The home stretch

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

People keep asking me what's going on with me stepping back at the paper, so I guess I'll say it one more time, and then maybe people will get the hint and realize that Christmas is still coming, the fascists are in chains, and peak oil is here.

First, welcome Jeri Chadwell-Singley to our staff as our special projects editor. She won first place for us in the Nevada Press Association awards this year for best nonstaff story—and she has been teaching up at the University of Nevada, Reno. I first met her in the journalism master's program.

She's an integral part of the equation that's going to buy me some time off for my pseudo-sabbatical. The idea is I'm going to average no more than 10 hours a week working on the paper. This will be the first week where I should be at or less than 10 hours. I'll let you know how it goes when next I write this Note.

This week, I'm polishing my portfolio writing for my classes in the English master's this semester. I'll hand in my final assignment on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. I filed my Program of Study, and so I expect to graduate in May, after I complete a portfolio that will highlight the work I've done for the last three years. And then there's the 15 books I have to read, two classes and comprehensive exams.

This was the worst semester I've ever had. It was certainly worse than the one where I went through a divorce during my undergrad. A friend's death, suddenly losing a good portion of my hearing, my son going off to college—the simple fact that I survived and didn't succumb to cirrhosis is either going to make it really hard for me to accept excuses for future missed deadlines or undermine my ability to take deadlines seriously.

Fatal Encounters is humming along. The team and I will hit 10,000 records of deadly police violence on Jan. 1. That means we'll have complete data for 2013, 2014 and 2015 and complete data for 22 states going back to 2000.

In the meantime, our Fatal Encounters app will go up for sale on iTunes on December 21.