Monday, April 23, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on October 2nd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 30

I have nothing to show for my efforts

You don’t know this, but I spend weeks working on each of my columns. Months. I brainstorm ideas far in advance of ever pecking anything out on my keyboard. Even the ones that are about something that just happened a few days prior happen this way. Don’t ask how. It just works.

This week’s edition, however, has proven to be a sticky one. I had this great idea, see, for a column that would change the world—or at least this community. I’ve been nurturing it, shaping it, bouncing ideas off of my friends and family, and everybody loved it.

Except for my editors.

They didn’t like it at all. They said it would never run. They’d never give it a green light. A pass. A thumb’s up. They told me to drop it and write about something else.

But I didn’t want to.

I was proud of the work I’d put into my column, but the editors said it would be the wrong thing to run at the wrong time.

I refused to budge.

So did they.

So this is my column. It’s a whole lot of nothing. I’m technically still doing my job, since I somehow managed to get enough wiggle room in my contract to allow for gibberish to count as viable material from me, so the upside to all this is that I still get to cash a paycheck.

I can do this:

Blah blah blah.


Blah blah blah blah.


And I’m getting paid the same as if I had just written some bitingly astute observation of the fee-to-trust process or cronyism or, oh, I don’t know, a federal government shutdown.

That’s just theoretical, mind you. I’m not necessarily commenting on the grinding halt our country recently came to thanks to Congress’ inability to pass a spending bill. I don’t even know what a shutdown means, because I came outside this morning and the sun was still shining, the post office was still open, and my Gran-Gran’s Social Security check arrived in the mail.

Of course, the Los Padres National Forest is closed. Not that there’s a big padlock over the trees or anything. Still, the website reads:

“Due to the lapse in federal government funding, the U.S. Forest Service, as with other federal agencies, is closed with the exception of certain essential services. However, we will attempt to make timely updates about public health and safety on these web pages as appropriate. We sincerely regret this inconvenience. For general information on Forest Service shutdown procedures, please visit USDA’s website.”

The USDA’s website reads: “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to become available again. For information about available government services, visit To view U.S. Department of Agriculture Agency Contingency plans, visit:”

I didn’t feel like following those rabbit-trail links, so I just let the matter die there. It’s not like I’m going to be making any more money by clicking on them and writing about what I find (or less money for not).

Actually, I did go to the U.S. Government’s official Internet presence,, which had a big message stating: “Due to a lapse in funding, the U.S. federal government has shut down. Call 1-800-FED-INFO … for answers to government questions.”

So that’s it. A stalemate gives us license to shut it down. So that’s what I’m doing with this column, at least until my editors give in and let me write about what I originally wanted to write about.


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