Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Week in Review

Restful Weekend

There was a year when I was either in middle school or high school that I somehow managed to spend my entire spring break playing solitaire and watching MTV. I played solitaire on the C64 and had the tv going in the corner of the room. It is one of my favorite memories. It was total wasted time in some ways, but sometimes I cast my memory back there and find a little rest at how relaxed it made me during what was, if I recall correctly, a very difficult time in school.

I've often wondered if it would be possible to duplicate that feat of relaxation. Well, I need wonder no more. Memorial Day weekend very nearly managed to equal that spring break for me. I spent a lot more time than strictly intelligent playing Doctor Who: Legacy and listening to Amazon Prime music on the iPad. A different experience, but some similar techniques of forgetting everything but the game and music; fully occupying my mind in such a way that I no longer hurt, emotionally. I ended up relaxing so much I almost forgot all the reasons why I was stressed in the first place. Which is kind of the point, I guess.

So, not a lot happened on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. In fact, Eric and I finished our weekend to-do list early enough that we really got a major rest on Monday. It was nice. We watched two movies over the weekend, the 2003 version of The Music Man and the recent Divergent movie. I suppose I should do rapid reviews of those, since I do have some commentary. But there just wasn't a lot more going on in our lives. Thank goodness.

Deadline Hero

Tuesday morning I woke up at 1 a.m. with the absolute certainty that I was late for work. I had an adrenaline rush and started to get out of bed, then looked at the clock. I cursed whatever dream had caused my untimely awakening, then fell slowly back to sleep. Four hours later, Inkwell timed it almost perfectly with my alarm to get me out of bed. I had the meowing cat and the buzzing going about the same time. Lovely.

I got to work on time, no problems there. It took a bit of effort getting back into writing mode, but the editor had written one of my sports stories so I had something to edit and add coach comments to while I worked on remembering how to write. The second sports story was a little harder to put together, mostly because I was still feeling the weekend, but I got it all pieced up and written. I only had one police log to get done, and that came together quickly.

While on deadline, we started to hear comments on the police scanner about something happening near the high school. Once it became clear that someone had fallen into the irrigation canal, my co-worker jumped up and drove out there to get a photo and the story. Turns out a student fell headfirst into the canal after having a seizure while walking along it. He wasn't responsive, so another student jumped into the canal and held the first boy's head above the water until rescue personnel could pull them both out. Then the hero student got a ride home with police, changed into dry clothes and made it back to school in such good time he wasn't even late to classes.


After deadline it was time to write for Wednesday's paper. No problems there, either. I had to format an agenda for the school board meeting and write an opinion column. I had already written a column about reporters being allowed to have opinions... I altered it slightly based on last week's events to better fit my feelings about recent incidents.

With regards to those events, the editorial I strongly opposed printing got some online comments. However, those comments were caught in the moderation system. I was able to take a peek and saw that the anonymous person making the comments pretty much felt exactly the same way I did about the editorial. I doubted the publisher would allow them through moderation, and sure enough, when I last checked the editorial had comments disabled. I found it disappointing. We did print a letter to the editor about the editorial, however.

Another comment, one that got through the moderation, was on a story I wrote a year ago about a movie that a person who grew up locally worked on. I checked out the progress of the movie and found its Facebook page and liked it. I do want to see the movie, but it looks like I'll have to wait a bit longer.

Night Meeting Fun

With a night meeting Tuesday, the editor told me to scoot and not come back, so I had a very relaxing lunch with Inkwell, who enjoyed my presence for a little while, then started to act like he wanted to get rid of me. I suppose he can't throw wild daytime parties with all the neighborhood cats if his humans are home? I also continued to read the book I'm reviewing for Friday's paper, "Woman-Powered Farm." I'm not going to write anything about it here, but I enjoyed the reading time. Indeed, it was a nice relaxing afternoon.

The council meeting was less than relaxing. Although it didn't have much by way of meaty subjects, it did have a lot more people present than usual. That resulted in an event that, unfortunately for me, happened outside the council chambers while I was busy reporting on council doings. Two of the local personalities got into an altercation, verbal only apparently, out in the foyer. One of the two is busy suing the city, the other likes to complain about church music. I missed the thing, but saw signs of it happening (people leaving and entering the council room repeatedly, the first chat between the two, an officer coming in to ask people to come out to the lobby to have a talk with him). After the meeting I texted my co-worker who covers the local police to let her know to check the logs about this incident in the morning. Since I didn't know what happened, I let her handle the report, which she did by checking the log and talking to the commander.

The council also discussed the student who jumped in the irrigation canal to save his friend. A discussion on the effort to cover the canal started again... it's been in the works for a couple of years. The student was brought up again later and hailed as a hero, and the fire chief said there will likely be more along those lines at a future meeting, as someone who saves a person from drowning can't be given enough kudos.

The meeting ended about my new bedtime, so I headed home and immediately went to bed. I woke up about 20 minutes before my alarm, so I thought I got a good night's sleep.


Deadline on Wednesday was much more difficult, and I managed it with only 3 minutes to spare. Two council stories and multiple briefs, a long police log and a shorter police log... it was tough, but I got it done. I had a note on my desk to go visit the community center's recycle bins and get a picture of the mess, which I did. Apparently people in this town have great difficulty figuring out recycle bins, which has caused horrible issues for the city. Many people want to recycle, but others just want a place to dump off garbage for free. I started a game of phone tag with the city's public works guy before lunch to try to get some good comments on the problem from him. Lunch was quiet with the cat, then back to work. I got a bit more done, including chatting with the public works guy, before heading home for a nap because I was so much for the good night's sleep.

Eric woke me up after he'd been home for a bit and we had dinner before I headed out to the planning commission meeting. I expected a fairly short meeting, since there were only two items on the agenda. Both were public hearings, but people don't usually show up to those unless they feel strongly about something. As it happened, a pair of women felt strongly about one of the items on the agenda and showed up. Their presence and testimony had an impact, possibly positive, and I couldn't help but give them a thumbs-up. Meeting them made me happy.

It did extend the meeting a bit, but only by a few minutes, really. I got home an hour before my new bedtime, so I had time to have dessert, play with the cat and watch a little TV before hitting the hay.

No Editor

Thursday was an editor-less day. With the editor away, the reporters don't play. In fact, we generally work twice as hard. Fortunately, he'd planned for being away and made sure we had everything we needed to get the paper out on time. They also reduced the size of the paper to eight pages, which was a little strange. So there was no stress for me for deadline. Two stories about the two hearings at the planning commission meeting and two police logs, both of them fortunately really boring. I like boring police logs. I'd be happy if every police log was boring. Boring is really good with police logs.

The paper didn't get done when it was supposed to because we kept finding errors in the copy after the pages had been laid out. Thank goodness we aren't on the new printing schedule yet, because we would have failed.

New Toy

Another interesting thing happened on Thursday. One of the production staff said she is upgrading her camera and wanted to know if I wanted to buy her old one. Her "old" camera is about 5 years newer than the company camera I've been using, so I was extremely interested. I texted Eric to ask if we could swing it, and talked with him later about it. I went for it, and got a nice little Nikon D3100, which is a significant upgrade from the rapidly deteriorating D50 I had. The thing about work cameras... I'm using them every single day, sometimes in rough environments like dusty outdoor venues. The D50 was a workhorse, but the photo guy at the office and I often joked about "accidentally" dropping it or something to force the publisher to buy a better camera. The photo guy was the one who made the suggestion to sell the camera to me, so I have to thank him for that.

I left work early again on Thursday because of another night meeting. If you are counting, that's three night meetings in three days. Before the night meeting, Eric and I took his car to the shop. Thursday night was school board. And it was a slightly boring meeting. There almost wasn't enough to write about. There was a mild paperwork snafu... I ended up with a document in my packet that had nothing to do with any of the night's business. I determined it wasn't of interest, but I wasn't sure if they'd given it to me for background or by mistake. I asked after the meeting. Yup, a mistake.

I almost didn't make deadline on Friday due to having to write up all the personnel changes in the district. A co-worker took one of my police logs and the editor allowed me to do the personnel article last, with the understanding we would publish it next week if I couldn't get it done... but I got it in just before deadline. I worked on some Monday stories, including the recycling bin thing. I called the company that picks up the recycling and they said it gets picked up four times a week, which really isn't what we saw when I went down there. I may have discovered a lack of communication between the waste company and the city, which I was sure to let both sides know about.

I then stuck around for a bit to take video of the last press run before taking my new camera (which I'd gotten that morning during deadline) out to take pictures of a local teacher "walk-out" (which they did on an early dismissal day so it wouldn't interrupt classes).

I came back with my new photos to see how well they'd turned out and if I needed to go back and take more... they looked good. So, with another night assignment for 6pm that night, I headed home to rest, and to pick up Eric's car from the shop. The night event was a Cub Scout Arrow of Light ceremony for four local boys. I got some great photos of them along with a few other photos that might be useful at other times. I hope the photos turned out, but I really didn't have much time to learn how to use the camera before I was let loose with it. Kind of like the first time I took out the D50 for an assignment. It was literally the first time I'd held a DSLR camera in my hands and I was expected to get good photos with it.

Inkwell is utterly unimpressed with mommy's new camera

I really wasn't sure about the photos I took at the scouting ceremony... though when I checked them this morning on my computer they look better than they do in the camera's monitor. I may spend some time this weekend playing with the camera to try to learn more tricks. Anyway, once I got home and had dinner, I don't really remember much after that. I think I went to bed and didn't get up until late this morning.

Next week's schedule is again tough, with four night events. I don't mind the night events themselves, it's the sheer number of them that bites. When you only have one or two a week, that's tolerable. But four a week makes for split shifts that are simply exhausting, whether it's a stand-alone photo or an actual meeting with multiple stories. Next week is graduation week AND a co-worker is taking time off. So there's not a lot of choice. But then, I knew the job is dangerous when I took it.