Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Night At The "Still Mill"

I grew up in Pittsburgh which in it's heyday was known as the steel capital of the world. Today however,my hometown is now a technology and medical city. I'd never been in a working steel mill(pronounced still mill to you non-Pittsburgh people) while working in Pittsburgh. I've driven by a few, the closest was the Edgar Thompson works in Braddock, PA but never been inside an actual working mill. Until yesterday.

All this week, I've been shooting these stories, "A Night At....". Basically a take off on the movie A Night At The Museum. We've been showing the things that come alive at night when you are asleep. Last night Obie, my reporter, and I shot at the A.G. Mittal steel mill here in downtown Cleveland.

It was fascinating to say the least. What I didn't expect was to be able to feel the heat radiating off these slabs from so far away. Things are kinda hot at 2000 degrees even when doused with water and being flattened into giant rolls of steel.

Another thing I didn't count on was waking up this morning with aching sinuses and blocked nasal passages. Pardon me for being graphic here, but I've been blowing out black crap today every time I blow my nose. I really don't know how the guys that work these mills can stand it. Maybe they're so used to it by now. God bless them for dealing with it. Lord knows, I couldn't.

I just want to be able to breathe normally again and stop expelling the black crap out my nostrils.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ever Give A Mast A Bear Hug?

What am I doing in this picture?

I'm pressing the azimuth CCW button, for the dish on our satellite truck, in vain. Our truck operator, Gary, is up on the roof stomping his foot when he wants me to press the button. Why are we doing all of this? We're trying to save a live shot at the Kalahari Water Park that I mentioned in a post recently. Our dish has frozen. It will tilt, but it won't pan at all. It is so cold and windy outside with below zero temperatures for both air temp and wind chill that the dish is refusing to work. In all reality, I couldn't blame it.

We worked on the dish for a good two and a half hours and it wouldn't budge. Gary and I were constantly alternating between outside the truck and inside the truck, trying to thaw ourselves. I felt horrible for Gary who spent most of the time on the top of the truck because he's the shop geek and knows the truck backwards and forwards.

I had brought our tallest masted live truck and I thought while Gary was freezing his ears off, I'd try a desperate live truck shot back to Cleveland from Sandusky. So, as intrepid as I am, I went for it and set up my live truck.

The mast extended fully into the air and I talked to our signal acquisition or sig ack, as we call it, to bring the microwave signal in. I panned, tilted and prayed we could we could get a signal out of Sandusky. Sig ack saw me but we couldn't bring in a strong enough signal that was passable for on air quality.

So, I drop the mast and head to higher ground. By this time, I'm frozen so I set the mast in the up position (yes, I did look up and live), went inside the truck and set the air vents on melt. About three minutes later, I figure the mast should be up so I head outside and look up. The mast is only two sections up and not moving. I hear a psssssssshhhhtttt coming from the mast and I ran my hand over my eyes in frustration. This is air escaping because the seals have constricted because of the cold and the mast has frozen.

I was so fed up at this point, I muttered a few choice four and twelve letter words and climbed up on the top of the truck and grabbed the mast in a bear hug and tried to lift the mast out of it's frozen grip. I couldn't make it budge but I did succeed in covering myself in the grime of northeastern Ohio's finest road salt residue. I couldn't get the mast up to get a signal tuned in. I was left standing there dejected, looking like a human salt lick.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quick Wrap Up

Snow, snow, snow. It's been piled on us here in Northeastern Ohio. I've got at least 27 inches of snow in my front yard. My neighbor a few doors down used his Bobcat front loader to clear our the driveways on our road. The man is a saint.

Yesterday, I fought 20 m.p.h. winds which were blowing snow so badly that is was a white out my whole entire drive to my live shot about 35 miles away from Cleveland. It was especially fun trying to get a shot tuned in, in such wonderful weather.

Alternating shots outside of the nature center where our shot was located and inside the nature center was an effort in futility. Outside, the camera was functioning well in the cold. But take it inside, it fogged up no matter how much I tried to defog it. I finally would get it to where it looked ok when I'd have to take it outside again. Then back get the idea.

It was a good day though. Why? Because I had a black bear cub nuzzle up against me and lick my hand.

Today, we were at these toboggan chutes in one of Cleveland's Metroparks. It was great. Of course I'm not counting every single time our signal was interrupted by another station's signal.

Plus, the cold. At 5am it was -3 outside with a windchill of -15. I have heavy duty gloves but I needed to have my right hand free to work the zoom and iris on the camera. I put a thinner glove on and did the shot. It worked out well. I was able to operate the cameras controls. But I would up getting a slight frostbite burn on my right hand. My right thumb still throbs and burns.

Tomorrow, barring any huge spot news story, we'll be live at the Kalahari Waterpark Resort in Sandusky, OH.

Hmm...the low is supposed to be 4 above zero tomorrow night. And I'll be inside where it's climate controlled, nice and toasty.

All in the line of duty I guess. I'll take one for the team.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I Didn't Give You Permission!!

It's happened again. Another photog has been assaulted in the field, this time by an off duty Cleveland police officer. One of our photogs, Channel 3 videographer Craig Roberson was shooting a story with his reporter Lydia Esparra on Cleveland school kids behavior at Tower City when they were invited to shoot video inside a store at the mall. Perfectly ok for the store to do.

Two off duty officers saw the crew inside and confirmed that the crew was indeed invited in and that was deemed ok with the officers. A third officer showed up and uttered the above title of this post. He then proceeded to grab the camera and shove it to the ground, damaging the camera and injuring Craig in the process.

Here is the link to the story with video goodness.

Then afterwards a Tower City PR hack shows up and puts her hand over the camera and tells Craig that what happened to him, didn't really happen to him.


Craig kept his cool through out the whole situation. I have to say that I'm really impressed with his calm demeanor. There is no word on what Craig or the station will do about seeking charges or an apology from the Cleveland Police Department or Tower City.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lady(ies) In Red

Being sent to shoot a breakfast meeting is usually boring event. It's usually a few speeches, a half hour of down time while breakfast is being served and eaten(which you're usually never given a plate), then the main speaker. Usually something to be sprayed and forgotten. Until yesterday.

All I have to say is 800 women dressed in red.

Hummunna hummunnna hummunna...

Well Let's See

A couple of days ago I'm sent to a car into a building. I get to the scene and there is a car on it's side and about twenty of Cleveland's fire department members around it. They're busy setting up the jaws of life to extract two victims out of the mangled mess of steel, plastic and aluminum.

From what we were hearing on the police radio, they weren't expecting any survivors of this accident. But, lo and behold inside that heap of scrap metal formerly known as a Toyota, were two people. After about twenty minutes, both of the victims are extracted and off to a Level 1 trauma hospital.

I always am amazed at work of any fire department or paramedic unit when they get to an accident. They work so hard and fast to get those people out and save a life. They're in the job of saving lives and damned if they don't do it almost one hundred percent of the time.