Wednesday, March 22, 2006


No NCAA tournament for me, which leaves me open for much less desirable assignments.

As some of you may know, the Deuce decided not to cover the men's tournament. Instead of hyping the hi-jinx on the hardwood, I'm spending my time in criminal court. Actually, I'm not in court, but sitting outside. Last week I was covering a child molester who was married to another child molester and they were molesting children together. This week I'm covering a murder trial in which a police officer was killed while working extra duty at a Wal-Mart by a guy who was shoplifting disposable cameras.

Between these two gripping sagas, I spent the weekend at home. I took a trip down to Cameron to see how the clean-up was progressing, and to help my parents for a day. We didn't do any work on their house, but one of God's houses instead. The First Baptist Church of Cameron got hit pretty hard. The sanctuary is a total loss, but it's sacrifice saved the other two thirds of the building. Dad and I reclaimed the A/C units that were recently installed, and were spared a baptism by floodwater.

Just about the time we finished that project, a semi arrived from Kentucky. The four guys who climbed out of it had just completed a 13 hour journey, but showed no trace of fatigue. That was, of course, before we began unloading the 53-foot trailer packed with pews and chairs. Twenty-five pews and 50 chairs later the truck was empty and we were just about spent. I gave the guys the abridged walking tour of the newly-abridged town on the way to the newest restaurant, the Hurricane Cafe.

We might not have been in paradise, but that cheeseburger was as flavorful and filling as any that I've had before. After we ate the guys climbed aboard their trusty steed and set off for home. We tacked up some blue tarps to make it a bit less inviting for anyone looking for some new furniture, and made our way back to my parents FEMA trailer. I was surprised that I could straighten my six-foot three-inch frame inside, with about an inch to spare, which is plenty of room compared to the cramped confines of a news truck in a hurricane. The only place I wasn't comfortable was in the shower, which has four or five inches less clearance, but I wasn't in there long.

After a good night's rest I bid adieu to my folks and headed back to the Big City. Not only did I get to do something real, but I also came back with a couple of killer story ideas that might do more to help than I can do on my own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What's in a Name?

I've decided to give my readers a nickname. I can't believe it took me this long to think of it.

I hope this doesn't discourage any of you from reading, and I promise not to use it too often, for fear of it losing its charm. What am I thinking? If my post schedule (or lack thereof) hasn't sent you packing, I don't suppose anything I write will.

So here you have it. You can call yourselves what you want (all three of you), or you can adopt this name. Just know that in my mind I will always refer to all of you this way.

Let it be known far and wide, that on this day, I, Oreo, Lord of Crumbs, dub thee, my readers, the Crumb-snatchers.

I'm open to any advice as to the correct way to write that. Otherwise consider it canon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Little Things

It's amazing how a small inconvenience can snowball into a thunderous rage.

Monday heralds the demise of the weekend, but brings with it the potential for a week full of stories into which a shooter can sink his creative teeth. A certain orange cat sees Monday as a day better spent at home, because it is usually the worst day of the week. I stroll into the station somewhere in-between. My recent stretch on-call was quiet, and it is with glee that I return the pager to the assignment desk, where it will wait until the next hapless soul takes on its burden.

As the weight lifts from me, I fell my shoulders straighten and my spine lose the bow it had assumed. Unfortunately the pistol shots sounding from my joints give away my position to the Assignment Editor, who happens to be looking for a lens-jockey to send to an apartment fire. No one is home or injured, so I arrive back at the station in short order, wondering what fate is being assigned to me.

A few months ago, Ace Reporter Scott Satchfield and I did a story on the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Along with LA State Police, they were creating a database of the vehicles that had fallen victim to Katrina's floodwater. Now some of those vehicles are showing up on car lots in other states, from sea to shining sea. We've got an interview set up with the NICB guys, but it's not for a couple of hours, so we head out to see if any of the used car lots in town are checking the cars they take in. As expected, none of them want anything to do with this story, but it was worth a shot.

Lunch is next on the agenda, and where the day starts to go downhill. Short on cash, and time, I decide to eat first and hit the ATM after the interview. It's a quickie, as promised, but then we have to follow the guys to another location to get b-roll and a stand-up. I'm a little dry, but I can wait until we get back to quench my thirst.

Our arrival at the station goes horribly wrong. I'm met at the door by the Ass. Ed.(sic) and told that I will be leaving soon with another reporter. Her photog is out shooting something else. The one and only V soon informs me that we are off to shoot a package on the PD's Fallen Heroes Golf Tournament. Hmmm, it's 3 PM and my first story is in the 6 PM show. Since I'm picking up this shoot, I'm sure the desk will just assign the other photog to edit my package. Not the ideal situation, but it happens often here.

The shoot goes well, except that I still haven't had a drink since the milk from my cereal bowl. To top it off, everywhere I look is a golfer with a frosty beer in his hand. A longing look lingers on every can, but I'm on the clock, and unfortunately the only water I see is the condensation clinging to the cans. A-thirsting I must go.

At five o'clock the Nextel squawks out a request for my ETA. "About ten minutes," is my reply, to which I'm told that my package is ready and waiting at the desk! After picking it up, I learn that it is also the lead. I throw it together and walk out the door with my shift over and the show open rolling; thoroughly disgusted at the inablility of The Desk to properly allocate resources. A caffeine deficient photographer is a dangerous thing, and luckily no one gave me cause to haul them out of their car and beat them, but a few came close and the mighty Titan roared away from every stop sign in the last five miles of my trip.

I guess my truck will get to drink heartily at the gas pump.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Going Without

Alas, I thought I might enjoy a weekend of High Definition goodness, and maybe some big-screen gaming, but our trusty SD Magnavox is still holding the high ground in the living room.

Alterman Audio is the new guy in town. The company has a couple of stores in the New Orleans area, but while they were making repairs, opened a new store in Baton Rouge. Several Big Easy businesses have made the same move. I first heard about them from a reporter who had done a story there and told me they were willing to bargain with their customers.

It turns out that the owner opened his first store in February, so every year brings a big sale that month. Being the new store, they are cutting the sale prices as well. To give you an idea, my first visit was the second to last week of February, and they were offering the 50-inch Sony SXRD for $3000. MSRP was $4000. Most prices have come down since then, but they are still at least $100 less than anyone else in town. I almost forgot: they also double the original warranty, up to five years, for no extra charge.

Friday I dropped in with the intent to purchase. Everything was going well, until they asked if I was planning to take it with me. I had coordinated with the Mrs. for her to pick it up, since I was in the company vehicle until Monday. They told me that they were waiting on a shipment, and that the smaller sets, like the one I wanted, were popular and sold through quickly. It wasn't a deal breaker, since I wasn't going to be home much on Saturday, and I'll be gone for the later half of this week, following LSU in the Big Dance.

It'll be my luck that it arrives while I'm gone, but they offered to deliver it to me for free, and set it up, so it all evens out. At least I know that I'm getting a fresh one, almost directly from Japan.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The HD Plunge

After years of wishing and months of perusing, I'm just days away from enjoying High Definition in my own home.

Since grade school a personal goal of mine has been to own a big-screen television. What red-blooded, American male hasn't wanted one? A larger than life window to another world is what the movie theater experience is to me, and to be able to bring that home is thrilling. When I began building my home video library, I chose to fill it with widescreen versions. Watching them on a small screen wasn't the best option, but it was the only one I had. I have a good imagination, so I could scale it to match. I also hate pan-and-scan viewing.

Years of waiting have brought me to a thrilling point, because the technology now available was unthinkable when I was younger. I can now buy a widescreen monitor to match the film, filling the entire screen with some selections. The age of HD is now upon us, giving a clearer picture than ever before. Don't forget the other half of the experience. Sound doesn't just fill the room, but now transforms it into an extension of the world on the other side of the screen.

Uncle Sam has been holding on to some money for me, and now I'm going to put it to good use. The beginning of the Olympic telecast, showing breathtaking shots of the beauty of the Italian countryside, looked amazing, even on our stadard definition set. Images so powerful that the Mrs. wondered how much better they would look in their proper resolution.

Ah-ha! I had an opening. A small chink in the armor that I have been able to work into a fissure, leading to this week and purchase approval. I'll update later, after the purchase has been made, but it looks to be a 42-inch Sony Grand Wega (Vay-guh). It should be just the right size for our living room, and just right for me.

It's too bad I'm on-call this week, and possibly covering the NCAA tourney next week, or it would be sitting in my living room right now.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Throw Me Something, Mister!

It's six-thirty, Tuesday morning and I am on the road to New Orleans, the haven of his Royal Hershey Highness, and home to the oldest celebration of Fat Tuesday in the country.

My compatriot for this excursion is Big Easy reporter extraordinaire, Scott Satchfield. We've been three times in the last seven days. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of the biggest parties a person can be a part of, and definately overwhelming if you've never experienced it. I have, once before, and now I've got to cover it. After a little over an hour on the road we reach a point where the highway curves and arches away from us, leading to downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. Suddenly I feel a sensation in the pit of my stomach that I haven't felt in nearly four years. It's that feeling of fear mixed with anxiety and sprinkled with a dash of panic. To this day I have no idea why I felt it. Maybe it was the light traffic coming into the city and our relatively hassle free trip, but it was there and didn't go away until we had parked and gotten to work.

Believe me, it was work. After pulling into one of the paid parking lots, (cash only today, hope I can find an ATM) we gather up only the essentials to haul to our workspace. We're heading for the Royal Sonesta, a landmark in the 2oo block of the infamous Bourbon St., and the local HQ for CNN, who will beam our stories back to Baton Rouge. We drop off the portable editor and hit 'The Street'. We're tasked with finding people for and against having the celebration while some people are still homeless after Katrina. On top of that, we also have to get video of the Zulu and Rex parades. Unfortunately Zulu won't reach us until noon. Oh, did I forget to mention that we have to feed look-lives for the Noon and Four shows at 11:35? We then have to put our package together for Five, but the evening crew is coming, they have a package for Six, we're sharing the editor, and both have to be ready to feed by 4:30.

Of course we got it all done, but not without a few hitches in the plan. Our end was fine, but the night crew didn't get to the city until 3:30. Then the photog couldn't find a parking spot, so I had to pick up the slack and shoot and edit the package for Six in an hour to make the feed window. After all of that, it was time to leave. A phone call to the missus found an ATM right around the corner, on the way to the Jeep. That's great, since the prices for parking get bumped up for the party, and we've been parked there for 10 hours or so. With my wallet having gone on a binge and purge of $30 I begin leaving New Orleans. I say begin, because it takes me an hour to get to the interstate, and the freedom of the open road. That's right, just getting to the on-ramp took as much time as the whole journey from Baton Rouge.

While it may sound like I didn't have a good time, it really wasn't that bad. Our room opened out onto the third floor balcony, and there is no better place to be on Fat Tuesday than a balcony on Bourbon. While Scott was writing, I was hanging out, observing the mass of humanity that had grown throughout the day. The street had been transformed into an undulating sea of color with the pavement no longer visible under the potpourri of partygoers. Someone thrust a handfull of beads into my hands, and suddenly I went from casual observer to participant.

Hmmmm. I worked miracles for the pod-people back at the station, captured the spirit of the people in my story, and got flashed because I had a camera.

Not a bad day's work, especially with four-and-a-half hours of overtime for the day.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Surprising Visitors

The stats generated by my counter are quite interesting. It seems that I've at least been checked out by people all across the northern hemisphere: from California to Massachusetts, Miami to Ontario, and even as far away as Italy!

I hope that everyone enjoys the crumbs. Thanks to those photograbloggers that have linked me on their sites. For all those who have written a kind word and sent a good-natured wish this way, thank you. I wish I could read them all, but who has the time? I don't even keep up with this site the way I should.

Also, thank you to those that put up with my irregular posting. I'm not going to resolve to fix it, because I think I'm allergic to resolutions, at least the ones that don't have to do with Hi-Def, but that is another story for another time. Suffice to say that anything I resolve to do rarely gets done. Could be that it seems too much like work when that happens.

Thanks...for everything.