Saturday, July 31, 2004

Say, cheese. . .come on. . .SAY IT!

The day of the big grandkids photo shoot has come and gone. I survived and I think even with all the stress of coordinating this, it was really worthwhile. Between four brothers, three states and five cities, what seemed like an impossible event became possible. It took a little bit of luck and more patience than I think I'll ever be able to muster again. I took a couple hundred shots, but this picture of my children and all my nephews and my niece is what made the event special. This was the first time all of them have been in the same place at the same time and the only photograph of them all together.

Dellis (Action-Wife) and I claim the girl on the left, the guy with the hair and glasses standing to the rear and the girl sitting up front (Dania, Jannon, and Camia). Photographers who have to deal with this type of thing on a daily basis have my sympathy. I only had to do it this once and I'm ready to go back to crime and natural disasters.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Toys for the poor

Nice small story today. A toy loan program for low income families. Nice easy day. Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. . .
. . .so, here's the first beFrank classic. He's been in the news lately, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

I'm not a fan of Al Sharpton, but I did enjoy his speaking at a small local church.

Back in 2002, Al Sharpton came to town to protest the beating of a youth by Inglewood police officer. After the press conference I gathered up my gear and started to make my way back to my news van. It was suprising to bump into Al at the bottom of the escalator. He was by himself and I was by myself. It was another surreal moment in my life. I nodded and he turned away and ignored me. Black with a news camera must equal not black anymore.

Sure seems like more

6.25 %

My weblog owns 6.25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

I nicked this from gemmak's sight as I was blogging through quickly this morning. I fully expect this percentage to go up.

Thanks gemmak.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dam fine story!

Welcome to my day. Assignment: Drive big SAT truck to Ojai and put reporter on TV one time. Drive home. I'm tired because there's a lot more to it than that one sentence.
Reason #1536 why I like working news. Going where others can't go.
This is a dam in the Ojai area of Southern California. The idea of tearing it down is being discussed. I'm conflicted about the issue because removing the dam will return parts of the area to a state closer to what it was before people started screwing with it. The problem with the dam is that sediment has built up to the point of making the dam useless. The dam is 150 feet tall, but the water is only 15 feet deep. It was cool. It looked like I could walk across it. I think it has an aged look that adds something to the area. If they tear it down, well, that would just be one of the coolest things ever! Tear it down and let the water just crash through the valley. Sweet.

Dam, it's Action-Man. Get it? Dam? (sigh)

Maybe this should be up front?

This is part of a message I posted as a comment, but I thought it might be missed and I'd really like some feedback from the people who visit my blog.

. . .I've covered some pretty big breaking news stories, like the shuttle crash, the Peterson investigation and trial, the Dallas church shooting, the return of Elizabeth Smart, and recently President Reagan's funeral (that's just off the top of my head). Some of these have cool stories or behind the scenes points of interest (not like my run-in with the San Diego Navy base security, that was just silly). Should I be dipping into the past history pool? A lot of news tends to be forgotten, even by the people who cover it. I know the people involved are affected in ways I can't imagine and sometimes that does sadden me. What I witness is often traumatic and emotionally scarring for the people involved. Often, all I can do is be professional and sensitive to the nature of the stories that I cover. As much as I enjoy my job, I'd love to never cover another funeral or intrude on another person's time of grief.

I'm starting to rant, but the question remains. Does anybody want to know the stuff from the past?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Courtney Love makes an appearance

This was the only shot I had time to snap. It's really difficult to hold the news camera in one hand and the digital still camera in the other. This is where we get our bad name, but don't feel too sorry for Courtney. She could have done her talking from behind a roped off area. As a matter of fact, she was parked on the other side of the building. We were shooting a press conference with the prosecution attorney when she came out to talk one-on-one with a reporter. We bailed on the attorney and converged on Courtney.

This is what the state of competition is like between news organizations. Everybody into the pool.
Courtney Love in court. Okay, in my van. Wait, okay, wait, on tape in my van.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Drama close to home

Sorry for not posting today, but I had my hands full.
My home was broken into this morning.

We're all safe and nothing of value was taken, but I'm sure you can all understand that this was quite an upsetting experience. I'll check in later and share what I can.

Base Security

I started writing up my encounter with the base security and I guess it seemed a lot funnier and more interesting when I was suffering from lack of sleep. I wrote out about half of it and heck, even I was getting bored. Can we forget I mentioned it and move on to the new week? It is Monday and I'm back on dayside until Friday. If anyone cares, I'll email it to the curious.

Action-Wife and I had breakfast together and I'm going to drop her lunch off at her school on my way to work this morning (leftover Chinese take-out, mmmm). I'm looking forward to the week. I don't want anything bad to happen. If it does, I just hope I'm there to cover it.

The USS Reagan was one big boat. . .
. . .really big. . .

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Bat out of San Diego!

Finished the day at 12:30am. Last satellite window opened at 11:05. I did nod off briefly at 10:40pm, but was fully awake by 10:50pm. We did the live shot and I had all the gear stowed and rolling out towards the hotel at 11:45pm.

I was forced to jump on the wrong freeway entrance because I had driven off and didn't notice the passenger side mirror was turned out too far to be of any use to anyone driving the vehicle. Anyone working in TV news might guess the likely suspect to be the reporter checking hair and makeup before the live shot. I got a nice scenic tour of another part of San Diego and I know exactly how to get to the zoo for future reference.

Got back to the hotel and paid for 24 hours of internet access. Fell asleep on the bed before the beFrank blog could finish loading. I think I had no business trying to update the blog after an 18 hour day.

Woke up at 5:30am. Got up, dressed, and hit the road by 6:00am. Made it back to the station in just under two hours. Spoke to Action-Wife and wrapped up the morning by putting away the extra cabling and field tapes.

Hugs, kisses, and breakfast were waiting for me at home. We hit the farmers market and did some yard work. I'm rushing because we're running out to take care of errands and just be with each other for the rest of the day. I may post some more later, but more than likely, I'll be falling asleep early this evening. I hope the people who read this can tell that even though not much went on, those long days and driving do take a toll. More interesting stuff happened than I have time to post right now. I still have to tell you all about my unfortunate encounter with the base security.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Battle stations! Man the newsvans!

If the news media and the US Navy had a fight, I bet the US Navy would win. We have more vans, but they have weapons and stuff (we'd put it on TV better). They hate it when I tout our broadcast superiority. Ha-ha!

If you notice the time, this picture was taken this morning and made it to the blog from the navy base before the ceremony was over. That's pretty cool to me.

ps- AW I miss you, AM
AM in the am
The USS Ronald Reagan in the am.

People who read my blog know my feelings about this boat. I stand by that, but I do have to admit that as I stood on the pier and watched it slowly pull up. My heart was proud and I felt what everyone must have felt at seeing this boat. If you have a problem with the USA? Work it out. You don't want to f*** with us. Okay? Serious.

The Pen or the Sword

I'm still groggy from being woke up by calls settling the last details for tomorrow. I've had a bite to eat in the hotel bistro (hot wings and a seafood pasta dish) and I'm in for the night.

Action-Wife is missing me at home. We just got off the phone talking about the hundred and one things we've missed in the run of the day we've been apart. It's nice to know we still enjoy talking on the phone to each other. That's one of the things married couples often lose after spending so many years together.

My day tomorrow is going to be longer than I thought. I have to be up at 5:30am so I can pick up my press credential and be on base by 8:00am. I'll help out the morning crew and take over the SAT truck near noon.

I've got the weekend off after I get back to Los Angeles. Action-Wife and Action-Kid will probably go see a movie with me, but I don't really care so much what we do. It'll be nice to just be home again. It was just a short trip, but I've been working a lot of long days recently and spending way too much time in traffic.

I'll have a couple of pictures tomorrow of the Reagan aircraft carrier. The kid in me thinks those big boats are pretty darned impressive. I'm thankful for having the military, but I don't think people make the connection when they see those boats. I find it a little sad that so much of our efforts as a country have to go into means of destruction. That might not be the best way to look at it. I just know the world I'd like to live in wouldn't need an aircraft carrier. On the other hand, as much as I hate being a hypocrite, since I live in the real world, maybe I'll take two.

On top of everything else, I forgot to order a beer with my dinner. Dang.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

That's the USS Nimitz in the background.
The media wranglers.
The cab ride back to the hotel.

I'm having a tough day, make it a venti

If other TV news operations are sending at least three guys to do the set-up for an event and we're only sending me, I can't help but feel like maybe we need one or two more me. With that said, let me just put it out up front, this day is kickin' my butt. It's bad when I'm in the middle of a tough day and can't really complain because there are jobs a heck of a lot tougher than mine (wink-wink, middle school teacher). As I sit here drinking coffee at Starbucks, I can't help but feel a little guilty. I'm done setting up the SAT truck at the base and I was hopping to catch up, but this Starbucks doesn't have a wi-fi hot spot. I think I'll wander around a bit and see if there's anything of interest going on in the area. I'd like to get some sleep, but the hotel won't let me check in until 3:00pm. Oh, oh, also, Coronado Bridge traffic. Now, that's a new kind of hell I hadn't met before.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Road Trip!

After a week of mostly fire coverage, I'll be heading off to do something a little different tonight. The station is sending me down to San Diego for an event at the Navy base. I don't have much in the way of details, but here's what I know so far.

My call time is 3:00am. I check out the satellite truck and leave for San Diego between 3am and 4am. I drive directly to the base and set up the truck. The cut-off time is 8:00am for getting the truck situated. After setting up (about 30minutes), I'm to take a cab over to my hotel. I'll have my out of town bag (clothes and essentials always packed and ready for short trips anywhere in the country), my Olympus E10 digital camera, and my laptop. The laptop carrying case will contain half a dozen magazines. I might have to bring my news camera with me from the truck. That means a run bag with extra tapes, the batteries and microphones. I take a cab to whatever hotel they've reserved. Check in and very likely go to sleep. This should all be done before noon and I'll have the rest of the day free.

My call time the next day is noon, so I'll start at 9am or 10am, have breakfast and get back to the base, taking my work gear, laptop, and digital camera. I'll get some water and snacks on the way and work single or multiple live hits for each newscast (12noon, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, until the last newscast of the day at 11pm). If all is well with the SAT truck. I'll drive it back to the hotel and crash until morning. Check out in the morning and drive back to Los Angeles. Gas up the truck, stow any extra gear that doesn't stay in the truck and head for home. Unless there's a huge breaking story, I'm done for the day and might be home before noon.

I don't know how many people might find any of this interesting, but that's what a typical out of town trip is like. In between live shots, I'll grab some food and take digital stills (which I will blog). I can use my cell phone and my laptop (if I have a strong enough signal) to post to the blog during the day. Meals are covered by a travel per diem of $50.00 a day. If I have time, I will go to the fanciest eatery availble, but I often have to just grab fast food and stay close to the truck.

You know, when I read this, I keep wondering where the Action-Man name came from. This seems kind of dull. I'm gonna look a little harder at that bounty hunter career I had considered or maybe I'll just go in at my regular time on Sunday and cover a completely different story. That's part of the beauty of my life. Almost every day there's something new and different. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Self-portrait on the front line

Finally! I'm back on-line. After losing a lengthy post about the firefighters and the job they do, I'm finally back to full speed with no sudden drops. Of course, now the moment has passed and I don't think I could recreate the same intensity that I had when I tried to post it the first time around. Dang.

Jamming with the boys in orange.
Action-man out in the middle of nowhere.
The Foothill fire layed down for the evening.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Foothill Fire

I just want to get a decent shot and not get my camera wet. Sometimes that's more difficult than it might seem.

These guys are brave and saved some homes this weekend. I admire what they do, but the fire was moving pretty quick. They hopped into their vehicles and got the hell out of there a few minutes after this picture was taken. We were left just standing around and wondering if they were coming back. One of their PIO's (Public Information Officers) came by and suggested we move down the hill.
The smoke blocked out the sun and gave everything a nice orange glow.
There's Action-Man standing over a burned out hillside.
Is anybody keeping count of the fires?

Edwards, your chariot awaits

Did I say chariot?  I meant charter.
J. Edwards heads for the next stop on the meet and greet tour. It felt a little funny because all the other crews must have gotten their shots at the event he attended prior to his departure from LAX.
I didn't think he was gonna wave to us as he boarded the plane, so I waved to him.  He gave me a wave and a big ol' sincere thumbs up.  I was counting the seconds as I recorded the shot.  That's so I would know for editing.

We were the only news crew that showed up for this leg of the Edwards junket. We were outnumbered by the security team about ten to one. They still ran the K-9 dog through our van.
I hope you can see that mushroom cloud in the distance. That's where I ended up.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Fire Season? Nope, Try Political Season

This was the Kerry/Edwards dinner and rally at the Universal Hilton right next to Universal Studios. Details to follow later today. Edwards made the appearance.

Edwards at a politcal rally last night

Back to Pine Canyon

Our studio for the night. Burned out area where we set up. I'm still not caught up for the week and I have to go to work. Thanks for your patience. I'll try to update more during the day.

A fellow photographer pointed this little guy out while I was scrambling to set up a live satellite shot. Freaked out? You betcha. I know these are common in many places, but I have never seen one this big just passing through. I just have to wonder, if there's one are there more?
Pan-o-rama of the Pine Canyon fire. Still burning since Monday. Took the SAT truck up there. I love running the SAT truck, but I'd like to get a little closer to the story. I have an interesting behind the scenes story regarding a suspected arsonist. I can't tell it because I'm not sure where the cops are in their investigation. Nothing major, but this is one of the times where discretion on my part will probably go a long way towards keeping me out of trouble with my employer.

You want fries with that? Oh, you did.

I like to think I'm a pretty capable man. This point became the subject of debate around the news desk recently. On my way to lunch last weekend one of the desk folk asked if I'd be willing to pick him up some food.  No problem, but anytime I'm sent out of the house Action-Wife pins a note to my chest.  It's a list detailing every item by size, quantity, and brand.  We've developed that system after years of frustration.  The criteria for a note is simple and even my children know the procedure.  Is it more than one item?  If it's more than one item, give Daddy a list.
I tried to explain this to my co-worker.  When I got back to the station and the food was checked.  I got a question of (not a direct quote), "Where are the fries?"
I laughed.  We both laughed.  I called Action-Wife.  She laughed.  Her laugh made me nervous and maybe a little scared.  I'm sure it was from the years of frustration, but still it was a laugh.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Uh-oh. That ain't good.

My home network has been acting up since last night.  Slowly I'm getting it back to normal, but this is a little traumatic.  No new pictures until after my shift today.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm going into withdrawal.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Come on, everybody Monday!

People are trying to convince me that I am the laziest blogger alive. It's not in what they say. It's just that I go to other pages and see so much cool stuff that I don't have. I'm ashamed to admit that I am envious. It's not that I'm a slouch when it comes to being a technogeek. I can geek-a-fy with the best of them and I'm a little Matrix-y when it comes to reading page code. My big technological jump from the standard template was the page counter I put up. I don't think it's working.

I have to return to work today, so at least I'll probably have some pictures tomorrow. I'd like to put some links on my page to the blogs that I'm reading and that's my next big paradigmn shift. After that I may redesign the whole look of my blog. I think I'll call that project "Longhorn". . .what?. . .oh, sorry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Community Service

Action-Wife and I went out on a date after I got home from work last Sunday. That's her weekend and I usually like to take her out for dinner, a movie, drinks, something, anything! She teaches middle-school and brother, let me tell you, I feel like I'm doing the students a great service by helping her decompress at the end of her week. I've talked to people at the post-office. Seriously, they worry about someone coming in and going all "middle-school teacher".

They lay out a paper tablecloth and give everyone at the table crayons to play with. It might seem strange, but I have a ball with it evey time we go there. (yes, I drink Peroni when I'm there)

I made it!

It's the weekend. At least it's my weekend. This is supposed to be a pretty big week for me. There are personal things going on in my life. Some of it I don't mind sharing with the world and some a little too personal.

I'll never be Donald Trump doing what I do for a living, but being rich was never a real goal of mine. I just bought a plane ticket for my Harvard daughter to come home later in the month. My son, who lives in the San Francisco area is coming for a visit and I have a niece who is visiting with my mother until the end of the month. I have two brothers who also live in the Los Angeles area. The oldest brother has two sons and my next oldest brother has three sons. With my daughter flying in, it's like the final piece of a puzzle falling into place. This will be the first time that we can get all the grandchildren of my parents together. Can you say, "photo-op"?

With the logistics of planning around a couple of my older nephews' work schedules, I'll have a one or two hour window of opportunity. I'm feeling the Mission Impossible music going in my head. My job could easily sink my plans, but I try not to worry about that.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Chopper drop

That's vodka and propaganda spreading over the hills.
It's 3:00am and I ache from head to toe. I just got home from work. We covered a fire out near the Kearn County line. Big blaze, much more difficult than the fire from Sunday.

When you've got this many people in such a tight space it can be dangerous. We tried to not be a problem for the firefighters. This was another sat truck day for me.

Hot and dirty work.
Burn baby, burn.
This was a pretty bad fire. I was just happy to not be going to Twentynine Palms.
It's hot here on the front line.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Come on, baby. Light my. . .

Here's a shot from the fireline. Snnnnnnnnniff, I love that smokey smell.

Covered a fire out in the Pomona, California area today. Second one this month in a dry set of hills just south of the 10 freeway. Screwed up traffic and scared some local residents (the fire, not us). We got to drive along the closed off section of the freeway. If anyone is wondering, we like doing that. We REALLY like doing that. The people in cars who flip us off as we drive past? We don't like that so much.