Saturday, November 29, 2008

Serenity Now!

It was a hectic week and the best cure for that is getting my hands dirty in the yard. . .

. . .followed by a beer.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bravo.

For everybody who works in an inside and didn't get to see the sun setting in Long Beach on Monday, here you go.

I've been shooting for CBS2/KCAL9's Special Projects unit the past couple of days. That put me on a day shift and cut me loose in the evening right around the golden hour.



We were shooting in Huntington Beach and I happened to be driving home through Long Beach. The setting sun caught my eye.



I really wanted to get home. I'm still running low on "get up and go" since the previous week's fires. I reasoned there would be other sunsets.



The "quit" was strong in me, but I made the effort, parked, got out and shot a few frames.

Since I can't share much about the investigative pieces I'm working on, a nice sunset blog fodder is going to have to do for now.

The rain is coming down here in Hawthorne and I have to be at the station at 6:30am tomorrow morning. Yeesh. It's been a long week and it's only Tuesday.

Drive safe in the rain. You know who I'm talking to, right?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Just In. . .

I enjoyed the challege of last week's fires. I'm also enjoying my Saturday night.

Pass me another piece of chicken and the ketchup, please, thank you.
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Beer Garden

Worked 12 days straight, so I only did a half day in the yard. I've got Red Stripe chilling in the fridge and I'm gonna go pick up a bucket of chicken.

This is what I imagine heaven must be like.
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Unit #19 R.I.P.

I wasn't in it at the time, but my beloved news van suffered a really bad tire blowout on the freeway earlier this week. The likely cause was unnoticed damage from last week's fire.

The photographer driving at the time and the reporter were shaken, but not injured in the accident which left my van sitting against the guard rail facing oncoming traffic.

(sniff)

I've been floating in other trucks while #19 is being repaired.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gas War!

When I saw how low the prices actually were, I worried a little about hell freezing over. I never expected to see gas prices this low.

Plus, I got a pastrami sandwhich from "The Hat".

Good times.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Scorched Earth.

I've seen areas hit hard by other fires, but most of that has been out in the brush and wilderness. I've never seen so much destruction this close to home. The mobile home park that was hit by the Sayre fire looks like somebody dropped a bomb on it.

For people who have been there, done that and seen everything, the crews I've talked to are all saying they've never seen this level of destruction of homes and property from a fire.



The actual numbers have sort of fluctuated in reports, but the last I heard, the number of homes completely destroyed (just in the mobile home park) was around five hundred.

I know there have been larger disasters in the last few years, but it's hard to imagine so many people losing everything.



Maybe it's that it happened so close to the city. It just seems like these things are never so far out of control, but I suppose it was just a combination of circumstances that made this fire so difficult to fight.


Photo provided by the Harris Family.

Last night we covered one of the few happy stories to come out of this weekend.

We talked to a couple who's home wasn't lost in the fire, but they were evacuated and didn't know if their home was safe. After the fire, a relative spotted the couple's home in a helicopter shot in a TV newscast. He happened to have a TiVo DVR, so that relative then took a digital still shot of the TiVo'd video footage and sent it by email to the couple through their daughter's iPhone.



The picture was able to confirm for them that their house had survived.

Of course, it's bittersweet. Their property was spared, but most (MOST) of their neighbors lost everything in the fire. Sadly, it's still too soon to know if the neighborhood will ever be rebuilt.

Even then, they worry that many of their neighbors won't be coming back. Their concern is that even after rebuilding, life in the mobile home park won't be the same.

I'm sorry for them, but it won't be.

Life will go on (I have strong faith in that). People will recover from their losses both great and small. They can rebuild the community if that's what they want. Sadly, even if they rebuild into something new, wonderful and even better than what they had before, what they had before is simply gone.

Who doesn't understand their need for time to grieve?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Once More, Into The Fire.

My thanks to everybody who took a moment over the weekend to encourage me to "be" safe while out covering the fires.

I tried. It worked. I'm safe and sound and my equipment is safe and sound. Well, it was when I handed off the truck this morning. No telling what's happened since then.

I'm just kidding, I'm pretty sure the early morning crew ran into no more trouble than we did on Sunday.

Yeah, about Sunday.



The day started out normal. Load up, head for one fire, get turned around to go to another fire. I wound up in Placerita Canyon where I met up with Reporter Randy Paige and Photographer Rob Pearson.

While driving to find a location for our first liveshot we were collateral damage in a foscheck drop.

It wasn't a direct hit, but I was out of the van trying to get the SNG truck ready when I felt the fine misting.



Silly me, I was focused on getting our gear fired up and getting on the air. I really thought we were getting sprayed with water. The spots on the windshield? Those are little drops of foscheck. It was also on my hat and my clothes.

No big deal, occupational hazard.

A couple of live hits later, we were on the move to try and find a water tank that our reporter had pointed out during the liveshot.



It was a good try, but our vehicles just weren't up to making the drive on the goat trail road leading to the tank.

On to Plan #B.

We made our way up to probably the highest point in the hills surrounding Placerita Canyon. Be it ever so humble, this transmitter hilltop became home base for the next ten hours.


Photo by Rob Pearson

I was running the smaller SAT truck and that worked out great, because I didn't have to wrestle with trying to put either of the big trucks into a safe position. We had plenty to worry about with the smoke and ash as it was.



Fire had already burned one side of our hilltop home before we arrived. Other sides were slowly burning and was flaring up from time to time. Having the firefighters right there with us made me feel safer, but I had the SAT truck pointed in the right direction in case just in case things got out of hand.



Now, "out of hand" is a relative term when there's an uncontained wildfire burning all around you.



In the middle of all the controlled chaos, we did live satellite shots that updated people on the status of the fire and maybe put a human face on the people involved.



For me, it was a long day and a long weekend. I saw so much more than I have time to write about. I'm just glad for the break that I'm getting before heading back into work later today.

My body aches, I'm sounding raspy and I'm still worn out from back to back long shift WDO's (that's a work day off in union-speak). After so many months of trying to adjust to a more frugal work reality, it feels pretty odd to have just mowed through an entire weekend on the clock.

I'm not going to question it, I'm just going to head back in for some more.

Happy Monday everybody. Let's all "be" safe. It's still a pretty dangerous world we live in.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fire Days (and nights)

I'm holding up pretty well. Got out to the front line today (cough).
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Continuous Coverage

Well, I just woke up and as soon as I upload some pics from the Red Cross Evac center, I'll be heading out the door. More fire coverage today.



This is what the 5 Freeway looked like as Greg Mills and I were making our way to the evac center.



It was 5:00 in the morning, but people had been glued to the TV all night.



This flag was nearly all that was left of the mobile home park. Around 500 mobile homes destroyed by the fire and many of the people at the evac center were among those people who lost homes.

In all the sadness there were still many uplifiting stories of people who resolved to overcome the tragedy, finding strength in the safety of their friends and family. As difficult as it must have been to lose everything, there was no doubt for many in the room that "things" can always be replaced.

I gotta go cover the fires. Thanks for all your good thoughts, prayers, and concern.

I promise, I'll try to be safe.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Disaster Lunch

Still hanging at the evac center. This is a sad bit of news coverage. Many of the people here have lost their homes.

I don't want to treat their loss lightly, but the Red Cross gave me a hot dog and some water.

That's actually better than I normally get on a big breaker.
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Good Morning From Sylmar

Thanks for the good thoughts being sent my way. It's probably gonna be a long day at work and I'll need the encouragement..
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Qik'n It With Rich DeMuro


Being marginally tech literate, I get a kick out of working with Rich DeMuro, our CBS2 and KCAL9 Tech Reporter.

We covered the World of Warcraft launch of its' new expansion pack, "Photographer Kings of the Sorcerer's-- okay, that's not the name of it.

We were live at the Best Buy store in West Hollywood with the die hard fans waiting for the midnight release and Rich did a live runthrough of our liveshot with his Qik enabled Blackberry cell phone.

The way I see it, you can't get more cutting edge than that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Family Matters

It's been as difficult a week as any I've had in recent memory. Fortunately I personally missed a nice big chunk of it by being medicated over the weekend.

Thanks for all the kind thoughts expressed over on Facebook. I'm feeling much better and I'm glad I didn't miss more than one day of work.



Let's play catch up.

One of the last story I was covering before my trip to the dentist involved a double murder. Two older men (brothers) had been killed and buried in the backyard of their home. A suspect was in custody and was being questioned as we were covering a press conference with detectives from the LAPD Rampart Division.



I think the detectives were fairly certain they were questioning the right person, but the situation was such that they probably needed to cover their bases and make sure they had all available information.

Our role in this was to get the word out. These types of pressers follow a familiar format.

This (These) murder(s) had happened in this area on (or near) these dates. Did you see anything? Did you hear anything? Does anyone know anything? Call us if you have any information?



It might seem like grasping at straws, but I like the idea of leaving no stone unturned.

The victims were related to the person being questioned. He was the son of one of the men killed.

You might not be surprised to learn violent crime within a family isn't all that rare. Somehow, with the holidays coming up, I find that particularly disturbing.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sneaking In

I'm cracking myself up by calling up my blog on newsroom computers.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember The Night!

I'm glad we don't have to do this level of coverage every day. I'm wiped out and still have to go to work later this afternoon.

Okay, if you haven't heard by now, Obama won the election. . .



. . .and I wore a tie to work.



You know, there's probably little to no correlation between these two historic events, but I can't help but wonder how the election might have gone had I not worn a tie.

The scarf, I'm sure, had nothing to do with either thing, but I like it because my older daughter made it. I'm glad I had it with me, because during most of the day, the room was freezing. Probably in anticipation of the massive amount of heat Barack Obama's supporters were bringing to the election.



Man, it was quite the party at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. During a lull in the coverage, I made my way up to the front of the room to shoot back towards the media platforms.

It took me a while to get up there.

It shouldn't have surprised me, but the music playing throughout the evening was a lot more contemporary that I would have thought.



We were even treated to a concert by the duo of "Mary Mary". They were good. I'm going to be loading up the iPod to give them a listen.

I was working next to Juan Fernandez and Carl Stein most of the evening, but my job was to put Serene Branson on TV.



I thought this was a nice picture of her. She had to bop from the big room and the room where Ridley Thomas' election night headquarters was set up.



At one point, our room got so crowded they weren't letting anyone else in. We had a moment there where we weren't sure that Serene was going to be able to get back to our camera position for her liveshot.

It worked out, but that's the kind of stress that we didn't need. It's kind of expected that things like that might happen, but it's our job to fix those kinds of problems or work around them.

Luckily, these things sometimes will work themselves out.



Food for the crew was another issue we had to work out. I don't know what it's like at other stations, but we've been left to fend for ourselves more and more as the belt has tightened in these economic tough times.

I was able to make a food run for the crew. It was a quick jog across the street to a Baja Fresh in the food court of the neighboring Westfield shopping center.

Funny, but that's forever going to be a part of my Barrack Obama election night memories.



Not the biggest memory of course.

Nope, my biggest memory of the night by far is going to be of the cheer that went up through the room when Barack Obama won the deciding electoral votes.

After that (even when CNN posted their predicted win for Obama), it all seemed anti-climatic for me. Not in a bad way. The election was pretty much over, I still had to focus on my job, but the person I felt should be given the opportunity to lead the country had won.



I'd been surprised by the outcomes of both the last two elections and was very thankful for the decisive victory. I'm relieved there won't be any doubt as to who won the election.

Well, there's never enough time to say all the things I'd like to say.

Today I'm sore, but happy.

Very very happy.
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yay.

I'm doing a little happy dance right now.
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The Party Has Started!

I'm trying to maintain not calling it early, but that just feels like political correctness.

But you and I know, don't we?
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BA-Rockin' With The Democrats!

Big day in the USA. I wasn't up as early as the Chief, but I managed to jump on board with the set up crew for our coverage over at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. That's where the Dems are holding their election night news-a-palooza celebration party.

I'm still kind of bummed that I'm doing my election night thing here in town. Really would have liked to have been in Chicago, but that's just me being snarky.



This is going to be a helluva day no matter where I am.

No doubt, it's likely going to be insanely momentous. I wore a tie to work. Really. Okay, I took it off to help with the load up, but I'll have pictures later to prove it.



It's a lot of work getting this kind of remote set up. I'm not doing much of that work right now, but you don't really need me when you have guys like Carl Stein and Joel Fallon making up for a blogging slacker such as myself.



You know I'm just kidding right. Got to keep laughing, it's going to be a long day.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pasadena Laemmle

Haven't been out to a movie in months. Just not feeling the current crop of Hollywood extravaganzasm.

We're seeing "Let the Right One In", a sweedish language vampire movie.

Hmm. It sounded better when I saw the preview.
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