Saturday, my parents came up to Virginia (as did my aunt and uncle) and my brother came over from DC. We gathered at my grandmother's house for an early celebration of her 95th birthday.
My grandmother lives on her own where she gets along quite well--even e-mailing. She owns some property, and she has been having trouble with people parking on her property or using it as a turn-around.
We all gathered to install a fence that will hopefully deter such behavior. Everything was planned to blend in with her historic property, and all the materials were on hand when we started. The whole project was done before night fell--even stopping for a lunch/birthday celebration. That was a real blessing. It could have been a nightmare, but the many hands made the worker lighter. We had to go through three layers of rock to put in the four fence posts.
(We do have to paint the fence, but we have to wait a few months for the pressure-treated wood to cure.)
When we were finished, we all felt the satisfaction of a job well done, but the reward was when my grandmother didn't want to go inside. She didn't want to stop looking at the fence.
Friday afternoon, I headed into Washington, DC--our nation's capitol--where I met up with my "little" brother. He gave me a tour of his office at Knight Ridder Tribune, where he's a photo intern. Nice, newly renovated building with good amenities. Just don't forget your ID/keycard. You have to use it to go anywhere in the building--elevator, restroom, etc. There are plenty of places to get stuck.
After that, we walked over to the National Press Club, where we joined up with Eric Anest, another BJ student interning in DC. The three of us enjoyed the NPC free weekly taco dinner before heading back to Georgetown. Michael and I then returned to our place in Virginia for the weekend. (See my next post.)
We've started a remodeling project at the newspaper office. I was taking photos of the beginning of the project today, and I went down into the basement for the first time.
Inside, I found this antique glass fire extinguisher. I like finding old, forgotten things and I like firefighting-related items. So I'm pretty excited about this. We plan on saving it.
I've just done a little Googling, where I see that such fire extinguishers were around from the 1860s to 1950s. Many of them contained carbon tetrachloride, which is a dangerous chemical. It created the deadly gas, phosgene when heated. That gas would smother a fire (and a person).
I don't know if this one contains carbon tetrachloride or not. The Red Comet brand was around from the 1930s to 1950s, supposedly. I think the label looks a little older myself.
Anyone know anything about glass fire extinguishers? I'm gonna do some more research.
There's been a radio ad playing in our area that makes me scratch my head every time I hear it.
It starts out, "Have you ever wondered what it's like to a be a policeman in a shootout?" Then it says something like, "So-and-so's gun shop and security can teach you how to shoot in our indoor shooting range."
Well, my answer is "No, I've never really wanted to put myself in that position ... and if I had, I wouldn't be going to shoot real guns in a shooting range." Playing paintball wars is one thing...
They should take the approach of providing a service, such as "Worried about your safety? Come learn the proper gun safety practices with us. Even learn how to fire your gun in our indoor range."
This all ties in (somehow) to Dmo's thoughts on advertising at his blog...
Anyone else have dumb advertisements?
Here in the Shenandoah Valley, we have a summer baseball league sanctioned by the NCAA, the Valley Baseball League. It's a wooden bat league where college players come here to work on their skills and maybe get noticed by scouts.
There are similar leagues around the country, but the Valley League is probably the No. 2 such program in the country. Many Valley League teams lose players to the major league draft each year.
Our town has a team in the Valley League, so I'm getting the chance to cover the games and meet the players. It's kinda neat to do that, having watched games when visiting my grandmother before we moved here.
The other night I was at a game and saw something I don't think I've ever seen before -- a broken-bat home run.
The bat went into three parts. The handle of the bat, about two inches worth, stayed at home plate. The middle of the bat went who-knows-where, and the head of the bat almost left the infield. Meanwhile, the ball easily cleared the 310-foot mark in left field. (Many games are played on high school fields.)
Quirky plays like that make the game of baseball so interesting. Now, if we could just get rid of heat and humidity, summer would be great!
Overnight a cool front came through our area, sweeping away the haze and humidity.
I had to go out early this morning for a photo shoot. The air was still, quiet, and cool (almost to the point of needing a jacket). And with the haze gone, the view of the surrounding mountains is clear. The early morning light made the scenery even more beautiful.
Hard not to praise the Creator on a day like this.
My brother is in Washington, DC for eight weeks studying at Georgetown University and interning in the photo department of Knight-Ridder Tribune, a wire service. He's started a blog to document his time there, and he's already got it looking better than mine.
Check out PhotoDesk: DC Report.
If you read the "About Me" link, you'll get a lot of the specifics of what he's doing.
You shutterbugs out there might be interested to see the new telephoto lens I'm getting at work (to go w/my Nikon D100). I'm getting a Nikkor 80-400mm zoom. It's F/4.5, which isn't as fast as I'd like, but anything faster is too expensive. This has vibration reduction, which will supposedly make up for that, though.
All in all, this lens is a great value. Now all I have to do is wait a week for it to come in. (And get a nice wide-angle lens at some point--I've been using hand-me-down lenses, which aren't too great.)
Two retired FDNY firefighters turned 100 recently, making them the oldest former paid firefighters in the world. One of the men began his career in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which is the neighborhood in which we went to church when we lived in NYC. He retired from an engine company in Dyker Heights, which is the neighborhood where we lived.
Well, the softball team finished second in the state single-A softball tournament held on Friday and Saturday. And I spent a luxurious night in a Super 8 hotel. ;-)
It's nice to be the hometown reporter. I had the best access to the team and players, and coach spoke a couple of times of his frustration with other reporters who ignored the team's excellent season until now. (Most of the reporters were there for another team, but they covered our team too.)
The girls softball team at one of the two high schools I cover will play Friday in the state single-A semifinal game. I'll be hitting the road first thing to get to it. It'll be held at Radford University in Virginia--about 3 1/2 hours away.
If they win, they'll play in the championship game on Saturday, so I have a cancellable hotel reservation in case that happens. I hope it does--except my wife can't join me. Should be a fun trip, and I've got good coverage planned.
Just wish that I had the new camera lens that I'll be getting in a week or more.
Just got word that my cousin is back from six weeks in Iraq as a civilian contractor. Praise the Lord for his protection.
By the time anyone reads this blog entry, the website will have changed, but I'm holding out hope that they will archive the pages for this news event. Newseum does have a section of its site dedicated to coverage of other significant events in recent history, as well as other events, such as D-Day. Check the CyberNewseum to see if Reagan's death joins those events.
We were in DC yesterday when we heard Reagan had taken a turn for the worse. Not too much later, we were in a store when a guy who looked like he spends most of his day on the street came in and said that Reagan had died.
By 5:30 p.m., we saw that the White House had lowered the flag. Pretty neat to see that only an hour and a half after Reagan passed away. The gloomy day in DC really seemed to fit.
My wife took this photo as I drove past the White House, since we didn't have the time to stop and get out. (I know, a drive-by shooting in that area is risky.) I would have spent hours taking photos if I'd had the time. Wish I could be in DC this week.
Our town held elections about a month ago for mayor and council. The incumbent mayor, who's been in the position for more than 20 years, was challenged for the first time in a long time. He came out one vote ahead of his challenger.
She, of course, filed for a recount. The recount happened today, and I went as the photographer for our paper along with a reporter. We had to have special permission from the presiding judge to have a camera in the courtroom. (If any other paper wants to use the images I shot, we are required to provide them--but we could charge.)
The process was interesting, and between two cameras, I shot more than 200 photos in less than two hours.
In the end, the challenger picked up seven votes. But so did the incumbent. So he still won by one vote (out of about 1200 cast).
The catch is that there were four ballots that were not valid because voters had entered the names of one of the two candidates (on the ballot already) in the write-in line. Under Virginia election law, those cannot be counted.
The challenger had three such write-ins and the incumbent had one. So if those counted, the challenger would have won.
Today I was running the paper route. Several things happened along the way that made me think I was on the front lines of news-gathering.
I was delivering papers in a convenience store and a guy came in with a gun!
Apparently he was a bounty hunter!
The guy and his partner were wearing official-looking private investigator badges. They were looking for a local resident, so they were asking around and looking in the phone book. And the gun? It was holstered.
They'd already spent $400 on gas to and from Florida earlier this week. (Don't know if it was the same case.)
I've got a small list of cool-sounding things I'd like to do in life and bounty hunter is one of them. Others include being a docent, singing in a glee club, and being a senior fellow--just to name a few.
Seeing bounty hunters in action must be the next-best thing to actually being a bounty hunter.
I was driving on a two-lane highway when I spied a blue-light special in the oncoming lane. I began braking and could soon see that the cop car was behind two other cars, a truck in front and a car.
'Bout the time I saw the second car with the cop hot on its tail, the car pulled out into my lane of traffic as if to pass the truck. The driver must have seen me coming when he/she pulled out, because he/she went right back into the lane.
I stopped to make sure everyone passed safely. When they did, I continued on my way, watching in the mirror to see what happened. Last I saw, it was still a three-car parade down the road.
Our paper goes to press Tuesday night and hits stores Wednesday morning. From time to time, I'm called to fill in on one of our delivery routes. That's what I'm doing today for the second week in a row. (My editor and I take turns filling in for the normal delivery worker. It's the benefit of being a *macho* guy.)
When that happens, I come home late Tuesday night, then return to work to pick up a van by 7 a.m. I drive to the plant to pick up several thousand papers, which I deliver from about 9 a.m. until about 1 p.m.
Some stops only take 5 papers while others take 300.
It's moderately hard work, but it's nice to get out of the office periodically. It's also kind of neat to be the first one from the office to see the final product.
But the most fun is when there are customers waiting at a business for you to deliver the papers. It's rewarding to know your product is anticipated--especially when you were up till the wee hours putting it together.
My last post (In Memory) was a milestone, a blogstone if you will. It was my 100th post, although a handful of those 100 entries have been saved for later publication.
I started blogging last July, so that means I'm not even posting 10 times a month on average. But, I've been more active in my blogging lately, so that average will be changing.