Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wally went skiing, behind-the-scenes on a C.I. entry

I've got Wally news and behind-the-scenes on C.I. working on an entry. But first, let me swipe from C.I. and my cousin Stan to note these:

Cedric's Big Mix
Park Avenue Prisoner Edwin Schlossberg
14 minutes ago

The Daily Jot
14 minutes ago

The Common Ills
The continued journey of the traveling shoes
3 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
Charlie Brown stinks at baseball
10 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
i always identified with sally brown
10 hours ago

The Outing of Charlie Brown
10 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Franklin and Violet
10 hours ago

Ruth's Report
A Jewish perspective
10 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
Peanuts in the Kitchen
10 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Snoopy and Woodstock
10 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Charles Shultz' women
10 hours ago

Starting with Mike's post above and continuing all the way down the list and including Stan's "The Invisible Franklin" the posts are about Peanuts. We were looking for a fun and seasonal topic that could allow for an easy entry. We're all tired and wanting something nice and easy.
I really enjoyed the posts and thought you learned something about everyone from them. But maybe that's just me? On my end, if you read them, you learn things about, for example, Elaine. That may be my own knowledge of Elaine already just bubbling to the surface when I read her post. But it makes tremendous sense that she would write about Snoopy and Woodstock because they have the most difficulty communicating (compared to the other characters) and think about her profession. Staying with her profession, notice how she zooms in on the interior versus the exterior. Mike's a sports nut so of course he'd zoom in on baseball. You can go through each of the posts and see aspects of the personality of the person who wrote it. Our intent was to have a diverse group of opinions (which I think we more than succeeded at) but I also believe we offered some insight into each author's character. I'm not sure that was part of the intended assignment.

Wally. He, Kat, C.I. and Ava are in Colorado this week speaking. So what happened?

He skipped an evening speaking thing because he wanted to see the sights and he ended up deciding to ski. As he told me on the phone this morning, "I'm from Florida, I know all about skiing. Or so I thought. Big difference between skiing on water and skiing on snow." He fell and hurt himself. That was Monday night and we knew he was hurt on the slopes when we were posting but that's all we knew. I wanted to call him Tuesday and wrongly assumed it would be better to call him at the end of the night. He was already asleep. Due to pain pills, he's not the night owl he once was. Which is why he and Cedric don't have a set time on when they'll be posting. (They usually post late at night.) So he's fine and they're staying at some huge place of a friend of C.I.'s and Ava and C.I. are now driving to speaking gigs because they don't want Wally being moved around. Kat's staying with him. If he wants, on Friday, they'll charter a plane and fly with him to Florida (charter so he doesn't have to deal with a crowded plane on crutches). If not, they'll charter to Boston and do as they usually do (spend the Friday with Mike and company, go back West Saturday morning). They were scheduled to speak in Florida Monday and Tuesday and the original plan was that Wally would stay on then with his family and come back after the New Year.

C.I. immediately called Wally's grandfather Monday to explain what was going on but no one could get ahold of Wally's mother who had a business convention. A) Her cell phone was dead and being charged. B) The hotel she was booked at had overbooked and she was bumped to another hotel; however, the person/people working the front desk did not appear to know that she'd been bumped (by them) to another hotel and just repeatedly stated, "We have no guest by that name." Monday we were all told not to write a word about Wally's accident -- which was easy enough because all we knew was about the accident, we didn't know if he was getting a cast or what. But until Wally's mother was informed of what happened, none of us were going to mention it online. That would be a real kick in the gut, you log on to someone's site expecting some news or something fun and find out your son's broken his leg. Wally says it is more of strain/sprain than a break, by the way. I'm not sure if he's down playing it for my benefit. He says he has a walking cast. Do they put a cast on for a sprain/strain?

So Wally and I are talking and, in the background, I hear C.I. C.I.'s working on both of the morning entries but what I'm hearing is pretty much exclusive to "The 'almost' withdrawal." I say, "Who is C.I. arguing with?" Wally explains, "A friend at Reuters. Reuters says Bulgaria has X number of troops in Iraq but they're all supposed to be out so C.I.'s asking what Reuters is basing that claim on?" Then Wally and I talk some more and C.I.'s in the background speaking with the Bulgarian Embassy in DC -- I didn't need Wally to explain that, I could tell it right away just from overhearing. C.I.'s explaining why she's calling and the answer is all of Bulgaria's troops are out of Iraq. C.I. explains Reuters says differently. At which point, the embassy is unsure and starts passing C.I. around. Which is when I hear C.I. ask Wally if he can hold the cell phone. Which Wally does as C.I. calls on the other one and every now and then Wally stops talking to me to answer a question into C.I.'s phone. The one I didn't get was "California." Wally explained to me that they asked where he was calling from? I said, "But you're in Colorado." He said he knew but the cell phone number is California and they might have had some reason for asking. So every few minutes or so he has someone come on the line and they all say, even some man in the politics division, that all of Bulgaria's troops are out. In the background I hear C.I. speaking and I say, "What is that?" We find out after. It was Bulgarian. The official language of Bulgaria. I didn't know what they spoke. It sounds like a very pretty language.

[Sidebar: If you ask C.I., she'll say she can only speak English competently but that's modesty. She speaks Spanish fluently, French and who knows what else but add Bularian to it.]

So Wally's got repeated confirmations from the Embassy in DC and C.I.'s already gotten confirmations from the same embassy. C.I. has also called diplomats and press in Bulgaria and received confirmation there.

Here's how that plays out in this morning's entry:

Bulgaria's DC Embassy states that all Bulgarian forces are out of Iraq (that's all troops and that's according to two staffers at the embassy including the ambassador's secretary). If that turns out to be incorrect, we will correct it in a later entry.

Wally tells me the entry just went up and I read over it while I wait for C.I. (I needed to say thank you and also check on a book -- for a change, it's one I'd found that I thought C.I. had been looking for that was the case and I'll pick it up at lunch today). When C.I. gets on the phone, I mention the above passage and point out that it was so much more. C.I. says that section was written before the phone was handed off to Wally.

Which really drives home the point Jim always makes. C.I. does so much more work each morning than most people will ever know. C.I. does get confirmations repeatedly from friends in the press on any given thing written. That's a given. But in terms of Bulgaria, look how far C.I. went just to write that they had withdrawn all of their forces and C.I. did all of that after that was what the Bulgarian news outlets were reporting. C.I. didn't just run with it because it was stated. And even after the Bulgarian Embassy in DC confirmed that all troops were out (repeatedly), C.I. was still working the phone for confirmation.

After repeated confirmation, what goes up is 'This is what I'm being told and if it's wrong, we'll correct it later." Now granted, C.I. wrote that before calling anyone in Bulgaria, but think about that process and, believe me, I don't call anyone about what I'm writing here. I mean, Ruth and I talk on the phone before we post, comparing notes and stuff, but I don't approach this online diary as if it were journalism.

C.I. will say, "I'm not a journalist." And as Elaine's explained many times at her site, journalism was the family business for C.I.'s family and C.I. refused to go into it. But it was the business discussed at the dining table growing up and C.I. does approach The Common Ills with the same set of standards.

I also need to praise Wally because the last person he spoke with at the DC Embassy confirmed it and all and Wally thanked him but also added, "My condolences on the 13 Bulgarian soldiers who died serving in Iraq." Wally's a classy guy. Not everyone would think to say that but he was raised with manners. (Believe me, a lot of people would just say, "Okay, thanks. Bye.")

And on Wally. Betty knew he was injured, but not how badly, Monday evening which is why she blogged -- she doubted Cedric and Wally would be able to blog that night (she was right). Trina found out Tuesday and blogged last night as a result (wanting to be sure Wally didn't feel pressured to blog). Wally appreciates that and says he and Cedric will be blogging but don't expect a regular time at this point.

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