February 25, 2005

Get 'em while they're hot!

Seems like more and more people are in the market for digital cameras. One good place to get digital cameras and accessories is B&H Photo, a great NYC-based audio-video store run by Hasidic Jews. I've bought several things from them and their service is good as long as you're not ordering around a Jewish holiday. (Saturday's don't work either, because of Shabbat observations.)

Yesterday, a B&H warehouse in Brooklyn burned in a four-alarm fire, so maybe there's a fire sale in the works.

For more, check out the coverage at ABC7 or fire photographer Steve Spak's website.

My brother and a friend and I have made pilgrimages to the store in Manhattan. It's a really neat place to visit if you're into audio, video, cinema, or still photography. Hopefully all the losses will be covered by insurance.

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February 24, 2005

Interesting discovery

Mark at the newly-redesigned NewsDesigner blog carries an interesting story about a discovery that's been in front of people since the Battle for Iwo Jima. Nobody realized until recently, though. Read about it here.

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February 23, 2005

Go by instinct

Here in the mid-Atlantic states, there's been an invasion by a nasty, non-native fish. It's a predator to basically any fish normally found in rivers and lakes in the part of the country. Known as a snakehead -- or Frankenfish and a host of other icky names -- this fish can survive out of the water for extended periods and it can use its fins to "walk" on water. As a result, the snakehead fish is spreading to waters throughout the mid-Atlantic and there's not much that fish and wildlife officials can do about it. Not a pretty picture.

In my position at the newspaper, I'm responsible for a special outdoors section once a month. In that section, I've run a few items about the snakehead's spread to the Potomac River, which is downstream from our location on the Shenandoah River.

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see a news release that said a group was trying to have the snakehead classified as an endangered species. I thought it was odd, but held on to the release, thinking I'd use it later.

The odd situation became even stranger when a few days later I got another release from the same group telling how property values along snakehead "habitats" would decrease, based on other experiences with endangered species habitats. I held on to that release, too.

Finally the time for my outdoors page rolled around, and I was going to put something in about this movement. I thought if nothing else, I'd get people talking. But before I could put the releases in the paper, I needed an electronic version. I didn't want to retype the releases, so I went to the website, ConservationWire, to get the text. I'm glad I did.

When the page came up, the only links available were for those two releases. Nothing about the organization and no other releases. I thought that was also a little fishy. My suspicions aroused, I turned to the only place left to turn to: Google News.

Just a few keystrokes and I had my answers. Hours earlier, stories started running about a group of western officials who are trying to point out how ridiculous endangered species policies are. These westerners have contended with environmentalists who have protected everything they could, creating frustrating situations for lots of people. So to get back at policymakers in the east, the westerners picked the eastern pest -- the snakehead, which has been found in waters right in the Washington, DC area. Kind of funny, actually.

I thought it was interesting that even though I'd been sitting on the news releases for a couple of weeks, news organizations seemed to just be getting on the real story. And I was glad I hadn't just run the news releases as I got them. It wouldn't have been a mortal error, but it would have created a messy situation.

The moral of the story: when something seems out-of-place, check it out.

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February 18, 2005

To finish the day...

This is how I ended the day. (Actually, I should have already been gone, but alas...)


Railroad maintenance work created a couple brush fires along the track right-of-way. Here a firefighter extinguishes a burning fence post at the largest of the fires. Lots and lots of sparks + high winds + dry underbrush don't mix, apparently.

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To start the day...

Here's how my day started out.


Students leave school bus No. 60 after it was involved in a crash on Friday morning, Feb. 18. The 18 students transferred to another bus as emergency crews worked to extricate a driver from her 1990 Suburu sedan. Her car rammed into the back of a 1996 Ford van -- which then rear-ended the school bus -- after the sedan driver tried to pick up the cup that her 3-year-old dropped, according to a state trooper. Both the bus and the van were stopped when the sedan driver looked back at the road just before impact. Nobody in the bus or the van was injured, but the driver of the sedan was transported to the hospital. Her child was fine. She was charged with reckless driving.


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February 16, 2005

Worth "Reviewing"

Just got the latest BJU Review in the mail today, and it's worth taking a look at. Yes, it's been redesigned a bit. I think the design changes are positive, but that's not why you should take a look.

On page 2, you'll see my younger brother's mug and you can read about his mock trial exploits this year. I must point out that he (along with a few others) is the first to span the "Refrigerator Door" and "Beyond the Refrigerator Door" eras.

On page 23, you can read about the publishing major. One of the grads listed is my brother's older brother (me). Whoo-hoo.

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Outfitting the small-town reporter

I think everyone has certain items that make specific tasks just a bit easier. I'm no different. As a multi-tasking sports editor, I've found that there are several things that make my reporting work more efficient.

Efficiency is important, because when I'm using a hefty digital SLR camera, getting names, game details, and quotations all at the same time can be difficult. But a ballcap and cargo shorts/pants make everything run smoothly. My reporters' notepad can slip down into my left cargo pocket while I take photos, using my left hand to support the camera (and zoom/focus) and the right hand to click the shutter. I get my shot, grab my pen from its spot tucked in my cap, whip out my notepad, jot notes (left-handed), and tuck everything back in place to take more photos. The motion is all rather fluid and a minimal amount of time is wasted.

In cold weather, I've got a small pair of fleece gloves that allow me complete dexterity to write and change camera settings.

The problem is that apparently this work takes a toll on these items. Even now I'm searching for just the right gloves to replace my current pair, which I got on the cheap at Old Navy a few years ago. The ones I have now are threadbare on the fingertips, making them hardly any better than going barehanded. (Which is not an option when the weather is cold and I'm using my metal tripod. As my Dad says, "tripods radiate cold.") I can't find similar gloves anywhere now, including Old Navy. They're simple gloves, but I'm picky; I have to retain enough dexterity to write and manipulate camera buttons.

When it comes to cargo shorts and pants, ink pens are the danger. When I'm done reporting at an event, my pen typically goes in my pocket. To date, I have ruined a pair of shorts and a pair of pants (along with other laundry) by sending ink pens through the washer and dryer in my pockets. Now, before you jump all over me, I must stress that two different sets of hands checked the pockets before the clothes went into the laundry.

At any rate, I've taken delivery of two new pairs of Land's End cargo pants (navy and khaki) to supplement my limited fleet of cargo pants. Now if I can just find the right gloves...

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February 12, 2005

Is it art?

Unless you've had your head in a hole, you probably know that the "artist" Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, have finally seen their "The Gates" project come to being in New York's Central Park. It's being hailed as a great work of art, with 7,500 saffron-colored flags hanging from 16-foot-high gates set along 23 miles of the park's footpaths.

Read more about "The Gates" and Christo's other projects in this article on Wired News. There are pictures, too.

My question to you: Do you think this is this art? If so, why?

I maintain that it's not art, it's sensationalism. After watching ABC's NightLine last night, it's fairly obvious that the guy's not all there. Wrapping the Reichstag or a bridge in France in fabric hardly seems artistic to me. And draping a curtain across a canyon? Or thousands of giant umbrellas in California or Japan? It's publicity, not artwork.

If these creations are art, then what about the structures they're based on? Or what about Central Park itself, which along with its Brooklyn cousin, Prospect Park, is entirely sculpted and manmade while appearing to be entirely natural? To me the parks are much more works of art than these gates. If the gates are art, then what about the arrangement of park benches, lightposts, and trashcans that have been there for years?

I know there are readers out there who are bonified artists. Go ahead and weigh in on this. I'm interested in your opinions.

And don't get me wrong. If I were in NYC while these gates were up, I'd make the trip to Central Park to see and photograph them. But only because of their notoriety and novelty.

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February 11, 2005

Hoops, rims, and buckets

Since Thanksgiving, basketball is all I've been covering at the newspaper--aside from a few fires. Makes it tough week in and week out to write and, especially, make photos with variety. Such is life in a small county that doesn't have enough students/facilities to have the other winter sports, swimming and wrestling. The district tournament begins next week. Two of my four teams will likely go one-and-done while the other two will likely advance to the regional tournament.

That extended postseason will ease the dead time between high school seasons as baseball, softball, and track and field get under way. (Is it really that time already?) Too bad our small county is yet to add soccer to the spring schedule. Then I'd be in business.

Posted by JRC at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 02, 2005

Look at The Rear View Mirror

There's a new blog out there, folks. Philip Eoute is traveling with the BJU Drama Team, and he's just unveiled his blog, The Rear View Mirror. He's been blogging for a while now, but has just gone public with the blog today. (For all you Chicago-area bloggers, the team has been in Chicago-land recently.)

I'm told that Philip is doing some of his blogging via his camera phone. He can snap a photo on the phone and e-mail the photo and caption from the photo to his blog along with blogging with traditional internet access. Philip's a shutterbug with a large set of Canon gear, and I think some of the photos on his blog are from his Canon. (Check out his nice twilight skyline photo from the John Hancock building.)

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