Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Great. I'm finally well enough to contribute at work, and this is what I have to drive through to get there. If I weren't still a bit sick, I think I'd be fine, but I don't like going out in that when I still have a nasty cough. Fingers and toes crossed the snow melts off quickly and isn't covering a layer of ice.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Sunday, November 22, 2015
I've been sick this week, and I can't seem to write while I'm sick. I'm on the upward side of the sickness now, if what the doctor told me is correct, but I still feel absolutely awful.
I tried reading some comics and writing reviews while I was sick, but I honestly couldn't remember what I'd read after a few minutes and instead just wanted to take a nap. So that's what I've been doing. So, no reviews, no week in review... my scheduled Monday post will post as usual, but I'm just going to concentrate on getting well and not thinking too much. Hopefully I'll be up for some reviews next week.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Ok, at least I can catch up on some television watching, right?
TV this week:
- Doctor Who: "The Zygon Invasion" - This episode put me off a bit, but I couldn't figure out what I disliked about it. V guvax vg jnf gur greebevfz zveebevat fb pybfryl jung'f unccravat va gur erny jbeyq. Ba gur bgure unaq, gurer jrer fbzr ernyyl tbbq ovgf, yvxr gur erghea bs Bftbbq. It wasn't fantastic, but it had some great moments.
- Doctor Who: "The Zygon Inversion" - Whether or not you were impressed by the Doctor's speech made a big difference in whether or not you liked this episode. V obgu yvxrq vg naq qvfyvxrq vg. Zl snibevgr ovg jbhyq unir gb cebonoyl or Xngr'f ersrerapr gb ure sngure. V nyfb yvxrq ubj Bftbbq er-qhcyvpngrq urefrys. Nf ybat nf bar Bftbbq fheivirf, jub pnerf vs fur'f uhzna be abg?
- Doctor Who: "Sleep No More" - A very frustrating episode. V sbhaq gur onq thlf gb or hapbaivapvat ba znal yriryf, naq gur Qbpgbe xrcg fnlvat, "gurer'f zber gb guvf" jvgubhg rire (nccneragyl) qvfpbirevat jung gung zber jnf. Gur rssrpgf jrer gehyl tebgrfdhr, naq jbexrq cerggl jryy... vs bayl gur rkcynangvba sbe gurz qvqa'g znxr zr whfg fnl "jung?" naq npghnyyl fpnerq zr. Gur jubyr "sbhaq sbbgntr" guvat jnf whfg bqq, naq ntnva, gur rkcynangvba qvqa'g jbex sbe zr sbe fbzr ernfba. Gur bar ovg V ernyyl yvxrq jnf gur ersrerapr gb gur zvfanzvat bs gur Fvyhevnaf. Ohg gur erfg? V whfg qvqa'g svaq vg nyy gung vzcerffvir.
- Arrow: "Beyond Redemption" - Oliver's running for mayor, but other folks are cutting and running. Gur vqrn bs gur pbcf ybfvat fb zhpu ubcr gurl yvgrenyyl ner tenoovat jung gurl pna orsber gurl yrnir vf fnq. Ynhery punvavat Fnen hc va gur onfrzrag qbrfa'g fvg jryy jvgu zr, rvgure. Va snpg, gurer'f n ybg bs qvfgerffvat ovgf va guvf rcvfbqr. Not my favorite.
- Arrow: "Haunted" - A new murderer is loose in the city. Ng yrnfg Fnen vf bayl xvyyvat guhtf. V jnfa'g rkcrpgvat Wbua Pbafgnagvar gb trg pnyyrq va gb uryc, ohg gura, vg xvaq bs jbexf jura Byyvr vf onggyvat n znwbe zntvpny hfre guvf frnfba. Gurer ner n ybg bs yvggyr ovgf va guvf bar, cnegvphyneyl va synfuonpxf, gung ernyyl znxr vg zber guna whfg n fgnaqneq rcvfbqr. Naq Sryvpvgl svanyyl svtherf bhg gung Enl unf orra gelvat gb pbagnpg ure, juvpu V svtherq bhg gur svefg gvzr V fnj ure pbzcynva nobhg ure cubar. Actually a pretty good episode.
- Arrow: "Lost Souls" - This is all about Felicity gelvat gb svaq naq fnir Enl. Bu, gur bguref nccrne naq qb fghss naq unir gurve bja yvggyr cybgyvarf, ohg guvf vf nobhg Sryvpvgl naq Enl. Naq Sryvpvgl'f zbz naq Byvire. Naq Qrgrpgvir Ynapr zrrgvat Sryvpvgl'f zbz. Hz. Lrnu, gung ynfg bar jnf yvxr gur raq fcynfu cntr va n pbzvp, znxvat lbh jbaqre jung qvfnfgre vf yhexvat nebhaq gur pbeare arkg.
- The Flash: "The Fury of Firestorm" - Fb guvf bar vf nyy nobhg abg whqtvat crbcyr ol jurer gurl ner va yvsr. Naq V sbhaq vg n ovg cernpul, gb or ubarfg. Gurer jrer fbzr tbbq svtug zbzragf, naq Xvat Funex jnf qrsvavgryl n uvtuyvtug sbe zr, ohg overall, not my favorite episode.
- The Flash: "The Darkness and The Light" - Hey, we got an Aquaman reference, so this automatically becomes the best episode of this show ever! Va guvf rcvfbqr jr trg vagebqhprq gb Qe. Yvtug naq Pvfpb'f cbjref orpbzr xabja. Jr nyfb trg gur ernpgvbaf bs rirelbar gb Uneevfba Jryyf orvat ba gur fprar ntnva. V sbhaq Pvfpb'f evqr-nybat ba Oneel'f qngr gb or cerggl shaal naq hggreyl pevatr-jbegul. Overall, good stuff.
- The Flash: "Enter Zoom" - Barry decides to confront Zoom. V'z fbeel, ohg vaibyivat Yvaqn znxrf guvf ol sne gur fghcvqrfg cyna rire. V ybir gung Pvfpb znantrf gb "ivor" ba Qe. Jryyf, naq gung gur vasbezngvba vf fbzrjung hfrshy ng n pehpvny zbzrag. Naq Qe. Jryyf qnhtugre vf Wrffr... cbffvoyl Wrffr Dhvpx? Nyfb, qvq nalbar ryfr svther bhg gung Qe. Yvtug jnf tbvat gb hfr vaivfvovyvgl gb rfpncr nf fbba nf Cnggl zragvbarq gb Wbr gung vg jnf bar bs ure cbffvoyr cbjref? Not a bad episode.
- Gotham: "By Fire" - Yvir ol gur synzr, qvr ol gur synzr? V fubhyqa'g unir ynhturq ng Uneirl'f ernpgvba gb bar bs Oevtvg'f oebgure'f fgvyy orvat nyvir. Naq Rqjneq'f gvzr bs orvat abezny vf qrfgeblrq ol fbzr zbzragf bs ubarfgl gung ur fubhyqa'g unir bcgrq sbe. Ohg gur fpnevrfg bs gur cybgyvarf vf jung unccraf gb Ohgpu. Gung cbbe thl unf orra chg guebhtu gur jevatre.
- Gotham: "Mommy's Little Monster" - Ohgpu'f orgenlny frrzrq eryhpgnag. Vg'f nyzbfg nf vs ur npghnyyl unf tebja gb yvxr Crathva n ovg guebhtu nyy gur vafnavgl. Frrvat Crathva'f zbgure qvr... jubn. V jbaqrerq vs gung jbhyq or n xrl zbzrag va gur frevrf nf fbba nf fur jnf vagebqhprq. Vg ghearq bhg gb or irel vagrafr. Gur vagreebtngvba bs Ohgpu jnf nabgure avpr zbzrag. Wvz naq Uneirl trg whfg rabhtu gb jbex jvgu. Crathva'f gevpx gb trg pybfr rabhtu gb xvyy Tnynina jnf nznmvat, ohg V jbaqre n) ubj ur znantrq gb svaq gung znal ybbx-nyvxrf fb dhvpxyl naq o) ubj ur pbaivaprq gurz gb tb gb gurve nyzbfg pregnva qrnguf. Gur fhocybg jvgu Altzn jnf nyfb rkgerzryl tbbq, jvgu uvz svanyyl orpbzvat n jubyr, vs rkgerzryl gjvfgrq, zna. Lvxrf. This is, I think, the best of the series so far.
- Gotham: "Tonight's the Night" - Vg frrzf yvxr nyy bs Tnynina'f cynaf unir pbzr penfuvat qbja va guvf rcvfbqr, ohg ur npgrq sne gbb dhvpxyl va qrfgeblvat gur Jnlar zheqre rivqrapr sbe vg gb unir pbzr nf n pbzcyrgr fhecevfr. V'z n yvggyr pbaprearq nobhg gur snpg gung Oneonen fheivirq, juvpu fhttrfgf fur'yy or onpx. Zrnajuvyr, Altzn'f cybgyvar jnf n pbzrql bs (g)reebef naq fbzrubj znantrq gb or shaal naq fpnel ng gur fnzr gvzr. Gur svany zrrg-hc jnf... cebzvfvat. Jub ryfr guvaxf Yrfyvr vf tbvat gb oernx hc jvgu Wvz bire gur riragf va guvf rcvfbqr? Not as great as the previous episode, but very interesting.
- Supergirl: "Pilot" - What, another show to watch? This was a pretty good start to the series and it certainly inspired me to watch more. V yvxr gung gur QRB rkvfgf va guvf frevrf, nf vg cebonoyl jbhyq va nal havirefr gung pbagnvaf Fhcrezna. V ybir Png Tenag naq gur nqqvgvba bs n fvfgre sbe Xnen. An interesting start.
- Supergirl: "Stronger Together" - I'm not sure about Jimmy Olson in this show, but everyone else seems to be hitting the right notes for me. Bs pbhefr, xabjvat ubj fbzr bs gur punenpgref ghea bhg va gur znva QPH znxrf zr jngpu gurz pybfryl... yvxr Znkjryy Ybeq naq Unax Urafunj. Gur nqqvgvba bs na nhag sbe Fhcretvey vf nyfb n avpr gjvfg va guvf frevrf, naq bssref fbzr frevbhf sbrf. Ohg bar jbaqref jul Fhcrezna unfa'g nyernql orra nyregrq gb gur guerng naq svtugvat vg?
- Supergirl: "Fight or Flight" - Some nice moments in this one, with Clark getting his words in. V unys-yvxr naq unys-ungr ubj gurl'ir znantrq gb xrrc Fhcrezna ng n zvavzhz va gur fubj, ohg guvf rcvfbqr tbrf bar fgrc shegure va univat Xnen fbyir n zlfgrel Fhcrezna qvqa'g. Znkjryy Ybeq vf ernyyl veevgngvat... ohg gura, ur'f nyjnlf orra gung jnl. V jbaqre vs ur unf nal cbjref be vf whfg n fhcre-cbjrerq wrex va guvf fubj? Overall, not a bad episode, but I fear we'll be freak-of-the-week for awhile.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
We want to use a lot pressure while using no pressure at all. A tree cannot be straight if it has a crooked trunk. Don't be afraid to make these big decisions. Once you start, they sort of just make themselves. That's why I paint - because I can create the kind of world I want - and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Just think about these things in your mind - then bring them into your world.
Just make a decision and let it go. We have no limits to our world. We're only limited by our imagination. You have freedom here. The only guide is your heart.
Isn't it great to do something you can't fail at? When things happen - enjoy them. They're little gifts. We artists are a different breed of people. We're a happy bunch.
Just relax and let it flow. That easy. A tree needs to be your friend if you're going to paint him. In nature, dead trees are just as normal as live trees. Go out on a limb - that's where the fruit is. Just go out and talk to a tree. Make friends with it.
You can create anything that makes you happy. All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind. Only God can make a tree - but you can paint one. This is probably the greatest thing to happen in my life - to be able to share this with you. Take your time. Speed will come later.
The more we do this - the more it will do good things to our heart. Be careful. You can always add more - but you can't take it away. In painting, you have unlimited power. You have the ability to move mountains. You can bend rivers. But when I get home, the only thing I have power over is the garbage.
Don't kill all your dark areas - you need them to show the light. Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is everywhere you only have to look to see it. There is no right or wrong - as long as it makes you happy and doesn't hurt anyone. We tell people sometimes: we're like drug dealers, come into town and get everybody absolutely addicted to painting. It doesn't take much to get you addicted. With something so strong, a little bit can go a long way. The first step to doing anything is to believe you can do it. See it finished in your mind before you ever start.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I call the police every day.
It's part of my job, calling the sheriff's office or the police to get information for our daily report of police activity. I've gotten used to talking to cops.
But I never call 9-1-1. That's the emergency number, and I never have an emergency. Right? Well... today I called the emergency line.
I was driving home after finishing up my last story for the day. I turned an annoying blind corner onto the street that leads to my subdivision, and there was something strange in front of me.
I first registered an SUV stopped in the roadway, askew. It wasn't aimed straight. I then noticed there was something/somebody on the sidewalk to my right side, and there was a big orange dog in the street headed toward the sidewalk. I registered that the dog was attacking/lunging at a dog on the sidewalk being held on a leash by a woman who looked, frankly, really angry and scared. Then I noticed that she had a child with her, trying to hide behind her.
I then realized the SUV was trying to block the orange dog from getting to the woman. I pulled up, stopped my car and turned on my emergency lights. I heard the woman yell, "Get your dog on a leash!" to a man carrying a two-by-four approaching from a house on my left-hand side. I wasn't sure what to do, so I dithered while the man ran behind my car, where the orange dog was running to either get away from him or cut off the woman and her dog, or both. I heard a smacking sound and the orange dog yelped, then the man was headed back to the house. I didn't see the dog after that (I think it ran while I was looking at the woman).
All this time the woman had been trying to drag her dog, which appeared to be a young brown Doberman, up the street. She was now next to my car, so I yelled (since my windows were up) "Do you want me to call the police?!" She nodded, looking grim and frightened, and I dialed 9-1-1 for the first time in many years.
I may have been a little over-excited. I told the dispatcher that a dog was attacking a jogger and her dog and child. I offered to stay and direct the police to where the dog and the man had come from. While I was talking, the woman got her dog around the corner and away. The SUV driver slowly drove off. And the man returned to his house. I didn't get any names, and no one was there to support me.
Rather than stay in the middle of the street, I pulled a u-turn and parked nearby. The police arrived a few minutes later and I directed them to the house. As soon as he saw the officers, the man came out and started to apologize, saying his dog had broken its leash. Because of the neighbor dogs, which always run loose, he said. Two more officers arrived, including one I knew. I gave my name and address and such, then I went to my car...
...which I'd locked with the keys inside. D'oh. Fortunately, it's cold out. When it's cold out, I wear a coat. When I wear a coat, I keep my wallet in the pocket. And in my wallet... my spare key. I was able to get inside my car without utterly embarrassing myself in front of the cops and clear out. As I left, the police were questioning the dog owner.
I'll be sure to look at the police log tomorrow to see what I hath wrought.
Monday, November 09, 2015
Sunday, November 08, 2015
Yeah, I'm still alive. Sorry for the dearth of posts.
I admit I indulged in some stuperstition during the Seahawks game last Sunday. I have four Liberty Bottles... one is a Seahawks World Champions bottle. I use the bottles in platoon, so I generally use a couple or three a day. I've noticed that any Seahawks gameday on which I didn't use the Seahawks bottle, the Seahawks lost. As I am a reasonable person, I know it's total coincidence, but I made sure I used the Seahawks bottle on Sunday, just in case. It meant I drank I bit more water than I usually do, which is probably a good thing on the balance. And the Seahawks won, reinforcing the stuperstition. Eh, it's a win-win.
Monday morning came way too early, despite the shift off Daylight Saving Time. I could go into a rant about DST and standard time and how pointless it is in today's world, but I'm just going to continue to shake my head that we're still doing it. My preference would be to go on DST permanently, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
Inkwell was NOT pleased with his lazy humans, who clearly are confused about time. Inkwell's stomach clock knew what time it was, so having his human feed him an hour late was extremely frustrating for the cat. And he let us know. It usually takes him a few weeks to adjust to the time change. Another reason I want to abolish changing the time.
There was a lot to do on Monday morning, including getting several photos ready from last week. We had a double-truck (two-page photo spread) planned to show off people's Halloween costumes, so it was a case of jumping right into the morning work. I also had football photos, the results from cross country and volleyball and a voting reminder story to write, along with my usual police logs. However, one of the police logs had a very interesting item that I needed to talk to someone about (it later turned out to be a dud) so I ended up being very stressed because I couldn't reach the person I wanted to chat with. Ug.
After deadline, we got our first taste of how the new publisher plans to work. For one thing, he started to edit the stories once they were already out on the layout table, which is... um... not the standard in our office. Part of the reason was some poor copy-editing, but most of the reason was a complete change in house style. Bob the editor had a specific way he preferred stories to be written, whereas the new publisher comes from the editorial side of things and has an equally specific, but very different, way he wants things to be written. The result is the three reporters and a reporter/interim editor have completely different style guides in our heads than the publisher. And that resulted in editing on the layout table and a VERY stressed production crew, who are used to only changing typos once the pages are laid out.
It wasn't pleasant, but we all got through it. I think we'll slowly get back out of house style and more into AP style as we go, but it will take some getting used to. Bob was editing at the paper for a long, long time.
After the paper was out the door to the printer at 11 a.m., we had an editorial meeting. This is something we should have been doing all along, but it was not a priority for Bob, so for the past four years we haven't had any regular meetings. Having a meeting was a bit of a new thing for us. I had prepared some story ideas and a list of what I was working on for the week, since I figured that was the crucial stuff. We went over the schedule, hit some major points... one of the reporters had to leave for a noon meeting. The rest of us and the publisher stayed for another half hour or 45 minutes, until we had everything sorted out. Then I went home to a really upset cat, who thought I was three hours late, not two hours, for his lunchtime meal.
After lunch I returned to the office to get more stuff done, and I was there a bit longer than I intended, as I had an evening city council workshop meeting.
The short time I had at home is a bit of a blur for me. Eric has been subbing in a school district an hour's drive away. They pay enough more that it actually pays for the gasoline and car maintenance, but it does mean he gets home late some times. So we have a rushed dinner together, then I'm off to my night events. It can be very odd.
The council meeting was going great until a dead horse was hauled out to beat on. And beat on it they did. For almost an hour. They kept resurrecting it and beating on it some more, and by the end I found it slightly hard to believe they actually were arguing about it. The whole thing had seemed very straightforward to me... they'd already voted on it, the workshop was just about giving a little direction to the city manager. It should have taken 15 minutes at the most. So it felt very obnoxious to me.
Tuesday was election day. I had a couple of stories to write up in the morning, including another reminder to vote, the council story, another sports story, another follow-up on the hospital... Just a handful of little things. I got through them, and the police logs, before deadline. I then had to take off for another city, because I had a 10 a.m. appointment to view some video of a sewer line and then tour a wastewater plant. On the way, I dropped off my and Eric's ballots.
You know how it's always a pleasure to listen or talk with someone who is really interested in a subject that you want to know more about? People who aren't just knowledgable, but also genuinely enjoy sharing information? That was the fellow at the wastewater plant. He's a very smart guy who not only knows his business, but actually feels very strongly about making sure clean water is going into the river, and not toxic human waste. He's a guy who has a deep, piece-by-piece understanding of the process... more than I'll ever comprehend. But he's willing and eager to share, and as a result, he's an absolute joy to chat with. It doesn't matter that the subject is a little crappy, his interest makes it interesting.
First I viewed a video of the sewer line in question. A guy who believes the city is responsible for maintaining the line to his house managed to get the city's public works crew to his place by calling the department of health and apparently convincing them that sewage was leaking all over the place. The department of health arrived, found nothing particularly wrong, then the city's public works guys used some cameras to video the entire line and prove, without a doubt, that the clog in the line was caused by roots near the end of his sideline. I feel for the resident to some extent, because Eric and I had roots in our line at Frankenhaus in Bothell, and it's very frustrating to get it cleaned out and only have it clog up again a couple of years later. In this guy's case, he had not just cleaned out the line, he had the whole thing replaced as far as he was able to replace it, just a year or two ago. Unfortunately, replacing the portion of the line that is inaccessible due to the right-of-way was too expensive, and that's where the roots had formed.
Once it was clear there wasn't a story there, I toured the plant with the fellow who loves his job and took some photos for a little photo page. Nothing special, just a neat little feature to show folks what they are getting for their money. Then I headed over to the local restaurant for lunch before heading back to the office.
Being election day, we'd had a few discussions on how to handle it. In Monday's meeting the publisher said the way his papers traditionally did it was to have a pizza party at the office at the time the returns are coming in and the reporters call all the candidates for comments. The stories get written that night, and in our case get posted online. So everyone is fed and also gets everything written ahead of time. So we decided to try it. This also meant that my attendance at a budget meeting that night was canceled so I could be part of our election coverage. I didn't mind.
So at 8 p.m. I was back at the office again, after a short afternoon with Eric and Inkwell. It turned out to be... well, I wouldn't say fun, but nearly so. It was nice to get the stories and the calls done and out of the way that night instead of waiting until the morning and it was nice to be with other folks to ask for advice/phone numbers/please answer that I'm on the other line. In short, it worked, and I hope we do it that way in the future if I stick with the paper.
I got home almost at 10 p.m., a bit past my normal bedtime, and slept the sleep of the just.
With most of our work already done, writing the election day stories the next morning was easy. I just updated them with the latest information, talked to the one person who hadn't answered my call the night before, and generally got 'er done. The result was an easier morning-after-the-election than usual.
I had no actual appointments or assignments Wednesday night, and that turned out to be important. Once I got home that afternoon I was so exhausted I pretty much collapsed. I went to bed early and slept almost ten hours straight.
I'm still not entirely sure what happened on Thursday. I think I got to work and got stuff done, then the rest of the day is a crazy blue. I expected to spend extra hours at work then have the night off, but in the afternoon we got a call from the reporter scheduled for a couple of evening events... her car's alternator was dead. As a result, I ended up covering her event in the next town south. What was funny about that was that I had called the city administrator earlier in the day about sewer rates for my sewer story, and he had asked me if I was attending the event. I said, no, I thought my co-worker was assigned to it. When I showed up, I told him I'd begged and pleaded to take the assignment. He said, "Really?" and I admitted my co-worker's car had broken down.
But in the short time I was home from the office, before I headed down to the unexpected assignment, I got a call from hubby-Eric. He had a flat tire on his car. He was about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, from home. He had a wrench and a spare, but no jack. Since I didn't have a jack either, there was no point in me heading up to help him, so I went to my meeting and he called AAA. We didn't see each other until fairly late.
Friday was a relatively quiet day. I figured out who the local Christian school was playing in the tournament on Saturday and updated the website, then learned I was going for the entire tournament. There goes my Saturday. But I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
The drive up to Bickleton Saturday morning was strange. The entire Lower Valley was socked in fog. Naturally, I drove a little slower to suit the conditions... naturally, most people didn't. Fortunately I only had one tailgater and was able to get him around me when I went through a town.
Climbing up the hill... I almost wish I'd stopped to take a photo of the Lower Valley once I got out of the fog. It was gorgeous, but not a sight I'm likely to see very often. The entire valley filled with cloud, while the sun shone brightly overhead. Once out of the clouds, I actually caught up to the guy who'd been tailgating me earlier. In fact, they were headed to the same place as me, and it was a teenage driver coming to cheer one of the volleyball teams in the tourney.
So the tourney had an interesting set up. Four of the six teams in the District made it to the playoffs. The top two were headed to state. To determine who was going to state, they held a "win-twice" tournament.
The first two games were played at the same time and featured the number one team, my local Christian school, against the number four seed. The third seed team, another one I covered this season (Bickleton) was up against the number two. So I had one team in each of the opening games, which were played at the same time in the same gym. That was an adventure. I sat on the boundary, which was marked by a big divider curtain, and took photos of both games. When the games ended, I headed to the hospitality room and wrote up my story online, posting it live.
I then had a bit of a break because the next game was the two losers playing one another. Except my boss was emailing me to update me on how I was doing and ask for photos of another team at the tournament. I got what I needed, ate in the coaches lounge, and paid close attention. The No. 2 seed beat the No. 4 seed, which meant the loser of the championship match would play the second seed team.
Ok, here's where I disagree with the tournament organizers. The final two games were the championship game and the battle for the second spot at State. During the championship game, the two teams who won the first round were going to play all-out for the top spot, naturally. Then the organizers expected the LOSER of that tough game to immediately play another match against a well-rested team for the second place finish.
It wasn't fair to the team that lost the championship. The championship game should have been played immediately after the opening round so the loser would be the team that was rested for the final game. Instead, Bickleton was punished for playing with everything they had against the Christian school, because when they lost and had to face the second seeded team again, there was nothing left in their tanks. Oh, they gave it a good run. I would say a fantastic run. They worked their butts off and were sobbing from exhaustion at the end. But they were simply too tired.
Now, if this is some obscene lesson in how life isn't fair, I guess we'll just have to live with it. But generally speaking, it was a lousy thing to do to kids. And they apparently did it the same way last year, as well, so I feel they should have learned and ought to change it in the future. In fact, I was originally told that the championship match would be played right after the openers this year. I'm not sure why it was changed back.
My preference would have been to play the second set of games at the same time, like they did the first, after a longer break. Then the final game would have been between two equally rested teams.
I have no say in it, but I hope they consider a change in the future. It really was heart-breaking on many levels to watch my team fall through sheer exhaustion.
I headed home down the narrow winding road in the dark and rain, since a nasty storm had moved into town while the girls were playing. It made for a very long day, leaving the house about 9 a.m. and not getting home until 7 p.m. In addition, Eric was in Seattle, so I came home to a hungry and cranky cat who spent the rest of the evening basically velcroed to my ankle so I couldn't leave again.
I dreamed about volleyball strategy.
I haven't written any reviews, although, again, we watched most of our shows. I'll try to write them today and post them, but if I don't, I might try to write some for later in the week. As you probably can tell, I've been busy. When I'm not working, I'm generally doing my best to turn off my brain, which isn't conducive to writing reviews or posting blogs.
I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
Monday, November 02, 2015
Sunday, November 01, 2015
After a relatively relaxing Saturday with Inkwell, I had a mostly pleasant Sunday. Inkwell surprised me by not waking me up until his feeding time on Sunday, which was nice. He slept on the bed with me since I closed the door to the guest room while I cleaned the sheets on the bed. He was rather irritated by that move on my part, but since Eric wasn't home, he just spread out on Eric's side of the bed.
I needed to do some baking on Sunday, but I didn't do it for whatever reason. In fact, I was pretty darn lazy all day on Sunday, which probably didn't put Eric into a good mood when he got back from the wetside and wanted to accomplish stuff.
Since I hadn't finished making the bed in the guest room, Inkwell once again slept on our bed, mostly around my legs. He was mightily annoyed any time I moved.
I was almost late to work again on Monday because Eric got into the shower later than I expected... but I realized what I was doing and managed to get to work in time after all! Huzzah!
On Monday I had Noon Rotary and City Council. For kicks, the editor threw in a finance meeting before the council meeting as well. It turned out to be a good thing he did, as the council meeting itself was short on substantial information, while the finance meeting had an interesting budget update to report on.
Rotary was all about cow manure, which is why the guest speaker said, "I'm glad you all finished lunch before I started talking." The presentation was about a new way to process liquid cow manure, which is one of, say, three major things to come out of a cow.
LECTURE MODE ON: The average dairy cow produces maybe 75 pounds of milk in a day, and 25 pounds of solid manure. Another 100 pounds is liquid that isn't milk. Unfortunately, the waste from cows is a problem because it has a lot of nitrates in it. While nitrates make great fertilizer, a lot of dairies for a great many years had no clue that the wastewater their cows produced could leech into the ground and contaminate the groundwater. The groundwater group I've been covering (the nightmare meetings that everyone wishes they don't get assigned) is trying to solve the nitrate problem. Nitrates don't come just from cows... but while the exact cause of nitrates in groundwater is not certain, what is certain is that responsible dairymen want to reduce or eliminate nitrates in their waste. LECTURE MODE OFF.
So this guest speaker was talking about a really simple method for reducing the nitrates in liquid dairy waste. It's basically a giant compost bin (bunker) with worms that have been acclimated (trained worms!) to deal with the waste. The results in a test of the method in Royal City, north of us, have been impressive. They were hoping for a 70% reduction in nitrates: they've been getting more than 80%. This is good news and of great interest to everyone in the area, because it may result in significant changes in the local dairies, which are a vital piece of the economy.
As a result, although it was a "crappy" meeting, it was extremely interesting and actually a little fun to write about.
Lots of Meetings
After getting through as much of the next day's work as possible, I headed out of the office a little early due to the evening meetings. I had a quick dinner with Eric before going to the finance meeting. I had a little trouble getting out of my housing development. There seemed to be an awful lot of traffic on the side road, far more than usual. I considered investigating, but I didn't think I'd have enough time. I intended to stop at the credit union and get some cash, but there was a huge crowd there, and the line was practically out the door. I took one long look and just walked out. I still didn't have quite enough time to go investigate the traffic mystery, though. Thus, I got to the finance meeting a little early.
The new finance director for the city has been crazy busy trying to settle into her role. She was previously the financial analyst, but with the new job, she's actually been doing both roles while trying to get the 2016 city budget ready and clean-up past financial problems in the city's books. While I think she's got it mostly under control, I also think she's a bit overworked at the moment. In any case, she had a budget amendment for the council to make, and in the finance meeting she presented the case for it nicely.
The main meeting was... well, I can't say it was quick exactly. Instead, it covered a lot of ground rapidly then halted depressingly on a subject that had been discussed extensively at the last meeting. The problem was that three of the seven council members were missing at the last meeting. All three were at this last meeting, and all three wanted to hear more about the subject. So the entire thing was rehashed in detail while I sat there wishing I hand a handy video game to play while I waited for them to catch each other up.
As a result, I wrote a bunch of brief stories on the council meeting, a long story on the finance meeting a had a couple of photos and that was that.
Inkwell again slept on the bed with us. I really needed to make that bed in the guest room!
One of my co-workers was on vacation this past week, and on Monday I forgot to do her police log. So Tuesday morning one of my main duties was getting that all caught up. I talked with the officer in charge of that, and he had some fun stories for me, including a tale of a very intoxicated gang member who apparently managed to shoot himself in the leg. I also got an answer to the traffic mystery from Monday night: a semi-truck had stalled/broken in a major intersection, blocking it off and diverting traffic into my neighborhood.
The rest of Tuesday deadline wasn't particularly wonderful, but we somehow got it done. Then I had more stuff to work on for Wednesday, including another attempt to get an interview. I left early again because of a council meeting the next town south, Tuesday night.
The meeting was a bit different from usual. First off, there were extra people there. It turned out that Heritage University, a local school that a lot of local kids go to after high school, has a class on social services. And the entire class was asked to attend a local council meeting. So almost a dozen students from the class crammed themselves into the tiny council chambers of the town. Normally, when I go to council meetings at this town, I'm one of the only a couple of people in the audience, which is usually set up with between 12 and 15 mismatched chairs. The other people in the audience are generally either staff members who don't have seats at the "council table" (which only has five seats that aren't reserved for the council and mayor) or people giving a presentation to the council, or family members of the council.
Tuesday night, the mayor's family was at the meeting, taking up three chairs. In addition the staff seats were all taken, so that's city's new finance director was also sitting in the audience. Only 12 chairs had been set up, so with a dozen "newbies" coming in, the staff ran over to grab more chairs... many of which were literally covered in dust. The police chief ran to get some dusting cloths so people didn't have to sit down in the dust, although one gentleman defiantly proved he didn't care about dust and sat down in one of the dusty chairs and wiggled a bit with a big smile at the staff with dusting cloths. In addition to the 11 students, three-and-a-half family members, finance director and me, the family of the police officer being sworn in that night was also visiting from Spokane. There were five of them plus the officer herself. It was standing-room-only until the officer was sworn in and she and her family left.
The meeting itself was something fairly boring but quick, which is how I like 'em if they are boring. The main meeting lasted less than a half hour. I also arrived early for the study session and learned that the city is finally working on its 2016 budget. That became my main story, with several photos and a brief about the new employees, including the police officer. I tried to get an interview with the new finance director, who sounds like a fascinating person, but she was starting on the city's budget while learning the city's system and begged for three weeks. I wrote it down in my to-do list in Evernote call her back then.
Extra Volleyball Photos
One of the council members was absent due to a volleyball game at the high school (two blocks away) that his daughter was playing in. I had a notion that if the meeting ended quickly enough, I'd run over to the high school and get a few photos of the game along with stats directly from the coach so he wouldn't have to call me later. I expected the volleyball game to start at 6 p.m., so when I got there at 7:30 and the first set was just starting, I was a little surprised. But happy... I got my photos and stats, staying the duration of the game. Turns out the JV match went long, and it was senior night as well, so there was a celebration before the game. I arrived at just the right time to avoid the nonsense.
I headed home after the game, feeling pretty good about getting extra photos and already done with my stats. The rest of the night went quickly enough, although Inkwell slept on my legs again. Sometime in the morning I rolled over and partially squished him before realizing he was there, and after that he wasn't on the bed anymore.
Wednesday morning I was feeling a bit distressed from having a couple of outstanding stories that needed to be done NOW but I didn't have quite all the information. I did what I could and punted on the rest. I planned on getting a lot of work done after lunch... but then I got a call to go take a Student of the Month photo at one of the local elementary schools, and my afternoon vanished. Normally I like taking the photos, which are at local schools so I get to see and chat with local kids, but with so much to do, I was stressed.
I didn't finish my stories, and I had to go home to help Eric drop off his car at the shop, so I decided to try to write them at home Wednesday night. I was totally fooling myself. I didn't get either of the two most crucial done. Thursday morning I scrambled in the morning and got one of them done before I even headed to work, but the other one was a complete failure. I didn't finish it until Friday morning.
Inkwell gave up on sleeping on the bed with us as of Wednesday night. I'm not sure if it was due to being squished slightly the night before or for some other reason. Instead, he figured out that my chair upstairs is a fairly safe place to cuddle. I moved my computer downstairs to try to get stories done, so I haven't been sitting in it. I guess he found that reassuring.
As I finished my story Thursday morning, I checked my email and discovered that I was scheduled for a press conference at 4 p.m. that had just been announced. It meant that Eric and I weren't likely to get out to pick up his car, and so I was even more stressed than usual. Eric assured me we would work with it, but I was still slightly angry and feeling put out about it.
Then I got in my car to head to work and got even more stressed, because the town was socked in with a very heavy fog. The drive to work was slightly hairy, with several drivers being incredibly stupid (c'mon people, no brights in fog!). Once at my desk listening to the police scanner, it became evident that scary drivers were all over the valley. The worst one was up northwest of town, a little too far to go in the foggy dark for what might not be a good photo. The accident was car vs tractor, and the radio chatter suggested the tractor was upside-down. The next day, when I chatted with the sheriff's office with it, the incident was apparently a mix of the car driver going too fast for conditions (although the official I talked with said they were probably going the speed limit or under) and the tractor not having hazard lights on or effective reflective stickers (covered in dirt and worn out).
I got through deadline without killing anyone, and after lunch at home with Inkwell I drove out to the next town over to take photos of a balloon release. It was actually a nice break from the office, and much-needed. I headed back to get some work done before the press conference and got to see my publisher dressed as a pirate, complete with a real sword. I even took a nice photo for the company newsletter. The city "Trunk-or-Treat" was Thursday night, and our office had a pirate theme.
In the meantime, a little bit of detective work had resulted in us knowing what the press conference was about. I was told to go out and get a photo of the area the new hospital was to be built on. While I was out, I also got an advertising photo, which is something editorial is generally not requested to do. The publisher asked me, so I didn't hesitate. It was explained to me later by another person in the editorial department that it has caused problems in the office in the past when advertising asks editorial to take photos. I was unaware of the history and I'm sure the publisher is/was unaware as well. I'll have to see if anything develops from it.
The soon-to-be interim editor and publisher wrote up a scoop on the hospital and as soon as I got back with my photo they posted it online. The only name on the story online was my photo credit.
A couple of hours later I was at the hospital where the media was gathering along many city leaders, some of whom knew what was going on and some of whom did not. The school superintendent chatted to me and flattered me with the notion that I would have qualified to be the school's PR person, a role which I would not seek and don't think I'm even slightly qualified for. He knew what the announcement was, and as I was standing there with him the PR person for the hospital came up, very angry, and asked if I had written the story we posted online. She had it on her phone, and my name was in the photo credit, so she asked me. I truthfully said I had nothing to do with the story, that I'd only taken the photo. She was slightly mollified, but I felt very uncomfortable due to how angry she was. My co-worker who was supposed to cover the presser with me arrived... as did the publisher. Still dressed in his pirate outfit.
The press conference went as expected, with lots of information about the new hospital which is being built on some property that, when it was sold, raised a lot of speculation about what was going to go there. It was a dairy, and the location is pretty much ideal for lots of things due to it being really near the freeway on one of the city's two big exits. I heard everything: truck stop, outlet mall, retirement home, shopping center, grocery store, and, of course, hospital.
The publisher came up beside me and asked me if I had any questions to ask. I couldn't think of any. I realized a moment later that it was a test... he asked several very good questions that I had not thought of but wish I had. I'm still just a writer, I do not have the reporter instinct and I'm not entirely sure I can develop it. Four years I've been doing this job, and I still haven't figured out how to ask the right questions. For me that's worse than being a slow learner, that feels like not learning at all. It's enough to make me feel terrified about my future.
I will note that my publisher asked those questions while dressed as a pirate. I'm not entirely sure I could have pulled that off. Ever.
While my publisher was still standing next to me after the main business was done, the PR gal came up to my publisher and ripped into him about the early story, saying it was inaccurate. He took the abuse, and said we would fix it. He also said my co-worker had tried to reach her about it, but she hadn't responded to confirm what our sources had given us. Apparently there was a VIP tour earlier in the day, and my co-worker talked with at least two of the VIPs, both of whom gave us the information that the PR person said was inaccurate. My publisher calmly told her this while I stood rigid next to him listening and not looking. I was still feeling dumb about not having thought of those excellent questions, so I was a little shell-shocked. In fact, the entire event was incredibly demoralizing for me.
I stuck around to talk with some folks, including the hospital CEO, who jokingly claimed to have started some of the rumors about what the property was going to be used for himself. I was trying to get more information in my own way, but I didn't get much more than an earful about the publisher and how people weren't sure how he's going to fit in here in this town. The other thing I picked up was how happy people were to not have to hide what they knew about the property any more. I had hoped for some positives, but I just got more negatives and more demoralizing.
Thursday evening was really not pleasant. I was doing serious soul-searching about whether or not I'm really cut out to be a reporter. I had originally considered going out to the city's Trunk-or-Treat, but by the time I got home after the press conference all I wanted to do was find a dark place to curl up and cry.
Editor's Last Day
Friday was my editor's last day. We worked our way through deadline, getting things done, but ... frankly, the editor has been the soul of the office for quite some time. He was joyful and looking forward to his break, but I was feeling stages of grief. I got a call at the end of deadline from the local beauty school asking if I wanted to get a photo of them all dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz. I headed down there and got two good shots, one of which we Tweeted and the other will likely go in Monday's paper. I took another photo with my cell phone, and gave it to my husband for his blog.
We had a surprise lunch for the editor, and we did manage to surprise him, for the most part. Several people came to say farewell, and we ate and I ran home to feed Inky and get some purr therapy. I went back and said farewell to the editor and left just a bit early because I was going to the football game at the local high school later Friday night. I also had the notion that I could go to the school hubby-Eric was teaching at and possibly get some photos of kids in costumes for the Monday photo spread of Halloween fun. He was teaching at one of the two middle schools in the district, which happens to be right next to the all-kinder school, so I started at the all-kindergarten school and got a couple of fun photos, then went over to the middle school to pick up Eric and get a couple of other photos. It was fun.
Snip Snip Here, Snip Snip There...
Eric and I then headed out to get his car. Once home I told him about the beauty school costumes, and we decided, since it was early enough, to go get haircuts. Huzzah! Eric got his hair cut by the Wicked Witch while I got my hair cut by the Cowardly Lion.
I was lucky to get a good spot that night at the stadium, and I enjoyed the game. The local team has been doing much better this year than in the past, and it's fun to watch them play. I hope I got some good shots... I wasn't really sure. I stayed the whole first half and took some other photos, too, including a band member dressed as a shark. Right before halftime I was in the far endzone area trying to get a shot or two of the players headed my way, the area started to fill up with cheerleaders for the halftime show... zombie cheerleaders from the local Grid Kids program. I decided at that point to make a hasty exit before they attacked.
Eric and I had a restful morning on Saturday. I did a little Halloween decorating and finally got the bed in the guest room ready for my folks. We had a LOT of candy for Halloween, about 1,000 pieces donated by friends in Seattle. Eric ran out and got more and my parents brought some as well. We had more than 1,500 pieces, ready for a Saturday night Halloween.
Eric got a couple of pizzas from Papa Murphy's and my parents arrived in the afternoon. We were all set early in the afternoon for a pile of kids. Eventually they started to show up, although the first kids by asked if they could go in our back yard to recover a lost ball. We let them.
The flow of trick-or-treaters was steady, but not as extreme as last year. In fact, it was about the calmest Halloween we've had since we moved here, I think. Maybe the prime Halloween years are over. In any case, I'd guessimate between 700 and 800 kids, and we left the lights on until about 9:30 p.m. Definitely a much easier night than last year. Eric and I spent some time on the porch giving out candy, because it was a warm night despite a little bit of rain. I let Inkwell out of the upstairs room while we were still handing out candy because we were outside so much of the time.
Some child left a part of his ninja turtle costume on our porch. I left it out under the light in the hopes that someone would come back and get it. If it's still there on Monday, I might save it to put out next year as "all that's left of the child the monster under the house ate last year..."
My folks left this morning. The pass was very rainy yesterday, according to my parents. The driving rain was bad enough to make visibility difficult.
I didn't get any reviews written for today. Sorry. Eric and I did watch Doctor Who early this morning, and we also saw The Flash and Gotham earlier in the week. But I haven't read any comics or short stories. So I'll double-up the reviews next week.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Monday, October 26, 2015
Sunday, October 25, 2015
TV this week:
- Doctor Who: "The Woman Who Lived" - I have mixed feelings about this episode. V rawblrq gur pbaprcg bs n jbzna fghpx va ure yvsr, yvivat jvgubhg gur novyvgl gb qvr. V yvxrq ubj gung jnf rkcyberq ivn gur wbheanyf (ubj znal gvzrf bire gur lrnef qvq fur genafpevor gurz gb znxr gurz fb havsbez?) naq gur bowrpgf (gur synfuonpx gb snxvat ure bja qrngu jnf nzhfvat, abg fb zhpu gur bar nobhg ure puvyqera'f qrnguf). Jung V qvqa'g yvxr jnf gur yvba-qhqr. Vg jnf fgnaqneq Qbpgbe Jub ivyynva abafrafr, ohg vg jnf nyfb cerggl obevat. Frevbhfyl, n sver-oernguvat yvba-qhqr jvgu tybjvat rlrf? Fcner zr. Gurer ner fbzr arng guvatf va urer, rfcrpvnyyl gur ebyr Nfuvyqe qrpvqrf gb gnxr ba (urycvat gubfr yrsg oruvaq ol gur Qbpgbe). V vzzrqvngryl gubhtug bs gur tvey jub jnf hfrq ol gur Qnyrxf va Erzrzoenapr bs gur Qnyrxf, jub qrsvavgryl arrqrq gurencl naq uryc nsgre gung fgbel raqrq. Zl gubhtug jnf gung Nfuvyqe jbhyq unir orra gurer gb gnxr pner bs gur tvey. Anyway, this one left me feeling a bit melancholy, and I'm not really sure I liked it.
- Gotham: "Scarification" - A few plots in this episode... Jr'ir tbg gur evfr bs n sveroht, gur qrngu bs n pbc, gur abeznyvmngvba bs Altzn naq n punatr va Crathva'f "evtug unaq" zna. Gur rkcybqvat onq thl jnf bqqyl shaal (V sryg thvygl sbe ynhtuvat). Oevqtvg'f erfcbafr gb orvat oheag jnf ybtvpny, vs irel zhpu va yvar jvgu Tbgunz abezf. V nqberq gur vasbqhzc sebz Rqjvtr, pbzcyrgr jvgu synfuonpxf. Ybgf bs vagrerfgvat vasbezngvba gurer, vapyhqvat n yvax gung znxrf vg ybbx yvxr Gurb vf Nmenry, be ng yrnfg eryngrq gb uvz. Gur zbfg vagrerfgvat zbzrag, sbe zr, jnf ernyvmvat gung Crathva npghnyyl QVQ unir n cyna gb pbashfr Tnynina, naq gung uvf bire-gur-gbc cnenabvn jnf cneg bs vg. I don't adore this show, but it is holding my interest.
- The Flash: "Family of Rogues" - Lisa Snart asks Cisco for a favor... naq gurve eryngvbafuvc whfg qrirybcf sebz gurer. Rfcrpvnyyl nsgre Pvfpb fnirf ure sebz n oenva-obzo vzcynagrq va ure ol ure sngure. Naq trgf n avpr xvff sbe uvf rssbegf. Pvfpb vf ernyyl bar bs gur pbbyrfg punenpgref ba gur fubj (ab bssrafr gb Pncgnva Pbyq) naq vg'f avpr gb frr uvf qrprapl erjneqrq. Va guvf bar, V nyfb rawblrq gur qrirybcvat eryngvbafuvc orgjrra Wnl naq Pnvgyva, Qe. Fgrva'f pbagvahrq punatrf, naq Yrbaneq Faneg'f jvyyvatarff gb xrrc Oneel'f frperg. Rirelguvat frrzf gb onynapr va vg. Nqq va gur fhocybg nobhg Senapvar Jrfg'f erghea naq gur pbagvahrq fhocybg bs bssvpre Fcvibg gelvat gb jbex jvgu Wbr, naq gurer vf n ybg tbvat ba va guvf rcvfbqr. I'm still enjoying this show, and watching close for more fun moments.
- Arrow: "Restoration" - I'm finding Felicity to be the strength of this episode. Fur abg bayl vf ehaavat n znwbe pbecbengvba, fur'f nyfb jbexvat jvgu n fhcreureb grnz naq sbepvat gjb thlf gb fgneg gb gehfg bar nabgure ntnva. Fur'f gur qevivat sbepr oruvaq n ybg bs jung unccraf, naq ernyyl qbrf arrq n pbby pbqranzr. Gur G-fcurerf fubj hc, znxvat vg frrz rira zber yvxryl gung Phegvf vf Ze. Greevsvp (V zhfg'ir zvfurneq va gur ynfg rcvfbqr, V fjber ur fnvq uvf anzr jnf Zvpunry). Naq vg ybbxf yvxr Enl vf nyfb znxvat uvf pbagvahrq rkvfgrapr xabja. Gura gurer'f gur Ynhery naq Gurn fubj, bss ba na vyy-nqivfrq zvffvba juvpu unf anfgl erfhygf. Jura Oneebjzna fgnegrq gnyxvat nobhg n jvfr zna ba n uvyy, V gubhtug ur jnf xvqqvat. Tynq gb or evtug. Naq svanyyl, gur arj ivyynva jnf nyfb bs vagrerfg. Gnggbbf gung orpbzr erny. V'ir frra gung orsber fbzrjurer. Plenty to think about with this episode, but Felicity is definitely the boss.
DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
- Sep 9th
- Justice League United #13 - Well, I guess that last issue was it for Mera in the book. As for Vandal Savage, I wondered how the situation would play out after that flashback. Seems obvious now.
- Earth 2 Society #4 - I'm not really sure how Kara can blame Val for working on something he didn't understand while he was a prisoner kept away from almost every other person on the planet. Nor do I get why Batman in this book is such a complete jerk. More than usual.
- Arrow: Season 2.5 #12 - Final issue of this series... it was ok. Nothing super special. I don't mind the tv series, but the comic is even more superficial.
- Star Trek/Green Lantern #3 - Huh. Still not really my thing, but that final panel managed to get a little chill out of me anyway. The rebooted Star Trek universe is just too strange for me, I think. I don't recognize the characters by sight.
- Secret Wars 2099 #5 - I'm not even pretending to understand most of this. I just want the story to go back to what it was before. I'm not sure that's going to happen.
- Doctor Who 12th #11 - A pretty good done-in-one story featuring Clara at her most compassionate, helping somebody who ends up helping the Doctor. Not bad.
- Rebels #6 - Originally the final issue, Seth goes home to find his son grown up at six years old and doing fine without him. It's an interesting twist on the revolutionary war that I wouldn't have thought to examine. All told, a pretty good tale.
- Spongebob Comics #48 - All about Gary the Snail. Some fun stuff, but nothing too exciting. I liked the sea snail fact page.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Things I forgot to mention last week that bubbled up from the memory hole:
I had known for quite some time that I'd won an award at the Better Newspaper Contest run by WNPA, but I didn't know until Monday, Oct. 12, what I'd won. See, the awards ceremony was that previous weekend, and that's when they announced the winners. The first I knew what I'd won was when my co-worker who actually went to the conference congratulated me on my first place award. I'd checked over the weekend to see if WNPA had updated their website with the winners, but the information wasn't there. In case you missed it, I won first place in the state, in all four circulation categories, for a B&W sports action/feature photo. It's quite an honor, and it adds to my first-place feature photo in one of the smaller circulation categories from three years ago. I'm an award-winning photographer twice over, now. Yay, me. In addition, I won as part of the staff that worked on the two special sections that got second and third place awards. So I'm multi-award-winning journalist this year. Again, yay, me.
For the record, here's what I've won in the Better Newspaper Contest since I joined the Daily Sun News:
- 2012 - First Place - Color Feature Photo, Group II; Second place - Topical/Non-Tourism Special Section, Group II, as a member of the staff.
- 2013 - First & Third place - Topical/Non-Tourism Special Section, Groups I & II Combined, as a member of the staff
- 2014 - Second Place - Best Government Reporting, Group II, with co-workers John and Jennie
- 2015 - First Place - B/W Sports Photo-Action or Feature, Groups I, II, III & IV; Second & Third place - Topical/Non-Tourism Special Section, Group II, as a member of the staff.
Tuesday night (Oct. 13) while at the council meeting in Mabton, there was an executive session with action expected at the end. So I had to sit in the mosquito-infested courtyard. I wasn't entirely alone, though. A little black cat came up and rubbed against my leg. I gave it scritches, and it jumped up onto the bench next to me and demanded more petting. Then it climbed onto my lap, purring loudly. I told it I already have a black cat, and maybe it should go home. No collar. I was a little worried for its safety, but there wasn't much I could do. After I set it gently back on the ground, it proceeded to groom itself while sitting on my foot until the door to the council chamber opened and I was allowed back in. Then it sauntered off. The last I saw it was sitting under a streetlight delicately grooming a front paw as I drove home. Inkwell was furious when he smelt another cat on me. He claimed my shirt when I undressed for the night and curled up in it for hours.
About that photo I posted last week, of the skeleton playing the piano - yeah... the museum was being set up when I got there and they directed me to what they thought, and I agreed, was the perfect spot. I took my photo and showed it to the lady in charge, who looked closely and said, completely seriously, "You'd better take another shot. I think he blinked." The museum building is a perfect place for a scary tour, having served as a funeral home and morgue for quite some time. The folks at the museum had secured an old-fashioned "body bag" to use as a prop. It's basically a coffin-shaped wicker basket. When somebody died at home, which was common, they would place the body in the basket to take it to the funeral home. It was oddly chilling. And the basket was very nicely made and sturdy. A nice freaky thing for a deliciously scary nighttime tour.
Speaking of night, I finally got frustrated enough with not knowing what star/planet was glowing just below Venus each morning to look it up on Heavens-Above and was startled to discover I'd been looking at Jupiter and Mars. And if I strained a little, I could see Mercury almost on the horizon. That's four planets besides my own in one glance in the morning. Nice. I miss Jack Horkheimer, although the show he started is still going strong, it's just not quite the same without him. I've decided to embed Star Gazers on this blog on Mondays so I'll be sure to watch it myself.
Another interesting thing that happened last week... I was setting up a time to go visit Grandview High School to talk with the kids who are live-streaming high school sporting events. The teacher said to come during 7th period, so I had to write him a note that basically said, "Um, I don't know what time seventh period is...?" He apologized, saying he lives in the educational world and sometimes forgets not everyone does.
Huh. It's kind of amazing how much I remember once I have time to sit back and reflect. I guess not as much vanished down the memory hole as I expected.
Back to This Week
So, last Saturday, Inkwell attempted to wake up Eric about a half-hour before feeding time. Eric wasn't in the mood, and kicked Inkwell out of the bedroom and closed the door before getting back into bed and sleeping another two hours. Inkwell was NOT pleased with his humans. In fact, he was swatting at ankles for most of the morning.
For my part, I felt miserable, but the long sleep on Friday combined with a gentle sleep-in on Saturday morning helped me recover quite a bit from Friday morning. Eric made no demands on my energy... we watched some TV together and mostly relaxed. I got some dishes and bedsheets washed, but otherwise took it easy. Even the washing I took slow and steady to try to make sure I didn't get any more sick than I already was. Eventually I even got to the point where I could play with Inkwell a bit, though that took a lot of energy and he got bored quickly.
Sunday was equally lazy, although Eric pointed out that we somehow managed to get a lot of chores done for people who were doing nothing. I think it was all him, personally.
Monday morning I had a little problem that made me late to work. During the summer, I'm not paying much attention to what Eric is doing, since he doesn't have to be out the door as quickly as I do, if at all. During the school year, I expect him to be up and going about the same time as I am, so I tend to time what I'm doing based on what he's up to at any given moment. This is normally not an issue, because he's usually running close to my schedule. But on Monday, he got in the shower "late". Not late for him, mind, just late enough that I got it into my tiny brain that it was a half-hour earlier than it actually was. So I took my dear, sweet time... and was almost ten minutes late to work as a consequence. *sigh* If this were the first time this had happened, I would have forgiven myself. But I've done it before, and I fear I will do it again.
I knew my writing was suffering on Friday, I felt like I was wading through mud to get words onto the page. I found out on Monday just how bad some of my writing had been when I got back a couple of the assignments I had "finished" before leaving on Friday morning. Ouch. The editor made them bleed. Stupid, little mistakes all over. The stuff I usually catch. I really don't like being sick. It makes me a crappy (crappier?) writer. Deadline wasn't too bad, and I headed home for lunch and did some reading on a book I needed to review for Friday.
Bad News After Lunch
After lunch the other shoe dropped. We've had the new publisher for less than three weeks, and he's been taking a wait-and-see approach, trying to understand how the newsroom here is run before making any changes. So far, the impact of his presence has been small. However, that changed on Monday. He called a meeting of all the reporters Monday afternoon and he and the editor broke the news: The editor is calling it quits. The editor who has trained me for the last four years is headed off into retirement-land for a bit, although I'm sure with his nature he'll be working on something before the year is out. His final day as my editor, though, is Friday, Oct. 30.
That wasn't the bad news, although it was pretty depressing. I have known for some time that the editor wanted to quit. I just figured he would give it a few months under the new publisher before he left. The suddenness of his departure surprised and dismayed me, but the bad news is that the interim editor is one of my fellow reporters. This is not unexpected, but it does put me in a difficult position. We'll be down one reporter, because I'm going to assume the reporter stepping into the editor position will not want to cover meetings and such. We'll also be taking orders from someone who has been a colleague. The short summary of the situation is: I'm really not happy.
I want to write. I love to write. Writing is what I do, it's what I am. I don't want to deal with personnel issues. I don't want office politics to disturb me. I just want to write.
I wonder if I can learn how to freelance?
Anyway, after the meeting I stayed to finish some work, then took off for home where I promptly set about trying to destroy any thoughts I had in my head. I read a book I'm reviewing for the paper, played a little Doctor Who: Legacy, teased the cat and generally turned myself off for the night. I don't require drugs to get into a different mood: music and books work better for me. I managed to completely forget about it that night, which was what I was aiming for. Call me a coward, I just didn't care to face reality.
Reality is that I've been a reporter for four years under a single system. I know how to do *this* job, but I haven't been exposed to other ways of working. I want to learn, but there are easy ways to learn and difficult ways to learn. I'm as stubborn as the next person about change being forced on me, and this feels very much like a change I'm not ready for. I'm just not pleased. Hopefully, I'll get over it.
It wasn't until I was in the shower Tuesday morning that I remembered Monday's news. My morning soured after that, although I had no deadline problems or extra stress. After deadline, I headed to Grandview to visit Bill's Berry Farm for a possible photo feature.
Now, if you haven't heard of Bill's Berry Farm, it's a working farm that's also a tourist spot here in the Lower Yakima Valley. They are known for their seasonal flavors of donuts, and as soon as I mentioned I was going a co-worker handed me $20 and said "get donuts". I was amused.
I've been down to the farm once, but I didn't get donuts then, so I didn't know what the big deal was supposed to be. All I knew for sure was that I wanted a nice feature with kids in a pumpkin patch and the corn maze. So I headed out there and arrived at the same time as about a billion preschoolers and their parents.
I'm exaggerating slightly. But they were all over the place. Suddenly four people held up letters, "A", "B", "C" and "D" and the children flocked to the proper letter while the parents tagged after them (and in some cases dragged the children). I picked a likely-looking group and joined them. I asked the parents if it was ok for me to take photos of their kids, and there was absolutely no objection from anyone, so I hopped on the hayride with them and we all went out to the pumpkin patch. I got a few good shots, then allowed the hay ride to leave without me. I got a good look at the corn maze, and decided to head back to the main area, get the donuts, then go to the corn maze to get photos.
I mentioned to the gal making donuts that I'd never had any and showed her the $20 the co-worker gave me. She said that would get me two dozen, then gave me a fresh hot donut to try. I took a bite and was in culinary heaven. It was a pumpkin spice donut, and it was really good. I texted my co-worker and asked if she wanted two dozen and she texted back, "DO IT!" So I waited until the fresh donuts were made, put them in my car, drove down to the corn maze and went to get photos of the corn maze.
I had never been in a corn maze before. In fact, I didn't think much of them. How scary is a maze of corn? In this particular maze, children needed to find seven markers with pictures on them. I, on the other hand, needed to find children to take a photo of. So into the maze I went, reminding myself of the trick to getting out of a maze as I went. I shortly ran across a group at one of the markers and took my photo, then decided to continue further into the maze to see if I could get a better shot. Ha. That was a dumb decision.
The entire remainder of the time I was in the maze I didn't see another person. I could hear them just fine, just around the corner, only there was no corner. Just through that wall of corn and pumpkin vines, maybe. But I could see the trail I was on and the corn and the sky, nothing else. I started taking every left turn I found, which I'd been assured would eventually get me out of the maze, but it was a long slog. I think I ended up walking the entire perimeter of the maze before I finally found the exit/entrance again.
I don't think I'll be trying that again any time soon.
Once back to my car, I opened the door to a heavenly smell. My car was pumpkin spice donuts. It was amazing. I drove back to the office in pumpkin spice donut bliss. I didn't eat any, but I felt like I was rapidly gaining weight just smelling them. I was very popular once I arrived back at the office with the donuts, and I did indulge in a second one before I headed home for lunch. Mmmm.
After lunch I had an interview with a local vet for our veterans section. We ended up talking about a lot of things besides his service, but it was a good interview and I appreciated him taking the time.
Volleyball and Mariachi
After the interview I headed home for a short rest before the volleyball game. It was the local high school against one of the state powerhouses, so I wasn't expecting much... but it was way worse than that. It was difficult to watch after having seen some truly great players on my other teams this year. After a full set, I decided I had enough photos and wandered over to the mariachi concert to get the sight of volleyball out of my head. I went ahead and took a couple of photos there, as well. Always good to have potential page-fillers.
Once home I stayed up and waited for my other volleyball coach to call. It was a relaxing evening. I had to elevate my foot as my heelspur decided to make a dramatic return after I'd wandered the corn maze.
Wednesday morning wasn't too bad, except for the Rotary meeting right in the middle of deadline. I headed over to the hospital for the meeting only to learn there was no guest speaker. There'd been a bit of a muck-up, and two guest speakers had shown up the previous week. I listened to the various talk between members and such and got a photo of the student representatives as well. One person said my article about the Burke Boxes had inspired someone to sponsor the boxes for next year, which gave me an unexpected boost. I love hearing that good things happen thanks to my articles.
When I got back a co-worker was rushing out the door to a fire. Having the police scanner up in the office is really annoying, but we do sometimes hear about things we wouldn't otherwise. It often tells us stuff we don't need to hear, but every once in awhile there's relevant information.
We also got a call Wednesday morning from a couple who own two DeLoreans, asking if we wanted them to come by for "Back to the Future Day". Heck yeah! I arranged for them to show up for a photo-op in the afternoon. I got pretty stoked about it, and told Ileana on the production team so she could see them when they arrived. I was thinking about "posing" the cars near the Bonnie Dunbar statue (astronaut/future?), but co-worker John suggested the Museum to tie in with the time travel concept. I agreed, especially since the statue would be very difficult to arrange. The town doesn't have a proper clock tower, though if school was out the clock at the high school might have worked.
The girls (the three female reporters) went out to lunch on Wednesday, too, to compare notes on the new situation in the office and discuss decisions and complications. It's clear that none of us are happy about it. But we had a good whine-fest with our Chinese food.
After lunch I waited around for the DeLoreans to show after finishing most of the work I could do. While I was trying to work through other assignments, I heard the police scanner crackle and an officer say, "There's a couple of DeLoreans on Lincoln Avenue." Thus I knew they were on the way. I alerted the folks in the office who gathered up front, and we greeted them with cheers. Then Ileana and I rode over to the museum in the DeLoreans. Yes, I rode in a DeLorean on "Back to the Future Day". It was ... just cool. Just so satisfying on so many levels. It was a short ride, but it was like the perfect dessert... it just hit the spot.
Also, it's a very comfortable, if very low, seat. The ride was gentle and smooth. They said the DeLoreans are great touring cars due to the comfort, and said they've gone on a lot of trips in them. The biggest problem is that it usually takes them awhile to get going in the morning because so many people want to take photos of the cars in the hotel parking lots!
While we set up the photos, people kept stopping to take their own pictures. One guy got his picture then jumped in his car and raced away with a squeal of tires. He was back a few minutes later with his son and bemused wife.
With some difficulty I finally got the photos I needed for the paper, then we stuck around for a short time in the parking lot of the museum letting people look at the cars and take photos. Ileana and I basked in the glory. It really was totally cool in a 1980s sort of way. Ileana also took a rather impressive selfie in the car with the flux capacitor, while wearing the hat.
We walked the couple of blocks back to the office after the DeLoreans left to get to a showing of the movies in Yakima. The editor later told me that he'd gotten a call from the owner of the car who told him my coverage was the most accurate of the three local papers that had stuff on them during the week. I noted that my coverage was probably also the shortest... but my editor was impressed anyway.
After the DeLorean ride, the rest of the day was a let-down. Well, not really. I was floating for awhile with the sheer joy of having ridden in a DeLorean on *that* day. I finished the book I was reviewing and slept the sleep of the just that night. By Thursday the excitement wore off, which was good, because I had a long trip Thursday morning after deadline. During "down time" I was able to finish my book review - that's how long I have to wait sometimes for my police logs in the morning. I was still in a good mood through deadline, and when my co-worker Julia and I had both finished all our morning assignments (including the DeLorean photos) we headed out to Bickleton.
Ah, Bickleton. It's not really that far away as the crow flies, but it's a longer drive due to twisting roads up into the hills. Bickleton is a small town, sort of, as it's not incorporated. We cover their schools and other major events along with the Goldendale newspaper. On Thursday, we headed out to report on the town getting a water system.
Before the water system, residents had to have their own wells. That's all good if your well-water stays healthy, but there have been more and more problems locally with nitrates in water and other issues. The folks in the town have been working for seven years at getting this system, so it was a big deal. Julia and I sat through the presentation about the water system, then went out and got photos of the reservoir and the construction on the fire department, had lunch, then headed back to the office.
Once back at the office, we had a little time to piece together a story. I had an appointment in Grandview that wasn't at a set time, so as soon as I could I dashed out the door. The interview was with a woman who is opening a dance studio, and the work she's done on the building is impressive. She and I had a good chat, and then I went home and pretty much fell over from exhaustion. I had to stay up and wait for my coach's call, but after that I feel into a very deep sleep.
Answering to the Scanner
I woke to the alarm on Friday morning. I usually am awake before the alarm, but Friday... nope. It was the alarm intruding on a dream that got me up. I got to work in good time and zipped through my corrections. I was just starting on the police log when a call came over the scanner of a structure fire. It was on a road that was totally unfamiliar to me, so I Google'd it. I realized it is actually fairly near, so I checked with the editor. He gave me the go-ahead, so I drove out that way.
The place I was headed is near Emerald Road, which winds through hops fields on our side, then becomes a road cut into a hillside as it reaches the next town over. It's also near the Yakima River, which means that at 7:30 in the morning in the fall it's very foggy. Oddly, the fog-banks were very well-defined, too, so I would drive through a clear-ish morning and then up ahead the road would be blocked by a cloud. As I got nearer to where I thought the fire must be, I went into a fog bank and started to feel frustrated about finding the place. Then suddenly I was in the open again, and right in front of me I saw the billowing clouds of dark smoke on the hillside above the road.
It wasn't hard to find from there. The location was up a gravel road, and when I got close enough to see the fire truck I pulled off the road as far as I could do safely, and walked the rest of the way in. It's a darn good thing I parked where I did, too.
When I arrived, there was one firefighter and one truck. Just one. Nobody else. I had my camera snapping away as soon as I was in sight of the fire. It was a heart-breaking sight. The house was completely engulfed in flames, totally involved. There were three folks on the road watching the fire, and I walked over. As I approached, the woman came over to me and explained that she'd called emergency services after spotting smoke coming from the garage. She said there had been a dog in the house, and it hadn't gotten out.
One of the men turned out to be the owner of the house. He said his son lived there, but nobody was in the house at the time of the fire. More fire engines started to arrive. Once they had a couple more hoses on the thing, they were able to knock it down. My car was parked just barely outside the zone of the fire trucks.
After I'd gotten some good shots, I called the boss and suggested he hold a spot on the front page for this photo. Then I took a photo of the fire with my phone and tweeted it to the newspaper Twitter account. It was not easy to turn my car around and get out of the area. There were just a few too many emergency vehicles by the time I left. I counted seven trucks and a police car. I passed another coming in as I left the scene.
Back at the office, I stopped to show the editor the pictures. He was chatting with the publisher, and they had me pick out two shots for the front page. I headed back to give Ileana the memory card and she noted, "you smell like smoke."
Once that adventure was done, cutlines written and in the file, the scanner woke up again. This time the fire was in town. Another possible structure fire, fairly near my house! I drove out there quickly. The fire was at an apartment building. One of the four buildings in the complex had burned down not too many years ago, but when I got there it was clear the fire wasn't in the same building that had burned before. I arrived before the fire department and was stunned to find people still in the building, ignoring the fire alarm. One kid asked me "should we all be getting out of the building?" and I think I also screamed "Yes!"
There was a woman in the window of the apartment above where the fire was supposedly in. She started yelling in Spanish that the fire was below her. I told her she needed to get out of the apartment. I had a woman who speaks Spanish tell her that. The woman told her, then turned to me and said, "She doesn't really walk at all." I was stunned and half-ready to go up and haul the woman down over my shoulder. I could smell smoke, and if there was really a fire, she was in a heckuva lot of danger. Then the fire dept arrived and I summed up what I knew to the fire chief quickly. He was in the supposedly flaming apartment in moments, and came out again looking less concerned. After he talked with the apartment manager and the woman upstairs for a few minutes, he gave some orders to his fire truck and crew, then came over to me.
There was a fire. It was in a pan on the stove. The woman in the upstairs apartment smelled the smoke and called the apartment manager. *first oddity, why call the apt manager first?* The apartment manager came over to check after awhile, and then went into the downstairs apartment. *second oddity, why not call the fire dept. if there's a risk of fire?* After seeing smoke, the apartment manager searched the apartment for the source, found the oven, and turned off the stove. *third oddity, why on earth would you go into what you think is a burning apartment, and keep going when you see smoke?!?* Add in the fact that a woman who apparently can barely walk is in a second-floor apartment, and I'm still shaking my head in utter disbelief at the whole thing.
In any case, the firemen entered the apartment that had the stove and checked for any other dangers, then set up a fan to clear out the smoke. The fire chief and I chatted a bit. He said the three older buildings in the complex have no sprinklers, so they take calls at this place pretty seriously. I showed him my photos of the earlier fire, since he hadn't gone out to it. Then I headed back to the office, still shaking my head at people who seemed to have no common sense at all.
I wasn't at the office all that long before another call came across the scanner. A head-on collision just north of town. I headed out again, letting the editor know where I was going. I got passed by an ambulance on the way, but I made fairly good time and was able to park near the wreck but still out of the way and get some photos of a victim being loaded up in an ambulance. I talked with the fire chief again. I said, "No offense, but I hope I don't see you again today!" He said, "Now you know why we need more people!"
The investigation still needs to be finished, but from what I saw, it looked like a teenager in a pickup truck didn't stop at a stop sign and was hit just at the front of his vehicle by the car on the road with the right-of-way. The teenager wasn't seriously injured, but the driver of the other vehicle was taken to the hospital. I heard him answering questions from the paramedics, but it sounded like he didn't remember what happened. From the path of the car and the marks on the road, it looked to me like the guy with the right-of-way attempted to swerve when he saw the truck run the stop sign, which resulted in him doing a terrifying u-turn into a dirt lot. A few feet to his left and he would have hit a pump. A few feet to his right and he would have crashed through a ditch. In any case, I'll be checking the police logs on Monday for more information, and to see if my guess is correct.
Lunch was quick, and I was back at work and getting through Monday's stuff before I knew it. Once the day was done, I went home and pretty much crashed. I slept about three hours, maybe three and a half, before I woke up and had dinner. Eric left this morning for Seattle, while Inky is patrolling the house protecting me, and sometimes coming up to inform me it's feed-the-cat time. I expect to be extremely lazy today.
A couple of odd notes for the week...
Inkwell knocked down my Halloween flag from the front window and ate the string that was holding it up. He's had an upset stomach from it, and has been passing "cat seeds" that are tied together. There are times I really wonder why we have a cat.
A woman came in looking for the paper that had photos of the mariachi band. Apparently my page-filler actually sold an extra paper. Yay, me!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
If there was ever a day I wanted to actually ride in a DeLorean, that would be October 21, 2015. Anyone who knows Back to the Future would know why.
Guess what I did today?
Better quality photos will be in tomorrow's newspaper. Now that we're in the future...