Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Archive for December 2013

Grunt Work

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I haven’t posted to my state constitutions blog since I launched the site … too busy.  And, unlike the conventional wisdom that you beat the hell out of people with blog posts, twitter posts, linkedin posts, facebook posts, Google+ posts, tumbler posts, etc, I just kind of write when I think I have something relevant to say.  But I’m sharing this post with both blogs because they share a common element.  Lists.

I am a list builder.  It is one of my gifts (and curses).  I can build a list with phone book sized data in very short order because I am extremely focused and I know where to go and what to do when I get there.  To wit, I’m just about finished with a list of all of the mayors of all of the major American cities.  I started it yesterday.  I’m going to use it to tell them about my state constitutions website.  I am constantly hearing about how mayors bump up against governors, or how smaller cities are constantly wrestling with larger cities, or how municipalities and counties have disputes with the state over issues like Home Rule and taxes, for example.  So I guess that by giving these mayors access to a resource like my site, it might make it easier for them and their staffs to research questions just a little bit faster.

This makes probably the 10th such list aimed at the 10th such specific audience I’ve thought up.  I’ve got another three or four more lists, just as long and detailed, to go.  But when I’m done, everyone I can think of with interest will know about it.  Then, I’ll just have to wait for the idea to percolate.  But at least I will have done my part.

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Written by Interviewer

December 31, 2013 at 00:35

New Track: Mark Garcia Interview

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A new track on SoundCloud “Mark Garcia Interview”:

Mark Garcia is a Republican candidate running for the 42d district in the Oregon legislature. He talked with Don Merrill about what it means to be a “Compassionate Conservative” and how that does and doesn’t line up with his fellow conservatives on everything from taxes and schools to expectations.

Written by Interviewer

December 28, 2013 at 01:12

Posted in Scratchpad

New Track: Don Gavitte Interview

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A new track on SoundCloud “Don Gavitte Interview”:

Don Gavitte is a Democrat running for the Oregon House in the 42nd district. He talked with Don Merrill about what he plans to bring to the legislature as a teacher and what he wants to bring to his students and their parents as a legislator. To read a transcript of this interview, go to http://www.dmassociates.biz/images/Don_Gavitte_Transcript.pdf.

Written by Interviewer

December 26, 2013 at 06:01

Posted in Scratchpad

For All of the Unsung People

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Unsung means, people for whom a song is not sung.  With all of the tributes made and libations poured to all of the people in the center of the light, there are people who are never seen, never known but without whom, nothing would happen.  I don’t know why this makes me emotional, but fortunately, it doesn’t affect my typing.  Here is a short list of all of the people who, especially at this time of year, need to be remembered.

Pilots who fly through some of the worst weather of the year to take millions of people to their destinations.  When the seat belt light comes on, the pilot is about to engage in a very personal conversation with nature.  Yes, they get paid to do their jobs, but their job is to carry lives, legacies, babies, pets, pictures, fruitcakes, messages and futures.  And don’t forget about the ground crews, the baggage handlers, the mechanics, the flight attendants, the customer service people.

Ambulance drivers who carry people about to enter life and people about to leave it.  And the EMT’s who hold the hand of people scared of dying and people scared of living. And don’t forget the Emergency Room Technicians, nurses, front desk people, medical technicians, doctors, nurses who see the worst on what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year.

Police who will be patrolling the streets when most of us are asleep, away from their own families.  Or maybe they’re walking up unfamiliar stairs, rounding dark corners or entering hostile bars to arrest someone or contain someone or pursue someone.  And don’t forget their families; wives, kids, cousins, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers who hope their own father or son or mother or daughter will come home in time for some turkey or to unwrap a present or bounce a baby on their knee.  Also, don’t forget deputies, sheriffs, dispatchers and 911 operators.

Firefighters who, no matter how cold or miserable the weather, will gear up and run to a raging fire to protect property or save lives.  They will enter burning buildings with oxygen tanks and carrying extraction equipment and they will search for lost, afraid and dying people and pull them out.  Or they will open wrecked cars like sardine cans overturned in ditches to try to save people who made a simple, life changing mistake so they can have another chance.  To all of the firefighters and their families.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guard.  I think of Coast Guard especially since a friend of mine has just moved to an island in the Aleutian Islands and the Coast Guard regularly sends helicopters and ships into raging seas to rescue people.  Soldiers walking point, sailors on an aircraft carrier, airmen working a flight line, marines advancing on a position – all far from home.  And don’t forget the veterans, as well as the active duty and reserve cooks, the admin people, the military police, the military doctors and nurses, the supply and warehouse people, the truck drivers and mechanics and their families.

Highway maintenance people who will be out plowing, salting or sanding roads in some of the most remote, God-awful places at all times of the day and night in the worst winter weather you can imagine. And if they’re not trying to keep it clear, they are trying to open up a section of highway that has just been damaged by an overturned semi-tractor trailer and it’s dropped load of railroad ties or beehives or salad dressing. And if they’re not trying to clear a road of debris, they’re trying to finish construction on a piece of road so the traffic can move faster. They hold slow down signs that people can’t read because they’re flying past them too fast. They wear colored vests but they still have to jump out of the way sometimes because some people are in a hurry. Fortunately, there is usually a fast police interceptor not too far away. And don’t forget the line and tree workers restringing downed power lines and knocking ice off trees.

Pastors, Bishops, Rabbis, Imans, Reverends, Ministers … men and women of God who leave their doors open when most others are closed this time of year.  These people are  dedicated to trying to help the lost navigate through a not always easy life by listening, holding, and helping as much as they can, as much as they are allowed.  And don’t forget about the soup kitchens, the secret givers, the missions, the volunteers, the drivers, the sorters and the warehouse workers.

Reporters, anchors, weather forecasters.  These people tell us about closed roads and bad skies and deep water.  They are running around a near empty building at wee hours of the morning all over the world so we can wake up knowing what’s been going on.  And don’t forget the camera operators, master control, technical directors, audio directors, news directors, city desk editors, photographers.

Veterinarians and people who run shelters of all kinds. For animals that have been abused or lost or hurt, who are alone and frightened; these people search for them, find them, take them in and care for them and try to heal them or reunite them with their families. This kind of selflessness without a doubt belongs on this list.

Disaster relief workers overseas including Doctors without Borders and the International Red Cross among so many others. For people in the South Sudan, in Syria, in Egypt, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Uganda. People for whom hope is at the whim of a despot who tortures or disappears beloved family members, these organizations and their volunteers risk their lives and sometimes lose their lives to bring food, medicine and hope to people in the spirit of “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men”.

Prisoners, inmates and their jailers. Being incarcerated is antithetical to what it means to be a human being. Sadly, many people have made choices that have put them under the control of the State. But the state is not guiltless and in many cases, it’s own mistakes have led to the unjust incarceration of hundreds, maybe thousands. Still, to be institutionalized is to be invisible and forgotten. So for the people who wish for a second chance but will never get it and the people on the verge of getting that second chance as well as the guards that must watch, control and discipline those inmates whether they want to or not, you are not forgotten.

Entertainers of all kinds, because these people are notoriously nomads and without steady income. Whether in community theater, on Broadway or at a cattle call, musicians, actors, artists work through the holidays since their Black Friday always seems to be about six months ahead of them. They are always running to the next gig, the next audition, the next tryout looking for a reason to believe the hard work they’ve put in on their music, their technique, their moves will land them something steady and something they and the they people they love can be proud of. There will be a lot of them on stages around the world during the holidays, hoping.

Prostitutes because many many women around the world are forced into prostitution and not only outside of the United States. They have children. They have bills. And they have dangers most of us can’t conceive. Yes, there are social service programs for them and their families. But for all of the “respectable people” who can’t leave their situation, no matter what it is for whatever reason, it is no easier for prostitutes to leave theirs. Also don’t forget enslaved domestic workers, the sex-trafficked, the addicted and the homeless.

Store clerks, stock boys, bus and taxi drivers, park rangers, highway patrol officers, 24-hour IT support people, tow truck drivers, credit and debit card customer support, the mail carrier, the package delivery driver, plumbers on call, roofers on call, HVAC on call, electricians on call, hotel workers, restaurant workers,… yes, we pay for these people either directly or indirectly.  But when we need them, they come and not always because they have to and not always just for the money.  What would it be like to to be someone who helped save someone’s Christmas or a family memory?

There are SOOOOO many people we forget who do what they have to do while the rest of us hope for another memorable holiday.  They must not be forgotten.  We must not forget them.

Maybe you’re one of these people.  If you are, thank you for providing. Thank you for protecting. Thank you for enduring.

If you can add to this list, please do.

Political Interviews

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I am engaged in another project to bring government to the people. I am inviting all candidates for office in Oregon for 2014 to talk to me about their candidacy and their goals if they are elected or reelected.  As of this writing, I’ve talked with three and 10 or so more have shown interest.  The interviews will be either about :30 or :60 minutes long depending mostly on how long we talk.  All interviews will be posted at the KBOO FM (http://kboo.fm/betweenus) website under my podcast, “Between Us”, which is a collection of interviews I’ve done with celebrities and regular people.  They will also be posted at my interview website, Conversus (http://www.convers.us/page4.archive.html).  In both places, visitors will also be able to read and print a transcript I created of the interview. 

New Track: John Huffman Interview

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A new track on SoundCloud “John Huffman Interview”:

Republican John Huffman is running for reelection in Oregon’s 59th district. He talked with Don Merrill about his constituents, his family and his level of frustration over how he feels the legislature is sometimes sidelined.

Written by Interviewer

December 21, 2013 at 06:18

Posted in Scratchpad

New Track: Karl Erickson Interview

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A new track on SoundCloud “Karl Erickson Interview”:

Karl Erickson is a Republican candidate for the 20th legislative district in Oregon.  He talked with Don Merrill about his desire to contribute to good governance, his thinking on retirement and collective bargaining issues and why he’s willing to risk everything he has for what he believes.

Written by Interviewer

December 16, 2013 at 14:42

Posted in Scratchpad