Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Week in Review

Yeah, I had an interesting Sunday.

Where There's Smoke, There's a Story

After Eric left on Saturday, Inkwell the cat and I just kind of rested. Inkwell was nervous, thinking I was going to take him somewhere. But I was good and left him alone. I stayed inside pretty much all day, resting and trying to flatten the fatigue.

Sunday morning I was lazy and slow. I was checking out Facebook when I noticed someone had posted a photo of a plume of smoke over town and asked where it was. Immediately I thought, "I'm a reporter, my job is to answer that sort of question!" and looked out my front window. Sure enough, I could see the plume. It looked like it was due north. I didn't bother getting into nice clothing, I just rushed out the door and followed the smoke.

Can I just say that traffic goes extremely slow when you are in a hurry? I mean, really really slow. As I got closer to the fire I kept thinking, "I hope it's just an ag fire, I hope it's just some farmer burning stuff" although I knew, from the dark color of the plume, that it was a house fire. Sure enough, I came into the clear and could see a grand old two-story home in flames. I turned down the road it was on and found a parking spot, then waved my camera at the officer who was telling me to leave, and got out and started taking photos.

It was a bright sunny day and I had the sun at my back and the fire at my front. I got uncomfortably hot very quickly, but decided to keep taking photos until I realized my car was blocking an easy exit for the fire trucks. I decided to move it... but I couldn't find another spot to park so I just went home.

After getting home I decided this was something we needed on the website NOW instead of waiting until Monday. I contacted the tech expert and, after a false start and some fiddling on my part, she got the photo posted. Then I spread the photo a little more via Facebook, including answering the original post that alerted me to the fire in the first place. Ah, social media and the news.

Inkwell made me stand still once I came back into the house and sniffed me thoroughly. He was very interested in my jacket, which had some ash on it. I got that "where on earth have you BEEN?" look from him, as well.

Hanford Hot Date

After that adventure, I was a little hyper for awhile. I knew I was going to go out again to take photos of the Super Harvest Blood Moon, so it was hard to get back down into a restful state. I ended up doing a little cleaning, and finally got dressed in normal outside clothes.

Eric got home in late in the morning, tired and happy to not have to leave town again for many weeks. Inkwell was thrilled to have him back as well, and did his "where on earth have you BEEN?" look at Eric, too.

After dinner, Eric and I headed out to view the Super Harvest Blood Moon. Eric said he knew a perfect spot up near Hanford, so we drove up north, over the hills and to the very gates of Hanford. We turned down the road and a couple of miles past the gates there was a wide shoulder off the freeway at which someone else was already parked, watching as the moon was slowly being eaten by shadow.

Once we'd parked, I got out and set up my camera and tripod, fiddling with it repeatedly to finally get a good shot. To my delight, the camera was actually able to focus on the moon itself. While it's not crystal clear, the image was considerably better than I expected it to be. I took a lot of photos. Maybe a quarter of them were blurry, but many of the rest were really quite good. I used the timer on the camera so I wouldn't be touching the camera when I took the picture, which leads to hand-shake blurs. No matter how steady you think your hands are, holding the camera for a long exposure will lead to blurs. Using the timer worked.

My co-worker put together a gallery of our moon photos, the first six are mine. The co-worker also put the best shots on Instagram, which made me happy.

After we drove back home, I told Eric it was an ideal nerd date: Going to Hanford to watch the lunar eclipse. Definitely our kind of a night.

Council Fun

Monday was less pleasant, as Mondays often are. With the transition to a new publisher really getting going in the office, everyone was feeling a tad confused. I had a bunch of photos from the Fair to get ready, along with the fire photo for the paper, a sports story, and the usual police logs. It somehow got done before deadline.

Monday afternoon was more relaxed, and I headed out a bit early to cut hours for the council meeting Monday night. It was a heavy agenda, and I was worried I'd have a long meeting. Fortunately, everyone presenting saw how long the meeting was and kept it short. It ended up being an average length of meeting, and I didn't go over my hours. Yay!

Unfortunately, despite being somewhat short, the council meeting was absolutely dense with information that needed to be reported. I barely had time to get through the council stuff in the morning, never mind my other areas that needed stories. I struggled through, and got some help from co-workers. There was just so much I wanted to make sure we mentioned.

After deadline Tuesday morning it was another one of those moderately relaxed mornings. The afternoon was going to be taken up with the open house for the publisher's retirement party and the introduction to the new publisher, so I worked ahead as much as possible.

ASB Follies

I also found a schedule conflict for the soccer game the next town over that I was taking photos at that night. On the school's website it said the game started at 6 p.m. On the league website it said the game would start at 4 p.m. I didn't want to miss the game, so I called the ASB office at the high school to find out when it actually started. I was assured the varsity game started at 6 p.m. Due to that, I made plans for dinner with Eric.

I stuck around the office for the first half-hour or so of the open house, chatting with customers and folks who stopped by to say farewell to the retiring publisher. Then I headed home, had a nice dinner out with Eric, and headed to my soccer game... which wasn't in the stadium, like I expected. Having run into this situation once before, I headed up to the "practice field". Only when I got there I didn't recognize any of the girls on the home team. I stopped a couple of boys carrying ice to the sidelines... the JV game was just starting. The varsity game had been held at 4 p.m.

I said a bad word.

Then I got very angry at the ASB office. I talked with the boys for a moment, learning that the reason they played the varsity game first was because of a lack of lights up on upper field, meaning that if it got dark before the end of the game, it would only be a JV game affected, not the main show. I then left before I caused a scene.

Since I had a volleyball game up next, I headed to that instead of fuming at the soccer field. I was still feeling heated when I got to the other high school and ran into the editor's wife, who works for the local high school. I vented. I was pretty upset, and I apparently attracted negative people that night because I ended up talking with several other folks about unrelated subjects that were mostly negative. It was a very unpleasant night. I stayed long enough to make sure I had two good shots at the game, then went home in an extremely grumpy mood.

Museum in a Box

I was still fuming the next morning. I got my photos into the production crew and headed out to the Daybreak Rotary meeting. Outside the building I ran into one of the members, who asked how I was. I told him the truth, and he said he hoped the Rotarians would cheer me up. I doubted they could... but I was wrong. The club had a "Burke Box" to show off, and there is something delightful about a bunch of local business and community leaders gleefully examining fossils together. In fact, I left the meeting feeling much more positive about life.

Deadline was tough, as it always is when you have an hour-long meeting right in the middle of it. I did not finish everything, although my co-workers did their best to help. We ended up with a single police log left off. Still, not bad.

Kinder Crying

My big morning assignment, after the Rotary meeting, was taking a student of the month photo at the local all-kindergarten elementary school. I got there about five minutes early, but expected it to take a long time. It was the first of the year, so I expected the kids to be unsure and wiggly and possibly upset because of the change in the routine they've gotten used to over the past month.

To my delight, when they called for the kids they asked for an adult to accompany the children. The result was a good number of adults there with the children to maintain order. I'm not entirely sure where all the adults were from, although I heard the words "parent volunteer" more than once. One of the administrators ruthlessly organized the children by height. I noticed one girl was close to tears, and worried about getting a happy shot.

The children were wrangled into four rows, and then it was my turn. I got their attention and explained the photo is for the newspaper, then told them the high school kids often have trouble all looking at the camera at the same time, could they all look at the camera at the same time? I got a ragged "yes!" from them, and told them I would be taking a bunch of photos so I could use the best. Then I snapped the first one while they were still trying to figure out what they were looking at, then told them to say "Cheese!" They said it. I said, "Say pizza!" they said it. I said "Say chocolate!" and some of them said it while others laughed. I got a total of seven photos, but in the last one I could see the girl had finally snapped and was crying, so I stopped and let the admins take over again.

They had the children give their names so we'd have the list, while I went over to the girl who was crying and showed her the photos. She calmed down quite a bit while I talked to her about how her parents would love the photo early on where she's smiling. She gulped and agreed, and I asked her what her name was. She answered in a whimper that I could not decipher, so I asked again, and that time I understood. I told her she would be fine and I would make sure I got her name right. Eventually we got through the line, with each of the kids getting their name taken.

Then I headed home for lunch with Inkwell the cat. I ate my lunch, set my plate down, and what seemed like a moment later Inkwell was jumping on me, trying to reach the plate. It woke me up from a fairly sound nap. Fortunately, I wasn't too late in getting back to the office. Once there, we had an impromptu reporter meeting, and then I just got through my afternoon stuff until my appointment at 2:30 p.m.

Feels Like Home

I live in a housing development that is relatively new. It's right next to a nifty arena that's surrounded by fields that are completely vacant. They have been left to go to grass, and the owner doesn't water them at all and only mows them because the county makes her. The area is surrounded by tall trees, including a lot of evergreens. And driving through that area on my way to the appointment at the owner of the arena's business, I felt like I was seven years old and living across the street from a mostly abandoned horse pasture, which I loved. It felt like home. And it's only a couple of blocks from where I live now.

Anyway. I did my interview, got some photos, got to pet the dog who was delighted to have a new human to scratch his head, then went home. It was a very short drive. I pulled into the garage, shut the garage door and started to take off my shoes when the garage door opened again. It was Eric getting home right after me.

After a quick consultation, we decided the trip to Costco was needed, and wrote up a list. Then we drove out to Yakima for the shopping trip. Personally, I haven't been to Costco for a long time, to the degree I can't even remember the last time I was in the store. So it was interesting for me. Eric, on the other hand, has been there fairly recently. But he also needed to get glasses, so we went to the optical center and went through their choices. Not a huge selection, but he found one we could both live with and put in his order. Then we did the rest of our shopping and had dinner there in the "food court" at Costco.

We got home just in time for Inkwell's dinner. I was exhausted and ready to kaput, but managed to watch a couple of DVRed shows and get some online stuff done. I have been neglecting online due to falling asleep in my tracks and lots of meetings and sports photos.

I went to bed early, but still was tired when I got up. I'm always tired when I get up. I'm rarely well-rested. I wonder if I ought to have another sleep study done and see if modern medicine has advanced enough to actually help me this time?

New Month, New Boss

Thursday morning, the first day of October, was also the first day with the new boss. We were grateful he didn't come in and try to change everything in the first few moments. He did talk with the editor for awhile during deadline, which led to us not quite getting everything corrected and filed in time, but that was the publisher's fault, so I'm not going to blame anyone else. We still got the paper done on time. This particular issue also published our circulation statement, so we all have a very good idea at the moment where we stand and what our future goals for circ ought to be.

After deadline I started work on other assignments, getting a bunch of stuff done. I needed a couple of fillers, so I headed to the local physical therapy office and asked if someone there was willing to fill out a "neighbors" questionnaire and get a photo taken. To my delight, one of them was willing and I got that job done. After lunch I had to head over to "Holy Pies!" which is a new lunch place that features pies. I wanted to get a couple of good photos of the place to promote their grand opening, but while I was there I went ahead and got another neighbor. Ha! I also decided I need to do more "research" there before I do my promo piece for next Tuesday's business pages.

I stuck around for the full duration on Thursday, working on my "Women in Business" story and being hyper about pies. Then I headed home for a very relaxing evening with Inky and Eric. I actually got some TV watched and played a little Doctor Who: Legacy, which I haven't been able to do for quite awhile.

Mandatory Meetings

Friday morning we had a mandatory meeting after production deadline, at 11 a.m. That's when I usually go to lunch. In fact, most of the reporters go to lunch about that time due to coming in so early. So we were a little low on blood-sugar as the meeting went from one hour to an hour and a half. After the meeting, I managed to get some one-on-one time with the new publisher to discuss my own issues. I was scattered and a little confused, but I think I got my concerns across. I hope.

After that I just stuck around for a bit longer instead of going to lunch. I had some really good apple crisp cookies, and started to develop a sugar high that probably wasn't good for me. I finally lost it about 2 p.m. and went home. I fed the cat, who had missed his eleven o'clock feeding and was very upset, and then fell into bed and slept until shortly before the farewell dinner for the leaving publisher.

The dinner was at the local Eagles Club, and I met several people I'd heard of but never met. The publisher had been working at the newspaper for more than 40 years, so there are a lot of people involved over the years who showed up. It was mostly fun, although the chicken had the texture of shoe leather. The baked potato was really good, at least.

I slept fitfully last night, with a massive headache waking me up several times... although it didn't hurt quite enough for me to get out of bed and find painkillers. I also had disturbing dreams that, fortunately, I have forgotten. I slept in quite a long time before I woke up and helped make breakfast with Eric. I was lazy most of the morning, and didn't get much done, which is why this is getting posted so late.

It's been a very slow day... hopefully I'll be more awake tomorrow.