Thursday, 30 July 2009

They Have Eight Legs

Because of the eight legs, spiders can move quickly. You never really know where they are going and they can get there in no time flat. That is why I have an un-natural fear of Arachnids. This fear is commonly referred to as Arachnophobia.

I live in a basement studio apartment in the city of Eugene. I LOVE it because it is brand new construction (carpet, tile, bathroom, kitchen windows...). The location is fab because I can walk to restaurants, pubs, the library and coffee shops. Perfect for one person and there is even an outdoor area where I have a container garden. My home has been here for a year. Because it is partially underground, it remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter. However, there is a drawback: spiders.

My courage to kill them waivers but so far, the small ones have been fairly easy to conquer. I even let some of them live and a tiny one resides in the upper corner of my shower (wow that is gross - can't believe I just typed that). But last night I met my match. This one was crawling on the wall at the far end of my apartment.



The scare happened after work so it was in the early hours of the morning (1 a.m.-ish). Kingsley was getting ready for work and we were talking on Skype. I asked if he thought the spider would bother me.

Me: "Can't I just leave it alone? Spiders eat bugs you know..."
Kings: "Well, spiders can crawl into beds..."
Me: "Oh my gosh. I have to kill it."
Kings: "Just take a slipper and whack it..."
Me: "Really? I don't know..."
Kings: "You can do it, babe. Listen, I have to get in the shower, I'm late for work."
Me (in a small, scared voice): "Okay."

Since Kingsley was not able to witness my battle, I recorded it so you could be there (and I wouldn't have to face the spider alone).

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Pacific Northwest Heat Wave



It was 24 degrees Celsius (75 F) when I was driving home last night after work at 11:45 p.m. The high is forecasted to be 105 today and it was 106 in Eugene yesterday. That. Is. Hot. If you live in a Southern, desert or Midwestern state, the heat is normal. It is not normal in Oregon. In fact, no one has air conditioning here. Similar to London, this part of the country rarely reaches temperatures beyond 100.

My job is great. I'm challenged to do new things. We debuted a brand new virtual set last night but as you do, I don't always want to go in and work. I am a creative soul (whatever). But now, I adore going into work because I can enjoy the air conditioning. It's amazing what you take for granted.

But when I get home, it is still prettttty warm, even at midnight. So, after enduring the heat for hours on Monday night, I got out of bed at 1:30 a.m. and went to the 24 hour Wal-mart. This is my respite (one of the last fans on the shelves):



How are you keeping cool?

Sore

I watched a show on the Discovery Channel called The Alaska Experiment where couples were placed in the wild of Alaska to survive for three months. There were moments that seemed so difficult for the people, and I wondered aloud, "How can they go on?" Some of us can relate to the struggle they faced albeit not physical challenges.

Imagine you are in the wilderness with the supplies you need to stay alive comfortably for many months. You still get email from your friends and family and lover but you cannot spend time with them. You hope you will see them again soon but you aren't sure when that will be. First, you believe you'll see them in a few months, then those months pass and you start to get hopefully because you believe you'll see them in a matter of weeks. Just when you plan the date on which you will reunite, someone says, sorry, no. You'll have to wait at least another three months but we can't guarantee you'll see them then either.

Your mind starts to play tricks on you. You regret ever going on the trek and you wonder why you decided to leave your loved one in the first place. Even though you've learned a lot and are grateful for a new experience, you feel like a failure for getting yourself in this situation. The nights are the most difficult part. You stay up reading just to have false company and wait until complete exhaustion creeps in to turn off the light.

I wish things were different for my darling and I. The sorrow is not easy to deal with. I am an extremely private person and hate to show emotion to others. Plus, no one wants to shoulder someone else's seemingly never-ending burden. My release is blogging.

Yes, I can go to visit Kingsley but I only have a week's vacation and that is not enough time to celebrate love and knit together (again) a strong bond of hope and strength. We just knew saying goodbye at the airport after our wedding in May would be the last painful detachment experience we would have to suffer. This is horribly disappointing.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Monday Minutes 3

Monday's highs: Dinner on the patio by myself at Ta Ra Rin. Best Thai food I've had so far in Eugene. Also today, I walked to the new Saint Vincent de Paul (charity shop) bookstore on East 11th and bought two travel memoirs, An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser and The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway ($1.25 each!!).

Monday's lows: We found out our K-1 Visa has been temporarily denied. (Still do not know specifics on why - probably something to do with Kingsley growing up in South Africa and all paperwork prior to 1995 being destroyed in that country - the US Embassy is extremely strict on having original documents). We have to apply for a wavier which will cost another $500 and will take up to 12 weeks (3 months). Devastating but we decided: okay, we can deal with this. Kingsley has a British Passport and is a British citizen, he can come for a visit so we can at least see each other while we sort out the next round of hoops to jump through. So today, we booked his plane ticket to fly over on August 12th. I was on top of the world and we were so happy -- until he received an email that brought us both crashing down. While we are in the wavier status Kingsley is denied all travel to the U.S. I guess the government fears he'll stay illegally but he was only coming to visit me! I have cried more today than I have all year. I feel so tired and slept for two hours in the middle of the day and my stomach is sick! This seems so unfair as we are following all proceedures required and doing things legally. I just want to be able to share the gorgeous Oregon scenery and the Douglas Firs with him and go to the coast together, and walk hand-in-hand in parks and listen to music together and open a bottle of champagne to toast our first couple of months of marriage and... Wow, I am down.

Monday's Randoms: Got about 10 comments on a YouTube video I posted of our Eugene Tweetup. I've been posting there for years and hardly ever get a comment. Put my ninja skills to work tonight and killed two flies that got into the apartment while I watered my tomato plants. Worked on my LinkedIn profile for a distraction.

There's only a few people in the drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. If you post your "Monday Minutes" below you are automatically entered. Every Monday you post, you get an entry. I'll draw the winner on August 10th.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Eugene Tweetup



We had a fun tweetup at Villard Street Pub in Eugene. This is the second one I've attended and I helped arrange this one.



The first one had a larger attendance (on a Wed night) but we had about 10 people show up and it was a nice intimate, fun group.



I met @runnergirl71, @tiffanybrook and @bodrell for the first time. My pals @jeremyherbert, @myeugene, @hanspeterson and @jyonah showed up as well.



If you live in Eugene, follow me @denae_d and join us at the next tweetup. If you live somewhere else, create your own tweetup!



We decided to take a video at the tweetup so we could introduce ourselves to other Twitter users.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Me? I Do Loves Some Weekend

Yesterday went to Gervais to visit my friendly neighborhood hair stylist, Laura. I adore her and she is my favorite hair guru (besides my hubs). I didn't get a haircut but my color turned out perfectly (blond and medium blond).





Then last night I met up with my friend Seth and we went to "An Evening At the Chateau" at winery Chateau Lorane. The weather was hot but once the sun dipped behind the hills at 8pm, it was glorious. We sipped wine, ate a delicious dinner and contributed to ARC, a program which helps people with developmental disabilities and their families. I didn't win anything in the silent auction but made some contacts with viewers as this was a KVAL sponsored event.




Sunday I went to Chikara to get a head and neck massage with Amy. That is such a treat and our insurance pays a bit of the bill. She helped break up the toxins in my neck and shoulders and I'm drinking water now to flush it out. If you need a stress reliever this is a great one for less than $50 (I used part of a gift card yay!).

In a couple of hours, I'm heading to a Eugene tweetup that I arranged for Eugene Twitter users. Do you have a free Twitter account? If so, follow me at @Denae_D. We're heading to Villard Street Pub which is near campus.

What did you do this weekend?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Growing Herb



Seems like my window-sill herb garden is doing well. I have Lemon Thyme, Rosemary, African Basil, Oregano and Lavender. Yesterday I added a small Spearmint plant (great for iced tea and Mojitos) but didn't photograph it.







This morning I also checked my tomato plant and it seems like over night I have a half dozen little yellow blooms. Hopefully they'll turn into red Roma tomatoes. I do adore summer. Are you growing anything this year?

Monday, 20 July 2009

Monday Minutes 2

I'm still doing a "Monday Minutes" giveaway for a $25 gift card to Amazon.com. Every time you post your own "Monday Minutes" in the comment section you are entered in the drawing to be held on Monday, August 24. So far, there is only one contestant: MyEugene.

Monday's highs: Kingsley and I have good news when it comes to the Visa. We received a helpful letter from Kingsley's attorney. One step closer! I am remembering the gorgeous trip to the coast I had this weekend and seeing the elk was amazing. Free ice cream cone coupon to Prince Puckler's in the mail from Pam, my mortgage specialist. Nummy. Got some pub for the new newscast look from Oregon Media Central.

Monday's lows: My computer is still broken at work and I had to produce without my email, specialized links and a P:// drive. Not fun. It was warm and sunny this afternoon thus it was brutal to drive into work. I want to be outside watering my tiny herb garden and reading a book.

Monday's randoms: I am wearing a really bright sweater. Not sure about the color. My fingernail polish is chipping. Twitter keeps crashing. Ate a nectarine for a snack and it was perfectly ripe and sweet.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bandon and Coos Bay






The sun was shining and for just a minute while having lunch inside an authentic Mexican restaurant along the bay, I felt like I was in another country. My short trip to the West Coast was needed to escape the stress of it all and I had a lovely time listening to the waves crash, watching the seagulls soar and I even saw a herd of wild Roosevelt elk on the way home.



I snapped these shots in Bandon, which is along Hwy 101. There are huge rocks just off the coast line and I think the one below is Face Rock.



One of the best things about the West Coast is the drift wood shelters. All along the beach, you can find huge pieces of driftwood and then campers construct little huts. Exploring is a treat.



The highlight of the trip: experiencing wildlife! "Elk Crossing" signs line Hwy 38 between Reedsport and Coos Bay. I even noticed a few "Elk Viewing" areas but when I drove through on Saturday, the elk were not around. Well, they were out in the open on Sunday.



The herd consisted of about 16 bulls (male elk) and the Ranger said they are all young. He told a crowd of people watching the animals that they've lived in this area of Oregon for years. There is a fence blocking the forestry land from people but the ranger said an elk can jump a 12 foot fence without a second thought. That made me back away slightly. For perspective, elk are about the size of a small horse and not as big as a moose. Certainly an amazing sight!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Who's Excited About the Weekend?



I am! For the first time since I've lived in Eugene, Oregon, I'm going to venture to Coos Bay and Bandon. These two towns are on the Oregon coast approximately a 2 hour drive from Eugene.

My plan is to walk on the rocks along the sea, explore the downtown areas and have dinner with friends who will be there for a station event. I also hope to drive to the Shore Acre Gardens and enjoy the outdoor concert.

What are you up to?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Freedom of Speech...?

This week we ran a story about a pastor in Florida who posted a sign in the front lawn of his church which read "Islam is Of the Devil." Terry Jones says he will not remove the sign and plans to add more signs regarding his views on abortion and homosexuality. As you might imagine, there are many people who are exercising their rights to protest Jones' intolerance. He says "True Christians would not be offended by the sign." Therefore, if you are offended by his makeshift "Islam Is Of The Devil" sign according to Jones, you are not a "true Christian."


Here's a news story from a local station, near Gainsville Florida:



How can the leader of a church show such intolerance to others who believe something beyond his version of "Christianity?" Jones says the Dove Outreach Center is a "charismatic, non-denominational church."

After airing a version of the story, we asked viewers, "Should the church be able to post this sign?" Many wrote in saying the church should have the right to post signs but that Jones' sign was upsetting because it does not show an outpouring of love.

I also spend time considering this and reluctantly, I agree. Jones should be able to post his signs. It is the First Amendment that allows us freedom in the United States to practice the religion of our choice (including Islam!) and promote our opinions. Thankfully, my job as a journalist is also protected by the First Amendment and so is your right to express your opinions when church leaders post signs. We have a responsibility to use our freedom of speech to educate ourselves, be involved in politics, and make friends from other races, religions, gender and sexual orientation. The U-S would be quite boring if we only had the Joneses to keep up with.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Monday Minutes



I'm starting a new weekly post, "Monday Minutes." I'll hit up the highs, the lows and the randoms of Monday. Please share yours too. For every Monday you post your "Monday Minutes" in the comment section, you get one entry into a drawing to be held on Monday, August 10th. The prize is $25 gift card for Amazon.com. If the winner is an international reader, I'll order what you wish and have it shipped to you for a total of $25. Yippee for prizes!

Monday's highs: Logged onto my blog and noticed Kingsley posted a comment about my baseball pitch over the weekend. I love it when he posts here. My second cup of coffee this morning tasted really good. Great news about a virtual set for the 11pm newscast. Might not have to use the Chroma Key wall after all. Received mail from Larsen - an article about how David beats Goliath.

Monday's lows: My mom is feeling under the weather and I'm worried about her. I sent off back taxes which I owe to the city of Gahanna. Apparently I worked for my mother while there one week during my second year as a student in London. A tiny bit of taxes but expensive late penalties and interest. I ran out of my Studio Fix MAC make-up. Ripped a hole in my nylons while at work.

Monday's randoms: Blasted classical music with the windows down on the way to work and felt strangely free. Put WAY too much pepper on my chic peas and garlic tomato dish for dinner. A deer was standing by the road on the way home and didn't even flinch when I honked. I'm going to shop for cell phones online as soon as I finish this sentence.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The First Pitch




When we arrived at KVAL Cap Night, the line stretched around the block. Folks wanted their free caps and we ran out quickly (not too cool).





The weather was gorgeous and I was very nervous about my duty of throwing out the first pitch. No practice session for me - but I stood under the grandstand before stepping out on the field jumping up and down and warming up my arm.

Kingsley gave me this advice: "Throw at the catcher's head." Dino, our promotions manager said: "Throw as hard as you have ever thrown the ball and throw it as high as you've ever thrown the ball." Nick, our sports guy said: "Stand on the mound when you pitch so people respect you". Brian, the man who walked me out to the mound said: "Don't worry, you can step up closer so you don't bounce it."

To compare my pitch to others', please take a look at the below examples.
The first one is not even close.



How annoying is this guy? And he practiced!



President George W. had to walk to the front of the mound.



And Mariah Carrey - embarrassing with her heels and diva, half-hearted throw.


So, here goes my pitch, from the mound, exactly where the pitcher stands. Keep an open mind...


I was so shocked that I got it over the plate that I kissed the poor catcher on the cheek when he gave me the ball. He is 19 and still has braces so I'm sure he was thinking: what is this old woman doing but hey, I wanted to jump up and down and hug someone. Yay for baseball and some girls aren't half bad!

"Delicate Grace"



My wonderful mom sent me a card (from Papyrus) full of encouragement. An inspiring quote was tucked inside the note. I wanted to share it with you. It reads:

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and laughter is life's sweetest creation." -Papyrus

Friday, 10 July 2009

Like a Lizard

Earlier this week, I blogged about changes to the newscast I anchor, KVAL News at 11.

Here's the rub: Used to be, Dave and I would sit at the desk on our 1980s purple set and both anchor a 30 minute newscast. It looked something like this:

Now, Dave is working dayside so he can be on special assignment and finally get a good shift after 15 some odd years working for the company. SO that means some changes. We've moved to a solo-anchor show (which is exciting for my career) and we're trying a faster paced newscast with shorter stories, wipes and more interaction with viewers. We use KVAL's website, emails and Twitter as tools to generate feedback and news sources. The new format looks something like this:

Yes, there IS a difference. Things change and I for one, do not necessarily like change. In the professional TV news world, viewers DESPISE change and especially the older demographic. Backlash is to be expected any time an anchor cuts her hair, is hired in a new city or alters the look of a newscast.

Several viewers have made their opinions about our new format very clear by sending in emails to our newsroom - which to my humiliation, everyone reads. They've contained insults, complaints and one caller today told me women should not be doing the news by themselves - "There needs to be a man there too. But if I was younger, I'd date you." Sexism is alive in Eugene, Oregon.

Point being, this has been a week of professional growth and the transition period is not over. I have pulled out my thickest lizard skin to deal with the backlash of change. Yes, we have gotten compliments. One couple emailed me to say they just moved from San Diego and they appreciate the fresh style of the newscast. I've also gleaned 10 new Twitter followers from our viewer area. But this is not easy. Dave game me great advice today: Don't take it personally.

I've responded to every email that has come in asking viewers to keep the feedback coming, saying we welcome their opinion. Some have written back again and I think they were surprised to and even get a response.

This rough patch will pass, I know. I also realize I'm not the only one that has little, sharp attacks coming in daily. If you're going through a low point like I am, put on your lizard skin. The scrapes aren't that deep - and you won't even feel them after a while.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Cap Night

Unsettling update: I've been asked to throw out the first pitch for KVAL Cap Night. The other anchors have already done it a few times in past years so it is up to me to get the game started. I'm already feeling the embarrassment. Yes, our sports photographer will be there to capture the pitch on tape. Let's just HOPE we have other pressing news Saturday night so the story is dropped.
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It's that time of the year again. Saturday night is KVAL Cap Night at the Eugene Emerald's game. We'll be there giving out free baseball hats - and the bonus? I get to stay and watch the game for free.

Here's some pics from last year's Cap Night:







I do love major league baseball and minor league isn't bad. When I lived in Cincinnati, my loft apartment was located downtown, only a 10 minute walk to the Reds Stadium. I'd walk down on Thursdays and go to the "Poor Man's Special" (cheap tickets) and sit watching Ken Griffey Junior hit a few out of the park into the Ohio River. To me, summer = baseball. Here's hoping the weather is nice.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The New Look



We have developed a brand new format for KVAL News at 11, which is the newscast I anchor in Eugene, Oregon (market 119). I helped design the interactive show with my producer, Annie and our news director, Jenny. We decided to make the changes after my colleague, Dave went to day side so he could work on special assignments and spend more time with his family.

The solo-anchor show centers around interaction with viewers and online news junkies. We're trying to marry the two by using both user-generated content from our website, kval.com and local and national news we collect from our sources.

The new project is exciting but challenging because we don't necessarily have a news model to follow. Thankfully, we are getting excellent input from our consultant, our viewers and our professional news staff which includes our Meteorologist, Seth.

Currently we're connecting with viewers and kval.com users through YouNews (user-generated news online), Twitter you can follow me by clicking here and comments posted on kval.com. We also produce a segment called Viewer's Voice where viewers can give their input by sending an email to kvalnews@kval.com. We're not even a week into the new format, but the response is encouraging (especially from the younger demographic) and the newscast has renewed energy.

What would you like to see on the news? Do you have another idea on how we can be interactive during a newscast? Post a comment. I would greatly appreciate your advice.

MJ Memorial Media Coverage



The Complaining
So many complaints today on Twitter and FB and phone calls in the newsroom re: Michael Jackson's memorial. The trend I'm seeing is: most white religious, white conservatives and white senior citizens do not want to see anymore about him. No worries, the coverage will die down, I promise. BUT there were millions of people all over the world crammed into theatres mouring him during the memorial. I watched video from 20 countries when I got to work. Whether you like it or not, MJ impacted the world (you know, the space beyond the U-S). Not only that, he has received more awards than any other singer of all time. He was awarded 8 Grammys on Thriller alone and his album stayed at the top of Billboard Charts for 122 weeks. That is an insane amount of time for the public to like certain music.

The Facts
Also, 1. There are no facts on record that he died of a drug overdose. 2. There are no facts on record that he was a peodophile. My journalistic feelings are coming out here but I'm so tired of getting this call: "Why are you playing news stories about that sick druggie who molested little boys!? Me and Papaw are switching the channel!!!"

Coping
Please, if Michael Jackson coverage upsets you, I understand. My advice? Turn off your television, do not go online, do not read a newspaper and stop talking about him. I promise, he will go away more quickly this way. But remember, there were people in China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal today... that wanted to watch his memorial. Michael Jackson has likely influenced the music you enjoy listening to today.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The "Domesticated" Wilderness

My friend Natasha had a great idea a few weeks ago. "The 4th of July is coming up, we should go camping!" Several of us decided to heed the call of the wild and I booked #5 at Packard Creek Campground. We went with Lindsay and Karl and later, Annie and Jamie met us there. This is what the site looks like:



It is near the small city of Oakridge, Oregon (pop 3,380) and approximately 48 miles from Eugene. Less than an hour's drive from where I live but it seemed very much like we were away from the grind of life because none of us had cell phone service.




Even though we were only venturing away from home for one night, we packed like we were going for a week. The back of Natasha's ride was full and we all held bags and pillows on our laps.



One of the most "outdoorsy" moments for me was learning to put up the tent. Lindsay has the same tent I've been considering buying for me and Kings. It's the Ozark Trail 9x8 dome tent which supposedly sleeps 4. Cheap, but easy to put up and certainly does the job. Even though Oregon is stoking my sense of adventure, I do not plan to ever sleep outdoors 1.) for more than 2 nights in a row 2.) if the weather is going to be below 45F.



Here's what I learned about putting up a tent: lay it out straight, put the poles together, carefully slide the poles through the slots, wait to hook the poles to the bottom of the tent until the main poles are in place. Voila!



It only took us 20 minutes to set up camp and then it was time to check out the best part - Hills Creek Lake. Less than a 4 minute walk from our campsite was a lovely "beach" and swimming area.





Annie and her husband, Jamie arrived and we laid out in the sun, listened to music, talked and dared one another to swim out to the tiny dock in the swimming area. Once most of the children were out of the water, all 6 of us swam out to the dock. We sat in the sun and generally felt good about ourselves for being in our 20s/30s and still able to play like kids on the 4th of July.



After swimming until the sun was dipping behind the trees we ventured back to the campground to get the fire going and see about cooking up a tasty feast.



Karl and Jamie got the fire going and Jamie added hot dogs, burgers and chicken to the grill. Yum. Our first course was hot dogs and buns.



Then later, we all tried Natasha's yummy chicken with the potato salad, fresh red onion and juicy tomato provided by Annie. I made Rice Krispie treats and we had tons of chow left over.






The weather was gorgeous: 80s and sunny with a slight breeze coming off of the water. We talked about the different native trees surrounding our campground and later, around a cozy fire we discussed our hobbies: music, writing, basketball and art. We also used the fire to roast marshmallows which were a hit!


At the end of the night, no makeup, no shower after swimming in the lake, I snapped one last shot just so I could prove that yes, we were going to sleep in a tent (pink sleeping bag and all) under the protection of Oregon's Douglas Firs.