DENVER - Yep, I am on another trip away from Havre. No, the HDN isn't paying for this one either. Even though I find myself working for the first eight or nine hours of it.
Nope, I am here to watch my sister receive her master's degree in nursing. Can you say: "the good kid of the family."
It's supposed to be a mini-vacation, yet I find myself working. Why? I really don't know.
Let's be real honest here. My job isn't that difficult. It's not manual labor. The only heavy lifting I do is the bottle of Diet Coke I swill every morning, and the second one I drink in the afternoon.
I don't have to be in my office around the clock, and many of my paid hours come from sitting and watching sports either in person or on television.
Before you start to get jealous, I will show you my paycheck sometime. After the three minutes of gratuitous laugher, you will realize that I am paid fairly for my lack of physical exertion.
Still, there are times when my job can be difficult. Scheduling is always tough. Getting to every game and every event is sometimes impossible.
There is also my bi-monthly battle with writer's block. If you can't tell, I have it again. Sorry, there will be no random thoughts on random things this week.
Right now my biggest problem is a lack of a topic and my ability to come up with one.
My sister's house has a lack of ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNews, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, ESPN 7 or even Fox Sports. I haven't broken into cold sweats, but I am starting to develop the shakes. I haven't seen a sports highlight in over eight hours.
No Stuart Scott dropping urban slang for white America, no Chris Berman nicknames, no Dan Patrick sarcasm and wit. I didn't even get to watch "PTI" today. I swear I am 10 seconds away from paying the gold cable package for my sister as a graduation present.
To make matters worse, her Internet connection is so slow it is measured with a sundial. It takes roughly 45 seconds for a page to load up. That's ridiculous even for a dial-up connection.
I feel lost. I feel out of touch with the world. My last contact with sports information was the paper this morning. I didn't even get to listen to sports talk radio on the way down, instead having to endure my dad's endless supply of '60s music. He singlehandedly paid for half the Time Life Co. with his purchases.
I miss sports. What's even more amazing is that I don't even like sports nearly as much as some people.
I never realized how dependent I am on television and the Internet for providing me current news and information and, of course, the Real World/Road Rules Inferno II.
So I sit here, searching for a topic to write a column about, and I have 22 channels of garbage and the very first Internet connection in the world as my inspiration, or total lack thereof.
But what my obvious dependence on television and the Internet displays is something bigger, something more profound, something that will affect my livelihood down the road.
Because of television, because of the Internet, because of 24-hour talk radio, newspapers are becoming less and less popular. Check any major newspaper in the country and you will see that circulation is down.
Now more than ever, people get their information from places other than the daily newspaper, which doesn't bode well for someone whose sole talent is to write sarcastic comments about the New York Yankees and Paris Hilton. Right now, I would have to take Paris as having the better year.
Is there a reason behind this decline in newspapers? I am sure that there are a number that experts have come up with. But for me, it comes down to updated news with relative timeliness.
If I need a score, a story or some background, I go to the net and find out what I need from any number of Web sites.
When I am sitting in a sports bar, mindlessly praying to a beer that my three-team college football parlay - with the Hawaii over-under, USC by 19 and Notre Dame losing no matter what - to come through, I can stare at ESPN's bottom line running ticker for my score updates.
A newspaper can't give you that. It isn't set up for that type of news reporting.
So television and Internet news obviously must be better. Right? Not exactly. It depends on what you are looking for. If you looking for fast news, quick information and short reporting, then those two outlets are best.
But, if you are looking for analysis, in-depth reporting and unbiased coverage, newspapers are the ticket. Because they have more time, newspapers generally go into more depth with information. Television can only offer a limited amount of time to a story, roughly three to four minutes. I don't care if you talk as fast as the guy from the Micro Machines commercials, you can't get much information into three or four minutes.
The Internet sites are a little different since they come from newspapers, unless you count ESPN and its growing legion of reporters and correspondents, who came from - you guessed it - newspapers.
Convenience is another advantage of newspapers. You can take them anywhere. Not unless you are on "MTV Cribs" do you have a laptop or television in your bathroom.
So where does it leave the newspaper industry? Fighting for its collective life. They have tried to find ways to encourage new, particularly younger readers. Has it worked? Not really. Many newspapers have had to cut jobs since the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.
So where does that leave me? Stuck in Denver without cable, decent Internet and possibly jobless in the future.