Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No, si comprende.

You know I'm a pretty honest guy, but every time I go to the music center I totally ignore the sign that tells me cameras are prohibited inside. I'm glad they don't check bags, but I was worried on Monday they might because of the speaker we were going to see. I just expect to see more security when political leaders from foreign countries show up here.

No metal detectors, no scanner wands and I didn't see any bomb sniffing dogs. I was relieved that nobody was going to try to confiscate my little camera, but then after seeing the protestors outside I wondered if anyone still hated Fox enough to try and do him some harm.

I had been sick that day and Dellis was also feeling under the weather. We both really wanted to do nothing but curl up at home and watch TV ("Heroes" and "Studio 60"). Tough call, but this was an opportunity to gain insight and educate ourselves. Immigration and our relationship with Mexico are important political issues here in Los Angeles, so we opted for doing the educated responsible thing.

Would anybody be surprised to know that I might have considered the less responsible alternative, if it weren't for TiVo?

My Spanish language skills are practically non-existent, but the sentiment of the protestors was pretty easy to read. I'm thinking they weren't cheering in support of Vicente Fox. They did not approve of him and we even got a handful of hecklers inside.

I would have snapped a couple of pictures, but I was already feeling like I was being watched by the ushers.

They should have been watching this guy. he was sitting in the row behind us and a few seats over. Towards the end of Fox's speech, he stood up and began yelling. It was in Spanish, so I couldn't tell you what he was saying, but again this was a situation where the language barrier didn't really hide any of the sentiment.

An usher went over and asked him to knock it off. I was surprised they didn't boot him out of the joint. I bet they would have if he had tried to take a picture. I guess they'll tolerate a lot, including the disruption of the program, but I guess photography is simply the root of all evil and could lead to social diseases and maybe dancing.

Yeah, I exaggerate, but I'm used to being singled out for taking pictures and I'm a little bitter about it. I'll be okay, I just needed to vent some of it.

Photo by just some guy who offered to take our picture.

My lovely wife and I had a nice time. We didn't hear anything that's going to change the world, but I feel like we're better for having taken the opportunity and listened with open minds. I don't think that my opinions changed from what they were before, but then again I've always been of a singular mindset when it comes to most political issues. It might not work for a leader who has to answer to many people and might not have the options I have as an individual, but it works for me.

Just try to do what makes sense.

Too simple? Go ahead and protest me, but keep it down. I'm trying to catch up on the stuff I TiVo'd.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pimp my ride

It's been a few weeks (not that I've been counting the time), but my news van is getting real close to being ready to hit the road again. We're making the big change in formats, going from DVCPro (tape) to XDCam (optical disk). That probably doesn't mean anything to most people. I'm okay with that. Unless you work in news (you know who you are), what we shoot and edit on should be way down on your list of priorities (repeat after me: content, content, content).

Just between us, personally, I can't wait to get the new gear in my sweaty hands and take it into the field.

It's one thing to practice and train. I get plenty of opportunity to play with the new cameras and I'm helping to teach the new edit system to rest of the staff. It's not the same as having a set of gear you can call your own.

I'm really missing that right now.

During the past few weeks, I've been floating between vans. It hurts a little to see Unit #19 (my van) sitting out back by the maintenance shop. The new toys they're stuffing into it makes the pain a tiny bit easier to take. I just miss it, is all I'm saying.

Well, that and shucks, I just hope everything works.

The acid test will come on the first bit of breaking news. Getting the story on TV when the adrenaline is pumping and seconds count is a big part of what we're supposed to be able to do.

As I practice with the gear, I can see that the potential is there for doing some cool things. Just being able to cut stories like we used to is just scratching the surface of what the new edit software is can do. I think it's obvious that any initial limitations are more likely to come from our lack of field experience with the format.

I can't speak for everybody, but I know it won't take me long to get over the learning curve. After that, I expect to go through a period of experimenting and testing the aesthetic waters before settling into a sustainable and watchable style of presentation. Hmm, I wonder which of us is going to be first to cause a memo that bans fancy transitions.

Okay, people, no star wipes and go easy on the dissolves.

Friday, January 26, 2007

There, there.

Wow, it's late and I need to get some sleep. I'm up from too much coffee this week. I'm going to pay for it with a massive caffeine withdrawal headache that's gonna hit in two or three days. Sure, I could stall it a bit, but I know me. My routine is a week of regular coffee drinking, then I'll just skip a few days without thinking about it. Then the headache will hit me and I'll be miserable for about a day and a half.

It's okay. I really like coffee and I've been through this before.

My first day back wasn't too eventful. I thanked a lot of people for their support and condolences during my week and a half away from the office. As far as actual work goes, I spent the better part of the morning meeting with the Chief and the rest of the training crew.

We did Taco Bell for lunch (hey, it's comfort food). The second half of the day I was back on GVG training. That's actually going well.

We may just have enough folks up to speed to keep our newscasts on the air by the time we switch over.

There was a bit of good news for me. I got tagged to cover the Academy Awards next month.

I just hope they haven't gone overboard with still camera restrictions. During the last Emmy Awards their security was actually confiscating cameras. Folks got them back at the end of the night, but it was still a bummer.

Not much excitement today. I could have stayed off work until Friday, but it seemed like the right time to go back.

Speaking now from experience, I can understand how sympathy and condolences can be difficult for some people to handle. I don't think I'm like that, but it's probably not for me to say. I just want to let anyone know who reads my blog, it's okay. You can ask me how I'm doing and it's okay to express your sympathy for what I'm going through. I'm sure it's easy to tell, I'm not over the sadness. That'll take time. For now, I'm just slowly going to try to get back to where things feel normal.

Without a doubt I'll always miss my brother, but I'm lucky. There were no grudges left hanging and there wasn't anything left unsaid. The sadness I feel is from the loss of someone close and not from feelings of guilt or regret.

Oh man, I just looked at the time. It's late. I need to be up early to work a dayside shift in the morning. I wish I could leave you with a nugget of wisdom, but I can't wait for one to hit me.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Yeah, I'm still thinking Luke 22:42

It was a difficult week, but with the help of friends and family we were able to get through it. Everyone tells me I helped a great deal in making the arrangements for my brother's funeral services, but during all of it I felt like I was running on auto-pilot. I don't know how I got so involved in things. It seemed like there were plenty of grown-ups around.

Well, I guess the truth was obvious. Now we were the grown-ups and it was time to step up and handle things.

It was painful to make a lot the decisions that needed to be made, but it really never felt like a burden. I just kept doing what needed to be done.

The day before my brother passed away, I was at the hospital with him. He had health issues, but there was no reason to believe there were any reasons at all to keep him in the hospital. Certainly nothing seemed life threatening.

In trying to leave, there were medications to be picked up from the pharmacy, forms to fill out and a blood test to be taken before anyone would sign off on his exit papers. It took us over six hours to wrap it up. In that time we joked and argued and strolled down to the cafeteria and had a bite to eat. We talked about lots of nothing (and argued some more) and our only concern was how long it was taking for us to get the hell out of there.

It seemed like a long time, but now I'm thankful for every second of it.

Finally clear, I got him home and we were done. I'm sure I complained about him chewing up half my day. He'd been in and out of the hospital for the last couple of months because of complications from liver disease and a stubborn infection in his shoulder. That particular problem was from a work injury suffered five years ago.

My sister-in-law had to rush him to the Emergency Room the next morning. He was bleeding internally and in some pain. My sister-in-law called me and our oldest brother, but it still didn't feel like things were all that critical. It just felt like we were being called to have the right people there to ask questions about my brother's condition.

Nobody knew how bad it was.

The doctors managed to stabilize him and they were giving him blood to replace what he'd lost. He was conscious and complained about being cold. I was standing over him in the ER and my hands were warm. I put one of my hands on his (we're not really a "touchy" kind of family). He felt really cold. They gave him extra blankets and tried to make him comfortable.

Our older brother and his wife were there. After the doctors stabilized him, we were all going to head for home. Shucks, he seemed pretty stable.

My older brother and his wife left. I was going to leave, but realized that would leave my sister-in-law there by herself. I waited for a bit, I didn't want my brother to be alone if my sister-in-law wanted to get coffee or anything for herself.

My brother stayed in the ER area until a bed became available in the Critical Care Unit.

They began having trouble with my brother's blood pressure. It was low. They were concerned and let us know. We started calling family members and many of them started making their way to the hospital.

My brother went into shock around 5:00pm. The hospital was able to revive him and stablize him, but it wasn't looking good. They asked if we'd like to have a priest available.

I talked to family members on my cell phone. Those who lived far away and couldn't make it to the hospital I tried my best to keep updated on my brother's condition. My brother's three son's were there, his wife and many of his friends. My wife and youngest daughter arrived, our Aunt Glady's and Uncle Conner had left home earlier in the day and had arrived. More friends and family came in.

Around 8:00pm he went into shock again. The doctors and nurses and everybody tried their best, but they were not able to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 8:20pm. This was on Sunday, the 14th of January.

Not all at once, but over the next hour we all went in and said goodbye. I made the call to tell our parents. I wasn't eager, but I knew how difficult it was going to be and just figured I'd save someone else from having to do that. I could barely speak.

Well, that's it for the moment. There's more I observed I might write about, but I'm not sure if I'll revisit that day again here.

In everything that happened then and since, I've found strength in having so many friends and family members offering support. It's awkward at times, but we've laughed and cried our way through to where we are now. The funeral is over. I've done all I can do. Slowly, one step at a time, I'll be better and it's okay to remind me of that. I'm not so fragile that I'll break down or snap if you draw attention to what I'm going through. I'm thankful for you concern, your support and your condolences. The outpouring of concern for me and all of us makes it easier to do the things that I have to do.

Even when I'm drinking from a cup that I'd rather pass along.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Don't bother me, I'm grieving.

As a news photographer, I've covered my share of funerals. Difficult and even awkward at times being a stranger with a camera in the middle of other people's sadness, I've certainly gained new perspective having lost someone close to me.

I gotta tell you, I'm glad I've always tried to carry myself with a little compassion and lots of common sense in regards to what's appropriate. I could very easily have a lot to feel guilty about at this point if I hadn't.

It's never going to be more than I can bear, but the pain of losing someone close is a difficult thing in ways that I would have never imagined.

Thank you all, I am holding up with the support of my family and friends, but it's a heartrending process to endure.

The most tearful moments so far? That came when one of my brother's best friends (Hey, Daryl!) presented a slideshow of old photographs showing many forgotten happy moments from my brother's life.

Woo, let me tell you, there wasn't a dry eye in the mortuary and I'm kind of gauging the success of the presentation by the number of people who had to step outside because they just couldn't watch.

That was some good stuff there.

You can bet it's going to be on my mind the next time I have to record someone as they leave a church or I pan and zoom looking for a tearful face as a casket is lowered into the ground.

I've never had a problem balancing being who I am and doing a job that doesn't really actually require me to be, you know humane. It's possible that I've missed a shot or two because I believe in doing what's right.

I'm sleeping a little easier tonight knowing that I have gone out of my way at times to be considerate of what someone else might be experiencing.

Having seen a part of life through my own tears and grief, I hope to never add to someone else's.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chicken anyone?

It's been a few days and we're still in the middle of making arrangements for my brother's funeral. I'm holding it together for the most part, but that's just my gruff and stoic exterior.

I've been up early and worked through each day until it starts feeling like I'm just spinning my wheels and then I go home and collapse.

I'll be able to rest a little when the arrangements are finalized, but right now I'm thankful for the distraction of helping to handle things.

It's nice that I have most of our family pictures already scanned and sitting on my computer. We've actually had fun going through them on my laptop.

Lots of people have stopped over at my brother's house to pay their respects, offer their help and drop off food (mostly chicken). It's a comfort to know that he was loved by so many people and the help has been appreciated. The refrigerator is full of chicken, but I'm telling people to keep it coming.

It's a difficult time for me and I'm just really getting a kick out of seeing people show up at the door with chicken. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How're you holding up?

I lost a brother this past weekend. Marcel Frank Jr. (46) passed away on Sunday 1/14/2007 at 8:40pm.

He was one year older than me and we've lived about two blocks from each other for the last several years.

I don't know what the next few days are going to be like, but I know I have the support of the people who have come to know me through my blog.

It's a difficult time for us, but if I'm able, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I can't talk about it.

I'm not working in the office, but I'm not out in the field on assignment either. Since covering the People's Choice Awards on Tuesday, I've been on the road with the Iron Chief to work on a project that I'm not supposed to blog about because it would totally violate my workplace confidentiality agreements.

What a predicament.

Since I don't want to get all fired for something like that, I'm just gonna post some more shots of Carmen Electra and write something witty and clever to distract you from my completely exploitive use of her picture.

I've been watching "Studio 60" a lot, so this should be easy. The writing is witty and clever and I'm trying to learn to talk like the characters do on the show. Nobody talks like they do in real life, but it makes for good television.

Okay, this is probably where I should jump right in and start writing the good stuff. . .yup, clever and witty is absolutely the way to go. . .just give me a second here. . .okay. . .sorry, I got nothing.

Shoot, they make it look so easy. I'll come back to it later (darn you, Aaron Sorkin).

Teri Okita from CBS Newspath asked me if I liked covering awards programs. Hmm. I had to give the question some thought. I don't really think about it because it's just part of my job. I'm not a particularly "star-struck" guy. I think entertainment assignments are a nice change of pace from murder and mayhem, but most of the time it's just a great opportunity to practice my still photography skills.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I need the practice.

I've taken enough pictures to have learned that a good photograph doesn't need a celebrity in it to make it good. Sometimes though, it does help turn a simply "okay" photograph into something better.

It's all exciting and fun, but most often for me, just to be able to capture a moment, that's what does it for me. That's what holds my interest and makes me want to go through the trouble to take still pictures.

It also helps to know that I have an audience. I appreciate that. I hope I never take for granted the people who spend time out of their day hanging out with me online.

Thanks again.

I'm glad I managed to get through this post without putting my job in jeopardy. I'm doing more top secret project stuff and maybe a smattering of edit training tomorrow (uh, today?). Not really the most exciting activities, but I'm going to have to come up with something about it to post.

I used up all my Carmen Electra pictures.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who are these people and what are they choosing?

We don't usually get to set up this close to the red carpet. It might have been nice to just sit in the satellite truck and snap pictures with my long zoom lens, but I know how crowded these events get.

It's almost three in the morning and I'm up because I slept all afternoon. I had a fifteen hour day yesterday and had to be back into the station at 7:00am for meetings scheduled in the OC.

I crashed when I got home and now I can't sleep.

I could be typing up my notes from the meeting, but I'd rather be playing with the photos I got yesterday. It was a good day to snap a few celebrity shots and being "Mr. Entertainment" this year, I even surprised myself at how many of the celebs I knew without a cheat sheet.

This is one of the female "Heroes" and I. . .uh, I don't know her name.

Somebody asked me if I enjoyed covering the award shows. It's interesting work, but it's a different type of assignment for me. My interests in journalism cover a pretty wide range, but it's difficult to look at this as more than a fun diversion when I know I could be on a horrible tragic assignment at any time.

I couldn't get a good shot of her, but that's Halle Berry.

Don't ask me what she's doing. From where I was standing, it looked like she was being the nicest celebrity ever.

As usual, I was kind of hoping to get some help in putting names with the less obvious faces. I don't know the woman in the above photo, but I could spot Eva Longoria easily. She was maybe the last celebrity to come down the line.

I might have recognized the Desperate Housewife even if everyone wasn't calling her name. The show was starting and she had to bail on the arrival line. I wasn't mad at her though. When Sharon Stone and Justin Timberlake cut out at the "Alpha Dog" premiere, it was their movie that we had come out to cover.

You know, that picture before Eva Longoria's is making me feel a little guilty. That was probably a little too geared towards the male readership of my blog.

I'm now going to attempt to balance things out by posting a shot of Dr. Mc"something" from Grey's Anatomy.

There. Now I feel as if I've equally exploited men and women in this particular post and will sleep well in the knowledge that I won't have anything to apologize for later.

It was a long day, but I had fun. Of course, this might be my last "fun" day for a while. I'll be training folks on the new edit system over the next couple of weeks and I think another round of SNG training might happen. The closer we get to the day of the big move (come on, we talked about this), the less I'm going to be cut loose to get out in the field.

That might not be true if some actual big news happens. We'll see.

Some of the rest of the pics I snapped at the 2007 People's Choice Awards are posted on Flickr. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Do I get a choice? I'm a people too.

Sometimes it's easy, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep a promise.

Photo by Scott Mackie

I said I would try to post from the field today. Not exactly a promise and the safety of the world isn't at stake. . .

. . .but doing what I said I would do, that makes me feel a little bit like a hero.

Blogging live from the red carpet of the 2007 People's Choice Awards? I only wish every day could be this cool.

Monday, January 08, 2007

My dog ate my post.

Hey, why haven't you posted?

Most of the time that question is asked in a friendly and kind of joking way. Lately it's been sounding more and more threatening. I honestly never intend to go this long without posting something, even if nothing interesting has been happening.

I think people just kind of like to know that I'm still alive.

Hey, if you're alive, why haven't you posted?

All I can say is, busy. Busy, busy, busy. For instance, a lot of my weekend was filled with putting the final polish on the most recent draft of a spec script a buddy and I have been working on (Hi, Buzz!).

It's funny, but I don't talk much about the writing I do outside of the blog. It's always been a part of what I do, but I guess I just don't want to seem like the typical Los Angeles waiter/actor/wannabe-anything-but-what-I'm-doing kind of guy.

Since last year, I've been trying to get all my older work cleared off my desk. Once I clear it off, I want to start putting effort into new projects. That was a part of my weekend. I was also flipping through the GVG "Aurora" editing software manual. Since I'm one of the folks expected to help train all the other photogs at our station, it seemed like a good idea to brush up on what I've learned so far.

Photo by Joel Fallon

Tonight I was waiting by the phone because we had two SNG truck operators going solo in two separate trucks out at the fires in Mailbu. I offered to go in person to lend a hand, but I've actually got a long day tomorrow (People's Choice Awards).

It seemed like a better plan not to wear me out. If everyone gets on TV tonight, then I'll agree.

Well, since the phone hasn't rang, I'm going to grab some sleep.

I promise to try and get some good paparazzi celebrity shots from the red carpet tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to just try not to think about the fifteen hour day I have ahead of me.

Fifteen hours? It could be worse.

I could be handling the training sessions back at the station and then trying to explain why I don't really have anything to blog about.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sleep with the lights on.

It was a horrible dream and I'm trying to block it out for the sake of my sanity. What I remember from it, I was covering the "Alpha Dog" movie premiere at the Arclight Theatres (which damnit, I'm still going to stubbornly call the Cinerama Dome).

It's only two blocks from our station, but this was my first premiere at the "Cinerama Dome". I had some warm fuzzies going on because I have fond memories from high school and college of seeing movies at the "Cinerama Dome".

In my dream, it wasn't ridiculously crowded. Just simply crowded and for some reason, in my dream, the arrival red carpet is lined up along Sunset. It's just a dream, so I don't let the honking horns and screams from passing cars bother me.

After all, it's just a dream. Right?

A lot of the unknown talent from the movie make their way down the line. We talk to pretty much everyone. It suddenly got very weird.

Things started turning ugly when the two biggest celebs at the premiere cut out half of the arrival line to go take group still shots. Um, the two biggest celebs would be Sharon Stone and Justin Timberlake.

We never saw them again, even though a lot of people were yelling, "Bring sexy back!"

So we're done and I thought the horror was over. I was wrong.

As we walked back to the newsvan, Paris Hilton pulls up to us in a convertible Bentley. Yeah, Paris "freaking" Hilton in a convertible "freaking" Bentley.

We yelled, "HEY, PARIS!" over and over, but she wouldn't look at us.

In slow motion like moving through water, with my right arm I whipped my camera up to my shoulder and rolled tape. She wouldn't turn around and then just suddenly she just drove off.

Maybe I panicked, because I found myself half jogging after her. Don't ask me why. After the frustration of not getting sound with Timberlake and Stone, maybe it was just the moment. . .uh, in the dream.

I'm sure Paris never even realized I was behind her (or maybe she did). She slowed and stopped a couple of times. I never had the chance to get around to the front of the car. I wanted to wake up. It seemed like everything was spinning and I couldn't breathe. I don't remember much after that.

This morning when I sat down to my computer to post, the blood in my veins seemed to turn to ice when I saw somehow I had still shots of everything. Everything and more from what I thought was just a horrible-horrible dream.

Feel free to consider my experience a warning to all who lurk here. Learn from my arrogance. Sometimes the only thing that divides the serious journalist from the serious papparazzi is a thin line. A thin line and an opportunity slowly driving away in a convertible Bentley.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pastry Adjacent

Here's the good and the bad. I was good. It really felt great to grab an interesting assignment on my first day back at the office for the new year.

I hope I'm setting the pace.

My shift started at 2:00pm and lucky Unit #19 (my take home van) was at work before I got there. It's in the shop so the engineering department can make some magic and install my new XDCam gear. I get to be the guinea pig.

So'kay, bring it on.

Turns out, they hadn't gotten too far into tearing down my van. Unit #19 and I were on the road.

The story wasn't a breaker, but we needed to treat it like one. We had an interview with this guy lined up. He's Craig Smith and among other things, he wrote speeches for Gerald Ford.

We had to treat it like breaking news bacause the station wanted a package and live shot for the 5:00pm show. No problem.

I had to safety check a microwave truck, drive to one of the furthest corners of Long Beach, shoot the interview, find a liveshot location, establish the microwave link, setup for the liveshot, cut a package and be ready when they wanted to take us live.


We got it all done with very little anxiety. To be honest, that's the kind of day I want to have every day I go to work. Mr. Smith was an intelligent interview subject and I wished could have spent more time with him. It was also interesting to me that he's currently the department chair of what used to be the Radio and Television Department out at Cal State Long Beach.

That's my old stomping grounds.

Hey, I mentioned there was some bad involved with the assignment. It was completely by accident that the first spot I saw to land the truck was right next to a bakery/coffee shop.

My gosh, the smell of cinnamon rolls and other baked goodies filled the air. I started working out and eating healthier for the new year. (Sniff) It was killing me. Kind of shameful, but one of the first things I asked the reporter when we opened the truck?

Do you want to split a cinnamon roll.

We'd already had the "healthy" conversation on the drive down. She laughed and declined.

I kicked myself for being such a will-power weakling. Not very hard though, them cinnamon rolls really smelled good.

Let's hope I get another assignment like yesterday. Interesting and challenging, but maybe with healthier food.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hey, you remember back in 2006?

Boy, it seems like only yesterday that it was 2006. That was a good year.

I remember exactly what I was doing this time last year. It's not that my brain works like that. It doesn't, but I think that's part of the reason why I take pictures. It's so I have a way to remember stuff that I will never remember on my own.

To be fair, the big events aren't all that difficult to keep a handle on. I need help with the smaller details. Like the happy (and maybe just a little smirky) smile on a friend's face.

Sometimes a picture can remind me of that.

It was a happy time, but my life shifted gears pretty quickly at the beginning of the year.

In looking back, I remember also how scared I was during that first week of 2006. That was the week of my mother's heart surgery. She's doing well now. It's been a year without "major" complications.

During long hours in the hospital waiting room, I remember trying to be strong in the face of possibilities I wasn't ready for. I remember saying prayers in every quiet moment. I remember taking pictures with my cell phone. It felt like I should do what I do because taking pictures is a big part of who I am. It also felt like it might seem strange for me not to take pictures if I could.

I had to cling to what's normal for me and that was going to help make everything okay.

I'm glad I took the pictures. I'm not sure how I would have felt if things had not worked out well.

Our year ended with my household together for the holidays. Dellis and I have seen our kids more this year than in the past several years. It felt really great to have the youngest home for the holidays. Away at school, she's missed the last couple of family gatherings.

No soap opera drama in our house. We laughed and enjoyed being together and shucks, why does it seem like that's so rare in the world?

It might just be in my perception, but it does seem most households have parents mad at the kids or kids mad at their parents. Then again, I think maybe we're lucky to have just survived past that stage.

Life seems to get better for me every year. Not perfect and not financially successful. Just better in the ways that matter to me. I smile, I laugh, I enjoy the company of my friends and family. There are things I want that I need to work towards. There are things I want that I might never have.

On this first day of the year, I have enough holiday debt to make me look forward to a big story and hopefully some overtime, but I'm balanced enough that I don't have to wish for anything bad to happen.

Keep smiling. This is going to be a really great year. I know I said that last year. From what I remember, it was.