Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shannon's Honcho runs Thursday at Oaklawn

Race 4
Purse $17,800. (Includes $7,120 Instant Racing Purse Fund) For Arkansas Bred Maidens, Three, Four, and Five Years Old. Three Year Olds, 117 Lbs; Older, 123 Lbs Claiming Price $10,000. One Mile, MAIDEN CLAIMING


Shannon's Honcho
Jockey: Luis S. Quinonez
Trainer: Ray Shumake

Ten Commandments
Jockey: Alex Birzer
Trainer: Ralph D. Black

Humble Mike
Jockey: Dylan R. Williams
Trainer: Stanley W. Roberts

Go Faster Forest
Jockey: Jon Kenton Court
Trainer: Richard D. Jackson

By His Grace
Jockey: Calvin H. Borel
Trainer: William Hornsby

Tuffy Ward
Jockey: Joel Campbell
Trainer: Donald Caudill

Lucky Native
Jockey: M. Clifton Berry
Trainer: Leroy Hellman

Rinka's Cominatcha
Jockey: Quincy Hamilton
Trainer: Tim Dixon

Jockey: Eddie M. Martin, Jr.
Trainer: James H. Cook

My Magical Breeze
Jockey: Luis Espinosa
Trainer: Tony Rengstorf

L'As de Pique
Jockey: Jose Riquelme
Trainer: F. Dewaine Loy

Moon Bid
Jockey: Glen Murphy
Trainer: David Morris

Proof behind the pudding

Here's the Channel 12 representatives picking up our Eric Sevareid awards this past weekend:

Matt Laaksonen, John Jacobson, and Jennifer Anderson

(True Minnesota last names, youbetcha.)

Apparently Matt is quite the hockey player. Dave's been trying to recruit him for his team, the Has-beens.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The world's a-Twitter

Let me say one thing, I don't tweet.

But I do Twitter.

This month, Twitter has really exploded in the media. Sure, it's been around and it's been talked about, but this month I found it creeping into my world more and more. When a local city government started updating the media via Twitter, I thought I better jump on board. I'm the only one at my station that's on, and it's been a good thing. The process was easy, fast, and painless. Within a few days only following media, policy, and government websites (and Dave), I picked up a few stories that related to our viewing area--and ideas that we didn't have before.

And this past Friday, when a press release fell into my hands from a citizen that was actually dated for Monday (today)... meaning I got it through the back door three days before it was supposed to be public, which in news is a beautiful thing...it was all I could do not to Twitter it out to the world. I actually typed the message a few times before deleting it... after all, at this point my tweets would only go out to my competition and then they would've had the story as well....which is no fun. So I can see directly how this ups the ante in the competitive news biz.

So, I'm not tweeting yet, even though I somehow now have followers. Somehow, I think blogging, email, Facebook, and texting are plenty to keep me technologically connected in my personal life. I have no desire to add anything to that mix right now. I do have a life outside of technology.... but on a professional level, it sure is tempting.... I just have to bide my time until I can convince my bosses it's worthwhile to tweet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What people are talking about

Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz

If you haven't heard about this book, you will. I've seen it mentioned several places this week, and it sounds like an interesting read in a noncontroversial sort of way. This totally sounds like something that would've sparked a good debate between my comrades on the debate team in college. We loved this kind of stuff.

David Plotz claims to be an agnostic jew who attended Hebrew School and an Episcopalian high school but reads like an evangelical christian. Confused now? Plotz is the editor of the online magazine Slate. He supposedly got bored at a cousin's bar mitzvah, picked up a torah, and started reading the story of Dinah's brothers avenging their sister's rape. This stuff is in the bible? He figured it would surprise most people, and he started blogging his way through the Old Testament in a few different versions.

Some interesting tidbits in his book (taken from a few online sources):

*The Bible is the fundamental work of western civilization. To be educated, one must read the bible to understand culture and perspective. He says it should be taught in school for that reason alone.

*The Old Testament doesn't paint a pretty picture of God. Christians have the New Testament to finish the story, which is a very comforting continuation of the story. He says much of the New Testament brings order to the Old.

*There's much more there than a source of morality. There's shocking consequences and justification in Judges, a poignant short story in Ruth, and a erotic tale in Song of Solomon.

*People don't talk about the questionable parts: "The world is messy. People do immoral things. In Joshua, we see the slaughter of innocent people. Why isn't that the subject of the discussion rather than the celebration of the land?"

* The joy and the richness of the Book come from fighting with it, and we should look at people like Abraham, Gideon, Job, and Jonah. Their questioning, difficulty, contentiousness, and argumentation are the moments that should inspire.

I'll have to wait awhile before reading this one. I'm number 164 on the library list for it....if I don't buy it first.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

All Minneapolis is a Stage

Minneapolis has the second largest theatre district in the country. Did you know that? I didn't when I moved here, but I have enjoyed the theatre culture more than I imagined.

There are big productions of the classics and off-productions similar to off-Broadway. I've been to three different theatres so far, and every production has been top notch. Great set, great lighting, good acting. It's not unusual to look at your playbill and see actors that list New York or Yale Rep in their biography. If you are going to act or be in theatre and you want to raise a family, this area is a good place for it.

That's the story behind Jessica and Ryan who moved from New York City to open up their own theatre in the small town of Osseo, which is a northwest suburb city of Minneapolis. For twenty dollars, you can see a quality production at the Yellow Tree Theatre. One of the gals I work with is like the Theatre Missionary for the group--she's always introducing us to good theatres or productions and trying to convert us to be all-out theatre goers. It hasn't been a hard sell. Last fall Jen led us reporters to see the romantic comedy, String, starring Jessica and Ryan.

If bigger theatre is more your style, downtown Minneapolis has alot to offer. The Guthrie theatre is an impressive building that overlooks the new I-35W bridge. The Guthrie stages classics as well as organic productions. Jen took me to see a Shakespere adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona, which was one of the most creative plays I've ever seen. The production kept all of Shakespere's lines--even the awkward ones--and turned the scene into a 1955 television production. They used old cameras (that worked), doo-wop, and creative tactics to make the story work in the days of full skirts, hair gel, and slumber parties. It's hard to describe, I left the theatre pondering the vast creativity of the production as well as the timelessness of Shakespere's work.

We returned to the Guthrie a few weeks ago to see Lorriane Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. I had to read this script in high school, so I knew the basics. The acting here was superb, and the house was full. I enjoy looking at set design alone and seeing how they manipulate lighting to emphasize roles or the time of day.

For my birthday in November, Dave took me to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. This is a tour bus stop, and a bit pricey. We saw The Producers, and it was good. Several big actors have come through here. A few years back, a Hollywood producer picked out Amy Adams from the cast and took her to California. She hasn't been back.
There are several good productions that we just couldn't afford... The Fiddler on the Roof, starring Chaim Topol... and of course, Little House on the Prairie starring Melissa Gilbert as Ma. But of course, I'm not likely to drag Dave to that one.... This all proves there is more to see here than just the Mall of America!

What the X*&^$%?

How many curse words do you say in a day?

Several media outlets have published this week a link between how much people curse and the economy. Supposedly, people are cussing now more than they ever did, and it reflects a foul economy.

Seems like everything in news always comes back to the economy, doesn't it?

Here's a few quotes I found on Poynter:

Msnbc.com reports:
According to Los Angeles psychotherapist Nancy Irwin, a foul economy is prompting more outbursts of foul language. "There are a lot of elements that are out of our control right now and as a result, there's a lot more frustration, a lot more fear and anxiety," she says. "When people feel that, many cuss. Swearing is something that gives us an instantaneous release."

While not everyone swears, field studies indicate that those who do utter 80 to 90 taboo words per day, out of an average of 15,000 to 16,000 words we speak daily.While swearing has many uses, two-thirds of swearing is linked to anger and frustration, says Timothy Jay, professor of psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, and author of a just-released survey of the "Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words."
During tough times, that number can go up.

We don't seem to have much will to clean up our language. Look at this 2006 story:
At this point, it's hard to find people working to stop swearing in everyday conversation. "There are so many other issues to deal with that people consider of a much more serious nature that they're not devoting time towards cleaning up language," said James O'Connor, author of "Cuss Control," a self-help book on how to curb swearing.Demand for O'Connor's book was initially high, and it sold through three printings in 2000 on an imprint of Random House. O'Connor has been mentioned in hundreds of newspaper articles and on dozens of television shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show." But sales have since tapered off, and O'Connor is now self-publishing the book through iUniverse."For the enormous amount of publicity I got, I thought it would sell a lot better. It remains an extreme mystery to me, to my literary agent, why this didn't take off," O'Connor said.

You know, there really is nothing new about profanity. It is fairly safe to say that ever since we have had language, we have had ways to make it profane. Take for example, the "F" word. Historians have traced it back over the centuries; maybe as far back as 1475 it appeared in writing.

Of course, it was spoken before that.Shakespeare and even Scripture contain words that might not be spoken in decent company, as The New York Times noted in 2005.This piece (it contains some vulgar language, of course) describes how our concept of profanity evolves over time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stuck in the Mud

Ah, spring is here. Here in Minnesota, that means the ground is soft and soggy just about anywhere you step. You can imagine what a great day at work this was.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bubble, Bubble, Bubble

The icicles are dripping, the crows are cawing, and the creeks and rivers are swelling with the water from melting snow. Those three things mean it's the time of the maple moon, or the time when Native Americans and early Minnesotans would make maple syrup. The sap is flowing.

I helped out this weekend, but didn't take anything close to the huge amount of photos I did last year. (Check out last year's post for more about the actual process) This year, we had more than 250 visitors and the weather couldn't be beat. A 58-degree day is even more precious when you've been through a long, cold winter like we've had this year. We saw flocks of swans flying overhead and a few eagles. My job was to explain the indian process of boiling down sap, and I helped the kiddos pour their sap into the big kettle we had. We'd stir it from time to time. Even though I cringe at the high cost of maple syrup, I understand exactly why it costs so much. It's a pain in the you-know-what to make.

The Percheron horses, Mac and Jack, made several trips up and down the site with trolleys full of guests. Jack worked up quite a sweat that day, because he hadn't worked all winter. It looked like shaving cream.

One of the best things about the day, besides the maple sugar, the weather, and the people, was the fact I didn't hear the annoying 'maple syrup' song once. It's practically tuneless and uninspired, but we had to sing it last year to the school children. It was painful for all. I'm glad I missed out on that this year, but I did tease several people with the bubble, bubble intro...just for fun.
Several old friends stopped by, including Brad who is a college student in Wisconsin. He's in the ballcap in the foreground. You might remember the pictures of him from last summer where he was running around under the influence in his long underwear. I'm sure he does the same thing at college.

Brad won't be repeating that spectacle here, though, because he got a summer job jumping out of helicopters and fighting fires out west. It sounds just like him. What an adventure. He'll have a blast, pardon the pun, and we wish him the best of luck. Stay safe, Brad!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Congrats Tracy & Ross

Our friends (and SU classmate) Tracy and Ross got married in Baltimore Saturday. Dave and I couldn't make it, and we spent the entire day wishing we were there. We know it was great and hope to catch up with the newlyweds the next time we're in the City.

Here's their wedding announcment that ran in the New York Times on Saturday:

Tracy Mitnick, Ross Levitt

Published: March 20, 2009
Tracy Erin Mitnick and Ross Alexander Levitt were married Saturday evening in Baltimore at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore. Rabbi Donald R. Berlin officiated.

Beth English

Until December Mrs. Levitt, 27, was the promotion manager in the marketing department of Men’s Fitness magazine in New York, an American Media Inc., publication. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.

She is the daughter of Frances H. Mitnick and John H. Mitnick of Baltimore. Her father is a partner in Mitnick & Mitnick, the law firm there. Her mother is the office manager of the practice.

Mr. Levitt, 34, works in New York as a field producer with CNN. He also graduated from Penn and received a master’s in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University.

He is the son of Aimee L. Stewart of Allentown, Pa., and Harvey J. Levitt of North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is the stepson of Andrea Bizek and Ozzie Stewart. The bridegroom’s mother retired as owner of Senior Solutions Inc., a home health-care company in Allentown, Pa. His father retired as a lawyer at Forest City Enterprises, the Cleveland real estate development company.
The couple fell in love in three minutes — the time limit for conversation at a Jewish speed-dating session in May 2007. Ms. Mitnick was one of 20 women seated at a Lower East Side bar, and an equal number of men, including Mr. Levitt, visited each table for three-minute dates.
Mr. Levitt’s first stop was at Ms. Mitnick’s table.

“I really liked his smile and his positive attitude,” Ms. Mitnick said. “He was really very witty and had funny, quick one-liners that made me giggle — all in the space of three minutes.”

In the time it takes to boil an egg, the couple found that they had gone to the same university, had fond memories of their summer camps and liked honey crisp apples. Though they had 19 other dates that night, each of them had their hearts set on the first person they met.

“There was nothing not to like about her,” Mr. Levitt said. “She’s smart and she’s beautiful and we instantly had a lot of things in common, like music and a love of theater. It was just an instant connection, one of those indescribable things where there seemed to be lightning striking.”

Friday, March 20, 2009

Honcho finishes in the money!

Shannon's Honcho finished fourth yesterday in Oaklawn's first race. It was racing against other Arkansas born and bred horses.
My grandfather has spent much of his retirement breeding and racing thoroughbreds. Many of my family members talk about this hobby with angst and chagrin because of the stress and cost, but it's caused alot of angst and joy for my grandparents who enjoy travelling to DeKalb where the horses train and then watching them run at Louisiana Downs and Oaklawn.

Because of the family discussions, a while back I told Pop he should name his next horse, Shannon's Inheritance. He must've thought that was a good idea, because he submitted a list of names to the thoroughbred association... Shannon's Inheritance, Shannon's Money, etc. The Association can pick one of those names or any name they darn well please and they did just that... choosing "Shannon's Honcho" to reflect a horse's name in the bloodlines.

Shannon's Honcho ran my last day on air at KTAL, and a few crew members went out to the Downs to cheer the horse along to an almost last place finish. It's run once since then, and it seems to start gaining ground the longer he goes. Yesterday, Pop decided to enter him in a mile and a sixteenth race. He stayed in second place most of the way and after a mile, fell to fourth. Not too shabby.
Here's the results:
Win: 6, Fortune Hall, jockey: Borel
Place: 4, Wasabi, jockey: Hamilton
Show: 9, Tuffy Ward, jockey: Campbell
Fourth: 7, Shannon's Honcho, jockey: Parker
Which begs this question: Who in Arkansas names a horse Wasabi?

And here's Addison on John's riding horse, Kyd, with John and Niki watching. This is at my grandparent's house. I had to include it on the horse entry because she's so excited about being up there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Media Madness in Greensboro

Dave is in full coverage mode with the Gophers in Greensboro. He's blogging. He's twittering. He's facebook-ing. And he's doing the old fashioned stuff too, like shooting video, doing live shots, asking questions, and writing packages.

He also got to catch up with our friends Darrell and Fletcher, who drove a long 15 hours from Louisiana to cover LSU. It's a small world in the media. Thank you Darrell for the picture that I lifted from your blog--Dave doesn't do alot of pictures. Maybe that should be on his list. Here's Dave and Darrell right off the court:

At a time when newspapers produce broadcasts on the web and broadcast produces articles on the web, it's sometimes hard to figure out where the media world is going. Getting information fast has become the standard, and as technology changes and gets faster so do we. In radio, it's called "feeding the shark." You have to continually feed the deadlines, or the deadlines will get you. And then, shark is never full, so you keep feeding it. With even more mediums to feed, there's more chance someone will get overwhelmed somewhere. And, sometimes the story gets lost along the way.

In Dave's Twitter messages, he has to keep the message to 40 characters--tell a story in 40 characters. Wow. Longer, in-depth pieces are still on the 10 o'clock news, leaving us newshounds hope that the industry we love (and hate) will survive somehow.

But only if we report, produce, shoot, write, edit, Twitter, blog, Facebook, and write articles on the web too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dave's pipe dream

God must have picked out this house for us, because every spring there's going to be a mini hockey rink in our backyard. The snow melts, but the water won't go into the frozen ground, hence the ice sheet. Here are the remnants of this year's rink. Dave keeps trying to convince me he can knock out the perfectly-good back fence to extend it. I'm not exactly sure why one would want an outdoor rink to skate around in circles by oneself, but the hockey rink in the backyard is a frequent discussion at our house.

This week all of the ice is gone, and I can almost see green. Almost.

Squirrel gumbo, anyone?

Remember the crazy, demon squirrels that ate the face off my jack-o-lantern?

They are back.

A few weeks ago, I was very proud to finally hang up a birdfeeder in my backyard. It was one of those projects that I just kept putting off, and I just about let the birds go hungry all winter.

Over the next few days, I kept such an eye on the birdfeeder that Dave accused me of turning into an old person. Finally, there was a noticeable amount of birdseed gone.

Then, I saw the culprit. The next day, the rodent had torn off the bottom part of the birdfeeder so all the seed was on the ground. Then, the demon stole the bottom of the feeder. A few days later, I was shocked to see the squirrels were actually eating the plastic on the birdfeeder.

I started to take it down and throw it away.

But on second thought, maybe the plastic will kill them. I'm curious to see if they will eat all of it.

But if they mess up my elaborate garden plans this summer, oh baby, it's on.

Oliver gets his blanket...

We took baby Oliver his 12 blanket this weekend, and he slept the entire time. Doesn't he look like a doll? The camera is so he can take pictures with his dad one day.

Yes, Grandmother, I made this one by myself...she helped with the last station baby blanket. It's a good thing news people don't have babies that often.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back in time

This past Saturday I met up with several park district friends to travel to New Ulm for the Black Powder Trade Fair, which some groups claim is one of the fastest growing trade show in the Midwest.

I am continually amazed by the number of people who devote a large chunk of their lives to researching and reenacting history. These people know their stuff. This trade show specialized in times around 1820 and before, but several items could be used up to 1900. You could buy copper kettles, buffalo hide, wooden spoons, leather bound journals, 1850 maps, wool socks, needle cases, sage, clothing... the list could go on, and set-up was pretty impressive. The prices were pretty reasonable--there were several items you could pick up here cheaper than you could at Walmart.

It's obvious people don't do this for the money.

By just walking through, it's pretty clear to see how close-knit the historical reenactment community is. It was less like a venue and more like a family reunion. I saw more than once someone ask a question about a product or want to buy a product, and the vendor explain they were actually just watching the booth for someone else. That person would be back in a bit. Interestingly enough, I never saw anyone get upset over this.

Since we were in New Ulm, there was a nice german lunch of brats, sauerkraut, German potato salad, ham hocks, beer, and a few other things I can't remember. After eating, I decided there is a pretty good reason Germans drink alot of beer to wash down this stuff. I don't think I'm a big fan, so I was very glad to stop at a old fashioned drugstore and soda fountain on the way back.

New Ulm is a bit over an hour from the Twin Cities and if you happen to pass through, stop at a small town called Henderson. Go to the old fashioned drugstore and soda fountain and get something. It's the cutest atmosphere and the people are as friendly as can be. I had the greatest heath bar-carmel-chocolate sundae. I could've ate two.

This little town celebrates its german heritage every year with the Sauerkraut Days Festival. Maybe I'll go back then and have another sundae.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Three degrees of "American Idol" separation?

Those of you who know me, know I've become a fan of American Idol these last three seasons. I don't really pick a favorite until really late in the game, and I still don't have a favorite now.
But I did vote for David Cook at least 30 times in the final night last year.
My students seem to have a favorite. Even in the world of online education, I can feel the Arkansas buzz over Conway's own Kris Allen. One of my students claims to know him. They've worked that into discussion boards and emails and papers. Since I do have to keep up with Little Rock stations for their sake, I know it's something that's being covered in a notable way.
I don't think he'll make it very far, but it's fun cheering for the local boy.
And also good to know Conway has more to offer than Toad Suck Days.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Slumdog

Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from "Slumdog Millionaire".

1. Life isn't fair.

2. Don't take your shoes off at the Taj Mahal.

3. There's always hope.

4. Children are resilient.

5. Don't buy bottled water in India.

6. People can be really mean. I mean really, really really mean.

7. True love exists.

8. The older brother isn't always right. But sometimes he does the right thing.

9. If you want to squeeze through a big crowd at a fast pace, you might try what Jamal did to get an autograph. But I don't recommend it.

10. The third Muskateer is Aramis.

11. People do really stupid things over religion.

12. The strange guy with an accent who calls my house might say he's from my street, but that's really the name of the row where he sits in a Call Center.

13. But Call Center people have their own waiter.

14. Bollywood endings are catchy!

15. Jai Ho means "victory" or "may victory be yours" or "hallelujah".

16. We are very lucky to live in America.

17. The movie deserved every award it got.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A state of hockey

The State of Hockey is alive and well in Minnesota.

This week Dave has been living the week all Minnesotans crave: the State Hockey Tournament. There's a channel that's been broadcasting all games, and it's been on continually in our newsroom. If you don't have a team to cheer for, you find one. It's like high school football in the south, except everyone is bundled up cheering for the team on the ice. And if you need any more proof you are in the state of hockey, go to the Xcel Energy Center where the Wild play. There in a big glassed-in semi-circle, you'll find a display with every high school hockey jersey in the state. It's pretty impressive proof of the importance they place on the sport.

I think the chants are great. Sure, there are cheerleaders, but most of the cheering comes from rowdy parents and different student groups that make up different chants to taunt the other team. It's hilarious to hear what some of the kids come up with.

The Edina kids are the wealthy ones, and everywhere they go the other team chants: "Dad-dy's Mon-ey" clap. clap. clap-clap-clap "Dad-dy's Mon-ey" clap. clap. clap-clap-clap .. on and on.

To which the Edina kids either erupt into wild screaming, which I thought was pretty funny, or they chant something back, like they did to the not-so-affluent Burnsville, "Pump-our-gas" clap. clap. "Pump-our-gas" clap. clap. Add this to an atmosphere with a sport that encourages slams and some punches, and you've got the makings of a really good grudge match. And if they climb the walls of the game afterwards, you know it was a close one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Wild dream come true

I don't post much to this blog, as my wife does a much better job telling our life stories than I do.

This one, however, was one that only I could tell.

By now you know my love for hockey and just how much fun I have had in Minnesota playing and covering the sport. Earlier this month the two crossed paths and I was able to take part in the Minnesota Wild's fantasy camp and do a story on it. The day was one of the most enjoyable that I have had on the job anywhere.

Here is the version that ran on our 10pm news, Sunday March 8.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Where the Swans are

If you are ever in Minnesota between November and February, go to Monticello to see more than 1500 Trumpter Swans. It is truly a sight to see.

Perhaps moreso because of the swan comeback. Swans used to be scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the 1800s, Trumpeter Swans were in high demand for their feathers which were used in hats and for pens and writing quills. Because of that, they were hunted until people believed they were extinct. Then, someone found two swan nests in Yellowstone in 1919. In 1966, naturalists reintroduced the swans to Minnesota. By 1994, there were more than 200 in the state and more flock here every year.

Why do they come to Monticello?

The mom and dad swans raise the baby swans, called Cygnets, through their first winter and first flights. Then, they literally chase the Cygnets away. The young swans siblings stay together until they find their mate for life--and where better to find that than where the waters are warm all winter--in Monticello, downstream from a nuclear power plant.

The plant up the river keeps the water warm, and a lady named Sheila provides shelled corn for their food. What a great place to mingle. Sheila has been providing the corn for more than 20 years, and she has done it all on a donation basis. As you can see, several ducks and geese are freeloading too.

The dating game is funny to watch. Several swan will chase each other and honk at each other and snap at each other's backsides. You can see some of this in the pictures. You can spend a few minutes here watching and laughing.There aren't many signs to the Swan park. It's just a sliver of land between two houses, and you can stand and take pictures in a fenced-in area. When one of our photographers went out to do a story there, the lady in the next house yelled at him for trespassing in her yard. "The National Geographic people had to stay in the fence, so you can too!" We didn't dare.

I didn't have my good camera with me, so here's a few from the point and shoot. The video is not the best, but listen to it just to hear the sound. It sounds like a warm-up before a concert.

The swans have already started to leave and fly South. While we drove north, we saw several pair flying in that direction. Guess they found their mate for life.... we'll see them back in November.

Dave meets Conan

Yes, he's really that tall.

Conan O'Brien is going around the country and stopping at the big stations to talk up his Tonight Show takeover. Word around the station is that Conan was a really nice guy, and was cordial to everyone. The sales team packed the halls and studio with clients, so Conan didn't really get to talk too much to news folks... but it was still pretty exciting to snap pictures with him. Tonight all station personnel have changed their facebook profile pics to Conan pics.

Since I'm not a fan of Jay Leno (since I nearly got kicked out of his show at a taping last May...no texting or cell phones after shows! That page was on a power trip. I haven't watched 5 minutes of a show since....) I am anxiously awaiting the age of Conan. I think Dave's entire station is too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The icy thing you see located behind my car tire is what causes drivers up here alot of angst. A guy I work with broke a toe once kicking it the thing off. They melt during rush hour, fall off cars, and then refreeze to create a nice patch of black ice. They leave nice chunks in parking lots and on driveways. But what IS it called?

I've heard it called a clunker, a chunker, an ice berg, and a tire berg. One local radio station was having people call in reporting what they call them. A tire dam? A mess?

A blizzard named Xerxes

A blizzard named Xerxes hit the Twin Cities last week, and it was a doozy. Forecasters said with arctic air coming in from the northwest and precip coming in from the southwest, we had a 100% chance of getting blasted. And we did.

The snow started falling at right at noon. By the time I left for work, 20 minutes later, this is what it looked like. This was the scariest condition I've ever driven in. You literally couldn't see 30 feet ahead of you. I couldn't tell if I was in both lanes or on the shoulder. I inched along going 30-40 mph until I found other cars, then I could follow the trail. It took me nearly 2 hours to get in.

By the time I got off work, the snow had stopped but the wind was still blowing. Weather forecasters gave out warnings for "blowing snow."

Of course, I knew the weather was perfect for a live shot, and that's what I did. I called it a smo-storm in the outro.

And, an FYI.... there isn't a group that names snow events like hurricanes. Instead, different cities and different organizations do different things. The Minnesota Department of Transportation names particular snow events in alphabetical order after city streets. Because this was such a big snow event, the name Xerxes will now be retired and MNDOT is now out of Xs. There's another snowstorm expected this week, so March can live up to the hype as the snowiest month of the year.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yay team

The 12 News team won a few awards recently in the Northwest Broadcast News Association Eric Sevareid Awards Competition. The reporters each entered stories, but our sports department actually came out on top.

Our sports department is pretty unique. Not only do they produce material for the regular newscast, but they produce an hour-long show every week on prep sports in the Northwest Metro area. Then, they broadcast several games live on the station. A special production crew sets up the game and then our guys go out to do play by play and produce stories. It's a quality operation and it's a great service for the Northwest Metro area. People actually work here who grew up with 12 and remember watching to see the replay of the game after playing in it.
The Documentary Special deserved the recognition as well. The news department produced this half hour edited documentary that featured the 25 years that the nine metro cities have funded NorthWest Community Television or 12 News. Ironically enough, I was assigned to profile the longest running show on our neighbor, the access channel, called Seniors on Screen. In it, seniors have produced, hosted, and broadcast 1000 episodes. Since I spent 3 years in Shreveport on a seniors beat, I couldn't help but smile when they gave me my assignment. The best quote in my story came when I asked a lady who had to be all of 85, "What would you have said if I had told you 40 years ago you'd be working in TV?" "I woulda told you you were nuttier than an 8-pound fruitcake."

Documentary/Special (the News dept did this one)
25 Years of TV

Sports Play-by-Play
Osseo vs. Champlin Park Football

Sports Play-by-Play
Wayzata vs. Rosemount Football

Sports Jam
This place is a diamond in the rough in the news biz, and this is just one of the many reasons why.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thar she blows!

One snow event and one blizzard have given us a new chance to use our new snowblower. Before, it truly seemed like we were the only ones on the block who did not have one. After a 3-6 inch snowfall, it makes a heck of a difference in snow shovel time.

There's a big problem with this picture, though. You are supposed to blow the snow into your yard, not the street. We've seen several people in the neighborhood blow snow and huge piles of leaves into the street, so we thought nothing of it.

Then, someone from the sheriff's office randomly drove by and let us know snowblowing into the street is illegal. That's when we used our standard excuse that always seems to work with people up here, "Geez. I didn't know. I moved here from Louisiana."

It is so unusual to actually hear of someone moving from a warmer place to this icebox that the standard followup question came next, "WHY?"