hello everbody!

fred wants me to introduce myself so here goes.

mini bio: baby boomer. grew up in jersey, outside philly. went to college (in chicago) on an academic scholarship. did one year abroad (canada.) graduated magna cum laude (english literature and history.)

few years after college started freelancing as a general assignment feature reporter for a gannett paper (120,000 daily circulation back then) in jersey. (was lucky to get into a newsroom just before the post-watergate flood of newbies came out of the j-schools.) then moved on to the philadelphia bulletin, a philly institution, when the death rattle was almost audible in the newsroom. cranked out hard news stories and features.

after the bulletin folded, i wrote for the philadelphia daily news ’til 1988 — a privilege as the legendary gil spencer was the executive editor. that guy was one in a million, tough as shoe leather when he had to be and a sweetie pie when he didn’t. everybody in the newsroom knew gil had your back, even when you screwed up. especially when you screwed up.

it was clear by the mid-1990s there no future in newspapering so i reinvented myself and went to work for a big charity in philly as press contact and grant writer. (don’t get me started on what a mess nonprofits are.) pushed out in 2008 at the very beginning of the recession. retired since 2011.


on the personal level, i am:

a radio addict since junior high school (under the covers at night with a transistor radio — the whole bit)
very private and a homebody
a middling but enthusiastic herb gardener (culinary and medicinals)
still grieving the cancellation of “hill street blues,” the best hour-long drama ever on network tv
a christian (came in kicking and screaming at age 40, after reading mere christianity by c.s. lewis.) non-evangelical, non-charismatic
a conservative (since RR’s first term)
user of complementary medicine since the 1980s: homeopathy (including constitutional treatment); european and asian herbs; traditional chinese medicine (TCM), which incorporates acupuncture, cupping and qigong; therapeutic massage, especially shiatsu
prone to having heroes who fight the good fight — paul of tarsus, dietrich bonhoeffer, richard wurmbrand, aleksandr solzhenitsyn — and bear the cost with stoic resolve

you all come to this blog for the same reasons i first did nine years ago: fred’s original and tenacious research; his brilliant and dead-on analysis of news events; his gentlemanly “c’mon, let’s just talk” approach to almost all feedback; and the polls that would make you laugh even while in the ER getting a broken arm set. but, ok, i’ll put my two cents in once in a while, especially on the lively topic of serious journalism in america and why it’s (almost) dead as a door nail.

About countess robini

fred's new protege -- and new wife.
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11 Responses to hello everbody!

  1. Fred Stiening says:

    The Chairman says “You’re Hired!”

    Like, totally

  2. Parrott says:

    Bonjour Countess. ( getting ready for my trip to Quebec later this year) : )

    So cool, excellent intro. I think a lot of people liked radio back when they were kids and stations played music.
    yeah I had old Radio Shack AM ‘Flavoradio’ in blue back in the day when local AM stations played music (70’s). Its here somewhere I think. we were lucky, to grow up in that era, I guess.

    Its cool you and Fred found each other. Both of you are truly blessed and you both deserve all the happiness. Yeah my wife has been a subscriber to Southern Living since 92, I think. Now they give you the E-version for your ‘tablet’ device. You’ll like the magazine, its given us ideas of places to visit. ( and recipes)

    we just got back from a two week trip to Florida, ( Orlando) and the Florida Keys . Then west coast Florida Cedar Key, Tallahassee and over to Pascagoula, MS to visit my sister and her family. Then Alabama and Tennessee, back to Virginia.
    The wild part, other than Key west, was riding the Auto Train to FLA. That was a blast ! Chickens everywhere in Key West, and Polydactyl cats. ( Cats good, roosters stupid)

    So glad you are here ! I appreciate Fred’s website too,
    Best regrads

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Did you have an urge to sneak into Cuba?

    • countess robini says:

      dear parrott: so happy you’re home safe and sound.

      please post some travelogue items when you get back from your upcoming trip to quebec. (Still smile when i think of your funny post about bed-and-breakfasts.) tell us about the architecture, french-infused culture, cuisine, neat places you stumble on. i want to hear!

      re key west: i booked a cruise many years ago with the purpose of getting to a port in guatemala so we could travel inland to see the mayan ruins at tikal. at the last minute, the captain announced we were skipping that stop because, he said, the situation was too unstable to risk safety of the ship and the passengers. (this was in the 80s.) they took us to key west instead. it was lovely.

      saw a network tv story about 15 years ago re a parade the key west locals had had for years. (a community sort of thing, not really for tourists.) there was an uproar because some local gay organizations had started to participate and the parade floats were getting very salacious. (key west is arty and liberal but this stuff was over-the-top.) a serious clash of “community values.”

      • Fred Stiening says:

        My parents honeymooned in Key West in the 1940s. I remember as a young child being taken there, and there being a sudden change of plans after my mother saw something she wasn’t expecting.

        Believe it or not, Key West was originally connected to the mainland by a railroad. When it was damaged in a hurricane, the railroad bridges became the basis for the road. The key west railroad had a rail car ferry that went to Cuba

  3. Fred Stiening says:

    Perhaps another post would be about Charlotte and how it compared with your preconceived notions. However, keep in mind we have to pretend it is a horrible place so more people don’t move here and create more traffic.

    Donald Trump was doing a pretty good job of scaring people away by describing the crime ridden “inner cities” of America including Charlotte. He owns a golf course up near Lake Norman and probably most of his contact has been with people who hide inside their gated communities, cowering in fear.

    • countess robini says:

      a couple observations about my new home town:

      *many immigrants from around the world — the kind of people who just want to get on with it — seemed attracted to this city. saw a wide variety of ethnic restaurants: greek, vietnamese, mexican, french, japanese, middle eastern — even a peruvian place. had an excellent uber driver one night who took me back to the hotel. explained to me that he and his wife emigrated from costa rico, despite the fact that she had a cushy government job there. they want more and better for themselves and their kids.

      my conclusion: immigrants who want to sponge off the american social welfare system head for places like new jersey. the ambitious and entrepreneurial prefer charlotte.

      *we spent much time in the car, with fred driving me around so i could get my bearings. (a work-in-progress, since i have no sense of direction.) we were in wealthy areas, lower-income ones and lots in between. but nowhere did i see
      the kind of sprawling “bad” neighborhoods filled with public housing projects, burned-out and abandoned commercial buildings and general urban decay that are a hallmark of the northeast corridor.

      *the vibrant economy of charlotte is attracting rock star-type doctors to the area. fred now has two new docs — one did her residency and internship at harvard med school’s beth israel deaconess medical center in boston; another trained at johns hopkins in baltimore.

      *a second thought on the medical situation. even during a brief foray to scope out the availability of integrative/complementary medical providers in charlotte i was delighted to find many. i have spent three decades beating my head against the wall in jersey looking for these practitioners. for charlotte, a quick google search and i was rolling. i even found a homeopathic md and a full-service homeopathic pharmacy right in charlotte, along with a medical reflexologist who uses various modalities of traditional chinese medicine (TCM) to augment the reflexology treatments.

      BOTTOM LINE: three weeks and counting ’til i’m on the plane back to charlotte.

  4. haiti222 says:

    The years when I have done a daily devotional with another person, this was the most discussion provoking one we ever had: https://www.amazon.com/Seize-Day-Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Devotional/dp/1576832163

    I did a year in Canada as a student at UBC, and did a year at the University of Chicago. It is really nice having Windsor just 5 minutes away, although only TVOntario comes in on the TV and not the CBC.

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