Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Week in Review

First full week with the new publisher... success so far?

Movie Night

After a very lazy Saturday, Sunday was also not very productive. The biggest thing that happened on Sunday was a trip to the movie. I'll review the movie tomorrow, but today I want to mention the timing of the movie...

First off, unlike Eric, I require 8 hours of sleep a night to not be a zombie the next day. Because I get up at 5 a.m., the math says I need to go to bed by 9 p.m. if at all humanly possible. This past week, everything conspired against me hitting that proper bedtime. Including, sadly, Eric (assisted greatly by my own thoughtlessness).

Eric suggested we go to the 6:45 showing of The Martian, and I was good with that. If I'd spent a couple of minutes actually thinking about it, I probably would have suggested we go to the showing right before that one. Because a two-hour movie with previews that starts that close to 7 p.m. isn't going to get out by my bedtime. But did I think about it? Nope. After the movie I got a bit grumpy because it was, in fact, past my bedtime. I'm afraid I probably took it out on Eric.

We were the first ones into the theater, as is often the case for us and movies. We sat through the entire pre-movie slide show, with Eric doing remarkably poorly on some of the trivia questions. There was also a short film in there somewhere that was mildly entertaining. Mostly I was just bored. There's only so many times you can watch an ad for a local hospital without thinking "I get the point already!"

The previews were equally frustrating. Some were fun, others were awful. There was a preview for some kind of Star Wars movie that's coming in December. I told Eric we're going to that one. I was also somewhat excited about the Batman v Superman movie (but only because I was watching close for the "Aquaman scene").

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that the only other trailer I remember was one for a movie that you would have to pay me to sit through, Zoolander 2. The only reason I remember it is because it started out really awesome, with Stephen Hawking-like narration, before... well, before it became obvious what it was about. Actually, I found the trailer amusing. But that's about as much of the movie as I'm willing to watch.

The theater was fairly empty, possibly because we didn't opt for the 3D viewing. There were enough people to get that feeling of being in a theater but no so many that we had to listen to conversations or babies crying. So, a decent crowd. Eric and I stayed for the entire credits (which we do for every movie), much to the consternation of the guys cleaning the theater. We apologized, and offered to let them start while we were still in there, but they said it was against the rules.

Once home, I had to get to sleep fast. I had a big Monday ahead.

Monday Timing Issues

I was Monday-style groggy on Monday, but fortunately not much worse than usual. Deadline went fine, as did the bits after, when we're all working on the next day's stuff. I made a few calls, set up an appointment, had a decent little morning. I took a slightly longer lunch than usual because I knew I was covering the council budget meeting that night... but Bob the editor also assigned me a JV football game before the council meeting.

The timing was pretty bad. I got sent home at 1:30 p.m. and did some housework. But Eric was teaching in Mattawa, so he wouldn't be back until 4:30 p.m. at the soonest. That meant we weren't going to have a sit-down dinner together. At about 4 p.m. I made up a batch of Kraft Mac&Cheese. Usually we share a box. I eat half unadorned, and he puts all kinds of spices and stuff in his. I served up my half, covered the rest and headed out the door, leaving a "sorry" note for Eric.

Once at the game I attempted to get a roster of the kids, but it turned out they didn't have one. I made little mental cursing noises and asked for the best way to get the names. They suggested I ask coaches at halftime. Well, it would be cutting it close, but I was fairly sure halftime would come before the meeting started. So I started taking photos.

The JV team was doing pretty well. Wenatchee looked like they were going to dominate, but once the local boys got their feet under them, it suddenly became no contest. I got a lot of good shots, and started writing down jersey numbers of guys I got good photos of. I stuck around until halftime, when the local guys were up 19-6, and talked with a coach to get all the names, which was good. Then I headed to the council meeting, which was a fairly straight shot just across town.

On the way, there was a blockage... I saw flashing lights and wondered if I needed to get out of my car to take photos, but the ambulance and cop were already leaving. So I just headed to the council meeting instead.

Budget Meetings!

Most council meetings are attended by several non-council members besides myself and city staff. Larry and Don are two guys that come to almost every meeting, just because they are concerned citizens who want to know what's happening. There's usually a representative of one of the local churches who offers an opening prayer during regular meetings. Sometimes people come due to particular concerns on the agenda we printed. And several family members, usually wives, of council and staff members usually attend as well. At this week's budget meetings, however, it was the council and the staff members who HAD to be there, and no one else. Nobody who didn't have to come showed up.

The meeting was long and points of it dragged on. It's a tough type of meeting because you have the city council, elected officials, listening to a bunch of city employees, who have been hired for their expertise, explaining why they need money to run their departments. And there's never enough money to go around. So the trick, for the council and the city manager, is to determine what needs are the greatest and then direct the funds that way. It's not something I would be inclined to get involved in... my personal feeling is that if you have a great city manager, you trust that person's decisions. But the council has to weigh in and point out problems or things that will cause an outcry. So that's their job.

But in the meantime you have a budget that has estimated expenditures that are almost a million dollars more than the estimated revenues. Something's got to give. And each department KNOWS that their needs are the greatest. The result is a lot of very earnest presentations and tough questions from council members. While in the sense of keeping an eye on what's happening the meetings are actually quite fascinating, I was exhausted at the end of Monday's meeting, which went more than three hours. I didn't get home until 10 p.m. It was really not pleasant at all.

I came in Tuesday and talked with the editor about my Monday meeting and the fact that I needed to be around for my coach to call Tuesday night, but I had another council meeting. He told me to leave the meeting at 9 p.m. no matter what happened so I could take the call. Glee!

After deadline on Tuesday I had an interview that went way longer than I expected it to go. I took a very short lunch and got back to work as early as I could, then again went home a bit early to cut hours for the Tuesday night council budget meeting. Because there was no JV football, I was able to be around Eric for a few minutes, which was nice. Then off to the budget meeting, which was mostly about the police department.

As instructed, I left the meeting at 9 p.m. but as soon as I got home I turned on the live audio and listened to the remainder of the meeting. Thus I got to hear the council recess the meeting a bit after 9:30 p.m. and schedule another meeting on Thursday night. After groaning, I resolved to argue with the boss that I could listen to the meeting at home.

Fortunately for me, the editor agreed, and I ended up spending Thursday night listening live to the audio stream of the meeting. It was much easier on my body, but I felt like I missed a lot of nuance that I normally would have picked up on. I wouldn't mind relying on the audio every once in awhile, but I'd hate to only do audio or mostly do the meetings through audio. I'd feel like I missed too much.


Back to Tuesday, while I got to bed late, at least I spent most of the later time at home, so I was less stressed when I went into work on Wednesday. Except for a little problem. I'm not allowed to work overtime, and I was getting really close to going over by the time I went into work on Wednesday. I alerted the editor to the issue and got sent home early enough to avoid any department of labor problems.

Wednesday night was lovely. I actually got to be around Eric and Inky and not stress overmuch for a few hours. But with another meeting Thursday night and Homecoming Friday night, I was not able to fully relax. Four nights in a single week is just too many. I can handle three without much complaint, and two is ideal if we have to live this way. But four is too many, even with one of them at home. Listening to audio and taking notes is still work.

Thursday morning as I left the house, I noticed the moon and what I think is Venus glowing softly through a hazy fog. I thought, "That would make a great shot." But the problem was that I'd have to get out my camera, put it on the tripod, switch the lens, set up the timer and then take several tries to make sure I actually got the shot. And that would make me really late to work. I considered it, seriously. I wish I had done it. But in the end I just went to work.

I'm told that the difference between a writer and a non-writer is that the writer writes. I suppose the difference between a photographer and a non-photographer is that the photographer stops and takes those photos they think might come out nice. Regrets... I have a few.


By Friday I was definitely dragging badly. I struggled through the day, and was much irritated to have to take photos at the homecoming game AND a concert being held at the high school the same night. Seriously. Who schedules a community concert at the high school the SAME NIGHT AND TIME AS HOMECOMING?!? Really? I've seen some pretty messed up scheduling before, but that's got to take the cake.

In any case, finding parking was such a nightmare I eventually parked at my co-worker's home across the street from the high school and hiked in. The concert was lovely and I wish I could have stayed to listen to more, but I knew I needed to get to the game if I was going to get any good shots at all. Sure enough, I was late enough that I had a lot of trouble. It was exhausting and irritating and by the time I was home I just wanted to die.

I don't remember crawling into bed. I don't know if Eric stayed up to read. All I know is that I woke up between 8 and 9 a.m. this morning feeling a little better. I napped again after breakfast, and began to feel even more human. But I'm still tired.

Next week I have night meetings on both Monday and Tuesday. I'm not looking forward to either of them, particularly Tuesday, since the volleyball coach will be calling that night. I just love having meetings when I'm expecting phone calls.


We're hoping for a few changes over the next few months, as the new publisher settles in. The first, and biggest, change would be the hiring of a new sportswriter/editor who is completely in charge of the sports pages. If we can find the appropriate person, it would free the rest of us from having to deal with sports reporting, which takes a great deal of time in the mornings and is half the reason we're expected to be in the office at 6:30 a.m. Should the ideal candidate be found, we will start working differently - hopefully more effectively. Until then, it's going to be split shifts.

Other changes will happen as they happen, but that's the big one. It's also the one I'm kind of praying for, since it'll open up our schedules quite a bit.