Wednesday, February 28, 2007

She never got around to saying. . .

. . .why does the caged bird sing?

The speaker series at the Music Center continued last Friday night. Dellis and were there last month when Mexico President Vicente Fox spoke. This time around the speaker was Maya Angelou. When Fox spoke, he had a large group protesting him outside and a few hecklers inside.

We noticed right off the bat, there were way fewer protesters outside for Maya Angelou.



Okay, she actually didn't have any protesters. It was a very classy and non-aggressive evening. That made me a little uncomfortable, so I knocked over a trashcan. Okay, I didn't really knock over a trashcan (Dellis would have made me pick it up anyway), but it was a great evening. Unless you've taken a firm stand against intelligence and art, there really wasn't a lot to protest against.

I'm telling you, Maya Angelou had the most perfect voice of reason of anyone I've had the pleasure of listening to maybe ever.

She walked out onto the stage from behind the curtain and the collective IQ of the entire audience went up two, maybe two and a half points. Yeah, including mine.



In spite of the hat I chose for the evening, I felt like a better person for having been there and experienced the lecture (performance?). She was intelligent, spiritual, honest and pretty darn funny. I'm not trying to suck up or anything, but those are pretty much the same qualities I value in my wife.

Without a doubt, I am a lucky man. I'm going to go see if Dellis will read me some poetry. If she won't, maybe I'll just grab a beer and re-read some Bukowski.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Honest, I didn't see any celebrities.

Anything I say about is only going to sound like a lame excuse, but that's okay. It won't be the first time I made lame excuses. I'd been sick for a couple of days prior to the day of the Oscars and I was already looking at a long work day.

Standing with a heavy camera on my shoulder for three or four hours wasn't going to happen this year. We worked out the assignments and I left the Red Carpet arrivals for another crew member (hey, maybe I'm just getting old).



This year, I've got a lot of behind the scenes pictures, but no celebs. Sorry.

Heck, I didn't even put on my tuxedo. I usually do that just because I like having a picture of me wearing a tuxedo. Dellis likes Sean Connery and I get kind of that James Bond attitude going when I wear one.

Not this year. I wasn't feeling it.



Still, it was on my mind to try and take care of folks.

I loaned my small digital camera to Erik Oginski from our station's web team. He was out on the carpet with the news crew and he managed to get a lot of celebrity shots for the web. With my camera he managed to get about ten shots of himself. . .


Photo by Erik Oginski

. . .and one shot of Al Gore. Al Gore? Uh, Erik, I know for a fact that Beyonce was on the carpet. Heck, Will Smith stopped to talk with our crew. Helen Mirren was in range for a quick snapshot.

Al Gore?

Good one. Nothing against Al Gore, but that was funny.



Next year, I'll remember how things went this year and try to do things differently.

Even without being on the Red Carpet, there was a lot of hard work to go around. A few days earlier, we cabled all the way over to the pool feed tent. All the decks to record the feeds had to be monitored.



Okay, maybe that's not all that difficult to do, but I was still feeling under the weather. I kept an eye on the feeds and tried to take it easy. I ate half a can of cashews and a handful of chips while Marvin Stone cut a couple of pieces on the new Aurora edit system. Everybody, YAY Marvin! Good to know that the new system works.

At the end of the night, we still had to roll up all of our cables, pack up the vans and unpack a lot of the gear after we got back to the station. We started the day at 9:30am and after midnight, wrapping up cables is not a "fun" part of the job. I finally got home around 2:00am.

If you're still interested in seeing shots of the celebrities, you can see the slide show that Erik put together on the station's web site. As always, I'm pressed for time. If I see any celebrities, I'll be sure to snap a few pictures.

If I see Erik from the web department, I'm good. I got plenty enough shots of him.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Preps

Today is the day of the big show, but Friday morning at about 2:00am we were loading in the trucks and running the cables. It was a pretty easy load in. Everything checked out fine.

Almost.



We had to replace one cable reel that had been strung out for the camera position.

The day before we checked six of the seven cable reels. The one we didn't test was out with an SNG unit on a story. Yup. The one we didn't check had loose fittings.



The rule is you should always check your portable cable reels before taking them out into the field.



Sage advice, but I'm thinking that probably doesn't apply to most of you.

How about, don't do drugs and stay in school? Better?



On the bright side, it didn't rain on us and we weren't too cold. A lot more happened, but you know the story of my life lately. I'm out of time and I still have to shave and pack up my tuxedo.

If all goes well, we'll talk later.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hello, Mr. Coffee!

It's after 11:00pm and I should be trying to get a few minutes of sleep. Back in January (or was it December) when I volunteered to cover the Oscars, it really seemed like a good idea at the time.

Not so much at this point.



Am I crazy or what? In about two hours I'll be leaving home for the station because I have to help move our trucks into position and run the cables for our Oscar coverage on Sunday. This is going to be difficult.

I had another training class scheduled today, but I blew it off to try and help troubleshoot Unit #19. I know it might seem like we've been going through this for weeks (oh, yeah, we have), but this is the price we're paying for trying to do what no other broadcast news station is doing.



We're inventing the wheel, discovering fire, and learning to fly while chewing gum and hopping on one foot. I actually feel like there's plenty I could blog about, but I'm not getting the writing time that I'd like to have. It's tough, but I'm comforted by the fact that I know this won't be the case forever. Eventually all the photogs will be trained, our vans will all be upgraded with the XDCam gear and I'll be back doing what I love.

Sleeping.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm trying

I can't believe I'm this beat and the week is only half over.



Just checking in to let everyone know I'm still alive. With everything that I'm facing this weekend, that might not be the case much longer.

No worries. I'll survive, but I wouldn't want to be me on Monday morning.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hypothetically Speaking

If this were "C.S.I." New York, Miami, Original (or extra crispy), I'd probably already be arrested. Those are tire tracks in the picture and they're decorating a curb in the subterranean parking area below the new station. Somebody (we don't actually know who) was parking a vehicle (it might have been a newsvan) and (we believe) had to pull onto the curb because there wasn't enough space to pass.

That's one way the tire tracks could have found their way onto the pedestrian walkway.



I have other theories, but I'm thinking the less said about the tire tracks, the better.

Things are getting more hectic every day as we get closer to the big move. I've got an edit training session tomorrow afternoon. I'm happy to be learning from instead of teaching in this one. Plenty on the plate for the rest of the week, I've still got to order my tux for our Oscar coverage this Sunday. Want to hear something kind of crazy? I've got a 2am call later in the week for the truck load-in. That's where we drop off the trucks and run all our cables to record the pool feeds and for our liveshots from the camera positions.

. . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .Okay, by my atomic watch, it's now officially the next day and I'm going to have to call it quits for the night. I don't mind the late night sleep deprived blogging, but I kind of wish there were more interesting adventures to post. It's going to be hectic for the next few days, but I'm looking forward to the weekend. Maybe I'll get a chance to snap a picture of a celebrity or two.

That's got to be at least as interesting as tire tracks, but I suppose it's all in how you write about it.

By the way, YAY! I got through another Monday.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Breathe

This late in the week my brain isn't working well enough to remember how many of the last five days I hit the ground running and worked through a full shift only to go home, collapse and start it all over again the next morning.



We're juggling a lot in preparation for our big move to the new station. Working in the field? Covering the news? I can barely remember what that was like.

My days are filled with trying to break our new equipment. Uh, let me qualify that, I'm trying to force the equipment and software to fail. It's not like I'm taking a hammer to it, but if I can make it not work by driving it hard in our test scenarios, then we'll know what will likely work or not when we deploy it in the field.



It's Friday and my brain is completely fried. I'm probably pretty strange in this, but I actually get a charge out of covering the news. I've worked long days and gone home feeling tired, but ready (and eager) to come back for more. This week I'm just going home tired.

I did manage to piggyback on a small bit of journalistic effort today.



One of my fellow photogs needed to quickly set up for an interview inside the building. I happened to be passing the desk at the time and "woo-hoo" I'm somehow involved.

It wasn't a huge story. just the daily developments in the Anna Nicole saga. I lent a bit of moral support along with a microphone, light and umbrella reflector from Unit #19.



It was a beautiful day outside and the liveshot that went along with this interview was set for the roof of our building.

It's Friday (okay, now it's Saturday morning at this point), I'm burnt out from the week and I still have four hours of training availability from the company who makes our new edit session. It's a voluntary workshop, but I need to go. People will be asking me questions that I need to be able to answer and the answers might come out of the time spent in these workshops.

Everyone around me dealing with the move is working at least as hard. Most are working harder. This time next year, I'm going to look back at all of the stress and difficulties and I'm going to laugh. I'm laughing now, but it's more of a hysterical laugh that builds into a guttural scream and sometimes ends with me curled up on the floor in a fetal position.

Good times. I gotta go to work.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How much for just the garter?

Okay, so I don't have nearly enough time to do this post any justice, but I have a few dangerous men giving me menancing looks around the office for not updating as often as I should. So here's what I can say in the five minutes before I have to rush out the door and fight traffic to get to Hollywood and start my day in the purgatory that's been my life while we train people and troubleshoot the new XDCam gear.

Happy Valentine's Day by the way.



I was shopping for my lovely wife Dellis yesterday and decided to look into Agent Provacateur. That's an expensive lingerie company. They've got a shop on Melrose Avenue and I admit that I have been, um, let's say "intrigued" by the store for a while now. Wait, should I even be talking about this in a public forum? Heck, well sure. I mean, why not?

Okay, I'm on the way home from work, so I'm in the newsvan and I park right in front of the store and. . .

. . .Darn. I've got to go to work. I'll get to the point. The first thing I saw that caught my eye cost $300.00 and I went a little faint. Not because it cost $300.00, but because it really really really didn't look like it should cost that much.

As I left, they gave me a couple of their catalogs. I'm keeping them and I'm gonna show the guys when I get to work.

XOXOXOXO to everybody.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Almost ready for the show.

It's officially Tuesday. I got home a little over an hour ago and I really want to crawl into bed, but I haven't posted anything since Friday and it's killing me. To be fair, there's a lot of things "killing" me right now. A lot of them are related to the number of hours in the day.

I wish there were more, but 24 seems to be a pretty firm limit.



It's 12:14am and I can barely keep my eyes open. I should have been home sooner tonight, but I'm field testing the XDCam gear and the Aurora editing system that's been installed in lucky Unit #19.

It almost feels like I'm actually working in the field again. There was a high speed chase that ended in a collision at the intersection of Sherman Way and Wilbur Avenue in Reseda.



I'm trying not to shortchange anyone. . .



. . .whoa, and that was the last thing I typed before falling asleep at my desk. Heh-heh, I nodded off for about a half hour and then just went to bed. Sorry, I can't help but feel like that on some level, that was rude of me.

I had to delete about a page and a half of random letters that I typed.

At least I hope they were random. Maybe it was a message of some sort. Something I needed to tell myself from a plane of higher consciousness.



It probably would've spelled out "go to bed" if I DaVinci decoded it.

What would be cool is if it reminded me of what I was writing when I fell asleep, because I have no idea this morning where I was going with this post. I had the new gear and was at the scene of an accident. It was interesting that nobody got hurt in the accident. The cops caught the guy they'd been chasing and the people who were involved in the accident were gone by the time I got there.



I got to play with the XDCam and made it jump through a few hoops. It was nice. I really liked shooting in 16x9 mode. The wideangle aspect ratio. . .whoa, the techno-bable was starting to make me nod off again.

Well, I have a shot turn-around day and need to start loading up to head into work. I don't know if there's going to be a story out there for me today. If there is one in my future, even if it's a little story, I'm shooting it like it's the lead package of the biggest breaker of the year.

If I don't get an assignment, I'm gonna find a quiet corner and maybe take a nap.

The Mega-Lotto Jackpot is over a hundred million and your lucky number is 19. Good luck.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Can't go?

Here's another quickee post. Yesterday I was at lunch with the regular management crew. The Iron Chief gets a phone call. I hear his part of the conversation and key in on that words that are important to me.

Travel? Florida? Right away?

Well, I pick up on "travel" and "right away" more than "Florida". Florida isn't so much one of the news destinations I'm hot for, but I loves me some "travel" and "right away" no matter what the destination.


Photo filched off the internet

I'm half out of my chair waving my arms and pointing at myself in an effort to volunteer "me" to go on the out of town assignment. Keep in mind I don't even know what the story is at this point. I heard Florida and honestly assumed it had something to do with the astronaut drama going on.

The Chief declines my offer and for a moment I'll admit I was disappointed. It doesn't make sense to send me anywhere right now and I kind of knew I wasn't getting this one. I've given it some thought about what would happen if a big story broke somewhere and a crew was needed out of town. There's too much left to be done on the training and I'd have to turn over the field testing of the renovated Unit #19.

Oh well, no Florida pics for me, but I hope the guys that hit the road yesterday have a safe trip.




Damn it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I only have a minute. . .

. . .and I'm kind of already running late for work.

I was going to just turn off the computer before running out the door, but decided to dash off a quick sentence or two. Unit #19, my microwave truck has been upgraded with the new (XDCam) camera and edit system and I'm trying to get half a minute free to give it a good field test.



Lots happening at work, but very little of it since Monday involving me and breaking news stories. Just about all of my efforts are going into helping get the staff ready for the format conversion and the move to the new station. It's not a lot of fun, but it all has to be done.

It could be worse.

Someone else might have gotten the first crack at field testing the new gear and there are a lot of folks working overtime to get the new facillity up to speed.

I gotta run. I've got two photogs coming in this morning for edit training.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Looking for whoever used to live here.

I wouldn't want to lose any sport fans who might sometimes read this blog, but the best part of that last post that I lost today described me at Super Bowl parties in the past. I wrote about how usually by halftime I'd be bored and flicking peanuts at the toughest guy in the room to see if I could make anyone laugh without getting beat up.

Just wanted to get that in there and for the record, it's not that I don't like sports and competition. I just can't sit still that long.

Right. So that post is gone forever and I'm not going to dwell on it. I had a breaker and that's way more interesting to me. Yee-hah! It felt like I was back in the game.



Two firemen were injured while fighting an apartment fire near Alverado and 11th Street. I'm always ready, willing and able, but it was unexpected that I got sent out. My shift was 2:00pm to 10:00pm and I thought I'd be working with one of the SNG trainees. Oh well, someone needed to head out with a reporter and the station was hoping to get us into the 5:00pm show.

Traffic was backed up and it took a bit of maneuvering (mostly legal) to get to the scene. I wasn't in my regular truck and had to hunt like a blind man for everything. It cost us a few seconds, but not enough time to cause me to worry.



We had to park about half a block away to stay out of the way of the emergency vehicles coming and going on the scene. As we made our way to the main area of activity, two victims were being wheeled past us on stretchers. I rolled tape and we got a little sound from someone related to the victims.



Fires are pretty common news events and their really wasn't anything remarkable about this one. It was mostly over by the time we got there. I didn't care. We shot for ten or fifteen minutes and headed back to the truck to start setting up to go live.

Two other photogs from our station wound up on the scene and they dragged cables out while I established the microwave link and cut some sound together to go with the helicopter footage they were cutting for us back at the station.



We were the third story during the 5:00pm newscast and while nobody was going to be winning any awards for this bit of journalistic effort, we all felt pretty good about getting there and putting the story on TV.

We've still got a few weeks before our move to the new building. The Unit #19 conversion to XDCam is just about complete and I might be taking it out for a test drive today. The training schedule isn't going to let up on the new edit system and my time is already committed for that in the coming weeks. Hmm, I also should be wrapping up a report that the Chief has been waiting to see on his desk or in his email.



I'll be honest, it's always going to be part of my work ethic to support the folks on the job who have taken great care of me through the years, but nothing I do behind a desk or in a meeting is ever going compare to the thrill I get from being out in the field covering the news.

As far as I know, there weren't any serious injuries related to this fire. I'm sorry for anything lost by the residents of the building that burned. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I might place the enjoyment of my job over the suffering of victims of tragedy. I don't. If I had to sit behind a desk every day for the rest of my career, I would choose that over something bad happening for me to cover. If the choice were mine. It's not my call.

Life can be random, things happen and people suffer. In my mind, the thought is always there that we're supposed to make a difference. Well, sometimes just putting the story on TV does make a difference. With that being the case, I'm glad for the opportunity to do what I do. I'll just try to be sensible and sensitive to whoever is the focus of my attention.

Mostly, no matter how much fun I'm having, I'll just try to remember not to smile while someone's house is burning down.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Publish Post?

Okay, it hasn't happened in a while, but I just lost an entire post. If anyone finds it, please contact me.

I was using the "Blog This!" button in Picasa and when I hit the "Publish Post" button; POOF! It just blinked completely out of existence. I have to go to work now. I'll come back and try again later.

Don't even think about offering me advice about saving my work as I go along or writing it out or anything. It won't be well received right now.

I'll be there for you?

It's almost two in the morning and I want to try and explain the shots I took outside of the Trump Golf Course in Palos Verdes.







I'm too fried to write coherently. That's never stopped me before, but I'm trying to live a little healthier.



That means I have to go to bed instead of staying up for late night blogging. Crazy concept, but I'm going to try it out and see if I like it.

By the way, that's us trying to recreate the friends opening theme.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hello Kitty

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

That's what Robert Duvall said as Lt. Colonel Kilgore in the movie "Apocalypse Now". I understand the sentiment, because that's how we news photographers feel about breaking news.


Well, maybe not all photographers. Maybe just the ones who have been cooped up at the station training people on the new edit systems and the SNG units.

Okay, maybe just me!



Anyway, that's how I was feeling as I rushed down to Palos Verdes on Wednesday. I was out in one of our SNG trucks to help cover a breaking story.

Sweet!

I've been sidelined a lot in the last month, so they didn't need to ask twice when news of a mountain lion being spotted hit the newsroom.

The coastal side of the Palos Verdes peninsula is a dead spot for getting a microwave signal out. If the story was going to make it on TV from the ground, we'd have to do a satellite uplink.

I was out the door and off the lot before anybody could change their mind.



It took me a while to get to the area where the search for the mountain lion was taking place. It was behind the gates of a private community and nobody was just giving out the gate code. The ground crew I was meeting had already made their way inside. I don't know their specific circumstance, so I don't know if you'd call that sneaking in.

Being in a larger truck, I didn't think it was wise to risk just following another vehicle through the gate. Negotiating my way inside took skill, daring, and a small amount of charm. . .oh, and guts.

Okay, I got a nice little old lady to let me zip in behind her car before the gate closed. Technically not sneaking in, because she smiled and waved for me to go ahead follow her in.

I'm sure glad that worked, because I didn't have a plan B.


(artist's rendering)

Yup, I got my dose of adrenaline, but I never saw the mountain lion and as you can see, I never got a picture of it. Also, we never actually went live on TV. It seems the story sort of fizzled when the search was called off for the day. Well, I made a little overtime, got to fire up the SNG unit and nobody got eaten.

I was going to write that's a good day, but the thought sort of depressed me. I think I've lowered the bar for what constitutes a good day for me at work.

Nobody got eaten? Well, maybe next time.