Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Week in Review

Ranch Sorting

Right after finishing up my week in review last Saturday, I headed out to the Sort-4-the-Cause event I was covering. This is an annual ranch sorting contest held literally two blocks from where I live at a small local arena. Being from the wetside, I didn't know about small local arenas until I came out here.

There are quite a few of them, although fewer now than years ago. Arenas generally have a announcer's stand, various pens to hold cows or other animals, a main area and sometimes stands for people. More likely, there is a fence and people back up their pick-ups to the fence, drop the gate and sit in the back with a beer, watching the fun.

I arrived at about 5 p.m. in the humid heat. I tried to stay out of the sun, because that drains me so fast I hardly can function. As it was, I got tired much too quickly. I was there to get photos of the live auction and then the sorting event. But the auction started a little late and went on a little long.

Even the horses were unhappy with the time they were waiting. I saw a horse tied to a trailer, pawing at the ground and looking generally very agitated. It had a shade across its eyes so it couldn't see much. There was another horse tied near it, and as the first horse swung around on the rope it bumped up against the back of the other horse. To my surprise and horror, the first horse kicked out with both rear legs, slamming the leg of the other horse. Several folks saw it and gasped, and someone went to find an owner. The second horse didn't appear too injured, but it had a look like "what did I do?" I have seen horses kick before, but never seen them make contact. There are many reasons to avoid the rear end of a horse... I witnessed a very important one on Saturday.

Hubby-Eric had ordered a pizza, and I asked him twice to delay it... only to learn the restaurant never got the first message. So the pizza arrived at 6:30 p.m. and, considering that the auction was still going, I headed home and ate. It was a small risk, but I was hungry and I knew they had to do the Calcutta auction before the sorting even started, so there was time. I got back to the arena as the Calcutta was finishing up... perfect timing.

Ranch sorting is a timed competitive event. A pair of riders is given a minute or so to take 10 calves, which have numbers on their backs, from one pen to another. The trick is that the calves have to be in order and the pair doesn't get the starting number until they enter the pen. It takes a little bit of talent, a lot of attention to detail and good riding skills to compete. I certainly know I would have fallen off the horse the first time I tried to get a calf to split from its herd. I actually enjoy watching it quite a bit... but the arena hasn't got the most comfortable seating...

In order to get good pictures of the sorting, I had to be close. In order to get close, there were two options. I don't have a pick-up truck, so that option was closed to me unless I borrowed somebody else's. Since they were all filled with people with beer, I decided to climb up an outside fence and sit on a fence post. It was a fairly large post, and I stayed up there for awhile getting my shots, but I was sure glad to come down and head home for the night.

I had to go back Sunday morning to get the names of the riders from the previous day. While I was waiting to talk with someone, I got up on the back of a pick-up, thanks to a nice guy who said I could, and took some video of a sorting run.

I was able to rest much of the rest of Sunday, including an epic nap that I hope caught me up on the sleep I've been deprived of, and then it was time for the regular workweek again.


Monday deadline wasn't too bad. It wasn't too good, but when you only have a photo page to get done it's not nasty. There was a difficult moment. My co-worker, out of the blue, said "Caitlyn Jenner can't celebrate Father's Day!" and I snarfed an M&M I'd been eating up my nose, then wrenched my neck trying to get it out. I don't know why I found that hilarious, but I did, and it hurt. (Hubby-Eric later said, when I told him about it, that she can't very well celebrate Mother's Day).

I was a little worried about the Tuesday assignment I needed to get done Monday, because the person who had promised me an email with all the information hadn't responded by 1 p.m. Just as I started to go into low-level panic mode, she sent the information. More than I was expecting, actually, and I was happily able to start in on the story, which is about Bank of America shutting down a couple of local branches.

With that story done, I headed home an hour early to cut time, since I had city council Monday night. Once home I learned I had received my Hugo Packet, so now I had to decide whether or not to read/watch all the Hugo nominees and vote, or if I was just going to nominate for next year. It took me maybe ten minutes to decide I was going to read as much as I could in the packet and vote on any category I felt I could legitimately judge. I started in on the short stories immediately, and glanced at a few other pieces as well.

I was hard to tear myself away from my newest obsession to go to council, but I did it. Council was surprisingly calm. Three members were absent, including the one who talks a little too much while often failing to add anything to the conversation. The result was a relatively quick meeting on most counts, only two hours. I can live with that. If every regular meeting were only that long, I'd be satisfied.

After I got home I started to read more of the Hugo nominees, and ended up to bed a little later than I had planned. Still, I accomplished a lot, including prepping a post with quick reviews of all five short story nominees. I also got through the fan artist works and made some preliminary judgments on those.


Inkwell decided to wake me up about a half an hour before the alarm on Tuesday, which was annoying. In retaliation I closed the bathroom door on him so he couldn't leave when I started my shower. He was annoyed. All was apparently forgiven when I gave him breakfast, as it often is.

Deadline on Tuesday was also quick and gentle. There wasn't a huge amount from the meeting to write about, but I filled out two stories and some brief pieces anyway. There was a hint of a much bigger story in one item, but we didn't get a lot of detail. Overall, there wasn't a lot for me to do, and I started on Wednesday's stuff as soon as I finished deadline. First up was the Word Nerd, which I decided had to be about Sort-4-the-Cause. I've been meaning to write a column about it since last year when I went, so the timing worked out. I also had a piece on blueberries that refused to write itself no matter how much I tried to coax it. It was one of those "I don't know where to start!" stories.

I headed home for lunch, play with the cat, say hello to Eric, then it was back for the afternoon. I had to get the blueberries story written, and it finally came together. Which was good, since it was mostly cut and paste, it just needed the opening.

I ditched work early because of night events, and went home again. More Hugo nominee stuff, yay! Then at 3 p.m. I had to get two cavities filled at the dentist, yikes. I don't mind going to the dentist, but I hate the numbness after that makes it hard to drink until it wears off. As my teeth were being drilled I pondered whether I'd rather have my teeth worked on or read that really bad short story in the Hugo packet and decided the drilling was more comfortable because at least I was numb.

After the dental appointment I was happy to see that I had a full ten minutes to spare before I had to be at the baseball game to take a photo. I leisurely drove up to the school, marveling at how numb my jaw was, and then took my time getting out of my car and walking to the field. As it was, the home team only had 8 players, but took the field anyway. The visitors provided a right fielder, which was nice of them. I got a couple of ok images, and headed home pleased with my afternoon work.

With another hour and change before my last night event, I continued to read Hugo nominees. Then I went out to a concert in one of the city parks to take a couple of photos. The group is a bluegrass band and it was a fun event that was well-attended even before I arrived, and I got there ten minutes before the start of the concert. I roamed and circled to try to get two good shots, talking with some of the folks who were out enjoying the music. It was a pleasant event. I left a bit early, but only so I could have dinner with Eric.

That night Eric and I listened to the first Hugo fancast in the packet together. I am dismayed that two of the fancasts are almost two hours long, and another is about an hour. I picked the half hour one to listen to with Eric. The final one is about 12 minutes long. During the fancast I finished up my post on the fan artist nominees, and then hit the hay within my optimal bedtime range.


Wednesday was far easier than it had any right to be, with me finishing deadline an hour early and starting work on stuff for Friday, because I didn't have much for Thursday. The editor assigned a few last-minute cut-n-paste press releases to me for Thursday, but most of them were done before lunch. The other thing he asked the reporters to do was find a photograph for Thursday's paper that says "HOT!" as in, the weather is really too hot.

For lunch I headed back out to Cactus Juice because the special of the day was egg salad sandwich and I've been craving an egg salad sandwich. Once there, I learned the dessert of the day was "almond joy cake" and had to give it a try. It turned out to be a light spongy cake with a chocolate icing that tasted like a candy bar, but wasn't overpowering. It was so good I sank into food bliss.

Once back at the office, the editor told me to cut some hours. So I went home for a nap, then headed back out in the afternoon to get my "HOT" photo. Eric decided to tag along with me, and we went through downtown looking for children playing in sprinklers or something. Nothing. I finally decided to hit the ice cream shop, and there was a perfect family outside, resting in the shade of a truck, eating a variety of ice cream. I asked if I could take their photo for the paper, and they were cool with it. Mission accomplished, I dragged Eric into the ice cream shop and we had a cone each before heading home.

I continued to go through Hugo nominees once home, getting through another fancast since I had all evening (one of the two-hour ones) and starting in on the graphic novels after writing down thoughts on all the pro art. It was a nice relaxing evening... I even made a pizza with biscuit crust, and we settled down early enough for a good night's sleep.


Because I've been a little amiss in getting exercise lately, I decided to walk to work Thursday morning. As a reporter, I need my car. Eric was game to bring the car along and walk home, so I set out at about 6 a.m. and did the short walk (about 1 1/4 miles). It took me way longer than I expected, but I got to work in time because I allowed for being slow. Eric rolled up in the car right when I needed my bag from it, and it worked out perfectly.

Thursday was a fairly quick morning and then the editor suggested I cut some hours by going home except for my appointments. I was due to meet a group of Jesuits for lunch, then I had the school board meeting, which is always late in the evening. So I went home and started to relax.

I have asked the front desk at the newspaper to e-mail me my phone messages, since I check my work e-mail obsessively while at home. To my surprise, one of them texted me to alert me to a message from the Jesuits. Good thing she did. The Jesuits needed to delay the appointment. That meant I got to stay home with Eric for lunch, and it also meant I got to enjoy the Twitch stream live. I was happy. I had a really long and restful afternoon and then went to the school board meeting feeling mostly refreshed.

I expected a moderately long meeting based on the agenda and an embargoed piece we'd received. To my surprise, they kept the meeting to almost exactly an hour long, didn't discuss the embargoed story at all, and, in short, made my job really difficult because there just wasn't much to write about.


Friday morning was frustrating, partly because I learned I'd gotten another message and no one had emailed it to me, and partly due to the lack of stuff to write about. I wrote anyway. I got it done. At one point the editor asked me if I'd gotten the news, saying I must get pinged when the Supreme Court makes a decision. I told him I hadn't set anything like that up, and he told me about the marriage ruling. Because I live in a conservative area I've learned to shut down reactions to neat events like that when I'm around people who are conservative... but I didn't quite manage completely there. Almost. I think. The editor did seem a bit disappointed in my lack of response.

The editor wanted me gone because he thought I was over my hours, but I wasn't, so I stuck around. I also bought some tamales from a co-worker's dad. Eventually I took off to see the Jesuits, and had a good discussion with them. My biggest fear was looking stupid in front of them, but they were kind and didn't make me feel like an idiot, though I'm guessing they easily could have. Every one of them highly educated and completely dedicated to making the world a better place.

Ahem. Once home, that was it for the evening. I watched Game of Thrones for the Hugos then listened to a podcast. I read a bit and relaxed. Had tamales for dinner. Played with the cat. It was a nice evening.

This morning I have work to do. A couple of different events will be starting at the same time, then I've got an evening festival to attend. I hope I can manage to survive the heat, as it's supposed to get really hot today, up to 110F at the warmest, about the time I need to be at the festival. Wish me luck!