Monday, August 9, 2010

A look into my days (aka: Why did you say I would need a rain slicker again??)

So my work situation is no more clear these days than ever before.

That will be its own blog someday soon, but until it all works its way out, lets just gloss over the basics.

I was telling Cam and Kaleo and Kalewa in Hawaii that I had a ton of options if I moved to Seattle.  I told Ken and Jimene and the Walter clan that every day I seemed to get a new offer of something bigger and better in the Emerald City.  And, I was understating all of the facts.

What has happened since I arrived in town has been nothing short of miraculous, given our economy and general Carter-era-esque malaise.  I came to town with the promise of a job at one station, the chance at an amazing job at another.  Two days in town, another offer came.  Last week, another.  I am working currently at two shops in town, which is crazy to me but they both seem thrilled.  After a very good meeting last Friday, I may indeed be working at only one station very soon.  And it aint either of the two I'm currently at.  Thus, until things work out and I am settled, I will let that percolate and just get on to the point.

I have shot television news in the 13th largest market in this fine country for exactly two weeks tomorrow.  Or, today if you read this Tuesday.  In that time, not one day has gone by that I have driven less than 200 miles a day.  It is insane.  When I am not working, I can walk everywhere and just kick back.  When I am at work, its like I drive a greyhound bus filled with illegals and I am trying to lose the copper on our tail.

My first few days I was shadowing people to get my lay of the city and the new gear.  I drove to the end of Tacoma and back and all around Seattle the first day.  I ended up at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army/Air Force base the next day.  I was like a puppy along for the ride.  Head out the window, panting and blowing snot all over the door as the photographer drove up one side of Washington and down the other.

When they finally cut the leash and let me go out on my own, I realized we haven't given enough credit to the military.  They invented noxious gas.  I perfected it by years of holding my sister down and farting on her, but they invented it.  What they also invented and what is germane to today's discussion is the GPS on the dashboard of every car and in the hand of every granola munching hippie on a well marked USFS trail in North America.

Sure, it was a tool to give our troops the best knowledge of locations in battle.  Yes, when they opened up the satellites for public use it seemed like a cool tool to use if you were hiking up Poudre Canyon and you wanted to find, say, a used pencil or a broken plastic compass inside a rusty lunch pale that 50 other people geocached that same day.  What GPS has become in my life is something far different.  Time for a sidebar.

Last Christmas, I asked for a couple of things.  (To my sister who is reading this, please read with a humorous smile and not a sad face for you are a lifesaver and you know I am sorry for farting on you...... OK, I'm not really.)  I asked for a PS3 and a new GPS.  I wanted the PS3 for its Blu-Ray capabilities and cuz I have only ever had games on the PlayStation platform so a new PS3 would be awesome.  I wanted a new GPS because the one I have is a low-end Garmin.  I use it to find old plane crashes in the mountains and to keep from becoming the modern day Alfred Packer and eating whatever small child might be stupid enough to travel into the woods with me.

On Christmas, much to my surprise, I opened a brand spanking new Wii (you will recall it from my previous post on peeing homeless man) and a bunch of gadgets that go with the Wii.  So that was cool.  I also opened a box containing a nice new shiny GPS system... a TomTom for the car.  Not exactly the handheld middle of nowhere kinda gizmo.  To be fair, I could have used the TomTom to know I was 439 miles from the right road and needed to "turn around when possible" to save myself from imminent bear mutilation.  But I didn't.  The time never seemed right to implement said tactic.

Its funny because Denver is on a grid, every road goes everywhere, and the TomTom (thank you again, Anne!!) seemed a bit impractical for someone who lived in Denver much of his adult life.  Then I moved to Seattle.

Back from that sidebar, you will recall I have driven no less than 200 miles every day I have been here.  Without GPS, I would be camping along a wooded stream with DB Cooper and his millions of rotted dollars in the Washington mountains by now.  TomTom has saved my life a million times over.  I have driven to places like Sultan, Skykomish, Lynnwood, Everett, Olympia, back to Everett, Seattle, back to Everett, and Tom just keeps getting me from here to there and back.  Sometimes he yells because I dont follow directions well.  But for the most part we just travel along waiting for him to spring it on me that in 400 yards I will need to bear right.  This usually happens 150 yards after I moved into the left lane.

Seattle (and most of Washington State as far as I can tell) is less a grid system than a meandering stretch of road signs and bridges.  Its like a drunken Lewis and Clark cut trails through the hills and trees chasing Pocahontas and her tribe of lovely ladies.  A couple years later, someone paved those trails and called it good.  Its just a winding system of streets and avenues, numbers meaning nothing, that is mind-numbing in its lack of simplicity.  Nothing seems to go anywhere you think it should.  And without TomTom, I wouldn't get anywhere the stations think I should.

In terms of stories, I have gotten a couple fun assignments.  I got to go to a far-away mountain side where some idiot got caught during a BASE jump and ended up hanging by his parachute straps for 8 hours.  The irony was, he did the jump in honor of a girl who had died doing the same thing a week earlier there.  He was rescued, then promptly arrested for outstanding warrants.  But the drive was beautiful and the story was fine.

I did a NAT Package on the city of Everett putting pianos out on the downtown streets to draw in people to the businesses.  The pianos were painted by local artists and people just stop and play them.  I had a small street band performance while I was shooting.  It didnt turn out as good as I would like, but it wasnt horrible.

Ive done some military stories.  Nothing real exciting.  Had my share of crime stuff too.  But my favorite shoot came last week.  I was sent over to the Olympic Peninsula to see an oyster farm and hatchery.  Seems the ocean and sound are becoming more acidic and hurting shellfishing.  I started the day on a very foggy ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island.  Then, a 2 hour drive north and west, across the Hood Canal to a tiny little bay and a wild mix of science and shellfish.  It was cool.  Coming back, I got caught in bridge painting delays (my first time for said activity) and then had to figure out how to catch the ferry back to Seattle.  The return trip took about 6 hours with the fun of the boat ride.  But it was a nice little story.

As for the need for a rain slicker (from the title in case you forgot), yet to figure that one out.  It has rained one day in my nearly a month here.  And it wasn't a Colorado afternoon frog-strangler either.  A nice little misting really.  A few days there was a marine layer in the morning that burnt off by the afternoon.  The past couple days there have been a lot of clouds.  But only one day of any real rain.  That day was Sunday when I was sent to cover SeaFair.  Its a Seattle tradition filled with F-18's and HydroPlane boats.  Its a good time on Lake Washington.  But the mix of rain/low clouds and ambivalence at my station for the event lead me to cut that shoot short and meant I have to wait til next year to really experience SeaFair.

Speaking of cutting this short, I should have.  But now, I will just cut it long.  Hope you enjoyed.


  1. Dang.... If I'd realized sooner (as I should have) that you're a better storyteller, and therefore blogger, than I am, I wouldn't have encouraged my readers to check out your blog. I'm now worried that I'll lose my readership to you, and can only hope to keep them now with the most basic and effective tools a blogger has available: namely, mildly back-handed insults and ungulate flatulence (see up-coming post).

    Great stories and great blog, sir. As always, waiting eagerly for the next installment.

    BTW, what's a NAT package (for the un-news-people in your audience)?

  2. Hmmm. I posted a reply and it went away. Try again:

    Ha! I bore people to the point they fall asleep on my blog, thus upping my time spent on the blog stats!!

    A NAT package is just a story with natural sound and interviews. No reporter. Just letting the people tell the story.

  3. Ah, yes.... Crazy news-people lingo. Thx. :)

  4. Wait! You know Gizmo? Keep him away from water!

  5. Looks like you have a great upcoming offer buddy! Glad to hear things are working out so well for you! Miss you here in Denver!

  6. Thanks, Kevin! It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. For now, all I know is I'm tired.