Saturday, March 29, 2008

Safe

Work and friendship kicked productivity to the curb this week.  My daily trek to the Inland Empire and voluntarily stepping forward to help a good friend with a remodeling project are the main culprits, but I can name a dozen other completely absolutely necessary tasks that also contributed.

Dellis is barricaded in her studio doing art stuff.  I'm going to find a warm quiet spot to curl up with a book and a bottle of Pellegrino.

If you're out having a wild time tonight, enjoy it.  Don't worry about me.

I'm good.
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Friday

This was me about ten minutes ago. I'm still working the bureau, but it's my last day for that.



I just got the info for my assignment.

The sun is out, it's Friday and I'm looking forward to the weekend.




We're covering a story about a girl who is suffering from a terminal disease. She's created her own "Bucket List" and a suprise party in her honor is one of the items on her list. We'll be heading to her school where friends and family are going to make that happen for her.

I'm glad she'll be able to check off an item on her list.

The day seems a little less sunny and I'm not quite as upbeat as I was when I picked up my coffee. That's part of the job. I hope you understand it's not a part that anyone would enjoy.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tent City

It's been a good week so far, but I'm going to try to not talk about me.

Every day this week I've been waking up early working a dayside shift somewhere out in the Inland Empire. The inland Empire is the area to the East (and North) of the City of Los Angeles. It's a news bureau job that covers San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

The regular bureau photographer is on vacation.



So, all this week I get to work with Greg Mills, the dayside Inland Empire reporter. He's a good guy and I'm enjoying actually working with someone and taking a break from training.

Even though the potential to cover a story far away is there on any given work day. This is adding at least 100 miles guaranteed to my daily commute.

Luckily we're in a tight budget period and not that it matters, but I'm actually getting off work nearly on time.



So much for not talking about me.

Monday I was covering the renovations being made to the tent city that exists on a large vacant plot of land out near the Ontario Airport.



It's heartbreaking to see so many people living in such miserable conditions and yet we were out there to do a positive story on the actions by the City of Ontario to clean up the area and provide a safer environment for the homeless.



Most of the homeless people we talked to were angry over the City's efforts. A lot of them were forced to move aside while the area was being cleaned up.



It was a dusty and dirty area filled with trash. After the city cleans it up, I'm going to be surprised if it becomes anything different.



I met some of the good people who live here and I felt guilt at the end of the day when we drove away. The City of Ontario was trying to do something for the homeless. I'm not being critical of their efforts. Even though it's something, I don't think it's ever going to be enough.

At least it's something.

Whoops, I think I was kind of talking about me again.
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hey, you remember when I used to write?

Okay, so this is how bad it's getting. I got the pictures posted, but I have an early shift tomorrow morning and I don't have nearly enough time to tell you what's going on here.



You got Kaj Goldberg and Lou Varella. Kaj was working on a story and Lou was training with me on the Aurora Edit system.



Really. I gotta get some sleep.



I was happy with the way the pictures came out and I wanted to get them posted. I'd stay up and keep writing, but I've got a killer week ahead of me. All week long, I'm filling in for a vacationing Inland Empire Bureau Photographer. That means I'll be driving somewhere out towards the Riverside/San Bernadino area every day.

Wish me luck.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Darn, I don't have a good title for the post and I sure as heck don't have time to think of one.

There aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. You probably already know that, but I feel like I need to say it every now and then because maybe I can drum up a little sympathy.

No? Fine then, I'll just keep juggling and hope I can at least keep my head above water. Does that sound whiney? That's really not meant as a complaint. Just an observation.

With my continuing effort to take over the world moving forward, I've had very little time to snap any kind of picture. Actually putting some effort into developing even a quick grab into something worth printing or sharing has been even more of a struggle.

Heck, even while I'm typing this, I'm keeping one eye on the clock, because I still have a couple of chores to wrestle before it's time to head into work.



That's Francisco Alferez, he's an experienced Photographer and Aurora Editor. It wasn't really that intense of a story. I just caught him between smiles, but in general that's the face of news editing.

Last night, while I was still wearing my "Edit Trainer" cap, my trainee and I were lucky enough to get the hand off assignment from Francisco and Christina McLarty



With Francisco doing the early cut of the story for the 8:00pm show, I was free to snap a couple of shots that made me feel like I wasn't just throwing up a Hail Mary and hoping for something to good to happen.

Behind the scenes during the editing process and when the reporters are getting ready for the liveshot are some of my favorite candid moments.



It might not be the same for other people, but a lot of the satisfaction I have with my job and my life in general comes from having the opportunity to spend a couple of free minutes doing something that I enjoy.

I am sooooo lucky that every now and then I can do this.



After the 8:00PM live hit, Francisco headed back to the station in order to get off the clock on time. I coached the trainee on making changes to the Francisco edited version of the package. We fed in an updated piece for the 11:00PM show and did one more live hit for the 10:00PM newscast.



The trainee walked away with a few more crumbs of knowledge, some practical editing experience to connect the dots between theory and application and the reporter might just have a new background shot for her computer.

Me? I know there are people with far less, just as I know there are people with more of all the material things available in life. I just continue to be my own best example of being not just content, but genuinely happy even with less than everything in the world.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still taking over. I'm just saying, there's no need for me to rush.

Time's up. I gotta go.

The reporter's basset (called, Snoop Dogg) isn't a regular fixture in the field. He was just chillin' with us for the evening. I'm pretty sure you were wondering.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Artful Morning.

Sometimes I wonder if Anca Ionescu's husband helped her move her gallery pieces from her parent's house where they were stored (because they have so much more room) to the galleries where her work was shown.

Also, did he rent a van from U-Haul to do it.



That was my early day today before my shift.  I was glad to do it.  Awesome (yes, she might be reading this).

I'm joking, it was fun to spend time with Dellis and help her work on something she 's into.  It's nice that we're both making time to work on our individual creative endeavors. 



Hanging out and helping Dellis, my day before coming into work was actually more interesting than what I did at the office (that doesn't happen often).  I'm training again this week and that's cool (yeah, but we all know, I'd rather be shooting).

Oh and nothing against my trainees (they're never really the problem), as always, I'm just taking a few hits of boredom for the team.  Rah.  Go team, go.



Of course, that doesn't mean I haven't continued in my efforts to take over the world.  I sit and write this in "my cubicle" at the station.

In case anyone is wondering, I'm currently working on a treatment for a film script.  It's nice to actually be able to sit down and work out a story.  That shouldn't take me more than a couple of days to complete.

I'm expecting taking over the world to take much longer.  It might be weeks before I accomplish that.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just give me the donuts.

Woooooosh! Feel that? That was my weekend flying past. I wish I could tell you where it went, but I could barely keep up with it.



Yesterday I let Hal Eisner (sucker me into) allow me the priviledge of helping to mentor a group of aspiring journalists at the APTRA Academy Liveshot Boot Camp.



I've helped with the APTRA Academy Camps a few times in the past, but this was a seperate deal happening during their conference and get together up at Universal Studios this weekend.



Similar drill though.

A mock breaking news situation is presented to the trainees. Once that's over, they split off into groups and then the reporter/photographer mentors coach them through putting together a liveshot with a soundbite and voice over video.



That's my group. Not pictured was the super-cool Gigi Graciette (from another station that shall go un-named) who handled the reporter mentoring while I did my weekend best impersonation of a living breathing news photographer.

After getting home at 2:00am Saturday morning (from my Friday night shift) and waking up at 5:00am in order to leave home in time to pick up the microwave truck and be at the Universal Hilton at 7:00am, I hope the trainees benefited from the real world possibility of having a photographer they needed to prop up behind the camera and nudge every now and then to keep him awake during editing.



A lot of the mentors were there to help give back something to the next generation. You really have to respect that.

Myself? I worked out a deal where I got to keep all the un-eaten Krispy Kreme doughnuts. That might seem like a somewhat selfish motivation, but come on.

Dude, we're talking Krispy Kremes here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Name of the Game.

Having decided earlier in the week to renew my efforts to take over the world.  I've been testing a few notions and trying to increase my productivity by commandeering an empty cubicle at work after hours.

I like it.  Cozy and out of the way, it seems like the perfect lair from which I can launch the first phase of my master plan.



Yes, I'm breaking things down into more manageable bite-sized segments.

Just don't ask me about Phase Two.  We're not at a point where I'm entirely comfortable talking about "Phase Two".

I can say one thing (and keep this to yourself), Phase Two involves cookies.



Seriously, it really all comes down to writing.

I've been promising myself for a few years now that I'd make a go of it.  Things seem to work out for a while, then my job or other responsibilities start splitting my attention.

Eventually I'll let out a sigh and put things away until the next convergence of time and motivation.



That's probably not a very strong recipe for world domination.

So, here I sit and write. . .or read, or gather the information I need to begin reaching  for goals beyond what I've achieved so far.

If that means getting home a little later or testing the limits of "squatter's rights",
well I'll just have to deal with those bridges when we get to them.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mostly Simple.

Shift gears and just keep moving.  Some people might have trouble with that, but it's what we're expected to be able to do on any given day.

When I left home on Wednesday, I expected to put in most of my shift at the station with a trainee on the Aurora system.



Gee, that seemed like a perfectly good plan.  The unexpected absence of the trainee due to a small "oops" in scheduling (let's not point any fingers, but it sure as hell wasn't me) forced the assignment desk to reassign me for the evening.



I got sent to help another crew at a town hall meeting in Carson where the concentrated placement of convicted sex offenders was understandably causing quite an outcry from the community.

Also, since I can't possibly just do one job at a time, I was asked to help refresh one of our SAT truck drivers who had been off the job for a while.



The hotel is located in a mostly industrial area near the 91 and 110 freeways.  The streets are fairly dark and there's not a lot of foot traffic in the area.  We set up camp and I cut the story from the footage shot by the other photographer.

That's not really the preferred way we work.  Most of the time if you shoot something, you cut it yourself.  We had to make the swap so the other photographer could get off work on time.



The SAT truck refresher may have been short changed, but we got the story on the air.  I never saw any of the convicted sex offenders, but I figure they probably caught the story in their rooms.

We rarely know exactly what our assignment will be on any given day at the office.  Sometimes we can make an educated guess.

After yesterday, I can honestly tell you, I really have no clue what I'll be working on when I get to work today.

You'll just have to check back and see.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Real or Fake?

I'm sorry, I had to do it. I had to steal the post title from our CBS2/KCAL9 web department. They had a slide show up recently with the same title and I don't know whether to be proud of their clever little misdirection or just embarrassed at being suckered by it.

Anyway, you might have trouble telling the difference, but I'm not bored.



Yet.

I have to admit, it was a good run of general assignment work. Almost two whole months of hitting the streets of Los Angeles with a video camera. I've actually been doing my job as a news photographer with hardly any fill-in desk work for the Chief and hardly any training.



That changed on Monday this week. I was back in the edit van to start holding refresher sessions for folks who missed out for one reason or another.

That's Photographer Dolores Gillham in the edit seat there. She's been shooting in our Special Projects department for the last couple of months. Other stations might call it something else, but our Special Projects depatment is responsible for the sweeps pieces, long term investigations and under cover assignments that all fall outside of the daily grind.



After a couple of months away from editing in the field, a little brush up refresher on the finer points of the Aurora system seemed like a good idea. So we spent the last couple of days underground in the parking garage just chopping up raw video into packages.

Either myself or some other victim would play reporter and record a few audio tracks for the trainee, then sooner or later we'd have a cut (mock) news story ready for (mock) air.



It's like running fire drills.

Dolores ought to be set. I have the rest of this week with another trainee and maybe two more weeks after that with photogs who either missed the initial round of training completely or need the brush up work.

(sigh.)

Someday we might actually be finished training everyone. Since we only have a small window of opportunity between sweeps periods, I should be back to shooting sometime in April. Either that or something big might happen and they'd have to throw me back out in the field sooner.

Hey, I just realized. Real or fake might just apply to my enthusiasm for training.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This little tidbit of news came across my desktop this morning and I wanted to point it out now in the hope that other folks might find it worth their time.



This novel is set to become a series for HBO and it would make me pretty happy if it becomes the next big thing for them.

I stumbled across the series a couple of years back, read it and liked it a lot.

Sure, I've enjoyed a lot of the shows on TV that have presented a raw look at the harsher parts of life.  The thing is, working in news, I really find myself often having enough of that by the end of my work day.  The stories that Alexander McCall Smith tell through this series of books doesn't ignore the harsher realities of the world.  He just shows a different part that exists, but rarely gets seen.

I don't know if there's any way to tell if this will translate well to the small screen.  I just know I don't mind saying, I can't wait to find out.

If they give Precious Ramotswe a gun, a dog, or a borderline insane ex-special forces sidekick then I'm going to be really disappointed.

Heh-heh, depending what kind of day I had at work, I might still watch.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

MAXIMUM Weekend!

Am I the only person who hates daylight savings?  I wouldn't mind going Arizona and skipping the whole clock change thing completely.

Trying to stay organized and on track with all I want to do isn't an easy juggling act, but on the other hand, even though I complain about never having enough time in the day to do everything I'd like to do, I have to admit on a good week, I see and do a heck of a lot.

I hope you're following me, because I don't have time to re-write that sentence.



I did find enough time to stop and snap a picture of the World's Tallest Thermometer in Baker, California.  My buddy, William "Buzz" Snyder, mentioned he didn't know about it.  I figure he might appreciate a photo (also a mention on my blog).

There you go, Buzz.  Rock and roll!



Last week I was also lucky to have time for dinner with my Lovely Wife and our oldest daughter.  Daughter-Girl was in town on business and it worked out pretty well that we got to spend at least a couple of hours together before she had to jet back to San Francisco.

We tried out the La Sirena Grill & Cantina in the Plaza El Segundo shopping center.  Of the three new restaurants in the area, this one was the only one that I felt was totally worth the money.  The food was great and the service was top notch.  I would eat there again and I look forward to the having the opportunity.

I'm kind of bouncing around on the days, but stay with me here.



Yesterday, my sister-in-law and my great niece Kacel, dropped in for a visit.  You know me, that's always going to involve a photo session.

There was an incident with chocolate ice-cream that I am really sorry about, but hey, let's hear it for the Photoshop healing brush.  I ruined the outfit, but fixed the pictures.

The yard got a couple of days of much needed attention.

We saw "10,000 B.C." with a buddy I've know since 8th grade.

I had breakfast with Asantana's husband (Mr. Asantana).

I set up a mail merge for Dellis on her computer.

The Jeep got washed.

Email got answered.

Photos were printed.

I started "Hollywood Station", the latest Joseph Wambaugh novel (again).

Dellis and I had dinner in our living room while sitting at the bar (honey roasted turkey panini sandwiches, green salad and grilled string beans)

Whew, the list could just go on.  There's actually a lot more (mostly yard work).  These are just some little examples of what I do with my time and these are the ones that got me thinking.

Here it is, Monday morning.

I could go on and gripe about the things I wanted to do (and maybe should have done), but compared to a lot of people, I know I really don't have anything to complain about.  Last week, even while working, I got to enjoy life and I'm thankful for that.

Making time for friends and family is the point I'm trying to make.  Kind of a long winded point, but considering I started out complaining about the hour I lost to daylight savings.  I guess one hour isn't such a big deal.

Hey, I'm gonna have to get some work done now.  I hope I didn't waste your time.

Happy Monday.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Shucks.

I've always had a pretty good experience blogging my little heart out and every now and then a kind word or compliment will make its' way back to me.

Earlier this week, while my fortunes were rapidly dwindling at a slot machine in Las Vegas, I was being quite favorably mentioned in an article on LA Observed that featured Jackie Johnson.



I'd been told by a friend that someone was saying nice things about my blog (plus, my ears were burning). I wasn't quite prepared for the very humbling accolade they tossed my way.



Wow. I'm floored.

What I write and the pictures I post have always been a simple hobby of self-expression and an outlet for my creative/artistic efforts. It has gained me "zip" in terms of financial wealth, but it has given me an eclectic base of friendships from all over the world.

That's so cool.

I'm always encouraged by the fact that anyone might find the behind the scenes details of my life of any interest. I've always thought what I do for a living is pretty cool. I always hope the glimpses of my family life might serve as an example of what's possible if only you're willing to endure vast amounts of pain, suffering and hardship.

Again, thanks for mentioning me.

Really, thanks for stopping by.

That last part goes for everyone.

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Uh-oh, that was my beer money.

My thanks to FlutePrayer for her suggestion on how to get some reasonably restful sleep during my stay at Planet Hollywood Hotel in Las Vegas.



Really, I can appreciate the whole movie memorabilia thing, but the "Coneheads" mask that was decorating my room kept creeping me out. It's tough enough to try and get some sleep when I'm working away from home, but come on. Who can sleep while this thing is trying to mentally eat your brain.

Really.



Problem solved.

There were quite a few memorable Las Vegas moments on this trip. One of my favorites (of the ones you won't see on TV anyway) is my 7.5 minute gambling spree.



I was standing in the casino waiting for Gary Johnson. He was the shooter for this trip and we'd just gotten off the phone. He was on his way down from his room because (thank you Lord for the cheap eats), we were hitting the buffet for lunch.

So, there I was, a sane and rational man in a Las Vegas casino. Now, I'm kind of just standing around feeling pretty good about not gambling when I saw a nice and friendly looking slot machine. Gary was probably going to be there in less than five minutes.

I wondered casually, gee, how much could I lose in five minutes?



Apparently $38.00.

It would have been more, but that was all the cash I had in my wallet. I swear you could almost hear a sucking sound as my money was lost in the one armed bandit.

Did I say, friendly? Nope, not really.

Let me just say, I'm not so reckless that I'd bet the retirement money, the kid's college tuition or really any substantial amount, but once again I show the world just how bad I suck at gambling.

Curse you Las Vegas. I guess I'll be drinking domestic beer for the rest of this month.



As a still photographer, I have a lot of favorite subjects, but I do love shooting major construction sites. Las Vegas is sick with them right now. Had I just stuck with my usual plan, I'd have a few nice photos and hopefully a memory of a good meal from one of the better Las Vegas eateries.

I left town $38.00 poorer (with absolutely nothing substantial to show for it), but I did get a few nice shots of some of the construction going on.



I'll think of my $38.00 as my small contribution to the building effort. Sort of a model's fee if you will.

Okay, that's what I have time for today. No news for me this Friday. I'm taking the day off to work on my yard. After the day is done, I'll probably sit at my bar in my living room, drink one very cold beer and try not to think about the $38.00 I lost.

All I can do is try.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bits and Vegas Pieces

One live shot done and one more to go. I'm going grab some lunch, but I'll be back in a bit.



I hear Christina's story tonight is going over well. I'll link it up later and maybe share a little of what you didn't see on TV.
It wasn't easy. It took a lot to pull me out of the tub. I had a Kona Long Board beer in a bucket of ice and-- Oh, my gosh! Look, there's a TV sitting over the tub.



Yup, that's a pretty good evening for me. It doesn't include losing any money in the casino, but Las Vegas for me has been more about relaxing and having interesting photo opportunities.

In my mind, I'd had a long rough ride from Los Angeles and I was done for the day. I'm not ashamed to say, my simple plan for the evening was take a bubble bath and then going to bed.

No, no, don't laugh. This story gets a lot better really quickly.



How I wound up in the dressing room of the "X Burlesque" show at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino isn't really all that important. Then again, being a married man (with a very lovely and very understanding wife), I'd better explain this a little.

In a nutshell, the crew invited me to tag along and help out on the shoot.

I've helped out in the past on these Las Vegas assignments and. . .well. . . okay, I don't have a really good reason why I was there.

To be honest, I did help carry gear.



It was actually a pretty amazing opportunity for a photographer.

Gee, it's too bad I didn't bring the big camera. Yeah, see I left it in my room. I always try to be sensitive to the nature of the interview and in this situation it just might have seemed a little, oh, I don't know, "creepy" to just show up with it.

Besides, it's difficult enough to project an air of sophistication and professionalism when there's an inner 18 year old beFrank doing the Beavis and Butt-head laugh.

Huh-huh-huh-huh.



The whole time we were shooting video, I was thinking about how cool it was to have the opportunity to just "be" behind the scenes. Almost everywhere I turned, there was a great shot to be had.

Most of these I had to pass up. We weren't there to shoot stills, so I couldn't just snap away. As always, I did manage to take a few discrete shots for the blog.

I'm not sure how much of it will make air, but our fearless Christina McLarty went all out for reporter involvement. After some quick backstage choreography, she was able to participate in one of the show's less risque numbers.

Today is Wednesday and the segment should air tonight and will likely show up on the website soon after.

I'm gonna go start my day. Here's some famous last words, but maybe I'll just spend a little time in the casino.

Wish me luck.

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