Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Week in Review

Mornings and Cat Barf

The last remnants of my cold petered out over the weekend, leaving me tired on Monday, but not so tired I couldn't function. I actually felt better than I had for awhile, even though I wanted another day off.

Monday morning wasn't too bad, despite having to write up volleyball and the leadership forum before deadline. I did not meet deadline, one of the few times I can say that, but I was really close.

I spent the rest of the morning getting stuff done for later in the week and setting up appointments. I had a relaxed afternoon with the cat, then headed to the council meeting Monday night. It was a longer meeting, 2 1/2 hours, and I was exhausted by the end of it. I really just wanted to go home and sleep... so I did.

I had a difficult time waking up Tuesday morning, but Inkwell helped by meowling. I had left one of his mugs of grass on the counter in the bathroom, and after I got going, he noticed it while I wasn't paying attention and gorged himself sick. Literally. He threw up in front of Eric's door.

What a lovely start to the day!

All Tuesday morning I was convinced it was Wednesday morning, and kept starting to put my files into the Wednesday folder. I caught myself every time, fortunately, but it was distracting.


Tuesday afternoon I had to head out to the local pot store for an interview. I also was trying to find photos for my Thursday photo page, which had originally been planned for an event a co-worker was going to attend... but she got sick and her car broke down, so I had to improvise. I decided first to try an "autumn" theme, but by Wednesday it was clear that wasn't going to work... however, I'm getting ahead of myself. On Tuesday, I went to get some autumn-y photos and visit the pot store.

I also got my new lenses for my glasses and learned I was going to have to submit the paperwork to the insurance myself. To put it lightly, I was annoyed. But there's not a lot I can do to get insurance companies and optical centers to work together if they don't want to.

At the pot shop, the interview subject was out on the "front porch" making glass pipes. Which was why I was there. So I asked if it would be ok if I took a bunch of photos of him working. He was *ahem* cool with it, and I started snapping away. I think I took more than 200 photos in the 20 minutes or so it took for him to shape and blow the new pipe. Then I sat down with him for a quick interview.

After the interview, I headed up the road and got a couple of photos that were somewhat boring, but would work in a pinch for a photo page. I didn't like it much, but I couldn't think of anything else to do.

After I got back to the office, I wrote up the glassblowing story and another story which I thought was due for Wednesday, but was actually supposed to run on Thursday. I just kept getting ahead of myself. I finally went home and mostly rested, except for the fact that I knew the volleyball coach was going to call.

He ended up calling just before 10 p.m., about the time I'd given up and was getting ready for bed. The team had won, which was nice, and so I got to write up a happy story about them on Wednesday morning.


I didn't have a heavy deadline on Wednesday, and I got through most of the stuff quickly enough. The biggest shock of the morning came when I went to check the County Sheriff's media log. It was gone. In fact, the entire website for the sheriff was gone. The county had done a complete rehaul of the entire website for every county department, all at once. Luckily, the new website was easy to navigate, and I found where the log was supposed to be posted without difficulty, but there was no new log.

I called up the records department of the sheriff's office, and they were surprised to learn it hadn't posted. In the end, it wasn't posted until after we were done with our deadline. My editor shook his head and said that's what happens when you mess with technology.

After deadline I showed the editor the "autumn" photos, and his opinion on them pretty much matched my own. But since we had nothing else, he said to get a few more and we would *sigh* go with it. I had a notion that if I went down to a local organic farm, I would get some really good photos, so once we had the paper ready to send to the printer, I drove down that way.

The farm was busy packing and prepping, with a bunch of spaghetti squash getting ready to ship to the Seattle area and bouquets of basil and other herbs getting ready for local community supported agriculture recipients. When I saw the sight, I suddenly thought why don't I just do a photo page about the farm? It was so obvious that I'd never considered it. So when Merritt, the owner, stepped out to greet me I just told her the whole tale of my missing photo page. She was delighted to help me, and I took a few minutes to meet her latest interns (well, one of the two) and then went around taking photos of the farm.

In the process, I got a lovely tomato fresh off the vine, a freshly dug carrot and a squash that I was told is "heaven on a plate" when properly grilled in the oven. I also got a half-dozen eggs. Going to an organic farm before lunch is not the smartest move ever.

After lunch I got back to the office and put together a hopefully nice photo page of the organic farm. The editor was MUCH happier with it than with my previous idea. Once it was done, I had a few other things to work on, but no stressful deadlines hovering over me for once.

Late Nights

I had a volleyball game Wednesday night to attend, but I had to stick around in the office. The new hours mean that I'm at work at 6:30 in the morning, but then I'm also at work at 7 p.m. at night in another town. It's essentially a split shift, but there's no way around it. I hate it with a passion. The editor tries to keep it down to just two or three nights a week, but even that is often too much. I feel stretched. Oddly, when I was getting to work at 8 a.m. it wasn't nearly the stress-inducer. But for some reason that extra hour and a half in the morning is killing me.

Wednesday night I headed south to the all game the next town over. I'd promised the coach I would attend the whole game and chat with him after. Taking photos wasn't too bad... I had to spend some time setting up my camera to try to get the right speed, so I took a bunch of photos of the warm-ups to try to get it set right. I finally found a setting I was happy with about the time the pre-game introductions and rituals were starting. Then a home team player served the ball and I was the roaming reporter, trying for a great shot.

Shooting Volleyballs

My volleyball strategy is fairly simple. I start with a couple of shots of serves, since they are the easiest "action" shot to get. In general, we don't want to print serve photos, because in general they are somewhat boring compared to other action shots. But there are times when not one action shot comes out, so I start by getting the "sure thing" so we have something to fall back on.

Next, I try for a dig. The girls are fairly stable and still when they are down near the ground with both arms out, bumping the ball into the air. The trick is catching them with the ball close enough to make a cool image. I have a ton of shots where the ball is just out of shot, or too far up to look right. The timing is the hard part, and it always takes a few minutes to remember how to anticipate the actual action. It gets easier the more you do it, but that doesn't mean you'll get a good shot.

After the digs, I go for the spikes. Unfortunately, true spikes aren't all that common at the level of game I'm shooting, but if you can get a girl in the air with the ball close to her arm, it can be a very nice shot. They are hard to get because of the angles and where I'm allowed to stand to get photos, but I had an easier time of it Wednesday night because the bleachers on the team side weren't pulled out, allowing me a lot of space to roam behind the teams.

The next shot I try to get is of the girls blocking at the net. For that I have to go to the "enemy" side of the court and shoot back at the players. Sometimes it works: usually it does not. However, a really good blocking shot can make up for a lot of failure, so I always try it.

I also tend to go up into the stands with the crowd and try to get some shots from different angles. Sometimes the shots work, most of the time they don't. The goal is to get something interesting that tells its own story.

All during this time I'm also waiting for any opportunities to take coach photos. While the coach isn't the focus, a good "huddle" photo or a picture of the coach yelling or clapping or cheering is always a fun little bonus on the side. I missed a great one Wednesday night, as the coach was pointing and did a strange maneuver with his hands that made him look, for half an instant, like a disco dancer. It would have been hilarious, but I had the camera pointed at the girls and not the coach right then. Oh well. I'm sure he's just as happy I didn't catch that moment.

At Wednesday night's game I had plenty of time to practice. The opening set was tight, with the score going back and forth for the entire game. It was really a thrill, with no team taking a clear advantage. When the home team pulled it out, 26-24, I was thrilled and amazed. And a little worried, since it had been a LONG set, and I figured if the teams were matched up so well, I was going to get home really late. There were a lot of volleys that went on for a long time, and overall it was just a really good set to open the match... fortunately, the other two sets weren't nearly as heart-stopping, nor as long, with the home team taking control and finally winning the whole enchilada.

A fun bit was that the boys who were in the audience figured out how best to cheer for the volleyball, and I believe their enthusiasm actually helped propel their team to victory. At first, they were counting the hits, 1-2-3, but then they realized they could use the school's initials, M-H-S and have the same effect. So by the middle of the second set, they were yelling along with each hit: "M!" "H!" "S!" and the girls picked up on the enthusiasm. And I think the other team felt a bit intimidated, because their JV team (which had just played) started trying to use their school's initials to counter, but WHS doesn't work as well. I was actually able to listen to the action while checking through photos and follow the game pretty well thanks to the chanting and counter-chanting. The local boys also decided to say "BOOM!" at each serve, which worked surprisingly well. One girl went on a massive serving streak and when she finally got substituted out a bit later, I could see she'd been pumped up by her success and the cheering.


The game lasted roughly an hour and a half, and I headed home. I was still a bit bouncy from the energy of the game, but once I was home I sort of deflated. I was asleep almost as soon as I got into bed. I usually wake up when Eric comes to bed, but Wednesday night I slept soundly through until my Thursday morning alarm. Which came to me in the middle of a dream about making important edits to a newspaper page. I had to make those fixes, so it took me longer than usual to actually wake up. Even when I was awake, the sense of anxiety remained for an hour or so. It wasn't actually a nightmare, but in some ways it felt like it.

I had a good handle on the morning's work on Thursday, which was good, because I felt absolutely drained. Two late nights with one left to go, and I just was running out of juice. After deadline I had an interview with the new school PR person, and I went with some trepidation. I'd really liked the previous person in the role, but I hoped the new person would be good. Well, I don't know how well she'll do her job, but as a person I really enjoyed our chat. We went over the usual "what's your background" stuff, and eventually I asked about hobbies. She's a reader. A voracious reader. Who rereads favorite books and reads fast. She gave me some suggestions and I gave her a couple back and I think we're officially friends now. I can hardly wait to read the books she suggested.

I was pretty happy with my interview and went to lunch (where I immediately put all three books she'd mentioned on hold at the library). It wasn't until I was done with lunch and back at the office I realized I'd completely forgotten to get her photo. Whoops.

I called, she was still in, I drove down and got a good picture - but man I felt stupid.

As I got back to the office and parked, I noticed a car stopped at the stoplight, three cars back. Well, he would have been three cars back, except the other two were already through the now-green light. I watched for a moment, wondering how long it would take the guy to notice. He seemed to be looking in the passenger seat at something. Finally a pick-up truck came up behind him and honked, and he went through the light with a screeching of wheels. I wonder how long he would have sat there if not for the truck?

Getting a Break

Back at the office, the editor called me in to talk about Thursday night's assignment. It was a community forum that, honestly, I was really not looking forward to at all. I was resigned to the fate of sitting on extremely uncomfortable chairs for two hours listening to people talking to parents about the dangers of drug use and abuse. I am certain I would have found something vaguely interesting to write about - but Bob the editor had other plans. He'd decided my time would be better spent helping a co-worker with a tough story, so he told me to get on the phone with my contacts and to skip the meeting entirely.

To say it was a pick-me-up is not adequate. Yeah, I was going to be doing some difficult research, talking to people who'd probably not want to talk with me, but I wouldn't have a two-hour meeting Thursday night. I checked with my co-worker, who wanted me to talk to the county sheriff about the tough story, so I called up my contacts and got that rolling. To my vast surprise and delight, the detective in charge of the case got back to me almost immediately and gave me pretty much all the information I needed. I called the prosecutor's office to get any further details, and that was that for Thursday. I wrote everything up for my co-worker to work on in the morning and headed home.

A relaxing evening with hubby and the cat was just what the doctor ordered. I actually napped for a couple of hours before a leisurely dinner while watching tv with Eric. I got to bed early and slept soundly, waking up a half hour before my alarm - fully refreshed. Inkwell was extremely confused to see me moving around before the alarm, and after about 15 minutes decided that, since both his humans were up, it was time to start screaming for breakfast. He yowled non-stop until the alarm went off and startled him.

End of the Week

Friday morning at work was interesting. The editor took two days, Friday and next Monday, off. So the reporters were on our own as far as editing. I had the least writing to do, I think, so I spent a lot of time copy-editing, then ended up writing most of the tough story, since I was the only one who got anyone to call back on the problem. We got it almost entirely done by deadline, missing it on the final police log by only a few seconds thanks to a printer that needed a new cartridge. But we were done quickly enough to give the production crew time to get the entire paper laid out and ready to send.

I then started to try to get an interview that I've been trying to get all week. The guy hasn't called back, so I finally decided to see if I could catch him at home. I know he lives in the senior housing, so I went to the senior center where everyone was having lunch and asked which unit he lived in. One of the folks gave me directions, and I headed out there. I could see a bit inside, enough to see his TV was on and I thought he was sitting there. I knocked, loudly. Nothing. I thought I saw movement inside, so I waited. Nothing. I knocked again. Nothing. After standing there like an idiot for a few more minutes I knocked a third time. Nothing. I gave up and headed home to lunch, where I stewed for a bit, trying to figure out what to do next. Back at work, I tried calling several people to see if I could get any response from my interview subject, but it became increasingly clear he wasn't going to talk to me. I don't like giving up, but in this case I just couldn't deal with it, so as soon as I knew it wasn't going to happen, I headed home... only, I hadn't quite given up. I stopped by the senior center again to see if he was around (nope) before I finally went home and grumbled at the cat about people avoiding me.

Friday night, last night, was moderately calm and quiet. Eric is off in Portland at Rose City Comic Con to promote Oz Con International 2016, which will be held in Portland. Early this morning Inkwell woke me by tapping his paw, with claws lightly extended, repeatedly on my face while meowing loudly. Surprisingly, he woke me only a few minutes before his usual feeding time. After I fed him and came upstairs to 'net, he attacked my feet, so I shut him out of the bedroom while I'm playing online.

New Doctor Who tonight, which I'm excited to see... before then I have a soccer game to take photos at, and I'll probably swing by the senior center once more before going home. It should be a nice quiet day, if everything goes to plan. Perhaps I'll get some serious reading done.


Elayne said...

Love the weeks in review. Great look into the "days in the life" of a regional newspaper reporter/photographer. Keep 'em coming!