I have rambled on for 19 years and don’t intend to stop now

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

This is a very special issue for me, because it starts the 20th year of publication of our weekly newspaper.

It’s been an interesting 19 years, to say the least. The Bulletin is the longest job I’ve had in my life. I worked for the Houston Chronicle for 12 years. It looks like this may be my last job.

It’s not really a job. I don’t clock in or out. I work at the house, so the commute is short. It’s more like a hobby that makes a profit. I love doing it each week, every aspect of what it takes to put the paper out.

I can write any type of column I want. I can run anything that interests me and I think would interest the reader. I must be right most of the time, since we’re still here.

In honor of this special occcasion, I’m going to break my No. 1 Golden Rule: Never let them see you sweat.

It’s not been all smooth sailing. There have been a few missteps.

Many years ago, Sharon, my wife and co-publisher, and I decided to give away Bulletin coffee mugs, and we ran a Shakespeare quote contest. Two lucky winners would receive one mug each. Both correct entries won. The contest was a bust.

Once, our young daughter, Stephanie, decided to stick a pencil into my computer’s floppy drive when computers still had floppy drives. She knocked it out on deadline before I could transfer the text for that week’s issue onto the hard drive.

I ran out, bought another floppy drive, installed it, and we made deadline. Then, I decided to keep the text on the hard drive. Live and learn.

Another time, very long ago, I decided to make an adjustment to my main computer and shorted out the power supply, also on deadline. I ran out again, bought a new power supply, installed it, and we made it. Then, I decided not to make any adjustments on the computer right before deadline.

When we were still pasting up the paper and taking it to the printer for the pages to be photographed, the word “liar” fell off of the movie schedule advertisement and landed on a furniture store ad. I think it was the Jim Carrey comedy, “Liar, Liar,” so that gives you some time-frame reference.

The furniture store owner was not very pleased. We ate the cost of the ad and ran another one for free, this time without the word liar. Then, I went out and bought a new waxer.

The first time we paginated the paper, the printer’s computers would not recognize the newspaper folder on the disc. We wound up printing out the entire paper and took a photograph of it (the old-fashioned way). Then, we spent a week trying to find out what went wrong. The next issue was printed from the disk. Success.

The first time we ran color digitally, nothing worked. We killed the color and printed the paper in black and white. Once again, we found the problem, and the next issue contained our first standing color pages. Success again.

One time, I misspelled my own name on a byline, and the editor did not catch it. For a week, I became John Tota.

Then, cash for clunkers in a headline became cash for clinkers. I still hear about that.

But the mishap that made me the most nervous was when my brother-in-law, Harold, came to visit, and he promised to make my computer run faster. One night I agreed, and he crashed the computer that contained the entire paper, which was to be sent to the printer the next day.

Sharon did not allow me to kill him. He promised that he’d have it back to working in no time (that’s what I was afraid of).

He worked on it all night, but by the morning, he had it running normally, and the paper made it to the press run.

Then he got upset that I didn’t thank him.

“You’re lucky you’re still alive.”

O.K. I didn’t say that, but I was thinking it. Note to me: Never let brother-in-law touch computer.

I could go on with more tidbits, but I don’t want to over-stay my welcome. Thanks for letting me ramble on like this for 19 years. I hope to do it for many more.