Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Week in Review

Independence Day

The day was hot work for me, starting with a traditional pancake breakfast at a friend and co-worker's house. I then walked a block and a half to the city's veteran's memorial for the city's inaugural Fourth of July 5K. I was there to take photos of the start at 10 a.m. It was already about 80F when the run started. It was actually painful to be out in the direct sunlight, and all I wanted to do was go home and rest. I got a few decent shots of the activities at the start and the start of the run itself. I also managed to get the first three runners coming in, drenched in sweat. The number three runner, a local high school student, looked horrible coming in... he later told me he felt like he was going to throw up. It was about 11 a.m. when I finished, and topping 90F. After I got my shots, I headed back home to cool off. It actually took some time before I was back at a normal temperature, which was fine, since my next job wasn't until 7 p.m.

I rested pretty well, read some Hugo works, played with the cat, and generally had a good time. Then my co-worker, who was covering the parade, called to let me know the food eating contests had been delayed due to the heat. He said no one was at the event, and he was going home to rest. I was slightly annoyed by the fact that I would be taking extra photos, but there wasn't a thing he could do about it, so I continued to rest until it was time to go back out into the heat. It was still over 100F when I got to the high school football field, where the evening events were scheduled. The food eating contests still didn't have enough people, so they delayed them another hour until 8 p.m. I took a handful of photos but generally just tried to stay out of the sunlight and find places where it was slightly cooler.

The food contests were as amusing as such things generally are. I got the names of the winners and photos of the contests. It was still too hot to be out, but I survived. My water ran out about the time the sun set. The temperature started to drop in the twilight... not enough to make a huge difference at first, but slowly it got to be tolerable as I got photos of the honor guard and the Mayor giving a speech.

Then it was fireworks time. I had looked online for advice on how to get the best shots of fireworks. I was a bit nervous, since I hadn't tried this before, but I followed the set up instructions and got the camera to a point where I could use my tripod, point the camera at the darkened sky, and get a clear shot of the scattered clouds. I figured that meant I could get the fireworks. So I waited. And waited. It was almost an hour of waiting before the fireworks actually started, with tons of people arriving for the show now that the temperatures were within survivable range. I read a book on my Kindle app on my phone, wishing I'd put the Hugo nominees on it. Then the show started.

I took my first shot, an 8 second exposure, and then quickly checked. I had a firework photo! I started to take photo after photo, stopping to take a couple of videos as well. I changed the exposure time to 4 seconds, then to 6, just to see what sort of difference it would make. I had to adjust the camera up and down on the tripod to get the shots, as some explosions were low while others were nearly overhead. My photos really looked like they were coming out good. I was greatly relieved, and slowly started to enjoy myself. Yeah, I was sitting on a football field in the dark, all alone, using my camera to try to take photos of one of the most transient of entertainments, but I was doing ok. I did not get a good shot of the finale, much to my disgust. I had the camera aimed just a little high and missed the majority of it.

Once it was over, I had a slow walk back to my car, then a slow drive home past all the police cars out enforcing the local fireworks ban. With a high fire danger, the cops were not being merciful to anyone shooting off anything. Fireworks are banned both in the city and in the county, and in most neighboring cities, as well. I'm fine with that, as I'm not a big fireworks fan anyway.

At home I slept solidly well into the morning. If Inkwell demanded that I get up, I sure didn't hear it. I woke up late and feeling mildly refreshed, although I still hurt from a bit of sunburn and exhaustion. I also felt a little nauseous from overexertion in the heat. I hobbled around the house getting stuff done, but didn't actually accomplish all that much. Just some reading and writing. It was an extremely calm Sunday.

Weekday Blues

I meant to wander over to the office on Sunday and get my photos in, but I didn't and so I ended up feeling rushed Monday morning when I got my photos from the weekend in. Adding to the stress was the fact that I had to be in the next town over right after deadline to take photos for a planned photo page. And the editor was gone... he started his two week vacation... so we had/have a substitute editor.

In any case, I somehow got through deadline, although I was befuddled and sick the entire time. I then hopped in my car to head to my photo shoot. While waiting at a light, my car started to shudder a bit, like it wanted to shut off. I was nervous, but it stayed on, so I just got to the gym.

The coach was incredible. It was a basketball camp, and he was teaching the kids "intense fundamentals," and that was an extremely descriptive term. When I came in they were learning how to keep dribbling the ball while on their stomachs, and how to get up from that position and continue dribbling the entire time. He had them wearing "dribble goggles" that cuts off their vision below a certain point, forcing them to learn how to use their hands to "see" the ball. Every exercise I recognized how it would help in a game and was amazed at the clever ways to practice the skills. I was very impressed.

The coach also recommended we do a story some time on the assistant coach. He came from a single-parent home and, while he was an excellent basketball player, he wasn't much of a student in high school. But the coach told him he couldn't play basketball until he got his grades up. So the kid did, and now is in college.

After the camp, I headed home for lunch then returned to work. But I was feeling horrible. I struggled to write the few things I needed to get done, and went home and pretty much collapsed. Eric took care of me and made sure I ate, but I was exhausted and sick and wanted very badly to call in on Tuesday.

But I didn't. I got up with difficulty and managed to get to work. I felt better in the mornings, so I was able to get through deadline. But as soon as they day moved over into the afternoon I would start to feel worse and worse. I am pretty sure it was heat-related, because every time I went outside or had to go somewhere in my car, I felt even worse.

Because I was so sick on Tuesday, and because it appeared to be heat-related, co-workers urged me to go across the street to the grocery store and get some Gatorade and bananas. I did so, and the Gatorade actually helped. I went to the irrigation meeting feeling almost human.

The irrigation meeting was a lot of talk... I took notes and listened and understood a good portion of the discussion, but not all of it. When I left the meeting I headed to the community center to get photos from a youth sports camp for a photo page. I spent quite a bit of time there, then headed home for lunch. My car was making odd noises.

I went back to lunch but still felt awful. I decided I needed to get more Gatorade, so once I was done I popped over to the store in my car and got a few bottles. Unfortunately, they were already out of Fierce Melon, which is the only flavor I actually like. I was pulling out of the parking space when my car died. It took me two tries to start it, then I was able to drive home, but I was extremely stressed.

I had a baseball game to take photos at that afternoon. I went ahead and called the shop to ask when I could drop off my car. We arranged for Eric to take the car in on Wednesday morning, then I took Eric's car to the game. I was dying from the heat when I finished getting my photo, and headed home weary and upset.

Driving my hubby's car

We are very fortunate to have two cars. With mine out of commission, I was able to use Eric's car to go to work in the morning. Once again I'd failed to get everything I needed to get done finished, so on Wednesday morning I was playing a tough game of catch-up. Then, in the middle of deadline, I had to rush off to the Daybreak Rotary club's meeting. Their guest speaker was excellent. He's a specialist in human resources and teaches leadership. I really enjoyed his speech and was feeling pumped when I left the meeting.

Back to the dull reality of work, I had to scramble to get everything together for the deadline. Fortunately, I had another morning appointment which got me out of the office before I got more depressed. This time I popped over to the library to talk with one of the librarians about how the system has changed in the 28 years she's worked there.

The library has a special shelf they call the "Lucky Day" shelf. They put special copies of movies and books that are in high demand on the shelf, regardless of any holds on the items. It makes people come to the library to check out the shelf. I glanced at the shelf and saw a copy of "Live, Die, Repeat" which is on the Hugo ballot as "Edge of Tomorrow". I snagged it because it's better to get the library's copy than to pay for Netflix or Redbox, right?

The interview went very well, and as we were talking I got a sense of how I wanted to write the piece, which is going to be a nice feature story. I actually had it pulled together before I was done with the interview, and I hope it turns out as great in writing as it is in my head.

Eric texted while I was in the meeting to let me know that they didn't have enough people to go over my car on Wednesday, so he hoped I could come and pick him up. After the interview I called him and then headed down to get him. He suggested going out to lunch together, and I was fine with that, so we headed to the local Dairy Queen and had a nice lunch together.

I was still mostly useless in the afternoon, but I got more done on Wednesday afternoon than I had on Monday or Tuesday. That night Eric and I watched the movie together and were both impressed. It was far better than I expected it would be.

Public Officials

Thursday morning was my best morning yet. There was a press release from the sheriff's office of a search and rescue event caused by an accident that involved a girl in our coverage area. She was jumping in a lake and injured her spine. I tried to get an update on her condition, but had no luck. Of interest in the release was the fact that the county sheriff himself was the one who found the victim.

I got through with deadline in plenty of time to head out to Union Gap for the opening of a new 9-1-1 and emergency medical services center. I started out a little early because I wasn't completely sure it was where I thought it was, so I got there about 10 minutes early. That was enough time to talk to some of the employees, who have been there for a month or so. This event was the official opening and open house.

There were some speeches outside in the hot sun, then everyone went inside for tours. It's a great space, made for crucial work that helps everyone in the county. I really had a good time talking to the very enthusiastic employees and getting lots of photos.

I also managed to get some words in with the sheriff about the search and rescue. He was a little embarrassed, but said that, yes, he was the one who found the accident scene. The directions the first responders were given weren't clear, and they went the wrong way. The sheriff, who knows the area, had a gut feeling based on his experiences there and went the other direction and found the scene. He also told me the girl is "OK" which was more than I am likely to get from the hospital, since the privacy rules are strict. I was glad to hear she wasn't paralyzed.

When I headed home, I felt very tired. The 40-minute drive back was horrible. I kept nodding off. I'm not sure if it was the smoke in the air from the BC fires, or just my general heat exhaustion, but I barely got home. Once home, I fell onto the couch and was asleep in moments.

The cat woke me up an hour or so later. I felt a lot better and headed back to work. I started going through my photos from the event in Union Gap and was delighted to discover a photo of the city manager's dog trying to lick a cold cut off the buffet table while the city manager and other officials were cutting the cake. After showing it around the office, we decided to include it in the photo page for Friday.

Thursday night Inkwell got a bath, since we had people coming for the weekend. He acted very upset at first, then resigned, then he seemed pleased with his clean fur. Sometimes I don't get him at all.


Friday morning I felt better than I had all week. I got through deadline in good time, only having to run out and get one photo I'd forgotten. After deadline I headed to the library to get some photos, and checked the "Lucky Day" shelf for Interstellar, the last long-form Hugo nominee I need to watch. They didn't have it, but I checked at the front desk to see if it had been turned in but not checked it... sure enough! It was, again, my lucky day. Now I have to find the time to watch it (checkout is seven days).

After lunch it was frustration after frustration. First, Eric and I went to get my car, but when I drove off it died again at the first major intersection. So we turned around and brought it back. Then, after I got back to town, I had to wait for an interview for nearly 45 minutes in a room that barely had air conditioning. I was not in any shape to work when I got back to the office and left quickly.

Eric and I had visitors coming, and had moved some furniture upstairs. We continued the trend on Friday, moving stuff around to make the most comfortable seating for our Doctor Who fan guests. Inkwell was really upset. We were changing his house around without his permission! He meowed at us to stop and batted at feet and hands when we moved stuff. Finally he gave up and just watched us, glaring.

When the first guests arrived Friday night, Inkwell raced upstairs and hid under my chair. I had to drag him out to say hello to people, and he did NOT appreciate it.

In any case, it's late on Saturday now. Inkwell is still being shy about the guests, hiding behind the couch for awhile and spending most of his time hiding upstairs. I have rested, watched some Doctor Who and other stuff, and kept reading for the Hugo awards. I have made my decision for the Campbell award and I'm close to a decision for Editor, Short Form.