Thursday, August 30, 2007

Think Cool Thoughts

It's hot out here.

Lancaster Police have apprehended (or let's say, "caught") a man suspected of molesting young girls in the Lancaster area.

So, now you know why I'm sitting in the George Foreman Grill we like to call a "live" truck.

Yup, it's hot out here.
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Bread and Butter.

The start of the new school term brings with it conflicting emotions. Dellis and I have returned to empty nest status after a summer chock full of kiderrrrriiiiiifffffic good times.

The youngest child leaving home again makes the both of us sad (we really miss her laughter), but the opportunity for our daughter to grow and find her own path in life is probably almost as exciting (and a little scary) for us as I'm sure it is for her.

Of course, I still have to work for a living.


Did you see that? That was pretty cool the way I smoothly segued into talking about my job.

Yes, I'm a news photographer for CBS2 and KCAL9 in Los Angeles. Most people know that, but I needed to remind myself because for many months I've been part of a team training the rest of the staff on the new non-linear (computer) edit system being used by our station. We had close to forty field photographers and all of the in-house edit staff to train and I'm working with the last handful of trainees this month.

I love my job as a news photographer. In the course of an average day, I could be following an even that will become part of history or interviewing the people in the world who are making history.

Without a doubt, it's an exciting and adventurous way to make a living and I'm in the small minority of people who looks forward to going to work each day.

Gee, training other people to edit on a computer doesn't give me quite the same level of job satisfaction. I'm happy to do it and if the job of news photographer didn't exist, I could do that as a full time job.

Just don't forget, we're not comparing apples and oranges. We're comparing something I LOVE to do with something I can do.

I miss the work.

This week, my trainee and I (Carl Stein, take a bow) shadowed another crew on the Weber's Bakery announcement that they would be closing their operation in Southern California.

No more Wonder Bread. Just another day at the office for the photographer shooting the story.

We took their footage and used it to practice as part of our training session and we also helped a bit with one of their liveshots. While the trainee practices, I sit in the front of the newsvan. The skill (and comfort) level of the trainee varies. I might be more or less active depending on the level of assist the trainee needs in order to get through cutting the story.

I'm not working on the story myself. I'm often just an observer without any real participation in the coverage of the news. Even with the satisfaction I get from helping someone else learn new skills, that's never going to compare to what I really enjoy doing for a living.

Sure, no problem, I can keep doing the training. It needs to be done and I'm one of the few people who can handle it with my nice calm temperament (wooosaaaaa), but I absolutely look forward to getting back to doing what I love to do.

Putting the news on TV.

(Yeah, and then coming here and blogging about it.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Remember That Rush?

Maybe I jinxed it with that last post. Right after downing my lunch I got a call to break lunch, grab the reporter and head for Gardena.

(Subway 6" Cold Cut Trio on wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives, salt & pepper, mustard and mayonaise)


I've got a freakish lot of love for covering the news, but even I don't want to get stuck far from the station on a Friday in Gardena (near where I live) for one measly liveshot.

After two stories fell through, I thought a pit bull attack in which nobody was actually bitten might be slightly less newsworthy than other events happening in the world.

It wasn't.

I've been doing a news dance (exactly like a rain dance, but you spin left on every fourth step) for months now. Nothing.

Now I was about to get stuck behind Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. Once I fought the traffic to get back to the station in Studio City, then I'd get to make the round trip fighting it to get home.

That, for lack of a more literate turn of a phrase, sucks (and you have to drag out the "uh", so that it sounds like "suuuucks" with a lot of "u" in there).

Well, news obviously doesn't care about my commute, so we go to Gardena (from Alhambra, did I freaking mention that we were in Alhambra?) and find the people who were chased by the pit bulls.

Actually, after we got to Gardena, I found out it was a more compelling story than I would have believed from Alhambra.

We're there, it's about 12:45pm and we're in the 2:00pm show. Nothing else much matters at this point. We've got a deadline for a liveshot and for what's probably only the second time in the last three months, I have to shoot and cut a package on the Aurora edit system.

It's not really that much of a crunch, but the story elements are scattered up and down the block where the incident happened and the local Animal Control office is sending the Officer who responded to the call to give us an interview.

I shoot (mostly shaky handheld). We do the interviews (also handheld). I shoot some more.

We cut and the story makes air. It certainly ain't gonna win me an Emmy and an IFB problem almost sank the liveshot.

It took me longer to cut it than I would have liked. The only thing I felt upbeat about was the fact that the reporter didn't write down to the edit system.

With trainees, reporters often have to write a simpler story than they would have written when we were editing on the old tape to tape system. I didn't do anything great (really not even good), but we made air. You can see the Pit Bull story on the CBS2/KCAL website for yourself.

We fed a standup close back and fought the traffic. The carpool lane saved us from the worst of it and a going away party (yeah, I'm going to have a post about that) helped me avoid the rest.

It's the weekend. I'm going outside to get my hands dirty, but I'm keeping my phone close. It feels like the news weather is changing.

Really Working?

Not really.

I thought I had caught a lucky break. My trainee had jury duty and I was being cut loose to cover the news.

Our first story died before we left the station.

Second story barely survived the first interview and now I'm at lunch.

Gee, I remember this job being more interesting.
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where's Lindsay?

Wow, a real news story. Well, it's just Lindsay Lohan and she didn't actually show up, but YAHOOO anyway.

I'm blogging from the front seat while edit coaching-- hang on, I'm getting word that we're not live in the 6:00pm show.

Looks like I'm going to have to pack it up and finish this later. No worries, I'll be back after my insanely long drive home through traffic.

Here's the pictures of the day for now to hold you over until I can post proper.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Terminal Malaria

You want to know why post traffic has been slow lately?

It could be one of two things.  Either I'm the victim of a self-inflicted case of food poisoning (mmm, tacos) or I've contracted malaria.

Common sense leads me to the only logical conclusion.

It's got to be malaria.

I know.  I thought it was pretty cool at first too.  That was early on Sunday when I first started feeling a little off.  Later in the day on Sunday and all day Monday, I ended up feeling pretty miserable, but I had a difficult time getting my family to recognize the severity of my condition.

You know, I'm pretty sure malaria is 100% fatal.  I'm guessing that's the case, because I've never met anyone who had malaria.

My abnormally strong sense of duty won't let me use my condition as a crutch.  Nope, I just won't let my condition stop me from leading a full and productive life.  I'm in the last round of training for our Aurora editing system.  I'm working dayside and trying to beat the morning rush hour traffic every day and I'm going to make it to work, because I want all the photogs to be trained.

BTW - Ignore the sign in the photo below.  It's NEVER going to be "10 Min" to downtown LA no matter how close you are.

I hope through some miracle to survive my malaria.  As my life flashes before my eyes (gee, mostly traffic), my only regret is that writing has taken too much of a back seat to my daily life.

If I live, I'm going to work on that.

Monday, August 20, 2007

3rd Wheel, Lotteries, Traffic and Babies

I'll tell you what's wrong with this picture. I'm sitting behind a desk. That wouldn't be so terribly bad if the desk were mine and I was working on the next great American novel, but it's my boss's (hmm, three S's, that can't be right) desk. I'm not sure I even got a chance to mention that I was sitting in for the Chief last week.

Just like when Indiana Jones has to actually teach a class, a few times a year, I have to fill in for the Chief and the Assistant Chief while they're out of the office.

(YAWN!) It's not exactly the same as the interesting life I lead as a news photographer, but I'm happy to sit in the big chair. I do notice that I buy more lottery tickets when I'm filling in.

The only real downside to the week was the traffic I hit both ways on my work commute. Ouch.

You might not be getting the full impact from this shot, but I'm going about two miles an hour. It takes me up to an hour and a half to get home in the evening. The drive to work in the morning is a little better, but I leave early to miss the worst part of the traffic.

I mention all this because I was really light on posting to the blog last week. By the time I got home in the evening, my motivation to post was always still pretty high, but I was falling asleep at the computer most nights. I suppose it could have been worse. I could have had something really interesting to write about.

Here's a little bonus. My nephew and sister-in-law brought baby Kacel for a visit over the weekend. She's a doll. Smiles a lot and doesn't mind having her picture taken. I didn't get any big news last week, but her visit helped me forget about that. I can look forward to this week and maybe some interesting news happening.

Happy Monday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Spectre of Phil

Monday morning found me, roughed me up and dumped me in the hot seat at work for a week of a little game show we like to call, "Sitting in for the Chief".

Yeah, back from vacation and putting on my manager hat so my boss and his second in command could both squeeze in their own vacations.  Don't know how relaxing that can be for either of them to know that I'm sitting in the big chair, but as always, if they don't come back to a smoking hole in the ground I'll call it a good week.

Yeah, this is what I have in mind as a worst case scenario.

I took this shot while downtown.  It was a standard management day at the office, but I "managed" to get out in the field for a minute to check on our gear up on the 12th floor of the criminal courts building.

A verdict in the Phil Spectre trial is an expected possibility this week.  That's going to be a pretty huge news story either way it goes for Phil and we want to be ready.

Somewhat unrelated, but over to the left, this is the progress being made on the new LAPD headquarters (also as seen from the 12th floor media room).  I shot a couple of pictures a few months back during the early days of the trial.

I'm glad to see they tightened up the mess of cables that had been spaghettied together.  Guess what, it works fine just the way it is and honestly?

I'd be a little afraid to touch it.

Also unrelated to the Phil Spector trial, this was a roadside mango stand in Trinidad.  I'm eager to get a few more vacation photos posted, but I'm playing catchup for the time spent out of town and I'm still trying to get them organized.

Dellis' cousin was concerned that I was taking too many shots of the poorer aspects of Trinidad.  That might be true, but I wouldn't want anyone to get the idea that this was all there was to the country.

There's more, but you'll have to take my word for it.

Got to wrap it up for tonight.  I have another big management day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Worries

A few of the regulars have emailed me to find out if the computer glitch out at LAX gave me any problem


The airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad, had free internet access. I'm using my Verizon card here in Houston.

Is it just me? I find that ironic.


Yeah, baby! I've made it safely to Houston on the return trip home. Call me crazy, but I miss the family already. It kind of sucks to be heading home to an empty house. Well, I'm pretty sure the dog will be happy to see me.

By the way, I'm having a Bud Light in the airport bar next to my gate. Yeah, I know, but I just needed that taste of USA.

On the other hand. . .

An order of "Doubles" would be nice. I'm guessing they're not on the menu.
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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pass the Roti.

Well, hello.

It's difficult to believe (but not totally unexpected) that there are places where internet access is hard to come by.  I would have been more skeptical before this past week, but I guess I've just been spoiled.

Now I've gone the opposite route and lived with very little net access and I find I'm now spoiled in other ways.

My family and I have been on the Southern edge of Trinidad since Tuesday.  We've been in a very rural area.  I'll be honest, I could have worked the available dial-up connection a little harder or I could have pushed for being dropped off in town to spend time at an internet cafe (they have them, but Starbucks doesn't exist here by the way).

Either of those options would have put me in the position of abusing the hospitality of my wife's very gracious relatives.  I found it easy to just let it go.

If I had spent my time on a computer, I might have missed something.

It's a small island, but for all the driving and sightseeing that we accomplished, we still barely scratched the surface.  My education in all things "Trini" is very sadly incomplete.

So sorry, I'll be leaving in a few hours.

Still, I'm very lucky in that I had a good taste of Trinidad.  I know what "Doubles" and "Bake and Shark" are.  I've had a Carib, Stag and a ginger beer.

I like the Carib better than the Stag and I think the ginger beer is just sadly misleading.

It touches my heart to also know the rustle of the tall grass blowing in the breeze after a light rain.  I can tell you what it sounds like (paper actually), but it really doesn't paint the whole picture.  You need a cold beer in warm humid air accompanied by the scent of sweet ripe mangoes.  You need to be driving faster than seems safe on the left side of a too narrow road.  You need to hear the faint distinct sound of steel drums playing in the background nearly everywhere.

Even then, with all of that, you'd still be missing the best part.

Living the experience for yourself.

With a little (Frank) luck, I'll be home later tonight.  Come and check me out, I took a few pictures.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

And away we go!

After a zippy cab ride to LAX, I'm now standing in line waiting for the ticketing counter to open so we can check our luggage.

S'kinda funny, but I can't help noticing the total amount of luggage for Dellis, my mother-in-law and myself doesn't add up to what I usually use when I'm on an assignment.

I could use a cup of coffee. Sure hope the Starbucks is open. It could get ugly in here.
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Monday, August 06, 2007

Catching up

Let me get this straight. This thing you call a vacation is something normal people take to get away from their worries and cares? I should take a vacation to recharge my batteries and relax so that I can go back to work and be ready to face anything that happens in the world of news?

Wouldn't it be easier just to send my on a good assignment and let me live off the caffeinated fueled adrenaline rush until the next major story breaks?

What? It's the law? Really?

Okay, I'm officially on vacation. The house, bird and dog are all being sat and the travel arrangements are set. Everybody has a passport and the plane will begin boarding shortly.

I'm reading two of these on the plane unless there's beer. If I have a beer on the flight, that's going to cut down my available reading time (but will increase my nap time substantially).

Here's a "life in news tid-bit" for you. When I travel for the job, I often pass on the in-flight cocktail because I know I'll be working when I reach my destination.

Heh-heh, pass me a Red Stripe. I'm on my time.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hey, Wolf!

You remember that time you put your hand on my shoulder and asked me, "What can I cook for you?"

That's not what happened, but if I had approached him, I think it's at that point that security would be called and I'd be dragged away kicking and screaming.

We were covering a Puck event at Hollywood and Highland last week. It was all about his side business of catering weddings and events. Lots of brides to be and women who had a hungry look about them like they wanted to be brides attended this fancy pony show.

We actually talked to some pretty cool people. Event photographers/videographers to the stars were there and I tried not to let my jaw hit the floor when I casually inquired about their going rates.

They make a lot of money.

If it was just about money, you might be reading about the adventures of "beFrank", the wedding videographer.

It's never just about money for me.

Yeah, but that also didn't stop me from trying the caviar.

Wedding guys have it pretty nice.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Now I'm laughing.

The trip got cancelled.

It's very immature of me, but. . .

. . .Haaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaa!

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. . . And I'm Telling You, I'm Not Going!

The Ops. Manager had a smile on his face as he told the Chief to get a crew set up for Minneapolis.

I can't go. Multiple good reasons, but none of that matters.

I can't go.

You know what? If it wasn't me, I'd be laughing too.
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