Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

We live in a world of instant communication — text messages, email alerts, news from around the world as it happens.

I'm a news junkie, so I'm not going to complain about that. After all, it's a pretty big part of what I do.

I've discovered, though, that the news takes on a different feeling when it involves you, or those close to you. (Discovered isn't quite the right word, because I've experienced this before — so maybe I've been reminded is closer to the truth.)

Last Saturday, a Boeing jetliner was in the news — again. At least this time no one died.

But there was a tie. It happened in Denver, my place of birth. And the when the airplane's engine fell apart, it "rained debris on a Denver suburb called Broomfield."

That's where son Alex lives.

Broomfield is one of those sprawling suburbs the middle of the country is famous for — there really is open space there. So I had no reason to worry. Still, I'd missed calling Alex on his birthday the week before (bad Dad), so I decided to give him a call.

"Just wanted to see if any airplane parts hit you on the head," I kidded, in a lame attempt to cover up for my lapse in not calling sooner.

"No," he replied. "It hit in the field across the street. The inspectors are out there now and it's snowing. Glad I'm not them."

He was calm. I was calm. At least I sounded calm. That field is less than a quarter-mile away from his house. I think I covered the panic I felt, but I can't be certain.

I've been on the receiving end of those calls a few times.

I can pretty much guarantee that one or two members of the family will call any time there's a California fire or earthquake big enough to make the national news; I'll bet you get the same calls. For some reason, it's hard for people outside of California to understand Long Beach is hundreds of miles away from San Jose, and a good hour's distance from even Griffith Park.

But I have to admit, it seems like things are hitting closer to home these days.

Take Texas (please). When the super-freeze first hit most of that state, I recalled a winter visit to Fort Worth when there was a little frozen rain on the highway and everyone freaked out. I assumed this polar vortex was along the same lines.

I'm sorry. Seriously.

I got news from a friend now living near Fort Worth through Facebook. She even wrote for the Grunion for awhile, so we've sort of stayed in touch.

Her house lost power. Her water pipes froze, then burst. She's going through a wintery version of hell I haven't experienced since I lived in the Colorado mountains.

It gives a totally different perspective to the news when you know those, or some of those, involved.

And yes, I've ignored the entire COVID-19 situation. Knowing someone who's been devastated by that disease is pretty much a universal experience these days.

Did I say I was sorry? I am.

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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