Tuesday, September 27, 2005

News is...

...more emotionally exhausting than I ever imagined. Sure I worked in the newsroom at the last station when they needed help, but those were usually in times of undue stress (blizzard, Election Night, etc...). Maybe my opinion/experience so far has been colored by what has gone on in the world since I began my new job- the Gaza Pullout, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita....

My opinions about what I do and what others who work in news (any kind- newspaper, TV, etc..) do. I am beginning to feel more proud of my job because it enables me to do something to help disseminate information- info that might help someone in a time of need or even just make them laugh when they're having a bad day. This does not mean that I am going to take myself too seriously and start having some sort of ego trip because I am the gatekeeper of some information. But at the end of the day it makes me feel better that I've done my (small) part in the very selfish society that we live in.

A few good...shows?

Calling all potential producers:

ABC is looking for some new fare on Saturday nights, and they want everyone to know about it. According to Variety, emails were sent out to the production community yesterday that the network is looking for shows that can be produced for less than $500,000 per ep, are broadly appealing, not niche ideas, said the email. Think unscripted, think low cost, which then makes ABC think low risk. They are looking for both big name producers and smaller named producers, tho all submissions must be made through an agency.

(via Cynopsis)

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Situation

With all of the hurricanes that we've watched unfold in the media in the past few weeks I think I've become slightly addicted to The Situation Room on CNN. Maybe it's the multi-media platform? I don't think it's Wolf (no offense Wolf, you're old enough to be my dad). Or it could be because it is on for three hours a day. In my overtired state it disturbs me that I cannot figure this out.
Note- as I sit here watching- Tom Foreman's hair scares me.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Status: limbo

Transition times in life are never easy.
I feel as though I'm in limbo. Neither here nor there. People are moving. And moving on. I feel disembodied. Not a part of things. On the fringes of my former life.
I don't know what is to come for my future. I want to learn everything there is about this job, I want to conquer it and move up in the ranks. I anticipate that the career move I have made will work out, but one can never be without doubt. I sometimes fear that I am kidding myself, that I'm not good enough at what I (currently) do. That my learning curve is not fast enough. That I'll never move beyond my current salary or get health benefits. I worry some days that I seem to be failing at bonding with most of my co-workers. Sure, we chat and say hello. But I feel like I haven't really been able to interact that much in a more informal way (if that makes sense).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

As seen in....

.....the ladies room at the Wickdenden Pub

(Not bad for a picture taken with my cell phone)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

G is for Gloria

This is what a hurricane looks like to me. I am a resident of the northeast where we do not get many hurricanes. The last one I remember actually hitting someplace that I lived was Hurricane Gloria back in 1985. I was five years old. My mom did stock up on water an candles and etc... and warned me to stay away from windows (many trees in our yard) and not to take a bath. She said that we might have to go into the basement if it got really windy because somethign might fly through one of the windows if it got very windy. My most imprinted memory is of my mom lighting a bunch of candles in my room and of us sitting in my bedroom and it got kind of quieter outside and she said that this was the eye of the storm and we shouldn't be fooled into thinking it was over. (no electricity = no nightlight). I wasn't too scared or anything. When I did venture near a window and peeked outside I just saw lots of wind and rain. Nothing spectacular, no flying cows. I think I was more bored than anything because the electricity eventually went out leaving me with no TV. Reading by candlelight is really annoying. There was nothing else to do but go to bed.

The next day she spoke to her parents, who lived about two miles away, and found out about The Tree. There was a massive weeping willow treewith a big, solid trunk in the center of their front yard. I loved that tree. I used to climb up onto the lower branches and play happily with the long, wispy outer ones. Well, the tree had crashed across their driveway. I can't remember if it crushed the one car that was in the driveway or not (neither does my mom). But who could really see what was under all of those willow branches? It was one of the most amazing things I'd seen in my five years of life. This huge thing that I viewed as permanent and solid had been knocked over by this thing called a hurricane. And The Tree had knocked down the power line across from my their house and I wasn't to go anywhere near it or I might get electrocuted. I was now much more impressed by Gloria's strength.

Reporter safety

So much for toning down live shots of dripping wet, adrenaline junkie reporters.....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Finding fault

Everyone has a theory on who is to blame for the problems associated with Hurricane Katrina- from an evacuation that didn't come in time, the looting, to relief agencies (federal and non-profit) not getting to the battered Gulf Coast fast enough, and so on.... The Boston Globe's version of the timeline of the disaster was endorsed by none other than NBC's Brian Williams, blogging on The Daily Nightly today:

So far the best work I've read on the anatomy of this disaster was published by the Boston Globe. It is called CHRONOLOGY OF ERRORS: HOW A DISASTER SPREAD. While there will be many others, for a snapshot of a crisis that is still unfolding, it's an impressive piece of journalism.

I find it fascinating that by blogging, Williams can essentially give his seal or approval to particular newspaper (or any other form of media), which he cannot do on The Nightly News program itself. One of the things that I like about The Daily Nightly is that it is written by the actual people who bring you the news. Public Eye, the blog of CBS News, seems to be written by people who were hired for the particular purpose of blogging:

New budgets were approved by the uber-bosses to staff Public Eye. The Public Eye team is officially employed by CBS Digital Media, not CBS News, giving them independence that is unprecedented for journalism's watchdogs.

Update (after receiving coment on post from Dick Meyer at CBS): I don't have a problem with the path that CBS has chosen to pursue (not like they'd really care if I did) in terms of hiring newsroom 'outsiders' to blog about CBS News. It is a fascinating contrast to the concept of the people who deliver the news posting their own personal opinions and recommendations. In a way it gives the talent and the producers a chance to editorialize that they would normally not get to do. Or at least that's how it appears.

{After reading the piece in The Boston Globe it is my opinion that the fault rests not with any particular (federal, state, or local) government agency, but with the red tape that was required of them.

In a timely fashion

I got a phone call this morning from a place that I had put in a job application at back in
June. June. That's a heck of a long time, especially considering that they told me back in June that they were hiring for July.
I got one last week as well from the place* that I had to do a phone interview with back in July. I also had an interview with this organization on August 2, the day before meeting with Steve about a potential job at the TV station. I wrote thank you emails but didn't hear back form them. Last week I got a call wanting to know if I could come back to meet with the executive director about the job. I called back and politely said I had taken another job since I'd met with them. The guy on the phone expressed disappointment and basically admitted that they knew they'd taken too long to get their act together. Oh well, their loss. Steve's gain.

*I'm not really sure that I wanted that job anyway. Especially because I have since heard some not totally positive things about working for that organization (not what they do, it's legit and a great cause, but office politics and such)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Order and disorder

Katrina: a TV cameraman's diary, part two
...The lack of a plan is still the big story. Who is in charge? What is going to be done first? What are the goals? Evacuation? No evacuation? The New Orleans Police Department is trying to rebuild itself, and the National Guard seems to be the most organized. But there are way too many cops from as far away as Reno driving around with shotguns and M-16s.

This is like a giant summer camp for law enforcement. There are hundreds of black and whites, armored cars, assault vehicles, and lawmen carrying every type of firearm ever made. Its as though every police chief in the country put 20 officers in 5 cars and sent them to New Orleans - on overtime.

Of course, many are helping, but some have no orders or task to complete. So they drive around all day taking pictures, and then they go and sleep in their cars with the engine running and the air conditioning on. They are sightseers with guns taking happy snaps to show to all the folks at home. Complete with long tales of how they saved New Orleans....

What a waste. Of resources and talent. I imagine that the police who drove down to NOLA to help out must feel so useless. No directions, no orders, no jurisdiction. I think back to 9/11 (I was living in NY at the time, just outside NYC) and I remember police and firefighters and other rescue outfstreamingmign into the city from many far away places (including an EMT* related to a good friend of mine). They got their orders, did what they were told- dig through the rubble, transport, etc...despite the fact that the main communications center for NYC emergency management agency (not sure of officials name) and the HQ of the Port Authority had just been lost in the collapse of the buildings. The situations are not entirely comparable. Granted there was no looting in NYC n 9/11, but rather an eerie calm came over the NY metro area during those following few days. And people somehow managed to flee the city (including friends and family of mine) in some fashion most easlabeledbled organized chaos.

Katrina: a cameraman's journal in NOLA
What's missing from the rescue is apparent to anyone. A simple plan. It's like no one ever gave it a real thought. Simple things like storage of emergency rations, clothing, tents, etc. in strategic locations.communications that allow different entities to talk to one another, emergency plans and routing for moving large numbers of people (easily done with the hundreds of public and school transit buses available locally), and the list goes on.
You think we would've learned something from events like 9/11. Hell, I'm about ready to go out and buy a lot batterieseis and canned food and seal off some sort of safe room in my basement. I'm from the suburbs, not socompoundund in Idaho. It takes a lot to scare me into contemplating a survivalist mentality. The lack preparednessnss theteh part of all of these organizations is changing my view on things.

I have driven from one end of New Orleans to the other - a drive of over 7 miles, and repeatedly not seen one cop, guardsman, trooper. And where is the Red Cross? Not ONE. Everyone on the street says, Where's the Red Cross? I gave them so much money after 9/11 and the tsunami - where's the Red Cross. The cops I've asked say they are not here because they are afraid. The Red Cross says that the authorities are not letting them in the city. I find that hard to believe. The police can't even secure a few blocks, let alone keep the Red Cross out. Helping victims in New Orleans is exactly why the Red Cross was created.
I'll bet that they (the Red Cross) were scared. I mean people did shoot at doctors and nurses of one NOLA hospital who who attempting to evacuate patients in their own vehicles. If I was the Red Cross I wouldn't want to be shot at either.

*who had also been to Oklahoma City after the bombing

Boston bound?

Can't sleep. Body clock all screwed up.

There are many reasons to move to Boston:
  • closer to work (which can make a difference when you need to be at work at 5AM)
  • internal clock and sleep schedule might be less screwed up if I lived closer to my job.
  • larger city, less claustrophobic than it can be here
  • price of gas is astronomical, I'm spending like three times more gas now with the commute. It took $40 to fill up my tank the other day. $40! And I have a Subaru
  • my car is old and slightly uncomfortable for long drives
  • who will shovel the driveway fro me at 3:30 AM in a blizzard so I can get to work? (not to sound prissy, but it is a lot of shoveling for one person to do)
  • to round out the snow in the driveway problem my street is one of the last ones in the area to get plowed, despite the fact that there is a school at the end of it. Things can get so political here, even over something like plowing

There are , of course, reasons not to move:
  • it's very safe to go out to my car at 4 AM
  • cost of living is lower here
  • not sure I can afford Boston (well, safe at 4 AM neighborhoods there)
  • parking issues galore in Boston, really tough to find decent housing with parking that is not way out of my price range and also near the T
  • I have a semblance of a life here- people I care about and who are about me
Now that I've gotten some of this off my chest perhaps I can sleep.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Blog deals

Yet another blog leads to a book deal for the author. Usually it seems that people toil for years working on manuscripts, then sending the tomes out to publishing houses while possibly facing multiple rejection letters. The internet seems to have changed the process. Now if you have a blog or website that catches the eye of some important publishing character you might just have yourself a book deal. Kind of neat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I heart newsmap. I'm reading a lot of new things that I might not have not have on regular Google news since I can be lazy and not scroll down all the way sometimes.

Gaza blog

A Gaza blog (via Joho). Don't have much of an opinion on it yet. It's kind of like reading a traffic report. I like that it features both Israeli and Palestinian sources. That is a good sign of an attempt to be fair and balanced. I also feel that it is not as comprehensive as it could be.
For some reason I a bit bothered by the fact that it is funded by USAID. I'm not really sure why they need a blog, especially one hosted by blogger (why not do it from their own page?) , when a press release should/could suffice.

Workplace relations

I am adjusting to the new job. The people here seem nice, those that I've met anyway. Something funny about TV stations seems to be the amount of people who work there but don't know each other. The News people stay in the newsroom and Sales people stay in their area. Sometimes the Promotions people feel the need to venture into the newsroom. Sometimes. And Editors can always hide in the edit bays. As for Sports, they sort of exist in their own little world.
Another observation of mine as I venture into my third year working at a TV station is how incestuous this business can sometimes be. (Especially when you have two or three TV markets in such close proximity). I tend to shy away from dating co-workers. Or as my friend J says "you don't shit where you eat". I know of people who married co-workers and it has worked out wonderfully for them. In these cases it seems that one spouse eventually ends up working somewhere else for whatever reason.

I'm not going to say that some people aren't tempting.....but I'd hate to have things end badly and people get nasty and passive-aggressive, especially when you add the stress of the work environment. I'm not worried about me, I'm not passive-aggressive. If I have a problem I generally say something about it. But some people (men) just can't deal with a woman who can express herself. Call me a bitch if you want. It's a power word to me.

5 AM

It's getting easier...I even made it here by 4:45 AM. Then I'll get all screwed up again by next Monday.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

First responders

Fascinating. Brian Williams blogs about beating the first responders to the scene in New Orleans. And after watching NBC Nightly News tonight I think that Brian Williams, or his producer, or someone is making an effort to try to educate the public on how the decisions about the news and what goes on the news get made. Tonight the lead story was the blackout in L.A. Then came the story about the confirmation hearings for John Roberts. At this point Williams explained to the audience that normally the confirmation hearings would've been the lead story.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Jews + Missionaries

A repost of something I worte a while ago.
(As seen on Jewish Connection)
Jewish Education + Missionaries
I value my Jewish education (Schechter school from K-8 and yeshiva HS) for the questioning nature, concept of tikkun olam, biblical factoids that help me do well when playing Trivial Pursuit, and sense of depth it has imbued in me. I also value it because it has helped me easily shoo away some missionaries I’ve encountered.

The Hare Krishna Guy
Picture it- New Years Eve of the new millennium, Big Cypress Reservation in Florida’s Everglades. I was there to attend a Phish concert and enjoy the sunshine. Besides a few college friends I was accompanied by an old friend form my Schechter school. One day as we wandered around the campgrounds a guy wearing a saffron colored robe stopped us. Having recently taken a intro course to Eastern Religions I immediately recognized him as a member of the Hare Krishna sect. He began his spiel when one of us (not sure if it was me or my friend, D) piped up with “Umm…we’re Jewish”. The man began speaking about how all religions are related, or some nonsense like that. I countered with “I just read this great book called The Jew in the Lotus about how Buddhism and Judaism have some fundamental things in common”. Saffron man asked me more about the book. I told him a bit about it. He wrote down the title, thanked us, and walked away. D and I looked at each other and one of us said “Wow, all that $$$ my parents spent on Jewish education was worth it for the fact that we made a Hare Krishna walk away wanting to learn more about Judaism”.

The Mormons Go To Shul
Picture it- about 10 am on a Saturday, the summer of 2000, a hippie college town in upstate NY. I have just gotten up and am wearing pajamas consisting of a tank top, no bra, and boxer shorts. The doorbell rings. Who could it be so early on a Saturday? Mormons (the neat shirt and tie plus names tags gave them away instantly. Dressing up inIthaca means not wearing your Birkenstocks). The main door was open, meaning that they could see me through the screen door. Busted! I had to interact with them. They begin their spiel. I tell them that I had just learned about Mormonism in a class called Sociology of Religion. I then inform them that I’m probably not a good prospect, being that I am Jewish. They seem happy to hear this and then babble on about how our two religions are related. We are kinfolk. From the LDS website: The Book of Mormon is another witness that Jesus Christ really lived, that He was and is God’s Son. It contains the writings of ancient prophets. One of these, Lehi, lived in Jerusalem around 600 B.C. God commanded Lehi to lead a small group of people to the American continent. There they became a great civilization. I kind of nod. Then they tell me that they’d gone to temple the night before to celebrate the Sabbath. They really enjoyed it, even though they could not understand that language that people prayed in. “Hebrew” I inform them. Perhaps because of my tired state I then go on to explain the difference between biblical Hebrew and modern day Hebrew. They are very excited at this point and tell me that they are off to the library or something to learn more about Judaism…since we’re kin and all… A housemate comes out of hibernation and asks whom I was talking to. I tell him the story and he says “see you didn’t go to Hebrew school for nothing”. “Exactly” I reply “and worth every penny”.

[Side note- morning of college graduation another housemate answers the door to two Jehovah’s Witnesses. They begin to talk. B cuts them off with “Three Unitarians and a Jew live here. I really think you’ve got the wrong house.” Closes door.]

I told my parents those two stories and they said that it made them feel that spending all that money on my Jewish education was indeed worth it to ward off proselytizers, know who I am, where I come from, and to stay Jewish.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Boss Blog- the experiment

I've always had a certain admiration for artists and the vulnerability that they are able to show. They put their works, therefore themselves, out there for all kind of public scrutiny. So do journalists- their job hazards go beyond dodging flying shrapnel in a war zone or the boredom that comes with covering a town meeting. They also include the possibility of screwing up on live TV and the fact that people have no problem calling the station to tell you that they think your haircut is bad or that your new suit makes you look bloated.
I tend to be the kind of person who shies away from letting myself be vulnerable in any sort of situation. My online life has evolved from the paranoia of my first days as a blogger (in the blog before this one). My writing, my thoughts, and my feelings were now fair game for anyone online who fancied themselves a critic. Now I'm venturing forth where not many people (if any at all) have gone- I'm now sharing a blog with my boss. If I screw up at work, the whole internet can read about it. I hope that he realizes that I am demonstrating incredible trust in him with this endeavor.
Was this the smartest move I've ever made? Who knows? I guess I'll find out.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Not very presidential

This was not the most appropriate thing for President Bush to say about the recent hurricane:

(From the AP)
President Bush is trying to pump up what he calls a "tidal wave of compassion" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Smart choice of words, with that recent tsunami and all......

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Single forever?

I hate my new schedule. Working weekend nights plus early AM Monday through Wednesday might kill me (from my body clock being out of whack) or my social life. I worry sometimes that I'll turn into one of those people who is single forever because of their strange work hours. It may sound like I'm being dramatic but I do know people like that who work in media. More people than I care to actually. I've always felt sort of bad for them and now I wish not to turn into one.
I just feel so alone now. There are things that I'd much rather be doing than sitting home alone on this Sunday night of Labor Day weekend. I just got back from work (it's 11:30 PM) and have to leave again for work again at 4 AM (working in the media sucks sometimes). How am I supposed to have a life when I have to go to bed before 8 PM some nights to get up to be at work for 5 AM? (It does not help that work is 45 minutes away without traffic). I like my job and I knew about the schedule when I took it but that does not mean that I have to like the hours.
I'm young. I want to be out partying like I should be at my age, savoring my youth and all.....but here I sit. Alone at the computer. It is frustrating when I come home from work and people are already out and drunk and, well, basically can't come out and play with me because they're already too busy for me and my late/odd work hours. Selfish, a bit. But that's what blogs are for sometimes.


OK, first of all, I have no sympathy for your schedule woes. I worked overnight for something like six years. Your schedule isn't THAT bad. I know it can feel sometimes like you will be "single forever," but you are WAY too young to be in that mindset. If anything, this is the right time for you to be on this kind of schedule. You don't want to be doing this when you're married. The hoary old news chestnut of "paying your dues" is a cliché for a reason - we all have to do it. And you'd much rather do it now than when you're trying to start a family. I hate to sound like the Old Fart that I am, but I can't possibly count how many holidays I missed, parties I couldn't go to, and milestones in my kids' lives I wasn't there for. (I found out about my daughters first steps over the phone.)

You're just starting out. Working the ugly side of the day will give you a deeper appreciation for a real schedule when you get to that point. In the meantime, I suggest the ol' "come into work on the weekends straight from the bar" plan so many journalists master in the early days of their career.

There's nothing wrong with blogging your woes or being "selfish" as you put it. We're all selfish. Especially me.

Gaza pullout, a look back

The Hurricane Katrina frenzy has made me think back to the Gaza pullout a few weeks ago.
Training for my new job, as web producer at a TV station, fell on the days after disengagement. Talk about baptism by fire.....it was chaotic in the newsroom that day and I had things to do and learn but I could not help but be affected by those images of what was going on in Gaza beamed around the world.
Steve made a good point in his comment on my last post.
"Good journalists try to tell the world what's happening. We didn't make the disaster - but hopefully your work will help those affected by it. "
I might whine about my hours or pay or whatnot (don't we all sometimes?) but overall I feel that my job is important in the sense that I can aid in the dissemination of information. Information that could be lifesaving, uplifting, or simply informative.
Some people (even friends of mine) might scoff at those of us who work in the media. They complain about bias and lack of depth and other things. But when it comes down to it, when there's a Hurricane Katrina, a Gaza pullout, or a tsunami, we are all glued to the TV. There is something comforting in being able to know that the images you are watching are probably the same, if not similar, to what people all over are watching. That shared imagery can bring people together. I cannot count the number of times people of my parents' generation speak with reverence and awe about watching that first moon landing in 1969. I'm sure that I will tell my kids about when I saw the Berlin Wall come down. Not because I was there, but because a journalist was. And because of that I could share in the awe of this physical symbol of Communism crumble.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina media frenzy

Is it wrong of me to wish that the Hurricane Katrina media frenzy ends soon?
I'm all for using the media to help families locate each other and happy things like that, but just how many more pictures of broken levees do we need to see? After a certain point we become immune to the repeated shots of people stranded on highway bridges, wading through the floodwaters, and the like. After something huge and horrible (London bombings, tsunami, etc..) we spend the first few days glued to the TV and/or the internet. But then the shock of the imagery begins to fade. The video all begins to blur into a never-ending loop.
I will say that it is nice that the media can share so many stories on the outpouring of support domestically and from abroad.

Full disclosure- I work in the TV business, so I suppose that I am one of those perpetuating the fetish for disaster imagery, but only because I get paid to. ( I can be hypocritical. It's my blog).

Friday, September 02, 2005

I wonder if this ever happened to Cronkite?

In the past few days I have often wondered about the mental health of the journalists covering catastrophic events like these. What I had to deal with at work in the newsroom yesterday- reading story after story about the devastation, not being able to escape the images of wreckage and ruin- left me feeling depressed and raw. It was horrible to be bombarded by all those images of suffering but it was nothing compared to how hard it must be for those how are actually there.

I wonder if this ever happened to Cronkite? I wonder if it was ever this bad covering Vietnam or WWII?

NBC's Kerry Sanders was at the airport in New Orleans, which is serving as a makeshift hospital and transport center for hospital patients:
  • I cannot believe what I am seeing here in the New Orleans area. IÂ’ve been reporting for 21 years around the world and I've never seen the likes of this.
  • This is, I think, the hardest story IÂ’ve ever covered. Emotionally, IÂ’m just really being tested. I cannot believe what IÂ’m seeing.
  • Perhaps the most difficult thing for me was when I woke up this morning next to two dead bodies....went to sleep last night on an extra stretcher....The cameraman with me said they actually tried to take my stretcher during the night. They thought that I was one of the victims, until he told them I was OK and to leave me there.
  • It is human misery as people are lying in pain, ailing and wailing....The pained screams from patients is like fingers on a chalkboard because there is nothing you can do to reach out and help these people.

Ethics of looting

A relative recently told me the story of what happened when she was liberated from the work camp (note that this is different from a concentration camp) she was in at the end of WWII . She and her friend wandered into the nearby town where an Allied soldier saw that they had no shoes on. He took them to an 'abandoned' store and told each girl (they were about 15-years-old) to pick out a pair of shoes that fit. This leads me to conclude that there is a certain code of ethics when it comes to looting.

  1. Milk
  2. Bread
  3. Water
  4. Diapers
  5. TV
  6. DVD player

It is easier to rationalize the taking of those first four items, as they are all basic staples. As it has been pointed out to me, Jean Valjean stole only a loaf of bread and only because it was necessary to. It is hard to understand why anyone in New Orleans needs a DVD player right now, being that there is no electricity.

The experts have weighed in:

Ethicists and social psychologists said in interviews that rules of human behavior _ including respect for others' property and for social order itself _ dissolve quickly in desperate circumstances like the storm's aftermath.....In the cauldron of lawlessness that is New Orleans, these ivory-tower hypotheticals are being played out with life-or-death consequences.

Yet I don't remember there being much looting after the devastating tsunami in Indonesia last December. (And neither does anyone else I've posed the question to). If I remember correctly the victims did whatever they could to help each other, similar to the way people behaved after the liberation of the concentration camps.

A picture is worth 1000 words

check out this before and after

"May I help you?"

I'm filling in for the front desk receptionist at the station today while he's out on vacation. I'm kind of bored out here since I'm used to the crowded and slightly chaotic newsroom. It's also cold out here. I wonder if anyone will notice if I change the temp?

Safe & sound

Spoke to E last night. She is in Tennessee for now, she does not know for how long. Her life is on hold. She and her roommate still have her rommate's 4-year-old nephew with the, as his mom and little brother were evacuated from the hospital they were at to another one north of the city. In a brilliant move by authorities the hospital in the town they evacuated to also had no electricity (well, OK, the town itself had none). Not to criticize rescue efforts, but isn't that somehow counterintuitive?
Her roommate's other sister is a nurse who was called into work at the hospital due to the storm. Her hospital was only able to secure one bus to evacuate their patients, who could not all fit on that one bus. Employees were forced to take other patients and the patients' family members in their own cars. As the sister drove out of New Orleans, her car stuffed with patients, family, etc..., people on the street began shooting at her. Apparently they wanted her car.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I don't say this lightly, but the images and descriptions of the dead bodies in the convention center and on the streets remind me of the way my grandparents described the state of some of the bunkers in the woods that they lived in (if you can call it that) while they were fleeing the Nazis during WWII. Watching the videos of people evacuating the Gulf Coast stuffed into any vehicle that they can find reminds me of the evacuation of the refugees in Europe after WWII.

Lake New Orleans

The frenzied pit that is (now) Lake New Orleans has made work a very busy place. But for me it's more personal than that. A good friend of mine from childhood ("E") lives (lived?) in New Orleans.

When Hurricane Katrina hit I was on vacation in Montreal. I was there to see the sights, take in the culture, marvel at the architecture, and see how good the exchange rate was. I knew that there was some sort of hurricane headed for the Gulf Coast but didn't think much more of it than most people. CNN was one of the few English TV channels available (the other was the CBC, whose staff is on strike- they did the best they could) at the first hotel I stayed at, but being that this was a vacation I hardly spent any time in the hotel room sitting around watching TV (especially since most of the channels were in French and my French is pretty much non-existent).

It wasn't until I got an email from my friend, D, asking if E had managed to get out of New Orleans, as the storm had hit the city pretty hard. Since I'd by now moved to a different hotel with wirelss internet I surfed my way through the major news sites and was stunned by the devastation that I saw. I fired off an email to her not expecting a response (as I had no cell phone in Montreal). After a few confusing emails to and from my mom and D, I found out that my friend was indeed safe. All we knew was that she had exited safely and was presumed to be staying with relatives of her roommate in northern Louisiana.

I spent Monday night in Toronto at the home a friend. The family and I proceeded to watch the major cable news networks (they get pretty much teh same basic cable news channels that we do in the states). As experts began to speak about levies and water pumps and dead bodies floating in the streets I began to see just how much worse the situation was than I'd originally thought it to be.

Once we hit I-90 in New York on Tuesday I found out that seemingly every rest stop in the NYS Thruway has a TV permanently tuned in to CNN. Every rest area we pulled into we saw more devastation that had spread far beyond the Big Easy. I was also now worried about another friend who is stationed at the naval air base in Pensacola. I tried his cell phone* to see if he was alright. It turned out that he'd gone home to Oregon on leave and the Navy phoned him to tell him not to come back to base just yet, they were evacuating it due to the storm. Relieved that he was out of danger (and knowing that his cell phone worked) I tried calling E and was greeted with "due to the hurricane the cellular customer you are trying to reach in unavailable". Chilling.

I was relieved on Wednesday morning to get an email from E:

I'm ok, in Knoxville, TN too tired to write now, will write some time soon. Won't be back in New Orleans for a long time.
Even though I knew she was out of harm's way, it made me feel better to hear from her that she's safe and sound and out of the pit of Hades that the city had devolved into. As are her cats, her roommate, her roommate's 4-year-old nephew (they were babysitting when the storm hit), and dog. She has no idea what has become of her house. Her grad school program (she has one semester left) is obviously on hold, as is her life.

*By now my cell phone was working again

Day 5- Toronto & I-90

Sadly today is the last of my vacation to the great land that is Canada. I got a quick tour of Toronto this morning before driving home-historic Cabbagetown, Leaside, Chinatown, and the provincial government building. The University of Toronto has a beautiful campus with some fascinating buildings (the theme of the trip is architecture and design).
Montreal and Toronto both seem like such functional cities where people live, work, and play all without needing to leave the city. Good public transportation seems to be essential to their liveablitiy.

The ride home was long. We crossed back into the USA at Niagara Falls after checking out the offerings at the duty free shop. The trip along I-90 through central NY made me sort of nostalgic for college, as it was sad to be so close to Ithaca and not to be able to show off the true beauty of the Finger Lakes region (vs. what one sees on the Thruway). It was also sad to see the increasing damage to the Gulf Coast on the CNN-equipped TVs at every rest area.

Day 4-Au Revoir Montreal, Hello Hockey Hall of Fame

It was a long-ish car ride from Montreal to Toronto and as much as I liked Montreal I felt an immense sense of relief as English showed itself to be the predominant language in Ontario. (I hated having to ask "what does this mean?" every few minutes).

The car ride was worth it as I finally got to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. (I've only been wanting to visit since high school). I have to admit that I didn't like the way the exhibits were set up. So much memorabilia made it feel like a hall of mirrors as I passed the "Legends- Past & Present" exhibit for the fourth time while looking for the ladies room. But it was all worth it when I got to touch the Stanley Cup. (How many other museums let you touch their most prized possession? Ever try to touch one of those Monet's at the Met in NYC? A lot of alarms go off once your hand even brushes within an inch of the painting). It was amazing that the silver trophy was not entrenched behind some complex security screen. There was a guy there to take your 'official' photo and to make sure that you don't maul it or something. But there it stood, begging to be touched. I ran my fingers over the silver rings that had also been handled by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Maurice Richard, Ray Bourque, Brian Leetch, and Gordie Howe. it was an almost indescribable experience that elicited a combination of joy, excitement, relief, and awe.
The evening was spent with a friend's family who lives in Toronto. Sometimes homemade food and a comfy home is much preferable to a hotel room.