Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Unwinding after Fast Forward Day

Work is often stressful and hard. There's several ways I like to unwind at the end of the day.

Lately, my favorite has been to go for a bike ride. Riding for four or five miles to a park, where I pull out a book and a snack and read until either the sun goes down, the mosquitos get too hungry, or the wind picks up and I get cold.

This weekend the pool at our apartment complex opened for the summer. I'll probably be adding swimming to the mix.

Now that it's summer, Jack Johnson music is en vogue. The beach-bum, laid back style brings peaceful times to mind. This song is high on the playlist

Sunday, June 26, 2011


My dear friend, Gianna Pascale, taught me something about myself. I am a sense-oriented person. This includes candles.

In summer 2009, I took a chance on a Yankee Candle called Blue Waves. It was on sale at TJ Maxx and seemed like a good fit for my dorm room when I was working as an Orientation Leader.

It was perfect. It smelled warm, beachy, and strong. I kept it burning almost everyday that summer. Since then it was the summer candle of choice.

I've gone to TJ Maxx in Oregon several times in the past few months, heading straight to the aisle with the candles. Despite buying a Blue Waves candle there less than 11 months ago, they seem to be out of stock. I walk away empty handed and without any kind of olfactory stimulant. Angry.

This morning I did a Google search, but it's coming up nada. There seems to be little trace of Blue Wave candles anywhere.

I even tried the TJ Maxx in Moraga, the home of the original Blue Wave. Zilch.

This week I went back to the store in Medford and ended up settling for something called Beach Blue.

I settled. It's not the same.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I love a story when I can include nats -- nat sounds -- natural sounds.

I think it adds a dimension for the viewer and really brings them in to the story. Network news uses nat sounds all the time, very artfully, may I add. And I've been trying to emulate them.

This week I had the chance for nat sounds in 3 of my stories and would like to share the sights and sounds with you.

Tuesday -- Late Logging: logging companies squeezing in work before fire season hits
Wednesday -- The warming weather is heating up rafting business
Thursday -- School of sound: the American Band College is tuning up for a few performances in the Rogue Valley

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dropping Prices at Rising Phoenix

Do you know what bio-diesel is?

Manufacturers take used coking oil and refine it into a usable fuel for diesel engines.

That process and lack of demand typically makes bio-diesel 50 to 60 cents more expensive per gallon.

But at Rising Phoenix Bio-Fuels in Phoenix, Oregon prices for bio-diesel are actually less expensive than conventional diesel.

But bio-diesel isn't specific for special cars with special engines. Depending on the mix of the refined oil, you can pour it straight into your gas tank.

It's sustainable (doesn't pollute nearly as much), and its local (made right in the United States), now it's cheaper.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sights and sounds of home, familiar and un-

I'm home for the weekend, celebrating my brother's graduation from UC Davis, Father's Day, and a college friends' wedding. I haven't been home since Christmas, and have spend less than half a dozen days in Casa Navarro in the past year.

Being back here is filled with both nostalgia and discovery. Visual and aural cues whisk me back to younger days. While additions and changes are more prevalent and will likely continue to be that way.

My bedroom would looks more like a female gardener's den. I count five fake potted plants. At least 11 pillows with some sort of floral design. A matching bedspread, area rug, a butterfly lamp, and metal thermometer in the shape of a flower.

The multi-colored portable lawn chairs have faded, but still take me back to little league games. Sitting in the teal, orange, pink chairs meant warm summer days, corn nuts, and grass stains.

The pool vacuum has been turned on and a symphony ensues. The glugging of occasional air pockets through pipes in the corner of the backyard. The web of pumps and valves humming low. Trickling water falling from the spa to the pool.

Back to my bedroom for a moment. The Autumn I left for Saint Mary's was a year of remodeling at home. New floors, new paint, new windows, the works. Included in the remodeling was my brother commandeering my former room because it had a cable hookup. In the past five years, I've had the urge to walk into my old room as if it were my current. Still do.

The remodel still throws me for a loop sometimes. It's a trip to walk in and see wood flooring and plantation shutters.

Gone is the Ford Bronco. It was the car I learned to drive in, was my car through high school, and helped me escort several young women on dates. I had a special connection with that car-- there was a stamp on the engine block saying: "Paint OK 2/4/88." We share the same birthday.

In it's place a 2012 Ford Focus. A rocketship of a car. Kevin bought it to replace the aging Bronco. A sporty, silver, sleek 4-door. Proud of him for being able to buy a new car and choosing a winner.

Just spotted a sixth fake potted plant in my room. But this one's different. The flower is one my grandfather's trademark wooden flowers. The flower is orange and black sitting on top of a faux grass in a pot that says "World Champs S.F. Giants."
There's something else different about this potted plant-- it's also a picture frame. The picture shows a family decked in black and orange at AT&T Park. They're smiling at the camera.

Concealed behind all the changes is something that hasn't.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Return of Follow Friday

You know how some songs get stuck in your head?

You're about to have three new old songs stuck in your head.

"Make your own kind of music" -- Mamas & Papas
Was featured in a few episodes of the beginning of Season 2 of Lost. I've been humming and singing it all week. In the shower, driving in the car, in court at a murder trial.

"Don't bring me down" -- ELO
Featured in Super 8, and subsequently has been featured in my mind and on iTunes.

"I don't want to know" -- Fleetwood Mac
Saw the Glee episode devoted to the album "Rumours." Downloaded it and have had it on repeat. This is a real toe-tapper.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grantland, Writers, and Writing

I'm a perfectionist. Always looking to improve, to be better, to be the best. At work and with this blog, I'm trying to improve my writing skills.

They say "good artists borrow, great artists steal."

I don't know if I prefer borrowing or steal, so I'll settle for imitating.

But I'll only emulate the writers I look up to.
The ones I enjoy reading.
The ones I read all the time.

A week ago one of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons, who's a sports columnist for ESPN.com, launched his own website called Grantland.com. It plays home for columns, articles, blogs, essays, and podcasts on a smattering of topics ranging from sports to pop culture.

Sidenote-- the site's name comes from Grantland Rice, a sportswriter from the turn of the 20th century. One of his quotes "For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes—not that you won or lost—but how you played the Game."

I've been visiting the site several times each day. Basking in the warm radiance of writers who are far beyond my range.

The articles are better than the run-of-the-mill summing up of a game or series, they look at sports and pop culture with an academic, theoretic, or philosophic eye.

Example: Chuck Klosterman's article Space, Time, and DVR Mechanics looks at why watching a recorded sporting event isn't an enjoyable experience. He makes rational arguments (recording means too much control, lose the "live" feel of the event) and irrational arguments ("my personal involvement and actions will affect the outcome of the game). It may sound complicated, but that's only because I can't communicate the ideas Klosterman puts forward with experience, ease, and wit. Trust me.

His writing pushes me to write gooder.

I've also found that I've got a certain style of writing. You've probably noticed it, too. I don't want to get pigeonholed writing the same wheel. Too much routine gets boring for me, for you, and means I'm not challenging my boundaries.

Consciously writing in a different style means doing something unnatural, and is, consequentially, more difficult. So, it will take time, practice, and effort.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NEWSTEAM - Updated


On Tuesday, June 14th, I followed up on a story that had been developing since late Monday night. An 18 year old was fatally stabbed.

Steven Sandberg reported on the story Monday, but I covered it Tuesday. He gave me a call twice during the day-- telling me some of the witness reports that he couldn't confirm, giving me tips about who to talk to, which questions to ask, and even sending pictures of the victim once he had been identified later Tuesday afternoon.

His guidance and help aided me in getting the story that I got. A story I'm brought of. A story, made possible through teamwork.



It doesn't always happen, but sometimes the second half of that word comes to life in the newsroom.


Thursday, I was reporting on the closing statements and sentencing of a trial I hadn't covered at all. Thankfully, the team had my back. Kaylin had been in court off and on for the past few weeks covering the story.

She gave me a call and sent me a pair of emails, outlining the backstory of the charges, describing the key players and possible interviews, and recommending questions to ask.

I started the day a bit lost, but, with her help, the story came out well.

Kaylin and I at Phoenix High School TV Production Awards Night; 6.1.11


Sunday, June 12, 2011

College: Worth it?

It's Graduation time. My brother, Kevin, is graduating from UC Davis today. He joins hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other people getting a Bachelor's.

Maybe you've heard about the Thiel Fellowship. It gives young entrepreneurs money to work on their projects. The catch is they cannot be enrolled in a college or university. The thinking is that these promising creators can learn, grow, and do more in the real world than they could in college. Consider rising tuition costs and an ever-increasing debt load on graduates, and you can't avoid the question: Is college worth it?


Dale Stephens is 19 years old and in the Thiel Foundation. Naturally, he's firmly in the No camp. He wrote an opinion piece for CNN.com, from which I've pulled a few excerpts--

"Failure is punished instead of seen as a learning opportunity. We think of college as a stepping-stone to success rather than a means to gain knowledge. College fails to empower us with the skills necessary to become productive members of today's global entrepreneurial economy."

"Of course, some people want a formal education. I do not think everyone should leave college, but I challenge my peers to consider the opportunity cost of going to class. If you want to be a doctor, going to medical school is a wise choice. I do not recommend keeping cadavers in your garage. On the other hand, what else could you do during your next 50-minute class? How many e-mails could you answer? How many lines of code could you write?"

"It's not a question of authorities; it's a question of priorities. We who take our education outside and beyond the classroom understand how actions build a better world. We will change the world regardless of the letters after our names."


Jessie Rosen is a self-proclaimed "20-nothing" living in LA who, in her spare time, writes a blog the same name. She says "it depends," but it seems like she's actually saying Yes. Excerpts--

"I graduated from that college and took a job that I got through a connection from my college. Worth it? Yes. Very much so."

"During my college years I focused on four extracurricular activities (NERD ALERT!!). I wrote for the school newspaper, produced and hosted a weekly news show on BCTV, participated in volunteer programs, and started/ran a website that provided weekly reviews of Boston-based events and businesses...

I could have easily done volunteer work and started this website without the help of Boston College - so that goes in the "not worth it" pile, but it isn't likely that a real newspaper or real TV station would give me the kind of hands on experience that my college versions allowed - so that's a "worth it" feature.

But here's the thing. I didn't know I wanted to do any of those things until I entered college - specifically Boston College. These activities/programs/projects grew out of interests I developed based on friendships I made and lessons I learned about myself and my abilities inside the classroom. College - for me - was a place to realize my potential - to incubate, if you will."

My thoughts.

I'm in the same mindset as Jessie, there was no real skill or technique I need for work that I could only learn in college. Reading, writing, shooting, and editing. Only a bit of reading and real-life experience can teach you that. As Matt Damon's character in "Good Will Hunting" said, "you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library."

But, it's all about the contacts. People I met in college are now my closest friends, grooms for whom I'm best man, and the references who got me the job I'm at now.

Plus the real world experience. I got to shoot, edit, write on super high quality cameras and computers.

And I lied earlier. There was stuff that I learned that I use everyday at and away from work. Critical thinking, public speaking, team leadership skills, and a humble, humanistic worldview.

So, yes. Yes, college is worth it.

But I'm biassed.

Your thoughts?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Final Bell

The bell rings, doors whoosh open, kids run through the hallway, aching to get out the door, away from school, and home for summer vacation.

That's the iconic, Rockwell-esque vision of the last day of school.

But try this one on for size-- the entire Elementary school community, including 100 first through fifth graders and several dozen teachers and staff members, gathered on the lawn in front of the 88-year-old school building. They said goodbye by crying and hugging.

That's what happened at local Evans Valley Elementary School. When it closed its doors for summer, it closed its doors for good. Extreme budget deficits for the coming school year pushed the school district to close the older, more rural school. For more than a year, parents have been lobbying the school board to keep Evans Valley open.

On Tuesday, EVES closed for good. To mark the day, teachers planned a "fun, peppy" day. There was a school-wide assembly and a by a school-wide dance. The kids went back to their classrooms, cleared out their desks and cubbies, filled up their backpacks and left their rooms one last time.

At the very end of the school day, everyone gathered in front of the main building for a closing ceremony. The 5th grade students rang the bell that hangs in the school's rafters. The Principal led one last "Wolf Roar." Then the kids made their way down the hill to the buses.

That's when everyone lost it.

Kids, knowing they would never come back to EVES as a student, started crying.
Teachers, knowing they'd likely never teach at EVES again, started crying.
Parents, knowing the school they love is actually closing, started crying.

I felt a little lump in my throat and a little moisture in my eyes.

The kids slowly walked to the bus line, wiping away tears, and looking back at the school. As the buses filled up, students opened the windows and waved goodbye to the teachers they were leaving behind. As the busses pulled away, students yelled out, "Have a good summer!" "We'll miss you!" "I love Evans Valley!"

Many kids hugged their teachers goodbye. Maybe they were hugging extra hard to say goodbye to the school, too.

Evans Valley's Last Day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Revolving Door

The worst part about this television business is the revolving door.

In entry-level markets, people sign two year contracts then move on a few months after that term ends. The thinking is that after two years of pay just above minimum wage, your skills have improved enough to earn bigger pay in a bigger market.

The abstract idea became concrete reality two weeks ago when one of my closest friends at the station, Adam Thompson, left for a job in Houston.

I knew he'd been looking to move on for a while, but when he put in his two weeks notice it was surprising and hit hard. I've been hanging out with him since I moved to Medford. Hanging out on weekends. Karaokeing. Talking film. Watching Netflix. Drinking beers. Taking pictures.

Back in April, he and I worked together on a documentary. It was meant to be the cornerstone of his resume tape, but he got hired before it was even finished. That's how good he is.

On his last day, Friday, May 20th, his last day, we went to a tiny drive-up style diner we'd frequented in the past. Phil's Frosty was delicious. Later that night, we went to a bar and grabbed drinks and said goodbye.

Unlike commencement in college and schools, where classmates and friends move on in groups at the same time each year, hirings are staggered. So are the leavings.

I'm getting a crash course in this life lesson.