Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hey, it is Tuesday.

My condolences and prayers to Chris Maxwell and her family over the passing of her step-father David Shaw. He was the writer of the 1969 movie "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" and I have extremely fond memories of seeing that movie at the Academy Theater in Inglewood when I was too young to get the jokes.

At the end of my shift last night I was talking with Chris' husband, Paul Skolnick. He told me about their family's loss and shared with me David Shaw's obituary from the LA Times.

As I read through the obituary, Paul mentioned to me his observation of how often interesting people pass through life and we miss opportunities to know them.

I'll have to double check, but I think Paul actually used the words "really cool" when he was talking about the people in those missed opportunities.

I'm amazed and absolutely inspired by David Shaw's writing accomplishments. He was a part of television's golden age and his obituary reads like he just decided what he wanted to do, then went out and worked to make it happen.

That's going to stay with me for a long time. I hope his family is able to find some comfort in knowing that he lived a life that continues to inspire others. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to meet him (and also very thankful I had the opportunity to photograph him).

I guess I just want Chris and her family to know that I'm very sorry for their loss and I also think David Shaw was "really cool".

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ikea and Beer Don't Mix

This photo wasn't from this past weekend, but it's what I had in mind and never really got around to.  All weekend, just a beer and time to write was the goal, but it wasn't happening.

Dellis and I were busy.  I had a few minutes here and there, but mostly I was shopping at Ikea (I really hate Ikea) and putting together furniture from Ikea (strangely, I find that relaxing and pleasant).

Hmm, I think it's supposed to be spelled with all capital letters.  You know what?  I simply despise them too much to give them that satisfaction.

Take that Ikea!

The downstairs carpet got cleaned and I got to spend some time with Dellis.  I cram as much as I can into the two days we have together, but I've got more to do than I'm ever going to squeeze into two days.

The lawn is calling me.  It's feeling neglected and wants some attention.

It's Monday and I have an Aurora trainee tonight.  If we get a good story, I'm cutting it.


Okay, not really.  You know I'm not going to bump the trainee.  I'll still hope for a good story.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Return to Sorrow and Tragedy

Take a breath, a lot happened in the last couple of days.

Yesterday I was suffering from lack of sleep. I'd gotten back to the station and clocked out at 1:15am. This was after driving back from Mojave. I made it home and went to bed around 2:30am, then got up and drove back to work around 6:00am.

Lord, I was groggy. I was trying to figure out how to put into words what it felt like to cover the deaths of the people involved in the explosion out at the Mojave Airport. Trying to convey the emotional impact that I experience seems worthwhile, but borders on narcissistic at times. I want to be careful in what I write for public viewing, but it's probably not worth the effort if I can't be honest.

As I coached another edit trainee yesterday, in the back of my mind I was remembering the look on the face of the guy who runs the Mojave company that lost two employees.

We'd already started the press conference with the Airport Manager and a Kern County Sheriff Deputy when the company representative joined them at the table. It seemed like it was difficult for him to focus. That was pretty easy to understand.

I think I interviewed people from his company several years ago. It was the only other time I'd visited the Mojave Airport.

He was agitated by the reports in the media that had not gotten the facts correct. We get blamed as a group no matter who makes the mistake.

His iPhone kept ringing during the press conference and he didn't know how to turn it off. The Airport Manager had a Treo and was having the same problem.

All three were distrustful of our ability to maintain a level of compassion and decorum.

They warned us against "mobbing" them with our questions.
That bothered me, but there was nothing to do or say. I let it go and just did my job.

After the press conference the evening wasn't very eventful.

We had trouble getting a dub from a stringer because his consumer camcorder's cable was bad.

Fox11 helped us out with a dub of their dub from the stringer and we returned the favor by letting them power their truck from our generator.

The wind was very strong and blew over a light (the reporter caught it before it hit the ground).

These were just thoughts and things easy to remember about Thursday. Some of it was mundane, but the look on the face of the Company rep might haunt me for a while. The story that my edit trainee and her reporter were working was a follow up piece on Lindsey Lohan.

One day you have a tragedy with direct lifelong impact on all who knew the people involved and then you have a story about a self-destructive celebrity. Don't ask me to show you the facts (I couldn't prove it to you), but I'm sure it's true (and disturbing to know) that more people will watch and be interested in Lindsey Lohan's story.

Just before our liveshot at 2:00pm, we got word that we'd be "floated" (our story would be later in the show) because of the helicopter accident.

What helicopter accident? Whose helicopter?

My heart sank and I felt queasy for a while after I got the news. I hate to admit it, but I was relieved to know it hadn't happened here. That's not being a good person, that's just being honest. Way back when I first started working in news in Los Angeles, my first staff job with KCAL was as a helicopter photographer. That didn't last long (we should talk about that some other time), but I know Larry Welk and people who fly for the other stations in town.

I also know how my friends and family worried about me during that period.

We followed the story the rest of the afternoon. I resisted the urge to pick up my cell phone and call the Chief. I'd volunteer to go to Phoenix and he knows that. There really wouldn't be any need to call him. He'd just get a laugh out of it.

The day ended uneventful. No call came and I found out we weren't sending anyone to Phoenix.

You bet I was tired when I got home and I was drained. It's been a while. Dealing with death as an aspect of my job feels the same as it always has. Riding the roller coaster ups and downs of assignments that hit a broad range emotionally is a part of my life that I hadn't dealt with recently.

I'm off today. It's my weekend. I'm working around the house and unless the station changes the decision not to go to Phoenix, I'll try to take it easy this weekend. None of what I covered the last couple of days was about me. After I get this post written and on my blog I'll roll up my sleeves and do some work that will take my mind off of death.

I'll try not to think about it, because there's always the bottom line. The stories weren't about me. I can't claim to have lost someone in either accident, but I did (and do) feel something.

As a News Photographer it's better for me not to take stock or keep track. The thought that every death chips away and diminishes us discourages that kind of introspection. Many of us believe in what we do and we have to have that faith in our profession.

Even though most of us have to work for a living, I'm not completely sure we could do this particular job knowing the price we pay might not be worth it.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Not looking to be clever. My prayers go out to the victims of the Phoenix news chopper crash.

It was like a punch in the gut when I heard.
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Back to Tragedy

When I write about my day, sometimes I just want to start by saying, "Don't feel sorry for me."

It's part of the job.  Every now and then I'll be thrown a curve and have to switch gears to get my head into the assignment, but any inconvenience I'm suffering is clearly minor compared to the real suffering experienced by the people involved in the story we're covering.

That was the case yesterday when I got pulled off the scheduled training (YOINK!) and found myself with a reporter heading for the Mojave Desert.

Driving out to the desert?  Well, that's really just another day at the office.  It's not the same as driving to Beverly Hills and covering a gallery opening, but not in the least unusual.

Well, unusual for me this year.  Almost all I've been doing for months is training people to use the edit system.  Heck, I can't even bring myself to call it "new" anymore.

In spite of any and all of my complaints, it's my own fault for having fallen into a casual routine because of the training schedule.

Shoot, I knew that was going to happen.

Lots of photographers might feel like I'm being blasphemous, but I was happy to be working with a reporter.  That does sound weird, but you have to understand that it's a rare thing for me to work in the field.

Still, the nature of the story made it difficult to work up a positive attitude towards actually covering the news.

I wasn't even handling the satellite chores.  Any way you looked at it, my day just was not looking good.

The story itself put things in perspective.

I've got to get started on the day.  I'll continue this later.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Changing Gears

No training today. I'm heading out to Mojave with a reporter.

My reaction? I can't print that sort of language in a family friendly blog.

Dayside shift tomorrow. Maybe I'll see a little short turn around and overtime money out of the deal.
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The Bourne (camera) Ultimatum

All I could think was that it it's been weeks and months since I've shot anything. I covered the lucky baby born a couple of weeks ago and I shot an interview on the 4th of July, but nothing recently that was particularly interesting.

When I found out my trainee for the week had called in sick, I went all YIPPEE! Then I felt bad for being happy about someone else's misfortune.

Then I went YIPPEE again.

I was assigned to cover "The Bourne Ultimatum" premiere over at the Arclight Theaters. Cool. Premieres are usually fun to post about.

At least that's what I thought.

Right after I took this shot, a couple of older ladies (they looked like premiere organizers) came over and asked me not to take stills. They were nice enough about it and I think they might have expected me to put up more of a fuss.

About fifty feet to my left were all the professional still guys. About a hundred feet to my right were fans with any and all kinds of still cameras. No, it doesn't make sense, but it's not my event.

The way I look at it, I'm only there for one reason. I'm covering their event for the news and still shots aren't part of that coverage. It's fun to be able to snap a picture or two at the interesting places I go. . .

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne (artist's rendering)

. . .but it's not a necessary part of what I do (for my job or my blog) and I'm still looking forward to the movie.

I'll be back to running a training session today. Hey, is it just me or does anyone else expect Matt Damon to talk like his puppet self from "Team America: World Police"?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Portraits II

Just another training day today.  To boost my spirits and satisfy my creative tendencies I was goofing around in Photoshop this morning.  Here's a casual shot of Anchor/Reporter Leyna Nguyen taken on election night last year.

I keep thinking I might want to get permission before posting pictures of my co-workers. 

Maybe I mentioned it before, but my biggest anxiety over portrait shots of women is that they won't like how they look in the photo.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Shakespeare Bits

You know who kicks ass? Shakespeare does. I enjoy pop culture as much as the next guy in line to buy a ticket to see Pirates-Transformers-Die-Hard-Potter-Shrek III: The Movie, but there are often times when I need my entertainment to be a little less escapist and a little more challenging.

Dellis and I (along with #1 son) attended (at the invite of Paul Skolnick) the Shakespeare by the Sea production of "The Taming of the Shrew" over the weekend.

This is the third year we've hit the show and I'm thinking this production has been my favorite so far. So, KER-POW! Score big two-fisted points for me in my battle against the dumbing down of literary and cultural entertainment (yeah, take that Pierre Bourdieu).

It's hard to believe that I've seen enough Shakespeare to be able to compare productions. Maybe even harder to believe my appreciation has grown to the point where I actually have favorites ("Much Ado About Nothing", "Romeo and Juliet", and "Hamlet" thank you).

Okay, maybe not all his most challenging works. At least I'm talking real stage productions and not the Muppet or Leonardo DiCaprio versions.

Don't tell any theater snobs, but I will confess to a strong belief that Michael Keaton is the definitive Dogberry.


Okay, I finished Harry Potter.

When does the next book come out?
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BTW - This happened to be my 1000th blog post. I'm going to have a beer after I get home tonight to celebrate.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Book 8: "Harry Potter and The People Too Old To Be Dressing Up Like Harry Potter Characters!"

They were seriously freaking me out tonight. Grown people playing dress up and waiting for the Harry Potter book to go on sale.

Don't get me wrong, I'm going to read the the book. I just won't be wearing a costume while I'm doing it.

Yeah, I know. A grown man reading Harry Potter?

Honestly, I read a lot of junk that I regret having read and I have a stack of "good" books sitting on my desk and scattered around the house. The Harry Potter books are fun. I starting reading the series when I was looking for something to share with my youngest. She got bored with the series after the third book, but I kept going.

I want to know what happens.

Tonight I was at "The Grove" coaching an Aurora (or is that Auror) trainee and helping to cover the festivities of the book going on sale at the Barnes and Noble's book store.

Yup, you wouldn't catch me dressing up in wizardry robes, but that flat out wasn't true for a lot of the people who showed up to buy the book.

Capes were popular and so were lightning bolts on foreheads. Wands, yellow and burgundy scarves, school girl uniforms, and black rimmed glasses were a pretty common sight.

It looked like someone had started a fashion trend as a joke, but it caught on and now all these people are wearing it and the designer is laughing (and probably counting huge stacks of money).

While the Potter fans were eagerly waiting for the book to go on sale, I ran camera for a couple of liveshots, then called it a week and made my way home.

Lots of people wanted to know what we were covering tonight. Some of them laughed and made snide comments about the fans waiting for the release of a book. They weren't making fun of the way the fans were dressed. They were making fun of them for being excited about a book (of all things).

That's the world we live in. People who read and set a great example for young kids by showing them it's okay to read, they get mocked and ridiculed.

I think about this a lot. The world could be better. It could easily be better, but I'm probably preaching to the choir here. All I want is for everybody to be smarter. That could start with reading (I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter what).

Oh, and since I'm a seriously flawed person myself, I'm still going to make fun of grown ups who dress like wizards.You don't need to dress like a fictional character to set a good example.

(pssst - Go easy on me if there's typos. I'm half asleep and looking forward to finding the other half.)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Testing Flock

I've been trying out Flock. It's a web browser that does some really cool things for folks like me who deal with a lot of photos on-line.

One of the things that I really like about editing my posts with Flock is that I can use a large image size.

Blogged with Flock

If you watch "Lost", that's Bai Ling. She played the role of Jack's lover/tattoo artist this past season. I got that from a reliable source. Everybody knows I wouldn't have had any idea who she was.

Check, check. One. . .two. . .one. . .two. Just testing.

(Yeah, you're right. I suppose I didn't need to use the picture of the Playboy Bunnies.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Snapshots are better than no shots

It wasn't that I forgot the big camera today, I didn't think I was going to need it.

Famous last words.

The Celebrity Vault Gallery
in Beverly Hills is hosting a showing of photos from the Playboy archives.

It was a really good show, but walk away now if you're offended by anything typical of anything involved in the world of Playboy.

I don't have much to say. I just think it's somewhat ironic that Dellis and I recently watched the animated version of "Watership Down".

I'm just saying.


Remember that shoot I helped with back in June? The Marilyn Monroe gallery show in Beverly Hills?

We're going back tonight to cover the opening of their new show.

This should be a good one. Guys were fighting for this assignment.
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Tijuana odds and ends and a job that mostly ROCKS!

Being a News Photographer ROCKS!

Being a News Photographer who volunteers to help train his brethren news photographers on their station's new computerized non-linear edit system because he picks up on computer software faster than most people and has a nice calm relaxed teaching style doesn't really rock.

Having a boss who has always rewarded the good work ethics and the positive attitude of yours truly also ROCKS!

When you add it all up, even when I'm training people I can still go to work and feel like I'm doing a job I enjoy. No doubt, I'd choose working in the field over training, but this needs to be done and I can do it.

I'm in the middle of another training week and there haven't been many photo opportunities. Here's a few more shots of Tijuana.

I didn't know they had a Costco.

Not much else going on. We've got another busy weekend coming up (details to follow), so my plan is to get the yardwork out of the way today.

That's not really my plan, but She Who Must Be Obeyed is expecting that it is.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bend it like beFrank

I don't get it. The whole Beckham thing is almost scary.

Last week when he arrived "in the States", I was out at LAX to help cover his arrival. Wow, outside of Paris Hilton, I've never seen the type of coverage his arrival generated.

Don't be mad a me, I'm not putting him down or anything. I'm just saying, I don't get it. The media was there and that was more or less expected. The number of fans who showed up was freaking amazing.

Amazing? Heh-heh, yeah, I wanted to say, "crazy", but we don't use the "C" word when it comes to fans. Sometimes they can track people down.

Fan-girl with the flowers talked to a lot of the media folks looking for a soundbite.

This was the first time I've seen this. The airport needed barricades and a large police presence. All this in anticipation of possible trouble because of an arriving passenger?

I'm not mad at them. Well, maybe a little, because that has to cost money. Are we paying for that? Is that coming out of taxpayers pockets?

If you saw the story, then you might have seen that the entire arrival lasted just long enough for Beckham and Spice-wife to walk from the terminal to a waiting SUV.

Don't blink, in less than a minute they got in the car and drove off.


Sure, don't stop to talk to me, but you had fans waiting out there for hours. Fan-girl carrying the roses? She looked kind of hurt that the cops wouldn't let her close enough to have that fan dream moment.

It's probably tough to be Beckham. The money and perks all look nice, but there's that huge lack of privacy trade off. I don't think Beckham and Posh can go out in public without being mobbed and no matter what they do, no matter how many autographs they sign, the one person they pass up becomes fodder for all the papparrazzi and bloggers.

I'm chewing on this one. When you witness this kind of event and you're not one of the fans, it changes your perspective on being that enthusiastic of a fan of anything.

I'm all for enjoying life to the fullest. I'll admit that sometimes I miss the innocence and reckless abandon. Having seen the extent "fans" will go in blindly worshipping cardboard heroes, I can only scratch my head and keep the camera rolling.

The roses were nice. I hope Fan-girl or someone she knows got to appreciate them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Name's Not Earl

No, I wasn't looking for better Karma.

There really isn't much that I can offer in explanation of why we volunteered, but maybe it doesn't really matter why Dellis and I spent the weekend in Tijuana. It was a charitable effort, a good cause, and a great opportunity to do more than write a check.

(Yeah, I wanted to get my hands dirty.)

Why Tijuana? Well, that's just where the organization was going. I'm telling you, I really didn't think this thing though. It was an opportunity to do something for the benefit of someone other than ourselves.

That could have been famous last words, but really it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time.
It's not like we were going to a war zone, but there's always some anxiety for me when I travel to places where I don't speak the language. I've got a great memory for some things, but I have a terrible time with languages.

It surprising me am some good with English.

I muddled through, but I kept wishing I'd brought along additional interpreters (yeah, I'm looking at you Mr. and Mrs. "asantana"). I didn't know what I was going to face and wasn't comfortable bringing in others to an unknown situation.

Luckily, even with the language barrier, everything worked out well and our part of the weekend put a lot of smiles on the faces of people who needed the clinic.

There was a wide range of medical problems treated.

People were able to get some medications and some surgical procedures were performed. I wanted to photograph more of the clinic's activities, but on both days we had a steady stream of people in line to have their pictures taken.

Compared to the medical help being given, it still felt to me like a small thing to take a picture, but we all do what we can (heck, and if not, we should).

I don't know much of what their lives are like, but most of these people seemed poor to point that it wouldn't be a stretch to believe they don't have money for pictures.

Many of these people looked like they only had room in their lives for being focused on just getting through the day.

I didn't diagnose any illnesses. I didn't perform any surgeries. I didn't even bandage any cuts or scrapes.

I just took a lot of pictures.

A few shots from the weekend were snapshots for me. Something to post to show where we were and what we were doing. Most of the photos I took were for the people who came to the clinic. I hope they like them and put them in frames or albums and keep them for a long time.

All I know is the photos brought some smiles and some happiness to people who were in pain. I hope they get better and I hope the photo will make them smile and maybe forget just a little of the pain.

I'm not looking for a reward for that. I'm just trying to do what's right and it seemed like the right thing to do.

Viva beFrank!

At my dentist appointment today I couldn't help feeling like a wuss every time I flinched during my teeth cleaning.

Before this last weekend, I wouldn't have been so hard on myself, but I'm still cringing from some of what I saw over the weekend (heck, and I work in news).

I'm still gathering my thoughts and organizing the photos. It was quite an experience and I don't mind sharing. I just need to take minute to let it sink in.

The slideshow contains about sixteen shots.

These and about a hundred more can be found on my Flickr page. I took over six hyndred shots and I'll be posting more from the weekend.

As usual I have more on my mind than I have time to write about.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Best Medicine

My internet access is spotty, so I'm just going to throw a few pictures up and hope they make it through.

We spent a long day at the LIGA (Flying Doctors of Mercy) clinic in a part of Tijuana that the tourists don't really vist.

What are we doing? Well, everybody else is working on treating any medical problems. Dellis and I are taking photos of the families visiting the clinic and printing the pictures for them on site. It's not really a medical function, but the families are having a blast. Really. It seems to be giving them something to smile and laugh about and that seems to be counting for something.

When I volunteered, I was just interested in helping in any way that I could. I'm glad the photo thing presented itself. Shoot, you know that was right up my alley.

We'll be wrapping it up today and heading back home. I'll check in later and let you know we made it home safely.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

TJ Clinic

We're on a bus heading back to the hotel. It's been a difficult day.

I could tell a few heartbreaking stories, but I pretty much expected that.

More to come.
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Friday, July 13, 2007

The Flying Doctors of Mercy

Sounds like an improv group.

They're not.

It's a charitable organization that provides medical care to those in need. This weekend Dellis and I are volunteering our time to help at one of their clinics.

The clinic is in Tijuana. Yup, the Mexico one.

We're sitting in our car in Otay Mesa waiting for the group to arrive. I think this should be interesting.

I'll keep you posted.
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Hit and run

As eager as I am to resume my career in actually covering the news as broadcast news photographer, there're some aspects of the job that I'm in no real rush to get back to.

Wednesday night Elizabeth Sandoval was hit and killed by a car in Glendale. The driver never stopped and is still at large.

It was almost 10:30pm and I had been sitting around the station without an assignment. I was waiting for a breaker, but didn't really expect anything to happen that late into my shift.

I should have known better. Expecting the unexpected is what I'm supposed to call normal. Just rack it up to recent patterns of slow news days and the station not rolling me out unless the story was pretty big.

I don't mean to trivialize the death of a person, but we don't cover every traffic fatality. Honestly, I don't even know how the decision is made. That's not my call and I just roll out when they tell me.

Almost 10:30pm when I left the station in Studio City. The timing couldn't have been any tighter and I got thrown a curve ball. On the way to the location, I was told a reporter was right behind me with another photographer.

My job was now to just get to the location and set up for a liveshot. I was in one of our combo SNG/microwave trucks and my last breaking news liveshot was months ago.

I got the signal established. The reporter and other photographer arrived on scene shot video and got a statement from a police official. It felt like I was running through sand the whole time. Yeah, it's been a while since I was out in the field, but we made it on air.

One live hit at the top of the 11:00pm newscast and we were done at the scene. I dropped the mast and we packed up. The total time there may have been less than thirty minutes. I was never more than twenty feet from the truck the whole time and was never closer than half a block to the spot where Elizabeth Sandoval's body lay in the street.

In the short time I was there I was focused on just trying to get my job done. I left and didn't know much more than I knew an hour earlier before I had the assignment. That didn't bother me until this morning when I looked at the photos I had quickly snapped.

In the third picture (you might have to look closely) near the front of the police car, you can see the covered body of Elizabeth Sandoval. It was just a random quick wide shot of the scene. Not a big deal, it just caught me off guard. I just try not to be that casual about taking pictures in these circumstances. As a photographer (video or still) I'm responsible for everything I shoot. I don't want to accidentally add to any one's grief and I don't want to be surprised by anything I put on TV (or my blog).

Just a small hit.

I'll get over it, but even though I understand the nature of what we do and feel like I'm just doing my job as best I can. There're some feelings of guilt and frustration. We do what we can, but the run and gun coverage of such a tragedy feels like so much less than Elizabeth Sandoval deserves.

I gotta go.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two steps back

It's been a busy week and I'm not likely to catch a break. A couple of days ago I was on a general assignment shift and I wanted to spend more time on the post about it, but my life doesn't work like that. I'm have more work to around the house, than I have actual work to do for my job.

There's fun coming, just not this week.

I'm packing for a charitable event Dellis and I are participating in this weekend and making arrangements for a family trip in August.

More to come on both later.

So, Monday was really my first day back in the field just shooting and cutting with a reporter since--

Shucks, I can't even remember the last time I was out there without a trainee. That's kind of depressing. The story we covered was nice, positive and simple so that helped some.

We covered the baby born to a couple on 7/7/07. The lucky kid was also seven pounds and seven ounces.

That sounds like it would have been a huge pay-out in Vegas.

Somebody accused me of being spoiled. Just because I didn't have my regular van with the XDCam and Aurora edit system.

Yeah, I've been training other folks to run the new gear, but wound up shooting and cutting tape. Spoiled? Me?

Of course I am.

Plus, my brain is so full of Aurora stuff, I'm lucky to even remember how to put the tape in the camera.

We made slot. Yay, I even manged to remember how to do a liveshot.

I've got one more field shift this week. I hope by tomorrow morning I'll have gotten a little rest and a chance to do a better post-mortem on my week back in the field. By Monday they should have Unit #19 back up and running. I'll be hitting the road in it again. . .

. . .with a trainee.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Somebody should ask.

I'm not going to spend my morning on this, but it's been on my mind. I've come across more than a couple of people who want to know why the personal life of the Mayor is news.

Look, so far I don't think anybody is asking him how she was in bed. Maybe people aren't watching the coverage and just assuming we're digging for tabloid nugget details of the affair.

Okay, the Mayor had an affair. Did he lie to his wife? If he did, why should I believe he won't lie to me? Was he fooling around when he should have been seeing to the business of running the city?

It's frustrating that people don't think these are "fair" questions.

It kind of makes me want to yell and bang my head on the side of the newsvan. From where I stand, I think these are legitimate questions. Maybe it's just me, but I believe a huge part of his job as an elected official involves trust. Can we trust him? He's our Mayor and I want to know about his character. I want to believe that I can trust him to represent my interests as a citizen of Los Angeles.

Have we let our expectations fall so low as to not believe we can (or should) hold our elected officials to a higher standard?

If you don't want to ask the question, that's fine. There are a lot of people (I'm one of them) who want to ask the question. I want to be reassured.

Dude, can we trust you?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Congrats, you old Wolf.

He wouldn't remember me, but I've met Wolfgang Puck a few times. I've got the pictures and probably a little video to prove it, but that's all buried in the archives.

I came across this photo of him and the new "Mrs. Puck" as I was reading my online news of the day.

A few years back, we used to shoot a cooking segment with Chef Mario Martinoli. I miss those segments. It was my favorite feature segment of all time because we got to eat a lot of the food that was featured.

I was spoiled. After having shot and eaten at many of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area, I actually learned how to tell the difference between a good meal and a REALLY REALLY GOOD MEAL. (sigh) I can never look at an AM/PM hot dog the same way ever again.

We interviewed Puck in his Beverly Hills "Spago" restaurant. I don't remember why, but it wasn't the regular cooking segment. That meant no chance of sampling some of the Spago menu. Yeah, true, we could have just bought something, but don't be silly. That's not the point. Free food, man. Free.

Even though it was just cool to be inside, two things made it even cooler. Angela Bassett was having a meal and she noticed that I recognized who she was.

I was grinning and thinking, hey, that's Angela Bassett.

She smiled and I took that to mean, you're right. Yes, it is Angela Bassett.

The second thing that happened was right after the interview. Chef Mario had to leave right away. Just the producer and I were left and we were gathering up our gear. Wolfgang Puck put his had on my shoulder and asked, "Tell me, what can I cook for you guys?"

Wow. One of the most famous and accomplished chefs that I'd ever likely meet offered to feed us. I had nothing else scheduled. This was sure to be memorable.

It didn't happen. The producer, an admitted "meat and potatoes" kind of guy, told Wolfgang Puck that he had to get back to work on the segment.

That wasn't really true.

There's a lot of things I could have said or done that would have found me eating a meal at Spago. At the time, I was just too stunned. Grrr. That particular opportunity may never present itself again, but it's all in the past at this point. I've had many great experiences since and I'll hopefully have many more.

The producer was let go soon after for reasons unrelated. Well, he was producing a fine dining segment and didn't like fine food. That might have been part of the problem.

Congrats and good luck to Mr. and Mrs. Puck. I bet the food at the reception was pretty good.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I like to watch

Uh, that post title is a quote, not a confession. I'm talking about my yard. Maybe I should have gone with something less open to interpretation.

"All is well...and all will be well...in the garden."

Hmmm. Nope, I like the first one better.

I'll give you fair warning. This post contains nothing about my job as a news photographer. It's the weekend, so I worked at home on my yard (bad back and all).

All year it's been difficult for me to get anything major done in the yard and I've fallen behind on the regular upkeep more often than I've actually kept up.

The thought of cutting back on the higher maintenance plantings has crossed my mind. Mostly after I've put in a few hours out in the sun.

Still, it's nice to go outside and be able to pick enough apples for Dellis to bake a pie.

Say it with me, "Mmmmmmmmm, pie".

Dellis bakes the pies. I work in the yard and eat the pies. It's a good system and I'd hate to upset the delicate balance of nature.

I was actually going to skip the yard work this weekend because of my back, but Dellis and I had bought a couple of flats of lisianthus. Some of them were starting to droop and I wasn't sure they'd make it through another weekend.

I've put in a lot of daylilies, but I also have a lot of them still in the pots they were in when I bought them.

Sorry, but I can't help myself. I stalk the local Lowe's Garden Center for marked down plants that I think I can save. I buy them during the week and try to get them planted over the weekend.

Come on, 50% - 75% off? I can't help myself. I call it a sickness, but some people just call me cheap.

One of our pygmy palms is almost six feet tall. When it gets taller than me, I don't think it's fair to call it a pygmy any more.

It's a shame I don't spend more time out here. Were this far into the summer and I still haven't lit a fire or spent any time out on the deck.

There's just so much more that needs to be done and I have a hard time sitting back to enjoy it when there are things still needing to be done.

Well, at least it's all looking good in pictures.

Rome wasn't built in a day, so I'll keep working on it. I kind of like the idea that it never will be finished. It'll continue to evolve and grow.

In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

It's Sunday night and tomorrow I go back to work. A couple more days in the yard wouldn't hurt, but it should be an interesting week. More news and less garden talk.

I promise.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ready, set. . .

Right now I'd rather be sitting at home resting my back. Instead of that I'm sitting in the AAA travel office to get help in planning an important family trip. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to the trip (details to follow), but let me just say, "OUCH!"

Sent from my BlackBerry

Friday, July 06, 2007

Occupational Hazard

A reader by the name of Florian left a nice blogger comment on my last post that made mention of my writing about what "moves me".

Hmm, I wish something could help "move me" off the couch where I've been most of the day.

I haven't written much in the last couple of days mostly because I've been distracted with a pulled muscle in my back. I took off Friday and will take it very VERY easy the next couple of days. No yardwork and no sitting at my desk for long hours.

The back pain started the night of the 4th. It didn't bother me too much the next day, but Friday morning I was in a familiar pain zone.

If you're ever in the market for a used news photographer, you have to be sure to check the eyes, shoulder and back for wear. Those are the areas that go first. Well, maybe not. Actually, I think attitude and motivation go first, but you can slap a few modern accessories on them and they'll shoot like new for a couple more years.

Tell you what, if I can find a nice comfortable spot, I'll fire up the laptop and take it for a spin tomorrow around the internet. There's more that's been happening and if I can't work outside this weekend, I'd like to spend it writing.

Happy Friday and remember to lift from the knees.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Boom goes the liveshot!

Just a few random thoughts and pictures from the 4th of July. I've got half a second to spare and barring any (more) unfortunate technical mishap, all systems are go and we should soon be on the air.

Our start time was noon, but I showed up early to make sure everything was in order for my day in the hot seat on Thursday.

Yeah. I'm acting Chief again. This is the first time in the hot seat since we moved to the new station and I'm looking forward to a uneventful day.

Yeah, but that's tomorrow. Today there was only one major problem and--

Whoops, just stepped away for a minute to work on an audio IFB problem. It's been a long week, I'll explain IFB some other time.

The order of events on the biggest problem we had went something like this:

Bryan: I've got an interview to shoot. Everything good here?

Marvin (mellow): Yeah. We're all good.

Thirty minutes later.

Bryan: Marvin, what's wrong?

Marvin (controlled panic): I accidentally pulled a ribbon cable from the back of the switcher. We might be in trouble.

I'm thinking, hmmm. We?

Marvin was able to fix the problem with a work around, but I'll have to remember that look on his face.

These legs belong to a man who shall remain nameless. He knows who he is.

I need to get back to work now. The fireworks have started and everything is running fine. It should only be a matter of minutes before things start really going wrong.

Happy 4th and wish us luck.