Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Week In Review

Last Friday I spent an hour or so taking sports photos. Both games were at the local Christian high school and started at the same time. I started at the boys baseball game because I had this notion in my head that they've been doing poorly this year, so it might be a quick game. I got my shot within an inning or so, then headed to the other side of the school to watch the girls softball game. This one was much harder to get a good shot at, but I stuck with it, and eventually got a decent photo to go with. Not my best, but it worked. Amusingly, I was still there when the local team got up by 10 runs and the ref called the game.

I also managed to convince a person to be a "neighbor", which is a filler piece we use to pad out the paper when news runs a little short. Basically, the victim neighbor fills out a form with a bunch of silly questions, I take the person's photo and they show up in the pages when we need more content.

In addition to taking pictures of people painting houses, I attended the first annual Asparagus Festival last Saturday, which was apparently a success. It tied in with one of my assignments, so I was able to complete some work while there. I also bought some asparagus which I steamed for dinner.

On Sunday I went out to the farm for the Meet Your Farmer event, and that was also pretty cool. I got to sample fry bread with a variety of toppings... the toppings being the thing being sold. There was some apple butter from The Campbell Farm that tasted very close to the great stuff my mom canned that we used all through my childhood. I really wanted to get some, but didn't have cash. I'll probably have to find their farm store and visit to get it.

I was also given a sample jar of raw honey... ohmanohmanohman... I need more. I love honey but rarely get it because it's so expensive anymore for the real stuff. This honey is really really good. Not the stuff you buy in supermarkets. I'm told there's a store in my town that sells it: I'm going to have to go and check out the prices. I'm bracing myself.

I then went to a concert, which was also fun. The announcer started by telling everyone the score of the Mariners game (which they later won in a wild battle, 11-10). The violinist started the concert with the absolute worst rendition of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" that I have ever heard, and I've heard some awful first-year stuff. He had a wicked grin on his face as he did it. Then he got down to some serious fiddling with a Mexican guitar for accompaniment. It was excellent, and I kind of wish I had stayed for the whole thing.

While I sat in the darkness of the auditorium, on the steps, I heard something behind me. A woman was being helped down the stairs, but she couldn't see a thing. I stood up and moved over into an empty row so she wouldn't step on me, but she couldn't see the stair, and started to fall. Between the guy guiding her on the other side and myself, we managed to stop her from falling and help her down into a seat. She did bruise my arm a little as she fell before I reached out to help.

Monday deadline was a nightmare, but at least it was a nightmare I knew and recognized this week. I got to work at 6:30am, about an hour before usual, and pounded out copy for fours hours until the 10:30 deadline. I got my last assignment turned in right before deadline, but it wasn't corrected and returned to me until just at deadline. The editor made a point of reminding us about deadline, as our deadline may soon get a little harder. More on that as it happens, if it happens.

After deadline, the boss sent me out to check on a potential story about downtown work. I got the story from city hall and the photo within about a half hour, then got back to the office and wrote up the majority of it before lunch. After lunch, I had two stories to finish writing and a promo to polish up, and then I was done. The editor let me leave to save some hours, since I worked the weekend. I met up with hubby-Eric and we got haircuts, then went home and watched the DVRed Boston Marathon. It was actually a moderately relaxing night.

Tuesday was ok, since I finished my work the day before and only had to worry about the police logs in the morning. We published my new museum president story along with the Meet a Farmer story on Tuesday. Hubby-Eric wasn't working, so we went out to lunch at the Salvadoran place. The pupusas were excellent and it's always nice to get some extra hubby time.

Tuesday afternoon I got to go to softball and baseball games again. The first was the Christian School girls, and I'm really happy with my photo from the game. I actually didn't know I got such an interesting shot until the photo processing guy handed it to me Wednesday morning. I had picked a different photo of a girl catching a foul ball as the most likely shot. But this one is much better. The timing couldn't have been more perfect if I'd planned it.

After hanging around in the heat for an hour, no real shade on that softball field, I headed over to the high school's baseball diamond to get shots of the boys team in action. I was not getting decent shots and I was overheating. I ended up buying an ice cream cone at the concessions in an attempt to cool down, since water alone wasn't cutting it. That helped, but I also clung to whatever shade I could find while taking pictures, which cramped my style a little. While hiding in the shadow of the visitors' dugout, there was a run-down between second and third base. I snapped away, and that's the shot we used. I honestly didn't think any of the other pictures I took were worth keeping. Of course, we put a bunch of the other photos we get on the blue dot, and some of the other shots I took at that game got picked... they just aren't as good.

Wednesday morning I had sports to write up, which can be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult, depending on the coach. The absolute best coaches write up an email with detailed stats and a few comments on the game, their athletes or the event. Great coaches call or email with useful information. Good coaches call or email with the basic stats and few comments. The annoying coaches don't call or email, you have to call them and pray they aren't in class or asleep when you try to reach them, if you can reach them. Wednesday I had an absolute best coach and a great coach. Unfortunately, my great coach counted wrong and I had to call him during class to clarify before I could finish my story. D'oh! We all make mistakes sometimes.

I've stopped putting my name on most of my sports stories because I feel like I'm still learning the art of sportswriting, which is a different animal than newswriting. I feel like a byline is taking too much credit for what is often the coach's or my editor's work. That said, this story I wrote feels, to me, like it was more written by my absolute best coach. Add in the fantastic photos by the photo processing guy (he's a pro in more ways than I'll ever be) and it turned out to be a pretty good story.

After deadline on Wednesday I started work on my Thursday stories when the editor told me to grab my camera and head over to a little park by the museum. One of the city's bronze statues that is a frequent target for idiot vandals was finally getting repaired. I hustled over and took a few dozen photos of the artisan working on the statue, which is of a cattleman branding a calf. The branding iron has been torn off twice, and the original artisan who cast the statue had to return to fix it. This was the second time, but the statue actually has been missing the branding iron for several years before it got fixed this time.

While out at the park, between moments I could take pictures of the work being done, I tried to use my long lens as a macro lens. To my immense surprise, I got some decent photos of bees, and one very nice shot of a butterfly. As we've printed a bee photo recently, I submitted the butterfly to the editor as a filler photo.

Bees are easy to photograph, since they sit still for awhile.

By the time I returned to the office, it was time for lunch. After lunch I started to pound away at Thursday's stories again when a couple of high school girls came to my office. One of them is being mentored in her senior project by my co-worker and cubicle mate, so we sat and chatted about writing and making mistakes and photography. It was fun, and the girls seemed interested... but my work suffered a little from my distraction.

Thursday morning was another sportswriting morning, along with major corrections on my other stories. Again, not really exciting. Except for getting back my track story with only one correction, which I don't think has ever happened.

I managed to get home for lunch to enjoy the Doctor Who: Legacy Adipose Twitch stream, which was nice. I even got there on time, despite it being a half-hour earlier than usual. And I got a thank you note from somebody I wrote a story about, which is also nice. Sometimes I cling to those rare thank you notes like a drowning person. I have most of the ones I've received taped up around my desk to look at when I'm feeling pressure.

With the editor gone on Friday, it meant getting as much as possible done ahead of time to lighten the load on the substitute editor. With the exception of my column, most of my stuff was easy cut&paste or simple promos. I did end up with one of the editor's usual sports stories for Friday morning, but it was just that and the police logs in the morning. Not too much to worry about. Of course, then we got word that the U.S. Representative would be in town and hey, could we maybe send a reporter? *sigh* They usually give us a couple of days notice on events like this, but Friday it was only a few hours. Fortunately, one of the reporters was able to break free some time, with difficulty, so she went.

The afternoon was silent. Not much of anything happened at all. I eventually went out to a softball game for the local high school, the first time I've taken pictures at the high school's softball field this season. There was a complaint about the girls facilities being so much worse than the boys, which was true. So this year, the facility, which will only be used this season, was upgraded considerably. It is much nicer than last year, including dugouts with real roofs instead of plastic sheeting, toilet facilities, fenced bullpens, and an outfield fence. Unfortunately, due to the many fences, I had some trouble finding a good spot to take photos from, but eventually I went out past the homerun line and found that my long lens could get some good batting action. I believe I got a couple of good shots, but that will be up to the photo processing guy on Monday.

Today is a day of absolute do-nothing. I am writing this blog, but this is the most effort you'll see from me today. I'm going to take it easy since it's technically my first day off in almost two weeks.