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Berry Tramel: Furlough went well

The furlough is over. I’m back on the clock.

My first week of mandated unplugging from The Oklahoman has ended, the blog is revving back to life and I’ve had a few questions about how it went. So let’s answer them.

Was I a good soldier?

Yes. I did no writing for The Oklahoman. I finished up a magazine project I had been working on, and I wrote a piece for an independent organization that had the blessing of my supervisors. But no writing for The Oklahoman.

I hope I can remember how to post blogs and place print stories into the system. With technology, I’m a little bit back to Algebra II. I stay a day or two ahead of the posse, and I can quickly forget what I just learned.

I also interviewed a few people – not many – for future stories. If that’s considered breaking the rules, I’ve got no chance. And I listened to the Mike Gundy and Joe Castiglione teleconferences and even asked Gundy a question, even though I had good intentions of not. How could I resist with that kind of content?

The question? I asked Gundy if he had talked to the people above him – Burns Hargis, Mike Holder, Bob Bowlsby – about accelerating the opening of OSU football above all else on the Stillwater campus.

What did I do with my time?

The shutdown wasn’t half bad. Not nearly as irritating as I figured it might be. I never got bored. I found plenty to do.

Besides those writing projects, I helped more (a little) around the house. I worked on the pool, which has some kind of pump problem that I’ve got to figure out. I played street volleyball with my 13-year-old granddaughter, who likes to play one-on-one with no net. I went out to the church and mowed that dang grass, of which we have too much.

I even learned how to launch my own Facebook Live event. I teach a Sunday School class at Lakeside Church of God. We haven’t met since early March, and while our services have moved online, we didn’t do the same for Sunday School. But one Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago, I agreed to host the Bible study, catching up on the three Sunday School lessons we had missed, and I did so by convincing my twin brother to join me at the church for the Facebook Live post. We are studying the book of Daniel, and when you get into some of Daniel’s prophecies, it’s above my pay grade. Terry is a Bible scholar and 25-year professor, with a major emphasis on prophecy, so he and I did a Q&A format on the church’s Facebook page. I handled the Q’s; he handled the A’s. But last Thursday night, I did my own Facebook Live, on the Easter lesson, from my living room. Seemed to go all right. I applaud all the ministers out there who suddenly have had to deliver sermons into cameras and iPhones and laptops, without a congregation. Nothing easy about it.

Why did I still appear in the sports section?

Three times during the week, The Oklahoman ran a column of mine. But we stayed within the rules. All three were previously-published blogs.

Some of my readers read both the print and online stuff. But some read only one or the other. And truthfully, some really good content never makes the print edition, simply because of space. I average about 10 blogs a week, in addition to the four columns. There isn’t room for it all and some of it doesn’t fit newspapering.

But some does. So I reworked three blogs and sent them in a week ago, to use when needed to give Jenni Carlson a break. A Lincoln Riley blog about how much time is needed for football teams to get ready for a season. A blog about college coaches perhaps needing to take pay cuts due to the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. And I combined two Bennie Owen blogs into one column, which I was really proud of. I learned a lot about Owen in recent weeks and wanted to share more of Owen’s story with everyone.

All within the rules.


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Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›