I know I'm using 'daze' a lot, but I've been in that sort of fog lately. This post is about a month overdue so bear with me.
At the end of July the Southeastern Conference has a three day shindig previewing the coming football season. They call it SEC Media Days, and all the head coaches bring themselves and two players and stroll from room to room under the glare of mini-fills and the cyclopian stares of the cameras surrounding them.
I was attending as the second and third members of Team Deuce, accompanied by Sports Director Punkin'head. His head really isn't that big; in fact it's about average and the same size as mine, but the joke got started a while back, and we still throw it out every now and then. I say second and third because I'm pulling double duty as shooter and sat truck operator. After this trip, not doing it again.
The work really wasn't that hard, about what you'd expect from a typical news day, which is unusual for a sports trip. The average day on one of these begins somewhere around noon and goes to 11 p.m. or midnight. These days began about 8 a.m., which is earlier than my normal day, in which I don't even leave the house before 8:30. I also spent way too much tape getting great cutaways that were never going to be used, but wasn't informed of that until the evening of the second day. Oh well; it doesn't hurt to sharpen the skills.
Day one goes well, SDP gets soaked during his live shot, I'm nice and dry wearing my full rain suit. It pays to travel prepared, especially when the destination is six hours away from home base.
Day two is good, until the 5 p.m. feed window. In the middle of the window my signal disappears. A quick check of my equipment reveals where the problem is, but for some reason, diagnosis eludes me.
Who could possibly need anything more than a red LED indicating FAULT? It's a problem with the HPA, which sends the signal to the satellite, but while it's been returned to the the factory for repair, we still have not gotten a report on what needs to be repaired. We've got a loaner in the meantime.
Friday was our last day in Birmingham, AL, as Media Days came to a close at noon, but our trip was far from over. In fact I had no idea how far, but I soon found out. A harbinger should have been the mishap with the elevator. SDP and I fumble the hand off of my room key, and it falls through the crack between the elevator car and the carpeted second floor hallway, ending it's usefulness with an echoing 'click' as it hits the bottom of the elevator shaft. Good grief, as a certain bald kid would say.
Our next planned stop is Saints Training Camp in Jackson, MS. It's on the way home and right about halfway between B'ham and B'Rouge. We meet up with the crew from KTBS, Shreveport, and Jim Lee, Truck Op Extraordinaire, comes up with a clutch idea for us to use his second path to uplink from our crippled truck, with only one cable running between the two. So simple it should be in the field manual.
This shining moment of genius is overshadowed by equipment failure at the station. A whole 30 minute window elapses and they never saw our shot. We saw it and verified it from Shreveport to New York. Time to pack up and head home.
Uh-oh! What's this? A four hour delay? But of course!
SDP and the new guy, who we were meeting in Jackson hop in the sports unit and head for home and a 10 p.m. show, while I wait for someone to fix my dilemma. This truck has no spare.
Turns out it's a 2-inch bolt and I finally crawl into bed around 2:30 in the morning. On top of all this, my camera narrowly avoided career ending injury, not once, but twice. Man I love sports trips.