Monday, November 29, 2004

Don't even try to imagine the pain

The first draft of this was posted from Starbucks during my lunch hour last night. I cleaned it up a bit and added pictures from the location of our live-shot. The park was the location where a teenager was abducted. The teenager was later killed and last night we spoke with the teenager's mother.

Ouch. This is starting to be just too painful. Not the slow load times of the blog, I'm talking about jumping from a night with no story to a night with a heart wrenching loss story.

First, let me thank everyone for wishing me and the Frank family well over the Thanksgiving holiday. I had a lot of fun over the weekend and that makes up completely for the depressing day I had on Thanksgiving day.

My strange new schedule has kept me off balance for the last few weeks and I'm finding myself face down on my keyboard far more often that is proably healthy. I've been through a lot in the last few weeks and I keep trying to hang onto the thoughts and feelings for the blog, but it's difficult. My grown up children were in town and that was huge, but I'm also hitting big dips in the emotional road. Covering stories involving death and shooting a couple of chilling interviews. I have my lunch hour to tap out a few lines just to let eveyone know I'm still alive and well (okay, alive anyway).

On the big story tonight, I shot an interview with a woman who lost her teenage son to violence several years ago. He was killed by an associate of his older brother. Drugs were involved and the associate has suprisingly eluded the law since the incident took place.

The woman has held it togther, but just barely. She's done the best she could to deal with the loss of her child, but the weight of her sadness is too much. She spoke to us in a very matter of fact tone and told us of her struggle with alcoholism and admitted during our interview to several suicide attempts.

She and her husband have recently sold their home. They're in the process of moving and boxes filled with scrapbooks and items relating to her son's life and murder were stacked high in the living room. I appreciated her candor even though she was initially hesitant to speak with us. Since her son's suspected murderer is still out there somewhere, there's been no closure. The woman can't let go of her pain and she looked haunted by it all.

I'm not comparing anything I felt to what she's dealing with, but it was difficult when she allowed me to go into the room that was his bedroom and videotape. She's kept it almost exactly as it was when he died. I thought she might break down at any moment during the interview and even after, but she didn't. She was strong, but I wonder if it was the kind of strength that comes from having been through hell.

I wish her well. I hope they catch the guy. I wish I had words to offer that might have been of some comfort. All I could do was thank her for sharing her pain and tolerating our interview.

The reporter and I have to go put the story together for our 11:00pm newscast.

Hug your kids and hold them close.

Friday, November 26, 2004

No news is bad news

It's lunchtime on a Friday night. I should be crashing a package or putting a reporter on TV. This is my evening. Don't think for one minute that I'm happy about it.

(You remember Joel Connable?) Okay, I'm not completely unhappy. We're at Starbucks instead of a crime scene. It's just one of those nights where nothing is breaking and the story we were covering decided to evaporate. We'll pick it up on Monday. Until something happens tonight.

We'll finish off my lunchbreak here and then most likely wait for a breaker.

By the way, I've got my Thanksgiving story to tell. I know it was yesterday and I tend to want to move on, but I'm just not done with it yet. There was just a lot of stuff going on that the folks watching our newscast will never know.

I'll "be" seeing you later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A night at the opera (PART II)

Getting dressed up and going out on the night before Thanksgiving isn't something I'd recommend. I'm not sure what posessed Dellis and I to drag our overworked selves out to another opera when there's so much to do for tomorrow. I think we look good though.

It was quite the romantic evening. We had dinner at Pinot's Grill outside of the music center under the stars. You couldn't even tell from my smile that we were going to see another opera.

I'll say it again, because a lot of people still don't believe me. I enjoyed the production of "Carmen" we saw last month and I don't mind going to the opera. It was fun to put on a tie and dress up to go out for the evening.

It helped my disposition for me to have tried a new beer with our dinner. Bless the Czech Republic. They helped me gain a new level of appreciation for opera.

I enjoyed the performance and I was awake for a lot of it. The story in La Boheme was easy to follow because it was a lot like the TV show "Friends", except Rachel (Mimi) died at the end.

Next season they could have a spin off that features the character of Colline leaving Paris to seek an acting career in maybe like England. Then when the show isn't doing too well, they could have Marcello and some of the other characters come and visit. Just maybe not Mimi, because she's still dead.

I hope everyone has reason to smile today. I have to go to work, but I'll be able to spend the evening with my family. If you're travelling, "beCareful". If you're not where you'd like to be today, try to keep it in perspective. Tomorrow is another day and as long as we're living, we can work to make our lives better.

It ain't over until the fat lady sings.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Miles to go before I sleep

Just a quick post to express a couple of thoughts I had while catching up with friends this morning.

I never travelled much in my childhood and I still have a suprisingly narrow view when it comes to picking up and going anywhere (mmm, comfy chair). Travelling was defined by how my father took us on an annual visit (pilgrimage?) at Christmas to see my grandparents in Louisiana. I like that it was important to him and we shared in that. It just seems that we may have missed something, because we saw the states between here and there, but spent no time at all exploring what lies between.

I'm away from home a lot. I'm the most travelled of the four sons of my parent's household, but I have barely covered very much ground in the US. Not counting a honeymoon with Action-Wife in Mexico (and a dip down south of Tijuana), I've never been outside of the United States. It's really just making me stop and think.

My two oldest children have been as far as Japan and my son backpacked across Europe and India for no reasons other than his own. Scooter, my youngest child has had summer camps and school trips across the country and saw Times Square and the World Trade Center before 9/11 without the shadow of her parents clouding the view. I hope she appreciates the treasure of that memory.

I lay awake Monday night feeling out of sorts because of all the things that I know I still have to do. There's the disposition of my speeding ticket, NaNoWriMo isn't going to "wri" itself (heh-heh, let's call it NaNoWriYr), and the never-ending list goes on.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I'd like to see more of the planet and I'd like to accomplish more to make a difference in my life and the lives of my family and friends. I constantly work towards goals and the wheels are turning. It's just so frustrating, because I know that life is short. I take some comfort in knowing there's a good chance my kids will finish for me anything important I might leave undone.

Well, the sun is out and Lucky is squawking. There are places I want to see, people I want to meet, and things I want to do. It's already been a busy week and it doesn't look to be any less busy through the holidays. Through it all I'm feeling more and more each day as if I'd like to pack up the family and head to Louisiana for the holidays.

Maybe by way of North Dakota just to mix it up a bit.

Special thanks to Thomai of "Alithea" for the link to the visited states map and to Buzz for his email that mentioned my "run bag" (one of the things that got my gears turning).

ps- Go MAGZ, GO!

Monday, November 22, 2004

That's right, I'm a cold cold man!

Where do I start? It takes a lot to get me out of my comfy chair on a Sunday afternoon.

A call from work? Yeah, that'll do it.

I got a call asking if I could come in to run the satellite truck for live shots from the Wrightwood area. Pardon me, but what the hell was I thinking? It really didn't sink in right away. I'd gone out chasing snow three times recently. It shocked the heck out of me to actually be driving through falling snow.

We crawled our way through the snow and an 11:00pm live-shot. We put the first set of chains on the SAT truck and made it into Wrightwood after midnight. The road to the hotel was too steep for the SAT truck and we lost the snow chains. It was dark and cold and snowing. Those three things don't go together well. My room had a fireplace, but no firewood. Call time for the morning liveshots? Yeah, let's hear it for 3:30am. Oh, and no internet access. Welcome to a hunk of my life on the road.

We missed our first slot because of trees and limited truck mobility. I tried to move it a few feet to clear the tree that was giving me the most trouble. The truck slid into a snow bank and I declared it a good spot. I popped the dish and got us on the satellite. A little late, but at least we didn't lose the truck.

My feet were freezing all day long.

We put the second set of chains on the SAT truck, got breakfast and then went up to the Mountain High ski resort for our next set of live-shots. Anybody keeping track of the time? I'm going on two hours of sleep and I went on the clock at 6:00pm yesterday.

After two more live-shots, we're cleared to pack it up and head back to Hollywood. We crawl back down the mountain.

Twenty-two hours later I clock out and end my day. Dellis and Camia are happy to see me home this evening and I'm absolutely about to drop.

For a guy who likes being at home and enjoys the time he gets to spend with his family, I'm soaking up a lot of overtime and out of town trips this month. I know folks get a kick out of seeing where I'm going to turn up covering the news. If it's all the same to you guys, can I PLEASE take it easy for a few days?

Aw, who am I kidding? The next time the phone rings and it's the job calling, I'll toss the run bag in the jeep, kiss the family and try to "be" wherever it is that they need me. It's in my blood and I really enjoy it even on these long days.

Yeah, I'm enjoying it, but I'm still kind of hoping someday they need me to "be" somewhere in a comfy chair.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Got Jesus?

First assignment got cancelled. It involved ice skating (don't ask). So, I ended up helping crews covering the Billy Graham event at the Rose Bowl last night.

I'm sure other people would disagree with me, but I can't help but feel that this guy is getting too old for this.

It wasn't a full house, but quite a respectable number of folks showed up. As an adult, I've had a tendency to hold on to the same spiritual beliefs that I had growing up in a catholic household. I've taken issue with some catholic doctrine over the years and I don't attend mass, but being a catholic is a large part of my core beliefs and values.

But even with the protestors, it was a moving experience to see so many people willing to come out and participate in a religious fellowship. It was uplifting.

I just hope these signs were left over from the last non-religious function and weren't there just for that day. I'd feel a little disturbed by the corporate sponsorship.

Although, you have to know that my uplifted spiritual feeling might have been influenced by the one in the middle.

Hey, I just realized it's Friday. Blessed "be" the Lord!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What happens in the SAT truck stays. . .

Sorry for the abbreviated captions, but I'm about to drop. Enjoy the pictures and I'll add some commentary in the morning.

Heading to Vegas.

I look back on the last two days and it's all a blur. I was there for every step of the way, but it's like waking up from a wild weekend (not that I would know) and not remembering right away where you are.

Photo by Matt West. I tossed my camera out to him as I left the lot on Tuesday morning at 10:30am. I planned to meet the crew in Vegas at about 5:00pm. I knew we'd have tape to feed back to the station before 6:00pm, so the clock was ticking.

On the road, but not sure where. Dang, I should have written this stuff down. The KCAL SNG truck is also known as "Big Blue" and sometimes as "The Kidney Killer".

Hitting the strip.

Two paragraphs later and I'm there. Okay, maybe it was more involved, but the trip was uneventful. I got to Vegas about 4:45pm. That's good time, but I felt every mile of that road.

New York x2.

I was happy with this shot. Just driving through looking for the hotel and thought the angle and lens was about right. These shots need a little tweeking, but my lack of sleep was getting the better of me when I finally got to post.

Stayed at the Monte Carlo.

I didn't have my gamblin' jar with me, but they still managed to part seventy-five cents from my pockets. I threw a tantrum and got tossed from the casino. . .okay, I just thought about it. Next time, I'm going to try it just for fun. Do the Vegas jails have internet access?

Live-shot from the Vegas Strip.

The actual reason for being there? We were covering a reunion of the "Amazing Race" participants. It's funny, but I got a lot of people telling me how much they loved the show.

Recognize this couple? Think "Amazing Race".

Yes, Chip and Kim were as nice as they seemed to be on the show. Same for the bowling moms. All the Race people who were there seemed pretty nice. I didn't pick up on any bad feelings between any of them and I thought that was pretty nice.

The "Race" folks who came out for our live-shot stayed after to take pictures and nice to everyone. They even signed a few autographs and posed for pictures with some tourists who were fans of the show.

The trip back was uneventful. I had a busy day at home planned so there was not to be any rest for the weary.

Just another day at the office.

Want to know something that I find to be sort of cool, but doesn't mean anything important? The SAT truck has to stop at the highway scales. I get to line up with the 18 wheelers and waste a couple of minutes. It's a pain when I'm in a hurry, but it's just something kind of odd that most people wouldn't think about (or care about probably).

I survived another day. Nobody died to give me something to do and nothing I did caused any harm. That's good, really good. I'll be spending my overtime pay with a clear conscience. Starbucks anybody?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Monday Now!

Starbucks. I can't believe I'm still in Starbucks. Paraphrasing movie quotes, for gosh sakes. That's got to be a sure sign that I'm spending too much time here. The horror. I have become the yuppie that I fought (and to be honest, ridiculed) for so very long.

It's been a couple of days since I last posted anything on the blog and I have to admit a certain amount of guilt. I'm sure all bloggers go through this, but I had found a comfortable spot in life where I was living with very few regrets. Balancing my on-line presence with real world responsibilities is a difficult juggling act. I'm also having a helluva time adjusting to having weekends off. I know some people would kill for the opportunity to be home on the weekends, but it doesn't really work for my situation.

You see, it's simple. My weekend schedule was a daytime shift. That put me away from home at night only three days a week. Dellis and I both managed to accomplish a lot in the time we had at home alone and neither of us felt as if we were neglecting the other. Craptastic (sucktacular?) new schedule; Monday through Friday nightside. I don't see the Action-Wife and Scooter unless I get up with them for breakfast (which I do). The problem is, the lack of sleep and since AW is a teacher, she needs time on the weekend to prepare for her classes, run errands, and other stuff (which as a mere mortal male, I will never ever fully understand).

I'm sure I can adjust, but it was a rough week and I just feel like I never managed to catch up enough to be able to enjoy the weekend.

That's just what I'm dealing with right now. In middle of all this, I'm still trying to crank out a few pages of the novel I'm working on for NaNoWriMo. It started off well, but I'm kind of stuck on a follow-up to a line where a character says, "All work and no play, makes Jack. . ."

Oh, and this just in:

I may have shared this before, but I love the work of a Romanian artist by the name of Anca Ionescu.

Action-Wife gifted me a couple of her serigraphs a while back, but I was having a difficult time finding anyone who still carries her work (at a price I can afford).

Well, I stumbled across a seller on eBay. I bought this piece last week and I'm having it framed. I may buy one more out of the DC election trip windfall.

The rest of the week is looking up. I expect to hit the road tomorrow for an overnight SNG trip to Las Vegas. I have recent fond memories that are going to be traveling with me and I hope I get some down time to snap a few pics and maybe keep hammering at my novel's page count.

I know AW worries when I have a bad week on the job and I still haven't shared the details of stories that I covered last week. For me and the people I bring along for the ride of my life, I have a saying that I've kind of butchered over the years that keeps me going.

"Life is neither all good, nor is it all bad and it's never either for very long."

I promise to attribute that to whoever is responsible for it (and possibly even correct it) if someone knows where it came from. In the meantime, I'll take the good with great enthusiasm. The bad? I accept the bad by grabbing it around the neck and twisting it into a full hammerlock before wrestling it to the ground. Then I put it into a sleeper hold and pin it for a three count. I have to be careful, Bad can sneak up after the count and hit me in the back of the head with a folding chair like a heavy blunt analogy.

Okay, I'm feeling good today, but that's all the time I have for blogging. Go out and beGood, save the world one small warm happy good deed at a time.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Getting out of bed. . .

. . .that was my first mistake.

People who work in news are notoriously known for their consumption of alcohol. Now, I joke about drinking much more than I actually put away. I have a five (oops) four pack of Pete's Wicked Ale sitting in my fridge that started out as a six pack when I first mentioned it a while back on my blog. Dellis and I will share a bottle of wine with dinner and I think it's cool to whip up Bananas Foster or a simple bowl of ice cream with a chocolate liqueur drizzled on top. The liquor industry would be in trouble if it depended on us and don't get me started on the bars I don't go to. I have friends who drink less than me and I have friends who drink more than me. . .me, you, the both of us and your uncle or aunt that doesn't get invited to holiday dinner anymore since that incident with the good towels.

I don't give up on life. In my mind, there is always tomorrow and the race to win is absolutely about the route and not about who crosses the finish line first. Working in news, I get to see life first hand. Some people who are richer than me aren't as happy. Some people with less in the way of material goods, don't have a care in the world and live only for the moment. I'm comfortable with who I am, but come on, who doesn't dream of one or the other at some point.

So, we do what we can in the pursuit of the life we want to live. Everybody has their own sayings or mantra that helps them get through the tough days. My personal favorite is, "It's just another day at the office". I should get it printed on a t-shirt.

Yesterday was just another day at the office. Yeah, and if ever there was a day where going home, crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over my head was the best option, then yesterday was it.

Hmm. . .that's funny. . .I seem to be getting over it. You know what? It was a tough day, but that was yesterday. I'm over it. Hoo-boy, this blog is freaking great. I probably just saved a buttload of cash on therapy. Thanks for listening.

I'm pretty sure there was a lesson to be learned here, but darned if I can figure out what it might "be".

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I'm trying to pace myself

It's been slow. My schedule changed this week (not for the better, I liked working weekends) and I've been devoting what would normally be blogging time to my NaNoWriMo project. I imagine there might be a few of my regular readers who are questioning how I could dare abandon them. I guess on the infrequent day that I am bored, I just feel silly posting an announcement of the fact that I'm bored.

Last night I spent my shift covering the crackdown on illegal parking along Los Angeles streets during rush hour. The story itself was interesting and I got a chance to jump out of the newsvan to roll on cars about to be towed off. That got my blood pumping, but we were done shooting in an hour.

We had a lot of people asking about the story, because other stations were also covering it. It really turned into a night of public interruptions. We were parked near a videogame store and people also stopped to ask if we were there for the Halo2 debut.

The high point of the evening was setting up a liveshot in front of the Borders bookstore at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. Did I spend my downtime browsing? You betcha. Wi-fi and coffee, first liveshot in the 10:00pm newscast, it don't get much better than this.

I suppose I could write about having lunch at "Hot Wings" on Melrose, but people who don't know the Hollywood area might not care. There's also the night out with Action-Wife over the weekend, but as fun as it was for us (yay, for "The Incredibles!"), it all seems so mundane when compared to my previous week (ha-ha, look at me, I'm blaming the election).

The novel is going well. Trudging along, but I'm happy to be writing again. I have to remember to be thankful for all the positive things I have in my life. That includes the patience of the beFrank regulars.

I'll be on the look-out for something interesting to post. I really don't want to change my name to InAction-Man.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Bukowski would be so ashamed of me

Working on my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month) stuff . It's poetically beautiful and sunny in my world today and that makes up for the non-story at work last night. Drove the SNG truck up to Frasier Park to look for snow. That's driving almost to Bakersfield. I didn't mind the drive so much, but no snow was to be found.

That the third wild snow hunt I've been on and if you don't count my reflection in the review mirror, I haven't seen one flake yet. Three strikes, and damn if I don't still have one more day of work this week.

I've already had to get a late start on the novel because of my, you know, exhaustion and all.

I have good idea about the story and I've sketched a rough outline of where I want to go. I have no idea how my characters are going to get there, but I guess that's part of the fun. Good luck to everyone else writing.

Chai Tea Latte for me, I'll move on to the hard stuff later in the month.

It does a novel good, but I wish they called it something less girly. It's a good thing I'm a confident Action-Man. Maybe, I'll call it "Spiced Boiled Leaf Cocktail". Yeah, I know it'll never sell like that. It's a shame that I need people to believe it's something different from what it really is. You gotta hand it to the folks who work in marketing. We all need our illusions at times, especially when we need to justify ordering what we really want, but don't feel comfortable with what it is.

I'm gonna go get a refill on my "Hunt For Weapons of Mass Destruction" and make it a venti.

Happy writing, boys and girls.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The fight ain't over until. . .HE WHAT?

Kerry conceded and life goes on.

I'm back from Washington, DC safe and sound. It's great to be home. My family was happy to see me. Dellis is still in recovery mode and Scooter as a teenager was busy not having anything to do with me, so I slept (hibernated) for close to twelve hours. I don't feel any worse for the wear.

The sun came up this morning and I'll be going to work later today. These are the last shots of Washington DC that I thought might be good to share.

This is Union Station. It was a great place for me to have lunch on Tuesday, but I voted not to have the tuna sandwich.

It's filled with shops and places to eat. Crazy as it might sound, I understand you can also catch a train there. Really a fascinating place.

An interior of the mall at Union Station in Washington, DC.

I've spent part of the morning consoling friends who are saddened by Kerry's loss in the election. I take too much pride in being a level-headed and responsible person to let the election results get me down.

I love hot-dog carts. Not too crazy about food-poisoning, but we all make our choices in life.

I know what happens in Washington may have a great affect on my life or the lives of my children and I would never want people to think that it doesn't matter who leads this country.

Japanese Maple trees in the courtyard to the CBS Newspath office.

It matters greatly who leads this country, but what matters even more to me is who leads my life. I do. I'm happy because nobody has a greater impact on the quality of my life than me. How I live as a person of courage, intelligence, and character will influence the lives of my family and the people around me more than who sits in the big chair in the oval office.

As things stand for the world I live in, the quality of my life is determined more by the choices I make for myself. I work for a living and like I said, today I'll be going to work. Chances are, I'll do the same tomorrow. There may be repercussions that affect me down the line, but my world isn't any more or less perfect for the results of the election.

I don't expect to live in a perfect world. Being the optimist that I am (stop laughing), I'm going to be okay with working towards making the world better in all the ways that I can. That usually means just being a decent human being. So, keep it in mind, the election is done, but regardless of the final tally, it ain't ever really over.