Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sprucing Up The Place

I haven't changed the look of the blog much since I started, so I'm going to slowly install some upgrades. Comments will now be through Haloscan. Unfortunately, that means all previous comments are gone. Eventually I want to move to three columns. But life calls.

Give a Listen

So I was watching this movie this evening for the umpteenth time (love the kids who portray Nathan, and Kurt Russell's subtle facial expressions) and became intrigued by the music used during scenes of "Todd's" education on aspects of life other than soldiering.

The song is entitled "Night Ride Across The Caucasus" and was written and performed by Loreena McKennitt. It may be found on her album "The Book of Secrets."

Checking the trivia section on Internet Movie Database led to the discovery of inside jokes contained within the movie, including references to "Blade Runner", also written by David Webb Peoples, and many other Kurt Russell films.

But my favorite is that "Todd" is trained in the use of the "Illudium PU36 ES,M." For those familiar with Bugs Bunny cartoons, that would be the Illudium PU36 Explosive Space Modulator, the weapon Marvin the Martian is always threatening to use on Earth.

Class dismissed.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe ...

to go back in the water:

PHOENIX - It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.

Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.


Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria lives almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even dirty swimming pools, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment.

Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, "basically feeding on the brain cells," Beach said.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes, he said.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," he said.

Researchers still have much to learn about Naegleria. They don't know why, for example, children are more likely to be infected, and boys are more often victims than girls.


Beach cautioned that people shouldn't panic about the dangers of the brain-eating bug. Cases are still extremely rare considering the number of people swimming in lakes. The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to use nose clips when swimming or diving in fresh water.

"You'd have to have water going way up in your nose to begin with" to be infected, he said.
Duuuuuuuhhhhhhhh dun. Duuuuuuuhhhhhhhh dun. Dun duh dun duh dun duh dun duh .......

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work

So President Bush says we can't afford to spend an extra $30 billion over five years to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP. But, he wants to spend another $42 billion more just next year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(side note -- this would raise the total spending on the Iraq war alone to more than $600 billion -- or TWELVE TIMES the $50 billion cost the Pentagon estimated in 2002)

I wonder if the president's request includes money to fix this:

That's an aerial view of a U.S. Navy barracks in Coronado, Calif. It's been that way since 1967.

Since it was not visible from the ground, officials decided not to make any changes.

But aerial photos made available on Google Earth in recent years revealed the buildings' shape to a wide audience of computer users.
Glad we have our priorities straight.

Alas, Poor Hyphen! I Knew Him, Horatio ...

Pity the poor hyphen. Mis-used by so many, so often, for so long. Reuters informs us that some 16,000 words have lost their hyphens in the new edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary:

Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.

And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).

The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on Web sites and seep into newspapers and books.

"People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for," said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.

Some of the 16,000 hyphenation changes in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, sixth edition:

Formerly hyphenated words split in two:

fig leaf

hobby horse

ice cream

pin money

pot belly

test tube

water bed

Formerly hyphenated words unified in one:










"Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar?" (Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Act 5. Scene 1)

Stories I Love

I'm pleased to have been involved in a couple stories lately that have turned out to be bigger than originally thought. In fact, I was originally against airing one of them because it just didn't seem that important to me. Instead, it drew quite a response from viewers and will remain a story for several more days.

The other story just aired and has also caused quite a stir. I'm enjoying the feedback email we receive on these, which leads us to do follow-up stories providing additional information.

Neither story has been covered by any other outlet in town. We're not trumpeting them as "exclusives," but I do think both stories demonstrate strong efforts to be a better news operation.

And I truly appreciate all the feedback on the new KSPR. Keep it coming.

Be Careful What You Wish For

So after being struck down with a nasty cold going around the news room, I go to work today thinking it will be a fairly simple newscast. After all, we had a lot on the planner for today, including at least three reporter packages. After the five-thirty cast I believed I had a pretty good grasp of the rundown for the 10 p.m. cast, including a couple national stories.

At one point I said to no one in particular, "gee, I almost wish we had some breaking news tonight." Not too long after we began to hear scanner traffic on what appeared to be a robbery spree. One night side reporter (who really is the weekend weather guy), one photographer, two anchors, and me.

Along about 9 p.m. everything went crazy. Police were running all over town. Decided to send the live truck to the last robbery along with the night side guy (who stepped up and volunteered). That meant changing the rundown, especially since the reporter had already packaged what was to be the lead story. Then it got better, or worse, depending on your point of view.

A fourth robbery on East Sunshine, out near where I live. Send the live truck and reporter there, get on the phones gathering info, let the production staff know everything is changing less than an hour before air...including doing live promos.

Knowing he loves reporting, I called the Chatter guy who rushes toward the fourth robbery location. While on the phone with me he sees two police cruisers rushing away from that location, heading west. At the same time I hear scanner traffic indicating an arrest is imminent. Chatter dude does a U-turn and chases the police, swearing at drivers who won't get out of his way. I announce this to the newsroom and the entire production team lets out a laugh. Yes, we do have fun at our jobs!

If you watched the 10 p.m. cast Wednesday night you know the rest. The adrenaline rush hasn't stopped. This is what I love about the news biz! After the cast, Chatter guy informs us our intrepid weathercaster/reporter dude stole the SPD officer from a briefing for the competition in order for us to have a live interview! We're playing with the big dogs now!

What a night. What a crew. What a business.

And yes, several people reminded me what I'd wished for earlier in the evening.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hey There, Hi There, Ho There!

Long time, no post. I've been gearing up for the NEW KSPR news at ten the past couple weeks, and finding little time to blog. Hopefully, that will change soon.

So the new KSPR News debuted Sunday at 10 p.m. and yours truly produced the very first newscast. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, although there's always room for improvement. I'm proud to be a part of something new, and excited to be trying something different. Please give a look and tell me what you think. Or, you can leave comments at the station's new web site:

You'll find some of the stories we did for the first cast on the site. If you watched Sunday, what did you think?