RayAppen

This has been a learning week for me since my recent column came out and a number of readers responded with emails. My column, “Should we save local journalism? Do we care,” talked about many things. One central topic was my questioning the anger I see “out in our world” — including the abus…

RayAppen

I always look for the library when I am in someone else’s house. If they don’t have a library, I look for magazines. To me what someone reads is the key to knowing them. And what they don’t read is also part of that key. I am reminded of one of the taglines of a national advertising campaign…

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RayAppen

These days have been interesting times for me and for everyone in the newspaper business. Much of our focus here in Alpharetta/North Fulton is on simply continuing to get our five weekly newspapers out — to write the stories, to compose the papers, sell the advertising, do the paperwork of a…

RayAppen

Sometimes the key in writing a successful column — or a successful advertisement or short story — is a headline that grabs a reader and pulls them in. I learned this from David Ogilvy, the guy who sort of invented advertising as we know it today.

RayAppen
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Years ago, a reporter was about to go home after a city council meeting had ended. Two councilmembers were still in chambers having a conversation. One said to the other, “let's go ahead and approve it- who is going to know?” The other pointed to our reporter a few feet away and answered, “he will.”

RayAppen

It is too quiet outside. Almost five months into this pandemic and it is difficult to describe how it’s going.  

RayAppen

I was excited about the column I wrote two days ago about “rule of law” and how important it is to this country. The column was of substance, important, and I also had fun with it.

RayAppen
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I don’t think I have ever written anything that I felt worthy of publishing in under 1,000 words — usually closer to 1,300. And now every week, like a real journalist? I don’t know about that.

RayAppen

I think the most difficult aspect of the pandemic is the uncertainty. We humans do not make decisions well, nor do we live comfortably, under conditions of uncertainty.

RayAppen

I think the most difficult aspect of the pandemic is the uncertainty. We humans do not make decisions well, nor do we live comfortably, under conditions of uncertainty.

RayAppen
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An old friend sent me an email with this poem attached. It is going viral on the internet, but I like it so much that I want to reprint it here for any of our readers who have not yet seen it. My friend is in his 80s now, is a retired physician, and is probably as scared as you and I are. He…

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So, every year about this time I am convinced that I’m probably going to have to skip this year’s Christmas/holiday column because I can’t think of anything positive to say. I have a hard time getting past how polarized we have become and all the many horrible events that have been transpiri…

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Almost nothing I have seen while visiting my daughter in Oakland, Calif., would fly in Alpharetta, Ga. Or would it? Most of what I see is different in a good way though, but also in an abrupt, unfamiliar and sometimes startling disruptive way. 

RayAppen

Four young teen boys in the 1960 Ford Galaxy were beginning to panic as they navigated down I-95 to Miami. They kept getting pulled over by State Troopers. A taillight out was out. It was past sundown now and they had already received one warning.  

RayAppen

I take my reporter’s notebook to church because our minister, Ollie, almost always has topics in his sermon that I want to remember. So I take notes.

RayAppen

The wait is agonizing. Cars are backed up for miles because of a multi-car wreck on Ga. 20 in Forsyth County. Slowly, the wreck scene is being cleared so that traffic can start back up. In one of the cars near the front of the line, 85-year-old Mary waits patiently and gets ready to move. Th…

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One advantage of having ADD when you work in the business that I work in — the news business — is that I have this archive of unfinished columns I can turn to whenever I want to write. For every column I have published over the years, I probably have 10 that I started and never finished that…

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Christina and I traveled to Norman, Oklahoma last week, possibly for the second to last time.  We’ll be back in a couple of weeks for Carl’s graduation.  

RayAppen

We are all so tired of the attack politics that plague our country. We’re tired of the partisanship. We’re tired of people simply being ugly to each other — being disrespectful and showing no empathy for the world outside of their own point of view. It’s getting old, really old.

RayAppen

I gave my wife a big hug and took one last look at her — my soul mate and my best friend — then turned my back and started walking north into the woods. That was about three years ago last week. 

RayAppen

So, I’ve finally started reading again — at least some. I seem to go in cycles where I find lots of books that interest me that I am able to digest. Then there are those times when my attention span is two minutes or less — at best. I don’t know what that’s all about.  

RayAppen

One of my most vivid childhood memories involves an animal, a coward, a hollow man, and a young girl in a blue checkered dress with a voice that made angels cry. And red, red, red ruby slippers.

RayAppen

For those few of you who actually read what I manage to write occasionally, you know I often talk about my primarily source of knowledge and insight into this world we live in comes from my children. The older I get the more I believe that they are my best source to learn about the outside w…

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I love Christopher’s Nolan’s movie “Inception.” I need to see it again — at least once but probably more than once. 

RayAppen

So, the post-Christmas 2018 column came earlier than I thought it would. It started arriving about 7 p.m. Christmas night, about halfway through our family Christmas present-opening gathering in our home with all three of my children, daughter in-law Kristina, our two grandchildren, wife Chr…

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My Christmas column arrived in the mail yesterday in the form of a Christmas card and note from a woman from Massachusetts who I met on my Appalachian Trail hike — Jacey Shumaker. She was hiking with her two daughters, ages approximately 7 and 10, and a great big golden lab. We met because a…

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I was going to try to write a nice Christmas column but decided to write about toilets instead. 

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About six years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At that time, there were only two treatments available; robotic assisted surgery and radiation (either by external beams or seed implants). I chose seed implants, and so far the procedure has been successful and I continue to be canc…

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I have always wanted for our readers to send us their vacation travel stories — especially when they are fun, interesting or special in some way.

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Every day when I drive through downtown I am amazed by what I see — new high schools, multi-million-dollar private clubs, town homes under construction from the $700,000s everywhere you turn. Frequently, I read through the newspaper, and low and behold, there it goes again — “$38 million lux…

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So, often I tell myself that after I read a book I should make some notes on any significant passages or ideas, so that next week, when someone asks me what the book was about, I may be able to respond. I hate it when I have read a book and cannot recall anything about it other than the gene…

RayAppen

Massive crowds rallied today across America – and across the world – to protest gun violence and the massacre of 17 students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.

RayAppen

I have to watch myself these days. I allow myself to become melancholy. And when I get this way I usually go back somewhere and reconnect to a different time – a safe harbor in my past. I reread favorite books – usually Salinger’s. I watch YouTube videos from old movies or events – like Ali-…

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Hatcher set off to enjoy some well-deserved leisure time at the beginning of this year. It never occurred to me that I would ever write this column – mainly because it never occurred to me that a day would come when we were publishing newspapers without Hatcher Hurd.

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One question I get about my Appalachian Trail hike is “why” – why did you do it, walk those 2,200 miles – and the answer I give is that I wanted to stop time.

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One of the first lessons I learned as a parent was that children watch and listen to everything we do and say. And generally, they never forget it. That is, they model their parents’ behavior. They watch how we speak to and treat our spouse; they observe how we talk to a clerk, a senior, or …

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My 2-year-old granddaughter, Phoebe, sat on my lap and for a couple hours, smiled, clapped, stared, wiggled and ate goldfish. Every couple of minutes my wife, Christina, who sat next to us, would cut her eyes over to Phoebe and just grin and watch with wonder. She didn’t need to say a word t…

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Today was a long strange day and one I will remember fondly for a long time. I woke up to rain. The Woman’s March in downtown Atlanta was scheduled to start at 1:00. I knew it would probably be crowded, especially on MARTA. I don’t like crowds particularly. However, I had mentioned to staff …

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“Did the trail change you” is the question I get almost every time someone finds out that I thru—hiked the AT. Every time they ask the question part of me wants to say “no” — I’m the same guy but another part of me says “you bet—ya, it changed everything.”

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The problem with history is that it is so hard to see while it is happening. It is difficult to recognize the nuances or even the macro paradigm shifts as they are occurring.

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All my life I seem to have taken the hard route to where ever I was going. I made a lot of mistakes and traveled many dead-end roads and had to stop, reverse course and look for the right way.

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“It has become abundantly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.” – attributed to Albert Einstein. I might suggest that lots of things have surpassed our humanity including technology.

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With the third and final debate now behind us, and political vitriol spreading like wildfire, it’s no wonder why so many Americans have become apathetic about the election process and, alarmingly, may cease to vote at all.

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OK, this one is only a good one if you run. I believe a cousin told me about it. Since I believe every blood relative I have runs, it does not surprise me.

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It is too quiet outside. Almost five months into this pandemic and it is difficult to describe how it’s going.  

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Alpharetta, Ga. One of my favorite iPhone APPS is called “Genius Scan”. I probably use it every day for one thing or another. Essentially it is a camera application that allows you to shoot a picture of something and then store it into a folder that you set up. My primary use of this app is …

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I recently hired a new delivery person. We rarely have any changes in our delivery staff, and I am really picky about who delivers your paper. The new person – Lynn – was someone who I liked the minute we struck up a conversation. She was middle-aged, articulate, dignified and composed. She …

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Recently I attended the wake for the son of a longtime friend. His son was an athlete - good grades, active, involved, and as far as his dad could see not involved with drugs.

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Alpharetta, Ga. One of my favorite iPhone APPS is called “Genius Scan”. I probably use it every day for one thing or another. Essentially it is a camera application that allows you to shoot a picture of something and then store it into a folder that you set up. My primary use of this app is …

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Tuna salad is my playground. I love adding new things and seeing how it turns out. My play date with artichoke hearts turned out beautifully.

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That’s something that I am frequently asked. Usually, the question is presented with at least a trace of anxiety – not so dissimilar to asking how Aunt Martha, who you know has been ill, is doing these days and hoping that the answer is not that she died, or worse. You see, and one cannot mi…