Thursday, May 31, 2007

Street Cred

It's a nice easy Saturday night. Dellis and I are home alone (the youngest is out with her friends). I spent most of the day in the yard. few weeks ago, it seemed like an impossible task to get the yard back in the shape it was in two years ago.

Oh, it's still not there, but at least it's closer to being presentable than it has been recently.

Here it is, the weekend and I don't think I mentioned that I was back in action on the training detail this week. Yeah, pretty slow and uneventful as far as news goes, but on Thursday we took the Aurora van out for some real world experience.



Being in training mode again wasn't all that much of a thrill, but the assignment was cool. Beverly Hills art gallery that specializes in celebrity photos. This in the same week that I was getting positive buzz around the newsroom for the portrait shots in my last post (thanks again, Paul).



The guy in the picture is Douglas Kirkland. He's a pretty famous photographer, best known for shots he took of Marilyn Monroe. I got a big kick out of meeting him.



I've started the next sentence over about seven times. That's prbably my cue to get some sleep.
I'll be back to wrap it up in the morning.

. . .ONE DAY LATER. . .

I'm back. It's a bit later than I intended, but I'm juggling a lot around the house this weekend. Somebody asked me recently where I find the time to blog. There's no time to be found. I just try to jump on the computer when I get the chance. Sometimes I have something interesting to write about and sometimes I'm just trying to make it through to the last sentence.



Not like in this post.

The gallery show/photo exhibit was an interesting assignment and a nice little coincidence. Before the long intermission, I had mentioned the newsroom buzzing about the pictures from my last post. Photography has just been a big part of my week.

Tomorrow is Monday. The start of another week.

I'm looking forward to it because the gallery assignment was a needed reminder of why I love my job. It's just the greatest thing to me. I got to see a great photography exhibit and I got to meet a famous photographer. That kind of thing doesn't happen for everybody, but in my job that kind of thing happens for me pretty often.

Hey, look. Here's that last sentence I was talking about.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Smile.

Yeah, I take a lot of pictures. I've been told (and sometimes I'll agree) that I'm pretty good at it. Often I'm more lucky than good and these two shots are about the best that I can do with luck, skill, Photoshop and timing all on my side.

(Photogenic reporters Lisa Sigell and Christina McLarty willing to let me take their pictures also helped. Thanks.)



I've reached a level of experience with my still photography where it's become to much of a passion to be just called a hobby. If nobody has already said it, this is a new quote:

I care about it to the point where I desperately want to be better at it.

Outside of taking pictures every day, I'm constantly reading a huge amount of material that relates to photography. If there were room in my schedule, I'd probably take a class, maybe even consider the road less travelled and look towards another degree. Timing is everything and that particular decisive moment isn't likely to happen.

My work in broadcast news is still just as important to me and it has the added benefit of actually paying the bills.



The introspective nature of the thoughts churning in my head come from taking a closer look at the work of a still photographer that I was familiar with, but hadn't really known.

Deborah Willis isn't simply a still photographer. She's a recipient of the MacArthur "genius" fellowship and a former curator of photography for the Smithsonian. I don't mean to shortchange her in listing her credits. She's got a resume that could fill a couple of blog posts by itself.



A friend loaned me a short stack of her books and I was simply blown away.

There were two things that struck me about the works in her books. The quality and care that went into the restoration of older photographs included in these collections and the overall layout design of her work put a lot of what I've ever seen or done with still photography into a new perspective.

She raised the bar for what I consider to be good photography.

She raised it very, very high.



It's taken a couple of days for that to sink in. I had a small level of frustration when I first started going through her books. It's not a negative thing. I'm honest with myself and I have an accurate sense of where I am as a photographer. I'm skilled enough to recognize the differences in quality between a "good" photograph and one that is "oh-my-gosh-that's-freaking-amazing!"

I can see the difference, I'm just not at a point where I can make that difference. I really want to be better. Experience and knowledge will get me there, but that's just going to have to come in time.

Taking pictures makes me happy. I'm going to keep taking them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No peeking over my fence.

At this point I don't even remember when I started the shed project. People who know what they're doing can build stuff like this in a couple of hours with scraps of wood lying around the yard. It's been months for me.

That's how I roll.



Last weekend I worked on the roof. Next weekend I'll finish that off with roofing paper and sheets of corrugated tin. The open areas near the top are supposed to be covered with glass windows (or maybe screen).

The plan-- (snort) yeah, right. We'll call it a plan, but the truth is, I sketched this out on a beer napkin, went bought the first load of wood, then lost the napkin.

Anyway the plan was to have an angled roof and an open area at the top to let in light and air.



That was months ago.

Last week I was reading through Garden Design magazine (do I get the extra "geek" points for it being the digital edition?) and came across a pre-fab shed article. One of the designs caught my eye. I never saw a shed design before I started my project. All i wanted was something that didn't look like a barn.

Hmm, what do you think? It's just a coincidence, but that's similar enough for me to make spooky, sinister sound effects.

Wooooo-OOOO-ooooo!



This isn't the first time I've seen landscaping and garden design that I've done around my house pop up in this magazine. Just let me stress the point, there's no doubt that it's all just coincidental. I'd much rather believe that, than believe someone would be so lame as to copy stuff from my yard, I'll keep it in a positive perspective.

It feels kind of nice to have a coincidence like this. It makes me feel as if my sense of aesthetic design mirrors what professionals are producing.

It's just a hobby, but it's nice to know I'm on the right track.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Free Reggie!

I've only got half a post in me. It's Friday and I'm kind of beat, but I wanted to share these pictures that were taken by a woman on staff from Councilwoman Janice Hahn's office.

Reggie the Alligator was caught yesterday. I was on another story in the Torrance area when I heard about the capture over my two-way. A couple of minutes later I got the call to pack it up and head on over to the park where Reggie had been holed up for the past couple of years.



Of course Reggie was long gone by the time I got there, but we had a liveshot to put on TV. I met up with Reporter Jaimie Garza and Photographer Steve Medina from our station. We worked the crowd and came up with enough to put together a quick hit for the 5:00pm show.



I'm running out steam. Let's call it a night and I promise to pick it up over the weekend. Lots of yard work tomorrow. If you can handle a shovel, I could use the help.

. . .hey, I'm back. Sorry to leave you hanging in mid post, but now I'm rested and ready to continue.

This would have been just another mildly interesting story for me, but I had a super geeky cool moment that involved these pictures.

It's frustrating when there's material that can help us tell a story, but it's not available in a format that we can immediately put to use in the field. We try, but we can't handle every format of picture and sound that's out there. For most folks there's no reason to lug around the cables that might be specific to their camcorder, cell phone, digital camera or-- well, you get the idea.

That was the case with the woman from Janice Hahn's office. She took digital stills and video with her pocket camera, but nobody had any way of getting the material out of the camera.

Until I got there and calmly said, "Why, yes. I can fly a plane."

That's not exactly what I said, but that's about how it felt. She had all these cool pictures and video and the best anybody was able to do was shoot it off the tiny LCD monitor on the back of the camera.

That was lame, but I understand. A lot of the time you have to do the best you can and improvise.




For me, improvising meant cracking open my laptop and popping the SD memory card from her camera into it. I transferred everything from her camera into my laptop, then moved it to my usb thumb drive (yeah baby, 4gigs). I plugged the thumb drive into a usb port on my Aurora edit system and imported her .AVI video clips.

Stay with me here, this is the good part.

The camera video format was slightly wonky. It imported the video upside down.

I didn't even blink (well, I did a quick little scream like Homer Simpson, but kept going).




The video was in the Aurora system, so I dropped the clip onto the timeline of a new sequence. With the Aurora edit system we have digital effects and it was a couple of simple mouse clicks to flip the video right side up. I rendered it, saved it and fed it back to the station. The video made air shortly after our liveshot.

Everybody say it with me. Go, Bryan. Go, Bryan.

With both freelance and staffers, we have almost fifty photographers that work for our station. We all do the same job and we're pretty interchangeable under a lot of basic circumstances. There's a handful who understand and know how to do what I did. Some guys even carry laptops and thumb drives. I'm not sure how many of them (if any) would have the SD memory card reader and know how to import media into the edit system. What I'm saying is that I'm pretty sure I'm the only guy who would have been able to pull it off.

Heh-heh. Cool.

Reggie's new home is going to be the L.A. Zoo. I might go visit him after he settles in. Right now, I'm going to start my weekend and have a little breakfast. It was a pretty good week. I'm looking forward to more of the same next week.

Pssst! Happy weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NOHO Trench Rescue

Every day I go to work and do my job to the best of my ability. It kills me to sit around and wait for something to happen before I can go out and cover the news. Luck of the draw, I'm not complaining. That's just the truth of the matter for me. Most days I'm waiting for a breaker.

Yesterday I got one.



Two men got stuck in a trench in North Hollywood yesterday. One of the men was out of the trench before I even left the station, but it took a couple of hours to get the second man out.

The streets were blocked off and crowds of people filled the area. I got waved in past the yellow tape by an officer directing traffic. Sometimes it's not that easy. We're supposed to be kept out of crime scenes for obvious reasons, but it's illegal to prevent us from entering areas that are not determined to be crime scenes. A rescue operation isn't a crime scene, but we still run into problems.



I've seen news stories where guys are buried alive at construction sites. I saw the picture from our helicopter just before I left the station. The guy was buried up to his neck and surrounded by walls of loosely packed sand and dirt. In the back of my mind, I'm hoping he's okay and it could all be over by the time I get there.

That would be fine, but it wasn't the case.

Keep in mind, sometimes it's a little overwhelming when I first get on scene. I have to be focused on doing my job and not getting in the way of the rescue workers. I have to find a safe spot for the van, then I have to get my camera and gear and be ready to start shooting video.

Sometimes I only have seconds to get into position before it's all over. Sometimes I don't even have that.



Sure, I felt sorry for the guy stuck in the trench, but I felt lucky when I found out he was still in there.

Plenty of time to shoot the scene. It was over an hour before the man was pulled out of the trench, but that's not a bad thing. The fire department is very careful in performing rescues.

It's a delicate balance to move quickly and safely.



I was about twenty feet away from the hole when they pulled the man up and I got the shot on video. I did a quick dash around a fire engine to the other side of the scene and followed along with all the other news cameras as the guy was being put into an ambulance.

Relief.

These things can go either way. I'd much rather see the guy being taken away in an ambulance. (the alternative is the coroner's van).

Marvin Stone and Randy Paige had arrived on the scene and had done at least one liveshot. I fed my footage back to the station from their van and kept my fingers crossed that they could turn it in time for the the liveshot.

It was pretty satisfying to see my ground level video during Randy's next hit in the 5:00pm show.



After the guy was out of the trench, the scene quickly started clearing out. No 6:00PM liveshot. We were done. Sure, I would have liked to have cut a package. Maybe next time.

I dropped the mast and helped pack away Marvin's van. A nightside crew was on the scene and I swapped out my disc with them. No messages or pages, so I snapped a couple of still shots, then headed back to the station.

That was all the action for me yesterday. It was exciting and woo-hoo, it felt great. Especially after so many months of nothing but training. For a while at least, I'll have a greater appreciation for ever bit of breaking news I cover. It's tougher right now to say it with conviction, but I don't want anything bad to happen just so I can have an interesting day.

The fact that a man could have died takes a lot of the fun out of what I do.

Whoa.

A lot? Hmm. Yeah, I've been out of the field too long.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I hope the movie is better than the premiere

That came out harser than I intended, but I was in a sour mood when I wrote it.

I like getting a few celebrity shots to share, but these things aren't really much fun to cover. Yesterday sort of started off on the wrong foot because I was a little put off by a couple of their media wranglers. See, when I'm carrying gear, extra steps aren't appreciated.

As I walked up to the red carpet, I got within about ten feet of the media check-in table. There was nobody in line to check in, but they had me walk about forty yards extra through an alcove to circle around back to the table. I didn't have a lot of gear with me, but I saw another photographer coming up after me had a cart and struggled up a few steps along the way.

Things went well after that and other workers were pretty cool, but that initial incident--

Okay, you know what? I'm over it. Let's move along.

So, what was up with the Kevin Costner soul patch? Watch for his picture in the slide show. You'll see what I'm talking about. You can't miss it.



Did you see it? Again, I'm being a little snarky, but I actually appreciate the fact that the stars were pretty considerate.

Most of the stars of the movie made their way around to all of the media on the red carpet. Did you catch the Macy Gray picture? As far as I know, she's not in the movie, but she was working the red carpet. Hmm, probably has a new album coming out.

Demi Moore was the last star to arrive. She talked to half of the media, but had to cut and run past the last half (including me) to get inside. Macy Gray was still doing interviews as I was leaving.

Oh, and I shouldn't have said Demi was the last star to arrive. She was the last star from the movie. Her ex-husband Bruce Willis made his way down the carpet as everyone was packing up to leave. I got a shot of him on video, but didn't get a chance to snap any shots of him with my still camera.

Man, I wish Bruce Willis would have taken a few cues from Macy Gray.

You got to work the carpet.

Mr. Brooks?

I'm standing on the red carpet at the premiere for this Kevin Costner Summer movie.

I can't say this has been a flick I've been looking forward to. I just heard about it last weekend during the previews at the "28 Weeks Later" showing Dellis and I went to. That was a pretty good movie.

Kevin Costner should do a zombie movie.

Here comes the writer. I gotta go.
--
Sent from my BlackBerry

Sunday, May 20, 2007

LAPD Hates Protestors!

Well, probably not, but I wanted to make a point about the rally/march/protest I covered last week and I don't have a lot of time. Here goes. . .

The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I wish I had said that.

That quote popped up on my Google home page yesterday and I thought it applied well to something I've been feeling since the May 1st Immigration Rally. I've helped cover the story that resulted from that day and I've also had an opportunity to talk briefly with my station's reporter and photographer (Marc Coogan and Carl Stein) directly involved.

Sometimes I can get a different perspective on news that you've only watched on TV. On those recently rare good days where I'm out on the street with a camera doing what I do, I've gotten to see and hear for myself the flavor of what's going on.


Photo by Jason Crawford

Sometimes I get a tip or information that can be trusted but not used because it can't be verified. Sorry, I haven't gotten anything like that for this situation.

It's complicated and being on the other side of the camera doesn't actually mean I have a better understanding of why things happened. It certainly doesn't grant me the wisdom of Solomon in being able to suggest an answer to the problems that are hitting us over the head.



I think they were wrong on May 1st for using the tactics that were used. I'm not rushing to judgement just because-- well, heck, it is the LAPD!

I've simply come to that conclusion based on what I've seen of that day.

I'd like to get some satisfaction over the incident, but I won't hold my breath. I also don't ever expect to hear the truth about that day from the officers involved.

Sure, I expect to hear an official accounting of how and why the events progressed. I expect to hear an explanation why violent tactics were used on people who posed no threat. I wouldn't even be surprised to hear an admission of culpability on the part of the LAPD delivered by Chief Bratton himself.

I just don't expect to hear the truth.



The truth could only come from those officers directly involved. I'm not expecting to hear from them directly. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that's how command structure works in public agencies. It would be wonderful to have police officers who follow a standard of honor that would allow them to be candid about their actions. We'll never know what those officers were thinking. We'll never know their motivations or intent.

We'll get a version of the truth that's been filtered for public consumption and possibly spun to minimize the detrimental impact of the situation on the LAPD. It's not what I want, but with so much at stake personally for the officers and politically for the department, it's what I expect.

It doesn't help the situation that in the protests I've covered since May 1st, I've routinely heard people trying to capitalize on the situation in support of their own points of view. It's also no big surprise individuals and groups are using this opportunity to further their own agendas.

A microphone, a bullhorn and a passionate point of view doesn't turn an unreasonable demand into a logical or practical course of action. Even though some of the demands seem to be perfectly reasonable; full accounting, appropriate disciplinary action where warranted, review of policy, apology, and restitution (again, conditionally based on the results of any or all of the 472* independent investigations of the matter)

Seems reasonable.

The problem is, it's difficult to rally people through reasonable discourse. Near as I can tell, for just a small slice of justice you need a bullhorn, lots of shouting and a catchy simple slogan that can be repeated over and over (possibly as a response to a simple question).

What do we want?

Arrest those officers! Fire Chief Bratton! Recall the Mayor! LAPD is corrupt!

There's a lot of this and more shouted as part of the protests that have taken place since May 1st. I hear what's being said and I understand the outrage. I'm just not willing to throw my support behind a scorched earth mentality that would condemn the entire department from the top down.

If there's a problem within an organization, you're going to have a really difficult time fixing the problem by cutting off the head. An organization is still made up of individuals who may or may not always represent the best interests of the organization through their actions.

Haven't we seen that?



We have an opportunity.

While attention is focused on the LAPD, I think it's reasonable to push for improvements in the way they operate. If there's a way to prevent another incident like what happened on May 1st, we should give it our support.

Beyond that, everything is an ongoing process. I hope to see positive change in the immigration policies of our country. I don't expect everyone to be happy with the way that works out, but it does need to change and I'm confident that it will.

Heck, after it changes, I'll fully support the right for people to come out and protest for additional changes. Yeah, and that's without fear of being assaulted by the people who are responsible for enforcing the law.

Darn, time's up. I have to go to work.

Happy Monday!



*Okay, that's just a random number, but there's a whole lot of investigating going on.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Run and find out!

Wow, I hit the three year anniversary mark this week.

It's hard to say exactly how many people have been touched in one way or another by what I write here. When I sat down at my computer three years ago and began sharing details of my life as a broadcast news photographer, I had modest ambitions.

All I wanted to do was keep a journal of some of the interesting events of my day and share it with my family. Specifically my two older kids who both lived pretty far away at that time.



When I started the blog I'd already been taking digital still pictures at news events. Writing in one form or another had been a part of my life since grade school. Being able to put my photos online and jot a few notes about what I did or how I felt turned out to be a very cool experience.

When setting up my template, I remember when I was given the option to make my blog private or public. I chose to leave it public. It never crossed my mind that anyone outside a few family members and friends might read it.

People took an interest and what I posted became part of a daily routine for quite a few people. So much of a routine that I've been told it's disappointing when I don't post. All I can do is grin a little, shrug my shoulders and offer an apology.

Sorry.

Writing and taking pictures are two huge parts of my life. I'm happy to be here and I enjoy your company. I've spent many a late night and early morning wrestling words into a coherent post. There are nights and mornings after long days at the office where it becomes a physically painful battle to stay awake. Sometimes I just flat out lose the battle. I crash. I fall asleep at the keyboard. I can tell you slumping forward isn't nearly as painful as snapping awake and straining my neck as I catch myself drifting off.

Ouch.

There are some days when nothing interesting happens and some days there just isn't enough time to do the story justice. I have to face the fact, I'm never going to be perfect. I'll have to be content and just always try to be better.

It's important to me to keep trying. My ambitions in life remain pretty modest. Much the same as they've been for the last three years and for as long as I can remember. I want to keep seeing it for myself. Just witnessing and being as much a part of life in the world as I can.

Thanks everyone for hanging out with me so far. If you've enjoyed coming around, I hope I can continue to make it worthwhile.

Just know that I appreciate your support and when I don't get something posted, I miss it too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

ACMA Slideshow

Lots to do and very little time. Here's a slideshow from some of my ACMA pics.



See if you can spot the woman that was on the Orange Carpet with Carrot Top (yes, Carrot Top!)

I'll try to catch up later today. (but remember, you can always see most of the shots I took on Flickr)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Academy of Country Music Awards Awards

Gee, I just noticed that my set of 2006 ACM awards photos were titled "ACMA Awards".



Jus' plain and simple "The Academy of Country Music Awards" is the proper title and here's a shot of Shania Twain. (DOH! I mean Teri Clark) A few more of my 2007 ACMA shots can be seen on Flickr.

I'd post more, but I'm not sure I could stay up long enough to make sense.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Groggy Vegas Morning Post

For everyone who said, Las Vegas is wasted on me. Yes, I can see your point. I don't gamble and even though I'll have a beer (or two), what happens in Vegas doesn't have to stay in Vegas.

For most people, what I do when I'm in Las Vegas is pretty dull.



Sure, on the surface, the glitz and glamour of covering a star studded event might seem exciting.

Pfft, no wait, that part is pretty cool. I can certainly vouch for the fact that it sure beats Aurora Edit System training. (Wait, let me check. . .hmm. . .between the two, yes, this is better.)

It's still work though.

We do what we can, but it's not easy to stage and light an interview set with our limited resources when we're out on the road.



For instance, here's award winning photographer Scott Mackie showing how he turns a couple of chairs and a few lights into. . .



. . .this. (Do you want to see that again?)

Sure the hand is quicker than the eye, but the truth of the matter is that we often depend on the kindness of strangers when we're on the road. Maybe not so much complete strangers. The CBS network crew were already set for their Reba McEntire interview and offered to let us use what they had set up. The network crews travel with a few more resources than we do.

For that and their generosity, we are always thankful.



After the work was done, I was much better off staying out of the casinos and hanging out with Scott on the Strip for a little photo safari.



We spent a couple hours wandering the strip in search of the night side beauty and elegance of Las Vegas after dark.

That's more or less what Scott was looking to shoot.

I was looking for the dark seedy underbelly of the city. We walked around for a couple of hours, but didn't find much underbelly. I think underbelly doesn't really start showing up until after like three in the morning. Shucks, I can't stay up that late anymore without a nap.

We called it a night. After our last liveshot tonight, we might try it again, but I don't want to tempt fate too much.

It'd be pretty bad if I had to come home and tell people the Las Vegas underbelly mugged me and took my camera.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How Come There Aren't Any Country Songs About Bloggers?

SNG is the abbreviation for Satellite News Gathering. I'm a news photographer and running satellite trucks is part of what I do. For the next few days I'm running that truck in Las Vegas as part of our coverage for the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMA or ACM Awards).



A lot of you probably already knew that, but the question was asked and I thought it might be good to make sure we were all on the same page.



Even if you already knew what I do, the fact that I'm in Vegas (BABY!) might be breakng news.


Photo by Scott Mackie

I hit town just in time to hang out for an interview with Reba McEntire. That was a couple of hours ago.

Hmm. Funny, but I haven't seen any other celebs since then. I wonder where Carrot Top is hanging out.



It's still been an eventful few hours. I've got to go and secure the SNG and grab a bite to eat. I'm planning on snapping a few more celebrity shots before this over.

Ya'll come on back now, y'hear.

Yeehaaa!

I'm on the road to Las Vegas.. Taking care of the SNG duties for our ACM award show coverage.

I just passed Baker.

Mmm, alien jerky.

I'm hoping for some good photo ops.. I'll keep you posted.
--
Sent from my BlackBerry

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Put me in coach!

Here's an important tip to keep in mind if you ever want to work as a news photographer in the Los Angeles market. Listening? Good. As much as possible, try not to screw up (yes, in my mind I dropped an "eff" bomb there).

Seriously, I'm convinced that I've built a pretty good reputation for myself more by being rock solid dependable in completing assignments than by bringing back pretty pictures. I think every one of our assignment desk folks have a level of confidence in me that makes it easy for them to make the call to send me out on big stories.

Around the corner or around the world, no matter the story, chances are pretty good that I'm going to get the job done and not bug a lot of people while I do it.



I think some of my best days have been the ones where I leave the station with an assignment, cover the story, then make one call at the end of my shift.

"Am I clear to go home?"

Working on the assignment desk seems like a stressful position. They're constantly busy and the fewer phone calls I add to their workload the better.



I'm not sure if any of this had much to do with my assignment last night. Catalina was burning and while Catalina was burning, I was sitting in a strip mall parking lot in Huntington Beach.

It was almost 8:00pm when my cell phone rang. I'd already been lunched and was working on my laptop. I'm taking today off to get more work done around my house (heh-heh, I'll get right on that). The desk needed a liveshot for a crew returning from the island with ground footage of the fire. The station had chartered a boat to make the round trip.

It was going to involve overtime for me and I'd have to pass my house on the way back to North Hollywood because I'd be leaving Unit #19 for the weekend. It was still my wedding anniversary. I hadn't planned anything, but I was hoping to see Dellis again before the day was over. On top of all that, I had volunteered to go to Catalina earlier in the day (I was kidding, but I didn't really believe they'd send someone).

That late in my shift, to only cover a liveshot or tape feed, you could describe my mood as not eager, but willing.



Yippee.

Reporter Sharon Tay knocked on my van door just before I left the station. She thought I might be her photographer for the story she was covering. Nope, not me. At this point, I wanted to vent just a little because I would have much rather gone out and shot a package with a reporter. I didn't get to vent. She was nice about it, but she was gone as soon as I told her I wasn't her photog.

Okay, I program my GPS unit and head down to Huntington Beach. I think I would have found the location quicker without it, but hey, at least I had the pleasure of it talking to me.

"Right turn in 300 yards. . .prepare to turn right. . .turn right. . .I said, RIGHT. . .(sigh). . .RE-calculating."



Our crew didn't make it back from the island. Plan "B", they were going to send video by way of the charter boat, but the boat didn't make it back in time with the video either.

I sat in the parking lot with my mast up for almost three hours. The women who were belly dancing (yeah, belly dancing) at the Pelican Isle bar stopped and asked about the evacuations on Catalina. It might be a better story if they were still in costume, but I thought it was an interesting bit of surreal life.

The desk cleared me to break down and head back to the station halfway through the 11:00pm newscast. I got home about two in the morning and that pretty much shot down my plan to "get up early and get a lot done".

It is Friday and I have a long weekend ahead. Sometime today, I'm going to turn on the news and find out if Catalina is still there. I'm not bitter. I got to see the Seal Beach Water Tower Home and a couple of belly dancers talked to me in the parking lot outside of a bar. It sounds a lot more interesting in writing than it actually was.

Not bad for a slow day at the office. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Roses are red. . .

We're both too busy to just take the day off in the middle of the week this year. That doesn't diminish the importance of this particular personal milestone. Dellis and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary today.



I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't subject anyone to bad romantic poetry. Since it's a work day and I can't have a beer while I'm typing this post, I think I'm going to be able to stick to that promise.

Because of the way things work out for a lot of people in the world, I think it's nice to know that even with all the problems life can throw at a marriage, some couples can make things work.

It's really super nice to be one of those couples.

Happy Anniversary to us.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Five Minutes on Fire.

Here's a speed post before I call it a night.

There's no such thing as a good fire. Even if nobody gets hurt, the property damage might cause financial hardship or emotional pain.

Seeing a fire blazing in the distance doesn't mean the same to me that it does to everyone else. If I see a fire in the distance, I'm wondering how come I'm not over there covering the fire?



I had to write a report. Seriously. I never left the station. These pictures were taken from the roof at about 9:30pm.



Other than the different point of view I experienced, there wasn't a whole lot to be said for my first day back of my short work week.



Maybe I could have fought harder to get the assignment, but the truth is, things always work out better for me if I just have patience. That's tough to do when I know I'm missing a good fire.

"Time!"

Okay, I'm going to go to bed. When I wake up tomrrow, I hope this post makes some kind of sense.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Attack of the Killer "be"

I was taking today off to catch up with some of the yard work I've neglected in the last several months. Working a dayside shift really cut into my yard time. It's a mess outside, front and back. I was really looking forward to the day in the yard. That WAS the plan.

Instead I have to deal with some unexpected visitors.



AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

We got bees.

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Not a lot, but I didn't really hang around to try and count them. I've been stung before and I'm not too much interested in facing a full swarm (even a little swarm).



It looks like they've taken up residence inside a utility cabinet in our back yard.

Our dog Kayla does not seem happy about it. I brought her inside. Better safe, because I'm not sure they wouldn't attack her. She's been moping at the top of the stairs. Even her favorite inside-the-house football toy doesn't seem to be cheering her up.



It's a potentially dangerous situation and I'd rather just let the bees hang out. The thing is, I'm not the smartest man when it comes to your "nature" and "science" and such. Even so, somewhere along the way I've gotten it in mind that bees actually help the environment. You know, pollinating and making honey and stuff.

For those reasons alone, I'm almost tempted to let them stay. From what I'm picturing in my mind, as tempting as it is, the holy grail of a lifetime free honey supply isn't nearly enough of a trade-off.

Nope, I'm not taking any chances. I'm on my way up to the hardware store to see if there's a humane (or inexpensive) way to get rid of them.



Coincidentally, the trip to the hardware store is plan "B". Plan "A" fell through.

Want to know why? Again, I'm not the smartest man, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it on nature shows. When it comes to natural enemies, there's one predator that will attack bees fearlessly.

Unfortunately, I don't know anyone that can rent me a bear.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

How do you say in Spanish, it's my birthday and I turned 46? Here, let me try.

"El birthday--"

Never mind, It would only just get worse from there.

I'm going to go for a run, then come back and finish the first post of my 46th year.

Here are some pictures (mostly) from yesterday. I'll explain them when I get back.



Hey, I'm back. In case you're wondering, this was my first day back to the gym this year. I lost a lot of ground (and I wasn't that fit to begin with), but at least I had the good sense not to kill myself on my first day back. Anyway, on with the show. . .

My cell phone rang just as I was passing through downtown Los Angeles. It was Rod from the assignment desk. The station needed me to relieve the photographer standing by at the Baldwin/Bassinger court hearing. On the one hand, YIPPEE! I can handle that.

On the other hand, isn't he the Baldwin who hits photographers? (Not that I was worried or anything.)



You already know how that played out. The lawyers had promised to come out and make a statement after the hearing. For whatever reason, they left without making an appearance. Baldwin wasn't even required to be in court, so I found out that he was never there. Everyone who had been there earlier in the day had gotten shots of Bassinger. I would have liked to have gotten a still shot, but I'll get over it.

It was half past six when the desk finally cleared me. The mic stand and all the other crews were long gone by that time.

I thought I was safe for the evening. I was wrong.

You might remember this shot from a few months back when I covered the "Alpha Dog" movie premiere. That's Paris Hilton pulling up in her convertible Bentley.



Recognize the car in the driveway. Okay, shake your monitor or nod your head up and down really quickly. Recognize it now?



I recognized it. As it sat in the driveway of Paris Hilton's house in West Hollywood, I spotted it right off the bat.

It must have been my day to be the relief photographer, because that's what i was doing around 9:00pm last night. We had covered Paris' own court appearance earlier that day and someone back at the station wanted to get footage of her coming and going and you never know when a celebrity might just throw common sense out the door and come over to talk to the media.

It could happen.

Hey, you can laugh all you want, but we're in sweeps, darn it!



One thing that makes these assignments worthwhile to me is the opportunity to meet and talk to people. There were three Paris Hilton fans keeping the media company out on the sidewalk.



Clockwise from the top, that's Anthony, Nereida, and Alma. I'm not a Paris Hilton fan, but they were nice young people and they were having fun just hanging out in the hopes of maybe getting an autograph or a picture of a celebrity whom they enjoy.

Now, it would seriously freak me out if my kids were hanging around in front of a celebrity's house at night, but I don't want to judge it. They caught enough crap from the folks driving by and yelling at them. I hope they weren't bothering Paris Hilton, but I'm sure they weren't doing anything to the people just driving past.

Because I know how dangerous the world can be, I wish they'd find another (safer) way to enjoy their young adulthood. The object of their adulation might not be a choice I understand, but their willingness to brave the cold, the dark, and the slurs of strangers kind of makes me nostalgic for the summer nights of my misspent youth.



Hanging out in front of a celebrity's home? I don't think I really ever did anything like that. Sure, I'm doing it now and I have to admit it was kind of fun.

Just keep in mind, I was getting paid to be there.

By the way, I saw that cat leave from Paris Hilton's yard. I don't know if it's her cat or not, but I'm gonna try to sell the picture to the Enquirer. You never know. They might give me a couple of bucks for it.