Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

Talk about making the most of a difficult situation.

In a time of limited financial resources, there was no way for the Triplicate to send a reporter to San Francisco for the two-week State Bar trial of Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander. Travel, meals, big-city lodging - not in these tightly budgeted times. Even the many character witnesses who made the trip at their own expense to support the DA stayed maybe a day or two.

To make matters worse, the Associated Press attended only the opening day of the trial, leaving the rest of the coverage to the legal industry media andndash; which did produce some interesting tweets, only some of which amounted to cosmopolitan scoffing at the vagaries of that small town way up just this side of Oregon.

Sure, Triplicate cops and courts reporter Anthony Skeens agonized a bit over not being where the action was. Then he went out and found some action of his own.

Just before the trial started, he obtained prosecution and defense witness lists, enabling him to write an advance article that revealed not onlywhowould be called to the stand, butwhatthey were expected to testify to. In other words, Triplicate readers were equipped with the trial details before they unfolded in the Bay Area.

Then Skeens finagled a long-awaited jail interview with Michelle Taylor, the defendant who spoke to Alexander without her lawyer present in a recorded conversation that's at the heart of four of the seven Bar charges against the DA. Again, Triplicate readers got the goods before the folks in the San Francisco courtroom.

In fact, the trial is now on hold until the officiants can take a deposition from Taylor.

Computers steal my joy

Have I mentioned that I detest the Bowl Championship Series that gives computer nerds a pivotal role in deciding who plays in college football's national title game? While human beings continue to vote the Oregon Ducks the No. 2 team in the country, the computers pooh-pooh them based on strength-of-schedule considerations, dropping them to No. 4 in the BCS standings.

As a result, instead of exulting over Oregon's 70-14 demolition of Colorado on Saturday, I was lamenting the upset defeats suffered by Southern Cal and Oregon State andndash; teams the Ducks have yet to play. See, those losses will make our future victories over those opponents not as impressive to the computers.

When football requires a friggin' calculator, something's wrong.

Advice to letter-writers

Del Norte's traditional form of campaigning known as writing letters to the editor wraps up this week. If you still plan to submit one, here are some tips that will increase the chances of it getting published by the Saturday deadline:

andbull; Email it if possible to This expedites the procedure, since it won't have to be retyped. You still need to include your name, hometown and telephone number.

andbull; Letters to the editor are all about local commentary - tell us how you feel and why. Local views on national issues are welcome, as are out-of-town views on local issues. Letters should not make claims or accusations that require substantial efforts at verification - those are called news tips and can be emailed to the same location.

andbull; They also should not regurgitate information from the Internet, although an occasional tip to check out a website is fine. We all know, for instance, that there are a zillion places to go on-line to read about how great or terrible fluoride is.