Just James

Well, after thinking I had some cute and catchy name for my column, my ideas seemed to quickly disappear. I asked and even begged and pleaded with some of my friends who know me best to assist me in my quest to name this column but to no avail. What I think I have come to decide is that I should keep it simple. No tricky or fancy names, nothing to give people the wrong impression, just something simple; just James. That’s it’Just James. I know that isn’t the best title in the world but hey, who says it has to stay that way forever. I am not opposed to change. So, if somewhere down the road I get an idea or urge to change it to something else, I’ll be sure and let you know. But for now, it’s Just James. H Things in the Stewart household have been busy since, well’Memorial Day. Traveling, vacations, visitors and yes, birthday parties have been keeping us busy. My thoughtful spouse found her way clear to place a less-than-attractive photograph of yours truly in the paper for my birthday last week. By several of the comments I have heard, the photo was worse than I had remembered. Oh well, I guess I deserve it after the one I got her with at her 30th b-day. Besides, there is always next year and you know what they say about paybacks. Now that I have been in the newspaper business for a good four years, I am beginning to feel a little more comfortable in my surroundings. When we first moved to Brady in 1997, I was very much out of place seeing as how the smallest town I had ever lived in was only 45 minutes outside of Washington D.C. And even then, we lived in the country and large cities were less than a 15-minute drive away. In my first few weeks on the job here in Brady, I remember asking my father-in-law for some advice on publishing newspapers. One topic my naive mind was interested in was the neverending quest to put out a perfect issue. “One thing my father taught me was that there is no such thing as a perfect paper,” he said. No such thing as a perfect paper’ha! How did they know’ Surely with my college education, fresh ideas and utmost attention to detail, I could prove these seasoned veterans wrong. A wiser man now am I. Mistakes in a newspaper are like diets’the harder you try, the more difficult it seems to accomplish your goal. Last week was a perfect example of what I am talking about. Just ask any of the employees here at the Brady Standard and they will tell you that mistakes are virtually impossible to eliminate. I myself never make mistakes so I can only assume that the blemishes on our publication lie within the inabilities of my staff (yeah, right, I guess that is why they call me “Mr. Perfect”). It seems that no matter what measures are taken to check, double check and even triple check each issue, there will always be a mistake somewhere in the paper. Some mistakes just happen to be more prominent than others and usually, we find them right about the time the last bundle is unloaded from the truck after being brought back from the press in Fredericksburg. One might ask, “What about proofreaders and computer spell check’ Shouldn’t they take care of the mistakes’ Well let me tell you this. Nobody is perfect. In fact, even with spell check nobody is perfect. Mistakes are not always misspellings. Verb tenses, improper grammar, etc. are all considered mistakes. I have personally written, proofed, corrected, had others proof and reproof stories or headlines and still, mistakes have slipped by. It is not just one person’s fault (most of the time) but rather a combined group effort. That’s right, it takes effort to make mistakes. Now all we have to do is redirect that effort and see if we can change those miscues into a mistake-free issue. But rest assured, mistakes find their way into every newspaper, even the big guys like the Standard-Times and the Dallas Morning News. We have an ongoing challenge at the Stewart and Smith households, to see who can correct who on grammar, spelling and punctuation. Larry and MaryAnn are tough to beat, especially MA. She is the queen of specifics and the schoolteacher in her keeps her sharp as a tack. Holly got the best from both parents and is definitely an apple that did not fall far from the tree. She can find mistakes with my work lickety split. But that is good, mind you. The thing I am most thankful for is that she doesn’t hold the things that are personally wrong with me over my head. I guess that is why I married her. The game we play has also made its way into the workplace. Some have embraced it more than others. I guess the idea is that the more people you have questioning something like the spelling of a word or the proper use of the English language the better. At least that’s the theory. Since Larry told me that there was no such thing as a perfect paper, I have often tried to produce one. A few times where I thought I was close, all I had to do was take it home to my wife for her to see. It usually only takes about 15 seconds or less for her to find the first mistake. Oh well. I guess I get to keep trying. One thing is for sure, if I ever do publish a mistake-free issue, I will not believe it. If it does happen, it will be framed and hung on the wall and it will truly be a day that will be remembered for the rest of my life.

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