October 28, 2003

Fire photography

Anyone one who has spent much time around me is probably aware of my interest in fireground photography. I've been interested to see some high-quality photos coming out of the CA wildfire story.

Here's links to a few of my favorites. There are hundreds to choose from, but I think these are among the best.

Tornado of flame The air convections in a major fire can whip up a literal fire storm. Here's a photo of what they can do.
Nap time in the mountains Excellent lighting.
Ironic caption I think it's good that inmate firefighters rest against guard rails.
Silhouette This is one of the nice silhouetted photos I've seen out of the wildfire.

Posted by JRC at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

Price is Right

Rod Roddy, the announcer of Price is Right fame, has passed away. Read the AP article on his passing.

Posted by JRC at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2003

Hitting the big-time

My newspaper has covered continuously for the past few years a controversial landfill (read "dump") located in our county. The dispute involves a private company, local government, the VA Dept. of Environmental Quality (which itself holds conflicting view on the issues), and the commonwealth attorney general.

Today's Washington Post carried an article on the landfill. So I guess our small rural community has made the big-time.

If you try to go to the link, you will be asked to register with the site. It's a SIMPLE registration. It's truly the easiest registration I've encountered. I guess if you have to register, that's the way to do it.

[If you have trouble with the link provided, search the Washington Post website for "Battle Creek." You will need to visit the site in the article's first 14 days to read it for free.]

Posted by JRC at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2003

World news/history

The widow of Chiang Kai-Shek has died... The couple was an important, but maybe overlooked, part of world history in WWII and the days following.

Read the AP news story on Yahoo News

Posted by JRC at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003


Darla and I have been keeping a list of which BJ-related people should play which roles if BJ performed any of the Lord of the Rings. Check out our list and feel free to add your ideas or criticize our choices.

At the bottom of the list are those that I draw a blank on--although I think that there are BJ people that would be good for the roles.

  • Saruman: Dr. Dewitt Jones
  • Gandalf: Dr. Panosian
  • Gollum: Dr. Polson (you have to have seen him do the readings from LOTR accompanied by the Symphonic Band)
  • Frodo: Dave Schwingle
  • Bilbo: Dr. Moose
  • Sam: Dr. Lawson
  • Gimli: Dr. McCauley
  • Eowyn: Renee D'Agostino
  • Elf Arwen: Mrs. Erin Jones
  • Boromir:
  • Aragorn:
  • Legolas:
  • King Theoden:
  • Wormtongue:

Posted by JRC at 03:11 PM | Comments (2)

Warning flag

Doesn't this sound familiar? Maybe something that happened in the 1930s and 40s? Shouldn't we be a little concerned?

I think he speaks for the Muslim world, and I don't see how you can interpret the remarks in any other way.

Read Malaysian Prime Minister's speech.

Posted by JRC at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2003

Cry, The Beloved Country

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyound any singing of it.

Those are the first lines in Alan Paton's novel--Cry, The Beloved Country--which is No. 5 on the Amazon Top 100 list as I write this post. Paton's novel was first copyrighted in 1948, but has been popular since then. Recently, it's gotten new life thanks to Oprah's Book Club. (No, I don't really follow her book club.)

I was introduced to the novel in college in Modern World Literature with Dr. Kraus. I loved the book, and wrote an essay on it for class. (I think she read the essay to the class, she liked it so much.)

I've since reread the book several times and enjoyed it and noticed new things each reading. I highly recommend it. But if you are going to read it, please wade through the preliminary material to get an understanding of the book.

Don't be scared by the way dialogue is used. It's set off by em dashes; there are no quotation marks.


Go well.

Posted by JRC at 10:10 PM | Comments (1)

October 03, 2003

On journalism

Having been on the fringes of journalism for some time, I recently fully immersed myself in the field when I became Sports Editor at Page News and Courier.

I know there are some who are interested in my thoughts on journalism. But this is a two-way street. I imagine they have insights for me, too.

PNC publishes weekly. It is a teaching/learning paper that likes to give journalists experience to move on to general editor positions at other weeklies or reporters for dailies.

I knew going into the position that I am a good observer, with a penchant telling the tale of what I've seen. However, I knew that one area I'd need to work on is interviewing and getting specific information from sources.


Six hours into my job, I was on a farm, interviewing a farmer for an agriculture article. (No, ag is not a sport, it's just a specialty beat that I've been covering.) I didn't crash and burn on the interview, but I also had a lot of room for improvement.

I still do, but I think I immediately improved. I'm still working on interviewing.

One thing I have experimented with is how to conduct the interview. I think it's a perennial journalism debate. Take notes or use a mini recorder? I do both. I've used the recorder for some interviews, but I guess I usually take notes. The main use I have for the recorder is for post-game interviews with coaches.

I'm interested in the thoughts that any journalism-types have on their preferences.

Job interview

One good sign when I looked at this position was when I interviewed in khakis and a polo-style shirt. I was slightly over-dressed. When I got the offer, I was dressed similarly.

I generally wear the same type of clothes to work, although I've been known to wear jeans--especially when I know I'm going to a farm.

Publication cycle

Our publication date is on Thursdays. The paper actually comes out on Wednesday morning, but it bears the Thursday date. Deadline day is Tuesday, and the paper is printed overnight Tuesday.

When the papers arrive at the office, we have a part-time crew that goes out and sells the papers on the street at the town's main intersection.

So our week starts on Wednesday, basically. Usually at 1 p.m., the editorial staff meets to go over story ideas and budget space for them. At the beginning, we go over the current issue, mentioning good things or weak spots.

We go into the meeting with pitch sheets, which summarize our story ideas. Then we pitch the stories that we want to cover. Many stories are pitched for the next issue, but many are pitched and scheduled for later publication.

After the meeting, everyone has clear-cut stories to pursue, and work begins in earnest on the next issue. Of course, breaking news will change what actually ends up in the paper.

I generally have to write four to five sports articles each week, along with getting photos at events (enough for 3-4 photos per issue), laying out 3 pages of the paper, gathering scores, stats, and schedules, and choosing the player of the week--including a writeup on why--for an advertiser in the sports section. Once a month, I am responsible for another article and photo for a specialty page, which I also lay out.

Until now, I have been covering agriculture for the Agri-life specialty page, but this week my beat was changed. Now I will cover outdoors--hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, etc.

Being responsible for writing, art (photos), and design has pros and cons. I know what I will need to put together my section, which is great. But on the other hand, when I'm at a game, I'm busy trying to capture good photos of the action while jotting down notes in my notepad. If I could do one or the other, I think the quality of whichever I was doing would improve.

Just the facts?

Of course, journalists are supposed to present what they observe to their audience. Omission can skew a story just as much as inclusion can. We've all seen that in various media branches. But I don't think anyone can be completely free of the "bias" that big-shot journalists say they fear.

They have one worldview, and I have another. Our reporting will reflect that.

I say all of that to say that as the reporter covering the county's two high school sports programs, I'm in a position where I have to write as a fan of sorts. I think sports journalists can have that "privilige" to some extent--if they are covering local teams for a local media outlet.

But I still try to report what happens at games. And that's a challenge. Neither football team has had a winning season in several years. One team has a 2-plus year losing streak.

The tools

I have the chance to use a nice digital camera at work--better than my personal "consumer-level" 5 megapixel camera. The sports department has a Nikon D100 SLR camera.

My computer is an E-mac G4. I write in MacWrite and layout in Adobe Pagemaker.

My family has given me several useful books. One is the current Associated Press Stylebook, a must for a journalist or PR specialist. The other two are also put out by the AP, which has other books which I'm sure are also good.

One is a guide to Sports Writing and the other is a guide to Photojournalism. I highly recommend both. They don't have much nitty-gritty how-to. You should have that already.

They cover concepts and give real-life examples from the AP journalists and other journalists. My editor gave me a similar AP book to read about newswriting.

Input welcome

I'd be glad to hear any thoughts that other journalistic types have.

What works for you? What doesn't? Why?

Posted by JRC at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

BBQ, anyone?

Over at Dappled Things, Bet has a good post about barbecue. In my mind, anyhow, it's a great topic.

Some thoughts on barbecue...some mine, some adapted from Dappled Things.

Do you have any other ideas to add to the list?
What BBQ joints are your favorites? Give restaurant name, city, state if you can.

  • Barbecue is a noun, not a verb.
  • Barbecue (n.) is meat (chicken, pork, beef) slowly cooked over low heat, flavored by the smoke in the cooker. Most common woods for smoking are hickory and mesquite, although others can be used.
  • Barbecue is NOT meat covered in a ketchupy sauce. BBQ is often served with sauce, usually ketchup-based, vinegar-based, or mustard-based.
  • A true barbecue restaurant has a wood pile out back, and smoke curling from a chimney
  • The quality of the barbecue is inversely proportional to the classiness of the restaurant. Hole-in-the-wall places are some of the best. The more pickup trucks and fewer luxury cars in the parking lot, the better.
Posted by JRC at 04:22 PM | Comments (1)

Macromedia Flash help?

I've been following in the footsteps of my younger brother and trying to learn Flash.

I've had good manuals on hand as I taught myself while rebuilding a new and improved website to replace the current Flash site at my freelance business website.

I know there are a lot of ways to skin a cat--and to build a Flash site. The way I did it was basically to have each page as a scene in my movie. I'm in the final stages of production (and have been for months), and am trying to add preloaders. My first preloader works, but subsequent preloaders don't always. I could add more detail, but I don't want to overwhelm.

I assume I need to add a conditional script, but I'm at a loss.

Any ideas?

I hope to put a BETA version up soon, then you'll be able to see how they don't work.

Posted by JRC at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)