Thursday, September 30, 2004

How to be a Hurricane Reporter

Excerpts from The Handbook for Roving Hurricane Correspondents:

Welcome to the exciting world of hurricane journalism!

While your highly paid colleagues on the anchor desk are broadcasting from the dry safety of a heavily fortified television studio, you and your camera crew will be out in the maw of the storm, risking your lives for no good reason.

What you should wear: Always choose the flimsiest rain jacket available, to visually dramatize the effect of strong winds. All foul-weather gear should be brightly colored in the event you're swept out to sea or sucked down a drainage culvert, and someone actually goes searching for you.

What you should televise: The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind. Never mind that the puniest summer squall can send a coconut palm into convulsions, your producer will demand this meaningless shot.

Once the storm begins, you can forget about swaying palm trees and concentrate on ficus, banyans, oaks and Austrialian pines -- the ones that actually go down.

Fallen-tree video is absolutely essential to hurricane broadcasts. The most sought-after footage is, in order of ratings:

1. Big tree on strip mall.

2. Big tree on house.

3. Big tree on car.

4. Small tree on car.

5. Assorted shrubbery on car.

Note: The Hurricane Broadcasters Code of Ethics forbids correspondents from purposely knocking down any native vegetation with a TV satellite truck to simulate weather damage.

Where you should go: The days before a hurricane are the most challenging for roving correspondents, because not much is happening. Needless to say, if you've got a choice between hanging out at the local Home Depot or cruising the beach, head immediately for the surf.

When the storm finally comes ashore, always stand dangerously near the rough water and position yourself so that the spray hits you directly in the face. If it's not raining yet, take off your hood and let the wind mess up your hair.

Remember: A wet, tired and weather-beaten appearance is crucial to your credibility as a hurricane journalist.

What you should say: When covering a hurricane, there's no such thing as overstating the obvious. And, let's face it, how many different ways can you say it's rainy, windy and miserable?

To break the monotony, you might take a guess at how high the ''storm surge'' will be, even though you won't have a clue. Tedious lulls in the action will also offer the opportunity to ramble on about ''feeder bands,'' which is the slick new term for squall lines.

And when the dry, well-fed anchorfolks back in the air-conditioned studio ask you to sum up the situation in your location, always say the following:

``Conditions are deteriorating, Dwight.''

Whom should you interview: As a hurricane advances, it's standard procedure to chat with evacuees, hotel owners, utility workers and disappointed tourists.

The two mandatory video loops are (a) worried residents boarding up and (b) harried residents standing in long lines to purchase water, batteries and other supplies.

Once the storm is imminent and the coastlines are evacuated, your interview possibilities will be reduced to:

1. Police and emergency personnel who are out on the streets because it's their job.

2. Amateur ''storm chasers'' and other wandering dolts who wish to experience the force of a hurricane up-close and personal.

3. Surfers.

Of these, surfers are by far the most entertaining interview subjects for TV. Unfortunately, you could easily die trying to talk them out of the water.

What to do when the hurricane actually strikes: Obviously the sensible move is to broadcast from the protected lee of a strong building, but for that you could get fired.

Your producer will instead order you to step into the teeth of the storm, where you risk being clobbered by flying glass, coconuts, shingles, patio furniture or surfboards.

This is an act of utter derangement, but it makes for amusing television. If you survive, your next mission will be to find and film a major piece of hurricane debris -- the money shot.

Remember, your viewers' expectations are high. They've watched that big slow mother whorling across the Doppler for a week, and they've been primed for devastation on a biblical scale.

Take no chances. Proceed immediately to the nearest trailer park, being extra careful not to crash into other TV crews on the way.

What to do when the worst is over: A friendly reminder -- The Hurricane Broadcasters Code of Ethics strictly prohibits drinking on the air. However, only you and your camera crew need know what goes on in the privacy of the satellite truck. If anybody asks, you know what to say: ``Conditions are deteriorating, Dwight.''

borrowed from an article by Carl Hiassan in the Miami Herald.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Last weekend, we hiked in North Carolina. Lots of fun. I love way the mountains appear to float in the morning fog in this photo.
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Ebay to the rescue!
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The new post cards are now available in Florida.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004 is our politcal candidates, only they have been cross gendered.

Scary Bush

Edwards looks happy

I think I have seen Cheney here in town!
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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sheep Apron

Ok.....we have all seen aprons or t-shirts with cute things printed on them that make the wearer look like a muscle man or such....but this is just odd. Sheep Apron

Native American Celebration.....something to do tomorrow

The Ocmulgee Indian Celebration is back in town...out at the old indian mounds at the Ocmulgee National Monument. Always a good time.
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Do the Funky Chicken

I am not sure why you would ever want to do the funky chicken....but in case the mode strikes, I stumbled across a website with the instructions for this most odd dance.

Do the Funky Chicken

Friday, September 17, 2004

I want one!

Be a dolphin! Yes, you too can be a dolphin in one of these snazzy little submarines. They are quick, sporty, and just look cool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

My head is going to explode! I went camping this past weekend with family, and caught my brother's cold. I haven't seen him more than 5 minutes in the past 3 months, so I spend one weekend with him and I catch his headcold.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I left this morning about 3:00am for work and got in at 6:00pm. Long day when you used to doing a standard 8 hour one. The wind was really bad here. Tons of trees down, a few buildings damaged, boat loads of limbs down, lots of roads closed due to downed power lines and trees, and about 68,000 households and businesses without electricity. When we got there this morning, we had about 20 schools without power. This evening, the number is down to about 13 or so. No school again tomorrow for the kids and teachers.

On the way to work, on US-80, I spotted one of those $650 metal carports sitting on the side of the road.....see photo. It blew from a good ways away. Probably 40 yards or more, plus crossed the four lane highway and ended up on the shoulder on the far side. After seeing what happpend to this one, I got worried about mine, and what condition that it might end up in, as that the wind was still whipping when I left home at 3:00am...but it looks pretty good.

I lost a bunch of limbs from the pecan trees, and one big dogwood tree (next to chickens on the far side of the garage) blew down....but no other trees were totally lost that I could see this afternoon. That leak in the valley of the roof over the kitchen leaked again. It was dripping out of the attic fan this morning....but seemed to stop as the day went on, even though the rain as been steady. So far we have gotten about 7 inches the weatherman said, although it seems like more. The Ocmulgee is up to the banks and predicted to get out of the banks a little bit tomorrow....cresting at 20 feet. Normal level is about 8 feet, and flood is considered at 18 feet.
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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Hurricane's a coming

Panoramic photo composite from Jensen Beach near the anticipated landfall point for hurricane Frances. The webpage has photos from the beach, along with weather data. Currently, the hurricane is still well offshore, but the beach has a steady wind of 45-50 miles per hour with higher gusts.

To zoom in on the photo above, click it. To see more recent photos, use the link in the text.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

IRLP - Internet Radio Linking Project

IRLP - Internet Radio Linking Project has live streaming (Real Player) audio from various shortwave operators to give live updates on conditions in their areas as Hurricane Frances approaches Florida, and to pass along warning and watch information, storm damage reports, and such. The livestream is intermittent...just depends on who is chatting on their ham radios at the time.

Probably will have more folks on during the evenings, and as the hurricane approaches. Some of the ham operators do have battery back up, so some reports should continue even after power is lost in the damage areas.

After the hurricane passes, this service may drop off.