Cake patrol

July 18, 2001

This hasn't been a good month for starting or sticking to diets, thanks to an endless parade of departures at Glenn's work. The voluntary buyout and early retirement program hit with full force in early July as we learned the fate of Glenn and close to 1,000 of his coworkers at the newspaper. Glenn's company offered the buyouts with the goal of reducing the staff by 87 people, and July 5 was the day of decision for most of them. Glenn agonized for six weeks over whether to stay or go -- right up to the final hour before the deadline to make his choice -- but in the end he reasoned it was better to be employed and undecided than unemployed and uncertain.

Those who elected to leave have been filing out the doors steadily since July 9. Glenn has said goodbye to some near and dear friends, and has signed more farewell cards in a week than in the past five years. A colleague said it best when he likened the scene to a yearbook signing party before a high school graduation. Glenn thinks it is more like working in a bakery. Everywhere you turn there are sheet cakes and doughnuts, cookies, cheese trays, pizzas. Black balloons and streamers dangle from the ceiling of the photo department where at least three people have left. Editorial assistants are packing belongings into cardboard boxes and waltzing out the door. The folks in the sports department break into spontaneous applause as each employee makes his or her final exit through the newsroom door. Those remaining keep a mental tally as the e-mail memos clog their mailboxes recapping the latest news of coworkers dearly departed. At least 40 gone so far, but still more to go. Will there be layoffs? No one knows yet and no one in the know will say, which only adds to the frustration. We wait anxiously for the big news, which is who has been approved for the buyouts from the news desk? At least 13 people out of a staff of 35 have applied, and what happens there will affect Glenn directly. At least it will impact his future duties in the newsroom. Stay tuned...

Cakes have not been the only thing adding inches to the waistline this month. On July 1 we celebrated Glenn's 36th birthday (with cake, naturally) during which he received a new barbecue grill to replace the teetering three-legged kettle that came with the house when we moved in 10 years ago. We held our inaugural barbecue July 9, cooking up shish-kebabs with hot Italian sausage, shrimp and chicken breasts. For our second cookout July 16 we sizzled up some catfish nuggets, shrimp and hamburger patties. Lots of smoke to add to the ambience. So none of us will be surprised someday when we are diagnosed with lung cancer brought on by smoke inhalation from many summers of open-air grilling. But if we've gotta go, better to have gone flavorfully, right?

Ben at last is enjoying his first real summer vacation in three years, thanks to our decision to switch his year-round track at Vintage Parkway School. Instead of having to return to class around July 11, he now will begin second grade in early August. His teacher, Mz. Gordon, sent a letter to parents in which she tells us the class will be studying dinosaurs and magnets, among other things, something that Ben should find enjoyable. What will be tough getting used to is Ben's new vacation schedule that now conflicts with Dad's, so probably no long vacation trips for a while.

Roni has finally been seeing some of the fruits of her springtime labors as checks have come in from her largest clients. We put a portion of the proceeds to immediate use July 1 when we purchased a new living room set to replace an eclectic assortment of mismatched and declining furniture. We both initially balked at leather, but a comfortable three-piece set caught our eye and soon we were placing our order. Unfortunately, the color we selected had to be special ordered, so we won't actually get to sit in our comfy chairs until most likely early August.

That's all the news for now. A early happy wedding anniversary wish to Jenny and Tom Ferreira, and an early congratualtions on the pending nuptials (more cake!) of longtime family friend Will Muller. May married life treat you well.

Glenn, Roni and Benji

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