December 29th, 2014


Wasting Precious Pages

In the last couple of decades, we been subject to dire warnings of the death of reading, the death of books, the death of printed books and traditional publishing, the death of journalism, the death of newspapers. As with most dire warnings, there are elements of truth and also realities which take a different course. We are an adaptable people.

Newspapers and good-old-fashioned journalism IS in a decline. Consolidation of papers so there are few two-newspaper towns anymore. Stripping down of newsrooms.

For us, the Grand Rapids Press has gone through several downsizings and reconfigurations, along with some offloading to the Mlive online site. Home delivery is only three times a week -- Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday -- though they actually produce a paper every day. This means that the comics are generally out of synch. M-Tu on Tuesday, W-Th on Thursday and Sunday-F-Sa on Sunday. People will post a Dilbert or a Get Fuzzy on Facebook, and we haven't seen it yet.

Twice they've tried to kill the weekly TV section. That failed miserably. TV Guide magazine is an acquired taste and I loathe it. The online guide requires a machine to be on -- easier now that we have Kindles -- and works dreadfully. And with only three days of home delivery, the daily TV listings are inadequate.

Parade magazine we have to hunt for every Sunday. It's gotten worse since they down-dimensioned it and it's gotten much thinner over the years, so it gets lost in the ad inserts.

But this rant is really about wasting paper.

Over the last four weeks, the big front page/picture on the TV section has been run twice. The first week I thought it was a printing error, so there were two sets of end sheets. The second week, I was surprised that their state of the art German presses were continuing to make the same error. Last Sunday, as I pulled off the extra layer for the third time in a row, I realized it wasn't a duplicate, but just the page 1 picture and three pages of ads, followed by a page 3 duplicate of page 1? Why in the world would you plan something like this? Why not just run the ads? Why create a situation where people are just going to throw away the outer sheet?


But this isn't the only wasted paper.

The Entertainment section in particular and the front page to some extent, have gone into this browser format. A tiling of stories within, it includes pictures and the start of the articles -- which are then repeated in their entirety on the pages within. You can't do the Continued on Page 3 subhead anymore? You've already cut the section sizes down and now you waste a whole page so it previews the articles?

I don't get it.

Perhaps the younger generation cannot grasp the technology of turning a page of a newspaper? That seems rather condescending. Perhaps people hate to change pages in the middle of a story? A legitimate issue, but then you just put a large headline index on part of page 1 highlighting the articles within. I hate reading two paragraphs and then rereading them inside or having to figure where to start. And duplicating the picture? See, if you run two pictures they oughta be different -- just saying.

Grouse, grouse, grouse.

I see this as laziness on the part of the newspaper. Wasting what little paper they give us for duplication.

Back in the old days...

Dr. Phil

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Gas


I coulda paid 89¢/gal for gas today. But I didn't.

Let me explain.

I'd mentioned earlier that Family Fare had managed to run behind the swift swell of history. In other words, their $1.99.9/gal special coupons got run over by gas $1.99.9/gal and cheaper. Oops. So yesterday, Mrs. Dr. Phil stopped by the front desk and asked if they were aware that the coupons they'd handed out as part of their Fuel Rewards program had expired while being worthless.

The manager said, Huh.

Me? I'm amazed that the good frugal bargain hunters of West Michigan hadn't brought thus up, but maybe everyone is still thrilled/stunned by the dropping gas prices.

At any rate, without begging, prompting or expectations, the manager rang up two 50¢/gal coupons. Bonus. So today I needed to fill the Blazer. And gas was down to $1.89.9/gal.

For the record, with the two coupons, that's:
$0.89.9/gal for regular, $1.04.9/gal for midgrade and $1.19.9/gal for premium.

I coulda had $0.89.9/gal, but the Blazer is up there in years and I've been feeding it midgrade.

17.159 gallons for $18.00 even.

Been a long time since the digits on the pump have moved this slow.

Mlive showed a local gas station at $1.66.9/gal. Crude dropped another dollar a barrel. They say the national average is $2.26.9, so whatever's going on in West Michigan is an anomaly. In the right direction for once.

I don't expect this to last. But it is amusing while it lasts. And durn it, I'm not teaching, so I can't even turn this windfall into any profit! (grin)

Dr. Phil