Wake me up before you go go

Pam Frampton
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"The life of the creative man is led, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes." - Susan Sontag (1933-2004)

Ah, the dog days of summer.
Sultry air, pitchers of chilled lemonade sweating condensation, padded deck recliners, a stack of good books, hours to while away languidly.
The only sound the lazy buzzing of pollen-heavy bees in the garden and the sensuous clink of ice cubes melting in a glass.
At our house, we've got the "crazy" days of summer part down pat, but we're not doing so well with the "lazy, hazy" bit.
For the past two months, we've been working like mad to get our backyard ready for our August wedding.
As G. has observed, "That's one way to get something done around the house - invite 140 people over."
Ten trips to the dump with three years' worth of detritus.
Staining the deck and adding fairy lights.
G. picking and shovelling his way through what must've been someone's high-yield rock farm.
Creating a circular patio surrounded by rose bushes, where we will exchange our vows.
The shed has been levelled and is ready to be sided.
The barren spot underneath the deck has been de-tree-rooted, de-weeded, de-bouldered and raked, with only one minor head injury suffered during the process (A crack to the skull on the corner of the dryer vent, but I'm all right nooooooooow!)
We've sifted enough rocks out of the soil to build a barrisway.
Our dog is bored to death.
He still gets his walks, of course, but most of the time he's lying on the grass, eyes rolling woefully at the sight of the pointless activity going on around him. (Pointless, in that the end result has nothing to do with tasty treats, tug-the-toy competitions, or adulation).
On hot days when we cover him with a wet towel, he lies there lethargically, sighing dramatically to make his point.
But being a social, stubborn creature, lately he has not been content to loll about the yard. Instead, he has resorted to attention-seeking behaviour, such as following the neighbours into their house and refusing to come out, and creeping off to join the guests around their patio table when they are entertaining visitors.
He constantly reminds us that it's not just the economy that needs stimulation; that he is a sentient being who needs more out of life than just lying around if he is to keep his energy up and his mind sharp.
The public-relations profession could learn a thing or two from him.
On Monday, the quiet of the summer newsroom was shattered by the "ting!" of e-mail arriving in in-boxes.
It was a flurry of news releases, crafted by three and four communications officials apiece, and offering the insights of municipal, provincial and federal politicians - clearly designed to grab media attention at a time of year when messages in bottles and moose strolling through city drive-thrus can command front-page headlines.
On sewage treatment upgrades in Port Blandford, ACOA Minister Keith Ashfield had this to say: "The Government of Canada's goal is to keep Atlantic Canada moving forward by investing in projects that improve municipal infrastructure, enhance the quality of life of residents and make everyday life better for all Canadians."
Well, I'm not quite sure that Joe Blow in Moose Jaw gives a beaver's behind about whether or not there's a new sewage lift station in Port Blandford, but I guess we'll have to take the ACOA minister's word for that, because he used the same statement repeatedly, whether the news was about a pumping station for Bonavista or extensions to water and sewer lines in Southern Harbour, pavement in Gambo or water treatment upgrades in Lumsden.
And the platitudes from the provincial ministers were much the same: "Investments to upgrade and modernize infrastructure in communities across Newfoundland and Labrador are vital …"; "This investment further demonstrates our government's commitment …"; "Communities across Newfoundland and Labrador require reliable, efficient infrastructure …"
Yada, yada, yada.
Tuesday brought a similar wave, this time with every announcement released in duplicate, first by the provincial government, then by ACOA.
Now, paved roads, running water and flush-toilets are all wondrous things, but this is the 21st century and we kind of expect governments to provide basic services to communities.
There's nothing wrong with telling taxpayers how their money's being spent, but perhaps clusters of like projects could be announced in one go, rather than federal and provincial ministers having to act like gig-weary performers checking the undersides of their guitars for the name of the town they're playing this week.
(Hello - uh - Lumsden! How're y'all doing tonight?)
Otherwise, the media might be forgiven for taking a lesson from the dog, and trotting off in other directions, where there might be a little more action.
Either that, or rolling over for another snooze.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram's story editor. She can be reached by e-mail at pframpton@thetelegram.com. Read her columns online at www.thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Joe Blow

Geographic location: Port Blandford, Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Moose Jaw Bonavista Southern Harbour Gambo

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