Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Week in Review

Sick Start

Well, Saturday was a lazy day and Sunday... Sunday was even lazier, if that was possible. The biggest problem is that I could feel myself coming down with something. I made Eric get some orange juice, which I only really drink when I'm sick, then guzzled it for the rest of the long weekend.

Tuesday started out bad, with nightmares crawling out of bed with me and sticking to my skin until after I'd had my shower. I once again felt massively constrained by the lack of time to get extra stuff done in the morning. A half hour on my computer each morning just isn't enough.

I headed off to work in a foul mood, which didn't improve once in the office. Everything was going wrong. My cubicle-mate was sick, so I did corrections for her. My own pieces needed multiple corrections, enough to make me pull my hair. The editor completely misunderstood a statement that I thought (and still think) was extremely straightforward and plain. I got the sheriff's log done late and then the editor pointed out that I'd left out the contents of a press release he'd sent me earlier. Gah. I still felt awful from the cold, so I was having a difficult time dealing with it all.

Big Eyes

Luckily, the stress eased a bit after deadline, and I went off to do an interview with the Grand Marshal. Lunch was also quiet, so I felt a bit better when I got back to work in the afternoon. After a surprisingly productive couple of hours, I headed out to my eye doctor appointment at 2 p.m. I got my eyes dilated and had the health checked... my eyes are healthy and happy and my six-year-old glasses are apparently too strong for my eyes! Of all the unexpected twists! My eyesight is actually getting "better" with age. The eye doctor said I'm taking good care of my eyes by not forcing myself to read with glasses on (my near-sightedness means I have perfect vision for reading, amusingly enough: I'm a born reader) and taking frequent breaks from reading on my computer at work. So hey, that was good.

Driving home from the eye-doctor was not pleasant. I will need some sort of shades to go over my glasses eventually, since I'm not going to bother with transition lenses again. But with my eyes dilated, it was literally painful to drive even with the temporary shades on. My eyes just really hated the sunlight. Once home, I quickly took an eye-selfie and blogged it, because it's just cool-looking enough. My eyes were not quite adjusted back to normal by the time I went to my council meeting, but were almost fine by the time the meeting was over. I say "almost" because on the way home, either every approaching car had its brights on, or my eyes were still a bit sensitive.

The biggest problem with Tuesday night's meeting was that the council members apparently hadn't read their packets yet, so when each new item was reached, the three (out of five) council members in attendance sat quietly reading for a few minutes before any action was taken. Otherwise, the meeting would have been over pretty quickly.

Another Bad Morning

Once home I got to sleep more quickly than I intended or expected, but I woke up repeatedly in the night feeling sick. Wednesday morning was absolutely horrible. I felt nauseous and tired and grumpy, but had to get through another difficult deadline. First I had to write up the council report and briefs, which wasn't too hard but took me considerably longer than I expected. The police logs were thankfully short. Then I got to work on Wednesday's stuff.

I had an interview at 10 a.m. at the all-kindergarten school in the district, which went well enough. For some reason I kept thinking of ways to defend the school from an attacker when I went in, which was a strange subject for my brain to get stuck on. But I guess I actually worry about that sort of thing. With 510 kindergarteners in one building, I suppose it's only natural to be concerned about their safety. In any case, better minds than mine are working on that problem, so hopefully the kids are safe.

After the interview I headed home to lunch, which was calming and helped get me prepared for the afternoon. After lunch I dropped by the pot shop to talk with the owner about court dates and what I mistakenly thought was a change in lawyers (he's suing the city for banning recreational marijuana businesses) and discovered they have an in-house glassblower who makes the pipes they sell (half the business is open and sells pipes and novelties, the other half - the heavily secured area where they intend to sell recreational marijuana - is shuttered). When I got back to the office and told the editor about it, he decided we need a nice feature story about the glassblower, so I'll be back there soon enough.

For the record, no. I don't use marijuana. I hope to heaven I never get sick enough that I feel like I have to try it for medical reasons, and I have no need of drugs or alcohol to get into weird moods. But I'm not opposed to it in general any more than I'm opposed to alcohol - which I don't drink - or tobacco - which I don't smoke. In short, don't bother me with it and I don't care what you do in the privacy of your own home.

Idiot Day

Later that afternoon while I was talking to the folks in the back shop, one of them told me I'd misidentified the coach in my football photo. That was a neat trick, as I'd asked the superintendent who the guy was. Apparently the superintendent got confused because several of the coaches look very similar in height and weight, and this guy was wearing a hat. In any case, I felt like an idiot about it.

The Miss Sunnyside court came in for their "farewell interview" with my co-worker, and brought big bags of Halloween candy with them to present to the newspaper. We spent the rest of the week eating entirely too much yummy candy for our own good.

I had a relatively peaceful evening, my last for awhile. I actually caught up with the stuff I wanted to do online, although I didn't get around to blogging, and thought I would have a nice peaceful night. Ha. I had very strange dreams that I've managed to mostly forget, except for one that involved copious amounts of blood (my own) and one that involved my cat's fur turning different colors. Oddly enough, the cat dream was far more distressing than the blood dream.

Thursday morning was another unpleasant morning. Inkwell, perhaps sensing my distress at my cat dream, meowed in my ear to try to get me up to feed him about five minutes before the alarm went off. Then raced away when I actually got up. For once I didn't need all my online time to get caught up as much as I wanted to, and had a little more time to relax before heading off to work. Unfortunately, my eye had flashes swimming across it, making it hard to see clearly. Once I got to work it took about a half an hour for my vision to clear up enough to really concentrate.

A co-worker said he'd gotten an email from the head football coach about the article, complaining about some small problems in the article itself and the misidentification in the photo. I felt stupid again. We ran a correction, which always makes us grumpy.

Ready for Friday

After deadline I finished a set of assignments for next week. With an all-day event on Friday, I wanted to have as much done ahead of time as humanly possible. Eventually I was waiting on a single correction from the editor, which he was too busy to do, so he told me to go home, since I was taking photos at a volleyball game that night.

The game was between two of the teams I'm covering this year, conveniently enough. That means I was able to meet the coach I didn't know and talk with the coach I did know. It was played in the local Christian School's gym, which has no air conditioning. This normally isn't too big a deal, but there's always one or two volleyball games where the building is so hot and sweaty that everyone inside perspires and makes it into a giant sauna. Thursday night was one of those nights.

It was bad enough that my glasses started to fog up fairly soon into the game, and I wasn't moving all that much. Yes, I move around to try to get the best possible shots, but I wasn't playing the game. It must have been a hundred times worse for the players.

My timing was extremely off, and my photos were not my finest. It'll get better later in the season, but at the moment I felt like I was brand new at it for a bit. I eventually got into a rhythm and my photos got a little better, but I'm not at all satisfied. I need to practice and I need to find the right settings for indoor gyms.

The games themselves were very good, and much closer than the final score indicated. The Christian School has a powerful team with a long history of success, whereas Mabton has struggled consistently over the years. However, Mabton has a great coach and has been improving, so they put up a good fight. Of special note was the "game point" after the three sets with the Christian School. It was one of the longest volleys I've ever seen in any volleyball game, going back and forth and getting the audience more and more excited. Then Mabton slipped up and everyone thought the game was done, but one of the refs said a Christian School player had made an illegal hit of some sort, and it went to game point with Mabton serving. The serve didn't get over the net, which was disappointing, but it meant we could finally leave that sauna of a gym, so I wasn't too sad. Besides, three years ago Mabton would never have scored double-digits against the Christian School: Thursday night they managed it in every set, and took the lead early in the second set.


I was in early on Friday to go through the photos and determine if there were any worth printing. I only found two I wanted to use, although I took some serving shots and coach shots just in case none of the action shots came out. Then I tried to get everything I could done before taking off for the all-day forum about leadership. I actually managed to get through most of it before I left.

The leadership forum flyer said it started at 9 a.m. and ended at 3:30 p.m. Well, the registration actually started at 8:30 a.m., so I came in almost late. I sat in the back row because I didn't want to distract people when I got up and took photos. I was also clearly outnumbered, 50-1, by intelligent leadership types. I swear, every person in there was a cool, calm professional type who totally had their lives together. From my point of view. That they all happened to be Latino/Latina as well was just an awesome addition. The forum was, to a large extent, about getting Latinos to take the next step and run for public office. As a person who cannot claim to be a leader, and certainly not Latina (my extract is pure Northern European), I was fascinated but not inclined to take any of it upon myself. There was a great exercise about introducing yourself that I did take to heart and hope it will help me in the future, but otherwise I was mostly just taking notes from a reporting perspective and not a personal perspective.

The special lunch speaker was Washington state Secretary of State Kim Wyman. When she started talking about voting rights and trying to get people registered, I started to assume she was a Democrat, even though I know she is Republican. It was strange to hear a Republican echoing the belief that everyone deserves a vote and it should be easier, not more difficult, to register and vote (instead of the tired old lies about voter fraud I usually hear from Republican-leaning people). However, when she talked about the nitty-gritty of her job it became clear that she loves what she does. Her passion is elections. That was a fun moment for me. Any time a person who truly loves a subject talks about it, the result is pure magic. This was one of those times.

Another fun moment was when I realized that our representative to the state legislature was sitting right behind me at the food table. He also got up to talk: basically introducing himself to the crowd of powerful Latinos and Latinas. As the county is trending toward a majority Hispanic population, it's not a bad idea to listen to those who represent that community and culture.

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing more Latino representation on local city councils and school boards. It was one of the more shocking things to discover when I got here eight or so years ago: despite having a majority in the town, there were no Latinos on the city council. It's gotten a little better, but it's still disgraceful. How can a city council properly represent the people when there are no members of the council from the majority culture? How can people expect to connect when they self-segregate? I have always believed that the United States is strongest when it embraces all the cultures within its borders instead of marginalizing or minimizing some. Every time people in this country discriminate they weaken themselves and the nation. In order to have a strong country we have to have everyone as a part of it. I suppose I still believe in the old "Great American Melting Pot" and " great to be an American and something else as well." But I digress. I could write a lot about this subject, but it's all fairly meaningless. There's plenty of "white" voices in the debate. I want to hear from others.

The biggest, perhaps even the only, problem with the forum was that they had not planned for ANY breaks. There was supposed to be a 15 minute break before lunch to grab lunches and get resettled, but that didn't work as planned. The 15 minute break after lunch was taken up by the unexpected guest speaker. None of the other panels had any breaks. They just went from subject to subject. People slipped out of the room to use the restroom, but then they missed stuff. It really needed some down time, if only to allow people to network a bit since that was a BIG part of the subject of the meeting.

Friday Night Lights

In any case, I was wiped when the meeting ended and I headed back home. I got home and realized that I still had a football game to shoot, but all I wanted to do was collapse. I ended up taking a two-hour nap before going to the game.

I'd never seen 8-man football before. I was once again taking pictures of Christian School athletes, but boys this time instead of girls. I got to the game a few minutes early and chatted with a couple of parents who seemed a little surprised to see me two nights in a row. Then game time, and I set up on the 25-yard line looking at the Christian School's receivers for kick-off. I focused on number 14, he was the farthest back. The kick bounced a couple of times, then 14 picked it up an ran outside, toward me. Great! I snapped a bunch of shots as he got closer and closer... then he passed me and was too close for the long lens. I followed him with the camera into the end zone, but didn't snap any more shots. As the team celebrated the touchdown, I quickly looked at the photos - I had my shot, for sure. But I'm a professional, so I stuck around a bit longer instead of leaving after the first play, just to get a couple of different images.

Still, I'm fairly sure one of those outside run shots will be gracing our sports pages on Monday.

The game is different with only eight guys on the field per team. A LOT more running, and throws have a good chance of resulting in a score, so they get better protection. I'd love to go to a game when I have some energy some time and watch it through. The differences are notable, but it's still football.

I watched the game, but I also noticed three young girls sitting on the sideline in the grass. Finally I walked over to them and explained why they shouldn't be on the field (basically, it boils down to the danger of them getting run over by football players who cannot see them and run over them during a play). I told them that I have no authority and wouldn't bother them again, but I thought they ought to know why they shouldn't be there. When I noted the size of the players and the cleats, one of the girls got a terrified look on her face and told the others that she'd been wearing soccer cleats and stepped on her mom's bare feet. The trio retreated to the safety of the stands to discuss the gory results of stepping on mom's feet with cleats and the dangers of getting accidentally stepped on by football players. Whew. I do like it when children understand reason. Even if they then start talking about bloody feet. Euww.

The score was 22-0 in favor of the Christian School when I finally decided I had enough shots to go home. I tromped off the field, watching the school run another good play. The team they were playing is in its second year, so no one expects them to win. But one of the parents said that doesn't mean they aren't going to be "scrappy" and play hard. They weren't doing well against the Christian School, but they were definitely playing hard.

I don't recall much after getting home. I fell asleep quickly and slept in a long time this morning. The weekend is supposed to be quiet, so I'll try to relax and get some reading done. Monday I'll be right back into the grind. So I need to recover as much as I can while I can.