Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Week in Review

I'm happily at Anglicon, writing this before heading out to events, including a panel I'm running...

Hot Saturday

It was warm on Saturday. I checked the airport weather monitor a couple of times, and it got up to about 92 degrees over the course of the day. With the direct sunlight, it seemed even warmer, so I avoided going out at all. In fact, I waited until evening, right after sunset, to head out to do some necessary shopping for the week.

With Eric gone for the week, I decided to get some food I normally wouldn't. I also got more of my four snack foods that have been getting me through the mornings after deadline recently (Pirate's Booty, raisins, beef jerky and M&Ms). The result was a fairly large shopping trip that was mostly junk food. Ah, bliss!

I stopped at work to drop off my SD card of graduation photos, as well. I spent a bit of time Saturday afternoon going through the photos on my computer at home and picking the ones I thought were the best. I deleted the blurriest, unusable ones and made a list of 24 photos (out of about 800 that I took) I thought would work, along with quick descriptions of them, then emailed the list to my work address. So when I got to work Saturday night, I turned on my computer, printed out the email, and put the card on the photo guy's desk and I was done. Yay!

I also got the mail when I got home, as it had been too warm to walk out to the mailbox earlier. It all made for a late evening, but at least I didn't die from heatstroke, which is a real concern for me (I've had severe heat exhaustion twice in my life and nearly died once). I stayed up fairly late, enjoying the evening's relative coolness. Basically, the cat and I chilled out together. It was nice.

Bad News

Sunday was about as laid back as it's possible to get until Eric called from his folks place. He he had finished the convention (about how to run a convention), and gone to his folks home. He was with his mom when they heard that his grandmother, his father's mother, had passed away. When Eric called me with the news, I was dumbstruck. It wasn't entirely a surprise, but it was a shock. I spent much of the rest of the evening remembering.

Bedtime was difficult. It was warm enough upstairs that I didn't feel like trying to sleep, plus I'd been resting all day and my mind was wandering. Once in bed, every time I closed my eyes I would see a light, as if someone had turned on a light at the head of the bed. When I opened my eyes, it would get dark again. It was unsettling. Eventually I got back up and went downstairs to cool down, and Skype'd my hubby. Inkwell the cat was very upset that I was still up, telling me repeatedly that if I was moving around downstairs I should be feeding him.

Eventually I went to bed and actually fell asleep. I was woken by my alarm and not the cat, which surprised me. But Inkwell was waiting and as soon as I came out of the shower he was meowling for his breakfast.

Monday Praise

Deadline was tight Monday morning. I made it with about a minute to spare. Literally. I had my stuff corrected and moved into the right folder at 8:59 a.m. according to my computer clock. Whew.

The majority of my Monday work was the graduation photos I took the previous Friday night of graduation. Once I had everything done, I got to watch as the production crew turned my mass of photos into a neat-looking layout. All told, they fit 22 of my photos into the special section. And they looked really good once they were done. I had been feeling slightly disappointed in my work, but I guess it turned out ok after all. In fact, the publisher gave me kudos for the photos AND once we sent them to the Yakima paper to get printed, somebody there said they really liked our photo coverage of Sunnyside's graduation. Well! Praise from the competition is always a nice surprise.

Column writing

After deadline, it was once again time to "work on tomorrow's stuff", since we no longer have any wiggle room at all. For me, that was a feature story and a couple of cut-n-pastes from press releases. But first, I found I had to write something else. Before anything else would go through my head, I found myself writing a tribute to my husband's grandmother. I worded it so it would fit my column for Wednesday. I wasn't sure why I was compelled to write it, but my brain refused to let me do anything else until it was written.

After I'd finished it and put it on the editor's desk, it was like my brain was freed from a crushing hurt. I was able to put together my feature story about a film student originally from Sunnyside who is running an Indiegogo campaign to finance his thesis project film. The cut and pastes were simple. And then I did another piece for Wednesday's paper. Working ahead is always a good idea if you can manage it.

I had been told to take a long lunch so I could go take photos at a baseball game Monday afternoon, so I spent about two hours with the cat, lots of water, and lovely junk food. Mmmm (seriously, I'm wasn't eating a ton, just lots of stuff I usually don't eat).


When I got back to work there was a note on my desk to take I.M. from the production department and head down to the local pot shop, which opened Monday morning despite the city ban on the business, and take some photos. As I was heading out, I heard that a semi-truck had gotten tangled in some power lines. Fortunately, it was on the way to the pot shop, so I was able to kill two birds with one stoner. Er, stone.

The truck was indeed tangled, but not in power lines, thank goodness. I pulled over, pulled out the camera and snapped a few shots. I noticed the driver was still in the truck, which wasn't a big surprise. If I'd run my vehicle into some lines and wasn't sure exactly what I'd hit, I'd probably stay put too. The line was draped over the front of the truck, including over the driver's side mirror, so he was kind of trapped if there was any chance of those being live wires. By the time we got back, they'd freed the truck and had the lines on the ground, ready to be fixed.

Once we got that photo, we headed to the pot shop. There wasn't a crowd, but there were a few employees around. I got a photo of the owner in the doorway and then a photo of him leaning over a case of his product. Technically, that was the job done, but I chatted with him for awhile. I learned what really happened during the city council meeting, at least from his point of view. Since it's all hearsay, and I'm a reporter, I think I'll not pass on gossip, but let's just say it probably didn't warrant involving the police. No more than people singing and worshipping on Sunday merit calls to the police.

Anyway, he kept chatting, which was interesting if frustrating, and I really ought to have taken notes. Instead, when I got back and reported what we'd heard to the editor, he suggested I had enough for a story. Sure enough, once I started to write it down and called the city for comment, there was enough to write a tiny piece. Also, I checked online to see if I could figure out why he was opening his shop in defiance of the ban and without a city business license, and discovered that three other shops have defied local bans and opened, so he seems to be following the lead of others.

I will note that he checked both our IDs when we entered, and followed the procedures required by law, even though I made it clear when we arrived that neither of us intended to buy, since we on the clock. Co-workers jokingly asked us what we'd brought them when we got back.

Record-breaking Heat

Once back at the office, I spent a couple of hours doing corrections to previous stories and writing up the pot shop story. Before I knew it, it was time to head out to the baseball game. I stopped at home on the way to get a fresh bottle of water, and off I went.

It was remarkably unpleasant. I do not handle heat well at all. Once the thermometer hits 80 degrees, I'm slowly melting. On Monday it was 103 degrees according to the city's official weather observer (breaking the previous record by 5 degrees). There was no breeze whatsoever. I'm not entirely sure how the umpires in their heavy gear survived. I know I only stayed until I was out of water, because I didn't dare hang out any longer and risk getting sick. I got about 170 photos, and two of them turned out good enough to make the paper, which is what I was aiming for.

Once I got home I was sweating heavily and needing another bottle of water. Inkwell was concerned and followed me around the house, not meowing, just following me. Once I'd rested for a half an hour or so, I started to feel mostly human again. There were a few phone calls with my family and a Skype session with Eric, but the evening was uneventful. I went to bed around 8 p.m. and slept.

Headaches and Inkwell

I woke up just before 2 a.m. with a killer headache. I was dying. It hurt so bad I almost couldn't handle it. Usually, headaches don't wake me. This one did. After laying there for some time hoping it would give up and go away, I got up and got some painkiller. It took about a half an hour to kick in, then I was fast asleep again.

When I next woke up, just before my alarm went off, Inkwell was curled up on Eric's side of the bed watching me. He'd apparently given up on Eric coming home and now had decided to keep a close eye on his remaining slave. He followed me into the bathroom and insisted on staying while I took my shower, then herded me downstairs to feed him. He also tackled my leg when I said "bye-bye" to go to work. He didn't want his other human to vanish.

Deadline on Tuesday was much easier than Monday. The police logs were short, most of the work had gotten done on Monday so there wasn't too much to do, and all three of the reporters were done well before 9 a.m. The pages were laid out and proofed before 10:30 a.m.

Breaking News

I spent the rest of the morning working on Wednesday and Thursday stuff, then headed to lunch and an interview just after 11 a.m. After I'd been home for a bit I checked my email and learned the city manager had called me. That was interesting. When I got back to the office, I found out why. The city had closed down the pot shop. Since I called him on Monday asking for a statement, he thought I ought to know the city had shut it down. Well... he missed deadline, which meant my big ol' story about how it was open was out and printed... but the publisher wanted to know if we should put up a "breaking news" bit on the website. I started making phone calls to find out what had happened.

It took awhile before I was able to reach people, but I managed to contact the city manager who gave me enough to think about, but not enough to post something on the website. A quick debate with the publisher and editor - they decided to hold off posting my pot store opening story to the web, instead.

Just a bit more writing, and I was done for the day at the office, although I still had a planning commission meeting that night. It was utterly peaceful and uneventful. A little long, but that's just because the commissioners were doing their jobs and making sure they understood the situation before voting or commenting. They asked a lot of good questions... I think we have a decent group on the commission right now. Asking questions is important if you are going to get things done right.

Evening was restful. Inkwell was still watching my every move, but he was clearly pleased that his slave was home. I hit the hay as soon as I could, and slept pretty well.

At work too early

Wednesday morning... another drudging day of getting up and getting to work by 6:30 a.m. I was keenly aware of my deadlines on Wednesday, both personal and work-related. I wanted to get laundry done before heading over the mountains on Thursday, and I wanted to give Inkwell a bath to get rid of as much of his loose fur as possible, since my folks don't have AC, and Seattle has been fairly warm.

But first, work! Thanks to working ahead, I had only the planning commission meeting... no, wait... I also had to get more information on the pot shop closing from the police log... So only two stories, shouldn't be tough, right? Ha! I wanted to quote a person who gave testimony at the commission meeting, so I pulled up the city audio to make sure I had his name right. To my horror, it wouldn't run. I checked a few other spots... it was clear it was my computer, not the city's site. Crud. The company tech support (which works in another city) wouldn't be in until 8-ish. My deadline was 9. I started to get stressed.

We got the police log and ... nothing. There was literally NOTHING about the pot shop closure. There was a call to the area reported at least an hour after the event, but there was no narrative, no comments, nothing. I called the non-emergency police line and asked to speak to the commander. He wasn't in, so they suggested I email him. I had my doubts.

Well... who else was involved? I called the city, but nobody was there. It was too early. Our new deadline means we're active and running around when nobody else is available. At a quarter to 8 I called tech support again and got through. He said flash was only "half-installed" on my machine, and had me turn it off to get the process done. It took about five minutes that seemed like an hour.

Once he fixed my machine, it took me two minutes to find the piece of audio I needed, confirm what the guy had said, and get started on my story. I finished about 8, then called the city again. I finally got through to the planning supervisor, who confirmed my suspicions about what had happened, and gave me a little more to work with. Yay! Another story frantically written.

We also had a little problem with the official weather observer. We get the previous day's high and low from a website the weather observer updates. Wednesday morning he forgot to enter the numbers. Fortunately, he owns a local floral shop and when I called the shop he knew exactly what I needed and apologized. He told me the numbers, which he'd checked, just not put into the NOAA website. We broke the record again, by two degrees.


Despite the stress, I actually finished everything up by 8:53, so it worked. It was just really stressful. Add in an unpleasant odor in the office, cleaning fluid and ink, that persisted all morning, and it was at times physically difficult as well. The press is getting dismantled and cleaned, and the smell of it reaches into all the offices.

At 9 a.m., I left to go get a photo. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get it, but I figured I would make the effort. There's a local church that hosts a youth program in the evenings, and I needed to get a photo of the location, preferably with people. I got there and the church's homeless program was open instead. I ended up getting an extra photo of a worker putting donations into packets to give homeless folks. They suggested I come back at 4 p.m. to get some photos of kids. I had a nice bottle of water and chatted a little before heading back. By the time I got back, I no longer felt sick from the earlier odor, and while it was still there when I got to my office, it wasn't quite as bad as first thing in the morning.

I started work on Thursday's stuff, getting as much done as possible, and more done than I rightly expected to get. Then I had a noon appointment to go to. I was going to Grandview Rotary, and their guest speaker was a personal injury lawyer who has lots of ads that run on local television.

The Heavy Hitter

I'd never been to Grandview Rotary, nor to the restaurant they were meeting at, so it was a little adventure for me. I got there about 5 minutes early, couldn't find parking, so I swung around to take another look and found a good spot on the second pass. Once in the building, I was greeted by a person who I had talked with during my reports on people filing to run for offices in the fall election. I also recognized another Rotarian who sometimes goes to the Sunnyside meetings.

I didn't expect to get fed, but when the club president came in she insisted I get a meal. It was a French dip. The sauce was REALLY salty (but then, I no longer add salt to much of my food, since the processed stuff I eat has more than enough). The lawyer showed up, I was quickly introduced to him... seemed like a nice guy. The reporter from the Grandview weekly showed up and sat near me. We've done a few of the same events.

After the usual Rotary starting stuff (including someone drawing the Queen of Hearts to win a couple hundred dollars) the speaker got up... and he was good. He was really interesting, talked almost too fast for me to take notes and had some great stories. He was extremely personable, and I found it interesting to see how the folks in the room reacted to him. He grew up in Grandview and had greeted a lot of the Rotarians by name when he entered. He also chipped in $100 to sponsor a hole on the club's disc golf tournament.

It was one of those meetings that, when I left, I felt a little better than when I'd gone in.


Instead of stopping at home on the way back, which I usually do, I just went straight back to work to get started on the story. Annoyingly, I kept getting interrupted. It was like a sitcom, every time I sat down to start working on the story, somebody called, walked into my office or yelled from across the building at me. I had two pieces for Friday I wanted to get done on Wednesday, so I'd have more driving time on Thursday, but it just wasn't destined to be. Instead, I put out a number of "fires" as they popped up, then finally got my story done about the time I needed to head back out to the local church to get photos of kids playing. Whew.

I got to the location and there were a couple of toddlers, but no kids of the age I wanted. I talked with the organizers a bit and realized it was the last day of school. It was distinctly possible that nobody would show up. I waited and chatted, then the kids started to arrive. I played table soccer (foosball) with one kid, giving him tips on how to angle-shoot. I insisted that we not keep score, because I would have whipped his butt. Every time I got the ball into the goal he'd say, "How did you do that?!" and I'd show him the tricks I picked up playing it in college.

I finally had enough kids around to get my shot, and then I noticed a boy sitting on one of the couches, crying. I went over to him and asked what was wrong. Well, he was done with elementary school and moving up to middle school, and was sad because he was going to miss his favorite teacher. I chatted with him about my experiences in a larger town, and how he was going to be able to see his teacher at various events. I asked him what he planned to do in the future. He said he's going to be a football star. I told him I would be watching when he got to the high school, and I also said his favorite teacher would definitely show up to watch him play if he sent an invite. The kid cheered up a bit. I hope I helped.

Squeaky Clean Cat

I then headed home to a very angry cat, who hadn't had his most recent kibbling on time. He wasn't nearly angry enough. After I got a few things done, including laundry for the trip, I decided that Inkwell definitely needed a bath before traveling over the mountains. But I had to be cunning in how I played it, because he's pretty savvy to my tricks. I used his addiction to catgrass to catch him in the bathroom, then got him into the shower with some difficulty. Usually, Eric helps when I bathe the cat, but this time I managed it alone. Inkwell glared at me, gave deep-throated mournful meowls, and pouted when I finally got him patted dry and out, but he sure smelled a LOT better when it was done.

I woke up Thursday morning to a gigantic hairball left in my usual morning path. I think it was an editorial on the bath. I cleaned it up and Inkwell forgave me, mostly, once I fed him. He was definitely looking more spritely and sleek, so I don't regret the washing. He always seems a little happier after a bath, I think it really helps him. But he's still terrified of it.

I didn't have nearly enough morning to get everything done at home I wanted to do. Once at work, it was one of those hurry up and wait mornings. Once again, I'd been so good about getting stuff done ahead of time that I had to wait until information became available to get anything done in the morning. Eventually my police logs came in and I could write, but it was frustrating. I also started on a couple of other pieces for Friday while I was waiting.

Even with the waiting, we had the paper done and laid out by 10 a.m. There were some last-minute tweaks, as always, but it got out.

I finished my two remaining assignments for Friday's paper, turned them in, then headed home for a quick lunch with some packing. Inkwell began to get suspicious, but hadn't yet figured out he was going to take a trip. I managed to jump in on the Twitch session, where everyone was talking about Anglicon, but I had to get back to work, so I didn't stay long.

Once back at work it was just a matter of getting corrections done and I was outta there. I told the editor I was leaving, and he turned to me, perfectly serious, and said, "No, you have to stay until 3:30 p.m. That's the rule." I said, "Ok, boss." and he laughed and said, "Get out of here. And drive safely."

To Seattle!

Once home I grabbed the gas card and rushed back out to fill my tank, then back again. Inkwell was really suspicious now. He watched as I took stuff out to the car, then decided that hiding was his best bet and vanished completely. By the time I got the cat carrier out and ready, he was gone. I grabbed the bottle of kitty treats and shook it. Nothing. I opened the bottle and dropped a couple into my hand, then walked around shaking the bottle. A nose nudged my ankle, and I turned around and awarded him with the treats. Then I showed him the bottle and poured another treat into my hand. He waited patiently. I gave him the treat then picked him up. He realized what was happening and started to struggle but... too late! I had him securely. He struggled more as we reached his carrier and letting him go was a bit of an adventure, but he landed safely in the carrier and I snapped the lid shut. Whew.

He meowed the most piteous meows on the way to the car. He was shocked into silence by the heat when we went into the garage. He meowed as I secured his carrier. He meowed as I put the towels over it. He meowed when I started the car and backed out of the driveway. And soon I was driving hundreds of meows an hour down the freeway toward Seattle.

I made really good time right up until I got to Issaquah, then the famous Seattle traffic came into play and I spent 30 minutes going a few miles to my folks' place. Ug. It was all good, I guess. I had dinner with my family and hit the hay after chatting. Lots to do on Friday.


After dealing with some family stuff on Thursday, it was time for Anglicon on Friday. For anyone who doesn't know, my husband was instrumental in the regeneration of Anglicon, which was a long running con until it sort of died out in 2004, partly from lack of interest. With the revival of Doctor Who and the incredible crowds in Seattle at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the show, my husband suggested bringing the con back, then wrote about the idea on Facebook. That was part of the impetus that led to the regeneration, according to the chair of this year's con, Shawn Marier.

Anyway, Eric, my sister Lisa and I all got to the con nice and early so Eric could set up. Lisa and I were both volunteering, and were wrangling guests. So we waited around until it was time to wrangle, then did our jobs. But that's something that really needs its own entry, so I'll post this now and tell you all about the con in the near future...