, and I won’t disagree. Mental illness still has enormous stigma in this country and it does take bravery to talk openly about it. I hope to dispel some of the myths that you can’t live a productive, healthy life while struggling with something like this. I also hope someone will see this piece, like I saw the one ten years ago, and decide to get treatment.

I also appreciate the effort Mark [Marturello] put into the illustration. There are hundreds of cliches that could have been used, but I think his illo gives the design depth and shows an understanding of the subject matter.

Nicole’s piece ran on the editorial pages today. The paper put the column in today’s skybox:

I asked Nicole what kind of support she’s received today from her colleagues.

I’ve heard from several since yesterday, but the only other person who knew about my thing was Kelli Brown because I started taking the new meds and didn’t know how they would affect me. The doc told me they could make me very very very sleepy and I wanted her to know that could affect my performance at work.

Other than that, I just told [Register editor] Rick Green who was enormously supportive and very excited about the piece. It was nice to have him in my corner and willing to keep my troubles a secret until the last minute. As much as I’m willing to talk about it, because of the stigma, I didn’t want word to get out if it didn’t have to. I’m very open with my friends and family, but the workplace seemed like a different story. If I’m in a bad mood one day, and everyone gets in bad moods, I don’t want that to be chalked up to some disorder. “Oh, Nicole was short with me because she’s crazy.” you know?

Chris, my boyfriend, was very supportive. I tied myself in knots over this and he kept reassuring me it would be OK. My parents were also supportive. They were the voice of reason, for sure. (“You know your name will be forever attached to this. You really want to do it?”)

In the end, I decided it was necessary. I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to tell my story. I was just tired of hiding.

She writes in her piece today:

I want to dispel the myth that all people with mental illness are unproductive cop killers.

Maybe someone will see this and find hope, rather than fear, in their lives.



Mug shots of Nicole I’ve used over the years here in the

blog. Top row: At SND/Orlando in 2006, 2008, 2009.

Bottom row: 2010, 2011 and current.

I found out about Nicole column early today when I saw where she linked to it from her Facebook page. I immediately shared the link, as did Nicole’s other colleagues around the country.

The response has been tremendous. One designer writes:

Good for you for writing about this … it really does help people to know that they’re not alone in their struggles. You might remember that my dad grappled with depression for years before he killed himself in 2009, so this topic hits very close to home for me. I’m so happy you’ve found your balance.

Another writes:

Actually, I have never had any diagnosis of Bipolar, still I could empathize with her to some degree. I began to think about some of my own personal psychological determinants. Just thinking and wondering …

Nicole reflects on her boyfriend assuring her that her column would be OK. She tells me:

And it is; the response I’ve gotten just since I woke up today has been more than I could have hoped for.

She even posted on her Facebook wall earlier today:

I’m getting emails from readers! how cool is that?!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Nicole has more bravery planned for later this year: She’s donating a kidney to her father.

Nicole in front of the Iowa state capitol, November 2010.

Find Nicole’s column here.

A 2001 graduate of the University of Missouri, Nicole spent a year-and-a-half at the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va., before heading to the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale as lead news designer. In 2006, she moved to the Palm Beach Post, in 2007 to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in 2008 to the Orlando Sentinel and in 2009 to the Herald-Zeitung of New Braunfels, Texas.

With her move to Des Moines two years ago, she’s found a permanent home.

A look at Nicole’s work immediately shows off her specialty: Dealing with photo essays.




She’s won a number of SND awards over the years, including a huge gold award for her handling of this extraordinary photo report during her time at the Palm Beach Post:


Find more on her Flickr portfolio page. Find her Twitter feed here.