I’d been having trouble concentrating today. I flitted from email to reading the news to attempts at drafts of articles I’m working on to phone calls and interviews to talking to the dog to blogs to photos to…just thinking.

Sometimes, it helps to limit the input.

I went to the gym, hoping a break and some exercise would revive my focus. It did, I suppose, revive me. But while there I was held captive by the 10 or so different TVs that were on. I watched, though I didn’t want to. It was hard not to. When all you see are TV screens, where else do you look while you’re on the cardio machine? I watched Maury Povich show off a lineup of celebrity look-alikes. I watched some soap opera featuring a character named Starr. I watched “Project Runway.” All at once. And then I watched as the soap opera halted for breaking news, and Charles Gibson came on to say that a shooter had let loose in an Omaha mall. Nine people dead, he said. So far. Authorities say. More as it becomes available.

Meanwhile Maury Povich blathered on in pre-recorded unawareness with a girl who looked (sort of) like Angelina Jolie, and I thought, jesus, it’s the holidays, and it’s going to be a hard Christmas for some families in Omaha.

Breaking news is never good news. They never interrupt “General Hospital” to say that the economic outlook is rosy, or stop “Survivor” to let everyone know that there are Middle East peace talks going on, or pause “the Sopranos” to share that a missing person turned up alive and well.

It’s always something horrific and terrifying.

Later, I was at the park with the dog and a cold wind was pressing at my back, right off of the Pacific. The wind brought fog that the sunset tinged with reds and oranges, like a fire raging at the edge of the sky. The tall buildings downtown burned in color, until the fog, graying in the loss of daylight, erased them from sight.


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