Friday, January 29, 2010

My Bout With Jack Frost (but he hasn't seen the last of me...)

While most of you guys are at home sleeping and waiting to see if your school/business is closed or delayed, there's a group of people that go to work before sunrise to make sure you stay in the know. That's where I come in. Or at least...where I'm supposed to.

My job this morning was to make sure you see the lovely KTAB reporters that freeze their tails off to give you a live report on the weather and road conditions. Little did I know that I would be the one left to freeze...with no lights or cameras. (By the way, while I was writing this blog, the power in my apartment suddenly shut off, so I know this day is off to a great start.)

I got a call from my boss saying I needed to be in around 6 o' clock. Sure!

I hopped out of bed, got ready, headed out the door, unlocked my car with a press of a button, started to pull the door handle, but the door wouldn't budge! No biggie. I'll just go back in my apartment and get some water and an ice scraper.

Take two: Armed with my water bottle and a scraper, I started to tackle my ice problems again. I watered down my door and chipped off some ice, but still no progress. You can't beat me, Jack Frost, I'll just open up one of the other three doors and slide my way to the driver's seat. But first, I needed to retreat back into my apartment because the bitter cold plus my wet hands and clothes equaled what felt like a frost bite.

Take three: With my gloves in tow and a fresh batch of water, I started to water down all of my doors. Scrape, scrape, chip, chip...STILL NOTHING?!?? At that point, I felt a bit perturbed because I've already seen three other people go to their cars, get in with ease, and drive off into the darkness. (Mind you, because of where I parked, each driver had to blast their headlights at me while I tried to avoid looking foolish). Mr. Frost was making a joke out of me, so I had to regroup and run back into my apartment. Plus, I couldn't feel my fingers or toes again.

Take four: About 25 minutes had passed since my first try. I called my boss to let her know why I was running late (which I'm sure sounded more like "my doggie ate my homework"). When I hung up the phone, my de-icing routine turned into 'Operation Open Up.' Ice scraper? check! More water? check! Let's do this!

My original "scrape, scrape, chip, chip" turned into "scrape, chip, kick, hit, kick, scream!"
With numb fingertips, a possible bruised hip, and a slightly damaged paint job, I got a call from my boss.

"Hello? Umm...yeah....still can't get in. No, I'm still outside of my apartment. Alright." ::click:: She told me to give it up and go back inside.

Oh the shame! I'm not that worker who calls in! I usually pull off any situation, but the ice on my car today was no joke (and what's crazy is that the roads around my area had no serious ice issues). Oh well, I guess there's always a lesson with each passing day.

Prior to this incident, I'd hear about freezing temperatures and think everyone was just overreacting. "What's a few hours of cold weather gonna do?" Now I'm starting to think the weather people actually know what they're talking about.

Just wish I didn't have to learn it this way....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What an Assignment

Katherine Lane and Tim Johnston's trip to cover the devastating earthquake is an amazing assignment. It's what starry-eyed college journalism students dream of when they declare a major.
They are going to the site of one of the biggest events in the world. This is likely one of the most significant world events for all of 2010. Their reports will help all of us understand the horror and the heroism. Many of us had to choke those green-eyed monsters when we learned that our colleagues were on the way to document the work of the Dyess Airmen helping with the relief efforts. This is the kind of story that transforms a young reporter into a veteran. The things they are seeing, hearing and smelling will change them just as certainly as the event is changing Haiti. We are anxious to see and hear what they see and hear...and to feel something of what they feel because of the tragedy and relief work.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Day, A New Delay

By: Katherine Lane

So far, the trip can be summed up with one word: Delayed. I have to say, the stress of these delays has been a little much, but every time I get worried about making it to Haiti at all, I remember we're being delayed for the greater good of the Haitian people.

In the time spent between delays, I've had a BLAST. Every time I've felt like we were not going to be able to eat or get to Haiti at all, someone in the Air Force has come through for us! When we were told today at the hotel that the nearest food establishment was a 2 mile walk away, a car miraculously appeared from the Base Commanders office to take us to the BX (like a food court + Dillards + Wal-Mart and all Duty-Free!)

Right now, I am sitting in a Florida Starbucks, uploading video and establishing a game plan for the rest of the day. We are so fortunate to have found a ride with a sweet Air Force Inn employee who brought us straight here! Another fine example of how well we've been treated!

Currently, our plan is to hang out in the Inn's lobby until we get picked up at 1:30 am to be taken to the Flight Line where we will board a C-130 and head to Haiti around 4am.

I hope this plan will stick, I'm anxious to see our Airmen at work doing something they are all so ready and prepared to do. Sweet dreams, everyone! Hopefully while you are sleeping soundly, we will be Haiti-bound!

Getting Bumped is Hard to Do...But It's for a Good Cause

If you've seen the Twitter updates (which I'm still learning to make), you've no doubt seen the back and forth emotions and plans we've gone through. It's been a wild ride, but I'm seeing the best of these men and women as they re-group and readjust to follow the orders given.

While it's been tough to stay on edge since Thursday, when we learned this trip was possible, I'm learning to be flexible. I touched on that in my first's even more true, now. Although, I'm also learning to see the greater good being served, each time we get scratched from a flight.

Recap: We've been scheduled and rescheduled on 8 different flights now... Kinda tough to see the whole number there...But it's important that you know why we've been bumped from each of these flights: The crew, and the supplies.

For several flights, the plans have changed because of crew rest and health. That's fair, they work so hard, they need their rest. I'm in no position to grant that, but I certainly support it.

However, on two flights now we've been scratched simply because the plane was too full, and that is a good thing!! Each flight has been packed full of supplies and trucks to use by the military to get the goods to the people in need.

Sure it's a challenge trying to keep up with the latest plans, but when I weigh out the good that can and will be done with simply one C-130 fully loaded with supplies, I can take the heartache.

It's so cool to see the planes being stocked from front to back with palettes of water and medical supplies. Don't worry we taped the whole process, and courtesy the wifi at Starbucks you should be able to see that video on the news tonight. (crossing fingers)

Anyway, that has been one of the many conversations we (the media crew and Dyess PAs) have had as we analyze the many ups and downs of this trip. Still, the relief is coming, and THAT is encouraging.

I've never been more proud of my country

Needless to say, I am INCREDIBLY thankful to be here! It's been a wild trip so far and I've already learned a lot. Here's a short rundown of my most memorable life lessons thus far:

1. MRE's are NOT that bad! I tried a delicious "Spicy Penne Pasta with Vegetable and Sausage" and LOVED it.

2. You don't get much warning when traveling with the Air Force. As you may have noticed, our plans have changed about every hour since we arrived at 6 am on Saturday morning. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've packed and repacked my small backpack.

3. It's wonderful traveling with all men. They have extra room in their suitcases for the things I couldn't fit in mine, I always get to be first in line, and they are most definitely entertaining!

4. The Air Force is beyond a well-oiled machine. I have never been more proud of my country and truly understand the sacrifices these men and women make everyday. They do it simply because they love their country. I think everyone should be able to have this opportunity, their pride is contagious.

5. I will forever appreciate any airline, even sketchy ones. Not that I haven't enjoyed my transportation, but a C-130 is all about function, not comfort. When I asked where the womens restroom was, I was pointed in the direction of a curtain and a bucket. No joke.

We are here to report on the Dyess Airmen and women and I have to say, they make my job very easy. These men and women are unbelievable. When a job needs to be done, they do it. We have been treated like Kings and Queens and they make us feel so welcome. I will forever be indebted to Dyess for giving me the most incredible experience I've ever had. I look forward to sharing more insight into our adventure, but it's time to turn in for the night! We are Haiti-bound tomorrow, FINALLY! I am so unbelievably thankful for the opportunity to be going and I promise to bring as much back with me as I possibly can. Bon Voyage!

Check out more pics of our trip in a slideshow here:

Katherine Lane (written Sunday at 11:22 p.m.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And We're Off...Wait, Nevermind

WOW! I've always heard stories about being ready in this ever-changing news world, but to be honest, nothing has been this wild. In the last 24 hours, I've gone from covering the Joe Rangel trial, to breaking news of a 14 year old boy getting burned by an exploded paint can (told he's doing better), to getting a call to leave with Dyess Airmen bound for Haiti.

[Deep Breath]

I was on the scene for a live shot, at ten o'clock, where I made the casual joke to KTAB's Katherine Lane about getting "the call" (we were told Thursday to standby for the call to go with Dyess). She laughed, we did our live shots...then BAM! "The call" came. So we broke away from the scene grabbed our gear and our pre-packed bags, all while frantically calling family, friends, and co-workers to tell them of the latest news.

[Exhale Deep Breath]

So here's, the life we've lived since. We arrived at Dyess at 11. Left after 1, still not knowing what we were going to do, and for how long (common theme, take note). Landed at base in Carolina, at 5:30 Am, and crashed in bed.

Now this trip wasn't that easy, the flight on a C-130 was no "easy" task, our Airmen might disagree. The flight consists of sitting on a makeshift canvas seat, equipped with seat belt, and midway through soon became our cots for sleeping. Not the easiest thing to do, needless to say, I tossed and turned and was tossed and turned by turbulence...

So we arrive, and are told we'd leave sometime later Saturday night. We rested, ate, and prepped for a late night departure.

Only the pilot came down ill...plans begin to shift....will we leave, tonight? Will we leave, at all?

Plans shift again.

We are now set, as I write this, to get a new Herc (AF slang for C-130, I'm picking up on what I can), with a new crew and are looking to set out for Haiti, later tonight (still Saturday, for those keeping score).

It's been wild, but these boys from Dyess are taking good care of us, and keep a positive attitude through this all. I guess, they just keep the mission in mind, and right now it's all about helping those in desperate need in Haiti.

***Okay, after writing this blog post on Saturday, and looking to post it, things changed AGAIN! Just so you know. We’re told TODAY is THE day…Fingers crossed.

It's apparent, you must be flexible because in a moment's notice you're either going on not. For now, we are. I'll update as soon as we can, maybe even with video, Wi-Fi isn't always readily available...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"This is what we train for"

You could see the excitement in the eyes of Capt. Wesley Stark as we stood inside the 40th Airlift Squadron headquarters at 11:30 at night.

He was on a mission to help people.

"We'd much rather be doing this than flying our training missions, he said, trying to repress a grin. "Those get monotenous sometimes. This is the real-world mission that we're trained to do."

Right now, the Air Force is puppeteering 900 daily relief missions in and out of Haiti.

"We work for 16 to 18 hours. Then we'll get an hour of rest, and do it all over again until they tell us to quit."

I can imagine the uncertainty can be a thrilling part of the job.

"I'm very excited," Stark reiterated. "This is what we train for. It's pretty amazing that we can do these relief missions and fight the war at the same time. So I'm getting a break from that,

With so many people working in the relief mission, Stark said he's sure he's going to run into friends. He flew on a similar rescue mission following Hurricane Dean in 2007.

Stark allowed two of our reporters to go along on his C-130, and said he wants Americans to see what the Air Force does for relief on such a large scale.

I wish all of them luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I love Abilene

So I am new to the area. I've been here 7 weeks now and I love it. It's not that cold, the snow doesn't stick around to long, and everyone is really friendly. I moved here from Pocatello Idaho. Anyone heard of it? I think it's about 30 degrees there and snowy. Don't get me wrong, I love the snow, but I hate driving in it. Also, I know a lot of you will disagree, but the shopping here nice. Pocatello has no Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Dillards, and the list goes on and on.

With that said, is there any place around here that I have to see? Is there something so cool about the big county.... that you take your out of state friends to see it when they come to town? If so, I want to see it.

Leno/Conan Update: "Coco" Takes the Gloves Off

Since my last post, the Leno/Conan saga has become exponentially more fascinating. Now, we know that Leno will be back at 10:35 after the Olympics, and Conan has one foot out the door at NBC. And it's fascinating to see high-profile people take sides in this debacle.

Leno has the backing of the only people who matter: NBC executives. Jeff Zucker, whose reputation is that of an executive who fails upward, won't let go of Leno. Longtime NBC executive Dick Ebersol TRASHED Conan in the New York Times. Never mind that his reasoning was absurd and contradictory; he cited ratings as the reason why he's not sad to see Conan go. But for two years, Leno got crushed by David Letterman. A lucky break got Leno on track (a "hard-hitting" interview with Hugh Grant after he was caught with a hooker).

Now, Jay is quickly becoming reviled. Jimmy Kimmel did an incredible thing this week: he did his ENTIRE Tuesday night show dressed as Leno, and eviscerated him in the process. It was subversive and brilliant. And what does Leno do to respond? He has Kimmel on his show Thursday, where Kimmel eviscerates Leno to his face, and Leno plays dumb. And that's on the same day that Leno signs his brand new deal to take back the 10:35 spot. I watched the replay of the interview, and said out loud "Jay, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???" Bizarre stuff.

Meanwhile, Conan has become the darling of this generation, which I am dubbing "the Twitter generation", and has support he's never seen before. His days are numbered at NBC, and he probably only has six Tonight Shows left before he gets the ax. This may be unprecedented: a guy that knows he's getting dumped by his failing network is absolutely dumping all over it, and people are not only eating it up, but ravenously supporting him. The biggest Must-See show RIGHT NOW is The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. After next Friday, it may be a while before anyone sees him on television. It's not the same as guys who've decided to step down, and wrap up their shows with a long, slow Battan Death March to retirement, a la Johnny Carson. This is 2010, baby. It's going down quick and dirty, and quite literally, ANYTHING can happen on the Tonight Show next week. Those five shows should be packaged and sold as their own DVD Box Set.

Stay tuned. I know I will.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Houston is NOT that bad!

I actually just moved to Abilene from the Houston area just a few months ago, and part of my job here is to help produce the evening newscasts.

Well, I couldn't help but noticing, just weeks after starting my job here, that NO good news ever comes out of Houston. I've been seeing that trend pretty much every day now.

Well I'm here to say, Houston is NOT that bad!! It's actually, in my opinion, the best city in the world!! You don't have to worry about getting shot going to the grocery store, or in your own driveway for that matter. I have spent about 80% of my life in Houston and I'm still alive....

I will say though, I went home last month in a plane, and as we approached the Houston area, there was like a black haze sitting right on top of the city. The skies were also like a blueish-grayish color. Sooo, the air quality in Houston is NOTHING like here in Abilene. :-)
I just love the deep blue skies here in the Big Country; simply gorgeous! And I haven't had ANY allergy problems so far....

But I hoped I have changed some minds about the image of Houston! Trust me, it's a fabulous city minus the air quality, lol.

Thanks for reading and watching :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Snuggie?? Really?!?!?

I'm definitely a night owl, and my work hours don't help. So it's only natural for me to watch more infomercials than television shows.

In my moments of dozing in and out on my couch, there's always a commerical I never seem to miss--the Snuggie.

Ahhh yes, the infamous Snuggie. I know people have written about this "blanket with a sleeve" before, but why is this thing still so popular?

I don't know about you guys, but my fingers get cold fast; and looking at the picture, this new blankie sure won't help me out. I guess there's a population suffering from cold arms that could benefit from this.

Even so, is it that difficult and painful to take your arms from under your blanket and change the channel or read a book? Seems like good ol' Snuggie's trying to make everyone even more lazy.

The funniest part of the commercial was how they advertised that you can wear it and go to outdoor gaming events to keep toasty. Ummm...I wouldn't wear this thing out of the house or I'm pretty sure people would ask me which cult I belonged to (or why I stole my church's choir robe).

I don't know. Call me crazy, but blankets are just fine for me.

Or maybe I really AM the crazy one because Sir Snuggie made a killing from this odd invention, and I'm stuck writing about it on a blog.

Makes me want to create my own frivolous invention that will have me blogging all the way to the bank. Patent Pending...

TV news without the teleprompter

There was a little problem with our teleprompter Monday morning. There was nothing there. We had to do Daybreak the old-fashioned way...reading if from the paper in front of us. It was odd, and you may have noticed us looking down more than usual. There were no words on the screen, and we get used to reading the words flashed on the series of mirror images that appear at the lens. It made it a little more of a challenge, but we had the news and weather to present. The best we could hope for is that you didn't notice. If you did notice, we did our best. The teleprompter was working again this morning.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Leno Drama Leading to Big Changes?

"Your local news starts right now!"

If you're like me, you hear those 6 words every single weeknight, right before KRBC News at Ten starts. It's the last thing Jay Leno says as his new show fades to black. And now, the world knows that the days of hearing that phrase are numbered. At least, in a way. But we'll revisit that in a little.

I've always had a little something of a fascination with Mr. Leno. I was never a regular Tonight Show viewer (I'm more of a Jon Stewart fan). But even when I was younger, I remember clipping a couple of headlines out of my hometown newspaper in east Texas and mailing them in to him, hoping they'd pop up on his show (to my knowledge, they never did).

Then in high school, I got my start in television because of another Leno bit. Through a scheduling error, I found myself in Media Technology class ("A/V Club" to some). It allowed me and some of my friends to roam around the halls of our school, filming whatever we could find that was interesting that was worthy of filming. Then one day, we had the brilliant idea of ripping off "Jaywalking". Although I'm a producer now, I was the on-camera guy for this job. We came up with some EASY questions, just to test our classmates. And sure enough, they couldn't answer.

Flash forward a few months: several installations of "Hallwalkin'" later, and I'm something of a campus celebrity. And in a good way, too! You'd be surprised how many people want to be on TV, even if it's just broadcast through the school, and even if they know they're going to look dumb if they can't answer easy questions.

Now, years later, Jay Leno's show comes on right before mine. But thanks to a series of questionable moves by the big guys at 30 Rock, that experiment appears to be ending soon, and Leno will be out of prime time. I didn't work for KRBC when The Jay Leno Show launched, but I remember the contention that went on before the show started. Affiliates around the country weren't happy about it. Case in point: The NBC station in Boston -- Leno's hometown, mind you -- initially refused to even run his show, and only did so because NBC, shall we say, talked them into it.

I'm not sure how I feel about this whole saga... I've heard it said that the late night drama is more interesting than the late night shows, so maybe this isn't such a terrible thing after all. But what's next? NBC has let it be well known that they don't want to lose Leno, even if it means making some Major-with-a-capital-M changes. What about Conan O'Brien, who was promised The Tonight Show years ago? Does he accept his show being pushed back a half-hour? Does he bail for another network? What about Jimmy Fallon and... that other guy that comes on after Jimmy Fallon?

And of course, what of KRBC in Abilene, Texas? We have no control over what shows the network picks to run before our newscast starts. We're just spectators, along with the rest of the country.

So, I want to know what you think. Are you on Team Jay? Team Conan? Do you think, like I do, that Randy Turner should be the new host of The Tonight Show? (He'd still be able to do news and weather for KRBC... the guy is just that good). Or do you think people should just turn off the TV and curl up with a good book... after watching the 10 o'clock news, of course.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dapper Does the Rose Bowl

While mosts sports fans in Abilene were at home watching the Rose Bowl, former KRBC sports director Michelle Dapper was on the sidelines taking in the action. Dapper now serves as the sports director for KEZI, the ABC affiliate in Eugene, Oregon.

As you can imagine, the Rose Bowl has been the top story in town for the last few weeks. However, the Ducks were left with disappointment when it was all said and done. Ohio State was able to defeat Oregon 26-17.

Michelle described the atmosphere in Pasadena as "amazing," and I'm sure it was. Check out her report from the Rose Bowl by clicking on this link: