Friday, March 31, 2006

Wow!

Happy Birthday to our youngest daughter. She's 18 today.



She's always made us smile.

(I may have posted this photo before, but it's one of my favorites.)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Like riding a bicycle

Time flies when you're having fun.

It also flies when you're asleep on the balcony of your hotel room and your clothes are half wet because you fell asleep before it started raining. Yeah, good times.



Time to file the vacation memories away. I'm back and I'm trying to get my head in the game.

It wasn't too bad yesterday. My only real goof moment was pulling out of my parking spot with a side panel open on my van. Easily caught and closed by one of my fellow photogs (thanks, Ron Wening).

I hit the road with a reporter. Eager and almost ready to cover the news.



Maybe it's just my experience, but I decided yesterday that the Long Beach Police Department is the most accommodating of all law enforcement agencies.

They're breaking in their recently renovated headquarters and are trying to determine how to best handle parking for the news media. They blocked off a whole lane of traffic for us and yeah, I'm parked in a bus zone. Thanks LBPD.



We actually got called off that story and did some leg work on the story of a man arrested in Orange County on suspicion of murder. The victim was a prostitute found dead in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas (CSI) during a Self-Storage Industry convention last year.

The station had somehow tracked down previous addresses for the guy and we spent the bulk of the evening trying to track down anyone who might have known him.



It was a pretty good hunt. We talked to former co-workers and finally managed to track down a phone number for the suspect's wife.

It wasn't surprising how the conversation with her went. The reporter dialed the number and asked to speak to her. She acknowledged we had the right number. The reporter identified himself as a reporter for CBS2 and KCAL9.

She said, "NO COMMENT" and hung up the phone. Hmm, not really surprising.

I cut a short package and handed everything off to another photographer sent out to handle the liveshot (gotta watch that overtime). I drove home and that was a wrap on my first day back.

Is it just me? I covered a story involving a murdered Las Vegas (CSI) prostitute. Isn't it amazing how details like that become just a matter of fact in the course of what I do?

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Small Steps

We got up Monday morning and the skies were still grey and the rain was still coming down. Really thought we'd gotten a shut out on the sunshine during this vacation trip.



We'd had a good time hanging out, but the rain had really done a number on the island. Nothing to do, but go out and pick up a few trinkets and start wrapping it up.

Then the sun started peeking out and we couldn't believe it.



We took a drive to the North Shore and managed to hit a couple of tourist spots. The water was still less than appealing and I'm pretty sure we didn't find one of the more legendary surfing spots, but I think it was worth the drive.



Not exactly the surfing I had in mind, but it'll do for this vacation. I've got a few memories and a couple of photos that'll keep me warm. I also have some goals for my next Hawaiian vacation.

Maybe by then, the water will have been cleaned up and maybe by then I'll have actually learned to surf.

I'm looking forward to it, but right now I can't wait for my next liveshot. I think it's time to come home.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Next vacation, how about we go to Hawaii?

This sure doesn't feel like the tropical paradise I see in all the brochures.

We've stayed in the room most of the day. I dropped Camia off at her dorm last night because it looked like she might be showing signs of hotel room fever. It's like cabin fever, but with room service.

One of the balconey doves has been hanging out, waiting for the rain to let up. Kind of nice to have the company.



I can't believe there was still more freaking rain this morning. We had the snorkling gear laid out just in case we got a moment or two of clear skies and felt like risking the beach.

Good thing we kept the receipts.

We missed our window of opportunity yesterday morning, but it's just been unbelieveable how much rain has been coming down. I keep thinking when I see the sun, it's going to stay with us for a while.



Then the clouds come back and we get more downpour.

The young one seems to be having fun and having the opportunity to laugh and spend time with her still makes the trip worthwhile, but give me a break.

Whoever is doing the rain dance, just knock it off. Okay?



Well, I'm going to go start reading the book I bought for the flight back and maybe take a nap.

It's the fourth day of our vacation and I'm just starting to get a little "fidgety" like I might be missing a big news story.

On the other hand, maybe it's time for another beer.

I'm enjoying the ride, but somebody wake me when we get to the "real" O'ahu.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vacation Forecast? Ditto.

It had been raining off and on all day. We were driving H1 East to hit Costco (yeah, I know) and saw this wall of water coming down on the road ahead of us.

You know what I was thinking?

 

Cool!

We hit the water about five seconds after I took the first shot. The road was dry and then it was drenched.

 

We passed through the downpour, did our shopping, then raced back to the hotel for dinner. Just so you don't think all we've been doing is shopping, we also hit one of the Botanical Gardens (and did a bit of mall shopping over in Pearlridge).

Later, if the skies are clear, we may do a little moonlight walking along the beach tonight. If the skies aren't clear, then I'm sitting in the hotel bar and making drinking bets with Dellis.

I'll be playing to lose.

More trouble in paradise?

Bring it on.

Just so everyone knows, while I'm on vacation there's not a lot that's going to rain on my parade (except maybe actual rain).

Even if we don't get to do all the things we planned because of the weather, we're still here mainly to spend some time with our youngest daughter. So far, that's been working out well.

It's great to see parts of the life she's creating for herself outside of our home. On the other hand, it's scary at times. I know how random and unforgiving the world can be.

 

Speaking of random, we were on our way out yesterday evening. The plan was to do a little shopping and maybe get dinner and catch a movie.

Then the rain started.

The island got hit with a huge downpour that flooded streets and made driving just a mile or so to the mall a risky venture. We called it a night early and came back to the room. I snapped a couple of shots from the balcony of the city lights, had a couple of beers and enjoyed the view.

We plan on doing something today. Well, the wife and daughter probably plan on doing something.

I did something yesterday.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Trouble in paradise?

We must have angered the tire gods. Everything was set for a day of exploration and we were about to hop in the rental ride, but it wasn't going to happen.

Long story short, I chnged the flat, but the car had to go back to the rental company. Not a good idea to bop around the island without a spare.

 

This story would have ended right there, but the replacement SUV seemed to have a problem with the power sun roof. It wouldn't close and did I mention it's been raining a lot. Yeah, we had to return it also.

Third time's a charm, but instead of heading for the beach, I'm heading for the ABC store for a six pack. After that I'm spending a couple of hours sipping beer and feeding the doves on the balcony.

A lot of work and I ended up exactly where I wanted to be.

Enjoying the view

I've got a rocking hangover. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. It's just an observation. We're staying in an older hotel this time, but the room is great and we have a balcony with a city view.

Dellis and I had breakfast out on the balcony. Nice. Romantic.

At the time, it was noon in Los Angeles.

 

The youngest is doing great and we're heading out to spend some time with her this afternoon. That's probably going to mean less drinking, but more pictures. Of, course, if it keeps raining, it'll mean fewer pictures, but we'll balance that out with something (heh-heh).

Keep your fingers crossed. Clear skies or rain, doesn't matter. I'm on vacation.

Lost

It's our first morning on the mysterious island. Having spent much of the first day unconscious, I'm told it rained through much of the afternoon and through the night.

I've discovered several local drinks the natives call "beer" and a stange mixed beverage they call "mai tai", whose name I'm sure has some hidden meaning in their native language.


Incidentaly, I was surprised to find many of the locals speak english, but for some reason I am having a difficult time conversing with them.

Dellis suspects it may be some hidden effect of the numerous "beer" and "mai tai" drinks I've come to develop a taste for.

I will try to keep you all updated on our progress, but I'm also finding it difficult to operate my computer. I had another post ready to send, but upon re-reading it, I found the wording difficult to follow.

Aloha and Mahalo for now.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In my mind? Heck, I'm already there.

Just to show that I'm not getting lazy in my last days before vacation. Here are a couple of shots from the first story I worked yesterday.



(24 hours later)

Heh-heh, I was going to post about how I wasn't slacking off before my vacation, but that didn't work out too well.



The gentleman at the podium is the Israeli Ambassador. He spoke at the Biltmore Hotel on Tuesday and I got to shoot an interview with him. After shooting a lot of fluff this month, that was pretty awesome.

As difficult as things are between cultures right now, it's a little encouraging to hear someone calmly and reasonable speak about the situation.



Again, I'm sorry for slacking off this week. I had a lot to talk about, but no time to blog it all.

In my defense, I did get a post up on "In the Field". That's my CBS2/KCAL9 blog. Check it out while I pack for vacation.

Does anybody know what the conversion is for Hawaiian money? I called the bank, but they keep hanging up on me.



(2 hours later)

My bag is just about packed and all the electronic gear is charged up. I can't wait to get on the plane and do some serious "vacationing" in Hawaii.

The two last photos are from a liveshot I helped with yesterday. Again, my "In the Field" blog can fill in some of the details.

Well, much love to everyone. I'm shutting the computer down and getting ready for a little bit of adventure. Aloha and Mahalo.

I'm going, but I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Please, pass the poi

It's my last few days before vacation and I'm pressed for time. Over the next couple of days, I bet I have all of five minutes to pack. Plus, I'm still undecided how much of my wired life I'm taking with me.

The new Blackberry and the still camera gear is going. That means the laptop will have to make the trip and since the laptop is going, you can bet I'll be posting from Hawaii.

Maybe Dellis will let me pack a few clothes in her luggage.



Ha-ha, we know that ain't gonna happen. I'll have to worry about it later. For now, let me just get to my day at "the office" yesterday. The big news me was all about our "Governator" holding a huge fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Yup, that's my van parked on the sidewalk. Love doing it, but don't ask me how we get away with it. It's always been done like that and nobody in Beverly Hills (or most of Los Angeles) complains.

We can't pull that crap in Santa Monica though. I think maybe they're still mad at us about the media circus from the OJ civil trial. The only parking tickets I've ever gotten have been in Santa Monica and generally we have to pay for parking tickets ourselves.



We hung out with the folks protesting and their staging point was a small meeting room inside the hotel. I wish I could have taken more pictures of the protestors in action, but I couldn't risk trying to handle both cameras when there was a risk we might have been getting arrested.

See, the protestors were intending to crash the fundraiser and a confrontation was bound to happen. Just one of the few times when I absolutely needed to travel light.

My pocket camera is out for repair and the new Blackberry doesn't have a camera built in.



The hotel security and the Beverly Hills cops (ha-ha, sorry) held their line and the protestors argued their point for a couple of minutes, then complied with the request that they leave. By the way, I had to shoot and walk backwards through almost the entire length of the hotel.

I was working with Dave Bryan and he did a great job of backing me up and making sure I didn't trip as the whole mob moved through the lobby.

I forgot to mention, the protestors also provided food before their little demonstration. I dined on coconut crusted shrimp and curried chicken. The spinach pastry puffs were a bit too "froo-froo" for my tastes.

I guess I shouldn't complain though, on Friday I had a microwave burrito and a chilidog from a gas station for lunch.

Eew, I'm getting sick just remembering it.



It started raining while we were inside the hotel. One edited package and one liveshot later, I was on my way home in the rain. Nobody died and I got home at a decent hour. Cool, not a bad day.

I hope to make it to Hawaii with a couple more days like that.



Let's just hope I didn't jinx it. The last thing I need is an out of town trip or some major news story popping up out of the blue. If you know anyone about to do something insane, try to talk them into waiting until I get back from vacation.

I'd really hate to miss anything and I might be getting a little spoiled.

Heck, you never know when there might be more coconut crusted shrimp involved.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

What day is it?

The amount of driving I did this week between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara left me pretty fried by Saturday. I had lots of time on the 101 Freeway to spend thinking about stuff and not enough time to actually get anything written down.



That was a hell of a bullet hole in the window at the Pismo Beach Denny's. Can you imagine what those bullets did to the victims?

I have to move on to other assignments, but this bit of random violence wins for being one of the most senseless acts I've ever seen.



That was Thursday. I got home at around 11:00pm and crashed as soon as I got in the bed.

Too soon after I went to sleep (passed out?), I woke up and dragged myself out of bed. Dellis and I worked out at the gym and I had a few minutes to putter around the house.

I went to work and hoped for an easy day. If not an "easy" day, then at least an assignment in town.

If you ever wonder how I developed a calm and mellow attitude working in the middle of chaos and mayhem, just know that "hoping" for something to happen is always the kiss of death in news.



So, it wasn't a big surprise, that things didn't quite work out like I wanted (like, not at all). There I was, minding my own business on the lot at the station and got the call to swap out of my microwave van and gear up a SAT truck.

The story? A high-speed pursuit had taken place in Santa Barbara and the suspect was in a stand-off.

Forget getting home on time, I was hitting the road again back to Santa Barbara.



By the time I'd fought my way through the Friday-afternoon-Los Angeles-freeway-traffic and the Santa Barbara-Friday-afternoon-wanted-suspect/law enforcement-freeway-closure-traffic, the suspect was dead.

It hadn't been determined if he died at the hands of law enforcement or if he took his own life.



Let me back up here just for a moment. I wanted to mention how nice it was for the few miles of freeway that I experienced past the closure point. There wasn't another car to be seen on the road in either direction. With the freeway closed because of the active crime scene, many cars had to wait or turn back.

I can only imagine how frustrating it might have been for all the drivers who weren't news media. I could see them in my review mirror and I have to admit. It always gives me a wicked little thrill when I'm waved through and other cars aren't.



Anyway, the suspect was dead at the scene and I set up on the side of the closed Highway. I may be smiling, but it was cold and windy out along the road.

We wrapped up our last liveshot during the 11:00pm newscast. That put me back at the station around 2:00am and I finally made it home at almost 3:00am.



Not much more I can say. I slept in on Saturday. After I got up, I managed to wash one of our cars before the expected rains. The car really needed it and I needed to do something normal. All the driving and strange hours this week have left me a little worn out.

I took it easy the rest of Saturday. Had a couple of beers late in the day that were vacation souvenirs from my fellow photographer Scott Mackie.



There are lots of little details that for the sake of time don't get included in the posts on my blog. I don't get to go into details about the generator pretty much conking out during the last liveshot. I don't get a chance to talk about the lack of food to be found near the crime scene (or me pigging out on junk food on the drive home).

It might be a given that I missed being at home, but all this is just a part of the week that I had. Life moves forward.

As much as it took out of me, I wouldn't trade my week and I'm still looking forward to the next one. I'm smiling to myself as I write this because time is going to ease the difficult memories and I have a great one that I'm sure I'll hang onto.

As I'd been warned, one beer was definitely better than the other. That's okay, because both were greatly appreciated and both beers were way better than I'd been led to expect.

I can't help but feel there's a life metaphor swimming around in there somewhere. I'm going to have some more beer and try to fish it out later.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Facts of the matter

Take a moment and put yourself in my shoes. I've never been to Pismo Beach. Maybe I passed it on the way to or from San Francisco, but it's never been high on my list of "gotta go" vacation spots.

That's not likely to change.



Today four people were shot by a man who entered a Denny's and just started blasting. Two of the four people died there and the suspect also killed himself.

I'm in Pismo Beach running SAT shots for my station.



Serious, it takes a lot to rush out and cover a story like this, but on the other hand, it doesn't take so much that I can't do it. We all know there's a lot of pain and suffering in the world, let's just be clear that I'm not looking for sympathy for me. I'm just doing my job and really trying to be careful not to become so used to what I see.

It is a struggle to not lose my ability to feel the outrage that people should feel over these deaths.



So, if you're me, then you get angry, but you do your job. You just treat the anger as "a matter of fact" and cover the story.

You're not paid to "feel" anything.



While you're skipping around in my shoes, without giving it a lot of thought, you also bump Pismo Beach down lower on that list of destinations that you'll ever want to visit.



It's just another "matter of fact", there will probably never be a happy memory of Pismo Beach that could stand by itself in my mind. I don't discount that there might be a moment of joy that could block out what's floating around in there right now.

It just probably won't ever get the chance.



This place, just like dozens of other places are always going to be part of a memory of a story that involved violence. . .hmm, could be denial, but I know I was being conservative when I described it as "dozens".

Okay. So, if you've done a good job of putting yourself in my shoes and you've imagined that you've seen everything I've seen. Maybe you understand why you'd be sitting in the satellite truck and writing this last line for your blog.

I have a lot of fun doing my job. Just not today.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's snow problem

Man, you just don't know how much we go through sometimes to bring you the news. It's often a grueling day full of driving in traffic just to get the story on the air.

By the way, you just don't get to see this kind of scenery from the comfort of your living room.



This is what it looked like on the way to Frasier Park last Friday. We were heading up to cover the snow.

(YAWN!)

The thing was, during the day, the sky was blue and the sun was out and shucks we really didn't think we were going to get any new snow that evening.



We got info from the assignment desk about a major construction project that was being jeopardized by the inclement weather and went to look into it.

Yeah, we're the news, baby. We go get the stories and bring 'em back a live.



So, this major water project is only 22 days from deadline and they're working on it 24/7, but the weather is seriously causing problems for them.

It was a dramatic situation. The project has a hard deadline and the people working on it are giving it everything they've got, but damn. I can't imagine doing the kind of work these guys are doing.

Maybe I'm not the only one who couldn't imagine it. The rain and freezing working conditions has been causing guys to drop out.



Good story, but it just wasn't going to happen. We couldn't be in two places at once. Our assignment was weather and we were pressed to focus on that. We shot an interview and a bit of b-roll, but eventually moved on to cover the weather.

I was worried about not having anything to shoot, but it helped our story that the snow actually began to fall and I got a post up about it last Friday night.



I don't know how the project is coming along, but I'm pulling for the guys who are out there doing that work in the snow and the rain.

It was thought to leave the construction site, bird in the hand and all. I like that story better, but those aren't the calls I get to make. I'm a news photographer and if I wanted to have more input on those decisions, I'd being doing something different for a living. Sometimes that's difficult to take. The trade-off is that I get to see sights like these snow covered hills with my own two eyes.

Not everybody is going to think it's a fair trade, but let me just add one thing.

You know, they also pay me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Winter Wonderland

I understand the concept of Winter and all, but being from Los Angeles I grew up and never experienced anything that resembles a real Winter.

So, I have to ask, is all this really necessary?



Okay, I know people aren't reading this to hear me complain about working in the cold weather. There are photogs in other parts of the country who handle this and worse every day. I'm proud of the job they do to bring home the news under these conditions and I'll try to stop complaining. Here goes.

Yup, just another day at the office and this time the office is located in Frasier Park (or maybe Lebec). We're covering the weather (again) and the snow is coming down.



I don't think anybody is more surprised than me about the weather. I've been up here twice in the past year looking for snow and came up empty handed both times.

It could be worse. Don't ask me how, because it's pretty freaking cold out here. I just know that so far tonight nobody got hurt out here in the snow.



Once I regain the use of my frozen digits, I'll be able to post about the story I wanted to cover. I'm not going to complain though. The folks who assign the stories might get mad at me.

If they get mad, they could do something mean like send me out to cover the snow.

Again.

BTW - I posted this between liveshots in the 10pm and 11pm shows. I read it this morning and revised it a bit. Okay, I laughed at how rough it was (even for a quick post) and then revised it. Happy weekend.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On your mark!

Maybe I shouldn't laugh, but it's funny to me when people ask where I find the time to blog. Pardon me, find the time?

I bet I'm not the only blogger who knows the truth. We don't find the time so much as totally neglect other stuff we should be doing.



You all should be proud of me. I've set a goal for today. I'm only going to take five minutes to post about my Wednesday assignment.

I covered the speech by Chief Justice John G. Roberts out at the Reagan Library yesterday.



I can't give much of an opinion on him since I was on a camera platform at the back of the room. He never got any closer than maybe twenty-five or thirty yards to where I was situated.

From that far away, everyone seems nice.



His speech had a lot of humor in it and I appreciated that. It kept me from falling asleep. I was a little bored and wasn't exactly working my hardest anyway. I had a new per diem photog trainee to keep an eye on.

He was sharp and had it all covered. That made my job simpler and it was a lot easier to snap a few stills. Kind of makes me wish I had a trainee with me all the time.



Okay, I got thirty seconds. Uh, um. . .Nancy Reagan was there too.



Time!

Yeah, I can tell this speed blogging thing isn't going to go over real well.

Sorry, I gotta go do some stuff.