Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Going Though a Drought

Almost all my life I have lived in an area where I have never had to deal with drought. While in Bowling Green and Toledo, Lake Erie is right there. As a kid I grew up along the Ohio river. Every year there was more concern over flooding than drought. The worst I could ever drought conditions was during two months where there was no rain, but it wasn't that bad, all the local farmers had OK years.

For the entire month of August North Carolina has had only one day below 90. and we have actually had at least ten days over 100. Then we also set a record for average temperature in a month. August beat the old record by two degrees (old record 82.5 and the new record is 84.5). To compound matters we have had very little rain in that same time. Of hand I think Fried Chicken Drive has had two rain storms and only one lasted more than 10 minutes. This has led to the state calling for stage 1 drought measures. Mostly this means you can only water you lawn one day a week, but if you get caught watering on any other day you will receive a $200 fine for the first offense and you will have you water shut off for a second. Also the Governor is asking people to cut back on their water usage by 20%.

Most people here are use to droughts, North Carolina has one every year, but this time every one is a little worried. With no real rain in sight it's a little scary. I hope we get a some rain soon, I'm afraid to see what stage 2 of a drought is.

Monday, August 27, 2007


After 44 days I have finally been cleared of wearing any kind of brace on my right hand! The thumbs and tendons are about 80 percent healed and there is nothing medicine can do so I am cleared to resume my normal job and grab a camera. I was told that since it's not at 100 percent yet to take it easy and to ease into every day items like picking up a camera, golf, and other right handed things. I can't wait to start shooting. I am at wits end sitting in an edit bay for 8-12 hours a day. I also can't wait for the consistent schedule again. In the 44 days I have worked 9-6, then 11-8, 3-midnight, 8-5, 9-6, 8:30-7:30 and now midnight-8. I miss the consistency of night side.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More Computer News

The new computer is working pretty well, even though it is made my the same people as the last computer it's set up completely different. We are still waiting for the old computer to be shipped back to the store and I was a day away from going crazy on the geek squad again, but The Wife stopped me. She got a call from the manager (even though my number is the new primary... I think he's afraid of me), he informed her that the computer "should" be back sometime this week and we had two options: number one is to give us a flash drive of the info we need, or number two make the old hard drive into an external and give us that. Hmmm let me think, flash drive or finally have an external hard drive, oh yeah and the drive would be a 250GBs. I'll take the external drive please! I'm still not happy with the squad, but they are making up for all the mistakes.

I wonder though, if they keep screwing up can I get a flat screen TV out of this... probably not, but it would be nice.

Not the Donuts!

As I am still on the DL, I was forced onto the morning show this past Friday and I found one story disturbing; Krispy Kreme donuts if filing for bankruptcy. I will admit I am a fan of the deep fried pastry and I do enjoy a good KK glazed. The best thing about Krispy Kreme is the fact they have a sign on the front of the building letting people know that the donuts are HOT NOW. Getting a donut straight off the conveyor belt is nirvana! It's hot, gooey, and melts in your mouth.

The first time I ever had Krispy Kreme was when I was a rookie in Toledo, I'm not talking about the donuts that you find in gas stations. Yes those are Krispy Kreme, but they are shipped and I think they lose something. I'm talking about the actual store, we were doing a live shot at the nearby movie theater. The engineer and I were hungry and he wanted coffee, we enter and I hear the greatest phrase known to the English language. "Good morning, would you like a donut." I look around to Matt the engineer, "What do you mean... free." I ask hoping so. "Yes, the first is on us." HELL YEAH, it's a free donut. We proceed to eat our free donut and order a couple more donuts and some coffee. I seriously think they put a chemical in donuts that make you crave it fortnightly. I then noticed something none donut in a glass case. At the time I thought it was the coolest hat known to man, it was a green hat with a red circle with the classic KK logo. I bought one and wore it for years. I actually cracked it out the other day just for nostalgia.
So when I heard the sweet provider of lard and increasing waste lines was filing I was crushed. Even though bankruptcy for a company is different than it is for you and I, it is still a bad sign. If they go under then where will I be able to find piping hot donuts at anytime of the day? I also still have not full filled my greatest fantasy, to lick the conveyor belt of it's sweet sweet glaze. I know that will probably kill me, but hell it would be worth it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Fantasy... Football Team

It's that time of year where grown men play with their imaginations and think they can run an NFL team by playing fantasy football. I've been doing this for about 7 years and every year my team looks good on paper, but then everything falls apart. My star player gets injured, my quarterback decided to throw interceptions, the typical things that happen. This year I had the number 1 pick and a strategy. With only eight teams I knew I'd get some good players. Here is my team for the first week of the NFL season

QB: Carson Palmer (Cincinnati)
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego)
RB: Reggie Bush (New Orleans)
WR: Anquan Boldin (Arizona)
WR: Donald Driver (Green Bay)
TE: Jeremy Shockey (New York Giants)
K: Josh Brown (Seattle)
DST: San Diego

My Back-ups
QB: Brett Favre (Green Bay)
RB: Thomas Jones (New York Jets)
RB: Ladell Betts (Washington)
RB: Micheal Turner (San Diego)
WR: T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Cincinnati)
WR: Reggie Brown (Philadelphia)

This could be a championship team, but it also could have problems. My Wide Receivers and Tight End are going to be the big question I just have to hope at least two will produce and get me a couple of points a week. On paper this is the best team I have ever drafted, so that means I will end up in last place.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Take Me Out to the Mudcats

Only only does the Triangle have the Durham Bulls, but they have the Florida Marlin's Double A team the Carolina Mudcats. Our church decieded to have an outing to see a game so I though I'd give them a shot.

The first big difference from the Durham Bulls is that the Bulls are in an actual city. The Mudcats... not so much, they say it's in Zebulon, but truthfully Zebulon is currently a blip on the map of eastern Wake County. I'm guessing that's why the team uses Carolina not Zebulon, and to be honest Carolina sounds cooler, unless you went with the Z-town Mudcats. When you get to the statium it is very plain on the outside, most of the time when you go to a newer minor league park they have a front of the station, here they have kind of a side entrance that is not well marked. Inside it's not too bad, nothing special just your run of the mill park. We have seats on the third baseline near the outfield.

Once we get to our seats I realize I'm the only one interested in the actual game, which is fine yet odd. I know there will be a lot of socializing, but the last time I did something like this was in Columbus and the Senior adults were harassing me for wearing my Mudhens jersey (The Clippers just happened to be playing the Hens). I start watching the game and the girl, Sommer, who set this whole thing sat down and after five minutes I realized that she knew nothing about baseball. I had to explain everything to her. The hardest part was explaining Double A ball. For those who don't know baseball has levels: The lowest levels are Developmental and Rookie leagues, next is Single A, then Double A, Triple A and finally the Major Leagues. The best part was when she was asked, "Why are the Braves playing the Mudcats?" She didn't realize that the team from Mississippi and happened to be apart of the Atlanta Braves farm system.

I finally made some head way and started to watch the game. I had never seen a Double A game, I've mostly watched the Majors and Triple A, while in West Virginia I did shoot a couple of Single A games, but I still try and block that year out. The first thing I realized is that... this is not very good baseball, it also doesn't help that the Mudcats are below .500. From what I gathered from this one game is that Double A is like the adolesence of the baseball world. You're not ready for the Majors, but too good for Single A, but not quit ready for Triple A as well. There were four errors, a couple of passed balls, bad throws to the catcher and not so good pitching all the way around. The worst baseball of the night was on a bunt the shortstop Chase Lambin makes contact and the ball rolls down the line and could go foul, so he stands just outside of the batters box watching the ball. The third baseman charges the ball and it stays fair, he grabs teh ball and throws... it... over the head of the first baseman. FINALLY Chase starts to run and barely beats out the second throw. I hope he got reamed for his laziness, you always run on the play, you never know when a ball will stay fair or there is an over throw or both.

Even though the Mudcats lost and I may be a little harsh on the play, but a night of baseball is still a good night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yes, This is Where I Grew Up

So I'm editing the mid day webcast like any other day when I get to a story about a duct tape robber. I look at the slug with curiosity and grab the video over to my computer. I start looking at the idiot (that's him to the left) and laughing at how stupid he is. I start trying to find video of the store in the package and I see a name Shamrock Liquors... that sounded familiar and that's when I noticed the street sign in the foreground, 13th street and also a city logo... Ashland.


For the people that know me I grew up in the small river town of Ironton, Ohio which is near Huntington, WVa and you guessed it Ashland, Ky. I've even been to that store with Wilson. I had a friend live down the street from there.

The Story goes that Kasey Kazee walked into Shamrock Liquor store with his face covered in duct tape... you know to conceal his identity. The owner of the store hits him with a bat covered in (sweat irony) duct tape while an employee chokes out Mr Kazee.

I start of laughing and then it hits me: Why is it that all the idiots from back home are the ones to make national news, ney INTERNATIONAL NEWS! I am dumb founded and hoped it was just the photos. I was not lucky there, WSAZ interviewed the guy in holding and he, get this, denies being the "Duct Tape Bandit." His reasoning was that during the interview he says "Look at me, do I look like the Duct Tape Bandit baby, I ain't no Duct Tape Bandit, you hear me..." Hello moron they have you with the tape on your face, then a picture with the tape off. You are not going to fool any one, I don't think the Chewbecca defense is even going to help you.
Just once I would love to see a story come from the Tri-State that is good. No more triple homicides, guys burying his daughter in a trash can, and no more duct tape fueled mayhem. I might be asking too much.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Me against the Geeks

Have you ever had one of those moments you knew something was wrong and if you did nothing things would get worse? This afternoon was one of them, I've mentioned in the past that the DVD drive in our computer went down and we had to take it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy. I was sitting around and I kept thinking, it's been a week, I need to call and see if the computer is ready.

I call and they can't find the work order... bad sign number 1. I call The Wife to call, because she as all the info with her. She calls me back with the reply "Your not going to be happy and you're probably call and yell at them." About two hours earlier they sent the computer to Hewlett Packard and it's going to be another two weeks (I'm confused with a little bit of anger with that). The reason they sent it out today was they tried call all week, but never got a reply. They decided to call the old house number that was on the original receipt. Could be considered an honest mistake until you realize that they require alternative numbers when we turned in the computer to get it fixed. They had BOTH cell phone numbers. The kid tried to put the blame on The Wife; all she had to do was change the number with customer services and none of this would have happened. No you young punk, you had two other numbers and no one called them. That sent me over the edge and I immediately called them to get answers.

After multiple calls and being told to calm down (I may have yelled, but I did have a little decorum, I did not call the guy names and did not you an profanity. My goal was to show anger with my voice, try not to demand anything but make sure they understand I am going to swallow someone's soul if this does not get fixed) they finally give an OK solution. They are going to upgrade the computer so that I get an extra gigabyte of RAM and I get a dual possessor, that soothed me a bit. They got a hold of UPS and the computer is still in town and they are going to get it back and I may get some of the info on the old computer back. We can get all files back, but we have to reinstall all programs. This causes a few problems, I have a Strat-O-Matic baseball game and I have to call the company and get all the codes reactivated... that can take a week.

I was content with everything and I am ready to leave, they hand me the paperwork, but no computer. They have to install all the anti-virus and spyware so I now get put to the back of that line. We may see the computer tomorrow. Once the warranty expires I am not going back to the Geek Squad, I'd rather go to the little mom and pop place in Wake Forest that has helped us in the past.

Great Night Turns to Hellish Day

Sunday started out like any other Sunday. We get up at 7:30, go to church, a help with a video shoot afterwards, go to a picnic, The Wife takes a nap but I decide not to, I need to get up a little earlier than normal so I stay up and watch The Simpsons Season 5 DVD set. We head out for a little dinner, get some groceries and head home to watch a movie. That's when The Wife remembered that Sunday was the start of the Perseid Meteor shower. Ever since Wilson informed me of this annual event I have tried to see it and every year for the last eight I have not been able to. Last year was the closest I've been to seeing it, The Wife got a call around midnight from Wilson telling us it was happening, we get up go through the drive through at Taco Bell and try and find a spot to see the light show in the night sky. The problem was that Columbus has a lot of lights and we could not get away from them to see anything. On top of that there was a full moon and that was making things worse. We think we may have seen one, but we think our eyes were playing tricks.

After a relaxing evening of just sitting outside and relaxing we get ready. We started to wonder if we were ever going to see a "shooting star." As we were giving up one raced across the night sky, we both gasp and I hear "did you see it?" We finally saw our first meteor of the night. Wilson told us from 10 till midnight they will be sparse but will be prettier. The good time to see a lot is around 3 or 4.

We finally saw a total of 4 and it's nearly midnight and we decide to head to bed. We would set the alarm for 3am so we can try and see the night sky lit up from the shower. My thinking was three good hours with a half hour of gazing and then get 3 more hours of sleep.

Just minutes after I get to sleep, the annoying ring of my work cell phone goes off. The morning editor has called in sick and since I'm expendable I get the call and I need to be at work... 10 minutes ago. Yet again I will not see the glory of the meteor shower. I am happy I got to see one really beautiful shot across the sky, but I consider that not enough.

I get into work and at our shop the morning show is like a sweet shop of editors. for two hours of news, a webcast and cut ins during the Today show, I either cut or attached over 170 pieces. 150 of that is for the show so I was averaging 42 pieces of video per half hour. The producer thought she was funny by telling they kept it light since I came in with no sleep. Why would any show need that much video? Considering every ten minutes you have a minute or more of weather and then all the banter you get on a morning show. I will admit about 1/3 of all the video was opens and graphics, this is the only station I know of where the editors attach that stuff. It bogs you down and forces the content to suffer.

I barrel my way through and get the hows done at 6:15 saving me 45 minutes of somewhat calm. Then the producers as me to do something they normally do, attach video for the cut ins. I am not staggering around. I've been up 23 hours with about 10 minutes of sleep. I am the kind of person that has to have sleep. I can't function a day without it. I blindly attach everything. Then the web people start coming into my bay. They added a noon webcast and I was suppose to edit it (that's why I was going in earlier than normal), but now no one is there to do it. I was told my the chief it was not my responsibility since I came in early, but that doesn't stop the web people, they add a bunch of stuff from the morning and who extreme fluff stories. I start editing everything for the web I blinked and the next thing I know it's now 10 minutes till I leave. I passed out for 15 minutes. I attach the last four pieces of video and leave. I was expecting a call wondering why I left, but as of right now I am in the clear. I was told to leave at 8 and I was not staying unless a manager told me to stay.

I kid you not that Sunday was a great evening, The Wife and I have not had that relaxing of an evening... well... probably ever. Then work had to crush my soul as it usually does. I've slept a couple of hours, but I'm still struggling. I hope this does not happen again tonight.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Still Hot and More Satellite News

I'm going to ramble a little and do this flow of consciousness so reader beware.

Yesterday I did my first ever satellite uplink! The Chief and I drove to a parking lot and tested my skills. I did pretty well. I did all the conversions from NBC to CNN without too many problems. I did get confused a bit on the location of one satellite. I went to the left instead of the right, but I figured it out. We then headed to Garner for another test. Garner is south and east of Raleigh so everything will be a little different. Satellites are in a semi-fixed location so when you move south, the satellites are further up in the sky. I get everything set up and I hear "Do you want to uplink?" I wanted to, but I was afraid of not being in the right spot.

If I power up on the wrong location on the bird I might blowout someone else and ruin their feed. Then the satellite people will call me and yell and the station has to pay for the new time for the station I screwed over... This could get expensive. We get out transponder and time, I call in and I'm clear to go up. I flip the switch and I see the downlink and everything is great! I don't think I'm ready to do this on my own, but I think I should be able to go out with someone and do the job.

I picked everything up faster than the Chief thought I would. I believe the reason is while at The Network we did countless satellite shots and I watched those guys every time. I didn't know exactly what they were doing, but when my training started I started to piece together what I saw for three years to the information given to me. So thank you Manny and Anthony for all the times I watched you guess set up.

Well, on the way to Garner we run into a problem. The Air Conditioning in the back and front of the truck is not working right. In the back, it sort of works, but the temp got up to 90 degrees. As we drove towards Garner the cab air went out completely. We rolled down the window, but that didn't help. Yesterday it was 104 degrees and that is one degree away from the all time record, but it felt like it was 115! That 20 minute drive felt like an hour, the heat was like a weight on your chest making it harder to breath.

This week has been like an oven, I think Lucifer, you know the Devil wants to turn the air on. Monday 100, Tuesday 101, Wednesday 102, Thursday 104, and Friday 103. Saturday it's suppose to be cooler by almost 10 degrees. That still sucks because it's still ass hot! I know this is not normal, but I don't think I can do southern summers. Stupid sun!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Randomly Hot

It's been a while since I last posted. I have had a few ideas, but time and will have been against me. So to get the juices flowing I'll just do another lovely random thoughts:

Drop It Like It's Hot
I've complained once about the heat and that was premature, because we have hit triple digits. We are on our second straight 100+ day and we have one more to go, after that it's not much of a drop off, well will still be in the high 90s till next week. The thing that makes it worse is the humidity, it's making it feel like it's over 114. Right now at 9:19pm it's 88 degrees and it feels like 93. The only bright side of hurting my thumb is that I don't have to be outside much. I did have to go out and help run a live shot from the parking lot and it was unbearable. I was sweating the second I stepped outside. I'm trying to get back on an exercise routine and I thought, it ought to be cooler. As I mentioned a few lines up it is still warm. I got over two miles in, but I was drenched by the time I hit the first mile. My 16.9 ounces of water was not enough, I conserve so I have have some for the return trip. I get near the end and I think "Hey I'm going to try and job the last 1/3 of a mile." I get only two blocks and I had to stop. I know I'm out of shape, but the heat makes it worse. I at least get to the end of the street and then I have to walk the rest... up hill. I started to get dizzy as I reach the house. I knew it was going to get hot, but this is ridiculous.

Caged Photographer
Even though the thumb injury has me indoors, which is a plus. The negative is... that I am trapped indoors. I can't stand another three weeks of this, I have to move around and sitting in a poorly lit small room with nothing more than a computer is death for me. As the week moves on the more I get restless, Monday I can handle the day; by Wednesday at lunch I want to take a hammer to the monitor and by Friday, An hour into the shift I'm wanting to pound my thumb so that I can feel pain instead of the numbing tediousness and repetitiveness of news editing.

Also every week I have worked a different shift. Two weeks ago it was 9-6 then 11-8 the following week, 3-11:30 after that and this week is 9-6 again. In two weeks I get the joy of editing overnights midnight-8. I know that do not know what to do with me, but come on, make it a little more consistent than this. It's making my struggle even worse, I can't wait for my thumb to heal and I can get back on the road... even though it is a billion degrees outside.

Hitting a Bird
I know I just ranted about being stuck inside, this week has been a little different. I have started training on our satellite truck. For those not in TV there are two ways we can go live from a location: 1. is via a microwave truck, that's the one with the giant pole, it is only for local shoots within a general range of 20 miles or so. They are fairly easy to use and the station controls everything 2. is via satellite truck, a large dish on top of a large truck. You can go just anywhere with one of these, but it is very hard and expensive to use. Also you have to pay for time on bird (an insider name for a satellite) which can get expensive. There is a lot of training and things to remember with a satellite truck, luckily for me The Network did a lot of sat shots and I watched some of the best truck operators do their magic. I've got the basics down, well from the parking lot, but once I exit our gates I have to know how to take this dish and point it to a specific spot in the sky and the bird. It's like taking a marble and rolling it across a ballroom into a Dixie cup. I think I can do it away from the station, but we will see tomorrow. The biggest problem will be the math of figuring out the angles and other monitors in the truck.

I've been asked by some at the station why I am doing this training, it's going to cause me to work a lot more (I will be one of three people who can run the truck). Also I am not getting any extra pay and from what I've heard the company does not consider sat truck operators as anything more than glorified photographers. I'm doing this for job security, the area has a lot of locations where you can not use a microwave truck, so we are always going to need sat truck ops. Another reason is if they ever try and get rid of me or all the photographers, I will have something else to fall back on. There are numerous companies that do nothing but drive a satellite truck to a location and charge people lots of money to use their truck, I remember one year The Network used one of these trucks every weekend during football season. During Virginia Tech a third of the trucks were rentals.

PC Load Letter?
I've mentioned we bought a new computer and for the most part it has been great... except for one thing. The only DVD drive has never worked right. We called Hewlett Packard support and it started working... for three days. We picked up an external DVD burner drive as a back up and well, to have a second drive. We bought it at Best Buy and have a year warranty, but their stupid Geek Squad is constantly busy and everything takes over a week. The Wife finally beat me down and we took it Monday to be serviced. Of course they don't believe me that the drive isn't working. They try to play a couple CDs and DVDs and it doesn't work, what a shock. Luckily they are going to replace it for free and we are without a computer. Luckily I'm WORKing around this COMPUTER issue, I just hate not having all my music, pictures and games.