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Weekly Wave: Are you sleeping on the job, again?

With so many of us working from home now, how tempting is that bed or couch in your home office when you’ve just finished a two-hour board meeting on Zoom?

Rick Lubbers is the executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune.
Rick Lubbers
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DULUTH — America, you are tired. Apparently, so tired that many of you are falling asleep on the job.

Hopefully, I can keep you awake long enough to finish reading this edition of “Weekly Wave.”

Survey and polling emails flood the newsroom’s inbox seemingly by the hour. They rank everything from the best states to retire in to the cities most ready to survive a zombie apocalypse (seriously). I file most of them in the electronic wastebasket, but since I spend a lot of hours working each week and not enough sleeping, I was curious to see how many of you are cubicle snoozers.

If this survey is to be believed, quite a few of you. And we’re not talking about the occasional head bobbing that strikes us all at about 2 p.m. during a long budget meeting, or retreating to a dark, quiet place to ward off a migraine. This survey centers on intentional, premeditated work sleep and the times when the old sandman is impossible to deny.

Quick editor’s note: The survey was conducted by Amerisleep, so, of course, they’re hoping a sleepy nation buys a slew of mattresses, beds and other sleep-enhancing things. Amazon helped gather the information, and they’d love to ship you all of that.

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Still, the data gathered from 1,001 people is alarming. At the top of the list: 70% of technology workers reported dozing off at work. All the data, algorithms and screen time would make anyone sleepy. But, to be fair, some techy employers, such as Google, encourage naps on the clock.

OK, but how about 68.2% of workers in construction sneaking in a bit of shut-eye at work? Yikes! A lot of you operate heavy machinery.

And we wonder why there are supply-chain issues.

The survey ranked arts, entertainment and recreation employees as sleeping the least at work, but at 34.6% that’s still over one-third of those polled.

In case you’re wondering: There’s no sleeping in the newsroom.

George Costanza in “Seinfeld” made sleeping at work an artform when he created a place to slumber underneath his work desk when he was assistant to the traveling secretary for the New York Yankees. That’s a sitcom, but apparently some of you have been inspired by George sleeping on his shift.

With so many of us working from home now, how tempting is that bed or couch in your home office when you’ve just finished a two-hour board meeting on Zoom?

Try to stay awake this week!

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I hope you all have a great weekend, but be sure to get caught up on your sleep. Monday morning will be here soon.

Here are some DNT highlights from the past week:

Plane crashes into house

A brick home with a large hole in the roof and wreckage in the yard
Three people died when a small plane crashed into a home on the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road in Hermantown on Oct. 1, 2022.
John Myers / Duluth News Tribune

The biggest story in the Northland this week was the small plane that crashed into a Hermantown house, killing the aircraft’s three occupants but miraculously sparing the lives of the home’s residents.

Since the crash happened so late Saturday night, the news release came overnight, when nearly all of the Northland was sleeping. Most newsrooms are lightly staffed on weekends, particularly on a Sunday morning. But that didn’t stop us from jumping on this story as soon as possible.

The DNT’s John Myers and Dan Williamson — who were both off at the time — saw the early-morning press release and rushed to the crash scene. Myers and Williamson soon had a story and photos for web editor Barrett Chase to edit and post to our website. Later in the day, Teri Cadeau, our Sunday reporter, filled in additional details on the crash.

Without the combined efforts of all four journalists, our coverage would not have been as detailed and informative for readers.

You can read the initial story on the crash here , and our follow-up article with more details here.

Everyday angler

Pam Zylka
Pam Zylka pauses between casts while fishing on the public fishing pier off Indian Point on the St. Louis River Estuary on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.
John Myers / Duluth News Tribune

Curiosity is an essential part of any journalist’s wiring. Being curious helps us dive deeper into stories, continue to ask questions and often leads us to stories we wouldn’t come across otherwise.

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DNT outdoors reporter John Myers followed his curiosity to a great fishing feature while on another assignment.

As Myers told “Weekly Wave”: “News Tribune photographer Steve Kuchera and I showed up a little early for a media event being held by government officials on the cleanup and restoration of Kingsbury Bay on the St. Louis River Estuary. The event was being held on a floating fishing pier, and Pam Zylka was out there, by herself, fishing, as the crowd started to gather.”

Myers immediately wanted to find out more.

“I struck up a conversation with Pam and found out she fishes in that spot nearly every day, riding the bus across town to get there,” Myers said. “I got her phone number and then went back the next week a few times and fished with her for several hours. … I didn’t catch any fish but did land a great story!”

Indeed.

You can cast your line and read about Pam Zylka here.

Country loses its queen

ENTER-LYNN-REACTION-ZUM
Loretta Lynn at the 2016 CMA Country Christmas held at the Grand Ole Opry House.
Laura Farr / TNS

Loretta Lynn will always be known as the “Queen of Country Music,” but her life sadly ended earlier this week at age 90.

What an impressive reign she’s had. Her country music royalty was never in dispute. After all, as she sang in one of her hits, “If you’re looking at me, you’re looking at country.”

The pioneering country music icon didn’t just sing country, she lived it. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is as autobiographical as music gets. Her one-of-a-kind discography includes classics such as “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” “Harper Valley PTA,” “One’s On The Way” and “Fist City” that surely rankled the male-dominated industry at the time.

Country music has other royalty, of course — Kitty Wells (who was really the first female country star), Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire (all four have been called “The Queen of Country Music”) — but it’s difficult to imagine those star-studded careers without Loretta attaining immense popularity and redefining what it meant to be a woman in country music. She paved the way for all future female country singers.

Loretta teamed up with Conway Twitty for several hits, too. “Weekly Wave” recommends “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and “After The Fire Is Gone” as two of their top duets.

And what a talented family — younger siblings Peggy Sue, Crystal Gayle and Jay Lee Webb carved out singing careers of their own.

Over the decades, country’s sound has seen more twists and turns than the Colorado River, but Loretta’s songs never veered from the musical foundation set by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and The Carter Family.

When news of Loretta’s death broke on Tuesday, we republished a 2009 interview the DNT had with her prior to a concert at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. While you are checking out Loretta’s discography, you can read that interview here.

Catch a wave

Here are a few more stories from the past week I thought you may enjoy:

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Editor's note: Weekly Wave is a newsletter that I publish every Friday morning. Please consider subscribing — it's free — and hits your inbox just once a week. You can sign up here.

Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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