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Oreo's Crumbs

Oreo is my middle name, literally. The crumbs dropped here are just some things I need to share.

Updated: 2018-01-16T00:53:44.445-05:00


Four Years...


It's been over four years since I wrote anything here.

Now I've come to a place in life where I wonder if I can make a go at writing professionally. I think I might start trying to work something out and get into a habit of writing again. I may not be the next Lewis Grizzard, but maybe I can scratch out some thoughts and get someone to pay me for them.

For those who wondered why I stopped blogging, it just came down to time. The only time I really had to write was late in the evening, and if I was going to spend a few hours doing something, I was going to play games or catch up on shows.

It looks like I might have a bit more free time soon, so I'm trying to find something to fill it with that will be worthwhile.

"The Future. Always in motion it is. Difficult to see." - Yoda

Next Generation


Whew, there's a lot of dust in here. *cough, cough* Not that anyone is paying attention to this blog anymore, but I'm on vacation and I've got some thoughts on the future of video games.

I watched the Microsoft reveal of the Xbox One live, on my lunch break. I liked a lot of what I saw, but I had reservations. I have been on-board since the first Xbox, and after my Sony HDTV crapped out after just a few years, that company has proabably gotten the last cent it will ever get from me.

I rarely buy games when they first come out, and I only buy consoles after they drop in price. I hardly have time to play anymore, and Halo 4 has shaken my faith that Microsoft can carry the torch Bungie handed them. Most of what's been floating around the gaming press is interesting to me, but for the most part not relevant, as I plan to wait at least a year to get a new console. That being said I wanted to crow about correctly prediciting the cost of the new console.

I didn't put it in writing, but I did tell a coworker that I thought the Xbox One would have an MSRP of $500. This week that was confirmed, but it seems to be a surprise to many gaming writers. To me it only made sense, and the reason they are charging $500 is because they can't get away with $1,000.

I don't know of any other device on the market that will do what the Xbox One will, assuming it does everything they say it will. Voice and gesture command of the entire enterainment center through one device. Who wouldn't want that? I'd prefer if it would act as a cable box and DVR, too, but Blu-Ray and instant switching between movies, games and TV, without fumbling for a remote, seems almost worth it to me, and that's where I think the analysts missed the boat.

If it only played games and apps, then pricing it like the PS4 is sensible, but it's basically a kind of A/V receiver, (albeit one that you might connect to an actual receiver) and those are easily in this range. They've still got a lot of PR problems to fix but by the time I decided to upgrade, that will be ancient history in internet terms.

Miles to Go?


People in Baton Rouge are crazy, especially when it comes to LSU.

Tiger Mania has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. I haven't been keeping up with the Bayou Bengals, but when I heard the fans were coming down hard on the coaches, I had to find out why. Hearing allegations of poor clock management and poor play calling sounds like some heartbreaking losses were stacking up for the Tigers, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out they were undefeated at the time.

Only in Baton Rouge could you find a mass number of fans unhappy with a 7-0 start to the season. Just a few years ago they were cheering Les Miles for his gutsy play-calling on his way to LSU's second BCS championship of the decade. Now those same fans are berating that same style; I guess it's making the game too interesting for them.

I've only watched a couple of games this season, and only half-heartedly at that. What I've see from Miles and his coaches is solid work. In the Auburn game, it wasn't anything the coaches did that led to that loss. The defense played a great game to keep the score close, and that game showcased some of the most outstanding punting you'll probably see all year. Auburn had to fight for nearly every yard of turf, most times starting on their own goal-line.

It was the play of the offense that let everyone down in that game. The plays called were dead on, as were many of the passes, but key throws were dropped by receivers that should have been able to catch them. Open men dropping balls that, if caught, would have meant serious yards, and maybe more points.

In the end the defense spent too many minutes on the field and were worn down by the stellar play of the probable Heisman Trophy winner for this year. LSU fans will try to blame the coaches, but they're not on the field. If the players can't get their heads in the game, the coaches can't step in and play for them.

I'm a fan of Les Miles. He seems to be a decent man who cares about the players in his charge, and has faith in those players to make the plays. Otherwise he wouldn't call the fake punt or go for it on 4th-and-1. I'd love to see more coaches like Miles, who bring excitement to the game, and I'd hate to see anyone fired over the fickle nature of the fans.

The Dood.


A birthday post from a good friend triggered some nostalgia. "The Dude abides." - The Big Lebowski.Over the past few months, I've been catching up on content generated by one Wil Wheaton. He's a terrific writer and stories like his are what I hope to one day commit to the bits and pixels that make up this blog. He's a few years older than I, and as I read his work, I see his footprints on the path to maturity that I am walking. It could be the same for all 30-somethings of our generation, but I find it comforting that someone else has had nearly the same feelings and been able to express them in such an eloquent way.He has also been blogging for a few years longer, and has a rich catalog of prior material to troll through for inclusion in his podcasts and books. I have little doubt that he will find himself, in his later years, with the extraordinary undertaking of culling from scores of missives, those stories to include in his memoir. His children will also have the gift of a written account of who he is and why. I would like the same for mine.Remember Spin-jas? I guess their closest corollary would be Bakugan or something like that. They were these little tops with ninja torsos that loaded into handheld, spring-loaded, launchers. In a small arena, the two gladiators would whirl like the Tasmanian Devil, gliding toward each other to impact briefly and fly away, with the winner being the last one remaining in the ring. Today I found this to be a metaphor for my experience with D&D, which was the subject of the Radio Free Burrito episode I was listening to at the time.Throughout my formative years, I would have fleeting encounters with Dungeons and Dragons, which were just enough to make me aware of it, but I had no way of getting into the game. I remember nights at my grandmother's house where my uncle and his friends were gathered around a folding card table, the intensity of their focus and enjoyment drawing me to them the way a gas giant attracts a new moon. I think I was in first or second grade at the time, and way too young to play with teenagers, much less grasp the fundamentals of the game. I can still see my uncle's character sheet, a jumble of numbers and words in a format that made no sense to me then, but in which I would now be able to see a fully realized character. It's like 'The Matrix,' where they look at the symbols crawling down the screen and see a blonde, brunette, or redhead.The next flash is watching the D&D cartoon on Saturday mornings and cheering on the party in their struggle against Venger. Again I'm in my grandmother's house, but this time in the den, and I have not a care in the world.A third instance is the movie 'E.T.,' which to this day can still crit against my will stat to sell me a bag of Reese's Pieces, but didn't have a lasting effect on my wisdom where D&D is concerned.When the Third Edition Ruleset came out, my group of friends began to get together to play. Two of the guys used to play all the time in high school, but for the rest of us, it was our first campaign. Andy was the Dungeon Master, and he made it a great experience for all of us. I wasn't able to make it for every session, and I missed out on some fun nights, from the sound of it.One of those nights had a twist thrown into it. Andy had created a drinking game tailored specifically for us. He took each mannerisms unique to each person, and certain group interactions, and made up some cards with each one. Each person that night was required to pull one from the deck, which would be their secret drink trigger. I wasn't there to play, but I have heard tales of this night that had me in stitches, and still bring a smile to my face as I think of them. The greatest card, from my point of view, was the one based on me. It is called the Curse of the Cajun Surfer, and is based on my overuse of the term 'dude', which sounds more like 'dood' when I say it. I consider this the greatest, because even though I wasn't there to t[...]

Days of the New(s)


So, it's been two months since I dropped my last crumbs, and I need to get my writing groove back.It's like a muscle, and I feel that if I neglect it any longer, it'll atrophe and become more of a vestigial appendage. I got to reading some of my earlier material, and I want to connect with that same gonzo columnist style I tried to emulate then. It could have something to do with reading an issue of Car and Driver while waiting for a vehicle inspection to finish. The guys writing that magazine have ways of making words talk. Another inspiration has been Wil Wheaton's work, both on his blog and in his books, which has been really great to read. As a matter of fact, I'm listening to his podcast, Radio Free Burrito, right now. With that out of the way, let's get to the real post.The new year has brought about new changes to the 39 Newsroom. In the first month of the year I was working a dayshift on Saturdays, but the dayside reporter was taking her leave to complete the gestational cycle of her progeny. Instead of assigning someone to cover that shift, the powers that be decided it would be better for me to turn natpacks on those days. In those four weeks I did more of those than I had in the entire nine years of my career. I shared one of them in a previous post, and I'll collect the rest of them here.Bringing Ice to LifeSprite Step-offCirque Dreams Auditions U.S. Marshall’s Jewelry AuctionMaybe I should embed those, but it's the quickest way for me to get this done, right now, so that's what you get.In the weeks after doing these stories, I got into a funk, which took me a while to figure out. What was happening during this time is that everyone was getting new equipment as we transistioned to our HD workflow. This rollout was kind of slow, and I was one of the last to get new stuff. That was fine, but what was getting me down was that, with the new HD gear, all the SD video I was shooting was only good for that day's story. Here's a little inside baseball as to why this bothered me.We in the news business have a saying, "You're only as good as your next story." The work I do today pretty much has no point past it's final frame of video in the newscast. That's our blessing and our curse. If we do a great story, we want that moment to last forever, but if it's just a cluster of a day, assuming I didn't destory the newscast, we get to do it all over again tomorrow. For me as a photojournalist there was a subconcious caveat to this. The video we shoot today becomes the file we pull for years after. Need a shot of kids in a classroom? Pull some file. What happens when a station moves to HD is that SD file becomes less useful, only to be used if doing an update to an old story. What was happening is that I was shooting video that wouldn't even be considered for file, because it was SD, so it had no life past it's airing in the newscast.As I said above, this was subconciously affecting me, and it only clicked when someone asked if the great video I shot that day (of kids in a classroom, no less) was HD or SD, because they were looking to build the HD file library. Once I figured it out, I was able to shake it off and life got back to normal.Then I got my new gear. I traded in my large Sony Beta SX for a babycam, a Sony EX3 XDCAM. For the next couple of months I would figure out how to bend it to my will, and I can do most anything I want with it, except zoom into something a block away. I also was able to divest myself of the DNE-700 edit system, and take delivery of a new 17" MacBook Pro, loaded with Final Cut Studio and unlimited creative potential. Now my limitations are the lack of training on the system and time.I've not become an Apple devotee, but damn if that sexy slab of silver hasn't become as natural for me to use as my camera. I want one of my own, to be sure, but don't know if I can justify the expense. I'll have to start my own business, I think, just so I can have an excuse[...]

The Thermostat


Two weeks ago was a cold day in Hell. Tonight it's 40 below.

In retrospect the Colts never had a chance. Oh, it looked like they had things well in hand in the first half of the game, but that was just to keep people watching. The Saints have been a 'team of destiny' the whole season, and that wasn't about to end on Super Bowl Sunday. The team from Indianapolis wasn't just playing against the men on the field, but the whole population of the Who Dat Nation.

Those fans are spread across the globe, and, from what I hear, even hold positions in the Vatican. I didn't see any Colts colors in the pews at morning mass, but I was proud to see people attending in jerseys and t-shirts matching those my family of 3 were wearing. According to sources who witnessed it, the priest in Egan, LA stood before his flock - and removed his robes. Beneath his vestments was a shirt revealing where his loyalties lay, and a horseshoe was nowhere near it. He delivered his entire homily, proudly displaying his fleur-de-lis, and re-robed before performing the rest of the mass.

I read a tweet this week that said, "Unless you're from Indianapolis, if you aren't pulling for the Saints, you have no heart." That could be a little strong, but this country loves an underdog, and the Saints were mainly given lip-service when discussing their chances for the win.

I'm too young to remember the Archie Manning years, but realized in the last two weeks that it doesn't matter. This is the Drew Brees era, and I count myself lucky to play witness to the Manning of my generation. It is a story that will grow into legend. A man who was injured and looking to rebuild joins a team in a city that is broken and looking to rebuild. In the process he realizes why God's hand has led him to this point in his life. He has come to New Orleans to give the people of the city hope. Not the empty hope for a 'change' that others have promised in recent years, but true hope that the impossible is just a word in a dictionary.

The residents of the Crescent City have a symbiotic relationship with the team, and this accomplishment will give them a surge of energy that will do more for bringing the city back, better than ever, than anything the federal government could ever offer. It's a spiritual energy that will sustain itself with each rebuilt home and life.

On Sunday night the streets of the city were nearly empty. Everyone had a line-of-sight position near a television screen to watch the miracle unfold, and when it was over they flooded the streets in a torrent of good will and happiness to begin a party that won't stop until midnight on Ash Wednesday. Sober or drunk, old men wept like babies and kisses and hugs were shared among the married and the single, along with the gay and the straight.

Tonight it doesn't matter, and there's nothing wrong with that.



These two words will be repeated a lot during the next couple of weeks, for good reason.

Tonight the New Orleans Saints won the NFC Championship, which means they've won 50% of the games they've played at this level. Not a bad record. To be cliche about it, with this win they've punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.

It was an ugly game on Sunday night in the Superdome, and I'm sure more than a few follicles of hair across the Who Dat Nation were either torn out or faded to grey as the seconds counted down in the fourth quarter. Had the offense played to the level fans had come to expect, it would have been a blow out, like last week's game, but that wasn't quite the story. Thankfully the defense came through, proving the axiom oft repeated by coaches, "Offense wins games, Defense wins championships."

Then Overtime began and an entire city and state held its collective breath, only releasing it, during the booth reviews, in prayers that the drive would continue. When the final review put them within field goal range, one kick brought to life the dreams of over 40 years of black and gold fans, and their cries of joy lifted the roof off the 'Dome.


I didn't see it. For the whole season I've either been working or otherwise occupied when the Saints were playing. The one game I got to see kickoff became their first loss of the season, and Drew Brees' worst performance. I decided to ensure that I wouldn't see today's kickoff by attending the Life Teen mass at St. Anne's. We weren't the only Who Dat's in the congregation, which actually surprised me a little; I would have thought all the others would be watching the game.

After dinner I was torn about watching. I couldn't resist, and thought I'd have to leave the house when Reggie Bush muffed a punt, and the Vikings recovered it near the end zone. I kept watching, to see them score to punish myself, and thought my fortunes had reversed when they forced a turnover. From there I couldn't look away until the final seconds of regulation, changing the channel to ice skating and hoping for a miracle I'd only see in replays. It came in the form of a Brett Favre interception, relegating me to pacing from the front door to the kitchen and back again, wondering what was happening, and hoping it was all working out.

When it was all over I got to share in the joy with friends and family, including phone calls to my dad in Cameron and my 92-year-old grandfather in Abbeville. It's such a great feeling to know that he's finally going to see them play in the big game.

Cold as Ice


We were setting records for cold temps in Houston last week, so it was perfect weather for an ice sculpting competition.Yeah, I know you folks from the Dakotas and the other frost-belt states deal with substantially lower temperatures, but for the people of the Gulf Coast, 48 hours below freezing is a big deal. Not many people are prepared for that kind of hard freeze, since the mercury only drops that low a few nights a year. I covered people covering plants, pipes, and themselves to wait out Old Man Winter's kick to the 'nards, but found a group of people kicking back on Saturday.I got to the station Saturday morning before my reporter, which isn't unusual, but when 9:30 rolled around the desk decided to make a call. Long story short the reporter called in sick, leaving me the sole person responsible for gathering the dayside stories. The three items deemed worthy of our time were all in the same area of downtown, but we now had to decide how much time I should spend at each. The desk and I decided the ice sculpting competition would make the most sense as a nat-sound package, and I could still get the other two as VO-SOTs. The news director thought otherwise. In addition to the ice story, I would have to shoot the Bridal Extravaganza as an anchor package. The third story got dropped. To say I was thrilled would be inaccurate. I was looking forward to doing the nat-pack, but now I was going to have to shoehorn the time to do it around the other package. Any photog who cares knows that a good nat-pack takes the same time and work as a regular package to put together. Time was ticking away, and it looked like lunch would be the next casualty.I arrived at Discovery Green around 10:10, and I finally found a parking spot around 10:20. Now it was time to load up and go hunting. Camera, tripod, mics, tapes, and an extra battery added up to an extra 50 pounds I would be lugging around for what turned out to be four hours. At least I have a Beta SX camera, and not the 3/4" camera and record deck the old timers used.After walking a couple of blocks, I found the artists were just getting started. Rectangular blocks of transluscent frozen water were getting unpacked, and the buzz of electric chainsaws mixed with the thump of the bass line pounding from the DJ's speakers. Seven of "the world's best ice sculptors" were making snow to decide who could make the best use of a ton of ice.While a respectable number of people were there to see these masters at work, the crowd only got bigger as the five hour competition unfolded, and they tried to guess at what the finished sculpture would be. The crowd, and I, were awestruck as a snarling panther's head was attached to the shoulders of the big cat, which was poised in a downward-facing position, ready to pounce on unseen prey.Unfortunately I wouldn't get to see the finished works, because I had to trudge over to the George R. Brown Convention Center for the other story. The extra layers that kept me comfortable in the cold were now a burden that I had no way of shedding. Cars, cakes, and a kissing contest were all committed to tape, along with the brides and other vendors at the show. From there I schlepped my gear the three blocks back to the car and headed for the station, where I had to wait for an edit bay to get put back together before I could edit.Overall I'm pleased with the story. It's only the fourth nat-pack I've done, and I managed to really tie everything together. As for the anchor-pack, it never made air. The producer busted it to a VO-SOT, which means I wasted time on that story I could have used for the nat-pack. [...]

An Ode to Gear


After months of playing the field, I'm finally going steady with Unit 3.

Some people work from home, others have a cubicle. Photogs have an office with a 360-degree view. Our news units are more than a conveyance from calamity to catastrophe. They also serve as our shelter from the elements, a mobile dining room, and a quick place to catch a cat-nap while the scanner mutters sweet nothings in our ears.

For the last several weeks I've been assigned Unit 3 for my entire work week, which makes it officially my responsibility. Poor Unit 3, she's one of the oldest steeds in the fleet. It's a dirt-brown Chevy Blazer with bits of door-seals flapping like streamers in the breeze - a breeze that becomes a roar at highway speeds. Until I got her, she'd been worked hard and treated even harder. The floor was covered in a layer of dirt that I'm sure would have produced fossils if one were to look, and one reporter even remarked that she felt the need for a bath every time she got in the vehicle.

That was it. Unit 3 might be a broken-down piece of crap, but it's my piece of crap, and its condition is a reflection on me. Now she's been through the carwash for the first time since before I started here in April, and I can actually see the carpet. Who knew there was a hole worn in the driver's-side floor mat?

Along with the car comes the camera, mics, tripod and other assorted gear. All of it is in relatively good condition, since no one really wanted to use it. I even have a dream light kit that I don't even have time to look at, except when I'm beginning my shift. With a little time I'll get it all into shape, except for that dead pixel on the camera's imaging block. It only shows up in darker scenes, looking like a lone star in an overcast sky.

I guess you could call it the bright spot in my nights.

A Man Named Suh


A couple of weeks ago I got to work the dayshift for three straight days.

It was a time filled with wonder and amazement. I had heard that other news crews worked in this city, but I rarely saw them, and so began to think they were an endangered species. In those 24-plus hours on the clock, I saw many of them twice or more! It was a familiar feeling, being able to talk to someone and continue a conversation from the day before, instead of not seeing them for weeks, or even months, at a time.

The first day found me at a YMCA, locked, loaded, and stalking Ndomukong Suh, who was there with three other nominees for the Lombardi award. They were there to run some local kids through some drills. All four of these guys seemed genuinely happy to be there and enjoying themselves. I interviewed all four, and managed to get some good stuff from each of them, specific to each man. A casual observer might think I actually knew something about college football, but these guys were all great interviews.

My 6'1" frame usually means that I have to lower my camera and hunch over my viewfinder while interviewing, but I found myself actually stretching my Sachtler to meet the eye-level of this football player, who easily topped me by several inches. One look at him and I felt sympathy for the poor guys who've had to line up against him all season. They never stood a chance.

After bagging my bites and b-roll, I left with an honest feeling of joy. Each nominee seemed to have their heads on straight, and all of them seemed like they could go on to be good leaders of their communities.

The next day found me at a plant fire where no one was seriously injured, and the last day I got to interview a French sculptor, Bernar Venet. I'd have never guessed his true age (70), because he's got a light in his eyes that rivals my two-year-old daughter's. Throw in a free lunch at Reliant Stadium while waiting to interview the Texans, and I'd say it's the most fun work-week I've had in quite some time.

Muppets - Bo. Rhap.


Bohemian Rhapsody done by the Muppets. Need I say more?

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Flu Shots and Hurricanes


Hello everybody!

Happy Thanksgiving! For your perusal, I'm throwing down some of my recent work. I feel like I'm finally getting my feet under me and learning how to turn better stories within the daily constraints. I've even edited one pkg, not seen here, in the Avid Newscutter suite, and hope to spend more time in there to better familiarize myself with that system.



Housing Assistance Day in Galveston




It's a photog beat-down.

On an early Sunday morning, firefighters are responding to the most recent catastrophic conflagration soon to hit the Houston airwaves. They find flames leaping through the roof and a man in the front yard. This man turns out to the uncle of three children yet to escape the emergency, and he's brandishing a pistol while berating these brave souls for not charging into the fire faster. One of the kids makes it out with burns on her feet, but two younger children are lost.

Many questions remain as to why the parents left this man in charge, and how did the fire start on his watch, not to mention what kind of man looks out for himself, leaving three children to make their escape? Before the scene would clear he would perform one last act of schmuck-like behavior; he would assault a photog.

The shooter is employed by a local stringer agency who covers the overnights for most of the stations in town. While waiting for the heat of the fire to wane, he draws the ire of the hot-headed uncle, who isn't pleased with the presence of our soon-to-be plaintiff. The photog turns away to remove his camera from the tripod and gets cold-cocked as he turns back to face the man.

In today's story meeting, the powers-that-be were trying to decide on a second story for our crew following up on the fire and the uncle's arrest. I floated the story of the photog, and they found it fitting. The crew who did the story even thanked me for the idea.


Four on One


No, I wasn't in a fight; it was an interview.I strolled into work last Friday with little thought for what the day might bring. It makes going to work more fun if you have no idea what might happen. In the afternoon meeting I discovered that I would be flying solo for the day, which is a nice change of pace from the grind of turning out two stories daily. Then I found out what I would be shooting.A certain multi-platinum artist was staging a concert in The Woodlands, and they were going to webcast it live in HD, for free, to the world, but mainly for the troops in the Middle East. They were also attempting to gain a Guinness World Record for the most cameras used to record a live event. The record they were trying to break was 43, which was earned by a Justin Timberlake concert at Madison Square Garden. This production was going to obliterate that record by using a slightly higher number - 239. What they recorded will be part of the live DVD that will release almost one month after the album.Who is the band of which I speak? After a rough split, these four guys have been kicking around for six or seven years, doing seperate projects. They decided to get back together and try to recapture the lightning they once held and bend it to their will. This tour is to promote their new album and re-introduce them to their fans, both new and old. They are Creed.I've actually owned all three of their CDs, though I've lost My Own Prison in my many moves, so I guess you could say I like their music. I wasn't worried about interviewing these guys because they were hugely successful and popular musicians. What had me freaked was that I was going to have to interview the whole band by myself. My dedication to the craft wouldn't let me just set the camera on a wide shot of all four guys and roll, but I was having trouble figuring out how to talk to all of them at the same time and still make it look good for TV, and keep myself from looking like a total jack-leg at the same time. For those who don't know, pre-show interviews are usually pretty short, so I wouldn't have much time with the band to move a mic from one to the next.Our Senior (don't call her chief) Photog suggested that I shoot it off the shoulder in an MTV fashion. I gave it a shot and it kind of worked, which is good because it's the best I could have done without four more cameras and mics. As for the band, they were all pretty cool guys. They answered my questions, which I'm sure they've all heard about a thousand times now, but if it bothered them, I didn't notice. I also kind of lost my head and only focused on the dynamics between the four of them, instead of the other questions I had, like if they think their fans will forgive and forget. When I got the last question signal, the only think I could come up with was "Do you like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, and could there be a Creed version in the works?" They all chuckled and the drummer said they had thought about it a little, and that he can't play the drums in the game very well, because is isn't quite the same. He did say that he could shred on the guitar, though.After I got back to the station, I was able to watch the webcast because we put some of it on the air to go with the sound bite. The webcast looked like a DVD, and I was blown away by the production quality. The only problem was that Scott Stapp, the lead singer, sounded like his voice hasn't aged well. I don't know if it was just this show, or if he hasn't taken care of it, but it was quite flat. It didn't take away any of the energy from his performance, though, and I couldn't look away from the monitor for long without being drawn back by the quality of the show.In all it was a grea[...]

More Stories


Here are some new stories for you, dear readers.It looks like my current station doesn't have the server space my old station has, because stories that I'm linking now are disappearing. Hopefully that can be remedied in the near future.Speaking of linking, the first story up today was shot last weekend on the anniversary of Hurricane Ike; the storm that kept its pimp-hand strong by slapping Galveston around a year ago. The woman featured hasn't been in her house since she evacuated, but not because she didn't want to be; it's being renovated by a locally produced, but nationally televised, PBS show and a local church. This is her homecoming. Here's the synopsis in case the story isn't there. A local furniture store filled the house with donated furnishings, since she lost everything. The most important item she saved was a pocket-watch, which belonged to her father, who bought the house nearly a century ago. The designer on the show put it in a shadow box to hang on the wall in the living room, where it is practically the first thing you see when you enter. Oh, and one last point, dad's name - was Ike.The next story was actually shot the day before. We thought we might have a good story about local people helping eleminate some blue roofs, but when we got to the location we found the weather had cancelled the work day. Our last chance was to drive to Kemah for a class on animal rescue. Thrilling, right? When we got there it was almost time for lunch, and they would be doing the mock disaster the next day, so all seemed lost, until we spoke to the owner of the kennel hosting the class. Like many who have dealt with the physical destruction of these storms, she is having problems with her insurance company. It's not stopping her, but the frustration is clear. She also had to evacuate with her one-year-old, and the stress of that memory brought some surprise tears during the interview. The Bed and Biscuit she runs is a pretty nice place. The pet suites even have their own televisions, but I can't figure out, for the life of me, how dogs not more than a foot tall can watch a set that's five feet high in a 2'x4' space.[...]

Quick and Dirty


A story edited in 18 minutes.

I really would have liked to have more time to edit this one. I think it should have been later in the show, but it was scheduled as the second story in the newscast, and we didn't get back from shooting it until almost 7:30.


Before leaving for that story, I offered to help a coworker out with Twitter video for his story.


Radio Missions


Saturday found me rising with the sun for a trip to Galveston.

I was headed to the island for the re-opening of the emergency room a the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital. It was a lack-luster event, but we were also assigned a story about some local folks helping in the post-Ike recovery.

It turned out to be a decent edit, but I ran a little short on video and time to finish.


Thunder Moon


What happens when a car and a motorcycle meet? Usually it's never good.

Sunday finds myself and LJ, comfortably buckled into Unit 2, rolling north to Conroe. A man named Rex had been killed while riding his scooter the night before, and those who knew him are both mourning his death and celebrating his life. Sounds like the same old story, except Rex was the proprietor of Thirsty's Ice-House, which is where we are headed, and the gathering place of his extended family of fellow two-wheelers.

The bar is busy with bros and their old ladies who have nothing but praise for the man who presided over their chosen watering hole, and to hear them tell it, his heart was bigger than he was. Rex organized charity rides for children and got big, burly bikers to bring teddy bears to seniors for Christmas. The dichotomy of that imagery calls for a story to be done.

While we're wrapping up our second interview, the final response is drowned in the concussive rumblings of more motorcycles arriving. This group literally brings the thunder, revving their engines in a throaty tribute as one rider ruins his rear rubber in a cloud of smoke and heat. Those looking on alternately cheer and cry for the life of the man they've lost.


What didn't make it into the story is the shot of the full moon, plus rocket, which I can only assume was one guy's tribute to Apollo 11. Also left out were the racist comments being liberally thrown about regarding the illegal immigrants accused of the hit and run. LJ had to bite her tongue more than once as some of the guys said really nasty things, without realizing her hispanic heritage. To say we made short work of it would be an understatement.

Hot Story


Last week I was getting back into the swing of things after the vacation and ended up with two stories to shoot concerning the local dry spell.

The first was about fireworks retailers preparing to open for the July 4th sales season, and the second was just on the dry conditions. We didn't get anything develop until 5:30pm, and it was the fireworks story, so by the time we were done with that, we didn't have much time to shoot the second one.

We drove into a neighborhood, looking for dry yards and sprinklers, when we found a house with a sprinkler and people sitting around, enjoying the evening. The following story was shot in 30 minutes, split equally between b-roll and interviews.

Free Floats


Two years ago Sonic's free float night heralded the eve of the worst week of our lives, though we wouldn't know it until the morning.

Chloe and Claire were two weeks old and it was the first night of the NBA Finals. Erica and her mom were out and I was settling down to eat dinner and watch the game between feedings. Looking back on that night, I wish I had spent more time with the girls, but I don't know what I might have done differently.

It was time for them to sleep, so I moved them to their room where it would be a little quieter. Looking back, I'm sure that Chloe was already ill by now, but a call to the doctor's office resulted in a wait-and-see response, because she had no symptoms other than not eating well. Would I have noticed anything sooner if I had kept them in the living room? Probably not, but I still feel like I didn't do my job.

These are the thoughts that were the first to spring to mind when I heard the ad on the radio. I ought to think, "Free root beer float! Mmmmm, I know where I'll be tonight." Instead I knew where I wasn't going to be. I didn't have the heart to go, and couldn't even get excited about tasting one. It's strange how something as insignificant as free float night is now inextricably linked to such a significant time in my life.

Claire is now two years old and knows that going to Sonic means she's going to get an ice cream cone. She would have loved to get a float last night, but we didn't go. I have such pride in her when I look at her and realize that she's learned something new. We're actually able to have conversations. Admittedly I usually have to lead her through them, but she responds with a confident 'Yeah' to my questions. Now she's trying to use full sentences. Her face scrunches up as she's trying to get the words from her mind through to us. It's great, but I can't help thinking about how much better it would be if I could see it twice as often.

That worries me also. I don't want her to feel inadequate because she's the only one here. I hug her as much as I can, but I wonder if she's beginning to realize that something/someone is missing. Hopefully she'll tell us when she's able to communicate better. Yesterday she and I went to CiCi's Pizza for the first time. It was a good trip and she was well behaved as ever. I didn't even have to cut her pizza. I showed her how to hold it, and she learned and did the rest. Hopefully it's just the first of many daddy/daughter lunches.

Maybe we'll even get a chance to talk over root beer floats.

Driving Notes


Wil Wheaton narrowly avoided a wreck the other day, and he wrote a blog post about it.

In the first few comments I found this link with some sobering insights on the world of highway driving, and how best to not get killed in an accident. Since I've been to a few fatals myself, I try to do my best not to become one, but I do have my lapses at times. The link above is a well-written must-read, though it has some salty language, just to warn you.

I suggest reading both Wil's post and the second one, and please try to drive as aware as possible.

*edit 6/5/2009* Last Sat. I saw a semi with no trailer lock his brakes and spin out on dry pavement. He did a 180 degree turn, across 3 lanes of traffic, heading towards the I-59/I-610 interchange, and didn't hit anything. It's the most amazing moment of divine intervention that I've ever seen. Looked just like Optimus Prime in Transformers, except a lot more uncontrolled and scary.

The Shot


Everyday as a visual storyteller comes down to one goal - besides getting the story done.

No matter the subject matter, we are all looking for that one, specific, moment that crystallizes what the story is about. Yesterday I spent all day driving from the Galleria, to Downtown, to the Woodlands, for one story. When 8:15 rolled around all that work became a weekend hold due to a jet with a case of hot foot out at Hobby airport.

We were the second to last crew to arrive, but found one man who had been standing in baggage claim for about an hour, waiting for his wife and six month old child who were on the plane. Surprisingly we were the first crew to talk to him, which led us to the exclusive video of his reunion with his wife and child. You can be sure that the other crews were quite upset that they missed out on that video. I did what I do best and caught the emotion of the moment.

Not a bad night, especially since no one was hurt in all the commotion.

New Job


I've mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook, but I seem to have forgotten to blog about my new job.

I recently joined the crew at KHCW Ch. 39 here in Houston. You can find us online at We're working our way up in the ratings, but the people seem happy to come into work, and we're still hiring. I can't name another station that is doing that right now.

Now that I've updated that, here's the brand new blog of one of my new reporters, Andrea Nguyen. Try not to judge our stories too harshly right now. We're a bit understaffed and having to crank out two stories a night to feed the beast. I'm trying to make them the best I can, but I haven't found a story where everything comes together yet.

I've got an even better light kit than I had when I left 'BRZ, but I haven't been able to put it to use. I still feel like I'm treading water, so when I get comfortable, my stories should improve.

Thank you for all the well-wishes and prayers that allowed me to find this position so quickly. I think it will be a good fit, once I break it in.

Molding Update


*UPDATE Picked up the molding yesterday. Apparently it arrived on Thurs., but no one thought to call me.*

Here's an update. I'm still waiting. The piece I ordered came in about a week after I ordered it, but it was damaged beyond my use, so they refunded me the cost and ordered a new one. I am still waiting on that one.

I believe the store manager has a meeting with me in his future. To be fair these pieces are coming from another company, but he will be hearing from me, since I cannot contact them directly.

It's beginning to get on my nerves looking at that one last section of wall with the speaker wire that should be neatly hidden.

*Edit* GAH!!! I just realized that the previous post was made over a month ago. It looks like I will have to "strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger" those who attempt to delay and impede my order. For they will know, that my name is the O, when I lay my vengance through the BBB.

Molding Matters


Our new home needed a touch up, and I found an opportunity to try something new.

When we bought our new home, we noticed that crown-molding was conspicuously missing from our living room, even though it was already in the study and dining room. This worked out, though, because I needed to place the rear surrounds in my home theater, and needed somewhere to hide the wire.

I thought I could fish the wires behind the wall at the front of the room, but it proved to be just beyond my reach, so I had to call someone. I was trying to do it the hardest way possible, plus I had a Cat5e wire to run from an upstairs bedroom, and it wasn't gonna happen for me. Now the wires are neatly located in the wall and all I have to do is run the crown-molding.

My in-laws came to visit with Crumbsnatcher this weekend, and my father-in-law helped me with the installation. I also had the help of Tom Silva via the articles and vidoes on This Old House's website. They were very helpful, but they neglected to cover corners with angles greater than 90 degrees, and I have two. I also ended up just under 2 feet short, so I have to find another piece to be able to finish.

I could have finished today, but the big blue hardware and lumber retailer doesn't have the same molding in stock as the kind I special ordered from them. Writing that sounds wrong, but the only reason I special ordered is that they didn't carry 16' lengths. When we were trying to mock-up a corner we discovered that the piece I bought to finish one wall was slightly different from the rest. Hopefully I won't have to order more, because the pieces that I just got took nearly 3 weeks to come in, and I don't want to wait another 3 weeks for one piece.

What we did get done looks good, though I still have to finish it with some caulking and paint so it will match the rest of the house. I only had to cut a couple of small notches for my wires to exit the molding, which you can't see when the speakers are in place.

In all I'm proud of the work we did, and I did it much cheaper than someone would have charged me. Now I have a better idea of how to fish wire, so I can try it again the next time I need something like that.